Baseball America despite having only 15 full-time reporters/analysts, is one of the most respected sources of information on prospect rankings within the industry with it's annual prospect guide a must-have for anyone interested in the subject.
Matt, who is an Associate Editor in charge of coordinating their minor league coverage and running their website content in addition to being responsible for several different organizations, was kind enough to share his thoughts on this year's Padres' prospects.
When you make your top prospect list, how much input do you get from other writers?
Matt Eddy: For the most part it is just me. We get a compilation of reports from everyone who has seen the players play, but in the end I am the one who makes the list.
Are you able to see every prospect in person?
Matt Eddy: While I would love to, there are 30 major league teams each with five or six minor league teams. It becomes a lot for one person to cover, which is why we have other people at BA who can see the prospects I am not able to. I do get to see a majority of the players, especially those in the upper minors.
When you make your list how do you factor in performance versus ceiling? Is it a simple mix of both or do you weigh one more heavily?
Matt Eddy: Each list has to look at both of them. If anyone drastically favors one over the other, their list is bound to be inaccurate. Just like everything in life, it is everything in moderation.
You only have two players from the 2014 draft class in your Top 20 (Michael Gettys and Trea Turner). Was this a result of a weak draft class, or just tempered excitement for players who have yet to show what they can do in a full season league?
Matt Eddy: Usually unless we have overwhelming amateur reports on players, which we did for Turner and Gettys, we hold off on ranking a first year player too high. It is not because I do not like the prospect but rather I need to see how they handle the physical, mental, and emotional toll that happens in full season leagues.
I did have Ryan Butler and Zech Lemond just outside the Top 20. They are two prospects I like, but again want to see what they can do over the course of a full season before I go crazy with their rankings.
It seems like many scouts are finally souring on Austin Hedges. Should Padre fans be worried that his rankings are dropping, or still be optimistic that he is still considered one of the top catchers in the minors?
Matt Eddy: I haven’t heard anything from scouts or people that have seen him regularly that there is any reason to give up on him. I don’t think he is that bad of a hitter that you ever have to worry about him not being an everyday big league catcher. The first half of last year was really bad, but we saw improvements in the second half.
Also he was one of the few in terms of games caught in the minors last year with 106. His performance offensively wasn’t great, but San Antonio is a pretty good pitchers park so I don’t think anyone was too surprised with his numbers.
I think in the majors we are looking at .250-.260 with a home run total in the low teens. The thing that has me optimistic is that his walk and strikeout rates have improved which lead me to believe that he is capable of better numbers than he put up this past year.
BA’s list was made before A.J. Preller went trade happy and traded half of the farm. Now that trade season is, probably over. How far did the Padres fall in terms of farm system rankings?
Matt Eddy: I think before the trades we had them around 12-15. Slightly above average in terms of talent. After the trades… I am not sure just how far they fell but they lost a lot of quality players so you have to imagine there will be a steep drop off.
They do still have Matt Wisler, Hedges, and Hunter Renfroe all of whom are pretty close to the majors and producing which is a big help in terms of rankings. They also still do technically have Turner. While we are pretty sure it is a forgone conclusion that he is traded, anything can happen between now and June. So we have to still count him as part of the Padres team.
On your list you ranked four players as being “extreme risk” to achieve their future rankings. Two of them, Max Fried and Casey Kelly, are coming off of major surgeries so who knows how they will recover. The other two Franchy Cordero and Gettys do not have the same red flag risk. What makes them still extreme risks to reach their potential?
Matt Eddy: They are on the list because they are very much prospects and both have a considerably high ceiling, but the strikeout rates alone are real cause for concern. It is hard to produce when you are only putting so many balls in play.
With regards to Gettys there are a lot of mixed opinions on him. Some scouts don’t like the profile, which many have linked to being similar to Donavan Tate. The biggest thing was he really struggled at showcases in the months leading up to the draft, and that really scared teams off of him. In terms of tools he is one of the top ten players in the draft, and if it was only based on raw talent he would have easily been a top fifteen pick.
Yes, he looked good in the Arizona Rookie League but lets remember that is the same league that made Cedric Hunter look like an all-star. It is a different profile obviously, but a good showing in the AZL does not cement someone as being a top prospect.
With Cordero, there is just no way he will stay at short. His footwork has just been atrocious. When a player gets sent down a league and still has the same defensive problems… something is up. Do not be surprised to see him at either third or right field by the end of the year.
The footwork will still be an issue, but he has the arm strength and third is more about reaction time then footwork.
A year ago, Taylor Lindsey was one of BA’s top 100 prospects. This year he is barely making the Padres Top 20. Was his ranking just due to a flash in the pan, or was the 2014 season just a down year for a top prospect?
Matt Eddy: I really like Lindsey. In all my mock prospect lists for the Padres I had him in the Top 10. But when I was talking to other people, I could not find anyone else to get on board. It seemed like no one else was a fan of his except me. So eventually I cracked and lowered his ranking.
He is pretty much an all bat type of player. He could be a pretty productive major league player if he could play multiple positions, but considering he is not a great fielder even at second, and will never be thought of as a speedster… he will more than likely never make a major league team in a utility role which does affect his overall prospect status. I believe in his bat and think he could be an everyday second baseman.
You ranked Ryan Butler as having the best fastball in the organization. He progressed quickly through Eugene and Fort Wayne last year, what are the chances we see him in San Diego by the end of the year?
Matt Eddy: I would say virtually none. The Padres seem like they are going to keep him in that closer role, but if he they move him to start then there is definitely no way you see him in San Diego. One thing to note is that usually someone with a big fastball, can breeze through the first few leagues with nothing but their fastball.
Usually, when you get into High-A, and then definitely when you get to AA, do you see hitters that can recognize and hit a big time pitch.
That doesn’t mean he cant still be dominant, but rather we need to see if he is a pitcher rather than a thrower, before we light the way for him to San Diego.
Who is your sleeper pick for 2015?
Matt Eddy: Jordan Paroubeck. In talking with everyone in the AZL, he was one of the players that coaches and scouts were just raving about. It was expected that his power production would be off as he is recovering from shoulder issues, but if he can stay healthy in 2015 he has the ability to put up great numbers.