League Top 20 Prospects

California League Chat

Q:  Kent from Sonoma, CA asks:
Will, Thank you for the chat. What is your assessment of the rest of the SJ starting staff from 2008 - do any of them have a high ceiling?

Will Lingo: Welcome to another great BA prospect chat everyone. The Adam Dunn of the BA lineup here for your entertainment. It's a gloomy afternoon in North Carolina, so let's crank up some Heartless Bastards (currently on tour!) and talk Cal League...

Will Lingo: Lots of pitchers came through San Jose this year. Alderson of course was in the top 10, and Henry Sosa we sort of threw out his season because he was hurt, even though he technically had enough innings to qualify for the list. The next guy on the staff who got the most interest was Kevin Pucetas, who can locate his fastball and has a good curveball but is seen as a No. 4 starter. Clayton Tanner's also pretty good, 86-91 but doesn't repeat his mechanics well enough. So several other decent guys, but definitely no one else on the level of Alderson.

 Q:  Roy Dixon from Seale Alabama asks:
What about Kasey kiker, Has he slipped in the eyes of scouts? What's the word on him this year?

Will Lingo: Mixed reviews on Kiker this year. Some saw him as a little lefty who can't command the ball well enough to succeed as he moves up, while others think he is better than he performed this year and will get to the big leagues. His performance this season certainly wasn't inspirational.

 Q:  MJ from Valpo asks:
What about Hank Conger? Was he close? His RBI/game ration had to be one of the best in the minors. He even did well in the AAA playoffs...so what's his status for next season?

Will Lingo: Not many questions about the bat; nearly everyone liked his power from both sides of the plate. But there are questions about whether he can stay healthy and whether he can catch. He played just 10 games in the field at Rancho (all at catcher), so his profile isn't quite as attractive if he's just a DH.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Could you tell us how close Mark Trumbo came to making this list, and what kept him off?

Will Lingo: Trumbo was in consideration, but didn't find anyone who was overly excited about him in spite of the power. He's a big, strong guy who likes the ball up, and he kills mistakes, but he's not a good athlete and looks clumsy around the bag at first base. He'll have to prove he can put up big numbers in a non-Cal League setting over a full season to win over skeptics.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Hi Will: Is Chris Carter going to be Jack Cust or can he be more than that?

Will Lingo: I think he'll be more than that. He has more athleticism and I haven't heard anyone say that he doesn't try on defense—just that he needs work. The knock on Cust in the minors was that he wasn't good on defense and had little interest in getting better. At least one manager said Carter could be a decent third baseman if he had a little bit more confidence in his defense, so he's not a lost cause. He is like Cust in that I think his bat will get him as many chances as he needs to get to the big leagues.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Evaluate Wes Roemer and Barry Enright, if you could. After Jarrod Parker, where would you rank these two on AZ's arms depth chart?

Will Lingo: Neither generated a lot of buzz in the Cal League this year, in spite of their workhorse roles for the Oaks. Enright rates ahead of Roemer, but most people still saw him as more of a No. 4 starter. Both are several notches below Parker.

 Q:  Orlando from Detroit asks:
No love for Aneury Rodriguez? Was he at least considered?

Will Lingo: No, he wasn't even considered. Sure, Rodriguez was one of about 15-20 guys you could argue for the last few spots on the list. He's a big guy with a deceptive delivery who knows how to sink and cut the ball. His stuff is pretty average—usually works at 88-89 mph with his fastball—but he still keeps hitters off balance and gets bad swings because of his deception. Throws a slow, downer breaking ball; changeup is a little bit flat and needs work.

 Q:  Randy from Sandusky, OH asks:
In 5 years' time, will Henry Rodriguez be the A's closer, or does Beane plan to keep him in the rotation?

Will Lingo: I don't know what Billy Beane's plans are, but I see him becoming a really good back of the bullpen guy, if not closing then certainly setting up for whoever the closer is.

 Q:  matt from fremont, ca asks:
How is Anderson not higher? A lefty that's 92-93 who throws strikes and has secondary stuff like his. His numbers would have been even better despite battling a thumb injury.

Will Lingo: Matt, are you asking this question for resident Brett Anderson apologist Jim Callis? He's No. 4, for goodness sake. He ranks behind Cahill because Cahill has the potential to pitch at the top of a big league rotation, while I see Anderson more as a No. 3 guy, or No. 2 at best. I suppose you could put him ahead of a switch-hitting catcher who can rake, or the Red Sox' future first baseman, but I think we still like Anderson an awful lot.

 Q:  Carl from Gilbert, AZ asks:
If these lists are about the best performers in the league, how can Chris Carter be below Reddick, Hunter (804 OPS), and Borbon (738 OPS)? Carter had 74 XBHs and 77 BBs - okay, he struck out in 26% of the time this season, but that didn't prevent Stanton from being the #3 prospect in the SAL.

Will Lingo: These lists are NOT about the best performers in the league. If so, you would have seen Daniel Nava in the top 10. These lists are about the best prospects in the league, taken in the context of how they performed in the league this season. Carter had a huge season and is a really intriguing guy, but because of the holes in his swing (you mentioned his SO numbers) and major defensive questions, he's a notch below some guys who have more well-rounded skills.

 Q:  paul from kent asks:
where is the love for Triunfel one of the youngest if not the youngest players in the league had a great second half showing he can make the changes needed during a long season.

Will Lingo: One of the most interesting players to talk about in this year's Cal League. If I had done the rankings strictly on the opinions of scouts and managers about his performance this season, Triunfel wouldn't have been in the top 30 Cal League prospects. We gave him the benefit of the doubt based on past scouting reports and the fact that he's just 18. But people not only hated his behavior (pouting, etc.), they also didn't see the tools this year, except for the plus arm. Even a scout who loved him last year and saw him when he was hot this year said "he is not going to achieve what I thought." Again, that doesn't mean Triunfel should be written off, but it definitely raises questions about him.

 Q:  Jimmy from Connecticut asks:
What have you heard about RHP Evan Scribner with Lake Elsinore? He had a good year numbers wise. Thanks

Will Lingo: Interesting guy. Probably no more than a set-up guy down the road, but people generally liked him. He throws in the low 90s, but his curveball is his best pitch. Not a guy to build around, but could be an interesting bullpen arm down the road.

 Q:  Cody from San Diego asks:
Nice to see Hunter and Kulbacki in the top 20 for the Storm. How close were Mitch Canham, Eric Sogard, Evan Scribner and Ernesto Frieri to the top 20 and how do they profile in the future?

Will Lingo: Padres fans turning out in droves for the Cal League chat! Of course, what the heck else do you have to do right now? We just talked about Scribner, Sogard is probably the only other guy who was close to top 20 consideration. His range improved at second base, he knows the strike zone and puts the ball in play, so he's got a chance. Canham's bat is OK but his defense is rough. Teams ran WILD on his this year. Random player to watch off that team: Brian Joynt.

 Q:  Dale from AR asks:
Was the CAL league super-loaded talent-wise to not have room for Corey Brown and Ryan Mount in the top-20? I figured those two would have made it—were they close? What's their prospect status?

Will Lingo: Yeah, both those guys were close. Mount looks like he could be an offensive second baseman based on this season, but there just weren't enough believers in his bat going forward—a borderline guy for most people. Brown was probably a little closer. He can put a charge in the ball but also strikes out a lot and can look pretty bad against breaking balls. Basically a good pitcher isn't going to give him what he wants and can get him out. He's a decent defender; not great range but enough arm.

 Q:  Bill from Boston asks:
Hi Will, Did scouts see enough progress in Jason Place this year to project him as a major leaguer? Also, anything to say about ss Navarro who was up to 390 at one point?

Will Lingo: Place got decent reviews but nothing special. Good tools but swings and misses too much. If you're looking for something out of that next level of Cal League outfielders, can I interest you in Mike McBryde of San Jose? He's like Jason Place only better. Great speed—a reported 3.85 seconds down the line—a great arm, outstanding defense, shows power. If he gets more consistent with the bat he'll be a big leaguer.

 Q:  Kris from Ft Worth asks:
If Borbon was ranked in the Cal League then where is Jose Vallejo? It has been said on a particular Rangers fan board that Vallejo might be the best of all the young Rangers infielders in the minors. Your thoughts on Vallejo?

Will Lingo: Vallejo is a plus runner and is a potential impact player, and one manager said he could be a Jose Reyes type. Of course, the same manager said he's not fundamentally sound, so he still needs some polish. He needs to walk more and won't show as much power as he did in the Cal League going forward.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
I'm really excited about Greg Halman. What is his upside, where will he rank in Seattle's Top 10, and what is his ETA? Thanks.

Will Lingo: I think you have reason to be excited. He's got as much upside as almost anyone in the minors. I won't try to scoop Matt Eddy's Mariners Top 10, but I will say that based on what I heard in the Cal League I would definitely rank Halman ahead of Triunfel. Having said that, I think it's important the Mariners don't rush him. Even the people that loved Halman said he needs at-bats, so I would give him at least one more full season in the minors.

 Q:  Boutros from NYC asks:
Am I right to think that the California League was unbelievably deep this year? Sandoval only at #7, Donaldson as far down as #20 — great year for talent, yes?

Will Lingo: Great year for depth of talent, yes. I didn't see a lot of guys I would classify as can't-miss stars, but there were lots and lots of players who you could have justified putting anywhere from 8-20.

 Q:  Harry from Trenton asks:
Where does Matt Sulentic fit within a loaded A's system? Is his hitting still as good as when he was drafted? How about his defense?

Will Lingo: There are those who felt like Sulentic got overlooked a bit in the A's system this year. He usually batted at the bottom of the order for Stockton, but he put together a nice season. He has hit tools, with a good swing and the ability to drive the ball out of the park. He's also a solid defender, so he should still have a place in the prospect firmament.

 Q:  Dave from Alabama asks:
How does Josh Donaldson make the top 20 in the Cal League but not in the Midwest League? I know he got owned in the MWL (saw him play quite a bit) but as we all know prospect status is not based on performance... so would he have still made the list if he would not have hit in the Cal League?

Will Lingo: Prospect status is not based solely on performance, but performance has to play a role. And Donaldson stunk in the MWL. His poor performance is explainable, but in a league as big as the Midwest, if a guy is that bad then it's easy to find other guys to highlight from the league in a particular year. I happen to know the guy who wrote up that MWL prospect list, and I know he likes Donaldson.

 Q:  Phil from Tempe, AZ asks:
Will - why should I take this list seriously? Is it a top prospect list or a league's top performance list? If its a prospect list, that would explain the inclusion of Triunfel - because certainly his 750 OPS wasn't a top performance. If its a league performance list, why are slap hitters like Hunter and Borbon ahead of Carter? If this list is about CAL League performance, then how can Cedric Hunter and Julio Borbon be ahead of the league's top power hitting threat Chris Carter? Not to mention when the best power hitter in the league is ranked behind two slap hitters (Hunter/Borbon) and just ahead of an attitude-filled Triunfel?

Will Lingo: Wow, I'm sensing anger there, Phil. A BA prospect list is everything you mentioned: there's a player's potential to consider, as well as how he performed in the league. We try to balance it all and line the guys up based on what we've learned from talking to people who have watched the league all season. And power is not the only tool there is. Both Hunter and Borbon could (quite literally) run circles around Carter in the field, and both could end up as better all-around offensive players. So you should take it seriously because we take it seriously, and we try to blend all these different points of view into a balanced list.

 Q:  Tim from Proctorville, Ohio asks:
With the poor walk rate, but still a strong OBP, can Julio Borbon be a top-notch leadoff hitter?

Will Lingo: An hour and a half and I haven't made a dent in the giant pile of Cal League questions! Time to shift to the lightning round until it's time to go pick up my daughter.

Will Lingo: Quite honestly, I have my doubts. Should be a big leaguer, but top notch? We'll see.

 Q:  Hank from Huntington Beach asks:
Hey, what does a .300-hitting, 20-year-old, switch-hitting catcher with power have to do to get on your list? Go to AA and mash in the Texas League playoffs? Oh, wait - I did that. Santana, Shmantana... when I'm 22, I'll be playing in Anaheim.

Will Lingo: I think we've already addressed Hank Conger, but this is the Holly Farms Question of the Chat.

 Q:  Paul from Seattle asks:
Is Kulbacki's age the biggest factor in why he is so low on the list or is the a bigger reason?

Will Lingo: No, questions about whether he can continue to hit this well against better pitching.

 Q:  tom from nc asks:
hOw close was Austin Gallagher, and what is the scouting report on him? could he be LA's 3b of the future?

Will Lingo: He's the kind of guy a lot of people mentioned as a solid prospect but no one was super-excited about. A lot of people think he'll have to move off third.

 Q:  Candice from New York, NY asks:
Hi, did Jordan Walden slip down a notch with his rankings of 12 and 13 in the CAL and MWL respectively? The stuff is clearly there...what seems to be the issue? Mechanics?

Will Lingo: Great arm, one of the best in the league, just needs a lot of polish. Repeating his mechanics would be one of the big issues.

 Q:  Cedric Hunter from San Diego, CA asks:
How high is my ceiling? You guys seem quite pessimistic despite a big season and step forward, albeit in the California League. Do I have superstar potential? Is it just a matter of liklihood of reaching an uber-high ceiling?

Will Lingo: Did that read pessimistic? I am actually optimistic after this season, but there are holes in your game. Superstar potential, but more likely to be an above-average regular.

 Q:  Zack from Ft Worth asks:
Thoughts on Johnny Whittleman?

Will Lingo: Not gonna happen.

 Q:  Steve from ATL asks:
How close were Sox farm kids Yamaico Navarro, Argenis Diaz, Richie Lentz or Daniel Nava? Was anyone else in consideration? Thanks

Will Lingo: Navarro and Diaz are both interesting players, Navarro drew a Miguel Tejada comp for his bat, so they're worth watching. Nava is a nice hitter and did a great job of earning his playing time, but he's old and just comes up a little short on all counts. Lentz is an interesting power arm, 95-96 out of the bullpen.

 Q:  Vern from Oakland asks:
Peter Bourjos had a very fine season, without much fanfare. Take away the one rough stretch after the All-Star break, and he had as good as stats as any CAL prospect. BA has always said his bat needs work—what more can a leadoff man do? He hit .295 w/a .450 SLG!!! His career average is pretty high, too. How does LA see him in their plans?

Will Lingo: You mean that stretch where his average dropped 60 points over six weeks? Yes, that was a bit of a rough patch. Great tools if the bat plays at higher levels.

 Q:  Alex from Atlanta asks:
Shane Lindsay finally made it back to the mound this year. Did he showcase the same electric stuff as before, and will he ever stay healthy?

Will Lingo: Great guy to ask about. Still has power, power stuff up to 98, possibly even more velo than before he got hurt, and a power curve. Health will continue to be a question. Another interesting power arm on that Modesto staff is David Patton, similar stuff to Lindsay with a better breaking ball.

 Q:  Eric from PA asks:
Does Carlos Santana have All-Star potential? He seems to have shot out of nowhere.

Will Lingo: Yes he does.

 Q:  T from DA BURGH asks:
Who has more power Chris Carter or Mike Stanton?

Will Lingo: People in the Cal League said Carter hits ball as hard as anyone alive, so I'll go with him.

Will Lingo: I wish I could go on, but got to wrap it up. Thanks for all the great questions, and we'll see you tomorrow for the Carolina League.