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J.J. Cooper Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet Chat (4/16/19)

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Grayson Rodriguez (Photo by Cliff Welch)

Matt (Va): 

    How much longer before we see Luis Robert promoted out of the Carolina League and Grayson Rodriguez promoted into it?


J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out. I think we will see Robert jump to Double-A far earlier than we will see Rodriguez in high Class A. Robert came into the year with HiA experience. A hot start (and most importantly good health) should have him jumping to Double-A before too long. In Rodriguez's case, he's in low Class A to start his first post-draft year. That's right on schedule and is actually ahead of several other first-round prep pitchers from his class. Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal were part of the Astros organization when Forrest Whitley jumped from loA to hiA to AA in his first full pro season, but that is way faster than almost any other HS pitcher has been moved in recent years. If Rodriguez was in loA all season, he'd be right on schedule.

Kuan (CA): 

    Compare two players: First baseman, Height 6'3'', K%~20% and BB%~10%. Is Will Craig's growth curve is similar with Pete Alonso last year?


J.J. Cooper: Not to me. I think Alonso has significantly more power potential than Craig. Alonso posted isolated power numbers above .200 throughout his pro career. Craig's career high iso is .200, which he set last year. Alonso's raw power is top of the scale. Craig's raw power is above-average or plus at best.

Mike G (Pittsburgh): 

    Is Julio Rodriguez due for some helium?


J.J. Cooper: He's too good for Helium, which we try to set aside for lesser-noticed, lower-ranked prospects. Rodriguez is knocking on the door of the Top 100.

Ryan (Louisville, Kentucky): 

    I understand the hot sheet is a very tough list to make, but was Anderson Tejeda at least considered for the list?


J.J. Cooper: Absolutely considered. He's back in high Class A to work on his switch-hitting. A That's very exciting for his development because while Tejeda crushed righthanders last year (.292/.370/.507), he was completely non-competitive against lefties (.172/.225/.258). So far in the very early going, the signs are pretty promising that he's better against lefties as a switch-hitter than he was as a lefty-only bat. He has a great arm, he continues to get better and better defensively and he's got power. It's a good combo to have.

Brian (Denver): 

    Has Buddy Reed figured things out and what is a reasonable floor for him going forward?


J.J. Cooper: I think you can expect that he'll remain streaky. When he's on, it's great, and when he's cold, he's ice cold. But his defensive and athleticism does ensure that even when he's in one of his cold spells at the plate he's still contributing in other ways. I think his floor is as a useful AAA outfielder because of his continued hit-tool questions. But I think there's still a pretty solid path to being a fourth outfielder if he keeps getting better at the plate and with his power and speed, a ceiling as a Drew Stubbs type center fielder is still within the range of possibilities. Stubbs was a .240 hitter for his career, but he had several productive seasons as a regular thanks to his defense and power.

G4 (Milwaukee): 

    My dynasty team digs this hot sheet. Do the Phillies view Enyel as a replacement starter later this season or is he more likely to be brought up as a reliever?


J.J. Cooper: A lot of that depends on what the Phillies end up needing, because De Los Santos is one of the club's best backup options either in the bullpen or the rotation. He is on the 40-man roster, has MLB experience and is stretched out and capable of handling a starter's workload. The Phillies have no reason not to let him continue to work in Lehigh Valley's rotation. If they need a starter, he's capable of filling in. And he can move to the bullpen on a moment's notice if the Phillies have a bigger need in the pen. If De Los Santos can continue to improve his breaking ball, he's got a better shot of sticking in the rotation if the need arises, but for now, he still looks like a better fit in the bullpen long term.

Jon (Boston): 

    Vidal Brujan: he can hit, he can run. is Jose Altuve a fair comp? do we see him in MLB by the end of 2020?


J.J. Cooper: I love Brujan as a prospect, but Altuve isn't a fair comp at all–that's saying he's going to be one of the absolute best players in the game. What I'm encouraged by is the Rays are starting to let Brujan play some shortstop in addition to 2B. I've talked to scouts who say they believe Brujan has the tools to handle SS and he also has the tools to be an excellent CF as well. If you're talking about a .300 or better hitter who can play all three middle infield positions and has dynamic speed, that puts you in a pretty rare group. But it doesn't make you as good as Jose Altuve.

Jeff (CA): 

    Did Gavin Lux get any consideration for the hot sheet?


J.J. Cooper: Yes. At one point I had him on the back of the list before dropping him off. Great start so far. Trying to figure out how the Dodgers' player development machine is going to fit everyone onto its big league roster is nearly impossible. Between Justin Turner, Kike Hernandez, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and Corey Seager, the Dodgers seem to have 2B-SS-3B pretty well sewn up for a while, but Lux is going to give them another high-ceiling, low-cost option in the not-too-distant future.

Jack Crow (Oregon Coast): 

    Is Derek Hill's stat line a sign of real skill improvement or an early season fluke?


J.J. Cooper: While I hope it is, because Hill doesn't need to hit a ton to be a valuable player thanks to his defense, I have to be a little skeptical still at this point. Hill has had a ton of injuries he's fought through and we have seen examples of players turning themselves into different hitters. So there are reasons not to write it just off as a fluke. That said, Hill has never hit for any power before. His two home runs this year is already 18 percent of his career total and is only two away from his previous single-season high. So far this year he's slugging like a middle-of-the-order hitter whereas in the past he's been a speed and slap-singles hitter. There's a strong reason to think there will be some regression in the future.

KY (IL): 

    Jordan Groshans have a great start of season. Is he knocking on the Top 100 door this year?


J.J. Cooper: He knocked on the door. Found it was open. Welcomed himself inside and found a comfy spot in the living room. (Groshans is already on the Top 100). And I don't think he'll be leaving it anytime soon.

Drew (Grove, Oklahoma): 

    Seuly Matias has destroyed some baseballs the last few days. Strikeouts are obviously the issue, do you think he can overcome his swing and miss issues and be an impact player in the majors?


J.J. Cooper: I remain skeptical, just because I am a believer in looking at history to inform the future. Strikeout rates are climbing and as such the level at which strikeouts are a flashing/blaring siren have gone up from what they used to be. Brett Jackson's strikeout rates were a bridge too far a decade ago. Five years later, Javier Baez's similar strikeout rates were not enough to ruin his chances. That said, I struggle to come up with players who strikeout as much as Matias has in Class A who have gone on to have MLB success. Matias has EASY power--last night's home run to right field was eye-opening because he just reached out and poked it over the wall. He has the bat speed, but he'll need to shorten his swing a little to improve the contact rate.

Roger (Oklahoma City): 

    Hey JJ! Alex Faedo has given two really good starts. What have you heard about his velo? Has it returned and what do you think the rest of the year will look like?


J.J. Cooper: I have heard 92-94 this year, which is very encouraging as too often last year his velo dipped into the high 80s. Now he has to show he can maintain that over a full season.

VandyGuy (MD): 

    Overlooking your omission of Rhett Wiseman, is he reclaiming some prospect status? 2 more HR yesterday for a total of 8. Seems to be settling into a TTO guy who isn’t chasing spin anymore. Could he still carve out a big league role (or could he on any team that isn’t the Nats)?


J.J. Cooper: You are right to suggest that Wiseman is going to have a hard time cracking the Nats outfield. He's having a great start. It's not fair to say he can't keep this up, because if he did Joe Baumann's MiLB HR record would soon fall. Wiseman is old for the level, but his power does play which gives him a shot for a future MLB role.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    Puzzled by the omission of Gore. Didn't he impress enough (in the CAL no less) to warrant a mention?


J.J. Cooper: Very impressive. Could have easily made the list, although pitching at Lake Elsinore and Inland Empire aren't as crazy offensive environments as pitching at Lancaster.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone for coming out.

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Baseball America Prospect Report -- August 22, 2019

A's prospect Sean Murphy sheds his knee injury, A.J. Puk makes his MLB debut and Jay Groome returns to a mound.

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