Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (May 23) With J.J. Cooper

J.P. Starkey IV (Manchester, CT): Now that Baez has shown a little life, and Castro cooling off, any chance we see a call up at the end of the summer?
J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone thanks for coming out and for all the questions. J.P. simple answer, if you’re asking if he comes up to replace Castro, no. You can say Castro’s cooling off, but he’s still having a vastly better year in the majors than Baez is having in Triple-A–a good week by Baez doesn’t change that. But more importantly, Baez has not demonstrated that he can be a reliable major league shortstop. Forget for a minute the questions about range. Baez has a PCL worst 8 errors at shortstop this year and the league’s worst fielding percentage among regular shortstops. That comes a year after he made 44 errors. Castro is the most error-prone shortstop in the NL, but he’s still significantly more reliable than Baez. Baez is still a great prospect. He should be a great big leaguer, but he’s slowed down his timetable this April/May.

Jose Peso Starkiquez (Manchester, CT): Between O'brien, Romine & Sanchez, who do you think has the highest potential to be the starting backstop for the yankees, after McCann
J.J. Cooper: Sanchez and it’s not close. O’Brien does still play catcher regularly, but it’s hard to find many scouts who believe he can stick back there, especially on an everyday basis. Before his promotion, he led all FSL catchers in passed balls and was dead last in CS percentage. He doesn’t move that well back there and is likely a fill-in catcher at best. It’s also hard to see Romine as more than a big league backup at this point. Sanchez however has made strides defensively and could stick back there on a regular basis.

Rich (Solvay): Hi JJ, Please compare and contrast Corey Seager with Kris Bryant. who do you prefer? Thanks.
J.J. Cooper: I think both of them are third baseman long term, but I’ll take Bryant. Yes, Seager is younger, but Bryant has some of the best power in the minors. I think he’s a safer bet and one with just as much if not more upside.

sf (nyc): Travis Shaw: BoSox starting 1B in 2016? If so, what's his ceiling?
J.J. Cooper: No. Don’t think Shaw will ever be the Red Sox everyday first baseman. Boston is a big market team who is usually going to have a big money first baseman or a top prospect playing the position. (Napoli-Gonzalez-Youkilis). Shaw is a slugger repeating Double-A as a 24-year-old. I think he has a shot at a decent big league career, but it would be very uncharacteristic for the Red Sox’s to make him their everyday first baseman.

Douglas (At my desk - not working): Hi J.J., In a Dynasty league, please rank in order who you would like on your team: Joc Pederson, Jurickson Profar or Francisco Lindor. Thanks
J.J. Cooper: Pure fantasy purposes I suppose? I’d take Pederson, Profar, Lindor. A lot of ways Lindor helps a team won’t help in fantasy baseball. If you’re talking about a sim league where defense does matter, I’d go Lindor, Profar, Pederson, with Lindor ahead of Profar because in most sim leagues an above-average SS defensively is more valuable than the same defender at 2B.

Cali C. Levine (Tripod, NY): NOT on the HOT Sheet, BUT -- who gets "The Call" first -- Oscar Taveras or Gregory Polanco?
J.J. Cooper: Polanco. Clear spot for him that’s been ready and waiting for the Super 2 eligibilty to burn off. For the Cardinals to promote Taveras, they have to shake up the whole lineup. It may happen, but not nearly the easy call that a Polanco promotion is.

Peter O`Brien (Trenton): Where do you think my future lies? OF/1B/C type, Pure DH, or will my inability to walk ruin everything?
J.J. Cooper: Sorry guys. Had to do a quick radio spot. The Yankees are smart to keep O’Brien behind the plate to keep that open as an option at least as a backup. Ideally he’s a guy who likely is a DH but who could see some spot time at other positions. I’m not ready to say he’s a sure-fire regular yet, but his power gives him lots of possibilities.

Cali C. Levine (Tripod, NY): Hey JJ -- big fan. Wondering if you think Baez will be a top 10 prospect by year's end, or did the poor start hurt him too much?
J.J. Cooper: He was coming into the year and as bad as the start has been, I’d still have him top 10 right now. I assume his numbers will get better from here.

California Chrome (Belmont): Can you see the dodgers trading Kemp and bringing up Pederson anytime soon?
J.J. Cooper: Unlikely. Trading Kemp right now is a somewhat rash move for a team that despite a slow start is still 2 games above .500. Is Kemp even the guy who will be traded? They have to move someone at some point because Pederson’s too good to rot at Triple-A for a few years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was something they did this offseason.

bobby (nyc): Is wilfredo tovar looking more like a major league shortstop who could hit .250, or above?
J.J. Cooper: I think that’s about his upper limit as a hitter, although with the hope that he’d draw enough walks to make that a useful .250.

Kobra (Massachusetts): Dilson Herrera has been having a great year so far, leading the league in hits. After his start to the season, has he catapulted into the Top 100? What's his ceiling?
J.J. Cooper: I still probably don’t see him as a Top 100 guy yet. It’s a great start to the year and he probably moves into the Mets Top 10 this season if he keeps it up, but he started the year a long way from the Top 100.

Bren (Pearl River, NY): Are prep kids from Wyoming with no High School teams the new market inefficiency?
J.J. Cooper: Funny. Yes, they are an inefficiency of one. If you can find another Wyoming baseball player with Nimmo’s tools, draft him.

Greg (Ohio): So whats Ben Lively's floor - Sam LeCure type reliever?
J.J. Cooper: I like that. Floor is below that–floor is he’s a useful AAA pitcher. But if you said who is a good comparison for Lively, I’d say a slightly better Lecure is a pretty good comp.

Bob (Dallas): Rudy Owens is making his MLB debut tonight against the Mariners. Do you think he can be more than a potential 4/5th starter? Also interesting how he gets called up right when Wandy gets DFA'd
J.J. Cooper: I think his aspiration is to be a 4-5 starter but more realistically he’s a swingman/6th starter. Not trying to be harsh in this chat, but the reality is that for a lot of guys, simply sticking in the big leagues is a lofty goal. Owens had given up 27 hits in 14 innings this month in Triple-A so I’m more than a little skeptical of him having immediate success.

Cali C. Levine (Tripod, NY): You're into sim leagues? A team in my league (30 teams) has Mike Trout, Evan Longoria, Yadier Molina, Robbie Cano, Jean Segura, Yoenis "BBQ" Cespedes, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Adam Wainwright, Dan Haren, Jeremy Hellickson... the beat goes on and on. How can I beat him!?
J.J. Cooper: Jump leagues? Yeah, pre-kids I was in an APBA league for years stretching back to my college days with a few guys you may recognize like the late Mac Thomason. As a kid, I played MicroLeague and Earl Weaver baseball and I also have been impressed with Out Of The Park on the iPad.

Frank (Cecil): Is Mason Williams a lost cause, or can he right the ship?? He has been TERRIBLE this year....
J.J. Cooper: Can he be a big leaguer still? Sure. Is he likely to be an impact guy? That chance gets smaller and smaller.

Isaac (Akron): what has been wrong with Trey Ball, has he lost velocity?
J.J. Cooper: Not hearing good things about his stuff or his delivery. The Red Sox’s knew he would take some time, but he’s not as far along as I believe they would have expected him to be.

Pat G. (Detroit, IBC): Tell me sweet nothings about Jorge Alfaro.
J.J. Cooper: Most fun catcher in the minors to watch because he can do so many different things. He will let a ball through that he should have never let slip through as a catcher, then make up for the mistake by gunning out a runner with an impossible throw. Oh, and he has significant power and may be the best running catcher in the minors.

Brett (Harrisburg Pa): Raimel Tapia had major helium on prospect lists coming into the young season yet he might be the 3-4th best prospect on that Ashville team.... His tools don't seem very loud and wondering If he has more of a 4th OF profile now ... Thoughts? Thanks
J.J. Cooper: He’s a solid prospect, but we had him ranked as the third best prospect on that team coming into the season and I think that assessment still stands as accurate. As a 20-year-old in the Sally League his best is still to come. I wouldn’t say he can’t be a regular. The real question is can he stick in CF long-term. Already he’s playing more in the corners than in center.

Ben (Atlanta): The Cardinals AL-roadtrip (June 4-11) not enough of a reason to call up Oscar then? Do you think Grichuk gets the call then, with Taveras a bit later in the month?
J.J. Cooper: One of them should be up for that. Both are already on the 40-man, so it really comes down to a matter of matchups. I’d guess Grichuk is slightly more likely to get the call-up, but that’s more a guess than a conviction.

Jas (Martinville): Are you concerned with the number of young pitchers having to undergo Tommy John surgery? Do you think this is only the beginning and we are going to see even more in the future?
J.J. Cooper: Everyone in baseball is concerned. No one knows. Everyone wants to know why this is happening but no one, and I mean no one, has a clear handle on what is causing it. There are a whole lot of factors, so it’s not going to be a simple “oh, this is the problem, we fixed it” solution.

Isaac (Akron): I see Teoscar Hernandez made the hot sheet, are his numbers due in part to his friendly hitting environment or has he taken a step forward? How do you see his tools playing at the major league level?
J.J. Cooper: He’s been helped by being in the Cal League but he’s hitting better on the road than at Lancaster, so it’s not all because he has a great place to hit. I think he’s a cheap five-tool guy. Very few 60s on his report, but a whole lot of average tools.

Annie LaMonica' (H's): Hey JJ, thanks for taking the time to do this. Alex Meyer has bother looked brilliant and lost this year, do we need one more year at AAA before he can be called up?
J.J. Cooper: His best is really good. No reason to call him up right now, but I’d expect we’ll see him before the year is finished.

Anne LaMonica (H's): I read speculation that the Cardinals might try Piscotty before Tavares. Do you think that's still the case?
J.J. Cooper: Grichuk is outhitting both of them in the same lineup right now, although Taveras is trying hard to catch him.

Aaron (Duncanville, TX): Has Joey Gallo made the biggest jump since last season?
J.J. Cooper: Yes. I’d say he’s the biggest riser (he and Mookie Betts) of the first third of the season.

Astro (Houston): Out of all Astro Farm system arms, who has the highest ceiling and when does he get to the majors? Thanks
J.J. Cooper: Foltynewicz. It’s a high-risk profile as he still has control issues, overthrows at times and needs to refine his secondary stuff, but he’s got as much pure power stuff as anyone in the minors. Because of the refinements I just mentioned, I’d say he could spend all year in Triple-A working on things, but if it all comes together, he’ll play his way to Houston quickly.

Anne LaMonica (H's): Are you worried about Mark Appel yet, or is it way too soon?
J.J. Cooper: I was worried last year when talking to scouts who saw him in the Midwest League last year To quote a scout in that Prospect Pulse story from last September: “I don't know what he has as an out pitch to get (major league) hitters out on a consistent basis," an American League scout said.” Is he going to be a big leaguer? Absolutely. But there were scouts who saw him last August who wondered if he’d be anything more than a No. 3/No. 4. His demotion this year to extended surely doesn’t quiet those concerns.

Harhay (Court house): Do you think its insane to think that Gallo could possibly have 50 homerun power potential?
J.J. Cooper: If anyone can have 50 home run power these days, it’s him. His power is the kind that comes around very rarely.

Guilia Starkey (Shea's): Sad to see Moose man sent down the minors, how temporarily is this?
J.J. Cooper: Alex Gordon got 260 at-bats in Triple-A with his demotion. If he’s going to make adjustments and make them stick, this likely isn’t a two-week tuneup.

Roger (Greenville, SC): Bubba Starling's 11-game hitting streak: real adjustment or just another tantalizing mirage?
J.J. Cooper: There are a lot of 1-for-4s in that hitting streak and very few extra-base hits. I’m not ready to say it’s a significant adjustment.

Roger (Greenville, SC): Who would you rather have: Gallo or Baez?
J.J. Cooper: Either.

Cal Guy (Cal): Has Joey Gallo been promoted to AA? He was not in the Myrtle Beach lineup yesterday. If he is still in Hi A when do you foresee a move to AA?
J.J. Cooper: No he banged himself up in a stolen base attempt. I know that fans keep screaming for a promotion, but he hit .245 and struck out 165 times in low Class A last year. There’s no reason to not take it slow and let him have at least a great two+ months before promoting him.

Mike (Plainview, NY): Now that Mookie Betts has been taking time in the OF, what does his ETA for the majors look like now?
J.J. Cooper: It speeds it up, as the Red Sox’s outfield situation is much more fluid than its infield situation. Let’s let him get comfortable out there, but a second half callup isn’t out of the question.

Tyler (Nj): Best career. Pederson,buxton,betts?
J.J. Cooper: Buxton, Pederson, Betts

Tyler (Nj): Ben lively really this good?
J.J. Cooper: Mother Teresa isn’t as good as Ben Lively’s first 6 weeks have been. No one’s this good. But yes, he’s a solid prospect who knows how to throw strikes and keep hitters off balance.

Jake Harris Levine (Grand Finale): Thanks again for taking the time before a long weekend. Can you tell me which 3 MILB'ers you would love to see in a homerun derby, not named Gallo.
J.J. Cooper: Good question to wrap up on. You did well to rule out Gallo, because my first five answers would be Gallo. Other than him? Peter O’Brien, because he’s the hot power bat of the moment, Joc Pederson because I’ve already seen him put on an outstanding BP show, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. Sorry, I’m giving you four, not three.