2012 New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Aaron Fitt
Hi everybody, welcome to another NY-P chat! Let's get to it.
Robert (Secaucus, NJ): I'm a bit surprised not to see Jesus Solorzano in the top 20. Did he get consideration here?
Solorzano got a lot of consideration, in
fact. He's got some juice in his bat, and I think he's got some feel to
hit as well. The problem is the profile: he's a 6-foot, right/right,
likely left field-only player, and he's a tick old for this league at
age 22 (compared to a guy like Danry Vasquez, who has some similar
skills). Solorzano can run a little bit too, but he's not a good
defender. His bat will really have to carry him.
@Jaypers413 (IL): As Nimmo is considered raw,
do you predict the Mets will have him repeat the NY-P next season, or
could they take a leap of faith and start him off in the Sally?
No I suspect he will advance to low Class A
next year, Jaypers. Nimmo did hold his own against older competition
this summer, he showed an impressive ability to work counts, and I think
his approach will play at higher levels. He is also a very mentally
tough kid, as Rich Donnelly's effusive quote in the Nimmo write-up
attests. I think Nimmo will be able to handle some adversity and learn
on the fly; I will be very surprised if he repeats the NY-P.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did any of the Doubledays come close to making this list?
As our college readers surely know, I've
been a Tony Renda fan for a long time, and he was in the mix for a spot
on this list. He's an undersized second baseman who did not stand out
for his performance in his pro debut, but he has an innate feel for his
barrel that I think will carry him through the minors. He also made
great strides defensively this summer, though he has a few more things
to clean up in order to become an average defender. Brett Mooneyham had
an encouraging debut, but he's got to smooth out his delivery in order
to harness his potential — I think there's a lot of risk there. Robert
Benincasa and Derek Self are a couple of college relievers who pitched
very well this summer; both have polish, tenacity and solid stuff
(working in that 90-93 range with solid-average sliders), and I think
both could move quickly. And Estarlin Martinez is an interesting sleeper
with some power potential — certainly a guy to keep an eye on.
Josh (Oakland): Who is your personal favorite future star on this list?
I could go a lot of directions with this
answer, but I suppose my gut-feel guy is Patrick Wisdom. I think he's
going to hit for both power and average, and be a plus defender at the
hot corner. I think there is a ton to like there.
Jim (Philly): Besides power, what else does Larry Greene bring to the table?
Greene is another intriguing guy who was in
the mix at the back of this list. I thought it was a deeper pool of
candidates than usual this year — plenty of guys who missed the Top 20
are still quality prospects, and Greene falls into that group. Greene
learned a lot about defense this year — pre-pitch positioning, reading
the ball off the bat, improving his jumps. He's a decent runner (not a
burner), but he's still learning to use his speed, both on the basepaths
and in the outfield. He's got a strong outfield arm as well. At the
plate, he has a tendency to chase out of the zone and needs to improve
his recognition of quality offspeed stuff, but the Phillies were pleased
with his ability to work counts. He has a chance to hit for some
average as well as power, in time.
Grant (NYC): Are you impressed with Mitch Walding's tools?
Another Phillies question — that team was
loaded with interesting second-year high school guys and some decent
college prospects (like Chris Serritella and Cameron Perkins). Walding
obviously struggled quite a bit at the plate this year, but he showed
good defensive actions and athleticism — definitely a guy who should be
able to stay on the infield dirt. He figured to be a long-term prospect
when the Phillies drafted him — you're buying the size and
athleticism. He needs time to figure out his offensive game, but you
could dream on some pop down the road.
Danny (Queens, NY): I'm surprised to see
Brandon Nimmo not make the top 10. Yes he's certainly raw, but he put
together a great second half, and considering where he came from, he
obviously had his detractors. Now he's widely considered the Mets' top
position prospect. Could you elaborate on your ranking of him? Thanks.
I like Nimmo, and he obviously just missed
the top 10, coming in at No. 11. He has upside, but he comes with a lot
of risk. I got some reports that his defense in center field was very
raw, to put it mildly, and his run times were disappointing. If he winds
up having to move to a corner (and plenty of evaluators think he will),
he loses some value. The guys in front of him on this list also have
nice tools, but less risk.
Sammy (DC): Did any of Aberdeen's group get consideration? Thoughts on Torsten Boss?
Kevin Gausman didn't qualify, of course, or
he would have been right at or near the top of this list. Of those who
did qualify, Boss was the closest to making the Top 20. He's got some
wiry strength and athleticism, with some pull power and some speed — a
pretty nice tool set across the board. But he's also got more risk than a
lot of college guys — he needs to improve significantly against
lefthanded pitching, and his range and instincts at third base is
questionable. I think he might end up back in center field, where he
played some at Michigan State. Roderick Bernadina is also interesting —
he's got some bat speed, a decent arm and a chance to play center, but
his strike-zone awareness has a long way to go.
Grant (NYC): What's the word on Brian Johnson's
injury? Very scary to read about it. Where would he have placed on the
list had he qualified?
Yeah, Johnson's had some rotten luck over
the last couple of years (I was at the SEC tournament when Mike Zunino's
foot slipped on a throw down to second, causing him to hit Johnson in
the head and knock him out). He came back strong from that, and the Red
Sox hope he can come back from getting hit in the face by a line drive
this year — he broke seven bones in his face. The biggest hurdle will
be the mental part of the recovery, regaining his confidence and
fearlessness. Before he got hurt, Johnson impressed in his brief NY-P
stint with his composure, professionalism, smooth mechanics and quality
three-pitch mix. He certainly would have made this list had he
qualified; I think he'll be a very quick mover through the minors,
because he really knows how to pitch.
Xavier (San Jose, CA): Very excited about Addison Russell's career so far. Where would he have placed?
Russell would have been in the top 3, and
probably No. 1 — this guy is the real deal. He's got the whole package:
range, arm strength, quickness, actions on defense, in addition to some
power potential and above-average speed. He's got a chance to be very
Tom (Westwood,CA): Being a UCLA Bruin fan I was
very impressed with Tyler Heineman this season. I though the could
really catch and throw and was very happy to see he led the league in
hitting. What are your thoughts on Tyler? Seems like he fits exactly
what Jeff Luhnow looks for in a player.
In our final Draft Tracker this spring,
each member of the BA draft team had to choose one personal "pick to
click" to write up, and I chose Heineman from my Southern California
region. I believe in this guy, and he certainly validated my faith in
his debut — I hated leaving him off the Top 20, but this was just a
strong prospect crop. That isn't to say Heineman didn't get some support
from scouts I spoke with, however — people think he really has a
chance. He'll never have power, but he's a switch-hitter with a feel for
putting the barrel on the ball. He has solid catch-and-throw skills,
great leadership and work ethic. He probably profiles as a backup
catcher in the big leagues with a chance to start — not a star, but
somebody who will be a useful big leaguer. I feel pretty confident in
PT (IBC): How close was Gabriel Ynoa? I
thought his age and projection would have put him ahead of Robles who's
22 and looks pretty maxed out physically. Was there that much of a
difference in stuff?
Scouts and managers I spoke with all
preferred Robles to Ynoa, but Ynoa garnered some consideration for this
list as well. He showed a solid-average fastball in the 89-92 range,
feel for an average changeup and very good control — this guy is a
strike-thrower, like most of those Brooklyn pitchers. The problem is his
slider is below-average, and he lacks the big velocity that Robles
showed. He profiles as a middle reliever at this stage.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Have the Indians
managed to whiff on another 1st round pick? Tyler Naquin's offensive
stats were remarkably underwhelming. Do we have a proud successor to
Trevor Crowe and Beau Mills in the making?
I would strongly advise against writing off
a first-round pick based on 36 games in the NY-P, at the end of a long
season that began in February for him. Not all players adjust to pro
ball at the same clip, but I think you'll see a strong year from Naquin
in 2013 — I think he is a line-drive machine with one of the best arms
in the minor leagues (though it didn't play that way in his debut,
perhaps because of fatigue or lack of opportunity to showcase it). I'm
not saying Naquin is a future All-Star necessarily, but he has a chance
to be, and I'm certainly not forming any negative judgments based on a
short pro debut. If anything, I think his debut was encouraging because
he showed he has a real chance to play center field, which was a
question mark coming out of Texas A&M because he had played
exclusively in right.
Greg (London, ON): Hi - do scouts see righty Jeff Ames as a starter down the road or does he look to end up in the bullpen?
Scouts I spoke with believe he has a real
chance to start, but it's not a lock — he needs to become more
consistent with his offspeed stuff and command. But the fact that he
pitches aggressively with his fastball is very encouraging, as is the
fact that he sustains his fastball velocity deep into his starts.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Luis DeJesus was the
only Scrapper pitcher who achieved much, but his low K/IP rate suggests
he has a very low ceiling. Is there perhaps more there than meets the
Sure, another Mahoning Valley question: De
Jesus is a pitchability righty in the Josh Tomlin mold, but without
Tomlin's great changeup. He'll work in that 89-90 range, maybe bump 91,
and throw strike after strike to both sides of the plate. He lacks a
swing-and-miss secondary pitch, but he commands his breaking ball and
changeup well. Not a high-upside guy — somebody who will have to prove
himself at every level. But he works hard, and he has a good feel for
pitching, so he's got a chance.
Ben (Portland): How serious of an injury did Barret Barnes have? Is he a future low floor 4th outfielder or something much more? Thanks.
Not serious — he was on the verge of
resuming baseball activities in instructional league. Clearly, I think
he's more than a fourth outfielder or I wouldn't have ranked him in the
top 10. I think he has big-time bat speed and power potential, and good
speed that really plays on the basepaths. I'm very intrigued by his
power/speed package, and I like that he has always taken a lot of walks.
Maybe it's not the prettiest swing in the world, but I'll take a guy
with power, speed and patience. I give him at least a chance to be an
everyday center fielder with 20-20 potential; he'll have value even if
he has to move to left.
Alex (NYC): What order do you rank the other
members of the Brooklyn rotation who didn't make this list? Were any of
them close to the top 20?
That was an awfully good short-season
rotation. In addition to Mateo and Robles, Luis Cessa, Gabriel Ynoa and
Rainy Lara all are prospects, and I would rank them in that order. They
mostly all had fastball pitchability and feel for changeups. Cessa
showed some real arm strength, running his fastball up to 95 to go along
with an average changeup and a fringy curve. Only the lack of a better
breaking ball kept him off this list. Lara was more in that 89-92 range
like Ynoa, but with some sink and command. His secondary stuff was
below-average or fringy, however.
Warren (New London): There's a group of four guys with big on-base percentages who
missed the list: Andrew Aplin, Tyler Heineman, Taylor Dugas,
and Tyler Gaffney. Did observers like any of them to continue
this at higher levels?
Aplin, like Heineman, is a player I've
always liked in college, who had a strong debut and almost forced his
way onto this list. Scouts still see Aplin as a fourth outfielder, but I
could see him being slightly better than that because he can really
track the ball down in center field — his average speed plays up
because his instincts are outstanding. He's a smart baserunner and a
selective, patient spray hitter who stays in the middle of the field
well. He showed some pop to the gaps this summer, but he won't be a home
run hitter, so he'll have to really hit for average to have a shot at
being an everyday guy. I can't shake the feeling that he's got a chance
to do so. I like him best of that group of college outfielders.
Ben (Leland Grove): What did evaluators have to say about Michael Ynoa?
Nobody was particularly impressed with
Ynoa, who stood out most for his lack of competitiveness and energy on
the mound (that's never a good sign). He still has arm strength — he
ran his fastball up to 95 mph, though his comfort zone was more 90-91
mph, and it is pretty straight. He also struggles to command his
fastball and his breaking ball, which sometimes has late action and
tight rotation, but other times simply does not. And his changeup is
very underdeveloped — he can't even throw it for strikes, let alone get
hitters out with it. It is fair to say Ynoa did nothing this summer to
restore any of his fading prospect status.
Bernie (Warwick, RI): Any Yankees come close ? Rutckyj ? Dugas ? Butler ?
Not a great prospect crop at Staten Island
this year, after a very strong group of Yankees prospects last year in
this league. Nobody from Staten Island came real close to making this
list, but the top prospect was probably Peter O'Brien, who really
struggled to hit for average but at least showed his big-time power
potential. Opposing coaches said they had success against O'Brien by
tying him up with fastballs inside, and scouts questioned his breaking
ball recognition and impugned his long swing. His defense is nothing
special, but if he can stay behind the plate he'll have some value,
because his power is real. Saxon Butler and Matt Snyder are like O'Brien
— older, physically maxed out college guys with some pop, but they
don't play a premium position like O'Brien does. The most interesting
Staten Island pitcher was Corey Black, an undersized righty who probably
profiles as a reliever — but with big arm strength. At his best, he
was 92-96 with an 83-85 mph slider that has a chance to be plus. He has
an adequate changeup as well, and he'll mix in a curveball as a change
of pace, but it is the worst of his four pitches.
Bobby (Chesterfield, MO): The Cardinals drafted
three 3B in the first two rounds (Piscotty, Wisdom and Kelly). Which
has the best chance of being a good big leaguer and which has the best
chance at sticking at third? Thanks!
As I mentioned earlier, I'm bullish on
Wisdom, who I think will definitely stay at third. He's got instincts,
actions, range and arm strength — the full package at the hot corner.
Piscotty, I think, is more of a left fielder, but I think he's got a
chance to hit enough to play every day out there anyway. Sounds like
Kelly has a chance to be steady at third, but probably not a standout. I
think Wisdom can be a standout defender there.
Robby (Cape Cod): Deven Marrero seems to be
regarded as a defense first shortstop. What exactly is his upside/ floor
at the plate? Is he going to hit at a Marco Scutaro level? Or is bat
completely inferior to his glove like Jose Iglesias?
Scutaro is a career .275 hitter with a 94
OPS+, hit 11-12 HR a year at his peak — I see that as a reasonable
baseline for Marrero. I'm not completely sold on his bat, but I do think
he clearly has more offensive upside than Iglesias. If you like Marrero
(and the Red Sox clearly do), you probably see him as a peak value
Scutaro (an OPS+ around 110) with strong defensive skills at short.
PT (IBC): What can you tell us about the Nats Estarlin Martinez? Was he close to making the list?
Martinez had been spinning his wheels a bit
for the last couple of years, but he took advantage of his opportunity
after some injuries forced him into an everyday role this spring. He's
strong and has some righthanded power potential, but his swing gets out
of whack when he tries to put a charge into the ball, and he'll get very
pull-happy. But he made progress this year at going middle-away more
often. He's an average runner who plays an aggressive left field, and he
actually has plus arm strength but is still learning how to use it (he
doesn't have a lot of feel for distances or accuracy). He's just a young
player with tools, but one evaluator described him as something of a
bull in a China shop at this stage.
Mike (WV): Can you tell us a bit about Adrian
Sampson. The Pirates 5th round pick pitched well over 44.2 innings and
he's not terribly old as he only turns 21 this coming week. Is he a
I like Sampson — he was in that group of
5-10 guys who were in contention for the final spot on this list. He
showed a quality three-pitch mix, at his best working in the low 90s and
peaking at 94 with his fastball. His slider has a chance to be average
to plus, and his changeup developed quite a bit this summer, giving him a
chance for three average or better offerings. Some evaluators were more
impressed with his stuff than others, but everyone had good things to
say about his mound demeanor — he's a bulldog, and he knows how to
change speeds and locations. Very interesting guy.
Mike (West Virginia): Can you talk a bit about
Tyler Gaffney. How did he manage to get hit an absurd 20 times in 151
plate appearances. Add that to great plate discipline, and Gaffney had
an outlandish OBP of .483. Is he a legitimate prospect or just a
college draftee who's old for his league?
Gaffney is one of those hard-nosed guys who
has never been afraid to "wear it." He walked about as much as he
struck out in each of his last two seasons in college, so he has a
history of working counts, even when he's not hitting for average. And I
think he has more upside than you'd expect from an average 24th-round
pick out of college — remember, this guy played running back at
Stanford. He's got strength and real athleticism, and now that he's
focused on baseball full-time, he could take off. He played mostly left
field this summer in deference to Barrett Barnes, but he's got a chance
to play some center as well; he can run, and he has some strength in his
swing, though he also has some stiffness that probably will prevent him
from being an impact player down the road.
Byron (Harvard Park): Does Brandon Nimmo still
profile as a centerfielder? Also, I thought he was supposed to have
more speed. Are his 1-6 sb this season a result of lack of aggression,
bad speed, lack of confidence in base running, or little opportunity?
The Mets still think he can play center,
but observers outside the organization expressed plenty of doubt this
year. He's still young, and the answer to that question is still TBD.
His lack of speed this summer was rather bewildering — this guy was a
plus runner coming out of high school, but he consistently showed
below-average to fringy speed this summer, and he needs to learn how to
read pitchers and pick his spots on the basepaths.
John (Parsippany, NJ): BA had Vermont's Chris Bostick as the sleeper pick in the organization coming into the year - what the reports on him now?
Bostick is still very much on the radar —
he was probably the closest of any Vermont prospect to making this list
(though I still really believe in Daniel Robertson as well — he just
had a poor performance in the NY-P). Bostick played shortstop in high
school, and the A's are trying to make him into a second baseman in pro
ball. He's got a chance to do it with continued hard work, but right now
his actions have some stiffness and he needs work on his agility around
the bag and his defensive positioning. But he's an above-average
runner, and he could probably play center field if he winds up having to
move out of the infield. He's mostly a contact hitter right now, but he
has some surprising leverage and bat speed, and he could be a
gap-to-gap hitter with occasional home run power down the road.
Snoopy (Doghouse): Been attending NYPENN since 1993, and I was wondering, best venue in the league? Does anyone miss Pittsfield?
I can't speak for anybody else, but I miss
Pittsfield — I grew up going to games at Wahconah Park, so maybe it's
just the nostalgia talking...
Jim (New York): Matt Duran was a 4th round pick and really struggled this year. Is he a legitimate prospect? How do his tools grade out?
I think he's got a lot to prove. He's a
bad-bodied right/right guy, and his range, hands and arm all fit better
at first than third. He does have raw power, but it's going to have to
Norm (Connecticut): Hi Aaron,
Did Mookie Betts impress any scouts?
Yeah, interesting little sleeper for the
Red Sox. He's an undersized second baseman with a short swing, and he
does a good job controlling the strike zone and using the whole field.
He's an above-average runner with a chance to be a solid defensive
second baseman. He's stronger than you think — should grow into solid
gap power, but it's a table-setter profile. Great two-strike approach,
Jason (Houston): Were there any other Astros prospects that got consideration for the list(Brady Rodgers and Andrew Aplin)?
I already addressed Apiln, but Rodgers and
Aaron West got consideration as well. West showed good arm strength
(working low 90s and bumping 95) and arm-side life, and a hard
three-quarters breaking ball with some late action. He's also got some
feel for a change, but he's an older guy and scouts see him as a
reliever. Rodgers is a consummate strike-thrower, but with less stuff:
he's more 87-91 with good feel for three average secondary pitches. He's
very aggressive and has above-average command, so I think he's got a
chance to be a back-end starter, but it's not a real high ceiling.
J (Detroit): Does Danry Vazquez succeed at West Mi next year? What's his upside?
Did Montreal Robinson show enough to be considered a prospect?
I think Vasquez is ready for low Class A,
yes. He's got a chance to be a quality everyday corner outfielder with
an average to plus bat and average power. I'm glad you brought up
Robertson, one of my favorite sleepers in the NY-P this year. He's got
serious arm strength — he ran his fastball up to 97 mph and sat around
94, and it has heavy sink and arm-side run at times. He worked primarily
off his fastball, but it's got a chance to be a plus-plus fastball if
he can command it better. He's working on his slider and changeup, and
both have a long way to go, but every once in a while he'll flash a good
slider in the low to mid 80s, so it's in there. He's a reliever all the
way, but if it clicks he could be very good.
Steve (St. Louis): Could you give us an update on Alex Mejia's status? Is he expected to be ready for next season?
Apparently he tore his ACL after hitting
the bag awkwardly — that injury typically takes some time to recover
from, but I suspect you'll see him sometime next year.
DH (Pittsburgh): Can you compare ceilings and likelihood of reaching those ceilings for the top 2 arms of the list, Guerrieri and Heredia?
I think Heredia has a little more upside,
actually, but I think Guerrieri is a little safer, while also having a
significant upside (think: No. 2 starter). You can really dream on
Heredia — for him to have that kind of size and stuff at his age, what
will he be like at 21? He's got a chance to be a true No. 1 if it all
comes together. But he doesn't have Guerrieri's current command and feel
for pitching. Don't get me wrong, Heredia has plenty of feel for a guy
who just turned 18, but Guerrieri's feel is special.
Michael (Baltimore): What are the thoughts on Edgar de La Rosa of the Tigers?
I think this will be my last question of
the day. Like Robertson, de la Rosa has a big arm — he also reached 97,
though he sits 92-93 and his fastball doesn't have the kind of heavy
life that Robertson's does; it flattens out up in the zone. But his
slider is more advanced — he'll flash an average slider with power and
three-quarter break, though more often it is below-average, as is his
changeup. His secondary stuff and command needs to come, but he's got at
least a chance to be a starter down the road, though the bullpen is a
more likely destination.
OK folks, that's all I've got time for. Thanks for another great batch of questions — enjoyed chatting with you, as always!