2013 Top 100 Prospects Chat With John Manuel and JJ Cooper





Moderator: Baseball America editors will chat about the Top 100 Prospects starting at 2 p.m. ET.

    Shawn McDonald (Dallas): Taking everything into account, who do you think will get more MLB ABs this season, Taveras or Profar? And how many do you project for each?

John Manuel: Thanks everybody for coming. I'll start us off and JJ Cooper will be in as well. I'd lean toward Profar there, in part because Taveras still isn't on the 40-man roster. I don't see the Cardinals keeping Taveras down for long, and I have a harder time seeing where Profar plays. Does he wind up in CF? I could see it for 2013. Our Top 20 rookies meeting is coming up shortly and figuring out the 2013 playing time for both those guys is a real challenge.

    Izzy (New York): Seems like some of the guys who are far from contributing are higher on this list than on others (Correa, Buxton, etc). Does BA weight ceiling a bit more?

John Manuel: It depends on the individual. We had seven staffers contribute their own top 150 lists, put them in the spreadsheet and then debated how the list turned out. Considering how much we cover the draft and amateur players, it's no surprise that we would rank the top draft picks that way. I think it helped that unlike the recent past, both players went out and played and showed that the tools they flashed as amateurs were there on a fairly consistent basis in the pro setting, playing every day against higher levels of competition. Definitely aggressive rankings on both but their ceilings are significant.

    Trey (Greenville): Biggest discrepancy is A. Russell just inside top 50. Law has him aggressively in the top 10. Is the difference based on defense, offense, or both?

John Manuel: I will say we tried to stay pretty true to our draft rankings and not react too much one way or the other to the way a player debuted. It certainly helped Russell's cause that he had such a strong debut, and the same is true to David Dahl. We moved Russell up as much as anyone after having him No. 28 entering the draft, which appears in retrospect to have been light. Putting him ahead of Dahl will probably surprise the area guys and crosscheckers who had both in their region last year, but I can see the slight edge for Russell (IF over OF).

    Shawn McDonald (Dallas): Can Rendon play 2b or SS in the Majors? If not, how is he going to get to The Show over the next year or two?

John Manuel: I believe he could play some 2B to a fair level. Of course Danny Espinosa is no pushover there, and Ian Desmond is one of the majors' best shortstops right now, so even if Rendon could play short, I don't think he's moving Desmond. More likely, if he stays in Washington, Rendon is at 3B and Ryan Zimmerman's shoulder problems and inconsistent throwing leads him to 1b, where Washington still has LaRoche but is more tied in long-term to Zimmerman. Most likely scenario, if Rendon can stay healthy, is he is a trade chip for a team in win-now mode.

    Shawn McDonald (Dallas): No prospect has seen his stock rise more than Taveras in terms of hype. I've seen player comps of Vladdy (in terms of hitting style) and Ken Griffey Jr. (BP). What type of immediate impact do you see him making if he gets a starting job this season?

John Manuel: He does have some of that Vladimir Guerrero aggressiveness combined with high levels of hard, consistent contact. I don't know about the Griffey comps because to me Griffey made power look so effortless. In terms of impact, it depends (a) on Carlos Beltran's health and (b) on Jon Jay continuing to be better than most everyone expected he would be in CF. If Taveras gets 300-400 PA in 2013, I like his chances to crack double digits in home runs, but I would expect the real big impact will have to wait until 2014 and then 2015. He is just 20 after all.

    TJ (Eagan, MN): Please name a NL outfield prospect who will be a starter in 2014 not named Hamilton, Tavares or Yelich. Thanks!

John Manuel: Started to answer George Springer before remembering the Astros have switched leagues. Adam Eaton of the Diamondbacks fits that bill for 2013 and beyond. If he lives up to expectations, Jake Marisnick of the Marlins should meet your 2014 deadline, as could future teammate Marcell Ozuna.

    Justin (Toronto): How close was Robert Osuna to making the Top 100? Is he someone that could break into the 2014 Top 100 with a good season?

John Manuel: Didn't miss by a ton, got solid support on several ballots; if we went that deep, he'd have been in the 120s. A strong full-season debut would do wonders for his Top 100 chances.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Greetings, gentlemen. Which factors gave Zunino the edge over d'Arnaud in terms of being the top ranked catcher on the list?

John Manuel: For me, health, durability and defensive polish. Zunino also had such a strong debut, gave me (and perhaps others) more confidence in the bat. Think d'Arnaud has more offensive upside but more questions about the lack of defensive polish and repeated injury issues.

    Shawn McDonald (Dallas): Adam Morgan got a lot of good reviews from scouts, including many at BA, for his season and upside last year but he doesn't appear in the top 100. Where would he fit in the top 200 and what do you see for his future?

John Manuel: I was surprised he didn't get more support, he's intriguing, got the votes to be near Osuna in that 130s range. Kind of kicking myself for not being higher on him, but liked him as amateur. Another nice get by Phillies scout Mike Stauffer, who is well regarded in that region.

    Frank (Chicago, IL): If the top names in this year's draft (Mark Appel, Sean Manaea, Austin Meadows, Clint Frazier, Ryne Stanek), as well as Carlos Rodon in next year's, were all eligible for this list, whereabouts do you believe they would rank?

John Manuel: Lots of names there. Short answer is Rodon tops that list for me, but then even my wife is making fun of my Carlos Rodon prospect crush lately. For me, I'd take Rodon over Tyler Skaggs; he'd be shoved pretty high up my list. Appel & Manaea & Stanek would be lower; not sure I like any of those guys as much as I like Zimmer at 24 & Gausman at 26, they'd slot in there. The HS OFs would be closer to Dahl in the 50s. I could see some being more aggressive with them but I'd err on the caution side.

    Shawn McDonald (Dallas): What do you see as Rendon's upside at this point?

John Manuel: The best-case scenario for Rendon is a David Wright type. Like Wright, he's a 6-foot 3B, can hit for average and power. Like Wright, he's more average than power. I think more likely Rendon is a poor man's Wright, similar but without as much power or stealth SBs, and like everyone else, I'm concerned about his health because he hasn't been able to stay on the field enough. But I believe in Anthony Rendon and like where we have him ranked.

    Billy (San Francisco, CA): Question for you BA editors, especially Ben Badler. How close did Dorssys Paulino come to making this list, and what kept him off?

John Manuel: Paulino was in our Five Near-Misses (sub req'd) http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2013/2614743.html

    Paul (St Louis): Who came closer to making your list between Jorge Bonifacio and Adalberto Mondesi?

John Manuel: Both were close but Mondesi was ahead and was debated a bit for the back of the 100.

    Izzy (New York): d'Arnaud was lower than I expected. He kind of has similar level tools as Olt but catches. Shouldn't that result in a higher rating for him?

John Manuel: The main issue with d'Arnaud is health; the other is lack of defensive polish, which is solid but not at the level of a guy like Zunino. But not a big difference. He ranked between 16 & 28 on every BA staffer's ballot, seems like he wound up in the middle.

    John (LA): Do you think Puig has a chance to have an impact in the Dodgers lineup at some point this season? What type of numbers can Puig put up if he reaches his ceiling?

John Manuel: Feels like he does considering all the trade talk surrounding Andre Ethier, and the Dodgers are pretty lefthanded, so his RH power bat would fit them well. The tools and physicality on Puig are pretty spectacular, and the recent track record of Cuban hitters is encouraging. I could see him approximating Cespedes' numbers as a rookie if he had similar playing time, but I don't think he's quite as good as Cespedes is.

    Shawn McDonald (Dallas): Is Gyorko's bat big league ready? With Headley entrenched at 3b (can't believe they haven't traded high), does Gyorko play good enough defense to man 2B?

John Manuel: Sounds like that is the Padres' plan, to try him at 2B. He played SS and 2B at West Virginia but I would hate to see how Padres pitchers would react to Gyorko at 2b & Logan Forsythe at SS, which apparently is a possibility.

    Padresfan86 (SD CA): Did Rymer Liriano's recent season-ending injury play any part in his omission from the list?

John Manuel: No, the list was compiled before his elbow injury.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How bullish are you on Richie Shaffer's ceiling? Was he considered for the list?

John Manuel: I always think I'm low man on Shaffer, but turns out I'm just low compared to Jim Callis' thoughts. He was one of the best hitters in last year's draft; I just see him as a future 1B or LF instead of 3B, and the expectations on the bat therefore go way up. Love the bat speed and power potential, and he got votes on 4 of 7 ballots.

    CyMature (Western Mass): Thanks, B.A This is always a great day. Question: Is George Springer Bubba Starling with a college degree? Great tools, but can he hit. How do they compare in terms of tools and likelihood to make enough contact? Thanks!

John Manuel: Interesting way to think about it. Of course I doubt Springer has his degree as he played just three years, and I don't think he's gone back to get his. Most of these college guys (if not all of them) lack a degree but that's another story. We broke their tools down right there in the file which is free. They are similar with Starling getting just a bit higher power grade. here's the link to that grades file: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2013/2614739.html

    Izzy (New York): Shelby Miller and Zack Wheeler have the same exact grades. What's the difference between them that swings the pendulum towards Miller?

John Manuel: They were drafted the same year and Miller has appeared in the majors (for a better team no less). He's more advanced, more polished, similar stuff. But there's also just 5 spots of separation.

    Rob Z (Mass): Did Blake Swihart get any support for your list, and where do you see him starting off this year?

John Manuel: Just missed the top 100 as a matter of fact; some earlier iterations had him in but lack of polish, track record of HS catchers gave me some pause there. Yet another product of the Land of Enchantment! Those on the staff who liked him really liked him, three had him in their top 100s.

    Logan (North Dakota): How far off are Trevor May and Eddie Rosario of the Twins?

John Manuel: Rosario is close. If we'd debated him more I bet we'd have moved him up from the 130s because of the bat. Not sure where he winds up defensively, that seems to be the biggest question. Trevor May on the other hand did not appear on any Top 150 ballot. Seems like the BA consensus is he's going to wind up in the bullpen due to his repeated issues with throwing strikes. Good arm, but there are a lot of good arms in the minor leagues.

    Drew W (NoVA): How close was Sonny Gray to making the top 100? Thanks!

John Manuel: Drew also asked about Michael Choice. He, Gray and Dan Straily all got some support on ballots but didn't get enough to truly factor into the discussion. Gray had an underwhelming pro debut for me. Choice strikes out too much; Gray struck out too few. Straily struck out more than any minor league pitcher, but I can only speak for myself here in saying I would like to see that again. His 2012 came out of left field considering his prior career performance, and I am skeptical he can repeat that.

    John (Seattle): I guess you guys weren't buying the "he was young for AA" in regards to Taijuan Walker. You have him lower then most...what do you see his upside being in the majors?

John Manuel: He's still ranked in the top 20 of all the minor leagues ... pretty lofty for a guy coming off that performance. Still see significant upside, need to see a bit more mental toughness and ability to get outs without his best stuff. You have to nitpick the No. 18 prospect. We're still pretty bullish on the guy.

    Dave (St. Louis): Do you view Trevor Rosenthal as a better starting pitcher or reliever? He was special out of the pen last year, does it make sense to move him into the rotation?

John Manuel: It makes sense if he can maintain that mid-90s velocity he had as a starter last year. If you can pitch off the fastball, i.e., gets swings and misses with fastballs in fastball counts, like Rosenthal has shown, then you can start. I think it makes all kinds of sense especially after Carpenter's injury to see if he can start.

    Tim (Dallas): Harper, Moore, Trout vs. Profar, Bundy, Taveras.....which top 3 do you favor more? If you could only choose 3 (out of the 6 players listed) who would you choose?

John Manuel: Prefer Harper, Moore & Trout in whatever order, and if I could only choose three, I'd choose those three. I am still all in on Matt Moore.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): 15 2012 draft choices made the top 100, but not pick #14, was Nick Travieso in the discussion?

John Manuel: Not too much. He was No. 36 on the BA 500, had a modest debut and has big arm strength but only one real year of experience as a full-time pitcher. We'll be patient with Travieso as I'm sure the Reds will be.

    aj (new york): who is a good comparison to oswaldo arcia and where do you see him starting the year?

John Manuel: We've always gotten Bob Abreu comps on his stance and swing. He lacks that patience and speed, but probably has more raw power. Few minor leaguers fit the RF profile as well as Arcia; love that guy's bat.

John Manuel: I'm going to hand off to JJ Cooper and want to thank you all for coming. Take it away, Jackie Jr.

J.J. Cooper: Happy #BATop100 day everyone. I'm happy to jump in here and take some questions.

    Mike (Cincinnati): Billy Hamilton seems like a real safe bet to become a Major Leaguer, but what he becomes when he gets there is such a wide variety of things from solid everyday guy to potential MVP type of player if his bat can fully develop. Has there been a Top 25 guy like that in recent memory who has such a large gap between floor/ceiling who has time in the upper minor leagues?

J.J. Cooper: Not one that comes to mind immediately. Barring injury I see Hamilton's worst and I mean absolute worst-case scenario is that he's a decent backup. He could be a better Tony Campana-type speedster who could play CF, SS and 2B. Even if he hardly hit at all, he'd be able to be a useful backup because of his versatility, athleticism and speed. But the reason that he could go from solid everyday guy to potential impact player is because of his near off-the-charts athleticism. Hamilton made massive strides at the plate from the start of the 2011 season to the end of the 2012 campaign. Will he continue to make big steps forward? That will determine how close to his ceiling he reaches.

    Frank (Ohio): I know you have Profar as the #1 prospect, but which prospect has the best bat?

J.J. Cooper: Taveras. For a pure hit tool, he's one of the best we've seen in the minors in several years.

    Nate (Maryland): Why doesn't Teheran ever get credit for his age? He's been in AAA for 2 years and is still very young for the league. Most of the other prospects on this list are playing catchup and he doesn't get leeway for being in over his head.

J.J. Cooper: The fact that a guy who posted a 5+ ERA at Triple-A while striking out only 6.6 batters per nine last year is still in the Top 50 is a pretty strong sign that he is getting credit for his past success and his age. So he's getting a lot of leeway. That being said, even when he was going well in 2011, there were concerns about his breaking ball. Those concerns are still there, and now his fastball wasn't as good in 2012 as it was in 2011. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned.

    Nathan (Minnesota): Any reason why you removed the ETA and quick bio from each player on the list? Or was that purely moving that information to subscriber content?

J.J. Cooper: The ETA is still there at http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2013/2614739.html. As far as the quick bio. We do different things for the one line every year. We felt that giving the tools of every prospect was a pretty useful switch for this year.

    Sam (Seattle): How aggressive do you think the M's will be Taijuan Walker this season? Any word on how he has looked during Spring Training?

J.J. Cooper: With Hultzen/Paxton/Maurer all sitting at Double-A or higher there is no reason to push Walker at all. I'd expect to see him either start in Double-A with a quick promotion to Triple-A or spend all year in Triple-A. As far as spring training, it's too early to say anything about anyone unless they've a) shown up out of shape or b) gotten hurt. When the games start, then we can start getting reads on how guys are looking.

    Mike (Pittsburgh): Not a believer in Alen Hanson? He put up great numbers last year.

J.J. Cooper: Big believers in Alen Hanson, which is why he's at No. 61. If you make the Top 100, we are believing in you. We ranked another 830 prospects who aren't cracking this list.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Given their respective ceilings, if both are still prospect eligable in 2014 could you see Robert Stephenson ranked ahead of Billy Hamilton?

J.J. Cooper: He definitely could. If Stephenson shows the same stuff and continues to refine his command and feel, he could move well up this list with a solid 2013. If everything comes together, Stephenson could be a No. 1/2. There aren't all that many pitchers who have that potential ceiling, even if he's a long, long way from it now.

    Kyle (Utah): Bogaerts has the same tools across the board as Myers other than 45 instead of 50 speed, and he's younger and plays a more premium position. So I'm just wondering what the explanation is for Myers being ranked higher? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Those grades are future potential. Myers is much closer to the big leagues and has a longer, and better, track record of minor league success than Bogaerts. Myers is a safer pick, Bogaerts is riskier but with a tick higher upside.

    Andy (Lynchburg, VA): I'm curious as to what any difference is that you see between Lindor as opposed to Correa/Baez. Most other publications have them ranked very closely together and/or with Lindor being ranked higher than the other two. Yet BA seems to have Lindor clearly ranked as the "lowest" of the three. Any specific reason you feel the others are clearly ahead of him?

J.J. Cooper: The bat. Baez and Lindor have been compared ever since they were part of the same draft class. At the time, the thought was Lindor was a solid offensive SS while Baez was likely to be a better bat but one that would have to move to 3B or elsewhere. Baez has answered some concerns about his ability to stay at SS and has continued to show outstanding potential at the plate. It's not that Lindor is a slouch at the plate, but he doesn't have nearly the power Baez has. In Correa's case. He could come close to matching Lindor defensively with a bat like Baez.

    Mark Pace (Lee University, TN): Is B. Hamilton's low rating (No. 20) due to his positiion switch from SS to CF? Most rankings have him at No. 10.

J.J. Cooper: The position switch doesn't really have much of anything to do with it as there have always been questions about Hamilton sticking at SS. I love Billy Hamilton as a prospect, but I don't see how he can be at No. 10. If you compare him to Christian Yelich who is No. 15, Yelich doesn't run nearly as well, but he does run well and he has a better hit tool and way more power. Even if Hamilton develops into a plus-plus defender in center, it's hard to say his speed and glove will make him more valuable than Yelich.

    Greg (Orange, CA): How close was the top 10? Seems like the top 4 has separated themselves from the rest of the class and 5-15 is all pretty close

J.J. Cooper: You nailed it. Not one of the seven editors who submitted a personal Top 150 had anyone else in their top four. We were unanimous on who the top four were. The next 10 were more varied.

    Ashitaka (Houston, TX): First time since 1998 the Astros have had five or more guys on your Top 100 list. Considering that only Singleton is highly-likely to debut this year, could they have seven or eight guys on the list next year?

J.J. Cooper: Well they'll have the No. 1 pick who should make next year's Top 100. And I could see Foltynewicz, Cosart, Rio Ruiz or maybe even John Manuel personal cheeseball Nolan Fontana making it with a big year, so yeah they have a chance.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Does Dan Corcino's height (5'11") factor into him being ranked a little lower than his tools rankings would indicate?

J.J. Cooper: More than the height, there are some concerns still about whether his secondary stuff will be good enough to start. I personally think it will, but it's not a slam dunk.

    Andrew (At Work): I know it might seem trivial to ask, but if you were to guess the teams that would top the 2014 org rankings based on expected graduations and top picks in the 2013 draft, who would you see as top 5? I would speculate the Cardinals, Rangers, Mariners, Rays, and Boston to graduate a lot of talent, leaving the top 5 to be the Astros, Twins, Cubs, Marlins, and Pirates. I know injuries and poor development can occur, but could you get on board with that general assessment?

J.J. Cooper: When the season starts, none of those M's pitching prospects are projected to be in the rotation, and the same can be said for Nick Franklin. I think the Mariners could still be in the mix next year and while the Rangers might graduate some talent (Profar, Perez, Olt, Martin) they have a next wave that could keep them up there if guys like Sardinas, Grimm, Alfaro and/or Gallo have breakout years. But yeah the teams you mention are ones that should be near the top next year if everything goes well in 2013.

    JC (VT): Was Rymer Liriano a late scratch with news of his TJ surgery?

J.J. Cooper: No. He had already missed before the injury was announced. He was one of the guys who just missed. His name was brought up in the meeting as a potential Top 100 guy.

    Mick (Chicago): Nick Franklin gained 40 lbs. during the off season. Has he turned himself into a left fielder?

J.J. Cooper: No, he had shrunk down to being in danger of turning into a bat boy by the end of the year. During the grind of the season he's had trouble keeping weight on.

    Gary Brown (Scottsdale): Was I close??

J.J. Cooper: Brown made six of seven ballots, but he wasn't in the top 100 on any of them.

    Kai (SLO): Which of the following could you plausibly see in the top 100 next year and in what range? Tyrell Jenkins (STL), Eddie Rosario (MIN), Dorssys Paulino (CLE), Jose Castillo (TB)

J.J. Cooper: All but Castillo has pretty plausible paths to the 2014 Top 100. Definitely more wait and see on Castillo barring an amazing debut. I'd say Paulino is the most likely 2014 Top 100 guy.

    Andy (Lynchburg, VA): Who has a higher ceiling between Polanco and Dahl and which of the two is more likely to reach it?

J.J. Cooper: I'd say Dahl's bat has a little more potential than Polanco's and he's younger, so Dahl for ceiling. Polanco I'd give a tick more likelihood of reaching his ceiling, largely because he's done it in full-season ball and Dahl hasn't yet.

    SportsTalkLive (Ohio): no Zach Lee on the list? Why does he miss?

J.J. Cooper: Lee lacks a true plus pitch. He pitches well with solid stuff, but you want to see a guy have a swing-and-miss pitch. As of now, Lee doesn't really have one.

    Nick (CT): Do you see any Yankees as potential top 5 or top 10 overall prospects?

J.J. Cooper: I guess Mason Williams could with a monster year, but no. I don't think any of them are likely to crack a top 10.

    SportsTalkLive (Ohio): If Giolito makes a full recovery and throws a few solid innings where do you see him next year? Top 20? Higher?

J.J. Cooper: Hard to see him jumping that high off of what is going to be largely a lost year for him in 2013.

    SportsTalkLive (Ohio): What is Hunter Morris' chances of breaking with the big club this spring?

J.J. Cooper: A whole lot better now with Gamel hurt. The Brewers don't have a whole lot of other internal options. So if they don't go out and get someone, who is going to keep Morris in Triple-A?

    SportsTalkLive (Ohio): What's Slade Heathcott's upside if he can stay healthy?

J.J. Cooper: Solid big league starting OF, but the way Heathcott plays, it's hard for him to stay healthy.

    Camden (Tampa Bay): I would have guessed that Guerrieri's control grade would have been better than 55. What was the reason for that? 5 walks in 52 innings pitched seems pretty elite to me. What am I missing?

J.J. Cooper: There is a big difference between not walking guys in short-season ball and not walking guys in the big leagues. The strike zones are bigger and hitters chase breaking balls out of the zone. Projecting big league command and control is one of the toughest things to do for scouts. I've had scouts tell me in the past that there weren't five prospect starters in the minors with truly plus big league command. It's one of those things that is very hard to develop and hard to project.

    SportsTalkLive (Ohio): Is Jose Fernandez really the second coming of The Messiah like he showed last year? Should the Marlins just call him up this year and let him grow in the majors?

J.J. Cooper: The Marlins are likely to be awful this year, right? So why potentially screw up one of your best prospects by pushing him before he's ready. And besides, why speed up his arbitration clock?

    Ray Tognella (New Jersey): Why is Zunino rated higher than d'Arnaud? I know it's only a few spots. I was just curious which tools of Zunino's you like over d'Arnaud.

J.J. Cooper: It's durability. The big problem with d'Arnaud is staying healthy. He had back problems in 2010, a concussion and a torn ligament in his thumb in 2011 and then a serious knee injury in 2012. The back and knee problems are especially troublesome for a catcher. If d'Arnaud can stay healthy, I think he has a higher upside than Zunino, but that injury history gives cause for concern.

    Fred (NYC): I imagine the aggressive ranking of Correa over Baez was due to the elite tools Correa possesses....but are the tools that much better that it offsets the exceptional on-field performance by Baez and the underwhelming on-field performance by Correa? Afterall, isn't raking in the MWL exactly where Correa HOPES to be in a year or two from now?

J.J. Cooper: GCL stats are a very poor indicator of much of anything. Ask Chipper Jones (.229/.321/.271 in the GCL in 1990) and Dante Bichette Jr. (.342/.446/.505 in the GCL in 2011). At that level, much like the DSL, tools are way more important than numbers. That begins to shift as players climb the ladder. They are three spots apart in the rankings, so the difference at that point are quite minor.

    Craig (Charlotte): Sano in the top 10, I can't see him hitting enough to warrant that grade. Is this because he graded an 80 on his arm? He's likely a first basemen in the end rendering the 80 arm pointless.

J.J. Cooper: It's not the 80 arm it's the 80 power. Very few teenagers hit 20+ bombs in the Midwest League. And for all your concerns about the hit tool, he did post an .893 OPS in that league last year. He's still young and the hit tool needs to improve, but there are a lot of reasons to think it will get better.

    George (Paterson,NJ): CAN YOU PLEASE TRANSLATE THE 20-80 SCOUTING GRADES INTO NUMBERS?

J.J. Cooper: I don't know how to answer this one. They already are numbers.

    Fred (NYC): I know Polanco is a year older, but can you envision a Taveras-like ascension on next year's list if he can repeat his 2012 performance in Hi-A? Can you even make the argument that Polanco's tools are even louder than Oscar's (with the exception of the hit tool, of course)?

J.J. Cooper: His other tools may be louder than Taveras' (well Taveras' power is a better too), but saying that reminds me of Bill James line when someone compared Jeffrey Hammonds to Rickey Henderson except for the walks. As James put it, that's like saying, "Dolly Parton like except for the breasts."

    Craig (Charlotte): Adam Eaton with a 60 bat?!? How many league batting titles does he have to win before he impresses you guys?

J.J. Cooper: He's in the Top 100 even though the track record for 5-foot-8 outfielders is pretty frightening, so consider us impressed.

    Tom (Medfield, MA): If Dan Vogelbach could field first base adequately, would he have been on the list?

J.J. Cooper: The bar for a hit-only first baseman to make this list is very high—there was only one first baseman in the Top 100. Vogelbach needs to produce in full-season ball at least before he merits consideration.

    Jack (Toronto): Did Brett Jackson or Dan Vogelbach get any support for the top 100?

J.J. Cooper: Brett Jackson was on every ballot, but only one BA writer had him in the top 100. I'm probably the low man on Jackson in the office (I had him at 150 on my list). I just don't believe he'll ever make enough contact to be a solid big league regular.

    NBA Executive (Front Office): As an NBA scout, we operate the same way; the less you have shown the higher we rank you. The greater the unknown, the higher the ceiling. With that said, do you feel you overvalued the unknown? Looking at the front of the list, it is loaded with high ceiling guys but limited numbers or reports on how they fare against the higher levels. Meanwhile, the back side of the top 100 is filled with guys who are known.. that ceiling is more obvious where they are sure bets to make the big leagues, but maybe not several time all star type guys.

J.J. Cooper: More of a statement here than a question, but interesting enough to warrant posting it. If this is actually an NBA exec, I'd love to talk more with you about it. Email me at jjcooper (at) baseballamerica.com. To try to answer it, we try to not go overboard on younger players—that's why David Dahl and Addison Russell rank around No. 50 after great pro debuts. But even with Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Kyle Zimmer/Kevin Gausman, there are already a lot of things we know.

    Jeremy (Toronto): If Mike olt is a first baseman or corner outfielder moving forward hypothetically, where would he rank on this list? Lower?

J.J. Cooper: If he ends up stuck at first base, yes that lowers his ceiling, but he has the ability to handle third base. Long-term it seems to make more sense for the Rangers to trade him to a team that can use him to his full value at third than it does to make him a solid but potentially unspectacular first baseman.

    Carmi (DC): Were he still eligible, where would you put Manny Machado on this list?

J.J. Cooper: He'd be in the Top 5.

    Jim (NY): I don't get it. Tyler Austin 50 power and speed? He's 41 for 43 SB's in his 2 year career already. And don't those 35 doubles and 17 homers mean more than average power? He seems at least on par with Yelich's (60) power numbers.

J.J. Cooper: Austin has a great knack for stealing bases, but he is an average runner speed-wise.

    Jack (Toronto): Is Wil Myers ability to make contact any worry to you? I know he put up some impressive numbers in hitters parks, but he did K quite a bit. That seemed to me a huge separator between him and Tavarez.

J.J. Cooper: Myers has also shown he can hit for average and make contact—he did just that in 2010. What he hasn't shown yet is the ability to hit for power while hitting for average.

    BJ (Boston, MA): In last year's Top 100 chat, Jim Callis offered to give readers who emailed askba@baseballamerica.com the complete list of everyone who received votes for the Top 100 list, and how many, and how high their highest ranking was. Is that still a possibility for this year? I'd be very interested to get that data for this year's list. Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: Email Jim at askba@baseballamerica.com and he'll likely do the same thing for next week's Ask BA.

    Hmmm (Long Island): Does Ramon Flores get lost in the shuffle as far as prospect go in the Yankees org? Kid can play...

J.J. Cooper: I'm a big fan of Flores...have been since getting good reports on him when he was in Charleston. But even I'll admit he's got profile problems that make him a fringy prospect. While he's played some CF, he's more likely a LF. There he's going to have to develop a good bit more power than he's shown up to now. You can find scouts and coaches who swear it's in there, but he still has a long way to go to prove he can be a solid big leaguer.

    Todd (baltimore): Your prospect book says a grade 50 is average but is that a dynamic meaning? For example, would a SS with "average" power mean less home runs than a 1B with "average" power? Does the average change with position?

J.J. Cooper: No. Average is average. 50 power generally means 15-20 home runs a year of you're talking usable power. And that doesn't change whether you are talking about a shortstop or a first baseman. If you're a first baseman with average power, you better have an excellent hit tool to go with it.

    Krish (Dubai): Greetings! Do you see a drop in first base talent? It seems like there aren't any Hosmers or Smoaks (bust, I know), in the pipelines, anymore. Is this a trend or an anamoly?

J.J. Cooper: It's a pretty thing group at first base right now. But when you're looking in the minors, you have to remember that some guys who currently are playing elsewhere could end up at first base, so that will help fill this group out in the long run.

    Steve (NYC): How can Mondesi be ahead of Bonifacio for the top 100 but behind him on the KC top 10?

J.J. Cooper: They were ranked back to back on the Royals' list with similar BA Grades. With us building a consensus Top 100, sometimes guys who didn't do a team Top 10 will have a different opinion on who should have ranked where. The difference between those two when it comes to their current ranking is quite small.

    Joel (KCK): Yordano Ventura has very similar grades to Robert Stephenson and Alex Meyer but ranks a lot lower than either. Is this solely due to his small stature? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: Yes. Especially when you're talking about fastball-dominant pitchers, a taller guy is generally though to be able to generate more downward plane. I've had scouts tell me they worry that Ventura's 100 mph fastball can be more easily turned around because it more often matches the bat plane than a fastball from a bigger pitcher.

    Unlisted (Long Island): Seems like Alan Hansen slipped a bit ?

J.J. Cooper: Not really. We really like him. He ranked at the back end of the Top 50 in our midseason rankings. Since then we've added in the 2012 draftees, so moving down 10 spots or so isn't really much of a big deal at all.

    Keyser Soze (Houston): I'm hearing that Matt Purke is finally healthy and throwing pain free. Assuming he can stay healthy, which I understand is a risky assumption, do you like his upside from a talent perspective to maybe make this list next year? I know his odds of reaching it are not great, but what's his ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: Assuming he can stay healthy and his stuff is what it was pre-injury, yeah he's a top 100 guy. Assuming he could stay healthy, Anthony Rendon is a top 20 guy. But neither of them have had a whole lot of luck with the health thing lately.

    Arthur (Ann Arbor): Castellanos looked lost at the plate in the AFL...unbalanced with no extension. He doesn't really have plus supporting tools. Convince me not to give up...

J.J. Cooper: OK, here's an easy way to convince you. Mike Trout looked lost at the plate at times in the AFL in 2011 and we saw how his 2012 turned out. Castellanos' hit tool isn't really much of a concern. His defensive ability at 3B or LF is a bigger worry.

    Shane (Brunswick hills): Got a future comp for you, lindor reminds me alot of profar. Lindor has the better glove, same size and body type, i no pop isnt quite there with the bat, but can you see in two years lindor being a top rated propect like profar. Maybe not 1st overall but near the top? Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: The biggest difference is Profar has shown he can handle Double-A and has done OK in the big leagues while Lindor has done it in low Class A at roughly the same age (Lindor is six months younger). And Lindor doesn't have Profar's pop. I like Lindor a lot as a prospect and think he could crack a future Top 10, but it's Profar's ability to have an impact bat at SS that separates him.

    Daniel (Montana): Is there any fear that Bauer could end up making you guys look silly for leaving him out of the top 10? Is there just too much that needs improvement?

J.J. Cooper: He ranked No. 14, so we're not exactly saying "this guy doesn't have a chance." There are only four pitchers we ranked ahead of him.

    Howard (Freeport, ME): Slade Heathcot on the list and no Wilmer Flores? I look at the numbers and I can't get how Heathcot is even on the list. Please help me understand.

J.J. Cooper: Those are two guys who are really tough to compare unless you're only looking at it from a New York perspective. If he can stay healthy Heathcott could be an extremely athletic outfielder who is an above-average runner, with a-a power, a-a defense and an a-a arm. Flores can hit. But where Heathcott could be plus defensively, Flores doesn't have a real defensive position. Where Heathcott is an asset on the basepaths, Flores is one of the slowest non-catchers in the game. He can hit, but it's still hard for a lot of scouts to figure out where he can play.

    Brett Jackson (Chicago): I can't believe I didn't make the list! Was my MLB debut so uninspiring as to drop me out of the top 100 where I've been for the past 2 years? I do have a new and improved swing this year which should help me cut down on Ks.

J.J. Cooper: I did a post about this recently. http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2013/01/brett-jacksons-strikeout-rate-reaches-historic-level/ Did you know that Brett Jackson's strikeout rate in the majors is the second worst of all time for a hitter with 100 or more ABs? The track record of the hitters on that list is not an encouraging sight. I'm not buying a new and improved swing until we see some proof it works in games.

    John (Windham Me): Where would Buxton rate on the 20-80 scale for speed and power?

J.J. Cooper: We answered that on our Top 100 list. http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2013/2614739.html

    Rookie (NY): Given Mets situation which top prospect would u have taken back in a trade for Dickey: Olt or Darnaud?

J.J. Cooper: Considering the Mets' one current star player is a third baseman, D'Arnaud.

    CJ (Charlotte): I know Evan Gattis is considered "old" for a prospect but did he get any consideration at all for the top 100?

J.J. Cooper: He wasn't close to making it. Great story and he can hit, but he'll also turn 27 this year. The Braves No. 3-7 prospects didn't make the list, so it's unlikely that the guy sitting at No. 8 on that list was going to make the Top 100.

    JR (NY): Those 5-tool grades for the top 100 seem awfully generous for everyone. Is that based on their ceiling or where they are currently; I'm assuming (hoping) the former, right?

J.J. Cooper: Ceiling, not current. Current wouldn't give you much information at all, especially for guys in rookie ball. Carlos Correa would read something like Hit: 20. Power: 30. Fielding: 20. Arm: 70. Speed: 55. A whole lot of pitchers would be listed with 25-30 control too. A current tool is what you think that player would do in the majors right now. Miguel Sano might be a stud prospect, but if you put him in the big leagues right now, he'd struggle to hit .220. On the 20-80 scale, anything under .240 is a 20.

    Daniel (Montana): Care to offer up your personal cheeseballs? And which guys do you see making dramatic movements up this board next year?

J.J. Cooper: I'm a giant Gregory Polanco fan. He's one I wouldn't be surprised to see climb this list in the next year. Jose Fernandez is way too prominent now to be a cheeseball, so I now have to share him with everyone else. Deeper down, Adalberto Mondesi could rocket up this list next year.

    Joel (KCK): I've seen David Dahl projected by some as a future leadoff hitter with 10 homer potential. I've also seen him projected by others to be a future 3-hitter with 30 homer potential. Which seems more likely? Or does his true ceiling lie somewhere in-between? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: I know the ball carries in the Pioneer League, but when an 18-year-old hits nine home runs in a half season with a wood bat, I struggle to think he'll end up as a 10 home run guy down the road. Usually power develops as teenagers grow into men.

    Norberto (Santo Domingo): Any consideration for Jairo Beras or lets just wait to see him play and see what all the fuss was about?

J.J. Cooper: No reason to get too overheated on a guy who's yet to play in a pro game. (In the corner, Michael Ynoa nods his head).

    Jason (Philly): Josh Bell was a top 100 player last year. He didnt have the chance to play due to injury. I'm assuming he still has the same skill set as last year ranking. Was he close to the top 100 this year?

J.J. Cooper: Close, but you have to be worried about a player who has now had two significant knee injuries before his first full pro season. A lost year of development and at-bats is nothing to sneeze at, and Bell has yet to show he's fully recovered from the knee injury.

    Gregg (Minnesota): I am not sold on Myers at #4, he increased in SO rate to 24 (from 19) and dropped is walk rate to 10 (from 14) to hit more HRs in one year than other years combined. Now that he is no longer a catcher, I just don't see him that high. I see Darin Ruf more than Bryce Haroer. Please sell me :-)

J.J. Cooper: Not saying he's Bryce Harper, but at Wil Myers' age, Darin Ruf had yet to make his pro debut. Myers was hitting the most home runs we've seen a 21-year-old hit in Double-A/Triple-A in nearly 50 years. There's a lot to like.

    Bob (Seattle): BA missed a chance to give "Slidin'" Billy a 90 speed grade.

J.J. Cooper: You're right. If the grades went above 80, he'd be a 90 or 95 speed. But there is no extra credit in 20-to-80 grades.

    Josh Vitters (???): Is there an expiration date on my prospect eligability?

J.J. Cooper: If Vitters was a carton of milk, you wouldn't want to keep him in the fridge for a whole lot longer.

J.J. Cooper: Ok after roughly 3 hours it's time to wrap this up. Thanks for all the great questions. Sorry for not getting to all of them, but there still hundreds in the queue. We could be here all night.