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To complement our top 30 prospects list Dick Scott answered questions for Batters Box, as he does each year at this time.  Here is a link to last year's interview.

BB: Let's start with one of the newest players in the organization, Zach Stewart.  Can you give me a scouting report on him?

DS: We picked up a good arm, his fastball is 93-94 mph with some nice sink and run on it, kind of a boring fastball, he's got a good frame, I like his stuff.  His slider is a little inconsistent right now, he has the makings of a good change-up, he's possibly going to be a starter for us next year.

BB: I see he walks too many hitters, is that back to the inconsistent off-speed pitches?

DS: Yes, he needs the innings, he needs time on the mound because it is hard to come in at the end of the game and work on your change-up or slider.  So we will see how he is in spring training.  He has thrown about 110 innings this year so we are thinking we could bump him to 130 or 140 next year.

BB: Henderson Alvarez finished his season early was he shut down?

DS: Yes he was, he reached all the innings he needed this year.  We try and keep an eye on the guys innings and limit the increase to around 20% roughly.

BB: What was the biggest improvement you saw in him this season?

DS: His command.  He has good stuff, his fastball has a lot of life to it, it moves, and he has a plus change-up and his breaking stuff got better this year as well but it was really command of those pitches.  He started thinking about how to become a pitcher as opposed to standing out there and throwing hard.  He had a really good year.

BB: Another guy who had a good year is Moises Sierra, what did you see in him this year?

DS: He just got off to a good start and hit all year long.  He got his batting average to .336 but I think he got tired at the end of the year, you know the Florida State League just wears guys out, it's so hot and humid all day long and they have day games.  It's a tough league, it's a pitchers league and he did well in the last two weeks when we sent him up to AA to get a taste of that level.  He did OK, I saw some of his at-bats and they got better, he wasn't overmatched.  I saw him hit a game winning grand slam while I was there, and he's just 20 years old.

BB: Andrew Liebel has been looked at as a back of the rotation starter but he improved as the year went on, what did you see in him?

DS: A couple of those guys in Dunedin got off to slow starts number wise, for him it was a lack of command early, he was walking a lot of guys, he wasn't efficient with his pitches. His stuff is not over-powering, he has to command his stuff, he has to spot his fastball, he has to pitch behind a little bit.  But he really got his confidence going later, you look at his stuff and it's OK, it doesn't wow you, he just has a really good knack for pitching and know what pitch to throw when.  We will see, he might have to repeat at Dunedin but he is a guy we have interest in.

BB: Halfway though the year you said to me that Bobby Bell was a starter for the near future, is it still for the near future?

DS: It might be longer now.  He had to have one of the best change-ups in the Florida State League this year and surprisingly his curveball was very good.  We rarely saw it when he came in at the end of the game (as a reliever) it was fastball, change-up, fastball, change-up and all of a sudden he dropped a couple of curveballs in and we were like wow that's pretty good.  So we will continue that next year with him, get him in the starting rotation, see how that works, because as we said it doesn't hurt those guys to get those innings now and if we put them back in the bullpen later there is no harm, they will be better for it one way or the other.

BB: Does he have a shot at starting next year in AA?

DS: I think he does at some point, maybe not right away but at some point he will get there.

BB: Chuck Huggins improved a lot this year, he hides the ball well although he is not overpowering.

DS: He has deception, early in the year he had trouble throwing strikes, he didn't have efficient outings, he would throw 4 innings and 95 pitches.  He would have 8 strikeouts and 4 walks.  We impressed upon him the need to be more efficient, he would get ahead of guys 0-2 and then the next thing you know the count is 3-2.  You can only talk so much to those guys but they have to go through it themselves and then they know what we are talking about and why.  And then the light went on and he said wow I am getting these guys out with three pitches and now I am working into the seventh inning.  He is a left handed guy with a good curveball and a good change-up, his fastball is average but it's all going to be about his command.

BB: He is a bit of a Jesse Carlson type.

DS: Yes, he does have deception and he's about the same size too.

BB: Tyler Pastornicky made great progress this year.  I know when he was drafted some people weren't sure if he would stick at shortstop but he seems to have proven them wrong.

DS: He has done a good job there, all we are going to do is keep running him out there at short to find out.  He is so much better this season than last, he is all of 19 and we threw him into the fire in the Midwest League this year and he hit well and stole 55 bases.  He made plays at shortstop that we didn't think he was going to make, he had a great year.  We sent him to the FSL for a few weeks and he hit there.  He is going to be a good offensive player, he is not a big physical guy, he puts the bat on the ball when it is in the strike zone.

BB: One of the biggest surprises this year was Darin Mastroianni, what happened with him?

DS: He is the hardest worker we have, or at least top three.  The big thing he had when he came into the organization was his speed.  We have guys who can run but we don't have anyone who gets up running as quickly as he does.  He is explosive, he came in as a second baseman and he wasn't very good over there at second.  We were looking at him saying he fights everything on the ground, he has trouble turning double plays.  He is the type of guy that goes 100 mph everything he does and that doesn't always work well when you're in the infield so we decided to move him to the outfield, let him use his legs.  He plays centre field and has done a good job there, he has an adequate throwing arm.  When he steals bases he puts a lot of pressure on the defense.  I don't know what he is going to be down the road but I will tell you this he will work as hard as anyone to get there and I wouldn't bet against him.

BB: He could be a Reed Johnson type

DS: He is probably not as physically talented as Reed but he is a good player.

BB: Eric Thames, is he going to be a chronic injury guy?

DS: I don't know.  I wish I could tell you but I hope not because when he is playing he can hit.  But he had setbacks this year and last year.  But when he was healthy he made the all-star team, he hit, I mean he really got that team (Dunedin) going when he was playing with them.  We missed his bat when he was out of there.

BB: Brad Mills, was it a rib problem, is he better now?

DS: It was his inter-costal muscle, he was throwing the last three weeks of the season in Vegas but we never got him in a game.  He is going to go home and rest and be ready for spring training.

BB: Carlos Perez had a very good first season in North America.

DS: Yes he did a good job.  He was our MVP down there.  When latin kids come over for their first year you don't really know what to expect.  Like our high school kids when they come in they are wide-eyed, they are anxious and nervous.  But he did a very good job catching, pitchers like to throw to him, he throws well and he hit nearly .300 the whole year.

BB: Do you think he could handle Lansing next year?

DS: We might find out.  We have a lot of young catchers down there, we have some guys we need to make decisions on.

BB: Gustavo Pierre, how was his first North American season?

DS: Good, you know he had Tommy John surgery last year and he hasn't shown any ill effects from that.  He is going to be a big physical guy, he is 6'3", very lean, got the long arms and long legs, but I think he is going to develop some strength hitting.  He made some adjustments at the plate this year but it is one of those too early to tell, tool wise you like him.

BB: Will he stick at shortstop?

DS: Oh yeah.

BB: Could he go to Lansing next season?

DS: He will probably go to extended spring training

BB: Was there anyone else in the GCL that caught your eye this year?

DS: Garis Pena, shortstop, did a nice job.  We have a pitcher, Pina, who got hurt a little at the end of the year.  He is a lefthander with a good live fastball.

BB: You have a bit of a logjam at shortstop next season, Jackson will need to repeat Dunedin, Pastornicky has earned a spot in Dunedin, Ryan Goins is behind them in Lansing, what do you do?

DS: Sometimes the best guy is going to play and I think competition is a beautiful thing so we will see how guys respond to that.  No promises or anything, let's go play and see who wins the position.

BB: The Jays picked a lot of high school hitters in 2007 and 2008 and while the farm system has been strong in developing pitchers and college hitters, other than Pastornicky the high school hitters have not progressed, do you need to re-evaluate what you do?

DS: No, Travis Snider is here although he is an exception.  We took him as a high school hitter and he is here in the big leagues and I think that worked out OK for us.  There are some guys who are going to take a little longer and we are OK with that.  We don't have to have them here right now and in fairness to them it is probably a four of five year process.  They will go through their peaks and valleys, all those guys we put in the FSL this year we pushed them, a lot of them were 19/20 playing there and we will put most of them there again next year probably.

BB: If they don't hit for a couple of years then you worry about them

DS: Eventually you will but they will be fine.  We could have sent them back to the Midwest League and they probably would all have hit .270.

BB: You made some changes in hitting coaches after the season.  Was that a philosophical thing or was it three individual decisions?

DS: A little bit of both and time to move on with some of those positions, get some new people in, and that's all I really have to say on that.

Batters Box thanks Dick Scott for answering our questions.

An Interview with Dick Scott - 2009 Edition | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
China fan - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 08:33 AM EDT (#207228) #

An interesting interview, Gerry, thanks for that.

One question:  why no mention of Fabio Castro in the top-30 prospects?   I know he tailed off in the latter part of this season, and he had a couple of disastrous games in July and August, but overall his numbers were not bad and he's still only 24 years old with lots of AAA experience under his belt, and even some major-league experience. Does he still have a chance or are you writing him off?

Gerry - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 09:05 AM EDT (#207229) #

I don't believe Castro qualifies as he has time in the majors as a previous rule 5 pick.

Having said that he seems to have topped out at AAA, he might have a future as a reliever but I don't think he makes it as a starter.

Mike Green - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#207230) #
Nice interview, Gerry.  I guess with the change in GMs, there might be a period of uncertainty regarding organizational philosophy regarding promotions and other development issues.  This might account for the somewhat more guarded answers than usual from Dick Scott.
China fan - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 09:21 AM EDT (#207231) #

Castro has 43.2 innings in the majors -- not sure if that disqualifies him as a prospect or not.

Not sure if his strikeout numbers are high enough to make him a successful reliever -- I'd rather see him stay as a starter.  But he might be falling victim to the Davis Romero syndrome, where a short and small pitcher is perceived as lacking something essential for the majors.

On another subject:  I don't understand why Stewart pitched so many games from the bullpen this season if he is seen as a future starter.   If he is seen as a potential starter, why has he had only 7 starts in the past two seasons?    Even in the above interview with Dick Scott, the Jays seem a little hesitant about making him a starter, and Scott says he might "possibly" be a starter in 2010.   For me, this makes me question his number-one ranking in the prospects list.  Until there is some certainty about whether he can make it as a starter, I can't consider him the top prospect in the system.

Mike Green - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 09:29 AM EDT (#207232) #
CF, both you and I misread Stewart's stat line.  He made 14 starts last year, 7 in the FSL and 7 in the Carolina League, but threw only 106 innings.  If he is going to be a starter, that is probably two-three years away. Now if you moved to a tandem starter regime, he could fit in nicely very soon... :)
Gerry - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#207233) #
The Scott interview was done after our rankings and I agree, when I heard Dick saying that I thought to myself that Stewart sounds like a reliever.  And a reliever should not be the number one prospect.  But the Jays will try him as a starter so who knows.
92-93 - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#207234) #
Reed Johnson has physical skills?!
Ducey - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#207235) #

I am interested in the comments about the high school hitters.  I had thought people were being a little too critical given the young age of these players and how they were apparently pushed to higher levels.

Is the justification for the "off" years valid?

Matthew E - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:17 AM EDT (#207236) #

Reed Johnson has physical skills?!

Sure. Reed Johnson could do a lot of things. I'd say that if it wasn't for his lack of one single skill, he'd be a complete ballplayer. Unfortunately, that one skill is "hit righthanded pitching", which is a pretty big item. But he can run, throw, field, bunt, destroy lefthanded pitching... he's a useful guy. Or he was, anyway; I haven't paid attention to what he's been doing since he left Toronto.

Pistol - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#207237) #
Nice job asking about the development of HS hitters, although I'm not sure I buy the answer (and putting Snider as a success when he was a highly polished hitter at the top of the draft is taking a little too much credit, although he did qualify it a little bit).

I think the answer to the hitting coach question is more indicative of how he feels; they're bring in new guys because the old ones weren't getting the results they want to see.

It'll be interesting to see what changes AA makes in the minors.

Gerry - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#207238) #

In general, teams don't want to bash their own players so Dick Scott says almost all of the players are "doing fine".

I don't believe for a second that he thinks the high school guys rom the 2007 draft are doing fine.  They were challenged but good hitters usually show the ability to make contact by their second season.  There are a few players who suddenly "get it" at age 20 or 21 but most show the skills before then.  Jackson, Ahrens and Tolisano in general haven't shown an ability to hit .300 at A ball and unless you can do that you aren't going to be a star in the major leagues.  They do have 2010 to show their skills but if they don't show the ability to hit well by June they won't be top 30 prospects any more.

Also reading between the lines I don't think Scott is sold on Pastornicky at shortstop.  He talks around it and if he was sold he would usually praise the player (channeling JP "the player").

He is also not sold on Liebel, suggesting he might have to go back to Dunedin after the good year he had is not a vote of confidence.

hootie110 - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:32 AM EDT (#207239) #
Sounds like Mr. Scott did not want to elaborate on why he made changes with hitting coaches. Perhaps he found out is was not a popular decision within the ranks. Now that JP is out it is a matter of time before the axe falls on members of the Player Development department, beginning with him. Changes do need to be made and as Mr. Scott said, "get some new people in".
92-93 - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:49 AM EDT (#207240) #
Dan Uggla made 5.35m in his first year of arbitration, and is about to get pricey for the Marlins. If I were AA I'd be calling the Fish and seeing if they'd be interested in a swap based around Uggla and Encarnacion. This would save the Marlins a few million dollars and allow them to slot Coghlan or Bonifacio back to their natural position, 2B. The Jays would pick up a more reliable power option for the corner, something they've been desperately lacking. Package a couple of arms with EE (Litsch + Farquhar?) and you may be on to something.
Mike Green - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#207241) #
Also reading between the lines I don't think Scott is sold on Pastornicky at shortstop

Why? He apparently has the arm, the smarts and the foot speed.  Is it reaction time/first step or overall athleticism? 

When I read Scott's answer, my interpretation was that scouts were questioning his ability to stick at short but that he was coming around. 

The Jackson/Pastornicky situation is a classic developmental issue.  Jackson has the tools to be a very fine shortstop- he's got athleticism, a great arm, good speed and reactions and some pop.  He will also take a walk, but strikes out a ton.  Scouts will see a high upside.  Pastornicky's tools are not so flashy (and scouts will usually be less impressed with his skills) and his upside is something like Scott Fletcher's, but he has a much better chance of reaching his upside than Jackson.  Ideally, you'd have Jackson at one level and Pastornicky at another, but sometimes growth patterns do not make this easy.  I hope that the club finds a way to keep both at short for most of 2010.
Lugnut Fan - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#207243) #

I have a couple of observations as a veteran of watching lower minor league baseball.

1) The development of Jackson, Ahrens and Tolisano:  Two of these three guys are switch hitters and the other had a bum shoulder this season.  When I was in college, I switch hit as well and did not have much success.  My coach told me to pick one side of the plate because as he said: "You better learn to hit from one side before you try to hit from both sides".  I would like to see Ahrens and Tolisano pick either the left or right side to hit from exclusively and see if they improve.

2) The lower minors show glaring differences in MLB clubs draft philosophies.  For instance in the MWL, you have teams like the Cubs, Dodgers and as of recent years the Blue Jays sending alot of younger prospects (18 to 20) to the league.  The problem is that they are told to play against draft picks of the Athletics, Twins and Padres that send almost exclusively college age players to the league (22-24).  Watching a 22 year old pitcher that pitched at a major university that was in a conference that conceivably could be equivalent to a level between the MWL and FSL carve up an 18 year old in his first full season is almost unfair.  Experience and maturity play a huge factor in who competes in the MWL for sure.  If you look at the roster of the Padres affiliate Fort Wayne Tin Caps, you will see that that entire roster was made up almost entirely of kids from major college programs.  Thus that led to a minor league team that won 101 out of 149 games that they played (I'm including playoff record).

3) As far as Pastornicky, maybe Gerry or Wacker can comment here, but he doesn't project as an every day MLB player to me.  I think he would be a nice utility guy, but I just don't see everyday player.  I liked Pastornicky, but there was an exponential difference between the talent of Pastornicky and the talent of say Dodger prospect Dee Gordon.

I am not sure how many have made the rounds of the MWL outside of Oldsmobile Park, but there are some new ballparks in this league that will rival Major League Stadiums as far as facilities.  The Great Lakes Loons have a $40 million dollar stadium and the Fort Wayne Tin Caps just built a brand new stadium that have indoor hitting, pitching, work out, and locker room  facilities that have been graded higher than some facilities that are available in MLB stadiums.  With that is coming increased pressure on the parent clubs to "Send the affiliate a winner".  In the case of the above mentioned Loons, it was no secret that they told the Los Angeles Dodgers to send them a team that competes for a MWL championship, or find themselves a new low A affiliate.  The result was that the Loons received 11 of the Dodgers top 30 prospects and some players that should have been promoted (I'm thinking Ethan Martin in paticular along with Russell Martin) were not.

Gerry - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#207244) #

Mike:  For Pastornicky Scott said:

He has done a good job there, all we are going to do is keep running him out there at short to find out. 

To me I would expect Dick to say more than this and to be more definitive if he was sold on Pastornicky's defense.  When he praised him a little and then switched to offense and used the words "to find out" I took that as Scott still being on the fence about Pastornicky's defense.

FisherCat - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#207246) #

... I don't understand why Stewart pitched so many games from the bullpen this season if he is seen as a future starter...

I vaguely remember reading stories when the Rolen trade was made, that the Reds development personnel were divided on what path to send Stewart down pen or starter.  I'm hoping that the Jays don't go McGowan on him and confuse the guy, thus delaying his growth.

I'm of the mind that any pitcher that has even a hint of starter in him should be stretched out from the get go and then let him relieve only as needed (ala Casey Janssen).  Somewhat similar to how the Red Sox use their prize prospects.  Start them in AA & AAA then if they deem worthy of a promotion, use them in low pressure relief situations in the majors!

kevinthedog - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#207247) #

... I don't understand why Stewart pitched so many games from the bullpen this season if he is seen as a future starter...

I vaguely remember reading stories when the Rolen trade was made, that the Reds development personnel were divided on what path to send Stewart down pen or starter.  I'm hoping that the Jays don't go McGowan on him and confuse the guy, thus delaying his growth.

yes - and stewart was primarily a reliever at texas tech (total of 80ip in 2008 between texas tech and two minor league stops)... so if they wanted to convert him to a starter they had to figure out a way to limit his innings.

Pistol - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#207249) #
To me I would expect Dick to say more than this and to be more definitive if he was sold on Pastornicky's defense

Particularly when he gave a (seemingly) definitive 'oh yeah' to Pierre staying at SS. 

ayjackson - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#207250) #

I'm more optimistic about Jackson and Tolisano than I am about Ahrens.  Both Jackson and Tolisano have shown the ability to put up IsoP approaching .200 for extended periods at both Lansing and Dunedin.  Unfortunately, the seem to follow it up with attrocious slumps.  But at least they have shown the ability, and unlike Bavg, I would think IsoP is less influenced by luck.

Ahrens, on the other hand, just continues to muddle along.  Something seems to be missing there.  Coming out of high school, he looked like he had a solid swing with average bat speed from both sides of the plate.  Perhaps he just isn't athletic enough to hit pro pitching.

TamRa - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 02:36 PM EDT (#207255) #
I know this might be a rather wacky opinion but IF Jackson's issues were, in fact, because of the shoulder and IF he came into ST and hit really well being healthy for a change (two BIG "ifs") i for one wouldn't be upset if they went ahead and sent him to AA once the weather warmed up even if you wouldn't normally do so.

I say this because of the crowding but also because the FSL being such a strong pitchers league, it kind of mitigates the size of the step in terms of facing more advanced pitching in AA.

Or so it would seem.

Mike Green - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#207256) #
Jackson struck out 44 times in 42 games in the GCL in 2007 and hit .187, and he struck out 154 times in 121 games in the Midwest League in 2008 and hit .231.  He did lose pop in 2009, probably due to the shoulder problem, but advancing him to double A when he has had such consistent difficulty making contact is (in my view) asking for trouble.
Denoit - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 05:11 PM EDT (#207259) #

They say that top prospects need to experience failure to learn how to overcome slumps in the Majors. Well Jackson just needs to experience sucess...

Pistol - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 07:13 PM EDT (#207265) #
I say this because of the crowding but also because the FSL being such a strong pitchers league, it kind of mitigates the size of the step in terms of facing more advanced pitching in AA.

Heck, why not just move him to AAA then?  The PCL is a big hitters league.

Said another way, the jump is the same regardless of the environment (and the Eastern League I believe is still move of a pitcher's league).  You wouldn't want to be looking at his rate stats in isolation from A to AA.  It'd be more important to look at how a player is doing relative to the league (and position).  And you're almost assured of seeing a drop moving up a level.

Given his ability to make contact it wouldn't shock me to see Pastronicky moved to AA next year, much like the Jays did with Scott Campbell last year.  But I also wouldn't be shocked to see Pastronicky back in Lansing either.
Matthew E - Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 09:56 PM EDT (#207269) #
They say that top prospects need to experience failure to learn how to overcome slumps in the Majors.

Then the Jays should be in great shape!
damos - Friday, October 09 2009 @ 11:05 AM EDT (#207289) #
I just heard on the Fan that Dick Scott & one other person has been let go from the organization. 
There were a couple other re-shuffling moves in the office but the report caught me off guard & I didn't catch it. 

damos - Friday, October 09 2009 @ 12:02 PM EDT (#207293) #
All of the organizational changes are on the Fan's website:

Gerry - Friday, October 09 2009 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#207311) #

From todays Eastern League chat:

John Manuel was not surprised with Scott's firing.  Said they are having a hard time figuring out who the Jays number one prospect is.

Cooper was a 21-25 Eastern League prospect so he fits here with Sierra and Alvarez.  Farquhar would have been in the mix if his command was better.  He thinks Cooper is still sub-par defensively but he has improved.

Mike Green - Friday, October 09 2009 @ 02:42 PM EDT (#207312) #
It's good to hear that Cooper's defense has improved.  Maybe the Hal Morris target was not so far-fetched.
An Interview with Dick Scott - 2009 Edition | 29 comments | Create New Account
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