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Interview With Rob Steingall

Rob Steingall is a writer that focuses on MLB prospects for Yahoo! He also writes for CSN. Rob was kind enough to answer a few questions about prospects from the fantasy perspective as well as the regular baseball perspective. Enjoy.

1. Top 5 prospects in the MLB?

My personal top 5:
1. Jason Heyward
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Desmond Jennings
4. Jesus Montero
5. Neftali Feliz

2. Can you remember the highest touted prospect recently that didn't work out?

For me, the most recent guy that didn't pan out as he was supposed to was Alex Gordon. Matt Meyers did an interview over at Baseball America highlighting the Royals Top 10 prospects prior to the 2007, and this is what he said in reference to Gordon's negatives:

"He is an average defender, but should be fine at third base unless they choose to move him in favor of Teahen (which I doubt). He did strike out 113 times in Double-A which is not horribly when you consider his power, but that could be a cause for concern. However, this is all really nitpicking. The guy is a stud."

While injuries have been partly to blame, the guy just hasn't come around yet. He's still young (26), so things could click, but he's starting the year again on the DL which puts him behind the eight ball.

A case could also be made for Delmon Young, but it is too soon to write him off. The power came around a bit last September, and I wouldn't be shocked if this was the year he finally popped and lived up to some of the hype.
3. How long would you give prospects to develop before calling them a bust?

All guys develop differently, so I think it needs to be taken on a case by case basis. Kendry Morales was a top prospect in the Angels organization in 2005, and lost his luster after an uninspiring '07 debut. It took him until his 2009 breakthrough to finally reach his potential. Another example of a guy who was written off way too soon by most is Homer Bailey, who had a strong close to the '09 season, and should take an even further step forward in 2010. Some guys just take more time to figure it out than others.

4. How do you think Austin Jackson will do this year?

He'll be fine defensively, but I can see him really struggling with the bat. His numbers in Triple-A were propped up by a high average on balls in play (.384), and his power evaporated (23 doubles, 4 home runs). He ran well, but doesn't have elite speed (24 of 28 in steals). I'll throw out a .255/7/45 line with 15 steals over 450 at-bats for 2010. In his prime, I see him as a .285/15/70 guy who could swipe 25 bags over the course of a season, which is solid but not spectacular.

5. Can you give us some background on Aroldis Chapman?

I recently had this to say about Chapman in my Minor Developments piece over at Yahoo!:

"Aroldis Chapman, SP, Cincinnati Reds: Early word is that "Dog" Chapman could make the Opening Day roster, but I'm still a bit skeptical. I wrote in the Yahoo! Fantasy Draft Guide that his control remains erratic, but further analysis of pitchFX data from the World Baseball Classic have his average fastball velocity at 94.6, which would be near the top of the Majors among starters. His ultimate role will be determined by how quickly his secondary stuff is refined, and that is going to take minor league innings and instruction. His fastball/slider combo could land him in the major league bullpen later this summer, with a transition to the rotation likely in 2011."

That was before his great debut on Monday. If he proves he's made strides in his control, he could land himself in the rotation by June, or possibly even earlier.

6. Did the Yankees win or lose the Granderson trade? Vazquez trade?

I think the Yankees won both deals, and by a wide margin.

The reality is, a lot of Yankees prospects are hyped up by the media, and have a high tendency to disappoint. Since 2003, the most successful Yankees prospects have been Cano, Wang, Chamberlain, Hughes, and Juan Rivera.

To acquire two all-star caliber players for a collection of guys who may not ever reach the level of Granderson and Vazquez, Yankees fans should be very pleased.

7. Will Matt Wieters be the real deal?

I have no doubt that he'll be one of the top three catchers in the league by no later than the 2011 season. He's the classic example of a guy who was way over hyped by media and fans, and just didn't live up to what people thought he would be. He blew up last September (.363/3/14), and that is a sign of things to come. I think a .290/20/90 season is well within reach for 2010.

8. Can you give us some info on the Red Sox minor-league system?

Yankees fans won't like to hear this, but the Red Sox minor league system is loaded. Their top prospect is a kid by the name of Ryan Westmoreland, who could develop into a Grady Sizemore type player in his prime. The biggest concern for Yankees fans would be the Sox ability to spin their prospects off for high impact talents on low budget teams. I don't think the Adrian Gonzalez talk is dead, and the Sox are probably the front runners to land him based on their organizational depth.

9. Can you provide some info on Desmond Jennings?

I've been on the Jennings bandwagon since he burst onto the scene with a solid '07 debut in Class A. While injuries derailed him in '08, he bounced back in a big way and is now on the cusp of reaching the majors. He is a very similar player to Carl Crawford, with better plate discipline, and gold glove caliber defense in center field. He has all the tools to be a superstar, if he can stay healthy.

10. Where would the Yankees rank among the top farm systems in baseball?

After their big winter trades, I think the Yankees dropped down to among the average minor league systems. I loved their choice of Slade Heathcott, and he could move quickly through the system if he can keep himself healthy and away from questionable off-field activity. Expect the Yankees to replenish their minor league system through some quality international signings and a good draft this upcoming June.

Thanks again to Rob, who was very kind in the process and replied very quickly! I like that!