Justin Coleman Top MLB Prospects Chat (9/4/19)

Image credit: Dylan Carlson (Photo by John Williamson)

Justin Coleman: Hey everyone, let’s get chatting!

Andrew (Alberta): 

    When can we expect Jays SWR to be entrenched in the top 100? The kid has very good numbers in hi A as an 18 year old.

Justin Coleman: He is trending in a positive direction, no question. I think right now is a bit early to be a top 100 guy, but some time in the middle of next year might be realistic. A lot to like there!

SteveB (Philly): 

    Hey there. As always THANK YOU for these chats. Not sure if it’s awesome or pathetic how much I look forward to them:-) A little off the beaten path but can you give any info on Kendall (formerly Logan) Simmons? He was an overslot 6th rounder from last year that seemed to have a strong year. Thanks!

Justin Coleman: Steve, thank you for your interest and the question! Glad to hear you look forward to the chats. Regarding Simmons, he is interesting. Super athletic, strong, some power there for sure.. might be able to move around and play a corner spot down the road or even stick on the infield at 2B/3B.

Nick (Ohio): 

    Seems like every year there is a new great international player like Soto, Acuna, Torres, Vlad and Franco. Is Julio Rodriguez the next great international phenom or do you have another player in mind that could emerge?

Justin Coleman: If you are asking for the next international star in the big leagues, I’d take Luis Robert. After that, Wander Franco and Julio Rodriguez are good choices (since they are both still some time away from the bigs). If you mean simply in terms of next big international prospect that generates buzz, I’d look to Marco Luciano (SFG) or Francisco Alvarez (NYM).

DC (AR): 

    Griffin Conine has the power stroke working. Can he keep the K’s in check enough for it to work on his way up the ladder?

Justin Coleman: The K’s are concerning, and he would have to hit for serious power to get by with striking out that much. Like all players, he will have to make adjustments regarding his approach at some point or another.

Dave (Kcmo): 

    Hi Justin, how improved do you see kc’s system,especially with 3 picks in top 40 next year.thanks for great work!

Justin Coleman: I think their system has improved, sure. Plenty of talent at the lower levels, piling up a number of quality arms. Should be interesting to see what it looks like after more draft-talent gets infused into the system.

hottub (DMV): 

    Michael Baumann has been sitting mid-90s, t98 late in outings with a plus slider/cutter and a developing curve/change. I know the arm action is sub-optimal and there is some relief risk, but how close is he to top 100 status?

Justin Coleman: He has really big stuff, I’ve had good reports on him recently. There is reliever risk, so I don’t think he is a top 100 guy any time soon. Regardless, an arm to keep an eye on in that system.

Justin (Daytona Beach): 

    Thoughts on Reds’ prospect Jose Garcia? Had a marvelous season offensively and defensively in Daytona. Potential under-the-radar breakout/high-riser in 2020?

Justin Coleman: I like him. A bit more patient at the plate this year with more contact. Always had a good reputation on defense, now the bat is starting to come around a bit. I’d want to see more track record with the bat but it’s been a positive. I think he will rise some in the Reds’ system, sure.

James (Houston): 

    Nathan Perry had a tremendous season in the NYPL, is he a legitimate prospect?

Justin Coleman: I think he is interesting, mixed reviews at the moment. His defense has improved a lot this season and he is adjusting with the bat.

DC (AR): 

    How’s the future of Mickey Moniak looking? There were some really glowing scouting reports not too long ago when he went 1.1. Then the excitement seemed to fizzle out pretty quick.

Justin Coleman: Moniak has shown a better feel to hit this season, but probably profiles more so in a corner. Question then becomes does the power fit in a corner? I don’t think thats the case at the moment. Looks more like a low impact or backup type of player. Evaluators are split on whether he can handle CF or not.

O’neil Cruz (Trending Up?): 

    After a breakout 2018 season in LoA scouts were excited to see what I could do in HiA. When healthy my offense took another tick up and more than held my own after being promoted to AA. What are scouts thoughts on my after my 2019? Are they becoming more convinced that I can potentially be an above average hitter with plus to plus/plus power and have a great shot at staying at SS? Am I an arrow up guy heading into 2020?

Justin Coleman: He has the tools to be an impact guy with the bat, still a lot of work needs to be done. Doesn’t make adjustments and doesn’t make enough contact at the moment. When he does make contact, he shows the ability to drive the baseball. On defense, it’s possible he gets moved to the OF. Tools are there but it might not work for an everyday infielder. Still, the ceiling could be that of an above-average big leaguer at some point.

Drew (Seattle): 

    What kind of offensive upside do you think Evan White has? 30 HR?

Justin Coleman: I don’t think 30 HRs is the outlook right now, but it could be in the 15-20 range. Then again, with the home run rate in MLB, I guess it’s possible. White has a good feel to hit and is a gifted defender at 1B.

Elliot (Youngstown OH): 

    The Indians have had great success developing control artist starters [Bieber most prominently along with Plesac and Civale]. 5th rounder Hunter Gaddis posted first year stats that make me wonder if he could develop as quickly and as successfuly; 33 innings, 7 walks, 53 strikeouts, 24 hits.

Justin Coleman: I like Gaddis. He is up to 95, flashes the good secondary stuff at times. Lots of strikes but more on the max effort side. Delivery is a bit wild as well.

Sam Darnold (California): 

    What can you tell me about Tony Gonsolin on the Dodgers? Do you think he can still as a starter long term?

Justin Coleman: He has good stuff, up to 96, knows how to spin the ball and attacks hitters. Biggest question is if the body can hold up for the amount of innings to work in a rotation. I think he gets some cracks at the big league rotation, could always be useful out of the bullpen anyway.

DC (AR): 

    Kinda a strange deal with Luiz Gohara. Any word on him catching on with another org?

Justin Coleman: Yeah, just saw he signed with the Angels on a minor league deal. Low risk type of deal for a guy who has shown stuff in the past.

bryan (Compliance): 

    Between Hilliad, Dhal, Blackmon, Desmond, and Tapia who do you think Colorado goes with in their OF next year? Is Hilliard good enough to make Colorado think about trading Blackmon and or Dhal?

Justin Coleman: Blackmon is under contract, so he stays. I’ve always been a fan of Dahl, but the injuries have been tough on him. Hilliard is a guy to watch– great defender, excellent in the clubhouse and has power, strikeouts are still the biggest issue with him. It’s a nice group of options to form an OF with.

Alex (LA): 

    Hi Justin, thanks for chatting with us. The Dodgers got quite a haul from the Reds with Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs. Both have improved their stock in 2019. After Downs’ 24 HR/24 SB season across HiA and AA, have his offensive tools ticked up? Do you think he’s now his hit/power/speed are all 55s all while possibly being able to stay at SS? The Dodgers do a great job developing young toolsy players (e.g. Gavin Lux). Do you see Downs potentially really breaking out into an elite middle infield prospect in 2020?

Justin Coleman: You are welcome, thanks for sending in the question! Downs has taken steps forward, still a bat-over-defense type of player though. He has a good arm and the hands to play on the infield, but he might be best suited to move around a bit.

Elliot (Youngstown OH): 

    The Indians challenged a batch of their teenagers in 2019. Statistically the results for Bo Naylor, George Valera and Brayan Rocchio were not stellar but I was impressed with their results against older competition. Was BA?

Justin Coleman: All three had solid seasons. Saw Valera and Rocchio in person, liked them both. Rocchio looks like an everyday SS, Valera a corner guy who has some power.

max (Wash DC): 

    Victor Victor Mesa – disappointment or normal first season adjustment – ceiling still high?

Justin Coleman: Still some ceiling but he was disappointing this season. He can play a quality CF, just chased quite often and didn’t show much in-game pop. Let’s see if he can adjust as he gets more experience.

James (Havertown PA): 

    Spencer Howard is getting a ton of buzz, but I can’t tell if it’s because people are excited that the Phils might have a real-life pitching prospect OR if because he projects as a possible ace (in any org.)

Justin Coleman: He has more mid-rotation type of upside, a very good pitching prospect. Certainly deserves the buzz he is receiving.

Alex Kirilloff (AA): 

    After a magical 2018, I came into 2019 with an abundance of hype. However, wrist issues slowed me down. Even though the power numbers didn’t match 2018 (see wrist injury), do scouts still see me as a plus-plus bat with above average-plus power potential? Do you think a healthy 2020 will lead me to making my big league debut?

Justin Coleman: A clean bill of health and more reps in the upper minors are needed before we talk about any debut. Regardless, still think the power and swing will be fine.

Chris (Quincy, IL): 

    What callups or current minor league pitchers do you think have the best shot of being an opening day starter? It seems like Pearson might be the highest upside dude with that chance unless Whitley kills it in the AFL.

Justin Coleman: Probably Pearson or Mize at this point.

Bill (Chicago): 

    How close was Brennan Davis to making the updated Top 100?

Justin Coleman: Had a nice season but not close.

Jerry (Bellingham): 

    Thanks for releasing the list. I had a question about two players, and how they are ranked relative to each other. I was wondering what the rationale is for ranking Royce Lewis above Jarred Kelenic. Although Lewis was drafted a year earlier, and has an extra year of pro experience, both guys are the same age. Both have plus tools, were top prep draft picks, and project to play up the middle. However, the performance is drastically different. Kelenic dominated in A ball, A+, and has done well in AA. His peripherals at AA suggest he was even better than his .253/.315/.542 Lewis has been terrible this year, struggling in A+, getting an odd promotion to AA, and struggling there as well. He’s hit .236/.290/.371. I realize that Lewis is young for the levels he played at, and that he plays a more premium position. I also realize that he has great tools. But Kelenic also has excellent tools, and was also playing against much older competition. My question: are those considerations enough to outweigh the huge gap in performance?

Justin Coleman: Thanks for the question, Jerry. In our full top 100 rework, where we work it out from scratch, I believe Kelenic will be ahead of Lewis (as you made valid points). Gotta stay tuned for that one! With regards to questions of stats, age, performance etc… they all factor in. Stats need context, as does fit at position, tool grades, experience etc. That is part of the fun!

Warren (New London): 

    Alex Jackson and Nick Pratto were premium high school hitters who had underwhelming Arizona League debuts. At least in hindsight, it looks like that was trying to tell us something. How worried should one be about Bobby Witt Jr. after dozens of guys outhit him there, many of whom are as young or younger?

Justin Coleman: I see what you are hinting at, but I don’t think it’s fair to place Bobby Witt Jr. in that bucket. Plenty of time to adjust and grow etc. No need to worry at this time.

Ms Fan (Seattle): 

    After the year that Julio Rodriguez had I actually think his final ranking is low. Do you see him as a likely top 10 prospect in all of baseball come next summer? How does he compare another recent masher like Eloy?

Justin Coleman: Big fan of his, he can hit. Still a good bit away, not sure he is in the top 10 next summer. Might be somewhere close to it if everything goes well.

max (Wash DC): 

    Cole Tucker just came up for the Pirates – he looked promising, but has Newman’s progress reduced his likely 2020 opportunity?

Justin Coleman: I still think Cole Tucker will get some opportunities somehow, even with what Newman has done this season. I think from an org stand point, you may as well see what each guy can do in the big leagues.

Brian (Washington, DC): 

    What type of ceiling are scouts putting on Josiah Gray? The results are obviously fantastic, but should the lack of a third pitch be major concern for anything other than a back-end starter or bullpen piece?

Justin Coleman: He is competitive and works with a FB-SL combo, has a CH but its pretty firm. As you mentioned, lack of a third pitch could push him to the bullpen long term.

DC (AR): 

    Do teams ever require their players to attend a workout of some type over the off-season? I know guys are from all over the world, but with online stuff available now seems like they could be required to log in and do a workout. I’m just trying to fix the showing up to spring training out of shape deal.

Justin Coleman: All players work out in the offseason, like any pro athlete would. Its the responsibility of each player etc.

Luke (VA): 

    Adam Stauffer, late round HS pick for the O’s in 2017, after struggling in the GCL for 2 years, came out and pitched 44 innings of .96 ERA ball with 60k between A-/A as a 20 year old. The stuff is solid, 90-94 with an average curveball and he has a uniquely high release point as a 6’7″ guy with a high 3/4 slot that helps everything play up. Is he on the team top 30 radar?

Justin Coleman: He has put up some numbers this season, although his control hasn’t been good. Far away but interesting for sure. Don’t know if he hits the top 30 just yet.

Matt (Va): 

    A year from now can Jeremiah Jackson be a major riser along the same lines as Gavin Lux?

Justin Coleman: Had a good year, still very young. Not sure he rises as quickly as Lux did at this point, though.

Mark (Boston): 

    When you say “so and so” projects for a certain amount of homers, is that with the current balls, or historical balls?

Justin Coleman: This is interesting. I think we try to keep historical context into focus (looking at the past few years, not just one year of context). If we project out a player to hit X home runs and its light, its probably because we were being conservative about the number (especially now with the crazy HR spike in the big leagues etc.)

Justin Coleman: That is all for today everyone. As always, thanks for sending in the questions. Take care, till next time! -JC

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