Kansas City Royals: Top 10 Prospects Chat With J.J. Cooper

Kansas City Royals: 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, 2009.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Are there any pitching sleepers that could contribute in the ML bullpen this year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hi Ace. Dayton Moore has shown a knack for developing a bullpen, and also a knack for turning some of those relievers into trade bait, as we just saw with the Coco Crisp deal. That being said, the most likely minor league help for the bullpen are a pair of guys in the Top 10. Daniel Cortes and Carlos Rosa are both likely ready to help out in the pen if the Royals decided to move them there, but the question is whether to do that or continue to develop them as relievers. If you were looking for non-top 10 guys who could pitch in Kansas City next year, I'd throw Julio Pimentel out as the most likely, although he's still pretty raw. Sidearmer Chris Hayes had an awesome season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but there still is some healthy skepticism among scouts over whether his stuff will play in the big leagues.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
With Hosmer eventually looking to take his spot, what future will Ka'aihue have - is he eventually going to be relegated to DH?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: If the Royals have to decide down the road how to make do with two starting caliber first baseman between Hosmer and Ka'aihue that would be a good problem to have. For now, Ka'aihue has an uphill battle just to get a spot on the roster, and that's a shame, as he could likely provide some cheap power, and at the worst, better production that the Royals got from Ross Gload last year. If it came down to a first base log jam, Hosmer has the athleticism and the arm to play in the outfield, but that is a down the road problem. For now, the Royals have to figure out if Ka'aihue's 2008 season is an outlier or a sign he's figured everything out.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
How close was Hosmer to #1?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Very close. I asked several people inside and outside the organization their opinions and the consensus was for Moustakas. My personal reason for ranking Moustakas was that he plays a more valuable defensive position with a similar bat to Hosmer, and he has already succeeded in low Class A. If Hosmer had played well in low Class A this year and Moustakas was coming into 2009 having played just 3 games, I likely would have flopped the two. They were that close.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
I am excited that Mike Arbuckle joins the Royals staff. How does this impact the Royals draft philosophy?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Adding someone with the track record of Arbuckle would be a great addition for any organization. As far as how it impacts the Royals draft philosophy, I wouldn't expect it to change the type of players Kansas City drafts in any dramatic fashion, this isn't a case of bringing in an executive with a college or high school-only philosophy. But having someone like Arbuckle adding input will be a very valuable voice in the draft room.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Where does Tim Melville start the 2009 season? Is he advanced enough to begin in full season low A?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Melville in Burlington this year. The Royals often will hold pitchers back in extended for a month or so to let them avoid the worst of the April cold in Iowa, but with his polish and pedigree, I'd expect to see him pitching in the Midwest League for most of the year.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
What would you consider the strenths and weaknesses of the farm system?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The strength of this system to me is righthanded pitching. There are a ton of righthanders, especially at the lower levels of the farm system. Arms in general are the organization's bread-and-butter, which makes sense considering Dayton Moore's background. In a quest to find a center fielder, the Royals have also spent a large amount of picks on speedy outfielders, so center fielders are now a very deep position in the organization as well. None of the center fielders are sure bets, but with 7-8 CFs in the farm system with a chance, the Royals have plenty of opportunities to find one to step in when Coco Crisp departs. As far as weaknesses, there are very few impact bats in the upper levels of the system, and the system's best middle infielders and catchers are still years away.

 Q:  jeff from ocala, fl asks:
Derrick Robinson was a top 10 prospect last year...where does he fit this year? Did the royals system improve or did he take a step back? What do you see as Derrick's ceiing and when do you think he makes it to KC?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The system as a whole got better, which means that Robinson's ranking will likely take a step back. As a whole, the 2008 draft did a lot to add some high ceiling players to a system that can use them. As far as Robinson, he still has a ways to go. He's got a great attitude and willingness to work, but he needs to prove he's got the bat to be more than a potential No. 8 or No. 9 hitter. In an ideal world, Robinson's tools all click and he becomes a Kenny Lofton type player. That's a best-case ceiling, but he's yet to show sustained stretches that would lead you to believe that he's close to reaching that ceiling.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
If Hosmer's the #3 hitter of the future, does that make Moustakas the #4 or #5 hitter?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: That's a good way to put it. Hosmer would bat third with Moustakas hitting right behind him.

 Q:  Otto from DC asks:
Is it safe to say the Royals had the best overall draft this year? If not, who did?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's too early to declare who had the best 2008 draft. Heck, it's still to early to rank who had the best 2005 draft. But the Royals had the kind of draft they need. They spent money on multiple players, which allowed them to land three legitimate first-round talents, as well as several other players later in the draft who had top five round talent. Now they have to turn that raw talent into major leaguers, but it wouldn't be surprising if 3-4 years from now, the Royals '08 draft stands out as the club's best in years.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Slow stuff guy Rowdy Hardy didn't shine at AA last year. Is that as high as he gets in the organization?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Double-A does seem to be the stop where a lot of junkballers hit the end of the road. Stuff that dominates A-ball hitters often gets spit at by more advanced batters. Hardy will get another chance to prove he's the exception to the rule, and as a sidearmer, he might have a chance to become a relief specialist. A big thing will be for Hardy to get back a little fastball velocity he lost in 2008. While he never threw hard, his stuff went from soft to very soft, which took away his very slim margin for error.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Brad Correll and Paulo Orlando are two power guys, but are getting older. Any hope for further progress from either or do you think they have maxed out on their cielings?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Since I'm BA's indy guy, I have a soft spot for Brad Correll, but that being said, he's more of an org player than a prospect as a 27-year-old playing in Class A. He destroyed the California League in 2007 and that got him a spot back in indy ball to start the 2008 season, so hitting in Wilmington doesn't do anything for his big league hopes. The Royals are intrigued by Orlando's nice package of tools, and as a 23-year-old Brazilian, there's still hope that he has some development ahead of him. Orlando's raw tools are pretty special, but like several other Royals, he has a lot of refinement to go. He's a nice low-risk pickup for Kansas City who has a chance of panning out if the Royals can fix some of the holes in his swing.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Did Johnny Giovatella get much consideration for the top 10? How would you rate his defense and is he strictly a second baseman?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He was in consideration, although most of this Top 10 jumped out pretty quickly. This was probably the easiest Top 10 I've done as far as figuring out who made the cut and who was on the outside looking in. Giovatella's defense is OK at best, but his bat was his calling card, so the Royals knew that when they drafted him. That being said, I would expect him to stick at 2B, as he fits the profile much better there than he would as a corner OF or a 3B.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What are your thoughts on Juan Abreu? Do you think he could get picked in the Rule V draft?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He has a first-class arm, but as a injury-prone pitcher with some command issues who hasn't pitched about Class A, the Royals are taking a low-risk gamble that even if he is picked, he won't be able to stick on a big league roster all year.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Are there any impact catchers in the system. Do you think Catcher is a possible target at #12 in the draft this year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: There is some catching talent in the system, but it's years away from Kansas City. Salvador Perez and Juan Bonilla are a pair of interesting names, but neither of them has played in a full-season league yet. The Royals approach in recent years has been to go after the top talent available regardless of position, which explains why they would draft Mike Moustakas, a projected 3B, when they have Alex Gordon in the big leagues. I don't see any reason they would change that approach now.

 Q:  Scott from Kansas City asks:
Do you think the Royals have gone too Boras heavy the last 3 years, assuming that, if these three (Hochevar, Moustakas & Hosmer) ever live up to their full potential, that they won't even listen to offers (see: C. Beltran, J. Damon) to stay here beyond their rookie contracts?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: They've signed all three of them, so I don't see how picking Boras clients has come back to hurt them. There's no guarantee that the Royals would have any more success keeping their home-grown talent if they drafted non-Boras clients. I know it has to be frustrating for Royals fans to see several of the team's best players leave as free agency nears, but the club's problem in recent years is that it's had few impact talents who would attract big-money deals in free agency. If Hosmer and Moustakas end up being break-the-bank talents as they reach free agency, that would mean the Royals got six good years out of them at least.

 Q:  Scott from Kansas City asks:
Reading the scouting report on Kila, he sounds like the Hafner-lite. Yes or no?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Interesting comp. Hafner had to repeat low Class A before emerging as a 23-year old, while Ka'aihue repeated Double-A twice before emerging as a 24-year-old. Yeah, they're both big first basemen with excellent power and an ability to draw walks. Ka'aihue is better defensively than Hafner ever was, although he doesn't have as much power as Hafner. In Hafner's case, he had to be traded to a new organization to get a true shot at the big leagues. Even with multiple first basemen and DH's ahead of him in the Royals system, I do think Kila will get a shot with Kansas City, so that's one way it will likely be different.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
Any sleepers to be aware of in the lower levels of the system? Is Kyle Martin someone to keep an eye on?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Martin has emerged as a sleeper with a very good Hawaii Winter Baseball campaign. As far as other low-level sleepers that you can read more about in the Prospect Handbook, Kelvin Herrera and Carlos Fortuna could end up being two of the organization's better arms, while Salvador Perez is a catcher to keep an eye on.

 Q:  Scott from Kansas City asks:
Even though D. Moore has gone position player in the 1st round the last 2 years, the bulk of the depth in the system is on the mound. Do you see him continuing that trend this year, or do you project them going with a pitcher?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: While the Royals have drafted position players in the first round, they have added a lot of arms in the next couple of rounds. They took three arms in the top five rounds this year and three in the top five rounds last year. I think the Royals will go for the top talent available, but if you're looking for what they need, I think the system could use some more impact bats while the pitching talent is much deeper.

 Q:  Dave York from Pueblo West, CO asks:
Who has the best upside between speedy OFer - Derrick Robinson or Paulo Orlando? What about between Giavotella and Jeff Bianchi - KC's best two 2B prospects? Any chance that all 4 will play in AA for 09?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Orlando has a bigger upside than Robinson in that he has more tools that grade out as above-average, but that being said, the younger Robinson has a much higher likelihood of reaching his ceiling. I like Giavotella more than Bianchi, although I expect Bianchi will be the one of those four who will play in Double-A in '09.

 Q:  M.D. from Ashburn, VA asks:
Tyler Lumsden: Royals patience was truly tested and he was just pulled off of the 40 and designated for assignment. End of the road? Is there still a market for a young left hander that can touch 96? Good kid with a roller coaster track record. Yet, his numbers in Puerto Rico aren't looking that good. Thoughts?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's not the end of the road, but he's got a long drive from where he is now to success in the big leagues—think a couple of overnight stays and several tanks of gas. At this point it's hard to say it's a roller coaster track record, because he hasn't had enough ups to go with the downs. Lumsden has not demonstrated the command you need to succeed in the big leagues, and he's found that if you can't get ahead of Triple-A hitters, you're in for a lot of long nights. He has more walks (122) than strikeouts (118) in two seasons at Triple-A. At this point, it's probably time for a change in scenery to see if someone else can tap into his once-impressive potential.

 Q:  Jesse from Baltimore asks:
With Hosmer and Butler likely to occupy 1b and DH respectively, and Moustakas and Gordon battling at third, the CI positions are pretty well covered. Provided none of the above are traded/hurt, is it more likely that Moustakas or Gordon get moved off of third to the OF?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Moustakas could be a very solid right fielder in the big leagues if the Royals need him to move. For now, it makes sense to keep playing him at third base, a much tougher position, but he could slide to the outfield and likely make the transition with few problems. His cannon of an arm would play well out there.

 Q:  Freda from Lackawanna asks:
Why didn't a team with deep pockets like the Yankees draft Melville when they had the chance? Did his stock drop that much during the season? Wasn't he at one time considered the top high school starter available in the draft? If so, wasn't he worth the money his agent demanded? I guess we'll know a little more next season.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Can't really answer the thought process for the Yankees—they took a run at Gerrit Cole in the first round, so maybe they didn't want to run the risk of potentially not signing two of their top four picks. But for the Royals, this was an excellent gamble. Melville's stuff dropped off a little during his senior season, so maybe that scared some teams away, but he's shown top-notch stuff before and he was showing it again just before the draft. At $1.25 million, he was an expensive, but not absurdly expensive pick. It's hard to fault the Royals for spending $2.25 million to land him and Mike Montgomery.

 Q:  EBP from Toronto asks:
After watching Kila Ka'aihue in his brief stint in the majors and taking into account his unbelievable minor league number, I have a hard time justifying his #9 ranking. In truth, I am happy you are ranking him so low, since I will be able to steal him in my fantasy draft. My opinion: Kila will at least have Jack Cust success in the majors and reminds me a lot of Jim Thome.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's ranked No. 9 because you have to maintain some skepticism for a guy who took three years to figure out Double-A. He had some physical explanations for his struggles, but that still is a reason to worry. While he may remind you of Thome, do remember that Thome had a .998 career OPS in the minors, and was in the big leagues after a season and a half in the minors. Ka'aihue didn't slug over .500 in the minors until this, his seventh minor league season. I like Ka'aihue and think he'll be a productive big league with a high OBP and the power to hit some home runs, but it's hard to see him becoming Thome.

 Q:  Todd from Chattanooga asks:
With their solid draft in 08 could you see KC as a top 10 in the organizational rankings for 09?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Not this year, maybe a year from now. The lack of impact talent in the high minors and a lack of depth in the system after the top 10 will probably keep them out of the top 10 heading into next year. But if a significant number of the Melville, Hosmer, Montgomery, Lamb, Sample, Giavotella group impress in '09, I could see them making the top 10 a year from now, especially as very few of their prospects can be expected to graduate to the big leagues over the next year.

 Q:  Mike from Lynchbuurg, VA asks:
Hey J.J., thanks for the chat - where would you put Moustakas on your personal top 100 prospect list? Top 20 I'd suspect? Any higher? Does the question about his final position hurt him here?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Yeah he'd be in the top 20, and probably at the back end of the top 10. I don't see any reason to worry about where he'll play eventually. No one ever believed he'd be a shortstop in the big leagues, but he should be a fine fit at 3B. If he moves because of Gordon, that's not a big problem.

 Q:  Paul from Moscow, ID asks:
Last year Blake Wood was No. 4 on this list, and this season he is 10 and it looks like he has improved his stock. Is this an indicator of how much more premium talent has been brought into the system? Are they a top half system yet? Thanks.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I can't say he improved his stock significantly this year. The system is definitely better, but as you move up the ladder, results matter more and more. And in Woods' case he struggled significantly in his first exposure to Double-A. I would put it as Wood took a slight step back this year while the overall talent in the top 10 took a significant step forward.

 Q:  don from KC asks:
hey JJ- No joe dickerson on the list? does he have a chance to be the royals CF of the future?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The big question with Dickerson is where he plays. He's more of a corner outfielder than a center fielder, especially in an organization that values center field defense. And once you make him a corner outfielder, the question is does he hit enough to play everyday? For now, the consensus seems to be that he may end up as a very solid No. 4 outfielder.

 Q:  NOT Ace From Detroit, MI from asks:
Could I get your evaluation of Sam Runion? Thank you.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Good arm who has a long ways to go. The key to Runion will be whether he can develop his breaking ball. He showed flashes of a solid curveball in spring training, but it became slurvier and less effective when he went to low Class A Burlington. If he can develop his breaking ball and learn to believe in it, he still has a chance to be a very interesting righthander. The Royals knew he was pretty unpolished when they drafted him, so they are willing to be patient.

 Q:  George from Santa Barbara,Ca asks:
How do account for the slippage from last years list of Matt Mitchell (completely off) and Danny Duffy (down one spot) despite the great numbers that they both put up for Burlington? Both seemed to vitalize the pitching staff through the second half when the team really jelled.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Duffy moved down one spot because the Royals added three first round talents in this year's draft. Mitchell dropped off in part because he's just had Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2009 season.

 Q:  Jeff from Overland Park, Ks asks:
Two questions - (1) It seems that until Moore era, the Royals did not pay much for draft picks after the first round, so they missed out on quality. Has that changed - this year appears so. (2) What has happened to Royals middle infielders. Focus has been on pitching and hitting power. Who should we watch at 2B and SS coming up?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I think that was true several years ago, but in recent years they have been willing to spend money after the first round—Derrick Robinson didn't come cheap in the fourth round. While the jury is still out on the 2007 draft, the Royals did spend $100,000 or more on seven players in the seventh round and beyond, including $300,000 on sleeper prospect Keaton Hayenga. As far as your second question, it's definitely a position that is still a need. The triumverate of Chris McConnell, Jeff Bianchi and Kurt Mertins would be a very good second baseman or shortstop if you combined their strengths, but it's hard to project any of them as a big league starter at this point. The team's best middle infield talent was playing in Arizona, but Yowill Espinal and Geulin Beltre are many years from Kansas City.

 Q:  Steve Mac from KC, MO asks:
Who do you think they are really looking at to draft this summer? Who's their Top 3, if you will?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's way too early to start projecting a top three of anything for next year's draft. At this point last year, Tim Melville was a candidate to go 1-1, and the Royals ended up getting him in the fourth round. So whoever I projected to them right now would likely be way off. But the 2009 draft looks to be a pretty solid class, so there should be plenty of talent to pick from at No. 12.

 Q:  dave from boston asks:
Do you see Moore using Greinke, gordon and Butler as the core guys to build around ala Kazmir, Crawford, and upton? Is Butler as good as gone? If so, why?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: You left Soria out of that group, but yeah, what choice do the Royals have? You could make an argument that the Royals could get a pretty impressive haul by trading Greinke and Soria right now and building a team to contend in 2011-2012 when Moustakas and Hosmer have hopefully arrived (as well as some of the arms in the farm system), but it would be hard to sell the Royals fans on another rebuilding effort. I would hope for the Royals sake that Butler isn't gone. He'll play all next year at 23, so it's way too early to give up on him because of one bad year.

 Q:  Fuzzy from D.C. asks:
Speaking of sleepers, what's the general consensus about Jason Taylor? His batting average last year was poor, but he seemed to show a pretty good power/patience/speed combination. Considering that he was a 20 year old in his first full year of pro ball playing at the low A level, the Midwest League (Burlington in particular) isn't all that hitter friendly, and he was coming off an injury that kept him out for 2007, is there reason to be optimistic?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Taylor understandably has gotten a lot of attention because of his very intriguing season at Burlington. He has some patience at the plate, hits for some power and stole a bushel of bases. The power and the patience should stick around, but scouts worry that the steals will evaporate as he moves up. He's not a plus runner at all, so there's a worry that his steals were more a function of him getting a lot of green lights and taking advantage of inexperienced catchers, but that his steals will drop off as he climbs the ladder. One thing to note, he missed 2007 for disciplinary reasons, not because he was injured. There's reasons for optimism, but there are questions about his eventual position as well.

 Q:  Tony from Toronto asks:
With the appearence of a logjam at 1B/DH, what do the Royals do with Butler? What are your thoughts on what kind of hitter he will become? Thanks for the chat, and for taking my question.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Royals haven't asked for my advice, which is a pretty smart thing on their part, but here's how I see it. So the team has five players (Mike Jacobs, Ross Gload, Billy Butler, Ryan Shealy and Billy Butler) for two spots. I think the argument could be made that the team would have been better off not trading for Jacobs, but that's done now, so figure he's the first baseman. Give Butler the DH job and you've got your Opening Day starters If/when injuries occur, Kila Ka'aihue should get a shot as well. At this point, I'd rather see what Ka'aihue can do with those at-bats than Shealy. For a team that is likely several years away from a playoff berth, I'd rather spend those at-bats on young guys than give them to Gload, who will be 33 this year.

 Q:  Steve Mac from KC, MO asks:
Where do you see Moustakas starting the year? How about finishing the year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He'll start at high Class A Wilmington. A midseason jump to Double-A isn't out of the question, but that will be determined by how he performs. If he spends the entire year at high Class A he'd still be right on track for a late-season 2010 call-up.

 Q:  Steve Mac from KC, MO asks:
What does it tell us for somebody like Moustakas to lead his league in Home Runs last year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Teenagers very rarely lead the MWL in home runs, so that's a nice feather in his cap. The MWL is such a tough hitters league that it sometimes gets lost just how impressive Moustakas' season was, especially after a terrible first month.

 Q:  James from Hawaii asks:
Is the Royals trading for Jacobs and Crisp a sign that the club feels it can compete? Or is it more to delay the call-ups and playing time of their young players (Kila, Butler)so that when Hosmer, Moustakas, Montgomery, and Melville are ready their arbitation periods are delayed.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I guess it depends on your definition of compete. It's hard to see how Jacobs and Crisp make this a playoff team, but the Royals can't really sell tickets by saying "hey, we'll be better in 2011." So they make moves to try to improve the current club while continuing to add young talent. Jacobs and Crisp won't be the key factors if the Royals make a big leap forward in 2009, that would depend more on the pitching continuing to improve while Alex Gordon and Billy Butler start turning potential into production.

 Q:  Chuck from Wichita, KS asks:
Is there any hope left for Chris Lubanski?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Greetings Chuck, my wife is from Wichita, so I visit the aviation capital of the U.S. from time-to-time. At this point it's hard to project much out of Lubanski. He still has some tools, but he's now a corner OF who can't play center field and doesn't hit enough to be a productive big league corner OF. The Royals will continue to give him opportunities, but the number of struggling former first-round picks who figure it out in their seventh minor league season is a pretty small number.

 Q:  Jim from Maryland asks:
Do you have any opinions on these under-the-radar Royals' prospects: Keaton Hayenga, Bryan Casey, and Ivor Hodgson?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hayenga's one of my favorite Royals' sleepers. He's yet to throw a professional pitch because of a shoulder injury, but the 2007 draft pick should show in 2008 why K.C. spent $300,000 on him.

 Q:  Hayes from Washington DC asks:
What happened to Tyler Lumsden?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He just never enough command to have consistent success, so the Royals dropped him from their 40-man roster. Daniel Cortes' emergence as the find from the Mike MacDougal trade has been the key to making Lumsden's falloff a little easier to take.

 Q:  tom from iowa asks:
What can you tell us about David Lough. Was he near the top 10? He seemed to show some good pop for a speedy CF, especially in the 2nd half. Is KC high on him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Of all the Royals' center field prospects, Lough may have the highest ceiling. He hits for some power, runs well, and can handle CF, although the Royals glut of outfielders means he doesn't always get to play in center. But because he can hit for power, he may end up seeing more time as a right fielder in an organization that lacks corner OFs. The Royals are high on him, especially as a small school find, he's still pretty raw with the chance to add a lot more polish.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
What's the word on Tyler Sample? How high is his ceiling, and what does he have to do to reach it?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's a very high ceiling, one of the best on the organization, but he's very raw at this point. He has a fastball and feel for a breaking ball, which is a great starting point, but he has to smooth out his delivery and learn to repeat it.

 Q:  Dave from Pueblo West, CO asks:
Do you think that Melville, Montgomery and Sample will start the season at Burlington in Midwest League? The Class A depth of KC's starting pitchers is very strong for 09 with Herrera, Runion, B. Casey, Hodgson, Flanagan, and Fisher.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Royals' Burlington club (the low A version, not the Appy club) should have one of the deeper rotations around with Melville, Montgomery, maybe Sample, Herrera and take your pick for No. 5. With Hosmer there as well, it will be worthy of a pilgrimage for Royals fans who want to prospect watch. As an aside the high A Wilmington club could have four center fielders on the same roster, which should make the pitchers happy.

 Q:  Randy from San Diego asks:
Any updates on 5th rounder, John Lamb?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He hasn't pitched yet, but the Royals have reason to believe that they could have a nice steal in their fifth-round pick. Like many heady lefties, I've heard Tom Glavine tossed around as a comp. Now take that as you will, because I've heard Glavine comps on at least 100 lefties over the years, and I've yet to see any of them turn into another Tommy G. But Lamb is recovering well from his car accident and could be another excellent addition from the Royals '08 draft.

 Q:  John from Delaware asks:
What about the main starting pitchers from Wilmington last year? Mario Santiago, Matt Kniginyzky, and Everett Teaford all had solid years last year, what will happen to them next year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: None of those three made the Top 30. The arms that jumped out to me from Wilmington's '08 roster are Edward Cegarra, Henry Barrera, Wood, and to a lesser extent, Ben Swaggerty and Chris Nicoll.

 Q:  John Botelho from Rockland, MA asks:
Do you think taking Chris Lubanski over some more expensive options in 2003 such as Markakis and Billingsley caused the Royals to pay take the guys they wanted under Moore and sign high end guys like Hochevar and Hosmer, as well as pouring over 10 million and going over slot for guys like Melville
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Lubanski wasn't considered a massive reach at the time. The Royals weren't the only club who considered him a first-round talent. But the Royals have definitely made a more consistent effort in recent years to spend top dollar on the draft. It hasn't always worked out, but it is a wise way for a small-market club to compete—just ask the Rays.

 Q:  Brad from Warrensburg asks:
If Gordon turns into the player everyone thought he was going to be and entrenches himself at third, will Moustakas get a chance to catch? or will more players have to develop (or sign as free agents) to make the need for his bat less imediate or his hittings tools falter for the organization to make that move?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I feel very confident in saying that Moustakas will never catch. His bat is too special to move him behind the plate in the hope that 2-3 years down the road he'd figure it all out as a catcher. It's not that he couldn't do it—that would be a great fit for him in many ways, but you don't spend $4 million on a player, let him get through low Class A and then decide to make a major switch like that.

 Q:  Hayes from Washington DC asks:
Who is your favorite of the group of young, athletics CFers? Who would you say is most likely to make an impact at the big league level?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Personally I like Lough and Ortiz. Lough has a wide set of tools, where some of the other CF prospects are more one-dimensional. Ortiz is a more one-dimensional speed guy, but he's shown that he knows how to use his speed to get on base, at least when he swings the bat. He still needs to learn how to take more walks, but he's hit everywhere he's gone, and he's good defensively as well.

 Q:  Matt from Great falls asks:
What about patrick norris? Does he have any upside with other CF ahead of him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's facing an uphill battle in an organization that has a lot of speedy center fielders.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
What is the story on Blake Johnson? Does he ever have a chance to make it?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He has a chance, but his fastball dropped off in 2008. With no plus pitch and below-avg velocity, he has very little margin for error.

 Q:  Rod from Seattle asks:
I thought when KC picked up Callaspo, he was supposed to be their 2b after Grudzielanek was gone, but he wasn't in your projected line-up. How does he project?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He could still end up filling that role, but he seemed to be best suited for what he did last year—a valuable backup who can give the Royals good defense off the bench. Long-term Giavotella has a better bat, which is why he was on the 2012 lineup.

 Q:  keith from New Jersey asks:
How good could Danny Gutierrez be and do you see him being a good major league SP? Thanks
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: If it's possible to be a sleeper in a top 10, I'd nominate Gutierrez for the award. He has all the stuff to be a solid major league starter, even if a lot of prospect watchers are just starting to notice him.

Moderator: Thanks for all the questions, I've got to wrap this up so I can go podcast. Thanks for subscribing. John Manuel will stop by on Tuesday with the Twins Top 10 chat.