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Interview with Jason Parks


Jason Parks joined the Baseball Prospectus roster in 2011, having spent the previous three years covering the Texas Rangers farm system for Baseball Time in Arlington, while doubling as a pro scout in Mexico as well as the New York-Penn League. Parks is a regular writer for the site but is also the co-host of the wildly popular Up & In podcast that he co-hosts with Kevin Goldstein. He also has an irrational appreciation for the actor Martin Kove (pictured left) who is well known as his role as the Sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo in Karate Kid.

He has an ongoing series this year about how prospects will break your heart and his most recent piece in that series focused on the top prospects in the Rays organization. We asked him if he was willing to take some questions from our readers on that piece as well as about other prospects in the system and he was more than happy to oblige us. Most of his columns are behind the pay wall at BP, but the podcast is 100% free and is one of the highest-rated podcasts on iTunes.

Bowling Green is having a very good run so far in the Midwest League this season. In Twitter style format, your thoughts on each of these guys in 140 characters or less. If you need to go all Sulia on us and go over, feel free to.

  • Ryan Brett: Gamer type; has the bat to make steady contact; gap-to-gap power; as a 2B, bat will have to be above-average to be regular.
  • Drew Vettleson : From BP comment section of Rays article: Good player; solid across the board. You name the tool and he can show it. Some like him more than others; he was considered for this list. One scout in particular said he had the best hit tool in their system. I think he gets pushed down the queue because he lacks that one exceptional tool that will give him value as a corner outfielder at the highest level. It takes a lot of bat to profile as a first-division starter in a corner, and I didn't receive enough love for his stick to go that high.
  • Tyler Goeddel: Legit tools; big kid; big potential; I ranked him #5 in the system; shows all five tools; good arm; good run; good power potential; good hit; good glove potential.
  • Kes Carter: Quality prospect; will show all tools; lacks plus projections; probably a tweener OF; can play the game.
  • Jake Hager: Not sure he has shortstop profile; good tools/not great; has a lot of on-the-field #want; scouts I spoke with suggested a utility profile over a starter.
  • Jeff Malm: Didn’t get any reports; minor league first baseman
  • Matt Rice: I don’t have a good feel for the player; didn’t talk to scouts re: player; org profile; possible backup potential.
  • Cam Seitzer: Abnormally large human; 22-year-old in Low-A at offensive position; org player.

Does Matt Rice have a future at catcher and what are his chances of ever making it on the 40 man roster?

He might have backup potential; I didn’t get any reports on him. I can’t offer a good eval.

Braulio Lara, Albert Suarez, Enny Romero, Wilking Rodriguez, and Grayson Garvin are all in Charlotte. Romero and Rodriguez were both in Kevin Goldstein’s top 20 ranking this season but what are your thoughts about them and which ones will be weeded out by the Double-A test?

Rodriguez has a good arm, but I’ve yet to see him dominate. I know several scouts that see serious upside with the arm, most likely out of the pen. I’ve yet to see it. Romero has a better chance of becoming an impact talent because he can show three above-average pitchers from the left-side and he has shown the ability to blow minor league hitters away. When he can keep his mechanical profile in rhythm, he can be effective in the zone. The biggest question with Romero is his command, which is below-average at present. His command and inconsistent secondary offerings have prompted several scouts to project the bullpen as Romero’s landing spot. I’m not sold yet. I think he has the tools to start, and sometimes special arms require special patience.

The Matt Garza trade discussion refuses to die at DRaysBay despite the fact the trade is now 16 months in the past. Garza has done well with the Cubs but Sam Fuld, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Chris Archer have had varying amounts of success. Will Guyer and Lee hit enough to stick as regulars, can Chirinos catch at the big league level, and can Archer remain a starter despite the command issues?

I’m not the biggest fan of Guyer’s bat; don’t see major league regular upside; might be able to hit for some average. Lee could be an all-star if he can find a way to hit. He’s never going to be a great hitter, but if he can make regular contact and use his speed to reach base, he can find a way to stick. His swing is a bit exploitable by pitchers with good stuff. Chironos isn’t going to be a good catcher, but he can be passable. The better the bat, the easier it is to ignore defensive flaws; Archer will probably end up a reliever down the line, but keeping him in a rotation has developmental benefit (repetition/innings) that will hopefully aid in the control/command.

What outfield role does Mikie Mahtook project at as a big leaguer and what do you think he can hit at his prime?

I think he’s a better fit for LF, but he’s a gamer that can find a way to make his skills work at any outfield position if forced into the role. His skills suggest LF is ideal. I think he’s a tweener because the bat doesn’t project well for an outfield corner. I think he will show both average and power, but I doubt he becomes a plus hitter in any one regard. Shows al the tools; doesn’t have high projections; isn’t a centerfielder. It’s a great profile for a 4th outfielder/2nd division left-fielder.

Carlos Pena is signed to a one year deal and there appears to be no obvious internal solution for the position for 2013. Who are one or two guys in the system now that you think could potentially fill that role down the line?

Maybe Tyler Goeddel, just because of his size and the potential of his bat. The rest of the system isn’t stacked with the type of bat that would have value at the position. Mostly org soldiers at the position in the minors.

The Rays have recently shifted Alex Torres to the bullpen. Do you agree with this move at this point and should it stay that way?

I thought he was a reliever long term, and it looked like he was ready to contribute to the major league club. I never felt confident that he would harness his entire arsenal and command at the same time. He is probably better utilized in bursts.

Your podcast with Goldstein is infamous for one phrase – WANT. Who is your non-top 10 prospect in this system that you have serious WANT for? Which of the top ten prospects do you lack WANT for?

I don’t have ten on either side, but I do really like Goeddel and Guerrieri. I don’t lack #want for any particular prospect, but I’m not sure about Lee’s bat (love the glove), O’Conner obviously can’t hit, and several position prospects have tweener profiles.

Tim Beckham – what can be salvaged of him now that he’s complicated his bust status with a 50 game suspension for dancing with Mary Jane again?

It can be salvaged if he wants to salvage it. I don’t like the fact that he allowed this happen, and it speaks to his makeup. I don’t have a problem with his weed smoking, as I don’t feel it should be illegal or frowned upon by a chemically affected society that call plants "drugs" as they buy taxable products to alter their senses. It’s hypocritical. That aside, Beckham knew the rules, broke the rules, and got busted for breaking the rules. That’s what I have a problem with. He has to be sharper than that.

What is this system’s best asset? What is its biggest weakness?

The best assets is Taylor Guerrieri, who has the highest ceiling in the system. The biggest weakness is impact offensive talent. They have several promising position players, most of which have a tweener profile or lack positional value. I don’t see a lot of impact offensive weapons. I see a lot of good baseball players that might be able to find 2nd division status if they really hit