Minor League Chat with Chris Kline
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Moderator: Chris will be taking your questions beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET

 Q:  Tom from NY asks:
How long till Phil Hughes comes back from shoulder tendonitis?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Hey everyone--and welcome. We have quite a few questions already in, so let's get to it . . . Tom, Hughes hasn't pitched since June 12 and the Yankees held him out of the SAL all-star game because of the tendinitis, but it isn't considered serious. The organization is obviously being cautious, but expect him to be back on the mound early in the second half.

 Q:  Teddy from Poway, CA asks:
Any chance we see Guzman or LaRoche playing in LA this year? I mean actually contributing.
 A: 

Chris Kline: Teddy, I don't see it happening. Yeah, LaRoche is hitting like crazy and has been pretty solid defensively since moving to Jakcsonville, but I don't think he's ready to make that jump just yet. And no matter how much I like Guzman, I don't think he'll ever be a major league-caliber shortstop. The bat will definitely play anywhere, it's a matter of finding the right spot for him--something that certainly got interesting when LaRoche got to Double-A and Guzman moved back to short from third.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
How much of Brandon Woods power this year has been the result of playing in the California League? It seems that that league consistently has inflated offensive numbers.
 A: 

Chris Kline: That's a fair point, but there is still plenty of power in there. I just saw him at the Cal-Carolina League all-star game this week and he was hitting some moon shots in the home run hitting contest. He was also impressive defensively, although he may have to eventually move to third base as his body continues to mature. For his size--he's still very skinny and wiry strong--you wouldn't expect there to be home run kind of power, but his swing generates a lot of natural loft and he has exceptional acceleration through the zone that he's hitting more home runs now that ever before in his career. The hitter-freindly Cal League has a little to do with those numbers, but not very much. Wood just really needs to tighten up his management of the strike zone and he'll be leaping through the system quickly. Although the middle infield tandem ahead of him might have something to say about that.

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
Hi Chris, Thanks for doing the chat. Can you talk a little bit about the Yankees farm system? Is it possible that it's actually a bit better than people have been giving it credit for? Particularly, where do you think Phil Hughes and Tyler Clippard might rank among RHP prospects? With those guys, Tim Battle, Duncan, Cabrera, CJ Henry and Austin Jackson, it looks like the Yankees might finally have some high-ceiling talent again.
 A: 

Chris Kline: Hey Ben, I think it's getting better, but it's not something I'm getting overly excited about. I like Hughes a lot, but I don't think I'd rank him in the Top 10 righthanded prospects in the game. Clippard is having a lot of success this year in the Florida State League with solid secondary numbers and has improved his stock, although he's given up a lot of long balls. Word is he's gained some velocity on his 87-91 mmph fastball, and you have to like a guy who isn't afraid to own the inner half of the plate the way he does--there's a lot of upside there if he can command the fastball the way he's shown flashes of. I'm not a big Duncan fan, or Cabrera for that matter, but Henry and Jackson were key and both have high ceilings. There isn't much depth, but it's improving.

 Q:  Rocco from Milwaukee asks:
Are the Brewers considering calling up Corey Hart, he's been on fire. Will he be their opening day RF next year?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Are we talking about Corey Hart or Corey Hart? Hart the outfielder has been on a tear since early June, and the way the Brewers are giving guys open chances in the big leagues I doubt he'll be in Nashville much longer.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
Of Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew and Justin Upton, who do you believe is most likely to make an impact at the major league level?
 A: 

Chris Kline: The easy answer would be all three, and all in different ways. Jackson hasn't hit for much power this year, but don't worry--it's in there. Quentin is about as legit as it gets as a prototypical right fielder. Drew has been very impressive in his pro debut and out of all of these guys, Upton has the chance to be a cornerstone.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Ubaldo Jimenez was recently promoted to Tulsa, but if he dominates there, what are the chances U-Ball is called up to Colorado Springs?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Pretty good. Jimenez was very impressive in the Cal-CL all-star game in his one inning of work. He hit 97 mph and all three pitches were plus offerings. The organization considers him one of the most polished pitchers in the system. So if he does well in Double-A, there is no reason for him not to finish up in Colorado Springs and be in the big leagues next year.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
Have any concerns been raised about Andy Marte given his less than successful stint with the big club? Or does he just need more time in AAA?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Absolutely no concerns. I know I don't have any when it comes to Marte, anyway. Last time I saw him in Triple-A, I didn't think he was ready, but give him a little credit. I mean, he's only 21.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
You wrote a great piece last year where you mentioned Adam Miller as the most promising prospect you witnessed in the league. He has been injured all season, coming back just recently. Have you heard any word on how well he is handling the rehab, his fastball velocity, or if he feels close to 100% yet? Secondly, Greg Miller is finally back on the hill. Any word on his stuff last night, stats-aside? Thanks, and have a great holiday weekend.
 A: 

Chris Kline: Mike, Adam Miller's rehab stint is going fine and he should move up to high Class A Kinston in the next week, and then on to Double-A to finish the year. His velocity's been hovering around 95 mph, and he's close to 100 percent but not quite there yet. He's been having some command issues with his slider, but that will come back with more innings and bullpens. As for Greg Miller, didn't hear anything on the street about his stuff, but it is a great leap forward considering the club originally targeted him to start at the end of this month--not the beginning of it. It's a good sign.

 Q:  David M from Lakeland FL asks:
What will happen to Justin Verlander after his start on Saturday?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Well, he starts Monday actually. It seems like anything could happen. If he goes out and shoves it against the Indians, they might give him more of a look. Verlander's had nothing but success this season and his velocity's been up to 99 mph. We'll see what happens Monday when he faces big league hitters for the first time--on the road.

 Q:  Kevin from Spfld, MA asks:
Chris, enjoyed your interview wAnibal Sanchez. Are the reports true that his recent struggles (before the CAR All Star break)do to his trying to refine his breaking pitch?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Well, if they are, I didn't see it on Tuesday. His changeup was downright filthy and got Howie Kendrick, then Brandon Wood way out front-then got Billy Butler swinging on it--that's a pretty tough top of the order to have that kind of success against. I was secretly wishing that they'd just let the SanchezJimenez matchup keep going, but of course, that didn't happen.

 Q:  Lu from Carrboro asks:
Of the guys called up the last couple months season to the Majors which ones do you think have the stamina and maturity to stay?
 A: 

Chris Kline: The first one that comes to mind is Kyle Davies. He doesn't have blow-away stuff, but he has a great plan for attacking hitters and I just love how savvy he is. Of all the pitchers who made the jump this year, no one comes with more polish in my opinion.

 Q:  Danny from Atlanta asks:
Do you think we'll see Franceour in Atlanta this year? Langerhans has been ok, but not hitting much, and Jordan is garbage.
 A: 

Chris Kline: That's the 64,000 question, Danny. When the Braves were seemingly calling up a different guy to plug a hole on the big league roster in early June, the buzz around the office was 'What about Francoeur?" He started off slowly, but take a look at those power numbers. I don't know if you'll see him in Atlanta this year, but it won't be very long before you see him every night.

 Q:  Chris Foster from Greenville SC asks:
Last year I read BA mention the pitching prospects who had the stuff to become ML aces and was hoping for a 2005 version. Thanks.
 A: 

Chris Kline: We'll get on it!

 Q:  Inspectah Deck from Staten Island, NY asks:
What is the deal with my boy Yusmeiro Petit? I hear has some nice stuff. Yeah, he may have some weight issues, but you can't argue with results, right?
 A: 

Chris Kline: You certainly can't argue with the results--all the guy does is dominate every level. Until that stops happening, you can't really say too much, even if he doesn't have anything overpowering in his arsenal. The question was how his stuff would play at the upper levels, and he's answered them every time he's stepped on a mound this year in Double-A. I still worry about that body though. I can't really say he's overrated, but if I had to choose between two Venezuelan righthanders, I'd take Anibal over him in a heartbeat.

 Q:  Charles from Port Jefferson asks:
What sort of Major Leaguer does Melky Cabrera project to be? I've heard solid glove with a Vidro type bat.
 A: 

Chris Kline: That's a pretty accurate comp--you must have read our Prospect Handbook.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
How would you order the following OFs from the Southern League? Delmon Young, Jeremy Hermida, Jeff Francoeur, Felix Pie.
 A: 

Chris Kline: 1. Young 2. Hermida 3. Francoeur 4. Pie

 Q:  Kevin from Las Vegas, Nevada asks:
Detroit seems loaded with pitching prospects. Is their minor league system a little better than projected?
 A: 

Chris Kline: With Sleeth gone for the year, the two obvious guys are Verlander and Zumaya. I got to see Zumaya this year and even though he's led the EL in walks much of the year, his command is much, much better and his changeup was a plus pitch. With that third pitch, he is quickly solidifying himself as a future starter, when some have questioned his ability to remain in the rotation as he moves through the system.

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
One more...why is Hanley Ramirez getting so much love? Sure, he's young, but it looks to me like a guy like Eric Duncan (who is having a pretty terrible year), and who is also younger at the same level, is still having a better year than Hanley--what gives?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Come on! Hanley deserves the love and there is no way Duncan is having a better year. Ramirez hit a funk lately, but started off very hot whereas Duncan has only been lukewarm all season. When we were putting together Futures Game rosters, Hanley was easily the highest-profile guy on that team.

 Q:  Kevin from Spfld, MA asks:
Can you give a scouting report on Portland LHP Jon Lester, he seems to be having a great year as a 21 year old (last night no included)?
 A: 

Chris Kline: The most talked about Red Sox prospect in potential trades tops out at 96, and sits consistently in the 92-93 range with his fastball. Potential to have average curveball and changeup, but they aren't there yet. Very athletic and does a great job of keeping the ball down in the zone.

 Q:  Tim from Pittsburgh asks:
Thanks for the chat. Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelany have almost identical stats at AA Altoona. Who will be the better big league pitcher?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Tough question. They're nearly identical in a lot of ways, but I think Gorzelanny has the better stuff of the two. He's the harder thrower, though he's more raw in terms of his delivery and overall mechanics. I think they both have a good chance to have strong big league careers, but right now I'll take Gorzelanny over Maholm by a hair. Give the Pirates credit for developing three quality lefthanders (including Duke).

 Q:  Tim from Pittsburgh asks:
Who will have more sucess at the big league level, Big Country Brad Eldred or former Bucco farm hand Big Daddy Walter Young? Thanks for the chat.
 A: 

Chris Kline: In keeping with the Pirates talk, I think both these guys will have good careers in the big leagues, though I like Eldred better solely because he's more athletic and can actually play first base. The Pirates let Young go--for nothing--because they felt he wasn't a National League-type player, profiling simply as a DH. There is huge power in both, but I take Eldred over Young. Sorry, Big Walter.

 Q:  pete from nyc asks:
The Mets have several high ceiling prospects as well as emerging talent this year. They are on the fringes of contention. They were in the same position last year. I just threw up a little in my mouth. Should I be worried?
 A: 

Chris Kline: I think anything can happen in the East, and yes, the Mets have some high-ceiling guys that could be impact players. I don't think this is deja vu, though, Pete. So go brush your teeth.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
With Daric Barton on a tear, do you think Oakland will start to move him more quickly through the minors? Is he the best hitter in Oaklands system?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Billy Beane seems to think so, Charles. Wow, you are asking a ton of questions. Are you on a long lunch or something? Leave work early for a long weekend on the 4th? I don't know how quickly the A's will move Barton--he's so young, so I don't think there's any plan in place to rush him.

 Q:  Matt R. from Rutland, Vermont asks:
With Kevin Millar's contract up at the end of the year could the Red Sox aquire one of the blocked first base prospects, like Ryan Howard or Casey Kotchman?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Matt, The Phillies were apparently asking too much for Howard at this time last year, and coudn't pull off several deals for him. Clubs felt like they were overstating his value by allowing him to remain in Double-A for so long. But the difference between Howard last year and Howard this year is he is a much more complete player. He moves surprisingly well around the bag deffensively and his game isn't just about power anymore. Even though he stalled in his big league showcase this year in Philly, Howard is a big league player with all the tools suited for first base. Kotchman might also be available with the Angels adding Cuban defector Kendry Morales in the offseason. I would think both guys won't come cheaply, however. But for the right deal, either one of those clubs would pull the trigger--especially the Phillies, who HAVE to win now regardless of all else. Philadelphia fans are already booking tickets to go to watch Eagles training camp in Lehigh, Pa., not thinking about a pennant race.

 Q:  Joe from Salmon Arm, BC asks:
So I hope you aren't like Callis and only answer Yankee, Red Sox, and Cubs questions. How about an ETA on Conor Jackson to Arizona?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Don't dis Callis, Joe. He's one of the hardest-working guys in baseball and I got his back. I'm trying to spread the wealth as much as possible on a day when we are celebrating BA's Cliff Gardner's 29th birthday and lamenting the loss of intern Dan Friedell. Jackson will be in Arizona before the end of the season. He's an on-base machine--the best one in the minors.

 Q:  Eddie Wade from Philly asks:
Hi Chris. How long must I wait until Cole Hamels is ready to pitch in the majors and save my sinking ship? Thanks!
 A: 

Chris Kline: Probably at least the rest of this year. I talked to Clearwater pitching coach Scott Lovekamp last week, and he said his stuff is unreal. He'll finish the season in Double-A with a good chance of making the rotation--depending on what happens in that front office--in the spring.

 Q:  Martin L from Los Angeles asks:
Thanks for the chat. Is there a better infield anywhere in the minors than in Jacksonville? What are the chances that R. Martin, J. Loney, D. Young, J. Guzman and A. Laroche will come up the the majors together and form the best Dodgers infield since Yeager, Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Is there a better team as far as being so prospect-laden? Your comp sounds like something I heard scouting director Logan White allude to earlier this year, but that's a pretty darned good infield. Do I think Loney is going to be Garvey? Ummm, I don't think so. Do I think Guzman will stay at short? I think I already said I couldn't see that happening. Martin is legit--I am a huge believer in him. He's the most complete catcher I've seen in the last two years. LaRoche is having an unbelievable season, so I can see the comp--even if I don't think all the parts are comparable.

 Q:  Elliot Legow from Youngstown OH asks:
Chris: What's the word on Michael Aubry's back? Is this career-threatening? He had the same problem in college and his first year as a pro, didn't he?
 A: 

Chris Kline: This time he tweaked it on a slide and it's just gotten worse. They have him on inflammatories, and the Indians say there is no structural damage, but there are some in the organization who have expressed major concerns. Hopefully he can just rest it and there hasn't been any indication of surgery at this point, but as for him playing again this season--that's something that remains cloudy at best.

 Q:  James from St Pete, Florida asks:
Should O's fans expect anything from Beau Hale???
 A: 

Chris Kline: My first experience in seeing Hale was in 2002 in the Carolina League. It was the only time I saw a guy get ejected by the home plate umpire while he was charting pitches behind home plate. Now that he's back with Frederick, at least those umpires from three years ago are now at higher levels. After missing two years, his command is the real issue--10 walks, 12 K's in 11 innings. I wouldn't set my expectations too high.

 Q:  Adam from Clinton, NJ asks:
Are you going to have to replace Justin Verlander on the futures game roster after his probable start on monday and if so with who?
 A: 

Chris Kline: That depends on the Tigers. I'm not sure what the better story is--Verlander showcasing Detroit's future at Comerica on July 10 or Verlander making it to the big leagues after just three months as a pro. Either way, he's the cover boy on our next issue, which is pretty cool timing.

 Q:  Ab Stromberg from Fourtown, MN asks:
Less questions from Charles Berg in Houston, please. Right now who's your MLPOY? Delmon Young? Andy Laroche? Justin Verlander? Forget the fact that Verlander is now in the bigs and may not see anymore minor league action.
 A: 

Chris Kline: We were just talking about this yesterday. Right now it's Delmon, hands down. You can make a case for LaRoche or Brandon Wood, but at this point, Delmon is clearly the guy.

 Q:  James from St Pete, Florida asks:
Should O's fans be worried about Adam Loewen's control problems?
 A: 

Chris Kline: If you aren't, you probably should be. He shows flashes of great command, but has always been a tease. The stuff is definitely in there, but the two things I question the most with Loewen are his focus and preparation. At times, he seems aloof. But he's so young and so athletic that there's still a lot of upside there. Hopefully as he matures, he'll finally iron out the control problems.

 Q:  Joey from N. Hollywood, Ca. asks:
Hey Chris, who would you rather have, Daric Barton or Brandon Wood?
 A: 

Chris Kline: While I value getting on base as much as the next guy, I'll take Wood. Bigger power and has a chance to stay at a premium position against a guy who profiles as a DH.

 Q:  matt from atlanta asks:
Hey Chris - Tribe fan here, and I was wondering if you could give a little scouting report on some prospects that have exceeded preseason expectations. I'm curious about Chuck Lofgren, Tony Sipp and Brian Barton and wondering what got into Ryan Mulhern's bat. Thanks!
 A: 

Chris Kline: Lofgren was unreal in extended, Sipp will be interesting now in Kinston and while Barton is a little old for the CL, he's raking so far. He'll be on a fast timetable to go to Double-A depending on what happens with other movement in the system. Mulhern was a big time home run hitter in college at South Alabama, and he was one of the better bats I saw in ST this year. Everyone in the organization was saying if he could just put it all together, good things would happen. Looks like he did that, though he too was a little too old for that league. We'll see how he fares in Double-A. There were a ton of questions and I thank everyone for sending them in. Unfortunately, I have to run to head to the beach for the weekend (along with like three games), so I apologize I wasn't able to get to them all. Thanks again and keep reading your Dish daily. Later, CK.

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