Ben Badler: You know it’s a fun time of year when the chat queue is already loaded with questions.
- Aaron (Dallas): What do you think the Rangers do when Profar is ready? Trade Andrus to make room for him or move one to 2nd base?
Ben Badler: Put Profar at shortstop, trade Andrus for a hefty return.
- Patrick (Charlotte, NC): Has Nick Castellanos exceeded your expectations this year? He plays just about everyday and leads the pitching friendly Florida State League in batting average by more about 70 points.
Ben Badler: Yes, and I say that even as one of Castellanos’ biggest believers since high school. I’ve always liked the swing, but the improvement in his hitting approach has just taken him to
a completely different level. He’s Detroit’s best prospect right now.
- Itto (Aguadilla, PR): Is it time to start worrying about Brett Jackson SO rate and recent slump?
Ben Badler: The strikeouts are a concern, but we’ve always known that’s just part of who he’s going to be. The swing and miss is going to keep his AVG down, but he does take his walks, he hits for power, he has speed and can be a quality defender in center field, so I think we’re talking more about small adjustments than any radical overhauls that need to be made here.
- Patrick (Durham, NC): Is Jackie Bradley a Top 50 prospect yet?
Ben Badler: Not yet, but he’s in the Top 100 discussion.
- Dante (Arizona): What is the latest on the Beras investigation. I read "fraud" but is that fraud by the Rangers or Beras camp?
Ben Badler: No resolution yet from MLB, but they have to look into both. Even if the league does determine that Beras is 17 instead of 19 or 20 or some other age, MLB still could easily void the deal, since Beras appears to have broken the rules by presenting false information about himself to MLB. Then again, given MLB’s murky track record, I wouldn’t be stunned if they passed him.
- Navin (Pasadena, CA): What are your thoughts on the slow start in Peoria for SS Marco Hernandez?
Ben Badler: Concerning. It’s not time to panic, but I’m very surprised he’s struggled so badly at the plate.
- David (Va Beach): Chances at this point of an IFA draft for 2013 and whether or not this impacts a few teams that may decide to treat this as a one time only "all in" scenario, since the penalties would just be monetary, at that point, with a draft looming.
Ben Badler: It sounds more like the target date for an international draft is 2014. I think it will either be a draft or what I’ll call “a draft without a draft,” where each team gets bonus slots based on inverse order of their major league team’s record from the previous year, which would essentially make it a draft, though with more
flexibility for players to choose where they want to sign. I don’t anticipate anyone going over the bonus pools this year, but like I’ve written before, you can be darn sure that teams are going to try various
tactics to get around the bonus pools, and I don’t think that type of thinking will be limited to the international side only.
- Tony (Pittsburgh): Is Jorge Soler going to sign soon?
Ben Badler: He’s not a free agent yet, and there hasn’t
been any announcement of him obtaining his residency papers yet either,
both of which need to happen first before he can sign, plus he’ll need OFAC clearance. My bet is that something is in the works and he gets it all done before July 2. Frankly, it shouldn’t be that hard to go through
Mexico to get papers done if he needs them.
- Rafa (Los Angeles): Is Rougned Odor Top 100 material next year if he continues this pace?
Ben Badler: Yes. The guy’s swing is fantastic, he’s got
surprising pop for his size and he plays a premium position. A lot of people missed the boat on him when he was 16 for some reason.
- Scott (Philadelphia): Will you answer 20 questions before the new chatting limits take effect?
Ben Badler: If I exceed the allotted chat question pool, we’ll have to pay taxes on the overage and the league won’t let us
go beyond 15 questions next week. But maybe I can take some questions under the table on Twitter.
- Jake (Dallas): If you had to choose between Hultzen, Paxton and Walker as "most likely to frontline a rotation in three years' time", who would win and why? Thanks Ben.
Ben Badler: Walker, Hultzen, Paxton, in that order. Walker’s three years younger than Hultzen, the fastball is better, the breaking ball is better and he’s going to be a strike-thrower. I like Hultzen, but Walker might be a legitimate ace, and I don’t throw that label around liberally. Walker could be an absolute monster.
- mark (maine): offensively, kolten wong = jose altuve = starlin castro?
Ben Badler: Starlin Castro > Kolten Wong > Jose Altuve
- @Jaypers413 (IL): Do you believe the Orioles made the right decision to promote Bundy by one level up instead of two?
Ben Badler: I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference, but I usually do believe in a one level at a time schedule.
- Jim (Frederick, MD): Royals' prospects Yordano Ventura and Jason Adam are both pitching well at a relatively young age in Hi-A ball. What's the latest assessment on the ceilings for both players? Also, any chance that either would be promoted to AA this season?
Ben Badler: Adam’s solid, I see him more as a back-end starter at best though. Ventura’s a huge wild card. I don’t know how that little dude throws so freakin’ hard, but it’s a way bigger fastball
than Adam’s and I think the rest of the arsenal is good enough to miss bats at the major league level. Whether they end up moving him to a bullpen role, I don’t know, but I’d keep him as a starter because I think there’s at least mid-rotation potential there, maybe more.
- Robbie (Thornhill, ON): Is Hechavarria's performance for real? Between last year and this, he's been pretty darn good. Is his defence as good as its been billed as well? How do you project him in the Majors?
Ben Badler: He’s an absolutely terrific defender and bat has been better than I expected, so there’s a chance he’s an everyday guy, but I don’t see him hitting any higher than seventh in a good lineup.
- denis (marshall): What's wrong with Yorman Rodriguez? Can he recover and be the top prospect the Reds thought they had?
Ben Badler: I’ve never talked to a scout outside of the
Reds who ever thought he could hit, going back to when he was 15. I just don’t see it at all.
- Matt (VA): Dylan Bundy is facing his first real stiff test Saturay vs Salem. How much attention should we pay attention to it?
Ben Badler: Just enjoy the ride. I can’t imagine a guy with his combination of stuff and polish running into much difficulty.
- Chris (Dallas): I've read concerns about the mechanics of Oscar Taveras' swing. Can you think of any comparable swings that have proven to be effective in the majors?
Ben Badler: It’s not conventional, but it works for him
and I don’t think there are going to be any issues with it going forward. Some guys like Taveras just have the preternatural hand-eye coordination and hitting instincts to make it work.
- Rob (Kalamazoo): I'm assuming Matt Moore's performance so far in the bigs is a bit bafflining to you. What should Tampa Bay do next, hold patience or send him back down for a few start to regain some confidence?
Ben Badler: He’s staying in the big leagues. The control issues are always something he’s dealt with, but he’s shown he can make adjustments quickly and the frontline stuff is all still there.
- Mike (DC): How good is Jose Fernandez in the Marlins' system? He's been pretty much lights out so far.
Ben Badler: He’s fantastic. Shaping up to be a potential No. 2 starter, maybe even more depending on how the changeup comes along. He’s exciting.
- Joe (Chicago): Are you a Austin Hedges believer?
Ben Badler: Yes. Tremendous defense behind the plate, good approach to hitting that’s come better than advertised and the potential for 20+ HR? I’ll take that all day.
- Sean (Toronto): Is D'arnaud better than Arencibia?
Ben Badler: Yes. Given the OBP issues, Arencibia’s best suited as a backup.
- Kyle (Indianapolis): I know everyone has raved about the polish of Dylan Bundy, but shouldn't that be somewhat expected
given the fact that he was a fairly old high schooler. Bundy turns 20 in November in comparison to someone like Mike Trout (I know comparing a
pitcher and hitter) who turns 21 in August. They are only 16 months apart, but Trout has experienced 2+ years in the minors. Shouldn't Bundy be more polished or mature than any other high schooler in last year's class.
Ben Badler: He was old for his grade, but the guy has been about as flawless as you can get and is doing it with arguably the best pure stuff in the minors. He’s the best pitching prospect in baseball and he might even be the best prospect overall, although Jurickson Profar has a pretty compelling argument.
- Andrew (Illinois): When do you expect any final
word on Andres Serrano? If they void his contract are the Cardinals connected to anyone else in LA for July 2nd signing date?
Ben Badler: Hard to say on a timetable for Serrano. Some of these cases drag on for over a year, which does seem excessive, although frankly I don’t blame MLB for wanting to be as careful and as diligent as they can to make sure they get it right the first time. I don’t think it will affect the Cardinals much for July 2 though, since it sounds like they’re already being pretty active in the Latin American
- Itto (Aguadilla, PR): What kind of numbers Anthony Rizzo is capable to have once he reach the majors?
Ben Badler: A .290/.360/.480 type guy with good defense
in his prime years is certainly possible. I’d chop some off those numbers at first though as he adjusts to major league pitching.
- Carlos (Houston): After an awful start to the year.astros prospect Domingo Santana has begun to show why the Astros got him in the hunter pence deal. Was he close to making the list?
Ben Badler: I like Santana’s power, but long arms, long
swings, lots of strikeouts . . . those are big red flags, especially for a righthanded hitter.
- Dave (Atlanta): Any talk of folding the VSL? Could it add a couple unaffiliated teams?
Ben Badler: It’s unfortunate, but if anyone else pulls out, it’s going to be hard for it to keep going. I can’t see them running a two-team or a three-team league there, unless someone has a very creative solution.
- Peter (Escondido): Did Rymer Liriano get consideration for this week's list? He has hit .429 in his last 10 games.
Ben Badler: He’s been hitting the ball better lately, but that guy drives me nuts. He’s got an incredible combination of tools
that make him look unbelievable when he’s going well, like he did for most of last year, he’s just not a natural feel for hitting guy, so there’s still a lot of development work here left to go.
- Mike (NY): Is Wilmer Flores starting to put it all together, and is his prospect status on the rebound? What have scouts been saying about the 20 year old?
Ben Badler: I know I’ve said this before, but patience is paramount when it comes to 16-year-old international signings, especially when you have a guy like Flores who has been on everyone’s radar since he was 16. He’s always been an incredibly gifted hitter, but
now he’s learning a better approach, that just because he CAN make contact with a pitch on the corner of the plate doesn’t mean he HAS to swing at it, and with more strength, now you’re seeing the average and the power numbers come up. And like you said, he’s still only 20 years old in the Florida State League. There’s still a lot to like here.
- Dave (Work): What's Jon singletons ceiling?
Ben Badler: All-star first baseman, plus hitter with at
least plus power and good defense. The bar is high for first base prospects, but I just love Singleton’s rhythm, balance and power potential.
- Jeff (Iowa): How soon can we expect to see a George Springer call-up and does Grady Sizemore sound like a reasonable comp to you?
Ben Badler: Way too aggressive for me. Sizemore had much better feel for hitting than Springer. Once he leaves Lancaster, those strikeouts are going to catch up to him.
- Tom (MA): Is Julio Morban a prospect? He's tearing up the Cal league with his bat - is this a California league illusion? Can he handle CF?
Ben Badler: He’s always shown the makings of a solid swing and some feel to hit whenever he’s been fully healthy, but that’s happened, well, almost never, until this year. I don’t think he’s a center fielder, but there’s some kind of offensive potential there beyond just a Cal League mirage.
- Kyle (Maine): Is Matt Barnes in the top 100 discussion as well?
Ben Badler: Absolutely.
- Jasper (Leiden, the Netherlands): Scouts seem very divided over Travis d'Arnaud's defense: what's your view?
Ben Badler: He’s solid back there. Nothing spectacular, but no major concerns either.
- TOADSTOOL (Jeffersonville, IN): Shelby Miller ... has his stock gone up, down or stayed the same this season?
Ben Badler: Still a potential No. 1 starter. The results show that he still needs time in Triple-A and his command needs to improve, but he’s still a premium arm.
- Bob (Denver): What are your thoughts about Arenado's lack of power so far?
Ben Badler: It’s more surprising than concerning. He’s got plenty of strength, barrels up balls all the time, so I still see a .300+ hitter in the future. How much power he has is still up in the air, but I think he’ll be anywhere from a 50-60 power guy on the 20-80 scale, which will be plenty for him to be an above-average everyday regular at least.
- Lorne (Toronto): Is it time to worry about Ranaudo and AJ Cole? Do you view them worse off now?
Ben Badler: Very fair to be worried about both guys. I’ve never been high on either one, but I didn’t think they’d look this bad either.
- Chad Dubick (White Rock, BC): How long before Hultzen is in the majors. Do you think it is imminent, or will he go to Triple A first?
Ben Badler: I would give him Triple-A time first.
- Brian (Cinci): Everyone keeps saying "Tony Cingrani's delivery is more suited for the bullpen", yet he's putting up
eye popping numbers in a nightmare league for pitchers. Then they point
out his curveball isn't great, again pointing to relief. But if he commands both his fastball and changeup and his breaking ball is at least a 40/45, isn't that enough to start, especially given the plus velocity and his lefthandedness? Cole Hamels (not comparing them, really) was a 2 pitch guy for the first 3-4 years of his career and doesn't have Cingrani's velocity.
Ben Badler: I think you let him start until he forces you to move him to the bullpen, either due to performance or a potential
health issue arises. Speaking more generally, sometimes there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy where guys get the “future reliever” label thrown on them, for various reasons (size, lack of third pitch, mechanics, etc.), because guys like that in the big leagues historically
have been relievers. So these guys get moved to the bullpen without ever being given a chance to start, but when you do give them the opportunity, sometimes it doesn’t work out, but sometimes you get a guy like Justin Masterson or Colby Lewis, who are a heck of a lot more valuable for 200 innings than 60 innings. Certainly there are some guys like Carlos Marmol or plenty of other arms who are clearly better fits in bullpen roles, I just think some guys get pigeonholed there and never
get a chance to escape.
- Kyle (Indianapolis): Although this is a prospect chat, how impressed are you with Mike Trout's play this year for the Angels?
Ben Badler: He’s the real deal. Boy is he fun to watch.
- daniel (houston): Do you see Profar having a Jimmy Rollins carrer?
Ben Badler: I think he’s going to be better.
- Nick (Toronto): Aaron Sanchez has been completely unhittable so far in Lansing. Does he have ace potential?
Ben Badler: Probably a LITTLE rich for me, but a No. 2 starter would not surprise me.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. Always good to see what you guys are wondering about that we should track down with our scouting contacts. I’m back to working the phone lines for July 2, while Jim Callis is somewhere tinkering with his newest mock draft that everyone in the industry is awaiting. Have a great weekend everyone!