Talk prospects in Jason's inaugural BP chat.
Jason Cole: It's my first chat here at BP, and I've been looking forward to it. Let's get this going, shall we?
Matt (NJ): Hey Jason, I know you saw Jon Gray earlier this year. I was wondering where you would slot him in the BP preseason top 101 prospect list? Also, is he the #1 draft prospect for you? I've read reports of a 8 fastball, 7 slider, 5 change, does that seem right to you?
Jason Cole: I'd probably throw him in that 20-30 range somewhere. I have a few questions before I'm sold he has legit front-line starter potential, but the raw stuff is definitely fantastic. I'd go about a tick lower on the grades than you have heard – present 7 fastball, 6 slider, 4+ changeup that should get to 5 or 5+. The command was a little iffy when I saw him (and a couple delivery question marks), but he really knew how to use the place that plus slider.
Jay (Montreal): If you had the first pick in the draft this year, do you go with Mark Appel or Jonathan Grey?
Jason Cole: I'd go with Appel. Around all the pro coverage, I've been able to see three of the top college righties in the country this year between Appel, Gray, and Ryne Stanek. That's how I'd rank them – Appel, Gray, and Stanek. Although Stanek's stuff has ticked up since the outing I saw.
Stephen (NY): Burch Smith... reliever or starter?
Jason Cole: If I were a betting man, I'd say reliever, but I also wouldn't rule out starting just yet. He lacks a plus secondary pitch, and the breaking ball is just fringy (at least it was when I saw it last week. I'll see him again tomorrow). But he's got a good body, he commands his fastball extremely well between 92-98 (he even hit 100 over the weekend), and he's got deception with a good delivery. It looks a little like a better version of Carter Capps in the late innings to me, but I could see a starter.
Nick (Oakland): Which A's pitcher should I be more worried about right now - Jarrod Parker or Brett Anderson?
Jason Cole: Purely in the pitching sense, I wouldn't be too worried about either. But I'd go Anderson here just because of all the injury questions. I really love watching Anderson pitch and wish he could get through a full season. Parker's command has been wonky, but the stuff has been okay.
Aaron Harang (IL): Am I at risk of losing my job to Taiwan Walker? Walker has been on fire, just walking too many. Is Walker almost ready?
Jason Cole: No. I think the M's would be making a mistake if they called up Walker in the near future. Yes, the numbers are good. But he needs quite a bit more seasoning. The consistency with his fastball command and curveball need to improve before he can get a look. He has made a few strides this season, and he is in Double-A, but he's not ready yet.
bosox9 (Illinois): You think Buxton top 5 prospect to start 2014 season?
Jason Cole: If he continues anything close to these type of results at his age, it's hard to see how he wouldn't be. With the graduations, he could slide all the way up to #1.
jeffreyarkin (Bay Area): Odds that by the end of the year Matt Wisler is the Padres' top pitching prospect? A top 50/100 prospect?
Jason Cole: Off the top of my head, that's a battle between Fried and Wisler right now. I saw Wisler a few times during spring training, and I'm a big fan. 2/3 starter projection. Four-pitch arsenal. He can throw all four for strikes. If we re-ranked the top 100 prospects today, Wisler is absolutely in there for me. I could easily see him getting up to the top 50.
Alex (Anaheim): Will Heathcott be a significant Yankee in the next couple of years?
Jason Cole: Obviously off to a slow start, but he's got a chance to be an everyday player with a first-division ceiling. I haven't been the biggest Heathcott believer over the years...I don't quite buy the superstar potential that has been floated out. But I think you could get a solid everyday guy.
stevenpsu78 (york, pa): Have you seen Robert Stephenson or Max Fried? Thoughts? Thanks for chat.
Jason Cole: I saw Stephenson during extended spring training last year (Parks saw him in camp this year), and I saw Fried during AZL last year and again this year in camp. My look at Stephenson was quick, but he showed a big fastball (93-94-ish then, it has since jumped) with serious late life. I got a one-inning look at Fried in camp. You have to like the delivery, long limbs, and all that. He sat 90-92 but popped 94 when needed with excellent feel for his curveball. The total package is just a little rough around the edges (there's nothing wrong with that, considering he's just out of high school), but everything you want to see in a big young lefty is there.
John (My desk): Should Dustin Ackley be worried about Nick Franklin's hot start in AAA?
Jason Cole: At this point, Dustin Ackley should probably be worried about both Nick Franklin and Brad Miller. I really liked Ackley a lot coming up, but I wasn't alone there. While he's still 25, it sure doesn't look pretty. I haven't been the biggest Nick Franklin guy, but I do think he'd hit better than .226/.294/.328 in a full season right now. The only question is when you decide to pull the trigger on a potential move if Ackley keeps struggling. Don't forget, he was actually pretty good in 2011, but 2012 and the start of 2013 have been ugly.
Obafemi (Seattle): Can Brad Miller ever be an everyday player for the Mariners?
Jason Cole: This seems like a good place to answer this one. I really think Miller has a chance and tends to get a little underrated, although he got some buzz with a fantastic performance in big-league camp. The total package might play better at second base than shortstop. But for me, it's closer between Nick Franklin and Brad Miller than most people seem to suggest. I wrote up a scouting report on Miller (with video) here yesterday: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20424
Shawnykid23 (CT): Where do you see Yordano Ventura's celing- top of the rotation arm, or elite bullpen option?
Jason Cole: I feel like I have to start this with "if I could answer that, I'd be making a lot more money right now." And I say that just because it's not a stuff issue with Ventura. I think his secondaries and the feel for command will be good enough to start. The only question I have is whether the body can hold up on a year-to-year basis with a 180-200-ish inning workload. So in short: he's at least an elite bullpen option. He has the tools to start; we'll see if the body allows.
Ross (HEB): On a scale of Jurickson Profar (1) to Josh Hamilton (10), how worried are you about Cody Buckel?
Jason Cole: Any time somebody's control issues progress (regress?) to the point where we're calling it "the yips," that meter goes immediately to a 6 for me. I'd say 6 right now (I'm assuming the Hamilton 10 means "very worried"). The good news is that Buckel's stuff is still there. He's kind of made himself a fastball-curveball guy for the time being, but he hit 97 in a recent start and has sat between 89-94, depending on the outing. He's all out of whack mentally and mechanically, though, and that has led to 28 walks in 9.1 innings. He absolutely needs to be in extended spring training soon, in my opinion.
boneil33 (Boston): What do you think of Tyler Goeddel?
Jason Cole: Don't have any reports on him yet from this season, but heard some intriguing things from last year. A couple scouts told me he was one of the org's better projection guys, said he could really backspin the ball, and liked the pure potential. The early results certainly seem promising. One thing I'm looking forward to hearing from scouts: I was told that he lost some weight during last season, which isn't a good thing for him (he's already a slim 6'4"). I'd like to hear how the body looks right now at age 20.
laxtonto (trapped in my office): What is your take on Buckle and how much of a risk is he to fall out as being a prospect after his current bout with not being able to find the zone?
Jason Cole: One other thing on Buckel: I don't think a turnaround is going to happen overnight. It often doesn't with these guys. But I also think you give him up to a couple years to get it turned around. The Rangers have some experience with this – two going the negative direction, and one going positive. Matt Thompson and Kasey Kiker, two former top prospects, both lost their careers to the "yips." Michael Kirkman overcame it. The good thing about Buckel, for now, is that he still has the stuff. Thompson, Kiker, and even Kirkman (for awhile) kind of lost theirs eventually.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Assuming the usual suspects graduate this year (Bundy, Cole, Wheeler, even throw in Walker and Taillon though they may not be called up), who are the the next 4-5 top SP arms in the minors?
Jason Cole: I would even throw J.R. Graham into that list you're working with there. I'm a big, big fan. Appel and Gray will obviously have a chance to be in that discussion as we enter next season. For me, Archie Bradley might very well be the #1 pitching prospect in baseball to open next season. I'd need a little more time to think up an actual top 4-5 (I'll do that prior to the next chat and answer it then!), but Bradley would be my call as #1 if all of those guys happen to graduate.
Paul (Oakland): Aaron Sanchez or Archie Bradley
Jason Cole: Love both. Great question. I guess I'll go Bradley, but I don't think you can go wrong either way there. Saw Bradley in person in camp, and I'm yet to see Sanchez so I might be a little biased. One scout told me this on Sanchez: "If you were to draw up what the perfect projectable right-hander looks like, you'd basically draw up Sanchez."
John (Chicago): How many Dan Voglebach questions are you getting, and which one will you answer? This guy is a better version of Adam Dunn, right? Or were you thinking more along the lines of a fatter Joe DiMaggio?
Jason Cole: This is actually the one and only that I can see, though I have about 100 questions waiting for me. He's a lot of fun to watch, and he rakes. The profile is bat only, but there should be less swing and miss and a better hit tool than Adam Dunn. Long way to go before he's hitting 30-plus homers in a big-league season, but the bat is legit.
Johnny223 (Denver): What gives with Drew Pomeranz? This guy was supposed to be an easy #2, and now he doesn't even get attention from evaluators. Is he ever going to get there?
Jason Cole: Get back to me in a couple weeks on this one. I should see him soon in Round Rock. If/when I do, I'll be writing it up for a Monday Morning Ten Pack, I'm sure.
Colin (PA): Where would Walker fall in the Bradley, Sanchez discussion?
Jason Cole: I haven't seen Sanchez in person, so it's kind of weird comparing him directly with two guys I've seen a pretty good amount of. But I'd take Bradley ahead of Walker, even though it's close. I actually asked that exact question to six or seven scouts this week, and all said the same thing: Bradley over Walker, but pretty close.
Dave (Chicago): How long until the A's give Grant Green a shot at second base in Oakland?
Jason Cole: Never been the biggest Green believer as an everyday guy (probably a second-division type), but there's clearly something there in the bat. He's on the 40 and should at least get a look at some point this season. He might be best fit for a versatile super-utility type role. This is Green's third year in the upper levels, so I think it's about time for a look.
Paul (DC): Is Addison Russell in over his head at Stockton? Offensively he's drawing walks (14), but everything else seems tepid at best.
Jason Cole: I don't think so. He's obviously playing at a high level for a guy who just turned 19. But I haven't seen anything to suggest that he's overmatched. I wouldn't pay too much attention to first-month numbers of HS guys in full-season ball, unless it's just completely disastrous. And that hasn't been the case with Russell.
#1 Starter (Baltimore): Ignoring Bundy's injury, who you got as a better SP- Bundy or Gausman?
Jason Cole: Close. I'll go Gausman slightly, and putting myself at risk for being called out on recency bias.
mark (tuscaloosa): which is more impressive on the defensive side: christian bethancourt or austin hedges?
Jason Cole: Can I have both? You can't go wrong either way. Bethancourt has more pure arm strength, Hedges might end up a little better on the receiving/intangibles end, but either way they should both be well above-average defenders back there. I've seen both this season and really liked what I saw out of both.
Bill (New Mexico): Speaking of "how worried are you about..." guys, how worried are you about Tyrell Jenkins? Is he even on the St. Louis radar screen any more, given the way they've been churning out pitching prospects?
Jason Cole: Not crazy worried yet. With his arm, he's absolutely still on the St. Louis radar. I didn't have a report on him yet, but just asked a scout for you. The response: "Stuff is still there, hasn't been able to make adjustments."
Paul (DC): Gary Sanchez has been hitting a very respectable .272/.352/.467 in the pitcher friendly Florida League at age 20. Do the Yankees finally have a true prospect with All-Star caliber potential?
Jason Cole: Sanchez absolutely has the potential to be an All-Star caliber player, especially with that bat profile behind the plate. It's a potential 6 hit with easy plus raw power that borders on plus-plus. No doubt he's off to a promising start in a league that isn't very friendly for hitters. We had him as the top prospect in the NYY system entering this season, and I haven't seen anything that would change that.
Free_AEC (New Jersey): Aaron Altherr has to be one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this year. His bat is still unknown, but his defensive ability should be understood by now. Is Altherr a solid defensive center fielder in MLB?
Jason Cole: I saw Altherr in Lakewood last year over a four-game look, and I know our Zach Mortimer has seen a lot of him over the last couple years. He probably ends up as a corner guy down the line. Mortimer saw him in camp and told me that he's still a bit raw with his route-running, but he thinks Altherr will be fine in RF in the long run.
Woe is Ike Davis (DC): Is there anything sadder than a Ike Davis owner, or do we deserve this?
Also, someone offered me Clay Buchholz and Mark Reynolds for him in a league where KK:BB replaces strikeouts and there are no wins...is this a fair value?
Jason Cole: I'm not a fantasy guy, so I'm probably not the best guy to answer this question, but that sounds like a fantastic deal. Reynolds and Davis had similar production last season, and you get Buchholz on top of it.
John (Florida): Do you have any updates on Carlos Correas developments in the Midwest league? It seems hes having contact issue by looking at his line even though its a SSS.
Jason Cole: Correa is extremely young for a high school guy. He doesn't turn 19 until after the season ends (September 22). As I said with Addison Russell, I wouldn't overanalyze April numbers of first-year HS guys in full-season ball. Everything I've heard on Correa thus far has been positive. He has swung and missed a little, but he's also drawing walks and showing a little pop. Like Russell, nothing to suggest that he has been overmatched.
Derek (Cali): What prospects stand out to you in having a feel for the game ?
Jason Cole: Jurickson Profar was one who absolutely did as early as 16. You could tell the same about Francisco Lindor right out of high school. Lindor is probably the go-to answer on that question right now.
Tomcat (Sacramento): Rate the start for Brinson, Gallo and Mazarra, Disappointing? Expected?
Jason Cole: Brinson and Gallo: about what I expected in their first month. Mazara: slightly disappointing, but he has consistently put together good at-bats (he sees a lot of pitches), and his on-field makeup is fantastic. I expect Mazara to improve as the season progresses; I wouldn't send him back to extended spring. Also important to note that Mazara just turned 18 a few days ago. He's playing full-season ball with a 1995 birthdate...in case you wanted to feel old.
Shawn (My Cubicle): Are there any notable guys you and Prof Parks strongly disagree on?
Jason Cole: From what I can tell, there aren't many that we're complete opposites on. I think I'm a little lighter on Taijuan Walker than he is, and I think I have a little more belief in Courtney Hawkins than he does. Although given Hawkins' start (45 K's in 23 games!), I'm starting to wonder...even though he is in High-A.
Neill (orlando): Who is your top catching prospect?
Jason Cole: I'd probably still go with d'Arnaud right now. I'd take him first, and then you have the group of Hedges/Bethancourt/Sanchez/Alfaro/Zunino. Those aren't in any particular order.
Jeff (Bay Area): Raymond Fuentes' improvement - small sample size or has his approach or something else changed?
Jason Cole: I saw him a lot in San Antonio last season, and I got a two-game look last week. I'll see him again tomorrow. I wasn't on him at all last year. Just wasn't a fan at all, and it was hard to see any big-league potential. I actually liked him a little bit when I saw him last week. Disciplined approach. Got a fastball up in the zone and smacked it into center for a line drive. Aggressive on the bases. Played well in both CF and RF, showing off a good arm. I think he's got a chance as a reserve outfielder. Just a lot more aggressive and looked like he was playing with more confidence.
On the flip side, I wasn't a believer in Everett Williams' hot start. Struggled in left field. At the plate, a lot of defensive swings against average stuff and weak contact. He was getting some hits, but it was on those defensive swings and really finding holes.
Tyler (Indy): Jed Bradley and Taylor Jungmann: what gives?
Jason Cole: The good news for Brewers fans: I'll see Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg this week. The bad news: I don't have a lot of positive on Bradley and Jungmann. I saw Bradley in camp; his stuff was actually slightly better than last season, but it's still very fringe. 88-91 with a little armside life/sink but was up in the zone. The slider has good shape but was soft. Just fringy all around.
I've seen Jungmann a ton, from his college days to a couple times as a pro. Stuff-wise, the biggest plus for Jungmann out of Texas was his fastball. He could sit comfortably at 92-94 with plus life, reaching 95-97 whenever he got into a jam. It looked like a future bat-destroying pitch. The breaking ball was always just okay, and his changeup came and went. Now Jungmann has been more 89-91 in pro ball, and he'll pop a 93 here and there. It looks like a potential back-end starter. He is a competitor who knows how to pitch, and that'll help him, but the stuff has taken a step back, and he hasn't rediscovered his college velocity.
grandslam28 (chicago): How worried are you about Billy Hamilton's struggles?
Jason Cole: Not too worried yet. If he's still flirting with the Mendoza Line in a couple months, then I'd start to worry a bit.
Matt (Ann Arbor): Any chance Xander is better than Machado eventually?
Jason Cole: There's a chance, sure, to at least be similar. But with one in Double-A and one playing well in the majors at the same age, Machado is obviously the safer bet.
Jerry (St. P): How worried should I be that Miguel Sano is still striking out a ton in high A ball? I can't imagine he will stirke out less as he progresses to higher leagues.
Jason Cole: He's always going to have a lot of swing and miss and might not have an average hit tool (it could be about average, though), but the power is the elite of the elite. Just the type of player he is. I wouldn't worry about it because it's not out of the ordinary for him. For him, he's striking out at a pretty standard rate this year, so I wouldn't say it is changing any projections. If anything, I'd be impressed at what he's doing to that league so far.
Matt (Ann Arbor): why don't walks worry you with young pitchers in a league they are repeating?
Jason Cole: They do. I just don't get too crazy to the positive or negative about one month of results, which for a starter means just a handful of outings.
Bob (TX): It's not obvious from his stat line whther or not Jorge Alfaro has made much progress this year. What's the take from people who have seen him play?
Jason Cole: To me, Alfaro has made more progress going into this season (and early this season) than he has between any of his other pro seasons thus far. There's some inconsistency there both offensively and defensively. But I spoke to a scout who saw Alfaro in Hickory recently, and he commented that Alfaro was the best player on the field. The defense has also been hit and miss, but his receiving and the utility of his plus-plus arm definitely took a step forward in spring training. It's positive on him so far. Not a crazy, crazy jump, but steps in the right direction.
DS (LA): At this point, would you rather have Archie Bradley or Dylan Bundy? How worried are you about Bundy's forearm tightness? Thanks!
Jason Cole: I don't know enough about Bundy's exact situation with the forearm/elbow to know how concerned I should be. I'm not sure if really anybody knows at this point. I'd still take Bundy for now.
Daniel (Missoula): Is Shelby Miller really this good? People seemed to be wavering on that potential ace label this offseason, pushing him back to a #2 type. Has he proved those doubters wrong, yet?
Jason Cole: In a nutshell: pretty much. Maybe not an ace. But there's nothing wrong with a very solid no. 2 starter. Over the offseason, Jason Parks had him as a "high-no. 2 starter" and I'd say he's still on line for that. There were some concerns early last season when he struggled, but Miller was able to lock back in and looked just fine during the second half.
The Dude (The Diamond): Does Carlos Martinez have what it takes to stay a starter?
Jason Cole: Yes. Good chance to stick as a starter. Hoping to see him at some point, along with the Memphis team.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Does Robert Stephenson make a big jump up the top 101 list next year? I've heard some say he's hands down the best players in Reds system and with Hamilton and what Cingrani is doing in MLB now, that's saying something.
Jason Cole: The raw stuff is better than Cingrani's, but Stephenson has a long way to go before he's succeeding in the majors. He's got a higher ceiling, though, and I'd say he's currently in line to jump up the top 101. A long way to go this season still.
boneil33 (Boston): Thanks for doing the chat. In Jason Parks' last chat, he identified Mike Foltynewicz and Burch Smith as two guys that were rising. What do you think of these guys? Who are some other under-the-radar pitchers that might be fast risers?
Jason Cole: I haven't seen Foltynewicz before, but I know he has been flashing some elite velocity out of his 6'4" frame. I'm sure I'll get a look at him in Corpus Christi before the season is over. Burch Smith, who I addressed in this week's Ten Pack and at the beginning of this chat, is certainly rising as well. Just going off guys I've seen, I think Matt Wisler is seriously rising this camp and season. Miguel Almonte with the Royals is another.
michaelmcduffe (ottawa): Hi Jason. Can you tell me about a pitcher on the Crawdads named Alexander Claudio? His early numbers really jump out at you.
Jason Cole: Great early numbers, but definitely more solid lower-level org type than prospect. Sidearming lefty who sits mid-80s with sink, touching 88, and a serious bugs bunny changeup. That thing is mid-60s from sidearm with screwball-like action. Fun to watch, but not really a prospect.
Derek (Stone Mountain): Jason,
Thoughts on Alex Wood and when he might see Atlanta ?
Jason Cole: Definite big-league quality arm. He has a good chance to see Atlanta at some point this season. There's a better chance to start than I'd initially thought, but I think the smart money is still on him in the bullpen as a mid-relief to late-inning lefty. Despite all the funk in the delivery, he repeats and commands his plus fastball well. It's got good life. Change is a potential plus. Breaking ball is better but not great. I was impressed when I saw him in Mississippi. Here's video: https://vimeo.com/65171135
Shawnykid23 (CT): Do you think Nick Castellanos gets called up Det this year? Is he a .300 avg. 20-25 HR player?
Jason Cole: Probably gets a look this year. I'd say that's about his offensive ceiling, yeah. He's off to a decent start in Triple-A, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the game power continues to build as he gets more comfortable there.
Ace (San Francisco): The Giants farm system - pretty empty, no? I squint and hope for the best from Crick / Stratton / Panik, but all I see are a no 3 / no 4 / mediocre 2b ceiling as the top talents in the system.
Jason Cole: You are correct. Crick has a shot to be more. Martin Agosta doesn't have a crazy ceiling, but he can pitch with some pretty good stuff. Mature arsenal there. Good athlete.
I have to give some love to Stephen Johnson, who attended the same Div. 2 school as I did (St. Edward's in Austin). He's off to a good start in Low-A, working 14.1 scoreless innings while allowing four hits, walking five, and striking out 15. The mechanics aren't pretty; he's a reliever all the way. But he touched 101 mph last year from 6'4" and can flash a quality breaking ball on occasion.
paytonlc (Stl): Are we gonna see Myers soon?
Jason Cole: My preseason guess was June, so I'll stick to that. Interested to see how much/if he can help the Rays' offense when he does comes up. I'm with Jason Parks on him...I think he's a solid first-division player, but there are some holes that could be exploited, and he'll have to adjust. But I could see him making an initial impact and providing a boost. With the big-league club struggling, he's a guy who could provide a real positive.
Craig (Boston): Jason,
Garin Cecchini has been on fire this year but haven't heard a whole lot about him. Seems to be an under the radar type prosepct. Thoughts ?
Jason Cole: Zach Mortimer has had a much better look at him than I have, so I tossed this one to him via text message. Here's what he sent me: "plus power potential; gonna throw a 55 ceiling on hit; fringy runner; profiles well at 3B; excellent instincts." Another Red Sox note: I spoke to Mortimer last night, and he said he was very impressed with Blake Swihart.
TPX2 (Taiwan): What prospects in lower-level stand out to you in having a feel for the game?
Jason Cole: Off the top of my head, Raul Adalberto Mondesi impressed big time with his overall feel in spring training. Rougned Odor in High-A with the Rangers is another.
Larry (Indiana): What is the ETA for Javier Baez? Will the Cubs move him aggressively?
Jason Cole: 2015 seems like the safe bet. I think they already have moved him aggressively, getting him up to High-A in his first full season out of high school. I got my first in-person look at him in camp, and if nothing else, it was fun to watch. Serious bat speed and that dude does not get cheated at the plate.
Dan (NYC): Is Domingo Santana someone to be excited about?
Jason Cole: Got my first look at him for three games this past weekend, and I'll see more throughout the year. I think so. He'll flash big raw power to all fields. The approach really isn't bad given his age. He's not afraid to shorten up here and there and go the other way, but he'll also get long at times and miss stuff in the zone. Decent runner for his size (he's a monster) who should be passable (but not great) in right field. Easy plus arm. Has first-division potential.
jharrison3 (Illinois): Which of the Cubs' big 3 prospect do you see flaming out? I know Baez has the highest risk, but that's not exactly what I'm asking. What I mean is; is there one of the three that you look at and think, "I just don't have a good feeling about him reaching his potential." ? Thanks!
Jason Cole: Interesting question. Even though he probably has the highest ceiling of the group, I think I have to go with Baez just because the approach is so loose. In a vacuum, I have the most confidence in Almora. Saw him in the AZL last year and the instincts/feel for the game are so rare for a guy just out of HS. He played a really, really good center field out there.
Josh (Boulder): Carlos Santana and Max Fried for Billy Hamilton and George Springer. Which side of the trade would you rather be on?? Thanks!
Jason Cole: Carlos Santana and Fried.
Kate (Waco): What is CJ Edwards future looking like right now?
Jason Cole: Has a chance to start, but I'm not sure he can add much weight to that frame. Sits comfortably in the low-90s and can touch the mid-90s. I saw him up to 96-97 last year. Plus life on the fastball with natural cutting action. He can spin a curveball, and he'll flash feel for the changeup. One heck of a find for the Rangers in the 48th round, as he's a legit prospect, but the durability is something to watch.
dianagram (VORGville): Thoughts on the strong start in 2013 for Anthony Ranaudo?
Jason Cole: It's very promising and good to see for a guy who had somewhat fallen off the national radar after last season. The early stuff has been good, too; Zach Mortimer wrote after Ranaudo's April 27 start that he was 91-94 with good downward plane and a quality curveball. All signs point to him being back on track.
nubber (tx): Do you think Christian Yelich will be promoted this season considering the Marlins aggressiveness with Jose Fernandez?
Jason Cole: I couldn't even begin to predict what the Marlins are going to do, but I do think Yelich is likely for a cup of coffee this season.
TPX2 (Taiwan): Anything recent on Jairo Beras?
Jason Cole: I'm currently planning an extended spring training trip for late May, and I'll see Beras out there. The early word I've gotten is that Beras has been a little better in extended games than he was in instructs and spring training. The power potential is totally legit, but there's a lot to work out in that swing before he's able to have success in games. I'll have more after I get to extended, but he's definitely headed for a short-season club when that suspension is up in early July.
I also have to see the Mariners' Luiz Gohara when I'm out there for extended. As I wrote in the first Monday Morning Ten Pack of the season, he's a guy that I'm making a priority to see.
Dan (NYC): Here's a scenario I've seen before: Chris Getz has a .250 OBP, Elliot Johnson .240. Johnny Giavotella is slashing .326/.396/.489. What gives? And if the Royals don't want him, can my team have him?
Jason Cole: I somewhat share your frustration, but I've cooled on Giavotella over the last year. He's had a legit shot to grab the Royals' 2B job in spring training each of the last two years, and he hasn't been able to do it with very iffy performances in the spring. He's now in his third year of raking at Triple-A, but he didn't really perform in 50-plus games in MLB last season. I do think he deserves more of a shot given how weak KC is at the position, but I'm less confident on him being a passable everyday 2B now. With that said, it is a weird situation. You'd think he would've gotten more of a chance by now.
Junior (Dallas): Jason,
Have you seen Nick Tropeano and you impressions of him ?
Jason Cole: Saw him last Saturday. It was pretty good. He's somewhere between a back-end starter (no. 4 type) and reliever. Scouts are pretty split. He looked like a starter to me, but I also saw his best outing thus far and was calling the game on TV. I want to see him directly behind the plate and in a good position to scout it. He'll sit in the low-90s and pop up to 94. I thought his slider command on Saturday was impressive...he had it in and out of the zone when he needed to chase strikeouts. A 6'4" guy but some effort and a lot of arms and legs coming at you. High-energy and a little tightly wound that makes you think "bullpen," but he commanded his stuff well when I saw him. Again, want to see more of him from a better point of view so I can say more definitively. It was intriguing though.
AJ (Phoenix): From today forward, better career: Stephen Strasburg or Clayton Kershaw?
Jason Cole: Strasburg for me, but obviously very close. I love everything about Kershaw.
Eric Hosmer (Kansas City): Should my fantasy owners be getting worried?
Jason Cole: Along with Jason Parks, I thought you were going to be incredible. You're still only 23 and will be all season, so don't give up hope yet. But I am starting to get just a little worried. All of the crazy raw talent is still there and you showed it in the big leagues two years ago. Figure it out!
G Money (Atlanta): When do you think Baltimore brings up Kevin Gausmam? He did pitch in the SEC the last three years so he should be good and ready. Think mid June after Super 2?
Jason Cole: Have to think that's the absolute earliest, but I'll go with later in the season, unless the Orioles are in absolute desperate need of a starter (which they may be). If the Orioles are able to hang around, it will be fun to see if he can impact that pennant race should he get up.
Mike Moustakas (Next to Eric Hosmer): I've raised my OBP significantly over my last few games. I've still had a sucky season, but the future's still bright, right?
Jason Cole: I had more belief in Hosmer coming up, and I still lean that way. But I do think the future is still pretty good. I'm pretty surprised that both Hosmer and Moustakas have struggled so much. They're both young, but I (and I think a lot of others) expected more out of the gates. At the very least, it's promising that the Royals are playing well with almost no production from two of their most talented players.
nubber (tx): Do you think Neftali Feliz will be starting or closing in 2014?
Jason Cole: Closing, or in the bullpen somewhere. I think the starting thing is pretty much done.
Shawn (My Cubicle): You seem to be higher than most on J.R. Graham. Is he a SP2/3 type in your eyes?
Jason Cole: He is, and I agree, I think I am higher on Graham than most. He can hold velocity through starts, he's got big life on the fastball, he commands the fastball well, he shows three pitches, and despite his lack of height, he can pitch on a downward plane. When he's up in the zone, it gets flat and hittable, but I think the command is good enough that he can general avoid that. The size thing is an issue. Can he hold up throwing 180-200-plus innings for a number of seasons? That's the question, but I do know that Graham is an extremely hard worker who's very strong and well-built. I do acknowledge that there's a chance he ends up in the bullpen (he should be in the Atlanta bullpen at some point this season), but I think he's a starter. 2/3 type, yeah.
bosox9 (Illinois): Vogelbach and alcantara won't sniff MLB with cubs. You forsee Cubs trading these 2 and junior lake for Starting pitching?! Would love to see David aprice with Mark Appel/jonathon gray on the Northside
Jason Cole: It's going to take a lot more than that to land Price. The Cubs will certainly have the pick of just about anybody in the draft, picking second overall this year.
Pete (Milwaukee): Jason,
Have you seen Jimmy Nelson ? With the mess the Brewers rotation is do you think he gets a look this year ?
Jason Cole: I have not seen Nelson in person. Coming into this year, the reports I had were that he might be a reliever in the long term, but if the Brewers need starters, he's a guy with some stuff and could get a look. Of course, there are also a couple options ahead of him in Triple-A right now.
Or (Oak Cliff (that's my hood)): Hey, Jason! What are your thoughts on Justin Grimm's start to the season?
Jason Cole: Promising. I spoke to Grimm at the end of spring training and he admitted he put too much pressure on himself early in camp while competing for the Rangers' no. 5 job. He was rushing through his delivery and kind of jumping forward with his lower half before the upper half could catch up. He was doing that as well in his first start against Seattle, but has been much better since.
I think Grimm still needs seasoning in Triple-A, because the two-seam fastball and slider will be big for him. His four-seam fastball lacks movement and is very hittable when left over the plate. His two-seamer flashes plus life, but it's something that'll need to be developed in Triple-A. Either way, with all the injuries, the Rangers need him in MLB right now, and he's been good enough through three starts.
Paul (DC): The Nats' Brian Goodwin seems to neither be setting the world on fire nor exhibiting suckitude in his first 100 ABs this year in the Eastern League. Anything good or bad floating in prospect gossip land about him?
Jason Cole: I haven't searched for reports on him yet this season, but I also haven't had any scouts come out and say anything overly positive or negative.
nubber (tx): How are the reports on Jarred Cosart? Solid #s in the PCL so far.
Jason Cole: I actually got a very good report on him recently. His fastball can sit the plus-plus range, and it's got really good life to it. It's good to see him missing more bats right now. The curveball, according to the report I got, has really improved. It's a more consistent pitch and looks like a plus offering. It was just average with good shape but often loose in the couple times I saw him last year. The changeup flashed average as well, but the stuff as a whole played down and he looked like a mid-rotation starter or late-inning reliever. I'm hoping to see him soon, but the report I got suggested there was a better chance at sticking in the rotation than he showed last year. The command will be something to watch with his somewhat wonky mechanics. Early returns are positive though.
Bill (New Mexico): Thanks for all the good work here. Not a prospect question, but I've never seen a good answer for it, so here goes: do you have a sense of how much a typical AAA player, one not on a 40-man roster but possibly having been there a year or two, makes per year? Just how much of a raise is that $3k/game that a guy makes when he finally gets that cup of coffee?
Jason Cole: I've been told before but don't recall exactly. A veteran Triple-A player can make a pretty decent living doing it, though.
genehuh (Los Angeles): How has Jordan Akins looked this season?
Also, did you get a chance to see Yorman Rodriguez this year in the Cactus League?
Jason Cole: Akins is better but still iffy in the grand scheme. Report I recently got from Hickory said that he was crushing fastballs and had little chance against breaking balls. The Reds were kind of my white whale this spring. I did not get a chance to see their minor league side, and I think I only saw the big-league team once. I may be making a quick trip over to California while I'm in Arizona at some point this year, however, so stay tuned there.
DS (LA): What do you see Julio Teheran ultimately becoming? A #3 starter?
Jason Cole: That's probably about fair. Has the potential to be a little more. But #3 is probably a decent bet.
Jason Cole: After more than three hours of chatting, I've got to run. I've got some writing to do and have to prepare to get to DFW tomorrow...I'll be seeing Neil Ramirez vs. Burch Smith. If you have MiLB.tv, you'll be able to listen to me on the color call. I'll be talking about both pitchers. My apologies if your question didn't get answered. There were tons. Thanks for the great questions, and see you next time!