Moderator: Ben Badler will answer your prospects questions beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
Aaron (Duncanville): If you could have either Andrus or Profar who would you rather have and why?
Ben Badler: Profar. Andrus is an excellent player, but he doesn’t have the offensive ceiling to match Profar.
Michael Lechner (California): Any hope for Engel Beltre? Will he ever make the bigs? He was once talked about as a 5 tool player.
Ben Badler: He’ll get to the big leagues, but he’s never going to hit enough to stick around.
Brandon (NY): Michael Wacha has been described by some as the "crown jewel" of the STL pitching riches, yet Carlos Martinez was ranked as the higher prospect by BA coming into this season. In light of Wacha's promotion and Martinez being sent back down to stretch out, which of these two 21 year olds is the better pitcher and who's the more likely to reach their potential?
Ben Badler: Martinez. Wacha is more polished right now, but Martinez has more velocity and better movement on his fastball, much higher ceiling to miss bats.
Satchel (NY): Higher ceiling R DePaula (NY) or Y Ventura (KC)? peace
Ben Badler: They both have ceilings as frontline starter ceilings. I’d rather have Ventura because he’s closer to the big leagues now, although I wouldn’t be surprised if DePaula could dominate Double-A if the Yankees put him there tomorrow.
Marcus (NYC): What grade would you give Gregory Polanco's hit tool? And his power? How much difference do you think those tools compare to those of an elite level hitting prospect like say, Oscar Taveras?
Ben Badler: The present hit tool is below-average, but you can project him to be a plus hitter in the future with high OBPs with enough physical projection to be a 25-30 homer guy in his prime. He’s a premium prospect, but Taveras’ pure hit tool might be a 70 right now, and the present power better than Polanco’s, although that should change as Polanco gets stronger.
Zak (Boston, MA): thanks for answering questions. Seems like a lot of scouts are starting to think that Xander Bogaerts can stick at SS. What are your thoughts on his defense?
Ben Badler: When he was younger, you would look at his body, figure by the time he’s ready to be an everyday guy in the big leagues by age 23 or 24, he’d probably get so big that his range wouldn’t be good enough to play shortstop. What’s happened is that his bat has come so quickly that now you’re looking at him being big league ready by the time he’s 21, so he’s not quite as filled out as he’s eventually going to be. I think he can play shortstop for the next few years, be below-average but playable there, then in his mid/late-20s probably slide over to third base.
Erik R. (New York, NY): What do you think Renato Nunez's ceiling is as bigleaguer and is there a comp for him? Any chance he becomes a better major leaguer than Addison Russell?
Ben Badler: Nunez could be a plus hitter with plus power. I don’t see him staying at third base unless his defense improves dramatically, but that kind of bat is plenty in right field. I know some teams have thought about moving him to catcher going back to before he even signed, but I don’t see that happening that this point.
Matt (KC): Do you think Royals have a development problem, more so than a scouting problem?
Ben Badler: The regression and health issues of so many of their pitching prospects concerns me.
ryan (altoona pa): Gerrit Cole, considering what he has shown thus far in his short minor league career does he play as a top of the line starter in the big leagues, or more of a middle rotation solid pitcher? Is Taillon the top pitching prospect in the minors?
Ben Badler: The stuff itself makes you think frontline starter, but hitters do seem to pick up the ball out of Cole’s hand surprisingly well. There might be an adjustment he could make, but when you couple that with some of the command issues he’s having, I have Taillon ahead of him pretty comfortably.
Ryan (New York): Who has the highest ceiling from the Mets system out of Montero, Tapia, DeGrom and Mateo?
Ben Badler: Mateo if he can stay healthy has the highest ceiling, but Montero has the better chance to stick as a starter.
PoFly (Seattle): Will Nick Castellanos ever go back to 3B?
Ben Badler: I would have left him there longer, but those days are over.
Jeff (Philadelphia): Can Alen Hanson stick at SS?
Ben Badler: He COULD stick at shortstop, and given how badly the Pirates need a shortstop, he’s going to get a longer rope there than most guys would. The tools are there, but the internal clock and the commitment to defense need to improve, although from talking to people around him it sounds like he’s starting to grasp that hitting isn’t the only part of baseball that’s going to get him to the big leagues.
Chris (Phoenix): I am a big fan of Raul Mondesi and love hearing more and more about him. Is calling him KC's Profar out of line or is their some merit to it?
Ben Badler: Too much. Profar has a special bat and could be winning MVP awards some day. Mondesi’s very advanced for his age and he’s a solid all-around player, but he doesn’t have Profar’s upside.
Jimmy (Kalamazoo): Hi, what are your thoughts on Rougned Odor? Can he hit enough to be a big leaguer?
Ben Badler: One of the sweetest swings in the minors. Some scouts aren’t going to warm to him because he’s not a great runner and he’s not a premium athlete, but he’s going to hit a ton and there’s 15-20 homer potential in there. I’m a big fan.
Cody (Tillsonburg): Higher ceiling. Tyler Skaggs or Taijuan Walker?
Ben Badler: Walker throws harder, but Skaggs has a wider repertoire, better command, better prospect.
Reid (Austin): What is Delino DeShields Jr.'s ceiling? Do you believe he will be an above-average everyday player either at 2B or in the OF?
Ben Badler: I know some scouts who see him as everyday second baseman, but I just don’t see him hitting enough to get to that level.
Ryan Hall (Abingdon, MD): How surprising is Marcell Ozuna's big league success?
Ben Badler: Small sample, but I didn’t think he’d be this good. It’s not a flawless swing but he’s really worked to improve his plate coverage and tighten up his control of the strike zone over the last few years to become more than just a hacker with big raw power.
Amanda (Minneapolis): What % chance do you think Sano has of sticking at 3B? How about Eddie Rosario at 2B? Thanks!
Ben Badler: Sano has the tools to stay there, he’s just such an enormous human being already that you have to wonder how much range he’s going to have if he puts on more weight. What’s crazy is he’s a pretty good athlete for someone his size, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt to be able to stay at the position.
Mike (Long Island): Who has a higher ceiling? Robert Stephenson or Alex Meyer?
Ben Badler: Meyer, but it’s not a big gap. There’s top of the rotation potential with both.
Jeff (CA): How would you rank these outfield prospects: Myers, Puig, Starling?
Ben Badler: Myers, Puig, a gap the size of the Pacific Ocean, Starling
Ian (MPLS): Buxton or Sano?
Ben Badler: Buxton. He might be the best prospect in baseball by the end of the year.
Amanda (Minneapolis): Can J.O. Berrios be a successful MLB starter, or does his height doom him to the bullpen?
Ben Badler: I’ve never subscribed to the idea that a pitcher isn’t tall enough to be a starter. There’s no reason his height should limit him to a relief role.
Jeff (CA): Is Joc Pederson considered a legitimate outfield prospect?
Ben Badler: Absolutely. His hands work well at the plate, he barrels the ball routinely and he’s one of the best hitters in the minors. Yasiel Puig is the sexy name in that system and deservedly so, but Pederson could be a star.
Ben Badler: My apologies for some of the delays in the chat today due to MLB and the Players Association making their international draft announcements just as we were getting going. I’ll keep going longer than usual to make up for it.
Claudio (Italy): Salcedo has his best month as a pro in May. Is he back on track as a prospect or it's just a hot streak?
Ben Badler: I’ve never been a big Salcedo fan, but he’s resurrected his prospect status this year. I’m still a skeptic, but the bat speed has always been there; now he’s making the right adjustments to be able to get to his power.
Cory (Indy): Better Raphael prospect - Montero or De Paula?
Ben Badler: DePaula
Jake (Chicago, IL): Hi Ben, thanks for chatting with us today! Do you think the Red Sox will give Anthony Ranaudo a shot in their rotation before Allen Webster or Matt Barnes?
Ben Badler: Webster’s the next in line. He’s more ready now and he’s a better prospect than Ranaudo, but if you feel comfortable with Ranaudo’s durability, you can make the argument that he’s ahead of Barnes at this point. I can’t go that far yet because there’s just too much in Ranaudo’s background that makes me worry about his future health, but when he’s 100 percent, he’s a better pitcher than Barnes.
Mike (Orlando): Brushing up on the prospect handbook in preparation to trading season, I saw Kyle Zimmer with a 70 low grade. Given his struggles so far would you re-assess the grade or do you feel it's just growing pains?
Ben Badler: I’d bump up the risk grade a peg, but that’s probably how I would lean relatively when we have those grading discussions internally. The stuff is still electric, but the general hysteria in Royals land is making people panic more than usual about the start of their first-round pick. I think he’ll turn things around quickly.
Chris (Texas): Do you see a bounce back for Mike Olt after his DL stint?
Ben Badler: I don’t think the Rangers have much sense of what to expect from Olt or Cody Buckel at this point. The two most bizarre prospects collapses in the minors.
Zack (Honolulu, HI): Would Oscar Tavares, StL be promoted before September? What would be a reasonable expectations of his performance?
Ben Badler: Put it this way: If he had been in the major leagues on Opening Day, people would be talking about him the same way they’re talking about Manny Machado right now.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Not yet Hot Sheet candidate but Dorsyss Paulino is heating up with the weather. No XB hits in April. 2 doubles in 55 AB to start May. 6 doubles and a triple in his most recent 36 AB. I assume this is not uncommon for an 18-year-old Dominican debuting in Northeast Ohio.
Ben Badler: Of all the 2011 international signings that teams sent to Low-A this year, I’m most surprised that Paulino hasn’t been hitting much. Mondesi, Tocci, Mazara, I get it, all for different reasons, but Paulino has too good of a swing and a hitting approach to be struggling the way he has early in the year. I think he’ll start to make adjustments and get settled in the second half of the season.
Peter (Palm Springs): You are building a team from scratch and you can pick only 1 of the following pitchers. Which one do you choose and why?
Jose Urena, Tyler Glasnow, Domingo Tapia, Chad Bettis, Andrew Chaffin or Tyrell Jenkins
Ben Badler: Tyler Glasnow, with the caveat that you’re going to need some patience for the control to develop. The electric fastball/plus breaking ball combination is a recipe for missing bats.
Eric (Atlanta): Who has the higher ceiling at 2B, Rosario or Wong (assuming Rosario stays at 2B and not OF)?
Ben Badler: Rosario has more power potential, Wong is the safer bet to stay at second base. I love both of their bats.
Jeff (CA): Do you see the Mets trading away Wilmer Flores?
Ben Badler: I have a hard time seeing how he’d fit in a deal, especially given that the Mets aren’t in a position where they’re likely to be trading away prospects. He’s in a tough spot. He had so much success when he came into pro ball immediately as a 16-year-old that I think there’s some prospect fatigue there, but he’s still young and he’s hit at every level, even if it came with some growing pains. The problem is the best position for him is third base, which isn’t an option in that organization, because I don’t second base working for him and with his speed, if you put him in left field I’m worried someone will hit a ground ball down the third base line for a triple.
Jeff (CA): If you had to guess, which big name prospect could you see getting traded by the trade deadline?
Ben Badler: If the Yankees make a move, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gary Sanchez is involved.
Jeff (CA): When Soler and Puig were both signed, the consensus was Soler was the better prospect. What changed in that people would rather have Puig now?
Ben Badler: Soler is still ahead of Puig. The biggest difference is that scouts did not have an opportunity to see Puig play much before he signed. There were guys who liked him, and teams who did their homework know how dominant he was in the youth leagues growing up in Cuba, but he barely played in any international tournaments to be seen, didn’t have workouts for teams before he signed like Soler did, and he wasn’t in baseball-ready shape when he showed up in Mexico. Now that more scouts are getting more looks at him, the confidence level in being able to assess him properly has grown.
Zack (Honolulu, HI): How high in the rotation do you think Sonny Gray (OAK) will rise to eventually?
Ben Badler: No. 4 starter, with a chance to be a No. 3.
Jeff (CA): Do you think Dee Gordon gets moved to second base by the Dodgers?
Ben Badler: I don’t how he’s going to hit enough in the big leagues for it to matter.
Boof (Chicago): Any news on Bubba Starling's Lasik procedure? Are there any comps of players improving after such a change?
Ben Badler: The swing is still a mess. I don’t think the surgery’s going to make much difference there.
Marc (Canada): Relative to other positions, is there a reason why there are not many elite 1B and 2B prospects?
Ben Badler: Because a lot of the game’s future second basemen come up through the minors as shortstops, while the first basemen usually start either at third base, a corner outfield spot or in some cases shortstop. This is an unusually thin group of first basemen in the minors right now though.
Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): Seems like everywhere in the world but Latin America would prefer to limit draft elibility to HS graduate age. What would happen to the pipeline if the draft age was moved up there?
Ben Badler: The concern from scouts is that now you’re getting players into the hands of professional instructors at 17 or 18 instead of 16, which might hamper their development, but I think there would be several important benefits to raising the signing age. It’s just not realistic to expect a player who’s 16 to be ready for professional baseball or to meet the expectations that scouts have for what a 16-year-old needs to do to get a big signing bonus. If you raise the signing age, I would bet you see a decrease in age fraud, possibly a decrease in steroid use and the accuracy of scouts’ predictions would increase.
Noel (Portland, OR): Did I misread above, or did you say that Gregory Polanco's hit tool is below-average? Isn't 307/370/486 in a pitcher's league above average?
Ben Badler: The present hit tool is graded on the major league scale. Obviously for his age and league he’s above average and he projects to be there at the major league level eventually, but if you dropped him into the lineup in Pittsburgh right now, he’s going to be overmatched.
Banana (Dominican Republic): No International Draft thanks goodness.
Ben Badler: Probably one of the best fake chat names I’ve seen in a while.
Sean (Michigan): Ben,
When you did you analysis of international signings a few months ago of team's success in finding MLBers the Tigers were very high on that list, despite rarely spending on the high dollar guys. Do you see that continuing?
Ben Badler: I haven’t heard them linked to any of the very top guys, which doesn’t surprise me given their history and given that their bool pool is in the shallow end this year. So yeah, they’ll probably spread out their money and might try to be aggressive on guys they find throughout the year, not just July 2. They do a great job covering Venezuela especially, part of which is just good scouting, and part of it’s being one of the few organizations with a Venezuela Summer League team to be able to give more opportunities to guys like Eugenio Suarez and Harold Castro who go from roster filler to legitimate prospects.
Arthur (Loudonville, OH): Hi Ben, thanks for the Chat!
Given his recent success, do you think the Reds will move Stephenson up this year, and if so, will they skip him to double A to avoid the Bakersfield band box?
Ben Badler: I could see him getting a promotion in the second half, maybe after the Futures Game if he goes there, but Double-A would be too aggressive.
Mike (Michigan): Thoughts on the progress of Danry Vazquez this year? Is he becoming at least a fringe top 100-type with his start in the Midwest League?
Ben Badler: The arrows are pointing in the right direction, but I can’t put a corner outfielder with his lack of power and a .314 OBP in the Midwest League in a Top 100. Don’t get me wrong, the barrel awareness is there and the power could come down the road once he gets stronger and gets some more calories in him. Top 100 is too rich, but his stock is up from the beginning of the year.
brett (enola pa): hi ben..........with short season baseball right around the corner could you tell us a position player and starting pitcher prospect that plays for an NL team that could break out this year?....thanks brett
Ben Badler: Keep an eye on Giants RHP Keury Mella and Mets OF Vicente Lupo. Power stuff and a power bat.
Casey (Houston): What are your thoughts on Carlos Correa so far?
Ben Badler: He’s been overshadowed by Buxton and getting off to a slow start in April, but I really like what he’s done. I love his swing, he’s a selective hitter and down the road I think he’s going to have plus power and stay at shortstop. That’s a premium guy.
Jose (Santa Ana): Is Rosell Herrera a real prospect? It seems that he is a product of his home field. He hits over .400 at home and in the .260s on the road and 7 of his 10 Homers are at home and his Homers are hit lefty.
Ben Badler: Asheville’s helping him quite a bit. It’s not all park effects because he’s got some offensive aptitude, but there’s some air in those numbers and I don’t see him staying at shortstop long term.
Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): Since the Rays cannot sign an international for more than $250K this time around, do you think it makes sense for them to trade their slot values for their 1st 2 picks ($527K & $339.5K) to a team looking to move up. What kind of player return could that get?
Ben Badler: It’s an option they have to consider. The problem is I’m not sure how much value they’d be able to get in return for those slot values. They also still have a $2 million international bonus pool, and you can sign a bunch of players you like in the $100K-$250K range who might not be famous guys but were just overlooked for whatever reason, and that can quickly add up. If it were me, unless I was getting a prospect who I really liked in return for those slot values, I’d keep the money and try to be creative with my international signings.
Jim (Texas): Who do you like better as an overall prospect: Gustavo Cabrera or Jairo Beras? Who has a higher ceiling?
Ben Badler: Beras. More confidence in him hitting in games.
Joshua (Chicago, Illinois): What names are the White Sox attached to in the International Market, besides Micker Zapata?
Ben Badler: That’s the main guy right now, and if they get him (which would be my bet), that’s going to take up the majority of their pool space.
Jeff (California): Is Trevor Bauer still considered a top pitching prospect?
Ben Badler: I get the concern over the control issues this year, but he’s a 22-year-old shuttling between Triple-A and the big leagues who’s flashing three plus pitches. This is still very much a potential frontline starter.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions, always enjoy talking baseball with you guys. Now after a long week, it’s off to the gym, then it’s time to pour back a few international drafts of my own. Have a great weekend.