Prospect Hot Sheet Chat

Erik R (Long Beach, CA): How concerned should i be that Austin Beck is struggling mightily in the AZL?

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out. You should be concerned zero percent. Negative zero percent. He has 38 at-bats, which is such a small sample size as to have virtually no predictive value. Beyond that, Beck is adjusting to pro ball and the heat of the AZL. Complex league stats are on the very, very low end of what stats have useful value.

jason (charlotte): Is the Acuna train gaining a little too much steam ? As a Braves fan, I'm concerned they are rushing him and he becomes Franceour.

J.J. Cooper: I don’t really get the move to Triple-A after less than 250 plate appearances because I don’t think he had mastered the one remaining big hiccup in his development–his plate discipline. Francoeur wasn’t this good in the minors, but I don’t see what’s the development benefit of moving him up to Triple-A this quick. That said, while it didn’t work out with Francouer, the Braves put Andruw Jones, Rafael Furcal and Andrelton Simmons on similar fast tracks and it worked out with them.

Doug (Sacramento): With Sonny Gray the last high upside controllable starter presumably available on the market. What can the A's reasonably expect from a trade? A top 20 prospect? Two Top 100? Who do you see as the best match?

J.J. Cooper: Not necessarily, I’m not sure I’d want Gray if I have any chance of getting Yu Darvish (maybe available) or Gerrit Cole or Julio Tehran. Gray has been much better than last year’s disastrous season, but do you really feel comfortable with him being the No. 1 or No. 2 on a playoff team? I see Quintana as significantly more valuable than Gray. But you are right, especially with today’s Yankees news, it appears to be a sellers’ market for starting pitching, which may end up shaking loose some additional guys who will become available.

Carl (Philly): Do any other starters challenge Buehler and Kopech for velocity? Any 80 fastballs?

J.J. Cooper: Luis Castillo, Antonio Santillan, Jorge Guzman, Sandy Alcantara, Riley Pint and I could keep going. Lot of starters these days can get to 100 or better.

Phil (Arkansas): You guys have said that there are usually only 1-2 potential frontline starters in the minors at any time. The guys with the best stuff tend to be chosen for that, but when you look at the majors majority of true #1 guys are not high 90 throwers, but have excellent control. Is control underrated among prospects, or are there just not many guys in the minors with truly excellent control? thanks

J.J. Cooper: Perceptive question. If you said who are the true No. 1’s right now, I’d say I’d start with Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Madison Bumgarner and you could probably go a little further than this. The only one of those I just listed who didn’t come up with a plus fastball is arguably Kluber. But I’d also say that with all of those pitchers developed that control/command in the big leagues. Max Scherzer has almost halved his walk rate from the minors to now. Projecting which pitchers will go from fringe-average control to plus-plus control is really, really hard.

Bobby (Seattle): What is Chris Flexen's upside? Do we know the full picture or what he is doing well or is there more to understand? From the test is looks like his command is really nice.

J.J. Cooper: We’re rolling out the midseason Top 10s next week. Expect to see Flexen on the Mets’ Top 10.

Freddie (Surprise, AZ): Adrian Morejon or MacKenzie Gore? Which system has a better pair of young lefties than these two?

J.J. Cooper: Yes please. I’ll take either of them. We have Gore ranked higher right now, but both could add to their resumes significantly in the next year or so. But no, we have the Braves (Allard and Newcomb and Gohara) as the best current pair or trio of LHP prospects.

Lucas (Virginia): ETAs are messy, but still fun to project. When do you see these pitchers making their debuts: Walker Buehler, Mitch Keller, Cal Quantrill, Franklin Perez.

J.J. Cooper: Buehler likely pitches in the big leagues to help the Dodgers’ bullpen this fall to me. Quantrill 2018. Perez and Keller 2019.

Timmy B (Virginia): Derek Fisher was a name I never heard a lot before this year. Why is his name everywhere this year?

J.J. Cooper: And you’re from Virginia? He’s been a dude when he was at Virginia, fell in the draft due to injuries as a junior. He’s always had very good tools, but his defense has gotten better and he’s learned how to tap into his power. Very good prospect.

Ryan (Macon): I can't possibly be more excited about Acuna. Tell me something that will temper my expectations

J.J. Cooper: He’s improved his strikeout rate but he still gets overaggressive at times, which may limit his offensive impact if that doesn’t improve. That said, that would limit his impact. His power, defense and speed would still make him a useful big leaguer even with that issue.

bruce (NY): Tebow his a walk off HR last night? I know I'm grasping at straws but this any chance (no matter how remote it may be) that Tebow gets to the majors at some point?

J.J. Cooper: If he does, it’s a money grab, not because he’s earned a spot in the big leagues with performance. There’s no logical explanation where he can go from where he was in the first half in the Sally League to New York in September and have it described as a baseball decision.

Jonathan (NYC): Has Flexen's velocity ticked up or is it movement or command that has gotten better? What's his ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: All of the above. Potential mid-rotation starter.

Larry (Long Island, New York): What do you think Chris Flexen's ceiling is, also what exactly is his arsenal like I've only been able to find scouting reports from 2012

J.J. Cooper: Larry, subscribe to Baseball America and fix your problem. We have plenty of reports on him. We had a draft report on him in 2012, then ranked him 19th in the Appy League in 2013, then ranked as the 26th prospect in the Mets system coming into 2016 then ranked as the 22nd prospect in the Mets system coming into this year. So here’s a link to four scouting reports on him, some as recent as this offseason. We’ll have an update on that coming next week for BA subscribers. If you’re not subscribing, you can go here to fix that oversight for $5.99 a month.

Little Jerry Seinfeld (Upper West Side): What do you think of the teen outfielders in the Braves system other than Acuna? I'm talking about Waters, Pache and Isranel Wilson. Are they top 100 candidates next year?

J.J. Cooper: Probably not. More likely candidates going into 2019 if they continue to progress.

Adam (Wisconsin): Glad to see Bryse make the list. Understandable he's not as hyped because of the depth in that system. Any change in his scouting reports since being a 4th rounder last year? Projection?

J.J. Cooper: He’s going to be featured prominently in the Braves midseason report. His stuff compares pretty favorably to the higher priced Braves pitching draftees in the 2016 class.

Steve (Houston): AJ Reed has lost a lot of his luster, but what type of big leaguer could he develop in to?Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Right now he needs to show he can hit AAA pitching. He’s gone in the wrong direction for the past year and a half. Change of scenery seems likely at some point now, as I don’t see him competing for the Astros 1B job anytime soon.

Paddy (Ireland): Have Ronald Acunas 20 to 80 scale projections gone up after the year he is having? If so what would you trade them?

J.J. Cooper: Not really. The projections coming into the year were quite lofty. What’s happened is his chances of reaching those projections are more likely to be reached.

Brandon (San Diego): No love for morejon on the hot sheet?

J.J. Cooper: Nope. My apologies as I feel we massively under-appreciated Padres’ prospects on this week’s Hot Sheet.

Jeff (CA): By the trade deadline do you think Alex Verdugo will be with another team or still be with the Dodgers?

J.J. Cooper: He (and Willie Calhoun) make sense as trade chips because there just aren’t a whole lot of jobs coming open in the Dodgers’ outfield in the near future, but then the Dodgers’ don’t have a ton of needs either.

Jeff (CA): During the All-Star game John Smoltz mentioned that both Correa and Seager will eventually have to be moved to third base because of their size. Do you agree with that or do you think both can stick at shortstop?

J.J. Cooper: It’s a logical progression. Both are very big shortstops. Most of those type shortstops over the year eventually end up at third base. For Hanley Ramirez, it happened quickly. It took longer for Cal Ripken. It took forever for Johnny Peralta.

Jason (Charlotte): Which Brave pitching prospect are you most excited about ? Almost every one has taken a step forward this year.

J.J. Cooper: Think you’re being a little optimistic. Fried, Toussaint and Muller have taken steps back or sideways at best.

Cameron (Memphis): If it had been you making the decision, would you have offered Schwarber instead of Jiminez? Do you see anyone in the Cubs system with the talent to be a top 20 prospect in baseball in the next 2-3 years?

J.J. Cooper: We talked about this on our Podcast yesterday (available at I’d rather have Eloy Jimenez than Schwarber because I think he’ll be better defensively and similarly valuable as a hitter, but I do understand how the Cubs might prefer a guy who is in the big leagues now (they are going for it in 2017) and who is a lefty bat versus the righty bat.

Keith (Farmington, CT): Thanks JJ. Joey Wentz's performance as a 19-year-old in the Sally League (2.87 era, 9.88 k/9, 2.64 bb/9) is amazing. How excited should we get about a young lefty with that control? Can his ceiling reach No. 2 starter?

J.J. Cooper: I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, but that’s very good not amazing. What’s amazing is the Braves have a pair of 19-year-old pitchers posting similar numbers in Double-A.

Jeff (MInnesota): Best prospect you've ever seen who didn't pan out in the big leagues (not due to injury)?

J.J. Cooper: Hmmm the not due to injury part is what makes it tough. Luis Rivera, a Braves pitcher from the last years of the 90s, was great, but shoulder injuries finished him off. I might have to say the same about Kyle Zimmer years from now. But not panning out for non-injury issues are more difficult to remember. Not from personal observation but from talking to scouts I was really wrong on Mets SS Kaz Matsui. He had an MLB career, but I ranked him ahead of David Wright….oops.

Jason (San Diego): When does tatis get a promotion? Word around sd is that he is going to stay in Fort Wayne all year but that can't be right... can it?

J.J. Cooper: Why not? He’s 18. There is zero harm from him dominating a level for a month and a half. It’s mid-July and he’s just been dominating it for a couple of weeks. Faster isn’t always better.

Thomas (Raleigh): Was surprised to not see Taylor Trammell in the Top 100. Smart kid, natural athlete with great speed, developing power as well as a strong work ethic. Seems to have so much upside. How close was he to consideration?

J.J. Cooper: He’s not far off, but the demands on a left fielder’s bat are quite significant and scouts I talk to think he’s a left fielder.

Christopher (Florida): What are your thoughts on Merandy Gonzalez? He has dominated with Columbia and St Lucie. Do you see him being a top 5 Mets prospect by the end of the season?

J.J. Cooper: Much like Flexen, you’ll be reading about him on the Mets Top 10 Prospects midseason list. Top 5 might be tough but it depends on graduations.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone for coming out. I’ve got to get back to writing.