Ask BA

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My math skills were terrible in last week's Ask BA. I took Mike Stanton's slugging percentage (.507), subtracted his batting average (.259) and came up with .258 isolated power. That should have been .248.

In either case, that would be the sixth-highest isolated power ever for a player 20 or younger (rather than the third-highest, as I reported). The only youngsters to surpass Stanton are Mel Ott (.306), Ted Williams (.281), Alex Rodriguez (.273), Bob Horner (.272) and Frank Robinson (.267).

On to this week's questions, and hopefully some more precise answers . . .

    I've been having a heated debate over who should be regarded as the best hitting prospect left in the minor leagues, with Indians catcher Carlos Santana (who has lost his rookie and prospect status) included in the discussion. My vote would go to Yankees catcher Jesus Montero, based on his scouting reports, track record and the way he dominated Triple-A pitching in the second half of the season. The only other players I could see in the discussion are Santana, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Royals catcher Wil Myers, in that order. Who do you see as the best hitting prospect among players remaining in the minors and Santana?

    Grant Tyler Short
    Harrodsburg, Ky.

I'd take Montero, too, for the reasons that Grant suggests. I don't have confidence he's going to stay at catcher for the long term, but I fully believe in his bat. There isn't a minor leaguer who can match his ability to hit for average and power. He started slowly this year but rebounded to hit .351 with 14 homers in 44 games in the second half—as a 20-year-old in Triple-A. A career .314/.371/.511 who always has been extremely young relative to his competition, Montero has strength, bat speed and the ability to barrel balls seemingly at will.

Of the players Grant mentions, only Moustakas is in the same league as Montero in terms of power. The only member of the group who I could see outhitting Montero would be Trout, who's just as precocious and can use his top-of-the-line speed to beat out a lot more infield hits than Montero will. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, has more raw power than Montero but isn't as polished or pure a hitter.

    What's going on with Padres outfielder Donavan Tate? He has lost a lot of development time because of injuries and illness. Why in the world isn't he playing winter ball?

    Brian Koke
    San Diego

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Tate signed for $6.25 million, the largest bonus ever given to a high school position player. He wasn't able to play in his first pro summer or during instructional league because of a sports hernia, then broke his jaw in an all-terrain vehicle accident during the offseason. Shoulder and thumb injuries delayed his debut further in 2010, and the flu cut his stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League short after 25 games.

To date, Tate has just 90 professional at-bats. Some scouts questioned his feel for hitting before the Padres drafted him, and AZL observers thought he had a lot of holes in his swing. No one doubts his athleticism, however.

Tate really has no place to play winter ball. He's not old enough or advanced enough for a stint in the Arizona Fall League or one of the Latin American winter leagues, where more advanced pitchers would carve him up. He did participate in instructional league, with the Padres naming him MVP of their camp.

    How do the compensation picks for not signing 2010 first-round picks affect which 2011 selections are protected from free-agent compensation? The Diamondbacks, Padres and Brewers each have a compensation choice in the top 15.

    Greg Lasorsa

Teams that sign a Type A free agent (in the top 20 percent of players at his position, as determined by a statistical formula) must give up their first-round pick to his former club as compensation. However, they don't have to surrender their top choice if it falls in the upper half of the first round, before factoring the compensation choices for not signing a first-round pick from the previous year.

That means in 2011, the first 18 picks are protected from free-agent compensation—those held by the teams that finished with the 15 worst records in 2010, plus the three extra choices given to Arizona, San Diego and Milwaukee. The top unprotected selection belongs to the Tigers at No. 19. Detroit finished with the same record as the Athletics (81-81), but Oakland gets the No. 18 pick because it had a worse mark in 2009.

« Oct. 11 Ask BA