Friday is Prospect Hot Sheet day over at Baseball America. While no Twins farmhands made the June 14th installment, a couple questions in the corresponding chat with J.J. Cooper touched on some of our favorite prospects including Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and of course Miguel Sano. In all, seven questions that Cooper answered involved the Minnesota Twins.
On the Buxton front, Cooper has been very up front about his love of the team’s 2012 1st round selection. In responding to separate questions J.J. expressed his belief that Byron will be promoted to Fort Myers after the Midwest League All-Star Game citing discussions with several scouts that the 19-year old simply isn’t being challenged and has little left to prove in A-ball.
Cooper also admitted that while he expected Buxton to be very good at the time he was drafted the young OF has surpassed expectations. This is hardly ground-breaking news since it would be unrealistic to expect any prospect to hit 0.343/.433/.573 in his first taste of full season ball, but it’s nice to come across such statements in print. Cooper also mentioned that they have a lengthy feature piece on Byron Buxton that will be published in the “near future” that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
In other Buxton-based topics one reader asked:
Heyward or Buxton? Jason hasn’t lived up to all the hype he received thus far…so what’s to say Buxton doesn’t follow that same path?
I’ve never been a fan of comparing players but putting that aside this question is a little goofy and off-base on a very basic level. Simply put, the two are very different players. Heyward came up through the minors having played RF almost exclusively (195/216 games). As a prospect he lacked the range, speed and overall value that Buxton possesses. Putting that aside however, I personally would be happy if Byron Buxton had an 113 OPS after 469 games in the majors. That’s what Heyward has done so far since joining the Braves with an All-Star appearance (2010) and a Gold Glove (2012) also on his resume. The J-Hey Kid has been inconsistent but all in all he’s been an above average major leaguer on both offense and defense and that’s nothing to sneeze at, not to mention that at 23 Jason Heyward is still several seasons away from entering the prime years of his career.
If Buxton follows the same path the Twins will have a star on their hands as his speed and skills in CF will augment his value.
Buxton and Sano:
When there is talk of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano’s name typically comes up shortly thereafter and JJ’s chat was no different.
Naturally there was the obligatory Buxton or Sano question and J.J. Cooper answered it the same way that I would – by choosing Buxton. As was the case with the Heyward or Buxton question above, Sano – while supremely talented and an elite level prospect in his own right – can’t match Byron Buxton’s overall ability.
Sano brings more power to the table but Buxton has speed, range and positional value squarely in his corner. It’s a matter of picking the player that is the more complete package.
While it’s easy for me to pick between the two in a direct comparison when we start talking about who the #1 prospect is in right now things get a little less straight forward since major league readiness enters the discussion.
Eric (Boston): In light of performance, call ups and injury status’ of other top prospects, is there a case for Xander Bogaerts as the number 1 overall prospect right now? Already the youngest player the the EL he just got promoted. Who’s he competing with for next years top spot?
J.J. Cooper: I’m getting ready to dive into that very question before long for our midseason update. Buxton is in the discussion. Oscar Taveras is still a worthy competitor for the title. And I think Miguel Sano has to be considered as well. But Bogaerts is part of the discussion.
The best thing about this question and Cooper’s response is that two of the four players he names are in the Minnesota Twins organization.
When it comes down to it asking whether I prefer Buxton or Sano is like asking me if I prefer pork or shrimp fried rice. If I can only eat one for the rest of my days, I’ll take the latter but I love them both.
Offensively Rosario has impressed this season but the jury is still out on his defense. One reader asked Cooper about Eddie’s play at 2B this season and got this response:
J.J. Cooper: Better from what I’ve heard. Still not all the way there as a sure-bet to stick, but he better figure it out there, as his previous position (center fielder) isn’t really an option with Buxton playing there.
Buxton clearly has laid claim to the team’s center fielder of the future so no one is going to argue the point but I find it interesting that Cooper went down this road. I’ve always been of the mind that you find a place for your best bats and live with some defensive deficiencies if you have to. If Rosario continues to impress at the plate it would take a lot of misplays and errors for me to move him off 2B but even if that’s necessary he could still play an outfield corner or in a worst case scenario occupy the DH spot.
After hitting 0.329/.377/.527 in 52 games with Fort Myers Rosario was 1-2 with a BB in each of his first two games with New Britain before being saddled with an 0-4 day on Friday.
My favorite Twins’ related question from the chat came from Steve L. because it asks about players beyond the obvious ones.
J.J. Cooper: I didn’t get to see Berrios pitched as I missed him by one day. Walker does some impressive things. He’s adjusting to a steady diet of breaking balls and pitchers who pitch him away, away, away, but he has excellent power, runs well and in the short time I was there showed a good glove in right field. His swing seems a little long, so he’ll likely always have some strikeouts, but the other tools are enough to probably work around that. Harrison didn’t impress. Had scouts scratching their head as far as what was there to go 50th overall in the ’11 draft. Melotakis showed a good fastball but needs to work on his secondary stuff (his changeup did show flashes when he beared down against Dan Vogelbach). Jorge Polanco looked solid at shortstop. Pretty insane that when healthy that team has him and Niko Goodrum up the middle.
J.J. Cooper’s thoughts on Harrison are a bit surprising to me. Statistically he’s not setting the world on fire but he looks to be having a solid season with 17 2B and 10 HR in 64 games and a 0.262/.351/.471 slash line. He’s also drawing a walk in 9.3% of his PA while striking out in 23.2% of them. Considering he’s a power bat in his first full professional season those are very respectable numbers in my book.