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    La Flama Blanca (Parts Unknown): How do you view the future of Brad Peacock in Oakland? Does he look as good this year as he did last year, even though his surface stats aren't all that impressive, or has he taken a step back?

Matthew Eddy: It's probably most accurate to say that Peacock's performance last season was a bit aberrational and that this season he's pitched quite well at home in Sacramento (2.40 ERA, 29-8 SO-BB) — for whatever five starts are worth. He still has the three-pitch repertoire and control to fit as a mid-rotation arm, possibly as soon as the second half.

    Keith (Manchester, CT): Thanks Matt. Can't wait for Rookie and Short-Season ball to start. What are your expectations for some big names from last 2 drafts, ie. Bubba Starling, Byron Buxton, and Carlos Correa?

Matthew Eddy: I expect that talented first-rounders like the ones you cited will be exciting to watch in person. Some may succeed, some may fail, but don't get too wrapped up in the numbers. We at BA definitely hope to get a chance to catch Correa and Buxton in Appy League play this summer. Starling is already confirmed with Burlington (giving the franchise its best prospect since perhaps Sabathia in 1998), and it looks like Cecchini will head to Kingsport.


Matthew Eddy: Probably the most satisfying way to follow a beleaguered, veteran-bloated big league club is to simply root for the young homegrown players. Take satisfaction when a prospect who rose through the ranks performs well — right now I guess that's Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney — but keep looking forward to second-half callups such as Rizzo and Brett Jackson.

    Ben (Columbus, OH): Tony Cingrani's numbers so far in the minors have been ridiculous. How does his stuff project in the majors? Does he have the ability to be a front line starter, or is he more of a 4 or 5?

Matthew Eddy: Cingrani left Rice as a reliever, but he's obviously experienced nothing but success as a starter in pro ball. If you're inclined to bet on his future, expect to see Cingrani's strikeout rate continue to decrease as more advanced hitters grow accustomed to seeing his changeup and funky mechanics. He could be a pretty nasty late-game reliever, though, and he could get there quickly if starting doesn't work.

    Stu (St. Joseph, Mo): Hultzen is tearing up AA (other than the walk rate), when is he getting the call to the bigs? Where do you see him, front end ace or mid 2 or 3 starter. Thanks

Matthew Eddy: You'll definitely see Hultzen in Seattle during the second half, perhaps after a few tune-up stats with Tacoma. Initially, he'll probably endure some growing pains, but by Year 3 in the bigs he ought to be a No. 2-caliber starter.

    Matthew (Salt Lake City): What would you grade Ozuna's power at from 20-80?

Matthew Eddy: If Ozuna continues to improve his pitch recognition, then he has 70 raw power waiting to be unleashed. His future success hinges on his ability to identify pitches he can drive and making enough contact to punish those pitches. He's got a chance to win his second minor league HR title this season.

    Les Nessman (Cincinnati): All I hear are rants and raves about Jay Marisnick in Toronto, but I don't see anything to be excited about, at least in his stats. What do you think of him now, and where he fits in future for Toronto?

Matthew Eddy: Jake Marisnick is a fine prospect, one who would stand out in any system in the game as a five-tool center fielder. He's got plus tools where it counts, too — power and speed. Marisnick probably shifts to left field in Toronto because of the presence of Colby Rasmus and Anthony Gose, but he can be a solid regular there or a fringe all-star in center.

    John Havok (Lethbridge, AB): Urena, Fernandez and Conley vs. Syndergaard, Sanchez and Nicolino. Who's the better rotation?

Matthew Eddy: The Blue Jays trio has ridiculous growth potential and plenty of "now" stuff and results. As good as Jose Fernandez has been, I think the nod goes to the Lansing Three.

    Ken (Raleigh, NC): Last year everyone was talking about the Royals farm system as one of the best in baseball. A few have graduated to the Bigs (Moustakas, Hosmer, and others). Wil Myers is having a great year thus far. But the pitching seems to be going in the wrong direction and Cheslor Cuthbert looks completely lost. Should Royals fans have concerns about the farm or is it just part of the growing pains of putting together a long-term big league club?

Matthew Eddy: Royals fans have a right to be concerned with the state of pitching development, but patience is advised. (Remember, Zack Greinke didn't complete his first 200-innign season with an above-average ERA until 2008, his fifth year in K.C.) Organizations like the Giants or Rays, who seemingly populate their rotations with homegrown all-star pitchers, really are the exception . . . and even can't-miss lefty Matt Moore has endured his growing pains this season.

    Aaron (New York): There's been all this talk about top prospects like Bundy, Bauer, Jose Fernandez, but can you give us some insight on Zack Wheeler, who hasn't had as much hype as some of these other guys. How does Wheeler compare to some of these other power arms?

Matthew Eddy: Look for more on Zack Wheeler next week in a BA feature. He's a potential frontline guy, with strong velocity, good control, a pair of breaking balls and the sort of mound demeanor clubs look for in starting-pitcher prospects. Ironing out the changeup and overall command will be something he'll continue to work on in the big leagues, but he could be a very good one, and maybe as soon as 2014.

    Brad (MO): Is there anything in the new CBA to prevent Mark Appel from signing a 1 or 2 year deal with a Japanese or Mexican team, then entering free agency?

Matthew Eddy: Good question. Send this one to Jim Callis at Ask BA and he might use this in a future column.

    Landon (BC): What kind of triple slash line could we expect from D'arnaud in his prime years?

Matthew Eddy: He's a 20-homer catcher who might hit .280 in his best years, though he may never be an on-base machine.

    brian (Greensboro, NC): If you had to build a team starting with one player who is currently in the SAL, who would it be?

Matthew Eddy: I think I'd select Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez. Who would you take with the second pick?

    Patrick (Atlanta): What's your take on Cody Asche's success this year? Can he stick at 3B, and do you see more power potential in the bat?

Matthew Eddy: A 4th-rounder from Nebraska last year, Phillies 3B Cody Asche should be able to add power to his game as improves the load in his swing. Check back in two years, but so far so good.

    wayne (camarillo ca): Is Cron a likely DH? I have seen him in person 5 times and he lacks range at first, has stiff hands and is a clogger on the basepaths.

Matthew Eddy: C.J. Cron, the Angels' first-round pick last year, certainly will have a difficult time supplanting Albert Pujols at first base in Anaheim. If he steps up his power production then some team will give him a shot in the bigs, at DH for the Angels or at first for another organization. Thanks for the update.

    brian (Greensboro, NC): I would probably take Gary Sanchez - can't wait to see them both tomorrow in Greensboro!

Matthew Eddy: I also considered him with the top pick in the SAL draft.

    Lloyd (Lakewood): Hi Matt, In your write-up of Adam Lind you said "Las Vegas, a place so favorable for hitters that making evaluations based on results is practically impossible." How does that affect your opinions on D'Arnaud, playing in the same stadium?

Matthew Eddy: The widely disparate league and park contexts in the minors really add a layer of intrigue (sometimes frustration) to prospect evaluation. I try to take those factors into account when ranking prospects for Hot Sheet — and d'Arnaud played four of seven games in Vegas this week — but in his case he's a 23-year-old catcher who has a track record of success and who has hit equally well at home as he has on the road this season. Then there's the unanimous praise he receives from scouts who've seen him play. The degree of confidence we have in d'Arnaud's ability to approach his Vegas statistics at sea level is quite high.

    Mike (Philly): In regards to the SAL pick, 2nd overall Henry Owens

Matthew Eddy: A vote for Red Sox lefty Henry Owens of Greenville.

    vince (Cleveland): With Harper and Trout in the majors now, are there any five tool players in the minors that can do it all?

Matthew Eddy: Sure, there are five-tool players left behind, though perhaps none who flat-out excel in so many areas. I'd nominate Jurickson Profar as the best multi-talented prospect in the minors.

    Shad (Maryland): If your life depended on it (i know heavy stuff!) would you say yes or No.....Billy Hamilton has a 100 SB season in the major leagues. Thanks. I know I'd be tempted not to bet against him.

Matthew Eddy: I would bet against Billy Hamilton stealing 100 bags in the big leagues . . . though perhaps the game will continue to see decreased run scoring to the point where one-run strategies will rule the day. Plus, I bet the Reds will reign in Hamilton before he puts the wear and tear on his body associated with 120-130 steal attempts. For the record, the only players to steal 100 in a season since the dawn of the 20th century are Rickey Henderson (three times), Vince Coleman (three), Lou Brock and Maury Wills (once each).

    Roger (Greenville, SC): In regards to the 3rd SAL pick, I'm considering Rougned Odor, Tyler Austin, and Alen Hanson.

Matthew Eddy: All good nominees . . .

    Tony (Seattle): If you had to pick 5 pitchers in the minors right now to create a 5 man rotation for 2015 who would it be?

Matthew Eddy: Dylan Bundy, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Jameson Taillon and let's say Zack Wheeler. Who would you choose? Have to look at Hultzen or Cole or Shelby Miller or Taijuan Walker, don't you?

    Matt (Virginia Beach): What keeps Hultzen from having No. 1 potential? Every scouting report has No. 2 ceiling, but is that entirely based on his pitches. Can he get a bump for feel, competitiveness, or smarts? What pitch would need to improve to get to a No. 1?

Matthew Eddy: So all the reports agree with one another and . . . they're wrong? With a swing-and-miss breaking ball Hultzen could profile as a No. 1 because, while he's plenty good, he's a pitcher who's going to have to rely on his defense to succeed because he won't be a huge strikeout guy. And that's fine, but to profile as a true ace, a pitcher needs to reliably be able to get swings and misses and strikeouts to get out of second-and-third-with-one-out jams.