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Q&A with Kevin Goldstein on Texas Baseball

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Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus, the leading baseball analysis website today. He was formerly the man behind the Baseball America Prospect Reports at Baseball America.

Burnt Orange Nation: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Kevin. Let's start with some current Horns before we talk about some of the guys that are already competing in the professional ranks. Texas' top prospect is outfielder Drew Stubbs. From my perspective, he's already got the range to play centerfield in the pros, and he obviously carries a big stick, but the 39 strikeouts in 137 ABs is worrisome. How do scouts project Stubbs, and is he still a Top 10 pick?

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus:  Anytime, it's always fun talking about college baseball.  I think you just pretty much nailed the book on Stubbs, and I think you may be even underselling the defense.  I know one scouting director who think Stubbs is among the top 10 centerfielders in the game at any level, and that's remarkable praise.  In addition, all of the tools are there for him to be a top-flight offensive player as well, but as you note, his ability to make contact is a huge concern for scouts.  I think the most alarming thing really has been the lack of progress in Stubbs game.  You would like to see a nice upward climb in production and a nice decline in strikeouts, but Stubbs has really remained pretty steady.  His stock is definitely down from where it was at the beginning of the season.  He's still first-round easy, and somebody picking high may take a chance because of his high ceiling, but some position players like Long Beach State's Evan Longoria have passed him on most team's boards.

BON: Freshman Kyle Russell is tearing the cover off the ball, to a tune of 17 of his 31 hits going for extra-bases, including seven home runs. What can you tell us about him?

KG:  I think he and Jordan Danks are always going to be paired up.  Both had first-round talent heading into last year's draft, but team's avoided taking them early because they were so strongly committed to the Longhorns.  Both went to Texas High School powerhouses (Tomball for Russell, Round Rock for Danks), and both are having very impressive freshman seasons.  I think both of them could be big names in the 2008 draft.

BON: Do any of Texas' current pitchers project as solid professionals?

KG:  Well, Kyle McCulloch certainly.  He's pitched pretty well of late and should go in the second half of the first round in June - maybe even higher for a team looking to do a pre-draft deal.  He doesn't have the projection of some of the other college arms out there, but he's a safe pick, because he's pretty good now, and it's easy to project him getting into in the back end of a major league rotation pretty quickly.  

BON: How has the nature of projecting collegiate players changed over the years? There has been lots of interesting work done trying to translate the numbers, but the obstacles are numerous.

KG: It's a timely question, as I just published a piece on this at Baseball Prospectus, and it's free to all.  

BON: We all know that Huston Street's transition to the pros has gone exceptionally well. His successor at Texas, J. Brent Cox, is now working in the Yankees minor league system. How is he doing, and how does he project at the major league level?

KG: He's doing pretty well, in that it's his first full season as a pro and the Yanks have already bumped him up to Double-A (Trenton, Eastern League), which is a pretty aggressive assignment for a 2005 draftee.  He doesn't really have pure closer stuff, but like McCulloch, he could move quickly and be setting up Mariano Rivera as early as next year.

BON: Texas' popular former catcher Taylor Teagarden had to undergo Tommy John surgery after being drafted by the Rangers. Does he have a shot to hit enough to make the majors if he recovers at full strength? How does this injury affect his chances of making it?

KG:  Teagarden's defense was considered the best in last year's draft, and many questions about the bat were answered when he had a sparkling debut at Spokane in the Northwest League.  He struck out at a high rate, but showed surprising power and an excellent approach.  I think he's definitely the Rangers' catcher of the future.  I think the injury is much more of just a bump in the road, as opposed to any sort of long-term concern.

BON: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Kevin.

KG:  No problem.  I've been to Austin for SXSW, and just love that town.  So hook 'em horns indeed.