PCL Top 20 Prospects Chat

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to the PCL prospects chat. An interesting year in the league and plenty of good prospects to talk about. So let’s get to it.

Al (Arlington, TX): The Rangers would be crazy NOT to send Joey Gallo back to AAA, especially since he struggled so badly there in 2015. Do you see him being able to succeed there in 2016 like he did in high-A and Double-A? Or, will his struggles there continue?
Teddy Cahill: Let’s start with the league’s No. 2 prospect Joey Gallo. He started this season in Double-A, earning a promotion to Triple-A about a month into the campaign. He also saw a fair bit of time in the big leagues. So he’s only had 53 games in Triple-A. I’d expect him to be back in Round Rock to start the year (Adrian Beltre has one more year left on his contract anyway). Gallo has hit nearly everywhere he’s gone, so I think it’s fair to expect improvement in his second exposure to Triple-A. His strikeout rate is always going to be cause for concern, but it is important to remember that he’s still only 21 and still has the same massive raw tools as ever.

Nick (Tennessee): Have scouts figured out why inconsistency has continued to plague Appel in his pro career? Does he still have top of the rotation potential?
Teddy Cahill: Mark Appel, former No. 1 overall pick, remains something of an enigma. His stuff remains tremendous, but he’s just not consistent enough with it at this point. I’ve long been one of the bigger believers in him and I still think he’ll have a solid big league career. Some power arms simply take a little more time to figure it all out, so the potential is still in there. But unless he’s able to make that last adjustment that allows him to be a bit finer with his command, I don’t think you’re looking at a top-of-the-rotation starter. The good news for the Astros is that they probably don’t need him to be.

John (DC): Where would Kevin Plawecki have landed in the top 20?
Teddy Cahill: Plawecki fell about 50 plate appearances short of qualifying. Had the Mets left him in Las Vegas long enough to get those PAs, he’d probably have fallen somewhere in the 5-8 range, though his dip in offensive production this year (had it continued in Triple-A) would have merited a bit more scrutiny.

Teddy Cahill: Sorry, have to do a couple quick interviews. Will get back to your questions soon!

Teddy Cahill: And I’m back. Check out our college recruiting package next week. We’ve been working hard on it.

Tim (Chicago): A little surprised Jon Gray ranked so high. Is there really any hope for him pitching in Colorado? It seems like having the upside of a front of the rotation starter is a little far fetched at this point.
Teddy Cahill: Before that short intermission, I talked about Mark Appel. So let’s talk now about Jon Gray, the second college pitcher taken in 2013. Both of the places he was this year (Albuquerque and Denver) are very tough parks to pitch in. His stuff was good (he still throws in the upper 90s), a lot of his peripherals were good (he struck out nearly a batter per inning). Top-of-the-rotation? Maybe not. Aces are few and far between in the big leagues. But, like Appel, he’s largely still doing what he’s been doing — and that’s a pretty good package.

Richard (Chicago): Were there any catchers in the PCL this year with a chance to be big-league regulars?
Teddy Cahill: The best catchers in the league for the most part did not play enough to qualify for the list. Guys like Austin Hedges, Tom Murphy and Kevin Plawecki all fell short of the necessary plate appearances. Austin Barnes has a chance to be a regular, but I think he might fit a utility or backup profile better. Jett Bandy and Max Stassi probably fit that backup profile as well. And, if, as he recently suggested to Chip Hale, Peter O’Brien is willing to go back behind the plate, he has potential, but there have always been a lot of questions about his defense.

Eric (Dallas, TX): Does Kemp have the abilities to be as good as Altuve currently is?
Teddy Cahill: Well, that’s an awfully high bar. Jose Altuve is a three-time All-Star, a batting champion and has back-to-back 200-hit seasons. So there’s not shame at all if Tony Kemp falls short of that. Those comparisons are natural, because Kemp is a diminutive second baseman in the Astros system. But it seems more likely that Kemp ends up as a super-utility player, capable of playing second base and a few outfield positions. His track record is incredible, but, like Altuve, he’ll have to prove he can impact the ball enough to be an everyday player in the big leagues.

Jason (Pleasant Hill, CA): Nashville 2B Joey Wendle put up some solid stats with the bat, with a .289 average, 10 homers, and 40+ doubles. Did he come close to making the list? Also, please tell me he will take Eric Sogard's 2B job next year with the A's.
Teddy Cahill: Wendle is an interesting player, who came to the A’s from the Indians in exchange for Brandon Moss. Wendle was definitely the best position player in Nashville most of the year. His best tool has always been his hit tool, which gives him a chance. It would not surprise me if he was pushing to be the A’s second baseman next year, but how much longterm impact he’ll have remains to be seen.

Bren (Pearl River, NY): It was really disappointing given the Mets SS situation that Matt Reynolds never played himself up this year. Do you still a big league role for him?
Teddy Cahill: Reynolds was on the DL with an elbow strain for a little bit, which didn’t help him as he tried to break through to the big leagues. But with the Mets, he’s fighting a tough depth chart to break through at shortstop. Gavin Cecchini will be in Triple-A next year and Amed Rosario isn’t too far behind. Reynolds, if he stays with the organization, is more likely destined for a utility role. He’ll probably need to show a little more with the bat than he did this year to carve out a niche for himself.

Micah (Oregon): Any Giants prospects close to making the list? Any of their prospects get good reviews from your sources?
Teddy Cahill: I’ll use this question to answer the few Clayton Blackburn ones lined up in the queue. Blackburn, who won the ERA title, is interesting. Outfielder Mac Williamson is as well, though he hit much better in Double-A than he did in Triple-A. Blackburn is the kind of pitcher who can be successful in San Francisco, but it would probably be as a back-of-the-rotation starter if it happened. He doesn’t have a plus pitch, so he has to be fine with his control to succeed.

Paul (San Diego, CA): Rymer Liriano - still a prospect, or more of a suspect?
Teddy Cahill: Liriano did not go in the right direction this year and faces a lot of obstacles to playing time in San Diego. But, despite all of that, he’s still 24 and this was his first full year in Triple-A. But it’s getting much harder to see him coming close to the promise he showed before his injury, when he was a Top 100 prospect.

Ben T (Maryland): Thoughts on the futures of two guys that didn't spend enough time perhaps for consideration anyway- Tom Murphy's future in Colorado and Jon Edwards of now San Diego? Thanks.
Teddy Cahill: Edwards, a reliever who went to the Padres as the player to be named for Will Venabel, actually did qualify for the list. It’s just hard to make this list as a reliever. Murphy finished just a few plate appearances short of reaching the threshold. Had he qualified, he likely would have made the list, as he is a good receiver and has a chance to be an everyday catcher. The former Mid-American Conference Player of the Year also acquitted himself well during a September call up, hitting three home runs in 11 games.

Teddy Cahill: Thanks for all your questions today. We’ve got one more league to go, so check back tomorrow for the International League Top 20.