Southern League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ian Gordon
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What are you
hearing about Brandon Guyer of the Cubs? Did the OF come close to the
top 20? Is he considered a legit prospect? He put up very good
offensive numbers - hit for average, showed some power and speed as
well. What is his ceiling - everyday regular, or 4th outfielder?
Hi everyone! Sorry I'm late — just a few
Internet issues to work through. As for Brandon Guyer, Michael, he was a
guy mentioned often by managers around the SL. He's got a strong,
athletic frame and a quick bat, and even though he occasionally gets
himself out with some defensive swings at the dish, he definitely has a
chance. He seems like he could turn into a solid contributer type,
especially with his above-average defense in the corner OF spots.
JAYPERS (IL): What exactly kept Jake McGee off this list?
The famous Jaypers! I'll admit it: McGee
was on an initial list, but in the end several scouts and managers'
concerns that he's end up in the bullpen led us to look elsewhere.
There's no question that his late-jump fastball (tops out at 95) is an
exciting pitch, but like Montgomery manager Billy Gardner said, McGee's
secondary pitches are key. He still gets under his slider a bit, leading
the pitch to lack the kind of tilt and break the organization would
like to see. But McGee's a big, strong kid would has bounced back from
Tommy John surgery with no arm issues.
Danny V (Boston): Hi Ian. Like yesterday's FSL
list, the 2010 Southern League Top 20 seems to lack both the overall
depth and the top-end quality of prospects that were features of a
strong 2009 group. Would you call the 2010 list an uncharacteristically
weak assembly, or just one that looks thin next to what was an unusually
talented 2009 crop? Thanks for the chat!
That 2009 list is pretty strong, isn't it,
Danny? That Jeremy Hellickson — the 2010 Minor League Player of the
Year — was No. 9 on last year's list says a lot. Still, the Stantons
and Pinedas of the world are pretty exciting players, and maybe we'd all
feel a little better about this list had Starlin Castro, Julio Teheran
and Randall Delgado all qualified.
Jon (Peoria): In the FSL list, Archer ranked ahead of Jackson. What caused that to be reversed in the SL rankings?
Ah, the subjective nature of lists, Jon.
It's no exaggeration to say that those guys were thisclose in the minds
of scouts, managers and BA staff. We went back and forth on those guys,
but based on what our SL observers were telling us, Jackson just slipped
by Archer. Think 8A and 8B, if you will. Archer's control issues (5
BB/9 at Tennessee) definitely didn't help his case, though.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Rubby de la Rosa get any consideration for your list?
De la Rosa was another guy praised by a
couple of managers but brushed off by others. His numbers were good —
3-1, 1.41 in eight starts — but the fact that he spent more of the
season in the Midwest League meant that several scouts and managers
never saw him pitch in the SL. His manager, Carlos Subero, spoke at
length about his about to add extra velocity late in games, and compared
de la Rosa to Edinson V�lquez. That changeup is a plus pitch, too.
Jonny (Chicago): BA published an article about
Morel today that quoted Ozzie Guillen saying he will win a gold glove.
What is Morel's ceiling as a ballplayer and who are some good comps?
It's funny, Jonny: I heard from several
scouts that Morel *should* be better with the glove, but his problem is
that he tends to lose focus on some of the easier chances that come his
way. One coach called Morel a "Joe Randa-type," and while I know that's
not the kind of talk that usually gets fans pumped up, it seems like a
fair projection. Even with his gap-to-gap approach, Morel may still have
more power than Randa, who hit 123 HRs in 12 ML seasons, with a
career-high of 17 in 2005.
Dan (Boston): Hi Ian. Thanks for the chat
today. Which prospects were toughest to leave off, and why did they miss
the cut? Anybody who didn't qualify, or showed steady enough
improvement that they're someone to watch for next year's top 20?
Great question, Dan. Aside from the
aforementioned non-qualifiers (Castro, Teheran, Delgado, etc.), there
were a number of guys who were close. Here's a few who come to mind:
Carolina's Kris Negron, who's fast and very good defensively but just
okay with the stick; Huntsville's Amaury Rivas, who shows a hard,
sinking fastball but who needs to develop his secondary pitches and show
better command; Tennessee's Robinson Chirinos, who has a solid approach
at the plate and good instincts behind it, but who is a bit long in the
tooth (26 years old) for this list; Mississippi's Juan Abreu, who made
some nice strides in the 'pen this year; and Mobile's Konrad Schmidt,
who really impressed his manager, former big leaguer Rico Brogna, with
his ability to maintain his batting average (.315) despite his
free-swinging, aggressive ways.
Phil N (North York): Not to sure what to think
of the scouting reports for 3B Alex Liddi or 3B Brent Morel. Does Liddi
stay at 3B? Can Morel hit for enough power to be a starter for the Sox
at 3B in 2011?
These are some of the same questions we
heard from scouts, Phil. Most people that I talked with thought Liddi
could stay at third, but that he needed to put in the time working on
his reads and footwork. His arm definitely plays at third. And Morel,
well, I've already discussed his power. Enough to be the ChiSox's
starter? Stay tuned.
Ryan D. (Fort Myers, FL): Have the Marlins
expectations of Matt Dominguez changed in the few years since being
drafted? How does he project after a full season in AA?
Ryan, there were few players who managers
consistently mentioned when I asked them to name some of their favorite
players around the league, but Dominguez was definitely part of that
group. Carolina's David Bell even called Dominguez the best prospect in
the league. While that's a bit of hyperbole, it shows that people still
see star ability in Dominguez — and not just defensively. (Several
people said Dominguez could win a Gold Glove now.) Now that he's finally
gotten away from chokeholding himself into a slow swing, we'll see if
can continue to make the necessary adjustments to boost that .252
Dave (Atlanta): Where would Delgado and Teheran have ranked had they been eligible?
I love these questions, Dave — it's
exactly what I would ask if I were on the other side of the BA chat
universe. This is a bit off the top of my head, so take it with a grain
of salt, but I think Teheran would've leapfrogged both Pineda and Ackley
into the No. 2 spot. At 19, he's that good. Delgado, I think, would've
come in at No. 6, then, right after fellow Brave Mike Minor and before
Brett Lawrie. At least that's what I think right now.
Andy (Lexington, KY): What's the verdict on Collin Cowgill of Mobile...did he get any consideration for top 20?
Even though Rico Brogna really pushed him,
Andy, Cowgill was hardly mentioned by other managers or scouts. He's got
that Sheffield-like barrel wrap and high finish, and he basically has
CF skills out there in left. He does struggle with good fastballs,
though, and might be the kind of guy who turns out to have Triple-A
batting tools. (Doesn't help that he's not the world's best baserunner,
Dan (D.C): If you were a GM would you rather
have Stanton or Harper? Which one is more likely to manage a 50+ home
run season in the majors?
This is a tough one, especially without
knowing exactly where Harper will be playing in the field in the future.
Right now, I'd want Harper more because of his versatility, but I think
Stanton the more likely 50+ HR threat.
Rich (Yonkers, NY): Hey thanks for the chat.
What did scouts have to say about Jacksonville righthander Tom Koehler?
Do they see him as a future big league starter?
Scouts didn't have much to say at all,
which probably doesn't say much for Koehler's chances at cracking a big
league rotation. With his average stuff, he has such a small margin of
error. He gets people out with his changeup, and his slider/cutter
sequence gives his fringe slider play up. All in all, though, he's a
solid Triple-A pitcher.
BHS (Southern California): Despite probably
being ranked as the best Dodger prospect for the last few years, I
remain skeptical of what kind of MLB player Dee Gordon can become? What
is it about him, besides his speed, that should make me feel better
about his ranking?
Two more questions, everyone. Gordon is a
polarizing player, BHS. Some folks think that he's just coming into his
own — after all, Flash's kid is still relatively new to the sport —
and cite his plus makeup and projectable body as reasons for optimism.
But one scout scoffed at Gordon's physique, telling me, "He looks like a
little bird out there." Aside from his speed, though, Gordon projects
as a 60 fielder and already possesses a 60 arm. So there's that.
Greg T (London, ON): Based on the scouting
reports and Ackley's struggles this season, it almost seems like Pineda
and Ackley should be flipped in the rankings?
Yeah, Greg, these guys were very close.
There are still a lot of folks who believe in Ackley, despite his
struggles at second base. (In fact, many believe that Ackley's average
season at the plate had a lot to do with his start in Double-A and the
fact that he's playing out of position at 2B.) Most folks cite his
advanced approach and great hands when claiming that he'll still be a
difference-maker in the big leagues. While Pineda certainly had a
stellar season, there were enough whispers about him being destined for
the bullpen to keep Ackley out front.
Thanks, everyone, for the chat! Hope I got to enough of your questions!