With the minor league campaigns wound down, how about some after-party patter with the prospects guru par excellence? BP's Kevin Goldstein drops by to take your questions, and provide a few answers.
Kevin Goldstein: Hi boys and girls -- it's time for another KG chat fast. I'm very much missing 100 minor league box scores a night, but the withdrawal symptoms are finally starting to lessen. Now it's the doldrums as we wait for winter baseball and of course, once the World Series is over, it's prospect ranking time. Can't wait for that, and hoping that Demon's Souls will help get me through October.
Rob (Alaska): I'm not even sure how to ask this, but...when a player is raw, like Dee Gordon, is there a better way for him to improve skills than in games? I guess I'm curious as to how much instruction actually happens during the grind of playing nearly every day. My gut says playing every day would be more likely to reinforce bad habits than to correct them...then again my gut can be a dumba**.
Kevin Goldstein: Gordon is just so fascinating to me on a lot of levels, and he's a real challenge to rank. His upside is crazy great, but he's just so raw, and not really so young. He's 21 and plays like a toolsy, raw 18 year old. Playing every day would reinforce bad habits if you were playing every day on a sandlot, but playing every day under the watchful eye of professional coaches who are trying to steer you away from those bad habits is a different ball of wax.
Jrob0423 (Charlotte): What is your opinion of Criag Kimbrel ? Led all of the minors in K/9 innings but has command issues. Future Braves closer or middle innings reliever ?
Kevin Goldstein: Actually, he was second behind Dan Remenowsky of the White Sox, but why nitpick. The key phrase here is "but has command issues." If he can clean those up (and progress was made during the second half), then yes, he can close.
Milby (SF): Special K, were Pedro Alvarez's High-A struggles simply a result of not seeing any good pitches? The power has clearly always been there, but it was certainly a tale of two seasons. What's his 2010 outlook?
Kevin Goldstein: He was really pressing early in the year, and I truly think the Pedro you saw in the second half at Altoona is the real Pedro. Absolute first-division No. 3 hitter.
JB (New York): How did you see De Leon's bat progress during his GCL season? Has he improved against offspeed pitching, and what is your opinion of him going forward? Do you think he needs more short seasoning or will he be at Charleston?
Kevin Goldstein: I would wager he's at Staten Island next year, but I don't think it's a slam dunk that he doesn't start at Charleston. He's definitely a very intriguing talent, but wow does he have a lot of swing-and-miss in him.
mdickson (Baton Rouge): Where does Anthony Ranaudo get picked in next year's draft?
Kevin Goldstein: Top 3, maybe even 1.
JoshEngleman (Wilmington, NC): Not sure if you are familiar with Flickchart, but if the process was applied to say, the top 100 prospects in baseball, how much different do you think your list would look like?
Kevin Goldstein: I think crowdsourcing is about the worst idea around for something like a top 100 list.
David (Winston Salem): Do you see any improvement in the Tigers farm system outside of Casey Crosby and Ryan Streiby?
Kevin Goldstein: Plenty. I think their system had a pretty good year really, based on what they were starting with.
JAYPERS (IL): When is the earliest you can envision Desmond Jennings contributing in Tampa on a regular basis?
Kevin Goldstein: Early 2010.
armcrow (California): Hey Kevin. In your last chat you said Strasburg would be next year's #1 prospect over Heyward. Callis said the same yesterday. I realize Strasburg is a special talent, but he's also yet to prove himself as a pro and, as a pitcher, is a greater health risk. Meanwhile, while Strasburg was mowing down mostly younger, amateur competition, Heyward was tearing up the Southern League as a 19 year old. I realize you know more about this stuff than I do, so I'm genuinely interested in the process that led you to conclude Stasburg's your guy. Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: Because he really is a special, borderline unprecedented talent. I have no memory of an amateur pitcher like him, and people who have memories that go way further back than I do agree. Heyward is fantastic, but I don't know how I could take him over Strasburg.
JoshEngleman (Wilmington, NC): I think we are misunderstanding each other. I meant if you personally just had random groups of two players pop up, and you had to pick between them. Just in your own personal bubble, I wonder how some people would slide up and down the list.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok, now I get it. I honestly kinda sorta do that for the top 100. There's a lot of single guy vs. guy tests that define the rankings.
Hawkeye (Grafton, ND): Travis Buck
a. becomes a regular MLB'er
b. a 4th/5th OF
c. this is it-nada
Kevin Goldstein: B.
antler234 (VA): Kevin, in her chat last week CK classified Josh Reddick as a "middling talent." Maybe I'm wrong here, but a guy with above average power, excellent contact skills, a canon for an arm, and enough range to play in center seems like a little more than "middling."
Kevin Goldstein: I agree with you, but BP is not some kind of single-minded army, we all have our opinions about things, and all of us often differ with others in their opinions on the game or players or business issues or whatever.
DanLong (NYC): Do the Mets have what it takes (in their farm) to get either Roy Halladay or Adrian Gonzalez in an offseason trade? I argue no, but my Mets-loving friend swears they'll get one or the other...
Kevin Goldstein: No, no.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Now that the MiLB regular season is complete, the draftees (non-Aaron Crow division) are signed, and the international signing period is complete (?), do you have a sense now of the prospects who might be new to your top 100 list already? Can we get a sneak peak? (Don't worry, I'll still be bugging my local book shop for the annual's availability, I promise).
Kevin Goldstein: First off, Buster Olney reported that Crow is close to signing. I have a sense of the top 50 or so, about 100 names worth of consideration for the next 50, and I also have a top six in mind. As for sneak peaks, if you come to DeKalb, IL and set up in the right spot you could probably see my ranking notes and spreadsheets through the window of my office with some nice binoculars.
David (Winston Salem): You don't know how you could take Heyward over Strasburg? Heyward's a bat, for one.
Kevin Goldstein: I agree totally. Jason Heyward is a MUCH better hitter than Strasburg.
Christopher (Nashville): Forgive me if I've asked this question in a previous chat (in any case I don't think you answered). But presumably the #1 prospect is farther in value from the #25 prospect than #75 is from #100. So have you ever thought about a way to indicate the absolute value of prospects (say on the 20-80 scale) as well as assigning a rank order value?
Kevin Goldstein: I do this for the Top 11 lists certainly with the star system, so people see that not every No. 4 prospect is created equal for example, but I've never done it for a top 100. It is a good idea however, and yes, the difference between #5 and #25 is probably 3 to 4 times (maybe more) bigger than the different between #60 and #99. I'm open to suggestions.
JZirinsky (Washington, DC): Kevin: Are you a fan of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't have a DS, but I'm sure I would be. The SMT series is the best RPG series in video gaming history. Close behind is Disgaea, and I'm fully enjoying the Disgaea 2 port that was just released for the PSP while waiting for Demon's Souls.
Minneapolitan (Nashville): Two years ago, around this time of year, I asked you to tell me something good about the Twins' system. You mentioned, perhaps as a way of pointing out the relative dullness of that group in 2007, that Denard Span had a nice finish to the year. This year, another half-decade stale Twins' first rounder had a nice finish to the season playing a position where the team desperately needs help. So what's good about Trevor Plouffe? If the answer is "nothing", then I'd be pleased just to hear something good about the Twins' system. Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: I still think Plouffe has some kind of chance to get there as some kind of utility player. I do think there some solid stuff in the Twins system, including a nice group of young, toolsy outfielders, and as always, plenty of strike-throwing starters.
bkmhoxx (KC): Who are some of the "sleeper" shortstop prospects in the low minors that you think could develop into something nice?
Kevin Goldstein: Two guys off the top of my head from Low A are Ehire Adrianza (Giants) and Miguel Rojas (Reds). Both are really nice defenders with a chance to hit a little bit.
Minneapolitan (Nashville): Thanks. As usual, you're a scholar and a gentleman.
Kevin Goldstein: I'm actually neither, but it is appreciated.
Kelvin (IN): Sacramento's Chris Carter almost seems to get better at every level that he plays at. He obviously has some work to do, defensively. But do you think this guy could be a potential future All-Star? It seems like his plus-plus power is definitely the real deal.
Kevin Goldstein: I think he absolutely could be an All-Star, no question about it. He's going to get a very real look next spring.
Adam J. Morris (Houston, TX): I know you weren't quite as high on Elvis Andrus coming into the 2009 season as some other folks were, seeing him as a future Edgar Renteria rather than a future star -- has his performance this year changed your mind any?
Kevin Goldstein: No. Renteria actually had a better year at 20, but then dropped off a bit. I think they're very similar players really. Andrus w/ more speed, Renteria with a more refine approach.
dgallant (daga22): favorite sport?
Kevin Goldstein: There are other sports?
KGStalkerOne (DeKalb, IL): When I'm looking in your office with my nice binoculars, I'm not concentrating on your notes and spreadsheets.
Kevin Goldstein: You're looking at my genuine Fallout 3 bobble-head? Perusing my books?
Kelvin (IN): Last one I'll submit today. Can Brett Wallace make an adequate 3B in the majors? Oakland has several potential 1Bs, in Barton, Everidge, Doolittle, and Carter. And their organizational depth is ridiculously shallow over on the left side of the infield.
Kevin Goldstein: Well, I think the situation you describe is exactly why he'll get every opportunity to stay there. He's a very weird third baseman in that he's kind of the anti-Ryan Braun. Braun has all of the tools and athleticism to be and above-average 3B, but he's not, for whatever reason you want to throw out there. Wallace on the other hand makes the plays he gets to, has soft hands and a solid-but-unspectacular arm, but his range is just very very short. It's a different kind of measurement.
Jay (NY): How well do you think major league teams/scouts are able to judge risk profiles/uncertainty of a prospect? For instance, I would imagine that a team like the Yankees or Red Sox would look to get OFs that are much riskier, on average, than the Pirates, as a team with a deep talent pool and budget would benefit more from a stars and scrubs approach to prospects than a team that could use the cost-certainty of average players at pre-arbitration prices.
Kevin Goldstein: You're absolutely right. The Yankees could afford to spend $3 million on a lottery ticket like Andrew Brackman, knowing it's not a huge loss if he busts out -- other teams can't afford those kind of risks.
don (lansing): so, is it safe to say we've seen the last of casey kelly the shortstop?
Kevin Goldstein: I would hope that .222/.302/.340 would be enough to convince him.
Larry (Chicago, IL): You mentioned CJ Retherford's leap forward - is it great enough to pencil him in as a potential starter in 2011?
Kevin Goldstein: He's certainly a prospect, but I think a first-division starter profile is pushing it more than a bit.
tballgame (Nashua, NH): I noticed Texas's first base prosect is Smoaking the ball in the World Cup. Smoak lit up AA and struggled after his promotion. What is your overall impression of his 2009 season? Is he still the Rangers' top positional prospect?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm a HUGE Smoak fan, and I do think he's the top positional prospect in the system, but I'd take the world cup stuff with a big big big grain of salt. He's hitting home runs against guys who would never get a pro deal.
Lincoln (Dallas): If Pedro Alvarez is a first-division slugger...doesn't he have to get traded first?
Kevin Goldstein: ba-dum-DUM
beta461 (SF): Will Brandon Crawford ever hit enough to make it?
Kevin Goldstein: Probably not, but I wouldn't totally rule it out.
Cameron (Maine): Is Mike Montgomery's ceiling that of a Jon Lester-type?
Kevin Goldstein: No. Doesn't throw anywhere near as hard. I'm a big Montgomery fan, but their similarities are that they're big and lefty.
elm (FL): Is it at all meaningful that 2 of the Yankee minor league teams won their championships and a 3rd is playing in theirs? I know the SWB isn't exactly prospect-laden so that's not too important, but do the Tampa and SI wins suggest there's a lot of talent on the farm?
Kevin Goldstein: Not really. There is very very little to zero correlation between winning on the farm and winning in the future in the big leagues. It's a different game and lots of circumstances.
Clint (Chicago): Gordon Beckham has exceeded expectations so far, I would assume. Is it more of (a) being an exceptionally polished player coming out of school or (b) having a higher ceiling than originally thought at last year's draft?
Kevin Goldstein: How about C. Reaching that ceiling much earlier than expected? He's going to be great. I'm really convinced that 2-3 years from now when you go to the Cell it's going to be filled with fans in Beckham jerseys.
George (Charlotte): I enjoyed seeing Alex Avila's recognition in your article this week. What is your long-term projection on him?
Kevin Goldstein: If I'm the Tigers, the catching job is wide opening going into the spring.
Clint (Chicago): I'm glad you write that since I just got a Beckham jersey. Follow-up: if the 2008 draft got a re-do, where would Beckham go?
Kevin Goldstein: Top 3. Maybe even 1.
Tim (DC): "It's a different game and lots of circumstances."
Like Dice-K pitching for Lowell in the playoffs since he needed a rehab start....
Kevin Goldstein: Not just that. Some teams move prospects aggressively (thus making the team he leave worse), some leave guys to dominate. There are plenty of teams with players that have the kind of skills to put up big minor league numbers but not the kind of skills that translate at the big league level. There's about 8 million things to looks at in the minors, and I gotta tell you, wins and losses is about the last thing people inside the game pay attention to.
jckmd04 (nashville): cody johnson? does he have a future
Kevin Goldstein: There's SOMETHING there. I mean, the guy has insane power, but I don't know what it all is in the end. He's kind of a Dave Kingman type to me, and I don't know if that fits somewhere in today's game.
Jon (Rhode Island): Has the Cubs system taken a big step forward this year? Vitters, Cashner, Carpenter, J. Jackson, Hak-Ju Lee, Starlin Castro, Kyler Burke, Brett Jackson all seem like legit 4* candidates.
Kevin Goldstein: Has the Cubs system taken a big step forward this year? Absolutely. Calling all of those guys 4-star players (Top 100 worthy) is a bit absurd.
ericmilburn (San Francisco): I know Lincoln was joking about Alvarez needing a trade, but with Andy Laroche manning 3B, what exactly is his path? Clearly he's a better talent than Laroche, but the fact remains he's blocked at the hot corner at the moment.
Kevin Goldstein: Pedro is a big league third baseman about as much as you or I am. He's going to be a first baseman sooner than later.
glenihan (nyc): What do scouts have to say about frankie cervelli's defense behind the plate? I don't trust my own eyes enough with regards to catcher D to make any sort of semi-educated guess
Kevin Goldstein: He's a really, really good defensive catcher. Was seen as one of the better ones in all of the minors, and scouts thought he'd have at least a big league career based on that alone.
Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas): News just broke that Texas signed Tanner Scheppers -- where is he in the Ranger top 10, and is his future in the rotation or pen?
Kevin Goldstein: I need to think about where he goes before giving you a good answer, he's certainly in there somewhere. I would bet he relieves when all is said and done.
Eli (Brooklyn): Do you think that AJax can be a major league average CF?
Kevin Goldstein: I do.
Scott (San Diego): Padres have been promoting a lot of the prospect pipeline to the bigs this year. Any players left in AA or AAA to be excited about?
Kevin Goldstein: PLENTY. If I had to give a great leap forward to one team rather than players, it might be the Padres. Players to watch at every level.
jbuofm (Peoria): Pick your favorite young NL centerfielder: Fowler, McCutchen, or Rasmus?
Kevin Goldstein: So tough. I think I'll take McCutchen, but ask me a week from now and I might change my mind.
Jay (NY): Granted he's amazingly raw, but is there a non-Rocco Baldelli comp for Ryan Westmoreland? I feel like he gets it based on the "athletic guy from RI" the same way that any short white WR is compared to Wes Welker...
Kevin Goldstein: You are TOTALLY right, it's one of those cheap comps, like the Dominic Brown/Daryl Strawberry one. I don't have an obvious comp off the top of my head, but I have to tell you that the reports from scouts in the New York Penn League where OUT OF THIS WORLD.
Eli (Brooklyn): Follow-up--do you think AJax WILL be a major league average CF?
Kevin Goldstein: I do.
mbring (Saint Cloud, MN): What does it mean when a guy like Cardenas gets promoted, struggles, goes back down, hits his way back up, and then excels. Just sample size coincidence, or can a guy really "go back down and learn some stuff" that lets him succeed at the higher level?
Kevin Goldstein: Not only can they "learn some stuff", it's an absolute necessity. Think about it, if a guy moves up a level, puts up the exact same numbers as he did at the lower level (let's not worry about league and park for the sake of this point), then he made big improvements, because that new level is harder.
Dennis (Monterey Park): Thoughts on Derek Norris? Will he be catching for the Nats at some point next year?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he's fantastic. I also think 2010 is unrealistic.
stewbies (rochester): What do you think of Milledge?
Kevin Goldstein: I still believe.
Pat (Long Island): How is it that guys get multiple questions answered and i can't get one on a seeming divisive player like porcello????? Some see him skipping AA/AAA and say WOW ace in the making, others say he just doesnt strike out enough people to be more than a durable innings eating type like garland??? Whats your stance... which way does he go george which way does he go???
Kevin Goldstein: He's going to be an All-Star and strike out tons of guys. I'm not concerned in the least.
myshkin (Santa Clara, CA): Thanks for the chat, Kevin. If Darryl Strawberry is a cheap comp for Domonic Brown, how far away is Brown from Strawberry, and in what direction? Do you have a better comp in mind?
Kevin Goldstein: I really don't like comps unless they are obvious. Let me put in this way: We can all agree that Brown had a fine year this year in the minors. When Straw was the same age, he was the NL Rookie of the year with nearly twice as many HRs as Brown hit in High- and Double-A. That's not to knock Brown by any sense, as on pure tools, Strawberry is a historic talent.
scott (chicago): C'mon, who is this guy, Dan Remenowsky? Looks pretty old for his level, but 100+ Ks as a reliever is nice. He's gotta be better than Linebrink, right? Ha.
Kevin Goldstein: HUGE rhp, like 6-5, 250. A lot of deception in the delivery, 89-93 fastball that he can sink or cut, nice power curveball. Not a stud by any measurement, but he's gotta chance.
Jim H. (Golden, CO): How good of a prospect is James Darnell? Can you put him in some context like Top 100, or how he compares to other 3B prospects? Is he a 3B long-term?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm a big Darnell fan, I think bigger than most. Fantastic approach, good swing, above-average power -- lots to like offensively. Defensively, he's very frustrating, as he's a really good athlete, but a really bad third baseman.
jon (Se): What is your take on Ian Desmond?
Kevin Goldstein: I kind of believe it. The tools where always there -- I'd certainly give him a long look if I was Washington.
Rob (Alaska): Divisive prospect lightning round! Angel Villalona, stock up or down?
Kevin Goldstein: Down.
Swingingbunts (NY): Do you feel the same way about Gordon Beckham even if he stays at 3rd base?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.
Sgrcuts (Flushing): There is no more divisive prospect on the internets then Madison Bumgarner. The scouting reports don't seem to be matching what we're seeing, the fastball isn't as fast as reported, the secondary stuff doesn't seem to be much of anything. What gives?
Kevin Goldstein: This needs to be figured out. Basically, he lost velocity slowly throughout the year, yet he still got guys out. I'm still trying to figure out what to make of him to be honest, and I need more information.
Mark (Sacramento): What can we read into Tyler Colvin's ridiculous August (.379/.425/.689) and good season (.300/.334/.524)? Still MLB starter potential? 4th OF/bench bat?
Kevin Goldstein: Stock is certainly back up, but I have problems seeing him as a every day guy in a corner.
jckmd04 (nashville): what about the Heyward Strawberry comps
Kevin Goldstein: Very different players.
tddewan (Torrance, CA): Big Ryan Wheeler fan...can you tell me more about how you see him developing in the future? Are you savvy to Arizona'a plans for him? Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: When you draft a guy in the fifth round, you don't have a lot of 'plans' per se, as much as to just let him play and see what you got. He had a nice debut, but as a first baseman, he needs to keep raking and find some power.
Bud Selig (New York): Do you think I should push for a slotting system for bonuses for the draft?
Kevin Goldstein: Weird question if I take the logic too far. If you are Bud Selig with Bud Selig's responsibilities and answer to the people Bud Selig answers too, than of course you should -- you already have, actually. That said, I'll be surprised if it happens, and I don't think it's a good thing.
Conjunction (Dallas): Hey KG!
You ranked Scheppers #6 in your pre-draft list of available prospects. Has your opinion of him diminished between then and now?
Kevin Goldstein: That ranking was before the latest injury was fully known, so yes, but only based on that.
biglou115 (Arkansas): What does Hank Conger's future look like? I watched him all year and can't imagine a MLB team would be OK with his defense, but can he handle 1b or OF? I can't imagine he's quick enough for LF.
Kevin Goldstein: You are correct in everything you said here, and that's why he's a bit of a conundrum. He really kind of does have to catch for it to work out.
JLB (Denver): Does Tyler Matzek crack your top 100?
Kevin Goldstein: Oh yeah.
Alex Gordon's Parents (Kansas City): Why has my son really struggled in the Majors so far? Does he still project to be a franchise player?
Kevin Goldstein: Wrote a whole piece about this last month.
bill (NJ): is the montero/piazza comp another of those crazy ones?
Kevin Goldstein: Not as much as you might think. Obviously, comping a guy to the best offensive catcher in the history of the game is risky, but if you want to say something in the realm of, "Like Piazza, Montero will be so crazy good offensively for the position that you're more than happy to live with the glovework," I'll buy it.
Ron (Vancouver): Is Travis Snider the next Adam Dunn?
Kevin Goldstein: Way better pure hitter with well above-average power, but not crazy-Dunn power.
John (New York): Who do you like more? Arodys Vizcaino or Manny Banuelos? Banuelos seems to have better command but Vizcaino has better stuff. Could either be front of the rotation starters one day?
Kevin Goldstein: For me, Vizcaino is a way better prospect. That's not to shoot down Banuelos, I just think Arody has a chance to be special.
ScotMartin (TX): How has Derek Holland's MLB debut changed your opinion on him? What should Rangers fans expect from him next season?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't think my opinion on him has changed very much. I don't think he was completely ready, but the Rangers certainly needed him. I've certainly seen him dominate at times, and that's the thing -- he at least shows you he CAN do it, which puts him way ahead of most -- he just needs to do it consistently.
Mike (Philly): Zack Britton top 100 material?
Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely.
Nater1177 (Philly ): Does Lars Anderson still project as a middle of the order bat or is he more of 2nd division talent now?
Kevin Goldstein: I wouldn't be horribly concerned with the performance is the scouting reports weren't so bad as well. I think he's way, way down.
jckmd04 (Nashville): How are Hewyard and Strawberry very different. Both tall, rangy left-handed outfielders with a strong batting eye and plus power.
Kevin Goldstein: When Straw was just six months older than Heyward, he had 34 home runs, 45 stolen bases, 100 walks and a 1000+ OPS at Double-A.
JH (Berkeley): Craig Italiano seemed to take off in a major way when San Diego shifted him to the bullpen. Do you see him as a closer candidate?
Kevin Goldstein: If he can stay healthy, he's at least got some set-up man possibilities.
George (Charlotte): Regarding Avila, I guess what I'm asking if not whether he'll start, but whether he'll be a solid to very good major league catcher.
Kevin Goldstein: I think that's exactly what he'll be.
Bo (Aberdeen, MD): Matt Wieters has started to look um, not awkward the past couple of weeks. Smooth, even, both at the plate and behind it. And more in control. Please tell me I'm right.
Kevin Goldstein: You are correct, sir!
The Straw (Queens): In what was a less-offensive era, no less. Do not comp me lightly!
Kevin Goldstein: Look, I didn't want to turn this into the rip Heyward chat, I think he's obviously one of, if not the best, positional prospect in the game, but he's not really like Strawberry. He might have a better career, as his makeup is off the charts, as opposed to well . . . you know. He's also a better PURE HITTER than Straw was. But his power is a tick below Straw's, he doesn't have the same plate discipline, and he's speed is average, while Daryl was plus-plus. They really are very different things.
ndubby (sfo): If your house was burning down and you could only save one of your video games, which would it be?
Kevin Goldstein: Probably my first pressing (black case) Xenogears. The rest is easily replaceable with the insurance money.
Dave (NJ): So what do you think about Pat Venditte after this year? Still a novelty or do we have a real prospect here?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he's maybe some kind of situational reliever at best, but still a longshot.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok folks, that's it for me. Thanks for all the great questions and we'll do it again soon.