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NYP Chat with Matt Meyers

Moderator: Matt Meyers will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Sean from Edmond, OK asks:
What are your thoughts about 1B Jeff Larish from Oneonta? What is his ceiling, strengths and weaknesses?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Greetings everyone and thanks for joining me for the chat. I just had a lovely lunch of good old fashioned North Carolina BBQ courtesy of the Q-Shack, so I am ready to go. I am sure none of you will disagree with any of my rankings.

Matt Meyers: As for Larish. His strength is power, and a lot of it. He flashed it at the College World Series hitting three bombs in one game and continued it in the NYPL. He also has a keen batting eye and an excellent approach at the plate. His biggest problem is that he is a first baseman and probably can't play anywhere else. To stick at first base in the big leagues, you have to hit for power unless your name is Doug Mientkiewicz. So he will need to keep showing that pop.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Was Wade Townsend's season more a result of having a lot of time off or injury?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: It is hard to say exactly what happened with Townsend. The time off certainly did not help him. From what I gather, he never fully regained the velocity on his fastball and therefore never fully trusted it. As a result, he was throwing a lot of offspeed stuff that hitters feasted on. This does not mean he is not a prospect, I just couldn't justify putting him on this list based on what he did in the league. That 5.49 ERA was not getting it done.

 Q:  Cris from (Providence, RI) asks:
Did Luis Soto drop from number 1 in the GCL last year to number 12 this year. Was it because of the change in position, or the demotion from Greenville, or a combination?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: The biggest reason Soto fell was because he is no longer a shortstop. That #1 ranking in the GCL was based a lot on him playing in the six spot on the diamond. He will need to hit a lot more in rightfield to be an impact big leaguer. He did show impressive power for a 19-year-old and his pitch recognition improved as well, so the potential is there.

 Q:  Shawn from New York asks:
What are your thoughts on 22 year-old Joshua Schmidt and 23 year-old Corey Stuart of the Staten Island Yankees? I realize that both were a little old for the league as a result of Schmidt being drafted as a college senior in 05 and Stuart essentially missing the last two seasons with chronic elbow problems, however, they both had absolutely dominant numbers across the board in 05 and both reportedly have pretty good stuff as well (low-90s fastballs and plus sliders). Could you see the Yankees pushing these guys aggressively through the system and do you think that they have the talent to have success at higher levels?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: I figured I should answer a question on these guys, particularly Schmidt, since I know his absence might raise some eyebrows based on his microscopic ERA. A big reason these guys did not make it is because as relievers, their ceiling is not that high. No matter how you slice it, good big league starters and everyday players tend to be more valuable unless you are talking about a Mo Rivera or a Huston Street. Stuart's arm woes worried me and I want to see more sustained health before I rank him. The performance is encouraging but nothing indicated that his stuff is exceptional.

Matt Meyers: As for Schmidt, the sense I got on him was that a lot of his success came from being a sidearmer. I watched him pitch in the all-star game and his stuff looked good and it worked for him in college as well as he was 2nd in the nation in strikeouts per 9 at Pacific. Still, a lot of young hitters have trouble with a guy like that simply because they have not seen it very often and I worry that more advanced hitters, particularly lefties, will feast on it. If he maintains his success, he could easily move quickly as relievers tend to be the fastest moves these days.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Can u tell me a bit more about the Os trifecta. Where did Liz come from and what his prospects are? Also, is there a MLBer to compare Riemold to? Olson's numbers look very strong yet he tops out at #7 is this an indication that his stuff is not as strong? With the O's dominating the early top 20s is it fair to say they had one of the strongest drafts of 05 and that their reign of near bottom systems may come to an end soon?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: The O's trifecta is very intruiging. Liz has an electric arm though he will need to develop a third pitch to continue as a starter. You can't deny the arm strength and the life on his fastball, every person in the league I spoke to raved about it. Olson is in a similar boat, he needs to refine the changeup but the curve is nasty. He is someone to keep an eye next year due to throwing 200 innings between college and the pros. I hereby nominate him for the first annual "Shut 'Em Down" award sponsored by Chuck D. of Public Enemy. This will be given to the player drafted each year who probably should have been shut down due to extreme workload. His results did not fade and he was a force in the Carolina League playoffs, so it is hard to argue with letting him pitch, but I worry about how his workload this season will affect him in the future.

Matt Meyers: As for Reimold, I can't think of a great comp for him to be honest. How about a righthanded Jim Edmonds? That is a generous comp for somone who has only played three months of pro ball, but he has those kinds of tools. The O's got a great early return on their draft, but it is a marathon, not a sprint. There is reason to be optimistic though.

 Q:  Pete from nyc asks:
Hi Matt - thanks for the chat. Can you give any insight into what other Brooklyn Cyclones have the potential to be an impact players?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Pete, sorry to say that the picking were pretty slim for the Cyclone's down in Coney Isle. Joe Holden had a nice debut and has drawn praise for his ability to get on base and be disruptive on the bases. Nick Evans showed a lot of power in the Appy League, but struggled after his promotion to Brooklyn. There is some pop there, but like I was saying about Larish, he is a 1B so he will need to hit his way to the big leagues. One guy to look out for from the Brooklyn squad is Jorge Reyes even though his numbers were not great. The guy has one of the quickest arms in the organization and touched 95 this season with natural sink on his four-seam fastball. He was described to me as "lights out" in extended spring training, but wore down. His 6-4, 170 pound frame is not the most durable and it showed.

 Q:  john from miami asks:
Kevin Whelan really looked good this year both in the NY-Penn league and after his promotion. Is his rating in this list based just on what he did in the league or did you also consider how well he performed after his promotion?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: After giving up a three runs in his first outing for Oneonta, Whelan did not allow an earned run in his next 11 innings and showed more of the same in the Midwest League, allowing one run in 12 innings there with 22 Ks. Based on performance and stuff, Whelan was the most promising reliever in the NYPL even though he only threw 12 innings in the league and he did earn extra points for continuing it in the MWL.

 Q:  Ian from London, UK asks:
Thanks for the chat. The Nats are 0 for 2 so far on the top 20 lists. Anyone worth following from the Vermont club?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Nice to get some international love, so I had to take this one. The Vermont squad has a few guys worth keeping an eye. The most obvious is Clint Everts who has as high of a ceiling of any pitcher in the Nats system. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is currently ahead of schedule. The Nats told him not to worry at all about results this season and just focus on regaining his arm strength. He hardly threw his curve or his change but the 5th overall pick from the 2002 draft should be back at full strength in 2006 and is just 21.

Matt Meyers: Couple of position players worth mentioning are Francisco Plasencia and Dee Brown. Plasencia was one of the last cuts from the list and showed the ability to play a strong center field, hit for average and some power and steal some bases. He is certainly a talent and worth following. Brown is the son of the late Jerome Brown, an Eagles defensive lineman in the Buddy Ryan era that used to run the show in Tecmo Super Bowl for Nintendo, and he has some nice raw power.

 Q:  NHsoxfan4 from soxprospects.com asks:
Can Jed Lowrie remain at SS for the future, or will he be move to 2B eventually?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: This is a source of debate in the BA office. Guys who know him from his days at Stanford do not think he can play shortstop, but people in the league I spoke to thought he adjusted rather well. He still has troubles deciding which balls to charge and which to stay back on, but don't we all?

Matt Meyers: Lowrie's bat is there and should play at second or short.

 Q:  Dwayne from Greensburg, PA asks:
Which Pirates prospects would you rank the highest, and what kind of upside do they possess?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: If the Pirates had promoted Andrew McCutchen a few days earlier, he would have gotten enough plate appearances to qualify and probably would have been in the top 5, if not number one. So blame the Pirates farm department for not having a guy on the list.

Matt Meyers: One guy to keep an eye on is Matt Swanson. He is someone Bill Raftery would affectionately refer to as, "the big fella" and he did some damage. At 6-8, 240, he has a nice downhill plane on his pitches. He topped out around 95 and has a plus slider. Todd Redmond had great numbers, but he was one of those guys who seemed like he was able to succeed at a low level due to maturity and polish without having plus stuff. His fastball is in the low 90s and he commands it well. The curve is decent, but the change is just not there yet.

 Q:  Chris from The Bronx asks:
How do Zach Kroenke and Garrett Patterson project?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Both of these Big 12 jokers have some promise. Kroenke (out of Nebraska) is a lefty who can touch the low 90s which is nice, his delivery has been compared by scouts to throwing a pie. That cannot be good and supposedly costs him command. Patterson (Oklahoma) is someone who would have made the top 30 if I ranked that many. He threw in the low to mid 90s, with heavy bore on his fastball. Probably the hardest throwing lefty in the league and very intense. He has some issues with control which is his downfall and caused his pitch counts to escalate quickly, but the stuff is there.

 Q:  matt from atlanta asks:
Hey, thanks for the chat - what do you think of the starting pitchers at Mahoning Valley? The Indians drafted a lot of under the radar arms (Dixon, Deters, Ness, Lewis)that seemed to perform fairly well. Jensen Lewis made the list - did anyone else impress?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: This was an impressive group and Ness and Deter were also considered, with Ness being a late cut. Lewis made the list based mostly on his impressive understanding of the game and big league approach to pitching. He is good at following his plan and sticking to a scouting report. A fastball that touches 94 doesn't hurt either, nor does his ability to throw his slider and change for a strike in any count.

Matt Meyers: Ness has a similar repertoire to Lewis and put up better numbers so you could argue putting him on the list. Based on his last name (and his 68 Ks in 59 innings) I have dubbed him "The Untouchable" and encourage everyone to use that as his nickname going forward.

 Q:  Mike from Ga Tech asks:
Is Tyler Greene the real deal and the cardinals' shortstop of the future?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Greene was slotted in the top 10 because he is legitimately a shortstop. A lot of guys play short at low levels but move as they get older, Greene is not going anywhere. He had some trouble adjusting to wood bats early in the season and needs to swing and miss less, but he has great aptitude and great baseball instincts and there is reason to believe he will improve as a hitter significantly. A good comp I heard for him was Adam Everett, and I think he might hit for more power too. He is a first-rounder so I am sure the Cards have him in their long term plans.

 Q:  JOE R. from DEOTFORD NJ asks:
HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BAEZ AND COSTANZO FOR BATAVIA ?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: I like both of these guys. Costanzo impressed me by overcoming an awful start and putting together an impressive season. The impression I got is that he is consistent on routine balls at third, but his reactions were a little slow. He got a lot of consideration for the list.

Matt Meyers: Baez will certainly do his prospect status a favor if he can stick at short. He struggled in his first couple of years of pro ball so you hope this season is a sign of things to come, not a fluke. That being said, he did everything this year to legitimize himself as a prospect. Next year will be very big for him as he tries to build off of his progress in 2005.

 Q:  Chris from Vermont asks:
The Yankees had a number of players with outstanding statistical performances at Staten Island - Larson, Stuart, Schmidt, Gardner, to an extent Poterson, Stevens, Kroenke. Was the omission of any players other than Nunez attributed to low ceilings for these players or because of their advanced ages? You did have other college player on the Top 20, so I am curious as to why none of the above players. Thanks.
 A: 

Matt Meyers: I am getting a lot of questions about the lack of Yankees on the list so I figured I would address them all with this one response. Stuart and Schmidt and Kroenke and Patterson I mentioned before in two separate responses so you should scroll up and read those if you haven't.

Matt Meyers: One SI guy who came close, besides Patterson, was Brett Gardner. The reason he didn't make the list is because his ceiling is rather low. He is a better version of Joe Holden at Brooklyn (I am sure that statement will cause major bar debates in tavern's across NYC, but I digress). The reason he did not make the list is that his ceiling is rather low. He is extremely fast (timed consistently below 4 seconds from home to first) so he can steal bases and cover ground in the outfield. Sometimes that is enough to carry you to the big leagues. Although he was small, he did hit five homers so he has the ability to turn on a pitch if he is ready for it, but there is just not much power there now, but sometimes it comes later. Right now, his ceiling is as a Juan Pierre type.

Matt Meyers: Larsen didn't make the list because he is a first baseman who did not hit for much power. He is big (6-5, 240) so there should be some power in there somewhere, so maybe it will come. Poterson is promising, but he swings and misses too much and does not control the strike zone. He is not yet 20-years-old, so there is time for him. Seccombe was similar to what I said about Todd Redmond earlier. He got by on polish and command and as of now does not have big league stuff due to his lack of a changeup.

 Q:  Joe from New York asks:
I see you've listed Oneonta shortstop Michael Hollimon. He was a bust at Texas, then did a nice job at Oral Roberts. Is his power for real? Will he stay at shortstop in the future?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Hollimon was a little old for the league at 23, but he was outstanding. If this list were based strictly on performance, he might have been No. 1. I had one manager say to me that he had no idea why Hollimon was in the league. He hit for power from both sides, and put up an impressive triple double (ten or more doubles, triples, and homers), and 48 walks in 256 at-bats was nice too. there are some questions about his ability to stat at short, but he was fine in the NYPL. He was a major talent coming out of high school so there is some pedigree there. Definitely worth following despite being too old for the league.

 Q:  Jose from Farmington, CT asks:
Matt, I was interested to see that you had Jed Lowrie ranked lower than Eduardo Nunez, despite Lowrie putting up better numbers across the board. Is this due to the age difference? Also, compare their defense, please
 A: 

Matt Meyers: It was based mostly on age (Nunez is 3 years younger), and the fact that Nunez is a legitimate shortstop where as Lowrie might not be. Nunez is a dynamite talent and the organization is high on him with good reason. Any 18-year-old who can handle himself well in this league is extremely impressive.

Matt Meyers: Ok, on to lightning round...

 Q:  GBall from East Lansing asks:
Thanks for the chat. Any love for Auburn trio Eric Fowler, Robert Ray, or Paul Phillips?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Fowler got a lot of love. Still doesn't full trust his stuff and has a tendency to nibble, but can throw 3 pitches (fastball, curve, change) for strikes

 Q:  Your new best friend from asks:
Hitters were batting .279 against Volstad and he averaged less than a strikeout per inning while McGee and Davis both averaged over 1KIP and hitters were only batting .226 and .234 respectively against them. Why did Volstad get the nod over Davis and McGee?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Volstad got the nod for being younger and showing an incredible amount of polish for his age. Davis might have better stuff though and therefore a higher ceiling. For the most part, I try to blend performance with tools and pedigree in making these lists. If it were based solely on numbers, there wouldn't be much point because anybody could make them.

 Q:  NHsoxfan4 from soxprospects.com asks:
What are your thoughts on Clay Buchholz, and his ceiling?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: The ceiling is high because the arm is live and the stuff is plus, but he needs to keep clean off the field. There was an incident entering college where was busted for trying to sell stolen computers. You wonder about guys like this, but the talent is there.

 Q:  Matt Dominici from Boston, MA asks:
Do you think Jensen Lewis would be any more of an intimidating presence on the mound if he changed his name to Lewis Jensen?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Maybe. If I meet him I will suggest it.

 Q:  Mario Mendoza from Williamsport asks:
Nobody in the top 20 from Williamsport? Not Pearce, Redmond, Boone? What are you guys smoking?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Not smoking anything. Those guys not being ranked is not a knock on them necessarily, there are just other guys in the league that do the same things as them, but do them better. There is nothing personal.

 Q:  Ryan from Houston,TX asks:
Gaby Sanchez has always had a cannon of an arm, where do you think the Marlins will take advantage of it? And why did he sit out the '05 college season?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: He was suspended for a violation of university rules. Don't know more than that. Some people think he can catch, if there is a chance of that I would explore it if I were the Marlins because we all know how valuable a power-hitting catcher is.

 Q:  Jake Larsen from Waukegan, IL asks:
Where's Garrett Groce? He was another unexpected bright spot for the Rays. He was the NY-Penn All-star Game HR Champion,also. Why no love?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Groce was #21. I really liked this guy and would have liked to find a spot for him in the top 20. He played at Ga. Tech for two years before transferring to Columbus (Ga.) State because he was getting no PT. He displayed five average or above average tools, which is pretty amazing for a 41st round pick who was thought of as a 4th outfielder for Hudson Valley when the season started. One of my favorite sleepers in the league.

 Q:  Ryan Fitzgerald from Whitewater, WI asks:
Do you think Brian Bogusevic will move quickly next year and be a starter? Is he the real thing and just he pitched so much for tulane is why he had limited pitching?
 A: 

Matt Meyers: Bogusevic was apparently tired and did not recover from his heavy workload at Tulane where he helped them get to the College World Series. Unlike Olson, he could not adjust to the heavier workload. Next year should give us a much better sense of what we can expect from him. Based on pedigree, he was in the top 20 in the league, but I could not justify ranking him after he got rocked in the league. For me, you had to show some level of performance in the league to rank you. But that is not how all of us at BA do it. It is kind of like the MVP voting, there is a lot of room for interpretation

Matt Meyers: That is all that I have time for today. Thanks for all the great questions, I really enjoyed myself and I hope I didn't offend too many people by not having certain players on the list. Will Kimmey will be here tomorrow to take your questions about the Northwest League, the New York-Penn League's long lost cousin of the west, tomorrow at 10AM.

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