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Chat: Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday December 16, 2014 7:00 PM ET chat session with Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen.


As we pass the midway point of Top 10s season, Chris is here to answer all your questions.

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Rambo, John J: elite resourcefulness; capable of impacting the game in multiple ways - weapons, hand-to-hand, vehicles; ++ accuracy; well above-average pain tolerance; will take matters into own hands; HOF caliber player.

Mike (Minneapolis): Hey Chris, what's the likely assignment for Miguel Sano this year?? Does he make it to the majors for a cup of coffee?? Thanks for your insights!!

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Sano should be set for a return to Double-A (after missing all of last season). There were definitely some things for him to iron out at the level prior to the injury, especially when it comes to handling breaking balls and cutting down on the amount of chases out of the zone. I see a good chance that he does get a cup of coffee in the majors this coming season if he can prove that he's zoning in on being a bit more selective within his strike zone.

Jake H (Kansas Cuty): What made you blow up Molina on the Yankees list?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Despite performance that suggested that Leonardo Molina was over his head in the GCL (and what 16-year-old isn't going to be?), the reports on the player from sources were pretty glowing. We're talking about a potential five-tool player, with strong potential to stick up the middle and an early feel for playing the game. The outcome can be pretty big. Maybe even bigger than what's reflected in his Top 10 write up. There's obviously a ton of risk involved and a large variability in outcome, but it felt right based on what sources were telling me to push him into the Top 10 of the system.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Most surprising system so far (negative or positive)?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I will tell you that so far I've had the most fun going through the Marlins system and really diving down into that one. There's been some moves that have impacted it since we've run that one earlier in the cycle, but I just found it interesting overall. Yeah, the impact talent potential isn't really there right now, but there are some intriguing players within it that surprised me in the aspect that there may be more than initially meets the eye.

Bill (Beirut): Alfaro vs. Swihart. Where do you stand?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I'm a Swihart guy, and if you've followed my prospect work for a while that answer shouldn't be surprising. I have a long history scouting the player since he signed with Boston. It's been pretty impressive how far he's come as a player since those early days to now sitting on the cusp of the majors. I see him being a good one over the course of his career. First-division type player at his peak.

I've had a chance to watch Alfaro on multiple occasions as well, and the hit tool is a concern for me. I haven't gotten the best feeling that it's going to translate enough for everything to really play up offensively.

Paul (DC): A little suprised that Dalton Pompey was only 3rd on the Blue Jays list. But Sanchez has the stuff if he can put it all together and I guess Norris as a lefty rising through 4 levels in one season like Pompey is nothing to sneeze at. All that being said, what sort of floor and ceiling are we looking at the Toronto's centerfielder of the almost present?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: We debated a lot on the ordering of Pompey, Sanchez, and Norris. We agreed they were the Top 3 prospects within the system, but it came down to evaluator preference in for everyone's suggested ordering. In the end, based on what I've seen, the feedback from the team, and talking with sources, the officially released rankings felt right.

As for your question specifically in regards to Pompey, I see a floor as a fourth outfielder over the long-term career as reasonable and a ceiling as a first-division caliber player. He's going to provide value to a roster given the defense and base running ability even if the bat plays down a bit from the projections.

GoTribe06 (Lynchburg, VA): Henry Owens or Hunter Harvey?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Harvey. I love the arm and what he brings to the table. The fastball/curveball combination are nasty, while I believe the changeup is going to continue to take steps forward. Owens can certainly be a valuable pitcher within a rotation, but from what I have seen from both players Harvey has the chance to really bring some impact and potentially pitch up near the front of a rotation.

Paul (Jersey): BP seems especially high on TB's Adrian Rondon despite the young age. What can you tell us about him that isn't already in the top 10 write up?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: The hit tool is fairly advanced for his age. I went back through his top 10 write up, and while I hint at it, that statement isn't directly made. From all of the reports passed along, Rondon has very lively hands and the type that bode well for explosive contact. I'll also add that he has the kind of body and frame that can back on some good muscle as he gets into his early-20s to bring an element of power into his game.

David (The Middle of Here): Robert Stephenson, Tyler Glasnow, Jose Berrios...rank them by upside and by likelihood of reaching potential (please!). Thanks.

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Upside: Stephenson, Glasnow, Berrios. Likelihood: Glasnow, Stephenson, Berrios.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Same question I asked Nick: We know Kevin Goldstein loved second basemen who could hit, and Jason Parks had a collection of prospect markers that always caught his eye (Texans, Venezuelan shortstops, etc.). What archetypes do you especially favor?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: This is a really good question:

I'm a big one for players who make it look natural or easy, whether it a position player or pitcher. You'll probably notice that I tend to highlight things like "loose hands", "easy delivery", "effortless," and what-have-you in my reports. I definitely tend to favor those type of players and gravitate towards them.

Nomar Mazara is one who comes to mind as an example. When you watch him swing it is just so effortless and easy. It's tough really put into words, but the stroke just kind of looks like to be barely moving and then suddenly the ball explodes off the bat with such a distinct sound. It gets my attention.

Jquinton82 (ny): If time isn't an issue, do you draft urias or draft kolek and play the waiting game with his upside?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I'd draft Urias. The stuff is incredibly advanced for his age. When I watched him pitch out in Arizona this last spring he looked like a 22-23 year-old on the hill in terms of where his stuff was. Better than a lot players in that age range that I see. It's pretty impressive. He's going to be a good one.

chiefs1 (Brooklyn, NY): Please rank these Costner movies: Bull Durham, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Dances With Wolves, The Bodyguard, JFK, Field of Dreams, Water World, Wyatt Earp

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Costner is an obvious HOF'er. The interesting thing about his career is that he came out pretty strong, hit a bit of a lull, and has surged again later in his career. Loved his performance in The Hatfield and McCoys.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Bull Durham
Field of Dreams
Water World
Wyatt Earp
Dances with Wolves

The Bodyguard

Sandy (Wisconsin): Can Kyle Schwarber stick at C? How good is his bat?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: If "sticking" is being a guy who can handle 125-ish games behind the plate, then I don't see that. Nick and I have talked a lot about it, and we both feel that's a big stretch for him. It's probably more of a defensive profile that's going to move off the position, but potentially have the versatility on his resume. As for the bat, the peak output can be pretty solid. I don't think we're talking about a potential middle-of-the-order threat, but as someone who can hit 5th or 6th in a deeper lineup sounds achievable.

OBPplusSLG (Cincinnati): Is Chris Davis the best case scenario for Joey Gallo? Can Gallo make enough contact at higher levels for his power to play? Maybe a better question is can Gallo attain 2012 Chris Davis levels or merely 2014 Chris Davis?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I've had a chance to see Gallo over the last couple of seasons and have felt that his hit tool gets a bit underrated. This isn't a player who is going to hit .300 in my opinion, but he shows more when it comes to adjusting to the path of the ball and keeping his hands inside of offerings. The thing is that the extension and leverage are so huge that there are inevitably going to be holes in certain spots. On the plus side, he was much more relaxed and had more of a plan at the plate this past season than the one before. That first year in A-Ball, it seemed like he was swinging for the sake of swinging and felt like he could hit everything regardless of where it was.

As for your direct question (as opposed to my ramblings), I'm optimistic that Gallo can attain something along those 2012 levels you referenced, with a bit better on-base ability. I do see that he can have up-and-down seasons, where the average can fluctuate, but better overall than the referenced 2014 Chris Davis.

Drew (Rockford, IL): Did Lewis Thorpe make a significant jump/improvement this year?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I'm not sure I'd call it significant, but he definitely took a step forward developmentally this year and showed to be a bit ahead of previous expectations in terms of placement. He shows good feel for the craft at an early age. It's going to be about continuing to build arm strength, repetition, and seeing how the physical development plays out in the next couple of seasons. His place within the Twins top 10 will be secure.

Cliff (NY): What are scouts saying about Amed Rosario?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Some highlights: strong potential to stick at shortstop; athletic actions; good instincts for the game; quick hands; ability to grow into some power; raw present defensive fundamentals; swing can get a little long and loose; high upside.

Jake (Philly): Kolek or Rodon longterm?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Rodon

FireFredi (Atlanta): Where does Tyrell Jenkins rate in the Braves top 10?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I'd have to really dissect it (and will given that list will need to be updated for print release), but I'll say the early feel would be somewhere in that 3-6 range.

Ryan (Aurora): Who has the best group of young starting pitching prospects?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: For sheer volume of arms in the lists we have done so far, Toronto's stick out. Sanchez, Norris, and Hoffman are a pretty good start right there. From the reports and chatter, Jairo Labourt is a player I feel can really breakout and gain some good traction in 2015. Miguel Castro is a legit power arm that's realistically a 'pen guy, but can really bring it.

Reid-Foley, Osuna, Tirado, and add in Smoral from the OTR section. Volatility for sure overall, but busting at the seams with arms.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Rafael Devers the Red Sox 3B of the future?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Way too early for that talk in my opinion. I'm obviously high on him and have liked what I have seen from him, but there's a ways to go with the overall game. He has a fighting chance to stick at the hot corner in my opinion, but very well may end up on the other side of the diamond. The early qualities of a future major-leaguer are there and definitely a rising prospect to be excited about for sure though.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Rafael Devers the Red Sox 3B of the future?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Way too early for that talk in my opinion. I'm obviously high on him and have liked what I have seen from him, but there's a ways to go with the overall game. He has a fighting chance to stick at the hot corner in my opinion, but very well may end up on the other side of the diamond. The early qualities of a future major-leaguer are there and definitely a rising prospect to be excited about for sure though.

Jimmy (Houston): Thanks for the chat, Chris!! What impact, if any, does the Jed Lowrie signing have on the arrival of Carlos Correa?? Any estimate of when we will see him in Houston??

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: You are welcome, Jimmy! I appreciate all of the interest and great questions from you all!

I don't think any because if a player like Correa is ready to play in the bigs, especially hit, then you find a spot for him in the lineup. It usually ends up working out. Lowrie also hasn't been the most durable of players over the course of his career.

Give me a September call-up for Correa this season.

Festivus313 (Pittsburgh): I know you like Margot, but what range is reasonable for him in a top 101? I heard someone make a case for him in the late 20s but I was thinking late 40s to 60s. What say you?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Somewhere in the back half is reasonable for me. I'll say 51-69 as a first pass.

Jesse (Los Angeles): Are the Mets a Top 5 system in your estimation? Where would you put them?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Tough to say without having finished all of the systems and then being able to take a step back to evaluate everything as a whole. They've been one of the stronger ones we have released so far. Ranked 8th last season, and I'd have an "up" arrow next to that.

richardkr34 (Minneapolis, MN): If one player would be Arnold's character (Dutch) from Predator, who would it be? Who would be Carl Weather's character (Dillion)? Who would be the lithe S. American woman/prisoner?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I'll give Byron Buxton the nod as Dutch. He's that type of talent who can control the game and outsmart even the most lethal of hunters in the Universe. Mookie Betts is Dillon for me. Initially, I was just lukewarm on Betts, much like the viewer is with Dillon at the beginning of Predator, especially after he uses Dutch's team to "get the job done." I didn't really trust it with Betts at first, but like Dillon by the end you are fully on board. As for the S. American woman, I am thinking Albert Almora. The performance hasn't really matched the tools, kind of like how she pretended she didn't know English and was holding back, but made it to the chopper and ended up beating everyone's expectations by surviving. That's a compliment for Almora as I'm big on him being a good major-leaguer.

NatsGM (Maryland): #Diesel Thanks for having this chat and terrific work on the Top Prospect lists. What are your thoughts on Chris Bostick and Abel De Los Santos, the 2 prospects involved in the Ross Detwiler deal? Also, why did BP favor Henry Owens over the biggest sleeper prospect in the minors, Manuel Margot?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Thank you sir!

As for your first question, the esteemed Tucker Blair summed up the two prospects nicely in this Transaction Analysis: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25201

As for your second question, there was some thought given to placing Margot ahead of Owens in Boston's top 10. There was some support for it within the team and I toyed with it. However, there's still enough of a gap with the bat despite what he showed in the first tour in the Carolina League and Owens can end up a solid mid-rotational starter in this view. Based on the snap shot in time, Owens was ahead by a little bit of margin.

Prison Mike (Chicago): What do you make of Steven Souza in Was? It seems such a waste to regulate him and Taylor to the 4th/5th OF roles. What do you see as Souza's ceiling given he gets a chance to play.

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I think he can be a regular in the right situation. There are some concerns about the bat potentially being exposed some over the long-haul due to the nature of the swing and whether he can adjust to the really good quality stuff. It may be more of a bat off the bench, but worth giving an extended look if there is a way it fits within the construct of the team to see exactly what he can do.

DaleCoffin (Windsor): Where would Leonardo Molina be ranked if he was in the 2015 Rule 4 draft? Ahead or behind the top outfielders there.

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Tough to really gauge that, but I'll go out on a limb and say a potential first-rounder.

Chopper (Indy): Chris- Can you tell me the ETAs for Alfaro in Texas and Peraza in Atl? Also, what type of ceiling do you project for Tim Anderson of the White Sox? Thanks!

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Multiple part question here!

Peraza: Late 2015
Alfaro: Outside shot at 2015

Tim Anderson: High 6; first-division player/occasional all-star

Rob (CA): What type of year do you expect from Nomar Mazara at AA? Can he force a call up to Texas? Does his power play in MLB immediately? Or will he struggle to make consistent contact?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: I see it overall having the potential to be a successful one, but would expect things to be uneven at times. All the talent and potential are there for Mazara to develop into a good one down the line. The thing right now that I will look for is how well (and quickly) he can adjust at Double-A the second and third time through. Pitchers are likely going to figure out that Mazara can be overly aggressive. If he shows he can mitigate that aspect and is trending towards settling things down a bit, then I see can see him making even more waves this coming season.

We're probably a year early on talking major-leagues. The power, in my opinion, is more likely to crest over the course of his early career as he finds his footing. He's not a home run hitter and is more of a player that is going to hit home runs because he makes consistent hard contract, with natural loft in the swing. So, yes, I do think there will be some lead time on consistently making contact at the highest level, but things at peak can be very, very big.

Morrsco (Atlanta): Dylan Bundy's numbers in his limited innings last year didn't look encouraging. How is his stuff coming back from surgery and has his ceiling decreased?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Tucker Blair had this report on Bundy during the season: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=174

Reports from later in the season were pretty in line as well and universal that the stuff is not quite at previous levels, but in the process of coming back and got better as he logged more time last year. We don't know if it will fully return, but based on what we know about the player's work ethic and makeup its likely this offseason is going to be productive for him. We had his OFP at a High 7 and in line with the previous overall assessment.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Chris, Let's give Lucas Giolito a grade of 100 as a pitching prospect. Does anyone rate higher or if not, how closely would the next few prospects rate compared to Giolito?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Giolito definitely has the highest upside of any pitcher in the minors. He can round into a true force to be reckoned with. A power pitcher with both the stuff and mentality to make the elusive "no. 1" tag a reality. I wouldn't have anyone higher, but arms like Syndergaard, Urias, Bundy, Gray, etc. aren't too far behind when factoring everything in.

Jake H (Kansas City): If Jorge Mateo goes to Charleston and really performs do you think he shoots up top 100 lists based on his tool package?

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: We were aggressive with Mateo despite limited action due to injury as the reports from the GCL and Fall Instructs were pretty strong. If he goes to full-season and shows that the hit tool is up to the challenge over the entire year, mainly that he's there with consistently squaring offerings up, then yes, I see him shooting up. I'm expecting him to gain a lot more traction in 2015 and challenge up at the front of the system this time next year.

Top 10s Chat With Chris Mellen: Alright. I wish we could do this all night, but alas it is time to make the exit. 4 and a half hours is a good baseline to push past with the next one. Thanks for all of the great questions, and sorry to leave many more in the tank. We'll do this again soon! Back to the Top 10s and 101...

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