League Top 20 Prospects

Texas League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo

Will Lingo: Welcome, everyone. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be talking about a lot of future all-stars today when we review prospects from the Texas League. Instead let me make a couple of recommendations you can definitely believe in: First, the Whigs, a rock-n-roll combo from Athens, Ga. We'll be listening to their most recent album, Mission Control, during today's chat if you'd like to follow along.

Will Lingo: And of course the Baseball America Draft Almanac, which just went to press last week. All 45 years worth of draft lists, complete with signings, in one handy volume. Order yours now. Now on to the Texas League...

    JAYPERS (IL): Just how far off the Top 20 did Jordan Walden fall this year, and what are scouts saying about him?

Will Lingo: It's not a chat without Jaypers, as we all know. Walden probably would have made the list had he not been injured. I think the general consensus was that people weren't seeing the real guy this year for the most part, though some saw him at 90-94 mph with a good fastball-slider combo. His changeup needs work and he has command and control issues, so he could end up working at the back of the bullpen.

    Hank (Gurney): How does Mark Trumbo fall short of the top-20? He seems like the Angels' 1B'man of the future—perhaps sometime in 2010...agree?

Will Lingo: The general consensus on Trumbo is that he doesn't have a lot to offer beyond his power. He's not a great hitter overall and is a below-average runner. He played a little bit in the outfield but is probably limited to first base. He is a gamer and a proven run producer, and that power is intriguing enough that he'll get plenty of chances to prove himself. I don't see him as a significant big leaguer, though.

    Mike (Midland, TX): I had the opportunity to see Josh Donaldson play the entire year for the RockHounds. I do not understand how this guy doesn't get more hype? Including the playoffs he had 50plus extra base hits, nearly 100 rbis, while also walking over 80 times. He looks to be a well above average athlete for the catching position. It seems to me his tools say he has a chance to be a frontline catcher at the MLB level?! What are your thoughts?

Will Lingo: That's probably overselling Donaldson, but he is an interesting guy and one who just missed the top 20. As with Trumbo, power is definitely the most intriguing part of Donaldson's game as well. He produced a lot more doubles than home runs this season, though, and at least one manager summed up his reaction to Donaldson simply with, "I'm not a fan," which is the ultimate quick dismissal from a scout or manager. Not usually a follow-up to that. And I think the consensus on Donaldson as a receiver is that he's just OK. If he continues to hit he could end up in the big leagues.

    Hank (Kansas City): What are your thoughts on David Lough? I noticed he showed up ahead of Bianchi on the Carolina League Top 20, yet he wasn't included on the Texas League Top 20.

Will Lingo: Thanks for coming out, Royals fans! We probably have more questions about Lough than any other prospect so far. Honestly, the last 10 guys on the TL list could probably have been switched out with another 10 guys and you wouldn't have noticed a huge dropoff in quality. As noted elsewhere, it was a year with some depth but not a lot of standouts. And everyone at the back of the list has holes in their game. Lough and Bianchi are tough to separate. One manager compared Lough to Scott Podsednik defensively, he runs well and showed a quick stroke and balanced approach. I think generally people in the TL regarded Bianchi as the better overall hitter, with better pitch and zone recognition to make him successful going forward, even though Lough outperformed in the league this year. Definitely no slap against Lough not to slide on to the back of this list, though. Just didn't quite make it on.

    Yunel (Jersey): What has happened to Cedric Hunter's stock? Wasn't he once ranked as a league #1 prospect a few years ago? Why has he struggled the last couple season?

Will Lingo: Great question. The Cedric Hunter bandwagon had some momentum after his year in the Cal League in 2008—I did the prospect list for that league. This year you couldn't find anyone who had anything encouraging to say about him. The most memorable comment came from a scout who said, "I Triple-A'd him in Fort Wayne." So yes, his stock has fallen. The short version is that people just don't think he's going to hit enough to be a big leaguer. "Pitch him away and he's an out," one manager said. On top of that some other managers saw him as a hot dog and just don't think his skills measure up to his reputation. And when you look at his numbers this year, it's hard to argue.

    MJ (Valpo): Is Pete Kozma still in the Cards' top-30? Does the organization view him as their SS of the future? Any indications that he can find his once-heralded batting prowess again?

Will Lingo: We're doing an interesting piece for our latest Prospect Pulse—which will be featured in our next print edition and should be online next week—in which each person who did a league top 20 writes up an intriguing player who didn't make the top 20. I'm writing up Kozma for the Texas League. I thought it was notable that he had such a poor year with the bat, yet every manager I talked to spoke glowingly about him. At first I was asking about him almost out of courtesy, because he was a high draft pick and was in the Cardinals top 10 coming into the year, but managers really liked this guy. Scouts still aren't sure and think he might just be a utility guy. I think the more people watched him play, the more they liked him. He has great makeup, attitude, aptitude, all those things, not clear his skill set will make him a major league starter. I'm guessing the Cardinals will send him back to Double-A to start next season, so let's see if his bat comes around at all. More than one person mentioned his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field, so I think there still could be something there.

    tom (long beach ca): how could you rank Castro before conger? look at the stats. please explain.

Will Lingo: I think Castro will be a catcher; not at all sure Conger will be.

    Jeremy (Davis, CA): What do you see as Daniel Descalso's ultimate role? Could he be an everyday guy in St. Louis, or is he poised for a Utility backup role? Thanks.

Will Lingo: I think he could definitely be an everyday player if he hits like he did in Springfield this year. A .300 hitter with some pop who can play second base? Does that sound like something you'd be interested in? "He's the perfect La Russa guy," one scout said. "He's an offensive second baseman, and he can give you more defense than La Russa even would ask for." He probably doesn't work defensively anywhere else, too, which would argue against a utility role.

    MJ (Valpo): What kind of prospect is Matt Sulentic? He's quietly had two productive seasons in a row, after struggling mightily early on. Seems like he's made good adjustments. Is he in Oakland's OF plans anytime soon?

Will Lingo: General view on Sulentic is that he probably profiles more as an extra outfielder in the big leagues.

    Chuck (Wichita): I know Anthony Lerew probably does not qualify as a prospect anymore, but were there signs that he was regaining the stuff that made him a top prospect for the Braves a few years ago? Any hope that he can still be a major league starter?

Will Lingo: Not a whole lot of enthusiasm for Lerew, but this looks like the best opportunity I'm going to get to shoehorn in a little mention of my favorite older pitching prospect from the league, Springfield's Trey Hearne. The Cardinals were so excited about him last year that they loaned him to the Mexican League, but he tied for the TL lead with 12 wins this season and finished second in ERA. He only throws 87-88 mph with a changeup and curveball, nothing eye-popping but he pounded the strike zone and knows how to get guys out. He gives hitters a different look with a stab in the back of his delivery and never gives in. Realistically you're looking at a middle reliever if he sharpens his command, but he's an intriguing guy for me.

    Jon (Houston): Was Sam Demel considered for the top 20 after his unbelievable stat line in the league? Also, will we see him in an Oakland uniform at the start of the 2010 season? Thank you for your time!

Will Lingo: Demel's pretty good, but again you're probably talking about a set-up type in the big leagues.

    Andy (Iowa City): Thanks for the chat. Who's better on the Springfield team, Eduardo Sanchez or Francisco Samuel? and how close were they to making the top 20?

Will Lingo: Two interesting guys. Again, I think I've said enough about the talent in the league this year and how even it was when you're looking at guys for the back of the list, so these guys merited consideration as well. Both are relievers with two pitches. Some said Samuel had the best slider in the league, with a power fastball and a lanky frame that gives him some projection. He has command issues, which explains some of his unsightly numbers, but very intriguing ceiling. Sanchez can touch 95 mph with his fastball and has a sharp curveball, and he's more of a little guy with a good arm. Since Samuel is only 20, he's probably the guy I would take.

    Randy (Houston): What do you think about Tyler Henley? I was a little surprised to not see him on your list. Thanks

Will Lingo: People were generally lukewarm on Henley. He finds a way to put the bat on the ball but has some mechanical issues with his swing, so I'm not sure he'll be able to continue producing as he moves up.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Your thoughts on Daryl Jones' season with Springfield? Was he a Top 20 contender?

Will Lingo: Jones was bothered by a quad injury this year, but it's not clear he's ever going to produce enough offense to get to the big leagues. He needs to be an igniter and use his athleticism to get things going, rather than trying to be a power guy. And most people think he works better in left field than center field, so that makes it even more important for him to hit. He has some power to the pull side and some pop in his bat, but that sounds like it gets him in trouble more than anything.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Who wins the race to Oakland's lineup - Wallace or Carter? Also, is Wallace a future 1B and Carter a future DH?

Will Lingo: I think Wallace will win the race. And if I knew for sure where Carter would end up, I would have felt more confident about where to rank him. Some think he has the athleticism to play in the outfield. We'll see.

    Brad (MO): Rough year for the Naturals pitching prospects, were there any positive reports on Blake Wood?

Will Lingo: Decent reports on Wood: big body, good arm, has four pitches, fastball is firm but straight, questions about command.

    Johnson (COL): Will Samuel Deduno ever make it as an MLB starter? I know he's older than most prospects, but for a guy to win the TRIPLE CROWN on pitching in his league and only rank 20th, he must not have much upside. What's his projection look like?

Will Lingo: Big question is command. If he gets that solved, he can definitely be a big league starter.

    Brent (Appleton): Ok, so there's not a lot of future All-stars here, but I'm assuming Mat Latos is an exception, right? He seems to have lost his rookie eligibility, but where do you think he would rank on next season's top 100 had he retained it?

Will Lingo: Lots of Latos questions too, with good reason, he's a fascinating guy. He is definitely an exception to the kind of guys we've generally been chatting about. Very high ceiling. I think he would have been No. 17 on the top 100 had he still qualified.

    Rick (Amherst, MA): What is Latos' ceiling? Can he be a #1 starter? If he ends up in the bullpen is he a closer?

Will Lingo: He certainly has the raw ability to be a No. 1, but somehow I always see him in my mind's eye ending up as a closer.

    Ron (Grandview, MO): Jordan Parraz wasn't your favorite "older prospect"? Seems like it takes a 2-way guy longer to shake out, and he had a very productive season after changing organizations. He has hit, arm, speed tools and his size suggests there should be power in there, no?

Will Lingo: Sorry, not a lot of love for Parraz in the TL. If you're looking for an older guy who got love from managers, Drew Locke is probably the choice. Scouts don't see a big league role for him, though. I think I got a Collin Delome question somewhere too. He's an extra outfielder at best, nothing plus.

Will Lingo: OK guys, thanks for all the questions. Sorry I couldn't stay longer, but it's always off to the next project here at BA during the offseason. We'll do it again soon. Thanks again.