International League Top 20 Prospects Chat With James Bailey
James Bailey will answer your International League questions beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.
It's chat time. Looks like we've got a lot of great questions today, so let's get rolling ...
@Jaypers413 (IL): Could you tell us how close
Betances and Banuelos came to cracking your list, and what was said
about their stints in the IL this year? Thanks.
A couple of managers threw their names at
me, but because we had a minimum of 1/3 IP per # games played for each
team (roughly 48 IP), neither qualified for our IL list. Should they
return next season and stick around long enough to qualify, I'm sure
Betances and Banuelos will garner some attention from league managers.
Brad (Boston): Did Jose Iglesias regress this year in your eyes? What does he need to work on most?
Iglesias was Boston's #1 prospect last
spring kind of by default after the Red Sox traded so much talent away
in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. At 21, he was young for the IL, and it's
clear he wasn't really ready to be there yet offensively. His defense is
phenomenal and he could play a big league shortstop right now. But the
days of Mark Belanger are behind us and no team is going to put up with a
shortstop who bats .235/.285/.269. He needs to hit with more authority
to earn his shot in Boston. I could see him repeating the IL next year
and posting significantly better numbers, though he's never going to be
an offensive force. His defense is good enough that he just has to hit
enough not to stand out as an obvious hole in the lineup.
Argun (Michigan): Better major league career...Kipnis or Chisenhall?
Managers nearly unanimously preferred
Kipnis over Chisenhall. I'd give him the edge, though Chisenhall should
be a solid major league regular for quite some time.
Dave (Atlanta): Any support for Gwinnett pitchers Juan Abreu, Jairo Ascencio, or Todd Redmond?
Abreu and Ascencio got some love. Abreu
has great, loose arm action with a 95-96 mph FB and a plus curve. He
just needs to realize that he doesn't have to rare back and reach for
100 mph. Dave Brundage, his manager at Gwinnett, said sometimes he was
better when he was behind in the count because he was less inclined to
overthrow. Ascencio has 3 above average major league pitches. FB 93-94,
plus change, plus curve. When he learns to throw all three he can be
even better. He needs to trust all three, and utilize all three and not
T (Boston): While not worthy of Top 20
consideration, Lars Anderson did seem to show strides of improvement as
the year went on. He's he back on the radar as a legimitate prospect
(ie mlb regular)?
I could see Anderson playing in the big
leagues, possibly as a regular, but not on a first-division club unless
his power comes around. He had a couple of nice streaks, but 14 home
runs in Pawtucket doesn't excite the imagination. He obviously needs a
trade, with Adrian Gonzalez blocking his path. There are a couple of
teams he could challenge for a starting role with, but he's got work to
do to hold down a job for 500 AB's.
Kelly (St. Cloud, MN): Prior to his injury, was Kyle Gibson on the road to making your list?
Yes. Had he not been facing a year off
due to Tommy John surgery he would have snuck in there at the bottom
somewhere. He didn't post great numbers, though some of that was likely
due to the elbow problems. I talked to a scout who absolutely loves him.
Hopefully he comes back the same way he was throwing before he got hurt
and the Twins have a much-needed starter on their hands. He throws
strikes with four pitches, his breaking balls are effective, and he gets
good movement. Good arm action, with a loose, clean delivery. Of
course, he still got hurt. Twins fans will have to keep their fingers
crossed that package is all there when he returns.
Matt (Scranton): What do you think of Julio
Teheran's ceiling-is he an ace or a very good #2? Is it time to worry
about a K rate lower than most top pitchers?
I'm going to go with a very good #2 guy,
but that's using a definition of ace = elite #1 starter, of which not
every team has one, so there are fewer than 30 true #1 starters in the
majors. For the first half of the season he was phenomenal. I think he
wore down a little in the second half, and at his size, durability may
be a factor. But he was just 20 years old all season, and in the first
half he was nearly untouchable in a league stocked with plenty of
hitters who have spent significant time on big league rosters. His
fastball and changeup are his two best pitches right now. The curve just
isn't consistent enough yet, though it has gotten better. I think
if/when that becomes sharp enough to use as a chase pitch, his strikeout
rate could climb. He knows what he's doing out there, he just needs to
keep working on a couple things.
Trevor (Cleveland): James - This list,
especially the top 10, looks fairly deep. On Chisenhall, he seemed to
really start barrelling up on balls in September, showing plus power
potential. What kind ceiling would you give the bat .285 seem
It's a very deep list, particularly with
elite prospects. 26 of our top 100 preseason prospects spent time in the
IL. Chisenhall did seem to start figuring things out a little better
toward the end of the year there. .285 seems within the realm of
possibility, but I'm not sure I see him hitting that high every year.
Randy (Detroit, MI): Can you tell us about Andy Oliver's reviews from scouts, and was he considered for the list?
He was considered. Probably somewhere in
the 26-30 range for this league. Oliver was a bit inconsistent this
season, and didn't always wow with his stuff. Phil Nevin, his manager in
Toledo, said that Oliver sometimes doesn't seem to realize how good his
stuff can be. His fastball runs up to 96-97 mph, he has a decent
slider, and his changeup is coming along. But he needs to trust it all.
The key for him is gaining confidence and improving his control. When he
does, he'll be ready for Detroit as a middle-of-the-rotation guy.
Randy (Detroit, MI): Is Jacob Turner Major League ready in your opinion, or should he spend some time in Toledo next season?
In honor of the Tigers advancing to the
ALCS, we'll allow Randy two questions. Turner was the #5 prospect on our
Eastern League list, but with just three starts in Toledo he didn't
qualify for the IL list. He's an exciting arm, with a higher ceiling
than Oliver, though I could see him needing some further fine-tuning.
Per John Manuel's EL report, he needs to pitch more off his fastball and
his curve lacks consistency. Both issues are easily remedied with
Grant (NYC): How does this list of 20 stack up against last year's?
I like this year's a little better,
particularly with Moore at the top. Of course, Montero, Jennings, and
Alonso are all repeaters. Last year's top 10: Carlos Santana, Jeremy
Hellickson, Aroldis Chapman, Jesus Montero, Freddie Freeman, Zach
Britton, Desmond Jennings, Pedro Alvarez, Ivan Nova, Daniel Hudson.
That's a pretty deep first 10. With 14 teams in the league there are
generally a lot of interesting guys to follow.
mymrbig (New Orleans): Wow, the "Five Years
Ago" list is terrible. The top 9 prospects from that list (Delmon
Young, Milledge, Sowers, Gorzelanny, Ryan Sweeney, Josh Fields, Hayden
Penn, And Marte, Humberto Sanchez) have all been major disappointments!
Looking back at that list, was the IL just weak that season or were
there just a lot of toolsy misses (Young, Milledge, Marte)?
To follow up on the last question, even
good leagues have bad years. And, yeah, that's an ugly list. In
hindsight you'd want to move James Shields up from 10 and Pedroia way up
from 18. Go back in time and throw Jon Lester and Martin Prado on there
somewhere. But it wasn't like 2010 or 2011.
Steve Dakota (Orlando,Fl): After the way Matt
Moore dominated both the Yankees and Rangers,how in the world can he NOT
be your Minor League Player Of The Year?
Because we don't have a time machine.
That choice was made long before the playoffs began. Not to say Moore's
performance would necessarily have changed the result, because we really
like Trout and what he accomplished despite not turning 20 until
August. But Moore is a tremendous prospect as well. He topped the
Southern League in addition to the IL, and it's safe to say he's the
best pitching prospect in the game right now.
Dave (Atlanta): Are you back at BA full time?
No. Just an assignment basis. In addition
to the IL list I'll be doing the Marlins again this year when we do the
organization Top 30s. And I do a ton of book reviews here on the site.
I'm slowly trying to establish a northern outpost up here in Rochester,
Matt (Wickliffe, OH): Clippers question - you
mentioned Cord Phelps and Scotty Barnes just missing the list. Thoughts
on other Clippers like SPs Jeanmar Gomez and Zach MacAllister, 1B Beau
Mills, OF Ezequiel Carrerra and RPs Josh Judy, Zach Putnam, and Nick
Hagadone? Any that I failed to mention that scouts liked?
Jeanmar Gomez actually didn't qualify,
because he had 57.2 IP in the majors in 2010, so he used his rookie
status up already. Carrera looks like he could stick as an extra
outfielder. Great defense, he can run, not much pop. Maybe a #9 hitter
or a 4th/5th OF. Judy, Putnam, Hagadone are all nice bullpen arms with a
chance to contribute. I'll throw Chen Lee at you as another reliever to
watch. Funky, underneath delivery, lower than 3/4. 94 mph FB, with
heavy movement. Slider. He's going to be real tough on righties. Could
be a situational guy or setup man. McAllister made some strides this
year, but I like Barnes better.
Dan (Chicago): Do you see Brandon Guyer opening next year as the Rays starting right fielder? or possibly center if B.J. Upton is dealt?
I like Guyer's tools, but I'm not sure
he's ready to unseat Matt Joyce in right field. I could see Upton being
dealt and Jennings moving to center, with Guyer seeing time in left
field. One manager said he thought Guyer had 30-30 potential. That was
the most optimistic assessment. I think 20-20 is probably more
realistic, but there's a lot of ability there.
Matt (Scranton): How close was Randall Delgado? Or did he fail to qualify?
Delgado is another nonqualifier, with just four starts and 21.2 IP for Gwinnett this year. Great arm, though.
Greg (Ky): So is Dom Brown ready for big leagues or what?
Apparently not. He's still got great
tools, and I think he'll be an exciting part of Philadelphia's lineup
soon, but he got nearly 200 at-bats there this year and didn't do much,
though if he doesn't hurt that hamate in spring training maybe those
numbers look a lot different. He did take a major step forward in the
plate discipline realm, both in the majors and in Lehigh Valley. But
he'll need to hit with more authority to hold down a corner OF job up
there. I think he'll be ready next year.
Coomish (NY): Fernando Martinez just can't seem
to stay healthy. Was he even a consideration for this list? Assuming he
can ever stay healthy, does he still have the ability and the key is
ability to be a good or great major league starter, or have injuries
sapped him of whatever promise he once may have had.
He wasn't really a factor this time
around. He's starting to remind me of Alex Escobar, though we need to
keep in mind that F-Mart only turns 23 on Monday (Happy Birthday,
Fernando!). But he's never had 400 at-bats in a season, and only topped
300 twice. It's hard to develop your skills when you're in the
infirmary. Some guys are just too fragile to make it and he may be one
Keith (Manchester, CT): Thanks for the chat,
James. How concerned are you about reports that Teheran's curveball
isn't developing? Is his future in the pen? Does he start 2012 back in
Triple A ?
Not that concerned given his age and
maturity. If he can't figure it out he could go to the pen, but I'd be
reluctant to start viewing a 20-year-old with his stuff as a reliever
when a little patience might reward you with a frontline starter. He
could wind up back in Triple-A, given their depth. Minor and Delgado are
fighting for spots too. They won't have 3 openings.
Dan (Chicago): Now that you mentioned organizational top 30's...when do those start coming out?
The issue with the NL East prospects,
which is first in line this year, goes to press at the end of the month.
We don't have a schedule yet for when they will start running on the
web. But it's within sight.
Jim (Miami): What are your thoughts on Tom
Milone? He had a nice season in Syracuse then pitched fairly well in 5
starts in Washington. Do you think he can be a contributor for the
Nationals, both short-term and long-term?
Milone has exceptional control and
command. He walked just 16 hitters in 148 IP for Syracuse while striking
out 155. That's outstanding at any level. His command was the best in
the league, and his changeup may have been. But ... his fastball runs
only 88-91 mph. He doesn't have the same margin for error that a lot of
the guys who throw harder have. I think he can be a contributor as a
back-of-the-rotation guy or long man.
Dan (Idaho Falls): Question on a few Mets: how far outside of the top-20 did Duda, Tejada and Niewenhuis fall? Thanks!
Ruben Tejada has 216 AB for the Mets in
2010, so he wasn't eligible. Duda and Nieuwenhuis were in the next bunch
beyond the top 20. Duda's got a nice frame for power, but I think he
generates it more from strength than bat speed. He's also a
below-average defender in the outfield. I like Nieuwenhuis better long
term, but he missed so much of the season that he didn't garner much
support for this list.
Kyle (Oxford): Do you think Cozart will be a league average starting shortstop or better in the long run?
One scout I talked to saw him as a
potential all-star, so that would put him at better than league average.
I'm not sure he's a perennial all-star, though. He's a nice,
well-rounded player, who does everything well, though he won't hit for a
lot of over-the-fence power. More of a doubles guy than a home run guy.
Steven Alengakis (NYC): If Montero were to
actually become the kind of elite hitter that many project him to be:
.300 Avg., .500 SLG, 30-40 HR annually — yet be a full-time DH, why
would that diminish his value? If he becomes that and can do that for
the next 15 years, he'd essentially be David Ortiz. David Ortiz is a
weapon at DH that other teams can't match! Unless the DH is abolished,
having that kind of DH has tremendous value. With Russll Martin already
in the majors, Austine Romine and Gary Sanchez behind Montero, I am not
worried really about Montero being the Yankees long-term solution at C. I
think he heas tremendous value as a RH hitter and middle-of-the order
presence. And based on what I saw of him in September, I'd be surprised
if he doesn't turn out to be an elite hitter (just like Cano's ability
was very evident right from the start in 2005). I bet the Mariners wish
they'd made that deal with the Yankees last summer rather than gettign
Justin Smoak! Thank you.
Any time a player's defense limits him to
DH, that by definition has diminished his value compared to what it
would be if he were good enough defensively to play the field. Clearly
Montero is a gifted offensive player. It's hard to quantify how much so
based on his Triple-A numbers, because several of the managers I talked
to thought he was bored/distracted in the IL and possibly not always,
shall we say, locked in. He sure turned things up a notch in NY. But if
you tell me you'd rather have a great-hitting DH than a great-hitting
catcher, I'll politely disagree. Regardless of position, yes, he sure
seems to me to have more value than Justin Smoak.
Vic (San Diego): What kind of power potential
are we talking for Kipnis? IF all goes right for him, could he be an
elite offensive second baseman, 20+Hrs with a .290+ average?
I'd feel comfortable projecting him to
hit 20 HRs. Could be more. He's got good pop. A .290 average also seems
realistic. I could see him being one of the better offensive second
basemen in the AL within 2-3 years.
Kyle (Oxford): Do you think Todd Frazier will
ever get regular at-bats in Cincinnati with Francisco, Alonso, and
Sappelt in the picture? Is Cincinnati the only team that would value
Francisco more than Frazier?
Frazier's versatility might win him
regular at-bats, because he's the kind of guy that can fill in for a
number of players, should they get hurt or struggle. As to the Reds
valuing Francisco over him, they didn't give Francisco much PT this year
and I won't be surprised to see him move on soon. One scout I talked to
absolutely drooled over his power, saying he has as much raw power as
any player he's ever seen. While he's never going to walk much, this
scout saw enough improvement in his approach, saying he had cut down
significantly on his free-swinging compared to a couple years ago.
Players who don't walk are more prone to streakiness, but if he gets on
the right roll, Francisco could post some intriguing numbers.
Offensively, I like his upside more than Frazier. What earned Frazier a
spot on our list was he seems a better bet to reach his ceiling than
Francisco does, and he has the versatility to play a variety of roles,
where Francisco is limited to third base, and he's not all that good
Paul (NYC): Jorge Vazquez - is he likely going to be a 4A type of player in the foreseeable future?
The future is now. Vazquez is already a
4A type player. He could probably fill in short term on a big league
roster and pop a few balls out. But he turns 30 in March, so he's well
beyond the prospect range.
steve (western Mass.): Is the cupboard really
bare in Pawtucket? Alex Wilson only made 4 starts there, but he seems to
have a good arm. Any comments on him, although he didn't pitch enough
innings to qualify?
Wilson put things together this year
after really struggling in Double-A in 2010. He spent most of his time
with Portland this year, so I didn't consider him for this list. But
he's got some nice upside and I could definitely see him moving up the
Red Sox list this winter. I wouldn't call the Pawtucket cupboard bare.
In addition to Lavarnway and Reddick, they had Iglesias (discussed
earlier) and Che-Hsuan Lin, an intriguing center field prospect. On the
mound they had Kyle Weiland, Felix Doubront, even Junichi Tazawa. Those
guys could all contribute to the Terry Francona-less Sox.
Dennis (Chicago): Does Mesoraco make a couple All Star Games or just a nice everyday catcher?
I think he's got a shot at some All Star
rosters. I'm not saying next year, but he's got a nice all-around game,
with enough to offer on defense that he's a legitimate catcher with
power. Let him learn and develop in the big leagues for a couple of
seasons and I think he'll stack up favorably against most of the
catchers around the league.
Kyle (Oxford): Did Brad Boxberger get any consideration for the back end of the list? Does he profile well as a big league closer?
More Reds questions. Kyle was stuffing
the ballot box this afternoon. Here's another for Oxford ... It's hard
for relievers to make these lists unless they project as elite closers.
Keep in mind that 20 players from 14 teams is less than 1.5 players per
team on average. That said, I like Boxberger's upside. He got cuffed
around pretty good in the Southern League last year, when he was just
adjusting to a bullpen role, but returned this season and had the last
laugh. He kept on rolling after joining Louisville. Low 90s fastball,
average slider, usable changeup. I like him as a setup man in Cincy's
deep pen more than I do as a closer.
Lloyd (Lakewood): Can Yonder Alonso play a passable major league LF, or is hje destined to become trade bait?
Last Reds question. I promise. (They had a
lot of talent at Louisville this year, so there's a lot to talk about.)
Define passable. Will anyone get hurt? Maybe not. Will he let in as
many runs as he contributes to the offense? Again, maybe not, but you
have to factor that in when measuring his overall value. I think he'd be
better off in another organization. If he had a clear path to first
base we wouldn't be talking about how bad his defense is, because he's a
first baseman and is capable of doing a decent job there. His lack of
speed limits his range in left field. He catches what he gets to, but
that's not really what you're looking for.
Brian (Pittsburgh): Did anyone other than Alex Presley get consideration for the Top 20 IL prospects?
I assume you mean Pirate prospects in
Indy. Chase D'Arnaud got some support. People are mixed on whether he's a
future starter at short or a utility guy. He's very athletic. The bat's
the key. He needs to hit enough to hold onto an everyday job. Josh
Harrison is probably a notch below him. Enough versatility to help out
in a few infield spots, but probably not enough bat to play full time.
And I'll throw Matt Hague out as a guy that managers loved, though
scouts weren't as high on. He gives maximum effort out there. Good
knowledge of the strike zone, never gives away an at-bat. Primarily a
1B, but can play a little 3B. He just doesn't have the power you're
looking for on the corners. He's got great makeup, though, and will
squeeze as much out of his career as he can.
Thanks for all of the questions today.
This is always fun. Glad you guys could all tune in for this one. PCL is
up next, on Monday.