Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With J.J. Cooper




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    Kyle (NYC): Since Harvey has been listed as one of the participants in the FSL allstar game, should we interpret this as he won't be promoted to double-A anytime soon?

J.J. Cooper: Not at all, minor league all-star games are filled with replacements for players who have been called up. Heck, even with the Futures Game, we know when we're helping to put together the rosters that several of the players named to the game won't be there by the time the game comes around.

    Chuck (Wichita): What are the early reports on Adam, Cuthbert, and Ventura from Kane County?

J.J. Cooper: Adam and Cuthbert have both been excellent, Ventura has been erratic, although with plenty of flashes of brilliance. I hope to have much more detail for you all on this in Monday's Prospect Bulletin.

    Jim (Baltimore, MD): Jason Adam has a 1.85 ERA after 4 starts for Kane County, as a 19-year-old in Low A. Is he a future "helium watch" candidate?

J.J. Cooper: Thought about it, but you could argue he's too good for Helium. Heck I had him in my personal preseason Top 150.

    Paul (Fall River, MA): Does Nick Franklin have Troy Tulowitski type ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: No. But that's not a big knock, I mean, there's not really a shortstop in the minors with Tulo's ceiling. The closest would be Machado.

    Cam (Calgary): Is Francisco Martinez ever going to play in the majors? How would you rank him next to Brett Lawrie. Thanks

J.J. Cooper: Ever? Lets give him some time. At this time two years ago he had yet to play in the U.S., and he's still only 20 years old. He's not in Lawrie's class as a hitter, although he's a better defender. A 2013 arrival would seem to be a decent projection. Lawrie's one of the better prospects in baseball. I wouldn't put Martinez in this class, but I do think he's a guy worth keeping an eye on. When putting together the Florida State Top 20 list last year scouts and managers raved about his tools.

    Jonathan Singleton (Clearwater, FL): Now that I'm back to 1B, am I the front-running chip to be dealt at the trade deadline. Or do Phils eventually deal Howard to AL and let him DH.

J.J. Cooper: Singleton played left field again last night. I haven't heard anything that indicates the Phillies have given up on him playing in the outfield. This is much like the Reds with Yonder Alonso, they have a lot of incentive to make it work, because there aren't really other options besides trading him. Considering the length of Howard's upcoming extension (through 2016), I would wager he's untradeable—no one else is really going to want to take on $25 million for Howard as a 36-year-old.

    Jon (Michigan): Which would surprise you more, a frequent Hot Sheet contributor becoming a ML bust or a Hot Sheet no-show becoming a solid ML regular? Is Zach Britton the latter?

J.J. Cooper: Neither would surprise me. The Hot Sheet isn't the Top 100 Prospects list. This is a look at which prospects are hot right now. And when you're looking at pitchers, strikeouts are one of the factors that works into making the Hot Sheet. So a guy who piles up groundballs like Britton but few strikeouts isn't going to make a lot of Hot Sheet appearances. But yeah, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Britton have a long big league career.

    Harold (Tacoma): When will Dennis Raben finally get some respect? Not only was he left off Seattle's (weak!) top-30 list, but no one has even mentioned the guy this season yet!?!? Wondering why the bias against this guy?!?!? Have you checked his numbers?!?!?

J.J. Cooper: Raben's having a nice year. He's also a 23-year-old major college product repeating high Class A. And he's playing at High Desert, which is the perfect place to be a hitter. As a team, the Mavericks are slugging nearly .500 at home. The guy on High Desert having the season really worth mentioning is Raben's teammate Vincent Catricala.

    Steve (Canton): Rob Erlin and Joe Wieland have a killer K/BB ratio. Which pitcher has the higher upside and do you forsee them being ranked in the top 50 for next year? Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: Erlin's got the higher upside, largely because he throws with his left hand. I wouldn't be shocked to see Erlin ranking in the Top 50 next year, he'll definitely be in the Top 100. I can't say that yet about Wieland, although I love the season he's having.

    Ballboy (Watercooler): Prospect/Draft Q: Now that Josh Bell has said "Please don't draft me," what org do you think will most likely spend a pick on him, how high, and which orgs do you think are best at developing H.S. bats? Thanks....you guys (and the DRAFT) make life worth paying taxes and $4 gas!.

J.J. Cooper: It may be completely legit and he may just want to go to college, but in doing some draft research for another story, it's amazing how many of those letters have been sent in the past by players who ended up signing after getting significant offers. As far as which teams, well the Rays can take a flier on him with one of their gazillion picks, and if he doesn't sign, they could shrug their shoulders because they have a ton of other picks in the first few rounds. The Tigers have no problem busting slot if they have a guy they really like and they don't pick for a long time this year (pick No. 73), so if he fell that far, then that would be another option.

    Desmond Jennigs (Tampa): Sam Fuld is hitting 188 over the last 21 days. When the heck are they calling me up?

J.J. Cooper: Do not mess with the Legend of Sam Fuld. A demotion of Sam Fuld might upset the time-space continuim. That being said, Fuld's a fourth outfielder who had a great first couple of weeks, so yes, a Jennings promotion at some point would make sense. Jennings' power jump this year is encouraging.

    Big Dave (AR): Edward Salcedo has been starting to heat up a bit lately. Any word on how his development is going? Does it look like 3B will be his long term position?

J.J. Cooper: Lot less concerns about Salcedo's bat than his glove. I haven't talked to anyone who sees him as a shortstop long-term, and there are questions whether he can handle third.

    Ballboy (at the laptop): LeMahieu is up w/ the Cubs after batting .358/poco power in AA. How will that translate? Can he stick? Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: It depends on what the Cubs are expecting from him. He'll hit for some average, he has some versatility defensively, but he's unlikely to hit for enough power to be a regular. He and Ryan Flaherty should have some interesting battles for big league playing time over the next couple of years.

    Jason (New York): They always say your glove gets you to the majors, but you bats keeps you there. Is it just me or is Lawrie long overdue at this point despite not being the nxt Brooks Robinson? Think he will stick at 3rd?

J.J. Cooper: The Blue Jays have played Edwin Encarnacion at third base some this year, so it's not like Brooks Robinson's currently manning the position. I think he can play it. Whether he sticks there or not still seems to be dependent on how much he works on it. We've talked to scouts who think he could have been a big league catcher or second baseman athletically, but he's always been more focused on hitting than fielding.

    Neufeldt (New Berlin, WI): When do you consider the constant success of someone like Goldschmidt as opposed to the flash in the pan great single week player for the Hot Sheet? Also, your ETA on Goldschmidt's arrival in the desert?

J.J. Cooper: For the Hot Sheet, a good 2011 track record helps, but if a prospect who was awful for the past month hits five home runs this week with a good stat line and Goldschmidt has his typical two home run week, the first guy is going to make the Sheet.

    Bryce Harper (Hagerstown, Md): This may sound crazy, but I almost think Baseball America underrates me. I saw someone at BA said I would have gone behind Rendon had I been in the draft this year, and have also read that some at BA would take Trout over me now. I destroyed college pitching with a wood bat as a junior in high school, and am now destroying A ball as a senior in high school (again, with a wood bat) while Rendon has inferior numbers, with a metal bat, playing against college talent. 80 power, 80 arm, takes walks...am I missing something? If you keep taking me for granted, I may just take my talents to South Beach!

J.J. Cooper: Jim Callis took just that question this week about Rendon and Harper and noted that their is no way that Rendon would go before Harper now. (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask-ba/2011/2611833.html). We also ranked Harper No. 1 coming into the season without him ever playing an official pro game. Safe to say we think Harper is the best prospect in baseball, we've also called him the best power prospect of the draft era. We love some Bryce Harper.

    Dan (Aberdeen): I have noticed on Baseball America chats that it takes longer for a new question and answer to appear than it does say for ESPN chats - even when I hit refresh. Are you guys being pulled in other directions during the chats, taking calls, is it due to the software? It's not a knock, just curious.

J.J. Cooper: Not the software, but calls, stuff like that. Sometimes we do get pulled away for a minute or two. Or, especially in Jim Callis' case right now, he might get a call back from a scouting director he needed to talk to.

    Spencer (Bay Area): Tolleson - dodgers , with his recent promotion, if all goes well could we see him this year ?? Does he have major league type closer stuff ? Ceiling ?

J.J. Cooper: I don't see him as a major league closer, but man, his ascent this year is like an X-15 on a cold day. Great cutter that is proved unhittable at lower levels. He's a polished college product, so it makes sense to move him up pretty aggressively. I think you're looking at more of a useful seventh, eighth-inning reliever, but that's a great find considering he was a 30th round pick.

    Eric (Scranton): Any chance we see Pat Venditte in Scranton soon? Is he a legit prospect at this point? He has a 20+ scoreless inning streak in AA. That seems nothing to sneeze at for a relief pitcher once dismissed as a novelty rather than a real prospect.

J.J. Cooper: He's pitching well right now and he is a prospect of some sort. He's a hard guy for scouts to get a read on because there is literally nothing he throws that grades as a plus pitch. But you have to factor in the platoon advantage in there, and that may get him to the big leagues. He's better against lefties than righties, so his eventual role may be as a lefty specialist, but one who isn't helpless if the other team goes to the bench for a righthanded pinch-hitter.

    Dan (Philly): Singleton is going back to first base so he can relax more at the plate, according to Chuck LaMar. http://www.csnphilly.com/06/03/11/Phillies-move-prospect-Singleton-back-to/news_phillies.html?blockID=531850&feedID=704

J.J. Cooper: Thanks for that. Had missed that. But LaMar also said he'll still play some left field (like he did last night). I think like the Reds did with Alonso (trying it last year and then again this year), we'll see Singleton back out there again some day. A scout I talked said he didn't think he'd ever be great in left, but he could do it.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): J.J., thank you for the chat - Dy-no-Mite...sorry, had to. With tickets to the SAL All-Star Game, should I be getting more excited with each passing day; is Bryce Harper basically staying put until after the break? Oh, what a HR Derby this could be.

J.J. Cooper: He's moving up at some point, Rizzo has already said that, but you may get lucky. And yes, if he participates the HR derby witll be Dyno-Mite (reference lost on younger readers, but hey, I'm old).

    Bruce (New York): When last heard from, Wil Myers was supposed to be out for 7-10 days with a knee infection. He's been out since May 10, and I haven't heard any updates on his health. Do you know when we can expect him back in the lineup?

J.J. Cooper: He's playing in extended spring right now, so he should be back before long.

    Brad (Houston): Do you have any info you can share on what type of player Leo Martin projects to be?

J.J. Cooper: It all comes down to how he handles center field. If he can be a solid big league center fielder the bat should be enough to be a very solid regular. If he ends up in a corner outfield spot, the bat isn't going to be nearly as special. But more scouts we've talked to think he can play center than those who think he can't.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): To hang on and make the playoffs the Indians are going to need some help. Who from Columbus is ready to contribute? Cord Phelps as a utility man? Zach McAllister at the back of the rotation? Nick Hagadone or Zach Putnam in the bullpen?

J.J. Cooper: Phelps, Chisenhall and Kipnis are all ready to help if the Indians need a boost. Hagadone should be up at some point as well.

    Jaff Decker (San Antonio): What's colder than Ice Cube? ME! Any ideas why May was so horrible for me?

J.J. Cooper: Decker's always been a streaky hitter. Remember that last year he hit below .200 over the first half of the season, then mashed for the second half. This year he's managed to have the hot and cold streaks sandwiched into the first two months. His April was probably a little beyond what Decker can be expected to do, his May has been well below what he can be expected to do, but over the course of a season those things average out.

    Tom (Vermont): Isn't the Kyle McPherson you mention in Helium Watch the Pirate prospect playing in Bradenton, not a Reds prospect in Sarasota or are there two of them?

J.J. Cooper: Yeah...brain freeze there.

    Rich (Sactown): Really does appear that BA is not giving Paul Goldschmidt his due. To look at what he is doing in the tough Southern League is amazing. He leads the league in almost every category right now and some my a huge margin. He has more walks than strikeouts to top it off. I mean come on, this guy looks like he could be another Pujols type of hitter especially playing in hitter friendly Arizona. I have been reading he may be called up soon directly from AA. What have you heard on his ETA and is he now one of the best hitting prospects in the game ?

J.J. Cooper: He's had a great first two months on the heels of a great 2010. All of that is true and I wouldn't be shocked to see him in the majors this year. That being said, I would take a step back from the Pujols comps. Goldschmidt has done a very good job of answering scouts' questions over whether he can be a big league regular—his success in Double-A is making a lot of doubters believers. But there's a difference between that and being one of the top hitters in baseball.

    Jack (Staten Island): When due you expect Met pitching prospect Matt Harvey to be promoted to AA?

J.J. Cooper: Teams don't usually give us sneak peeks on those kind of moves, but if I got an email today saying "Harvey headed to Binghamton" I wouldn't be surprised at all. That move could logically come at any time now.

    James (Oklahoma): Who is the top foreign talent likely to get drafted high? + how high are you on the talents of Yu Darish?

J.J. Cooper: The only foreign players eligible for the draft are Canadians, and it's not a great year for Canadian draft prospects.

    Clint (Fort Myers): Haven't heard much on the status of Telvin Nash update. Is he close to coming back from injury and is this guy legit?

J.J. Cooper: It's a hamate injury, so it wouldn't be a shock if he's not really 100 percent til next year. A lot of times it takes a year to get full strength back in your hand after that kind of injury. He still needs a lot of ABs, so this is a setback, but he was doing a good job of turning tools into skills before the injury.

    Nick (SF): Nice to Wheeler make the list. What do you project from him long term. Is he considered elite? I guess what I'm saying is, would you trade him (plus more I assume) to get Jose Reyes?

J.J. Cooper: If I'm the Giants, yeah, I'd do that because San Francisco is one of the best orgs out there at developing pitching, but has a lot more trouble developing elite hitters. Plus, the Giants are clearly in the thick of the playoff hunt, so shoring up a major current weakness takes some precedent over future success.

    Bryce Harper (Everywhere): I think you guys are actually too high on me. I have bad makeup, like to step on other players legs while they are covering first and taunt others while running by their dugouts. I`m curious, have i matured any while playing professional ball?

J.J. Cooper: I've never bought into the makeup problems. Even the majority of "problems" that have been attributed to him are the kind of things that while not things you'd like to see in your daughter's boyfriend are perfectly fine on a baseball field. Harper came into one of the toughest situations a young player has ever stepped into at spring training this year. He was the most famous player in Nationals camp before he'd ever played in a pro game. That's the kind of situation filled with danger as far as fitting in with your teammates, but from what coaches/scouts have told us at BA, his teammates liked him. His teammates at Southern Nevada liked him. Is he intense? Absolutely. Does he carry himself with a swagger? Sure. But he backs up that swagger by being the best player on the field, it's not a false swagger. Makeup is judged on how it affects your ability to perform on the field, and are you a positive or negative force for your team. From that definition I've yet to here how Harper's makeup is a problem.

    David (Hartford, CT): Speaking of damaged talented high schoolers from 2009 who are out in extended, any word on Donavan Tate?

J.J. Cooper: Last we heard was June at best, so we're getting closer to his return. That being said, this is the Padres' nightmare scenario with Tate. No one needed at-bats more than Tate—he only has 109 pro at-bats as a 2009 draftee. At this rate, he'll likely need to repeat low Class A next year again at least for part of the season. The best way I can explain it is this. Questions are often raised about Aaron Hicks' development because he's only in high Class A in his fourth pro season after spending two years at low Class A. But Tate, drafted a year behind Hicks, is likely on a much slower path than that.

    Mark Antoch (Sparta): I've hear varying opinions on Brad Peacock, with some saying he's no more than a 4-5 starter to some saying he's a potential star. What do you think of him?

J.J. Cooper: Back-of-the rotation starter seems more accurate to me, but hey, that's a good thing. Teams need No. 4 starters.

    Marcus (Silver Spring): Can you compare Starling to Harper please?

J.J. Cooper: No real comparison to me. Starling is a very toolsy, but raw high school hitter. Harper is one of those rare once-a-generation types. He was an 80 power prospect as a 17-year-old, and unlike almost any other 17-year-old, he had proven himself in a wood-bat junior college league.

    James (Oklahoma): How far behind Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran are Jeury Familia and Carlos Martinez? ( Cards P )

J.J. Cooper: The only thing Miller has on Martinez is success at higher levels, innings under his belt and a better frame. But those are three significant factors. I like Familia, but I don't see him being part of the discussion with these other three.

J.J. Cooper: It's time for me to wrap this up, so we can post more draft stuff before the weekend arrives. Thanks everyone for the questions.