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Kevin Goldstein on who should close, and thoughts on prospects

Ramp

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I recently had a chance to do an interview with Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. If you remember, he used to write the "Daily Prospect Report" for Baseball America before moving to BP in 2006. His featured column at Baseball Prospectus is entitled "Future Shock".

When making your prospect lists, what steps do you take to get there? Do you ask other scouts or do you go based on your own notes?

Well, most of my notes on guys ARE from scouts or people in the game, but for each top 10 I did revisit some people here and there to discuss kind of where each player was now that the year is finished. From there, I make a list of possible candidates for a team's top 10, cut it 10, and start ranking. Then I throw the rankings to some people for feedback and the like, get more notes and write 'em up.

In your recent organizational rankings, you have the Florida Marlins listed at #19. Obviously this is due to the lack of positional players in the system. What is your take on the way the Marlins have drafted over the past two seasons?

Well, like you say, the way they have drafted has led to system that's very one-sided in favor of pitchers. To have four first round picks, as they did in '05, and use them all on high school arms is highly unusual, but looking at how young the big league team is, I think it's a defensible strategy.

How would you rate the farm system if it was just pitchers? And just hitters?

I did split my rankings up when I did the org rankings. I had them 30th, dead last in positional players, yet 2nd in pitching talent, behind only the Yankees. Very had to get more lopsided than that.

Of the draftees from 2005 and Gaby Hernandez, which player to do you feel will make the biggest impression on the major leagues(aka who is the best prospect)?

I'll go with the way I ranked them, obviously ? and I had Gaby 5th , behind three of those high school kids (West, Tucker, Volstad) and last year's first rounder, Sinkbeil. I think Hernandez is good, but doesn't have a ton of projection, so he's more of a middle-rotation kinda guy for me.

Jason Stokes was once kept over Adrian Gonzalez. The Marlins got a huge piece(Urbina) for Gonzalez back on their run to the 2003 World Series, so obviously this wasn't a bad move. Since then, Adrian has become a nice 1b out in San Diego, while Jason Stokes can't seem to stay healthy. Do you see Jason Stokes as being anything more than a platoon player in the majors...if he can even stay healthy enough to get that chance?

That's a huge if at this point, as he can stay healthy, and history has shown us that back problems can be the kind of thing that stick around. His power is still tremendous, and I don't think they're exactly giving up on him or anything, but he's obviously not nearly as highly regarded as he once was. At this point, I see him as maybe getting some brief appearances here and there, but not making an impact.

The Marlins have a plethora of young arms competing in their bullpen this spring. If it was up to you, who would be closing for the big club?

I'd give the first shot to Henry Owens, because of his ability to miss bats, but with a bullpen like that, I see nothing wrong with playing the closer-by-committee card and just riding the hot hand, because young arms like that can run very hot and cold.

Chris Coghlan is currently a 3b prospect. Because of power concerns, it has been suggested that he will eventually move to 2b. From what I have read he sounds alot like Bill Mueller. He did not land on your top 10 Marlins prospects. Where would you place him on your list and what thoughts do you have on him as a 3b or 2b?

It looks like that move to second base will happen this year, and it helps him as a prospect. He finished just outside the top 10 for me ? in the 11-13 range. As a guy whose offensive game revolves around line-drive contract and getting on base, he fits the profile better there. He'll definitely move into the top 10 with a good year.

Just last year, Yusmiero Petit was a pretty big prospect after dominating every level in the minors(save for his first stint in AAA Norfolk at the en of 2005). After a (by all accounts) terrible 2006, where do you rank him as a prospect and do you think the scouts are right when they used to say the better batters would finally catch up to him?

Well, based on those numbers, it sure looks like the scouts were right, no? Petit's stuff has always been marginal, and those kind of players ? where the stuff and the stats are a dramatic mismatch ? are always a big concern. He'd rank in the 15-20 range for me, and he definitely needs a bounce back season in 2007.

My current favorite prospect is catcher Brett Hayes. With the lack of catching depth in the minors(Brad Davis and Andy Jenkins being the others) is he on the fast track to possibly be the Marlins catcher in 2008? From what I have read, a player he closely resembles is Brad Ausmus. What are your thoughts on that comparison?

I don't mind that comparison too much. He's a very good defensive catcher, he calls a good game, and he serves as an extra coach on the field. That said, he needs to improve offensively, in a big way, to profile as an every day player, and he needs to stay healthy as well. 2008 might be a little optimistic.

Lastly, who is your sleeper prospect in the organization who could put himself in your top 10 next season?

Outfielder Greg Burns. He's still young and extremely athletic, and the Marlins' brass thinks he's on the verge of translating that athleticism into on-the-field production.
 

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