Ethan Purser covers the Sally League for our prospect team, and can answer all your baseball and prospect questions.
Ethan Purser: Hi all. My main coverage areas this season were the Sally League and the Southern League with a few International League games mixed in, as well. I also see quite a bit of amateur ball and am always up for draft talk. Let's get this thing going, shall we?
AJ (Phoenix): This was obviously a big year for Reynaldo Lopez. Did you catch any of his starts? What's the prognosis?
Ethan Purser: I did not, as he never made a start in Rome, which is my home turf. Tucker Blair's your man on this one. Check out his report. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=205
Jonah (Redwood): Hunter Harvey has looked very promising so far. How edited should I be?
Ethan Purser: I was unfortunately out of town when Harvey made a start in Rome, which was a huge bummer. From talking to scouts and other writers who saw him, he's definitely a dude. The huge crossfire in his delivery and the elbow injury at the end of the season give me some pause, but I think he has the three-pitch arsenal, including a swing-and-miss fastball/curveball combo, to profile well as a low #2/high #3 SP. I'd say that's worthy of excitement.
Dr. Mike (Milwaukee): What can you tell me about Travis Demeritte?
Ethan Purser: He is very athletic with above-average raw power but big swing-and-miss issues currently. He does some things in his swing that I'm not a fan of, including a deep hand load with some extraneous movement in his trigger, and he displays obvious fastball holes in the zone above the hands and down and in. There's also a tendency for him to pull off with his front side, opening up holes with respect to breaking balls on the outer half from righties. With that said, his bat speed is plus and he has lightning in his wrists, so it's hard to give up on the bat. He'll be an above-average defender at either third or second at the end of the day, but I prefer him at the keystone due to his average arm. I'm a fan despite the oddities in the statistical profile and think he has the ability to tame the swing-and-miss issues because there's so much looseness in the swing (i.e. it's not a rigid, grooved swing that's normally associated with big swing-and-miss issues). I expect him to make more contact next year with a slight decrease in the home run output in High-A, wherever that ends up being. I put a 5 on him and still feel pretty good about it.
baseballjunkie (SF Bay Area): Hi Ethan, What do you see as Gausman's upside and realistic outcome?
Ethan Purser: Ceiling is a #2 starter and the realistic role is a #3 starter who pitches like a #2 at times, both of which are unchanged potential outcomes for me. The fastball command has been an issue this season and he's been yanked back and forth some, but I'm a believer heading into 2015.
RetroKryptonite (Oklahoma): Hey, Ethan. Appreciate your time. I was wondering what you thought of Victor Reyes and Connor Lien (particularly Lien, as he's less-covered) as far as ceiling/realistic projections and possible comps.
Ethan Purser: Thanks for stopping by. I wrote up Reyes earlier in the year.
His pure bat-to-ball skills are impressive at the plate, but there's virtually no power in his game at present and it's a left-field profile all the way. It's a tough sell in a corner, but he's eons away and is a projectable kid. He's going to hit all the way up, but the power development will determine his ultimate role.
On Lien, he's got the range to play center field with a 45 arm and is a plus or better runner. I'm not in love with the swing. His hands are stiff/rigid, the bat speed is just okay, and he's got some miss in the zone with a slight bit of length. I put a 4 on him and could see a scenario where he gets a cup of coffee because he has speed and can play center field, but he's realistically a good organizational piece. I'm higher on the other Connor on that squad (Connor Oliver) and think he has a good shot at being a 4th outfielder.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Ethan, If you could pick one minor league hitter and one minor league pitcher to build your team around who would they be?
Ethan Purser: This is a great question. I'm staying alliterative and going with Buxton and Bradley. Bradley needs to refine the command and the results weren't great this season, but the stuff is nasty and the body is ideal for an innings-eating horse. I'm willing to give him a mulligan due to the elbow injury and think his upside still rivals that of any SP in the minors. Buxton is still the top prospect in the minors despite the injuries, in my opinion. Runner-up combination would be Correa and Giolito, for what it's worth.
Charlie (Chicago): Thanks for the chat, Ethan!! In your opinion, is the Avisail Garcia we've seen the past few weeks the same guy we should expect to see next year??
Ethan Purser: He's certainly not the .289/.373/.511 hitter that he's been over the past two weeks in the long term. His hit tool will always be tempered by a lack of discipline at the plate, so for me, he's more of an average hitter with plus power and a good defender in right field with a cannon for an arm. I'd look at his line so far this season as a realistic guide as to what he is in the long term with some upside for more in his peak years. As an aside, he's a personal favorite. I'm a sucker for the prototype in right field.
The Dude (Office): What non-baseball activities do you specialize in?
Ethan Purser: I eat, sleep, and breathe baseball. But I guess when I'm not doing any of those things, I like to play guitar.
Rocky (Laguna Beach): What are you hearing about this Fulenchek kid? Hard to find reports on him. Struggled in pro ball after coming from small town Texas. Not a good start for a million dollar bonus baby. Is he in over his head?
Ethan Purser: Garrett Fulenchek was the Braves second-round selection this season, and I'm hearing very good things despite the lackluster results in his pro debut. Area scouts in Texas gush about this kid. He has size that isn't teachable and a very projectable arsenal. The fastball touched the mid-90s in high school and sat in the low-90s with plane and sink during his professional debut. The slider (which was almost cutter-like in high school) has above-average to plus potential and the changeup has flashed in the past with realistic room for growth. Most importantly, he has some feel, something that most high school pitchers don't possess when they enter the pro ranks. In a relatively thin system, I'd argue that Fulenchek deserves a high ranking based on the upside. Also, he's a Texan, which used to carry some weight around here, I hear.
Ben (Chicago): Carlos Rodon an Ace? in the majors to start 2015?
Ethan Purser: No, he is not an ace. Probably a good #3 or a low #2 at the end of the day. The FB/SL combo is huge, but I'm not a fan of the delivery. He will find his way to the majors at some point in 2015, though I doubt he starts there.
Brett Gardner (Louisville, KY): What, exactly, makes the PCL so crazy? Is it just the parks? elevation? I always hear it is bad for pitchers, but never really exactly why.
Ethan Purser: Most of it is the elevation of the stadiums and the resulting thin air. Balls travel farther, breaking balls don't have as much bite, etc. For example, Colorado Springs is 6,351 feet above sea level, which is more than 1,000 feet above Coors Field. The Sky Sox have even installed a humidor to try to level the playing field some. This is why evaluating prospects who come through the PCL (and the Cal League) is so difficult and why one should only take the statistics accumulated in these leagues with a grain of salt, both for the good (hitters) and the bad (pitchers).
mbovie (Baltimore): Did you get to see Reynaldo Lopez pitch this year? Scouting his stats he looks pretty exciting. He wasn't included on many prospect lists going into 2014. Think he's a 2015 top 101 here at BP?
Ethan Purser: I did not. Check the first answer where Tucker Blair's report is linked. I'm excited based off of his report. His name will certainly be in the mix, I'd imagine.
Britt Austin (Cincinnati): Thinking reds should rebuild. How about starting off by sending cueto phillips, chapman, and bruce to chicago for baez, almora, tseng, vogelbach, mckinney and another young arm such as underwood. Anyone else we can unload? Lol
Ethan Purser: Britt, thanks for stopping by, but in the most respectful way possible, that's not going to happen. Sorry man.
Colin (Oconomowoc, WI): Gosuke Katoh seemed to struggle down in Charleston this year, or at least that's the impression that I get from way up here. Was there any mechanical reason for this, or was it more of a 19 year old kid adapting to his first full season of pro ball type struggle?
Ethan Purser: I sat on Charleston for a full series, and of the prospects there, Katoh did the least for me. The approach is very discerning, but there are holes in the swing leading to some swing-and-miss. It's a very inside-out swing but the load can get deep and I don't think he'll be able to handle premium velocity on the hands. He's a AAA guy for me.
Feel free to ask about more guys from that squad if you want. My sleeper there is Eduardo De Oleo. The numbers are weak, but he is a legitimate prospect behind the plate with the ability to stick and some pop in his bat. I put a major league grade on him.
Mitch (Colorado): Thoughts on Yoan Moncada?
Ethan Purser: I don't have any sources who have seen him yet, but the expectation within the industry is that his stock will continue to rise due to the obvious talent and the fact that he is younger than most defectors.
Rocky (Laguna Beach): I know you had a limited look at amateurs this summer, but perhaps give us some names of who stood out to you. Impact arms/bats, best pitch, under the radar, 2015s, 2016s, etc
Ethan Purser: Living in Georgia, I get the chance to see a lot of amateur talent through PG. I love Daz Cameron and will not budge on that fact. Beau Burrows (TX) was up to 95, but the command was below average (to be expected) and the curveball was weak when I saw him. I loved the arm strength but I'd like to see more of him before I make a firm assessment. Alonzo Jones has crazy speed but I have yet to see him put a charge into a ball. Jalen Miller is an intriguing up-the-middle projection guy. Evan Steele is a big lefty who is 87-90 right now with more in the tank and a hammer for a breaking ball. Might be an interesting pop-up guy around this area. Greg Pickett has enormous raw but I saw him break two bats against below-average velocity on the hands. I'm surely missing some guys who stood out but those were the names that immediately popped into my head. Will address more later in the chat, I'm sure.
Jay (PHX): On a scale from dud to DUDE, where is Ryan Cordell? Are there any red flags with him?
Ethan Purser: I'd say that he's a lower-case dude, but he's a dude nonetheless. For the uninitiated, Cordell was popped by the Rangers in the 11th round of the 2013 draft out of Liberty University. He always intrigued area scouts with his raw tools but was never able to put it together in his three years in college. For context, as a junior hitting in a fairly mediocre conference, Cordell slashed .261/.310/.391. Fast forward to his first full season, and in 89 games between the Sally League and the Carolina League, the 22-year-old posted a .318/.385/.530 line. Cordell will flash all five tools with near top-of-the-charts athleticism. He's a plus runner and is decent in center field and an asset in the corners. When I saw him in July, he had a few susceptibilities at the plate due to a slightly long swing, but he did a good job of sending liners all around the field. I want to see how the bat plays against upper-level arms, as a 22-year-old beating up on pitchers in A-ball isn't particularly noteworthy in and of itself. I have him as a good role 4 player who can provide versatility in the outfield and some pop off the bench. It's a good little scouting find for the Rangers in the 11th round.
CyMature (Cooperstown Retirement Home): Hunter Harvey, Hunter Harvey, how's his elbow?
Surgery or High A next spring?
Ethan Purser: I know as much about the elbow injury as you do, but we'll stay optimistic here and say that he'll be in Frederick next season after a stellar campaign in Delmarva. We'll be sure to have eyes on him if that's the case.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Who looks like the early pick for #1 overall in 2015 draft?
Ethan Purser: Brendan Rodgers, a guy I've yet to see in person. Hoping to get eyes on him in Jupiter. He hit a popup in the PGAAC that had a ~6.8 second hang time. Is that good?
Revision: A lot of folks are screaming Michael Matuella (RHP, Duke) if he maintains his stuff throughout a full season. I received a text saying just that from a source a few minutes ago, so take that for what it's worth.
Sam (Fort Worth): Ethan, thanks for your insights!! What's the story with Rougned Odor? He's batting third against RHP and looks like he's doing pretty well as a 20 year old. Do you think he's for real?? What's his longer term potential?? The BP chats are the best!!
Ethan Purser: I absolutely think he's for real. Role 6 player with a potential plus-plus hit tool and solid grades elsewhere. He's the real deal. He's also 20 years old. Think about that for a second.
Billy (Beantown): Ethan, are you guys at BP still pretty high on Xander Bogaerts?? Were the expectations too high or did MLB pitchers expose some fundamental flaws?? Thanks!!
Ethan Purser: I can (probably) speak for everyone here when I say that we are still high on Bogaerts as a collective. Hitting at the major-league level is hard, especially for a 21-year-old kid. The ceiling is still there, and I'm confident that we will see positive signs of growth from Bogaerts in 2015. As is the case with all prospects, patience is needed. He's still a baby, essentially.
Pumpkin (The Patch): Are you a pumpkin man or in the same camp as Tucker Blair?
Ethan Purser: I enjoy pumpkin flavoring every now and again and can certainly hang during this time of the year, but I'm not going to seek it out in any way. I put a 45 on it.
Colin (WI): Can Michael O'Neill stick in center long term?
Ethan Purser: Ya know, O'Neill was just kind of okay for me. He had some trouble timing up average fastballs in my look despite decent hand speed but displayed a fairly advanced approach at the plate. He is very compact and has sort of a thick, athletic frame but can still register plus or better run times to first. He wasn't bad in the outfield in my look, showcasing the ability to cover plenty of ground out there. As long as the speed holds, I believe he can stick. Ultimately, I think he's more of a AAA/up-and-down guy at the end of the day.
Steven (NYC): Did you get to lay eyes on Keury Mella again after his injury? Thanks for your June report on him.
Ethan Purser: I did not and could not find anyone who did, unfortunately. I'm hoping he comes back fully healthy, as he was one of the most electric arms I saw all year.
Ryan (ATL): Best SS prospect in 2016?
Ethan Purser: I'll cheat and say that Correa is still eligible in 2016, therefore making him the top guy.
Dan (Raleigh, NC): Rome (Braves) seemed utterly bereft of talent this year. If you had to choose one player on that team who had the best chance of cracking the majors, who would it be?
Ethan Purser: You are correct, Rome was pretty barren this season. Johan Camargo started off dreadfully but picked it up as the season progressed and earned a promotion to High-A. I don't think he sticks at shortstop, but he has utility potential if you view him optimistically. The aforementioned Connor Oliver could be a solid 4th outfielder. He has plus speed and can play center field well, and despite a somewhat unconventional swing, he seems to get it done. I like him a little. Tyler Brosius is a good arm who may make it to AAA and pitch some in long relief in a pinch. Brady Feigl is a lefty out of the pen with really good stuff who needs to gain better consistency but absolutely has a shot at as a middle reliever. Not bad for an undrafted arm.
Tom (Outer Space): Reese McGuire, What are your thoughts on him? Defense has always been the trademark, but the bat might be something too.
Ethan Purser: I wrote him up here.
I'm a big fan of McGuire. The defense is legit and the bat has enough projection for him to potentially settle in as a solid-average regular. I'm all in on this kid as a future major leaguer.
Eric V. (Greenville): What are your thoughts on the Greenville pitchers, especially Trey Ball and Teddy Stankiewicz?
Ethan Purser: I missed Ball but heard underwhelming reports. I wrote up Stankiewicz in a Ten Pack.
I liked him a little, but he fit more of a #5/swingman type role for me.
Jordon Gorash (Cubs Twitter): Am I a good opinion haver?
Ethan Purser: You are a great opinion haver, Jordon, and I can't wait to see some AFL action with you. Though you'll probably just be drooling over all the Cubs prospects out there.
James (LA): Any chance Corey Seager sticks at SS? Top 10 prospect next season? top 5?
Ethan Purser: He does not stick at shortstop, in my opinion. Had several looks at the end of the season in Chattanooga. While his hands are generally okay and he can handle balls hit right at him with ease, he lacks the range of a ML shortstop. With that said, he should be above average at third with a plus arm. His bat is legit. Above-average hitter with plus HR pop at the highest level. It's a very enticing package. He's a role 6 player for me. My gut says he'll be around number 10 or so when we line them up this offseason.
cburns (Long Island, NY): What do you make of Brandon Nimmo's progress this year? Does your projection of him change after this past season?
Ethan Purser: I like Nimmo but don't love him. The defense is just okay in center field and the approach is very passive. With that said, it's a solid line-drive stroke and he can live in the gaps when everything is clicking. The move to Double-A certainly exposed some holes in his game, but he should perform better than that when he returns to Binghamton next season. I think he's an average regular at the end of the day.
Jeff (Charlotte): Thanks for the chat. Any under the radar Sally prospects who had breakout seasons to keep any eye on next year?
Ethan Purser: Manuel Margot obviously stands out here, though he's probably not under the radar any more. I only saw about 11 innings total due to him getting injured during my look at Greenville, but it was enough for me to buy into the total package. Ryan McMahon is a definite dude. He'll have to clean up some of the swing and miss in his game, but the raw power is legit, as is his defense at third base. I liked him a lot and put an above-average regular grade on him. Chance Sisco certainly jumped on some radars, but Delmarva was a blind spot for me this season. I already mentioned Eduardo De Oleo as my "under the radar" guy in the Sally League, though his season was anything but a breakout statistically. I'm trying to run through my notes and find guys, so if I'm missing someone, ask me about them specifically.
Nils (Minneapolis): Who's the best RHP prospect in the Twins system? Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, Alex Meyer or someone else? Thanks Ethan!
Ethan Purser: I did not get a look at any Twins affiliates this season, but the reports I've gotten on Berrios have been enormous. The stuff is filthy with a slider that could be a difference maker. Not saying he's the best of the bunch here; again, I didn't get eyes on any of these guys this season. We'll line them up for you this offseason.
Rocky (Laguna Beach): In your amateur looks, were there any concerns you had with the summer tournament/showcase circuit? I've heard horror stories about overuse, with many a sentimet that the summer baseball circuit is a huge factor in the rise in arm injuries (TJ). Do you share these concerns?
Ethan Purser: It's a really nuanced discussion, one that probably doesn't fit very well in this context, but I'll take a stab at it. The summer tourney/showcase circuit is good for getting kids looks from college coaches and scouts. That much isn't up for debate. If you want to play at the next level, playing in these tournaments in front of tons of scouts and recruiting coordinators is one of the best ways to get seen and noticed. With that said, players and coaches have to use common sense when it comes to pitching. The incentive to win tournaments is huge, but endangering young arms by having them throw an exorbitant amount of pitches isn't the best for the player's long-term aspirations. Again, it's about educating coaches, parents, and players.
James (Denver): Did you see Robert Stephenson pitch this year? What do you expect from him in the next couple seasons?
Ethan Purser: I figured Stephenson would come up at some point. Here's the report I wrote on him.
And here's what I wrote about him in the Ten Pack this week.
I love the arm strength and the curveball's potential. The complicating factors at this point are a lack of overall command, underwhelming pitchability, and a below-average changeup. I saw an erratic mid-rotation starting pitcher with a nonzero chance that he ends up as a late-innings bullpen arm. With that said, there is a chance that the command comes around, and if it does, he has a chance to be much more. But I need to see that before I can go any higher on him.
Sam (Philly): JP Crawford's potential? How good of a hitter can he be?
Ethan Purser: I think JP Crawford could be a first-division starter at shortstop with plenty of defense and enough bat for it to matter.
Daniel (Calgary): Did you get to see any Elier Hernandez and Samir Duenez this year in Lexington? Thoughts on them? Also: Dominique Taylor is fire.
Ethan Purser: I did. I wrote up Hernandez here.
Hernandez has the tools to be an above-average corner outfielder but the hit tool underwhelmed in my viewing. Arm-side pitching gives him trouble, especially arms who can spin a decent breaking ball. If I could revise the above report, I'd probably turn him in as a AAA guy realistically. I was a bit optimistic on the realistic role and would adjust downward at this point, though the ceiling remains unchanged.
Duenez was underwhelming. He played an excellent first base, but the swing was slightly long and he struggled to barrel balls up in my viewing. He's very young, however, so I'll likely see him again next season in Low-A after he performed decently in the Pioneer League after being demoted.
Jim (Raleigh ): Best Sally League hitting prospect you saw this year??
Ethan Purser: Give me David Dahl.
Logger (Cabin in the Woods): Do you think Grayson Garvin can be a backend starter? Also favorite Montgomery prospect who most people ignore?
Ethan Purser: I never saw Garvin this season due to his injury, though I know some who like him as a solid 4-5 starter. Justin O'Conner is legit and I think he's slightly undervalued on the national scene. He has the best arm in the minors from behind the plate (he threw out 55% this season!), has good raw pop that is starting to materialize some in game action, and is an overall good defender behind the plate. He's a guy who could have a very productive career after being somewhat undervalued as a prospect.
Jack (Cary): Thoughts on Lucas Sims struggles?
Ethan Purser: I think the upside is unchanged. Every prospect goes through an adjustment phase at some point, and this season seems to have been that for Sims as he addressed some mechanical adjustments. The reports were still very good.
Report from Tucker: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=79
Report from Witt: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=194
Teddy (NYC): Long term projections for Jorge Soler?
Ethan Purser: A plus hitter (.280ish range) with plus or better HR output and right around average defense in right field with an above-average arm. A bat that has impact potential, in my opinion. Again, I'm a sucker for the right field prototype, and Soler certainly fits that mold.
Steven (NYC): I don't know that anyone has gotten you on the record about BP heartthrob Raimel Tapia. Do you love him, or do you adore him?
Ethan Purser: I like him. My look was underwhelming at the beginning of the season, as he was struggling to get his legs under him at the time. I didn't see much in the way of raw pop and his reads/routes weren't very refined in the outfield. With that said, the bat control was evident despite the unconventional setup. I wish I could've gotten a look at him later in the season, as everyone who saw him then likes him a lot. I'm probably lighter on him than most guys around here, but I still like him as a solid role 5 guy at the end of the developmental day.
Dahl was the guy on that squad, in my opinion. I saw a plus hit, plus run, plus defense center fielder with at least average in-game power. That's a very nice package and one that will be very high on my pref list this offseason. I liked McMahon more than Tapia, as well.
Bill (New York): Any prospects that have surprised you (in a good way) in the majors this season?
Ethan Purser: Stroman. Wow, that dude's a monster. I never saw him as a minor leaguer, so that probably leads to some of the surprise. Either way, that's a special arm and a fun guy to watch.
On the negative side, I expected a lot more out of Michael Choice heading into the season and am still a fan of the overall profile despite the negative results this season.
Jack (Cary): Were reports positive in the Danville pitchers? Mainly Grosser and Povse?
Ethan Purser: Grosser is a big-time sleeper in the Braves system that will likely make our Braves Top 10 list (spoiler). He comes from slightly lower than three-quarters and has a bat-missing slider to pair with a potentially plus fastball. The changeup needs work, but the overall profile is quite nice and one to keep an eye on.
Povse is a giraffe who pitches downhill with an above-average fastball and a developing changeup and breaking ball. He was a college selection (third round) but is still only 20 years old.
Ethan Purser: Alright all, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting today. I really enjoyed it, and as a first time chatter, you all set the bar very high for the future. If any of you are going to be out in Arizona for the AFL, let me know so I can say hi at some point. Thanks again.