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December 12, 12:15 PM ET
Chat with Baseball America's Aaron Fitt

Danny (Monmouth)

Which pitcher will have the most impact in the majors in 2009 Neftali Feliz, Brett Anderson or Madison Bumgerdner? Are any #1 starter material?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:04 PM)

Hi everyone, happy to pinch-hit for Jim Callis today as he works feverishly to get our Prospect Handbook out the door by the end of the week. For me, it's Anderson. I life Feliz's stuff better, but he's still got to refine his secondary stuff somewhat. Anderson is more polished and I suspect he'll be in Oakland's rotation by the All-Star break. Feliz could get big league hitters out right now with just his fastball, but the Rangers have no reason to rush him -- they can leave him in the minors to develop his breaking ball. I do think Feliz gets called up sometime in the second half, however.

Gregg (Jefferson City, MO)

Do you think Brett Wallace (STL) can be an everyday 3B in the majors, or is he in line for a shift to LF? His bat is almost major league ready.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:06 PM)

I still think Wallace is a first baseman long term, but obviously that Pujols guy complicates things a bit. He's more agile than people think at third base, and I think he can handle it in the short term, though he'll probably be below-average there. But I'll take a 40-45 defender at third with a 60 bat.

Joseph (Sacramento, CA)

Assuming the Nats select Strasberg with the top pick in the upcoming draft, how would you rate their young pitching? Strasberg, Detwiler, Lannan, Balester, J.Zimmerman, etc. Thanks.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:10 PM)

Strasburg is the no-brainer top guy -- he's just one of those very special guys that doesn't come along very often. I've seen plenty of both Strasburg and David Price in college, and it's very hard to decide which one was better, and everyone knows how good Price is/will be. I'd go with Zimmermann next, then Detwiler, Balester and Lannan. Watch out for Jack McGeary -- he's going to move more slowly because he's still got two more years of splitting time between the Nationals and classes at Stanford, but he's an advanced lefty who could become an Andy Pettitte type.

Chuck (Los Angeles)

Which team will be in the lead today for Furcal?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:11 PM)

Sounds like Atlanta is a very safe bet at this point. And it's hard to imagine the Braves making this move unless they've got something else lined up for Escobar.

Russ (Cumberland,MD)

Orioles fans who has chosen not to go to games for 3 yrs now. Any Pitching prospects in the Minor that can come up within 2-3 years...or any pitchers on that horrid staff that can develop in 2 years?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:13 PM)

I'm a huge, huge fan of Brian Matusz. He's a physical lefthander with excellent command of four legit average or better pitches -- and you can make a case that three or four of those pitches are above-average. He's also very cerebral, a lot of fun to talk baseball with. I'll be shocked if he's not a very successful big leaguer, and he's going to get there soon. I'd bet that he reaches Baltimore in 2009 sometime.

Ben in Dallas

Any idea on where Smoak is going to open the MILB season at? There have rumors for both High A Bakersfield and AA Frisco?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:14 PM)

It won't be lower than Bakersfield. The Rangers people I've spoken with expect him to start there, but I suppose he could blow people away in spring training and wind up at Frisco. He's another one that won't be in the minors long.

Chonita (Eddyville)

When you say Wallace can handle third base short-term what does that mean? Until he gets older? Until the Cards extend Pujols or (God forbid)let him go?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:17 PM)

Until they're forced to make a decision, whether it be a trade or a position change. I do think Wallace is likely to lose mobility as he gets older, so it may eventually get to the point that he's a huge liability at third. But for now, I don't see him as a huge liability there.

John (Columbus, OH)

What are your thoughts on the Mets 3 first rounders this year? Will we see any of them in the near future?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:21 PM)

Ike Davis had a brutal debut in the New York-Penn League, and scouts were just killing his field makeup. I think he's got a lot of maturing to do before he reaches his significant offensive potential. Havens was the most improved player in the country at South Carolina last year -- he was much better than I ever thought he'd be. But I'm still not entirely convinced. He's got a very unusual offensive setup with his hands down down by his chest, and it worked for him last year, but I worry about the bat at the upper levels. I definitely think he's got a real chance, but I'd like to see more. Holt is my favorite of this group -- incredible fastball with life, velocity and command. He's got a chance to be a Curt Schilling type, a guy who pounds you with 90 percent fastballs and is a workhorse. But I want to see a better breaking ball anyway.

Kyle (Brockport. NY)

Who is the #5 starter for the Yankees, Phil Hughes or Andy Pettitte? I personally would prefer Hughes due to Andy's greed at this point, and less than stellar 98 ERA+ last year.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:23 PM)

I'd rather give Hughes another shot at it, and have a cheaper option ready to step in when Hughes makes his annual DL stint. But the Yankees got burned by relying on their young guys last year, and it seems they're reacting by pouring money into veterans who have already reached their peaks, so something tells me they'll bring back Pettitte.

Mike A. (RAB)

I know it's super early, but who are your faves for Omaha? Hard not to like UNC...

Aaron Fitt
  (2:26 PM)

UNC's pitching is just ridiculous -- they're definitely on my list. My other lock is Texas A&M -- only team that can rival UNC's pitching staff, and I love their offensive style of play. Other teams I'm considering: LSU, Texas, Fullerton, Oregon State, Rice, Florida, Baylor, San Diego, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Southern California.

Reed (Los Angeles)

What is the current state of the Dodgers farm system? They've graduated many players to the big leagues in the past few years so do they have anything left?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:29 PM)

It's awfully thin -- there's a precipitous dropoff after about No. 6. That's not such a bad thing -- I'd rather have a bevy of young talent in the majors than a highly ranked farm system. But wasting high picks on guys like Preston Mattingly and Luke Hochever doesn't help.

Brian (Jersey)

Predictions on where Tex and Manny end up and what the contracts look like? I will say Tex to Boston (8/$184) and Manny to NY (4/$92).

Aaron Fitt
  (2:30 PM)

I think you nailed them both.

Joseph (Sacramento, CA)

Any REAL major league bats sitting in the Nats farm system? To me it seems that Burgess and Marrero are vastly overrated. Thanks.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:31 PM)

I firmly believe in Marrero's bat -- don't put too much stock in his lost 2008 season. He's got big-time power, but more importantly, he's an excellent hitter too. Burgess has even more power, but I'd be very concerned about his bat at the higher levels -- his contact rate is disturbingly low.

RJ - Dallas

Are you nuts? Their is no way the Yankees go 4 years on Manny

Aaron Fitt
  (2:35 PM)

They went five years on AJ Burnett and seven on CC Sabathia, two guys who have huge stuff but are also huge injury risks. Yeah, I know CC's been durable and he's only 29, but he's got a ton of mileage on that arm and he's such a big dude that there's no way he holds up for seven years. And have you followed Burnett's career? Unless the Yankees can convince him that all five years of that deal are contract years, they're in trouble. My point is, that franchise is throwing around rotten contracts like nobody's business. After Boston gets Teixeira, you know the Yankees will want to answer, and they love the thought of a former nemesis donning the pinstripes. Not saying I'd give Manny four years -- I wouldn't go more than two.

Chet (LA)

hey RJ in Dallas, no one thought they'd give Johnny Damon an extra year either, and they most assuredly did. The Yankees will give a player what they want.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:36 PM)

Thank you, Chet.

Tony, NM

After Stratsburg, who are some of the top 5 for this year's draft? (Understanding it is December and no one will hold you're feet to the fire on this one)

Aaron Fitt
  (2:38 PM)

Alex White from UNC isn't such a huge dropoff from Strasburg. White is also a big, physical righty with a good delivery, and he's got a fastball that reaches 96, a plus slider and a split-finger that really became an excellent weapon against lefties last year. Plus he was a beast on a huge stage in Omaha. Also Grant Green and Dustin Ackley are the two best offensive players in this draft. I'll go with Kyle Gibson over high schooler Tyler Matzek for the fifth spot.

Mike (San Diego)

The Padres need Grant Green. Will he be there at #3?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:41 PM)

My gut says no -- Stras No. 1, Green 2, White 3. New Mariners scouting director Jack Z likes college bats (Ryan Braun comes to mind), and Green is a good one.

Jeff (NYC)

No love for Bryce Harper as a top 5 guy?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:41 PM)

He's not eligible this year.

Phil (Grand Rapids, MI)

Smoak or Alvarez...who is the better purely offensive player?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:43 PM)

Take your pick, really. But I'll take Alvarez by a nose, because I think he'll hit for a bit more average and have the same kind of power.

Barge (Large, PA)

Thoughts on Brad Lincoln's future/upside? Thanks

Aaron Fitt
  (2:43 PM)

I always liked the Jesse Crain comp on him in college at Houston...

Dave in Colorado Springs

I know he will probably kill us, but I am really looking forward to Beckett drilling Manny in the ass once he dons the pinstripes :) Do you see the Sox being forced to include Buchholz to get one of the Texas Catchers or ultimatly will a package of Bard or Bowden get it done?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:45 PM)

I see no reason for the Rangers to settle for less than what they really want, and that's Buchholz. The Rangers are in a position of power here -- they can easily wait it out and take all their catchers into the season. Eventually the Sox might have to bite the bullet and include Buchholz, because this is a good chance to secure a talented, young catcher for the foreseeable future. Of course, Theo is stubborn too...

Drew (Philly)

Hi Aaron, how do you carlos carrasco panning out? number 2 or 3 starter?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:46 PM)

Great stuff, but the makeup and feel give me pause. I'll say erratic No. 3, capable of being brilliant at times, but not consistently.

Charles (San Jose)

Justin Upton a 2009 All-Star?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:47 PM)

Yes.

Rick Oakland CA

Felix Pie is out of options and not in the Cubs' plans. I'm sure he can be good fielding CF in the majors and his hitting might surprise. Should some non-contender pick him up and give him two months to show what he can do given consistent ABs?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:50 PM)

I think Pie could have a bounce like Corey Patterson had when he first went to Baltimore, but I see him having a Patterson-like fizzle in the long term.

Dan (Chicago)

Better comparison long term for Gordon Beckham: Michael Young or Mark Grudz.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:51 PM)

Michael Young.

Chuck (VA)

How good will Oregon (not OSU) baseball be this year?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:52 PM)

I think they'll be competitive, but they don't have a legit Pac-10 ace, and they could struggle to score runs because there's no thunder in the lineup. George Horton will find ways to manufacture runs, but I see him being middle-to-bottom of the Pac.

Brian (Brooklyn)

Fernando Martinez or Wilmer Flores?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:52 PM)

I'll go with Flores, but I don't think there's any consensus on that one, either in the halls of BA or in the industry.

Sean (DC)

Do you think Nolan Reimold profiles as a solid every day outfielder in the majors?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:53 PM)

His power is a premium tool that gives him at least a chance to be an impact guy. I'm buying.

Jason (Bmore)

Thanks for never answering my questions. Bring back Jim.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:54 PM)

Jim says he misses all of you, and to please remember to pre-order your copy of the 2009 Prospect Handbook today! Here's the link: http://www.baseballamerica.com/store/store.cgi?p=MVAEDQ

Russell (McKinney, TX)

Does Blake Beavan's velocity jump back to where it was in high school? Are you worried about the dip in velocity?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:55 PM)

I'm not worried, and I do think it comes back up. Great year for him learning how to pitch with less than his best stuff.

Kevin (LA)

Does Delmon ever become the .300/30hr hitter just about everyone pegged him to be?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:56 PM)

I still believe he will. I just can't let that one go.

Mark (Boston)

Sir, I knew Jim Callis. I had several questions answered by Jim Callis. You sir, are a decent substitute! Best Sox prospect? Still Anderson?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:57 PM)

Decent substitute -- I'll take it! Yes, definitely still Anderson. No-brainer.

Vote For Pedro (Alvarez)

Jim called me the leader for the #3 overall prospect a few weeks back, behing Weiters and Price. What's your assessment?

Aaron Fitt
  (2:58 PM)

Sounds right to me. It's easy to forget just how good Alvarez is because he was hurt in 2008 -- he was never truly himself.

jsm (dallas)

Tell me about the guys the Rangers got for Gerald Laird.

Aaron Fitt
  (2:59 PM)

Don't believe in Moscoso -- mostly a one-pitch guy (and it's a fastball that, while lively, tops out at 91-92) with a checkered injury history. Carlos Melo is a very, very intriguing young arm -- been up to the mid-90s. Keep an eye on him.

BK (mpls)

Tracy Smith has been doing pretty well as the Hoosiers head honcho. How will the team fair over the next couple years?

Aaron Fitt
  (3:00 PM)

Wow, Tracy Smith question! Good buzzer-beater. I think the Hoosiers will win the Big Ten this year, led by huge years from Josh Phegley and Matt Bashore. OK, that's all we have time for today -- thanks for all the great questions, and enjoy the hoildays!