Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (May 16)

Matt Eddy: Welcome to the sixth Hot Sheet chat of the 2014 season. But who’s counting?

BRAVEHRT (Atlanta): Dan Uggla isn't hitting and neither have Pena or Pastornicky. If La Stella gets hot will the Braves give him a shot?
Matt Eddy: Expect the Braves to tread lightly here until mid-June or so. Adding La Stella to the 40-man roster now might require exposing another player to waivers, and why risk that when La Stella is slugging just .379 in Triple-A and hasn’t yet had to prove himself after an extended cold spell this season? But all bets are off after those conditions are satisfied.

John (Chicago): After last night's start, you look even wiser in ranking Jacob deGrom in the Mets Top 10. You think he beats Montero out for the last starter spot when Gee returns?
Matt Eddy: Having watched both Montero and deGrom (thank you ESPN and MLB Network) this week, I would feel more confident about deGrom as a starter for this season. He left a few fat pitches out there for Yankees batters, but he also has a damage-control pitch when his sinker is sinking, and he has pretty good feel for his secondary stuff. Montero didn’t have the same success with his secondary pitches, and as ESPN’s Aaron Boone noted during the telecast, Yankees batters laid off Montero’s breaking ball even with two strikes, which suggests that they were discerning the pitch type early. Unfortunately, late movement on any pitch is key to a starter’s success, and of course Montero could improve in this department.

Tyler (Nj): Mookie betts future projection?
Matt Eddy: In an ideal world, I’d say first-division regular with on-base skills, speed and incredible bat control. Dig on that 20-to-13 walk-to-strikeout ratio because batters who don’t control the zone have no chance in the era of suppressed AVG and OBP in the majors.

Tyler (Nj): What do u expect from joc pederson in the majors
Matt Eddy: I like the comps to Andre Ethier in terms of production. Strong-side platoon outfield bat with some speed and above-average power production. However, Ethier never has struck out as much as Pederson does (he’s at 26% at Albuquerque this year). The high-strikeout batters scare me, especially in the context of today’s strikeouts-at-all-costs pitching style.

They call me Bravo (DC): Giloitlo and AJ Cole are looking legit. what is their upside and ETA?
Matt Eddy: Giolito is as talented as any pitching prospect in the minors, but I wouldn’t expect him to be a major contributor for the Nationals until 2016, the complicating factor being the lost 2013 season. Let’s say he throws 120 innings at Low-A and High-A this year, then 150-ish next year at Double-A and Triple-A (and possibly the majors). He’ll be shut down in September 2015 whether or not he makes his big league debut, so that’s why I’d set my sights on 2016. As for A.J. Cole, I like him better as a shutdown reliever because he’s awfully hittable for a pitcher with electric arm strength, and anyways his lack of a wipeout second pitch won’t be a critical issue in the bullpen.

Warren (New London): First, thanks for noticing Willians Astudillo. But I really wanted to ask about Gregory Polanco. I love the offense, but while it's clear that he has the tools to be a good defensive player, he isn't one yet. Is this something that he'll grow out of, or could it be a problem for him going forward as it has been for Domonic Brown?
Matt Eddy: Credit for Astudillo goes to our Phillies correspondent Jim Salisbury. (He does fine work in general, so check him out.) We’ll have an org report on the young catcher next week. As to Polanco, I agree with you in that I think we fans need to take a deep breath. Extra reps against Triple-A pitchers can only help his development, and so too will extra defensive reps at a new position for him. Additionally, for any tall hitter with long arms and a huge strike zone, I wonder about an adjustment period to the inside fastball from big leaguers. Hitters will say the elite fastball on the hands is toughest to handle because that’s the toughest pitch on which to generate bat speed (for mortals anyway).

MJ (Valpo): How did Trevor Story miss the list? 10-22, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, SB...he's bee raking all year!
Matt Eddy: Not shown: six strikeouts in 24 PAs. I looked at Story for this week’s Hot Sheet, and I like him as a prospect, but I want to see continued improvement on the strikeout front.

Tim (Sarasota): Thanks for the chat Matt. Who is first to the majors Andrew Susac or Tom Murphy? And what is their long term outlook? Thanks
Matt Eddy: All your Susac questions answered! He has a built-in advantage on Murphy in that he’s (1) in Triple-A, (2) hitting the ball with authority and (3) has to go on the 40-man roster after the season regardless. Catcher is the one position where players seem to make gigantic defensive improvements in pro ball as they improve technique, so I wouldn’t fret either Murphy or Susac sticking at the position. And with power being a prerequisite for playing time for major league catchers, I like both their chances to stick around for awhile. I give the nod to Susac for now until Murphy proves himself at higher levels.

Mike (Iowa): Is Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs for real? What is his upside at the next level? Thanks for the chat
Matt Eddy: Hendricks won Southern League pitcher of the year honors last year, so he’s got a track record of effectiveness in the minors. As a sinkerball pitcher with 88-92 mph velocity he’s going to be as good as his command each start, but I think it’s safe to say his stuff will play in the majors as a No. 5 starter or reliever. Who’s your favorite sinkerball starter with double-plus control?

Jeff (NPR Fl): How did Bridwell miss the list? 8K/2BB 8 1/3 one hit ball in his last start.
Matt Eddy: The Orioles righty has teased us before. His ERA through eight starts in the Carolina League is 5.61, and that’s on top of a 4.73 ERA in Low-A last year, and that’s on top of a 5.98 ERA in 2012 when he pitched at Low-A the first time. Of course, ERA is a blunt tool to measure pitcher effectiveness, but keep in mind that Bridwell has walked 4.6 batters per nine at Frederick this year while also allowing 43 hits in 43 innings.

Nick Franklin (Waiting): Since Brad Miller isn't hitting at all and im batting .500 in my last 10 games with 16 hits, 3 hr and 9 RBI's in 32 AB's when do think I will get the call up or do you think I will be traded?
Matt Eddy: I talked with a veteran scout last year for the Southern League Top 20 Prospects who seriously doubted Miller’s ability to hit based on his no-stride, dead-hands approach. This is the sort of thing I heard about Matt Antonelli when he was tearing up Double-A years ago. In other words, I think Miller has a short leash (he’s a no-better-than-average defender) and that Seattle might soon turn to Franklin or possibly Chris Taylor.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Thanks for the chat. Between Joc Pederson and Mookie Betts, the two best blocked prospects right now, whom do you believe would fetch more in trade?
Matt Eddy: Interesting question. Betts is more unconventional given his stature and the fact he’s probably limited to the right side of the infield, but acquiring any player who can handle the infield is typically preferable to an outfielder (unless he has elite power). So I’d side with Betts on this one, but things change quickly in baseball, and Betts might be at the absolute peak of his abilities right now.

Brian (Greensboro): Do you think the strikeout at all cost pitching style is leading to a rash of TJ surgeries in young players?? Or is it all the abuse the arm takes playing year round baseball from such a young age
Matt Eddy: Popular opinion in the scouting and analytical communities seem to be coalescing around the idea of a year-round pitching regimen not allowing young hurlers to properly rest their elbow ligaments. (Unlike other muscles in the arm, the ligament cannot be strengthened.) Some also have posited that young pitchers, in general, need to do more throwing and less pitching off the mound.

Jason (West MI): What is your projection for Grichuk?
Matt Eddy: Love the power and am sufficiently intrigued by the improved health, plate discipline and athleticism he’s shown in recent seasons. Too soon to say he’s a first-division type guy, but he’s definitely a big league corner bat of some stripe.

Tyler (Nj): Jp crawford , hunter renfroe, harold ramiez best career ?
Matt Eddy: With improvements to his basestealing and defensive efficiency, the Phillies’ J.P. Crawford could be a very interesting prospect. He’s a worthy player-development project and I think I’d take him over the other two prospects you cite.

Nico (Tacoma): How many games will Yangervis Solarte have to keep this up before he is considered a genuine prospect (ie makes the daily report)?
Matt Eddy: In eight more at-bats he’ll no longer be prospect-eligible for our purposes. But, hey, the Twins and Rangers were the first ones to develop a blind spot when it comes to Solarte. He spent eight years in the minors without so much as a sniff of the big leagues with those organizations. But let’s focus on the positive: Solarte was a great find by the Yankees pro scouting department. Kudos.

John (Old Lyme): What are your thoughts on Greg Bird? He's mashed everywhere he has played.
Matt Eddy: A first baseman has to show me 70-grade power at Double-A and Triple-A before I get excited. Plus, back problems are not a trait one wants associated with a young power hitter. But following prospects should be fun, and Bird’s 20-homer, 100-walk season as a 20-year-old in 2013 was pretty cool.

Julius (Houston): How can you throw a no-hitter (well 6 innings) in the Cal league and not even receive a mention????
Matt Eddy: Strike out six and walk four, as Astros lefty Josh Hader did while throwing six no-hit innings for High-A Lancaster this week. If he allowed one hit would we be having this discussion?

Tyler Danish (Winston-Salem): 0 runs in my last three starts, 0.71 ERA on the season, now in High-A as an nineteen-year-old in his first professional season. What's with the the lack of recognition?
Matt Eddy: A lack of strikeouts (5.9 per nine) is keeping White Sox RHP Tyler Danish off the Hot Sheet for now, but I for one would like to see him succeed. I like when the unconventional players out-perform expectations, and at 6-foot, 200 pounds with a low arm slot, Danish is not a conventional HS second-round arm.

Daniel (Katy,Texas): Do you remember another great pitching prospect with such command as j. Gray? It,s really impressive
Matt Eddy: Rockies RHP Jon Gray is walking 1.2 batters per nine at Double-A Tulsa this season, which if it holds would shatter the ~2.5 BB/9 rates that 2010 Strasburg and 2002 Prior had the year after they were drafted. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of Gray in those terms.

John (CT): Would you say at this point in time Hunter Harvey is Baltimore's top prospect? How does he compare to pre-injury Bundy?
Matt Eddy: No, you still have to give the nod to Dylan Bundy based on his impressive performance in 2012 and the talent that made him the No. 1 or 1-A prep arm (Archie Bradley) in his draft class. Kevin Gausman, though, has exhausted his prospect eligibility, so Harvey might make for a fine No. 2 prospect.

Ken (Lakewood CA): Who is the real catching prospect for the Red Sox - Vazquez in AAA or Swihart in AA? Both seem to be doing well in 2014.
Matt Eddy: I really like that Blake Swihart has shown us glimpses of an advanced hitting approach (2013) and solid power (2014) in his brief minor league career. Plus, he’s an athletic switch-hitter, so for me he gets the nod.

Rich (NJ): Domingo Santana has been swinging a hot bat with increased power, do you think he gets a cameo this year with Houston? Thanks
Matt Eddy: Yes, absolutely. Santana’s hitting for power at Triple-A (6 HR, .500 SLG), is a fine prospect and is on the 40-man roster. You’ll see him in the second half for sure.

Larry (Mesa, AZ): Will Jake Lamb leapfrog any and all of the D-Backs' 3B prospects by the end of this season? He's not so raw anymore, so could man the hot corner in 2015?
Matt Eddy: A quote by Kevin Towers in an early-season D-backs org report indicates that the organization views Lamb as their No. 1 prospect at third base. That’s why they felt comfortable trading Matt Davidson, and that’s also why I’d expect Lamb to get first crack over Brandon Drury.

Mark (Boston): What kind of prospect is Dalton Pompey? Is he someone who could be considered in the top 100? What kind of player is he projected to be?
Matt Eddy: I want to see more from the young center fielder, but given Pompey’s youth, athleticism and amateur background in Ontario, I’m impressed with his progress this season. He’s one to watch for sure.

Matt Eddy: Another Friday chat session filled with great questions. Thanks for reading. We’ll return with another Hot Sheet next Friday. You can tweet questions to me @MattEddyBA