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Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (5/14/18)

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Brendan McKay

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Sorry, I'm finishing up a scout call. I'll be back in just a few minutes.

J.J. Cooper: And that was quicker than I thought. Let's dive in.

Gregg (513):

    Vlad Jr - is it too early to call him a generational talent ?


J.J. Cooper: He's special. He's an awesome prospect. It depends on your definition of "generational talent." Mike Trout is one of the greatest players in baseball history and he was a prospect during this decade. They are of the same generation, so from that aspect, it's hard to say he's a "once in a generation" type player. And as much as I love Guerrero as a prospect, he'll play in the big leagues at the same time as Miguel Cabrera, so there's some generational overlap there too. But I could also say he's as advanced a 19-year-old hitter as we've seen in this generation, so I could make the argument that such a qualifier makes him a generational talent.

Andrew (Los Angeles):

    Mackenzie Gore seems to be struggling a little. Anything to be concerned about? Or just trying to get in a groove after dealing with the blister issue?


J.J. Cooper: He hasn't dominated, but he's barely gotten a chance to get comfortable on the mound because of the blisters. Let's give him five or more starts in LoA to get acclimated before being concerned at all.

Norm C. (Connecticut):

    Watching Brusdar Graterol on MiLB TV, it looks like he would be OK in a major league bullpen right now. I don't have research to back this up but guys who undergo TJ at a young age are very high risk to have a long career. I hope that is doesn't sound too exploitive, but if you are the Twins, given his injury history, do you fast track him in the bullpen to get what you can out of him or be patient and develop him as a possible top of the rotation arm and risk further injury before he makes it to the show? Thanks,


J.J. Cooper: This is a crazy discussion/debate we've had in our office before. We're not the only ones who call it this, but we call it the "so many bullets" argument. If a pitcher is going to potentially break down, why waste those innings in the minors when a guy can contribute at the big league level. Graterol wouldn't fit really the argument because he's so far away from the majors. Jordan Hicks is showing right now that a 100 mph fastball or better is not enough to dominate at the big league level. It's fair to argue that Graterol needs more time in the minors no matter what role he's going to end up in. But a year from now? That becomes an interesting debate. The argument against doing so: You could have a special starter and you're dooming that chance by fast-tracking him. But there are also guys who leave their best stuff in Class A.

John (USA):

    Just wanted to know your thoughts on a few random players outside the top 100. Evan white, garret hampson, Tony santillan, Austin beck, Dennis Santana?


J.J. Cooper: That's a random group, but here's a thought on each. Evan White: Best healthy Mariners' prospect. Love his glove at 1B. Modest worries about how much power he'll hit for at a very power-oriented position. Garret Hampson: Not a super-sexy prospect, but has the profile to have a pretty lengthy big league career. Top or bottom of the order middle infielder with a good glove. Tony Santillan: Stuff compares pretty favorably with Hunter Greene for best stuff among Reds starters. Austin Beck: Encouraged to see he's off to a solid start in the Midwest League this year. Had to tweak his swing in the offseason as velo was too much for him last year in the AZL but those adjustments seem to be working. Dennis Santana: Been a fan of him since he was in the AZL many years ago. Don't know if he'll end up as a starter for the Dodgers, but arm will play in some way in the majors.

Will (CT):

    Where do you see Uconn's Tim Cate getting drafted? Assuming he slides to the 5 to 10th round. Is he better suited to come back to Uconn for a senior year prove he is healthy and dominate or will a few outings in the Cape League be enough to convince the club that drafts him to ante up?


J.J. Cooper: I don't think he slides that far. Everyone saw what he could do before the injuries arrived. That breaking ball by itself would push him above the 5th round in my mind.

psw (long beach, ca.):

    How long do you think Vlad jr. will stay at double a


J.J. Cooper: The argument for keeping him in Double-A is to let him continue to work on his glove. As a hitter, Double-A isn't challenging enough. Triple-A probably wouldn't be either. And I think MLB pitching would be challenging but not too much for him right now. I do think he'd struggle if you had him face the NL All-Star pitching staff right now.

nick (Dayton):

    On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are the Reds about Nick Senzel's vertigo?


J.J. Cooper: A 3. I was a Braves fan as a high school senior or thereabouts when Nick Esasky saw his career ended by vertigo. Now that's the only player I can remember having that happen to in the past 30+ years, so it's not a big, big worry, but the fact that it's occurred again is obviously not ideal.

Jake (Schaumburg, IL):

    Hi JJ, thanks for chatting with us today! Does Chris Paddack have a front of the rotation starter ceiling? Also, who do you like more, Paddack or Michel Baez?


J.J. Cooper: He's been great in his return and that's very encouraging, but I haven't heard enough from scouts to believe that Paddack's improving breaking ball has proven that it's front-of-the-rotation caliber. His fastball and changeup are very good, but fastball/changeup righties have a tougher time as starters than fastball/breaking ball righties. I'm still a very big Baez believer. Padres prospect depth is pretty amazing right now.

Andrew (Alberta (Canada)):

    With Kevin Smith's hot start to the season, has he surpassed Warmoth on the Jays depth chart? Or is it too early for that? Thanks


J.J. Cooper: That's a fascinating question. He hasn't surpassed him on the depth chart yet as the reason he's overmatching LoA pitchers is because Warmoth is in HiA blocking that spot. As good as Smith's year is, and it's been outstanding, he should be too good for that league. But his success is likely to get the Blue Jays thinking about working some sort of job-sharing arrangement in Dunedin before too long, maybe play both at 2B a little too and some DH. Warmoth isn't ready for Double-A (and Bo Bichette is there), but Smith is more than ready for HiA.

psw (long beach, ca.):

    Is Tatis struggles just a temporary thing or something else?


J.J. Cooper: He got off to a slow start, but he was behind as he had missed more than a week in spring training with strep throat (that also caused him to lose weight). So it took a little while for him to get his timing and his strength back. But I wouldn't worry much at all. He got off to a slow start last year as well. And in May, Tatis is hitting .321/.438/.623 as a 19-year-old in Double-A. Everything's fine.

Austin Riley (Altanta in July?):

    Thanks for chatting with us today JJ. I moved up to AAA and haven't missed a beat after my 3 HR / 8 RBI performance on Sunday. Am I now inching towards a top 20 prospect come July and finding myself in Atlanta the second half of the season?


J.J. Cooper: When the 2018 season began, one of the biggest questions facing the Braves long-term in my mind was deciding if Riley was the third baseman of the future or if the team was better off going with a trade/free agent veteran solution. Riley has done everything possible to show he's the Braves 3B answer. He's still not the certainty that Acuna was, but at this point if the Camargo/Flaherty/Bautista job-share isn't producing at an above-average level, he does fit as a late July/August callup. He's only 21, but he's already got 300 AA/AAA at-bats. Give him another two months and you'll be looking at a guy who has 110+ games in the upper minors. That still would be an aggressive promotion, but it's not outlandish.

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John (Atlanta):

    Could Luiz Gohara fit that only so many bullets argument? If he can't ever get the fitness under control, might as well use that crazy stuff out of the bullpen while you can. . .


J.J. Cooper: More than a "so many bullets" argument, you could argue that the Braves have accelerated their window for contention. If you're in a playoff race there's a whole lot of reasons to put a lefty with 2 70s in your pen. It helps Gohara acclimate to the big leagues while helping out the big league club. It doesn't close the door on him starting long-term, but the Braves have other SP options if further injuries hit. Atlanta could be a playoff team by playing roughly .500 ball the rest of the way. It's far enough into the season now to start making decisions with an eye on both the short and the long term. Putting Gohara in the big league bullpen like they have helps the short term and doesn't hurt the long term outlook.

Steve (Grand Rapids):

    Is Paul DeJong a good comp for Brendan Rodgers (in terms of offense)? And do you see him as a shortstop or secondbaseman?


J.J. Cooper: If you had asked me that 2-3 years ago, I would have probably questioned the premise of the question but credit to DeJong, he's proven to be a reliable power source for the Cardinals with few walks and plenty of strikeouts. DeJong is a pretty good production comp for Rodgers. As far as shortstop or second base, it somewhat depends on what the Rockies need. And with D.J. LeMahieu hitting free agency next year, there's some reason to expect he may end up at 2B.

Sean (Huntington Beach):

    I've seen a few Griffin Canning starts and the stuff looks fantastic. What are the early reviews from scouts?


J.J. Cooper: Great. His stuff is even better than it was in college. Our Kyle Glaser was at his first pro start this year and can explain it here better than I can in a chat answer. https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/griffin-canning-dominates-in-professional-debut/

AA (FL):

    Any concern about Bo Bichette's lack of power? Seems to be going through a slow stretch recently, but hasn't hit a HR all year. Any changes to his approach or just small sample size? Thanks!


J.J. Cooper: He's been going through a slow stretch, but he's a 20 year old in Double-A adjusting to a new level. I'm not worried.

Tony (Cincy):

    Thanks for the chat! If you were to leave stolen bases out of it, who has the higher offensive ceiling between Taylor Trammell and Yordan Alvarez?


J.J. Cooper: That question is similar to asking me if I like tacos and burritos. I like tacos, I like burritos and I like Trammell and Alvarez as potential impact big league bats. I think Alvarez has a little more power potential but Trammell will be a more well-rounded big leaguer.

Todd (San Diego):

    Are you buying either Buddy Reed or Josh Naylors hot starts?


J.J. Cooper: Naylor's more than Reed's. Reed is still striking out at about the same rate and walking at about the same rate and showing about the same isolated power. In a jump to the Cal League, he's posting a BABIP nearly 100 points better than he did last year. There's some improvement there, but wouldn't be surprised to see some regression back to the mean. Naylor has always been able to hit and he's taken a step forward in both the amount and quality of the contact he's making. I just don't see him fitting in San Diego barring an injury as his logical MLB position is 1B, not LF.

Jesus Sanchez (Coninuing to rake!):

    Through 6 weeks of the year I'm showing no signs of slowing down triple slashing .361/.371/.551 in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. I could take a few more walks (only 3 BB for the year), but other than that do I have really any holes in my game? Where should I reasonably expect to be ranked with the July mid-season rankings? Is somewhere 15-20 out of the question?


J.J. Cooper: He can really hit. His defense needs some work. It's a challenging comp to throw on him, but the guy who comes to mind for me (this is my comp, not from a scout) is the late Oscar Taveras.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone. I have to get back to writing up draft guys. We appreciate all the questions and a special thanks to our subscribers.

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