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John Sickels Q&A

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As noted last week, John Sickels of Minor League Ball agreed to do a short Q&A with us, which I have set out below:

 

Q)  Chris Davis is a fascinating prospect, both because of his incredible power at such a young age, and because of his scary strikeout totals.  How big a red flag should those strikeouts be -- is he someone who is going to top out as a Russ Branyan or Dean Palmer type, or do you think the strikeouts are something he can get under control as he gets older?

A)    It’s a strong caution signal, but given his youth and production otherwise he’s got a good chance to be a useful hitter. There is some risk he could flame out in a Dallas McPherson way. Branyan or Palmer are also possible outcomes. Baseball Prospectus also points out David Ortiz as a possible comp. We just really don’t know yet.

 

Q)  Could you name one pitcher and one hitter in the Rangers system who you would consider legit sleeper candidates (much like German Duran last season)?

A)  I still think Brandon Boggs is a sleeper. Like his power, speed, and walks, he does everything except hit for average. On the pitching side, consider Warner Madrigal, the guy they picked up as a free agent from the Angels system. Power arm, fresh, and his command has been better than expected after he converted from the outfield.


Q)  Who, of the teenage high-ceiling guys in the system (Engel Beltre, Wilmer Font, Neftali Feliz, etc.), do you think has the best chance of becoming a superstar down the road?

A)  Well I like to split the hitters from the pitchers. Both Font and Feliz have the arm strength to be excellent. At this point I like Feliz slightly better, but in both cases we need to see how their command holds up against better competition, development of secondary pitches, health status, etc. Beltre is a real wild card. Scouts love his tools and he’s young, but his performance last year was very erratic, and I want to see what happens at higher levels. I don’t rate him as highly as some analysts do because I still have questions about his ability to make sufficient contact.


Q)  If you were the Rangers, what would you do with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both in 2008 and long-term?

 

A)  I’d just stick him at first base. I think Teagarden is the catcher of the future, and using Salty as a catcher could inhibit his offensive development.


Q)  A frequent debate among Rangers fans is whether a rebuilding team (such as Texas) should be promoting players who have had some success in AA, such as Eric Hurley and German Duran, aggressively, or if there is more value in having them spend time in AAA and having them excel there before coming up.  Where do you stand on that issue?

A)  I think both Double-A and Triple-A are necessary steps in the development of most players. Maybe not all, but most. The style of play and the type of competition is different at the two levels. In Double-A you tend to see younger players, more athletic, guys who maybe throw harder but are less polished. In Triple-A you have more of a mixture, some younger guys yes, but also older more veteran types, marginal major leaguers, Quadruple-A players. Many of the pitchers don’t throw quite as hard, but they are better at changing speeds and working a hitter’s weaknesses.

 

I think players need to be exposed to both levels in order to be best prepared for the wide variety of competitors they will be exposed to in the majors. Some of the elite prospects can be pushed past Triple-A quickly without it being a big deal, but in general I think most players need a year of Double-A and at least a half-year of Triple-A before being fully ready for major league action. That’s my opinion.


Q)  What was the bigger package -- what the Expos gave up for Colon, or what the Braves gave up for Teixeira?

 

A)   It’s too early to tell of course, we would need five years to properly assess the Teixeira deal. It could end up being quite comparable.


Q)  Did Jon Daniels blow it in trading Masset and Danks for McCarthy?

A)  Again, we have to see what Danks develops into. It’s just too early to say. Certainly McCarthy has been disappointing, but Danks is no sure thing yet either. It could end up being a wash if they both fail.

Q)  What is the story with Matt Harrison's low strikeout totals?  His stuff is supposedly better than the K numbers reflect, and he has had success, but do the low K numbers bode ill for him going forward?

 

A)  Well K/IP is very important, it’s a key indicator. But it’s not the only indicator, other stats matter, too, and scouting reports and projection. None of it can be ignored. Harrison picked up some velocity in the Arizona Fall League, he gets some ground balls, and I’ve long liked his overall potential as a strike-thrower with a bit more stuff than you see from the average finesse lefty. I don’t see him as an ace, but I think he can be a very fine number three or four starter.

 

Many thanks to John for taking the time out to do this with us, and make sure you add Minor League Ball to your RSS feed or bookmarks...