League Top 20 Prospects

Southern League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ian Gordon

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What are you hearing about Brandon Guyer of the Cubs? Did the OF come close to the top 20? Is he considered a legit prospect? He put up very good offensive numbers - hit for average, showed some power and speed as well. What is his ceiling - everyday regular, or 4th outfielder?

Ian Gordon: Hi everyone! Sorry I'm late — just a few Internet issues to work through. As for Brandon Guyer, Michael, he was a guy mentioned often by managers around the SL. He's got a strong, athletic frame and a quick bat, and even though he occasionally gets himself out with some defensive swings at the dish, he definitely has a chance. He seems like he could turn into a solid contributer type, especially with his above-average defense in the corner OF spots.

    JAYPERS (IL): What exactly kept Jake McGee off this list?

Ian Gordon: The famous Jaypers! I'll admit it: McGee was on an initial list, but in the end several scouts and managers' concerns that he's end up in the bullpen led us to look elsewhere. There's no question that his late-jump fastball (tops out at 95) is an exciting pitch, but like Montgomery manager Billy Gardner said, McGee's secondary pitches are key. He still gets under his slider a bit, leading the pitch to lack the kind of tilt and break the organization would like to see. But McGee's a big, strong kid would has bounced back from Tommy John surgery with no arm issues.

    Danny V (Boston): Hi Ian. Like yesterday's FSL list, the 2010 Southern League Top 20 seems to lack both the overall depth and the top-end quality of prospects that were features of a strong 2009 group. Would you call the 2010 list an uncharacteristically weak assembly, or just one that looks thin next to what was an unusually talented 2009 crop? Thanks for the chat!

Ian Gordon: That 2009 list is pretty strong, isn't it, Danny? That Jeremy Hellickson — the 2010 Minor League Player of the Year — was No. 9 on last year's list says a lot. Still, the Stantons and Pinedas of the world are pretty exciting players, and maybe we'd all feel a little better about this list had Starlin Castro, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado all qualified.

    Jon (Peoria): In the FSL list, Archer ranked ahead of Jackson. What caused that to be reversed in the SL rankings?

Ian Gordon: Ah, the subjective nature of lists, Jon. It's no exaggeration to say that those guys were thisclose in the minds of scouts, managers and BA staff. We went back and forth on those guys, but based on what our SL observers were telling us, Jackson just slipped by Archer. Think 8A and 8B, if you will. Archer's control issues (5 BB/9 at Tennessee) definitely didn't help his case, though.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Rubby de la Rosa get any consideration for your list?

Ian Gordon: De la Rosa was another guy praised by a couple of managers but brushed off by others. His numbers were good — 3-1, 1.41 in eight starts — but the fact that he spent more of the season in the Midwest League meant that several scouts and managers never saw him pitch in the SL. His manager, Carlos Subero, spoke at length about his about to add extra velocity late in games, and compared de la Rosa to Edinson V�lquez. That changeup is a plus pitch, too.

    Jonny (Chicago): BA published an article about Morel today that quoted Ozzie Guillen saying he will win a gold glove. What is Morel's ceiling as a ballplayer and who are some good comps? Thanks.

Ian Gordon: It's funny, Jonny: I heard from several scouts that Morel *should* be better with the glove, but his problem is that he tends to lose focus on some of the easier chances that come his way. One coach called Morel a "Joe Randa-type," and while I know that's not the kind of talk that usually gets fans pumped up, it seems like a fair projection. Even with his gap-to-gap approach, Morel may still have more power than Randa, who hit 123 HRs in 12 ML seasons, with a career-high of 17 in 2005.

    Dan (Boston): Hi Ian. Thanks for the chat today. Which prospects were toughest to leave off, and why did they miss the cut? Anybody who didn't qualify, or showed steady enough improvement that they're someone to watch for next year's top 20?

Ian Gordon: Great question, Dan. Aside from the aforementioned non-qualifiers (Castro, Teheran, Delgado, etc.), there were a number of guys who were close. Here's a few who come to mind: Carolina's Kris Negron, who's fast and very good defensively but just okay with the stick; Huntsville's Amaury Rivas, who shows a hard, sinking fastball but who needs to develop his secondary pitches and show better command; Tennessee's Robinson Chirinos, who has a solid approach at the plate and good instincts behind it, but who is a bit long in the tooth (26 years old) for this list; Mississippi's Juan Abreu, who made some nice strides in the 'pen this year; and Mobile's Konrad Schmidt, who really impressed his manager, former big leaguer Rico Brogna, with his ability to maintain his batting average (.315) despite his free-swinging, aggressive ways.

    Phil N (North York): Not to sure what to think of the scouting reports for 3B Alex Liddi or 3B Brent Morel. Does Liddi stay at 3B? Can Morel hit for enough power to be a starter for the Sox at 3B in 2011?

Ian Gordon: These are some of the same questions we heard from scouts, Phil. Most people that I talked with thought Liddi could stay at third, but that he needed to put in the time working on his reads and footwork. His arm definitely plays at third. And Morel, well, I've already discussed his power. Enough to be the ChiSox's starter? Stay tuned.

    Ryan D. (Fort Myers, FL): Have the Marlins expectations of Matt Dominguez changed in the few years since being drafted? How does he project after a full season in AA?

Ian Gordon: Ryan, there were few players who managers consistently mentioned when I asked them to name some of their favorite players around the league, but Dominguez was definitely part of that group. Carolina's David Bell even called Dominguez the best prospect in the league. While that's a bit of hyperbole, it shows that people still see star ability in Dominguez — and not just defensively. (Several people said Dominguez could win a Gold Glove now.) Now that he's finally gotten away from chokeholding himself into a slow swing, we'll see if can continue to make the necessary adjustments to boost that .252 average.

    Dave (Atlanta): Where would Delgado and Teheran have ranked had they been eligible?

Ian Gordon: I love these questions, Dave — it's exactly what I would ask if I were on the other side of the BA chat universe. This is a bit off the top of my head, so take it with a grain of salt, but I think Teheran would've leapfrogged both Pineda and Ackley into the No. 2 spot. At 19, he's that good. Delgado, I think, would've come in at No. 6, then, right after fellow Brave Mike Minor and before Brett Lawrie. At least that's what I think right now.

    Andy (Lexington, KY): What's the verdict on Collin Cowgill of Mobile...did he get any consideration for top 20?

Ian Gordon: Even though Rico Brogna really pushed him, Andy, Cowgill was hardly mentioned by other managers or scouts. He's got that Sheffield-like barrel wrap and high finish, and he basically has CF skills out there in left. He does struggle with good fastballs, though, and might be the kind of guy who turns out to have Triple-A batting tools. (Doesn't help that he's not the world's best baserunner, either.)

    Dan (D.C): If you were a GM would you rather have Stanton or Harper? Which one is more likely to manage a 50+ home run season in the majors?

Ian Gordon: This is a tough one, especially without knowing exactly where Harper will be playing in the field in the future. Right now, I'd want Harper more because of his versatility, but I think Stanton the more likely 50+ HR threat.

    Rich (Yonkers, NY): Hey thanks for the chat. What did scouts have to say about Jacksonville righthander Tom Koehler? Do they see him as a future big league starter?

Ian Gordon: Scouts didn't have much to say at all, which probably doesn't say much for Koehler's chances at cracking a big league rotation. With his average stuff, he has such a small margin of error. He gets people out with his changeup, and his slider/cutter sequence gives his fringe slider play up. All in all, though, he's a solid Triple-A pitcher.

    BHS (Southern California): Despite probably being ranked as the best Dodger prospect for the last few years, I remain skeptical of what kind of MLB player Dee Gordon can become? What is it about him, besides his speed, that should make me feel better about his ranking?

Ian Gordon: Two more questions, everyone. Gordon is a polarizing player, BHS. Some folks think that he's just coming into his own — after all, Flash's kid is still relatively new to the sport — and cite his plus makeup and projectable body as reasons for optimism. But one scout scoffed at Gordon's physique, telling me, "He looks like a little bird out there." Aside from his speed, though, Gordon projects as a 60 fielder and already possesses a 60 arm. So there's that.

    Greg T (London, ON): Based on the scouting reports and Ackley's struggles this season, it almost seems like Pineda and Ackley should be flipped in the rankings?

Ian Gordon: Yeah, Greg, these guys were very close. There are still a lot of folks who believe in Ackley, despite his struggles at second base. (In fact, many believe that Ackley's average season at the plate had a lot to do with his start in Double-A and the fact that he's playing out of position at 2B.) Most folks cite his advanced approach and great hands when claiming that he'll still be a difference-maker in the big leagues. While Pineda certainly had a stellar season, there were enough whispers about him being destined for the bullpen to keep Ackley out front. Thanks, everyone, for the chat! Hope I got to enough of your questions!