Southern League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler
I'm back, and I'm chatting at 100 percent strength today. This league was loaded so let's get rolling.
Navin (NorthSideBaseBall): Hi Ben, thanks for
the chat. Could you please touch on Andrew Cashner? I was really
surprised Jay Jackson make the top 20 but not Cashner. That isn't to
say I'm not a big fan of Jackson, I just thought the consensus was that
Cashner is a better prospect.
I put Jackson ahead of Cashner with no
hesitation. Jackson's peak velocity might be 1-2 mph less than
Cashner's, but his all-around stuff is better and he holds his velocity
deeper into the game. Cashner mostly pitched in 5-inning stints this
year, yet he still only averaged 6.7 K/9, which is below-average for
the leagues he pitched in. I think Cashner's future is in the bullpen,
where he would see an uptick in his strikeout rate, but Jackson has the
potential to be an average to above-average major league starter. Major
kudos to the Cubs for stealing him in the 9th round.
Steve (Orlando,Fl): If Jeremy Hellickson were 6'5" would he be rated higher? It seems he is stuck with that so called 'short RHP' stigma.
No. Hellickson's 22 years old, and at that point I don't care all that much about height.
Ben (Leland Grove): Why did Juan Francisco miss this list?
Francisco has bat speed, strength and
power, but he's a well below-average defensive third baseman who is
unlikely to remain at the position. It's great to have power, but he
has a free-swinging approach and doesn't recognize changeups well. He
did make some progress quieting down his setup and making more contact
as the season went on, but that's all relative; he's still a
high-strikeout guy who drew just 16 unintentional walks in 109 games at
Double-A. I see a lot of .300-.315 OBPs in his future.
Nick (Highland): How can guys like Gordon
Beckham and Sean West, who have exhausted their MLB rookie eligibility
already, even be on this list, when they aren't even considered
"prospects" anymore? That doesn't make sense...seems like those two
spots could have been given to true "prospects!" What's your rationale
at BA for listing those guys?
If they had prospect eligibility coming
into the season and met the playing time requirements to be ranked in
the league, we rank them. They won't be in the Prospect Handbook, but
it gives us a way for us to provide you guys with reports on these
players and stack them up against prospects who are mostly the same age.
Valerie (West Lake, OH): Daniel Hudson was arguably the best young arm in the minors this year. Why did you rank him where you did?
It's a good league for prospects, and he's
the No. 4 pitching prospect in the league, so I do like him. You could
probably put him a few spots higher up there right behind Jay Jackson
and I really wouldn't argue. The key for him to me is going to be the
development of his slider. Sometimes he'll snap off a good one, but at
times he'll cast the pitch, it flattens out, and that's usually bad
news when you leave those out over the plate to big league hitters.
Fred (Ohio): In your mind, what makes Desmond Jennings a better prospect than Mike Stanton? Thanks!
We're talking about two guys with star
potential who are going to rank among the top 10 if not top five
prospects in all of baseball going into next season. So this is no
slight at Stanton, but Jennings comes with a little less risk because
of his ability to control the strike zone. Stanton's power is probably
four full grades higher than Jennings', but Jennings could be posting
.400 OBPs and playing gold-glove defense at a premium position at his
peak, and he's already shown that he can dominate Triple-A pitching.
They're both high-reward guys, but Jennings is more of a sure thing
Fred (Ohio): If Atlanta would not have traded
Gorkys Hernandez, would he have made this list? It seems like his star
is beginning to dim because of questions about the bat.
Hernandez did qualify for the list, but
the questions about his hitting did keep him off the list. His swing
gets long and he chases too many pitches. What he does have is
outstanding speed, excellent range and a strong arm at a premium
defensive position, which will give him some value, but he's also going
to make a ton of outs.
Jim (Erie, PA): Brandon Allen clearly had a breakout year. Did he get any love for your list at all?
His numbers were solid in the minor
leagues, but scouts have a lot of questions about his swing translating
against big league pitching. He does has above-average power, he has
good bat speed and he can take advantage of mistakes. But his swing is
long so scouts think pitchers can beat him with fastballs on the inner
half, and he overstrides, gets out on his front foot and struggles with
offspeed stuff away. He's got some athleticism for a guy his size and
is a serviceable defender, but it's hard for scouts to be too high on a
first baseman when there are that many questions about the bat.
Fred (Ohio): What are your thoughts on Darwen Barney?
A few managers around the league liked him
and the way he approaches the game. He's a good defender at shortstop
and doesn't strike out much. His power is well below average, though,
which hurt him when he moved up to Triple-A and is only going to get
further exploited by major league pitching. If he gets stronger and can
learn to hit for even 40 or 45 power, he could be a solid big leaguer,
but that might take a few more years for him to develop.
Brad (RI): What was the word on Dayan Viciedo's season? How many years from the majors is he?
He has a lot of the same issues as Juan
Francisco. He's huge, which limits his range, and even though he has a
strong arm he's probably going to be a first baseman in the very near
future. He's strong and hits the ball hard when he connects, but he can
be helpless against offspeed pitches and is going to make a ton of outs
with just 19 unintentional walks in 130 games.
Frankie (Casper, WY): Do Scott Elbert and Andrew Cashner best project as starters or relievers, and did either get consideration?
I already hit on Cashner, but yes, I think
both of them end up in the bullpen. Elbert was a close call to make the
list, but I just worry about his durability and his command, which is
why I think he ends up in the bullpen, but I think he could be an
JAYPERS (IL): Will there be a spot in Tampa Bay's rotation for Hell-Boy at any point next season, if you had to speculate?
He'll probably start back in Triple-A, but
injuries in the rotation are inevitable, and I'd have to think
Hellickson would be first in line to get called up by May or June.
Corey (Phoenix): Great list! Parker sounds like the real deal, any word on how his rehab is going and the likelihood he'll avoid surgery?
The Diamondbacks are taking it very, very,
very carefully with Parker in the hopes he can avoid surgery, but there
hasn't been any new official word yet on his prognosis.
Dan (Chicago): I was suprised to see Tyler
Flowers this high considering the concensus is that he won't be able to
stay behind the plate. Is his bat just that good?
I think that was the consensus coming into
the year, but the reviews of his defense were much better than they
were last year, particularly from those outside the organization who
have followed Flowers for the last couple of seasons. He's a big guy
and he's not Pudge Rodriguez, but he's also not Jesus Montero back
there either. Will he be an above-average defensive catcher? No, and
maybe his defense is always a tick below major league average, but he
should hit enough to not make that a huge concern.
Derek (Whittier): Are you optimistic about Lorenzo Cain returning to form at this point?
He battled some injuries this year, but
he's still very raw at the plate, which isn't the most encouraging sign
for a 23-year-old.
Peter (Atlanta, GA): What's the outlook for
Brandon Hicks? He had a bad season, but at least his contact rates
improved. Is he even a prospect at this point?
Defensively he does a lot of things well.
He's got a great arm, a quick release, good range, hands and footwork.
Offensively? No so much, although he is an efficient basestealer. He's
a free swinger who makes a ton of outs and needs to become less
pull-oriented with his approach, but a 24-year-old with those type of
contact issues might be too great to overcome.
Mike (Minnesota): A true testament and measure
to how good a hitter is (and will become) would be to look at his
extra-base hits vs. # of K's. Jason Heyward stunningly had a ratio of
24-19 in his time in the SL, and overall, was 46-51 in 362 total AB's.
Were there any other MiLB'ers this season who were as close to a 1:1
ratio, or better? Especially someone with Heyward's power/slugging
numbers? This stat goes widely unnoticed and unmentioned most of the
time, but it's a truly rare feat, and the greatest barometer to measure
a hitter's true and pure ability with the bat! Fanish or Foolish?
Off the top of my head, Jesus Montero had
almost as many extra-base hits as strikeouts this year, and I know my
man Pablo Sandoval was around 1:1 last year, but yeah, it's remarkable
when you have as much raw power as Heyward and have the skill to put
the barrel to the ball with that type of frequency.
Jim Webb (West Point, NY): Where was Nick Hill
on your list. His numbers looked great and he is only in his second
full yr of pro ball and first since being out of the Army. We hear he
is going to the AFL and major league spring training.
He could be a solid starter, though it's
not clear how the Mariners plan to use him in the future. He'll throw
in the high-80s to low-90s, mix in a slider, a changeup and a
two-seamer, and he's effective against righthanded hitters as well.
Fred (Ohio): Is Jonathan Lucroy's loerw average concerning? He seems to have all of the other numbers to be a plus offensive catcher.
Not too concerning. He doesn't strike out
excessively and he has a short, compact swing. Once (or maybe I should
say "if") he gets stronger and develops more power, he'll start driving
the ball with more authority.
Jason (Scotsdale): Assuming Parker can avoid
surgery, what's his upside, front end rotation (ace-like) or more a 2-3
type. Love these lists, well done BA!
Ace, No. 1 starter, top-of-the-rotation
guy, Cy Young candidate�whatever vernacular you want to use to describe
one of the top pitchers in the game. The elbow is a concern, but he has
Fred (Ohio): What are your thoughts on the
Reds handling of Todd Frazier (from a deffensive perspective)? It seems
like he is frequently moving positions which I believe hurts his
In an ideal world, Frazier would have
spent the entire season learning to play third base and master the
position rather than running around to play three different positions
throughout the season. If you have a player who is already proficient
at one position and want to give him some time experiencing a new
position for a small amount of time, sure, there's value in that, but
Frazier hasn't been given the opportunity to master any one position of
much value. He looked overwhelmed when the Reds moved him to second
base at the end of the year, but he didn't have the luxury of an
offseason, spring training or even just an instructional league to
learn the position. I think he has the tools to play third base, but he
needs the opportunity to work at the position and the Reds haven't
shown that they want to use him there.
David (Tennesse): No one from West Tenn? Aumont, Fields, Hill, Cortes, Halman? Any of those guys close?
Aumont didn't pitch enough to qualify for
this list, but of anyone on that team, the most intriguing to me is
Ezequiel Carrera. Pretty much everyone I talked to called him a future
fourth outfielder because he doesn't hit for any power, but he has good
bat control, works the count to get on base, runs well and covers good
ground in center field. He's got some platoon issues against lefthanded
pitchers (even on the bases, he needs to get better at stealing against
LHPs), but he should have value with his on-base and defensive skills.
Dave (NW CT): Where does Zach Cozart fall into your rankings, and what does he need to improve upon for 2010?
He'd probably be somewhere in that 21-30
range. He's not a speedster but he has good instincts in the field and
is a good defender at shortstop. I like him as a sleeper who might put
it all together a couple years down the road once he continues to gain
strength and become more of a force at the plate.
TH (Garrett, Indiana): Did John Ely receive any cinsideration, and how does he project in the future?
Could be a 5th starter or a longman. His
best pitch is his changeup, but he doesn't have much of a breaking
ball, he sits at 88-90 mph and has a good amount of effort in his
delivery, though he does do a solid job of repeating his mechanics.
JH (Berkeley): Give it to me straight. Gregory Halman: any hope?
I didn't rank him last year when he
qualified for the Southern League list, so I don't see how I could have
ranked him this year. He has power, he has some other tools, but the
swing and the pitch recognition are just so far away right now from
where they need to be.
Fred (Ohio): What kind of major leaguer can C.J. Retherford become and where do you see him playing deffensively? Thanks!!
He can play second base. Nothing about him
from a tools perspective sticks out and he's a little unorthodox, but
he gets the most out of his physical abilities. Most scouts I talked to
expect him to be a backup at the major league level, but so far all
he's done between college and pro ball is beat everyone's expectations.
Thank you everyone, that's all for today. Come back tomorrow for John Manuel's Eastern League chat.