Prospects Chat With Chris Kline

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
Joey Votto is having quite a year in AA: 18hr's, 55rbi's, OPS'ing .980, and he is only 22. Do you think he has a chance to be on the Top 50 or 100 prospect list?

Chris Kline: Hey everyone . . . and sorry for the delay. Former BA intern Josh Cooper is in the house.

Chris Kline: Dewayne, I see Votto as a top 100 guy, certainly. He's crushing, and I'm really looking forward to seeing a show in BP at the Futures Game on Sunday.

 Q:  Ben from NYC asks:
Hi Chris, Thanks for the chat! Your esteemed colleague Jim Callis has gone on the record as taking Jon Lester over Phil Hughes (by a hair, to be fair) -- who do you prefer?

Chris Kline: Well, I'd probably take the lefty too. And Hughes is one of my favorite pitchers in the minors . . . Both have great poise and makeup, I'd just favor the lefty over the righthander in this case. By a horse hair.

 Q:  Marty Rafter from Schweinfurt, Germany asks:
Dodgers LHP Scott Elbert has put up some great numbers on what seems to be a pretty weak Vero Beach team in the High Class A Florida State league, yet he didn't get selected for the FSL All Star Game, or the Futures Game. Are there simply that many pitching prospects out there that are better than him, or has he not been the dominant, ace LHP in person that the numbers on paper would make it seem? Thanks!!

Chris Kline: Germany Represent! Sorry about the World Cup, dude. I had Spain in our in-house bracket--yeah that's right--a World Cup bracket . . . so I'm out too. Anyway, Marty, setting the Futures Game rosters is a little tougher than most people probably realize. In Elbert's case, it didn't come down to him versus other pitching prospects, but other Dodgers. And for me, there are few arms I'd take over Elbert on the U.S. staff--starting with Homer Bailey.

 Q:  Fans from Purple Row asks:
Could you argue Chris Iannetta as the Rockies top prospect over Stewart and Tulowitzki? If not, could you say that Tulowitzki has passed Stewie?

Chris Kline: I don't think so, though I think Stewart is a little overrated. Personally, vanity plates on vehicles just plain bother me--especially when players have them. Stewart's is BIGFLY, and to me, that's a little creepy. But in reality, I worry more about the wrist problems he's had since last season--I think that's becoming more and more of a question mark. For me, Tulo is No. 1 in that org. Big-bodied shortstop with power who's an above-average defender. Obviously you'd like to see more out of him in the plate discipline department, especially as a leadoff hitter this season at Double-A Tulsa. But he's going to be a quality big leaguer for a long time.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Joe Koshansky has put up some good numbers this year and I might try to argue that JoKo is better than Shealy at this point. Agree or disagree?

Chris Kline: Keeping on the Rockies' tip . . . Agreed. Koshansky has just become a much better overall hitter. He's not that one-dimensional pull hitter he was last season--he's using the whole field and hitting for average as well. He's come to the understanding that the power is in there, he just has to square balls up more regularly and he's done that.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Chris, Futures Game catcher Neil Walker is down to .256 with no power and no walks. I want to believe that he is still recovering from the hand injury, but he really hasn't shown much since returning and, if anything, he has regressed the last couple weeks. Please tell me that he will be OK, because the Pirates desperately need him to be an impact player.

Chris Kline: Joel, it was a wrist injury that required surgery, so that's sapping a lot of the power and a lot of scouts I talked to--as well as people in the Pirates front office--say he's still trying to find a comfort level, both at the plate and behind it. That will come in time, and Walker has impact potential. I'm just not sure that impact will be felt behind the plate in the long run.

 Q:  Dustin from Lansing asks:
What is Cameron Maybin's power potential? Could he be a future 3030 guy? And why isn't Humberto Sanchez cracking your Hottest Prospects list??? He is killing AAA!!

Chris Kline: Maybin could be that type of guy. Tremendous power and speed--and his instincts for the game are off the charts. I just talked to a scout who graded him out a lot better than Justin Upton, if that's any indication. Upton, apparently, isn't showing much of anything beyond his OK numbers in the Midwest League. Sounds like he's on auto-pilot, while Maybin is pushing himself to get better every day. Re: Humberto--we'll work him again soon.

 Q:  George Zipp from Dallas, TX asks:
Who will have the better MLB career?: Matt Garza or Nick Adenhart

Chris Kline: Zipper, I'll go Adenhart, based on age and stuff--both guys have that kind of moxie you look for, but to me, Adenhart's easy delivery and that plus changeup set him apart.

 Q:  Dan from Windsor, CT asks:
Is Philip Hughes a legitimate number one starter and ace of a staff, or is he more of a number two starter? Also, when do you think he will make his big league debut?

Chris Kline: He's a front-of-the-rotation guy and I think he could make his debut this season. The question is for what club? We're likely to find out after the 31st.

 Q:  George from Paterson,NJ asks:
Which one is better?Phillip Hughes or Mike Pelfrey?And why

Chris Kline: Interesting question, and I'm likely to go high school over college . . . So I'll go Hughes. Both have a chance to be dominant front-of-the-rotation guys, but Hughes might be my No. 1 pitcher in the minors right now.

 Q:  Kevin from Florida asks:
What do you think of Jose Garcia SP Florida. He seemed to come out of nowhere but has shown some great stuff , whats his ceiling and is he climbing the charts quickly.

Chris Kline: Garcia just got called up to Triple-A Albuquerque a couple hours ago, so yes, he's obviously climbing fast after starting the year in the Florida State League. He has great stuff, but also has the tendency to let his emotions get the better of him. He buzzed a guy last week after he gave up a bomb against Tennessee, then hit him in the back. He's fiery and attacks when he's on the mound--he just needs to keep that stuff under control more. The PCL will be an interesting challenge and he'll have to become more of a pitcher in that league--no doubt.

 Q:  Mac from Baton Rouge asks:
Please discuss prospects S. Drew and T. Tulowitzki and which player projects as the better offensive player.

Chris Kline: As we did in the comp on these guys last week, it all comes down to personal preference. Drew will hit for a better average, both have comparable power and Tulo is slightly better defensively. For me, it comes down to do you want a guy who's going to play hard all the time or a guy who takes days off? Tulo is much more likely to reach his ultimate ceiling--I don't think there's any question how big Drew's toolbag is--it's just a matter of how much does he want to break them out and use them?

 Q:  Wally from Atlanta asks:
With chuck james now in the majors and lerew struggling who would you list as the braves top 3 SP prospects ? thanks in advance for the info.

Chris Kline: I go Matt Harrison, Beau Jones and Jake Stevens--though Stevens has certainly scuffled this year. Right now, it's Harrison that has separated himself from the rest of the pack.

 Q:  Fabian from Bronx, NY asks:
Jose Tabata, if I remember correctly, has now taken the title of youngest player to play in the Futures Game. How good of a prospect is he and what types of things are being said about him?

Chris Kline: He is, and he has plus tools across the board. The biggest thing to me is how much his strike zone discipline has improved. In April it was a 20-2 K-BB ratio. Now it's 56-26. He's making adjustments at that age in low Class A, which is impressive to see. Tabata has plus-plus bat speed, which usually projects big time power as he fills out . . . stay tuned.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
Jose Arredondo had a great AA start last night. What are your thoughts on his season so far? Is he the best Angels pitching prospect? Is he an elite arm?

Chris Kline: Arrendondo also had the best fastball in the Cal-Carolina all-star game, touching 97 several times in his one inning of work. The fastball has a tendency to flatten out at times, which leads to guys turning that around on him. I don't know if I'd say elite arm just yet, but he's been impressive. I'd just like to see more out of his offspeed stuff. Adenhart is the Angels best pitching prospect.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
Early Top 5 to watch for the minor league player of the year award?

Chris Kline: Berg-Piece, Wow. Good question, even though it's not early. We start tracking players for our minor league POY watch as camp breaks. Right now I'll go with Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Chuck Lofgren, Yovani Gallardo and Homer Bailey.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
Is Jay Bruce as good as the numbers indicate?

Chris Kline: I'll give you guys a little preview of a scout's view on Bruce that I actually got this morning . . . "Bruce is the best hitter in the league--period. He's a right fielder who's going to hit for a high average with plus power production. He's an above-average outfielder with plus instincts. I known people are going to mention Larry Walker as a guy he could be like. Jay Bruce is going to be a special player." I think that says an awful lot.

 Q:  Hap Goyter from Krispy, NC asks:
Has Kevin Kouzmanoff improved his standing among scouts with his mind-boggling .432 average this year?

Chris Kline: Krispy, NC? Must be West Coast, yo. Kouzmanoff has inflated his value through performance this season--seriously. His problem in the past has always been being a little old for his leagues--no fault of his own. The guy just rakes. But I worry about two things: 1) medical. He missed two months last year with back problems, then had back and hamstring issues this year. 2) the possibility of moving him off 3B. He plays a solid third--nothing pretty, but he maes all the plays. With Andy Marte in the system ahead of him, and given his performance, what do you do? Move him to first? That doesn't make much sense. It's just a very intriguing situation and he needs to stay healthy--bottom line.

 Q:  Benji Worthen from Breyer's Tower, Mass asks:
What is the current view of Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury? Is he shooting up the charts?

Chris Kline: Ellsbury is the best OF in the Carolina League. He just lost a lot of development time with the hamstring problem earlier this season. To his credit, when he came back from a stint in extended, he was awesome--stole something like seven bags in his first 10 games. For what it's worth, between Ellsbury and Indians first-rounder last year Trevor Crowe, most scouts I've talked to take Ellsbury, who is a burner and a plus defender who has the ability to hit for some pop.

 Q:  Mark from Boston asks:
I know Justin Upton hasn't proven anything yet in the minors, but considering the Futures Game is more about prospects than it is about performance, shouldn't Upton be there?

Chris Kline: Mark, That was a tough call--believe me. But consider the other two Diamondbacks going--the World needs Miguel Montero to catch (and he deserves to go) and Drew is one of the top SS in the minors. How do you leave either of those guys off? Rememeber--no more than two players from every org. In the end, Upton will have other opportunities to go. Or at least one, next year.

 Q:  Chris from St. Louis asks:
What's the deal with Terry Evans? He's a career .239 hitter going into the season and then all of the sudden he's a stud. I've read today's daily dish about him, but want to know if his success is likely to continue or is going to go back to hitting .239?

Chris Kline: Your guess is as good as mine--truthfully. Is it possible that Evans just found his stroke? I find it a little hard to believe that nothing changed mechanically in his swing, but whatever it is, a lot of players probably wish they could find that "inner peace" Evans described.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
AAA pitchers. Edison Volquez, Jason Hirsh and Ubaldo Jimenez? Who do you like most of out those 3.

Chris Kline: I'll go Jimenez, Hirsh, Volquez. And as I just wrote that, I was considering flip-flopping the top two. I'm just not a big Volquez believer.

 Q:  Steve from St. Louis asks:
How can you leave Colby Rasmus off the U.S. squad?

Chris Kline: Steve, Clubs are usually a little wary of giving us their low Class A guys, and there's no doubt he deserved to go. But I mean, just look at the guys ahead of him. Like Upton--and jay Bruce for that matter--Rasmus will be a Futures Gamer down the road. It just didn't work out that way this year.

 Q:  Pender Lee from Paris Lick, TX asks:
What's the ceiling on Trevor Crowe? He's having a great year at Kinston for the Indians.

Chris Kline: Provided he doesn't move to 2B down the road, Crowe becomes a solid defender in left with enough power to stay at that position. Personally, I hope he moves to second--and I think he has the aptitude to handle that move. He certainly has the athleticism. He's moving up to Akron tomorrow, by the way.

 Q:  ben from dc asks:
It seems the Nats are doing a lot. How is their farm system shaping up?

Chris Kline: Define "doing a lot." Their system is definitely not top 10 and lacks real impact players in my opinion. I like Frank Diaz OK, but is he anything more than an average big leaguer? I like what Casto's done with the bat considering everything he's been asked to do position-wise, but what is his ultimate ceiling as a left fielder? I'm just not on the Nats right now.

 Q:  Ted from MN asks:
Now that Drabek signed is he instantly one of the Phillies' top prospects because of his amazing stuff and there weak farm system? Where would he rank in the Phillies top 30?

Chris Kline: I say he ranks No. 1--little question of that given Gio Gonzalez's struggles and Scott Mathieson's graduation.

 Q:  Henry Thompson from Tiburon, Ca asks:

Chris Kline: In Rochester I guess. Hopefully he'll join us for some fine, fine Indian cuisine at Dale's when the Red Wings land in Durham at the end of the month.

 Q:  Henry Thompson from Tiburon, Ca asks:
Besides Homer Baily does Nick Adenhart have the most potential on the US staff?

Chris Kline: I like Eric Hurley OK, but Hughes is more in the league you're talking about here.

 Q:  Cody Pancake from C-ville, VA asks:
What can you tell us about Tampa's Jason McGee? Some say he has outpitched Wade Davis to become one of Tampa's top pitching prospects.

Chris Kline: I just got a Jeff Suppan comp on Wade Davis today, but glowing reports on McGee. McGee has a plus slider, plus changeup and good life on his fastball, which is 94-96.

 Q:  J Ellis from Winston-Salem asks:
Is Nolan Reimold the real deal?

Chris Kline: I think he is, though I have some doubts about the five-tool tag that's been thrown on him. He runs OK now, but I see him slowing down as he gets older--but plus raw power with above-average arm strength. Just classic right field tools.

Chris Kline: All right--I have to get on out of here to finish up some issue stuff before flying north to Pittsbugh. I'm sure we'll be providing you with a ton of coverage from this year's Futures Game. Thanks for all the great questions, and apologies for not being able to take them all. You guys are awesome and I really appreciate you taking the time. CK