League Top 20 Prospects

Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects Chat

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    @Jaypers413 (IL): Considering Tulo's longterm contract, which position will Story eventually have to shift to? Also, do you see the Rox playing him in Asheville, come April?

Matthew Eddy: This is an interesting dilemma for the Rockies, isn't it? I imagine the organization will let Story develop as a shortstop and see where things stand in 2014. If Tulo is still healthy and effective (a good bet), then they'll probably explore moving Story to second base if he retains his agility and athleticism or to third if they want to foster his average-to-above power potential. Remember, Colorado's moving Ian Stewart back and forth between second and third did him no favors because he felt like he needed to emphasize agility at second and bulk, i.e. home runs, at third, necessitating different playing physiques/weights.

    Max Walla (Helena): I lowered my K rate second half of season, in the Brewers weak system am I still a top 30 prospect?

Matthew Eddy: You can call RF Max Walla the No. 21 prospect if you like. You could even make a case for him at the back of the 20 because he bears some resemblance to Billings' Kyle Waldrop. A 2009 second-rounder, Walla plays an above-average outfield and shows throwing accuracy, but he lacks the speed for center field. This shifts the emphasis of his development to hitting, particularly hitting for power. And while he has improved his strikeout rate, he has to prove he can drive the ball for extra-base power.

    Kyle (Denver, CO): While we appreciate seeing Story as the #1 prospect in the PL, how come his picture isn't adorning BA's homepage? I thought the tradition was to give the #1 prospect that honor.

Matthew Eddy: This is a clear case of anti-Rockies bias! No seriously, our main man Nathan Rode, photo editor deluxe, is out of the office and we don't currently have art of Story in Rockies or Ghosts getup. That will change soon with the dawning of instrux, but we don't have it yet . . .

    Grant (NYC): How does this year's list compare to last year's?

Matthew Eddy: To me this year's Pioneer League crop felt light, particularly on the pitching side of things. While last year's group had no clear-cut No. 1 — we went with Sliding Billy Hamilton (v. 2.0) — it did feature solid depth with Jake Lemmerman, Addison Reed, Daniel Corcino, Garrett Gould and David Holmberg enjoying nice full-season debuts. (Reed's already drawing a big league salary, of course.) But neither the 2010 or 2011 class compares with the '09 version, which was headed by Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi and also had big leaguers Garrett Richards and Salvador Perez.

    Allan (Sconnie): Matt, did Nick Ramirez garner any attention for this list?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, he was considered. Helena 1B Nick Ramirez hit .369 with 8 homers in 23 games before moving up to Low-A Wisconsin. He reminded observers of last year's Brewers first baseman Cody Hawn, but with a less-discerning batting eye (which caught up with him in the Midwest League). You can't take power numbers in the Pioneer League at face value. It's not just one of the most hitter-friendly leagues in the minors, it's THE most hitter-friendly league in the minors. Ramirez has solid defensive skills at first but his pull-happy approach to hitting probably will make life difficult until he adjusts.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Had he played enough to qualify, about where would Keenyn Walker have fit in on the list, and what did scouts think about him?

Matthew Eddy: I'm thinking 7-10 range for Great Falls CF Keenyn Walker, but he moved so quickly out of the league that he never had a shot to qualify. One manager noted of Walker: "He's an absolute athlete with strong gap power. Anything hit in the outfield, he's going to outrun the ball." To me he's the top center-field prospect to play in the league, a clear cut above Baldwin.

    Frank (LA, CA): Between Oakland's Chris Carter and C.J. Cron, how do they compare to each other?

Matthew Eddy: Interesting comp. You could make the case that Carter was a bit further ahead at age 21 (at which time he led the Cal League with 39 homers), but the more I rank these low levels of the minors, the more I realize it's not how a player starts, it's how he finishes. Carter never made adjustments to cut down his strikeout rate, and while it's all conjecture at this point, scouts believe Cron has a better feel to hit.

    Orlando (Tampa, FL): I see you answered only one of Jaypers' two questions about Story at the top of the chat, so I'll ask it - are the Rox considering playing him at Asheville next season to the best of your knowledge?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, look for Story at Asheville next season, though they may delay his start, a la Nolan Arenaod in 2010. But the Rockies have demonstrated that they will send their top Casper guys to Asheville the following season — see Cristhian Adames and Rafael Ortega last year. (Will Swanner is in a bit of a different category because of the demands of catching a 140-game season.)

    PT (IBC): I can't find anything on Aussie David Kandalis. Can you give us a quick thumbnail on him?

Matthew Eddy: Casper CF David Kandilas batted .327/.398/.548 with a doubles/triples-heavy slugging average (17 2B / 10 3B) and made the league's postseason all-star team. He also played in the league for the third year (due to the Rockies' lack of an Arizona League team) and finished the season as a 21-year-old. As an Australian, he faced some of the cultural issues his Latin American teammates did, so keep that in mind. But from a tools standpoint, Kandilas grades as ordinary — fringe-average CF as he matures, solid arm, long swing path so maybe .250-.260 hitter with fringe power. He can really change perception by adding power to his game.

    justin (california): Who is a good comp for Taylor lindey?

Matthew Eddy: Perhaps a lefty-hitting Howie Kendrick, though Lindsey is not nearly as physical as Kendrick, and also does not throw as well. So the occasional third base assignment is probably out of the question.

    Ty (Milwaukee): Thoughts on Carl Thomore's performance?

Matthew Eddy: A second-rounder out of high school in East Brunswick, N.J., Thomore should have began his career in the Arizona League . . . if only the Rockies had an affiliate there. Thomore showed his inexperience against good competition by batting .192/.288/.301 in 43 games for Casper. You can see the outline of a prototype right fielder because Thomore has size, strength and usable power, but his strike-zone awareness is bottom of the scale right now. Wait and see.

    Evan (Chicago): Nice list, but no one really seems "off the charts". Off all these names who do you think is the "special" one to keep an eye on? Thanks.

Matthew Eddy: In researching the list, I got the impression that Trevor Story was the lone player to which observers expressed no reservations. Hard not to like a potential 5-tool shortstop who already shows feel to hit. Also, I have a good feeling about Ogden's Joc Pederson because he has such an advanced feel to hit. I bet his second go-round in the Midwest League goes much better than the first.

    Barb (Portland): Both 19, both lefthanded, both outfielders. What are the biggest differnces between Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson?

Matthew Eddy: In case you missed yesterday's Appalachian League coverage . . . Twins CF Eddie Rosario ranked No. 5 in that league. Rosario has more raw speed and a chance to stick in center field, so I think you have to give him the nod. With 21 homers, Rosario also showed significant power in a tougher league context.

    Tom (Cleveland): Everything I read about Ryan Wright says he has little power potential, yet his numbers (Louisville, Pioneer League) suggest he has 15 homerun potential- which would make him an good offensive 2b- he also played good defense. What is his ceiling?

Matthew Eddy: You're right. Billings 2B Ryan Wright does everything a major league starting second baseman does — he hits for average, defends and hits for some power. He's the type of player who may not receive excessive prospect love, but I bet he's starting for some big league team within 4 years.

    Matt (Scranton): What are the minimums to qualify for the top 20 in a short season league for both hitters and pitchers?

Matthew Eddy: Position players must accrue one plate appearance per team game, so in the PL the magic number is 76. Pitchers must throw 1/3 of an inning for every game, and relievers must make 10 relief appearances.

    Matt (Scranton): Is it me or does this year's Pioneer League seem to be very hitter heavy-at least compared to the crop of pitchers?

Matthew Eddy: You're not imagining things. This year's Pioneer League class was light on pitchers, with all the Division I arms having pitched mostly relief in college. The mid-August signing date affects this, but so too the reticence by teams to place young pitchers in an extreme hitter's league.

    Chung-Han Tsai (Beijing): What are your thoughts on Tyler Linton? What is his current prospect status?

Matthew Eddy: The D-backs signed LF Ty Linton out of high school in 2010 for $1.25 million, but he's developed more slowly than expected, batting .257/.322/.434 this year in Missoula's extreme hitter's park. Managers loved Linton's strength and physique, but thought that he looked like a football player playing baseball, with stiff actions and not a lot of quickness.

    Chuck (Wichita): I know it's hard for older relievers to make these lists, but Edwin Carl's numbers were ridiculous. How close was he? Any other sleepers on Idaho Falls?

Matthew Eddy: I really tried to get RHP Edwin Carl on the list to recognize his incredible year and back story, but the stuff might be a bit short to profile in the back of a big league pen. One scout really liked Carl's mid-70s curveball because it features tight rotation and depth, but he saw mostly fringe fastballs at 89-90 mph with not a lot of life. He succeeds with deception and hiding the ball until the last moment, and I want to see how that plays in full-season ball. Crazy good year for Carl, though: he led all PL relievers with .145 AVG, 19.4 SO/9 and 5.7 baserunners per inning.

    Dan (Idaho Falls): Does Ryan Wright profile as a Jeff Keppinger type player in the bigs? Thanks.

Matthew Eddy: Interesting comp, but I'd bet Wright's raw power and speed grades are higher than Keppinger at the same age, though Wright doesn't have Kepp's crazy hand-eye coordination.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): Between the Appy and the Pioneer League, which would put more players in a combined top 5?

Matthew Eddy: I would probably line them up like this: 1. Miguel Sano, 2. Trevor Story, 3. Brandon Drury, 4. Tyrell Jenkins, 5. Noah Syndegaard, 6. Eddie Rosario and then Pioneer No. 2 Taylor Lindsey at 7. Just a lot more top-end talent in the Appy League this year.

    Paul (Pullman, WA): Confused about Cingrani as a high lev reliever if he develops the third pitch. With the rest of the package, if the third pitch comes along, isn't that a #3 starter?

Matthew Eddy: "Even if he never hones a third pitch, Cingrani could profile as a high-leverage reliever." That's how the capsule reads, meaning he's a potential late-inning reliever with a plus fastball and a second go-to pitch or a No. 3 starter if he hones his breaking ball. The fastball makes him intriguing, but until Cingrani goes out and does it, scouts are always going to hedge on pitchers with such long arm actions because it can hinder his command.

    Mila (jakarta): Blair Walters was 9-0 with 2.1 bb/9 and 8.8 k/9 AND a left-hander who can touch 93 with sink- He and Lenny Linsky were two tough guys out of the Hawaii bullpen this year- why no love from BA?. Lefty specialist out of MLB bullpen?

Matthew Eddy: LHP Blair Walters, 11th round out of Hawaii this year, pitched more at 87-91 mph as a starter in pro ball, mixing in a solid slider and a fringy changeup. He's a strike-thrower, though, and will pitch his way up the ladder, but he's more of a wait-and-see guy.

    Dan (Idaho Falls): I think a decent comparison to Tony Cingrani (from the little I've seen him) is Matt Maloney - ceiling of a #3/4 SP, but more likely a swingman type - does this seem plausible? Thanks.

Matthew Eddy: Interesting. Cingrani's ceiling is higher because of a swing-and-miss velocity with an above-average fastball. We had Maloney sitting 89-91 mph right out of college, a notch behind where Cingrani's at now.

    Matt (Scranton): Where is Junior Arias? To me that seems like the biggest omition from your list.

Matthew Eddy: Billings 3B Junior Arias received considerations, but he's already played his way off shortstop and has yet to prove he can manage the strike zone enough to hack it as a corner player. He's got plus raw power but chases too much now to get to it in games with any consistency.

    jim (halo fan in colorado): Is the Angels future lineup looking good with all these gReat hitters in the minors plus trout?

Matthew Eddy: You have to be excited by what the Angels have received from Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout in the majors this year, but I wouldn't count my Owlz before they hatch. Taylor Lindsey can get away with not working deep counts in rookie ball, but he may face an adjustment period when teams start pitching him backward. And C.J. Cron may have to tone down his aggressiveness as well to put more pitches he can drive in play.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): Any other dodgers close to being on this list?

Matthew Eddy: Someone to watch (in an Edwin Carl kinda way): Ogden LH reliever Eric Eadington, a fifth-year senior NDFA sign out of Harvard. He didn't qualify for this list, but he qualifies as intriguing. He's 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and throws 92-94 mph from the left side, so if he reaches Double-A next season then the Dodgers may have something.

    Russ (New York): Dillon Thomas: better chance at making the majors or having too many jokes made about "Do not go gentle into that good night"?

Matthew Eddy: Rockies fourth-rounder Dillon Thomas, from a Houston high school, didn't play enough to qualify for this list, but he has a nice lefty swing with some loft. He'll be in Kyle Waldrop/Max Walla class of corner outfielders until he proves he can drive the ball. He's a below-average runner and one scout thought the swing was too long to make enough contact to hit for average.

    Lloyd (Lakewood): Hi Matt, Are there any red flags to be drawn from highly drafted college players like Cron and Maronde going to a league like this? Wouldn't a team hope that college players could hold their own in a full season high or low "A" league? Thanks

Matthew Eddy: I don't think so. The Angels treat their Orem affiliate as if it were a Northwest League club, and so does every other organization in the league, save for the D-backs and Rockies, who both have NWL affiliates. These days teams often promote their top prospects to the big leagues after a half-season in Double-A, so players like Cron and Maronde can quickly "catch up" if they get to High-A in 2012 and then Double-A in 2013.

    bob (Colorado): NO Dickson on top 20? I'd rate him over Baldwin even if Baldwin has more potential . Baldwin is too raw. Dickson was one of best hitters in league. What is Dickson's upside...and why the snub?

Matthew Eddy: I hear you on Baldwin — he's got a lot to prove, but he's a center fielder who can run and defend. If he hits .260 — a big if at this stage, granted — he'll make it to Triple-A and may even win a reserve OF job in the bigs. In other words, he fits the profile. Now let's consider the merits of O'Koyea Dickson, the Dodgers' 12th-rounder from Sonoma State. (First a trivia question: Can you name the only two starting big league first basemen who bat righthanded and hail from four-year colleges? Answer follows.) He hit .333 with Ogden and led the PL in slugging at .603, but did so in one of the most extreme hitter's parks in an extreme hitter's league. The offensive bar is so high at first base that you've got to be absolutely sure a player can mash. If Dickson proves himself in the high minors than you can say, I told you so. (Trivia answer: the Marlins' Gaby Sanchez and the D-backs rookie Paul Goldschmidt.)

    El Chompiras (City of Angels): Did scouts have anything positive to say about Ismael Guillon?

Matthew Eddy: Billings LHP Ismael Guillon ran up a 6.57 ERA and walked 6.6 batters per nine innings . . . and had the poor command to support that performance. He seemed to lose confidence after his early struggles and is a strong candidate to repeat the league.

Matthew Eddy: Thanks for the strong questions.