Judging from my inbox, Twitter mentions and most of the questions here in the chat queue, I'm guessing there's some interest in Miguel Sano out there today.
any updates on the jarrod parker injury?
They're rehabbing him very, very slowly right now in an attempt to have him avoid surgery. I hope he doesn't need an operation because he has the best stuff I saw all year and probably has the best stuff of any prospect in baseball after Stephen Strasburg. It's a 70 fastball, a 60 to 70 slider and a potential 55/60 changeup on the 20-80 scale.
Sano signs with Twins: greater gain for Twins or loss for Pirates?
Gain for the Twins. Telling someone how much they will lose rather than how much they could gain is an excellent persuasion tactic, but there are 28 other teams that also didn't sign Sano, and the Pirates have one of the better groups of Venezuelan talent that will come over to the U.S. complex leagues next year.
Has Michael Stanton dropped in your eyes at all based on his low batting average? If he doesn't improve it in 2010, how will the experts view him?
No, and if anything his stock is up based on the adjustments he made to cut down on his strikeout rate in the Florida State League. Scouts don't seem to have any major issues with his swing, he's just a 19-year-old in Double-A. He's always going to have a high strikeout rate, but he's a tremendous athlete with 80 power and the strikeouts wouldn't be as noticeable if he was still in A-ball like most 19-year-olds.
Anthony Hewitt ranked in NYPL top 20? Does that speak to quality of players in the league? Is BA bullish on his upside?
The quality of that league was way, way down this year, thanks in large part to the Aug. 17 signing deadline. No, I'm not bullish.
Is there an update on Wagner Mateo, meaning other teams that are interested in him?
Before July 2 it looked like it was down to the Giants and Cardinals to sign him, and my understanding is that the Giants weren't happy that the bidding ended for him at $3.1 million. I think the Giants might have been willing to go even higher for Mateo, so I'd place the Giants as the favorites for now, but the situation is going to be much more complicated now.
Have any of these high priced "kids" worked out yet? Was it worth the money to sign Sano, or would theyhave been better off using that to add to the pile of money they'll need to fix 2B, SS, 3B, starting pitching next year. Mauer, Morneau, Cuddy - those guys only have so many peak years left.
How much help is $3.15 million going to buy you in the major league free agent market? Not even a win, probably seven or eight runs, maybe at the going market rate. I'd rather invest that money in amateur players. That said, many of the high-dollar Latin American signings have flamed out, which is one reason I don't give much weight to the size of a player's signing bonus in evaluating the players. The reports are much, much more important than the bonuses, though in Sano's case the reports are generally quite positive.
Scouts haven't seem to be high on Dayan Viciedo. What have you heard about or seen from the young Cuban?
He didn't recognize a changeup in the series I saw him, and scouts have said the same thing this year. He's incredibly strong and has impressive raw power, but it won't translate in games without a radical overhaul in his approach and pitch recognition. He's got a good arm, too, but I wouldn't be surprised if they moved him to first base as soon as next season.
Have you heard anything on Rafael DePaula, the pitcher from the DR suspended by MLB?
The word around the Dominican Republic for the last month or so is that he might try to go to Japan to play. Not many players have gone that route, and it would certainly be a dramatic cultural difference.
Better prospect duo: Heyward and Freeman or Stanton and Morrison?
Heyward and Freeman, though I'd rank them Heyward, Stanton, Morrison, Freeman
better prospect- dom brown or josh vitters?
Brown. More offensive value, possibly more defensive value as well because scouts have questions about Vitters' ability to remain at third base while Brown is a potential above-average defender in right field.
Would you say there is more talent in AAA and more potential in AA?
The level of competition is more advanced in Triple-A, but the prospects tend to be better in Double-A, at least after the first couple of months of the season when teams hold their prospects in Triple-A to prevent their service clocks from ticking.
Top prospect in the White Sox system, Flowers or Hudson?
Flowers. The reviews of his defense this year have been much better this year.
Marrero or Norris?
Derek Norris. Scouts have been highly critical of Marrero's offense and his defense this year.
What is the MLB ETA for Smoak and Alvarez? Thanks.
They should both be in the big leagues next year by midseason, though I wouldn't be surprised if the Pirates were more patient with Alvarez.
Where does Sano rank in Minnesota's top prospects? Were you at all surprised that Sano ended up signing with the Twins, and that the Twins were willing to pay that much?
No surprise. The Twins and Pirates were always considered the favorites to sign Sano. We'll figure out where he ranks in the offseason, but my estimate right now is likely top 10 with a chance at the top five. I'm not big on running 16-year-old Latin American signings up the rankings too high without at least a track record in either a U.S. complex league or one of the Dominican or Venezuelan summer leagues.
Best Orioles prospect Josh Bell, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta?
Bell. I still think Arrieta ends up in the bullpen, but Bell could be an above-average big leaguer if he ever figures out how to hit lefthanded pitching, even if it means giving up switch-hitting.
How bad is the Astro's farm system, really? The way it's talked about, they don't have one decent prospect within 3-5 years of the show.
It's still in that lower third tier of farm systems. There are a few interesting guys at the top with Jason Castro, Jio Mier, Jordan Lyles and Bud Norris, but it drops off rather precipitously after that.
What are the odds of Jesus Montero's defense behind the plate improving to the point where he could actually start there?
It's really, really, really hard to find a scout who thinks Montero will stay behind the plate. He has a decent arm but tools even play down a tick because of his lack of athleticism and quickness behind the plate.
Martin Perez... You here all the hype and the Johan comps but never anything concrete. Can you give us a brief scouting report on him and what to expect from him next year.
Low- to mid-90s fastball, plus curve, solid changeup. The comparison to Santana is because of his delivery, which is very free and easy.
Jaff Decker or Travis Snider long term?
Better long-term Reds prospect, Drew Stubbs or Yonder Alonzo?
Why did the Pirates give up on Sano?
They didn't give up on Sano, they tried desperately to sign him and I'm sure they're feeling crushed right now. The biggest mistake the Pirates made was doing any negotiating through the media. It makes sense for Rob Plummer to go to the media to market his client, but there is nothing to be gained for a major league franchise to use that platform to engage in that typo of discourse. But you can't say they gave up on him.
Harper, Cole, Tailon, and Renaudo. Rank them.
You've got the wrong chat. I know minor league prospects and international prospects. For draft coverage, I just do what everyone else does and read guys like Callis, Manuel, Glassey, Fitt and Rode.
Hey Ben, just a fun question...who is your favorite position player and pitcher to watch? Majors or Minors...
Longtime readers know my favorite major leaguer to watch is Pablo Sandoval. In the minors, probably Mike Stanton. Watching him hit against A-ball pitchers was like watching a grown man playing against children.
Ben, your thoughts on Austin Jackson. He gets favorable reviews, but I just don't see the power to put him as a top prospect, especially no power with all those strike outs. Thoughts?
He's a solid prospect, but he's not in the elite group of young center fielders like McCutchen, Rasmus, Fowler and Maybin.
Has there ever been a prospect you've seen and automatically thought he'd be a hall of famer??
No, that's way too high praise for any minor leaguer and it's hard to predict the longevity needed to make it to the Hall of Fame. But there are players who are so young, so advanced and who have such outstanding tools that it's impossible for anyone to miss them. Justin Upton, Joe Mauer and Jason Heyward would be recent examples.
Ben, do you share Jim Callis' views on where Aroldis Chapman would rank in a top 100 done today (i.e., somewhere in the top 25, lists about a dozen guys he'd certainly take above Chapman)? About where would Chapman rank on your list, particularly with regard to other pitchers (e.g., Bumgarner, Parker, Friedrich, Matusz)?
I do agree with Jim. He's an elite pitching prospect with a heck of an arm, but there's a bias in what tends to get reported about unsigned players that skews everything to be positive and minimizes or often doesn't even acknowledge the long list of risks involved with the player.
Do you know anything about the Twins other big international signing, Kepler from Germany?
His run, throw and field tools are all average to above-average, he has more athleticism and size than most European prospects that projects for future power when he matures physically. The question with him is whether he can cut down on the length of his swing, but he's only 16.
Elvis Andrus lived up to the hype this year for the most part, but will he always be a defense only SS with steals thrown in?
He's young enough and still has enough physical projection, bat speed and contact-hitting ability to become a much better offensive player. We've seen anywhere near Andrus' offensive peak yet.
You mentioned earlier that "the Pirates have one of the better groups of Venezuelan talent that will come over to the U.S. complex leagues next year." Care to elaborate on any of that talent? Thanks!
OF Exicardo Cayonez was a big signing for the Pirates last year who can hit and has a good approach at the plate, but he's just 17 so the power isn't there yet. Jorge Bishop is a speedy middle infielder who also has a solid approach with an advanced offensive game for an 18-year-old.
That's all for today. I'll be chatting again over at Baseball America with subscribers on Tuesday and Thursday next week to talk about the Carolina League and Southern League top 20 prospects rankings. See you then.