MJ (Valpo): How do you think Odor will fare during his call-up? Is there only until Profar returns? And, who has a bigger MLB future of the two?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi folks. Let’s start off with a question about the Rangers’ top prospect. I could not—no one could—definitively predict Odor’s production. Look at George Springer, for example, who was performing well before his callup. What I can say is that Odor will be given the chance to play. Ron Washington said Odor will get the bulk of the starts at second base (4-5 a week). As for Profar, he’s not to the point of extended spring games yet, so it’s unfair to try and predict this season, let alone a long-term future.
Greg T. (Twin Cities): Why are the Cardinals bringing up Joey Butler (and Grichuk earlier), when they have two far superior hitters/players in Taveras and Piscotty???
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Greg, It’s simply a matter of playing time. Meaning, what’s available vs. what the team wants those players to have. The Cardinals have a backlog of outfielders in the majors, Triple-A and Double-A. At this point, they want Taveras to get “a lot” more time in center field, in GM John Mozeliak’s words, before he’s considered for a callup. Butler’s already 28 and profiles as an extra outfielder, so playing time is not an issue. Grichuk was hitting well at the time of his recall, and with Bourjos struggling, it was an easy decision to give him time. He’s far more experienced, Grichuk, at this stage than Taveras, whose injuries issues have limited his time.
Mikey (NYC): I thought Dominic Smith was a lock for this week's list. Why didn't he make it?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Dominic Smith was a very close call for Hot Sheet status. He had a wonderful week (.524/.619/.615) but it was largely built on singles. When we’re creating the final Hot Sheet, we tend toward Runs Created, the Bill James-created metric that estimates the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team. If we used total bases, in fact, Smith might have fallen just short as well.
Vic (Beantown): How does Wendell Rijo not even make the "team photo?" 10-23...3 2B, 1 3B, 5 BB, 2 SB...all this as an 18 YO in full-season ball?!?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hey Vic, Rijo was another close call. He was one of the final cuts, in fact. He nearly made it into all three categories (Hot Sheet, In The Team Photo and then Helium) at one point or another, but it was a very good week for hitters. Largely, there are many factors to be considered: Runs Created, relative prospect status overall, age, age relative to league, proximity to majors. Also, it’s subjective, as is everything.
Fred (Brooklyn): The Yanks' Kyle Roller is putting up some hefty numbers in Trenton thus far (albeit a small sample). What's the scouting report on him?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hey Fred, Roller’s not a prospect, but a question from Brooklyn I’ll never turn down. His numbers are great, but he’s a year-and-a-half older than his EL brethren on average, prior to his promotion to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre last night. Still, his prospect sheen is off.
Tatum (Fremont, CA): What are the Indians waiting on to call up Bauer? Who is a better pitching prospect right now in AAA across the board than Bauer, he is flat out performing. Thanks
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Tatum, I think we all agree on Bauer, given that he makes BA’s Prospect Hot Sheet, Top 10 Fantasy Prospects and Minor League Roundup each week. He’s throwing well (94-98, according to reports), has matured and has polished his control. His callup to the majors is imminent, it would appear.
Jim L. (Madison, WI): What will have to happen for the two most prominent blocked minor league players [Joc Pederson and Mookie Betts] to be called up to the majors? Any chance they are traded?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Jim, I think we tried to answer this question yesterday in relation to Pederson in our Top 10 Fantasy Prospects list. Short of injuries to two of Yaisel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford or more unlikely, a trade, Pederson seems stuck at Albuquerque for now. The Dodgers would be loathe to keep him in a fourth-outfielder role, even if one of those high-paid people were to get hurt. Betts is in a different situation, in that although he’s stuck, he’s still at Double-A, rather than Triple-A with Pederson. The urgency, from a Red Sox perspective, isn’t there to move Betts, either to a new position or to Boston, right now. He remains a golden goose of a trade chip, though, if ever the Sox wanted to go that way.
Louie (Newark, NJ): When are the Mets going to give Vic Black a chance at the closer role in Queens? Farnsworth and Valverde have both stunk it up.
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Louie. Interesting that you bring up Black. The New York Daily News on Thursday, I believe, noted that Black had recently replaced Jeff Walters as the closer in Las Vegas and quoted Wally Backman as saying Black was “really making progress.” Control was an issue during his trials in spring and the fact he hasn’t walked a batter his past four appearances bodes well for his future.
Kris Bryant (Tennessee): Is it possible you see me smashing bombs in Wrigley by the end of the year/Is it possible I'm up before my fellow bash brother Baez?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Kris. Thought you’d be busy knocking over fences right now. So, we’ve got two distinct but not entirely unrelated questions here. While it’d be neat to see Bryant aim for Waveland and Kenmore when he comes to the plate, again, there’s no urgency for the team right now. Remember, Bryant’s just a year removed from the University of San Diego, with just 36 games as a pro to his name before 2014. So, long answer short, not this year. I think the Cubs would have loved for Baez to take the second base job by the throat, but injuries and under-performance have slowed his roll, so to speak.
Grant (Birmingham, AL): Is Jake Thompson for real? He hasn't gotten near the hype he deserves feels like the same way James Shields wasn't hyped up during his minor league campaign.
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: As with Bauer, we’re big Thompson fans. BA’s teeming with talk of hard-throwing Texans (Tyler Kolek, most prominently) right now as the draft approaches. Thompson doesn’t have Kolek’s raw fire, but his low-90s fastball and solid command make him a decent bet. He’s also very young for even High Class A and he’s dominated thus far.
Mike (Detroit): Is Ben Lively the biggest surprise of the Minor League season? 6-0, 0.63 ERA, 54-3 (!!!) strikeout-to-walk ratio in 42 innings. Those are video-game numbers! Plus, he's doing it in the "hitter friendly" California League. Is this kid for real? Is he an early-season BA MILB Player of the Year candidate?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Mike. I’m not certain Lively’s a surprise. He did pitch very well at Rookie-level Billings last season, belying an 0-3 record. He gave up just 21 hits in 37 IP and had a 49/12 SO/BB mark, so he wasn’t chopped liver. Even as a college pitcher, he’s young for High A ball and, as you said, he’s straight-up Sega-ing batters. (I could have used an Intellivision reference, but you get the point). Yep, he’s good.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Rinku Singh is not on the prospect hot sheet, but is hot due to the movie Million Dollar Arm - what is his status?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hi Karl, Glad you brought up Singh, as he and Dinesh Patel are part of an article in the upcoming issue of Baseball America. We’ll have a story on ‘Million Dollar Arm.’ Singh is recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2012 and had a bone chip removed from his elbow just a few weeks back. He had a surprisingly effective season in 2012, but his future is unclear.
Hank (Peach Grove): Can we finally call Jason Heyward a bust? Does BA have any regrets about how much they hyped this guy?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: The short answer to both questions is no. He won’t be 25 until Aug. 9 and his career OPS is .782 with an OPS Plus of 112. He’s also signed to a very reasonable contract through 2015, so he’s likely staying put.
Mossy (Beavercreek): How much are you buying into Joey Gallo's improved batting average?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I would say Josh Norris and J.J. Cooper, who saw Gallo this week, are very much in buy-mode. If you watch our instructive Scout’s Video View, you would buy in as well. One scout likens Gallo to “watching Chris Davis all over again,” and points out his massive hip torque and improve pitch recognition. I’d say go watch the Scout’s Video View and let me know.
Steve (West Chester): 2B question -- Who has the better bat for the future: Schoop or Betts?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: This is a fun question and a good one to end on. Schoop’s in the majors, so you’d expect his numbers to be not as good as Betts’ in Double-A. But the plate discipline, or lack of it, is alarming. Unless Schoop can improve his pitch recognition and ability to make contact, I would take Betts in a minute.
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Thanks everyone for your questions. I appreciate your willingness to spend some time. Please come back for all of our chats.