Prospect Hot Sheet Chat: May 1

Moderator: J.J. Cooper will answer your prospects questions and questions about the Prospect Hot Sheet beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

J.J. Cooper: We’ll get started a couple of minutes early, as I still need to write today’s Daily Dish after finishing the chat.

    Timmy L. (San Francisco): Strasburg or Hanson?

J.J. Cooper: Strasburg. Nothing against Hanson, but
Strasburg has even better stuff, other-worldly stuff. He wouldn’t be
the best pitcher in Major League Baseball right now, but can anyone
thing of someone in the majors who has better pure stuff than Strasburg
right now?

    Allan (Schofield Wi): Carlos Gonzalez has a 6Rbi game and a 5 Rbi Game and doesn't make the list... WOW...

J.J. Cooper: Don’t be wowed…For one his 6 RBI game
came nine days ago on April 22, so it wouldn’t be a big factor in
determining whether he makes the list. And more importantly he spent
much of the season with the A’s last year, so he’s no longer a rookie
and no longer a prospect. It’s the same reason Homer Bailey’s 15 K game
doesn’t make the Sheet.

    Scott (Chicago): I realize that Cubs AAA 1st
    baseman Jake Fox is not young, but does he have a chance to become a
    regular MLB starter? Seems like with Derrek Lee struggling the Cubs
    might be able to find a few at bats for Fox?

J.J. Cooper: He definitely has a chance, and 12 HR in
a month will help you get a much better chance. Fox’s problem is he
won’t get a chance in Chicago unless Derrek Lee is hurt, I don’t care
if Lee is struggling, you don’t bench a proven big league hitter with a
great glove at 1B for a poor defensive 1B who was demoted to Double-A
last year because of his struggles. Fox has made some significant
adjustments and is a better hitter than he was a year ago—he lays off
a lot more pitches now—but it’s fair for the Cubs to let him prove
he’s more than a low-average slugger having a hot month. His ideal
long-term hope is to end up as an American League DH.

    Keith (Cincy): Adam Rosales tore up AAA in April. Does he have a good chance to replace Encarnacion?

J.J. Cooper: He could give the Reds some decent
at-bats at third in Encarnacion’s absence—he gives them a better
backup plan than they have had in the past if EE went down, but long
term his best fit still seems to be as a useful and versatile utility
man. He hasn’t had a batting average above .300 in full-season minor
league ball, so the .400+ batting average in Triple-A was more a matter
of a hot streak and a small sample size.

    PT (NH): Will Tony Delmonico get to A+ ball
    this year? When converting a guy to Catcher from another position, do
    teams usually start the player at the lowest level to take some stress
    off them at the plate or do they send them to the level with the
    strongest catching coach? How is his transition to catcher coming along?

J.J. Cooper: Got a report on Delmonico behind the
plate last week. As a hitter, he’s very advanced for the Midwest
League, as you would expect for a D-I college player. As a catcher, he
still has a long ways to go. He struggles throwing out base runners and
blocking pitches in the dirt but especially with just receiving pitches
with soft hands. In other words, he looks like a middle infielder who
just moved behind the plate, which he is. I’d expect to see him stay in
Great Lakes, as he has a long way to go as a catcher. But the Dodgers
have shown they can do a very good job of converting guys to catcher,
just ask Russell Martin, Lucas May and Carlos Santana

    JAYPERS (IL): Any love for Michael Taylor?
    What kept him off? His past week's numbers: 10-for-24/.416
    avg/3-2B's/1-3B/1HR/5RBI/1BB/3K/2SB (2/2).

J.J. Cooper: He was on the follow list this week and
ended up in the group of guys just missing the team photo. While it was
a very good week, the hitters who made the list just edged him.

    Ian (DC): While Jennings' past week wasn't as
    dominant as the previous one, he did put up some excellent numbers. Was
    there at least some consideration for him?

J.J. Cooper: He was considered but at .333/.333/.533 his week was way down on the list of hitters we considered.

    J-Bone (Garden State): Where is Cardenas???

J.J. Cooper: If we had gone 35 deep Cardenas would
have made it. His .391/.500/.565 week was good but when you consider it
was in the hitter-friendly Texas League it ended up being edged out by
several other hitters.

    JAYPERS (IL): Between Hudson and his teammate Dexter Carter, which one has the higher ceiling and will rise through the minors more quickly?

J.J. Cooper: Carter has better stuff, which gives him
the higher ceiling. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed roommates
for a while though as they are on the same track.

    PT (NH): Brandon Allen has 3 triples already. Does he run well enough to play a little OF?

J.J. Cooper: Allen has worked hard to become an
average runner who knows how to run the bases, but he’s a DH who is
working to become a good enough fielder to handle 1B. I’d say the OF is
a big leap.

    Craig (Canada): What is the latest news on
    Kelvin De La Cruz? He pitched like an ace in his first 2 outings and
    was on this list. He has not pitched since and there has not been any
    updates on his status.

J.J. Cooper: Ben Badler had an update on the Prospects
Blog this week:
To sum up, he’s got forearm tightness and he’s headed to Cleveland to
have it looked at.

    PT (NH): After pitching in the WBC I thought
    JC Sulbaren would head to full season ball. Are the Reds holding him
    back because they don't think he's ready or are they trying to curtail
    his innings for this year?

J.J. Cooper: He had blister problems when he got back
which have slowed down stretching him out. Expect to see him in Dayton
before too long.

    Jarin McKay (Greenville, NC): Whats the deal with Billy Rowell when do you see him getting out of Frederick and helping Brandon Snyder out there?

J.J. Cooper: Not any time soon I would expect. He’s
having a tough time adjusting to the outfield and he’s hitting OK, but
nothing that says “move me up.” A scout who recently saw him wasn’t
impressed with his body language. The implication was that he didn’t
looked thrilled to be at the ballpark.

    sheetskout (Milwaukee, WI): Was there anything
    imparticular that kept Hector Rondon off the main list and do you see
    Hector as a current top-100 prospect. He's been stellar.

J.J. Cooper: Hector’s on the list as an In The Team Photo guy. He’s been very good this year at a young age for the EL.

    Steve (San Francisco): What more does Buster Posey have to do to make the list? The guy has been destroying A ball. When does he get moved up to AA?

J.J. Cooper: We’re not ignoring Buster, remember he
was No. 1 on our first Hot Sheet of the season, but a .321/.345/.643
week when hitting in Lancaster is good but not Hot Sheet great.

    jay (madison): How can brandon erbe with his sub 1 era not ne included on the list?

J.J. Cooper: Erbe made the list last week, and he had
another very solid outing this week, but his lack of Ks (3 in 6 IP)
meant he was among the guys who just missed.

    Ernie (Seattle,WA): JJ,
    Brett Lorin is off to a great start, is he just too advanced for the
    Midwest League or is he a legitimate prospect and what can you tell us
    about his stuff ? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: Both. He is too advanced for the Midwest
League, but you can see some reasons for starting him there. The
Mariners’ high Class A rotation is stacked, so that’s part of the
reason, and also High Desert is one of the toughest places in the
minors for a pitcher to pitch. Throw it together and it makes more
sense to start him a level lower. As far as stuff he has a solid 88-92
mph fastball, but his breaking ball is his out pitch.

    Larry (NYC): Since you guys openly state that
    you have never been big Dan Bard fans is that why you seem to be having
    a tough time giving him credit? Sounds like he may have the best arm in
    all of pro baseball.

J.J. Cooper: You guys? There are a lot of mixed
opinions among the BA staff about Bard, with some very vocal proponents
of him (John Manuel) and others who aren’t believers. We ranked him In
The Team Photo during our first Hot Sheet of the season, and he’ll
likely pop up on here again if the Red Sox keep him in Pawtucket for a

    Zacj (Ft Worth): Could Justin Smoak be in Arlington at some point this summer?

J.J. Cooper: Where would he play? That’s the Rangers
biggest problem going forward. Assuming Chris Davis pulls out of his
early-season funk you have him and Blalock as the 1B and DH spots. If
someone goes down, Smoak could be ready by late in the season, but he
likely has to wait to 2010 for a spot to open up.

    Rishin (CA): What do you this about Chris
    Huseby? Seems they have converted him into a reliever and he has worked
    out his control problems. Any chance he can still turn into a top

J.J. Cooper: There’s always a chance, but I wouldn’t
get too excited by 8 IP in the Midwest League. He’s been looking for
some lost velocity since the Tommy John surgery. He’s still
projectable, but his upside seems to be a good bit less than it was
when he signed for $1.3 million.

    Timmy L. (San Francisco): I am going to see
    Strasburg tonight against Santa Clara (weather permitting). What can I
    expect outside of the 100-103 mph fastball?

J.J. Cooper: Pinpoint control. Plenty of strikeouts. A
couple of hundred scouts (OK, maybe not on the last point, at this
point any scout for a team who doesn’t pick in the top three spots is
realistically wasting his time scouting Strasburg).

    Tyler (Harrodsburg KY): People in the Cincy
    area gave the Reds front office a lot of flack for taking Alonso and
    not Smoak. However I'm not so sure that Smoak is that much better than
    Alonso, regardless of what the statistics say at this point. What are
    your thoughts?

J.J. Cooper: I think they will both be very solid big
leaguers. The Reds liked Alonso’s patience at the plate because of
their lack of patient hitters at the big league level. He doesn’t chase
much, although Smoak also has good patience. The knock on Alonso is
whether he will hit lefties, but it’s worth noting that Smoak also is
much better against righthanders. Add it up and both teams should end
up happy.

    Brandon (Charleston, WV): Hey, J.J, just to give an update on Sulbaran, he's scheduled to make his pro debut tonight for Dayton.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks for the update. He immediately becomes the best prospect on that Dayton squad.

    Brandon (Charleston, WV): Zach Cozart and Chris Heisey are both crushing the ball with Double-A Carolina. What are your thoughts on those two?

J.J. Cooper: Heisey is just doing what he’s done
everywhere he’s gone. The man can hit while also stealing bases at an
excellent percentage and playing solid defense in center. For Cozart, a
solid offensive year in Double-A would make him a very interesting
prospect. The question about him has always been how much would he
hit—he’s got a big league caliber glove at shortstop. If he can hit in
Double-A after skipping high Class A, that would go a long way to
answering his biggest question.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): Has anyone from BA come to check out Huntington Field in Columbus yet?

J.J. Cooper: Not yet, but in the Business Beat that
just went live on the site:
Josh Leventhal notes it and the Gwinnett park’s openings.

    Michael McCardell (PA): I thought I had a good week. Why was it not good enough for the Hot List?

J.J. Cooper: He was another of the just missed guys.
Even with 13 spots and 7 just missed’s there are usually too many solid
performances for the spots available. It is encouraging to see
McCardell bounce back after two bad starts to begin the season.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg KY): Angel Morales
    destroyed the Pioneer League last season, but so far has been MIA. Is
    this just another example of how short season A ball numbers can't be
    trusted in determining the hitting ability of a player?

J.J. Cooper: We’re just 80 at-bats into the season, so
don’t write anyone off. It’s worth noting he was in the Appy League not
the Pioneer League last year. But more importantly at this point last
year, Mike Moustakas was barely slugging his weight and he ended up
hitting .272/.337/.468 in the MWL. Morales is raw, and he has some
adjustments to make, but don’t discount him for a bad month any more
than he should be annointed on the basis of great numbers in rookie

J.J. Cooper: Thanks for all the questions. Sorry I
can’t get to all of them. We’ll be back Monday with Aaron Fitt’s
college chat, followed by another Prospects chat on Friday.