Image credit: Bryson Stott (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam)
Warren (New London):
- You touched on this a little in the comment on Bryson Stott, but do you see him starting at Clearwater so that Luis Garcia can play short again at Lakewood? And how does Jonathan Guzman, who played about as much shortstop as Garcia did, factor into this? How optimistic are you about Stott staying at shortstop?
J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Let’s talk about the Phillies. This is a good question to start with, as it is one of the most interesting questions facing the Phils at one of their deepest positions in prospects. It’s hard to see any argument for promoting Garcia to high Class A after that 2019 season. He needs another year in LoA. Stott could logically start the season in LoA (or HiA), but I would expect to see him spend the bulk of the season in HiA–he is too polished to play all year in the Sally League. I do think Guzman did do enough to jump up to HiA, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Guzman and Stott splitting time in the middle infield (both playing regularly, just moving around defensively) in HiA for a good bit of next season while Garcia tries to forget about his 2019 season and remember how it felt to pile up hit after hit in the GCL in 2018.
- Hey JJ- love your chats…but no love for Erik Miller? Seems like a 6-5 lefty with good heat and slider could bwat out a couple guys in your top 10 (Luis Garcia for instance)…or is he more of a back of the bullpen arm?
J.J. Cooper: Miller didn’t miss by much. When lining these up, I do try to balance a wide variety of informational inputs. To take Garcia for instance, I don’t want to forget what he did in the GCL a year ago–that’s a part of his resume as much as his awful numbers in Lakewood were. Three years from now, Garcia’s great GCL season is irrelevant, but it’s still useful, indicative information at this point. OK, now we dive deeper. In talking to scouts, I wasn’t getting feedback that Garcia is clueless at the plate. He seems to have a decent idea of what he wants to do at the plate and he isn’t just swinging at a lot of balls out of the strike zone. He just was massively overmatched by olders, stronger players. So there is some room for hope.
Snapper Bean (Greater Kensington):
- In a draft where they had the #1 overall and the resulting (pre-new CBA) bonus pool, the 2016 Phillies draft (Moniak, Gowdy, Stobbe, Romero, Irvin, etc.) looks to be about as big of a miss as one could possible fear. Convince me I’m wrong.
J.J. Cooper: Well, let’s compare them to their peers. Some drafts are great. Some are awful. I think you summed up the Phillies draft class, so let’s look at who drafted right after them. OK, at No. 2 the Reds took Nick Senzel. They followed that up with Taylor Trammell. Nick Hanson, Chris Okey, Ryan Hendrix and Scott Moss were among other notable draftees. He’s had some injuries, but if you were offering Senzel and offered the Phillies top 5 picks in the 2016 draft right now in return, the Reds would undoubtedly say no. Trammell is more highly regarded now than Moniak as well. Each team had a HS arm who has been hurt a lot (Gowdy for the Phillies and Hanson for the Reds). So massive advantage Reds draft there. On to the Braves who picked third. They took Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz, Kyle Muller, Bryse Wilson and Jeremy Walker. Anderson is one of the better pitching prospects in baseball now. Muller is a power lefty prospect and Wilson is a Top 100 prospect who has pitched in the majors. Walker is a likely up-and-down reliever and Wentz still has a shot. You’d definitely take the Braves draft over the Phillies draft. OK, on to pick No. 4. The Rockies took Riley Pint with the fourth pick, and you’d much rather have Moniak than Pint now, so that’s a win for the Phillies. Robert Tyler (the Rockies’ second pick) is a college pitcher who has yet to make it out of hiA as a reliever, so again, advantage Phillies–I’d rather have Romero. Bowden does have a solid shot at being an MLB reliever, and J.D. Hammer has already made it to the majors as a pen arm (after being traded to the Phillies coincidentally). This seems to be shaping up as a win for the Phillies, but Garret Hampson (3rd round) is an MLB middle infielder and Colton Welker (4th round) is a still promising corner infield bat. This one is much closer, but I’d still take the Rockies draft over the Phillies. I’d also definitely take the A’s draft at No. 6 (A.J. Puk, Sean Murphy) and I’d take the Padres draft (they picked 8th) because of Joey Luchessi, Eric Lauer, Hudson Potts, Cal Quantrill, Mason Thompson and Reggie Lawson). I’d probably also take the Detroit Tigers’s draft at nine overall (Matt Manning). So I’d probably take 6 of the other 9 drafts of teams picking in the top 10. The Dodgers (Gavin Lux and Will Smith), Cardinals (Dylan Carlson and Dakota Hudson) and Astros (Forrest Whitley, Jake Rogers, Abraham Toro) all did better as well. So no, I can’t convince you you are wrong.
- Johan Rojas….. legit or all hype?
J.J. Cooper: There are definitely reasons to be very encouraged. He’s very athletic, he’s good in the outfield and here is some solid power potential in his bat. Long ways away from Philly, but he’ll easily crack the Top 30.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- Is Moniak a situation where the Phillies drafted him based on unrealistic projection or have his tools regressed? Or was it a case where Philadelphia knew they could sign him significantly below slot?
J.J. Cooper: Moniak signed for the second largest amount in that draft class, $100,000 less than Nick Senzel and $1.3 million more than the third largest bonus in the class (Riley Pint). This was not a bargain sign. The Phillies had the No. 1 pick in a year where there was no clear, obvious No. 1 pick. Senzel was the best combination of tools and track record, but the Phillies went with the hopes that Moniak could provide higher upside. That gamble has not paid off so far.
- Aside from Boehm, Howard, and questionably Garcia who have high trade value, how would you rate the trade return level of the other top Phillies prospects?
J.J. Cooper: Bohm, Howard and Stott have very solid trade value. After that, Garcia is the kind of guy a team who liked in the GCL would try to buy low, but no one is paying full value on a player who didn’t hit in a full season in low Class A. Once you get past the top five, most of the remainder of the Phillies prospects are the kind of prospects who are the second or in some cases third player in a deal. Now I will offer some encouragement. There are an awful lot of good MLB players traded for mid-range prospects, especially at the trade deadline. J.D. Martinez was swapped from the Tigers to the D-Backs for a trio of prospects who all are in that similar range to the Phillies 6-15 prospects for example. The Phillies can still make significant trades. Spencer Howard or Bohm would give them a legit cornerstone prospect to build a deal around (if it was the right deal) and Morales gives them an interesting young arm as a quality second piece. Not saying they will make any trades like that this offseason, but they are not bereft of prospects with legit trade value.
Trevor (Scottsdale, AZ):
- Shouldn’t the Phillies have traded Dylan Cozens to an American League team before last season? He would make a good DH and it’s better than losing him for free.
J.J. Cooper: I think you are overrating Cozens’ value. Even if you excuse his striking out more than 50 percent of the time in his limited MLB time, Cozens didn’t exactly set the world on fire in significant exposure to Triple-A pitchers too. He has big-time power, but he will have to make signficant adjustments to get that power to play in the majors, and teams don’t generally hand DH jobs to rookies. The best way to explain his limited value is this–he was designated for assignment by the Phillies (admittedly while he recovered from foot surgery) and he was unclaimed by everyone. Cozens has a shot to turn it around with the Rays and I do think it was an astute move for TB to sign him to a two-year MiLB deal, but they wanted him on a deal that doesn’t require carrying him on the 40-man roster.
- Marcus Lee Sang, Logan Simmons, & Logan O’Hoppe legitimate reasons to be excited
J.J. Cooper: They all will make the Top 30 and all have some intriguing tools. All three are also quite far away. I will leave it to you to determine how to calibrate your excitement level based on that.
Warren (New London):
- Was Kendall Simmons close to the top 10? His 58 total bases in 60 at bats between July 27 and August 18 certainly got my attention, though he had some cold streaks too. What position do you see him playing?
J.J. Cooper: More of an 11-20 prospect in my mind right now. I’d say defensively you’re hoping he can improve at second or third. He’s not average there yet, but he’s also got two to three years of hard work to get to close to average defensively, and the hope is the bat will let the Phillies live with some detrimental defense.
Tyler S (Framingham, MA):
- Is there enough confidence in Alec Bohm at 3B for the Phillies not to be aggressive in free agency this winter for guys who are more than just a stop-gap like a Donaldson and Rendon? Besides his hit/power tool it seems Bohm leaves a lot to be desired on the field and bases, how safe is it to call him the starting 3B on the next 5+ as years as the Phillies look to contend?
J.J. Cooper: I would not be confident that Bohm can play third base for five years. I struggle to find scouts for other organizations who view Bohm as a long-term third baseman. They believe he ends up at first base (or maybe in the outfield).
- Who in the organization is a possible breakout candidate?
J.J. Cooper: Kendall Simmons, who we just mentioned, is a good candidate for this. The hit tool isn’t as advanced as the power, but if he makes some improvements he could break out in full season ball.
- How close were 2 LH’s, Erik Miller & Damon Jones, from making list?
J.J. Cooper: I’d be stunned if you don’t see them in the 11-15 range when our full Top 30 rolls out in the Prospect Handbook.
- What would a package look like going back to the Tigers if they sent Matt Boyd to Philly?
J.J. Cooper: Speculating on the exact terms of a package for a deal that may or may not even be considered is hard, but the way I would put it is the Phillies have the pieces to make this deal if they want. It would just ensure that the farm system, which is already lacking in close-to-majors players who project as regulars, would take another big hit. They aren’t playing for 2024, they are playing for 2020-2021-2022, so they need to be thinking of moves like these.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Of the pitchers moving from short season teams to Lakewood, who are your favorites?
J.J. Cooper: Andrew Schultz and Brett Schulze are a pair of names to watch (yes, Schultz did get to Lakewood very late last year, but I woudn’t be surprised to see him back there to start 2020).
J.J. Cooper: Sorry I need to leave some questions in the queue as we are sending the Baseball America Almanac to press this week. Thanks everyone for coming out.