Baseball America published their International League Top 20 Prospects on Friday and answered reader questions afterward. Before I get to the International League chat excerpts, here are the Top 5 prospects in the International League:
1. Matt Moore, TB
2. Julio Teheran, ATL
3. Devin Mesoraco, CIN
4. Desmond Jennings, TB
5. Jesus Montero, NYY
Onto the International League chat excerpts:
Dan (Chicago): Do you see Brandon Guyer opening next year as the Rays starting right fielder? or possibly center if B.J. Upton is dealt?
James Bailey: I like Guyer's tools, but I'm not sure he's ready to unseat Matt Joyce in right field. I could see Upton being dealt and Jennings moving to center, with Guyer seeing time in left field. One manager said he thought Guyer had 30-30 potential. That was the most optimistic assessment. I think 20-20 is probably more realistic, but there's a lot of ability there.
Wow. Really? Guyer hit .312-.384-.521 with 14 HRs, 61 RBI, 78 runs and 16 SBs in 22 attempts at AAA Durham this season.
More International League chat excerpts after the jump:
Greg (Ky): So is Dom Brown ready for big leagues or what?
James Bailey: Apparently not. He's still got great tools, and I think he'll be an exciting part of Philadelphia's lineup soon, but he got nearly 200 at-bats there this year and didn't do much, though if he doesn't hurt that hamate in spring training maybe those numbers look a lot different. He did take a major step forward in the plate discipline realm, both in the majors and in Lehigh Valley. But he'll need to hit with more authority to hold down a corner OF job up there. I think he'll be ready next year.
It appears now that Brown could see significant time in left field in 2012 with the injury to Ryan Howard. Then again, GM Ruben Amaro could go out and sign someone like Josh Willingham to play left field. At this point Brown is a bit of a disappointment.
Matt (Scranton): What do you think of Julio Teheran's ceiling-is he an ace or a very good #2? Is it time to worry about a K rate lower than most top pitchers?
James Bailey: I'm going to go with a very good #2 guy, but that's using a definition of ace = elite #1 starter. For the first half of the season he was phenomenal. I think he wore down a little in the second half, and at his size, durability may be a factor. But he was just 20 years old all season, and in the first half he was nearly untouchable in a league stocked with plenty of hitters who have spent significant time on big league rosters. The curve just isn't consistent enough yet, though it has gotten better. I think if/when that becomes sharp enough to use as a chase pitch, his strikeout rate could climb.
I think there will be plenty of Braves fans who will respectfully disagree with James, but he is not the only one who thinks Teheran is more of a #2 than an ace. I believe Keith Law also said something similar, and ranked Teheran's teammate Arodys Vizcaino ahead of him in his midseason rankings.
Kyle (Oxford): Do you think Cozart will be a league average starting shortstop or better in the long run?
James Bailey: One scout I talked to saw him as a potential all-star, so that would put him at better than league average. I'm not sure he's a perennial all-star, though. He's a nice, well-rounded player, who does everything well, though he won't hit for a lot of over-the-fence power. More of a doubles guy than a home run guy.
Cozart hit .310-.357-.467 with 7 HRs, 32 RBI, 57 runs, 9 SBs and a 51-23 K/BB rate in 323 at bats in AAA. After his call up, he hit .324-.324-.486 with 2 HRs, 3 RBI, and 6 runs scored in 38 at bats.
Dennis (Chicago): Does Mesoraco make a couple All Star Games or just a nice everyday catcher?
James Bailey: I think he's got a shot at some All Star rosters. I'm not saying next year, but he's got a nice all-around game, with enough to offer on defense that he's a legitimate catcher with power. Let him learn and develop in the big leagues for a couple of seasons and I think he'll stack up favorably against most of the catchers around the league.
I hope James is right. Mesoraco should get the starting catcher job in Cincinnati out of spring training in 2012 with Ramon Hernandez a free agent this offseason. He will probably split time with Ryan Hanigan to start the season.