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OnBaseMachine
01-20-2009, 02:52 AM
Q&A with Baseball America's J.J. Cooper

Baseball America's J.J. Cooper answered some questions about the Reds' minor league system on Monday. Yonder Alonso is rated as the team's top prospect.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Baseball America has put out its Top 10 Prospects for the Reds in the current issue and their Reds guy, J.J. Cooper was good enough to join us. Cooper is the magazine's managing editor and ranked the Reds system for this issue and the upcoming Baseball America 2009 Prospect Handbook for the fourth season. Cooper has Yonder Alonso as the top pick, followed by INF Todd Frazier, OF Drew Stubbs, SS Chris Valaika, OF Yorman Rodriguez, RHP Kyle Lotzkar, 3B Neftali Soto, 3B Juan Francisco, OF Juan Duran and C Devin Mesoraco. I talked with J.J. a little bit on Monday about the list and the Reds in general:

CTR: With the top four of last year's list ineligible, did this year's list take a little longer?
JJ: Not longer, but you're not going to have the same. I think there's a lot of depth in the Reds system right now, there's not as much high-end talent. They don't produce a Jay Bruce every year -- but nobody does. You don't produce a Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto or Joey Votto every year. The top-end of the system is not what it has been, but that's not surprising. We had the Reds three in the talent rankings last year. If you look at that, Rays, Red Sox, Reds -- none of the three will be in the top three this year. Look at the Red Sox, they had -- Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie. They promoted away guys who didn't qualify because they played and contributed last year. Same with the Rays. Evan Longoria doesn't qualify anymore. Reds the same way. Last year was the year the Reds got multiple rookies to contribute.

CTR: Had Homer Bailey been eligible, where do you think he'd wind up?

JJ: That's a fascinating question. I don't think he'd be No. 1. I think Alonso is No. 1. The thing to remember with Homer is that he'll pitch this season and turn 23. It's understandable (people are disappointed), he's been in the system for a long time. It seems like especially with high school, and power pitchers, a lot of times second organizations that have them really reap the benefits. It takes a lot time for them to develop. It seems like it takes a while to develop. With Homer, there are rumblings he's not as coachable and doesn't take instruction, if you look at what he looked like last year and in the past, his stuff wasn't as good. But, you don't want to give up on that. I think he'd still be pretty high. Alonso one, Frazier two -- (Bailey) was no. 2 last year -- he'd still be top five. There's still talent there.

CTR: I remember last year you saying you thought Homer had a higher ceiling, but Cueto was a better bet to be a solid contributor – has that changed or did last year confirm that for you?

JJ: Oh yeah. You saw with Cueto, it's funny I watched his first start -- which was as good as you'll ever see. Was Tom Browning was the last Red pitcher with a better start? I thought he may not ever be better than this ever -- and that's not a knock. He wasn't, but when it's all said and done that was a very solid rookie year, a lot of pitchers struggle a lot more than that. If you go in 2009, you have to say starting pitching is the strength of the team. When was the last time you can't say that? It's crazy to think that not only pitching, but young pitching is the strength, which works out well. They have more hitting talent in the minors than starting pitching. There's relief pitching. Ramon Ramirez, Matt Maloney, they're going to have a lot of depth in AAA, Jordan Smith isn't that far away.

CTR: What do you see for Jay Bruce in 2009?

JJ: The thing is, people have to remember. We were doing our rookie voting, there are some things not to like about his 2008, but there's still a lot to like. He showed power right now. The big thing for Jay Bruce in 2009 is can he make adjustments. There are very few scouts who think he won't. There's nothing in his makeup or his swing that makes people think he won't do that. He's always going to strike out some, he's got to understand more what pitchers are going to try to do. I expect him to have steady improvement, and when you look at last year if he gives you steady improvement, he's a solid of the middle hitter. He'd be a very good 5-hole hitter right now. The sky's still the limit.

CTR: You have Juan Francisco at eighth – have you seen his Winter Ball stats and do you think that'd move him up any if you redid your list today?

JJ: Probably not that much. winter ball there was no pitching down there. None. He dominated and a lot of other guys dominated. We just did a breakdown of guys down there. The runs per game there made the Cal League look like a pitcher's league and it's not. It's like the Arizona Fall League. All the pitching was worn out and there just weren't many pitchers down there. The one good thing you see is that he took walks, that's encouraging. He's never taken walks. That and weight are the only two things standing between him and greatness. I'll be much more interested in what he does at AA than in winter ball. Full season in AA is going to be big because if he gets it -- he's never going to walk 150 times a year – but he's going to AA and see if he can make adjustments. He's always hit for a decent average and power even with swing at everything close to the plate. He's young enough, that his power is as good as anyone's

CTR: One of the things I thought was interesting was the Projected 2012 lineup -- it didn't look all that different than what's around now.

JJ: Yeah. The thing with that is those lineups are the bane of our existence. If that's half of what the lineup is. We don't have salaries or free agency play a part, so, well, you look to see if there's someone in the minors to replace him and be better? What's fascinating for the Reds is what's going to happen is they have a lot of guys playing shortstop who may move to third base and third basemen who may move off third. Between Chris Valaika, Todd Frazier and Juan Francisco and then Yonder Alonso and Joey Votto, unless there are trades or people don't progress the Reds will have some interesting decisions. These guys are all hitting AA and AAA and you can only play one third baseman. Will that be Frazier, Francisco or Soto?

CTR: What position do Todd Frazier and Chris Valaika end up playing?

JJ: I think we're going to lucky here in Raleigh because that Carolina lineup is gonna be loaded. I think Valaika could be in AAA. You could see the rest of those guys in AA to start the year. Does Frazier play shortstop. Zach Cozar,t will he move up and be the shortstop?

CTR: It looks like your list is really, really young after the top four. Is that good or bad for the Reds?

JJ: Considering the guys they have, Alonso, Frazier, Stubbs are in the high minors. I'd say that's a normal mix. If you're trying to figure out the signs of a thin organization, it's always if you look at the Top 10 and six are from the last draft, it's probably a sign of a thin organization. With Duran and Rodriguez -- they're new, but they're also mega-million guys and very, very young, but the majority have been around. You have a couple draftees, the six. There is a spread there. If you don't have a couple of those guys in the top 10 you're extremely deep or you didn't bring a lot in. We're going to pay attention to guys in the Dominican and all that, so if there's a guy with elite talent, we're not going to wait 10 years to rank him.

CTR: What's the scoop on Devin Mesoraco?

JJ: That was not a great full-season debut, but at the same time a young catcher from Pennsylvania playing in A, I'm more inclined to give that a one-year pass. Catchers take longer to develop and the Midwest League is a brutal place to hit. He's still in the top 10 because I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But year two will be very interesting.

CTR: Can Yonder Alonso play anything but first?

JJ: There was talk early on, but I think they've very quickly felt he can hit, and he's not far from the majors, so why mess with him. Votto, I think, can play more than first.

CTR: What about Drew Stubbs?

JJ: If you can find me a scout that knows what will happen with Drew Stubbs, they're either a hell of a scout or don't know what they're talking about. It's hard to know. If last year was, and I've heard the theory, because he moved up and the pitchers are more around the plate and that helps, he could be something special. Or was he locked in at 200 at-bats? Defensively, I've heard one or two outside the organization that he's really good, not Devon White reincarnated. He's graceful and can make it look easy. And he's started to get on base. The thing about it is, the Reds aren't going to need him, ideally, to bat leadoff or third, if that's the case, he could be very productive. You look at 2011, 2012, and what they'd expect, he'd have to be the fifth, sixth best hitter. They'll have Bruce, Votto, Alonso and Phillips. They don't need him to be an offensive figure -- they just need him to be solid. That's good for him.

CTR: I know you don't want to give up too much of the other stuff, because people will want to buy the book and get into the top 30, but who are some other guys to watch?

JJ: If there's a guy not in the 10 who could help this year, Josh Roenicke, could make an impact this year. A guy who could climb the list is Jordan Smith.

CTR: The guy I've seen that I really like, reliever Zach Stewart

JJ: He's gonna move fast -- very fast. It'll be interesting to see he and Roenicke battling it out soon. I'll be very interested to see that.

CTR: Well, I appreciate the time J.J., just one more -- what prospects do you see making an impact on the big league club in 2009?

JJ: I think there are less opportunities there -- you look at that roster and it's a pretty set roster except the outfield. Ryan Hanigan is still a rookie. Roenicke. I'll be interested to see the fifth starter battle. The thing I think the Reds have this year, if Reds fans want to have hope for this year -- and that doesn't mean Tampa Bay Rays – but hope for this year from standpoint of it being better, look at what the fifth starters did last year. The thing they have is options -- if it's Homer Bailey, Ramon Ramirez, Matt Maloney -- and I'm forgetting Daryl Thompson – if they throw someone out there and it's not working out, whose the next guy at AAA? These are guys who shouldn't put up 7.90 ERAs for the season. They get just average from their fifth starter and they win 5-7 more games last season.

http://1530homer.com/cc-common/news/sections/sportsarticle.html?feed=275765&article=4875569

Great stuff. He sounds like he's pretty high on the Reds farm system.

DoogMinAmo
01-20-2009, 03:19 PM
I do not usually like sounding like I am on anyone's jock. But despite that threat, it is nice to get an interview that answers questions I would have regarding the minors. Kudos C.

Kingspoint
01-20-2009, 04:49 PM
So, Mesoraco's rating from BA has nothing to do with what he's accomplished as a pro, but everything to do with that he "happened" to be the REDS #1 pick from a year ago. I expected better than that from BA. I don't see why he should get a "pass". Seems like he was given a "pass" the year before, too. How many "passes" do you give a guy before you rate him where he should be rated.

The consensus here, from the bloggers that I think have a better grasp on things, is that Mesoraco was a 6-year project from the get-go. That's not a knock on the guy, but just the reality that he's not a Top-10 prospect of the REDS. A couple of years from now he will be, but even then he'll be 2 years away from contributing 300 AB's at the Major League level. At that time the REDS will be glad that they took him with the #1 pick. A Catcher like him has a long shelf life, will take a long time to develop, and should be rated accordingly this season out of the Top-10 prospects as he's a very slow developer.

dougdirt
01-20-2009, 05:19 PM
So, Mesoraco's rating from BA has nothing to do with what he's accomplished as a pro, but everything to do with that he "happened" to be the REDS #1 pick from a year ago. I expected better than that from BA. I don't see why he should get a "pass". Seems like he was given a "pass" the year before, too. How many "passes" do you give a guy before you rate him where he should be rated.

The consensus here, from the bloggers that I think have a better grasp on things, is that Mesoraco was a 6-year project from the get-go. That's not a knock on the guy, but just the reality that he's not a Top-10 prospect of the REDS. A couple of years from now he will be, but even then he'll be 2 years away from contributing 300 AB's at the Major League level. At that time the REDS will be glad that they took him with the #1 pick. A Catcher like him has a long shelf life, will take a long time to develop, and should be rated accordingly this season out of the Top-10 prospects as he's a very slow developer.
Thats not how BA does things. They rate guys on potential. They don't care if you are far from it or not. They have two guys under 18 rated in the top 9 who have so much further to go than Mesoraco its not funny. They just put a lot of emphasis into upside with their rankings. Even if they don't think Devin will be ready for 4 more years, but think he will be fine when he does get there, then he is going to be ranked on what they feel the final product is.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 08:42 AM
JJ: If there's a guy not in the 10 who could help this year, Josh Roenicke, could make an impact this year. A guy who could climb the list is Jordan Smith.

Interesting re: Smith. I wonder if they're looking at him as a reliever.

JayBruceFan
01-21-2009, 09:33 AM
Why would they be looking at him as a reliever?

He has done nothing but start in the minor leagues

Kc61
01-21-2009, 09:56 AM
Why would they be looking at him as a reliever?

He has done nothing but start in the minor leagues


Smith is not a big fave around here. He's having trouble even cracking the top forty in the RedsZone community prospects vote.

It's a big year for Smith and for Travis Wood who had similar seasons last year, great at High A, some troubles at AA. They need to show some progress at AA in '09. They are both still young (especially Wood) so there's time. Both are solid prospects who have to show that they can handle the hitters in the high minors.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 10:06 AM
Why would they be looking at him as a reliever?

He has done nothing but start in the minor leagues

He's only had a 1/2 year at AA, and he's never really dominated as a starter. So, if there's some in-house buzz about him moving quickly (I assume Cooper has an inside, or semi-inside, source), I think it's quite possible they're looking at accelerating him via a shift to a two-pitch repetoire that exploits his very good, very consistent GB rates. That's a bullpenner's repetoire. A lot of times guys trying to make it as starters just can't develop that third pitch. Not saying that's the case with Smith, but I have a hard time believing he's "close" as a starter.

*BaseClogger*
01-21-2009, 12:27 PM
I think I've read that Smith has a great slider. Maybe he is struggling to develop a third pitch, and can pick up the heat on his fastball out of the bullpen?

dougdirt
01-21-2009, 01:29 PM
I think I've read that Smith has a great slider. Maybe he is struggling to develop a third pitch, and can pick up the heat on his fastball out of the bullpen?

Could be the thinking. The Reds scouts really like what Smith brings to the table. I tend to agree with it, but I also see him as a reliever in the future which is why I ranked him where I ultimately did in my rankings.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 01:29 PM
I think I've read that Smith has a great slider. Maybe he is struggling to develop a third pitch, and can pick up the heat on his fastball out of the bullpen?

That's what I'm wondering. It's commonplace to hear that a converted starter can now "air it out" in shorter stints.

If true of Smith, he makes another RH relief prospect, among the many. They really should be able to fashion a decent bullpen for a few years.... Whether it happens is another matter.

fearofpopvol1
01-21-2009, 01:50 PM
Why would they be looking at him as a reliever?

He has done nothing but start in the minor leagues

Because pitchers with 1 or 2 very good pitchers who struggle as they climb the ladder tend to make good starters. Smith is a good example of someone who could be effective for an inning, but not 6-7 continuous ones.

Mario-Rijo
01-21-2009, 02:28 PM
Why would they be looking at him as a reliever?

He has done nothing but start in the minor leagues

Well guys have made note of some of the reasons but I would add this. A lot of guys when drafted/signed are ultimately viewed as relief pitchers but are starters for a season or more so they can be given the chance to polish up their current repertoire and all around game through more innings. And of course they are also given the chance to perhaps become a starter if they can find that other pitch, add more zip to their fastball etc. Sean Watson for instance was seemingly viewed and used this way.

New Fever
01-21-2009, 02:38 PM
From the Espn BA Jim Callis Chat:

Deywane Memphis: How would you rank the farm systems in the National League Central?

Jim Callis: (2:27 PM ET ) My ranking (not necessarily the BA consensus) put the Cardinals at No. 8, the Brewers at No. 11, the Pirates at No. 15, the Reds at No. 17, the Cubs at No. 27 and the Astros at No. 30.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 02:44 PM
From the Espn BA Jim Callis Chat:

Deywane Memphis: How would you rank the farm systems in the National League Central?

Jim Callis: (2:27 PM ET ) My ranking (not necessarily the BA consensus) put the Cardinals at No. 8, the Brewers at No. 11, the Pirates at No. 15, the Reds at No. 17, the Cubs at No. 27 and the Astros at No. 30.

I would take the Reds system over any of those. The Cardinals third best prospect is Chris Perez. The Reds have a comparable prospect in Zach Stewart who didn't even crack the Reds top ten.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 02:54 PM
John Sickels on Kyle Lotzkar:

Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Bats: L Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 200 DOB: October 24, 1989

Kyle Lotzkar of the Hill People was a supplemental first round pick in 2007 out of high school in British Columbia. He has an ideal pitcherís body, already throws 90-94 MPH and should gain more velocity in time. His curveball and changeup also show plus potential. Both are erratic right now, but if things develop properly Lotzkar will have three strong major league pitches. Note his excellent K/IP ratio so far as a pro. The two main issues here are command and health. He simply walks too many guys right now, and while that should improve in time, there is no guarantee that it will. Of greater concern, he was limited to just 10 starts by a balky elbow last year. Surgery was avoided, but heíll have to prove his durability. I am impressed with Lotzkarís long-term potential, but he needs refinement and injury risk could be high. If he stays healthy, I like his chances. I am going to go with an aggressive Grade B- on this one.

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2009/1/21/728940/yet-more-book-excerpts

dougdirt
01-21-2009, 02:58 PM
From the Espn BA Jim Callis Chat:

Deywane Memphis: How would you rank the farm systems in the National League Central?

Jim Callis: (2:27 PM ET ) My ranking (not necessarily the BA consensus) put the Cardinals at No. 8, the Brewers at No. 11, the Pirates at No. 15, the Reds at No. 17, the Cubs at No. 27 and the Astros at No. 30.

No way can I agree with that. The Pirates farm system has three players in it. Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutcheon and Jose Tabata. Seriously, our farm system is MUCH stronger than the one they have.

Simple weighting system by grades John Sickels gives out for each teams top 20.
A=10
A-=9
B+=8
B=7
B-=6
C+=5
C=4

That puts the Cardinals at #1 with 115, Brewers #2 with 112, Reds at #3 with 111 and the Pirates 4th with 104. Key things to note, Sickels ranks Duran and Rodriguez 20 and 21, so they got C's. BA gave them spots in the top 10.

The Pirates rating just can't be justified in my eyes. I also think the Cardinals are either too high or the Reds and Brewers are too low because I think the Crew and us both have slightly better farm systems than they do.

Mario-Rijo
01-21-2009, 02:59 PM
I would take the Reds system over any of those. The Cardinals third best prospect is Chris Perez. The Reds have a comparable prospect in Zach Stewart who didn't even crack the Reds top ten.

The Brewers system is arguably as good or better but like you I agree the rest aren't close.

dougdirt
01-21-2009, 03:03 PM
The Brewers system is arguably as good or better but like you I agree the rest aren't close.

The Cardinals like the Reds and Brewers do have a very deep system, even though I don't agree with their top end prospects being as top heavy as BA seems to think they are.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 03:12 PM
Ranking the Pirates ahead of the Reds is an absolute joke.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 03:16 PM
I rank Jim Callis below Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, and John Manuel. ;)

New Fever
01-21-2009, 03:24 PM
I rank Jim Callis below Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, and John Manuel. ;)

John Manuel would rank the Cubs before the Reds.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 03:29 PM
John Manuel would rank the Cubs before the Reds.

I thought Callis was the Cubs fan? Anyway, I like Callis but those rankings are awful, IMO.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 03:40 PM
Ben (Centerville, OH): Lightning Round: Who gets to the Majors first from the Reds AA team in Carolina this year?: Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso, Juan Francisco, or Chris Heisey

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:44 PM ET ) Todd Frazier.

http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/chatESPN?event_id=24671

New Fever
01-21-2009, 03:46 PM
Callis ranked the top 33 prospects in the NL Central for Derrick Gould the Cardinals minor league guy. The link isn't working right now for some reason, http://stltoday.com/.../ranking-prospects-across-the-nl-central-for-context . I remember the Reds placement on the list though:

8. Yonder Alonso
10. Todd Frazier
16. Drew Stubbs
19. Chris Valakia
20. Neftali Soto
30 Juan Francisco
31. Kyle Lotzkar

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 03:49 PM
Callis ranked the top 33 prospects in the NL Central for Derrick Gould the Cardinals minor league guy. The link isn't working right now for some reason, http://stltoday.com/.../ranking-prospects-across-the-nl-central-for-context . I remember the Reds placement on the list though:

8. Yonder Alonso
10. Todd Frazier
16. Drew Stubbs
19. Chris Valakia
20. Neftali Soto
30 Juan Francisco
31. Kyle Lotzkar

Soto 20th? That list is an embarrassment, IMO. I'm sure he's got Josh Vitters ahead of Soto.:rolleyes:

New Fever
01-21-2009, 03:55 PM
Soto 20th? That list is an embarrassment, IMO. I'm sure he's got Josh Vitters ahead of Soto.:rolleyes:

OBM, it's just not Callis though. On JJ. Cooper's list for BA he ranks Valakia ahead of Soto, Baseball Prospectus does as well and even John Sickels does on his Reds Top 20. I wonder if we like Soto here at Redszone better than the scouts do?

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 04:01 PM
OBM, it's just not Callis though. On JJ. Cooper's list for BA he ranks Valakia ahead of Soto, Baseball Prospectus does as well and even John Sickels does on his Reds Top 20. I wonder if we like Soto here at Redszone better than the scouts do?

No, Soto is underrated because he's a Reds prospect. In his ESPN chat Callis said that Vitters is a future All-Star, yet Soto gets no love.

Soto is six months older than Vitters:

Neftali Soto - minor league career:

.327/.360/.522 - .882 OPS in 437 AB

Josh Vitters - minor league career:

.290/.327/.435 - .762 OPS in 324 AB

If Soto was a Yankees, Red Sox, or Cubs prospect he would be a top 50 prospect.

cincyinco
01-21-2009, 04:03 PM
It wouldn't be the first time redszone liked a guy way more than the rest of the baseball world.

I don't mean to be disrespectful, and I like soto.

cincyinco
01-21-2009, 04:06 PM
Also its of note that callis is never really very high on the reds.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 04:08 PM
Soto reminds me of Cueto. Put up great numbers in the minors, had awesome talent, and was underrated because of the organization he played in.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 04:12 PM
Soto is six months older than Vitters:

Neftali Soto - minor league career:

.327/.360/.522 - .882 OPS in 437 AB

Josh Vitters - minor league career:

.290/.327/.435 - .762 OPS in 324 AB

Excellent comparison. I used to like comparing EdE and BA darling Andy Marte, both 3B and about the same age, as they climbed the minors. Marte was consistently near/at the top of his league and very high in the top 100, while EdE would crack a list here or there, but only near the bottom. Not sure if he ever got top 100 status.

Soto v Vitters is a great matchup.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 04:21 PM
Excellent comparison. I used to like comparing EdE and BA darling Andy Marte, both 3B and about the same age, as they climbed the minors. Marte was consistently near/at the top of his league and very high in the top 100, while EdE would crack a list here or there, but only near the bottom. Not sure if he ever got top 100 status.

Soto v Vitters is a great matchup.

Thank you so much for bringing that up. I drove myself crazy over the years wondering how Marte was so highly rated while EdE was overlooked.

Let's check out the rankings by Baseball America:

Andy Marte:

2003 - 40th ranked MLB
2004 - 11th ranked MLB
2005 - 9th ranked MLB
2006 - 14th ranked MLB

Edwin Encarnacion:

2005 - 56th ranked MLB

Edwin cracked the top 100 once, in 2005 at #56. Marte was never rated below 40 and peaked at #9. EdE and Marte were similar in age, statistics, and had similar skill sets yet Marte was routinely rated as an elite prospect while Edwin was continuously overlooked.

*BaseClogger*
01-21-2009, 04:32 PM
Thank you so much for bringing that up. I drove myself crazy over the years wondering how Marte was so highly rated while EdE was overlooked.

Let's check out the rankings by Baseball America:

Andy Marte:

2003 - 40th ranked MLB
2004 - 11th ranked MLB
2005 - 9th ranked MLB
2006 - 14th ranked MLB

Edwin Encarnacion:

2005 - 56th ranked MLB

Edwin cracked the top 100 once, in 2005 at #56. Marte was never rated below 40 and peaked at #9. EdE and Marte were similar in age, statistics, and had similar skill sets yet Marte was routinely rated as an elite prospect while Edwin was continuously overlooked.

Minor League Career
EE: .291/.352/.451
Andy Marte: .271.347/.476

Coming into 2006, Marte was the much better hitter. He was coming off of hitting .275/.372/.506 at age 21 in AAA. His minor league numbers would have been much better at that point in time too because he's been terrible since 2005 when he has been sent back to AAA. Plus, he's regarded as an excellent fielder while EE obviously has had his struggles.

Marte is one of those players I have a hard time understanding. He was terrorizing the minors at a very young age, hit the show, struggled, and since then has continued to struggle at AAA. How can you hit .275/.372/.506 as a 21 year-old at AAA and then struggle to OPS over .750 when you return at an older age? Did the opposing pitchers just "figure" him out? Is there something wrong with him? Normally you expect players to become more productive when they are older than their peers...

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 04:41 PM
Marte was a fine prospect but he wasn't that much better than Edwin. IIRC Marte was more physically advanced than EdE so his present power was better at the time. The difference between them wasn't large enough for one to be a top 15 prospect and the other not even in the top 100. JMO.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 04:56 PM
Coming into 2006, Marte was the much better hitter.

The numbers do not show that. EdE was a year older, but both were very young for their leagues.

2002 (both at low A)
(18) Marte -- .281/.336/.492
(19) EdE -- .282/.333/.458

2003 (both at high A)
(19) Marte -- .285/.375/.469
(20) EdE -- .321/.389/.484

2004 (both at AA)
(20) Marte -- .269/.364/.525
(21) EdE -- .281/.354/.443

2005 (both at AAA)
(21) Marte -- .275/.372/.506
(22) EdE -- .314/.388/.548

*BaseClogger*
01-21-2009, 04:58 PM
Marte was a fine prospect but he wasn't that much better than Edwin. IIRC Marte was more physically advanced than EdE so his present power was better at the time. The difference between them wasn't large enough for one to be a top 15 prospect and the other not even in the top 100. JMO.

Defense? When one guy is a very good fielder and another is a very bad fielder that can make a big difference...

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 05:01 PM
Defense? When one guy is a very good fielder and another is a very bad fielder that can make a big difference...

EdE was not known as a deficient fielder in the minors, In fact, they tried him at SS for awhile. He was known as athletic with a strong arm.

*BaseClogger*
01-21-2009, 05:02 PM
The numbers do not show that. EdE was a year older, but both were very young for their leagues.

2002 (both at low A)
(18) Marte -- .281/.336/.492
(19) EdE -- .282/.333/.458

2003 (both at high A)
(19) Marte -- .285/.375/.469
(20) EdE -- .321/.389/.484

2004 (both at AA)
(20) Marte -- .269/.364/.525
(21) EdE -- .281/.354/.443

2005 (both at AAA)
(21) Marte -- .275/.372/.506
(22) EdE -- .314/.388/.548

Marte was better in 2002, EE only had 215 ABs in A in 2003 before struggling at AA, Marte was far superior in 2004, and again with EE it was only 290 ABs in 2005.

With how bad his defense is, 2005 is the only year EE should have been in the Top 100 Prospects IMO...

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 05:08 PM
EdE was not known as a deficient fielder in the minors, In fact, they tried him at SS for awhile. He was known as athletic with a strong arm.

Exactly.

EdE/Marte were similar prospects. Edwin has turned out to be the better major leaguer to this point.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 05:10 PM
Marte was better in 2002, EE only had 215 ABs in A in 2003 before struggling at AA, Marte was far superior in 2004, and again with EE it was only 290 ABs in 2005.

Marte posted a slightly better SLG than EdE in 2002. Otherwise, a wash.

While both were in high A in 03, EDE was slightly better across the board. A half-season is a legit sample. EdE's struggles in AA are irrelevant.

In 04, Marte was better.

In 05, for the 1/2 season EdE was in AAA, EdE was better. 290 ABs is a legit sample.

Your contention was that prior to 06 Marte was "the much better hitter." It's just not true.

lollipopcurve
01-21-2009, 05:11 PM
EdE/Marte were similar prospects. Edwin has turned out to be the better major leaguer to this point.

And it hasn't been close.

New Fever
01-21-2009, 05:13 PM
EdE was not known as a deficient fielder in the minors, In fact, they tried him at SS for awhile. He was known as athletic with a strong arm.

Yep, this is what BA said about him, "Defensively he has a plus arm, quick hands and middle-infield actions."

New Fever
01-21-2009, 05:17 PM
Marte was better in 2002, EE only had 215 ABs in A in 2003 before struggling at AA, Marte was far superior in 2004, and again with EE it was only 290 ABs in 2005.

With how bad his defense is, 2005 is the only year EE should have been in the Top 100 Prospects IMO...

Edwin ranked in the Top 100 after his 2004 season. He didn't qualify after his 2005 season because he just missed the at-bats cutoff. He would have ranked in the top 30 after that season though.

dougdirt
01-21-2009, 05:32 PM
Soto 20th? That list is an embarrassment, IMO. I'm sure he's got Josh Vitters ahead of Soto.:rolleyes:

8 guys ahead of Alonso? Really? I wish I could see the entire list because I just can't imagine 8 guys being ahead of Alonso.

I will give them Rasmus, Alvarez and McCutcheon. After that I just don't see it, much less another 4 guys.

National League Central Top 15 Prospects

1. Colby Rasmus - CF - Cardinals
2. Pedro Alvarez - 1B - Pirates
3. Andrew McCutchen - CF - Pirates
4. Yonder Alonso - 1B - Reds
5. Mat Gamel - OF - Brewers
6. Brett Wallace - 3B - Cardinals
7. Neftali Soto - 3B - Reds
8. Josh Vitters - 3B - Cubs
9. Alcides Escobar - SS - Brewers
10. Drew Stubbs - CF - Reds
11. Jeremy Jeffress - RHSP - Brewers
12. Todd Frazier - 3B - Reds
13. Angel Salome - C - Brewers
14. Chris Perez - RHRP - Cardinals
15. Daryl Jones - CF - Cardinals

Thats what I have. Whats even more strange though is that Callis oversees all of the Team Top 10's and can make adjustments when he see's fit. He didn't have an issue ranking Yorman Rodriguez 5th ahead of Lotzkar and Soto, but now those guys are listed and Yorman isn't? Confusion is setting in.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 05:46 PM
8 guys ahead of Alonso? Really? I wish I could see the entire list because I just can't imagine 8 guys being ahead of Alonso.

I will give them Rasmus, Alvarez and McCutcheon. After that I just don't see it, much less another 4 guys.


Yep. That's just an awful list. Alonso should definitely be in the top five.

New Fever
01-21-2009, 05:50 PM
8 guys ahead of Alonso? Really? I wish I could see the entire list because I just can't imagine 8 guys being ahead of Alonso.

I will give them Rasmus, Alvarez and McCutcheon. After that I just don't see it, much less another 4 guys.

National League Central Top 15 Prospects

1. Colby Rasmus - CF - Cardinals
2. Pedro Alvarez - 1B - Pirates
3. Andrew McCutchen - CF - Pirates
4. Yonder Alonso - 1B - Reds
5. Mat Gamel - OF - Brewers
6. Brett Wallace - 3B - Cardinals
7. Neftali Soto - 3B - Reds
8. Josh Vitters - 3B - Cubs
9. Alcides Escobar - SS - Brewers
10. Drew Stubbs - CF - Reds
11. Jeremy Jeffress - RHSP - Brewers
12. Todd Frazier - 3B - Reds
13. Angel Salome - C - Brewers
14. Chris Perez - RHRP - Cardinals
15. Daryl Jones - CF - Cardinals

Thats what I have. Whats even more strange though is that Callis oversees all of the Team Top 10's and can make adjustments when he see's fit. He didn't have an issue ranking Yorman Rodriguez 5th ahead of Lotzkar and Soto, but now those guys are listed and Yorman isn't? Confusion is setting in.

I guess BA took the list down. I don't know the order for sure but I know the players. I believe this is very close to being the order. I don't konw if he had Andrew Cashner in the 20's instead of the place I put Taylor Green.
1. Colby Rasmus
2. Pedro Alvarez
3. Brett Wallace
4. Alcides Escobar
5. Andrew McCutchen
6. Josh Vitters
7. Matt Gamel
8. Yonder Alonso
9. Brett Lawrie
10. Todd Frazier
11. Jason Castro
12. Chris Perez
13. Jeff Sarmardjia
14. Jeremy Jeffress
15. Jose Tabata
16. Drew Stubbs
17. Brad Lincoln
18. Bryan Morris
19. Chris Valakia
20. Neftali Soto
21. Jess Todd
22. Angel Salome
23. Clayton Mortesen
24. Daryl Jones
25. Neil Walker
26. Bryan Anderson
27. Dae-Hun Rhee
28. Taylor Green
29. Bud Norris
30. Juan Francisco
31. Kyle Lotzkar

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 05:54 PM
I knew it! Vitters #6 and Soto all the way down at #20 despite Soto having similar (or better) tools and clearly outplaying Vitters to this point in their careers.

dougdirt
01-21-2009, 05:56 PM
I guess BA took the list down. I don't know the order for sure but I know the players. I believe this is very close to being the order. I don't konw if he had Andrew Cashner in the 20's instead of the place I put Taylor Green.
1. Colby Rasmus
2. Pedro Alvarez
3. Brett Wallace
4. Alcides Escobar
5. Andrew McCutchen
6. Josh Vitters
7. Matt Gamel
8. Yonder Alonso
9. Brett Lawrie
10. Todd Frazier
11. Jason Castro
12. Chris Perez
13. Jeff Sarmardjia
14. Jeremy Jeffress
15. Jose Tabata
16. Drew Stubbs
17. Brad Lincoln
18. Bryan Morris
19. Chris Valakia
20. Neftali Soto
21. Jess Todd
22. Angel Salome
23. Clayton Mortesen
24. Daryl Jones
25. Neil Walker
26. Bryan Anderson
27. Dae-Hun Rhee
28. Taylor Green
29. Bud Norris
30. Juan Francisco
31. Kyle Lotzkar

Seriously, my brain hurts right now trying to figure out how Clayton Mortensen is basically ranked as high as Neftali Soto, or how Brett Wallace who was drafted after Yonder Alonso ranks 5 spots ahead of him in just the NL Central. Or how a shortstop who projects to OPS about .775 (Escobar) ranks ahead of Alonso, even if he has good defense. Or how a reliever is basically rated the same as Todd Frazier (Perez). Or how Vitters is ranked that far ahead of Soto.

OnBaseMachine
01-21-2009, 06:03 PM
Clayton Mortensen turns 24 in April.

2008 stats:

139.2 IP, 146 H, 18 HR, 64 BB/105 K, 4.96 ERA

Mechanical issues, bad control/command dating back to college, and a two pitch pitcher. Why is he even in the top 33? Clayton Mortensen is Jordan Smith without control.

dougdirt
01-21-2009, 06:05 PM
I agree. Don't get me wrong, I actually like Mortensen.... but he isn't nearly as good as some of the guys he is ranked around.

BuckeyeRedleg
01-21-2009, 06:09 PM
or how Brett Wallace who was drafted after Yonder Alonso ranks 5 spots ahead of him in just the NL Central.

Laughable.

Kingspoint
01-21-2009, 07:03 PM
Thats not how BA does things. They rate guys on potential. They don't care if you are far from it or not. They have two guys under 18 rated in the top 9 who have so much further to go than Mesoraco its not funny. They just put a lot of emphasis into upside with their rankings. Even if they don't think Devin will be ready for 4 more years, but think he will be fine when he does get there, then he is going to be ranked on what they feel the final product is.

If that's the case that they're judging them as "their potential Major League career", then I agree with their assessment on Mesoraco.

Nasty_Boy
01-21-2009, 10:43 PM
I knew it! Vitters #6 and Soto all the way down at #20 despite Soto having similar (or better) tools and clearly outplaying Vitters to this point in their careers.

I'm sorry but this post cracks me up! I totally agree with you, but I get this image of you sitting at your computer saying "I swear if Baseball America ranks Vitters ahead of Soto, I'm gonna..."

It just struck me as funny.

New Fever
01-22-2009, 01:06 AM
That link is now working:

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/bird-land/bird-land/2009/01/ranking-prospects-across-the-nl-central-for-context/



Within his top 30 — and it should be stressed that these are his rankings, not the BA rankings that are the product of an editorial consensus — here are the team totals:

Cardinals … 7
Cincinnati … 6
Milwaukee … 6
Pittsburgh … 5
Cubs … 4
Houston … 2
The Cardinals edge both Cincinnati and Milwaukee for the most prospects on Callis’ list. But even that is misleading. While the Cardinals have two of the top three prospects, Milwaukee has the better high-end total. The Brewers claim three of Callis’ top 10. Cincinnati has five of the top 20 in Callis’ list. As further evidence of the kind of depth the Cardinals’ have in the system, they have four players ranked between 21 and 27.

“My Top 30 list for the NL Central shows how the Cardinals stand out compared to the rest of the division,” Calllis wrote in an email that accompanied his top 30. “They’ve got the best up-the-middle prospect in Colby Rasmus and two of the three best prospects in Rasmus and Brett Wallace. When I put this together, I was surprised how hitting-heavy the division is. Chris Perez is my top pitching prospect in the NL Central, and the Cardinals also led all clubs with seven prospects on my Top 30.”

Without further prelude, here is Callis’ NL Central Top 30 (with Nos. 31, 32 and 33 as lagniappe):

1. Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Pirates — Signing-bonus snafu delayed his debut, but Pirates are prepared to push their No. 1 pick (No. 2 overall) all the way to Class AA out o spring training.
2. Colby Rasmus, of, Cardinals
3. Brett Wallace, 3b, Cardinals
4. Alcides Escobar, ss, Brewers — Made MLB debut after hitting .328/.363/.434 in AA.
5. Andrew McCutchen, of, Pirates — Considered the second-best prospect in the International League behind Cincinnati rookie Jay Bruce, who exhausted his eligibility for this list. Plus runner who will hit for average.
6. Josh Vitters, 3b, Cubs — Drafted third overall in 2007, was top prospect in Northwest League. Prototypical third baseman gets first extended look at full-season baseball this summer.
7. Mat Gamel, 3b, Brewers
8. Yonder Alonso, 1b, Reds
9. Brett Lawrie, c/3b, Brewers — Became highest ever Canadian position player selected in the draft when Milwaukee took him 16th overall. He ranked ninth this year on The Toronto Sun’s annual list of most influential Canadians in baseball.
10. Todd Frazier, inf, Reds

11. Jason Castro, c, Astros — A polished player fresh from college, Castro was the top-rated prospect in the New York-Penn League and then hit .333/.438/.487 in Hawaii this winter.
12. Chris Perez, rhp, Cardinals
13. Jeff Samardzija, rhp, Cubs — Wide receiver. Notre Dame. Setup or starter. You know.
14. Jose Tabata, of, Pirates — Was the No. 3 prospect in the New York Yankees organization a year ago; acquired in Xavier Nady deal and took off after change-of-scenery with .348/.402/.562 line in 22 games with Pittsburgh’s Altoona affiliate.
15. Jeremy Jeffress, rhp, Brewers
16. Drew Stubbs, of, Reds — Worth repeating correctly: When I first wrote this I blended my stories, and I apologize for that. OK. Take 2: Stubbs was the first-round pick in 2006, and Jay Bruce was the player the Cardinals coveted in 2005. It was the interest in Bruce that sent the Cardinals on search that landed Rasmus. A year later, Stubbs comes along as another guy the Cardinals eyed as more polished outfielder prospect to add and the Reds took him, too. Got my stories straight. Apologize for the blending. Head’s swimming with prospect names today.
17. Brad Lincoln, rhp, Pirates
18. Andrew Cashner, rhp, Cubs
19. Chris Valaika, ss, Reds
20. Neftali Soto, 3b, Reds

21. Jess Todd, rhp, Cardinals
22. Angel Salome, c, Brewers — Added to the Brewers’ 40-man roster. Nicknamed “Pocket Pudge,” Salome was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He returned and hit .360/.415/.559 in 367 at-bats (98 games) at Class AA.
23. Neil Walker, 3b, Pirates
24. Daryl Jones, of, Cardinals
25. Bryan Anderson, c, Cardinals
26. Dae-Eun Rhee, rhp, Cubs — Signed out of Korea to a $525,000 bonus in July of 2007, Rhee allowed one run in his first three minor-league starts and then had elbow trouble. That led to Tommy John surgery and 2009 will be spent recovering. He’ll turn just 20 in March.
27. Clayton Mortensen, rhp, Cardinals
28. Bud Norris, rhp, Astros
29. Lorenzo Cain, of, Brewers
30. Juan Francisco, 3b, Reds — A product of Cincinnati’s efforts in Latin America, Francisco finished fourth in the Florida State League with 23 home runs in 2008. In 2007, he led the Midwest League in homers and he has 48 total in his past two seasons. Raw power compares well to recent Reds’ rookies. And then there are his 284 strikeouts in the past two seasons.

31. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp, Reds
32. Ross Seaton, rhp, Astros
33. Jason Motte, rhp, Cardinals

lollipopcurve
01-22-2009, 08:24 AM
Some classic Callis in the ranking of Cubs prospects Vitters (yet to log a year in a full season league) at 6 and Dae-Eun Rhee at 26. Rhee, 19, had 3 minor league appearances followed by TJ surgery and is out till 2010.

Reminds me of how a couple years ago he had the Cubs' system ranked middle of the pack based on headliners Felix Pie, Mark Pawelek (HS pitcher who has pretty much busted before reaching low A) and "depth." If not quite that egregious, his bias here is plain to see.

membengal
01-22-2009, 09:41 AM
From the Pittsburgh Post recently (Monday), on Alvarez:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09019/942792-63.stm


Alvarez, a third baseman who was the Pirates' first-round draft pick last June, reported to minicamp last week in Bradenton, Fla., overweight and not at his usual strength. That also was the case, though apparently to a greater degree, when he reported to the Florida Instructional League in late September for his first professional action.

Coonelly pointed, as have others in the organization, to what he described as Alvarez's lack of activity during the high-profile three-month contract dispute last summer between the team and Scott Boras, Alvarez's agent. Alvarez ended up with a four-year, major league contract that included a $6 million signing bonus.

"We were disappointed, when we finally got Pedro signed to a contract, in his physical condition at the time," Coonelly said. "It had been represented to us by his representative that he had been working extraordinarily hard while we were negotiating. Pedro came in and was not in good condition."

Perhaps Callis/BA might wait to see what guys look like in the spring before working on a ranking?

dougdirt
01-22-2009, 10:11 AM
From the Pittsburgh Post recently (Monday), on Alvarez:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09019/942792-63.stm



Perhaps Callis/BA might wait to see what guys look like in the spring before working on a ranking?

I don't think he should wait to see, he has enough information on the guys... I just question his judgment on the placement of these guys.

membengal
01-22-2009, 11:05 AM
Well, if Alvarez has "work ethic" issues, that will impact where he should be in rankings, no?

dougdirt
01-22-2009, 11:13 AM
Well, if Alvarez has "work ethic" issues, that will impact where he should be in rankings, no?

Not exactly.... because even with that, his skill is still at a certain point. With good work ethic it may be higher, but its still very high with his current situation. I think its a little early to suggest his work ethic is something or another right now though.

membengal
01-22-2009, 11:25 AM
Fair enough. I guess I come down more on the "what have they done" than the "what do we think they are going to do" side of prospect rankings. I have seen enough from Alonso between the end of last year and winter ball to feel comfortable that he is the Reds' best prospect.

But, with Alvarez, he hasn't played a minute of professional ball, and has now shown up twice out of shape. I don't place him on skills alone, at that point, at the top of any list...

krm1580
01-22-2009, 11:26 AM
Back in 2001 when the Baseball America came out their rankings the "top" farm system in all of baseball was the Cubs with 4 players in the top 40, not in the NL Central, but in all of baseball. Who were these future Hall of Famers you ask?

2. Corey Patterson, of, Cubs
17. Juan Cruz, rhp, Cubs
22. Hee Seop Choi, 1b, Cubs
37. Ben Christensen, rhp, Cubs

Down at the bottom of the farm system rankings at #26 were the lowly Cardinals with 1 measly player

42. Albert Pujols, 3b, Cardinals

The moral of this story of course is that you guys really need to relax in regard to where guys are ranked. These polls are just opinions and opinions, as my father used to say, are like a-holes, everybody has them and they generally stink.

If Josh Vitters turns into Corey Patterson and Neftali Soto turns into Albert Pujols, are you really going to care than once upon a time somebody thought Vitters was a better prospect>

Screwball
01-23-2009, 03:21 AM
If Josh Vitters turns into Corey Patterson and Neftali Soto turns into Albert Pujols, are you really going to care than once upon a time somebody thought Vitters was a better prospect>

If that's what happens then no, of course we won't care where they were ranked way back in Ought-9. But right now, in the middle of January, it gives us something to talk about. I know I for one generally learn a lot about not only our own prospects from these threads, but about other teams' prospects as well.

Not having this sort of discourse about an "expert's" opinion on the Reds' prospects would be a great disservice to the members of Redszone, IMO.