League Top 20 Prospects

Carolina League Chat


Moderator: Josh Leventhal will chat about the Carolina League's prospects at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Moderator: Thanks for joining me to chat about the Carolina League, one of the few places on the baseball landscape where the Orioles (or at least a few of their prospects) reign. So let's get to it.

 Q:  Jon from Dallas asks:
How close were Derrick Robinson and Joseph Dickerson to making the list? Does Derrick Robinson profile out to a Joey Gathright type player? Or does he have a little more pop?

Josh Leventhal: Unfortunately Dickerson only had a partial season's work to draw on which made it tough to push him into the top 20. He's been solid going level to level through the Royals system. He may be a bit of a tweener in the outfield, without enough power for a corner spot and not enough speed for center . . . I like Dickerson and he was certainly in consideration for the bottom of the list. Right now his best tool is his speed, which grades at a 70. He's going to be an above-average defender in center with a good arm. The question is if he'll hit. He's still young but he needs to improve his approach at the plate and focus on keeping the ball out of the air to take advantage of that speed.

 Q:  Todd from Chattanooga asks:
Josh What do you see the Braves doing with Tyler Flowers going into the Future? Is he a potential bridge gap between Kotchman and Freeman or a formidable backup to McCann? Would love to know your opinion as to why Gorkys steal production droppeed so heavily - did his hamstring hamper him that much? -AND- Where would Tommy Hanson have fallen on the list had he qualified? Thanks!

Josh Leventhal: Flowers definitely is blocked at the big league level, though whether or not he sticks behind the plate is uncertain. I was told that he could be the Braves' version of Craig Wilson — back up McCann, play some first and outfield. Gorkys was told to play at 70 percent this year and that is the reason for the decrease in steals. A league manager thought that he dogged it a bit out there, a fact that Rocket Wheeler insisted is not true. Hanson would've been a top 5 guy for sure and would've challenged Arrieta for the top pitcher's spot.

 Q:  Ben from LA asks:
Your thoughts on Daniel Moskos? Where does his future lie?

Josh Leventhal: There wasn't much praise for Moskos — a lot of managers preferred just not to talk about him rather than say anything negative. His stuff looked pretty good at the start of the season then fell off toward the end. His velo dipped into the high 80s. Sounds like the bullpen will be his future.

 Q:  DK from NYC asks:
Who is LEAST likely to be big league rotation-ready by April 2010: Arrieta, Matusz, or Tillman?

Josh Leventhal: That's a tough one. Arrieta was awfully polished in the Carolina League and pitches well off that fastball. Tillman had little problem with the Eastern League and you'd think would get a crack at it by the end of next year. Let's go with Matusz just cause he hasn't made his debut yet.

 Q:  Candice from New York City asks:
Josh, your thoughts on Brandon Hicks as a future major leaguer...does he have the tools to make it. I know his glove and arm are top notch. Will he hit in higher levels?

Josh Leventhal: He's ready defensively and he showed he can hit for power with wood. This was his first full pro season and it sounds like his contact rate will improve with more opportunities. He needs to cut down his swing and improve his offspeed pitch recognition.

 Q:  Rory from Staten Island, NY asks:
Wieters = Piazza?

Josh Leventhal: That's quite a comp. Has the potential to hit for that power alright. He's built like Mauer but with more power — won't hit for that kind of average though.

 Q:  Harry from RI asks:
Had Jordan Zimmermann pitched enough innings to qualify, where would you have ranked him?

Josh Leventhal: Zimmerman raced through the league. The top 5 would have been more competitive if he had qualified along with Kinston's Carlos Santana and Myrtle Beach's Tommy Hanson. That's tough as to how the top three pitching slots would've turned out. Maybe Hanson, Zimmerman, Arrieta.

 Q:  Jalah from Manhattan, NY asks:
Future Tribe third baseman...Wes Hodges or Beau Mills? Or, will Mills be the Tribe's future first baseman?

Josh Leventhal: It's not Beau Mills. He's pretty well locked in at first, and should be adequate enough defensively to stick there. Obviously he has the power offensively for first.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
There was talk last year that Brandon Erbe may have to move to the bullpen. I thought part of this was due to his funky delivery. Now that he's made adjustments, do you think he's likely to stay a starter? Also, how would you rate his upside against J. Arrieta?

Josh Leventhal: Erbe made a lot of progress this season and developed his secondary stuff enough to remain a starter. He's got two fastballs coming at 90+, and a potential plus pitch in his slider. Arrieta is a lot more polished and with a bigger arsenal of pitches to draw from.

 Q:  Emmett from Fayetteville, GA asks:
Do scouts think Eric Campbell has gotten back on the prospect wagon?

Josh Leventhal: People were a little hesitant to put too much stock on Campbell's performance this year. Let's see what he does above Class A.

 Q:  John from Pensacola, FL asks:
The Myrtle Beach starting staff did well this season. Are Ryne Reynoso, Scott Diamond, Deunte Heath, and Kyle Cofield legit prospects? The latest BA org report said that Cofield was one of the hardest throwers in the Atlanta system.

Josh Leventhal: Myrtle Beach was pretty well loaded this year. Diamond pitches at 86-91 with an above average changeup and average curveball. Cofield is young and still learning to pitch and has a very projectable body (6-5, 205) to go with a 90-94 mph fastball and plus changeup.

 Q:  Jason from KY asks:
Had Chris Marrero stayed healthy all year, would he have probably ranked higher? I have a hard time believing Weglarz is a better prospect than Marrero! Where will Marrero start off in '09?

Josh Leventhal: A full season certainly would've helped Marrero, considering he was coming around after a pretty brutal start. He's supposed to be ready for instructional league, so I think how he looks there and in the spring will determine where he starts, but I would imagine he'll be back in Potomac to begin 09.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Just wondering about the stregth of the Carolina league overall this year. How does this year's top 20 compare to last year and previous years? thanks

Josh Leventhal: I felt like the top 15 in this league was pretty solid and got a pretty good consensus from people I spoke to that those were the right guys — though opinions differed on some of the rankings. I think there were probably a good 20 players in the mix for the bottom five, and arguments could have been made for most of them. I'd say it's down from last year.

 Q:  mike from DC asks:
Do the O's have any plans to try Brandon Snyder at LF or 3B in Bowie next year? I'd like to see him at the hot corner now that he likely won't be on the same team as Rowell.

Josh Leventhal: No, I think he's at first for good. They think he has the potential to be a good defensive first baseman.

 Q:  Michael from Baltimore asks:
Just a clarification I believe. Should Ian Oquendo, rhp, Lynchburg (Pirates) be Ian Snell? I thought he changed his name and so would have made the major leagues.

Josh Leventhal: Very good catch. That indeed is Ian Snell.

 Q:  Bill from Myrtle Beach, SC asks:
With the pitching staff that Myrtle Beach had this season, how does none of their pitchers crack this list. Cofield is 6'5 and was 92-95 with one of the best breaking balls in the Braves organization. Although he did have a high walk total. Reynoso had a great season. And even though he got called up to AA, Deunte Heath might have one of the best arms in the minors (94-97). Does any of these guys have a chance to pitch in the Big Leagues?

Josh Leventhal: Cofield and Diamond were in the mix, and I'd say Cofield was the closest. Like I said he's young and still learning to pitch but his stuff is there. Control and command are where he needs the most improvement.

 Q:  Jeff B from Woking, England asks:
DO you think Kanekoa Texeira projects as a middle reliever or a closer?

Josh Leventhal: I think Texeira has to be a back of the bullpen reliever to succeed. He's got two quality pitches, including a slider that he can locate around the strike zone. His changeup is a bit rough at this point.

 Q:  Carl from Gilbert, AZ asks:
What puts Blake Wood ahead of Brandon Erbe given that Wood is almost 2.5 years older? Does Wood have a higher ceiling or a better three pitch mix?

Josh Leventhal: That is a tough one. Erbe did come along well this year but I think Wood does have a higer ceiling. He's got two above-average pitches now in a mid-90s fastball and an above-average curve and I think will make a push for the rotation by the end of next year.

 Q:  Hagan from Charleston, Illinois asks:
How likely is it that Poreda will stay a starter though out his career?

Josh Leventhal: That is the question with Poreda and it mostly depends on how his secondary stuff comes along. He still has some issues with his mechanics (repeating his arm slot, getting good tilt on his slider) to iron out to stay in the rotation. No denying his power arm, as his fastball got up to 95 this season. If the White Sox want to fast track him, it would be as a reliever.

 Q:  Gustavo Gonzalez from Caracas Venezuela asks:
Hi Josh, Did scouts see enough progress in Koby Clemens this year to project him as a major leaguer? What kind of ceiling does he have?

Josh Leventhal: There wasn't much talk about Clemens. People were generally pretty disappointed in his consistency. Like a different player from one at-bat to the next.

 Q:  Hagan from Charleston, Illinois asks:
Do you see Brandon Allen being a good enough hitter to become an every day DH in the majors? Also could he eventually get his defensive skill up to par to become a first baseman in the majors?

Josh Leventhal: Like I wrote about him on the list, there were vastly differing opinions on Allen. One scout said he'll end up being one of the bigger surprises in the big leagues while another said his best case scenario is a lefthanded bat off the bench. The raw power is there for sure, he needs to improve his pitch recognition and discipline.

 Q:  Darren from UK asks:
Just out of curiosity, if Carlos Santana had qualified for the Carolina League list as opposed to the California League where would he have ranked? Slotted in at #2 behind Wieters or would he have slipped below his fellow K-Tribe hitters (Mills, Weglarz)?

Josh Leventhal: He'd have been No. 2. I got pretty glowing reports on Santana, comparing favorably to Wieters minus the size. He's a disciplined switch-hitter with a strong accurate throwing arm and athleticism behind the plate. He needs to work on some defensive fundamentals, receiving better with his hands and better movement.

 Q:  Elliot from Youngstown OH asks:
Past reports have expressed some doubts about Carlos Rivero's consistant approach and willingness to learn. Any improvements demonstrated this year?

Josh Leventhal: I think the Indians were pleased with his development. He's just 20, and has a pretty good approach at the plate — doesn't go out of the zone a lot for pitches. He's got good hands and a good arm, but needs to expand his range.

 Q:  Darren from UK asks:
Rondon really had a breakout year this year after a solid, but unspectacular 2007 in Kinston. With him going to Double A next year at the age of 21 how excited should Indians fans be about his ceiling?

Josh Leventhal: A lot of potential in Rondon. It'll be interesting to see how he does in the jump to Double-A. He's got plenty of power and life in his fastball, but needs to refine his breaking pitches, tighten his slider/slurve, to be successful at the next level.

 Q:  Ian from VA asks:
Surprised to see Rowell so low. Granted he didn't have the best numbers. When you see his frame and swing, he should develop into one of the best power hitters in all of baseball. Something that cannot be said for many who are higher on your list.

Josh Leventhal: There's no doubting the potential is there, and that's what got him on the list at all. It's his pitch recognition and approach at the plate that raises questions if he'll reach that potential (208 strikeouts-67 walks in two years of Class A ball).

Moderator: Okay folks, I appreciate all the questions and interest. I've got to get some work done before heading out for the weekend. Thanks for the chat.