Check in with BP's prospects guru to talk about the young and the bestest.
Kevin Goldstein: Hi everyone, welcome to another exciting BP Chat. It's been a while for me, but I'm glad to be back and rolling along on the Top 11s as we begun the American League today with the Orioles. With the holidays, the book, and some non-work stuff out of the way, I'm looking forward to rolling these out quickly, and hopefully having some more time for Valkyria Chronicles as well. Let's get rolling rolling rolling, rawhide as I have about 90 minutes before I have a call to help with an upcoming Top 11.
Matt (Bloomington, IL): What's the word on Dayan Viciedo? Does he end up beating out Josh Fields for the starting 3B job for the Sox?
Kevin Goldstein: The White Sox list is just two away, so you'll see then, but know that Viciedo is not a big league ready player. He's a prospect.
roughcarrigan (Grafton, Mass.): Do any teams anywhere teach pitchers the screwball?
Kevin Goldstein: A better question for Will, but I don't know any. The pitch is not friendly to the joints and most would rather see a more traditional breaking ball in a pitcher.
Zach (Baltimore): Are Rowell's attitude problems really so prevalent that his huge upside doesn't even get him on the radar anymore?
Kevin Goldstein: It's not his only problem. Bad shape, listless play, bad defense. I coudln't find anyone with a positive thing to say about him other than the fact that he hits the ball hard in batting practice. I'd put him in the late teens somewhere, but he got very little consideration for the Top 11.
Tyler (Baltimore): KG - Where does Zach Britton fit in the equation amongst the O's pitching prospects?
Kevin Goldstein: There are scouts who would have put him in the Top 11, and I think the Orioles would too. For me, it was more of a 13-16 range. He's a lefty groundball machine, but I'm not sure about the projection.
Stephanie (DC): I have a general scouting question - what does it mean for someone to have soft hands? It seems like it is generally used to refer to a good fielder; is it possible to have soft hands but not be good defensively?
Kevin Goldstein: It's absolutely possible. Soft hands basically means the glove works. He has a knack for getting the ball cleanly into the glove. Now beyond that, there's stuff like range, footwork, arm, etc. Brett Wallace is a great example. Guy has soft hands, but also the range of a lawn ornament at third.
Stephanie (DC): Based on a discussion I was having this morning, what is your view on Moustakas versus Tim Beckham as prospects? Would you trade either of them for Elvis Andrus, straight-up?
Kevin Goldstein: I like both of them quite a bit, and they're both very high, and close to each other in my Top 100 (which you'll all see soon). I wouldn't trade either for Andrus straight up -- I'd barely even consider it.
Rob (Brighton): I'm interested in some down ballot pitching prospects in the Sox system. Who has the most upside of the group of Fife, Price, and Weiland, and how does that group stack up against the teenagers Pimentel, Huntziger, and Britton?
Kevin Goldstein: I'll start by saying that as of right now (still a few conversations to be had), none of those six or on my Top 11, but I get the feeling that's going to change on one of them. From the first group, I like Price quite a bit, but I think the second group has overall better talent.
mike (chicago): What are your thoughts on draft pick compensation? Should it be changed, dropped, or is it ok the way it is? Seems odd that signing juan cruz is cheaper for the yankees than anyone else at this point. And that the yankees hold on to their #1 from last year's unsigned pick even with the three headed FA monster signings.
Kevin Goldstein: I think it should be completely dropped.
nickgieschen (nyc): Where does Inoa start and what would you guess to be his progression through the minors?
Kevin Goldstein: He'll be evaluated throughout the spring to figure that out. The most likely destination is the complex league in Arizona, but there's some thought that he could impress enough to pitch in the college-heavy Northwest League this summer.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): Hey KG. Will Anderson and/or Cahill be in Oakland's rotation at some point this season, or do you think one or both require another season downstairs?
Kevin Goldstein: More A's questions . . . I think you'll see both at some point next year, but I don't think they become fulltime members of the rotation until 2010. That could change if they end up competitive.
Tyler (Baltimore): Do the O's have the best depth of pitching prospects in all of baseball?
Kevin Goldstein: It's them or Texas. Texas has MORE pitching prospects overall for sure, but Baltimore has an edge at the upper levels.
tjoconn (waukegan, il): Are Chris Getz and Clyaton Richard the 2nd baseman and #4 starter, respectively, that the sox need them to be to repeat as division winners?
Kevin Goldstein: I think if Clayton Richard is making 30 starts for you, you are NOT going to repeat as division winners.
ericmilburn (San Francisco): How likely is it that Rick Ankiel is still developing as a hitter, given his unique situation and minimal experience with the bat - regardless of his age?
Kevin Goldstein: How's this for an answer -- I don't know. So much of what I do is based on trends and patterns and history and comparables, that I just don't have enough of a roadmap to be sure at all. I think you could easily argue on either side of that one.
Andrew T. (Baltimore): You don't have to spoil your Top 100 list (which we all eagerly await, of course) -- but who's the 2nd best overall pitching prospect now behind David Price? Madison Bumgarner? Tommy Hanson? Neftali Feliz? Chris Tillman?
Kevin Goldstein: If you read all of the published Top 11s, the answer is in there somewhere. So now you have a puzzle. Just call me Professor Layton and your all the Curious Villagers.
Dan (Denver): Does Hanson start the year in the Bravos rotation? Or is mid-season more likely?
Kevin Goldstein: Personally, I think he should. At the same time, I believe the Braves disagree, and he'll likely start the year at Triple-A.
fsumatthunter (Tallahassee): Will the CBA include the ability to trade draft picks any time soon? I think it should be an inevitability.
Kevin Goldstein: I completely agree with you, as do many people in the industry. The sad truth is that the draft is always the red-headed step child in any CBA discussions and rarely do the two sides have any in-depth discussions concerning them. Trading picks would be in the best interest of everyone I think, while also taking care of most of the slot issues.
Ben F (California): In a reader poll over on another prospect site 64% of the participatd think that Stephen Strasburg would be among the top 10 prospects in the game right now. That seems a little high to me. How about you?
Kevin Goldstein: I agree with the majority there.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Should Elvis Andrus be given the starting job, or should the Rangers suffer through a year of Omar Vizquel?
Kevin Goldstein: B. I think the Rangers are an excellent play for 2010, so wasting a year of Andrus' service time for a team that's not going to compete seems a little nuts and having him learn from Vizquel this spring and in a late-season callup has value that can't be measured on a spreadsheet.
Bodhizefa (Durham, NC): In terms of pure hitting ability, who wins between Matt Wieters, Brett Wallace and Jason Heyward?
Kevin Goldstein: Wieters.
JH (Berkeley): What can you tell me about Texas outfielder Kevin Keyes? Potential first rounder a year from now, or one-dimensional slugger with holes in his swing?
Kevin Goldstein: His tools are just out of this world as he's a massive guy with a ton of athleticism. Definite first-round potential and he still has two years to put some things together before teams start picking in 2010.
Andrew (DC): Do you have any new information on Brett Hunter?
From BP's Draft Recap "
7. Brett Hunter, RHP, Pepperdine: A first-round talent who went down with an elbow injury at the end of the year. Oakland has to figure out how serious it is to determine how much he's worth now."
Kevin Goldstein: They decided he was worth it, and he really looked great after signing, sitting in the mid-90s and touching the upper 90s. He's an excellent relief prospect.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): How far would Wieters fall on the top 100 if he couldn't play catcher?
Kevin Goldstein: Not that far really. The fact that he is a catcher makes him crazy elite, but if he was a first baseman, he'd still be elite.
Bodhizefa (Durham, NC): Best snack food while watching baseball?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm a big fan of the cashew.
DKANDREWS1 (DC): What do the Braves do with Jason Heyward in a few years if Jeff Franceour rebounds and is good again?
Kevin Goldstein: Franceour's best full year was a 782 OPS -- I'll bet the Heyward blows that out of the water.
adichiara (NY): Do you think Anthony Norman is the real deal, just as a legitimate prospect? He sure was old for his league last year but the peripherals were impressive and he jumped straight to High A.
Kevin Goldstein: Old for his league, AND that league was the California League, AND he was in the Southern division. We need tons more evidence to call him a prospect.
don (ann arbor): Cashew? Please. Sunflower seeds, obviously.
Kevin Goldstein: Hate those things.
Bodhizefa (Durham, NC): Ghostbusters: The Video Game is
A) potentially the coolest thing to come out this century
B) pretty cool, but it's no [insert game title here]
C) not my bag, baby
Personally, roasting the Staypuft Marshmallow Man sounds just about like heaven.
Kevin Goldstein: C. Just not into the pure action genre. Unless you want to get someone to localize Yakuza 3 for me.
Dave (Boston): With Holliday and Giambi coming to the A's, what will happen with young guys Sweeney and Buck. If Giambi DHs and Cust plays the OF, one of those guys is out of a job. Which one is it?
Kevin Goldstein: Sweeney plays CF, and Buck becomes a fourth outfielder. I'm not convinced he was ever much more than that in the first place.
jnewfry (Chicago): What's your outlook for Desmond Jennings and Reid Brignac? And say hey to Margaret
Kevin Goldstein: I'm willing to give Jennings a bit of a mulligan for 08 due to the injuries, and while the numbers don't overwhelm, some scouts who saw him in the Arizona Fall League said his tools stuck out like a sore thumb, so I'm still very high on him. Brignac is just weird at this point for me. The bat has not come with him at the upper levels, but at the same time, he's gone from a guy that some wondered would be able to stay at short, to a guy that gets really good defensive reviews. So now he's a plus defender with power but low on-base skills? Khalil Greene?
Rob (Alaska): Do you see Buster Posey as a 300/400/500 hitter or more of a 320/380/460 hitter?
Kevin Goldstein: Can I mix and match here? I see him as more of a .290/.370/.475 type.
adichiara (NY): Pitcher Michael Pineda has some very good numbers last year, does he have the scouting report to match? Haven't heard much about him.
Kevin Goldstein: I saw him pitch last year, and got to sit with a scouting buddy while doing it. He's more of a strike thrower than a stuff guy. He's a prospect, but nowhere good a one as his numbers might suggest.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Could you give your thoughts on Jeff Larish and his prospects to play another position? Also who did better in the Matt Joyce/Edwin Jackson swap? Thank you!
Kevin Goldstein: I can't picture Larish playing anywhere but first. He played third in college, but I can't see it translating in the pros. The Joyce/Jackson swap is hard to evaluate, but Jackson is one of those players I'd be scared *&$!-less to trade, with the fear that he's eventually going to put it all together and dominate.
mgibson (DC): Can you give us a capsule review of Valkyria? Looks fantastic.
Kevin Goldstein: Groundbreaking SRPG and one of the very best games of 2008. Maybe my #2 behind Fallout 3. Fantastic art style, and such unique, challenging and fun gameplay. HUGE fan and HIGHLY recommended buy.
rawagman (Toronto): What could T. Snider do given a full year of playing time in the bigs? Or would the Jays be wise to give him more development time in AAA as some have suggested? Thanks
Kevin Goldstein: If he ends 2009 with the best stats on the Blue Jays team I won't be surprised in the least.
JH (Berkeley): Looking at his stats last year it's really difficult to find any kind of flaw in Carlos Santana's game. Power, patience, contact, good defensive reviews. Am I missing something, or is he a bona fide top-25 prospect?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't know where these good defensive reviews are coming from . . . but I can't argue with the offense.
Phil (Tacoma): Good afternoon KG, thanks for the chat! Do you think Tazawa has middle of the rotation ability or is he more likely to end up in the bullpen?
Kevin Goldstein: I'll tell you when I publish the Boston Top 11 (right now it's looking like Wednesday). I still have two people to talk to, and both should provide excellent information on Tazawa, as what I have right now is all over the board on him.
Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): Switching gears a little into video games. Biggest gaming let down for you in '08? Biggest surprise?
Kevin Goldstein: Biggest letdown: Grand Theft Auto IV.
Biggest surprise: Adoring Fallout 3 after not even liking Oblivion.
Andrew (Indiana): Loek Van Mil: Future MLB pitcher or just a 7'1" sideshow?
Kevin Goldstein: Legitimate shot at being a middle relief type. It's not a novelty act.
fsumatthunter (Tallahassee): Is Stanton's power an 80? Does it profile to be in the bigs?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, yes.
Elmo (Hartford): What do you see as the ceiling for Wilmer Flores? Will he max out higher than Gordon Beckham?
Kevin Goldstein: I would say Flores has a high offensive ceiling, but there's very little chance that he remains a middle infielder, so you have to balance those two things.
Rob (Oakland): What kind of prospects could the Mariners net if they moved Beltre? Should they expect a team's best prospects, or the tier below?
Kevin Goldstein: Tier below, or one even below that. I think with the massive economic issues and their effect on baseball, top prospects and their controlled pre-arb pay structure see their value increase dramatically.
Oliver (Lansing, MI): Better bat, Freeman or Lambo? Ignoring defense of course.
Kevin Goldstein: Freeman.
Aaron (YYZ): You can have one of these super-young Latin American prospects, Juan Duran (CIN, OF) or Kelvin De Leon (NYY, OF), which do you take?
Kevin Goldstein: Duran.
Birdfan01 (LA): How close to the top 11 did Bobby Bundy come? I've read that he was a possible first rounder before suffering a knee injury.
Kevin Goldstein: He was one of the last cuts from the "just missed" list, so he'd be in the middle-teens. A lot of projection there to be sure.
cubfan131 (IA): Are you much of a sports gamer? Any plans to pickup MLB Front Office Manager?
Kevin Goldstein: As weird as it might sound, I'm not a sports gamer at all, except for the fantastic Hot Shots Golf franchise, which I almost treat as more of a puzzle game it it's roots. By the way, I heard that Front Office game is HORRIBLE.
mikemcd (Ottawa): Will Nolan Ryan destroy Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Martin Perez? Your concerns, if any? (To me, Ryan's statements amount to an increased workload being placed on these young pitcher's arms--how worried should a Texas fan be?)
Kevin Goldstein: I wouldn't be worried one bit. I think workload for young arms should be a concern, but I also think over the past few years the industry has overrated to the point of being wusses about it, and a reversal in the other direction to a more reasonable mid point would be for the best. So I salute the Rangers for having the gets to step back a bit in this regard.
Birdfan01 (LA): Alcides Escobar or Elvis Andrus? Who has more value in 4 years?
Kevin Goldstein: I'll take Escobar. I think they're pretty much equal offensively, and Escobar gets the nod with the glove.
Scott (Greenville, SC): What happened to Homer Bailey?
Kevin Goldstein: If you figure that out, the general, publicly listed phone number for the Reds is 513-765-7000. To Ian from Detroit: I can't answer your question for obvious reasons, but thanks for the laugh and I hope things work out for you.
Nathan O (Annex): Has Stephen Drew developed as you expected? Fantastic 2nd half.
Kevin Goldstein: Maybe a bit slower. If we're starting a pool on guys who could have huge 2009 years, lemme know what kind of odds I get on Drew, because I'll probably put some chips down on him. Great breakout candidate.
lawnboy34 (Cleveland): Silent Hill 2 (your recommendation) rocked my world. Are 1, 3, and 4 even in the same ballpark?
Kevin Goldstein: 1 is for the PS1, which WILL play on your ps2 or ps3. If you can deal with the decade-old graphics, it's outstanding. 3 is much better than 4, but since it's clear you can play PS2 games, and liked the survival horror genre, I would much rather move you over to the FANTASTIC Fatal Frame series.
Bill (New Mexico): Question on prospect ratings. Does a "two-star" prospect come in at about the same level regardless of what organization he's in? I'm surprised that farm systems you consider strong still have guys at the two-star level in slots #10 and #11 rather than three-star. Could that be because you're setting the bar higher for the less-than-top-grade prospects in those systems?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes. I put in the star levels for just that reason, hoping that it would all for some cross-system comparisons that were more accurate as the No. 8 prospect in the Texas or Oakland system is obviously far better than No. 8 with the White Sox or Astros. As far as strong systems, some are strong because they have lots of elite talent, and some because of depth. The elite systems have both.
Scott (Detroit): Reds prospect Juan Francisco pretty much obliterated Dominican Winter League pitching. Did he get that much better? Or was the pitching just that bad?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm not saying he didn't take a big step forward, but offense was WAY WAY up this year in the Winter Leagues.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok folks, unfortunately that's all I have, as I have to make another call in order to make sure your Red Sox list is top notch. Talk to you all soon.