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Baseball America Subscriber Chat (8/30/23)


J.J. Cooper hosted a subscriber chat at 2 p.m. ET. You can read the transcript below.

The Pirates have seen many prospects/players go on to thrive in other organizations – is anyone worried the Pirates don’t get the best out of Skenes?

I’m more worried about Skenes staying healthy than anything else, as he’s a pitcher. But I think he’s pretty much a what you see is what you get guy who should fly to the majors so quickly that he’ll largely be the same guy when he hits the majors as he was when he left LSU with a few minor tweaks.

Arjun Nimmala was my favorite HS prospect this draft. How are the early impressions since he signed?

Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to be chatting with BA subscribers. Thank you all for coming out. The early returns we’ve heard are very good. I know it’s a very small sample, but there’s bat speed, hitting ability, range and an arm at shortstop and room to grow. So far so good.

In your view, what are the top 5 MLB organizations for player development?

I think it’s the Dodgers at the top and a pretty clear gap to everyone else. There are other impressive orgs in development, but what the Dodgers do year in and year out is hard to top. They are incredibly impressive in what they do in pretty much every aspect of their operation. The value of getting and developing a Bobby Miller (2020, pick #29), Will Smith (#32), Walker Buehler (#24) at the back of the first round is absurd. There are teams picking top 10 year after year that can’t match that. The Rays are obviously impressive as well. The Orioles are cranking out a ton of players, but I put the Dodgers at the top.

How effective do you think Yamamoto will be in the MLB?

Very. Top-end Japanese pitchers generally make a very smooth transition to the majors, and Yamamoto has been exceptionally top-end in Japan. His career ERA is below 2.00. That’s hard for me to fathom. And the stuff is legit. Look at what Senga has done this year. Yamamoto is better than Senga IMO.

When are the stats returning to the BA website?

Soon. I wish I could say tomorrow, but I do know it will be soon. Our web dev team is getting close to having them ready to go. We’re really sorry it’s taking this long. It’s taking way longer than we had hoped.

Why does your newly designed website make great content harder rather than easier to find?

I’m sorry you’re finding that to be the case. Can I recommend bookmarking this page? This doesn’t show you every story as it posts, but it shows most of them. This a good page to see what you may have missed. We are working hard to keep making the new site better and better.

If Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitched 175 innings next year in the majors, what kind of stat line do you think he would put up?

I’d expect him to be among the top 20-25 starting pitchers in baseball.

Is Cole Ragans for real? Did the Royals actually do something right for once?

It’s hard to fake your way to a stretch of dominance like he’s just shown. And the stuff is clearly legit. Now, he’s not this good (no one is), but this does look like a guy that can be written into the 2024/2025 rotation in pen, not pencil. It’s an encouraging development for the Royals.

Jasson Dominquez has been super hot is he going to move up in the Top 100

He has had an outstanding August, and it’s very encouraging that he’s been so good right after a jump to Triple-A. That said, here are now some caveats to that. He’s got a .480 BABIP since he moved to Triple-A. If Ted Williams and Barry Bonds were fused into a super-hero, they wouldn’t post a .480 BABIP. I’ve written about Dominguez before here. I think this is still relatively accurate a year later. He’s a well-rounded player who should help a big league club in a multitude of ways. He can run, provide some defensive value. He takes good at-bats and I do think he can hit for a higher average than he’s shown this year. But he’s not most likely a well-rounded solid regular more than he’ll be a star. And I think there are a lot of expectations that he’ll be a star.

What is the reason Hunter Goodman gets no love when it comes to the rankings? Is it all defense or are there questions about his hitting vs. better pitching?

We talked about him on yesterday’s podcast if you want a more in-depth answer, but the questions really revolve around where he’s going to play. If he was a sure-fire catcher, he’d be ranked higher, but he’s not. If he was a sure-fire outfielder, that would allay concerns, but he’s not. He’s most likely a 1B/DH and the demands on the bat at that position are very high. There’s a path to him being a long-term regular for the Rockies, but it will involve him continuing to get better and better.

Overall opinion on FCL Yankees Top players. They really did well.

Our Josh Norris has just been finishing up a Top 20 Florida Complex League prospects list. I won’t spoilt the list, but you’ll be very happy if you’re a Yankees fan.

Also will the Summer of Ben Rice continue in the Fall League or do they go right into Spring Training instead.

I don’t have any inside info on it, but I can see the case for him going to the AFL. It’s not like he’s maxed out on games where he needs to be shut down. But there is also a horse-trading aspect of how AFL rosters are put together (you need guys at every position and you’re trying to balance the needs of multiple teams) that makes predicting it quite difficult.

Is Tom Saggese for real? And Drew Thorpe seems to be pitching like the best SP in the minors. How come I’ve only seen him on maybe 1 top 100 rankings?

We’ve been debating adding Thorpe to the 100 for a while and I wouldn’t be shocked if he climbs on as players’ graduate. Most of his success came in Class A, so it has been encouraging to see him handle the jump to High-A. With Saggese, he’s good. He can hit. He can probably play 2B. We talked about him on yesterday’s podcast as well. He’s a very likely big leaguer. The question is going to come down to whether he has enough power to be a long-term starter or a useful big leaguer with a briefer time as a regular.

Curtis Mead got a cup of coffee. How do you see his longer term role in Tampa working out?

I think this is a semi-lost year for Mead because of injuries. He’s still young. He can still really hit. The big question that’s tough to answer is where he fits positionally for the Rays. If he’s a 1B long-term, it’s going to be tough. If he can prove he can handle 2B or 3B (especially 2B) there is a clearer path. I think he’s one of several players (Jonathan Aranda is another) where the Rays will have to figure out this offseason or next year at the latest whether they are pieces of the Rays future or trade pieces to fill other needs.

I was looking through Dylan Lesko’s game log and it looks like there are some good and some bad. Strikeouts look good. How has his stuff looked, post TJ?

I watched some of his first start for Fort Wayne, so this isn’t based on a scout conversation but what I saw with my own eyes on He can still pull a string on his changeup, and he’s still throwing a big, breaking curve but one that he’s not always consistent with. I don’t think his fastball has the same hair to it yet that it had pre-injury, but that and feel for locating often takes a little while to get back post-TJ. Nothing so far seems concerning.

If you had to bet on it today, do you think Paul Skenes breaks camp in the rotation to begin 24?

No. But I’d bet he’s up before long…That’s my guess for now.

Do you think Chayce McDermott or Griff McGarry is more likely to remain a starter? Think either will be up in September?

I think McDermott more likely to be a starter. McGarry’s control troubles are worrisome. I don’t think either of them will be up next month, but I’d see as unlikely for McDermott and nearly impossible for McGarry. If you haven’t been following McGarry closely, he couldn’t throw a strike two outings ago and had to be lifted after walking six and hitting a seventh batter in a seven-batter outing. He was better in his more recent start, but he still had a stretch where he threw 11 consecutive balls. He just seems to lose his delivery at times where he can’t locate.



After a horrid start, has Emmanuel Rodriguez reinstated himself as a bonafide prospect with a legitimate chance of being a good CF with the Twins?

Yes. Still a bonafide prospect with a chance to be a regular in the OF. Not so sure he’ll be playing CF long-term, especially as the Twins seem to really value CF defense.

Answering funny questions in chats is something that writers have done to draw me to their content. It shows that like the rest of us, you like humor. Cheers!

I would describe my sense of humor as enjoying some bizarre Conan O’Brien 1:15 a.m. sketch where he’s on Satellite TV channels watching a channel called “Jar Barf.” Bizarre, unexpected humor is what I love.

Thanks for chatting with a bunch of baseball nerds! That is all.

If you have in any way followed my fascination with one-knee catching stances, the decline in error rates, the fact that when TV broadcasts switch from one view to another they back-up a few frames in time or many, many other aspects of my bizarre baseball fascinations, I can comfortably say I wear baseball nerd proudly myself as a badge of honor. And thank you all for subscribing. It’s why I get to have the best job I can imagine.

World Series prediction?

Braves-Mariners. Partly because I think that would be a very fun series.

If you had to pick one of Elijah Green or Miguel Bleis to boom and become a star, who would you go with, and why? Thank you kindly!

I have to go with Bleis. If everything clicks with Green, he’s a star. He has 8 raw power. He has speed. He could be a 35+ HR guy with defensive value in the outfield. But that said, it’s really hard to find any examples of players who go from a 40+% strikeout rate in the low minors to future big league stardom. Bleis doesn’t have that potentially fatal flaw to his game to worry about as much.

Do you anticipate any MiLB franchises moving or losing their affiliations due to issues with meeting MLB’s facility standards? 

There definitely will be teams moving. We’re seeing a good bit of work on that right now. For instance Down East is likely to move to Spartanburg, S.C. if the stadium proposal there gets built. And a suburb of Wilmington has made a run at getting Hickory (or Down East) to move there. But to your bigger question, I’m fascinated to see what happens out West. I have yet to talk to anyone who expects all or most of the California League to meet the new facility standards. If that happens, we don’t know yet what happens. There are no logical options to step in and replace the non-compliant stadiums/cities. That’s worth paying attention to over the next two years.

Which of these AAA/recent MLB promotion guys will have the most offensive WAR over the next 3 yrs? JoeyOrtiz, VGrissom, JAranda, JHMalloy, DSchneider, ACanario

I’d have to go Aranda is you are talking purely about offense here, although I could see Canario maybe blossoming as well (just higher risk and more likelihood it doesn’t click). I think Ortiz is the best all-around player you listed, but a lot of his value is based on his glove.

How do we get MiLB to choose a non-Monday off day? I get the business side of why teams prefer it but I don’t think they are weighting my specific needs enough

I think that’s going to be tough for a number of reasons. For one, Monday is a brutal day for attendance, so it fits as an off day from that standpoint. For another, Sunday day games are way better than mid-week day games from a scheduling perspective. And Sunday day game into travel + off day is perfect for both team employees and players/staff.

I am still unable to view the statistics of any player. Am I doing something wrong or are we not able to view them?

You are not doing anything wrong. We’re working as hard as we can to have them back quickly. But they aren’t on those pages yet.

The Dodgers’ two DSL teams were dominant this year. To what extent should that be attributed to superior scouting vs. player development vs. dumb luck?

I don’t think you luck your way to the best record in a league with the best run differential while having another team that has one of the top four records/differentials in the league. From this past spring, Josh Norris for us was hearing about how loaded the Dodgers’ youngest teams were.

What are the chances for Bryce Eldridge to end up as a true two way player?

I think it’s unlikely. I’d love to be wrong on this, but we haven’t seen any US team figure out how to carry through on the initial desire to have a two-way player. Masyn Winn did it briefly, then focused on SS. Bubba Chandler’s two-way status was a brief, brief blip. I do think the struggles of Brendan McKay to stay healthy didn’t help the case for others, even if that was unrelated to playing both ways.

What are the chances we see another 30 minor league teams cut in the next few years? Teams would be content with just 3 full season affiliates?

The current PDL agreement between MLB and MiLB team owners is a 10-year agreement that runs through 2030. It guarantees that such a reduction cannot happen during the life of that agreement and that each MiLB PDL owner is assured a team as long as they remaining through that time as far as meeting their responsibilities as a PDL holder (facility standards, travel, stadium upkeep, etc.) On top of that, there’s now a collective bargaining agreement between MLB and MiLB players, which means player numbers cannot be cut by MLB unilaterally, it would have to be bargained with the players. As far as would teams be content? Some would. More would not. But I would say many MLB front offices wanted more than the current team/roster limits that went through. They and their MLB team owners may not always agree on that.

Thoughts on Kerry Carpenter’s realistic ceiling for 2024 if he can play a full season healthy?

I would say something like what he’s done this year with better counting stats because of more games. The key thing to watch is if Carpenter can put together better PAs against lefties. He didn’t struggle as much against them in the minors as he has in the majors, so that’s something I’ll be watching.

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