Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus has graciously volunteering to take some questions regarding his recent Phillies Top 11 Prospects piece. Some really good stuff here, thanks for your questions.
Thanks again to Kevin.
1. What are your thoughts on Jonathan Singleton, who obviously had a nice debut in the GCL?
I like Singleton a lot, but not enough to put him in the Top 15. I think people over-react in both directions to GCL/AZL debuts. Go look at the minor league records of Hernan Iribarren and Chipper Jones for good examples. There's a reason he got $200K as opposed to seven figures – it's because that's what kind of talent he is. It's certainly better that he looked good in the GCL as opposed to bad, but either of those scenarios shouldn't push one's opinion too far in either direction.
2. Of the gaggle of polished low-ceiling arms the Phillies have — Vance Worley, Yohan Flande, Mike Stutes, Mike Cisco, Matt Way, Austin Hyatt — which of them jump out at you? Are any likely to stick as back-end starters?
I actually like Stutes out of that group, as I think he has the most complete arsenal – it's really just a matter of improving his command and control. Still, I do think Flande is a big leaguer, just more likely out of a bullpen, while Way could go the same route.
3. Have any of the Zach Collier, Anthony Hewitt, Kyrell Hudson, Aaron Altherr crew of "toolsheds" done anything to indicate a possible breakout year, or is it the same old crapshoot?
It's pretty much the same old crapshoot. Like I wrote in the Top 11, scouts did see some very real progress in Hewitt in 2009, so there's a bit of optimism here, but all of these guys, as well as someone like Jiwan James, are high upside high risk talents. I don't want to be down on them at all; I actually fully support and agree with the philosophy of bringing these guys into the system. They're lottery tickets, but if you don't play, you don't win, and those organizations that always go the safe route tend to be stuck with average at base big leaguers in the end and few impact players.
4. How much does quality of instruction have to do with who does and doesn’t convert that raw talent to on-field performance, and where would you place the Phils among the 30 organizations as far as coaching acumen?
I wouldn't rank them at all. I'm just not qualified. This is another place where there is just way too much unfounded speculation. Unless you are there every day, and you are with the players during their workouts, instruction, in the locker room, etc., you are just in zero position to discuss the efficacy of one's coaching. There are great coaches out there who have had kids that for whatever reason they just couldn't connect to. It's a strange dynamic, but I also believe that the players themselves control their destiny far more than coaches.
5. There's no mention in your BP Phillies Top 11 entry on Phillippe Aumont about his questionable mechanics, and the rumored hip injury that lead many to conclude he’s not cut out for starting. Do you think Aumont can hold up in the rotation physically (and it’s just a matter of his secondary pitches coming along), or is he ticketed for the pen long term?
I just did an interview elsewhere about this and I went off there, so I guess I'll go off here as well. Who is questioning them? I'm not saying they're perfect, as they hardly are, but what is perfect? Show me a prospect who does NOT have some aspect of his delivery that you might have a problem with? Mark Prior had perfect mechanics, how'd that work out? Felix Hernandez has anything but perfect mechanics, you don't want him anymore? No pitcher is perfect, nearly all pitchers get hurt, it's just a fact and I think at times people are just looking for things not to like. I understand why Seattle put him in the pen, as he could move very quickly in that role, but I like Philly seeing if he can start, as they can be more patient. I've seen him in person on numerous occasions; I've seen way worse mechanics, I've seen way better.
6. What are your thoughts on Freddy Galvis as a hitter? Is he just struggling with being moved up quickly, or learning to switch hit? Or, should we just be happy with his baseball magnet like defense, because he’ll spend his career at the Mendoza Line?
It's certainly a possibility. The fact that he makes contact gives me some optimism, but even the most optimistic projection for him is a very good glove guy who hits eighth. The bigger concern for me was an approach that took a step backwards in 2009. He's obviously never going to have power, so he needs at least some on-base skills.
7. Yohan Flande and Justin De Fratus – thumbs up or down?
Up! As long as I can temper expectations, here. I think they're both big league relievers. As a lefty with a very nice change, Flande has enough right there, while De Fratus' numbers are even better than they look when you separate out just his relief appearances, where his stuff plays way up. I don't think either is a closer, or even a set-up man, but you need middle relievers too.
8. Is Joe Savery cooked? Any chance of a conversion back to first base?
I don't know if he's cooked, but he's not going well. There's no way a move to first base would work, just zero chance. If he was an up-the-middle player or something you might consider it, but first base is a whole other story. If you want to be a first base prospect of any note, you have to be an absolutely elite-level top-notch freakin' monster offensively, and he's not that.