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Chat: Jeff Moore

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday May 05, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jeff Moore.

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Talk prospects with Minor League Update man Jeff Moore.

Jeff Moore: Hello everyone, and Happy Cinco de Mayo! If anyone wishes you a happy Mexican Independence Day, you have my permission to belittle their ignorance and force them to buy you a Corona, a beer about as authentic as their knowledge of Mexican history. Let's get chatting!

Rob (Baltimore): What should we expect out of Marcus Stroman in his first look at the majors?

Jeff Moore: Pure, unadulterated filth. I expect Stroman to have success his first time through the league, especially if he's working in short stints. We saw in the Arizona Fall League what he can do in one and two inning bursts when hitters don't get a second look at him. That's not to say he can't start - I've been in the Stroman-for-starter camp since the beginning. But he could be filthy as a reliever.

Then again, in Toronto, he's one elevated fastball away from a big blowup game. Aren't prospects the best?

@Jervass (Atlanta): How do you think Tommy La Stella projects at the MLB level? With Uggla's struggling continuing, and the Braves' offense currently in a rut, is there a chance La Stella makes it up by the break? Ramiro Pena is a great super-sub, and Tyler Pastornicky is a roster spot capable of multiple positions, but it seems the Braves could maybe start getting some MLB looks for La Stella to see what he is. Thanks. My first time, so apologies if I violated any protocols.

Jeff Moore: It's hard to say what the Braves are going to do because there's such a strong influence of money involved with Uggla's contract. Of course, that's sunk cost, so there's no reason for them to ruin a potentially good season because they already screwed up. We all know that teams do that all the time, though. As for La Stella...hitters gonna hit. He's not a good second baseman, but Uggla isn't exactly Robbie Alomar out there either. He's probably their best option, the only question is when the Braves are willing to have an expensive one-dimensional bench player in Uggla. I don't think we'll see a complete change, but I wouldn't be surprised to see La Stella up this summer at some point in some kind of time-share deal at second.

gerrybraun (san diego): Your Monday morning MLUs haven't been including Notable Pitching Performances from the weekend games. Will this trend hold?

Jeff Moore: Yeah, on Monday, there's just so much content from the entire weekend (three days worth of games) that the bar is set higher for what makes the cut. You've either gotta be really good or really bad. Just listing pitching performances would be too much info to get lost in after the long weekend. It'll still be there the rest of the week though.

Jquinton82 (ny): Any concerns with Baez's slow start? Is he going to be an uggla type, hr's and no avg?

Jeff Moore: There's a gap so far between Baez now and him turning into Dan Uggla it can only be described as a cavern. There are some concerns, but they're the same ones we had at the start of the season. He's a long way from being Dan Uggla.

padremurph (Los Angeles): What's the deal with Franchy getting sent back to extended spring training? Hearing it was the cold weather?

Jeff Moore: I don't have any more inside info on Francy than you do, but I'll use this as an example to point a few things out. So many times, the human element is forgotten when we talk about prospects, especially from the fan's perspective. Scouts can at least see the players, put a face with a name, and have some interaction with them, but fans just see a name, some numbers, a scouting report and a potential player on their fantasy team. I don't know if Franchy is back in EXT specifically because of the cole (that doesn't seem like enough), but more likely it's because of the overall culture shock. We're talking about a 19 year old kid from the Dominican who has only ever played baseball in - and probably only ever lived in - warm weather. He went from the Dominican to Arizona to...Fort Wayne, Indiana? That's not easy. In the complex leagues (where he played last year), these guys are watched. Their food is provided for them. The coaches are with them all day. Now he gets sent straight to a full-season league. He has to learn how to get his own meals, find a place to live, etc. And what's this white crap on the ground? Why can't I feel my hands? It's a tough transition for anybody. I'm sure the cold has something to do with it, but after 36 strike outs in 22 games, it's probably a combination of things that made the Padres realize he was in over his head in a number of ways. This isn't a knock on Franchy. He'll be fine. Just too much too soon.

Frank (Philly): Are Jesse Biddle's control problems behind him? He was doing so well with not walking more than 2 in a game, and his most recent starts he walked 5 and 3. What do you make of him?

Jeff Moore: I don't think they're completely behind him. He's still maddeningly inconsistent, and that may be something we see from him for a long time. He'd hardly be the first pitcher to look great one day and a mess the other, then the aggregate comes out to be a useful piece. That may just be what Biddle is. Still plenty of time to find out.

maxpowers (chicago): I'm positive you've received no questions regarding Baez thus far. Bump in the road or legitimate concern? Also, when are Polanco and Taveras coming up?

Jeff Moore: Who is this Baez fella of whom you speak? I don't know this gentleman.

I've got a queue about half-full of questions about Baez, so let's just handle this once and for all. Baez is incredibly talented and has as much raw power as anyone in the minors not named Joey Gallo. He is also a free swinger with a cocky attitude (I saw that as a positive, actually) who thinks he can hit every pitch for a home run. It's getting him in trouble in Triple-A, where he's facing much older pitchers, many of whom have been in the big leagues before, who are attacking him with less pure stuff than he's seen in the lower minors but a much better plan. Essentially, no one in the Pacific Coast League has any incentive to throw him a strike because they've all seen what happens when they do.

The result has been ugly, but he also had an injury bout in the middle. He got going, then got hurt, and has to restart again. The strike out numbers are pretty extreme, so theres some minor concern, but this isn't news to anyone who has seen him. He's a free swinger, so he's going to have bad stretches from time to time. We see the same with Yasiel Puig. It's ugly for a while, then he'll do something that makes us all go wow. It just looks terrible at the start of the season.

On the Concern-O-Meter with Baez, I'm at about a 2. It's time to make an adjustment, but the season is still young and the talent is still the same.

jlarsen (Chicagoland): Marco Gonzalez, when will he be promoted to AA? Seems to be gliding through A+.

Jeff Moore: I'd guess it won't be long for Marco. He's not the kind of high-ceiling arm the Cardinals are used to having in their farm system, but he's polished and not having too much trouble with the Florida State League. His change up alone is good enough to dominate A-ball. It's a plus pitch. He'll be a 3-4 starter, but he doesn't need too much more time in Palm Beach. I'd guess he's in Springfield by the 4th of July, if not a little sooner.

Craig (Denver): Does McMahon have the bat to be a top 30 prospect by season's end?

Jeff Moore: I assume you mean Top-30 in the game? That seems pretty aggressive for a guy in Low-A ball who's probably the third best prospect on his team (behind Tapia and Dahl), but that's a testament to the Asheville lineup more so than a knock on McMahon, who is very good. He didn't make our preseason Top-101, however, so lets start by getting him in there first.

Shawnykid23 (CT): What's the ceiling for Raimel Tapia based on his tools? Does he have best OF prospect in the game upside? (Assuming that when he's close, Buxton is already in MLB).

Jeff Moore: It's too early to put that on him, though I guess by the time he's in the upper minors, that's certainly a possibility. Remember, and I said the same thing about Julio Urias in another chat, that just because a player is having success at a young age doesn't raise his ceiling. His ceiling is based on his future tools, not what he's doing at a young age, as impressive as it may be. Just because Urias is pitching in A-ball at 17 doesn't make him a future ace. His stuff says number 2 starter. Same with Tapia. Just because he's young doesn't make him the best. Of course, his hit tool could make him the best, so there's that.

The Dude (Office): What kind of sandwich you working with today?

Jeff Moore: Turkey burger. Still deciding on the condiment of choice. That's the key decision.

Harden (Houston): What happened on Kohl Stewart? Do you think he is overrated? He can't miss a lot of bats.

Jeff Moore: Today's "Pump the Brakes" award goes to Harden. Are we already giving up on Stewart because he's not striking a lot of guys out in Cedar Rapids? You know he's also not walking many guys or giving up any hits right? I haven't seen him or gotten any reports on his velo yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's down from where it usually is. It's freaking cold in Iowa at night in April. Let's let a 19-year-old get through more than a month (during which he posted a 2.81 ERA, by the way) before we give up on him and make statements about what he can't do.

CJ (New Hampshire): Not a prospect question, but who has the best complex/stadium in the FSL? Do Twins renovations put them near the top?

Jeff Moore: I haven't been to all of them and haven't seen the Twins since their renovations, but I will say that there's a Tiki Bar at Bright House Field in Clearwater, so yeah.

Louis (At The Park (mentally)): Supposedly Nick Williams has the best hit tool in the Rangers' system but there has been no talk of him so far this year. All the talk has been on Gallo. Has Williams' shine worn off to where he is an average prospect now and Gallo ranks above him?

Jeff Moore: In today's Ten-Pack...

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23420

...Tucker Blair said that he thinks Williams has the best hit tool of him, Gallo and Jorge Alfaro, so I wouldn't say the shine has worn off. It's just hard to get noticed when you're surrounded by 80-grade tools.

Perry (Houston): George Springer's struggles are a) expected, b) surprising, c) just part of the process and he will still become a first division regular?

Jeff Moore: D) A and C.

CJ (New Hampshire): What is Adam Brett Walker's ceiling? What does he need to do to reach it?

Jeff Moore: In a report earlier this year I said he reminded me of Justin Upton with a terrible approach. I've seen him again since then and I think that still applies. Same body type, similar swing. His power is more Upton-lite than Upton-esque, but it's legit 60 power. When he gets one, it really goes. Unfortunately, he doesn't recognize breaking stuff at all and even bad change ups fool him. If he wants to be productive, he needs to greatly improve his pitch recognition, something that is difficult to do. Not sure he ever gets there, but man when he gets a pitch to hit, it's fun to watch.

Ryan (Baltimore): Hunter Harvey is__________?

Jeff Moore: going to be very good, but you'll have to be patient.

Anthony (Ohio): Gallo or Bryant?

Jeff Moore: Bryant, because he's closer and less risk.

jlarsen (Chicago): Sidsgraphs? What the?

Jeff Moore: I dunno. I just work here.

Mike (Pittsburgh): How good can Gregory Polanco be?

Jeff Moore: This isn't my future brother-in-law Mike is it?

Polanco is going to be very good. Closer to Cutch than Marte, to put it in Pirates terms.

Harry (Waco): What kind of MLB player do you expect from R. Odor?

Jeff Moore: I think he'll be an above-average regular at second base. I don't know if it will be for the Rangers or not.

Bruce (Rochester): How high or low could you see Dominic Smith jumping or falling in the 101? Best case/worst case scenarios?

Jeff Moore: He was on the fringe of the 101 last year and that was with limited looks at him. I've seen him since and will fight harder for his inclusion. That said, I haven't seen him in game action during the regular season (all of my looks were during spring training) and the numbers have been unimpressive thus far. There's a lot of time to determine next year's rankings, and Smith can do a lot to move up or down in that time. I'll bet hes in the 101 next year. No idea where.

Silverback38 (VA): BP's DC Park Party! - You're not gonna be there?! Why not? I'd love to chat some prospects.

Jeff Moore: I was going to go to the DC one since I lived in Baltimore for 6 years and it would've been good to get back to the area, but we already have a ton of staff representing us there. I'm headed to the one in Kansas City instead. It's the next week on the 28th of June. Get your tickets here.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22878

Bill (New Mexico): What's your take on the Kolten Wong demotion? People seem to be reading between the lines on that one to an extent that seems excessive to me, but what do I know?

Jeff Moore: I was surprised, as were most people. It's early to give up on a player with his track record. The Cardinals are panicking a little, it seems. There's no upside to playing Mark Ellis. The hope is that Wong goes down, has some success in Triple-A (which he is), feels good about himself and comes back up and plays like they expect. It's not a bad idea and it might just work. I was just surprised. Doesn't seem like something the Cardinals would do.

Eric (Bensalem, PA): J.P Crawford is having a nice start to the season after a good pro debut last summer. He's even showing some power with 3 HR so far. What's your take on his long-term potential?

Jeff Moore: Don't get too excited about the power. He's not going to hit for much of that as long as he still shifts his weight forward in his swing as early as he does. That said, I'm a sucker for two things with hitting prospects - guys who walk more than they strike out and guys who draw a lot of walks but don't hit for power, because it means they have to really earn them. Crawford does both. Stats can deceive you when you're scouting, but some are good indications of trends, and I like those two things about Crawford.

John (CT): Glausman, Bundy, Harvey in three years?

Jeff Moore: I'm not sure the question, but that's the idea for the Orioles, isn't it?

Jeff (Florida): Steven Matz has a 1.88 ERA so far this year. Is he an ace in the making after recovering from TJS?

Jeff Moore: Did I ask this question? I swear I didn't.

I just saw Matz for the first time last week and really liked him. He's not an ace. That gets thrown around waaaaaaaaaay too much. He can be a number two and is more likely a solid number three starter. That's a really good pitcher.

Alberto (Vermont): The top SS prospect in the minors is...

Jeff Moore: We did this as a staff a few weeks ago, between Correa, Lindor, Baez and Russell.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23246

I went with Lindor.

trigger1583 (CA): Recently I've seen the opinion that Seager can stick as SS at least for the short term. Do you think this is viable or will he move to 3B once he reaches the majors?

Jeff Moore: Opinions are split on Seager, even within our staff here at BP, which makes me believe that there's no way to really know the answer to that yet. We're talking about guessing on how a teenager's body will fill out. My guess is that it will have more to do with Hanley Ramirez once he signs an extension than anything else.

Thomas (Dallas): Do the Astros piggyback starters in AA and AAA as well? Would like to see what Velasquez is capable of over 5+ IP.

Jeff Moore: Boom!

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?gid=2014_05_05_orhaaa_omaaaa_1&t=g_box&sid=milb

Threw 6 IP today and struck out 12. How many other chats can give you that kind of immediate return on a prospect?

Ron Mexico (Cedar Rapids): Thanks for the chat, Jeff, really enjoy these. What would be a solid comp for Brandon Nimmo? A Shin-Soo Choo type as a leadoff guy with average speed but high on-base, or do you think he can fill out more and be a middle of the order bat eventually? Also, do you think he has present power that he just hasn't learned how to utilize in games yet, or he still needs to put on significant muscle or improve his bat speed.

Jeff Moore: Nimmo is a great example of why comps can get us in trouble but why they can also be valuable tools. I've seen Nimmo four times this season already and I'm still not sure who he's going to be like. He has some Choo-ish qualities, most notably his plate discipline. The real question for Nimmo is how much power he develops. I don't see him becoming a middle of the order bat, though he's built like a guy who could be one. He has a leadoff man's game, though, and I think that's where he ends up. I don' know if he's Grady Sizemore, or Choo or a slightly slower Jacoby Ellsbury or what. That's why I won't make a comp on him just yet. At this point, pick a left-handed hitting center fielder with plus plate discipline and you've got a shot to be correct.

Mark (Boston): Is Mookie Betts now the best second base prospect? He is looking incredible out there. Thoughts?

Jeff Moore: He's certainly in the discussion. Mookie can flat out hit and second base isn't a deep prospect position right now. He didn't make the Top-101, and six second basemen did. I don't know if I can jump him that high, especially when Kolten Wong came in at number 33. If we had a re-do, however, you can be sure he'd be in there.

Goldeye99 (Winnipeg): Do prospects in the minors start to regress if stuck in the minors for too long? Ex, if Polanco, Taveras, Bradley, Bauer or any other prospect seemingly almost ready for a promotion are still in the minors in July/August, do they get discouraged? Does their performance start to diminish?

Jeff Moore: They certainly can. Some prospects just aren't challenged down there. Gerrit Cole was a good example. His numbers in college and the minors were somewhat pedestrian because it just wasn't a challenge. There are examples of guys who head back to a level for the second straight year and don't play well. There are other cases where they head back and tear it up. It varies by player, but it does happen.

Shawn (Cubicle): Favorite Tool in the minors and who has it?

Jeff Moore: Now that Billy Hamilton's speed is in the majors, it has to be Joey Gallo's power. It may be the most extreme tool in the minor leagues.

maxpowers (chicago): How do you see M. Franco turning out?

Jeff Moore: Low-obp but above average power for third base to go with below average defense. Valuable player and better than Cody Asche, but not a star. Will lose a ton of value when he has to move to first in his late 20's.

Peter (NYC): I like Manuel Margot better than tapia his game is more all around type. Tapia is horrible fielder and throwing. Do you agree with me?

Jeff Moore: When talking about young players where a million things can go wrong between here and the majors, give me the player with the better hit tool every time. That's Tapia.

Alfred (Denver): Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Jeff Moore: I love chicken. I hate eggs.

Aaron (Dallas): What minor league stat do you feel is most telling of whether the player will succeed or fail in the MLB? Does a single stat exist that has a direct correlation between success and failure? Or is every player different and it's basically a shot in the dark? I'm becoming more and more concerned with prospects with high K%, but I'm not sure if it fully has an effect on major league success.

Jeff Moore: There is no one stat. Stats are a tool to help us explain what we're seeing. We can use them to help us project things into the future and can't totally ignore them because they are good indicators. That said, they can disguise talent, or lack thereof. If I had to choose one, however, it would be strikeout to walk ratio, both for hitters and pitchers.

Eddie (Albany): Who moves up the most in your next set of prospect rankings?

Jeff Moore: Mr. Parks has a lot more say in those than I do, but I would have to imagine that with what he's showing us this season, Joey Gallo is going to jump up pretty high from the 95 spot where we had him this off-season.

Chad (Surrey, BC): Do you think Trevor Bauer has figured things out? Will he be successful when he pitches in the majors?

Jeff Moore: It sure seems like he has. I dont know if he'll be successful or not. No one does. But he's throwing a ton more strikes, which was his biggest flaw. Anyone with talent that corrects their biggest flaw has to have some kind of success, right?

Big O (Detroit): Brad Miller - victim of Seattle mismanagement or about to return to his expected levels?

Jeff Moore: No, I don't think you can blame the Mariners for this. Young players just struggle. It does make those who rushed to call Brad Miller the best SS in the American League after two games look a little foolish though, no?

jwise224 (DTLA): What are your thoughts on Kaleb Cowart? Solid 2012, disastrous 2013, good start to 2014. He's s good athlete at third, does he eventually make it work at the major league level?

Jeff Moore: I think that if he were in a better farm system, we'd barely talk about him. He could be an OK role player, but I don't see him as a first division regular.

Shawnykid23 (CT): You've mentioned you can teach anyone how to bunt. Can you please give JBJ a call? Seriously, why does it seem like so many major leaguers can't get a bunt down?

Jeff Moore: Fast guys who can't bunt physically pain me. I don't know why they struggle with it. Maybe they don't work on it enough in the big leagues. I can tell you that very few veterans take their bunt round in BP very seriously. In general, the fact that most guys struggle with it is just one reason why sac bunting is generally stupid. Bunting for a hit, however, can be a valuable weapon and I support it wholeheartedly when used properly.

Hector Salamanca (New Mexico): Cam Bedrosian looks unbelievable. I mean that literally, I can hardly believe his K rate. Is he for real?

Jeff Moore: Cam Bedrosian makes me feel old, because I had a Starting Lineup action figure of his father when I was a child. As for Little Bedrock, remember that he was a first round pick and probably should have been used as a reliever from the start. Nobody can continue to strike out two batters per inning, but he's definitely a legit bullpen arm.

norwun (NYC): Are organizations like BAL, ARI just bad at developing pitching prospects like how KC is bad with hitting prospects? Or is it just bad luck with bust prospects?

Jeff Moore: In general, I would say that most of those sorts of reputations are vastly overblown. There is a ton of luck involved and sometimes you hit a bad stretch for a long period of time. Sometimes organizations have strange philosophies that make you scratch your head - like Baltimore's refusal to let any of their pitchers throw a cutter but drafting of a pitcher whose best pitch is a cutter (Bundy), but I don't think that's why Bundy got hurt. There's just bad luck involved.

Some reputations are just flat out wrong, too. KC has developed Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Sal Perez, and they even get credit for Wil Myers. Just because Mike Moustakas stinks doesn't mean they can't develop hitters.

seankelleher2 (MA): Sean Manaea looks great so far with K's and BB's (12.33 K/9 & 1.76 BB/9). He's been extremely unlucky so far with a .390 BABIP and a 52.1 LOB%. Thoughts?

Jeff Moore: I'm just hoping he's still in Wilmington when I go home this summer (that's my home town). I haven't seen him yet, but CJ Wittmann has and has good things to say about him here.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23329

Greg (NYC): What are your thoughts on Dilson Herrera? Seems to be doing pretty well for one of the youngest players in the FSL.

Jeff Moore: I like him, but he's still more of an athlete than a baseball player. Swing path can get loopy but he has good bat speed. Solidly built. Does not have soft hands in the infield and is limited to second base. Could play the outfield with his athleticism. I like him, I'm just not sure how or where he fits in.

Drew (Arkansas): If you had to give one name, which prospect do you think has the absolute highest ceiling?

Jeff Moore: I'll give you two - Buxton and Baez. Buxton has the Mike Trout starter kit. If he develops the power, he'll be among the best players in the game. Baez is a mess right now, but remember what he can do. What if Gary Sheffield had been able to remain a shortstop? That's Baez's ceiling.

Bob (LA): Regarding Kyle Crick, as a high-leverage reliever, how long would it take for him to make the majors?

Jeff Moore: It's way too soon for that. I don't see Crick improving his command enough to remain a starter, but it could happen. Even if it doesn't, he's still a far way off from being a major leaguer. He's walking over a batter per inning. Is that a guy you want in high leverage situations?

Victor (MD): Honestly, who are some of the top prospect scouts in the industry?

Jeff Moore: Ahh, the old rank the guys doing the rankings question. I have no idea who the best scouts are. No one does. There are too many to choose from and there's no way to really evaluate them all. We don't have batting averages.

I will say this, however. Jason Parks is the one who decides who will be on the BP Prospect Team and he wouldn't bring anyone on board who wasn't good enough to work for a major league club.

Ryan (Kansas City): Please tell me your as high as me on Adalberto Mondesi? You like his Potential?

Jeff Moore: Given that you're a Royals fan, I assure you that I'm not as high on Mondesi as you are, but anyone who hits .300 in Wilmington as an 18 year old has my attention.

nubber (tx): With the Rangers lacking catching situation, do you think Jorge Alfaro's ETA might be pushed up a bit? When do you think he'll be in the big leagues?

Jeff Moore: No, rushing a prospect with almost a 5-to-1 K:BB ratio to the majors would be a complete disaster. He needs time.

Greg (Pittsburgh): I'm really excited about Polanco, but there is another OF in our system who has caught my eye also. What can you tell me about Josh Bell? Seems to be he could be a very solid producer at the MLB level.

Jeff Moore: Still a very long way to go and a totally different beast from Polanco. Bell has more power potential but much more swing and miss in his game. He's going to take a while to develop, especially having to get better from both sides of the plate. That said, he has big time potential and yes, he could be a solid run producer. It's going to be at least two more years though, if not longer.

Jeff Moore: Ok everybody. We're starting to get a lot of repeat questions so that's about time to wrap it up. Thanks for all of the great questions and everyone be safe.


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