Josh Norris: We’ve flipped the Eastern League with the California League to accommodate my travel schedule, so let’s talk Eastern League prospects before I head out to Arizona for the AFL and some instructs.
J.P. (Springfield, IL): How far off this list was Rhys Hoskins? Is he trade bait while Ryan Howard remains a physical entity in Philly?
Josh Norris: He was a split case. The guys who liked him really liked him, and the guys who didn’t like him hated him. The positives are obvious: He can hit the ball and hit it for power. The questions, too, are obvious: Is the power amplified by Reading’s park (of course it is). His numbers away from the park are respectable, but not the eye-popping stuff you want to see from a player who projects as first-base only. He’s also average to a little worse at first base, which doesn’t help his case. Also, as you can see from this list, there were a *TON* of excellent prospects in this league this year.
Roger (Washington DC): How close was Christian Arroyo to making the list? And what do you think his ultimate ceiling is? Does he profile at 3b?
Josh Norris: Arroyo was very close to making this list, and was in fact in an early iteration. Managers were uniform in Arroyo’s need to move off of shortstop, with third base being a likely destination. They saw him as a little bit of everything type of player. He can defend at third base but move to second and shortstop in a pinch, puts together solid at-bats and has enough average and power to eventually find a home in the big leagues. Plus, the Giants always find ways to turn out solid regulars. He could be a solid but not spectacular everyday player if he hits his ceiling.
Brian (Denver): Is German Marquez a part of the Rockies rotation next year? What sort of ceiling does he have? Thanks,
Josh Norris: I would bet that, yes, he’s a part of their rotation next season. Managers raved about him, and I personally loved him when I saw him in the Florida State League in 2015. His arm is electric and he proved it this year with Hartford, Albuquerque and then the majors. He’s got the ceiling of a No. 2-3 starter.
James Arnott (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada): Regarding Bradley Zimmer: When can we expect him in Cleveland? What would an average MLB season be for a player with his profile? Keep up the great work !!!
Josh Norris: Zimmer has tools galore, but he has holes to close in his swing and he worked hard to do so this year. Namely, he tried to make himself less vulnerable to the inside pitch and in turn cut down on his strikeouts. He’ll need to continue to do that in 2017 before he’s ready for Cleveland. Plus, Michael Brantley looms large if he’s healthy next year.
James Arnott (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada): Gut feeling on Reynaldo Lopez please. Does he continue as a starter or is he a closer candidate? What's his ceiling as a starter? Thanks
Josh Norris: They’re going to keep him a starter until he proves he can’t. If his command and control become more consistent he can be a No. 2-type of starter. If not, he has closer potential.
Dan (Baltimore): Is Rafael Bautista's speed a big league tool? Will he hit enough to get there?
Josh Norris: Bautista’s speed is an 80-grade tool, so yes: It is a big league tool. He probably will not hit enough to get there, however. Managers saw a guy who overswings and tries to hit for power when he’s more suited for a slash-and-burn type of role.
Roger (Washington DC): What's Beede's ETA to contribute? Giants likely have a big open #5 spot in the rotation next year.
Josh Norris: Beede could be in the mix for a spot in the rotation next year, but probably not out of spring training simply because he’s not spent a day in Triple-A. His slider and changeup got much better as the season went on. Once he learned how to throw them for strikes, his future became brighter.
Clint (BC, Canada): Tell me Rowdy Tellez was close at least?
Josh Norris: He was close, but was removed at the end. Some evaluators noted he doesn’t have the bat speed to portend the big power necessary to profile as a major league first baseman. Almost all of his power, too, is to the pull-side. He’s not a particularly deft defender, and was aided by New Hampshire’s short porch in right field.
Mike R (Lockport, NY): What was the consensus on Miguel Andjuar ? Chance to be a regular at 3B ? Questions about his hitting ability ?
Josh Norris: Miguel Andujar is still a toolsy player who, like many of the prospects on this list, was young for the level. He’s got the marks of a player who can stick at third base, including a big-time arm, but still needs refinement all-around defensively. He needs to control the strike zone better at the plate, but there is well above-average power. Intriguing tools, but a ways to go.
Dan (MD): Did Dubon not qualify? He seems to have really hit his stride in AA. What's holding him back? Looks like a solid glove 310/375/410 guy.
Josh Norris: Dubon qualified indeed, and was probably in the next five for the list. He’s a sneaky good ballplayer who’s made strides and matured over the past year. If he’s going to reach his ceiling, it’s most certainly not going be in a Boston uniform. Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Yoan Moncada and Travis Shaw don’t leave a lot of room at the inn. He’s versatile enough to play second base and third base too, and can spray the ball around the diamond with a little bit of pop to go with it. Could be a utility guy or a starter on a second-division club.
Mick (Chicago): With all the SS options the Yankees have, can Tyler Wade be an option there or is he destined to be a jack of all trades utility player at best?
Josh Norris: Tyler Wade gets virtually the same report from every evaluator: He’s a player who does a little bit of everything but not a lot of any one tool. It’s a utility profile, and he’s slated to play the outfield in the Arizona Fall League this year. He’s also got Didi Gregorius in the major leagues and Gleyber Torres leading the way on the internal depth chart, so it’s hard to see him as shortstop in pinstripes.
Cy Old (Cooperstown): Rafael Devers! Michael Kopech! The hits just keep on coming, Portland.
Josh Norris: Yes, the future does look bright in Portland and at Hadlock Field (one of two Eastern League ballparks I’ve never been into in person). Kopech is very high on my must-see list in the fall league starting tomorrow.
Scott (Philadelphia): This isn't strictly an Eastern League question, but now that they've been in the same organization for a year now, how do Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp stack up against each other?
Josh Norris: I think Alfaro has clearly pushed himself past Knapp, and was rewarded with his first major league callup this year.
Jimmy (Chicago): Were there any other Yankees Prospect close to making the list
Josh Norris: Tyler Wade and Jordan Montgomery were both in consideration, but the league’s extreme depth didn’t hurt their cases.
Mike (White Plains): How is Dominic Smith rank higher than Dustin Fowler The power number are the same Fowler has more stolen bases and he plays golden glove defense
Josh Norris: This is a weird comparison. Dom Smith is a big-bodied first baseman, so of course he’s not going to match Fowler’s steals. Smith, too, plays stellar defense at his position, and got on base at a much higher clip. There also was concern about Fowler’s ability to handle pitches on the inside part of the plate. That will be especially tested in Triple-A next season.
Joe (Portland): What are your thoughts on Aneury Tavarez? Is he a prospect? He had a great year for AA Portland.
Josh Norris: Aneury Tavarez did put together an excellent year, but the evaluations still suggested something along the lines of a fourth outfielder or emergency type of player in the big leagues. He’s still a bit of a free-swinger and still needs defensive refinement with the glove.
Mike (NY): What is the offense ceilings for Rosario and Crawford can both be all star SS's?
Josh Norris: They both project as shortstops who can hit for average and power and, yes, look like potential all-star players.
Josh Norris: Okay, chatters, that’s all for today. Thanks for the questions.