Talk prospects with Minor League Update man Jeff Moore.
Jeff Moore: Hey everyone. If you have a case of the Mondays, you're in the right place. It's a beautiful day here in south Florida to be sitting outside, looking at the ocean and answering some prospect questions. And there's baseball on TV already. Things are good. Let's make them better. Here we go!
Number27 (Milwaukee, WI): Jeff,
Thanks for the chat.
First, who's getting called up next?
Second, who are we not talking about that we should be?
Jeff Moore: I was as surprised as anybody that George Springer got called up when he did, though I'd guess it means that they're closer to a contract extension than either side is letting on. I just don't see the Astros giving up the service time like that for the sake of about one win between now and June in what will be another losing season. I'm thrilled he's up, but it doesn't make much sense.
Because of that, I have no idea who's next. Some of the most obvious candidates – Javy Baez, Byron Buxton, Taijuan Walker, and Addison Russell for example, have battled injuries. There are some more obvious candidates like Marcus Stroman, Andrew Heaney, Gregory Polanco and others, but I'll bet most teams wait until the super-two deadline has safely passed.
Then again, who saw a Luis Sardinas promotion happening over the weekend? So who knows.
dancini (Pgh): What's your prediction on a Andrew Heaney earlier than expected call up? Do you see anything fishy going on (see what I did there)?
Jeff Moore: Good transition into answer a Heaney question. You never know what the Marlins are going to do, but even with their aggressive promotions last year, they waited until after the super-two deadline (Jose Fernandez not included, but he's an exception to every rule). He's going to be in the majors this year, barring injury. I'll bet he's up before the all-star break. The way he's pitching in Double-A, I wouldn't be surprised to see him bumped to Triple-A within the month then make the jump, though the Marlins aren't afraid of skipping players right over Triple-A. With pitchers in the Pacific Coast League, that wouldn't be the worst idea either.
And for the record, terrible puns are a great way to get your question chosen.
Clarke H. (NY): Who would you rather have in a dynasty league, Hunter Harvey or Julio Urias? And why?
Jeff Moore: Hard to believe the answer is an 17-year-old when it comes to keepers in fantasy, but he's probably closer to the majors than is Harvey, and when it comes to keeper leagues, that's always a huge factor. That said, Harvey has the higher ceiling. It's important to remember with Urias that just because he's doing what he's doing at an incredibly young age, it doesn't raise his ceiling. Urias projects as a number two while Harvey could be an ace. The floor is higher on Urias because he's closer to the majors. It's your call on what you want.
Joe (St. Louis): We know about the on-field tools, but where does Byron Buxton rank on the alliteration scale? Is it an 80? Or is he behind a guy like Arismendy Alcantara or someone else?
Jeff Moore: Buxton is up there, but Alcantara sets the bar. That's some serious name flash right there.
bsballfoo87 (Los Angeles): More highly touted at the time: Gausman/Bundy/Harvey/Rodriguez in 2014, or Tillman/Matusz/Arrieta/Britton in 2010?
Jeff Moore: Ya know, I was living in Baltimore in 2010 and there was some serious hype surrounding that crew. I think the hype this time is slightly less at least partially because of the disappointment that came from the first go round. Orioles fans are certainly more cautious. That said, this crew is better. More high ceiling guys. Arrieta and Britton were both nice prospects but were mid rotation guys. Gausman/Bundy/Harvey is a chance (albeit an extremely unlikely one) of three top of the rotation guys.
Josh (Wrigleyville): In 2015/16, Javier Baez is playing [insert position here]?
Jeff Moore: Second, short and third. I know Cubs fans are super excited about the future, and I would be too. There's not much else to look forward to. But this need to pigeon hole Baez is completely unnecessary. The fact that he can play all three infield positions is awesome. The important part is that he'd going to play every day. His defensive flexibility gives the Cubs a chance to move the pieces around once more and more of them get to the majors. I hope he plays all three in the majors and I'll bet he sees time at all of them this year. Remember when we needed answers about where Xander Bogaerts was going to play when all of the factors were things that had nothing to do with him (resigning of Stephen Drew, Middlebrooks' development, etc.) Same thing with Baez. He can play all three. Which one he ends up at has nothing to do with him. It's about the other players around him.
AMetsGuy (NYC): Dilson Herrera. What's his approach like? He seems to have a bit of pop and decent contact skills. How much improvement must he show to be a 1st division regular?
Jeff Moore: I'll take a Mets question because I made fun of them on Twitter yesterday, something which I do a lot.
I like Herrera. I've seen him three times this year already. He's a plus athlete and well-built for a smaller guy. He does have some bat speed which, when put with his strength, does give him some pop for a short guy. He has the ability to be a good hitter, but he's inconsistent when it comes to barreling up the balls. I've seen him hit a number of balls hard in a row in games, and I've also seen him take a terrible round of BP and pop up way too much. It's a work in progress, but I like the player. He's more of a 2B than a shortstop and could easily play the outfield as well, and could probably handle center field adequately. Very interesting player. There's something there, but I'm not sure we know what yet.
If he was a high school football recruit, he'd be listed under "Athlete" for his position.
Al Harrington (Bucketsville): Despite being a small sample, has Brandon Nimmo significantly elevated his prospect status in the early season?
Jeff Moore: I've got a few questions here about players raising their prospect status so far this season. Let me put it this way, and this has nothing to do with Nimmo. If you've raised a prospect's status in your mind after 2 1/2 weeks of a minor league baseball season, you're probably evaluating prospect's wrong. I'm not saying it can't happen, but you have to see something that you hadn't seen before. Has one of his tools changed? Or velocity for a pitcher? Or a new pitch? All of those things can change his "status", but a few weeks of swinging a hot bat don't mean a thing.
It's good to see Nimmo playing and playing well. People just looking at numbers may have diminished his prospect status based on last season, but that was foolish. He's the same player this year he was last year. Good eye at the plate, plus bat-speed, above-average power, good speed. All of those things remain the same. He's a good player and I like him. That's the same too.
mat43287 (Oakland): Alex Bregman sounds a lot like Anthony Rendon 2.0...yay or nay?
Jeff Moore: As a polished college bat that could go early in the draft, yes, but Rendon was a 3B who is holding his own at 2B right now while Bregman is an up the middle player all the way who can handle SS. They're not close enough to give them an updated software tag.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Jeff, What would you rather have for an entire career, the higher upside of Giolito or the "safer" Harvey?
Jeff Moore: If we're talking two prospects, one of whom is in Low-A and one of whom is in Triple-A, then you'd have a discussion, but if we're talking fantasy teams and it's two players at similar levels, always take the guy with the higher upside.
Gav (UK): Where do you stand on Jon Singleton? Getting mixed reports - some say he's going to carry his hotness into the Majors very soon; others are saying his head is not right for the Majors.
Jeff Moore: I like Singleton and think he'll be an above-average first baseman. I don't know if he'll be the guy to carry the Astros lineup, but he could be. The talent is there if he has everything else under control. It has nothing to do with carrying hotness to the majors. Hot streaks come and go no matter where you play. But he's talented and is the best first base prospect in baseball (it is a weak crop, though). I don't know where his head is right now, but I'm sure the Astros do and I doubt they'd call him up if it wasn't in his or the team's best interest.
Rob (York, Pa): As of right now who in your opinion is the #1 pick in this summers draft?
Jeff Moore: York, PA! Go Spartans! York College grad here. Say hi to Murph's for me.
I don't know who the Astros are going to go with and I doubt they do either. I've said all along I think they'll take a college pitcher, especially since the top candidates seemed to be from that crop. It's been a slightly disappointing year for a number of them, but there's still plenty of time. As long as the stuff is still there in May and June for guys like Rodon or Hoffman, I'd guess it's one of those two.
Silverback38 (VA): With injuries to other Pirates pitching prospects, does Kingham get elevated any quicker?
Jeff Moore: The Pirates are notoriously conservative with their promotions and do not rush their prospects. The Pirates also have some pitching depth ahead of their top prospects, like Jeff Locke and Brandon Crumpton, so there's no need to rush anyone. If they dip into the prospect pool for starts, Kingham could nab a few of those that would have gone to Jameson Taillon, but i don't think we'll see Kingham this year unless things really get bad on the Burgh.
Drifter (Long Branch): Which team(s) has(ve) the best minor league affiliate system(s) - I'm thinking in terms of (a) proximity to Major League team - this would offer the big league team quick access to view prospects in action, and (b) league representation offering a quality range of experiences (e.g. are many of the home stadiums in the PCL good barometers / testing grounds for potential major leaguers if the extreme hitter park nature of the stadiums shatter a pitcher's confidence and/or reinforce poor minor league hitting habits that won't translate well at the major league level. Thanks, Jeff.
Jeff Moore: Love this question. The Orioles have one of the best setups with all of their affiliates within about 3-4 hours by car. This is one of those things that isn't essential by any means, but organizations have begun doing it over the past few years, attempting to move their affiliates closer to home. It comes into play every now and then and in general I think it's a good idea, but it's not necessary. Still, it makes things easy.
Oscar Taveras (Memphis, TN): I'm ready to take over the Show, right? I'm getting a little bored of minor league pitching.
Jeff Moore: Let's stay on the field for more than a month straight before we start complaining about being bored, shall we?
NatsGM (Bethesda MD): Thanks for the chat Jeff and the excellent work on MLU.. Bunch of questions for you -
Addison Russell or Francisco Lindor?
High Ceiling or High Floor?
Eduardo Rodriguez or A.J. Cole?
Favorite Sleeper prospect in the Nationals system?
City Oyster or 32 East?
Best Sports Bar in Delray?
Jeff Moore: We had this discussion as a staff the other day and included Baez and Correa in the mix. I went with Lindor. Here's the link:
There's no right or wrong, so much as just a preference. Same with Rodriguez vs. Cole. Do you like ceiling or floor? Cole could be the better pitcher, but he could also be a reliever still. Sometimes it's just a preference.
You want food in Delray? Go to Park Tavern. You simply can't beat it, and order an Old Fashioned. My favorite sports bar is a little dive called The Hurricane because it's an Eagles bar and they put the game on every Sunday and it's filled with other idiots in Randal Cunningham throwbacks to make me feel better about myself.
Rob (Parts Unknown): Rafael Montero plus X = Joc Peterson. What is X, and shouldn't the Mets and Dodgers try to make this happen?
Jeff Moore: Prospect for prospect trades don't happen because prospects are volatile commodities and neither side wants to be the side that trades away the star. When teams trade away a prospect for a veteran, they at least know what they're getting back. You an argue that they gave up too much, but rarely does the team getting the veteran end up with nothing. In a prospect for prospect trade, that's a possibility and no one wants to be that GM.
That said, Montero and Pederson are similar levels of prospects, so I'm not sure why you'd need another piece. The reason it won't happen is because trading away pitching depth is about the dumbest thing anyone could ever do. Matt Harvey is still injured right? You could give me the top 10 pitching prospects in baseball in my farm system and I wouldn't trade one of them away before they got to the majors.
Spirou (Montreal): Henry Owens just might be the most divisive prospect in the game.Do you lean towards the back-end of the roation guy or the potential # 2 starter ?
Jeff Moore: He's divisive because not because of what scouts are seeing but because of what he's giving them to see. He'll be lights out on one night and then a mess the next. It's his command and his ability to repeat his delivery. I think the scouting community pretty much agrees on that. It's Owens that's back and forth.
Because of that, I think he'll fall in as a mid-rotation guy who dominates one night and goes 3 1/3 the next and drives everyone nuts.
Or it could click...
Chief Wahoo (CLE): Is Bauer ready now? I know 3 starts is a sample but are the improvements he's made sustainable?
Jeff Moore: If it were just three starts from a random guy, I'd say we need to see more. But Bauer has a track record and a history of being talented. I'd like to see it some more, but there's no reason we can't see how real it is in major league games, especially after his one spot start in Cleveland. That was impressive.
Let's put it this way, the Indians are poised to take a step back this year if they don't do something. They probably aren't going to make the playoffs unless Bauer is for real now, so why not find out now?
Vijay (Chicago): Speaking of top picks in the draft, do you think MLB will ever be open to trading Rule 4 picks? If so, how big would the impact of this change really be?
Jeff Moore: Man, I hope so. It's going to be so much fun to watch all of the bad organizations trade away all of their picks for aging veterans while the Rays, A's, Cardinals, Pirates and Astros stockpile them and continually have deep farm systems.
On the other hand, I'm a Phillies fan so forget I said anything.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Does anyone have a chance to be this year's Wacha? A lesser known (not top) prospect who comes up mid-season and dazzles us?
Jeff Moore: Wacha didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He was a first round pick and would have been higher in this off-season's prospect rankings if he had spent the season in the minors. He wasn't off-the-radar by any means. Heck, he was ranked 56th in the BP 2013 Top-101.
That said, if you're looking for a similar assent this year, you may be waiting for a while. That was a unique case, one where there was a college prospect who was ready for the majors soon after being drafted, and had the perfect storm of playing for a World Series team. Prospects don't usually make that ind of assent and it probably won't happen this year.
natedogg34 (Fort Worth): Henry Ownens' volatility -- sounds a lot like Derek Holland.
Jeff Moore: For different reasons - Owens is tied to his height which makes it hard to repeat his delivery while Holland struggles because...actually I don't know why Holland struggles sometimes. He should be better than he is. Anyway, the frustration level among fans could be similar. I see where you're going with this NateDogg. Way to regulate.
Paul (Pittsburgh): Would you trade Oscar Taveras for Gerrit Cole ?
Jeff Moore: Ugh.
maxpowers (chicago): Any reports on how Kohl Stewart is developing?
Jeff Moore: No real news, which is good news. Stewart hasn't dominated in his first three starts, but he hasn't been a disaster either. Sounds pretty good for an 18-year-old jumping straight into full season ball. Everything I've heard makes it sounds like the stuff is as good as advertised. I'm no where near Cedar Rapids so I haven't seen him, but everything seems to fit the status quo thus far.
Monkeyepoxy (Amarillo): Obligatory Joey Gallo question: streaky player being hot as hell, or a good prospect making the adjustments he needed to make?
Or shit, maybe both?
Jeff Moore: Good question and this is what I mean by changing a prospect's status after three weeks. Gallo could be making some adjustments, or he could just be red-hot. Hopefully it's both. When he's on, he can do ridiculous damage because of his power. He's always going to strike out, but he is doing it at a lesser rate than last year. He's also walking more. He also has a BABIP of .375 this year. Take it all with a grain of salt and tempered excitement. And more My Cousin Vinny jokes!
Mankind (The Boilerroom): Steven Matz has the talent to be a top ___ prospect at the end of the season, assuming no serious injuries. What's his ceiling?
Jeff Moore: You're looking to see if I'll say Top-101 here. I know you're little tricks. Yeah, if he's healthy he's got good stuff so maybe, but wee need to see more before I can say that with any confidence. I'm going to see St. Lucie twice this week so hopefully he'll throw and I'll have a better answer for you. I haven't seen the pitching match ups yet, but hopefully I'll draw him. Ask me again this weekend if I see him.
Don't worry everyone, I made a sandwich for hour two. Keep the questions coming!
Frank (Chicago): Thoughts on Matt Davidson being sent down, and now struggling in Triple A? Lot of people projected him to be starting 3B for the Sox this year.
Jeff Moore: I don't have many thoughts on it. His struggles in Triple-A don't mean much to me. He's still the same guy he was - a flawed hitter with some pop - hopefully enough pop to overcome his struggles. That hasn't changed in two weeks of Triple-A. Looks like the White Sox are holding him off for arbitration reasons, so I doubt they're putting too much stock in his struggles either.
Luis (Brooklyn): What are your thoughts on Nicolino? What do you see as his floor and ceiling? Thanks
Jeff Moore: He's a high-floor/low-ceiling guy. He'll settle in as a number 4-5 starter and could do some nice things in that big ballpark in Miami, but he needs to improve his command. Throws a ton of strikes, but not always good ones. Doesn't miss enough bats.
Josh (Wrigleyville): Just clarifying re: Baez, I am/was asking from a fantasy (dynasty) perspective, not from the real life standing.
Jeff Moore: Understandable. All the more reason to root for him to play multiple positions. A guy like that who can play three positions is awesome.
Pat (Chicago): Cubs question. Their minor league system seems pretty top-heavy at the moment. Do you see them going for one of the top college pitchers in June or just do what they did last year and draft the best guy on their board regardless of position?
Jeff Moore: In general, I always advocate taking the best player available. That said, their situation with their farm system weighing so heavily towards hitting prospects is at least enough to be a tie breaker if they're stuck between a hitter and a pitcher. I'd NEVER reach in an MLB draft for someone just because of positional need, but if it's close, their situation may be enough to lean towards the pitcher.
Daniel (Louisville): I'm a Reds fan who lives in Louisville. Who would you recommend I focus on when I go to Bats games? I know Stephenson is a big deal, but he isn't there yet. Who should I put on my radar in the Reds' system who will be in AAA at some point this summer? I can't just cheer for Corky Miller sightings forever!
Jeff Moore: I can't help you out much. The Louisville roster isn't great. Triple-A in general can be hard to watch, at least from a prospect standpoint. There's so much major league depth there among guys who either no longer qualify as prospects or where never good enough to qualify in the first place. Lots of Quad-A guys in Louisville. The good news is that Stephenson will be worth the wait.
Guys, you should see this sandwich.
Norwun (NYC): How come Archie Bradley is not on your list of who might be called up next?
Jeff Moore: I didn't think of him. He's certainly a candidate, although the D-Backs have said that he's not ready yet. Of course, that could be a ploy so it doesn't look like they're holding him off for financial reasons. He's not exactly dominating in Triple-A right now either, so he's not forcing the Diamondbacks hand, though injuries are. He still has command issues and gets away with his plus stuff too often. That's a nice problem to have sometimes, but one that he'll have to correct.
Frank (Frank's House): How do you rank the following OFers for ROS?: Leonys Martin, George Springer, Nori Aoki. Springer has the talent, Aoki has the experience, and Leonys might have a bit of both. Your thoughts?
Jeff Moore: Man, that's a random group of guys. Springer will put up the best fantasy numbers, if that's what you're asking. He's going to be a fantasy stud if you're in traditional leagues that don't care about strikeouts. He's going to hit home runs, steal bases, all the good stuff. Then Aoki then Martin.
The Dude (Office): What's on the sandwich?
Jeff Moore: Turkey, avacado, old bay, a little honey. High-floor, moderate-ceiling sandwich. For a homemade sandwich made between questions, it's good. 50 present, 60 future.
Dan (Toronto): What are your thoughts on Eddie Butler and do you think he reaches the majors before Gray?
Jeff Moore: I've never heard a player described so often with the same random noun. In Butler's case, it's "bowling ball" in reference to his sinking fastball and what it feels like to hit it. Theoretically, it would seem that groundballers have the best chance to succeed at Coors. It wouldn't shock me to see him in the majors before Gray just because this is Gray's first full season.
Al (MD): Went does Gausman come up? He's not mentioned in those with a chance to contribute anytime soon?
Jeff Moore: Yeah, he's another one. I wasn't really compiling an entire list. I was just tossing out some names. I'll bet he's up as soon as the Orioles need another starter. They know what he can do and if he's not ready then rushing him last year was an even worst idea than it already was. They've used the same five guys thus far, but if they have an injury or a double-header or something, he'll be up. I believe they are holding his innings limits back to keep him available for August and September (and in their minds, October) in the majors.
Heath (Chicago): What will the Cubs ultimately do with Arodys Vizcaino now that he is back pitching? Do you think he will ever become a starter again? Could he possibly be the next closer?
Jeff Moore: I think his starting days are over, partially due to the injuries but more so due to the developmental time lost during those recoveries. There's no way to project whether or not someone will be a closer. He once had the stuff to close games and still could, but being a closer is about opportunity. Impossible to predict. I can predict, however, that he could still be a late-inning option for the Cubs.
Alex (Anaheim): Will Gary Sanchez end up playing for the Yankees, or do you expect him to be traded?
Jeff Moore: The nice thing about the McCann signing was that it keeps the Yankees from having to rush Sanchez. He feels like he's been around forever but he's still only 21. He's had some struggles transitioning to new levels, so it's probably wise to let him go at his own pace. I eventually envision him joining McCann in a catcher/DH time share, maybe by next season, as McCann ages.
Of course, he's the Yankees best trade chip, so if they really need to make a move at the deadline, there's always that chance.
Scott (PA): Jesse Biddle has looked pretty good this year. I think the control issues have passed from last year. What are your thoughts on Biddle?
Jeff Moore: Yes, so far the control has been much better. It's way too early to say they're passed. Four starts in a row walking two batters or less is something he failed to do last year, so it's a good sign, but it's still just four starts.
Bill (Bozeman): Cheslor Cuthbert seems to struggle mightily after every promotion. 1) Is this common for players that are young for the level; and 2) Where do you see his overall prospect status as a 21-year old now holding his own in AA? Does he have projectible power?
Jeff Moore: Yes, it is something that happens more often with younger players for all the reasons you'd expect. You have to give him credit for going back and handling Wilmington, an extremely difficult place to hit, especially for power as a right-handed hitter and anyone not named Joey Gallo. Cuthbert has more power than he's shown in games thus far, but it's more doubles power than home run power. Credit the Royals for refusing to promote him until he has mastered a level. That's one of my biggest pet peeves.
Dave from Pittsburgh ( Boston): I know how stupid it is to suggest favoritism on this website, but I haven't seen a lot if any writeups on any Pirates prospects this season yet (Notes from the Field, minor league notes, etc). Are you going to be covering the FSL, Eastern League, or the International league?
Jeff Moore: That's a fair question, Dave, and I'll explain to you how it works here at BP. It's certainly not favoritism. You know what we all show favoritism towards around here? Talent. That makes the Pirates org a good place to look. Unfortunately, we need some proximity. We have scouts scattered all over the country and we're going to these games on our own dimes (at least when it comes to travel costs, etc. I'm in Florida so I have the FSL covered, as do a few other guys. We have a guy in Maryland, a guy in Jersey, two in New England, a few in California, etc. Speaking specifically for the Pirates org. I don't think we have anyone anywhere near Indy, Altoona or West Virginia, so we'll have to wait and hope that one of those teams goes and plays somewhere close to one of our guys.
Personally, I submitted a few reports on Bradenton players over the weekend so look for them at some point this week.
Wesley (Utah): When scouts describe sinkers as "bowling balls" or "heavy" how does the pitcher do it? Special grip? Arm action? Dark magic?
Jeff Moore: All of the above. In fact, I hear Professor Snape threw a nasty two-seamer.
There are a number of ways to do it. It's typically a two-seam fastball grip that causes that kind of arm-side run (a scouting term you hear when a FB runs into a right-handed batter from a right-handed pitcher or vice versa). By dropping down to a 3/4 arm angle, it can exaggerate the movement. Getting it to sink at the same time is different altogether. Some of it is just natural. There are ways to gee more movement - A.J Burnett is a great example, redefining himself in Pittsburgh as a groundballer by hammering the zone with 2-seamers - but not every pitcher can do it and some are significantly better set up for it than others based on the way they throw
Dave from Pittsburgh (Boston): Gregory Polanco is hitting .406/.449/.625 in AAA (64 AB's), is there any reason he wouldn't be an immediate upgrade in RF once the Super 2 date passes?
Jeff Moore: Yeah, Polanco is red hot. Theoretically he should be an immediate upgrade. It doesn't always work that way for prospects, but even if he doesn't hit right away, he should still be about as productive as the Travis Snider/Jose Tabata cluster the Pirates have going on right now, and he's a better defender.
Alex (Tampa): When thinking about and evaluating pitchers, do you think the most important things are (in order): Arm action, delivery, velocity, frame? What about with hitters?
Jeff Moore: For pitcher effectiveness, it's location, movement, velocity, in that order. Why then do we put so much importance on velocity? Because it's the hardest thing to teach and improve upon. It's much easier to take a guy that throws 95 and improve his command than take a guy with good command who throws 89 and get him to throw significantly harder. In fact, that's almost impossible. Veolcity makes up for weaknesses in the other areas, but the other two are more important in order to be effective.
Pete (Austin): When you did college recruiting what did you look for in players?
Jeff Moore: #rig
In all seriousness, I did like a little bit of that swagger of knowing you're the best, even if it's not true. I loved players with an edge. For hitters, I wanted bat speed and athleticism. I loved speed. At the very least, I could teach a fast guy how to bunt for a hit. That kind of stuff can work in college better than in the pros. For pitchers, I needed some velocity but what I really wanted to see was command and a secondary pitch for strikes. If you could throw a change-up for strikes, you were my guy. College hitters really struggle with a good change up because they don't see many of them.
Shawnykid23 (CT): In general, and just using the Biddle control question as an example, when are you comfortable saying a propect has "turned a corner" with something like control, or hitter with K rate, etc. I know it's different with everybody, but in your mind when does a small sample size become something more meaningful?
Jeff Moore: Yeah, it's definitely different for everybody, and it's different depending on what part of their game needs improvement. Biddle has control problems. Why? Is it because of difficulty repeating his delivery like Henry Owens has some times? Is it something with his arm-slot? Is it because his pitches move so much they're hard to control? Depending on the reason for the struggles, the answer can be different things. Ideally, I'd want to lay eyes on the guy and see if he has made adjustments to whatever the problem was in the first place. If I'm going totally off stats, I need a couple of months. You can hit for average for a few months and have it be a fluke, but throwing strikes for two months straight would be a good signal to me that he's made an adjustment without being able to see what it is in person.
Luc (Atlanta): Christian Yelich sure can hit, but where's the homerun power?
Jeff Moore: We're giving up on Yelich's power already? He's 22 and has 79 major league games to his credit. Please repeat after me: not every prospect is Bryce Harper.
Yes, Yelich's power hasn't kicked in yet. That also happens when your organization rushes you to the majors. He's doing a damn good job of holding his own despite getting just 49 games in the high minors. Power is usually the last tool to develop, especially on young guys who are still filling out their frame. Yelich is a bit of a string bean. He'll fill out. Plus that home park doesn't help. He won't be a big time power guy but he's got 15 a season in there somewhere.
Derek (Boston): Mookie Betts. No position in the majors at this time, although seeming to show that last year might not have been as big of a fluke as a lot of people thought. Your thoughts of Betts and what could possibly come of him in the majors (positional especially)?
Jeff Moore: Give me the dude who just flat hits everyday of the week. Remember when Xander Bogaerts didn't have a position either? These things have a way of working themselves out. We know he's not playing 2B in Boston unless Pedroia gets hurt, but guys who hit find a way into the lineup. Just let him keep hitting.
BL (Bozeman): Hi Jeff, do you believe Brett Eibner's hit tool so far is real improvement or a sample size mirage? Does he profile as a CF going forward?
Jeff Moore: Yeah, he's a center fielder, but he'll always have contact issues. They've gotten better thus far this year, but the small sample size helps. Hit tools don't really improve that much at age 25. It's rare.
Luis (Nowhere near Brooklyn): Could you give 3 prospects right now that you think will make it to top 100 prospects lists by this time next year? Players making big jumps?
Jeff Moore: Michael Feliz, J.P. Crawford, and Lewis Thorpe, to name a few. Just guessing.
Hustlin Pedroia (Burbs): For a pitcher like Chris Archer with two + pitches, is having a third average more important or is something like fastball command even important-er?
Jeff Moore: Nice use of important-er. Well played.
I'd always rather take quality over quantity, so I'd rather have my plus fastball play up to be even better by pairing it with plus command. Sometimes additional average pitches or below average pitches just get in the way. Why throw a crappy pitch when you can keep throwing your good ones? It's not always that simple, but if I have to break it down, I'd rather have two great pitches than a full average arsenal.
Jason (Baltimore): What on earth convinced you to willingly live in York, PA for four years?
Jeff Moore: Five, it was college.
Matt (TX): Do you agree with Theo Epstein's opinion that people are vastly underrating the Cubs pitching prospects? Is he just trying to talk up his guys or is the industry wrong about the Cubs minor league pitching?
Jeff Moore: Probably both. Their pitching prospects get overlooked because of how good their hitting prospects are, but it's not a barren cupboard by any stretch and it got better when they traded for C.J. Edwards. What they're lacking is a potential number one or two starter.
Never underestimate the ability of a GM to spin things the way he wants them, though. That's what makes them good at what they do. Well, some of them anyway.
Humpty Dumpty (The Wall): I see Kirby Yates among the IL strikeout leaders again. Is he a legit relief prospect?
Jeff Moore: There's no reason he can't tribute in the bullpen this year.
Ian (OK): Any word on Trevor May's improved control? He worked on something in the AFL and it seems to be carrying over into AAA.
Jeff Moore: Yeah, he's off to a great start, especially control-wise. It's important to point out, however, that guys rarely drop from four and a half walks per nine to less than two. They simply don't make those kinds of improvements, especially in one off-season. He can get into the threes (BB/9) and needs to be to be effective, but it would be remarkable if he continued to throw strikes at this rate. Impressive, but rare.
Ian (NYC): How did you teach command/control to young pitchers while in college?
Jeff Moore: It's extremely difficult, which is why you look for guys who already have it. I wasn't a pitching coach, so I'm not the best guy to ask, but it revolves around focusing in on certain parts of the strike zone sectioning off the plate. I could teach your mom how to bunt though.
Hank (STL): How would you define "edge"
Jeff Moore: You just have to see it. It's the confidence to know you're going to get a hit, or strike someone out, even if you have no business believing it. It's the ignorance to know when you're in over your head. It's knowing you're the best without having to tell everyone about it.
Bill (New Mexico): It begins to look conceivable -- not certain, but possible -- that Stephen Piscotty will be called up to St. Louis before Taveras. What's happened? Has Oscar's star dimmed, or is Piscotty another of those "where-did-that-come-from" stories that the Cardinals have had so many of recently?
Jeff Moore: Don't read too much into who gets called up first. Other than being sort-of injury prone, nothing has dimmed about Taveras. Piscotty has come on strong, but many times its about the other factors at work. Perhaps the Cardinals are more willing to call Piscotty up without consistent playing time than Taveras. Who knows? Taveras is still every bit the prospect he was a year ago today.
Jeff Moore: Ok guys, that's going to be it for today. Great questions as always. I enjoy it every time.