Moderator: Baseball America’s Matt Eddy was here to talk minors, fantasy, George Springer and anything you might throw at him.
Mick (Chicago): Are there any position prospects from Europe, S. Africa, Australia, or New Zealand, beside Kepler worth following in the minors?
Matt Eddy: The others in the 2014 Prospect Handbook are Twins lefty Lewis Thorpe (Australia, 2012), Royals shortstop Marten Gasparini (Italy, 2013), Mariners righty Dylan Unsworth (South Africa, 2009), Pirates shortstop Gift Ngoepe (S Africa, 2008), Red Sox lefty Daniel McGrath (Australia, 2012) and Reds left fielder Donald Lutz (Germany, 2007).
Justin (Arizona): Javier Baez's K/BB ratio concerns me and I think he could be the bust out of the new "Core 4". Bryant, Almora and Soler (who has the best ratio) seem less likely to fail in the majors. Do you or scouts think the same?
Matt Eddy: Yes, I think it’s an issue. Like a young Alfonso Soriano, Baez will chase out of the zone, but he doesn’t have to square up the ball to drive it with power. This in turn leads to aggressive approach and expanded hitting zone. Ultimately, this probably will have an effect on Baez’s AVG and on-base pct, but probably not his isolated slugging or HR output.
mike (wyckoff,nj): Hi..with the increasing trend of clubs locking up players early and buying out arbitration/free agency years, do you think clubs will worry less about Super 2 status and just promote folks when they are ready? thanks
Matt Eddy: I hadn’t really thought of this before, but that’s an interesting viewpoint. Maybe we should look at earlier-than-expected callups as a leading indicator for a contract extension. The Braves were able to have their cake and eat it too with all their young stars except for Jason Heyward. All the others singed lucrative long-terms deals. However, since most of the top prospects--the prime extension candidates--aren’t yet on the 40-man at the time of their promotions, the topic of a long-term extension probably hasn’t come up while they’re in the minors. (The Astros and George Springer last offseason excepted.)
Jim (Oakland): When will Jesus Aguilar get a chance to come up to majors?? He seems ready
Matt Eddy: Unless they absolutely murder the ball for an extended stretch, bat-only players, particularly first basemen, often need the stars to align to get a shot in the majors. Aguilar is on the 40-man, so he does have that going for him. Working against him, though, the Indians are full up on 1B/DH bats such as Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana and Ryan Raburn. Also, keep in mind that Triple-A Columbus is the hitter-friendliest park in the International League by a good margin (think of Matt LaPorta’s big years there), and Augilar has six XBH (including all 3 HR) at home, compared with 1 XBH (a double) on the road so far.
MIKE (PHOENIX): what grade would you give archie bradley's current command? how much more seasoning does he need in AAA?
Matt Eddy: At the end of 2013, a scout would be generous to throw a present 45 on Bradley’s command. Given the quality of his stuff, though, he won’t need to be fine in the strike zone to succeed. He might need to improve to 50 to dominate like a front-line starter, but I’d expect to see Bradley up sooner than later--though pitcher callups are trickier to peg because of the complicating factor of projected workload. The D-backs have to manage Bradley in a manner that he won’t egregiously exceed his projection--probably about 180 innings based on throwing 150 last year.
John (CT): Do you think Springer will end this first ML season with more homeruns or steals?
Matt Eddy: Fun question. I will guess steals, but by a small margin. Too many road games in Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.
Taijuan Walker (A Dr's office): Do you think it was a bad idea to throw in the offseason? Why don't teams force pitchers to rest their arms? Dr. Andrew's thinks it's a good idea, but what would he know!
Matt Eddy: This is interesting. In researching a forthcoming story, BA’s J.J. Cooper has heard from other medical experts that extended rest periods help restore the elbow ligaments to their “default” strength, and that not affording ligaments that rest can result in tears that require surgery to repair.
John (CT): Lefty pitchers historically take time to "get it". Think we're finally seeing the Zach Brittan we were expecting beginning to emerge? He's been very impressive in one or two inning stints.
Matt Eddy: I know the “lefties take longer” axiom has been around the game forever, and I believe someone--maybe Rob Neyer?--tested the theory about a decade back and found that it held water. But that was then. I would argue that lefties of all ages are more successful today than they’ve ever been. Can you think of a better group of stud young lefties in history than we have today in Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester, et al. It makes sense. LH pitchers don’t face any greater disadvantage when pitted against RH batters than RH pitchers do when faced with LH batters, and LH pitchers dominate same-side batters like no other platoon split. Part of the reason for that is clubs limiting lefties’ exposure to RH batters, and part of the reason is teams not having enough RH-hitting counters on their short benches. I love this topic, and if you missed it you can read much more in the recent free story, The Quest To Gain Platoon Advantage Takes A Left Turn. Just Google it.
Alex (NYC): Why does Rafael Montero not get put in the top category of high upside pitchers? I understand he doesnt throw 96 mph but at some point it is difficult to argue with the results. In a hitter's paradise no less.
Matt Eddy: Working against Montero are the same biases that always have existed: his velocity, his height/build and his pedigree (signed out of D.R. at age 20) are not common traits for frontline major league pitchers. But there always are exceptions and outliers.
Tyler (NJ): Tyler glasnow y has he missed the first 2weeks ?
Matt Eddy: Glasnow tweaked his back in spring training, and you can understand why the Pirates, in light of the Taillon news, are proceeding with caution.
Dave Walker (North Branford, CT): Should there be concerns over higher profile closers i.e. Kenley Jansen, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Nathan losing their roles?
Matt Eddy: Given his age and “dead arm,” Nathan is the one I would most worry about. Jansen and Rosenthal should improve their velocity and command as the season progresses. Looks like Rosenthal is down about 1 mph from last year’s fastball average, but that should improve as the weather warms (assuming he’s healthy).
Jesse (Los Angeles): How excited should Mets fans be about Brandon Nimmo's hot start? Is this breakout for real, or just SSS? What's his ceiling?
Matt Eddy: You’d rather see any prospect play well rather than poorly, but at this point it’s a small sample for Nimmo at High-A St. Lucie. We do know that his left hand is healed after soreness affected him last year and prevented him from getting on top of the ball. However, he’s hitting .515 on balls in play thus far, and that’s an impossible rate for even the best line-drive hitter to sustain.
Jesse (Los Angeles): Dilson Herrera is having a nice start to the year. How good of a player do you think he could end up being?
Matt Eddy: I don’t think it’s wildly optimistic to project him as a major league starting second baseman. He has work to do to prove he can play 2B for a first-division club, but he’s one of the better unheralded keystone prospects IMO.
Winston (Bay Area): Why is Josh Reddick in the majors?
Matt Eddy: A .293 OPS is kind of fun. It really hasn’t been pretty for Reddick since he hit .268/.348/.532 with 20 HR in the first half of 2012, has it?
Tyler (Nj): Joc pederson looks to b to talented for ppl at AAA when does he get the call?
Matt Eddy: The Dodgers have absolutely no reason to rush Joc Pederson up from Albuquerque, not with their OF depth in the majors and the fact that if they wait until mid-June to call him up, he probably won’t qualify for Super 2 arbitration status following the 2016 season.
Patrick (Fort Wayne, In): After watching Javier Baez this spring, I have a comp for you - Sammy Sosa. Baez looked like he was playing for the spotlight and his stats. His swagger and plate approach (swinger harder on strike 3 than strike 1), as well as his fielding desire for the spectacular, reminded me a great deal of Sosa. What do you think?
Matt Eddy: Thanks for all the questions. The next BA prospect chat will hit on Friday in conjunction with the weekly Prospect Hot Sheet.