Josh Norris: It’s Monday, so let’s chat about some Carolina League prospects, eh?
John (Acworth, GA): Did League MVP Ademar Rifaela receive much consideration for the list?
Josh Norris: He did. He obviously has some power potential, but he did get a little bit of a boost from Frederick’s cozy confines too. He was probably in the next five or so in the league and could up his stock next year with a strong year in Bowie.
John (Acworth, GA): Did Jomar Reyes receive and consideration for the list?
Josh Norris: He was eligible, obviously, and is a player I like personally, but it’s hard to believe the real Reyes was on display this year after missing so much time with injury. There are questions as to whether he’ll stick at third base, but the power is legit.
Jon (Philadelphia): Good afternoon, Josh. How close was Troy Stokes to making the list? Had a heck of a year at just 21 years old before earning a promotion to Biloxi. Combined 20 HR/30 SB season.
Josh Norris: Very close. Probably was No. 21 on the list. He definitely has his believers, but there were others who saw a little too much swing and miss for their liking. Definitely excited to see what 2018 holds for him.
MikeR (Lockport NY): What happened to Hector Perez ? He could not throw strikes as the year went on; what did scouts think of Perez ?
Josh Norris: Pretty much just that. He has a really big arm and a promising slider but his inability to throw strikes was a turn off. He was in consideration for the list as well.
frank (erie pa.): hello! with an infield of Urshela/diaz, Lindor, Ramirez, and Santana/Bradley ( our best defensive and offensive infield), where do you see Castro playing? and where does Mckenzie slot? no.2 between Kluber and Carrasco? any other prospects we should be excited about?
Josh Norris: If he stays with Cleveland, his best spot will be at either second or shortstop. You’re correct in your belief that the Indians’ middle infield spots are locked up for the foreseeable future, but it’s always good to have more talented guys in that area in the pipeline. As for McKenzie, he could be a No. 2 type starter in the long-term, especially if he adds weight to his frame.
nb (Philly): Josh - Thanks for the chat. So what happened in Carolina this year? Clark, Diaz, Erceg all with down years. I'm not sure I've seen 3 top prospects struggle so much on the same team. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
Josh Norris: They were all pretty young, too. Clark showed you the tools at times (and he was just two walks away from a 100-hit, 100-walk season with 30-plus stolen bases) but there were just way too many strikeouts and not enough converting tools to skills. Diaz definitely had believers too. It was also revealed late in the season that he had a broken hamate bone that may have been affecting him for a while. There were also questions of effort with him, especially when it came to running out grounders. That will get under evaluators’ skin really fast. I wouldn’t qualify Erceg as a down year. He started slowly and his final numbers didn’t jump off the page, but he was much better in the second half and played tremendous defense at third base all year long.
Matt (Va): Is Juan Soto the top Carolina Lg prospect a year from now? And also who are a couple others in the conversation ?
Josh Norris: Soto could be for sure. Leody Taveras might get there with Down East. Maybe Blake Rutherford with Winston-Salem, too.
Mr Isotope (Albuquerque, NM): What happened to the Southern League? Did I miss something? Also, what's wrong with Corey Ray? Has he gone Oddibe McDowell on us? What is his future in an organization so stocked with OF talent?
Josh Norris: Southern League will be coming soon. We had some scheduling conflicts so we had to flip a few things. Ray had a rough year, for sure, but the tools are still there. Monte Harrison has almost certainly jumped him on the CF depth chart, but Ray (like Harrison) will get more at-bats and instruction this year in the AFL. Some managers saw a player who was too passive at times, and it looked early in the year that he didn’t really know what to do with anything on the outer half of the plate.
Elliot (You): Not impressed with either Shane Biever or Aaron Civale? I assume it's all about the velocity. Is either's stuff good enough [both certainly are able to repeat it consistently] to be a middle or back of rotation starter? How do you differentiate them?
Josh Norris: Both those guys were in the next tier. Problem with both was that evaluators didn’t really see a plus pitch from either of them, which is why they didn’t make the final cut.
Andrew (Huntsville): Did any of Hector Perez, Alex Winkleman, or Brett Adcock get some consideration?
Josh Norris: Hector Perez was really the only one of these three guys whose name came up with scouts. Winkelman didn’t have enough innings to qualify anyway.
Dave Molen (Kentucky): Do you see Alec Hansen getting a September call up next year for the Sox if he keeps progressing and refining his control?
Josh Norris: I don’t see that happening. He’ll start the year back at Double-A most likely and could progress to Triple-A with a good look there. The White Sox probably won’t be in the playoff hunt (famous last words) so there’s no reason to rush him.
Sean (Cleveland): Was it a close call between the top pitchers in the league (Perez vs. McKenzie?)
Josh Norris: Not particularly. Franklin Perez was a darling of scouts and managers all season long. The stuff and command was exception for his age. Managers loved both pitchers, but when I asked about Perez or McKenzie they’d pick Perez. They’re both most like high-end rotation pieces if everything goes well, however.
Rob (Alaska): Was Daniel Johnson's season a case of an older guy beating up on younger competition or do you consider his age league appropriate? Is the breakout legit?
Josh Norris: Johnson turned 22 on July 11, so he was actually slightly younger than the Carolina League average of 22.6 years old. He’s got legit power that he generates from quick wrists and strong hands, and he could play center field with continued improvement. I think it’s real.
Bob (Missouri): How close was Richard Lovelady making the top 20 or Nicky Lopez, both of these guys were outstanding, then they were promoted to AA, which they both did not make the top 20 with the texas league.
Josh Norris: Neither were particularly close. Our JJ Cooper loves Richard Lovelady, but it’s really hard to put a guy on the list who projects only as a reliever. Lopez was praised for his defense but nobody was really a fan of his bat. He’ll have to continue proving it as he goes up the ladder.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Sorry that Sicnarf Loopstock's name plus all-star hitting aren't enough for him to qualify. At least we get to see Loopy in Akron next summer.
Josh Norris: Look, we all love Sicnarf Loopstok’s name. It’s probably the best in the minor leagues. It would lead a Key and Peele sketch, but he’s also 24 years old in high Class A.
Alex (MA): Can you take out your crystal ball and predict the future 3b situation with Shaw and Ercig?
Josh Norris: If Shaw—one of the best acquisitions of the winter—can repeat his breakout in future years, it will pretty hard to move him off third base in Milwaukee.
Richard (St. Charles, IL): Was Dane Dunning close to making the Top 20?
Josh Norris: He was ranked No. 10.
Josh Norris: That’s all for this chat. Happy Monday, everyone.