League Top 20 Prospects

Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Nathan Rode

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    @Jaypers413 (IL): Nate, are you privy to the reason(s) why Hultzen's command suddenly diminished as much as it did?

Nathan Rode: Good afternoon (morning still for you West Coasters) everybody. Let's get this party started with Hultzen's command because I'm sure everyone is asking the same question as Jaypers. When I talked to managers and scouts they couldn't put their finger on any one thing that made his command disappeared. They pointed out that Triple-A hitters don't chase as much because they have more experience, so he pitched behind in the count a lot, but they also made the point that they see why he was drafted so high and think he can be special if the command comes back around.

    Rick (LA): Did any of Albuquerque's roster come close to your list?

Nathan Rode: I originally had Tim Federowicz at the back end of the Top 20, but he was a late cut because of questions about the bat. He's at least a backup in my mind as he provides very good defense and has some pop. If he can concentrate on staying up the middle and not being a dead pull guy, he could hit for enough average to hold down a starting job.

    James Arnott (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada): Thanks for the chat !!! Will Skaggs start the year in the diamonbacks rotation or will he play second fidle to Bauer as the Diamondbacks have a ton of bonus money invested in Bauer and need results from Bauer to justify spending it?

Nathan Rode: Skaggs had a nice audition down the stretch for Arizona and I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the rotation, but it really depends on what those guys do in spring training.

    Alex (MA): Do you see Adam Eaton as solid regular or a 4th outfielder? He sure looks like an impact player to me.

Nathan Rode: Managers loved Eaton and he would've ranked a lot higher if this were just a straight poll not factoring in upside. With that said, I think he can be at least a solid regular. He handles the bat well, plays good defense and is a plus runner.

    Brad (Chicago): Travis D'Arnaud appears to have nothing left to prove at AAA and is the best catching prospect in baseball. Do you think the Jays will try to deal Arrencibia in the off season and make D'Arnaud their Opening Day starter at catcher?

Nathan Rode: If he hadn't gotten injured I think d'Arnaud would've found himself in the big leagues by the end of the regular season and pushed for a spot out of spring training next year. But given that it's a knee injury and he's a catcher I think the Blue Jays will probably start him off again in Triple-A next season. I'd hold onto Arencibia (and they have Mathis too) for right now until d'Arnaud makes his debut and shows that he's healthy and ready to stick.

    Chris (KC): Nathan, I was surprised not to see Martin Perez; did he have too much MLB service time to still qualify as a prospect? Or did he just not make the list?

Nathan Rode: Several questions about Martin Perez, as I expected. He did qualify, just didn't make the list. I went in thinking he would make it, but the lack of strikeouts and walk rate is concerning and ultimately kept him off the list. His upside isn't what it was once thought to be. He could be a force out of the bullpen, but he needs to miss more bats to have success in the big leagues.

    Casey Hudson (Bothell, Wa.): Hi Nathan! New subscriber, first time asking a question. Thanks for the chat. What did you see and hear about Nick Franklkin's performance in the PCL? Did you hear anything positive about him as a defensive shortstop?

Nathan Rode: Just like if you're looking at the numbers, evaluators weren't blown away by Franklin, but they acknowledge that he was 21 in Triple-A playing a premium position. He could be an everyday second baseman, which would obviously raise more questions in Seattle. He doesn't seem like a long-term solution at shortstop, but he's still young and only got a taste of Triple-A so we'll see what he can do next season.

    Andrew C (Chicago): Wow is it me or is this list LOADED? Interesting to get your opinion on what the cubs will do with Jackson. Last year the coaching staff reworked Rizzo's swing after struggling in his initial call up last year, placing his hands lower, causing a quicker swing and improved contact rate. I have heard this is something that they plan to do with Jackson this offseason. Have you heard similarly that is the plan with Jackson? Do you think his swing has the ability to adjust enough to improve his contact rate enough to hit .250-.260 in the majors?

Nathan Rode: I do think it's a pretty strong list. Good players always get left off because it's a 16-team league, but I felt there were more this year than last. I haven't talked to the Cubs about that specifically, but I don't see Jackson following that parallel. Rizzo's strikeout rate was by no means alarming while Jackson's is. Also, it's more than just swing mechanics for Jackson. He doesn't make the necessary in-game adjustments. Pitchers noticed that and ate him up. He's a good athlete with solid tools across the board, but I'm skeptical.

    Jim H. (Sphinx Park, CO): What is the likely career peak for Odorizzi? Seems like a #3 starter, but am I overrating or underrating him?

Nathan Rode: I could see that as his realistic ceiling. He doesn't blow you away with his stuff, but his pitchability is advanced and helps it play up.

    Jack (Toronto): Did Josh Vitters get any consideration for the list? It always surprises me that even though he's been around for ever, he is young for his competition and this year he put up some nice numbers.

Nathan Rode: Vitters is perplexing prospect. He has a knack for making contact and doesn't walk much because of his uncanny ability to put just about everything in play. He got a little bit of consideration, but not a lot of support. He puts together good at-bats so he can be successful. He's not a great defender at third and there's a split camp on whether he'll stay there. He's not a star and won't be the center of an offense, but could carve out an everyday role.

    Chris (KC): I know everybody says Wil Myers is a RFer, but do observers think that he can play CF without killing you, at least for a few years?

Nathan Rode: Guys I talked to felt he handled center field fine but fit better on a corner. He showed good instincts to make up for his speed and can play it in a pinch, but I wouldn't expect full seasons out of him at that position.

    Eri (Oakland, CA): Was Brad Peacock a late cut from the list? Did his stock much to you since this time last year?

Nathan Rode: He was on other versions of the list, but got squeezed out so he'd be in the next group of five or so players. He pitches to both sides of the plate and threw all of his pitches for strikes. He can fit in the back of a major league rotation.

    Bryan (Grand Prairie, TX): Looking at Rosenthal, do you think he'll be a Dan Bard type? Lots of power out of the bullpen, but won't pan out as a starter?

Nathan Rode: I didn't ask about Rosenthal in the PCL because he didn't come close to qualifying, but other reports point to him being a starter down the road. He is pretty fun to watch out of the bullpen though.

    Jack (Toronto): Did Welington Castillo get any consideration? His numbers weren't that great in the PCL, but he looked like a starting catcher in Chicago over the last couple months.

Nathan Rode: A little bit, yes. He's a good catch/throw guy and has some power, but he needs to use the whole field more to hit for enough average.

    Larry (Midwest): Thanks for the chat. What are your thoughts on Fresno RHP Heath Hembree?

Nathan Rode: It's tough for relievers to make the list in a 16-team league and Hembree didn't get enough support. However, he has a plus fastball and good secondary stuff so he has some upside. He just needs to cut down on base runners allowed.

    Frank (Chicago): Did Wily Peralta get consideration for this list? Thoughts on his pitches? Future #2-3 SP?

Nathan Rode: Initially yes, but after a few conversations it was evident that he didn't really impress anybody. He has good stuff, but needs to command it better.

    Dan (Atlanta): Of those eligible, how many of these guys are likely to make BA's top 100?

Nathan Rode: I'd have everyone in there through Hultzen (minus Rizzo obviously). Gose and Grandal won't qualify either. I might have Gyorko, though he'd be teetering on the edge I think.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Why do you believe the Cardinals give Adams such a brief look in the Majors before sending him down again? Many would gladly take his plate discipline over someone like Allen Craig.

Nathan Rode: I just don't think there was room on that roster to give him enough at-bats. I really like Adams, but don't sell Craig short. He can really hit and his on-base skills aren't poor by any stretch. And he doesn't strike out much either.

    Ben (Leland Grove): It's fairly safe to say there is a large assortment of talent on both your list and the Texas League's list. Do you believe the PCL has a higher collective ceiling than the TL's?

Nathan Rode: I think the Texas League's collective ceiling is higher. And I'm not just saying that to suck up to Will Lingo. We leave that to Aaron Fitt.

    Dan (Ohio): Best hitting prospect — Matt Adams or Jonathan Singleton? Who has the best power potential?

Nathan Rode: It's close. I probably give the hit tool to Singleton, and I'm the low-man on him in the office I think. I'll give the power edge to Adams, though that's close as well.

    Scott (Toronto): Do you think Gose made enough of an impression with the Jays in September to warrant a starting CF job next season? Rasmus tailed off quite a bit in the second half.

Nathan Rode: It depends on the health of some players as I think that's really what warranted Gose playing in the big leagues this year. He still needs to make adjustments at the plate, but has big tools elsewhere in his game.

Nathan Rode: A Blue Jays questions seems like a good spot to wrap things up as I have one more call to make this afternoon before turning my Blue Jays Top 30 into Sir Jim Callis. Thanks for the questions! Check back tomorrow to chat with J.J. Cooper, who has a borderline unhealthy obsession with indy ball. If you're not following me on Twitter, you should. I'm @bahighschool and will be heading to Florida next week with my sidekick Conor Glassey (@conorglassey) for the World Wood Bat tournament to see some of the top draft prospects for 2013. Have a good day!