Prospects Chat With J.J. Cooper

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J.J. Cooper: Sorry everyone. Jim is going to have to skip the chat, as he just slammed his finger in a door and is headed off to get stitches. I'll be filling in as a surprise pinch-chatter.

    Mike Zando (Milford): I see that Jackie Bradley Jr was voted the most exciting player in the Carolina League. Isn't Xander Bogaerts more exciting than JBJ?

J.J. Cooper: That's a very subjective category—the best player may not be the most exciting category. To me, I'd say Bradley Jr. is more exciting. With his speed and his defense in CF, he's more likely to produce a highlight play on any given night than Bogaerts.

    Patrick (Atlanta): When does Adam Eaton make his appearance in the show? Do you see him as a regular MLB starter?

J.J. Cooper: He can't be too far now. For him, the line between fourth outfielder and starter is a pretty thin one that will depend in part on opportunity, If he can find a spot on a team in need of a top-of-the-order hitter, I could see him as a regular.

    Chris (Phoenix): At this point, do you still consider Trevor Bauer to be the D'Backs' top pitching prospect, or would you give that honor to Tyler Skaggs?

J.J. Cooper: I'm still saying Bauer. And that's still a pretty insanely deep group of pitching prospects in Arizona.

    Wil Myers (Omaha, NE): What's my ETA, Jim? Do you believe I have anything left to prove in AAA?

J.J. Cooper: I'm surprised he's still in Triple-A, but at this point you have to wonder if he's even coming up. The Royals have some deadspace on the 40-man roster so they could make a move if needed, but it seems like Kansas City has settled into a Dyson-Francouer platoon arrangement for now. Other than making a run at Minor League Player of the Year, there's not much more for Myers to do in Omaha.

    Dick H (Chicago): What is your take on Alan Hanson playing low A ball for the Pirates? Middle infielder with pop or power due to league and competition he's facing?

J.J. Cooper: Absolutely a legit prospect. More of a top-of-the-order guy with some pop than a No. 4 hitter. There are some questions if he can stick at shortstop, but with Marte now in the big leagues, he's battling Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco for the title of Pirates' best position prospect.

    Tony (Illinois): What are Mark Appels options if he's not picked 1st nexted year and he wount settle for 4th or 5th pick slot money ?

J.J. Cooper: No one but Mark Appel can answer that for sure, and he's probably not even figured out what he would do in that situation. A lot depends on his senior season. If he comes out and takes a significant step forward from last year, than the money issues likely work out. If he shows inconsistency where he's not a clear No. 1 or No. 2 guy headed into the 2013 draft, than it's likely he'll have to decide how important it is to him to get onto the field and how important it is to get more money than he turned down this year.

    Chris (Atlanta): Why doesn't major league baseball incorporate international players into their draft like the NBA? Seems like making them all free agents is a huge advantage for big money teams to sign all the top players internationally. Getting them into the draft would also cut down on the ridiculous signing bonus' paid to these players.... what gives????

J.J. Cooper: I don't mean to sound rude, but you saw that they have implemented a signing bonus limit for each team internationally, right? Teams are limited in how much they can spend. Sorry your argument for the way it worked in the past doesn't hold much water either. The Pirates, Royals and Blue Jays were among the top six teams in international spending in 2011, while the Yankees weren't in the top 10. So that doesn't seem like anything where big market teams are beating up on small market teams. Even the biggest spenders in Latin America usually were spending $5-$7 million on bonuses in a year, that wouldn't break the budget for any big league team.

    Greg (Storrs, CT): Trout has burst onto the scene this year after a so so debut last year.. Harper is doing pretty well for a 19 year old. Five years from now who would you imagine most MLB teams would want Meaning how much has this season elevated Trouts ceiling versus the limitless ceiling all foresee for Harper?

J.J. Cooper: Easy to take the copout and say teams would be thrilled to take either. If you want to say Trout's ceiling is higher than Harper's now, you can make that argument because all he has to do is keep doing what's he's done this year and he's an all-time great. Harper still has to make the jump to that level of production.

    Danny (miami): With the way Jose Fernandez is pitching in Jupiter, any chance he starts next season in Jacksonville? If yes, do you see him getting the call to Miami in 2013? If no, when?

J.J. Cooper: Pretty good chance he starts next year in Jacksonville. I could see him being there late next year if everything goes right, but do remember, Double-A and Triple-A can often slow down a pitcher's timetable. Just ask Shelby Miller.

    Derek (Indiana): Thanks for the chat, Jim. Trevor Story vs Alen Hanson. Two 19 year old shortstops. Who would you consider to be the better prospect, and do either realistically project to stay at SS?

J.J. Cooper: Think Story is more likely to stay at SS. Would take Hanson overall, but it's close.

    Greg (Storrs): JJ, In one word describe your love for billy hamilton Don't worry I love him too, won't judge

J.J. Cooper: Geez, this is a 80 mph fastball where the catcher warned me it was coming. I love checking the box scores every night to see if he got a steal or two. I'm a big fan of the history of minor league baseball, so seeing a player have a chance to break an all-time record excites me a lot. Hamilton is a player that other players and other teams coaches and scouts are excited to see. He's going to be a very fun player to watch in the majors someday.

    TheHurl (Toronto): a 23 year old Pillar over Sano and Rosario for best Midwest hitting prospect seems odd. Was it close? Anyone else in consideration

J.J. Cooper: Production in those leagues understandably matters to managers when they cast their votes. Rosario missed a good bit of time, which likely hurt him in the voting. As far as Sano, he's got great power, but no one seeing him this year is saying that he looks like a future batting champ. He's got a pretty raw approach right now.

    Drew (IL): I know it is only 3 games, and I know the K rate at AAA was quite alarming, but pitchers don't strike out like Brett Jackson strikes out. Gets in an 0-2 count followed by breaking ball low and inside and he swings right over it. Do you think it has been so bad it is in between his ears, or does his swing just have that much hit and miss?

J.J. Cooper: Count me into the camp of people who thinks that Jackson's strikeout troubles will significantly limit his ceiling. He's got Drew Stubbs strikeout problem, but without as much power, speed or defense.

    Max (OR): Do you have a report on anyone in the minors with better pure velo than Bruce Rondon?

J.J. Cooper: Not in the minors. Have heard reports of him touching 102 and 103 this year.

    Louis (The Show Me State): I've heard some whispers that Oscar Taveras could be called up this year. If he's indeed called up what kind of performance can we expect?

J.J. Cooper: It will be a small enough sample size that anything from hitting .150 to .400 wouldn't be shocking—he's not likely to get more than 75 ABs if he does get called up. I think it's just as likely that he spends the rest of the year in Double-A.

    steve (Lincoln): What are your thoughts on young Royals arms, Kyle Smith and Sam Selman. High ceiling guys or command guys dominating younger leagues?

J.J. Cooper: No one has ever described Selman as a command guy. He's more of a hard-thrower who's still figuring out how to find the strike zone at times. Smith is an advanced feel guy who can baffle hitters with his advanced approach.

    Joey (Canada): As of right now, is Wilmer Flores a top 100 prospect again?

J.J. Cooper: I'd say on the outside for now, but he'll get a look, which is a lot more than could have been said at this time last year.

    Tom (San Francisco, CA): J.J., could you envision D.J. Davis going nuts on the basepaths, a la Billy Hamilton, sometime in the near future? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: Not a la Billy Hamilton. I don't think we'll see anyone go Billy Hamilton nuts on the basepaths for at least another decade. How many guys in pro baseball history had the capability of stealing 150 bags in a season? Five? 10? Guys like that don't come around very often. You can find guys who are faster than Hamilton, but it's very hard to find guys with his combination of quickness and speed. As I Tweeted (@jjcoop36) yesterday. Willie McGee was thought to be faster than Vince Coleman if you raced the two of them, but McGee stole 50 bases once in the majors. Coleman stole 77 or more in each of his first six seasons. The reason was because Coleman could get to top speed so much more quickly. That meant he could get a longer lead (because he knew he could get back) and he was faster in the 75-foot dash on a steal attempt.

    Alex (DC): is Carlos Rodon already a favourite to go no.1 overall in the 2014 draft? Strasburg like pitcher right?

J.J. Cooper: Yes. If his next two years go anything like his freshman year, it would be a surprise if he wasn't 1/1. I think he would have gone No. 1 in 2012 if he had been eligible to be drafted.

    Jason P (NJ): Where do you see Cody Asche in 2 years? He is holding his own at AA now. Is he the future 3B of the Phillies?

J.J. Cooper: Not ready to say he's a future big league regular, but it's been a very nice start for Asche. He should at least have a big league utility role with a chance for more.

    Paul (Baltimore): Doesn't the home/road splits for Trevor Story bother you? Ashville is known for being kind to hitters.

J.J. Cooper: It does, but scouts who see him really like the tools.

    Jordan (Dallas): How much of a concern is Nick Castellanos' 5/49 BB/K ratio in AA?

J.J. Cooper: Concerned, but don't think it will be a long-term problem. He's adjusting to a tougher league while learning a new position. That's a lot to be thinking about.

    Mike (Orlando): Can a pitcher be a dominant reliever with a fastball/change-up combo or do they definately need a breaking ball?

J.J. Cooper: I think you first need to break out righties and lefties. Scouts and pitching coaches I've talked to generally think that a lefty can succeed more with a fastball and changeup than a righthander. It's hard to find many scouts who think a righthander without a breaking ball can be a starter, but I do think they can survive as relievers if the changeup is a really good pitch. Still would rather have the guy with a good breaking ball. I notice you said dominant reliever. Trevor Hoffman would seem to indicate you can.

    Tony (MN): With Will Middlebrooks at 3B and having just drafted Deven Marrero, do you think Xander Bogaerts will start seeing time in the OF?

J.J. Cooper: Slow down there. We don't even know if Marrero is a big leaguer yet. Learning the outfield is easier than learning an infield position, so there's no reason to move him until either he makes you move him with his play or at the point where you have a position logjam at a level.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Do you think Tony Cingrani may have a tired arm upping his innings last year to this year quite a bit, or is the level of competition finally catching up to him?

J.J. Cooper: I think he wasn't sharp after skipping a start. In his last outing he was back being impressive.

    Alex (DC): if Appel is selected 1st next year, the astros could offer him well below slot and he would probably have to accept it right? i mean he has no leverage

J.J. Cooper: He doesn't have to accept it. He could go back into the draft for a third year. Is it likely he'd do that? No. But if he received an offer he considered insulting, then there are other (not particularly appealing) options.

    Patrick (Atlanta): What's your take on Adam Morgan? He seems to have a plus fastball to go along with a change and slider that verge on plus. Do you see him as a #2/3 starter, or a far different take on his future?

J.J. Cooper: I'm a big Morgan fan. He's a very good sleeper prospect who has command + stuff. I see him as a potentially very solid No. 3.

    Jack (MA): Was Javier Baez considered for best Midwest League hitting prospect? I know neither of them has played much this year, but I would have imagined it being between him and Rosario.

J.J. Cooper: He was eligible, but by getting a late start to his season he was also not seen by as many managers which affects his chances of winning the category.

    Brian (Philly): What do you think about Cesar Hernandez? He's done nothing but produce and yet isn't on any top 100 prospect list?

J.J. Cooper: Sorry but he's not close to a Top 100 list. When you say he's done nothing but produce, he's a high-average guy who's offensive production is tied almost entirely to his batting average. He doesn't walk a whole lot, he has some speed, but he struggled to use it on the basepaths because he gets thrown out a lot trying to steal. He's average defensively at second. Add it all up and he's an OK prospect, but not a great one.

    John Jones (Miami): You are the Lenny Harris of chats!!!

J.J. Cooper: Can I be the Manny Mota?

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): What are your thoughts on Robert Stephenson? Does he have a top of the rotation ceiling?

J.J. Cooper: Yes he does. Figuring out who is the top pitching prospect when I write up the Reds Top 30 will be tough with Stephenson, Corcino and Cingrani.

    Tim (Frisco, TX): Is Jordan Akins a lost cause?

J.J. Cooper: No. He was known to be a completely raw toolshed. He's shown exactly that this year. He had to be expected to struggle.

    Dioni (Illinois): Could Javier Baez open next year in AA and be on the fast track to be the Cubs savior?

J.J. Cooper: I'd say it's more likely he starts the year in high Class A and gets a quick promotion to Double-A with a strong start, but that's not out of the realm of possibility.

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for the questions but I've got to wrap this up. Hopefully Jim will be fully healed and ready to return next week for the Wednesday chat.