Matt Eddy: Happy Hot Sheet everybody. Welcome to the first installment of the year, and the first chat.
Dave (Queens): Brandon Nimmo has gotten off to a hot start and has continued his trend from last year of taking a ton of walks - do you see his possible profile as similar to Shin Soo-Choo; decent avg, high obp, 20 hr power, decent speed, can fake it in center?
Matt Eddy: It’s easy to forget how tooled-up Choo was as a Mariners prospect, but he swiped 40 bases and hit 15 HR as a 21-year-old in a pitcher’s park at Double-A San Antonio in 2004. This is Nimmo’s age-21 season at High-A St. Lucie, and while I think he has a strong batting eye, decent speed and at least average power, I don’t think he has Choo’s ceiling. I’m thinking maybe somewhere between Ryan Sweeney and Will Venable, perhaps. A perfectly acceptable starting RF.
Eddie (Missouri): Do you think Maikel Franco can play 3rd base in the majors? If not do you see him being traded as Howard is at 1st base for the foreseeable future with Ruf as a potential backup to Howard.
Matt Eddy: Yes, Franco can play third base in the majors. His range and quickness are bottom of the scale, but he has good hands and a terrific arm, and for many, sure-handedness is more important at the hot corner. Plus, good defensive positioning will obscure his shortcomings. If Franco hits at Triple-A, I bet it will be Asche and Ruf who are looking for new positions. I doubt the Phillies would trade Franco, unless it’s for another prospect at a position of need.
Andy (North Carolina): Has anyone seen Courtney Hawkins enough this season to be able to say whether his fast start is for real? is he "fixed"?
Matt Eddy: Wait and see, but the early signs are encouraging. He’s still striking out a quarter of the time, but he’s paying off the whiffs with plus power, which will be his ticket to the majors.
Ryan (Baltimore): I know it's only 3-1/3 innings, but Ken Giles has certainly started off strong. SSS, or has he actually shown signs of harnessing his stuff?
Matt Eddy: I noticed Phillies Double-A RH reliever Kenny Giles in the stat sheet this morning and I agree that he’s off to an encouraging start. Of the 10 outs he’s recorded, nine are by strikeout, plus he’s allowed only one hit and one walk. The Arizona Fall League’s hardest thrower last year, he could rocket to the majors if he keeps up this pace.
Nate (Maryland): I get that Ernesto Mejia is old, but what does being behind Freddie Freeman have to do with his inclusion on the hot sheet?
Matt Eddy: The point I tried to make was that even if Mejia again hits 25+ HR at Gwinnett, he’s in the wrong organization to get a big league look because the Braves have an MVP candidate at first base. Much like the situation Neftali Soto has faced with the Reds. That wouldn’t be true in every org.
Cal Guy (Cal): Stephenson, Giolito, and Sanchez are all off to good starts to the season. Who do you think goes on to have the best career?
Matt Eddy: I think I’d take Stephenson, though I’d love to study the issue more. If you grade the stuff as more or less equal, Stephenson has three things going for him: 1. he ranks highest on the Top 100 Prospects, 2. he has a clean bill of health with no injury trouble to date, and 3. he’s advanced rapidly in tje minors without missing a beat.
Bren (Pearl River, NY): Do you think Akeel Morris has any chance to start, or has he find his niche as a big bullpen arm?
Matt Eddy: If he keeps pitching like this, it will be hard to resist the temptation of trying to start him. Be warned, though, Morris walked 6.1 per nine as a mostly-starter in two years at Rookie-level Kingsport.
Peter (Toronto): Did Piscotty's lack of power keep him off the list or just not enough slots to go around. Thanks
Matt Eddy: He had a strong week at Triple-A Memphis, batting .414 with 3 2B, 3 BB, 1 SB and 8 RBIs. Only a numbers game kept him out of the top 20, but you could make a strong case for his inclusion.
Brian (Ohio): What do you think about Trevor Story's hot start, and will Rosell Herrera ever seem time at SS in Modesto with Story there, or is his move to 3rd permanent?
Matt Eddy: Rockies SS Trevor Story has hit .400 with 6 2B, 1 3B and 1 HR at High-A Modesto, but he also hasn’t improved his contract rate (37 SO%), which will be a problem when he’s not hitting every ball for extra bases.
Tyler (Nj): Trevor may back on track after a good debut or 2 early?
Matt Eddy: I assume you’re asking about Trevor Bauer . . . Yes, he looked sharp in his big league start versus the Padres. He hit 94-95 mph multiple time in the 6th inning of that start and got Yasmani Grandal, the final batter he faced, to swing through two fastballs for a strikeout. Impressive. If he continues to trust and locate a fastball of that caliber, then Bauer’s secondary pitches will be deadly. I haven’t been this encouraged about his future since the first half of 2012.
Matt (MA): If 2B is Betts best position for the majors what would be the second best option? SS? CF?
Matt Eddy: I think that, historically, most converted second basemen move to third base or left/center field. I would expect the Red Sox to explore LF first given their depth at the other positions.
Tyler (Nj): Does joc pederson really have the potential of say cargo or cano as don mattingly said early this spring ?
Matt Eddy: The statistical profile doesn’t quite match up—Pederson has a much more disciplined approach than the young Carlos Gonzalez did—but in terms of wide-ranging skills and sweet lefty stroke, yes the comparison holds water.
Shawn (Manitowoc, WI): If Tyrone Taylor's doubles start going over the fence on a more consistent basis, what kind of player can Brewer fans be looking at. His profile seems to remind a lot of a guy like Joc Pederson.
Matt Eddy: The Florida State League is such a tough environment for young hitters with power that I thought Taylor’s week was one of the most impressive, with 7 2B, a 4/3 BB/SO ratio and plenty of hard contact. I see what you’re going for by invoking Pederson, but I’d prefer to find a RH-hitting comp.
John (Boston): Hey Matt,who out of this group who will be up by June 1st....Eddie Butler....Spinger....Lindor....Jon Gray....A.Bradley....Aaron Sanchez...thanks!!!!
Matt Eddy: Assuming they play well at Triple-A, I’d feel most confident about Springer and Bradley being up with the Astros and D-backs by June 1. I expect we’ll see the Rockies stud RHPs at some point, but June 1 might be early.
Brian (Philadelphia): Rafael de Paula was the recipient of praise from multiple sites midway through last season (around the time of his promotion). He wasn't on any preseason top 100s and hasn't been mentioned by anyone recently. What gives? Did the stuff change? Was he old for Hi-A and feasting on younger players? Thanks.
Matt Eddy: We were a little overheated about De Paula last year, I believe now. His success at Low-A Charleston stemmed from, yes, his advantage as an older player, but following a promotion to High-A Tampa he didn’t have the refined secondary pitches to keep older batters off his fastball.
Pete (Toronto): Is Dwight Smith Jr. too slow to stay in centre? (He's had good stolen base numbers so far in his career.)
Matt Eddy: If a prospect isn’t at least a 60 runner, then he’s too slow to play center for many scouts. That’s the case with Smith, who can handle CF if needed but is more of an average runner.
Tyler (Nj): Seems like hunter renfroe has the potietial to b a nice power bat n could hit for a decent average in the show. But he continues to struggle with plate discipline. Is that all he has to improve on offensively?
Matt Eddy: Plate discipline will determine whether 2013 first-rounder Hunter Renfroe’s power will play as he moves up, but 16 SO and 3 BB in 8 games would be tough for any batter to overcome.
Joseph (Las Vegas): Was Micah Johnson close? I thought he had an impressive week. Thanks
Matt Eddy: The defending minor league stolen-base champ had a nice week (.296 with 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR and 1 SB) but not a separating one when compared with top performers from the 119 other minor league clubs.
Mike (New Jersey): Can C.J. Cron help the Angels this year?
Matt Eddy: Possibly as an injury replacement for Pujols or Ibanez, but otherwise as a 1B/DH only player, Cron doesn’t really bring the versatility required to be a bench/complementary player in the context of the 21st Century big league roster. The Angels carry 12 pitchers, leaving them just three non-catcher bench spots, which they’ve devoted to a utility INF (John McDonald), a fourth OF (Collin Cowgill) and a power lefty bat and possible 3B platoon option (Ian Stewart). Cron doesn’t check any of those boxes, so if he’s getting called up, he’s starting, and that requires an injury to Pujols or Ibanez.
Jon (Toronto, Canada): How worried are you about Blake Swihart's lack of HRs?
Matt Eddy: Somewhat, because teams definitely prioritize power at the catcher position today (at least among starters). But Swihart has such good feel for the strike zone and feel to hit that I wouldn’t rule out a huge leap forward in the power department once he gets settled in the majors.
Neufeldt (New Berlin, WI): Who's up first? Montero or syndegard?
Matt Eddy: I think it’s Montero, who is throwing the ball very well, has more Triple-A experience and has built up his innings count moreso than Syndergaard.
JP (Tkts): Who do we see in MLB first, Gregory Polanco or Archie Bradley?
Matt Eddy: Travis Snider has a couple homers and a serviceable .333 OBP as the Pirates’ RF, while the D-backs just signed Randy Wolf to a minor league deal to provide depth. If we read the tea leaves, Given that, plus the fact that he could be one pitcher injury away from a promotion to Arizona, I’d say Bradley is closer.
Gregory Polanco (Indianapolis, IN): What did I do wrong?
Matt Eddy: Extra experience facing crafty Triple-A pitchers never hurt anybody, but of course every organization is mindful of one number over all others when it comes to prospects: 172. That’s the number of days that constitute a full season of service time. So long as Polanco logs anything fewer than 172 days this year, then he’ll finish the 2014 season with less than one year of service. Therefore, the Pirates retain his rights through 2020, instead of 2019.
Matt Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. Stay tuned for another Hot Sheet chat next Friday.