Q: Jon from Peoria asks:Lot of good stuff in there. Someone send Kevin a Thank You card, really...
Do you think Jones and Cabrera will remain at shortstop with the number of good middle infielders in the Mariners system?
A: Kevin Goldstein: The Mariners put Jones in centerfield occasionally at Double-A, and he'll get a full audition there in the Arizona Fall League. He's a spectacular athlete with great baseball instintcs, and he could flourish there, which could get him to the big leagues faster and help the organization figure out what to do with all of these shortstops.
Q: Shawn from Bellingham WA asks:
Thanks for taking my question. Love the chats!! How close was Mariners prospect Wladimir Balentien to making the top 20? Balentien has light tower power but he has a problem with strikeouts. What does he need to improve on to make it to the majors? Thanks again.
A: Kevin Goldstein: He was definitely on the 'ask about' list, but got little support. His raw power ranks with anyone on this list, but his effort was questioned by many, as was his ability to hit anything but a fastball -- as one manager put it, 'He's what breaking ball were invented for.'
Q: Sam from www.calleaguers.com asks:
Kevin, Can you give us an idea of how the Cal League ranks for you this year compared to the other full season leagues. I'm thinking more along the lines of impact potential as opposed to depth. Obviously it lacked in arms and depth in the teens but the top 10 looks as good as there is out there. Thoughts?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Gotta take a Sam question, as his obsession with the league is pretty unparalelled. The top 10 is very very good, with some elite names there, but it did kind of fall off after the top 12 or so. The Southern League had the best assemblage of talent in the minors this year, but few others matched the Cal League when it came to hitting. That said, pitching was pretty barren.
Q: Dave from New York asks:
Were the numbers put up in the league a product of a) serious collection of hitting prospects; b) lack of pitching; c) hitters league; or d) special, one-time allignment of the planets?
A: Kevin Goldstein: e) All of the above.
Q: Kiwi from Taiwan asks:
Thanks for the chat.What's your opinions about Adam Jones' defense as a shortstop(or where the problem is)? Ane do you think the Mariners will move him to CF with Reed there just because of Betancourt?
A: Kevin Goldstein: He's a good defensive shortstop, but the Ms need centerfielders more than they need shortstops right now. Jones has plenty of athleticism and one of the best arms around, two qualities that should serve him well in the outfield -- I'm a big, big Jones fan.
Q: Nelly from Sugarland asks:
Ryan Feierabend and Garrett Mock, both excelled in a "hitters league"...why no love for them?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Mock I've already touched on, but Feierabend is another guy who just missed the cut. Cal League hitters bashed him around to the tune of a .310 average, but he was only 19, took his turn on the bump every five days and showed some pretty good stuff. At least one scout put him down as a MLB starting pitcher.
Q: Ron from Utah asks:
What do you think of Inland Empire's Jason Mackintosh? Do you think that he has the potential to make it to the big leagues?
A: Kevin Goldstein: He's a strike thrower with a pretty complete arsenal, but he lacks that big pitch to project him as more than a reliever.
Q: Matt D from Seattle asks:
I'm curious why Asdrubal Cabrera is ranked higher in the CAL League then he was in the Midwest League. He put up much better numbers in Wisconsin, does it mostly have to do with age?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I was waiting for this one. The reasoning for this has multiple facets, and being an anal retentive chatter, I'll resort once again to the numeric list. 1. Jim Callis did the Midwest League list, and I did the California League list. While Jim and I agree on many things to a at times frightening level, we are still different people who see things in different ways. 2. The MWL is a 14 team league, and the Cal League is a 10 team league, so a bigger pot to pull from for Jim. 3. People saw Cabrera at shortstop in California, but he played mostly second at Wisconsin because that team had like a bazillion middle infielders. 4. Cabrera put up better offensive numbers after the promotion.
Q: Jessica from The Great NW asks:
Sebastian Boucher and Brian LaHair, were these guys close at all to making the top 20? Boucher's stats look alot like Jeremy Reed's (and Boucher's college stats are identical to what he's flashed in Low and High A this year, making a seemingly easy transition to wood bats)
A: Kevin Goldstein: Boucher's numbers may LOOK like Jeremy Reed's, but he's only four months younger than Reed, and he's still not out of A ball. LaHair did put up some big numbers overall, but he's a first baseman who needs a platoon partner (hit just .218 vs LHP).
Q: chris from madison, wi asks:
Jones had a nice break out season. Do scouts see him growing into his frame and hitting for more power as he gets older?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Yes. Many see Jones as being a teenager who already had a very good season in high A and Double-A, yet is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Again, I'm a huge Jones fan.
Q: Samantha from Everett asks:
How does Asdrubal Cabrera's bat project? From what I've heard he's a very good defensive shortstop. Does he have the potential to beat out Yuniesky Betancourt for the SS job in Seattle in the next couple years?
A: Kevin Goldstein: He's an excellent defensive shortstop. One of the best around in the minors from what I'm told. Offensively, he knows how to put bat on ball, but he doesn't have power, and he doesn't have a lot of on-base skills. One of those will have to change for him to be more than a bottom-of-the-order hitter, but he's only 19, so there's plenty of room for growth.
Q: Ben Hawkins from Babylon asks:
Prediction time: Who will be the #1 prospect in the Cal league next year?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Fun question -- don't hold me to it, but my early top of my head thoughts include Arizona's Carlos Gonzalez, Oakland's Javi Herrera and Seattle's Jeff Clement.
Q: John from Young Harris, GA asks:
With Cal league being known as a hitters' league, do you think it helps or hurts a pitcher's future success, both mentally and physically, by passing through the league?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Not a blackwhite issue, depends on makeup. It can really rattle a pitcher, or he can learn from it.
Q: Jamie from Chicago asks:
I think you're comment on Boucher is not fair considering he was in his FIRST season of pro ball, not having played at all in 2004 due to visa issues. That aside, what were managers saying about him? Ceiling?
A: Kevin Goldstein: People thought he could make it as a bench player4th outfielder type. Now, was it fair of your to compare Boucher's college performance to Reed's when Reed did it at Long Beach State and Boucher did it at Bethune-Cookman?
Q: Jaime from Chicago, IL asks:
Did Mumba Rivera come close to making the cut?I know he suffered from some wildness, but word is he was 91-94.
A: Kevin Goldstein: He did not. But his name is Mumba, so I'm rooting for him.
Q: Francois from Montreal, CAN asks:And there you have it. California League will be up on Friday, then a similar schedule for next week, with the M's getting mention on Monday (Texas League) and Friday (Pacific Coast League).
Did Sebastien Boucher receive consideration for the top 20?
A: Jim Callis: Boucher, an outfielder in the Mariners system, runs very well and got mentioned a couple of times. But he wasn't very close to making the Top 20.
Q: Jeff Clement from Montana asks:
Where would I have been ranked if I qualified? And Wilken Ramirez #20? Being one of the youngest players in the league, with his promise, it seems he should have been ranked much higher.
A: Jim Callis: Had Clement qualified, he would have been No. 2 on the list. Ramirez has a lot of upside, but he's also very, very raw and has no real position right now, hence his No. 20 ranking.
Q: Joe from STL asks:
What kept Nick Stavinoha off this list, and don't say his age bc that didn't seem to matter with Eli Iorg being 22 in the appy? You said Jeff Clement would have made the list and Stavinoha out hit him. .344.398.564 with as many walks as strikeouts is pretty impressive for your pro debut, especially in a full season league.
A: Jim Callis: Sigh. I like statistics as much of the next guy, and I like Stavinoha as a prospect. But come on, Joe. One guy is a catcher and one guy is an outfielder. It's not the same. And I would like a little more than a two-month sample size before determining that Stavinoha is a better hitter than Clement.
Q: Matt from VA asks:
Plouffe ranked ahead of Tui and Brignac? Was his second half performance the deciding factor? Or his defensive skills? His ranking just seems out of place when you compare the offensive production of the three shortstops.
A: Jim Callis: Plouffe's second half did help. While he doesn't have the same raw power Brignac and Tuiasosopo have, he also has fewer holes in his swing. And while Plouffe will stay at shortstop, it's unlikely the other two guys will.
Q: Christy from Peoria asks:
How would you compare this year's class with some of the great crops in the MWL of previous years?
A: Jim Callis: The Midwest League was very, very average by its standards this year. I've been doing our MWL Top 20 since 2000, and this was probably the least impressive class as a whole in those six years.
Q: Brian from Keyport NJ asks:
There was a ton of expectation for Matt Tuiasossopo before the season began, has his stock gone down after his first complete season? He is still very young at 19, but has his stock gone down in the overall picture?
A: Jim Callis: Maybe a little, but no one is giving up on him. He's definitely not a shortstop, but he's an impressive athlete who should hit for power once he gets away from using an inside-out swing.
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