2012 Detroit Tigers Top 10 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler




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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, 2011.

Ben Badler: Hi everybody. Loaded with questions in here already so let's get started.

    Frank (Chicago): How many of these guys are top 100 worthy?

Ben Badler: Turner and Castellanos are locks to be in there. I like Smyly and I think he has a big league role, but he's not a Top 100 guy, for me.

    Jake (St Louis): Is Danry Vasquez someone to keep an eye on?

Ben Badler: Definitely. If the Tigers had been conservative and started him in the Venezuelan Summer League, the numbers would have stood out more, but he held his own in the GCL. He's got a nice swing, the question with him is whether he'll develop enough power to be more than a tweener, since he's definitely a corner outfielder. Right now he just doesn't have much strength, but that's pretty typical for 17-year-old kid from Latin America. Definitely one of their more intriguing guys at the lower levels of the system.

    Grant (NYC): Could we get your opinions of Aaron Westlake? Besides power, does anything else stand out about him? Was he in the 11-20 range?

Ben Badler: He's in that range. Big frame, big power, pretty solid swing though it gets long occasionally, but he's a patient hitter and the hope is he develops into a power-hitting first baseman. Not much defensive value though, so he's going to have to really hit, and move quickly.

    Lauren (Detroit): Is Strieby a 4A type of player? Still in your 30?

Ben Badler: Most of the scouts I've talked to believe he's a Triple-A guy. I like his power but the uptick in strikeouts is concerning.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Between Castellanos and Cheslor Cuthbert, who would you say has a better shot at remaining at the hot corner for the next few years?

Ben Badler: I think both of them are third basemen.

    Frankie (San Fran): What should we make of Daniel Fields at this point? What does he need to work on?

Ben Badler: Making more contact, which isn't an easy fix. He's still in the Tigers Top 30, but he fell as much as anyone.

    Jasen (FLL): Will Drew Smyly succeed as a starter in the big leagues? Why or why not?

Ben Badler: He certainly has a chance to. He doesn't have the stuff to be a frontline guy and the lack of a true out pitch makes for a risky profile, but his command and feel for pitching are excellent. He could fit into the back of the rotation at some point, and probably pretty soon.

    Morrie (New Joisey): Did SS Brandon Loy get any consideration for the top 10, and what do you make of him at short?

Ben Badler: Not Top 10, but he's in the 30. The Tigers have Dixon Machado, but in a lot of organizations Loy is a guy who could grade out at the best defensive shortstop in a farm system. Strong arm, good hands, feet work well, but the bat is the question with him right now for a lot of scouts.

    Avisail Garcia (Lakeland, Fl): I heard a Magglio Ordonez comp for me. Does that sound about right?

Ben Badler: Don't really see it. Garcia's going to swing and miss a lot more than Ordonez, who was an elite player in his prime. Garcia's a big, physical guy with power and good speed for his size, but he's still pretty raw as a hitter.

    Dean (Madison): What is Duane Below's 2012 going to look like? What are the chances he gets sent down to start the year? Will he get a chance to start again in the majors, or be used primarily in the bullpen?

Ben Badler: Might do a bit of both. He could get a chance as a fifth starter, but I don't think he's the first priority for that role. I could see him getting time as a swingman, mostly bullpen work with some spot starting if he can find a way to make his fringy to average stuff work.

    Drew (Toledo): Obviously a lot of the Tigers top pitchers are close to the big leagues and may make an impact in Detroit in 2012. The position players don't seem to be as close. Is there are position player or players who are close to helping the Tigers in 2012?

Ben Badler: You're right, the system is more pitching-heavy, and there aren't a lot of internal options to help the offense this year. On the other hand, they have guys with some trade value, so if they need to patch any holes or supplement their lineup with a bat, I could see them dealing some of their young pitching to give them a boost.

    Chris H (Boston, MA): Hi - thanks for the chat! Does Brenny Paulino have #1/#2 starter potential?

Ben Badler: I don't think he's an ace, but I also don't think we know just how good he can be yet. The Tigers did a great job scouting and developing him so far. He was just a raw arm with a great frame and a quick arm when he signed, and the scary thing is that there's still room for him to fill out. When you look at his long arms, all the projection that's still left in his body, I can easily see him throwing 100 mph within a couple of years just with the additional strength that's bound to come. The control and the secondary stuff are going to need work, but they've both improved over the last year or so. I want to see more than one consistently plus pitch before getting too excited, but there's big upside here.

    John (D.C.): I was kind of surprised to see that Turner does not profile as a #1, but rather a #2 or #3. Is it strictly his fastball, or did his change-up come into play when giving him a peak of a #2 starter?

Ben Badler: Most of the scouts I talk to see a 2-3. I didn't talk to anyone who saw a No. 1 starter, but those guys are just rare to find. Don't get me wrong, Turner has good stuff, but it's more 50-60 grades across the board (depending on the scout you talk to) that plays up because of his control and advanced feel for pitching. That's a heck of a pitcher though, just not an ace.

    Nick (Delaware): Eugenio Suarez showed some pop in the NY-Penn, whats his ceiling look like?

Ben Badler: He was a pleasant surprise this year whose baseball instincts help his otherwise ordinary tools play up. For now scouts mostly see a utility guy.

    Mark (Hou): Did Tyler Collins get any consideration. What is his projection in the best case?

Ben Badler: He's intrigued a lot of scouts with his bat. I know there's some question about whether he's a tweener, but he's hit everywhere he's been and I don't think he'll have any trouble hitting in the lower minors. He doesn't have prototypical left field power but his bat could really carry him.

    Pony (Troy, Mi): Do the Tigers have any prospects that can really shot up the ranks this year?

Ben Badler: If Bruce Rondon figures out how to throw strikes, he could be a scary guy. He's anywhere from 95-101 mph with outstanding life, really just an overpowering fastball from an enormous human being. He's had a lot of trouble repeating his delivery, but if he can get that in sync has has high-leverage relief potential.

    Warren (Texas): Without outside help, who from within the organization would benefit the most from Martinez' injury? Strieby? Dirks? Thanks for the chat!

Ben Badler: I think Dirks is more likely than Strieby to get those at-bats.

    Warren (Texas): How do some of the younger Latin players profile as prospects, specifically Dixon Machado and Danry Vasquez? Are there any other young Latins or sleepers whom we should look forward to seeing as they move up in the system? Thanks for the chat.

Ben Badler: Machado's a pretty unusual prospect. He needs to get a lot stronger (that's not unusual), but I can't recall a guy ever playing 120-plus games and finishing with THREE extra-base hits. How is that even possible? You would think at least a couple ground balls would sneak down the line or a few line drives would find their way into the gap. Power's never going to be a big part of his game, but if he can be a line-drive hitter, he actually has a decent approach at the plate, knows how to work the count and the swing path is solid. And, of course, he's a terrific defensive shortstop, but the main need here is putting on some muscle so he doesn't get the bat knocked out of his hands.

    Kelly (St Cloud): Had he remained, would Francisco Martinez have cracked your top 10? Would you consider his defensive skills to be almost Major League ready?

Ben Badler: Martinez is going to be in the Mariners Top 10, so we'll have a full scouting report on him when that goes up next week. But yeah, he definitely would have been Top 10, and he would have been in the mix for the top five. Getting Fister was a terrific move for the Tigers, but Martinez is going to be the key piece in that deal for Seattle.

    Robert (Lansing): whats the likelihood that Nick Castellanos stays at third. Scouting reports have him with a good arm, but say that his range is poor. Will he grade out at a 50 defender or is he likely to move to the outfield?

Ben Badler: He could move to the outfield, but I don't think he will. I think he stays at third base and becomes a fairly nondescript defender; nothing fancy, but nothing painful to watch either. He'll play it well enough but the value here will be in his bat.

    Wade (St. Louis): Do you see Andy Oliver eventually being in a big league rotation?

Ben Badler: His strike-throwing ability is going to have to take some major steps forward for that to happen. Internally, we have some split opinions on Oliver, and for me I wonder whether he has more than just the big fastball to be an effective big league pitcher. There aren't many lefties in the game who have that kind of arm strength, but his control and the lack of a reliable breaking ball aren't pointing in the right direction.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Who are you higher on between southpaws Brian Flynn and Matt Hoffman?

Ben Badler: I like Hoffman a little more. The fastball has really played up since he moved to the bullpen, where he's 90-95, doesn't miss a lot of bats but gets a ton of ground balls. He should be able to help pretty soon as a lefty specialist. Flynn has a bit more upside, less certainty, but similar top-end velocity and the slider he learned at Wichita State sounds like it's really helped him.

    Karl of Delaware (Delmarva): If you ranked the various organizations minor league players by international orientation, which team would be the most internationally dominated and which team the least? My wild guess is KC most and Orioles least. What's your thought? And where do the Tigers fit in the array?

Ben Badler: I've taken a look at something similar to this the past couple of years, and the Rangers, Mariners and Yankees are usually among the farm systems with the heaviest international leanings, with the Orioles typically toward the bottom. I don't think the Tigers can boast as many high-level international prospects like the Rangers or the Yankees, but their Top 30 is more international-oriented than most, particularly with Venezuelan signings.

    Brad Broughman (Lansing, MI): Do you think that they Tigers should give Jacob Turner another year in the minors after watching Rick Porcello struggle to reach the ceiling that many had predicted for him?

Ben Badler: I would start him in Triple-A, but if he's pitching well there, shows he's ready and the Tigers have a need in Detroit, I don't see any reason to hold him back.

    Brad (Detroit): The Tigers grabbed Tyler Gibson in the 15th round and paid him over 3X slot. According to BA's scouting report (from the draft top 200 list), "scouts are somewhat split on just how high Gibson's ceiling is and how athletic he is, and some believe all his value will be in his bat". Would you concur with this assessment? Why did he last so long before getting drafted?

Ben Badler: I think that's fair, and there is some thought among scouts that he may be a better fit in left field than center, which would put more demand on his bat. The perception of the strength of his college commitment is what kept him on the board so long.

    Drew (Toledo): What players made the biggest drop on the Tigers' prospect list? What did those player(s) drop?

Ben Badler: Other than Danie Fields, who I touched on earlier, Robbie Weinhardt had some regression last year, which it sounds like was a result of his fastball going backwards.

    Marlin (Clinton Township): What 2011 under the radar (say after the first 5 rounds) draft pick might surprise us in 2012? Down the road?

Ben Badler: One deep sleeper to keep an eye on is Montreal Robertson, their 29th-round pick out of a small juco in Mississippi. He's raw, but he has good size, throws up to the mid-90s with a solid slider. He looks like a good late-round find.

Ben Badler: Well it's Cuban central right now in the Dominican Republic, and I've got to get back to the phones for my scout calls. Thanks everyone for the questions. John Manuel is here tomorrow for the Twins chat.