Who are some Major League comps to Indians' uber-prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier?
-- Steve Z., Erie, Pa.
The dynamic outfield duo of Zimmer and Frazier are currently Nos. 1 and 2 on the Indians' Top 30 prospects list, and that's not likely to change any time soon. Zimmer, tall and athletic, is coming off a first full season that saw him reach (and scuffle a bit in) Double-A. But he hit a combined .273/.368/.446 with 16 homers and 44 steals. Because of his build and his power-speed potential, the comps that make the most sense are guys like Andy Van Slyke, Von Hayes or Shawn Green.
Frazier, the 2013 first-rounder, is a little trickier. He had a tremendous second half and a solid Arizona Fall League to build off as he prepares for that jump to Double-A. He doesn't fit just one profile all that well. Some see the bat speed and think of Gary Sheffield. Some see the size and right-handed power and think Justin Upton. That's not to say Frazier will be exactly like either of those guys, but there are qualities in Frazier that remind scouts of those All-Stars.
Will the Mets' Dom Smith hit for power? Is his defense really Gold Glove-caliber? Is there enough to move Lucas Duda?
-- Dan S., Gibbstown, N.J.
That's the big question, isn't it? There's no question Smith, the Mets' No. 5 prospect, can really hit. He had a solid Florida State League season and was hitting well in the Fall League before a minor oblique injury knocked him out. I do think there is more power to come than what he's shown. It started to show up, at least in the form of extra-base hits, this past season (33 doubles during the regular season, .511 slugging percentage in the AFL). The Mets have wanted Smith to worry about hitting first, believing the power will come in time. I don't think he's going to be a 30-plus-homer kind of guy, but there should be enough for him be an everyday first baseman. And yes, he's very good defensively.
The Mets could give Smith two more years in the Minors before having to deal with the Duda question. Duda isn't a free agent until after the 2017 season, so perhaps it'll be that '17 campaign where something will have to be decided. Or, at the very least, Smith takes over at first base full time in 2018.
Should the Dodgers give Jose Peraza the second-base spot? Should they bring back Chase Utley as a backup and a left-handed bat?
-- Sal G., Los Angeles
I would give Peraza, No. 4 on the Dodgers' Top 30, every opportunity to win that job. While perhaps his prospect stock has faded a bit, he still has the potential to provide a real boost to the Dodgers' offense. He makes a lot of contact, hits for average and can steal bases. The one thing he does need to improve is his on-base ability (.318 OBP in the Minor Leagues in 2015). Given the fact that Joc Pederson and his .325 OBP inhabited the leadoff spot more than any other Dodgers player this past season, it won't take a whole lot to improve the top of the order in that regard. Peraza has the skills to play shortstop as well (though he obviously won't in 2016), and is a solid defensive second baseman.
As for Utley, he had a combined .629 OPS in 2015. If you think his August (.901 OPS) is a sign of something left in the tank off the bench, go right ahead. But I'd probably be inclined to look elsewhere.
What's the prospect combination equivalent to a turducken?
-- Casey H., Oakland
While this is a relevant holiday-related question, we actually answered it several months ago. Back in April, we at MLBPipeline.com created uber-prospects, both hitting and pitching.
The hitter was Carlex O'Galldor. We took Carlos Correa's hit tool, Joey Gallo's power, Mallex Smith's speed, Justin O'Conner's arm and Francisco Lindor's offense.
After that prospect Turducken, you can move on to our uber-pitching prospect for dessert (a Piecaken, if you will): Carlbert Owenolito. That's Lucas Giolito's fastball, Robert Stephenson's curveball, Carlos Rodon's slider, Henry Owens' changeup and Aaron Nola's control.
What position would be the best for Christian Arroyo given that Brandon Crawford just signed a six-year extension with the Giants?
-- Sheila D., Daly City, Calif.
You are right to point out that very large Crawford roadblock. The Giants can certainly take their time with Arroyo, their first-round pick in 2013, given that Crawford is signed through 2021. Arroyo, for his part, might push on a slower timetable after a solid California League season followed by a very good AFL showing. That said, many feel Arroyo isn't a long-term shortstop anyway. He has played some second base, back in 2014, but Joe Panik isn't even arbitration-eligible until 2018. Ditto for Matt Duffy at third. So it appears there's no room at the inn for Arroyo, who should be ready in 2017 at some point. Maybe he should try left field on for size?
Should the Pirates entertain a Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Tyler Glasnow trade for Manny Machado? They have outfield depth.
-- Chris O., Pittsburgh
There's no charge for entertaining. But to me, there's no way this trade makes sense. I love Machado and think he will be a superstar for a long time. But you're talking about dealing Marte, who is under control on a very affordable contract through 2019 along with one of the best pitching prospects in the game in Glasnow, not to mention Walker in his last year before free agency (when he'll be playing at age 30). I don't see that as a fit. We won't even go into the question of why the Orioles would even think of dealing their All-Star third baseman. And while I agree the Pirates do have some outfield depth, they don't have anyone ready to play left field full-time in 2016. That's a long-winded way of saying no.