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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday March 03, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Kevin Goldstein.

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Kevin Goldstein contributed the Top 100 Prospects list to Baseball Prospectus 2008

Kevin Goldstein: Hi all, and welcome to another KG chat-o-rama. We got baseball of the college and spring training varieties to talk about, and I got to watch my first game on Friday by catching the Braves and Dodgers on Friday thanks ESPN HD, now stop with that ridiculous Ultimate Highlight garbage. The ultimate highlight took place before ESPN existed. It took place in October 3, 1951. Wake me up when one of those football plays has a prominent role in episodes of multiple award winning television shows, or has the first part of one of the best modern American novels of all time revolving around that day. What a joke. We're getting ready to head out on the big book tour, so you folks need to do two things. Number one, if you haven't already, go buy the book. Baseball Prospectus 2008 is available now, and it's our biggest and best ever. Sales are through the room, so hop on board the train. Number two; come see us on our book tour which kicks off Wednesday in Denver. I'll be doing our west coast swing at the end of this week, with a signing in Mesa, Arizona on Saturday the 8h, and then a Bay Area signing on Monday the 10th. Christina Kahrl will be joining me on both stops, so come see us for a great couple of hours of baseball talk. We see these signing as highly interactive, so it's not just us babbling incessantly, or reading from the book, it's mostly just an outstanding baseball discussion with our fans and readers, so we hope to see you there. We'll be all over the place over the next three weeks, so click on the events tab for all the information and I hope to see you folks soon, if not in Arizona or California, then in Chicago on the 13th. Ok, longest intro ever, let's start chatting.

DanBudreika (Haymarket, VA): What are the odds that a Senior, "ace" pitcher on a Varsity HS baseball team across the USA ends up having a notable professional baseball (minor league affiliate/MLB) career?

Kevin Goldstein: Barely above zero. Let's take a state at random. How about Ohio. In 2007, two high school pitchers out of that state even got DRAFTED. In 2006, than number was four, only one of whom signed. Five more in 2005, again, only one signed. I have no idea how many high schools there are in Ohio, but in the last three years, only four are even being given the tiny CHANCE of getting there.

Mike (Queens): Can we expect Mike Pelfrey's SO rates to improve? Can he pull a Carmona like season (with much fewer innings I imagine)?

Kevin Goldstein: I'm just not a huge Pelfrey supporter until he finds any consistency with his secondary stuff. Carmona's sinker and slider both grade out high than any of Pelfrey's current offerings.

temple (Madison Wisconsin): I know that Brian Matusz and Tim Beckham haven't even been drafted yet, but I hope they fit into the framework of these questions. Given their extraordinary talents when do you see each of them breaking into the majors. How do you think Beckham's talents compare to Brignac's or Moustakas's? How does Matusz compare to David Price?

Kevin Goldstein: I don't like comps of Beckham to Brignac and Moustakas at all. He doesn't have their power (not that he's weak), but at the same time, he's more of a true five-tool athlete with speed and superior defensive ability. I'm a huge fan. That said, I'm not as big a Matusz believer as some others. I think he's a good with plus command of a deep arsenal, but I don't see him as especially overpowering, and which he's a Top 10 talent, he's not the best arm in the draft for me, and I strongly prefer Price.

XchancedogX (NH): Hey Kevin, I'am new to BP and looking forward to picking up my "08" copy on MAR 12 at the book signing whats the best way of atacking the book

Kevin Goldstein: I don't think there is any right answer to this question, and everyone does it a little different. Some flip and read comments on their favorite player or team, some use it as a reference book, and many open it up at page one and devour it cover to cover (which I believe is 624 pages this year).

Dave (San Francisco, CA): Could any Giant in the farm system come up and be a major force in the offense this year? Or should I start crying now?

Kevin Goldstein: Beyond Villalona, I do like some of their young '07 draftees like Nick Noonan and Wendell Fairley -- there actually is some hope here, so don't cry -- and come see us on the 10th.

Mike (Utica,NY): Think Jayson Heyward could be at the top of the 2009 top prospect lists? He reminds me of Dave Parker with a better eye but not his arm. Is that a good comparison?

Kevin Goldstein: He's not Cobra huge, but he's a better athlete. I don't hate the comp, but I don't love it either. And yes, he'd definitely a good candidate for moving up.

Brecken (Chicago): I don't know if it's a state secret, but where do you get the fun facts? Some I can understand, but the stats in the 6th inning and stuff amaze me - are scouts keeping data to that level? And are you? Thanks

Kevin Goldstein: The state secret is the amazing work done by Cory Schwartz and his team over at MLBAM. To think about just how far we've come on minor league stats thanks to them, it boggles the mind.

jschmeagol (Weifang, China): How did the Yankees 2007 draftees fared in winter/fall/late season ball? Any sleepers? Thanks!

Kevin Goldstein: Nothing that blew anyone away, but Jonathan Albaladejo and Scott Patterson both pitched well in Venezuela, and are worth keeping an eye on.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Towles: is he just another Angel "Don't Call Me Sandy" Martinez? i.e., a "prospect" catcher with more opportunity than talent?

Kevin Goldstein: No. Towles can really hit. Believe in the bat.

maxinparis (Brooklyn, NY): Hey Kevin, Minaya has said the Mets are done being "good citizens" in the draft. With the 18th pick, will they get a chance to pay for a big-bonus guy or are they picking too low for that?

Kevin Goldstein: It's impossible to say in March -- we don't know who's asking for what yet -- but they might not be able to break the bank at 18, because I think more and more teams are done being good citizens in the draft, and so we'll have fewer players dropping outside of where their talent level dictates.

Nick (Allston, MA): Where would the Red Sox farm system rank if it included LaPorta and Alvarez? How much fault should be placed on the front office for their failures to sign?

Kevin Goldstein: Hindsight is 20-20. When the Red Sox drafted LaPorta, he wasn't worth what he was asking for, but now he is. When they drafted Alvarez, nobody saw him as a guy who in three years might be the best player in the draft. Would the Red Sox be better off if they signed them? Absolutely. But there's no fault there.

JM (MD): If the Mariners foolishly leave Clement in the minors all season and don't make him a regular DH/C, will he be a Top 10 overall prospect heading into next winter if he's still eligible?

Kevin Goldstein: I could see top 20 with a big season, but not top 10.

Joe (Washington, DC): Kevin: If you were a MLB scouting director, would you primarily focus on hitters or pitchers...or would you just take the best available talent? It seems to me that teams used to focus on drafting hitters--the argument being that they were more projectable and easier to keep healthy--but that that approach has changed a bit. Your thoughts?

Kevin Goldstein: Lets start by saying that if I was a MLB scouting director, that team would be in loads of trouble. That out of the way, more and more teams are abondoning any kind of philosophy, at least in the first round, and going for pure upside, regardless of source or position -- and I agree with that.

Tim (Portland, OR): I've heard the Blue Jays plan to start Travis Snider at AA and skip the Florida State League. Thoughts?

Kevin Goldstein: Yes, it's true, and I don't think he'll have any problems raking there. That kid can really, really hit.

Joe (Washington, DC): Kevin: This might be a better question for Will Carroll but I'll throw it your way...why don't we look at number of pitches thrown instead of innings pitched? Wouldn't this be a more accurate metric to look at when thinking about workload limits for yount pitchers?

Kevin Goldstein: Who said we don't. I know at the minor league level, most teams have pitchers not only on a strict per-game pitch count, but also on a season-long inning count, so both matter to teams.

Joe (Tewksbury, MA): Are we at the point where we should be asking not "what's wrong with Craig Hansen?" but "what the hell did anyone ever see in him?"

Kevin Goldstein: Not at all. It's pretty clear what people SAW in him. In college, he had plenty of velocity and that slider was a borderline 80 (highest grade possible) on the scouting scale. It's just not there anymore, for whatever reason.

goodwine10 (New York, NY): Kevin, do you think that there is any chance that Alvarez can fall to the Yanks now? Also, who do you think it Alvarez's best major league comp right now? Thanks for answering these questions, Kevin.

Kevin Goldstein: No way in hell, sorry. His body and game remind me a bit of Miggy Cab, but that's too much to expect, really.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): What can we expect from Kobayashi this season? Any chance this is the contender to the closer throne that finally knocks of Borowski?

Kevin Goldstein: The Indians have far better bullpen arms to replace Borowski. Kobayaski is more of a solid bullpen arm -- he doesn't have closer stuff, but he adds good depth.

Maybe Keyser Soze will show up and change Eric Wedge's mind, who knows.

buddons42 (Detroit): Hi Kevin. Any thoughts on where Porcello should start out this season? Seems like West Michigan would be the logical place, but given his talent level would the Tigers consider having him begin his career in Lakeland instead?

Kevin Goldstein: Lakeland makes some sense because of the weather, and I don't think anybody will be surprised if he at least finishes the year there. He's an insane talent.

Eli (Brooklyn): do you see any role in the Yankees' pen this year for any of: Jeff Marquez, Mark Melancon, J.B. Cox, Kevin Whelan or Humberto Sanchez? Any plans to use Horne in a Joba 2007 role? Thanks for your great work!

Kevin Goldstein: I think just because of the numbers game that Horne's big league career will probably begin in the bullpen, but it would be silly to expect a Joba like performance from him (or frankly, anyone). I was never a big Cox fan, but Whelan and Sanchez are both guys who could get later looks if they can throw more strikes (Whelan) or look good after elbow surgery (Sanchez).

LindInMoskva (DC): Any hopes that Andy Marte winds up a regular?

Kevin Goldstein: Very few, and probably not with Cleveland at least.

DB (New York): Kevin, Based on your comments in today's Monday Ten Pack, does your gut tell you that Rick Porcello will outrank David Price on next year's prospect list?

Kevin Goldstein: Not especially. I mean it wouldn't shock me if he did, but you're looking at the opinion of one scout, and you are talking about two guys who are among the elite arms in the minors, so it's hard to see why one of them is going to suddenly drop.

Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): And one more! For all that is holy, when will the Giants give Jonathan Sanchez a chance to start? They've bounced him around more than a ping-pong ball.

Kevin Goldstein: Hopefully this is the year, and I couldn't agree with you more. He's got in the inside edge on the No. 5 job right now, and I do think he could succeed there.

RJ ((St Louis)): If you had to choose between putting your high-A team in an hitter friendly league (Cali) or one that more favors pitching (Fla) from a developmental standpoint, which would you pick? Do you think some of the extreme environments amongst these two cause any significant problems with respect to prospect evaluation?

Kevin Goldstein: Can I just pick the Carolina League? If not, I'll take the FSL team. I think high-octane environments lead to bad habits for hitters, and can sap the confidence of pitching, which has a larger mental aspect than any other part of the game.

sorrento (Cleveland): I liked Underworld too, but most people I know think White Noise is better (the baseball parts of Underworld pushed it ahead for me).

Kevin Goldstein: I think White Noise is better as well, but I was told that's just me. I still talk about the World's Most Photographed Barn quite often.

Chris (St. Louis): Dave Duncan has fallen in love with Clay Mortensen. Do you think he could move up the rankings this year?

Kevin Goldstein: He could, but at the same time, what does that really mean. Is there a Cardinals pitching prospect that Duncan is talking about how much he hates? Of course not, so take all of those kind of comments with a grain of salt. That's nothing against Mortensen, that's just saying that Dave Duncan's public statement don't change anything about what we know about him.

Jay (DC): Eugenio Velez already has 5 steals this spring for the Giants. Will he make the roster, and does he has Chone Figgins potential?

Kevin Goldstein: I'm not a big Velez believer at all. He's kinda 75% of Chone Figgins. He's very fast and can play multiple positions, but he's really not good at any up the middle position other than second base and he has no plate discipline. For me, he's closer to Freddy Bynum than Chone Figgins.

Tim (Portland, OR): On a personal note, I assume the incident at Northern Illinois hit pretty close to home. How's everybody doing?

Kevin Goldstein: Yeah, we live pretty much right on campus, so it was a very sad and strange day, and also a bit scary, as the kids' father is a prof at NIU, and with details so scattered early on, and getting a cell pretty impossible, we had to scramble to find him. So internally, all are well, but yes, the town is still recovering.

Trey (San Fran): Speaking of the Cardinals, do you think Chris Perez can cut down his walks and become the closer of the future?

Kevin Goldstein: I don't think he's ever going to become Dennis Eckersley or anything, and he'll likely drive Cardinals fans insane a few times a year, but everything else about him has me believing that he takes over that role for the Cardinals in 2009.

J-Boogie (Cambridge): Everyone thinks White Noise is better. But it wasn't grabbing for the brass ring of being the "Great American Novel" to nearly the same extent. There's a certain majesty in Underworld's ambition that gets it noticed. Anyway, between Pafko at the Wall, and End Zone, would say Bo Jackson is a good comp for Delillo as a 2-sport star?

Kevin Goldstein: Sure. Am I a horrible person for saying that among post-modern fiction, I might prefer Robert Coover? And I'm not even a huge fan of his baseball book -- it's no Gerald's Party for example.

JWR (Chicago): Fill in the blanks: I differ from other recognized experts about prospect ____________. I think ________ while other experts think _______.

Kevin Goldstein: many; this; that.

I get a lot of questions about why my stuff differs from someone like Keith Law or Jim Callis, and I'm just not going to rip them -- we simply. disagree. I know Jim and Keith, and consider both of them to be friends -- and they know their stuff, and more importantly -- they talk to peple in the game. And in with everyone and their brother doing prospect rankings these day, I can offer you one piece of advice -- always ask if they talk to people (scouts, front office folks, etc.) IN THE GAME. I can assure that I do on a daily basis.

Tim (Brooklyn): With Hughes being healthy and stronger this year, what are your expectation for him in the 08 season? Also, can Hughes in five years be better than Joba? It seem alot of people are down on Hughes.

Kevin Goldstein: I love 'em both, but I honestly might still prefer Hughes at this point. Chamberlain's health history is still a small red flag for me, and for me, Hughes has a deeper repertoire and better command.

But again, I love 'em both.

Will (iowa): Whats the deal with Luke Hochevar? As a Royals fan, should I start worrying?

Kevin Goldstein: I said before that the mental aspect of the game is immense for pitchers, and mutliple scouts pointed at Hochevar's condifence (or lack thereof) as one of the key components to his dissapointing 2007 season. The stuff for him to be a successfull big league starter is there, the rest might be up to him.

visgc1 (So. Illinois): If more teams ignore the MLB slot recommendations in the coming drafts, will the MLB try to level the playing field? Any chance of an amateur signing salary capor designated salaries for each draft pick? Would the MLBPA stop any such plans?

Kevin Goldstein: MLB would like to institure an NBA-style hard slotting system in the draft, but the union will never go for anything with any kind of cap in it -- nor should they -- and it's just never going to happen.

JWR (IL): Mike Murphy was lamenting today on the radio (WSCR) that the Cubs can't start the season with Felix Pie in CF, that he "just ain't ready," and that he has a huge, looping swing that will prevent him from making consistent contact. Buying or selling this one??

Kevin Goldstein: Miss a little, miss a lot. I think Pie is their best option, and I think his PECOTA 50th percentile line of 286/339/469 is not out of the realm of possibilities.

He's certainly a better player than Sam Fuld, who might be a more popular player for his gritty, gutsy style, but can't match Pie's upside.

mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): This isn't prospect related, but what do you think are the Indians chances of resigning C.C. Sabathia?

Kevin Goldstein: Unfortunatley for Cleveland fans, I think they're small, and I think he wants to pitch closer to home on the West Coast.

SC (Philly): Could you discuss the balance between upside and gap to reaching that and how it affects your rankings. That is, how do you compare a player who could be an ace but is raw (Porcello?) against someone who tops out as a #3 but could start against major league hitters today?

Kevin Goldstein: It's the most challenging aspect of the ranking prospect -- balancing upside with chances of reaching it. For a guy like Porcello, it's especially hard -- as he hasn't pitched a pro inning that counts yet, but at the same time, on a scouting level, he's the best high school righty of the decade.

Raymond (New Jersey): Would you be in favor of trading draft picks? Maybe it's just me but trading picks would really benefit not only small market teams but also large market teams and keep it even. Not to mention you terminate consepation picks.

Kevin Goldstein: I'm HIGHLY in favor of trading draft picks, and think it would be good for small and big market teams, as are the majority of teams I talk to. I'd also like to see a limit system where teams can only trade the NEXT year's picks, to avoid any kind of early-80s Cleveland Cavaliers kind of situation.

Rob (Andover, CT): Hypothetical: baseball institutes a salary cap/floor system with revenue sharing such that every team is on the same footing financially. Next up, the draft: would you try to fix it, or would you blow it all up and just have everyone be FA's from the start?

Kevin Goldstein: A. I'm strongly against a cap/floor system.

B. I'd never implement one in the draft, but I would allow for a trading of picks as stated above.

Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): New baseball game: 2K8 or The Show?

Kevin Goldstein: The Show demo was pretty impressive, but I tend to harshly judge basebal video games and will likely buy neither.

Joe (Boston): ETA on Matt Weiters? Do you consider him a truly special catching prospect? In the league of Mauer and Victor Martinez?

Kevin Goldstein: Late 2010; yes; yes.

Shane MacGowan (The Drunk Tank): Arrrrrrg. Give us a top 100 prospects trade that needs to happen. Something in the vein of Young for Garza.

Kevin Goldstein: I took a look at my Top 100, and frankly, I don't see anyone horribly blocked. Andy LaRoche comes to mind, but I can't find a good matchup for him.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Will there ever be an int'l draft where an MLB wide scouting program exists (better destination for luxury tax money?), along with smaller franchises that take a % of signing bonuses?

Kevin Goldstein: There was once talk of one, but it's pretty much been put away. I don't think it will happen, primarily becasue the cost to do what you are talking about is astronomical.

James (Ohio): Does Jeremy Jeffress have monster, monster potential? I think so.

Kevin Goldstein: I do too. He also has significant off the field issues that need to be addressed first.

rionwood (Kitchener, ON): who would you pick for an NL only keeper league...why? Laporta or Schaefer? Thanks!

Kevin Goldstein: Schafer -- personal bias for up the middle players.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Yankees doing anything for Montero besides wasting his knees keeping up the catching facade?

Kevin Goldstein: As long as he's got an OUTSIDE chance of staying there, why not give him the shot? It's probably not going to work out, but he has so much value there than you have to at least give it a shot.

Fantasygeek (NY): Help. I have to pick between David Price and Porcello in my 5 x 5 minor league draft!

Kevin Goldstein: I don't really know what 5x5 means, but you really can't go wrong.

Matt (Saint Paul): Josh Hamilton hits ___ HRs this year, which is ___ more than Geovanny Soto.

Kevin Goldstein: 24; 4

Justin (Chicago): Murphy needs to watch Pie again. It certainly appears that his loopy swing has been tightened. What is it about Colvin that impresses so many scouts? His patience is terrible and he doesn't seem to have enough power to be a RF. What am I missing?

Kevin Goldstein: Excellent athlete, great makeup -- that can go a long way -- but I do far that he's a tweener.

theguag (Louisville): If Longoria starts the year in AAA - what do you expect of Aybar/Guzman?

Kevin Goldstein: Enough that the team will be forced to call up Longoria in short order.

bill (nj): hey kev, i know your a big v fan, but can you help me find the big difference between he and jesus montero that leads to big v being #29 and montero not being in your top 100? i mean they both look like future 1Bmen with big time power and some hitting ability and they both put up similar #'s last year

Kevin Goldstein: They both have massive power, but on a pure hitting level (bat speed; pitch recognition; barrel control) Villalona is superior.

chrismusillo (cinti): Drew Stubbs: (a) lifetime minor leaguer; (b) 4th OF for a few years and then out of baseball; (c) bona fide starter for a few years

Kevin Goldstein: C -- at the very least. Could be more than that even.

mymrbig (New Orleans): I'm a Rice alum and have 2 Rice-related questions. (1) I know Rice pitchers have a bad track record coming out of the draft. Do you have any explanations, or just bad luck? (2) Rice rarely seems to have super strong recruiting classes, but has become a perennial top-10 team. Any explanation for this? Thanks!

Kevin Goldstein: 1. The workload of Rice pitchers while in college is alarming at times.

2. That's a Brian Smith question, but I think their classes are pretty good -- they're are plenty of guys drafted out of high school who go to Rice when they don't sign.

Matt (Saint Paul): What is Josh Vitters's ceiling? Any comparable young major leaguers right now? What do you imagine the line for his peak season being?

Kevin Goldstein: Howie Kendrick with a little more juice? It's a weird one, but the combination of great plate converage, tons of contact ability and good power brings that to mind.

Kevin Goldstein: Ok folks -- sorry to cut this one short at 1:45, but there is much to be done in preparation for the tour. See you again soon, and hopefully in person!


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