Prospects Chat With J.J. Cooper

Moderator: J.J. Cooper will chat about prospects beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by.

    JAYPERS (IL): Did either Alfredo Figaro or
    Simon Castro get consideration this week, considering the impressive
    starts both had? Why or why not?

J.J. Cooper: Both were on the short list and both had
very good weeks. (Figaro (10 K, 1 BB, 2 ER in 7.1 IP) has shown flashes
like he showed this week, but there’s still some inconsistency there.
That and his struggles against lefties are reasons there are still some
thought that he could end up in the pen.

    JAYPERS (IL): Josh Thole has been very
    consistent thus far this season. Is he in your Mets' Top 10 prospects
    list if you had to put one together today?

J.J. Cooper: I couldn’t put him in my personal Top 10
yet because I’m still worried about where he plays in the big leagues.
On the one hand, the man can hit, and that’s the most important tool
there is. But on the other, there are still concerns about where he’ll
play in the big leagues. He ranks near the bottom of the Eastern League
in caught stealing percentage (31.5 percent) and he’s still working on
framing pitches. If he can’t catch well enough to be an everyday
catcher, he doesn’t really have a clear full-time position. He doesn’t
have the power (one home run this year with a career high of five) to
play first base, especially for a big-market team like the Mets, and
he’s too slow to be an outfielder. He may end up as a very useful lefty
hitting backup catcher who can play some first, but his lack of a
profile means he still has an uphill battle for a starting job.

    Alex (Dallas): No love for David Lough?

J.J. Cooper: Lough was on the “short list” we put
together going into the meeting, but he just barely missed the photo.
If you’re looking at Royals outfield prospects, he’s the one having the
most promising season

    Michael (Kansas City): Who would you want in the long run. Tim Melville or Mike Montgomery?

J.J. Cooper: I had Melville ahead of Montgomery heading into the season and I haven’t seen anything yet to change that.

    Ryan (Charlottesville, VA): What's your take
    on Brandon Snyder's promotion to AAA? He's had a great first half
    coming off of a solid year at Frederick. Does he fit as a quality ML 1B
    for the O's?

J.J. Cooper: I can’t think of many prospects who have
done more to help themselves this year than Snyder. Health has always
been Snyder’s biggest question, but that hasn’t been an problem this
year. He’s definitely the best in-house option for a long-term 1B.

    Greg K (The 'Nati): I'm surprised not to see
    Homer Bailey on the Hot Sheet. Ever since learning a split-finger pitch
    a few weeks ago, he's been unhittable. Or is he not considered a
    "prospect" anymore since he's pitched too much to be considered a
    rookie anymore?

J.J. Cooper: He’s no longer eligible as he’s thrown
more than 50 big league innings, but yeah a 3-0, 0.29 June is very
solid. However, he has to shown better fastball command in his next big
league stint, which has been a problem whenever he’s gone up to

    Andrew (Evanston): Take your pick: Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta or Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Detwiler?

J.J. Cooper: I’ll take the O’s even if Strasburg is
clearly the No. 1 prospect of those six. But I’d rather have the O’s
depth, and that’s only looking at those three—that’s not counting
Patton, Bergesen, Hernandez etc for the O’s.

    Greg (The 'Nati): Who is the Reds left fielder
    of the future - Frazier, Heisey, or Votto (once Alonso is ready for
    1B)? Why are the Reds using Frazier exclusively in LF at AA when there
    is such a gaping hole at 3B at the major league level?

J.J. Cooper: Very good question that I can’t really
fully figure out. The Reds are going to have to make a trade at some
point, as in two years they could have five guys (Stubbs, Heisey,
Frazier, Dickerson and Votto if they are willing to move him) to play
two positions with Bruce in right. I can’t really explain the decision
on Frazier, as Juan Francisco’s raw approach means he’s quite a ways
from the big leagues, and Frazier seems able to handle the position.

    Tom (Frisco): Smoak, Yonder or Hosmer?

J.J. Cooper: Smoak, but that’s a good group all the way around.

    Tom (Rye, NY): Assuming Strasburg and Ackley
    don't sign until the deadline, what is a realistic time table on both
    of them reaching the big leagues?

J.J. Cooper: For Strasburg, the day he’s stretched
back out after the layoff sound good? As far as Ackley, usually hitters
need some minor league time, but Ackley is one of the most polished
college hitters to come out in a while, so it wouldn’t shock me if he
was up by the middle of next year. The big complicating factor that
could slow him down is his defensive position. If he’s moved to center
field he may need a little while to master the new position.

    Travis (Omak, WA): Will a Mariner ever make it into the top 13 of the prospect hot sheet this season?

J.J. Cooper: Tyson Gillies came close this week and Alex Liddi was on the radar, but it has been a rough year for Mariners prospects.

    Razor Ramone (Miami): What is going on with
    Greg Halman? He has awesome power and speed but no contact. Do you
    think he will adjust or has he been exposed?

J.J. Cooper: That swing looks awfully long and his
approach leaves a lot to be desired. I’d go with exposed for now. He
may make adjustments, but it’s going to require he tighten up his
swing. That being said, he’s better than what he’s shown up to now this
year. I wonder if his struggles in the World Baseball Classic sapped
some of his confidence and that’s carried over into the season.

    Daniel (Chicago): So, what is the deal with
    Thomas Neal? Could he always hit for this much power or is this new?
    Does he hit enough to be a major league 1B?

J.J. Cooper: He’s always had outstanding raw power.
His 15 home runs in Augusta last year was a pretty solid season.
Hitting in the California League is a good way to build up some
numbers, but he does have some of the best power in the Giants system
and he could be a major league 1B down the road. But he needs to stick
in the outfield if he’s going to stick with the Giants—Big V will be
the long-term first baseman.

    John (Maine): 5 years from now: Cahill or Ynoa?

J.J. Cooper: I’ll take Cahill because there are just
so many unknowns with Ynoa. Ynoa has a better upside, but Cahill’s
likelihood of being a solid big league in five years is so much more
likely that I think you have to go with Cahill.

    Joe (SF): Will Kevin Pucetas ever be consider a prospect?

J.J. Cooper: You’re talking to a member of the Pucetas
fan club, If you get the Baseball America Prospect Report (and if you
don’t why not? It’s free and it’s useful. In your e-mail inbox every
weekday morning before 8 a.m.), I throw Pucetas’ comments in there all
the time. He’s never going to blow anyone away with his stuff, but he’s
shown level after level that he knows how to pitch, which considering
that he’s already doing it at Triple-A, makes him somewhat of a

    Kyle (Fort Lauderdale): JJ,
    Where was Cam Maybin? He was 9 of 15 with 2 doubles a triple and 3 walks?
    He is still a prospect, right?

J.J. Cooper: Nope, he has 165 big league at-bats, so
he’s no longer a prospect…he’s now a young still promising ex-big
leaguer who needs to make some refinements to his approach.

    4 question in 15 minutes?!?!? (You are no Callis!): More questions answered please!!!

J.J. Cooper: Callis is also much more up on 24 than I am, but I am a better Steelers fan than him.

    Bob (Boston): No Lars Anderson, really? He's hitting .346 in June.

J.J. Cooper: Yes, really. Nice week, but no extra base
hits this week (and none since June 7) meant he wasn’t really that
close to making the Sheet.

    Shoshana (NC): Xavier Avery doesn't even crack
    the team photo of last week's 2008 hot sheet? Am I missing something? I
    know he had a lot of strikeouts but he's really cut down on them lately.

J.J. Cooper: He hasn’t really cut down on them in fact
it’s going the other way, he’s struck out in 44 percent of his at-bats
over the past week (13 of 29) after striking out in 24 percent of his
at-bats this season. If you’re going on production, which is what we
were going on for last year’s 2008 draftee Hot Sheet he wasn’t really
close. A .279/.329/.376 line doesn’t really make much of an argument,
even if you have 17 steals (but also 8 caught). He’s a raw prospect, so
it’s hard to expect much more out of him yet, but his potential is more
promising than his production right now.

    Mister ((Death Valley)): How can we get your Prospect Report?

J.J. Cooper: A question I’m happy to answer. Go to and sign up for the Baseball
America Prospect Report. We send out an e-mail with the stats and
comments on the top prospect performers from the night before every
weekday morning.

    Jack Bauer (We'll see): Where's Ike Davis? He
    hit .333 with 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 BB and only 3 K. He's leading the Florida
    State League in XBH and Total Bases and is near the top of the
    leaderboard in just about every stat. Where's the love?

J.J. Cooper: Dropping 24 references won’t work on me
like it will on Callis—try Top Gear references for me, but I’ll answer
anyway. Ike was on the short list this week, although he was a little
ways from making the photo. But he’s having a very solid year and has
done a good job of putting last year’s putrid start behind him. But he
is a good example of how it’s worth remembering when some first or
second-round pick goes out and stinks up the joint in short-season ball
this year that it isn’t time to write them off. Prospects can be gassed
or otherwise struggle in their first pro season, just ask Chipper Jones.

    Michael (West of the Berkshires?): Have you EVER gotten a question from someone in Boston in any of these chats that wasn't totally myopic about the Sawks?

J.J. Cooper: We get good Red Sox questions and not so
good, and the same for the Yankees, Mets, Royals and Rays. Fans for
most teams are more focused on their team than the big picture, that’s
to be expected. Usually it either goes that way or you also have fans
of teams with barren systems that are completely fatalistic about their
team—see many Expos/Nats fans of this decade. The only difference is
that Red Sox and Yankees fans seem to be the two sets that like to
battle about how the other team’s fans questions are dumber than their

    Ryan (PA): Thanks for the chat! Any thought of
    Trevor May for the helium watch? 8K's through 3.2IP is pretty
    impressive, even though he was a little wild. Also what is the scouting
    report on him?

J.J. Cooper: Thanks for the questions Ryan. As of yet,
no helium for May. When you see a question say “even though he was a
little wild” what that usually translates into is “he couldn’t find the
strike zone with a GPS.” And that’s been the case for May up to now in
his one start. Five walks, one hit batter and three wild pitches in
three and two third innings means he has some command issues to work
through. He has plus stuff and we’re keeping an eye on him, but Sally
League batters better not dig in to much when facing him right now.

    Rob Howe (Iowa City, Iowa): Michael Stanton or Desmond Jennings?

J.J. Cooper: I’ll go Stanton, but that’s a great pair
to choose between. That’s like choosing between Stephen Strasburg or
Bryce Harper, a Drover bone-in ribeye or Lo Sole Mio pasta in Omaha, a
chance to go to Cooperstown or spring training or … you get the

    Mike (San Diego): With the complex and ss
    leagues opening, if you had to guess on a few guys who are likely to
    open hot and show up in next week's list, who would it be? Does the
    list/team photo expand with all the additional guys playing?

J.J. Cooper: We don’t expand it, it just ups the
competition to make the list. If we had infinite time we’d love to bump
it up to a Hot Sheet Top 20 and a 20-man team photo, but the time it
takes to gather the stats, pick the list and then write them up already
makes it tough to get this out to you in a timely fashion—we aim to
have it up by 1 p.m. Adding more players would make this something that
would be going up not long before people on the East Coast are heading
home for the weekend.

    Brian (FL): Isn't it getting to be time for
    Futures Game rosters to be announced soon? How about a sneak preview?
    Anyone you are especially looking forward to seeing?

J.J. Cooper: Be looking for that announcement next
week I believe. I haven’t seen the final rosters so I’m not much help
on a sneak preview, but I hope Mike Stanton makes it because his BP
could be….wait for it …. legendary.

J.J. Cooper: I have a ton of good questions left but I
need to write up a Chris Heisey feature for the next issue before
heading home to watch the College World Series. I hope you all have a
great weekend.