The Marlins acquired two prospects at the deadline yesterday. I decided to reach out to two of the most talented prospect writers on the Internet for their take on the future of those two players. I interviewed Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com regarding Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Roman of FutureRedbirds.net on Zack Cox.
Tim Williams, writer at Pirates Prospects:
Tim Williams: Once he moved up to Double-A, the bat never came around for Hernandez. He never developed any power, and was more of a singles hitter, getting extra base hits more because of his speed than his power. He can also be a streaky hitter, never really putting up consistent numbers at any level. When he is hitting, his numbers are great, looking like a good leadoff guy. But so far he hasn't been able to sustain that hitting over a long period, which combined with the lack of power, has turned him in to more of a fourth/fifth outfield option.
SE: How is Hernandez defensively? He played left, right, and center with the Pirates, which position does he profile the best as? Do you think he could play a major-league average center field? Does he have a strong arm or cover a lot of ground?
TW: The best asset Hernandez has is his defense. He was the best defensive outfielder in the Pirates' entire system, which includes guys like Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. He takes clean routes to the ball, covers a ton of ground with his speed, and has a strong arm. His best position is center field, and he has the capability to be an above-average defender in the majors, if not more. That's really where the bulk of his value lies right now, as a defensive outfielder.
SE: He has posted a career high BB% this season in Triple-A, is there any reason to think that he has made some progress with his approach?
TW: The walks are good to see, but for me they would come with the disclaimer that this is his second year in Triple-A. In his second year in Double-A he saw his walk rate go from the 6.5% range to 8.0%. I would chalk it up more to experience at the level, as his approach didn't look much different this year from when I've seen him in the past.
SE: If Hernandez played a full season in the majors, how many bases do you think he could steal?
TW: Hernandez is a fast runner, but he can also make some mistakes on the base paths. I think if you put him on an aggressive team, and give him a lot of opportunities, he could put up some good numbers. As a bench player and a pinch runner, I could see him putting up 20. As a full time starter I could see more, but I don't think he's got the bat to be a full time starter, so that's very hypothetical.
SE: What kind of player do you see Hernandez being down the road?
TW: I really see him being what he is right now, which is a very strong defensive outfielder who has speed on the bases. He's a pinch runner and a late inning defensive replacement. There's the chance that he could finally add some consistency to his hitting. He probably won't add power, so he's limited to being a top of the order hitter, or a good number eight hitter if he adds that consistency. But I think it's more likely that he stays as a fourth/fifth outfield option, best used as a late inning defensive replacement.
SE: How do you pronounce his first name?
Jeff Roman, writer at Future Redbirds:
Sam Evans: How did Cox rank among your top Cardinals' prospects at the start of the year? Would you change that now?
Jeff Roman: Zack Cox was 8th overall in our rankings this offseason. His stock is certainly down this year, but I'm not sure he would have moved down in next year's ranking too much as a lot of the players behind him in the top 20 have graduated to the majors this year.
SE: How does Cox profile defensively at third base?
JR: Cox profiles anywhere from "serviceable" to "terrible" at 3rd base. He's a bit awkward there and doesn't quite have the quick twitch to be a defensive star and his range isn't more than "fall down range". His arm is enough, but not spectacular. He's probably ticketed for a corner outfield spot long term.
SE: Cox's walk rate this year at Triple-A has been terrible, and he's no longer hitting for average. Do you have any idea why he has been so aggressive, and hasn't hit for average? What has gone wrong with him during the 2012 season?
JR: Zack Cox's average should come back up, and he's never really been known for his OBP. He's a pure hit tool guy. He also hasn't shown his college power in the pros.
SE: Is there still a chance he develops the 20-homer per year power that scouts thought he had coming into the 2010 draft?
JR: Is there a chance? Yes, of course. I, personally do not consider it incredibly likely. Change of scenery and different coaching could help, he still has the potential to regain that power.
SE: What kind of player do you see Cox being in three years?
JR: In 3 years, Zack Cox could be a player that hits for a good average and decent power (in the best case) or he could be the player he has shown this year with no average, no power and no walks! He's still a prospect with a major league future, but the future star we thought we'd see after the draft is not there any longer.
*Thanks to Tim and Jeff for answering these questions!*