J.J. Cooper Chat (7/10/18)
- When will the updated mid season top 100 come out with the recent draft class?
J.J. Cooper: Hello everyone. Thanks for coming out. We had a long meeting about just that subject yesterday as we figured out where to slot in draftees. Our plan is end of this week but more likely next week as we're trying to make sure our Top 100 and our midseason Top 10s fit together as well as we can. There are a whole lot of moving pieces in getting those two different rankings to line up as we have 10 people working on midseason top 10s and 5 working on the Top 100. But we think we can do a lot to get a new and ever-so-up-to-date Top 100 up with two weeks til the trade deadline.
- I get to watch alot of Sally League games and I am very impressed with both Drew Waters and Oneil Cruz, along with Cal Mitchell. How would you rank those three going forward?
J.J. Cooper: You have a good eye. All three of those players are having breakout years in one form or another. When you say rank, I can do it in a lot of different ways. On upside, Cruz could be a massive star if it all comes together, Waters would be next because of offense+defense while Mitchell could be a very solid hitting left fielder. On the floor side of the debate, Waters ranks highest for me because he's a very good CF who has a good chance to hit. Mitchell should hit and Cruz has the lowest floor because he could outgrow several positions and it's hard to hit at 6-foot-6/6-foot-7. Aaron Judge and Richie Sexon made it work, many others have not.
- Who would be your Rays top 5 prospects after Adames and Bauers graduation?
J.J. Cooper: We'll have that full list out very, very soon, but let's just say it will be one of the best Top 10s in the game. The Rays farm system right now is extremely deep. Even with those graduations it still looks like one of the best farm systems in the game.
Garrison (Tampa Bay):
- With Blake Snell pitching so well (Allstar Snub ughhh aside), what do you think of these two top pitching prospects in the Tampa system Brendan Mckay and Shane Mclanahan? Do either have ace upside or maybe solid #2 starter upside? Thanks JJ.
J.J. Cooper: When you say upside, what kinda probability are you looking at. If we're saying has a reasonable probability for being an ace I'd say no on either. If you're saying is there any chance, sure. For McKay to be an ace, the stuff gets a bump if he gives up hiting and his feel, varied repertoire allow everything to play up–the Aaron Nola path to being a No. 2. For McLanhan the stuff is there to be a No. 1 or 2, but the control, delivery and consistency (which all work together) will have to make big steps forward.
Trade Whit (KC):
- Sean Manaea was a top prospect talent with an injury risk/history (causing him to drop to back half of top 100) when he was traded for Ben zobrist. Royals are looking at trading whit. Can they expect that sort of haul from the brewers or phillies?
J.J. Cooper: I think it's going to be hard to get a package of that significance, although I could make a pretty convincing case he is worth it considering he won't hit free agency until 2023 and he's on a bargain contract right now. The tough part of that is if you are a team trading for Merrifield you are doing so expecting him to be your 2B for several years to come. That's the good news. The bad news is that he'll play all next year as a 30 year old, and you have to ask how many years does he have left at this kind of production, even though he's just establishing himself as a regular.
RyRy (Abingdon, MD):
- Have Gilberto Celestino's tools developed or jumped at all? Or is his encouraging start more attributable to him being polished player, regardless of age?
J.J. Cooper: From my reporting his tools are pretty much the same, but as you would expect his skills are getting better and better. Very good year. Making a case that he might need to be promoted to Quad Cities before the year is over.
JD (Tulsa, OK):
- Where do you think the Tigers will put Casey Mize? Is it crazy to think he could succeed in AA right now?
J.J. Cooper: I think Casey Mize is going to pitch so little this year that it's barely going to matter where they send him. Mize threw 115 innings in college already this year and he ramped up in January for a February start to the season. Now he's had a month off and has to ramp up again. I'd be surprised if we see him throw more than 20 innings over the next two months. High Class A Lakeland would be my guess and then he could start there or Double-A Erie next year, much like the path Alex Faedo and Kyle Wright took this year.
Chuck (South Side Chicago):
- Is Giolito ever going to figure it out? Or will he forever be a 4A type of player?
J.J. Cooper: If you follow me on Twitter or read my stuff you probably know that I was a Giolito skeptic. It's not personal, but I just thought that Giolito was a prospect who never showed the kind of dominance one would expect for a future ace when he was in the minors. But this season has surprised me, largely because he doesn't have the stuff he once did. Three to four years ago, Giolito had a plus fastball and a plus curveball, and you could find scouts who would go better than that on both. Now, he's pitching with an average fastball at best and the curve doesn't have the power to miss bats. In my mind, for Giolito to be a solid big league starter more than anything he needs to find some of the arm speed/velocity that he has lost.
- Is there a problem with Colorado's ability to develop prospects? Gray is struggling, Hoffman has disappointed, Tapia and McMahan and Dahl all are falling below expectations. Seems Freeland is the only guy prospering. Why is this?
J.J. Cooper: Lot of different situations there. Gray is struggling, but we've seen flashes of dominance there. He was solid last year so there's reasons to think he just has to get straightened out. Hoffman has never shown the dominance his stuff would seem to indicate. The combination of hitters seeing the ball well off of him and his fringy control have been hurdles he's yet to overcome. Tapia always had a risk of being a Tweener as he does a lot of things pretty well, but has some clear issues (defensively/doesn't walk) that he has to work through. McMahon also could end up never being a regular, but in his case like Tapia, he's not yet gotten enough time to prove himself. Dahl's problems are injuries more than anything else. So yes, that's a lot of guys who have yet to establish themselves. However, you left out German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela, Tyler Anderson and Trevor Story who are all relatively recent Rockies development success stories. Coors Field makes it tough to develop players, but the Rockies have been doing better in recent years with that.
Michael (Scranton, PA):
- Is Scott Kingery the next Jon Singleton? (A young guy that signs a contract early on but then never produces.)
J.J. Cooper: No. My personal opinion is if you bring up a rookie and ask him to play a position he's not really suited to play and has barely practiced at in the past, you are not putting him in a great position to succeed. When Kingery was in college, no one saw him as a shortstop. He was an outfielder who moved to second base. As a pro, coming into this season Kingery had exactly two games played at shortstop where he had a grand total of 10 chances. He had barely played third base either. So what have the Phillies asked Kingery to do this year? He's primarily played shortstop and he's slid to third base when he's not at shortstop. That's overtaxing him defensively. Long term, he's going to need to slide back to the positions he's suited for, but I still feel confident he'll hit and be a fine outfielder/second baseman. But he's not a shortstop.
- If a team had the #2 pick in a weak draft but knew the following draft would be much better, would it be worth not signing that pick in order to get a high pick in the following draft??? The Astros basically traded Aiken for Bregman and Cameron (signed with the extra $) and ended up coming out on top. Why wouldn't future teams do something similar???
J.J. Cooper: If Aiken was healthy, the Astros were going to sign him. They didn't punt with an eye on the next draft. They didn't sign Aiken because they didn't like the medical on his elbow and at this point it's pretty clear that they were correct in that assessment. I completely believe that teams are more willing to take a chance on drafting a player with signability questions if they love the talent nowadays because they know they'll get a comp pick if they don't sign them, but it's very, very hard to fully assess a draft class more than a year in advance, so I don't think teams would intentionally punt signing a player to get the pick the next year.
- Jarred Kelenic and Travis Swaggerty, of the two is Swaggerty the safer bet and Kelenic the higher upside. Any thoughts would be helpful.
J.J. Cooper: I think that's fair as the college bat is usually going to be a safer bet than a high school bat. But the margin between those two as far as who is "safe" is less than you might think. Swaggerty had a pretty middling junior season at South Alabama and Kelenic has face a lot more top competition than probably any HS bat to ever come out of Wisconsin before him.
- Hi. Thanks for your Q&A's. They are informative and fun. It seems as though there are more solid catching prospects than usual in the Minors. I can easily name a dozen or so that seem to have bright futures. Do you agree that there seems to be a good Minor League stock? Which do you consider to be the top several? Thanks again!
J.J. Cooper: Colonel, I want to use this for this week's Ask BA so I can go into a little more depth on it. Could you send me your name/hometown to jjcooper(@)baseballamerica.com (remove the parentheses which are there to avoid spam) and I'll answer it in more depth and email you when the answer is posted.
- Are you a Pavin Smith guy? If so, can you please give me some hope? Thanks.
J.J. Cooper: Sorry, I'm skeptical. Scouts I have talked to are not all that confident that there is impact in the bat and if there's not, it's tough to be a regular as a first baseman. It's way too early to say he's not going to turn it around, but you expect more from an experienced college hitter than he's shown so far as a pro.
- Any thoughts on the Carter Stewart/Braves failed negotiations? It seems like the Braves wanted an extreme discount based on a medical exam while his camp says it is a "minor" injury. Anthopolous seems to have a history with this sort of thing.
J.J. Cooper: I think that anytime there is a medical report that leads to a team reducing their offer to an early pick, there's a pretty good likelihood that the player is not going to sign. We've seen this time and time again over the years. Some of it is a logical piece of human psychology. Let's say you are selling a car to me and over the phone I agree to pay you $20,000 for it, contingent on an inspection by a neutral party. So the inspection happens and they find some things. Nothing that means the car won't run or anything, but let's say it needs transmission work. So I say I'm now skeptical and I won't pay a dollar over $14,000 for it. Understandably, you're likely to balk because in your head you already had $20,000 essentially in your pocket. That's what happens in these cases. We're dealing with probabilities and uncertainties. Sometimes the doctor is being very cautious. In other cases, they are absolutely right. Brady Aiken's camp were upset the Astros reduced their offer after a medical report found his UCL was shorter than normal. Since then he's had TJ and has lost his velocity when he came back from that TJ, so the doctor appears to have been wise to be concerned. Matt Krook didn't sign with the Marlins out of high school because of a medical concern and he had Tommy John surgery not all that long afterward. On the other hand, Brady Singer didn't sign coming out of high school and he's has been quite healthy for the Gators since then and went even higher in the draft three years later after a great college career. There are no certainties here. But to sum it up, when it comes down to a medical report, teams are looking at it understandably from an evaluation where they say they want to reduce their offer by an amount to deal with the potentially increased risk. At the same time understandably, a player isn't looking at this like he's reading an actuarial table. He has one career. The only two times a player gets a big payday as a player is when he's being drafted or signed initially and when he becomes a productive big leaguer (which is many years in the future if at all). It's not all that easy to take a good bit less money than you expected to receive just a few weeks before.
- Which Luis do you prefer, and why? Medina, Oviedo, or Patino?
J.J. Cooper: I'm yes on all 3.
Jeter Downs #1 Fan (Dayton, OH):
- Am I crazy to think Jeter Downs (already has the name) has the talent to be a future top 50 prospect? What he's done his first calendar year after being drafted has been just as impressive as say Taylor Trammell (who's not in the top 30). He's on pace for the same production Trammell put up last year at Dayton but has the benefit of playing a premium up-the-middle position whether he ends up at 2nd or SS. Talk me off the ledge of my love for Downs!
J.J. Cooper: It's not a terrible comparison. Both do a pretty good job of controlling the strike zone, although Trammell has always walked a little more. If he keeps this up he could move himself into top 100 consideration by next year I'd say. Top 50 means he's going to take another step or two forward with his hit tool and defense, but the solid secondary skills are already there.
Joey (Northridge Ca):
- What are your thoughts on Austin Beck? He is hitting around 300 in the midwest league but only has 1 HOMERUN.
J.J. Cooper: Beck has made strides. I see this year as encouraging for him as he's a much better hitter now than he was last summer in the AZL. That said, it's going to be a pretty lengthy process for him. The tools are loud. The skills have some catching up to do.
J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for the questions. Sorry but I have a to-do list that's a mile long so I have to cut this off after an hour.