Here is part 2 of our interview with JJ Cooper. I got my BA Handbook last week (buy it here) and, after having devoured the Royals' section, then had the chance to ask JJ some questions--it was like Christmas. Thanks to JJ for his time and insight.
1. 1. What position is the biggest weakness in the Royals’ system?
The Royals are still pretty thin up the middle, especially at shortstop. The two best shortstop prospects in the system (if you think, like me and most people that Colon will end up at second base) are a) Jeff Bianchi, a player coming off Tommy John surgery who has had four significant injuries in the past six years and b) a pair of Dominican shortstops who have yet to play in the U.S.
2. 2. In the Handbook, you mention that a lot of Aaron Crow’s problems last year were mechanical. Are those issues fixed and should we expect a bounce back year?
The Royals believe that they are in the process of being fixed, but muscle memory is a tough thing to fight. Crow has some mechanical issues in his delivery that he'll have to learn how to work around, as it's hard to completely take away a wrist wrap, but the overthrowing is something Kansas City believes he can put behind him.
3. Yordano Ventura—the stuff sounds great—can he make it as a starter? What percent chance he goes to Kane County this year?
He has the stuff to be a starter. The big thing with any pitcher like this is can he stay healthy. I remember getting similar reports on Kelvin Herrera a couple of years ago, but durability has proven to be a big problem for him.
4. What can you tell us about Jorge Bonifacio? Intriguing DSL numbers--is he someone to keep an eye on?
Keep an eye on him, but he's a long ways away. I do like Calixte and Arteaga more.
5. What is the status of Noel Arguelles? Is he healthy? We've heard some character concerns--are those valid? (In addition to JJ's answer, he had a blog post that covered several Royals topics, including Arguelles. Here is the link)
I'm hoping to get another Arguelles update soon. Last I heard the rehab was going well, but anytime a pitcher gets big money and immediately has to be shut down, it's a bad sign. I've not really heard much bad about Arguelles makeup, but then, almost no one outside of the organization has even seen him since he signed because of the injuries, and you're more likely to hear that kind of stuff from someone outside the org instead of inside the organization. So the best I can answer on that is a sincere I don't know.
6. Any guesses who could be some of the players who will be big risers in the system a year from now? In a year, is this still a Top 3 farm system?
I'll be very interested to see what Jason Adam does this year. I also wouldn't be shocked at all to see Melville bounce back in 2011. He's still got very good stuff.
Finally, just FYI, here is BA's rankings for our top 35 players (I didn't want to retype it, so I just copied the list that AmosOtisFan over at RoyalsCorner posted here:
1. Eric Hosmer
2. Wil Myers
3. Mike Moustakas
4. John Lamb
5. Mike Montgomery
6. Christian Colon
7. Danny Duffy
8. Chris Dwyer
9. Aaron Crow
9a. Where Odorizzi would fall according to Jim Callis (ask BA)
10. Brett Eibner
10a. Where Jeffrees would fall according to Callis
11. Jason Adam
12. Yordano Ventura
13. Tim Collins
14. Tim Melville
15. Chelsor Cuthbert
16. Robinson Yambati
17. Salvador Perez
18. Johnny Giavotella
19. Louis Coleman
20. Jarrod Dyson
21. Jeff Bianchi
22. Patrick Keating
23. Huberto Arteaga
24. Orlando Calixte
25. David Lough
26. Derrick Robinson
27. Henry Barrera
28. Clint Robinson
29. Elisaul Pimentel
30. Kelvin Herrera
31. Everett Teaford
32. Lucas May & Buddy Bauman listed in BA article about 32nd players.