Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With Ben Badler

Ben Badler: Good afternoon everybody, and thanks to everyone for the kind words on our recent international stories. If you liked those, stay tuned, we’ll have more next week on all the new rules and the ways I think teams are going to get around them. Never a dull day in baseball world.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): How do you measure Billy Hamilton's hit tool? Has his huge start been a combination of luck, speed, and league or has he really made this significant a stride in his
    development because of his unreal athleticism? What grade would you give his current/future hit tool?

Ben Badler: I know it’s the Cal League, but I’m blown away by what Hamilton’s been able to do so far. I was definitely as skeptic of the bat, but he has made real strides with his swing and his approach. As a pure hitter, I don’t think he’s going to be much more than average, but when you have a guy who’s so fast that he’s beating out ground balls to the right side of the infield, that dramatically changes the equation because he’s going to get on base more because of those infield hits and because he’s going to force infield errors. Yeah,
the numbers are going to come back to earth, but I think he’s showing that he can become a solid OBP guy who can wreak havoc with ludicrous speed. He’s one of the most fascinating prospects I’ve ever covered.

    Nick (FLA): What is the potential for Xander Bogaerts in terms of hit tool?

Ben Badler: 60 hit tool potential, probably 65+ power potential, which is a potential all-star at third base.

    The duke (Manchy): Bryce Harper is here to stay, right?

Ben Badler: I think so. I would temper expectations for
his production this year, but he’s probably the best option they have right now, so it makes sense to keep him up.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Would you consider Castellanos ready for Erie, or is this merely a too-small sample size?

Ben Badler: No need to rush him to Double-A. Could he handle it? Yeah, probably, but with very few exceptions would I promote a
guy to a new minor league level after only one month of the season. If he’s still destroying everything in sight by midseason, sure, move him up once he’s shown mastery of a level, but doing so now is probably premature.

    Adam (Ann Arbor, MI): Do you think Jarrod Parker's success is sustainable in the short-term? Also, have his first two starts changed your long-term view on him at all?

Ben Badler: He’s showing that he’s a different pitcher than he was before Tommy John surgery. When I saw him the year before he
went down, he looked like a future ace. He seems like he’s going more to the two-seamer now to get ground balls and the stuff isn’t quite as crisp as it was before TJ. I don’t see an ace, but I do like him quite a
bit as a No. 2 or 3 starter.

    Studer (St. Joseph, mo): What in the world is going on with two immense talents: Martin Perez and Mike Montgomery. Neither is showing consistently or anything remotely close to domination
    as expected earlier in their careers.
    Thanks

Ben Badler: Two guys who are confusing the heck out of scouts. They both need to figure out their command, and if I had to bet on one to do it, I’d bet on Perez because of his delivery.

    100 hard 8 (7 out): Taillon really improved from last year, are we now certain he's a front line starter?

Ben Badler: There’s never certainty, but there’s only a handful of guys in minors I’d throw a potential ace label on, and he’s one of them.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Francisco Lindor must have come close again? One of youngest players in Midwest League even hit his 2nd homer and brought his steal total up to 9. And he's known for his glove! Pretty exciting prospect for the Indians, although unfortunately still years away, I suppose.

Ben Badler: He’s been tremendous. When you have a plus defender at shortstop with the potential for a true plus hit tool, that’s special.

    John (New York City, NY): Why is it taking so long for Jorge Soler to be declared a free agent when Cespedes was declared months ago? Didn't they arrive in the U.S at the same time?

Ben Badler: My understanding is Soler left Cuba a little after Cespedes. The process typically takes about a year for these guys to clear, though how Cespedes and Concepcion got their paperwork cleared so fast is not a question I can really answer, other than that everyone who’s involved in that market says there’s quite a bit of politics involved. Whether Soler can get cleared and signed before July 2 is going to be one of the big stories in baseball over the
next two months.

    Eric K (Chicago): I see Wil Myers has been playing quite a bit centerfield lately. Is his range good enough to see time there in KC?

Ben Badler: I can’t see him playing there in anything but a pinch. Much better fit in RF.

    Steve (ST Louis): We've been waiting a long time for a quality bat at second base. Is our wait finally over in 2013 with Kolten Wong?!

Ben Badler: I think that’s a fair ETA, and I think it’s
fair to be very excited about Wong. Love his swing and there’s more ceiling there than he’s given credit for.

    Marco (San Diego): Rymer Liriano's stumbled a bit out of the gate. Do you see him as a starter, 20/20 type, when all is said and done?

Ben Badler: He’s been confusing me for five years. The tools are not in question, but he’s probably going to have to spend some
time adjusting to each level because the application of the tools to games is extremely inconsistent. His tools are tremendous, but the pitch
recognition and the contact rate need to continue to improve.

    Jason (Dearborn, MI): Ben - Seems like Castellanos has a pretty impressive hit tool, but what kind of power potential do you think he can grow into?

Ben Badler: I think there’s 20-25 home run potential in
there, just looking at his size, bat speed and the loft in his swing. I
don’t think he’ll start hitting that many home runs in the next year or
two, but by the time he’s in 23-24 or so, he’s going to start putting plenty of balls over the fence.

    Joe (Phila. Pa.): I was wondering how good you think the Phillies pitching top prospect Trevor May will be?

Ben Badler: He has the repertoire of a No. 2 starter, just depends on how much he can sharpen his command.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): Has Jackie Bradley passed teammate Brandon Jacobs in prospect status?

Ben Badler: For me he has.

    Dave (DC): Are scouts down on Julio Teheran? After dominating AAA last year, and then missing out on a spot in the big league rotation with a bad spring, he seems to have regressed in his
    first few starts at AAA this year.

Ben Badler: There is some concern. Is he still a very good prospect? Sure, I like the fastball and the changeup, but the breaking ball gives him issues and I have heard some concerns that he hasn’t improved all that much over the last year or so. Still a fine arm, but yes, I think it’s fair to wonder whether he’s truly going to be
a frontline starter.

    Ben (Columbus, OH): Are you going to go see The Avengers this weekend?

Ben Badler: Man, I can’t even remember the last movie I
saw in a theater. My weekend’s going to be heavy on baseball watching, scout calls and catching up on Modern Family.

    Rick (St.Paul, Mn): Should there be concern for
    Manny Machado's strike out %'s ?

    For a guy who supposedly is a power hitting SS...he has struck out around 19% (in 365 PA) since his promotions from High A last year (across 2 levels) while only hitting 7 HR's during that time. Dare I say that the O's felt pressured to move him up to AA to start the
    year when he should've started the year back at Frederick ?

Ben Badler: The strikeouts don’t worry me with Machado.
Did the assignment to Double-A surprise me? Yeah, but his hands work so
well at the plate that he can get caught out front on a breaking ball and still make the adjustment to foul a pitch off or put it in play. As long as he doesn’t get into bat habits and it doesn’t affect his swing or his approach, he’ll be fine.

    Ziggy (Toronto): How realistic is a May 2013 promotion to Houston for Singleton? The door at 1B is wide open next year for him to arrive, no?

Ben Badler: Very possible, and as one of Singleton’s biggest believers, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    Elliot (Portland): What is the consensus on Arenado so far and when do you think he'll bee in Coors? Thanks.

Ben Badler: Great reports all around from scouts. The power isn’t showing up this year, but there’s plus hit/plus power potential with defense that has improved leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. I like Sano, I like Castellanos, I like Rendon when he can stay on the field, but Arenado might be better than all of them.

    Sportsfan (Kansas City): Who are your top 3 pitching prospects right now (with upside and likelihood of reaching potential as most important factors)?

    Thank you

Ben Badler: Dylan Bundy, Shelby Miller, Trevor Bauer.

    cy (Western Mass.): Is Wil Myers trying to yank everything? I thought he used to go oppo, too?
    Is this worth worrying about?

Ben Badler: No worries here. He has the pitch recognition and strike-zone discipline, it’s just a matter of finding the right balance with his power emerging.

    Dave (Atlanta): What has happened to the Braves' Carlos Perez? He's completely fallen apart in low-A after being the #1 prospect in the Appy League a couple of years ago.

Ben Badler: He’s gone completely backwards since the Appy League. Haven’t gotten any encouraging reports since then.

    Richard (Brooklyn): Do you think wilmer Flores's current hot streak is an abberation or a sign of progress? Thanks

Ben Badler: Probably a little bit of both. When someone
like Flores becomes a big deal at 16, people tend to lose patience and forget that this guy is still a 20-year-old in High-A. I’m not saying he’s going to be an all-star, but he does have excellent hands at the plate and the power he’s starting to show doesn’t surprise me. There’s very real progress here.

    Kenny (Tampa): Is Tim Beckham the next Josh Hamilton or the next Matt Bush?

Ben Badler: Those are the only options? What Beckham did was dumb, but neither of those examples fit. The drug test doesn’t concern me as much as his defense at shortstop and his struggles at the plate.

    Matt d (Minnesota): Sorry saw the first question and had a follow up lol

    Does billy Hamilton stick at SS?

Ben Badler: I think the Reds will try to keep him there, but when you have the fastest player in all of baseball, I’d just
put him in center field and let his speed take over.

    Oliver (Boston): Can Taveras stick in center field? Hard to imagine the Cardinals moving Holliday or Beltran, and I doubt Jay will hold him back when the team decides OT is ready.

Ben Badler: I love Taveras’ bat, but even at a corner, he’s not really a plus defender, so I just don’t see center field happening.

    Tony (Pittsburgh): How long does Alen Hanson stay at low A? Is it too early to project him as a major league player? If not, what do you see?

Ben Badler: Probably all year, or at least most of the year. He might stay at shortstop, he might slide to second base, but I there’s above-average potential at either spot.

    Steve (Pittsburgh,PA): If Soler was available in the draft would he go first overall? I've read 80 power and 60 hit. This kid seems to be insane. He'd have to be better than Cespedes, correct?

Ben Badler: I like Soler, but all of that is a little rich. I wrote him up for BA subscribers in January, and our reports on him now are pretty much the same.

    Matty (Milwaukee, WI): Both seem to be pretty similar but which do you think will have the most success once reaching the majors: Jed Bradley or Taylor Jungmann?

Ben Badler: Bradley. For me, Jungmann’s more of a back-end starter who’s going to struggle to miss bats at higher levels.

    Tom (Newark): How much upside does Jackie Bradley have? Is he another Brett Jackson? 55 tools across the board?

Ben Badler: Toolswise, you’re right, there are some similarities there. Jackson has more size and a little more power, Bradley’s swing is a cleaner and he makes more contact, but it’s a lot of 55s on the tools that play up because of their instincts.

    Ryan (DC): What have you heard on Tyler Matzek? Can he harness enough control to be a frontline starter?

Ben Badler: The stuff is better than it was a couple years ago, but his control is just maddeningly inconsistent. If something clicks there, I can see a back-end starter, but it’s anybody’s
guess whether that will happen.

    Ned (San Jose): Ben, since "Bruno" basically defrauded the Padres, do they have any legal recourse against him? Granted, its only ~$150K

Ben Badler: I don’t think the Padres can do anything to
him, but the Dominican police did arrest him. The bigger concern I’d have is that the hundreds and hundreds of players that he’s investigated
over the years, those investigations are worthless. It sheds a terrible
light on the entire MLB investigations system when any investigator is allegedly taking a bribe. It amazes me that the media in general doesn’t
seem to care that the people who are supposed to be in charge of policing the system are so susceptible to corruption.

    Billy (Minneapolis): Will Sano stay at Beloit all year?

Ben Badler: The Twins usually take it slow with promotions, but Sano should be moving fast.

    Halvy (Seattle): Anything to report on Oscar Hernandez, the Rays catcher who put up Nintendo numbers in the VSL last year? Is there anything resembling a scouting consensus on him at this point?

Ben Badler: Wrote him up in our Top 20 DSL/VSL scouting reports. Would bet he spends the year in the GCL.

    Paul (New Jersey): Was Gary Brown over-hyped as result of Cal league? Not flashing much in his first taste of AA pitching and Eastern climates.

Ben Badler: Just a slow start in a small sample. Don’t have any worries there.

Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. Even if I can’t get to all of them, it always helps to let us know what you guys want to know more about for future stories. Judging from all the questions about Billy Hamilton, I have a feeling you’re going to really enjoy what J.J. is cooking up for us soon at BA. Have a great weekend.

Minors | #2012 #Prospect Hot Sheet

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