Perfect Game's Todd Gold is here for his first BP chat. Ask him about pro or amateur prospects (he has seen them all), or about his Before They Were Prospects series running this winter.
Todd Gold: Thanks for joining me. I'm coming off the busiest and most talent condensed stretch of the year between covering one of the top college recruiting events of the fall (WWBA Underclass World Champ), the premiere draft event of the year (Jupiter) and the most heavily condensed collections of pro prospect talent on the planet (Arizona Fall League). There might not be any baseball on your tv again for a while, but prospect season is in full swing at BP and preparations for the 2015 MLB Draft are well under way, let's discuss them both...
Ryan (Toronto): True of False: Marcus Stroman will have a better career than Kevin Gausman (was stronger in their first season statistically, without doubt).
Todd Gold: Good one to start off with. Gausman has a bit more ceiling as his stuff is even louder, but given the big head start that Stroman has in the command department he's the safer bet. Stroman's stuff is plenty strong and he showed veteran command in his first go-round in the big leagues. As much as I like Gausman's potential, I can't pick against what Stroman already offers.
Dave (Phoenix): What's your take on Tyler Kolek? The scouting report is rather obvious: Big body, more thrower than pitcher, elite veto, secondaries lag. What do you see him becoming?
Todd Gold: That's a pretty fair assessment, though I think his slider deserves a bit more credit. There's a huge range of possible outcomes for him. If he stays healthy and maintains the power to his arsenal he has at least a bullpen floor given the plus-plus fastball and future plus slider. Obviously the Marlins hope they can develop him into something more.
CGAnderson (Minneapolis): Any high school prospects you like from the upper Midwest? Here in Minnesota, last year we saw LHP Sam Hentges go in the 4th Round. And just across the river, OF Jeren Kendall was a top-100 prospect, although he went to Vanderbilt. Who do you like this year?
Todd Gold: Good question, and I think Kendall is going to be a hell of a player for Vandy.
If you count Ontario then OF Demi Orimoloye is very intriguing. Let's call him the Canadian Courtney Hawkins. His swing is a bit more raw at the same age but he's a better runner and has made huge improvements over the past year and it looks like he's within striking distance of the first round at this point.
Stateside, Michigan OF Nick Plummer is a guy that is going to get some early round looks as well. He lacks the kind of loud tools you'd typically associate with an early round high school prospect, but makes up for it with precocious on-base skills. One of the best pure hitters in the high school class and he pairs it with average playable power.
Both of these guys are going to have big range of opinions from scouts depending on their taste, as they are very contrasting players. Orimoloye is the raw ingredients guy that you dream on, Plummer already displays valuable skills but doesn't have high end athleticism.
Bryan (Torrance, CA): What are the odds Grant Holmes launches himself into BPs top 10 prospect list end of next season?
Todd Gold: He's already going to make the cut very comfortably in this year's Dodgers top 10 list. As far as where he'll rank overall next year will depend heavily on the how well his stuff translates to the Midwest League and his changeup development.
Jim (Houston): There's quite a bit of negativity out there regarding Nick Williams' swing-and-miss tendencies. What are your thoughts on his future?
Todd Gold: Yes and understandably so. If you only look at what the current on-field product is, it's easy to write Williams off. His plate discipline is a MAJOR hurdle at this point. He doesn't swing and miss at pitches inside the zone, the issue is that he swings at way too many bad pitches, and while he also squares a number of bad pitches up, it's not an approach that will work well as he continues to climb the ladder.
He has absolutely electric tools. While his plate approach is rarely existent, the fact that he's now flashing cognition in the box at all suggests that it's not out of the question he makes enough progress to allow those tools to play. He may just be talented enough to succeed as a bad ball hitter, though the odds are stacked against it.
Perry (Fort Mill, SC): Have you had the pleasure of seeing Jack Flaherty pitch?
Todd Gold: Absolutely. I'm based in Southern California and I saw him four times this spring after a few looks as an underclassman.
Interesting profile. Was a standout third base prospect as well, would flash power in BP but used an opposite field oriented contact approach in games. Not a big velocity guy, the highest I ever saw out of him was 92 and he generally sat 86-89. But he also threw well over 80% strikes, and more were quality strikes at that. He had the best command of any high school arm in the 2014 draft (and 2014 was one of the best years for HS arms in draft history). It wasn't just fastball command either, he had highly advanced feel for the slider as well, and he could drop his soft curveball in for called strikes (and to give hitters an additional pitch to worry about) and fool hitters with a solid changeup.
The ultimate ceiling comes down to how much he develops and realizes his projection. He won't ever need to be a mid 90s guy to be a successful starter, but if he gets there then we could be talking about a valuable asset. More likely he's a mid rotation innings eater, but there is some ceiling here and he's in a good player dev system.
Guest (Arizona): Top high school pitchers for 2016 mlb draft?
Todd Gold: I don't know if 2016 is going to reach the levels of the 2014 draft with it's ridiculous depth of power arms, but it's looking like a possibility at this point.
I have not seen RHP Riley Pint from the KC suburbs, but I have been told very eye opening things about him, often unsolicited...one college coach told me Pint is the best HS arm he's ever seen. I've seen some several videos and I can see what the excitement is about.
I have seen RHP Austin Bergner (FL), and he's the top arm in that class of the guys I've seen. He's recently made the jump to working in the mid 90s and his breaking ball has begun to bite even harder. He's a shorter arm action guy and a surprisingly good athlete for a 6' 5" underclassman and plays a pretty solid shortstop when he's not on the mound.
LHP Jason Groome (NJ) is a ways off developmentally. But he's a lanky 6' 5" who I've seen play catch at 88-90 and projects to be throwing very hard someday. He and Jeff Belge (NY) will be scouted heavily in the northeast in the spring of 2016.
Couple other names to know at this stage: RHP Kevin Gowdy (CA), RHP Greg Veliz (FL)
Pete (Pasco): I live up here in Massachusetts and had the chance to watch the lowell spinners a few times. What's your take on Nick Longhi, he looked good in the games he played.
Todd Gold: I think the Red Sox got a huge bargain in the 30th round on him. He had a disappointing senior season in HS and his commitment to LSU combined with being locked to 1B suppressed his draft interest. But he was one of the top performers in terms of in-game power on the national showcase circuit (facing high velocity pitching) during the summer prior and was a constant standout during his underclass days. I think the power is going to start showing up more and more frequently in games and as he gets healthy and I think 2015 could be a big year for him as he should finally make his full-season debut. He score high marks in the makeup department and he's a nice sleeper in that org.
Gabe Ortiz (Yuma, AZ): Hey Todd,
Which schools standout or surprise you with their signings thus far? Hope all is well.
AX725 stopwatch is glorious! recommend the switch if you haven't already.
Todd Gold: Always great to hear from Gabe, who does a great job scouting for Perfect Game when he's not coaching at his day job. I think the best time to evaluate college recruiting classes is at the MLB Draft signing deadline rather than just after National Letter of Intent signing period opens. As it stands now I love Florida State's class because they have the best player in the class in Brendan Rodgers. Of course, he's almost certainly going to be a top 10 pick in the draft and won't be going to school (though I did really like what I saw out of another one of their commits LHP Tyler Holton, who they are much more likely to get on campus than Rodgers).
If I have to choose a class that stands out most right now I'd go with Vanderbilt. They'll certainly lose some impact to the draft, but they have so much quantity of quality that whichever guys that they actually end up getting to campus will be very talented. The rich get richer...
fabiopao (Italy): what's your take on Jakson Reetz? where do you see him in 5 years? thanks
Todd Gold: I really liked the Nats snagging him in the third round. I thought he was the type of player that a team who took a safer college performer in the first round would be happy to grab with their second pick. He's raw and will move slowly, but there's a ton of power hidden in there. Given how much work he needs offensively I don't think that trying to keep him behind the plate is a viable option and I think he profiles best in RF. That lowers the upside, but ultimately is the most realistic fit. It would be a mild, pleasant surprise if he was ready for the majors in five years, but it's not out of the question. We'll have to be patient but there's a strong reward potential.
Larry (Tulsa): How much do you think makeup affects a player's ability to reach his potential?
Todd Gold: Makeup and injury are the two biggest factors as to whether a player reaches his ceiling or his floor.
OB1KENOBI (Tampa): Vincent Velasquez what the ceiling on him and when can we expect to see him in the majors?
Todd Gold: I can't go higher than a mid rotation ceiling given that the command is not likely to reach plus levels, but I think there's a decent chance he'll throw enough quality strikes to remain a starter. The stuff is quite loud and will allow him to succeed in some sort of a role if he stays healthy, even if it's not in the rotation. I think 2016 is probably the earliest we can expect to see him in the big leagues, but 2017 is more likely. More importantly for now; he looked healthy in the AFL after missing time in the middle of the season.
Jerry (Twin Citys): When should we expect to see Nik Birdi up in the Twins bullpen?
Todd Gold: I think 2014 5th rounder Jake Reed beats him there. Burdi needs to develop at least some control before he's ready.
Nathan (West Lafayette): Polanco or Soler...who has the better career?
Todd Gold: I'll go with Polanco even though I like Soler's upside better. Soler's injury history makes him riskier and Polanco has plenty of upside himself.
Ryan (Ann Arbor): Todd, will our great state of Michigan finally get its first 1st round hs player in Nick Plummer come June?
Todd Gold: Maybe. Being a plus runner/athlete is generally an unwritten prerequisite to being a first round pick as a high school outfielder, and Plummer doesn't fit the bill there. The hit tool and approach are so good that I think there's a chance that someone pulls the trigger on him in the first round even though it's an atypical profile.
Todd Gold: Thanks for stopping by and joining me today. Especially to those of you who submitted questions, there were some really good ones.