Hot Sheet Chat (5/17/22)

Image credit: Josh Lowe (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

J.J. Cooper answered questions regarding today’s Hot Sheet from 1:30-2:30 p.m. ET.

Tim (SLC):

     Can we get an entire article on Chase Silseth? Is he the lowest round pick to ever be the first in his class to make a major league debut? Is some of this made possible via the COVID shortened 2020 (ie if Silseth pitches a full season as a junior, maybe his UofA ERA is lower than 5…

J.J. Cooper: I do want to do or have someone on the staff do a full Silseth piece, but to answer your question. I don’t think so, but that’s not an easy question to answer. I thought I had an easy answer, as Cody Allen (23rd round, Cleveland in 2011) made his MLB debut on July 20, 2012. But Trevor Bauer made it to the majors a few weeks before that, so Allen was the second from his class, not the first. Other notable “late” round to be first or second to the majors in the past decade include Michael Roth (9th round, Padres) becoming the first 2012 draftee to debut. Koda Glover (8th round, Nationals) was the second 2015 draftee to debut.

Ken (Lakewood CA):

     Logan Allen is back in AA this year and his stats are impressive to me. He is only 6′ and doesn’t have big time velocity. Do you think he will have the same kind of success when he gets bumped up to AAA & Cleveland? Or does his kind of stuff work better facing AA hitters? What’s your guess for his future? Cleveland seems to have a lot of minor league pitching talent. Where does he rank with all of this talent? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: At this point, being “only” 6-foot is not nearly as much of a kiss of death as it used to be for a pitcher. Right now, flat approach angles at the top of the strike zone are coveted among MLB front offices. Guess which pitchers can get those flatter angles on their high fastballs? Shorter pitchers and ones who throw from a lower arm angle. We’ll have an update on the Guardians top 30 coming out later this week, so I’m not going to spoil that update today, but he’s a legit pitching prospect who has a solid shot of being yet another Guardians pitching success story.

Tomás (México):

     I know it’s still early, but if the 2021 draft were to happen today, how different would the top 10 picks look? Basically, what players drafted last year have over-performed or under-performed based on expectations?

J.J. Cooper: You don’t want to go overboard in any way this soon after last year’s draft…But it is a fun question. It’s too soon to say many of the picks would change, and some of the players have barely gotten to show what they can do. Frank Mozzicato is making his pro debut this week. Sam Bachman has been slowed by injuries. The obvious one is the Mets would likely not pick Kumar Rocker if they could do it all over again since they failed to sign him. Gavin Williams may not crack the top 10 in a do-over, but he would be close.

Kyle (Farmngton):

     Is Bryce Ball not hot enough for the Hot Sheet? His turn around after a dismal 2021 seems pretty crazy, especially moving up a level and cutting down the Ks.

J.J. Cooper: Ball had a very good week (.400/.483/.760) but it’s hard to see who he would have bumped off the list with his 2 HR week. It is an encouraging start to the season for him. I’m not ready to throw away his struggles from last year and say this erases them, but if he can keep this up, he’ll start climbing back up the Cubs Top 30.

Rich (NJ):

     Hi Jhailyn Ortiz has been doing very well in AA and now that he is on the 40 man roster do you see the Phil’s calling him up if he continues to hit well particularly as other Harper who is now a DH the outfield is not too productive.

J.J. Cooper: I don’t see him coming up this year. No. The Phillies are spending $66.5 million on corner outfielders/DHs between Harper, Schwarber and Castellanos. Ortiz is in no way a center fielder. As a RF/LF/DH for him to come up, unless there is an injury, involves benching a player making $19 or 20 million a year who is under contract until 2025 (Schwarber) or 2026 (Castellanos). That’s just not going to happen. Ortiz is likely blocked for the forseeable future in Philly, but that’s OK, as he’s only 23 and he’s just on his first option.

Despondent Reds Fan (Nova Scotia Canada):

     No love for Matt McLain this week? I have been a Reds fan since Johnny Bench was a rookie. when they traded Gray, Winkler Suarez and Iglesias, I knew it was a salary dump and thought “ok, wow, they must be getting a lot of good prospects. Now I am horrified. Please tell me they’re link to some top prospects in the next International Signing Period and there’s a franchise player for them in the 2023 draft. Thanks. Love hat you do!

J.J. Cooper: McLain hit .190/.261/.381 this week. So no. That’s never going to get you on the Hot Sheet. I do like Williamson and Phillips, the two prospects the received in the Winkler deal, but it’s a rough time to be a Reds fan.

Elliot (Youngstown OH):

     When do we expect Espino to return?

J.J. Cooper: Hopefully before too long, but with knee injuries and potential cascading effects on the delivery, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want a young pitcher to do is to adjust his delivery because of knee pain, which leads to altering other aspects of your delivery, putting new stresses on the arm and unexpected effects.

Tim (SLC):

     Is there good data on the correlation between exit velocity in the minors and major league success? It seems like the old adage of you can’t hit for power if you can’t hit would apply to Gelof here too–you have to be encouraged by him hitting .360 and showing some opposite field power in an aggressive assignment that would give you faith that the power numbers will come

J.J. Cooper: When I talk to front office officials, I’ve been told that 90th percentile exit velocity has a pretty good correlation with MLB success. That said, nothing is ever cut and dried. There are absolutely mashers who score well on 90th percentile exit velocity metrics who are not premium prospects? Here’s a thought exercise/explainer. Let’s imagine there’s a mythical hitter with the ultimate “grooved” swing. He swings with ferocious bat speed, and his uppercut swing path means that if he gets a pitch right over the middle of the plate, every time he connects, he will hit it 115 mph or harder for a home run. So let’s imagine that this hitter strikes out 65% of the time. He makes weak contact another 10% of the time, where he either pops up a pitch just above the middle of the plate and hits a grounder on a pitch just below the middle of the plate. And on the other 25% of his PAs, he mashes. His 90th percentile EV will filter out most of those grounders/pop ups. And when he connects solidly, he’ll do damage. So he’ll have a top of the scale 90th percentile EV. But because of his 65% strikeout rate, he’s going to likely top out as being a .200 or so hitter (assuming an exceptional BABIP). It’s not a perfect analogy, but there are hitters (Matt Davidson and Dermis Garcia comes to mind) who are the real-world examples of this. Massive power, but with very low batting averages. Yes. In general, seeing a player with excellent hitting ability often portends future power as they mature and learn how to pull the ball. It’s an old scouting adage, but a useful one that for many players power develops last.

norman (Dayton):

     Hi JJ, thanks for the chat! Do you see Andrew Abbott as a 1-2 starter or more back of the rotation?

J.J. Cooper: More of a mid to back of the rotation starter, but that’s still a very valuable prospect.

Sam (NYC):

     Hi – Thanks for the chat – Khalil Watson’s season has been a concern, so far: in particular is his 9:1 K/BB rate and eight errors – I’m not saying he isn’t talented but this start has to cause some concern, no? Thanks –

J.J. Cooper: I have zero worry about the errors. Young shortstops, great ones, often make a ton of errors. Javier Baez made 31 errors for a .922 fielding percentage in Class A in 2013. He had a .930 fielding percentage at SS in his final season in the minors. His MLB fielding percentage at SS? .965. Thanks to modern fielding instruction I really struggle to come up with the last example of a shortstop who was moved off the position because he made too many errors. Jose Offerman comes to mind, but that was a long, long time ago.

Brad (NJ):

     JJ thanks for all your hard work. What 3 prospects have increased their stock the most in 2022? Chourio, Waldichuck, Lawler, Tovar, Nelson Velasquez, Wesnescki, Bello, Shushter?

J.J. Cooper: I can tell you are on top of things and read a lot. Increase the most? I would say Churio. The others have all increased their stock but all came from reasonably high stock levels coming into the year. And even in Chourio’s case, he’s not an Elly de la Cruz. Chourio was a top international propect, where de la Cruz was an under-the-radar signing who has blossomed. I’ll give you one you didn’t name. Tigers RHP Wilmer Flores. NDFA in 2020. Significant prospect now.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone for the questions. I’d love to do this all day, but then you all wouldn’t get the AL/NL Central Top 30 Prospect updates on time this week.

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