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Baseball America Prospect Chat

Chris D (Adams ma): Does Micheal Kopech have the secondary stuff to remain a starter or is his future as a short man?
John Manuel: Good way to start. Talked to a scout who saw him recently. 1) Our report of Kopech's 105 mph came from the charts being filed by the players who were keeping pitch charts, as JJ Cooper reported via manager Joe Oliver. Scouts who were there report that they didn't have Kopech past 100, that he sat in the 94-100 mph range. Still plenty of velocity but they threw some shade at our 105 report. 2) The slider definitely flashes plus. It's a fast arm and he has hand speed as well. Our reports are that he has to want to throw the changeup for it to be a quality pitch. He's got a ways to go in terms of third pitch and command to be a starter, but for now, the Red Sox will and should keep developing him as a starter. Ben (Toronto): After trading so many pitching prospects the last year and a half - it seems the Blue Jays have another wave of arms coming in Reid-Foley, Greene, Zeuch, Harris and Maese? With some international guys in lower levels as well. John Manuel: I think that's a fair assessment. Reid-Foley has taken a significant step forward as detailed in the Midseason Prospect Update. The organization loves Maese; big-time sink, good athlete, throwing more strikes and up to 94 regularly. Harris and Zeuch are potential nice values, don't forget Rios and Perdomo from the Futures Game, Lupe Chavez . . . the system has done a nice job of rebuilding its prospect depth on the pitching side. It's thin on position players but I do like Richard Urena and Anthony Alford despite the latter's poor season. Tyler (San Diego): Has any farm system ever improved as much and as quickly as the Padres have in the last six months? Once Ona signs and they swing a couple more deals before the deadline, are they a top 5 system? John Manuel: Preller was part of another organization that did this back in 2007, when the Rangers signed a bunch of draft picks, traded Mark Teixeira and had a big July 2 class. The players they brought in included 07 draftees such as Julio Borborn, Blake Beavan, Neil Ramirez, Tommy Hunter & Mitch Moreland; the Tex trade brought in Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Justin Saltalamacchia & Neftali Feliz; and the July 2 class included Martin Perez. That offseason the Rangers went from No. 28 to No. 4 in our Prospect Handbook org rankings. The Padres have added a lot of talent. We'll see how the draft class turns out though I wasn't blown away. I love Anderson Espinoza & like some of hte other pieces they have added, especially Adrian Morejon, even though the dude threw, I believe, 234 pitches in 3 days during the 15U championships two years ago. It still sounds like Morejon is a stud. Good stuff from the Padres who have a lot of talent evaluators that people in the industry think very highly of. Jason (Charlotte): John, Thanks for the chat ! If you had to pick a Braves pitcher who seems to be underrated, whom would you choose ? John Manuel: I kind of like Rob Whalen, he strikes guys out and gets groundballs. Wish he had a bit more command but he's pretty good for a dude who is probably toward the back of their top 30. Grant (Houston, TX): With the recent signing of Gurriel, where does this leave Alex Bregman, defensively? John Manuel: Obviously it depends on what team he plays for. He could be a left fielder for them, he could play third base and push Gurriel to first base, or maybe he's even such a stud that he plays short and pushes Correa to third base. I do see the point to the story, I believe that I saw from Ken Rosenthal, of someone getting moved to bring in a lefthanded bat for the Astros' lineup to have some balance, with AJ Reed, Colby Rasmus and Jason Castro the only regulars who bat lefthanded, with Reed far from establishes. If Bregman gets traded, I would hope it would be with a team that needs a shortstop. The kid wants to be a shortstop, and right now, I'm not putting anything past him. (BTW, why does every Cuban player's name change spelling when they come to the U.S.? My dad's last name just got dropped completely when he came to the U.S., or else this would be a prospect chat with John Framboulidis. Obviously this is a meant as a joke, though that actually was my family's name.) Jason (Charlotte): Max Fried seemed to be shaking the rust off before he went down a blister. What is your feeling on him ? Has the lost development time dimmed his prospect status. John Manuel: He pitched the other day, and it sounds like he's been quite good at his best this year. Chance to be a four-pitch lefty with feel for spin and a fastball up to 96 mph. The command is the issue, that's where the rust has been evident, but all the pieces are there, and they don't check ID's on the mound . . . Peter (Brooklyn): Are Desmond Lindsay hamstring injuries going to be a chronic thing? John Manuel: I just want to say how flattering it is to be asked such a question ... I hope you guys think I'm that smart! But I hate to disappoint you, I have no idea. In general and the real reason why I asked this question is, the adjustment to professional baseball has so many parts, and learning to condition your body and how to train to handle playing baseball every single day, that is not easy for everyone, and some players learn the hard way, by getting hurt. Now we'll see how Lindsay learns from it. Joey Gallo (Round Rock): At this point should I be hoping for a trade so I can get more Major League experience? I'm still scratching my head at my last callup, in which I was assigned to warm up the bench. John Manuel: I can say we in the office were very excited at the possibility of him getting traded to the Yankees, just to see him play in that silly stadium. Gallo could have hit home runs to right field there on one leg ... That said, this has been Gallo's least impressive season—no 1.000 OPS! What a slouch. He has struggled to adjust in his first pass through a league in the past, and he's done it again at Triple-A. I still like the Russ Branyan comp as a low end comparison and the Adam Dunn on the high end. Kelly (St. Cloud MN): Did the Twins demote Berrios too soon? I'd say he's ready to be a mainstay in Minneapolis, would you? John Manuel: I was a bit surprised but the Twins clearly are searching for something. It's a bit sad to see the organization flailing like it is right now because I have had a lot of respect for those guys for a long time. When the game got so much more velocity, it seems the Twins just weren't able to adjust and kind of lost their way, and they've had a long streak of players like Berrios not being quite ready for the big leagues when they were promoted. They used to get criticized all the time for being too slow with prospects, but now it seems like it's gone in the other direction, where some players have come up too soon, not ready, and Buxton and Berrios seem to stand out as having not been ready. Joshua Sborz (RC): Why do I get such little hype? I have fantastic stats in the #1 hitters league. Am I just too old for the Cal League? John Manuel: I think the main reason is there are other Dodgers prospects to focus on; maybe if his first name were "Yoshua" we'd hype him more. He's had a good year; it's not "fantastic." Fantastic would be 10 k per 9 or some such. I like Sborz, who has made some significant changes to his delivery since his hero turn at UVA. Real good slider. Real good fastball. Command and just being used to the changes in his delivery is more important than hype or being moved quicker. Impressed the Dodgers have stuck with starting him. Ron (Milwaukee, WI): I was very happy to see Lucas Erceg get promoted to Appleton. Between him and Gatewood, who will be the better defender at the hot corner? John Manuel: I have a bit more faith in Erceg defensively just because Gatewood is so tall. I can see Jacob as a right fielder, provided the bat comes along. I want to believe! But to be honest, I am not bullish on the bat. Ben (IL): How close was Chance Adams to making the NYY top ten? John Manuel: I didn't write the Yankees Top 10, but I know Josh Norris is excited about him, which is why he put Adams in the Rising section. Josh also was just in my office planning a trip to go see Adams, and his reports on him have been bullish. I like the 2 hits allowed in his last 16 IP, I'll take that. GPT (San Jose, CA): OF Steven Duggar made a big leap in the Giants ranking, does he project as a major league starter? And in CF, he rarely played there in college? John Manuel: As I wrote in the pre-draft issue of the magazine (story was posted in early June on the site), defense gets better in pro ball. Pro teams have coordinators, they have more time to focus on defense, etc. Duggar runs well enough to play center field; I like them trying to put him out there. I do think he can be a major league starter if he continues to control the strike zone. He might be what Gary Brown was supposed to be. Matt (NV): Dylan Cozens is a very odd player. I know that no comp is perfect, but would you say he is similar in any way to Adam Dunn? John Manuel: He is physically similar, though he's smaller and a better runner. He's tall like that. Physically, I really don't know who to comp him to; he's a big guy, almost towering. He's almost too tall for me to feel good about him hitting; he's always going to punch out a bunch, he's always going to have a long swing. He's also gotten very mixed reviews defensively, but they're all below-average to poor. Does he have the athleticism to pull it off? I have some healthy skepticism, but I'm impressed by the improvements he's made to this point. Raymond (New York): Hi John, thanks for the chat AJ Minter has come back quickly after TJ surgery in Mar 2015. Based on his success already at AA, could he be the Braves future closer ? he apparently has gotten back his velocity judging by his K rate. John Manuel: I think the Braves are relieving him now to bring him back and manage his innings in his return from surgery. He mostly relieved in college and got hurt when he was starting for A&M; I haven't heard the long-term plans for him with the Braves, but the fact he's made 4 starts as a collegian and pro makes me think he's a future reliever. Impressive arm and start to his career. ian (col): Ramiel Tapia seems to hit everywhere- what is holding him back from being a top prospect John Manuel: He is a top prospect, but as I believe we have written roughly 50 times, we're a little less enthused just because we are less sure about the impact and the profile. I'm starting to come around more; he may not have classic corner-profile power, and he's not a classic leadoff guy either ... 16-for-30 SBs. But he's a career .318 hitter. I will posit, Chance Sisco is a year younger, plays a tougher position (C vs. OF), is in the same league, very similar hitting numbers. Sisco walks more, less power to this point. I never get questions about Sisco but I get a Tapia question like this every chat. I'm not sure why Tapia captures everyone's fancy, and I know that it unfortunately has made me reactionary about him. I see him as a solid first-division regular, not as a future star. If that means I'm low on him, then I'm low on him. I prefer Sisco but we're still reporting the Eastern League and will talk to more scouts who have seen both hitters and compare them. Nicholas (Arizona): Did Josh Ockimey receive much consideration for the top 10? I know his stock is rising but a little surprised he didnt make it in. John Manuel: Yes, he was in Rising, which is a definite sign he was considered. The contact rate is fairly low, and while it's not the best stat, wouldn't you feel better about him if he weren't a career .247 hitter in low A and below? Nice OBP considering the average, but the low BA and high K rate are not a super combo. Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): Hi John, Is BA covering NDFA signings of over $100K? Hudson Belinsky recently wrote that T.J. Friedl would likely sign in the neighborhood of $1MM. How common is this? John Manuel: Very rare. We're poking around on Friedl and Hudson was the first to tell me about it, but that bonus is going to turn out to be too high. It may yet be a record for a non-drafted domestic free agent. We'll have a story on him soon when we can confirm everything on the record. FC (New York): With Bo Bichette's hot start, where would you rank him now in Blue Jays top 10? John Manuel: I have a lot of questions about these pro debuts, and I'm happy to see guys playing in mid-July as opposed to just starting in instructs as used to happen with the mid-August deadline. It's more fun this way for sure. But I'm trying hard to not over-react to a small sample size. I only really notice when (a) the reports are really negative from scouts or managers and coaches in those pro leagues in our League Top 20 prospect reporting, and (b) when the performance is extreme in one direction or another. Even then, I think we tend to over-react, so I'm waiting to see where Bichette will rank. I do expect him to be in their offseason Top 10, as he's got power, hitting ability and a good chance to stick in the infield. Joe R. (Newport News, VA): Before the season, BA was unimpressed with Eddy Julio Martinez. He hasn't performed all that well with South Bend, yet he's shot up the chart. What has changed? John Manuel: He was No. 28, so being in the Handbook means we were impressed with him. Now we have more data, more information. It's actually a pretty solid season for a guy in his first pro year, fairly age appropriate in the MWL, and learning a new language and new way to play. If I did the top 10 again, I might have put Dan Vogelbach at 10. It's not a huge difference and not a slam dunk, but there are these things called deadlines, you have to pick 10 by a certain day and time, and I picked Martinez. jackson (stl): is Luke weaver's increase in strikeouts due to an improved curveball or the cutter he added? John Manuel: Our reports are more fastball velocity, better location of said fastball and an added cutter. I like Luke, fun dude. Warren (New London): Is it too soon to have a prospect crush on Yankees 17 year old shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera? He hit .441/.487/.647 in 19 games in the DSL, and is .500/.526/.944 in 4 games since coming to the Gulf Coast League. John Manuel: He's off to a great start, small sample size caveats of course apply. If you're a BA subscriber, Ben Badler (of course) had a good report on Cabrera entering the year in his Yankees' international review coming into the year. ($) Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Why do a midseason prospect list update with so many qualifiers? Why not just stick with "are they prospect eligible at this time"? That makes a lot more sense to me than excluding draftees, international signings, and players still prospect eligible but in the big leagues. John Manuel: It's a trade deadline primer. That said, we probably should count some of the guys who are prospect-eligible but are in the majors. The rest of the qualifiers make sense; we are reporting this in early July and late June when not all the players have signed from the draft, the July 2 guys aren't all signed, etc. Those players aren't going to be traded in this month. But the last part, the guys who are in MLB not being on our lists, we probably should change that going forward. But it's focused on the trade deadline; that's why we did it now, earlier in July, rather than the end of the month. So that's why we have those caveats. Jerry R. (Colorado): If Carlos Gonzalez gets moved, is Jordan Patterson the next man up in the Rockies outfield? If so, what kind of career do you think he'll have? Player comp? John Manuel: I think Dahl is ahead of Patterson, and maybe Tapia too. That said, I like Patterson as a potential Charlie Blackmon type, maybe a chance to play CF as well, first-division regular peak but not a star. SmartyPantsJohn (North Dakota): What's your outlook on J.J. Schwarz? Impact catcher? Thanks! John Manuel: I'm not bullish on J.J. Schwarz. I hope he proves me wrong, but he's a college DH, basically. Maybe he can catch, but he's a catcher roughly 25-35 percent of the time for Florida. You think he'll maintain his bat jumping from catching 20-30 games a year to 80-100 in pro ball? He's not a great athlete, 20 runner ... all his value is in his bat. He has a chance to have a good bat, but he's not a lock, and he had a good not great sophomore season. I do not see him as a lock 2017 first-round pick, not to mention a threat to go in the first 10 picks. We'll see if I'm proved wrong. I like the story, the dad who pitched in the big leagues and coaches with the Marlins system, and the sister who played softball at UF on a high level. It's cool, and he's a good guy to root for. But he has a ways to go to be an "impact catcher." Matt (Virginia): The mid infield for the Atlanta Braves is seemingly overcrowded at the moment with talent. Where do you see Ozzie Albies playing in the future? What do you think his projection ceiling is? All Star? John Manuel: Albies is playing 2B at Double-A, next to Swanson, and those two are the Braves' infield of the future. If you're "worried" about Maitan, remember he's 16. Sano signed in '09 and sped to the majors by international prospect standards, and he got up in 2015. In other words, Maitan is 5-6 years away. Swanson and Albies will be up in 2017, if not September this year. So they are not overcrowded by any stretch, and if you want to be crowded somewhere, it's at shortstop. Those guys can move anywhere. Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Who do you think BA will list as the Reds top prospect at the year end lists: Garrett or Senzel? John Manuel: I prefer Senzel. Sergio Q (Tijuana, Mexico): If Austin Hedges still had prospect status where would he rate in the mid season top 100? John Manuel: Probably, I'm excited by his offensive progress this year, even if it is at El Paso. This also has to have set a record for most Padres questions ever, probably even for a Padres chat ... I kid Padres fans! I kid! bill (memphis): Just watched your video with Carson Kelly, and I'm excited to have him here in AAA. He's improved his contact but will we see the big raw power from high school return for him? John Manuel: The power returned last August; end of the long, hot FSL season and he hit 5 HR in his last 170 ABs playing in big parks in the last 3rd of a long season. The FSL slugging percentage for the league was .337 last year; he slugged .332 in a year when he hit just .219. I think the power is there and it's the hit tool, not the power, that was the problem. He's made progress but it's just more hitting the right pitch, being more patient and hunting his pitches more to unleash the power, plus no longer in the FSL. Gary (New York): If dealt to an American League team when can we expect Dan Voeglebach to start producing and what can he do with a full time role in 2017? Dan Vogelbach or Greg Bird for the next ten years? Pick one. John Manuel: Good question! If healthy, I think I'd still take Bird, but there is the past back issue. Vogelbach's defense still sounds like it's not good, but I don't have first-hand reports on Bird's shoulder injury this year and he's had long-term back concerns. Guys who get hurt tend to keep getting hurt, so I'll have to go Vogie. Tim (Baltimore): Where are you at with Dylan Bundy? The stuff is filthy, he is building stamina back up. Can he be a front line starter in the future? John Manuel: I would be cautiously optimistic. What a job by Showalter to bring him back and handle him well, and what a tremendous story for Bundy to work through his injuries, adjust and be an effective big leaguer. I root for players, and I'm rooting for him to be able to handle the load as a starter in the second half. Jeff (Chicago): Read your Cubs midseason prospect report and I'm curious as to why you think Oscar De La Cruz has more upside than Dylan Cease? Everyone that I read who follows the Cubs organization on a daily bases has Cease as the highest upside pitcher in the system. Both are interesting arms but I think Cease has better stuff and a make up that is off the charts. John Manuel: I asked people who have seen them and got de la Cruz from informed sources. That's how we roll! He's bigger, the ball comes out easy for both, he's got more feel for pitching than Cease, and he hasn't had surgery. It's close between those two guys, but I haven't seen de la Cruz; I've seen Cease and like him, just was texting with a scout the other day about how easily Cease throws mid-to-upper 90s. But Cease left a game just the other day with the trainer; it sounds minor but man, he's a little dude compared to de la Cruz. Tyler (Chicago): Byron Buxton is still very young, but how concerned should the Twins be? What should their expectations be for him in the future? John Manuel: I guarantee you they are concerned, and I'm concerned. He was rushed but he hasn't adjusted like I thought. I mean, what happened to his feel for hitting? It's like he didn't see a breaking ball in the minors, and I know he did. It's disappointing but I bet he's as disappointed as anybody. I just think we need to see some adjustments at the plate and the ability to lay off breaking balls and stop chasing. John Manuel:

Lyon Richardson Shows Off Revamped Fastball

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

I hope everyone had fun in the chat, I've got to run but enjoyed being in the chat room this week. Hope everyone enjoyed the Midseason Update, and we'll talk again soon. Don't forget to check out the BA Prospect Pad for more video from the Futures Game, we had fun with it.

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