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January 16, 11:06 AM ET
Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Keith Law

Keith Law
  (1:03 PM)

I would just, you know, like to, you know, say that I, you know, don't want, you know, to be your senator. But I'm, you know, happy to talk about the top 100 prospects.

Dan (Fort Lauderdale)

What are the expected arrival times for Stanton, Morrison, Dominguez and Skipworth? Who has the highest ceiling? (I'm going with Stanton)

Keith Law
  (1:04 PM)

Stanton has the highest ceiling, of course - that kind of power is tough to beat. Morrison is clearly the closest to the majors. I wouldn't be shocked if he debuted this year or at the start of 2010. Stanton and Dominguez are more 2012-ish, Skipworth a year beyond that.

Josh (Mpls)

You said the Royals system lacks top-end talent beyond Hosmer. Moustakas?

Keith Law
  (1:04 PM)

Call me when he finds a position. If they would put him behind the plate, then yes, he's a top-end talent.

Jason (Philly)

Whats up with Andrew Brackman, any chance we see him in the bronx this year? P.S. your photo looks like a mug shot

Keith Law
  (1:05 PM)

The charges were dropped.

Steiny (NYC)

Can you see Edgardo Alfonzo returning to the majors any time soon?

Keith Law
  (1:05 PM)

I'm only discussing players under the age of 50 here.

Tim (STL, MO)

Klaw, I like to see where you ranked the Cardinals org in your rankings. Because the Cards seem to be short on high upside, but have a lot of fill-in types, do you think they should alter their strategy to go after more toolsy guys, or stick with whats working now?

Keith Law
  (1:06 PM)

Given the depth in their system, it's a good time for them to take some more risks in the draft, but I don't blame them for taking Wallace when he slipped to them.

Tommy(draysbay)

IF he says healthy, do you think the Rays could slide Desmond Jennings into Carl Crawford's spot after 2010?

Keith Law
  (1:06 PM)

Yes.

Tim (Chicago)

Any chance Gordon Beckham is in Chicago this year?

Keith Law
  (1:06 PM)

Yes.

Patrick (Columbus)

Keith, Does having a log-jam at a position affect your organization rankings, or does that not play a role?

Keith Law
  (1:06 PM)

I did not consider that at all.

Terence (Ireland / Long Island)

You mentioned Brad Holt in your team rankings. Is his off-speed stuff progressing enough to where he projects as a starter? Or still a late inning option?

Keith Law
  (1:07 PM)

It's improving, but his best secondary pitch (curve) is still fringe-average at best. He's got time.

paul,washington d.c

why the nationals dont even have a scout in venezuela,colombia,aruba,curazao,panama? ,and in the dominican rijo have a lot fringe player, much of them over the aged of 22 and two teams,how they be better if they dont competed internationaly with good scouting

Keith Law
  (1:08 PM)

Don't ask me to explain anything that happens there. They botched their first-round pick, fielded an absolutely awful team, and found their GM and a top assistant embroiled in the scouting/embezzlement scandal, and their GM survived. I was thinking this morning that if I was named the new GM of the Nationals, I would start my first press conference by blowing up a Segway.

Max (DC)

What are your degrees in?

Keith Law
  (1:08 PM)

Fahrenheit.

Fred, Cincy

Why's Alonso so low on your list of 1B?

Keith Law
  (1:09 PM)

That question is answered pretty directly in my capsule on him.

Jon (Jacksonville)

Keith, who do you project as having the best overall career? Posey, Alvarez, Smoak or Hosmer? Could I get a projection on power as well please?

Keith Law
  (1:09 PM)

Posey's a separate animal - good defensive catcher who can hit. Hosmer > Smoak > Alvarez.

Jon V. (Cleveland, OH)

Out of the 5 Indians on the list (Santana, LaPorta, Miller, Huff and Weglarz), who has the best chance to contribute to the big league club this year?

Keith Law
  (1:10 PM)

Huff and/or Miller. If Miller can just pitch, he could come very quickly as a short reliever.

Pete (DC)

Keith, since the Eagles lost can they just say they withdrew from consideration for the Super Bowl?

Keith Law
  (1:11 PM)

That, you know, sounds like, you know, a great idea.

Fred, Cincy

Come on bro, I can't afford the Insider subscription, throw me a bone

Keith Law
  (1:11 PM)

If you subscribe to the mag for $20 or so, you get Insider, right? Lay off the Charbucks for a week and it's paid for.

Danny, South Boston Va

Jeremy Jeffress is from my hometown and I am curious what his potential is. A reliever, starter? ceiling? eta?

Keith Law
  (1:12 PM)

Ceiling is #1 starter. The fastball is electric. The secondary stuff needs work. Common problem. ETA as a starter would be 2011, most likely.

Mark (Indy)

I read somewhere that one of the reasons Heyward slipped to the Braves in '07 was that opposing teams never pitched to him, so it was tough for scouts to get a good gauge on his ability ... how often does this happen, as it seems any high school coach would be an idiot to pitch to some of these guys?

Keith Law
  (1:14 PM)

I don't believe that's true for Heyward, nor is it generally true for top prospects. You see these guys at summer showcases like the Area Code Games or the Under Armour Game, and they face better pitching. Plus scouts are looking at things like athleticism, swing paths, etc. You can see that stuff in BP or workouts.

Zack (Maryland)

ETA for Matusz?

Keith Law
  (1:15 PM)

2010. But if he shot up the system and debuted this year, I wouldn't be surprised. He should have little to no trouble retiring minor-league hitters.

Adam (Toronto)

KLaw....You give high praise for Baumgarner however does he not throw across his body thus making him more susceptible for an arm injury down the line ?

Keith Law
  (1:16 PM)

He doesn't really throw across his body. He has a low arm slot, but that's not the same thing.

The Dude (SF)

KLaw, loved the top 100. As far as Villalona's conditioning or lack of, how can a team invest so much money on a player and not hire a trainer/cook for them?

Keith Law
  (1:17 PM)

He's actually a little more fit now than when they signed him, I guess. This may be a stretch, but MLB rejected the minors' call for an increase in per diem meal money for players from $20 to $25. (I think big-leaguers get something like $100-110/day). I mean, maybe minor leaguers who get $20 a day for food ... go to McDonald's a lot.

Cameron (Atlanta)

I was a little suprised to see that you ranked Jeff Locke ahead of Julio Teheran(RHP) and Cole Rohrbough(LHP). Do the other two have a higher ceiling?

Keith Law
  (1:18 PM)

Teheran missed most of the season after tweaking his shoulder. Rohrbough was also hurt and lost some key development time. Locke was healthy, effective, and clearly projects as a starter.

Derek

How good will Pie be?

Keith Law
  (1:19 PM)

Depends on crust.

Ryan (Andover, MA)

KLaw, I noticed you ranked Austin Jackson ahead of Brackman on the Yankees prospects, yet Jackson didn't make the top 50 (Brackman did). Can you elaborate on that?

Keith Law
  (1:20 PM)

You should check that again, Ryan.

John (New Jersey)

Hey Keith. In the long run, who would you rather: Weiters or Posey. And is the plan to have Posey start in '10. Thanks Buddy.

Keith Law
  (1:21 PM)

I ranked Wieters over Posey. Switch-hitter with much more power potential. I think Posey has to spend a year in the minors to show how close his bat is to the majors.

Matt (Pittsburgh)

You seem to be in the minority rating D'Arnaud ahead of Marson in the Phillies system. What makes the former the superior prospect?

Keith Law
  (1:21 PM)

Call me when Marson hits something in the air.

Mike (San Diego)

Hit me with some knowledge...Who is the most likely to be a star out of the Padres 2008 draft class? Dykstra, Decker, Forsythe, Darnell, Tekotte, Figuroa? Thanks.

Keith Law
  (1:22 PM)

Most likely to be a star = Decker or Figueroa. Intrigued by Forsythe if they convert him to catching.

sim (stockton, ca)

whats the deal with wendell fairley?

Keith Law
  (1:23 PM)

Was pressing horribly the first few months of the year, starting in spring training. He did start to play better in the last 6-7 weeks, but I have to call that a small sample until he carries it over into next year.

Bobby (Kinston)

Hector Rondon had a real nice year for us down here in Kinston - he didn't make your list, but do you think he has the potential to do in a year or two?

Keith Law
  (1:24 PM)

Yes, absolutely. He's one of their top 10 guys.

Magpie (Columbus, OH)

I know you already fielding a question with this guy, but it wasn't a "good" question. How about this...Will Austin Jackson be in the Yankee outfield in 2010? And could he replace Damon as the team's leadoff hitter?

Keith Law
  (1:24 PM)

Probably. Unlikely - I don't think he's that kind of bat. Well, he isn't now, at least.

Chris (NJ)

I am personally offended at how you ranked a prospect from my favorite team, even though I do not know said prospect, nor have I ever seen him play. In my opinion you only have your job because, like your employers, you have an unholy bias towards my favorite team's rival. Also, you're short.

Keith Law
  (1:25 PM)

You're right. I am short.

Jim (Acton, MA)

I noticed that you have Casey Kelly in the Red Sox top 10... in your assessment, were you projecting him as a pitcher or hitter?

Keith Law
  (1:25 PM)

Pitcher. That's the organizational goal for him.

Philip (State College)

Since the Phillies we're 11th, can you tell your next 5 on their top 10? I'd assume its 5 out of these 6: Knapp Collier Savery Drabek Marson and Happ?

Keith Law
  (1:26 PM)

d'Arnaud and Drabek were the next two. Then Marson, just by default because he can catch and makes some contact; Collier; Knapp.

RichJ (Connecticut)

Better defensive catcher: Buster Posey or Matt Wieters?

Keith Law
  (1:26 PM)

Posey.

Seamus (Braintree, MA)

What happened to Chris Marrero? He has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth.

Keith Law
  (1:27 PM)

Injured. And I never thought he was star-caliber anyway. Clean-and-jerk swing, poor athlete.

Justin (Normal, Illinois)

Keith, your comment on Dayan Viciedo's weight almost got me kicked out of class today because I was laughing so hard. My question is though, what is the ETA on Tyler Flowers?

Keith Law
  (1:28 PM)

If the White Sox can live with his catching, probably 2010 Opening Day. Different teams have different tolerances for mediocre catchers.

James (North East, MD)

Is Billy Rowell ever going to figure it out?

Keith Law
  (1:28 PM)

Signs point to "no."

Chip (Richmond, VA)

Keith, looking at your top 30 (a convenient cutoff because I want Matusz included), how much difference is there from one player to the next? Were there any players or groups of players that really gave you trouble ranking them? Specifically, I'm thinking of Holland, Anderson, and Matusz. Also, you mention Cameron as a comp for Maybin....what are the chances he turns into Preston Wilson with better D?

Keith Law
  (1:29 PM)

I started out by grouping players into tiers. Wieters was 1 and Price 2 going in. The next tier had the next 6-7 players, then another group of about 7 guys, and so on. The tiers got bigger as I went along. So no, realistically, the difference between two players at the same position ranked 3 spots apart on my list is probably not worth worrying about.

Del (Cleveland, OH)

Klaw whats your thoughts on the Indians Michael Brantley?

Keith Law
  (1:30 PM)

Unless he can play the hell out of center, he's a fourth outfielder.

Brandon (Nashville, TN)

Who, in the bottom 50, has the best chance to jump up into the top 10 (or 20) after this year?

Keith Law
  (1:31 PM)

There are several candidates but both Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor came to mind right away. Others: Wilmer Flores, Freddie Freeman, Michael Main, Aaron Hicks, and - because I'm stubborn - Chris Nelson.

Dustin (Vegas)

Most likely to be an Ace- Mazzaro, Cahill, Anderson, INOA, GIO Gonzales?

Keith Law
  (1:32 PM)

In order: Cahill, Inoa, Anderson. Neither Mazzaro nor Gio has any chance to be an ace.

Greg, Indy

I think it is pretty terrible the way Alvarez went about signing with the Pirates, then showing up fat. Is your ranking of Alvarez at #38 more indicative of his attitude and lack of data than of his actual potential and talent? You seem to want to take a contrarian view with him (since he is widely considered a top 15 prospect), yet put in the caveat that he "could be in the top 10 next year if...." How do you actually rank him, since you ranked him # 5 before the draft?

Keith Law
  (1:34 PM)

I actually rank him ... 38th. If you look, he's 6th among 2008 draftees in my top 100, passed by Wallace, who played incredibly well in his first pro season. With Alvarez, we have no new information to answer the critical questions on him from before the draft: Can he hit left-handers? Was the contact problem in 2008 the result of the hamate injury or his wide base and all-out swing? Will his body permit him to stay at third base? You're trying to rationalize away the arguments I've made to support my more moderate ranking of Alvarez since before he was drafted. Good luck with that.

Chris (Ames, IA)

How is Villanola fifty spots ahead of Jesus Montero? Montero is still at catcher and out hit Villanola by a large margin.

Keith Law
  (1:35 PM)

I don't think Montero stays at catcher. Villalona has an enormous upside as a power hitter.

Reid, Chattanooga

Can Nefalti Perez and Jeremy Jeffress harness their electric stuff and become pitchers and not just throwers?

Keith Law
  (1:35 PM)

Neftali Perez is not a "thrower."

Aarne ( Midland, TX)

No love for JP Arencibia? I know he can't even walk to the store but #99? His bat alone should put him in the Top 50.

Keith Law
  (1:36 PM)

His bat produces OBPs consistently in the low .300s. That doesn't put you in the top 50. Or the top 90, apparently.

Jeff (KCMO)

Keith, you mentioned tolerances for medicore catchers. WHat do you see about Moustakas that would have a chance to make him an elite catcher?

Keith Law
  (1:36 PM)

Great catcher's body. Good enough athlete. 7 arm. And he did catch a little bit before he was drafted, so I'm not just making this idea up.

Brendan-Boston

Isn't being stubborn at the top of the "bad traits for a professional scout" list?

Keith Law
  (1:37 PM)

If there's a professional scout here, he's hiding under the couch.

Kevin (Boston)

Keith, I understand your ranking of the Red Sox system because their impact talent is in the lower minors, but who do you think is in the upper minors for them that could contribute to the Major league roster over the next couple years?

Keith Law
  (1:38 PM)

Lars, Bowden, and Bard obviously. Reddick as well if he can improve his pitch selection - or at least stop swinging at everything like he's Vlad Guerrero and can hit it all. (He can actually hit a lot of it, which is part of the problem.)

Lou (Boulder, CO)

What happened to Matt Antonelli over the course of a year for him to drop so far? Is he a bounce back candidate after a bad year, or is he flawed in some way that was borne out at the higher levels?

Keith Law
  (1:39 PM)

Double whammy - bad swing combined with iffy defense at second. I still think the Padres should shift him to center; he has the speed to play it, and by all accounts is a bright kid. His problem at second is footwork, which is a non-issue in the outfield. And you need a fast centerfielder who covers a lot of ground in that park.

mymrbig (New Orleans)

If you were the Nat's GM/Manager, how would you sort out their OF logjam (Dukes, Milledge, Kearns, Willingham, Harris (great D), Mo Pena)?

Keith Law
  (1:40 PM)

You have to play Dukes and Milledge because they're young and have a chance to become building blocks. You have to not play Harris no matter what because he's a waste of playing time that should be going to kids.

Aarne ( Midland, TX)

RE: Arencibia, is OBP something you find can improve with top prospects? Is there an example of a power hitter in the minors that greatly improved a poor OBP?

Keith Law
  (1:40 PM)

They're few and far between. I think OBP can only be improved marginally for most prospects.

John (Dallas, TX)

Thanks for the heads up on Martin for the Dodgers, I didn't think they had anyone I hadn't heard of already. So you think we'll get a look at him at spring training?

Keith Law
  (1:41 PM)

In minor league spring training, yes, but not in the big-league park.

Bill (Washington, DC)

Actually Marson did hit one in the air (a home run in the final game of the season). ANYWAY what kind of major league player do you project D'Arnoud at at this point?

Keith Law
  (1:42 PM)

Solid-average big-league catcher with average power, makes contact, good defender, no one area that's plus. He could become more than that if the bat develops, but he's just out of short-season ball so I'm offering a realistic projection rather than an optimistic one.

Matt (DC)

I'm curious about your opinion on two Oakland prospects who didn't make the top 100, Chris Carter and Gio Gonzalez. What can you tell me about them?

Keith Law
  (1:44 PM)

My big concern on Gio has always been mound maturity, to make up a term for the moment. When something goes wrong, either on his end or behind/around him, he goes to pieces. It's been consistent over the last few years. I also think he has to pitch heavily off his secondary stuff and hasn't shown the feel for pitching required to do that. Both things are mental and can improve with time, experience, or coaching. Carter has incredible power potential but will be limited to first base and probably won't hit for much average.

Zac (Philadelphia)

Klaw, I know that you were down on Knapp coming into the Draft. Has anything changed after his first taste of pro ball? Number ten on the Phillies list ain't too shabby. Thanks.

Keith Law
  (1:45 PM)

Outside of the top few orgs, clubs don't really run ten deep in legit prospects. Knapp has a live arm, had a nice debut, and after the Phils' top eight, it gets thin.

Adam (Chicago)

As a White Sox fan, should I be excited about Getz, Lillybridge, or Nix? Will any of them be ready to be a productive second baseman this season?

Keith Law
  (1:45 PM)

Fill-ins.

Austin (Ohio)

Who has better stuff Derek Holland or Madison Bumgardner?

Keith Law
  (1:46 PM)

Bumgarner.

Magpie (Columbus, OH)

Sorry to ask you to contribute more to the mythical East Coast Bias. But I have to ask...Would Jesus Montero be ranked much higher if he were moved to left or right field?

Keith Law
  (1:46 PM)

No - his ranking reflects the fact that I don't expect him to have much defensive value. He's going to be moved to a position that is not as important defensively, and probably won't play it all that well.

Scott (Philly, PA)

Matusz over Tillman? How much weight do you put into Matusz's performance in Arizona?

Keith Law
  (1:47 PM)

Not much. Tillman is projectable but still pretty raw.

Bill (NY)

Eddie Kunz seems to have fallen off the charts after looking pretty bad as a call up. Do you think he will ever become a fulltime big league arm?

Keith Law
  (1:47 PM)

Right-handed specialist. Koo koo ka choo.

Dan (DC)

I asked Callis yesterday about David Hernandez, who put up great strikeout numbers in Bowie last year, and he deemed him as one of those guys who struck out a lot of minor league batters but doesn't have the stuff to be any better than a reliever in the majors. Do you agree?

Keith Law
  (1:48 PM)

I would have said fifth starter, but I don't feel strongly about it. His stuff is fringy, but he commands it well.

Jonathan (Tampa, FL)

Bumgarner that high over Alderson? I always thought you were an Alderosn over Bumgarner guy.

Keith Law
  (1:49 PM)

I was. I'm still an Alderson guy. But my concern on Bumgarner was lack of a good breaking ball. His slider went from minus (because he had little experience throwing it) to plus-plus in a year.

Mike (Delaware)

How would you rank rank the 8 defensive positions in terms of value/importance?

Keith Law
  (1:49 PM)

SS C 2B CF 3B RF LF 1B. The first five are skill positions. The last three are where you stick the guys who can hit and can't field.

Batter's Box (Toronto)

Keith - How would you bring Brett Cecil along, innings-wise, this season? Should he start in the Jays pen in long relief for a half season and then graduate to the pen? Or do the Jays not believe in this approach to developing a starter?

Keith Law
  (1:50 PM)

He may force his way into the rotation, but I have long been an advocate of Earl Weaver's philosophy of breaking in young starters as long relievers, and I know JP has said (to me, at least) that he likes that philosophy too. They're just rather short on innings at the moment.

matt (philadelphia)

it seems like you're not that impressed with carlos carrasco, please explain? His fastball is mid 90's with a plus changeup. He is only 21 and already at triple-a

Keith Law
  (1:50 PM)

I've seen him a few times. He's never sat mid 90's and his changeup hasn't been plus.

Jim (NYC)

Hey KLAW, I recently checked out your top 100 list (books not prospects) and noticed no Joyce. Don't like him or not interested in wading through his prose?

Keith Law
  (1:51 PM)

I hated Portrait of the Artist ... but reader Sara K is going to harass me into reading Ulysses unless I get a restraining order.

Jeff (Ann Arbor)

Keith, I've read that the Braves first round pick is "protected" and so they do not lose it for signing Derek Lowe. Is this true? What is the rule exactly? And if it is true what would happen if the Braves were to sign another type A free agent such as Adam Dunn? What does this cost them in the draft? I assume the Derek Lowe signing costs them their second round pick. Thanks.

Keith Law
  (1:53 PM)

If your pick is top 15 overall, meaning you finished with one of the 15 worst records the previous year, you can not lose your top pick as compensation for a free agent. Dunn wasn't offered arbitration so signing him wouldn't cost them a pick. If they signed Juan Cruz, a type A who was offered arbitration, they would lose their third-round pick (I believe his rating was below Lowe's).

Christopher (Staten Island)

Book question! I love baseball but I cannot keep up with these prospects. You ever read Infinite Jest? Thoughts? I am trying to wade through it now.

Keith Law
  (1:54 PM)

Have not. I actually have enough books on my shelves to last through Labor Day. It's a little intimidating.

Tim (Chicago)

Do GM's have significant influence on the draft or is it mostly done by farm directors and scouts?

Keith Law
  (1:55 PM)

Scouting directors run the draft for just about every team. Farm directors might be in the room but rarely have input until it becomes time to pick org players to fill out short-season rosters. GMs are usually involved in the first pick or first few picks, because the money is higher.

Ross (CA)

Do you think Tim Alderson has maximized his potential or is it possible his frame could project for an increase in velocity? His production is substantial, but he seems undervalued because he does it with a tick above average stuff.

Keith Law
  (1:55 PM)

I think he is what he is velo-wise, but commands it so well and has the out-pitch breaking ball that he'll succeed. Plus what he did as a teenager in the Cal League is seriously impressive.

Jared (OH)

I'm still curious to ask what happened with Derek Holland, a 25th round pick and wasn't that great in high school and college is this one of those big prospect shockers that doesn't happen often?

Keith Law
  (1:56 PM)

Yes, it's like Zumaya - he gained significant velocity after signing.

Mike (Philly)

Keith, do you see the Phils draft philsophy changing (toolsy guys) now with Amaro replacing Gillick and Arbuckle gone?

Keith Law
  (1:56 PM)

The scouting director is still Marti Wolever, so I assume the philosophy will generally stay the same unless Amaro insists on changing it.

Adam (Chicago)

What organization has the best international scouting? I know the White Sox have done well in the latin american (Cuban) market recently, but how does it compare to other teams operations?

Keith Law
  (1:57 PM)

Mariners, then Rangers and Red Sox.

mymrbig (New Orleans)

Are the Yankees strategically exploiting the free agent compensation system by signing so many Type A's in one season, or is that just secondary to their desire to throw around the dollars this offseason?

Keith Law
  (1:58 PM)

I'm sure they're aware that stacking up the Type As in one offseason is better than signing them a year at a time, but the fact that next winter's free agent class is vomitacious is probably a bigger factor.

Corey (Missouri)

There was a story just posted at Stl Today saying that Troy Glaus just had shoulder surgery and may not be ready for opening day. Who would you put in at third in his place if you were the Cardinals? Craig, Freese, Wallace, Mather?

Keith Law
  (1:59 PM)

Probably Freese. That's pretty aggressive for Wallace; I don't doubt he could handle it at the plate, but he hasn't had much chance to work with their coaches on his D.

SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)

Keith, do you ever see a day were draft position rights are made in player trades?

Keith Law
  (1:59 PM)

This has to be negotiated with the union. I do think it will eventually happen.

Joe (Irvington, NJ)

How close was Beau Mills to making the top 100? He looks to have star potential hitting ability.

Keith Law
  (2:00 PM)

It's a good bat, not a star-caliber bat, and I think he's a DH. If he could really play first, I'd like him a little more. Cleveland's 11-20 prospects list is full of guys who can hit somewhat but can't play a position, like Mills and Wes Hodges.

Danny(Philly)

If I'm not mistaken don't you have Carrasco ranked 60th? Isn't that the potential of a 2 or 3 on a good team?

Keith Law
  (2:01 PM)

He has upside, sure, but he's not there right now. I also consider performance, and he did pitch well after his little episode with the shoulder.

Rick (Chars, MO)

If you were only judging based on offensive potential approximately where would Brett Wallace place among prospects (thinking from a fantasy baseball standpoint)? Thank you

Keith Law
  (2:01 PM)

Top ten.

Rory(Sacramento)

What do you make of Dellin Betances' improvement in control over the last two months of the season?

Keith Law
  (2:03 PM)

I'm not a huge fan of first/second half splits in the minors because the caliber of player you're facing changes - the typical minor league will lose its best players to promotions as the year goes on. That said, I have to think Betances' drop in walk rate is more than a sample-size or competition issue. It is substantial.

Brandon (NY)

Where would players that recently lost their rookie eligibility rank in your top 100 had they not lost it (Kershaw, Murphy, etc.)?

Keith Law
  (2:03 PM)

Kershaw would be top 5. Murphy would be probably below the midpoint.

Tom (Austin, Texas)

Keith - who loves themselves more, you or Neyer?

Keith Law
  (2:03 PM)

I didn't know that Neyer loved me.

Alan Iowa City

Is G. Beckham for real? Where does he start this year? I've read many sources saying he could be up this year. Isn't that rushing things a bit?

Keith Law
  (2:03 PM)

He and Wallace are the two bats from last year's draft that were/are closest to the majors. Alexei to center and G-Becks at short.

Jack (Toronto)

No Jeff Samardzija in the top 100? Did you not get a look at him as a short reliever during the pennant race? He looks like a potential closer.

Keith Law
  (2:04 PM)

I did get a look at him. He looks like he throws hard.

Nick (Milwaukee)

Brewers with (paraphrased) "no star power beyond Jeffress"? Ummm Jeffress isnt even listed amongst your pitchers, but Gamel is the 6th best 3B and Escobar is a future gold glove, and 5th best, SS. I dont get it.

Keith Law
  (2:04 PM)

Keep thinking. It's not that hard.

Bert (Minneapolis)

Have you read, "Blood Meridian"? It's the Albert Pujols of literature over the last 30 years.

Keith Law
  (2:05 PM)

It's on the Klaw 100.

Jack (Toronto)

Come on, give me a little more than that on Samardzija... Don't you know how hard it was for me to get his name spelled right?

Keith Law
  (2:06 PM)

I was mostly serious - he throws hard, doesn't command it that well, slider was very inconsistent. I think they rushed him up the system; his AAA numbers didn't exactly say "promote me."

Ryan (Canton, MI)

Keith, What would you do about the Tiger's closing situation? I can't take another year of Fernando Rodney wander around the mound looking like he can't stop thinking about his post game dump.

Keith Law
  (2:07 PM)

They drafted five or six college relievers on day one in June. One of those guys has to see the majors by midyear. Most likely Perry.

Brian (Brooklyn)

No Anthony Hewitt?

Keith Law
  (2:07 PM)

That's funny.

Jeff (Boston, MA)

Keith really curious to hear your feed back on this even though it is not prospect related. How likely is it that a player like Jason Varitek does not understand the consequences?

Keith Law
  (2:08 PM)

0% chance.

Jason (Pitt)

If you are proven wrong about Alvarez vs. Smoak, Hosmer, etc... will you write a column, or at least publicly admit to it? Seems only fair....

Keith Law
  (2:09 PM)

Oh, look, a dumb idea found a new friend. Why would I write an entire column about that?

mymrbig (New Orleans)

Where would Strasburg rank?

Keith Law
  (2:10 PM)

Top 20, at least. Cahill was the 4th RHP on my list, and Strasburg is ahead of him.

Dan

Yes, Keith. Then write a column about every time you were right, or at least publicly admit to it.

Keith Law
  (2:11 PM)

This is my point. That would make me the most boring columnist on the face of the earth. I may be many things now, but boring I am not.

Chris Cordes

I didnt see Lou Marson Catcher for the Phillies on the list of 100. How far off the list is he?

Keith Law
  (2:11 PM)

He's in the rye.

Tim (Chicago)

Does J.R. Towles turn it around this season?

Keith Law
  (2:13 PM)

Can I answer that with a "sort of?" "Partly?" He doesn't suck. I don't think he's a stud, but he should be given the everyday job and 500 PA to show that 2008 was a fluke. And if he's awful again, well, there you go, turn the page and wait for Castro.

Jimmy (Chicago)

Does Even Longoria come back to earth this year, or is he really that good?

Keith Law
  (2:13 PM)

He's Even better.

Spencer (NY, NY)

I want to explore this "shortness" factor. Is it possible your judgement of prospects may be skewed because you look at them from such a low vantage point? Obviously, you have a fairly low ceiling yourself.

Keith Law
  (2:14 PM)

I am notoriously bad at judging player heights. They all look like they're seven feet tall.

Alex, Brooklyn

KLAW, you talked about the White Sox' emphasis on teaching their pitchers the cutter, why don't more organizations try this, or is it just something that worked out there and wouldn't necessarily do so elsewhere?

Keith Law
  (2:15 PM)

You have to have a coach who can really teach it, and my guess is the White Sox would tell you they target pitchers who are good candidates to learn it.

mymrbig (New Orleans)

Niemann, Humber, or Townsend?

Keith Law
  (2:15 PM)

Can I use "vomitacious" twice in one chat? No? OK. Pass.

Carl Taylor - Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Hi Keith: As a huge fan of baseball and the Treasurer of a local baseball/softball team, I was wondering if you think that MLB will continue to expand internationally and eventually hold a season series here in England? There are a lot of BOSox fans over here (including me) and it would be great to see the Sox play a 3 or 4 game series against any MLB team....

Keith Law
  (2:16 PM)

The problem is the facilities. You need a good baseball stadium to host a major-league game. You can squeeze an American football game into a soccer stadium, sort of, but baseball sort of has a funny shape.

Mike A. (RAB)

Kieth, I disagree with your ranking of the Yanks farm system. Their affiliates in Milwaukee and Orange County just produced CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira!

Keith Law
  (2:17 PM)

Hah.

Carlos (LA,CA)

Keith, What happen to all the good scouting the dodgers had. No player in your top 50. Thanks

Keith Law
  (2:17 PM)

Check their big-league roster.

Sean (Seattle)

If Tillman was still a Mariner ($%&# Bavasi), where would he rank among their prospects?

Keith Law
  (2:17 PM)

Second.

Jamie (DC)

Favorite quick and easy salmon recipe?

Keith Law
  (2:18 PM)

Maple-Ancho Glazed Salmon.

Kevin (GA)

I have NINE current and former Braves prospects. FIVE of them are in the Top 50. Simply incredible that they are still as deep as they are.

Keith Law
  (2:18 PM)

It really is. They're a scouting machine.

Daniel (San Diego CA)

I know you have never really been high on Kellen Kulbacki, but if he puts up numbers in San Antonio, could you see him making your top 100?

Keith Law
  (2:18 PM)

Yes, that's probably about right.

Anonymous Club Employee (Los Angeles)

Keith, I just bought a set of Pimsleur discs on your recommendation from a few chats ago. Any words of advice I need to know to maximize their effectiveness? Oh, and can we just fast-forward to 2010 now and give the Angels their participation trophy for 2009? What a joke.

Keith Law
  (2:19 PM)

Repeat each lesson until you've really mastered it. Might just take two listens, might take more. The Angels are still the favorites in that division.

Mark (Moscow, ID)

Have you given up on Rickie Weeks?

Keith Law
  (2:20 PM)

No. But in a year, I might have to write a whole column about how I was wrong about him.

Pedro (Pitt)

So the fact that I raked in wood bat international play with Team USA, leading the team 4 categories and 2nd in 3 more means nothing? When compared to Smoak who didnt do jack squat in intl. play.

Keith Law
  (2:21 PM)

You are correct. Tiny samples mean nothing. I'm glad they taught you something at that community college you went to in Nashville.

Keith Law
  (2:21 PM)

(Cue email from Buster in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...)

Jeff (NY)

Why are such an enormous percentage of your top prospects American-born?

Keith Law
  (2:22 PM)

I had the same question - there's a separate list (not sure if it's up yet) of the top 30 prospects born in Latin America going up on ESPNDeportes today, in part because this list was so heavy on US-born prospects. I'm assuming it's just cyclical, since there's a ton of Latin American talent in the low minors, particularly short-season ball.

Kevin (St. Louis)

Gotta agree about Joyce. Trying to wade through "Portrait" right now and it is brutal. Anyway, what do you think the chances of Jess Todd becoming a middle of the rotation starter?

Keith Law
  (2:23 PM)

He's a reliever for me. It's all sliders.

Ignatius O'Reilly (New Orleans)

Any chance Wilfredo Boscan makes a Feliz-ian leap in 2009? The combo of good stuff that he throws for strikes and an incredible groundball rate seems impressive.

Keith Law
  (2:23 PM)

I'm working on one more piece for tomorrow: 30 guys (one per team) who might jump from nowhere into this list next year. Boscan is the guy for Texas. So hold that thought.

JR (Vegas)

Keith- does your daughter enjoy your cooking too or does she prefer the over processed food (McDs) that plagues most American kids. I have a one year old, so any tips on how to get him to eat real food that you might have used with your daughter?

Keith Law
  (2:24 PM)

My daughter loves whole grains. She's had more whole grain foods before age 3 than I had before age 30. I think it's because she sees us eat it, and because she was exposed to healthier food from the get-go.

James (LA)

I really believe that Jason Heyward is a better hitter than Jeff Francoeur, like, right now this instant.

Keith Law
  (2:24 PM)

This is not a stretch.

John (Toronto)

Blue Jays David Cooper even close to top 100?

Keith Law
  (2:25 PM)

The next Jay would have been Jackson or Mills.

Josh (Los Angeles, CA)

So the Dodgers sold the 11th best prospect in baseball for about 2 million in the deal for Blake, if the reports are to be trusted. How egregious do you find this, when coming from a team in a market like Los Angeles?

Keith Law
  (2:26 PM)

I find it amusing that because of that relatively small amount of money, Cleveland may very well end up with more value for Blake than they did for Sabathia.

steve (ny)

Brackman IS 7 feet tall. or close enough. can you talk about him a little, since you didn't really answer the first question about him?

Keith Law
  (2:27 PM)

He was listed at 7'0" on his Cape roster, but I think he's actually 6'10". Not that this matters. He's really tall. 91-97 mph fastball, can add and subtract a little with it, good knuckle-curve with depth, command has always been an issue, delivery is good for his size but his size will always make it hard to keep the delivery together. Upside is enormous, #1 starter.

Matt (Alexandria, VA)

How far off the list is Hewitt? Would it have been better for the Phils to go in a different direction for last draft with the first pick?

Keith Law
  (2:28 PM)

I would not have taken him in the first round. Too low probability. And I do like upside/high-risk picks ... just not THAT high risk.

Stevie, Chicago

Hey Keith. What's the over/under on Mark Prior victories in 2009?

Keith Law
  (2:28 PM)

One.

Anthony (Paterson, NJ)

why wasn't Nate Schierholtz in your top 100

Keith Law
  (2:29 PM)

Call me when he takes a pitch.

Andy (Niagra Falls)

How much of Rick Porcello's lack of Ks last yr due to him being young for his league, or is that the pitcher he's destined to be in the bigs?

Keith Law
  (2:30 PM)

Changed his approach. Switched to a two-seamer and got groundballs at an insane rate. I always was a little skeptical of the hype on him, but the "new" Porcello is awesome.

Jayson, Houston, TX

What are your thoughts on Engle Beltre the young OF in the Rangers system. I have heard he was a star in the making. Thanks!!

Keith Law
  (2:32 PM)

He could be a star. But he drew 13 walks in almost 600 PA this year. I know he was young for his league, but he approaches each at bat like he's Charles Barkley headed for a "date."

Chris (Scotland)

Wait, so suddenly it is ok to replace k's with groundballs? Where was that talk when Wang was dominating with groundballs?

Keith Law
  (2:33 PM)

Groundballs are great. A pitcher has to do two of three things to succeed as a big-league starter: miss bats, get groundballs ( which usually means allowing fewer home runs), and avoid walks. Wang does two. Porcello does two and I don't think he'll be a slouch in the third.

Mike (SF)

NNNNNNNNNoonan!! Noonan!! Noonan!! Where's Noonan?

Keith Law
  (2:33 PM)

Schierholtz told me Noonan was too impatient to make it.

Mike (NJ)

Jonathan Niese or Carlos Carrasco (remember you may have to write a column about it so think CAREFULLY.

Keith Law
  (2:34 PM)

Carrasco is on the list and Niese isn't. Niese would be the better bet for 2009, but long-term I'd take Carrasco.

Fred (Long Island)

Hi Keith, No comment here... only to say sensational work again on your list of prospects. I especially like how you broke it out by position. You keep doing amazing work and I very much enjoy your analysis. Keep up the good work. I am hoping that next year there will be more Yankee prospects who will make your list.

Keith Law
  (2:35 PM)

Why not end on a high note for once? Thanks for all the questions. I'll be back in a couple of weeks.