Futures Game Chat With Will Lingo

Moderator: Will Lingo will be answering questions about how
the Futures Game rosters are selected, his thoughts on the prospects in
the game and questions about the minor leagues in general in a 3 p.m.
ET chat today.

 Q:  Juan Salas from Durham asks:
How do I compare to the other bullpen guys I’m in there with?

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to another BA chat. Part of the BA
team has already departed for Pittsburgh, and the rest of us will be
descending on the city over the next couple of days. Of course, you’ll
see several days of great events in Pittsburgh, but we’re there for one
big reason: the Futures Game, which begins about 4 p.m. on Sunday. So
let’s talk about the players who made the game and a few who didn’t…

Juan, not only do you have the stuff and numbers to compare with anyone
else selected to the game, but you also have the hitter-to-pitcher
conversion story that’s also common to a couple of other players in
this year’s game. And for those of you scoring at home, Salas still has
not allowed an earned run this season in 46-plus innings.

 Q:  J.P. from Illinois asks:
Was Justin Upton considered for the Futures roster?

Will Lingo:
Absolutely, and that was one of the toughest calls we had to make when
assembling the roster. More advanced players have a little bit of an
advantage over prospects at lower levels, but you always have to
consider the absolute cream of the crop no matter where they’re
playing. With Justin, it came down to two factors: there were plenty of
other good candidates for the U.S. outfield, and there were plenty of
other good Diamondbacks candidates. With a limit of two players per
organization, we went with Carlos Gonzalez and Stephen Drew this year,
figuring we’ll get another shot at Justin next year.

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
Reds have two guys in the future game (Homer Bailey, Joey Votto) who
have had stellar years so far. I wanted to know how much has the Reds
farm system improved and do you think the Reds are on the right track?

Will Lingo:
It has been a feel-good year for the Reds to be sure, especially when
you consider how negative the vibe from that organization was even
during the early part of the offseason. Still, though, we rated their
farm system as one of the very worst over the winter, so they’ll need a
lot more help to even move into the middle of the pack. But yes, I do
think they’re at least moving in the right direction now.

 Q:  Fred from Madison asks:
the Pirates graduated a number of their players to the majors
(Gorzelanyy, Maholm, Bautisita, McLouth, Capps), but the Pirates have
to be dropping in the rankings for minor league systems. How bad is the

Will Lingo:
And from our NL Central feel-good story, we move to our NL Central
feel-bad story. I think a lot of people thought this would be a season
when the Pirates might do what the Reds are doing–not necessarily
making the playoffs but hovering around .500 and making things
interesting. Nope. Don’t look now, but the Pirates have the worst
record in baseball–yes, even worse than the Royals. It’s hard to say
where their system will rank when we break everything down, but the
main problem will not be graduation. As it has been for several years,
their main problem is a lack of high-ceiling talent. The players you
mention, for example, could all be nice players, but do you see any of
them as stars? The Pirates need some great players, particularly on
their pitching staff, and it’s hard to see many on the horizon.

 Q:  Fabian from Bronx asks:
Who are the top 10 prospects playing in this game, in order?

Will Lingo:
This will be rough–and sorry I can’t sort these guys exactly–but 10
good ones are Philip Hughes, Homer Bailey, Alex Gordon, Howie Kendrick,
Troy Tulowitzki, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Gonzalez, Joel Guzman, Yovani
Gallardo, and how about Radhames Liz. The great thing about the Futures
Game, though, is that there are another 10 guys in the game who could
legitimately be on the list instead.

Will Lingo: Also, I
inadvertently deleted a question asking whether Alex Gordon and Billy
Butler at Wichita were the best offensive tandem in the minors.
Interesting question, because I’m not sure Wichita even has the best
lineup in the Texas League. Check out Tulsa, which has Futures Gamers
Koshansky and Tulowitzki in its lineup, not to mention Ian Stewart, and
some other interesting guys like Jordan Czarniecki and Matt Macri. And
that’s after Chris Iannetta got promoted to Triple-A.

 Q:  Fabian from Bronx, NY asks:
there any historical comparison of a 17-year-old excelling in full
season ball like Jose Tabata has? How much has he raised his stock and
what type of player does he project to be?

Will Lingo:
This is an example of how Yankees prospects get so overhyped. We can’t
just say that Jose Tabata is having a nice season, we have to see if
there’s ever been a season like this in all of recorded history. Just
off the top of my head, Andruw Jones was about five months older than
Tabata when he played his Sally League season (1995; he was 18 all
season, while Tabata turns 18 in August), and he hit .277.372.512 with
25 home runs, 100 RBIs and 56 stolen bases. Now that was historic.

 Q:  Mike Pelfrey from On a bus asks:
Why am I not pitching in the futures game? Am I not the best pitching prospect in baseball?

Will Lingo:
Mike, it was certainly no reflection on your ability. I think the
concern was that you would be in the big leagues, and it looks like
that’s going to happen this weekend with Pedro going on the DL. So we
made the right call. I don’t know if I’d vote you the best pitching
prospect in the game, but you would be in the discussion.

 Q:  Fred from Madison asks:
Homer Bailey has more upside than Chris Iannetta, but who will make it
to the majors first? The both are climbing quickly. Will they both
there in 07?

Will Lingo:
Let’s not jump the gun on Bailey and give him some more time in the
minors, even though this clearly is the season we’ve been expecting out
of him since he was drafted. With as fast as pitchers move, particulary
this season, it’s hard to put a timetable on anyone, but I would hope
Homer doesn’t come up until the middle of next season at least. At his
current pace his should exceed his previous career innings total from a
season and a half (116), so it would be nice if the Reds didn’t put too
much stress on him. Given their pitching track record, I think caution
would be warranted. As for Iannetta, I think you could see him in
Colorado for September callups, if nothing else. He doesn’t have
Bailey’s ceiling, but he should be a nice player.

 Q:  steve from aberdeen, nj asks:
can a player be in the game more than once. who were considered from the dodgers

Will Lingo:
Yes, players can be considered more multiple appearances in the game,
and I know Joel Guzman has been to the game before, for example. But we
try to spread the glory around whenever possible. And that’s another
reason we don’t pick many guys from the lowest levels of the minors; we
figure we’ll get the opportunity to pick them again later. Other
Dodgers candidates included Chad Billingsley (called up too quick) and
Andy LaRoche (had been in the game before and got squeezed out by stout
group of US third basemen). The other thing is that we could only take
two Dodgers, and their candidates fit in better on the World team.

 Q:  Greg from Pittsburgh asks:
close was Jay Bruce from making the roster instead of Joey Votto for
the Reds? Just based on the levels they play at? If a pitcher (Josh
Sharpless) wasn’t needed to replace a pitchers for my Pirates, who
would have been the choice?

Will Lingo:
Here’s a good example of how the Futures Game puzzle works. With the
Reds, Homer Bailey is a given. When you look at the rest of their
candidates, Votto makes perfect sense because he’s a World first
baseman who’s having a strong year, and that position is traditionally
hard to fill on the World team. So right there you’ve filled your Reds
quota before you even really get to discuss Jay Bruce. He was on the
list of candidates, to be sure.

Will Lingo: Sharpless
made perfect sense to replace Gorzelanny on the US roster (though I was
heartbroken not to see Gorzelanny on the team) because he’s a local
product. He was really the only other candidate because Neil Walker and
Gorzelanny were the other US choices and you just get three US and
three World candidates per organization. It’s impossible to guess at
all the hypotheticals. We just thank our lucky stars when it works out

 Q:  Jon R from Silverdale Wa asks:
was just wondering how you think the World outfield will lineup for
Sunday’s Futures Game. The best trio would be to Gonzalez, Tabata ,
Balentien , which of these players play center. Also who do you think
will start the game for the US and World Team’s respectively?

Will Lingo:
That’s a great question. We definitely have starting lineups in mind
when we pick the roster, but to be honest we really have nothing to do
with what the lineups turn out to be. We hand the roster to the
coaching staff and hope they see things the same way we do. You also
have to factor in whether players have nagging injuries or, for
pitchers, what schedule they’re on. (As a side note for the respect the
Futures Game has earned, once pitchers have been picked for the game,
organizations usually plan out their schedules so the guys will be able
to pitch. In the first couple of years, that wasn’t the case. You
always had several guys who would have just pitched and were not

Will Lingo: Getting to your actual question, I
think Gonzalez is the only definite for the starting lineup. It’s an
incredibly young group for the World this year. I would also pick
Tabata and Balentien, with Tabata in center. Then Kottaras catching,
Votto at first, Chen at second and Hu at short, Guzman at third, and
one of the Garcias starting.

Will Lingo: For the US, let’s
go with Walker behind the plate (a given), Koshansky at first, Kendrick
at second, Tulowitzki at short, Alex Gordon at third, and Buck, Maybin
and Pence in the outfield. I would have started Gorzelanny, but now
I’ll take Bailey. We’ll see how my picks pan out on Sunday.

 Q:  Sean from San Jose, Costa Rica asks:
If every one of the pitchers in the futures game lived up to their max potential, who goes down as the best?

Will Lingo:
If the sky’s the limit, you might go with Liz. But he’s also one of the
riskiest. Hughes or Bailey also offer big UPSIDE POTENTIAL.

Will Lingo:
Now that I’ve drawn the ire of Yankees fans with my earlier answer
regarding Jose Tabata, it’s time to move on to the lightning round…

 Q:  Henry Thompson from T-TOWN CA asks:
Who were some players that barely missed making the Futures game squad?

Will Lingo:
Thomas Diamond is one. And then you have guys like Elijah Dukes and
Marcus Sanders, who knocked themselves out of consideration either
because of injury or self-inflicted problems.

 Q:  David P from Boston, MA asks:
highly drated pitching prospect will have the best career when
considering ceiling, stuff, and the organization that they are a part
of: Andrew Miller, Luke Hochevar or Brad Lincoln?

Will Lingo: Gotta go with Miller. Still recovering from bitter CWS disappointment.

 Q:  george from paterson asks:
Will,you’re just a yankee hater.all the prospects aroung baseball get
more respect than the yankee ones.the yankees for you guys,never have
any prospects nor they’re never any good as a team at the big league

Will Lingo:
And so it begins…
I don’t hate the Yankees. I do find it amusing that the fans of the
most prosperous organization in baseball, and possibly in all of pro
sports, lament the lack of respect their team gets.

 Q:  Aaron from Allston, MA asks:
Do you have an informal mid-season top 50 or something along those lines? If not, care to take a stab at a top 10?

Will Lingo:
We will be updating the top of our Top 100 Prospects list for our
midseason prospect report, coming up in the next issue of BA. Also,
midseason all-star teams for every classification!

 Q:  Billy Butler from Wichita asks:
it true that I can’t field a lick, or is there hope that I may become a
passable outfielder some day. I’m too young to be a DH.

Will Lingo: That may be strong, but defense is a major issue. With hard work, you could be a passable outfielder.

 Q:  Shoshana from Baltimore asks:
thoughts on the O’s players heading to the futures game? Also any
particular reason that Loewn and Penn aren’t on the rosters, if they
were even considered?

Will Lingo:
I like both Liz and Reimold, though there’s interesting divergence of
opinion on each. I think both Loewen and Penn were in the big leagues
when we started building the list of candidates, so they weren’t
eligible at the time.

 Q:  Joe from St. Louis asks:
off the subject, but don’t you think it was a little ironic that josh hamilton got his first hit off of a guy named Stoner?

Will Lingo: No comment.

 Q:  Max from cincinnati asks:
Who will be a better player, Jay Bruce or Cameron Maybin?

Will Lingo: I’ll take Maybin.

 Q:  Fabian from Bronx, NY asks:
apologize if I somehow offended you, but I don’t feel your remark was
necessary. I was simply trying to find a performance comp for what
Tabata is doing and since I had, to this point, not found one, I felt
like asking the people who I thought would know best.

Will Lingo:
Sorry, Fabian, you didn’t offend me at all. And I intended my answer to
provide information, not to sound mean. Tabata looks like a great
prospect, but I just think we should temper our enthusiasm a little

 Q:  Cris from Oklahoma City asks:
Why do you guys hate the Yankees so much?

Will Lingo: We picked your two best prospects for the Futures Game and call them two of the best prospects in the minors.

 Q:  John from St. Louis asks:
Who would you take for your minor league system: Colby Rasmus or Nolan Reimold?

Will Lingo: Rasmus.

 Q:  Fred from Madison asks:
work so far Will. Wish I could be in Pittsburgh with the BA crew. It
seems like more and more prospects are making an impact than past
years. What top prospects will make the majors before the end of the

Will Lingo:
I particularly remember the 2000 Futures Game in Atlanta, for some
reason, when Mark Buehrle and Barry Zito were mere prospects and were
performing in the big leagues just a few weeks later, in the midst of
pennant races. This year I think Stephen Drew and Josh Fields are two
good candidates, and I’m surprised Kendrick actually is going to make
it to the game, but I’m glad he is.

 Q:  Pete from NJ asks:
Homer Bailey or Phillip Hughes?

Moderator: Bailey.

 Q:  Mark from Boston asks:
Tulowitzki or Stephen Drew?

Will Lingo: Tulowitzki. We should have an entire chat that’s just quick answers to eitheror questions. I’ll work on that.

Will Lingo:
Well, thanks for joining us. Time to get packed for Pittsburgh. You’ll
see Futures Game coverage throughout the weekend, with our plausibly
live coverage kicking off Sunday afternoon. So while you’re watching
Italy kick France’s rear ends in the World Cup final, you can come to
BA.com to get ready for the game. We’ll have a blog and then plenty of
postgame coverage. And remember, the game starts at 4 and will be on
ESPN2 and XM Radio.