OK, here we go. July 2 behind us, Futures
Game ahead. If Billy Hamilton doesn't drop down a bunt in his first
at-bat on Sunday, I'm going to be hugely disappointed.
Brian (Houston): What do you make of Carlos Correa's early struggles?
It's surprising, but nothing to worry about yet. Love the swing and still see a potential middle of the order bat.
Ben (Leland Grove): Gut feeling - does Myers return to Omaha after Sunday?
If he does, I don't think he'll be there long.
Mike (Ontario): Where will Barretto rank in the Jays prospects? Tough for a 16 year old, but he's got a track record of playing at a high level
He'll be in that 16-30 range for the Blue
Jays, and he might have a chance to be a little higher if he weren't
entering such a stacked system. I love what they did this week in Latin
Steve Brown (Chicago): Jackie Bradley was recently promoted to Portland. Do you think he's a year or two years away from the Red Sox outfield?
Next year is realistic. With his polished
hitting approach and his ability to play premium defense in center field
immediately, he might not need much adjustment time either.
@Jaypers413 (IL): The AZL Rangers lineup is stacked, to say the least. Which of these guys do you see getting bumped to Hickory first?
They have some large human beings on that
club. I would bet most of them spend the year there, but Joey Gallo's
the most advanced. Frank Lopez is also an interesting sleeper with good
feel for pitching.
Ken (Lakewood CA): Thanks Ben. My question is
about a guy we haven't seen on the Hot Sheet in some time - James
Paxton. Pitching in AA, he has walked a lot of guys, then went down with
some kind of knee injury. What's the latest on him - and your take for
his future with Seattle?
Big time command issues. If he can sort it
out, great, you've got a mid-rotation starter, because the stuff sounds
like it's still there, but at this point you have to be worried about
the control problems getting fixed.
Luis C. (Miami): Is their Interest in the Cuban
current home run leader Alfredo Despaigne? How would he rank compared
with Cespedes and Solar ?
Different kind of guy than either Cespedes
or Soler, with the one main similarity being that they all have big time
power. There are scouts who loved Cespedes who aren't as high on
Despaigne because he's a much more limited athlete, but there are scouts
who think Despaigne could come to the big leagues right away and be
able to hit and hit for power. There would be big demand if he ever left
Cuba, he's just a different flavor than Cespedes.
Dave (Atlanta): You mentioned Luis Merejo, but
any thoughts on two other recent Braves Latin signings, RHP Mauricio
Cabrera at Danville (skipping the GCL) and INF Jose Peraza in the GCL?
Both impressive. Peraza doesn't to much to
impact the ball right now, but he's athletic and has great barrel
awareness. Cabrera has taken a big step forward and should be another
power arm for the Braves.
Mike (Orlando): How valuable is Rougned Odor? If the Rangers wanted to light up the trade market would he be considered a top prospect?
He should be, but second baseman (or future
second basemen) tend to get dinged pretty badly, either in the trade
market, the draft or international free agency, which has always bugged
me. Second base is a premium position, Odor can play it capably, his
swing is outstanding and I think he's going to hit a ton at the big
league level. I would definitely be targeting him if I were trying to
work a deal with the Rangers, although they have quite a few players I
wouldn't mind having.
Mike (Orlando): The Red Sox seemed to have
filled 3B with affordable team controlled talent, can Bogaerts stay at
SS or move to 2B? Hate to see him traded because of a log jam at the
The bad part is that the ideal fit for
Bogaerts is probably third base. I'm not sure the Red Sox know what
they're going to do yet, other than try to hope he can play a passable
shortstop, but the good news is that his bat is so good I'd love him as a
prospect even if he were a right fielder. But in a perfect world, he
probably belongs at third.
Will (NJ): Josh Vitters is on a roll. I've
never been huge on him, but this is more than his sporadic hot streaks
in the minors. He's consistently gotten better each month. What do
scouts think about his ability to hit for power at the next level? Can
be a solid 3rd base starter in the bigs? Could he be say, a .270-.280
type hitter, with say, 20 HR potential in a neutral environment?
He's surprising the heck out of me. I saw
him last year, talked to scouts about him and while the swing and the
bat speed were still there, the sense was just that he wasn't really
taking any steps forward. I'm still not sold that he's a third baseman,
or at least an everyday guy there, but there's probably a bigger role
for him at the major league level than we thought at this time a year
Vic31 (Chicago): Jeimer Candelario has looked
mighty impressive with the bat, so far, but I've heard the glove is the
real question. If he can't stick, do you think he's got enough
athleticism to handle LF or is he destined for 1b? Will the bat play
Could be, just depends a lot on how the
body develops, but I don't think he has to move off third base any time
soon. He's such a good hitter that I'd be excited about him no matter
where he plays.
Cody (Tillsonburg): Thanks for the chat as
always. You guys do awesome work. Higher potential.
Nicolino/Syndergaard/Sanchez or Norris/Comer/Musgrove
The first group.
Jim (Philadelphia): What do you make of Edward
Salcedo's progression? Is he on track to take over 3B in two years, and
what does his upside look like?
Not on the bandwagon. I know he has bat speed and a good frame, I just don't see the hitting ability to work at higher levels.
Kevin (Ardsley N.Y.): Hey Ben I am very
perplexed. How can Luis Mateo only be in the team photo and not be in
the top 13? Those numbers he has posted are light sout, it rarley gets
better than what he has accomplished this season.
I am the captain of the Luis Mateo fan
club. If he stays healthy, he's going to be on plenty of Hot Sheets.
It's been a strange development path, but his stuff is tremendous.
Mark (Kansas): Bonifacio is having a breakout season and hes only 19. What do you think his ceiling is and also is he now a top 100 prospect?
Above-average right fielder. Top 100 guy for me.
Vince (DC): I've got to think that we are
nearing pen time for Trey McNutt. He just doesn't seem like he can put
it together as a starter. If the blister is still bothering him ...
well, that's two years in a row
That's probably the best fit for him.
Fred (New York): Has anyone with George
Springer's K-rate at Hi-A ever gone on to be a star at the major league
level? I see the secondary tools, but they seem like they may go to
waste as he moves up.
That's my huge concern. The tools are
enormous, but I'm the low man on the staff on Springer. Just don't see
that contact rate working at higher levels.
Navin (Pasadena, CA): Do you have any updates on Juan Carlos Paniagua as we get closer to July 19th? Are the Cubs linked to any other IFAs?
The velocity is down, but the slider has
improved. If I had to bet, I'd say he's the Cubs' priority guy now that
Frandy de la Rosa has signed.
AndyMo (Chicago): Is Profar the top prospect in the minors at this point?
I think so. I think he's a superstar. But I
know most teams we talk to say they would rather have Bundy, and he's
about as good as it gets for a pitcher.
TJ (MD): Matt Szczur has been on a really nice
role. If he maintains his performance (improved discipline, plus
defense, improving power, hopefully improves on it), is he a top 75
prospect? Does he still have starting potential in the bigs, as a top
of the order CF who chases down balls?
I don't have Szczur that high. The defense
is there, the hitting approach has improved and I think he could be an
average regular if a lot of things click, I just don't see the swing
working for much more than gap power. He's plenty strong, but I just see
a limited offensive ceiling.
Jimmy (Monticello): Who is the better prospect long-term: Story or Hansen?
Hanson, but I don't think Story gets enough attention.
David (Va Beach): I know you seem to really
like Jeimer Candelario. Should we expect him in Boise all season long
and what especially do you like?
He does so many things that you like to see
in a hitter. He has good rhythm, he's balanced, the bat is fast from
both sides of the plate, his hands work well, he has an approach at the
plate that's advanced for his age, he drives the ball for power now and
has the physical projection to add more power in the future. Maybe he
stays at third base, maybe he goes somewhere else, but the man can hit.
Kyle (Carmel): Ben thanks for the chat. What
is your take on Andy Oliver for Detroit. Does he still have a chance to
contribute for them down the road or is his lack of command ultimately
going to be his undoing?
Maybe there's a relief role for him, but I don't see it clicking as a starter. Major control problems.
ballboy (watercooler): Mark Trumbo never got
above #9 in the Angels org ratings...He has 26 multi-hit games already
this season! 20 Dingers! Did he just steal Pujols mojo, is this dumb
luck, or did we all miss something?! Thanks for the great coverage!
I thought he was just a Triple-A masher, so
I know I was wrong on him. The power is playing much better in games
than I ever thought it would, which is at least in part because he seems
to have a better hitting approach. It's easy to just chalk it up to
luck or a fluke when a guy beats your expectations, but I think I was
just wrong about Trumbo.
MJ (Chicago): Long-term who do you prefer more, Yelich or Taveras?
I like Yelich, but have to go with Taveras. The man has violence in his bat. I can't wait to see him on Sunday.
Roger (Washington, DC): I know the players in
the July 2 class being signed this week can't come play in US leagues
until 2013, but can they play in the DSL/VSL this summer, or will they
just be working out in org camps the rest of the year?
The ones who become eligible to sign on
July 2 are signing 2013 contracts, so they have to wait until next year
to play in an official games, which means no DSL for them. They can go
work out at the academies, some of them will go to the US for instructs
and spring training and go to the Dominican academies for the winter
programs that teams run, but no games until next year. Some teams do
have an unofficial "July 2" league where they combine players to get
them more game experience this summer, but nothing official until next
year. Now if a player was eligible before July 2 (pretty much anyone 17
or older), he can sign a 2012 contract and would be eligible to play in
the DSL this summer, the only problem is that it may take him a few
weeks to a few months or even longer to get his contract approved, so
it's possible he might have to wait until 2013 to play anyway.
Norman (San Jose): how would you grade Alen Hanson's future bat, power, and speed tools?
Plus bat, plus speed and probably 50, maybe
55 power. I'm not certain he stays at shortstop, but as long as he's
somewhere in the middle of the diamond, that's a player worth getting
Greg (Pittsburgh): Hey Ben, is it a strong
possibility that Byron Buxton, Mike Zunino, Lucas Giolito (if he signs)
and Jorge Soler all make the updated Top 50 or 100 in August?
Also any July 2 International prospects that can make that list?
I would put all four of them in the Top
100. I love the July 2 kids as much as anyone, but it's hard to put any
16-year-old in there. Certainly a few guys could be on the 2014 list
with strong debuts.
Roger (Washington, DC): What do you make of
Julio Teheran's struggles this year? He has to be considered possibly
the biggest disappointment of the year from a prospect POV, particularly
given the Braves pitching situation.
It's fair to be concerned. He's a major
league starter, but if he's going to be a frontline guy that people are
expecting, I'm just not seeing it. The command needs work, which I think
can develop in time, but the lack of a reliable breaking ball really
hurts him against righthanded hitters. Mid-rotation starter? I could see
it, and that's plenty valuable, I just don't see the star we were
expecting a couple years ago.
John (Chicago): Ben, what did you talk about during your call? These things fascinate us mere fans.
I can tell you Billy Hamilton came up and he wasn't even the topic of discussion. It's always fun to talk about Billy Hamilton.
bob (PA): why are the pirates brass waiting so long to call up marte? he's out performed all the other guys they've called upon lately.
Beats me. I'd rather see Starling Marte in Pittsburgh.
Barry (Louisville): What are your least favorite stats in baseball?
Batter-pitcher matchup stats. Or anything
dangerous enough to make people think they're making data-driven
decisions when all they're looking at is noise.
John (New York): You said that you loved what
the Blue Jays did this week. Do you base that on the individual players
they chose to sign or more on their overall approach?
A little bit of each. Their farm system is
already loaded, they have plenty of depth, so why not shoot for the best
players you can get in the international market? Sure, maybe someone
pops up in November or March and your budget is gone, but if you can get
a guy like Franklin Barreto who a lot of teams had at the top of their
boards, then add the No. 9 and the No. 13 international prospects, I say
be aggressive. So while they're mostly done for the year, now they can
get a head start with their focus on the 2013 class, which is supposed
to be pretty good, and if there is a pop-up guy next spring, you might
still be able to sign him if you can convince him to wait until July 2,
2013 when the new international bonus pools kick in. It limits your
flexibility, but as long as you're signing the right guys, I love it.
John (CT): What do you make of Gary Sanchez's
promotion? Think he'll stay at catcher? He seems to be an offensive
weapon, which includes stolen bases this year. When do you see him in
Gary Sanchez having 12 stolen bases might
be more surprising than Billy Hamilton having 100. That dude is slow,
but he does have a great arm and he knows what he's doing at the plate.
But I'm not sold that he's going to stick at catching, both because of
the receiving and the body, and in that case I'm not sure if he's going
to hit enough to be an everyday first baseman. He could stick back
there, but there are real concerns from scouts (and have been for some
time) about whether he will.
Alex (Mass): I was suprised that the Rockies
are concerned about Arenado's makupe or maturity. Has that set him back
in your mind? and what is a realistic eta?
I know I'm in the minority about this
topic, but hearing that the Rockies have concerns about Arenado's
maturity is encouraging. Maturity (and I'm just going off what their GM
said publicly) is something you can fix in a 21-year-old. I'd rather
have maturity be an issue than something with a guy's swing or tools,
and while I'd like to see Arenado driving the ball for more power, I
don't have any questions about his swing. A lot of teams have blown it
with their own prospects by trading a guy they felt had maturity or
makeup issues who went on to be stars for other teams. There are scouts
who think I'm completely backwards on this, but I believe it.
Roger (Washington, DC): I know it's crazy to
put these 16 year old international signees in a team's current top 10
or even 20, but given the weakness of the Giants system, do you think
Cabrera might be a top 10 prospect for them?
He's definitely a back of the Top 30 guy.
The tools and the athleticism are there, but he really has a long ways
to go with his hitting.
Derek (Ohio): Whats your evaluation of Marcell Ozuna for Miami? Is he a potential top 100 player in the near future?
He keeps surprising me. If the strikeouts
stay in check and he keeps tightening his strike-zone discipline, he's
definitely in that discussion.
clint (IN): Do you believe in Billy Hamilton's bat?
More than I did last year. Part of it is
the Cal League inflating numbers, and he's probably a 20 to 30-grade
power guy at best, but he's made real improvements in his hitting
approach to work the count, cut down on strikeouts and just find ways to
get on base. I don't think he's a star in the making, but the speed is
such an unbelievable carrying tool and the bat has a chance to be good
enough for him to be more than one of these speed-only guys who have
limited real value.
Alex (Witchita): How much power projection does Jorge Bonifacio have?
He's going to be a big man. 20-25 HR in a season potential.
frank (nyc): 1st to make an impact in majors?...bundy, walker or barnes?
Barnes, Walker, Bundy. Betting they're all up at some point next year.
Kevin (San Diego): Ben, beyond the numbers,
what can you tell me about Adys Portillo? The ERA is incredible, but the
walk rate is still concerning, though down from past years. Can't
imagine that would hold up against more advanced hitters. I know he has
a plus-plus fastball, but are his secondary stuff and command good
enough to project as a starter down the line?
A lot of scouts see late-inning reliever.
That's a giant leap ahead of where he was last year. He's always had
pitchability concerns since he signed, but San Diego's done a nice job
Tim (Kansas): Is Shelby Miller still the top
prospect in the Cardinals' system, or has he been passed by Taveras? Is
he still the top pitching prospect in the system?
Miller's still their best pitcher, but Taveras has passed him as a prospect.
J.D. (Cary, NC): I've seen that Wil Myers has
been playing CF in the minors this year - does he have the ability to
stick there in the big leagues?
Only out of dire necessity. Much better fit in RF.
Matt (Florida): Any chance that Jose Fernandez could end the year in Jacksonville?
His stock has soared, but what's the rush?
Brant (Stratham, NH): What are your thoughts on Victor Sanchez? What is his ceiling? I was surprised to see him in Everett at such a young age.
Hard to put a ceiling on a 17-year-old, but
Sanchez is one guy who scouts say is more about now stuff than
projection. If you see a picture or video of him, you'll know what I
mean. He's just a filled out guy who looks like he's been lifting Volvos
or something. That said, his stuff is already plenty good, he's got the
potential for three average to plus pitches and he's got a good idea of
how to pitch. He's not the next Felix Hernandez, but he should move
quickly and could be a quality mid-rotation starter.
Jimmy (Chesapeake): I saw Michael Ynoa made his
debut. How long until we see him on the Hot List? He'll probably need
to pitch more than one inning.
I'd love for him to get healthy and start pitching well, but he's got a long, long way to go to get back there.
John (Chicago): Surprised to see you pick
Barnes of those 3 to be first to make a major league impact. You're not
at all worried about his more recent results?
He's slowed down (how could he not?), but I
think the Mariners will be more patient with Walker. His results
haven't been so hot lately either.
Bill (Bozeman): Is there any indication or
thought that Bubba Starling might move up the chain at some point this
summer, or is he in Burlington for the duration?
Probably spending the year in the Appy League.
Thanks for all the questions, and for all
the ones that didn't get answered, those always help us direct our
coverage and scout calls on players you want to know more about. I'll be
in Kansas City this weekend with Jim Callis and JJ Cooper for the Futures Game, so
check back with us Sunday afternoon and Monday for our breakdown. Enjoy