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Chat: Jason Cole

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday September 11, 2013 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jason Cole.


Jason gives you the prospect scoop.

Jason Cole: Let's talk some baseball, shall we?

John (Oakland): What do you think of Danny Salazar's future as a SP?

Jason Cole: I think he's a starter, first of all. He's short but well built with a repeatable delivery to enable a strong command profile. It's obviously an elite fastball, and his little split-change may be close to elite as well. It's an interesting situation because, while his slider has flashed plus in the past, he hasn't seemed to show a ton of confidence in it this season. I think he's a starter regardless, but he'll need the breaking ball to come back to have any shot at being an elite SP.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Jason, How does Rodon rate compared to previous college pitchers picked early like Cole, Price, Gausman, Appel and Gray? How would you rank them?

Jason Cole: Hmm...I would probably rank those five just like you did, although for me 1-2 are slightly above the 3-5. Rodon has a chance to be right there with those guys and has the polish to jump to the major leagues like Gausman did (so more quickly than Cole).

Dan (Fasano): How do the futures of Gyorko and Rendon compare? Tks!

Jason Cole: I like both and think both are solid everyday guys. Gyorko in particular has had a very nice rookie season, even though he's been one of the most streaky players I've ever seen. Despite the streaks, I don't think a lot of people realize that Gyorko has popped 25 doubles and 17 HRs this season. But I'll take Rendon over the long haul. Maybe there's a bit more power there for Gyorko, but I'm a huge fan of Rendon's approach and hit tool.

Cal Guy (Cali): Hi Jason, Walker and Bradley usually run neck and neck in rankings. If you could only choose one for their career, who would it be and why?

Jason Cole: And it'd be pretty neck and neck for me as well. I'll go with Bradley because I'm just a little more confident in his delivery and command profile enabling him to reach his ceiling. That's not to say that I lack confidence in Walker – I just have more questions about it with him than I do with Bradley.

Mark (Charlotte ): Was the Hickory team for the Rangers the most star studded prospect team in recent memlryr

Jason Cole: Give me the 2010 Cedar Rapids Kernels. Mike Trout, Pat Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Johnny Hellweg, Garrett Richards, Ariel Pena, Fabio Martinez, Jean Segura, Randal Grichuk. Man, the Angles traded almost every single one of those guys away. And you wonder why their farm system is barren right now.

Daniel (Evanston, IL): Hey Jason, talked to Reds surgeon Tim Kremchek who told me its best for pitchers to start throwing at age 7. How do scouts look at say, a converted outfielder? Is he a fresh arm, or does he have more risk of injury?

Jason Cole: Hell yes he's got more risk for injury. I talked with Rangers rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock about this last season, and he told me, "At some point, every conversion guy is going to have a setback. Some are minor (quit throwing and rehab for a few weeks), and some are major (Tommy John surgery), but every guy has a setback." On one hand it is a fresh arm, but when you make the conversion and start throwing off a mound, start throwing sliders and curveballs, etc., you're starting to put strain and stress on muscles and ligaments that have never really been used like that before.

The Wolf (Noggin): Can Grayson Garvin turn into a #4 for the Rays? And is Mikie Mahtook anything more than a reserve outfielder?

Jason Cole: Think Garvin is headed to the Fall League, right? I'll see him there and have more for you. I don't have any reports on Garvin from this year, but my reports from last year were average fastball with pedestrian secondary stuff. As far as Mahtook: reserve outfielder is what I'd mostly heard coming into this season, and I think this year is kind of reinforcing that.

Dale (Florida): Let's say in 5 years a current Cubs pitching prospect is an ace. Which prospect would least surprise you?

Jason Cole: I hate to disappoint you, but I don't think there's an answer to that because I don't think there's really an arm in the system with more than no. 3 starter potential. There are some good arms here and there, and they've improved by picking up C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm, but I don't see anyone with much of a chance to be a no. 1 or 2 starter. Those are rare and they don't tend to come out of nowhere, and that's what would have to happen for the Cubs to get one from a guy in their system at present.

Jay (Madison): Does Hunter Harvey crack the top 100 prospects despite his limited pro career? Given Bundy's recent TJ surgery, does Harvey move ahead of him on the O's prospect list?

Jason Cole: We haven't discussed the top 100 internally at BP yet, but there's a good chance of that. Your second question: I'd at least still go Bundy. I know people like to knock TJ surgery guys down on the rankings (and we've been guilty of doing it as well), but the recovery rate is so good these days that I think they can get penalized too much (rankings-wise). I'll still go Bundy.

Art (San Diego): Any hitting prospects of note for the Padres who isn't named Hedges or Liriano?

Jason Cole: Hunter Renfroe. The group of hitters down in the AZL this year was very strong. The Padres don't have a lot of potential impact offensive talent in their system, but that AZL group of Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, Peterson, Jose Urena, etc. was solid. I'm iffy on a couple of those guys but really liked Franchy Cordero.

Dave from Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh): What can't Andrew McCutchen do? He's revitalized a franchise, improved his defense, baserunning, and is striking out 5% less than last year, all for $4.5M this year.

Jason Cole: He can do everything and I love him.

MattWinks (Madison): Are we merely waiting for Carlos Tocci to put on muscle or are there a ton of other concerns?

Jason Cole: It's a little more than just that. The muscle is the biggest thing. Does he and can he get stronger? The game itself is pretty mature – the approach at the plate, his defense in the outfield. But I do wonder what type of upside we're looking at here. Is it a role 5 ceiling if it all pans out? Hits for an okay average, plays a good D, steals some bases, and shows little power. It's a potential big-league profile if it all pans out but it's not a crazy high ceiling. I did like him overall though and, as I wrote a couple weeks ago, I'm not freaking out about his poor numbers this season.

gphelp77 (Chicago): Have you seen Hunter Harvey pitch this season? What are your thoughts on him?

Jason Cole: I have not.

Jeff (Bay Area): Is Matt Wisler now a top 100 (or even top 50) guy? Has he surpassed Max Fried?

Jason Cole: Top 100 for sure. He was on the border of our mid-season top 50 rankings at BP this year. So I imagine he'll be in that discussion again this offseason. As far as passing Fried, I think Fried may have a tick higher ceiling but there's an argument to be made about Wisler's polish and likelihood of becoming a no. 3 starter.

Chris King (St. Petersburg): Have you ever seen Deven Marrero this season? If yes, can you talk your thoughts on him? Is he just a defense-only shortshop?

Jason Cole: I have and wasn't crazy about the bat at all. Good approach, but lacking punch and I questioned the mechanics. I'd put a plus on the glove and he's a relatively instinctual player overall, but the bat is very likely going to keep him from being an ideal every day guy. Maybe more of a utility or up-and-down type.

James Harden (Houston): Thanks for the chat, Jason. Who has higher upside between Martin Perez and Henry Owens?

Jason Cole: Martin Perez, without a doubt, in my eyes. Better command profile with better stuff.

AnthopoJays (TX): What do you see as the floors of Texas League guys Folty, Wisler, and Butler?

Jason Cole: Floors? I like this question. A little bit different. Folty: insanely hard-throwing erratic middle reliever who lacks secondary. Wisler: late-inning relief with plus FB/SL mix to eat up righties, decent command. Butler: late-inning relief.

Mellens (Boston): Your thoughts on Blake Swihart? Do you put role 6 on him? Or higher?

Jason Cole: I'd probably go 55 but could see the argument for role 6 absolutely. I mean, if he becomes an average or solid-average defensive catcher with at least a 6 arm – and he hits .280 with 20 doubles and 10 home runs on top of that – that's an above average everyday catcher. I think he could do that.

Sd (Queens): Will the mets ever win another world series? Thanks

Jason Cole: I don't think my crystal ball is quite that good. I will say that I'm rooting like hell for a Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard 1-2-3 rotation punch in a couple years. Let's hope Harvey comes back 100% and the other two stay healthy, because how fun would that be?

Gamer (NYC): Video games don't do a good job of assigning ratings to players, any thoughts of joining Sony to make them more realistic?

Jason Cole: As an MLB The Show player, I'd love to do some consulting if they'd pay me some money!

BobcatBaseball (Athens, OH): Most annoying non-prospect everyone keeps asking you questions about is?

Jason Cole: Ha! I don't get many questions about straight NP's but I do get a lot of questions about fringe guys. Having covered the Rangers system the last few years (and I preface this by saying he's a great guy with a great story and works his ass off), I got way too many questions about Joey Butler. He's the type who doesn't project to have much of an MLB future but puts up big numbers in Triple-A. Those guys often lead to the questions.

Liam (Dallas): You had a good look at Folty in the Texas league this year. Is he potentially a #2/#3 type starter in the bigs, or is he a starter at all in the bigs?

Jason Cole: The first thing is that he's going to have every chance possible to start with the Astros because there aren't many (or any) veterans blocking his path right now. I think he's got no. 3 starter potential – not quite front-line potential because I don't see the command or secondary stuff quite getting there. I think he most likely ends up as a closer, but given the fact that the Astros can afford the time to let him develop as a SP if they wish, he could end up refining the secondaries and command enough to be a fireballing mid-rotation guy.

AnthopoJays (TX): Have you seen any difference in Folty's mechanics from last season that might contribute to his uptick in velocity? Or does it appear mostly due to physical maturation?

Jason Cole: I hereby deem this chat #FoltyChat. I'd never seen Foltynewicz prior to this season. He signed with the University of Texas out of high school, though, and I do know that Longhorns pitching coach Skip Johnson predicted that he would eventually throw 100 mph out of high school. So I'd say the potential for elite velocity has always been there.

jharrison3 (Illinois): Are you as excited for the AFL as Parks is?

Jason Cole: Absolutely. Instructs comes first though (I get there on September 23), and I may be even more excited for instructs.

Indian Fan (Cleveland): How quickly do you see Clint Frazier making it to the show? Any idea why Cleveland chose not to have him play in AFL? Once he makes it is he more of a 275/20/20 guy or a potential 260/30/10?

Jason Cole: Whoa now, you might want to tap the brakes there a bit. Has a high school draft pick ever played in the AFL after his debut summer? I like Frazier a lot and he was probably the best prospect I saw in the AZL, but complex league ball is a long way from Double-A, let alone the major leagues. Frazier was very impressive and played well, but also had a lot of whiff. No reason to rush him. I think he could get to the show quicker than most high school guys but I don't anticipate the Indians fast-tracking him; in other words I don't think he sees Double-A next season.

Scott7015 (Houston): Enjoyed your insight at the Houston event earlier this year. Was Jorge Alfaro's year a disappointment or a marginal step? Have opinions of him improved or decreased this season?

Jason Cole: Thanks! Slight step forward for me, especially in terms of all-around maturity and on-field presence. I think the opinions of him have stayed about steady. Something definitely seemed to click after his injury this season; he just looked like a more confident player. The passed balls were an issue but I thought his catching took a slight step forward. The next step is going to be ironing out the consistency and learning to focus all the time behind the plate, instead of having the occasional lapses that led to the passed balls and spurts of poor defense behind the dish.

BobcatBaseball (Athens, OH): Matt Shoemaker ended up leading the PCL in K's with Salt Lake. Is he just a guy or is he a GUY?

Jason Cole: If he had serious big-league potential, it's probably safe to say the Angels would have called him up at some point this season.

Ethan Spalding (Madison, Wi): Is there anyone in the White Sox' system (including September call-ups) that have a somewhat-conceivable shot at being above-average regulars?

Jason Cole: Courtney Hawkins obviously had a disappointing season but still has potential. Erik Johnson and Semien have a chance to be role 5 guys, which isn't crazy exciting or above average but still solid. I'm looking forward to checking out Tim Anderson at instructs in a couple weeks. I've heard good things there.

Chad (OKC): Does Miguel Almonte project as a #2 or #3 SP? When is he likely to get a shot at the Royals rotation?

Jason Cole: #3 with absolute upside of a #2 is probably safe. When I saw him early early this year, I'd probably have put a role 6 on him. Don't forget that he was in complex league ball last season and actually started out in the DSL, so it's a little soon to start thinking seriously about when he'll make an impact in Kansas City. He was in Low-A this year, will likely go to High-A next year with a chance to get some playing time at Double-A. Maybe late 2015? He's got some polish and could always accelerate that a bit, though I don't see him getting there in 2014.

Rick (Houston): Current Astros #5 catcher Cody Clark is 0-24 to start his ML career, the Astros had 17 hits and he didn't get one of them! Don't you feel bad for the kid?

Jason Cole: I do, but hey, career minor leaguer who's getting a chance to live the big-league life of chartered jets and five-star hotels. I'd rather be 0-for-24 in the big leagues than on a bus between Corpus Christi and Tulsa!

Alex (Houston): Brad Peacock has been much better since his recall, as a starter, but his stuff just gives off a closer vibe to me. Where should he end up?

Jason Cole: I think he's got a chance to stick as a back-end starter with good stuff thanks to that slider. The knucke-curve he's got can miss bats, but I think it works better as a second breaking ball. That hard slider he's shown more of recently really plays better off his fastball and gives him a slightly easier-to-command breaker on top of that. For me, that's been one of the primary keys to his recent success.

Mike (Lancaster): Did Gerrit Cole turn a corner against TEX? He finally seemed to use his slider as a wipeout put-away pitch and looked like a dominant ace for most of the game. Thoughts going forward?

Jason Cole: It certainly looks like he's learning how to use the knockout stuff to its full potential, doesn't it? I watched on TV and also talked to a scout that was there behind home plate. He called it "8 velocity with an 8 slider" and said the Rangers' hitters didn't have a chance. We all know he throws strikes, and he was able to locate his fastball to both sides of the plate at will. Getting ahead with the fastball and chasing strikeouts with his slider and curve. There's no-doubt ace potential if he continues to progress like he is. I've been on the Cole bandwagon for awhile (along with Jason Parks), so I'm glad to see the development and hoping it continues.

Da Boss (Bossland): Since all my workers are distracted from working by your chat today, who will now be the top Rays prospect given the graduation of Wil Myers, Chris Archer, and injuries to Taylor Guerreri and Hak-Ju Lee?

Jason Cole: Good question. As you mentioned, graduations and injuries have killed them at the top. Of course, that's a good thing with the graduations, as Myers and Archer have played a key role (along with other guys like Torres) in the Rays contending this season. It might still be Lee. Jesse Hahn is up there if they can keep him healthy. He's not going to be no. 1 in their system this offseason, but Ryne Stanek was a great value pick with upside, I thought, and he's absolutely one to watch.

Justin (Chicago, IL): Joey Gallo - thoughts on his 2013 season and does his outlook appear better or worse going forward?

Jason Cole: About the same I think. I saw that Hickory club often in spring training but just one game during the regular season (July), and both Gallo and Alfaro were injured at that time. The reports I got on Gallo's defense at third base were a little better, though there are obviously still questions about him sticking there long term. He did about what you'd expect offensively. Overall I think it's just about the same going into next season, which isn't bad.

Robert (California): What do you as Jose Rondon's ceiling?

Jason Cole: Rondon finished slow but still had a .293/.359/.399 slash in his age 19 season at Orem. Certainly not bad. Polished, instinctual player with bat speed and good defensive skills. Fringe runner but intelligent on the base paths. He's a fun one to watch. It's probably a role 5 ceiling so nothing spectacular, but I do like him a lot. The all-around polish and instincts for a shortstop his age are well above average.

Hightower (Texas): Chances any of Texas's J2 class this year play Stateside in 2014? Have you witnessed Diplan yourself? When is his arrival?

Jason Cole: I haven't seen any of them yet but imagine the high-priced ones are likely to be at instructs later this month, so I should be able to put an eye to them then. I'll be able to answer your question more accurately after my visit to instructs, but I think it's always somewhat likely that the high priced guys will start out in the AZL. Not always true – sometimes it's DSL and in the rare cases of Martin Perez, Rougned Odor, and Jurickson Profar it was Spokane – but it's generally AZL.

jharrison3 (Illinois): How does Hedges compare to Yadi defensively? Who has the better pop time?

Jason Cole: Yadi is the king. Yadi has the better pop times, especially in terms of usable ones. Hedges still has a tendency to rush things a bit, letting go of the ball and firing it to the base before his feet are fully set, causing throws to sail on him. Sometimes 1.68 isn't needed when 1.75 or 1.80 will get the job done. I don't think that's a worry going forward and it's a pretty damn good problem to have at his age. Hedges is a future 7 glove for me though.

Hank (Rochester): Do you have the Vimeo plus account or just the regular one?

Jason Cole: Plus. If any of you haven't seen my Vimeo page before, check it out: https://vimeo.com/user3214266/videos

Tons of prospect videos going back a few years (I upgraded to a much better camera prior to spring training 2012). Sometimes I like going back and looking at the older videos, like Michael Choice hitting a double off Hoby Milner in college: https://vimeo.com/11097416

Matt (Chicago): I know the standard answer on Mike Olt is that he got hit in the head and simply had a bad season. What do you think is really going on? Still profile as an everyday 3B?

Jason Cole: Well, I discovered this when I went on the radio in Chicago at the trade deadline – the narrative I heard being given was that Olt got hit on the head and that led to his slow start this season. But that's not true. The vision issues he had were legitimate (read here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21288) and the cure was legitimate. After that, I think it became a mental thing. Olt got stuck in a hole early in the season and didn't really ever get right again mentally. With the Cubs not calling him up in September and not sending him to the Fall League, I think that's the right decision. I'd let him go home, clear his mind, and come back with a clean slate in 2014. That's probably the biggest thing for him. I'm still not all that worried. Perhaps he won't be the role 6 player he looked like in 2012, but I do think he's at least a role 5 (average everyday) third baseman with a good glove and power. Even if Olt doesn't turn out, you have to like the haul of Grimm, C.J. Edwards, and Neil Ramirez.

Brad (Chicago): Not really a prospect any more, but what kind of improvement, if any, do you expect from Anthony Rizzo? Does he have another gear or two?

Jason Cole: I don't think he'll be competing for any batting titles or even showing a plus hit tool, but I think he's better than the .220-.230 we've seen this season. So I do think there's another gear. Maybe it's a fringe-to-average hit tool with on-base skills and plus power at the end of the day.

Bob (Seattle): What would Pittsburgh do with their young catching prospects in 2014? It seems like Reese Mcguire, Wyatt Matthisen, and Jin-De Jhang would all slot into the low A affiliate, but that would likely cause playing time and development issues.

Jason Cole: Yeah, it'll be interesting to see how they handle that. I will say that, if there's a position that it's actually good to have multiple prospects at in the minor leagues, it's catcher. That's because it's such a physically demanding position and young guys typically aren't catching 120-plus games per season anyway. Definitely likely that all three head to West Virginia next season, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they handle that. It's easy to juggle two catching prospects at the lower levels but gets a little more difficult with three.

Doug (San Antonio): Leonel Campos. Am I wrong for thinking he will be a high-leverage, late inning guy for the Padres in the next two years?

Jason Cole: He's really jumped on to the radar this season and the velocity keeps improving. I saw him work 95-97 mph recently in San Antonio with a good slider. I like the arm and it's a definite big-league reliever. I do think the delivery is a little stiff and think command may hold him back. Having said that, this was his first real season on the mound in pro ball so you can't rule out improvement. Crazy numbers and good stuff though.

Marcus (Greenville): Do you think Jackie Bradley will hit at a level above a guy like Denard Span, or is that a fair comparison?

Jason Cole: Similar average, probably a little more on-base skill, and more power. Not quite the same type of player, but I think Bradley will be a little better overall.

Brew Crew (MIL): What are your thoughts on Devin Williams?

Jason Cole: I'm writing up AZL scouting notes soon, and Devin Williams will be featured in that piece. I'll give you a tease: of the arms I saw in the AZL (and I saw most of the high draft picks), he was probably my favorite.

Scott7015 (Houston): Has Chi Chi Rodriguez shown something since the draft that wasnt expected? It seems like he's more advanced and has a chance to be a little better than expected?

Jason Cole: It was almost a tale of two summers for Gonzalez. When he showed up in Spokane, he looked a little fatigued and was slow getting back into it, working 90-92 with generally underwhelming stuff. Now that's not exactly a disappointment given the college workload, but it did look like perhaps we wouldn't see the 'real' Gonzalez until 2014. But late in Spokane and once he got to Myrtle Beach, he started pumping mid-90s with sink, run, and cut. He can really manipulate the fastball. The secondaries are okay, from the reports I've gotten, but not knockout. We should see him in Double-A at least some point next season and he's got no. 3 starter potential. Looking forward to seeing him at instructs as well.

MonkeyEpoxy (Amarillo): Seen any of Chi-Chi Gonzalez? At the end of the season, he was apparently 94-96 with secs. Should I be excited?

Jason Cole: Just answered it in the question above, but yeah, he was 94-96 with big life (able to sink it, run it, cut it) according to Zach Mortimer, and I had that backed up by a couple scouts in other late-season starts.

Tim (NYC): Has the rapid ascension of Harper, machado, and trout ruined fans thinking about player development

Jason Cole: Ha! I think, for the most part, fans have always wanted to accelerate prospects than typically happens. More than anything, I think it's created too much of a "is this prospect the next Machado?" "is he the next Trout?" conversation.

Growth (Baltimore): What are your expectations for Gausman next year? Is he another rushed or mishandled prospect of the O's who are good at just that?

Jason Cole: Maybe we don't see Gausman at his full potential next year, but I think he'll be better. There's certainly an argument to be made that the Orioles brought him up too quickly, however from all accounts Gausman is a huge makeup guy and strong mentally, so I don't think it'll hurt him much going forward. I could be wrong but that's my perception.

Bill (San Diego): Medica. What's the deal? Pads must have some expectations to bring him up before the TL Championship series. Can he hit enough to play 1B in the bigs?

Jason Cole: I believe Medica is Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason. While he's not a big prospect, the injury to Yonder Alonso created some room, so why not see what he can do? Medica is limited to 1B defensively and doesn't have a ton of upside, but he's got some pop and has a track record of crushing left-handed pitching in the minors. So I think it's worthwhile to at least see if there's some Nate Freiman-style platoon potential in the bat. Doesn't profile as an everyday guy for me but has an outside shot to be a role player.

Paul (Miami): Speaking of Ryne Stanek, is he pitching or has TB shut him down ?

Jason Cole: Didn't pitch this summer.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Jason. Just wanted to get your thoughts on two DBacks players, Stryker Trahan and Matt Davidson. What do you see as their respective floors/ceilings? Will Davidson be ready to take over 3b next year?

Jason Cole: No problem! I'm a believer in Trahan's bat. I think he's got a hit tool with a good eye and some raw power. His catching is the biggest question. I only got a one-game look of him behind the plate this season so can't speak much to how it developed, but I think the bat has a chance to play regardless. Ideally you'd think the DBacks would like Davidson to take over at 3B next year. I'm sure they'll be some competition in spring training but, like with Skaggs in the rotation this year, he's the guy I'm sure they'll want to win it.

Philip (SD): What do you think of tyson Ross's second half emergence? His velocity is up and weirdly his k rate has gone way up as a starter rather than a reliever.

Jason Cole: Ross has always shown the stuff to start or even potentially close. The velocity ticking up a notch has no-doubt been a factor, but the slider has also improved and the command is better. He's had a past riddled with injury issues and the delivery is far from ideal in terms of potential durability, but I think he's going to be a successful starting pitcher – if he stays healthy.

Chad (OKC): What prospect are you most looking forward to seeing in Instructs?

Jason Cole: Oh wow. Well...I would like to try and finally get a look at Luiz Gohara in game action. I was supposed to see him vs. Yohander Mendez in extended spring, but as luck would have it, Gohara got food poisoning or something and was a late scratch. I want to see more of the Giants top picks (Arroyo/Jones). The Rangers' July 2 haul. I thought the DBacks draft guys this year were all really intriguing so them as well. Can I just say "everything"?

Les (LA): Who gets fired? Scoisia or DiPoto and how long would they be unemployed?

Jason Cole: I'm not 100% intimately familiar with the Angels situation, but from the outside looking in, it seems that a lot of the pressure to sign the high-priced players and make the trades has come from ownership. It's no secret that they haven't been well run – just look back to my answer about the 2010 Cedar Rapids team earlier in this chat. They've amassed plenty of talent in the system but have dealt much of it away, and now the recent signings have left them without top draft picks. I don't think Scioscia is the issue there, and I question whether Dipoto is a big issue too. Either way it's an organization that has put itself in an interesting hole, and I'm looking to see what they can at least try to do to right the ship over the next couple years.

Zack (Boston): Matt Olson: .225/.326/.435 with 23 HRs as a 19 year old in the Midwest League. Step forward or back?

Jason Cole: I'd call it a bit of a step back because, when I saw him in the AZL last summer, I thought there was a more advanced feel to hit with decent power. The reports I've heard on how his body developed this year weren't great. He and Renato Nunez both took a slight step back this year with Daniel Robertson impressing and flying slightly under the radar.

Jake H (Kansas City): What have you heard about Greg Bird for the Yankees? 1st baseman have to hit and his #'s sure are good in Low A.

Jason Cole: No doubt. Always beware of the 1B prospect because you better mash to be a legitimate one. But as far as 1B prospects go, Bird is a pretty good one. Good swing and approach with some raw power. Some scouts really believe and some scouts think he's just another "eh" first base prospect.

andygamer (Boston): I have been looking for year end assessments of Raul Mondesi and haven't seen much given the hype at the year start. Wanna bite?

Jason Cole: It was a good season and about what you'd expect/hope from a youngster in his first full season: started slow, improved as the season progressed, peaked in July, wore down late. Holding steady for me. Looking forward to seeing him again at instructs.

Chad (OKC): Lucas Giolito: Any concerns about his elbow now or is he right back on track to being a #1 starter?

Jason Cole: Well, I wouldn't say any guy with Giolito's lack of experience is "on track to being a #1 starter" yet. He's a long way from reaching Verlander/Kershaw status. But on track to being an elite prospect? Sure. Reports were great and the velocity is already reaching elite levels. Even had a couple triple-digit velo whispers from scouts here and there (touching, not sitting). No-doubt candidate to bust out big in 2014.

Dave (Pittsburgh): Any chance Glasnow sees AA next season.

Jason Cole: Sure, definite chance of that if Pittsburgh chooses to move him quickly or Glasnow dominates in High-A. I don't think he's going to skip High-A or fly through it, but he's got a solid shot at seeing Double-A in 2014.

Paul (DC): Who awee the three best three true outcome prospects in the minors this past season?

Jason Cole: Coming up with three would take more research than I have time for right now, but I think #1 on that team has to be Joey Gallo.

nubber (tx): What do you think Arizona will do with Skaggs with their mega crowded rotation? Also, what do you think of Braden Shipley's potential?

Jason Cole: Didn't get any reports on Shipley from this summer (didn't ask around the NWL much) but he's a guy I really want to see at instructs. With the DBacks rotation: things have a way of working themselves out via injuries, but the rotation isn't *that* crowded with Kennedy gone. Corbin, Miley, Delgado, Cahill, McCarthy. They're all under contract for 2014 but I think you can put together a good competition in spring training next year for the final spot and give Archie Bradley some time in Triple-A as well. As we learned with the Rangers this year, though, injuries can make a crowded rotation very barren in a hurry.

Fist (Seattle): Your best bet on Eddie Butler: SP or closer? If SP, do you see ace potential?

Jason Cole: Closer if he's not a SP, but he's a SP for me. He's sort of an unorthodox guy but seems to make it work; reaches both sides of the plate with all three pitches and repeats/commands well. Three future plus offerings, as well, with an elite fastball. As I wrote in my report, I think he's a low no. 2/high no. 3 starter.

Chad (Norfolk): What have you learned about Gausman at this point that you didn't know at the season's start? Better, worse, or same expectations that you started with?

Jason Cole: About the same. Perhaps could stand to show a little more confidence in his breaking ball.

Chop Talk (ATL): Did you put eyes on Mauricio Cabrera this year? Im assuming Lucas Sims has passed JR Graham (injury of course stunted/halted his year) as top arm in the braves system, but is the same true of Mauricio

Jason Cole: Did not see Mauricio Cabrera this year. I will say this: I'm going to try and make it to Jackson at least once per year. I enjoyed it this year and saw one hell of a series (healthy Graham, Wood, Bethancourt, Walker, Miller, etc.) Probably safe to say Sims has passed Graham. I really hope Graham is going to be fine health-wise overall, because the start I saw in mid-April was the best I saw any pitcher throw all season.

Scott (LA): How would you slot all of the Cardinals young arms for next year? Who goes to the rotation besides Michael Wacha? Do Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez end up in the bullpen? Trade Joe Kelly?

Jason Cole: The Cardinals have so many first-world problems. Wacha is the most obvious one for the rotation, I think. Then Martinez. It will all depend on who is healthy. The Cardinals haven't had a healthy rotation all season and they're still having trouble finding room for Wacha and Martinez. I do think both of them are starters, but there's really no doubt with Wacha. He's probably a no. 4 starter at present and should end up as a no. 3.

gphelp77 (Chicago): What are 2-3 of your favorite breakout prospects for 2014? Mine are Bonifacio, Winker, and Gohara.

Jason Cole: I'd need a little longer to think about that, but that's a good list. Bonifacio finished strong in Double-A. Wouldn't shock me if he catches up to the competition and breaks out. Especially intriguing pick on that one I think.

Mattmettler (Tampa): Do you believe in Christian Villianuva's bat? Does he have enough power there to let his glove play?

Jason Cole: To an extent. It's not a special bat for third base. Average hit tool with average, maybe solid-average power. His body is the thing to watch for me. Always had kind of a thick midsection and he'll have to watch it to maintain his range, but either way his instincts are so supreme at third base that he should always be a good defender there. Despite his plus glove, I always wanted to see the dude behind the plate. He's a high work ethic guy with a good arm and a body for it. Plus, if you put his offensive profile behind the plate, you're looking at a potential All-Star instead of just an okay regular at third.

Michael (Phoenix): Sergio Alcantara really didn't hit for much power, but he showed quite the feel for the strike zone this year at such a young age. Do you think that the power could develop enough to allow him to play at the higher levels?

Jason Cole: Power is never going to be part of his game, but he shows bat-to-ball ability with a short up-the-middle stroke. I think a key will be adding some bulk to his frame to where some of those shots up the middle turn into hard line drives. He's got pitch recognition and a feel for the zone, seems to know his game well, and plays a good SS with an easily plus arm. Fringy runner though. Not a crazy ceiling but a very nice prospect. I liked him in the AZL.

Ryan (insidethezona): Gerardo Parra is 11th in the majors in fWAR among OFs this season. That's pretty good... but do you think OF prospects with his ceiling (slightly below average offensively, well above average defensively) get their due as prospects? I think they're generally thought of as 4th OF types, and then they get buried on draft boards and prospect lists. Agree?

Jason Cole: I agree with you. Even more than that, though, I would say OF prospects without loud tools but do everything pretty well. Think the Jackie Bradley, Jr. types. Parra falls into that category for me as well. I've had conversations with some scouts about that – saying that those types of OF prospects are not only underrated on prospect lists, but oftentimes around the industry as well.

Tim (NYC): Who's fastball would you rather have? Aroldis Chapman or Joel Zumaya (at his hardest)

Jason Cole: Chapman still for me.

djs711 (Chicago): Chris Sale's slider an 80 pitch?

Jason Cole: 70-grade at the very least, but there's an argument for 80.

MonkeyEpoxy (Amarillo): Alec Asher: MORP, BORP, Other?

Jason Cole: He was the one Myrtle Beach starting pitcher I missed this season. He had a good season and finished strong though. I think back-of-rotation is probably the safest bet there – like a no. 4 type – shows a plus fastball with decent secondaries and throws strikes.

Behemoth (Scotland): Have you seen Teoscar Hernandez at all this year?

Jason Cole: I have not but the reports have been good. He'll be in the top 10 conversation in a very strong Astros system.

Jason Cole: Alright guys, I appreciate all the questions. I think we set a record for most questions on one of my chats today. They just kept coming and there were a whole bunch that I wasn't able to get to. We'll do another one of these after instructs and before I head out to the Fall League, so let's say around the second week of October. Looking forward to it. As always, you can find me on Twitter @LoneStarDugout and ask me questions whenever you'd like. Thanks!

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