Baseball America lists Cubs top 10 prospects

Baseball America lists Cubs top 10 prospects
Albert Almora

Baseball America released it's top 10 list yesterday and there is one major surprise...

  1. Javier Baez
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. C.J. Edwards
  4. Albert Almora
  5. Jorge Soler
  6. Pierce Johnson
  7. Arismendy Alcantara
  8. Jeimer Candelario
  9. Dan Vogelbach
  10. Arodys Vizcaino

The surprise is the high ranking of C.J. Edwards.  That's not to say Edwards is not a very good prospect but ranking him ahead of Almora and Soler raised a few eyebrows.  For me Almora is a lock top 3 guy and if you put emphasis on floor, position value, and defense, you can even make a case for him as the Cubs top prospect overall.

John Manuel, who wrote this year's version in the absence of Jim Callis, who left for MLB.com, admitted in his chat that he just has a huge man crush on Edwards and probably has him rated higher than most.

I don't have any qualms with the rest of the list, but that was one surprise that jumped out at me.

Other interesting rankings...

  • Jacob Hanneman was ranked as the Cubs fastest runner and best athlete, categories normally pinned down by Matt Szczur.
  • Kyle Hendricks didn't make the top 10 (he is in top 20 somewhere) but is considered to have the best command and best change-up in the system.
  • Will Remilliard is the Cubs best defensive catcher.
  • Almora and Baez got the edge over Bryant in the categories of best hitter for average and best power hitter, respectively.  Jeimer Candelario rated as the hitter with the best strike zone discipline.
  • Edwards rated as the pitcher with the best fastball and curveball while Johnson's slider ranked as the best in the system.

Other Notes...

  • Both international signings Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres came close to making the top 10.
  • 7 or 8 of the Cubs top 10 may make BAs top 100.

 

 

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  • I sure hope Manuel is right about Edwards. It will be very interesting to see how he does at AA this year. The Edwards ranking was a surprise for me, but I was a little surprised that Olt didn't make the top 10. Does anybody know where he ranked? Was BA high on Olt last year?

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    There are concerns about his vision that is the issue.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I think he'll probably be in that next tier (11-20) until he proves he's past eye issues.

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    In reply to KSCubsFan:

    It wouldn't shock me if Edwards has a overall better career then Almora. Although as noted, its one mans opinion. Personally I hope Almora becomes a slightly slower version of Jacoby Elsburry w better OBP skills and hopefully a little more pop, but I could also see him falling short of expectations.

    Olt is not longer going to be graded on intangibles, he is now graduated into the "do something on the field and then we will rank you"

  • I would like to see the reaction of Texas's FO to that news, I think that is simply one man's opinion. While I hope it turns out to be, I can't agree that Edwards is near that high.

  • It would hard to rank Olt with that concussion injury. The prognosis for those are so unpredictable.

  • John, what would happen next spring if Bryant and Soler and some of the other top prospects came to spring training and out played all their competition? Any chance of these guys sticking with the club and winning a job in 2014? We need a stud at 3B for sure and a right handed hitting outfielder like Soler in our everyday lineup.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    There is absolutely no chance either of them make the team, but especially Soler as he has way too much development to do. Bryant will be with the Cubs mid summer at the earliest.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    I asked John...

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    In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Fair enough. I think John has answered this question numerous times over the course of the last two years.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Sorry if I am not supposed to respond to you Michael. Now if we were the Marlins, anything goes. But who would want to be the Marlins or a Marlins fan anyways. I mean they ended up bringing up Fernandez and they got lucky with him performing well. Not saying Bryant couldn't do it, but not in his best interest.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    So you are basically saying we should send Castro back down until he is ready, because he was up at 20. Maybe you are right. I see Bryant as a more seasoned player due to his college play and why wait if he shows he an handle it. Soler is young, but Cespedes and Puig are thriving...

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Castro shouldn't have been brought up when he was as has become evident by some of the issues. Numbers in the minors don't guarantee success, but tendencies and adjustments in the minors are crucial. Of course his head has been messed with since, but still. Cespedes is much older as he is now 28, so that is a non issue. Just because someone else has performed well like Puig doesn't make it right with everybody else. Soler had a lot of time off from playing any baseball (longer than Puig) etc. Wouldn't you rather Bryant get better without all of the pressure etc? I would like to see him start to get comfortable with pitchers at least in AA since that is where the bigger jump is supposed to occur. The fall league helps his case, but still not enough. Also as has been repeated numerous times spring stats don't mean anything either as pitchers are refining pitches etc not always just trying to get outs with what is working.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    I agree with everything you say Cubs Future! You may not be supposed to respond because people don't like your answers!

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    Agree on Céspedes, didn't realize his age.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    And so if Trout has a down year in 2014, then he too should not have been brought up in 2011 at age 19? If Wacha falls off this year, then he too was rushed? We can go on and on with young stars.

    It's an easy cop out to say Castro was brought up too soon. He had 2007 hits in 2001 and 183 in 2012. He somehow made all the necessary adjustments in those two full seasons over the course of 1320 at-bats.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Castro should not have been brought up when he was. He is a prime example of why prospects should not be rushed. It does not hurt every one, but it hurts enough that it is a poor policy to bring up a prospect before he is ready, with the expectation that he will "develop in the majors". It happens. Mostly, it doesn't. And after 3 or 4 years, sending him back to the minors will probably not be of much help.

    That said, Bryant is so advanced that, although unlikely, it is not inconceivable that he could make the team out of SP. But don't hold your breath.

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    In reply to Cubs Future:

    I'd like to know which of Jose Fernandez's stats indicate he was a lucky pitcher last year? Was it his 9.75 K/9? How about his 0.98 WHIP? I guess you are incredibly lucky if you don't actually put men on base. Maybe it was his 0.52 HR rate? It's probably incredibly lucky that opposing batters couldn't make good enough contact to put his pitches in the seats.

    So he strikes guys out, doesn't walk many hitters and keeps the ball in the park. Lucky stiff.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Word matter Michael, except when politicians say them. But in sports talk, there is no equivocating. He said the "Marlins" were lucky, not Fernandez. Unlucky is when you throw a slider in the dirt 8" off the plate and Soriano hits it for a grand slam.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Wow, my 5th graders would make that kind of a response when someone is only trying to help you.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    My question was specific to John, becauseI didn't want a bunch of answers. Your 5th graders would have read the question 1st.

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    In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Is this real life?
    Am I sleeping?
    Am I hungry? Who's hungry?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm hungry and I ate breakfast not long ago. What's for lunch?

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    you don''t have to be such a jerk about it. All he did was answer the question.

  • In reply to Tide23:

    Didn't mean to be, but my question was specific to John for a reason. Over the last 53 years following the Cubs I have seen many college players come up quickly to the majors and do quite well. I am hoping Bryant is one of those guys.

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    In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Why don't you ask Theo Epstein instead then? I mean if you really want the answer, why not go to the guy who makes the decisions? Damn, mom left the crusts on my PB&J. Who wants to trade lunches?

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    do you have a good snack? If not, that is a definite deal breaker.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Actually, Theo told me at the FSL Championship that Bryant would be starting the year in Tennessee, and Baez in Iowa (or at least that it is "the plan"). True story!

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    I remember you saying that.

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    I remember you posted that. That's a pretty cool story. Hope you git a picture with him.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Listening to this site, everyone thinks they are Theo. Simple questions get turned into nightmares.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    No chance on that Roe. The Cubs aren't going to put in a lot of stock in spring training stats because it's such a short sample and prospects tend to play later in the game and face other minor league players anyway.

    I do think a good spring could put them on the radar, but nobody is making the team out of spring training.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you. That is all I asked.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What are chances of Olt winning 3B job and Vitters filling the right handed OF bat for 2014?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And this is the best and least emotionally inspired answer!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Thanks :)

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    It would be a desperation move, not a pragmatic move. Why would they bring up players who would only improve the team to make some fans happy, and start the clock a year early? The Cubs will not compete in any circumstances for at least another year. After sorting out prospects next year, some will be available for trades to boost a 2nd or 3rd tier pitching staff.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Thus none of our top prospects have a chance to make the Cubs in 2014. That was my original question to John specifically. Thank you.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Hopefully we see a couple of them sometime during the season if things go well.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Which ones have the best chance to help this season?

  • BA also ranked top 15 players under 25 years old - and Castro, Rizzo, Grimm and Lake on that list as current MLB players. It means that they effectively had Hendricks #11 on the prospects list so just barely missed top 10.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Pretty cool to see Grimm and Lake on there too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    great news. We are making progress.

  • This was really good news. As many as EIGHT in the top 100. Wow!

    The CJ news was a shocker. He has the stuff & definitely the production to warrant a top 50, but has only pitched 7 innings twice in his career. Do you see him at about 160-180 innings this year, no matter what the level? If he can do that & keep his velocity late in ball games & late in the season that would be great news.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Agreed. It's all about durability with Edwards. If he is that rare freak of nature ilke Satchel Paige and prove the experts all wrong. The more pessimistic side of me cant help but think of someone like Rich Harden, who had top of the line stuff but could never quite put a full season together.

    I'm willing to gamble he makes it -- a lot of people didn't think Sale would last as a starter, but to bet as highly as #3 prospect is beyond what I would do. I had him at #5 and struggled between him and Pierce Johnson for that spot.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Saw Satchel Paige pitch live, what a thrill.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wouldnt call a comparison to Rich Harden pessimistic at all. He may have been injured a lot but he also put up three 3+ WAR seasons in limited playing time. If Edwards can do that in his first 6 years, that would be awesome. Even if hes only on the field half the year, he could still be a ace quality pitcher for the starts he can make and there is a lot of value in that.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    But he wasn't a front line starter, which is what we're talking about here

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I disagree slightly. Harden was a front line starter for the half of the season that he pitched. He didnt really fall into the conventional #1/#2 category but he pitched like a #1 or 2 when he pitched, which is very good. If Edwards can produce similarly, we should be happy. Think about it like this if you can get 3 WAR from the 100 or so innings that Edwards pitches in, then another 1 WAR from the replacement for the other 100 innings, then the cubs still get 4 WAR from that spot in the rotation. Edwards may have the same durability as Harden, but he can still be very valuable to his team like Harden was. Especially in a must win situation like a playoff run (like when the cubs got harden), I would sacrifice durability for quality in a heartbeat.

  • Also, I dont know if you saw this John, but look who's #1...

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/identifying-2013s-most-unhittable-pitches/

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    In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    don't forget #3 among starters, everyone least favorite pitcher.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    and Garza at #9....

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Wow. Strop really looked good. Hopefully he can continue to throw strikes.

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    I'm a CJ fan like everyone else, but #3 seems like madness.

    I was just reading on fangraphs that by the 6th inning, his velocity was usually down to the 80's and he was essentially a soft tosser in the 2nd half of his games.

    Granted, the article mentions that his velocity was improving as the season went on, but still... Even the Chris Sale comparisons seem unfair. Sure they're both slight but Sale is very tall, and thus still has 30 lbs or so on CJ. Love the stuff, and hopefully he can fill out a little as he matures, but until he does I think #3 is an unwise assessment.

    I don't get Olt's omission from the top 10 either. Concussion concerns may be valid, but behind Candelario? No.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I read that article about five times last night. It's worth reading over and over because you sense that the guy wants to believe that Edwards is the real deal, but his analysis tells him something completely different. I think a lot of those who see Edwards as a reliever point to his diminished velo as the game goes on. Plus, don't forget, he repeated a level last year. I think if he pitches well at AA next year he proves he's a legit. he certainly is a candidate for regression however. But anybody with those stats would be.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Why do you keep saying that Edwards repeated a level last year?

    He did NOT repeat a level.

    In 2012 he played Rookie Ball, and A- (Spokane)

    In 2013 He played A ball (Hickory) and then when the Cubs got him they moved him to A+ ball (Daytona)

    He did NOT repeat a level.

  • It's pretty cool that Elroy and Gleyber have the kind of upside to be considered.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That is amazing considering their age.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    In the chat Manuel said that one version of his Top 10 had Jiminez on it...crazy for a 16 year old.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I would put Elroy and Gleyber in wave number 4. wave after wave after wave after wave This is going to be fun.

  • Have to say that one of Manuel's comments really irked me and makes me think less of BA's evaluation process. Manuel said that while the Cubs have a top 5 system, it's not balanced enough between hitters and pitchers to be ranked higher.

    Who cares? Talent is talent, if you have a huge number of potential impact players and quality depth, who cares if those are heavily weighted on the pitching or the position player side?

    To me, a ranking of the best farm system should be which team has the most valuable assets in that farm system, taking into account both depth and impact players. Whether those players fall on the pitching side or position player side shouldn't matter.

  • I read Manuel's chat and there were two things that really stuck out to me...

    1) He is really down on Olt and said he's not sure Olt will ever be a productive player again.

    2) He said some scouts have concerns over Bryant's swing and called the changes a "shortcut" that he will have adjust as he moves forward. Had not heard those concerns before and after last season, making swing adjustments scares me.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    I don't know. Pujols did pretty well with a wide stance :)

  • Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 25m
    @2008_nbalottery @zackcar21 Almora could end up being a 5+ CF with a .300 bat and 20+ HR potential. That's a role 7 player as a ceiling.

    Also said he should be ready by 2015...

  • I have a similar concern with Olt, that he's never really going to become the player they thought he would be . I'm surprised by Edward's higher ranking by Almora, but Manuel's admitted man crush explains that.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    We all have our little man crushes when it comes to prospects, I guess :). Mine are Almora and Blackburn.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I guess mine are Szczur and Hanneman. Looks like I like the CF types.

  • In reply to John57:

    In the minors, mine are and remain Willson Contreras and Dan Vogelbach... both hardworkers and great cheerleaders for their teams.

    I've never seen the love for Matt Szczur - he looked like an automatic out last year in Spring Training, though he may have developed last season.

    My all time player crush has been Reed Johnson - I've never seen a player try harder whatever the limits of his talent or gametime... Now he has been released by the Braves I'd like to see him back again as the 5th Outfielder.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You would steal my man crushes, John

  • In reply to NathanE:

    Haha ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have to admit one on someone I have never seen....Mark Malave. Perhaps the switchhitting catcher with good plate discipline concept just swooned me, despite his having no performance for my excitement.

    Underwood and Maples are also crushes...just the vast potential.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Olt & Edwards -- Let's hope for the best.

  • That list is a thing of beauty!

    Nice to see the variety of positions represented there (all with high upside potential).

    More left-hand hitters and SPs will need to be targeted in this year's draft to help balance that list out, going forward.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    True...and not the best balance, but there are some real good players there. For me, I'd rather have the best players available than a mix of talent because you never know who will work out and who won't, so how do you know when 4 top RH hitters is enough? And if they all turn out, you have assets to get what you need rather than reach for a guy because he's lefty or a SP.

  • Out of curiosity, is there a point or level that Edwards can reach that will alleviate a scout's concerns over stamina or will they be concerns until he's showing endurance for several seasons? Basically, will the majority of scouts be swayed with a great AA season where Edwards doesn't fade or will he always have mostly doubters about his TOR potential?

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    I think it's more about carrying a front line starter's load for 2-3 straight seasons. Think Rich Harden -- front line stuff, but never had the durability to be a front line guy because of the intense workload. Was a #3 at best and after his injuries he became more of a bottom of the rotation guy who could give you 5 good innings.

    This is not to say Edwards will suffer Harden's fate, but it's an example of why many scouts are skeptical until he shows he can be the kind of horse you like to have at the top of the rotation.

  • If Edwards makes it to the majors, what type of adjustments must he make to be successful in the role he ends up having as either a starter, reliever or closer, and which of these roles does he best project to?

  • In reply to Cleme:

    I don't really think it's a matter of adjustments for him. He has a clean delivery and the ball explodes out of his hand. He's athletic and I believe his command will continue to improve. With him it's just a question whether he holds up and how much he can handle. We may just have to wait and see on that.

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    In reply to Cleme:

    Or he could be a freak of nature and end up like a Pedro Martinez. Sure he was slight, but I wouldn't say many questioned his durability. Pitching all those innings in the AL east in the midst of the steroid era.

    Oh maybe jedstein did find his David Ortiz but as a pitcher !

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yes, hopefully he turns out to be something like that.

  • I'm not sure who's to ultimately blame (could be a combination, including Harden himself as possibly the biggest reason), but I'll never stop believing that Harden could have been a dynamite closer if he was just put in that role at the beginning of his never ending injury cycle.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    I've often wondered about that too. I think he would have been great in that role.

  • Six inning pitchers are valuable in today's game with specialists in the pen. The staff does need an innings eater or two to keep the late innings guys fresh.

  • Olt is almost impossible to rate. If his eyesight heals, he should be rated 4 or 5 in the system. But if it doesn't heal, he should probably not be in the top 30.

    And there are doctors who are saying that he WILL NOT heal, whil the best that some others can say is that he MIGHT heal. It's kind of like buying a lottery ticket. If you win, you win really big, but if you don't win, you fail completely.

    And the odds are greatly against winning

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Could you provide a source for these reports of doctors saying he will or won't heal?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I don't think that anybody knows.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Dave, I remembering reading an interview with Olt and he said he is looking forward to next season because his eyes are fine now. I think it said he had to put drops in his eyes. That interview didn't imply that any more healing was needed. Now I am sure he will be a little rusty and his confidence won't be sky high, but I don't see why he shouldn't be a top prospect again. He was the 16th overall prospect after 2012.

  • I was surprised by what was said about Vogelbach. That he's possibly too fat to turn on inside pitches, meaning it will prevent him fully tapping into his power. I'm hoping this is incorrect. I'd heard that the Cubs were consciously trying to get him to go the other way. So I hope that report is just misinterpreting his approach changes this year. I hope developmentally the Cubs are working on making him more of a complete hitter. Using the whole field. To trust his opposite field power. And next year is step 2, learning which pitches to turn on and punishing them.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    on the plus side, Manuel did say Vogelbach had a great approach.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    John,

    What have the Cubs done, if anything, to try and get Vogelbach in better shape? He can have a very lucrative career if he just put in the work in the off-season to cut his body fat.

  • In reply to Gladiator:

    He's actually dropped approx 30-40lbs since he's been drafted. his older brother is a personal trainer/nutritionist and I remember him saying something about how he was finally starting to listen to his brother and take his weight seriously. This was at a pre-draft HR Derby in AZ.

    I have no idea what kind of diet/regimen the Cubs have designed for him or if they left what his brother did intact. The guys is built like John Kruk, only stronger. He's never going to have a "Beach Body". We can only help that he's adequate defensively. His bat will carry a less than avg defensive skill set.

  • In reply to Gladiator:

    Gladiator,

    I'm not sure what they have done but the difference in body shape and weight between Spring Training and late July this year at Kane County were huge...

    I'm surprised at the constant criticisms of him as he is obviously working hard and is durable - as evidenced by lack of games missed.

    He is also in far better physical shape already than Prince Fielder and Adam Dunn etc etc...

    Also considering the regular assumptions regards poor defense, he has improved again in leaps and bounds.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    I saw VogelBOMB turn on an inside FB just above the knee and he sent 450ft in the air and 450ft in distance over the RCF wall... IDK where Manuel is getting this impression of him. everything I've read has been plus-plus power, plus avg. maybe he struggles wit ha FB up and in, but most of them do...

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Lol! I think that is one of the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

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    In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Maybe the HS version, but he's in much better shape now. Still no six pack, but he's no fatter than Darrin Ruf or Matt Adams.

  • Gordon Wittenmyer ‏@GDubCub 3m
    Mueller Time for Cubs hitters? Sources say Cubs targeting former batting champ as coach http://bit.ly/1eIs5Fd

    Liked him when he was a player...great approach at the plate...

  • Hopefully CJ is working out with Blackburn this offseason, the guy went from an average skinny HS kid to looking like a horse in one offseason.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Or maybe the Cubs can figure out a way to transplant some of Vogelbach's mass into Edwards?

    I've also got some extra poundage I'd be happy to donate to C.J. if it would help...

  • John, if Viscaino is healthy is he projected to make the team sometime this year?

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    I think he will but it will probably be out of the bullpen. They'll have to monitor his innings again this year since he didn't get to pitch much.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It looks like the bullpen should be strong. will Black be in that mix too? Provided we keep Jeff Smard in theory we really only need one more quality starter for depth. Tanaka would be a major step for 2015.

  • When I here people complain about Edwards' slight build I tend to think of Roy Oswalt or Billy Wagner. One made it as a pretty darn good #2 type starter the other converted to a dominant closer. Would we really complain if his career took either path?

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    In reply to roott22:

    Billy Wagner had legs like tree trunks, and prob was juiced up but Oswalt is still doing his thing like that stubborn bulldog looking for his lost bone

  • I thought BA would lose a little of it's luster without JC. After reading his thoughts on some of our guys, I think it's lost more than a little.

  • Hard not to love that top 10 list! I'm a little surprised with Candelario getting the nod ahead of Vogelbach but okay with it.

    A really big first full season from Hanneman could significantly change the dynamics of our system in a really good way. Looking forward to the full season debuts of those guys from this years draft, particularly Hanneman and Skulina.

    Since some of you guys were listing them earlier my prospect man crushes are Hendricks and Almora. I'm really on the lookout for an upper level pitcher like Hendricks or Ramirez to make a nice if unexpected impact in 2014.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Right there with you on Hendrix (and Almora!). It would be a breath of fresh air to get a guy with some control out of the system.

  • What are some reasonable numbers we might see from Olt (assuming his eye issues are cleaned up)? .250 / .350 / .450 with 25HR and plus defense at third?

    Ceiling is .280 / .380 / .500 with 30 HR and plus defense?

    Would the former lead Bryant to start his MLB career in RF / LF?

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    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Bill James predicts .225/.318/.429 with 24 HR.

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    If Olt hits .250 / .350 / .450 with 25HR that would a huge bonus for this team

    If his ceiling is .280 / .380 / .500 with 30 HR and plus defense that HOF caliber.

    I think his ceiling is 250 / .350 / .450 with 25HR and a reasonable expectation from him this year would be .225 / .300. / .400 w/ 15 HR

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    In reply to Pooch7171:

    I would be happy w that for his first full year although an avg closer to .275 would make me ecstatic !

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