Prospect Chat: Sept. 11

Ben Badler and J.J. Cooper chatted to wrap up the Hot Sheet




Moderator: As we announce our minor league Player of the Year and unveil our season-ending Prospect Hot Sheet, Ben Badler and the rest of the Baseball America staff will answer prospect questions on Friday beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Ben Badler: Congratulations to Jason Heyward on winning BA's Minor League Player of the Year award. I know for most people September and October are the best months of the baseball season, but mostly I just go into minor league withdrawals. Luckily God invented Pablo Sandoval.

    ray (ct): is ike davis have a chance to be a everyday 1b or even a allstar?

Ben Badler: Definitely. I watched him take BP for Team USA before they left for the World Cup (I believe they're on MLB Network right now) and he showed more raw power than anyone else there, including Justin Smoak and Pedro Alvarez. It�s not a simple swing, but he�s produced this year and there�s plenty of raw power there.

    Freddy (Chicago): Should I be concerned with Cubs prospect Josh Vitters? Or is he still cosidered an elite prospect?

Ben Badler: Concerned. It�s a good swing, but his lack of plate discipline looks to me like it will prevent him from reaching his physical potential.

    Mark (Muncie, Indiana): Top (3) sleeper prospects in the Yankees organization? Thanks.

Ben Badler: Ramon Flores, Eduardo Sosa, Pat Venditte

    Deywane (Memphis): Is Juan Francisco the most difficult prospect to rank in the minors? His power is incredible and he also would average about 200 hits a season in the majors if his hit rate stayed the same, but he has bad plate discpiline. He has to make the Top 100 doesn't he?

Ben Badler: I don�t think he�s that difficult to evaluate. He has tremendous raw power and I�ve seen him flick the bat on pitches on the outer half that just carried over the wall to the opposite field. His hands are decent in that he�ll go down and hit the low curve, but he swings at almost everything, which leaves him vulnerable to high fastballs and completely off balance against changeups. He�s quieted his approach since the beginning of the season and has made some strides with his strike-zone judgment, which has led to a better contact rate, but the pitch recognition and plate discipline are still below-average, which is why he�s never going to have much of an OBP. When you combine that with below-average range and defense overall at third base, I don�t see a top 100 prospect.

Ben Badler: And no, I don't know why any time I type an apostrophe it shows up as a question mark inside a black box. Feels like we're playing Mario Kart in here.

    Kirby (Lake Elsinore): James Darnell: #1 Padres prospect for 2010? If not, how close is he?

Ben Badler: I'm partial to Jaff.

    Jason (Chicago): Is Montgomery the Royals' top pitching prospect? And, how far as Daniel Cortes' stock fallen this season?

Ben Badler: We're going to have to sort out Montgomery, Duffy, Melville and company in the offseason, but I wanted to tackle the Cortes question because Cortes supposedly looked like a completely different pitcher during his last few starts of the season. I�ve never been a big Cortes guy, but supposedly late in the season he was sitting in the low-90s with a plus curve and much better command than he had shown earlier in the year, and the numbers from his last three starts bear that out. Whether that�s a sign of true improvement or something that just looks like improvement because those starts all came at the end of the season, I don't know, but it's worth keeping an eye on. He can still run his fastball up to the mid-90s, so even if starting doesn't work out, there's a chance he could make a career as a middle reliever.

    Juan Carlos (Mesa): I see both Josh Vitters and Matt Dominguez are headed to Mesa for the AZ Fall League. Who is the better MLB prospect? Will they both stick at the hot corner?

Ben Badler: I have questions about the bat with both of them, but Dominguez's defense is potentially gold-glove caliber and I like his approach more than Vitters'.

    Mike (Keene, NH): Hello from NH! To what current major leaguer does Desmond Jennings compare?

Ben Badler: I'm not big on comparisons, but there's some similarities in skill set to Andrew McCutchen as a speedy center fielder with good defense, bat speed, the patience and contact skills to be a high OBP guy and enough power to hit 15-20 homers per season.

    Taylor (CA): Does Caleb Joseph have the potential to be a starting catcher in the majors?

Ben Badler: He has a chance. I've talked to a few people recently who have seen Joseph this season and they've all said the same thing: they weren't crazy about him the first time they saw him, but he does a lot of things well enough that he grew on them the more they saw him play. I'm not quite sold on him and there's some funkiness in the swing, but he's interesting.

    Andy Marafino (Torrance, CA): Who are some of the players in both the Red Sox and Rockies organizations who made significant leaps forward in their prospect status?

Ben Badler: Red Sox: Anthony Rizzo, Luis Exposito and Roman Mendez (Ryan Westmoreland was already highly-regarded coming out of high school last year, so I'm not including him). Rockies: Esmil Rogers, Alving Mejias and Mike McKenry, though I think the Triple-A version of Rogers is closer to reality than his Double-A numbers might suggest.

    Rich (Solvay, NY): More promising OF Bat, Dominic Brown or Desmond Jennings? Is it close?

Ben Badler: On bat alone, Brown because of his power potential, whereas Jennings has above-average bat speed and will hit for decent power, but his swing is more line-drive oriented. As an overall prospect though? Jennings.

    John (Boston, MA): How is Jason Heyward's speed? He didnt have a high steal total this year, is that because of his speed? And how close is his power to Stanton's?

Ben Badler: Probably about an average to a tick above-average runner. Stealing bases shouldn't be a big part of his game, but he's faster than most corner outfielders, so when you combine that with his reads off the bat, his arm and his willingness to make the diving catch, he could be at least a plus defensive right fielder. The power isn't as big as Stanton's, but that just means it's not 80 raw power. By the time he's in his prime years, I'd expect a few 30-40 home run seasons from Heyward.

    jose (san diego): Why didn't the pirates call up alvarez for september? Do you agree with their decision? He finished the season very well in double-A. Is there something the pirates want him to work on with team USA? What do you think of his season as a whole and does he make the big league club next year out of spring training? Thanx

Ben Badler: If he gets called up to Pittsburgh, what's he going to be constantly subjected to right now? The only thing people are talking about with Pittsburgh right now is their epic losing streak, so why not keep Alvarez away from that and let him represent his country in the World Cup? I'm obviously not Mr. Clubhouse Chemistry Guy, but the culture of any professional work environment can affect your performance at whatever your job may be, especially a new employee as Alvarez would essentially be in Pittsburgh. He�s not quite big league ready, anyway.

    Ross (Philly): Hey, Chase D'Arnaud has batted .293/.397/.450 this year splitting time between A and high A with about 30 SB's as a SS. Is this kid for real, and if so what do you think his comp might be in the majors?

Ben Badler: He doesn't have a standout tool that's going to catch anyone's attention who watches him play, but I like him. He's a solid all-around player, good approach at the plate and pretty good athlete and defender at shortstop and second base. Players like that tend to be underappreciated until they hit Triple-A and all of a sudden you realize, wow, this guy has put up close to a .380-.400 OBP in the minor leagues. Maybe we�ve got something here.

    Steve (Ohio): What the heck happened to Cole Rohrbough this year? Decline in stuff or was he not that good to begin with?

Ben Badler: When I saw him in spring training the stuff was down, and the reports I've heard this year on his stuff aren't as flattering as they were in the past.

    Mike (Chicago): How far away is John Ely from reaching the big leagues and was there any consideration for him to get called up this month?

Ben Badler: He doesn't have much more to go, but he's still going to be a fringy starter. He's 88-90 with an excellent changeup, but there's not much a breaking ball there and his below-average fastball doesn't give him much margin for error.

    Don (Atlanta): Okay, so Heyward is your POY, but if you had to nitpick, what is his one flaw? Or at least, the one thing he needs to work on most?

Ben Badler: That's the thing about Heyward: he doesn't have any huge weaknesses. Offensively and defensively, he's a monster with a great swing, a great approach and huge raw power. Right now my only concern with him is his ability to stay healthy. He missed time this year with a hip injury and a banged up heel, so my only concern is durability.

    Jake (Cincynati): Is Mark DeRosa a fair Todd Frazier comparison?

Ben Badler: I don't see it, since I think DeRosa has been a capable defender at second base, whereas Frazier doesn't really have a defensive home. It's not that I don't think Frazier is capable of playing a position like third base, but I just wish he would get the opportunity to play one position and develop his skills there. I'm not opposed to letting players play different positions to have them become familiar with different roles, but Frazier has had to split time between so many different positions throughout his career that he hasn�t been able to master one. He's gotten better in left field, but I'd rather see him get regular repetitions at third base (whereas the Reds chose to use Francisco at third base full-time at Double-A) rather than having Frazier move all over the field constantly.

    Joseph (Fort Worth, TX): Is Martin Perez a Top 25 prospect right now? Top 10 this time next year? Its awfully exciting reading reports on this kid...

Ben Badler: If he's not, he's going to be just on the cusp.

    Deywane (Memphis): Yorman Rodriguez has cooled off stats wise, but are scouts still impressed with him?

Ben Badler: Same as our amateur reports on him: great athlete, plus-plus runner, but raw even for his age as a hitter. It was fun though to watch people overreact to him hitting a couple of home runs in his first few games for Billings in the Zero Gravity League.

    Sheldon (Winchester, Va): Do you ever see Jose Tabata developing enough power to be an all star caliber right fielder? Please tell me that Tabata will be in Pittsburgh along side McCutchen next year instead of Brandon Moss or Garrett Jones(who should be starting 1B).....I can't take anymore of Moss or Steven Pearce! Thanks

Ben Badler: I'm skeptical.

    Steven (Kentucky): Who's will be the better ML pitcher...Robbie Ross or Christian Friedrich?

Ben Badler: Friedrich. Ten more strikeouts yesterday in the playoffs for him, by the way.

    Roger (Los Angeles): How has a higher ceiling: Porcello, J. Turner or C. Crosby?

Ben Badler: Porcello

    chapin j. (guate): Did you ever expected Cris Cophlan to have such a good rookie season? Do you think he will replace Uggla at second base next season?

Ben Badler: Why yes I did. Ranked him at No. 50 on my Top 100 coming into the year. And he could play a passable second base for any other team this year, which is why I hope the Marlins put him back there at some point soon.

    Brandon (Utah): Is Ryan Strieby now a better prospect than Cale Iorg?

Ben Badler: I think Strieby's always been a better prospect than Iorg.

    Joe (Camarillo): Kershaw or Bumgarner

Ben Badler: Kershaw. Not close, either.

    SMK (Boston): Did BA jump the gun on rating Esmil Rogers as a top 50 mid-season prospect? The sample size in AAA isn't that small anymore. Was he overrated or is he simply adjusting?

Ben Badler: I think he's a better prospect than he was a year ago, but I don't see him as a likely top 100 guy.

    Isaac (Fresno): It seems to me that everyone is forgetting about Alonso. Is there any chance we see him opening or sometime up in 2010 for the Reds?

Ben Badler: Nobody's forgetting about him, he just got hurt toward the end of the year so there wasn't much to write about. He hasn't looked the same since he came back from injury, but I see that as a temporary setback moreso than any cause for concern. I could see him in Cincinnati next year.

    Wayland (Seattle): With Mike Stanton hitting only around .230 at Jacksonville this year, what have you heard is his major weakness that has prevented him from hitting around .290 at Jupiter? Where will he start next year? AA? AAA?

Ben Badler: His major weakness is that he's the same age as most college freshmen but he's being asked to hit Double-A pitching instead of take an Oceanography class to fulfill his basic science requirements (which is what I did, and all I could tell you about the ocean is that it's wet). He's made tremendous adjustments with his swing and with his pitch selection that were evident in the Florida State League, but he just needs to continue making those strides. He has good hand-eye coordination and the bat stays in the hitting zone for a long time, it's just a matter of refining his two-strike approach to become a little more contact-oriented in those situations because he's so strong and generates so much torque with his swing that the ball flies off his bat when he does connect.

    Dan (Bristol): How much consideration did Chris Carter get? Do you think he has done enough to break into the top 50?

Ben Badler: Serious consideration. Yes. He's taken a significant leap forward with some of the adjustments he's made with his swing and his swing-for-the-fences approach. He's still a high strikeout guy, but he's a much better hitter than he was at his point last year.

    MIKE (PAINTSVILLE,KY): Where do you see tim beckham playing at in 2010

Ben Badler: Playing shortstop for high Class A Charlotte, but there are a lot of questions about whether he'll remain at shortstop long term. He looked a lot thicker this year compared to when I saw him in the Appy League last year, and I know a lot of scouts who have seen him this year who have similar concerns about his ability to remain in the middle of the diamond.

    Kyle (Toronto): Could please rank the Blue Jays high school draftees (Ahrens, Jackson, Tolisano, Eiland) from the 2007 draft class in terms of major league potential. Do you think the Jays would be better leaving these guys at a lower level to get their confidence up as they have all struggled while moving up levels.

Ben Badler: Can I pass on all four? All of them should repeat their level.

    Adam (NYC): Can you shed some light on the enigma that is John Shelby Jr.? What type of ceiling does he have with the White Sox? He seems to be up and down with his ability to play his tools, one night being electric and the next night looking lost. Is there any hope he can put it together and become a Chone Figgins type of offensive player down the road?

Ben Badler: He's got speed, but the bat has a long ways to go.

    Rob (oxford, Ms): Is shortstop Zack Cozart for the Cincinnati Reds a top 10 prospect or did he improve his status with his good year this year?

Ben Badler: Top 10 in the Reds system? Sure, I could see that. I know Arizona's Pedro Ciriaco won best defensive shortstop in our Best Tools survey for the Southern League, but I thought Cozart was just as good if not better in the field. There aren't any outstanding tools with Cozart, but he's a solid hitter with a solid approach at the plate and moderate power. I'm not sold that he's going to be able to hit big league pitching as soon as next year, but I could see him being a late bloomer with value in his ability to play good defense at shortstop with some on-base ability.

    Pete (KC): What do you think of jeff bianchi's year and his future as a Royal?

Ben Badler: An underrated player. Nothing flashy about him, but he's a reliable shortstop with a short swing and a good approach at the plate. I don't see Yuniesky Betancourt holding him off the position.

    Jed (Bmore): Who says no SD or BAL: Adrian Gonzalez for Arrieta, Snyder, Hernandez, Joseph & Lebron?

Ben Badler: That's not getting Adrian Gonzalez.

    Jed (Bmore): What happened to Daryl Thompson this year? Last year he was the Reds minor league pitcher of the year, and this year?!?!

Ben Badler: Injuries, which is what I was scared of last year even when he was blowing away Southern League hitters last year with a plus fastball. Everyone wants to throw away a guy's injury history when he comes back to the mound with his pre-injury velocity, but you can't just do that; there's still an elevated injury risk.

    Mitch Dowden (Pickering, LA): Well it seems that Jason Castro will be in the top 100 but who else will join him? Possibly Jordan Lyles?

Ben Badler: Castro, Lyles and Jio Mier are all top 100 candidates. I saw Tim Beckham in the Appy League last year and saw Mier there this year. Beckham had more bat speed, but Mier had a better approach at the plate, was a better defender and a faster runner than Beckham. So yeah, I'm a Mier fan.

    Adam (Ft Wayne): I think the most obvious question of the day is was your choice for player of the year "easy" and how many legitimate contenders were there?

Ben Badler: It wasn't as easy as last year when Wieters won the award. All of the top five guys from our final Hot Sheet of the year received serious consideration, as did Jesus Montero, but I voted for Heyward because what he was able to do this year at such a young age both at the plate and in the field were phenomenal.

    Greg (DC): Ben, what can you tell us about Luis Exposito? Is he the catcher of the future for the Red Sox?

Ben Badler: Probably not, but he's got a chance. He can hit for power and has a good arm, but the swing gets long, which is something he needs to continue to work at.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): Thanks for the chat. When do you see Desmond Jennings cracking the everyday lineup in Tampa, and how high is his ceiling?

Ben Badler: He'll be ready by Opening Day 2010, but based on the Rays' history, I'm sure they'll keep him in the minor leagues for the first month or so of the season to manipulate his service time.

    Big Dave (AR): Julio Teheran or Wilmer Font?

Ben Badler: Teheran. Not that close, for me.

    Dave (Rochester): How many Braves prospects crack the top 100 next year? I'm thinking Heyward, Freeman, Minor, R. Delgado, Teheran, and maybe Cody Johnson for starters.

Ben Badler: Heyward and Freeman are slam dunks, Teheran has a chance as a high risk, high reward player, but I don't see those other three cracking the 100.

    James (North East, MD): Really suprised that Billy Rowell was not on your "Not-So Hot Sheet". How close was he?

Ben Badler: Yeah, Rowell was about as bad as it gets this year offensively and defensively, but I think the separator was that expectations were higher for the other guys we picked coming into the season. Brian Matusz, Pedro Florimon, Zach Britton, Brandon Waring and Caleb Joseph were all better prospects on that Frederick club than Rowell.

    Ed (Leeland, LA): Thought Mike Moustakas would be on the not-hot list—lots of slumps this year...

Ben Badler: It wasn't a great year, but that park in Wilmington is death to hit in. The ball doesn't carry well in the outfield, and even the infield grass tends to slow balls down and make things easier to take away a lot of singles. He needs to show more patience at the plate and be able to handle good breaking stuff from lefthanded pitchers, but every scout I've talked to still raves about his bat speed, his power potential and his hitting mechanics. I'd still like to see some more patience from him, but I think next year will be a big test for him to see if he can improve his pitch selection.

    T-Pain (On a boat!): Ben, how many minor league games did you go to this year?

Ben Badler: I don't have a count handy, so I would have to back and check, but probably around 40-50 or so, maybe a bit more, not including spring training or the AFL later this year.

    Andrew (DC): Does Chris Marrero still have some projectability with his power, or is he a 20-25 HR guy now and in the future?

Ben Badler: He's got power, but he steps in the bucket and that gives him trouble with pitches on the outer half of the plate, so a lot of scouts wonder whether the things he was able to get away with in the Carolina League are going to catch up to him at higher levels.

    Trevor (Smithson, OH): Lonnie Chisenhall had an outstanding year. What are your thoughts on him moving into next year and does he have enough defence to stick at third. Great work as always!

Ben Badler: I think almost everyone who saw Chisenhall this year was a fan, especially of his swing. The defensive reports I have on him are conflicting, though the ones that called him below-average defensively came in the beginning of the year while the ones that said he's playable over there were from guys who saw him later in the season, so that's probably a good sign. His errors definitely went down as the season progressed, for whatever that's worth.

    Kevin (San Diego): After Jaff Decker's impressive year in the toughest hitters' league in the minors, can we put to rest all the Matt Stairs comps? I mean, I know its not an ideal body, but his performance seems to indicate that he has a better bat than that. Especially considering he is just 19.

Ben Badler: Poor Matt Stairs. I was just talking to BA draft extraordinaire Conor Glassey about how almost any prospect with a bad body gets compared to Matt Stairs after getting yet another Matt Stairs comp on a guy from a scout today. But yeah, the body's not ideal with Decker, but he's athletic and his plate discipline and power are both real. But I've think we've generally been pretty high on Decker here ever since last year when we ranked him third in the Padres' farm system behind Blanks and Latos and ahead of their first-rounder Allan Dykstra, who has not been getting glowing reviews this year.

    Greg (St Louis): Freddie Freeman - a future 15-20 home run hitter, or 20-25 home runs per year?

Ben Badler: I could see seasons with more than 25 home runs, too. I've seen him launch balls out of the park routinely in BP, so the power's there, it's just a matter of him maturing physically and learning how to drive those pitches out of the park in game situations. But the power is definitely there, and the defense might be a touch underrated as well.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): Hey Ben, love following your updates on Twitter. If you had to pick one minor league catcher to build your team around, who would it be?

Ben Badler: Buster Posey, though since he's a big league bullpen catcher right now, I'll say Carlos Santana.

Ben Badler: I've got a few scouts whose calls I need to return now, but I wanted to thank everyone who read the Hot Sheet all year and participated in our chats every Friday. If there's anything we can do to make things better for you, please let us know because we love to hear from you. We've got our league top 20 prospects lists coming out in a little more than a week, so stay tuned, and thanks again for reading BA.

    Ted (new york): Ok, if your prospect of the year isn't Travis Wood, why not? And while we're on the topic, when does he join the cincy rotation and is he a #2 or #2 starter?

J.J. Cooper: Because our prospect of the year is based on prospect status combined with their production and the context of the season. Wood had a great season, but even with that, it's hard to find scouts who see him being more than a back-end of the rotation starter. And with Cueto, Harang, Arroyo and Bailey already in Cincinnati (plus Edinson Volquez coming back from TJ at some point next year), Wood doesn't have an easy path to a spot in the Reds' rotation next year. That being said, I would expect to see him start in Cincinnati some next year.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Montero has one of the best bats in the minors. The Yankees won't be able to hold him down too much longer. The big question - what position will he play? Where is there room for him in the Bronx?

J.J. Cooper: If you had to guess right now, DH seems to be the spot. He's not ready defensively to catch and he won't play first base with Teixeira there.

    Ralph M. (Oakland, CA): What kind of progress has Jesus Montero made defensively in the 2009 season?

J.J. Cooper: Talking to managers and scouts while doing the Florida State League Top 20 Prospects list the answer is not a whole lot yet. He's still rough back there, with footwork problems and less than ideal hands. And while his arm is solid, the footwork problems make it a day at the races for opposing teams.

    David (Louisiana): In your opinion who would be the better pitching prospect at his age. Sonny Gray or Tim Lincecum?

J.J. Cooper: Lincecum...He was even scrawnier back then, but Lincecum kind of was what he is back then, there was just a lot of skepticism about his size and durability, which all looks to be misplaced up to now.

    Avery (Walnut Creek): Jeff Bianchi and David Lough each had good seasons in Wilmington, then kicked it up a notch in AA NWA. Is there a chance either cracks the Royals Top 10 or even Top 5? Is the Royals system on the rise even though Moustakas and Hosmer had such a rough year? As a Royals fan I need some hope... Thank you!

J.J. Cooper: They are both candidates for the top 10. It's funny, but Wilmington was such a pitcher's park that seeing stats jump in the move to NWA may not be kicking it up a notch as much as just the park adjustment. The Royals should have a very solid Top 10, but they are still lacking in upper level prospects—most are still in A ball.

    Jason (Charlotte): Craig Krimbel led the minors in K's per nine innings. Is the the Braves closer of the future ? How good could he be ?

J.J. Cooper: He also walked 6.75 batters per nine innings. He has to significantly improve that command to be a big leaguer, much less a closer.

    Marc (New Berlin WI): Haven't heard much buzz on Mark Rogers' season. Has he regained his prospect status after two years on the sidelines?

J.J. Cooper: He's shown good stuff in his return (not all the way back to pre-injury form but still plus stuff), but in very limited glimpses. Because he was returning from such a serious shoulder injury, the Brewers treated him with extremely delicate kid gloves this year so it's hard to say yet if he can hold up and he still has a long ways to go with his command.

    Jimmy T. (Colorado): It seems that players are spending less time in the Minor Leagues. Do you believe that the players are better today Is it better coaching in the college ranks or is it because of the large signing bonuses that teams feel that they have to get their moneys worth now.It seems that many players make their big league debut much faster,but if they do not produce good numbers right away I could see a negative effect as they could lose confidence and may never get it back?

J.J. Cooper: I can't really agree with your hypothesis. For at least 40 years there has been the thought that the current generation is being rushed to the big leagues. Bill James disproved it in the 1980s and I've yet to see any studies to prove it's different now. Great players have never spent much time in the minors—Willie Mays and Ted Williams were full-time big leaguers as 20 year olds, Mickey Mantle was only 19, and Dwight Gooden barely saw the minors.

    Mike (St. Marys, PA): I see Devin Mesoraco did not play the last few weeks of the season for Sarasota. Was he injured and how would you assess his season?

J.J. Cooper: He hurt his left wrist and had to shut down early. In doing FSL calls, it's hard to find anyone outside the Reds organization that sees any reasons to believe he's close to a turnaround. Time after time the assessment comes up that "he's just a guy."

    Larry (Texas): What is the story on Logan Ondrusek. He rose through three levels for the Reds. Seems to be pitching pretty well this year. There is no information on him other than he is pitching extremely well and that he is pitching in the AFL.

J.J. Cooper: The move to the pen was a good one for him. He simplified his selection of pitches and focused on blowing away hitters with a 93-94 mph fastball that he can cut. He could be a part of the Reds' future big league bullpen.

    Erik (Maplewood, MN): Did Matt Dominguez improve his value this year or not? Where does he sit as far as minor league thirdbasemen?

J.J. Cooper: Defensively he may be the best third baseman in the minors. Offensively there are still plenty of questions. I'd expect him to be a big leaguer, but he's going to have to continue to make adjustments to make any kind of impact with the bat.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): I really appreciate BA taking the time to answer out subscriber questions. I know its too early but I'm asking anyway, if the top 100 for 2010 came out today, would Pedro Alvarez rank ahead of Mike Stanton?

J.J. Cooper: Great question. I'd still lean Stanton, but it's a lot closer than it would have been at the midseason.

    Mark (New York): How close did Casey Kelly come to making your top 20? He was close to the top for a few weeks this year. You are holding his hitting against him are you?

J.J. Cooper: We talked about him for the 20, but what it came down to was he has a half season of pitching to make the list, and that just isn't going to overtake guys who pitched the full season.

    bill (nj): with just a bat in their hands, rank em: Montero-Heyward-Stanton and why?

J.J. Cooper: I'll take that to be a rank their hit tool question. Montero-Heyward-Stanton in that order when it comes to the hit tool, but it's real close between Montero and Heyward. Stanton-Montero-Heyward when it comes to power.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): Anything new regarding Pedro's defense (specifically range) at third? Is he still seen as someone who will have to move to first sooner rather than later?

J.J. Cooper: Some EL managers think he can stick there as he showed improvement. He made an outstanding play in Team USA's game against Germany today that showed up his plus arm.

    Rob (Orlando, FL): My question concerns two catchers. In the Marlins organization, 2008 first-round pick Kyle Skipworth has only hit .208 two years in a row in rookie and then Low-A ball. Does this now diminish his prospect status? I would ask the same thing with Nationals prospect Adrian Nieto, another high-level pick has batted .217 and .228 over two years in the GCL. Are either of these players still top 10 prospects going into the 2010 season?

J.J. Cooper: Absolutely it diminishes his prospect status. In both cases now you have to approach them with a "prove it" attitude. Tools are nice, but you have to shown some signs you can turn them into production.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): What do you make of Kyle Russel's season?

J.J. Cooper: It's a good season but as a three-year major college program guy you would expect him to hit in the Midwest League. Those strikeouts are pretty scary for his long-term potential.

Moderator: OK after some bonus coverage it's time to wrap up. Thanks for all the questions and our chats will be back in two weeks with the unveiling of the League Top 20 Prospects.