Oakland Athletics: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler

Oakland Athletics: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

Ben Badler: Hi everyone. We're talking today about one of the best farm systems in baseball, with two premium pitching prospects, the team's highest draft pick in a decade, a plethora of prospects acquired from other organizations, two guys who have hit 100 mph, a few guys with big power and contact issues and one of the best 16-year-old Latin American pitchers in recent memory.... so I'll just assume all of us are in agreement on how to rank these players, right? Cue the queue!

 Q:  Steven M from New York asks:
I really like Aaron Cunningham... Do you see him starting for OAK and what's his ceiling? Love the chats!!
 A: 

Ben Badler: He might start 2009 back in Triple-A, but in time I see him being an average to above-average outfielder. He can hit 20 homers a year, which is around the 50th percentile for a big league corner outfielder, he puts the ball in play with enough frequency and draws enough walks to have a good OBP. So even if he's not a center fielder and ends up moving to left, which I think he will, he'll somewhat negate the loss of the CF positional advantage because he'll be an above-average defender in left. I mean, Carl Crawford and Matt Holliday aside, have you seen the lugs most teams trot out to try to play LF? A player like Carlos Lee gives back so many runs on defense that he's nowhere near worth his contract.

 Q:  Hagan from Charleston, Illinois asks:
Will Andrew Bailey stay in the bull pen after a horrible season starting or is there hope that he will go back to being a starter?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I think he has a knack for the bullpen. His numbers as a reliever were drastically different from his performance as a starter, both in Triple-A and the AFL. He throws across his body and generates excellent natural cutting life on his fastball, which chews up lefties and righties, and he works it to both sides of the plate. The bullpen is a good fit for him.

 Q:  Bill from Boston asks:
I'm a bit confused... is it Michel Inoa or Michael Inoa?
 A: 

Ben Badler: The A's say he's going to go by Michael, so that's what we're going with from now on. The documents I have from his agency and the Born to Play Sports academy, where he trained in the Dominican Republic, refer to him in writing as both Michael and Michel, which is why we've written it both ways now, and the scouts I talk with in the DR refer to him by both pronunciations. Whatever he wants to go by is fine with me. If he wants to be called T-Bone, I'll call him T-Bone. But Michael it is.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Hi, Ben. Was being out for the year with TJ the main reason Fautino missed the list this time? How would you rate his mechanics as opposed to the arms who did make the list?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Yes, Tommy John surgery is a huge markdown for me when ranking prospects, since the pitcher has shown an inability to stay healthy, might not regain his stuff or his command and will miss a year and in reality often more of crucial developmental time. It's a sliding scale for each year a pitcher is removed from TJ, but even years down the line I'll apply a penalty. In Fautino's case, he just started his throwing program, he'll probably start throwing live BP and bullpens in spring training and the aim is for him to be back in live minor league games by June. So he'll get a couple of months in 2009, but really we probably won't know what's still there by 2010. There are some things he does well with his mechanics, but he also tends to get a bit out of control with his delivery, which causes him to fall off toward first base.

 Q:  Daniel from Missouri asks:
Where does Brett Anderson rank among the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball?
 A: 

Ben Badler: He's up there, probably No. 2 behind David Price. Madison Bumgarner and Brian Matusz are a tick below, and Gio's not far behind either. Danny Duffy and Will Smith are two other lefties who I think could shoot up prospect charts next year.

 Q:  Robert Wagner from Alameda, CA asks:
Any love for Craig Italiano? He was lights out in the Midwest League before his dismal showing at Stockton, and he was rated as having the best breaking pitch in Midwest League.
 A: 

Ben Badler: He's in the back-end of the 30 (it's a deep system!). Control, health, mechanics and stuff all point to a likely bullpen arm, but he's been up to 96 with a hard curveball. My bet is they keep him as a starter, probably see if they can stretch him out to 140-150 innings, given that he only threw 100 this year.

 Q:  Keith from Fort Dix NJ asks:
Henry Rodriguez has great stuff... What do you think of his future with A's? Thanks
 A: 

Ben Badler: His fastball is great, he pumps it in at 98-99 consistently out of the bullpen, but he's still fairly raw in terms of his delivery, his control and his secondary options. He has closer upside, but he's almost certainly a reliever now and comes with a good amount of risk.

 Q:  Rick from Amherst asks:
I have to say that I was a little surprized Anderson was over Cahill. I assume it must have been close. What gave the edge to Anderson?
 A: 

Ben Badler: You could put Cahill over Anderson and I wouldn't quibble, since we're talking about two of the top five pitching prospects in the game. What separated Anderson above Cahill for me were a couple of small things. One is that Anderson had better present command. Cahill also cuts off extension sometimes in the front of his delivery, which puts more strain his back and the back of his shoulder, and then he tweaked his back at the Olympics. Any health problem, no matter how small, counts. Not that I'm too concerned, though. Do you prefer steak or lobster?

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
No Sean Doolittle in the top ten? I'm assuming that he came close. Do you see him becoming more of a Doug Mientkiewicz or John Olerud type when he makes it to the big leagues?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Yes, I have him at No. 11 right now and originally submitted him in the top 10; in a lot of systems, he's a top 5-7 guy, maybe even higher in some organizations. Again, it's a deep, deep system. Those comps were what Doolittle got coming out of college, when he was a more contact-oriented hitter, but as a pro he's had a complete overhaul to his offensive game. Now that he doesn't have to pitch any more like he did at Virginia, he bulked up, added some power, and became a high-power, low-contact hitter, which the Cal League rewards. Frankly, I'm not quite sure what to expect, but ideally he reverts somewhat to the disciplined approach he showed in college because striking out in more than a quarter of your PAs in A-ball is a red flag for me.

 Q:  Eric from California asks:
Hi Ben, Great list. Obviously you ranked Anderson ahead of Cahill because at the current time Anderson has exhibited better control but long term which player do you think has the most upside and why?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Cahill might have a tick more upside because of the confluence of strikeout stuff and a wicked sinker that gets so many ground balls. Anderson is a fairly polished prospect... both have well-above-average starter upside.

 Q:  Mark from Davis asks:
What do you think of Pedro Figueroa? He was left unprotected in the Rule V draft, do you think he has a chance to stick in the bigs next season?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I think if he does get picked, he'll get sent back. He's a late-bloomer, I understand that, but he's had five years of professional instruction, has yet to throw a pitch in a full-season league, his control is below-average and his slider shows some promise but not with much frequency. He has upside, but I think there are better options available.

 Q:  Nathan from Sacramento asks:
Please help settle a debate. Who's the higher rated prospect, Rashun Dixon or Arnold Leon?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Dixon. He didn't turn 18 until the end August and he's got athleticism galore. Still quite raw though.

 Q:  Nick from PA asks:
You have Matt Holliday in the 2012 lineup. Do you think the A's will re-sign him? And that Brad Ziegler will be closing games for the A's by then?
 A: 

Ben Badler: The 2012 lineups are an exercise grounded in fantasy, not reality. Essentially, if MLB suddenly reinstated the reserve clause, how might each team's lineup look in four years? Off hand, I'd put the odds of Ziegler being the team's closer in 2012 at around 20-to-1, if that. Do I really think Matt Holliday is Oakland's left fielder in 2012, let alone in August, 2009? No.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Did Brett Hunter make the top 30, and are you confident he can stay healthy?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Hunter's in the middle of the 30. He sat at 94-96 mph and peaked at 98 after a couple of weeks working on his mechanics after signing. With his mechanics and medical history, he's a good candidate to blow his arm out pretty quickly (not saying he will, just that he's a higher-risk guy), but if he can stay healthy and give them at least a few solid years out of the bullpen, that's pretty good equity getting returned a $1.1 million bonus.

 Q:  Dave Stewart from Pitching mound, Oakland Coliseum asks:
Do you think the A's gave up too soon on Henry Rodriguez, Craig Italiano, and Andrew Bailey by converting them from Starting pitchers to relief pitchers?
 A: 

Ben Badler: No, I think Bailey and Rodriguez are both better served in the bullpen. Italiano will probably be a starter next year, they just moved him to the bullpen because he tired down the stretch and they didn't want to overextend him after he barely pitched the year before. I do think he's more ideally suited for relief in the future though.

 Q:  Tom from New Jersey asks:
What are you thoughts about the 2 others acquired in the Blanton trade ... Matt Spencer and Josh Outman?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I like Outman, watched him sit at 94-96 mph this year out of the bullpen back when he was with the Phillies, and he's touched 97 this year. He could stick as a starter or they might just move him to the bullpen, where that power fastball could play up, but either way a big league ready arm like that has a lot of value. Spencer has some tools, but he's still pretty raw.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
That Haren and Robertson trade for Anderson (your #1),Carter(39 homers in high A, your # 6), Cunningham(batting over .300, your #4), Eveland, and Greg Smith (already gone from A's) looks to me like a masterstroke by Bean. Agreed? In 2010 which of these guys will be the most valuable to the A's?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Probably in the order I ranked them, although Carter might not provide immediate value to the 2010 club. I agree though that it was a very good trade by Beane. Teams seem to be placing greater value on prospects with each passing day, so it was a good time to strike when he did.

 Q:  Franklin from Washington asks:
Seeing Michael Inoa ranked at three is exciting, so I was wondering how BA decided to put him there over players with more of a track record like Cardenas and Gonzalez?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Inoa is the wildest of wild cards. We really don't have a precedent for ranking players of his caliber, given that we didn't rank Felix Hernandez the year he signed. My personal preference would be for Inoa to slot towards the back of the top 10, but after a series of intellectual disagreements back and forth among my colleagues here at BA, the No. 3 ranking emerged. Inoa is a tremendous prospect. I have great confidence that all of our scouting reports on him are accurate because nearly a dozen scouts I've talked to in the DR have all told me the EXACT same things about him, which is a bit remarkable. He's just a special player, and if your sample comparison of players is just other high-bonus Latin American pitchers in recent years, you're going to be systematically underrating his true talent. But I also believe that the free market has determined that Inoa is worth $5 million. If players like Aaron Cunningham, Adrian Cardenas, etc. were all granted the same free agency rights tomorrow that Inoa had as an amateur, I feel confident that the market would value them at more than $5 million because of their proximity to the major leagues. Anyone who wants to write that Inoa is "all hype" or anything along those lines is either sorely misinformed or misguided. However, there is real risk inherent in any 16- or 17-year-old pitcher who is at least a few years away from the major leagues, so accounting for that volatility, I personally would agree that he should be lower on the list. To be able to state with much certainty where he deserves to be ranked, at best, a shaky statement.

 Q:  Timmy L. from San Francisco asks:
Is the Anderson/Cahill combo the best in minor league baseball?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Among pitching prospects? I think so, but the Rays (David Price/Wade Davis) and Orioles (Chris Tillman/Brian Matusz) could make convincing cases.

Ben Badler: Five-minute oatmeal break, gotta recharge but I'll be right back!

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
Where would Justin Smoak rank if he would have lasted one more pick?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Probably No. 3

 Q:  Matt from Wheaton, IL asks:
Would it be fair to call Pedroia a good comp for Cardenas?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Not really, Cardenas has a short, compact stroke and good but not elite-level plate discipline and hand-eye coordination like Pedroia has. In general, any comp to any relatively unique player (Pedroia, Maddux, Glavine, Moyer) is usually ill-advised.

 Q:  Dave from Chicago asks:
What do you think of Josh Donaldson? His offensive numbers spiked when he went to the Cal League.
 A: 

Ben Badler: I think I want to see another full season out of him to know what the A's have there. The Midwest League in April and May is a brutal hitting environment, and Donaldson struggled there with a very low average on balls in play. He has good strength, bat speed and offensive tools, so I'm wondering how much of his slow start this season was due to his environment. Obviously putting him in the Cal League doesn't put him in a neutral setting either, but I still think there's upside there.

 Q:  Ivan from Hong Kong asks:
I'm surprised to see that you think Anderson and Cahill will be in the majors in the second half of 2009. Weren't they just in A-ball till recently?
 A: 

Ben Badler: They also reached Double-A by mid-season and would have been there longer had they not joined Team USA at the Olympics in August. They'll both probably start in Triple-A in 2009 (Anderson was already there for the playoffs) and could get a chance at the big leagues in 2009, with Anderson more likely to get there a little more quickly because of his command and polish.

 Q:  Scott Gorgen from San Diego, CA asks:
Who'd you rather have: Brett Hunter or Nick Barnesse of Tampa Bay? Why?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Barnese, because I think he'll be a starter and has significant high-reward potential with a good fastball, good breaking ball, athleticism, good mechanics and dominance in short-season as a 19-year-old.

 Q:  Ivan from Hong Kong asks:
Is Robin Rosario in the Top 30? Will BA ever do a DSL Top 20 Prospect List?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I don't think he makes it in a deep system like the A's have, but he might make it had he been signed by, say, the Cubs. My goal is to get something up at some point on DSL and VSL players from '08 to watch, but the Prospect Handbook is, to say the least, labor intensive, particularly when you agonize and obsess over minutia the way I tend to.

 Q:  Okie from Norman asks:
Will the Sacramento rotation in 2009 stay intact long enough for a three-peat at Bricktown, or will they move up to A's at mid-season?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Yeah, it's going to be loaded. One of the things that doesn't get much attention (well, we have talked about it internally here at BA) is Sacramento's incredible run of success the last several years. If you look at the A's ability to pluck away players who other teams might consider "4-A" guys and turn them into useful big leaguers, I don't think it's just a coincidence that Sacramento has been so dominant in recent years.

 Q:  Danny Espinosa from Long Beach, CA asks:
I have to strongly disagree with you in terms of Hunter. One thing he possesses besides a canon for an arm is the motivation and drive that lacks in so many prospects. Don't you take the fact he dominated HWL into consideration?
 A: 

Ben Badler: The ability to throw 180-200 innings per season is more dependent upon talent and solid mechanics than on motivation and drive. His HWB performance is taken into consideration, the same way 9.2 innings from any other prospect is considered. And what makes you think that other prospects aren't similarly motivated and driven? That's not a knock on Hunter, just on the notion that Player X is going to be better than Player Y because we think Player X has more internal fire.

 Q:  Jealous from Texas Rangers asks:
This system is ridiculous. How many of the top 30 A's prospects will be on somebody's 25 man roster in next 3 years?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Odds that this is actually an A's fan? 60%? 70%? I don't think the A's will trade off too many of these players. As great as the system is, some of these guys will flame out due to injury or lack of skills improvement, so no harm in holding on to your prospects and letting the best ones emerge.

 Q:  Geoff from KC asks:
What kind of ceiling do you see for Outman. Do you strictly see him as a 4 or 5 starter, or possibly higher?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I think the pure ceiling is higher (I also might be more generous with most on handing out ceilings), but I also think the A's ballpark and ability to put a good defense on the field tends to deflate their pitchers' ERAs, making them appear better than their talent might otherwise merit.

 Q:  Justin from Hopkinton, MA asks:
I was wondering how good you think Adrian Cardenas will become. How would you project him to hit? Thanks.
 A: 

Ben Badler: I think he could be an above-average second baseman or be at least average at third base if he has to make that move, either by organizational necessity or because of his fielding. He's got a good swing, feel for the strike zone, feel for hitting and scouts think the power is eventually going to come around.

 Q:  Bruce P. from Salem, OR asks:
How much more of a ceiling does Vince Mazzaro have? He made tremendous strides last year from 2007. Can he make the same amount of improvement this year and be a solid MLB starting pitcher?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I'm a little bit concerned about the lack of a true, plus out pitch, has the kind of power sinker that can be very effective with an average breaking ball, a solid changeup and good control. You're right, he did improve his control significantly this year, and if he carries that over into the future, that's a solid starting pitcher, like you said. With his repertoire and ability to get grounders, I could see him having some very good years juxtaposed with some very not-so-good years.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
I see you gave Pennington the nod in a few categories, but he missed the list. Was it simply a stacked system that kept him off?
 A: 

Ben Badler: That and the total lack of power. Those walks might not translate in the big leagues if he can't drive the ball. I hope he does add some power because I think he has the potential to be an underrated player who gets on base and plays good defense in the middle of the infield... but not if he slugs .340.

 Q:  travis from pocatello ,id asks:
its more of a baseball question...when a prospect is traded... and you have dun your ranks... like the braves and white soxs... white soxs are dun...braves still to come...the prospects the braves traded to Chicago are they just left out the book??
 A: 

Ben Badler: No, the Handbook hasn't gone to press yet, so Tyler Flowers or any other prospects who get traded will be re-ranked and included in their new organizations. And whoever was prospect No. 31 in the Braves system gets to reap all the glory.

 Q:  Dan from New York asks:
Is Matt Sulentic back on the prospect radar after a solid season in high-A as a 20 year old?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Yeah, there's some signal on the radar, mostly because of his age and his amateur track record, but I'm not sure what he did this year in the California League is sustainable going forward. He's got strength, bat speed, some opposite field power and the A's seemed pretty high on the improvement he made on defense, but I'd just like to see it again next year outside the Cal League.

 Q:  Dee from Austin asks:
Cahill/Anderson are better than Feliz/Holland?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Yeah, and I don't think that one's that close either. I like Feliz, but I think Holland is more of a solid prospect than a great one.

 Q:  Brandon from Dallas asks:
Where does Sam Demel rank in the A's system and how does his stuff compare as well? Thank you
 A: 

Ben Badler: Middle to back of the 30, along with the other relievers like Carignan and Lansford, et al. He has a good fastball and got a nice combination of ground balls and strikeouts this year, but he needs better fastball command and the ability to work off his fastball more often, rather than going to his slider or changeup in certain situations. There's a reason he's in the bullpen, since he's got a max-effort, herky-jerky delivery, and with that comes some deception but an impediment to fastball command.

 Q:  Billy Bob Thorton from Hollywood asks:
List of Athletics minor leaguers that have a 98 mph fastball plus? Thanks Ben! You should be in my next movie!
 A: 

Ben Badler: Thanks, I enjoyed your work in "Bad Santa." Henry Rodriguez, Brett Hunter and Daniel Thomas have all touched at least 98 mph and I know Fautino de los Santos had hit 97 before his injury. That's peak velocity though, not where they usually pitch. There are some power arms in the system, but I don't think the A's are as concerned with velocity as some other organizations.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
When do you expect Michael Inoa to start playing full season ball?
 A: 

Ben Badler: 2010

 Q:  Thomas from Berkeley asks:
Chris Carter, best power prospect in the minors?
 A: 

Ben Badler: In terms of pure power among legitimate prospects, probably either he or Mike Stanton. Mike Stanton has scary, scary power. I'm still in awe of the show I watched him put on at the SAL home run derby.

 Q:  Brent from Appleton, WI asks:
What criteria does BA use to rank TEAM prospects versus LEAGUE prospects? More specifically, why was Vin Mazzaro ranked the 4th best prosepct in the Texas League, well above Aaron Cunningham, but only the 8th best prospect in Oakland, well behind Aaron Cunningham?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Different people coordinate those lists, so if we have differing opinions (which we undoubtedly do), those prospects might be ranked differently. And if we acquire new information that adds predictive value about players, then we, like anyone in their right minds, might change our own personal opinions.

 Q:  Rochelle from San Francisco asks:
How about a question from a girl?! What's the prognosis on James Simmons? Seems like he gets left out of the discussions a bit, but it also seems like he could be in the rotation by the end of 2009
 A: 

Ben Badler: He could be a solid starter and he could crack the '09 rotation toward the end of the season, but he needs to accelerate the development of his slider to make it a better weapon against more advanced hitters. He can still toy with Double-A hitters because of his elite fastball command, but big league hitters will be a little less forgiving if you don't show them something that breaks with some frequency. He mostly works off a fastball/changeup combo with a pretty good delivery, so I'm guessing he'll end up being pretty durable.

 Q:  Rickey Henderson fan from Left Field, Oakland Coliseum asks:
How close did outfielder Corey Brown come to making the Top 10 List? Sure, he strikes out about twice per game, but I think he also hit 30 home runs. Not bad for a Center Fielder. Do you see him be able to stay there at the Major League level?
 A: 

Ben Badler: He's closer for some at BA than he is for me. The slash stats look nice, but I see a college hitter who struck out in 30 percent of his PAs in A-ball, a huge red flag. He has power, athleticism, some speed and a solid arm, but I'm not convinced that he'll develop the skills that he'll need to have success at higher levels.

 Q:  Derick from Jim Thorpe, PA asks:
Anderson ahead of Bumgarner and Matusz? What puts him ahead of those two?
 A: 

Ben Badler: The combination of premium command, above-average stuff, a track record of success with a high strikeout rate and the ability to get some ground balls and proximity to the major leagues. I like Bumgarner and Matusz too, just giving the edge to Anderson right now.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
I've heard Chris Carter's name in the same sentence as Frank Thomas more than once. Is this comp justifiable on any level?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I don't think so. In terms of power, maybe, but Carter is 21, and at 22 Thomas was already (albeit not in a full season) one of the best hitters in the big leagues and followed that up with an OPS over 1.000 as a 23-year-old. They are both big, athletic guys, but Thomas never had the big swing-and-miss issues when he was in the minors that Carter is having. Thomas' best years came very early in his career, whereas I think a player with Carter's skill set could possibly spend several years in the minors before things finally click at the big league level, either because it takes him time to figure it all out or because managers (I think) tend to view strikeouts with some antipathy when it comes to giving young players regular playing time.

 Q:  Bertram from Tawian asks:
Does Jared Lansford make the top 30? I hear he looked good in the AFL? Does he project as a major league pitcher? If so, bullpen or back end of the rotation?
 A: 

Ben Badler: He's another guy who I think is a better fit in the bullpen than the rotation with the effort in his delivery. He's athletic, he's got a good hard sinker to give him a sinker/slider combo, so it was encouraging to see him have success in Stockton this year at a young age.

 Q:  Dave from Chicago asks:
Any hope left for Landon Powell, Richie Robnett, or Javier Herrera?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I think Powell has some value if he could just stay healthy, which he hasn't been able to do. Herrera has some potential and good defensive tools, but the bat needs to develop a bit more quickly. Neither of them are stars, maybe not even average regulars, but they could have some big league utility.

 Q:  Dave from San Diego, CA asks:
Does Danny Putnam even qualify as a prospect any more? If so where would he rank? Or is he just a 4A type player or a possible 4th outfielder? Thanks.
 A: 

Ben Badler: He does, and I think he could be a useful piece for a team in need of an outfielder. Opportunities for regular playing time in the big leagues are a scarce commodity, and Putnam merits a team at least giving him that chance to show what he can do in an extended period of time. He's in a tough situation though because of the organization's outfield situation. And I'm sure he was just thrilled when the A's traded for Matt Holliday.

 Q:  Scott from St. Louis asks:
Any prospects flying under the radar that have a chance to make a splash?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Judging from the players I'm getting questions about, Arnold Leon doesn't get too much attention, but he's an interesting righthander from Mexico, a 5-foot-11, drop-and-drive guy with good control of a low-90s fastball and a big, slooowwww 68-69 mph curveball. He's been a reliever this year but he might get a chance to start next year. Grant Desme? I'm not sure if you could call a second-round pick from 2007 under the radar, but given that he missed basically the entire 2008 season with wrist and shoulder problems, I'd say he's been off most people's radar. I want to see what he does in pro ball when he comes back healthy, and I'm sure the A's do to.

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
Is this the longest chat ever? We are about to 3 hours?!?! Thanks!
 A: 

Ben Badler: Hey, it's a deep system, got a lot of prospects to cover. The best part is it's 6:45 AM in Taiwan right now and I already answered one of your questions about two hours ago.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Are the Athletics favorites to have the number 1 system in baseball?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Probably either No. 1 or No. 2, but I haven't read Aaron Fitt's 11-30 scouting reports for the Rangers yet, so I haven't made up my mind quite yet.

 Q:  Dan from Fairfield, CA asks:
No mention of Tyson Ross anywhere? Do you really not seeing him in A's rotation in the future?
 A: 

Ben Badler: I'm thinking of programming the F7 key on my keyboard to automatically write, "It's a deep system" whenever I press it. We're not forgetting about Ross, it's just.... well, you know. He's got really good stuff, a low-90s fastball with sink up to 95, a good slider and a changeup that some people think could also be an above-average pitch. Then there's his mechanics. I watched him last summer with Team USA and it's just, well, it's uncomfortable even to watch. Short arm action in the back, incredibly short stride, very stiff landing... he's a good athlete, but Michael Inoa he is not when it comes to being effortless. You're not going to change his arm action, that's just ingrained into him at this point, but there's some adjustments he could make with the lower half of his delivery. I don't think the A's will try to tinker with him too much, they'll mostly just leave him as is, but scouts say his delivery does put excess strain on his body, he has an injury history and his fastball has always worked better in the bullpen, so he might work out better in the bullpen. He has the stuff to start though, and with his mechanics, he's a unique cat.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
With all of the top end talent and depth, was this your favorite system to cover this year?
 A: 

Ben Badler: You'd think that, but in the end it was a bit more labor intensive than doing the top 30 for the Indians, a good but not loaded system like the A's have. I suppose it's better than having to dig for guys in a thinner farm system, but I'm compulsive when it comes to gathering and analyzing as much information as possible. So when you have as many prospects as the A's have, you're right that it's fun, but an intense process that takes hundreds of hours to put together.

Ben Badler: That's all for today. Thank you as always for your loyalty to Baseball America and for all the great questions. Matt Eddy's up with the Mariners on Friday. So long, and if you're in Taiwan, enjoy the rest of your morning.