Ben Badler: Fun time of year in Baseball America land with our league top 20 lists just about ready to roll out. Taking a break from some scout calls now though, so let’s chat.
Ben (DC): Juan Soto - Future top prospect?
Ben Badler: He's already highly regarded in the scouting community and might break into the Top 100 this year. I'm writing up our Gulf Coast League prospects list this year, so I've talked to a lot of people about Juan Soto, and I haven't heard a bad word yet about him as a hitter.
Roger (Greenville, SC): When do the league top 20s begin?
Ben Badler: Friday. Then a new one every day next week.
James Meredith (Springfield, MO): Twins fan here: What do you see the Twins organization doing this offseason? Does Molitor stay...and who replaces Terry Ryan? And please say they aren't really thinking of trading Dozier, the only bright spot on this horrific season. Thanks!
Ben Badler: The names that have come out of the people they're requesting interviews with is an encouraging sign (although there are a lot of others I’d be interviewing whose names never come up for GM openings or future GM lists, but that’s another story). Whenever a new GM/president (or whatever the title is of the chief baseball operations decision maker these days) comes in, the manager's often gone within the next year. I imagine it will be the same for Molitor.
TJ (Israel): If James Kaprilian shows his improved velo and advanced change is still intact in the afl is that enough to include him in the top 100?
Ben Badler: Not for me, no.
Ryan (Orange County): Renfroe called up. Is a .260/.330/.500 line with 30 HR a realistic ceiling for Renfroe?
Ben Badler: The raw power is there for 25-30 home runs, but if he hits .260, you're probably looking at closer to a .300-.310 OBP. That's not ideal for a corner outfielder.
John (Portland): Who do you prefer as a rotation piece next year between J. Cotton and J. De Leon?
Ben Badler: Jose De Leon.
Oliver (Boston): Has Alvaro Seijas met expectations as far as stuff? The statistical record seems ho-hum, although his promotion state-side suggests the Cards saw smething encouraging.
Ben Badler: He was one of the best pitching prospects in the complex leagues this year. Fastball up slightly, the curveball is an out pitch and the changeup made progress this year too, so you have a 17-year-old with a chance for three average to plus pitches with good athleticism and strike-throwing ability. He’s a good one.
Craig (Chi Town): Best Prospect in 2021?
Ben Badler: Uh, ask me in five years.
Nick (Connecticut): Mookie or Trout for MVP?
Ben Badler: Mike Trout, by a comfortable margin.
Roger (Greenville, SC): Will there be any coverage from instructs? Would love to hear how some of the recent IFAs coming stateside for the first time look.
Ben Badler: A little bit, but it's not a priority. From an evaluation standpoint, I don't think there's too much value to gain from watching instructional league. It serves a purpose on the development side, and for the international signings coming over to the US for the first time, it help gets them acclimated to a new environment and accustomed to the routine and what's expected of them as professionals, but it's not a great arena to scout players. For the 16-year-old July 2 signings coming over, the majority of them just get overmatched at instructs.
Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): You pointed to Estevan Florial and Jesus Sanchez as two intriguing J2 guys this past winter. With the two of them both getting some time stateside this year, how would you compare them at this point and which do you prefer?
Ben Badler: Sanchez. They're both athletic, tooled-up outfielders, but I have more confidence in Sanchez's hitting ability.
Dennis (DC): Anthony Santander or Austin Slater going to be close to the top 100 this year?
Ben Badler: That would surprise me, though I think Slater is a very under-appreciated player.
Bobby (Newport): Michael Gettys looks greatly improved by the numbers, what does the scouting say? Thanks for all the great work!
Ben Badler: The speed, the arm and the defense are all 60s to 70s on the 20-80 scale. He did make some mechanical adjustments, but the swing-and-miss and pitch recognition are still concerns, although his stock is definitely up from last year.
Brad (VA): Which hitting prospect do you see making a big jump in the prospect rankings next year?
Ben Badler: Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays. I'm expecting a breakout year.
Kevin (Indianapolis): The Detroit Tigers feel like a Ponzi scheme that is about to collapse with their bloated payroll, weak farm system and aging stars. Whose to blame for the weak farm system and is there hope with Avila in charge?
Ben Badler: The Tigers won the American League Central four straight seasons from 2011-2014 and had the best record in baseball during that period. They’re a game and a half back of the wild card. I’m not saying the farm system is good, but building a perennial contender over half a decade seems pretty good to me.
Nick (Chitown): Do you think Jose Miguel Fernandez signs in the offseason? What's the hold up been?
Ben Badler: Fernandez should sign this winter. There were a lack of contending teams with a need for an MLB second baseman this year (I know teams that like him quite a bit, but they already have a good second baseman), plus other teams have concerns about his defense and lack of power. He could end up being a good bargain for somebody.
Weber (Missouri): What can we expect from Jose Adolis Garcia once he is cleared and signed? Seems toolsy!
Ben Badler: He is toolsy. Great athlete, 60 run, 70 arm, but his swing, pitch recognition and plate discipline all scare me. He's a player you'd want to have in your farm system, but there are some major red flags too. He wouldn't be a Top 100 prospect.
Jim (San Diego): Luis Urias looks legit... age, performance and the scouting reports that back it up. I respect your opinion and I haven't heard your thoughts on Urias. Please let me know what you think his ceiling is?
Ben Badler: I’m a believer in that bat. Simple stroke, squares up all types of pitches, chance to be a .300 hitter who controls the strike zone and won’t give you much in terms of power, but the on-base skills and fielding ability at that position is an everyday guy.
Tom (Philly): Potential of Juan Soto? Eloy Jimenez Potential?
Ben Badler: Soto’s a better hitter already than Eloy was at the same age. That doesn’t mean that in two years he’s necessarily going to be the same level prospect that Eloy is now, but you can’t ask for too much more from a 17-year-old hitter between his swing, approach and emerging power.
Greg O. (West Long Branch, NJ): Asked this question last year and interested to see how the outlook may have changed... better long-term left-handed pitching prospect in Braves organization? Kolby Allard or Max Fried?
Ben Badler: Allard. The medical/durability risk with Fried worries me, plus Allard is significantly younger and already has better command.
Jason (Chicago): Is Carlos rodon enough to get us Gary Sanchez in a one for one? Would we be over paying or would NY be? The more I think about it the less sure I am.
Ben Badler: No, and I’m fairly certain the Yankees aren’t looking to trade Gary Sanchez right now.
Ed (Texas): Thoughts on Anderson Espinoza? Worried about him after this past season?
Ben Badler: Most of what he showed this year was exciting. We’re talking about an 18-year-old, so most of his peers are either in the DSL or a complex league like the AZL or GCL, throwing regularly in the mid-90s with a plus changeup and flashing a plus curveball with an easy delivery and the ability to pound the zone when he takes that approach. The curve wasn’t as consistent as it needs to be and there were some other approach-related things he can straighten out going forward, but he’s one of the best pitching prospects in the game.
Abe (St Lucie): Hey Ben, I'm sure that you get a ton of Amed Rosario questions, so sorry in advance-- was there any minor leaguer in 2016 to boost their stock as much as this guy? Seriously, what does the future look like for Amed- from what I've seen, he looks really exciting. Thanks!
Ben Badler: No need to apologize for wanting to talk about Amed Rosario; he’s a fun player to talk about. Potential plus bat and plus glove at a premium position, and there’s untapped power potential in there once he learns which pitches he can turn on and look to drive instead of shooting the other way. He’ll be way up our Top 100 list this offseason.
Todd (NYC): Christian Arroyo has had to play in one of the worst hitter parks all year, and his away stats show how much better he's been than his #'s indicate. Does his hit tool still project to be about a 60-65? What kind of power could he grow into? He hasn't shown much thus far. Thanks!
Ben Badler: I still think he can be a .280-.300 hitter with 8-12 HRs per year.
Formerly the Smasher (North of South): If Vladdy Guerro Jr. had been eligible for this summers draft how high would he have went?
Ben Badler: With the advantage of hindsight and getting to see how he looked against pro competition in the Appy League, on talent alone, I like him more than some of the players who went in the top 10 picks.
DTH (SF): Nick Senzel, future All-Star? Do you think he sticks at 3rd? And is a September 2017 call-up within reason?
Ben Badler: Yes. Yes. And on pure talent, I think Senzel can rise quickly through the minors and follow the Schwarber/Conforto/Benintendi/Bregman/Swanson path of going from elite college hitter to the major leagues the next year, but I suspect the Reds will be more conservative with bringing him up next year.
Larry (Ft. Worth): Anderson Tejeda has been swinging the bat great so far. Is he a SS for the Rangers long term?
Ben Badler: I think more than likely he ends up at another spot in the infield.
Connor (Wallingford, CT): Byron Buxton is slashing .297/.348/.672 w/ 6 HR in 18 games since being recalled to the majors. Just a hot streak, or has he finally put it together?
Ben Badler: It’s the light bulb going on. He’s changed the way he uses his lower half in his swing, which has helped the raw power turn into game power, and while I don’t think he’s going to be slugging .600+ going forward, this is him starting to figure it out. It’s amazing how many people were rushing to call this guy a bust a few months ago.
Phil (Missouri): What are your thoughts on Max Schrock? Legit prospect? What's his ceiling?
Ben Badler: Very legit. I loved that trade for the A’s. He can hit, he has the attributes that should allow him to continue hitting at higher levels between his swing and approach. I’m not saying he’s a star, but he can be an everyday second baseman down the line.
Kevin (Austin, Texas): In your opinion, who's a better player going forward - Dahl or Benintendi?
Ben Badler: Benintendi.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. I most likely won’t be chatting next Wednesday because we’ve got tons of scouting reports coming out over the next couple of weeks starting on Friday for BA subscribers, with league top 20 lists being posted every day and chats every day to go with them. Hope you guys enjoy that, and enjoy the rest of the day.