Northwest League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Conor Glassey
Hey everybody! Thanks for reading
Baseball America and submitting many great questions to our Northwest
League chat. I'm drinking some coffee and listening to my favorite band
from Seattle (my favorite band from anywhere, actually) Gatsby's
American Dream, so I'm ready to go!
JAYPERS (IL): Did Rashun Dixon get any consideration for this list? What are scouts telling you about him?
Yeah, Dixon did get some consideration.
He had a great season in the AZL last year, but really struggled in the
NWL Still, it's a fast league for a guy that only turned 19 late in the
year. Dixon is a great athlete who was also recruited as a wide
receiver, but still needs a lot of polish as a prospect. Dixon is very
athletic and looks the part, though he's just an average runner in the
outfield (with an arm that limits him to left) and is below average
from home to first because of a big swing. He has big raw power, but
was exposed against breaking balls this year, which would help explain
his .214/.300/.281 line. Actually, the Vancouver outfielder who
received more support (and was a very late cut from the list) was
center fielder Tyreace House. His .291/.365/.306 line is one of the
stranger ones you'll see (of his 57 hits, 54 were singles and 3 were
doubles). Another former football recruit, House is also a supreme
athlete that is at least a 70 runner and a well-above average defender
in center field. The arm is fringy and he's still learning how to put
the ball in play more often to utilize his wheels, but he's a guy to
keep an eye on.
Navin (Pasadena, CA): Conor, thank you very
much for answering questions. I loved seeing 3 Cubs in the top 20 but I
was wondering if LHP Jeffry Antigua was on the radar. He is only 19 and
did very well during his stint at Boise (2.30 ERA and 35 Ks in 31.1
innings) before getting promoted to Peoria and doing well there too.
Thanks, Navin. You're right, Antigua
had a good season, but didn't garner a lot of support for the list. His
fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range, he has a slider that's tough on
lefties and a changeup. His fastball has a lot of movement and he's
able to throw his secondary pitches for strikes. Boise manager Casey
Kopitzke said he liked Antigua the best out of the Hawks other arms
this year (Hernandez, Nunez & Gonzalez).
Brad (San Diego): How does Charlie Ruiz not make this list? He lead the league in saves and was dominant all year
For me, minor league relievers
(especially in short-season leagues) really have to jump off the page
to merit consideration in a Top 20 and leading the Northwest League in
saves really isn't a big deal. Just ask previous leaders like Jose
Guzman, Daniel Otero, Juan Trinidan and Brian Anderson. That said, Ruiz
(a 10th-round pick this year out of Long Beach State) is interesting.
His fastball's only 88-90, but he throws a nasty splitter that is
"pretty much unhittable," as his manager put it. He can control the
pitch and throw it for strikes too, which is why he struck out 46 guys
over 32 innings.
Bill (Tempe, AZ): Conor, thanks for the chat.
Edinson Rincon didn't get a single mention from managers when I did the
2008 AZL prospect list, but now he's #2 in the NWL. To what do you
attribute the big improvement from one year to the next?
John (San Diego): Is there any chance the Padres could move Rincon to catcher or right field because of his arm?
Hey, Bill. Good to hear from you.
Rincon probably flew under the radar last year because he only got 65
at-bats in the AZL. He hit for a good average (.308) and got on base
(.429), but didn't show the power he displayed this year with Eugene,
which helped him stand out this year too.
John, I actually asked about him moving to catcher because of his build
and his arm, but it sounds like it's out of the question because he
doesn't have the mobility or quickness necessary to play back there.
Right field could be an option - that probably should have said corner
outfield instead of left field. But, as one scout put it: "I don't care
where he plays, because he's going to hit."
John (Salt Lake City, Utah): Did Evan Crawford
qualify for the top 20? If so, did he get consideration? He had a
higher slugging % than his teammate Dominguez and a much higher OPS,
plus he's an extremely athletic leadoff-type CF, which every team is
Crawford did qualify and got some
consideration, though he's more in the 20-30 range. I grew up in the
Northwest and got to see an AquaSox/Volcanoes game this summer when I
went home for a friend's wedding and Crawford was a lot of fun to
watch. He's extremely fast and when I saw him, he laced a line drive to
right field that literally went through one of the tiles in the
hand-operated scoreboard for a ground-rule double. I've never seen that
before, though it must have happened before because one of the other
tiles had a hole in it as well. Crawford played some second base at
Indiana, so he's still adjusting to the outfield and learning how to
read balls off the bat. His arm isn't an asset out there, but it's
getting better. Offensively, the Giants are working with him on his
approach at the plate�working on his bunting and keeping the ball on
the ground to put his speed to use.
JAYPERS (IL): Had Stassi played enough to qualify, about where would you have ranked him? Did the A's get a steal in your eyes?
Stassi certainly would have ranked if
he had enough PAs to qualify and probably would have been in the 5-10
range. He's a good player, though it's hard to say he was a "steal"
because the A's still paid him $1.5 million.
Ryan (Boise): Who are the top guys that either
signed late or didn't qualify that would have pushed some of these guys
from this list if they were here for full season?
Hey, Ryan. I'd be in favor of an
earlier signing deadline simply because it would make doing rookie and
short-season lists a lot more fun! Some of the guys that didn't qualify
and likely would have ranked include: Stassi, who I touched on earlier,
Everett shortstop Nick Franklin, Eugene outfielder Everett Williams
& Eugene righthanders Keyvius Sampson & Jorge Reyes.
guys all fell quite a ways short of qualifying, but one pitcher that
would have ranked prominently that was just 2 appearances short of
making the cut was Tri-City lefthander Rex Brothers, who got glowing
reviews from those that saw him. Brothers was sitting 95-97 with a
nasty slider that one scout ranked as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. If the
Rockies keep him in the bullpen, he could move very quickly. In fact,
Tri-City manager Freddie Ocasio said, "The first time I saw him pitch
here, I said, 'This guy could pitch in the big leagues right now.'"
Ben (Dallas): What separates Tommy Mendonca at
11 and Chris Dominguez at 13? Slightly better approach, more
willingness to work on his game, or something else?
They're similar, in that they're both
big power/big strikeout third basemen. What puts Mendonca ahead for me
is that he bats lefthanded and is a better defender.
Jon (Peoria): Hi Conor: How would you rank Lee
among the Cubs' middle infield prospects (Castro, Flaherty, Lake,
Watkins)? In particular, how does Lee compare with Castro?
Obviously I think Lee is better than
Watkins. I like Lee better than Flaherty too because Lee is a
legitimate shortstop. Overall, I think I would rank them:
Castro-Lee-Flaherty-Watkins. Lee might be the best singer though!
Justin (Nashville): So are the Cubs justified
in taking Brett Jackson over Tim Wheeler at this point? I know a lot of
Cubs fans didn't like the Jackson pick because of his strikeouts.
Sure, I think so. In hindsight it looks
like we were a little too high on Wheeler and a little too low on
Jackson. The strikeouts were a big concern, but maybe (and this is pure
speculation) he was swinging harder to try and impress scouts and once
he got into pro ball he let out a big sigh of relief and calmed down at
the plate. After all, his strikeout rate doubled from his sophomore
year to his junior year.
Jackson is a better runner, defender
and might hit for a better average. Wheeler profiles for more power,
but might fill out to the point that he'll have to move to a corner
Jerry (Long Island, NY): Hey Conor,
The Mariners had a lot of talent at Everett this year. How close were
LHP Jose Rios, RHP Nick Czyz, CF Matt Cerione and LF Ryan Royster to
making the list?
Jerry (Long Island, NY): Conor,
Where would M's SS prospect Nick Franklin rank on this list if he had
been eligible? What do scouts think about him in terms of skills and
Hi Jerry. Rios, Czyz and Royster didn't
get any support and none of them are considered prospects. Cerione
showed some tools and a good understanding of the strike zone. He looks
like a great pick for the Mariners in the 13th round. Another AquaSox
player to keep in the back of your mind is South African shortstop
Anthony Phillips. His approach at the plate is terrible (he swings at
everything), but he did show a little bit of pop in batting practice
and his defense is exceptional. Frogs manager John Tamargo said he's
already a major-league quality defender at shortstop. Despite this
being his third pro year, he was only 19 in the league this year.
for Franklin, I talked to Everett's manager before he was called up, so
I can't give a more up-to-date report on him, though I did see him in
high school and liked what I saw. (Here's a link to what I wrote on him
after seeing him in a Florida HS all-star game about 2 weeks before the
Like Stassi, he probably would have fallen in the 5-10 range if he
phil (Scottsdale Stadium): What kept Jorge Bucardo from cracking the top 20?
Fringey stuff. He's does a lot of
things you want a pitcher to do: works fast, throws strikes, controls
the running game, gets groundballs and fields his position well. But he
throws sidearm, so it's tough to project him as more than a long man or
matt (philly): Were the hitters in the NWL that good, or were the pitchers that bad?
Many managers said it was a down year for pitchers.
Paul (St. Pete FL): Did Kent Matthes get any votes and did he impress managers and scouts?
Not really. Matthes started off hot,
but faded later in the year as he tired out. He shows above-average
power and plays a good right field, but needs to cut down on his
strikeouts and slow down his at-bats.
Tim (NorthSideBaseball): Watkins was
originally selected as a shortstop. Do you think he could still play
there and was moved for Lee, or does he not have the tools for SS?
Watkins played hard at instructs to
improve his defense. While he did improve his range and footwork, he
still profiles as more of a second baseman.
Brian (SD): Any opinion on Vincent Belnome?
Belnome, a 22nd-round pick this year
out of West Virginia, was a pleasant surprise for Eugene. He has a
selective approach at the plate and led the league with 52 walks. His
manager said he's a pure hitter with a swing that's built the other
way. "Most guys are all middle-in hitters and you can get them out by
throwing to the other side of the plate," Eugene manager Greg Riddoch
said. "That takes maybe a year for kids to develop and learn how to do
that. He came with that already built in, but he can also pull it. He
hit 10 home runs here—five over the left field wall and five over the
right field wall."
Belnome worked hard to improve his range, but
he has a stocky body and didn't show the speed you'd like out of an
Mike R (Lockport,New York): What did mgrs and
scouts say about Matt Thompson ?
It appeared he improved over the course of the season, especially
control. I also read he was throwing at 92mph at end of season.
You're right that he was better later
in the year. His manager said Thompson was phenomenal his last three or
four starts. I had him as 88-91 with his fastball, but it's possible
that he was touching 92. He uses his fastball a lot and is able to
pitch to both sides of the plate. He also has a good slider and a
changeup with a clean delivery.
Chuck (Wichita): Drew Biery was one of my favorite players during K-State's breakthrough year. Can he become a legitimate prospect? Thanks.
It was a great summer for Biery. He got
drafted, put up great numbers in the Northwest League and got married.
His numbers were so good, in fact, that teammates called him "Biery
Bonds." But, he's a 22nd-round senior sign, so he's a guy that's going
to have to prove it every year. He's a strong, grinder type, but
doesn't have any standout tools.
Fred (Ohio): How close was Nate Freiman to
making this list? He put up really good power numbers in the NWL which
is nice to see in such a big guy.
Nate Freiman wins the award for most
questions in the queue. Didn't realize that guy had such a fan club!
But no, he didn't come close. He's a huge guy with big-time raw power,
but the bat's slow and he's limited to first base.
Mikey (Vista, California): What Chris Fetter close to making the list or did he just not log enough innings?
He did have enough innings and he was a
late bump from the Top 20. He sure dominated the league, but that's
what he should have done given his experience. Fetter pitches in the
low 90s and commands three pitches. He has the stuff and delivery to
work as a starter, but could move quickly as a reliever and help the
Padres continue to have the tallest bullpen in baseball.
Michael (Provo, UT): When he was drafted, most
scouts I read thought Matt Davidson would eventually move to first
base. I take it from your article that he'll probably be able to stay
at third base? How much more value would that give him as a prospect?
And is Davidson increasing bat speed by developing more of a
quick-twitch swing possible, or are some people simply not born with
the muscle fibers it takes?
Yeah, that seemed to be the consensus,
but even though he improved defensively it's not out of the question
that he'll be able to stay there long term. He could still have to move
across if he fills out. You can increase bat speed, but quick-twitch
actions are something you either have or don't.
Ben (Dallas): Miguel Velazquez... What do you expect to see out of him next year? Is he arguably the best OF in the Ranger's system?
He's probably in the discussion.
Despite having one of the best systems in baseball, the Rangers don't
have many outfield prospects.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Hey Conor, thank you
for the chat. With Davidson's defense taking a step forward this year,
do you think his offense suffered at all from spending a lot of time
working with the glove? Could he take a nice step forward next year
with the bat?
Well, he better not take a step back
with the bat! I think the problem for Davidson offensively was that he
was one of the youngest players in the league—well below the average
age—and was pounded with off-speed stuff. Even coming from Southern
California, it's a big jump from high school to a short-season league.
Joseph Wall (Fort Worth): Thanks for the chat
Connor. I know the stats were ugly, but I curious what you heard about
Geuris Grullon...I've read some local writers rave about his stuff.
Here's the quick-and-dirty on Grullon:
Lots of strikeouts, but lots of walks too. Nice body, loose arm,
fastball is 88-91 with good movement, slider is pretty good and
changeup is a work in progress.
Doug (Utah): What is Robbie Ross' ceiling? Mid-rotation starter? Bullpen? Better than either of those?
I think mid-rotation starter is safe, though he'll have to get stronger and show he can pitch 150+ innings.
Katie (Chicago!): Can players qualify in two leagues if they split time?
robert (cola sc): Hey conor. thanks for the
chat. Ryan Wheeler put up good offensive numbers. IS he a legit 1b
prospect in the majors or were his numbers inflated by his age?
He sounds legit. Wheeler was the first
name out of managers' mouths when they started talking about other
players in the league. Looks like the D-Backs got a steal in the fifth
Dan (Colorado): Is there an "under-the radar" prospect that didnt make the list that you like?
Here are a handful of deep sleepers
before I peace out: Eugene catcher Emmanuel Quiles, who needs to work
on his bat, but was one of the younger players in the league and was
regarded as the best catch-and-throw guy; two Spokane relievers—Justin
Miller, who was 89-91 last year but was up to 95 this year with a plus
slider and Reiner Bermudez, a tiny Cuban that was 92-96 with a hard,
77-80 mph curveball; Vancouver outfielder Jose Crisotomo and Boise
outfielder Jose Valdez.
That's all for me, folks. Thank you for
all the great questions. I tried to get to as many as I could. Stay
tuned tomorrow for the Midwest League Top 20 list and a chat with Jim