Baseball America

Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With J.J. Cooper

Moderator: J.J. Cooper will chat about prospects beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

    Mark Cohoon (savannah,ga): hey I know I dont have a sexy fastball or anything. But two nine inning shutouts in a week
    and I cant even get on your list. What gives???

J.J. Cooper: We took a nice long look at Mr. Cohoon this week. And if we had the time to work up a Man Among Boys (sorry, the draft+some vacation time meant we had to cut it to get this to you on time), Cohoon was an excellent candidate. But for the actual Hot Sheet, the fact that Cohoon, a 2008 college draftee, spent significant time in the Sally League in 2008 (and was pretty good that year) works against him. The Mets do treat their Brooklyn club like an equivalent of
the Sally League, but Cohoon’s career track (success in the Sally League in ’08, dominance in the NYP League in ’09 and back to the Sally League in ’10) is puzzling.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): JJ, if Wil Myers ends up topping Michael Moustakas' Midwest League numbers, how would that propel him in next springs top 100 list? After Moustakas' big 2008 season in the Midwest League, he shot up all the way to #13 on the 2009 Top 100 list. Could we see a similar boost in prospect status for Myers?

J.J. Cooper: I wouldn’t go that high, at least yet, for
a couple of reasons. 1) Moustakas was thought of as the top high school
bat in the ’07 draft and his ’08 season reinforced that though. Myers was thought of as a first-round bat coming into the ’09 draft, but he was not considered his draft’s top h.s. bat, so he has further to come to get to that spot. 2) Position questions. Myers has a good ways to go to stick at catcher. Moustakas as the time was thought of as a SS who would make a solid big league 3B. With Myers, if he’s not a catcher, does he end up an outfielder? But all that being said, Myers is doing a lot to reinforce his status as one of the better young bats in the game,
and it he keeps this up he will fit nicely in the middle or better of the Top 100.

    mets fan (savannah,ga): why do you hate the Mets???

J.J. Cooper: No. But part of what determines who makes the Hot Sheet is prospect status. Three Savannah pitchers are doing very
well. But Cohoon is repeating the league (7 starts in 2008) as a third-year pro coming out of college. Moore is a 24-year-old collegian who’s also in his third pro season and Fuller, 23, is also a third-year pro. Age/experience works into the decision making on who makes the Hot Sheet. Logically all three of those pitchers would be age appropriate to
be in high Class A or better, which makes it hard for them to make the Hot Sheet by dominating low Class A.

    Ike (OH): Any love for John Lamb? He's quietly becoming one of KC's best young arms.

J.J. Cooper: Love some John Lamb. I’ve heard at least one pro scout suggest that when it’s all said and done he could be the best pitcher out of the Royals’ crop of pitching prospects. I wouldn’t go that far myself—Mike Montgomery’s stuff is simply too filthy for me to not rate him No. 1—but Lamb is very, very good. He really knows how to pitch, carries a veteran mentality as a 19-year-old in high Class A and has good stuff to go with it.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): JJ, has there been any
    reports on when Casey Crosby, Jason Knapp, or Dellin Betances will start pitching again?

J.J. Cooper: Betances is back. He threw well for Tampa last night. Crosby is throwing a simulated game on Saturday and if all goes well could be in Lakeland before the month is over. Sorry I don’t have an update on Knapp.

    Nate (Washuta): Is there a better rotation in the minors than myrtle beach right now?

J.J. Cooper: No. Especially now that Vizcaino has joined Teheran, Delgado and Hoover. That’s four legit prospects, two of which are in the discussion for best pitching prospect left in the minors.

    Avery (Walnut Creek): How would you reorder the
    3B from '09 Top 100? (Alvarez, Chisenhall, Bell, Vitters, Moustakas)

J.J. Cooper: Hmmmmmm….paper-thin difference between the top three, but I’d go Moustakas-Alvarez-Chisenhall at the top, decent drop-off to Vitters then Bell. If you argued Chisenhall or Alvarez No. 1 I could see where you’re coming from. Moustakas’ bad 2009 has to be factored in there and the concerns about whether he’ll stick at the position for the next decade (a similar concern can be raised about Alvarez). But doing what Moustakas is doing in the Texas League as
a 21-year-old seems to reinforce what everyone thought about him coming
out of high school, the bat can be pretty special.

    Butter (TN): Thoughts on Kyle Russell. Success related to advanced age at lower level or is this guy for real. Reminds
    me of Adam Dunn and I worry about his K numbers at higher levels.

J.J. Cooper: I worry a lot about his strikeout numbers,
especially because the reinforce the big concern on him for years. Even
when he was at Texas, he has the big-time pop, but the worry was that his swing wouldn’t play well at the highest levels of the minors and the
majors. That explains why he went back to Texas as a junior despite having a sophomore season that was insanely good. The number of guys who
can succeed in the majors while striking out in 30 percent of their at-bats is very, very small. If you look at Russell’s strikeout rate, it’s actually significantly worse than Dunn’s was in the minors. Russel has struck out in 36 percent of his minor league at-bats. Dunn struck out in 22 percent of his ABs in the minors.

    Eric K (Chicago): Is there anything Wil Myers is doing well defensively or is it inevitable that KC moves him out from
    behind the plate?

J.J. Cooper: It’s not inevitable that he will be moved from behind the plate, but it will take some patience. If he keeps progressing like he’s been doing, Myers’ bat will likely be ready before
his glove. Do you keep him down in the minors until the glove’s ready? For now there’s not really a reason to move him off of catcher, and it’s
clearly not hurting his development at the plate. But speaking of catcher, do pay attention to Salvador Perez a level above Myers. He’s very good defensively and is having a solid year at the plate as one of the youngest players in the CL.

    DON (DUBLIN, GA): The Braves Top 10 prospects will be a challenge in the offseason...In particular I am curious as to what you guys will project for the rotation in 2013...How would you rank
    our Top 5 pitching prospects right now?

J.J. Cooper: I’d say Teheran-Vizcaion-Minor-Delgado-Hoover in that order (sorry Craig Kimbrel).

    Timmy L. (San Francisco): Am I way off with a Brandon Belt/Ike Davis comp? This guy needs to make the move to AA.

J.J. Cooper: Yeah that’s a stretch. Belt doesn’t have Davis’ power. He’s more of a high-average guy who hit a number of doubles. But Belt is making a nice argument to move to Double-A.

    William (Dallas, TX): Does Blake Beaven have a chance to break the Texas Rotation in 2011?

J.J. Cooper: A lot of that depends on what the Rangers decide to do with Neftali Feliz. Does he stay in the pen or move back into the rotation? If Feliz stays in the pen, Beavan becomes a nice option for the rotation next year, but even then he’s got a lot of competition for that job from Michael Kirkman.

    PAUL (SEATTLE): Besides the obvious mike trout and mike leake, is there anyone from this past years draft that you have
    been really empressed with?

J.J. Cooper: From the obvious category that Strasburg guy also has been pretty good, but then you knew that. Nick Franklin, Mike Minor and Kyle Gibson are three that have stood out to me. Franklin
because he’s shown more power and bat than I expected. Minor because his velo has jumped a tick higher which really changes the perception of
him as a prospect and Gibson because he’s shown he’s healthy and can just mow down lineups with his heavy stuff. Digging deeper Wil Myers has
shown why the Royals paid him $2 million as a third-rounder and Brandon
Belt looks like a very nice $200,0000 for a fifth-round pick. With Belt, he’s managed to retool his swing to be much more conventional which gives him a better chance of wood bat success.

    Below average Steve (Pennsylvania): Frequent Prospect Hot Sheet honoree, Carlos Santana was called up today. What do you project his 2010 major league totals to be for - at bats, batting average, home runs and runs batted in?

J.J. Cooper: Yeah this is just a wild guess, but if you
told me he was .270/.340/.420 this year I think the Indians would be quite happy.

    Billy (Brandywine, MD): All four Reds minor league teams are currently in last place. Mesoraco hasn't exactly shined since his promotion to AA, and other than a few fringe prospects (Sappelt and Valaika come to mind) none of the hitters have shown much this season. The pitching prospects have been better, but there doesn't
    appear to be a much talent at the lower levels. Should the Reds be "betting the farm" that this is their year? Is the future as bleak as it appears, or are there good prospects having bad years?

J.J. Cooper: The Reds’ farm system talent takes a significant drop once you get below Triple-A. But there is a reasonable explanation for that. Last year’s No. 1 pick, Mike Leake, is starring in
the big leagues—it won’t help their farm system ranking, but it’s helping them win games. Their 2008 third-rounder Zach Stewart, was traded away to get Scott Rolen (they didn’t have a second-round pick that year).Two of their top three picks in the 2007 draft are in Triple-A. So if you look at the top talents in the Reds’ system from the
past three drafts, most of them are either in the big leagues, have been traded away or are in Triple-A. The big league club now has young home-grown players at C, 1B, RF, CF and LF (at times) as well as three-fifths of the rotation, so while there isn’t much help at Class A or Double-A, there also aren’t a whole lot of upcoming needs. The Reds have no reason not to dangle Yonder Alonso/Juan Francisco/Todd Frazier if they can swing a deal to help their playoff chances this year, especially because the majority of players on the big league club will be back next year already, which means those guys are likely blocked anyway.

    Michael (Cary NC): So what did Jonathan Singleton do this week that stood out more than the past few weeks? Statistically this wasn't his strongest week at all, and could probably argued as his weakest. Is he now considered a "prospect" by BA standards
    and not just a 'flash in the pan'?

J.J. Cooper: He’s a definite prospect, but he was considered a prospect before the season began. If we did the Phillies’ top 10 right now, he’d be near the top of the list, moving up from the No. 20 spot he held before the season (which was a pretty aggressive ranking for a eighth-round pick who had only played in the GCL). Give the Phillies’ scouting staff some credit they got Brody Colvin and Jonathan Singleton last year with their seventh and eighth-round picks and spent $1.1 million combined to sign the two of them.

    Nyal (New York City): With the display that Stephen Strasburg put on in his 1st major league start, would you reconsider ranking him as the second best prospect behind Heyward? Albeit it was the Pirates but you have to admit that stuff would dominate any team. With 4 brilliant, knee buckling, eye popping, ump fooling pitches, how could something so rare and so dominating be 2nd best?

J.J. Cooper: Because it’s like arguing would you rather
have the Beatles or the Rolling Stones play at your wedding—you’re set
either way. Strasburg and Heyward were No. 1 and No. 1A. And now Strasburg is instantly the Nationals’ best starting pitcher (and a potential franchise saviour) while Heyward is simply the best player on the NL East’s first-place team as a 20-year-old. You’re not going to be wrong picking either one of them No. 1, but they’re both very, very special players.

    Michael Pineda (seattle): JJ, I'm having a great season so far at a young age in AA no less, I have the wins, the ERA, and the strikeouts, why can't I get any props?

J.J. Cooper: We did give Pineda props. He was 11th on our May 7th Hot Sheet. The problem he’s had since then is he’s been consistently very good when other less consistent guys have had dominating weeks. We do look at what a guy has done in previous weeks, but putting up the big numbers this week is the biggest factor in making
the Hot Sheet. Pineda has been very good, but he’s allowed at least one
run in each of his past six starts. The last time he threw up a zero in
runs allowed, we gave him a spot on the Sheet. But he’s a very solid prospect with excellent upside.

    Dan (Work): I know he got his age situation straightened out, but I can't seem to find where Yorman Rodriguez is playing right now? And one other quick question, what major leaguer does
    he compare to, thanks.

J.J. Cooper: He’s not. He’s in extended spring training. The Reds had talked about sending him to the Midwest League but he was held back by a minor injury. I’d expect to see him back in Billings when their season opens up.

    Mike (Eagan, MN): Who might be some of the early candidates for #1 overall prospect in 2011? Most of BA's 2010 top-15 will have "graduated" to the bigs, and those who didn't don't seem to have much production right now—Montero, Jennings, Ackley, i.e.
    Thanks for chatting!

J.J. Cooper: We’ve been talking about that around the office. There has been a mass defection of talent in the past couple of weeks now that the Super 2 deadline has passed. The three you mentioned are still in the discussion and I’d add to that Domonic Brown, Mike Montgomery, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino and even Mike Trout. And before I get bombarded with 20 more guys who could be included with those, there are a number of other candidates. The reality is that after
the last wave got promoted there is no clear No. 1s like Heyward and Strasburg were before the season—seven of our preseason Top 10 are now in the big leagues.

    Sean (Boston): Teheran or Delgado...who you pick? I like Delgado's 3 pitch mix and control more myself, but I guess I
    can see the love for Teheran's fastball.

J.J. Cooper: I’ll take Teheran. But if you argued Vizcaino over Teheran I’d at least listen to the argument—Vizcaino’s stuff is sick and he has excellent control for his age.

    jbrekel (new orleans): going back to last week's list. Where do you feel jake mcgee's position ends up (sp, rp, or
    closer)? Do you think he can regain his pre injury ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: For now it’s hard not to see him as a reliever with the Rays. Unless the Rays go to a seven-man rotation there
just isn’t any spot opening up in the rotation. Jeremy Hellickson is as
ready as a turkey whose pop-up timer has popped, but he can’t find a spot in the rotation. So it makes sense to slide McGee into the bullpen as some high-octane heat for the 7th-8th inning.

    spencer (Baltimore): do you think the braves will use some of its prospects to get another outfielder, at the trade deadline?

J.J. Cooper: Whether it’s an outfielder or something else, if the Braves are in it in a month (and it looks like they will be) they have the perfect set of trading chips—young, talented pitching.

J.J. Cooper: I’ve got to wrap this up to finish up some
other things before heading off to watch some Super Regional action. Thanks for all the questions.

Minors | #2010 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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