Ben Badler: Well I got here early and I didn't feel like driving a few laps around the block, so why not just get started right now?
Erik (NY, NY): Maikel Franco seems to be heating up with the weather.....do you seem him re-establishing his prospect status the rest of this year and becoming a top 25 guy again? Is there a specific issue in his swing, or just a rough start?
Ben Badler: I do think Franco will rebound. He runs into the same problem that a lot of young hitters with good hand-eye coordination and a free-swinging approach run into once they get to the upper levels. They're talented enough to make contact with borderline pitches or even chasing out of the zone, which they can get away with in A-ball, but starts to become more problematic in Triple-A and against major league pitching. Franco has to make those adjustments to stop chasing pitchers' pitches and allow his bat control and power to play. I think he can. On the other hand, a guy like Mike Moustakas is still trying to figure out the same issues.
Charles C (Calumet, OK): Will the dodgers call up pederson and seager anytime soon?
Ben Badler: Pederson, yes, probably after the trade deadline if the Dodgers can move one of their big league outfielders. He's probably their best option right now. Seager's not coming up until the second half of next season at the earliest, and 2016 may be more realistic.
Hot Dog AD (IBC cards): Would you agree that Luis severino is the best Yankees pitching prospect of the last decade?
Ben Badler: No. At the time they were prospects, Joba and Hughes were ahead of where Severino is now.
Dan (Wilmington, NC): Is it just a matter of health before Soler is regarded (nearly?) as highly as Baez and Bryant? Small sample size for sure, but the guy seems to be able to wake up from a long slumber and mash.
Ben Badler: If Soler's healthy, he's a monster. Good swing, recognizes pitches, OBP skills and plus power with the tools for right field. The health issues are worrisome, but there's star potential here.
Luca (Italy): Hi Ben, what's your take on Ronald Guzman's disappointing second season in A? The praises on his bat were higher than Mazara's but results seem not so good so far, especially repeating the level
Ben Badler: Very disappointing season. The offensive demands of first base are huge, and the scouts who had questions about his bat speed and lack of quick-twitch may be right. He's always had good bat-to-ball skills, but he's even backed up in that area this year. Mazara has holes in his game too, but he's leapfrogged Guzman this year.
Doug (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada): With Sanchez moving to the pen and possibly being in Toronto's pen soon . What are the chances that Daniel Norris will be in Toronto before the end of the year?
Ben Badler: I don't think he's ready, although I'm going to see him again this weekend. Then again, I don't think Sanchez is ready to get big league hitters out either.
Karen (Budapest): Hi Ben, Do you think any of the hitters in the recent 2014 MLB draft will crack the top 20 of BA's 2015 Top 100 Prospects List? Karen
Ben Badler: Kris Bryant and Jonathan Gray were the only 2013 draft picks in the top 20 of our 2014 list. Aiken, Rodon and Kolek are in the mix, but I don't think any of them are locks to be there, especially until we learn more about Aiken's medicals.
Brian (MD): You are a GM of an expansion team and can only draft one of Urias, Harvey, Stewart, and Glasnow.....who would you go with and why?? Thanks
Ben Badler: Urias. It's not so much the DOB I care about, but the easy delivery, clean arm action, plus stuff or better across the board with outstanding command and pitchability for his experience level.
John (Chicago): Ben! I'm so glad you're the one fielding questions because we might get some DSL insights. Do you have any thoughts on catcher Ali Sanchez, a July 2 signing from last year who has put up great numbers so far?
Ben Badler: He was one of the best catchers on the international market last year and just made the DSL all-star team. It's an extremely short, inside-out swing that helps him make a lot of contact with mostly gap power, although he's shown some surprising sock at times this year. Very good catch-and-throw skills too with a strong, accurate arm and a quick release, with ability to control the running game well beyond his years. Looking like one of the better international signings from last year.
lovegiantdaddy (sf): Do you think SF Giants prospect Kyle Crick is better served being a starting pitcher or reliever? Seems he needs 100 pitches just to make it through 5 innings.
Ben Badler: No need to move him to the bullpen yet, but I think it's unlikely he develops the command to be a successful major league starter.
Formerly the Smasher (Canada): Lugo or Barretto, who's on the carpet in Toronto in 4 years?
Ben Badler: Lugo isn't a lock to stay there, but he's the better bet to play shortstop, although Richard Urena is going to put pressure on him pretty soon. But Barreto's the best overall prospect of that group. That dude can rake.
Craig (Cedar Point): Rafael Devers is off to a quick start, how far will his bat take him?
Ben Badler: It's an all-star ceiling. Pure swing, handles offspeed stuff, gets on base, plus or better power potential. It's the total package at the plate. If he can stay at third base, wow.
Aaron Dorman (Riverboat): Danry Vasquez is not known for his power, what type of OF'er do you see him projecting as?
Ben Badler: The question on Vasquez since he was 16 has always been whether he would get strong enough to start hitting for power, and that still hasn't happened. If he can ever grow into average power, I could see something along the lines of David Murphy, otherwise he's better suited as a fourth outfielder.
Aaron Doorman (Riverboat): Luis Torrins, Andrew Romine or Jr Murphy?
Ben Badler: Torrens all day. If the receiving and blocking come along, and I expect they will, he's their catcher of the future.
Ben (Conway, AR): When do you think Rusney Castillo will sign and who are some teams that are in on him? Is he a top 100 caliber prospect?
Ben Badler: He has a showcase on July 26 at the University of Miami, which is the first time I can recall a high-profile Cuban player has done a big showcase on US soil, so there's going to be plenty of decision-makers in attendance. He's got his OFAC specific license and MLB declared him a free agent, so I don't think it will take long for him to sign. He would definitely be in the Top 100, although if he signs with a contender, he's going straight to the big leagues and might use up his prospect eligibility before we get a chance to rank him. I'd rather not comment on teams that are interested in him at this time, but I have talked to scouts who think he can be an average everyday center fielder in the major leagues, which I can buy.
Ryan (Brick, NJ): Why is Gary Sanchez so highly regarded? I know he's still young for his league, but he's never really had a monster season yet.
Ben Badler: Two power tools in his arm strength and raw power at a premium position, but I do think his value is overstated.
Brian (Greensboro): If you were Frank Wren and had to move 1 catcher in a package to get a front line starter, who would you trade? Gattis or Bethancourt?
Ben Badler: Teams tend to overrate catchers with 70 or better arm strength when the bat is light. I'm not as high on Bethancourt as others.
Warren (New London): Is it too soon to start referring to Ozhaino Albies as The Great and Powerful Oz?
Ben Badler: I could dig it, if power was the only tool he didn't have. But that's an exciting player with every other tool and a lot of polish for his age. He could rise quickly.
françois (montreal): Curious about Miguel Castro. What was the word about him as an IFA (didn't sign until 17)? What do you see as his ceiling?
Ben Badler: He was an extra-long, lanky kid with a projectable frame and a fastball he can get into the low-90s. It's the kind of build and arm speed you dream on, hope he gets stronger and adds more velocity, which is what happened, and that's spiked his prospect stock.
Neo (The Matrix): Ben, your publication seems higher on Jose Berrios than a few others. What do you think has contributed the most to his tremendous season so far this year?
Ben Badler: I was at his last start and saw two reasons why he's a better prospect than he was a year ago. Full writeup here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/twins-jose-berrios-shows-hes-improved-despite-rocky-double-debut/
Kepano (Aloha): With Mark Appel looking awful but having the cortisone shot in the wrist, should this season just be written off as a fluke and start a new book on him next year?
Ben Badler: I don't think we can write off any data on Appel from this season. His struggles this year are alarming, and the reports from scouts who have seen him haven't been kind. Health issues and the ballpark are mitigating factors, to a degree, but we can't brush it all away to that. It's premature to call Appel a total bust, and I don't think anyone is doing that yet, but there's no question his stock is way, way down from this time last year.
Andrew Brotherton (Atlanta, GA): What do you think of Aaron Judge? Is he what you expected? More/Less? I didn't expect the plate discipline.
Ben Badler: Much better than I expected. You don't see many long-armed hitters like him with his plate coverage and ability to square the ball up with the frequency he's shown, along with the leverage and strength to clear the fence like he can.
Aaron (Duncanville, TX): Which Rangers outfielder do you see has the greatest chance of reaching their potential, Nick Williams or Lewis Brinson?
Ben Badler: They're both high risk guys, but Williams is the better bet. He has lightning hand speed and loves the fastball, which is why he's always hit for average even with the high strikeout rates and problems against spinny stuff. I'll take that, the lefthanded bat and the athleticism that should help him make the necessary adjustments. I love Brinson's athleticism and raw tools, but there's a lot of holes in his swing he's going to have to address to hit more than Low-A pitching.
Jake ~ Levine (Gibson): How good can Victor Sanchez be? I keep seeing "Low Ceiling" but is that bad?
Ben Badler: There's nothing wrong with having your farm system produce a No. 4 starter. I don't see the stuff getting any better, but it's solid repertoire as it is now with good feel for pitching, so he should be able to be a back-end starter if he keeps progressing, sort of like a much wider version of Rafael Montero.
Ben (Connecticut): What Prospect makes the biggest jump in the rankings between now and the end of the season?
Ben Badler: Willy Adames pops to mind, especially if you saw our Tigers list on the BA Midseason Update.
Derrick (Chicago): I know the Cubs have quite the bats in Baez/Bryant/Soler etc any sleeper arms in the system to get excited about?
Ben Badler: We drill so deep sometimes that I think I lose my perspective on what qualifies as a sleeper, but Corey Black and Jen-Ho Tseng have looked good this year. I'd like to see better command out of Black to stay in the rotation, but he should help their big league club in some capacity next year. With Tseng I keep saying I want to see how he looks in August given his up-and-down history, but he has two plus pitches already with excellent command for his age.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Indians have kept Lindor in Akron although Cabrera's free agency means the major league SS job should be open in 2015. Think he'll skip over AAA? Any reason to hold him back?
Ben Badler: A stopgap option is probably in play, not just to hold Lindor's clock back for service time reasons, but he could legitimately use some Triple-A time next year.
Steven D-Esterhazey (Sacramento): Do you think Brady Aiken's small UCL is really a concern?
Ben Badler: My preference is to wait for more complete information from the Astros and medical experts before jumping to conclusions. More generally speaking, what I can say is that, the last time Jeff Luhnow heard from doctors that a top prospect he had an agreement with had something pop up in his physical that didn't prevent him from playing but presented a serious concern, he had good reason to listen to them. That was Wagner Mateo, who's $3.1 million deal with the Cardinals fell apart after the physical due to Mateo's vision. I can't pinpoint whether the vision issues were the causal reason for Mateo's struggles at the plate with the Diamondbacks, but they've already moved him to the mound, and it certainly looks like Luhnow was wise to listen to the recommendations of his doctors.
dan (NY): What is your take on Wuilmer Becerra's recent outburst ?
Ben Badler: The driving or the hitting? The broken jaw really hurt his development, because he's always been a guy with good tools but some rawness to his game. The approach needs work but the early signs are good.
Jag Traylor (Levine, NY): Sup Foo? Big fan. Question -- how did you get so immersed in the international market to become "THE" guy for July 2 stuff? Thanks =)
Ben Badler: Back in 2008, I came across the unusual story of how the Reds signed Juan Duran out of the Dominican Republic for $2 million when nobody (other than Bob Miller with the Reds) realized he was eligible to sign immediately thanks to a little-known rule. Later that year, Michael Ynoa signed with the A's for what was then a record international bonus. The more I dug into it, the more obsessed I became that there was this enormous talent pool on the international side with some fascinating and certainly unseemly aspects to it that nobody else was covering. It's a market you have to be be truly committed to covering and be passionate about, and I think that's what's fueled our incredible growth, not just for July 2 coverage but for markets like Japan and Cuba as well. I'm really excited about what we have coming up on Cuba.
Joe (KS): Does Mondesi's poor start to 2014 hurt his overall offensive ceiling? Or can it be dismissed to some extent because of age/level?
Ben Badler: There are contact frequency issues, but mostly I think it's the level he's at given his age, which in his case is 100 percent legit. The problem, if you can call it that, is he kept having success no matter how fast the Royals pushed him, so a bump like this was probably inevitable. Put him in the league again next year and he should make the adjustments and still be one of the youngest players in High-A.
Eric (New York): Best SS prospect in 2016 is?
Ben Badler: J.P. Crawford, if he's still in the minors.
Gabby Guerrero (High Desert, CA): Do I get exposed badly in AA?
Ben Badler: I wouldn't say exposed, but the swing and the chase approach probably make for a one level at a time schedule, with some adjustment periods that may be needed at each jump.
big daddy from Cincinnati (Cincy): If Urias was in this years draft where do you see him ranking Amonst the prospects
Ben Badler: Medicals aside, the only player I would have considered taking over Urias is Aiken.
Pat "the G" (Hating, Gudim): So who is the next big Asian sensation pitcher to follow in the lines of Darvish and Tanaka or will it be awhile?
Ben Badler: Kenta Maeda should come over this year, but he's not in their class. The next potential frontline starters are Shohei Otani and Shintaro Fujinami, but they're both several years away from being able to make the jump.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions, even the ones I didn't get a chance to answer, which helps me figure out which players you guys want to know more about when I'm making calls to scouts. If you haven't picked up your copy of the Midseason Prospect Update, I highly recommend checking it out, and if you have, leave us a review to let us know what you thought. Should be a fun weekend of prospect action here in New England, so we'll have some good stuff on the site next week. Enjoy the rest of your day.