4/10/2014 10:00 A.M. ET
Pipeline Inbox: Young arms headed to Mets' 'pen?
Jonathan Mayo responds to fans' questions about baseball's top prospects
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The 2014 season is well underway, and the Pipeline Inbox is back.
The months of guessing where players were going to go in 2014 are in the past, and so the stats of a new season are now filling up the pages on Prospect Watch.
Have a question about prospects?
E-mail your query to MLBPipeline.com reporters Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
With games being played, questions about prospects and their progress are coming in. We will do our best to answer them each week here at the Inbox.
With the injuries to Mets pitchers, do you think one young arm gets the call to the bullpen? If so, which one?
-- Ariel K., Woodmere, N.Y.
The main injury, in terms of the Mets' bullpen of course, is to Bobby Parnell, who will miss the season following Tommy John surgery. Some of the guys who will be counted on to pick up the slack are already in the big leagues, like Jenrry Mejia and Gonzalez Germen. But there are some options down on the farm.
The two main ones are currently in Triple-A Las Vegas' rotation, but as Anthony DiComo recently reported, they will get some time in the bullpen to see how they look (and to monitor their workloads). Both Rafael Montero, No. 3 on the Mets' Top 20 Prospects list (No. 85 overall) and Jacob DeGrom (No. 14 on the Mets' Top 20) will see some relief innings along the way, and it wouldn't surprise me if you saw either of them in New York at some point in 2014.
Is Billy Hamilton on the same career path as Nook Logan?
-- Roger R., St. Louis
To date, Billy Hamilton has played a total of 21 games in the big leagues; 45 at-bats. And yet it seems that people are very intent on putting some kind of label on him as a failure (no offense to Nook Logan and his family).
There's no question both Logan and Hamilton share a top tool: speed. Logan topped out at 67 steals in one season in the Minors and swiped the 55 the year after that. Hamilton, by contrast, twice topped the century mark, including his insane 155 in 2012. He also made his big league debut at age 22, almost two full years younger than Logan.
But this isn't really about a Hamilton-Logan comparison. It's the thinking that Hamilton won't hack it as an everyday player at the highest level. I'm still a believer, and his first 26 at-bats in 2014 wouldn't sway me in either direction, anyway. Though Hamilton did get on base four times, steal two bases and score from third after tagging up on a popup. Just saying.
Based on his Minor League track record, any reason to "believe" in Yangervis Solarte? Or is he Kevin Maas/Shane Spencer, part 3?
-- Stu S., Farmingdale, N.Y.
Just like Hamilton's sample size can't make you lose faith, it would be a mistake to let Solarte's start lead you to believe he was the next Yankees great. That said, there is reason to believe he could have more staying power than your Yankees shooting star examples, Stu.
Originally signed by the Twins in 2005, Solarte never really put it together in that organization until the 2011 season, when he hit .329 in Double-A, his third taste of that level. He signed as a Minor League free agent with the Texas Rangers for the 2012 season, and in two Triple-A seasons, he hit a solid .282/.332/.404 while playing all over the diamond. Solarte opted for a Minor League deal with the Yankees this past offseason, and it's paid off, as he's largely been New York's third baseman and has gone 12-for-28 with a seven-game hitting streak.
That start needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and pro scouts I talked to don't see Solarte as a Major League regular. They do think he has value as a utility guy, one who can move around to play third, second, left field and even some shortstop on occasion. And Solarte will swing the bat. Some feel he didn't get an opportunity to make it up with Texas just because of that organization's depth, and more than one team told me they've had an interest in signing him in the past when he was a free agent.
Why is Alexander Guerrero not considered a prospect for the Dodgers?
-- Seth L., Clinton Ill.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain the rules we set up for international prospects. We basically adopted the rules that govern the international pool money system. Those guidelines, as laid out by the most recently ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement, state that certain international signings count against a team's international pool and some don't.
Those that don't are players who are 23 or older who played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba). Guerrrero is 27 and came from Cuba. His four-year, $28 million contract does not count against the Dodgers' international pool, so we don't consider him a prospect. The same goes for Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka from Japan. Both of these players might qualify for Rookie of the Year Award honors, but they don't for the honor of being placed in the Prospect Watch rankings.