South Atlantic League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Bill Ballew
Steven Alengakis (NYC): Hi Bill,
Did Yankees prospects J.R Murphy or Jose Ramirez get any serious
consideration for the Top 20 list? Also, would Graham Stoneburner have
been on this list had he not been promoted? Thank you
Yes, both received quite a bit of
attention. Murphy attracted praise of his bat speed and his ability to
put the ball in play, but managers were had neither positive nor
negative reactions to his defense. Most believed he was behind Sebastian
Valle, Christian Bethancourt and Kyle Skipworth in the league. Ramirez
has good size at 6-foot-5 but his stuff right now is fringy across the
board. Stoneburner would have been in the discussion but probably would
not have made the top 20.
Dave (Atlanta): Were any of the other Braves pitchers like Brett DeVall, Cory Rasmus, or David Hale close to making the list?
David Hale was the closest of the three to
making the list. He made a nice adjustment to relieving after
struggling early as a starter. Hale has good movement on his fastball
and has an excellent feel for pitching. DeVall and Rasmus had good
seasons after both struggled with injuries during most of their careers.
Honestly, neither one received a lot of attention as one of the
league's top prospects.
Jason (Charlotte): What is your opinion of
Edward Salcedo ? Coming into the season Brave's fans thought he was the
heir apparent to Chipper at third. What should me make of this season ?
Salcedo was rushed to Rome and struggled
for most of the second half. I believe he has a lot of ability, but he
needed to be in the Gulf Coast League in order to get acclimated to the
speed of the game in the professional ranks while also adapting to a new
culture. It's too early to tell if he's the heir apparent to Chipper.
Right now I would say no, but I believe there is significant talent that
Jon (Peoria): How big is the gap between Colvin, Cosart, and Vizcaino?
There were all very close. What hurt
Vizcaino most from a long-term perspective are the injuries that have
cropped up the last two years. I believe all three have bright futures
if they can stay healthy.
Jason (Charlotte): Bethancourt was somewhat of a disappointment for the Braves this season. What are the Braves feelings about him ?
They believe he has a world of talent but
doesn't always push himself to get the most out of his abilities.
Opposing managers felt he was lackadaisical at times and wanted to see
more fire from the leader of the defense. His arm and athleticism are
unquestioned, but he needs to turn up the intensity a notch while
continuing to work on his consistency at the plate.
Mike C. (Lynchburg, VA): Thanks for the chat!
Did Matzek's prospect stock rise or fall in your eyes this season? When
do you think he might reach Coors if all goes well?
You're welcome, and I feel it rose. After
not signing until August 2009, this was his first taste of pro ball and
he responded to the challenge with aplomb. His delivery looks effortless
and the ball tends to jump out of his hand. This season was all about
getting his feet wet, and I believe Matzek easily passed that test. He
could up quickly, but I don't see him reaching Denver until 2013.
Dale (Cleveland): Who would you rather have over the next 10 years: Matt Moore or Tyler Matzek? Why?
That's a tough one. I guess I'd go with
Moore simply because he's proven himself at a higher level (Advanced A).
Moore's delivery does have a little violence in it compared to
Matzek's, and Moore tends to try to strike out batters more than Matzek.
I really like both of them and picking one over the other off the top
of my head can't produce a right or wrong answer.
Jeff (Pittsburgh): Interesting that Jiwan James failed to make the cut. What did league sources have to say?
James was fairly close, but it seemed like
I liked him more than several managers. I believe if they understood he
was a pitcher until recently that he would have received more love. To
me, James has exceptional athleticism who showed improvements in center
field and started to make adjustments at the plate. His combination of
speed and pop at the plate should bode well for him in the near future. I
wouldn't be surprised at all to see him take off in 2011.
Tom (Riverside): Kyle Skipworth did not make the top 20 after repeating the Sally league? Marlins think enough of him to go to the AFL
Managers either loved Skipworth or hated
him as a prospect. The negative tallies centered on his being a one-tool
player, although his power is as impressive as anyone in the minor
leagues. I think he's a little underrated behind the plate. He may not
be a starting catcher in the big leagues, but I believe he can develop
into a steady number two receiver who plays first base or left field as
well. Regardless of where he plays, his offense will be his calling
card, and he needs to make more consistent contact to go with his power
in order to be a major league player.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): JD Martinez - only 17th on the list. Is that because he was
an older player in the Sally league, or were his numbers
considered maybe a fluke? You'd think with such dominance
he'd rank a lot higher.
His age played a role in the ranking as
did his modest tools aside from his ability to make consistent contact. I
consider Martinez more of a prospect than some others, and I believe
his performance in the Texas League shows he has a chance to hit at the
game's highest levels. His defense improved a lot in 2010, and while his
arm does not resemble a cannon, his throws are accurate and he has a
quick release. Some observers questioned Hunter Pence in the SAL several
year ago, and I believe Martinez has a chance to follow in those
Chris (Secaucus, NJ): How much does a player's
age effect how you rank him? For instance, does Heathcott even make the
list if he's 21, or does Singleton rank No. 1 if he isn't 18?
It plays a significant role, particularly
in the lower levels. Heathcott may not have made the list if he was 21,
but Singleton would have been in the top 10, in my opinion, if he had
been as old as 21. Obviously different players progress and develop at
different rates, but with all things being equal, a young player will
receive the nod over another similarly talent but older player.
Bryan (Orange, CA): Zack Wheeler seems a little low on the list for a guy with number one starter potential. Is there a reason for this?
Wheeler really didn't pitch that much this
season. When he did, he displayed excellent arm strength who was up to
97 with his fastball. Wheeler was not as polished as advertised this
year, but he has the ability to move quickly once he develops his
secondary pitches and starts throwing strikes early in the count with
his fastball. In no way was he a disappointment, and scouts believe he
still has the potential to be a number one or two starter in the big
Jiovanni Mier (Lexington, KY): I had a down
year this year, but how far am I from making the top 20 list? What's my
prospect status now, and should I expect to be back in Lexington in
Mier really wasn't one of the
close-but-no-cigar guys for the list. His defense was above-average but
his bat showed virtually no consistency over the course of the campaign.
He needs to add considerable strength and fine tune all phases of his
game that are considered to be strengths. He's obviously still a
prospect, but he's generated some serious questions regarding his
offensive potential. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in
Lexington in 2011 but the Astros may want to see what happens if they
push him to the Advanced A level after a strong showing in spring
Zeebs (Palo Alto, CA.): Now that he has a full
season of pro ball under his belt what is the potential for C Tommy
Joseph? Does he still have All-Star catching potential? Or does he have
too many holes in his swing?
Joseph has easy power and easy arm action.
His balance at the plate is exceptional, but he gets in the habit of
trying to pull too many pitches. A reduction in his strikeouts by
shortening his swing, particularly in two-strike situations, would lead
to some improvement. He needs to refine his catching skills but has the
tools in place to accomplish that. I believe he has a chance to be a
starting catcher at the big leagues, but that fellow named Posey may
block his path to San Francisco. If Joseph finds more consistency at the
plate, first base could be an option as well.
Paulo (San Diego): Eliezer Mesa - prospect or suspect?
At this point I would say more suspect
than prospect. Mesa possessed a magic bat for the first four months of
the season before appearing to tire late in the year. While he has good
athleticism, his size and minimal power would limit his potential as a
corner outfielder, and I don't see the instincts for him to play center
field everyday in the big leagues. A lot of his skills are fringy
average, but the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces.
Kyle (Philadelphia): Sebastian Valle, future catcher or 3rd baseman? Does he advance to High A to begin 2011?
Valle's strength is his catching ability.
He handled the Lakewood staff well and showed solid average athleticism.
He can catch and throw and his footwork is good. In many ways it may be
too early to tell if he'll be a starting catcher at higher levels, but I
believe his chances are as good as anyone in the SAL this year. The
concern for me is his offense. He doesn't use the entire field and his
entire body rarely seems to be in sync with his swing. I think he has
some mechanical flaws at the plate that need to be corrected in order
for him to reach his potential.
Zeebs (Palo Alto, CA.): Chris Dominguez: very good college player and minor leaguer or actual prospect and possible impact major leaguer?
The first part is true and the second part
is to be determined. Managers were split down the middle on him. Those
that loved him rave about his power at the plate and his arm strength,
both of which are impressive. I also believe he moves better at third
base than he's given credit for. A lack of consistent contact due to the
holes in his swing is his most glaring weakness at this point. I would
say he's more of a suspect than a true prospect at this point,
particularly considering he will turn 24 on November 22.
Mike (MO): Did Wilmer Flores not qualify to make this list? If he is eligible, how did he not make this top 20?
Flores has the ability to hit for average
and his defense is steady on balls he can reach. The problem is Flores
does not run well and has very limited range at a key defensive
position. He's going to need to change positions, and with that position
change his limited power will become a bigger negative. Flores is young
(he turned 19 in August) and he plays easy with the ability to put the
ball in play. In my mind, at least, the sum of his strong tools do not
add up to an exceptional player at higher levels.
Jack T (Staten Island, NY): Marc Cohoon receive any consideration for this list?
Cohoon did attract some attention and
deservedly so. He was an older pitcher (he turned 23 two weeks ago) who
had success before earning a promotion, and being a left-handed pitcher
with the ability to throw strikes generated some deserved praise. He
throws three pitches for strikes and has a great feel for what he's
trying to accomplish on the mound. If you're looking for a sleeper in
the Mets' organization, Cohoon would be a strong candidate.
Bill (Raleigh): JP Ramirez, suspect or prospect?
Ramirez is an interesting guy. While his
defense improved this year, he continued to display solid bat speed and
power at the plate. He expands the strike zone at times, but his
strikeouts were relatively low for a guy who looks to put the ball in
play. He received a decent bonus as a mid-round pick and simply needs to
play the game at this point in order to reach his potential, whatever
that might be. In my opinion, he may have been the top prospect at
Hagerstown, even though he remains somewhat raw.
Fred (California): Why is Jared Clark not in here he put up big numbers.
Clark hit very well when he was healthy
and was a big reason the Tourists were able to contend for the
second-half crown. The Cal State Fullerton product was also one of the
oldest players in the league, having turned 24 on May 9. His defense was
good at first base and his power numbers were impressive, but he was
playing his home games at McCormick Field, one of the smaller ballparks
in the league.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Was Eury Perez close to cracking the 20? Any future for the
burner in Washington down the line?
Perez was one of the closest players to
not make the list. He possesses incredible speed who has the ability to
be a leadoff hitter down the road even though he hit in the ninth spot
for most of this year. He made good adjustments at the plate after
leading the GCL in hitting in 2009. He is also a good defender and has
learned how to bunt to add to his repertoire. Perez is still a little
raw but it would not surprise me to see him make several top prospect
lists in the seasons ahead.
PT (IBC): Anyone who didn't qualify that would have made the list?
Julio Teheran of Rome would be the top
name on that list. Teheran was dominant in Rome during the first month
of the season and breezed through Myrtle Beach before ending the season
with some strong starts in Double-A Mississippi.