Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects Chat With Aaron Fitt

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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, 2011.

Aaron Fitt: Hello everybody, welcome to another Rangers chat. There's a lot for Rangers fans to be excited about right now, and even after graduating so many talented young players to the majors, the farm system is a bright spot. Let's get to the chat!

    Andy (Lexington, KY): Did Robbie Ross just miss the top 10 due to the system depth or has is star diminished some?

Aaron Fitt: I'd say his stock has dropped a bit — not a ton, but a bit. The biggest thing is there is an increasing sense in the organization that his future is in the bullpen rather than a starting role, and that decreases his value some. He needs to tighten up his slider and improve his command, and he really needs to keep himself in shape. The Rangers will continue to develop him as a starter, and he does still have a chance to stick in that role, but his frame, delivery, repertoire and lack of fine command really suggest his future is in relief. His best asset, though, is his fastball life. It's probably the liveliest heater in the system, though it sits around 89-90. He can run it up to 93 at times, though.

    JAYPERS (IL): Did Barret Loux sign too late to be included, or is he not Top 10 material? What's the word on his health and mechanics?

Aaron Fitt: He's included, but he did not make the top 10 — in fact, he landed just a bit outside the top 20. Loux is a great competitor and has a pretty polished repertoire, but his health is a major question. Some doctors think he'll need elbow surgery next week, others think he'll need shoulder surgery next week, and Loux himself says he's never felt better. But he does not have the fastball velocity he once had, and he really projects best as a back-of-the-rotation innings eater. That's not a great ceiling for a guy with his medical question marks.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How far off the list was David Perez? What do scouts say about him?

Aaron Fitt: I was aggressive with Perez, running him up to No. 11. Sounds like he's going to be the next blue-chip Rangers pitching prospect. The reason I put him ahead of power-armed guys like Wilmer Font and Roman Mendez is he has better feel for a full three-pitch repertoire. This guy's a strike-thrower with a loose arm and a big, projectable frame, and he already can touch 95 in short stints. His curveball and changeup both look like they're going to be quality pitches for him. Font, on the other hand, is still trying to develop a reliable breaking ball (and he had Tommy John surgery).

    Roy (TX): Did Hoying and Grimm get any love for your list? What are your thoughts on both?

Aaron Fitt: Both players are safely inside the top 25. The Rangers are extremely high on Hoying, who has all kinds of raw power and athleticism, and really has a feel to hit. The organization had to dramatically overhaul his swing this summer, and he's taken to the adjustments, though he's still on the unorthodox side. Grimm turned a major corner after signing with the Rangers. He's always had big-time arm strength, but he tended to rush through his delivery in college, and he had some command issues. The Rangers worked with him to smooth out his delivery in pro ball, and he did a much better job repeating in instructional league. He's got the makings of two real plus pitches in his 90-95 heater and power curve around 82-83.

    Dale (Detroit): Do you see Chris McGuiness hitting for enough power to play 1B in the majors, or is he likely to be a bat off the bench?

Aaron Fitt: I see him as more of a reserve, but I do think he's got a chance to be more than that. He can really defend at first base, he's got a very nice swing, and though he's more of a line-drive guy, he could probably hit 15 or so homers in an everyday role. He's got excellent pitch recognition and discipline as well. Certainly a guy who could have some big league value.

    Mike (Louisville): 2010 draftee Christopher Hanna had a dominant debut. Will he be used as a starter next season? Is he much of a prospect and what is his ceiling?

Aaron Fitt: Hanna is everybody's favorite sleeper within the Texas organization. The Rangers see him as another Robbie Erlin type, an extremely competitive three-pitch lefty with advanced feel and command. He's 87-91 with a very good changeup, but he needs to improve his breaking ball to take the next step. He's certainly a prospect, and he will be a starter moving forward.

    Carl (Fresno, CA): What kind of ceiling does Cody Eppley have as a sidearmer? Do you think he could pitch in the late innings in the majors?

Aaron Fitt: I think he'll be a big leaguer, a middle relief type in the Darren O'Day mold. His velocity has actually gone up a bit since he dropped his arm slot, and he can run it up to 91-92 with excellent sink.

    Cal Lutheran (Moorpark, CA): Kasey Kiker had a rough 2010 regular season. It looks like he is pitching winter league ball? What are the Rangers plans with him and how far has he fallen off the radar?

Aaron Fitt: Kiker had some arm issues, then fell into a funk with his command and lost his confidence. He wasn't ever really completely healthy this year, so the club shut him down to give him a breather and let him regroup. He came back for instructional league, and the reports on him in the Puerto Rican winter league have been encouraging. Certainly his stock has dropped, and he'll need to prove himself again, but the Rangers aren't totally writing him off either.

    Tim (Glendale, AZ): In his 2nd go around in the AZL, Carlos Melo was much better in 2010. Does he end up in the pen down the road, or does he throw enough quality pitches to stick as a starter?

Aaron Fitt: I do think he'll wind up in the pen eventually. He's still very much a work in progress, but he made strides transforming himself from a thrower to a pitcher this year, though his velocity was down a bit (ranging from 88-93, and maybe occasionally touching better). He went from a hard curveball to more of a slider in the Dominican instructional league this fall, and the pitch has potential. His changeup really is still in its nascent stage.

    Nick (Cayman Islands): Wilmer Font, starter or reliever?

Aaron Fitt: The Rangers will tell you starter; maybe there's a chance, because he really does hold his premium velocity deep into games, but I don't know if he's going to have a good enough breaking ball or just enough feel for pitching to start. To be determined.

    Marty (Philly): What are your thoughts on Trevor Hurley? He has had a pretty consistent career and was unhittable at times this season. Trade chip?

Aaron Fitt: He's a ways down the depth chart, but he has introduced himself to a split-finger this year and he's taken to it. He'll battle for a Double-A job this year, but I'm not sure how much long-term value he's got.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, outstanding work and thank you for the chat. What are your thoughts on Kellin Deglan?

Aaron Fitt: Physical catcher who's got a chance to be pretty good. It's too early to know how much he's going to hit, but the Rangers certainly think he will, and he definitely has power potential. I think he's got a chance to be a strong defensive catcher, too. His work ethic and leadership skills really stand out.

    Zack (Southlake, TX): I know, I know, time to get over it, but where would Matt Purke rank in the system?

Aaron Fitt: You are a glutton for punishment! I would take Purke over Scheppers, at minimum, and there's a chance he would have been No. 1.

    Lloyd (Lakewood): Hi Aaron, What can you tell us about Joe Wieland?

Aaron Fitt: Three-pitch righty with good pithability and competitiveness. Not overpowering stuff, but most people in the system think he's a future big leaguer. He also has one of the best curveballs in the system, an above-average pitch when it's on. He's just an average fastball velocity guy, though, and some evaluators don't think he's got a lot of projectability.

    Bryce (Oxnard, California): What can you tell us about Cody Buckel? Is he a legit prospect?

Aaron Fitt: He is. He's an athletic, undersized righty with a little bit of Lincecum in his delivery, but it's not that kind of stuff. He has a pretty polished four-pitch mix, and the Rangers hope he can become a righthanded Robbie Erlin-type. He'll pitch at 88-92 and touch 93-94, but endurance is an issue for him at this point.

    Willy N. (Moorpark, CA): Which pitcher/position player in the top 10 do you project to have the best overall career in baseball?

Aaron Fitt: Martin Perez is No. 1 for a reason! But really, Profar is right there with him.

    Matt (Elmore): Is set up relief the highest projection for Fabio Castillo?

Aaron Fitt: I think his command and delivery issues will prevent him from being more than that, but he does have a premium fastball, so you could see him racking up some saves in the right situation.

    Clay (Vancouver): Not really a prospect question. You have Derek Holland in the 2014 rotation as the #5 starter. Last year you had him as the #3 and in 2009 as the #2 starter in the projected line-up. I know that the projected rotations are to be taken with a grain of salt, but is Holland dropping down the list because he is not projected to be as good as you previoulsy thought, or is it a credit to the talent being brought in?

Aaron Fitt: Grain of salt is key. The projected 2014 lineups are just supposed to be a snapshot of the depth in the system — you could put those pitchers in all kinds of orders. I do think Perez and Scheppers have front-of-the-rotation potential, whereas Holland might be more of a No. 3 type. But you could put him, Wilson and Erlin in any order.

    Ronnie (San Diego): Aaron, what number did MPerez's control score?

Aaron Fitt: Call it a 50 present, 60-65 future. He's still young, and with a couple mechanical tweaks, I think his control and command will be major assets.

    Isam (Jupitar): Mike Olt vs Matt Dominguez?

Aaron Fitt: Both standout defenders, but I think Olt will have more power, so I'll take him.

    Steve (Houston): Wilfredo Boscan done?

Aaron Fitt: He's not in the top 30, and I don't really see him as better than a spot starter in the big leagues, at that, but he's still just 21, so I wouldn't call him "done." He needs to command his fastball better, and the jump in velocity that was once predicted for him has yet to materialize...

    Richard (Ft. Lauderdale): Any thoughts on Jorge Alfaro?

Aaron Fitt: Very exciting, and I was pretty aggressive ranking him (around NO. 15) considering he has yet to play in the U.S. and he did not perform well in the DSL. But his tools are huge — it's big-time power potential and a cannon arm. He's very young, and will require some patience, but he's got a chance to be very special.

    Jon (Peoria): Do you think the Rangers will use Scheppers as a hard-throwing setup man for Feliz next year or are they committed to trying him as a starter in AAA?

Aaron Fitt: They are committed to developing him as a starter heading into next year.

    Allyson (Dallas): Thoughts on Chris McGuiness the 1B the Rangers got in the Salty trade from the Red Sox? Seems like he is in the same mold as Mitch Moreland?

Aaron Fitt: I'd say he's in that mold, yes.

    James (Saint Augustine, FL): Can you explain the meaning of a 1-7 curveball? I can understand the reference if it was from a RHP, but from a LHP would seem to defy logic as it would have to act like a screwball.

Aaron Fitt: It would be 1-to-7 if you're looking at the pitcher from the hitter's perspective...

    Steve (Chicago): What's the deal with Julio Borbon? Can he still become the next Johnny Damon, like previous year's scouting reports have hinted?

Aaron Fitt: That was always just a ceiling — there was never any guarantee he would reach his ceiling. My gut says he probably won't ever be that good of a player, but I do still think he can become a pretty solid regular. He's still just 24.

    Khanone (Seoul, South Korea): Who is your Neftali Feliz-like prospect, Wilmer Font or Roman Mendez?

Aaron Fitt: I suppose Mendez has a better chance to become a Feliz type because he's got better feel for his breaking ball.

    Greg (Fort Worth): Who does Jurickson Profar remind you of as a player?

Aaron Fitt: I only use comparisons when I've specifically heard it from a scout or another evaluator, and I haven't gotten one that really fits for Profar. But his makeup and instincts are very Elvis Andrus-like.

    Steve (Sarasota): Is Eric Hurley only a memory?

Aaron Fitt: Actually, he's put himself back on the map this fall. People who saw him in the Arizona Fall League say he was 90-94 with good angle, and mixing in a two-seamer to get more ground balls (he used to be more of a flyball guy), and even throwing a split now. His breaking ball is not where it used to be, however. If he can stay healthy (always a huge "if" with Hurley over the last few years), he could get a shot at a big league job finally in 2011.

    Walter (Plano, Texas): Do you forsee a time where Profar will move Elvis over to second base in their career?

Aaron Fitt: I do not. Profar has a chance to be an excellent shortstop, but I don't think he'll ever be quite at Andrus' level. Andrus has all of the instinctive things that make Profar so good, but he also has simply better raw defensive tools than Profar.

    Greg (New York): Hey Aaron,does Profar become an allstar one day or is that too much to ask,thanks.

Aaron Fitt: He does have All-Star potential. Going back to the Andrus-Profar discussion for a moment, I think Profar has more offensive upside than Andrus. And like Elvis, he's just a winning ballplayer who will do all the little things to help a team win. Don't underestimate that stuff, especially for a player who does have good tools like Profar does.

    Jim (Frisco, TX): With the lastest addition of Loux, would Grimm, Tepesch, and Loux all be in the top 30? and who will be the best in the long run?

Aaron Fitt: Addressed Loux and Grimm, but Tepesch did not make the Top 30. I saw Tepesch as a freshman, and he was electric out of the bullpen, with a fastball that reached the mid-90s and a dirty slider. But he was not that guy as a junior — he became more of an 88-92 guy with just OK secondary stuff. I want to see his stuff jump back up before ranking him as a Top 30 guy.

    JD (AZ): Danny Gutierrez - prospect or suspect?

Aaron Fitt: Suspect.

    Victor (San Diego): Aaron, great write-ups! When you talk about Profar having average power, is that for the position or in general terms? Average power, 15-20hrs, from a shortstop is well above average for the position isn't it and what kind of power/avg. combo do you see him fulfilling? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: Average power in general terms — so he's got 15-20 homer potential down the road, and yes, that's very good for a shortstop. I think you're looking at a future .280-.310 hitter with 15 homers and great defense and intangibles, and plenty of walks and doubles.

    AC (Atlanta): How far outside the top 10 did Leury Garcia fall; does he have the potential to break into the top 5 next year?

Aaron Fitt: He's still in the top 20. His raw tools are very loud — it's at least 70 speed and a 70 arm strength, so he could definitely jump up if he makes progress with the bat and becomes more consistent defensively.

    Joseph (Fort Worth, TX): What do you think of Miguel Velasquez? He was very exciting for the first half last year then fell off...thanks for the chat!

Aaron Fitt: He's got nice tools — it's a five-tool package, with the power as a potential standout tool, and the arm as a plus tool — but he must be more willing to make offensive adjustments. This coming year will be very big for him — he's got to make some mechanical changes, and so far he hasn't bought in.

    JAYPERS (IL): My consecutive chat streak is at 213. That has to be some sort of record.

Aaron Fitt: You are truly the Cal Ripken of BA chats.

    AC (Atlanta): Did Guillermo Moscoso make the top 30? Does he still have the potential to be a starter?

Aaron Fitt: He did not, and his stock has fallen. At this point, he doesn't look like more than an up-and-down middle reliever.

    Matt (Ada, OK): Where do you see Drew Robinson sticking defensively? How does his bat project?

Aaron Fitt: That's the million-dollar question. I've got him penciled in as a future second baseman right now, but he could also grow into third base or a corner outfield spot. He's got a very nice, smooth swing, and a lot of his future will depend on how much bigger he gets and how much power he develops.

    Norberto Paulino (Curacao): Whats the power and offensive projection of Profar? Is he a middle of the order hitter or more of 1-2 hitter?

Aaron Fitt: I see him as a perfect No. 2 hitter down the road.

    Ron (Wisc): Martin Perez has long been compared to Johan. Thats a pretty impressive comparison. Do you still feel thats accurate and why do they comtinually compare them...lefty/changeup?

Aaron Fitt: It's the frame, the delivery, and the stuff. Perez does flash an electric fastball and an exceptional changeup. It's not really fair to put a Santana comp on any young player because it creates unreasonable expectations; I'm not telling you Martin Perez WILL BE as good as Johan Santana... just that he MIGHT BE that kind of a pitcher, if he lives up to his considerable potential. Prospect projection is an inexact science...

    Dave (Dallas): Did Wilmer Font have TJ surgery? You put it in a parenthetical earlier, but I wasn't 100% sure that it was a done deal or just likely at this point.

Aaron Fitt: Yes, that's a done deal.

    JAYPERS (IL): Are you impressed with what you've heard about Roman Mendez, and is he going to be special?

Aaron Fitt: He's got a chance to be special, but it's one of those high-reward guys who is by no means a sure thing. He generated some buzz in instructs when he ran his heater up to 97-98, and he usually pitches in the mid-90s with life. He's got some mechanical things to work on and must refine his secondary stuff and his all-around command, but the upside is tantalizing.

Aaron Fitt: OK everybody, that's all I've got time for today. Thanks for another fine batch of Rangers questions!