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.
Sorry, will be a minute late here, just wrapping up something with a scout.
@Jaypers413 (IL): How close to the top 10 was Domingo Santana, and what did evaluators have to say about his tools while playing in the CAL?
Hey everyone, thanks for coming. Good
place to start as any — Santana was in my first iteration of the Top
10. I just kept coming back to safer bets like Tropeano and Fontana
because of Santana's propensity to swing and miss, but he's about as
good as a No. 11 prospect as there is right now, and his Grade-Risk will
be pretty equal to those of Tropeano and Fontana. I believe pretty
strongly in those two as solid big leaguers; Santana has a higher reward
but is much higher risk. I just worry about his adjustments to breaking
balls and his overall hit tool. But I could have run him up the list as
high as No. 8 and defended it easily.
Ben (Leland Grove): How many of these guys are top 100 worthy to you?
Tough to tell without having all 30 top
30s available, but realistically, you're looking at the top 7 guys, down
to Cosart. It would be pretty hard to see Ruiz in the Top 100, and if
you think Cosart's just a reliever, that makes him borderline. Last
year, for example, Lance Lynn was in a similar spot, we thought he was a
reliever and barely snuck him into the back of the 100, at 97 or so.
But it's a very strong top 10 for me, and one of the deeper systems in
the game. That started last year with the trades and, as I recall saying
in last year's podcast on the NL Central, the Astros were confident
that improved depth would allow them to let players like Folty &
DeShields repeat levels and succeed, and that is exactly what happened.
Good year for the organization, other than of course in the major
Grant (NYC): Was Wojo anywhere near the top 10? Thoughts on his being able to handle AA after the trade?
As a fairly polished college pitcher, he
got to Double-A right on schedule. It's obviously better that he pitched
well there than that he didn't. Our reports are that his slider is not
the wipeout pitch that it was when he was an amateur. Still has a big
body and big fastball, those remain his best assets. But he used to
thrive off his slider as his strikeout pitch, and now that doesn't seem
to be his modus operandi. It's more of a cutter these days. See him as
more of a Bud Norris type to put it in the Astros vernacular — potential
starter but possibly more upside as a reliever. He wasn't strong in the
top 10 mix but he's more of a 15-20 fit.
Manny (New York): It might be early to ask this, but what BA grade would you give to Carlos Correa? Thanks!
It's going to be high. My first stab at it
the other day was 70-High. We try to take another look at them all in a
spreadsheet before the book goes out to make sure we're consistent as
possible with all 900 guys. Correa is playing in the Puerto Rican League
this winter, and I'm starting to think he's got a shot at playing for
Puerto Rico in the WBC. I don't see that there are 27 better guys. That
would be a fun reason to watch the WBC.
Kyle (Houston): How convinced are you that Singleton's future role won't be as a DH?
Very well could be; that's a good point.
He's not exactly nimble around the bag, and as I noted in the writeup,
he made careless errors this year. But DH obviously involves more than
being bad at defense, or else Prince Fielder would have been a DH some
this year. How many true DHs are there, aside from Big Papi? Even Adam
Dunn played 50 games or so in the field this year. So Singleton probably
is going to play a lot of 1B in his career; it would behoove him to get
@Jaypers413 (IL): To your knowledge, were the Astros ever planning to draft Mark Appel this year, or was Correa always their guy?
I do not have hard info on the Appel part
of that; I would have to check again with Jim Callis on that one. To our
understanding the Astros were calling other players than Correa and
offering them approximately what Correa got, and our best information is
that Byron Buxton was the other player in their mix.
Pierre (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada): Do you think the Astros will choose Austin Meadows or a college pitcher with their # 1 pick in June 2013?
Pretty early for that, but certainly this
year's draft gives some indication that the organization doesn't just
view this as one pick. It's a continuum, it's an entire draft and the
complete bonus pool that is considered. I'm aware Meadows is one of the
top HS players; just in my one look in Chicago, fellow Georgia prep
outfiedler Clint Frazier was better, more electric than Meadows. At this
time last year, we were not thinking Correa would be in the No. 1
overall mix. So don't get too ahead of yourself.
Jerry (Houston, Texas): Is Bobby Borchering still a legit prospect?
As long as he can hit, he's a prospect.
He's a potential future DH but also a guy who needs to control the
strike zone a bit better now that he's out of the Cal League.
Simon Peters (San Antonio, Texas): Domingo Santana's numbers are great. Why isn't he part of the top 10?
Just about everyone has great numbers at
Lancaster. You can make the Santana argument on tools a lot better than
you can on numbers.
Joey (Whitby, Ontario): Is the Astros farm system part of the top 5 now?
It is probably around 4-7 for me. Off the
top of my head, the best ones are St. Louis, Seattle, Texas, with
Arizona in that mix as well. Miami, Pittsburgh and San Diego also seem
similar to Houston. To me, that's a good group of eight, I would guess
those are the top systems.
Brian (Vancouver): True or False? Nolan Fontana is Jeff Keppinger.
False. He's a better defender, not a power guy, just false.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): John, thanks for the chat. Drew Muren breezed through A-,A+, and AA last season - what's not to like?
I thought I read that wrong at first and
realized no, you were talking about the CS Northridge guy. He's kind of
an interesting sleeper. Physical tools are there, but he just turned 24
and barely got to Double-A. Plus he's never really hit for much power;
not many 6-foot-6 guys without power hanging around the big leagues. But
he did play well when he played this year. Wasn't really thinking of
him as a Top 30 guy, more of a depth chart guy. Would have made it in
past years with that season but the system is much deeper now.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): J. Meyer and J. Mier - who is the higher ranked guy now that we have some past performances to judge them on?
Mier over Meyer. Not sure Jonathan Meyer
can be a prospect anymore. Jio Mier, on the other hand, was having a
bounce-back year before he got hurt. Sounds like he'd addressed some
issues in his swing and that seemed to play out in the AFL. Jio will
still be in the 30; I don't even know that I've ever ranked Meyer, this
is my third year doing the list and I don't think he's made it yet.
Greg (Ohio): How are Adrian Houser, Jack Armstrong Jr developing?
Armstrong had Tommy John surgery. I
thought that was one of the lesser picks of the Bobby Heck era, not just
taking him in the third round but going over slot for him. I'm not a
big fan of the dudes whose track record rests on one summer in the Cape
Cod League. Adrian Houser is coming along slowly but surely. He is still
adjusting to the shorter time between starts in pro ball in terms of
having his velocity and quality of stuff being consistent from outing to
outing. Next year will be big for him, he should make the jump to
Greg (Ohio): in hindsight was Jarred Cosart the best choice in that Philly trade?
Compared to the other players they got? I
would say it was Singleton, then Cosart, then Santana. Still a good
haul, even if none of them has reached the majors yet. Still should be
four ex-Phils in top dozen with Jonathan Villar, from a previous deal,
also ranking high.
Robert (Corpus Christi): Is there any
possibility that relievers Josh Zeid and Jason Stoffel, both
unprotected, could be selected in the rule V draft? Stoffel had 20+
saves and Zeid, who throws up to 97 with a better than 1SO per inning,
both appear to have some qualities that may interest some teams.
Sure, maybe. Neither one of them stands
out. Zeid may have touched 97 here or there, but that's not where he
pitches; he's come along though and threw the ball well for Team Israel
in the WBC as well. Stoffel knows what he's doing, knows how to get the
27th out, knack for closing and all that. But his stuff is short for
that role in MLB. I don't see either one being a strong consideration,
there are other guys with bigger arms or better secondary stuff
Dave (Atlanta): The return from the Michael
Bourn trade looks weak with Juan Abreu and Jordan Schafer out of the
organization and shaky performaces from Brett Oberholtzer and Paul
Clemens. Who's the better choice for a rebound in 2013: Clemens or
Clemens has the better arm; I liked him a
lot last year. Of course after ranking him I got some pretty heinous
reports on his makeup from his amateur career. As Adam Sandler once
said, information that would have been useful YESTERDAY . . . Anyway,
everyone likes the arm, but he didn't make things easy on himself last
year. I would take Oberholtzer, but he's more of a JA Happ, back of the
rotation type, as we wrote last year.
Greg (Ohio): Whats the projection on Brady Rodgers and his system best control?
The report on him as an amateur was that
he was a poor man's Mike Leake. That's probably not fair because Leake
is a different cat, but the point is Rodgers is a command over stuff
kind of guy. The projection is back of the rotation if it all works out.
Might not be the second-best pitcher out of this draft class (assuming
McCullers is first); reports on fellow Pac-12 righty Aaron West of
Washington were very strong after signing. I would look for both to join
Adrian Houser in the low Class A rotation next season, and it's
possible one of those guys — likely Rodgers — would skip ahead to the
Jean-Yves Hebert (Montreal): Where did Jonathan
Villar fit in, 11-15? With Correa the obvious SS and Fontana ahead on
the depth chart, is Villar no longer a prospect to start at the MLB
level, is there a prognosis on him and his career? He seemed to have a
decent mix of speed and pop to this point.
Still think he's a guy, he's in the 11-15
range, but yes, he's getting pushed now, and as I mentioned earlier, Jio
Mier is a factor as well. Nice org depth chart at short thought. I
would anticipate Villar to start the year at Triple-A, with Mier at
Double-A, Fontana at high A (or possibly those could be reversed, with
Fontana at AA, Mier at hiA), and Correa at low A. That's an enviable
group of talent at shortstop for any organization, I would think.
Chip Hoffman (Towanda, Pa.): Is Rio Ruiz truly
the pretty bat he is reputationed to have? Will he display true power
or moderate power with high average? The comparison given was Eric
Chavez, not bad but in the end a moderate 3B. Does Rio's glove not play
or was the 2016 projections just fitting pieces together?
Chip, your memory's a bit short, I
suppose. An Eric Chavez peak is pretty excellent, not "not bad" or a
"moderate 3b." That was a 4- or 5-hole hitter on a championship team.
That's a lofty comparison. From 2000-2007, Chavez won six Gold Gloves
and averaged 28 homers a year while playing in Oakland. Not sure anyone
would call that "moderate." The Astros feel very strongly about Ruiz,
and I've talked to scouts who thought the same about him outside the
organization. He's got to go do it, but there's athleticism and a
third-base profile there to get excited about. He's the best 3b prospect
in the system.
Kyle (Chicago): Where do Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering fit in the organization's future in your mind?
I mentioned Borchering before; Krauss
wasn't protected on the 40-man roster, which I thought was a bit
surprising. The Astros are a bad American League team right now and
could use a cheap DH, but apparently they thought they had better
choices there than Krauss. I think Krauss is one of the bigger names
available for the Rule 5, but there has to be a team that sees him as a
DH or 1B or I suppose LF option that has fewer options than Houston does
at those spots. Defense holds him back from being an easy Rule 5 pick,
but being exposed to the Rule 5 is a pretty obvious sign that the Astros
are not counting on him.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): John, a good day to
you, and thank you for the chat. I think it's safe to say you and I
share a certain #cheeseball-meter-on-high likeness for McCullers, so on a
personal level, what do you think happens with him over the next
several years? Pen or starter, and to what level?
I do enjoy the McCullers family, and I
still have a pic of me with Lance Sr. on the wall here at BA World HQ.
Lance Sr. was a horse for me in fantasy a generation ago ... anyway,
Lance Jr. impressed a lot of jaded scouts in Florida this spring with
the progress he made. That's a significant factor in thinking he can
start long-term. He had never done it prior to his senior year in high
school. He always had relieved after playing a position, or just
pitched shorter stints in showcases in the past. This spring, he showed
he could pitch, he could pace himself, maintain his stuff's very high
quality, at the amateur level and again at the pro level. He still has a
ways to go, Joe, but I'm optimistic for him at this early stage. If I
had to bet, I'd bet on him starting, but it's like 55-45. Still a very
close call. Always easier to bet on a guy relieving though.
Aladeen (Tampa FL): Is Andrew Aplin a top 30 prospect to you?
Going to be tough to fit in some of the
other draft guys and all the trade guys; there are only 30 spots and the
organization is deep. I like Aplin but he doesn't appear to have the
profile as a regular. That's fine if you're good at everything else, and
he is — runs fine, defends very well, makes contact, draws some walks,
steals some bases. He's a good extra outfielder down the line. Not sure
that gets him in the top 30 at this time, but it would in other
organizations. He's one of the 900 best prospects in the minors, even if
that doesn't get him into the Handbook.
Grant (NYC): What's the word on Tyler Heineman? Thanks, John.
Similar to Aplin, only less offensive
potential and more defensive value as a catcher. Gonna have to see him
impact the baseball once he gets to full-season ball though.
Dan (Andover): Is Jose Cisnero a SP or RP in your opinion? Top 30 guy?
Still has a chance to start and is a
pretty interesting guy. Glad we ranked him last year despite the 6 ERA,
which I guess tells you about the limitations of ERA and the offensive
nature of Lancaster. He's closer to the 11-15 range than being out of
the 30, that's for sure. He has a live arm, but it's hard to see guys
with that fringy control as starters. That's the most important piece
for him, because his fastball has good velocity and excellent life at
Ben (Leland Grove): Did the Astros draft someone special in Brett Phillips? Thought on his game?
Liked Phillips quite a bit before the
draft; selfishly wanted him to come to college because we could have
seen him locally here at N.C. State. Also a tough call for the Top 30
but does have a chance to be an impact guy, a potential top of the
lineup guy with his speed and bat ability. Still some rawness there, was
never a full-time baseball guy in high school, but I think it is fair
to get excited about him, because it sounds like he can hit.
Joel (KCK): What separates Correia from former
#1 pick Tim Beckham? I remember reading all of the same things about
Beckham before he was drafted. Another thing that scares me is the fact
that not one product of this Puerto Rico academy has ever graduated to
the majors. Can you put my fears to rest? Thanks!
Well, the PR Baseball Academy has about an
eight-year track record, so give it a little time, first of all. Second
of all, those are good points on Tim Beckham. We did say some of the
same things about him. Correa is a bit different physically, but I guess
the main thing I will say that Beckham wasn't as athletic after signing
as he was before. I don't know that we've ever had it explained to us,
but I'm sure the Rays projected him to get a bit better physically when
they drafted him. Instead, every report we got early on Beckham in his
first full pro season was that he wasn't standing out athletically.
We'll see if the same thing happens with Correa, but I can't tell you
that it won't. No one saw it coming with Beckham, not that I know of. So
that's a fair complaint or worry. That said, most prep shortstops of
that ilk turn out better than Beckham. The Upton brothers did; Manny
Machado has. Just took a few minutes to look up prep shortstops drafted
that high, and the guys that haven't worked out either were built very
differently (Matt Bush, Chris Nelson, Lou Montanez) or are Beckham. So I
hope for your sake and the Astros he's better than Tim Beckham. As I've
said, I still like Beckham, just not as a star.
Fred (Illinois): What do you expect for Robbie Grossman in 2013?
Good sign for the farm system that
Grossman is a 13-20 type rather than a top 10 guy. He doesn't really
have a good fit, but I bet he's a regular in Houston sooner than later. I
just see him as a second-division regular. I would look for him to
start the year in Triple-A but wouldn't be shocked if he held down left
field in Houston for the second half of 2013. He has some polish,
obviously works counts, has some athleticism. He just doesn't have a big
plus tool that makes you think he'll be a regular.
Joel (KCK): Is Drew Stubbs a good comp for
George Springer? Seems as though Springer has a lot of trouble making
consistent contact, but at the same time, he oozes tools. Is a 20-20
season with a sub .250 average in the cards for his future in the show?
No sir. Different kinds of players
physically and in terms of their tools. For me, Stubbs' defining
characteristic is his near-80 defense in CF, and that does not describe
Springer, so there has to be a better comp, some other toolsy OF that
strikes out a lot. I think of Rickie Weeks more for Springer when it
comes to their swings and physicality, and offensive production could be
along the same lines. Obviously that comp is flawed by Weeks' repeated
attempts to play 2b but Rickie had three straight OPS+ years of 120 or
so at his peak; I can see Springer doing that. He'll be a bit better
offensive player, I believe, than what you're thinking.
Joel (KCK): Is Singleton as the #1 1B prospect
in the minors a product of a lack of good 1B prospects at the moment, or
is it simply because most good prospects haven't been relegated to 1B
this early in their careers? Or is he just that good? Thanks?
A little of all of that. Many good young
1Bs have moved on to the majors the last two years, such as Rizzo,
Grandal, Hosmer, Mark Trumbo (who admittedly we had soured on), Belt,
Goldschmidt, Freeman, Ike Davis ... that's a lot of young 1Bs. I'm sure I
left someone out; still, you can see my point, the talent at the
position is at an ebb after flowing very well in recent years. But
Singleton, to me, fits right in with that group. He may not wind up an
elite 1B but I don't think it's out of the question for him to have some
.900-plus OPS years with 25-30 home runs at his peak. He should be a
first-division regular; I think he'll fall short of being elite.
Nick (Cary, NC): What can you tell me about
Aaron West? I know his stats in the NYP league don't mean too much, but
he appears to have 3 quality pitches and good command. Thanks!
Sounds like you read your draft report
card! Yes, he bumped 95 twice when the Astros saw him against Stanford
(they weren't there to see West, they were watching Appel), and he has
thrown a lot of strikes, a good sign for a guy who already has had Tommy
John surgery. He has the fastball command, body and arm action to make
the Astros think he can be a starter. The secondary pitches are average,
the fastball is plus and he repeats his delivery. Might make the 30;
more than likely he will not because the system is deep. Three years
ago, the first year I did the 30, that would have put him in the top 10!
LL Towers (Cyberspace): Correa, Lindor, Baez,
Bogaerts, Hanson !! All listed as shortstops. Rank them in order .
And are all 5 in the top 20 overall ?
I do not believe all are top 20 overall
but all top 50 for sure. Hanson I believe will be more 30-50 type, and
Lindor is tough to rank with the others considering how much more
offensive they appear to be. Baez goes first for me of that group,
closely followed by Bogaerts, and I could see it the other way. Then I'd
go Correa, Lindor and Hanson, with Hanson having the least chance to
stay at short.
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): Hey John, thanks for
the chat. Which of the prospects obtained in the midseason trade from
the Blue Jays are the Astros most excited about? I noticed that none of
them made your top 10 list.
Asher Woj and Joe Musgrave, though Musgrave didn't do much after the trade. The Astros liked him a lot as an amateur though.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): John, having done
both lists - and just being kind of awesome - I can think of no one
better to ask: Buxton was regarded by many as the top talent in this
year's draft, and of course Correa came away the top pick - who do you
like more right now?
I took this question to mean that Buxton
and Correa are awesome, not me, because they are. It was exciting to
write about both players so close together because they are so
intriguing. In some ways, Correa sounds too good to be true. That said,
so does Buxton. There's more projection involved on Correa because he's a
tall infielder, and I think some scouts have a hard time getting past
that and automatically slide him to third. But if he can play short ... I
think I'd have to take him over Buxton. I know the consensus was
Buxton, but I think I'd take Correa as an infielder. Both are awesome or
special or however you want to describe them. I gave them the same
grade for the Handbook.
Not Jaypers (Wisconsin): John, any chance the Astros hold back Correa, Ruiz, Mccullers until the weather gets warmer in the Midwest League?
I don't think so. You have to play in the cold in the major leagues, you know.
John (Long Island): What player outside the top 10 could you see making the 2016 lineup.
I could see Santana in there; I could see
Vincent Velasquez in there in a future rotation. He's not far off the
top 10, surprised no one asked about him, kind of a forgotten man. I
could even see Ross Seaton as a back of the rotation guy, he had his
best year, consolidated some gains, got some confidence, good to see for
a guy who has really had it tough in pro ball from a results
standpoint. Grossman like I said could be in the actual 2013 lineup,
forget fanciful 2016 lineup. It's a deep system.
Noah (Cincinnati): Hi John.. My Dad represents
Bobby Doran. He led the Astros with innings and tied Folty with wins..
After being an All-Star in tough Cal League, and great success in last 5
starts in AA, Bobby is looking like AA rotation. I know the Astros
like him! Where did he fit in your top 25? He WAS a 4th rounder for a
reason. He was hurt in 2011. It was great to see him do good this
year. Thanks, Noah
Noah, your dad has made his opinion on
Doran well-known. I will take the question because Doran did have a nice
season and has a chance to be in the 30 as well. I mentioned Seaton in
the last answer, let's compare Doran and Seaton. Seaton is a bit
younger; he has a proven track record of durability. Doran has a bigger
fastball; neither has a plus secondary pitch, but Doran has a plus
fastball in terms of velo. Seaton locates it better. I think the more
successful MLB career will come down to timing and luck between the two
of them; they are quite similar. To me they are six in one, half dozen
the other. (Tell that to the captain's mother . . .)
Greg (Ohio): What kept Preston Tucker out of top 10?
Lack of a defensive home,
strength-oriented swing isn't the prettiest or smoothest. I like Preston
Tucker, though not as much as Aaron Fitt has. He is a nice depth piece
but in a system this deep, I don't see him in the 30. Not a great fit
defensively, he's a 5-foot-11 1B who does his best as an outfielder, but
he's a below-average right fielder. Good power, though, could make some
other Top 30s.
John (Detroit): Any pitching sleepers in short season and rookie leagues we should be tracking?
Try Michael Feliz, a big-bodied
18-year-old Dominican whose fastball touched 97 in the GCL. They had
some other power arms on that GCL team in the upper 90s, and apparently
Jandel Gustave hit 100, but most of the other big arms didn't have any
feel for pitching. Feliz pitches a little and showed some ability to
spin a breaking ball, so that sets him apart from guys like Gustave and
Pat (Cincinnati, OH): How about OF Ovando?
Might be more like 1B Ovando according to our reports. All will depend on the bat with him.
Richard (San Diego): I didn't see a catcher in the TOP 10 do the Astros have any Catching Prospects in the system that can move into the Top 10?
Not really a true two-way offense-defense
catcher in the system right now. Just not a strong point of an otherwise
impressive farm system.
Bruce (Montreal, Canada): A few years ago, the
Royals' were perceived as a team of the future because of their great
farm system. With another good draft, do you think the Astros will be
considered a "team of the future"?
Good way to end ... I think they could be a
year away from that, yes. It is the Astros' misfortune to pick No. 1
overall in back to back years with no Strasburg, no Harper, at least not
an obvious guy. But Correa sounds special. Lance McCullers could be.
The system has depth. It has pitchers and hitters, shortstops,
outfielders, corner bats ... everything but catchers really. I'm sure
the LHP depth could be better. The organization was headed in the right
direction at this time last year; I liked the top 10 last year. Jeff
Luhnow & his crew have accelerated that process, I believe, made it
more efficient. Between the size of the market and the size of the
pending TV deal, plus the talent in the system, I think the Astros are
definitely on the way up. I don't think the system has quite the talent
the Royals had a couple of years ago, but I trust the Astros to surround
that talent better and to develop the pitching better than was the case
in KC. Should be fun to watch.
Two hours is going to have to do it. We're
going to go from a deep system in Houston to a thinner one with the
Angels on Wednesday, when Ben Badler comes through the chat room. Thanks
for the questions, enjoy.