Hot Sheet Mailbag (8/22/23)


Image credit: Jasson Dominguez (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kyle Glaser hosted a mailbag to discuss this week’s Hot Sheet. You can read the transcript below.

With the Yankees and Padres both finishing up disappointing seasons, could we see Dominguez and Salas in the Bigs in September? Something exciting for the fans?

Putting Ethan Salas in the majors at 17 when he’s nowhere near ready in a lost season and starting his clock would be the single dumbest thing the Padres could do. Dominguez is a possibility, especially with how well he’s hit in July and August, but I personally believe it would still be better for his long-term outlook to get Triple-A time.

What are the odds that Lazaro Montes can be a fringe defender in RF?

It’s possible. It’s going to take a lot of work, but he’s young and athletic and has a great work ethic. I wouldn’t put it past him.

If the O’s weren’t cheap would we see Jackson Holliday have a rookie Xander role for the playoffs?

No. Holliday has played exactly 25 games above A-ball. Putting him in the majors wouldn’t do him or the Orioles any favors. He’s extremely talented, but to think he’s ready to come up in the postseason against the best pitchers in the game shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the gap between the majors and the minors. Bogaerts, to use your example, was a year older and had a full season’s worth of games at Double-A and Triple-A (139 games total) before he got the call. That comp would work if Holliday came up at the end of next year, not this year.

Moises Ballesteros. Does he feel like a very underrated prospect? His bat feels like a MLB starter in the Soderstrom type mold. Any comps? Future starter?

Ballesteros can hit. The issue is he’s jumbo-sized and is an extreme longshot to be able to play catcher in the major leagues. The comp he gets is Dan Vogelbach, and that’s on the high end. Soderstrom is way, way more athletic than Ballesteros.

Offensively Montes feels like a top 10 type prospect with superstar potential. I understand lack of defense but doesnt his bat alone make him top 50 prospect?

There was a lot of skepticism coming into this year that Montes would make enough contact against good pitching. Even the Mariners internally harbored serious doubts. He’s been excellent and done a great job, but it’s going to take more than 15 games against second-half Low-A pitching to assuage those concerns. That said, he’s moving up with the adjustments he’s made so far.

How much historical research does BA do adding new draftees in your top-100? Recent top-10 (17-now) NCAA guys fallen flat. Does that change matter? Should it?

We do lots of historical research for all of our rankings in order to look for patterns, blind spots, what works and what doesn’t, etc. In terms of adding new draftees, we use historical outcomes to assess how many first round picks in a given class realistically end up going on to have major league careers worthy of being a Top 100 prospect (the range is 6-12 depending on the strength of the class) and we of course take into account the types of players and profiles that are more risky than others (i.e., high school righthanders, college relievers, etc). But simply being a college player isn’t a knock, and it’s more just about assessing each player for their talents.

I apologize but this question isn’t about a hot sheet player but I was wondering what you thought of Taj Bradley and if he had a chance of being recalled

With how badly the Rays need starting pitching with all of their injuries and how well Bradley pitched his last two starts with Durham, I would be very surprised if we don’t see him back in the majors at some point this year

Do you think Osleivis Basabe is a long term solution at SS for the Rays or just a temporary fix

More of a temporary solution. How temporary is going to depend on the outcome of MLB’s investigation into Wander Franco and the allegations made against him. Taylor Walls is also the better pure defender at shortstop and will likely get more starts there whenever he comes off the IL if Franco is still out.

Obviously some prospect fatigue with George Valera. How do you rate the probability now against his once-lofty (offensive) ceiling?

I’ve always been lower on Valera than others. I think the hype was way overblown and have said so for years in chats, podcasts, etc. For comparison’s sake, Will Brennan is a straight-up better player. I don’t see Valera having a very impactful career.

Will the Pirates play Henry David more at catcher in the future so he has fantasy relevant at that position?

Endy Rodriguez is the better catcher. He always has been. He’s going to be the Pirates catcher of the future. Henry Davis is going to settle in the outfield primarily. I don’t see a scenario he gets significant reps at catcher in the major leagues barring a string of injuries to all of the Pirates’ other options.

Caught a few games in Wichita vs. Springfield. Tell me why I like Tommy Seggese and Victor Scott so much.

Because they’re both really good players who can impact a game. Thomas Saggese is really, really good and someone that I believe will have one of the 100 best careers of all the players currently in the minor leagues – and thus should be on our Top 100. Some of my colleagues disagree. I have a feeling, if we don’t eventually get him on our Top 100, he’s going to make us look very foolish for that once he gets his major league career underway.

Who makes more rotation starts in 2024: Smith-Shawver or Ben Brown?

I think you have to go with AJ Smith-Shawver at this point given he’s actually started games in the majors.

Should there be an MLB relegation system in place like there is with soccer? That way teams like KC can go play in AAA w/ other teams their own caliber?

That wouldn’t work with the way MLB is structured. What I would like to see is penalties for teams who spend too little on their major league roster, just as there are penalties for teams who spend too much over various thresholds. Loss of draft picks, loss of revenue sharing, etc. If you’re going to punish the Mets and Dodgers for actually spending on players, you should punish teams like the A’s and Royals for not making any attempt to field a competitive roster. The latter is far worse for the game than the former.

What is your assessment of Justin Crawford first full season?And do you think power will be part of his game going forward?

Crawford has had an excellent first full season. He’s already gotten bigger and stronger and really developing nicely as a hitter. His game will always be more contact-speed driven, but it wouldn’t shock me if he gets to 10-15 homers at full maturity. 

What are red flags to watch for relating to players who can’t make the jump from AAA to the majors? Still shocked with Jo Adell, Nate Pearson, Alex Kiriloff…

Hitters who chase everything and pitchers who can’t throw strikes/have no finesse are the red flags. People keep mistakenly focusing purely on power – exit velos, pitch velos, etc. You need that, but if you can’t harness it, you’re going to get eaten alive in the majors. You have to be able to lay off bad pitches and put the bat on the ball as a hitter and you have to be able to throw strikes and locate your pitches as a pitcher. If you can’t do that, nothing else matters. You won’t have success. Kirilloff is more a case of injuries. Lots of talented players have had their careers sidetracked by injuries. Let’s hope Kirilloff is able to bounce back and not be one of them

What will it take for Michael Busch and/or Jonathan Aranda to get some playing time in the bigs? If Dodgers/Rays don’t want to use them, why not deal them?

Both should have been playing everyday in the majors for months, but they’re blocked. Busch needs to be a 1B/DH and just mash. The Dodgers obviously aren’t able to give him that with Freeman locked in at 1B and Martinez as their primary DH (it’s not a coincidence that Busch was the one to get the callup with Martinez going on the IL). A trade would serve both well.

Any thoughts on Vaughn Grissom manning shortstop after half a season in AAA particularly having reps at SS? Or any chance Ignacio Alvarez would be the answer?

Second base is still probably Grissom’s long-term home, but we’ll see if he can continue to improve as a shortstop and maybe that outlook with more time and reps in the majors. Alvarez is going to be a 3B/1B type. Shortstop is not his true home.

Does Xavier Isaac make the top 100 this year? Thoughts on his first year of ball?

Probably not this year. There are just a lot of other guys who have proven it at higher levels who project to be impactful major leaguers moreso than Isaac at this point. That said, his performance since the first month of the season has been really impressive. I think if he carries that through into next year and shows he can hold his own against High-A pitching, he’ll be on there.

Can you give us a performance comp for what Jackson Holliday has done as a teenager this year? Thanks.

Nothing off the top of my head. What he’s done is pretty rare and special. Let’s just appreciate what Holliday has done and assess him on his own merits rather than try to compare him to others. He’s a pretty special player with a chance to be great.

What do Graham Pauley’s ev and hard hit % numbers look like? Any concern with his contact/chase rates from his time in high a compared to low a?

Pauley has a great feel for the barrel and hits the ball hard. He’s a good, athletic lefthanded hitter with a feel for contact and elite makeup. I expect him to continue being successful as he climbs the ladder and make his way to the major leagues.

What is the balance with jettisoning Ethan Salas to AA at age 17 against his development as a young man and teammate?

There is no balance being struck. The Padres are rushing him. They’ve done this with a lot of guys, almost always to the player’s detriment. Salas is incredibly talented and mature, both on the field and in how he carries himself off of it. You have to hope his talent is just so prodigious he’ll be able to overcome the foundational pieces of development he’ll be missing out on. We’ll see.

Any thoughts on a ceiling for Jefferson Rojas? Cubs seem high on him.

Rojas has surprised even the Cubs with how good he’s been. He’s a good defender who should stick at shortstop and there is real power in his bat. The question, as always, is how much he’ll hit. Some evaluators are skeptical of his pure contact ability and think he’ll settle in as a utilityman. Others are higher and think he can be an everyday shortstop with a power-over-hit profile. We’ll see how he continues to grow and develop and adjust to better pitching as he matures. He’s one to watch, for sure.

What has gone wrong for Jaden Hill at high-A. ERA >9.00 despite almost 12 ks/9

Hill just hasn’t been very good, there’s no way around it. You need to stop looking at K/9 in a vacuum. The point of everything – K/9, BB/9, whatever stat you want – is to prevent runs from scoring. If you get all three outs in an inning via strikeout but gave up five hits and three runs in the frame, you pitched terribly. Hill’s giving up way too many hits and walking way too many batters. It’s really that simple. The stuff and location just haven’t been consistently good enough. It has to get better.

Who is the more likely CF for the Yankees by 2nd half next year- Dominguez or Pereira? Are either a medium/long term answer in CF?

Pereira is the better player. Dominguez is just more famous. Pereira is the answer as long as he stays healthy, which has been a big question with him. If he’s healthy, he’s the more likely of the two. I think there is a decent chance he is their medium/long-term answer in center field, but again, he has to stay healthy.

Is there any concern that Dalton Rushing is too patient at the plate?

Again, a big part of player development is learning to control the strike zone and mastering the balance of being patient and aggressive. You have to remember this is Dalton Rushing’s first full professional season. He’s still developing and, based on his talent, intelligence and competitiveness, I think he’ll figure it out. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it yet.

Stories coming out about the yanks farm due to their current failures. Fingers pointed at Lawson & his false analytical approach. Any rhyme or reason there?

The Yankees have a lot of flaws, one of which is they’ve gone way, way, way too far toward the analytical side in their scouting and player development. I find it humorous how proponents point to the Yankees minor league winning percentage as proof their process is working. That does not matter, at all. The only barometer of whether their practices are working or not is what happens in the major leagues, and the Yankees offense is truly terrible. The Yankees need to fundamentally re-evaluate their approach to scouting, coaching and roster construction. Continuing to argue that they’re balanced and haven’t gone too far to the analytics side would just show willful ignorance, and be a warning that things will not get better any time soon.

Does Drew Thorpe have mid-rotation starter potential?

That would be a stretch. I like Drew Thorpe and think he’s a good pitcher, but fastball-changeup righthanders tend do dominate the low minors before struggling more against better hitters, especially in the major leagues. I remember people getting mad when I wrote and said Chris Paddack wasn’t going to be an ace, more of a No. 3 starter – and even that projection turned out to be too high. I think Thorpe settles in as a solid No. 4 or 5 starter – which is a good outcome and something every team needs.

What have you heard regarding Joendry Vargas first season of Dominican League action?

Just that Vargas is playing really well and living up so far to the hopes the Dodgers held for him when they signed him. He’s still very young and very far away, but the ability he’s shown so far is certainly impressive and promising across the board.

I watched Dominguez earlier in the year and it seemed like he was consciously working on his strike zone discipline almost to a fault. Organizational strategy?

Every organization’s strategy is have their hitters work on their strike-zone discipline in the minor leagues. There will come a time where he’ll have to be more aggressive swinging at pitches he can hit, but for now, solidifying that foundation of being patient and not chasing is important. That’s true for every prospect in every organization

How does Montes’s run at Modesto affect his prospect status overall? Can a dominant month vault him into top-100 consideration, or will he need to show more?

Montes’ run at Modesto has been excellent and answered a lot of questions about how much contact he would make against better arms. He’ll move up pretty significantly in the Mariners Top 30 Prospects ranking. If he continues doing this over a longer stretch and keeps showing the tools and ability to make adjustments that he has, I can see a scenario where that solidifies him as one of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball.

Thoughts on Sammy Zavala as a top 100 candidate? Started the year a little slow but seems to have come on strong.

Zavala has certainly made a stronger case for himself as the year has progressed. Having seen a ton of him this year, I still have some questions about how he’ll handle better pitchers that can actually locate their stuff (he has a lot of difficulty making contact against fastballs in the upper part of the zone) and his maturity has always been behind where you’d like it to be, even in the context of other teenagers his age. That said, his ability to get better over the course of the year and make adjustments is promising. For me, if he proves he can make the adjustment to get to located fastballs in the upper part of the zone against better pitching, he’ll then have the type of career outlook where you can say he’s one of the Top 100 Prospects in the game.

What 17 and 18 year old international prospects have taken the biggest jump up the rankings the last month or two?

I mean, Ethan Salas has the field beat pretty clearly here. 17-year-old international signee from this year who has already jumped into the Top 10 overall prospects in the game. He’s on a level all his own among teenaged international signees.

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