League Top 20 Prospects

Carolina League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Lacy Lusk

Lacy Lusk: It's not quite 2, but I'm already 37 comments behind so let's get started. Thanks so much for chiming in to chat about Carolina League prospects.

    JAYPERS (IL): How far off the list was Aaron Crow? He seemed to figure things out at the end of the season, but what was the word on his stumbling during the majority of it?

Lacy Lusk: Actually, Crow would've made the list, but he fell a couple of innings short of the innings minimum (1/3 for every game your team plays). Even had a shot on the last day of the season, but he had a rocky start in the finale. The start before that, he fanned 13 and really impressed Myrtle Beach manager Rocket Wheeler. His fastball was touching 94-95. Just needs to be a good on a lot more consistent basis.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Thank you for the chat Lacy. Seeing Hosmer several times this year with his control of the zone, discipline, swing mechanics which should produce power and average; I was actually reminded of Jason Heyward at the plate a couple years ago. I know Hosmer lacks Heyward's athleticism and defensive value, but could he end up being a comparable hitter?

Lacy Lusk: Yes. He may well exceed Heyward at the plate, especially in terms of hitting for average. Plus, that power binge in the Texas League playoffs showed what nearly everyone says about him — that the power will come, too.

    Blake (STL): What are scouts telling you about Steve Lombardozzi?

Lacy Lusk: Scouts don't love him as much as managers and other players do, but the way he has hit — including in his 100 or so at-bats in Double-A — it's hard to think he doesn't at least have the one tool. Amazing how he seems to play just like his dad, who also made a move to second base while in the minors.

    JAYPERS (IL): Had he played enough to qualify, would you have considered Ryan LaMarre for this list, and what does he best project as?

Lacy Lusk: He had just 27 at-bats in the CL but had a nice year at Dayton in the Midwest League. Didn't really ask around him because the cutoff is one at-bats pwer your team's games, but he's a nice athlete who has good gap-to-gap power.

    Paul (VA): Did Brandon Short and Jon Gilmore get any consideration? Both performed well at the plate, but how about in the field?

Lacy Lusk: Both received lots of attention, and both are solid defensively. Short runs the ball down and has a decent arm. Gilmore's arm motion is a little unusual, according to one manager, but he gets the job done at third.

    Chuck (Wichita): How close was it between Teheran and Hosmer/Lamb/Myers?

Lacy Lusk: Very, especially with Hosmer. They're both very polished for high Class A. It was practically a tossup. Lamb is maybe a notch below that right now and there's some question as to whether Myers will catch long-term, but they're right there with the other two.

    Ty (Indiana): Does Abner Abreu impress you and scouts?

Lacy Lusk: I only saw a little bit of the K-Tribe this year, but scouts do like his tools. The 130-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio seems like the biggest thing the 20-year-old needs to improve upon.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Where would Vizcaino have slipped in on your list, had he qualified?

Lacy Lusk: Don't think he's quite ready to make the list, but Arodys' three starts at Myrtle Beach showed that he has a power arm and is someone to watch. Those Rome numbers are really nice, so maybe next year.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How far did Stolmy Pimentel's stock drop this year?

Lacy Lusk: Not much. He was almost in the top 20. Another big, strong guy with a power arm. He has more than a fastball, too.

    Bryan (San Francisco): How the heck does Joe Gardner not make this list??? He's big, age-appropriate, second in the league in ERA, second in wins despite starting in the MWL, and first in BA against by a long shot. He also has one of the better ground ball ratios around. I know these lists are by definition subjective but this one is a head-scratcher.

Lacy Lusk: Another one who has a great shot at making it. Doesn't throw as hard as some of the other pitchers we've mentioned, but he has a great feel for pitching. His sinker is outstanding, and there's plenty of use for that kind of pitcher. Could certainly wind up with a better career than some of the guys who made the top 20.

    Adam (Clinton): Obviously the Red Sox are set at 2B for quite some time. Do you think Tejeda could be an everyday guy if he weren't blocked or do you think he does ultimately fulfill the utility role? Does he end up being trade bait?

Lacy Lusk: With his bat, he may well end up somewhere on an everyday basis. "Super" Joe McEwing knows a thing or two about the utility role, and he and many others think Tejeda is athletic enough to end up at third or in left field if he doesn't stay at second.

    larry (chicago): How close was Eduardo Escobar to making the list?

Lacy Lusk: Probably the best shortstop in the league, but there are still questions about him striking out too much. He does have a plus arm and is dangerous from both sides of the plate. The AFL should be a good test for him.

    Biz (Denver): What can you tell us about Brett Oberholtzer? #3-4 starter?

Lacy Lusk: That could be a good assessment. He throws strikes, that's for sure.

    Dave (Atlanta): Any support for other Braves pitchers like Brett Oberholtzer, Cory Rasmus, or Paul Clemens?

Lacy Lusk: Didn't get much interest in Oberholtzer, but it's not the first time the lefty's been overlooked. He breezed through the Sally and pitched pretty well for Myrtle Beach. Neither Rasmus nor Clemens received much support either, but they both had pretty good years.

    JAYPERS (IL): Did Anthony Rizzo have a spot in your top 10 if he'd qualified, and is he a candidate for a callup next year?

Lacy Lusk: No question. I think he even made this top 20 last year. I didn't do last year's list — in fact I think it's been nine years since my last BA chat — but Rizzo played his way up to Portland and off this list this time.

    Dave (Atlanta): What did those around the league think of Braves SS Mycal Jones? Can he stay at short?

Lacy Lusk: Aside from the Pelicans in the top 20, he had the most support. Sounds like he could stay at short.

    Greg (Chicago): Do you think Infante can harness his control and be the White Sox closer of the future?

Lacy Lusk: That's always tough to call. Santos Rodriguez might even profile better as a closer, but it's nice to have both of them.

    AC (Atlanta): Had he qualified, where do you think Mike Montgomery would have fallen on this list?

Lacy Lusk: Somewhere in that Dwyer/Myers/Mesoraco grouping. Certainly in the top 10.

    AC (Atlanta): Bo Greenwell: prospect or suspect?

Lacy Lusk: Still prospect. He had a nice year at Lake County and Kinston.

    Chuck (Wichita): Patrick Keating was pretty dominant out of the bullpen for Wilmington. Does he have closer potential?

Lacy Lusk: Could be. Big strikeout numbers for the ex-Gator this year. The AFL will be good for him, too. Would have a touch act to follow in Joakim Soria, yesterday's end of the streak aside.

    AC (Atlanta): How close to making this list did TJ House come?

Lacy Lusk: Not very, but he does have a good repertoire and is still just 20. Did receive some positive comments.

    Frank (FL): Why did Melville stumble so much this season?

Lacy Lusk: His command was never quite there as he went 2-12 with an ERA of almost 5. Certainly has the build and the stuff where you could still hope for a lot more, once he figures out the "why."

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): What made BA side with Hosmer over Myers? To me it's splitting hairs. Both have so much to offer.

Lacy Lusk: Some of it is the uncertainty about Myers being able to catch in the majors, but it's mostly about Hosmer being considered such a good hitter, maybe even a tick better than Myers.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): I've heard people talk about Dwyer being the closest of the KC 4 LHPs to the big leagues. What do you think about that statement and when is his ETA? (Montgomery, Lamb, Duffy, Dwyer)

Lacy Lusk: That sounds like a fair assessment. Would think all four of those could arrive at some point in 2011.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): Can you talk a little about Christian Colon? What does he need to clean up? The Royals talked about his footwork being tied to his errors? Where would he rank in all SS prospects?

Lacy Lusk: I do think he's polished enough where he can stay at short. For the most part, he's considered steady but not flashy, so I'm sure those small footwork points are something he'd be able to work out.

    Richard (NC): Thanks for the chat. Did Alex White not pitch enough innings to qualify? If so, where would he have ranked had he qualified?

Lacy Lusk: Exactly. Just a little short of the 46-47 innings it takes (one-third of an inning per game). He definitely would've been top 10, if not in the top half of it. Seasoned pitcher from UNC who has done better than just about every arm the Indians traded for in recent years.

    Kyle (Oxford): Did Cody Puckett get any consideration for the list? How well do you see his power playing as a rightfielder at higher levels?

Lacy Lusk: Definitely did. He's versatile and tough. Probably has enough power to make it work in the outfield. He apparently has a bit of a leg kick where he can be pitched inside, but he's good at making adjustments.

    John (Acworth,GA): How close did LJ Hoes and Ryan Berry of Frederick come to making the list? I have been hearing very good reports on Hoes from another web site. Also did big Joe Mahoney or Ronnie Welty merit any mentions? Thanks!

Lacy Lusk: More mentions on Hoes and Welty than the other guys. Hoes took a step forward this year, and Welty has good power and is a plus defender in right field.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): I got to see John Lamb throw one time this last season and I was not overly impressed with his curveball. He had an off night so I think that could have been partly to blame. What are the reports on the curve?

Lacy Lusk: As you said, it's tough not to judge on just the one outing. It does seem like you have a point, though. I think his changup is ahead of the curve for now.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): How close was Salvador Perez to making this list? To me he seems like a legitimate top catching prospect. He has a solid game behind the plate and swung the stick a little in a tough ball park. To me he is KC's future behind the plate. What are reports on him?

Lacy Lusk: I'd say you just asked about No. 21. (Don't think we'll put out a separate booklet, like the No. 31s for the organizations, but Perez is right there.) He's excellent defensively and has improved his strike-zone judgment. Reminds some of Sandy Alomar Jr.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): The Royals had two highly touted RHPs in Wilmington this year. Tim Melville had some injury issues and Aaron Crow was sent down from Northwest Arkansas. Reports on Crow were great velocity but poor control. I didn't hear much on Melville. What are the opinions on the two RHPs for the Royals?

Lacy Lusk: Mentioned both of these power arms earlier. They could both could use better command.

    Frank (Columbus, OH): Did any other players from Kinston receive consideration? Their pitching was pretty strong this year (Gardner, House, McFarland, Burns), and I'm a little surprised that none of those guys cracked the list.

Lacy Lusk: There were positive comments on all dour — maybe a little more on Gardner and Burns from the rest of the league, but they are all indeed good prospects.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): The Braves had a great trio of RHPs this year at Myrtle Beach. What can we expect from this trio moving forward?

Lacy Lusk: There was definitely a pecking order where everyone loved Teheran, thought a lot of Delgado and then not quite as much of Hoover. That order could certainly change, though, as any "Five Years Ago" list will show.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): I got a chance to see both Delgado and Hoover pitch this season. Both were dominant. Can you expand a little more on each?

Lacy Lusk: Delgado was maybe a little more consistent, but they both have excellent arms. Hoover throws pretty hard and has a nice changeup and curveball. Delgado brings it, and his offspeed stuff is improving.

    James (New York): In the next few years will the Royals' minor league hitters or pitchers make the bigger impact at the major league level?

Lacy Lusk: I'd vote for hitters.

    Dusty Baker (Cincinnati ,Oh): No Brad Boxberger? Me thinks you paid too much attention to his stats in double A when he was moved to the bullpen to limit his innings.He was very good in the Carolina League with a fastball up to 95 and showed an above average change and slider.

Lacy Lusk: Sorry Dusty. The Double-A numbers didn't play a big factor, but they didn't help. Brad does have very good life on his fastball, so the move to the bullpen may even work out fine. Good luck against the Phillies.

    Ryan H (Baltimore): Love the chats! I'd love to hear more about some other Keys. What did you hear from scouts about LJ Hoes, Joe Mahoney, Ronnie Welty & Ryan Berry. Berry is the one I was most disappointed to not see in the top 20. What bumped him off?

Lacy Lusk: Former Rice pitcher Ryan Berry has a lot of know-how and a good repertoire. Wouldn't say he was "knocked off." He's another good prospect who didn't quite make the cut. Welty received the most support out of the rest of the Keys.

    Blackie (Cincinnati, OH): Hi, Lacy. I was interested in the remark about Mesoraco needing to improve his plate discipline. Were there any remarks in particular that support that? His walk and strikeout rates were actually extremely solid in both Lynchburg (16% K, 10.5% BB) and Carolina (17.5% K, 8.5% BB), and though he struck out quite a bit in Louisville (~24%), he also maintained the same solid walk rate (10.3%). I see this sort of comment regularly for players who look this good statistically, so I'm wondering what league observers saw that belies these rates.

Lacy Lusk: I think the overall assessment was that he does a solid job of getting on base and that he already has improved with the strikeouts (after 76 in 312 at-bats at the same level last year). Probably did base that on his small sample size at Louisville and should've worded that differently.

    Reed (Claremont (CA)): How close did Frederick's LJ Hoes come to making the top 20? What kept him off?

Lacy Lusk: L.J. has a lot of backers in the chat today. He did a great job getting on base this year and has a lot of tools, so maybe he'll prove he should've been on here. He just didn't receive enough attention from the managers outside Frederick to make the list.

    Kyle (Oxford): What do you think we can expect from Devin Mesoraco in the big leagues? .270 hitter with 25 homers and above average defense reasonable?

Lacy Lusk: Reasonable. Defense might be more like average, but he's a good leader.

    Brad (MO): Were Wilmington's Salvador Perez or Will Smith mentioned by scouts when making the list? Where would Montgomery had ranked if eligible?

Lacy Lusk: Have mentioned Perez and Montgomery. Smith's another interesting guy — 51-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in this league, but he didn't quite make it.

    Adam (New Orleans): How close was Mycal Jones to making the list? Any other Pelican hitters close (I am guessing not)? The Braves seemed stacked with pitching, but the hitting is just not there in the minors with Heyward and Freeman having made it to Atlanta.

Lacy Lusk: Not much love for any of the Pelicans hitters, but Jones had some support.

    Kory (Columbus): Dan Remenowski followed a dominant 2009 campaign with another very strong year. Why are the Sox moving him so slowly? He was too old for the league all year and his numbers suggest he should have been promoted early in the year. Whats the deal?

Lacy Lusk: Think Remenowsky had an injury issue this year, but he was too good for the league. Always tough for undrafted free agents.

    David (Nairobi): It is nice to see Kinston's Kipnis and Henry recognized. Most of the other Indians had middling years, but RHP Joe Gardner and C Chun-Hsiu Chen had break-out years. Were they close to making the top 20, and what kept them off of it? Seemed like a deep league in prospects this year, but Joe was 12-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a dominant sinker and Chen had an OPS of .966. Chen is still raw as a catcher, but the Indians' front office say that he has the skills to stay there.

Lacy Lusk: Gardner has been mentioned before, but also wanted to get Chen's name out there because he also almost made the list. Is still raw, but had a tremendous year and is certainly a prospect.

    Dan (D.C): Even though this appears to be a strong list, I was surprised to see the #4 pick in the draft that low. Is Colon nothing more than a league average 2B in the end?

Lacy Lusk: Still think he could be a shortstop, but I too was surprised at how lukewarm some of the comments were on Colon from the people I talked to. A spot in the top 10, though, isn't too bad.

    Brian (Ft. Lauderdale): What are your thoughts on Derek Norris? With the acquisition of Ramos, does he shift to an outfield corner? Is he a future middle of the order presence for Washington?

Lacy Lusk: Outfield corner seems like a good bet to me. Once Bryce Harper moved to the outfield, I was wondering whether Norris would be the catcher of the future, but that seems to have answered itself with the Capps deal. Word is that the power is still as impressive as anyone in the league. Expect his Fall League and 2011 showings to tell us a lot.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): You've already answered about the absent Joe Gardner, but what about Alex White? He had enough innings in the Carolina League to qualify, didn't he? Had everyone forgotten him by the end of the year?

Lacy Lusk: Didn't forget Alex. He came about as close as you can to the one-third of an inning per game cutoff. Would've been top 10.

    JH (berkeley): Just a heads up: it seems that your Will Middlebrooks stat line is off.

Lacy Lusk: It is indeed. I'll pass that along. As you know, he hit .276/.331/.439 in 435 at-bats for Salem. A fine season, and the consensus is that he's just starting to show what he's capable of.

    Brian (Ft. Lauderdale): Can Will Middlebrooks be a regular somewhere if traded? Is his bat legit?

Lacy Lusk: Sure. As for the second part, his defensive skills may be ahead of his offense, but his bat is pretty legit, too.

    Greg (new york): Hello,do you see Lamb ever becoming a #1 starter or is that asking to much? Thank you.

Lacy Lusk: Probably a good No. 2 is more likely, but not all No. 1s throw 100 mph.

    Josh T (TC Robertson): When will we see Chris Dwyer in the bigs? Heard he has a million and a half dollar arm, but a five cent haircut... Can he handle it by the end of 2011?

Lacy Lusk: Can't find any examples of the bad haircut, but the pitching ability is definitely there and yes, he could be effective in Kansas City at some point in 2011.

    Dylan Paul (Chapel Hill, NC): Where does LJ Hoes rank in comparison to some other CL second basemen? What is his overall prospect value now/future ML projection?

Lacy Lusk: He and Lynchburg's Cody Puckett were the top two second basemen who didn't make the top 20. Would say Hoes could well be an everyday major league second baseman. Has the bat and the range to stay in the middle of the infield for sure.

    TT (Seattle, WA): What sort of major leaguer does Mesoraco project as? Is he a middle-of-the-order bat, or more of a good #6/#7 hitter? Could he become Victor Martinez w/ better defense/arm? Or is he more of a Rod Barajas/Gerard Laird type? Thanks!

Lacy Lusk: He's not a switch hitter like Martinez, but his bat should be more on that level.

    MJ (Valpo): Is there any reason to believe Hosmer's monster year was "fluk-ish" based on his terrible 2009 season? One good season does not make a sudden All-World player, right? Shouldn't we wait another year or two and temper his expectations until he can repeat and prove it again?

Lacy Lusk: Probably a good word of advice.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): Pitchers have to throw a 1/3 of an inning per game the team played, what about hitters?

Lacy Lusk: 1 at-bat per team's game, so generally 140

    Jason (Charlotte): What kind of chat is it if the #1 prospect doesn't get a full question devoted to him ? ... So who does Teheran comp to ? Pedro Martinez ? When does he make the Braves starting rotation July 2011 or Sept ?

Lacy Lusk: Don't want to answer that first question. As for the rest, he should have a place in the rotation by the end of next season (if Brandon Beachy can do it, why not?). Wouldn't even say that would be rushing him. He's done all he can do in high A ball, for sure. He's bigger than Pedro, so I'm not sure if there's another 19-year-old Colombian to compare him to. Can throw three pitches for strikes at any time, and probably doesn't need that many most nights.

    Mark (NYC): No love to any Yankee prospects?? Did any of them impress at all??

Lacy Lusk: The Florida State League is coming Wednesday. Andy Pettitte's Prince William Yankees days are long gone.

    Dave (Atlanta): Is it hard to get managers and coaches to comment on other organizations' players? Are most amenable to participating in the making of these lists?

Lacy Lusk: Most are quite amenable. Seven of the eight got back to me in a two-week stretch at the end of the season, and I really appreciate all their help. By the end, the list looks more than a little different from what I originally thought it might be.

    Chris (desk): While I can certainly understand tempering expectations regarding Hosmer, and wanting to see another year, it's worthwhile to remember a few things: 1. His draft pedigree was excellent, and this is exactly what scouts expected. 2. He was injured for most of 2009 (broken knuckle). 3. He couldn't see, a problem which has now been fixed. Given all that, his 2010 doesn't look so flukish. He may not always be THIS good, but he'll be good.

Lacy Lusk: Good points, all. I'm sure all Royals fans hope you're right on the money.

    jr (wilmington): i saw dwyer pitch several times. is his curveball one of the best in minor league ball? h

Lacy Lusk: Definitely one of the best. Can't say I know enough about the rest of the leagues, but his was picked as the best in the CL by the managers this summer.

Lacy Lusk: Thanks so much to everyone for all the great questions. Sorry if I didn't answer yours — I tried my best to get to all of them and to combine questions that were similar. Hope everyone keeps finding baseball somewhere in these two days between the MLB regular season and playoffs.