Cubs Prospects: An Interview with Project Prospect's Adam Foster

Cubs Prospects: An Interview with Project Prospect's Adam Foster
Torreyes (Photo taken from mwltraveler.com)

If you haven't visited Project Prospect's website, you should.  Adam Foster and the crew do a fantastic job giving first hand evaluations of MLB prospects.  They're outside the box thinkers so you'll get opinions and evaluations that are different takes than what you might see everyday.  One example Cubs fans will like is the ranking of newly acquired prospect Ronald Torreyes as the #75 prospect in baseball.  They also ranked the Cubs farm system as the 15th best  in all of  baseball.  They do more than prospect lists, however.  They do individual scouting reports and articles which give you some insight into the scouting process.  I asked Adam a few questions about some popular Cubs prospects and he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to respond.

Here's the interview...

John: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you evaluate players. (i.e.,Do you use statistics, traditional scouting, or a combination of the two?)

Adam: You have to be a combination of the two these days. Minor league data, at least the stuff that's available to the public, isn't nearly good enough to use as a stand-alone method to evaluate minor leaguers. Seeing a guy in person and/or studying up on film of him is also a must. The numbers can only tell you so much. I try to learn as much as I can from every available angle. 

John:  How concerned are you about Anthony Rizzo's struggles at the major league level last season?  Do you feel it exposed a weakness and, if so, do you think it's one that can be corrected?

Adam: They're worth noting for two big reasons. 1. He played in a hitter-friendly Triple-A environment and produced to a level that expectations started to get very lofty. 2. First basemen need to hit a ton in the big leagues to be impact regulars. Rizzo's short MLB stint and struggles should serve as a reminder that there is a learning curve and there's surely a chance that he doesn't hit enough to be an average big leaguer. That said, he's young with big power and some patience. As far as minor leaguers go, there aren't many better starter kits for potential average or better MLB first basemen in the upper minors as Rizzo. 

John: Junior Lake seemed to have something of a breakthrough in the AFL. Did you see an improved approach in the field and at the plate or was it the fluky result of a small sample size?

Adam: This year at the fall league was the first time I saw Lake play. Keep in mind that the AFL is a very hitter-friendly environment where the pitching level is around High-A. A lot of guys produce there. Lake doesn't have a good plate approach nor is he a good bet to stick at shortstop. He's a physical presence with power upside, but I saw an aggressive approach that's not close to big-league ready. 

John: Speaking of approaches, my personal observation of Vitters is that he's not a wild swinger in the Soriano sense so much as that he swings at too many pitcher's pitches and doesn't work the count enough.  The hope here is that Vitters is still young and can learn, especially with a front office that emphasizes OBP and grinding out ABs.  In your experience, is plate discipline something that can be corrected or is Vitters doomed to be the Cubs version of Jeff Francoeur?

Adam: You're more hopeful about Vitters than I am. He has a beautiful swing and makes some impressive contact, but he doesn't have a clue at the plate. He doesn't work the count. If anything, he'll take pitches, but he's not identifying that it's not his pitch and holding off. He's largely deciding if he will swing at anything close before the pitch has been thrown. I've seen very little progress in the way of plate approach from Vitters over the years. I'm not sure if he's programmed with a hitting mindset that will work, given his tools, in the big leagues. I think banking on him ever surfacing as a reliable regular is pretty ambitious. 

John: Ronald Torreyes seems to have an uncanny knack of squaring up on the ball.  I'm worried that some reports have him listed at 5'7", do you think he will have extra base power in the majors? What's your opinion on his glove at 2B?

Adam: Torreyes' upside is as a gap-hitting second baseman. He's a pretty solid bet to reach it, too. From what I've seen from him, he's more of a gets-the-job-done guy at second base than defensive asset.  

John: Do you think Javier Baez has the skills to play SS or possibly 2B and if not, does he have the bat to carry 3B or LF?

Adam: I've seen a limited amount of footage of Baez on defense. I don't see him as a shortstop or second baseman. He could hit enough to be an above-average regular at third base or left field, though. There's a lot to like with his bat.

 

Comments

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  • As always John, very informative , I love hearing from different perspectives!! This is why your site is the best, the more voices we here the more we know

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thanks Steve. I like the different perspectives as well -- although I have to say that Josh Vitters is losing a whole lot of momentum as a prospect.

  • Cool post, Adam seems like a really nice guy. He does some very interesting work over at project prospect.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I found him to be a good guy. He's an up and comer in the prospect world. Hope to see more from him.

  • Thanks, any new perspectives we can get on the Cubs prospects
    the more we can judge them.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Exactly. I like the positive report on Torreyes. I'm looking forward to seeing him play, but may not get a chance to do so until he reaches Tennessee.

  • Great read as usual John. I wish you could have asked Adam about a few other players like Dan Vogelbach and Concepcion. According to Project Prospects page this is what they had to say about Ol Danny Boy:

    Dan Vogelbach, 1B CHC - LOL level raw power.

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Perhaps next time? I wanted to limit the questions and I decided to go with the guys he's seen more of. Hopefully at some point later he'll get a closer look at guys like Vogelbach and Concepcion.

  • Did any of you guys see the Van Dyck piece that makes it seem like Soler is pretty much a done deal? He's not the greatest analyst but is certainly very credible- not a big rumor monger .

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Just read it, and you're right, Van Dyck doesn't print nonsense rumors.

    But $27.5 mil for 3-4 years for a 19 yr old? He's not expected to be readfy for 3-4 years, so we're going to pay a kid $6-9 mil per year to play in the minors, while he also takes up a 40 man roster slot? Ugh.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That's just a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a player in the minors, no matter who he is. When super youth baseball athletes see these numbers they forget about hitting the books and focus only on trying to make it to the pros. I don't like it!

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I have serious doubts on the years and dollars being reported, especially if it's not a minor league deal. No way I can see this getting done for a contract less than 6 years.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I did see it. I don't think he'd intentionally mislead, but I'm wondering if maybe he jumped the gun here. I'm waiting to see it from a second source.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Kevin Goldstein just tweeted that he's taking the Van Dyck report very seriously. That has to mean something right??

  • In reply to jpp0621:

    Goldstein's very connected, so it's very encouraging. Not sure if he has heard anything, but he seems to have a lot of respect for Van Dyck and his sources.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Rant Sports also has a story but seems like he's just sourcing the Trib.

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    Don't get me wrong, I love adding the young talent. I just hate giving up a 40 man roster spot (and the salary) to someone who nobody is projecting to be major league ready for 3-4 years.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I agree. Not crazy about the contract at all if it's as reported -- but Cubs have money to spend and they badly need impact talent. Soler has that kind of potential. Big price, but Cubs are desperate.

  • If the Cubs and Soler have already come to an agreement, isn't there a fear that bud will step in and declare the agreement null and void, since Soler hasn't been declared a free agent yet? It is my understanding that they can't "officially" begin to negotiate yet.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    If it's just a verbal agreement, I don't believe there's anything they can do about it. They're free to talk with him, just can't sign him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Any idea how long it will be before he is "officially" declared a free agent and is able to sign? I have read that all 3 Cuban players are expected to be in their camps for spring training, but that seems like a very short window if Soler is still waiting to become a free agent.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Those things are messy and not easily pinned down. Lots of red tape involved, but I imagine he's getting pretty close.

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    Teams were negotiating with Cespedes before he came here i'm sure...I don't think the Cubs would do anything to screw this up, it would be a HUGE signing!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I'm sure they were too. Cubs met with Cespedes several times and it wouldn't surprise me if some numbers were thrown around. It would be big in terms of acquiring talent.

  • From what I understand even though he is not a Free Agent, he can still sign a contract. John what do you know about this?

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    That is not correct. Van Dyck is mistaken. He needs to be a free agent and get his unblocking license. As far as I know, he hasn't done either.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Right John. I was a little confused when I read Van Dyck's report but I went with it since he knows more about this stuff then I do. Big typo there and it opens the door to more speculation then facts. Thanks for the clarification.

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    My guess is that he's thinking teams can agree with players beforehand. It has happened frequently enough in the past from what I understand.

  • So this just seems like a verbal agreement? Any chance another team offers a deal bigger than the Cubs reported 3-4/27.5M, and he changes his mind and signs with them?

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I suppose there's a chance but I don't believe that would happen. Agents and teams need to have some trust in their relationships and backing out on a deal like that would not be good for that agent's reputation.

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    Kevin Goldstein tweeted the thinks Soler and the Cubs have agreed, he just can't officially sign yet.

    He also tweeted that he would consider Soler the Cubs number 1 prospect ahead of Brett Jackson and Rizzo. High praise, especially when nobody has seen the kid play much.

    https://twitter.com/#!/Kevin_Goldstein/status/169270049151004673

    https://twitter.com/#!/Kevin_Goldstein/status/169274943488524289

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Thanks. I just put up a quick article...but I'm leaving it uncertain for now. It is encouraging that Goldstein thinks it's a done deal, but the word "believe" indicates that he may not have actual confirmation yet.

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