2012 Southern League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Teddy Cahill
Welcome to the Southern League chat. Lots of pitchers, lots of shortstops. Let's get to your questions.
Harry (NJ): If you compared this list of 20 against last year's, which one would you prefer?
This seems like a good place to start.
Last year's list was led by Rays LHP Matt Moore, who was one of the Big
Three prospects entering this season along with Bryce Harper and Mike
Trout. This year's list, however, seems better. Though none are as good
as Moore, the four pitchers at the top really make the difference.
Combine them with the shortstops behind them and I think it stands out.
@Jaypers413 (IL): What did scouts have to say about Bauer's command during his time in the SL?
Diamondbacks RHP Trevor Bauer spent the
first two months of the season in Mobile before moving up and barely
qualified for this list. His command wasn't as much of an issue in
Double-A as it would become in Triple-A and, especially, Arizona. But it
wasn't exceptional in Mobile either. I'm not sure how much his command
issues are anything physical as much as they are mental. Bauer has often
talked about believing in good walks and is unconcerned by high pitch
counts. For him to take the next step, he probably needs to get used to
the idea of pitching with a pitch count and properly managing it.
Cathy (Vermont): In the tools issue, Hunter
Morris was rated as the best hitting prospect and best fielding first
baseman in the league. What kept him out of the top 20 prospects and
what is his big league projection?
This (or a version of this) seems to be a
fairly common question. Brewers 1B Hunter Morris did receive some
support for this list. He had his best season in the Minor Leagues,
hitting .303/.357/.567 with 28 home runs for Huntsville. The trouble
with first base prospects is if they ever don't hit, their value is
minimal. Morris was one of the last cuts from the list, but at his age
(he turned 24 last week) and given his position, his ceiling isn't as
high as the guys who did make the list.
Matt (Philly): Was there any consideration for
Chatanooga right hander Ethan Martin, his numbers were nearly identical
to Webster's (BB, K's, ERA, IP) and they are the same age?
If this list were 10 players longer,
Phillies RHP Ethan Martin probably makes it. While he might be
statistically similar to his former teammate in Chattanooga, Martin is a
year older and his stuff isn't as good as RHP Allen Webster. Martin is
viewed more as a work-horse starter while Webster has higher upside. Not
a knock on Martin at all, the feeling in the league was he has really
improved since last season.
Ferd (NYC): With a lack of a true SS at the
major league level, can you envision Lee making the big club next year
with a good spring ala Dee Gordon? Who's upside do you prefer, Lee's or
SS Hak-Ju Lee would be the best defensive
option and bring some stability to the Rays infield, but he still needs
seasoning at the plate. I would guess that BA staffers should get
plenty of chances to watch him in Durham next year. As for Lee vs. Dee
Gordon, I'll take Lee.
Lisa (San Francisco, CA): Would you consider Bethancourt to be the best defensive catcher in the minors at present? If not him, who?
I think it is fair to call Braves C
Christian Bethancourt the best defensive catcher right now. His arm
draws rave reviews and his pop times are excellent. If he can just pair
that with a little more offense the Braves will have quite the prospect.
Ty (GA): If you had to guess, is Thornburg's future a starter or a reliever?
Brewers RHP Tyler Thornburg will be
answering questions about starting or relieving until he proves himself
in the Majors. His size and motion says it won't be easy, but I think
his stuff will play in the rotation.
Andrew C (Chicago): How close was Jae-Hoon Ha
to making the list, is his defense good enough for CF or is he a
tweener? Does he have 15-20 HR potential?
Cubs OF Jae-Hoon Ha has been on my radar
ever since his fast start in the FSL last year. That said, he wasn't
much of a factor for this list. Some opposing managers thought he had
the ability to play center in the big leagues, which he'll need to do to
be a regular. Otherwise, his bat will likely make him no better than a
Dave (Atlanta): Any support for other Braves pitchers—Zeke Spruill, Cory Rasmus, JR Graham, David Hale?
RHP J.R. Graham would have had a shot at
making the list if he qualified. He came up just a few innings short,
however. Graham gets a lot of groundballs (his 2.24 GB/FB rate is loud)
and he did rank on the Carolina League Top 20. Definitely a name to
watch. From the rest of that group, Spruill might be the most
interesting, but he wasn't all that close to making it.
Mike (Tampa FL): What was the word on Derek Dietrich and Mikie Mahtook? Did either come close to this list?
Rays OF Mikie Mahtook was on an early
iteration of the list, but ultimately fell off. SS Derek Dietrich barely
qualified and wasn't a factor.
Craig (Phoenix, AZ): Teddy,
I know Chris Owings was young for the league and he seems to struggle
the first time around a new league so do you see him starting back in AA
with a call up to AAA if he hits well then maybe staring in Arizona in
That seems like a likely course (if
things go well) for the Diamondbacks SS. He turned 21 in August, so
starting next season in Double-A will still make him one of the younger
players in the league. He's got work to do with the bat still, but
defensively he is solid. The Diamondbacks sending him to the AFL tells
you how highly the team thinks of him.
Jerry (Saratoga Springs, NY): Where would Mike
Zunino rank on this list if he had been eligible? His stock has to be
way up after his pro debut this year, right?
Zunino certainly had an impressive start
to his pro career. Thanks to the new CBA he was able to reach Double-A
just a couple months after his college career at Florida ended. If he
had played longer at Double-A, he probably would have slotted in right
behind the four pitchers. It would have made for an interesting decision
between him and Hamilton.
Todd (Stone Mountain, GA): Hi Teddy,
Evan Gattis had an interesting year, did he come close to making the
list and do you see his future more as a utility guy able to catch and
play a little 1B and OF ? Thanks
Braves LF Evan Gattis is an interesting
case. After taking a circular path to pro baseball, he's already 26 and
learning a new position. He has hit at every stop, but after suffering a
wrist injury in May, he did not come back well. I am not very bullish
on his chances to be a productive big leaguer, but there are those in
the Braves organization that like him as a prospect. Whatever the case,
they need to find out exactly what they have soon.
Peter O. (Coeur d'Alene, ID): With Cosart the
better all around player at SS, and Phillips at 2B for the Reds, does
Gregorius have the versatility to assume a utility role in 2013?
While Reds SS Didi Gregorius probably
does have the ability to play a utility role in 2013, I'd be surprised
if he were utilized that way. Gregorius hasn't played much in Triple-A
and still could improve at the plate. I'd expect him to open the year in
Louisville to allow him to continue his development.
Carlos (Chicago): Did any of the Birmingham Barons come close to making this list?
As a White Sox affiliate, Birmingham
didn't have much in the prospect department this season. OF Jared
Mitchell is an interesting case, but that strikeout rate is really
detrimental. From a pitching stand point, I like RHP Andre Rienzo, but
he was probably further from making the list than Mitchell.
Kelly (St. Cloud, MN): What did the experts have to say about Ryan LaMarre? Would they consider him a 5-tool prospect?
Reds OF Ryan LaMarre struggled with
strikeouts this year, whiffing 119 times in 558 plate appearances.
That's not deadly, especially when paired with his 60 walks, but it's
something he'll need to improve on. He's not a five-tool prospect,
though few are.
Andrew C (Chicago): I am not surprised Logan
Watkins didn't make the list, but I would like to get what scouts and
managers are saying about him. He seems to have improved this past year
and even developed some power towards the end of the year. Does his
defense translate to major league quality? What about his developing
Cubs UTL Logan Watkins had a good season
at the plate, hitting .281 with nine home runs, but he still doesn't
have a home defensively. He primarily played second base in Tennessee,
but also spent time at short and in the outfield. I don't think what he
did this season definitively answered the questions that have dogged him
as a prospect.
James Arnott (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada): Where does Nick Franklin fit in Seattle's plans? It looks like Ackley and Seager have him blocked.
This is an interesting question. I'm sure
Seattle hopes Franklin can just prove he can stay at shortstop, which
would solve the log jam. That, however, is no sure thing. I expect them
to give him every opportunity to play short because, as you pointed out,
there's not a lot of room in the Mariners infield right now.
Jimmy Arnott (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada): Does Tyler Skaggs stay in the big leagues next year or is it back to the minors for more seasoning?
I think he's got a chance to stick in the
rotation, but I would guess he heads back to Reno to start the season.
Between Skaggs and Bauer, someone should break camp with the
Diamondbacks. Which one gets that shot may be determined in Spring
Alex Colome (Durham, NC): Why didn't I make an appearance on your list, Teddy? What did your sources tell you about me this year?
Rays RHP Alex Colome fit into the 21-25
range. He was close and remains an interesting prospect. Obviously, this
was a pitching rich league this year.
David (Brushton, NY): What is your comparison of Zach Lee vs. Chris Reed? Who do you see as being the best prospect and why??
The Dodgers 2010 and 2011 first rounders
both reached Chattanooga late in the season. Lee is younger than Reed
and I think is a bit more physical. Both are big — 6-4 — and throw
hard. I think Lee's secondary offerings are better and his feel for
pitching at such a young age is impressive. Reed didn't have enough
innings to qualify for this list, but probably would have made it in the
16-20 range had he qualified.
DJ (Alva, FL): What are your thoughts on Bobby Borchering? Still a legit prospect?
I think Borchering's top prospect days
might be over. Borchering got dealt to the Astros, after spending part
of the season in Mobile. He's not a third baseman at this point and his
bat was not the same after leaving the Cal League this year. If he's
going to be a left fielder or first baseman, he's going to have to hit
more. The good news for Borchering is he doesn't turn 22 for two more
weeks, so he still has a chance to make the improvements he needs to.
RichW (NJ): How many of the Top 20 do you see making BA's Top 100?
Everyone on the list but Andrelton
Simmons is eligible for next year's Top 100. I think it's fair to say
that if you make a Top 20 list in Double-A and have prospect eligibility
remaining you will at least be in the discussion for the Top 100. I
would guess somewhere between 12 and 15 of this list makes the Top 100,
though it's worth noting I'm not a part of the group that picks the Top
Jason (New York): Thanks for taking questions,
Teddy. Here's mine: Given Hultzen's impressive performance in Double-A,
were any coaches, execs or scouts surprised about the command/control
issues he showed promotion to Triple-A? Any reason or explanation given?
This seems like a good place to end
today. Most people in the Southern League were as at a loss for
Hultzen's struggles in Triple-A as anyone. One theory is that his
cross-fire delivery finally caught up with him, but to me that isn't
very satisfying. I'd encourage you to come back next Monday, when the
PCL Top 20 goes live, and see what scouts that saw him in Triple-A had
Thanks for the questions today. I hope you enjoyed it, I know I did. The Top 20s roll on tomorrow with the Texas League.