League Top 20 Prospects

New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects Chat




 Q:  Jack from Boston asks:
Was Stolmy Pimentel close to making the list? He was pretty dominant considering his age.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Hi everyone, sorry I'm off to a late start — I'll make it up to you at the end, I promise. It was a great year in the Penn League, really brimming with talent — let's get to the chat.

Aaron Fitt: Lowell was absolutely loaded this year. I almost could have done a top 10 prospects list for Lowell alone, and it would have been a legit list. Pimentel is very intriguing, as an 18-year-old with a good body, sound delivery and chance for three legit average pitches. He's just pretty raw at this point, so he couldn't beat out some of the more polished, safer bets from the college ranks.

 Q:  Inigo Montoya from Cliffs of Insanity asks:
Who was the second best prospect on Williamsport - Overbeck, Stutes, De Fratus, Worley, Rosenberg or Schwimer and how close were they to cracking the Top 20?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Williamsport had a number of interesting college guys, but my favorite might actually be Troy Hanzawa, a little shortstop out of San Diego State. He was the best defensive infielder in the league, just a very reliable defender with sure hands, good range and a strong arm, and he can surprise you with the bat. He'll never be a power guy, but he can poke the ball into the gaps now and then, and he knows his game.

Aaron Fitt: Out of those other guys, Schwimer's above-average downer curveball is a separator, and he's got very good size. If he can command his fastball a little better, I could see him as a nice setup-type reliever. Rosenberg made a ton of progress this summer after a decent but not great senior year at Louisville. He spotted his average fastball well and showed a nice curve as well. Overbeck hits the ball hard — just a lot of hard liners, some of which get over the fence. I'm worried about his defense, however; he won't stick at third base, and I don't know that he'll hit enough to be a left fielder.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Where would you rank Barnese amongst the bevy of other well-known top Rays young arms, such as Price, Davis, McGee, Hellickson, Cobb, etc? Also, what timetable are the Rays setting for him?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I like Barnese a lot, but I would rank him behind that group of more advanced prospects, just because he's farther away. He also does not have the upside of the Price/Davis/McGee/Hellickson group. I see him more as a No. 3 or No. 4, whereas you could really project those other guys as having top half of the rotation upside.

 Q:  Matt from Binghamton, NY asks:
How you can have Ike Davis on this list and not someone like Kirk Niewenhuis is troubling. Explain how Ike's Performance/Potential overtakes Niewenhuis'?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: The U.S. economy is "troubling"; I don't know that I'd use that word with a low-minors top prospects list. Nieuwenhuis certainly outperformed Davis, but are you really telling me you'd rather have Nieuwenhuis than Davis in your system? Davis just has a lot more upside — even the scouts that killed his performance and questioned his makeup still acknowledged that he showed easy raw power in BP. He proved himself over three years at Arizona State, and I'm not going to write him off as a prospect because of a poor summer in the NY-P on the heels of a long college season.

Aaron Fitt: That's not to say that Nieuwenhuis is not a prospect, by the way, because he does have tools. He does a nice job defensively in center field and is aggressive on the basepaths and at the plate. But he projects as a fringe big leaguer, a fourth-outfielder type who could carve out a nice career for himself but probably won't be a star. Davis does have a chance to be a star.

 Q:  Thomas from Brooklyn, NY asks:
Sean Ratliff may be one of the most exciting players Brooklyn has seen, but he lacks the plate discipline. Will the mets be aggressive with Ratliff and send him to Low A for next year or will they have him work on his hit tool in extended and put him back in the NY-Penn?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Let's do another Brooklyn outfield question. Ratliff has a lot of upside; his power and arm strength are premium tools, and he actually impressed some scouts with his approach at the plate, though his swing remains raw. I doubt he'll ever hit for average, but he could be a 30-homer type guy who plays good defense and brings a lot of energy. I do expect the Mets to start him in low A next year, and if he struggles there they could always send him back to Brooklyn.

 Q:  Eddie from Acworth, GA asks:
No Orioles prospects in the New York-Penn league top 20, after also no orioles on the Appalachian League list and only one on the GCL list. Did the Orioles really have that poor of a draft this year and last after the 1st rounds, or did some prospects just miss this list(Kolodny, Zagone, Joseph)?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Aberdeen's prospects generated very little buzz in the NY-P. Kolodny is the best of the lot, a gamer with some pop who played solid defense at third. Caleb Joseph also garnered a little interest, but did not stand out in a very strong catching crop this year. He's got a chance, but he needs to get stronger.

 Q:  Andrew from Philly asks:
How come D'Arnaud was ranked behind Castro and Norris? Does he have the most upside?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I think you could make a case for any of the three. Castro is just a very safe bet (for a guy in short-season ball) to be a solid regular big league catcher, maybe an All-Star. I gave Norris the nod over d'Arnaud mostly because I love Norris' approach — a good defensive catcher who works the count the way he does and still hits for some power is pretty valuable. I think both d'Arnaud and Norris are outstanding prospects, but I like Norris' bat a little more, and he did a much better job shutting down opposing running games also.

 Q:  Mick Dundee from Australia asks:
What is Jenrry Mejia long term projection? Where would he fall in the Mets top 30?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I have no idea where he'll be on the Mets list — he's an incredibly tough guy to rank, because he's such an unusual prospect. You don't see a lot of 6-foot righthanders throwing 97-98 with a 90 mph changeup and a chance for a plus curveball as well. But with all the effort in his delivery and his size, it's hard to imagine him really holding up over the long term, and if he loses that fastball velocity, he's probably nothing special, because he's not one of those guys who beats you with his feel for pitching. He's very crude right now. If it all comes together for him and he stays healthy (a big "if", I think), you could project him as a front-of-the-rotation starter with three plus pitches, but I see him more as a power arm in the bullpen down the road. It's not unheard of for little guys to throw hard and be great starters (see: Martinez, Pedro), but Pedro also had great feel for pitching and a clean delivery. Mejia has neither.

 Q:  Halo from KY asks:
How many players from this league do you feel have star potential in Majors? Any?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Honestly, I'm very high on the talent in the NY-P this year. Ike Davis could be a power-hitting All-Star, and he ranked No. 17 after his poor debut. I truly believe almost everyone on this list has star potential to some degree, if it all comes together for them. That's not to say I would bet on all of them being big league stars, because that doesn't happen — we're a long way from the big leagues down in the NY-P. But if David Cooper's terrorizing major league pitching sometime next summer, I won't be shocked. That's one bat I absolutely believe in.

 Q:  Mike from Merrick asks:
Does the large amount of Mets on this list along with Wilmer Flores show hope that the Mets minor league is greatly improved since years past. Does anyone on this list or Wilmer Flores look like they could be Top 25 prospects in the next couple of years?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, Brooklyn and Lowell were the two most talented teams in the league this year, and it wasn't even close. Flores did not qualify for this list, but he's an elite prospect without question, and he showed glimpses of that even in his brief NY-P stint. Holt can be very special if he can improve his slider, but as good as his fastball is, he could be a very good big leaguer pitching with mostly fastballs (think Curt Schilling). I'm eager to see what Reese Havens can do with a full healthy season — he was by far the most improved player in college baseball this spring, and he made a nice first impression in pro ball even though he wasn't at full strength.

 Q:  Bobby from Manchester, NH asks:
Hi Aaron. I appreciate all the great work you do on the college and the minor league side. Kind of an off topic question though. If all of the BA staffers were locked in a steel-cage death match, who would emerge victorious? John Manuel? Ben Badler? Matt Eddy? Nathan Rode? Maybe you? How would you handicap the field?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Will Lingo's got to be the favorite, just based on pure brute strength. I mean, he's a 6-foot-6 oak tree — good luck taking him down. But as Badler points out, Lingo's kind of a slow-twitch guy. My sleeper might be JJ Cooper, just because he brings so much energy to the table. A real scrapper.

 Q:  TJ from Miami asks:
Wow how can a team reach the Final/Have one of the best records and not have 1 Top 20 Guy?? Understand with Miguel Fermin cause of age(Even tho he is the MVP of the League in his 1st season in the US). But come on?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Well, give Jamestown manager Darin Everson a lot of credit — he did a great job getting the most out of his talent there. And that team did have some talent. Fermin has a very strong arm and some legit pop. I'd like to see the Marlins push him to see if he is legit, because I can't put too much stock in his performance as a 23-year-old in this league, even as good of a summer as it was. Paul Gran is a very solid player who handled three infield spots and squared the ball up consistently, I'm just not sure how he profiles down the road. I've always been a big fan of Kevin Mattison, who I ranked in the Coastal Plain League top 10 last summer. He's just a hard-nosed player who covers a ton of ground in center field and is disruptive offensively, but I worry about his hit tool, and he's a little undersized so he's gonna have to prove himself at every step. Pete Andrelczyk was outstanding in Jamestown but did not pitch enough to qualify, otherwise he would have likely made the list. He was 94-95 with a very good slider. They also had some interesting sleepers among other college arms, like Jarred Yecker from St. John's and Elih Villanueva from Florida State, a couple of proven winners who really dominated at this level. Yecker's spring was foiled by a nasty, lingering blister that killed his draft stock, but he's got a pro body and a power sinker, and his breaking ball was very good this summer. Keep an eye on him.

 Q:  Tim from Houston, Texas asks:
What are your thoughts on Phil Disher and Jack Shuck? They both had successful summers for Tri-City. Are they legitimate prospects and what should we expect from them as they move forward with their careers?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Disher has always hit for power but never really had a position — he was a poor defensive catcher at South Carolina and is probably a DH in the upper levels. You've got to hit a ton to be a DH in the majors, and I don't think his bat is that special. J.B. Shuck was a two-way star at Ohio State who had a solid debut for Tri-City. He's a Sam Fuld type whose best assets are his speed, plate discipline and ability to put the bat on the ball. He's definitely got a chance, but his tools don't leap out at you.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
A couple of O's prospect questions who did not make the list. Did R. Zagone get any consideration? The numbers sure look good. Also, G. Miclat obviously didn't get enough ABs but any thoughts?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Zagone carved up the Penn League as you'd expect a strike-throwing college lefty to do, but he works around 85-88 and doesn't have great secondary stuff, though he flashes a promising slider. I think his future is in the bullpen, where his velocity plays up some. Miclat was a great college player at Virginia whose best asset is his speed and defense, but he's also a pesky slap hitter. He's like an infield version of JB Shuck.

Aaron Fitt: By the way, Will Lingo just let me know that I have correctly handicapped the office cage match, and that if Ben Badler is found in a shallow grave this weekend, he has nothing to do with it.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Aaron, How would you compare Havens with another South Carolina shortstop, Adam Everett? Is there any worry that Havens will have problems hitting at higher levels like Everett?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Not even close to the same player. Everett was an elite defensive shortstop whose bat was always an afterthought. Havens' best tool is his bat — he takes a loud BP, and scouts believe he will hit for some power at the upper levels. He improved his defense greatly during his junior year at South Carolina, to the point that most scouts now believe he can stick at the position whereas before he seemed destined to move to second base or behind the plate. But he's not even close to Everett's class defensively. Very, very few shortstops are.

 Q:  Andy from Sarver asks:
I have watched Tim Fedroff play at North Carolina and Mahoning Valley, I was really surprised how fast he is. How does he project in Stolen Bases? Is he an above average fielder?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: He's a legit above-average runner down the line, but he's just average in the outfield. He's one of those guys that is very fast underway and runs so hard that it makes his speed play up. I don't really see him as a big stolen base guy, but his instincts should make him a very good baserunner.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Were there any Oneonta players that we should pay attention to?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: The cupboard was really quite bare at Oneonta this year. The most intriguing prospect there was Brandon Douglas, an infielder from Northern Iowa who the Tigers stole in the 11th round. He's one of those average tools across the board kind of guys, and I see him as a potential solid regular big league second baseman down the road.

 Q:  John from NJ asks:
As a Nats fan its good to see three prospects in the top 20. Wanted to ask about another pitcher on the staff who was pretty highly regarded coming into the year - Brad Peacock. What there any buzz around the league with him?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: First Nats question! I hope you guys show up in force for the Nationals chat this winter ... Peacock is one of my favorite sleepers in the Washington system. He's got a loose arm and ran his fastball up to 93 this summer. He's also got a good changeup and curveball, but he tends to lean too heavily on his change. He needs to trust his curve more and do a better job commanding his fastball.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Did Jacob Jeffries get consideration for this list? His plate discipline seems to stand out the most, but what about his other tools?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: His plate discipline has always been his biggest asset — he was one of the toughest hitters in the nation to strike out this spring at UC Davis. He's a really soft hitter, though, who hit a lot of balls between shortstop and the left-field line. It was hard to get a feel for his defense this summer, because he DHed a lot more than he caught, but he had a reputation as an average catch-and-throw guy in college, with a fringe-average arm. Scouts were not impressed with his arm this summer.

 Q:  Jack from SF asks:
How do you determine the rankings? Draft Status? Stats? Scouting Reports? Because this list is not based on any of those criteria. Pre-draft, BA as a whole killed Castro. They said he was an overdraft but now he's #1 on the list? OK, so he's #1 because he was drafted high? Then how is Davis #17? He had a disappointing year but he was drafted 18th for a reason. And how is Brad Holt, the most dominating person (pitcher or pos player) in the Penn league #7? So Castro is #1 because he's the highest pick, Davis #17 because he had a disappointing year and Holt #7 for no reason. How do you defend this list?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Come on, Jack, do your homework before you submit a question like this, OK? We rated Castro No. 21 in our predraft top 200, and we said he was the third-best catcher on the board (I encourage you to go back and read our draft scouting report on him — it was quite glowing). He went No. 10 overall, the third catcher off the board. At the time, we thought he seemed like a bit of a reach, but not a major reach in a draft where catching was at a premium (as it almost always is). Then he went to Omaha and was the best player at Rosenblatt, and scouts were very impressed with him in the NY-P. Draft status has a little to do with it, because he was viewed as a consensus first-round pick by the entire scouting community entering the draft, and yeah, we put some stock in that. But he also had a solid summer and was well received in his pro debut by talent evaluators. Davis ranked behind Castro entering the draft and then had a downright awful debut — scouts had very few good things to say about him. The only reason he made the list at all is because of his undeniable upside and track record, because he really did not impress this summer. That's why he tumbled to No. 17. That doesn't mean we're killing him as a prospect, but these league top 20s will always be slanted toward how a player performed and was evaluated while he was in a given league, though there are also other criteria. As for Holt, I suggest you try reading the scouting reports before saying he was No. 7 "for no reason." How about the fact that he has only one pitch that ranks even close to average right now? Don't get me wrong, I really like Holt, and his fastball is special, but he has flaws at this stage of his development.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
Do you feel that Chisenhall's personal problems were a one time thing? Are there any questions about his makeup?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: The Indians thoroughly vetted his makeup before they drafted him in the first round, I assure you. He addressed all of their concerns, and that's good enough for me. Nobody questioned his makeup this summer, I'll say that. He made a big mistake, and he'll have to work to prove to people it was a one-time mistake, but so did Clay Buchholz.

 Q:  Bill from Georgia asks:
Was Luis Sumoza eligible for this list since he was traded to Atlanta? How would he have been placed if he was?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: He was eligible, and he was a tough omission, because he does have legitimate power potential. But he's a very streaky hitter and a poor defender in the outfield — he's still got a long way to go.

 Q:  Rob from Alaska asks:
What do scouts say about the year Will Middlebrooks had? The numbers weren't there, but he was supposed to be raw. Was he raw-er than expected?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: He's just going to take some time. He's still young, and yes, he developed a little more slowly this year than I think some people anticipated. But he has good infield actions and should be fine defensively — just give his bat time.

 Q:  Steve from Wappingers Falls, NY asks:
Would Cole White (St. College) have made the top 20 if he had a full season? He was hitting over .350 for most of the year with a 17 game hitting streak.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Honestly, it would have been hard for any 42nd-round pick (unless he was an above-slot guy) to make the top 20 in a league this deep and talented. I liked White at Army — very good competitive two-way player who has some potential with the bat, but scouts weren't terribly excited about him in the Northeast this year. He's got to prove himself at higher levels.

 Q:  Elliot Legow from Youngstown OH asks:
Eric Berger came and went (up to the Sally League) pretty quickly but pitched well while he was at Mahoning Valley. Does he project as a prospect?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Berger's definitely a prospect, a guy who missed a year with Tommy John surgery at Arizona but came back strong this spring and could take off now that his surgery is well behind him. He's a lefty with a good frame, a fastball that can reach the low 90s and a very good breaking ball.

 Q:  Elliot Legow from Youngstown OH asks:
I thought I heard Travis Fryman say Chisenhall was staying at short, no? What's he lacking to be a SS: range, arm, hands, reaction?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: He will not be staying at short. He did a decent job there this summer, but his range and footwork are not good enough to stay there for long. I like him as a third baseman, though.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
Both Scott & Matthew Gorgen were outstanding in their pro debuts this year. Did either draw support for the Top 20?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Neither drew much support, but you'll never, ever catch me counting out a Gorgen. Those kids are tough as nails.

 Q:  Ian S. from London, UK asks:
Thanks for the chat! If you were doing a 'best tools' survey of the league, who would come out on top: Best Infield Glove Hardest Throwing Pitcher Best Raw Power?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Best defensive infielder: Troy Hanzawa. Best fastball: Brad Holt. Best power hitter: David Cooper

 Q:  Ian S. from London, UK asks:
Aaron- you do the Nats top prospect list for BA- anything in the NY Penn league this year to give Nats fans some hope, besides Dean and Norris? Are guys like William Attwood or Casey Whitmer prospects?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: All right, another Nats question! Vermont had a couple of interesting college lefties in Will Atwood and Ricardo Pecina, both of whom could move pretty quickly. Atwood commanded three pretty solid pitches this summer, pitching around 88-90, showing a good curveball and an outstanding changeup. Pecina is similarly aggressive and has a similar three-pitch mix, though Atwood drew a little more interest this summer. Whitmer was shut down with arm issues, but just read my scouting report on him in the Texas Collegiate League last summer, when he ranked as the league's No. 1 prospect. When healthy, he's a hard thrower with some upside. Also keep an eye on Marcus Jones, an athletic center fielder out of NC State who showed a good line drive stroke at Vermont.

 Q:  Josh from Cleveland asks:
Who is this kid thats 20th on your list? What kind of stuff does he have as a pitcher?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Danny Farquhar was the big surprise on the list. The scouting report says it all, but he's one of the most unusual prospects out there. He's 93-94 with an average power curveball from a high three quarters slot, then he drops down below sidearm and throws 90 with an average slider from down there. And he has good command from both slots. Hitters hate facing this guy, especially righthanded hitters.

 Q:  Joe from DE asks:
Was the only reason that Stutes and Cisco didn't make the list is because they were moved to Lakewood too quickly or was there some other limiting factor?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Neither guy was a premium talent coming out of college, but both carved up the league as advanced college pitchers ought to. Cisco probably does not have enough velocity to succeed at higher levels. Stutes has a chance — he can run it up to 92-93 and flashes three other average pitches. He just had a disappointing spring that torpedoed his draft stock, but he's at least got a shot.

 Q:  Enrique Salas from Carabobo, Venezuela asks:
I known that Justin Smoak no played in this league, but I have a dispute with some of my friends. In terms of Player overall, not what position they play or they'll play in the future, who is the better prospect Justin Smoak or Jason Castro? Basically who has the best ceiling?.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Smoak. I believe he has a real chance to be a perennial All-Star type player. I see Castro more as an occasional All-Star or just solid regular, and he's not as much of a sure thing. But there's still plenty of value in that — good catching is awfully hard to find.

 Q:  Dean from San Francisco asks:
Were there any Yankee prospects considered for the top twenty? Who are their best prospects?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Wow, two hours in before we get our first Yankees question. I know it's bad in the Bronx these days, guys, but have you shifted all of your attention completely over to the Giants?

Aaron Fitt: David Adams was the closest to making the list, and he wasn't that close. He's got a chance to be an offensive second baseman down the road, but his swing's a little long and has an arm bar, and he's not as agile as you'd like to see from a second baseman. I liked Dan Brewer a bit during his college days at Bradley, but scouts killed his offensive approach this summer. Slim pickings at Staten Island.

 Q:  Marcus from Silver Spring asks:
Should I be excited that the Nats have had 3 players in each of the top 20's(of leagues there in) that have come out so far?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I believe the Nats drafted well for the second straight year, and they continue to stock the lower levels of their system with talent. It's too bad they couldn't get Crow signed, because he would have given them some much-needed talent at the higher levels of their system in a hurry.

 Q:  Kevin from Boston asks:
Why no Stephen Fife? 2.33 ERA, 41 K's to 11 BB's in 38 and 2/3 innings with a WHIP of 1.01.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Fife was yet another very intriguing prospect at Lowell (Mitch Dening was another, by the way) who didn't quite make the list. He's actually pretty similar to Kyle Weiland and Bryan Price — the Red Sox got three quality college arms with those three picks. Fife's fastball has plenty of sink and run, and he has good feel for a breaking ball and changeup. He tended to pitch off his secondary stuff in college and his learning to pitch off his fastball more now.

 Q:  Dean from San Francisco asks:
Patrick Venditte did a great job as a closer this year. Is he considered a prospect? Is he a better right-handed or left-handed pitcher? Where do you predict him to play next year?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: He's better from the right side, where he pitches in the 86-89 range with a 73-74 mph curveball. He's a fringe prospect from the right side. He's deceptive from the left side but only pitches at 76-77 with his fastball, and that won't get it done at higher levels.

 Q:  Erik from Cedar Rapids, IA asks:
Thanks for the chats, this is one of my favorite times of the year to be a subscriber to BA. I was wondering however: Why no Lance Lynn? Seems like he'd be a shoe-in to me for this list.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Lynn did not pitch enough to qualify for the list, but I've always been a fan of his at Ole Miss. Kind of like Brad Holt, his strength his is ability to command his heavy fastball, but his secondary stuff is fringy.

Aaron Fitt: Well, that's all for today, folks. Thanks for all the fine questions — I enjoyed the chat, as usual. Don't miss Nathan Rode's Northwest League chat on Monday.