Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With J.J. Cooper

Moderator: J.J. Cooper will answer your Hot Sheet and prospects questions beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

John (CT): Very few hitters have been as hot as George Springer. How long before the Astros bring him up? Houston could use an exciting young player for the fans. If he could just cut down on the whiffs.
J.J. Cooper: Hey John. Thanks to everyone for coming out for the chat. Springer has been hot, but the Astros are not really looking to promote a guy too soon just to add some excitement. As you said, he’s got to cut down on the strikeouts, but also looking bigger picture, the Astros are going to be bad this year with or without Springer. There is no need to speed up his arbitration clock when he has legitimate things to work on in the minors.

Darryl S. (Fresno, CA): i love the weekly Prospect Hot Sheet, but if I can criticize for a second its that there are routinely dominated by Class A players. 9 of the 13 players today from that level, where its easier to put up crooked numbers. Is there a way to add a weighted scale so that the trend favors Double A and Triple A players a little more?
J.J. Cooper: Appreciate the suggestion Darryl, but the reality is that there aren’t that many prospects in Triple-A to make the Hot Sheet. The best offensive weeks in Triple-A this year all came from guys who were 26 or older. We do try to slant the rankings so that a prospect having a good week in Double-A or Triple-A tops a Class A guy doing the same thing, but there are more intriguing guys in Class A at this time of the year than there are in Double or Triple-A. Personally, I weight a lot of it based on age for league. So when you see a guy who is really young for the league succeed at any level, that carries weight.

Tanner (Omaha): Thoughts on braves 2010 first rounder Matt Lipka? Looks like he is starting to figure his game out. How does he project at the MLB level?
J.J. Cooper: I see him as a backup at best. I don’t think he’ll have enough power to be a middle-of-the-order guy and I don’t know if he’ll get on-base enough to serve as a top-of-the-order hitter.

Dr N. (Old Lyme): Lindor or Paulino will be the future at SS for the indians?
J.J. Cooper: Lindor. This one isn’t even close. Even if Lindor wasn’t in the organization there would be a lot of questions about whether Paulino can stay at shortstop long term. When you have a guy with the glove of Lindor ahead of him in the pecking order, it’s easy to see Paulino moving to another position eventually.

Local (FW): Byron Buxton, will he be given the chance to compete for a starting spot next spring?
J.J. Cooper: Don’t see that. It has happened before (see Albert Pujols in 2001), but it’s way more likely he starts next year in Double-A and makes it to the majors before the end of 2014 if he doesn’t have any setbacks.

Fred (Chicago): Is an Almora promotion coming soon?
J.J. Cooper: I got this question when Almora had 45 at-bats and I’m getting it again when he has 135. No. Slow down. There is nothing to be gained by jumping a guy who hasn’t yet even gone through the league twice.

Steven A (Chicago): Everyone's biggest beef with george springer is his k rate. But other then that his numbers have been fantastic and by all accounts his defense is above average. Why is it he seems to get picked on more then a player like Wil Myers who also struggled with a high k rate?
J.J. Cooper: Because they are different magnitudes of K-rates. For his minor league career, Myers struck out in just under 25 percent of all at-bats. For his minor league career, Springer has struck out in 31 percent of his at-bats. That’s a pretty major difference.

Tim (Chicago): Do you have an estimate when Javier Baez will be in AA?
J.J. Cooper: Wouldn’t stun me to see it not happen until the start of the 2014 season, although injuries/promotions could make it happen sooner. He’s having a good year in Daytona, but not the kind of year that makes you promote him to get him facing competition that challenges him. He’s being challenged in the FSL offensively and defensively.

Wilmer Flores (AAA): I'm hitting .312 as a 21 year old in AAA. My OPS has improved at each of the last 3 levels and currently sits at .873. Why don't I get more love as an elite prospect?
J.J. Cooper: This is another in the perpetual questions for the Hot Sheet chats. There are a number of reasons. For one, Flores has no logical full-time position. He’s likely to be challenged defensively at any infield position besides first base, and there are questions about whether he runs well enough to play any outfield spot. Also an .873 OPS in Las Vegas is good but it isn’t exceptional. That’s a very good place to hit. For perspective, five guys on Las Vegas last year posted better OPS in 200 or more at-bats. This year, Flores’ OPS ranks fourth among Las Vegas hitters with 100 or more at-bats.

Andy (North Carolina): Thanks for chatting with us. I've heard David Holmberg referred to as a future #4/#5 starter, but he's now mastered Low-A, the California League, and AA in consecutive years, and has to be due for a promotion soon. And he's young for his level (only a year older than Archie Bradley). I know the K-rate has been down most of this year (picking back up lately), but with his continual progression should his projection be adjusted upwards?
J.J. Cooper: No. The reasons he’s projected as a 4/5 has nothing to do with his results. It has everything to do with his stuff. When you see Holmberg pitch, he’s a guy who at the big league level is going to always have to scramble a little. His changeup can be pretty good, but if you’re a tick-below-to-average fastball/changeup pitcher who can locate, you can carve up a ton of Class A hitters. At the big league level, those guys often get carved up. If you look at what Holmberg has done you can compare it to a guy like Matt Maloney, who dominated low Class A, pitched quite well in Double-A and not bad at all in Triple-A, but has ended up as an up-and-down guy because of his lack of a put-em-away pitch. In Holmberg’s case, he doesn’t miss bats any more than Maloney did. I think Holmberg will be better than Maloney, but I’d still have trouble projecting him as more than a back-end starter.

Joey (MN): Trying to gauge a couple prospects this year, with Yelich being hurt a decent amount this year where does he currently rank on your prospect list and where do you think he falls into next year's preseason list (best guess)? Same question for Skaggs.

J.J. Cooper: We’ll have the answer for that on Monday when we release the Midseason Top 50 Prospects list as well as a lot of other lists to go with it.

Ben (Providence): Do scouts think that Lindor will develop any home run power as he matures, or will he likely be a five home run guy?
J.J. Cooper: He’ll end up with more power than that. He projects as a 10-15 HR guy down the road, better than that according to some scouts.

Jim (Berlin, NJ): Curious about Phils using 1st selection on SS Crawford, with Quinn on board. I understand the idea of taking premium athletes, but what's wrong with taking polished OF bats, a more pressing need?
J.J. Cooper: If you draft by need in the draft, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes because you are trying to project out three-to-five years down the road to what are your surpluses and weaknesses. A lot of times, those will change in ways you never expected. You’re best off drafting the best guy on your board.

Robert Foster (Seattle, WA): Next year, will Tyler Glasnow be included with Archie Bradley, Taj Walker, Stephenson?
J.J. Cooper: He won’t be there yet, but he’ll be gaining on them. The main thing you want to see right now is steady improvement with his control.

DH (Pittsburgh): Mark Appel could have gone 1-1 and signed for $6.35MM in 2012. It was only his hinting that it would require lots more money to sign him, that scared Houston (and others) away. Therefore, the max offer of $3.8MM or so from the Pirates was not the bar he had to beat in 2013. It was whatever he could have gotten as the 1-1 pick in 2012 if he hadn't scared everyone away. I don't see how Appel won. He risked it all, and got nothing additional but 1 less year of a career. What's that cost him? $10MM maybe?
J.J. Cooper: Interesting argument, but you say that as if you know he could have gotten $6.35 million. Our Jim Callis explained last week that the Astros wouldn’t give him more than $6 million last year. You can argue that the $350,000 isn’t worth the lost year of pro ball, but Appel got more money this year than last.

Ian (OK): Is Correa the best short stop prospect in baseball?
J.J. Cooper: Not to me. Lindor.

Paul (Birmingham): Given that Urias spends the rest of the year dominating in A ball, could you see the Dodgers starting him out in Hi-A for the 2014 season as a 17 year old? What would you do with him?
J.J. Cooper: Wrote that in the Hot Sheet writeup on him. Yeah, the way he’s going, it seems hard to send him back to low Class A next year.

Robert Foster (Seattle, WA): Should I hold onto Chris Owings in a Dynasty Keeper league?
J.J. Cooper: Yes. He could be a productive big leaguer, it’s just not likely to be as a SS for the Diamondbacks. I’d expect a position switch.

Peter (Toronto): Was Mitch Nay considered for at least HM
J.J. Cooper: He was the first guy on the just missed list this week. Second on that list was Mariners’ Chris Taylor.

Dan (NY): What are the chances that Ranaudo gets a call-up this year.....and will it be before De La Rosa ?
J.J. Cooper: Can’t see it being before de la Rosa. Especially because de la Rosa is already on the 40-man roster and Ranaudo is not.

eric (Puerto Rico): The comparisons between Carlos Correa and Manny Machado are legitimates?
J.J. Cooper: Physically you hear that from a number of scouts. Machado is the most recent oversize SS to come through the minors, so it makes sense to hear him thrown out as a physical comp to Correa. As far as projection, I think Machado at the same age was a better prospect than Correa, but he’s not in a different area code.

Mike (Orlando): Time for Cardinals to sit Holliday and see what Oscar Taveras can do?
J.J. Cooper: Taveras has to come off of the disabled list first as he battles a high ankle sprain. And no, it’s not time to sit Holliday. Holliday is having a solid, if unspectacular year. You don’t sit a proven veteran who’s making $17 million who is having a solid year just to see how your top prospect will fare. Taveras’ time will come before too long, but the only possibility of a Cardinals OF regular being benched for Taveras this year would be John Jay, and even that is unlikely I would think.

Elliot (Youngstown OH): I'll ask my weekly Carlos Moncrief question: The former pitcher now an OF with a strong arm is having a whale of a breakout season in his first try in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League. Avg flirting with 300, draws walks, hits doubles and homers, still with a cannon in the OF. I note that his splits vs LH is weak but he managed his first 2013 homer vs a lefty this weak. A major league platoon prospect at minimum?
J.J. Cooper: He’s having a very good year, and he’s worked himself into legitimate prospect consideration. A major league platoon prospect at minimum is taking it a little too far, but you don’t have to squint too hard to see him having a shot at the big leagues now, which didn’t seem all that likely not that long ago.

JH (California): I'm a bit surprised that I haven't heard more (or any) buzz about Tyrone Taylor given his sizzling June/July. what kind of prospect is he, and do you see him sticking in CF?
J.J. Cooper: He’s having an excellent year and has a pretty good case to be one of the Brewers’ Top 10 prospects when the season is over.

Scott (CT): I am looking forward to seeing Rafael De Paula in the futures game, but have yet to see him throw. What would you say a fair comparison to him would currently be, and do you expect the Yankees to aggressively push him due to his age?
J.J. Cooper: I do expect he’ll keep getting bumped up the ladder. Rather than a comp, I’ll describe what you can expect to see when he goes out there for one inning in the Futures Game. Given the bump that comes from airing it out for one inning, he should be sitting high-90s with his fastball and he’ll pair it with a pretty nasty breaking ball. He will be extremely fun to watch. I’m looking forward to it too, as it will be my first chance to see him in person as well.

Jim (Toronto): Wasn't the midseason top 50 supposed to be posted this week? Did I miss it?
J.J. Cooper: It’s going up on Monday. With the July 4 holiday, we worried it would be tough for a lot of our readers to have time to read/savor it this week. We’ll roll it out Monday and chat about it as well.

Raul (LA): Does Mondesi have a legit shot at being the Royals #1 prospect when the rankings are released in the fall.?
J.J. Cooper: He’ll be in consideration. I’d probably be inclined to go with Yordano Ventura for now, but Mondesi is in the discussion.

Brian (Greensboro, NC): Martin Perez is on a roll lately. When will he get his call up? Who is a MLB comp to Martin?
J.J. Cooper: I’m not trying to pick at this question, but he’s up. And he’s pitching really well in the big leagues. His first three starts have all been really good.

Walt (Texas): Tyler Skaggs....He's been smashed around in a few starts in the bigs and also has had small success. Is he 4A or is he going to be somebody that can help you win a World Series? Jake Odorizzi seems to fit in this discription also.
J.J. Cooper: I think Skaggs projects as more than you are giving him credit for there. He’s a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter who does have a true plus pitch with his curveball and his fastball is above-average as well for a lefthander. The adjustment to the big leagues is tough for everyone, especially young starting pitchers. I think he’ll be fine long-term.

DH (Pittsburgh): Maikel Franco and Javier Baez have very similar numbers in the FSL, at very similar ages. Baez gets more attention, and Franco has moved up, but if they both end up at 3B, do you suppose they could have similar production? Are athleticism and K rate the big differences?
J.J. Cooper: Baez is a way better athlete than Franco. Franco has questions about sticking at third. Baez has questions about sticking at shortstop. Those are significantly different questions. If you end up moving from shortstop to third base, you usually end up being a very solid defender at third if you have an arm like Baez. And the offensive expectations go up, but not dramatically. For a player like Franco, if he can’t stick at third, his likely only landing spot is first base considering how slow a runner he is. The difference in offensive expectations from third to first is pretty dramatic.

Steven A (Chicago): Wait! You think Lindor will be a better offensive player than Correa and Russell? Please explain because I don't see it.


J.J. Cooper:

      The question I was asked was who is the best shortstop prospect. Fielding the ball is a big part of being a shortstop.

Andrew Brotherton (Atlanta, GA): Does Rafael Depaula have a chance at making the top 100?
J.J. Cooper: Absolutely.

Jason (Los Angeles): What do you see Joc Pederson's ceiling to be?
J.J. Cooper: I was too light on Pederson early this year, but talking to several scouts who have seen him this year has helped me see the light. Very productive everyday regular in the outfield.

Mike (Orlando): Nobody gets paid 17 million dollars to be solid but unspectacular. A few days on the bench might help Mr. Holliday to remember that.
J.J. Cooper: If the Cardinals were 35-45 I may agree with you. But when a team has one of the best records in baseball, you run a whole lot of risks benching one of the leaders of the team. This isn’t fantasy baseball where you don’t have to worry about the dynamics of human emotions. Also, if you bring Taveras up, you’re not bringing him up for 3-5 days then sending him back down. So if you are benching Holliday, you’re doing that for longer than just a couple of days. Again. Not going to happen.

Hawk (Chicago): What do the Pale Hose have in Eric Johnson?
J.J. Cooper: One of the better breakout prospects of 2013. He’s a potential solid No. 3/4 for them before too long.

Brian (Greensboro, NC): Perez question - serves me right going for a long beach week.......
J.J. Cooper: Happens to all of us. I’m jealous as you were at the beach. It rained all week here in Durham, N.C.

Stephen (Sacramento, CA): When do you start to worry about players that are scuffling at a level (even though they are considered young for that league) yet were dominating the prior level a half year before. (Examples would be Kaleb Cowart or Courtney Hawkins)
J.J. Cooper: It’s always a cause for concern, but not something where you come close to writing a guy off. One of the things I want to find out is why they are struggling. In Hawkins’ case, it seems he’s in over his head in high Class A and would probably have been better served by spending this year in low Class A, which would have been a very normal progression for a high school OF from the 2012 draft.

Mike (North Carolina): J.J., in your view (or the industry's view), is there a cost to be paid for prematurely promoting a young pitcher to the Majors--before he is ready to succeed? The Kevin Gausman case seems worth considering. What individual characteristics might make this a more or less reasonable strategy?
J.J. Cooper: There is a cost, but it’s really, really hard to project accurately when a guy is ready or when it is too soon. The jump from Double-A or Triple-A to the majors is a much bigger jump than any level to level jump in the minors. The O’s somewhat rightfully thought that Gausman was ready when they called him up. The Marlins promoted Jose Fernandez to the big leagues with almost no upper-level experience and it’s worked for them. These are very tough calls and no one gets them all right.

Brett (Irvine): Any chance the A's give Addision Russell some time in AA this season? Or should they let him continue to build on his strong month of June?
J.J. Cooper: A lot of that depends on minor league pennant races and all. No reason to not let him keep building on June in the Cal League for now.

John (Dallas): All these top shortstops being mentioned and not one mention of Xander Bogaerts. I had to go check to see if he was still playing short (which he is, and quite well according to most reports). Your view on him?
J.J. Cooper: I think Bogaerts is the best offensive prospect of the shortstops. I also don’t think he will be playing shortstop in 2018-2020, while I think Lindor will. I think Bogaerts is a better prospect than Lindor, but if you’re saying your team needs a shortstop for the next six years, I’d take Lindor.

Roger (Greenville, SC): Skaggs only projects as mid-rotation? 6 months ago the projection was frontline. What's changed?
J.J. Cooper: Depends on which guy in the office you talk to. I’ve thought of him as a No. 3. Other guys in the office think of him as a No. 2. Not a whole lot has changed. I’ve always been one of the low guys in the office on Skaggs, and I like him a good bit.

Moderator: Thanks for all the good questions. I’ve got to wrap this up to go record the Prospect Handbook podcast. We’ll be back Monday with the Midseason Top 50 Prospects list as well as a chat to go with it.