GCL Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler
A chat about Gulf Coast League prospects
can only mean one thing: a whole lot of raw tools, with the word "raw"
underlined, italicized and then underlined again. Let's get to business.
PT (IBC): Bill said in yesterday's chat there
were only 5 or so 'top' prospects in the AZL list and then 20-25 pretty
interchangeable guys. Where's the cutoff in the GCL?
Looking at the Arizona League list, Bill's
right, although maybe he's just spoiled from having Mike Trout or being
the founder of the Rymer Liriano and Starlin Castro fan clubs in recent
years. But, ever since the signing deadline came into place and kept the
top draft picks from playing in the league for more than a handful of
token games, the AZL and GCL tend to be heavy on young, raw Latin
American players and older, more experienced college players who sign
quickly and put up big numbers, which is one of the things that makes
the league tricky to evaluate. For me, there the top eight or so were
the guys who really stood out with a handful of positive reviews from
around the league. After that, there were probably another 20-30 or so
players who have something you like; one or even two plus tools, but
pretty significant risk factors. That's where player development makes
its money, but it's a much flatter spread in talent after the guys in
the first half of the list, even including a lot of guys who didn't make
Dale (Detroit): What is Brenny Paulino's ceiling? Does he have top of the rotation potential?
It's as high as his offspeed stuff will
take him. There wasn't a starter in that league with a better fastball,
and there might even be more in there given his age and body type. In
the DSL last year and even this year, his fastball is so explosive that
he can just blow it by hitters, so he just hasn't had the need to refine
his secondary pitches, but they're making progress. But it's absolutely
a huge arm with a high ceiling.
jcarm (Acworth,GA): Did Sebastian Vader or Juan Guzman of the Orioles get any mention by league managers?
Not so much. From that team, one of the
intriguing guys for me is Jose Nivar. He's a converted OF, couldn't hit,
but he can sit in the mid-90s and I had one report of him hitting 98
mph. He's 22, very raw, but there's arm strength there. Miguel Chalas is
a 5-11 RHP who touched 96 but without great secondary stuff.
Sholom (Smithtown, New York): Do the Mets have any other prospects other than Rafael Montero worth keeping track of in the Gulf Coast League?
Eudy Pina didn't hit, but he's an OF with
raw tools, at least in the field. He's a 70 runner, at least a plus arm,
and he's got some size at 6-3. He's a project, but in terms of raw
tools, he compares pretty favorably to some of the guys in the second
half of the list, just didn't have the offensive production I'd like to
see from a 20-year-old in the GCL.
Sammy (Dallas): How does this year's list compare to last year's?
The top four last year were better, but
other than that, it's pretty comparable. Last year you had Gary Sanchez,
Miguel Sano, Justin O'Conner and Jake Marisnick in the top four, and
Sano and Sanchez were pretty special bats. I like Bichette and Santana
quite a bit, they'll be in the mix for the Top 100, but you won't see
them rank as high as Sano and Sanchez did last year.
@Jaypers413 (IL): How confident are scouts that
Bichette's numbers won't take a dive at full season ball? Is he likely
going to start off at Charleston next April?
Most likely he starts in Charleston.
Everyone I talked to who saw Bichette brought him up as the top guy in
the league. With his approach at the plate and the raw power to back it
up, I don't expect any major issues for him against Low-A pitching.
Kyle (Toronto): Did Dickie Joe Thon make a good impression in the GCL? What does he need to work on?
He did get some attention from some
managers who liked his swing, but man, that's like a Kyle Skipworth type
of strikeout rate in the GCL. Actually, it's a bit worse, and his
ability to make consistent contact at this level is a pretty major red
flag for me.
Carlos (Philly): Any Phillies Latin America Prospects close to making list?
Their shortstop, Gustavo Gonzalez. If you
read our July 2 reports in 2010, you might remember him as Anderson
Gonzalez. Turned out he was older, ended up having his deal totally
re-done, so there's less projection than maybe we thought originally,
but the tools are still the same. His wrist was hurting him in the
beginning of the season, which dragged his numbers down a bit, but he's a
solid hitter and does everything well in the field.
Chris (Pittsburgh): Although it has to be tough
to project a 17 year old, what is Heredia's ceiling? Does he combine
with Taillon and Cole to give the downtrodden Bucs fans hope of three
I love Heredia's potential, but I wouldn't
put him in the class of a guy like Taillon yet. For a kid who's been 17
for about a month, that's about as good of a starter's kit as you can
ask for for a pitching prospect. Taillon, he's sitting mid-90s with a
hammer breaking ball and good control. That stuff you can project at the
top of a rotation easily. Heredia isn't there yet, but there isn't a
kid who's 16 who has that kind of ability. Great arm, and in a year or
two, he might be at that level, I just wouldn't put him in that class
Steven Alengakis (NYC): Hi Ben, I was really
surprised and pleased that the Yankees had 3 players on your Top 1o GCL
list. One player I was wondering about though was their C, Isaias
Tejada. His numbers looked really good, especially as a younger
player.Is he a legitimate prospect? What kind of impression did he make
on GCL managers and scouts? Thank you.
He was in the mix. Was a pretty cheap sign
but he's come a long ways since last year. Solid defensive catcher,
blocks well, average arm, mostly a gap-to-gap guy but showed a bit of
pop this year, pretty solid approach, doesn't chase too much out of the
zone. Pretty pleasant surprise who put himself on the map this year.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Do you see Luis Heredia making his full season ball debut next year, or is he not yet ready?
Those plans aren't set yet, but my bet would be that he needs another year before he hits full-season ball. He's so, so young.
Greg T (London): Were there any other Jays that just missed the Top 20 list?
Arce, Thon were interesting. Santiago
Nessy, the big catcher they signed out of Venezuela, got a little
attention. Big-bodied guy, had a solid year at the plate, just got mixed
reviews on his defense, but at the very least he's already conversant
in English, which is a huge positive to be able to handle a pitching
Bobby (Tampa): Did you get any feedback on any
of the Rays other Supp picks? I was especially curious about James
Harris. Looks like the bat may be a problem, or is he just young? Can
he stay in center? How well does he run? Thanks!
Harris got some attention for his speed and
athleticism. He'll play CF, but the hit tool is a pretty big question
mark right now.
Steve (St. Louis): Do you expect Cardinals pitcher Bryan Martinez to develop into a real prospect down the road?
If he can stay healthy, there's definitely
something there. He had a shoulder injury during extended spring
training that acted up again during the summer and basically knocked out
his year. He's thrown in the low-90s with a plus slider in the past
when he's on though, which says there's at least middle relief
Paul (Santa Clara, CA): Besides the 3 Pirates that made the list, any others get consideration and are worth watching in future years?
Jodaneli Carvajal, he's a plus-plus runner,
very good hands at SS/2B, decent swing, just doesn't have power or
enough refinement at the plate yet, but he's got raw tools. Yhonathan
Barrios won't play up the middle, but he can handle 3B and his offensive
game is more advanced than Carvajal's. The other guy is Gregory
Polanco, who has some physical projection and some interesting tools,
but he still has to figure it out at the plate.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Johnny Eierman and Granden Goetzman get consideration for this list? What did scouts say about both?
Goetzman got a little attention. His debut
didn't inspire much confidence, especially for a guy who's billed as an
advanced hitter with power, then didn't show either one of those skills.
I like Eierman more of those two, but again, questions about the hit
Gerry (Toronto): Happy Birthday!
Did Jacob Anderson have enough AB's to qualify?
Thanks. Not enough ABs to qualify, basically the story of most of the top 2011 draft picks.
Norman (San Jose): what kind of offensive ceiling does Ravel Santana have?
Higher than anyone in the league's other
than Bichette, and from a pure tools standpoint, he had better tools
than anyone in the league. I don't think the pure hit tool right now is
as advanced as the numbers might suggest; there's still some rawness
there against offspeed stuff, but he has a solid approach, makes
adjustments and has 60, maybe even 65 raw power depending who you talk
to. In terms of overall tools and ceiling, I know there's some scouts
who would put Santana ahead of Bichette.
Muggsy (Minneapple): Did the Twins have anyone worth mentioning this year? Angel Mata? Javy Pimentel?
Talked to a handful of guys who saw that
team, but all of them said nothing really stood out for them. Mata's
solid, 88-93, kept the ball down, just didn't have much secondary stuff.
Jorge Polanco is solid at shortstop, but his and Pimentel's bats are
both pretty raw.
Dan (Jacksonville): What did you think of HS draftees Kenneth Peoples-Walls, Lance Jeffries, and CJ McElroy?
Got good defensive reviews on both McElory
and Jeffries, but the bats looked raw (have I reached my limit on using
that phrase yet today?). Of those two, Jeffries stood out a bit more for
having a better approach.
Norberto Paulino (New York, NY): Any other Red Sox guys that just missed the list?
Vinicio and Alcantara were pretty clearly
the top two guys on that team from everyone I talked to. Oscar Perez has
some very good defensive tools, he'll back-pick guys and control a
running game, but the bat just has a long, long ways to go.
jhwl (dc): When do you think Santana and Cardona make it to the majors?
Not soon. When they're in the GCL, there
isn't really a timetable. In a perfect world scenario, maybe Santana
gets there in three years, but more likely it's going to take longer
than that. Longer for Cardona.
Warren (New London): How about Phillies SS Tyler Greene? I thought he played
pretty well except for the strikeouts. Higher or lower ceiling
than the Cardinals Tyler Greene?
He had a solid debut. Gonzalez is probably
ahead of him right now as a prospect, but Greene has a pretty good idea
at the plate for his age. Line-drive approach, uses the opposite field
very well for an 18-year-old, very good speed, just not at Gonzalez's
level as a defender and, again, I'd like to see him be able to make more
contact at the plate.
Avi (New Jersey): Any concerns long tern on Ravel Santana's ankle injury?
It's a setback, but for now I don't see it as a major long-term concern.
Avi (New Jersey): Dante Bichette Jr ranked at
#108 in Baseball America's top 200 draft prospects prior to the draft.
Many people called the Yankess #51 selection a reach. Is it fair to say
he outperformed his projections?
That's probably a fair statement. There
were definitely concerns about whether his hitting style would translate
to pro ball, and I think his debut came as a surprise to a lot of
scouts. Now, dominating the GCL doesn't validate anything, but his
ability to hit and his approach at the plate certainly look better than
some thought before the draft. There wasn't a player in the league who
earned more universal praise than Bichette.
Bill (NYC): Was any other Yankee close to making the list.
Jose Rosario was a small signing but he has
good speed, a solid arm, solid defense at second base and would
probably have played shortstop for most teams, except that the Yankees
also had Claudio Custodio. Very aggressive (sometimes too aggresive at
the plate), more power than Custodio, but the tools are a tick behind
Custudio and he's not quite as refined at the plate. If you want a deep
sleeper, Reynaldo Polanco had a John Lackey ERA but actually has solid
stuff: 90-94, one report of 95, with the potential for an above-average
curveball, but he was mostly a shortstop as an amateur, so he's still
learning how to pitch.
Jack H. (Brooklyn, NY): Do scouts really
consider Dante Bichette Jr. to have plus-plus power? I was down on him
as a number one overall, but it seems like this may have actually been a
The home run totals may not show it, but
pretty much everyone who saw him raved about his raw power, and that
goes back to before he signed as well. The one he hit in the
championship game was a no-doubter to one of the deepest parts of the
Dave (Atlanta): The GCL Braves roster looked
pretty weak, but did any of the team's Latin players such as 1B Aris
Alcantara, OF Felix Marte, or pitchers Jean Carlos Gil and Rafael
From the people I talked to who saw that club, there wasn't much there that excited them.
Petey Pablo (Carrboro): Do you see Eric Arce
starting '12 in full season ball and do the Jays keep him in the
outfield or shift him to first or behind the plate?
I'd expect him in full-season ball after his debut. As of now, I don't see him moving behind the plate.
Thanks everyone for the questions (and the
birthday wishes). We've got Appy and Pioneer League Top 20s the next two
days, which means you get back-to-back Matt Eddy. Hard to beat that!