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J.J. Cooper MLB Prospects Chat (5/14/19)

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Mitchell White (Photo by John Williamson)

Rob (Seattle): 

    How far off from top 100 is Xavier Edwards at this point?


J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out. We have discussed whether Edwards fits into the Top 100 yet or not, and the general consensus at least for now is on the outside looking in, but not all that far off. Edwards is a middle infielder with speed/defensive value and an exceptional bat-to-ball ability. But in a game where everyone drives the ball, Edwards' hope for extra bases right now if to hit a ball by an outfielder in the gaps. We need to keep getting feedback from scouts on how well that approach will play as he moves up the ladder and also how much future power potential he is likely to grow into.

Rob (Seattle): 

    Has Urias’ profile changed at all? If he’s selling out for more power, could he be more of a 55 hit 50 power and would that even be a good thing for him?


J.J. Cooper: I'm going to stick with no for now. El Paso's schedule so far has included trips to Reno, Las Vegas and Albuquerque in addition to a very favorable home park for hitters. Right now 15 of El Paso's 37 games has seen a team score 10 or more runs. It's a very overheated offensive environment and San Diego, we know, is not. If he keeps this up for a few more months, I'd more inclined to buy a change in approach, but right now playing in El Paso has been a place for everyone to hit home runs. The entire El Paso team is currently posting a .303/.373/.563 slash line.

Alan (Nashville): 

    In Ben's chat last week, he mentioned that he thought Rutschman would be "a top 10-15 prospect in baseball the moment he signs". Would you agree with this statement? Also where would the other 3 draft prospects (Vaughn, Witt Jr., and Abrams) of the top 4 slot in for you?


J.J. Cooper: I would disagree slightly with Ben's statement, I think Rutschman immediately is a top 10 prospect and may crack the Top 5. He's one of the best draft prospects we've seen in yeasrs. I'd say Witt ranks next best, but it's going to be a significant dropoff from Rutschman. Rutschman is a premium defender with a lengthy college track record of hitting. The risk profile on that is significantly lower than Witt, who is an excellent HS shortstop prospect, but that profile requires a little more proof in pro ball before he can rank comparably. Vaughn will be interesting, He's a very premium bat, but as a first baseman, it's harder for him to crack a Top 25 on a Top 100 prospects list until you have seen him do the same in pro ball with a wood bat.

Rob (Baltimore): 

    How excited should we be about the prospects of Adley Rutschman coming to Baltimore? I recently read a report that talked down his bat, citing low .300s OBPs in his future. Do you think that’s a realistic projection, or is his bat better?


J.J. Cooper: Rutschman ranks first in Division I in OBP (.582), first in Division I in walks and first in Division I in walks per game. He's currently fourth in Division I in batting average. He is currently walking almost twice as often as he strikes out (64 walks, 34 strikeouts). He also ranked seventh in NCAA D-I last year with a .505 OBP. He's a switch hitter with swings that scouts like from both batter's boxes. There are few doubts about his power, but that's a bigger question than his ability to hit for average and get on base. I would expect him to be a solid average OBP guy at worst.

Dan (Lansing): 

    Has Dylan Carlson been in the conversation for the top 100? He’s been young for each assignment and has the chance for average or better tools across the board. What’s his upside look like?


J.J. Cooper: Yes. He's not far off of it. I think your description is pretty fair as he's more notable for how he does everything well rather than doing any one thing spectacularly. He's a well-rounded prospect with plate discipline being his best skill. Him being a Cardinals prospect also helps his long-term potential as the biggest remaining question is whether he can stick in center field. The Cardinals have shown a consistent ability to help guys get better defensively which helps them remain at more valuable defensive positions--see Paul DeJong and Jon Jay for examples.

Schimmer (LA): 

    If you could go back in time, would Seth Beer be a top 5 pick in the 2018 draft?


J.J. Cooper: No. I don't know if he's go all that much higher than he was picked if the draft was redone today. He's doing quite well in a return to high Class A, but his defensive limitations mean that he's largely an AL only DH/1B, which limits how high he would be drafted.

Chris (Houston): 

    Yordan Alvarez is tearing up PCL pitching to a similar tune that Juan Soto tore up A,A+,AA last year. Do you think he is as good a player and prospect as Soto and will have a similar big league impact?


J.J. Cooper: No. Take a deep breath for a moment. Alvarez is tearing up the PCL, which is a league where the average team is scoring 5.58 runs per game. He's a very good hitting prospect, but Soto posted a .292/.406/.517 slash line in the majors as a 19-year-old. He's 16 months younger than Alvarez and he posted those numbers a year ago. Also Soto has more defensive value. I am a big believer in Alvarez as a prospect, but Soto is a special player.

James D (Philly): 

    I've read Corbin Carroll compared to Ellesbury and Benintendi, but is the low end outcome something like Brett Gardner? What percentage odds do you put of him staying in centerfield?


J.J. Cooper: The low-end outcome is he's not a big leaguer. There are first rounders ever year who do not make it. We have heard comparisons to Mickey Moniak, so that's probably a more reasonable less-than-ideal result. I think he's one of the better center fielders in this year's draft class and he should be able to stay there.

Elliot (Youngstown OH): 

    I know relievers cannot be considered for the Hot sheet so despite striking out something like 2/3 of the opposing hitters, and posting a WHIP of less than 0.5 James Karinchak has never been certified Hot. And he wasn't even on the Indians "depth chart" in the Prospect Guide. So does BA think he will be a quality major league reliever?


J.J. Cooper: Yes. Josh Norris just wrote about him last week. Check it out here: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/austin-riley-makes-subtle-swing-change-to-beat-premium-velocity/

BlueJayMatt (Toronto): 

    How have Nate Pearson's secondary pitches looked so far? Is he mostly just blowing guys away with the fastball or is there a plus secondary there as well?


J.J. Cooper: Multiple plus secondaries. I expect him to move up again in our next Top 100 update.

Big Mike (Maryland): 

    Jarren Duran for real?


J.J. Cooper: Signs point to yes. Kyle Glaser is actually seeing and hopefully talking to him tonight for a piece that will be up at Baseball America in the near future.

Jason (Chicago): 

    I've been seeing a lot of hype for Pete Crow-Armstrong on twitter. I know everyone is still focusing on this years draft, but what have you heard about him for next year and how would he compare with this years top 4? Any ballpark grades on his tools?


J.J. Cooper: If I'm promoting hashtags for next year it would be #ontheclockforHancock or #Go0-1ForTorkelson (not much rhymes with Torkelson). Armstrong is one of the better prospects in next year's class, but my way too early predictions are that a healthy Hancock or Spencer Torkelson will be the No. 1 pick for the 2020 draft. PCA is a very good prospect in a very good SoCal draft class for 2020. For more on him, Kyle Glaser wrote this recently: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/jared-jones-pete-crow-armstrong-expect-to-return-socal-to-draft-glory/

Elliot (Youngstown OH): 

    Tyler Freeman seems to lost the ability to strike out while walking as much this spring as he did in his first two years together. I can see him moving to the top of the Indians prospect list, what do you think?


J.J. Cooper: I think you're going to want to check out our soon to post Top 100 update to reflect Yusei Kikuchi's graduation....

Draft Dodger (Portland): 

    When a draft approaches how often or likely is it that a team misses out on a player simply because they haven't gone to see them? What I mean is draft rumors always go something like "Team X has been bearing down on player Y." How do they choose which players to "bear down" on? Do they already have a preference set beforehand or geographical region they're focusing on? Shouldn't they presumably be bearing down on everyone in their range?


J.J. Cooper: Interesting question. Every team will have "seen" every top 200 prospect (and far beyond that). But there is a difference between having a scout see a player and having multiple decision makers see a player, which is what teams are looking for before they select and sign a first round pick Few teams are going to draft a first round prospect without having looks on him by the team's scouting director, a couple of crosscheckers and maybe the GM (or assistant GM). I've heard examples of teams having 10+ scouts evaluate a first-round pick. Now there are only so many weekends in the spring, so teams have to prioritize. There are roughly 22 college starting pitchers among our Top 100 Draft Prospects. It's nearly impossible for any scouting director to have seen all 22 of them because most of them throw on Friday night and there are only 16 Friday nights from the beginning of the college season to draft day. And that's just the college pitchers. You also to have evaluate college hitters (who ideally you want to see on Friday-Saturdays against their best competition) and high school players and JUCOs. So if I talk to a scouting director who is picking 25 or 30 or 35 in this year's draft, they aren't going to bear down on scouting Adley Rutschman, Bobby Witt Jr., JJ Bleday or C.J. Abrams (and a few others) because they are comfortable that they won't be there. Now if something really weird happens and one of those guys slips to their pick, they may not have really gotten a full evaluation (although that is very unlikely to happen). A team like the D-Backs will likely to have to sacrifice the quantity of good looks at players for wider coverage because they both have a ton of picks and because their financial advantage means they will have more options to choose from.

Elliot (Youngstown OH): 

    How about Tyler Freeman for the top 100? He seems to have great bat to ball skills and may not hit a ton of homers but certainly has plenty of extra base hit power.


J.J. Cooper: See previous comment...and stay tuned....

J.J. Cooper: Sorry I have to run everyone but we have a TON of draft content coming that I need to help work on. Thanks for coming out.

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Baseball America Prospect Report -- May 22, 2019

Matt Manning leads the Eastern League in strikeouts, Brady Singer remains consistent, Will Smith's power spikes and more.

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