Player Of The Year Chat With Chris Kline

 Q:  Evan from Cincy asks:
been a lot of gnashing of teeth here about Bruce’s not being called up
as well as some confusion about the effects of a call-up on his service
time. Can you explain what effect, if any, his call-up would have had
on service time and eventual arbitration?

Chris Kline:
Well, things are ready to roll–and I apologize for being a little
late. The BA Minor League Player of the Year award is one of our
biggest deals every year and believe me, we don’t take the decision
lightly. So considering it’s an award that is given to a Texan, I had
to reprogram my iPod to work my way through your questions. Obviously,
I added some Stevie Ray Vaughan, mainly because his sound exudes the
entire state to me. But this is an all-encompassing BA award, so I had
to add some Will Lingo (Drive By Truckers), John Manuel (U2), Alan
Matthews (Hall & Oates . . . I’m not kidding), Matt Eddy (Ted Leo
& The Pharmacists), Aaron Fitt (Bob Seger . . . again, I’m not
kidding), but couldn’t find room for any Dave Matthews, unfortunately
(Josh Leventhal, Nathan Rode) and I have no idea what Ben Badler’s
into, though I will say he has significant upside as our newest staff
member. Anyway, enough of the sounds being pumped into my house right
now . . . this is, after all, Jay Bruce Day.

Chris Kline:
I wouldn’t gnash teeth, Evan, but at the same time I understand it. The
Reds want Bruce to grab some more ABs with Team USA and it will not
only be a great experience for him, but will also help him heading into
next season. I also don’t think he’s a sure thing to begin in the big
leagues out of spring training next year, but he’ll definitely debut
sometime in 2008. And I really don’t think starting his clock played
into the Reds’ decision.

 Q:  Mike from NYC asks:
How close were Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy in the POY discussion?

Chris Kline:
They were in the mix. The same can be said of Steven Pearce (Pirates),
Justin Upton, etc. But really, it didn’t take that much of a long,
drawn out meeting to decide. What Joba and Kennedy did this year
certainly was impressive, but they were both extremely polished
pitchers. As we all know, that doesn’t mean immediate success like the
two Yankees have had–and that is certainly impressive. But Bruce’s
numbers over three levels as a 20-year-old were way too much to ignore.

 Q:  Will Smeltzer from Tucson,Az asks:
Where do you see orioles prospect Bill Rowell in a couple of years.

Chris Kline:
Rowell starts next season in the Carolina League, where he’ll be faced
with a lot of things he’s never seen before. He’s going to have to make
quick adjustments in the eight-team league . . . I think next year
really will serve as a great barometer on what to expect out of Rowell,
as well as what position he winds up playing, as we move forward.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
deserved, Mr. Bruce! Hey Chris – on another note, I’m curious as to why
Hellickson missed the cut on your final Prospect Hot Sheet. Care to

Chris Kline:
Hot Sheet? What’s that? I think we’re comfortable with all our picks in
the top 20–Hellickson was certainly in the mix for a spot, but missed
the cut. It’s rough having only 20 spots. I can think of at least 10
names we left off, but we wanted to take the last Hot Sheet in a
slightly different direction than we had in the past. And I should also
mention Indians first baseman Jordan Brown, who won his second straight
MVP award (Carolina and now Eastern). Talk about unheralded.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
admitted recently that Maybin was probably brought up too soon. Where
do you see him starting out next year, and how quickly do you think
he’ll stay there before getting a second taste?

Chris Kline: I think he’s there. Nothing left to prove in Triple-A, really.
V. smart player who will make adjustments up there.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Votto – is he up to stay, or is this just temporary?

Chris Kline: I think he’s there. Nothing left to prove in Louisville.
V. smart player who’ll make the adjustments up there.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Jake McGee did not deserve a spot on the cumulative Hot Sheet is
alluding, but BA made the right decision on Player of The Year honors.
If today you deciphered your personal Top Ten prospects for the
upcoming 2008 season, does Jay Bruce hold the top spot? If not, then
who do you give the nod to, and why?

Chris Kline:
I love McGee, but he had some blowup games along the way. He was
another guy we considered in the final 20. And yes, I think Bruce
deserves the top spot for 2008. Unless someone decides to hand a bunch
of money to a Japanese team as a posting fee again.

 Q:  Ross from Boston asks:
2 very simple questions: Will Bruce be playing in Cincinnati next year
and if so why didn’t they call him up so they could give him major
league experience now? (I know that some people have said that the Reds
kept him back to save money. I think this is bs, as they filled all the
spots on the roster already.)

Chris Kline:
Oooooh . . . ‘BS.’ Ross in Boston nearly got flagged. Like I said, and
like Reds GM Wayne Krivsky said when I asked him: “It’s premature to
say that will play out next year.” (That’s Krivsky, but it gives you
the idea). I don’t think Bruce is a shoe-in candidate for next year.
Everybody talks about Bruce replacing Adam Dunn in left field next year
in the big leagues, but the problem with that is Bruce never played LF
as a pro and spent two innings in left as an amateur. I’m not saying a
move like that is really that big a deal, but Bruce really feels like
he has value in center. And so do some scouts I talked to. I think he
has classic RF tools with the bat to back it, but he’s also not nearly
as bad a runner as a lot of people make him out to be–despite the lack
of stolen bags this season.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
an avid BA subscriber and fan for a number of years, I’ve seen many
players ranked high because of their tools, combined with their
youthfulness. A few players like Miguel Cabrera broke out eventually
(as he did in AA), and went on to become big league stars. Many others
faltered, and those tools never played out in the big leagues. Wilson
Betemit is a perfect example. At what point do fans have to stop
listening to scouts, and start looking at results? On which end would
you classify Fernando Martinez? Elvis Andrus?

Chris Kline:
Tough question. I think Martinez’s injury clouds that a bit, and so do
a lot of reports we got on him when he was healthy. Kind of ditto with
Andrus. I love Andrus defensively–he’s just one of those guys you can
tell is different. His actions are smooth; has good arm strength, soft
hands and outstanding range–especially to his left. You just question
how much he’s going to hit. But that said, Andrus has the tools to be a
star. So does Martinez, but I’d like to see a better load and approach
overall at the plate . . . with a little more patience.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
the long-term, who would you take: Chris Nelson or Hector Gomez?
Neither has a future at SS for the Rockies, so moves to 2B and CF
aren’t out of the question.

Chris Kline:
I like Nelson OK, but Gomez is something else. Huge fan. Great actions
at SS with a good ability to put the barrel on the ball at a low level.
I go Gomez.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
much clout do you put in rookie ball stats? Mitch Einertson and Matt
Tuiasosopo are just two examples of players that excelled in rookie
ball, then struggled for a few years afterwards. Einertson rebounded
nicely this season after many Astros fans had given up on him, but the
last two seasons have been disappointing for both players after such
crazy numbers in rookie ball.

Chris Kline:
Depends on the league. Einertson had a nice year this year, but didn’t
come close to the power he showed in the Appy League. I think he’s
battled through some things, and a lot of scouts get down on him about
his size, but he’s improved a bunch defensively and he’s using the
whole field now. Yeah, he bounced back nicely after two years in
Lexington, but the power needs to come back if he wants to get to

 Q:  Buck from St. Louis, MO asks:
How would you rank the 2005 first round high school outfielders now compared to the beginning of the season?

Chris Kline:
Another tough one, Buckaroo. I go: Upton, Maybin, Bruce, Rasmus,
McCutchen as the top five. But I really kind of feel like Rasmus might
have the most overall value when it’s all said and done. Let’s put it
on the bet board for some ribs. I’ll call you.

 Q:  joe from memphis asks:
Who is my Cardinals top Pitching propect? Perez,Ottavino,Garcia,Herron,Walters???

Chris Kline:
You’re asking me? Make a decision! Just kidding, Joe. I go Ottavino,
though I’m a big Herron fan. Perez has been outstanding, but Ottavino
and Herron have more value.

 Q:  John from Fredericksburg, VA asks:
Any updates on International free agents Edward Salcedo, Anderson Pujols, JR Garcia, Moises Montero, or Jesus Valdes-Adames?

Chris Kline:
That’s what I’m talking about . . . nice names to drop (and I’m sure
their agents appreciate it too). I’ll have a final international
signing update soon. As soon as I wrap up the two Top 20 prospects
lists I’m responsible for, that is. Should be up sometime next week.

 Q:  N.P from Newark, NJ asks:
have you seen Oscar Tejeda play? I Watch him last night on T.V and he
looked impressive, he has a cannon of an arm but didn’t get a sense of
his range, What have scouts said about his defense? can he stay at SS?
offensively, his bat is really fast and quick but needs to learn how to
punish bad breaking pitches. what kind of offensive package have scouts
said he is?

Chris Kline:
Does N.P. stand for Non-Prospect? I have seen Tejeda. Range is
above-average; he’s better to his right than his left. Think he can
stay @ SS. I agree with what you say about the bat, but then again you
have to take into account the age and his experience @ facing decent
breaking balls.

 Q:  ray from yuma AZ asks:
What about Chase Headley as the player of the year?

Chris Kline:
He was in the mix, as was Matt Antonelli, Yuma. We turned over every
stone. And every stone led us back to the guy who finished in

 Q:  Bill Dictus from Madison, Wis. asks:
Why havent Gio Gonzalez, Jeff Niemann, and Evan Longoria been called up for their big league clubs?

Chris Kline:
I think there are still some maturity issues with Gonzalez, though no
one with the White Sox will say so publicly. As far as Niemann and
Longoria go, their development where they are now–in the postseason,
serves them better. Even if you don’t want to believe that, it’s true.
The Rays need to try to breed a winning atmosphere, and unfortunately
the majority of that winning comes at the Triple-A level.

 Q:  Bill Dictus from Madison, Wis. asks:
Gorkys Hernandez or Cedric Hunter?

Chris Kline: I’ll go out on a limb and go Hernandez.

 Q:  dave from (DC) asks:
Who do you like amoung the Reds pitching prospects after Bailey and Cueto?

Chris Kline: How about Ben Jukich?

 Q:  Marc H from Rochester, NY asks:
don’t have a question per say, but a comment:
When I take my 2 yr old son to his first ever baseball game I want to
make sure it is a game in which Jay Bruce is playing. I want my son’s
first ever autograph to be from this fine young player and better yet a

Chris Kline:
Agreed. And I hope your son lasts more than three innings when that
happens. Just keep buying him funnel cake if he gets ornery.

 Q:  john from california asks:
the dodgers are loaded with young talent who are their top 10 prospects now that this season has ended?

Chris Kline:
More of a question for Alan Matthews, but you can James McDonald
pitched his way into that top 10. Or Withrow, who was 92-98 mph in the
GCL championship game.

 Q:  Brian Paskvan from Seattle WA asks:
I’ve been hearing about the Yankees projected future rotation includes
Joba, Kennedy, Hughes, perhaps Betances, but I want to know about
Humberto… Is he forgotten since he has been out with TJ? Has he just
slipped peoples minds or does he not stack up talent wise?
I remember him pitching pretty good last year.

Chris Kline:
I don’t think he’s forgotten at all. When he’s healthy, he stacks right
up there. I would worry about what kind of condition he’s kept his body
in during rehab, but I think Sanchez became more driven than ever after
he was dealt. It’s just unfortunate he had a blowout. He’s an outsider
looking in bc of the injury, but if he comes back to be what he was
before surgery, look out.

 Q:  Luke from asks:
How do you think the Reds top four of Bruce, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and Joey Votto compare to others teams top four?

Chris Kline: Favorably, Luke. Use the force.

 Q:  carlos p. from boston, ma asks:
Is CF Andrew McCutcheon the most overrated player out of that 2005 draft ?

Chris Kline:
I think right now that would be Trevor Crowe, though I still believe
Crowe will have value. McCutchen, if you’ve ever seen him, has
game-changing ability. He had a rough time in his first year in
Double-A as a 20-year-old this year, but so did Jarrod Saltalamacchia
last year. Let’s not forget about the brutal numbers Salty put up in
Mississippi in 2006 before we judge.

 Q:  Trouble from @ Work…BOOOOOO! asks:
seriously should we take Zach Daeges’ final stats in the California
League? I know he is an older prospect, but those stats are
mind-boggling, even for the CAL league. Does he fit with the future
plans in Boston?

Chris Kline:
I feel you, Trouble. I think it’s too early to tell, and I also think
Boston’s had a hard time at getting a feel for what the talent level is
for players in Lancaster this season–their first in the Cal League.
It’s hard to really evaluate your own players in an environment like
that league, especially when you play half your games in such a
wind-happy park.

 Q:  Ian from Pittsburgh asks:
not to poo on Bruce as a good choice or anything….
But how about Steve Pearce, who was recently a Sept. callup for the
Pirates. He shot through the minors and had pretty good numbers too:
.333 .394 .622 slg 1.016 ops 113 RBI

Chris Kline: Don’t poo on Bruce. And no doubt, Pearce had an unbelievable year. But he’s also four years older.

 Q:  TRrrr from Tucson asks:
Better shot at Orioles closer next year- Jim Hoey or Radhames Liz??

Chris Kline:
Tough one, Tucson. Hoey is legit, and commands the zone much better.
Not to mention he’s already used to the relief role. Liz has
outstanding movement on everything with plus velo, I’d just worry about
the command in short spurts. If they’re going to do that, I think we
would have seen Liz move to the pen in Triple-A. He could still move
there, but Hoey is the better short-term option.

 Q:  Scott Frew from Inglewood asks:
What are your thoughts on Kyle Blanks? Would you put him in the top 50 prospects?

Chris Kline: While I get at least one e-mail a week from a reader telling me he’s the next Mark McGwire, no.

 Q:  Brian from Boston asks:
True or false: Brandon Jones will hit 20 HRs & 20 SBs atleast once in his career.

Chris Kline: True. Tools are beginning to match performance.

 Q:  Dave from Sarasota asks:
How would you rank Carlos Gomez, Desmond Jennings, and Austin Jackson?

Chris Kline: I’m going way off the board and saying Jennings, Jackson, Gomez.

 Q:  Jake from Kansas City asks:
What are your impressions of Ubaldo Jimenez so far in Colorado?

Chris Kline:
Impressive. He’s had to work through shoulder and finger issues over
the last two years, but he’s always had the potential. After making
some minor adjustments to his delivery this year, he’s really come on.

 Q:  Jake from Kansas City asks:
How would you rank Wade Davis, Jonny Cueto, and Carlos Carrasco?

Chris Kline: Tough to go in that order, but I’d probably go in that order.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
can you tell me about 19 year old Phillies OF prospect Dominic Brown? I
know the Phillies signed him away from playing football for UMiami.
After a slow start he has been on-fire for the last 5 weeks or so in
the NY-Penn League.

Chris Kline: Speed with emerging power and is likely a lock for the Phillies top 10 in the 2008 Prospect Handbook.

 Q:  Josh from Warrenton, MO asks:
good can Jack Egbert be? He seems to fly under the radar, but he had a
very good year and I think he deserves more pub from fans of the

Chris Kline:
Commandcontrol righthander with good secondary pitches. He’s going to
have to be virtually flawless in hitting his spots in the big leagues,
but yes, he had a great year.

 Q:  Dan from NJ asks:
Fernando Maritnez… possible POY candidate next year?

Chris Kline:
We said that coming into this year, but his defense wasn’t very good
and he essentially hit nothing but fastballs up and away from him in
Double-A. If he comes back from the injury and rakes in Binghamton next
season, no question. Except there are a lot of questions. And by the
way, in terms of talent, the Eastern League wasn’t exactly
scintillating this season.

 Q:  Nathan Osborne from Toronto asks:
think we can all agree that Kershaw is the most promising pitching
prospect to come along since King Felix. What do you think his highest
ceiling upside is?

Chris Kline:
We can? There you go again, Canada, putting words in our mouths. Just
kidding. Kershaw has a chance to be special, but then again, so does
Jake McGee from the left side. Let’s not count him out of the equation.
And I know this is going to cause a feeding frenzy, but I’m still not a
King Felix guy. Why exactly is he the King again?

 Q:  Bill Dictus from Madison, Wis. asks:
don’t understand how things have changed so much for Fernando Martinez.
He was a Top 20 prospect in all of baseball but this year he’s been
torn down all year at BA. What has been the main reason for the change
in attitude?

Chris Kline:
Scouting reports. We talk to people who saw him every day. And it
wasn’t very good. Yeah, he hit .271, but he’s not a CF and didn’t hit
for power. He doesn’t well, so what is he? All I’m saying is there are
a lot of questions about his upside–and there were before the injury.
I know the age in Double-A, but this was a guy who the Mets raved about
his ability to make quick adjustments.

 Q:  Ben from DC asks:
seems the Nationals have had a great year in the minors – has any club
improved in the last two yrs as these guys? Things seem to be improving
under Dana Brown and the draft? Thanks.

Chris Kline:
Are you omitting Harrisburg? There isn’t a lot; though I like what they
did in the draft this year. A club like Texas, now there’s a team that
have dug their way out of the bottom of our annual talent rankings.

 Q:  Kevin from Montgomery asks:
Jack Egbert or Chris Mason?

Chris Kline: Mason. Have to stick with the UNC-G johnson.

 Q:  Mark from Kansas City asks:
will BA be covering the Dominican and Venezualean Summer Leagues are
part of their League Top 20 series this year? Thanks.

Chris Kline:
I’m working on it; though there are no guarantees. There is so much to
do, but we should have some kind of combined list from both
leagues–and that’s likely to come after all the top 20s have run.

 Q:  Eli from Toronto asks:
What do you see Jay Bruce’s ceiling and how far off is he from it?

Chris Kline:
Have to end on a Jay Bruce question. Like scouts, I think he’s Larry
Walker Jr. If he’s going to do that, he’s going to need to run more. I
don’t think he’s far off and I know for a fact not only does he
understand what he needs to improve on, but he also has the tools to do
it. He’s as can’t-miss as it gets right now.

Chris Kline:
Thanks for all the outstanding questions once again. Hope everyone has
a great weekend and I guess I’ll talk to you again in a couple weeks
when we get into Carolina and Gulf Coast League top 20s. Take care, eat
well and hope to be back with you soon. CK