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Florida State League chat With J.J. Cooper

Moderator: J.J. will begin taking your questions at 2:30. Please limit your questions to Florida State League teams and players.

Moderator: OK, we're ready to get started. Here we go, I'll try to bounce around and cover as many teams and players as we can in the time I have to do this.

 Q:  Brighid from Washington, DC asks:
How likely is it that Guzman will be moved from the SS position? He seems to be an adequate enough fielder to stick there and not have to move to 3B or the OF like Miguel Cabrera did.

J.J. Cooper: We'll start off with a question about the No. 1 prospect. The consensus of FSL observers (scouts and managers) is that Guzman has soft hands and is very steady at SS, but he doesn't have the quickness and range to be more than an average SS at best. He could probably handle the position, as long as you think his offense makes up for his defensive limitations, but he's most likely to move to 3B, possibly as soon as next year if the Dodgers have to replace the soon-to-be free agent Adrian Beltre.

 Q:  Mike from Milton, MA asks:
thanks for the chat. what are your thoughts on Daytona's Rich Hill? he seems to strike out an awful lot of batters, is he a prospect, trade bait for the cubs or a minor leaguer that can strike some guys out?

J.J. Cooper: Hill is a prospect, as he has an above-average 12-to-6 breaking ball that can be a strikeout pitch--it's a true major league curveball. He also has a major league average fastball for a lefty (87-90). But there are definite concerns about his command and his delivery that he has to work out. He's got potential, but he's not real polished yet. Because of his command questions, he could end up profiling as a reliever, but his curveballs (he throws a big-breaking one and a power curve) means that he can get righthanders out as well.

 Q:  Nate from Denver, Co asks:
Hi J.J., thanks for taking my question. Ismeal Ramirez was ranked 17th on this list despite winning MVP league honors. Is it his stuff that seperates him from the other top pitchers on this list? Whats his ceiling as a starter and where would he rank in the Blue Jays system?

J.J. Cooper: On another list, Ramirez could have easily been a top 10 talent; the Florida State League was just loaded with pitchers this year. Managers loved his makeup and his feel for pitching and his stuff is major league quality. He has a nice easy delivery and with his solid velocity (low 90s) and command of three pitches (Fastball, slider, change) he profiles as a No. 3 starter if he continues to develop.

 Q:  John from St. Catharines asks:
Hello JJ How close did Vito Chiaravalloti, Raul Tablado, Carlo Cota and Ron Davenport come to making the top 20. Are any of them prospects and who’s got a chance to make it to the majors? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Ok, two Blue Jays questions in a row. Tablado was in that group of guys just off of the top 20. There are a lot of questions about whether he can play SS at higher levels, but he showed enough power to slide over to 3b. Some managers and scouts worried about his ability to hit a good fastball, but others thought he could end up being a slugging 30 home run guy in the majors down the road. He was viewed as one of the more high risk, but high reward guys in the league. He could end up plateauing at Double-A because of concerns about his ability to handle good pitching, but he also could end up as a Tony Batista-type, but with better plate discipline. As far as Chiaravalloti, managers liked his batting eye and his ability to mash breaking balls, but they felt he could be beaten by good pitching. Several managers said he won't swing at anything out of the zone, but they felt that you could beat him by pounding him with good fastballs. Scouts and managers saw Davenport and Cota as Triple-A-level guys who may end up as backup major leaguers.

 Q:  Carlos from Mebane NC asks:
What was the level of support for Matt Murton and what's his ETA to the bigs?

Moderator: Murton got some support. He showed solid pull-power, he can hit a breaking ball, has a solid approach at the plate and he runs well, especially for a big guy. But there were some concerns. He will probably be limited to left field, where he'll have to mash to be a major league starter. Some profiled him as a starting left fielder, while others thought he would end up as a very good fourth OF with the ability to contribute at the major league level. As far as an ETA, tough to call, I wouldn't predict 2005, but once a guy gets to Double-A, it's largely a matter of the player making a step forward, and an opportunity arising at the big leagues, so it's hard to call.

 Q:  Mike from Levittown asks:
What is the major league potential of Brett Harper? Does he have enough power? How is his defense?

J.J. Cooper: Few guys I talked to didn't have a strong opinion about Harper, but those opinions were all over the board. A few guys thought he was a potential top-20 talent because of his ability to hit for average (he has an above .300 average for his minor league career) while showing solid power . But others view him as a pinch hitter at best at the major league level who swings almost from his heels to get his power. He has a lot of work to do defensively, and he struggled when he moved up to Double-A. Defensively he's projects as a DH and backup 1B right now who will have to work to improve to be an everyday 1B.

 Q:  Nate from Denver, CO asks:
A lot of lefties made this list.. Mike Hinckley could possibly be the expos top pitching prospect. What seperates him from say, Scott Olsen?

J.J. Cooper: With Everts injury, Hinckley is almost assuredly the Expos top pitching prospect, and he's one of the better lefty prospects in baseball. Ceiling is what separates him from Olsen. Hinckley is more likely to reach his ceiling, but he projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, which is still really good. Olsen has one of those rare arms that means he could project as a No. 1 if he puts it all together. He's less likely to reach that ceiling right now, as he's more raw than Hinckley (and a year and a half younger), but when he's on, he could potentially be a rotation ace with a 94-95 mph fastball and a power slider.

 Q:  wally crow from shreveport asks:
Eric Abreu struck out nearly two men per inning in the NYPL before arriving late in the season at Tampa, where he also seemed to dominate. Would be interested in your evaluation of Abreu. Might he have made the Top 10 with more innings pitched? Also, how would you assess Edwardo Sierra?

J.J. Cooper: Sorry, but Abreu's stint in the FSL was way too short to have him even pop up on the watch list, with 17 innings almost no one got a chance to see him. Sierra's an interesting guy to watch, and he did get a lot of consideration (he was on my top 20 at one point). Sierra has two potentially plus pitches with a 95 mph fastball and an 89-90 mph split. But he has command issues, which can cause him to run into problems. The split is only effective if he is getting his fastball over, and there are times when he can't. When that happens, hitters can simply wait him out and draw walks. He worked on adding a slider this year to give him another pitch he can throw for strikes, but he still has a long ways to go to develop that pitch into an average-offering. If he gets his command issues worked out, he could be a major league closer or at least a setup man, but then, there are a lot of guys who that can be said for.

 Q:  Casey from Albany, NY asks:
Billingsley ahead of Kazmir and Olsen already?! What kind of ceiling does this kid have, and who does he best compare to in the majors? How does he compare to fellow Dodgers pitching phenoms Greg Miller & Edwin Jackson?

J.J. Cooper: Yeah, ranking the top pitchers in the FSL was both fun and aggravating. Kazmir is a guy who is already showing flashes of dominance at the major league level, while Olsen has nearly as good an arm as Kazmir with a better frame. When you're talking about the differences between these guys, we're nitpicking, but Billingsley impressed with his plus stuff and feel for pitching. His walks were a little higher than you would like, but managers and scouts felt he already has solid command, so it shouldn't be a big issue. Injuries meant that Kazmir didn't give many managers in the FSL a good luck at his true ability, while Olsen is the rawest of the three. He has a high ceiling, but he also has the furthest to go as far as demonstrating consitency and poise on the mound.

 Q:  Mike from Merrimack, NH asks:
How badly did Brent Clevlen hurt his prospect rating w his performance this season?

J.J. Cooper: Clevlen definitely didn't do himself any favors. He had a year he'd probably like to forget. He became way too tentative at the plate, watching hittable pitches go by. He stopped looking to drive the ball and became an easy out as he seemed to lose confidence for large stretches of the season. Next year will be the test for him, as he still has solid tools, but he has to put 2004 behind him. He did show some solid signs of regaining his aggressiveness and swing in September, when he hit .272, so there is a ray of hope.

 Q:  Chris from Bronx asks:
Bronson Sardinha had a good season for Tampa before being promoted to Trenton. Was he anywhere close to making the list of 20?

J.J. Cooper: Sardinha bounced back at the plate in his stint in the FSL this year, and he again showed great athleticism. But despite that, there are still questions about where he will end up defensively. He has a great-looking stroke at the plate, but he has to show he can stay focused at all times. Considering the talent that made the top 20, he wasn't really sitting at that 20-25 list, but this was a year where the FSL had 35-40 guys I wouldn't have minded ranking, and he could have slipped somewhere on that list.

 Q:  Adam from NYC asks:
What are your thoughts on some of the best relievers in the FSL this year and their prospects?

J.J. Cooper: Edwardo Sierra was the league's best reliever according to managers. But the best reliever in the majors from this group could come from a group of current starters. Joel Zumaya's violent delivery and command questions could lead him to move to the pen, where his high-90s fastball could become devastating. Another Lakeland pitcher, Humberto Sanchez, also has command questions but dominating stuff when he's on.

 Q:  Aaron Friesen from Altona, Manitoba, Canada asks:
What is the main reason for Chad Billingsley ranking higher than Scott Kazmir? They seem to have similar stuff but Kazmir is lefthanded and has shown the ability to shut down top Major League hitters at times.

J.J. Cooper: Kazmir was very hard to rank on this list, because while we're ranking future ceiling and likelihood of reaching that ceiling, you also have to base it at least somewhat on what guys in the league saw. Kazmir wasn't the real Kazmir for most of his time in the FSL. He was battling a rib muscle injury that sapped his velocity and command, so most guys in the league saw him at 91-93 with good stuff, when he's back to sitting at 95 with plus stuff now. Long-term, I'll take both of them, as both could be all-stars.

 Q:  Ricky Overman from Efland, North Carolina asks:
I just read the top 20 prospects from the FSL, on baseball america, I was really surprised not to see Chris Maples name on the list from Lakeland Tigers, he was fifth in overall offense stats in the FSL. led the tigers in runs, RBI's doubles and Homeruns, had only 5 errors while playing 3 different positions, seems someone has missed the boat on this guy, also has above average arm, runs well and was 6th round pick in 2002.

J.J. Cooper: Maples had a solid year, but as a 25-year-old playing in the FSL, he was old for the league. He put up solid numbers, but in a league as stacked as the FSL was this year, he didn't get any support as a top 20 prospect.

 Q:  Nate from Denver, CO asks:
Whats the time table on Jon "The Bull" Broxton? How good is his stuff? Is his weight really that much of a concern considering the success of other hefty pitchers(i.e. colon, wells, etc.)?

J.J. Cooper: Broxton's stuff rates pretty close to Billingsley's although Billingsley has better command at this time. The weight is a concern because some observers thought that he tired at times, which sapped his fastball velocity.

 Q:  David Laurila from Cambridge, MA asks:
I was surprised not to see Matt Murton on the top-20 list. At .301-11-55, he did not disappoint after being rated as Boston's #5 prospect coming into the season. And although they are different types of players, his numbers were arguably better than Pie's -- including 52 less K's. What kept him off the list?

J.J. Cooper: You hit on the big thing, they're different kind of players. Pie projects as a speedy CF with enough pop to not be a slap hitter. Murton projects as a left fielder, which means that he has to show a ton more offensive production to stick. Add into that the fact that Pie is 3 and a half years younger than Murton, and that explains the difference. Murton would have ranked in the 20-25 area of the list if we went that far.

 Q:  Mike Dickinson from Richmond, Va asks:
How much does playing in the FSL hurt a hitters power numbers? I have heard that most the parks are huge compared to the other A leagues because they are major league spring training parks so that pitchers get a boost from playing in huge parks and hitters get a few homeruns taken away from them.

J.J. Cooper: Year-in and year-out, the FSL is a pitcher's league because of the ballparks and the weather. But while that is true (.300 is a fine average in the FSL), this year that was exagerrated by the number of pitching prospects in the FSL.

 Q:  UK from Spring Grove, IL asks:
You have Felix Pie listed among a solid group of prospects, he made some obvious improvements as far as his power numbers over last year in the MWL. Do you think he is trying to pull more pitches for power enough to not be considered in the mold of Juan Pierre?

J.J. Cooper: I don't think Pie has to worry about being compared to Pierre. He isn't that fast for one thing, although he is speedy, but he projects as a guy who should at least have gap power as he matures. Kenny Lofton's name was floated around as a comp by several people, although Pie hasn't yet shown that much OBP potential.

 Q:  Tony from San Antonio asks:
Where are all the Cubs pitchers? Also, what can you tell me about Pie?

J.J. Cooper: Already talked about Pie, but I'll hit on a couple of Cubs' pitchers. Andy Sisco had a year to forget. He lost velocity and arm speed that meant he was all of a sudden pitching at 87-89 while he also lost the feel for his split and slider. He was getting by solely on guts at some points in the season, although some work by the Cubs pitching coaches improved his delivery late in the year to where he was touching 92 again. Richar Hill has solid stuff, but command questions. Angel Guzman didn't pitch enough innings in the FSL to qualify.

 Q:  Metro from NYC asks:
While I realize the STL Mets did not have many premier prospects, do you see anyone on that team with major league potential? Deaton? Is Turay done being a prospect? How about Shane Hawk and Bannister?

J.J. Cooper: Petit has definite major league potential and is close to premier prospect status. And Lastings Milledge is an elite prospect, although he didn't qualify for this list because of limited at-bats. Bannister is an interesting guy who already knows how to pitch despite the fact that he's raw as a pitcher. I'd also throw out Matt Lindstrom, as while he's too old because of a two-year mission trip, he still has a potentially elite-level arm that can sit in the high-90s. He has a long way to go, but it's hard to give up on an arm like that.

 Q:  Terry R. from Minneapolis, MN. asks:
If Alex Romero's late-season power surge (.500+ slg after late July) was real, would he rate above Pie & Hermida? Thanks for chatting!

J.J. Cooper: Romeo didn't really impress anyone as having plus power, but everyone was impressed with his solid-average tools across the board. There's not any one thing that Romero does that stands out, but he does almost everything pretty well. He would have come in that 25-30 range.

 Q:  Roger Dorn from Cleveland asks:
You wrote that there are "bigger questions" about Jeremy Hermida's power potential. I was a little concerned too until I saw that Shawn Green hit 5 homers combined in his first two minor league seasons, and never hit more than 16 until 7 years after he was drafted. He should be able to eventually get at least 30 jacks annually out of that swing, don't you think? And is it the sweetest swing in the minors?

J.J. Cooper: Yeah, that's true with Shawn Green, but it's also true that Sean Burroughs was projected to eventually develop power as well (he still could, but nowadays few believe that he will). Hermida should develop power, but as a corner OF, he'll have to show it, as he currently has a .399 career slugging percentage. It's not a big knock, but it's a question for him right now, one of the few for a guy who does have a great swing.

 Q:  Fabian from minoryankeeblog.blogspot.com asks:
You said that Duncan was one of the best power bats in the FSL and I would take it further and say he is one of the best power bats in the minors. What do you see his offensive potential as?

J.J. Cooper: Guys threw out Hank Blalock as a comp. He's got a chance to be a very good one, although he's more likely to eventually do it as a 1B than a 3B.

 Q:  Bob Brucato from Oceanside, CA asks:
How close was Andy Sisco? He would have to be a disapointment this year, right? Is Sing a prospect or an organizational guy? He put some great numbers on the board. Thanks!

J.J. Cooper: I just talked about Sisco a minute ago. Sing's year makes him some sort of a prospect. He was repeating the league, and he has defensive questions, but he did enough this year to earn a chance to prove he can do it again in Double-A next year. In the crowded Cubs 1B prospect ranks he still ranks behind Dopirak, but he put himself on the radar. Managers like the way he handled being pitched around without losing his patience. There are some concerns about whether he can keep it up as the pitching improves at higher levels.

 Q:  Mike Flaherty from NYC asks:
A week or two ago, John Manuel said that Scott Olsen has the most upside of any lefty in the minors - do you agree?

J.J. Cooper: As much upside? Can probably agree with that. He's a little riskier than some other lefties out there as far as the likelihood of reaching his potential, but he has a great arm.

 Q:  C. Wiggam from Springfield asks:
Hello, J.J.! How close was Jon Connolly to the top 20? Back-to-back seaons all he's done is stay healthy and get people out, while being young for his league; where is the l-o-v-e?

J.J. Cooper: Would have loved to put Jon Connolly in the top 20. He's a personal favorite since he popped up on radar screens last year in the Midwest League. Two ERA titles in a row is nothing to sneeze at, and he oozes pitchability. Connolly simply knows how to pitch, but with his 86-87 mph heater, he'll have to prove at each level that he can continue to get guys out. He'll get a chance in Double-A to keep proving it next year.

 Q:  Nick from LA asks:
Its probably splitting hairs but given the choice between the 2 best HS righties from last years draft Chad Billingsley and Adam Miller who would you take ? On Billinglsey, for a guy with his stuff and command he did walk a lot of batters, was it a case of him trying to be too fine with his pitches ? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: I'd take Miller, but that's like choosing between Scrubs and the Simpsons, you're not going wrong either way.

 Q:  UK from Spring Grove, IL asks:
Has Buck Coats continued to slide under the radar as one of the most underrated in the FSL? He has raised his avg. to .290, increased his HR total to 8, cut his errors by 15 to 36, and is a very solid and effective baserunner as a SS.

J.J. Cooper: Coats did get some support. He wasn't close to making this list, but again, it's hard to make the FSL top 20 this year. But managers thought he has a solid swing, a good approach and can play SS. He's got a chance.

 Q:  Jason from St. Louis asks:
Do you think Joel Guzman is overrrated a bit? I agree the guy looks like a monster, but I wonder if his strike-zone judgement, which is at least adequate, will catch up with him at higher levels. And this talk of him being ready for the major leagues at the beginning of next year seems to be a bit premature.

J.J. Cooper: I think he probably need a little more polish, especially if he moves to 3B next year, but no, I don't think he's overrated. His strikeout rate isn't great, but it's also not awful, and he has all the tools.

 Q:  Aaron from The Island asks:
Assuming that Eric Duncan repeats the FSL, and excluding Joel Guzman...Who will have the best offensive output at AA next year: Hanley Ramirez, Felix Pie, or Jeremy Hermida?

J.J. Cooper: I'll take Hermida, but I think Ramirez is most likely to make the majors next year.

 Q:  Dave from Ga asks:
Most projectable MLB power hitter: Eric Duncan or Joel Guzman?

J.J. Cooper: Guzman, but Duncan's numbers may look better if Guzman's hitting at Dodger Stadium. Both could be special hitting prospects.

 Q:  Niel from Brooklyn,NY asks:
Why did Eric Duncan make two list, the Midwest League & FSL? What happened to Andy Brown former Yankees #1 from 1998. Is he finished? Is Tommy Winrow still a prospect?

J.J. Cooper: To qualify for a list, all you have to do is play in 1/3 of that team's games, so Duncan qualified for both lists by playing half seasons in both leagues.

 Q:  Eric from San Diego asks:
J.J., just how loaded were the Vero Beach Dodgers?

J.J. Cooper: Pretty stacked. Russ Martin, the Vero catcher, and Mike Megrew, a lefty pitcher, also received support in addition to placing four guys on the top 20.

 Q:  Alex King from State College PA asks:
Didany Clearwater Phillies come close to making the list?

J.J. Cooper: Alfredo Simon (who's now a Giant) got some support, as he has solid stuff. Elizardo Ramirez and Chris Roberson also impressed. Roberson is like Alex Romero, in that he does a lot of things pretty well, although I'd probably rank Romero a tick higher. Ramirez has an average fastball, curve and change, but plus command, which give him a chance.

 Q:  Ray Kinsella from Iowa asks:
Melky Cabrera made the Midwest top 20, but not here despite stepping up his power production - stiffer competition? The scouting report there said he had 18-20 homer potential and the last Prospect Handbook called him the best defensive outfielder in the Yankees system - would that make him a poor man's Mark Kotsay?

J.J. Cooper: Cabrera ran into the tough competition. At least one manager predicted he could end up winning a batting title one day. Kotsay isn't a bad comp. He was in the 25-30 range.

 Q:  A Florida Gator from Atlanta, Georgia asks:
JJ, what is the biggest difference between Guzman and Giarratano? Are they separated by much in your opinion? Who is likely to have the better career down the road? Thanks and keep up the good work!!!

J.J. Cooper: Guzman and Girratano are different kind of players even though they both play SS. Girratano is a top of the order guy who impressed with a heady approach and good speed, while Guzman projects as a middle of the order guy with rare tools. Guzman is more of a power guy than Girratano. Girratano has a bright future, but Guzman has a very rare combination of tools.

 Q:  Josh from St. Pete, FL asks:
How can Delwyn Young, ranked by BA as having the second best season of any minor league 2B, be only the #18 prospect in the FSL? This guy continues to get zero love from BA. Last year he out hit and out slugged B.J. Upton in the SAL (and led the league in XBH) and this season he hit 22 HR, an amazing total for a middle infielder in the very spacious FSL parks.

J.J. Cooper: Hmmm, so you say we at BA ranked him as our second team All-Star, but we at BA don't give him any love? How does that work? Young had a great season, and he's definitely a solid prospect, ranking 18th on this list isn't a sign that you're a scrub. Young put up very solid numbers, the knock on him is that he might have to end up moving to a less demanding position defensively, which could make him a little less of a prospect. If he can stick at 2B and prove he can handle the position, he can be a very good prospect, as a corner OF, he's a solid prospect.

 Q:  James from Long Island asks:
Aarom Baldris is he a edgarado alfonzo clone and I think he needs to switch to 2nd base to be a prospect the mets look at.Also does Turay have good potential what is his outlook.

J.J. Cooper: Baldiris has done everything at every stop except for hit for power. There are some concerns that he will never develop power, which makes it tough to make it as a Mets 3B (Wright already blocks that path, while Shawn Bowman behind him is a nice prospect as well). Unfortunately, Baldiris' kind of thick lower half leads to questions about whether he could handle 2B. For now, it seems like the Mets are happy to let him continue to hit his way up the ladder, a position switch is still a possibility, but there are a lot of questions about whether he could handle a middle infield spot. Right now, he profiles to me as more of a Dave Magadan type.

 Q:  Bill from (Chicago) asks:
Why do you downgrade prospects for not having power when it is more difficult to find a good slap hitting leadoff hitter with a high OBP than a power hitter? It seems to me that a good leadoff hitter has as much impact on an offense than a 30 HR player.

J.J. Cooper: Partly because a complete lack of power leads to concerns that a guy will get blown away by power pitchers as he moves up the ladder. There are always a couple of guys who can handle major league pitching without any power, but a ton of those guys also flame out or plateau in Triple-A (see Jason Tyner and Jackie Rexrode for two examples). I think the toughest thing to project is which of the number of high OBP, low tools and little power guys will make it to the majors. It's an interesting question, and I'm not dismissing it, but those are my thoughts.

 Q:  john from New York, NY asks:
Why was Yusmeiro Petit so low on the list? He was 5 in a better prospect pool IMO in the Sally league. Looking at all of the top 20's it just seems that there are a majority of guys who throw heat and have much worse control and are highly rated.

J.J. Cooper: Petit ran into a surplus of pitching talent. He's a tough case. In some ways, I see the argument for him being one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, as he had great numbers. But we rank on a combo of ceilinglikelihood of reaching that ceiling. While Petit has solid commandstuff, his stuff is not as good as the guys ahead of him on that list--his fastball is solid, but he doesn't yet have a second pitch that compares. If his slider was equal to his fastball (which eventually may prove true), than he would be ranked higher. But being the seventh best pitcher in the FSL this year doesn't mean he doesn't rank among the better pitchers in baseball, it was a great year for pitching in the FSL.

 Q:  Eric from San Diego asks:
J.J., where did Mike Megrew place in your rankings.

J.J. Cooper: Right off the edge...he's a guy who knows how to pitch with solid stuff.

 Q:  Charlie Murphy from LA asks:
If Ismael Ramirez has such "a feel for pitching, great makeup and command of solid stuff," why is he still in A-ball six years after signing?

J.J. Cooper: He was signed our of Venezuela, so while he's been a pro for six years, he's still 23...that's not young for the league, but for a pitcher it's not enough to disqualify him. Pitchers can "get it" after struggling for years, which makes it tougher to rank them, but also tougher to give up on them.

 Q:  Paul from Tigerscentral.com asks:
Your comments about Lakeland's Kyle Sleeth also mentioned Tiger pitchers Humberto Sanchez and Joel Zumaya. How close did they get to the top 20, especially with age being on Zumaya's side?

J.J. Cooper: Zumaya and Sanchez both have command questions and a long ways to go. But when they're on, both can be pretty special. They were in the 20-30 group.

 Q:  Timothy from Santa Fe, NM asks:
As a Red Sox fan, the new question for us is always why some of our top performance guys are not on the lists, and usually it is because they don't have the tools to go with the performance. Could you clear up where players like Jeremy West, Matt Murton (if we still had him), David Murphy and Manny Delcarmen would have ranked, approximately, since they missed the top tier of tools guys? Thanks for handling our questions today, J.J.

J.J. Cooper: Murton nearly made the list. Injuries made it hard to get a read on Delcarmen. West got a little support, but I don't think anyone pushed him for top 20 consideration. Managers though that West will have to prove he can do it at each stop up the ladder, as his tools are less impressive. Murphy didn't get much consideration, but he struggled a little bit this year, which didn't exactly make him stand out in manager's minds.

 Q:  Jeff from Connecticut asks:
How could Guzman be ranked ahead of Hanley if he is an average fielder? Hanley is not that far behind offensively if he is at all.

J.J. Cooper: Guzman is sure-handed, but undoubtedly, Hanley has better range. However, Guzman's bat does rank ahead of Hanley's right now, and when you project down the road, Guzman could be a 40 home run guy, while Ramirez could be an offensive SS. Guzman did just slug .550 in the FSL. Admittedly, Hanley battled injuries, but he's yet to show that kind of power. That's not a knock against Hanley, but it is a reason that Guzman ranked higher.

 Q:  Todd from Iowa asks:
I was dissapointed not to see Alex Romero of the Twins crack the top 20. After an abysmal start he hit .328 over the last 12 of the season and finished with more walks than strikeouts. Not bad for a player who didn't turn 21 until after the season was over! I love the chats!

J.J. Cooper: Romero got some support, again this was a list where not making the top 20 doesn't mean you're not a prospect. Being No. 30 on this list would make you a decent prospect.

 Q:  Jarod Bona from San Diego, CA asks:
What kind of potential does Francisco Liriano have with the Twins? Is he a number 2 or 3 starter if he stays healthy? Will he make the Twins top 10?

J.J. Cooper: If he's healthy, he could be very good. I've got to defer on whether he's a Twins top 10er (that's something you'll find out in upcoming months), but if everything breaks right, one manager said he could be a Johan Santana-type. The question is health, as this was the first year that he hasn't battled injuries.

 Q:  Luke Taber from newbury , ma asks:
Do you thing hanley ramirez will be a major league caliber ss or will he move to 2b?

J.J. Cooper: He's a SS, at least according to everyone who saw him in the FSL. No one suggested moving him.

 Q:  Steve Davis from Des Moines asks:
Was Angel Guzman considered for this list?

J.J. Cooper: 30 IP isn't enough to qualify.

 Q:  George from Maine asks:
Matt DeSalvo was striking out batters at a high rate and had also kept his WHIP just slightly over 1.00 before a promotion to Trenton (where he was sidelined with back injuries). What kind of consideration did he get for the Top 20?

J.J. Cooper: DeSalvo didn't miss by much. He got a lot of consideration, but one knock against him is that once he moved up to Double-A, he ran into plenty of troubles. That didn't disqualify him, but it didn't help, as he just barely didn't make the list.

 Q:  Rob from NY, NY asks:
I've seen Francisco Liriano pitch. It's says in the top 20 capsule that he has a violent delivery. I didn't really see that. Do you think with the added physical training that he's doing that he will be able to end up a starter who could throw 200 innings a year?

J.J. Cooper: Scouts though there were still a couple of concerns, although he shows a very live arm. The question is whether he's put the injuries behind him, which is hard to project.

 Q:  Tommy from Vero Beach, FL asks:
How can you not rank Russell Martin in the top 20. He was the best catcher in the league and is a Paul LoDuca-type catcher.

J.J. Cooper: Martin didn't miss the list by much, it's again, just the caliber of the list. He impressed with his work behind the plate and a solid approach at the plate.

 Q:  George from Clemson, SC asks:
Will Bronson Sardinha hit for enough power to hold down third base or will he be like a left handed Aaron Boone?

J.J. Cooper: I think there are bigger questions about whether he'll stay at 3B. I'm not ready to give him an Aaron Boone comp, there still are some questions about Sardinha's bat and defense. Sardinha's fielding percentage at Tampa was .865. It was .831 in Double-A.

 Q:  MM from Tampa asks:
Where would Cole Hamels have placed if he didn't get hurt? Scouts at least had a chacne to see him late last season and early this season. How high is Mike Megrew's ceiling, and how much would this change if he get his fastball into the low-to-mid 90's range some day? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Hamels didn't pitch enough to get an idea of how to project him this year. No one could get a read on him, it's not possible to play the hypothetical rank him as if he wasn't hurt. Megrew's ceiling is as a solid back of the rotation starter (which is a pretty impressive projection). If he could bump up the fastball velocity, he would improve that projection.

 Q:  Barnes from St. Louis, MO. asks:
Thoughts on Palm Beach's Catcher Jason Motte.

J.J. Cooper: Very good defensively, but you've got to hit a little to make the big leagues, even as a backup catcher. Motte has a .192 career BA and slugged below .200 this year.

 Q:  Joe C from Boston asks:
What is the time frame for Delwyn Young? He seems to have good hitting ability, but poor discipline. Why is he so low on your list if he was 2nd team all minor leagues????

J.J. Cooper: I think you're confusing the nature of the lists. Delwyn Young was listed as second team All-Minor Leagues, as having the second best season among minor league second baseman (age relative to league) for this year. That's based solely on their performance this year. The Top 20 FSL list projects their future potential as a major league, which means a guy who hit .254 like Eric Duncan can make the list because of what he projects to do down the road.

 Q:  Kyle from Minneapolis, MN asks:
Does Lakeland's Joel Zumaya have what it takes to be a frontline starter?

J.J. Cooper: With his delivery and lack of secondary pitches, most observers projected him as a reliever down the road.

 Q:  Sidd Finch from Tibet asks:
Are people afraid that Jon Connolly is the next John Stephens?

J.J. Cooper: It's always a concern with a soft-tosser, for every Jamie Moyer there are John Stephens pitching in Triple-A. Connolly could make it, but it's harder to project him than a Scott Olsen who shows less results but better stuff.

 Q:  Nick from NYC asks:
Hi JJ, great chat. This past summer it was reported that Matt Lindstrom of the St Lucie hit 99mph on the gun, but he usually sits in the mid 90’s. However, he doesn’t put up big strike out numbers? Given the Mets RECKLESS trading of prospects recently, do you think this kid has a chance to hit the bigs before he is dealt for some back end of the rotation starter with a bum arm? Regards, Nick

J.J. Cooper: Lindstrom shows great radar gun readings, but also proves that radar gun readings alone don't mean much. Because of his delivery and how he sometimes fails to get much extension, it is an easier pitch to pick up than Yusmeiro Petit's fastball, even though Petit's fastball is 7-8 mph slower. But Mets officials still think he could be a top notch arm if they can get him to throw with full extension. It's also pretty straight right now, so it doesn't get the K's that a fastball with late life does.

 Q:  John Andrews from Minnetonka asks:
How do you project Twins pitcher Fransico Lirano to the big leagues? Did he even qualify for Florida State League or is he in the Eastern League rankings?

J.J. Cooper: He ranks in the top 20 in the FSL, it's in the list on the front page right now.

 Q:  Ben from Washington DC asks:
How about the Expos three pitchers who appeared in the FSL this year? Hinckley was in the top ten...but what about Rasner? A second round pick...how high of a ceiling does he have? Everts just had TJ surgery. Thanks for these chats.

J.J. Cooper: There were some concerns that Rasner wore down as the season went along. He seemed to have better stuff early in the season than he did late in the year.

 Q:  Theo E. from Baaston, MA asks:
Hey, J.J.! Dustin Pedroia & Brandon Moss had enough FSL games to qualify for the list, but couldn't make the top 20? Is that right? If this is so, do you personally have *any* input at all into the list (you certainly seem knowledgable enough), or is the top 20 simply & exclusively a polling of FSL managers, scouts, coaches? Thanks for your time.

J.J. Cooper: Nope neither Pedroia or Moss had enough gamesat-bats to qualify. I try to assemble what the experts tell me. Professional scouts and managers have a lot more expertise than I do with this. My input is largely to assemble, collate and then rank it.

 Q:  jupiter fan from jupiter asks:
do you hate all the hammerheads except for hermida and olsen? what's the deal, those other four guys in the rotation are studs too.

J.J. Cooper: Hate? Wow...No hate at all. Actually Kensing got some support. Heavy 93-94 mph fastball, can throw it to both sides of the plate, knows how to pitch and had a good slider. He struggles when working from the stretch right now, which is a concern, but he projects to be a good one down the road.

Moderator: I've got to wrap this up and go back to writing stuff for the next issue. Thanks for all the questions, sorry I couldn't answer all of them.

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