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Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects Chat

Frank (Indianapolis IN): How many of these fine young gentlemen will be discussed for the BA 100? J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out. Martes, Tucker and Paulino are locks. I'd expect Perez and Reed will make it as well and it would not surprise me if Whitley did too.

Grant (NYC): What does the future hold for Colin Moran at this point? J.J. Cooper: I'd say it's significantly less likely that he will be an Astros regular now than I would have said a year ago. Moran has to hit because he's not a plus defender and he lacks plus power. He didn't hit in 2016. With Alex Bregman leaping past him, Yulieski Gurriel also a better option at third base and J.D. Davis right behind him, Moran doesn't have a lot of logical paths to a regular big league job in Houston.

Jake (Dallas, TX): Is there still reason to be optimistic about Daz Cameron? Was he overdrafted, in your view? J.J. Cooper: He wasn't overdrafted, but there aren't a lot of teams that would line up to pay him $4 million if the draft was being redone today. Coming into the draft, Cameron was a prospect who scouts had varied opinions on. Those that loved him saw him as a center fielder with athleticism, power and speed. Those who didn't thought that there were hitting questions and the speed/defense wasn't good enough to overcome those. A year and a half after the draft it's way too early to say we know the answer, but so far, the concerns about Cameron's hitting have come to the foreground.

Paul (san fran, ca): Hey JJ, what can you tell us about Myles Straw and which OF position he's best suited for? J.J. Cooper: Straw can really run. He's the fastest guy in the organization and obviously he's coming off of an outstanding year at the plate. His arm is good enough to play right as well as center and left. He fits best as a fourth outfielder who can play all three.

Brandon (Houston): How close was Ramon Laureano to making the list? Been mashing J.J. Cooper: He didn't miss by all that much. Breakout seasons. Yes, he's a later-round Astros' draft find, but he's a toolsy later-round draft find with speed/defense/arm to go with the bat.

Daniel (Orlando): Where would Albert Abreu slot in on the Yankees list? Can hee correct his command issues? J.J. Cooper: Somewhere around 8 or 9 on the Yankees list. There's no glaring issues with his delivery that don't appear to be fixable and he's young, so there's every reason to give him chances to work through them.

Proswagonist (Liberl): Did Miguelangel Sierra or Gilberto Celestino garner consideration for the top 10? J.J. Cooper: Sierra didn't miss by much. Celestino is a little further back but both should be in the Prospect Handbook. The 11 home runs Sierra hit in the Appy League are misleading as that's not his game, but he has a very well-rounded set of tools.

David (St Louis, MO): Hi JJ, thanks for the chat. So Miguelangel Sierra got off to a screaming hot start in the Appy league (especially in the power department) and then came slamming back down to earth after that. Have his projections changed as he has filled out or are they more of the same? Was he overmatcher in Tri-City? Any consideration for making the top 10? Thanks J.J. Cooper: As I was just saying I would not change the power projection much yet even though he turned into Babe Ruth for a stretch there in Greeneville. He will easily be in the next 10 on the Top 30 in the Handbook.

Tom (New York): Would either of the prospects traded to the Yankees for McCann received consideration for the the top 10 (or been close) had the trade not occurred? J.J. Cooper: Abreu was already on the page as No. 10. Guzman would have been No. 21 pre-trade.

Greg (Beeville, TX): In the 2015 draft, I was a little disappointed to see the Astros take Kyle Tucker over Benintendi. Knowing this made it frustrating to watch Benintendi's success with the Red Sox while the Astros had a revolving door in the outfield. Kyle Tucker seems to have met (or even exceeded) expectations thus far though, and I have been impressed by him. If drafting today, would you take Benintendi or Tucker? Is this a situation where you couldn't go wrong with either one? J.J. Cooper: Benintendi. As good a prospect as Tucker is, the hope really is that Tucker ends up becoming the prospect Benintendi is right now. Both are high average/solid power bats. Benintendi has done that in short stints in the big leagues. Tucker has done that in Class A. Tucker is a very good prospect and he does have a shot to exceed Benintendi's production, but if you're asking me, I'll go with the safer bet who has a very similar ceiling.

Mick (Chicago): With Detroit's Zach Shepherd really struggling, might Chase McDonald have the best chance to be the next Aussie position player in MLB? J.J. Cooper: That's going to be a pretty tough path from AA to the big leagues. Ahead of McDonald for the DH/1B spots the Astros have Gurriel, Tyler White, A.J. Reed, concievably J.D. Davis and plenty of non-C at-bats for Gattis and McCann. And that's without the Astros signing Carlos Beltran, which has been rumored as a possibility. And there could be further bleed over to DH at-bats from the outfield where there is Aoki, Springer, Reddick as well as Teoscar Hernandez and Derek Fisher. So I don't see it happening in 2017 or 2018.

Steve (Chicago): Do you have any good comps for Yulieski Gurriel? J.J. Cooper: That's tough to do because players don't reach the big leagues at age 32. Gurriel has been one of the best non-MLB players in the world for years, but we'll have to see how much he has left at an age where players are trying to hang on to what they have more than get better. If Gurriel hits to his potential this year he could be an above-average hitter in 2017. But how long can he hang on to that production? Gurriel's contract is front-loaded so the Astros will be paying him less as he ages, but this year he'll be among the team's highest paid players.

Proswagonist (Liberl): Compare Garrett Stubbs and Jake Rogers defensively. Stubbs is listed as the best defensive catcher in the system, but is that a consensus opinion? J.J. Cooper: Not saying it's unanimous, and Rogers arm is better, but when it comes to framing/blocking and handling velo Stubbs is further along than Rogers. And as good as Rogers' arm is, it's hard to say he is that much better at throwing out baserunners than Stubbs when Stubbs has been at the top of caught stealing numbers in every league he's every played in.

Mark (Fargo, ND): Why were David Paulino strikeout totals so low? J.J. Cooper: I assume you are talking about at the big league level (which was 7 innings total) because he struck out 10+ at pretty much every stop through the minors. Paulino didn't have his normal stuff in two of his three MLB outings, but it was back to normal in his final MLB outing and it's been as good as ever in the AFL. Generating swings and misses isn't a big problem for Paulino.

Thomas (TX): Does Derek Fisher profile as a major league regular? Seems like contact issues continue to dog him J.J. Cooper: They do as the writeup explains. But Fisher's power/speed/on-base ability could make him a useful big leaguer even if he's a .240-.250 hitter.

Chris (Charleston, WV): Bobby Boyd - I thought he projected as a 4th-OF type out of WVU, but he's adjusted well to each level he's struggled with and actually developed some power this year in High-A. What are your thoughts on him, and does he have a shot at cracking the top 30? J.J. Cooper: Not right now (for the 30) because if you're going through the Astros' OF depth chart there are a lot of guys at upper levels ahead of him. Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, Ramon Laureano, Myles Straw, Jason Martin have all either been played at higher levels or outproduced Boyd at the same level.

Caleb (Denton, TX): Daz Cameron has dropped quite a bit since being ranked as the #74 prospect in baseball last year. How concerned should Astros fans be? Is this simply a high school player adjusting to pro ball more slowly than expected or are there serious doubts about him as an eventual major leaguer? Thanks! J.J. Cooper: Yes he has dropped. He wasn't ready for full season ball in 2016. That's a signficant concern. It doesn't mean the tools aren't still there, but there are more concerns about the bat than there were a year ago.

Mike (Dallas): Bregman? Anyone? An Org Overview w/o a faint mention #sigh J.J. Cooper: Kind of puzzled by the question. What do you need to know about Bregman at this point that he hasn't already showed. He's really good. Hope that helps.

James (Rutvegas, VT): With Albert Abreu moving to a system already having completed it's top 10, would it be possible to get a taste of what his scouting report and outlook is considering he would have placed in the top 10 here? J.J. Cooper: James. Email me at and I'll try to use this as the Ask BA with the scouting report.

Rich (San Antonio): Do you think the Astros would trade the likes of Reed, Cameron, Feliz, and Paulino for someone like Archer. Would this be enough? Don't want to trade Martes or KTuck. J.J. Cooper: Don't think that would be the deal. To trade for Archer you need to trade the players you don't want to trade.

Bob (Tex): I know he's not a prospect anymore, but do you still see Michael Feliz fitting in the potential starter mix with Martes and Paulino or do you think that ship has sailed? J.J. Cooper: I think he's a reliever and a good one for Houston.

Brian (Montclair, NJ): Astros fans are talking up a potential Chris Sale trade. Who on the Top 10 list would be of most interest to the White Sox? J.J. Cooper: It would logically start with the Top 3. That's upper level pitching and a former top 5 pick who has produced in Class A. Houston also has guys like Musgrove who are young, cost controlled but also have some big league experience as well.

Big suge (Compton, CA): Thanks for the chat. How do Kyle tucker and Blake Rutherford compare long term? There's guy in my fantasy league that has both and I want one badly. Who would you rather have on your team and why? J.J. Cooper: Crazy thing is Tucker is not much older than Rutherford. Both are very good prospects, but I'd say Tucker, although it's close. Both are very polished bats. Rutherford has a better chance to stay in center than Tucker but Tucker has better right field tools if both of them ended up moving. Tucker has succeeded in full season ball already, Rutherford hasn't. I expect Rutherford will be very good in low Class A next year, but Tucker's a step ahead at a similar age. So Tucker, but it's close.

Ted (Boston, MA): I'm not sure why but Ramon Lauriano reminds me of Mookie Betts, who also had little (no pun intended) fanfare until he was at AA-AAA. Are they compatible players at all, could Ramon end up with a ceiling anywhere close to that. It seems like people are slow to let go of The round he was drafted in. J.J. Cooper: Betts was a Top 100 Prospect before he ever played in AA, so I don't see how that really applies. Betts was a fifth-rounder who got above-slot money. He was a premium athlete/prospect as a shortstop out of high school. I like Laureano but no, I don't see really any similarities to Betts. But Betts is a really solid prospect who has a good chance to be a big leaguer.

Tom (Chicago): With a glut a prospects that are close to contributing but not quite there yet(Martes, Paulino, Fisher, Rogers, Singleton, Reed, Tucker, Teoscar, Marisnik, Kemp) are the Astros almost forced to consolidate the talent with a trade? J.J. Cooper: Not all of those guys are the same. Martes, Tucker and Paulino are top prospects. Some of the other guys you listed are guys with dramatically less trade value.

Marco (Rumble Pony Land, NY): Paulino's career numbers are impressive and he seems to have everything you want from a front line guy. I remember you guys projecting a breakout year last season. How far away is he from Martes and is this 1-2 pitching punch the best of any system? J.J. Cooper: There's a lot to like. The big thing with Paulino is he has to prove that he has the durability he's lacked so far. There's nothing to dislike about the stuff.

Kelly (St. Cloud MN): Did Ronnie Dawson make a good impression for scouts? Will we see him in the 11-20 range? J.J. Cooper: He struggled in his first pro exposure. He's a pretty solid power-speed prospect but he's going to have to hit a lot as he is limited to left field.

a.j. (las vegas): Does the Reddick signing make Fisher trade bait? Seems he was primed to be a mid-season call up in LF? J.J. Cooper: I wouldn't say it means the Astros will need to trade Fisher but it does slow down his ETA. Fisher doesn't really fit as a fourth outfielder as much as Hernandez.

Will (Birmingham): Teoscar Hernandez, is he here to stay or still has alot of work to do? J.J. Cooper: He could fit as a fourth outfielder on a team that is getting more crowded by the day.

Matt (Norfolk, VA): Who is omittied from this list, further down the top 30 that has the best chance of vaulting to the top of next years list? J.J. Cooper: The Astros have a number of young arms who could keep climbing. I'll throw Hector Perez out as one name to watch who could be a Top 10 guy next year.

Joe (Corpus Christi, TX): Lifelong Astros fan. Happy to see the rebuilding going on, especially from yesterday. Do you think the top five prospects on your list could get us Chris Sale, or is that not enough? J.J. Cooper: I think that would be in the ballpark, but it depends on if the White Sox's want prospects or want some young big leaguers as part of the deal. But yes, Astros have the ammo to make the trade as much as about anyone because they have young MLB players and upper level prospects.

George (SA, TX): Ramon Laureano v Jason Martin J.J. Cooper: Laureano.


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A lower leg kick was among the changes that allowed the 27-year-old righthander to bloom.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone for the questions. I need to run and get back to writing up 40-man roster additions. I'm on Twitter at @jjcooop36 if you want to continue the conversation.

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