2014 Top 100 Prospects Chat

Baseball America’s 25th annual Top 100 Prospects list is out and BA staffers were here chat about the list.

Ben Badler: Thanks to everyone for all the feedback we’ve gotten on our MLB Network special last night and the Top 100 list in general. Now, on to the questions.

Alex (Toronto): Your rankings suggest you see Stroman as a reliever, eh?
Ben Badler: No, I think he’s a potential No. 2 starter. I see no reason why he would have to move to the bullpen.

MJ (Valpo): Thought I'd maybe see guys like Luis Sardinas, Jorge Polanco, DJ Davis, Dilson Herrera, Mitch Nay, Stryker Trahan or Lewis Brinson sneak in there somewhere...any of them close or in discussion for a 90-100 spot?
Ben Badler: Polanco’s my favorite of the bunch. The bat has been better than expected, he showed it plays against better competition over the winter and he’s a plus defender at second or average at shortstop.

Mark Appel (Houston): Did the Astros make a mistake by choosing me over Bryant and Gray?
Ben Badler: I can’t call it a mistake, but I liked Gray more on draft day, and based on what they both showed in pro ball, Gray only increased the gap between them.

Andy (Forest, VA): Which player or players in the "back half" of the top 100 do you think will make big strides and wind up inside say the top 25 next year?
Ben Badler: Julio Urias and David Dahl.

Patrick (Iowa): How far away was Jesse Winker and do you think he'll make the list next year?
Ben Badler: Not far off, and if you saw my list in the Prospect Handbook, you know he’s in my Top 100. Being a zero in the field is generous and that’s a legitimate concern for a guy who’s never been above the Midwest League, but with the way his short swing works, his approach and the power that should develop, that’s a bat I’d bet on.

Casey (Houston): Why didn't Delino Deshields or Domingo make the list?
Ben Badler: There’s enough reservations about DeShields’ hitting that I doubt he’s ever more than an average regular, and I’m not sure he’s even an everyday player. The power makes Santana intriguing, but there’s just way too many holes in his swing to put him in the Top 100 yet.

CW (Houston): Why did you place Baez in front of Correa?
Ben Badler: They’re back-to-back on my list. The edge for Baez is in the power and the more advanced track record. They should both be stars.

John (Chicago): In developing the list, what single aspect of an individual player did you spend the most time laboring over (e.g., Player X's breaking ball, or Player Y's defense)?
Ben Badler: Whether George Springer can hit major league pitching. There’s parts of his swing and his hitting approach that make you think he’s going to struggle at the next level, but it’s impossible to ignore his performance in the upper minors even with the high strikeout rate and the incredible tools he brings to the table. If he can be a .260 hitter in the big leagues, we’re talking about Mike Cameron. If not, his scouting report reads an awful lot like Ruben Rivera’s.

Chris (Ann Arbor, MI): You guys appear to be significantly higher on Devon Travis than just about anyone else. His stats are great, but what in his scouting report led to such a lofty ranking? Thanks!
Ben Badler: The scouts I’ve talked to on him were all fairly high on him. Short swing, barrel awareness, routinely squares the ball up with good hand-eye coordination to hit for a high average and get on base with solid power at a premium position.

Joey (Bar): What is Bogaerts power ceiling?
Ben Badler: Wouldn’t surprise me if he cranked out a 30-homer season or two.

Jeremy (Kentucky): Where would Diaz and Arruebarruena fit into the top 100 list?
Ben Badler: I wouldn’t put either of them on it.

Jim (Pittsburgh): How can small market teams continue to get top 100 talent with current restrictions on the draft?
Ben Badler: Hire the best scouts in the game and get the evaluations right, both in the draft and the international market. The Cardinals weren’t exactly blitzing the draft with money, but their track record on late-round picks, especially from the college ranks, is outstanding. There’s limits to what you can spend on players, but there’s no limits to what an owner can spend to hire the best talent evaluators in the game to get those players. Whether an owner can properly identify those scouts is another question…

MC (Boston): Who was the most divisive guy included on the list? And excluded?
Ben Badler: The guys with the most extreme or unusual skill sets generally sparked the most variance. Joey Gallo isn’t a Top 100 guy for me because of the concerns I have about the contact issues getting exploited at higher levels, but if you think he can hit better pitching, he looks like a monster. Among pitchers, there isn’t much historical precedent for what Julio Urias is doing. I’m a big believer, stuff is going to be plus or better across the board, the arm is free and easy and his command and feel for setting up hitters would be beyond his years if he were 20, let alone 17.

Justin (Philadelphia): do you think gregory polanco could be a 30hr/30sb guy?
Ben Badler: He has the tools for it, but he would have to change his swing to get there. You can put a 70 on the raw power, but unless he starts selling out to try to yank the ball, he’s going to be more in the 20-25 range.

Tyler (NJ): What's edwin escobar ceiling in ur opinion?
Ben Badler: Mid-rotation starter. A lot of 50s and 55s on his scouting report that play up with potential plus command.

Tyler (NJ): Don mattingly comp joc pederson swing to the likes of cano n cargo. Any chance he ends up that good?
Ben Badler: I actually kind of dig the Carlos Gonzalez comp. The skill sets are similar.

Clayt (McPherson, KS): Would you rather have Correa, McCullers Jr., and Ruiz or Buxton?
Ben Badler: I love Correa, but Buxton, easily.

Lars (Redmond, WA): Garin Cecchini seems pretty low on the list despite pretty solid production. Is he a guy who could end up proving scouts wrong and become a very good player at the big league level despite lacking elite athleticism? Just someone who can straight play baseball?
Ben Badler: I’m higher on Cecchini than most, although I wouldn’t say he’s going to prove scouts wrong, since in general I think scouts are pretty high on him. But with the way his bat stays in the zone and his tremendous plate coverage are going to carry him with better defense than people give him credit for at third base. We’ve seen guys like Nolan Arenado and Mike Moustakas transform themselves from third basemen with question marks about staying at the position into above-average or even Gold Glove-caliber defenders at third. I’m not saying that’s going to necessarily happen with Cecchini, but I think he’ll be fine at third base and be a consistent .300 hitter, just without much power.

Byron Buxton (Minnesota): What is my ceiling and what is my floor? Am I bound to be an Upton or a Griffey Jr. ?
Ben Badler: The ceiling is a potential Hall of Famer. That takes great health and longevity to get there, but it’s five legitimate plus or better tools, 80 speed and potential 80 bat and glove at a premium position with an advanced approach for his age. What’s incredible about Buxton is just how few holes there are in his game. With someone like Bogaerts, you can nitpick and say that he’s not going to be great defensively at shortstop, Sano has swing-and-miss concerns, Lindor has question marks on the power, even though they all could be stars. WIth Buxton, he just doesn’t have many holes to even nitpick about. As long as he stays healthy, I would be stunned if he doesn’t turn into a superstar.

Lewis (Pittsburgh): What is Nick Kingham's ceiling?
Ben Badler: Higher than most people think. Good No. 3, low-end No. 2 starter.

Kevin (Chicago): Who do you think has the best chance to make a big jump for the Cubs this year, similar to what Arismendy Alcantara did last year?
Ben Badler: Jeimer Candelario has the potential to make that kind of leap this year. Mature hitting approach for his age (and no age questions here), good bat speed, 20-25 homer potential.

Matt (Madison): The Franco ranking seems really aggressive, as well as an Edwin Encarnacion comp. Are you at all worried about the walk rate limiting his overall value?
Ben Badler: It is a concern, but the plate coverage and the ability to consistently find the barrel with well above-average power is difficult to match. The approach may be an issue if the Phillies try to push him to the big leagues this year, but even if he struggles initially, he should be able to adjust and learn which pitches outside of the zone to lay off, because when he gets one in the zone, he doesn’t get beat too often.

Nick Melotte (Atlanta, GA): Is there anyone from the 2012 International free agent class that could break into the top 100 by the end of the year?
Ben Badler: Julio Urias is already there. Franklin Barreto, Amed Rosario and Lewis Thorpe could join him next year.

Daniel (Florida): Any article coming up about the top July 2 2014?
Ben Badler: Absolutely. International Reviews are coming soon as well, more than 200 scouting reports on the top 2013 international signings and scouting reports on top DSL and VSL prospects as well. Haven’t been sleeping much lately.

Jackson (New York): Who has fallen the farthest in the rankings (obviously not including being promoted to The Show) ???
Ben Badler: Mike Olt and Bubba Starling probably had the biggest drop-offs from last year. Could throw Courtney Hawkins into that mix too.

Nate (Michigan): Rafael De Paula from the Yankess was great the first half of last year. Was his drop off at the end enough to keep him off this list and the Yankees top 10?
Ben Badler: Yes. Still a great arm, but heard too many concerns about his mechanics starting to go in the wrong direction.

Christopher (Chicago): What are your thoughts on Edwards for the Cubs? What is his ceiling?
Ben Badler: An athletic power arm with a plus breaking ball, throws strikes, misses bats, gets ground balls. Everything’s there for him to be a No. 2 starter if it all comes together.

Mike (Boston): Do you think Addison Russell reaches rookie eligibility this year or do the A's hold him in the minors most of the season?
Ben Badler: I’m probably Russell’s biggest fan outside of his family, but he’s still a year away from being ready.

Tyler (NJ): Jp Crawford in ur opinion develops at least average power. 10-15?
Ben Badler: He can get to the 10-15 range. His game is more about bat control and drawing walks to get on base rather than power, and the swing is geared more for line drives and keeping the ball on the ground. But with his bat speed and the room he has to grow into his frame, he’s going to start driving the ball with more authority once he packs on some size.

Derek (Chillinois): How many SP in the top 100 have true #1 potential? Are there any out of the top 100 that are just too raw?
Ben Badler: I see about eight or nine guys who have that potential where you can see them as a No. 1 starter without having to squint too hard, guys like Archie Bradley, Taijuan Walker, Robert Stephenson, Jonathan Gray. And I wouldn’t include Julio Urias or Kohl Stewart in that group yet, but there’s enough uncertainty around their projections right now that we could be looking at them as potential No. 1s in a year.

Ben Badler: Enjoyed all the prospect discussion today, but I’ve got a scout call scheduled that I have to take, so Matt Eddy’s coming in now for some old-school, multi-inning relief work.

Mike M (South Dakota): The Twins are number 3 by organization according to the book, but only 4 guys in the top 100. How does that work out, all the others in the top 5 have 6 0r 7 guys.
Matt Eddy: For me it boils down to the impact potential of the Twins’ very best prospects. Buxton is the best talent in the game, a potential MVP in the making, while Sano has as much power as anybody in professional baseball. Meyer has an interesting blend of stuff and performance, while Kohl Stewart ranked as the top prep arm for the 2013 draft. When you factor in the relative safety of position prospects, the Twins look even better with Nos. 1 and 6 overall.

Big Dave (AR): So were Lindsay and Nelson's inclusion at the back of the list just sympathy pics for the Halos and Brews? :)
Matt Eddy: I had Angels 2B Taylor Lindsey a bit higher than 93 on my list, not that it matters much when distinguishing between prospects in last quarter of the list. I think he’s a profile second baseman with a chance for his hit and power to play at 55 for the position. (17 HR in Double-A Arkansas’ park is quite impressive.) I think his ceiling is as a Neil Walker type of regular.

Ben (Leland Grove): Why do you suppose you are the only trusted source to include international guys such as Tanaka and Abreu on your list, as well as those whose service time in the Majors would exclude them, such as Carlos Martinez?
Matt Eddy: In the case of the former, because they’re eligible for the league ROY awards, and Tanaka and Abreu would have to be considered the favorites in the AL. (Call it the Negro Leagues or NPB precedent.) In the case of the latter, because a player’s lack of MLB experience outweighs his service time. Martinez has 28 innings, which is nothing, and if he cleared 45 days of service with the Cardinals before September, it wasn’t by much seeing as he’s at 73 days total. Plus, with 25 of these Top 100 lists in the books, it’s important that the criteria remain unchanged so that direct comparisons year to year can be made.

Chris D (Adams,Ma): I Keep hearing about Henry Owens in fact David Ross gave glowing reviews of the young southpaw. Does he have a good chance of winding up # 1 prospect by years end?
Matt Eddy: The Vegas oddsmakers would probably place Owens at the top of that list, but the darkhorse is 2013 first-rounder Trey Ball, who might take the prospect world by storm.

Nicky (Colorado Springs): Johnathan Gray was your top rated player in last years draft. He absolutely dominated during his appearances in High A yet he's 4 spots behind Kris Bryant on your list. How do you explain this?
Matt Eddy: It’s just personal preference. I liked Gray better than the BA consensus and had him as my top pitcher before Tanaka signed. As you note, he was the top draft prospect, he had an outstanding pro debut and his scouting grades are among the very best in our Prospect Handbook. I’m all-in.

JC (Whitehall): Could Tim Cooney find his way on this list next year? Does he have more upside than back end starter for you?
Matt Eddy: I don’t think Cooney is a strong candidate for next year’s Top 100, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make his MLB debut this year, much like Tyler Lyons got his callup as a rotation fill-in last year. As a side note, a callup for Cooney would give former BA staffer Matt Blood, now an area scout for the Cardinals, his first big leaguer.

JD (DC): Would Taylor Guerrieri have made the cut if not for the injury? And did the suspension affect his standing at all?
Matt Eddy: Again, personal preference. I had Guerrieri on my personal Top 100. I just love his feel for sinking the ball and finding the zone, doing so with a good starter’s build and quality secondary stuff. You have to be concerned about the injury and the suspension, but they’re obstacles he can overcome.

Josh (NJ): Amed Rosario has gotten tons of praise for his tools here and at another prospect media outlet. He probably won't jump to Savannah in 2014 but could a strong showing in Brooklyn get him on next year's Top 100?
Matt Eddy: Yes, absolutely. He’s an electric athlete with as much helium as any position player in short-season ball in 2013.

John Farrell (Fort Myers, FL): Should I be concerned about having 2 rookies (Bogaerts & Bradley) in my projected World Series defending starting lineup?
Matt Eddy: Only if Bogaerts is playing 3B and not hitting, but that’s unlikely. The Red Sox will be able to cover if Bradley doesn’t hit as a rookie because he’s a strong center fielder and baserunner. Having to rely on Jonathan Herrera at SS and Middlebrooks at 3B could hurt if Bogaerts stumbles out of the game (again, not that I think that is likely, plus Drew could re-sign with the club).

scott (cleveland): Franco had a very good year at Reading. Would you consider that league more pitcher or hitter friendly. Also, do any of the writers feel that he makes the club out of spring training?
Matt Eddy: The Eastern League is fairly neutral for hitters and pitchers compared to circuits like the International, Texas and Southern leagues. However, Reading is the No. 1 home run park in the EL, which is reflected in Franco’s home/road split of 10/5.

Joshua Heines (Princeton, New Jersey): Where does Noah Syndergaard rank amongst Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler?
Matt Eddy: I think he’s more similar in some ways to Wheeler because he can dominate with his fastball and throw a ton of strikes with the pitch. However, Syndergaard has much better control than either Harvey or Wheeler did in the minors. If he refines his curveball and can sustain his performance over 200 innings, then he could be scary good.

Metro (NYC): If you had to pick one to have the superior career... DJ Peterson or Dom Smith and why? Thanks Ben!
Matt Eddy: One could make a case for Peterson, but I would give Smith the slight edge. I think he profiles better at first base with his lefty bat, his height and remaining projection, and first base is probably the position that Peterson will shift to. RH-hitting first baseman are so difficult to peg. For every Goldschmidt who wildly surpasses expectations, it seems like there’s a half-dozen Matt LaPortas.

Mark (Chicago): I have read up on all 100 prospects and have a pretty good sense of their potential. But which player who starts the year in the minors ultimately makes the greatest impact? I am thinking Taveras.
Matt Eddy: Can’t go wrong with Taveras. I’ll nominate Jonathan Gray and maybe Archie Bradley, too.

P.J. (Jersey City): Did the drug suspension knock Eddie Rosario off the list or was he not in there to begin with?
Matt Eddy: Rosario fell just outside the Top 100. I think he was on half the ballots, but not particularly high on the other half.

Matt Eddy: Rosario fell just outside the Top 100. I think he was on half the ballots, but not particularly high on the other half. His suspension had no bearing on his ranking.

Grack (NYC): Regarding Wilmer Flores, despite having previously been moved off SS, do you think he can be viable there? I don't mean being a + defender, but can he play it there to a minimum degree of competency (played 4 minor league seasons there) given that the bat is a plus there?
Matt Eddy: You’d get a unanimous “no” from scouts on that one.

John (PA): What side of the diamond do you think Franco is on 5 years from now?
Matt Eddy: Third base. As Ben noted earlier, third base is one of the positions where young players tend to show the most improvement as they move farther away from amateur ball. Catcher is also like this in some regards.

Nick (Philadelphia): Why is Lindor so "low?" I get that he's pretty high in the grand scheme of things, but lower than Boegarts, Baez, Correa. Is it the fact that he won't ever hit for a ton of power?
Matt Eddy: Despite being the superior defensive player, Lindor’s net contribution in terms of runs created (minus) runs allowed will be lower than Bogaerts, Baez and Correa, superior offensive players all. At least, that’s what we’re projecting based on our information gathering this offseason.

Moy (Duncanville, TX): Who would you take, Tanaka or Darvish at the same point of their careers?
Matt Eddy: Ben Badler’s extensive scouting comparisons of Darvish and Tanaka (seriously, Google it) convince me that Darvish has better stuff and a better outlook going forward, considering his MLB track record in a brutal park for pitchers.

Dave (Work): League roster allows for 5 minor leaguers, clock doesn't start until we put them in the lineup or they meet the min AB or IP.... with that said, I have 5 solid ML players and wondering if it makes sense to pull Bungy up as a $1 keeper and start his clock, stash him on the DL, and have the ability to draft Buxton or Correa? Or is better to stay as is with Bundy on the ML roster and let the opp at Buxton go?
Matt Eddy: If you’re playing standard 5×5 Roto and you have access to Buxton, you have to do what you can to draft him. He’s a potential four-category stud and might eventually give you 20 HR at his peak.

Doc (Chicago): If focusing on Quality Starts, K9 and ERA, you prefer Giolito or Gray long term?
Matt Eddy: If you have a chance to win your league this year or next, I think you have to take Gray. A lot of factors in his favor: success versus MLB hitters, a great home park, and the absolutely perfect organization to maximize value form a short RH starter. Think Tim Hudson, Rich Harden and rotation-mate Jarrod Parker. Not only will Giolito start the year in A-ball, but even next year he won’t be ready to assume anything like 180 innings (and most of those figure to be in the minors).

Brian (Ohio): If Eddie Butler does not make it to Denver this year, but has a repeat performance in the minors, could he be a top 10 guy in '15?
Matt Eddy: Absolutely. His pitches are just electric, and another healthy, dominating year would help assuage fear that he’s not a 6-foot-4 horse. But neither are many top MLB starters.

Mark (Ohio): In the last 25 years there have been a lot of Cubs misses on the BA top 100. Is this class different?
Matt Eddy: I would look much more favorably on this group of Cubs prospects based on the precedent that Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod established with the Red Sox system, turning them into a player-development machine. With Chicago, that group has had access to much higher draft picks than they did in Boston. Expect good things.

Cal Guy (Cal): In five years, who is a major league shortstop from the group of Baez, Bogaerts, Correa, and Russell?
Matt Eddy: Research conducted by J.J. Cooper suggests that nearly three-quarters of elite minor league shortstops who face questions about their ultimate position eventually shift to another spot. A pessimist would conclude, then, that Russell would be the last shortstop standing. I’ll double that and say Correa also sticks at the position.

Cy Young (Hardball Heaven): re Garin Cecchini: when Wade Boggs was in AA wouldn't his scouting report have been about the same as Cecchini's?
Matt Eddy: Like Ben, I liked Cecchini a bit more than the BA consensus. I like the plate approach and track record for hitting. A lack of corner-profile power or surplus defensive value might limit his ceiling short of stardom, but I think he’ll have a fine big league career.

Matt Eddy: Awesome questions, guys. Thanks for your interest in the Top 100 Prospects.

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