It's Opening Day for the minor leagues, so check in for a dose of future shock with BP's Kevin Goldstein.
Kevin Goldstein: Hi everyone. It's minor league opening day, so I'm excited, but what's up with just one day game? Anyway, daily updates and all sorts of good stuff begins in earnest, so let's get this going.
Nick (Reno): From a hitters standpoint, does Carlos Santana have the bat to be a perennial top 5 hitting catcher in baseball or even top 3?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes; yes.
Noah Braun (my house): In 5 years, which Nationals pitcher has had the better career, Stephen Strasburg, or Drew Storen?
Kevin Goldstein: Strasburg. Is there really anyone who thinks differently?
Nick (Reno): What kind of upside do you think Sean Rodriguez has with the Rays?
Kevin Goldstein: I've always liked him, and always found him a bit under-rated. I think he's a solid every day player, maybe even a touch above average.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): How good is Wilson Ramos? If you were the Twins would you trade him, and when does he have the highest value? Does time in AAA enhance his value or just add risk that he gets injured again or gets exposed?
Kevin Goldstein: He's very good. Now, as to when to maximize his value on the trade market, that's a more complex question. Does time in AAA enhance his value? Some would even ask if a year in the big leagues as Mauer's backup would enhance his value. It's a tough call, but he's probably the most blocked good prospect in the minors.
braden23 (Madison WI): KG,
Do you see Peralta, Lawrie or LuCroy getting the call up from Hunstville this season?
Kevin Goldstein: I would say Lucroy has the best shot by a good margin. And it's Lucroy, that C isn't capitalized.
Aaron (YYZ): KG, any concerns about going up against the Apple iPhone OS 4 event?
Kevin Goldstein: My Droid got an OS update over the weekend, so no.
Jake (San Francisco): How significant was Smoak's performance in IBAF play? Do you weight those at bats the same as regular season AAA at bats?
Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely not. Many of those at-bats are against guys would would never get a sniff from pro baseball. It's good that he mashed certainly, but it's not the same as if he did it at AAA.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Thanks for the chat, Kevin. Do you see Wil Myers staying at catcher? Burlington (and the MWL) has been a difficult environment for young hitters, what do you expect from him this year?
Kevin Goldstein: First off, I'll be seeing Myers on Monday, and he'll be playing at Kane County, so it's a great shot to see him and Stassi in a matchup of two of the game's better young catchers. The reviews on Myers defensively are mixed, but the scout I talked to late last night thinks he'll be ok there in the end.
dianagramr (NYC): Jason Heyward seems to be so poised, mature and positive for a 20-year-old. How big a part does that play in his ranking in the top 101.
Kevin Goldstein: Always great to have you hear, and good seeing you at the NYC book signing. I don't think it plays a big role in his ranking (obviously, he's monster talented), but I do think it plays a big role in making one so confident that he can handle the big leagues (and more) at such a young age. Makeup really does matter.
Buster Posey (AAA): What am I doing down here??
Kevin Goldstein: As I wrote, I've given up on trying to figure out what the Giants are doing.
Sanchez101 (Santa Barbara): Logan White claimed in an interview that Chris Withrow's arm is better than Kershaw's - spring training hype or legit evaluation? (does White have a rep for inflating his players?)
Kevin Goldstein: Logan certainly likes his own players, but Withrow certainly has Kershaw's velocity, if not a tick more. What he doesn't have in Kershaw's breaking ball, nor his left-handedness.
Bob (Seattle): Zach Stewart - reliever or starter and when will he be ready?
Kevin Goldstein: I like him better out of the pen, but I'm not in the majority. It's a split opinion right now.
Sanchez101 (Santa Barbara, CA): What are people telling you about Dodgers speedster Trayvon Robinson? Will he be a quality hitter (.275/.345/.450) or more of a Xavier Paul? Over/under on him on 2011's Top 101?
Kevin Goldstein: If he can prove that last year was real and not a product of the Cal League, he'll be in the Top 101. He has far better overall tools than Paul, but the amount of swing-and-miss in his game is a definite issue.
Stephanie (DC): Is there a better set of minor league opening day starters than JHellickson, ATorres, MMoore, and AColome?
Kevin Goldstein: That's awfully good. Braves counter with Teheran, Vizcaino, Delgado, Minor and Lopez.
Rob (Alaska): Thanks for the chat. I'm interested in your take on the Dee Gordon assignment to AA. For someone so raw it feels a bit risky but presumably the team saw something that suggests he can handle it.
Kevin Goldstein: That one definitely caught my eye as well. Gordon spent nearly all this offseason in Arizona working on his strength and conditioning, and the results were impressive. That said, he is very raw and I do wonder if he'll get a bit exposed there. Of course, the Dodgers saw him over the last 90 days more than anyone, so they're in a better position to make that call than you or I.
Jerry (Jersey): What do you think Jesus Montero could do if called upon this season, be if for a Posada injury or the unthinkable eventuality of a Nick Johnson DL stint?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he'd hit. In fact, I have little doubt he'd hit. The bat is big league ready.
Paul (Vegas): Is Bryce Harper the second coming of Johnny Bench or do we just inflate the best prospects every year beyond reason?
Kevin Goldstein: The hype machine plays a role, but Harper is the real deal, and the best prospect in the draft. I would never make a Bench comp however, due to the fact that I'm not so sure he's a catcher in the end.
NM (NJ): Bigger breakout year - Jeurys Familia or Kyle Allen?
Kevin Goldstein: Familia.
Engel Beltre (Bakersfield, CA): My Blaze open the season against Lancaster tonight. Who has a better chance to convert tools to success, me or Jay Austin?
Kevin Goldstein: Very different players. Beltre is fast, but not as fast as Austin, yet he eclipses Austin in every other tool. So much of Beltre's development at this point is just up to Beltre -- there are effort questions here.
John C (NY): Eddie Kunz as a starter? Do you like the idea and is there any chance this works out?
Kevin Goldstein: I guess it's worth a shot. I'm not especially optimistic, however.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): News: the T-Rats in WI have been wintered out. Are you going to any games tonight in person?
Kevin Goldstein: Tonight no. I'll be monitoring all the action from here for a big __ Pack tomorrow for the readers. I have no idea what the number will be, we'll see where I run out of gas. I have many games to go to this month however.
tweedly (tx): other than smoak and scheppers, are there any other rangers prospects you think could have an impact this year?
Kevin Goldstein: Impact? Probably not. I still think a Martin Perez sighting in Texas as a teenager isn't completely out of the question.
Ryan Theriot (Chicago): Is this my last season as a starter?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.
jar75 (Pittsburgh): Hey Kevin, have you heard any updates on Casey Crosby's sore elbow?
Kevin Goldstein: It's reportedly just inflamation, but they are going to be very cautious.
scarlisle17 (Carrollton, TX): Who are some of the early favorites for Minor League Player of the Year?
Kevin Goldstein: Mike Stanton, Dustin Ackley, Christain Friedrich . . .
Rob (Alaska): Surprised to see Wilmer Flores repeating low A. Is this a change of philosophy for the Mets?
Kevin Goldstein: I wouldn't read too much into it. It's not like he dominated the level last year, and he'll still be among the youngest every day players there -- why rush things?
JayT (San Francicso): Is it ever a good idea to make a Bench comp? I mean, Bench was one of the three best players ever at his position.
What was the last prospect that you saw and thought that he wouold be a sure thing first ballot Hall of Famer?
Kevin Goldstein: A-Rod was the last one. Any comp to a player that good is silly.
mrenick (Little Rock, AR): What's the story behind walden's shift to the pen? Is his injury history longer than just last year's forearm issues? Otherwise it seems like it's a little premature to shove him into the pen. Love the chats and future shock columns...
Kevin Goldstein: Glad you enjoy them. I think you are looking at a lot of factors here. Injuries, mechanics, arsenal. All of those at least tilted to a relief role, so it makes sense.
Aaron (YYZ): Is there any prospect in baseball with a worse match of skills vs organization than Hank Conger as a good bat/questionable glove catcher on the Angels?
Kevin Goldstein: Excellent point of the day goes to . . . Aaron!
iorg34 (Iowa): First to pitch 200 MLB innings and the first to receive a Cy Young vote: Friedrich, Withrow, Simon Castro
Kevin Goldstein: Friedrich; Withrow.
KRS (Chicago): I keep reading that Dee Gordon is very "raw"- I find it a bit strange that the son of a major leaguer could have that little baseball experience. Did he play a different sport growing up? Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: He didn't start playing baseball until high school, he was more into hoops initially. He also didn't have a very close relationship with his father until his mom passed way and Tom Gordon assumed custody.
Frank (Pit): What are the chances Bryce Harper is available at the #2 pick this year? Any change from a few weeks ago when you said better than 50-50?
Kevin Goldstein: Nope. Better than 50-50. I'll have more detail on this next week.
HankScorpio (KC): I know you addressed this briefly in your article from yesterday, but what's up with the Royals sending Montgomery back to Wilmington? What's the benefit of sending him back to that league and park again after last year? Shouldn't they be challenging him?
Kevin Goldstein: It's defendable. He only made nine starts there last year, he's only 20 years old. I bet he's in Double-A by the second half.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Can Robert Stock stay behind the plate? I'm hoping to go to QC home opener Sunday with a battery of Shelby Miller-Stock. As a Cardinal fan, how excited should I be that this will be our battery in 3-4 years?
Kevin Goldstein: I certainly think Stock can stay behind the plate. Most of the questions revolve more around the bat. It's way too early to call him the St. Louis catcher of the future or anything. Miller on the other hand, if he stays healthy, he's the real deal.
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Is Scott Baker a good comp for Jeremy Hellickon?
Kevin Goldstein: I think Hellickson is going to be better than that.
Nick (MO): What's happened with you and Stock? You go all crazy on the guy last summer, blowing him up and all that... then he ranks 9th on a bad top 11 and gets no breakout love in your odds to be the next #1 in the org article.
Kevin Goldstein: Him getting into a Top 11 is blowing up based on the general feeling on him coming into pro ball. But I think we've all learned lessons about short-season leagues the hard way.
Just learned that Malcolm McLaren died. I'm am now very very sad.
Aman Reaka (bkmhoxx) (KC): I am hearing a lot of good buzz about Robinson Lopez with the Braves. What have you been hearing?
Kevin Goldstein: Hey Twitter buddy! Nothing but good things. Stash this name away folks, he's a bit buried in a Low-A Rome rotation headlined by Teheran and Vizcaino, but he's a really good young arm with breakout potential.
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Does once highly-touted prospect Felix Pie breakout if given enough playing time? His second half of last year and spring training of this year seem to be promising.
Kevin Goldstein: Big, big fan.
EricJ (SF): Any chance Jason Heyward goes Delmon Young on us?
Kevin Goldstein: No.
Dave (Denver): What would you say is the best-case, yet still reasonable, timeline for Jason Kipnis?
Kevin Goldstein: late 2012?
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Does Ryan Kalish ever become a starter in the Boston organization?
Kevin Goldstein: Tough one. I think he and Reddick are both big leaguers, but being good enough to play in Boston every day . . . that's a much higher bar to get over.
Jon (NYC): How long will the Astros let Towles struggle before bringing up Jason Castro?
Is this a service time issue, or do the Astros actually think Towles might figure it out this year or that Castro needs more time in the minors?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, there's a lot of assumptions here that we can't answer here. Are we sure Towles will stink? Are we sure Castro will hit at Triple-A? Castro is definitely the future, and if the scenario ends up as you described, Castro won't be in the minors for very long.
rsambrook (Vancouver BC): Will we see Inoa in Vancouver this summer?
Kevin Goldstein: To be determined. How he does this spring will determine which short-season team he ends up with.
Steve (Clearwater, FL): Which minor league assignment surprised you the most? Dee Gordon to AA? How do you think he'll fare there?
Kevin Goldstein: This was my most surprising high assignment, Aaron Hicks at Low-A was the surprising low one, with him staying at Low-A Beloit. Obviously, Leake in the big leagues enters the picture if we include the majors.
jedjethro (to the moon ralph): I was shocked recently to see Rice's record. Is Rendon still on track to be a high pick in 2011? Also, what's Ranaudo's injury status at LSU and his draft prospects for this summer?
Kevin Goldstein: Rendon is on track to be in the No. 1 overall argument this year. It's been a down year for Rice maybe, but he's holding up his end of the bargain for sure. The scouting reports are glowing, and if you like power and patience, he's your guy, as in 97 at-bats, he has 11 home runs and 39 walks. Ranaudo is back on the mound, as has plenty of time to re-claim his status.
biglou115 (AR): You mentioned Leake in the bigs as a suprise, did you think it would go to Wood or Chapman? If he flounders and or another starter breaks down do the Reds' call up Chapman or stay patient with him and take Wood to the show?
Kevin Goldstein: I think you'll see Wood, or at least hope you will. I think they should be cautious with Chapman.
David Vines (NYC): Can the Cardinals muster up enough talent in their farm system to acquire Heath Bell around the deadline? It looks like their bullpen might really need some help this year.
Kevin Goldstein: It's the worst system in baseball, so . . . no.
MJ (Edmonton): What can you tell me about Mike McCoy, Blue Jays infielder? Late blooming prospect or just organizational filler?
Kevin Goldstein: When you are in your ninth minor league season with your fourth organization, the answer is obvious.
EricJ (SF): Will Anthony Hewitt ever become anything besides Tools McGee?
Kevin Goldstein: There's certainly a chance, because of the tools, but the chances are slight.
Bill (Toronto): How do you rank Justin Jackson, Tyler Pastornicky, Gustavo Pierre and Hechevarria?
Kevin Goldstein: Hechevarria, Pierre, big gap, Jackson, Pastornicky. Pierre is a great sleeper in a system desperate for one.
spf (ill.): the chicago media is gaga over Tyler Colvin, mostly because he's not Milton Bradley. What is his upside? What do you think about his prospects?
Kevin Goldstein: Remember back in the day when Todd Hollandsworth got hot and that certain subsection of Cubs folks (you know the type) got all worked up and wanted him to play more and then when he did, it wasn't so good? It's like that. Colvin is going to have a big league career, but he'll have for more time as a bench outfielder than a starter.
Brendan (Chicago): I understand that players are graded on an 80-20 scale. That said, can you name some players and some skills that would break that scale? For example, Would Bengie Molina's speed score a, like, 5?
Kevin Goldstein: It's referred to as the 20-80 scale, and you can't break the scale dammit! You have 20 hitting ability, for example.
ChuckR (Addison, IL): Any compelling reasons to head to Geneva to see Kane County play this summer? I mean, aside from the pork chop sandwich and the fact that they have a better beer selection than either the Cubs or Sox?
Kevin Goldstein: There are always compelling reasons! Max Stassi is a huge reason, local product Ian Krol could be a good arm, and while guys like Dixon, House and Richard all have their share of holes, it's also probably the most athletic outfielder in franchise history.
Jason (St. Louis): Breakout season for Rasmus?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.
EricJ (SF): Do you think Bumgarner or the Giants are hiding an injury?
Kevin Goldstein: Obviously, there are concerns because of the velo drop. That said, the term hiding indicates some level of malice, and I don't think that's the case here. I'm not saying he's NOT hurt, but it he was and it was known, they'd be addressing it, not having him pitch.
chris (bklyn, ny): kevin, give us an update of your GMR life. how's FF working for you? have you tried Resonance of Fate yet? inquiring minds wanna know!
Kevin Goldstein: I finished Final Fantasy 13 a couple of weeks ago. I know it's a controversial game, but I really liked it, and I look forward to playing it more down the road and doing the quests in Gran Pulse. After beating it, I started up Yakuza 3, which is easily my favorite game of the year so far. It's not for everyone, but I'm a huge fan of the series. I haven't played RoF yet, nor picked it up. Normandin has it, and while he's barely started, he called it "promosing."
larry (chicago): Prognosis for Dayan Viciedo?
Kevin Goldstein: Now that he's a first baseman, he really needs to start hitting. I'm not overly optimistic.
mikemcduffe (ottawa): Did Lars Anderson and Eric Hosmer show any cause for optimism this spring training? Signs that they're figuring things out?
Kevin Goldstein: I actually got some nice reviews on both of them for what it's worth. It's way to early to totally give up on either.
Nick (Reno): Was is surprising Tyson Ross or Jenrry Mejia made their team's rosters?
Kevin Goldstein: Mejia didn't shock me, but Ross certainly did, and he pitched very well last night.
hisjazziness (Harrisburg): How many starts will Strasburg get with the Senators? I need to make sure to get over to City Island to see him before he graduates.
Kevin Goldstein: I'll set the over/under at six. Sorry about the delay there. Had a crash.
w friend (columbus): Similar to Kane County question, who beyond Santana gives me a reason to walk one block to see the Clippers this summer?
Kevin Goldstein: Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Rondon and others await your visit.
Bob (Seattle): Harper comp - Carlos Delgado? Or is he better?
Kevin Goldstein: It's not perfect, but I don't hate it.
Flozell (Boston, MA): How does Madison Younginer project?
Kevin Goldstein: He could be a monster. There's no question about the arm -- he'll flash mid-90s heat and a very real breaking ball, but to call him raw doesn't really do it justice. High upside, high risk to the extreme.
Andrew (Chicago ): The right side of the Cardinals' bullpen is brutal...can any of Sanchez/Salas/Samuel contribute this year?
Kevin Goldstein: I could see Sanchez getting there at some point. I'm not sure he's going to help a ton this year though. Jason Motte sure can throw those upper 90s fastballs up and straight as an arrow, can't he?
tweedly (tx): Similar to the past two requests, who should I be excited to see for the Roughriders other than Martin Perez and Scheppers?
Kevin Goldstein: Not a stacked roster by any means. Kasey Kiker is still worth a look of course, but that's going to be a weak, weak lineup.
Dave (rome): Randall Delgado...legit? upside?
Kevin Goldstein: Very, VERY legit. Really only a notch below Teheran and Vizcaino.
Craig B. (Quincy, MA): Is this a make or break year for Matt Antonelli?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.
hisjazziness (Harrisburg): What do the plans seem to be for guys like Von Rosenburg, Dodson, Cain (when healthy), etc. in the Bucs system?
Kevin Goldstein: Short-season this year, they're going to take it slow.
Sea Bass (Outside Providence): Please tell me this is the year that Travis Snider starts banking some of the potential he showed in the minors. Granted it's only 3 games, but this season is looking a lot like 2009.
Kevin Goldstein: This is the year.
tommybones (brooklyn): Please tell me Jennings is a full-timer in the bigs by the ASB.
Kevin Goldstein: I can't do that. Too many other dependencies.
dianagramr (NYC): True or false: Brett Gardner will be watching Carl Crawford patrol LF in Yankee Stadium next year.
Kevin Goldstein: It's certainly a believable scenario.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Could the top tier of Omaha's bullpen (Rosa, Wood, Hayes) be transplanted to Kansas City and immediately improve the wretched wreck of terrible pitching behind Soria?
Kevin Goldstein: Probably not, but I'd rank their ability to help in that order. Disco Hayes is a cool dude and all, but he's not that good.
tommybones (brooklyn): Watching Daniel Bard this past week, I saw not only a consistent 97-99 fastball, but a knee-buckling curve and an 89mph change, which he threw for strikes. Can you tell us how much better he is now, then when he was a prospect? And this may be a dumb question, but I'll ask it anyway... If I described the arsenal above, without naming the pitcher, one could think I was referring to Strasburg. What makes Strasburg the best pitching prospect in decades, while Bard is someone whose ceiling is at best a closer? Where do they differ? Command? Control?
Kevin Goldstein: We've already seen Bard struggle with his command at times, he certainly did in game one with the Yankees. His stuff is just outstanding, absolutely closer worthy, but he's a reliever, because of the delivery, and because of the command issues, and you like the breaking ball more than I do. The first guy I thought of with your nameless pitcher was actually Verlander. Strasburg has twice the command and control of Bard and is a starter. Huge difference, and I like Bard a ton.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok, folks. I need to cut this off at nearly two hours, but thanks for all the great questions, and stay tuned tomorrow for random thoughts from Opening Day.