Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Eddy

Toronto Blue Jays: 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, 2008.

Moderator: Let's get started.

 Q:  Jake from Bartlett, IL asks:
Hi Matt! Love the chat. No questions, just wanted to say what a pleasure it was to watch Snider int he MWL All-Star Game last year. He showed remarkable plate discipline in that game and an ability to hit his pitch when he gets it. Jake
 A: 

Matt Eddy: You're not alone. The remarkable thing about Snider is that, despite his lofty prospect status and fine production, people come away more impressed after watching him play. Just ask AFL pitchers.

Matt Eddy: Snider has a terrific hitting base, a simple swing, strength and a plan at the plate. He can pull the ball or line it into the left-field gap. And despite his thick lower half, he moves much better than people seem to realize.

 Q:  Nelson from Tacoma, WA asks:
Matt, with the success that Snider had in the MWL and AFL last year, at such a young age, does this bode well for him to possibly start this season in AA?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: It bodes very well for a midseason promotion to Double-A if he handles the Florida State League.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
I was curious about a player with the Gulf Coast team, Moises Sierra. His overall numbers weren't anything to write home about, but he did have five bombs, and he apparently has the strongest outfield arm in the system. Also, because I have a soft spot for first basemen, I was wondering if you had any impressions on Michael McDade and Kevin Denis-Fortier. Thanks!
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Sierra and Yohermyn Chavez got two of the highest international signing bonuses handed out by Toronto in 2005. Chavez has played the two seasons since in the U.S., while Sierra made his stateside debut in 2007.

Matt Eddy: Sierra has two attention-grabbing tools at present — raw power and plus-plus arm strength. Like a lot of young players, Sierra struggles with commanding the strike zone. If he makes enough progress there, not only will his average rise, but he'll be able to get to more of his power, too.

Matt Eddy: He'd probably be getting more attention if the Jays hadn't brought all their best young prospects to instructional league. Sierra got lost in the shuffle there, going up against, Snider, Arencibia, Ahrens, Jackson, Tolisano, Eiland and Chavez.

 Q:  gerry from Toronto asks:
Where would Graham Godfrey have ranked if he wasn't traded?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: We had Godfrey at No. 23 before he was traded. He made progress throwing his low-90s sinker for strikes by getting more extension, and his changeup also showed improvement. Without a reliable breaking ball, though, he profiles better in the bullpen.

 Q:  dave stieb from leftfield asks:
What happened to Balbino Feunmayer? Was he that much of a disappointment in 2007?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Short answer: Yes. Fuenmayor had about the worst year possible. He hit .174 and led the GCL with 68 strikeouts. Worse, he showed poor footwork and range at third, struggled to identify pitches and had trouble staying through the ball, which dampened his power to almost nil. He struggled even in batting practice to pull the ball.

Matt Eddy: The glass half-full: At 17, he was one of the league's youngest players. And after 2007, he's got nowhere to go but up.

 Q:  Matt from St. Louis asks:
Thanks for your time. I recently read that Eiland reminded some scouts of a young Carl Crawford. Beyond just the speed tool, do you see any merit to this? Thanks!
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Our draft preview stated that second-rounder Eric Eiland was the best athlete to come out of the Houston area since Carl Crawford. I think that's what you're referring to.

Matt Eddy: Developmentally speaking, Eiland is further behind where Crawford was when he was drafted. Eiland's speed and center-field defense are his best assets at present, but he has considerable potential with the bat, too. Recruited as both a baseball and football player, Eiland has bat speed and his swing has no glaring flaws, but the Jays are working with him to improve his power stroke.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
He's not a prospect on the list but do you think McGowan was for real last year? Will he slide back this year and how good does he project to be?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I can't resist a McGowan question. As you remember, McGowan ranked No. 1 on this list twice, the last time being 2006. Both times we noted that he has true front-of-the-rotation potential.

Matt Eddy: Well, he's turned that potential into results. As McGowan gained confidence in his fastball and slider, the strikeouts and groundouts piled up. Righthanders hit a hapless .198 against him, he improved his control dramatically and he held his velocity late into outings. What's not to like?

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
With Toronto taking some high schoolers the last two drafts, is the lack of familiarity of the Toronto minor league staff with coaching high schoolers a concern?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: This is an interesting question. Because they still shy away from high school pitchers and tend to take only advanced position players (they signed just two high schoolers after the second round last year), one would think they'll be fine. Justin Jackson and Eric Eiland will be fun to watch develop for this reason, but they should adapt because of their superior natural ability.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Hi Matt: Which ACC lefthander due you think will end up being the better pitcher: Brett Cecil or Daniel Moskos?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I know that Aaron Fitt, who compiled our New-York Penn list last year, did not hesitate to rank Cecil as the league's No. 1 prospect, despite the presence of Moskos, who went some 32 picks higher last June. Aaron covered both of them in college, too, so my money's on Cecil.

 Q:  Marc from Ontario asks:
Joel Collins had a nice debut, albeit in the Rookie League... Was his power for real or a case of a college player beating up on prep pitchers? What is his ceiling?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Despite Collins' loud .614 slugging average, the Jays hold his defensive tools in higher regard. He receives well, has an average arm and shows impressive raw power, but he's a poor athlete who doesn't project to hit for much average. Collins' makeup is outstanding, though, and he might make it as a backup.

Matt Eddy: So to answer your question, all evidence suggests Collins was beating up on young pitching. Like Adam Lind, he's a South Alabama product.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
What are the timetables and futures for both Kevin Ahrens and Eric Eiland? And where does Eiland fall on the list? Kinda surprised he wasn't on there - he's a pretty good athlete. Thanks.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Ahrens' upside is huge. It would surprise no one if he got off to a fast start with low Class A Lansing next year. But then again, the Midwest League offers the least favorable hitting environment in the minors, so his raw numbers may not impress. And because Ahrens is relatively new to batting lefty — and will be playing third base full-time for the first time — he may need many reps before he flourishes.

Matt Eddy: Rest assured that Eiland ranks in the top 15. You can check out the Prospect Handbook to see exactly where, and find out who ranked ahead of him.

 Q:  Marc from Ontario asks:
Of the Jays' latin pitchers... who is the most impressive: Wilfreddy Aguirre, Luis Perez or Joel Carreno? Can you please tell me what pitches each one of them throws? Thank you.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: You hit on two of the big ones. Perez and Carreno are two of the more intriguing lower-level players.

Matt Eddy: At 22, Perez was a little old for someone making his U.S. debut, but the lefthander did draw praise for his 90-93 mph fastball with late sink and an average changeup and curveball. He got in trouble when he tried to muscle the ball past batters, instead of letting his natual sink and movement work for him. Perez also struggled to hold his mechanics and low three-quarter arm slot, as evidenced by his 38 walks in 75 innings.

Matt Eddy: Carreno, a righthander, is more promising. Two years younger than Perez, he led the GCL with 64 strikeouts, employing an 89-93 mph sinker and a changeup that flashed plus potential. His sweeping slider needs a lot of work, and he tends to sling the ball when his mechanics get out of whack. Carreno is a fierce competitor, though, and someone who might emerge as a very good reliever.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
Will Jeroloman ever have the bat to be a regular catcher? Or is a backup catcher more likely?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: He's probably not the type of offensive player you'd want for a first-division club, but he has enough ability to make it as a backup catcher. An above-average receiver and game caller, Jeroloman excels at throwing because of consistently plus pop times, helping to make up for average arm strength.

Matt Eddy: Jeroloman's lefty bat and strong plate discipline (he led the FSL with a .421 on-base percentage) make him interesting, but he has no power or speed to speak of. His defensive ability will get him to the big leagues; his bat will determine his role.

 Q:  Adam from NYC asks:
Out of the 2007 Blue Jays HS draft class, who has the ability to move the quickest through the system? Ahrens, Tolisano, Jackson, or Eiland?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Tolisano, without question, has the potential to move the quickest. As he proved in the GCL last year, he's a strong hitter from the left side and has the best strike-zone command of the players you mentioned. The only thing that could slow him would be acclimating himself to second base. He played shortstop in high school, but he's staring at a lot of work cleaning up his footwork.

Matt Eddy: What's interesting is that the other three you mentioned all have higher ceilings. But for immediate returns, go with Tolisano.

 Q:  Eric from So Cal asks:
Hey Matt, Is it safe to assume that Cecil will be given every chance to succeed as a starter or would you say that he is on a very short leash and if he is unable to increase his stamina and continue to refine his curve and change he could be quickly moved back to the pen?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: He's a starter now. Injury is probably the only thing that could change that.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
I realize that he exhausted his eligibility very quickly, but assuming Adam Lind was still prospect-eligible, where would he rank? Right behind Snider?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I'd be inclined to slot Lind in at No. 4, behind Cecil and Ahrens. The natural hitting ability is still there, but the consistent approach he showed in the minors — particularly at Double-A — was lacking in the majors.

 Q:  Jon from SC asks:
The word on Tolisano (from you, BP, and Scout.com) is that he can hit probably for any position but cannot be a middle INF. Can you handicap his chances at staying at 2B?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: At this point, it's probably a 50-50 proposition. He's shown the drive to make himself the best hitter possible, so there's no reason to doubt he'll put in the necessary work.

 Q:  Dave H from Glenfield asks:
How would you rank Travis Snider, Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Initial reaction is Moustakas, Snider, Butler. But then Butler's done it at the major league level, so you can make a very compelling case for him at No. 2. Moustakas has the highest ceiling, regardless.

 Q:  Mike from Chicago asks:
You're telling me that Travis Snider - unless he keeps himself in PEAK physical condition as he ages (at 5'9 260 lbs - his TRUE height/weight - at only 19 yrs old) won't be too big and fat and heavy to maintain his numbers in the big leagues? No way can he play LF/RF at the 5'9 280 lbs he will end up being, and doubtfully maintain his offensive numbers.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: The results are in: We have our rant of the day.

Matt Eddy: You do realize that Prince Fielder is listed at 6-foot and 260 pounds, right?

 Q:  Jake from Adelaide, Australia asks:
Hi Matt. With the Jays resigning Matt Stairs and Reed Johnson along with having Frank Thomas at DH, what does this signal about how the Jays' view Adam Lind's development? Snider is not far behind and along with Wells and Rios does this make Lind trade-bait or just stuck at AAA for one more year (2009 : Lind (LF), Wells, Rios and Snider (DH))?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Good points, all. Stairs isn't going anywhere. But if Reed Johnson can get off to a fast start, maybe they can deal him. Rios is entering the phase of his career where Toronto will have to decide whether they want to lock him up. And his trade value would be among the highest of any of Toronto's big leaguers.

Matt Eddy: But you're right, Lind doesn't project to get a whole lot of playing time next season — especially in the first half. And if that's the case, Toronto will let him build experience in Syracuse.

 Q:  gerry from Toronto asks:
Brandon Magee slipped out of the top 10 this year. What did you hear about his 2007 season?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Magee fell into the second third of our top 30. Once he stopped overthrowing with Dunedin he began to dig out of his April hole (0-2, 9.56). He looks like a No. 5 starter or middle reliever, but he improved his extension out front in 2007, which improved the action on his 91-93 sinker. His above-average slider is still his go-to pitch, but now he prefers his cutter to his changeup.

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
Any thought to converting Sergio Santos to a pitcher?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Interesting thought. He doesn't have a history of pitching, like Matt Bush did. All the same, Santos wants to prove himself as a position player.

 Q:  Eli from Toronto asks:
Would you consider it possible that Robinson Diaz is better than Curtis Thigpen, and Yohermyn Chavez better than Ryan Patterson? Why were the former players edged out?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I would consider it possible, absolutely. Thigpen and Patterson get the nod here because they seem more certain to reach their ceilings. That's what we try to accomplish with our rankings, to stack players based on their ceilings, yes, but also on their likelihood of reaching them.

Matt Eddy: Toronto has shown a clear preference for Thigpen over Diaz, if only by the way they promoted him ahead of Diaz in 2005 and kept him there as the two moved up the ladder. They're similar, but Thigpen offers better command of the strike zone and more power potential. Diaz, though, stands to be the better thrower of the two.

Matt Eddy: Getting back on the field one month after having his forearm shattered by a pitch shows Patterson's toughness. His ceiling remains as a solid righthanded corner-outfield bat. He'll never make an all-star team, in all likelihood, but he's about to enter his physical prime, which the Jays probably will take advantage of in 2008 or 2009. Chavez is talented, but you can't judge him by his 2007 numbers. He actually moved down a level, from the Appy League to the GCL.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
All the initial reports on Balbino Fuenmayor appear to be pretty bleak; is he another Leance Soto in the making?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Interesting comp. For those who don't remember the third baseman, Soto received a $600,000 bonus in 2005 only to struggle in his U.S. debut that year . . . and he hasn't recovered. He's hit .185 as a pro, with 142 strikeouts in 105 games at Pulaski and Auburn.

 Q:  Mac from Ajax, Ont asks:
Did any of Adrian Martin, Reidier Gonzalez, Julio Pinto, Robert Ray, AJ Wideman or Michael MacDonald make the top 30?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: No, none of them made the top 30. You'll find many of them on the minor league depth chart, though.

 Q:  Tim from Portland asks:
I get that Ahrens has potential, but are the Chipper Jones comps really called for? Doesn't this just set the guy up to fail?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I tend to agree with you. But people who watched Ahrens as an amateur came to that assessment; not me or anyone else at BA.

 Q:  Landy from Chicago asks:
As far as the rest of the league is concerned, where do you rate the Jays system? After the top 3-4 it seems the system takes a dive. If Snider wasn't in the system, would the Jays have the worst system in MLB?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I don't know how they fare in the AL, but the Jays open the year with a talent ranking in the bottom third of all teams. But don't despair — big years by their 2007 draft class will push them toward the middle of the pack.

Matt Eddy: Without Snider, yes, they'd challenge the Astros and White Sox for baseball's worst. It may take a few years, but Toronto's 2007 draft was the first step toward rebuilding the farm.

 Q:  mike from toronto asks:
Toronto keeps trading away their young talent. kinda like the maple leafs (that's a hockey team for your hardcore basbeall fans). Does an all home grown team have any chance to compete with Boston, NY and soon TB? Or should JP keep up the old free agent signings and trading of younr infielders?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Not only is homegrown the best way for Toronto to go; it's the only way. They can't compete with Boston and New York on the big league free-agent market, but they certainly can on the amateur market — particularly in the draft. It's especially important for Toronto (and other mid-revenue clubs) to come up with homegrown arms, because the free-agent market for pitching is so volatile and cost inefficient.

Matt Eddy: Look around the Blue Jays' roster. All their best players were developed internally — from Halladay and McGowan to Wells, Rios and Hill. Burnett and Overbay are really the only exceptions.

 Q:  Michael from Knoxville, TN asks:
Sorry for yet another Snider question...but how do you compare him to Jay Bruce? I know that Bruce is and will be ranked higher, but I imagine much of that is a product of his production and experience in AA. Do they compare well as regards tools and makeup, at least?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: You have to go with Bruce because he's more athletic and has proven himself at higher levels.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
I know the Jays have a good number of young players in the majors, but am I justified in thinking this is a fairly putrid top 10 list? It's basically a bunch of 2007 draftees who've yet to do anything mixed with a bunch of marginal or former prospects ... and Travis Snider, who's legit. Is this system in trouble if the 2007 class sputters?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: It's a top 10 long on potential, short on result. But any list headed by Snider can't be called putrid.

Matt Eddy: Yes, the system is in trouble if the 2007 class sputters, but they'd be in even more trouble had they not gambled on at least a few high-ceiling players.

 Q:  John from Cincy asks:
Matt, thanks for the chat. Any asleeper pitchers in the lower levels that we should be keeping an eye out for?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: He's such a deep sleeper that they don't even have a word for how deep, but righthander Zach Dials turned his career around with his conversion to relief with Lansing last year.

Matt Eddy: A 28th-round pick from Kentucky in 2006, Dials' fastball and slider both played up a grade in the pen, as he now hits 92-95 mph with incredible sink and his slider touches 86 with late tilt.

Matt Eddy: Of course, Dials' results were poor last year, any way you slice it. He has much to prove.

 Q:  Carmi from Stanford asks:
At this point, who would be a good major league comp for Brett Cecil if everything breaks right?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I know it doesn't sound flattering given the current state of affairs, but Cecil bears at least a passing resemblance to Eric Milton.

Matt Eddy: They're both Maryland products for one, leading to natural comparisons, but it's more than that. At his best, Milton offered the same killer fastball-slider combo that Cecil relies on. If he can avoid the same injuries that befell Milton, Cecil has a chance to be as good as 1999 vintage Milton.

 Q:  Brad from Detroit asks:
Where would you put Kyle Ginley this season? Would a return to Low-A to start the year be beneficial to him before moving to Dunedin?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: With a full year of the MWL under his belt, Ginley is ready for Dunedin. Not many Toronto farmhands can match Ginley's arm strength, but he'll need to refine his curveball to increase his odds of making it as a starter. He's already 91-94 mph with good sink, and he developed a strong, high-80s cutter during 2007, but he needs to throw his curve and change more often as he moves up the ladder.

 Q:  Tim from Portland asks:
Not a rant (I promise!). I really am interested, though, in how useful a comp to Chipper Jones is for a young player like Kevin Ahrens. Is it an ultimate ceiling comp? A likely outcome comp? Just a physical similarity comp? Thanks!
 A: 

Matt Eddy: At this point, it's a profile comp. Both Ahrens and Jones were high school shortstops who switched off the position after turning pro. And of course you have the switch-hitting and the chance to hit for average and power.

Matt Eddy: But to be clear, there's a near-zero chance Ahrens will be as good as Chipper Jones. Historically, only a handful of third basemen have been.

 Q:  Brad from Warrensburg, MO asks:
Hey Matt thanks for the chat, What is the fastest way to get the prospect handbook? Can you buy it at a bookstore the same day you would receive it if you order it?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: The fastest way to get the Prospect Handbook is to order it directly from us. Go to BA.com and click Shop at the top of the page, or call 800-845-2726.

Matt Eddy: We expect the book to arrive here in North Carolina in the middle of next week, and we'll begin shipping them soon after that.

 Q:  Chad from Dallas asks:
Was Ricky Romero close to making the top 10? He was listed as a #3 starter last year, what caused the drop-off?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Romero dropped two spots to No. 5 this year. While he's no longer a safe bet as a No. 3 starter, it's still his ceiling.

Matt Eddy: Romero's command — especially of his fastball and curve — has been disappointing thus far, but he still has the best package of secondary pitches in the system. If he can get healthy and establish fastball command, he'll regain a ton of confidence, not to mention prospect status.

 Q:  Dan from Glastonbury asks:
Given J.P. Arencibia's defensive shortcomings, would the Jays be better served moving his plus power to 1B sooner rather than later?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: No. Arencibia's bat plays best at catcher, where he's a natural leader with a strong arm. That he's fluent in Spanish, too, only helps his cause.

 Q:  Ken from Cold Lake AB asks:
Matt , Thx for the chat , David Purcey had a decent AFL after coming back from sugery,yet rated 4 spots lower than Rickey Romero. Is this because of his control issues or does Romero have better stuff
 A: 

Matt Eddy: It's because Purcey has yet to put Double-A behind him, even three full seasons out of college. But based on pure stuff, Purcey would rank a notch ahead of Romero. Free of nagging elbow pain for 2008, it's time for Purcey to build on his AFL success.

 Q:  Andrew from Calgary asks:
Mark Rzepcynski also impressed from the port side at Auburn. What were your thoughts on him - I know Aaron had him as an honourable mention in the NYPL Top 20?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Rzepcynski touches 87-91 mph with sinking, boring action on his fastball. His mid-80s slider gives him a weapon to the other side of the plate, and his changeup is average more often than not. Rzepcynski's strong competitive makeup allows his stuff to play up further. He's got a future at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen.

 Q:  bobby from ca asks:
Do the Jays have any hope for Dustin Majewski?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Majewski was a minor league Rule 5 selection of the Rangers in December. He attended University of Texas, so it's a homecoming of sorts.

 Q:  Eli from Toronto asks:
Not a prospect question, but Marcum, Janssen, Litsch: are these guys for real? Their peripherals are all mediocre...are they more likely to stay this good, become average but useful, or become after-thoughts?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: You're being a little hard on Marcum. Though he struggles at times with home runs, he's got the type of competitiveness and command to pitch at the middle or end of a big league rotation.

 Q:  Shawn from Toronto asks:
What do you think of Seth Overbey? He had a great year in the minors last year? What type of career will he have?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Overbey may have a future as a situational righty, with his low sidearm delivery, 88-90 mph sinker and frisbee slider. His changeup needs a lot of work, so lefties very often get a very good look. But because he throws a lot of strikes and gives righthanded batters an awkward look, he may have a shot.

Moderator: That's all the questions I have time for. Thanks for stopping by.