Prospects Chat: Matt Eddy and J.J. Cooper

Moderator: Matt Eddy will answer prospect questions beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

Moderator: Hi folks, let’s get started.

    Ben (Leland Grove): PLEASE explain this - I'm
    curious why Matt Maloney didn't get any love this week? A complete game
    3-hitter with 9 K's isn't noteworthy?

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. I’ll join in the chat as
well. Maloney very easily could have made this week’s list. I’ll be
fascinated to see how he does on Saturday when he gets his first big
league start. Maloney is one of those pitchers who has always managed
to get strikeouts despite only average stuff, and his 58-9 K-BB ratio
this year is outstanding. The concern has been that his average stuff
doesn’t give him much margin for error at the big league level, but
it’s time to give him a chance to prove doubters wrong. Maloney’s one
of several Reds pitchers at the upper levels doing well—Travis Wood
and Zach Stewart were on the cusp of the Hot Sheet as well.

    JAYPERS (IL): Did Gordon Beckham's callup
    exclude him from the list this week? He certainly put up worthy numbers
    during his brief stint in AAA.

Matthew Eddy: It did not exclude Beckham from
consideration, no. He batted .500/.480/.708 (12-for-24) on the week,
with five doubles in six games, making him as strong a candidate as
some of the others listed.

    keith (Fort Knox NJ): David Lough, what is his ceiling???

    Thanks

J.J. Cooper: His ceiling is as a center fielder who
can run pretty well, hit for average with gap power. Now the questions
are whether he’s good enough defensively to play CF in the majors, and
if not, does his bat profile for right or left field. He could end up
as a tweener with a solid bat, but I do expect we’ll see more power out
of him than he’s shown in his first two months in the Carolina League.

    Tom (NJ): Has Michael Taylor bridged the gap with Dominic Brown, or is Brown still well ahead of Taylor in terms of prospect status?

J.J. Cooper: Still got to go with Brown, although
Taylor’s quite an impressive prospect in his own right. Brown is
matching Taylor in production hit for hit, and he’s doing it with a
better set of tools. Brown is better in right field than Taylor has a
slightly better hit tool and is a better runner. Plus his hit tool
projects to be even better than Taylor’s.

    Stan Smith (N.C.): I see that Wynn Pelzer got mentioned a few weeks ago.... What is his ceiling and is he the real deal?!

Matthew Eddy: Pelzer went from a Hot Sheet participant
to a candidate for Not-Hot status this week. He allowed eight runs in
five innings in his start Monday — but hey, it happens from time to
time. Pelzer has a bulldog mentality and seems destined for a bullpen
role because all his stuff is geared toward the power extreme. His
fastball registers in the low to mid-90s and his hard slider functions
as a strikeout pitch.

    Jay P (New York): the Mets look like they have
    some nice prospects who are a few years away.... What could u tell me
    about Jenrry Mejia and Kirk Nieuwenhuis?

Matthew Eddy: It’ll be interesting to see how Mejia
will fare in Double-A, where he and Brad Holt were promoted to this
week. They certainly have the stuff for success. But really, I couldn’t
tell you anything new about he or Nieuwenhuis (nice spelling, by the
way) that we haven’t already covered in past editions of this program.
Check out the Hot Sheet archive for more.

    Matt (Casper, WY): Just how close was it
    between Latos and Heisey for the top spot this week? Both put together
    incredible weeks from their prospective positions.

Matthew Eddy: The vote was unanimous in favor of
Latos, but for sheer gaudiness, Heisey’s raw line was better. The
difference was context. For a 21-year-old jumping to Double-A, pitching
in a tough Texas League, facing a quality Springfield club (twice) and
putting up two of the best consecutive starts of any pitcher this
season . . . well, the choice was easy. Latos could be scary good.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): The mention of Kelvin
    de la Cruz in your writeup on Alex Perez leads me to ask what's up with
    Kelvin? After his number 2 rank on the first list of the season, he was
    shut down and has not reappeared,

J.J. Cooper: He’s shut down with a forearm injury,
although the rumblings are that he won’t be back any time soon. I’m not
saying it’s the case in de la Cruz’s injury because I don’t have any
specific information on him, but a lot of the forearm injuries end up
being elbow injuries when it’s all said and done.

    Boris (London, ON): Blue Jays' minor league
    pitching coordinator Dane Johnson recently stated in an interview that
    RHP Danny Farquhar has seen his velocity jump to 95-97mph after being
    converted into a reliever. He's had a strong season so far and is a
    super interesting case because of the two distinct arm angles he throws
    pitches from. What are your thoughts on Farquhar?

Matthew Eddy: I’ve heard the same thing, and not from
Dane. A scout who spent most of April scouting the Florida State League
labeled Farquhar and lefty Tim Collins as the Dunedin club’s top two
pitching prospects, saying that Farquhar was reaching mid- to high 90s
from his high three-quarters arm slot. Now he has been bumped up to
Double-A. (Can Collins be far behind?) Farquhar has yet to start a pro
game, but he did make most of his appearances in that capacity with
Louisiana-Lafayette last year. He reaches the low-90s from his
below-sidearm slot. He’s a fascinating prospect, kind of like Yankees’
low Class A reliver Pat Venditte, another product of the ’08 draft, who
pitches with both arms. (Does this make him a switch-pitcher? Anyone
seen a clever nickname for Venditte?)

    James (Washington, DC): About where would SI
    cover boy Bryce Harper rank if he were eligible for the Top 100
    prospects — Top 10, Top 50, or not even on the board?

J.J. Cooper: Top 10 easily. I know it sounds crazy to
say that for a kid who’s coming out of his sophomore year in high
school but if he was in this draft I’d be shocked if he went lower than
No. 3 and he very likely could go before Ackley at No. 2. That being
said, Strasburg is almost assuredly next year’s No. 1 prospect, barring
injury, Harper wouldn’t be too far behind him.

    Timmy L. (San Francisco, CA): Although Montero
    is dominating, would you say he is leaving Angel Villalona in the dust
    or is Big V holding his own as a big time prospect?

Matthew Eddy: Montero is just such an impressive
hitter that it’s almost not fair to make these sorts of comparisons.
That combination of bat speed, hittability and usable power just does
not manifest in one player all that often. That’s not a knock on
Villalona, who is a fine prospect — but the lists of prospects I’d
rather have than Montero (based solely on offensive potential) would be
a short one.

    Drew (Hornell, NY): Heisey— Always been
    underrated but has proved himself at all levels. Unfortunate to see a
    log jam in his conservative organization. Do you think Chris Heisey is
    getting a fair shake from the Reds?

J.J. Cooper: Considering that no other team drafted
him in the first 16 rounds, it’s probably fair to say that the Reds
gave him the fairest shake. Scout Jeff Brookens believed in Heisey as a
pro prospect when no one else was noticing him. Heisey has 19 games of
Double-A experience coming into the season, so it makes perfect sense
that the Reds started him in Carolina, especially when the team has a
prospect playing center field in Triple-A as well. The Reds have
promoted Heisey in-season in each of the past two years, and I’d expect
they’ll do it again with him at some point this year.

    Alex B. (KC): Is Hosmer's bat coming around? Is hitting for power next?

J.J. Cooper: I’ll have a Daily Dish on him and
Moustakas next week. He’s shown steady improvement and the power will
come. Encouragingly for a young power hitter, Hosmer already uses the
whole field and gets a lot of his extra-base hits to the gaps.

    Travis (Omak, WA): Who was the Mariners
    prospect closest to making this weeks prospect hot sheet and what were
    their stats? Thanks in advance for answering.

Matthew Eddy: What do you mean? Greg Halman *did* make
the Hot Sheet. Seriously, Triple-A center fielder Michael Saunders has
been incredibly hot, and he hit well this week, batting .318/.483/.500
(7-for-22) with a double, a homer, seven walks and eight runs scored.

    Anthony (Staten Island, NY): What's your
    thoughts on Ike Davis? Did he finally figure it out or will he be more
    of a doubles type hitter who provides solid D?

Matthew Eddy: A solid all-around player, but not
really a looming home run hitter. Davis has a lot of positive
attributes — he can field his position, he runs well for a corner
infielder, he has a sound batting eye — but his line-drive stroke is
geared more toward doubles hitting. He would seem to project as a first
baseman more in the Lyle Overbay family — 15-20 homers, 40 doubles in
his best years.

    Tom (NJ): The Phillies seem to have many
    players having great success this year. Has their system moved up in
    the rankings from the pre-season?

Matthew Eddy: That’s a fair assessment. Players like
Dominic Brown, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Jason Knapp and (don’t
forget) J.A. Happ have really raised their profiles with their early
play, answering questions that may have kept their prospect status in
check.

    MJ (in a flu-like hell!): Travis Wood was not
    even in the Reds' top-30 list for 2009, yet he did very well last year
    in hiA ball at the age of 21...got roughed up some at AA, but still was
    just 21 all season there. So, why hasn't BA given this guy much credit
    over the years—especially this year?!?

J.J. Cooper: Sorry lots of Reds questions this week,
but I’m in a Reds mood, and since I’ve done the Reds Top 30 for four
years, it makes sense for me to answer this. You ask “why hasn’t BA
given this guy much credit over the years?” I’ll point out that Wood
ranked No. 3 in the Reds Top 30 in 2006, No. 6 in 2007 and No. 21 in
2008 so it’s not exactly like we’ve ignored him. When you say he “got
roughed up some” in Double-A, it’s worth spelling that out—4-9, 7.09
in 17 starts with 91 hits, 49 walks and 58 Ks in 80 innings. That was
coming on the heels of a 3-2, 4.86 injury-shortened 2007 season in
Sarasota.
When you throw the concerns about his durability (Wood has a slight
frame), his average at best fastball and his lack of a plus breaking
ball to go with his plus-plus changeup, heading out of last season he
just didn’t really project as a likely big league starter. Now he’s
obviously proven doubters like me somewhat wrong this year, as he’s
been outstanding and he’s managed to take the ball every fifth day. But
Wood doesn’t have a whole lot of margin for error and until recently he
was walking more batters than you would like (29 BB in his first 52
IP).
Wood has definitely helped his prospect stock a lot this year, but
there are still some concerns as to whether he projects more as a
starter or a reliever.

    Derrick (Tulsa, OK): The Padres aren't going
    to make the mistake and promote Latos this year are they? Would you
    have him pitch the 2nd half in the much touhger pitchers league in AAA?

Matthew Eddy: Double-A is an appropriate level for
Latos. If San Diego does move him up, they may do so only for the end
of August, especially if Portland gets back in the playoff race.
They’re 27-28 and now and 6 games off the leader, so it’s a remote
possibility.

    Rick (LA): Where is Oakland RHP Michael Inoa?

J.J. Cooper: We’ll have the answer for that in more
detail next week, as the most recent Prospect Pulse that will go on the
site has a report from extended spring training. He’s been throwing on
the side there (but not in games) and will head to Rookie ball.

    Eric K (Chicago): Why is it so hard to ever get a question answered here?

J.J. Cooper: Because there are a lot of questions.

    D. Cornell (Madison, WI): Will Ambiorix Concepcion (Former Mets MiLB Stud) ever get a MLB Hit?

J.J. Cooper: If you can get someone to bet you on that I’d take no.

    Skills (The Treehouse): Did Jeff Locke say he didn't want to be a Pirate or is that a movie quote?

Matthew Eddy: That was a Seinfeld reference. Sorry for the confusion.

    Kevin (Scarsdale, ny): Matt, was in the dael
    regarding Mets C Joshua Thole with Binghamton?? Never hear a word
    mentioned about him, however he is batting around .350 and was a minor
    league all star last year and had the best defensive percentage in the
    FSL.

Matthew Eddy: Thole is considered every week (he’s the
Eastern League’s batting leader at the moment), but he never seems to
have that dominating performance that pushes him over the top. Maybe we
need to lighten up. He is catching every day, and there’sc certainly
nothing wrong with being merely steady.

    Max (Florida): Does Eric Eiland still play professional baseball? If so where has he been all year and when will we see him playing?

Matthew Eddy: The Blue Jays left him behind in extended spring training to iron out his swing mechanics

    Jimmy The Bat Darnell (Ft. Wayne!? Why?): Shouldn't I be playing OF in Lake Elsinore, maybe even San Antonio, right now?

Matthew Eddy: That’s an interesting notion. The Padres
knew coming in that Darnell’s glove work would need refinement, and he
has committed 16 errors in 51 games at third base. Another possibility:
Forsythe to Double-A and Darnell to High A.

    mike (san diego): Who has a higher ceiling between Kellen Kulbacki and Jaff Decker?

Matthew Eddy: Decker ranked one spot ahead of Kulbacki on our Top 10 Prospects list. That’s a strong endorsement for the 19-year-old Decker.

    Zach (Wilton, CT): I know that people like to
    look at BABPIP and say how it is unsustainable or how a player is
    unlucky, but isn't it an indication of how hard a player is hitting the
    ball?

J.J. Cooper: Not entirely…as you’ve seen yourself
games I’m sure a bloop that drops in is just as much as hit as a line
drive. It can mean that a player is smoking the ball, but it can just
as easily mean they’re getting lucky. That’s where line drive rate and
some of the other stats that we’re getting more and more of are helpful.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone for all the questions.
Sorry that we have to call it quits for today, but hopefully everyone
gets to enjoy what should be a great weekend for baseball.

Minors | #2009 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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