Image credit: Alec Bohm (Photo by Tom DiPace)
Josh Norris: Chatter Up.
Blue (Ann Arbor):
- Thanks again for doing these chats, Josh. Skubal obviously broke out in a huge way, but, to me, he even seems undervalued at #77 in the top 100. Having watched many of his starts his stuff is legit elite, granted his secondary stuff still needs to be more consistent. The numbers back up his stuff, 17.4 K/9 in over 40 IP in AA beyond ridiculous. Take away the names attached to the scouting reports and numbers and I can’t see why he would be ranked lower than guys like Keller, Wright, Howard, Honeywell, Lynch, Sheffield, and Kowar. Could you explain the thinking behind his ranking? Lack of track record? The fact that he’s had TJ already? It’s ok to tell me that I’m a biased, grasping for anything positive Tigers fan.
Josh Norris: Part of that is poll mechanics. Skubal was obviously unranked entering the season, and was pretty good, numbers-wise, when he departed the FSL. So he went from unranked to very interesting in that time. There were discussions at that time about moving him onto the T100 but we didn’t pull the trigger. Then he went Rambo on the Eastern League and forced our hands in a big way. I would like him over some of those arms you mentioned, but it’s hard to move a guy (outside of draft guys like Adley Rutschman and Andrew Vaughn) way up the list so quickly. Personally, I’d have him somewhere in the Top 50 if the list were my thoughts alone. TL;DR — He good.
Oneil Cruz (Trernding Up?):
- Thanks for chatting with us today! I continued to cut down on my swing and miss and I cut my K% to 25% as I split my time between HiA/AA in 2019. I also continued to show improvement with my hit tool. Do scouts now think I can potentially be a 55 hit / 65 power guy at maturity all while staying at SS? If so, aren’t those the ingredients for me to potentially really break out in 2020 as a top 20 prospect in baseball?
Josh Norris: You might be selling him short on the power. Dude has juice for days. I thought he would be a big breakout guy this year, honestly, but obviously the injuries got in the way of all that. The most amazing part of doing the background for Cruz was that I didn’t find a single evaluator who definitively moved him off of shortstop. He’s a unicorn who could hit the sport with the force of a Sharknado.
- Which of Bleday or Larnach will be a better major leaguer? They both look like power hitting corner OFs but I feel like I’ve read more positive reports on Bleday’s hit tool.
Josh Norris: I’ll take the safe route and kind of pass on this question because I don’t think pro scouts and evaluators have had a chance to see the real Bleday just yet. After a long college season he moved directly to the FSL (in the dead of summer), which is as tough an assignment as can get for a player just getting his feet wet in the minor leagues. As for Larnach, he was the first player managers mentioned after Wander Franco as the most impressive guy they saw in the league. He also won Best Batting Prospect in the annual Best Tools survey by a near unanimous vote.
- How tall is Oneil Cruz? He’s listed at 6’6 here but i’ve seen him listed as big as 6’8 on other sites.
Josh Norris: As far as I know, he’s 6-foot-6
Alejandro ((Not in top 20)):
- Josh… Why am I not in the top 20? Were you scared off by my wholesome physique? I can really hit the cover off of the ball, so please tell me why?
Josh Norris: I am probably the high guy on Mr. Kirk. In other years, he might have made this list but the league had something like 15 Top 100 prospects in it, so making the list was a very tough sell. He’s got a great approach, makes a ton of contact, pitchers love throwing to him and he has done a nice job controlling the running game. Probably want to see a little more power out of him and, yes, he is going to get some scrutiny because of his body.
- Did Simon Muzziotti get close to making the list? His defense looks very good and his hitting, while a work in progress, is improving.
Josh Norris: Muzziotti didn’t really come close to making this list, but he’s intriguing nonetheless. There’s a bit of hittability in there and he has a chance to stick in center field, which he’ll likely have to do to profile without an uptick in power.
Eddie (Wilmington OH):
- Hi, I think there was something wrong with my computer when I looked at this list because Tyler Stephenson wasn’t on it. Any reason why?
Josh Norris: There is a rather large reason why Stephenson did not make the *Florida State League* Top 20 prospects list. Specifically, he did not play a single game in the *Florida State League* and thus did not qualify for the *Florida State League* Top 20.
Josh Norris: BRB, Chatters
Josh Norris: All right. We back.
- Cody Bolton of Bradenton was awfully dominant, albeit over fairly few innings (61.2). Did he get any mention from scouts, and/or was he close to the top 20?
Josh Norris: He did get some mention, but not quite enough to make the list. The consensus was that he has a rotation ceiling but needs to do some work—adding a little finesse to his repertoire, working to add something to change hitters’ eye levels—if he is to achieve that ceiling instead of moving to the bullpen.
Joe H (Syracuse NY):
- Who were the Braves top players for their FSL team? Thanks
Josh Norris: William Contreras comes to mind. Evaluators saw quality at-bats and a decent approach with two strikes. He also became more consistent with his batting stances and stances behind the plate as well. He projects to hit for a decent average with some doubles and has the athleticism to stay behind the plate.
- Josh – Wow! What a formidable list, you must’ve enjoyed the FSL talk with scouts/managers. On Skubal, he looks like he took a big step forward, especially after being called up to Double A. The write-up speaks to three average to plus pitches, are we talking about a potential good #2 with a lot of Ks if all breaks right? Did he pass Manning for some?
Josh Norris: I never asked that question directly, but he certainly fits in the Mize, Manning, Faedo group. I cannot stress enough how impressed I am with the numbers he put up at Erie. Domination isn’t strong enough.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- Joe Ryan has gotten some nice write ups this season. What is his ceiling? If teams knew he’d put up these numbers where would he have been drafted?
Josh Norris: Ryan’s ceiling is in the middle of the rotation. I am clearly the high man on him in this office, considering one of my editors told me he was surprised I didn’t rank him higher “considering how much I talk about him.” I got to see him twice this year and what struck me the most was his ability to learn and adapt. Case in point, the first start I saw he was throwing a true cutter that he was working on turning into a slider. Five days later, the pitch was a true slider with depth and three-quarter break. Very impressive.
Roscoe (Rockland County):
- What is Miguel Yajure projection and close was he to making the top 20? thanks
Josh Norris: Goodness, he’s a tough one. Something clearly changed from the beginning of the season until the end. The scouts who saw him early were not particularly impressed, but he gained quite a bit of velocity as the year went on (T97, from what I hear) and got a crisper curveball thanks to a change in finger positioning. As for his ceiling, it’s obviously improved and he’s going to be someone I really bear down on when it comes time to put together my NYY T30.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- So which of the following batters was the closest to making the top 20 list: Simon Muzziotti, Jhailin Ortiz, of Calvin Mitchell?
Josh Norris: Probably go Mitchell, Muzziotti, Ortiz
Josh Norris: That’s all for now. I’ll be back Friday for the Northwest League chat.