Hot Sheet Chat (5/10/22)

Image credit: JJ Bleday (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Geoff Pontes answered questions regarding the latest Hot Sheet from 1-2 p.m. ET.

Joe (CT):

     Thank Geoff for what you do! Robert Hassell or Zac Veen, and why?

Geoff Pontes: I would take Hassell if only because I think the overall hit tool is there and the power will come. It’s close, as Even has the juice that Hassell doesn’t have at present.

Sam (Bridgeport, CT):

     Not hearing a lot about Cristian Hernandez of the Cubs. Any updates on how he is progressing?

Geoff Pontes: Not until we have him in active games it will likely remain quiet.

Bill (Seattle):

     I keep hearing that Noelvi Marte is the next big prospect for the Mariners now that Julio and Kirby are up. Thoughts on Noelvi? How does he stack up compared to Marco Luciano?

Geoff Pontes: He’s a talented player but the power hasn’t been there this season in a way that outs him the class of those others. More advanced bat to ball skills than Luciano but not nearly as much power. He’s a good prospect, but he needs to be more explosive in game to get those comps.

Buff (Colorado):

     Is either Chourio or Graceffo a likely candidate for the mid season top 100?

Geoff Pontes: I think both are but I’d lay my bets on Chourio. The reports even before this week were extremely positive.

Phil (Illinois):

     Brennen Davis seems to be really struggling in AAA. Was he rushed, or is there a larger concern?

Geoff Pontes: No doubt it was an aggressive assignment, but there’s some bat to ball issues as well as some split issues. I think it’s all stuff he’ll work through as he’s a tremendous talent, but it has been a struggle and maybe more than anticipated.

Mike (Toms River, NJ):

     Is Bleday’s resurgence a product of where he is playing now versus the prior leagues and parks he played in?

Geoff Pontes: I’ve always wondered how much of an impact Pensacola had on his struggles and Royce Lewis’ a few years before. The park is in the ocean and has some weird numbers to certain parts of the park. That said, our reports this off-season were that Bleday had added strength and adjusted his swing to get to more pull side power.

Zak (Boston):

     As a Red Sox fan, I’ve been really happy to see the performance of the Portland Sea Dogs rotation so far. Bello made the Hot Sheet this week, but what are your thoughts on his other rotation mates (Brandon Walter, Chris Murphy, Jay Groome)?

Geoff Pontes: Walter is featured in this week’s Pontes of View and I think he’s clearly their second best pitching prospect. he has a good sinker with two plus secondaries. Murphy was a late cut on this list and has done a great job of refining his pitch mix since joining the organization. I need to see more from Groome, it’s not bad but I think the other three are ahead of him now.

HansQ (Shanghai):

     Came across a familiar but under-the-radar name, what caused the sudden breakout of Eseury Ruiz? Is it a true breakout or sth mixed with good luck and age advantage?

Geoff Pontes: It looks legit, I mentioned it this weekend in my fantasy article but he’s cut his chase rate (rate of pitches he swings at outside the zone) by 30%. That’s a very real change, not sure he’s an everyday guy for a contender but a solid regular for a second division team if he hits.

Brad (NJ):

     Geoff, Tell me more about Gunnar Henderson? What kind of offensive potential are we looking at? How high do you think he could rank in the 2023 BA Handbook?

Geoff Pontes: Depending on graduations and what Baltimore does in the draft he could be 1 or 2 in the Orioles system this winter. The power and plate discipline were always there, now he’s making contact at an above-average rate as a 20 year old in Double-A. I think he could be a big mover this summer.

Neal (Columbia, SC):

     Jordan Diaz seems to have some very nice hit tools and potential. Am I crazy for thinking the A’s have something potentially special in him? Overall thoughts on Jordan?

Geoff Pontes: He’s a solid hitting prospect but due to the corner infield profile he really has to hit. He has some baseline of contact and power, but he needs to refine the approach and limit the whiffs. Probably more of a platoon bat or a fringe-regular type.

Andrerson (Washington):

     Wilderd Patino is showing improvement so far this season. Can he regain his status as a legitimate prospect?

Geoff Pontes: Looks like a hot start as he’s still swinging and missing a ton. I’d monitor it but he looks like he’s producing more than he should.

Reggie (Idaho):

     Is there any chance that David Villar sees some time up with the Giants this year? What would you expect to see from him?

Geoff Pontes: If he’s on the Giants he’s going to hit. I swear they could sign Wily Mo Pena tomorrow and he’d be hitting cleanup against lefties with a .300/.370/.500 slash. Villar is one of the breakouts form last year that had to prove it this year. He’s been good so far, not a great contact or power hit but they’re both average skills and his approach is really good. He’s one of these guys that has a really optimized bat path so he squares up with flush contact on the barrel a lot. That can work. Maybe his ceiling is Ty France but he’s likely more of a true platoon type.

Oliver (Boston):

     Thanks for the chat. Nick Northcut is already closing in on last year’s HR total, but at the cost of a dreadful 4/36 BB/K Could the drop in his walk rate be linked to the automated strike zone and do you expect him to return to the more palatable rate from 2021?

Geoff Pontes: I think the increase in level and competition has opened up come holes, I also think he’s hunting for home runs. Some good and some bad so far.

Paul (KC):

     I see Chourios from Milwaukee is the #1 hot sheet target. Is it to early to pick him up in my dynasty league. We have 150 in our league but most are top 100 prospects? Should I wait to see if he keeps it up? But Id hate for someone else to get him.

Geoff Pontes: Add him now, I added him everywhere.

Corey (Seattle):

     Alex Ramirez is posting a crazy BABIP, following up a very high BABIP from 2021. His SLG is also much improved, is he getting this done with hard contact or is it speed playing up? A 40 hit tool seems low given his current production, does he get a chance to test it in High A soon?

Geoff Pontes: Based on what I saw on the backfields in the spring and what he’s done so far it’s a combination of some raw power, speed, and good bat to ball skills. I think the 40 is low if we’re just talking bat to balls skills. The approach needs to come along but he’s been really good, average and BABIP will stabilize but he’s not going anywhere.

Corey (Seattle):

     Any reports on Antoine Kelly’s velocity coming off of surgery? It seemed like he was the exciting lefty in Milwaukee before 2021.

Geoff Pontes: He was sitting 95 mph touching 98 mph this week. Looks like he’s fully recovered.

JW (Florida):

     Any word on stuff from Taj Bradley and Mason Montgomery? Or at least has anything from either stuff wise significantly changed since last year? Say has either seen an uptick in velo, or more movement on either the fastball or secondary pitches?

Geoff Pontes: Bradley stuff wise is the same as last year 95-98 bumping 99 mph, primarily slider with a split. Montgomery is using his slider more than his curveball ow and the velocity is down a few ticks. Both of them get a ton of vertical break.

Neal (Mobile):

     I know it is early, but what are we looking at with Jackson Chourio?

Geoff Pontes: A future Top 100 prospect is what it sounds like with more room in the ceiling. The feedback is this is a major guy.

Tim (Albany):

     What’s the ceiling for NYM Alex Ramirez? Kid just keeps hitting but the command of the zone seems a little lacking. Power potential?

Geoff Pontes: He loves to chase! bat to ball skills, power, and projection. The approach could catch up with him at some point but likely not until he reaches Brooklyn later this summer.

Frederick (Boston):

     What’s your take on what the Padres or doing with CJ Abrams? It seems like being platooned at a level that he seems unready for is doing him no good, especially considering his need for just playing games coming into the season. Are you worried at all?

Geoff Pontes: I think they needed talented players and he’s the best option for the roster. Personally a season in Double-A and Triple-A might have done some good.

Molly (New Jersey):

     Hi Geoff, thank you for the chat! Gavin Williams has pitched great to start the year, where do you see his season going and what can his upside be?

Geoff Pontes: I said before the year he could end up the best pitcher in the 2021 draft class and I’m not moving off that at all. He’s sitting 96 mph with a plus slider and a solid curveball and changeup. He could be a top of the rotation horse if the health remains. That’s obviously been a big question for him for years.

John (Maryland Heights):

     Masyn Winn riding a babip wave or the bat answering some questions?

Geoff Pontes: The bat is answering some questions for sure, just watching him he’s way more synched up between his upper and lower half and that’s producing better swings. He’s making contact at a rate of 80%, doesn’t chase and has an average exit velocity in line with major league average. It’s legit from where I sit.

Zach (Baltimore):

     I know it’s early, but Gunnar Henderson’s plate discipline improvements are starting to look like a big deal, and I’ve heard (anecdotally, at least) that his 3B defense has been looking really good as well. Could he jump into the top 30 if he maintains this level of play for a couple more months?

Geoff Pontes: You’re preaching to the choir, I think he could and the approach has been fine, the bat to ball skills are showing up now. Not a word of hyperbole here, he might have the best hitting data in the minors. There’s running ability and defense. I think he could be a star.

David (Virginia):

     Hello, thanks for the chat. What level of reliever risk do some of this year’s pop-up pitchers have? I’m thinking of Graceffo, Brandon Walter, Bryan Bello, Brett Kerry, and Mason Montgomery. thanks!

Geoff Pontes: I haven’t watched a lot of Kerry. Bello to me isn’t a pop-up, he was in Portland last year and the stuff was always there. He’s legit. I feel the same way about Brandon Walter, obviously his profile is more in-line with a pop-up but he has the pitch mix to get outs as a starter in the big leagues. Montgomery maybe some more questions as he doesn’t throw that hard and I’m not as sold on the secondaries. Graceffo I’m interested to see up a level, but the stuff keeps getting better month after month starting late in his draft spring. I’m most skeptical on Montgomery. The other three looks like true breakouts.

Matt (San Antonio):

     Jordan Walker seems to be handling AA well although the power has not been there yet. Do you see him staying the whole season in AA or being pushed to AAA? Also can you see him possibly making a jump into the top 5 or top 10 by years end? Thanks

Geoff Pontes: I’d guess 75% of his season is spent there. Really aggressive assignment and as you said he’s handling it so far. If he performs at Double-A I think Top 10 is reasonable, Top 5 he’d have to be the best player in the minors for a few months.

John (Chicago, IL):

     Cristian Santana is struggling in A ball it seems. Can he break-out and become the next Detroit top prospect?

Geoff Pontes: I think he can and I’m willing to throw out the early numbers. The organization showed a ton of faith in him having him skip the FCL entirely out of camp. It’s a great swing and if he can get back into the rhythm he was in during DSL last summer he could really pop.

Sam (Washington D.C.):

     Coby Mayo, thoughts?

Geoff Pontes: Has a great combination of power, contact and approach and is likely to stick at third base. He’s handled an aggressive assignment well and is likely moving up in the Orioles list come the next update.

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