Moderator: Matt Eddy will be here at 2 p.m. Eastern to chat about the new Hot Sheet, powered by Franklin Sports.
Steve (Maine): Are there any young guys having big breakout seasons ala Robles and Espinoza last year, or were those guys a rarity?
Matt Eddy: This is an opportunity to plug our offseason League Top 20 Prospects list, particularly the short-season leagues. The guys who rank at the top, especially in large leagues like the Arizona, Gulf Coast and New York-Penn, are your best bets to take big steps forward.
Doug (Sacramento): How close were Alcantara and Gossett to making the list? Both have been dominant this week. It seems like the A's are almost never on the list.
Matt Eddy: You hit on the top two pitcher omissions. On the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, RHP Raul Alcantara recently reached Triple-A and threw 14 innings of one-run ball this week, striking out eight. Midland RHP Daniel Gossett looked better in terms of peripherals, striking out 16 and walking four while recording a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings.
DC (New York): Why wouldn't Berrios be a top of the rotation pitcher? His issue in the majors earlier this year was control, something that has not plagued him in his minor league career. With a mid 90s fastball and plus change, seems like he at least has #2 upside
Matt Eddy: Based on what Southern League scouts told me last year, Berrios indeed has good control. He throws a ton of strikes and has two major league-caliber pitches and a solid third. The problem for Berrios has been command: he doesn’t locate his fastball exactly where he wants in the zone, and he hangs too many changeups (responsible for two of five HR in the majors). I haven’t heard anyone say that Berrios isn’t a major league starter — it’s just that most see him as closer to a No. 4 than a No. 2.
BK (Vancouver): How different should we feel about Alford now compared to back in March? Can injuries explain away the struggles this year, or has he been exposed in some areas?
Matt Eddy: I would give Blue Jays CF Anthony Alfrod a mulligan. He has tools, he performed in 2015 after a layoff, and we don’t know exactly how his 2016 injuries have affected his game. I would view him the same way you viewed him in March.
Philip (San Diego): Tell me about Luis Castillo, I read the scouting report on Marlins midseason top 10 which was very promising. But with that stuff his K% isn't that strong and he's 23 1/2 years old, though good BB%. Does he need to develop change more or get a ok curve?
Matt Eddy: For guys who throw as hard as new Padres RHP Luis Castillo — he has reached 100 mph — yet don’t miss many bats, it’s often a case of *effective* velocity. There could be something about Castillo’s delivery that reduces his deceptiveness, e.g. he takes a short stride or he doesn’t hide the ball from the batter.
Drew (Nesoho, MO): Which prospect has done the most to raise his trade value over the last few weeks?
Matt Eddy: I will say Mets Double-A 1B Dominic Smith, who has hit .324/.387/.604 with 14 XBH (including 8 HR) and 27 RBIs in his past 30 games. His BB/SO ratio in that time is 11/14, and the Mets are probably in the market for a starter or reliever.
Phil (Springfield): If Luke Weaver were to develop an average breaking ball could he end up as a #2 starter?
Matt Eddy: If he Double-A RHP Luke Weaver threw as hard as 2013 vintage Michael Wacha, then I could argue that the breaking ball won’t be a concern at the major league level. However, we frequently see pitchers improve their breaking stuff in the majors (or right before they get there), so I wouldn’t sweat it. Even with a 50 or 55 breaking ball, Weaver can succeed, he just has a smaller margin for error.
Tom (NY): Can you please rattle off a few Mets pitching prospects that the fans can start to focus on? Szapucki is getting a lot of attention this year, Dunn was just a top pick and Molina showed promise before getting TJS - is there anyone else to look for? Thank you for taking the question
Matt Eddy: One place to check for answers to questions like this is our recent Midseason Prospect Update series. In the Mets edition, I singled out Kingsport LHP Thomas Szapucki and Brooklyn RHP Merandy Gonzalez, who can reach the mid-90s and flash two plus secondary pitches, as two of the system’s four rising prospects.
Tom (NY): Do the Mets have any legitimate starting catching prospects in the mid to low minors? With the talk of acquiring Lucroy, it seems team management is no longer high on either Darnaud nor Plawecki. Thank you for taking the question
Matt Eddy: Venezuelan catcher Ali Sanchez, who plays for Brooklyn, is the best catcher in the system, but he could be four or five years away. Also, it’s not inconceivable that d’Arnaud or Plawecki could take a step forward. Plawecki, in particular, is young enough to make a sizable improvement.
Warren (New London): I know it's a good problem to have and these things usually sort themselves out, but what are the Braves going to do with Travis "The Thumper" Demeritte, having moved Ozzie Albies to 2B? Is there another position that would suit Demeritte (or Albies or Swanson) better?
Matt Eddy: Without question, SS Dansby Swanson and 2B Ozzie Albies will be the Braves’ double-play combination, possibly at some point in 2017. To fit in the context of the Braves, Demeritte probably will have to learn 3B and/or the corner OF. But the good news for him is that, so long as the NL keeps the DH, bench players are valuable as pinch-hitters for the pitcher and as parts of double-switches. Plus, he’s a Georgia kid. I see it as a good fit.
Matt Eddy: Ha! Nice typo in the Demeritte response by me. Of course, what I meant is “so long as the NL continues to shun the DH.”
Ben (Columbus, OH): What's the risk on Aristides Aquino? Is it whether his hit tool will be good enough to be a major league regular?
Matt Eddy: Yes, all the risk for Aristides Aquino is tied to his ability to have competitive at-bats and make enough contact for his power to play. He clearly has the raw power, glove and arm to profile in RF.
postal peter (brooklyn ny): so far buxton has been a bigger bust than morgana......give it up guys!
Matt Eddy: On the one hand, Twins CF Byron Buxton offers excellent speed, defense and arm strength. It took him a while to adjust at Double-A and Triple-A, but once he did adjust, he hit. But as to Postal Peter’s comment, Buxton now has 340 major league PA and a 55 OPS+. How bad is that? Of the 436 players in the Expansion Era to reach 300 PA by their age-22 season, Buxton ranks 419th. He keeps company down there with lots of catchers and middle infielders. So that’s less than ideal.
Joe (St Pete): Thoughts on Nick Gordon's ETA and current projections as a hitter? Seems like people are giving up on him. Is it because he's more of a hit tool/speed type guy and and not a big time power hitter making noise in the minor leagues?
Matt Eddy: Twins High-A SS Nick Gordon is a very good prospect. No, he doesn’t have the power of Correa or Seager — or even Lindor or Bogaerts — but he can hit, and he can defend the SS position. He can be a first-division regular at the position.
Jerry (Philly): Is Luke Weaver a front end rotation guy? Or, because of his fly ball tendencies, does he project to be more of a 3 or 4? Thanks!
Matt Eddy: Flyball pitchers with good control and good strikeout rates can be plenty successful. Just don’t hang any changeups with runners on base!!! Best case, he’s probably a No. 3 or 4 arm, which is valuable.
Don (San Jose): Where is Mitch Haniger? I know he is playing and hitting in Reno but the numbers are still unbelievable!
Matt Eddy: I have my eye on 25-year-old D-backs OF Mitch Haniger as a possible platoon corner bat. A RH hitter, he has *destroyed* LH pitchers this year at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, hitting .418/.509/.704 with 6 HR and just 15 SO in 98 at-bats. This type of player can fill an important “enforcer” role on a major league roster whenever the other team starts a southpaw — think Jonny Gomes or Brandon Guyer or Reed Johnson or Steve Pearce — but with so few reps available, it’s a hard gig to break in to.
Jeff (Tampa): Following up on the previous Nick Gordon question, what are reasonable fantasy baseball / hitting/SB expectations?
Matt Eddy: I wouldn’t expect Nick Gordon to be a category killer in Roto. He will be more valuable in sim formats because of his glove and running speed. He really doesn’t attempt steals that often — and he’s 11-for-21 anyway — so it’s more first-to-third and scoring-from-first-on-a-double kind of speed. He has a chance to hit .280 or so.
Craig (Charlotte): Is Tom Murphy a good enough catcher defensively to hold down a starter spot?
Matt Eddy: Yes, the Rockies’ Tom Murphy is a power-and-arm-strength variety catcher. He can be a starter in the Yan Gomes family of catchers, but maybe he winds up more as a part-time, a la Wilin Rosario or Kelly Shoppach or Geovany Soto.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Any consideration for Nick Senzel in the hot sheet this week? He hasn't missed a beat going from college ball to A ball and is showing the power recently with 3 HR in his last 8 games and a 1.000+ OPS.
Matt Eddy: Senzel — it’s pronounced like Denzel, as John Manuel would remind me — is my favorite 2016 draft prospect form a performance standpoint. He had a nice week at Low-A Dayton, batting .333/.480/.611 with 1 HR, 4 RBIs and 6 BB in 18 at-bats. Back to the college stats: I looked at all regular position players from the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big-10 and Big-12, and Senzel absolutely dominated. He ranked in the 93rd percentile for AVG, 95th for ISO, 97th for speed, 92nd for walk rate and 95th for strikeout rate. I suspect I will run him way up my personal top 100.
Matt Eddy: Great questions this week. Need to get back to Minor League Transactions now. Ask me questions on Twitter if you like: @MattEddyBA