Hello and happy holidays, everyone. The 2010 Prospect Handbook is nearly done . . . it's off at the printers and we just have to put a few finishing touches on it. If you ordered it directly from Baseball America, you'll get the book in the second half of January, along with a bonus supplement with 30 additional prospects (one for each team). With the book done, that means I submitted my personal Top 50 Prospects list and ranked the organizations, so I can field some questions on those subjects. Let's get to it.
Where would you rank Arodys Vizcaino vs Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes two years ago when they were not traded for Johan Santana?
Vizcaino had proven less than both but has more pure stuff than either. Balancing both considerations, I'd rank them Hughes, Vizcaino, Kennedy.
Who is the best prospect in the 2010 Draft other than Bryce Harper?
I'd give LSU righthander Anthony Ranaudo the edge over The Woodlands (Texas) HS righty Jameson Taillon.
Hey Jim, hope i'm not sounding too delusional... Do you think Mets would trade 3B David Wright to the Red Sox for Ellsbury, Bucholtz, Delcarman, and Bowden - all major league talent at low cost? Thanks!
I don't think the Mets would do that. They have money, that's not the problem.
Which Blue Jay will be better this year between Brett Wallace and Travis Snider? In 5 years?
I like Snider a little more. He's going to have more power and offer more defensive value.
How does the Orioles farm system rank in the MLB?
I won't give away the official BA rankings in the Prospect Handbook (which will be updated at the end of spring training to reflect trades and other developments). When I did my personal list, I rated the Orioles as the eighth-best farm system, which is quite impressive considering that Wieters, Tillman and Reimold graduated to the majors in 2009.
If you were me, which of my prospects would you be most unwilling to let go in trades and why?
I rated the top prospects in the system as Starlin Castro, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, in that order. I'd be most unwilling to let go of Jackson, because he's far and away their best prospect in center field, a position of need for the Cubs. As much as I like Castro, they do have Ryan Theriot to hold down shortstop and Hak-Ju Lee coming up behind Castro. Not saying I'd want to trade either, but I could get more for Castro in a deal and might miss him less given the strengths of the organization.
Any bats in the minors that may help the Red Sox this year? Lars Anderson? Mike Jones? Right now it looks like we're hoping to win a lot of 2-1 games
I don't think it's that bat. Josh Reddick is the best bat in the system who could help Boston in 2010, with Ryan Kalish close behind. The Red Sox still should have one of the better offenses in baseball.
Gut call: Holliday plays for _______ next year.
John Manuel ranked Aaron Hicks #18 in his prospect list. Do you agree?
I ranked him 20th on my list.
I noticed Andy Baggerly had Brandon Crawford # 9 prospect and the Giants projected long term SS. I believe you and Keith Law are not nearly as optimistic mainly because of his terrible rate of K's. I've notice over the years of following prospects like that, they never are able to overcome contact issues, because it's innate and you are either born w/ that ability or not. What do you think Andy sees in him, and do you think Crawford can overcome this problem?
I'd submit that ranking a guy No. 9 (even in a deep system like San Francisco's) isn't a ringing endorsement of future stardom. And take those 2013 lineups with a grain of salt—they're basically a comparison of the major and minor league talent in an organization rather than anything writ in stone. Crawford is both their best long-term shortstop option as of now, and also in need of making much more consistent contact. I agree with you—I'm not optimistic he can just flick a switch and solve that problem.
Whos' going to play leftfield in Fenway next year?
Jacoby Ellsbury, with Mike Cameron in center field.
Jim - does the Matt Capps signing delay Drew Storen's arrival in Washington; and do you still see Storen as the closer of the future? Thanks.
I don't think it really delays Storen's arrival. Because of free agency/arbitration considerations, there was never any incentive for the Nationals to promote Storen before June at the earliest. He's still their closer of the future.
Rank my pitching prospects. Teheran, Vizcaino, Delgado, Minor, Devill, Rohrbough.
Vizcaino, Teheran, Minor, Delgado, DeVall, Rohrbough.
Please evaluate the taylor for wallace swap? Also, are the A's moving cardenas to third smart or dumb?
I like Wallace more as a hitter, but the A's have tons of 1B/DH types, and Taylor makes a lot more sense for them. If Oakland has decided Jemile Weeks is their second baseman of the future, then it's smart to move Cardenas.
Dominguez, Vitters or Wallace?
Wallace, unless I need a guy who can play third base.
Hey Jim, do you agree with JM that Posey and Bumgarner round out the "back-end" of a top 10 list? How much relative difference is there when talking about top 10 prospects?
I ranked Posey 8th and Bumgarner 10th. I guess John and I are in agreement a lot these days. When you're talking about the very best prospects in baseball, I think there's a lot of consensus. Some people might ding Bumgarner because his velocity was down at the end of last year, but he still got Double-A hitters out easily and there's no indication he's hurt.
Do you think that this is finally the year where people right a wrong and elect Bert Blyleven to the HOF, or are voters still going to use the ridiculous argument that he was a compiler and vote for Jack Morris despite Blyleven's superiority to Morris in every way?
Hard to say. If I had to guess, I'd say Blyleven will because there's no slam-dunk candidate this year and his cause has gained more support each year.
I know the story is beaten like a dead horse, but I always wondered was the package the Phillies got from the Mariners the best they could have gotten? Were there any other offers for Cliff Lee or did the Phillies offer him to any other team?
I wrote a column about this, which BA subscribers can read by clicking here. It seems the Phillies, perhaps mandated by ownership, determined they had to deal Lee ASAP to make room for Halladay's salary. I don't get it. Why not give yourselves a couple of months to get a better offer? It's not like the Mariners were going to turn down that proposal in February—it was a steal.
Is there any update on the finalization of the contract for Noel Arguelles and Kansas City? What's the big hold up here? Thanks!
Just takes some time to execute all the paperwork and cut through all the red tape. No reason to think he won't be a Royal.
Hi Jim - Despite putting up pretty impressive numbers over is career, I think Alomar provides us with a great example of how they fail to capture the brilliance of a HOF-type player. Watching Alomar bat and play 2B in his prime told you the whole story. He was clearly on a different level than his peers.
I always thought he was a Hall of Famer while watching him. He has to be one of the top 8-10 second baseman of all time, doesn't he?
Better career, Arrieta or Tillman?
Tillman, easily. And I like Arrieta.
Grant Desme? For real or will his K's hold him back?
A legit prospect, but he'll always strike out a lot, so temper your expectations somewhat.
I noticed that Cody Johnson made Atlanta's top 10 prospect list. Do you think he will become an effective major league player of some kind, or is it just a testimate to how weak their system is?
More the latter. There's not a lot of depth after the top few prospects.
Who says no first on the following trade options? Greinke for Bard, Ellsbury, Bucholtz. Or Greinke for Westmoreland, Kelly, Iglesias.
I don't think the Royals would trade Greinke yet. Not sure the Red Sox would give up Westmoreland and Kelly in the same deal, either.
Do you agree with John Manuel about his ranking of the Rangers as the #1 farm club and having three Rangers in his top 20? Or do they slide a few spots on your evaluation?
I ranked the Rangers No. 1, though I think John changed his mind when we were debating the order for the Handbook. I ranked Feliz No. 7, Smoak No. 16, Perez No. 24. John and I are agreeing on everything these days, apparently.
Do you think Kyle Drabek will have a great career in toronto. I know he had to be traded in order to get Halladay, but will the Phillies regret it?
I would have given him up to get Halladay, too. You can dream about what Drabek might do, but you know what Halladay can do. That said, with the price they paid in their various Halladay/Lee deals, anything less than a World Series championship with Halladay will be a disappointment.
Jim- Who would you prefer...Kelly or Buchholz? Who has the higher ceiling?
I'd take Buchholz. Kelly has better feel for pitching, but Buchholz has better stuff. He has had success in the majors, while Kelly has yet to pitch above Class A.
Whats the latest on Aroldis Chapman?
All quiet on the Chapman front. The biggest-money team in on him appears to be the Red Sox at this point.
Is this the year B Wood finally gets a serious amount of at bats?
I hope so. I'd like to see what he could do with regular big league playing time.
I keep hearing that Houston's minor league system will again be voted the worst. How is that possible when they clearly have more top end talent than teams like St Louis and Detroit. I know they're not as deep, but the top prospects should count more than the Cards' group of bench players.
The Tigers' system looks better after acquiring Austin Jackson and Daniel Schlereth in the three-team Curtis Granderson/Edwin Jackson trade, so that's not part of the discussion. I rated the Cardinals 30th, but I was in the minority at BA. I can see both sides of the argument. You can get more excited about Houston's top three prospects (Castro, Mier, Lyles) than St. Louis' top three (Miller, Garcia, Lynn). But only Castro has advanced past low A, and the Astros' list falls off a cliff after the top three, while the Cardinals have several players who have played well in the upper minors.
Did Matzek land in the top half of your top 50?
He did, at No. 22.
Not asking you to give away BA rankings but do the Nats have any hope down on the farm?
Not a lot of depth after their top couple of guys. I ranked them 20th, in large part because of Strasburg. If you took him out of the mix, I would have rated their system 27th.
Do you see Bryce Brentz putting up similar numbers as last season? If he does, is he a top 10 pick in 2010?
Yes on the numbers, not quite that high in the draft.
Would you rather see the HOF process be more similar to the NFL process?
That would be a better process, with fewer electors putting a lot more thought into the votes. But I don't think it would lessen the controversy much if at all.
Wieters or Heyward?
Wieters, because he's a catcher.
Do you know if Texas really offered Feliz and Smoak for J Johnson? If so, how do they turn that down?
I think that was overblown.
Is Pedro Alvarez in your top 10? I know you really liked him this time last year, and his 2nd half was one of the minor league's best.
Do you see Deck McGuire as being that far behind Ranaudo?
Nope, they're close.
Desmond Jennings was ranked #80 by BA last year. He has to be in your personal Top 10 this year, given his incredible year?
No. 12 on my list.
Do you agree with John that Casey Kelly is a better prospect right now than Martin Perez? Given age and level, I just don't see it.
I had Kelly at No. 21 and Perez at No. 24, so they're basically even in my book. I think Kelly has a deeper repertoire, better feel and has proven himself one level higher.
Mr. Callis. Is the Mets farm system as bare as some people say it is. I mean I know they are no where near the top but I've heard barren thrown around and it seems unfair. Your thoughts?
In my personal rankings, I put the Mets at No. 24. I think their depth stands out more than their top-end talent, but they need to improve in both regards.
Jim, why don't teams make more prospect-for-prospect trades like the A's and Bluejays did with Wallace/Taylor?
Because prospects are like kids. Everyone loves their own more than they love other people's, so it's hard to match up.
Why is there even any doubt about Alomar? How did this start? He was awesome. I grew up a Cubs fan and loved Sandberg and remember resenting Alomar because he was getting all the attention, but Alomar was so good it was hard not to appreciate him. I know you're a writer, but sometimes I wonder if baseball writers/media know anything.
I sometimes wonder if some of you questioners ever read my answers. I said he was an easy Hall of Famer for me. And I don't have a vote. I think he was a better player than Sandberg. His career (as did Sandberg's) just fell off a cliff at the end.
Is Aaron Crow in your top 30? What is his upside - #2 starter?
Just missed, checking in at No. 31. No. 2 starter upside is very fair.
when do you plan to answer your top 50 questions? i submitted several
I've answered several, haven't I?
Were you impressed by Kershaw's first full year and see him still evolving to top pitcher?
Yes and yes.
Would you play Reimold in LF every day, or would you DH him and give Pie one more shot to be an every day player?
I'd give Pie another shot but I don't have much faith that it will work out.
Where does Tony Sanchez rank on your top 100? Is he on it?
I only went 50 deep for the Handbook. Sanchez didn't make that list, but he will be on my Top 100 and I assume he'll make the official BA Top 100 as well.
I still don't understand why Atlanta took Minor at # 7 when the experts all seem to agree that there were better options on the board. Matzek was still there and you have him ranked 22 overall. The difference in signing bonus was only about $1 million. Do you have any insight to the Braves decision?
He was the top player on their board who would sign for what their ownership was willing to spend, plain and simple.
Jim, thanks for the chat as always. Any A's in your personal top 50?
Chris Carter at No. 28, Michael Taylor at No. 29 and Grant Green at No. 36.
Has Vitters fallen out of favoer in Chicago? I'm seeing him mentioned in all kinds of trade rumors where just last year he seemed untouchable.
Not at all. And he wasn't untouchable last year, either, as he was the key to the Jake Peavy trade that never happened.
Why did the Orioles choose Hobgood over Matzek, Wheeler, Turner ?
Same answer as I gave for Minor and the Braves.
Where did Simon Castro land on your list?
He didn't make my Top 50, but he was in a group of about a dozen players who I strongly considered for the end of my list.
Who's the best defensive player on your top 50?
Alcides Escobar, who checked in at No. 14.
Thanks for the chat. Can you give us a ballpark figure(top 25, 50, 100) of where you rated the Cubs top three that you mentioned earlier in the chat?
Castro was No. 13, Jackson and Vitters will be in the 51-75 range.
Any Royals make your top 50?
Matt Montgomery at No. 27, Aaron Crow at No. 31.
Where did Logan Morrison end up on your prospect list?
Speaking of the Wallace/Taylor trade... If this trade was on the table why did the Phillies not make the trade themselves? They have a ton of OF prospects and nothing in the infield.
In their defense on that one, if they (like many teams do) believe that Wallace is a first baseman, the Phillies are pretty set there.
If the DH is part of baseball, shouldn't the best DH of all time be a Hall of Famer?
Not sure I buy that argument. Should the best utilityman be in the HOF? The best middle reliever? The best one-armed outfielder?
Do you like Lind or Butler better long term?
Did Lawrie or Lucroy crack the top fifty?
Lawrie at No. 37. I'm not bullish on Lucroy.
I think Wendy (madrid) was commenting about other voters...settle down Jim.
If that's the case, I apologize. But she didn't need to condemn all writers . . .
How good of a pitching prospect is Kyle Gibson?
I'm a huge fan, as regular visitors to this chat know. I ranked him No. 30 on my Top 50. I think he can be a frontline/all-star starter.
Lightning Round? Vitters or Moustakas?
Better pizza topping: mushrooms or onions?
If it's a non-meat option, give me green peppers.
Who will have a better career? Granderson or Austin Jackson?
Hey Jim, when do you see Mike Leake making his major league debut and whats his upside #1 or #2?
Upside of No. 3, ETA at the end of 2010.
JIM ANSWER MY DBACKS QUESTION PLEASE!!!!!! Who has better upside borchering or pollack? Whats their ceiling?
Borchering has more upside as a cleanup hitter, Pollock is a safer bet to reach his ceiling as a solid-across-the-board player.
Where did Lars land your list? Reddick?
Neither made my Top 50.
You really want us to believe that Ryan Howard is a legit long term solution? There's a lot of red flags that say he can fall off pretty quickly. Already 30, late to the majors, old player skills at 25.
Just saying, I don't think trading for a first-base prospect is high on Philadelphia's priority list right now.
Red Sox farm system still middle of the pack or are they back in the top 10?
I ranked them No. 7. They have as much high-ceiling talent (albeit mostly concentrated in the lower levels to this point) as anyone.
your top 5 farm systems?
Rangers, Rays, Indians, Giants, Marlins (in that order).
Chapman or Inoa?
Freeman or Smoak
Smoak, easy. And I like Freeman.
Lars Anderson bounces back in 201o right?
I still have faith.
The 3rd best prospect from the 2009 draft behind Strasburg and Ackley is...
I just watched that movie again yesterday!
A's or Marlins on Chapman?
Those rumors are out there, yes. Reds, too.
Better system: Phillies or Braves?
I have to run and proof some Handbook pages. Happy New Year to everyone, and we'll do this again next Wednesday.