California League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Dave Perkin
JAYPERS (IL): How much of Liddi's numbers can
be attributed to the CAL? Can you project what they would have been
this year had he been playing in AA?
Obviously the hitter friendly Cal League
parks are going to boost anyone's numbers—especially the parks in the
Southern portion of the League. That being said, I will stick my neck
out and say that Liddi is legit. I think he will hit well beyond High
Desert, and could be a fixture in Seattle for along time. He's a good
defender as well.
Terrance (Denver): Is Friedrich a projected # 1 starter, and how soon do you think it'll be before we get to see him at Coor's?
In most organizations, he would be
projected as a number one. But don't forget the Rockies (my favorite
team) have Jiminez and De La Rosa and hope to have a healthy Francis
back next year. So if and when Friedrich breaks in, they'll probably
use him at the back, then if results merit, he'll creep up higher in
Joe Dunigan (High Desert): Did I get any love for your list? I thought I put on an impressive campaign this year.
Hi Joe, how are you? You're darn tootin'
you got consideration for the list. Problem is, the Cal League was
loaded this year unlike some of the other circuits, which I think were
a bit thin. But the scouts had a lot of good things to say about you,
and I was impressed along with them—big and strong, good power. Good
luck in the future and remember us at BA when you make it to the big
Andrew (York, PA): I know these rankings are
often based more so on projection than performance, but how close did
Jon Gaston and Koby Clemens come to making the list? I know Lancaster
is a hitter's park, but it's hard to argue with the numbers they both
put up this year.
Jon Gaston was on all of my intitial
lists, but missed the cut at the end by a whisper. I don't care if you
play in a little league park, the numbers he and Clemens put up can't
be ignored. Gaston had power at home then on the road—18 at Lancaster,
17 on the road, but hit .308 at home, .248 away from home. Clemens hit
everywhere—14 and .352 at home, 8 and .338 on the road. The knock on
Gaston is K's, on Clemens is the lack of a clear defensive position.
But no doubt—they can both rake.
Henry Thompson (Rohnert Park CA): You say that
Neal's lone tool is hit ability to hit for average, however I have
often heard his power is among the elite in the organization. In the
future how do you see Neal profiling could he hit .300/.350/.450?
Neal was my favorite story in the Cal
League this year. I first met him when I was a part time scout with the
Mets in 2004-2005. He has huge hands and is exceptionally strong in the
wrists and forearms, both trademarks of a good hitter. He really
matured this year. He had over 40 doubles, which is the sign of a guy
who uses the whole field. Most interestingly, he hit around .330
against righthanders—a sign he is hanging in against the curve and
using the opposite field. I'd say he will be a full time LF—imagine a
Giant lineup with Neal, Kieschnick and Posey added to the threat
already posed by the Kung Fu Panda.
TrueBlueLA (Los Angeles): Scott Van Slyke finally made some progress, was it enough to put him back on the prospect map or simply a Cal League illusion?
Was Preston Mattingly the worse high draft pick by Logan White? He doesn't appear to have any skills offensively or defensively.
Van Slyke is a different player than his
Dad. Andy was lithe and wiry, an incredible athlete with plus speed and
a plus arm—a terrific CF. Scott is much bigger but not quite as
athletic. I am going to have to reserve judgement on him as a
hitter—let's see how he does at AA. As for Mattingly, he struggled. He
had a hard time recognizing pitches, and had a tendency to get out on
his front foot and committed too soon. The Dodgers will be patient with
him, but he needs to correct those shortcomings.
Henry Thompson (Rohnert Park): Do you see Roger Kieschnick still having potential 30 hr power as was initially said about him when he was drafted?
Yes, I see Kieschnick having 25-30 HR
power. He also has a fine arm, but as a defensive OF struggles going
back on the ball, which is the toughest play for the young guys.
Kieschnick will have to alter his walk to strike out ratio—it was
something like 30 walks to 130 K's. No one expects a reversal, but
he'll need to at least make some progress or he'll get eaten alive by
Big League pitchers.
phil (Scottsdale Stadium): Hello Dave! Thanks
for your time! You say Madison Bumgarner would have ranked ahead of
Posey if he had qualified, could the same be said for Jarrod Parker?
Actually, for me Posey was number one no
matter if Parker, Bumgarner or anyone else had been here all year. We
do these lists sort of by committee—were are not Randy, Paula and
Simon, but still it's aggregate thing. Posey is the type of player to
build a franchise around—a catcher who can produce at and behind the
plate for a dozen years.
phil (Scottsdale Stadium): I guess Nick Noonan
wasn't as advanced as the Giants thought he was but made some
improvement after the all-star break. What are your thoughts on him?
Did he get any consideration for the top 20?
Noonan did not get Top 20 consideration,
but don't give up hope just yet. He is another kid I scouted in High
School, where he played on the most unusual high school diamond I've
ever seen. He runs well, shows signs of being a quality defender.
Noonan's bat isn't there yet, but I think he has a chance to be a 10-15
homer, .280 guy in the majors. As for making our top 20, he just didn't
make that big jump—the big breakout this year, like Neal did for
norm (san diego): Is Conor Gillaspie the
biggest disappointment of the 2008 draft? His ridiculous contract is
probably the worst of any player from the draft and he hits with no
power and cannot field 3B. Any idea what the Giants will do with him?
Hey Norm! Cheers! To judge the 2008
draft, I think we have to wait a few more years. That being said,
Gillaspie did not impress me at all this year. At third, he doesn't go
after anything that isn't hit right at him. He gets caught on too many
bad or in between hops and doesn't seem to read the ball well off of
the bat. To succeed in pro ball as a hitter, you have to convert a high
percentage of pitchers mistakes. If a pro pticher makes a good or great
pitch, your chances of converting it into a base hit are very low for
anyone, Mauer and Pujols included. Gillaspie struggled to convert
pitchers mistakes into hits when I saw him, and was visibly agitated
when he fouled the pitch off. Lets' track him some more before we give
up on him, howver.
Kent (Sonoma, CA): Dave,
Thank you for the chat. It is nice to see several Giants on the list,
but would it be fair to say that the Giants should be disappointed with
the seasons from Gilaspie, Noonan (and Villalona)?
Yes, but don't forget to look at this in
the long term. I know some of the Giants scouts—Mike Kendall is one of
the very best in the business—and overall they are doing wonderful job
of constructing the ball club. Think of a SF batting order in 2012 that
reads: Ford, Noonan, Neal, Sandoval, Posey, Kieschnick, Gillaspie. That
is tough—and it shows what an intelligent job the Giants are doing in
constructing their big league club.
Kent (Sonoma, CA): Dave,
What have you heard about Clay Tanner and what is his ceiling?
Tanner and Clark are both outstanding. I
can see them adding to a big league rotation of Lincecum, Cain and
Bumgarner by 2011 or 2012. What I like is that they "get it"—they vary
speeds, vary locations. Pitching is not about missing bats, it is about
missing the center of bats. I think we obsess too much about hard
throwers. Give me a 2 ptich ground out at bat over a 8 pitch K all game
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Where do you see
Gillies ceiling - as an exciting everyday lead off hitter, maybe along
the lines of a Juan Pierre? Or is there a chance he goes the way of a
Joey Gathright? Or is he somewhere in between? Gillies and Ichiro would
make a very interesting future top of the order in Seattle.
Bless you, a Gillies question! I grew up
in the mid 60's, and loved the speed oriented Dodger teams of Wills,
Willie Davis, etc. It is a cliche to say that speed never has a slump,
but Gillies has game altering speed. He forces the infield to play in,
forces infielders to hurry, then drives pitchers and catcher nuts when
he gets on. Then, of course, he runs down everything within a tri
county area in CF. I say Wille Davis and maybe Granderson are good
comparisons, but maybe Gillies will not have quite as much power as the
Dave H (Pittsburgh): I was surprised to see J.
Weeks so low on the list. I thought he had a very nice year while
playing a premium up-the-middle position. Do you see him as "only" a
solid regular, or is there more in there?
Sorry, Dave I am not a big Weeks guy. I
thought he was a bit overdrafted out of college. He played well in the
Cal League, but I had be coaxed into putting him on the list—he wasn't
on any of my prelims. In Weeks defense, some managers thought he played
hurt this year, which may be why his numbers were decent but not great.
He is a fine athlete who could hold down a 2B job. Let's see what he
does in a full season when healthy, maybe then he'll show more.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Were Desme's
numbers a product of being an older player in a hitters league, or is
he a legit high ceiling prospect? Is an eventual 30-30 season in the
majors out of the question? Where is his true potential - regular
player or future all star?
Oh no, Desme is legit. He has the
potential to hit and hit for power, and he has a excellent arm and
above average speed. When I saw him in college play the OF, my first
thought was, "uh-oh". But to his credit, he has improved defensively
and should be average in that category one day. Like so many young
guys, he needs to cut down on the K's. Re the A's, the most provocative
aspect is this: With Davis in the majors and with Green, Weeks and
Desme in their system, isn't it fascinating how athletic the Athletics
are getting, post "Moneyball"?
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): How close was OF
Trayvon Robinson to making the list. He showed very nice offensive
ability - hitting for average, power, and stole 43 bases before being
promoted up to AA. Is he a future major leaguer in the Dodgers plans?
Actually, Trayvone is on the list, at
number 15. Another guy I scouted in HS, he went to Crenshaw—which also
produced Daryl Strawberry. Robinson is incredibly fast—one Dodger
scout timed him in the 6.2-6.3 range. He has accomplished what we
scouts look for in a minor leaguer—work on and improve your
weaknesses. Robinson hit very well lefthanded this year, plus he has
become an excellent CF, running down balls in the gaps by getting
terrific jumps and taking good routes. His base stealing still needs
improvement. Base stealing is not so much about speed as it is about
the read and the jump. Robinson got caught a lot this year, which tells
me he is still struggling reading moves. I think he'll get it
eventually, particularly if the Dodgers have him work with Maury Wills.
josh g (sacto, ca): did brandon crawford get any consideration for the list? has he surpassed adrianza as the giants best ss prospect?
We've gotten a couple of Crawford
questions, so let me tackle them all right here. I first saw him at
UCLA's scout day at the MLB academy in 2007, I think it was. He was
downright awful that day. Crawford struggled at the beginning of his
senior year, which dropped him to the 4th round. Still, he has a
chance. Crawford's a good athlete, fine arm (92 off the mound for the
Bruins)and runs acceptably. My problem with him before was that he was
a stance tinkerer, never sticking to the same approach from game to
game. If he gets the bat going, I certainly can see him at SS for the
Dan (Chicago): 2016 best catcher in baseball Wieters Posey or Harper?
2016?! I don't even know what I'm having
for dinner, much less look ahead to 2016! Kidding aside, that is a
great question. I will answer that with a shocker—Harper is not a
catcher for me. I would put him in RF for two reasons: he is such a
great hitting prospect I don't want to see his bat diminshed by the
wear and tear of catching. Second, I don't think he's a very good
defensive receiver. Great arm, but glove isn't there for me and he
wraps the ball behind his ncek. Ok, that leaves Posey and Wieters. I
like them both, and think both will be long term stars, so I don't
think you can miss either way. But if trapped in a corner I'll go with
David (Fort Worth): Did any players for the Rangers' affiliate in Bakersfield merit consideration?
Yes—Tanner Roark. With that last name,
I'm sure he is Paul DePodesta's favorite player. Roark was outstanding
in a very tough place to play—small crowds, rickety old park, bizarre
CF fence and dimensions. As for our list, he was just caught in a
numbers crunch—too many good players in the Cal League this year.
Bryan (Orange, CA.): Do you think in 5 years
we look back at this San Jose team and say it had some of the best big
league talent ever? I mean it seems like your projecting almost every
regular plus a few pitchers to be in the majors. And do you think this
gives the Giants enough to move past the Rangers as the top system in
For me, right now the Giants have the
best system in baseball. But keep in mind I scout amateur baseball for
BA in Southern California and cover the Cal League, so I don't see the
rest of the nation. But from what I've seen San Francisco has the top
farm system as we speak. I could weigh in on who has the worst, but
that is a topic for another day!
Jake (Modesto): So, Friedrich has three plus pitches? When can we expect him in the majors?
I will call Dan O'Dowd and put him on the
playoff roster for you! Actually, with all the fine young pitching the
Rockies already have, they can take their time with Friedrich. No need
to rush. Colorado is another club that has done a great job of
building. They have my favorite player in all of baseball, Troy
Tulowitzki (coincidentally a Long Beach State alum, like myself) who is
the foundation of the franchise. Next, they add all the component
parts—Gonzalez, Young, Stewart, etc. to go with the excellent arms.
Voila!--long term contenders, or so I hope.
Dale (San Francisco): What does it mean
regarding talent levels that Pedro Figueroa, lhp, Kane County
(Athletics) is 19th prospect in Midwest and 7th in the California
I am getting arthritis in my fingers from
all this typing, so I'll take your fine query and one more. Yeah—that
is a bit odd looking,isn't it?! All I know is that scouts raved about
the kid—power mid 90's fastball with terrific natural sink, hard
slider, just nasty and filthy. As we all know, lefties with stuff (and
many without) can hang around in the majors for a long, long time. In
fact, I think baseball expanded in 1998 just so Terry Mulholland could
have more teams to pitch for.
Tim Shrout (San Diego): How likely is it that
we could see a Padres infield with Forsythe at second and Darnell at
third by 2011 and how would an infield of Adrian, Forsythe, Cabrera and
Darnell look to you?
No doubt the Padres need to get better,
and pronto. Forsythe is the guy I like best in that group. Fine
defender, good range, arm and hands. Very patient hitter, high OBP,
good 2nd hole prospect. Don't forget that a guy doesn't have to have
70-80 power or run a 6.3 to be a prospect. He can succeed at the more
subtle, nuanced portions of the game and still be valuable.
Ok, everyone, thanks for all the questions, they were superb! It was a
fun chat and I hope we can do it again some day.