Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Nathan Rode
Ben (Leland Grove): Thoughts on Drabek's struggles in Vegas? Late cut from the list? What does he project as?
Let's get this show started shall we? I'll
get to as many questions as I can, but also let you go soon enough to
catch Game 2 of the ALCS.
As for Drabek, he was on an early version of this list and was a very
tough player to place. On pure stuff and upside, he makes the list. But
it was just a bad, bad year for him. He didn't command his fastball,
which allows hitters to lay off the breaking stuff. Not to mention, Las
Vegas is a brutal place to pitch. With that being said, people I talked
to still liked him and felt he would figure things out. But they're not
sold he's a starter for sure. If he isn't, there is upside in the back
of the bullpen for him.
Frank (Chicago): Did Neil Ramirez qualify? Did he look to be over his head in the PCL?
I've been a Ramirez fan for a while now,
but that might be a biased feeling because he hails from Virginia. He
ended up in the 21-25 range. I tried to find a spot for him at the back
end, but it's a 16-team league so it's difficult to find room. With his
previous experience and the reason he was in Triple-A, he actually
handled it pretty well. It was suppose to be a spot start at first, but
turned into something more. He was 90-95 late in the season with a plus
changeup and promising curveball. Like a lot of pitchers, he just needs
Mark (Los Angeles): Did Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson impress you much this year? Which was closer to making the list?
Both were definitely candidates to make
the back end of the list, but were squeezed out. Guys weren't blown away
by Sands, but he has power and could carve out some solid playing time
with the Dodgers. Trayvon was probably a little closer with his
power-speed combo, though I wonder how much Albuquerque contributed to
the offensive side. There is a lot of swing-and-miss to him right now,
but it's an interesting package of tools.
Wendy (Tampa, FL): If you compared this list of 20 to last year's, which one wins out?
Tough question for me since I didn't do
last year's list. I might give a slight edge to this year's because of
how the 10-20s compare between the two. Both have strong Top 10s. But
it's close. Maybe Jim Shonerd (@jimshonerdBA) feels differently.
Charles (St Louis): Hi Nathan, thanks for the chat. Lance Lynn - prospect or suspect?
Prospect. Big fastball, No. 3 ceiling. Not
to sound like a broken record, but it's a deep league with 16 teams.
There are plenty of guys that missed the list that can be solid major
Brian (San Diego): Any consideration for James Darnell? Any chance he ends up in RF?
A little, but the tools weren't enough to
warrant ranking him and his season over some others that saw success.
While he cut down his error total from the past two seasons, there's
still a chance he moves to the outfield full-time. It's possible that
his error count was down because he saw some time out there this season.
Russell (Kansas City): Had he qualified, would Duffy have been a Top 5 guy? Thoughts on his early numbers in the bigs?
Maybe. I would've had to think quite a bit
about him vs. Montgomery. That's a solid start in the big leagues for
him. With improved command and experience you would expect to see those
numbers improve given his stuff. Answering another question about
Duffy/Montgomery, I think I'd still take Montgomery. Duffy had more
success this year, but despite the numbers, managers had nothing but
good things to say about Montgomery. He just needs improved command
(sound familiar). His curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch that young
hitters would chase out of the zone. More experienced hitters don't bite
as much so he'll he need to show he can throw it for strikes.
BeerHere (Chicago): Is Brett Jackson in the Cubs 2012 opening day lineup?
Obviously that depends on how Spring Training goes for him, but I think he'll be given every shot to make it.
Brian (San Diego): Do you think it's fair to
say that PCL hitting numbers shouldn't be given much attention? Should
anything be taken away from prospects like Lawrie and Rizzo who put up
monster numbers just because they played in a hitters league? Are you
discouraged by Rizzo's struggles in the major leagues this year, or is
it just a small bump in the road for this future major league regular?
Adding to Rizzo Dave from Fort Good Hope,
NT asks: Where do you see Rizzo on a top 100 next year? Do you think he
will get the chance to start and potentially play all season in San
First, PCL numbers should be taken with a grain of salt for sure. But
not every park plays like Albuquerque or Las Vegas. You can't throw them
out, but they're not 100% reliable either.
I am not discourage by Rizzo's cameo. There was a hitch in his swing
that may have contributed to his struggles in San Diego, but it seems
he's fixed it. That's a tough park to play in, but he should have a shot
a playing full-time in 2012. Not sure where he'll end up on the Top
100. Haven't really looked at it yet, but he could land in the middle or
higher just based on some graduations.
As for weighing prospects and their numbers I'll cover that with the
Jeff (Toronto): Just curious why Cooper can be a
1st Round Pick, lead the league in so many offensive categories (in his
first AAA season), and not be among the top prospects?
...This is a fair question and one I even
asked myself. Lawrie and Rizzo put up huge numbers in the league, are
prominent prospects and that was reflected on this list. Cooper, isn't
as highly regarded, but did put up big numbers. This is where the phone
calls with scouts and managers really come into play. I didn't talk to
anyone that was overly excited by Cooper. They attributed some of his
hits to the "parking lot" infield in Las Vegas, saying a lot of his
balls in play would be scooped up by the defense elsewhere. He did hit a
lot of doubles, but had just 9 home runs in a very friendly
environment. He doesn't pull the ball with much authority, essentially
living the other way. It's valuable when you can go the other way
consistently, but you have to be able to pull the ball to make pitchers
respect that. Otherwise they'll just bust you in constantly.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Your thoughts on Wily Peralta's PCL numbers? Did he not qualify for the list? If he did, how close was he to the list?
He did not qualify for the list. Two more
starts and he may have made it. That's a good way to finish the season.
I'm sure he and the Brewers would love for him to pick up where he left
off in 2012.
Lisa (San Francisco, CA): Is Chris Carter's future a DH, especially with Ka'aihue coming over from KC? How near was he to the list?
Not sure what the future holds for Chris
Carter. The A's brought in Ka'aihue and Brandon Allen so it's tough to
say they're looking to him to contribute. There's a lot of
swing-and-miss to his game and that's even against below-average stuff.
He has huge raw power, a tool that can't be taught, but there are a lot
of questions as to whether it's going to translate.
steve (western Mass.): On the one hand, Martin Perez is very young for his level. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to make adjustments quickly.
Then throw his great talent into the mix.
Do you get a future #1 or 2 starter?
I don't put a lot of No. 1 labels on
pitchers. There's a lot needed in a No. 1. But Perez does have the
upside of a 2-3 type starter. He just needs to find some consistency.
He's young so there's no need to worry right now.
Charlie (Atlanta): You said Hosmer would have ranked #1, had he qualified. What tools does he have that Lawrie doesn't?
I think Hosmer's offensive tools are
slightly better and he's a lefthanded hitter, adding a little more
value. That's no knock against Lawrie though. He has a very good bat and
good power. Hosmer is a first baseman all the way, but I'm not
completely sold on Lawrie sticking at third. We'll have to see how that
@Jaypers413 (IL): With Hosmer, Moose, Duffy,
Perez and Giavotella graduating from prospect status, would you
speculate that KC's farm system has fallen out of the Top 10? Or, would
you predict their next crop (Starling, Myers, Cuthbert, etc) is enough
to keep them afloat in the top third?
Will they land 9 players in the Top 100
next year. It's easy to bet against that. However, and I haven't looked
deeply into other systems at this time, I think the Royals can still
land in the Top 10.
Dave Schenkel's bench coach (Burlington, NC):
Do you feel that Blackmon playing the OF corners this year was more due
to the Rockies depth chart (and specifically the long-term presence of
Fowler), his skills on defense, or some combination of the two? In other
words, I'm just wondering if he could hold down CF in a different
organization or if he's more of a tweener type. Thanks a ton!
Note to subscribers: Clever names in the
question submission thingy give you a better chance of having yours
answered. Especially if you're lucky enough to have an inside joke with
the writer (though this one should know better than to call me Nate.)
Sorry for the tangent Sherminator...Blackmon is a tweener when it comes
to defense. He can probably play some CF in a pinch, but long term it
seems like he is a corner guy so his bat will need to come around. But,
he's no slouch on defense even if it's a corner. He has the arm to play
Chuck (Wichita): Should Eric Hosmer be AL Rookie of the Yeear?
He certainly made a case, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.
Grant (NYC): Hechavarria has looked good in Las Vegas so far (even though it's a hitter's haven). Did he get any love for the list?
He didn't qualify, but if he had, he
would've been considered. Hechavarria looks like he play in the big
leagues just because of his defense and speed alone. The bat is a
question though. I had good reports on his bat speed for the Jays Top 30
last year and I've heard this year that evaluators like the swing path,
so who knows, maybe it comes through. We'll start to find out in 2012 I
Steve (Huntington Beach): Speaking of Rockies how about Tim Wheeler? Seems like he hit the ball over the fence a quite a bit this year.
He did hit the ball over the fence a lot
this year, 33 times in fact. But that was in the Texas League where Will
Lingo ranked him at No. 12. You can read his report here:
Commish (NY): Conger and Chatwood, two players
that it would appear fit prominently into the Angels future plans spent
some time in the PCL last year. I know they didn't have enough IP or AB
to qualify, but where would they have placed if they were eligible.
What type of future do you see for them both?
I could see Chatwood being a Top 10 guy.
It would be interesting to stack him against a guy like Jordan Lyles.
Conger probably would've been considered for the second half. It's all
about the bat for him. Chatwood figures to be a fixture in that
rotation. Conger, on the other hand, needs to hit quite a bit to hold
down a job there if catching doesn't work out.
Tyrone (Baltimore): All good things must come
to an end. We appreciate these top 20 lists each year, thanks to the
entire BA staff. Can you enlighten us when the Draft Report cards and
team Top 10 lists will start hitting the site? Thanks Nate!
Don't forget J.J. Cooper's chat about the
Indy League Top 10 tomorrow! The DRCs will begin going online next week
and the first Top 10s will follow not long after that.
This seems like a good spot to wrap it up.
I have some deadline stuff to take care of before a 4:19 date with an
HD TV. Thanks for the questions everyone. I'll be back for the Jays Top
30, but I'm always around on Twitter (@bahighschool) to talk high
school, draft, Blue Jays, baseball, etc. Have a great afternoon