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Down on the Farm: Part 2 of Interview with Adam Foster from Project Prospect

Here is the part 2 of the two part interview with Adam Foster from Project Prospect. Foster and the guys over at Project Prospect recently posted their top 15 catching prospects, so head on over to Project Prospect and check out their top 15 rankings.

Fake Teams: Aside from the AFL, what prospects that you have seen this year made the biggest leap forward? Step back?

Adam Foster: James Darnell is a guy who I went well out of my way to see this year. His swing really impressed me at Minor League Spring Training. He's very athletic with a good chance of sticking at third base. And his power potential is outstanding.

Some of my colleagues who are really into college statistics pointed Darnell out as a guy who may have fallen further than he should have in the draft - he wasn't healthy his junior season. Then I bumped into Darnell's Cape Cod League coach in Phoenix one night and he said he wanted Darnell over Justin Smoak on his Cape team.

I'm not saying that Darnell is a lock to become a superstar. But he's one of the best prospects in baseball. And people who aren't giving him that kind of recognition probably haven't done their homework.

As far as guys who took a step back, unfortunately Tim Alderson was a different pitcher this year than last. He lost some movement on his fastball. And his pinpoint accuracy left him. There are guys who chose to give up some velocity to gain movement. Alderson may have gone the opposite direction in 2009, I'm not sure. But even though his curveball is already a plus pitch, he wasn't giving High-A or Double-A hitters much trouble last season. He definitely has elite control. I just don't think he's a big league pitcher without outstanding command.

More after the jump:

Fake Teams:  I read in your Rising Stars game chat that you and your colleagues are not as high on the Phillies outfield prospect Domonic Brown. What are your reasons?

Adam Foster: Guys who are outstanding fast-twitch athletes can become overrated in a hurry. People like to assume that they're athletic enough to do things that other players can't. In Brown's case, there's some false information floating around that he's an elite defender. He has a very good arm and he's fast, but he doesn't get good reads or take good routes. Those skills can't really be learned. So it's highly unlikely that he'll be more than an average defensive right fielder.

Additionally, he's really not very coordinated - compared to his peers. My first reaction when I saw him bat was that he looked awkward. He gets in a crouch to try to shrink down his big strike zone (Brown is 6-foot-5). And while he has a lot of bat speed, is patient, and recognizes pitches well, he's not going to be an above-average contact hitter. There's not much he can do about that. He doesn't have very good bat control.

Keep in mind that Brown is an elite prospect. He's in the 99th percentile for his class. I'm just dissecting the heck out of him here. If you compare him to the other guys who are at the head of the class, I don't think he stands out as one who's going to become a star. He's very good and a likely bet to become an average big leaguer. But there are a dozen or so hitters out there who I see as better prospects than him.

Fake Teams:  What players who underwhelmed in 2009 do you expect to jump back into the limelight in 2010?

Adam Foster: Reese Havens is a good one to start with. He moved to second base in the Arizona Fall League and looked solid at the position. He's a polished, well-rounded hitter who can play up-the-middle defense. He was a first rounder. And had a successful junior season in college - I'd be more confident in him if he was better his sophomore year, though. His baseball resume puts him in elite company. I'll be surprised if he doesn't break out in 2010.

Don't sleep on Jon Niese and Kevin Mulvey. They are solid bets to turn into useful big league starters. You could also end up looking like a genius if you snatch up Kellen Kulbacki cheap now that a lot of people have forgotten about him. Nick Noonan was one of the youngest players in High-A and has a lot of potential. Ivan De Jesus may not be a fantasy stud, but if you play in a deep dynasty or sim league, don't forget about him - and I'm sure you haven't ;).

Fake Teams: What prospects do you feel who should be getting more press based on their talent/performance?

Adam Foster: Josh Bell is just starting to get the attention he deserves. I guess you lose some street cred when you get traded for a reliever. But the Dodgers are clearly working under the win-now model, so I wouldn't hold it against him. He can play third base and has a lot of power. If Pedro Alvarez and Brett Wallace can't stick at third - and they probably won't - then Bell starts looking like a pretty good pick for the best "true" third base prospect in the minors. I'll have to compare my video of him and Darnell this offseason, though.

Brandon Snyder is another guy who has the resume to turn into a solid big leaguer. But you don't hear much talk about him. I'm a big Drew Cumberland believer. Matt Sweeney is a breakout guy. Lorenzo Cain has fallen out of the spotlight but I still see a lot of potential in him. Che-Hsuan Lin gets lost in the Red Sox depth of athletic hitters. Jaff Decker gets overlooked largely due to some old scouting biases.

Fake Teams:  Who are your top 5 hitting prospects going into 2010? Who are your top 5 pitching prospects going into 2010?

Adam Foster: At the end of the 2009 season, we ranked Jason Heyward, Carlos Santana, Jesus Montero, and Buster Posey as the game's top five hitting prospects with Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings, Fernando Martinez and Mike Stanton on the bubble. Those guys will account for the bulk of - if not all - the spots among our top five hitting prospects entering 2010.

We didn't get to see many of baseball's top pitching prospects at the AFL. And I still want to get better reads on some guys. But Stephen Strasburg and Brian Matusz are clearly at the head of this class. Daniel Hudson and Jeremy Hellickson were two of the most impressive pitchers I saw in 2009 - Hudson for his FB and CH movement; Hellickson for his command. Then it's hard not to like Neftali Feliz' stuff. The five guys I've mentioned were our top five pitching prospects when we put together our October top 25 pitching prospect list. Most of them should also be top five on our 2010 list.

I want to thank Adam for taking the time for this interview.