With Top 11 Prospects lists coming off the pipeline, BP's prospects expert takes your questions on the farmhands whose stock is rising and falling.
Kevin Goldstein: Hey folks. Taking a break from writing the Reds Top 11, working on the Rockies and Marlins list, doing stuff for the book, and trying to squeeze in the occasional late-night session in the Wastelands of Fallout 3 or playing Little Big Planet with Normandin. So it's a busy November, but it's always great to chat with the readers, so let's go.
Matt L. (Chicago): Kevin: In his AFL column, Joe wrote: "Brett Wallace has great power, and reminds me a little of Lance Berkman with extra weight. He's an awkward third baseman with a stiff throwing motion, but the consensus is that he won't hurt you over there." I believe you (among many others) had previously stated that Wallace likely would not be able to stick at 3B. Has there been a change in the consensus? Or is this more of a case of "with a bat that good, you can deal with the limited defense at third"?
Kevin Goldstein: Depends on who you talk to. I don't think he can stick there, but I understand why somebody would. He does have good fundamentals, soft hands and makes the plays he gets to. That said, he has, to use one of my favorite scouting terms, fall-down range.
David (NY): Thoughts on Andrew Brackman? is his stuff all the way back from TJS?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm still not a believer. He'll make the top 11, but there will be other pitchers ahead of him. It's hard to ignore the ceiling, but at the same time, he's 23, has never pitched in a pro game other than Hawaii, has a TJ, and has no record of sustained success ANYWHERE, EVER as an amateur. That's way too many red flags for me. People who have seen him in Hawaii are saying the same stuff they said when he was an NC State. Love the body and the velo, but after that, not much else to love. Not a big fan.
Chris (Virginia): "fall-down range".....stop it, your killing me....I can't be laughing that loud at work....man
Kevin Goldstein: I've thought of compiling a bathroom-reading book of my favorite scout quotes. It would be awesome, but definitely not safe for work. Here's a nice exchange with a scout about Devin Mesoraco that I had for the Reds list:
Scout: He was a first-round pick right? got a huge bonus?
KG: Oh yeah.
Scout: Well, he spent a lot of it on milkshakes.
Jake (Kansas City): Since you're working on the Rockies...what's your take on Christian Friedrich?
Kevin Goldstein: You'll see -- I THINK on Sunday.
james (BK): Were the A's incredibly fortunate to include Gonzalez instead of Anderson in the Holliday deal? Anderson was reportedly in the discussion.
Kevin Goldstein: Don't believe everything you read. This was a great trade for Oakland, and I'm not one of those people who tries to twist every move Beane makes into some kind of stroke of genius, because he does make some clunkers once in a while. That said, he traded away a toolsy guy who still has a disturbing gap between those tools and skills, a reliever who is WAY overvalued because he has numbers in his save column despite not having closer stuff, and a starter who is frankly a bit of a fraud. I'll bet anyone that Smith's '08 ERA will end up being his career high. The A's get Holliday and compete and get two draft picks, or try to flip it for more this summer.
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Do both Snider and Price break camp with their big league clubs? If so, what type of production do you see out of each?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes; Yes; Above-average for their position immediately, impact-level in the future.
Meddler (Brooklyn, NY): So what's the consensus on Fallout 3? I'm thoroughly enjoying it, but every now and then it has just enough similarity to oblivion to take me down from the post-apocalyptic high. For example, I just finished Oasis, and I love that they included the "Harold" ghoul character from the previous titles, but that whole quest felt entirely to "Oblivion" for my taste.
Kevin Goldstein: I don't know what the consensus is, but I love it, and I only kind liked Oblivion. I think the difference in setting (I'm not a big swords and sorcery type) makes a huge difference, and the post-nuclear war world is really wonderfully realized, the quests are better (just blood ties and the super-duper mart were worth the price of admission alone), and the soundtrack is fantastic.
Deywane (Memphis): Will the Reds list be out to tomorrow and will Yorman Rodriguez make it?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes to the first, and yes to the second. In fact, the last thing I did before hitting the chat was to write up Yorman.
Dave (Toronto): Safe to assume one of those pitchers that will be ranked above Brackman is Betances? Was his 2nd half improvement in control for real or can we expect regression in High A?
Kevin Goldstein: It's safe to assume that yes, but I do have my concerns. Ugly mechanics combined with getting some kind of arm soreness every year is just a bad, bad, bad combination.
MikeJordan23 (Brooklyn): Just a general question about what separates a 5 star prospect from a 4 star prospect. Let's say for example one prospect is a good all-around player with minor league stats and a high ceiling, but has a chance to fail. The other player is an extremely good hitter, but doesn't have all the tools, and is basically 100% guaranteed to hit. Would they both be considered 4 star prospects, both considered 5, or one would be a 5 star one, and one would be a 4 star one? I know it's a loaded question. lol
Kevin Goldstein: As a very basic rule, 5-star is a guy I would CONSIDER for my top 50 list, and 4-star is a guy I would CONSIDER for a top 100 list. Three star is a solid prospect with consistent big league starter grades on him, and it goes down from there.
Joey Matschulat (Tyler, TX): Feeling any better about Elvis Andrus after his steady second half?
Kevin Goldstein: Another guy I'm not as high on as others. Decent average, great speed, no other secondary skills, good defense. He's almost Royce Clayton for me, but I also think Royce Clayton is underrated.
Melanie (Sheboygan): Hey, KG! What can you tell me about the repertoire/velo of 18-year-old Richard Castillo? The young man pretty much dominated the Midwest League this year, and I haven't heard anything about him. Thanks!
Kevin Goldstein: He pitched well -- he didn't dominate -- but it was still a very impressive showing for a pitcher so young. I'm not sure he's more than a reliever for me as a little guy with a great curve.
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Is Adam Miller as a closer the best answer to both the Indians need for a stopper and Miller's need to stay healthy?
Kevin Goldstein: I would agree with a bullpen move, but I'm not sure how much I'd depend on anything from him.
Brian (Brooklyn NY): Not sure if you can answer this one but is there a reason why you and Jim Callis at espn always chat at the same time? Is talking propsects more appealling at 2 on a wednesday than any other time of the week?
Kevin Goldstein: I think it's just kind of a fluke. Jim's a good friend, and we talk often, usually about The Amazing Race, which we keep threating to try out for as a team.
buffum (Austin TX): Is Wes Hodges' defense as bad as it looks to Joe Sheehan: i.e., Corey Smiff level frying pan? Worse than Jorge Cantu or Garrett Atkins? Of the Marginal Lefty Brigade (Sowers, Laffey, Jackson, S. Lewis, Huff), which would be league-average starters in 2009?
Kevin Goldstein: No, it's not. I think I'd bet on Huff from that group.
Matt L. (Chicago): Kevin -- Is there anything or anyone you have come across in researching and preparing the Top 11s that has really surprised you? (i.e., "This system/player is quite a bit better/worse than I thought?")
Kevin Goldstein: Not a ton of surprises, though I will say Arizona was surprising in a small way. I realized the system was down considerably due to graduation and the Haren trade, but I was still very surprised at the kinds of names and players that ended up in the discussion, and on the list itself.
Steve (Detroit): Thanks for the chat! Do scouts consider the dimensions of a park when evaluating outfielders defensively? For example, in the few AFL games I saw recently, the Scottsdale outfield is huge, and I saw a few balls hit over the OFs' heads that normally would have been easy home runs in almost all MLB parks. Are there any adjustments made to scouting reports?
Kevin Goldstein: You don't need to worry about the size of the park if you are solely focusing on the outfielder's instincts, jump and routes.
Andy (Chicago): Hey Kevin, Aumont vs. Inoa, who do you take?
Kevin Goldstein: Inoa.
Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): A lot of Giants sites seem to be freaking out (prematurely in my opinion) over Buster Posey's amount of PB's in the Hawaiian League. Is there any debate as to whether or not he'll be able to stay behind the plate? Most pre-draft reports liked him a lot behind the dish, even if he was new to the catching digs.
Kevin Goldstein: Plus defender with the potential to be great. Calm down, Giants fans.
Trey (orange co.): Will Andrew Miller improve next year? What's his ceiling?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't think I was ever a huge believer in Miller, certainly never saw ace in him, but he should be better than he is, and at least a solid to plus big league starter.
Steven Goldman (Fortress of Steveitude): KG, with the whole Padres divorce situation forcing that team to deal Peavy and forgo Trevor Hoffman (the latter not a big deal IMHO), is their farm system ready to pick up the slack? Seems to me that there's some interesting pitching there, but not much in the way of exciting position guys past Kyle Blanks.
Kevin Goldstein: Shouldn't you be asking me about some 1920s Senators infielder who had a hit song so you can get prospect questions later? It's not a good system, and yes, especially weak on hitters.
Dennis (Chicago): Neftali Feliz - Top 5 prospect overall?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm not only driving the Feliz bandwagon; I practically built the thing. That said, top 5 overall is more than a little strong.
JH (Berkeley): What tiers would Stephen Strasburg and Grant Green rate in if you could include them in a hypothetical t-100 list?
Kevin Goldstein: 5 stars; 4 stars.
basicslop (Albuquerque): RE: the D-Backs shallow system. Is there a semi-cyclical pattern to properly functioning minor league systems? for example it seems that they used their minors exactly the way they should have, build it up to form a solid big league team and then wipe out the entire depth of the system to tweak and compliment the Young Core to compete for Pennants and WS titles. Cause what's the point of having a deep minor league system if you don't plan on using it? doesn't it become worthless at that point?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't know about worthless, but yes, the Diamondbacks system is bad right now, but for all the right reasons.
newsense (DC): Would any of the Rangers' catchers be worth the Red Sox trading Bucholz or Masterson? If not, do the Rangers have anything that could even out the deal?
Kevin Goldstein: The Rangers have one of, if not THE best system in baseball, so they have enough to even out pretty much any deal you can think of. I'd be willing to part with Masterson if I was Texas, but I wouldn't sell low on Buchholz.
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Is the any way possible for San Diego to skip over Strasburg (due to Boras' demands, etc.) and he lands with the Mariners???
Kevin Goldstein: We just don't know yet. We have no idea how good he'll be this spring, and we have no idea what kind of contract comps Boras will be throwing around. It certainly COULD happen, but who knows, it might be too much for Seattle as well.
Jake (Kansas City): What's your impressions of Michael Saunders?
Kevin Goldstein: Athletic, toolsy outfielder with power, speed and patience? Sign me up.
Adam (Italy): What have the reports been like on Brett Hunter in the Hawaiian league? Is his stuff/velocity back to pre-injury levels? How quickly can he progress to the majors given his experience level, etc.?
Kevin Goldstein: They've been good. Velo isn't all the way back, but it's getting close, as he's been in the mid-90s and utterly dominant at times. I think his progression will depend a lot on his role.
Garth (Bay Area): How much, if any, has Tim Alderson's stock imroved in the eys of scouts since last spring? That was a pretty impressive performance in the Cal League, especially for his age. Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: It was an impressive showing, but I'm not sure it raised his stock a ton. He's not overpower, but he does have 70-80 command and control. An absolute big league arm, but some kind of impact guy? I don't see it.
Basicslop (Albuquerque): I think i heard somewhere that Casey Weathers is out for the season. But doesn't the combination of Weathers and Corpas mean that street shouldn't spend alot of time shopping for a house in Denver?
Kevin Goldstein: Weathers had a TJ, so yes, no '09 for him. I do think the Rockies will look to flip street, but at the same time, he's not a closer, and shouldn't be one again.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Is there any reason to think that Matt Wieters is not ready to be in the majors right now?
Kevin Goldstein: Not that I can see.
morisato (El Paso, TX): Any news on Josh Fields?
Kevin Goldstein: If you mean the Mariners draft pick, there might be some movement there soon, and Jack Z. has a good relationship with Boras.
greggaul (Chicago): What should the Phillies do with Jason Donald? Could he transition to 3B as of 2010 or does he get flipped for Burrell's replacement in LF?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, the big problem there is that he doesn't have enough bat for 3B, nor enough talent to get a Burrell-esque talent in return. And I like the guy!
Adam (Italy): Can Cardenas play an adequate enough shortstop to be an upgrade to the Bobby Crosby disaster?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't see it. I think the only tool he has that works on the left side of the infield is the arm.
Rob (Brighton): Have you played Fallout 3? If so, what'd you think? Also, does the old-timey music get stuck in your head for days on end?
Kevin Goldstein: Massive stuck in my head, especially the song 'Civilization' by Danny Kaye and his orchestra.
bloodwedding (BK): Brandon Morrow projection, 2009?
Kevin Goldstein: I might be kind of screwed here, because I have a big (and to use another fave scouting term) bias-on-view issue with him. The last game I wanted him pitch was a start against the Yankees in September and he was just absolutely dominant. If he pitches like that, he's massive.
Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): More Fallout 3 Q's! What kind of character are you playing, Kevin? My guy is a small arms / shotgun'ing / occasional power-fisting badass. With a few lock picking and science skills mixed in for good measure.
Kevin Goldstein: Definitely a small arms type, with a lot of sneak and lockpicking. I try to avoid physical melee at all costs. On a moral level, I'm pretty individualistic, so I'm neither a saint or a sinner as much as I'm simply saying, what's in it for me.
Brian (Miami): Thoughts on Matt Dominguez? Legit above average 3B? Elite? ETA?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes; maybe; 2011.
Tony (Albuquerque): shouldn't people be spending more attention to the $10M+ spent on the draft by Dayton Moore than the Jacobs trade? Not to excuse the trade but doesn't the draft show the Royals commitment to the longterm than one trade?
Kevin Goldstein: Hi everyone! Listen to Tony.
Steve (PA): Pedro Feliz doesn't have the bat for third, but we keep throwing him out there! (And it worked!)
Kevin Goldstein: Ok, when you start rattling off the reasons Philly won the World Series, lemme know when you get to Feliz.
Steve (Detroit): Do you see either Scott Sizemore or Will Rhymes ever becoming the starting 2B for the Tigers?
Kevin Goldstein: Neither system sucks, but you are kind of wasting a lot on a 360/PS3 if you don't have HD. Personally I have a PS3 because movies are important to me and the media capabilities were just as important.
Jeff (Topanga): Sergio Romo. What's not to like?
Kevin Goldstein: The fact that he's a finesse/deception type? He has value, it's just not immense.
Phil Bell (Alderney): Turn off the video games, and tell me why I should believe my buddy when he says Fernando Martinez is a better prospect than Tim Alderson.
Kevin Goldstein: Martinez provides more ceiling, Alderson provides more certainty. From what I can tell, most rankers balance those very differently.
Dandrew (Calcutta): If you and Jim Callis did do the Amazing Race, how well do you think you would do? If it were this season, could you guys contend for the title? And if you take Survivor questions, could either or both of you beat Crystal in a footrace? You look like more of a gold medalist than she does.
Kevin Goldstein: You want some entertainment, ask Jim about Crystal on Survivor, she drives him INSANE. I think we'd do just ok on Race. I think we'd do well on things like reading clues properly and paying attention to detail and staying cool among the chaos, but there'd be some issues on a physicality level.
ken (mass): Ryan Kalish was my darkhorse to be the Red Sox top prospect 300 or so days ago. While I may have missed on that, and clearly passed by Reddick, has he made any doubters this season, will he make your Sox top 10? If not is it a testament to the Sox depth?
Kevin Goldstein: For teams that are NOT done yet, I only have this kind of organic snapshot on a spreadsheet I keep that is filled with notes and stuff. They don't really solidify until the days/weeks leading up to the publication when I start all of my conversations with scouts and officials and stuff. So with that caveat, as of RIGHT NOW, he's still on my Top 10 list -- with some wiggle room.
curious NIU alum (Bucktown): Hey Kevin, are there any new places in DeKalb to hang out?
Kevin Goldstein: We just got a sushi place -- we want to check it out, and yet, having come here from your area, we're also a little scared.
Ryan (Cincinnati, OH): How little would Drew Stubbs need to hit for him to be a net positive?
Kevin Goldstein: You'll see tommorow? I like Stubbs, but I'm a tools sucker.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Don't take any more questions from Fallout 3 disparagers. Keith Law doesn't let people tell him to stop giving out rib sauce recipes, and you have to put out deeper content to a more demanding audience.
Kevin Goldstein: I agree. Chats are supposed to be fun, as far as I'm concerned. We can all approach them however we want, and just know, for every grumpy email/chat question saying 'stick to baseball', I get about 25 with more talk about video games/movies/music or saying that they like the branching out.
johnsond16 (Boulder): Hi, Do you see Desmond Jennings as an average MLB outfielder or is he more likely to be great/completely washout?
Kevin Goldstein: Big, big BIG Jennings fan, and scouts have been saying great things about him in the AFL.
hrcoll99 (CA): Seems like a down chat for the Giant's future. Callis and Keith Law have both said they have one of the stronger systems, do you disagree with this sentiment?
Kevin Goldstein: Not at all. I think it's a very good system. All I said was that Sergio Romo wasn't that great and Alderson was a 3 ceiling. It's a really good system.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Can Michael Burgess hit enough to make the majors?
Kevin Goldstein: I certainly think so.
Dave (Toronto): Jair Jurrjens had a pretty nice rookie season but doesn't have overpowering stuff. What do you see from him in '09 and beyond? Fall back to earth or can he be even better?
Kevin Goldstein: Honestly, my bet is neither of those things happening. I think he'll be consistently around that level.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Two players came up at the end of the season for the Orioles, and seemed to me to belong in the majors, Montanez and Salazar. I see Montanez as the O's 4th outfielder, and Salazar as a potential replacement for Millar, or a corner infielder back-up. What are your thoughts?
Kevin Goldstein: I agree with you much more about Montanez than I do on Salazar. You really have to hand it to Montanez -- a very high, very hyped draft pick who never lived up to expectations and really busted his butt to get there anyway. Gotta love that kind of stuff.
jlewando (dc): Love your work, Kevin. Can I get a sneak preview on Dexter Fowler ... ETA and ceiling, or a comp you like? Thanks
Kevin Goldstein: No sneak preview, but I'll say this based on a discussion with a scout. Fowler is one of those guys, and I love these types, where the second you seen him jog out to his position, you say "I want one of those". When those guys back it up with the performance, that's even more awesome.
norman (san jose): thoughts on adam jones, balt OF? do you believe he can be above avg with the bat?
Kevin Goldstein: I believe he can be a well above-average centerfielder in the end.
Kevin Goldstein: Unfortunately folks, I gotta cut this one after ninety minutes, as I have to finish the Cincy list for tomorrow. I'll be chatting throughout the offseason, so we'll see you next time.