League Top 20 Prospects

New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Aaron Fitt answered questions about the NYP

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the New York-Penn League beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

    Matt (Austin, Tx): I noticed that LHP Mark Cohoon had a pretty solid campaign this season for Brooklyn. Was he close to making the cut?

Aaron Fitt: Hello everyone, welcome to the Penn League chat. Let's get to it. Cohoon had a great year thanks to his advanced feel for pitching, a skill that often translates into success at this level. His stuff is not overpowering — he's an 86-89 guy — but he has a very good changeup and the ability to throw his breaking ball to lefties and righties alike. He's definitely someone to keep an eye on, but I don't see a lot of upside.

    JAYPERS (IL): Could I get your impressions of Zach Collier after his first pro season? What specific factors led to his poor showing this year? Would you consider him an overdraft by the Phils?

Aaron Fitt: It's certainly too early to give up on Collier. He has a high ceiling — power potential, speed, and the tools to be a good defender. He really wasn't an overdraft; in fact, the Phillies got a decent value on him in the supplemental round relative to his perceived value, as there was some interest in him in the mid-first round. But yes, he struggled this year. He really just needs to become more consistent with his approach and improve his plate discipline. He's very much a free-swinger at this stage. The Phillies probably never expected him to fly through the system, but he hit very well as a high school senior and I'm sure they expected better results to this point in his career.

    Dale (Fayetteville): What does the future look like for Dallas Keuchel (Astros)?

Aaron Fitt: Keuchel is similar to Cohoon — both are lefties without overpowering stuff who rely on their moxie. Keuchel worked in the 84-88 range this summer but moved his fastball in and out, up and down. It does play up because of its life, and he's got a great changeup, but his breaking ball is fringy. I love his competitiveness, however, and I think he could find a home in the bullpen because of his aggressive mentality if he doesn't stick as a starter.

    jose (san diego): Exactly what do you think Hewitts potential is or will be? And how long will it take him to reach it? How many years away? And is he a top 10 for the phillies this year? Thanx

Aaron Fitt: His potential is enormous — there aren't too many guys out there with 70 raw power, 65 speed and 70 arm strength. He's built like Ron Gant, but he has a better arm. I think, first of all, that the Phillies need to give up on the infield experiment and move him to the outfield, where seemingly everybody thinks he's going to wind up. He's got enough work to do on his offensive game without having to worry about learning third base too, when there's very little chance he sticks at third — he just doesn't have infield actions or infield instincts. Hewitt is just a classic high risk, high reward prospect. He's still extremely raw, and it's going to take him a lot of time to work his way through the minors. But if he figures it out, he could be very, very good.

    Andrew (York, PA): How close was Tri-City's J.D. Martinez to making the list? We didn't hear much about him this season, but he absolutely raked from start to finish—what kept him out of the top 20?

Aaron Fitt: Martinez can really hit — he has a good short stroke, plenty of bat speed and an aggressive approach. But he was a 22-year-old DH/left fielder (and not a good left fielder) in the NY-P. He just doesn't profile very well, so he's going to have to hit like crazy at every level. Of course, I left Adam Lind off this list for similar reasons five years ago, and he's hit his way to the big leagues and become a valuable player for the Blue Jays. But I don't think Martinez has the kind of impact bat that Lind has.

    Gerry (Toronto): No Doubeldays on the list. Was Wellinton Ramirez anyway close? Ochinko and Gomes look like experienced sluggers without a position.

Aaron Fitt: Ramirez was very close — he was No. 21, in fact. Welinton got plenty of support from league managers and from one scout I spoke with, but I'm just not sold on his profile. He spent five full years in Rookie ball, including four years in the DSL, which is a bit of a red flag for me. He was a bit old for the Penn League at 22, and he's a corner outfielder who has never hit for power at any level, though he has bat speed and some evaluators project some pop. But I want to see some of those doubles start to translate into home runs before I'm buying. The Blue Jays don't have a very good track record in recent years when it comes to developing homegrown international players. I also like Ryan Goins and Ryan Schimpf. Both had standout college careers, and both are stronger than you'd think given their smallish statures. Goins is a better infielder and has a chance to carve out a nice career as a utilityman or maybe even a starting second baseman; he has a nice compact stroke and is a good runner. Schimpf has more offensive potential but must improve at second base. I think he's got a chance though — he has the tools to play the infield, he just needs to become more consistent. As for the catchers, both have some power potential (though Gomes has yet to really tap into his). Gomes is a good receiver who had some throwing problems this summer. Ochinko isn't as good defensively, and I think he might wind up at first base, where he played most of this spring for LSU. I like Gomes a bit better because of his defensive edge.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Which of these 20 players do you see making it to the Majors first and why?

Aaron Fitt: I could really see Kipnis flying through the minors. He's a very mature hitter with an advanced approach and a clean swing. He's pretty polished in all phases of his game. As for the pitchers, I suspect Alex Wilson could move pretty quickly in a relief role, and Adam Warren should have little trouble continuing his domination in the low minors. He could reach Double-A in a hurry.

    Joe (DE): Were Austin Hyatt and Matt Way too old for the level they were competing or did they not qualify for other reasons?

Aaron Fitt: Hyatt got quite a bit of support, actually. He really dominated this league (as you'd expect from a college senior), and his stuff played up in short stints in relief. I had one report that he was up to 94, but his comfort zone is more in the 86-91 range. He leans heavily on a solid-average changeup in the 75-77 range, and it's very common to see older college pitchers with good changeups dominate the Penn League — he's going to have to prove himself at higher levels. The knock on him has always been his lack of a quality breaking ball, but Williamsport manager Chris Truby said his slider made a lot of progress this summer and could be an average pitch down the road. One scout I spoke with said he saw a well-below-average, rolling breaking ball, however. As for Way, he's in the same mold — a college senior with a fringy fastball and an excellent changeup, though his change is even better than Hyatt's. I want to see a better breaking ball from both of these guys — neither showed a great ability to spin one in four years in college. They're going to need better breaking balls at higher levels.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Aaron: Mahoning Valley pitchers Clayton Cook and Marty Popham performed very well, Cook as a teenager in a mostly college age league. Do they impress as prospects?

Aaron Fitt: Cook didn't get a lot of love from managers or scouts, but Popham's an interesting sleeper. He has excellent size and plenty of arm strength, and he complements his fastball with a promising slider. Nice under-the-radar prospect.

    Mike (Tampa): What are your impressions of J.P. Ramirez, and how close was he to this list?

Aaron Fitt: I like Ramirez as a hitter. He has a very nice, compact swing, and he just really loves to hit. He can drive the ball all fields, and I think he'll hit for average down the road as well as some power — maybe in the 20-homer range. But he does have plenty of work to do offensively, as he tends to chase balls out of the zone and must improve against lefties. He's also going to have to hit a lot, because he's not a good defender and he'll be tied to left field. J.P. wasn't that close to making this list.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): When Kipnis was drafted there was some comment that he might be tried at second base. That same experiment was the death of Trevor Crowe but that time the Indians waited until Crowe was in AA. Is Kipnis sticking in the OF, or will he get a second base test?

Aaron Fitt: I think they'll leave him in the outfield. People have been speculating he could be a fit at second base for years, but I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Outside Kipnis, who on the Scappers impressed as a prospect? Lots of stat lines posted by pitchers and some of the hitters, too.

Aaron Fitt: As good as that team was, it was not the most prospect-laden bunch. Just a bunch of well-coached, hard-nosed scrappers, if you will. Bo Greenwell was there early and got some support thanks to his nice lefthanded stroke. And Kyle Bellows has good size and athleticism at third base, as well as some power potential. He's someone to keep an eye on.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Jordan Henry led the NYPL in on base pct and stole a fair number of bases. Is he a leadoff prospect for the Indians? Is he a centerfielder?

Aaron Fitt: Henry is a true center fielder (he even pushed Kipnis to left, and Kipnis can play center field himself) with excellent defensive skills and 70 speed. I do think he's a prospect because he knows how to use his speed and he can really go get the ball in the outfield, but he has never shown that he can hit the ball with enough authority to be anything more than a Jason Tyner type.

    Trevor (NJ): What's the upside on Neil Medchill? Word is he needs surgery on his wrist. That would explain his slow end to the season.

Aaron Fitt: I did hear an Adam Lind comp on Medchill. I think he's more athletic than Lind, but I suppose he could be that kind of offensive player — he's physical and very strong.

    Steve (Columbia): What are you thoughts on Staten Isl. DeAngelo Mack? Is he a legit prospect or how high is his ceiling? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: Mack doesn't profile particularly well, because he lacks the speed for center field and doesn't have the premium power for a corner. But he made a lot of progress offensively for South Carolina this spring, and he carried it over to the summer, squaring balls up consistently, using both gaps and showing good pull power. He's a tough out and he has solid-average power potential — he's got a chance.

    Grant (NY): Any Orioles' prospect is near this list?

Aaron Fitt: There was not much at Aberdeen, but 18-year-old shortstop Garabez Rosa does sound intriguing. He's not very polished in any phase and must learn to play under control at short, but he showed easy power, even to center field, and he can make spectacular plays at times in the field. And I think Justin Dalles has a real chance behind the plate. Another South Carolina product, Dalles is big and physical with a bit of power and a good idea at the plate. He's also a solid defensive catcher with an average arm.

    Fred (Ohio): Where do you see Brock Holt's deffensive future? How would you evaluate his season as a whole.

Aaron Fitt: He's a second baseman down the road, though he really can handle shortstop ably. I like Holt as another sleeper — he plays with a ton of energy, he's a solid-average to plus runner, he has great instincts in the field and on the basepaths, and he has decent arm strength and range in the middle infield. His range is probably a little short for shortstop, but you could at least plug him in there and make him a useful utility player. He's also stronger than he looks given his 5-foot-10 frame, and he can hit hard line drives and even some home runs. He's just a very good all-around player — don't sleep on him.

    Fred (Ohio): Thoughts on Luke Murton?

Aaron Fitt: He's big and has some power, but he was brutal at first base, which is where he's going to have to play. He played the outfield at Georgia Tech, so he'll have to learn first, and he's got a very long way to go. Scouts were unimpressed by him in the Penn League.

    Fred (Ohio): How close was Deangelo Mack to making this list. He had a really good start to his career. It seems like you put a bunch of guys on at the end simply based on draft status and not results.

Aaron Fitt: How do you figure? Were Jim Fuller, Kyle Conley and Neil Medchill big draft guys? How'd I miss that?

    Michael (NY, NY): I see that only Jim Fuller made the list, although nearly all of the Brooklyn staff had a good year statistically. Could you provide some information on the other Brooklyn starters (McHugh, Cohoon & Moore) and whether they were under consideration for the Top 20?

Aaron Fitt: I already addressed Cohoon, but the others got some interest also. McHugh has arm strength and pitches downhill with a good sinker and a decent little slider. Moore has a fringy fastball in the 87-91 range, but he hides the ball well and has good feel for a four-pitch mix, which also includes an average slider in the 81-84 range, a fringy curveball and a fringy change. All three of those guys were in the mix at the back of the top 20, but there's nothing flashy about them.

    carl (ny): heard a couple of reports about adam warren hitting 96 at times, any truth to that?

Aaron Fitt: I think that's very unlikely. Give Warren credit, he has really strengthened his arm since his college career started, and he can now reach back from 93-94 pretty much anytime he wants, while pitching in the 88-92 range. But 96? He's never going to be that guy.

    Dan (Hartford, CT): Hi Aaron. Thanks for the chat. Based on his $1 mil bonus as a 15th rounder last year, expectations were pretty high for J.P. Ramirez going into this season. His first extended pro action in the NY-Penn was pretty disappointing. Too soon to give up hope on a guy Jim Bowden once compared to Brian Giles, or $1 mil Bowden might have been better off spending on another one of those barely-replacement-level UT he was so fond of?

Aaron Fitt: I do think Ramirez will hit, but I also thought $1 million was too steep for a high school left fielder without big-time power. He doesn't have anywhere near the athleticism Giles had, and he's never going to hit 38 or 39 homers like Giles did in his prime. That's a pretty ridiculous comparison.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, great work as always. A couple of questions about Westmoreland: 1) I'm guessing Kelly has to be rated ahead of him, but at this point is he, in your mind, the #2 prospect for the Sox? 2) Is Ellsbury with more pop a fair comp?

Aaron Fitt: Thanks, Joe. I'm no Red Sox prospect expert, but I know that organization thinks extremely highly of Westmoreland, and he's certainly in their top five, and maybe even No. 2 or so. One scout I spoke with actually did make the Ellsbury with more power comparison, so yes, I think there's something to that. If his shoulder can stay healthy, he'll probably show a better arm than Ellsbury, too. Before his injury, he showed solid-average or better arm strength, which of course is much better than Ellsbury.

    Paul (Miami Fl): Is Caminero a future starter, or is his scorching stuff more suited for the pen?

Aaron Fitt: Bullpen guy all the way.

    Petey Pablo (Carrboro): Going forward, where does CLE/MV UT Greg Folgia profile - as a corner OF or at second? Did anyone like his bat? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: I've always thought he fits better at second — he's undersized for a corner outfield spot, and I don't think he'll hit for enough power out there. Nobody talked much about him in the Penn League, but I liked his bat in college and in college summer ball. His swing is short and compact, and I think he'll hit. He's a sleeper, I think.

    Doug (Phx): After reading your article about Lobstein earlier in the year about how hig the Rays were on him I was thinking he would be alot closer to the top of the list. What is holding him back from being a really elite prospect?

Aaron Fitt: He really got mixed reviews from scouts and managers. Some saw good stuff and flawless mechanics, others saw a low-energy guy with a mid-80s fastball, fringy secondary stuff and an overly manufactured delivery. I came down somewhere in the middle.

    Merv Crumpton (Oneonta): Did either Clemente Mendoza or Luis Sanz get any consideration? I know their fastballs are only average, but they both have pretty good curveballs and changeups and both had pretty good seasons. I know they probably both have back-of-the-rotation ceilings, but are they both at least considered legitimate prospects? Anyway either one of them could end up among Detroit's Top 30 next year?

Aaron Fitt: Sanz got a bit of consideration, and Mendoza got none. Sanz actually touched 93 early in the year but couldn't throw strikes because he was trying to strike everyone out. He did a better job pitching to contact as the year progressed, settling into the 89-91 range. He works fast, holds runners and fields his position well. He has a decent three-pitch mix, with a changeup and a curveball, and he'll mix in a slider as a show pitch. I could certainly see him on the back of Detroit's top 30.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown,,Delaware): Delaware guy Tyler Townsend was drafted by the Orioles to give their system some long distance pop. Do you think Townsend is the guy that can do this? Guess for me if you think he will be back at 1st base for Aberdeen, or at a higher level in 2010.

Aaron Fitt: He had a brilliant spring for FIU on the heels of a strong summer in the Valley League, but honestly I'm not sold on his bat long-term, and I don't know that he'll hit enough to hold down first base, where it looks like he'll have to play. I thought he was a bit of an overdraft in the third round, but we'll see. I would imagine he'll move up to low Class A to start 2010 despite his poor showing in the Penn League — you rarely see college guys repeat short-season leagues.

    Scott (Henderson, Nevada): How close was Sean Black and Gavin Brooks to making the top 20?

Aaron Fitt: Not very, although Black was good at times, working in the low 90s and throwing his curveball for strikes. Other times he was more in the 86-89 range. Command is an issue for Brooks, and I just don't think he's ever going to live up to the promise he flashed in high school and as a freshman at UCLA. The stuff just isn't what it once was.

    james (texas): Nick Hernandez of williamsport had nice numbers, where does he stack up in the NYPL.

Aaron Fitt: He's a funky lefty who works in the 88-90 range and leans on a good changeup. There's not a lot of upside there.

    David (Massachusetts): How about some names we might not have heard who put themselves on the prospect map?

Aaron Fitt: How bout Juan Jaime, a righthander for Vermont? He's an older guy with some violence in his delivery, but he can run the fastball up to 98 mph and sits in the 93-96 range. His curveball and changeup remain works in progress, but it's hard to ignore his arm strength, and he dominated both in Vermont and Hagerstown.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, as the Nats prospect authority, who are you higher on at this point: Hood or Burgess?

Aaron Fitt: Hood. I think he's got a much better chance to hit, and he's a better overall athlete, though he doesn't have Burgess' arm strength.

    Kevin G (New Brunswick, NJ): Do you have any info on Rays SS Tyler Bortnick? He was an older college guy but I've heard good things about his defense and he posted a pretty good stat line.

Aaron Fitt: Bortnick's just a solid player who can hold his own all around the infield, he runs OK, and he's a decent gap hitter. I could see a future as a utilityman, but his tools aren't loud enough to suggest he'll be an everyday player. OK everybody, that's all I have time for today. Thanks for all the great questions, as usual. Stop by again tomorrow for Conor Glassey's Northwest League chat.