Texas League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo
Welcome, everyone. Unfortunately, I don't
think we'll be talking about a lot of future all-stars today when we
review prospects from the Texas League. Instead let me make a couple of
recommendations you can definitely believe in: First, the Whigs, a
rock-n-roll combo from Athens, Ga. We'll be listening to their most
recent album, Mission Control, during today's chat if you'd like to
And of course the Baseball America Draft
Almanac, which just went to press last week. All 45 years worth of
draft lists, complete with signings, in one handy volume. Order yours
now. Now on to the Texas League...
JAYPERS (IL): Just how far off the Top 20 did Jordan Walden fall this year, and what are scouts saying about him?
It's not a chat without Jaypers, as we all
know. Walden probably would have made the list had he not been injured.
I think the general consensus was that people weren't seeing the real
guy this year for the most part, though some saw him at 90-94 mph with
a good fastball-slider combo. His changeup needs work and he has
command and control issues, so he could end up working at the back of
Hank (Gurney): How does Mark Trumbo fall short of the top-20?
He seems like the Angels' 1B'man of the future—perhaps sometime in 2010...agree?
The general consensus on Trumbo is that he
doesn't have a lot to offer beyond his power. He's not a great hitter
overall and is a below-average runner. He played a little bit in the
outfield but is probably limited to first base. He is a gamer and a
proven run producer, and that power is intriguing enough that he'll get
plenty of chances to prove himself. I don't see him as a significant
big leaguer, though.
Mike (Midland, TX): I had the opportunity to
see Josh Donaldson play the entire year for the RockHounds. I do not
understand how this guy doesn't get more hype? Including the playoffs
he had 50plus extra base hits, nearly 100 rbis, while also walking over
80 times. He looks to be a well above average athlete for the catching
position. It seems to me his tools say he has a chance to be a
frontline catcher at the MLB level?! What are your thoughts?
That's probably overselling Donaldson, but
he is an interesting guy and one who just missed the top 20. As with
Trumbo, power is definitely the most intriguing part of Donaldson's
game as well. He produced a lot more doubles than home runs this
season, though, and at least one manager summed up his reaction to
Donaldson simply with, "I'm not a fan," which is the ultimate quick
dismissal from a scout or manager. Not usually a follow-up to that. And
I think the consensus on Donaldson as a receiver is that he's just OK.
If he continues to hit he could end up in the big leagues.
Hank (Kansas City): What are your thoughts on
David Lough? I noticed he showed up ahead of Bianchi on the Carolina
League Top 20, yet he wasn't included on the Texas League Top 20.
Thanks for coming out, Royals fans! We
probably have more questions about Lough than any other prospect so
far. Honestly, the last 10 guys on the TL list could probably have been
switched out with another 10 guys and you wouldn't have noticed a huge
dropoff in quality. As noted elsewhere, it was a year with some depth
but not a lot of standouts. And everyone at the back of the list has
holes in their game. Lough and Bianchi are tough to separate. One
manager compared Lough to Scott Podsednik defensively, he runs well and
showed a quick stroke and balanced approach. I think generally people
in the TL regarded Bianchi as the better overall hitter, with better
pitch and zone recognition to make him successful going forward, even
though Lough outperformed in the league this year. Definitely no slap
against Lough not to slide on to the back of this list, though. Just
didn't quite make it on.
Yunel (Jersey): What has happened to Cedric Hunter's stock?
Wasn't he once ranked as a league #1 prospect a few years ago? Why has he struggled the last couple season?
Great question. The Cedric Hunter
bandwagon had some momentum after his year in the Cal League in 2008—I
did the prospect list for that league. This year you couldn't find
anyone who had anything encouraging to say about him. The most
memorable comment came from a scout who said, "I Triple-A'd him in Fort
Wayne." So yes, his stock has fallen. The short version is that people
just don't think he's going to hit enough to be a big leaguer. "Pitch
him away and he's an out," one manager said. On top of that some other
managers saw him as a hot dog and just don't think his skills measure
up to his reputation. And when you look at his numbers this year, it's
hard to argue.
MJ (Valpo): Is Pete Kozma still in the Cards'
top-30? Does the organization view him as their SS of the future? Any
indications that he can find his once-heralded batting prowess again?
We're doing an interesting piece for our
latest Prospect Pulse—which will be featured in our next print edition
and should be online next week—in which each person who did a league
top 20 writes up an intriguing player who didn't make the top 20. I'm
writing up Kozma for the Texas League. I thought it was notable that he
had such a poor year with the bat, yet every manager I talked to spoke
glowingly about him. At first I was asking about him almost out of
courtesy, because he was a high draft pick and was in the Cardinals top
10 coming into the year, but managers really liked this guy. Scouts
still aren't sure and think he might just be a utility guy. I think the
more people watched him play, the more they liked him. He has great
makeup, attitude, aptitude, all those things, not clear his skill set
will make him a major league starter. I'm guessing the Cardinals will
send him back to Double-A to start next season, so let's see if his bat
comes around at all. More than one person mentioned his ability to
drive the ball to the opposite field, so I think there still could be
tom (long beach ca): how could you rank Castro before conger? look at the stats. please explain.
I think Castro will be a catcher; not at all sure Conger will be.
Jeremy (Davis, CA): What do you see as Daniel
Descalso's ultimate role? Could he be an everyday guy in St. Louis, or
is he poised for a Utility backup role? Thanks.
I think he could definitely be an everyday
player if he hits like he did in Springfield this year. A .300 hitter
with some pop who can play second base? Does that sound like something
you'd be interested in? "He's the perfect La Russa guy," one scout
said. "He's an offensive second baseman, and he can give you more
defense than La Russa even would ask for." He probably doesn't work
defensively anywhere else, too, which would argue against a utility
MJ (Valpo): What kind of prospect is Matt
Sulentic? He's quietly had two productive seasons in a row, after
struggling mightily early on. Seems like he's made good adjustments. Is
he in Oakland's OF plans anytime soon?
General view on Sulentic is that he probably profiles more as an extra outfielder in the big leagues.
Chuck (Wichita): I know Anthony Lerew probably
does not qualify as a prospect anymore, but were there signs that he
was regaining the stuff that made him a top prospect for the Braves a
few years ago? Any hope that he can still be a major league starter?
Not a whole lot of enthusiasm for Lerew,
but this looks like the best opportunity I'm going to get to shoehorn
in a little mention of my favorite older pitching prospect from the
league, Springfield's Trey Hearne. The Cardinals were so excited about
him last year that they loaned him to the Mexican League, but he tied
for the TL lead with 12 wins this season and finished second in ERA. He
only throws 87-88 mph with a changeup and curveball, nothing
eye-popping but he pounded the strike zone and knows how to get guys
out. He gives hitters a different look with a stab in the back of his
delivery and never gives in. Realistically you're looking at a middle
reliever if he sharpens his command, but he's an intriguing guy for me.
Jon (Houston): Was Sam Demel considered for
the top 20 after his unbelievable stat line in the league? Also, will
we see him in an Oakland uniform at the start of the 2010 season? Thank
you for your time!
Demel's pretty good, but again you're probably talking about a set-up type in the big leagues.
Andy (Iowa City): Thanks for the chat. Who's
better on the Springfield team, Eduardo Sanchez or Francisco Samuel?
and how close were they to making the top 20?
Two interesting guys. Again, I think I've
said enough about the talent in the league this year and how even it
was when you're looking at guys for the back of the list, so these guys
merited consideration as well. Both are relievers with two pitches.
Some said Samuel had the best slider in the league, with a power
fastball and a lanky frame that gives him some projection. He has
command issues, which explains some of his unsightly numbers, but very
intriguing ceiling. Sanchez can touch 95 mph with his fastball and has
a sharp curveball, and he's more of a little guy with a good arm. Since
Samuel is only 20, he's probably the guy I would take.
Randy (Houston): What do you think about Tyler Henley? I was a little surprised to not see him on your list. Thanks
People were generally lukewarm on Henley.
He finds a way to put the bat on the ball but has some mechanical
issues with his swing, so I'm not sure he'll be able to continue
producing as he moves up.
Ben (Leland Grove): Your thoughts on Daryl Jones' season with Springfield? Was he a Top 20 contender?
Jones was bothered by a quad injury this
year, but it's not clear he's ever going to produce enough offense to
get to the big leagues. He needs to be an igniter and use his
athleticism to get things going, rather than trying to be a power guy.
And most people think he works better in left field than center field,
so that makes it even more important for him to hit. He has some power
to the pull side and some pop in his bat, but that sounds like it gets
him in trouble more than anything.
Ben (Leland Grove): Who wins the race to Oakland's lineup - Wallace or Carter? Also, is Wallace a future 1B and Carter a future DH?
I think Wallace will win the race. And if
I knew for sure where Carter would end up, I would have felt more
confident about where to rank him. Some think he has the athleticism to
play in the outfield. We'll see.
Brad (MO): Rough year for the Naturals pitching prospects, were there any positive reports on Blake Wood?
Decent reports on Wood: big body, good arm, has four pitches, fastball is firm but straight, questions about command.
Johnson (COL): Will Samuel Deduno ever make it
as an MLB starter? I know he's older than most prospects, but for a guy
to win the TRIPLE CROWN on pitching in his league and only rank 20th,
he must not have much upside. What's his projection look like?
Big question is command. If he gets that solved, he can definitely be a big league starter.
Brent (Appleton): Ok, so there's not a lot of
future All-stars here, but I'm assuming Mat Latos is an exception,
right? He seems to have lost his rookie eligibility, but where do you
think he would rank on next season's top 100 had he retained it?
Lots of Latos questions too, with good
reason, he's a fascinating guy. He is definitely an exception to the
kind of guys we've generally been chatting about. Very high ceiling. I
think he would have been No. 17 on the top 100 had he still qualified.
Rick (Amherst, MA): What is Latos' ceiling? Can he be a #1 starter? If he ends up in the bullpen is he a closer?
He certainly has the raw ability to be a No. 1, but somehow I always see him in my mind's eye ending up as a closer.
Ron (Grandview, MO): Jordan Parraz wasn't your
favorite "older prospect"? Seems like it takes a 2-way guy longer to
shake out, and he had a very productive season after changing
organizations. He has hit, arm, speed tools and his size suggests there
should be power in there, no?
Sorry, not a lot of love for Parraz in the
TL. If you're looking for an older guy who got love from managers, Drew
Locke is probably the choice. Scouts don't see a big league role for
him, though. I think I got a Collin Delome question somewhere too. He's
an extra outfielder at best, nothing plus.
OK guys, thanks for all the questions.
Sorry I couldn't stay longer, but it's always off to the next project
here at BA during the offseason. We'll do it again soon. Thanks again.