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Chat: Adam McInturff

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday July 22, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Adam McInturff.

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Adam McIntuff is a Senior Prospect Writer at BP. Ask him about your favorite prospect, or who your favorite prospect should be.

Adam McInturff: Merry Friday to all, and to all a good Friday. Always appreciate and am excited to do my best answering the great questions that roll in.

nkunke1 (BR): You gotten a chance to see that stacked Pulaski roster? Who's been the most impressive thus far (either in your own looks or from what you've heard)? What type of chance does dermis garcia have of getting the hit tool to average? Swing plane looks pretty extreme from the video I've seen.

Adam McInturff: Pulaski is absolutely stacked, for sure. Appy League is a wild one, but certainly is an entertaining league, and a good challenge from an evaluation perspective. The Yankees' Advanced Rookie affiliate, the P-Yanks have a deep group of teenage hitters with upside. That starts with Blake Rutherford, the 18th overall pick in this year's draft who was recently promoted to Pulaski from the GCL. New York's aggressive international spending in recent periods makes Pulaski the landing spot for many of their high-dollar J2 bonus players that are around the age of 18-19.

On top of Dermis Garcia (who you mentioned), there's also infielder Wilkerman Garcia, outfielder Leonardo Molina. There are top-priority top of prospects like Rutherford and these three, but there's some prospect depth as well. LHP Jeff Degano and OF Isiah Gillam both have shown some things in the past as well when I saw them at the amateur level.

I'll have a more complete Appy League summation on a per-team basis (hopefully next week...), but here's a basic capsule on Dermis Garcia (note this was written earlier in the Appy League season):

Garcia signed for 3 million in 2014, his calling cards a classic corner profile toolset with size and easy right-handed raw power. He's put the juice in his bat on display the first two weeks of the Appy Legaue season, already belting five homeruns. A large, physical 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, his swing has natural plus torque and lift, and the ball really jumps off the barrel when he squares it up. The swing-path and hand-speed on his frame make it easy to see where future homerun power could stem from, but like many young power hitters in the Appy League, Garcia's approach and ability to limit strikeouts are in the nascent stages. Despite his power surge to begin his 2016 season, he's also struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances. He has a strong arm and his hands work enough at the hot corner, but an increasingly-thick lower half leads some to think he may eventually move to a less demanding corner spot.

Jim (Kansas): How would you rank the following OF prospects? Austin Meadows, Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Tyler O'Neill

Adam McInturff: Meadows, Brinson, Nick Williams, Tyler O'Neil.

I'm probably grasping at some straws with O'Neil, who I only have seen briefly in Cactus League this Spring and didn't walk away with a good feel for positively or negatively. Bearing that in mind, I'd still say the two guys I would really want are Meadows and Brinson of these four. Like really want--as in our Trade Deadline piece that was just released today (it's cool, it's on the home page, check it out--fun simulation)--Meadows and Brinson would be the two I could value enough such that moving a contributory current big league piece would be the play in certain teams' situations.

I don't dislike Nick Williams or Tyler O'Neil, but neither of them probably would be the prospect that makes a trade go for me in July if I'm parting with a genuinely above-average big leaguer, if that makes sense. The impact that Meadows and Brinson provide in the best case is just a lot more significant in my opinion.

Let's hope Meadows can stay healthy, and Brinson keeps working to find more overall consistency. Both have the raw tools of key franchise power/speed outfielders if their question marks click. Meadows showed flashes this season that wowed scouts, and we had a lot of late pushes for him shooting way up our Midseason Top 50.

Vinnie (Suburbia): Do you believe Austin Meadows can stay healthy often enough to be an impact bat in the majors? What do you see his numbers looking like in '17 or '18? Thanks.

Adam McInturff: I'm going to just take this one now, seeing as Meadows was just the topic of conversation above.

I'm certainly not an expert on injuries, and the Pirates are very creative and progressive in terms of keeping their athletes healthy. So I guess you can look at this two ways: he's young enough that health issues now have time to decrease with time (#NotAdoctor), or he's a player showing very troubling predisposition to get hurt--and get hurt at a young age with a team who generally has managed to keep their players healthy.

From a tools perspective, I really think Meadows is about as good as you're going to find in the Minors. I know that's a fairly bold thing to say, but after seeing a little bit of him in the Fall League (where he really looked good to me), and certainly this year, 'it' really is there when he's locked in. He's physical enough to have some power in his game, but athletic enough at least to be mobile and productive on both sides of the ball--even if he's not in centerfield necessarily. It's the hitting that stands out, and I can see an impact bat, especially at the position he *could be* situated at (Pirates crazy outfield depth notwithstanding...) It's that very fluid, short path to the ball with the size and natural leverage for power. What stands out to me is how level a path he'll have through the zone, and how much of the zone he's able to cover, without sacrificing power. Left-handed-hitting athletes with the chance to hit consistently and produce power as well are impact guys.

Barney (Coopersmith): Tyler O'Neill has really put up some nice numbers this season. How do you see him developing moving forward and what kind of numbers should we expect out of him? Cheers

Adam McInturff: Similarly to the just-answered double-up on Austin Meadows, O'Neil was asked about earlier and there's a few other questions about the Mariners' slugging prospect as well.

I don't have as much a feel for O'Neill relative to some other players, mostly due to locale as anything. I don't really see any Southern League, though I do try and keep up with video and asking around on guys that fall into this category.

With that said, I think he's the type of player that's demonstrating that his power is real, and that he's able to get hot and mash a little bit. Whether that's the type of player with his frame, swing-type, and toolset that's a star versus an offensively-minded left field type is more the question. He isn't the type of player that scouts project crazily on, but that shouldn't diminish the significance of the fact that he just turned 21 and is producing power like this at the Double-A level.

Let's say for now that he maybe fits a mold tools-wise of a guy that has to hit a lot and 'prove he can hit' at every level, as they say, and there's some length to his swing with strikeouts. Continuing to develop the ability to walk will be important, as that can buoy inconsistencies in pure hit tools, namely for power hitters.

Steve (Atlanta): What are your thoughts on Max Povse? Tall kid with decent stats. Read some positive things on him thus far, but would love to hear your opinion if you've seen him.

Adam McInturff: I have seen Povse, he's in my wheelhouse as a guy in an organization who has teams in both the SAL and Carolina League. Which is great, because when you add in Danville+how they've drafted pitchers, I'm feeling like it's the mid-90s with how many toolsy pitching prospects are running around the Southeast at these affiliates.

The good man Wilson Karaman and myself wrote up some thoughts on Povse around the Carolina League's all-star game.

Wilson:
" Extreme length to frame, narrow, sturdy strength, limbs for days; steady early rock, semi-wind, hands migrate, gradual gather to deep stab, takes a hot minute to gather and balance, fluid arm action, extreme uphill, high-three-quarters slot, lots of opportunity for timing issues to pop up, yanking balls low to glove side in this outing; FB 90-92, extreme plane, boring pitch with run, works north-south, deception helps it play up; 70 CB, round, some depth, finishes down; 83 CH, flat, tumble with mild fade, neither secondary looked like a swing-and-miss pitch."

...and mine here:
Povse was hit hard to start last year with the Mudcats, and he was eventually sent to Low-A Rome, where he made the majority of his 2015 starts. Back in the Carolina League this year-he will turn 23 this summer-things have gone much better for him. Built extra-tall and lanky at 6-foot-8 and maybe 200 pounds, his unusually-long levers add natural deception and downhill angle to a low-90s fastball. His upper-70s curveball shows average at best, and his changeup is playable. For such a large frame, he's limited walks very well his second run in the Carolina League, though it plays more as control than actual command within the zone.

Basically, I've seen Povse as a unique pitching prospect who does have some tools, but is still putting it all together as well. He's very tall and has flashes of two good raw pitches with his angle+arm-strength plus a shapely curveball. He's also a college pitcher in a system of high school guys, not to mention more risk/reward than the majority of college-drafted pitchers at this age. Which I guess also explains why guys like he and Patrick Weigel are in systems like Atlanta's...

Steve (Cleveland): Triston McKenzie has had a very nice start this season, and he was exceptional in AZL last year. He has a lot of projection, but where do you think he ends up as an OFP?

Adam McInturff: I haven't seen him in awhile, and he's the type of super-projectable player that holds the potential to make adjustments very quickly. I've heard positive things though, and especially if you're not concerned about the lankiness of the frame (if it is really "projectable" or just "skinny"), you got to be even more on board. He's a high-makeup guy who is very athletic and showed the arm-speed and crisp, lively movement on his pitches to project large when he was coming out of the draft.

TJ (DC): How do you see the Rockies C situation shaking out for the next 1-2 years? Assuming they don't trade for somebody, will Murphy really get a chance or just not good enough defense? Is Wolters interesting enough to get a full time chance? Or do you think they like Hundley enough to just stick with him even through next year?

Adam McInturff: All postulation on my part: as much as you want to give a spot like catcher to a homegrown guy, if the Rockies are trying to win now-ish they have to roll with the best option they have.

None of those options sound massively inspiring insofar as a "catcher every night for a playoff team" is concerned, though there's no one wiser at using the park to their hitters' advantages than the home team. Maybe that allows for some of Murphy's approach and contact questions to be minimized by disproportionate amounts of power given the Coors factor...

Maybe that also could bring a catcher we aren't thinking about into the fold; one that is easier to attain (a defensively-oriented one, perhaps, because that skillset is way less expensive in money/prospects at catcher than backstops with a chance to hit), who then could expect to see an offensive boost with Colorado such that their stat-line and value is different from years past.

Everyone loves Tony Wolters, I feel like you kind of have to. It's been really cool that he's been doing his best Craig Biggio and going between catcher and second base--and admittedly I haven't bore down on him a ton--but I've never seen him as a regular ML guy year in and year out. Hopefully he finds a way to get there, though. There's such a dearth of offense at catcher these days, though, I guess you never want to say never...

Steve (Pittsburgh): Tito Polo is showing a lot more pop this season. He's got a HR in consecutive games for Bradenton. What are your thoughts on his development?

Adam McInturff: He was a really interesting player to get to see at West Virginia. Polo raked for the Power, albeit with a toolset and frame that are going to keep scouts more suspect until he shows that it clicks at higher levels.

He's very muscular and has real power for a shorter player. The way his game power has emerged this year is a reflection of raw power that's there, with more contact ability this year than last. That said, he's really a left field frame, was already old for the level even if he wasn't repeating it, and...he was repeating the level.

I see him as a raw power RHH corner type of bat who has that bench bat or maybe platoon look to me...I would keep that ceiling in mind, a guy who could get there on the strength of what he can do, but might have some 'cant's' that could get in his way of everyday play in Pittsburgh. Then factor in how deep the Pirates OF already is, and the presence of Austin Meadows, and maybe a Harold Ramirez.

Makes you even just throw out there in a "pie in the sky" type of way if for all the reasons above, he's a good second or third prospect chip in a larger deal...Pittsburgh trying to sell high on him as a complementary player in a deal, if that route is the one they so choose.

Steve (STL): Bryce Denton seems to be heating up, but he's been very streaky thus far in his career. Have you gotten a chance to see him?

Adam McInturff: I'll see all the teams in the Appy as the season closes. Kind of crazy to think that we're entering August soon, and that's the last full month of the minor league season. It's gone by fast this year it seems!

Bad Bill (Colorado): A Bader believer, or is Bader badder than he seems to be?

Adam McInturff: My real name is William, so I guess that makes me Good Bill? And you're Bad to the Bone Billy?

I don't know what to make of Bader, man. I also would have a lot more to say if, again, he found himself in an org that placed prospects in the leagues I'm a lot more comfortable with my sample sizes in. I think he's almost certainly 'badder' than his numbers, both for reasons of his tools and because of the easy-to-point-to peripherals. That said, Bader might not be badder enough compared to his to-date outputs that he isn't a guy with a chance to fit a role, especially in that system.

It's a secondary factor, and probably one that is faulty overall. But when this type of college performer just immediately clicks once they sign (like Bader has) in a Cardinals/Astros/A's type of system--IE teams with long-established track records of finding value in college-drafted players in later rounds--I always am more likely to believe he could just play *his* game enough to contribute.

It's crazy to think about, but Bader is easily one of the most advanced players from the 2015 Draft class right now, at least in terms of his current positioning in the minors (recently promoted to Triple-A).

He had amazing statistical performance in college (Florida, SEC), but questions about how impactful his toolset was dropped him to 100. If you told scouting directors nothing else except for that Harison Bader wouldn't be a joke in AAA 12 months after the draft, I'm pretty confident that he goes higher than 100. I don't think he would have even gone a ton higher--because questions about the impact of the down-the-line toolset are fair--but he would have gone higher than 100 in hindsight. It's 20/20 though, that scouting hindsight...

Wesley (Citadel): If Eloy Jiminez isn't my favorite prospect, who should be?

Adam McInturff: Sicnarf Loopstock, who is:
-actually a real person, yes
-from Aruba
-drafted from Western Oklahoma State College
-actually a real person, yes

The analysis is what you come here for, right? http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=t481&player_id=643419#/career/R/hitting/2016/ALL

To seriously answer your question, if you have a favorite low-minors prospect Eloy wouldn't be a bad call. You could be a wise guy and say Josh Naylor is your favorite low minors prospect too, wise guy. Otherwise, I'd probably chance that it would be pretty cool if you appreciated the floor+ceiling of some more polished 2016 Draftees like Blake Rutherford (Appy League) or Nick Senzel (Midwest League).

John (San Francisco): What do you think of Ryon Healy, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman? Do you see them developing into legitimate starters at the major league level?

Adam McInturff: I think there's going to be a regular from that group, if not more than one. Oakland seems to really find ways to best utilize these types of players. I don't have tons of track record with Healy--he went to Oregon, and I don't see a lot of the west coast prospects much anyway. Olson I think might be one of these guys that only hits for productive game power with the A's because of how platoon-flexible their roster is intended to be...meaning they play a style that will afford a guy like Olson to be put in the right situations for his large raw power to play out.

Chapman I think fits the most traditional mold of a regular all things considered. I really like Oakland's system, I've really liked their drafts the last two years as well. It's a sneaky good system that doesn't get enough attention, and I think will probably start getting attention in that 'why didn't we all see this sooner?' sort of way that Cleveland's depth has been appreciated by evaluators in 2016.

JM (CT): Please explain in your opinion, what's going on with Byron Buxton. Merely growing pains?

Adam McInturff: I don't think it's damning forever, I also don't think it is just growing pains.

What I do think is it is just another reminder at how the prospect and internet age has blinded the minor league follower to the patience and attrition that is omnipresent in player development. Buxton has every tool in the book--remember before he just out-tool'd everyone in sight, how people thought it actually might have been a *long* development path for a rural Georgia athlete? Maybe we can take the glass-half-full view here (admittedly, maybe this is trying to stay rosy) and say that they weren't wrong--it will be a longer path to him polishing up--but the good news is he was just talented enough he didn't start the actual growing pains themselves until he got closer to the big league level.

I hope that he's able to find more consistency and tap into that hit tool. He's got a chance to be a special player. Will be interesting to see if he has a Melvin Upton trajectory (just in on-field stats, nothing else) or if the stars align and he's an on-base threat with power, impact speed, and valuable defense.

Gary (NJ): Any mets prospects you like more than the average guy?

Adam McInturff: Kingsport:
-Chris Viall--XXL (6'9'') power arm from Stanford, has a lot of stuff, we'll see if anything can click control/command/consistency-wise.
-Jake Simon--LHP was the team's 11th-rounder in 2015, over-slot prep southpaw from Texas. Striking out hitters and keeping a ton of balls on the ground over a solid showing for Kingsport every fifth day.

Brooklyn: Pete Alonso, Blake Tiberi both college performers who fit that Harrison Bader type of player (talked about earlier) where they'll have to perform at every level...but also have the chance to be the types of grinders who just go out and do that.

Definitely will give Thomas Szapucki his own little bit here, though. There are a few more I could mention, but he really impressed when he was in the Appy League and he got promoted. High school lefty in 2015 in the first 10 rounds from a Florida high school. Really tough angle on hitters with an arm-slot that's death for lefties, especially. Gets good run on a fastball that touched 96 most every start (sitting 92-94) with some feel for a slider. It isn't an Anderson Espinoza type of low-level minors pitching prospect where you're really pushing a teenage pitcher way up your minor league prospect board, but Szapucki has been the type of guy you see in the Appy League who has a lot of big league ingredients, and you take note of that.

Good year for Appy League lefties overall. Kolby Allard was there, now Joey Wentz is, and there's Resly Linares for Princeton (Rays) as well as Szapucki, obviously.

Jake (Bethesda, MD): How much should one talk while sitting in the scout section at games??

Adam McInturff: That's a good question. This is always a pretty nuanced question, and one could make the argument I'm not the person to really ask. That said, I think being quietly focused on the game--as opposed to being focused on networking--is what ultimately serves someone the best. Not just from a standpoint of perception--also because, in the long run, if one wants to be a scout, it's their scouting that will speak for itself.

OtisSlugger (Maryland): Big time wiffle ball player here. Any advice for getting some more movement on my cutter? Thanks.

Adam McInturff: Glad we're getting a wiffle ball question here. Very important to stress keeping the egg soft in the fingertips to get a lot of late touch on the cutter. Nothing like breaking wiffle bats by throwing inside....pitcher's delight?

OtisSlugger (Maryland): Big time wiffle ball player here. Any advice for getting some more movement on my cutter? Thanks.

Adam McInturff: Glad we're getting a wiffle ball question here. Very important to stress keeping the egg soft in the fingertips to get a lot of late touch on the cutter. Nothing like breaking wiffle bats by throwing inside....pitcher's delight?

Josh (LA): Willie Calhoun seems to be hitting for far more power this year, with a far worse average. Strikeouts don't seem to be too far up though, can he hit for 20 homer power with a .280 average?

Adam McInturff: Interesting that so many of these types of players have come up today. I've always liked Calhoun, it's understandable that the lack of position scared some people off, but I haven't been at all surprised he has been a middle-rounds guy who mashed from last year's draft.

He'll have to prove it at every level because the bat has to carry and the defensive profile still, even, might be up in the air. But there's big league hitting tools. I think 20 homers and .280 average (genuine 60-grade hit and power production grades) combined are a little lofty.

jdc1989 (MO): Josh Hader seems to be getting lit up in his 6 starts in Triple A. Is it the lack of his third pitch (Changeup), or just trying to adjust to the better hitters? Possibly both? Does he still profile as a starter, or are we looking at high leverage reliever, with possible closer?

Adam McInturff: He's so unusual, though unusual isn't bad--especially if you're a lefty. Being left-handed and having his velocity and angle are going to give him more chances to compensate for holes he may presently have in traditional pitchability. I think this season, specifically, has been the 'nail in the coffin' in terms of him at least getting the chance to start. Milwaukee isn't in a hurry to put him in a 'pen role to blow it out for a stretch run, either.

Steve (Philly): What theoretical trade would you like to see happen, just for selfish scouting purposes? Like who would you not get a chance to see in person that you'd like to see move into an organization you could scout more easily?

Adam McInturff: I really like this question. I've been on the receiving end twice already this season, though, as Grant Jones and James Fisher have picked my pocket stealing Chris Paddack and Anderson Espinoza to the Midwest League. I would love to see Alex Reyes get traded to the Rays and pitch at Durham. Noting to that whatsoever, just a high-minors top prospect type that I don't see for the most part right now.

Greg (VA Beach): Marte/Polanco unlikely to go anywhere and CF is covered either by McCutch or Meadows. Seems like Harold Ramirez is trade bait, but is he a starting LF for another team or a bench bat?

Adam McInturff: Good question from a good state in this land. I'm kind of on the fence about Harold Ramirez as an everyday guy, or if he is, it's the kind of corner OF where he's got to hit for a dominant batting average. There just isn't a ton of homerun power in there, though he does put a charge into it. There's just not a ton of leverage or lift in the swing, and not a lot of demonstrated game power, either. Let's say best case for Ramirez is an everyday LF for a second-division club, with the chance to be a quality situational or bench contributor for a team if short of that ML impact.

I do think OF prospects like Harold Ramirez and Tito Polo make for interesting 'sell high' trade candidates for all the reasons we mentioned here.

Darryl (New York): Any favorite pitchers in Low-A?

Adam McInturff: Mike Soroka, Mitch Keller, Anderson Espinoza, Jacob Nix, Jon Harris all come to mind, not necessarily in that order. I like Soroka a whole lot though because of his frame/stuff paired with the strikethrowing he's showed throughout this season.

Matt (Chicago): How would you characterize the state of Cubs SP pipeline? Seems like most of it is at lower levels? Cease? DeLa Cruz?

Adam McInturff: They'll be able to both bridge that gap by way of having the finance to get someone if a hole arises, and/or do some Cubs magic and find that guy internally already and we just aren't talking about him.

I would throw Trevor Clifton somewhere into this mix--not as dominant top pitching prospect, but a name to be aware of. Certainly the story is they focused on hitters the last few drafts, and that's served them well.

darthack2661 (New Jersey): I traded Bauer for Danny Duffy, full keeper league. Should I have a blindfold, a cigarette, and await the sound of gunfire?

Adam McInturff: I don't answer many questions about Fantasy, if only because I'm not the guy you want to take advice from in that arena. Never played Fantasy baseball.

That said, I think just in real life terms, you could make the argument that's somewhat of a lateral move. So not that bad. I don't think you're going to get the cig blown out of your mouth by gruesome firing squad, for instance.

I'd probably say that taking the Duffy side is the 'riskier' half of that deal, but the left-handedness and my thoughts in years past about this guy just shortening up and fully focusing on the bullpen (think Mike Montgomery's trajectory...and Duffy has been a better starter than Montgomery was) give it some upside.

STEVE (Philly): What prospect leads to the most inordinate number of questions in your queue? For prospect hipsters, asking about someone like Victor Robles last year before he went mainstream.

Adam McInturff: That's such a great way to describe the prospect community. We are prospect hipsters. Grown adults playing Prospect Go in public; a wild Bregman appeared!

Right now the quene-stuffer has been Lourdes Gourriel Jr. I think prospect hipsters have just a few more seconds until the doors close for the Anderson Espinoza train, in terms of being there before it was cool. If you really wanted to be a prospect hipster, you could hop aboard the Adrian Rondon trolley, currently stationed in Princeton, West Virginia.

GPT (San Jose, CA): What are the usual org philosophies on promoting players? When do they think a player is ready, is it mainly just performance?

Adam McInturff: This is an awesome question, and actually would be a cool Q/A with Baseball Prospectus contacts in front offices and PD staffs across the game.

The short answer is that there aren't tons of absolutes from organization to organization. Factors like MLB performance, state of the system, demonstrated conservatism (or lack thereof) with young players--especially pitchers, organizational needs at different minor league levels, and player to player makeup all are independent variables that each organization weighs differently.

The longer answer would be giving more concrete definitions of what types of teams have embodied which approaches. A quick example: SFG has a reputation for developing among the most fundamentally sound homegrown players, and often drafting away from consensus only to find they chose the right guy. As such, there can be longer development paths to the big leagues as their specific style of play is learned, and clearly this system is working for them overall.

Another team might be very aggressive with using their minor league system to simply provide the big league team with the best players available. These teams will do things like aggressively (and frequently) push teenagers to full-season leagues, call up 20-21 year old pitchers, etc.

I wouldn't say that there is right or wrong...or at least I wouldn't say there's right or wrong without a lot more accumulated information in front of me.

Adam McInturff: Alright, all. At about the two-some hour mark now, so I'm going to wrap it up. Thanks for all the great questions, and sorry to those I could not get to due to the abundance of questions in the quene. I'm happy to go into further detail about these questions or others. Email me at AMcInturff@BaseballProspectus.com.


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