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Florida State League Chat with J.J. Cooper

Moderator: J.J. Cooper will begin taking your Florida State League questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Thom from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
Does the fact that Humber makes this list after a subpar year ending in surgery mean that there is a consensus that he can still be an impact starter?

JJ Cooper: Hi everyone, let's get chatting. Consensus is a little strong, as you can find baseball people who think differently about almost everything, but yes, baseball people I talked to thought that Humber, post-surgery, still has a chance to be a solid starter. He showed plus stuff at times before being shut down, and with the success rate of pitchers returning from Tommy John, there is plenty of reason to think he'll regain his stuff after the surgery.

 Q:  Tyler from Tampa asks:
How in the world did Tyler Clippard get left off this list? He has good stuff, a projectable frame, and his velocity increased this year. I know you guys are big on tools, but geez, this kid can pitch. I don't get the lack of love.

JJ Cooper: Getting plenty of questions about Clippard, which is not surprising, considering the number of Yankees fans out there, and the proclivity of some of them to think that any Yankees player not selected has been slighted. Clippard was close to making the list, he was in the 20-25 group. Good live arm with an advanced feel for pitching, he had no fears at busting guys inside and then working away once they're worrying about the inside pitch, which is rarer than it sounds at the high Class A level, but there were concerns that he's up in the zone too much and that his secondary pitches need some work. He can pitch some, but he was behind Brevard's Carlos Villanueva on the list of guys who just barely didn't make it, and on the list of guys who have a feel for pitching.

 Q:  Lisa Westman from Ypsilanti asks:
If Torri Hunter is traded this offseason, could Span replace him by midseason?

JJ Cooper: I think that would be asking to much from Span. Span doesn't strike out and seems to understand how to be a leadoff hitter, but he would find it tough to fill Hunter's shoes, especially in 2006. Span is more of a Juan Pierre type, with a better arm, than a power and speed guy like Hunter. But unlike many of the speedy leadoff hitters, Span understands that and is more interested in working counts than trying to pop home runs.

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison WI asks:
Why is LaRoche ranked ahead of Justin Verlander. I assumed with Verlanders electric stuff that he was guaranteed the top spot. Do you see Verlander staying as a starter once he is on the Tigers for good?

JJ Cooper: Picking between Verlander and LaRoche is like Monet and Manet, you're OK either way. The reason LaRoche edged him was that Verlander, despite his dominant stuff and amazing numbers this year, is actually a little further away in some observers eyes. Verlander dominated the FSL with an unhittable fastball, but he has to show he can keep it down before he'll succeed in Detroit, as sometimes he's still missing his spots. It worked in the FSL, but manager after manager predicted that he'll get hit at the major league level until he refines his command. However, no one doubts that he can do that, and yes, I see Verlander as a starter, he has the secondary pitches and the tenacity to be a top of the rotation starter.

 Q:  Erick D. from Statesboro asks:
Where was Chris Walker in the rankings. He had really good numbers this year( 285 avg 6 hr 57 rbi 97 runs and 60 sb)not bad for a converted switch hitter. Walker was a midseason and post-season all-star and seems to get better year after year.

JJ Cooper: Managers liked Walker, but as a 25-year-old in high Class A he needs to dominate the league like he did to keep moving up. If he was 20, he would have been in the middle of the consideration for the top 20, but you have to allow for the fact that he was two to four years older than most of the guys on the top 20. That doesn't mean that Walker doens't have a shot at the majors, and he actually seems to fit the profile as a guy who could be a fourth outfielder, but he'll have to prove it at every level because of his age.

 Q:  Dave from CT asks:
What is your opinion of Reds Perez, Votto, Himes, and Moran in the field or Pelland, Shafer, Guevara, or Medlock on the mound? Any ML regulars in that group? Thanks for your time.

JJ Cooper: That's a long list. The guy who was closest to making the list (although he wasn't a 20-25 kinda guy) was Pelland. He showed a live arm although he needs to improve his breaking ball and his command. He has some work to do, but he has probably the best upside of the group. Perez wowed observers with his glove behind the plate, but he has some work to do at the plate to be a major league regular at catcher. Votto still has power, runs pretty well for his size and can handle first base but there are some concerns about his bat speed and his ability to handle the inside fastball.

 Q:  Outshined_One from northsidebaseball.com asks:
Thanks for the chat JJ! Next season, will the Cubs move Dopirak up to AA or keep him in Daytona?

JJ Cooper: My guess is that it will depend somewhat on spring training, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him start out in FSL, with the potential to move up quickly if he shows his 2005 struggles are behind him.

 Q:  Mike from Winston Salem asks:
I know Brett Harper was repeating the league at age 24, but did he finally show enough that he should be considered a legitimate first base prospect for the Mets?

JJ Cooper: Harper's raw power compared favorably with about anybody in the league, and he did a good job of converting that into production with an approach that had him looking to punish bad pitches. But there are some concerns about his grip and rip approach, and his bat will have to earn him a major league job, as his baserunning and defense are both below average.

 Q:  Laura from St Louis asks:
Is Mark Worrell, the closer with 35 saves considered a prospect with Palm Beach and are there any other players that have a chance to make it to the Majors. I appreciate your chat, and the info it gives us.

JJ Cooper: Worrell impressed more for his makeup than his stuff. He almost lost the closer's job early in the season as he struggled, but he settled down to hold on to the job on the FSL champs. But his stuff doesn't project as more than a middle reliever, he was 89-90 with an average slider and changeup. None of them are out pitches right now, but he pitched well enough to get a chance to prove next year his stuff plays at Double-A.

 Q:  Mike from Chico, CA asks:
Lastings Milledge questions: When will we see him in New York? What position will he play and where will he end up hitting in the lineup? Can you give us a good comp for him?

JJ Cooper: When depends a lot on the Mets decisions at the big league level over the offseason and next season. As far as where he plays, he projects as a big league CF, but with Beltran in CF, he could handle a corner spot. He has enough arm to handle RF. Where he hits? Right now he seems to be more of a No. 5-6 hitter than a leadoff hitter to me, but more than anyone else in the league, Milledge seemed to be a guy who even the projections aren't really solid yet. He could be a speed and batting average guy, as he has the bat speed and the legs to do that, but some observers believed he could also bulk up to be a middle of the order power hitter if he wanted to do that. Sorry, like John Manuel and Jim Callis, I try to avoid giving comps unless a scout gives them to me.

 Q:  Matt from NY asks:
Matt Kemp had a great season to be sure but doesn't his homeaway splits tell you something. Vero Beach is the best hitters park in the FSL and Kemp was pretty bad elswhere.

JJ Cooper: His homeroad splits were definitely a knock against him, but while Vero is the best hitters park in the FSL, it's still not exactly Coors Field. The reason he ranked No. 5 was based as much if not more on his tools and projection as the 27 home runs. Kemp showed plus power with the ability to handle center field while also showing plus speed (which is surprising for a guy as big as him). I think his strikeouts are more a concern than his home-road splits, but as a 21-year-old heading to Double-A, his ceiling compares favorably with almost anyone in the league.

 Q:  R. Allen from Little Rock, AR asks:
I didn't notice any backstops on the list. Would Jake Fox make it in the top 5 Catchers out of the FSL? And is he the Cubs best prospect at the position?

JJ Cooper: No catcher really came close to making the list, although the ones who got the most mentions were Danillo Sanchez, Miguel Perez, Robinzon Diaz and Lou Palmisano. As a backstop, Perez was major league ready according to several managers , but his bat is a big question. If I had to rank them, I'd take Palmisano first, as he has the best combo of defense with hitting ability.

 Q:  Jason from Cincinnati asks:
I know that Joey Votto didn't have the year that he was expected to have, but why was he snubbed from the list?

JJ Cooper: Guys, a reminder, not making a top 20 list is not a snub, it just means they didn't make the list. When you consider that two of our top 50 prospects in the game before the season (Dopirak and Humber) are No. 18 and No. 20, it's a pretty clear sign that it's a hard list to make. Votto has power potential, but there are concerns about his bat speed. He wasn't right on the edge of making the list, but he's still a prospect, especially as he's one of the better power prospects in the Reds system.

 Q:  john stanton from tom's river nj asks:
Any reason why Mathieson and Blalock were not on the list? Was there any consideration of them both playing on the worst team in baseball for a full season?

JJ Cooper: Mathieson was close. He has one of the better arms in the league, with a 92-93 mph fastball although his secondary stuff is still a work in progress. There were some concerns about his delivery, as he lands a little stiff, which could be a concern down the road if he doesn't correct that. He profiles as a solid starter if he can improve his curveball or junk it for a slider, but if not, he profiles as a solid reliever based on his fastball. Blalock wasn't as close. He shows power potential, but he doesn't profile as an everyday outfielder unless he either shows more ability to convert his raw power into games. Right now he profiles as a 15-20 home run guy, which makes it tough to hodl down an everyday job as a corner outfielder.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Thanks as always for taking our questions. Just curious if any Brevard County Manatees received consideration for the list. In particular, Tim Dillard, Ty Taubenheim and Carlos Villanueva all had very good years in the FSL statistically, and while I realize they are realatively older and have limited ceilings, I'm interested in learning what the managers around the league had to say about them. Plus, did Steve Moss or Adam Heether receive any attention?

JJ Cooper: Villanueva was not far away. He impressed with his ability to keep the ball down, three average pitches at times (fastball, a curve that sometimes was a slight tick above average and change), a very advanced feel for pitching and plus command. There are some concerns about his delivery, and his arm may be short to be a major league starter, but he did impress.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Moscow, Russia asks:
Besides Harben, which pitchers on the FM Miracle were close to making the list?

JJ Cooper: Rainville impressed some people, especially with his command, pitching savvy and maturity for a 19-year-old, but his velocity was down to 88 after he was 91-92 last year. His curve is a potential plus pitch, and he was comfortable throwing it behind in teh count. If he can get back the velocity he lost this year, he still has a chance to be a relatively high ceiling starter.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Moscow, Russia asks:
Was Cory Dunlap considered at all by the listmakers? Seems like the power was a bit low, but his BBK was solid.

JJ Cooper: Cory didn't get much consideration. You hit the nail on the head. He showed a great batting eye, but he needed to show more power to make this list as a first baseman.

 Q:  Ben from New York, NY asks:
Hi JJ, Thanks so much for doing the chat. A question about consistency here--yesterday, Phil Hughes was ranked only 6th in the SAL because of injury concerns (slightly dubiously, in my opinion, since the Yankees say they shut him down for workload reasons, and that his arm is fine.) Today, Tyler Clippard, who was probably the second best pitcher in the FSL behind Verlander, and who pitched the season at age 20, does make the top 20 at all while Phil Humber, a guy who pitched poorly, and just had Tommy John! is there? Where's the consistency? And how can you possibly justify Clippard's not being on the list at all?

JJ Cooper: Ok, one more Clippard question. And before I go into this, let me explain, I have nothing against Clippard and yes, he is a decent prospect. But on what criteria was Clippard the second best pitcher in the league? Are you basing that on current production in the FSL? If you go by what the manager's saw, they voted Jordan Tata the pitcher of the year. If you go by the numbers, Carlos Villanueva, who also just missed the top 20 had a 0.8 run lower ERA and less hits per inning than Clippard while putting up a near identical strikeout rate. But for this list, we're basing it on future ceiling, combined with likelihood of reaching that ceiling. And with that being the case, the reason that Humber ranked ahead of Clippard is that while Humber is having TJ, he has the chance to be a top of the rotation starter with two and maybe three plus pitches, and yes, he had TJ, but that is an injury that is pretty well defined as having a pretty high success rate for pitchers returning from it.

 Q:  Skrip from Chicago asks:
How do you see Chuck Tiffany developing in the future. I read in a "ASK BA" that some think he will end up as a reliever. He then went and threw 10 straight No-Hit innings in his next two starts. Do you feel that he has the ability to be a #2-3 starter, or will he be stuck in middle relief? If you do think he will be a bullpen guy, why do you think so? I have heard many good things Chuck and was quite surprised that some think that he can't make it as a starter. Thank you for the chat.

JJ Cooper: Tiffany was a puzzle. Guys who saw him good saw him as a No. 3 starter with great pitching moxie and three above-average pitches. Those that saw him on bad nights saw a fifth-starter or lefty reliever whose velocity waned and didn't seem to have an above-average arm. The general consensus is that he has starter stuff, but I wanted to make sure that people know that there are some competing opinions about that.

 Q:  ryan from indianola Iowa asks:
As a former Cubs system minor league third base prospect I am very curious about Scott Moore! Why didn't he get a higher ranking? What are his faults and do you think a position-switch to right field would help?

JJ Cooper: Guys in the league don't think he should move off of third, as most guys think he can handle the position. Moore wore down as the season went along, but he showed a strong arm and decent range to handle the hot corner. A year ago, Moore seemed to be ready to lose his prospect status, so a 15 ranking is actually the sign of a very strong bounce back season. There are some concerns anytime a guy repeats a league, but in Moore's case, managers and scouts were impressed with his approach, his strong arm and his developing power.

 Q:  Brian Dopirak's Clone from Chicago asks:
Hi, is my time up? Am I falling into the "what happened" prospects? Please, shed some light!

JJ Cooper: Dopirak definitely can say he's now learned that baseball is a humbling game. He still has the power potential to be an impact big leaguer, but he needs to show he can make adjustments when pitchers figure things out. As you move up through the minors, the same approach that worked at lower levels won't always work. In Dopirak's case, pitchers found that he would chase the outside pitch off the zone. It's a correctable fault, but one that Dopirak struggled to fix this season.

 Q:  Cris from (providence, RI) asks:
Even as a red sox fan the exclusion of tyler clippard surprises me? Is it a lack of ceiling thart hurts more than everything else?

JJ Cooper: Ceiling is a key, all of the starters who made the list have ceilings as No. 2-No. 3 starters (or a No. 1 starter in Verlander's case), where Clippard is more of a No. 4 or No. 5. Again, that's nothing against Clippard, but ceiling plays a big factor in our top prospect lists.

 Q:  erik from los angeles, ca asks:
I am very excited with the future of the dodgers, but is there it a chance that their farm system is being overrated?

JJ Cooper: Around the FSL, everyone raved about the Vero Beach guys, as they seemed to have more major league prospects than anyone else (and Hong Chih-Kuo was some guys' favorite Vero prospect but he didn't log enough innings to qualify).

 Q:  Eagle Fan from Chestnut Hill, MA asks:
Did Chris Lambert get any consideration for the top 20? His numbers were pretty dominant in the FSL. 7-1 with a 2.63 era is tough to look over.

JJ Cooper: Lambert definitely got consideration, he was 91-92 with good sink and a solid changeup. His arm was good, although not great. On the downside, some managers said he got guys to chase pitches out of the zone for K's in the FSL, but worried that he doesn't currently have an out pitch to get guys out in the majors.

 Q:  Teddy from Poway, CA asks:
What will the Dodgers do at 3B. Aybar has been impressive since being called up and supposedly Guzman will have to move there from SS. Add in LaRoche and you've got 3 guys for 1 position? Who's there in '06 and who in '07?

JJ Cooper: That's not a bad problem the Dodgers face, too many prospects for a position that's been a gaping hole since Beltre left. My guess, and it's only a guess, has Guzman in the outfield with LaRoche at 3B in 2007. 2006? that's much more up in the air.

 Q:  Jim H. from Denver asks:
How big was the drop-opp from Kemp to Clevlen on the list? Our Tiger discussion group was mildly surprised to see him listed below Tata. What areas of improvement would you be looking for from Clevlen next year? Big thumbs up for these league Top 20's, they're great.

JJ Cooper: Kemp rates as a tick above Clevlen in most categories, as he has better power and speed while being able to handle a more difficult defensive position. But that isn't as much a knock against Clevlen as praise for Kemp. Clevlen showed a much improved approach this year, as he seemed to learn how to work for pitches he could hit, fouling off tough pitches to get pitchers to make a mistake. As he moves up, he needs to show that he can handle Double-A on the first run through, unlike the FSL, which handled him in his first year in the league. But if he can continue to refine his hitting approach, while continuing to add power, he has a bright future.

 Q:  Andy from Culver City asks:
LaRoche seems to have cooled off against Double A pitchers. Is that an indication that he might not hit against big league pitching?

JJ Cooper: After a brutal July, LaRoche actually hit .300 with a .435 slugging in Jax in August, not great, but not bad either, especially for a 21-year-old in his first taste of Double-A. His power and controlled, smooth swing should be able to play for a long time in the majors.

 Q:  Sidney from Motownsports.com asks:
Out of the group in Lakeland (Blue, Francia, Kirkland, Bumstead, McKinney, etc), do any have a shot at being a contributor in Detroit? Stregths and weaknesses of each.

JJ Cooper: Blue, Kirkland and Francia all had some support. Francia and Kirkland are my favorites of the group. He handled 2B well after moving over from SS and showed a solid swing, staying inside the ball while not trying to do too much. Kirkland showed excellent defense at third base, although his swing needs to shorten up.

 Q:  Jessica Zayas from New York asks:
Laroche or Kemp, who has the higher ceiling? Thanks!

JJ Cooper: LaRoche, especially as guys think he will be fine at 3B. Kemp probably ends up as a corner OF eventually as he gains weight as he ages.

 Q:  Larry from Manhattan asks:
Thanks for taking my question, J.J. The Tampa Yankees seem to be lacking in top-tier talent. Any prospects worthy of note save Hughes and Clippard?

JJ Cooper: There weren't many guys in Tampa that can be projected as future major league stars, but as our mags indy leagues beat guy, I will throw out a personal favorite. Justin Christian is too old for the league, but the former indy leaguer showed a solid bat, versatile glove and very good basestealing skills that could make him a future utilityman.

 Q:  Kim from Toronto asks:
Hello, How will Lind and Purcey do in the big leauges? How did Chip Cannon do the FSL during his short stay? Is he a big leauger? Kim

JJ Cooper: Purcey has worlds of potential, but has to show improvement with his command. Lind is a great bat, but he has major questions about his ability to handle a position.

 Q:  Kevin from Las Vegas asks:
How is the MVP Number 14? Is it because he repeated the league?

JJ Cooper: Repeating the league is a factor for both him and Moore. They both had big bounce back years, but that is less impressive than a guy who does it in his first swing through the league.

 Q:  Jaypers from Springfield, IL asks:
Adam Lind: possible callup in the near future?

JJ Cooper: Not yet, he has to work on becoming a below-average outfielder. By every description, he works hard at trying to improve, but right now he'd cost games with his glove. He has one tool right now, an above-average bat, but that is, obviously, the most important tool.

 Q:  Kevin from Las Vegas asks:
How do you justify Humber. From what I've heard the guy is 89-92, straight fastball, average curve. He definitely didn't put up the numbers. What gives?

JJ Cooper: The reports we have had Humber at 91-94 mph with a plus curve, although his velo did seem to drop off at times before he was shut down (which seems to be because of the bone chips). He was a high No. 1 pick in 2004 for a reason. When healthy, he has shown elite stuff.

 Q:  Joe from Bay Area asks:
Which prospect on that list do you think in the long run, has the best chance to be an impact player in the MLB?

JJ Cooper: LaRoche, that's why we ranked him No. 1. We're trying to project who will be the impact players much more than just who will make the majors fastest.

 Q:  Charlie from Portland, OR asks:
I noticed no Cardinals made your list; was Palm Beach totally baren of talent?

JJ Cooper: Lambert was the closest Palm Beach Cardinal to the list. He didn't miss by too far, was probably in the 25-30 list.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Where's the love for Zach Jackson? Did Kyle Yates draw any attention? Do you see Adam Lind migrating back to first base (apologies to Chip Cannon)? Thanks.

JJ Cooper: I think Lind could very well end up back at first, as he did seem to struggle mightily in the OF, although he showed slow improvement as the season went along. As far as Jackson, he and Janssen showed good feel for pitching, but they didn't make the list as their stuff was a little short in comparison the pitchers who made the list.

 Q:  Yung from Ho Ho Kus, NJ asks:
I'm really curious, if LaRoche and Verlander both played out their full season in the league, will there be a chance for Verlander to be ranked #1?

JJ Cooper: Maybe, but really that was 1 and 1a, i'd be perfectly happy with either one topping the list.

 Q:  Yung from Ho Ho Kus, NJ asks:
Chin-Lung Hu ranked #13, does he have ML talent on the plate? I know he can field his position, and just wonder if he can be the first everyday player from Taiwan.

JJ Cooper: Most observers thought he would be a solid No. 2 hitter at the major league level. While he's short, he has some muscle to him and won't get the bat blown out of his hands. He is happy to take pitches the other way and has a little bit of pop. with his glove, his bat should be enough to play.

 Q:  Denard Span from Caught leaning asks:
Span was picked off 5 times in his short time in the FSL. I haven't counted his PO's in the EL. So, with 23 sb, 12 cs, and somewhere between 5 and 15 PO in 117 games, is Span's shortcoming really lack of aggression more than lack of savvy?

JJ Cooper: Span has not shown he's a polished basestealer yet, despite plus-plus speed. He has struggled to get jumps at times and doesn't read pitchers particularly well. He has shown the ability to receive instruction, so the Twins believe he will become a better basestealer as he matures.

 Q:  Sean from OK asks:
Where do you see Jordan Tata on a big league staff? What makes him #10 on the list?

JJ Cooper: Tata has a better arm than I expected when I started making calls. He showed a live arm and a great ability to sink the ball with an avg cb and change that could end up above average. Coming into the season, he seems a pretty sure bet to be a reliever who can induce ground balls, but he showed this year that his ceiling may be higher than that, as he could end up with two or three plus pitches.

 Q:  Steven Alengakis from Brooklyn, New York asks:
I know Philip Hughes got a late season promotion to Tampa and didn't pitch much, but did he draw any serious interest consideration for the FSL Top 20? Also, how bad were the Yankees prospects at Tampa this year? Steven Alengakis Brooklyn, New York

JJ Cooper: Hughes didn't have enough innings to qualify.

 Q:  Bernie from Watertown, Mass asks:
Obviously he's not a prospect anymore, but what are the chances Vince Faison (Tampa), a former first rounder for San Diego in 99', can turn his career around and perhaps make an impact at AA or AAA next year for the Yankees ? He's still only 24.

JJ Cooper: As someone who remembers seeing Faison play outfield and a little bit of everything for Toombs County, I've followed his career. Sure, he could contribute at the Double-A or Triple-A level, as he's played there before, but he still has a long ways to go to get to the majors.

 Q:  DG Siegel from Paris, France asks:
After their time in the Sally league in 2004, the Mets were very high on Jamar HIll and Shawn Bowman, yet both players seems to have fallen back this year. Is there any hope for either?

JJ Cooper: Bowman came out of the 2005 season looking better than Hill. In Bowman's case, he still showed great defense and solid power, although he has to start showing better ability to make contact.

 Q:  Doc Scott from Portland, OR asks:
So if Sarasota had landed anyone in the Top 20, who would it have been?

JJ Cooper: No one came too close, but Pelland got some comments, while Votto and Ben Hines also got some mentions (in Hines case, managers were impressed with how he seemed to keep getting better and better).

 Q:  Bryan from Setauket, NY asks:
Yankee fans wouldnt have to question BA's bias if it didn't exist. Once Tyler puts up the same numbers next year all of a sudden youll mention his increased velocity and magically he'll be on "BA's radar again"

JJ Cooper: In some weird way I'm enjoying this. Clippard's lack of a ranking is a sign that we have it out for Yankees fans, again, I'll ask the question, why is that the case any more than we have it out for Brewers fans by leaving Carlos Villanueva off, or that we're snubbing Cardinals fans by leaving Chris Lambert off. It's a top 20 list, which by its very nature means that major league prospects will be left off of the list. But as usual, accusations of bias most interestingly come from people who are admittedly biased themselves (hence no Yankees fans pleading for Lambert to make the list). No one has ever said that Clippard isn't on our radar, and you haven't seen one comment where i said that Clippard couldn't be a major leaguer. But I can promise you this, if you talk to scouts or GMs, none of them would trade Humber for Clippard right now, and I don't think that any rational Yankees fan would disagree with that.

 Q:  Ron from Dallas asks:
Why is Verlander categorized in this league? Didn't he pitch as high as double-A with a brief stint in the majors. Secondly, is he rated higher than Joel Zumaya?

JJ Cooper: Verlander spent the entire first half in the FSL and easily had enough innings to qualify for this list. A pitcher can qualify for multiple lists.

 Q:  Matt from New Jersey asks:
Thanks JJ for taking questions. Is Tim Moss back on the Phillies radar as one of their top prospects? Where do you think he will place in the top 30? How high of a ceiling does he have? ETA?

JJ Cooper: Moss definitely saved his career with this season, as he was very close to erasing his prospect status. He simply looked like a different player this year, showing a much better approach at the plate, while showing improvement defensively. He still has some questions, including a less than picturesque throwing motion, but he's a safe bet to be back in the Phillies top 30, and probably top 15, after working his way out last year.

 Q:  Chris from Chicago, IL asks:
What's your take on Mark Alexander of Vero Beach? He's a bit old for the league, but seems like he could be a good bullpen arm for the Dodgers.

JJ Cooper: Reports are that he has an avg to below avg fastball, but with a plus slider that he could get guys to chase in high Class A. There were doubts whether his approach will work at higher levels.

 Q:  Adam from Florida asks:
Why was Andy Wilson left off of the list. He lead the league in homeruns, played a new position this year, and was promoted to AAA. Not to mention the fact that he is now in the Arizona Fall League representing the Mets. Could this be due to the fact that he was a Free Agent signee?

JJ Cooper: Wilson came a little bit out of nowhere to actually get some consideration thanks to a monster year. He has some athletic ability and plus power, but as a 24-year-old in high Class A who is still trying to find a position, he had too many question marks to crack the top 20. Observers did like his approach at the plate, as he hit the ball to all fields in addition to showing power.

 Q:  Rick Smith from Port St. Lucie, FL asks:
How is Dopirak on the list? He hit .235 this season? Not to mention that he lacks tools, he plays first base, lacks athleticism, and his swing is simply drop and drive. A guy from our team hits just under .300 leads the league in homeruns, and plays four positions, yet he isn't a prospect? How does that work?

JJ Cooper: I assume you're comparing Wilson to Dopirak. While Wilson shows plus power, Dopirak has better raw power with plus bat speed. And he's a 21-year-old, not 24. One bad year does not erase Dopirak's potential to be a 40 home run guy, which is why he makes the list.

 Q:  Jay from New York, NY asks:
How didn't Casey Jannsen & Chip Cannon not make the list? They certainly had much better years than Humber & Dopirak.

JJ Cooper: They definitely had better years, but we're not ranking based on one year of stats. We hope to make these lists informative by giving you information that can't be gleamed by just piling the stats into a spreadsheet (anyone can do that). What we try to do is talk to as many informed baseball people as we can to get information on tools, approaches, reasons for improvementstruggles, long-term projections and combine that with what we can see about how a player produced. Please don't misunderstand, stats are a part of the picture, but they're only part of it. While Jannsen definitely had better numbers than Humber, his stuff is not as good, so in talking to baseball people, they project Humber to have a better chance of being an impact major leaguer.

 Q:  Jon from Pennsylvania asks:
Did Adam Lind establish himself this year as the best pure hitter in the Jays system? How does his hitting compare to another Jays '04 pick, Curtis Thigpen?

JJ Cooper: Lind has a picture-perfect lefthanded swing, and yeah, I'd say he's the best pure hitter in the Jays system. Again though, he has plenty of work to do defensively if he's not going to end up at DH before too long.

 Q:  Nathan from Fullerton asks:
Why did you put Matt Moses ahead of Denard Span? Do you value a Blaylock type hitter more than a Pierre type hitter? Span obviously adjusted to AA better than Moses did. Being a twins fan, I hope you are right as we really need infield help.

JJ Cooper: Moses projects as a 3B who can hit for both power and average, while Span projects as a CF who hit for average, get on base and run. In my opinion, a guy with Moses profile is more valuable, especially in the early 21st century game, where speed is not nearly as important as power.

 Q:  kevin from Las vegas asks:
Kirkland? Defense? Uhm, the guy seemed to have an error every game. I'd heard he was rated a top defender but I followed Lakeland pretty close and the guy seemed like a butcher to me.

JJ Cooper: Yeah, he made a number of errors, but managers said that while he made more errors, he made plays that an average 3B can't make. Guys can get more consistent and reduce errors as they move up (largely by just taking ground ball after ground ball in infield), but a guy with poor range will rarely develop into a plus defender, no matter how few errors he makes.

 Q:  Steven Ho from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Why did Chuck Tiffany fall off the charts this year?

JJ Cooper: He still made the list, which isn't falling off the charts, his velocity seemed down at times, and sometimes he didn't show as live an arm, which is why he didn't crack the top 10.

 Q:  Steve Kemp from Orlando asks:
Out of all the pitchers that were so called on the bubble #20-25 range. Which do you feel is closest to the big leagues and why? Possible rule five canadites?

JJ Cooper: Villanueva. He projects more likely as a reliever, but he's got an advanced feel for pitching where he could maybe move up without getting destroyed. But I don't think his ceiling is as high as say Clippard or Lambert.

 Q:  Jose from Puerto Rico asks:
JJ, What's the word on Angel Molina? Did he receive any consideration for the top 20?

JJ Cooper: Not much talk about him when I asked, but then as I finished up calls, one manager loved him. His report was great power potential and a good arm. He thought he was Jupiter's best player by far.

Moderator: OK guys, after 2:40 I need to run. Thanks for all the questions (yes even the Clippard ones), sorry I couldn't get to all of them and thanks for reading the magazine.

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