Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Perrotto

Pirates Top 10 Prospects Chat



Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

Moderator: John Perrotto will chat about the Pirates farm system at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Would it be out of line to comp McCutchen to Soriano, tools-wise?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I don't think it's out of line, though I don't know if McCutchen will develop quite the power of Soriano.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
If you could choose only between Cutch and Maybin for the CF job on your fantasy team, who wins out, and why?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I would have to go with McCutchen as I believe he has more power potential than Cameron Maybin, though I could see both being stars in the big leagues.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
Brad Corley seems to have a lot of questions about him for a #8 prospect. What are his chances of making an impact at the major league level? What would he rank in the Devil Rays system?
 A: 

Moderator: Corley has to develop better strike zone judgement. He has power potential and showed he is capable of driving in runs but he has to have better plate discipline or will get exploited by more experience pitchers. I would doubt he would be in the Devil Rays' top 20 but that doesn't mean he isn't talented.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
What is the ETA of the top 3 for the Pirates?
 A: 

Moderator: I think Andrew McCutchen will make his major-league debut by no later than September and that you will see Neil Walker and Brad Lincoln at PNC Park sometime in 2008.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Do you see Rajai Davis as a future regular CF for the Pirates? Can he beat out Duffy this year? He had a nice season in AAA last year - .283 with 45 SB. Did he just miss out in the top 10? He must not be highly thought of if he couldn't make a weak system like Pitt top 10. Where do you see him? Where do the Pirates envision his future?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Davis projects more as a fourth outfielder as his bat looks like it might be a touch short to play everyday in the majors. I think the answer to what the Pirates think about his future became evident late last season when he spent the last six weeks or so in the majors and didn't get one start. That was a bit of a head scratcher.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Where would Lillibridge have ranked had he still been in Pirates system?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I had Lillibridge No. 4 on the original list behind Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Brad Lincoln

 Q:  mark from texas asks:
how close is Shelby Ford will he be able to develop the power needed is his D good enough
 A: 

John Perrotto: I like Shelby Ford. Though I don't think he is a lock to be an everyday second baseman in the majors, he shows enough potential in his bat and glove to make you think it could happen. He struggled at time in low A after making a pretty big jump from college last year and I think we'll find out more about him this season in his first full pro year.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
How close is it between Josh Sharpless and Matt Capps for the Pirates' future closer nod? Was Sharpless just as effective against left hand hitters as right in the minors?
 A: 

John Perrotto: The Pirates seem to feel Capps is their future closer and a bit ahead of Sharpless on the pecking order. However, Sharpless is also highly regarded and I could see him closing at the major-league level because he is able to get both left-handed and right-handed hitters outs.

 Q:  Joe from Alvin, TX asks:
What has the progress been on former Alvin JUCO right hander Eric Krebs, and where will he begin this season? thanks
 A: 

John Perrotto: Krebs pitched well after being promoted to WIlliamsport late last season. He is a ways off and not a top 30 guy at this point, but someone worth keeping an eye on.

 Q:  Jim from Edmond, OK asks:
Would Austin McClune make the Pirate top 20 prospect list? What kind of potential does he have.
 A: 

John Perrotto: McClune isn't a top 20 guy yet but he has plenty of talent. I'd like to see how he does this year in turning that talent into production.

 Q:  Raynor from Houston asks:
The Pirates like my pitchers. Could Justin Vaclavik become a potential set up man in Pittsburgh? Where do you see Lincoln beginning the year. Go cougs!
 A: 

John Perrotto: The jury is split on Vaclavik. Some people love him, others aren't as sold. I'm always wary of guys who are closers in the lower minors as most prospects are starting at that stage of their career to gain more experience.

 Q:  Tech Hecklers from Lubbock, TX asks:
Our favorite son Cameron Blair having struggled offensively the first 12 the season picked it up and hit over 300 the last month and half. Could this be a sign of things to come?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Blair is a scrappy guy who gets the most out of his ability. I wouldn't count him out, though he'll have to fight his way up the ladder.

 Q:  Pistol Pete from Stillwater, OK asks:
The Pirates selected a number of Oklahoma State players. Could you tell me there progress? Shelby Ford, Charles Benoit, and Matt Clarkson. thanks for taking my question.
 A: 

John Perrotto: We've touched on Ford. Benoit had a so-so debut at Williamsport last season, though I always like to see how a guy does in his first full year before forming a strong opinion. I saw him pitch in Williamsport late last season and he looked tired but you could see potential. Clarkson hit in the GCL last year but he was very old for the competition level. He is going to have hit better than he did at short season Williamsport to have a chance to become a prospect.

 Q:  John from Canada asks:
What can you tell me about David Davidson? Is he really that good to be on the 40 man roster, or was that more of a cautionary move to save him from the Rule 5 Draft? Thanks.
 A: 

John Perrotto: Davidson moved to the bullpen last year and his career took off. His breaking ball makes him tough coming on in relief, expecially against left-handers. Finally healthy after a string of injuries that included shoulder surgery, he most certainly would have been taken in the Rule 5 Draft and I could see him pitching in the major leagues at some point this season, perhaps sooner rather than later.

 Q:  Boris from Phoenix asks:
Can you compare Andrew McCutchen to a young Eric Davis?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Not yet. Davis also had great power and was bigger that McCutchen, who I happened to see at the Altoona hot stove dinner last Friday and was impressed about the 10 pounds of muscle he has added this winter.

 Q:  Boris from Phoenix asks:
Neil Walker's minor league stats since being drafted do not seem justify the beliefs that he is a top-tier offensive prospect. He has had some injuries which have contributed to his sub-stellar offensive output. Is Walker an overrated prospect in a weaker farm system, or is he truly a bonafide threat to be a top-hitting catcher in the major leagues on the line of current players like Mauer, Posada, Pudge, or even Varitek?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I still think Walker has a chance to be a very good player and I'll write off last year to recovering from wrist surgery. That being said, there comes a point where you have to turn potential into production and that is the case for Neil this year. He knows that and I know he has worked hard this winter to prepare for what is going to be a very important season in his career.

 Q:  Bob from Missouri City asks:
How has Wardell Starling progressed? Does he have a chance to contribute to the big league team within the next few years? He was so highly talked of coming out of high school and lately I have not heard much about him. Thanks
 A: 

John Perrotto: Starling quietly had the best season of his career, splitting time between high class A Lynchburg and Class AA Altoona. The only downside is that his strikeout rate dropped and he is going to have to find a way to miss more bats to make it to the big leagues.

 Q:  Tim from Proctorville, Ohio asks:
What is your take on Henry Cabrera? Starter? Reliever? Real potential or org guy?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I think Cabrera will be a reliever. My gut feeling is that he is an organiation guy but you never know with pitchers, so I wouldn't totally write him out.

 Q:  CK from On A Plane asks:
What's the temp like up around the three rivers these days? Off to Puerto Rico tomorrow for the Caribbean Series . . . 82 and sunny, dude. I'll tell Albaladejo you said what's up. Kline
 A: 

John Perrotto: Some guys have all the luck. LOL. I'll think of you when I go outside in the 15-degree weather to plow out my driveway with the snowblower after this chat.

 Q:  Jeremy Gonzales from Baytown, TX asks:
Kind of an offbeat question... When thrown millions out of college, such as the case with Brad Lincoln, can it stiffle their motivation in your opinion?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I think it depends on the individual but it's been my experience that most guys who get drafted, especially really high, have a great competitive makeup and take a lot of pride in trying to get to the major leagues and being the best player they can possibly be.

 Q:  Real Deal O'neil from Angleton, TX asks:
I can see leaving Justin Vaclavik out of the top 10, but out of the top 30? Come on now, why is this the case? He's been touted as the future Pirates set-up man.
 A: 

John Perrotto: Every year there are tough decisions to make and some good playes get off the list. Vaclavik is that guy and Shane Youman is another one. I would not be surprised if both of them have decent major-league careers and cause me to look foolish for not including them on the liast.

 Q:  James Hendrickson from Pirate Country, PA asks:
John, whats the overunder on seeing Lincoln in September with former college teammate Vaclavik coming in the 8th with his dirty slider?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I can't imagine either one of those guys getting to the majors until 2008.

 Q:  Andy from Sarver, PA asks:
Now with Lillebridge in the Atlanta system what will the Pirates have in middle infield prospects in their organization?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Brian Bixler is now the top middle-infield prospect and the Pirates still think enough of Javier Guzman that he remains on the 40-man roster. Lillibridge was clearly the best middle infielder they had but you do have to give up something to get something in a trade and the Pirates definitely needed a left-handed power hitter like Adam LaRoche.

 Q:  Andy from Sarver, PA asks:
What position in the batting order do you see McCutchen occupying when he gets to the majors?
 A: 

John Perrotto: That's part of the beauty of McCutchen. He could hit leadoff or No. 3. It's going to be a tough decison for the Pirates down the road but a decision to have to make.

 Q:  Nelson from Tacoma asks:
Where does Bradley Clapp rank with the Pirates? Is he anywhere on their radar screen?
 A: 

John Perrotto: The Pirates feel Clapp has a lot of potential but he struggled at short season Williamsport last season. I wouldn't count him out but he also needs to start performing at some point.

 Q:  Andy P from Sarver, PA asks:
Jason Quarles missed last year due to an injury? Has he regained prospect status?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Quarles is very intriguing. He throws hard and has a great breaking ball. He missed last season with shoulder surgery and has had control issues. He is very raw and a question mark health-wise, but he has as much raw ability as any pitcher in the system. He scores very high in the makeup category, which is a plus.

 Q:  Barry Brewster from LIGHTNING ROUND! asks:
True or False... Brad Lincoln will hit 5 jacks a year as a starting pitcher...
 A: 

John Perrotto: It would stand to reason, considering his amateur background, that Lincoln will be one of the better hitting pitchers in the majors once he gets there. That being said, five jacks is a lot in a season for a pitcher, regardless of his background. How about three?

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, Ohio asks:
What can you tell me about Bryan Bullington's rehab? Will he take the mound in 2007? Is he still in the Pirates plans or has he become an organizational guy?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Bullington started throwing off a mound last month and is now pain free. He hasn't pitched since September, 2005, so he'll almost certainly head back to Class AAA. He looks like an orgnaizational guy at this point and certainly hasn't lived up to the expectations of being the No. 1 overall draft pick. That being said, he is a great kid with great desire, so I wouldn't rule out him having some kind of big-league career.

 Q:  Ryan Euverman from Vancouver Washington asks:
Jeff Sues. Where is he and will he play this season?
 A: 

John Perrotto: He's finally ready to go spring training as a healthy player after two years of arm woes since being drafted. If all goes well in the spring, he should start off the year at low Class A Hickory.

 Q:  Slider from Portland Oregon asks:
Any indications which direction the Pirates are looking at with the 4th overall pick in the June draft. Scouts are drooling over the draft class and it seems there could be some "franchise" type guys available (Wieters, Price, Brackmam). Will the Pirates spend some of their excess money on the draft?
 A: 

John Perrotto: It's still early to tell what the Pirates might do but, as you mention, it looks like they should get a very good player picking at No. 4. Considering they were willing to take the major-league payroll to 50M this year (they won't get there barring an unexpected move between now and the start of the season), they have no excuses for not taking the best player available, regardless of his bonus price.

 Q:  Matt Drennan-Scace from Canada asks:
Thanks for taking the time to chat John. My questions will center around the Mike Gonzalez Adam LaRoche deal. Where does Romak fit into the Pirates top-30? Does Lillibridge present the Braves with a potential stop-gap SS while Andrus works his way up through the minors?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Romak gives the Pirates something they have in short supply in their system: A power hitter. The word on Romak is that he is quite raw but has outstnading power potential. The fact that he drew his share of walks last season in low Class A leads me to believe he is getting better and thus has a chance to eventually be a big-leaguer.

 Q:  Matt Drennan-Scace from Canada asks:
Is JVB finally healthy? Does he have a shot at the Pirates rotation to start the year, or will they be smart enough to give him the AAA seasoning he needs regardless of how he pitches in ST? If he doesn't make it as a starter (injury or lack of feel for starting), does he project as a potential closer?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Yes, Van Benschoten is finally healthy after missing all of 2005 and most of 2006 becuase of multipe shoulder operations. Van Benschoten says he feels terrific, except for a mild case of restless leg syndrome, showing that his wonderful sense of humor is still intact after a trying few years.

 Q:  Warren from Lewisburg, PA asks:
I'm surprised not to see Craig Stansberry in the top 30 in an organization as weak as this one. I don't think it's too hard to imagine him playing in the big leagues in the latter half of 2007. I know he didn't hit for much of an average in 2006, and he'll be 25 soon. Is there more to it than that?
 A: 

John Perrotto: The Padres claimed Stansberry off waivers in December when the Pirates dropped him to make room for Yoslan Herrera.

 Q:  Joe Kilty from Elon College, NC asks:
So when McCutchen is in the bigs will LaRoche & Bay still be there and if so, that's one of the better hitting lineups they have put together in some time, no? Tell me Littlefield has to be on the hotseat in '07?
 A: 

John Perrotto: If McCutchen makes it to the big leagues and hits the way everyone thinks he can, he would combine with Bay and LaRoche to give the Pirates their best middle of the order since you had the Outfield of Dreams (Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke) in 1990-91.

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
Are there still Marquis Grissom comparasions being thrown out there for McCutcheon; or has he raised the bar to where his career is expected to be better than Grissoms? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

John Perrotto: I hate to go overboard on a guy but I'm starting to think McCutchen might wind up being better than Marquis Grissom, who was pretty darn good.

 Q:  Matt from Minnesota asks:
What kind of upside does Jim Negrych possess and what's an ETA for him in Pittsburgh?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Negrych had a great career at Pitt but then tore a thumb ligament at short-season Class A Williamsport last season. Negrych isn't a great tools guy but all he does is hit. Guys like that always have a chance to overplay their tools and have a major-league career.

 Q:  Paranoid Pirate from PA asks:
Whats the latest on Brad Lincoln's injury? We know he was shut down late last season, as percautionary as much as anything... Also, is there a theme going with teams taking high on U. of Houston's closers? Crain, Wagner, and now Vaclavik are seeming to have success in pro ball.
 A: 

John Perrotto: Lincoln is said to be fine and expected to 100 percent for the start of spring training.

 Q:  Ryan from Vancouver asks:
Thanks for the chat. Any potential "breakout" candidates in the Pirate system this season. BA mentions Victor Igsema, is he legit? Anyone other little known prospects the Pirates are high on?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I think Igsema is my favorite sleeper. He has a whole lot of raw ability. I also wouldn't could out Vic Buttler eventually have some kind if major-league career, probably as a fourth outfielder, and the Pirates signed him back as a six-year free agent and invited him to spring training.

 Q:  Jerry from STL asks:
If Jamie Romak, whom the pirates acquired in the Laroche trade, were ranked in the pirates system instead of the braves system where would he fall. Is he a better outfield prospect than Corley?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I would say Romak would be around 15-18 if I had to redo the list. I still think Corley has more talent than Romak all the way around but Romak's power makes him very intriguing.

 Q:  Matt Drennan-Scace from Canada asks:
What is the ceiling for Brandon Holden if he can stay healthy -- #2 starter, solid middle-of-the-rotation guy, or fringy starter good reliever?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I know that scouts love Holden's curveball and I could see him as a solid NO. 3 starter in the majors.

 Q:  TJ from Lindy asks:
John, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. I see you have Bixler in the top 10. With Wilson at short and Castillo at second and Bixler close to 25 years old, what are his chances of being a regular Pirates infielder rather than a reserve? Think he might be traded?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Well, don't be so sure that Castillo is still the Pirates' long-term second baseman because he tested the patience of manager Jim Tracy and his staff last season. That being said, Freddy Sanchez would have first crack at moving to second base, meaning Bixler could eventually be trade bait.

 Q:  Tobias Funke from California asks:
Any thoughts on SS Dan Schwartzbauer? I know he was a big time sleeper when he won the GCL batting title a few years ago, however with lilibridge gone, what do you guys project for Schwartzbauer? Is he Jack Wilson redux?? Thanks and love the chats
 A: 

John Perrotto: Schwartzbauer is a great kid who is among the best defensive infielders in the system. I just don't know if he'll hit enough to make it to the bigs. That being said, the Pirates have had great success with late-round picks at least getting to the majors for a cup of coffee and Dan could follow suit.

 Q:  Gob Bluth from Nor Cal asks:
Is chad blackwell still a legit bullpen prospect? He was traded for a big league AS (redman) and from what I recall a front line college closer. Will he see time in the show this year at all? Thanks
 A: 

John Perrotto: I wouldn't write Blackwell off yet but he's 5-7 and guys like that always have to fight their way to the majors.

 Q:  Jason from Great Falls, MT asks:
What prospect moved into the Top 30 upon the trade of Lilibridge? Also, is Romak a legitimate prospect?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Romak would have moved inot the top 30 with Lillibridge gone. Nyjer Morgan wound up being NO. 31 on the original list.

 Q:  Tricky Kid from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Why does Redmond get no respect from BA (they even spelled his name wrong on the Top 10 List!!). I saw him pitch in August and he dominated Lake County. He finished in the Top 5 of nearly every pitching category in the SAL. With the weak system, he should be either #4 or #5, since he is younger than Herrara and has done it here. A number 3 starter is not shabby for a 39th rounder.
 A: 

John Perrotto: Au contraire. He gets respect from me. He's on the top 10, an impressive feat for a guy that always seems to be discounted by scouts because of his lack of "stuff."

 Q:  Al from Madison asks:
What so the Pirates think about James Boone and his potential?
 A: 

John Perrotto: They feel he has a chance to be a starting major-league outfielder with power and speed. However, he has yet to stay healthy and needs to start turning that potential into production.

 Q:  Alison from Pittsburgh asks:
The Nationals and Padres are regarded as the bottom 2 minor league systems, but the Pirates have to be close. Bottom 10? Where do you have them?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I'd have to say if not the bottom 10, the Pirates are close. Most of their prospects were brought up to the major leagues in the last year and a couple of poor drafts have left some holes in the organization.

 Q:  Jamie from Raleigh asks:
Thanks for your time...As a recent USC grad Steve Pearce was my favorite player to watch. He has heard all the 'too olds,' 'too smalls,' 'awkward swings' his entire professional career. The great thing is he continues to produce. He generates great power, has a wonderful eye to hit his pitch and can really dig the ball and field his position. Not to mention how versitile he is (backup catcher while at USC). Are you high on him? I noticed that he is not in the 2010 lineup. Do you think he is an MLB regular or more of a Craig Wilson type utility guy?
 A: 

John Perrotto: You definitely know all the knocks on Pearce. However, I love his production and that is why he is in the top 10. I see him more as a Craig Wilson role-type guy but you never know. His power is intriguing.

 Q:  Dan from Bridgeville, PA asks:
If McCutchen is the starting CF in 2008, could you see a scenario where Duffy moves to LF and Bay in RF? Duffy's speed would play well there. Where do you see McCutchen batting as a rookie?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Duffy really doesn't profile as a left fielder but if you have a power guy in center, you can probable go with that alignment, which would make perfect sense at PNC Park.

 Q:  Canio Costanzo from Wilkes Barre, PA asks:
John- Long time- no talk. Hope all is well in Pittsburgh. The changes to the front office of the Pirates- window dressing or real impact to the major league squad?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Hello, Canio. Great to hear from you. The changes in the Pirates' front office are window dressing. All of those who followed the organization closely knew that Bob Nutting was calling the jobs from the background and now it is official. For those who don't know, Canio was once the Hickory Crawdads' play-by-play man.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw, Georgia asks:
Is John Vanbenschoten done? Or can he be used at 1st Base.
 A: 

John Perrotto: I'd give him a shot at first base as a last resort, but he's not done as a pitcher yet.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
John, I'm not sure if Pirates prospect expert Wilbur Miller can be on this chat today, so just in case --- he wanted us to ask you about Jeff Sues. Is the 2005 #5 draft pick alive? Will he ever throw a professional pitch?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Mentioned Sues earlier. Sorry if Wilbur Miller missed the chat because he has an outstanding grasp of the organization.

 Q:  Bruce from Tucson, AZ asks:
Which prospects do you think will be in the Pirate starting lineup to start 2008 season? It would seem Lincoln, McCutchen and possibly Walker would be the only ones, but where does each start?
 A: 

John Perrotto: I would say McCutchen will be therein '08 for sure and Lincoln might be. We'll have to wait and see on Walker, especially on his position as third base now seems like a more real possibility after Ronny Paulino established himself as the major-league catcher last season.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Every year I ask the same question: what is wrong with the Pirates' Latin America operation? Do the Pirates have a single legitimate Latin prospect other than Herrera, who in my view doesn't really count since the Bucs didn't develop him, who will play in the States this year?
 A: 

John Perrotto: The Pirates' lack of success in Latin America speaks for itself. Their Latin America coordinator, Rene Gayo, is highly regarded and the Pirates really need him to start minding the fertile ground of Latin America to bolster their talent base.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
In 2006, the Pirates drafted several college players later in the draft- players like Scott Massey (24) and Tom Hagan (39). What would be the strategy behind such selections?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Sometimes you just take a shot at a guy and see if a late-rounder can develop into something. Other times, you take guys late just to fill a positional need for one of the short-season clubs.

 Q:  Jason from Great Falls, MT asks:
Is there a true power threat in the lower minors right now who could turn heads?
 A: 

John Perrotto: Not really.