League Top 20 Prospects

California League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Dave Perkin

    JAYPERS (IL): How much of Liddi's numbers can be attributed to the CAL? Can you project what they would have been this year had he been playing in AA?

Dave Perkin: Obviously the hitter friendly Cal League parks are going to boost anyone's numbers—especially the parks in the Southern portion of the League. That being said, I will stick my neck out and say that Liddi is legit. I think he will hit well beyond High Desert, and could be a fixture in Seattle for along time. He's a good defender as well.

    Terrance (Denver): Is Friedrich a projected # 1 starter, and how soon do you think it'll be before we get to see him at Coor's?

Dave Perkin: In most organizations, he would be projected as a number one. But don't forget the Rockies (my favorite team) have Jiminez and De La Rosa and hope to have a healthy Francis back next year. So if and when Friedrich breaks in, they'll probably use him at the back, then if results merit, he'll creep up higher in the rotation.

    Joe Dunigan (High Desert): Did I get any love for your list? I thought I put on an impressive campaign this year.

Dave Perkin: Hi Joe, how are you? You're darn tootin' you got consideration for the list. Problem is, the Cal League was loaded this year unlike some of the other circuits, which I think were a bit thin. But the scouts had a lot of good things to say about you, and I was impressed along with them—big and strong, good power. Good luck in the future and remember us at BA when you make it to the big leagues!

    Andrew (York, PA): I know these rankings are often based more so on projection than performance, but how close did Jon Gaston and Koby Clemens come to making the list? I know Lancaster is a hitter's park, but it's hard to argue with the numbers they both put up this year.

Dave Perkin: Jon Gaston was on all of my intitial lists, but missed the cut at the end by a whisper. I don't care if you play in a little league park, the numbers he and Clemens put up can't be ignored. Gaston had power at home then on the road—18 at Lancaster, 17 on the road, but hit .308 at home, .248 away from home. Clemens hit everywhere—14 and .352 at home, 8 and .338 on the road. The knock on Gaston is K's, on Clemens is the lack of a clear defensive position. But no doubt—they can both rake.

    Henry Thompson (Rohnert Park CA): You say that Neal's lone tool is hit ability to hit for average, however I have often heard his power is among the elite in the organization. In the future how do you see Neal profiling could he hit .300/.350/.450?

Dave Perkin: Neal was my favorite story in the Cal League this year. I first met him when I was a part time scout with the Mets in 2004-2005. He has huge hands and is exceptionally strong in the wrists and forearms, both trademarks of a good hitter. He really matured this year. He had over 40 doubles, which is the sign of a guy who uses the whole field. Most interestingly, he hit around .330 against righthanders—a sign he is hanging in against the curve and using the opposite field. I'd say he will be a full time LF—imagine a Giant lineup with Neal, Kieschnick and Posey added to the threat already posed by the Kung Fu Panda.

    TrueBlueLA (Los Angeles): Scott Van Slyke finally made some progress, was it enough to put him back on the prospect map or simply a Cal League illusion? Was Preston Mattingly the worse high draft pick by Logan White? He doesn't appear to have any skills offensively or defensively.

Dave Perkin: Van Slyke is a different player than his Dad. Andy was lithe and wiry, an incredible athlete with plus speed and a plus arm—a terrific CF. Scott is much bigger but not quite as athletic. I am going to have to reserve judgement on him as a hitter—let's see how he does at AA. As for Mattingly, he struggled. He had a hard time recognizing pitches, and had a tendency to get out on his front foot and committed too soon. The Dodgers will be patient with him, but he needs to correct those shortcomings.

    Henry Thompson (Rohnert Park): Do you see Roger Kieschnick still having potential 30 hr power as was initially said about him when he was drafted?

Dave Perkin: Yes, I see Kieschnick having 25-30 HR power. He also has a fine arm, but as a defensive OF struggles going back on the ball, which is the toughest play for the young guys. Kieschnick will have to alter his walk to strike out ratio—it was something like 30 walks to 130 K's. No one expects a reversal, but he'll need to at least make some progress or he'll get eaten alive by Big League pitchers.

    phil (Scottsdale Stadium): Hello Dave! Thanks for your time! You say Madison Bumgarner would have ranked ahead of Posey if he had qualified, could the same be said for Jarrod Parker?

Dave Perkin: Actually, for me Posey was number one no matter if Parker, Bumgarner or anyone else had been here all year. We do these lists sort of by committee—were are not Randy, Paula and Simon, but still it's aggregate thing. Posey is the type of player to build a franchise around—a catcher who can produce at and behind the plate for a dozen years.

    phil (Scottsdale Stadium): I guess Nick Noonan wasn't as advanced as the Giants thought he was but made some improvement after the all-star break. What are your thoughts on him? Did he get any consideration for the top 20?

Dave Perkin: Noonan did not get Top 20 consideration, but don't give up hope just yet. He is another kid I scouted in High School, where he played on the most unusual high school diamond I've ever seen. He runs well, shows signs of being a quality defender. Noonan's bat isn't there yet, but I think he has a chance to be a 10-15 homer, .280 guy in the majors. As for making our top 20, he just didn't make that big jump—the big breakout this year, like Neal did for instance.

    norm (san diego): Is Conor Gillaspie the biggest disappointment of the 2008 draft? His ridiculous contract is probably the worst of any player from the draft and he hits with no power and cannot field 3B. Any idea what the Giants will do with him?

Dave Perkin: Hey Norm! Cheers! To judge the 2008 draft, I think we have to wait a few more years. That being said, Gillaspie did not impress me at all this year. At third, he doesn't go after anything that isn't hit right at him. He gets caught on too many bad or in between hops and doesn't seem to read the ball well off of the bat. To succeed in pro ball as a hitter, you have to convert a high percentage of pitchers mistakes. If a pro pticher makes a good or great pitch, your chances of converting it into a base hit are very low for anyone, Mauer and Pujols included. Gillaspie struggled to convert pitchers mistakes into hits when I saw him, and was visibly agitated when he fouled the pitch off. Lets' track him some more before we give up on him, howver.

    Kent (Sonoma, CA): Dave, Thank you for the chat. It is nice to see several Giants on the list, but would it be fair to say that the Giants should be disappointed with the seasons from Gilaspie, Noonan (and Villalona)?

Dave Perkin: Yes, but don't forget to look at this in the long term. I know some of the Giants scouts—Mike Kendall is one of the very best in the business—and overall they are doing wonderful job of constructing the ball club. Think of a SF batting order in 2012 that reads: Ford, Noonan, Neal, Sandoval, Posey, Kieschnick, Gillaspie. That is tough—and it shows what an intelligent job the Giants are doing in constructing their big league club.

    Kent (Sonoma, CA): Dave, What have you heard about Clay Tanner and what is his ceiling?

Dave Perkin: Tanner and Clark are both outstanding. I can see them adding to a big league rotation of Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner by 2011 or 2012. What I like is that they "get it"—they vary speeds, vary locations. Pitching is not about missing bats, it is about missing the center of bats. I think we obsess too much about hard throwers. Give me a 2 ptich ground out at bat over a 8 pitch K all game long.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Where do you see Gillies ceiling - as an exciting everyday lead off hitter, maybe along the lines of a Juan Pierre? Or is there a chance he goes the way of a Joey Gathright? Or is he somewhere in between? Gillies and Ichiro would make a very interesting future top of the order in Seattle.

Dave Perkin: Bless you, a Gillies question! I grew up in the mid 60's, and loved the speed oriented Dodger teams of Wills, Willie Davis, etc. It is a cliche to say that speed never has a slump, but Gillies has game altering speed. He forces the infield to play in, forces infielders to hurry, then drives pitchers and catcher nuts when he gets on. Then, of course, he runs down everything within a tri county area in CF. I say Wille Davis and maybe Granderson are good comparisons, but maybe Gillies will not have quite as much power as the Tiger star.

    Dave H (Pittsburgh): I was surprised to see J. Weeks so low on the list. I thought he had a very nice year while playing a premium up-the-middle position. Do you see him as "only" a solid regular, or is there more in there?

Dave Perkin: Sorry, Dave I am not a big Weeks guy. I thought he was a bit overdrafted out of college. He played well in the Cal League, but I had be coaxed into putting him on the list—he wasn't on any of my prelims. In Weeks defense, some managers thought he played hurt this year, which may be why his numbers were decent but not great. He is a fine athlete who could hold down a 2B job. Let's see what he does in a full season when healthy, maybe then he'll show more.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Were Desme's numbers a product of being an older player in a hitters league, or is he a legit high ceiling prospect? Is an eventual 30-30 season in the majors out of the question? Where is his true potential - regular player or future all star?

Dave Perkin: Oh no, Desme is legit. He has the potential to hit and hit for power, and he has a excellent arm and above average speed. When I saw him in college play the OF, my first thought was, "uh-oh". But to his credit, he has improved defensively and should be average in that category one day. Like so many young guys, he needs to cut down on the K's. Re the A's, the most provocative aspect is this: With Davis in the majors and with Green, Weeks and Desme in their system, isn't it fascinating how athletic the Athletics are getting, post "Moneyball"?

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): How close was OF Trayvon Robinson to making the list. He showed very nice offensive ability - hitting for average, power, and stole 43 bases before being promoted up to AA. Is he a future major leaguer in the Dodgers plans?

Dave Perkin: Actually, Trayvone is on the list, at number 15. Another guy I scouted in HS, he went to Crenshaw—which also produced Daryl Strawberry. Robinson is incredibly fast—one Dodger scout timed him in the 6.2-6.3 range. He has accomplished what we scouts look for in a minor leaguer—work on and improve your weaknesses. Robinson hit very well lefthanded this year, plus he has become an excellent CF, running down balls in the gaps by getting terrific jumps and taking good routes. His base stealing still needs improvement. Base stealing is not so much about speed as it is about the read and the jump. Robinson got caught a lot this year, which tells me he is still struggling reading moves. I think he'll get it eventually, particularly if the Dodgers have him work with Maury Wills.

    josh g (sacto, ca): did brandon crawford get any consideration for the list? has he surpassed adrianza as the giants best ss prospect?

Dave Perkin: We've gotten a couple of Crawford questions, so let me tackle them all right here. I first saw him at UCLA's scout day at the MLB academy in 2007, I think it was. He was downright awful that day. Crawford struggled at the beginning of his senior year, which dropped him to the 4th round. Still, he has a chance. Crawford's a good athlete, fine arm (92 off the mound for the Bruins)and runs acceptably. My problem with him before was that he was a stance tinkerer, never sticking to the same approach from game to game. If he gets the bat going, I certainly can see him at SS for the big club.

    Dan (Chicago): 2016 best catcher in baseball Wieters Posey or Harper?

Dave Perkin: 2016?! I don't even know what I'm having for dinner, much less look ahead to 2016! Kidding aside, that is a great question. I will answer that with a shocker—Harper is not a catcher for me. I would put him in RF for two reasons: he is such a great hitting prospect I don't want to see his bat diminshed by the wear and tear of catching. Second, I don't think he's a very good defensive receiver. Great arm, but glove isn't there for me and he wraps the ball behind his ncek. Ok, that leaves Posey and Wieters. I like them both, and think both will be long term stars, so I don't think you can miss either way. But if trapped in a corner I'll go with Wieters.

    David (Fort Worth): Did any players for the Rangers' affiliate in Bakersfield merit consideration?

Dave Perkin: Yes—Tanner Roark. With that last name, I'm sure he is Paul DePodesta's favorite player. Roark was outstanding in a very tough place to play—small crowds, rickety old park, bizarre CF fence and dimensions. As for our list, he was just caught in a numbers crunch—too many good players in the Cal League this year.

    Bryan (Orange, CA.): Do you think in 5 years we look back at this San Jose team and say it had some of the best big league talent ever? I mean it seems like your projecting almost every regular plus a few pitchers to be in the majors. And do you think this gives the Giants enough to move past the Rangers as the top system in the minors?

Dave Perkin: For me, right now the Giants have the best system in baseball. But keep in mind I scout amateur baseball for BA in Southern California and cover the Cal League, so I don't see the rest of the nation. But from what I've seen San Francisco has the top farm system as we speak. I could weigh in on who has the worst, but that is a topic for another day!

    Jake (Modesto): So, Friedrich has three plus pitches? When can we expect him in the majors?

Dave Perkin: I will call Dan O'Dowd and put him on the playoff roster for you! Actually, with all the fine young pitching the Rockies already have, they can take their time with Friedrich. No need to rush. Colorado is another club that has done a great job of building. They have my favorite player in all of baseball, Troy Tulowitzki (coincidentally a Long Beach State alum, like myself) who is the foundation of the franchise. Next, they add all the component parts—Gonzalez, Young, Stewart, etc. to go with the excellent arms. Voila!--long term contenders, or so I hope.

    Dale (San Francisco): What does it mean regarding talent levels that Pedro Figueroa, lhp, Kane County (Athletics) is 19th prospect in Midwest and 7th in the California League. Thanks.

Dave Perkin: I am getting arthritis in my fingers from all this typing, so I'll take your fine query and one more. Yeah—that is a bit odd looking,isn't it?! All I know is that scouts raved about the kid—power mid 90's fastball with terrific natural sink, hard slider, just nasty and filthy. As we all know, lefties with stuff (and many without) can hang around in the majors for a long, long time. In fact, I think baseball expanded in 1998 just so Terry Mulholland could have more teams to pitch for.

    Tim Shrout (San Diego): How likely is it that we could see a Padres infield with Forsythe at second and Darnell at third by 2011 and how would an infield of Adrian, Forsythe, Cabrera and Darnell look to you?

Dave Perkin: No doubt the Padres need to get better, and pronto. Forsythe is the guy I like best in that group. Fine defender, good range, arm and hands. Very patient hitter, high OBP, good 2nd hole prospect. Don't forget that a guy doesn't have to have 70-80 power or run a 6.3 to be a prospect. He can succeed at the more subtle, nuanced portions of the game and still be valuable. Ok, everyone, thanks for all the questions, they were superb! It was a fun chat and I hope we can do it again some day.