California League Chat with Kevin Goldstein

Moderator: Kevin Goldstein will begin taking your California League questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Bill Mitchell from Tempe, AZ asks:
Kevin, thanks for the chat. Stephen Drew seemed to have a number of nagging injuries this season that caused him to miss time. Has a concern been raised that he will be somewhat injury prone like his brother?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Well, the questions are already flowing in so let's light this candle. In the tradition of sharing musical selections, I've simply set up Napster to only play songs with the word 'California' in the title, while skipping Hotel California (unless it's a cover) because in the words of the great Jeffrey Lebowski, "I hate the _____ Eagles!"

Kevin Goldstein: Hard not to start with a question from one of my favorite BA photogs -- Bill Mitchell out in the desert. It's not a concern . . . yet. Drew did have some occasional ouchies at Florida State, so there is a track record there, but the Diamondbacks are looking forward to Drew spending an entire year with the org in '06, starting off at 100% in spring training.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Would Tulo' have made the top 10 if he met the eligibility requirements?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He'd be somewhere in the 8-12 range, yes. He's a shortstop with power and defensive chops -- a pretty rare combination.

 Q:  Dave Cowen from Santa Rosa CA asks:
Dear Kevin: I regret to inform BA that it has been duped by the fraudulent statistics and game results provided to BA by MinorLeagueBaseball. You see, MLB.com has reported that San Jose whipped the snot out of the Northern Division this year and won the league championship. Seeing as all the teams they spread on toast and ate for breakfast have, according to BA, far superior players, BA is obviously, at the least, the brunt of a practical joke by MLB.com. Or could it be that players like Timpner, Frandsen, Ishikawa, Wilson , Hendrick and Broschius actually sent the players you are boosting home crying for their mommies?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Dear Dave: Your question made me laugh out loud and scare my cat. Nice job. The ugly truth is that the minor leagues are not all about wins and losses, they're about player development. If you look at many of the top 20s we've already put out, you'll see that often the champ was not the most prospect-laden team. That said, some of the names you mentioned were very close. Ishikawa in particular. Timpner got some support, and he'll probably make it on his speed and defense alone, but he just doesn't have enough of an offensive package to profile as an every day player.

 Q:  elmer from dallas, tx asks:
Are you ever going to answer my questions? Do you think DVD. (diamond, Volquez, Danks) will ever amount to anything they all seemed to struggle in AA?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: No, I will never answer your questions. As an aside, and having nothing to do with your question, I will say that Double-A is HARD. If there were concerns that the trio's showing in Double-A had removed their prospect status, I don't think they'd be ranked where they are.

 Q:  Reggie Pelov from Grapevine, Ca asks:
Im having a serious problem with the disconnect on this list between potential and performance. You rate 5 Modesto players and 3 for Bakersfield on a 20 deep list, for teams that didnt make the playoff or even have a winning record. Lake Elsinore and San Jose, the division winners, only have three between them, and both have many fine kids who were left off. If these kids you are giving props to were really as good as you say, why dont the results reflect the talent?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Primarily because there's a difference between performance and projection. Again -- winning does not necessarily equal prospect.

 Q:  Rox Fan from NY asks:
Modesto really slumped down the last stretch of the season despite the wealth of talent that one scout called the best he's seen in the past decade. Just tired from the grind of the season or did promotions such as Iannetta change the mind of the team?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Nearly everyone I talked to about Ianetta talked about how he basically ran that team on the field and raved about his leadership. After he left, Modesto went 15-27. I think that says quite a bit right there.

 Q:  Jim from Midland Park, NJ asks:
Why are scouts questioning Barton's power potential? His slug % was just under .500 and 40% of his hits when for extra bases.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: They're not just questioning it because he hit 13 home runs in 500 ABs this year. He's a big guy who can put a serious charge into a ball. But his approach at the plate is not focused on power, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He really doesn't try to pull bulls, he focuses on making contact. People saw plenty of doubles to the opposite field from Barton on balls that other hitters would try to turn on.

 Q:  Bill from Las Vegas asks:
Did any other Ports come close to making the list? I know Melillo doesn't qualify (kind of shocked he missed the Midwest league list), but how about Suzuki or Putnam?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Both got some consideration, but really didn't come TOO close to making it. Suzuki (and this surprised me) got some pretty bad reviews defensively, but showed enough bat to be seen as an every day catcher. Putnam has a solid year, but defensively, he's relegated to left field because of a below-average arm, and the offensive expectatioins for that position are tremendous.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Do you think Jones and Cabrera will remain at shortstop with the number of good middle infielders in the Mariners system?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: The Mariners put Jones in centerfield occasionally at Double-A, and he'll get a full audition there in the Arizona Fall League. He's a spectacular athlete with great baseball instintcs, and he could flourish there, which could get him to the big leagues faster and help the organization figure out what to do with all of these shortstops.

 Q:  PBish from Chicago, IL asks:
Did Tampa sleeper prospect Andy Sonnanstine get any consideration for the list? That 17818 KBB number had to impress somebody right?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He didn't get much. He got hit around pretty good at Visalia, giving up 71 hits in 64 innings. He's seen as a plus-plus command guy who can change speeds well, but nobody saw a real out pitch out of him, especially against lefties.

 Q:  Argun from LA asks:
Chris Carter hits for power and has a discerning eye at the plate. His numbers actually got better after he was promoted to AA. Was he considered for the top 20?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He was, and would have made a top 30. He definitely has changed the mind of many doubters, and people love his grinder style of play, but while not old, he is at 23 older than many of these prospects, hit just .226 away from the friendly confines of Lancaster, and the power and patience are his only tools.

 Q:  Shawn from Bellingham WA asks:
Thanks for taking my question. Love the chats!! How close was Mariners prospect Wladimir Balentien to making the top 20? Balentien has light tower power but he has a problem with strikeouts. What does he need to improve on to make it to the majors? Thanks again.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He was definitely on the 'ask about' list, but got little support. His raw power ranks with anyone on this list, but his effort was questioned by many, as was his ability to hit anything but a fastball -- as one manager put it, 'He's what breaking ball were invented for.'

 Q:  Jay from DC asks:
Edison Volquez really struggled in the majors. Does this affect his prospect status at all? Should we write this off to the Ranger philosophy of throwing fastballs in the minors almost exclusively?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I don't think it effect his status at all. He was rushed, and just wasn't ready. He's still the best pitching prospect in the Rangers system in my mind.

 Q:  JB from CT asks:
Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions. Where would Daric Barton have ranked on this list if he was still considered a catcher? And what are the chances the A's might move him back to the catcher position in the future?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He certainly would have been higher. A catcher who can hit like Barton is far more valueable than a first baseman who can hit like Barton. But both have plenty of value. That said, a little birdie told me that while Barton will stay at first base in the Arizona Fall League, returning to catching in 2006 is still a possibility.

 Q:  Rick from Nebaska asks:
Any info on relievers Joshua Newman and Jason Burch? And what about Aaron Marsden, he's had two "eh" years in a row?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: The big name to remember here is Burch, who just missed the cut. He's a 6-5 righty with what many consider to be the best sinker in the league. If you're looking for a sleeper in the Rockies system, there's your guy.

 Q:  Jonathan Fein from Madison, WI asks:
Who would you rather have and why, Andy Laroche or Brandon Wood?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I'd take Wood, but I'm his biggest supporter at BA. I would bet that if you did a survey of the BA editorial staff on this one, it would be pretty darn even.

 Q:  JayBud from Salem, OR asks:
Edison Volquez . . . mini Pedro? That's the comp that has been thrown out there because of the explosive moving fastball and the wicked changeup. Is his ceiling higher than D&D? Is he a potential frontline guy for the Rangers?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I never like these kind of comps for a couple of reasons. A. How many pitchers were EVER as good as Pedro in his prime? I don't have an exact number, but I can tell you I don't have to take off my socks to count that high. Putting those kind of expectations on someone is asking a ton. B. The comparision gets thrown out WAY too much. Everytime a skinny Domincan shows up flashing a plus fastball, people say he's like Pedro. I'm a big fan of Volquez, but he's his own player, he's not a mini-Pedro, he's a full-size Edison Volquez.

 Q:  Guy from California asks:
Whats up with leaving Kevin Frandsen off this list? The numbers he put up and the season he had... I mean seriously, whats a guy have to do to crack these top prospects lists anyway?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He has to have scouts and managers consistently rave about him basically. If there was an all-makeup minor league team, Frandsen just might be the second baseman. He consistently plays above his natural skills, with his manager Lenn Sakata saying, "it's like he's on a mission". The one scout who liked him most said he could end up a Mark Ellis type.

 Q:  ray from sf asks:
how close was kevin melillo to making the list? or does he only qualify for the AA list..he had a great year and showed alot of power. is he the A's 2b of the future?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He didn't have enough at-bats to qualify, but would have definitely been on the list if he had. When I did the A's Top 30 last year, everyone in the A's system told me he was the sleeper in that system and they were right.

 Q:  Argun from LA asks:
I can't recall a guy like Howie Kendrick maintaining such a high batting average throughout his minor league career. Combine that with a low walk rate and it's pretty hard to think of a comparable big leaguer, but if you had to pick one who would it be?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: It reminds me of Tony Gwynn - but now I'm breaking my own rule because comparing anyone to Gwynn is as silly as Pedro. But Gwynn didn't walk much early in his career primarily because he could hit everything. Kendrick is like that.

 Q:  Sam from www.calleaguers.com asks:
Kevin, Can you give us an idea of how the Cal League ranks for you this year compared to the other full season leagues. I'm thinking more along the lines of impact potential as opposed to depth. Obviously it lacked in arms and depth in the teens but the top 10 looks as good as there is out there. Thoughts?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Gotta take a Sam question, as his obsession with the league is pretty unparalelled. The top 10 is very very good, with some elite names there, but it did kind of fall off after the top 12 or so. The Southern League had the best assemblage of talent in the minors this year, but few others matched the Cal League when it came to hitting. That said, pitching was pretty barren.

 Q:  Kevin from Foster City, CA asks:
Music-wise, I suggest laying off Phantom Planet's 'California', better remembered for the movie "Orange County" than that silly sitcom on Fox. Next question: I was curious about your wording on the report of Eddy Martinez-Esteve, the Cal League's own Manny Ramirez. Is his arrogance 'perceived', or is it real? And, considering his injury, is a move to first in his future?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: It's one of those things that's hard to write about. Some called him arrogant, and some called him worse, but others would say he backs it up (at least at the plate). The only problem I have with it is that people saw it translated into a lack of effort defensively, which is bad for a guy who is already a bad leftfielder with a bad left arm.

 Q:  Kevin from Foster City, CA. asks:
One last question about a prospect, but not a player: Lenn Sakata's managed 5 teams in a weak SF Giants system, and taken them all to the playoffs, including this year's Cal League champs. He plays talk down, but is he a future big league manager?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Two in a row for my namesake, because I like the question. It's a great question. If I had to do a list of top manager prospects, he'd be at the head of the list.

 Q:  Dave from New York asks:
It seems to me that Schierholtz has just as good an idea of what he's doing at the plate compared to EME, bats lefty, and has the potential to be a good defender in RF. Why is EME six slots higher than Nate?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Because according to everyone I talked to, he doesn't have just as good an idea of what he's doing at the plate, as his 132-32 K-BB ration shows, compared to EME's 82-89. Big difference. Schierholtz is going to have to tighten up his strike zone to repeat this at Double-A.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Hi Kevin. I noticed that Kendry Morales is not on the list why not? How does Juan Morillo project Frontline Starter or Dominate Closer?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Morales didn't have enough ABs to qualify -- or he would have made it. Most everyone sees Morillo as a reliever in the end, as he currently has no trustable secondary pitches.

 Q:  Bob from McAllen Texas asks:
Please compare this Weaver (Jared) with his brother, Jeff. How similar (if at all) will they be in performance?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I think they're very similar pitchers. Jered looks like he'll be a No. 3 starter in the bigs very soon, and like his brother, who pitched just 36 innings in the minors, he'll get there quickly.

 Q:  Billy Butler from KC, MO asks:
I've done the best I can, I put up stats that probably only Wood can match. I'm ranked #5, a little disappointed. I already prove I can hit in AA. Can you guys tell me why? Stewart and Drew both numbers are not as close to mine, and ranked ahead of me. Why?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Real estate cliche: location, location, location. Prospecting cliche: position, position, position. Drew is a shortstop (or at least a second baseman), while Stewart is a third baseman. Butler is a first baseman at best, and possibly a DH, so all his value is offensively.

 Q:  Tim Fonoi from Honolulu asks:
Did Micah Owings make an impression at all in the short time he was in Lancaster?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Yes -- and a very strong one -- by showing excellent command of a low 90s fastball and a plus change.

 Q:  Bernie from Watertown, Mass asks:
Chris Lubanski hit .301 with 28 homers and 116 rbi as a 20 year old in this league. As a first round pick in 2003 (5th overall) out of high school why is he only 20th on the list ??
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: 1. He played in High Desert and had pretty miserable numbers on the road (.245 w 9 HR). 2. 131 Ks, 38 walks. 3. Nobody think he can stay in centerfield and he has a below average arm. 4. Struggles against lefties.

 Q:  Henry Dauterive from Houston, TX asks:
How close was Garrett Mock to making the list?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Another 21-30 guy. His stuff is right there with some pitchers on this list, but the results just weren't there. He could be a breakout candidate next year as he gets to make his home starts anywhere other than Lancaster.

 Q:  Dave from New York asks:
Were the numbers put up in the league a product of a) serious collection of hitting prospects; b) lack of pitching; c) hitters league; or d) special, one-time allignment of the planets?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: e) All of the above.

 Q:  Ian Stewart from Rockies, CO asks:
Mid-season, I was ranked #3 in Minorleaguebaseball.com, I was hurt beginning of the year and that didn't effect my ranking with Minorleaguebaseball.com Do you guys not like me or something?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Not like you? You're ranked fourth in the league! One of our managing editors yells your name loudly with a bad fake Scottish accent! We're all about love.

 Q:  George Rodriguez from New Jersey asks:
do you feel that the Angels are going to move Brandon Wood to 3rd base???
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: It could happen for a couple of reasons. a. He's got some filling out to do still (a scary proposition for a guy who just led the minors in home runs), b. Organizational depth.

 Q:  Kiwi from Taiwan asks:
Thanks for the chat.What's your opinions about Adam Jones' defense as a shortstop(or where the problem is)? Ane do you think the Mariners will move him to CF with Reed there just because of Betancourt?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He's a good defensive shortstop, but the Ms need centerfielders more than they need shortstops right now. Jones has plenty of athleticism and one of the best arms around, two qualities that should serve him well in the outfield -- I'm a big, big Jones fan.

 Q:  Freddie Roach from San Diego, CA asks:
Did Cesar Carillo spend enough time in the California League to warrant top 20 consideration and what is your impressions of him and his ETA to the majors?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He did not, and he would have made it had he did. He was very impressive in his short pro debut. I could see him up for good by Opening Day 2007.

 Q:  Jennifer from Boulder asks:
Did Seth Smith get any consideration for the list? Does he still profile as a protoypical RF if he can refine his baseball skills?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He did get some consideration. He's a good athlete with excellent bat speed, but some wondered if the power would ever be enough for a major league corner outfielder.

 Q:  not the real Michael Lewis from Dreaming of Beane asks:
By putting Barton "only" 6th and questioning his power potential and size, do you expect a ton of questions from Moneyball wannabes accusing BA of anti-Beane bias?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Sure, why not? Everybody else accuses us of some sort of bias (see Clippard, Tyler). I don't think being sixth on this list is any sort of insult. Barton is one of the best pure hitters in the minors, but we're back to position, position, position.

 Q:  Nelly from Sugarland asks:
Ryan Feierabend and Garrett Mock, both excelled in a "hitters league"...why no love for them?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Mock I've already touched on, but Feierabend is another guy who just missed the cut. Cal League hitters bashed him around to the tune of a .310 average, but he was only 19, took his turn on the bump every five days and showed some pretty good stuff. At least one scout put him down as a MLB starting pitcher.

 Q:  Eugene Hseih from Shanghai asks:
Did Matt Chico redeem himself at all after his demotion?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I think he redeemed himself to the point where he was when the season started, looking like a future No. 4 or 5 starter.

 Q:  Travis Ishikawa's Clone from San Jose, CA asks:
Hey Kevin, do you see me moving up to AA next year or have another year here in SJ? What's your opinion of my overall game?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I'm a big Ishikawa fan, but again, the expectation for a first baseman in today's game are HUGE. Ishikawa was the best defensive 1b in the league, and has one of the prettiest swings you'll see, but he was VERY streaky at the plate and not everyone's convinced he'll have enough pop.

 Q:  Jon from Sacramento asks:
Where any of the A's 1st rd trio of Robnett, Putnam or Suzuki close to making the list? What kind of upsieds do you see for them?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Putnam and Suzuki have been discussed. Robnett is interesting as he's not as good a player as Suzuki or Putnam are right now, but he has a higher ceiling. The A's made some adjustments in his swing late in the season, and he started to show much more power. He's still very raw however, and need to cut down on the strikeouts (151 Ks).

 Q:  Kila Kaaihue's Hawaiian Brother from Hawaii asks:
What's up with my bro not making the list? Do you see some holes in his game that would prevent being listed as a top 20?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: More than one observer compared him to Ishikawa minus the glove and athleticism. So just not enough to make the 20.

 Q:  Ron from Utah asks:
What do you think of Inland Empire's Jason Mackintosh? Do you think that he has the potential to make it to the big leagues?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He's a strike thrower with a pretty complete arsenal, but he lacks that big pitch to project him as more than a reliever.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
How much power does Schierholtz project to have in the majors? Do you see the Giants moving Martinez-Esteve to first base?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Schierholtz has tremendous raw power, but it comes at the expense of bat speed. It takes him a LONG time to get the bat into the zone, and the Giants are working to shorten the swing without costing him pop. EME could move to first, but nobody has faith that his glovework would be any better there.

 Q:  Bob Sacamano from NY, NY asks:
I think Andy Laroche is a better player then Derrick Lee because the Braves have won more games. Your opinion?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Kramer's good friend hammers the point home.

 Q:  PBish from Chicago, IL asks:
Dallas Braden - screwball more comparable to Jim Mecir or Fernando Valenzuela?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Braden does not equal Fernando Valenzuela. He's a nice late-draft find for the A's, and he is a prospect, but his struggles at Midland showed that he's not an elite one.

 Q:  Homer Simpson from Springfield asks:
Did AA prove Montero's Cal League performance to be just smoke and mirrors, or is there any substance at all?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: There plenty of substance there. He made huge strides offensively and defensively, and was hampered by injuries after the promotion. Still, it's just a 12 season, and we need more proof of his ability to do it somewhere other than Lancaster.

 Q:  Magic Mike from New Bern, NC asks:
Hey Kevin. Thanks for taking my question. This past year, many people in baseball have said that Chris Ianetta is going to be an above average Major League catcher. He was selected to the futures game and produced when he was moved up to double A. Why is he ranked at #13 and not higher?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: No. 13 is anything but an insult. 300-400 players were in the Cal League this year and I'm saying only 12 are better. So he's in the 97th percentile. Not bad, huh?

 Q:  James from Minnesota asks:
Can you tell me about Bakersfield OF Anthony Webster? Is he a prospect or just a guy who got hot 2nd half of the year.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He's an excellent athlete who made some adjustments in the second half to re-establilsh himself as a prospect. Double-A will be a huge test next year.

 Q:  Ian from CA asks:
Were either Seth Smith or Joe Gaetti close to making the back end of the Top 20?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Yes and yes. I've already talked about Smith. Gaetti hit over .400 in the second half and finished with some huge numbers, but his age (he turns 24 in a couple weeks) worked against him.

 Q:  Chris from New York City asks:
Brandon Wood obviouly put up monster numbers all year. Why the hesitancy to move him up for the second half of the season. Was there really anything left to prove at A Ball?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Primarily because he was blocked by another pretty darn good shortstop prospect in Aybar at Double-A. When there was a late-season opening at Triple-A Salt Lake, they put Wood there, so they certainly had confidence in him.

 Q:  PBish from Chicago, IL asks:
If Sonnanstine doesn't have an out pitch, how did he strike out 178 guys in 180 innings - smoke and mirrors, hitters feeling sorry for him, any ideas?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: There are plenty of guys who throw a lot of strikes and can change speeds and can spin a breaking ball who pile up a ton of strikeouts in the lower levels, but struggle as they move up. Eventually, you need a pitch that hitters fear.

 Q:  billyshears from New York asks:
Lubanski's numbers look better than his ranking. Was this due purely to homeroad splits or do you feel that his tools have diminished some since he was drafted?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I was talking with MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo about this earlier today. Some tools have diminished (in particular, his once blazing speed), but others have grown. Basically Lubanski is a weird cat in that he's a very very different player right now than the one he was projected to be when he was drafted. He's now a power hitting corner guy, which is not what I think people saw in him back at high school in Pennsylvania.

 Q:  Dave Sanford from Washington, D.C. asks:
What is your impression of how Billy Butler is progressing in the outfield? Do you think he'll ever play a passable left field?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: As one manager put it (and this was one of my favorite quotes from this project), 'Butler is STANDING in left field, but he's not exactly PLAYING left field.' I didn't talk to anyone who thought he could stay there. He's destined for first base and the best, or even DH.

 Q:  Tim from Cali asks:
Just wondering, as an add on to the LaRocheWood question-- how do you see them defensively?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I've been informed via IM from John Manuel that I underestimated Wood's support in general, and most staffers would take him over LaRoche. I think that would apply defensively in an even more emphatic way. John would also like everyone to know that his Scottish accent is 'good'.

 Q:  george from huntsville, alabama asks:
Thanks for the chat. Why does E-M Esteve rank so high, when can't run or throw? Where can he play in the field?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Because, and to quote an AL scout, "that SOB sure can hit." People see a guy who at the plate can hit .300+ with a .400+ OBP and 30+ home runs. That's serious production.

 Q:  Tim from Orange, Ca asks:
Do you think that Kendrick and the Halos would be both better served if Kendrick moved to CF seeing as he isnt exactly Adam Kennedy at 2b?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Kendrick is not a super speedy guy, so if he moves to the outfield, it would probably be in left. Not that I'm saying that is going to happen.

 Q:  The Fake Bill Buckner from The Pitcher's Mound asks:
Hey! I stuck out a billion guys this year, but if I wasn't striking them out, it seems like I was throwing BP. What's my future, and how close was I to this list if not for your obviousl anti-yankee bias? Thanks, and I don't let balls roll through my legs.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Once again, following my personal rule that if the question brings audible laughter from me as I sit alone in my apartment, it gets answered. Buckner struck out 999,999,948 less than a billion batters this year, primarily with a big breaking curve ball, but like you say, he got hit a little too hard to be considered for the top 20.

 Q:  Matt D from Seattle asks:
I'm curious why Asdrubal Cabrera is ranked higher in the CAL League then he was in the Midwest League. He put up much better numbers in Wisconsin, does it mostly have to do with age?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I was waiting for this one. The reasoning for this has multiple facets, and being an anal retentive chatter, I'll resort once again to the numeric list. 1. Jim Callis did the Midwest League list, and I did the California League list. While Jim and I agree on many things to a at times frightening level, we are still different people who see things in different ways. 2. The MWL is a 14 team league, and the Cal League is a 10 team league, so a bigger pot to pull from for Jim. 3. People saw Cabrera at shortstop in California, but he played mostly second at Wisconsin because that team had like a bazillion middle infielders. 4. Cabrera put up better offensive numbers after the promotion.

 Q:  Jessica from The Great NW asks:
Sebastian Boucher and Brian LaHair, were these guys close at all to making the top 20? Boucher's stats look alot like Jeremy Reed's (and Boucher's college stats are identical to what he's flashed in Low and High A this year, making a seemingly easy transition to wood bats)
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Boucher's numbers may LOOK like Jeremy Reed's, but he's only four months younger than Reed, and he's still not out of A ball. LaHair did put up some big numbers overall, but he's a first baseman who needs a platoon partner (hit just .218 vs LHP).

 Q:  George Rodriguez from New Jersey asks:
Is it true the comparison of Daric Barton with Tony Gwynn?Is he that type of hitter?I mean I've seen clips of him and I've seen his stats.Can he be a Tony Gwynn type of hitter with Paul O'neill type of power?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I think that's a pretty silly comp. The numbers may LOOK similar if you crook your head at the right angle, but they're entirely different players. Breaking my comp rule for the 734th time, I'd see him right now as offensively like John Olerud in Olerud's good seasons.

 Q:  Drew W from Washington DC asks:
What are your thoughts on Brad Sullivan?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Obviously, he's never found his stuff from his college days, and had a rough year with face surgery (yes, face surgery) to correct problems he was having stemming from a car accident as a youth. He obviously is a long way from re-establishing himself as the prospect he once was.

 Q:  Drew W from Washington DC asks:
Dustin Majewski or Richie Robnett--both had solid years. Whom do you prefer?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Robnett has the higher ceiling, but Majewski had a nice season, plays an excellent centerfielder, and could make it as a 4th-outfielder type.

 Q:  chris from madison, wi asks:
Jones had a nice break out season. Do scouts see him growing into his frame and hitting for more power as he gets older?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Yes. Many see Jones as being a teenager who already had a very good season in high A and Double-A, yet is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Again, I'm a huge Jones fan.

 Q:  Yvonne from New Jersey asks:
Billy Butler, future All Star or future Ruben Sierra?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Isn't that the same thing? Sierra is a four-time all-star, don't forget about that. However, Butler's game is nothing like Sierra's. The best comp I got for him (breaking the rule again!) is Mike Sweeney.

 Q:  Samantha from Everett asks:
How does Asdrubal Cabrera's bat project? From what I've heard he's a very good defensive shortstop. Does he have the potential to beat out Yuniesky Betancourt for the SS job in Seattle in the next couple years?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He's an excellent defensive shortstop. One of the best around in the minors from what I'm told. Offensively, he knows how to put bat on ball, but he doesn't have power, and he doesn't have a lot of on-base skills. One of those will have to change for him to be more than a bottom-of-the-order hitter, but he's only 19, so there's plenty of room for growth.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa asks:
How close is Brandon Wood to the prospect status of Delmon Young?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Close in the fact that he's among the best prospects in baseball. Far in the fact that I personally think Young is the No. 1 prospect in baseball and nobody else is in consideration for me.

 Q:  Ranger Fan 101 from Arlington asks:
Volquez may have the best stuff of any pitcher currently in the minors, definitely had the best in the Cal League. But can anyone tell me why his K9 is relatively low considering how explosive his stuff has been?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Remember that scene in Amadeus with Mozart is told by Salieri and then the king, 'Too many notes.' It's like that, but it's too many strikes. Volquez need to learn his craft a little better and get hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone when he's ahead in the count as opposed to throwing more pitches in the zone.

 Q:  Ben Hawkins from Babylon asks:
Prediction time: Who will be the #1 prospect in the Cal league next year?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Fun question -- don't hold me to it, but my early top of my head thoughts include Arizona's Carlos Gonzalez, Oakland's Javi Herrera and Seattle's Jeff Clement.

 Q:  Tom Hill, Minor league extraordinaire from Hamilton Sq, NJ asks:
Who starts at catcher in the Arizona fall league, Salty, Montero or Suzuki. My guess is salty.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: That's a pretty wacky set of backstops on one AFL team, huh? But this is the Arizona Fall League, and these are catchers who played a full season already, so I bet they'll all get plenty of PT.

 Q:  x from x asks:
any chance that i'll be seeing schierholtz in AA next year?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Every chance.

 Q:  Jamey Newberg from Dallas asks:
Were Bakersfield 3B Travis Metcalf (whom the Rangers just named their minor league player of the year) or CF Kevin Mahar part of the conversation?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: How can we talk Rangers without talking to Jamey Newberg? Metcalf finished with some nice numbers, and drew raves for his defense at the hot corner, but at 23, people didn't see a whole lot of room for growth. Mahar is a pretty fascinating guy. He's a specimen who two different people compared to Dave Winfield physically, but he's probably not a real centerfielder, is already 24 because of a late entry into pro ball, and he got plenty pull-conscious in the second half, leading to bucketfulls of strikeouts.

 Q:  Fred from Oakland asks:
What has happened with John McCurdy, any hope for him or is he just a 1st round bust?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: and with this, we move into the lightening round. So quick answer questions only!. For example, the answer to this question is: B.

 Q:  Mike from Delaware asks:
John Gragg had an amazing year in High Desert, how close was he to making the top 20, and where do you see him going in the future?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: People liked the power, want to see it's for real before they put a prospect tag on him.

 Q:  John from Young Harris, GA asks:
With Cal league being known as a hitters' league, do you think it helps or hurts a pitcher's future success, both mentally and physically, by passing through the league?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Not a blackwhite issue, depends on makeup. It can really rattle a pitcher, or he can learn from it.

 Q:  Kevin Goldstein's Cat from Kevin Goldstein's Computer asks:
Don't you EVER scare me like that again!
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Great, Pickles is on the computer in the other room again.

 Q:  Matt Macri from ?? asks:
do you answer all questions or do you just pick and chose? only asking because I STILL DON'T KNOW WHERE I AM!!
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: You're right there baby! That's where you are! Few saw Macri as being able to stay at shortstop.

 Q:  ziggy oskwarek from Canaan, CT asks:
In what order would you pick these players as hitters only: Stewart, Barton, Butler, Drew, Wood.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Butler, Wood, Barton, Drew, Stewart

 Q:  Anthony D'Amico from Springfield asks:
What explains the gap between Stephen Drew and Brandon Wood? Power? Injuries? Defense?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Yes, yes, yes, and age.

 Q:  Danny from Jerusalem asks:
Hi Kevin. Were there any pitchers at San Jose that you liked? Reina? Coutlangus? Bateman? Hedrick?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Reina got the most support from scouts.

 Q:  Jamie from Chicago asks:
I think you're comment on Boucher is not fair considering he was in his FIRST season of pro ball, not having played at all in 2004 due to visa issues. That aside, what were managers saying about him? Ceiling?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: People thought he could make it as a bench player4th outfielder type. Now, was it fair of your to compare Boucher's college performance to Reed's when Reed did it at Long Beach State and Boucher did it at Bethune-Cookman?

 Q:  Jaime from Chicago, IL asks:
Did Mumba Rivera come close to making the cut?I know he suffered from some wildness, but word is he was 91-94.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: He did not. But his name is Mumba, so I'm rooting for him.

 Q:  chris from madison, wi asks:
do i need to submit a question(s) as one of your favorite postersnames to get a question answered?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: No, you do not. See?

 Q:  Coolio Thompson from New Jersey asks:
Delmon or Brandon? Who and why?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Delmon -- look what he did this year at the level he did it while being younger than Wood.

 Q:  Luke from Tatooine asks:
Who is closer to the majors: Stephen Drew or Brandon Wood?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Drew.

 Q:  KD from Belview asks:
SO has I.Stewarts stock dropped out of the top 10 prospects in the league??? Or would you say these rankings are for just the years they had and not the overall potential of the player...
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: These rankings ARE on future potential, not just what they did this year.

 Q:  Will Smith from Belaire, CA asks:
You mentioned that people like John Gragg's power? What power? He's a left-handed pitcher who throws 88-89.
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: You're right, I had a total brain fart, 150 minutes of chatting will do that, and when you said John Gragg, I thought Adam Keim. It happens and I apologize. Gragg's ability to just survive in High Desert impressed some, but his inability to miss bats leaves his prospect status bleak.

 Q:  Drew W from Washington DC asks:
Does Brad Knox have the stuff to make it to the bigs?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: I think so, but more likely as a long reliever

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Kevin. Is Kendrick going to one day play first and if he does with his ability to hit could he one day be a poor man's version of Albert Pujols?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: uh, no. He has power, but nothing like that. I think Kendrick is a FANTASTIC prospect, a offensive-minded second baseman who could contend for batting titles while hitting 15-20 home runs a year.

 Q:  Richard from Manhattan, KS asks:
Yesno question. The Rockies have a bunch of guys who project as power relievers. Considering Coors Field, this doesn't seem like such a bad idea. AgreeDisagree?
 A: 

Kevin Goldstein: Yes-no or Agree-Disagree, make up your mind! My answer is yes. My other answer is agree.

Kevin Goldstein: That's all folks, thanks for all the great questions. Alan Matthews will be in the house on Monday to talk about the Eastern League, which unlike the California League, had a whole bunch of quality arms.

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