League Top 20 Prospects

2012 Texas League Top 20 Prospects Chat

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Will Lingo: Good afternoon, everyone. Back to back days of quadruple-headers with so much on the line, not to mention another issue of Baseball America wrapping up today. And book season is cranking up here as well. Gotta love October. I'm running on no food and low sleep, so pardon me if I reference teams that are no longer in the Texas League—Wil Myers looked great at Wichita!--but we'll try to keep it between the ditches. Now on with the countdown...

    Brian (South Elgin, IL): If Segura ends up at 2nd base, who ends up the better overall package 2nd baseman, Segura or Wong?

Will Lingo: Great question, Brian. I think Segura offers more upside, but Wong is probably the safer bet. Wong is just steady in every way, and while people sometimes say that as faint praise for a player, in Wong's case I think it indicates a guy who makes all-around contributions every day. Segura is more dynamic, and probably stronger. If you're asking me which player I would choose, that's really tough, but I think I would choose Wong. Obviously the rankings in our TL list reflect the opinions of people I talked to.

    GARY (Cali): Why would the Rockies G.M say those things about Arenado if the scouts are saying something different?

Will Lingo: That, too, is a good question. All I know from that perspective is what I have read, and maybe it was an effort to motivate Arenado, but it certainly didn't play out that way. Particularly interesting that now O'Dowd, while ostensibly still the GM, is overseeing the farm system more than the major league team. I am not an expert on Arenado's makeup by any means, but his success seems vitally important to the Rockies, so we'll see how they handle that situation.

    Shane (Miami): Will - Great list! When looking at the list of 5 years ago all but 1 on the list has at least made it to the major leagues, though there really haven't been any 'stars'. When we are looking at this list in 5 years time, are there any names that you really think will breakthrough and become stars? Thanks.

Will Lingo: Chase Headley begs to disagree with you. But I think what you're describing from five years ago would be more typical for the TL—maybe not no stars, but not many stars—simply because it's an eight-team league. But this year the star power was off the charts for the league. If Profar and Taveras aren't star-quality players I'll be quite surprised, and with the number of quality arms I'm sure a couple of them will emerge as stars as well. (With pitchers, it's always tough to tell which ones, of course.) There is still skepticism about Wil Myers from scouts who saw him in 2011, but there's obviously star power there as well.

    Jon (MO): Rosenthal has been great out of the pen for Cards and can clearly be an asset there next year. Do you think the Cards will still send him back to AAA to stay stretched out as a starter? What's a realistic upside - good #2 or more run of the mill #3 inning eater?

Will Lingo: Lots of Rosenthal questions, and with good reason. He made as significant an impression as any pitcher in the league. I love guys getting a chance to break into the big leagues as relievers, but I think you'd be crazy not to give Rosenthal every chance as a starter. You can read the scouting report in the main text, but he's a power arm who's relatively inexperienced as a pitcher, having originally gone to junior college as a shortstop. An interesting description I heard about him this season was that he showed creativity in his pitching, mixing in his offspeed stuff and not just trying to overpower hitters. If he fully develops all of his pitches, he could pitch toward the top of a rotation.

    Tony (Olathe, KS): What were the reviews like for Christian Colon?

Will Lingo: I'll probably write this quite a few times today, but the league had a good number of quality prospects who would make the Top 20 in an average year but just got squeezed out by higher-ceiling talent this year. In Colon's case, I think what we have discovered is that while he was the fourth overall pick in 2010, he's more of a solid all-around player than a star, without a real standout tool. He's not a good runner and doesn't offer power, but he's a good hitter with an idea at the plate. He's probably better suited for second base or a utility role, but he should be a big leaguer.

    Noel (Portland, OR): So, if Wil Myers is Baseball America's player of the year, why is he 3rd on this list?

Will Lingo: I noticed Jim Callis had a similar question (different players/league) regarding our Minor League All-Star Team and a prospect ranking. It's important to point out that our awards (POYs, all-star teams, etc.) are based more on a player's performance in a particular season than a prospect list is. Of course, being Baseball America we're going to look first at prospects, but by their nature those types of recognition are based on performance first. So Wil Myers performed better than any other prospects in the minors this season; but when we look at long-term potential, based on what we heard from scouts and managers in the Texas League, Profar and Taveras have a better chance of being impact players in the big leagues. As I alluded to earlier, there are still some who saw Myers in 2011 who aren't totally sold. But the consensus opinion is that this year's Myers was more like what people expect to see long-term. He was much more confident, played with energy and obviously showed great power. So for him to rank third just highlights what a great year it was in the league.

    Chris (STL): Will, did Jake Odorizzi not have enought Texas League innings to qualify? What are the minimum innings and plate appearances requirements anyway, would you please remind us?

Will Lingo: Correct. Odorizzi had only 38 innings before moving on up. In each league, a hitter needs to have one plate appearance per team game (usually 140 in the Texas League), and a starting pitcher needs to have 1/3 inning per team game (usually 46 2/3). Relievers have to make at least 20 appearances. What we're aiming for is that a player spends at least one-third of the season in a league to be ranked.

    Brian (Wake Forest, NC): Thanks for the great work on this top 20. I wanted to ask about a player not in that group. Jonathan Villar started hitting for significant power after a brutal April and then sabotaged his season with the broken hand. The industry appears to be down on him. Should we doubt whether his probable development track is as a MLB starting shortstop?

Will Lingo: Villar draws attention for his tools, his speed in particular, but there are a lot of questions about his bat. He could be an above-average defender and stole 39 bases in 86 games, so there's still a lot to be intrigued about, and as you note, he looked like he was on the way to a possible breakout before the broken hand. But he's such a free swinger that there are doubts about his ability to be in a major league lineup every day. With so many changes in the Astros front office, he'll have a lot to prove next year.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Hi, Will. Thanks for the chat. Did a lack of playing time lead to the omission of Michael Choice from this list? What shortcomings will he need to work on in the future?

Will Lingo: Quite a few questions about Choice, and he also fits into the category of guys who would have been in the Top 20 in an average year. And you could certainly have a defensible list with him in it. The problem is that he's a bat-first player who didn't produce this year, particularly when it came to power. It did seem that he was heating up when he broke his hand at the end of July, which ended his season early. He was in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak and was batting .435/.493/.710 in that run. Overall, though, he's swinging and missing too much, particularly against breaking balls, and not showing enough power. No reason to think he can't bounce back next year.

    Norm (Connecticut): Your thoughts on Justin Grimm? Was he close to making the top 20? The Rangers took a look this year when injuries piled up and he looked pretty hitable. Does he have the stuff to start 4-5 on a top team?

Will Lingo: Grimm is an interesting guy who was close to making the Top 20. Frisco and Springfield were clearly the most talented team in the league for me, so lots of interesting guys on both teams. I think he could certainly be a middle to back of the rotation starter for the Rangers, with a fastball in the low to mid-90s and a good curveball and changeup. As you note, he was much more hittable as he moved up to Triple-A and the big leagues, so he'll need to sharpen his command and offspeed stuff. But he should be able to do that.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): What can you tell us about Robbie Erlin's ceiling at this point? Was he a late cut from the list?

Will Lingo: Because Erlin was hurt for a good part of the year—he missed about three months due to a strained elbow ligament—it made sense to get some other people on the prospect list this season. He ranked No. 8 in the league last year and pitched well when he returned, and he's basically the same guy he was last year: a command-oriented lefty who fits in the middle of a rotation. He probably would have gotten a shot in San Diego this year had he stayed healthy, so I expect he'll get that opportunity next year.

    Bob (Fremont, CA): Joe Gardner had a great second half for Tulsa. Can you give us some feedback on him and whether he has a chance to be added to the roster for the Rockies? Thank you.

Will Lingo: I can't speak to the Rockies' roster decisions with any expertise, but I think most people see Gardner as more of a potentially useful bullpen arm than a major league starter. His fastball is fringe-average and he relies more on deception and a herky-jerky delivery than pure stuff, so that probably works best when hitters just get one look at him.

Will Lingo: All right, folks, sorry I couldn't get to all the questions but I've got to move on to the next thing. Thanks for all the great questions and tune in tomorrow for the IL.