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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kevin Goldstein Chat Snippets

From Kevin Goldstein's latest chat:
jaymoff (Salem, OR): Jake McGee . . . Best LHP in the minors?

Kevin Goldstein: Not while Kershaw is still around.

...

brianjamesoak (Alameda, CA): It seems like everyone says the A's farm system is desolate, yet the Rivercats have the second best record in the PCL. How does that happen? Lot of good but no great players?

Kevin Goldstein: You could say that the A's have a whole lot of big leaguers in their system, but not a whole lot of impact players -- that's the issue.

...

Rich (Pickerington, OH): Kevin, Does James McDonald have a future in the majors? He's really come on strong in the minors this year as a pitcher. Also, is there any chance for Kuo and Greg Miller to remain healthy enough to be starters in the majors?

Kevin Goldstein: Go Tigers. McDonald definitely is the real deal. Good fastball, even better curve, and sneaky changeup. I still have some faith in Kuo as a reliver, but I don't think Miller will ever throw enough strikes.

Goldstein also has a piece about the Astros up in which he points and laughs at Houston scouting director Paul Riccarini:
[Houston has] a miserable three-year record, and the solution unfortunately is an ugly one. The first step is a thorough housecleaning-–what happened this June is inexcusable, making Sapp the first high school catcher selected in 2006 when Hank Conger was on the board is laughable, and the 2005 group is starting to look just as useless. There has been a failure on the scouting front, in terms of both talent evaluation and their selection philosophy, and it needs to be corrected.
Nice to know the Angels got an overlooked keeper... this year's draft sure doesn't seem to be generating much buzz.

Update: Hank Conger is throwing out only 21% of would-be base-stealers, a number well below average.

Conger hit .290/.336/.472 as a 19-year-old for low Class A Cedar Rapids. He is lauded for his well above-average arm strength, but there were concerns before the season about whether he could stick at catcher because he is not light on his feet. In 99 attempts against, Conger threw out just 21% of basestealers, which is well below average and may be a cause for concern.

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I interned with the Astros this summer and got to know pretty much all of the baseball guys. Riccarini, Gottfried, Bennett, and the rest of the scouting staff seemed to know what was going on. If you're going to put the blame on why they didn't make certain picks, I'd have to say it was Drayton's fault. He had a heavy hand in a lot of decisions. Like always money was the main issue. It makes it that much harder to draft players when signability is such a huge factor.
 
For what it's worth, in an earlier issue of BA, there was an article in which Angel coaches raved about Conger's ability -- rare for such a young catcher -- to handle pitchers and call games. In other words, he brings something to the table besides his bat.
 
Conger may yet develop into that rare beast, the offense-first catcher. Stephen Smith at one time nominated Michael Collins as the next Mike Piazza, but the sad thing about Piazza was that his minor league numbers at single-A Salem and Vero Beach just weren't that exciting, so comparisons to early-career Piazza can be both true and underwhelming. Collins has abandoned the dish and as a result is really no longer thought of, from what I can tell, as a top-30 prospect. (That may change with the necessary thinning of the Angels' system considering all the prospect promotions that have transpired over the last couple years.) There is some thought that Conger might also be forced to ditch the dish, though his bat could also play at first.
 
from my view, Conger is all about bat - what he's done a year removed from high school in the Midwest league is impressive.

as for defensive catcher, there's nothing i hear or read that implies his skills are even above average.

best case he continues a Piazza trajectory for bat, and Scioscia makes him at least adequate (more than Piazza at least) behind the dish.
 

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