Prospects Chat With Ben Badler




Moderator: Ben Badler will chat about the Futures Game beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Ben Badler: I'm here on my final day in St. Louis, where apparently the entire economy is based on what seems like the ubiquitous sale of Albert Pujols jerseys.

    Lorenzo (Utah): Your thoughts on Jennings? While he did strike out a couple of times, he was unstoppable on the basepaths, in my opinion. Who is faster, him or Giellies?

Ben Badler: Jennings looked like what he's been billed as: a speedster with a good eye at the plate, good bat speed and a line-drive stroke to drive the ball around the ballpark. Gillies is a legitimate 80 runner so he's faster, but Jennings seems to have better instincts on the basepaths. And while we did see some serious wheels yesterday, don't hold those stolen bases against the catchers; saying the pitchers were indifferent to holding runners on would be putting it kindly.

    JAYPERS (IL): Which pitcher impressed you the most, from both squads? Why?

Ben Badler: For the US team, Tillman and Matusz. I know they gave up three runs combined in two innings of work, but that's not the point—we're trying to figure out how they project in the future, which admittedly is a difficult task in an exhibition setting with pitchers only throwing an inning and most hitters only getting a couple of at-bats. Tillman's curveball was an above-average pitch and his fastball was 92-94 mph, touching 95-96, while Matusz showed a diverse repertoire. Nobody on the World team pitching staff blew me away, though I was impressed with just how good Chacin's changeup looked from my seat in the scouts' section. His curveball didn't look quite as sharp as when I saw him last year, but he could have three average to above-average pitches.

    Bill (Chicago): How soon does Josh Vitters get to Wrigley?

Ben Badler: I think Vitters will—or at least should—take at least a few years to reach the big leagues. His swing is sound and his power is for real, but he's going to need to overhaul his approach or else major league pitchers are going to exploit his lack of patience.

    Max (Cincinnati): Optimistic Pirates fan here. When do you envision Pedro Alvarez will be able to hit big league pitching? It seems he struggles mightily against lefties but his bat could do wonders for the big club. How does pitcher Brad Lincoln project as a major league pitcher?

Ben Badler: He has problems with lefthanded pitching, which hurt him yesterday, but he looks like a three true outcomes player. I still think he's a good major leaguer if he can trim his strikeouts by a small amount and become a .260 hitter with a bunch of walks and home runs, but he's been surpassed by several players from the '08 draft class already. I'm sure he'll be up at some point next year.

Ben Badler: As for Lincoln, yesterday was a tough environment in which to evaluate him, but based on the stuff that he's shown earlier in the season, he could be at least a league-average starter if he stays healthy.

    Mike (WA): Tyson Gillies - everyday big leaguer or more of a platoon/4th OF type?

Ben Badler: Every day guy. Beyond just the speed, he's got the patience, the contact-hitting skills and enough ability to drive the ball to make his outstanding speed something usable beyond being just a pinch-runner/defensive replacement.

    Andy (Glen Allen, VA): How did Daryl Jones look during the game? He's had a fairly solid season and is slowly and steadily developing into a good player...I've heard the Ray Lankford comparison given to him. What are your thoughts on him and his ceiling?

Ben Badler: Hard to get a real feel for Jones' abilities yesterday because he's only played in two other games this month due to injury. A lot of scouts will look at him and see a fourth outfielder, but I think he could be a starting left fielder in a different mold from your typical plus-plus power LF who gives half of it back in the field. The power is going to need to continue to develop, but that's typically the last thing to come around for a hitter. If he's a high on-base guy with moderate power and above-average defense, that's good enough to be a starting left fielder in the big leagues.

    Matt (SF, CA): What happened to MadBum? Very disappointed that we didn't get to see him.

Ben Badler: If we didn�t have a four-hour rain delay, Bumgarner would have pitched, but once he got warmed up, he wasn�t coming in after a four-hour layoff. What�s most frustrating is the rule that caps the rosters to two players per organization totally jobbed the Giants. Once Yonder Alonso got injured, the World team was sorely lacking in first basemen, which meant Angel Villalona was a lock for one of the two Giants spots. So only one of Tim Alderson, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey could go to the game. Then not only does Villalona get injured right before the Futures Game, but Bumgarner doesn�t get to pitch in the game at all, which meant that one of the game�s better farm systems right now was sorely underrepresented at an event that�s supposed to showcase prospects. Getting rid of the rule that caps the number of players an organization can send to the game would make the game better for everyone.

    Sholom (Smithtown, N.Y): What position do you think the Mets prospect Wilmer Flores ends up playing if and when he ends up in the majors?

Ben Badler: Either third base or right field. He has the arm and the quick release to play third, but he's 17 and doesn't even have the range right now to play shortstop.

    Bubba Brown (Roy): Which duo do you prefer? Heyward and Freeman or Stanton and Morrison? Or is it a wash?

Ben Badler: Heyward and Freeman. Obviously I like Stanton and Morrison, but I would be surprised if Heyward didn't turn into a star. Stanton has star potential as well, but there's still a bit more risk involved with him.

    cjb (madison, wi): opinion on Tyson Gillies? + or - being an Ellsbury type of lead off hitter.

Ben Badler: He could be. I agree with pretty much everything the scout from Jim Callis' Futures Game story said about Gillies.

    Sam (Columbia, SC): What are the chances Matusz skips AAA? Would it be a good idea to call up him, Tillman, and Arrieta at the same time if they are all pitching well given there are three slots available?

Ben Badler: I don't think he'll become a mainstay in the Baltimore rotation until around May 2010. The rotation spots are open, but it doesn't accomplish much to push him up there yet.

    Dan (Chicago): So many of my fellow white sox fans are so high on Dayan Viciedo (I assume because of the success of Alexei Ramirez) but I can't help but think that this guy is a borderline non-prospect. .302 obp and .357 slugging is miserable

Ben Badler: I think I said it before, but Double-A was an aggressive assignment for the guy. Let him play in the Carolina League, and if it ends up looking like too conservative of an assignment after a month or so, bring him up to Double-A. But right now I'm not sure he could even hit Carolina League pitching based on his Double-A performance.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Why did Parker only get 1/3rd of an inning of work, if you had to guess?

Ben Badler: Seven-inning game, with more pitchers than full innings available to pitch.

    Geoff (NJ): As an O's fan should I've concerned with yesterdays outing by our 2 studs?

Ben Badler: No, it's an exhibition match, with guys who aren't used to throwing one inning at a time having to do so and in Matusz's case, work out of the bullpen. The Futures Game is a great place to see a bunch of prospects all in one place, but I wouldn't put too much stock into what happens at the game.

    Dan (Chicago): Tyler Flowers, future all star? .305/.449/.556 in that big park in Hoover is awfully good.

Ben Badler: I say yes, he has that potential.

    larry (chicago): Will Tyler Flowers stick at catcher?

Ben Badler: I think the odds of him sticking at catcher are better than they were coming into the season. He won't be an above-average defensive catcher, but I think he's good enough to play back there at least early in his career. Then again, my threshold for catcher defense is probably a little lower than most people's.

    Ben (New Berlin, WI): What did you think of Starlin Castro?

Ben Badler: Again, a very limited look, but his hands work very well at the plate, which is why he's so hard to strike out. Not much power, but for him to be playing as well as he is as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League is impressive.

    Mick (Chicago): How sad of a statement is made when the best SS prospect for the USA is a guy hitting under .270 in single "A" ball. Are we back to the future when Cody Ransom played there? Come to think of it the last few have been pretty brutal too with Lillibridge, Bocock, Donald.

Ben Badler: It's not a well-stocked position in the minor leagues on the US side, although being able to have Tim Beckham there would have been nice.

Ben Badler: OK, sorry to cut this session a little short today, but I have a plane to catch. Always fun to chat with you guys.