Pipeline Inbox: Can Ramos become a starting shortstop?
Jonathan Mayo responds to fans' questions about baseball's top future stars
Now that the 2015 season is underway, it's time to bring the Pipeline Inbox back. Each week, Jim Callis and I will answer all of your prospect-related questions, both pro and amateur. So be sure to send your queries in via the link below.
For this week's edition, we've got a question about a Minor League team roster, questions about a pair of interesting middle-infield prospects who hope to call New York home one day and a final Draft-related question for good measure.
Can Milton Ramos become a starting shortstop?
-- Quinn B., Fairfield, Conn.
Ramos, the No. 14 prospect on the Mets' Top 30 , was taken in the third round of the 2014 Draft, No. 84 overall. Coming into the Draft, the Florida high school standout was known for his glove above everything else. There is little question among scouts that Ramos will be able to stay at shortstop defensively; he may have been the best defender at that position in the Draft class. Whether or not he can start will depend on how much his offensive game develops.
The Mets were actually pleasantly surprised at how Ramos handled the bat during his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League, and they think he might be more well-rounded than initially thought. He's always going to be a defensive-minded guy, but I'll say he has the chance to be a regular who hits at the bottom of the lineup and becomes a favorite of every pitcher on the staff because of what he can do behind them with his glove.
Is there anyone on the Erie SeaWolves' roster worth paying attention to?
-- Ryan E., Erie, Pa.
By now, hopefully, you've seen our story on where the Tigers' Top 30 prospects are starting the 2015 season. There are a half-dozen from the Top 30 playing in Erie, starting with No. 6 Austin Kubitza, who is double-jumping from the Midwest League to the Double-A Eastern League this year. Four of the remaining five are also pitchers: No. 19 Chad Green, No. 20 Edgar De La Rosa, No. 24 Joe Mantiply and No. 28 Josh Turley. Kubitza, Green and De La Rosa are right-handers, while Mantiply and Turley are southpaws.
The one position player from the Top 30 in Erie is a guy worth rooting for. No. 30 prospect Wynton Bernard is an outfielder who had been released by the Padres after not getting anywhere. The Tigers took a shot, he took advantage of an opportunity to play and ended up winning Midwest League MVP honors. Now he's jumped to Double-A, so the Tigers can see if they have more on their hands than expected.
What can we expect from Jorge Mateo on the Charleston Riverdogs?
-- Brandon J., Charleston, S.C.
The Yankees are very excited about Mateo, who comes in at No. 3 on the Yanks' Top 30 . They have reason to be excited, as he might be the most exciting player in the system. Despite having played just 15 games in the Gulf Coast League last year (a pitch broke his left wrist), the Yankees felt confident enough to move the teenager to full-season ball. Mateo went 0-for-4 in his debut with Charleston on Thursday, so you didn't get a good look at what he does best, and that's run. The 19-year-old shortstop gets an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for his speed, a reason why he stole 49 bases in 64 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2013. Mateo should hit near the top of the lineup (he was in the No. 2 spot on Thursday) all year and provide electric speed. He should hit and get on base enough to make South Atlantic League pitchers nervous, and he has plenty of glove and arm to stay at short. He's drawn comparisons to Jose Reyes because of that skill set.
Is Mike Matuella too risky for the Astros now at No. 2 or 5?
-- Clifton I., Waxahachie, Texas
I had to throw one Draft question in there since we're just two months away from the 2015 Draft. As the spring approached, Matuella had the potential to be the No. 1 pick in the Draft this year, as the Duke right-hander had everything teams look for in a college arm in terms of size and stuff. But he has had a hard time staying healthy. Even before having Tommy John surgery recently, Matuella had been diagnosed with spondylolysis, a manageable defect of the vertebra in the lower back. He didn't pitch over the summer and there was concern over the lack of track record. If scouts can't see a pitcher perform, it's awfully hard to figure out when to take him in a Draft.
As a result, I do believe Matuella would be a risk for any team taking him high. The Astros do have the benefit of the extra pick, which gives them some flexibility, kind of like the Blue Jays used in 2014 in taking Jeff Hoffman. Hoffman had more of a history before he went down with his elbow injury, perhaps making Toronto more confident in what it would get once he returned. Matuella has premium stuff when he's healthy, and I think there's still a good chance he goes in the first round, but in the top five picks? That's a bit too much of a risk for me.