Phillies Chat with Will Kimmey
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Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your Phillies questions at 2:30 p.m. ET

 Q:  Jeff L. from Sewell NJ asks:
The Reading club seemed to really played below expectations, even with Floyd and Howard. On the plus side was the emergence of Carlos Ruiz, who really seemed to develop this year. On the down side, there appeared to be a drop off in the numbers from Keith Bucktrot and Rob Tejeda? Where do Bucktrot and Ruiz stack up as prospects? Thanks for your insights!

Will Kimmey: First off, thanks for stopping by. We're back live from Durham after dispersing to various parts of the globe for Festivus activities. Let's talk some Phils.

Will Kimmey: Ruiz has always battled nagging injuries or the stigma that he was an organizational backup. He got his first regular time this year and set career highs in nine offensive categories, none more eye-opening than his 17 home runs, which nearly matched his career output. He's always been a solid defender, and now looks online to perhaps succeed Mike Lieberthal, whom the Phillies can buy out in 2006 by paying $1.5 million rather than $7.5 million for the full year. Ruiz just missed the top 10.

Will Kimmey: Bucktrot is one of the typical radar gun guys who has all the stuff, a mid-90s fastball and hard biting slider, but never got the command aspect of his game down. He struggled during the regular season, but rose in the organization's eyes by making progress in that area during the Arizona Fall League. He's a top 15 guy.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Will, hope you had a great holiday. Does Gavin Floyd's decreased velocity worry the Phils front office? Where do you think Gavin will open the season and who would you compare his skill set to? Thanks!

Will Kimmey: Browning, I remember when Mel Kiper liked you better than Brett Favre as a QB prospect coming out of college in 1991. Sorry things didn't work out the same for you, but heck you did more than Dan McGwire, brother of Mark, and the first QB taken that year. On to the question, Floyd was tired late and his velocity dropped. But over the last season or two, Floyd really has proven that he works more in that 89-91 range moreso than at 93. That's a difference of maybe a grade or a half-grade, but still tangible. They want him to get stronger, especially in his lower half, so he has the stamina to get through a whole season of 30-plus starts. His total package really reminds people of that of Brett Myers: low-90s fastball, hammer curve and struggles to locate his offerings at times. Floyd, however, is much more laid back than Myers.

 Q:  Brad from Springfield, MO asks:
Hey, Will. Thanks for taking the Q's. Gavin Floyd received just as favorable scouting reports this year than in years past, yet, you dropped him from a #1 starter in '02 to a #2 or #3 starter in '04. Consider his changeup is still developing and getting better, why is he no longer projected as a #1? Also, if Ryan Howard plays in AAA again, won't they run into the same thing next year? And every year after until Thome's contract is up? By then, Howard will be 29 and they will have wasted 4 years, so that's not an option...why don't the Phillies ship Howard right now while his value is as high as it can get (even if teams won't give up a ton for him)? Last question...who's faster: Michael Bourn or Joey Gathright?

Will Kimmey: A former CWS participant will always get his questions answered by BA's new college guy. Second question first, because it address Floyd's status: Howard more passed Floyd than Floyd dropped. Howard, minor and major league numbers combined, hit as many homers as Adrian Beltre--meaning no one playing pro baseball anywhere hit more. That's loud. The Phils have been trying to move Howard, and tried really hard at the deadline last July. The problem is that teams realize that the Phillies really need to deal him, and that finding a first baseman capable of hitting 25 home runs is a bit easier than filling other holes, like pitching and the middle infield and catching. So they won't pay the top dollar the Phillies want, and the Phils aren't inclined to trade him at a large discount. His value is in the eye of the beholder, and teams seem more willing to move a player from another position to first, or sign a free agent (Eric Munson anyone) rather than give up players for Howard.

Will Kimmey: Finishing Floyd, he's probably not going to be a No. 1. How many of those are there anyway? Sixteen in the whole major leagues. He projects as a solid 3, or at best a 2 right now. Better command across the board, and getting some velocity back on the heater could lead him to emerge in that category. But a 2-3 isn't bad.

Will Kimmey: I'll take Gaithright over anyone in a race, but I like Bourn plenty more as a player. He can hit, hit with some pop, throws much better and is an excellent outfielder. That's 4-1, Bourn if you're scoring at home.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
What's up with Tim Moss? He came in at #22 last year for the Phillies, but did he make it into the top 30 this season?

Will Kimmey: Moss still struggles in a lot of areas, especially with his fielding mechanics and actions. His fundamentals are as a raw as a player who came from low-level high school competition, not one who won at national championship at Texas. He's got great speed and quick hands, but strength is also an issue. A season and a half out of college, Moss needs to show more in those areas, as well as strike zone discipline, to stay on the list. He's in the 30-40 range now, actually.

 Q:  Thomas Magnum from Honolulu, HI asks:
Will, what are the reports on Cole Hamels? Is he healthy and if so, where will he open the season? Is he still on the fast track if the injuries are in his rearview mirror?

Will Kimmey: The Phillies said Hamels looked fine this fall in a few instructional league bullpens. I still have a hard time finding five minor league lefties I'd rather have than Hamels right now. His changeup and poise are major league caliber, and we saw with him punching out Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Tony Clark in order back in the spring. If he's at 100 percent this spring, and there's no reason to think he won't be. Double-A would be a fast-track start, and not out of the question. There's an outside shot he could reach the majors by the end of the year, but more likely Triple-A will be his top level this year, and that might be pushing it some.

 Q:  Dan from Philadelphia asks:
Is Scott Mitchenson going to gain any velocity on his pitches?

Will Kimmey: That's the hope, if you work or root for the Phillies. Today, incidentally, is his 20th birthday, so time is on his side. He added about 5 mph in the last year, and I don't see that jump coming again, but he could settle into that low-90s range. Still, it's his command that wins the day, and the games, for him.

 Q:  JE from Virginia asks:
Hi Will. In 2004, Scott Mathieson, maybe more so than any other Phillies minor leaguer, established himself as a legitimate prospect. This may not be a fair question to ask, but looking even further into the future, who, if anybody, do you think will make a similar jump in stature in 2005?

Will Kimmey: I'm really banking on Carrasco and Garcia to have big years and futures, and ranked them thusly. Andy Baldwin, Maximino De la Cruz and Kelvin Pichardo are other power-armed pitchers who could experience similar rapid rises in status.

 Q:  Tucker McElroy from Winnebago, IL asks:
What kind of numbers do you think Ryan Howard could put up in the show? Do you think the Phillies will eventually trade him to an AL team so he can DH?

Will Kimmey: For me, he seems like he can be a 25-30 home run guy while batting something like .260 with 100-some strikeouts. There's a place for that in the majors, surely. Just not with the Phillies, but there's a better version of that called Thome. Howard really isn't so bad at first base that he needs to DH. He's big but fairly agile for his size.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Jason Jaramillo didn't show much after he was promoted to Batavia, but he still has the future Phillies backstop written all over him. Right?

Will Kimmey: Yeah, that's right. He's a pretty safe bet. Plenty of guys can struggle a bit out of the box and turn out fine. The Phillies feel his defensive package of tools is ready for the majors now, and he got a head-start on calling games--something many amateur catchers rarely do--at Oklahoma State as a junior. His bat doesn't look to be a special one. He could hit something like .250 with 10 bombs and still be a solid guy at the MLB level because of his defense and switch-hitting ability. The guy who really has a chance to usurp this catcher of the future mantle from Jaramillo is Louis Marson, a high school draft from Texas. He's quite raw in his skills, but shows above-average raw power already. His defense has a ways to go still, but Jaramillo and Ruiz being ahead of Marson gives him plenty of time to develop.

 Q:  Basil Shabazz from St. Louis asks:
Thanks for doing the chat!! Is Michael Bourn the best leadoff prospect in the minors? What is his likely MLB upside and ETA, and will he make the top 100 list?

Will Kimmey: He's certainly a strong candidate for that title. He's got the eye and speed needed, plus the extra pop for doubles and triples. Comparisons are always slightly misguided because no two players are the same, but maybe a Kenny Lofton-type leadoff man, with that type of OBP, AVG, SB figures. He's a better defender with a much stronger arm. We haven't done anything Top 100-wise yet, but he should be on that list. Late 2006 or 2007 seems like a safe ETA, with Lofton himself serving as a stopgap this year.

 Q:  Squire from asks:
How would you rate the catchers in the Phillies system (Ruiz, Jaramillo, Cortez, Marson and Cresswell). After years of saying they wanted to address the catching position, the Phillies finally used some Top 10 round draft picks on catchers. Ruiz had a bit of a break out year in AA and the AFL? Does he have major league potential?

Will Kimmey: Ruiz, Jaramillo, Marson, Cresswell are the four to focus on here. The Phils wanted to take some backstops in 2003, but all the ones they liked were gone before their first pick that year, which came in round three. Ruiz can be a solid major leaguer.

 Q:  Alex from Dallas asks:
In terms of high school players, who would be on Phillies top 10 for the upcoming draft?

Will Kimmey: I don't have Marti Wolever's list, but at pick 17 and granting that the first 16 picks are split evenly between high school and college--though it isn't likely to happen--you're looking at HS prospects 7-10 or so there, meaning Ohio lefty David Duncan, Tampa righty Bradley Clark, Virginia righty Matthew Olson and Houston outfielder Jarred Bogany. The pitchers all fit the Phillies desire of tall, lanky power arms, while Bogany could be roughly compared to Greg Golson because of his athleticism and Texas heritage.

 Q:  SteveO from NYC asks:
I am confused about Jake Blalock having more "raw power" than Hank. Hank has hit 61 homers over the last two years against the highest competition at ages 22 and 23. Jake hit 16 in low A at 21. I don't get it...

Will Kimmey: Raw power isn't game power, something Hank has already shown. It's a way of saying the two are different hitters I'd guess. Surely a major league hitter is better than a minor league one. Another way is that Jake is more power-oriented in his approach, whereas Hank's approach is more attuned to getting base hits with homers coming when the do. And if you go back to Hank's minor league stats, they'll remind you that he was a great average hitter first, with the power developing. Jake probably isn't going to be that type of hitter. He could be more the 30 or more per year guy in that .260 range.

 Q:  Greg from Philadelphia asks:
Jake Blalock is nowhere near the prospect his brother was at this point in his career, right?

Will Kimmey: We'll dovetail that question by saying no; Jake's batting eye and defensive abilities are not the same.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
The Phillies had what appeared to be an above average number of injuries to prospects last year. Is there still hope for players like 3Bs Juan Richardson, Kiel Fisher and Terry Jones and RHP Zach Segovia?

Will Kimmey: Segovia had Tommy John surgery, which has a recovery rate of 80-85 percent. He's still young, and should be able to regain his low-90s fastball, plus slider and overall form before the end of 2005. He could be an eventual power closer with that arsenal. Richardson has great pop, but no luck health-wise. Fisher's injury, a stress fracture in his back, was the same as David Bell suffered in 2003. He will return this coming year, and his age leaves high hopes. Jones (stress fracture in his foot early, plantar faciitis late) got too big in his lower half and struggled in the little time he played. His star might have fallen the farthest of the group.

 Q:  Sam from asks:
In a BA article last year, Kyle Kendrick received a comparison to Jason Schmidt. in 2004 he went 3-8 with a 6.08 ERA with 3633 KBB in 66.2 IP. Was the comparison way off base?

Will Kimmey: Probably not as much as you'd think (though I wrote that after two scouts pointed it out, so maybe I'm just defending myself). The comparison wasn't that Kendrick would become the NL's best pitcher, just that he was a big, strong, hard-throwing kid from Washington state who could be very impressive once he figured out his command. I'll wager, though, these are the reasons people shudder from comparisons, especially to established major leaguers--once a player doesn't replicate that success, people yell failure. Schmidt had a 4.01 ERA and 89-50 K-BB rate at the same stage of his career. The Phillies think they might have rushed Kendrick to full-season ball this year, rather than allowing him to wait for the short-season session to open. He lost confidence early and struggled to the finish, though an 11-K, one-hitter against Oneonta showed the stuff was still there. Also, Mathieson drew similar praise after enjoying success similar to that of Kendrick last year, and he did come through.

 Q:  dave from NYC asks:
Will, How bad is the Phils system? Do you think Wade has done well with the players he acquired given the players he traded? Dave

Will Kimmey: It's just thin from all the trades; nine players from last year's top 30 were sent packing. You know what though, so are the systems or the Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants and Yankees. Those teams are pretty good, and use their farm systems to make trades moreso than to promote prospects to major league roles. The system, from the standpoint of developing players for trades, is in good shape, especially compared to those teams. But it's bad if you want major league ready players now, because outside of Howard, Floyd and Eude Brito, there's probably not a guy who can make the 2005 MLB roster.

 Q:  Raymond from New York asks:
Hi Will. I have noticed the Phillies have drafted a lot of players from Texas in recent years -even more than one might expect taking inot account that Texas is a premium source of players Is this due to their confidence in the area scouting supervisor or possibly another reason ? thanks

Will Kimmey: It's a lot of chance in the numbers game. Texas produces a lot of players--it's third behind California and Florida, I believe--and maybe there have been California or Michigan players the team was just about to pick before another team did so. The team actually changed area scouts in southeast Texas before last season, so it's not like one guy has Marti Wolever's ear. But confidence in scouts helps, certainly, and the Phillies guys down there have been doing well.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Love these chats - keep up the great work! Also love Michael Bourn. See the Bourn identity as the Phillies answer for future cf and kead off hitter. How would you rate him (offensively) with the other top sppedy lead off prospects in the minors - Freddy Guzman(SD), Eric Reed (Fla), Willy Tavares (Hou), Rajai Davis (Pitt), and Eric Aybar (Ana. Thanks.

Will Kimmey: I don't think any of these other players are in his class as far as the leadoff man's main duty, getting on base. I'll take Bourn over any of them, with Davis being the closest call. Guzman probably wins the footrace among this group, but Bourn's instincts and SB percentages make him an excellent basestealer. Just 6 CS in 64 tries.

 Q:  tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
The Phillies traded Alfredo Simon to the Giants in the Felix Rodriguez deal and I won't know what his rank is on the Giants farm until I get the Prospect Handbook but where would he have ranked if he was still on the Phillies farm? Wasn't he in the top 10 last year or somewhere near there?

Will Kimmey: Simon would have been before or after Bourn on the list here, and probably around the same top 5 or 6 area with the Giants. He was No. 6 for the Phils one year ago.

 Q:  dave from nyc asks:
Will, What do you think of Chris Roberson? He seemed to be having a break out year in Clearwater but he was old for the league. Dave

Will Kimmey: Roberson is quite an athlete, his dad played in the NBA. His instincts lag behind those of Golson and Bourn, as does his age relative to his league. Still, he cut down his swing and his improvements this year in terms of trimming strikeouts and boasting his average and on-base numbers were noteworthy. Plus, Chris Kline reports Roberson reminds him of actor Chris Tucker, so that's above-average as well.

 Q:  Joe Saunders from Virgina Tech asks:
Any talk about my former teamate Marc Tugwell? He had a monster season our senior year and I know firsthand he can make it. Whats your take?

Will Kimmey: The Tugger is the perfect organization guy, which is a complement and slap in the face at the same time. His attitude and willingness to do what's asked of him couldn't be better, and the Phils could keep him around a while, because he's also got some instructional league experience catching. He doesn't rate well in the measurable tools categories, but if he keeps performing, there could be a chance waiting one day, a la ... say it with me now .. David Eckstein, our poster boy for hard working players.

 Q:  IBC Bren from Boston asks:
What happened to Elizardo Ramirez? He put up some intriguing numbers in 2003 and fell way off in 04. Can he get back on track?

Will Kimmey: He got traded to the Reds midway through the year. He was quite good at Double-A Chattanooga for them, with his excellent command leading the way. He could push for their rotation at some point late in 2005.

 Q:  JimBo from Beantown asks:
In a fantansy point of view, Would you trade either Hamels or Floyd for a big impact player in return like Jason Varitek if he can be a team leader for the team.

Will Kimmey: Yes, always trade a prospect for an excellent proven commodity. I don't know that Tek's leadership skills are what you want, be he'll post numbers for you.

 Q:  William Ashley from Memphis, TN asks:
What kind of ceiling would you say Greg Golson has? He looks like a Kenny Lofton type with a little more power potential. Is that a fair comparison?

Will Kimmey: He could be a star. He's a great character player, and could be a 20-20 guy with a excellent defense and a strong arm in center field.

 Q:  Dan from Philadelphia asks:
Will the Phillies try to take some chances this year to replenish their farm system by signing an expensive latin amatuer or taking some chances in the draft on players that slide because of signability questions?

Will Kimmey: They'll keep their same strategy from the last few years, the one that's netted Howard, Hamels, Floyd, Utley, Rolen, Lieberthal, Burrell, Rollins, etc. They aren;t going to overpay players late because that's not really in the budget. The foreign signings, especially in Venezuela and Australia, will continue. That's a strength behind Sal Agostinelli.

 Q:  from asks:
The Phillies are looking for a couple more bullpen pitchers. Do they have any relievers in the minor leagues that can fill these roles in 2005?

Will Kimmey: Eude Brito blows 96 from the left side, RHP Francisco Butto could make the bullpen this year as well. Keith Bucktrot's slider could be vicious in a short relief role. All worked in Double-A last year.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim asks:
The bottom 3 of the top 10 look a lot like reaches to me. A 17 year old with no pro experience, a guy who had an ok year in the GCL, and Mitchensen who was old for the GCL and doesn't have great stuff. Are their upsides that big? Or is the Phillies system just that weak?

Will Kimmey: I'd conceed a drop off after Bourn, really. There are some really young guys with high upsides, a group that will thin out because of natural attrition, and then there are some older, lower-ceilinged players. Garcia and Carrasco have great upside, so they're here instead of a safer guy like Eude Brito, who throws 96 with a good slider, but is likely no more than a three, four out reliever.

 Q:  Brian from Cypress, TX asks:
I'm suprised that Bourn was ranked below Golson. Bourn has really produced and periphs look great while all Golson has is a lot of potential. Why was Golson ranked so high?

Will Kimmey: These players are very similar, very even. Golson has a better arm and could hit for more power. Those are the two differences, really.

 Q:  Will from New York asks:
First, condolences for the massive tragedy unfolding in South Asia. It offers some perspective on our own trivial pursuits (such as baseball!). Still, it won't stop me from asking a question on my beloved Phils. I was wondering if you see anything close to "sure thing" in our farm system (if there was such a thing). I see a lot of high riskhigh reward prospects, but no one who has answers for all the critics. Your perspective?

Will Kimmey: No one is really a sure thing, as the weekend's events in South Asia allow us to remember. Howard, Floyd and Brito should surely play in the majors this year, but gosh nearly any player is an injury or bad year away from having his career outlook changed. That's why some argue prospecting is meaningless, pointless. But we know that from looking at numbers and physical skills, you can figure out the players with the best chance to be major leaguers down the road. That's what we do, what scouts do, and what general managers do. No one knows for sure.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
What's your take on Carlos Rodriguez (SS)? Is he a Future Major League Star? He seems to have all of the tools...

Will Kimmey: His attitude problems notwithstanding, and that is an issue that will dog him the rest of his career because it's not an easy thing to shake, Rodriguez has the defensive tools for success. He hit .307 vs. LHPs this year, and there's a little pop in there, so he seems like he could develop into a decent, everyday SS at best.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Where would Elizardo Ramirez, Anderson Machado, Joe Wilson and Javon Moran have ranked in the top 30 of they weren't traded to Cincinnati? How do they project? Thank-you.

Will Kimmey: Ramirez would be Top 10, Machado and Moran are 15-20 and Wilson is not in there. Ramirez is a back of the rotation guy. Machado doesn't hit enough to be an everyday guy, Moran is an extra OFer and Wilson a one or two out reliever at best.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Jorge Padilla...the next Sammy Sosa or Ruben Rivera? I thought the Phillies were high on this guy. Is he better than Jason Michaels?

Will Kimmey: Neither. He's more an org guy now. His tools are there, but he never could stay healthy enough or make enough improvements over a season to prove he can handle the role Michaels now owns.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Who is the sleeper in the organization? Thanks.

Will Kimmey: Two fun players, Welinson Baez, a toolsy 3B with an 7 arm (on the 2-to-8 scale) and plenty of raw power. Breaking balls and overall plate discipline are struggles for him now, but the Phillies can see some Adrian Beltre there. Also, Andy Barb, a converted catcher, was up to 93 with command and has a feel for a curveball already. His quick arm and quick grasp of pitching has the Phillies excited.

 Q:  BlueJay Fan from Omaha, Nebraska asks:
What is your opinion on catcher Tim Gradoville?

Will Kimmey: He's great defensively.

 Q:  Will from New York asks:
How are the Phillies regarded in the Latin American Market? They seem to make some mildly-substantial signings down there but don't have much to show for it. Nor are they getting involved in the Cuban defectors market. Are they seen as a major player or rather as a second rate organization good for use as a bargaining chip while negotioting with other organizations?

Will Kimmey: They don't have the same budget as others for international signings, but are in on plenty of guys and do well in Latin America and now Australia. They make enough flashy signings, Garcia or Carlos Rodriguez, to let the players, agents and other teams know they know what's going on internationally. Nine of the top 30 Phillies prospects are international signees, as are several of the names traded in the last year. So that's value.

 Q:  Arby's Pal from Allentown, PA asks:
Will, how legitimate a prospect is Aussie IF Mitch Graham?

Will Kimmey: Brad Harmon, also an Aussie, is a little ahead. Both are gamers, but probably fringe major leaguers. They, along with Mitchinson, are the PHils' first real foray into the Land Down Under, as Men at Work sing, and their signings could end up laying a foundation for more in the future.

 Q:  Earl Cunningham from Geneva, IL asks:
I have been reading about Edgar Garcia, stating that he could emerge as a #2 or #3 starter. Can he add to his velocity or add additional pitches to his arsenal, thus boosting him to #1 status?

Will Kimmey: He's just so far away, it's hard and probably wrong to throw around the No. 1 label for any player this young. But, yeah he has the tools to emerge as a 1, just needs about 5 years of production first. The Phils signed Garcia just before a showcase in Fort Myers, where a bidding war could have ensued (to answer another question for the que.)

Will Kimmey: On another note, I'm pretty silly in overlooking in an earlier question that the Phillies did get a very good player with the 17th pick in the 2005 draft, Jon Lieber. That pick goes to the Yankees as compensation for signing the righthander. D'oh for me, one for you. The Phils don't pick until late in the second round.

Will Kimmey: That's all I've got time for now. Thanks to all, and sorry to miss out on some of you. Now go return the rest of your holiday gifts and get what you really wanted.