Al from Port Chester, NY asks: What
kind of impression has Dexter Fowler made in Rockies camp? Has he shown
any more power than he had in his first two pro seasons?
Greetings, and welcome to another BA chat. I am feeling a bit loopy
today, so let’s have some fun. Nothing is off limits, at least for now.
I can imagine you all are as excited about the upcoming season as I am,
so let’s rock.
Matt Meyers: Fowler is a great place to
start because he is an interesting prospect and I was just in AZ so I
visited the Rockies camp. They have a great facility and they have
music playing on the minor league fields, which is a nice touch. Fowler
gets raves from the Rockies, who love how adept he has been with
switch-hitting. They were worried about how his swing from the right
side would handle righties with good curveballs, so they encouraged him
to switch hit because they felt he has the athleticism for it. It’s
true, he does and he has proven it. His numbers last year from each
side were pretty similar. You can look it up.
Etienne DiLisle from Riverdale, Bronx, Kingsbridge asks: First
time caller, long time listener. Id like to know what your thoughts are
after spring training on Phil Hughes. Will be able to cut it in the
Bronx? Why is so hard to project young pitchers accurately?
As an alum of the Bronx High School of Science, I had to take a
question from the Boogie Down. Nothing Hughes has done this spring has
diminished his status. He has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues
now, but the Yankees are more likely to bring him up during the year
and get his workload under control in Scranton with the Dunder Mifflin
crew. Remember, Hughes was handled with kid gloves last year and has
always operated on a strict pitch count so they don’t want to cut him
loose in the Bronx just yet. That is what makes projecting pitchers so
tough. We don’t know how they will respond the demands, both physical
and mental, at the big league level.
Ace from Detroit, MI asks: How
soon do we see Billy Butler in KC and has his defense improved this
spring? Its hard to believe such a young player would already be stuck
as a DH only.
Ace, I spoke to Billy about his fielding out in AZ and he is determined
to make himself “adequate.” That was his word, adequate. I think that
is what I liked so much about his assessment of his defense, he was so
honest about. He knows he is not a very good defender, but he is doing
everything he can to at least be decent. I think he will stick in the
outfield for a few years before moving to DH as he approaches 30. The
Cardinals won a World Series last year with Chris Duncan running around
right field like a tourist in Times Square for much of the postseason.
I can’t imagine Butler is any worse than that and the Royals will give
him every chance to prove his adequacy.
Al from Port Chester, NY asks: Did
you get a chance to see Sean Rodriguez play at all this spring? How did
he look? With Wood moving of SS, does this increase the odds Rodriguez
can remain at SS….or does he still project as a 2B?
I didn’t get a chance to see him, but I think he is interesting. We
forget about him because the Angels have so much middle infield talent
but he is basically a poor man’s Brandon Wood. If Wood moves off
shortstop it is in deference to O-Cab and Erick Aybar, who are superior
defenders. Sounds like Rodriguez is a 2B and I have heard a Ronnie
Belliard comp on him. That sounds about right.
John Merriman from Japan asks: Is
Jacoby Ellsbury the real deal? Gammons has said he was a very pleasant
surprise to be this far ahead of progress in spring training.
Gotta go, it’s chow time!
Depends on your definition of real deal. I just don’t see him hitting
for much power, but he could be useful as a high OBP top of the order
guy with plus defense in center. The common comp for him is Johnny
Damon, but I see more Dave Roberts. At least the version of Dave
Roberts that played center. Last time I checked, Roberts was a god in
New England so for Ellsbury’s sake, I hope the same is in store for
Matt Meyers: Isn’t it like 2 AM in Japan? Odd time for dinner, but I hope you enjoy it.
Jake Larsen from Waukegan, IL asks: Which
Devil Ray youngster, out of the many, should the Rays fans keep an eye
on this season? Will it be one of the obvious(Young, Upton, Dukes or
Kazmir) or will it be a surprise(Orvella, Salas, Howell or Jackson)?
Kazmir is in a different class than those guys. He has already
established himself as a good big leaguer as long as he stays healthy.
Young will be good and I am an Upton apologist, so I believe he will
hit if given at-bats. I wouldn’t get too excited about that second crew
you mention. You are more likely to see guys like Longoria and Niemann
coming up later in the year and making an impact than any sort of JP
Walter Barnard from Plano, Tx asks: How
is it Hunter Pence is not on Opening Day roster for the Astros? Jason
Lane was a huge dissapointment last season and Chris Burke is truly not
an outfielder. Is Luke Scott the 2005 or 2006 version? You can tell me
about the Biggio 3,000 hits story and such but I thought the team at
the big league level was committed to winning…just not offering
veterans continued opportunities. Hunter Pence has produced at every
level and raked in Spring Training. Honestly I think the Astros
sometime let guys ride too long in the minors…
I thought Plano was football country, but apparently there are some
baseball fans too. Good to know. I agree with you, the Astros have made
some odd choices with their 25-man roster recently but it is hard to
argue with them as long as they win. And they have been winning for
years. Their biggest problem is that they use two lineup spots (Ausmus
and Everett) on guys with little (Everett) to no (Ausmus) offensive
value. They need Scott to come close to his 2006 performance (he won’t
repeat it) while finding ways to get Pence in the lineup once they
realize they need him in the big leagues.
Matt Meyers: The
problem is that an outfield of Carlos Lee in left, Pence in center and
Scott in right would be horrifying. If Willie Mays’ glove was where
triples went to die, that outfield is where they would go to live.
Steve Berry from Boston asks: Can you think of a better baseball name than Boof Bonser??
Yes, I can! First you have Phillies lefthander Josh Outman. A pitcher
named Outman, it’s too perfect. One to look for in the future is
Sequoyah Stonecipher an outfielder from Mission Bay High in San Diego
who is eligible for the draft this year.
Seth from peoria,az asks: Besides
Cutch, Lincoln, Walker, and Bixler, what other Pirate prospect has the
most ceiling and one that us Bucco fans will have to hope pans out to
see in the majors soon?
I’d be most excited for McCutchen and the fourth overall pick, to be
determined in early June. I don’t mean to rag on their system, but it
is hard to know what to make of Walker and Lincoln at this point and
Bixler has a very low upside. If all goes well, he could become Mark
Loretta. For what it’s worth, McCutchen is fantastic and one of my five
favorite prospects in the minors. He is just a joy to watch.
John from Harrisonburg, VA asks: What
does the season seem to hold for Alberto Callaspo? The Diamondbacks are
playing him often in Spring Training, and he’s hitting. Will he make
the big-league squad, and if he does, will he play?
It is looking more and more likely that he will make the club. I don’t
see him as a regular on a championship club, but I think he is a
fantastic utility guy. He can play almost anywhere, he is impossible to
strike out which makes him ideal as a pinch-hitter because not only is
he a good situational hitter, but he is great at getting on base as
evidenced by his career .370 OBP. He will get 250-300 at-bats as a
part-time starter and utility guy and he is good enough that he won’t
kill you if he has to fill in for an injured player for an extended
period. In the NL these guys have fantastic value as they make double
Sam from Katonah, NY asks: When do you think Tim Lincecum will make his major league debut, before or after the All-Star break….or 2008?
I will guess he makes the big leagues at some point just before the
all-star break. In fact, I have June 26 in the BA pool. If the Giants
manage to make a postseason push, he is going to be a factor.
Jim Wendt from Pittsburgh asks: Anthony Swarzak fell out of the top 100, is he still considered a good propect more than say Mijares is.
Not being in the top 100 is not an insult. Swarzak had a good season,
but not a great one and is still a better prospect than Mijares even
though Mijares has better raw stuff. Some say Mijaeres has three
pitches that rate as a 70 on the 20-80 scale but his poor conditioning
has prevented him from maintaining his stuff. Swarzak is steadily
moving up the ladder and will be at Double-A this year. He looks poised
to develop into a middle of the rotation guy, while Mijares looks like
a reliever with the potential to be a dominant lefty out of the pen.
Swarzak ranks higher in the Prospect Handbook, which you should all buy
if you have not already.
Casey from Tupelo, MS asks: What are your thoughts on Stephen Head? Is he headed back to Kingston, and what does he need to do to advance further?
Based on his performance in 2006, Head should go back to Kinston after
hitting .235-.319-.377 there. However, the Indians might want to
challenge him to see what he is made of. It’s hard to guess what the
organization’s rationale will be but it sounds like he will be back in
Kinston. Get excited K-Tribe fans!
Mick from Chicago asks: Does
Stephen Drew have the defensive ability to be a gold glover? I know he
has had some leg strains and pulls but should that put a halt to his
ability to steal bases like he did so well in college?
Probably not a Gold Glover, but he is a capable defender and his bat
will make up for any defensive deficiencies. As for basestealing, I
doubt he is ever going to return to his college days. He has eight
swipes as a professional, so I don’t think Tony Womack’s club record of
182 steals in is danger. At least not in Drew’s case.
For the record, No. 2 on that list is Steve Finley with 70 and Junior
Spivey and David Dellucci are tied for 10th with 18 apiece. It’s quite
Bill Raftery from NCAA-ville asks: Not
a real baseball-related question, but I was wondering why I kept
screaming the phrase “EARLY ONIONS” last night whenever a big shot was
made throughout the games…..I don’t even think I know what that
means, but it kept creeping out of my mouth.
I don’t know about you, but I thought Raftery was in top form last
night. For my money, he is the best color commentator in sports and I
have wondered what it would take to get him to officiate my wedding
just to hear him, “you may now give the bride…a little kiss!” I
probably need to find a woman first though and I think this answer is
probably a good indication why I have not yet.
I am not sure about the derivation, but when he says “onions,” he is
referring to someone taking and making a big shot. My guess is that it
refers to someone standing up in the face of fear, such as when you
have to chop onions. Or it might refer to a player having a large pair
of onions as a metaphor for something else. Anyway, the “early onions”
was a reference to guys making big shots, but not at the end of the
game. Like when Ron Lewis kept draining triples in the middle of the
Matt Meyers: In honor of Raftery, “Meyers, with the answer….send it in!”
Norville Barnes from Muncie, IN asks: Who do you foresee as the #1 overall prospect on the 2009 top 100?
I’ll go with Fernando Martinez of the Mets. Clayton Kershaw, Jose
Tabata and Bill Rowell are also candidates. Of the players that are
still amateurs, I’ll say David Price, Josh Vitters, Rick Porcello and
Pedro Alvarez are possibilities.
James from Rome,WI asks: Give me a name(s) of a Brewers prospect(s) that is sort of flying under the radar but could help the team sometime soon.Thanks
If they have a chance of helping the team soon, they are probably not
going to fly under the radar. Angel Salome is one of my favorite
prospects, but that is partially because he is fun to talk to and an
interesting profile. He has some holes in his swing, but he has crazy
raw power and a cannon for an arm. Power hitting catchers are not easy
to find, so he is worth following. Charlie Fermaint is also a guy that
has a chance to go nuts one of these years.
Norville Barnes from Muncie, IN asks: If Pedro Alvarez was currently eligible for the top 100 list, where would he rank?
This is a second question from Norville, but it is a good one. I tend
to think he compares favorably to guys like Brandon Wood and Evan
Longoria who were No. 7 and 8. Based on that, I would put him at No. 8,
ahead of Wood and behind Longoria. Then again, since we have not seen
him as a pro it is hard to think of taking him over a guy like Ryan
Braun, who we had at No. 26. That being said, I think he would a top 10
Joe from Chicago asks: Who
do you think the Nationals will go with in left field? Snelling,
Church, and Casto seem to having very similar pre seasons. I think
Snelling would be the best choice.
I’ll take Snelling too, though he can never seem to stay healthy. It is
probably inconsequential as the Nationals could be historically bad.
But it might be the difference between 55 wins and 57 wins.
This just in, the Royals traded Erik Cordier to the Braves for Tony
Pena Jr. I just don’t get this trade at all from a Royals perspective.
I know they want an alternative to Berroa at shortstop, but Pena is as
fringy as they come. Cordier had a knee injury earlier in his career
and is coming off TJ, but he has as much upside as any pitcher in their
system with the exception of Hochever. He has touched 98 mph when
healthy and a good changeup. The Royals need to keep players with any
semblance of upside and Cordier has upside. The Braves had no use for
Pena and got something of value, even if it might be damaged, for him.
Great trade for them.
Eli from Toronto asks: I
know this isn’t a super prospect question. But Casey Janssen is having
a good spring, and though he’s 25, he’s only been pitching for a year
and a half or so. His numbers remind me of Anthony Reyes’, except with
a little less strikeouts. So, solid back-end major league starter
within the next year or two (and not the “back-end” starter that is
meant as an insult)?
Numbers are not everything and Reyes’ superior strikeout totals are a
separator. Janssen has excellent control of four pitches, but is not
going to make anyone swing and miss consistently with any of them. He
needs to keep the ball on the ground while avoiding walks. Reyes throws
a little harder, his change and slider are above-average and his
command is comparable. I like Janssen though, and he could be a decent
back-end guy if given the chance. He is more likely a swingman type
James from Morgantown, WV asks: Matt, when will Nick Adenhart see the ML? Second, is Matt Sweeney a legit hitter?
Adenhart is coming off of his first full season because of TJ, so I
think we won’t see him until 2008. A late-season callup this year is
not out of the question though. Sweeney looks like a steal thus far,
but that is based just on his AZL campaign. Alan Matthews says he can
swing the bat and if Alan Matthews knows two things they are Angels’
prospects and guys drafted out of high school. Sweeney is both, so I
Al from Port Chester, NY asks: Has
Adam Jones played any other position besides CF this spring in Mariners
camp? If the M’s intend to make an offer to keep Ichiro after the
season, doesn’t this mean Jones will have to move again if he wants a
regular job in the big leagues?
Matt Meyers: We began with Al, so we will we end with Al. It only seems appropriate.
I have never been a big believer in Jones, his performance has never
really matched the hype and the Mariners seem to be jerking him around
a bit. They have done this with a lot of their prospects, so I don’t
see them getting the most out of Jones. If they let Ichiro walk, I
doubt it is because they think Jones can step right in. I think they
will do everything they can to keep Ichiro and if that happens, Jones
will either return to shortstop or move to right field.
Thanks for joining me for this chat on such short notice. We hope to be
bringing you prospect chats more regularly on Friday afternoons during
the season, so keep that in mind. Have a good weekend.