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Northwest League Chat with Will Kimmey

Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your Northwest League questions at 2 p.m. Please limit your questions to the Northwest League players and teams.

 Q:  Mark Hernandez from Tempe, Arizona asks:
Where would Garrett Mock have ranked if he had stayed in the NWL?

Will Kimmey: Back again for the second trip in the chat room this week. I'm hoping this will be as fun as Tuesday's Appy chat. Thanks for stopping by when you could be ducking out of work early on this Friday.

Will Kimmey: Mock would have pushed for a spot near the back of the Top 10 had he continued performing as he started out. He showed two average to above pitches in a low-90s fastball and breaking ball and an advanced feel. Plus you've got to love the guy's guts and determination. He made a few starts in college at Houston this year with like a broken bone in his leg-ankle area. That's tough.

 Q:  Ronald Roschenko from Surprise, Arizona asks:
Has Chris Carter established himself as a legitimate prospect after a subpar career at Stanford? Is he ranked lower because of his age and 1BDH not being a premium position?

Will Kimmey: He always had that rep of being a big-time power guy, even from before he entered Stanford. He never seemed to get it going there between injuries and slumps and wasn't really even a regular this past season. Seems the change of scenery did wonders for him. The biggest reason Carter falls down to this part of the rankings (and being No. 10 ain't too shabby) is a lack of defensive position. Defense certainly isn't as important as the ability to smack bombs left and right, but if you're a liability even at a developmental level it doesn't bode well. Throw that in with being in an NL organization (and I realize he could be traded to the AL at some point) and it's hard to find a long-term spot. Had he been adequate or better in the field, Carter might rank 6 or 7.

 Q:  Marcos Rodriguez from Falcon, Venezuela asks:
What mlb player woul you compare carlos Gonzalez to, how good are his tools?

Will Kimmey: The comparison I got a lot last offseason as I compiled the Diamondbacks Top 30 prospects was Bob Abreu, as both are Venezuelan. Ole Bob's one of my favorites for his all-around skill set and, that gets me excited about Gonzalez, who has similar tools. Gonzalez probably has a better arm, but doesn't have the same plate discipline.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
How careful are the Rockies going to be with Juan Morillo's development?

Will Kimmey: Morillo's a guy they really like and had actually mentioned a bit to John Manuel as a sort of sleeper before the short-season campaign began. He throws the heck out of it, but needs to find a comfort zone with his changeup if he's to start. He throws a wrecking ball of a change-piece now--it's mid-80s, which is basically where NWL strikeout leader Shawn Nottingham's fastball registers a lot of the time. Morillo's 20, so I'm betting he gets the shot to start at low A next year, but if he can't get that change going, he could be moved to a dominant end-of-the-bullpen guy with a fastball that'd be more mid- to upper-90s out of the pen and a hard slider. He'd move much quicker in that role.

 Q:  ray from san francisco asks:
could both robnett and herrera be in the a's outfield in 07..which one would be the better cf? also does suzuki or powell stay at catcher and the other becomes a 1b?

Will Kimmey: I don't really see why not. I think Herrera's OF profile, because of his speed and arm, are like Ichiro. No way he's the same kind of player, but defensively he has the arm strength to be a RF, but also the wheels to take CF. If he can play center, I think you get some sort of Carlos Beltran type performance out of him there. That's where you'd love to get the 25-30 homers and then figure out the corners. Robnett could do CF with Herrera in RF, or move to LF if the A's find a masher for RF.

Will Kimmey: Vancouver's manager Dennis Rogers thinks both Powell and Suzuki can be major league catchers. Suzuki probably will be the better defender; he just needs to clean up his receiving--he still sort of stabs at pitches back there. He can be league average and give nice offensive numbers. Some compare him to Paul Lo Duca. Powell has the tools to be adequate there, and he's more a guy you have behind the plate for his bat than his glove. But he works hard and is a strong team leader, nice qualities in a backstop and ones that could lead him to improve. If one moves, I'd guess him, and yes to first base.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
The Rockies seem to have depth at 3B with Stewart, Baker, and now Matt Macri. What can you say about Macri defensively?

Will Kimmey: He played shortstop some at Notre Dame, and league managers said he was the best defensive 3B in this league for the most part. (Yung Chen at Everett was solid as well.) The plan for Macri is to head over to 2B this offseason and see if he can get it started over there. Methinks he can; his bat would be much more potent there, where his power would be above-average for a keystone sacker. I believe the Rockies were also looking into Jeff Baker's moving to the outfield. That's how enamored they are of Stewart--and with good reason.

 Q:  Derek M. from Detroit asks:
Why don't the Cubs just cut their losses and release Luis Montanez? Any chance I'll be seeing Ryan Harvey in Lansing next year or is he going to move fast?

Will Kimmey: I'm guessing it's hard to just jettison the fourth overall pick from the 2000 draft, but sending him all the way back to short-season ball to play LF is something similar. He was a guy I was considering for the end of the list, and might make it if it went 30 deep. It's just hard to get excited about a guy who in his fourth pro summer is still in SS ball and still hasn't shown a K-BB ratio of at least 1-1. Plus, he's average defensively in LF and doesn't show the juice you'd want from that position. Harvey does. But he need not be rushed because there's still Sosa and Alou for at least another year or two with Jason Dubois and Felix Pie ahead of him. Harvey's earliest ETA would be mid 2006, and that'd be early because the Cubs have the cash and front office to plug holes with vets and not need to count on a youngster.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Everett 2B3B Yung-chi Chen may have been outshone by Asdrubal Cabrera but Chen's numbers at age 21 look good. Is he a prospect to watch?

Will Kimmey: Managers liked his defense, and Chen showed more strength than the average youngster who pops in from the Far East. He's another guy in that 21-30 range for me because despite his age (21), strength and experience (he played for Taiwan in the Olympics), he didn't show enough power to be a third baseman at more advanced levels.

 Q:  Jon Gjerde from Pomona, California asks:
How close was Mark Reynolds to making the list?

Will Kimmey: He's interesting after a solid career at Virginia as a SS. Reynolds played 3B more often than not, so we can chalk up some errors to that and well as rushing his throws. He'll also look at 2B over the offseason. Reynolds has a strong arm and the potential for a little pop. His major league value might come as an INF utility guy.

 Q:  Johnny Stevenson from Virginia asks:
What do you think of Joe Koshansky's prospects for the future - he showed some pop for Tri-City

Will Kimmey: Back to back Cavaliers here in the chat, my home state represents. Koshansky has good power, but a bit of what scouts call a slow pole. He, like Spokane's Jim Fasano--who played in college at Richmond, my hometown (yes, this is all about me)--are fairly similar in that regard. Lots of pop, not quite enough bat speed to catch up to good fastballs. So you get some HRs and plenty of Ks.

 Q:  Charlie from Portland, Maine asks:
Adam Gardner, a UFA Divison III pitcher, posted some nice numbers for Salem-Keiser: 2-0; 2.54 era; and 10.75K9IP in 49.2innings. Those numbers compare favorably with some of the more ballyhooed high draft picks and even top 20 prospects. Where does he stand in the long uphill climb from from roster filler to prospect?

Will Kimmey: You know, there are always a handful of guys who get signed from smaller schools and then go out and prove they're good enough to play at a certain level. Pat Misch did just that for this same S-K club last summer and the lefty rang up 123 K's against 35 walks in Double-A this year. The Giants are great at finding pitching all over and then developing it (Hello, Noah Lowry), so that and a fine K per 9 rate are both encouraging.

 Q:  Jack from Columbia, SC asks:
Vancouver had 4 players on your top prospect list. I saw where Kevin Melillo had a very good short season, before he was injured. He seems to be another who could also be a top prospect. What's your take on him? Thanks

Will Kimmey: I'd say prospect, but take out the top there. Jack, I'm guessing you're a Cocks fan from down in Columbia and have been following Melillo for a few years now. So you'd probably agree with the Todd Walker comparisons here: a LH hitter who's better offensively than defensively. If Frank Menechino and Marcos Scutaro have held it down at 2B for Oaktown in recent years, there really isn't a good reason Melillo can't--especially with that kick-butt face paint he always wore.

 Q:  Greg from Denver asks:
Is Steven Register's future as a starter or will the Rockies think about converting him back into a reliever? Also, Jim Miller, how good of a reliever can he be?

Will Kimmey: I think Register might turn out as a guy who was a college warhorse but ends up just shy or a major league success story. His guts and makeup are his best tools, then his location of a fastball that was 88-90 a lot as a starter. I like his stuff better as a reliever, because he can get more on his FB, and he's had trouble with his breaking ball, so maybe he'd be a FB-changeup RP. Plus his lithe figure doesn't look to me like it wants to take a 200-inning pounding each year.

Will Kimmey: Miller's numbers out in the NWL were retarded. I mean, look at all those K's--he was among the league leaders as a reliever. He's always going to be a closer, but with that gas in the mid-90s and a big time slider, he'll move quick. Being a college guy and RP, Miller could move rather quick, and hitting Double-A before the end of 2005 isn't unrealistic. Between Miller and Morillo, maybe the Shawn Chacon as closer experiment can now end.

 Q:  Damian from Fremont, CA asks:
What impression did Jason Windsor make on the A's this year, before moving up to Full Season ball?

Will Kimmey: Well, he got 15 outs in this league and needed at least 20 appearances or 25 innings to qualify for the list. Most didn't see him much here. I got to watch him dazzle a few times at the College World Series. He really competes, can locate all his pitches whenever and whereever. He's sort of a poor man's Jered Weaver and actually had better overall numbers than did Weaver over their last 12 college starts. Nice value pick. The A's knew he worked a lot of innings for Fullerton--and carped about it--so he just came out of the bullpen and plundered hitters in short order as a pro. He'll probably hop back into the rotation in '05 and really is polished and developed enough to jump to the majors in a rush-job if needed. I'm not saying he'll get there and deal, but fellow former Titans heroes Kirk Saarloos and Chad Cordero each were ready enough that early in their careers as well.

 Q:  Ben from Ashland, OH asks:
Which outfielder should be expect to see in Oakland first, Herrera or Robnett?

Will Kimmey: I'll, say Robnett. He's more polished, focused and works harder. These aren't knocks on Herrera--blame his parents for his later birthdate. But Herrera's tools outstrip Robnett's, so he'll be second to arrive but better once he does.

 Q:  Tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
Did the Giants have anyone else make an impression in the league that didn't make the Top 20?

Will Kimmey: League managers loved, and I mean LOVED, Clay Timpner. He plays really hard, has some speed and is pretty polished. The problem is that for all his varied assets, he doesn't really do much of anything a single tick above average. And he needed to really destroy this league offensively as a college junior to make the list. The best comp you might have on him is current Giants OF Dustan Mohr. Throw John Bowker in a similar boat, he's a solid LH hitter, but probably doesn't possess the juice you want in a corner OF spot.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What type of ceiling does Vern Sterry have? Is he the type of guy who could move up quickly and possibly be a middle of the rotation starter in the majors? What other prospects were at Eugene?

Will Kimmey: Matt Bush came up to late to qualify, but he'd obviously rate here. Sterry's a changeup off of changeup guy--that thing could be a 70 on the 20-80 scale. He might be tried out in the bullpen as a FB-changeup guy with no better than average velo and great command. That worked out well for the Padres before. His name is Trevor Hoffman.

 Q:  Jason McFakename from Ohio asks:
Did Colt Morton get any consideration? I know he has been a disappointment since being drafted. Where would Matt Bush have shown up on the list had he qualified.

Will Kimmey: Shoot, forgot to finish the prior question. A little quick trigger there. Morton is another guy who might be fringy. He and 1B Lochlan Dale both are similar type hitters: Tall, thin, lanky with long arms to leverage loft on pitches. The problem with that kind of swing is it gets long and you can get tied up on fastballs in and breaking balls can give you trouble if you then try to adjust to the FB. Both have massive power, but too many K's to really justify giving them ABs to show it. -->Bush would probably be before or after Tuiasosopo for me.

 Q:  Tyler E. Closson from Chico, California asks:
When the Royals drafted Chris Lubanski over Ryan Harvey in 2003, many people questioned it. Right now, who is the better prospect?

Will Kimmey: That's a cool debate, would be a good prospect matchup. Harvey's got the type of power to make a run at the HR crown in the majors, but needs to cut the K's a bit. He's probably no better than a LF. Lubanski started wicked slow at low A this year, but picked up the hitting late. His discipline at the plate isn't much better, and while he can play CF for you, some scouts didn't think his speed was very usable on the bases--so I'll lean toward the power guy here.

 Q:  Kyle Barrett from Fairfax, Va asks:
Can you give us a list of some players that were worthy of making the list but may have just missed making the cut?

Will Kimmey: I've mentioned a lot of names thus far, but another is Gregorio Petit, the SS for Vancouver. He's 20 and still needs to grasp the strikezone concept, but plays defense like you might expect a young infielder signed out of Venezuela to do so. His manager said if Petit was at a JC, he could be a top 5 round draft pick. Oswaldo Navarro, the 2B at Everett, was close as well and for similar reasons.

 Q:  Steven from Riverside, CA asks:
Will, How far is A.J Shappi away from getting to the big leagues? I saw that he was called up to the Cal league for the play-offs and even had a start in one of the play-off games. Does that mean he probably will start in High A next season?

Will Kimmey: He's a command-control guy with an above-average slider. The Diamondbacks haven't been shy about running guys up the ladder the last two years, so high A isn't totally out of the question. It probably depends a lot on how different pitching staffs shake out at each level, because they'd rather him be starting at low A than relieving at high A, obviously. He's another guy, who because of poise, polish and command, could get to the majors in shorter order, but doesn't have star-quality tools. But he can contribute, even as a RP with that slider.

 Q:  mike h. from honolulu, hi asks:
what was the consensus buzz and scouting report on kurt suzuki? hawaii baseball fans are dying to know!

Will Kimmey: Man, I'd love to switch places with you now, even if it is 72 in Durham today. We talked about Kurt Klutch's catching earlier, as for his O, he's still very pull conscious. If he can work more on using the whole field, he can be a 290 hitter with a 365 or better OBP while driving balls gap to gap for doubles power and maybe 10 homers or so per year.

 Q:  Kevin M. from New York City, NY asks:
Ryan Harvey seems to be showing the power everyone expected. But after his knee injury, how is his speed coming along? I had read that he was close to a 65-70 as a runner before hurting his knee. He's big at 6'5", but will he steal bases, and would he have enough athleticism to play in center if needed?

Will Kimmey: I don't know that you'll see him in CF ever, or stealing more than a few bases annually. He's a power hitter now, and I think you might see him keep bulking up his frame in the weight room and be a real power monger. But a left fielder, with a better than average arm for LF.

 Q:  Corky from Hattiesburg, MS asks:
How about Jud Thigpen? I know that his age probably doesn't help him, but the Rockies did invite him to instructional league, and he showed good power in his first year with the wood bat, along with making the NWL all-star team. Where do you see him at next year?

Will Kimmey: I see him slowly trying to work his way up the ladder. He seems a bit more of an organization type guy, like Brian Horwitz for S-K this year. Both enjoyed good debuts, extending the tickets for advancement. Thigpen's a scrapper who comes ready to play all the time. He's a bit short on tools, but it's hard to deny a player who can produce. If he moves to low A ASheville and produces next year, the train moves onward again. It's that simple, but he won't get as many chances as a tooled-up guy, because those types can be big stars and you don't want to give up on them. Grinders like Thigpen can evolve into solid contributors, but are easier to find that the star types. That's the whole essence of prospect watching.

 Q:  Michael from Salt Lake City asks:
Thanks for the chat!! Mike Nickeas seemed to put up some great numbers this year. Why was he rated so low? What are his weaknesses? Thanks.

Will Kimmey: He had a strong year, but his strikeout numbers were oh so high for a guy who should be a bit more advanced after playing major college baseball for three seasons at Ga. Tech. Other than that, he's decent in many phases of the game, but spectacular in none. Ceiling-wise, he's kind of on the border of regular catcher and backup.

 Q:  adam from largo asks:
ryan harvey hasn't had the start everyone around here thought he would have. Do you think he was over hyped coming out of highschool or do u think that his injuries have just put him behind schedule. His tools seem amazing but so far as a pro havn't put up the big numbers.

Will Kimmey: Dude hit 14 regular season bombs and four more in the 'offs. That's a fair share for basically his pro debut. High school players take time to develop. The injury last year cost him the chance to be in low A this year, where Lubanski played, so I don't think he's really that far off track. A good first half at low A next year could lead him to high A at midseason if the Cubs are that ambitious.

 Q:  Jeremy from Phoenix, AZ asks:
What are your thoughts re Nick Blasi? Hitting .300 with tons of walks probably pleased Kubota a good bit.

Will Kimmey: Nothing spectacular for a college guy out there. He struckout a lot more than he walked and showed virtually no power with his SLG down nearly .200 from college at Wichita State.

 Q:  Chad Goldberg from Washington, DC asks:
Will-If you had to compare the NWL to its nearest counterpart, the NY-Penn League, which league do you feel was stronger overall in 2004?

Will Kimmey: Depth-wise the NY-P wins because it has almost twice as many teams. As far as star and impact potential--I like the NWL for Herrera, Harvey, Gonzalez, Tuiasosopo, Whitaker a bit more, regardless of what my colleague Aaron Fitt says.

 Q:  michael from sterling heights asks:
you in your opinion is the highest ceiling position player and pitcher in the league? and whom do they compare to most? thanks

Will Kimmey: Here's an easy one because it's sort of the order of the list.. Herrera, whom I compared to Beltran and Whitaker, whom I don't have a great comp for.

 Q:  Mike from Tampa Bay asks:
Should we be concerned with the way Eric Hurley's season wrapped up or is can his struggles be attributed to the fact that he logged more innings than ever before ?

Will Kimmey: Nah. He could have been a bit tired. Plus, he's young and needs time to mature and get used to starting every five days. This is a high level to jump to right out of HS. Some players can handle it, but those are even more special than Hurley, who was a first-rounder himself.

 Q:  chris from ames, ia asks:
What made Clint Brannon of Spokane so good? He posted 0.59 with 58K14BB in 61 innings. Did he play too few games to be garner consideration as a top 20 prospect?

Will Kimmey: He qualified, but was on the cusp. I compared him with AJ Shappi. They're similar: location, polish. Brannon's a high 80s guy with a decent breaking ball, but his success was more related to his being able to outsmart some overagressive younger hitters. It's hard to see his stuff allowing him to continue that type of domination even next year. But a fine and meritorious season nonetheless.

 Q:  Jason from Castro Valley, CA asks:
I don't see RHP Huston Street, RHP Jason Windsor, or OF Danny Putnam on this list. Didn't they all spend some time in Vancouver for Oakland?

Will Kimmey: None of that trio played enough to qualify.

 Q:  JWB from Seattle asks:
Where would you expect Matt Tuiasosopo to be over the next year? Both organizationally and on the playing field.

Will Kimmey: He's a special talent. He's built as a SS in the mold of an A-Rod or Cal Ripken, and curse anyone who compares his future to those guys--because those are Hall of Famers. But you are still talking about a big, athletic SS who can hit for power and average. Even if he moves to 3B, you're still looking at a guy with some all-star potential. Managers were impressed by his talents. I'll wager he starts in low A and spends a year there. The Washington native won't mind Wisconsin's cold as much as other might, so he could have a fine year. Still, it was curious that if the Mariners like this guy enough to spend that kind of coin on him in the 3rd round that they didn't feel they could move Chen or Navarro or someone around so he could play the field.

 Q:  Kevin from Reston, VA asks:
Whitaker, number 4 on the list and a word hasn't been said about him. What's the book on this guy?

Will Kimmey: Good call. Don't leave the man out. He reminds me a bit of Matt Cain or Merkin Valdez earlier in their development, and that's because the Giants always go after lots of raw power arms. Then Dick Tidrow is always available for them to work with and help mold the impressionable young arms into standout prospects. Whitaker needs more consistency with his 90-95 mph heater and curveball, both of which can be plus.

 Q:  Jim Whistler from Phoenix, AZ asks:
I was wondering if you guys are going to have instructional league rosters and updates on your website. I'm trying to go out and watch some games out here in Arizona and want to see whos who. thanks for the great job you guys have always done

Will Kimmey: We don't do instructional league rosters, but do have Arizona Fall League rosters here. We'll have stats and stories from there, as well as the rest of winter ball when it gets started in Latin America.

 Q:  Fidel Castro from Havana asks:
Gracias por la charla. Exactly how much potential does Orlando Mercado have? Do you see him reaching the big leagues?

Will Kimmey: De nada. Hola, Fidel, me permite habla ingles? He's pretty solid defensively, but could grow in the maturity and attitude categories. Long term, he'll be at least as good as his dad--a career back up--and the bat could led him to a solid, not spectacular career in the majors.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Last question Will. Asdrubal Cabrera will he one day backup, replace or neither Jose Lopez? Also Shawn Nottingham looked good at times your thought on him. Later. Have a good weekend.

Will Kimmey: Can you neither Jose Lopez? Just kidding there. I can see them as somewhat similar. Cabrera is a few years away, so perhaps you get two seasons or so of Lopez then deal one or the other depending on how each progresses. I know that's no really a fair answer, but their skills are pretty even, so you're judging a short-season guy versus one already in the majors. Nottingham seems more like a back of the rotation guys because he hasn't shown too much velo, but does have a nice change he can really locate. Add in a breaking ball, and I see the potential for a No. 4. His change is very effective vs. righthanders, who his .196 against him this year with lefties batting .258. Those reverse splits are always interesting.

Will Kimmey: As James said, that's the last question folks. Gotta get my weekend on. Thanks again for all the questions.

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