Prospects Chat: J.J. Cooper

.J. Cooper: J.J. Cooper will chat about prospects, the midseason Top 25 Prospects list and the Prospect Hot Sheet beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

    Ryan (California): What do you think of Trevor Reckling? Is he a legit prospect and what is his ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone, let’s get started a minute
or two early. Reckling is definitely a prospect and a solid candidate
for the Top 100. A live-armed lefty with three pitches who’s succeeding
in Double-A as a 20-year-old, that’s a pretty good definition of a
prospect. He needs to improve his control, which has regressed against
more advanced Double-A hitters, but that’s the biggest thing he needs
to tweak.

    Andrew (York, PA): Thanks for the chat. In
    your estimation, do the Astros still have the worst farm system in the
    game, or has the performance/emergence of some of their prospects
    (Castro, Lyles, Norris, etc.) bumped them up a few spots?

J.J. Cooper: If we were ranking again right now, the
Astros would not rank last. Castro, Lyles, Norris, heck throw in Jon
Gaston, have all had very impressive seasons. They aren’t top 5 or
anything, but it’s a better system than it appeared at the start of the

    Ben (Leland Grove): While relievers are few
    and far between on the Hot Sheet, were there any props given to Brett
    Hunter, who K'd 12 in his last five innings of work?

J.J. Cooper: Hunter has started to turn around what
was a bad start to the season, but as a college pitcher pitching out of
the pen in low Class A, he was more of a man among boys candidate than
a top candidate for the Hot Sheet.

    Michael Taylor (Reading): You guys are REALLY
    hard to predict. I absolutely raked the week before last, got robbed of
    a Hot Sheet appearance because of the "holiday version", but didn't do
    quite as well this past week and as a result, I missed my chance. Would
    you call me Philly's #1 overall prospect at this point, or does Dom
    Brown still own that title?

J.J. Cooper: I’d still go with Brown because of the
age difference (Brown is two years younger), Brown’s better speed and
better defense in right. But it’s nitpicking as both are among the top
25 prospects in baseball.

    Otto (Houston): Who would you give the overall #1 prospect honor to from the Astros' system — Castro, Lyles or other?

J.J. Cooper: I’d still go with Castro, but Lyles is showing he’s a very strong No. 2 or No. 3 prospect.

    Mick (Cincy, OH): Which arm would you say has
    the higher ceiling, and for what reason — Travis Wood, or (hopefully
    soon-to-be signed) Mike Leake?

J.J. Cooper: I’d say Leake has the higher ceiling—at
his best his stuff is nastier than Wood’s. His fastball is firmer and
I’d expect he’ll get more strikeouts. But Wood has a higher likelihood
of reaching his ceiling—his season in Double-A can’t be ignored.

    Gary (Norfolk): Thanks, as always for your
    time. What kind of power potential are we talking with Derek Norris and
    does he project as a catcher? Also, given his tendency to both walk,
    strikeout and hit for power, is he a catcher's version of a Pat Burrell

J.J. Cooper: Norris’ was projected to have plus power
eventually and his breakout season is showing that he already is
putting that to use in game situations. As far as catching, the tools
are there to be an average defensive catcher, but he struggles to stay
focused behind the plate. His concentration lapses lead to mistakes
that he’ll have to eradicate and the question becomes whether his bat
will be good enough that the Nats will decide to move him off of
catcher rather than wait to see if the defense can catch up to the

    Alex Liddi's Clone (Sweating in the Desert):
    No love for me this week? Is it the CAL stigma that kept me off?
    Someone promote me please, so I can show you guys it's NOT just the

J.J. Cooper: Liddi was on the worksheet, but his week (.440/.462/.600) ranked below the hitters who made it.

    Daniel (Chicago): Is Zach Stewart a SP or a RP long-term? If he's put in the bullpen, could he be a closer?

J.J. Cooper: My guess is he’s a starter. He has three
pitches and he maintains his velocity. Starters are more valuable than
relievers and he’s shown he can do both. But then there is the question
of whether there will be a spot in the Reds rotation anytime soon. With
Bailey showing he may have figured it out, the Reds have Volquez,
Bailey, Arroyo, Cueto, Owings and Harang under contract for 2010

    Adam (Baltimore): Did Chris Heisey's name come
    up in the discussion? Would it be safe to guess that he would fall in
    the 51-100 somewhere? I know that he has gotten a lot of attention in
    the chats/features with BA which is awesome to see for a guy that was
    under the radar his entire career. If the season ended today, would he
    be in the talks for Minor League POY?

J.J. Cooper: Absolutely Adam, that’s where he would rank and he’s a significant candidate for Minor League Player of the Year.

    Dave (Troy,NY): Are the Phillies' Michael
    Taylor and Kyle Drabek considered high enough level prospects to get a
    Roy Holladay deal done and if so how likely would they be sought after
    by the Blue Jays in trade discussions? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: If the Phillies are willing to trade both
of them that seems like a very strong start to a deal. The Phillies
have a deep enough farm system to make a deal if they want to work
something out.

J.J. Cooper: Sorry will be right back doing a radio show.

    David Jenkins (Chattanooga): As much buzz as
    there's been about Heyward and Freeman among Braves fans, there seems
    to be nearly as much about Cody Johnson. Considering his age (20) and
    his apparent cutdown of his staggering strikeout numbers, is he rising
    appreciably as a power prospect?

J.J. Cooper: He’s definitely rising. I was asking a
scout about him this week who said he has come a long ways in figuring
things out. His raw power is better than Freeman or Heyward’s, but his
approach is still pretty raw. The jump to Double-A will be a big one
for him, as he’ll have to show he can continue to make adjustments, but
he’s gone a long way toward fixing what have been some pretty
significant holes in his game.

    Bill (Charleston WV): I know it's only low A
    ball, but Tony Sanchez has looked really good with the bat since he got
    here. Is it possible you guys could be wrong about his bat potential?
    Maybe selling him a little short?

J.J. Cooper: He’s been great so far. We definitely
could be wrong, as we’re not infallible by any means. The consensus
around baseball was that Sanchez’s bat was solid at best not
spectacular. A good first couple of weeks doesn’t change that
assessment yet (just like Ike Davis’ awful start to his pro career last
year didn’t mean it was time to write him off) but it’s been an
outstanding debut.

    Dan (Pennsylvania): If I want to listen to the Podcast from the Top 25 list where can I find it?

J.J. Cooper: It’s going up as soon as I finish this chat. I have to finish editing it and post it.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Mr. Badler just told us,
    his Twitter followers, to wish you a happy birthday. So, happy birthday
    to you, J.J. Care to reveal your age to the class?

J.J. Cooper: Thanks…I’m one of the old guard here at
BA as I’m turning 37. I know I’m getting older when I can say that I
covered Andruw Jones’ first year in full-season ball, and some of the
players I covered in the minors are now managing.

    Bubba Brown (Roy, Utah): What chance does
    Heyward have of keeping the top spot on the top prospects list at the
    beginning of next year if Strasburg does indeed sign with the Nationals.

J.J. Cooper: Slim to none. Heyward’s a great prospect,
but Strasburg is at another level. Now if Chapman also signs, that
would be a great throwdown, but I still expect Strasburg would be the
clear No. 1.

    Scott (Chicago): The Mariners just moved
    Yuniesky Betancourt to KC for pitchers Daniel Cortes and Derrick Saito.
    Do either project to anything? Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: We’ll have a much more detailed report
going up on the site, but Cortes is the bigger prospect of the two. He
has a plus fastball that’s been graded out as a 70 pitch at times,
although this year it seems more like a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting
scale and he has a curve that is plus at times as well. Command has
been a big problem this year and I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up as
a power arm out of the pen eventually, although the Mariners seem to be
well-stocked in that area already with Aumont, Fields and others. Saito
has a big arm for a little lefty. If everything works out he could
project as a lefty out of the pen.

    Christian (San Diego): Did you guys give much consideration to rookie league performances at this point? If so any guys catch your attention?

J.J. Cooper: A couple of guys made the worksheet this
week. Mike Trout had a very strong start to his career as an Angel
while Diamondbacks shortstop Brent Greer,a 14th-round pick out of
Western Carolina, had five home runs last week in the Northwest League.
And Terry Doyle, a former Boston College pitcher who was great in the
Cape and not so good at BC, had 23 strikeouts and one walk in 13
innings last week in the Pioneer League, although he is old for that

    Nick (Philadelphia): Can you please settle a
    bet for us? How good of a prospect is Jason Knapp? Based on the Top 25
    he seems like he'dbe number 4 in the Phillies organization. Better than
    Jason Donald and Lou Marson?

J.J. Cooper: That seems very fair. There’s always some
hesitation about putting a low Class A arm above guys on the cusp of
the big leagues, but Knapp’s ceiling is higher than either Marson or
Donald. He could end up being a pretty special arm.

    Ben (Ohio): I've heard that Adam Miller is out
    for the season, again. Will he ever stay healthy and reach his
    potential? Time is running out. Could you still put him on an Indians
    Top 10 Prospect list?

J.J. Cooper: I’m convinced that Adam Miller will be on
the Indians Top 30 forever. In 2020, he’ll likely rank No. 30. He’s the
Ryan Anderson of the 21st century.

    John (Ny): What is going on with Anthony Hewitt?

J.J. Cooper: He’s a raw hitter who will need time to
figure it out if he ever will. The Phillies knew that when they drafted
him, so they will be willing to be patient.

    Jason (Wilmington, DE): Thanks for the chat!
    I'm a huge O's fan and I love seeing all of their recent appearances in
    the Prospect Hot Sheet. That being said, in your estimation, what
    team(s) is likely to have the most dominating rotation 5 years from now?

J.J. Cooper: Five years from now is a long ways away.
The A’s should be pretty stacked considering all the young arms they
have already in the big leagues. The O’s should be good as well and the
Rangers have so many arms that it’s hard to believe they won’t find
several good starters out of the mass of prospects they have. But what
about the idea of Washington signing Aroldis Chapman. I’m not saying
that they will because it will cost a ton of money and they already
will be breaking the bank for Strasburg, but the idea of a
Chapman/Strasburg front end of a rotation throwing to Bryce Harper is
just too amazing to not dream about.

    JAYPERS (IL): Would the signing of Aroldis Chapman automatically make him that team's #1 overall prospect (save for the Nats)?

J.J. Cooper: I’d say yes if he doesn’t sign with the Nats, Braves or Marlins. With those three teams it would be a tough call.

J.J. Cooper: Sorry guys but I have to wrap this up so
I can get the podcast posted, get the Futures Games capsules up to
preview this weekend’s Christmas in July for prospect watchers and head
out of here for the weekend. Thanks for all the great questions and
definitely keep an eye on the site on Sunday. We’ll be blogging,
writing, podcasting and tweeting from the Futures Game.