Quite a treat today as BP and ESPN put out their top 100 prospect list and then Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law decided to hold their chats at the same time.
BP Kevin Goldstein:
ESPN Keith Law
Kershaw has about as good an arm as you're likely to see on a young left-hander. His arm works extremely well, with little effort and quick movement through his delivery. His stuff is outstanding, a plus-plus fastball at 93-96 with good downhill plane and a two-plane hammer curve in the mid-70s that must cause left-handed hitters to strain their obliques as they try to hold up. He has a changeup with good fading action, but doesn't sell it well enough and right-handers can sit on it a little bit, although he can improve that with experience. The Dodgers promoted fellow pitching prospect Scott Elbert aggressively and worked him hard in 2006, and he responded with a shoulder injury that required surgery in May. They worked Kershaw less hard -- he faced 93 fewer hitters than Elbert did -- but still pushed him to AA before he was ready, and 19-20-year-old pitchers do get hurt. That's the only thing likely to stop him from becoming a top-of-the-rotation starter."
"Big league teams can do funny things. The Dodgers liked LaRoche enough to give him a seven-figure bonus after taking him as a summer follow in the 39th round in 2003. They moved him up aggressively, gave him a shot at the big league job and decided a month later that he couldn't hit, instead accepting mediocre production from known quantities until they started to fall out of the playoff race in September. Now, after several abortive attempts to acquire a third baseman, the Dodgers are going to give LaRoche a chance to "win" the job over Nomar Garciaparra (who can't field a lick at third and isn't much with the bat) in spring training. Here's the scoop: LaRoche can, in fact, hit, and he'll hit for average with excellent on-base percentages, with middle-of-the-road power. He can play third, but doesn't project as a plus glove. He should be handed the everyday job right now."
"Hu has an incredible combination of defensive ability and instincts that should net him a long career in the majors. His ceiling is entirely determined by how much he hits, and the jury on that one is still out. He has good bat speed and excellent bat control, putting the ball in play and trying to pepper the outfield with line drives. He needs to show this year that he can turn on some hard stuff inside. He never is going to hit for power, and his OBPs always will be driven by batting average. In the field, Hu is a wizard and a future fan favorite. He has plus range in both directions and a strong, accurate arm. But best of all is his natural feel for the game and constant awareness of game situations. If he keeps getting stronger, he should be an All-Star shortstop at the big league level who competes for Gold Gloves."
James McDonald(52) Now we are talking
"McDonald signed as a pitcher as a draft-and-follow prospect, hurt his arm, moved to the outfield, hurt his coaches by not hitting a lick and moved back to the mound, where he's hurt opposing hitters by racking up K's like there might be a run on the strikeout banks. McDonald is Clay Buchholz Lite: average fastball or slightly below, above-average curve and changeup, good control and feel for pitching. His curve gets swings and misses in the minors, but it's a bit of a slow roller and he'll have to use it more sparingly in the big leagues unless he can tighten its rotation."
"Keep an eye on this one. Withrow pitched all spring with an average fastball (88-91 mph) and a fringe-average curve with good depth but an early break, but his velocity rose after his move to pro ball. He has some projection left and has a great delivery with a quick, explosive move toward the plate. And after the success of Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw to date, the Dodgers get a little extra credit on first-round arms."
Chat talk with Law and Goldstein today regarding Dodger prospects:
Mike (Albany, NY): Keith, how is Scott Elbert not on your list of Top 5 prospects in the Dodger organization? Is it strictly due last seasons arm injury? Is his ceiling a #2 starter?
Keith Law: (1:04 PM ET ) It was due to the arm injury and the fact that he didn't come back last year. When a pitcher misses significant time with a shoulder injury, I want to see where his stuff is before getting back on board.
Dan (NYC): Where would a guy like Kemp rank in terms of players you'd want to start an organization around?
Keith Law: (2:23 PM ET ) Really, really high.
Then the big ouch;
Paolo (Tempe, AZ): Keith, what do you make of the Dodgers moving Meloan back to starting pitching? How do you think he'll pan out?
Keith Law: (1:34 PM ET ) I haven't heard that they are doing that, and if so, they might as well as him to stick his arm in the wood-chipper. The injury risk is the same either way.
greg (toronto): If you look into your crystalball, who do you think will be your top prospect for next year?
Kevin Goldstein: Clayton Kershaw
Quite shocked to see Withrow on Law's list and just as shocked to see McDonald did not make Goldsteins list while Elbert did.