Florida Marlins Top 10 Prospects

Moderator: Mike Berardino will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

Moderator: Hello, everyone. Thanks for being here. Looks like we have a lot of questions, so I'll get started.

 Q:  Dave from Savannah asks:
Do you see Jeremy Hermida as a Shawn Green type player, or do you think he'll hit for less power and more average...a la Tony Gwynn?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: I'm not sure if he'll end up as a 40-homer guy, but from all indications Hermida should be a 25-30 homer guy in the majors. He projects as more of a Green type -- his favorite player by the way -- than a Gwynn type. Either way, it looks like the Marlins have something special on their hands.

 Q:  Michael from Chicago asks:
Although he was traded away to Baltimore - where would Denny Bautista have fallen on the Marlins Top Ten List?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Interesting question. He had a little problem with his side in the second half and some control problems along with it, but I'd guess Bautista would have slotted in at No. 4 behind Hermida, Stokes and Allison. Don Levinski, the other pitcher in that Conine trade, probably would have been around 7 or 8.

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
What is the future of Jeff Allison?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: The Marlins will take things slowly with their much-hyped high school prodigy. Allison signed in late July and only made three starts in the Gulf Coast League due to some minor shoulder tendinitis. He'll probably start out at low-A Greensboro next year, but if there's any warning signs at all, the Marlins will keep him behind at extended spring training. From there, his success will dictate how quickly he moves through the system.

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
What is Jason Stokes ETA to the major leagues?
 A: 

Moderator: There's still a chance Stokes will be in the majors at some point in 2004, but more likely that will be a September callup and nothing more. He had a disappointing year at Jupiter, then struggled badly in the Arizona Fall League. He has to regain the momentum he built up with a monster 2002 in the Midwest League. With Derrek Lee on the trading block, the Marlins will probably move Jeff Conine to first next season. With conine signed through 2005 at $3 million a year, there's no reason to rush Stokes.

 Q:  Joe from Knoxville, Tenn asks:
What is the statusoutlook for Marlins pitcher Garrett Berger? He was sidelined w Tommy John surgery following the 2001 draft.
 A: 

Moderator: The man known as "Chunk" has had a hard time making it back so far, which is a shame. I really like the kid and his family. Unfortunately, he had bad control problems this year in the GCL and posted a 9.15 ERA in 14 outings. He received no support whatsoever for the Marlins Top 30 prospects list, so he'll drop off this year. Here's hoping he makes it back on the list next winter.

 Q:  Aaron from The Island asks:
How good can the future Marlins lineup be with Jeremy Hermida, Miguel Cabrera, and Jason Stokes in the 3,4, and 5 spots? Who will have the biggest impact at the major league level?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Much depends, of course, on who else surrounds that potential middle of the order, but yes, that could be a daunting trio. Judging from what Cabrera has already done at age 20, I'd have to stick with him as the "impact" choice of those three. Hermida would come next.

 Q:  Glenn from Frankfort asks:
Which current ML pitcher is Jeff Allison the most similar to? What is his ETA? Do you think he can be a legit #1 starter? Thanks!
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Everybody says this kid is the Hub version of Josh Beckett, and after what we saw last month the Marlins have to be pretty excited about that. Like Josh, Allison is cocky and talented. Both were tested at high levels during their prep careers. Both throw in the mid to high 90s with big-breaking curveballs. Beckett was the more physically developed of the two coming out of high school, but Allison's work ethic and desire will help him narrow the gap. ETA? Just a guess, but I could see him making it to the majors by the end of 2005. Beckett reached the bigs at the end of his second pro season. Allison actually has a little bit of a head start with those three GCL outings. Can he be a No. 1? It's VERY early, but he certainly fits the profile.

 Q:  Mark from Milford, CT asks:
Justin Wayne dropped off this year's Top 10 list and performed poorly during his April callup. If the Marlins trade Penny or Redman in the offseason, would he be in the competition for a rotation spot?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: A year ago I would have said yes, without a doubt, but Wayne's stock has plummeted. He barely held onto the end of the Top 30 list this time after making the Top 10 a year ago. Wayne could get back in the mix, but he has to prove a lot to the Marlins before they'll assume anything about him again. One thing in his corner, though, is owner Jeffrey Loria. Wayne is a big Loria favorite.

 Q:  Charles from Baton Rouge asks:
It is hard to get excited about Jay Miller because so many multi sport ahtletes have jumped ship, for example Brian West (White Sox)is playing linebacker for LSU, does this scare the Marlins.
 A: 

Mike Berardino: I know where you're coming from, especially when you look back at the likes of Josh Booty, Patrick Pass and John Lynch. But Marlins officials believe Miller genuinely wants to play baseball. It's not like he signed only for the money. A quarter million in this environment is a modest sum, especially when compared with the opportunity for a Stanford education. Marlins area scout Dave Dangler did a great job assessing the situation and getting to know Miller's father. When the Marlins asked if Miller would commit to them for the next five years, the father apparently stared right back and wanted to know if the Marlins would be as committed to his son. The Marlins people in the room loved that response.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Mike, I know you mentioned Jeff Allison didn't have to throw his changeup in high school. How is the pitch developing and can it be above average?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Allison's change is still in the nascent stages but considering his talent level and ability to soak up knowledge, mastering the change should be no problem for him given sufficient time. If the Marlins didn't think Allison could wind up with three above-average pitches, they wouldn't have given him $1.85 million to sign.

 Q:  Adam Hunt from Mount Pleasant asks:
Do you think that the Phish can afford to keep there team together (Pudge, Castillo and anyone else due a new contract or pay raise) and who could be an in house replacement for anyone that they can not resign?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Now that Andy Fox has already signed with the Rangers, it would cost roughly $86 million to keep the World Series winners together next year. My information suggests owner Jeffrey Loria is only willing to authorize a $60 million payroll (max) next year, and that includes $11 million in deferred payments to Pudge and Mike Hampton. That's a lot of talent to lose, regardless of market size. As for in-house replacements, Ramon Castro would replace Pudge if he doesn't return -- which I believe is a much longer shot than him returning. Triple-A middle infielder Wilson Valdez would get the first in-house crack at replacing Castillo, although he has even less pop than Louie. Chris Aguila could make the club as an extra outfielder at some point next year. I also think a strong spring could catapult Frank Gracesqui onto the big league roster as a situational lefty.

 Q:  jimmy from wichita KS asks:
do you think that kevin hooper fits the david Eckstein mold? Will he play in the big leagues? Can you tell me of any other middle infielders in the minor leagues that are like Eckstein and Hopper?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Absolutely, Hooper reminds you of Eckstein. Unfortunately, the Little Big Man had a disappointing '03 at Albuquerque, and there are now serious questions about his bat. He will be 27 on Opening Day, and Wilson Valdez has bypassed him as the top in-house replacement possibility for Castillo. I sincerely hope Hooper gets a big-league shot, but he could wind up as more of a utility man. As for the rest of the minors, I did that story back in the spring and came up with the following names: second baseman Johnny Raburn (Brewers), Astros second baseman Brooks Conrad, Rangers Triple-A second baseman Jeff Pickler, Dodgers Triple-A 2B Joe Thurston. There could be more out there now, but I'm not sure.

 Q:  Marlinfan from south beach asks:
Who are some players not mentioned in the top 10 who have a chance to make a big jump during the next season?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: There operative phrase there is "big jump." Don't look for any Willis-Cabrera type payoffs from the system next year, but I'd venture to say you could see a few of the following in the majors at some point in '04: OF Chris Aguila, IF Wilson Valdez, LHP Frank Gracesqui, RHP Kevin Cave, RHP Mike Flannery, RHP Jason Grilli, IF Kevin Hooper and maybe even OF Chip Ambres.

 Q:  Jim from Delaware asks:
How can Phil Akens not be in the top 10 when he lead the entire Marlins minor leagues in innings pitched and wins being only 20 years old averaging 6 innings per start?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Sorry to disappoint you, but it doesn't look like Akens is going to make the Top 30 either. Organization sources tell me he's still immature and in need of a much better breaking ball. His change is solid and the results were impressive, but there are still widespread doubts about him at this point.

 Q:  Michael from Chicago asks:
Does Flordia have a minor league pitcher that will be able to crack into and hold onto a top five starting pitcher spot in 2004?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Possibly Trevor Hutchinson, who is extremely advanced and about as polished as he's going to get. Maybe Justin Wayne, if he gets his act together. Can't see anybody else breaking in so soon.

 Q:  AL from NYC asks:
Is it me or does Josh Willingham's profile bare at least a slight reseblance to Mike Piazza's? If Pudge was to leave, any chance he sticks out of spring training?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Whoa there, fella. While both converted to catcher in the minors and overcame late-round biases, Piazza's production was well beyond Willingham's at an earlier age. When Piazza hit 29 homers at Bakersfield in 1991, he was 22. Willingham opened last year in A-ball and will be 25 next Opening Day. No way Willingham sticks out of spring training, Pudge or no Pudge. He still needs polish behind the plate and at the plate. A midyear arrival, though, could happen if Pudge walks.

 Q:  Jack from Greensboro asks:
I watched many Greensboro games this season and really like both Hermida and Olsen. One player who caught my eye even though he struggled some during the season was the catcher Patrick Arlis. It appeared he could really catch and throw and seemed like he handled pitchers really well. What is the org. view on him?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Arlis received no support for the Top 30 list. He is an organizational guy at this point. There are well-placed doubts about his hitting ability. Check out that strikeoutwalk ratio last year (6117).

 Q:  Quinn from WPB FL. asks:
How did the Marlins get so fooled with U.Powell?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: First of all, plenty of teams saw their Dominican prospects age overnight. Phony names (his real one is Juan Lindesay) are pretty common too in this post 911 era. However, there could still be some hope for PowelLindesay. He didn't make the top 30 this year, but one Marlins source raved about his defensive potential, saying he had Vladimir Guerrero's body and Andre Dawson's throwing form and arm. The bat could take awhile.

 Q:  Jack from Greensboro asks:
Based on stuff, where does Scott Olsen rank with other lhp's Kazmir, Hamels, Miller, Jones?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Olsen doesn't have electric stuff, like some of those other guys you mentioned, but it's much improved from when he signed for $160,000. With his intelligence, frame and work ethic, no one should bet against Olsen beating some more heralded lefties to the majors.

 Q:  ROBERT J EVANS JR from ARCADIA , CA asks:
HOW DO YOU THINK ADRIAN GONZALEZ & WILL SMITH WOULD HAVE RANKED ON THE TOP TEN LIST. THANKS ROBERT
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Gonzalez took off again after the Marlins traded him, so he might have wound up beating out Stokes for No. 2, although I doubt it. Smith made the back end of the Top 10 a year ago and might have stayed about the same. Or maybe a few spots lower.

 Q:  Dude from GA asks:
How does Josh Johnson compare with other minor league pitchers his age? How high of a ceiling does he have in a young, talented, and soon to be crowded Marlins rotation?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Can't answer the first part. That's for the scouting savants at BA, not me. I can tell you the Marlins are pleased with Johnson so far and see him developing into a Carl Pavano-type down the road. He commands his fastball at 88-92 mph, mixing in a developing changeup and an average slider that showed signs of improvement late in the year. He projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter in the majors.

 Q:  Adam Hunt from Mount Pleasant asks:
Do the Marlins have any prospects who just missed the Top 10 that could take off next year a la Jason Stokes 2001 or Denny Bautista last year?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: I'd suggest a handful of possible sleepers. 2B Cole Seifrig just missed the top 10 out of this year's draft class. 3B Lee Mitchell was very impressive as well in his first summer out of the University of Georgia. Alabama HS lefty Jon-Michael Nickerson could be next year's Scott Olsen. Converted pitcher Chris Resop, who was throwing 95 at Greensboro shortly after ditching his outfield career, is another one to keep an eye on.

 Q:  Quinn from WPB FL. asks:
Do the Marlins have any interesting kids coming out of D.R,Venezuela,or elsewhere?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: I assume you mean the summer leagues down there. If not, I apologize in advance. No one who pushed to make the Top 10 or anything, but I heard good things about a DSL shortstop named Jose Campusano. He's a switch-hitter in the Tony Fernandez mold, but he could be stronger. A 20-year-old RHP named Ecequier Pie coudl bear watching, as could a 19-year-old RHP named Jose Garcia (7411 KBB ratio).

 Q:  Greg from Fort Dodge, IA asks:
How do you see Marlins righthander Nic Ungs future playing out after being named the FSL pitcher of the year?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Ungs, 24, is not considered a prospect at this point. He did, however, earn the nod for best control in the organization. I still can't get over his 400 KBB ratio in his first pro season.

 Q:  David Malamut from Voice of A Season Ticket Holder-Kane County Cougars asks:
What are the winter league assignments. and who needs to have a good winter season to make a positive impression on the Marlins. Plus what happend to the star of Kevin Hooper
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Hooper struggled with the bat in the PCL last year, and when you have his tiny toolbox you can't afford any negatives. He has given way to Wilson Valdez as Luis Castillo's possible successor, but no one should ever count Hoop out. As for winter ball, Yorman Bazardo is off to a good start in venezuela. Ronald Belizario is pitching for Zulia in the same league and showing some early control woes. Derek Wathan could play his way into big league UT status with a strong Puerto Rican showing; he was hitting .379 in his first 29 at-bats. Ramon Castro was hitting .389 through 18 ABs in Puerto Rico, and the Marlins would go with him if Pudge Rodriguez leaves as a free agent.

 Q:  Adam Ottavino from Northeastern U asks:
What do you make of the fact that the Marlins drafted three third baseman in the top 10 rounds in Cole Seifrig, Lee Mitchell and Jason Restko? How does this cause some potential problems? Also do yoiu think Jonathn Fulton can stay a shortstop for his career or will he have to make a move which could overlap woth my first question? Thanks a lot
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Restko projects as more of a 1B-LF in the Richie Sexson mold. Seifrig is playing second and will stay there for now. Mitchell played a good bit of shortstop at Jamestown to make room for young Pablo Sosa, but Mitchell will stay at third long term. Fulton will stay at SS for now but could move to the corner in due time.

 Q:  Rick from Oakville, Ontario asks:
Will Josh Willingham be a good enough catcher to stay at that position?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: I talked to Josh recently and he was very encouraged by his showing in the Arizona Fall League. Considering he only began catching at instructional league in 2002, his improvement the past year has been astounding. You also must factor in his minor knee surgery that interrupted his time at Double-A Carolina. If he must move, he could wind up back in left field. His bat will force the Marlins to find a position for him, although he said he threw out close to 25 percent of opposing basestealers this year. Not bad for a rookie C.

 Q:  Jim from Boston asks:
How did the Marlins ever stoop so low as to trade Denny Bautista? This guy was lights out in the Future's game and he takes pointers from Pedro and Ramon Martinez. He may have control problems now, but I would definately predict him to be a star. You??
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Jim, my man, you of all people should recognize the importance of going for it when you have the chance to win it all. While I agree the cost for Conine was prohibitive, there's no way they win the World Series -- or probably even make the playoffs -- without Mr. Marlin. I like Bautista a lot, but he has had mechanical and control problems in the past. They could have thrown in a third arm and it still would have been worth it. They have the rings to prove it.

 Q:  Mark Griffith from Gainesville, FL asks:
I'm wondering why Albuquerque 2B Matt Erickson is not even getting a mention for replacing Castillo if he signs elsewhere. He had a nice 2003 and the only reason I can come up with is lack of rangeglove. What say you Mike?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Erickson will be 28 next Opening Day and has never been viewed as anything more than a decent UT option. He deserves a shot somewhere, but I don't see it happening with the Marlins.

 Q:  Daveed from GA asks:
Can Jason Stokes hit for average in the majors? I know he's got plenty of power, but will he be able to adjust to better pitching next year and hit more line drives or reach base more often?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: That's the big question, isn't it? I talked to one scout in Arizona who predicted he'd be a "bust," doubting everything from his body type to his bat speed. We'll see. The guy has epic power and showed big-time plate discipline at Kane County. He needs to get back on track soon.

 Q:  David Malamut from Voice Of A Season Ticket Holder-Kane County Cougars asks:
How does the third base slot look in the minors besides Cabrera. What do you think of the following players. Matt Padgett, Chip Ambres, Dennis Anderson. When will Burnett be ready to pitch next year
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Lee Mitchell is the next-best thing, and he came from U. Georgia in this year's draft. AFter that, I'd go with Pablo Sosa (Jamestown) and then a big drop down to Michael Tucker, although Jonathan Fulton will probably wind up at third as well. So the short answer to your question is, Cabrera should be safe for awhile. Padgett, the former clemson kicker, has his defenders in the system but not enough to get him on the Top 30 list. Ambres held onto the end of the top 30 this year. His time is running out to justify that first-round pick five years ago. Don't hear much talk about Anderson.

 Q:  David Malamut from Voice of A Season Ticket Holder-Kane County Cougars asks:
What is the opinion on Derek Wathan, Matt Erickson, and Matt Treanor. Will Treanor ever get the call to the bigs someday. How does Wathan and Erickson stand a chance they were starting as shortstop and third baseman respectivley but have played every where the last few years.
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Another one? OK, just this once, and only because I like Matt Treanor. One scout who has seen Treanor a lot insists he could hit in the bigs, but few others seem to agree. The Marlins recently signed him back as a six-year FA. We've already discussed Wathan and Erickson in sufficient detail.

 Q:  John from Los Angeles asks:
Does Randall Messenger have any chance of moving up anytime soon and where do you think Chris Aguila will start next year.
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Messenger blew it. He was on the move and assigned to the Arizona Fall League when he broke team rules and was suspended again. That's how he began his year as well, in case you're scoring. The Marlins have no plans to put Messenger on their 40-man roster this week. As for Aguila, I'd expect him to start out at Albuquerque and, if all goes well, see his first big-league time sometime in the first half.

 Q:  Juan from West Miami asks:
Do you think that Sosa (cant remember his first name) from Class A Ball is a good prsopect?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Pablo Sosa is his name and he's definitely intriguing. He should fall near the end of the Top 30 this winter. He is as tooled-up as they come but exceedingly raw. His defense is ahead of his bat at this stage, but he has put on some BP shows. He should start next year at Greensboro.

 Q:  james from Guthrie asks:
Hi Mike, Do Eric Reed and Abe Nunez still warrant prospect status? James
 A: 

Mike Berardino: No on Nunez, not at 27 next Opening Day. Yes on Reed, who made the Marlins Top 10 at No. 7 and just keeps getting better.

 Q:  matt from los angeles asks:
Do the Florida Marlins have any interesting prospects up the middle?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Cole Seifrig, signed out of this year's draft, is their top 2B prospect. SS Robert Andino, last year's second-rounder, has a great glove but still needs to show he can hit. Josh Wilson has lost support in the system, but Jonathan Fulton could still rise through the SS ranks.

 Q:  James from Guthrie asks:
Hi Mike. Will Wes Anderson ever make it back?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: Wes was one of my favorites. Great kid, great attitude. Unfortunately, the Marlins released him in July and he hooked on with the Red Sox. I wish him all the best in his return from major shoulder surgery.

 Q:  JT from Tampa, FL asks:
What is the big hoopla over Jai Miller? I understand he has raw talent, but what do youthey see in this kid that makes him that special, batting only .199 in a Rookie League?
 A: 

Mike Berardino: If it were really as simple as crunching the numbers to find the game's next superstars, I guess we'd just fire all the scouts and sink the money into new computer programs. Oh, wait, that's already being tried in certain places. Miller's tools are off the charts, at least that's what the Marlins believe. We'll find out if they're right in another 3-4 years.

 Q:  Matt from Bloomington asks:
Hey, what are your thoughts on Drew Niles? He certainly looks like he can swing the bat.
 A: 

Mike Berardino: You are in the minority with that opinion. ... OK, looks like that's about it. Thanks for all the questions. I enjoyed it. Hope you did too.

Page Not Found - BaseballAmerica.com