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Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (4/17/18)

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):

    The entire starting rotation of the Delmarva low A team (Baumann, Bishop, Hanifee, Lowther, Dietz, and Hall with Fenter piggy backing) are top 30 Orioles prospects per the Handbook. Reliever Muckenhirn was a top 30 guy last year. Has there ever been a starting rotation with Handbook credentials like these?

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out and for all the questions. That's a very good rotation, but it takes me back to the Braves last year. Coming into the year, the high Class A Florida rotation of Touki Toussiant, Ricardo Sanchez, Drew Harrington, Luiz Gohara and Enderson Franco were all decent prospects (with Franco being the weak link), while Double-A Mississippi has Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, Patrick Weigel and Matt Withrow at the beginning of the season. Later last season, the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves rotation of Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb, Max Fried and Matt Wisler was also quite prospecty. If you'll let me go off on one of my tangents, in 1997 I covered a low Class A Macon Braves team where the entire rotation was filled with Top 15 calber prospects–Jason Marquis, Rob Bell, Bruce Chen, Jason Shiell and Jimmy Osting (plus late-season callup Luis Rivera). All six of those were future big leaguers with Chen and Marquis having the longest careers. A reliever on that team, Odalis Perez, also ended up being an MLB starter as well. For depth of a rotation, that was the best I've seen personally.

Rob (Chicafo):

    What are the chances Lucius Fox stays at MI? Is his bat going to be good enough to be a starter in MLB?

J.J. Cooper: His chances to stay up the middle in the dirt are quite good. They better be because Fox's value as a player is tied in large part to his defensive ability. Scouts have skepticism whether he'd hit enough to handle a slide down the defensive spectrum, as he's a low-power, speedy high-average hitter. You can definitely see a path to a big league starting job for Fox, but right now I'd feel more confident saying he'll have a big league role of some sort.

Alex (Los Angeles):

    Hey BA, What are the chances Josh Naylor (SD, AA) can make a realistic transition to the outfield? His path at first base is pretty well blocked with Hosmer/Myers but the dude is absolutely raking. I know he’s played a few games out in left for San Antonio but he strikes me as the type to have a sharp downward athletic trajectory.

J.J. Cooper: Realistically, it's tough to see Naylor as a left fielder. Players with his body type much more often play first base or DH. Going back a ways, Ryan Klesko is a player that comes to mind that was a much better fit at first base but played a lot of outfield (including with the Padres). But Klesko was a better OF fit than Naylor is right now, much less when we're talking about Naylor in his mid-to-late 20s. I think it's more likely Naylor ends up playing in 1B/DH in another org than him being a regular in the outfield in San Diego.

Grant (NYC):

    Suarez is injured, so what's the delay on Senzel's cup of coffee?

J.J. Cooper: We talked about this on today's Podcast/Facebook Live (thanks Baseballism!). At this point, the best reasons to not are that the Reds are already sunk. You have a manager who is playing for his job–3-13 on the heels of three straight sub-70 wins seasons–so the Reds haven't exactly been locked into rebuilding mode at the big league level. If the Reds are not going to play Alex Blandino ahead of Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington, than I guess it makes sense just to leave Senzel down long enough to let him get comfortable at 2B. I can't really explain why you would play Gosselin and Pennington ahead of Blandino on a rebuilding 3-13 team though. I'm not sure Blandino has a role on the next good Reds team, but I can confidently state that Gosselin and Pennington won't, so it makes sense to figure out what you have in Blandino.

Timothy (Lake Bluff):

    I've heard Griffin Canning's velo is up in the early going; if sustained, how does that change his outlook?

J.J. Cooper: Yes. Kyle Glaser for us wrote about that in Canning's pro debut. It makes him a better prospect, but he already was a good one. Some teams didn't like Canning's medical coming out of college while others (including the Angels) weren't worried about it. So the big thing for Canning is staying healthy, but he's pitching with front-of-the-rotation stuff right now.

Grigg The Goat (KY):

    - Soroka: 10.2 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 13 SO, 1.69 ERA - Allard: 9.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 8 SO, 3.72 ERA - Fried: 10.1 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 12 SO, 0.87 ERA - Wentz: 9 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1.00 ERA - Anderson: 8.2 IP, 3 H, 6 BB, 12 SO, 3.12 ERA - B.Wilson: 8.2 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 10 SO, 0 ER When does the attrition start?


J.J. Cooper: It's good to have options, especially when your big league team is a surprising 9-6. Fried and Soroka are the two to me that are knocking on the big league door. You did leave out Kyle Wright who has had a rough start to it in Double-A.

Ronald (St. Pete):

    The Rays drew a lot of criticism around baseball for essentially giving away Corey Dickerson. They did receive a propspect, Tristan Gray, in return. Is Gray a legitimate prospect or organization filler?

J.J. Cooper: Legit prospect. Scouts always liked the bat when he was at Rice, and he's settled in now that he's getting to focus defensively on one position. That said, I hated the idea of essentially swapping Corey Dickerson for C.J. Cron at the time, and so far, that still looks like a bad decision.

Warren (New London):

    Tyler Stephenson's season so far is reminding me of Devin Mesoraco's minor league breakout season in 2010 (not to be confused with his major league breakout season in 2014). Is that a reasonable comparison? Is there someone else you'd compare him to?

J.J. Cooper: Good thinking Warren, I was thinking the same thing earlier this week. If he can keep it up (it's still very early) that is a reasonable comparison. Catchers often take plenty of time to develop, especially if they have battled injuries and as you know Stephenson has battled a ton of them in his young pro career. As catchers, Mesoraco and Stephenson don't really compare much because Stephenson is a taller, longer-levered guy.

Andrew (Los Angeles):

    Any reports out of San Antonio about Cal Quantrill? The early numbers look good.

J.J. Cooper: If the Padres are a volcano of hot talent lava, Quantril is one of the more promising streams of magma. The changeup continues to be a plus pitch and his fastball is plus as well when he's locating it. Of course, there's a lot of lava to follow in the Padres system, so among the pitchers you also have to keep an eye on Gore and Baez and Morejon and eventually Espinoza and Patino and I could keep going and going.

Connor (Honolulu):

    Do you think that Cardinals promote O'Neill? Seems to be better than Bader.

J.J. Cooper: He has more power, but Bader is a better hitter and has more defensive versatility and defensive ability, so it's not as clear-cut as that question seems to imply. Even with a slow start, Bader is getting on-base and not striking out much while playing all three defensive positions. Bader is a better fit as a backup outfielder, so to me it makes more sense for O'Neill to stay in Triple-A until there is an opening for more consistent at-bats.

Pretty Lou (SF):

    Parker Dunshee upside- 4 or 5 starter? Or can he be more?

J.J. Cooper: These are the kind of question where in this role, it's hard not to come across as some dream-crushing curmudgeon. If I say that I still see Dunshee as a No. 6 starter most likely because he lacks plus stuff, it seems like I'm really bagging on him and hate him as a prospect. But in reality, I'm saying that because I like Dunshee and am very impressed by what he's done. Dunshee was a $25,000 senior sign, which means that at the time he was drafted, most teams viewed him as a likely org filler. He's already exceeded those expectations and with his dominating success so far, he will get chances to prove he can handle Double-A and tougher competition down the road.


Lyon Richardson Shows Off Revamped Fastball

The 2018 second-rounder has experienced a jump in fastball velocity since the 2019 season.

Robert (Orlando):

    Jhailyn Ortiz and Tristen Lutz had a rough start...cause for concern or just SSS?

J.J. Cooper: I have a lot of questions about guys off to rough starts, understandably. But for all these guys, at this point write it off as small sample size. At this time last year, Fernando Tatis Jr. was hitting .146/.222/.220 with 1 XBH and 15 strikeouts in 41 at-bats. He ended up having one of the best years of anyone in the minors. A week and a half means just a little bit more than nothing.

Zach (Florida):

    Which of the three Marlins hitting prospects in Jupiter (Miller, Mahan, Dunand) will have the best chance of being an above average contributor for the Marlins?

J.J. Cooper: Man that's tough because I like all three of them. Miller is the safest bet because of his defensive value. Dunand has the most upside I'd say, but I may pick Mahan because I'm a real believer in his bat, although he has to prove he can handle 2B consistently.

Matt (Humble):

    Have you seen anything interesting in Buies Creek this year?

J.J. Cooper: I remain intrigued by Abraham Toro. That's some impressive power and he has carry to the opposite field. Darwizon Hernandez is very impressive, but I'm guessing you're asking about Astros. Josh Norris chimes in that Corbin Martin was very impressive when he saw him. 3 pitches, very efficient, touched 96 mph and sat 93-95.

Josh (Brooklyn):

    Is Khalil Lee looking like a breakout candidate? Loving the BB/K ratio and the stolen base success.

J.J. Cooper: Yes. High upside outfielder who can run and hit for power. If his early start is a sign of a step forward (small sample size warning), he's a Top 100 prospect by the end of the year to me.

Juan Soto (Hagerstown, MD):

    Why am I still here? Am I good enough to leap straight to Harrisburg?

J.J. Cooper: Thanks to his injuries last year, Soto has barely more than 100 at-bats in low Class A. No reason to not let him keep this up til at least the start of May before bumping him up a level. And I see no reason to have him skip high Class A. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is as good a young hitter as we've seen in years, and he didn't skip high Class A.

Brian (Thornton, CO):

    What is up with Tatis Jr's slow start? When should we start to worry?

J.J. Cooper: Don't worry yet. See my answer above that cited Tatis' stats at this time last year. But beyond that, it makes sense that Tatis is off to a slow start. He missed more than a week of spring training because of strep throat, which also meant he lost some weight and strength. So he's working back into in-season timing while playing.

Frank (Chicago, IL):

    Is McKay being under-challenged at Bowling Green? Looks to me he's ready for the FSL.

J.J. Cooper: If he was playing just 1B or just pitching, than maybe, but McKay is trying to do something very unique as a two-way player, so taking it a little slower makes a lot of sense.

Harry (KC MO):

    I'm curious why Bo Bichette missed the list. Can you explain?

J.J. Cooper: Very solid first 10 days, but we had a lot of guys who had big first 10 days. Bichette will surely make the Hot Sheet multiple times this year, but he needed a little more average or power to crack the first Hot Sheet list.

J.P. (Springfield, IL):

    Once Acuna gets things going again, how quickly are the Braves likely to call him up?

J.J. Cooper: We talked about this on today's Podcast/FB Live as well. I think you could call him up now, but it looks like the Braves will wait til he has a hot few days with Gwinnett or when Preston Tucker cools off. I would still anticipate it will be sooner than later.

J.J. Cooper: We talked about this on today's Podcast/FB Live as well. I think you could call him up now, but it looks like the Braves will wait til he has a hot few days with Gwinnett or when Preston Tucker cools off. I would still anticipate it will be sooner than later.

joe (idaho):

    Can Albies maintan his .700 slugging percentage? I think so..

J.J. Cooper: No. Can he be a star? yes.

Jack (CA):

    Colton Welker has performed like an elite hitting prospect, but isn't recognized one. I know Lancaster is a silly hitting environment, but have people undersold just how good of a hitter he is?

J.J. Cooper: I believe he can really hit. How about this stat? Bo Bichette leads MILB active hitters (500 or more PAs) with a .370 career batting average (!!!). Colton Welker is second in the minors with a .347 career average.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone. I have to make some draft calls, but we appreciate all the questions.

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