League Top 20 Prospects

Texas League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo

Will Lingo: Welcome to our special Columbus Day chat, featuring the Texas League. Hope many of you are enjoying a day off today. We're here at Baseball America Towers cranking out scouting reports for the coming winter, so if you do have to work today we'll try to keep you from being productive to the extent possible. So let's crank up the new Avett Brothers live album and chat.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): How tough was it to gauge between Hosmer and Moustakas?

Will Lingo: Kyle from West Plains is coming strong today, and there's lots of excitement in Royals country, for good reason. Hosmer and Moustakas are close as hitters for sure, but to me it was pretty simple to give the nod to Moustakas because of his defensive value. I don't know that he'll be a Gold Glover or play third base for his entire career, but he'll play there for at least the early part and do a fine job, based on everything I heard. Hosmer is fine at first and probably has a little more power than Moustakas, but his value lies almost solely in his bat.

    P.A. (Winston-Salem): Thanks for the chat. What is it about Aaron Crow that still get's people excited? I'm a little suprised to see Crow ranked in the Top 10 considering he was demoted before season's end to High A and got rocked in his first start after the demotion.

Will Lingo: I know, doesn't make a lot of sense when you look at the results, but the stuff is incredible, and if you think about how long he went without pitching competitively, probably not a bad idea to give him a pass in his professional debut and see what kind of results he puts up next season. He is really figuring out how to attack hitters, how to use his pitches, how to command the ball consistently, the whole deal. Some people thought that even when he was dominant this year it was almost by accident. It's not the same thing as Andrew Brackman because Brackman's struggles were mostly the result of injury, but in a similar way it looked like Brackman had no clue for a season and a half, then late this year he started to show you what all the fuss was about. That's what people think could happen for Crow next season.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Jemile Weeks' stock rise or fall this season, and was he considered for this list?

Will Lingo: I would say Weeks' stock dropped this season. (He was considered for the list because he met the minimums for plate appearances.) We have to give him a break because he missed more than two months with a hip injury, but when he did play he didn't make much of an impression. His best tool is his speed, and it doesn't really play because he's not a great hitter. His defense at second is just OK, and managers didn't see a clear major league role for him.

    Kyle (STL): Did any Cardinals besides Sanchez get considered?

Will Lingo: You had some other bullpen arms who got consideration, like Adam Reifer and Francisco Samuel, but the crop of hitters was pretty weak. I think we're about ready to write off future stardom for Daryl Jones and Pete Kozma, who had a really disappointing year in his second shot at the TL. The most interesting S-Cards hitters were Matt Carpenter, who gets the most out of his talent but probably doesn't have enough bat to be an everyday third baseman in the big leagues, and Steven Hill, who is a potential big league backup catcher.

    Cloochmere (VT): That looks like a lot of relief pitchers for a top 20 list. Was the talent down or were there just a lot of guys that didn't qualify?

Will Lingo: Yeah, I think the talent was down some, really not a lot of hitters you see as good bets to be everyday players after the top of the list. And I thought the same thing you did as I was writing up the back of the list. I do see a few guys in that relief group who have closer upside, but more than that I think you're looking at middle relievers and set-up guys and those aren't necessarily the most exciting players to have on a prospect list. Trevor Reckling on the back of the list is a personal favorite of mine; I really hope he figures it out.

    Justin (Kansas City): Did Danny Duffy get a mention on your short list, and was his sabbatical from the game what ended up costing him a spot?

Will Lingo: Duffy came up just short of qualifying for the list based on pitching just 39 2/3 innings (he needed 46 2/3 to qualify), so I guess you could say his time away kept him off the list, but not for any punitive reason. He would've been on the list had he qualified, as scouts and managers love his loose arm, but his sabbatical definitely raised questions about his makeup.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): Why doesn't Clint Robinson get a top 20 spot? The guy won the triple crown in the league and has hit everywhere he's been.

Will Lingo: I knew we would have a Clint Robinson question, and Kyle is one of many we have in the queue. What it comes down to is that it was hard to find anyone who believed Robinson will hit like this in the big leagues. In fact, he hadn't slugged anywhere close to the .625 he put up this year since Rookie ball, and it was well known what a launching pad Northwest Arkansas was this season. Robinson's home-road splits were Moustakas-like, but they were pronounced. People also noted that Robinson benefited from hitting in a stacked lineup all season. Robinson is also a fringy first baseman who played a lot of DH this season and still had 15 errors. He's not a good runner so the outfield isn't really an option. That's not to say he doesn't have value. He's a good hitter with an easy stroke and a knack for taking the ball the other way. He's just more of a bench player than an everyday player, and he's 25, so that's why he wasn't in the 20. I thought it was telling that even among league voters who were presumably focused more of performance than we were, Moustakas won the league MVP even though Robinson won the triple crown and was in the league all year.

    Mike C. (Lynchburg, VA): Hey Will, thanks for the chat. Gut feeling - who will turn out to be the better southpaw starter - Montgomery or Perez and why? Obviously Montgomery ranked higher, but he was two years older.

Will Lingo: I would go with Montgomery. I think Perez backed up a little bit this year from his breakout in 2009, and scouts said they didn't see his electric stuff as often this year.

    Don (Rosemont, IL): Matt Clark has put up big power numbers but are his other tools enough for him to profile as a starting 1B?

Will Lingo: Well, the other tools aren't great but almost don't matter because it's all going to come down to his bat. He's a big-bodied player who is a below-average runner and is limited to first base, but he's OK there. He piles up huge strikeout numbers, and his 146 this season was a career high, so he's not going to produce a great average. It's all about his power. He hit 28 home runs this season, including 12 at home, which is impressive for San Antonio which is a noted pitcher's park. So to me he looks more like a Triple-A slugger, but that power is going to get him plenty of chances to prove people wrong.

    Ryan (Dallas): Is Reckling's future a SP or RP?

Will Lingo: I ranked him based on the optimistic view that he can still be a starter, but he really needs to prove in 2011 that he can do that.

    John Dark (Moline, IL): Adrian Cardenas again hit in Midland and not past that. He's just 22. Is he already done as a prospect?

Will Lingo: I think "done" is probably a bit strong, but most of the people I talked to see him as more of a utilityman than an everyday player. He does everything OK, but he doesn't do anything exceptional. You get a lot of "OKs" when you ask people about him. OK defense, OK hitter, OK runner. That is not a big indicator of excitement. He also has holes in his swing and doesn't have anything more than gap power. He played both second and third this year but fits better at second.

    Chuck (Wichita): Don't want to be greedy, but I was surprised that Johnny Giovatella didn't make the list. Also, what were the reviews on the breakout season by Paulo Orlando?

Will Lingo: Royals fans, demanding all of the TL list! Of the position players who missed the 20, I would say Derrick Robinson probably came closest to making the list, and people generally like him better than Clint among Northwest Arkansas Robinsons. He obviously gets noticed for his speed, but he showed better aptitude for the game this year and could be a top of the order threat if he walks more. He looks like he could be at least a fourth outfielder, though. He's almost two years younger than Orlando, who is a similar player but also started to figure it out this year. Both can be game changers on the bases and in the outfield, so it's just a question of how much they'll hit. Giavotella, on the other hand, you can be pretty sure he'll hit but the question is whether his game will play at higher levels. It's effort over skill in most aspects for Giavotella, and his swing can get big at times though he rarely has a bad at-bat. He's aggressive at the plate and in the field and hits a lot of balls in the air but doesn't have the power to get away with that approach. Wouldn't be surprised to see him reach the big leagues, but I would expect it to be as a bench player.

    Rick (Wichita): Need to know if this win deprived Royals fan is setting himself up for disappointment. With what appears to be loads of talent working its way through the farm system I'm having visions of post-season contention by 2012 and legit World Series aspirations by 2014. Rational optimism or are the first real rays of hope in years causing delusional thinking?

Will Lingo: A lot of things have to go right for your minor league talent to translate into major league winning, but the talent in the system now is legit, I will say that. If you're looking for your best case, just look back at how bad the (Devil) Rays were when we ranked their system so highly a few years ago. Having premium talent and a depth of it is a good recipe for success, so I think rational optimism is a fair description.

    Ryan (California): Was Tyler Chatwood eligible for the rankings? If he wasn't where would he have ranked and if he was would he fall in the 21-30 range? What's the scouting report on him?

Will Lingo: Chatwood did qualify but was just edged out for the list by Reckling. He produced better numbers in the Cal League this year (and in fact is No. 4 on that list), but had poor strikeout-walk numbers in the TL as he adjusted to Double-A. His fastball ranges from 92-96 and he's a bulldog but a big undersized, and some scouts don't like his delivery. But I think he has a good chance to be a big league starter if he can refine his command. Really couldn't argue with you if you took him over Reckling—and they're just six months apart in age—I just think Reckling's ceiling is higher.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Do you see Brothers becoming the closer in Colorado down the line? Can it be as early as next year?

Will Lingo: For most guys, it's hard to say whether they can be closers until you see them pitch in the big leagues and see how they handle it. Brothers has the stuff for sure, and I think he will contribute in Colorado next year. I wouldn't depend on him to be the closer yet, but it's possible.

    Brian (Nashville): Where would Danny Duffy rank on the list if he was eligible?

Will Lingo: Royals fans definitely interested in Duffy, Dwyer and Lamb, all of whom were short of qualifying for the list. Hard to know exactly where you'd rank them because once you know they don't qualify they almost leave your thinking, but I think I would take Duffy, then Lamb, then Dwyer. Duffy definitely would have found his way into the top 10 I think, and the other guys probably in the 11-20. Again, hard to know for sure, but there were some quality arms in the top 10.

    Steve (St. Louis): Can you give us some information on Pete Kozma? He made a ton of errors this season, and still hasn't shown he can hit. Is it too early to write him off?

Will Lingo: Really a disappointing year. Last year even though he looked overmatched at times, people generally spoke well of him because he played hard and made progress as the season went on. This year he made no progress, showing a lack of concentration at times, and some speculated that he was unhappy about being back in Double-A. One scout said it looked like he was "in his own head." And even at his best he's probably a fringe everyday player based on how much he hits. So he'll need to bounce back next season or get written off.

    Ron (Denver): The report on Rosario sounds encouraging. Do you share their optimism regarding his ability to come back and catch after surgery? His bat sounds outstanding!

Will Lingo: Yeah, he might be the most intriguing player on the list, and if he hadn't gotten hurt you could debate him for the top catching prospect in the minors. I do think the recovery from the injury should be pretty straightforward because it's simply a ligament repair, but it seems like in other sports it takes a while to come back from the ACL, so we'll see.

    Tom (San Francisco, CA): Cedric Hunter is remarkably ordinary. Do you forsee the Padres giving him a look spring training?

Will Lingo: Yeah, I think that's a fair way to describe him. If he goes crazy in spring training and gets noticed somehow, sure he could get a look, but no way do I think the Padres are counting on him when they're mapping out their big league roster for next year.

    Brandon (Texas): Josh Horton had a solid year. Does he have a future with the A's?

Will Lingo: Obviously we have a soft spot around here for Josh Horton because of his contributions while at Carolina, and he has a chance to be a major league utility player. Doesn't have any flash in his game but he's solid every day. He played shortstop for Midland but probably would fit better at second. The A's certainly don't seem to have him prominently in their plans, though, so we'll see if he moves up next season.

    Tom (San Francisco, CA): Do you think Matt Clark would be eaten alive in the majors?

Will Lingo: The strikeout numbers would be high.

    Sam (Brooklyn): Did Corey Brown get any consideration for this list? Or was he too old (24) to be considered a top prospect in AA?

Will Lingo: He's been on the fringes of the list for a couple of years now and slid in at No. 19 last year. He split this year between Double-A and Triple-A and for me just doesn't show enough on a consistent basis to make me think he can be a big league outfielder. He does have a good bat, but I just don't think it's good enough.

    Brian (Nashville): I don't quite get the uneasiness about NW Arkansas' home stats this year. From what I understand, runs were not scored nearly as much at Arvest last year as this year, and the home team still scored a lot more runs than road teams this year. Couldn't it be possible that NW Arkansas' players are just really good offensive players?

Will Lingo: We are going to put BA's Matt Eddy on this question because it interests me as well, and people who have seen the league for several years also noted that the ball did not fly out at NW Arkansas in the past like it did this year. Some thought maybe it was hot weather, but maybe your theory that they simply had better hitters is just as reasonable. CSI: Northwest Arkansas!

    Jim (Evandale): Do you think Sanchez starts the season in AAA or on the ML roster in 2011?

Will Lingo: Triple-A is the easy answer but a lot will be determined in spring training.

    Dan (Tennessee): Will, what can Moustakas do in his prime for KC against major league pitching? Is .275/.340/.480 a reasonable projection or is this too optimistic?

Will Lingo: I think the average might be a little better than that.

    P.A. (Winston-Salem): As I listen to Shame and reading the chat I wonder...would Duffy ranked above Montgomery had he not taken a sabbatical?

Will Lingo: Just a tip for you chatters, gratuitous references to the music I'm listening to is a great way to get your question answered.

    Greg (New York): Hey Will,any chance James Darnell ever becomes the Padres everyday thirdbaseman,thanks.

Will Lingo: Would like to see more power but yes.

    Jeff (LA): Will is it me or does this list tail off in a hurry after the top few guys?

Will Lingo: It's not just you.

    Kevin (San Diego): Do you see Simon Castro as a future starter or reliever?

Will Lingo: Starter.

    Kade Nelson (Chippewa Falls,Wi.): Hi Will.Just wondering what your thoughts are on Kasey Kiker.Were his struggles mostly injury related? Does he still have a future as a starter? Thanks

Will Lingo: Not a believer.

    Kevin (San Diego): Is Logan Forsythe done as a top prospect? I know his power didn't grade high, but that still doesn't excuse his weak numbers this year.

Will Lingo: He's not a personal favorite, but I still think he has a chance to be an offensive second baseman.

    Craig (Springdale, AR): NW Arkansas Naturals: Baseball America's 2010 Minor League Team of the Year?

Will Lingo: Not a bad choice. Tune in in a couple of issues to find out if they win it. Thanks for all the Northwest Arkansas questions. A lot of the league's talent clearly was based there. We'll wrap up the chats with the Triple-A leagues, starting tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your Columbus Day.