Draft and prospects expert Jonathan Mayo chatted with fans regarding MLB.com's annual Top 50 Prospects list, which was unveiled Tuesday.
odie508: Which prospect on the list will make the biggest impact this season?
Jonathan Mayo: Get started with a nice general one. Last year's list was unreal in terms of how many guys on it made big impacts in the Majors that season. This year, it won't be quite as many, but there are plenty to keep an eye out for. But if I had to pick just one guy to make the most impact, I'll go with Jeremy Hellickson. He's going to be in the rotation right away and he's going to stay there. I think he'll do just fine against the American League.
jvmoney20: How fast do you think Desmond Jennings will get called up? Is he the next Carl Crawford?
Mayo: Well, before the Johnny Damon/Manny Ramirez news, I thought he'd be up right away. Now, the picture is a little murkier. It's unfair to call anyone the next Carl Crawford, but I think he's got the skills to be a very good leadoff hitter and outfielder. His best position is actually center, though.
JAYPERS: Did Bryce Harper's lack of playing time become the biggest factor in ranking him where you did?
Mayo: I think there are some scouts that I polled who don't want to put a guy who hasn't played yet too highly. Yes, he did show some things during his brief stint in the AFL, but that's not the long haul of a full season. Even so, not sure how much higher he would have gone -- maybe ahead of Hellickson -- but I think enough might still take [Mike] Trout in that top spot.
pinedafan: What is the biggest improvement Michael Pineda will need to make in order to become a frontline starter, along with Felix Hernandez?
Mayo: Just staying healthy and continuing to improve his changeup. It's gotten better, but it's behind his excellent fastball-slider combination. If that keeps improving, he'll make a nice No. 2 behind King Felix.
marty1841: Matt Moore at No. 27? That's a lot lower than I would have thought. Is the control issue that much of a concern that it would drop him down to that spot?
Mayo: I think it's the command, combined with the fact that people will want to see him do it out of Class A ball. I think he will and will move up the list next year.
Minoryanks: Who is the Yankees' future catcher? Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine?
Mayo: More immediately, Romine. But I think Sanchez is the guy in the future. I don't know if Montero will ever catch full-time, but we'll have to see. Obviously, if he can, his value goes up. For those of you wondering why Montero was No. 9 (I know there are Yankees fans who think he should be higher), it's the questions of defense that put him there.
Thanatos: If you had to make a guess, who will be the top prospect next year at this time (considering the upcoming First-Year Player Draft, and players who will lose rookie status)?
Mayo: I think a Trout-Harper 1-2 sounds good, doesn't it? If Harper has a huge year, he'll likely be the top guy, but I think you could flip-flop the order and be happy.
mdh82: How far outside the top 50 are Wilmer Flores and Miguel Sano?
Mayo: Not far. Check out my breakdown story. Sano is 60; Flores is 58.
chase_race: In my head first base seems like a position people are moved to, not from. Do you think Jon Singleton will adjust well to the outfield?
Mayo: Yes, I do. He's athletic enough to play a corner. And keep in mind, he's moving mostly because of that large Ryan Howard roadblock down the road. It's not because he can't play first base.
kidkongs: Excellent list guys. I love that my Royals had six, but I'm greedy. Can I ask why Clint Robinson was left off? The guy won the Minor League Triple Crown. Is it defense?
Mayo: Really? You need more than six? And why not Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer, Christian Colon? Robinson had a great year in the Texas League, it's true. It's also true that he played all year at age 25 in Double-A.
killjoy9: Mike Trout or Desmond Jennings from 2012-2014?
dizzle4: You called J.P. Arencibia a 30-home-run bat on the show yesterday. What kind of batting average/on-base percentage do you think will accompany that? How do you think he'll perform as a rookie?
Mayo: I wouldn't expect a huge batting average or OBP. He doesn't take many walks and will swing and miss quite a bit. I'm not big on projecting stats, but if he hits .250-.260 with 20-25 homers in his rookie season, I don't think anyone will complain
dizzle4: Can you name a few prospects that you think may have big breakouts in 2011 and be top-50 guys in a year?
Mayo: We'll leave 2011 Draftees out of the mix for now. But a number of the guys in the 51-60 range should be watched, like Sano and Flores. I'd also keep an eye on Reymond Fuentes, now with the Padres, and Billy Hamilton of the Reds.
ilive4this4life: It's been stated before, but what makes Jarrod Parker still so highly touted even after a full year of sitting out with Tommy John surgery? Is his stuff that good? I've heard a lot about how he has a great makeup.
Mayo: I know what you were going to say, so I'll answer the first part very simply: Yes, his stuff is that good. His makeup and work ethic make it that much better and is a big reason why he appears to be way ahead of the schedule for most TJ surgery comebacks.
Godzilla5: Which prospect in the top 10 was the hardest to rank?
Mayo: I'm comfortable with all of them (and keep in mind that the ranking is done by polling scouts). But I'd say Aroldis Chapman might have been the toughest one to peg. He's a freak of nature, being able to throw 100-plus consistently. But he also may just be a reliever. Balancing that out probably made some I polled pause for a minute.
naaby: Do you see Domonic Brown being the everyday starter in right field for the Phillies this season? I believe it is more Ben Francisco's job to lose at this point. I think the Phillies want to see if he can play every day and become the Phillies' left fielder.
Mayo: I think it'll be a nice competition this spring. I think if Brown looks like he made adjustments and has a great spring, he could win the job. Francisco profiles more as a very good fourth outfielder, to me. That being said, I think Brown should either get the everyday job or go to Triple-A to play all the time.
Now, that's not always how the Phillies do things, so they could keep Brown and have him share time in right field with Francisco to ease him in.
appyastro: Do you think Jordan Lyles will spend more time in Triple-A or Houston this year?
Mayo: My gut says he starts the year in Triple-A (he didn't pitch there all that much last year), but he finishes it in the Astros' rotation. If you don't see him by the All-Star break, I'd be surprised.
baseballfanatical: If you had to pick one guy in the Top 50 to start a team with, who would you pick?
Mayo: Ooh, I like this question. The easy thing would be to go with the guy at the top [Trout]. A center fielder with speed, more power to come, good defense. He's an impact player. Of course, a lot of people will pick Harper.
anon41293: Explain to me how a bunch of guys at A-ball or below are ranked above a 20 year old killing Triple-A? Chapman is already in the Majors and he's a reliever. Dustin Ackley is 22 with a .776 OPS and no position.
Mayo: I couldn't resist one more question about Montero, because there are plenty and this one had just enough edge to it to reply.
So, allow me to explain:
1. The methodology: I poll as many scouts as possible and they give me their top-30 lists. I dump that into a spreadsheet and do an AP Poll kind of thing... so if they put Trout No. 1, he got 30 points, and on down.
The more scouts, the more opinions, the better the list. So the simple explanation is that more people ranked the guys at A-ball or below above Montero.
Now, to go further than that. Ackley does have a position. He's just new at it. He'll be able to play second base. And if all else fails, he can play center field, but I don't think it will come to that. Chapman still qualifies, as does anyone who still has rookie status.
Finally, this list -- and lists like this -- don't just look at stats a guy has at a level. Scouts evaluating Ackley really don't care all that much about what his OPS was. And your 20-year-old you're so high on, most people think he's a DH. And DHs won't rank as highly on things like this.
sherrod: Without a single top-50 prospect this year, and their more high-ceiling prospects in the lower levels, can the Brewers climb out of the prospect cellar in the next year or two?
Mayo: Well, to be fair, they would've had two guys in the Top 50 with Brett Lawrie and Jake Odorizzi. But they used them to get better at the big league level. We'll see how that plays out, but they addressed a big league need. Now that they're a little more barren, they'll have to wait to get more help, but they'll get there. They have a good track record of developing talent, especially hitting.
kennywags: When do you see Devin Mesoraco getting to Cincinnati?
Mayo: At some point this year. I'd give him a half year in Triple-A and then he'll get the call. They won't call him up if they're not ready to have him catch regularly in Cincy. And since they plan to compete, they might want to hand the keys to a rookie catcher just yet.
azajac37: What would you set Lonnie Chisenhall's ceiling at?
Mayo: A pretty good everyday third baseman. He won't win a gold glove, but he'll be just fine defensively. I think he can hit .280-.290 or so with 25 or so homers annually. There might be a little more power in the bat when all is said and done.
cradam: Who is the first Twins outfielder to get called up in case of emergency (let's say a one-month stint) -- Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere or Joe Benson? Do you see any of these three doing well enough when given that opportunity to stick with the big club if that happens?
Mayo: I'd go Revere first. Hicks is still a couple of years away.
ofsteel: Are the 2011 Rookies of the Year on that list? Or is it someone already considered "in the big leagues"?
Mayo: No, any 2011 ROY candidates are eligible to be on this list. And there are some who should compete: Hellickson, Kyle Drabek, Freeman, Arencibia come to mind. Even Montero, if he sticks. There are others who could play enough to jump into that race as well.
Nick: What is Brandon Belt's ceiling, and when do you see the Giants giving him the call?
Mayo: I think his ceiling is what you saw this year. He'll hit for plenty of average, draw a ton of walks. I'm not sure just how much power he'll have in the bigs, but I wouldn't sell him short as a run producer. The re-signing of Aubrey Huff makes things a little more muddled, but I think he'll get plenty of time this season.
shardee2: What timeframe would you project for Jake Odorizzi to make the big leagues?
Mayo: He'll move up to the Class A Advanced Carolina League in 2011. With all the pitching in the Royals' system ahead of him, I'd probably say he'll go one station at a time. So lets say he gets called up in 2013.
evanito3: What do you predict for Jose Iglesias?
Mayo: Annual Gold Glove awards, appearances on highlight reels. And more hitting than people expect. Don't expect wonders offensively, but he won't hurt you at all. Maybe a good No. 2 hitter.
DougieD: Wil Myers was moved from catcher to outfield to fast track him to the Majors. Is his bat, plate discipline, athleticism, and power enough for him to get here say some day 2012?
Mayo: Yes, I think he can get there by 2012. He'll be in Double-A this year and should hit his way by then. How about a Eric Hosmer-Mike Moustakas-Myers 3-4-5 in Kansas City, established by 2013, at the latest?
smc42276_2: Which prospect outside of the top-20 has the highest ceiling?
Mayo: If you're going to go pure upside, I'd probably have to go with Gary Sanchez, the Yankees catcher. I'll put the O's Manny Machado as the runner-up.
Minoryanks: If only nine teams ranked Trout No. 1, who got the other No. 1 spots?
Mayo: Harper got the next-most, at four.
Mayo: One last question folks. Sorry I don't have time for more -- but send any questions via Twitter (@JonathanMayoB3)
deeezntz: If Jenrry Mejia were eligible, where in the rankings would he have been?
Mayo: Have to throw the poor Mets a bone. He would've been in the 15-20 range. It was just service time that got him.
Mayo: Thanks so much for the questions. Hope to talk to all of you soon, here or on Twitter. Bye!
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