Top MLB Prospects Chat (7/23/19)

Image credit: Gavin Lux (Photo by John Williamson)

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

Julio Rodriguez (Future Top 10 Prospect?): 

    Thanks for chatting with us today Justin! I am one of the biggest risers in the latest top 100 update. Is it fair to say that if I hadn’t gotten hurt and missed a month+ I would actually be quite a bit higher. With the way I’m performing in LoA as a 18 year old 1 year removed from the DSL, do you see me being in the conversation of top 10 prospects in all of baseball this time next year?

Justin Coleman: J-Rod is great. Please be sure to check out the interview I did with him. 80 grade makeup type of player. A top 10 guy in baseball this time next year? He might get somewhere close to it, but I’m not so sure. Really depends upon the other guys in the discussion as you know. Regardless, there is a lot to like about him–thunder in the bat, good arm, projectable body etc.

Dodger Nation (LA): 

    Gavin Lux has rightfully gotten all the attention as the best middle infielder in the Dodger system as he approaches his MLB debut. Does Jeter Downs become the best Dodgers middle infield prospect once Lux graduates? Downs has quietly had a great first year since coming over from the Reds during the offseason. He’s on pace for 20+ HR and 25+ SB. Do scouts seem him as a potential top 100 guy in 2020?

Justin Coleman: I don’t think he is top 100 material just yet. I do think he is one of their best middle infielders, especially after Lux gets the call up. Bat is pretty good, I still think the defense needs to be worked out to see where he lands on the diamond down the road.

Nick (Ohio): 

    Why the drastic drop in ranking for Brady singer? Stats were good in high A, moved up to double A and had an adjustment period like most, but has been pretty good as late. Scouts see a red flag or something?

Justin Coleman: He is still a valuable prospect despite the drop in rankings. He is a sinker/SL type of guy who has struggled against LHH. He has a lot of confidence and goes after hitters. Singer needs the CH to come along a bit more. Obviously he has time to improve it, but that would be an important step for him.

Dan (Michigan): 

    What are your thoughts on Tarik skubal and his ceiling?. Stats are good but how good is his stuff? Do you think it plays long term in majors?

Justin Coleman: Saw Skubal the other day– really, really impressive. Up to 97, two breakers, CH lags behind. He has great presence and feel to pitch. I could see a mid-rotation or greater role for him, sure. I do think it will play in the big leagues. Be sure to check out the report I wrote on him that was published yesterday!

Young Studs (Low Minors): 

    Wander Franco is in a league of his own. Between the next tier of Ronny Mauricio, Julio Rodriguez, Kristian Robinson, and Marco Luciano how would you rank in terms of upside? Would you agree with 1. Mauricio, 2. Luciano, 3. J-Rod, 4. Robinson due to defensive value?

Justin Coleman: Those are all great prospects, but a lot of the defensive questions are ones that you have to wait and see. How does the body grow? Who puts on considerable weight? etc. Those transitions may move a guy from SS to 3B or the OF, which may change the value profile long term.

Paul (Philadelphia): 

    Why did SD let Luis Urias play the entire first half at El Paso? He seems like a pretty mature kid with a good approach. Is there any chance he gets dealt at this year’s deadline? With Edwards, Ruiz, Marcano, and Abrams all at MI, there seems to be plenty of exciting options long-term.

Justin Coleman: I have wondered this as well. I know he has needed to iron out his mechanics with his timing, but still. I could see him getting dealt as another piece in a package, he wouldn’t be a centerpiece type of player for me. It will be interesting to see how SD uses him moving forward.

Jim (New Jersey): 

    That’s quite the first 100 AB for CJ Abrams. Is Tri-County in his near future, and is he ultimately the CFer the Padres have been missing?

Justin Coleman: You aren’t joking. Pretty crazy numbers. It probably is in his near future with that type of slash line. I’m sure they want to see more of him at SS before considering something like CF.

Matthew (Toronto): 

    Approximately how far outside the Top 100 are Alek Manoah and Alejandro Kirk?

Justin Coleman: Both are good prospects, but I don’t think either is particularly near the top 100 at this point.

Johnny (New Hampshire): 

    Do you think Deivi Garcia has a good chance at remaining a starter given his size? Throwing that hard at 5’9″ is a little worrisome.

Justin Coleman: This is the million dollar question. Stuff is pretty good, body would worry you long term. Saw him pitch real well at the Futures game… You have to consider the aging process + hundreds of innings on the body. Does that fit in the rotation long term? Only time will tell.

Nate (Vermont): 

    I noticed a lot of sites are high on Greg Jones coming out of the draft. Do you think its justified? If scouts are this high on him why wasnt he drafted earlier in the 1st round?

Justin Coleman: Coming into the year, he was thought of as a late day 1 guy… not a lock in the first round. Real concerns as to if he sticks at SS, benefitted from doing well later in the season. Real questions about his hitting track record because of where he played etc. Tools are there, though.

Jeff (Alexandria): 

    I appreciate your work Justin. It seems several top SP prospects have done great in AA but stunk it up in AAA this season with names like Kay, Sheffield, etc. coming to mind. Do you feel many of these guys still will be successful SPs when they step up to MLB and it is just the new ball, or should we have major cause for concern? Ty for your thoughts…

Justin Coleman: Thanks Jeff, appreciate the kind words. I think for a lot of guys its just a matter of making adjustments. Some guys know they have to come after hitters inside more often, or work a bit differently thanks to this spike in HRS. Again, some of those AAA guys are veteran hitters… they won’t fall for all the tricks that may have worked at AA. That adjustment gets factored in as well. I don’t think its major at this point, but its probably something to watch. I will be interested to see some of the top flight names and how things shake out for them when they get the call to the bigs.

Brandon (Massachusetts): 

    How much value do you put into early DSL performances? For instance a guy like Luis Matos (SF) who wasnt highly ranked in his class, but has torn up the DSL so far, does his stock rise at all for you without any pro ball experience?

Justin Coleman: I would put more value into particular metrics at any one level rather than the level itself. I would look more at numbers that potentially reflect how a player controls the game– such as how many times a hitter walks vs how many times he punches out. I would be curious to know how he controls the zone, as that will allow him to hone in on better pitches to hit etc.

Bryan (Compliance): 

    Do think Austin Riley will break out of his slump at some point this year or will he be sent down to the minors? As a prospect, were his strikeouts concerning?

Justin Coleman: I think he will be fine. Strikeouts are always concerning to an extent, but there is bound to be some adjustment time at any level (especially in the bigs, where guys can command breaking stuff much better).

Old Timer (Raleigh NC): 

    Daulton Jefferies…He is pitching reasonably well at AA. Any buzz now that he is finally healthy? Projected mid-rotation starter, more, less? Thanks.

Justin Coleman: He is building up innings after TJS. You hit the nail on the head– mid-rotation upside. Touching 95 at times, CH and CB coming along, starter look to him.

Steve (Madison): 

    Any idea why Morejon got the call? Baez to the pen from AA is more understandable but Morejon wasn’t pitching all that well in AA and then suddenly finds himself in the rotation for a start in the majors

Justin Coleman: My guess is that Morejon’s stuff plays up. Command isn’t great but might be able to get away with it in the bullpen.

Chet (Nashville): 

    What gives Ronny Mauricio the edge over Marco Luciano? Or are we just splitting hairs between two teens brimming with talent?

Justin Coleman: Longer track record, 18 year old in the Sally league. Both are very talented!

Adrian (Los Angeles): 

    How soon can we see Gavin Lux with the Dodgers?

Justin Coleman: I would think pretty soon if he keeps hitting the way he is. The only question is, where do you find him consistent at-bats? That team is pretty stacked at the moment.

Sean (Washington DC): 

    Do you think the Rockies will trade Blackmon and give Sam Hilliard a chance? He’s really raking in AAA

Justin Coleman: I don’t know about the whole Blackmon situation, but Hilliard has some excellent tools. His power is coming around and his defense has always been plus. Needs to cut down on the strike outs. Great make up guy, btw.

G4 (Milwaukee): 

    Like all teams, Brewers have a handful of top prospects with trade value, but as a small market do they have the depth to stomach the loss of Turang, Dubon or Zach Brown? Team desperately needs a stud SP/RP for any shot at division but a big move feels unlikely.

Justin Coleman: I think this depends upon if the pitcher in question is a rental or not. If its a guy that has a few years of control, I could see them putting a package together. Tough to say but it should be interesting to see how they approach the deadline.

BennyFunk (Loxahatchee, Florida): 

    What is a realistic return for Bumgarner by himself, not packaged with a reliever, knowing he’s a rental and that before this recent stretch he’s been an average pitcher? Is he going to fetch a teams top prospect? a prospect in the 30-100 range? Maybe an example of what you think it would take for the Yankees or Red Sox to land him?

Justin Coleman: Comes back to supply and demand. I don’t think he fetches a teams’ number 1 guy, unless that particular farm system is a bit rough (especially with how teams are valuing prospects more than ever). I feel like the SFG could get a better offer elsewhere, but that’s just my opinion.

Adam (WI): 

    Likelihood that Ian Anderson gets a look at AAA this season? Obviously the walk rate is still an issue but his stock is still up and he’s been pitching well.

Justin Coleman: No need to rush him exactly. I could see him getting a few starts at Triple-A, but I think AA is where he stays as he hones his control of the strike zone.

Travis (Omak, Wa): 

    What are your thoughts on Cal Raleigh and what is his upside? Any chance to make a few all stars game at some point in his career?

Justin Coleman: I like Raleigh. He shows leadership behind home plate with a plus arm and has some juice in the bat. Could be an everyday guy or profile nicely as a backup. ASG? Only time will tell.

Mike (Virginia): 

    Thoughts on Francisco Alvarez? I know its early, but he seems to be living up to the hit tool projections so far.

Justin Coleman: He has been great. First division catcher type of upside with feel to hit and power as well.

KC Fan (KC): 

    How much do you think Seuly Matias injury played into his struggles this year vs just poor plate discipline, obviously his strikeout rate has always been bad, but could the injury have played a role in getting it up over 40%?

Justin Coleman: I think injuries always play some level of factor into the performance around them depending upon severity etc. Regardless, he has always been a big swing-and-miss guy. Great kid (interviewed him a few months back), but rough year.

Steve (Orlando): 

    Does Wander Franco stay at shortstop, or eventually end up at 3rd or 2nd?

Justin Coleman: He has a good arm but doesn’t have the most range at SS. He should be able to handle it fine anyway, especially with his advanced feel for the game and maturity.

Syd (Atlanta): 

    How do you think Ryley Gilliam is doing compared to his projection of making the MLB quickly?

Justin Coleman: Still needs to work on FB command. Breaking ball is pretty darn good, though.

Travis (Omak, Wa): 

    Surprised to see Kelenic dropped in the most recent update to the top 100? Was this just because others playing better or are there other reasons behind the drop?

Justin Coleman: Other guys were added to the list etc., not a slight on him (although he has cooled off a tad and was injured).

Cathy (VT): 

    Is Trent Grisham’s break out season for real? What is his ceiling?

Justin Coleman: Just needs to continue to show consistency to get a shot at the big leagues. Breakouts are great, but consistently high performance is even better. Ceiling? Since he probably fits best in LF, he will need to continue to show power and discipline in order to get a shot at being an every day guy.

Joey Bagadonuts (Fluffia, PA): 

    Don’t look now but Mickey Moniak owns a respectable .751 OPS that includes 10 triples. He’s barely 21 and at AA. Is he an MLB regular at some point, a serviceable 4th, or a July 2019 trade chip to help fetch desperately needed arms?

Justin Coleman: He has the draft pedigree, but I see him more as 4th OF type at this stage. Still young and things can change. Don’t know if the carrying tool is there for him. Regarding a trade, he probably would be the third or fourth piece in a deal.

Matty (United States): 

    Have you heard anything about Thomas Szapucki’s velocity Post-TS?

Justin Coleman: 93ish range according to a report, not sure what he was in his most recent start. Still very enticing arm with FB-CB combo.

Tarik Skubal (Detroit): 

    How far away am I from entering the top 100?

Justin Coleman: After what I saw Friday, he can’t be too far away.

CCP (Taiwan): 

    Kyle Wright has been hit hard by MLB batters. His fastball has above average velo and movement but fool nobody. What’s his future? A No. 4 starter or the next Mark Appel? And how about Bryse Wilson, his sliders are not useful in the MlB level right now. A future setup man/closet?

Justin Coleman: Both have things to work on, but its only fair to judge them when they get more consistent passes through the rotation. If they still can’t hack it, then you talk about turning to the bullpen to see if the FB-breaking ball combo works better there. Still time for those two.

SBNY (Philadelphia PA): 

    The Mets seem thin on pitching in the upper levels with the exception of Kay, Peterson and Szapucki. With the drafting of Allan and Wolf to join SWR in the lower levels, could you assess this group? In addition though young, Francisco Alvarez has gotten off to a nice start. What is his ceiling?

Justin Coleman: Kay and Peterson are more backend types (although Kay might fit more of a 3-4ish mold). Allan, Wolf and SWR are all extremely young but have high upsides (SWR has taken strides forward in the second half, a lot to like there). Pretty nice group. Another one to keep an eye on is Junior Santos– numbers aren’t great but body and stuff are there. Alvarez has a very high ceiling, super young but performing well for Kingsport. First division stuff as I mentioned earlier.

Matt (Va): 

    How close was Josh Jung to making the top 100? Do you envision him being at future top 50 guy?

Justin Coleman: Don’t think he was close. Need more track record before I can answer that question regarding a top 50 option down the road.

Concerned Rockies Fan (CO): 

    Thanks for the chat Justin! What happened to Colton Welker? He was having what looked to be a true breakout year to become one of the elite prospects in the minors and suddenly went into a huge slump. Now he’s on the IL. With the consistent hart contact he was showing when healthy earlier in the year, are scouts coming around to the fact that he may be a FV 60 hit/55 power guy?

Justin Coleman: That’s a good question. Hasn’t been a great year, but scouts like the hit tool and think the power is there. We will see how he bounces back from his time on the IL.

Jack (Philly): 

    Damon Jones has looked absolutely elite at points this year, whats caused the jump? and whats his realistic ceiling?

Justin Coleman: He has a good FB and breaking ball has been very solid, walks are a bit concerning though. Maybe a bullpen piece if he doesn’t iron out his control.

Joe Davis (ATL): 

    Do you think the Braves have any untouchable prospects?

Justin Coleman: Maybe Pache? Not sure, gotta give something to get something.

Adam (Funky town): 

    If AJ Preller tasked you with trading Hudson Potts, Ryan Weathers, Austin Allen, Tucapita Marcano, and Reggie Lawson, how would you package these players and for what sort of return?

Justin Coleman: Weathers has the most value of the group I would think. Not sure what those guys bring back, that depends more upon the market.

Tito Francona (New York): 

    Jo Adell vs Luis Robert—Adell seems to be higher on every list. What sets Adell apart from Robert? Is it a large gap that sets them apart? And If you can comp both of then to past or present players who would they be? Thanks

Justin Coleman: Both are great prospects. I think Robert is closing the gap at this stage. Don’t know who I’d comp them to.

Michael (Maine): 

    What’s the update on Kevin Maitan? I’ve been hearing hes in a little better shape and his fielding has taken a step. Whatre your thoughts on him going forward?

Justin Coleman: Shows some feel to hit, 3B/1B guy. Defense won’t wow you, body is questionable long term.

Yanks Fan (NY): 

    How close is Luis Gil to the top 100? Obviously the eventual jump to AA will be very telling, but hes been fantastic so far.

Justin Coleman: You are right. Still far away but one of their better arms, excellent FB.

Jeff (Idaho): 

    Any thoughts on young Mariners SS Noelvi Marte?

Justin Coleman: Raw but very high ceiling. Mature approach for a youngster, 6ish run and arm. Also has very good pop in the bat.

Jeff (Idaho): 

    Brusdar Graterol – will he pitch again this season? Hard to find any reports on his health/progress…

Justin Coleman: I hope he does, Graterol is pretttty nasty.

Zak (Boston): 

    With Kelenic and Gorman already up in A+, when do you think Groshans and Casas will join them there? Do you see any of them starting in AA in 2020 or is that too aggressive?

Justin Coleman: I can see Groshans and Casas in AA next season if all goes well, just not starting there immediately. That might be too aggressive.

Indians Fan (Cleveland): 

    George Valera may have already been in the top 100 if he hadn’t gotten hurt in his 2018 debut. He has been long lauded for his approach, feel, and ability to consistently barrel balls. That sounds awfully like the reports on a young Juan Soto back in 2016. I’m not saying he’ll be the next Soto, but does he have the same traits?

Justin Coleman: Well, he has the bat anyway. Still far away but plenty to like with him. I hope to get a closer look at him when I hit the NYPL in August.

Ryan (Detroit): 

    Michael Baumann P BAL. How high has his stock actually risen? Still projected as a back end starter/ swing man, or has that projection changed? When do you think we will see him touch down in Camden Yards?

Justin Coleman: He is trending positive, more power stuff. I think he touches down in Camden around 2021 if everything breaks right.

Alex (Olympia WA): 

    Is Luis Campusano close to the top 100? He is hitting well in HiA, especially for a Catcher.

Justin Coleman: Above average defender with a plus arm. Offense is clicking, pretty nice prospect.

Matt (Dallas): 

    Did the scouting community give up on Leody Taveras too early? He struggled in 2018 as a 19 yr old in HiA but has rebounded nicely while repeating the level in 2019. Now promoted to AA, he’s been holding his own. Do scouts think Leody can grow into at least average power as he continues to physically mature? He will only be 21 for the entire 2020 season. Can he make his way back into the top 100 limelight?

Justin Coleman: Still time to rebound and tap into power, although he isn’t the most natural hitter.

Bobby Cables (NY STATE PENN): 

    Why did Hans Crouse drop so much? Injury or inconsistency?

Justin Coleman: More of what guys are doing around him. Still very high ceiling, reports have been pretty good so far.

Dan (SoCal): 

    What’s it look like for Jake McCarthy? Lost season. Back for AFL. Thanks for the chat.

Justin Coleman: Defense over offense at this point. Contact ability is better than overall power. Ability to come off the bench or maybe fit on a second division type of club.

Drew Waters (Continue to Turn Heads): 

    Even after a fast start as the 2nd youngest player in the SL this spring scouts had mixed reviews on me. As I steadily rise up the top 100, is the industry coming to a consensus that my slightly unorthodox load and swing just works for me? I’m in the top 3 in hits, runs, doubles, triples, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS all while showing an above average glove at all three OF positions! Do you think I’m a top 15-20 prospect come the first 2020 top 100 list in February?

Justin Coleman: Very talented, some swing-and-miss stuff that needs to get worked out. Top 15 guy in the first top 100 list of 2020? Don’t think so, not quite there yet.

Jake (Schaumburg, IL): 

    Hi Justin, who do you prefer, Gavin Lux or Keston Hiura?

Justin Coleman: Hi Jake. This is a tough one… I would have said Hiura to start the season. More of a toss up now. I’ll take both on my team!

Justin Coleman: That is it for today everyone. Thanks very much for your questions. Till next time! -JC

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