League Top 20 Prospects

Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Q:  Oscar from Santa Ana, Ca asks:
How fast do you see Luis Jimenez moving through the syatem? What is his ceiling and does he favorably comp to an adrian beltre type player?

Ben Badler: Hello everyone, exhaustion is setting in from finishing the last of our league Top 20 lists today, but it's good to be here. Someone called me today to wish me a happy early birthday. And I'm glad she called, because I'm fairly certain I would have otherwise forgotten that my birthday is in two days, when I turn an age that is somewhere in the Tim Beckham-to-Timo Perez age bracket. So yeah, kind of a busy time of year for us.

Ben Badler: I don't seem Jimenez on the fast track. There's tools and ceiling there, but he'll have to be more patient or the pitchers at higher levels are going to eat him up. There's definitely some ceiling there, but he still has a fair amount to learn. The Beltre comp isn't totally fair to Jimenez because Beltre was so good at such a young age. I mean, when Beltre was Jimenez's age, he was already putting up a league-average OPS in the big leagues.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL` asks:
Hi Ben. Is Rosario is a better overall prospect than Jesus Montero, or just behind the plate?

Ben Badler: Just behind the plate. I like Rosario's hitting and he made tremendous strides this season at the plate, but Montero has a special bat.

 Q:  Kevin from Billings, MT asks:
Alex Buchholz left off list? I watched a lot of games and he had the most advanced bat in the league. Any reason he was left off?

Ben Badler: Buchholz was hurt a lot of the year, so he didn't rack up a lot of playing time. I wouldn't go gaga over 134 at-bats in the Pioneer League, since it's really just 5-6 good weeks in a league that college hitters tend to dominate in a high-offensive environment. But I don't mean that as a knock on Buchholz in any way, I'm more trying to emphasize the importance of keeping the sample of the performance record in perspective. Frankly, there are about 10 or so guys who missed the cut who have a pretty good argument for being on the list, and Buchholz is one of those guys. He could be an offensive-minded second baseman, so his progress next season in a full-season league will be interesting to track.

 Q:  BL from Bozeman, MT asks:
Hi Ben, thanks for the chat. I'm not surprised Idaho Falls didn't have anyone in the top 20... was there anything good going on with that club at all this summer?

Ben Badler: Sean McCauley was close, a 19-year-old catcher with good catch-and-throw skills and a guy who improved at the plate this season. He tore a quad and that ended his season a little early, but he blocks balls well behind the plate. He was a little more pull-oriented with his swing earlier in the season but started using the entire field more as the season wore on.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Would Neftali Soto have ranked # 1 if he were eligible?

Ben Badler: Tough call, since guys didn't get much of a look at him in the Pioneer League this season. He'd certainly be in that top three, though I might still stick Rosario and Dykstra ahead of him.

 Q:  Brett from The ILL asks:
With his zize, build, athleticism, stuff, and extreme jump in performance once in the pros, Dexter Carter seems like someone who could really blossom in the next year or so. So do you think he's a candidate to build upon this breakout performance, and further improve? Also, where do you suspect he'll start next year?

Ben Badler: There are a lot of interesting stories in the Pioneer League, and Carter is no exception. Kudos to the Great Falls staff for helping him iron out his mechanics, as that seems to have helped him throw more strikes and help him build a solid foundation. He could break out next season and continue to build on that foundation, but he also gets a good number of 4th/5th starter and swingman projections, so there's a fair amount of variance in his projection. I'd imagine he'll start in Kannapolis next season.

 Q:  Steve from Latrobe, PA asks:
Where would Eric Hosmer rank if he was eligible? Also, any fears that his contract could be voided as a result of the Boras-Pirates conflict?

Ben Badler: Numero uno. Sorry, I checked out on that whole saga a while ago. Evaluating baseball talent is far more interesting to me than trying to bear down on a sports arbitration case... I spent enough time doing that in college.

 Q:  ScottAz from Phx, AZ asks:
I haven't heard much about Flash Gordon's kid. Who does he most closely resemble in the Bigs?

Ben Badler: Understandable that you haven't heard much, given that he didn't play this spring because he couldn't qualify academically for his junior college. Give a lot of credit to the Dodgers for picking up Gordon in the 4th round though. There were some scouts who raised an eyebrow when LA picked him that high, especially since there were scouts in that area who didn't see him even in workouts this year. But he's an outstanding athleticism and speed, so he has the tools to be a good shortstop once he gets himself more under control. Who does he closely resemble? No one, not right now. He weighs 150, maybe 155 pounds. He's just weak, and I don't mean that in a bad way, because he's just going to fill out his frame naturally and get stronger. If they re-did the draft today, I don't think he'd get past the third round again.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
How does the power of Kyle Russell or Pedro Baez stack up against last year's Pioneer League slugger prospect of Mike Moustakas?

Ben Badler: It compares favorably, if we're talking just about raw power. But Moustakas' power plays better in games and is a way better prospect. I don't mind if you're a power hitter and you strike out a lot, but Russell's extreme propensity for the strikeout is scary. Take a look at the players in the big leagues right now who are high strikeout guys... you'll see that even they didn't whiff that much in the minors.

 Q:  Herminio from Puerto Rico asks:
What happened with Reynaldo Navarro?? Is his stock going down and does he projects as a SS or 2B?

Ben Badler: A little bit down, since he ranked on the list last year, but he's a guy with a good case to have cracked the 20 this year. He's still young, he's got defensive tools, but the reviews I got on his defense this year were not encouraging. It sounds like the range is still there, but the arm might be a little short. I think he will start next year in the Midwest League, which is good for a 19-year-old. He's added some strength, but just how much growth potential he has is up in the air right now.

 Q:  BaseballNumbers from Naperville, IL asks:
Currently playing SS. Didn't turn 19 until midway through the season (making hin the 5th youngest hitter in the league). Advanced plate discipline and posted a .798OPS in one of the league's toughest hitter's parks. So why no love for Darwin Perez?

Ben Badler: Another close cut, but those who saw him this year saw his projection as more of a utility player. The hands work well, he'll make the athletic play and he moves well around the bag, but doesn't have the foot speed you see from most shortstops. But you're right that he was young and does have a good feel for the strike zone, so maybe he ends up beating those projections if he can drive the ball with some more authority.

 Q:  Andy from VA asks:
Ben, thanks for the chat. I know the White Sox minor league system is far from the top. Will pitchers Dexter Carter & Dan Hudson rank in the top 10 prospects for Chicago next season? Both had outstanding years in the Pioneer league.

Ben Badler: It's very possible, though that says more about the state of the White Sox' farm system. Those aren't top 10 guys in nearly any other system.

 Q:  Alex from Atlanta asks:
There were rumblings of a DSL/VSL top 20/10 list last year. Are we ever gonna see something like that?

Ben Badler: Ah, international questions, the one way to get me to stray from Pioneer League questions... The rumblings are growing louder this year. I just finished cranking out our Pioneer and Southern League Top 20 lists. Give me a good night's sleep and then I'm going to get going on a review of this year's international signing class, a review of last year's and then I hope to do something on players in the DSL and VSL this season. If not a top 20 list like we normally do, then at least a Beta version that takes a look at some of the top prospects from those leagues who could leap to the radar next year in the US.

 Q:  Richard Smiley from Chicago, IL asks:
Ben — I enjoyed your write-up. Did Tyler Kuhn receive any consideration for the list?

Ben Badler: Thanks for the kind words. He did, though he probably slots into that 21-30 range. Doesn't have the tools that blow anyone away (that's why you tend to get picked in the 15th round), but his performance was excellent, so he'll have a chance to prove it next year outside of rookie ball.

 Q:  Craig from AZ asks:
I was surprised not to see Orem's Gabriel Jacobo on your top 20. He batted well over .300 over six weeks, and then duplicated the feat in low-single-A. Based on his performance in the Midwest League, isn't he a de facto Top 20 prospect, despite how the managers voted?

Ben Badler: Well the rankings are far from a straight poll of managers. I talk to scouts and anyone else I can who has seen these players this year, although 1.) they play in Montana and Wyoming, so teams have fewer scouts up there and 2.) most teams do the bulk of their scouting on these guys either at instructs or next year in either extended spring or full-season ball, especially because they can't trade for most of these players anyway. But Jacobo is definitely on the radar (he ranked fourth in the Alaska League last year), with some power and athleticism, but the strike-zone discipline isn't there yet, so he's another 21-30 guy right now.

 Q:  Travis from AZ asks:
What do you make of Bryan Casey, only had 1 or 2 bad outings. And only 14 months of 18 month rehab from Tommy John Surgery.

Ben Badler: Solid guy, throws strikes, commands his stuff and was the best pitcher on that Idaho Falls team this year. He works with a fastball, curve and changeup, but the curveball isn't there yet.

 Q:  from asks:
On Hosmer, albeit a small sample, what specifically impressed Pioneer scouts/managers about him? In the few games he did play, his numbers suggest he certainly wasn't overmatched.

Ben Badler: Crazy power, feel for hitting, hung in well against lefties. His performance, however, means absolutely nothing. Without a doubt the best player to play in that league this year.

 Q:  Carl from Cape Cod asks:
I realize Roberto Lopez (23) was old for the league, but the guy raked! Was he just a case of a college kid dominating a low level?

Ben Badler: Your question says it all, a college hitter with a good idea of the strike zone who beat up on rookie ball pitching in a high offensive environment. I'll give him credit, he had an outstanding season, but guys felt like he could be pitched to inside if he ran into a guy who could throw at least 90 mph. We're talking about a guy who hit three home runs in four years and USC and hit 14 in 67 games in the Pioneer League, which tells you all you need to know about Pioneer League stats. He keeps his hands unusually low and he's limited defensively, but it's certainly at least a nice surprise when you draft a team that low and he performs the way he did. And apparently he speaks English, Spanish and some French, in addition to being a fairly talented pianist, so there's certainly some aptitude there.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
Why'd they decide to move Cutter from the infield? I thought 2nd wouldve been a more natural move, but did they stick him in the OF to be like his dad?

Ben Badler: The Brewers didn't move Dykstra there, he moved there his senior year of high school. His defensive skills play better in center field, but he's new to the position so he's still learning to gain feel for the position. The early reviews sound encouraging, given that he has already shown the ability to make some stellar plays out there.

 Q:  Matt from Phoenix, AZ asks:
What is the report on Bobby Stone? He hit better down the stetch and is only 18.

Ben Badler: Power and good arm strength, but didn't show the feel for hitting that would have gotten him on the list. He's young though, so he's got time.

 Q:  Mark from Webster, Wisconsin asks:
Ben, Out of relievers Harden, Shaw, Kohn, and Peralta are any of them moving to the rotation? Also which of them project best as future closers? Mark

Ben Badler: Kohn's arm action and two-pitch mix is going to keep him in the bullpen, and Peralta's repetoire and medical are probably going to keep him in the bullpen as well. But the Diamondbacks are probably going to have some internal discussions about the best course of action for Harden and Shaw. As much as I can say without having ever seen any of them pitch, my preference would be to develop them both as starters, given that they have the foundation in their repertoires to possibly stick as starters, especially given what Harden did when the D-Backs finally unleashed him in the rotation. Best closer candidate? Probably Shaw or Peralta, since they have the stuff that plays up better in the bullpen than as starters.

 Q:  Kyle from San Diego asks:
Dykstra ahead of Soto!!?? If we are talking age and performance, I think the nod would have to go to Soto. Not only did Soto dominate the Pioneer, he maintained it at Dayton, including the playoffs. Maybe it's not a knock against Soto, but why so bullish on Dykstra?

Ben Badler: I reserve the right to change my mind on that one, mostly because Soto didn't play much in that league so guys in the league saw him less. No. 3 is not a knock on Soto—Dykstra was a higher draft pick, is a great athlete with tools, he performed well and should play a more premium position than Soto. I talked to one person who wasn't crazy about Soto's bat speed, but that's just one opinion, not gospel, that needs to be weighted in a pool of many opinions. All of the top six guys in that league have considerable ceiling, including Soto.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
After Buchholz and Soto, were there any Billings prospects of note?

Ben Badler: Clayton Schunick got whacked around, but it sounds like he was just tired after his season at NC State and was probably their best pitching prospect. Byron Wiley had a disappointing college season but put himself back on the radar after a nice pro debut.

 Q:  Matthew from Colorado Springs, Colo. asks:
In about three to five years, will Wilin Rosario be the Rockies starting catcher or will Ianneta still be it.

Ben Badler: Ianneta. I'll defer to the big leaguer over the 19-year-old kid in rookie ball. I ranked Rosario No. 1, and while 3-5 years certainly isn't an unreasonable timetable for him, he's not a guy who should be rushed.

Ben Badler: Thanks for joining us today. College superguru Aaron Fitt is on deck to quench your thirst for New York-Penn League knowledge tomorrow.