Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. Jim Callis here to kick off our Top 100 Prospects chat. I’ll be with you for an hour, then we’ll have more editors to take your questions after that.
- Jonny (Milwaukee): Not surprised to see the Brew Crew MIA on the list. Did Rogers come close? Scarpetta?
Jim Callis: Lawrie and Odorizzi made it, of course, after they were traded. Rogers got some support, but when six of us editors started off the process by putting together individual lists, he
made only one of the Top 100s. Scarpetta didn’t get a vote, though I do
- JAYPERS (IL): Were he eligible, where would Anthony Rendon have ranked on your list, approximately?
Jim Callis: You’ll have to ask the rest of the editors how they feel, but personally, he would easily have been in my top five.
Maybe as high as No. 2.
- Ben (Leland Grove): Surprising to see Archer ranked as high as he was, especially since the possibility of becoming a
reliever/closer has been brought up. How bullish is BA's staff on him?
Jim Callis: Obviously bullish enough to rank him 27th. I
think with almost any pitcher, you’ll hear talk that for some reason or
another, he might wind up in the bullpen. Sometimes major league hitters determine that too. Archer does need to improve his command, but
he has two well above-average pitches in his fastball and slider, and he easily handled Double-A as a 21-year-old.
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Jim, great list as always. Did Christian Yelich get any consideration from the 6 BA staffers? If so, how close was he?
Jim Callis: Thanks, Tyler. He did get some consideration, but it’s a little early for him. Of the six of us, one put him on their Top 100 (at No. 87) and five of us had him on our Top 150 lists. I had him ranked at No. 138. Promising bat, just want to see more of him against pro pitching.
- ben (chicago): Is all hope lost for Vitters? Could you see him having a Moustakas like bounce back this year, or even
a chance to become elite again?
Jim Callis: I wouldn’t say all hope is lost. He has been hurt in two of his three full seasons, and he reached Double-A at age 20. There’s still a promising bat in there, and the Cubs think he’s poised for a breakout in 2011. If that doesn’t happen, then it’s time to
- Danny (NYC): What led to Banuelos ranking where he did? Was it purely his health?
Jim Callis: I thought No. 41 was a strong rating for a guy who has just three starts above high Class A and hasn’t pitched more
than 109 innings in any of his three pro seasons. I like him, and his stuff improved last season, but he also pitched just 64 innings, and we didn’t see how he’ll maintain it over a full year.
- Dara (ATL): Did Lipka get any love?
Jim Callis: His situation was similar to Yelich’s. We like him, but we want to see more. We rated him No. 76 on our May Draft Top 200, and while he’s a quality athlete who had a fine debut, it’s just a little early. One of us put him on their Top 100, and five of us put him on their Top 150.
- Tim (STL): Did any other Cardinals besides Miller and Cox come close to making the list?
Jim Callis: Carlos Martinez got a little support, but like Rogers, Yelich and Lipka would have been in the 120-140 range. Interesting guy, but there were a lot of questions surrounding his age and identity, and a lot of the ballyhooed Latin American signings don’t pan out. I want to see him against decent pro competition before I jump him into the Top 100.
- Josh (NY): What's the word on Alex Colome? You guys seemed to be very high on him last year and he had a solid if not overwhelming season. What's his upside and how close was he to the top 100?
Jim Callis: Still has good upside, with a lively low-90s fastball a possible plus curveball. He just needs more work on his secondary pitches and command, pretty typical for a young pitcher. Colome made two Top 150 lists. Lefty Alex Torres ranked ahead of him in our deliberations, and in fact made my Top 100 at No. 94.
- Eric (NY): Where would Jaff Decker happen to fall outside of your top 100? Also what kind of numbers do you see him realistically putting up this season?
Jim Callis: He’s an interesting case. He’s an all-bat guy who struggled with injuries and a slow start last year before coming
on in the second half. And he was just 20 in high Class A, too. He was No. 100 on my personal list, but he only made three other Top 150s. If he hits like he did in 2009 when he gets to Double-A this year, he’ll be
on the 2012 Top 100.
- Chris (NM): I'm (a little) surprised to not see Arencibia anywhere. What made him miss?
Jim Callis: There’s still some question as to how usable is power will be in the big leaguers, and how good his defense will be. He made one Top 100 list and five Top 150s.
- Nick (Kansas City): Your ETA for Hosmer is 2012. Is that because you think Kila can hold it down this year? Are they afraid to rush him ala gordon or does he just need more seasoning?
Jim Callis: Just don’t see any reason to rush Hosmer. If the Royals aren’t going to contend, and they aren’t, what’s the incentive for promoting Hosmer? He’s 21, so why not give him a full season of Triple-A and not start his service-time clock ticking?
- Jason (Arizona): I saw Ackley play quite a bit in the Fall League. Nice Player, but didn't jump out as star quality to me. Who do you compare him to as a finished product?
Jim Callis: I don’t think there’s an obvious comparison, and we’ve asked scouts that question and they have trouble coming up with one two. He’s going to be a high average/OBP guy with a lot of doubles, a few homers and good speed. I’m still not convinced he’s a second baseman, but we’ll see.
- Neufeldt (New Berlin, WI): No Jerry Sands? What are the reservations that justify keeping him off the list, and was
there any disagreement regarding Sands?
Jim Callis: Sands was on the short list of 10-15 guys who just missed. Two of us had him on Top 100s, and we all had him on our Top 150s. I had him ranked at No. 136. I respect Sands (No. 136 still puts him in the top 1 percent of minor leaguers), but it’s hard to
make it as a righthanded-hitting first baseman. I think he’s good, just
not good enough to crack the Top 100.
- Andrew (Chandler): how much of your rankings factor in talent and how much factors in proximity to majors?
Jim Callis: We put a greater emphasis on talent, but I know if I consider two players similar in talent, I’ll often lean to the
guy who’s closer to the majors because he has proven himself at a higher level.
- T (Boston): I know the team lists are done individually whereas the Top 100 is a compilation of all your lists but shouldn't there be some sort of "truing up" exercise? You have 3 teams (NYM, BOS and HOU) whose #3 prospect made the list but not their #1. Its a product of the methodology, sure, but it seems goofy.
Jim Callis: Not true at all about those No. 1s. The Mets (Mejia), Red Sox (Iglesias) and Astros (Lyles) all have their No. 1s on their list. We do the team lists well in advance of the Top 100, so occasionally you’ll see the prospect order on a team change on the Top 100. The team lists aren’t just the work of one person, but you are correct that in some cases we’ll defer to writer who has spent the most time compiling that list.
- Tom (Los Angeles): I do not see Ben Revere on the list - how close did he come and why was he left off?
Jim Callis: He hits for a high average and has good speed, but he has no power, doesn’t walk much and isn’t as good defensively as you might think. He got one Top 100 vote and five Top 150
- Jimmy (Columbia, SC): What about Christian Friedrich? I know he was a hot commodity last year? To much question with injuries for this year?
Jim Callis: The injury questions, which have dogged him
the last two years, are what kept him off the list. If we had a Top 105, he probably would have made it. I put him at No. 86 on my personal list, and cited him in Ask BA (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask-ba/2011/2611319.html)
on Monday as a guy who could rise up next year’s list.
- Greggy G (Ohio): Jameson Taillon at #11 without throwing a pitch in pro ball? Outrageous!
Jim Callis: How is that outrageous? Bryce Harper only had a handful of at-bats in the AFL, which isn’t true competition. We’re
picking the best players in the future, not the best guys who have made
their pro debuts. Taillon was a consensus top-three prospect in the 2010 draft, the Pirates would have taken him with the No. 1 overall choice, and he has some of the best pure stuff in the minors. I’ll gladly take one of those.
- Marc (Bethesda): I was surprised to see Wilson Ramos make it into the Top 100 - what is his ceiling and does his defense mean Derek Norris eventually moves to 1B? Any other National's even considered?
Jim Callis: His ceiling is as a solid regular, which at
catcher, might make you an all-star. His defense is much better than Norris’, and Ramos is also a better pure hitter (albeit with less power and fewer walks). If Ramos comes close to his ceiling, Norris will have to move. After the four Nationals who made the list, A.J. Cole was the next-closest, but he wasn’t particularly close.
- Sara (Chicago): Where would Aroldis Chapman rate if he was a starter in 2011?
Jim Callis: I don’t think he’d rank any higher. When I’m ranking pitchers, especially those at the top of the list, I’m looking at stuff, consistency, command and I think Chapman’s combo still
would put him behind Teheran and Hellickson even if his projected 2011 role were different.
- KyleS (Loudonville, NY): Did Wilin Rosario's injury cause the low ranking? Also, could you explain the ranking of Christian Colon at 51? I find that very aggressive.
Jim Callis: It definitely did. Assuming the Jesus Montero won’t be a big league catcher, I think Rosario is the best catching prospect in the minors. Others held back a little until they see how he bounces back from his knee injury, which is fair. Nothing wrong with ranking at No. 49 on the list . . . As for Colon, he was one of the two best pure hitters in the draft last year and he’s an up-the-middle player. There aren’t too many of those. I think his instincts will allow him to be either an acceptable shortstop or an above-average defender at second base, and he’ll definitely hit.
- Taylor (Houston): Is Jordan Lyles the real deal or just the best of a terrible system in the recent past?
Jim Callis: The Astros system is still rebuilding after
some bad drafts in the middle of the 2000s, so that helps Lyles stick out. At the same time, he’s a legitimate prospect who will compete for a
big league job this year as a 20-year-old. I was the low man on Lyles, ranking him No. 62 on my personal list, as I think his stuff makes him profile more as a No. 3 starter than a frontline guy.
- Johnny Vegas (Baudette, MN): Tsuyoshi Nishioka, where did he land on yout top 150?
Jim Callis: No. 145. I think he’ll be a decent to solid
regular, don’t see a lot of star potential there. More of a second baseman than shortstop.
- John (Mather, CA): Who grades out as a better hitter all-around, Wil Myers or Gary Sanchez ? I noticed you gave Sanchez 70 power, wouldn't his bat rate 70 as well ? Seems like Sanchez should be higher on this list, but I guess you want to see more of him at higher levels before putting him in the top 10 ?
Jim Callis: That’s exactly right on Sanchez. Both had fantastic 2010 seasons, but Myers got to high Class A and Sanchez was in
a complex league, which explains why Myers was No. 10 and Sanchez was No. 30. Sanchez is a very good prospect, the top non-Montero catcher on our list, but GCL stats mean very, very little.
- John (OH): A little surprised to see that Grandal didn't make the cut. His game seems to be pretty well rounded for a catching prospect. Any insight into why he didn't make the cut?
Jim Callis: He would have made a Top 105. Three of us had him on our Top 100, I had him at No. 82, and he made all six Top 150s. The guys who weren’t as high on him want to see more offensive and
defensive consistency out of him.
- Bob (In LA): How close did Trevor May come to sneaking into the top 100?
Jim Callis: He was in the next group of 15 prospects. You can blame me, because I was the only one who didn’t have him on a Top 150. I like the raw arm, but the command worries me and I want to see some success in high Class A first.
- Ryan (Indy): Is Arodys Vizcaino ranked 93 because of his injury last year? What kind of upside does he have if healthy?
Jim Callis: Yes. He had a partially torn elbow ligament
last year, so we hedged our bets a bit. If he’s healthy, he’s very similar to Randall Delgado, who ranked No. 35.
- Mike (Chicago): Very impressive collection of talent coming to KC. Now for the million dollar question, when do they reach .500? when do they reach the playoffs? when do they win the world series?
Jim Callis: I’ll say .500 in 2012, playoffs in 2013, World Series win in 2015. Might be a year ahead of myself in each case.
- Steve (Las Vegas): If Ryan Westmoreland were to return to full health where do you think he would be ranked?
Jim Callis: We had him at No. 21 last year before he underwent brain surgery last spring. His comeback is progressing faster than expect, but he’s still a long way from getting back to where he was. Best wishes to Ryan.
- Ray (Manhasset, NY): Jim,
Who is the best infield prospect in baseball?
Jim Callis: Middle infielder? I’ll take Manny Machado (who’s No. 14 on our list) over Dustin Ackley (No. 12), because Machado is a shortstop and I think Ackley is a second baseman better suited for the outfield.
- Jimmy (SC): How does Shelby Miller profile as a starter? Does his date of arrival move up if Wainwirght goes down for the year?
Jim Callis: He’s a potential No. 1 starter. That said, he’s just 20 and hasn’t pitched above low Class A, so I don’t think there’s any way he’s ready before the end of 2012. You won’t see him in St. Louis this year.
- Greg (Boston): Had Austin Wilson been signed, would he crack the Top 100?
Jim Callis: Not for me. Great athlete, but I’ve heard too many questions on the bat to put him on the Top 100 this fast.
- Kevin (Brooklyn): Hey Jim, great to have the chats back! If Yu Darvish was a minro leaguer do you think you guys would have him in the top 10? top 25?
Jim Callis: Thanks, Kevin. He’d be in the Top 25 for sure, probably the Top 10.
Jim Callis: I need to run and do a radio show, so up next is J.J. Cooper. Thanks for all the good questions!
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, KY): I'm a little surprised
by Devin Mesoraco's ranking as I would have thought he might be 20 or so spots higher. Offensively, he had a breakout season last year and really solidified himself as a legitimate contender to become the Reds catcher of the future. Is his relatively low ranking mainly due to the poor resume he has put up prior to the 2010 season, because going on 2010 alone, he was easily one of the top 10 offensive prospects in baseball.
J.J. Cooper: Completely agree that Mesoraco’s 2010 season was one of the best in the minors. That being said, most scouts see him as a solid regular at best, and maybe a second-division regular.
A part of that is concerns about his pre-2010 resume, as you surmised. That being said, being ranked No. 64 is a sign of how far Mesoraco has come. If we were doing at top 500 last year, I don’t think he would have
come close to making it.
- JAYPERS (IL): If Puello's best tool is his speed (65), what would his power rank? Hearing that he's showing some pop in ST.
J.J. Cooper: You could throw a 60 power on Puello as well, although that’s all projection obviously. His in game power right now is pretty non-existent, but he does show it in BP.
- Caleb (Rochester, MN): If Carlos Martinez pitches in Rookie Ball the way Shelby Miller did last year, could he move onto the list in 2012?
J.J. Cooper: He could, but pitching in rookie ball isn’t the same as doing it in low A like Miller did. Not a whole lot of pitchers who’ve yet to pitch in full-season ball make the list, but Martinez’s stuff is good enough that he could be one of those exceptions.
- Jon Bass (Ann Arbor, michigan): I constantly hear about Aaron Hicks' tools but that he is a work in progress. Who would he compare to, best and worst case scenarios?
J.J. Cooper: John Manuel toyed around with that very question a lot in the lead-up to the Top 100. Check out the Top 100 Podcast we posted today for a longer answer, but what he found is there aren’t a whole lot of Top 100 Prospects ever who have repeated low Class
A. But Reggie Sanders was one of the ones who did, so it’s not a kiss of death. If everything breaks right, he’s a five-tool middle of the order hitter. The power has to develop for that to come true though.
- Bob (DC): Michael Choice was one of the best college hitters in a draft that lacked a lot of college hitting. Did he
receive much attention in the ranking?
J.J. Cooper: He wasn’t that far away. He was on five of
the six ballots and made the top 100 of two of the six voters. He ended
up in the 110-120 range. A good full season this year will put him on the 2012 list.
- Taylor (Houston): I see you guys must feel Villar is a better prospect than Mier. Where does Mier fall, and can you explain Villar over Mier? I understand Mier struggled last year. Thanks.
J.J. Cooper: Most of the scouts we talk to would put Villar above Mier. Both have some questions offensively (admittedly Villar has more), but Villar projects as significantly better defensively, and he’s played a level higher than Mier while being a year
younger. There are significant concerns about Villar’s bat, but among a
thin crop of shortstop prospects, his is one of the first names scouts mention. Villar’s defense is good enough for the Astros to be patient and hope his bat develops.
- Clint (Omaha, NE): 9 is not enough !!! jk, any other Royals close to the Top 100 (Eibner, Jeffress)?
J.J. Cooper: Actually Aaron Crow just missed making the
list as well—he was in the next 10 group who just missed the list. I was the highest on Crow, but to me if you compare him to the relievers who just made the list at the back end, he’s not all that different. Crow’s 2010 season was awful, but his stuff compares pretty favorably to
Tanner Scheppers (both have plus-plus fastballs and Crow’s slider is better than Scheppers slider or curve) and he’s got a better track record as far as health. Eibner and Jeffress both got a little support as well, as both were in the top 150.
- Chris (NM): How well will Zack Cox hit? I've heard him called "over hyped" and a "fringe MLBer"
J.J. Cooper: I don’t think there’s much question that Cox will hit for average. The question that will determine Cox’s future ceiling is how his power comes along.
- Greg Lewis (Congers N.Y.): How close was Alex Liddi to the top 100, and do you see him gaining ground this year?
J.J. Cooper: He wasn’t close. No one made the case for him to be in their personal top 150. Liddi needs to recognize breaking balls better to have any chance of making the 2012 Top 100.
- colin (toronto): Sale at #2 and Mcguire at #95? Did jays scouts really miss that one?
J.J. Cooper: You mean 20 for Sale I assume. McGuire has
a better chance to be a starter than Sale, so it’s a question of what you are looking for, but all through the 2010 leadup to the draft, Sale was considered one of the top two college pitching prospects in the draft (along with Drew Pomeranz). McGuire was considered part of the next tier.
J.J. Cooper: You mean 20 for Sale I assume. McGuire has
a better chance to be a starter than Sale, so it’s a question of what you are looking for, but all through the 2010 leadup to the draft, Sale was considered one of the top two college pitching prospects in the draft (along with Drew Pomeranz). McGuire was considered part of the next tier.
- Michael (Raleigh NC): Tim Beckham. Only 21 years old. Still time to develop. Has he really fallen this far that he can't make a top 100 list?
J.J. Cooper: If he wasn’t taken No. 1 over all there would be no case at all for him to be on the Top 100. He still has time to develop, but there doesn’t appear to be any argument to put him among
the top 300 prospects in the game right now. He doesn’t look like he’ll
be able to stick at shortstop defensively, and if he moves to third base, his bat has yet to show any signs that it can handle the increased
demands that come with the move. The Rays can hope for a Devin Mesoraco-like turnaround for Beckham, but we’ll have to see some of that
before he can make a case to start sniffing the Top 100.
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): JJ, who would be your front runner to win the 2011 Minor League Player of the Year award?
J.J. Cooper: Bryce Harper seems like a good choice.
- John (Columbus, Ohio): What happened between this year and last year that made Yonder Alonso drop so much?
J.J. Cooper: He’s a year older and really not any closer to a big league regular job. When the Reds selected him in 2008, one of his biggest assets was that he was a relatively polished player who would move quickly. Now he’s looking at a third full season in the minors barring injuries. That’s not really his fault—he’s blocked at his one defensive position by the NL MVP. But for an offensive-first player, Alonso’s ceiling has taken a hit.
- Thomas (Gwinnett): Over or under 25 for a career high in homers for Freeman?
J.J. Cooper: I’ll take the over. For all the apparent worries about Freeman’s power, he did hit 18 home runs and slugged .521 in the International League as a 20-year-old last year.
- Sean (Kansas City): Do you think hard slotting would hurt the Royals farm systems of the future? How much?
J.J. Cooper: Absolutely. MLB can say that hard slotting
would take away the advantage large market teams have in the draft, but
no one has taken more advantage of players falling due to bonus demands
than the Royals—Wil Myers and Chris Dwyer on this year’s Top 100 are just two of the examples of above-slot picks the Royals pounced on. The Pirates were another team who has used other team’s decisions to stick to slot to their advantage. Unlike free agency, this isn’t as cut and dried as it appears. Some big market teams and some small market teams would be hurt by hard slotting while some of both would also be helped.
- Ryan (Indy): Who has the higher ceiling, Teheran or Hanson?
J.J. Cooper: Hanson to me, but Teheran’s ceiling is quite high as well.
- Avery (Walnut Creek): Certainly, the Royals will have some prospects in the current top 100 that don't make the list
next year, and a couple lose their eligibility this year. Is it possible with the #5 selection and a handful of prospects (Adams, Eibner, Ventura, etc.) on the border, they could be even more successful
on next year's top 100?
J.J. Cooper: A lot will depend on how many of the current Top 10 are no longer eligible. If Kansas City is slow to promote
players this year, there’s a chance that Moustakas will be the only Royal in the Top 100 who is no longer prospect eligible when we get around to ranking the 2012 Top 100. If that’s the case, considering the depth of this year’s draft, any midseason trades and the normal attrition of other Top 100 Prospects getting called up, you could see the Royals top this year’s nine Top 100 Prospects. That being said, as we’ve mentioned before, the Royals had just about everything go right in
2010. A couple of injuries and a couple of disappointing performances would be relatively normal for even a stacked farm system—Kansas City had very little of that in 2010.
- Kyle (West Plains, MO): With Wil Myers "officially" changing positions and becoming an outfielder, how does it affect his prospect status in the top 100?
J.J. Cooper: That was factored into these rankings. He’s ranked where he is with the idea that he’s an outfielder.
- Tom (Miami): I'm a bit surprised not to see Hak-Je Lee anywhere on this list, given that I have heard many people call him the second best short stop prospect outside of Machado. What was the rationale behind leaving him off?
J.J. Cooper: I’m not a big Lee fan, although there are others around the office who are much higher on him than I. That being said, I haven’t really heard many scouts make the argument that he’s the
second best shortstop prospect in the minors. I’d say he’s more in the middle of the top 10 among minor league shortstops right now.
- Ken Morrison (slave lake AB CA): JJ: thx for the Chat , As always a great day in the BA world .
the Yankees put 6 guys on the list and the Jays 4 yet in the handbook the Jays farm rated higher, obviously due to depth
Was Gose , Stewart ,and Carlos Perez all top 150,s
J.J. Cooper: Gose, Stewart, Arencibia, Perez and Wojciechowski all got Top 150 votes. You hit on the reason the Blue Jays rated higher.
- Norman (San Jose): how is belt's power projected?
J.J. Cooper: That’s really the biggest question with Belt. I know there were concerns about his swing going into the draft, but he has pretty much answered them with the tweaks he made. But his power is more of a gap power, take the ball the other way for a lot of doubles approach. One of the descriptions I got last year was a better J.T. Snow. In a best case scenario think of him as a high average, high on base guy who hits 15-20 home runs, enough doubles to keep his slugging percentage up and Gold Glove defense at first.
- Brian (San Diego): Why doesn't Simon Castro get any love? He was #57 last year and only #58 this year after another impressive season?
J.J. Cooper: It was a solid season, but some scouts still worry about his delivery and whether he’ll be a middle of the rotation starter or reliever long term. Others like him more, but that’s
why he pretty much held serve on the list.
- RMR (Chicago): I'm surprised to see Devin Mesoraco come in as low as he did and D'Arnaud so high. Just how much spread do you think there is between him and the other catchers who project to actually stick behind the plate? (Sanchez, Rosario, D'Arnaud, Ramos)
J.J. Cooper: If you’re a subscriber, I’ll suggest you check out the Split Decisions package for the answer to that, as we analyzed it in detail: http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2011/2611307.html
- ttnorm (CT): So you are saying that hard slotting doesn't help big budget teams? Isn't that more than a little counterintuitive? Maybe you could clarify.
J.J. Cooper: I’m not saying that hard slotting helps big budget or small budget teams. It helps teams who currently stick to slotting suggestions. The Mets are a large market team, but they spend very little in the draft because they tend to stick to MLB’s slotting recommendations. The Royals are among the smallest of low revenue teams,
but they spend significantly more than the Mets because they don’t stick to slot recommendations. The spread between the teams who stick to
slot and don’t stick to slot is roughly $3 to $5 million a year at most, so we’re not talking about money that is beyond even the smallest market team. It’s generally a question of whether your ownership is willing to tell the commissioner’s office no when they tell you “don’t sign that guy for over slot.” This isn’t like free agency where the $20 million a year player is beyond the reach of many teams for budgetary reasons.
- RMR (Chicago): So Alonso's stock takes a hit because he's blocked at the major league level, without consideration to
his performance (particularly in the 2nd half once he was fully recovered from the hamate injury)? Put another way, would he be ranked higher if he were a National, Cub or Oriole?
J.J. Cooper: Who said we didn’t consider his performance? Alonso’s performance was most definitely factored into his ranking. He’s been a solid but unspectacular performer as a pro up to now. That being said, if he was projected to be the everday first baseman for a team this year, than yes, he would likely be ranked a little higher. But there are other concerns, namely his lack of speed and his lack of position flexibility mean his value is tied up completely in his bat.
- Nate (Maryland): So you're saying the Royals had an unsustainable batting average on prospects in play this year and are due for regression?
J.J. Cooper: Clever. I’m saying the Royals had just about a perfect prospect season in 2010. But the crazy thing is they have the depth in the lower minors (and high draft picks) to equal it again in 2011.
- Brian (Seattle): Nick Franklin as the 5th SS? I
have him being the most complete SS behind Machado. He'll stick, and his bat will play nicely at SS.
J.J. Cooper: If he can stick at shortstop, then yes, you can make the argument that he’s the second best SS on the list. But there are scouts who aren’t as certain as you are that he’ll stick at SS.
- Brian (San Diego): It seems like BA has an enormous bias for high ceiling players. Why not meet in the middle with
high ceiling and high floor players. I think it's a little ridiculous that Decker is not on this list and the "bad body" comments seem overblown. Does he not have one of the best bats in the minor leagues?
J.J. Cooper: Partly because, to be honest, teams want high ceiling players. And championships are won more by developing all-stars than by developing second-division regulars. One of the ways I
try to put together my personal 150 is by asking how would teams rank these prospects. There are teams who emphasize high ceilings much more than this Top 100 list does. Decker has a very solid bat, even if his numbers last year were OK at best when you consider he was playing in the California League. You can definitely make an argument for him at the back end of the top 100, but there are still legitimate concerns about everything else.
- Kyle (West Plains, MO): What happens with Noel Arguelles? He was a possibility in this list before his surgery. If he
comes back as good as before, where is he ranked?
J.J. Cooper: He’s got to throw a pro pitch before he makes this list again. Shoulder surgery is always a scary thing.
- MJ (Chicago): Does Machado look like he can stick at short?
J.J. Cooper: Yes. If he couldn’t he wouldn’t have ranked as highly as he did, although the bat’s pretty special as well.
- RMR (Chicago): Is Reds OF Dave Sappelt on any of your radars? His similarity to Shane Victorino across the board are scary.
J.J. Cooper: He’s on the radar, but there’s one big difference between him and Victorino. Victorino switch hits while Sappelt bats righthanded. If Sappelt could switch hit or hit lefty it would significantly improve his profile.
- JR (NYC): What was Ichiro's scouting report when he first came to america. Did he crack the Top 25?
J.J. Cooper: If you check our all-time Top 100 list (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/all-time.html)
you’ll see he was No. 9 in 2001.
- Tom (Miami): Given the aggressive ranking of Taillon, I was a bit surprised to see my boy Zach Lee as far down as he is. I'm fine with ranking him toward the end of the 100 in general, but if you clearly have no qualms ranking a guy way up strictly on ability, should Lee not be at least among the top 70? Is there that big a difference between his potential and Taillon's?
J.J. Cooper: Yes there actually is. The money Lee got because of his two-sport status may cloud the issue, but Taillon was seen as one of the top three prospects in the draft by a consensus of scouts. Lee was considered part of the next tier of high school pitching
prospects going into the draft—he wasn’t considered comparable to Taillon.
- Mike (NJ): Matt Moore at Top 5 prospect next year assuming his control is like it was in the 2nd half of last year?
J.J. Cooper: Yes.
- Nate (Maryland): Who has better power, Harper or Stanton?
J.J. Cooper: Hard to pick, but it’s like choosing between Nolan Ryan and Aroldis Chapman’s fastball’s. An 80 is an 80—always something to appreciate.
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): I'm loving the Singleton ranking, but have to ask. If Singleton finished as strong (or close to as strong) as he started last season, how high would he have been on this list? Another way to ask it, is the true Jon Singleton the guy who had a near 1.131 OPS pre All Star break, the guy who fell to a 0.728 OPS post All Star break, or somewhere in between?
John Manuel: Glad to hop in for a while, going to try (against my instincts, I know) to go lightning-round style … I think Singleton’s in between. I trust his hitting instincts, batting eye and raw power potential.
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, KY): Was there a distinguishing factor that seperated Bryce Harper from Mike Trout, such as Harper's fantastic start in the AFL amongst some of the best competition in the minors?
John Manuel: Impact power is the separator for me, and I believe that was the case for the four others who voted Harper 1.
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, KY): If Anthony Rendon had qualified for this list, where would he have ranked? If you care to share, how about Gerrit Cole as well?
John Manuel: Believe Callis answered this and said No. 2; I’m bullish on Rendon but more inclined to say 11 or so, around Taillon. Cole also would be ahead of Taillon, for me. Very, very bullish
- Chris (NM): What gets Colon all the way up to 51? What are you expecting for offensive production from him?
John Manuel: Believe Jim addressed this as well, we also discuss Colon in Split Decisions and in the podcast. Safe bet to hit, best 4-year college bat in last year’s draft, could have Pedroia-esque career.
- JAYPERS (IL): Under Zach Britton's "Best Tool", you list his FB (70). Shouldn't this be Sinker?
John Manuel: Jaypers, you know better, his fastball is a sinker. Not separate pitchers, or tools.
- Fonda (Santa Clara): How close was Max Kepler to making the list? Is he just too raw at this point? And does coming from Europe make analysts and scouts hesitant to rate him higher?
John Manuel: He was in the Twins top 10 after the ’09 season, when he first signed; just missed top 10 this year. Not close to
top 100. Many reasons to be hesitant, including being European, raw, lacking physical strength, track record, etc. Very interesting, good tools, not top 100 material right now for anyone this side of mister-baseball.com
- Troy (Des Moines, IA): Can you compare Dom Brown and Brett Jackson, to me there isn't as much difference between the two for a 34 spot difference (I think Jackson should be a little higher, but just my uneducated guess) and could you compare who you think Jackson would be a good comp with past or present pro. Thanks and great work as always.
John Manuel: Brown has more power potential. Jackson’s tools are more 50s and 60s, Brown has more 60s & 70s, bigger, louder
tools. Jackson has more polish in some areas but also strikes out a fair amount. Brown is more explosive, hence the separation.
- ttnorm (Connecticut): Who is a good Hellickson comp? Shields? Santana? Weaver?
John Manuel: One I liked from a scout this past year was Kevin Tapani — good, not great starter, No. 2 or No. 3 starter on championship clubs with Cubs (at least division champ) and Twins.
- Jullien (Jersey): If Dellin Betances can stay healthy, I know big if, and have another dominant season what type of jump do you think he could take up the rankings?
John Manuel: Dellin Betances took a pretty huge jump this year; was barely in NYY top 30 last year, now 43. He’s a high-risk,
high-reward guy, so could be a top 10 guy if he goes 130-150 IP this year and throws consistent quality strikes. Of course if he does that he’ll probably get called up and exhaust his prospect eligibility.
- Brian (NY): Is Gary Sanchez a good bet to stay at catcher. What type of all around ceiling do you see him having?
John Manuel: If he weren’t a catcher, he may not even have made the list.
- JT (Michigan): Is Cesar Puello's aggressive ranking the case that one of you (I think Manuel) had him in his top 50 per the book, or is it the case that you all generally like him well enough? I thought he was conspicuously absent from Monday's Ask BA answer, but here's some major love.
John Manuel: I was the high man on Puello, but four of the six staffers had him in their top 100s, everyone had him in their top 120.
- Chris (Pittsburgh): Stetson Allie wasn't included on the split decisions discussion about future closers, so I assume he is currently being thought of as a starter until proven otherwise. If he is projected as a closer, what happens to his ranking?
Does he go up or down?
John Manuel: I believe we all considered him as a starter; a HS closer would not make the top 100 before ever throwing a pitch. Obviously a possibility down the road, but his stuff was too big to ignore.
- Casey (Hawaii): Jim as a fellow man crusher, or
whatever, on Kyle Gibson I'm sadden to see him so "low". Actually I'm fine with 34 but Hicks in the 40s did surprise me. People turning sour on the 5-tooled kid or is there just that much talent?
John Manuel: Not sure anyone’s sour on Hicks. He repeated low Class A. Not a lot of big leaguers who have done that. Stats matter less at lower levels, but it would have been nice if he had
dominated that level upon returning, like Austin Jackson did a few years back. As for Gibson, just for comparision, he’s actually older than Kyle Drabek, who was drafted 3 years earlier, has been in majors, ranks slightly ahead of Gibson on our Top 100, FWIW.
- Joseph M. (Bozeman, MT): Jim,
Will you be doing the prospect dream draft again? It was my favorite part of the site last year.
John Manuel: Not this year, but may return to it next year. We like several of the features we’ve done with the Top 100 in recent years — Dream Draft, Risk Factors, Split Decisions. Brought back
Split Decisions this year, email me and let me know if you have a favorite … johnmanuel AT baseballamerica dot com
- Pablo (Miami): We always hear about Dominguez being such a great glove who needs to work on his hitting. If he is given the starting 3b job out of the gate will that hurt his development
or help? What is his ceiling as a hitter?
John Manuel: Scouts I’ve talked to have described Dominguez as a tinkerer offensively who changes his approach frequently.
He’s streaky, inconsistent … has hitting tools but isn’t expected to ever be a batting title threat. I think he would be better served in the
minors but the Marlins know him better than I do. Hitting ceiling is along the .270 line, 15-20 homers, which would be quite acceptable with his glove.
- Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): I like where Zack Cox was ranked on this list. How does his bat project next year in High A? Is he going to be a guy with a plus bat and average power, or do you think he has more muscle than his final season at Arkansas indicated?
John Manuel: He has strength and raw power, showed it in HS & in Cape, focused on contact as a soph. last year. I believe in his bat. Just not 100 percent on his impact. Hard to find other college hitters who have had such a low isolated power who were drafted for the bat. I think his ISO was .180 last year, comparable college 1st rounders are all middle IFs such as Russ Adams, Cliff Pennington, etc.
- Drew (Midtown): Anthony Rizzo and Brandon Belt both seem about 2 months away from the NL West. You have Belt ranked significantly higher, but I'd be interested in how you view their upside
and likely production.
John Manuel: Hard not to like Belt better. Belt’s more athletic, controls the strike zone better and the most monstrous pro debut probably since Evan Longoria in ’06. Belt has a chance to be a 3-hole hitter. Rizzo’s ceiling is probably 4-hole or 5-hole guy. Not a huge difference, and out of hundreds of prospects — I mean, we rank 900
in the Handbook — 50 spots is not too significant.
- Steve (Plainfield IL): Where do you have Joe Benson and what kept him out of the top 100?
John Manuel: He’s No. 100.
- Todd (GA): Why Hamilton over Segura?
John Manuel: Good question. Similar players; in my head
I think of Hamilton as a SS even though the Reds played him more at 2b last year, whereas I think of Segura as a 2B. Both are slated to play SS
this year. Both are speed-based players, and Hamilton has more speed (80 vs. 60 roughly). More projection on Hamilton’s body as well, while there are some concerns Segura could thicken in the lower half.
- Dino (Pennsylvania): Having seen Lonnie Chisenhall play at AA Akron, I'm not surprised at his 25th ranking. Are
there any lingering doubts about his makeup stemming from his problems at the University of South Carolina?
John Manuel: Not really, seems to have learned his lesson, no issues since he turned pro that would keep him off the field.
- Jerry (NYC): Hi Jim, are the Yankees prospects all over hyped and over rated? All of them come with huge question marks I think.
John Manuel: I’m high man on the Yankees this year, almost across the board. The only guy who might be “hype” is Betances, there’s a split camp on him. Since our ranking in the fall, it became clear that the industry consensus would rank Banuelos over Betances, and
that’s reflected in the Top 100. Betances has a lot of risk, more even than Brackman IMO. The rest of those guys, to me, are properly slotted. Aggressive ranking of Sanchez, but his ceiling is significant.
John Manuel: Sorry everybody. With almost 200 questions
still in the queue, we’ve got a magazine & website we still have to
plan. Off to rank our Top 20 Rookies for the Major League Preview! Thanks for all the interest, the conversation can continue on Twitter (@BaseballAmerica or @johnmanuelba) or on BA’s Facebook page. Thanks.1