AFL Prospect Chat With Chris Kline

Moderator: Chris Kline will begin taking your AFL questions at 12 p.m ET

 Q:  Jim S. from Milwaukee, WI asks:
am very interested to hear about the progress of Adam Miller. He was
highly regarded before his arm problems at the beginning of the season
and was supposed to be back at full strength for the Fall League. Is he
fully recovered or are there lingering health concerns? Does he still
project as a #1 starter or should expectations be lowered?

Chris Kline:
There are no health issues with Miller. He’s fine and was throwing
consistently in the mid to upper 90s. Secondary stuff still needs work.
Still a No. 1, though his changeup still lags behind a bit. But then
again . . . he’s 20.

 Q:  Phil from Reisterstown, MD asks:
of O’™s questions’"it isn’™t ridiculous to say Nick Markakis is the best
OF in the organization NOW. How would you look on the prospect of him
in the 2006 O’™s everyday lineup?
Adam Loewen’™s contract will require the O’™s to keep him on the big
league roster for 2007’"do you think he’™ll be ready by then? Obviously,
control seems to be the main thing he has to work on.

Chris Kline:
I’m not sure Markakis has superstar potential, but he’s more of a
steady everyday player that will hit for average with some pop. I think
throwing him in for Opening Day might be a little bit of a stretch, but
if there’s one guy in the organization that could handle that jump
mentally, it’s Markakis. All indications are that Loewen appears to
finally be on the fast track. He still walked a lot of guys in the AFL,
but he wasn’t wild. His control was actually much better over the
course of 2005, and he made adjustments in his delivery to get a more
consistent release point. If he keeps up what he’s been doing–and
confidence is a HUGE factor when talking Loewen–he could definitely be
ready by ’07.

 Q:  Jason from Castro Valley, CA asks:
no Andre Ethier in the Top 20? How close did he come to making the
list? Seems to me like he has Left Field nailed down for the A’s in
2007 since Jay Payton is a 1 year rental.

Chris Kline:
I figured there’d be some Ethier outrage, and rightly so. He was
definitely in the mix, and that emerging power is hard to ignore. So is
the plate discipline. But the league was so much deeper this year
compared to last year. To give you some insight, I struggled to rank 20
players in 2004. This year, I started off with 46 . . .

 Q:  Bill Mitchell from Tempe, AZ asks:
thanks for the chat. What was the biggest disappointment from your
recent trip to Arizona — not getting to interview Prince Fielder or
missing the opportunity to drink a Pumpkin Porter with your favorite BA
photographer? Now for the serious question — I saw Bill Murphy pitch
several times. Sometimes he was lights out and dominant. Other games it
looked like he didn’t know how to get anyone out. Which is closer to
the real Bill Murphy, and is he a future starter or destined to be a
middle reliever type?

Chris Kline:
I think I was a little more bummed about missing out on the porter–and
no disrespect to Prince. I think Murphy really started to turn a corner
this fall. During the regular season he was awful, but he got some of
that confidence back. Any time you can shut down some of the lineups in
the AFL, that’s going to happen. I still think he’s destined for a
middle relief role, however. Stamina and the body are issues.

 Q:  Cornell 44 from Delmizzle, FL asks:
What has happened to Cleveland’™s Adam Miller? His fastball may not
register 101 mph at this time, but 94-97 is still fast enough to set up
his wicked slider. No matter where he played in 2005, he has been
pretty much hammered by opposing bats. Is he on a downward spiral, or
is he still figuring things out command-wise?

Chris Kline:
No downward spiral . . . Miller is fine. Stop wigging out, dude. He’s
still trying to get the command of his slider back and keep throwing
his changeup to make it a viable weapon.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Salazar really disappointed me with his AFL performance, after a
mediocre regular season. He could take the CF job next year if he
wanted to, but he just hasn’t done anything to show that he wants to.
What did scouts think about him in the AFL?

Chris Kline:
Bad pitch recognition, poor zone discipline, some head movement in his
swing. He was not good in CF in terms of good jumps and routes to
balls. Not on him.

 Q:  Cornell 44 from Delmizzle, FL asks:
How much risk is there in reading Brandon Wood’™s stats without assuming
that his aggressively impatient plate discipline will catch up to him
when he steps outside the confines of a hitter’™s league?

Chris Kline:
That was a big concern with scouts, particularly veteran guys. Some
worry whenever that much power potential comes so early. If you can
pick out one thing about Wood, it’s the strikeout numbers. I’m not
totally sold on him because of the reason you mentioned, and it will be
intriguing to see how he hits in the Texas League next season.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
for the chat! Where did Corey Hart and Alcides Escobar fit onto the AFL
top prospect scene? Also, where do you think Prince Fielder would have
landed on the list had he played the entire season?

Chris Kline: Hart was 20-30, Escobar was in the next tier.
If Fielder played, he would have been a top 10 guy.

 Q:  Rick from Kansas City asks:
Gordon has never played in a standard minor league and only had 50 AB’s
with lukewarm results in Arizona. Is he really THAT good to let scouts
still jump him ahead of stud prospects like Kendrick, Millings etc.??

Chris Kline:
Wow. Yes. Big time power, solid defender at third.
Early on, he wasn’t–just all pull power, and he’s still got some
weaknesses at the plate. But he’s the total package. He’s THAT good.

 Q:  Rocco from Da’ Village, NY asks:
How great was it to see the Hawaiian Punch-out resurrect his career? Where do you see him fitting in at the major league level?

Chris Kline: Also being from Hawaii, it was AWESOME. Up to 93-94 consistently.
I see him as a back end of the rotation guy or a long reliever down the road . . . but he could be a solid 4 or 5.

 Q:  Brian from New York asks:
reviewing the rosters and seeing some games in Phoenix late last month,
I’m convinced that 2005 will go down as the greatest AFL season in
terms of raw talent (at least for hitting). Every one of your Top 20
AFL prospects is a legit talent, many with superstar capabilities, and
I’m betting that players 21-40 are almost as recognizable. Can you
think of any other AFL season that had this much talent?

Chris Kline: It was definitely up there. I was just going over the top 10 lists last night, and I think this could be the deepest from 1-20.

 Q:  Rob from Evanston, IL asks:
Chris Young’s stats weren’t all that great in the AFL. Is it possible that he was tiring out after a full minor league season?

Chris Kline:
A lot of these guys were tired–playing with fatigue is a huge
barometer for clubs to see how players respond. Ryan Zimmerman had the
best quote on that–(I’m totally paraphrasing): “If I want to know what
it takes to play deep into October, this is what I’ve got to do.”
It’s one of the reasons the league is valuable.
But on this list the two guys who showed outward signs of fatigue were
Young and Andy LaRoche.

you think Millege’s strong performance and the trading of Mike Cameron
will give Millege an outside chance of making the Mets next season?

Chris Kline: Not out of spring training. I think he’s a September callup in 2006.

 Q:  Ohad from Oakland asks:
Where would Andre Ethier slot in the AFL list? 20-30? What about Shane Komine?

Chris Kline: I had him at 22. Komine was right around 30.

 Q:  Steve from Dallas asks:
True or False. Billy Butler will be the Royals’ full time DH within 2 years.

Chris Kline:
Well, you just don’t walk into the big leagues as a DH. And Butler is
brutal anywhere in the field. But his bat is too valueable. I’m
interested to see if they move him to first how he is over there–what
the heck, I’ll go with true.
If anyone can break tradition, it’s Butler’s bat.

 Q:  Mike from SoCal asks:
Do you think Ian Stewart could see Coors Field by August?

Chris Kline:
Wrist injuries scare me, and Stewart’s was a tweak of an injury that
occurred earlier this year, which makes me even more cautious when
looking at how soon he’ll be up there. If he’s healthy, he’s a
September callup, but there are questions. Be cautiously optimistic.

which prospect has gained the most and which one has lost teh most based on AFL performances?

Chris Kline:
Performances really don’t matter that much in the AFL. They’re
important, but clubs base it more around how the player did in making
adjustments on a part of his game he was working on, or how he handled
himself maturity-wise. Performance is secondary in this league.
Development and instruction are the biggest things.

 Q:  Bob from Donegal, Ireland asks:
love for James Loney? I would have thought that coming off of an
unimpressive stint in AA this year and rising from the ashes of the
taxi squad in the AFL to smack that tater around like he did would get
in into the Top 20. Unless Colletti trades him for a bag of balls and
sunflower seeds, I would have thought that his sweet glove and low
salary would give him more than a puncher’s chance of making an impact
this upcoming season? A better OPPORTUNITY than others on this list to
make an impact in 2006…. where is my logic flawed?

Chris Kline:
I like Loney, and I think I’m in the minority in the BA office on this
stance. I still believe he’ll be a quality player in the big leagues,
and I’m going to really go out on a limb and say that I think he’s
going to hit for power.
Scouts don’t like the fact that everything he does in his swing is too
easy–there is no whip–like he isn’t even trying. But everything’s
smooth and very fluid. I think a high average and 20 homers annually
are what you can expect from Loney . . . but not next year.

 Q:  Lance from Springfield, pick a state asks:
I know Craig Hanson wasn’t in the AFL, but you mentioned Huston Street in your wrap up. Compare, and who would you rather have?

Chris Kline: Street. Bigger games, better makeup.

 Q:  Heath from Fort Meade, FL asks:
What kind of offensive production could be in the future for raw athletes Adam Jones and Matt Kemp?

Chris Kline:
Just have to share . . . I couldn’t get Internet access at my hosue
today, so I had to go to a freakin’ Panera to do this chat . . . The
guy on the mic is KILLING me . . . “Matt? . . . Matt? . . . Matt . . .
Your sandwich is ready. Kathy? Kathy? Kathy . . . your sandwich is
ready.” Brutal . . . I think you’ll see big power numbers from Kemp,
while Jones should hit for some power, but for a higher average with
some steals. Kemp is a middle-fo-the-order run producer, Jones is a
top-of-the-order threat with gap power–perfect for Seattle.

 Q:  Ryan Hunt from Winter Haven, Florida asks:
Do you think the Dodgers will give LaRoche a legitimate chance to win the third base job in Spring Training?

Chris Kline:
Looks that way–they’re still teetering on sending him to the
Dominican, though. And he was tired in the fall–I just think if they
want him to compete for the 3B job in 2006, they need to shut him down

 Q:  ZACH from DC asks:

Chris Kline:
Well, that’s the big question. And I think he can. I don’t think you’ll
see it early in his career, but as he gets more and more experience,
he’ll figure things out. There’s plenty of power in his bat, I just
think it’s going to take a little time to see the results. But he makes
super-quick adjustments–the big leagues in two months? Are you
And even if he doesn’t hit for crazy power, he’s one of the best
defenders in the game.

 Q:  Dave from Pittsburgh asks:
Brad Eldred even a prospect? I see a 25 year old with little plate
discipline, a slow bat(likely to get slower over the years), and a bad
glove. Why is seemingly every fan in Pittsburgh so excited about his

Chris Kline:
Because he’s huge, has huge raw power and is a blue collar player who
plays hard everyday–perfect fit for Pittsburgh.
His plate discipline isn’t that bad, it’s the pitch recognition that is
a little suspect. That’s why he’s in Mexico right now–hoping to hone
that, just like Dan Johnson (A’s) and Jonny Gomes (D-Rays) did in 2004.

 Q:  Pete from NYC asks:
am certainly one who does not subscribe to the anti-Yankee bias myth,
but no Eric Duncan on this list? I thought he was overpromoted last
season but had an excellent campaign in the AFL.

Chris Kline:
Pete, No doubt Duncan had a huge year (rumor is he’s going to be named
the MVP of the AFL at the winter meetings), he’s young and he’s a legit
But it’s a legit bat with a lot of holes–the same ones that were there
in Double-A this year when he hit .235 with power. Scouts I talked to
weren’t on him because they didn’t see him make any adjustments–he
took advantage of poor pitching and hitter-friendly parks like a lot of
guys. I just think right now, as he goes back to Trenton, he does the
same things because he has the same weaknesses. And he was brutal
defensively at first . . . but that wasn’t the reason he didn’t make
the list–he’s the same .235 hitter that just had his value seriously
inflated if you go solely on the numbers.

 Q:  Austin Johnston from San Antonio, TX asks:
is Butler so far down on the list? He had bit of a “down” fall league,
sure, but come on, the guy can rake. I’m a Royals fan so I really like
Gordon at number 2, but why so down on Butler? Is it because of his
fall performance or some other reason?

Chris Kline: Lack of position and some makeup issues . . . a lot of scouts had questions about the maturity.

 Q:  Zach from MN asks:
close was Glen Perkins to making this list. I believe he led the league
in K’s and posted a very nice 2.57 era in a hitter friendly league?

Chris Kline: He came off at the last second. Perkins showed solid stuff out there. He’s a legit No. 3 or 4.

 Q:  Mitch from St. Paul asks:
Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting today that Jason Kubel will not
be anywhere near ready to go by Spring Training. Have heard anything
about his progress?

Chris Kline: Have nnot, Mitch–but thanks for the heads up . . . I’ll be delving into this soon.

 Q:  Stu from Edina asks:
How close was Denard Span from making the list. He’s never discussed as a top prospect, but seemed to hold his own in the AFL…

Chris Kline:
He was on my original list. He finally seems like he’s figuring some
things out, including really believing that he made the right decision
to play baseball. He’s a lot more confident in his abilities now. He
needs to work on some things with his swing–he’ll never hit for power,
but he holds his hands apart right now to compensate for a weak top
hand. Never discussed as a prospect? We’re all over Denard, dude.

 Q:  rob yontz from st louis mo asks:
much did Kevin Howard increase his stock in the AFL? Down the road, he
looks to be a cross between Adam Kennedy and Chase Utley.

Chris Kline: Rob–
A lot, just from a versatility standpoint. i don’t think he’s an everyday player though. He’s more a utility guy for me.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
Scott Mathieson ahead of LaRoche and Butler? Is he that good?

Chris Kline:
He was the biggest buzz among scouts in the league. It’s a bold move,
but I like taking chances . . . makes doing this more fun.
LaRoche and Butler are huge talents, and Mathieson has a chance to be
something really special. I’ll take that gamble on 96, power slider and
a good feel for a changeup at his age.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Was Tripper Johnson in your top 46?

Chris Kline:
Gotta go to the lightning round–would stick around all day, but I have
to hit the road for early Thanksgiving with my family in the Northeast
. . .
Mike . . . in a word, no. i like Tripper a little bit, but he was
overshadowed in this league.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
so high on Chris Young? His tools certainly haven’t led to the type of
production I would expect out of someone ranked higher than Markakis,
Butler, and Barton.

Chris Kline:
The athleticism and the power. Better all-around player that Butler and
Barton, better defender with a higher value (power-wise) than Markakis.

 Q:  Mark M from Pittsburgh asks:
Why isnt Neil Walker or Adam Boeve on the list?

Chris Kline:
Walker’s transfer and release were sketchy at times, and his throws
were often erratic as a result. He took ground balls at third base
later in the fall, which would decrease his overall value.
Boeve has always been a little too oldfor whatever level he’s been in.
I like him a little, but he needs to play with guys that are closer to
being peers.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
does Jered Weaver start the year next year? Was his ERA due to the
league context or flukey, given his peripherals? Still a future #2?
Also, I see you have him ranked lower than Adam Loewen, is that because
of their respective ceilings?

Chris Kline:
I think he starts in Triple-A. ERA was due to elevating his fastball
and throwing flat sliders that got hit hard. Future No. 2? No, like a
No. 4.
Loewen has a chance to be better–younger, power lefty.

 Q:  Tom James from NY asks:
did scouts have to say about Eric Duncan’s bat, and are those
adjustment Duncan talked about making at the plate, in the interview
you guys did with him, the reason he had a great AFL? and will it
transfer over to 2006?

Chris Kline:
See, it’s difficult to evaluate hitters in this league simply because
of the quality of pitching, the Ques-tec system that virtually takes
away balls on the corners, and the hitter-friendly parks in AZ. Duncan
no doubt took advantage of hitting a lot of fastballs–which is to his
credit. How much did he really develop, though? Scouts saw the same
flaws in him that they saw in Double-A. I left him off this list for
that reason–this is a developmental league and while he might have
made some strides–especially from a confidence standpoint–he wasn’t a
top 20 guy for me.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Who makes you wince more in the field, Billy Butler or Daric Barton?

Chris Kline: Defensively? Fly balls hit to Butler–ones he has to get on his horse a little bit to get after. Those are interesting.
On the bases? Both.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Assuming Angel Guzman can stay healthy for a whole year, do you expect
him to be with the Cubs soon? And how did Eric Patterson look in the
AFL? I’m a little worried that he gets infatuated with the home runs
and pulling too many balls like his brother.

Chris Kline:
I think Guzman rekindled some of his buzz, but he’s still a guy I
wouldn’t count on contributing any time soon. His velocity was back,
command was sketchy at times . . . confidence with his secondary stuff
is going to be huge for him.
Eric Patterson could be Brandon Phillips.

 Q:  Mike from DC asks:
Your best guess as to how Adam Loewen adjusts to AA next year…?

Chris Kline: 12-8, 3.67, 141 IP, 160 K, 68 BB

 Q:  Dave Regan from Ventura, CA asks:
– Thanks for the chat. Why don’t you just call this the “Who Has the
Bigger Name and was Drafted Higher” Top 20? That’s the only explanation
for slighting Matt Kemp by placing him below a guy who hit .252 and
doesn’t play defense (Billy Butler). Why no love for Kemp?

Chris Kline: No love for Kemp would have been leaving him off this list.

 Q:  Brian from Walnut Crek,ca asks:
Is Howie Kendrick Major League ready now if the Angels decide to trade Adam Kennedy ?

Chris Kline: The bat is. The glove needs more innings at a higher level.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
you think the Indians will give Ryan Garko a chance to be their
full-time first baseman or is he more likely to platoon? And do you
like Duke to win the NCAA title?

Chris Kline: The Indians expect Garko to be ready by June at the latest.
he is likely to platoon.
I pick Duke, but my heart belongs to Temple.

 Q:  Dave from Rochester, NY asks:
Where’s Duncan?

Chris Kline: I think in West Orange, NJ.

 Q:  Jeremy from Castro Valley asks:
Is Salt the best catcher in the minors? Where do you rank him with mathis, martin, and walker?

Chris Kline: Personally for me it’s Martin, Salty, Mathis, Walker.

 Q:  Mike from Plymouth, MI asks:
How did scouts view the Tigers’ Humberto Sanchez? Where did he end up falling your list? Thanks Chris, keep up the great work!

Chris Kline: Liked him–big velocity, decent secondary stuff. It’s just the body that causes some worry . . .

 Q:  Daren from Atlanta, GA asks:
happened to Brad Snyder? He had a better AFL season and with his
ability to play 3 outfield positions and power potential, its hard for
me to see Adam Jones being ranked higher.

Chris Kline:
It’s a valid point. To me, No. 20 always goes to an interesting
guy–someone to kind of keep an eye on down the road. Jones was a
perfect 20 for me–very athletic with a new position he’s getting used
to–and has a hose in CF.
Snyder was probably the best I’ve seen him–and I’ve seen him the last
two years, so I’m very familiar with his body of work. I don’t mean to
dis Snyder in anyway, I’m very high on him–he’s the top position
player in that org–but this league was too deep and Jones has the
higher ceiling as a middle-of-the-diamond talent.

 Q:  Larry Manetti from Anaheim, CA asks:
I don’t understand all the questions about Kendry Morales. He’s raked everywhere he’s played, then hits almost .400 in the AFL. Yeah, the D might not be there, but how can anyone question his bat?

Chris Kline: If you saw his stance, you’d have some questions. He has a lot of movement to his swing–head, hands, feet all in motion. Yeah, he rakes, but there are questions about him carrying that into the higher levels. He’s a seasoned guy who raked at high A and some in AA. Let’s see what he does against some quality pitches. I just think he’s overvalued. Bad body, not athletic, makeup questions.

 Q:  Matt from Wolfpack Land asks:
Are there any future superstars among these 20 players?

Chris Kline:
Last question . . . Of all these guys, I think Zimmerman, Gordon and
Kendrick have the biggest potential to be all-star caliber players.
Thanks for all the questions. And if we don’t talk, have a great
Top 30s roll on beginning Monday . . . get ready.
Sorry I have no cool rap quotes to end with . . . Meyers is just so
much cooler than me . . . OUT.