I'll be starting a couple of minutes late.
JP Starkey (IBC, CT): Who do you think will
reach the show first, Moustakas or Stanton?
Stanton. He has more time in Double-A for
one thing, but also he has a clearer path to the majors. The Marlins
have a need in the outfield, while with the Royals what does it help to
bring Moustakas up this year? All you do is start his clock. Also
Moustakas is coming off a subpar 2009, so there's no reason to not give
him a full season in Double-A this year to prove he's made a serious
Chris (Cleveland): Does De la Cruz have
frontline potential or is he more of a 3-4 starter?
It all depends on if his stuff comes back.
Right now he's a 3-4-5, but at his best his stuff is better than that.
He knows how to pitch, he challenges hitters and his stuff is OK right
Henry (Chicago): What do you think of the Cubs
decision to call up Starlin Castro? Do you think he will be successful
Figured we would get plenty of Castro
questions today. If you're wondering if this is good for the long term
you can debate whether that, but the Cubs clearly aren't looking at the
long-term ramifications—they're 13-16 and coming off an awful series
against the Pirates. So right now long-term success is much less
important to the front office than the chance that Castro can help them
win one or two more games this month. Castro has the hitting ability to
make an impact, but the list of 20-year-olds who don't need a while to
adjust to the major leagues is a pretty short one.
Mike (Pitt): Where do you see Tabata ultimately
hitting in the Pirates line-up? Can he be an effective leadoff hitter?
I just got down talking to Frank Kremblas
about Tabata for a Prospect Bulletin and was asking that question. Right
now he does fit much better as a top of the order kind of hitter than
someone who hits 3-4-5-6. Tabata runs better than you may think (he's a
plus runner) and he has a swing to hit for average. There's always been
the expectation that he may develop into a middle-of-the-order guy, but
up to now he's looked much better as a table-setter.
Kurt (Houston): What.....no Billy Ray "Rojo"
Johnson on the list? I thought he would be near the top.
Unfortunately he got tossed before
recording an out...and he truly is a bad-body pitcher, but he was in the
running for Helium.
Laura (ks): John Lamb had a great week, did he
get a second look from your staff?
He was among those in consideration (6 IP,
1 R, 9 Ks) but it was a tough week to make it as a pitcher—a lot of
guys with no runs and lots of Ks. He's one of the better prospects in
the Royals system, expect to see the walks go down as he gets more
comfortable in the MWL.
David (Hartford, CT): Drew Cumberland posted a
.556/608/889 line to move his season average over .400 this week. How
much consideration was he given? Were the two games in Lancaster and 18
total at-bats the reason for excluding him?
You nailed it. He was among those we
considered, but the lack of ABs worked against him and Lancaster is
hitter's heaven. But if he keeps hitting around .400 he will make it
onto the Hot Sheet, Cal League or no Cal League.
BL (Bozeman, MT): You touched on Derrick
Robinson in the Mike Moustakas comment... could you please expand on his
quick start? Is he making believers out of skeptics offensively?
Wouldn't it be hard to call it a park-effect illusion because of his
extreme spike in walk rate? I've read a lot about his stance tweak, but
how could that possibly account for his new-found patience?
I'll have a full-blown feature on Robinson
posting on Monday as that day's Prospect Bulletin but the answer seems
to be that the stance tweak has improved his timing, quickened his bat
and made him more confident. If you have a quicker bat, it's easier to
wait on a pitch longer which makes it easier to take pitches. We'll have
to see if he can keep something close to this up, but there are some
significant reasons to think this is more than a two-month fluke.
ed (farmer city): could pedro alvarez have an
evan longoria type impact when called up? what do you expect from him?
Asking for a Longoria-type impact is
asking a ton out of a guy—you're talking about one of the best players
in baseball. In a best-case scenario Alvarez may have more power than
Longoria, but he's not as good defensively, and likely won't hit for as
much asverage. Overall I just don't see him ending up being as good as
Longoria, which doesn't mean he won't be quite good—but Longoria is one
of the best players in the game. Do remember that at Alvarez's current
age Longoria was already in his second year in the majors with one
all-star appearance under his belt.
Eric K (Chicago): Did Austin Romine get
consideration this week? Is he considered the Yankee catcher of the
future or is there still belief that Montero could handle the position?
How soon before we see Romine in Yankee Stadium?
It was a nice week, but 3 HRs with little
else wasn't going to make the list this week. Count me among the
doubters as far as Montero at catcher which means I expect Romine is the
long-term answer behind the plate for New York, if they don't go out
and sign someone as a free agent.
John C. (Gadsden, AL): I've been very
disappointed with Josh Bell and Jason Castro's slow starts at AAA and
I'm starting to think both of them have lower upside than I thought.
Will they shake this off or have they hit the wall with tougher
Don't get too hung up on the first month
if a prospect had a bad month and don't go crazy if a prospect had a
good April. Last April Rangers' catcher Manuel Pina hit .481/.518/.731
for their Double-A club. If you had based too much on that one month you
may have thought he was a stud catching prospect, especially as he's
not bad behind the plate. But he finished the year hitting
.259/.313/.393, which is right in line with his career stats—he was
just red hot in April. Bell, Castro, Montero, Dustin Ackley and others
had bad Aprils, if that stretches into bad Mays and Junes then it's time
to start worrying.
Scott (DC): Tanner Scheppers...he struck out
everything he saw in Frisco. Is he one of the top 5 arms in the minors
based on pure stuff?
Interesting question. Scheppers gets to go
out and let it loose for two innings at a time while guys like
Strasburg, Chapman, Martin Perez, Derek Holland and others have to pace
themselves. If you asked those guys or Andrew Cashner or Jeremy Jeffress
(when he comes back to suspension) to throw for an inning or two they
could probably match Scheppers for pure stuff. But yes, Scheppers is on
the short list when it comes to pure nastiness.
Nate (new jersey): Heyward or Stanton for the
next 10 years?
Heyward and it didn't really take any time
to think about it. Stanton is a great prospect—as good a power
prospect as I can remember, but Heyward has Stanton-esque power and
combines with it one of the best, most patient batting eyes we've seen
in years. The likely best case scenario for Stanton is that he could hit
40 HRs several times and be one of the best sluggers of the next
decade. Is it going too far to say that Heyward's best-case scenario is
to put up A-Rod like numbers at the plate.
bill (nj): no romine? his breakout seems to
have been lost in the shuffle so far this year
I mentioned Romine before and I'm getting
more Cumberland questions, but I just want to emphasize how hard it is
to make the Hot Sheet. Both of them had very good weeks, but check out
Matt Davidson or Bobby Borchering or Darwin Barney or Beau Mills or
Pedro Alvarez's weeks as well. There were a ton of good prospects with
very good weeks this week who didn't make the list. Trust me when I say
we looked at them all—I run a database query that kicks out the stats
for everyone who played in minor league ball last week—but there are
some weeks when it's tougher than others to make the list.
youth_movement (KC, MO): When they finally make
a move, where will the Marlins be sending Stanton: Big Easy or Florida?
My pure speculation is he skips Triple-A
eventually and heads straight from Jacksonville to the big leagues. Now
whether that's next week or two months from now is beyond my crystal
Kevin (Seattle): Defensively solid, good
contact numbers but a lack of power. Do you think that the Pirates
outfield could thrive with McCuthen and Tabata or will they have to move
Tabata and bring in someone with more power?
It would definitely be a different kind of
approach, but a lot of that depends on what kind of production they are
getting from the infield. If they are getting power production from 1B,
3B and C or RF you could probably do it, but if you're looking at a
team like the current one (no one slugging over .500 and no one with
more than four HRs) than you probably need more power from a corner
Josh G (Sacto, CA): Brandon Belt has dominated
the cal league this year. Does he get moved up to AA soon, (a la Brandon
Crawford)? and is he a legit prospect?
We're working on something on Belt for
next week (hopefully). Hard to say about a promotion, but he does have a
very good pedigree for a sleeper prospect. Do remember he was our No.
67 draft prospect in the country coming out of high school.
Frank (Denver): After watching many players
over the years have their development stunted due to poor handling by
their parent club(i.e. Alex Gordon), and watching hundreds of young
pitchers have their arms slagged (dozens every year), I am wondering
about players rights. Do you think there will ever be a situation where
players can legally challenge how they are handled by the major league
clubs? The loss of income from poor development or slagging pitching
arms is potentially tremendous for that player. They most likely will
never have another chance to make that kind of money doing something
else. What do you think?
Interesting question but it would be
nearly impossible to prove legally. Especially when you talk about
pitching injuries, proving negligence in a field (pitching) where even
the best-run programs can't avoid season-ending injuries seems nearly
impossible. And where does it stop? If a couple of suits are successful
at the minor league level, it filters down to college ball, then high
school ball and before long we'll have eight-year-old's parents suing
because the little league coach ruined their kids MLB chances. The best
advice I've heard on this came from a couple of pitching coaches I
talked to recently: the player is always in final control of their
career, and they need to know that.
Corey (Lewis Center): If Dustin Ackley finds
his stroke as is expected by most scouts, do you think the Mariners
might call him up to help their hitting woes? I know this would start
his service time clock but wouldn't the Mariners value winning over
Hard to talk about Ackley's callup until
he's hitting better than .200. Right now I think the Mariners are much
more worried about Ackley getting comfortable at the plate and at 2B
than considering calling him up this year.
brett (texas): your really taking a long time
Sorry we had a drop-by baseball
coach/scout in the office so I was out briefly. Now I'm back and trying
to make up for lost time.
M.C. Hammer (Oakland, CA): Is Zach Braddock for
real? Can he continue this kind of success in AAA? How will it carry
over when he is called up later this year?
No one has every questions Braddock's
stuff. It's completely filthy, like Okefenokee Swamp filthy. But the
question is whether he can stay healthy long enough to use it. There's
no reason to think he can't be a solid MLB reliever if he can stay off
Craig (Baton Rouge): Jay Austin obviously had a
good week. He has homered in 3 consecutive games. Is that a Cal league
number or could he continue to develop some power as he matures (he is
still only 19 I think)?
The Cal League sure helps, but don't
forget that he's the youngest player in the league and one of the few
teenagers playing above low Class A
Keith (TN): Where has Desmond Jennings been?
Will this hinder his arrival in the majors in June/July?
He's had a nagging shoulder injury that
has kept him out of the lineup, which follows the wrist injury he had
during spring training. That's about the only knock you can have on
Jennings game—he's battled injuries throughout his career. He had a
knee problem in 2007, back and shoulder problems in 2008 and now this.
Since he's not playing much right now, you probably could slide that
debut back to July-August unless there is an injury in Tampa.
Norm (VA): Outside of Strasburg, are there any
other "franchise" type players that will be called up this year?
Stanton will qualify when he gets
promoted. If Montero gets the call I'd put him in that group.
Thanks for all the questions, but I need to
wrap it up to finish some writings and get ready to talk to Neil Walker
for an upcoming story. We'll have another chat next Friday and remember
we have new Daily Dishes, Prospect Bulletins and Baseball America
Prospect Reports every weekday.