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AFL Prospect Chat with Chris Kline

Moderator: Chris Kline will begin taking your AFL questions at 12 p.m ET

 Q:  Jim S. from Milwaukee, WI asks:
I am very interested to hear about the progress of Adam Miller. He was highly regarded before his arm problems at the beginning of the season and was supposed to be back at full strength for the Fall League. Is he fully recovered or are there lingering health concerns? Does he still project as a #1 starter or should expectations be lowered?
 A: 

Chris Kline: There are no health issues with Miller. He's fine and was throwing consistently in the mid to upper 90s. Secondary stuff still needs work. Still a No. 1, though his changeup still lags behind a bit. But then again . . . he's 20.

 Q:  Phil from Reisterstown, MD asks:
Couple of Os questionsit isnt ridiculous to say Nick Markakis is the best OF in the organization NOW. How would you look on the prospect of him in the 2006 Os everyday lineup? Adam Loewens contract will require the Os to keep him on the big league roster for 2007do you think hell be ready by then? Obviously, control seems to be the main thing he has to work on.
 A: 

Chris Kline: I'm not sure Markakis has superstar potential, but he's more of a steady everyday player that will hit for average with some pop. I think throwing him in for Opening Day might be a little bit of a stretch, but if there's one guy in the organization that could handle that jump mentally, it's Markakis. All indications are that Loewen appears to finally be on the fast track. He still walked a lot of guys in the AFL, but he wasn't wild. His control was actually much better over the course of 2005, and he made adjustments in his delivery to get a more consistent release point. If he keeps up what he's been doing--and confidence is a HUGE factor when talking Loewen--he could definitely be ready by '07.

 Q:  Jason from Castro Valley, CA asks:
Whoa, no Andre Ethier in the Top 20? How close did he come to making the list? Seems to me like he has Left Field nailed down for the A's in 2007 since Jay Payton is a 1 year rental.
 A: 

Chris Kline: I figured there'd be some Ethier outrage, and rightly so. He was definitely in the mix, and that emerging power is hard to ignore. So is the plate discipline. But the league was so much deeper this year compared to last year. To give you some insight, I struggled to rank 20 players in 2004. This year, I started off with 46 . . .

 Q:  Bill Mitchell from Tempe, AZ asks:
Chris, thanks for the chat. What was the biggest disappointment from your recent trip to Arizona --- not getting to interview Prince Fielder or missing the opportunity to drink a Pumpkin Porter with your favorite BA photographer? Now for the serious question --- I saw Bill Murphy pitch several times. Sometimes he was lights out and dominant. Other games it looked like he didn't know how to get anyone out. Which is closer to the real Bill Murphy, and is he a future starter or destined to be a middle reliever type?
 A: 

Chris Kline: I think I was a little more bummed about missing out on the porter--and no disrespect to Prince. I think Murphy really started to turn a corner this fall. During the regular season he was awful, but he got some of that confidence back. Any time you can shut down some of the lineups in the AFL, that's going to happen. I still think he's destined for a middle relief role, however. Stamina and the body are issues.

 Q:  Cornell 44 from Delmizzle, FL asks:
Chris: What has happened to Clevelands Adam Miller? His fastball may not register 101 mph at this time, but 94-97 is still fast enough to set up his wicked slider. No matter where he played in 2005, he has been pretty much hammered by opposing bats. Is he on a downward spiral, or is he still figuring things out command-wise?
 A: 

Chris Kline: No downward spiral . . . Miller is fine. Stop wigging out, dude. He's still trying to get the command of his slider back and keep throwing his changeup to make it a viable weapon.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Jeff Salazar really disappointed me with his AFL performance, after a mediocre regular season. He could take the CF job next year if he wanted to, but he just hasn't done anything to show that he wants to. What did scouts think about him in the AFL?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Bad pitch recognition, poor zone discipline, some head movement in his swing. He was not good in CF in terms of good jumps and routes to balls. Not on him.

 Q:  Cornell 44 from Delmizzle, FL asks:
Chris: How much risk is there in reading Brandon Woods stats without assuming that his aggressively impatient plate discipline will catch up to him when he steps outside the confines of a hitters league?
 A: 

Chris Kline: That was a big concern with scouts, particularly veteran guys. Some worry whenever that much power potential comes so early. If you can pick out one thing about Wood, it's the strikeout numbers. I'm not totally sold on him because of the reason you mentioned, and it will be intriguing to see how he hits in the Texas League next season.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Thanks for the chat! Where did Corey Hart and Alcides Escobar fit onto the AFL top prospect scene? Also, where do you think Prince Fielder would have landed on the list had he played the entire season?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Hart was 20-30, Escobar was in the next tier. If Fielder played, he would have been a top 10 guy.

 Q:  Rick from Kansas City asks:
Alex Gordon has never played in a standard minor league and only had 50 AB's with lukewarm results in Arizona. Is he really THAT good to let scouts still jump him ahead of stud prospects like Kendrick, Millings etc.??
 A: 

Chris Kline: Wow. Yes. Big time power, solid defender at third. Early on, he wasn't--just all pull power, and he's still got some weaknesses at the plate. But he's the total package. He's THAT good.

 Q:  Rocco from Da' Village, NY asks:
How great was it to see the Hawaiian Punch-out resurrect his career? Where do you see him fitting in at the major league level?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Also being from Hawaii, it was AWESOME. Up to 93-94 consistently. I see him as a back end of the rotation guy or a long reliever down the road . . . but he could be a solid 4 or 5.

 Q:  Brian from New York asks:
In reviewing the rosters and seeing some games in Phoenix late last month, I'm convinced that 2005 will go down as the greatest AFL season in terms of raw talent (at least for hitting). Every one of your Top 20 AFL prospects is a legit talent, many with superstar capabilities, and I'm betting that players 21-40 are almost as recognizable. Can you think of any other AFL season that had this much talent?
 A: 

Chris Kline: It was definitely up there. I was just going over the top 10 lists last night, and I think this could be the deepest from 1-20.

 Q:  Rob from Evanston, IL asks:
Chris Young's stats weren't all that great in the AFL. Is it possible that he was tiring out after a full minor league season?
 A: 

Chris Kline: A lot of these guys were tired--playing with fatigue is a huge barometer for clubs to see how players respond. Ryan Zimmerman had the best quote on that--(I'm totally paraphrasing): "If I want to know what it takes to play deep into October, this is what I've got to do." It's one of the reasons the league is valuable. But on this list the two guys who showed outward signs of fatigue were Young and Andy LaRoche.

 Q:  NOWHERE MAN from NOWHERE LAND asks:
Do you think Millege's strong performance and the trading of Mike Cameron will give Millege an outside chance of making the Mets next season?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Not out of spring training. I think he's a September callup in 2006.

 Q:  Ohad from Oakland asks:
Where would Andre Ethier slot in the AFL list? 20-30? What about Shane Komine?
 A: 

Chris Kline: I had him at 22. Komine was right around 30.

 Q:  Steve from Dallas asks:
True or False. Billy Butler will be the Royals' full time DH within 2 years.
 A: 

Chris Kline: Well, you just don't walk into the big leagues as a DH. And Butler is brutal anywhere in the field. But his bat is too valueable. I'm interested to see if they move him to first how he is over there--what the heck, I'll go with true. If anyone can break tradition, it's Butler's bat.

 Q:  Mike from SoCal asks:
Do you think Ian Stewart could see Coors Field by August?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Wrist injuries scare me, and Stewart's was a tweak of an injury that occurred earlier this year, which makes me even more cautious when looking at how soon he'll be up there. If he's healthy, he's a September callup, but there are questions. Be cautiously optimistic.

 Q:  NOWHERE MAN from NOWHERE LAND asks:
which prospect has gained the most and which one has lost teh most based on AFL performances?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Performances really don't matter that much in the AFL. They're important, but clubs base it more around how the player did in making adjustments on a part of his game he was working on, or how he handled himself maturity-wise. Performance is secondary in this league. Development and instruction are the biggest things.

 Q:  Bob from Donegal, Ireland asks:
No love for James Loney? I would have thought that coming off of an unimpressive stint in AA this year and rising from the ashes of the taxi squad in the AFL to smack that tater around like he did would get in into the Top 20. Unless Colletti trades him for a bag of balls and sunflower seeds, I would have thought that his sweet glove and low salary would give him more than a puncher's chance of making an impact this upcoming season? A better OPPORTUNITY than others on this list to make an impact in 2006.... where is my logic flawed?
 A: 

Chris Kline: I like Loney, and I think I'm in the minority in the BA office on this stance. I still believe he'll be a quality player in the big leagues, and I'm going to really go out on a limb and say that I think he's going to hit for power. Scouts don't like the fact that everything he does in his swing is too easy--there is no whip--like he isn't even trying. But everything's smooth and very fluid. I think a high average and 20 homers annually are what you can expect from Loney . . . but not next year.

 Q:  Lance from Springfield, pick a state asks:
I know Craig Hanson wasn't in the AFL, but you mentioned Huston Street in your wrap up. Compare, and who would you rather have?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Street. Bigger games, better makeup.

 Q:  Heath from Fort Meade, FL asks:
What kind of offensive production could be in the future for raw athletes Adam Jones and Matt Kemp?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Just have to share . . . I couldn't get Internet access at my hosue today, so I had to go to a freakin' Panera to do this chat . . . The guy on the mic is KILLING me . . . "Matt? . . . Matt? . . . Matt . . . Your sandwich is ready. Kathy? Kathy? Kathy . . . your sandwich is ready." Brutal . . . I think you'll see big power numbers from Kemp, while Jones should hit for some power, but for a higher average with some steals. Kemp is a middle-fo-the-order run producer, Jones is a top-of-the-order threat with gap power--perfect for Seattle.

 Q:  Ryan Hunt from Winter Haven, Florida asks:
Do you think the Dodgers will give LaRoche a legitimate chance to win the third base job in Spring Training?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Looks that way--they're still teetering on sending him to the Dominican, though. And he was tired in the fall--I just think if they want him to compete for the 3B job in 2006, they need to shut him down now.

 Q:  ZACH from DC asks:
I KNOW THAT ZIM CAN CAN HIT FOR AVRG...BUT CAN DO YOU THINK HE HAS THE POWER TO EVER BE A 25-30 HR 3B FOR THE NATIONALS
 A: 

Chris Kline: Well, that's the big question. And I think he can. I don't think you'll see it early in his career, but as he gets more and more experience, he'll figure things out. There's plenty of power in his bat, I just think it's going to take a little time to see the results. But he makes super-quick adjustments--the big leagues in two months? Are you serious? And even if he doesn't hit for crazy power, he's one of the best defenders in the game.

 Q:  Dave from Pittsburgh asks:
Is Brad Eldred even a prospect? I see a 25 year old with little plate discipline, a slow bat(likely to get slower over the years), and a bad glove. Why is seemingly every fan in Pittsburgh so excited about his potential?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Because he's huge, has huge raw power and is a blue collar player who plays hard everyday--perfect fit for Pittsburgh. His plate discipline isn't that bad, it's the pitch recognition that is a little suspect. That's why he's in Mexico right now--hoping to hone that, just like Dan Johnson (A's) and Jonny Gomes (D-Rays) did in 2004.

 Q:  Pete from NYC asks:
I am certainly one who does not subscribe to the anti-Yankee bias myth, but no Eric Duncan on this list? I thought he was overpromoted last season but had an excellent campaign in the AFL.
 A: 

Chris Kline: Pete, No doubt Duncan had a huge year (rumor is he's going to be named the MVP of the AFL at the winter meetings), he's young and he's a legit bat. But it's a legit bat with a lot of holes--the same ones that were there in Double-A this year when he hit .235 with power. Scouts I talked to weren't on him because they didn't see him make any adjustments--he took advantage of poor pitching and hitter-friendly parks like a lot of guys. I just think right now, as he goes back to Trenton, he does the same things because he has the same weaknesses. And he was brutal defensively at first . . . but that wasn't the reason he didn't make the list--he's the same .235 hitter that just had his value seriously inflated if you go solely on the numbers.

 Q:  Austin Johnston from San Antonio, TX asks:
Why is Butler so far down on the list? He had bit of a "down" fall league, sure, but come on, the guy can rake. I'm a Royals fan so I really like Gordon at number 2, but why so down on Butler? Is it because of his fall performance or some other reason?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Lack of position and some makeup issues . . . a lot of scouts had questions about the maturity.

 Q:  Zach from MN asks:
How close was Glen Perkins to making this list. I believe he led the league in K's and posted a very nice 2.57 era in a hitter friendly league?
 A: 

Chris Kline: He came off at the last second. Perkins showed solid stuff out there. He's a legit No. 3 or 4.

 Q:  Mitch from St. Paul asks:
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting today that Jason Kubel will not be anywhere near ready to go by Spring Training. Have heard anything about his progress?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Have nnot, Mitch--but thanks for the heads up . . . I'll be delving into this soon.

 Q:  Stu from Edina asks:
How close was Denard Span from making the list. He's never discussed as a top prospect, but seemed to hold his own in the AFL...
 A: 

Chris Kline: He was on my original list. He finally seems like he's figuring some things out, including really believing that he made the right decision to play baseball. He's a lot more confident in his abilities now. He needs to work on some things with his swing--he'll never hit for power, but he holds his hands apart right now to compensate for a weak top hand. Never discussed as a prospect? We're all over Denard, dude.

 Q:  rob yontz from st louis mo asks:
How much did Kevin Howard increase his stock in the AFL? Down the road, he looks to be a cross between Adam Kennedy and Chase Utley.
 A: 

Chris Kline: Rob-- A lot, just from a versatility standpoint. i don't think he's an everyday player though. He's more a utility guy for me.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
Scott Mathieson ahead of LaRoche and Butler? Is he that good?
 A: 

Chris Kline: He was the biggest buzz among scouts in the league. It's a bold move, but I like taking chances . . . makes doing this more fun. LaRoche and Butler are huge talents, and Mathieson has a chance to be something really special. I'll take that gamble on 96, power slider and a good feel for a changeup at his age.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Was Tripper Johnson in your top 46?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Gotta go to the lightning round--would stick around all day, but I have to hit the road for early Thanksgiving with my family in the Northeast . . . Mike . . . in a word, no. i like Tripper a little bit, but he was overshadowed in this league.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Why so high on Chris Young? His tools certainly haven't led to the type of production I would expect out of someone ranked higher than Markakis, Butler, and Barton.
 A: 

Chris Kline: The athleticism and the power. Better all-around player that Butler and Barton, better defender with a higher value (power-wise) than Markakis.

 Q:  Mark M from Pittsburgh asks:
Why isnt Neil Walker or Adam Boeve on the list?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Walker's transfer and release were sketchy at times, and his throws were often erratic as a result. He took ground balls at third base later in the fall, which would decrease his overall value. Boeve has always been a little too oldfor whatever level he's been in. I like him a little, but he needs to play with guys that are closer to being peers.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Where does Jered Weaver start the year next year? Was his ERA due to the league context or flukey, given his peripherals? Still a future #2? Also, I see you have him ranked lower than Adam Loewen, is that because of their respective ceilings?
 A: 

Chris Kline: I think he starts in Triple-A. ERA was due to elevating his fastball and throwing flat sliders that got hit hard. Future No. 2? No, like a No. 4. Loewen has a chance to be better--younger, power lefty.

 Q:  Tom James from NY asks:
What did scouts have to say about Eric Duncan's bat, and are those adjustment Duncan talked about making at the plate, in the interview you guys did with him, the reason he had a great AFL? and will it transfer over to 2006?
 A: 

Chris Kline: See, it's difficult to evaluate hitters in this league simply because of the quality of pitching, the Ques-tec system that virtually takes away balls on the corners, and the hitter-friendly parks in AZ. Duncan no doubt took advantage of hitting a lot of fastballs--which is to his credit. How much did he really develop, though? Scouts saw the same flaws in him that they saw in Double-A. I left him off this list for that reason--this is a developmental league and while he might have made some strides--especially from a confidence standpoint--he wasn't a top 20 guy for me.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Who makes you wince more in the field, Billy Butler or Daric Barton?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Defensively? Fly balls hit to Butler--ones he has to get on his horse a little bit to get after. Those are interesting. On the bases? Both.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Chris: Assuming Angel Guzman can stay healthy for a whole year, do you expect him to be with the Cubs soon? And how did Eric Patterson look in the AFL? I'm a little worried that he gets infatuated with the home runs and pulling too many balls like his brother.
 A: 

Chris Kline: I think Guzman rekindled some of his buzz, but he's still a guy I wouldn't count on contributing any time soon. His velocity was back, command was sketchy at times . . . confidence with his secondary stuff is going to be huge for him. Eric Patterson could be Brandon Phillips.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Your best guess as to how Adam Loewen adjusts to AA next year...?
 A: 

Chris Kline: 12-8, 3.67, 141 IP, 160 K, 68 BB

 Q:  Dave Regan from Ventura, CA asks:
Chris - Thanks for the chat. Why don't you just call this the "Who Has the Bigger Name and was Drafted Higher" Top 20? That's the only explanation for slighting Matt Kemp by placing him below a guy who hit .252 and doesn't play defense (Billy Butler). Why no love for Kemp?
 A: 

Chris Kline: No love for Kemp would have been leaving him off this list.

 Q:  Brian from Walnut Crek,ca asks:
Is Howie Kendrick Major League ready now if the Angels decide to trade Adam Kennedy ?
 A: 

Chris Kline: The bat is. The glove needs more innings at a higher level.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Do you think the Indians will give Ryan Garko a chance to be their full-time first baseman or is he more likely to platoon? And do you like Duke to win the NCAA title?
 A: 

Chris Kline: The Indians expect Garko to be ready by June at the latest. he is likely to platoon. I pick Duke, but my heart belongs to Temple.

 Q:  Dave from Rochester, NY asks:
Where's Duncan?
 A: 

Chris Kline: I think in West Orange, NJ.

 Q:  Jeremy from Castro Valley asks:
Is Salt the best catcher in the minors? Where do you rank him with mathis, martin, and walker?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Personally for me it's Martin, Salty, Mathis, Walker.

 Q:  Mike from Plymouth, MI asks:
How did scouts view the Tigers' Humberto Sanchez? Where did he end up falling your list? Thanks Chris, keep up the great work!
 A: 

Chris Kline: Liked him--big velocity, decent secondary stuff. It's just the body that causes some worry . . .

 Q:  Daren from Atlanta, GA asks:
What happened to Brad Snyder? He had a better AFL season and with his ability to play 3 outfield positions and power potential, its hard for me to see Adam Jones being ranked higher.
 A: 

Chris Kline: It's a valid point. To me, No. 20 always goes to an interesting guy--someone to kind of keep an eye on down the road. Jones was a perfect 20 for me--very athletic with a new position he's getting used to--and has a hose in CF. Snyder was probably the best I've seen him--and I've seen him the last two years, so I'm very familiar with his body of work. I don't mean to dis Snyder in anyway, I'm very high on him--he's the top position player in that org--but this league was too deep and Jones has the higher ceiling as a middle-of-the-diamond talent.

 Q:  Larry Manetti from Anaheim, CA asks:
I don't understand all the questions about Kendry Morales. He's raked everywhere he's played, then hits almost .400 in the AFL. Yeah, the D might not be there, but how can anyone question his bat?
 A: 

Chris Kline: If you saw his stance, you'd have some questions. He has a lot of movement to his swing--head, hands, feet all in motion. Yeah, he rakes, but there are questions about him carrying that into the higher levels. He's a seasoned guy who raked at high A and some in AA. Let's see what he does against some quality pitches. I just think he's overvalued. Bad body, not athletic, makeup questions.

 Q:  Matt from Wolfpack Land asks:
Are there any future superstars among these 20 players?
 A: 

Chris Kline: Last question . . . Of all these guys, I think Zimmerman, Gordon and Kendrick have the biggest potential to be all-star caliber players. Thanks for all the questions. And if we don't talk, have a great Thanksgiving. Top 30s roll on beginning Monday . . . get ready. Sorry I have no cool rap quotes to end with . . . Meyers is just so much cooler than me . . . OUT. CK

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