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J.J. Cooper Prospect Chat (8/28/18)

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Peter Alonso and Buddy Reed (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Georgie (Tampa): 

    After most of this season has played out, it looks like Rays seemed to know what they were doing with their trades in offseason. Did people really want all the prospects coming through minors to be blocked by average and declining veterans with no future with team in a division with Yankees and Red Sox?


J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out. I wouldn't really agree with your full assessment as most of the players they traded away are at positions where players have not been blocked. Corey Dickerson wasn't really blocking any prospects in the outfield and Jake Odorizzi wasn't really blocking any starting pitchers (as the Rays haven't used all that many starters this year). But you have to give the Rays credit for succeeding. My only criticism with the Rays remains the same one I've always had. They are really smart and well run, but they also have shown an unwillingness to spend at the levels expected/needed for an MLB team. That doesn't mean they need to spend money poorly just to prove they will spend it. But how good could the Rays be if they could run a $100 million payroll with their intelligence (or even a $90 million payroll)?

Accudart (Vermont): 

    Understanding that O'Neil Cruz might not stick at ss, what are the ceilings for him and Nats ss Luis Garcia? Thanks.


J.J. Cooper: I would say might is a very kind word there, but Cruz will be a solid defender somewhere, just not SS long-term. Garcia has a higher likelihood of reaching his ceiling in my mind because he can stay up the middle and he has a very advanced hit tool for his age. As far as the 1 percent probability ceiling, Cruz is higher-ceilinged as he could be a power/speed guy who impacts the game in so many ways. As one scout put it, if he puts it all together there's not much he can't do.

Ralph (Kiner's Corner): 

    Scott Kingery and Jake Bauers both started their MLB careers on fire then fizzled out. Do you see them making the adjustments necessary to become potential all-stars down the road?


J.J. Cooper: I'm pretty bullish on Bauers. He is a 22 year old 1B with a chance to hit for average with solid power. He's definitely been awful lately, but I do think he ends up being a solid everyday 1B. With Kingery, I think the Phillies have asked him to do too much too soon. Kingery was never a SS in college or pro ball, but that's the position the Phillies have primarily asked him to play in the big leagues. I think he would be doing better if he wasn't being so taxed defensively.

Anthony (Maryland): 

    Nick Pratto, Peter Alonso, Nathaniel Lowe, and Matt thaiss - all 1B prospects with differences and not all at the same level of course. Who do you think becomes the most successful big leaguer and why?


J.J. Cooper: That is an interesting question. I'll go Lowe barely over Alonso. Alonso has more upside, but more risk of washing out as he's going to have to hit enough to get to his power (which is the best of this group). Lowe has a better chance to hit for average with solid power in my mind. Thaiss is a hit over power guy. Since all 3 of those guys are in upper levels, I'm going to take all three of them right now over Pratto, who has had a great August, but overall hasn't set the world on fire in low Class A this year.

Steve (Tampa): 

    How will Rays IF of Franco, Adames, Fox, and Brujan eventually shake out? Can either Fox or Brujan move to CF?


J.J. Cooper: The Rays don't have a history of moving guys quickly, so by the time Franco reaches the big leagues, Adames will likely be arb-eligible. But I also think you're simplifying things as when you talk about second base there's also Solak, Gray, Lowe, Arroyo, Wendle and Robertson to consider. Brujan could be a very good CF if the Rays wanted to do that, but the Rays way is more likely to let him play both to keep the versatility. It's something they have done with a ton of their 2Bs. I think Fox fits more as a UTIL at the MLB level.

Rick (Ga): 

    JJ, do you see Royals making room for Richard Lovelady in September or will they let the business side of baseball stop it, young man has proven himself at every level, thank you


J.J. Cooper: No. I think he'll head to spring training next year competing for a job. The reality is that the Royals are 51 games under .500, so there is not really any competitive reason to promote him and he doesn't need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason for Rule 5 purposes. Put all that together and it makes more sense that he'd come up next year. And I say that as a big Lovelady fan.

DH (Pittsburgh): 

    Over/under?: Peter Alonso averages 32 HR during his 5 peak big league seasons.


J.J. Cooper: Definitely the under. That's a lot of home runs. There are exactly three 1B (Chris Davis, Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt) who have averaged 32 HRs over the last 5 seasons. No one else has averaged more than 27 over that time frame. I know you are saying peak 5 seasons, but 32 HRs a season is still rare air.

Nick (New Jersey): 

    Is Rhys Hoskins a good comp for Peter Alonso?


J.J. Cooper: No. I think Hoskins hit tool is a grade or two better while Alonso have may have a tick more raw power.

Chris (Toronto): 

    Mickey Moniak has had a very good last 2 months roughly, any chance he could get back into the top 100?


J.J. Cooper: Very good is a stretch. He has a .281/.335/.464 stat line since July 1. That's definitely an improvement, but that's still not really exceptional and for the entire season he's sporting a sub-.300 OBP. If he's going to be a top of the order hitter he's going to need to draw more walks. If he's going to be a middle of the order he needs to hit for more power.

Alexis (London, Ontario, Canada): 

    Appreciating the coverage on the WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup this time around! Is there anything you have learned about the WBWC that you might not have known before the one happening currently?


J.J. Cooper: Thanks Alexis. I have been impressed with Venezuela and the Dominican Republic which have helped deepen the pool of competitive teams. We all knew Japan and Canada and Team USA would be teams to watch, but solid performances by Taiwan, Venezuela and the D.R. have made for a better/more competitive Super Round. The other thing I would say I have loved is the ease with which the games have been able to be watched (which was true to an extent in 2016 as well). I've seen complaints about the games not being on over-the-air/cable TV, but the YouTube streams have been great in my opinion. All games are available, the camera work/broadcasts have been solid and in 2018, watching a YouTube stream really isn't much different from watching a game on cable. As far as players, Jade Gortarez has gone from being a budding star to being a star of the World Cup. Very impressed with Iori Mura, Megan Baltzell, Chelsea Forkin and (as always) Amanda Asay.

Jeff (Toronto): 

    Is Pardinho a pitcher to be getting excited about? (Albeit, at Age 17)


J.J. Cooper: Absolutely. He's one of the best pitchers in rookie ball right now.

Dave (NY): 

    Luis Medina's season has been a nightmare. Is it too early to overreact, or has his prospect stock plummeted?


J.J. Cooper: Statistically he's never been successful, but scouts still LOVE him. So yes, it seems too early to overreact.

Mike (At work): 

    Which of these three pitchers is most likely to wind up a true ace, and which is most likely to miss that mark? Forrest Whitley, Brent Honeywell, AJ Puk.


J.J. Cooper: If one of three does, that's a pretty good hit rate (less than one ace graduates to the big leagues a year in my mind). I'd say Whitley is most likely to be an ace.

Steven (Plano, TX): 

    Other than Miguel Amaya, is there any position players on the Cub system that Cubs fans should be excited about even though they may not be in the majors for another 2-3 years?


J.J. Cooper: I'll give you two names to remember. Zack Short (AA shortstop) and Jhonny Pereda (HiA C). Neither are world beaters but they have some potential.

Bob (San Diego): 

    Is there any good way to compare the strength of farm systems across years? What I'm wondering is how good the current Padres system is (quality + depth) relative to other top ranked systems from the past. I'm trying to convince my wife that this time it's different, and they're actually going to be good in the near-ish future.


J.J. Cooper: This time is different. This is a very deep, very talented system. It's similar to what the Braves have had the past couple of years (and the Braves are now using that talent to contend). There are definitely ways the Padres could still fail to contend with this group (injuries, keep the wrong players and trade the wrong ones, fail to develop starting pitching in time to sync up with the bats), but the future looks quite bright in San Diego.

Daniel (Hayward): 

    Both the Padres and the Braves have a lot of great pitching prospects. Which crop of pitching prospects would you take for the next 5-10 years? Which crop would you rather build a club around?


J.J. Cooper: I'll take the Braves pitchers. The depth of the Padres matches up, but the Braves have Soroka/Toussaint/Allard/Wilson/Wright/Anderson/Muller/Weigel (and others) who have had success in Double-A and beyond. A significant number of the Padres best pitching prospects are still in Class A. Also, the remaining to-do lists for the Padres best pitching prospects are generally lengthier than the same for the Braves top pitching prospects. That said, the Padres position player depth is better than the Braves (the same can be said for the Rays).

Brody Bonar (San Diego): 

    Is Chris Paddack the best pitching prospect in baseball?


J.J. Cooper: No.

Maitan (Maitoff): 

    Why is Kevin Maitan so not what everyone said he would be? Faulty reports from before he signed? Everyone rushing to jump on the hype train without enough evidence it was warranted? Too much cake?


J.J. Cooper: Maitan's official listed weight on Orem's Opening Day roster this year was 222 pounds. He was 175 pounds coming into the July 2 signing period in 2016. That has made a significant difference in his explosiveness and his bat speed. He's also tweaked his swing in ways (especially from the left side) that are less than ideal.

Wander Franco (Texas): 

    With Wander's across America, how quickly does Tampa Bay's Wander Franco get called up to the majors for good?


J.J. Cooper: I struggle to name a Rays prospect since Evan Longoria who has been on a fast track to the majors. Adames got over 2,000 MILB ABs. I would expect the Rays will move Franco to low Class A next year with a possible bump to HiA at some point, but this isn't a team that puts players on a Nationals-esque fast track. So let's say early 2021.

Frank (Arizona): 

    The curious case of Yermin Mercedes a catcher in high a now with White Sox. Dude has hit at every level since his 3 year stint in dsl and showed power. Yet he gets passed around and is treated like organizational depth at this point. Is he that bad on defense? Is there some type of explanation why a guy who has always hit is in freaking high a at 25?


J.J. Cooper: Ok, is someone baiting me with this question, as I think I'm the high man on Yermin Mercedes outside of the immediate Mercedes family. He's not that bad on defense. He's got a plus arm (just saw him turn in plus times throwing two weeks ago myself) and pitchers like throwing to him. He may be a late-blooming 4A catcher, which is not a bad gig, but he needs to get to AA to show if he can handle higher levels of the minors.

Danny (Richmond VA): 

    Hi, JJ. Thanks for the chat. What do you see as a realistic outcome for Padres C prospect Luis Torrens once he's back in the majors? Can he be an average regular behind the plate? It's clear the Padres like him, although he's probably behind guys like Mejia, Campusano, et al, in the pecking order.


J.J. Cooper: He has potential to be that, but the track record of Rule 5 kick backs who go back to the minors to develop is frighteningly bad over the years. I struggle to come up with an example of someone who made that work.

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out but I need to make some more scout calls. And I'll be watching for Team USA vs. 5-time defending champion Japan tonight at 6 p.m. in the Women's World Cup. Should be a fun one.

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