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Texas League Chat with Will Lingo

Moderator: Will Lingo will begin taking your Texas League questions at 3 p.m. ET

 Q:  Bob from Kansas City asks:
If he had had the requisite number of AB's, where might Billy Butler have placed in the rankings?

Will Lingo: Welcome to another great BA prospect chat. Sorry we're getting off to a late start today, but we have an issue going out the door, featuring our Rookie of the Year (no, I'm not telling). So let's get to it.

Will Lingo: Butler would have been a likely top five prospect for this league, which was not loaded this year, if he had enough at-bats to qualify. The Wichita team in particular was not strong, with only Justin Huber making the top 20 (or even coming close).

 Q:  Red from HB, CA asks:
Thanks for that chat! If Weaver had qualified, where might he have ended up on the list? Also, did Callaspo fail to make the list, overlooked, or did he not qualify?

Will Lingo: Weaver also would have been a top five guy, as would have Ervin Santana, who was just a few innings short of qualifying. Callaspo probably just suffered from the plethora of talented players in Arkansas. We already had five players from that team on the list, and you could have argued for more with Callaspo and Mike Napoli.

 Q:  Al from Boston asks:
Hey Will, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. My question: Kevin Goldstein said in his Cal League chat that, rumor has it the A's are thinking of playing Daric Barton back at catcher again. What have you heard about this possibility, and is there any substance to it?

Will Lingo: I did not hear that rumor in the Texas League, and I think it would be more likely that the Athletics would try him in the outfield rather than back behind the plate. The player who more people were interested in possibly seeing behind the plate again was Justin Huber.

 Q:  Shawn from Bellingham WA asks:
I appreciate you taking my question. How close was Yorman Bazardo to making the top 20?

Will Lingo: Bazardo is another quality prospect who didn't have enough time in the league to make the list. He made six starts (34 innings) for San Antonio, and certainly would have been on the list if he had pitched enough.

 Q:  Matt D from Seattle asks:
Yuniesky Betancourt really came out of nowhere this year, progressing rapidly through AA and AAA and landing himself a starting job in the majors. His glove looks fantastic, but will he hit enough to stay in the bigs? He did hit .295 with decent pop in AAA (and .275 in AA), if he can keep that up I think Seattle could have something truly special on their hands.

Will Lingo: You are right, which is why he's already in the big leagues. I think if he hits .250, most people think he'll still be valuable enough to start in the big leagues. His defense is that good. And most scouts and managers think he'll hit better than that because he already handles the bat pretty well. The best comparisons I heard were Rey Ordonez and Omar Vizquel.

 Q:  Steve from Denver, Col. asks:
Multiple choice test, Will. Kendry Morales will be a hitter in the bigs like- A) David Ortiz (lots of pop) B) Dmitri Young (some pop) C) Travis Lee (not much pop) D) Won't hit in the majors E) None of the above (Explain)

Will Lingo: I think I'll have to take E, because I do think he'll have pop but I'm not sure how much he'll hit. Some scouts were really not impressed with him overall, even though he was smoking hot at the end of the season.

 Q:  Vanessa Caster from King County asks:
How close was Bobby Livingston to the top 20? Looks like his numbers were pretty good for a young lefthanded starter in AA (though I heard he only has average stuff).

Will Lingo: Not all that close. He put up good numbers, but from what I heard it was purely on pitchability. One team had his velocity in the 82-85 mph range, and none of his other pitches was anything special.

 Q:  Mike from SoCal asks:
I'm thisclose to writing off Jayson Nix as a even a guy who gets 1 AB in the Majors. Is there anything that can change my mind?

Will Lingo: Probably not. I think even his own organization is frustrated with him at this point. He's a strong defensive second baseman, but he has failed to make adjustments as a hitter. He still has a big man's swing and doesn't realize what type of hitter he needs to be, as shown by his 92-29 strikeout-walk ratio. People like him, but it's harder and harder to find anyone who thinks he's going to perform.

 Q:  Billy B. from Oakland asks:
For being the 3rd best prospect in a loaded league, the review of Daric Barton seemed rather mixed (less than ideal pop for a 1B)(no defensive position)(inferior to Dan Johnson). Please tell me that he still is a top 20 prospect overall!

Will Lingo: I agree with your assessment of that scouting report, but I don't agree with you that the league was loaded. It was actually pretty thin, especially once you go beyond the Arkansas and Midland teams. Barton will still be a premium guy, but it's hard to tell exactly where he'll fit it on the master list until all the reports are in for the Prospect Handbook.

 Q:  Jaypers from Springfield, IL asks:
I'm a bit confused here - In your CA League list, Volquez is 7th and Diamond is 8th. Yet here, Diamond ranks ahead of Volquez. Wha hoppa??

Will Lingo: That's just a reflection of the different impressions we heard from Cal League and Texas League managers. I think it's almost a coin flip either way. Neither one is as good as Tyler Clippard in any case.

 Q:  Kendall from Dallas asks:
You have Hirsh rated at #9 in the league. I have it on very good authority that he is working on a two-seam fastball that, if he can control it, looks to be as nasty as Greg Maddox's. If he'd had that pitch all year along with his low 90-s 4 seamer and excellent off-speed stuff where would he have rated?

Will Lingo: Love the bizarre hypotheticals. If Hirsh had another outstanding pitch, he probably would not have allowed any runs and would be the No. 1 prospect in the league. Hirsh is plenty good as it is, so if he can maintain his mechanics and even add another pitch he could be a top of the rotation starter.

 Q:  O Dawg from Boston asks:
Battle of the 1st-sackers: Daric Barton vs. Kendry Morales, who are you taking and why?

Will Lingo: Very interesting question. Both guys have obvious plus tools and obvious flaws. I think Morales has more raw power, but I'll take Barton because I think he's a better bet to hit. Neither will be anything notable on defense. I guess it makes sense that I would take Barton, since I ranked him four spots ahead of Morales. It was a trap!

 Q:  Al from Boston asks:
A's fans were excited when Dallas Braden and Jason Windsor emerged as a great 1-2 punch at high-A Stockton, though they obviously found AA a bigger challenge despite holding their own. What do you see in store for them in the future?

Will Lingo: I think both guys may have been tired by the end of the season. Both are worth keeping an eye on, but neither one is going to be great. Windsor has average pitches across the board, with nothing overpowering, and locates everything well. Braden profiles similarly but is more noted for his tenacity. Both will probably reach the big leagues if they stay healthy, but I don't see them as impact players.

 Q:  Chris from St. Louis asks:
How close were Springfield Cardinals' Stuart Pomeranz, Chris Lambert, and Cody Haerther to making the list?

Will Lingo: The Springfield player who was closest to making the list was third baseman Travis Hanson, who was regarded as the best third baseman in the league by most managers. He improved both offensively and defensively this season, and finally showed the power the Cardinals had been looking for. Lambert and Pomeranz both got a lot of "OK, nothing special" kinds of comments, and Haerther would be another notch behind them.

 Q:  Cris from (providence, RI) asks:
Which AA league is the most talented?

Will Lingo: That's an easy one. See Aaron Fitt's Southern League list from yesterday. He talked about being able to do a top 50 with legitimate guys. That's not true of the Texas League this year.

 Q:  Mike McBride from Spokane, WA asks:
John Danks got hit pretty good in the Texas League, what is the current projection as to what he can be at the Major League Level? Thanks.

Will Lingo: I think he's a middle-of-the-rotation starter, a lefty with two potentially above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball. It's still early to make a call on that, though, because he's just 20. It's impressive that he pitched 98 Double-A innings at that age, and scouts were still impressed with his maturity even though he got hit pretty hard.

 Q:  Tim from Orange, Ca asks:
Hey Big Will! Do you think that Howie Kendrick could end up more like a poorer fielding Adam Kennedey or does his bat have more impact than that? When and where do you see him playingbatting for the halos?

Will Lingo: He could be much better than that. You're talking about a potential batting champion who could be a perfect No. 2 hitter and could even hit No. 3 in an order if he develops more power. He had no trouble making the jump to Double-A, and drew comparisons to names like Gwynn and Grace for his swing, balance and hand-eye coordination. I think he also showed he could play second this year, after some thought he might have to move to third.

 Q:  Jeff Spicoli from Ridgemont, Ca asks:
What's a Texas League chat without the "Annual Jeremy Brown Question": Given his recent power spike, do you think he could have a major league career?

Will Lingo: Yes, we do indeed need a Jeremy Brown question. The shock over him being the 35th overall pick in the 2002 draft endures, but several managers actually do think he'll be a big leaguer. At the plate, he showed the ability to hit the other way and had a knack for getting clutch hits. And though his defensive tools aren't great, he got high marks as a game caller and one manager said he was great at exploiting hitters' weaknesses. As one manager said, "There are a lot of things he's not, but what he is is a winner." I think he'll definitely get to the big leagues, though I don't see him as any more than a backup.

 Q:  cjb from madison, wi asks:
Thanks for the great chats. Iím hoping you can clear up the Mís infield for me. Why would the Mís be looking to move Jones off SS when his bat has a higher ceiling than Betancourt and he plays a good glove? I would think Jones would be ranked higher than Betancout given his age to league he played in while posting better numbers. What is the reasoning for Betancourt to be ranked higher? What kind of upside does Jones have and what is his ETA to the bigs?

Will Lingo: Because Betancourt goes beyond being a good defender. He is a great, once in a decade type defensive player. Managers and scouts ran out of superlatives for him on defense. So if his bat is average, he's a great player. Jones does have more offensive upside, but he's not a sure thing. And if he reaches his potential his bat will play in center field.

 Q:  David from Sonoma State University, CA asks:
Which of the three DVD prospects would you keep, and why?

Will Lingo: Another trick question. I ranked Diamond the highest, so I'd take him because I think he's the safest bet. He has a big body and already has four usable pitches, so he just needs to refine his mechanics and command.

 Q:  Petey Pablo from Carrboro asks:
Mike Napoli might never hit for much average, but has pretty good pop for a backstop and is willing to take walks. Will his defense improve enough for him to catch in the bigs?

Will Lingo: Managers were actually quite impressed by the defensive improvement Napoli has made. He threw out 47 percent of basestealers this season, best among the regular catchers in the league. And he can really put a charge in the ball. If he improves his plate discipline, he could be a big league starter.

 Q:  Austin from San Francisco asks:
Andre Ethier has always been a good hitter for avg but he more than doubled his HR output this year. Was it a result of playing in the Texas League or has he really developed more power?

Will Lingo: I think playing in the Texas League can boost your numbers a bit, but Ethier does have legit power. He's a line-drive hitter so he won't ever be a huge home run guy, but he should hit 20-plus home runs a year with plenty of doubles. He is best off when he's not swinging for the fences and uses the whole field.

 Q:  Keith from Nebraska asks:
What does the future hold for Shane Komine? He came back strong from his injury but there will always be concerns about his size.

Will Lingo: Ah, the Hawaiian Punchout has long been a BA fave. He didn't have enough innings to qualify for the prospect list, though he wouldn't have made it even if he had. And yes, he's undersized, but he impressed managers late in the season. He's composed and throws strikes with four pitches, and he touched 95 mph this season. He'll have to prove himself at every level and must have plus command to succeed, but he knows how to get hitters out.

 Q:  The Donald from NYC,NY asks:
You said----"The player who more people were interested in possibly seeing behind the plate again was Justin Huber" When he was with Mets wasn't he horible behind the plate? And he is such a good hitter why not keep him at first which will keep him healthier then being a cather, plus more at-bats per year.

Will Lingo: There were always mixed reports on his defense. One of the managers in the Texas League--sorry, I forget which one off the top of my head--had seen him catch when he was with the Mets and liked him back there. The obvious reason to catch him if it's practical is that his offensive profile would be even better at that position than it would be at first.

 Q:  Trader J from Indy asks:
Chris Lambert was very good in the FL State League and pitched in the Futures Game. He really struggled in the Texas League. Did he come close to making the list? Why did he struggle so much?

Will Lingo: The reason he struggled (and the reason he didn't make the list) is because he doesn't have an overpowering pitch. He has not shown the same fastball as a pro that he showed in college.

 Q:  David from Sonoma State University, CA asks:
How will Joe Saunders turn out? I remember scouts saying that getting him and Bootcheck in the first round were steals.

Will Lingo: I think Saunders will be a solid starter in the middle of a rotation. He has the stuff to succeed, and in the middle of the season he seemed to bear down and figure out how to use it for a full game, rather than just for stretches of a few innings.

 Q:  Hypothetical Harry from Hyothetical NYC asks:
How did Kendrick slip under the radar and fall to the 10th round of the 2002 draft?

Will Lingo: He improved dramatically during his late teens, so few people knew about him when he went to St. John's River CC in Florida. Who took note of his bat there but longtime Angels scout and minor league manager Tom Kotchman, who urged them to take him in the 10th round. He hit from the moment the Angels signed him, but he has also continued to improve, adding power in the last couple of years. His defense has also improved significantly.

Will Lingo: Sorry, but I've got to go and get back to the issue, the Almanac, the Prospect Handbook, my sick children, and so on. Wish we could chat all day, but you can get another fix tomorrow as we move up to Triple-A.

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