Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Prospects Chat With J.J. Cooper

Cincinnati Reds: 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.

oderator: J.J. Cooper will chat about the Reds farm system beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
In retrospect, do you think Homer Bailey was an overdraft?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone, thanks for all the questions and thank you for subscribing. Without you all, we couldn't do what we do. So to start things off, I'll of course talk about a prospect who's no longer technically a prospect. Maybe it's a weakness of mine, but I'm not willing to give up on a high school righthander who won't turn 23 until during the season. I've heard a couple of scouts say that high school righthanders often pay off for their second team, because their first team gets frustrated by their slow development. That may end up being the case with Bailey. He's frustrated people in the organization with his unwillingness to take instruction, and he's gotten worse, not better, over the last couple of years. But for all of that, the arm is still a special one, and I'd still expect to see him have a very productive big league career.

 Q:  Jay from Arizona asks:
Joey Votto or Yonder Alonso?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: How about both? I got to see Votto play outfield when he was at Triple-A Louisville, but more importantly, I've talked to scouts who liked him better out there than at first. He's not a great athlete, but he's not a butcher in left field, and he actually has a pretty good arm. When Alonso is ready for the big leagues, which likely will be in 2010, it's a possibility the Reds could find room for both of them.

 Q:  Brendan from Boulder, CO asks:
I know it's across systems, but Yorman Rodriguez has been said by some to have been the most toolsy international signing of the year, while Anthony Hewitt of the Phillies was said by some to be the toolsiest player in the draft. As two remarkably raw, talented young players with a LOT of developmental work in front of them, could you compare and contrast them a bit? If you had a choice between the two, who would you rather have?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Great question Brendan. I've never thought about comparing the two, and there are a lot of differences (high school shortstop vs. a Latin American outfielder), but I can see the similarities. My choice would be Rodriguez, because he's two years younger, which means he has more time to refine his tools, and he's a center fielder, which means his bat has a little less pressure on it than Hewitt, who will likely end up as a second or third baseman.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
If Lotzkar can stay healthy, what timetable do you see for him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Lotzkar will be on the slow track to the big leagues. As a Canadian who has battled some injuries, there's no reason to rush him. I'd expect him to spend this entire year in Class A, and wouldn't be surprised if he started next year in A ball as well. But if he can stay healthy, he has more upside than any other pitcher in the Reds system.

 Q:  Harry from Erie, PA asks:
What kind of future do you see for Clay Shunick? Did he make your top 30?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Schunick needs to bounce back after a disappointing pro debut. He didn't have the same stuff with the Reds as he had showed at N.C. State. The hope inside the organization is that he will bounce back after an offseason of rest, but he needs to show that he didn't leave his best stuff in college. Because of all that, he did not make the Top 30.

 Q:  it takes two from starksville, ms asks:
I see that the reds acquired a proven catcher but they have two in house younger prospects Hanigan and tatum but they are getting no love.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hannigan and Tatum are both on our radar. I'd expect to see Hannigan spend most of the season in the big leagues, while Tatum has a future as a big league backup as well. There's some question about whether Tatum's bat will be more than that, but no one questions his work behind the plate.

 Q:  Craig from Calgary, AB asks:
Did Travis Wood come close to cracking the top 10? Is his size a concern for his long term durability and does he end up pitching out of the pen because of it?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Wood didn't come close to the Top 10 this year. The concerns that were following him in Rookie ball and low Class A just haven't been answered yet. He's still somewhat frail and has trouble staying healthy and maintaining his stuff because of that. He has an excellent changeup, but as he's faced more advanced hitters, he's yet to consistently show that his fastball is good enough to keep hitters off balance. As far as a move to the pen, that's a definite possibility in the long run, but the Reds have shown little indication that they're ready to give up on him as a starter yet.

 Q:  DB from Princeton asks:
I was surprised Daryl Thompson did not make the list. His minor league numbers were impressive and he did get a cup of coffee with the Reds. Did he just miss the Top 10 and does he have a chance for the 2009 rotation?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Thompson just missed the Top 10, in fact I kept moving him in and out of the Top 10 as I did these rankings. He is part of a deep mix of pitchers battling for the fifth starter job or a spot "on the bench" in Triple-A Louisville. The concern that kept him off the Top 10 eventually was the fact that his stuff dropped off as the season went along. But at his best, he has legit major league stuff, and I'd expect to see him pitch in Cincinnati again at some point in 2009.

 Q:  young and wild from cleveland, ms asks:
What is the reds philosophy toward development i see their 10 ten is mostly position players and a young rhp pitcher with arm strength
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: If I had to peg the Reds draft and development philosophy, I'd say they emphasize acquiring talent up the middle—shortstops and center fielders—with the idea that you can always move some of them to the corners as they age and develop. The Reds top prospects are mainly hitters right now, but that comes a year after they produced Johnny Cueto and also added Edinson Volquez to the rotation, so they aren't in desperate need for starting pitching help. While the top prospects are hitters, there is some pitching depth in the system as there are a slew of pitchers projected to be in Double-A or Triple-A this year who will make the big leagues. Now many of them will be relievers or No. 4 or 5 starters, but they have plenty of options for close-to-big-league-ready arms.

 Q:  Dave from Northwest CT asks:
Given Mesoraco's place in the top ten, the Reds must feel he can develop as a ML starter, even though the BA Midwest League report painted a different picture. Do the Reds have an impact player or not?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: There's a lot of split opinions on Mesoraco. I talked to several MWL scouts and managers who were not impressed with his first full pro season, while the Reds are still very high on his long-term potential. My take is that there is a reason for healthy skepticism, but it's way too early to write off a high school catcher from Pennsylvania because of one bad season. Catchers take longer to develop usually because they have so much to worry about, and as a cold-weather kid, Mesoraco had even further to catch up because he has gotten less ABs than a California kid in middle school and high school. The Reds were impressed with his work at instructional league. I do think we'll have a much better handle on Mesoraco's long-term future after the 2009 season, but for now, I think it's wise to wait and see what happens.

 Q:  Dave from Northwest CT asks:
Sean Henry, Logan Parker, Shaun Cumberland — 09 sleepers? Henry seems like he makes consistent, hard contact but gets no mention in the 09 LF discussion. Why?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I don't see any of the three making a significant big league impact. That doesn't mean they won't as I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again, but I didn't talk to anyone outside of the organization who was blown away by any of the three. All three will also have trouble making the big league for the Reds because of competition inside the organization. Parker falls behind Votto and Alonso on the depth chart, while Henry and Cumberland are part of a crowded outfield situation that includes Stubbs, Chris Dickerson, Chris Heisey and potentially Neftali Soto and or Todd Frazier down the road.

 Q:  Brendan from Boulder, CO asks:
Is it safe to say this season represented a setback for Brandon Waring? he still seemed to show a fair amount of power, but his plate discipline is still sorely lacking. What does your Magic 8 Ball see in his future?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Well, it definitely represented a change of scenery as Waring was traded to the O's recently along with Justin Turner for Ramon Hernandez. He still has power, but in the Reds system, he was stuck behind a logjam of third basemen, including Juan Francisco, Neftali Soto and Todd Frazier. A trade to Baltimore will help give him a clearer potential path to the big leagues.

 Q:  Dave from Northwest CT asks:
Has Chris Valaika defied the odds and made himself a ML shortstop? With Bruce, Votto, Alonso, Frazier, Heisey, and Turner (before traded), are the Reds the Baseball Rat Organization of the Year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: That's been a point of emphasis every since Chris Buckley started running the draft. Cincinnati seems to take several baseball rats every year, and considering the success they've had with that route, I'd expect to see them keep doing it.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Thanks for the chat. How fast can Zach Stewart move through the organization as a reliever?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Fast, as we've already seen. As a polished reliever with nasty stuff, Stewart doesn't have a whole lot to work on in the minors, and if he keeps it up like he did last year in limited exposure, I wouldn't be shocked to seem as part of the team's big league pen in 2010.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Where do you expect Juan Carlos Sulbaran to start next year? What is his ceiling?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Sulbaran's not your average high school draftee. With his international exposure (including a pair of solid outings against Cuba) he has faced older hitters a lot more than your average teenager. It wouldn't surprise me to see him in low Class A this year, and if everything goes right, he could be contending for a spot in the Reds Top 10 next year with a good season. Pay no attention to what round he was drafted in, Sulbaran has the stuff to be a middle of the rotation guy.

 Q:  chris from dayton,oh asks:
Thanks for the chat JJ. Was surprised to see zack cozart not on this list after his big year at dayton. Is he the reds SS of the future with valaika moving to 2b?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Cozart is on the radar, but he's still a little ways away from being a Top 10 prospect. He was stuck in low Class A when really he was ready for high Class A because of the team's depth at shortstop. But because of that, you have to take a little perspective on his strong season offensively—as a former SEC shortstop playing in the Midwest League Cozart should hit. Cozart is the team's best defensive shortstop, and if he hits enough he will be the team's SS of the future, but there's still a decent likelihood that he could end up being a light-hitting big league utility infielder. As I said with Mesoraco, Cozart is another player who we'll know a lot more about when 2009 is over. Next year he could be in the Top 10, but there are a lot of people who still wonder about his bat, so he could also be at the tail end of next year's 30 with a poor season.

 Q:  john m from cincinnatti asks:
did robert manuel get any consideration for this list after winning the MILB pitcher of the year award? Do you think he has a chance of contributing in 2009? thanks
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Manuel's a fascinating guy, but he wasn't going to be close to the Top 10 as a one-pitch reliever. He's fearless with outstanding command, and somehow he keeps getting guys out with a pedestrian fastball. He could end up contributing to a big league bullpen, but I don't think it will be in 2009.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Is Carlos Fisher still on your radar in any capacity?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Definitely. He's one of the more promising relievers in the system, but that's becoming a more crowded group with Zach Stewart joining Josh Roenicke on the team's depth chart. Fisher is another reason the Reds should be very deep pitching-wise at Double-A and Triple-A this year.

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
What happened to Josh Ravin, he was a guy that was ssuppose to be a Top 10 prospect?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He can't find the strike zone, and until he does, it doesn't matter how hard he can throw. When he came out of high school, Ravin combined great stuff with erratic command. The stuff is still great at times, but the command had gone from erratic to awful. His 59 walks in 68 innings was positively Jason Neighborghall or Jacob Shumate territory.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
What do you see in store for Evan Hildenbrandt this season, and how good of a prospect is he?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hildenbrandt is an interesting sleeper. He has an advanced approach and a good sinker-slider combo, although his stuff is fringy. He's worth keeping an eye on, but he'll have to prove it at higher levels to be more than a fifth starter type.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Do you think the Reds will get Terrell Young back, and does he profile as a setup man down the line?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I think there's a very good chance they will be offered him back, as he's very raw for a potential big leaguer. He's got a big arm but that's still about it. He could end up sticking in the big leagues as a setup man, but I can think of at least four or five righthanders (Roenicke, Stewart, Fisher and Thompson just to name a few) in the Reds system who I believe have better chances of having lengthy big league careers.

 Q:  Greg from Cincinnati asks:
Homer Bailey, Daryl Thompson, Matt Maloney, Ramon Ramirez, Josh Roenicki none of these pitchers made the top 10 for the Reds this year. Bailey probably has had to many MLB starts to qualify as a prospect but can you explain and rank the quality of these Reds prospects and why they did not make the Reds top 10 this year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Bailey no longer qualifies, but the rest of them are all in the Prospect Handbook. Without giving too much of their scouting reports away, Roenicke didn't make it because it's easier to be a big league reliever than starter, which means it's harder to make the Top 10 as a reliever (a lot of failed minor league starters end up being very good big league relievers). Maloney and Ramirez' stuff doesn't profile as front-end of the rotation stuff while Thompson's inability to maintain his best stuff for the full season combined with his old shoulder injury led to him just missing the Top 10. But I do think all four will pitch in the big leagues at some point. That's not a huge limb I guess considering that Thompson and Ramirez already have, while Roenicke and Maloney will likely start the year in Triple-A.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Do you think that Todd Frazier can be a good enough hitter in a few years to hit cleanup between Votto and Bruce?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Not that good. I think Frazier will be a very solid big league hitter, but long-term Bruce should have a better bat, and I'd expect to see Alonso work into that lineup as well. An Alonso-Bruce-Votto-Frazier 3-through-6 in some order looks pretty impressive.

 Q:  Jon from Mobile asks:
Any chance Craig Tatum gets a shot in Cincy this year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Only if injuries crop up, I would expect. Hernandez is the starter while Hanigan is a solid option as a backup with good game-calling skills combined with a pretty decent bat. But if there is an injury, there's little doubt that Tatum could handle himself behind the plate at the big league level.

 Q:  Lou from New York asks:
Please rank Jordan Smith, Sam Lecure and Travis Wood as prospects. How do they project?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Smith is the clear No. 1 of those three for me, with Lecure edging Wood, but both are a ways behind Smith. Smith has the best stuff of the three, while Lecure and Wood are crafty pitchers with average at best stuff.

 Q:  Josh from California asks:
I noticed that Josh Roenicke didn't make the top ten cut. Is the system just deeper, or has he lost some luster?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The system is deeper than last year, although without the same impact talent in the top four. That's no knock on this year's list, but if the Reds were graduating prospects like Bruce, Votto, Cueto and Bailey every year, they'd be winning World Series left and right. Roenicke should contend for a spot in the big league bullpen at some point this year, and his arm is sure to get noticed again in spring training.

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
The Reds seem to have more prospects than most systems, how many actual prospects would you say the Reds have?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I would agree with you. When the discussion about our organization talent rankings was going on before we sent out the Prospect Handbook, I was in the minority in my view of where the Reds should rank. Because of their small number of potential all-stars in the Top 30, several guys in the office saw them as more of solid but middle of the pack organization. I thought they should rank higher because they have a large number of likely big leaguers in the top 30. What the Reds have is a large number of productive, if lower-ceiling, players who have had success in Double-A or higher. They don't have the all-star potential of some other teams' lists, but they do have a much higher likelihood of producing numerous big leaguers. Of the players who made the Reds Top 30, I'd expect that 10 to 15 of them will eventually play in the big leagues, which is a significantly higher number than most organizations. But it's also possible that only two or three of those 10 to 15 will be long-term big league regulars. It all depends on how you value depth versus impact talent.

 Q:  Joe from Ohio asks:
What is the Reds' most glaring organizational weakness?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: They don't have many lefthanders in the system with much upside. They are deep in righthanders, but Maloney is the system's best lefty.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Do you think the Willy Taveras signing is going to make Drew Stubbs trade bait? Who do you think will be the better player of the two in 2010?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I would think that Taveras' signing means very little for Stubbs' long-term future. By signing Taveras, the Reds have taken a flier on a short-term answer to their holes in the outfield, but I'd be shocked if he's a long-term starter for the Reds in center field. I'd rather have Stubbs in 2010.

 Q:  Brandon from Charleston, WV asks:
Is Kevin Youkilis a fair comparison for Todd Frazier?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Not really as I see it. Youkilis coming up was an on-base machine who was considered a less than impressive athlete. Frazier is thought to be a solid athlete with more power than Youk had with less OBP potential. I know Youkilis has turned into a very good player defensively, but at this point in his career he also had less defensive potential than Frazier—no one every though that Youkilis could play shortstop in the big leagues, while I've heard from scouts who think Frazier could do it.

 Q:  Hagan from Charleston, Illinois asks:
If Brandon Waring was still a Red, where would he be ranked in the Reds system? and where on the 3rd base depth chart?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He had just missed the Top 30 before the trade. He would have been behind Frazier, Soto and Francisco on the 3B depth chart.

 Q:  Jerry from Dayton, OH asks:
I see a number of foreign players with little or no experience in the top 10, realistically when can we expect to see any of this guys at The Great American Ballpark ?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: They are a long ways off, but yes Rodriguez and Juan Duran have solid shots of being Reds big leaguers. Obviously you're having to project a long ways with 16-year-olds who have yet to play in the States, but Rodriguez and Duran's tools compare favorably with anyone's in the organization.

 Q:  Rick from Dexter, MN asks:
Who do you feel has the highest ceiling of all the pitchers in the Reds farm system?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Lotzkar. He's the one starter in the organization who could be a front of the rotation starter if it all breaks right. If I was looking for the next highest ceiling, I'd pick out Jordan Smith.

 Q:  Sean McAndrews from London England asks:
If Bailey were still eligible where would he rank? What kind of ceiling do see for the other (more successful) graduate, Cueto?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I've thought about that, and the best answer I can come up with is somewhere between No. 5 and No. 7. He still has excellent stuff (at times) and he's still young. As you saw in Cueto's first start of the season, at his best, Cueto can dominate. I still think he's more likely a very solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter long-term, but with Volquez at the front of the rotation, the Reds don't need him to be any more than that.

 Q:  Dave from Northwest CT asks:
Of the young rookie level OF's, Wiley, Sappelt, Stovall, Oliveras, and Means, who has the best chance? How about the same question for C's Day, Coddington, McMurray, and Wideman?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd say Means and Wiley among the outfielders and Coddington among the catchers. Means and Wiley are both high ceiling, high risk guys, I'll be very interested to see what Means can do if he focuses on baseball full-time. A scout told me that Coddington has a chance to be a very good catch-and-throw guy although he has work to do at the plate.

 Q:  Dave from western mass asks:
Will Chris Heisey have a career in the majors? He appears to be solid in all phases of the game, and getting better each year.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'm a big Heisey fan. He does everything pretty well and has shown an aptitude for improvement. He probably profiles as a No. 4 outfielder in the big leagues, but he's also more likely than most to make the most of every opportunity. He's already proven to the Reds that he's a legit prospect, not just an organization guy.

 Q:  John from Ohio asks:
I want to know how you guys say that Frazier will have trouble at the next level with handiling inside pitches. Saw him take Cubs Prospect Jeff Samardziji into the parking lot in college on inside fastball as a freshman. Took a 95 mph heater from Phils top prospect Kyle Drabek in Hawaii this winter for a home run. Also everbody knocks him at short when hes 6-3 220 and very athletic and makes all the plays. Soft hands and an above average arm. Has the numbers to back it up with 10 errors in 140 games hes a true baseball player. Saw him play in cape cod next to Rays 3B Evan Longoria and Todd like just as good if not better. Also Had a game winning Home Run in Cuba for Team USA he is a proven winner where ever he goes. I really would like to know where you guys get your info from?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: There's no doubt that Frazier is a leader. Scouts and managers rave about his makeup and how he seems unfazed by anything. Where we get our info from is from scouts, managers and coaches inside and outside the organization. Unprompted several scouts have talked about his arm bar and how they wonder if that will cause problems for him at the big league level. But they usually follow that up by saying that Frazier has shown a knack for making adjustments, so they won't be surprised if he makes that adjustment as well if he starts to run into trouble. It's funny, but from your question you make it sound as if we don't think Frazier's a prospect. He ranked No. 2 on this list for a reason—we think he'll be a very solid big leaguer, but we also aren't publicity agents for players. We try to collect what we're hearing from people inside the game and tell you that, both the good and the bad.

 Q:  DaveB from DC asks:
How do hot shot 16 year olds usually do in the GCL? How should we judge Duran and Rodrigues'performance there next year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they're found to be over their head. I wouldn't hold a whole lot of stock in their stats next year. Don't panic if they hit .220, as both of them are years from the big leagues. They have a lot of learning to do between now and then.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Where do you see Soto playing down the road? If he can't stay at 3B, and seemingly will be blocked anyway if Frazier moves there, shouldn't the Reds try him at some other spots, especially to see if he can play the outfield. First base is out as well with Alonso being the future there. It would be a shame to have to get a rid of a bat that seems like it might prove to be something special. Where do you think Soto will end up?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I don't think Soto will stick at third base long term as there are questions about his athleticism and footwork. Long-term I think he'll end up as a corner outfielder, but since he'll be only 20 this year, there's no reason to worry too much about that yet. The position will work itself out, Soto just needs to keep on hitting to keep moving up.

 Q:  Brian from Atlanta asks:
J.J., I was shocked to see Yorman Rodriguez ranked so high. I had the opportunity to watch Yorman during instructs last fall and he looked absolutely lost at the plate...during bp! Yorman's hands were all over the place...he either popped the ball straight up into the netting or beat the ball into the ground. I am not sensationalizing when I say that not one ball made it out of the infield in the air. Admittedly, this was his second day of workouts at instructs, and probably his third or fourth day in the US...he looked absolutely terrified...but still. If I was being generous, I'd have rated his hit tool a 35...and I didn't see a lot of projection in his current swing...the body yes, but not the swing. As you pointed out, his defense and arm looked to be off the charts. Now Duran on the other hand...he was absolutely crushing the ball.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's definitely a projection pick. Rodriguez was definitely over his head at times during instructs, but as a 16-year-old who is facing adults, he should be over his head. If Rodriguez was a U.S. kid, he'd likely be getting ready for his junior year in high school, so it's OK that his bat is still raw. The projection with Rodriguez is that he has the tools to be an elite player, now he just needs to spend the next four to five years refining those tools.

 Q:  Ben from Denton asks:
With the prospect lists starting to come out, can you give me a few reasons why the Reds chose Alonso over Smoak?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: As the Reds saw it, one of the team's biggest needs was a middle of the order hitter who is as comfortable drawing a walk as hitting it out of the park. Votto is a high OBP guy, but he's really the only hitter in the lineup who is, as the team has a number of power hitters with high strikeout totals (and in Stubbs, Frazier and Francisco, more are on the way). Alonso patience (he drew 172 walks and struck out 103 times in college) combined with his ability to hit for average and power really stood out to Cincinnati.

 Q:  sportznut from Detroit asks:
With so many 3B specs, who is most likely to stick there and become a fixture for the Reds, assuming Edwin Encarnacion isn't there in the future?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Long-term, my bet would be on Frazier. He's got the best upside defensively of all the team's third base prospects and to go with that, he's also the closest to the majors, so if the team does move EE at some point, Frazier would likely settle in and stake his claim before Francisco or Soto ever have a chance to get there. Both Francisco and Soto carry questions over whether they can handle the position long-term, Frazier doesn't. Of course, Valaika could work into this mix as well if the Reds don't think he can handle SS and Phillips is blocking him at 2B.

 Q:  Sheetskout from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Is Juan Francisco's K/BB ratio all that's holding him back from being a top-100 type prospect? What do you project for him at AA in 2009?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Yes, Francisco's K-BB ratio (and his weight) are all that is holding him back from a Top 100 spot, but that's a very big blemish on his otherwise solid scouting report. We'll see if he can make improvements at the plate this year, if he doesn't start laying off some pitches, he'll be looking at a sub-.300 OBP this year.

 Q:  Patrick from Berkshire, NY asks:
I have seen the Reds minors leagues rated real low compared to other organizations lately. How do you see the Reds prospects rate as a group vs the rest of the majors?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: When you say lately, I assume you mean this year, as we had the Reds ranked No. 3 in baseball in last year's Prospect Handbook. They won't be there this year, but around the office there is a general agreement that they are an average farm system at worst, and I think they're a little better than that.

 Q:  Bryan Ramsey from Indianapolis asks:
Go Steelers. 8-) With all the 3B prospects in the system. I realize Frazier is #1, but how do you feel about the other 2-3 big ones and is is smart for them to keep Netfali Soto held back when he clearly is a bat that is advanced?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hey to a college buddy and fellow APBA league member. I wouldn't really agree that Soto has been held back. He got 220 ABs in low A as a second year high school kid out of Puerto Rico. With Francisco moving up to Double-A, there's still a spot for him to play 3B while moving up. If Soto's bat continues to impress at some point they may have to move him to another position if he's blocked at 3B, but for now, he's still not blocked.

 Q:  Bill from Texas asks:
Frazier or Valika?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Think I've got to answer Frazier, as I ranked him two spots ahead of Valaika.

 Q:  mike from houston asks:
whats the status of milton loo
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: No sign that he'll ever pick up a bat again. At this point the Reds have moved on and don't really expect to ever see him in a Reds uniform again. It's a shame as he had a ton of talent.

 Q:  Jesse Cook from Scottsdale, Az asks:
LHP Jeremy Horst had a great season at Dayton (8-2, 2.38 ERA, 5-0, 1.64 ERA as a starter). Where do you rank him as a starting pitcher in the Reds system? Where do you think he will start the 2009 season?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Horst may be best described as another Matt Maloney, and that's in a good way. He doesn't have a standout pitch, but he knows how to ptich and he stays ahead of hitters. He doesn't have a massive upside, but he's a useful starting pitching prospect. I'd expect to see him jump to high Class A to start the year.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
Hey, thanks for the chat. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but do you think that Stubbs and Mesoraco can be viewed as less than stellar decisions or do you think that many teams viewed them in the same way Cincy did at draft time? Also, do you think that signability was a factor for either draft pick?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: If you look back at the 2006 draft, there aren't a whole lot of guys taken just after Stubbs that standout as clearly better picks. Obviously Lincecum would have been a wiser choice, but of Rowell, Scherzer, Kiker, Colvin, Snider, Marrero, Jeffress, Antonelli, Drabek, Sinkeil and Parmelee—the next 12 picks after Stubbs—which ones would the Reds be better off with now than Stubbs? The 2006 draft just wasn't very deep, and Stubbs is a reflection of that. As far as Mesoraco, it all depends on how he responds to a poor 2008, but that pick has a higher potential of looking bad in the long run. As far as signability, I don't think that was a big factor in either case.

 Q:  Kerry from Chicago asks:
I just want to know if Jaypers in on payroll at Baseball America?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: No he's not, but we know that whenever we have a chat, Jaypers will likely post the first question. He's always there to throw out the first pitch. Wherever you are Jaypers we appreciate you for refreshing BA.com every minute every day to get your chat questions in.

 Q:  Joe from Cincy asks:
Some folks think that Naftali Soto is one of the Reds' top two or three prospects. Why did you rank him a bit lower?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Mainly it's because of reports that he likely won't be a 3B long term and he needs to improve his plate discipline. But he's still a very good prospect, and I could see an argument for him ranking anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8 on this list, as they're not a whole lot of separation between Drew Stubbs and Juan Francisco.

 Q:  Mudcatsfan from Raleigh, NC asks:
Now that i have to root for these guys, who can i look forward to next year. (......stupid Marlins moving to Jacksonville)
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Carolina should be loaded: Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey, Juan Francisco and Zach Stewart could all start the year in Double-A.

Moderator: Ok everyone thanks for coming out. We'll be back Monday with Will Lingo's Diamondbacks Top 10.