Prospect Hot Sheet Chat

Dale (Hilton Head): Any chance Albies gets to the show this year? How does he compare to Crawford, Turner, and Arcia....all of who seem pretty similar.
J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone, thanks for coming out. Glad to be chatting with all of y’all. Yes. I think it is highly possible/borderline probable that Albies could reach the big leagues in 2016. The Braves are confident that Albies makeup can handle and even responds to significant challenges. You hit on the right guys to compare him to as Turner and Arcia are more hit over power SSs. I do think all of those shortstops will have more home run power than Albies but Albies has some of the best bat-to-ball skills of that group.

Robert (Chicago): How does Blair compare to Atlanta's other to pitching prospects?
J.J. Cooper: If you are putting together a list of the highest ceiling Braves’ pitching prospects, I wouldn’t rank Blair in the top 6 or 7. But if you asked for a list of the safest bet to be a productive big leaguer among the Braves pitching prospects I’d put Blair No. 1. He’s a nearly ready mid-rotation starter with solid stuff.

Stacy (Paris, FR): Interesting that Mazara was called up before Gallo, and so far Mazara has hit well. Is there a spot for Gallo and his monster power (and Ks) in the lineup in 2016?
J.J. Cooper: Right now? No. That’s OK as it makes sense to let Gallo consolidate the significant plate discipline gains he’s showing in the early going. Remember that last year Gallo showed an improved approach in Double-A before he was promoted to the big leagues. Gallo has a history of doing better in a second shot at a level and that is apparent again so far this year. But if the Rangers want to get the power with a few less Ks it makes sense to give him a little further development time. Mazara has a much more advanced hit tool so it makes sense that he’s more ready for the big leagues.

Jerry (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): It seems like james kaprielian is wholly overshadowed by the big power arm prospects. Is he a #2 type starter or more of a back end rotation guy with slightly advanced stuff. Thanks!
J.J. Cooper: Kaprielian has a power arm now. A pitcher who used to sit 89-91 mph not all that long ago sat low 90s last year and now sits 92-94 mph and he’s touching 97 mph. If he keeps this up through the next few months expect to see him skyrocket up the midseason Top 50 list.

Jim (New York): J.J. Can you see where it could be beneficial that Jason Groome was ruled ineligble for half the high school season. Less innings on his arm less risk for injury before the draft seems like a positive as after his 19k no hitter does he have anything left to prove at the high school level? Do you think he goes first overall and does he have true Ace upside?
J.J. Cooper: We’re talking about what was likely a pretty limited difference in workload–he’s going to miss 2-3 starts max from being declared ineligible. But as you note, it’s not like carving up less-advanced hitters is going to show scouts a lot more from a pitcher who has already shown front-line start on a regular basis. I would expect Groome to carve up the hitters he’s facing, but the way he does it is more important. It’s relatively low effort with plus stuff. At this point with few other candidates stepping up, he has to be considered as safe a bet as any to go No. 1–but there is a long time from now til the draft still.

Formerly the Smasher (Earth): JJ, talk me off the ledge. Please give me some good news about Jays prospects not named Alford. Any helium(ish) guys in there?
J.J. Cooper: Umm, bad news. If you didn’t see, Alford is sidelined with a knee injury. ( ….other Blue Jays prospects with good news……ummmmm…..ummmm….ummmmmm…. Angel Perdomo is giving the Blue Jays further dividends from it’s 2011 international signings group. He’s had a great start. Conner Greene hasn’t been bad in his return to HiA. Beyond that, you are seeing the after effects of trading away a ton of talent last season to make the playoff push.

Jim (New York): J.J. Forrest Wall has gotten off to a hot start this year. Last year he was mentioned as one of the best pure hitters coming out of High School in the draft do you think he could be rated one of the top 10 prospects in baseball by BA by seasons end? Thanks J.J.
J.J. Cooper: It’s a good start, but I haven’t really heard anything that indicates he’s taken a massive step forward from last year. He’s striking out a little more and hitting for a little less power than last year but he’s having better success of reaching when he puts the ball in play. I don’t see Wall ever being a Top 10 prospect in baseball as it’s very, very hard for a second baseman to crack the overall Top 10. Rickie Weeks is the only true 2B to rank in the Top 10 in the history of BA’s Top 100 prospects. Retroactively you could make a case for Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano to have cracked Top 10s when they were coming up as true second basemen, but so many big leaguers who end up at second base played elsewhere even in parts of their pro career (Ben Zobrist, Roberto Alomar, Brandon Phillips and Craig Biggio are some relatively recent examples).

Troy (LA): Any chance Austin Barnes gets moved full time to second? Seems like that would be his best chance to back to LA once Utley/Kendrick are gone, and he could serve as their back-up catcher as well?
J.J. Cooper: I think he keeps his versatility but if he had to focus on one position I think it would be catcher instead of second base. It gives him more value then moving to second full-time. I think it’s more likely that the Dodgers keep sorting through veterans rather than looking from within in the next year or so to take over for Utley/Kendrick.

Tatum (Clearwater, FL): JJ, Rate the following 1,2, 3: Kaprielian, Berrios, and Michael Fulmer. Do any of the three have frontline rotation stuff at the MLB level? Thanks
J.J. Cooper: Berrios, Kaprielian, Fulmer. Berrios is a close-to-big-league ready future No. 3 who could be maybe a little better than that. Kaprlielian is further away but the reports keep getting better and better where maybe he could be a No. 2. I’d say Fulmer’s best scenario is as a future 3.

Ed (Maple Ridge): Hi J.J. Do you think Mookie Betts is a fair comparison for Andrew Benintendi and if not him, who?
J.J. Cooper: Little different. Betts is a more versatile player, a little better athlete although both are athletic. Benintendi has less options as he’s never going to play in the dirt while that was a legit option for Betts. But Benintendi can stick in center field and I really believe in the power even if some scouts I’ve talked to are less confident he’ll have more than average pop. I’m a massive believer in Benintendi’s chances to hit for average and power. That part of his game does seem pretty similar to Betts, doesn’t it?

Chris (Spokane): Giolito or Glasnow? Who will be more fantasy relevant?
J.J. Cooper: Giolito. Like him both but think he’ll have more strikeouts (assuming that matters in your fantasy league) and will have a chance for a slightly better WHIP. They’ll get to the WHIP differently as Giolito will walk fewer batters and allow more hits while Glasnow allows fewer hits and will walk more.

bkobs (Massachusetts): In a 14 team dynasty league where each team can hold 15 minor leaguers, the following prospects are available. Would you recommend picking up any of them? Junior Fernandez, Alec Mills, Cody Ponce, Michael Soroka, Dylan Cease. Any other less known helium guys that you would recommend? Thanks for the help!
J.J. Cooper: The tough thing with all these questions is I need the parameters of the league–sim league? standard 5X5 fantasy league? If you are going for upside I would say Cease, Fernandez, Ponce, Soroka, Mills. If you are going for likelihood of reaching the big leagues and being productive? Soroka, Mills, Ponce, Fernandez, Cease.

Jay (Tampa): Who do you prefer and why: Bradley Zimmer or Lewis Brinson?
J.J. Cooper: Great question as both are very good prospects. I’d take Brinson but it’s not a big difference between the two. I’d argue Brinson has a slightly higher ceiling but Zimmer is a little safer bet to be an everyday big leaguer.

Larry (Long Island, New York): Who out of swansby and albies moves over? And what position does that player move to 2nd or 3rd
J.J. Cooper: I don’t have a great answer for that. Logically it would seem that Albies, the smaller, less conventional looking shortstop, would move to second base with Swanson at shortstop but the more Albies does what he does, the harder it is to see that as logical. I’ve had multiple conversations with Braves’ officials about this very question and I think they really, really don’t know yet. At some point they have to make a decision but either one can handle shortstop so it becomes a decision that’s easier to put off. If I’m mapping it out, Albies will likely be ready to play in the big leagues maybe a little quicker than Swanson (not by much) which may mean the guy who gets there first gets first shot to play shortstop. But really, I think no one knows yet.

robert (clearwater, FL): JJ, I love what Matt Chapman did in Spring training and has done so far this year at Midland. Does he pass Nunez for 3 bag job with the A's? Valencia can hit, but he is not the future. Will either take the MLB job in 2016?
J.J. Cooper: I think Chapman is a significantly better defender than Nunez so yes, I think he ends up as the third baseman with Nunez moving elsewhere. I do think either one needs a little more time. Second half of the season at the earliest.

Casey (Noth Dakota): Rating the College Outfielders in fantasy relevance order how do you rate the following four. Corey Ray, Kyle Lewis, Buddy Reed and Nick Banks. Thanks J.J. have a rocking weekend
J.J. Cooper: Fantasy = offense, no concerns for defense. If that’s the case Ray, Lewis, Banks and Reed.

Rick (SC): It seems Dansby Swanson probably isn't long for A+. Do you think they'll have him skip AA to avoid having him and Albies having to trade off at SS? Or do they promote Albies too? Either way, someone's going to need to be promoted aggressively if they want to continue having them at different levels.
J.J. Cooper: Slow down. Swanson has played 15 games of full season ball. It’s a very, very good 15 games but the Braves can keep Swanson in Carolina for half a season or so without slowing his development. At that point if Albies keeps up what he’s doing he may be ready for Triple-A. The reality is that the future may be here quicker than we think. Erick Aybar is off to a terrible start but if he turns it around he’s more valuable as a trade chip than helping the Braves try to get to 72 wins instead of 70 in the second half of the season. If that happens, the Braves don’t have a large number of other fill-in options to replace Aybar at shortstop.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Your reaction to Blake Snell's call up?
J.J. Cooper: Not a big surprise. He’s ready. The Rays wait til guys are ready but scouts who have seen Snell late last year and early this year say it’s time. He should hit the ground running. Congrats to Blake.

Marcus (Richmond): I realize it is early but have you seen or heard anything about A.J. Reed that makes you think he won't reach the majors this year or if he does, he won't be as productive as projected?
J.J. Cooper: No. Nothing in this first two weeks is really that disconcerting. He’s still hitting for power. He’s still controlling the strike zone very well for a power hitter. He’s just having some bad luck on what happens when he puts the ball in play so far–he’s not going to have a .206 BABIP for the entire season, I can promise you that. If a few balls that are being caught right now start falling in and his average returns to say .260 and everything else stays the same he’d be hitting .260/.350/.540 and there would be zero concerns being raised. The only thing keeping Reed from the big leagues this year is that he’s trying to crack a lineup that has more hitters than ABs already.

Mike (San Diego): JJ - what do you make of the strong start (both offense and pitching) by the Fort Wayne roster. Is this a sign that AJ Preller's reboot of the farm system should give Padres fans hope?
J.J. Cooper: It’s a good start. The big thing is that if you hire AJ Preller as your GM, you need to give him time. Preller’s first selling point on why you hire him as a GM is that he’s an excellent evaluator. This will be only Preller’s second draft (and the Padres’ didn’t have a first-round pick last year) and second international signing period. The payoff for Preller if he does what he does is several years away.

Mike (San Diego): Who's the last 18-year-old who barreled as many balls in High-A as Luis Urias?
J.J. Cooper: Excellent hand-eye. The Padres made a big bet on pushing him to HiA and he’s rewarding them for it.

Peter (Dakota): Any chance we see Yoan Moncada with Boston this year?
J.J. Cooper: It’s not outlandish. I’ve talked to scouts who have seen him this year who wonder why he’s in high Class A. Yes, it’s a logical jump since he spent last year in low Class A, but there are evaluators who think he’s ready for a tougher challenge already.

Rick (SC): Early reports suggest Austin Riley is having trouble with above average velocity. Did we all get a bit too hyped over his sudden emergence last year?
J.J. Cooper: It’s 2 weeks into the season. Be very careful of making any sweeping ideas on anyone good or bad, especially with hitters. Do remember that Yoan Moncada had a sub-.600 OPS a month into his 2015 season and look where he ended up. Riley’s strikeouts are a concern and his 2015 performance exceeded the expectations of many scouts who saw him as an amateur so there are reasons to pause but the power is legit. Pitchers are ahead of him right now, he needs to show he can adjust now.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone. Time to dive back into draft prep. We’ll be back chatting Top 25 on Monday and Ben Badler will chat on Wednesday. Have a great weekend.

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