Moderator: The Baseball America staff will answer your questions beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
Moderator: Hey guys, This is J.J. Cooper. I’ll get this started with other guys chiming in as well.
Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
When will young McDonald come to LA? (E-I-E-I-O).
Hi everyone. It’s a good day to be living in Raleigh, NC for some
baseball. Gerardo Parra’s Mobile team is in town, Wade Davis pitches in
Durham tomorrow night, but it looks like Saturday night’s reserved for
a trip to Greensboro to watch Madison Bumgarner pitch against Mike
Stanton, Matt Dominguez and the rest of the Greensboro lineup. I can’t
believe the season’s almost over.
Ben Badler: I’ve seen
McDonald pitch twice this season. Going from that and talking to
scouts, it’s his fastball command right now that needs to be refined
before he can be a successful big league pitcher. He strikes out so
many batters because his curveball and his changeup are both plus
pitches. He maintains his arm speed on his changeup and, when it’s on,
it’s an outstanding pitch. His curveball isn’t a hammer…more of a
slower pitch with big break…but it’s a good pitch when he’s throwing
well. The problem is that his fastball is average at best, usually
sitting 88-91without much movement. He’s a fly ball guy, so if he
doesn’t locate his fastball well and he leaves it up in the zone, the
ball is going to go a long, long way. He doesn’t walk a lot of guys, so
it’s not a matter of throwing more strikes, just of hitting his spots
within the strike zone. I think he’ll get that down, maybe have a bit
of an adjustment period at first, but I’m very high on him. There’s a
chance he gets a callup this year, but I think he should be given a
chance to crack the 2009 rotation in LA.
Brad from Tampa asks:
The $1 million dollar question for us Rays’ faithful is, when will Price be moving, and to where?
Impossible to say exactly when, as the Rays aren’t just spreading the
news on that, but it seems safe to say that with the Rays in the
pennant race, there’s no reason a lefty with three pitches including a
95-mph fastball wouldn’t be useful down the stretch. Ken Rosenthal made
a good point recently about how throwing Price into the Rays bullpen
would actually cut his innings this year, but that still seems to make
the most sense. It’s not like the Rays have a starter who is clearly
deserving of replacement, and it’s easier for a rookie pitcher to break
into the big leagues in the bullpen.
willy from pitt asks:
Is James McDonald the Dodgers’ top prospect?
Ben Badler: With Andy LaRoche gone now, I’d say yes.
anthony from ny asks:
sean doolittle, freddie freeman, beau mills who makes it to the majors first? who will have an immediate impact?
Given that Sean Doolittle is in Double-A, while Mills is still in High
A and Freeman is in Low A and young…I’ll take Doolittle. He’s taken
the biggest steps this season and is the closest to breaking into the
big leagues. I also think he could have the biggest impact, but you
could also argue Freddie Freeman, but because he’s a few years younger,
it’s a little unfair to make that kind of prediction for him.
Cub Fan from Chatham IL asks:
What position does Flaherty profile best since he’s started off roughly at short? Thanks for the chat.
Ben Badler: You’re welcome. At best, second or third base, because he won’t stick at shortstop in pro ball.
Joshua Betancur from Pensacola, FL asks:
scouts take on mike stanton and when might he be in the majors also
what about sean west and logan morrison, and gaby sanchez as he is
killing double A hitting.
It’s been a very good year for Marlins hitting prospects, while on the
mound Chris Volstad looked very good all year in Carolina and now is
showing it in the majors. I think the Marlins have one of the top farm
systems in baseball right now thanks to guys like Stanton and Morrison.
Scouts love Stanton, who is going to still be 18 when the season ends
but already has great size and tremendous usable power. He’s very
athletic too… the k zone discipline is a little concerning, but I
worry about that less with prospects with great power, especially
young, athletic ones like Stanton.
Ben Badler: Morrison:
Love him too. Power and feel for hitting. West: Very far away, not sure
he’ll ever recover from his injury. Sanchez: A little old for the
Southern League, always wary of guys who will make their big league
debuts at 25, but he’s a great fastball hitter. But he’s going to have
to hit a ton, so I wouldn’t go projecting stardom for him, maybe a
solid regular if everything clicks for him.
Astin from York PA asks:
guys; Wieters not on the hot sheet and while going 3-14 since Montanez
was called up, is this anything for Orioles fans to worry about? With
one of the top hitters in the Eastern League out of the lineup, is this
showing that Wieters might become a bit vulnerable now? Or am I just
overly concerned about nothing
Ben Badler: The latter. Lou Montanez does not affect Matt Wieters. Matt Wieters is fantastic.
Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
Is Michael Taylor legit or just an organizational guy given his advanced age?
Ben Badler: Taylor’s a legit prospect, but he has plenty to prove, especially with pitch recognition.
Kris from Tampa asks:
Brignac just fallen off the map as a top prospect? What is the
likelihood he fulfills his potential as a very good offensive SS?
No, not at all, he’s still one of the best shortstops in the game, but
he was hit by a pitch and will be out at least a week, possibly for the
rest of the season. He’s not ready for the majors right now (well,
before the injury), but he’s just 22 and doing some things well in
Triple-A: scouts like his defense and he’s showing some power. I think
he’ll start walking a little bit more with age and experience, as
players in the aggregate tend to do, and his average will come up. So a
moderate OBP shortstop with good power and defense is a valuable
jed from md asks:
what do you see tillman’s ceiling to be? and we should we expect to see him in baltimore? thanks, you guys do great work.
Ceiling is a No. 1 starter, but I wouldn’t expect him to be a No. 1
starter. I do think he’s one of the best pitching prospects in
baseball… there is NO justification for the Mariners including him
AND Adam Jones AND other serviceable players in that deal in the
off-season. Judging from the questions we get every week, it seems like
there’s a lot of Orioles fans who want to see Tillman called up ASAP,
but I don’t think that will (or at least should) happen. His command
still needs some work, so another year and maybe part of 2010 in the
farm working on command would do him some good.
Jarin McKay from Wake Forest, NC asks:
are the orioles top 10 prospects going to be next year based on the
performances so far this season including the draft picks?
The real question is, which nine guys slot in behind Matt Wieters? No.
4 overall pick Brian Matusz will almost certainly slot in at No. 2 once
he signs. From there, let’s take a look at last year’s Nos. 2-9.
Troy Patton (shoulder injury) and Radhames Liz (too much big league
time) are out. Chorye Spoone also has struggled with shoulder trouble,
while Pedro Beato has just struggled, putting them on the the fence.
And while Bill Rowell has really struggled at the plate (.235/.306/.356
at High A), his draft pedigree (ninth overall pick, 2006) may save him
— as it may Brandon Snyder, the club’s first pick in 2005.
Look for Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Nolan Reimold to fare well in
the rankings, and feel free to throw Double-A arms Brad Bergesen and
David Herndandez, and High A arm Brandon Erbe, into the mix. At
Triple-A, Mike Costanzo has hit for power in the toughest hitting
environment at the level (Norfolk) and power reliever Kam Mickolio has
turned heads with his size (6-foot-9), mid-90s heat and occasionally
wicked slider. And this analysis hasn’t even accounted for premium ’08
picks Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes, so suffice it to say, the Orioles
will do well in our organizational talent rankings.
SprungOnSports from Long Island asks:
you think the Dodgers gave up too much for Casey Blake given how well
Santana is doing? And even if he’s blocked by Martin at the big league
level, isn’t his offensive value high enough to warrent a position
change when he’s ready to get to the show?
Yes, way too much. I know the Dodgers have Russell Martin at catcher in
LA, so Santana “seems” expendable, but you don’t know what will happen
in a few years, and it’s hard enough to find a good catching prospect
like Santana. And given that the Dodgers replacement option at third
base was Andy LaRoche, who should have been their third baseman all
along once he was healthy (even when DeWitt was playing well), it was a
move that I didn’t understand or think was necessary.
David Perkin from Charleston, S.C. asks:
with three walks and two HBPs, isn’t six no-hit innings at a higher
level (Erbe) more impressive than seven innings of four-hit ball with
no walks at a lower level (Bumgarner)? I guess our value systems
differ, but it’s hard for me to put someone with somewhat hittable
stuff at loA ahead of someone with unhittable stuff at hiA.
You make a good point, but we also discuss consistency in the meeting.
While you can easily argue either way for Bumgarner or Erbe based on
one week’s worth of numbers, we sided with the former because he’s been
doing it all year. Erbe has had a very up and down season. He’s also
repeating the level. But that’s not to say he’s a bust. He’s still only
20 years old in High A and has a lot of potential. Erbe’s stuff may
have been unhittable for that game, but he’s been hittable at other
points during the season.
Jay from San Mateo, CA asks:
Why is Rick Porcello getting more hype than Madison Bumgarner? Isn’t Bumgarner’s control extraordinarily good for a 19 year old?
Rick Porcello is a potential four-pitch pitcher with more polish and is
holding is own in a higher level. Bumgarner does have exceptional
command, but is working to refine secondary pitches. In the low level
minors its easy to get by with a power fastball especially if its
coming from the left side. Hitters at those levels just don’t see it as
Casey from Tupelo, MS asks:
Do you think Chris Coughlan can be a good MLB second baseman or will he be a utility guy?
Outside of the Marlins organization, I’ve probably seen Coghlan more
than anyone else this season, and I do think he can become a good big
league second baseman. His pitch recognition and selectivity at the
plate is outstanding. He rarely gets fooled, rarely swings at pitches
out of the strike zone and shows the ability to hit all types of
pitches. It’s not plus power, but he can drive the ball, which means
those walks will likely hold up at the next level. He has stolen a
bunch of bases, but he’s about an average runner who gets most of those
swipes with good baserunning instincts. Defensively though he’s average
at best at second base (although he’s almost surely better than Dan
Uggla) and he’s worse at third base, though that’s probably in large
part because he only plays there sparingly. But his offensive game
should carry him.
luke from san diego asks:
Hey guys, Kellen Kulbacki and Wade Leblanc had great weeks… Why no love for the baby friars?
Both Padres were strongly considered. LeBlanc whiffed 11 this week in
throwing eight shutout innings, and he’s been very good over his past
three starts, but on the whole, LeBlanc hasn’t been consistently good
for Portland. We like to reward the prospects who play at a high level
for a sustained time.
Matt Eddy: Kulbacki, one of the
Cal League’s top performers this season, was recognized in the team
photo. His lack of playing time is the only thing that kept him out of
Alex from Hercules, CA asks:
Price seems like a superstar in the making, is he really worth all the
hype? Is he absolutely, without a doubt, the real thing?
He’s worth the hype, but there’s always doubt. Remember when he missed
the first month of the season? But I’ll take him over any other pitcher
in the minors right now.
Chris from Boston asks:
Would Lars Anderson or Micheal Bowden be the Redsox’s top prospect?
Ben Badler: Anderson
michael from chapel hill asks:
seems like Tim Alderson has really gotten the hang of the Cal league.
What do you think his path to the majors is and how close was he to
making the list?
This week there were more good candidates for Hot Sheet than there were
spaces available. How does Gaby Sanchez hit two home runs in
back-to-back games and not make it? It was just a good week, but
there’s plenty to like about Alderson, who I still like better than
Bumgarner right now, though I’ll finally get to see Bumgarner in person
tomorrow. His command is so advanced right now, which is remarkable
because guys with a plus fastball and the kind of action he has on his
curveball usually don’t have premium command. Especially coming out of
high school, and especially doing it in the Cal League in 19 in his
first pro season. He shouldn’t take too long to reach the majors, he
just needs to improve his changeup and his pitchability (not that it’s
lacking, just that all 19-year-olds need to improve their craft).
jed from md asks:
You said tillman’s ceiling is a no. 1..but said that you wouldnt expect him to be a no. 1…why is that?
Just because, and I don’t mean to sound like a wise-crack, I think
there’s a less than 50 percent chance of him being a No. 1 starter.
There are just so many things that can go wrong with any prospect (or
any player), especially pitchers, that I wouldn’t even tab David Price
or Clayton Kershaw’s expected value as No. 1 starter. When you weight
the probabilities of all of his expected outcomes, it’s nearly
impossible to expect a guy to be a No. 1 starter. So it’s not any
slight at Tillman or any other pitcher, just managing reasonable
expectations for players.
Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
J.J., enjoyed your podcast with John last week. What do you think of
promoting Travis Snider to AAA? I would’ve like to have seen him finish
at New Hampshire and then get a frest start at Syracuse next spring.
Seems like the Jays are rushing him a bit. Also, do you think David
Cooper’s performance thus far merits him having gone at sixteen in the
Thanks for the kind words about the podcast, we enjoy doing them. As
far as Snider, these days there’s little enough difference between the
caliber of competition in Double-A and Triple-A that I don’t think
there’s much worry about him being in over his head. The reality is
that he probably would face as many quality fastballs in the EL as he
will in the IL, but now he’ll get a graduate level course in facing
pitchers with savvy. I don’t think it’s a big risk to get him a little
acclimated to Triple-A before sending him there next year.
Will from From Da Bronx asks:
kind of major leaguer does Wes Hodges project to be, from what I
undertand now that Laporta has been traded to the tribe Hodges ranks as
their #2 prospect correct?
If it all works out, I think he could be a solid regular, tough to
project stardom for. I’d put Nick Weglarz ahead of Hodges, and I might
put Adam Miller up there too. I know Miller’s been a frustrating
prospect and there’s certainly some prospect fatigue setting in with
him after being No. 1 in the Indians system for so long, but I still
think that there’s plenty of ceiling left there.
Brian from Kansas City asks:
much do you consider where prospects played when ranking them on the
Top 100? For instance, Jason Heyward still has a much better line than
Moustakas, but the latter played in the pitcher-friendly Midwest
League. Does this make them about even, or is Heyward’s production
still much more impressive?
It’s certainly an important factor, although performance is always used
as an estimate of true talent at any level, and in the low minors the
scouting reports take on a tremendous level of importance. Obviously
Moustakas is playing in a difficult offensive environment, but other
factors, like Heyward playing his first full season in his home state
of Georgia while Moustakas goes from California to the midwest, are
also factors. But in the end it’s all about estimating the present
level of talent and the expected future level of talent for a player,
so it’s best to take a holistic approach of evaluation that combines
the reports we get from scouts and field staff with what what we can
glean from players’ performance records.
jr from valencia, ca asks:
over elbert as the dodgers top prospect? is elbert’s future as a lights
out reliever or do the dodgers get him some innings next year to build
up as a starter once again?
Well Elbert is coming off labrum surgery, so I’m almost never going to
put my money in that pot, even though I think he was a fantastic
prospect before his injury. They could try him as a starter, but it’s
looking like the bullpen is more in his future right now.
Richard from Ft. Lauderdale asks:
Why is Ben Revere still in the Midwest League?
Because it would be awesome to see a player hit .400 in the Midwest
League. He also did get a late start to the season, and teams do
sometimes like to leave a guy in his first full season in the same
place all year.
Kelly from St. Cloud asks:
Price, do you see TB calling up any other arms next month? I think we
need to see more of Jeff Niemann, plus Wade Davis is about due –
Niemann’s on the 40-man and has pitched well at Triple-A, so he’ll
warrant a September callup. Davis is a tougher case, as he’s made just
four Triple-A starts, putting him on pace for just seven or eight. The
Rays being conservative with their pitchers, and with the big league
staff in good shape, a callup may not be in Davis’ future this season.
Ben from Pittsburgh asks:
would the Pirates top 10 prospect list look right now. And where would
Scheppers and Pedro Alvarez fit in if they sign before 8/15?
McCutchen is still No. 1 for me, but you could Vote For Pedro and I
probably wouldn’t put up much of a fight. LaRoche is No. 3 (don’t know
how many big league at-bats he has right now to still be prospect
eligible), then probably Jose Tabata looks like he’s right behind them.
There’s some depth after that… middle infielders Brian Friday and
Shelby Ford have their virtues, Neil Walker is struggling but still
hitting for power, and they got some bulk from the Yankees as well. I’m
cautious with Scheppers, but he probably fits in there as well. They’re
getting better, and they definitely improved their club at the trading
deadline, but the farm system still has a few years to go to keep
bringing along quality homegrown talent.
Corey from New Jersey asks:
Daniel Murphy’s first few games, he looks like a real gamer. He sees
lots of pitches, and has an overall great approach at the plate. Given
that he wasn’t even on the Mets top ten to start the year, did anyone
see this coming? What is his ceiling? Could he be the Mets’ 2nd basemen
of the future?
In making his Eastern League best tools calls, John Manuel was hearing
the same things that you’ve described: Murphy is a grinder who will
wait for his pitch, and he knows what do to when he gets it. In
Wednesday’s game, for example, he took a 1-0 pitch to allow Jose Reyes
to steal second base, and then hit the next pitch to the right side of
the infield. The ball found a hole and Reyes scored, but even if it
didn’t, a 4-3 would have moved Reyes to third.
Defensively, Murphy probably fits best in left field, where he’s
currently stationed. A fringe-average defender at third, he’ll have a
lot of work in front of him to become even playable at second base.
And after the Mets traded for Santana, John revised his Mets Top 10 to
include Murphy and 17-year-old sensation Wilmer Flores. In short, don’t
be shy about feeling bullish about Dan Murphy.
iron monkey from boston, ma asks:
CF Andrew McCutchen the most overrated prospect in the minors now ? He
shows no power and really has 1 tool, which is his speed and hes
constantly on top 20 prospects lists. Is he all hype ?
Well he also has a good handle of the strike zone, plays very good
defense, he puts the ball in play and he should have moderate power.
And he’s just 21 in Triple-A and hitting .279-372-.399. So if you think
he can hit around .260-.330-.420 in the big leagues, which I think is a
reasonable expectation, then he’s already an average NL center fielder.
And if he’s an above-average defender, then he’s also an above-average
player. My estimation is that he turns into a high OBP player, so
that’s plenty of value right there.
Antonio from Whittier, CA asks:
Which outfielder do you think has more potential in the Dodgers system? Andrew Lambo or Kyle Russel?
Ben Badler: Lambo
Bill from Long Island asks:
Wieters is listed 6’5 230 and no one had doubts about his size at
catcher. Jesus Montero is 6’4 225 and nobody thinks he can stay at
catcher. Why arent there more concerns about Wieters size for catcher?
Thanks for the chat.
The size is similar, and I have talked to scouts who did think Montero
will stick behind the plate. But Wieters, in addition to being a
fantastic hitter (and the No. 1 prospect in baseball, in my opinion),
also has superlative defensive skills. Wieters has a cannon arm and
controls the running game as well as any catcher in the minors.
Montero… not so much this year. Some will have concerns about
Wieters’ size behind the plate, but his defensive skills are so good
that it doesn’t matter that much. And he’s a Boras Corp. client, so
it’s highly probable that he’ll test free agency rather than cut a
long-term deal… he should be fine behind the plate for at least the
six years that he’s under the Orioles control
Jeff from Macon asks:
this question last week to no avail. Figured I’d tr again. Elvis Andrus
is stealing bases at a pretty good clip but he’s also been thrown out
plenty. What sort of base stealer does he project at as a major
leaguer? Is it out of whack to think he can be a Jose Reyes, best case,
who never hits for a ton of power but wrecks havoc with his legs?
Well first that’s not quite fair to Jose Reyes, who if he keeps up his
current pace will have slugged around .490 in two different seasons by
age 25. Andrus has been successful on 76 percent of his attempts, which
is pretty good for a 19-year-old in Double-A. He already has the speed,
so it’s just a matter of refining his baserunning. He certainly does
have the ability to add runs with his baserunning; the way to do that
is to get on base in the first place, which I think he will do in the
Taylor from Atlanta asks:
Guys, who do you think will have a better offensive career Elvis Andrus or Carlos Triunfel?
Ben Badler: Andrus
Rufus from LA asks:
if neftali feliz dominates in the playoffs for frisco could he sneak into the top 5 prospects in baseball?
Ben Badler: No way.
Allan from Encino asks:
Even though he is struggling at Tacoma, how close(or not) is Michael Saunders from taking that next step to the bigs?
He’s in China right now playing for Team Canada in the Olympics this
month, so he’s literally a few thousand miles away from the big
leagues. I like Saunders but I think there’s going to be some growing
pains upon his initial introduction to the majors. The tools are
there… runs well, good bat speed, good size, etc. … the approach
isn’t perfect, but with his other skills and his youth, I think he’ll
Ben Badler: Gotta head to the field. Thanks as
always for choosing to spend your Friday afternoons with Baseball
America. Enjoy the weekend!