Minor League Chat With Matt Meyers

Q:  Brian from Texas asks:
What’s up with Cliff Pennington? .108 average with 1 XBH. So much for fast tracking him.

Matt Meyers:
Greetings all, and thanks for joining me here for the chat. Already got
a load of questions waiting for me and some XM on the headphones, so
let’s get it on.

Matt Meyers: There is no way to sugar
coat the fact that Pennington is off to a horrendous start, but it is
just 47 at-bats. If he had a stretch of 47 awful at-bats in the middle
of June, no one would be paying that much attention, it would simply be
considered a slump. If he is still hitting .108 on Memorial Day, then
there will be some cause for concern.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
was kind of optimistic after Tony Giarratano’s performance in the WBC,
and the praise Jeff Brantley gave him, but he seems to really be
struggling in AA. He is striking out a ton, especially for a singles
hitter. Do you see any hope for him?

Matt Meyers:
I was covering the Orlando pool in the WBC, and I too was very excited
by the play of Tony Giarratano. But what I think what we saw from him
was the opposite of the Cliff Pennington effect. He looked great with
the bat, but it was only a handful of at-bats. His minor league track
record indicates that his ticket to the big leagues will be his glove
and he looks more likely to be a utility guy. He hit well in the lower
minors, but was ordinary in the EL last year and is looking ordinary
there once again. It is still to early to write him off though, the
season is young and he could adjust.

 Q:  S. Conte from San Francisco asks:
Sanchez is off to a pretty good start. Has your opinion of him as a
prospect increased, does he project as a number 1 or 2 starter, and
when do you think we could see him in the bigs?

Matt Meyers:
Stan Conte, the Giants trainer? What an honor to be getting a question
from you.
Sanchez is one of the better stories of the young season. He skipped
high Class A, but has not skipped a beat. 23 Ks in 16 innings is very
impressive and it is hard not to get excited about a lefthander with an
electric fastball. He is certainly turning some heads thus far this
year and is definitely increasing his stock. As we sometimes like to
say around here, he’s got some helium.

 Q:  Eric Cuomo from ct asks:
you agree Milledge is now ready for the majors? With floyd needing more
oscal as the day goes by and diaz not all that great of a hitter, i
think milledge would be perfect in the mets lineup right now. not to
mention his great OBP

Matt Meyers:
Settle down Mets fans! Milledge is off to a fantastic start, and his
improvement in plate discipline to this point is very impressive. If
that is for real, he might turn out to be better than I initially
thought, which is very, very good.

Matt Meyers: At the
same time, there is no need to rush. The Mets are 11-4, and even though
Floyd and Beltran are dinged up, the team is in great shape. The Mets
rushed Jose Reyes in 2003 because the team needed an injection of life.
As a result, I think they retarded his growth and I worry that he will
not reach his potential because he did not get the chance to work on
his pitch recognition and plate discipline in a low pressure
environment. Let the improvements Milledge is making sink in, and give
him some time at Norfolk. He is not going to hit .400 all season, so he
needs to go through a slump and work through that. Yes, he could hold
his own in the big leagues now, but better off letting him take his
time in hopes of him reaching his full potential.

 Q:  Brad from Detroit asks:
Who do you like better long-term Chris Shelton or Jeff Larish?

Matt Meyers:
I am not yet buying into the “Chris Shelton: living legend” phenomenon,
but he is a good big league hitter that doesn’t really fit at any
position well. If all goes well for Jeff Larish, he will become the
lefthanded hitting version of Shelton. Since Shelton is already
Shelton, I will take Big Red (as I heard the Tigers TV guys calling him
the other day).

 Q:  Jim from Washington, DC asks:
is the overunder on how long until Alex Gordon arrives in Kansas City?
Are any other Royals prospects standing out so far…we need some hope

Matt Meyers:
It is hard to tell, because it depends when the Royals want to have his
big league service clock running. Could be late this season, could be
the start of 2007. Besides him, they have Billy Butler, a personal fave
(I took him in the dream draft), who is one of the best pure hitters in
the minors. Chris Lubanski has some upside and he is also on that
Wichita club with Butler and Gordon. Not much else to get excited
about, particularly since there is very little pitching even though
they will likely take a pitcher with the No. 1 pick this year. Jeff
Bianchi and Chris McConnell are a couple of intriguing shortstop
prospects, but neither is out of A-ball and McConnell is off to an
awful start.

 Q:  Joe L. from Houston asks:
is your take on Astros Prospect J.R. Towles? He’s hitting over .400 and
has 4 steals already. What is his future and what position will he end
up at?

Matt Meyers:
Towles has been raking this year at Lexington, which is what he did
last year at Lexington so he seems to be good enough for low Class A.
Since catchers who can hit are so rare, you’d have to think he will get
every chance to succeed behind the dish and he is already considered
the best defensive catcher in the org. One thing to keep an eye on with
the bat is that he has only one walk to seven strikeouts this season.
Not something to freak out about just yet, but it is worth monitoring.

 Q:  Mitchell from NYC asks:
got some Yankee questions; What is the story with the Yanks CJ Henry,
he was terrible in the 1st 2 weeks of the season and hasn’t played
since? A wasted 1st round pick? Also Phillip Hughes has been lights out
in FSL, what do you hear about him and whether he will be moved up to
2A? Finally, Alan Horne started his career in FSL, what’s your view of

Matt Meyers:
If Mets fans need to settle down on Milledge, then Yankees fans really
need to settle down about CJ Henry. A wasted first-round pick? Give the
kid a chance! He hurt his hammy and was put on the DL. It was a rough
start and you worry about how much the hamstring injury will slow his
development, but as George Costanza would say, “let’s not get crazy

Matt Meyers: Hughes has never stayed healthy for a
full season, so I would think the Yankees will bring him along slowly
in Tampa. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent the whole year there. He
has crazy potential, so no need to risk his arm.

Matt Meyers:
Horne began the season with a couple of rough starts but was solid last
night. When all is said and done, I think he will be fine in the FSL
and Double-A will be a true test for him with his pedigree.

 Q:  Jay from Dallas asks:
How good will Brandon Phillips be for Cincy, and how stupid were the Indians to give up on him and instead keep Ramon Vazquez?

Matt Meyers:
Sometimes guys simply need a change of scenery, and there is really no
rational way to explain it. Phillips might be a case of that and if he
can sustain his performance, it would a great story. Then again, it has
only been a week or so, let’s see him do it for a season. He clearly
has talent so it is not shocking to see him play well though. Also,
this could be the first time in a long time the Reds could be accused
of fleecing someone else in a trade. Good for them.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
switch from SS to CF with Justin Upton came a lot quicker than everyone
thought. Is this the Diamondbacks saying that they don’t think he can
handle the position, or is this their complete confidence in Stephen
Drew’s defensive ability? How good do think Drew can be?

Matt Meyers:
I think it is a case of them realizing they have two great prospects
who play the same position. Since Upton has had throwing problems at
short, they decided to move him to another key defensive position where
he could be a great defender because of his great speed and arm.

Matt Meyers:
Drew looks like he can be an all-star, but he seems to carry the same
“soft” reputation as his brother J.D. But like J.D., I think he will be
a force whenever he is in the lineup.

Matt Meyers:
Sidenote, I looked up J.D. Drew on baseball reference last week, and it
told me his name David Jonathan. How does that become J.D.? Isn’t that
D.J.? Can someone explain this?

 Q:  David in Red Sox Nation from Cambridge asks:
Complete the sentence:

The most exciting starting rotation in the SAL belongs to…


Matt Meyers:
Gotta go with Greensboro. They feature four first-rounders (including
supplemental) from 2005 in Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, Ryan Tucker
and Sean West. Not to mention Chris Leroux, a 2005 7th-rounder who was
awesome on the Cape two summers ago. Between the bonues for those guys,
and the bonus for Gaby Sanchez, the Marlins have roughly $6 million
invested in their Greensboro roster, which is about 13 of their big
league payroll. Craziness.

 Q:  Casey from NY asks:
Can Nick Adenhart make the leap to elite pitching prospect status with
a strong year in the Midwest and (knock on wood) Cal Leagues?

Matt Meyers:
Yes. He is a guy I can definitely see making “the leap” this season.
High school baseball guru Alan Matthews has been singing the praises of
this kid for a long time, and I am on board! Kudos to the Angels
scouting department for taking a chance on a TJ survivor because it
looks pretty shrewd now. Imagine Adenhart had not signed, he would be
at UNC now with Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard. That would be

 Q:  Jeff Natale from Greenville asks:
I’ve already proven that Sally League pitchers can’t get me out. Why am I not in high-A Wilmington?

Matt Meyers:
Jeff, thanks for the question. It is good to see a fellow NESCAC alum
checking in. Division III players often need to prove themselves more
than others before they make believers out of the organization. When
you factor in the fact you are 5-foot-9, you are going to need to do
some extra convincing. Keep hitting, and the promotion will come. You
have reached base safely in every game thus far, so I am sure they are
taking notice.

 Q:  Pat S. from Pittsburgh asks:
the Twins consider trading minor league pitching to upgrade their
offense? They are loaded at all levels with nowhere to go.

Matt Meyers:
They have been stubborn about doing this in the past, so who knows.
Part of the reason they are able to stay good from year to year is
because they don’t trade their prospects. As a result, it means they
often end up with a flawed team that is good enough to compete for the
playoffs (and sometimes get in), but not win the World Series. If their
goal is to be competitive every year and hopefully catch lightning in a
bottle and have a great playoff run, they seem to have found the proper
recipe. If they can get into the playoffs and have Santana and
(eventually) Liriano each pitching twice in the series, they could beat
anyone. It would be like Johnson and Schilling for Arizona in 2001,
except the Twins’ guys are Latin American and both lefthanded.

 Q:  Paul from NJ asks:
You have to admit that Phillip Hughes is probably the best pitching prospect in High A.

Matt Meyers:
No, I don’t have to admit it. He is certainly in the discussion, but I
think Cole Hamels, Homer Bailey and Mike Pelfrey would have something
to say about it. Hughes is a great prospect, and he might certainly be
the best, but I don’t think it is so clear cut. In fact, when we did
our Top 100, Pelfrey was No. 36, Bailey was No. 38 and Hughes was No.
39. So clearly they are close.

 Q:  Jay from Dallas asks:
noticed that in Chuck Lofgren’s Prospect Diary on your website, he
indicated he’s a Red Sox fan even though he’s an Indians prospect. Is
that common? Or do most prospects lose their childhood allegiances once
they’re drafted?

Matt Meyers:
I think it depends on the player. Some are die-hard fans of a team
growing and it is hard to give that up. I doubt he would be trying to
lose to the Red Sox if he faced them, though I would want to see it if
he were cause that could be entertaining. I am guessing he simply roots
for Boston whenever Cleveland is not invovlved. Chuck, let me know if I
am misrepresenting you.

 Q:  Chris from Ohio asks:
Bruce is off to a pretty good start it seems..How do you see him doing
as the season goes on? Do you see him having a hard time finding a
starting job in that slugging Cininnati outfield?

Matt Meyers:
Bruce is a stud, but I think you have some time before that is an
issue. He is a couple of years away from being ready for the big
leagues, and that is if he is on the super-fast track. By then, my
guess is Griffey will be done (unless they create some kind of
hamstring replacement surgery) and Dunn will be at first base full-time.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Tell us not to worry about Young Catcher Stagnation which holds that
catching prospects tend to get overloaded with how to catch at pro
levels and let those details bog them down as hitters. Early on in
2006, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .239 and George Kottaras is
hitting .244. Please reassure all of us fantasy owners that both of
them will be up — and hitting — in the major leagues soon enough.

Matt Meyers:
Relax, it is still early in the season. Some guys just start slow. Like
I said before about Pennington, if these guys have a three week stretch
where they hit .250 in June, no one would notice. The bigger concern
with Salty is the fact that he is blocked at the big league level by
Brian McCann. Since McCann is proving he can handle the big league
load, I might look to deal Salty for a pitcher in hopes of keeping the
run of 14 division titles going.

 Q:  Scott from Clearwater, FL asks:
do you think about the start that Wade Davis has gotten off to for the
D-Rays A team? I know he got a little pre-season hype, but he has been
absolutely ridiculous. Where do you see him going from here?

Matt Meyers:
I love Wade Davis, he has got electric stuff and part of the proof that
Tampa might finally be developing some arms. He is still in low A, and
I think he will spend most of the season there. Him and Jacob McGee
have come up together and I think the organization wants to bring them
along together because they have really bonded and feed off of
eachother. A promotion to Visalia at some point this season is
certainly possible.

 Q:  Jim from New York asks:
should Met fans make of Carlos Gomez? The Mets are hyping him as having
better tools than Milledge, but he seems to struggle at the plate.
What’s the deal?

Matt Meyers:
Some people in the org say he has better raw tools than Milledge, which
means they could be better, but aren’t yet. At this moment, he is
faster and has a better arm than Milledge. In fact, his arm and speed
might both be legitimate 70 tools (on the 20-80 scale). But the most
important tool, hitting, he lags behind Lastings. The organization
certainly believes in him and this spring they felt they finally saw
him truly responding to instruction and applying it quickly. As a
result, they decided to have him skip high A. So far, he has been OK
when you consider he skipped a level. He has a ton of upside, but has a
ways to go. Guys like him often fail badly (see Escobar, Alex), but can
be spectacular (see Guerrero, Vlad).

 Q:  James from Bowie from Maryland asks:
Liz of the Orioles — future #2 starter or power closer? It sounds like
he is using his secondary pitches more so far this season.

Matt Meyers:
I did the top 20 prospect list for the New-York Penn League last
season, and every person I spoke to raved about the velocity and life
on his fastball. Based on his performance thus far, it is clear it is
one of the best pitches in the minors. To be dominating the way he is
at Frederick, I would have to believe his secondary stuff is coming
along. But like you suggested, even if it does not improve, he has the
chance to be a dominant reliever because of the fastball.

 Q:  Ted Turner from Atlanta asks:
What’s your take on Beau Jones?

Matt Meyers:
Ted, thanks for the question and for putting Saved By The Bell re-runs
back on TBS in the morning. Jones is off to a nice start and I love
lefties with power potential. He needs more consistency with his curve
and command in general, but the Braves have a pretty good track record
with developing high school pitchers, so I like his chances to succeed.

 Q:  Jim from Texas asks:
Jose Tabata is unbelieveable. How does a 17 year old hit .327 and lead the league in doubles?

Matt Meyers:
Tabata’s line of .321-.327-.434 is certainly impressive, but you have
to be a little concerned about his 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He
is only 17, so there is plenty of time to work on that, but it is
something he needs to work on. What is even crazier, is that he has not
even been the best 17-year-old player in the SAL, the Mets Fernando
Martinez is hitting .333-.407-.569 with six walks and five strikeouts
in two fewer at-bats then Tabata. Both are special talents, and it will
be interesting to see how they compare up the minor league ladder.
Particularly since they are both New York prospects.

Matt Meyers:
Let’s not forget about Braves shortstop Elvis Andrus, who is also 17
and in the SAL. He is off to a slower start, but might end up being the
best of the trio.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
chat, I really love reading your thoughts. Hunter Pence – he’s
absolutely tearing it up at AA Corpus Christi. Surely he’ll end up in
Round Rock this year. Is there any chance he’ll force his way onto the
big league club? If not, he gets a shot at starting in the OF for the
Astros next year, right?

Matt Meyers:
Pence is such an interesting guy because people talk about how nothing
he does is pretty. But who cares when you can rake? I am not sure if he
will make it to Houston this year unless he is so good they cannot keep
him down, but he is certainly emerging as the best position player
prospect in that organization.

Matt Meyers: Time for the lighting round…

 Q:  Bud from Milwaukee asks:
Coco Crisp or John Drennen?

Matt Meyers:
Similar to the Shelton v. Larish “debate,” as much as I love prospects,
I will take the guy who is already an established big leaguer (and
relatively young) over the guy who can only hope to become an
established big league. I’ll take the cereal.

 Q:  Big Red from Ohio asks:
Kevin Dixon, Ryan Edell, James Deters or Joe Ness?

Matt Meyers: Joe Ness, simply for the nickname I am pushing for him. “The Untouchable,” in honor of Elliot Ness.

 Q:  Eric Cuomo from ct asks:
More upside Tommy Mendoza or Nick Adenhart?

Matt Meyers: Adenhart

 Q:  Ben from OH asks:
Who would win a best-of-7 series between the Buffalo Bisons and the Kansas City Royals? I say Buffalo would win in 5.

Matt Meyers: Ouch. I’ll take KC.

 Q:  Brad from Detroit asks:
How does this outfield of the future sound to you…Frazier Clevlen Maybin?

Matt Meyers:
Sounds pretty good, but I think the key word there is “Maybin.” That
kid has a chance to be a superstar. As a bonus, he is related to Rashad
McCants, so hopefully he can bring some of his antics to baseball.

 Q:  Josh from Kansas City asks:
Any word on Luke Hochevar?

Matt Meyers:
From what I gather, he is not going to sign with the Dodgers so he is
preparing to go back into the 2006 draft. Because this draft is
considered so weak, it seems like a good year for him to be doing it.
That worked out well for him and his agent, the loveable Scott Boras.

 Q:  Bud from Milwaukee asks:
Jacob Ellsbury or Trevor Crowe?

Matt Meyers: I can’t go against a Beaver, so I will say Ellsbury.

 Q:  Steve M. from Fairffax, VA asks:
Any chance Corey Patterson can still live up to the billing BA once gave him?

Matt Meyers:
Probably won’t live up the hype that he once had, but still could be a
useful big leaguer. If the first three weeks of the season are any
indication, it is looking less and less likely.

 Q:  Matt from Michigan asks:
What is you opinion of Chip Cannon and if he does well this season will he have a chance with the big club?

Matt Meyers:
Chip Cannon is hilarious…wait, did you say Chip? I thought you said
Nick. My bad. Chip is a great story, and it is hard not to root for a
guy who has made it to Double-A even though he has two club feet. He
has got some pop, but thus far he has been ordinary at Double-A, just
like last year. Even if he goes no further, he will likely be the best
club-footed athlete since Tom Dempsey.

 Q:  David from Las Vegas,NV asks:
Long term, bigger impact: Juan Morillo or Ubaldo Jimenez

Matt Meyers:
Probably Jimenez because he seems to have better feel for his secondary
stuff. However, he has a big 12-to-6 curve and it is hard to know how
that will play in Colorado. It is hard for me to root against Morillo
though. When once asked if he had really been clocked at 104 mph, he
simply replied, “it was in the paper.” Remember folks, when Baseball
America reports something, it must be true.

Matt Meyers:
Alright, that is all the time I have for today. Thanks for all the
great questions, I had a blast as always. Have a great weekend.