Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Perrotto

Pittsburgh Pirates: Chat

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

Moderator: Hi, everyone. It's a cold day here in beautiful Beaver Falls, a good time to talk some baseball.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Is the whole Alvarez signing after the deadline issue going to pave the way for similiar incidents in the future, especially if Boras is involved in the equation?

John Perrotto: That's a question that only time will answer but I think anytime MLB or one of its clubs can tweak Boras it will.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
How would you compare Cutch to Maybin, tool for tool?

John Perrotto: First, let me say I've never had the pleasure of seeing Maybin in person. However, from what scouts tell me, McCutchen has better strike zone judgement and a tad more range in center. Maybin has more pop. I think both will have outstanding careers and it's more than a little ironic that they went back-to-back in the first round of the 2005 draft.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
How far out of the Top 10 did Moskos fall, and what will his eventual role be - reliever or starter?

John Perrotto: Not to reveal any secrets from the book but Moskos is in the teens. I think he winds up being a reliever and maybe only a left-on-left guy at that. Dave Littlefield will never live down thinking Moskos was a better prospect than Matt Wieters.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
I'd like to get your input on Wes Freeman, if I could. BA praised his 5-tool abilities, but called them extremely raw. Are scouts telling you any differently? Where will he be starting the 2009 season at, and did he make your Top 30?

John Perrotto: Freeman is in the 20s. He's exactly what you wrote, very talented and very raw. He's an intriging guy, though, and the Pirates might really hit the jackpot by drafting guys like him, Robbie Grossman and Quinton Miller in the later rounds and steering them away from college with sizeable bonuses. It was new and welcome strategy by an an organization that really needs to upgrade its talent base.

 Q:  Benjamin Linus from Boston asks:
Thanks for taking my question, I see the aggressive rankings on Morris and it gets me excited, but this kid is always injured! If he is healthy for a full season, what do you expect from him? Do you think he can rise through the minors and actually be a #3 starter? Thanks!

John Perrotto: Considering the Pirates' dearth of high-end prospects, I'll stand by that Morris rating. I always put him No. 4 and Lincoln No. 5 until I learned Morris would miss some time at the start of the upcoming season becuase of foot surgery. Health is indeed an injury but Morris has so much talent that he has to be in the top five, regardless.

 Q:  Ike from RI asks:
While we wait and see how Alvarez performs in the minors, who do you see taking the 3B job in the meantime at PNC - LaRoche or Walker? Which of the two has better overall defensive skills?

John Perrotto: LaRoche is going to get his chance to be the third baseman this season with Walker back at Class AAA, where they'd like to see him have that dominant season he has yet to have in his career. However, Walker has become outstanding defensively and could push LaRoche by midseason. Alvarez, on the other hand, might be eating his way off third base and over to first.

 Q:  Harry from Erie, PA asks:
What are your thoughts on Matt Hague? Top 30 prospect in your eyes?

John Perrotto: I like him. His bat can play and he has a strong arm. He's in the top 30.

 Q:  Elly from Denver asks:
Had he signed, would Scheppers have made your Top 10? What are your thoughts on his mechanics?

John Perrotto: He definitely would have been in the top 10. As far as the mechanics, I only saw him from a long distance work out in the bullpen at PNC Park while I was in the press box. They all look like ants from that vantage point.

 Q:  Lorenzo from Downers Grove Ill asks:
Did Jordy Mercer make your Top 30? Is his frame too big for him to stay at SS?

John Perrotto: Mercer is in the top 30. I think third base is likely in his future but the Pirates are going to give him ever chance to show he can be a shortstop.

 Q:  dave from West Lake, OH asks:
Is Quinton Miller worth the amount Pittsburgh gave him? What impressed management most about him?

John Perrotto: The Pirates need power arms and this kid has one. He was worth taking a gamble on.

 Q:  Mike C. from Lynchburg, VA asks:
Thanks for the chat John! Did McCutchen regress in your opinion this season? He also seems to struggle against right-handed pitching during his minor-league career, does this also effect his long-term future?

John Perrotto: This is why McCutchen will start this upcoming season back at Class AAA. They would like to see him polish up his overall game and hitting right-handers better is one of the things he needs to improve on. I think McCutchen is going to be a different (not necessarily worse) player than maybe we all projected a few years back. Not a No. 3 hitter with pop but a very good leadoff hitter with on-base skills and plus defense.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Lincoln and Moskos really had high ERAs last season. Doesn't this give Pirate fans room for pause?

John Perrotto: Lincoln's ERA is not as much as concern. The big things is that he got through the season. The results will be more important this season. On the other hand, Moskos' ERA is a big-time reason for concern. He had no arm issues and just didn't pitch well.

 Q:  Katie from San Francisco, CA asks:
What does the future hold for Jamie Romak? Is he still on your radar?

John Perrotto: I'm a big Romak fan. While Moneyball might be out of style now, I love guys who hit homers and draw walks. I suspect I'm a bigger Romak fan than perhaps the decision-makers in the Pirates' organization, though, as evidenced by him being left off the 40-man roster.

 Q:  Dale Berra's Stash from Only Bucs asks:
What is Cunningham's offensive ceiling and his ultimate defensive position?

John Perrotto: Scouts from other organizations just love Cunningham and think the Pirates were astute in overlooking his high-school knee injury and drafting him. I think he could be a .280, 20-HR guy and I'm inclined to think he can play shortstop off what I've been told. I did not see the GCL club last year and am looking forward to seeing him in spring training.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Jared Keel hit 20 homers last season. Any love for him on the list of prospects?

John Perrotto: He's definitely a sleeper, a late-round pick from Troy who just keeps hitter. At some point, and I include myself here, he's going to make everyone start taking notice.

 Q:  Massive Attack from Sugar Land asks:
When will the Pirates bite the bullet and just make Moskos a full-time reliever? Maybe then we can some value out of this terrible pick.

John Perrotto: I don't think the time has come yet. The Pirates have invested too much money to just give up on the idea of him starting. Now if he struggled again this year ...

 Q:  Kyle Reese from The Future asks:
On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are the Pirates about Alvarez's conditioning to this point?

John Perrotto: Publically, 5. Privately, 8 1/2.

 Q:  Chad Hermansen from My condo asks:
Please discuss Ronald Uviedo - he seems like a pretty deep sleeper relief candidate.

John Perrotto: He is a sleeper no more because the Pirates put him on the 40-man roster. He is a hard thrower who has started to throw strikes in the last year, giving him a legit chance to eventually pitch in the majors. Here's an interesting note: The Mariners released him out of the Venezuelan Summer League just like the Dodgers did with Romulo Sanchez.

 Q:  B. Bonds from San Fran asks:
Can you tell us about Nelson Pereira's arsenal of pitches? Was he just an advanced command guy against lesser competition in the GCL or can he really be something?

John Perrotto: All his staff rates as average to slightly above acroess the board and is good enough to at least provide hope that he can continue to pitch well beyond the GCL. Interesting tidbit: He would be the first El Salvadoran to play in the majors if he makes it.

 Q:  Jim Garbark from Glenshaw asks:
Can Walker's bat carry an OF corner if/when Alvarez leap frogs him for 3B in PGH?

John Perrotto: That's a question I have, too, and I don't know the answer. Having seen Walker be an all-state wide receiver in high school, I do know that he has the speed and athleticism to play an outfield corner. His arm would also play out there. Nobody from the Pirates has said this but I firmly believe corner OF is Walker's future.

 Q:  B. Grublis from Boston asks:
Is there anything to Andury Acevedo as a prospect?

John Perrotto: He's a big shortstop in the Cal Ripken Jr. mold and has plenty of tools. However, he has yet to hit in the GCL. He's a prospect, sure, but a LONG-range prospect at this point.

 Q:  L. Lennon from Robinson asks:
With 3B getting a little crowded on the org depth chart, can Matt Hague's bat carry a move to 1B? Seems like he should be Lynchburg's opening day 1B with Alvarez at 3B.

John Perrotto: I could see Hague more as a corner OF because his strong arm would be wasted at first base.

 Q:  James from Whiteman Air Force Base, MO asks:
How was Zach Duke left off of the 2012 SP line-up? He still shows signs of dominance here and there like his rookie year and has pitched just as good if not better than Snell and Gorzelanny

John Perrotto: James, first and foremost, thank you for your service. I like Zach Duke and ranked him as the Pirates' No. 1 prospect going into 2005. However, he has clearly fallen behind Snell and Gorzelanny. Duke had one win in his last 17 starts last season and that makes it hard to project him to far into the future.

 Q:  Bob Smith from Toronto asks:
Will the Pirates put Mercer at SS and D'Arnaud at 2B (in Lynchburg) to start the year and then move them up the chain together? Seems like that would eliminate some position conflicts on the depth chart at SS.

John Perrotto: It's something they are considering but they won't finalize any plans until the latter stages of spring training.

 Q:  D. Littlefield's Ghost from Still haunting the franchise asks:
What are your thoughts on some of the Latin talent percolating in the system finally (Marte, Noris, Cayones, Barrios, etc.)?

John Perrotto: I have a hard time getting too excited about the Latin kids, frankly, until they come to the States and have a little success in the minor leagues. However, I know that scouts do like Marte and Noris and the Pirates were extremely excited to sign Barrios out of Colombia. Like I said, I'm always conservative in ranking guys who are playing in the DSL and VSL.

 Q:  cliff jordan from chicago asks:
Why is Jim Negrych not ahead of Shelby Ford? He certainly had a very fine 2008.

John Perrotto: Ford projects as the better player because he has more pop and is better defensively. That being said, I would never count Jim Negrych out. He's a scrapper and really can put the bat on the ball.

 Q:  Jim from Falls River asks:
Will Grossman, Cunningham, and Q Miller all start the year in full-season ball (Low A)?

John Perrotto: I think it would be a real reach to see Miller at West Virginia to start the season since he sat out all last summer before signing. I'm all but certain he will start the year in extended spring. However, I think Cunningham almost surely will go to low A and Grossman's chances are better than 50/50.

 Q:  Don Sharp from Lancaster, Pa asks:
Hello John........It appears the 2008 Draft has given some depth to the system. As I follow these drafts, I noticed 2008 had a strong emphasis on corner guys with power, shortstops, and centerfielders. I wonder if 2009 will see more emphasis on pitchers and catchers?

John Perrotto: I think it all depends on what type of players are available. I don't think you can go into any draft and say your only going to draft certain positions.

 Q:  Sean from Cablinasian asks:
What do you see Jim Negyrch's ultimate role being? He's obviously a good contact hitter with good strike zone judgement, but not a lot of power and plays defense like it's a contact sport.

John Perrotto: He might be the hardest guy in the Pirates' system to project right now because of everything you just wrote. He could be Wade Boggs (I kid you not, I had a scout make that comparison) or he could never get to the major leagues.

 Q:  Wilbur Miller from Silver Spring, MD asks:
Hi John, How close did Jarek Cunningham come to the top ten? Is he going to get a chance to open at West Virginia? What are his chances of staying at SS? Best of luck with the new gig, btw.

John Perrotto: Cunningham just missed the top 10 and I have a feeling he's going to be a fixture in it in the coming years. Thanks for the well wishes on my new gig. Much appreciated. Please e-mail me when you have a moment.

 Q:  Jeff Sollars from Chambersburg, Pa asks:
Hi John, Do the Pirates consider Brad Corley any type of prospect at all at this point?

John Perrotto: His star is fading fast, which is sad, because he's a hard worker and a good kid.

 Q:  Stan from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
I was surprised to see Sues and McCutchen in the Top 10, but not Quinton Miller. What gives? Do those 2 guys have a higher upside than a 19 year old kid touching 95 this summer?

John Perrotto: I've got to see Miller throw at least one professional pitch before I can say he's a top 10 guy. McCutchen and Sues both throw 95 mph. Miller could very well be in the top five next winter, though.

 Q:  John from Illinois asks:
I ran into 1982 CY Young winner Pete Vuckovich the other day, and one player he told me to watch out for was RHP / Tom Boleska. I looked up his numbers and they looked pretty good, think he was hurt for part of the year though. What type of prospect is he? I saw the Pirates gave him $100,000 as a 35th round draft pick several years ago.

John Perrotto: Boleska is indeed a sleeper. I saw him work two innings of relief at Hickory last season and just blow away guys. I could see him really breaking out this season.

 Q:  Ryan from NY,NY asks:
Im sure you're gonna get a lot of questions about this, but can you promise me Alvarez will get back into shape? Is he ballooning so he can withstand the brunt of an entire professional season?

John Perrotto: As a chubby guy myself, I don't think I can make promise about anyone being in shape.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
What happened to Duke Welker? He had a sub-par year, how far has his stock fallen? Out of the Top 30?

John Perrotto: He had a horrible year at low A. I don't think you can give up on him yet but he needs to bounce back this year.

 Q:  Gregg from Southern Calif asks:
The Pirates have the 4th overall pick in this years draft. Scott Boras has is advising many of this years top college and high school talent. Will the Pirates deal with Mr. Boras this year or go in a different direction?

John Perrotto: I believe the Pirates would take a Boras client again. The new regime understands that you can't go through the draft every year being scared to take the best players.

 Q:  Ryan from Vancouver, Washington asks:
Miguel Mendez- Great power numbers in 50 GCL AB's, not so good at State College. Legitimate prospect or 50 lucky AB's? Do you have any info on him?

John Perrotto: Too small a sample size. Let's wait and see what he does in 2009.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Are you a believer that Tabata will eventually hit for enough power to justify being an everyday corner OF?

John Perrotto: I saw Tabata twice in Altoona late last year and really liked him. I see why he was so highly regarded in years past. Yes, I think he will be an everyday player and a pretty good one in the majors.

 Q:  Andy from Sarver, PA asks:
I was disappointed that the Pirates aired their opinion in the paper regarding Pedro Alvarez's conditioning. Even if this talented young player was out of shape, why not keep it within the organization. What are your thoughts on the way they handled this?

John Perrotto: The PIrates were asked a legitimate question about a legitimate issue and gave an honest answer. I believe honesty is always the best policy. Always.

 Q:  Shane from Miami asks:
John, thanks for the chat. What have you heard about these reports that Alvarez already has tendonitis in both knees? A move to first seems imminent, no!?

John Perrotto: Haven't heard that one. If true, that would just add to a story that becomes more and more unsettling.

 Q:  Daniel from NYC asks:
How close was the mccutchen vs tabata for second on the list? It seems to me that Tabata could be the better hitter and is two years younger your thoughts?

John Perrotto: I did have to think that one over but in the end I just felt McCutchen, at this point, still projects as a little better player, though.

 Q:  Dave from Pittsburgh asks:
There has been a lot of talk about Pedro's conditioning lately. If he has to move to 1B, is he still the best bat in the 2008 draft- over Hosmer, Alonso & Smoak etc.?

John Perrotto: At this point, yes. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out, though.

 Q:  Mike from Manistee, MI asks:
Would Donnie Veal be rated in the top ten prospects if he wasn't a rule 5 pick? Also, do you see him cracking the starting pitching rotation this year?

John Perrotto: He is in the top 30 but not the top 10. He won't be in the rotation this year but as a hard-throwing lefty he was worth the draft pick.

 Q:  Dave from Pittsburgh asks:
I'm not sure I even want to know, but how far down the list did Moskos fall? I wonder if it's possible to avoid Orioles games for the next 15 years.

John Perrotto: Embrace Matt Wieters' rise to stardom because it will a living testament to Dave Littlefield being remembered as the worst GM in baseball history.

 Q:  Chris from Pittsburgh, Pa asks:
It was reported that Andrew McCutchen added 10 pounds of muscle in the recent mini-camp. Could he still hit his upside of 25 to 30 homers per year?

John Perrotto: He's a 15-HR guy max but he still has a lot to offer.

 Q:  Dan from Houston asks:
What are your thoughts on Brian Friday?

John Perrotto: I like him but back injuries always scare me and that caused him to miss a considerable amount of time at Lynchburg last year.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
John, I've seen analysts state that Brad Lincoln's ceiling is now #4 starter at best, whereas others still have hope that he can be at the top of a big league rotation. What do you expect from Lincoln in 2009?

John Perrotto: Everyone seems down on Lincoln now but I still think he's going to be an above-average major-league pitcher. We'll see who's right.

 Q:  Corey from Louisville asks:
Robbie Grossman was compared to Nate McLouth. Like McLouth do you anticipate that Grossman has 20/20 potential with an all-star season or two in him?

John Perrotto: McLouth is a good pop. The only time I saw Grossman was during his workout at PNC Park last summer before he signed. He popped a ball left-handed over the right-field bleachers. That was pretty impressive for a high school kid. His makeup is also off the charts and that never hurts.

 Q:  Jim from Pittsburgh asks:
Isn't it sad that so few of the Bucs top 10 had good statistical years last year, or were not even a professional. It is hard to be optimistic for this franchise.

John Perrotto: Yes, it is sad. The reason for optimism, though, is that there are a whole lot of new faces in the top 30 this year.

 Q:  Craig from Pittsburgh asks:
John, A big surprise was the emergence of Jeff Sues in 08. Was their mechanical changes or just better health?

John Perrotto: Health has made the biggest difference along with the confidence that comes from knowning you can throw a fastball and not have your arm fall off.

 Q:  Craig from Pittsburgh asks:
John, Do you see any options added for the 09 outfield? Seems like if Pearce goes to AAA only 3 mlb OFs on the 40 man.

John Perrotto: Well, Craig Monroe factors in as a non-roster player. They want a right-handed bat and the only other guy left is Emil Brown. Thus, I don't see a whole lot of change.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
The Pirates get pick #4 in June. Is it too early to ask if you've heard anything about who they may be going after at this point?

John Perrotto: Way too early.

 Q:  MM from Tampa asks:
We see a breakout pitcher or two every season in the minors. Last year, it was Derek Holland and Tommy Hanson. Chuck Lofgren did it a couple years ago. Juan Cruz once pulled it off. Is Brad Lincoln going to be that guy in 2009?

John Perrotto: I wouldn't be surprised. Everyone is off the Lincoln bandwagon seemingly, but I'm not.

 Q:  A. Owens from Altoona asks:
John I know you are high on Calvin Anderson, what do you project for him down the line and where does he start out this year?

John Perrotto: I think he is a very intriguing kid, a big guy with a great work ethic and lots of raw power. I think he'll go to West Virginia this year. I don't know how it's all going to turn out but he's going to be a fun guy to keep an eye on.

 Q:  Pete Birdwell from Whitworth U asks:
How can Cunningham be the starting Shortstop, the premier position, in 2012 and not make the top 10 prospects? Tell me he is number 11? How does he project? Please show the frozen tundra of spokane some love!!!THANK YOU

John Perrotto: He was real close to the top 10.

 Q:  Dennis from South Side asks:
How raw is the South African SS we signed? Obviously, he's in the GCL in 2009, but can you give us a little scouting report.

John Perrotto: He's as raw as raw can get as he has almost no experience. I'm looking forward to seeing him in spring training, though. It will be a fun story to follow.

 Q:  Bob Nutting from Altoona asks:
What about Justin Wilson and Anthony Watson what is the feeling on these two?

John Perrotto: I think both have a chance to make the majors. They don't have overwhelming stuff but know how to pitch.

 Q:  Vlad from Pittsburgh asks:
With Uviedo having three good pitches, could he cut it as a starter?

John Perrotto: Pirates see him as a reliever.

Moderator: Well, that will do it. Thanks so much for all the great questions. I've learned one thing, everyone is fired about Jarek Cunningham and that's a good thing. I was a little surprised there were no questions about the Indian pitchers, though. Maybe next year. See you under a palm tree soon.