League Top 20 Prospects

GCL Top 20 Prospects Chat With Nathan Rode

    JAYPERS (IL): Could I get your thoughts on Wes Freeman so far? He was billed as having potential 5-tool ability when drafted. What are scouts telling you about him lately?

Nathan Rode: Greetings everyone and thanks for coming out for a GCL prospects chat. I'll try to get to as many questions as I can. Freeman is a physical specimen and was definitely considered. As a second-year pro you would hope for better numbers but has some tools. He has a good arm and shows some pop. He can handle center field but is likely headed to a corner. He just needs to develop some consistency in his swing. His load and timing are off which obviously makes it difficult to hit. If he can figure that out, then he has some promising potential.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Which of the names on this list do you see rising through his farm system the fastest, and why?

Nathan Rode: Brewer would be an easy answer for this just because of his age. Injuries have held him back so if he can stay healthy his stuff should move him along. Hermsen's command is a good attribute that might help him along. Just remember that this is the GCL. Most of these guys have a long way to go.

    Paul (FL): Where can we find a schedule of BA's League Top 20 lists? I figured the AZL would have been the first one to have been covered, as was the case last year. Thanks!

Nathan Rode: It should be posted soon. Bill Mitchell will be chatting on the AZL tomorrow. We switched days because I'll be out of the office tomorrow.

    KaneCoKeith (Chicago,IL): What can you tell me about Oswaldo Arcia, the OF for the Twins, and how close was he to making the list?

Nathan Rode: Arcia was actually a very, very late cut. I had written him up for the list but we wanted to bring a guy in late and it cost Arcia a spot. He's a switch-hitter with a strong frame. He showed power from both sides and had great plate discipline (18-15 strikeout-walk). He's a prospect for right field with his power and plus arm. He's an average runner but fearless on the bases and did sometimes run himself into outs this season.

    Gerry (Toronto): Were any Blue Jays close? Carlos Perez had a good year, and Gustavo Pierre was a big bonus signing, were they mentioned.

Nathan Rode: Well, Carlos Perez checked in at No. 5 thanks to his defense and contact ability. Gustavo Pierre is very raw, but has some tools. Pierre needs to gain experience and obviously work on plate discipline. He struck out 45 times while walking just three.

    Fred (Ohio): Hi- Is Gift Ngoepe a prospect or simply a great story? Thanks!

Nathan Rode: I was really hoping someone would ask about Ngoepe. He is certainly a great story. He gets bonus points from me because he was pictured in that Sports Illustrated article reading an issue of Baseball America. As a prospect, Ngoepe is interesting but certainly needs work. He showed a lot of ability defensively and would be above average at second base. Offensively he just needs a lot of time. He is inexperienced being from South Africa and just needs to gain experience by playing in the U.S. It would be great if he developed into a good prospect but the bat needs work.

    Hector (Orlando): Did Enrique Hernandez get consideration? I sa him play this summer and he raked

Nathan Rode: Hernandez did get some consideration. There are lot of questions in the queue about why a certain player didn't make it. Mostly, it comes down to there are 16 teams in the league and only 20 spots. A lot of talented players were left off the list. Hernandez is one of them. Overall he's raw but he's a high-energy guy. He projects as an offensive middle infielder. He can handle short but lacks the range to play there every day. He has an above average arm and would be a good defender at second base. He's more of a doubles guy than home run power but can make good, hard contact.

    Steve (Omaha): How good was Hobgood in your views?

Nathan Rode: Hobgood didn't play in this league. Check back with Matt Eddy on Friday for the Appy League list.

    Dale Berra's Stash (Pittsburgh): Where would some of the Pirates above-slot HS pitcher draftees have ranked, if eligible —- Zack Von Rosenburg, Colton Cain, and Trent Stevenson?

Nathan Rode: There's a couple question about the Pirates high school signees. The Buccos took a lot of heat for taking Sanchez so early, but looking back I liked some of their later picks. I'm a big fan of the German Assassin (aka ZVR, check out a story on him from the spring: http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/high-school/high-heat/2009/268287.html). He would have made the Top 10 if he qualified. He is very polished for a high school arm and should really move along now that he can concentrate on pitching instead of playing shortstop on off days. Cain is interesting. He's a big-bodied guy that actually was considered as a first baseman in the draft. Stevenson has a very tall, thin frame. He was 87-92 this summer and is learning a changeup. Had they qualified all three would have likely made the Top 20.

    Dave (San Diego): I have four kids that I watched as they grew up and I believe they were all in this league. Could you let me know how Giovanni Mier, David Nick, Nolan Arenado, and Tyler Bighames all did and what their projections are in the future.

Nathan Rode: Only Bighames was in this league and he had a tough year (.216/.300/.330), but was only a 31st rounder. Check back on Friday with Matt Eddy's Appy League chat for Jio Mier and then on Monday for his Pioneer chat for David Nick and Nolan Arenado.

    David Stoner (Atlanta, GA): Why is so much emphasis NOT put on numbers that guys produce at lower levels? I know it's a delicate balance between projection and production, but if a guy can't produce at lower levels, is it realistic that he'll produce at higher levels? I have a tough time buying into a guy like Pedro Baez a couple years ago when he couldn't produce in the GCL (the scouting reports on him were endearing)...but I'll take my chances on a guy like Adrian Salcedo any day, as he's dominated the GCL to the tune of a 20:1 K/BB ratio, as well as a 1.00 WHIP. What are your thoughts - do you rely more on the scouts' opinions, or do you take players' production into consideration?

Nathan Rode: This is too good to pass up. One of our photographers getting in on the action. When we're talking about production at low levels I see your argument for levels like Low A and High A. With the Gulf Coast League a lot of these guys are first-year pros or still very young. They're getting used to the speed of the game and sometimes adjusting to wood bats. I'll take my chances on Salcedo as well, but I'll also rely on projection for guys this young. In 1992 a young man from Kalamazoo, Mich. hit .202/.281/.312 in 47 games for the GCL Yankees. He now has four rings and passed Lou Gehrig as all-time hits leader for the Yankees. I'll be concerned about lack of production in the full season leagues, rather than the Gulf Coast League.

    matt (philly, pa): Your thoughts on 2 prospects; Marlon Mitchell and Daniel Santana. thanx

Nathan Rode: I saw Marlon Mitchell at the Tournament of Stars in 2008 and liked him. Thought he was a solid catcher that would do well in college. I was very surprised (and disappointed) when he signed as I would not be able to see him at NC State. Santana is interesting and was considered for the back end of the list. He really improved this year and showed plus range with a plus plus arm. He has a little pop but is more of a gap to gap guy that would fit at the top of a lineup. He's a switch hitter and was clocked at 3.6-3.7 down the line on drag bunts from the left side. That's pretty fast. However he can be a little over aggressive at times.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): It's great to see the league top 20s start to emerge! I've heard good things about Brandon King. Was he close to making the list?

Nathan Rode: The Nationals really like him. He wasn't real close but he's interesting. I've actually know about him for a while. I grew up about 30 minutes from his high school, albeit I'm several years older, and his high school coach grew up with my high school coach. Kind of like a six degrees of separation thing. Anyway, he was mostly 87-88 this year and flashed 90. He has a mid-70s breaking ball that he can throw for strikes and he has a good changeup. He was a very early Tennessee commit but opted to sign when he decided against becoming a "proud vol".

    Brian Daniels (Water Logged Georgia): Nathan, Greetings from Waterworld (or so it feels). My question is about Betancourt, De Leon, and Hood, do all three of these prospects make a leap to full season ball next year?

Nathan Rode: I don't think it's out of the question but that's going to depend a lot on how they show up at Spring Training. If they are in shape and perform well then there's an argument for it. But the GCL to a full season league is a considerable jump so I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these guys go to extended then end up in short-season ball.

    Brandon (Charleston, WV): Did Harold Johnson or Juan Silva get any consideration?

Nathan Rode: Both got considerable consideration but it again came down to lots of good candidates for very few spots. Johnson is a big righty with an average to above fastball. He showed good command with a potential average breaking ball and changeup. Silva had a very good year after struggling in high school events. He can run and has a good arm. He shifted from right to center once Yorman Rodriguez was promoted.

    Joseph (Fort Worth, TX): I thought it was interesting that there wasn't a single lefty on the list, and I was curious if there were any that came close? Thanks for the chat Nathan.

Nathan Rode: That is interesting. Manny Rivera had a great season. He showed good feel for a changeup and was stingy in giving up hits. Danny Rosenbaum was 88-89 but touched 92 with a good curve and change.

    Gary Karp (wilmington, de): The Phillies had the most prospects on your Gulf Coast top 20 list besides Marlon Mitchell who you have already talked about are there any prospects that show promise or excite you from that Phillies team?

Nathan Rode: Kelly Dugan didn't have a great year but the Phillies spent their top pick on him in 2009. He has some power and is a decent runner. Kyrell Hudson has some tools but there were some makeup questions in high school. I would keep an eye on those two. Hudson didn't qualify for the list. Brody Colvin made only one appearance but he's certainly worth noting. He has a quick arm and can run his fastball up to 94.

    Fred (Ohio): What did scouts think of the two Indian pitchers the Pirates signed.

Nathan Rode: They're good stories of course. The lefty, Singh, has more projection and shows some arm strength. They both have a lot of learning to do as they never previously played baseball. Singh's fastball ranged from 80-87 so one would think that he can get up to the high 80s if he's adding strength and learning to harness it.

    Nate (North Carolina): Not really much of a prospect, but what did you think of Lance Niekro's conversion? If you had to put a percent chance on his reaching the majors as a pitcher, where would it fall? I can't imagine it's more than 5% right now, but he's a nice story.

Nathan Rode: Nice story yes, but from talking to managers he sounds like any other knuckleballer. If it's on, it can be good. But it wasn't on much. I'm with you on the percentage. I'll cheer for him, but won't get my hopes up.

    Titus (Blackwell St.): Speaking of the 2008 Tournament Of Stars Alumni, whats your take on all names 1st teamer Brooks Pounders?

Nathan Rode: Blackwell St. eh? Sounds familiar. To answer your question Sir Titus, he doesn't offer the velo I'd expect out of that kind of frame. When I saw him in Jupiter in the fall he flashed a couple 94s in his first inning, but was 87-88 afterward so I don't think we're going to see much more than what the report says. Scouts did like his secondary stuff in high school and it sounds like it rang true in his stint this summer. I'll hold off on passing judgment until we see a little more. But it is a pretty good baseball name isn't it?

    Gary (Columbus, OH): Juan Duran had an abysmal year statistically. Were the scouting reports on him any better than his numbers?

Nathan Rode: Duran is very raw. When he signed he was 6-foot-5. I had one manager tell me he's up to 6-foot-7 and another said he wouldn't be surprised if he's taller than that. He has above average raw power and a good arm. His height may end up relegating him to first base but he'll be allowed to roam a corner outfield spot for now. There are some holes in his swing and he'll obviously have some extra work to cut it down with that huge frame.

    Nate (North Carolina): What do you guys expect from Billy Hamilton in 2010? Will he repeat the GCL, or could the Reds push him a level?

Nathan Rode: He's learning to switch-hit and needs to gain experience after being a two-way guy in high school. I believe he'll get some work in extended and then maybe head to the Pioneer League if he doesn't repeat. I'd be extremely surprised if they pushed him any further than that.

Nathan Rode: Ok folks, that's going to do it for me today. I've got to get going on some Blue Jays calls for the Top 30. Great questions as always. Tune in tomorrow to talk about the Arizona League.