Interview: Baseball Prospectus’ Jeff Moore

A question and answer session with Baseball Prospectus’ writer covering Florida’s professional leagues.

Editor’s note

This is a free sample of the type of details on St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers that members of The Cardinal Nation can sample each day, all season long. For example, every Wednesday, TCN members can read Derek Shore’s Springfield Cardinals Notebook with all the happenings from the Texas League club from the prior week.

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Earlier this summer, I interviewed Baseball Prospectus’ Colin Young, who covers the Texas League. More recently, Young’s BP colleague, Jeff Moore, agreed to answer my questions about St. Louis Cardinals prospects.

A Florida resident, Moore covers the Florida State League as well as the Gulf Coast League, which brings him an opportunity to regularly see Cardinals prospects on their respective clubs - GCL Cardinals (Short-season, Rookie-League) and Palm Beach Cardinals (Full-season, High-A).

Jeff kindly agreed to take time out of his hectic schedule and answer my questions with his professional assessment on each. In the following exclusive interview below, the Prospectus team evaluator discussed Alex Reyes and his current development, the Rob Kaminsky-Brandon Moss swap, his thoughts on 2014 first rounder Luke Weaver, Palm Beach breakout pitcher Corey Littrell, and much more.

Derek Shore: First and foremost, you've seen Alex Reyes numerous times for the High-A Palm Beach club as well as written him up in numerous occasions on BP. Reyes was quickly promoted just one start off his shoulder injury to Double-A Springfield and has since made three starts at Double-A. The elite package is there for a potential front-line starter but do you see him developing enough command to reach that 70 OFP grade you gave him in May?

Jeff Moore: I'm not sure if he'll reach the command needed to be a 70 starter, but it's possible. I do, however, believe that he'll have enough command to remain a starter. Even with just average command he can still be a number two or three starter, though.

DS: In terms of raw stuff and at the same age, do you think Reyes matches Carlos Martinez or falls behind in that particular category?

JM: In terms of raw stuff, Reyes' one-two punch is probably better than Martinez's was at that age, but Martinez's arsenal was deeper.

DS: Jim Callis called the Kaminsky-Moss one-for-one swap a "flat-out heist on the Indians side.” Do you think Kaminsky was more valuable than practically a platoon player?

JM: Yes, that was a heist, and I'm not all that high on Kaminsky. Reports on his breaking ball from high school were excellent, but it was just average this year at Palm Beach. He'll need it because his other pitches don't have plus potential. That said, he still projects to be a big league starter and that's far too high of price to pay for Brandon Moss, even if pitching depth is a position of strength for the Cardinals.

DS: What have you seen in Cardinals 2014 first-round pick Luke Weaver? Can his slight frame hold up as a starter?

JM: Weaver really knows how to pitch and has weapons he can use at any time. A lot has been made of his slender frame, and he is quite skinny, which would worry me if there was any effort in his delivery. But he generates his velocity so effortlessly that I'm not terribly concerned. I think he'll be a solid 3/4 starter for a long time.

DS: You've spoken highly of Corey Littrell on BP, and the results have backed it up this season. You wrote Littrell "could be an important guy for the Cardinals in a year or two" in the Notes from the Field article from earlier in July. In what specific role do you envision for him?

JM: I can see Littrell being a guy the Cardinals have in Triple-A that they call upon a couple times a year for a few years and makes everyone say, "Where do the Cardinals keep pulling these guys from?" or "Isn't it amazing how the Cardinals keep overcoming all of these injuries?"

Then when he doesn't go away, he'll end up in the back of their rotation for a little while. It's a fringe starter profile, but his curveball should put him over the edge. He's going to be great pitching depth for them in a year or two.

DS: You gave Carson Kelly a 30 realistic grade, a 40 on OFP in your April scouting report, have you seen improvements in him in your recent viewings, particularly at the plate?

JM: Unfortunately no. If anything, Kelly has regressed even further with the bat as the season has progressed. He doesn't square balls up consistently at all and I can't remember the last time I saw him turn on a fastball. The bat is just slow.

DS: Anthony Garcia has turned the corner at Double-A Springfield, walking more than he has struck out with an OPS near .900. What's your thoughts on his profile?

JM: Garcia always offers big time power, but it came without a plan and with a free-swinging approach. So if he's reeled in the aggressiveness and is drawing some walks to go with the power, all of the sudden you have a player.

DS: On a different note, Breyvic Valera struggled in his transition to Double-A, do you see him being able to reach the big leagues with a pretty empty profile?

JM: Valera just doesn't offer much impact and essentially has to hit .300 to offer anything offensively, and I don't see that happening. No, I don't think he's a big leaguer for any extended period of time.

DS: My final question. Has there been anyone who has stood out to you at the Cardinals Gulf Coast League affiliate and/or disappointed you due to the hype?

JM: The depth of the Cardinals’ arms at the GCL level is impressive, and I liked Jacob Schlesener. He was a 12th round pick who signed for something like fourth round money and has a plus curveball, which is a really good starting point for a lefty.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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