Ben Badler: OK, here we go. July 2 behind us, Futures Game ahead. If Billy Hamilton doesn’t drop down a bunt in his first at-bat on Sunday, I’m going to be hugely disappointed.
- Brian (Houston): What do you make of Carlos Correa's early struggles?
Ben Badler: It’s surprising, but nothing to worry about yet. Love the swing and still see a potential middle of the order bat.
- Ben (Leland Grove): Gut feeling - does Myers return to Omaha after Sunday?
Ben Badler: If he does, I don’t think he’ll be there long.
- Mike (Ontario): Where will Barretto rank in the Jays prospects? Tough for a 16 year old, but he's got a track record of playing at a high level
Ben Badler: He’ll be in that 16-30 range for the Blue Jays, and he might have a chance to be a little higher if he weren’t entering such a stacked system. I love what they did this week in Latin America.
- Steve Brown (Chicago): Jackie Bradley was recently promoted to Portland. Do you think he's a year or two years away from the Red Sox outfield?
Ben Badler: Next year is realistic. With his polished hitting approach and his ability to play premium defense in center field
immediately, he might not need much adjustment time either.
- @Jaypers413 (IL): The AZL Rangers lineup is stacked, to say the least. Which of these guys do you see getting bumped to Hickory first?
Ben Badler: They have some large human beings on that club. I would bet most of them spend the year there, but Joey Gallo’s the most advanced. Frank Lopez is also an interesting sleeper with good feel for pitching.
- Ken (Lakewood CA): Thanks Ben. My question is about a guy we haven't seen on the Hot Sheet in some time - James Paxton. Pitching in AA, he has walked a lot of guys, then went down with
some kind of knee injury. What's the latest on him - and your take for his future with Seattle?
Ben Badler: Big time command issues. If he can sort it out, great, you’ve got a mid-rotation starter, because the stuff sounds like it’s still there, but at this point you have to be worried about the control problems getting fixed.
- Luis C. (Miami): Is their Interest in the Cuban
current home run leader Alfredo Despaigne? How would he rank compared
with Cespedes and Solar ?
Ben Badler: Different kind of guy than either Cespedes or Soler, with the one main similarity being that they all have big time
power. There are scouts who loved Cespedes who aren’t as high on Despaigne because he’s a much more limited athlete, but there are scouts
who think Despaigne could come to the big leagues right away and be able to hit and hit for power. There would be big demand if he ever left
Cuba, he’s just a different flavor than Cespedes.
- Dave (Atlanta): You mentioned Luis Merejo, but any thoughts on two other recent Braves Latin signings, RHP Mauricio Cabrera at Danville (skipping the GCL) and INF Jose Peraza in the GCL?
Ben Badler: Both impressive. Peraza doesn’t to much to impact the ball right now, but he’s athletic and has great barrel awareness. Cabrera has taken a big step forward and should be another power arm for the Braves.
- Mike (Orlando): How valuable is Rougned Odor? If the Rangers wanted to light up the trade market would he be considered a top prospect?
Ben Badler: He should be, but second baseman (or future
second basemen) tend to get dinged pretty badly, either in the trade market, the draft or international free agency, which has always bugged me. Second base is a premium position, Odor can play it capably, his swing is outstanding and I think he’s going to hit a ton at the big league level. I would definitely be targeting him if I were trying to work a deal with the Rangers, although they have quite a few players I wouldn’t mind having.
- Mike (Orlando): The Red Sox seemed to have filled 3B with affordable team controlled talent, can Bogaerts stay at SS or move to 2B? Hate to see him traded because of a log jam at the position.
Ben Badler: The bad part is that the ideal fit for Bogaerts is probably third base. I’m not sure the Red Sox know what they’re going to do yet, other than try to hope he can play a passable shortstop, but the good news is that his bat is so good I’d love him as a
prospect even if he were a right fielder. But in a perfect world, he probably belongs at third.
- Will (NJ): Josh Vitters is on a roll. I've never been huge on him, but this is more than his sporadic hot streaks in the minors. He's consistently gotten better each month. What do scouts think about his ability to hit for power at the next level? Can be a solid 3rd base starter in the bigs? Could he be say, a .270-.280 type hitter, with say, 20 HR potential in a neutral environment?
Ben Badler: He’s surprising the heck out of me. I saw him last year, talked to scouts about him and while the swing and the bat speed were still there, the sense was just that he wasn’t really taking any steps forward. I’m still not sold that he’s a third baseman, or at least an everyday guy there, but there’s probably a bigger role for him at the major league level than we thought at this time a year ago.
- Vic31 (Chicago): Jeimer Candelario has looked mighty impressive with the bat, so far, but I've heard the glove is the real question. If he can't stick, do you think he's got enough athleticism to handle LF or is he destined for 1b? Will the bat play regardless?
Ben Badler: Could be, just depends a lot on how the body develops, but I don’t think he has to move off third base any time soon. He’s such a good hitter that I’d be excited about him no matter where he plays.
- Cody (Tillsonburg): Thanks for the chat as always. You guys do awesome work. Higher potential. Nicolino/Syndergaard/Sanchez or Norris/Comer/Musgrove
Ben Badler: The first group.
- Jim (Philadelphia): What do you make of Edward Salcedo's progression? Is he on track to take over 3B in two years, and what does his upside look like?
Ben Badler: Not on the bandwagon. I know he has bat speed and a good frame, I just don’t see the hitting ability to work at higher levels.
- Kevin (Ardsley N.Y.): Hey Ben I am very perplexed. How can Luis Mateo only be in the team photo and not be in the top 13? Those numbers he has posted are light sout, it rarley gets better than what he has accomplished this season.
Ben Badler: I am the captain of the Luis Mateo fan club. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be on plenty of Hot Sheets. It’s been a strange development path, but his stuff is tremendous.
- Mark (Kansas): Bonifacio is having a breakout season and hes only 19. What do you think his ceiling is and also is he now a top 100 prospect?
Ben Badler: Above-average right fielder. Top 100 guy for me.
- Vince (DC): I've got to think that we are nearing pen time for Trey McNutt. He just doesn't seem like he can put it together as a starter. If the blister is still bothering him ... well, that's two years in a row
Ben Badler: That’s probably the best fit for him.
- Fred (New York): Has anyone with George Springer's K-rate at Hi-A ever gone on to be a star at the major league level? I see the secondary tools, but they seem like they may go to waste as he moves up.
Ben Badler: That’s my huge concern. The tools are enormous, but I’m the low man on the staff on Springer. Just don’t see that contact rate working at higher levels.
- Navin (Pasadena, CA): Do you have any updates on Juan Carlos Paniagua as we get closer to July 19th? Are the Cubs linked to any other IFAs?
Ben Badler: The velocity is down, but the slider has improved. If I had to bet, I’d say he’s the Cubs’ priority guy now that Frandy de la Rosa has signed.
- AndyMo (Chicago): Is Profar the top prospect in the minors at this point?
Ben Badler: I think so. I think he’s a superstar. But I
know most teams we talk to say they would rather have Bundy, and he’s about as good as it gets for a pitcher.
- TJ (MD): Matt Szczur has been on a really nice role. If he maintains his performance (improved discipline, plus defense, improving power, hopefully improves on it), is he a top 75 prospect? Does he still have starting potential in the bigs, as a top of the order CF who chases down balls?
Ben Badler: I don’t have Szczur that high. The defense is there, the hitting approach has improved and I think he could be an average regular if a lot of things click, I just don’t see the swing working for much more than gap power. He’s plenty strong, but I just see
a limited offensive ceiling.
- Jimmy (Monticello): Who is the better prospect long-term: Story or Hansen?
Ben Badler: Hanson, but I don’t think Story gets enough attention.
- David (Va Beach): I know you seem to really like Jeimer Candelario. Should we expect him in Boise all season long and what especially do you like?
Ben Badler: He does so many things that you like to see
in a hitter. He has good rhythm, he’s balanced, the bat is fast from both sides of the plate, his hands work well, he has an approach at the plate that’s advanced for his age, he drives the ball for power now and has the physical projection to add more power in the future. Maybe he stays at third base, maybe he goes somewhere else, but the man can hit.
- Kyle (Carmel): Ben thanks for the chat. What is your take on Andy Oliver for Detroit. Does he still have a chance to
contribute for them down the road or is his lack of command ultimately going to be his undoing?
Ben Badler: Maybe there’s a relief role for him, but I don’t see it clicking as a starter. Major control problems.
- ballboy (watercooler): Mark Trumbo never got above #9 in the Angels org ratings...He has 26 multi-hit games already this season! 20 Dingers! Did he just steal Pujols mojo, is this dumb luck, or did we all miss something?! Thanks for the great coverage!
Ben Badler: I thought he was just a Triple-A masher, so
I know I was wrong on him. The power is playing much better in games than I ever thought it would, which is at least in part because he seems
to have a better hitting approach. It’s easy to just chalk it up to luck or a fluke when a guy beats your expectations, but I think I was just wrong about Trumbo.
- MJ (Chicago): Long-term who do you prefer more, Yelich or Taveras?
Ben Badler: I like Yelich, but have to go with Taveras. The man has violence in his bat. I can’t wait to see him on Sunday.
- Roger (Washington, DC): I know the players in the July 2 class being signed this week can't come play in US leagues until 2013, but can they play in the DSL/VSL this summer, or will they just be working out in org camps the rest of the year?
Ben Badler: The ones who become eligible to sign on July 2 are signing 2013 contracts, so they have to wait until next year to play in an official games, which means no DSL for them. They can go work out at the academies, some of them will go to the US for instructs and spring training and go to the Dominican academies for the winter programs that teams run, but no games until next year. Some teams do have an unofficial “July 2” league where they combine players to get them more game experience this summer, but nothing official until next year. Now if a player was eligible before July 2 (pretty much anyone 17 or older), he can sign a 2012 contract and would be eligible to play in the DSL this summer, the only problem is that it may take him a few weeks to a few months or even longer to get his contract approved, so it’s possible he might have to wait until 2013 to play anyway.
- Norman (San Jose): how would you grade Alen Hanson's future bat, power, and speed tools?
Ben Badler: Plus bat, plus speed and probably 50, maybe
55 power. I’m not certain he stays at shortstop, but as long as he’s somewhere in the middle of the diamond, that’s a player worth getting excited about.
- Greg (Pittsburgh): Hey Ben, is it a strong possibility that Byron Buxton, Mike Zunino, Lucas Giolito (if he signs) and Jorge Soler all make the updated Top 50 or 100 in August?
Also any July 2 International prospects that can make that list?
Ben Badler: I would put all four of them in the Top 100. I love the July 2 kids as much as anyone, but it’s hard to put any 16-year-old in there. Certainly a few guys could be on the 2014 list with strong debuts.
- Roger (Washington, DC): What do you make of Julio Teheran's struggles this year? He has to be considered possibly the biggest disappointment of the year from a prospect POV, particularly
given the Braves pitching situation.
Ben Badler: It’s fair to be concerned. He’s a major league starter, but if he’s going to be a frontline guy that people are expecting, I’m just not seeing it. The command needs work, which I think
can develop in time, but the lack of a reliable breaking ball really hurts him against righthanded hitters. Mid-rotation starter? I could see
it, and that’s plenty valuable, I just don’t see the star we were expecting a couple years ago.
- John (Chicago): Ben, what did you talk about during your call? These things fascinate us mere fans.
Ben Badler: I can tell you Billy Hamilton came up and he wasn’t even the topic of discussion. It’s always fun to talk about Billy Hamilton.
- bob (PA): why are the pirates brass waiting so long to call up marte? he's out performed all the other guys they've called upon lately.
Ben Badler: Beats me. I’d rather see Starling Marte in Pittsburgh.
- Barry (Louisville): What are your least favorite stats in baseball?
Ben Badler: Batter-pitcher matchup stats. Or anything dangerous enough to make people think they’re making data-driven decisions when all they’re looking at is noise.
- John (New York): You said that you loved what the Blue Jays did this week. Do you base that on the individual players
they chose to sign or more on their overall approach?
Ben Badler: A little bit of each. Their farm system is already loaded, they have plenty of depth, so why not shoot for the best
players you can get in the international market? Sure, maybe someone pops up in November or March and your budget is gone, but if you can get
a guy like Franklin Barreto who a lot of teams had at the top of their boards, then add the No. 9 and the No. 13 international prospects, I say
be aggressive. So while they’re mostly done for the year, now they can get a head start with their focus on the 2013 class, which is supposed to be pretty good, and if there is a pop-up guy next spring, you might still be able to sign him if you can convince him to wait until July 2, 2013 when the new international bonus pools kick in. It limits your flexibility, but as long as you’re signing the right guys, I love it.
- John (CT): What do you make of Gary Sanchez's promotion? Think he'll stay at catcher? He seems to be an offensive weapon, which includes stolen bases this year. When do you see him in the majors?
Ben Badler: Gary Sanchez having 12 stolen bases might be more surprising than Billy Hamilton having 100. That dude is slow, but he does have a great arm and he knows what he’s doing at the plate. But I’m not sold that he’s going to stick at catching, both because of the receiving and the body, and in that case I’m not sure if he’s going to hit enough to be an everyday first baseman. He could stick back there, but there are real concerns from scouts (and have been for some time) about whether he will.
- Alex (Mass): I was suprised that the Rockies are concerned about Arenado's makupe or maturity. Has that set him back in your mind? and what is a realistic eta?
Ben Badler: I know I’m in the minority about this topic, but hearing that the Rockies have concerns about Arenado’s maturity is encouraging. Maturity (and I’m just going off what their GM said publicly) is something you can fix in a 21-year-old. I’d rather have maturity be an issue than something with a guy’s swing or tools, and while I’d like to see Arenado driving the ball for more power, I don’t have any questions about his swing. A lot of teams have blown it with their own prospects by trading a guy they felt had maturity or makeup issues who went on to be stars for other teams. There are scouts who think I’m completely backwards on this, but I believe it.
- Roger (Washington, DC): I know it's crazy to put these 16 year old international signees in a team's current top 10 or even 20, but given the weakness of the Giants system, do you think Cabrera might be a top 10 prospect for them?
Ben Badler: He’s definitely a back of the Top 30 guy. The tools and the athleticism are there, but he really has a long ways to go with his hitting.
- Derek (Ohio): Whats your evaluation of Marcell Ozuna for Miami? Is he a potential top 100 player in the near future?
Ben Badler: He keeps surprising me. If the strikeouts stay in check and he keeps tightening his strike-zone discipline, he’s definitely in that discussion.
- clint (IN): Do you believe in Billy Hamilton's bat?
Ben Badler: More than I did last year. Part of it is the Cal League inflating numbers, and he’s probably a 20 to 30-grade power guy at best, but he’s made real improvements in his hitting approach to work the count, cut down on strikeouts and just find ways to
get on base. I don’t think he’s a star in the making, but the speed is such an unbelievable carrying tool and the bat has a chance to be good enough for him to be more than one of these speed-only guys who have limited real value.
- Alex (Witchita): How much power projection does Jorge Bonifacio have?
Ben Badler: He’s going to be a big man. 20-25 HR in a season potential.
- frank (nyc): 1st to make an impact in majors?...bundy, walker or barnes?
Ben Badler: Barnes, Walker, Bundy. Betting they’re all up at some point next year.
- Kevin (San Diego): Ben, beyond the numbers, what can you tell me about Adys Portillo? The ERA is incredible, but the
walk rate is still concerning, though down from past years. Can't imagine that would hold up against more advanced hitters. I know he has
a plus-plus fastball, but are his secondary stuff and command good enough to project as a starter down the line?
Ben Badler: A lot of scouts see late-inning reliever. That’s a giant leap ahead of where he was last year. He’s always had pitchability concerns since he signed, but San Diego’s done a nice job developing him.
- Tim (Kansas): Is Shelby Miller still the top prospect in the Cardinals' system, or has he been passed by Taveras? Is
he still the top pitching prospect in the system?
Ben Badler: Miller’s still their best pitcher, but Taveras has passed him as a prospect.
- J.D. (Cary, NC): I've seen that Wil Myers has been playing CF in the minors this year - does he have the ability to stick there in the big leagues?
Ben Badler: Only out of dire necessity. Much better fit in RF.
- Matt (Florida): Any chance that Jose Fernandez could end the year in Jacksonville?
Ben Badler: His stock has soared, but what’s the rush?
- Brant (Stratham, NH): What are your thoughts on Victor Sanchez? What is his ceiling? I was surprised to see him in Everett at such a young age.
Ben Badler: Hard to put a ceiling on a 17-year-old, but
Sanchez is one guy who scouts say is more about now stuff than projection. If you see a picture or video of him, you’ll know what I mean. He’s just a filled out guy who looks like he’s been lifting Volvos
or something. That said, his stuff is already plenty good, he’s got the
potential for three average to plus pitches and he’s got a good idea of
how to pitch. He’s not the next Felix Hernandez, but he should move quickly and could be a quality mid-rotation starter.
- Jimmy (Chesapeake): I saw Michael Ynoa made his
debut. How long until we see him on the Hot List? He'll probably need
to pitch more than one inning.
Ben Badler: I’d love for him to get healthy and start pitching well, but he’s got a long, long way to go to get back there.
- John (Chicago): Surprised to see you pick Barnes of those 3 to be first to make a major league impact. You're not
at all worried about his more recent results?
Ben Badler: He’s slowed down (how could he not?), but I
think the Mariners will be more patient with Walker. His results haven’t been so hot lately either.
- Bill (Bozeman): Is there any indication or thought that Bubba Starling might move up the chain at some point this summer, or is he in Burlington for the duration?
Ben Badler: Probably spending the year in the Appy League.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions, and for all the ones that didn’t get answered, those always help us direct our coverage and scout calls on players you want to know more about. I’ll be
in Kansas City this weekend with Jim Callis and JJ Cooper for the Futures Game, so check back with us Sunday afternoon and Monday for our breakdown. Enjoy the weekend.