Chat with Mark about scouting, prospect rankings, and the AFL.
Mark Anderson: Okay folks, I've got a 2-3 hour window for questions this afternoon (and maybe some time later tonight to catch late questions), so let's get to talking about prospects and whatever else is on your mind!
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Mark, What is your best guess at Bryant;s and Baez's long term position?
Mark Anderson: With Bryant, I think he fits pretty squarely in right field long term. I think he is capable of handling the hot corner adequately, but I prefer him in the outfield. As for Baez, it all depends how patient the Cubs want to be with him. If they are willing to exercise some patience, he has everything necessary to play shortstop at the Major League level. If the bat forces the issue and he's called up before the glove can fully develop, then I think he ends up a third base where reaction and instinct can carry the load and keep him from over-thinking things.
Cal Guy (Cal): Assuming both end up as career RF's, who has the higher ceiling, Bryant or Myers?
Mark Anderson: This is an interesting question, as they are very different players. Bryant has exceptional raw power while Myers offers good pop, but nothing on the order of Bryant. I think both will be fine hitters with solid approach at the Major League level, and defensively, I don't think there will be a massive difference between the two. Given that, Bryant's edge in raw power likely pushes him slightly ahead for me, but it is extremely close.
Josh (Port Charles): Everyone has their own way of evaluating and ranking prospects with various elements/attributes affecting how they rank players: proximity to the big leagues, #want, #rig, #sparkle, #slack, #wet, present skills, ceiling, overall package offered, and makeup among others. What would you say you look for when decided between a coin flip for top prospect in a team's system?
Mark Anderson: The simple way to put this is we all have our biases. It's funny, but for so long I tried to sell myself as truly objective in my reports and rankings. Over the last two years I have taken more pride in owning my biases, acknowledging them and allowing that to be who I am as a scout and evaluator.
More to the point of your question, I am unabashed tools whore, and I admit at times that this can be a fault in my analysis. I love the dream of what a player's tools represent and I prefer those tools, the dream and the (potentially unrealistic) ceiling of a player. I tend to lean toward those players high in my rankings and if I consider two players of relative equal value, I will likely push the higher ceiling/more toolsy player ahead in the rankings; unless the performance/experience gap is so vast that I can't ignore it.
Jonah (Redwood): Per the mid-season Top 50, the top 10 Starting Pitching propects in baseball (that are still prospect eligible) were: Archie Bradley, Kevin Gausman, Taijuan Walker, Jameson Taillon, Dylan Bundy, Mark Appel, Robert Stephenson, Carlos Martinez, Noah Syndergaard, and Aaron Sanchez. What would an updated list look like? I assume Jonathan Gray would be somewhere in the middle of the pack, no?
Mark Anderson: I think there are some slight differences that you'd see here. Globally speaking, I think everyone recognizes that Noah Syndergaard has vaulted himself higher up a list of this nature. Speaking personally, I have always been on the lower end with my Dylan Bundy projections and I would push him down the list some. Gray would be in the mix toward the back of this pack for me, and that's not a slight against him, I just don't believe he is quite on par with some of the other names in this group.
jadelman (Syracuse, NY): It's a Mark Anderson chat, so I just have to ask another Jake Thompson question. I've been reading various reports on the player and two divergent views seem to be out there. One claims the slider is a plus or potentially plus pitch; the other claims it lacks bite, and while he relied on it to get Low-A hitters out he won't be able to use it effectively against major league hitters. Do you have an opinion on which of these is more likely?
Mark Anderson: To be quite honest, both are reasonably evaluations. I have seen Thompson's slider in game action as a true plus pitch, and I have also seen it in game action without the same snap. He's very young and very early in his developmental path. Consistency with the slider is one of the big things he has to work on. The raw ingredients are there for him to spin a legitimate plus slider down the line, but it's not there every time he throws it right now. I lean toward him having an above-average slider at his peak and I think you'll see that begin to manifest more frequently in 2014 and 2015.
Bill (Florida): Every time I've watched Gregory Polanco play, I can't help but see a young Felix Pie. Polanco seems to have a similar build and Tool set to PIe when he was a prospect. Am I wrong? I hope so...
Mark Anderson: I think Polanco has a better feel for the game than Pie did, and this coming from someone that was slow to come on Polanco in 2012. When I saw him at the end of 2012, he surprised with his feel for the game, how well he took to instruction and how well he adjusted to what pitchers were doing against him. Those are not necessarily things Pie did well. That gives Polanco an extreme edge in avoding the same fate as Pie. I'm a believer in Polanco being an impact big leaguer.
Seth (Detroit): According to your recent post, the Tigers have 50(!) prospects! Do we really have 50 prospects???
Mark Anderson: It depends how you want to define prospects, but yes. The back of that list gets extremely thin and ventures into the realm of up-and-down/org types, but there are certainly 50 guys on the list.
Travs Hound (Arkansas): Jorge Alfaro seems to have enjoyed a fine AFL at the plate. What are your observations of his progress defensively? Does he have the skills to stick at the position? Thanks.
Mark Anderson: I have not seen Alfaro this fall, but the people I have spoken with have seen flashes of defensive progress. The arm is crazy good and one of the best in the business. The receiving and defensive attributes are coming along but he still struggles at times. The tools are there for him to be an asset, but it is going to take time. As for him sticking at the position, I believe he does stay there long term.
TR (Baseball Withdrawal): Have any of the 2013 draftees outside the top 10 picks made huge jumps up the prospect lists for you since the draft?
Mark Anderson: Both Reese McGuire and JP Crawford -- though not far outside the top ten picks -- have really impressed the scouts I spoke to this summer. Another name that's had some helium, and you'll get to read more about him tomorrow in the White Sox Top 10, is right-hander Tyler Danish.
Tim (Here ): Best guess on Sean Manaea...legit high end arm or small sample mirage bound to blame out? Which boat are you jumping in?
Mark Anderson: It all depends how he comes back from the injury he sustained last spring. If the stuff returns, he has the potential to develop into an extremely good prospect. If I could predict where he'd go from here, I'd be a rich man, and if teams could predict that, he likely wouldn't have been available in the supplemental round.
Mike (Utica, NY): What was your take on Arizona 2nd Rounder Justin Williams and how big of a ceiling does he have. Does his age play a significant factor into this as he is 18 almost the entire 2014 season.
Mark Anderson: Williams has a lot to prove for me. The raw power is fun to watch, but his hitting approach/ability are extremely raw (despite the early results this summer) and he's going to settle in left field; putting a ton of pressure on the bat. I like him and I think he can become a solid player with good thump, but I'm not buying him as a monster prospect quite yet.
Tony (MN): What prospects do you think will have the most helium this offseason?
Mark Anderson: It may seem odd to say, but Carlos Correa is going to blow up this winter, and by this time next year, he's going to be discussed with Byron Buxton as one of the two or three best prospects in the game. I think you're also going to hear a lot more noise on Gregory Polanco and the potential for him to help in Pittsburgh next year. Those guys are clearly already on the radar and likely not what you were looking for when you wrote the question, but I really believe both will be even more highly regarded on Opening Day than they are right now.
Tony (MN): Do you think any top 20 prospects will be traded this offseason? Who would be the most likely to be traded?
Mark Anderson: There aren't a lot of guys in what I would project to be the Top 20 discussion that I think get fllipped this off-season. The most likely candidate could be the Tigers Nick Castellanos.
Jack (Atlanta): What kept Matt Olson out of the A's top 10? The power seems legit
Mark Anderson: There's certainly power in the bat, but there's a lot of work to be done for him to access it against more advanced pitching. The swing needs work. The approach needs work. As a first-base only type, he's not Top 10 material in a solid system until the bat really starts to prove there is some legitimacy to it.
Ben (Washington): Is an OFP of 7 (#1 SP) still possible for Gausman based on what you saw in 2013?
Mark Anderson: If we're talking pure OFP, yes. I think so. I have a strong belief in the overall arsenal, competitivenss, ability to make adjustments, everything. It's all there to be a top of the rotation type in a perfect world, even if in the real world he ends more of a #2.
tjco1006 (Ky): Mark, young arms Tirado EdwinDiaz Gohara and AlexReyes all seem to be generating a lot of buzz lately. Any of the 4 really stand out to you in regards to ceiling/probability?
Mark Anderson: It's hard to argue with any of them, but right now I would take Diaz out of that group. I like the looseness in the arm, the present (and projected) velo, the present CB and the arm speed on the CH. There's work to be done with the CH and his overall consistency, but there's a lot to work with here, including a ton of phsyical projection remaining.
MetsFaithful5 (Upstate NY): How many Mets prospects are in the discussion for the top 100 Propsects ranking? And one player in the mets system that hasn't gotten the hype that Syndergaard and d'Arnaud did, but could be equally as successful?
Mark Anderson: D'Arnaud and Syndergaard are Top 100 locks for me. There's probably a case to be made for someone like Rafael Montero, but I'm not sure I'm there with the argument yet. I don't think Dominic Smith cracks that level quite yet, but I do think he's the guy that could be the next big thing in that system.
Tony (MN): I've heard rumors of Trevor Bauer being traded. Would another change of scenery help or hurt his chances of figuring it out?
Mark Anderson: The only thing that will help Trevor Bauer at this point is a decision on his part to open up to coaching and altering his approach. Changing scenery isn't necessarily going to do it. He has to want to change, improve and ultimately get better at the Major League level.
Shane (Arlington): Read some scouts late last season compared Odor to Erik Aybar, but BP's writeup seems more optimistic. Where do you fall?
Mark Anderson: I'm right in line with the 'Realistic Role' we gave Odor in the Rangers Top 10. I think he ends up an above-average everyday player. He is a very exciting player in every phase of the game and I think he's going to end up being very good overall.
Quinn (Houston): Spectrum seems more divided on Singleton now than it did a year ago because of his suspension and subpar season. What kind of player do you see, and is the hit tool good enough to let the power play?
Mark Anderson: I've had some questions about his ceiling that date back to his time with the Phillies. The power is undeniable, but the swing always struck me as a little stiff and he wasn't always able to show the hitting ability and approach that would lend to the power actualizing in games. First things first, he has to get the body back under control if he's going to have any hope of hitting. If he does that, the power could play enough to make him a second division type, but I don't see much beyond that.
Ryan (KC): Are you in the Carlos Martinez is a starter or is a reliever camp? What do you expect from his career?
Mark Anderson: I still think he plays as a starter. The three-pitch mix is lethal when he has it working and he's shown an ability to hold his stuff deep into starts. He has to prove he can handle at least 150+ innings a year, but I think he's got that in him in the end.
Shawn (Minneapolis): Where do you come down on the hit tool for M. Sano, and what do you expect from him realistically for MIN?
Mark Anderson: I projected an average hit tool for him when I saw him in New Britain this summer. It's not always going to be pretty, and by that I mean there's going to be plenty of miss in the swing, but the approach was better than I had seen in the past and there was an improved feel for the barrel against secondary pitches. I think he can hit .270-ish at the highest level, with huge power.
Nick (Pittsburgh): Between G. Cole and J. Fernandez, who has the better season in 2014? Career?
Mark Anderson: I have always been a Gerrit Cole apologist and firmly believed in his front of the rotation potential, but it is pretty hard to argue with what Fernandez did in 2013. I think Cole still has some learning to do at the Major League level; lessons Fernandez learned on the job in 2013, and because of that I give Fernandez the edge in 2014. Long term, I think it's a toss-up.
B Rabbit (Florida): Thoughts on 2015 Sidewinder Zack Kesterson from NY? Solid MIF trying to learn on the bump this past summer.
Mark Anderson: That's a question for the great Nick Faleris. He probably has draft notes on guys for the 2020 draft at this point. I'm just starting to look at 2014, so this is a bit beyond me.
Jim (San Diego): If you were comparing the "Hit" tool only, which three current prospects project to have the best in MLB?
Mark Anderson: Oscar Taveras, Byron Buxton, and I'll say Nick Castellanos because I really believe in his feel for the barrel.
Shane (Boston): If given a starting gig, what kind of offensive production should we expect from Jackie Bradley in 2014?
Mark Anderson: It's not going to be blow you away. He'll show a good approach, a solid average in the .270-.275 range, a bunch of doubles, 10-12 home runs, 15 steals or so. I think he can contribute just fine, but I don't think he's going to be a huge offensive catalyst in 2014, or long term for that matter.
Peter (Lakeland): You're GM for the Cardinals and you must trade an arm for a bat. Considering the long term aspect, which SP do you trade among Shelby, Wacha, or Martinez?
Mark Anderson: That's a really tough question. If you asked this over the summer I would have said Michael Wacha without hesitation. Even if it was the performance of his life in the playoffs, I'm not sure you can trade him right now. He was incredible and he quelled a lot of concerns that existed about him coming out of the draft. Miller has #2 potential when he figures it all out, and even though I believe Martinez can stick in the rotation, the questions are legitimate enough that I think he's the guy you move.
Mike (Detroit): Curious about your thoughts on Avisail Garcia's ceiling and if DET will eventually regret that trade?
Mark Anderson: Whether or not Detroit regrets the trade depends on the outcome of Jose Iglesias' time there. If he's the everyday shortstop and provides good value in the field and at the bottom of the order, I'm not sure they're going to regret the deal too much.
As for Garcia himself, I think he can be an above-average regular in right field. Defenisvely, he's going to be an asset there with good instincts, average speed and a big arm. Offensively, even with an aggressive approach, he's got a feel to hit and there's power in the bat.
Hal (Spartanburg): Which current SP prospects have a reasonable chance to become a legit #1 in your opinion?
Mark Anderson: These are dangerous questions and the answer is going to vary from person to person. I tend to be very stingy with my #1 projections, and the only guy I'm sold has a decent chance to get there is Archie Bradley. There are a host of other guys -- Walker, Gausman, Appel, Taillon, etc. -- that have the raw ingredients but there are enough questions with each that I think they come up short. With Bradley, while he still has developmental hurdles, I think the overall package has a very good chance to get to that level.
Matt (Charm City): I know you don't consider yourself a fantasy baseball guy but I've based a lot of my minor league keeper decisions on your prospect evaluations at BPN in the past. I have Gustavo Cabrera and Roman Quinn who have both been seriously injured this offseason. I have 3 extra players rostered to chose from to replace them: Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, Jacob Gatewood. Which two are your favorite? Highest ceilings?
Mark Anderson: It never ceasese to amaze me that fantasy leagues are now digging into undrafted guys.
I would lean Toussaint and Gatewood, but that's not a firm answer, just because so much can change between now and draft day, let alone now and A-ball.
Sam (Las Vegas): By 2015, Byron Buxton is________?
Mark Anderson: On the verge of destroying what we currently know as Major League Baseball.
Seriously though, by 2015, Buxton has a chance to have even the most casual baseball fan drooling at what he can bring to the diamond.
Mitch (Boulder): A realistic ceiling and MLB eta for Jonathan Gray would be ________?
Mark Anderson: I think you're looking at a 2015 ETA, but I wouldn't rule out him arriving for a taste late next year. With respect to ceiling, if it all comes together, I think he's a really good #2.
Ben (New York): Your biggest under-the-radar prospect that could sneak into Top 50 status by year-end 2014 is _______?
Mark Anderson: Arismendy Alcantara isn't really under the radar any more, but he's going to make some jumps (even more than he already has) over the next 12 months. I'm a sucker for Mauricio Cabrera, and I may be a year early pegging him for a leap like that, but he's a guy I'd pick.
Greg (Oakland): Tell me all your thoughts on Addison Russell?
Mark Anderson: Russell is one of the best shortstop prospects in the game. He's got the actions, athleticism and arm to stick at the position long term. The hit and power tools are both going to play at the highest level. I think he's a potential star in the making.
captnamerca (sinkhole city, FL): Hey Mark,
Here's one right down the middle for you...
What is your biggest surprise performance from the AFL so far?
Mark Anderson: It's hard to say anything is that surpring in the AFL, because strange things happen out there, but if I had to pick one big performance that has surprised me the most, I'd say Richie Shaffer...and that's not a good thing. For a big, strong guy like him, his complete in ability to hit for power in that offensive environment borders on alarming.
petelunchbox (Handsome City): Has the consensus on Maikel Franco shifted since mid-season? It seems like at that point most seemed to think that while his power was legit his hitting mechanics had flaws that would be exposed at higher levels. Now most things on him seem to have a rosier glow. Did his consistency through the end of the year shift perception?
Mark Anderson: I think astute evaluators still note the issues with the swing and the approach and question whether it will consistently work at the highest level. He's going to be a streaky hitter no matter how you look at him, but I think the sustained performance after promotion helped his stock some.
richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): What kind of ceiling does Alex Meyer have?
Mark Anderson: He's either a #3 starter or closer for me. There are always going to be issues with body control and that will lead to command/control issues at times, but the stuff is impressive enough that he could still work as an enigmatic #3 starter. If all else fails, he would be a terrifying presence at the end of games.
richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): Would you rather have Appel or Gray?
Mark Anderson: I'll take Appel.
Sabu (Pottersville): When evaluating a player, what level is your favorite to see them at? Would you rather see them at AA against better competition, or in rookie ball when they are raw out of the draft? Not necessarily the best level to evaluate them at, but just most interesting to see.
Mark Anderson: I really enjoy seeing players in a truly developmental environment like extended spring training or the instructional league. That environment profides a fascinating opportunity to get a little deeper into the little things they are working on, watch them interact with coaches and instructors and see growth from day to day. If I had to pick actual game action, I like seeing talented players try to adjust to the challenges of Double-A. There's a chess match going on at Double-A that most players haven't experienced yet and when you can watch an extremely talented kid try to navigate that with his mind and his natural ability, that's a treat for me.
petelunchbox (Handsome City): Are there any players who you had seen multiple times and felt you had a great read on either good or bad, then completely surprised you by going in the opposite direction?
Mark Anderson: This happens all the time. It is an unfortunate side effect of the business we are in. I was locked down, convinced Rick Porcello was a future #2 starter. I saw Marcus Stroman repeatedly in college and was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wouldn't last as a starter in the minor leagues. Like I said...it happens a lot, and I'm not ashamed to admit when it does.
Ryan (Richmond): How would you compare Machado and Correa offensively?
Mark Anderson: Both have massive offensive potential. I think they're both going to hit for average and power long term. I might give Machado a slight edge in approach, but that's only because I have more experience with him first hand.
Chris (Phoenix): What are you thoughts about Matt Olson? Will he progress in the Cal League or will it lead to more questions than answers?
Mark Anderson: I touched on Olson earlier. His success in the Cal League will depend largely on what they do with his swing and how he approaches his at-bats mentally. He needs work in both areas. If he makes adjustments to those areas with success, he is a candidate to put up big numbers in that league. If he doesn't, the questions are going to come fast and furious. That said, I don't think he's a lock to move on to the Cal League to start next season.
Dennis (LA): Looks like my Angels will have the 15th pick in next year's draft. Will there be impact (or at least solid) talent available at that point? Any hope for Kaleb Cowart?
Mark Anderson: There's always talent available in the middle of the first round, even in the thinnest of drafts.
With Cowart, I'm still a believer. I argued to keep him atop the Angels Top 10 and I think the potential still exists for him to be an above-average Major Leaguer at third base.
Chris (Phoenix): What are your thoughts on Phil Ervin? Where will he begin next season?
Mark Anderson: Ervin surprised me a bit after signing. I wasn't that high on him heading into the draft and I still think he might be a bit of a tweener that has to prove himself yet, but he has the potential to be a solid regular. I think there's a strong justification for pushing him to High-A to start next season and I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger on another promotion if he has sustained success in the first half.
richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): True or False: Giolito is the highest ceiling arm in the minors
Mark Anderson: True.
I neglected to include Giolito in some of my earlier answers on potential #1s and the top pitching prospects in the minors; just a silly oversight on my part. Giolito has a freakish ceiling.
Marcus (Toledo): Tell me everything you can about Nick Castellanos
Mark Anderson: That could take a while, Marcus. From a scouting perspective, I think you're looking at a plus to plus-plus hitter, above-average home run power backed up by a lot of doubles (he'll surprise with his power to RCF too), fringe-average outfield defense, below-average runner and arm. Everything dealing with the batter's box comes easy to Castellanos. Everything on the rest of the diamond is very difficult for him. He's a baseball rat. He plays hard and he is very critical of himself. The move to left field puts a lot of pressure on his bat, but I think he's up to the challenge.
Chris (Phoenix): Is 3b Mike Olt's to lose this spring?
Mark Anderson: I don't know if I would go so far as to say the position is his to lose given the catastrophic season he just endured, but he should walk into spring training with a good chance at holding down the job.
Tim (NYC ): Assuming each of their other tools are the same and are the same age. Pitcher A has a plus CB, Pitcher B has a plus SL. Who's the better prospect?
Mark Anderson: I don't tend to have a preference for CB or SL in my pitching prospects. A comparison like this wouldn't come down to that pitch for me, assuming all else is equal as you say. It would come to sequence, utilization of the arsenal, makeup, etc.
Bubba (St. Louis ): What would you do to see how the St. Louis cardinals evaluate and rate amateur talent?
Mark Anderson: Bad things...unspeakable things.
justarobert (Santa Clara): Have you gone back to look at high-ceiling toolsy prospects you've liked and figured out why they did or didn't approach their ceilings? Are there patterns to find, beyond just general makeup?
Mark Anderson: Yes, I have. I try to go back and look at my reports/rankings pretty regularly to see what I can learn from my own successes and mistakes. I think that's an important part of the process in becoming good in this field. If you're not willing to look at what you did right/wrong, how are you going to improve or even just keep doing some things well?
Early in my career, I undervalued the hit tool some. I'd see a tooled up kid that had everything you'd want with the only questions centering on the hitting ability, and it wouldn't phase me enough. A perfect example is Cale Iorg...I was convinced until the bitter end he would figure it out. He had average to above-average raw power, plus run, plus-plus glove, plus arm; tons of tools, but the hit was never there and I didn't put enough stock in that problem. Over time I looked back at my mistakes enough that I learned from that and I'm far more cautious about shoving guys with questionable hit tools.
Ian (Texas): How many 2's can a player have to be a ML regular?
Mark Anderson: It all depends what those 2s represent, Ian. If a guy has MLB-caliber hit and power, he can probably get away with a couple of 2s on the card somewhere and still carve out a career. If a first baseman has 2 run and 2 arm, he's probably going to be okay. Without doing an exhaustive analysis of the tool grades of all current/recent MLB players, I would venture to say you're not going to find more than a few with even two 2s.
Paul (Stl ): Will Desmond Jennings get any better as a pro player?
Mark Anderson: Yes. I really believe he will. There was progress from 2012 to 2013 and I think there will be continued progress in 2014. I'm not sure we're talking about a star in the end, but I think he's going to be a really nice everyday player.
Wesley (Utah): Could Chris Marrero provide value to a team at 1B? Or is he done?
Mark Anderson: I don't think he's much more than a bench option.
nictaclacta (Glendale): Mark, in you opinion, what level of contribution will Lucas Giolito, Mark Appel, Kyle Zimmer be making in 2015? Never too early to plan. Thanks.
Mark Anderson: Appel should be in the Astros rotation from day one. Zimmer has a good chance to spend half of that season in the big leagues. Giolito may not be there yet.
Mike (Toronto): Is Jordan Lennerton one of those 50 prospects?
Mark Anderson: Barely. Lennerton's in that org mix at the back of the Tigers rankings you mentioned.
Terry (Lincoln): What comes to mind when I say Gregory Polanco?
Mark Anderson: I get excited.
Paul (Baltimore): Can you compare and contrast Gausman, Zimmer, and Gray?
Mark Anderson: A true compare/contrast of those three would require some pretty extensive prose. That said, I think Gausman and Gray are on a different level in this conversation. Zimmer is a good pitcher, but he comes up decidedly behind those two for me. I'm partial to Gausman and have been slow to board the Jonathan Gray train, so I always give the slight edge to Gausman in these type of comparisons.
Dave (Pittsburgh): ANSWER MY QUESTIONS OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!
Mark Anderson: Going a little out of order here....I haven't even gotten to your other questions in the queue yet. I have answered 57 questions in the last 110 minutes and I still have 40 (the number keeps growing) in the queue. I'll get there....
MetsFaithful5 (Upstate NY): Who has a more realistic chance at being a top end number two starter in the big leagues between Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler? Noah has a bigger, stronger body, while zack is more of a lean John Maine type body he never could remain healthy)
Mark Anderson: I'm partial to Wheeler here. I think his stuff is a little more electric and will ultimately play a little bit higher than Syndergaard's. I expect both to be excellent MLB starters, though.
Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Mark. What do you see as Matt Davidson's floor and ceiling, and do you think he can stick at 3B long-term?
Mark Anderson: I've seen enough improvement in Davidson's glove over the years that I do believe he can play the position long term. He's done a good job putting the time in to improve his body/agility and his overall defensive actions. Overall, I think he's a fringe everyday guy, waylayed mostly by his over-aggressive offensive approach. At worst, he's a good corner infield bench bat to have around.
mrenick (LR, AR): How do Bogaerts and Profar stack up now? Who has more impact at the MLB level from here on out?
Mark Anderson: There's no right or wrong answer to this question. It's impossible. Either answer is defensible in any number of ways.
I think Bogaerts is going to have the larger offensive output over the long haul, but after seeing him plenty this year in Portland and Pawtucket, I don't think there's enough there defensively to keep him at the position much past the next two years or so. Profar is a no-doubt shortstop (if the Rangers want him to be) who won't be a slouch at the plate either. I'm still partial to the all-around impact of Profar but the gap is certainly much, much closer for me than it was this time last year. It's basically a dead heat at this point.
Mike (Utica, NY): Ryan McMahon do you think his numbers in the pioneer league were a mirage or is he a very good prospect?
Mark Anderson: I won't go so far as to say he is a "very good" prospect yet, but he's an intriguing player with the physicality and offensive profile fit at the hot corner if it comes together. He's raw and relatively inexperienced, so there's a long developmental path ahead of him.
Jim H (Sphinx Park, CO): Thoughts on Andrew Heaney? Good season and dominant AFL performance. What are your expectations for him? Thanks.
Mark Anderson: Heaney has exceeded the expectations I had for him entering the draft in 2012. I thought he was getting a little oversold coming out of college, but he's shown more consistent velocity and his entire arsenal is more crisp than I had seen in college. I think he's a solid mid-rotation starter in the making, rather than the back-end type I originally had him pegged for.
captnamerca (dunedin, fl): What do you think of Greg Bird? Can he inherit the 1B job when Tex leaves?
Mark Anderson: He has a chance to take that torch. Bird has been impressive early in his career and there's a chance he has the feel to be an average hitter with above-average pop from the left side. That could work really well in Yankee Stadium.
Fist (Seattle): Does Cesar Hernandez get a crack at CF for the Phils this year, or is he just a utility guy who can cover for Utley's inevitable injuries?
Mark Anderson: I don't think he's ready for everyday MLB duty at the start of 2014 but he could be a nice utility option on the infield and outfield from the outset. That may end up being his long term role as well, but there's a slim chance his hit tool plays well enough that he can profile as more of a regular.
Lisa Simpson (Springfield): Mark, your chat has the momentum of a runaway freight train, why are you so popular?
Mark Anderson: Well, I lack the refined bone structure of Jason Parks, so I know it's not that. I'd like to believe it's because I have a glowing personality, but I'm not convinced of this fact either...maybe it's because everyone knows I love bourbon? Let's just say its because I'm willing to answer just about anything and everything thrown my way and I keep on chatting after I get home in the evening.
With that said, I have to go pick up my daughter and head home. I'll pick this back up and try to burn through the rest of the questions in the queue when I get settled in at home this evening.
Thanks in advance for your patience as I work through the rest of the queue!
Pat (Oakland ): What other prospects were considered for the Oakland top 10?
Mark Anderson: The names you see on the list is the bulk of the names that were discussed. There were passing discussions of Dustin Driver, Chris Kohler, Edwin Diaz, Matt Olson, and a few others; the discussion was pretty focused looking back on it.
Seth (Detroit): How did you end up writing for the Tigers if you live near Boston?
Mark Anderson: I grew up in Michigan and consistently followed the organization for years. I ran into a few of the right people along the way and started turning my personal interest in the Tigers organization into something I could write about and make money. From there, it kind of stuck. It takes some effort to make sure I see every level of the organization every year, but I typically make it happen.
DF (Wilmington, NC): Does Eddie Butler crack that updated Top 10?
Mark Anderson: Butler's not quite there for me yet. He's got serious helium and is flying up rankings right now, but I don't think he's in the class with guys like Walker, Giolito, Taillon, Bradley, etc.
RotoLando (Cloud City): Better coach for Trevor Bauer...Joe Maddon or Mike Ditka?
Mark Anderson: Similar to what I said earlier, I'm not sure there's really any coach that could help Trevor Bauer right now. He has to decide if he wants to make the adjustments that are necessary.
David (NYC): Which NBA player would you love to see on the mound?
Mark Anderson: I don't follow the NBA enough to actually make an educated statement about this, but just for pure comedic value, I'd like to see one of those obscenely skinny seven-footers on the hill for an inning or two.
Wagner Garvey (Earf): In next year's draft it seems like Rodon and Hoffman have separated themselves a bit. After those two, who do you see having the highest ceiling? Who would you take right now at #3 for the White Sox?
Mark Anderson: There's a lot of talent in next year's draft, but so far in the discussions I've had with scouts, guys like Kolek, Gatewood, Jackson, and Gordon have really stood out at this very early stage in the process. A lot can change throughout the spring though; particularly on the prep side.
Bob (LA): Will Hernan Perez do a good job replacing Omar Infante at 2B? Or do they go to FA to find a replacement
Mark Anderson: If the Tigers are serious about making another run at a World Series, I think they need to do one of two things -- assuming the number one thing is a healthy Miguel Cabrera -- and that's either find an offense upgrade at second base or left field. If they do something big in left field, then they can probably survive with Perez at second base. If they need some offense out of the position, that's not going to end well. He's not ready in that respect, and I'm not sure he's ever going to have the bat to be more than utility guy.
JAC7178 (Charlotte NC): I've seen multiple times that the Red Sox will likely sign a catcher to not much more than a 2 year deal so they do not block prospects Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. Wouldn't it be smarter to sign Salty and then trade him if one of those guys starts to knock down the door than risk that they develop as planned?
Mark Anderson: Shorter term deals are always a good idea at high-risk positions like catcher and pitcher. You can't really plan on guys like Vazquez and Swihart being ready when you expect, but there are several catching options out there that are reasonable solutions and can be had on two-year deals; including Salty.
Omar (Atlanta ): Which minor league FA intrigues you the most?
Mark Anderson: There are quite a few guys that intrigue me, and if you go back to my personal scouting biases/preferences that I discussed earlier, it won't be a shock who those are, and most of them are power arms like Santo Manzanillo, Fautino De Los Santos (suspension and all), Jhan Marinez and Wilking Rodriguez.
Sara (Tacoma): Gerrit Cole and Matt Moore: potential future #1's. In the next few seasons, who is the better player? In 15 years? How far do you think they go in actualizing their potential?
Mark Anderson: I'm a huge believer in Cole's present and future. Matt Moore has some otherworldly talent, but I'll take Cole in the next few years and over the next 15 years (if either lasts that long). I'll just take Cole in every respect in this discussion, largely because I think the command profile sets him apart.
TRAVS HOUND (Arkansas ): C.J. Cron continued to hit in AFL and was used in middle of the order in most cases. Do you see him as a full time MLB 1b?
Mark Anderson: That's a stretch for me. I don't see the approach and hit tool playing to such a level that his power can fully come through at the Major League level. He's more of a second division type for me.
higgsboson (Guelph): Can Matt Adams be the everyday 1B for the cards? His power is exciting. Will they give him a shot to show what he can do? He's too good to be a utility player
Mark Anderson: I think he can play everyday. He's not going to be a star but there's enough feel to hit and plenty of power for him to work on an everyday basis. There's really no utility option for him...he either hits enough to play every day or he ends up an up-and-down guy that helps when injuries strike.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Gregory Polanco is from the DR yet his plate discipline would even make Billy Beane swoon, what gives? I thought all DR prospects were hackers.
Mark Anderson: Every industry is subject to stereotypes and hard cliches, and the baseball/scouting industry is no different. A lot of those stereotypes center around Latin American players, with long held beliefs like they're all hackers, most of them end up in the bullpen, etc. As bad as it may sound, it is hard to move beyond those sterotypes at times and when a super-talented player like Polanco defies one of those stereotypes, it makes people stand up and take notice.
Steve (Pittsburgh): Thoughts on Brandon Cumpton and what kind of 2014 he'll have?
Mark Anderson: I wouldn't expect an extended run of the same type of performance you saw in Pittsburgh, as I think most would admit that was a little beyond his long-term capability. I like Cumpton, but more in the realm of a #4 starter than anything else.
Bob (MO): I know it's "just" the AFL, but Piscotty just seems to get better and better in his first pro season. Do you see him as someone who can hit 300 and hit 20 HR and play a solid RF?
Mark Anderson: Piscotty is defying a lot of my pre-draft expectations. I haven't seen him live since he signed and that's high on my priority list for next season. The reports I have received don't hint that he can hit for quite that kind of average, but he's going to be a pretty good hitter with at least solid pop.
higgsboson (Guelph): Will Jesse Biddle break into the phils rotation sometime next year? Is he a #2/3 type arm long term?
Mark Anderson: He could get a few starts here and there in 2014, but I'm not sure he's quite ready to take on a big Major League role. I think the bulk of the year spent refining his game would be very beneficial in minimizing his MLB learning curve. Long term, he's more of a #3/4 type for me.
Scott (Tampa): Do you expect David Dahl to repeat Low A after missing basically the entire season? What about his possible ETA?
Mark Anderson: I think Dahl has to repeat Low-A. I wouldn't put it past him to rake and move to High-A around mid-season, but he has to show something before going there. I think he's likely three years away at a minimum; putting him in 2016 sometime.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Thoughts on Glasnow? Big test this next year to see if he can continue to improve upon his walk rate, or else he'll be a reliever
Mark Anderson: You always want to see guys continue to improve on weak areas of their game, in Glasnow's case his control, but I'm not really convinced that he needs a ton of progress in 2014 to avoid the bullpen detour. He just finished a season in Low-A at age 19, and I just can't see him being move to the 'pen if the control doesn't progress next year. Two years from now if the control hasn't stepped forward more, then you might be talking about a relief role.
jadelman (Syracuse, NY): Are there any starting pitchers you can recall whose body, delivery, athleticism, etc. all allowed you to project especially strong (or weak) command and then the player ended up surprising (without an injury as explanation)? In other words, how likely is it for a scout to guess really, really wrong with a command profile?
Mark Anderson: Command is one of the most difficult things to project in a pitcher and one of the most difficult things for a pitcher to master. Guys can lose it for a lot of reasons beyond physical attributes. Take a guy like Alex Wimmers as an example. I think every scout in the world gave him positive command projections coming out of college, and look what happened. Who knows that happens sometimes...
Alex (Anaheim): What Cubs prospect most excites you?
Mark Anderson: I'll take the easy answer and say Javier Baez. The bat speed is flat out stupid and I think the tools can work at shortstop. He has a chance to be a superstar once he matures.
Drew (Chicago): What are you hearing on Franklin Barreto? Is the bat legit?
Mark Anderson: I think so absolutely. The hands are ridiculous at the plate and there's too much natural ability there for him not to hit in my opinion.
omb8236 (Raleigh, NC): I've been trying to get a handle on Danny Salazar's future and have trouble finding middle ground. Is his likeliest projection either as a near-ace or injured non-factor, or am I missing a realistic probablity of a solid #3 starter?
Mark Anderson: There are rarely any guys that have a likely projection as a near-ace. I think exactly what you suggest you're missing is a pretty realistic outcome for Salazar; a very talented and at times enigmatic #3 starter.
JAC7178 (Charlotte, NC): Any advice for an undecided college kid who wants to scout or work in a front office one day? Just a little background I've been writing my own reports similar to the ones you guys put up on minor league games and my schools games as well for 2 years now. Thanks in advance.
Mark Anderson: If there was some kind of consistent path people took to those jobs, I would probably have some solid advice for you. Unfortunately, every single person working in baseball has a different story. The best thing I can tell you is show some passion, take everything you do with the game seriously, try to get out and meet people at games, and look for ways to get your reports/analysis out there for people to see. Bottom line, don't be shy and listen/learn every chance to get to talk to someone that's been doing this for a while.
Chris (Phoenix): What will come of Dan Vogelbach?
Mark Anderson: He needs to find a way to end up on an AL club where he can mash his way to the big leagues and be a DH. Seriously though, he has to get the body under control to the point that he can handle inside heat, and at that point, he's got a chance to rake enough to find his way to the big leagues.
Ryan (Miami): You draft Kyle Schwarber, do you move him off catching immediately or let him keep going
Mark Anderson: It depends on the evaluation of his defensive potential. If you give him a solid chance to stick back there long term, then I think you have to see what you can do. Having a bat of that magnitude behind the plate is incredible. The bottom line in my opinion, you give him a chance to catch until his defense is the limiting factor in him continuing to advance as a prospect. You don't hold back the bat on the dream of him staying behind the plate.
Chris (Phoenix): I love a good raw prospect but does Lewis Brinson's K rate scare the tar out of you and his ability to play in the upper minors? What is his ceiling as well?
Mark Anderson: His ceiling is crazy high, but when you start getting into a realistic role, that evaluation has to change dramatically. If the strikeout rate and overall issues with consistent contact don't scare you with Brinson -- or Gallo for that matter -- then I'm not sure you have a pulse. I love Brinson and can't wait to see him progress through the system to see how this plays out, but I'm certainly cautious.
Matt (NJ): Following up on the question from before, what holds zimmer back in your mind? What's kind of outlook do you think he has?
Mark Anderson: I think he's a good #3 starter once he gets to the Major Leagues. I wasn't enamored with some of his body language on the mound this year and there's a general lack of consistency in his game. I still think he's going to be a quality big league arm, but I've tempered some of my expectations for him since last year.
Scott (Lincolnshire): If Bryant projects to RF, what to do with Soler? I know, likely one of the two not going to make it, but I'm a cubs fan! Throw me a bone!
Mark Anderson: You hit the nail on the head. You figure out what to do with Soler when that time comes. Soler could well be at least two years behind Bryant in reaching the big leagues, so there's little to worry about right now.
Kevin (Montpelier): Thoughts on Chris Tillman's future prospects?
Mark Anderson: I was really impressed with what he showed in 2013 and I think you're looking at a nice middle of the rotation arm for the next few years.
Javier Baez (AFL Sabbatical): My hit tool will allow me to hit for ___[insert average here]___ at the ML level.
Mark Anderson: .280
justarobert (Santa Clara): A recent SB Nation winter meetings sim saw the mock A's trade Anderson, Choice, and $6M to the Phillies for Adam Morgan. If we leave aside the salary dump aspects of the trade, is Morgan worth such a package? How do you feel about the stuff and the shoulder?
Mark Anderson: I'm a fan of Choice so I don't think that works if it's just Morgan alone in the deal coming to Oakland. He's a nice prospect, but he's a max #3 for me.
Matt (Chicago): Do the Cubs has enough in-house SP talent on the way to help shape them as a playoff contender in the next few yrs?
Are they going to need to trade some of their prized hitting prospects for arms?
Mark Anderson: I'm not sure there's enough arms there quite yet. Both Edwards and Johnson have a chance to help, but there's not a ton there that is going to be ready along with them.
ErikJH (Wash DC): Do you think Josmil Pinto's ready to shoulder most of the Twins' catching load this year?
Mark Anderson: I've had some recent interesting discussions on Pinto with Parks as we've discussed the Twins Top 10 that should be out next week. The consensus seems to be that Pinto is a no doubt everyday backstop, but I think they may need to either give him some help if they bring him up right away, or find someone to cover until about mid-season when he's truly ready.
richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): Thoughts on Eddie Rosario sticking at 2nd?
Mark Anderson: I don't see it working. He's just not natural there. I think he ends up in the outfield.
LGBT (Evanston, Il): Career Home Runs for the following players. Over/under 300.?
Mark Anderson: That's a lot of home runs and a difficult number to put on any prospect. None of them should be considered a lock to reach that lofty plateau, but if I had to pick one, I'll take Sano.
iorg34 (mn): Will Billy Hamilton hit enough to play?
Mark Anderson: I'm a skeptic, let's just say that.
Jared (Mass): Hi mark
Thanks for the chat! How do u see the Red Sox offseason playing out? Do they trade lackey? Anybody come back? McCann or Ruiz signs??
Mark Anderson: Signing McCann to a big money deal would go pretty directly against the direction they've been heading with contracts over the last year. To trade Lackey, I think they'd have to have serious confidence that some combination of Workman, Barnes, Webster or De La Rosa was going to be ready to step in if injury strikes. Personally, I wouldn't trade Lackey. In the end, I can see them adding some bullpen arms to give them backup options, getting some center field insurance in case JBJ isn't ready, and finding a catching solution that might just be bringing back Salty.
Rob (Alaska): I'll go ahead and apologize for the blatant fantasy question, but in a medium-deep keeper league looking for lottery tickets, which one of Gabriel Guerrero, Manuel Margot, Franklin Barreto, Amed Rosario, and Ronald Guzman would you want?
Mark Anderson: You can't really go wrong with any of them if you're looking for lottery tickets. I've been particularly impressed with the reports on Rosario, but my eyes tell me Margot might be the guy I'd put my money on.
Mike Trout (Home): FML.
Mark Anderson: The irony hear being that I was one of what, two guys, on the BP staff to vote for Cabrera as my top choice for MVP?
Ed (Seattle): Thanks for the chat, Mark. Regarding your anecdote on the hit tool above, Springer and Bryant are obviously top prospects, but both have shown some serious swing-and-miss. Do you think either or both of them will strike out too much at the MLB level for their tools to translate?
Mark Anderson: Even with the swing and miss, I think both will do enough with the bat and the contact will consistently be loud enough that they will contribute in the big leagues. I've long been the low man on the totem pole with Springer, thinking he'd end up more like Drew Stubbs, but he's proving me wrong with every monster performance along his minor league progression. I still think the performance dips as MLB pitchers figure out how to pitch around him some.
Sara (Greensboro): Would you trade Shelby or Martinez for Chris Owings if you were the Cardinals? Or would you rather trade more to get Profar?
Mark Anderson: I think Owings is a nice player and will have a lengthy MLB career, but I don't do that deal. If you truly believe you can hold out and put some package together for Profar, I think you have to do it.
Matt (SD, CA): If you were the Padres GM, at what point would you start spending money on free agents, given the state of the farm and the division?
Mark Anderson: I'm not in any position to comment on how/when teams should start spending money...there are just too many factors that I'm not privy to. That said, as a general rule, I think you see some of your young talent begin to come to fruition before spending money to push you to the next level.
Cal Guy (Cal): Mark, how many games do you see OT playing in the Cards OF in 2014?
Mark Anderson: Depending on what they do in free agency, I think Taveras could end up playing 100+ games in St. Louis.
Cal Guy (Cal): Mark, what is you ETA for Polanco in Pitt?
Mark Anderson: Second half of next season.
Cal Guy (Cal): Mark, please rank the following for careers: Bundy, Gausman, Walker, Bradley and Giolito. Thanks!
Mark Anderson: Bradley, Gausman, Giolito, Bundy, Walker. The only reason I push Giolito down is that the injury is still pretty close in the rear view mirror. If he's a full successful and healthy season removed from the injury, I might put him ahead of Gausman.
Dominic (Alberta): How do you view Stroman's chances of starting now? Could he compete for a backend spot come Spring and hold his own in the bigs this season?
Mark Anderson: I still project him as a bullpen arm. He's electric and he defies everything I believe about short pitchers with that kind of effort to their delivery, but I just can't see him starting 30+ games in the big leagues long term. On the other hand, I think he could be frightening as a reliever...letting him air it out with that FB-SL combo makes me drool.
Victor (Aledo): What kind of offense do you expect from Profar in 2014? If he were still a prospect does he fall behind Buxton at #2?
Mark Anderson: Buxton is the #1 prospect in the game whether Profar qualifies as a prospect or not. In 2014, I think you'll see the average come up to a more respectable range, the plate discipline come back in line with his minor league career, and a little more development in his power. He's too talented not to make progress in 2014.
Ed (Seattle): Bonus chatting is the best chatting! Thanks Mark. Is Trey Ball's upside well below the tier of top arms you've cited above, or is he dinged more for high risk/lack of experience?
Mark Anderson: I assume you're referencing the Red Sox pitching prospects I mentioned, and if that's the case, he's not included in that group because he is light years behind those guys in terms of development, while they are on the radar for next summer. That said, I think Ball has a ton of potential but I need to see him make adjustments to pro hitters and work through a long season.
Keith (Manchester, CT): Thanks Mark. As good as Oscar Taveras' hit tool is, does his low walk rate in AAA raise any red flags?
Mark Anderson: Not particularly. Taveras is such a gifted hitter that I don't worry too much about the walk rate.
GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): Jared Mitchell - small sample size illusion or toolsy player who is finally healthy and has finally figured it all out? Thanks.
Mark Anderson: Mitchell isn't the player the White Sox drafted out of LSU. Way back then he was a freakish athlete that had tools galore and drew comps to Kenny Lofton. Today, he's more of a left fielder with some thump in his bat and a bench profile; still a useful player, but not the guy his AFL numbers may be suggesting.
Jim (Roanoke): So if you're building a prospect, would you rather have Sano's power and patience with the average hit tool, or Baez's impatience but elite bat speed?
Mark Anderson: I don't think you can really go wrong with either, but I'll take the guy with a little more patience like Sano. That extra little bit of patience gives him a chance to find better counts and more potential for his raw power to max out at the Major League level.
LGBT (Evanston, Il): You are an impressive dude. Amazing chat. Amazing dedication to your readers. You have made my 'must read' list.
Mark Anderson: Thank you very much. I'm glad the extra time was appreciated!
At this point I'm 117 questions deep, my bourbon needs to be refilled and I would like to relax for a little while this evening....
Mark Anderson: Thanks again for coming strong with lots of good questions everyone! It's been fun and I'll be sure to schedule my next chat soon! Before you go, make sure you go pick up an updated copy of Dollar Sign on the Muscle...a must read for any prospect/scouting hounds!