This post brought over from my old blog 

I had some time today to ask JJ Cooper of Baseball America some questions and since they are releasing the Reds Top 10 tomorrow I asked him a few things about the Reds and the lists in general.

Doug: What kind of information goes into making a Top prospect list? Scouting reports and information, stats, character, projectability?

JJ Cooper: The best way to explain how we put this together is we try to blend a player’s ceiling with the likelihood of reaching that ceiling. When it comes to ranking a Jay Bruce, that’s easy, he has an extremely high ceiling combined with a high likelihood of reaching it. But when it gets lower on the list, and especially when choosing the No. 28, 29 and 30 prospects for the Prospect Handbook, that’s a big balancing act. For instance, do you put Sam Lecure, a likely fifth starter who seems pretty likely to at least be a big league swingman, on the list, or do you go with a guy like Philippe Valiquette? Valiquette’s a
strong-armed lefty, but one who is a long ways from the big leagues and someone with a decent chance of never making the majors.

That’s the balancing act we try to do. It hopefully works out more often than it doesn’t. A lot goes into that. Tools are obviously important, but the ability to turn those tools into baseball production is very important as well–Chris Dickerson has the best tools in the system, but that doesn’t mean he should rank ahead of a guy like Chris Valaika. I will say that as the Reds system has gotten better which makes it easier to put together the Top 30. Whether the system is good or bad, we rank 30 for the Prospect Handbook.

Doug:  Recently the Reds seem to be bringing more international players to the US to play. With signings from the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Netherlands and the traditional signings from the DR and Venezuela, is there anyone that the fans should keep an eye on who could jump onto the scene like Johnny Cueto did a few years ago or Juan Francisco did this past season?

JJ Cooper:  As far as Latin sleepers. I don’t think anyone will make a Juan
Francisco-sized splash next year, but if you want to dream on a Latin guy, Francisco’s Dayton teammate Denis Phipps has tools to compare with most anybody. He can run some, has outstanding power and has the arm for right field. He just has very little actual baseball experience (he started playing baseball just four years ago after playing basketball in the D.R.). Phipps likely will never turn into anything, but he could be a guy who goes from struggling to stardom.

Doug: There is a lot of differing opinions on prospects in all systems, but I haven’t seen anyone as controversial as Drew Stubbs is with Reds fans. He has all the size and tools to make scouts drool, but some look at his overall numbers and are very disappointed with his performance to this point. What is your opinion on Drew and his future (things he needs to work on and things he is going well right now that are overlooked)?

JJ Cooper: Without giving away too much of the Top 10 scouting reports, Stubbs is
the most fascinating guy in the Reds system. The Reds knew he was riskier than the average big college junior when they took him, but I’ll be interested to see how much improvement will come next year once his big toe is fully healthy for the first time in two years.

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