Baseball America
The page you are looking for does not exist or has moved

Sorry, the page you're looking for is either like Sidd Finch and does not exist, or like Josh Hamilton and has moved. Where would you like to go instead?

BaseballAmerica.com Home

The latest news from our top sections:

Majors, Minors, Stats, Draft, College, High School, International or Viewpoint

Braves Chat with Bill Ballew

Bill Ballew: All right, Seasons Greetings! (No, A's fans, I didn't say Seasons Beatings). Are you ready, kids? Well, let's get this mission of mercy started, shall we?

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what will the pitching rotation look like at A myrtle beach?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Well, Dave, it'll look a lot like the Rome's rotation from last year. Look for Chuck James, Bryan Digby, Jake Stevens, Charlie Morton and Gonzalo Lopez. One could jump to Double-A, but the Braves rarely do that between low A and Double-A.

 Q:  Ken from Alexandria, VA asks:
No prospect publication has ever ranked Francouer ahead of Marte. What made you guys be the first to do so?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: It wasn't any performance enhancing drugs, at least none that I know of. Anyway, they're both tremendous prospects, but Francoeur's body looks better for the long haul than the way Marte's has filled out of late. Marte is a stud, but Francoeur has the total package to reach levels few players ever see.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
will jeff franceour start 2005 at AA Jackson or AAA Richmond?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: I see him at Double-A Mississippi after he failed to walk once in just 76 at-bats at Double-A Greenville last year.

 Q:  Ken from Alexandria, VA asks:
What are the odds that Francouer and Kyle Davies will break camp as the Braves starting RF and #5 starter?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: I can't see Francoeur in Atlanta on Opening Day, regardless of what some people might think. And now that the Braves appear to have the rotation locked down with Smoltz, Hudson, Thomson, Hampton and Ramirez, I don't see Davies in Atlanta to open the campaign, either.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Happy Holidays Bill! What is the ETA for Francouer? Do you think his plate discipline problems will keep him from reaching his true potential? If not, what kind of numbers do you eventually expect from him? Thanks!
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Thanks, and Happy Holidays to you, too, Browning, especially since you don't appear to be related to our pal, Denny Neagle. I see Francoeur getting his first taste of the big leagues in September and his first shot at a starting job, beginning at some point in mid-2006. Plate discipline is his biggest need, but it's not going to be a long-term issue, in my opinion. Experience will improve that. I see him as a .280-.290 hitter with middle of the lineup power numbers.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what direction will the braves go with there 1st round and 2 supplemental 1st round in the 2005 draft?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Too early to tell, Dave, but you can bet there will be a pitcher involved, as always.

 Q:  Brighid from Washington, DC asks:
What current major leaguer does Francouer most closely resemble?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Hmmmm, Ruben Rivera, no, Al Martin, no...how about Jim Edmonds. But he really reminds me of former Brave Dale Murphy, especially with his character, all-around abilities, etc.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Is Gregor Blanco toast? Do you see Adam Laroche as the long-term solution at first base; I know he's already in the majors, but I'm curious as to how he's perceived around the league. Thanks.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: No, I'd say Blanco is more like scrambled eggs. He has a lot of ability, but he's still got a ways to go to put everything together and become a true major league prospect. His strikeouts are particularly high. He still has a future, but things need to start coming together a little quicker. As for LaRoche, I think he can be a long-term solution. I see a lot of similarities between Adam and J.T. Snow, which is a major compliment, in my book.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Hi Bill. How do Holt and Campbell stack up againist former Braves draft picks says Francouer and Langerhans?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: They're all different players. Langerhans is kind of a poor man's Francoeur, but they both do a lot of things very well. Holt is a converted OFer trying to discover the nuances of second base. If he does it defensively, he can be a top-of-the-order dynamo. Campbell is a shortstop soon to be third baseman and potential corner outfielder, a la Kelly Johnson.

 Q:  John from jackson Ms asks:
Where would Meyer and Capallan have ranked on the braves list had they not been traded. Also looking forward to the Double A team here. Who are some sleepers I should watch for
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Both were top 5 material. Capellan was around 3, Meyer right behind him. While Francoeur and McCann are among the everyday players expected to arrive in Mississippi, I'd be real excited about shortstop Luis Hernandez. The Braves sincerely believe he is the best pure shortstop prospect in the minor leagues.

 Q:  William from Virginia asks:
Their has been some speculation that Andy Marte will be moved to the OF as long as Chipper Jones continues to play 3rd base. Do you think Marte is physically capable of being a solid outfielder?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: He could be a serviceable left fielder (after all, Ryan Klesko has played the position, and he runs better than Marte). Marte has a thick lower body and he has never shown more than fringy average speed. I see him remaining at third this year at Richmond until the Braves need to make a decision.

 Q:  David from Savannah asks:
Andy Marte: just how high is his offensive ceiling? Rolen-like, or Adrian Beltre (circa 2004)? Also, does he have a shot pushing Chipper back into the OF and starting at 3B on Opening Day?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: I don't see Marte opening the 2005 season in Atlanta. He's getting close, but the Braves are adamant about not putting too much pressure on young players. If Chipper continues to play the hot corner the way he did in the last half of 2004, he's not going to be moving anywhere in the near future.

 Q:  Jeff from San Francisco asks:
Where would Dan Meyer have ranked in the Braves system if he was not dealt? And what are your thoughts on the trade?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Meyer was a top 5 guy. I am a big Dan Meyer fan, but there are only so many Tim Hudsons in the big leagues. I feel the Braves will benefit greatly from the deal in 2005 and could really cash in if Time Warner can pony up a few nickels for a contract extension.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Bill. Where would Jose Capellan and Dan Meyer have rated? I also noticed that Betemit is still listed under the best tools section can he still be an everyday player?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Betemit's future does not appear to be as an everyday player in Atlanta. The Braves did not tender Mark DeRosa a contract because they see Betemit filling his roster spot in 2005. That will not be as a starter unless Chipper or Furcal are felled by injuries or other problems, such as those at 4 a.m. on Atlanta's interstates.

 Q:  David from Savannah asks:
Is Brian McCann the future at catcher? Can he hit enough for 1B?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Yeah, I think he can hit enough for first base, but McCann can rake for a catcher. Barring an unforeseen roadblock, he's the future behind the plate.

 Q:  Kris Arthur from Downers Grove, IL asks:
Who do you like for long-term growth better and why... Andy Marte or David Wright? Thanks
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Man, Kris, that's a virtual English lit question there. I love David Wright. He and Marte are very similar, but I think Wright is a little more of a natural third baseman, especially with his ability to charge slow rollers. I would not be a bit surprised if those two are long-time studs at the game's top level.

 Q:  Greg from Maine asks:
Who is the best pitcher out of the following: Luis Atilano, Joseph Reyes, Paul Bacot.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Right now it would be Bacot because he's more polished. Atilano is the hardest thrower of the three. Reyes is starting to figure things out.

 Q:  Gary from Austin, TX asks:
When a highly prized pitching prospect is included in a trade for a proven pitcher, what does that say about an organization's evaluation of that prospect's future?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: If you're the team acquiring the proven pitcher, it says, "We got a proven pitcher for a minor leaguer, and we need some help today." If you're the acquiring team, it says, "I hope this guy fills the bill at some point and doesn't make us look like the second coming of Scrooge."

 Q:  Mike from Manassas VA asks:
Where would Dan Meyer rank on the Braves list?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: top five, with serious consideration for the top 3

 Q:  Greg Pirkl from Seattle, WA asks:
I'm a huge fan of Francoeur and was wondering if you think he will ever develop into a good on-base % kind of player? Is he open to learning and changing his game? I know his profile said the Braves don't want him to change his approach right now.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Jeff is very coachable and very driven to be the best player he can possibly be. His OBP will definitely improve with experience. That's just part of his learning curve.

 Q:  randy from atlanta asks:
do mccann and stevens have your vote for the top 100 also you say scouts drool over stevens projection but yet you say his ceiling is only a number 2 ...also can mccann hit 30 hr and bat 280 in the show..thanks alot merry christmas
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Hi, Randy, and Merry Christmas to you, too. Don't get too hung up with saying Stevens is a number 2 starter. There aren't many true No. 2's in the big leagues, and Stevens has that potential. Time will tell, but McCann could be a .280-30-90 if catching doesn't take too big a toll on his body. McCann would be a top 100 guy for me, with Stevens getting serious consideration.

 Q:  Raymond from Little Neck, NY asks:
Hi Bill ! Happy holidays. Thanks for your terrific Braves coverage year-round in BA. The top 10 list now only has 3 pitchers due to many trades There is one pitcher from 2003-Jake Stevens Have you heard any good reports on lower level pitchers from the 2002 and 2003 draft who had good seasons on paper-Steve Russell, Matt Harrison, Chris Vines or Paul Bacot thanks again
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Thanks for the kind words, Raymond. No wonder everybody loves you! The Braves feel good about all of the pitchers you mentioned, headed by Stevens, of course. Harrison could come quickly, for he has made spectacular progress of late. Those names, along with the likes of Atilano, Reyes and others gives the Braves extreme pitching depth, even with the recent trades.

 Q:  George from Athens, GA asks:
After trading away Capellan and Meyer, what kind of shape is Atlanta's minor league system in now, especially from a pitching stand point?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: It's not as strong, especially in the upper reaches, but it remains the envy of most other organizations. Both Mississippi and Myrtle Beach could have awesome rotations, from one through five, this year.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
What is it about Kyle Davies that made Schuerholz refuse to include him in a trade? He didn't seem to balk at including Meyer in a trade. Do you agree with dealing Meyer and hanging on to Davies?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Davies is a warrior with a nasty repertoire. When he is at the top of his game, he can be unbeatable. After making some adjustments in his mechanics two years ago, Davies has taken off. He could contribute in Atlanta this year if someone goes down in the rotation.

 Q:  Aaron from The Island asks:
hello Bill, what kind of power does Jeff Francouer possess? And who will be hitting more bombs in the bigs, Francouer or Marte?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Hi, Aaron. If you're from the big island in the big blue, is it true that Christmas trees are going for $200 a pop? Just wondering. Anyway, my crystal ball tells me that both Francoeur and Marte have the ability to hit 30ish homers on an annual basis, provided they don't unknowingly take something that would increase that output.

 Q:  Tony Farlow from Asheville, NC asks:
Let me commend you on your column about J.C. Holt in the latest issue and I just want to say the photography that acompanies it is fantastic. With all the pitching prospects the Braves have given up in the last couple of weeks where do you think pitching stands in the minor leagues for the Braves over the next couple of season and what do you see happening in left and right field for the Braves.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: You're too kind, Senor Farlow. I said earlier that the Braves remain one of the deepest organizations in terms of pitching in the minor leagues. As for the outfield situation, I see them splitting time in left between a guy like Ryan Langerhans and a low-cost free agent. Right field could be a more veteran guy, inked to a two-year deal while keeping the seat warm for Francoeur. One guy I think the Braves should sign is Dustan Mohr. I don't know what wacky weed the Giants were smoking yesterday when they didn't tender Mohr a contract, but it was probably the same thing from early last year when they let Heffrey Hammonds prove for the upteenth time he's not a big leaguer while Mohr rotted on the bench. Mohr is a great team player who can play all three OF positions and will not command a hefty salary, all of which would be a perfect fit in Atlanta.

 Q:  Chris Dittoe from Bloomington, IN asks:
Kyle Davies sounds like a future stud with his repertoire..why haven't I heard more about him? Does he project as a future 1 or 2 in the pros? Thanks Bill and have a great holiday season!
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Davies is an up-and-comer who showed in 2004 that his 2003 performance was no fluke. True No. 1 starters are few and far between, but Davies could be a No. 2 if he continues to develop at his most recent pace.

 Q:  Doug from Georgia asks:
The Braves seem to be high on big Canadians...Scott Thorman, Jamie Romak, Cole Armstrong and Adam Parliament. All of which are at least 6'2 and 220lbs. What does the future hold for these lumberjacks?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: They're all big boys, no doubt. If they can avoid swinging as if they're trying to cut down a tree with one swing of the ax, they could lose a lot of balls over the fences at the game's highest levels.

 Q:  William J. LaPedomaine from Rock Ridge, TX asks:
Are the Braves going to finally give Betemit at least a half a season to see what he can do? Do you think he can do anything?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: He's shown he can strike out a lot while making modest contact at the Triple-A level. Because of that, he has not earned the chance to play in Atlanta. He will be given a solid opportunity this spring to earn a reserve job with the Braves, and I think his ability to play shortstop and third base gives him the inside track.

 Q:  Kurt from Chicago, IL asks:
Out of all the prospects the Braves gave up, who would have made a difference for them this year?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: I don't think anyone the Braves surrendered would have meant more succcess in Atlanta last year. The Braves overachieved last year, thanks in part to Bobby Cox's astute moves. Based on their moves thus far this winter, I see them improving in 2005.

 Q:  Walker from Danville, VA asks:
I have been trying to convince everyone for a year and a half that Kyle Davies was the Braves best overall pitching prospect(not Capellan or Meyer). What are your thoughts on Davies and who in the majors would you compare him with?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Walker, you know of which you speak, my friend. Davies is the top pitching prospect in the organization and should get a chance to prove that as a starter in the big leagues by the start of the 2006 slate. I don't know who I would compare him to in the big leagues, but I see him as a competitive workhorse with a killer changeup.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
What are the Braves going to do with all of the catcher prospects and who has the best chance to move to another position and where?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: They're going to leave them behind the plate. The Braves had virtually no catching depth a few years ago, and no position features a greater dearth in the big leagues.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Bill, what is the ETA on Andy Marte's arrival in the Bigs? Who in the majors would you compare him to? Is he a better prospect than Dallas McPherson, Mark Teahen, David Wright?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Marte could see some time in the big leagues this year, but he's more likely to make serious contributions in 2006. He's more consistent than McPherson, possesses a little better overall package (in my opinion) than Teahen, and compares favorably to Wright.

 Q:  Marcus Kroon from Tokyo, Japan asks:
Bill, Andy Marte's plate discipline seems to be eroding as he moves up the ladder. Is that something of a concern for the Braves?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: No, not really. The Braves want Marte to be aggressive and use his powerful line drive stroke to his greatest advantage. He's still getting a better grasp of how veteran pitchers work him compared to the lower minors.

 Q:  Ben from FL asks:
where would Adam Wainright be in the top ten had he not been traded?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: That's impossible to say since Wainwright's role could have been completely different in Atlanta than in St. Louis. Still, he has the talent to be a solid top 10 guy, if he were eligible.

 Q:  Jason from Rome, GA asks:
Two Rome outfielders had great years in 2004: Matt Esquivel and Josh Burrus. How high are the Braves on these two outfielders and where do they fit in the Braves plans?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Burrus made major strides this past year, something that started during the latter half of the 2003 campaign at Danville. Esquivel is a hard-nosed player with excellent all-around skills. His big mistake came last June when he got in a fight at the SAL All-Star Game. Both players could make big moves with continued production, especially considering the lack of overall outfield depth in the organization.

 Q:  Bob from Oceanside, CA asks:
Can you give a major league comp to Davies? Also, if his fastball tops out at 93 mph, how does he rack rack up incredible kip ratios?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: Davies has a great changeup and he does an outstanding job of mixing his pitches. He has become a pitcher instead of a thrower and is using his knowledge, talent and experience to emerge as a top prospect.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Marte didn't have a bust out season at AA this season. Are the Braves any more or less optimistic about his potential?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: The Braves are high on Marte. He was injured during the middle part of the season and bounced back very well to finish with solid numbers across the board. With his advanced maturity and even-keel approach, Marte has the makeup and talent to be a solid major leaguer.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Bill McCarthy has been called the next Atlanta corner OF. His 2004 numbers at AA and at AAA look good to me as a fan. How highly do you rate him as a prospect? Thanks.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: I have been on the Billy McCarthy bandwagon since he was signed as a sixth-round pick a couple years ago. He's somewhat of a sleeper, but to me the guy is a winner, both on the field and off. He gives every ounce of energy to the game when he takes the diamond and the results of late have been impressive. If I were a GM, I would find a place for a guy like McCarthy (and Dustan Mohr!) on my 25-man roster.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
With the trade of Capellan did the Braves feel he wouldn't develop his off speed stuff to stay a starter or was it a fact of having to give up something to get something in Kolb.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: As electric as Capellan's fastball was, he was basically a one-pitch pitcher when he arrived in Atlanta in September. If that remains the case in Milwaukee, Jose could get whiplash watching big leaguers turn on his heater.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
What is the Braves feeling on McBride? He gave up lots of hits but also struck out alot as well. Those two stats add up to something curious.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: McBride endured a difficult season at Greenville. I compare it to what Jason Marquis went through at high A several years ago, when he went 2-12 in 1998. Marquis learned from those difficulties and took his game to the big leagues. McBride has similar talent and the same opportunity. I think he will respond favorably to his first taste of disappointment on the diamond.

 Q:  Kale from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
How's Steven Doetsch coming along? Is he a poor-man's Jeff Francouer?
 A: 

Bill Ballew: In some ways that might be a fair comparison. Doetsch is a solid mid-level prospect in his own right and could be a steady producer if he can cut down on his 152 whiffs from 2004 at Rome.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Kelly Johnson responded well to a repeat of Double A. Does he have an inside track to the starting left field position or is he going to Richmond.
 A: 

Bill Ballew: I would envision Johnson returning to Richmond, but a strong spring could change that scenario. Johnson can be deemed a potential sleeper for big league camp this year. There are several coaches in the Braves organization that believe Johnson is on the verge of busting out and becoming an impact player at the big league level.

Bill Ballew: Well, guys, all good things must come to an end. I appreciate all the questions. I hope your holidays are a home run!

Page Not Found - BaseballAmerica.com
Baseball America
The page you are looking for does not exist or has moved

Sorry, the page you're looking for is either like Sidd Finch and does not exist, or like Josh Hamilton and has moved. Where would you like to go instead?

BaseballAmerica.com Home

The latest news from our top sections:

Majors, Minors, Stats, Draft, College, High School, International or Viewpoint