DJ (Philly): I was a bit surprised to see Austin Meadows get promoted to AAA. Any idea why they felt the need to rush him when the MLB outfield is already crowded? Also, is he viewed as the future centerfielder or a corner?
Matt Eddy: Good point. Even if the Pirates view Meadows as a trade candidate — and I don’t think they do — they would probably want him to continue building value at Double-A. A conspiracy theorist might say that the Pirates are eyeing a potential McCutchen trade. If he hits well between now and the July 31 deadline, they might be selling at peak value. As to Meadows, I don’t think playing CF is crucial to his major league profile. He contributes enough in terms of on-base ability and power to hold down a corner.
Ian (San Francisco): Why no love for Phil Bickford? He was great in his debut!
Matt Eddy: He has a strong case. Giants RHP Phil Bickford struck out 13 in 6 IP in his High-A San Jose debut this week. He allowed two hits and two runs while walking none.
Keith (Farmington, CT): Thanks Matt. If McKenzie can add some weight/strength to his frame, does his ceiling reach #2 starter? He seems so poised for someone not even 19 yet.
Matt Eddy: The Indians love McKenzie, but caution for any young pitcher is warranted. Yes, an absolute ceiling of No. 2 starter for McKenzie is technically possible, but I would want to see him handle a full-season assignment before going nuts.
Dan (Summit): Brandon Nimmo, finding his way as a first division starter, or taking advantage of the PCL and its luscious hitting enviroments?
Matt Eddy: Good question. If he can handle the defensive demands of CF, then Nimmo could be a borderline first-division payer, I think. If he plays a corner, he could be more of a valuable contributor. But he does have MLB skills that can help a winner. As to the league context question . . . even accounting for the Pacific Coast League and for Las Vegas, in particular, I have Nimmo at about a 140 OPS+, with power-on-contact about 20% better than league average. By comparison, FanGraphs has him at about 150 with its production index metric, wRC+.
SD (NJ): What prospects have climbed into the Top 100 prospects that could potentially have big fantasy impact? Outlook for Bader, Jimenez, Fisher, Calhoun?
Matt Eddy: Stay tuned for our Midseason Top 50 Prospects update, which will be out in the next week or two.
Chris (Philadelphia): Is Travis Demeritte back to his previous prospect status? Or is this just a product of the Cal League? Is he ready for a promotion to AA soon?
Matt Eddy: The Rangers still have another season before they face a Rule 5 decision on 2B Travis Demeritte, but regardless, I’m sure they want the same answer you do. In other words, a second-half bump to Double-A seems probable. Demeritte’s power is absolutely legit — check that .256 road ISO — and most of the questions for him revolve around making contact (to rack up those XBHs) and his glove at second base.
Bill (Sacramento): I'm interested in your take on Brock Stewart of the Dodgers. He has shot up the system this year from High to AAA and dominated in his first AAA start. I know he is not a heralded prospect but his performance seems too much to ignore.
Matt Eddy: No doubt about it. Dodgers RHP Brock Stewart is a prospect. We featured him in the Helium Watch section a few Hot Sheets back, and he now ranks top 10 in the minors for ERA, strikeouts, AVG and WHIP. Stewart needs to develop his changeup to profile as a starter, but he pretty clearly has a major league arm, possibly in the bullpen.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Was Tony Santillan in consideration for the list this week? 15 K vs 3 BB in 8.2 IP this week and topped out at 98 mph.
Matt Eddy: Indeed he was. Josh Norris mentioned the Reds’ 2015 second-rounder. We want to see him go at least five innings in a start, but he is definitely on the follow list. Also on that list: Mets LHP Thomas Szapucki, the 2015 fifth-rounder who fanned 13 in a start for Rookie-level Kingsport this week.
Connor (MO): Was Carson Kelly considered for the hot sheet? his hitting has come on strong and his defense has been lights out lately.
Matt Eddy: Kelly wasn’t a particularly strong candidate for Hot Sheet this week, but just the other day I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he is having a fine offensive year at Double-A Springfield. More proof that it just takes longer for catchers sometimes. They tend to reach the majors later because of defensive demands. Kelly hit .291/.332/.423 with 6 HR in the first half.
Baller (Miami, FL): When do the Futures rosters come out?
Matt Eddy: We are finalizing the rosters as we speak. Look for them next week.
Jose (Washington, DC): Buying or selling Alex Bregman playing 3rd base for Houston over the next 6 weeks?
Matt Eddy: I’m buying Bregman as a 3B option later this season, for sure. I would also be interested to see if he could platoon with Rasmus in LF a bit, too.
Mike (Washington DC): What are the chances Robles makes it to AA this season? Any chance he makes it to the big leagues next season? September?
Matt Eddy: Nationals CF Victor Robles doesn’t even turn 20 until next May. He’s a bright talent, but he’s no Bryce Harper. I would say Robles has a good shot to finish 2017 in Double-A and reach Washington in 2018.
Warren (New London): Is it churlish of me to still have doubts about Brendan Rodgers? He's played in only 55 of his team's 70 games, and only 29 of those at shortstop. He's hit .252 as a shortstop, .356 as a DH or 2B (though most of his home runs are at shortstop). His road line is .248/.308/.385. Is he going to stay at short? Is he really an impact bat?
Matt Eddy: Plus two points for the use of the word “churlish.” I think the answer to your last question is “yes,” but I don’t have a great feel for Brendan Rodgers’ defensive ceiling, though defense is one thing that can improve at a rapid rate in pro ball. BA ranked Rodgers as the No. 1 draft prospect in 2015, and his progress this season (compared to last year at Grand Junction) is noteworthy. He might not be a transcendent talent, but the best HS player in his class typically returns significant value. I wouldn’t expect Rodgers to be an exception.
Bob (FL): BA was pretty high on Jake Bauers in the winter (Top 100, report mentioned middle of the order potential), but he's still struggling to slug much over .400. How much pop is there in the bat?
Matt Eddy: This is a legitimate concern, and it underscores whey the Rays wanted to steer Jake Bauers away from being a 1B-only player because of the high offensive bar. I think the thing to note here is that Bauers’ natural swing path takes the ball to left-center field, but batters can be taught to meet the ball out front and pull it to right field at a later stage of their development. I encourage you to check out the outstanding MLBfarm.com spray chart for Bauers here: http://mlbfarm.com/player.php?player_id=641343&position=1B&split=&year=2016&txtStartDate=&txtEndDate=#spray
David F (Miami): How you rate the White Sox farm system, which prospects can we be excited about?
Matt Eddy: The White Sox system is in rough shape. Any prospect who has had a good year has reached the majors (Tim Anderson, Tyler Danish, Jason Coats), while virtually everybody else has struggled, most notably Carson Fulmer. Among those I like the best are RHP Spencer Adams, 3B Trey Michalczewski, OF Jacob May and OF Adam Engel, while 2B/OF Jake Peter continues to play well. Chicago’s top three draft picks — C Zack Collins and RHPs Zack Burdi and Alec Hanson — will go to the front of the line this fall.
Matt Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. You can always tweet me additional questions at @MattEddyBA