Prospect Hot Sheet

Moderator: J.J. Cooper will chat about prospects beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): During the Aflac game, if I'm not mistaken I saw a Jameson Taillon comparison to Stephen Strasburg. Is there any substance to that?

J.J. Cooper: Not really...I can see comping someone's physical resemblance to Strasburg, but there's one Strasburg. Heck, it's even hard to comp Strasburg for a big leaguer because his stuff is so unique.

    Todd (Chattanooga): What do you see in Tyler Colvin's future? 4th/utility outfielder?

J.J. Cooper: That sounds about right to me. Being a lefty bat will help him, and he can play both corner spots. He's not the athlete he was when the Cubs drafted him, and he's clearly on the slow track, so he still has some work to do to reach that level.

    Lance (Memphis): With his strong finish to the season and his combination of power and speed, Nieuwenhuis seems to be making a case to be among the Mets top 10 prospects. Where do you think he ranks among Mets prospects?

J.J. Cooper: He's got to be in the discussion. He's among the Mets minor league leaders in HRs and SBs and has shown that he could handle skipping low Class A. He just turned 22, so it's good that he did skip low A from a developmental standpoint. As far as having a combination of speed, power and an ability to hit, Nieuwenhuis ranks among the better Mets prospects. One aside with this. In looking up where Nieuwenhuis ranked in the Mets organization in multiple categories, it jumps out that no one in the Mets system has more than 18 stolen bases this year, which is pretty shocking for the team that always used to have an Esix Snead, Wayne Lydon or Angel Pagan bouncing around.

    Todd (Chattanooga): Which 4 would you take? Heyward, Hanson, Schafer, & Freeman - or - Stanton, Morrison, West, & Maybin?

J.J. Cooper: I'll go with the Braves, the big reason being Hanson vs. West. Nothing against West, but he's not the prospect Hanson is. I'd give Maybin an edge over Schafer, but not enough to balance out West vs. Hanson. With Heyward and Freeman joining Hanson in Atlanta, the Braves are about to get interesting in the next year or so.

    dave (houston): what do you think the A's are goin to do with jemille weekes with Cardenas starting to get his feet under him in triple a. Do either project good anywhere else on the diamond??

J.J. Cooper: Cardenas could slide over to 3B, and several scouts/managers I've talked to seem to think his bat is good enough to make that move. I know he played a good bit of SS at Midland, but there's a lot of skepticism over whether Cardenas could handle shortstop at the big league level. Weeks on the other hand seems pretty set as a second baseman.

    Mike (Tennessee): Does Juan Francisco have a chance to make the Top 100 this year, and where would he rank in the Reds Top 10?

J.J. Cooper: He'll likely be in the Reds Top 10, and he has an outside shot I'd say at making the Top 100, but to be honest right now, I'm baffled as to what to do with him. The track record of players who swing at everything like Francisco does isn't very good. Vladimir Guerrero is held up as the patron saint of free-swingers because he can get base hits on balls that bounce, but he walked more than he struck out in his final minor league season. It's hard to find a big league hitter who's had long-term success with the strikeout-to-walk rates that Francisco has had in the minors. In fact, I'll throw it out to the chatters. Can anyone come up with someone who's walked as little as Francisco (who will set a career high this year if he gets up to 25 BBs) while striking out 100+ times a season who has had long-term big league success? Come up with somebody and I'll laud you at the end of the chat.

    Scott (Chicago, IL): when could Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier become regulars for the Reds? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: I'd say Frazier's closer to getting a big league job than Francisco. Still trying to track down scouting reports on how Frazier's looking at second base, but his relatively polished bat and his ability to play multiple positions means he shouldn't be too far away from helping out in Cincinnati.

    Tara (Tampa): If you could choose between Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson for your team, which would you pick and why?

J.J. Cooper: I'll go with Hellickson, which is a different answer than I may have given last year. Davis has better pure stuff, but Hellickson seems to have a better feel for what to do with it and he's more comfortable mixing it up.

    larry (chicago): When are AFL rosters going to be released? And what's the status of the "junior" AFL league for less experienced minor leaguers?

J.J. Cooper: If past history is a guide we should get them next week. The junior league has been cancelled to save money which is a shame. Whether in Hawaii or Arizona, it would be helpful to have a league for less polished players to get more ABs or innings, especially for players who were injured during the summer.

    Lee (Hagerstown, MD): I love these prospect chats! Where do you expect the Pirates system to rank this year among all MLB teams? With Alvarez, Tabata, Alderson, Sanchez, D. McCuthcen, Bixler, Clement, Hernandez all possibly receiving time next year in Pittsburgh and the plethora of talent in the lower minors can we expect the Bucs to be competitive in the coming years? Thanks...Go BUCCOS!

J.J. Cooper: Lee, with all sincerity major kudos to you for sticking with your team. It's obviously been hard to stay optimistic over the past decade or so. I do like what the Pirates are doing—it's not like Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez was going to lead the Pirates back to the playoffs so why not trade them and get some young talent? But I do worry that Pittsburgh has more complimentary prospects than franchise players. Alvarez looks like he could be a franchise player, but they need one or two of their other prospects to develop to that level, and right now, I don't know which one of those prospects can do that.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): J.J., thanks for the chat first and foremost. Do you think, as odd as this sounds for a 19 year old in AA, that we could actually see a spike in Brett Lawrie's numbers after leaving behind the Midwest League?

J.J. Cooper: Not by going to Double-A. If he was jumping from the Carolina League to Double-A maybe, because we'll see that, but as a 19-year-old in Double-A just keeping his head above water would be a solid accomplishment.

    DaveH (Savannah GA): Has Logan Morrison surpassed Smoak as the top 1B prospect in the game? I realize Smoak is immensely talented, and he frequently gets rave reviews from scouts, but his [power] numbers have not been that impressive. {I do realize he was injured, but so was LoMo}.

J.J. Cooper: If you ask three different scouts about Morrison, Smoak and Freddie Freeman, you may get three different answers. The best answer I have is that all three are excellent prospects, and if healthy, Yonder Alonso isn't far behind that group either.

    Harry (Toronto): Doesn't Snider have in excess of 130 AB's? How did he make your Blast From the Past section?

J.J. Cooper: Blast for the Past is the one section not limited to prospects, in fact it's largely limited to non-prospects. Bruce Chen, Shawn Estes and Shelley Duncan have been among other honorees this year. It's given to a former prospect who is producing in the minors right now.

    DaveH (Savannah GA): Is Domonic Brown almost up to the level of Heyward and Stanton? Heyward's game appears to be pretty fireproof, Stanton still has SO/contact issues, is there any area that Brown appears to need to improve greatly? ... because I struggle to find any dirt on him

J.J. Cooper: That's a good way to put it. Brown is at least in the discussion with Heyward and Stanton because there really isn't any huge flaw to his game. He can hit, now he's showing he can hit for power, he can run well for a big man and he's an excellent right fielder. Add it all up and you're talking about a franchise cornerstone. I'd say he's a safer bet than Stanton, although I'd still rank it Heyward, Stanton, Brown right now because of Stanton's ceiling.

    grant (wpg): Any future for Dopirak? Seems like he should be passed being a prospect, so long ago that he was hyped, but he's still just 25 (or about the same age as Clay Bucholz), and tearing up AA and AAA.

J.J. Cooper: Dopirak is a favorite of mine from a "don't give up on his yet" standpoint. The tools were always there, even when he fell apart at the plate. He seems to have figured it out again. Playing in Las Vegas will help inflate a hitter's numbers, but Dopirak has now been producing again for two seasons. Before it's all over, I'd be shocked if he didn't get a shot at the big leagues, but because of his past failure, he's got a smaller window for success than a more highly-regarded prospect. I could see him having a Jack Cust type career (although he's not the same kind of hitter as Cust as he has less patience and less strikeouts) where he bounces around but eventually runs into 400-500 at-bats somewhere because of his power potential.

    Jake (San Fran): Has Madison Bumgarner's stuff and command gotten any "worse" over the course of this season? His numbers are not as dominant as last season's, though we all knew he couldn't keep that up! Is it just the competition getting tougher, his lack of experience/make-up, or him losing something off his pitches? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Reports are that his velo has dropped a little in the last month or so, although most pitchers would kill for the 1-0, 2.57 August he's had. Not that I'm not high on Bumgarner, but count me in the camp that still wants to see him refine his secondary pitches, as I don't believe any starting pitcher can dominate long-term in the big leagues without a second pitch that batters have to worry about.

    Alex (Atlanta): The major league comp for Strasburg seems pretty clear to me: Justin Verlander. 100 mph fastball and a 70 BrB, with good control to boot.

J.J. Cooper: That's the best comp I've heard. I was going to go with J.R. Richard, which shows how old I am.

    Eric (Detroit): What do you guys think of Alex Avila? Was he ever considered a top prospect? Is he ready to be Detroit's every day catcher next season?

J.J. Cooper: I've been blown away by his season. He was considered a prospect—he was No. 20 in the Tigers system in this year's handbook—but he has proven to be a better catcher and a better hitter than expectations. Great pick for the Tigers.

    Nalin (Norfolk, VA): Surprised at all to see Neftali Feliz dominating as much as he has so far? Think the Rangers groom him as a starter after this year or let him be a dominant force at the back of the bullpen?

J.J. Cooper: Not surprised that much, as his fastball is a molten-lava heater, and pitching out of the pen, that's all he needs, which is why he's throwing it 75 percent of the time. When a pitcher dominates like he has in the pen, it can be awfully tempting to keep him there, just ask Billy Wagner, Ugueth Urbina (yes I'm going back a ways) or even Joba Chamberlain. I'd expect to see the Rangers give Feliz another shot at starting next year, but at this point, it all comes down to where he can help the Rangers more. Clearly right now he can dominate as a reliever. With the Rangers all of a sudden having a relatively deep rotation will they want to send him back next year to the minors to polish up his secondary stuff when they will have a playoff-caliber team that he could help immediately as a reliever? I don't know the answer to that one, but it's a good problem to have if you're the Rangers.

    Jim (Columbia, MD): I see that John Lamb almost made the Hot Sheet Top 13. Does he project as a soft-tossing lefty (e.g., 4 or 5 starter type), or is there more upside than that?

J.J. Cooper: More upside than that. He's not a soft-tosser as much as a guy with a big league average fastball and some potential to add a little more velo. No one calls Danny Duffy a soft-tosser and Lamb's stuff is as hard as Duffy's.

    Jason Heyward (MS): Can you possibly see me chugging coffee in Atlanta next month?

J.J. Cooper: If they want to give Heyward a taste of what the big leagues are like, sure. But as good as he is, I'd be surprised if he could hold his own at the big league level just yet, and I'd be worried that it's too much too soon. Heyward is a significantly better prospect than Jeff Francoeur, but the Braves ended up rushing Francoeur when they called him up, and he was a 21-year-old with 450 Double-A at-bats. Heyward is a 19-year-old with 141 Double-A at-bats. A little patience here is a good thing.

    Jason (New York): If Jarrod Parker doesn't need surgery, do you see him starting next season in the majors or a mid season call up?

J.J. Cooper: That's a big if there, but if he is fully healthy heading into spring training, I'd still see him as a call-up. For one thing, it's much easier to ease him into the season coming off an injury when you're pitching in games that don't really count.

    Zack (New Jersey): Where do you rank Brandon Waring? Does he make the top 100?

J.J. Cooper: Waring's having a very good season and he has legit power, but he's not going to be a Top 100 guy. He's a 23-year-old first baseman in high Class A, which has to temper his stats. He's worth keeping an eye on if you're an Orioles fan because of his pop, but his ceiling is as a useful big league corner who reaches the big leagues as a 26-27 year-old, which doesn't give him much star potential.

    Ryan (RI): Ryan Howard. May not have been long term but he has been sucessful.

J.J. Cooper: Sorry that doesn't work as a Juan Francisco comp. Ryan Howard walked 66, 50 and 60 times in his three full minor league seasons. That's in another category from Francisco's walk rate.

    Drew (NY): How about Alfonso Soriano? Not a great match, since if Francisco is only walking 25 BBs in the minors, one would think he would walk fewer times against better pitching.

J.J. Cooper: Soriano's a better try, but he walked more (38, 32 and 25 times in 3 minor league seasons) and he never struck out 100 times in a minor league season.

    Steve (Ohio): Has Freddie Freeman's lack of power across hi-A and AA concerned you at all this year? I understand he's way young for his league, but just asking, as I've heard from other sources that think that Freeman won't be much more than a solid regular...

J.J. Cooper: I've talked to two different scouts who think Freeman can be a batting champion who hits 20 home runs or so. The swing has some power in it and he has an excellent frame. It will not be Heyward-type power, but he's only 19 in Double-A, so the fact that he hasn't produced that kind of power yet isn't that much of a concern.

    Dave (Toronto): Is Tim Collins for real?

J.J. Cooper: Yes. Look past the fact that he's 5-foot-6 or so because there is no projection involved. He has present stuff that's nasty. Don't expect to see him win a Cy Young or anything, but I'd be shocked if he doesn't make it to the big leagues.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): With Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton established as the clear top OF prospects in the minors, who is #3? Ackley? Jennings? Other?

J.J. Cooper: Ackley's in the discussion, but I'd go Domonic Brown.

    David (Toronto): I dont if catchers count, but pudge rodriguez had 9 walks in 129 games in 2007, and generally doesnt walk much, but hes in his 19th season

J.J. Cooper: I'm looking for someone who walked that few times in the minors. Hitters' walk rates often plunge and their K rates go up when they hit the big leagues, so it's not fair to make a majors to minors comp. Looking up Pudge, he didn't strike out more than 60 times in either of his two full minor league seasons and that was as a 17 and 18-year-old.

    Victor (Bronx, NY): Does Jesus Montero still have a shot at winning Minor league player of the year? Also, do you think Dellin Betances will ever live up to his potential, same for A. Brackman?

J.J. Cooper: Montero is on the short list as we get ready to deliberate on Monday. Right now I'd give Betances a better shot of reaching his potential than Brackman.

    Mick (NorCal): Who are the best closer prospects for 2010, and do you see any of them winning the job out of spring training?

J.J. Cooper: I'd have to put Drew Storen at the top of the list. I wouldn't be shocked to see him win that job in Washington at some point next year.

    Victor (Bronx, NY): I know Jesus Montero has defensive and ultimate position questions, but where does his bat rank amongst other top prospects like Staton, Heyward, Freeman and Brown?

J.J. Cooper: Right there with them. Montero's bat is one of the best in the minors.

    Dan (Milwaukee): Of all the draft picks (besides Strasburg), who do you see making an early impact on the major leagues? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Dustin Ackley is an advanced hitter who shouldn't take long to get to the big leagues. Drew Storen should move quickly as a polished reliever.

    David Beach (Houston, Texas): Hey there J.J., first off thank you for taking your time to answer these question's! I have to ask since I just read your answer on Dominic Brown, what makes Brown better than Michael Taylor? I ask this because if anyone were to write in & compare Taylor with Stanton & Heyward, you would probably laugh them on the chat room board; but when you look at everything EXCEPT for a few years age difference- Taylor is just as good if not better than Brown! Please explain, as Taylor has all the tool's that Brown does except Taylor has shown much better plate discipline & more power! Thanks again, Dave.

J.J. Cooper: But the problem with that is that when you're looking at prospects age is one of the biggest factors in their ceiling and potential. As a 21-year-old, Taylor was hitting 12 home runs at Stanford while Brown is hitting home runs in Double-A. One of the big reasons that Jason Heyward is the best hitting prospect in baseball is because he has shown that he can hit Double-A pitching as a teenager. You can't discount age when looking at prospects, because studies going back to Bill James have shown that one of the biggest predictors to a players chances of stardom is reaching the majors at a young age. Of the 10 most recent Hall of Fame inductees as hitters, nine of them were younger than Michael Taylor is right now when they made their big league debuts, and seven of them were 21 or younger. But one other point I will quibble with, Brown is a potential Gold Glove right fielder while Taylor is a solid left fielder who could slide over to right if needed.

    Jim (Miami): Will Mike Stanton become a regular for the Marlins in 2010 ?

J.J. Cooper: Maybe late in the season. He's a great talent, but he's not ready yet.

    Appleton (Brent): How come you only talk about the Steelers on Twitter? Or is that another JJCoop?

J.J. Cooper: I need to throw some more baseball in there. The Steelers are my other passion, but thanks for reminding me that I need to tweet more baseball.

    Lee (Hagerstown, MD): Juan Francisco = Wily Mo Pena! Good Luck!

J.J. Cooper: That's the best comp I've seen, which also explains my point I guess. Pena had 80 power, but his best BB-K rate in the minors was 36 walks-126 Ks as a 20-year-old in Double-A in 2002, which is better than Francisco's rate and probably explains my skepticism.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone, but I need to wrap this up. We'll have major league best tools on Monday followed by the start of our summer league Top 10s next week.