Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler
The GCL was deeper with prospects this year
than usual thanks to the new CBA, so fire away with questions about
anyone on or off the list.
Josh (Oakland): What was the most positive AND most negative thing you recall hearing of Carlos Correa?
There weren't any major negatives about
him. MAYBE he gets so big that he outgrows shortstop and slides over to
third base, but frankly, people liked him at shortstop and they think
he's going to stay there. The most positive is that the upside here is
of a perennial all-star in the middle of the diamond with potential
pluses for the hit and power tools. Potentially special player.
Dave (Atlanta): Did any of the other Braves Latin players (Andry Ubiera, Abraham Espinosa, Joey Meneses, Robinson Arno) impress?
Jorge Montenegro is the guy to watch. He'll
pitch at 92-94 mph and touch 96 with flashes of a promising curveball.
The control is a long ways away, but it's a big arm with middle relief
PT (IBC): Why did the Jays shut down Adonys Cardona? Also how is Wuilmer Becerra doing? I heard he got hit in the face with a pitch.
He had some arm soreness, so the Blue Jays
decided to limit his workload. He'll get it up to 96, but the breaking
ball has been an issue since before he signed, so I don't feel
comfortable projecting anything beyond a reliever, and even that
involves a great deal of projection. Becerra did get hit in the face
with a pitch, broke his jaw and and had surgery. Scary stuff, but
thankfully it sounds like he's recovering and they're planning to ease
him back into things at instructional league.
Allan (Wisconsin): Ben, so we can expect Correa, Buxton, Ruiz, DJ Davis to be playing the full year in the Midwest league in 2013?
The Twins tend to be conservative, so it
wouldn't surprise me if they held Buxton back in extended spring for a
month or so, but he and Correa are advanced enough to open the year in
the Midwest League. My bet is Davis starts there too, but his bat's not
nearly as polished as Buxton's or Correa's.
And I just realized I left out Ruiz, but yes, he should be there as well.
PT (IBC): Which side of the fence are you on with Tocci? Frame too narrow or room to put on 20-30 pounds?
As long as the Phillies put him on a proper
strength training program and he's dedicated to it (and to shoveling
down calories), then he should be able to add plenty of weight and
strength. The swing is generally sound, the approach is outstanding, but
there just isn't much impact right now when he does barrel the ball.
It's not going to happen next year, and it might not happen for a few
more years, but once he does add strength, there's huge breakout
gerry (Toronto): Yeyfry Del Rosario of the Jays
had a better K rate than Tirado with a comparable WHIP and BB:K rate.
was he close to the list? What separates him from Tirado?
I like Del Rosario, but Tirado's stuff is
better. Del Rosario is an outstanding strike thrower for his age, but
he's pitching around 88-90, touching 92 with some feel for a changeup
and a curveball that's his third-best pitch right now. He's extremely
polished for his age and does a lot of little things well like holding
runners and feeling his position, but Tirado's stuff is just a better
bet to play at higher levels.
Ben (Leland Grove): What was the word on Dylan Cozens, specifically his makeup? Was he close to making your list?
He came a little better than expected. Huge
power (that wasn't a surprise) both to his pull side and to the
opposite field. The stiffness to his swing and the very limited
defensive value are concerns, but the power is a potential carrying
@Jaypers413 (IL): Did any other Cardinals come close to making the cut, specifically Silfredo Garcia?
Not really. Luis Perez repeated the league,
but he was switching positions from C to play some 2B and OF. He's not a
big guy, but he's got strong hands, wrists and forearms to generate bat
speed, so the bat head just flies and he can hit good fastballs. I
don't think there's big ceiling there, but he could surprise some
PT (IBC): What can you tell us about Miguel Andujar? It's pretty unusual for the Yankees to bring a guy that young straight to the GCL.
Guys like Andujar, Dawel Lugo, Harold
Ramirez and some of the other 17-year-old international signings making
their pro debuts are always hard to evaluate in this league. He didn't
look overmatched, but he also looked like he would have benefited from
spending the year in the Dominican Summer League. He's got the hand-eye
coordination to make contact and a projectable body, but he just didn't
stand out for the guys around the league who saw him this year.
Morrie (NJ): If you stacked up this list against last year's, which one wins? Thanks Ben.
This year, easily. The past few years, all
the high draft picks or the guys who slid due to signability held out
until mid-August to sign and only threw a couple of innings or had a
handful of plate appearances in the league, if they played at all. This
year's group was a significant step up.
Matt (Bathroom): Rookie leagues were loaded with some great athletes this year... who were the guys you enjoyed watching most?
Most of the work is done talking to scouts,
but Buxton was an exciting player to watch in person this year. I
didn't see the in-game power in person, but there's terrific bat speed,
pretty good pitch recognition and an idea of the strike zone and he just
flies down the line to first.
Robert Haight (Grand Rapids, Michigan): Did the Tigers have anyone else who was impressive outside of the top 20? Thank you.
Jose Valdez is a reliever with a power arm,
sitting 93-95 and touching 97. He's an older guy for the league and
he's wild, but the arm strength caught some people's attention.
Feng (New York): Were there any considerations for blue jays pitchers from this year's draft like Chase De Jong or Tyler Gonzalez?
Their Dominican pitchers drew more chatter
than their draft picks. I talked about Tirado and Del Rosario earlier,
but Jairo Labourt is definitely a guy to watch, and I'd probably
sandwich him in between Tirado and Del Rosario grading them out as
prospects. He's 88-92, touching 94 from the left side and a good
curveball. The changeup is still raw and he needs to learn to repeat his
delivery, but he's got two good weapons with his fastball and his
Mick (Chicago): I remember reading highly of
shortstop Tyler Gibson drafted by Detroit a couple years ago. He has all
above average tools and very promising. Yet he played leftfield and
struck out a ton this past year. Any hope for him, and is there any way
he goes back to short or plays centerfield considering his tools?
The bat is extremely raw. Major issues with the swing are getting exploited in pro ball.
Justin (Toronto): Thoughts on Dawel Lugo and Gabriel Cenas at the plate? Did anything stand out, good or bad?
Lugo more than Cenas. The numbers don't
show it, but Lugo is a gifted hitter whose natural hand-eye coordination
is as much of a gift as it is a curse because he ends up swinging the
bat way too much at pitches he has no business trying to hit. That's
always been the book on him. If the Blue Jays can get him to stop
chasing so many pitches, he could be a breakout guy, because he has the
ability to barrel the ball up and do damage when he gets a good pitch to
hit. His defense also got better reviews this year than last year. He
still may end up moving to third base, but there's a reasonable chance
he stays at short.
Ben (Conway, AR): Ben, I have to say I'm surprised that neither Ty Hensley nor Austin Aune made the list. Did Ty not have enough innings?
Hensley didn't throw enough innings to
qualify for the list. Aune was disappointing. He's athletic and the
numbers weren't terrible, but the bat is still very crude.
Dan (TO): I was pretty shocked when the Pirates
decided to give up on Stetson Allie as a pitcher and try him as a
hitter. What are scouts saying about Stetson Allie the hitter?
NP for me.
Dave (Atlanta): Merejo tailed off in the second half of the season after a strong start. Did he just wear down in his first pro season?
Sounds like the velo was about the same
from start to finish, so I don't think he wore down. Hell of a sign by
the Braves and a guy who should move quickly.
Michael (WV): Tyler Glasnow is really
intriguing to me. His overall package and story reminds me a lot of
Noah Syndergaard. Glasnow doesn't seem to have quite the prospects
status that Syndergaard did after his first year, but the similarities
are striking. Huge projectable high school pitcher, velocity spike,
dominant first year. Now Syndergaard is ahead in that his velocity
reportedly spiked even more (reports of triple digits) and that he was
promoted and dominated short season ball and even had a successful late
season Low-A trial. That said, how do Glasnow and Syndergaard compare?
The similarities you pointed to are fair.
Big, projectable righthanders with power fastballs, curveballs that
flash plus but need more consistency and good feel for throwing strikes,
especially for their age and size, though Syndergaard is ahead of
Glasnow in that department right now. He's not going to be much longer
after we just put him out there at the top pitching prospect in the GCL,
but he's one of the more underrated pitching prospects in the minors.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Had he qualified, about where would J.O. Berrios have fit in on your list? Do scouts see a SP or RP in him?
Somewhere in the 4-6 range. I think he can start.
PT (IBC): Any latin guys that didn't have enough PA/IP to qualify catch your eye?
Generally if the Latin American players
were in the league, they got enough playing time to qualify because they
were there from the start. One exception would be Wuilmer Becerra,
whose season ended early because he got hit in the face with a fastball.
He's a toolsy kid who was generating some buzz during extended spring
and early in the season before his injury.
Michael (WV): Personally, I've pegged Dilson
Herrera as the "next" Alen Hanson. There is no way to guarantee a
breakout like Hanson had in the SAL this year, but is a similar breakout
a reasonable expectation for Herrera, even if it's not the most likely
outcome or was Hanson just a much better prospect coming out of the GCL?
Hanson's more athletic and a better runner
than Herrera, but at the plate, I know scouts who saw both of them at
the same age who thought Herrera was the more advanced, more naturally
rhythmic hitter than Hanson. The power is also a step ahead of where
Hanson's was last year, so yeah, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a
big breakout in the next couple of years for Herrera.
Marlins Fan (Miami): Kolby Copeland. Anything special or too early to tell?
I love the pure swing and the way the bat
travels through the zone, but there are definite tweener questions with
him. But I'll take that profile over the power guy with hit tool
questions any day.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Ben, thank you for
the chat today. He didn't have enough innings to qualify, but where
would Lance McCullers Jr. have placed on this list?
He'd be in the Top 10. I see the arm
strength that everyone loves, but the arm action does concern me to have
reservations about his long-term health.
Rafa (Los Angeles): I know you liked Teoscar Hernandez before the season. Was he in the 21-30 range?
If the league had the depth of 2011 instead
of 2012, Hernandez is a guy who would've crept into the back of the
list. He's got plenty of tools; plus run, maybe a 70 arm and he's got
good raw power, but he's still learning to manage his at-bats and take
it to games. The good thing with him is I think it's more about making a
few tweaks rather than a dramatic overhaul to take a step forward with
the bat. He didn't make the list, but there's still quite a bit to like
ttnorm (Connecticut): Hi Ben, Was Felix Jorge close to making the list?
He was another tough cut. He doesn't have
as much arm strength as Frank Montas, but he has two good pitches in his
fastball and his curveball and a sound delivery, so he's got a chance
to be a solid starter.
DH (Pittsburgh): Any health concerns for Ruiz going forward?
Sure, I think any time you have injuries
pop up, it raises the risk factor. I'm not putting an injury-prone label
on him, but it's definitely something to monitor.
Rod in Seattle (Shill for BA): What can you tell us about the Phillies' pick Zach Green?
The debut was solid and he'll show you
above-average power at times, but there's a lot going on for him to get
started with his swing, which is why he might look great on one pitch,
then get tied up and overmatched the next. If he can quiet down some of
the movement and learn the strike zone a little bit better, then you've
got an interesting guy, but there's a lot of work to be done.
Michael (WV): The Pirates had 2 players make
their professional debut stateside, a very rare occurrence for the
Pirates. Neither Harold Ramirez nor Elvis Escobar made the top 20 and
neither had huge statistical years either. That said, both held their
own. How close were they to making the top 20 and do you have any
information on the two young outfielders?
Neither did too much to stand out to anyone
I talked to outside the organization who saw them, but that wasn't
surprising, since the Pirates were much higher on both guys than any
other team last year too when they signed them. Then again, nobody was
clamoring much about Alen Hanson or Gregory Polanco until this year
JR (Iowa): How many on this list do you think might make the top 100 overall prospects list?
Buxton and Correa are locks. Davis has a chance to be in the discussion, but I would probably leave him off.
Steve (Dunedin): Ben, to you and the scouts you've talked to, how has Jesus Gonzalez progressed this season?
He's come as advertised: Cannon arm, plus
raw power and a whole bunch of problems making contact. He looks great
in BP, but he has to learn to take that same swing with him to the
games, especially when the pitches start to bend.
Thanks for the questions today. Matt Eddy's here tomorrow with the Appalachian League Top 20. I'll catch you guys soon.