Minor league opening days are about to kick off, meaning prospects start padding their resumes or seeing their status take a hit. Talk with prospects guru Kevin Goldstein about the action to come.
Kevin Goldstein: Welcome one and all. It's minor league Opening Day with the Eastern League getting going with four games on the schedule tonight, and then every league plays tomorrow. All sorts of exciting stuff going on around that, a new daily small feature from me that harkens back to the old days, as well as, and PLEASE check out what just went up on the home page, as we are very excited. All are welcome. Never written before? Start now. Written before, enter. Have a blog already and want some more exposure? Throw your hat in the ring. This is going to be fun. So anyway, let's talk about the minors, baseball in general, the contest, whatever really, and of course, let's have some fun.
Kevin (San Jose, CA): I am going to the San Jose Giants game on Friday night. If I were a scout, what questions would you ask me about Bumgarner (who is starting) and the team in general? Also, is there a more talented minor league team in baseball than my local club?
Kevin Goldstein: First start of the year? I wouldn't ask much at all, just a general how was it kind of question. And yes, that San Jose roster is STACKED. Unfortunately, a lot of that is due to the weather out East, and some of those guy could be in Connecticut by May, so go early and go often.
knockoutking (lonestarball.com): if wilmer font has a breakout/healthy year this year, what are the chances he jumps into the top 100?
Kevin Goldstein: They're solid. He's one of the best young, pure arm strength guys around, he's just very raw and has a checkered past as far as the ability to stay healthy.
ssimon (Pelham, NY): Kevin, today Joe wrote about managers setting bullpen rolls based on game situation rather than today's practice of assigning a pitcher to an inning. How could minor league organizations help with this?
Kevin Goldstein: Well first off, Joe is totally right here. The question is an interesting one and I'm not sure I have a great answer for you. Really only a few closers in the minors are true closer prospects. Mostly they're vets in the upper levels and organizations just focus on having their pitchers get guys out. Maybe big league teams should work that way as well.
BL (Bozeman): Thanks for the Top Dogs reports, Kevin... great stuff! Do you see any position players to like in the Royals system beyond Hosmer and Moustakas?
Kevin Goldstein: Not really. Ka'iahue is interesting if he can prove last year was for real. Gimme catcher Jose Bonilla as a sleeper.
Greg (Toledo, Ohio): Party like it is 2006/2007... which will finally turn the prospect corner this year? Homer Bailey, Edwin Jackson, or neither?
Kevin Goldstein: I'd bet both before I bet neither, but I already put some big chips on Jackson as part of the Tigers Top 11 prospect, so go with that.
Dave (Chicago): I know it's early, but who are some names we should be looking at for the A's first round pick in this draft? Is the 13th pick too high for Mike Leake, who they drafted out of high school the same year as Trevor Cahill?
Kevin Goldstein: Leake is the kind of guy who gets a lot of varied reports, despite his great numbers. Undersized righties tend to do that. As a college performer type, I'm sure he's on Oakland's radar, but this year's draft is seriously messed up. You'd have problems projection the number two pick right now, so forget about 13.
Brandon (Charleston): Zach Cozart - future major league regular?
Kevin Goldstein: Highly doubtful. Glove alone could make him a nice utility player. Maybe a second-division type starter if you wanna be optimistic.
GB (New York): Happy Passover to KG and the MOT readers. As for baseball, which current major leaguer do you see as the closest projected comp for Freddie Freeman?
Kevin Goldstein: Hate to disappoint anyone, but I'm not a member -- I certainly understand where the assumption comes from. Freeman's size and swing draw some Thome comparisons SOLELY ON a size and swing level. Nobody is saying he's going to hit .500 home runs, and obviously his plate discipline is nowhere close.
Kevin (San Jose, CA): Now a question about Posey... I got to watch him in a couple of games in Spring Training, and I got the impression that he'll belong in the majors very soon. Of course, when he takes off the catcher's mask and you see that baby face, you start to think A ball is about right. What things will the Giants be having him work on this year in order to fulfill the plan of him starting next year in the opening day lineup? As an aside, I got a chance to talk to Posey a little at Giants fanfest and he seems like a great guy. I'll be rooting that much harder for him.
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, the makeup is certainly there. I think he'll be their starting catcher in 2010, and most of this year will be spent honing his defensive skills.
JH (Berkeley): How much has Grant Green's draft stock slipped with his underwhelming Jr. season to date?
Kevin Goldstein: He's hitting .386/.461/.574 -- so it's not like he's sucked or anything. Stil, he has disappointed a bit, but his track record is good and he'll be fine.
Joel (GA): So you're 99.8% positive Strasburg will be drafted and sign with Washington?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.
johnpark99 (Boston): Steve Phillips ran a chat today on ESPN and suggested a possible motive for sending Wieters down: in part (not totally) because it "is important for young players...to experience failure at some point in the minors. If you get to the majors and have never had any struggles in the minors, you don't know how to solve a slump." At first read, it seemed like straw-grasping on Phillips' part, but it's got me thinking a little. And Kevin, I was wondering if you had any thoughts, opinions and/or historical examples to share on this idea.
Kevin Goldstein: That's certainly a philosophy, and dealing with failure often is an important hurdle to overcome in the minors. It's an interesting thing to talk to kids in Low-A who at times are having trouble understanding that hitting .284 is a good season, when they were used to hitting .600 every year.
Sully Superfan (The Cape): Is Tony Sanchez this year's Buster Posey?
Kevin Goldstein: The Boston College catcher is generating buzz, but no, he's not in Posey's league.
Kevin (San Jose, CA): I hope Green disappoints himself all the way to the Giants at #6. Is my impression correct that this draft is 1 guy, a huge cliff, then 4 more guys, another huge cliff and the the Giants pick from a pool of 20 guys who could go #6?
Kevin Goldstein: Really? you have four guys? I'll have more in an upcoming notebook, but if you got four for sure guys, teams would like to hear from you.
Shane (Miami): Were you surprised, like I was, that the Mariners moved Aumont to the bullpen so soon!?
Kevin Goldstein: Only mildly surprised. Scots I talked to last year tended to say that they saw him as maybe working out better as a reliever, but that you have to keep him as a starter for as long as possible. His stuff and emotions on the mound might work better out of the pen, but yes, it did seem early.
Stephanie (DC): What do you see as the upside this year for T. Cahill and B. Anderson?
Kevin Goldstein: To be average major league starters. That's high praise.
cooper7d7 (CT): Jack McGeary, where does he start the year, where does he finish? Please no smart remarks, like in the dugout, on the mound, or in the shower, cool? Thanks!
Kevin Goldstein: He starts at Low A Hagerstown -- I think he's actually starting the opener tomorrow if I remember right. I bet he stays there all year.
chris (bkyln, ny): Analog time, Madlibs-style! Trevor Cahill is to Big Black as _____ is to _____.
Kevin Goldstein: Brett Anderson; Naked Raygun.
Mike (Chicago): So it's Josh Vitters and a vast wasteland of nothingness on the Cubs farm? I can see that. But given the pretty decent chance that vitters is traded for some part to win this year, shouldn't his odds be a little worse to be the cubs' top prospect next year? Not looking forward to 2012...
Kevin Goldstein: Or is his chance of being traded even less because he's ALL THE CUBS HAVE? Interesting question.
Davis (Falls Church, VA): Kevin, how confident are we that Strasburg is actually represented by Boras? I heard a rumor that Boras "thought" he was representing Strasburg but really nobody knew exactly what the situation was. Do you know any more?
Kevin Goldstein: Boras is his rep. Because of the stupid, backwards, inherently evil, ridiculous, moronic, repulsive and exploitive rules of the NCAA, he can't sign any specific paperwork stating so. But yes, it's Boras.
Or (Dallas): Joe Sheehan said yesterday that he thinks Saltalamacchia could make an allstar appearance this season. I love the optimism, but this is the same guy who looked lost both beside and behind the plate for two years, and I have trouble seeing that sort of projection.
Kevin Goldstein: I think it's a little strong, but I certainly don't think it's crazy at all.
dcoonce (bloomington indiana): husker du > naked raygun. Sacrilege?
Kevin Goldstein: No. Simply wrong.
Jonathan (New York): Chance that Bumgarner makes a September appearance with San Francisco? 15%?
Kevin Goldstein: That's not a horrible number, but I'd take the under.
don (lansing, MI): So Kevin, we all know that stephen strasburg is the most awesomely awesome awesomeness in the history of awesome, but I'd love to have a bit of elaboration on that. what sets him apart from a guy like david price? What's he throw, why's he special?
Kevin Goldstein: Sits 96-98. Not touch, SITS, and sits there all day long. His last pitch a a start a couple weeks ago was 99. Touches 102. Breaking ball is a 60-65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. 6-5, 230 and veins popping out of his arms. He's a monster.
Greasetruck Teddy (New Brunswick, NJ): Does the Reds' decision to move Todd Frazier to LF this spring totally destroy his value as a prospect? He'll never be a regular now, right?
Kevin Goldstein: It doesn't help, but it doesn't really destroy him either. Guy can hit, but expectations change quite a bit certainly.
Marco (Virginia Beach): Can you tell us how long Wieters HAS to stay in the minors before Balt. gains an extra year of his non-arbitration years please?
Kevin Goldstein: There's not hard and fast rule here because of the super-two concept where a percentage of guys with less then three years (I think it's the top 1/6th) are designated as super twos and also eligible.
HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Who should the Nationals take second at #10?
Kevin Goldstein: Someone who they can afford. That pick could definitely be a cost-conscious selection.
Dave (Sydney): KG! were any Australian prospects of note signed in the last few months? Also, will Shane Lindsay ever live up to the promise he showed in 2006?
Kevin Goldstein: Dave! Nothing major, though keep an eye out for Oliver Box, a catcher the A's signed. I think Lindsey still might have some role in the big leagues down the road, but likely as a reliever.
Jason (DC): Please rate in order of prospect ranking coming out of college: Prior, Price, Strasburg.
Kevin Goldstein: Strasburg, Prior, Price.
Stephanie (DC): Do you have any thoughts on Aneury Rodriguez, the pitcher the Rays received for Hammel?
Kevin Goldstein: Long, lanky righty with a good arm, good command, and just so-so secondary stuff.
For the record we already have our first entry in BP Idol -- GET YOURS IN.
Joel (GA): Speaking in purely hypothetical terms, do you think Strasburg is good enough to be at least average if he were put into a major league rotation tomorrow? On a similar note, there's a lot of hoopla over what Strasburg is capable of *now*, but what's being said about what he's ultimately *capable* of?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, everyone I've talked to thinks he can pitch in the big leagues right now. What he is capable of is really hard to think about -- it's obviously pretty special.
D. Ernst (Trail, BC): KG, given a choice between a plus curveball OR plus slider, is one viewed as better than the other? Does injury rate plague one more than the other?
Kevin Goldstein: Not really. A lot of it depends on the pitcher and his mechanics. Some guys are just designed to throw one better than the other.
Rod (CANADA!): the mariners signed jeff zimmerman! (who knew he was still even involved in baseball!)
are there any Canadians who are going to "sneak up" on the draft this year like Aumont did a few years ago?
Kevin Goldstein: Sorry, no big players from the Great White North this year.
mgibson (DC): Given their fairly barren system, shouldn't the Nats take the best available player at 10? Or is this draft so weak they're better of spending the money on international signings?
Kevin Goldstein: They SHOULD take the best player, but with what Strasburg is going to cost, they probably can't afford to.
Aaron (YYZ): One last time and I'll let the issue die. Tell me some positives about Carlos Triunfel as a prospect.
Kevin Goldstein: Very young, fantastic plate coverage and an outstanding feel for contact.
bam022 (Chicago): Fowler has HRed in his first at bat. Obviously he isn't a power guy, but 15-20 guy?
Will he have any fantasy value this year? Ever?
Kevin Goldstein: I saw that. There are debates as to his ultimate power ceiling, but it's ultimately at least a 15-20 type, and maybe more. I do think he'll have fantasy value this year, and TONS OF IT down the road.
As an aside, I saw the HR on MLB.TV and have you guys seen the HD version they've put out there this year? It's totally beyond outstanding.
Aaron (YYZ): Ryan Kalish: Are you still on the bandwagon? Does he show some power this year or was that a LoA mirage?
Kevin Goldstein: Bandwagon. Wrist injury sapped him this year, and I expect a bounceback season.
tfierst (MN): When do the minor leagues usually start?
Kevin Goldstein: Right around now.
bam022 (Chicago): When you put Stratsburg ahead of Prior coming out of college, what is that based on?
I thought Prior had a deeper arsenal? Is Stratsburg's fastball really that good?
Kevin Goldstein: That's based on talking to numerous scouts and scouting directors who have been doing this a long time and asking them that exact question. Yes, the FB is that good, but so is the breaking ball.
John (DC): Any chance of there being a BP show on MLB Network?
I would LOVE to see you, Will Carroll and Joe Sheehan talk about baseball for 30 min or an hour!
Kevin Goldstein: Tell them that.
Meathead (Springfield, MO): Could Eric Hosmer play an outfield corner? He got what sounded like good reviews of his athleticism before the draft and it seems like a waste of his arm and his bat to sentence him to a permanent assignment at first base where it's pretty easy to find a guy who can hit.
Kevin Goldstein: He might now, but the question would be what does his athleticism look like when he's ready to go, and do you just waste development by doing that. I'm seeing him next week, and plan on writing about it.
Stephanie (DC): Will C. said he would take D. Price over Strasburg. What would you do?
Kevin Goldstein: I would disagree with Will.
don (lansing, MI): What's your take on Detroit's decision to plug Porcello into the rotation? I'm equal parts giddy and horrified.
Kevin Goldstein: Stick to giddy. When you are ready you are ready.
ericmilburn (San Francisco): Kevin, I know he's seemingly been a prospect for 5 million years, but were you encouraged at all by Brandon Wood's spring, and consequently what chances do you give him of developing into a major league regular?
Kevin Goldstein: I was encouraged by what I saw last fall, and yes, I think he'll be not only a mlb regular, but a good one at that.
Kevin (San Jose, CA): Your description of Strasburg sounds like Tim Lincecum, only a foot taller, 100 lbs heavier, and his favorite color might not be green. Do I have it about right?
Kevin Goldstein: Add in much, much better command and control.
Tom (AZ): Trevor Harden... absolutely lit Pioneer League bats on fire last year. He's starting South Bend's opener tomorrow night, and down the road, is he a future mid-rotation guy?
Kevin Goldstein: He could be. There are things to like. Nice fastball, very good command, developing secondary stuff -- it could work.
Bill (Toronto): If Mark Prior had 2 Cy Young awards under his belt rather than a blown out shoulder would people look at his amatuer status differently?
Kevin Goldstein: Here's the thing, just the brief amount he gave the Cubs was more than worth the record bonus he got.
JamesMartinCole (Boston): Question re: "historic" prospects. It seems like every year there's a guy or two that are big-time, historic level talents. J. Upton, A. Marte, A. Gordon, F. Liriano, M. Weiters, J. Bruce, D. Price, S. Strasburg, M. Ynoa, etc. Comparisons to Prior, Griffey, A. Rod abound. What are we to make of the abundance of "once in a decade" talents that seem to come once or twice a year?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't know how half of those guys ended up on your list, other than through the aggrandization of others. Many of those guys were the best players in the draft or the like, but I don't remember anyone calling Marte, Liriano, Bruce, or Price historic.
Matt (SD, CA): Do you draw upon your experience in software engineering in your current career?
Kevin Goldstein: Not a ton. I certainly use my management and business experience for the other part of my job.
strupp (madison): KG, Can i confuse you with Goldman for a moment and ask a random Yankees question? How sweet was it to see CC get lit up? Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: Um, I took no joy in it. I don't really have any reason to hate the Yankees. Keep in mind that in his first four starts last year, he allowed 27 runs in 18 innings. It happens.
geer08 (Birmingham, AL): KG, can you remember ever gushing (yeah, gushing) about a player like you have about Strasburg?
Kevin Goldstein: I always have my guys, but I wouldn't be doing that to you if I wasn't hearing it from others.
Three Idol entries already in after one hour -- you people better get on it.
krissbeth (watertown, ma): Do you think that there are women out there who might be able to play major league or minor league baseball? Do you think that some of the skills from college softball might translate for the very best players in that sport, with an adjustment period? And, if so, should a major league franchise try it out?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't see it working. I think the only way you'll see a woman in pro baseball is if she can spin a knuckleball . . . or rather NOT spin one.
Jack (Colorado Springs): There is a ____% chance that Wilin Rosario's performance this season will make you look like a genius.
Kevin Goldstein: They've jumped him all the way to High-A -- more on that tomorrow.
BR (NYC): What do you see as the best and worst aspects of the Cape Cod league? [Aside: as a former editor, I'd recommend Idol competitors take some time reviewing their entries before hitting "send." Since the deadline's not tonight, sleep on it.]
Kevin Goldstein: I have pretty much nothing negative to say about the Cape Cod League. Great players, fantastic atmosphere, wood bats -- what more could you want? Also, we've doubled the entries to six since I last updated. This is gonna be fun.
Josey Wales (Outlawville, TX): Do you think Max Ramirez can be a .300/.400/.500 hitter in the Major Leagues?
Kevin Goldstein: No. That gets thrown around a lot -- a 3/4/5 guy, but that's pretty damn rare. For example, last year there was a grand total of eight of them.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Will Austin Jackson be pressuring Gardner sooner than later? Is there more than a couple of games gap between them?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he could be pressuring him by mid-season, especially because I like Jackson far more as an every day player.
glenihan (nyc): the BP Idol guidelines state a max of 1500 words .. how long is a typical BP article (as opposed to lists, etc.)?
Kevin Goldstein: 1000-1500 words. Sometimes we go longer, and sometimes, if we're named Christina, we go WAY longer. Some other are much bigger as well. A top 11 is 3000+ words for example.
Charles (Detroit, MI): So was that earlier answer a shot at Husker Du or simply support for Naked Raygun? Personally, I've always had a soft spot for the Minneapolis scene.
Kevin Goldstein: No no no. Totally love Husker Du, just have quite the thing for Raygun.
strupp (madison): Follow up, non-goldman confusion: However, last year we didn't get the joy of listening/watching/observing the fabulous NY Tabloids & Media go crazy over the $100M pitcher. AJ Burnett better watch out.
Kevin Goldstein: You gotta admit, "BIRDBATHIA" was genius. Writing headlines for the post is one of my secret dream jobs.
CC (TN): What's an ETA on Emaus with the Jays? Would he work at SS? He had a great spring.
Kevin Goldstein: I like him as a solid all-around guy, but not a star. NO WAY he can play the left side. ETA: late 2010.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Do you still follow Andrew Miller? What kind of season can we expect out of him? Thanks!
Kevin Goldstein: I'm not optimistic on it being anything more than mediocre.
armcrow (California): What are the odds Alverez is up in Pittsburgh before September? Is it LaRoche contingent?
Kevin Goldstein: Sure, but obviously it's Alvarez contingent as well. I think you're looking at 2010 more than this year.
Stephanie (DC): Are there certain skills, talents, or weaknesses that you've found consistently cause you to rate a prospect higher or lower than other people might rate the same prospect?
Kevin Goldstein: Makeup. I've certainly seen a pattern where huge makeup guys way exceed expectations, while bad makeup guys fall well under.
Stephanie (DC): That was an unexpected and interesting effort. It makes me wonder about Josh Hamilton, for instance - what were the reports, if any, on his makeup going into the draft? Did the D-Rays have any idea what they were getting into? More generally, I suppose, is how often does the experience of professional baseball affect a young kid's makeup?
Kevin Goldstein: Hamilton is a totally unique case. Makeup was seen as good coming out, but at the same time, there were significant concerns about a very sheltered upbringing, which probably played a role in his first exposure to the real world.
jjm (Tucson): If you had to choose (disregarding price or future free agency) between A Jones, C Maybin and CB Young to man your CF spot for the next five years, who is your first pick? last pick? Is it close?
Kevin Goldstein: I'd take Jones easily over the others, but I'd have Maybin and Young pretty close for second.
Joe (NY): Do you still stand by your ranking of Buchholz ahead of Joba?
Kevin Goldstein: It's a bit shaky, but I'm not convinced it was a mistake. Ask me in five years. If you think everything points to one way or another on that one right now, you're a homer, or you're not looking at all the evidence.
Juan (UNC): Honestly, how does race play with scouts in evaluating players?
Kevin Goldstein: Is it perfect? No. But I would say that it's gotten much better, even in the relatively short time I've been covering the game.
strupp (madison): Will the Brewers ever draft and/or develop a player who can both hit AND field?
Kevin Goldstein: Does Alcides Escobar count? He can kinda hit, and he certainly can field.
tdees40 (Jersey): Is Jordan Schafer as good as he looks? He just hit his second homer of the season.
Kevin Goldstein: Yes. I mean, he's not going to hit 108 home runs or anything, but he's damn good.
Andrew (USC): I'm sitting in philosophy class learning about Locke. Thoughts?
Kevin Goldstein: They teach you about Braves lefty Jeff Locke in college? I knew I should have went to college.
Jim121 (Queens): How good can Bobby Parnell be?
Kevin Goldstein: He could be a decent middle reliever.
Phil S. (NJ): Can you give me a scouting report on Kenny Powers, RHP? I've heard there's makeup issues with him.
Kevin Goldstein: I honestly tried to give that show a chance. I really, really did. Just didn't work for me.
Bill (Toronto): I heard Franklin Morales had a drop in velocity last season, does he have it back or is he just having a good day?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm optimistic. Reports out of Venezuela this winter were very encouraging.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok, folks. That's two hours and I unfortunately must go. Everyone work on those entries!