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January 26, 2007 at 3:40 PM

Kevin Goldstein Chat

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus was kind enough to chat with some members of the SoxProspects.com message board. Special thanks to Kevin for his answers and Jonathan Singer for organizing. Here’s a select portion:

How does BP foresee the quality (especially depth) of the 2007 draft compared with drafts from, say, the past 5 years or so?
With all sorts of disclaimers here that it's early, the college class looks remarkably similar to last year's class with nice pitching depth, including a few elite-level arms, and very few hitters – that's something that is possibly becoming a trend. The high school class, however, is a great improvement from 2006. Right now, overall, I'd call it an average year.

Tony Granadillo has been mentioned as a possible sleeper in some circles. What do baseball professionals feel are Granadillo's strengths, weaknesses, and most likely peak? Does he have the physical ability to play a middle infield position on an everyday basis?
Granadillo is generally seen as a pretty marginal prospect. He has decent hitting skills, he has gap power, but to address the most important part of your question, he really does have the athleticism or skills to play in the middle of the infield, and he doesn't have the bat to play third base every day.

You recently listed Clay Buchholz as the number 1 prospect in the Sox system, while most other sites have Ellsbury as the number 1 prospect. Are you especially high on Buchholz, or low on Ellsbury? What do you see the ceilings as for both?
It's a very close 1-2 for me. I think it's a case of both situations, where I might like Buchholz a little more than most, and Ellsbury a little less than most, and that's enough to give Buchholz the slight edge. Scouts who saw Buchholz towards the end of the season were completely blown away by him, and for me, a potential all-star starting pitcher is worth more than an above-average centerfielder/leadoff man.

My question concerns Luis Soto. At 21, he has put up decent numbers in winter ball. He seems to have a solid package of skills, but hasn't yet been able to translate them to performance. What are the chances he still ends up a top prospect in the near future? Is there a major flaw in his game that will hold him back?
I think time is running out. He's made very little progress offensively – his power remains raw, he still has contact troubles, right-handers give him fits and it's just not enough to be an every day outfielder.

Do you have any opinion concerning the two young Dominican prospects - Moises Tejeda & Angel Beltre? Specifically how do they rate when compared to other similarly aged Dominican prospects ?
They're both very nice pickups who have nice tools and up-the-middle defensive skills. I don't think they're in the same league as a guy like Villalona (Giants), but they're in the top 10 Latin American signs – probably the top six.

Which of the '06 draft picks is most likely in your mind to take a big step forward this year?
If you are talking about Red Sox guys, I like Bryce Cox and Jason Place quite a bit, but that's a little easy, so gimme Ryan Kalish.

Who is likely to be the top prospect of the group after years end?
Buchholz will likely still be a prospect next year.

Who do you think is likely to take a step back?
That's a weird question. I don't really rank anyway high if I think they're going to step back. I will say that I think Lars Anderson might disappoint some, but I see that question is coming down the pipe here, so we'll get to that soon.

Where do you see the Sox placing Bard and Lars?
I could see both starting at Low A, with Bard moving out of there quickly if he seems to have everything together.

Could you give a clarification of your rankings for prospects? (i.e., what's an excellent prospect, what’s an average, etc?)
In general, Excellent has been elite – top 50 or so talent. Very Good is 50-100, Good is on the fringes and Average is what's left. I decided not to use anything below Average, though I maybe could have with some systems.

In your opinion where would you rank the Sox system throughout baseball?
Dunno. I'm still rolling through my Top 10s, and I use that exercise to gauge system strength. My gut tells me they're in the top half, but not in the top five or anything.

Any thoughts on the Red Sox draft and follow prospects? Specifically Kyle Gilligan, Brandon Belt, and Kyle Snyder.
The guy I know the most about is Belt – who my Texas contact really loved for his size and upside. He also saw him as raw and inconsistent, and thought DFE-ing him was the best bet.

David Murphy has always had very good raw power (including BP displays) but never had very good game power (outside of doubles really). Do you think he will ever add more power, and do the reported 10-15 lbs of weight gain improve his stock (as a corner OF) or hurt it (less mobility to stay in CF where he seems below average)?
It's really hard to know what the weight is going to do until we see him out there – I've seen it be a good thing, I've seen it be a bad thing. I still think he'll have a fine career as a bench outfielder/occasional starter.

What do you make of Bowden's changeup? Did it improve much over the year? In what areas is it good, or bad (i.e., deception, movement, control)? It seems to me this is the pitch that will be the difference between him being better in the rotation or the bullpen.
It could use improvement in all of the departments you listed here. This is nothing to be upset about, he was 19 years old and he needs a better changeup – that's pretty common. The good news is he works hard and takes well to coaching. It's not an awful pitch, it's just not good yet. Nobody is talking about moving him to the bullpen.

You seem to have not fallen for the Lars Anderson kool-aid (versus Sickels and Callis), do you feel that they are overvaluing him, or that you are being more cautious?
I'm not going to take a shot at Callis, he's a good friend and also somebody who taught me many things. I think there is probably two things going on here. #1 – I have a personal bias against first base prospects – they have to be AMAZING hitters to make it, because their only value is in the bat. #2 – I talked to multiple west coast stats who saw him as an amateur and they loved the plus-plus power, but saw that as his only tool. They didn't see him as a true first-round talent, more of a second with both significant talent and significant risk. I don't hate the guy, he'd be 11-13 for me.

Did Edgar Martinez's off-speed stuff improve at all this past year? How about his control?
No, yes. The bad news is that he's looking more and more like a one-pitch pitcher with limited upside.

Where does Ty Weeden's power rank on the 20-80 scale? Is there ANY hope that he can stay behind the plate, or is there too much depth ahead of him for the Sox to be patient enough?
The most attractive part of Weeden's game in high school was definitely his raw power, which is certainly above-average. It's really not about patience, it's about wasting time – he's not going to be able to stay at catcher long term.

Does BP (or yourself) look at much video of draftees and minor leaguers to draw conclusions? In addition, what do you make of Jeff Albert's work regarding drafting based on video analysis of swing and his conclusions? This would seem like an ideal way for offering scouting analysis on the internet, and was wondering if BP had any plans for this type of work.
I couldn't open the link, and I'm not aware of the work, but I'm also incredibly leery of the conclusions as they are stated here. I can think of some crazy pretty swings from some bad prospects and I can think of some all-stars who have anything but ideal hitting mechanics. To the first part – yes, I watch tons of video. I Tivo truckloads of college baseball and I'm lucky enough to acquire DVDs of most of the top prospects that I watch incessantly as my girlfriend looks at me in utter disbelief.

Regarding former Sox prospects: this past year we saw the Sox deal away players who weren't looking very good blossom into stars elsewhere. Do you feel that the Sox' scouting department is poor in assessing their own? Or is it just bad luck?
Or is it that you got to pay something to get something? Not every deal is about taking advantage of a situation or trying to rip anyone off – both teams have to feel they're getting something good in order to get it done.

Andy Marte had a rough year in AAA this year and his star has diminished. What was the biggest reason for his poor year? Did the Braves and/or Sox see something in him prior to last year's campaign to lead them to believe that Marte was overvalued as a prospect?
I think he was definitely overrated by the prospect-ranking world, but I still think he'll have a solid career. He lost some athleticism and he stopped getting better. I know I was much higher on him than I am now.

From a scouting standpoint, what was the biggest reason for Hanley's improbable jump from AA disappointment to NL Rookie of the Year?
Boredom? I know that doesn't say a lot about makeup, but I graduated high school with a C average yet I got a 1420 on the SATs with a 790 math score, a subject I also got Cs in. I was bored. That's one possibility.

What is your opinion of Kris Negron? does he have the potential to be a big league SS or 2B?
Well, as the saying goes, 222 guys were picked ahead of him for a reason, so let's not jump on the bandwagon yet. That said, I like his speed, and I think he has a better approach than most teenagers, so that's a good start.

What is your opinion of Tommy Hottovy? Does he have better potential than Abe Alvarez or Kason Gabbard?
Aim High! Actually, those are fair comps in the sense that Hottovy is a very fringy arm who succeeds on command and keeping hitters off balance.

You write that Pedroia is an "average" prospect. What do you mean by "average" prospect in this context? (There is a constant question as to how to balance risk vs. upside - Pedroia may be a good example of that.)
Pedroia is definitely at the bottom of one end of the risk/upside curve. I think the chances of him being a productive second baseman are very, very high. I think the chance of him being a star or impact player is very very low. Philosophically, I think a system is about finding impact players, as average starters are still relatively cheap on the free agent market – provided they're not pitchers.

Any more thoughts on why Hansen is a category below Cox, rather than simply below him but in the same category?
Hansen's definitely taken a step backwards, and Cox's slider right now is just plain better, and one of the very best in the minor leagues.

In the past BP (for better or worse) relied very heavily on PECOTA when forming their top prospects list. What role, if any, does PECOTA play in your lists? Also, in terms of how you decide on your rankings, does your method differ from the methods used at BA? If so, how?
I looked at PECOTA, but at the same time, I leaned mostly on the same way I ranked prospects when I was at BA. I've certainly learned some stuff during my year at BP, and I think I rank guys better now than I did in the past.

Which under the radar (less talked about/hyped) prospects in the Red Sox system have the best chance of breaking out this year and being considered legit prospects?
I feel like if I don't say Tony Granadillo, a certain Red Sox fan is going to get very angry. How about Brandon Moss building on his nice second half and fine showing in the Dominican this winter to rake his way back into the top 10?

Kyle Jackson was added to the 40-man roster this off season. What kind of bullpen role does he project to?
Jackson has neither the stuff, nor the control to be a late-innings leverage guy, but he's got enough to be a solid middle reliever.

What are your thoughts on Nick DeBarr (the Sox Rule 5 pick this year)? Does he have a future as a major leaguer? What kind of role does he project to in the future?
I think he's worth the 25K risk, but at the same time, I'll be surprised if he sticks. The Sox insist he'll get a real chance in spring training. He's a sinker/slider guy with nice movement on the fastball, pretty good height and above-average command – I like his chances for a career – not stardom – but a career.