Ben Badler: Per a source familiar with the situation, the chat queue is already loaded with questions. Let’s get started.
JG (Sacramento): If I recall correctly, you previously said you thought teams should be more aggressive in scouting the complex leagues. Do you think the success of Francis Martes and David Paulino for Houston makes it more likely teams will do this?
Ben Badler: I did, and teams are now trying to cover these leagues more aggressively. I know more scouts than ever who have complex leagues coverage, and the scouts who have done it for multiple years say they see more scouts around the back fields these days. If you do it right, even going down to the DSL players like the Brewers did with Marcos Diplan, you can score big, and GMs usually aren’t going to hold up a deal over a guy who hasn’t made it to full-season ball yet.
Nick (Right Field): Do you think Devers will develop enough power to profile at 3B or another corner spot? And how have you liked his progression this season?
Ben Badler: He already does. It's plus power right now, he's just an 18-year-old going against older, more experienced pitching, so he's still learning to fully tap into it. With how big he's going to be, we could be talking about him growing into 70 power once he fills out.
Brandon Murphy (Morristown, TN): Which Braves prospect is more likely to be a long-term option, Jose Peraza or Ozhaino Albies?
Ben Badler: They're pretty similar. Peraza is the safer pick, but Albies' bat and ability to control the strike zone are ahead of where Peraza was at the same stage.
Jeff (Boston): Heard BA had eyes on Espinoza the other day. How impressive did he look? As a 17 year old pitcher, how good is Espinoza relative to other 17 year old pitchers that have come through the ranks through the years?
Ben Badler: Josh Norris just saw him in person yesterday and posted a story on him on our site today with video. Safe to say I’m happy to have Josh all aboard the Anderson Espinoza bandwagon. He’s one of the most talented 17-year-old pitching prospects who’s come around. The combination of stuff, feel for pitching and loose, easy delivery is incredible for his age.
Byron Buxton (Trainers Room): Is it safe to say I'm injury prone? Been told I'll be out for another month.
Ben Badler: Tremendous player when he's on the field, but the medical track record he's built does bring real questions about his durability.
Jonathan (NYC): Hey Ben, I know most prospect lists had Thor maxing out as #2, but now seeing what Thor is doing in the majors, do you think he has an ace-ceiling? And if so where was his improvements from the minors? Thanks!
Ben Badler: I had him the top pitching prospect coming into the season and thought at the time he could be an ace, which is a label I only throw on a small, elite group of minor league pitchers. It’s overpowering stuff that he commands and holds deep into the game.
Michael (Dallas): Hey Ben, Thanks as always for the chat. Can you give some under the radar Catching prospects who you think can make it to the bigs and stick at C. Thanks
Ben Badler: These are always tricky questions because I’m never sure how far under the radar to go. I’ll go way deep under where most people are looking and say Carlos Perez with the White Sox. He’s the younger of Angels catcher Carlos Perez (his oldest brother is also a former Cubs catcher named Carlos Perez), but the White Sox have the most advanced brother at his age (18). Nice swing, good approach, uses the whole field, projects to stick behind the plate and has a chance to hit for more power than his big league brother.
GPT (San Jose, CA): Any progress on Eddy Julio Martinez signing? Who is the favorite to land Vladimir Gutierrez? Thanks!
Ben Badler: Don't sense that Martinez is a priority guy for teams, which is why he's a free agent and remains unsigned. There's at least eight Cuban players out there right now who grade out ahead of him. We'll see about Gutierrez once he has his first open showcase and there's more tangible evidence to report, but there’s a lot of justifiable interest in him from scouts.
Joseph Jenkins (New Jersey): Seems Pete O'Brien has slowed down allot since his hot start to the season. What are your thoughts on him?
Ben Badler: Huge power, poor approach and couldn't catch, so his big league value is iffy. Best-case scenario you get some 2011-13 Mark Trumbo-type seasons out of him where the power is enough to carry the bad OBPs and be a serviceable player.
Steve (Wilmington): How would you rank the Rangers OF prospects Mazara, NIck Williams and Lewis Brinson? How close are they to each other?
Ben Badler: I like that order for now, with Mazara/Williams a clear ways ahead of Brinson, but I could see flipping Williams ahead of Mazara by the end of the season. They’re both going to give you at least plus power, with Mazara having the higher OBP ceiling, but Williams bringing more athleticism, speed and defensive potential to the table, although the polish in the field still needs time. I’m very much a believer in the offensive strides Williams has made with his approach this year.
Norman (San Jose): Has Bubba Starling made the adjustments to make him a legit prospect again? at least in the top 100?
Ben Badler: Legitimate chance to see him in the majors, which is more than I would have thought last year (other than the Royals forcing him up to say they got him there), but he’s not in the Top 100 discussion.
Chris (Raleigh, NC): Do you have a gut feeling on where Hamels will go and what the Phillies can expect to get back?
Ben Badler: The teams in on him—the Dodgers, Astros, Rangers, Red Sox, etc.—all have strong farm systems with elite prospects and excellent depth. The Phillies have an ace locked in for multiple years on a reasonable contract relative to what he would get on the open market. Wherever he goes, the Phillies should be able to get a huge prospect haul for him.
Scott Solomon (Henderson, NV): Which player has more upside? Wilkerman Garcia or Jorge Mateo? If you had to guess which player would be more likely to be the future shortstop of the New York Yankees?
Ben Badler: That's going to be a close call come Prospect Handbook time. The only problem is Wilkerman hasn't stayed healthy during the regular season, but the scouts I've talked to who followed him during extended spring training and the GCL season say his tools are better than they were when he signed. Mateo is a true 80 runner, but Wilkerman's running plus now with a plus arm and he's always had a smooth bat and an advanced approach from both sides. Mateo's further along and the better athlete, but Garcia has the higher pure offensive upside. I'm big on both.
Alex (Ct): What is the latest feeling o. Dilso. Herrera? Is he still the answer for the Mets at 2nd next he? Whatprojection do you have on him?
Ben Badler: Still very optimistic about his future. He’s had a couple of very brief stints in the major leagues that have shown flashes of his potential but overall weren’t good enough, but he’s a 21-year-old pure hitter with good balance and a quick stroke who’s dominated at every level, including this year in Triple-A. If you give him consistent playing time, he can develop into an above-average regular.
PHIL (SAN DIEGO): Will Hector Olivera play in 2015? What type of player do you see him in 2015 & 2016?
Ben Badler: Hamstring injury has him on the sidelines. If he's healthy, he should be on their major league team. It’s a shame how long this guy had to wait to play. We'd be talking about him as a ROY candidate if he had been ready to go by Opening Day. I’ve seen him in person and all the reports on him have been strong.
Kris (Seattle): As someone who covers July 2 signings, what are the different strategies implemented by clubs and what, in your opinion, is the best strategy?
Ben Badler: The strategy every team has to take changes every year, because the market for players and the competition among teams (we’re already looking at 10+ teams being prohibited from signing players for $300K+ next year) is different each year. In general, spending your biggest dollars on position players, focusing on players who can hit and play in the middle of the diamond, and getting your pitching in the lower-end of the pool unless there’s an Anderson Espinoza, Felix Hernandez (or to be fair, what we thought Michael Ynoa would be) type of talent available. Oh, and to make sure you work for an owner that is actually willing to invest in international amateur talent.
Nick (Right Field): Do you think Hi-A might have been a little to big of a jump for Marcos Molina. How do you project him going forward?
Ben Badler: The competition level was fine, he just got hurt. When he was healthy, he had frontline starter potential.
Eric (H Town): Why is D.J. Peterson struggling so much this year? His numbers are down across the board and it seems like a lost season. Do you expect a bounce back next year?
Ben Badler: Sounds like the power has just disappeared. I was a little lower on him than most coming into the year, but I definitely didn’t see this coming. It’s alarming.
Nate (New York): Do you think it's interesting that the Phillies keep coming back to the Yankees asking for either luis severing, or Aaron judge when you all these other teams with elite prospects vying for hamels.
Ben Badler: They’re the two best prospects in the organization and they both ranked in the top 20 of our Midseason Top 50. Those are the centerpiece players they should be asking about.
Nick (Right Field): What is your opinion on Nelson Gomez? Do you think he can stick at 3B and what is his offenisve potential?
Ben Badler: TBD on the defense, but the power has improved since he's signed and he's a better hitter than a lot of scouts (other than the Yankees) gave him credit for as an amateur. He’ll swing-and-miss some but he usually puts together good at-bats and has the power as a carrying tool.
Eric (CT): I've read that the Braves are going to spend big next year and I've also read that many 2016 July 2nd kids already have handshake agreements. Would that possibly mean the Braves are that team that has those agreements in place?
Ben Badler: I have written that the Braves are going to spend big on the international market next year, probably on par with what the Yankees did when they blew out their pool in 2014. I'm certain they are being aggressive with scouting the 2016 class and the market is moving quickly. But in general, I certainly would not feel comfortable publicly outing a 15-year-old (or even 14-year-old) kid who might have an early agreement since it could put the deal in jeopardy, as it's technically against MLB rules. I don't think that's right to do to a kid.
Mike (Chicago): What kind of upside does Tyler Glasnow really have? If the changeup develops, are we looking at a Gerrit Cole-esque ceiling?
Ben Badler: The main thing I wanted to see him to this season was improve his command, which he’s done, and he’s done it a lot faster than most guys who are 6-7+ are able to figure it out mechanically with all their long levers to control. The arsenal is different than Cole, so I don’t see them as similar pitchers, but it’s No. 1 upside, and if not that, it’s a comfortable No. 2 projection if he stays healthy.
nb (philly): Hey Ben - Give a Phillie fan reason for hope...Besides Crawford, a handful of other guys are having solid seasons at Reading. Do you see any of them as potential MLB regulars? Thanks!
Ben Badler: Roman Quinn is. Little man with ludicrous speed, the switch-hitting is finally coming around and he packs a lot of strength into that frame. He might still need a full season or close to it at Triple-A, especially with the time he’s missed, but he’s their center fielder of the future, although I do love Carlos Tocci too. A nice “problem” to have on their hands.
Rodger (COL): Whats the STORY w/ Trevor Story? Think he's the guy in COL now and we get rid of Reyes? I know we just drafted a SS but Story has been killing it. What's your honest opinion of him and his future here?
Ben Badler: I think they’re counting on Story as their shortstop of the near-future. I obviously respect what he’s done this year in terms of performance, but I have more reservations about his balance, pitch recognition and plate coverage getting exposed once he gets to the MLB level.
Eric S (Long Beach, CA): How did AJ Reed not make your Top 50 Midseason? He's on the verge of being named player of the month 3 months in a row. Has that ever happened before? Also...any thoughts on Matt Chapman. He seems to be finally putting it together. Thanks Eric
Ben Badler: Just because a player isn't in the top 50 doesn't mean we don't like him, but he's moving into that territory for me, although I'm probably one of the high guys on Reed. Monster OBP/power combo at first base.
Mike Maccarone (Philly): Any way the Red Sox trade Anderson Espinoza?
Ben Badler: Realistically, he’s probably not going anywhere, because the Red Sox should be sellers right now. I’m as big of an Espinoza fan as there is outside the Espinoza family, but if you’re going to get a premium talent back like Cole Hamels, I don’t see him being untouchable.
Sandy (Queens): What can you tell me about Luis Carpio?
Ben Badler: A personal favorite of mine we put into our Top 30 for July 2 a couple years ago. Very young kid for his signing class who’s hit better than I would have expected given his aggressive assignment this year to the Appy League. Nice, level line drive stroke, good pitch recognition, understands the strike zone and will always be more about OBP over power with a chance to stay at shortstop. Scrappy, gamer type too that managers will love. Stock is definitely up this year.
Matt (Virginia beach, VA): Happ or Phillips?
Ben Badler: Brett Phillips. Gives you more on both sides of the ball. But I”m a big believer in Ian Happ too.
Rich (NJ): Can you please provide your thoughts on Renato Nunez. He is back from injury and performing well. Thanks,
Ben Badler: Love the power, not crazy about the approach but the bat is solid enough for the power to play. The defense scares me though, always has, and it could push him off third base for good at this rate. That worries me.
Michael (Toronto): Hi Ben, Do you think Lourdes Gourriel Jr. will be signed by an MLB team next year and play in the US, and if not, any approximate guess when this may happen? Also, where would he rank in the Top 100 prospect list of eligible. Thanks for taking my question.
Ben Badler: Whether I think a player will leave Cuba isn't something I should comment on, but Gourriel is definitely one of the best players left in Cuba and was just the MVP of the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. He would be a for-sure top 50 prospect, and probably pretty high within that range.
Tony Prettyman (Louisburg, KS): Has anyone seen or heard from Jose Fernandez 2B in Cuba? Is he a free man in Cuba? Is he playing baseball anywhere?
Ben Badler: Still suspended in Cuba for reportedly attempting to defect, which means no Serie Nacional, no national team, no baseball for him. It’s a shame to have such a talented player in the prime of his career having now gone nearly 10 months and counting without playing baseball, and if he does ever get out of there, it’s just going to be an even longer wait for him to get signed.
Vin (AL): Do you think V. Robles will land on the top 100 list at end of season?
Ben Badler: He will be on mine. We will probably have Daz Cameron, who we ranked the No. 5 prospect in the draft where he got $4 million, in the Top 100. Tool for tool, Robles grades out equally or better across the board, his game awareness in all facets is strong, and his game performance has been tremendous. There’s risk because he’s still so many levels away from the big leagues, but all the indicators of a potential star are here.
Don (ATL): I would love to hear your thoughts on Touki Toussaint. To me, he feels like a future Ace. He might be a couple years out, but even with that, given his ceiling...doesn't he deserve more rankings love? Could he make a Glasnow-like leap into next years top 100/50?
Ben Badler: I like Toussaint and it was a no-brainer for the Braves to make that trade, but I’m stingy with the ace label and Toussaint isn’t a pitcher I’d throw that on. If anything, I liked Toussaint more coming out of the draft than I do now, with his command and pitchability still raw. The stuff is there for him to be missing a lot more bats than he does right now, but the development has stagnated this season.
Drew Creasman (Boulder, CO): Are you on team Tapia?
Ben Badler: Sure, I like him for what he is. Unorthodox style but a talented hitter with good plate coverage who uses the field. Wish he would walk more to amplify the OBP but the bat should be able to carry him.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions, always enjoy the chats. Talk to you guys soon.