Florida State League Top 20 Prospects Chat With J.J. Cooper
Ben (Leland Grove): Pat Venditte: legit prospect or novelty act?
How about somewhere in between. If you
grade out Venditte's pitches, none would be called even an average
pitch, but as a scout pointed out, you can't really grade him as you
would a normal pitcher since he always has the platoon advantage as a
switch pitcher. That has been enough for him to succeed up to now, and
there's some reason to think it may allow him to succeed at even higher
levels. He's more than just a novelty act, but he'll be treated with
skepticism because he's such a unique case.
Matt (Needles, CA): What do scouts tell you about Logan Schafer, and did he come close to making this list?
He wasn't too far away from making the
list. He's a solid CF who can run, but there are concerns that his bat
will make him more of a big league backup than an everyday player.
Ian (dc): Which of these 20 guys do you see making it to the bigs first?
Drabek. Considering his stuff and the
season he had, I wouldn't be floored if he headed North with the big
league club next year, and if not, he should be up at some point next
JAYPERS (IL): Evan Anundsen put up pretty
impressive numbers this year, so I was a bit surprised not to see him.
Could you evaluate him for us?
The stuff just wasn't good enough. His
velocity was all over the place, but he was 84-88 a lot of nights. He
shows two big league average off speed pitches and very good command
but he pairs it with a below-average fastball. That combination doesn't
usually work at the big league level.
Jeff (Pittsbugrh): No Reese Havens? I'm a bit
surprised by that. He showed good power (considering the league) and
pretty good plate discipline. His average was a bit low, but so was his
Havens was No. 21 on this list, as proof
here is the writeup I did on him as a bonus for subscribers. As you can
see from the writeup, the big concern is where he will play long-term.
The Mets' first-round pick in 2008 out of South Carolina, Havens was
promoted aggressively to the Florida State League for his first full
season. He generally held his own, although there are significant
doubts that he'll stay at shortstop much longer.
A hand injury and other nagging aches and pains sidelined Havens for
three weeks in June and another two weeks in July. The hand injury
explains in part why Havens struggled to get his average above .250 all
year, but he did show solid pitch recognition and the ability to drive
the ball for power. Havens power is more gap-to-gap and he's a
tick-below average runner.
Havens' bat will have to produce because he does not project as a big
league shortstop. His range is below average and his problems with his
footwork has some scouts wondering if he can handle second base. If
not, his arm strength is enough for a corner outfield spot, but there
are questions whether he'll have enough bat for an outfield corner.
Steven Alengakis (Brooklyn, NY): Everyone
seems to agree that Jesus Montero will not be a caatcher at the ML
level. Do people within the Yankees organization/scouts see him more as
a RF (considering the dimensions of Yankee Stadium) or as a 1B? Do they
think he has the ability to be adequate at either of those positions?
Also, did RHP Hector Noesi receive any serious consideration for the
list? What do scouts think of him? Thank you.
Outside the Yankees organization there is
some doubt if there is any position where Montero will be more than a
below-average defender. His lack of footspeed and his already massive
size means right field is a big stretch, and there is concern that he
will be below average at first base because of his limited agility.
First base is a much better bet, but he looks to be a 30-35 defense
wherever he goes. As far as Noesi he didn't qualify, but the next
Yankee pitcher who would have made it would have been Jeremy Bleich (3
Mark (Fremont, CA): How in the world can Logan
Schafer be left off the top 20? He lead the league in hitting,
committed one error in CF, had an .OPS .816 and had 16 OF assists.
Because we're not ranking players based
on their contribution to winning in the Florida State League. If that
was the case, Darrin Downs and Zach Lutz would be on here as well. With
Schafer even though he had a solid OPS this season, there are some
concerns that he's a tweener at the big league level.
Gerry (Toronto): No Moises Sierra? Why did he not make the list?
Sierra was in the 21-25 range. He has a
great arm, shows some ability to hit and is a pretty solid athlete,
although he is a little thicker in the middle than you would like to
see in a 20-year-old. A best case comp from one scout was Jose Tabata,
although Tabata has more power.
JAYPERS (IL): Was Bromberg's season merely a
product of the pitcher-friendly FSL, or can he put up those amount of
strikeouts at higher levels as well?
He's more than just a product of the FSL
as he's struck out batters wherever he's gone. Bromberg has very good
stuff—many FSL managers thought he was the best pitcher in the league.
He just needs to show improved command to put it all together and show
he can maintain his velocity as he seemed to wear down late in the
JAYPERS (IL): If Vitters is unable to stick at the hot corner, which position would be a better fit for him?
You could try right field but first base
would seem much more likely for a teenager who is already a tick below
average as a runner.
Kyle (MA): Michael Taylor or Domonic Brown?
Does Brown have a higher ceiling? At different levels and Taylor is two
years older, I know, but overall how do you see them panning out?
I'll take Brown first, although both
should be very solid big leaguers. Statistically I wouldn't be
surprised to see Brown end up as a Bobby Abreu type, which would be a
very solid player.
Kevin G (New Brunswick, NJ): Was Stone Crabs
righty Alex Cobb considered? He doesn't have a stat that jumps out, but
doesn't seem to have a "bad" stat either.
He was definitely considered. His stuff
just doesn't stand out. He's got a good changeup and a solid breaking
ball but he needs to improve his fastball command. Pair that with a 90
mph fastball and he's a solid pitcher but wasn't going to make the Top
Kevin (New Brunswick, NJ): Charlotte shortstop
Shawn O'Malley led the league in on-base percentage while showing
almost zero power. Did his name come up at all?
It did although he wasn't close to making
the top 20. He's a "do the little things" player who plays better
defense than he would grade out as playing because he positions himself
well and understands the game. He throws behind runners who round a bag
too far, shows good hands and can play multiple positions if needed
although he doesn't have the range to be a traditional big league
shortstop. At the plate he shows excellent speed (3.6 on a bunt from
the left side) with the ability to put the bat on the ball although as
you said he has no power. His hope is to make it as a big league
utility type, which is a hard job to get.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Three of the Cubs' once and
future top prospects: Castro, Vitters and Colvin spent time in High A
this year. How would you rank them in terms of ceiling and also in
terms of likely ultimate productivity, and how clear are the
separations between the three?
As far as ceiling I'd go Vitters, Castro
and Colvin but as far as ultimate productivity I'd go Castro, Vitters,
Colvin. Castro has a very good chance of being a very solid big
leaguer. Vitters has more potential, but there are a lot more pitfalls
as well (position questions, his swing at everything approach). Colvin
doesn't have as high a ceiling or the likelihood of reaching his
ceiling of the other two in my mind.
Chris (Philly): What do you think the Phillies
will do with all these young talented corner outfielders? Werth and
Ibanez both have long term contracts. Could you ever imagine Dominic
Brown playing center field?
He's such a good right fielder that I
guess you could try to get by with him out there, but you'd be giving
up a lot of defense over what you want in center. Ideally you want to
keep him in right field, where he can be a plus defender, rather than
move him to center field where he would be overmatched.
Luke (Des Moines): So does Mark Rogers still
have a chance? I kind of already gave up on him, but what are your
thoughts? Also, I'm a bit surprised Vitters ranked 3rd in the MWL and
14th here (behind lesser-knowns like Carlos Gutierrez and Kirk
Nieuwenhuis). Do you think his swing-at-everything approach will
preclude him from become a star big leaguer? Thanks for the chat.
I've already talked about Vitters, but as
far as Rogers don't give up yet. His stuff is still electric. Sure
there are injury risks with him (obviously) but he still has one of the
best arms in the Brewers system. Maybe his ceiling now is as a power
reliever long-term, but it's hard to give up on a guy who has a
Nate (North Carolina): I'm very, very
surprised by Galvis' inclusion... I've been following him for a few
seasons now, and I understand his allure (A glove that gets Ozzie Smith
comparisons? Yes, please!), but what can we reasonably expect from a
guy who has yet to break the .600 OPS mark?
Galvis was the guy who we debated the
most about putting on or leaving off. The Phillies have pushed him
quite quickly which makes it even harder to evaluate his offense. If
Galvis had spent all of this year in short-season ball as a 19-year-old
it wouldn't have been holding him back, but instead he made it to
Double-A by the end of the season. Scouts and managers think that the
bat could work longterm as he doesn't have any glaring problems besides
a need to get stronger (which should come as he matures). Defensively
he's very, very good. I don't think he's as good as Alcides Escobar,
but it is worth noting that at the same age, Escobar put up nearly
identical numbers in the FSL then bounced back to put up a .700+ OPS
the next season. I don't think Galvis has Escobar's potential with the
bat, but he does have a chance to hit enough to be a solid big league
The reality is that the FSL Top 20 is thinner this year than it has
been in most of the five years I've been writing up the league. When
Zach Stewart, Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner, Mauricio Robles, Chris
Carpenter and others failed to throw enough innings to qualify, the
league's depth took a hit. So the 17-18-19-20 guys on this year's list
would have ranked No. 23-24-25-26 in many past years.
Nate (North Carolina): How close did D.J.
Mitchell come to making the list? I loved his mix of groundball
inducement and control/command. Did you get any positive reports on him?
Some positive reports but worries that he
needs to improve his breaking ball. He ranked behind lefty Jeremy
Bleich as far as the guys on that staff who could have made the Top 20.
Jim (Toronto): While it's rare for relievers
to make these lists, could you tell us about Tim Collins' amazing
season and if he came anywhere close to making the cut?
He was considered, but in the end his
ceiling (as a big league setup man) limited his chances of making the
Top 20. I talked to a scout who is convinced he will be a big leaguer
and I'm inclined to agree. He is Danny Ray Herrera sized but he has a
solid big league fastball that he pairs with an above-average curveball
to go with exceptional fearlessness.
Navin (NorthSideBaseBall): Thanks for the chat. What did you hear about Chris Carpenter's brief but successful run in the fSL?
Good things. He would have been a Top 20 guy if he had enough innings to qualify. Plus stuff and a feel for pitching.
Patrick (Milwaukee): While the league was
loaded per usual as noted in the lead-in to the top prospect list, I'm
curious where a quartet of Manatees factored into consideration: Amaury
Rivas, Logan Schafer, Evan Anundsen and Eric Farris? Rivas and Schafer
are the ones I'm most interested in, since Rivas was throwing in the
low-to-mid-90s with what BA rated as the league's best changeup, while
Schafer was among the league leaders in several offensive categories
and boasts good tools in CF. Was age the biggest thing held against
them? Thanks as always for your time and efforts!
Rivas was close. The scouting reports I
got are very similar to what you wrote: a 90-94 mph fastball and a plus
changeup although his slider is much more of an erratic pitch. We've
covered Schafer and Anundsen. I also like Farris although his stats are
a little misleading. He has solid above-average speed, but he's not the
speedster his 70 steals make him appear to be. His age and the fact
that he's limited to second base worked against him making the Top 20,
but he is a very solid 2B and I wouldn't be surprised to see him become
a productive big leaguer.
not JAYPERS (not ILL): Why the lack of pitchers in the top 20?
I touched on this above, but the problem
was almost all of the best pitchers in the FSL were promoted out of the
league just a start or two before they would have qualified. Zach
Stewart and Andrew Cashner would have ranked right behind Drabek on
this list and Jay Jackson, Brad Holt, Mauricio Robles and Chris
Carpenter would have all made the Top 20 as well. Add those six
pitchers to the Top 20 and it would have been a pitcher-heavy list.
Mudcatsfan (Raleigh): Montero's numbers
throwing out runners improved dramatically from the FSL to the EL. Do
you attribute this to anything in particular? Small sample size, luck,
pitchers holding runners better, better base stealers in the FSL, maybe
Good question and I don't have a great
answer for you on what happened. There were a ton of good basestealer
in the FSL this year (as noted in the lead-in to the Top 20 four of the
Top 10 basestealers in the minors played in the FSL), but we had a
scout in the EL tell us he got a 2.35 pop time on Montero there (the
time from the ball hitting his mitt to getting to second base), which
was the slowest time he'd seen in a Double-A game, so it's hard to say
Doug (Oakland): Was there any consideration for Matt Gorgen?
He would have made an FSL top 40. 90-92 mph fastball that touches 93 with control but not command and a decent slider.
Jorge (Miami, FL): Why are you guys at BA (and
others) so skeptical about Matt Dominguez's hitting skills? Are you
forgetting he was only 19 for most of the season, playing in hi-A ball,
in a pitcher-friendly league (only 3 hitters batted .300+ who qualified
for the batting title), against older competition—many college
pitchers??? I'd say he's looked very decent, and has more than held his
own. He may have struggled a bit in AA, but give the guy a break! It
was a small sampling. And don't forget about his mono to begin his
career. I predict Dominguez to be one of the top-5 breakout prospects
in 2010—you heard it here first!
So noted Jorge. We ranked him No. 12 so
it's not like we don't like him. Several scouts and managers questioned
the bat, as we passed along, but also many observers think he'll be a
very solid big leaguer.
Brad (MO): Do scouts prefer Dominguez over his high school teammate Mike Moustakas? Who do you rank higher personally?
Very good question. Dominguez is a safer
bet at this point because of his excellent defense at third base, but
Moustakas has a higher ceiling because he could end up being a plus
power guy. I'd still put Moustakas ahead of Dominguez but it's much
closer than it would have been coming into the season.
Jack (Toronto): Who was the closest Jay to making the list? Is the cupboard that bare?
It's not a great farm system and there
was a near universal feeling of being unimpressed by the crop of 2007
high schoolers in Dunedin. As one scout put it: "I can see what they
saw in them back then, but I'm not seeing a whole lot now." Sierra and
Collins were the closest two.
Deywane (Memphis): What happened to Neftali Soto, is he still a prospect?
Still a prospect, but less of one then he
was a year ago. He has good hand-eye coordination and plus power but
his lack of first-step quickness means he's not a third baseman long
term. And some opposing managers and scouts were not impressed with the
effort he put out. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Reds try him at
catcher where he may profile better.
Tom (Nashua, NH): Did Adam Loewen show anything any indications this year that he can make it back to the big leagues as a hitter?
He only hit .237 and struckout a lot but would you expect him to move up a level next year due to his age?
Not really. He didn't stand out to anyone I talked to.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): J.J., thanks for the
chat. How close is the distance between Montero and Stanton? I imagine
Montero's bat is the more sure-thing of the two, though Stanton's
overall athleticism and package give him more possible value?
Very close. I originally had Montero No.
1 until as recently as last week. You summed it up, Montero's bat is a
better tool than Stanton's and they have similar power, but Stanton's a
much better athlete with a clear position while Montero could very well
be a 20-year-old DH. In the end, that ended up breaking the logjam.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Though not quite
hindsight 20 20, (until Nov. anyway) J.J., if you were the Phillies
would you have moved Brown or Drabek for Halladay? Is their future
value too great to risk?
As I said on a podcast at the time, I
like what they did. Getting Cliff Lee for the package they put together
makes a lot of sense to me.
Julian (New York): What is your true
accessment of Kirk N. He tore up the league and he has the build to
continue to grow. he looks like a big leaguer to me. Does he have a
higher ceiling the Davis?
Not according to the scouts and managers
I talked to. He may have had a gaudier season but there are concerns
about how much he swings and misses and he's not a center fielder at
the big league level. He can make it as a corner outfielder, but in
general observers like Davis' potential at the plate more than
twins fan (florida): Any other Miracle players get any consideration?
I asked about Benson and Romero but
neither were that close. Benson still has quick hands and good bat
speed, but he's still got a long ways to go. Mark Dolenc has a lot of
athleticism. Mike McCardell knows how to pitch.
Dennis Sidler (Chicago, IL): Great job with
the chat. Is Montero's bat that strong to make him the #2 prospect and
yet he is almost a guaranteed DH? It seems with other prospects if
their defense is in question it hurt their ranking far more.
That sums it up. The bat is so good that
he can be No. 2 with no clear defensive position. The last guy I
remember ranking in the FSL with a similar profile was Adam Lind (back
in 2005) who was evaluated as a plus bat 22-year-old who was a danger
to himself in left field. Now he's a 25-year-old DH for the Blue Jays,
but one who is hitting 35 home runs. In hindsight, I knocked Lind down
(to No. 13) because of his defense when in reality a bat like that
should have been a Top 10 guy. Montero is a better hitter than Lind,
although he's just as bad defensively.
Gerry (Toronto): You mentioned Mastroianni's
speed, did anyone like him as a prospect? Were there any comments on
Adam Loewen's season as a hitter?
Yeah, Mastroianni was seen as a pesky
type who causes headaches. He has a very good idea of the strike zone
and a short swing that fits his approach well. But he's not a 70
runner, he's more of a 55-60 runner who really knows how to pick his
Mark (Fremont, CA): Logan Schafer concerns
with his bat sure do not seem to be correct unless you are rating on
power. It is not easy leading the FSL in hitting at .316 and not be
able to handle the bat don't you think?
The concerns are concerns about how he
will hit at the big league level, not in the FSL. A couple of scouts
were concerned about his approach although he clearly was ahead of FSL
Brian Daniels (Still in u2 ephoria): Stanton's
power numbers and character are off the chats. Do the strikeouts
concern the scouts that he maybe a Rob Deer in the making? Also as
noted, does his make up factor in to overall ranking? He seemed like a
great guy this year when we met him.
The makeup factors in for me just from
the standpoint of his ability to make adjustments and work at
improving. Multiple managers and scouts talk about Stanton's drive to
become a better player. That may seem like it's one of those dreaded
intangibles, but it is a factor in whether a player makes it to the big
leagues. I was lucky enough to get to watch Marcus Giles turn himself
from being a brutal 2B to an adequate one by showing up at 1 p.m.
everyday and taking ground balls from Glenn Hubbard in Macon back in
the late 1990s. On the other hand, I've seen more talented players
fizzle out because they aren't willing to put in the work to improve.
Brad (MO): Could Votto or Alonso handle an outfield corner, or will a trade have to take place for both to play everyday?
Votto could more than Alonso. Pretty much
it's a universal belief that Alonso is a first baseman and a first
baseman only. But do you ask the established big leaguer to move to a
position he's played very little (even in the minors) to make room for
a rookie? That would be a tough task for the Reds management. When
Votto came up to the big leagues there were those who thought he'd be a
better left fielder than first baseman, so it is possible.
Jon (Peoria): What did you make of Vitters'
dramatic statistical dropoff from the MWL to the FSL? I know he's only
20 and was young for his league where it's easy to get worn down in the
hot weather, but do you think he'll ever show the ability to work
counts and not swing at everything that's anywhere close to the zone?
The hope at this point is he becomes more
patient, but he'll never be a very patient hitter. That's part of his
problem it seems as he makes weak contact on pitcher's pitches instead
of working counts to get a better pitch he can drive.
Mike (Michigan): Which Tiger prospect excites you the most from the FSL?
I'll go with Robbie Weinhardt who sat at
92 mph, touching 94 with a fastball that showed good life and he also
had a good slider.
Thanks to everyone for the excellent questions. We'll be back tomorrow with Ben Badler chatting about the Southern League.