Ben Badler: Welcome. Let’s begin.
Ben (Leland Grove): Towers was quoted recently as saying he doesn't anticipate the need to bring up Bradley. Just a bluff, or is he not yet ready?
Ben Badler: He’s the best pitching prospect in the minors, but no, he’s not ready at all. The control still needs work.
Sam (New York): Thoughts on Wilmer Flores debut? Do the Mets find a place for him next season?
Ben Badler: I like him and I’d like to see him get a chance to play everyday in the big leagues next year, I just don’t know where you can put him if you’re the Mets. Best-case scenario, he performs well the rest of the season and becomes a very attractive, major league-ready trade chip.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Maybe playing in only three games during the week kept him out but 17-year-old Francisco Mejia's three games were pretty impressive: 12-5-7-7 with a double and three homers. When he signed in 2012 BA said his arm grades out as a 70 but "his hitting may need some time to develop". His 4 homers, 9 doubles and 876 are pretty good start at his development.
Ben Badler: Absolutely. Knew he had a terrific arm, but the bat has been a very pleasant surprise.
Stephen A (Chicago): Is Bryant's bat good enough that he could see Wrigley next season?
Ben Badler: Doubtful. 2015 is more likely.
David (Bethlehem, PA): If Tomohiro Anraku was eligible for the 2014 MLB Draft, were would he rank? More realistic question - if he opts to sign with an MLB club over enter the NPB Draft, how much money could he command in the current international FA system?
Ben Badler: It’s a little early to comment on where he’d stack up relative to next year’s draft class, but he turns 17 in November, which means if he were born in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela, he’d be in this year’s July 2 signing class. Just on talent, he would be by far the No. 1 player in the class. I don’t think I’ve ever covered a 16-year-old international signing who threw harder than 94, and even at that level questions start to pop up about age or PEDs. But Anraku is a true 16-year-old and he’s already hitting 97. Every time I watch him pitch I have to remind myself that he’s still just 16. The workload is a concern for teams–some of them have told me they wouldn’t consider signing him because of the way he’s been used–but on talent, he’d absolutely push the spending limits of the system.
David (Bethlehem, PA): Masahiro Tanaka (age 24) won again today - he's 17-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 130 K and 22 BB in 158 IP on the year in NPB. If he's posted, where do you think he'll rank in the Top 100?
Ben Badler: Easily top 20. That’s being conservative.
Kyle (Dallas, TX): There's a fair amount of clamoring by Astros fans to let Springer at least get his feet wet next month. Do you concur?
Ben Badler: If the Astros were playoff contenders and they had a spot to put him, sure, but it doesn’t make sense to bring him up now. He’s not on the 40-man roster and the Astros are done. If anything, the Astros should be trying to lose as many games as they can to get the No. 1 pick in the draft and the biggest international pool space for 2014.
Andrew (Chicago): Will the White Sox be in on Abreu?
Ben Badler: They do love their power bats and athletes, although the athleticism is a little . . . um . . . did I mention he has 70 raw power?
Dave (Palm Bay): Sano's Jekyl and Hyde approach has me worried. After another season of results, how would you grade his risk?
Ben Badler: The strikeouts are a concern, but the bat speed and the power is special. If he was just up there hacking, I’d have a bigger red flag here, but even if he ends up being a guy who hits .260, he’s patient enough to take his walks and the power is obviously there. I’d take Bogaerts over Sano because there is less risk, but Sano does enough other things well that it alleviates some of the swing-and-miss issues.
Izzy (Va): In the lower levels young pitchers who might have a good breaking ball are cometimes told to relie on it less to improve their other pitches or fastball command. Is there some analogous restrictions for hitters, say mandating that they take the first pitch to improve thrir recognition?
Ben Badler: Some organizations at times have told certain hitters not to swing at the first pitch, yes. I’m not a big fan of that, barring an extreme circumstance. Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.
Nick (Asheville): David Dahl looks to be out for the year at this point after a great first season. Can he rebound from from the attitude problems, lost season, and injury? Does he repeat Low_A?
Ben Badler: Very disappointing year, but I do think he bounces back.
Bryn (Grand Forks, ND): Addison Russell is in high A and has put up great numbers despite being only 19. On the other hand Buxton also in high A is putting up a slightly better average but other then that is there a whole lot that separate the two as far as rankings go? Russell should stay at SS so I would think he might have a little more long term value? Should Russell be maybe top 10 next year?
Ben Badler: Buxton has a chance for five legitimate plus tools, an MVP-type guy who could be one of the top offensive center fielders in the game and win a Gold Glove. Russell’s a Top 20 prospect himself, but he’s pretty easily below Buxton, and I’m a big Russell fan. If Russell goes and tears up Double-A next year, yeah, absolutely a Top 10 guy.
Mike (Phoenix): Is Alex Reyes the next big pitching name to come from the production line that is the Cards farm system?
Ben Badler: Yes. Not the same high-octane fastball you’ll see from a lot of their arms, but the stuff is legit and he has a repeatable delivery that helps him throw strikes.
Roger (Greenville, SC): Not promoting Springer is just on the legal side of "trying to lose as many games as possible." There is a point where tanking invokes the wrath of Selig.
Ben Badler: Some front office officials refer to the system as “competitive imbalance.” As long as you have an amateur signing process for players that rewards bad major league teams who are usually bad on account of their own decision-making, I say tank away.
BB (Hagerstown, MD): Who's more likely to start next yr in the majors: Rafeal Montero, Erik Johnson, Yordano Ventura, or James Nelson?
Ben Badler: Ventura, Montero and Johnson should all be there, with that order in terms of impact. I’m not at optimistic on Nelson.
Howard (Freeport, ME): Name one farm that has risen up the organization rankings the most this year and one farm that has fallen the furthest.
Ben Badler: Rising: Cubs. Falling: Rangers, although a lot of that is due to graduations and trades.
Peter (Toronto): No love for Dillon Maples?
Ben Badler: He’s been much better lately, but part of that just shows the gap between the Northwest League and Low-A.
Tommy (Pittsburgh): Ben- what is your overall opinion on Billy Hamilton? Are you encouraged by his improved hitting the past month or two (albeit lackluster OBP for a potential leadoff hitter) and chalking up his first half to adjusting to AAA, or are you in the camp of evaluators who think his hit tool will never develop to an everyday productive leadoff hitter level?
Ben Badler: Can I be somewhere in between? One of the encouraging things we saw from Hamilton last year was that he was showing the patience to work the count and get on base by any means necessary. More advanced pitchers are starting to attack him in the strike zone and the walks are disappearing, which is concerning because for a guy with minimal power, he has to be able to take his walks. There’s still potential for him to get back to that approach that allows him to be a productive offensive player, but I’d like to see him at least start next year by repeating Triple-A.
Mike (NYC): Will Oscar Taveras repeat AAA next year, given that he was active for less than two months?
Ben Badler: As long as he’s healthy by the start of the season and they save a spot for him in the outfield, I’d put him straight on the big league roster. It’s a shame he was blocked this year and then had to deal with the injuries, otherwise he’d be a legitimate rookie of the year candidate. There’s not really any development left that he needs in Triple-A.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions today. Even if I didn’t get to them, it’s good to know what you guys want to know more about for future Prospect Notebooks and other stories. We’re busy putting together our league top 20 lists right now, so I’ve got to run and make some scout calls for those lists. Have a great weekend.