Kevin Goldstein tracks the prospects in "Future Shock."
Kevin Goldstein: Hi everyone and welcome to Free Week! Catchy name, huh? Kevin Goldstein here to chat with your about prospects, the draft, and of course ramdon cutlural tidbits. I have about two hours to give you this week due to a 3pm appointment, so let's get going.
Ed (Chicago): Last September, you wrote up Sergio Romo in a Ten Pack, describing his arsenal as "the kind of combination that stops working at the upper levels." Joe S. just tagged him as a pitcher to watch for the balance of '08. Do you still stand by last year's assessment or do you think he can continue to succeed in SF?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he'll succeed. Not in a late inning role mind you, but as a solid but unspectacular big league reliever.
Jack (Boston): Brock Huntzinger has been putting up video game numbers in Lowell. Is there any chance he will be promoted to Greenville before the year is up?
Kevin Goldstein: What's the rush? He's doing very well for sure, and maybe you do it, but it's no crime to let him just dominate for now and build for his full-season debut.
sanchez101 (santa barbara): Can you tell us anything about Austin Gallagher and Andrew Lambo in the Dodgers system? Both guys have some nice numbers, what do the scouts say? It seems odd that as a 19 years old in high-A Gallagher hasnt got much attention. Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: Gallagher is a pretty interesting prospect who is hitting at High-A as a teenager, but his raw power remains raw only, his approach is poor, and he's not a third baseman. Like him, but don't love him. Lambo is kind of in the same category. He's the best hitter at Great Lakes, but that's not saying a ton, and as a first baseman, looking like a good hitter isn't enough, you have to look like a real impact guy.
Mark (Baltimore): Can Adam Loewen become the next Rick Ankiel or is his career over?
Kevin Goldstein: I think Rick Ankiel is a very unique situatino, and to expect any of these conversion guys (Loewen, Bogusevic, etc.) is to expect a bit much. That said, Loewen was an outstanding hitter as an amatuer, and would have been a high draft pick even if he never took the mound. There's a chance certainly, but it's not a huge one.
Brandon Wood (Salt Lake): Are you in the least bit impressed by my performance of late? Cutting down the Ks, hitting for some average...
Kevin Goldstein: I am. Scouts have always seen Wood as just a few adjustments from really taking off, and maybe this is it.
Tiger Death House (Boston): With Michael Almanzar's promotion to Greenville as a 17-year old, where can we expect to see him beginning the year in 2009, especially with Will Middlebrooks poised to start the year at Greenville? It can't be good for these two bigtime prospects to split time at third, can it?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, I don't think you'll see either of them starting next year in High-A -- that's just crazy talk. Almanzar is looking like a very special bat however.
Izzy (DC): Hey Kevin, could you tell me what's wrong with Deolis Guerra?
Kevin Goldstein: Just has never thrown as hard as advertised. Changeup is very good, I find it hard to project him as more than a back-end rotation guy at this point. Unimpressed.
Michael Iona (???????): Where am I right now?
Kevin Goldstein: In the Dominican.
Rick (ATL): I'm curious to hear your thoughts on Freddie Freeman, and while you're at it, Jason Heyward. Heyward was the more highly regarded guy coming into this season, but Freeman is putting up even better numbers and is the same age. I can see downgrading him because of his defensive position, but does he look like a star in the making ala Heyward?
Kevin Goldstein: Freeman is a very real prospect. He's not in Heyward's leage, but few are. Scouts love the swing and project him as a very good big league hitter.
Big Steve (St. Louis): Tim Beckham is hitting 190 /.254 /.206.
Too early to declare a bust?
Kevin Goldstein: He's a total bust. Horrible player. Just like when Derek Jeter hit .202/.281/.312 in the Gulf Coast League after getting draft. What a bust. Or when Chipper Jones hit .229/.271/.321 when he was draft. Total bust! The guy has played 19 games. Deep breaths people.
BrowningNagle (Louisville, KY): What is the ultimate ceiling of Engel Beltre? He is absolutely murdering right handers. Is he along the mold of a Grady Sizemore (less some power)?
Kevin Goldstein: Wow -- long time no see Browning. Beltre's ultimate ceiling is off the charts. I haven't seen a player in the Midwest League who can match him on a pure tools level. That said, he has about 2% of Grady Sizemore's approach, and that has to change -- luckily he's get plenty of time.
denny187 (WI): What's the over/under on when Brett Lawrie makes the major leagues? I only ask because he predicted a year and a half.
Kevin Goldstein: Take the over. High school kid, Canadian (hasn't played as much as a kid from California, for example), learning how to be a catcher.
Rick (New York): Do you see Jesus Montero sticking at catcher or will he have to move to 1st base down the line?
Kevin Goldstein: I've said it before, but I don't know a single person not receiving a paycheck from the Yankees who thinks he can stay at catcher. The good news is: everybody thinks he can hit.
Jason (Cincy): Kevin, What are your thoughts for Neftali Soto long-term, does he stick at 3B? How impressive has been thus far?
Kevin Goldstein: He's been crazy impressive. I was able to recently speak to a scout who saw him at Dayton and he said he just really stood out on that team. The bat is outstanding, he has good power potential, but he does need to improve defensively. That said, on a tools level, he fits well at 3rd, because the arm is outstanding.
Ed (Chicago): Between Wieters at C and Jones in CF, flanked by Markakis, one can envision the makings of a competitive Orioles franchise based on a solid up-the-middle foundation. I have no loyalty to the O's, but it would be a lot of fun to someday see a 5-team divisional dogfight in which every team finished with between 87 and 93 wins. Possible?
Kevin Goldstein: Possible. I really think the O's are on the brink of something. I'm not sure it's greatness, but it's certainly goodness in my mind.
oira61 (San Francisco): A philosophical question: I usually root for the Wes Bankstons and Scott McClains rather than the Tim Beckhams. I like to see guys who have had to really work hard make it to the bigs because they appreciate it. That said, Wes Bankstons rarely turn into Olmedo Saenzs -- usually they're only around a few weeks or months as replacement players. Do you root against these guys because they're taking up space that could be used by a "real" prospect? Or do you also find some joy in their occasional success?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't really root AGAINST anyone -- and like you, I love a good story when a guy sticks it out and gets there late. That said, I think you are underestimating the guy that gets there in two years. That guy probably worked really hard as well, it just came together for him faster because he had more talent. I can think of a ton of players with a ton of talent who didn't work and never got there.
denobc ((Oxford, OH)): Henry Rodriguez...Future in the bullpen or starter?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he'll work out much better as a true shutdown reliever.
Rob (Brighton): Just curious, when you look at a minor leaguer's numbers, are there certain stats that get more weight than others? Or is it one of those things where just about everything needs to be put into context for it to have value?
Kevin Goldstein: I think it's very player specific, depending on where he his and what he projects as. There's no absolute in that answer and I weight stats very different for pretty much every guy.
Rob (Bloomington, IL): Thoughts on Jeff Samardzija and his recent run in AAA?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm baffled by it, but unfortunately, I've yet to hook up with a scout who has seen the AAA run yet. Until then I'm unconvinced, but certainly intrigued.
Howard (NJ): Kevin, are you on the Wilmer Flores bandwagon? He's just a youngster but generating some excitement for the prospect started Mets.
Kevin Goldstein: I'm the only guy (I think) who had him in his Mets prospect rankings coming into the season, and I had him at No. 4. So I built the bandwagon.
PSzucs (Toronto): Of any of the top picks, are there any who seem like the most likely scenario is that they're not going to sign, or is it going to be like last year?
Kevin Goldstein: They're all going to sign, but it's probably not going to be until right at the deadline. Basically if you look at last year, who got the big money? The guys who waited it out. So what are the top guys going to do? Wait it out.
DaveKavanagh (Dublin, Ireland): Hi, Kevin. Thanks for the chat. You mentioned recently that you tend to grade everything in your life on the 20--80 scale and that Bo Jackson was one of the few prospects to have had three 80-rated tools, so what's the Bo Jackson of albums? (Pick your own tools, such as sheer quality, impact, uniqueness, longevity, &c.)
Kevin Goldstein: 80 Albums, wow. The Clash - Sandanista. Big Black -- Songs About *****. The Pixies -- Surferosa. I'm sure there are many, many more. Those just came to mind.
Mike (Florida): What do you think of Nick Barnese so far? Based on his success so far, could be have the potential of Jake McGee (pre-injury)and Jeremy Hellickson?
Kevin Goldstein: No, but that doesn't mean I don't like him. He's just not the some kind of power arm that McGee is, and while he has very good command and control, it's not elite like Hellickson's. That said, I really do like him plenty.
Neftali Feliz (Frisco, Texas): Surprised by my domination of the Texas League thus far?
Kevin Goldstein: Nope.
Kevin Goldstein (Alternate Universe): If I wasn't a writer at BP, I'd be....
Kevin Goldstein: 1. Writing about video games
2. Owning and operating a bar
3. Making a crapload of cash by still doing executive-level technology stuff for some Internet company while my soul continues to erode.
Aaron (YYZ): Disgaea DS or FF Tactics A2?
Kevin Goldstein: Look, it's Disgaea over EVERYTHING, and ALWAYS.
Clonod (St. Louis): Would you say that Willie Mays is a good comp for Colby Rasmus.
Kevin Goldstein: Comparing anyone to Willie Mays is ridiculous. Don't do that.
PSzucs (Toronto): What changed for Max Scherzer between this year and last?
Kevin Goldstein: He found his velocity.
Mitch (Miami): Is it bad that I always consufe Joe Sheehan with Will Carroll?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm the bald one. Oh wait, so are they. I'm the overweight one. Oh wait . ..
Doug (SD): Will there ever be another good MLB video game? I miss MVP...the college baseball is decent, but doesn't have the same pull. I can't stand Japanese animated games either, so don't say Power Pros.
Kevin Goldstein: Power Pros.
lazybum (univ. near you): which is a better use of time...scientific research or baseball chats? i'm looking for some words of motivation to do my job.
Kevin Goldstein: What's the research on -- chances are this is a far better use of your time, but keep working so you can keep subscribing to BP and buy our books.
Taylor Teagarden (OKC): No one questions my defensive abilities on the field, but will I hit enough to be a decent offensive catcher in the Bigs?
Kevin Goldstein: OKC? You're in the big leagues, baby! I compared him to kinda a Mickey Tettleton type with defensive chops, and I still like that.
lpiklor (Chicago): Hiya Kevin... what's going on with Ross Detwiler?
Kevin Goldstein: Nothing good. Scouts say he's pretty much nothing like the pitcher he was at college. It's a bit of a mystery but he's been awful. Speaking of awful 2007 first-round pitchers -- reviews of Pittsburgh's Daniel Moskos have been downright embarassing.
chico (Alphabet City): Vitters hasn't been in the boise lineup since friday... Any issue/reason to worry that inquiring minds should be aware of? Or should we just relax and be happy with his recent performance?
Kevin Goldstein: Relax and be happy. He twisted his ankle last week -- nothing serious, just some swelling and soreness and he should be back soon. If I was Will Carroll I'd have pictures and medical mumbo jumbo for you, but I'm not Will, so I can only say twisted ankle.
Chadale (Toronto): 80 Albums: Tool - Aenima, At The Drive In - Relationship of Command
Kevin Goldstein: No Tool album is more than a 45.
dogtothedog (Toronto): Did you like Toronto's first round pick, what do your project him to be ultimatly?
Kevin Goldstein: Big, big, big David Cooper fan. Middle of the order first baseman for me. Dude can MASH.
Steve (ND): Favorite video game of all time?
Kevin Goldstein: Xenogears.
PSzucs (Toronto): 80 Albums - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Revolver, Rubber Soul, The White Album, Please Please Me, Let It Be, Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour - amirite?
Kevin Goldstein: You're asking the wrong guy. I hate the Beatles.
Fred (Chicago): Do you think Andrew Cashner becomes a reliever or starter for the Cubbies?
Kevin Goldstein: They're going to begin his career as a starter, but I recently bet a burrito with somebody that he's a reliever again by the time he reaches the big leagues.
denny187 (WI): In a radio interview yesterday Doug Melvin said the Brewers had some prospects that were untouchable. If LaPorta wasn't, who is?
Kevin Goldstein: Mat Gamel, Alcides Escorbar and Jeremy Jeffress from what I can tell.
mars2001 (Denver): What are your thoughts on Steven Strasburg? Is he 1:1 for the 2009 Draft? Could he end up rising through a farm system like Lincecum did and whose farm system would you guess that would be?
Kevin Goldstein: Love him; yes; yes; Padres.
Steve (Jordan Danks Fan Club): Do you think Danks will sign with the White Sox or go back for his Senior year at Texas?
Kevin Goldstein: He's going to sign for around half a million as the deadline gets closer.
Eric (Chicago): What are your thoughts on BIG Brandon Allen. The kid took David Price DEEP TWICE IN THE SAME GAME!!! So, Allen, future regular?
Kevin Goldstein: Best sleeper in the White Sox system, and COULD maybe develop into an every day guy.
Kool (konami-land): Ever play Poy Poy for original PS... Now THAT was a game.
Kevin Goldstein: It's no chu-chu rocket. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga62uiXbEjI
bill (nj): is it ok that i love me some grant green in 09? close second to big steve or distant second?
Kevin Goldstein: I love me some Grant Green as well, but the SoCal shortstop is a top five pick, which is great, but not in Strasburg's rarified air.
jlebeck66 (WI): Ben Revere is fun to watch here in Beloit, but is his game going to translate to the upper levels?
Kevin Goldstein: I really think it is. That guy can just plain hit, and if you've seen him (I see you are in Wisconsin, so I hope you have), you know that he's just not some tiny slap hitter, he drives the ball and gets leverage in a way that kind of reminds me of Erick Aybar.
Jarrad (Ri): Any idea when the eyes are dotted and the tees are crossed in the westmoreland and hissey contracts? And whats the percentage we see alex meyer inked?
Kevin Goldstein: MLB is making teams wait on big above-slot bonus to non-multi-sport guys. You're not going to see announcement until we get MUCH closer to the deadline.
Steve (Now the Alex White Fan Club): Speaking of betting a burrito...I bet that Alex White has a better MLB career than Stephen Strasburg. Accept?
Kevin Goldstein: Accept. I'll even give you odds.
James (Stamford, Texas): Any concern Smoak doesn't sign?
Kevin Goldstein: No. He's just waiting it out like everyone else, and he wants to see what guys like Alonso and Beckham get, because he feels like he's in their neighborhood.
Jason O. (New York): So Disgaea and Xenogears are 80 video games. Any others?
(Also: no Zach McAllister love? By anyone? At all?)
Kevin Goldstein: Portal. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. Persona 3. Katamari Damacy. Chrono Cross. Silent Hill 2. Shenmue.
Nathaniel (VA): I called Jesse English the most underrated prospect in baseball coming into the year, and he's responded with a breakout in the Cal League this year. Any thoughts on him?
Kevin Goldstein: I'll take 24 year old lefties dominating A-level hitters for $400, Alex.
Josh (outside Providence): Where can we expect Michael Bowden to rate next year in the top 100?
Kevin Goldstein: I haven't thought much about an overall top 100 of later, but my gut tells me in the first quarter of it.
albert2b (NYC): What are your thoughts on Jordan Walden? Is it me or does it seem like he gets overlooked whenever people talk about the best pitching prospects in the game?
Kevin Goldstein: I certainly really like him.
Derek Holland (Bakersfield): Am I for real, or is the Scott Kazmir upside just hype?
Kevin Goldstein: I'm a big Holland believer, but did somebody really compare him to Kazmir? That's just silly talk. Put it this way, Holland just got to High-A (and he's dominated), and he turns 22 in October. At 22, Kazmir was entering his third year in the big leagues. Get excited, but don't get silly.
Russ (Chicago): Thoughts on Nick Weglarz? Seems like he has started to turn a corner recently.
Kevin Goldstein: He has deifinitely turned a corner as Cleveland has been trying to get a hitch/trigger out of his swing and now you see the results. He'll be dissapearing soon to mash for the Canadian olympic team, but I remain very high on him.
Jose Ceda (Tennessee): Am I a future all star closer?
Kevin Goldstein: I think so. Big fan of that arm.
David (Sonoma State University, CA): When DePo was with LA, he was accused of not being media friendly. Now he's got that fan friendly blog for SD. Thoughts?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, I also think that a nice-sized chunk of the media set their targets on him the moment he arrived there, and I'm hardly a DePo apologist. He got the shaft for sure, but I'm not convinced that he did a good job (nor a bad one).
Dae Eun Rhee (Peoria): Chan Ho Park is my idol. Do you think I have that kind of potential? I must say that I do have a projectable body.
Kevin Goldstein: I wrote about him last week, with quotes from a scout. Check the archives, it's Free Week!
Al (Charlestown): Any thoughts on Michael Saunders (SEA)? Can he still be a decent starting OFer in MLB?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he could be better than decent, actually.
Laharl (Netherworld): Etna or Flonne?
Kevin Goldstein: Etna, but a considerable margin.
Andrew (Nueva York): Mike Rizzo: Future succesful GM or Joe McIlvaine without the fluff?
Kevin Goldstein: A.
Thompson (Great Falls): Is there any hope for Todd Frazier to stick at SS? If not, where does he fit into the Reds plans for the future?
Kevin Goldstein: Very little hope. The HOPE is that he can stick at third base, but he still might end up just as a LF.
LA Goofy (Disneyworld): Hi Kevin,
What are your thoughts on Angel Villalona? He has had an unspectacular year at Low A but is still showing great power for his age level. Do you see him becoming a middle of the lineup hitter along the lines of Andre Gallarga?
Kevin Goldstein: I talk to a scout about Villalona in tommorow's edition of Future Shock.
albert2b (NYC): Kershaw is now up in the bigs for the 2nd time this year after spending time at AA Jacksonville. Meanwhile, James McDonald, having a great year as well for Jacksonville(although not as dominant as Kershaw), still hasn't even gotten a sniff of AAA despite being nearly 4 years older than Kershaw and dominating the same league LAST year. What's LA waiting for?
Kevin Goldstein: I talk to a scout about McDonald in tommorow's edition of Future Shock.
HunterH (Houston): What are your thoughts on Jhoulys Chacin and Brett Cecil? Are they as good as their numbers suggest and do you think they will be starters or relievers in the majors?
Kevin Goldstein: I think Cecil profiles well as a No. 3 or 4 starter. As for the other guy...
I talk to a scout about Chacin in tommorow's edition of Future Shock.
AJ (Vienna): Jason Place can't even hit for average in Lancaster (though he does 13 HRs). At what point does his propensity to strike out become a serious concern?
Kevin Goldstein: Now.
Kristin (NM): I am really high on Vin Mazzaro. Are you?
Kevin Goldstein: Define high. I certainly see him as a big league starting pitcher and a very solid one, not unlike say Blanton.
myshkin (Santa Clara, CA): Who's the best power hitter from the 2008 draft five years from now?
Kevin Goldstein: Hosmer or Smoak.
DM (the Internet): A couple of Brewers bullpen related questions. Do you think that if Gallardo comes back it might be in a Joba '07 type of role? What would you think about Jeffress bringing his high 90s fb and tight cb to that type of role in September? Too far away and not enough command?
Kevin Goldstein: Will Carroll can update you on Gallardo's health, but he's not Joba, stuff wise where he can just come on for an inning and let it loose and throw it buy everyone -- he's just not that kind of guy. I love Jeffress' arm, but he's nowhere near ready.
Shaun P. (Medway, MA): KG - what's the deal with the fines on the Cubs for draft violations?
Kevin Goldstein: Honestly? It's crap, utter crap. I was talking to a front office official the other day about the draft in general and he put it best -- "The player procurement system in baseball is an absolute joke."
Tom (Seattle): Is Jon Lester for real?
Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely.
Doug (SD): James Simmons, anything more than a future innings eater? A new Joe Blanton?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, but that shouldn't be seen as a bad thing. Last I looked, those guys were worth $10-12 million on the open market.
fellajsmall (ATL GA): I do not see a reason why someone would want Alonso over Smoak....seems like Smoak is better in every facet except maybe patience.
Kevin Goldstein: I agree with you whole heartedly.
bigrick0016 (Cleveland): Are the Tribe still sticking with LaPorta in left? Can/will he make a Sept. appearance?
Kevin Goldstein: For now yes; and I do believe he'll get a brief look.
JMAN (TP - poolside): Matthew Cerda - lots of upside? When can I get excited to watch Hak-Ju Lee?
Kevin Goldstein: Lots of upside? No -- hard to have lots of upside when you are 5-foot-9. He's a very good hitter though. Get excited about Lee, but he's probably not in a box score until next summer.
Ryan (Vegas): Does Mark Melancon profile as a future closer?
Kevin Goldstein: I like him, but not that much -- he's more set-up type for me.
Andrew (Nueva York): What does MLB say the Cubs did? Can't be as bad as those OTHER rumors.
Kevin Goldstein: It's not. And to be clear, plenty of teams have been fined in the past for somewhat similar transgressions -- it just wasn't publicized. It's really not that big a deal.
benberg (San Diego): Anything to say about Kyle Blanks? How does he compare as a prospect to say Chris Carter or Lars Anderson?
Kevin Goldstein: Wow, this is TOTALLY AWESOME.
I talk to a scout about Blanks in tommorow's edition of Future Shock.
b-money (money store): bumgarner's secondary pitches, are they improving or no way to tell since he just blow his fastball by everyone at low A?
Kevin Goldstein: I love our readers!
I talk to a scout about Bumgarner's secondary pitches in tommorow's edition of Future Shock.
AdmCan (Boston): Is Che-Hsuan Lin worth keeping an eye on, or did he just get lucky as the Futures Game MVP?
Kevin Goldstein: A. Tons o' tools.
Silv (NY, NY): So Gallardo isn't that guy - is David Price? Is he the bullpen shutdown presence that the Rays will bring into August/September?
Kevin Goldstein: Whether they'd do it or not, I don't know. But I do think it could work.
Josh (Oak/CA): I like Brett Anderson better than Trevor Cahill and my friends look at me like I have 6 heads...Why????
Kevin Goldstein: I like Trevor Cahill better than Brett Anderson, but you're friends are crazy to look at you like that. I bet if I found 20 scouts who have evaluated the pair, neither would get more than 12 votes. They're very close and you could make an argument either way.
Kevin Goldstein: This was a triumph.
I'm making a note here, HUGE success.
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.
So you next time and enjoy Free Week -- have you heard about tommorow's Future Shock?