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The last two compensation free agents have come to terms, Chan Ho Park signing with the Mets and Ron Villone returning to the Yankees. The only draft pick that remains unresolved is the final choice in the supplemental first round, which the Diamondbacks will receive if they don't land their 2006 first-rounder, Max Scherzer. For an update on those negotiations, click here.

MLB has confirmed that Keith Foulke's sudden retirement won't cost the Red Sox pick No. 62. He signed with the Indians as a Type B free agent, and per the rules, that gives Boston a supplemental first-rounder regardless of what happened afterward.

Here's the almost-finalized order:

First-Round Picks
1. Devil Rays
2. Royals
3. Cubs
4. Pirates
5. Orioles
6. Nationals
7. Brewers
8. Rockies
9. Diamondbacks
10. Giants
11. Mariners
12. Marlins
13. Indians
14. Braves
15. Reds
16. Blue Jays (Frank Catalanotto, A, to Tex)
17. Rangers (Carlos Lee, A, to Hou)
18. Cardinals
19. Phillies
20. Dodgers (Julio Lugo, A, to Bos)
21. Blue Jays
22. Giants (Jason Schmidt, A, to LAD)
23. Padres
24. Rangers (Gary Matthews Jr., A, to LAA)
25. White Sox
26. Athletics
27. Tigers
28. Twins
29. Giants (Moises Alou, A, to NYM)
30. Yankees
Supplemental First-Round Picks
31. Nationals (Alfonso Soriano, A, to ChC)
32. Giants (Alou)
33. Braves (Danys Baez, A, to Bal)
34. Reds (Rich Aurilia, A, to SF)
35. Rangers (Lee)
36. Cardinals (Jeff Suppan, A, to Mil)
37. Phillies (David Dellucci, A, to Cle)
38. Blue Jays (Justin Speier, A, to LAA)
39. Dodgers (Lugo)
40. Padres (Woody Williams, A, to Hou)
41. Athletics (Barry Zito, A, to SF)
42. Mets (Roberto Hernandez, A, to Cle)
43. Giants (Schmidt)
44. Rangers (Matthews)
45. Blue Jays (Catalanotto)
46. Padres (Dave Roberts, A, to SF)
47. Mets (Chad Bradford, A, to Bal)
48. Cubs (Juan Pierre, B, to LAD)
49. Nationals (Jose Guillen, B, to Sea)
50. Diamondbacks (Craig Counsell, B, to Mil)
51. Giants (Mike Stanton, B, to Cin)
52. Mariners (Gil Meche, B, to KC)
53. Reds (Scott Schoeneweis, B, to NYM)
54. Rangers (Mark DeRosa, B, to ChC)
55. Red Sox (Alex Gonzalez, B, to Cin)
56. Blue Jays (Ted Lilly, B, to ChC)
57. Padres (Chan Ho Park, B, to NYM)
58. Angels (Adam Kennedy, B, to StL)
59. Athletics (Frank Thomas, B, to Tor)
60. Tigers (Jamie Walker, B, to Bal)
61. Diamondbacks (Miguel Batista, B, to Sea)
62. Red Sox (Keith Foulke, B, to Cle)
63. Padres (Alan Embree, B, to Oak)
64. Padres (Ryan Klesko, B, to SF)
65. Diamondbacks (have yet to sign 2006 first-rounder Max Scherzer)
Second-Round Changes
68. Nationals (Soriano to ChC)
70. Braves (Baez to Bal)
72. Cardinals (Suppan to Mil)
75. Athletics (Zito to SF)
78. Mets (Hernandez to Cle)
82. Padres (Williams to Hou)
89. Blue Jays (Speier to LAA)
Third-Round Changes
100. Mets (Bradford to Bal)
105. Reds (Aurilia to SF)
108. Phillies (Dellucci to Cle)
Fourth-Round Changes
135. Padres (Roberts to SF)
    As excited as the Royals and their fans are about Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, are they the best 1-2 prospect punch in baseball?

    Jeff Cooper
    Lee's Summit, Mo.

Jeff asked this question in my ESPN.com chat last WednesdayPremium, and I asked him to send it to Ask BA so I could spend more time on it here.

Alex Gordon is the top true prospect in baseball—Daisuke Matsuzaka ranks No. 1 on my list because he still qualifies as a rookie, but he is an established Japanese big leaguer, after all—and Billy Butler is one of the best hitters in the minors. As much as I like that combination, I was surprised when I looked at my individual rankings that I had a few pairs that would rank ahead of them.

In the ESPN chat, I put Gordon and Butler fifth. After taking more time to think about it, I moved them up to fourth. Here's my Top 10:

1. RHP Homer Bailey, OF Jay Bruce (Reds)
2. OF Delmon Young, 3B Evan Longoria (Devil Rays)
3. OF Cameron Maybin, LHP Andrew Miller (Tigers)
4. 3B Alex Gordon, OF Billy Butler (Royals)
5. OF Justin Upton, OF Chris Young (Diamondbacks)
6. RHP Philip Hughes, OF Jose Tabata (Yankees)
7. RHP Yovani Gallardo, 3B Ryan Braun (Brewers)
8. SS Brandon Wood, RHP Nick Adenhart (Angels)
9. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, OF Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox)
10. SS Troy Tulowitzki, 3B Ian Stewart (Rockies)

The Royals also feature the No. 1 overall pick from the 2006 draft, Luke Hochevar, giving them a formidable prospect trio. This is how I'd stack up the top threesomes:

1. OF Delmon Young, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Reid Brignac (Devil Rays)
2. OF Justin Upton, OF Chris Young, OF Carlos Gonzalez (Diamondbacks)
3. RHP Homer Bailey, OF Jay Bruce, 1B Joey Votto (Reds)
4. 3B Alex Gordon, OF Billy Butler, RHP Luke Hochevar (Royals)
5. 3B Andy LaRoche, LHP Clayton Kershaw, LHP Scott Elbert (Dodgers)
    Have the recent changes in the market for starting pitching changed the value of young pitching prospects to organizations? I've had some Cubs fans suggest that the Yankees would be foolish not to trade Philip Hughes for a mid-year rental of Carlos Zambrano if the Cubs fell out of contention or couldn't afford Zambrano for the long term. I tried to explain that because someone like Zambrano would command around seven years and $140 million, and the Yankees could sign someone like Clemens if they got desperate, they wouldn't consider either deal. I tried to explain that young pitching prospects are now worth more than they were in the past, given the changes in the market. Do you agree?

    Anthony Chase Mallia
    Philadelphia

The Yankees would probably consider a Zambrano-for-Hughes trade, because that might make a difference in winning the World Series. But I doubt they'd ponder it for long, because Anthony's basic premise is correct. When Barry Zito is signing for seven years and $126 million, and Gil Meche is getting $55 million for five seasons, and even Miguel Batista and Jason Marquis signing lucrative three-year deals, a blue-chip pitching prospect can be invaluable.

New York will control Hughes' salary for his first three seasons, and he'll only be eligible for arbitration and not free agency for another three after that. So the first six years of his career likely won't cost the Yankees more than a total of $20 million (and that's with lucrative arbitration awards). Zambrano probably will cost that much on an annual basis once he becomes a free agent after this season.

Hughes won't be as effective as Zambrano will this year, but he might be pretty close and he should be just as good in the near future. If he realizes his considerable potential, Hughes will be one of the biggest bargains in baseball when you compare his cost-controlled salaries to his production. Pitching prospects don't always pan out, but when one as good as Hughes does, it's a huge advantage.

Clubs are better off hanging on to their young pitching and spending the money they'd give to a veteran acquired in a trade elsewhere. That way they keep their prospects and add veterans at the same cost. If I were running the Astros, I would have held onto Jason Hirsh rather than using him as a centerpiece in the Jason Jennings trade. I understand Houston is trying to win now, but it now is committed to re-signing Jennings as a free agent, who won't be nearly the value Hirsh will be.

    It's an axiom of prospect analysis that a hitter's power is likely to develop as he matures, if his body and tools are projectable. The same is true of pitchers. For example, on the Mets Top 10 Prospects list, it says that 17-year-old righthander Deolis Guerra will gain velocity as he fills out. He's 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, and his fastball currently sits at 88-90 mph. What roughly is the percentage chance that he in particular, and projectable pitchers in general, will experience at least a modest gain in velocity (1-2 mph)? How much chance of a significant gain? Is this more of a function of mechanics than anything else? Do any empirical studies of this issue exist?

    Rob Dorsey
    Silver Spring, Md.

I don't know of any empirical studies that exist, but if they do and someone has access to them, I'd love to see the results. Such a study would take some time, but it would be fairly easy for a club to create a database by taking its scouting reports along with height and age data to see how pitchers developed over a number of years.

While I can't give you exact percentages, I can speak in more general terms. Given his very young age and very lanky frame, I'd expect Guerra to be throwing consistently in the low 90s, maybe harder, five years down the road. It's a function of many things: age, build, present velocity, mechanics, arm speed, what kind of throwing program he's on, etc.

« February 9 Ask BA