Carolina League Chat with Chris Kline

Moderator: Chris Kline will begin taking your Carolina League questions at 1 p.m. ET

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Adam Miller has had a rocky career thus far. He was voted the top prospect in the 2003 Appalachian League despite poor stats and shoulder soreness. In 2004, he came into his own, getting stronger as the season progressed, hitting 101 mph by the season's end. You voted him tte top prospect you saw in your "reality stint" in the Carolina League last season. He also came through big in the playoffs after being promoted to Kinston last year. Heading into 2005, Miller looked like a bona fide ace prospect. During Spring Training the shoulder bug bit him again, which is a scary sign, and the tribe shut him down. He came back around mid-season had was hit pretty hard. I have to think that much of his struggles were due to the layoff and injuries. It's not often that scouts and managers are concerned when a pitcher's fastball velocity "drops" into the 92-94 range. I have to believe that if Miller was healthy all season, he probably would have finished the season in Buffalo or getting a cup of Joe with Cleveland somewhere along the way (as Scott Olsen did with the Marlins). When healthy, it seems hard to find a right-handed pitcher with more upside than Adam Miller. Do you agree that if he comes back next season with the velocity he has shown in the past and his knee-buckling slider, he has a good chance of becoming the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues by the season's end? How well does he compare to San Francisco's Matt Cain?

Chris Kline: Ok, I don't eat a lot of chocolate, but just woofed down a Butterfinger Crisp out of the vending machine here at the BA Headquarters--and I highly recommend them. Now that I've gotten my sugar fix, let's get started with the chat . . . Mike, your assessment of Miller in the longest question in BA chat history is somewhat inaccurate--he had mild shoulder soreness in '03, then had an elbow strain this year and didn't make his debut until late June. I didn't vote on anything during my 'reality stint,' I think I simply said that he was easily the best prospect I saw during that time. There were whispers in the Indians organization that he might be able to contribute in the big leagues this year during spring training, but then the elbow injury happened, pushing his timetable into the great unknown. His velocity is close to being all the way back, and has further improved in instructional league and--barring any setbacks--will continue to improve in the Fall League. It's just the secondary stuff that needs work. His slider was the best I'd seen from him all year during his two playoff outings, in terms of location and bite. I'd say he has a chance to be the best pitching prospect by the end of next season, though arms like Chad Billingsley or Justin Verlander might have something to say about that. How does he compare to Cain? Cain throws more of a curve than a slider, but they have similar builds with similar stuff--the difference is Cain's changeup is much, much more advanced.

 Q:  Roger from Charleston, SC asks:
Who moves from behind the plate: McCann or Salty?

Chris Kline: I don't see either one moving. Saltalamacchia has such a big body that you could maybe see him at first base, but he's so athletic that I can only see him getting better defensively behind the plate. Both have superior bats, but Saltalamacchia is more versatile, hitting for both average and power for either side of the plate. For as much pitching depth as the Braves have, give some props to them for developing catchers--another area in which they've grown incredibly deep with impact talent.

 Q:  Bob from Winthrop asks:
Hi Chris, thanks for doing the chat. Were there any other players on wilmington who were under consideration for top 20 status. And do Andrew Dobies, Tom Hottovy and Mickey Hall have enough upside to suceed at the higher levels of ball. Again thank you.

Chris Kline: Not much going on in Wilmington for the first time in a long time. The closest guy to making the top 20 was Bladergroen, but he missed too much time recovering from the wrist injury. Of the three guys you mentioned, I like Dobies the best. Hall was often overmatched against CL pitching as one of the youngest players in the league, particularly on breaking balls. Hottovy got hit hard and later moved to the bullpen. Hopefully both of them turn it around in a second stint in the league next year.

 Q:  Dave Sanford from Washington, D.C. asks:
Good list. I'm a Carolina League fan, and I have a few questions. First, do you really think Jeff Fiorentino is projectable enough to be listed at number 8? He doesn't have great speed, he doesn't have good plate discipline, he doesn't have a strong arm, and if he doesn't put on some weight, he's never going to hit with enough power in the majors to hold down a corner outfield spot. I just don't understand the high rating. Second, why was Edward Mujica omitted from the list? Is it because he's a reliever? Third, how close were Nick Pesco and Ben Zobrist to making the list?

Chris Kline: I went to college with a Dave Sanford, but I'm guessing you aren't the same Dave Sanford . . . When you see Fiorentino, nothing really stands out about him, but his hands are so quick that he can square up anything. Very unorthodox approach at the plate, but he just always seems to make solid consistent contact. He isn't burner, but has slightly above-average speed. You're right about the plate discipline--he needs to improve in that department, especially for a top-of-the-order threat. But those 22 homers are definitely something that stands out about him. You look at him and kind of wonder how he hit 22 bombs, but it's all in the hands and wrists--easily the fastest in this league, and a big part of the reason he ranks where he does. Mujica was outstanding in this league and really took off once he got to Double-A. He and Chris Britton (Frederick) fell in the 20-25 range, and both have great stuff. Pesco and Zobrist were also in the 20-30 range.

 Q:  Big George from Tampa, FL asks:
How can you possibly leave Tyler Clipper off the Carolina League Top 20 List. I heard he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Myrtle Beach once. Must be another case of blatant anti-Yankee bias.

Chris Kline: The Yankees haven't been in this league for over 10 years, so unfortunately no Yankees talk today. And it's Tyler Clippard, not Clipper . . .

 Q:  Kendall from Dallas asks:
Chance Douglass was the league ERA leader by quite a bit. He's 21; a fair if not young age for the league. How close was he to the top 20, and what is his repertoire? Thanks.

Chris Kline: Douglass was No. 21. Power fastballslider guy. Changeup is still a work in progress, though it really came on later in the year for him. It basically came down to him and Johnson for the final pitcher's spot, and Johnson's secondary stuff is just more advanced at this point.

 Q:  Troy from Toledo, OH asks:
Why is Stephen Head so low on your list? Is he not as highly regarded as a prospect and that is why he's a little lower than he should be?

Chris Kline: Head is regarded highly as a prospect and will likely place quite high on the Indians Top 30 prospects when they are unveiled when the 2006 Prospect Handbook comes out. The reason Head didn't place higher is a couple things--he tends to get long in his swing, and after pitchers made adjustments to him in the CL, they exploited some holes over the inner half. Another thing is he's so raw defensively--he never took infield at Mississippi, and really is still learning the fundamentals of playing first base every day. He's got a lot of upside though, and should hit for increased power as he really begins to develop his upper body--something he didn't do as a closer in college.

 Q:  Jack from Chicago asks:
With the Winston-Salem players, who would you compare them to in the majors if they reach their potential?

Chris Kline: Tough question, just because it's so broad. Winston-Salem was top heavy with pitching, and Hogs' pitching coach Sean Snedeker did a great job with a staff that included Daniel Haigwood, Charles Haeger, Gio, Liotta, Broadway, Rodriguez, etc. Position-wise, their best player was Valido, who a few scouts compared to Omar Vizquel. I don't think that comp is overblown, either. I just worry about Valido's bat having enough juice to carry him through the upper levels. Thomas Collaro is another guy to keep an eye on--huge raw power, but a lot of holes in that swing.

 Q:  Kendall from Dallas asks:
What was Matt Albers' problem this season? I was under the impression he'd worked out his drinking problems, and yet he gets hit this season to the tune of .278 BA against. Does he still have the electric stuff? And, if so, do the Astros expect to see him improve next season?

Chris Kline: Albers put the problems you mentioned squarely in the past. His on-field problems this year were in his mechanics early on. He was flying open too early in his delivery, which threw off his command. He was very erratic as a result, and remained so until he found a delivery he was comfortable with. That's when you saw him reel off four wins in a row in August. As inconsistent as he was, he finished strong. And yes, the electric stuff is still in there--heavy sinker topping out at 96, solid-average curveball and slider. I think he'll improve if he can keep his body under control, which is something he worked on extensively with Salem pitching coach Stan Boroski this season.

 Q:  Karim from Newark, DE asks:
How would you rate Anibal Sanchez's ceiling? You have rated him as the top pitcher in the league, so clearly he's got ability. Also, how close is he to Saltamacchia and Markakis as a prospect? Thanks.

Chris Kline: I said in an earlier chat that if I had to choose between two Venezuelan righthanders, I'd take Sanchez over Yusmeiro Petit any day. I still feel that way, even though Sanchez has a medical background, and even though he struggled in Double-A. The tougher question, to me, is do you take Sanchez over Armando Galarraga (I'm just having fun ranking Venezuelan pitchers). Galarraga has a more projectable body, but right now Sanchez has the best pure stuff of the three. Where does he rank with the top two guys? I think Markakis and Saltalamacchia are in the top tier, obviously, but Sanchez is in the mix with Miller, Gio, Sowers and Galarraga--and had the best season of all of them. I see him more of a back-of-the-rotation guy, but that's only because I like strong, physical guys in the front of the rotation.

 Q:  Maddog Vachon from Chicago asks:
Does Burris project to hit with enough power to be a full time major league leftfielder or his he more likely to be a fourth outfielder?

Chris Kline: I think the jury is still out on Burrus, who moved all the way to Triple-A and had an immediate impact in Richmond. It took him basically three years to get out of Rookie ball, but he's starting to put it together. I'm interested to see how he does in the Fall League, and he'll likely start next season in Double-A. He's definitely got all the tools, and could be another Brave that moves quickly.

 Q:  Jerry F from Lynchburg, VA asks:
Were there any Hillcats that merited consideration?

Chris Kline: The closest was Javier Guzman, but one large factor against him was his age--he turned out to be a year older than he really was. He fell into the same mix with Myrtle Beach second baseman Martin Prado, middle of the 20s.

 Q:  Ken from Potomac asks:
Who would u think is a better Pitching Prospect In the Nat orgnization Gallaraga or Balester or who has more potential

Chris Kline: I'm a HUGE Galarraga guy. Just the body, the ultra-clean delivery, electric stuff and the competitiveness--it's all there. I'd take him over Balester.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Hey Chris! What happened to Wes Whisler this year? What type of prospect is he now? Also, what are your thoughts on Bear Bay, who put up solid numbers at Kinston?

Chris Kline: Whisler really battled command problems this year, and when I saw him, he was elevating with his fastball--a lot--which was a major reason CL hitters raked him at a .325 clip. I like Bear Bay a little bit, but don't know how projectable he is, really. Nice steal from the Cubs during spring training, put up solid numbers all the way around, but he's super skinny and really needs to add some mass to that frame.

 Q:  Aaron from allston, ma asks:
Where would Troy Patton have ranked if he had qualified for the list? Any other Blue Rocks who were close? They seemed to be pretty thin this year outside Anibal...

Chris Kline: Patton would have definitely been on this list--probably a top 10 guy if he'd qualified. The Blue Rocks were indeed extremely thin . . .

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Really surprised to see A. Loewen this high. His trouble throwing strikes looks like a real problem. Were the people you talked to confident he'd get it together. Are there MLB examples of guys who've had this much trouble and turned it around? Also, what's J. Johnson's upside?

Chris Kline: Jay, Loewen has electric stuff--the question is whether he'll harness it. And you're right, the command is a real problem . . . sometimes. I think it might be more mental than anything else. At times, he seems like a completely different pitcher from inning to inning, from at-bat to at-bat, from pitch to pitch. I think the quote from Luis Rivera pretty much sums him up--you never know what you're going to get. So it might be a focus or level of concentration thing. Scouts and managers all thought it was way too early to bag on a 6-foot-6 lefty with a plus curveball. As for Johnson, he's a strike-thrower with a plus curveball and average change. He's also very deceptive in his delivery, which led to the high number of K's this year.

 Q:  George from Yuma, Ariz. asks:
It looks like Saltalamacchia has a little bat wrap going on there. What's his swing like and what are his holes?

Chris Kline: The one area that was a problem was inside fastballs. His zone management improved this season, and in a league where hitters see more breaking balls than ever before, he handled offspeed pitches extremely well--waiting back on balls and driving them the other way, and laying off stuff out of the zone. I think his improvement defensively led to his improved offensive numbers. The only thing that really needs improvement is being able to turn on inside pitches, particularly from the right side.

 Q:  zywica from Arlington, TX asks:
Did Rafael Perez receive any support for the top 20? He was probably better in the Eastern League than the CL, I guess.

Chris Kline: Perez has electric stuff. So electric that catchers in Kinston used a number system to relay pitches back to the dugout to differentiate between his fastball and slider--his fastball just has that much natural movement. He moved to the bullpen in Double-A for the most part, and his future role is definitely a reliever.

 Q:  Brett from Dallas, TX asks:
Is the consensus that Saltalamacchia will eventually overtake McCann as the future catcher in Atlanta? How do they currently compare defensively?

Chris Kline: Saltalamacchia is still only 20, and though he made some major strides this year behind the plate, he hasn't put up the defensive numbers McCann did at the same level. They have similar arm strength, but McCann's release is quicker and more accurate right now. But Saltalamacchia is so athletic and agile, that I could see him as the future behind the plate in Atlanta. The Varitek comparison is for real--and he really showed great leadership qualities on a below-average club this season.

 Q:  Brett from Dallas, TX asks:
Did Casto's age work against him in any kind of a major way?

Chris Kline: It did, but not that much. He would easily be tagged the most improved player from a defensive standpoint in the league this season. You almost have to throw out his age when considering how much time he's spent at third base, so he's on a different timetable than most. With Ryan Zimmerman in the organization though, all that work at third might go to waste. I smell a position change here, mainly because you can't ignore Casto's bat.

 Q:  matt from atlanta asks:
Hey Chris, Tribe fan here. Good to see some Indians on the list. My question is where would Mulhern and Kouzmanoff stand? They are a year old for the league, but seem to be great hitters (Mulhern also proved himself at AA) - will we ever see them in Cleveland?

Chris Kline: Mulhern had a very loud year, but for some reason is still under everyone's radar. Perhaps people think it's a fluke, but in spring training, everyone I talked to in Indians camp said he'd be a breakout guy if he put everything together. He redirected his swing this year, became not as pull-happy and started using the whole field. Keeping his hands inside balls more consistently, he generated a lot more backspin and balls tended to carry more. Since he was drafted as an outfielder, first base is still a work in progress. But a nice year from a guy who took advantage of Michael Aubrey's absence. Kouzmanoff's back injury and missing almost two months, combined with his age, worked against him.

 Q:  Brett from Dallas, TX asks:
Is the consensus on Sipp that he looks like a starter or reliever right now?

Chris Kline: Reliever. He was dominant down the stretch and especially during the playoffs. Electric fastball, wipeout slider, decent changeup. Don't be surprised to see him reach Triple-A next season. He's a fast-tracker, that's for certain.

 Q:  Frank Tivlin from Houston asks:
Ben Zobrist was promoted to Salem at midseason and actually improved his numbers over those he put up earlier in the year in the South Atlantic League (which weren't too bad to begin with). He then put up some nice results while playing for the World Cup team in the Netherlands. Although he's a bit old, did he receive any consideration for your list? And can he play shortstop at the major league level?

Chris Kline: He did. And he nearly made it. Another guy who fell in the 20-30 range. I doubt he'll play shortstop every day in the big leagues--he's more of a utilityman who can play just about anywhere on the infield.

 Q:  Dan Kostecka from Odenton, MD asks:
Hi Chris, Just wondering if Brian Barton was eligible for this list and if so how close did he come to making it and if not would have made it? Also, where would Kevin Kouzmanoff have ranked had he stayed healthy and productive?

Chris Kline: I think there are perhaps more Kinston fans than people who actually live in Kinston . . . Barton was eligible, but people I talked to questioned the defense overall. As he is an above-average runner, he took bad routes to balls and didn't really have a first step. If you're comparing center fielders, Frank Diaz is younger, more athletic and has a much stronger arm with Willy Taveras-like range in the middle of the diamond.

 Q:  JF from Durham asks:
Christopher! Nice to see you! Did Mujica not qualify for the Carolina League list due to his promotion? Can we expect to see him on the Eastern League list? On another note, am I the only person who's bothered by reading praise of players who were suspended for banned substances? I mean, if you take age into consideration, shouldn't you take into consideration the fact that they may have substantially helped themselves out by using illegal substances?

Chris Kline: Mujica only pitched 26 innings. Nnot sure if he's on the EL list or not, I will defer to Alan Matthews, who will chat next week on the Eastern Leaguers. You raise a fair point about the substance abuse, and we're certainly not sending a message that because Valido was a first-time offender that it's OK. Honestly, his ranking rests on what he did on the field. I just felt that him getting popped needed to be part of his report. Interestingly, when you look at the CL all-star team from this year, they had two offenders--Valido and Frederick's Mario Delgado. I don't think you take anything away from Valido based purely on his performance, his age and his future ceiling. And we can only hope that he learned a lesson from the 15 days he sat out.

 Q:  Shea from Florida asks:
Do u think Galarraga is the best pitching prospect in the Nationals Organization and can u rank the top 5 in order?

Chris Kline: The Nats are in very good hands with BA's Aaron Fitt, who ranks Washington's top 30. So you'll have to wait for that top 5.

 Q:  Shoshana from Baltimore asks:
How high is Nick Markakis' upside? Also where would Reimond and Olson have ranked if they had qualified? Do you ever so Loewen harnesing his control. Are there any O's prospects who almost made the list? Us O's fans are starved for hope.

Chris Kline: Markakis is an outfielder with classic right field tools, though he played exclusively in center once he was promoted and scouts said he did a solid job there. The O's wanted to see some versatility from him in the outfield and were pleasantly surprised on his ability to play both spots. But RF is his future. Comps are Andy Van Slyke and Shawn Green. Reimold is the real deal--five tools, would have been top 10 easy. Same thing for Olson, though if he had qualified, he would have been on a flight to Birmingham by now. Other Frederick players who were in the mix: Brian Finch, Nate Spears, Dustin Yount.

 Q:  Matt from Texas asks:
How long till Lance Broadway makes his debut in a White Sox uni?

Chris Kline: MIght be a little while. If he gains more velocity on his fastball, he could really take off. A lot of people think that is likely--he needs more life on the fastball to go along with that hard-breaking curveball, which ranked as one of the best in the league. Let's say 2007.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Where would have James made it on the list? I am assuming he is on the Southern League list.

Chris Kline: Top 10. And you'll have to wait for Aaron Fitt too.

 Q:  Keith from Columbia, Tenn. asks:
No Pirates in the top 20? What happened to the Buccos' promising farm system?

Chris Kline: This was graduation year in Pittsburgh. The two who were the closest were Javier Guzman and Wardell Starling. Starling just wasn't consistent enough for me to throw him on here.

 Q:  Jessica Z. from New York asks:
Hi, do you think Ian Bladergroen can regain his sweet swing back after his injury...looks like he struggled through this season. Thanks!

Chris Kline: Jessica Z. I think he can. It takes a while to come back from that type of injury just in terms of getting strength back, but he finished strong in September, hitting .318. I think we'll see the real Blade next season in a return trip to Mr. Celery Land.

 Q:  Casey from Tupelo, MS asks:
What are your thoughts on Stephen Head and how to you project him as a major league player?

Chris Kline: I think he's an average everyday major leaguer. He needs to fill out his upper body to be more in line with his lower half. He's got very wide hips, which might lead to his bat slowing down as he does though. More power than Aubrey, but Aubrey is the better hitter and definitely the better glove--right now.

 Q:  Paul S. from Winnsboro, SC asks:
Were any other Myrtle Beach players close to making the top 20, particularly Brady Endl? Also, where would a healthy Ian Bladergroen have ranked on the list?

Chris Kline: I like Endl a lot, but he wasn't very close to making the top 20. Nice mix of pitches, command and control lefty. He's a ground ball machine, and my best memory of him was shoving it for an inning in the all-star game, going through the likes of Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood and Billy Butler. Not bad. Tough to say where a healthy Blade would have ranked here, but he would have been considered, obviously.

 Q:  Andrew from Richmond asks:
Although I understand the reasoning for Leo Daigle not making the list it's hard to ignore his triple crown numbers. Does he have the ability to land a big league job or is he just taking advantage of a league he's been in too long?

Chris Kline: Hard to ignore, but easier to judge by looking at the birthdate. Does he have the ability to be in the big leagues? I think makeup-wise, Daigle is the last guy you'd want to bet against--very driven. But look what he did in a limited time in Triple-A this season before the White Sox sent him back to W-S--.220-2-8 in 91 at-bats. That's not exactly setting the International League on fire.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim, CA asks:
Are there any sleepers in the CL who are on the verge of busting out? Super toolsy hitters or power arms who are starting to put it all together? Thanks again for the chat!

Chris Kline: Not necessarily a sleeper, but in this league, I go Reimold. That guy does it all. Power arms? Luis Soto is intriguing to me--power reliever that's 95 mph with command. Limited secondary stuff and a little older though.

 Q:  Will Linthicum from Taneytown, Maryland asks:
Nate Spears played the entire year at 19, and though none of his skills are jaw dropping he does most things quite well. Not making the CL top 20 is fair, but where would you rank him? Is Brian Roberts a fair Major League comparison?

Chris Kline: Roberts was the first and most obvious name every manager in the league brought up when discussing Spears. I'd rank him No. 22. He's a solid defender with good hands, range and arms strength. Gap-to-gap hitter that probably won't hit for much power, which is the same thing everyone said about Roberts.

 Q:  George Rodriguez from New Jersey asks:
what is the projection with Jarrod Saltalamacchia?Is he going to move from the catching position to first base?I think thats the logic move because Brian McCann is over there recently,and he handles the pitching staff greatly and they all love him,especially John Smoltz,who loves pitching to him.I just love how he seems to handle a pitching staff.I feel that he's going to be a great catcher because of his skills and knowledge of the game and I don't feel that they should move McCann out of that position.Also I'm a big Yankee fan.I just feel that Posada is almost outta his prime.I would love in the future should Atlanta decide to move him somewhere else,to pride him away from there and bring him to the Bronx.I just feel that it will be a crime to move him outta the catching position for a guy who's not proven enough at that position just yet.

Chris Kline: Yankee fans always represent . . . Salatalamacchhia is not moving. Now my question in response to your rambling question is, who would the Yannkees offer in a deal for Saltalamacchia or McCann?

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Can u talk a bit more about Chris Britton? How does his stuff project? Better stuff than Johnson but Johnson got the nod because he had more quality innings?

Chris Kline: Britton is very inriguing to me--unreal secondary numbers, not a lot of saves because the O's tried to stretch him out primarily in the middle relief role. He missed all of 2003 after getting hit in the eye, came back as a starter last year and moved to the bullpen where he really took off. His velocity spike to 93-94, topping out at 95. Secondary stuff is solid-average, but the location to both sides of the plate with the fastball is his best pitch. It's his protection year, and word on the street is that he'll be on the 40-man. Johnson got the nod over him as a starter, and also had big K numbers.

 Q:  Gary from W-S asks:
Chris your missing a ML Player named Molina-catcher Winston-Salem

Chris Kline: Best defensive catcher in the league, questionable bat.

 Q:  JD from asks:
Who's is the better defensive shortstop Ian Desmond or Robert Valido? Thanks

Chris Kline: Valido is leaps and bounds ahead of him, though he's a year older. Desmond wasn't overly impressive in any phase of the game, and though defense is his calling card, managers crushed him in this league. Valido did it all for the entire season, and if you're ranking SS in this league, Desmond is probably no. 5 or 6 on that list.

 Q:  Chris from Syracuse, NY asks:
You had a question about Winston-Salem before, but I was curious as to why you left Ricardo Nanita out of your list of players? He had a very solid year with a .292-.393-.452 line and played some center for the Warthogs this year. I imagine he must be fairly athletic since he was in center field. Isn't he a guy that should get some love and possibly be a top 30 prospect for the White Sox in 2006?

Chris Kline: Nanita put up good numbers, and I can't believe he's listed at 6-foot-1 . . . that seems to be a stretch to me. He plays a solid CF, but in this league, Potomac's Frank Diaz was easily its best center fielder. He's athletic, but to me needs to fill out his body and gain more strength. The White Sox future in center lies with either Brian Anderson or Chris Young anyway--and both are much better options. But I'm sure Nanita will get some love in the 2006 Handbook.

 Q:  zico from germany asks:
why is ray liotta #13 in the carolina league but not even listed in the SAL? didn't you hear as many negatives about his delivery as john manuel did?

Chris Kline: Liotta was solid in the CL, and one of the better lefties in the league. I saw the same things John talked about in his chat, and Liotta's body is a little thick as well. Delivery is almost mechanical, not very fluid at all. It actually looks a little painful. Curveball lacked consistency at times, but I like his ceiling maybe a little bit more than John--which shows you that even at BA, we differ widely in our positions on players, which is why we have the bet board. (Ian Desmond vs. Robert Valido's future impact just went up during this chat, by the way. Fitt's going to owe me a big plate of ribs in about five years).

 Q:  Andrew from Athens, GA asks:
Neil Walker or Jarrod Saltalamacchia?

Chris Kline: Awesome question, and one I'm going to go in-depth on during my time in Arizona--stay tuned for that in mid-October as the two go head-to-head. Right now I'll take Salty, but there's an awful lot to like about Walker.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Thanks for taking that monstrosity of Q earlier. Great stuff! How would you compare Markakis' bat to Jeremy Hermida, one of last season's best Carolina League prospects?

Chris Kline: Hermida? Carolina League? Huh? Sounds like you need to get on the horn and order a Directory so we can play Affiliation Jeopardy--'I'll take Marlins affiliates for $500, Alex' . . . To answer your questions, both will hit for high average, and while Markakis has shown more power in the minors so far, Hermida has a ton of juice in that bat. Very comparable players, Hermida has more speed.

 Q:  Elliot Legow from Youngstown OH asks:
Chris, Think it's too late for David Wallace to enter the NFL draft? The longer he plays baseball, the less he hits.

Chris Kline: Probably too late. While he didn't hit, he actually did improve defensively. Throws were in the two-second range to second base with improved accuracy. The bat is definitely the problem.

 Q:  Greg from Baltimore asks:
Hi, great chat as always =) This may see like a radical idea, but might it be a wise move to try Loewen as a closer? My reasoning is that more work on a fairly regular basis may get his mechanics in order. Pitching just once every 5 days may not be enough 'work'.

Chris Kline: It worked in the Futures Game . . . but seriously, no, not right now anyway. If he harnesses the command, he could be a true innings-eater. And if I'm correct that there is a concentration issue, the last thing you want is him sitting in the bullpen every night.

 Q:  Adam from Florida asks:
I am a former college opponent of Jeff Fiorentino and I can tell you the guy can flat out hit. I do question his projection as a corner outfielder. He seems to lack the athleticism it will take to play a corner spot everyday in the bigs. Do you see him possibly becoming a first basemen, or will the organization try to push him along?

Chris Kline: The Orioles scouting dept wanted him to catch, but was overruled by player development last year. Fiorentino is athletic enough to play anywhere on the diamond, really. And he's a quick learner. If he changes positions, I don't really see it as too much of a concern. His bat is what will play.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Chris. Correct me if I am wrong But are you saying that Armando Galarraga is the Nats best pitching prospect ahead of Michael Hinckley and Daryl Thompson?

Chris Kline: I think he's ahead of both those guys right now, but you're forgetting about Clint Everts.

 Q:  Andrew from Katy,TX asks:
Hunter Pence doesn't get a whole lot of attention in the chats. What's your take on him? Does he project to hit .280+ with 25+ homers in the majors?

Chris Kline: Pence is intriguing, and you're assessment on him isn't far out of the realm. Managers I talked to in the league wanted to see more out of him defensively though. He's probably not more than a left fielder in the future, but should have enough pop to produce in that spot.

 Q:  sheldon from calgary, alberta asks:
hello, i hope you will take this question...regarding the nationals players who played in this league: - i must say i have always like kory casto, and i wonder what type of an impact player he may end up being? do you see him switching positions as a negative (since he moved from outfield to third base this year, and now with zimmerman blocking his path, he is to take on second base at instructional league)? - what about, in talking about nat's pitching prospects, michael o'connor (who was the nationals minor league pitcher of the year)? - and, lastly, any love for josh whitesell and salomon manriquez? many thanks...

Chris Kline: Anything for Calgary--GO VIPERS! (I wanted to say 'Go Cracker-Cats!,' but realized they're in Edmonton . . . I addressed Casto earlier in this chat, so scroll up to see that. Michael O'Connor has solid stuff, big swing and miss fastball. He's a top 30 guy in my opinion. Whitesell got some love, but was behind Head at first base. Manriquez had an outstanding offensive year, not so much with the defense, but the bat really came to life. I need to see more out of that production to believe it's for real though.

 Q:  George Rodriguez from New Jersey asks:
I would offer a good prospect at that period of time.Let's say 3 or 4 years from now.By the way McCann not Saltalamacchia.I Know that Saltalamacchia has great power and he's going to be a great offensive player for his position,if he ever makes it at that position.I just feel that the Braves are in a winning moad right now instead of having to develop a catcher and having his inexperience out there trying to control a major league pitching staff in the middle of a pennant race.It's just amazing how this freaking team wins they're division every year and they just always seem to run outta steam in the first round every single year.

Chris Kline: So three or four years from now? Both McCann and Saltalamacchia should be well established by then--and if not in Atlanta, then somewhere else. The reality of the situation is the Yankees don't have much to offer now or next year for either one of those guys. And I think any knowledgeable Yankee fan would admit that even a package deal of, say, Eric Duncan and Philip Hughes wouldn't be enough to pry either one away. Especially with Andy Marte in the Braves fold. No Yankees bias, just think there's no way it could happen.

 Q:  Jerry from Florida asks:
Thanks for the chat Chris. Great job. If you don't see either Salty OR BMac moving, what do you predict will happen? Also, I agree Salty makes a great target for a pitcher at 6'4" 220lbs. Thanks again.

Chris Kline: Trade from depth for specific need. Difficult to see into the future. I'm not Yoda, but the Braves have a knack for making the right moves at the right time.