Jul 8th, 2009
FutureSox Interview with Kevin Goldstein
Kevin Goldstein, Managing Partner of Baseball Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, and former senior writer for Baseball America, took the time out to speak to FutureSox.com about the Sox minor league system as a whole, as well as specific players currently in the organization.
Anthony Mazzuca: Name 1 sleeper in the Sox’s system that isn’t a top 5/10 prospect.
Kevin Goldstein: Just talked to a scout today who saw Dexter Carter over the weekend and really liked what he saw — big, very athletic, low 90s with a very good breaking ball, and I still like John Shelby.
AM: Seems like Shelby has sort of taken a step back after a nice 2008…
KG: Yeah, Double-A has proven to be a bit much, but he can still play all three outfields, has a good approach, a bit of speed and pop. I wish he was LH, he’d have a surefire future as a 4th OF.
AM: Did you expect more out of Jon Gilmore (.600 OPS at Kanny) this season?
KG: I did, but I really don’t anymore. That Kannapolis lineup is really ugly, not much to talk about there.
AM: Let’s jump to the draft, then come back to some individuals. How did you rank the Sox’s draft? Best pick and the worst pick?
KG: I didn’t do a ranking of the drafts specifically, but in general, I was a big fan of their selections, especially Mitchell and Thompson. I thought they took Phegley too high, but if they believe he really can catch, it’s understandable. I think what you saw was the continuing shift to tools and upside, a philosophy that Sox officials confirmed to me before the draft.
AM: How far away is Jared Mitchell? For a polished college player, there seems to be talk of a rather large learning curve.
KG: He’s a raw, toolsy college player with a ton of upside, but it will require patience. He’s certainly not going to move like Beckham, for example.
AM: Incredibly early, but what is the most realistic ETA you could put on it, if everything went right?
KG: Late ‘11? Something around there. He’s a tools guy, and those guys sometimes just click, and when the explode, they move very, very quickly, or it just never happens.There are certainly aspects of his game that need to improve.
AM: Anything in particular?
KG: Well, there’s a lot of swing and miss in him. You’re never going to turn him into Ichiro, but they do need to be curbed, and that’s going to come with a better plan, and better pitch recognition.
AM: Staying with the overall system, What effect has Buddy Bell had?
KG: It’s really hard to give credit (or blame) to any one guy. Success and failure in scouting and player development is really an organizational thing, and you are literally talking about hundreds of people. That said, Bell is very well respected.
AM: It just seems like the organization, after the 2006 draft, which was a disaster, have really taken a new approach to things, as you touched on earlier.
KG: Yeah, and that’s system wide. There’s been changes in personnel and philosophy, and both have been good things.
AM: Staying with the system as a whole, If you were doing a mid-season rank of where the minor league systems are, where would the Sox rank? Just for an idea of where they are, give me a number with and w/o Beckham and Poreda, two guys up with the team right now.
KG: Well, I had them 24th entering the year. Clearly, they’re up from there. If you include Beckham, Poreda, they’re definitely in the upper half, a top 15 system, but without them, and now with Allen gone, they more somewhere in the middle, but that’s for all of the right reasons.
AM: What is your view on the Brandon Allen trade? Too much for Pena, or have Sox fans maybe overrated what Allen really is?
KG: It’s funny, when the trade happened, I went through my notes and found three different scouts who had seen him this year. One thought he was an above-average every day big league first baseman. One thought he was more of a second division player. One thought he was a platoon player at best. So the reviews were really varied.
AM: Could it be a move to open up a spot for Viciedo at 1B?
KG: It was a move to get a dependable power righty in the pen, I don’t think they thought much about how it effected other prospects, and Viciedo at first would be pretty troubling, as he’s not even hitting enough for a third baseman right now.
AM: Any views on Pena himself?
KG: I do wonder if he’s really the answer. On a pure scouting level, he’s always shined, but the results have always been inconsistent. I saw it as only a minor upgrade, but you take what you can get.
AM: I just brought him up, so will stick with him. What kind of future in baseball do you project for Dayan Viciedo?
KG: Honestly, reviews have been very disappointing. Still a bit out of shape, swing at anything approach, not much power. Because of his age and where he’s coming from, you have to give him more time than others to make adjustments. If anything, I think it’s possible that they just started him at too high a level.
AM: Has there been any talk of the culture change playing a role, or just totally overmatched at the plate?
KG: Specifically on Viciedo, I haven’t heard that, but with the Cubans, it really is a different kind of culture shock than you get with most international players, and it really does need to be taken into account. It’s a massive, massive change in everything about Viciedo’s world. But as far as pure baseball goes, the approach is the biggest thing — he’s chasing everything.
AM: Overall, should White Sox fans be generally excited for what is in store for the future, or should we temper our excitement? With the way the farm system has produced in the last 5 years, this looks to be the best crop of prospects the Sox have had in quite some time…
KG: Sure, but it was kind of nowhere to go but up, no?
AM: Very true. I feel like there are a good amount of Sox fans maybe overrating the system because they aren’t used to having some high end prospects in the system.
KG: Look, I think they should be excited for Beckham alone — how often to teams develop true stars? It’s really pretty rare, but yes, I’d be much happier than I was. It’s not an elite system, but there’s some good stuff here.
AM: Tyler Flowers. Should he be close to untouchable? Is he going to stay behind the plate?
KG: You know, I’ve never been a fan of the term untouchable. Is anyone REALLY untouchable? If the Jays wanted him in Halladay deal, wouldn’t you want the Sox to do that?
AM: That’s why I wont say totally untouchable. If Pujols was offered for Beckham, he isn’t untouchable anymore.
KG: I think the catching future is still debatable, he’s just so huge a sluggish back there. That said, there has been some progress — they’ve shortened his release a bit, and the results are encouraging.
AM: Would his bat alone still project him to be a plus major league hitter?(if he had to move out of catcher)
KG: Yes, the bat is going to play.
AM: Whats your take overall on the Halladay news over the last 48 hours?
KG: Well, it makes sense for the Jays certainly, with this year AND 2010 under contract, his value is about as high as it can be, and he’s going to leave Toronto, so I do think there’s a good chance he’ll get moved.
AM: Will the Sox be in it, even with Williams comments yesterday about lacking attendance?
KG: I would saw they’re in the race, but not a favorite.
AM: What type of package would it have to be?
KG: It would be a ton. I think they’d ask for Beckham for sure, but if that was off the table, they would probably need at least two, maybe three of Poreda/Flowers/Danks.
AM: If you are the Sox, do you pull the trigger on a deal with those 3?
KG: Would I? Probably.
AM: Take on Jordan Danks?
KG: What’s not to like? Big, athletic, good approach, gap power, good runner, plays a nice CF. I don’t think he’ll ever be a true power guy, but I think he’ll be a solid every day center fielder, which is pretty good for an organization that has been absolutely desperate for one for a long time now.
AM: Top of the order guy?
KG: Yeah, could be an ideal No. 2 hitter type.
AM: Changing the topic a bit, How do professional organizations view your publication? What feedback have you received?
KG: They all read us, and like anything else, some like us, some don’t. We’re certainly a highly respected name in the industry, I think our work speaks for itself, and teams take my calls, so there’s that. I talk to tons of scouts on an anonymous level (pretty much every day) about what they’re seeing and what they think.
AM: What is your relationship with the Sox in general?
KG: Solid. I talk to White Sox scouts and front office people on a regular basis.
AM: That actually should just about do it from my end. Can’t thank you enough for taking out the time.
KG: More than happy to help.
We again would like to thank Kevin Goldstein for providing us with some great information on the entire White Sox organization.