Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With JJ Cooper

Moderator: JJ Cooper will answer your Hot Sheet and other prospect questions beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

    Michael B. (Kansas City): J.J., is it time to become worried about Cheslor Cuthbert? It's been almost a full calendar year since he's consistently performed well. What are your thoughts?

J.J. Cooper: Hey guys, I’m jumping in a little early today. Yes. You have to be concerned because he’s not doing anything particularly well right now. Wilmington is a tough place to hit, but Cuthbert has been just as bad on the road. I still like him as a prospect, but not as much as I did coming into the season.

    Brian (Greensboro, NC): What is your take on Teheran this year? Not as dominating but is supposed to be working on his off-speed stuff. Has the shine fell off his star or since he is still 21, a high ceiling still exists?

J.J. Cooper: The early chat theme here is prospects who
are backing up. At this time last year, Teheran was arguably the best pitching prospect in the minors. Right now, he’d struggle to be in the top five. His fastball velocity hasn’t diminished much, but he’s not showing the same life on his fastball. Everything appears to be a little
more hittable than it was a year ago. He’s 21 so yes, the ceiling still
remains, but he’s further from reaching it now than he was a year ago.

    daniel (washington): JJ, do you think Bryce Harper gets unnecessary flack for a hit-tool that supposedly only projects to be average or slightly above? Several "prospect expert" publications have said he would rack up strikeouts in abundance even in the prime of his career and would top out as a .280 hitter, yet here he is as a 19 year old in the big leagues with only 25 strikeouts in 153 PA's and a triple slash of .276/.359/.500. Is this a case of an elite prospect being too heavily scrutinized?

J.J. Cooper: Maybe a little too much scrutiny there, but there were scouts saying that. Along those lines, I’ve been saying for years that Harper doesn’t necessarily have bad makeup because he’s liked by his teammates and hated by his opponents, which seems to be the
case now, doesn’t it? We had Harper’s hit tool rated as a 60 in our Prospect Handbook, maybe we were a little light on that as well.

    Cy (Western Mass.): Free Bubba!
    Un-cage Starling!
    Seriously J.J., when will we see the phenom?

J.J. Cooper: Apparently with the Burlington (Appy League) Royals in the near future. We will be making multiple trips to see him with him being 30 minutes down the road.

    Jake (KC): He may not qualify for next year, but Wil Myers has to be in the conversation with Bunday and Profar for #1 prospect in the minors, right?

J.J. Cooper: In the conversation, but give me Bundy.

    JB (Iowa): Is Baez already a better hitter than Vitters?

J.J. Cooper: As in if you put both in the big leagues right now? No. I think Vitters would hit significantly better than Baez if you put them both in the big leagues. The difference in quality of competition from low A to Triple-A is massive. In low A, if a pitcher misses with his first two pitches, you can feel quite comfortable you’re
seeing a fastball. In Triple-A, you can’t be sure. In low Class A, most
pitchers are only capable of consistently locating to one side of the plate. In Triple-A, almost everyone can work armside and gloveside.

    Roger V. (NJ): Hey J.J. thanks for the chat. Would you consider Jose Fernandez one of the top 5 pitchers in the minors right now? And if so, who are the other 4 and in what order do they fall? Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: The pitching talent in the minors right now is insane. The hitting talent is solid, but not spectacular, but not
even counting new draftees, for the top pitching prospects in the minors here are just some of the names you have to consider: Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, Trevor Bauer, Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Matt Barnes, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Zach Wheeler, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Skaggs.

Now, before I get @jjcoop36 filled with “You left off….” that’s just some of the guys to consider. Off the top of my head, I’d probably have Bundy, Bauer, and Walker ahead of Fernandez, but I’d consider him in the
mix for No. 4. Might not be No. 4, but no one else is clearly a big notch ahead of him.

    Greg (OH): Is it possible Billy Hamilton is stealing too many bases?

J.J. Cooper: Because of what? He’s stealing at an 84 percent clip, so he’s way past the break-even point on helping his team.

    John (Chicago): With his performance this season, would you put Wilmer Flores in your top 100?

J.J. Cooper: Not going there yes, but he’s definitely helped his prospect status.

    Mike (Orlando): How do you see Mike Olt's slash line in the majors?

J.J. Cooper: .260/.330/.500? Not a high average hitter,
but has enough pop that you can live with OK OBPs. Chance he exceeds those BA/OBP projections because pitchers fear his power enough to pitch
around him.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): A bit puzzled not to see your main man Wil Myers make an appearance this week. Can you tell us about this? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: He was close, but he had a .292 avg and a .322 OBP this week. He could have made it because of the big power numbers, but that was enough to keep him off the list.

    Ben (Columbus, OH): What's a realistic ETA in Cincinnati for Billy Hamilton? I don't want the Reds to rush his development, but the 1-2 hitters in front of Joey Votto both have sub-.300 OBPs.

J.J. Cooper: Early to mid-2014. At this time last year,
Hamilton was struggling to get above .200 in low Class A. He’s been much, much better since then, but you would rather err on the side of caution than being too aggressive. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him promoted to Double-A after the AS break. Then he could likely return to Double-A to start next year, get a midseason promotion to Triple-A (if he continues to develop) and head to spring training in 2014 with a chance to break camp with the team. That being said, I think it would be
worth the Reds while to add him to the 40-man roster to let him serve as a pinch-runner extraordinaire this September and in the playoffs if Cincy gets that far.

    Mark (Minnesota): Why, or how, did Oswaldo Arcia get missed last week?

J.J. Cooper: Because he only had 13 ABs all week. Only 4 games while everyone else was playing six or seven.

    Greg (OH): JJ I'm thinking about increased chance of injury to B Hamilton

J.J. Cooper: I wrote about that in the feature I wrote about him last month. He’s been stealing like this all of his life without missing time. In the last two years he hasn’t missed a game because of injury. I can’t be sure that’s entirely true for Billings, but he missed no significant time in Billings because of injury and his high school coach told me he never missed a game or practice because of injury in high school (same for football in high school as well). Sure injuries can happen, but Hamilton shows no signs of it causing problems for him.

    T Ham (SF): What is Mike Olt's ceiling? Who can he be compred to? Mike Schmidt a good comparison?

J.J. Cooper: I’m not going to comp him to a guy considered maybe the greatest 3B of all time, but he can be a big power, solid defense 3B.

    Jason Pennini (Boston): Can you speak to Manny Machado's recent struggles? How worried should Baltimore fans be?

J.J. Cooper: Sorry to tease this, but we’re working on a story on exactly that for next week.

    Terrance (Vancouver): With Smoral signed and the breaking news that Alford signed, along with the probability of signing Stroman and Davis, does this draft class help propel the Jays to
    the #1 system in baseball?

J.J. Cooper: Not for me…Rangers were No. 1 before the
season and their No. 1 prospect (Profar), No. 3 (Olt) and No. 6 (Buckel) are all significantly better prospect now than they were coming
into the season. Grimm and Loux are better prospects too. They’re still
the champs to me until someone dethrones them.

    Nick (Montreal): Matt Skole and Jason Martinson of the Nats are putting up terrific numbers. How would you rate them as prospects?

J.J. Cooper: As a pair of solid prospects who I’d love to see do the same thing at a level higher. Martinson’s repeating low A as a 23-year-old and Skole’s there as a 22-year-old. Both would seem in line for midseason promotions.

    Matt (Kansas): Have you seen a more up and down
    week for a prospect than Yordano Ventura this week? First he out duals Dylan Bundy then last night he can't get out of the second inning! Is his upside a #2 starter? Thanks for the chat.

J.J. Cooper: Perfect world upside? Yeah maybe. But considering his size, it’s also just as likely he ends up as a power reliever. I’ve heard scouts on both sides of that debate.

    Norman (San Jose): early to mid-2014, Billy Hamilton will be called up to play, but at what position?

J.J. Cooper: Personally I think he’s Drew Stubbs replacement in CF for the Reds.

    denis (marshall): Ben Badler pretty much wrote off Yorman Rodriguez as a prospect. What are your thoughts? Still very young with physical talent most prospects don't have.

J.J. Cooper: I’m not far behind Ben. I wrote about this
in the Prospect Handbook where I said “it’s fair to say that Rodriguez does almost nothing to help a team win at this point in his career.” Six
months later I haven’t heard anything to reallyu change that assessment. Rodriguez has had trouble staying on the field and when he has been on the field, he’s struggled to hit or field in the past year and a half. He’s still young and has impressive physical tools but he’s no longer the projected five-tool player he once was (especially with his defense) and he’s not yet shown the maturity that would let one think that he’s going to figure out how to tap into his prodigious tools.

    Rory (Mexico): Hello,

    What type of player do you see Oscar Tavares being in the majors? potential all-star or solid regular?

    Thank you,

J.J. Cooper: All-star. Few players have his feel for hit. Props to Quad Cities manager Johnny Rodriguez. He told me last year
Taveras had the best hit tool in the Cardinals farm system, well, he said either him or Patch Adams. Both those guys are looking pretty good these days.

    Michael (Chicago): Carlos Correa has been assigned to the GCL, I know numbers mean zilch at this point in his career but what kind of numbers would you expect to see from him?

J.J. Cooper: Seriously with the GCL, I really don’t care. It could be anything from .111/.111/.111 to .300/.400/.500. The list of MLB regulars with brutal GCL stats is pretty long.

    Brian (Greensboro, NC): Is Marcel Ozuna a legitimate top 100 prospect? What is his ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: Love the power, but don’t see him as a Top 100 guy. Rest of the skills aren’t there yet.

    Chris (Washington DC): With Rendon still out injured and Harper in the majors, who is the top prospect for the Nationals currently playing in the Minor Leagues?

J.J. Cooper: Wow, that’s a tough question. No obvious No. 1. I’ll cheat and say Giolito, assuming he signs.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Have you talked to a scout recently about Hamilton's defense? He has gone 14 straight games without an error now and I am curious if that is actual improvement or just a nice run. He does have crazy range at SS though, a lot of value if he can stick there.

J.J. Cooper: It’s not the hands or range that is the question. It’s the arm and the arm slot that scouts question.

    Murph (San Diego): No love for Rymer Liriano?

J.J. Cooper: He was close this week. He was in the No. 21-23 guys who just missed the list. He can hang out with Wil Myers.

Moderator: Thanks guys. It’s been a long week so we’re going to wrap this up a little early.

Minors | #2012 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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