J.J. Cooper of Baseball America hosted the Prospect Chat for the SAL Top Prospect list, so of course he got a few questions about some of our guys. Take a look:
Mike (utica, ny): What did scouts have to say about josh bell, luis heredia, and dilson herrera?
J.J. Cooper: …Herrera impressed a lot of observers. He’s improved his defense, although he’s still a little mechanical out there. He has good hand-eye coordination and projects as an average to tick above-average hitter. He’s an average runner. So what you have is a guy who is on the borderline of being an everyday second baseman or more of a second-division guy.
Tom Fitzsimmons (Matawan, NJ): I realize Ynoa is more of a pitchability guy than a stuff guy, but still....the guy voted the league Pitcher of the Year isn't top 20?
J.J. Cooper: He had a great year and I asked about him a lot, but his arsenal fits the profile of the kind of guy who dominated in low Class A. Ynoa has a great changeup, which is like a termite to young bats. But his fastball is 88-92 most often and his breaking ball sometimes comes and goes. I like him, but there are some reasons to be skeptical of his long-term success.
Russell (New York): Where might Brandon Nimmo have been ranked had his entire season been like his pre-injury April and post-recovery August?
J.J. Cooper: Hard to say because I was asking about the totality of his season to guys who saw him both when he was good and not so good. He was in that 21-35 range like a number of other guys. I do think his numbers this year were hurt by playing in Savannah. He’s a solid prospect.
Metro (NYC): How close were Herrera, Plawecki, Nimmo and Ynoa from making the list? What were scouts thoughts on this foursome?
J.J. Cooper: We’ve covered three of the four. Plawecki came very close to making the list with some scouts projecting him as a future regular catcher thanks to solid power and hit tools although there are still some concerns about his throwing arm.
So let’s break these down. Overall, encouraging opinions from Cooper on our quartet of prospects, but it would have been nice to see more than just Steven Matz on the actual list. Going one by one, we might have really gotten a steal in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade. Two veterans that had no place down the stretch on our team were turned into a solid bullpen arm and a solid prospect at second base. Good haul if you ask me. Nothing surprising was said about Plawecki up there. He’s a solid catcher because he calls a good game and he’s got respectable offensive talent. The main problem is his arm, which grades out to be…below-average at best.
As for Nimmo, he is still a solid prospect considering how young he is, but that star is flickering just a little bit. Playing in Savannah might have really hurt his stats down the stretch, as Cooper mentions, so we’ll see exactly how he does next year if healthy. The talk was that his return from the wrist injury basically sapped his power for the remainder of the year — so I’m itching to see a healthy Nimmo in St. Lucie. He was batting .400 early in the year with Savannah, so it was a confusing season.
Last, but certainly not least, is the SAL Pitcher of the Year Gabriel Ynoa. Tall task to win the award and not make the Top-20 Prospect List in your league — which is beginning to bother me more and more as I keep mentioning it. He walked just 1.1 batters per nine innings last year and owned a 2.72 ERA. Come on, guys. The concerns about his long-term future are valid — but he’s doing his best to prove the Negative Nancies and Debbie Downers wrong.