Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat
Good afternoon everyone. I'm heading to
Costa Rica for my honeymoon tomorrow, but I'm yours for the next hour or
so to discuss the Gulf Coast League. Let's get started!
Dave (Atlanta): Looks like an off year for the GCL Braves. Were any others close to making the top 20? Luis De Luna?
Edison Sanchez was the next closest guy
for the Braves. He's a strong corner infielder. He has power and moves
well for a bigger guy. He was banged up this season and didn't get as
many ABs as the Braves were hoping for. He'll be interesting to watch
once he can get some consistent time on the field. De Luna wasn't close.
It's a good year, but he was 20 years old for the season. The frame is
good, but he'll need to prove more at higher levels.
JAYPERS (IL): Could you tell us what you've
observed from Exicardo Cayonez, and was he considered for this list? And
for that matter, did any of the GCL Pirates get consideration?
Cayonez was definitely considered, but I
just couldn't fit him in there. It's tough with 15 teams in a league.
Cayonez is a good hitter with a good approach. He stays inside the ball
well and really works up the middle. He had a good start to the season
but got worn down toward the end. A ocuple other guys like Jorge Bishop,
Eric Avila and Elias Diaz piqued the interest of some, but not
overwhelmingly. Avila is a good defender at third with range and a plus
Ben (Leland Grove): Nathan, does this GCL list impress you more or less overall than last year's offering?
I think they're fairly similar overall. I
like the pitching from 2009 more just because there was more depth. But
the top two in this league between Sanchez and Sano are hard to argue
Nick (Connecticut): Are Montero comparisons too much to put on Sanchez? Those expectations seem lofty but as a Yankee fan I hope you are right.
It might be. Montero has obviously proved a
lot in the minors with his bat and seems destined to be in the big
leagues very soon. It's definitely lofty to say that Sanchez will follow
the same path. But that's not saying he won't. I don't see it as
hyperbole comparing Sanchez to him because I had a few managers bring it
up on their own and they were guys I trust. Sanchez seems to have a
better chance of staying behind the plate, but he still has plenty to
work on back there. Montero's bat is pretty special, but Sanchez is
showing the ingredients to be a force there as well.
Peter (NYC): Any Orioles other than Manny Machado that almost made the list or did not have enough playing time to qualify?
Connor Narron and Cameron Coffey didn't
have enough to qualify, but certainly would have been in play if they
did. Coffey is working back from Tommy John surgery that he had in March
2009. Narron was a fifth rounder this year. He'll likely move off of
shortstop but has some interesting potential at the plate.
Andrew (Winnipeg): BA did not rate Aaron
Sanchez as highly as others coming out of Barstow. Had he qualified,
where would he rank on this list? Has your assessment of his
ability/potential changed at all over the past few months?
My opinion hasn't changed because I've
been a big Sanchez fan since I saw him at the Tournament of Stars in
2009. He was working 89-92, but touched a lot of 94 this summer. He has
plenty of projection and good secondary stuff for a high school guy. If
he qualified he would have easily made the Top 10. I would've wrestled a
while with how he stacks up with Urbina.
Jim (Philly): If the Phils like high risk toolsy guys, what separates Altherr from Hewitt?
Altherr needs some polish and plate
discipline, but there's a lot less swing and miss in him than Hewitt.
Hewitt is a good athlete, but Altherr's athleticism is better. It's a
small sample size at lower levels, but Altherr has also out-performed
Hewitt handily. Managers and scouts see five-tool potential in Altherr. I
don't think we can say the same for Hewitt anymore.
JAYPERS (IL): Where will Kepler likely begin 2011? Is he ready for full season ball, in your estimation?
Tough to say right now since he still has
instructional league to go through and spring training. John Manuel will
get a better idea when he does the Twins Top 30 in the next couple
months. If I were a betting man, I'd say he'll play some short-season
ball in 2011, but have a chance to show the organization that he
deserves a shot at Low A.
darren (grand rapids): Is the Blue Jays scouting department the new Tampa Rays?
I hope so! I do the Blue Jays Top 30 for
the Prospect Handbook and I'm pretty excited for the talent they've
added. Last time I checked, I think they added 16 players in 2011
between the draft and international signings that are very strong
candidates for the Top 30. I like the philosophy of having a larger
staff. But the size of a staff doesn't automatically bring in better
talent. You still have to have good scouts. Time will tell obviously,
but there's certainly good reason to be optimistic.
Mick (Ann Arbor): Better top 20? The GCL or the AZL?
Call me biased, but I'll go with the GCL. Seemed a little deeper to me. Maybe Bill agrees. If not, we'll duke it out later.
Robert (Secaucus, NJ): Matt Lipka was pretty
polished for a two-sport guy coming out of high school. Is his bat for
real, and does he have the athleticism to handle SS or CF long-term?
We had good reports on his bat heading
into the draft so yes, I think the bat is for real. Really all he needs
to do is continue making contact. He ran a 4.0 down the line on a
routine grounder. That's an 80 runner so he'll put a ton of pressure on
the defense. He has the range and athleticism for shortstop, but what
I'm hearing is that his actions don't really work there. That's no
problem though because he'd be very good in center field.
bill (michigan): Javier Azcona. Whats the ceiling on him? He seemed to get better as the year went on and looks like he has some pop.
He's a stronger offensive player than
Machado, but less of a defender. He's capable of playing short now and
split time there with Machado. There's some pop in his bat and he's an
average runner. Like a lot of guys in this league he's a long way off.
But he has some potential at the plate and could play up the middle,
whether it's second base or shortstop.
Tom (San Francisco, CA): I know Sanchez &
Syndergaard didn't make the list, but what did you hear from managers
& scouts in terms of what they saw and what their potential is?
Neither qualified because of innings. I
discussed Sanchez a little earlier. Syndergaard would have been a very
strong candidate for the Top 20 if he had one more inning. He was shut
down as a precaution. He's behind Sanchez in velocity and overall
package, but there's a lot to like. He has a good changeup and sinker.
His curveball is a little inconsistent now. On some days it's an out
pitch and on others he'll just use it early to induce weak contact.
Aside from polishing his stuff he'll just need to work on his
competitive mentality. Once he gets used to the process of being ready
to pitch in pro ball, he could really take off.
Nelson (Tacoma, WA): Nathan- Great to see Ryan
Brett on the list. Any love for another local produce, Pirece Rankin?
He's making the transition to catching everyday, after being a utility
guy for the UW. How do you see him progressing for the Blue Jays?
Brett is a fun player to watch and was up
there with Lipka in terms of exciting to watch for managers. Rankin was a
38th-round pick and 21 years old in the GCL. He needs to show he can
play at higher levels where he's more age appropriate.
john (detroit): It seems the Tigers brought
over some toolsy latin american talent this year? On the pitching side,
with the exception of Rondon, who garnered the most interest. I would
assume Wilsen Palacios. What does he feature and what is his projection?
Palacios was probably the next Tiger. He
was a little older than most of the competition in the league. He works
in the low 90s with a good splitter and he obviously throws strikes. His
delivery works well also. If he can maintain his four-pitch mix deep
into games he should be able to progress well as a starter. I like Kyle
Ryan. I saw him at the Tournament of Stars in 2009. He has a projectable
frame and is a lefty. He works 88-89, but can get it up to 90-91. His
secondary stuff is inconsistent, but flashes average right now. Keep an
eye on him.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Though he did not
have enough AB's to qualify, Nathan, what are your thoughts on Nick
Castellanos? And just for fun (though I know it's a difficult
hypothetical), where would he have ranked had he qualified?
I saw him play a bunch in high school. He
can really hit and has some good power. I think he'll be fine at third.
He would have been in the top five. I felt like Sanchez and Sano were 1
and 1a. Maybe he would have been 1b, but I also really like O'Conner's
ceiling if he stays behind the plate.
Gerry (Toronto): Two Blue Jay questions:
Misaul Diaz and Michael Crouse had good seasons in the GCL and were promoted. Were they close to making the list?
Diaz didn't really stand out for anyone,
but Crouse had some buzz. He's very physical and improved a lot from
last season. I considered Crouse, but in the end he didn't come real
close. Wouldn't have been in the next five, but maybe a Top 30 for the
mike (flint): Thought we might see Eddie Rosario on the list. Was he close?
Good year, good potential. He was close.
There's plenty to like, but I just didn't have enough from managers to
make me pull the trigger.
Tom (San Francisco, CA): I was surprised (and
delighted) to see Sweeney rank that high, based on the number of plate
appearances. Do you think he'll stick at third?
Yes I do. One manager felt he was capable
of playing shortstop now, though he'd move as he got bigger and
stronger. He's fairly polished defensively. He could play second base
down the road as well.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Nathan, thank you for
the chat. Any word on Narron's attitude since starting his professional
career? Is it a concern going forward?
Since his time there was so short, I
didn't really get into that. I know amateur scouts weren't fans of it.
He practically grew up in the big leagues and was a big fish in a small
pond playing high school ball in North Carolina. Sometimes all it takes
is an older guy or even veteran to step in and give him a wake-up call.
He has good offensive potential so hopefully his attitude history won't
be an issue going forward. Even so, if he can play, he can play. There
have been a lot of guys in the big leagues with "bad attitudes" that are
assets on the field.
Warren (New London): I'm wondering what your view of Kelly Dugan is. I presume
he wasn't around long enough to qualify, but he was extremely
hot here and is roughly the same age as Altherr.
Correct, missed the cut by about 20 plate
appearances. When he was drafted it was a little bit of a head scratcher
and I didn't get great reports on him last year. He needs some polish
to progress at higher levels.
Tom (San Francisco, CA): I know his stats were
underwhelming, but was there any love at all for Art Charles? Sounds as
if he's a "presence" in the batter's box.
There's a lot of power in there, but being
limited defensively the bat will play a big role in his future. He
won't be a high average guy, but he still needs to cut down on the
strikeouts. He's worth keeping an eye on, but I wouldn't be too high on
him just yet.
Bryan (San Francisco): What is the ceiling for Jesse Biddle? Any chance he sees Clearwater next year? Thanks!
One manager said Biddle reminded him of
Cole Hamels. The body types are different, but it's interesting to think
about. Biddle has good stuff that he throws for strikes and he handles
himself well on the mound. I think he can a middle-of-the-rotation type.
He's not quite an ace for me (I'm very stingy with that label), but No.
2-3 is possible.
That's going to wrap it up for me. Thanks
for all the great questions and sorry I couldn't get to more. Matt Eddy
is the world's foremost authority on Appy League prospects and he'll be
chatting tomorrow about that top 20 so be sure to come by and ask