Midseason Top 50 Prospects Chat
Hi, everyone. We unveiled our Midseason Top 50 Prospects list
today, and J.J. Cooper and I are here to chat about that. I'm leading
off and will be here for the next 30-45 minutes before J.J. takes over.
And with the draft signing deadline eight days away, I'll answer some
draft questions if you have those as well.
Mike Zando (Alabama): You guys sure are all in on Nick Castellanos, why? Does the lack of power not concern you?
I don't see a lack of power in a guy who's
slugging .520 with isolated power of .162. There's power in there,
average to plus pop, and he's just 20 and already in Double-A.
Matt (Delaware): I am very intrigued by Duane
Underwood and saw you had him ranked as the 17th best high school
prospect going into this year. I calculated that the Cubs are more than
$500k+ under their draft pool, but will that mostly be used for Almora
or Underwood? Any chance that they don't get the latter and sign
I think they'll sign Underwood in the next
couple of days and then get Almora done sometime next week, perhaps on
deadline day (July 13). I don't see them signing Wiseman, who's going to
Chris (Toronto): I'm a bit surprised you guys left off Anthony Rendon, would be like in the top 10 if he wasn't hurt?
As the resident Anthony Rendon apologist on
the staff, I argued unsuccessfully for his inclusion. I still don't
have any questions that he was the best hitter in the 2011 draft, but
his latest injury has even me worrying a little about his health. A
fully healthy Rendon, for me, would rank No. 10 right behind Manny
Tim (Pittsburgh, PA): Where would some of the top 2012 draft picks like Buxton, Zunino, etc. figure to be ranked on this list?
I had someone submit that as a question for
the next edition of Ask BA on Monday, and I'll tackle it there. A
number of 2012 draftees, along with Jorge Soler, would fit on this Top
James (Australia): Okay let me preface this by
saying , I am a massive Cubs fan, but no Josh Vitters, that really
doesn't seem fair! He is having by far his best ever professional season
hitting .300 at Triple A, finally starting to walk a bit more (22BB)
and hit for some good power (13 HR). I mean at least tell me he came
As someone who does our Cubs Top 30 for the
Prospect Handbook every year, I talk to people incessantly about
Vitters. He has made some progress, but his ceiling is solid regular and
the guys on this list have higher ceilings than that. I'm also not sold
Vitters could be an everyday third baseman at the big league level. I
think you'd want a better defender than that. So no, I can't tell you he
even received consideration for the Top 50.
Kyle (Chicago): Did Jorge Soler sign too late to be included? or he's not a top 50 prospect?
We didn't include this summer's draft and international signees on the list, in keeping with our past tradition.
Bud (Milwaukee): Draft question - do you have any feeling for how much lower the total draft spending will be this year vs last year?
Counting major league salaries in big
league contracts (deals that are no longer permissible under the new
rules), the industry spent $236 million on the 2012 draft. The bonus
pools for the first 10 rounds add up to $190 million, and I think teams
will spend most of that. I'm estimating roughly $20 million for rounds
11-40, so let's say $207 million.
Ben (Leland Grove): O's management wouldn't rule out a late season callup for Bundy if they are contending. Do you buy this?
I think they'll fade down the stretch, but
if they do contend, I think they'd have to at least consider promoting
Bundy. Why wouldn't they? He might be better now than anyone currently
on their big league staff.
Pat (Okla. City, Ok.): Thanks for your time: Will all the #1 picks sign??
What about Traver and Virant??
Call me an optimist, but I do believe that
the seven unsigned first-round picks all will sign in the end. The
Astros have done a great job signing players, but they don't have enough
money left over to make a run at Hunter Virant or Mitchell Traver (or
@Jaypers413 (IL): How far down the totem pole did Mike Montgomery slide? Do you believe a demotion to AA is in his future?
He wasn't close in my mind. He really
hasn't been the same guy since he strained his forearm in April 2010,
and it's silly to pretend that he is. He's only 22, and he'd still be
ahead of most guys his age if he got demoted to Double-A.
Francisco Jardel (Brazil): Hello Jim! I am a
Brazilian fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and wonder if there's something
new in negotiations with Mark Appel? Thank you!
Nothing new. I still see that playing out
like I've been saying since the Pirates took him. They'll be able to
offer him around $4 million without giving up a draft pick, and I think
it makes the most sense for him to sign that deal rather than
re-entering the 2013 draft. I don't believe the Pirates will spend past
that and give up a 2013 first-rounder, nor should they.
Aaron (Dallas): Dylan Bundy and Jurickson
Profar are the top 2 prospects no doubt. But what did it come down to
when deciding who would be number 1 and who would be number 2?
You could really make a case for either of
those guys as No. 1, and I don't know if there's any particular reason
to take one over the other. Bundy was so spectacular as soon as he
entered pro ball, so he made a little bigger impression so far this
stephen (nyc): how about yanks # 1, will he
sign? Also what's your opinion on Mason Williams do you see him as a
hitter who could hit 15 to 18 HR and maintain high onbase average?
I do think the Yankees will sign Ty Hensley
in the next week. I love Mason Williams as a prospect, and I believe
yours are reasonable expectations.
I'm now handing the baton to J.J. Cooper. See you again next week!
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Would Billy Hamilton drop
in the rankings if he moved off SS to CF, or would his speed there
provide enoguh defensive value to mitigate going down the defensive
Hey guys, I'll jump in now. I don't
Hamilton's ranking would drop significantly with a move to CF because
the defensive questions are already factored into the rankings. You
don't find many scouts who think that Hamilton will ever be a plus
defender at SS because of his arm, and you can find a number of scouts
and coaches who think that if Hamilton moved to CF he could be a Gold
Glover, so while a SS is more valuable, you're talking about a
potentially plus or plus-plus defender in CF versus an average or tick
Joe (St. Louis): Pretty surprised that both:
Oscar Taveras & Francisco Lindor didn't crack your top 10. I like my
chances by the end of the year, especially Taveras— you?
Who would you have put them ahead of? I do
think that Taveras is a guy who can keep climbing this list, as he's
coming from farther back and he is answering some of the questions we've
seen in the past—questions of focus, defensive position, etc.
Bobby (South Jersey): Was Jesse Biddle close to making the list? Will he be a Top 100 guy at the end of the season? Thanks!
He was getting mentions from some scouts.
To give a little more insight on how we put this list together, here's
an explainer. We put together a preliminary Top 100 list and ran that by
numerous pro scouts (25+) who were asked to offer their input on who
was too high, who was too low, who needed to be added and who shouldn't
be on the list. Biddle wasn't on our initial list, but we saw his name
come up from scouts who thought he should be included, so yes, I think
he has a good chance of being a top 100 guy.
Simon (Toronto): So a 20-year-old Oscar Taveras
is putting up better numbers than a 24-year-old Mike Olt in the same
league. Explain how in the world Olt is rated higher?
That's 23-year-old Olt. You can argue
Taveras ahead of Olt and make a solid case, but Olt looks to be a solid
defender at a more premium defensive position while there are still
questions about if Taveras will ever be average defensively in the
Jason (Michigan): Daniel Norris and Robert
Stephenson both debuted recently and have relatively high ceilings.
Their first three or four outings were solid. Do you see either of these
guys breaking into the Top 50 at the end of the season?
I think both could be Top 100 guys at the
end of the year, but top draft picks from the previous draft pitching in
rookie/short-season ball are going to have a hard time cracking the top
Steve (Detroit): Tigers prospect Avasail Garcia is beginning to catch some eyes. Does he have a chance of breaking the Top 50 at season's end?
That seems a little steep. He wasn't
really close to making the top 50 at the midseason point, and the end of
season top 50 will be tougher with the additions of international
signees and '12 draftees.
Roger (washington, DC): What's your best guess
on Gary Brown's likely development at this point? And does his torrid
June make you feel any better about him?
Scouts who don't like him were projecting
him as a good fourth outfielder. Not ready to go that far, but his
prospect status has taken a hit. Sure his June makes you feel better,
but I wouldn't call .284/.355/.404 torrid, more like what you would
expect him to do all year.
Johnny (Minooka, IL): How has Walker done enough to warrant being the #4 prospect?
This isn't all based on current stats. We
don't award rankings as a prize for what a prospect has done. What
Walker has done is shown potential front-of-the-rotation stuff as a
19-year-old pitching in Double-A.
Brandon (Minneapolis, MN): Does Delino DeShields crack the top 100?
He's going to be in consideration. I'd lean to no, but if he has a second half like the first half, his name will be mentioned.
Phil (Chicago): Not a BA subscriber, but I
would guess that Brett Jackson was noted under the prospects whose stock
had dropped. Any chance that he regains stock and is in the Top 50 at
the end of the season? Thanks.
Good guess, but hey subscribe and you'll
get all kind of goodies like that. My best guess on the end of season
rankings is no. Jackson never wowed scouts with any plus-plus tool, now
he's got a significant wart in a strikeout rate that is baffling.
Chris (NJ): Andrew Chafin not considered a surprise?
If we had put these rankings together a
month ago he would have been, but June was mighty unkind to Chafin. It's
still a very nice season, but he hasn't shown the same stuff in recent
Greg (OH): 7 of top 10 prospects are pitchers;
is that a product of this seasons talent or do you guys place higher
value on pitchers over position players?
It's the product mainly of the '11 draft.
If you look at the '11 draft, five of the top seven picks were pitchers
while the two positions players are an outfielder playing in the Appy
League and a third baseman who has suffered his fourth significant
injury in four years.
Matt (Malone, NY): Jose Fernandez has had a
nice season, but 8th!!?? And ahead of Wheeler? Seems like you guys have
skewed the list in favor of players having great seasons in the low
minors. I can't fathom how Fernandez is considered a better prospect
We didn't initially have Fernandez ranked
that high, but scout after scout kept telling us he was a top 10
prospect. You don't hear scouts throwing around #1 starter potential on
many guys. Again, it wasn't based entirely on stats, it was based in
significant part on what scouts are seeing.
Zach (MN): What are the scouts' takes on Miguel
Sano's hit tool? It always scares me when somebody with his skill-set
k's at this rate in low-a. Has his ceiling, or maybe the likelihood that
he reaches it, been diminished at all by what he's doing at Beloit this
They are worried about the hit tool.
Sano's approach isn't particularly advanced at this point, so some
scouts see him as a guy who can hit a mistake a mile, but can be pitched
to by a pitcher who knows what he's doing. He's still young enough to
figure it out, but it is a concern.
Alan (Asia): I'm just wondering how Handsome
Jake Marisnick managed to rise ~30 spots despite underwhelming at times
this year and not being terribly young for A+. Certainly surprising to
see him ahead of guys like Starling and Springer.
An .800 OPS in the Florida State League is
not underwhelming. Both the guys you mentioned have more questions
about their hit tool than Marisnick.
Andy (Canada): Jose Fernandez didn't make the
pre-season Top 100 but jumped all the way into the Top 10... that's got
to be pretty unheard of, right?
Not entirely unheard of but very rare.
Coming into the season he was a well-regarded high school arm from last
year's draft, but it was hard to differentiate him from any of the other
second group (non-Bundy/Archie Bradley) of high school arms in that
draft. Now he's shown outing after outing that he has potential ace
Ittox (Aguadilla PR): How close were Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters from making the list?
Not that close, further away and not that
close to making the list. Jackson's K-rate is a major concern for a guy
who doesn't have a lot of 65s on his scouting report. Szczur is a solid
prospect, but didn't really compare yet to the guys at the back end of
the 50 and Vitters is having a much better season, but there still
doesn't appear to be a whole lot of ceiling there.
Randy K (Kansas): What's the latest info on
Anthony Rendon and when he might return to action? Do you anticipate
him playing in the AFL this year? I'd imagine he's a guy who will
likely shoot up the offseason rankings if he performs as expected.
Rendon told Houston-area media that he
won't play again during the regular season, something the Nationals
disputed at the time. Usually teams are more likely to be optimistic
about a player's return and then adjust that timetable backwards, so I
wouldn't be shocked to see him not play again until instructs. As Jim
explained earlier, he leads the pro-Rendon camp in the office. Count me
as one of the prime Rendon skeptics. He's not going to shoot up my
personal rankings by having a good AFL because the big problem would
still remain—he has trouble staying healthy. At some point, I worry
that this cascade of injuries is going to mean we don't see the same
Rendon we saw back in 2010 when he was fully healthy—a la Reese Havens.
One injury is a fluke, two is a run of bad luck, but in Rendon's case,
we've now seen four major injuries in the same time than it took Bryce
Harper to go from high school to the majors. There are two hitters on
our preseason Top 100 who have missed most of the season, Rendon is one
of them. Rendon was supposed to go to the Arizona Fall League last year
after a tune-up in instruction league, but he wasn't able to go. That
came after he saw his numbers significantly diminished during his junior
year at Rice because of a significant shoulder injury. That came after
he saw his summers cut short in back-to-back years with foot/ankle
Jack (San Diego): Does Matt Dominguez crack the Astros' top ten?
No. The Astros system is much improved
over a couple of years ago, and at this point, Dominguez's prospect
status has taken a hit. Even when he was at his peak value, you could
find a lot of scouts who didn't think he could hit in the majors.
Considering he's been putting up one of the worst offensive seasons of
his minor league career this year, on the heels of struggles last year,
he has to prove he can hit enough to let his gold glove caliber defense
at third base shine. Maybe the Astros can find some tweaks that help
him, but for now, there's more reasons to be skeptical than confident
that he can be an everyday big leaguer.
CA (KSA): You mention Manny Machado's significant ceiling. At this point what do you think that ceiling is?
One of the best middle infielders in baseball.
Brian (Ohio): Dillon Howard has had a tough start in the AZL. Is he still a top 100 guy?
No. But he never was a Top 100 guy, so that's not a change.
Robert (Secaucus, NJ): Was Daniel Corcino close to the top 50?
Yes. Him and Cingrani both.
Jack (Mo): A little surprised to see Rosenthal
get some consideration. Does that mean he now has some #2/3 starter
upside instead of just a solid mid-rotation type?
If he can stick as a starter, his stuff is
better than that of a 4th-5th starter, but a No. 3 starter is a
mid-rotation type, so maybe I'm not understanding your question.
Brian (Ohio): Jesus Aguilar still strikes out a
lot, but has walked 32 times already compared to only 46 last year.
Where is he on the prospect radar?
On the radar, but the life of a big right-right first baseman is a tough one. He wasn't really close to the top 50.
rich (PA): Has Teheran's ceiling diminished in your opinion or just your confidence in him reaching it?
Confidence in reaching it. His stuff is
not as electric this year as it has been in the past. Maybe he gets that
back, but for now, there is a reason he's only been a spot-starter in
Atlanta this year.
Bryan (San Jose, CA): What order would you put
the Giants top 3 prospects? I think it's safe to assume it's between
Brown, Crick or Joseph (not including draft picks). And did any of the
three come close to the list? I feel like Joseph doesn't get enough pub
as a solid defensive catcher with power
I think Crick and Joseph are a good notch ahead of Brown at this point.
Fred (New York): Any thoughts about Brian
Goodwin, if not for the top 50 then the guys just off the preseason top
100 who are making consistent advances?
He was in consideration. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him on the top 100 at the end of the year.
Halvy (Seattle): What can you tell me about
Gregory Polanco? I haven't heard much about him until seeing him
mentioned on the list of first-half surprises. Thanks...
Definitely a name to watch. If we had gone 100 deep he would have been on the list.
Kyle (Maine): Did Matt Barnes' recent struggles
not change the overall view of him at all, or was this list mostly done
before those struggles happened?
The list was largely put together before
his last two starts, but his stuff has been similar in those starts from
what we've heard, so it wouldn't have changed much.
Teddy R. (Nats Town): Do Rendon's injuries
really drop him out of the Top 50? If the Nats offered Rendon to the
Pirates for Hanson, to the Yankees for Austin, or the Brewers for
Thornburg, wouldn't those teams accept that offer easily?
I'm not certain they would. The known,
especially the healthy-known, often trumps the unknown, especially when
that guy keeps getting hurt.
Brant (Stratham, NH): It is amazing to see so
many picks from the 2011 draft in the top 50, but I was shocked by Bubba
Starlings rank. Is there legitimate concern or is he just young and
needs to develop?
We knew before last year's draft that the
hit tool would be Starling's biggest question, but I think it's fair to
say that those questions are even more present now with him working on
tweaking his swing and being sent to the Appalachian League. And as far
as the young part, he'll turn 20 next month.
Jason (New York): Very excited here in New York
about Wheeler's season. I've heard several experts say future #3
starter, but his performance reflects that of a future #2 starter or
even a #1a (Dan Haren, Yovanni Gallardo, type production). What kind of
future do you project for young Mr. Wheeler?
It's hard to get into those gradations, but the stuff is there for him to be a #2 type starter.
Jack (CT): Surprised to see Barnes and
Fernandez so high. It feels a little bit like overcompensation for
maybe being too how on them heading into the year. Would most teams
really take Bradley last from that trio?
I'll repeat this again our lists aren't
just us sitting around putting it together and posting it. We don't
think "we were too low on this guy so lets make up for it by
over-ranking him." We talked to scout after scout to make this list, and
those two guys kept coming up as guys we needed to rank higher than we
had them on our initial list. So we kept moving them up.
thomas (NEO): Why so High on Machado? Where's
the bat? And from BA's perspective, he might not even stick @ SS?
Sounds like a #65 prospect rather than a #9!
Did you see the story we had recently that
pointed out that Machado's production as a teenage SS in AA is actually
impressive when you consider the age and league he's in?
Jay (Madison): Though very young, DBundy isn't
really dominating at Frederick. He's clearly a top prospect but why do
you rate him higher than Walker, Fernandez and some of the other equally
impressive young arms?
Scouts say they haven't seen many pitchers
ever who look like Bundy does at his age. We actually had Profar ranked
No. 1 on the list before we started running it by scouts, and over and
over we heard that Bundy needed to be No. 1. I've given this answer
before, but please don't expect our rankings to just be a sorting of
players based on their current stats. It's not that stats aren't
important, they are, but you can get that list from a lot of different
places and you can put one together yourself. What we try to give you is
a list that takes stats into consideration, but also puts great weight
on what scouts are seeing and what they project for the future.
Brad (MO): Did the BA staff expect Bubba
Starling to start the year in Kane County? What has changed since the
Top 100 came out to drop him from 24 to 46?
There was an expectation that he had a
good chance to go to Kane County to start the season. Then there was an
expectation that he could possibly join the Cougars in-season. The
concerns about his hit tool are even stronger now than they were coming
out of last season. He may figure those things out, but that explains
why he's in Burlington, and why he's ranked No. 46.
John Finley (Chagrin Falls, Ohio): Was there any consideration to include Jacob Turner on the top 50 list?
Consideration yes, but he doesn't seem to
be the prospect these days that he was coming out of high school. You
want to see him miss more bats.
Mike G. (Cleveland,OH): Did Tony Cingrani come close to making the list? He hasn't slowed down after his recent promotion to AA.
He came close. It wasn't long ago he was
thought of as a future reliever, you find a lot more people believing he
can start these days.
Mel (Spokane): How close were Aaron Sanchez and Justin Nicolino to making the top 50?
Sanchez was pretty close. Nicolino a little further away.
Peter (Toronto): Archie Bradley at 16, yet none of the Lansing 3 not on this list is a travesty then.
Why? I don't think you can find a scout
who disagrees with that assessment. I know we couldn't find one who
liked any of those guys better than Bradley.
Josh (Texas): Where would Yasmani Grandal have
ranked had he been included? Also, even though I am high on Gyorko, it
doesn't feel like you guys are. Your side please?
Grandal would have been in the 40-50
range. Some scouts have concerns about Gyorko's athleticism and how that
affects his ceiling.
Jose (DR): Hola JJ! Has Gary Sanchez made
improvements with his defense behind the plate this season, and have his
chances to stick at catcher changed?
Scouts don't like him much at all as a catcher. But they like his bat a lot.
Roger (Greenville, SC): Did Bubba Starling's
first week of play figure significantly in his rating? The 3 K
performance in his first game got most of the press, but other than one
more 3 K game he's been dominant.
No. Not at all, and if it did, we would
not be doing our jobs. This isn't the Hot Sheet which looks at the best
performances of the past week. We're trying to project what a guy's
value will be over the next 10 years or more. If we base that on what he
did on Tuesday night, we're crazy.
Mike (STL): On pure offensive potential, is Taveras on par with Wil Myers? Does he have a potential 60/70 bat with 60/70 power?
I'd say potentially a better hitter than Myers with less power.
Jeff (Madison): If you had a gun to your head Delino DeShields Jr. or Kolten Wong?
Um Wong, which is why he's in the 50 and DeShields is not.
Warren (Tennessee): Between low-A centerfield prospects Gregory Polanco and Brian Goodwin, who do you like? Either one close to the top 50?
Give me Polanco.
tony (Albuquerque): From last year to this year
Oscar Taveras has rocketed up Top 100 lists. Do you see any parellels
between his rise and Trout's in 2010?
Not really because Trout is a vastly
superior athlete to Taveras. Taveras is an otherworldly hitter, but
Trout is that, but he's also one of the fastest players in the game,
he's a much better defender than Taveras and I think he'll hit for more
power than Taveras.
Fred (IL): Overall thoughts on Cubs SS Javier Baez?
A whole lot to like, still has some growing up to do.
wayne (camarillo ca): How could Miles Head not be in the top 50? Led Cal league in hitting and doing well at Double A.
He's a short first baseman (although the A's are currently playing him at 3B). Again, this isn't all based on stats.
Max (San Diego): Was Rymer Liriano close to breaking your Top 50? After a rough start he seems to be putting it together at High A
It was surprising how many scouts didn't
think Liriano was a top 50 prospect. We had him on our initial top 50,
but multiple scouts said they didn't think his hitting approach would
work at more advanced levels. Often they'd follow it up by saying "but
you have to give it to him, as it's worked up to now."
Fonz (Milwaukee): He's not top 50 material, but does T. Beckham profile as a MLB average starting shortstop at his peak?
Not to me. I don't think he can handle the position defensively.
Mike G (Minnesota): Bubba Starling was ranked
24th best prospect in baseball to start the season. He has dropped 22!
spots in half of a season during which time others have lost eligibility
for the list and he has played six games. That is shocking, and doesn't
give much credibility to your ranking process. No way that much has
changed in his projection since February. Would love to hear something
explaining this drop, since the blurb in the insider rankings doesn't
make much sense (referencing hit tool questions, which if true were
present in Feb, and a slow start, which he has not had).
I think we explained this somewhat
already. Mike, I think you're missing the point when you say he's played
six games. Actually he's played 80+ games at this point, but only six
where the stats count. He was in extended spring training because he's
working on being a more consistent hitter. The Royals said in spring
training that he would head to the Midwest League when he had a solid
week or two where it all clicked in extended spring. If that didn't
happen before June, then he'd head to rookie/short-season ball. It never
happened where it all clicked. The fact that he's in the Appy League,
and that he had to work on some swing mechanic changes already lead to
more concerns than if he was holding his own in the Midwest League right
now. Starling's timetable to the majors is longer now than it appeared
to be in February. That may seem insignificant to you, but it's not to a
lot of scouts.
Scott (Chicago): Was there any consideration
for Dan Straily? He has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the
minors this year. What kind of ceiling does he have?
If you're a subscriber, you'll see his name in the prospect surprises list.
John (Richmond, ca): Seems you guys are really
hard on Oscar Taveras for some reason. I read several managers in the
Texas League say he is a great all-around player, by far the best hitter
in the league and solid defensively now. Yet BA constantly nick picks
him about defense, etc. You rave about Machado having good numbers for
his age at AA, while Taveras puts up numbers in another stratosphere
than Machado, yet gets no love at all from BA. He should be top 5 or 10
for sure. A scout mentioned two days that Taveras is the best offensive
prospect in the game or Wil Myers and the numbers show that. Something
is really wrong with BA's ranking on Taveras. I think BA needs to
explain why ?
We love Taveras. I have been a giant fan
for a while, and loved doing a feature on him last year when he was
breaking out in the MWL. But we weren't hearing any scouts tell us he
needed to be in the top 10 right now. That's 25+ scouts.
Thanks for all the questions. If you have more, hit me up @jjcoop36 on Twitter. We'll be back tomorrow with the Hot Sheet chat.