Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With J.J. Cooper

    Jimmy (Greenville, SC): How would you rate/rank
    these 3B prospects? Josh Bell, Matt Dominguez, and Lonnie Chisenhall. I
    know none of them are likely to get called up this year but who would you say would be called up first?

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Let’s get this going. Chisenhall, Bell, Dominguez in that order. Chisenhall to me is a notch above the other two. Dominguez is definitely the third of that group because as good as his defense is, he has a lot more to prove with the bat.

    Lila (Chicago): No parting gift for Dayan, as he gets the call? He put up one fine week for Charlotte.

J.J. Cooper: It was a very fine week, but I do have some concerns about how easy his transition to the big leagues will be. A
lot of hitters who swing at most everything struggle once big leaguers figure out they will chase.

    Robert Goldberg (Lyndhurst, NJ): I know that Belt's numbers are inflated by the Cal League, but they're hugely impressive, and his power appears to be much greater than anyone expected. Is he a potential everyday first baseman at this point, or will he need to put up numbers in AA to prove he's for real?

J.J. Cooper: There’s a lot to like (ability to hit and excellent defense), but he definitely needs to prove it at Double-A as well—just a year ago the consensus was that his swing and approach wouldn’t work in the big leagues. He’s clearly changing that assessment and he’s proved about as well as he can that he’s too good for the Cal League.

    Eric K (Chicago): Who makes it to the show first, Mike Trout or Wil Myers?

J.J. Cooper: Trout because there is so much less question about which position he’ll play. It’s a lot easier to make it to the big leagues as an OF than as a C. If the Royals want Myers to catch, it will take a while to become a big league catcher defensively. Just look at Posey and Santana (and Montero) as examples of big league ready bats who are held back because of concerns about their work behind
the plate.

    Lee (Iowa): Could a low-A player win BA's MILB POY award? Has it happened before? I ask because it seems Mike Trout could be that guy for 2010!

J.J. Cooper: It’s happened before—Andruw Jones won it at Macon in 1995 (I was fortunate enough to be the beat writer for the local paper that year). If you’re making a short-list of candidates at the halfway point Trout’s name would be right at or near the top.

    Louie (Indy): Who's your guys' frontrunner for NL ROY? Heyward is in a major slump and looks lost at the plate the past 6 weeks or so, Freese has cooled off w/minimal power, Ike Davis seems about, will it be Jaime Garcia??? Tyler Colvin perhpas???

J.J. Cooper: Even a lost Heyward ranks 15th in the NL in OPS+, so I wouldn’t write him off. Garcia has to be considered, but if Strasburg is half this good over the remainder of the season I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see him win it. Yes, he’s only going to make 20+ starts, but if they are 20-22 really good ones, that could be enough.

    Dan (Chicago): Is Teheran the best pitching prospect in all of the low minors? Who are some low/high class A guys who are in the same class or at least close to it?

J.J. Cooper: You could argue Teheran’s the best pitching prospect in the minors. As far as low/Hi-A guys who are close to him his teammate Arodys Vizcaino is pretty special.

    Brett (Santa Cruz): Is LHP Robbie Erlin's ERA real, or more a function of starting the year in the bullpen? At 19 it seems like he's been pretty impressive in Low A. What kind of prospect is he? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: We did a
feature on him
(subscribers only) a couple of weeks ago. It’s not just a function of time in the pen. Erlin is a very advanced pitcher for
a teenager with solid stuff. He’s two steps ahead of low Class A hitters right now.

    kevin (ny): Mark Cohhon doesn't even make your list? If he pitches complete game shutouts every game for the rest of the year, will he eventually make it?

J.J. Cooper: He’s on there in the Team Photo section where we note his 3 straight CG shutouts. To be honest, it’s going to be
hard for him to make it to the top 13 as long as he’s still in Savannah. Cohoon was effective in Savannah two years ago as a 20-year-old. Two years later he’s toying with the hitters and has done about everything he can to show he’s ready for a promotion.

    Joseph (Fort Worth, TX): What do you think of Martin Perez? Did Texas send him to Frisco a little too soon? I know he's not dominating, but I think people forget just how young he is...the guy won't be 20 until right before the 2011 season...Thanks for
    the chat!

J.J. Cooper: Still one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. As we noted in the Jordan Lyles’ note, Lyles is the second youngest pitcher in Double-A or above, but it’s worth remembering
Perez is easily the youngest. He’s younger than a lot of pitchers working in the DSL right now, and a rough start or two right now is just
speed bumps along the way to the big leagues.

    Big Dave (AR): Just want to give a shout out to
    Jay Jackson. He went 6 no hit innings in Memphis last week. He was making the Redbirds look foolish. Then he came out in the 7th and his velo was down about 5mph based on the stadium radar and his stuff lost it's bite. He gave up a 3 run shot in the 7th and ended up w/ a the lose
    which was a shame.

J.J. Cooper: I know it’s not a question, but first-person stuff like this is always enjoyable to read.

    Jim (Tampa): How would you rank Freddie Freeman, Jonathan Singleton and Eric Hosmer, long term?

J.J. Cooper: I’ll go Freeman, Hosmer, Singleton, but there isn’t a whole lot of distance between No. 1 and No. 3 there. The main edge to me for Freeman is that he’s managed to make it to Triple-A at the same age that Hosmer is raking in high Class A. Hosmer is obviously having a better season, but the tools are pretty similar and it’s hard to say that Hosmer would be having a better year than Freeman if he was playing in the International League right now. Singleton has showed plus tools as well, but we’re still talking about a guy with less
than 100 games in the minors right now. There are a lot of reasons to be excited, but he’s still a ways away.

    Brent (Appleton): Why does it seem like so many
    top prospects with poor BB/K rates like Cameron Maybin, Brandon Wood and Travis Snider are simply unable to make adjustments at the ML level?
    Delmon Young is showing some improvement, but even he's performing below expectations. Is BA overrating these "toolsy" players as they come
    up through the minors and not focusing enough on simple plate discipline? And what does this say about Mike Stanton's chances of success?

J.J. Cooper: Snider and Maybin are both 23 years old so
I’m not ready to write them off as busts yet, but obviously pitch recognition is a key part of success at the big league level. As far as Stanton, his BB-K ratio hasn’t been that poor. This year, it was 44 BBs,
53 Ks at the time of his callup. He has struck out a lot in the minors,
but he’s shown improvement. If Stanton hits the 30+ HRs the Marlins expect (and that I think he’s capable of), they will live with plenty of

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Was Santana really held
    back to work on his defense or to delay arbitration rights? It is much
    more than curious that all the top prospects are deemed ready just at the same time this season.

J.J. Cooper: Oh sure, arbitration played a part in it, but the Indians are still concerned about his defense, which gave him something for him to legitimately work on while they kept his arbitration clock from starting.

    John (Lethbridge Alberta): Shawn Bowman has been crushing the ball this season, is this a product of being a few years older than the average AA player, or a legitimate improvement from
    a changed approach at the plate?

J.J. Cooper: He’s still young enough to have a big league career, but Bowman has to prove he can do it at Triple-A before we can start declaring him a prospect again. The Blue Jays have done a pretty good job with reclamation projects (like Brian Dopirak in New Hampshire last year) and Bowman does have tools. It’s unlikely he’ll end
up with a long big league career, but he still has a shot of making it to the bigs.

    Andrew (Baltimore): Who are some top prospects who you could see moving at the upcoming trade deadline?

J.J. Cooper: If the Braves need to make a move they have plenty of pitching to pull off a swap, I wouldn’t see them dealing Teheran or Vizcaino, but there are a number of other pitchers in their system (delgado, Hoover, etc.) that could be solid trade chips. The Reds
are in the thick of the NL Central race and in need of bullpen help. There really doesn’t seem to be any prospect in their system other than Chapman who would need to be untouchable—most of their Triple-A guys (Francisco, Alonso, Frazier, Valaika) are blocked by big leaguers.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Jesus Montero had a pretty solid weak batting over .400 with lots of extra base hits. I know
    he has had a horrific season, partially responsible to a hitting coach changing his stance/approach reportedly. Was he in the discussion for the hot sheet or has the down season soured the BA staff?

J.J. Cooper: He was in the discussion and we haven’t soured on him. If you’re ranking the top 10 prospects in the minors, he’s on the list.

    Dave (San Antonio): What does Travis Wood have to do to even make it into the team photo. He has been amazing as of late and still gets no hot sheet love.

J.J. Cooper: Bad timing has hurt him. Last week we had two starts, so his mediocre one on June 5 counteracted his very good one
on June 10. This week Wood was just off the list, largely because of the 2 runs allowed (1 earned).

    Nils (Darien, CT): Is McNutt having sucess with
    smoke and mirrors or does his stuff match his results? What kind of ceiling does he have?

J.J. Cooper: It’s solid plus stuff, especially his fastball. A lot of people may think he’s come out of nowhere, but if you
have the Prospect Handbook you’ll see he was No. 16 in the Cubs system coming into the year, which is a very high ranking for a 32nd-round pick
with 28 pro innings—that right there tells you he’s a serious prospect
as he ranked ahead of every other Cubs’ 2009 draftee except for their first and second-round picks. This isn’t some soft-tosser tricking people, he can blow guys away with his stuff.

    Howard (NJ): JJ, what can you tell us about San
    Jose Giants P Craig Westcott, sporting a 1.55 ERA. Is he on anyone's radar?

J.J. Cooper: He’s on ours. We wrote him in last Monday’s Daily Dish.

    Ben (Columbus, OH): What should the Reds do with Aroldis Chapman this season? They could use every arm they can get
    for the playoff hunt. However, the Reds appear to have a pretty deep rotation, and, with his control issues, I'm not sure how successful he would be as a starter in the majors right now. They could put him in the bullpen, but I'd rather see Chapman start every fifth day in the minors so that he can continue to develop. What are you thoughts?

J.J. Cooper: There’s no reason to bring him up right now as they have other options to sort through in the bullpen (especially when they figure out what to do with a soon-to-be-ready Edinson Volquez who reportedly was touching 97 mph last night in Lynchburg). So Chapman can get more innings and work now in the minors as a starter, but that doesn’t preclude Cincinnati from bringing him up in August (a la David Price) to be a big boost to the pen. And as a side
benefit, it would keep Chapman’s innings down in his first full-length season.

    Steve (KC): Assuming he's healthy, do you think
    Mike Montgomery could be in the Royals' starting rotation by the start of next year? I know he's young but he's a stud.

J.J. Cooper: I think you hit on the key question there.
We’ve got to see how this forearm strain shakes out. If he had pitched a
full season this year I would have answered most definitely. But considering he’s already missed significant time and may miss some more,
I think you have to push that timetable back some.

    Nick (Montreal): You had an earlier question about NL ROY. One rookie that hasn't gotten a lot of attention but who's
    been putting up solid numbers at a premium position is Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond. What is your opinion of him?

J.J. Cooper: I’ll give props to Aaron Fitt, who does our Nationals Top 30 lists every year. He believed in Desmond when not a
whole lot of people outside of the Nats’ front office did. I don’t think he’ll be an all-star, but he can be a very reliable, solid SS for years to come, which makes him one of the key building blocks for the improving Nats.

    tom n (New Mexico): You were awfully gracious to Teheran & Viszciano, but to a T Matzek fan, that's a snub!

J.J. Cooper: It’s not meant as a snub, but Teheran is a
little younger with success at high Class A under his belt, with similar stuff and better command (although Matzek being a lefty is a big
plus in his favor). Matzek is just getting his feet wet in low Class A.
Matzek’s in that discussion too of best A-ball pitching prospect, but I’d rather have Teheran.

    Cormac (Iraq): Betances but no Brackman this week? Not even in the team photo? What gives?

J.J. Cooper: Brackman was close as well, but he does lose some points for being a 24-year-old in high Class A—he’s old for the league, although it’s quite understandable why he’s there.

    Brent (Appleton): Is Jaypers sick?

J.J. Cooper: Don’t really check the names on which questions I answer, but I did see at least one or two JAYPERS questions in the queue, so don’t worry, our loyal chat friend is still around and OK.

Moderator: Thanks for all the questions, but I’ve got to wrap this up. I hope everyone has a good weekend and enjoy the CWS.