2017 California League Top 20 Prospects Chat
Kyle Glaser: Hey everybody, thanks for chatting. This was an incredibly deep league this year, a lot of worthy prospects and guys with legitimate big league futures were left off just because we could only go 20 deep. Was a fun list to put together, let's get started
Alex (Lala Land): Is Jahmai Jones one of the best kept secrets in prospect land? Although different players, it feels like he and Taylor Trammell should be regarded as the same level prospect. Are both top 50-75 prospects come February? Jones seems to be tapping into his underrated power. Do you see him as a potential 20/20 guy in his prime?
Kyle Glaser: There are about eight Jahmai Jones questions in here, so I'll try and use this one to answer all of them. Jones wasn't really a secret, we did have him as the Angels No. 1 prospect entering the year (and their No. 2 prospect going into last year.) He's a really, really incredible athlete who made big strides as a hitter this year. He was already a guy on the verge of breaking into the Top 100, and will crack it next spring I'm sure. As far as his power, it's actually long been considered above-average potential, which these days is 22-25 home runs, so I wouldn't call it underrated. He definitely has a chance at some 20-20 seasons, although most think you'll see more 30 doubles, 15 homers, 25 steals. Either way, that's a heck of a player and one Angels fans should look forward to seeing in Anaheim for years to come.
M.D. Pepper (Pine Rose Cabins): Offensive friendly league, but with the offensive success of Brennon Lund and Jordan Zimmerman, was there opportunity for them to prove they're "guys" whilst in the Cal League?
Kyle Glaser: Lund opened a lot, and I mean a lot, of eyes this year and got a lot of love as a legitimate big leaguer in the future. It’s mostly as an extra outfielder, but a legitimate big leaguer would be a heck of an outcome for an 11th round pick. Make consistent line drive contact, plus runner, can play all three outfield spots, solid-average arm. Lot to like with Lund. Zimmerman showed some ability to get the barrel to the ball and make hard contact, which is always a good sign, but evaluators weren’t thrilled with his athleticism or defense. Most see him as an upper-level org player.
Carson Smith's Biggest Fan (The City Of Unlimited Possibilities): Do they finally have working windows and a consistent internet connection in High Desert? Also, ceiling on Wooly Bully?
Kyle Glaser: Considering what I know about the city of Adelanto and the Pecos League, I’d say doubtful on the windows and internet. And Wooly Bully is a 45 grade mascot. Not bad, can do some good things for you, but doesn’t have quite the versatility or creativity of some of the first-division big league regulars.
John (Columbus): Was Caleb ferguson of RC close to making the list??
Kyle Glaser: Ferguson did some really nice things for the Quakes this year. He wasn't close, but that's more a product of how deep the league was. The top 19 guys on this list all have realistic upsides as everyday regulars, and 20 through about 25-26 (Jacob Nix, Braden Bishop, Eric Lauer, Matt Thaiss, Ryan Howard) all have everyday or rotation upside too. Ferguson's poor control and limited secondaries really limit him to a lefty reliever future. His fastball can will raise your eyebrows with velo up to 94, and when he gets on top of his curveball it's pretty nasty with 12-6 hard downer action. Problem is he doesn't stay on top of his curveball often, his control isn't very good (4.0 BB/9) and his changeup doesn't really do anything for evaluators. Most actually see him as a AAA guy, but lefties have a longer shelf life than others and he'll get his shot
J (Chicago): How close was Braden Bishop to making the list? Granted, light-hitter and a little bit older, but he seemed to remake himself in Modesto this year and he still plays defense like there are no other outfielders on the field.
Kyle Glaser: Braden Bishop was No. 21. He was on the list until Kyle Lewis got enough ABs to qualify in the final week. Bishop is older, but he's a an exceptional defender in center field-one of the best in the minors-is extremely fast and shows great baseball instincts. The work he put in to remake his swing this year now makes him a complete, all-around prospect with a big league future ahead. Kevin Pillar is the upside, but Peter Bourjos and Chris Denorfia- two guys who started in their primes and settled into long careers as oft-used fourth outfielders-are two more likely outcomes in evaluators eyes.
Matt (Jahmai Jones Fan): Thanks for chatting with us today. After the year Jahmai Jones had, what reports have you been hearing? As you guys like to say...is he a DUDE? What's a good comp for him? Jackie Bradley?
Kyle Glaser: To follow up on the earlier question...the reports on Jones are excellent. Defense, run, makeup, all elite, with a solid-average arm and a great ability to make adjustments. We should note, first, that JBJ bats lefty, which makes it a different dynamic. But, over the last three seasons, JBJ is .257/.339/.460 while averaging 22 doubles, 18 homers and 20 steals. Those are numbers evaluators believe Jones can get to, although it may end up being a tad lighter in the .250/.330/.440 range.
Drew (Maryland): What is your opinions on Max Schrock and Sheldon Neuse? Two former Nats prospects who can hit. What do you see as their value and who grades out higher?
Kyle Glaser: I don't want to say Sheldon Neuse looks like a steal because Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson have been money for the Nats, but he's earned absolute raves. He would've been top 10 on this list had he qualified. He's an above-average everyday third baseman with a big arm, legit power, great hands, can hit for average. He's way above Schrock, who is a solid player who makes consistent contact, but his tools are more limited and a guy most evaluators see as a second-division second baseman type.
John (San Diego): Make a prediction or two about some names we will see on this list in 2018
Kyle Glaser: Michel Baez if he sticks around long enough. Marcus Wilson, Dustin May, Jeren Kendall, Hudson Potts, Adrian Morejon, Riley Pint, Jorge Ona...those are some of the guys that come to mind off the top of my head
Jared (LA): How close did Dennis Santana come to making the Top 20?
Kyle Glaser: Dennis Santana is really, really good. He's also 100 percent pure reliever. It's two pitches, the way his arm and body work, it's pure relief. In a league list this deep, where everyone in the 20 has a chance to start (including Alvarez, even though he probably does end up in relief) Santana got squeezed out. He'll do some really good things in a Dodgers uniform though, and probably next year. That sinker/slider combo he's got is nasty
Jaylen (Iowa): Did the staffers at BA "take a knee" while putting together this list?
Kyle Glaser: No. I was mostly sitting in my chair at my desk though when putting together
hal jordan (hawaii): Thanks for the chat. What kind of career do you foresee for Brian Reynolds?
Kyle Glaser: Reynolds was a little tricky. Generally, you see a solid everyday outfield career from Reynolds. Not an all-star or franchise cornerstone, but a good everyday outfielder...which frankly, is a heck of a lot better than the mishmash the Giants have put out there this year in left. In that sense, Giants fans can reasonably expect Reynolds to be a significant upgrade over Gorkys Hernandez/Jarrett Parker/Mac Williamson
Johnny (Seattle): Was Luis Liberato mentioned much? Any other Nuts in the convo?
Kyle Glaser: Liberato wasn't really, no. He can play you some good defense in center, but he just doesn't hit. Guys who never hit above .260 at any level of the lower minors generally do not turn into big leaguers.
Roger Dodger (Elysian Park): Glutton of Dodgers prospects came through Rancho. Keibert Ruiz seemed to garner a lot of hype at the trade deadline. Was he the supreme prospect not named Walker Buehler to hit RC and is he a top 50 prospect?
Kyle Glaser: Ruiz has absolutely shot up the Dodgers system and is likely to settle into the No. 3 spot on their prospect list behind Buehler and Verdugo. In the words of one future scout "He's going to be a star". As for Top 50, I would expect him to be in there, yes
Henrique (Brazil): Good afternoon what about Dennis Santana?
Kyle Glaser: Again, Santana is really, really good. His pitch mix and delivery are just pure reliever though, which makes it tough to crack in a year where there was so much rotation and everyday lineup talent. If this was last year's list, he might've been top 10, definitely top 15. This was just a very deep year.
Jahmai Jones (Under the radar): Why haven't I gotten much love even after my huge breakout year? I managed to improve in every offensive category while moving up from LoA to HiA this year. Should I be a prospect to watch in 2018 to possibly make a huge leap up the prospect radar?
Kyle Glaser: Alright, one last question on Jones since the final 4 are all about him. Ranking No. 9 in a really, really deep league behind a bunch of future All-Stars is a lot a love. I think Angels fans are playing up this underrated thing a bit much. Jones was their No. 1 prospect coming into the year, performed like a top prospect, and has made every adjustment expected of him. He was already on prospect radars, and made his case even louder this year.
Johnny (Seattle): Got a guess to how many of these guys will find their way into the BA top 100?
Kyle Glaser: You can reasonably expect the top 9 guys to all be in the next BA Top 100. Don't be surprised if 10-15 get there at some point next year either. There was a lot of talent in the Cal League this year, and it will be reflected in the top 100 rankings
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Kyle Glaser: All right everyone, that looks like all the questions. Thanks for chatting with me.