J.J. Cooper Chat (7/25/19)

Image credit: Adley Rutschman (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Frank (Dayton): 

    In the Reds Top 30 there was no mention of Josh VanMeter. Was he ineligible for the list? It seems like with what he’s done in 2019 he would have made the cut.

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone, thanks for coming out. I’ll start with a mea cupla. Doing midseason Top 30s means we have a lot less time to produce these than our offseason Top 30s for the Prospect Handbook. I’d love to say we caught every mistake and tweaked all our rankings to perfection, but I’d be misleading if I said that. I feel very good about the rankings and we spent a ton of work on them, but VanMeter should have been on the Reds Top 30 and we whiffed on it. There’s reason to worry that some of his improvement this year is environment based, but there’s been enough performance there (and the power is real) to make him a solid 12-18 prospect on the Reds list–he’s in the big leagues while there are guys on the Reds Top 15 who will never make the big leagues (happens in every system). Our apologies.

Andrew (Alberta): 

    What does Alek Manoah have to do to sneak into the top 100? Can he possibly get there by seasons end? Thank you.

J.J. Cooper: I think next year is a more realistic possibility of him cracking the Top 100. The biggest questions with Manoah are will he end up as a starter or a reliever. He’s not going to really do anything this season to answer that question–he threw a lot of innings at West Virginia so understandably he’s not going to pitch much the rest of this year. Next year he’ll be in full season ball and we’ll get our first good luck at how well he can project as a starter.

Daniel Genovese (nyny): 

    It seems that the Yankee organization should be rated higher but are being downgraded because most of their better prospects are not close to the majors?

J.J. Cooper: The reason they rank No. 21 is because we love their depth at the lower levels. We’re bumping them up because of that–if not for that this is a 25-30 farm system right now. New York currently has one Top 100 prospect (who is not a top 50 prospect) They don’t have many guys who are on the cusp of the Top 100 either. Most of the Yankees best prospects are in low Class A or lower, which means they have a lot of potholes to avoid to make it to the majors. They have so many of those guys that there’s a reasonable expectation that some of them are going to survive the attrition that comes with moving up the ladder, but if a team looking to trade with the Yankees wants a truly top-tier prospect to be the cornerstone of a deadline deal, the Yankees don’t have a lot to offer compared to other teams. What they do have is a TON of guys who could be viable pieces in a deal.

Kevin (Kentucky): 

    How close is Caleb Sampen to cracking the Rays top 30, and what are your thoughts on him?

J.J. Cooper: He would rank in the top 30 in most systems, it’s just really hard to crack the Rays Top 30 right now (which is why he was mentioned in rising).

Zak (Boston): 

    Who would you rather have; Eloy Jimenez or Luis Robert?

J.J. Cooper: Coming into the year, Eloy would have been the easy answer, but Robert is going to have a lot more defensive/baserunning value so if he’s 80 percent the hitter Eloy Jimenez is, you’d rather have Robert. I’m still going to say Eloy for now, but it’s very close. He has a much lengthier track record with the bat. By the end of the year with more time to talk to scouts about Robert, I may switch my answer.

John (New Jersey): 

    Would the Royals system rank higher than 18 if the hitters in Wilmington were performing well?

J.J. Cooper: Yeah. Their pitching depth is impressive. There are a lot of arms with solid MLB futures. Their hitting depth is not. Wilmington is a brutal place to hit, but you have to produce more than the Royals big three there (Matias-Melendez-Pratto) have.

Devin (Oakland): 

    How did you all balance the Royals org ranking? Both from the increase in the pitching talent but the simultaneous decrease in the hitting talent (Witt Jr excluded).

J.J. Cooper: Witt is a huge part of their org talent ranking, so you can’t exclude him. Adding a Top 20 talent (we really believe in Witt) makes a pretty significant impact in the org talent rankings. Take Witt away and the Royals would slide 6-8 spots down in our rankings.

Matthew (Baltimore): 

    The Orioles are ranked 8th now by BA as a farm system. Is a Top 5 ranking within reach a year from now?

J.J. Cooper: Yes. I would expect the Orioles will add a top 2-3 pick (and a large draft class) next June. Once those guys are signed having say Rutschman/Rodriguez/Hall/+ elite 2020 draftee at the top of their rankings will keep this group moving up, and there will likely be very few significant graduations by then (maybe Ryan Mountcastle, but AAA Norfolk isn’t overflowing with prospects).

Henry (Duluth): 

    What kind of offensive ceiling does Luis Campusano possess?

J.J. Cooper: We have been discussing him a lot the last few days as a guy who could slide into the Top 100 before long. The encouraging aspect is how well his bat has come along–his defense has been very good for a while. Catching is hard, but he has the potential to be a above-average everyday catcher (which means 100-110 games a year these days).

Danny (Philly): 

    With Spencer Howard back and throwing like he did earlier this season, can we see a jump up the prospect list in the offseason with a strong finish?

J.J. Cooper: Yes. The stuff has been every bit as impressive in his return.

Carlos (New York): 

    What do you think of the Mets draft? Do you think it’s too risky what they did?

J.J. Cooper: I kind of like it for a couple of reasons. 1) They landed three first/second round talents. Likely not all three will succeed, but they have a chance to get impact talent from a draft where they had no pick/pool advantages. 2) Some senior signs can turn into solid players, so it’s not like acquiring Jake Mangum or Luke Ritter is nothing. Those are solid baseball players who just landed minuscule signing bonuses because of their lack of leverage. That said, it’s not an approach you can do in back-to-back years in my opinion. As a follow-up you likely will want to spread risk around and get more college players next year to diversify the draft portfolio.

Laserbrain (Space): 

    Your opinion on the future of El Capitan Kirk with the Jays?

J.J. Cooper: We just mentioned Luis Campusano. If there is another young catcher to keep an eye on who’s not currently in the Top 100, it’s Kirk to me. The body isn’t good but the bat is and he’s a way better defensive catcher than meets the eye. Solid all-around prospect.

Matt (Va): 

    Why wasn’t Josh Jung in the top 100?

J.J. Cooper: We are so close to the draft that if you notice, our draftees in the Top 100 almost without fail follow our pre-draft rankings order. So little has happened since then to change assessments of players–that will come as they get to 200+ ABs over this half season of pro ball. He’s not all that far off the top 100 (like most of the guys we projected as top 15 picks), but we’ve heard nothing yet that indicates that our pre-draft rankings/reports need to be completely revamped, which is what would need to happen to have him already in the top 100.

dave (grayson, ga): 

    A couple questions about the Braves list..Surprised to see Logan Brown in the top 30, ahead of Jeremy Walker and most of the 2019 HS draft picks. Is he an elite defensive catcher? Hard to see him hitting enough even to be a ML backup. And do you know when Victor Vodnik is coming off the DL?

J.J. Cooper: He is very solid defensively, which pretty much can almost get you to the big leagues on its own and can provide plenty of opportunities for the bat to get better. This year there are 22 catchers with 100 or more PAs in the majors with a sub-.300 OBP. There are 11 who aren’t slugging .325 and there are 11 who aren’t hitting .200. I have not heard an ETA for Vodnik.

Bryan (Compliance): 

    Do you think Tucker Davidson can be a good major league starter? Or will he shift to the bullpen?

J.J. Cooper: Scouts I talk to are generally more inclined to say reliever. But a very good 7th-8th (even 9th) inning reliever who makes an impact. His fastball plays even better than the velocity would indicate.

Adam (Atlanta): 

    There’s no scenario where the Braves should trade Pache or Waters, right? Do they think they should hold on to Ian Anderson too?

J.J. Cooper: I never say “no scenario.” I do think it’s unlikely there will be any available player worth trading any of the Braves big three to acquire, but that doesn’t mean there are no scenarios where it makes sense. If Atlanta could acquire a front-line starter with multiple years of team control remaining, it could make sense, but I don’t think that guy is out there. But to play hypotheticals, if Justin Verlander was available (like he was a couple of years ago), I could see dealing one of those three in a deal for him. I can’t really come up with a reliever I’d part with any of those three for straight up.

Grant (Calgary): 

    What type of injury does Jordan Groshans have and is he expected back this year? Do you have revised expectations on the type of played Garret Hampson will become?

J.J. Cooper: It’s a foot injury. I haven’t heard a recent update on the ETA for his return, but it’s going to be somewhat of a lost season at this point. As far as Hampson, it’s an underwhelming MLB debut, but the hope is he becomes a versatile, athletic multi-position guy. I think that is still the case.

Judlow (NYC): 

    What factored more into Giants’ jump to 15: acquisition of talent or development of talent?

J.J. Cooper: At this point I’d say acquisition. Signing a very good international class (Marco Luciano, Jairo Pomares and Luis Matos) and drafting Joey Bart, Hunter Bishop and Sean Hjelle help push them up. The development of those players (and Heliot Ramos, Gregory Santos, etc.) will be what they need to do to climb higher.

Tyler (Green Bay): 

    Do you see Ethan Small adding anymore velocity?

J.J. Cooper: I’ve seen a lot of quality college pitchers add velo in pro ball, so it’s definitely possible, although I do think Small could have success without gaining another tick because of the quality of his secondary offerings and his deception and feel. That said if he ends up adding 2-3 mph over the next couple of years his ceiling would rise.

John (Phoenix): 

    Thoughts on Grant Lavigne? Sophomore slump or played above his capabilities last year

J.J. Cooper: There are reasons for concern. Asheville is a great place to hit (even if it hasn’t proven true for Lavigne yet). In addition to less than optimal stats, Lavigne isn’t really showing the power and ability to drive the ball needed for a first baseman. Hopefully it’s a slump, but this is not a case of him being hosed by bad luck. There’s some need for actual improvement.

Connor (Philadelphia): 

    Any updates on when Groome will start pitching again?

J.J. Cooper: The last report I had (recently) was that he is throwing at 100 percent effort. So I would expect we’ll see him back on the mound in official games in the next month, but it’s a TJ rehab, so there are no certainties.

Alex (Houston): 

    What can you tell us about Shawn Dubin? I’ve never seen a scouting report of him before!

J.J. Cooper: Dubin is very skinny and there are concerns about how much he can fill out, but the arm is legit (94-95 mph) and he has both a curveball and a slider that show plus potential.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone. As usual, my apologies that I wasn’t able to answer everyone’s questions, but hit me up on Twitter (@jjcoop36) and I’ll try to get to a few more over the next day or two. And to our subscribers: Thank you! You all are the bedrock of what we do. This past week we have had reporters at games all over the country working to gather info to pass along to you. Your support is what keeps us going and thriving and we thank you for that.

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