Hot Sheet Chat: May 15

    Nora (Florida): Do you see Matusz being in the O's rotation as early as this September if he stays healthy?

Ben Badler: Probably too aggressive. He might make it
to Triple-A for a few late-season starts, but my guess is he tops out
at Double-A this year.

    Ryan (Madison, WI): When do you think Andrew
    McCutchen will get the call to Pittsburgh? And what kind of numbers do
    you see him putting up in the majors?

Ben Badler: Sorry, I’m still adjusting to our new chat
software here. I’d rather not turn this into a “where’s Prospect X” or
“why is Prospect Y ahead of Prospect Z” chat today, but anything
general prospect questions are fair game.
I think McCutchen could be up at some point next month. He’s ready to
continue his development at the big league level. He control the strike
zone well, so I think he’ll have an easier adjustment to the big
leagues than some others, but I wouldn’t expect anything amazing as a
22-year-old. Something similar to what Dexter Fowler is doing right now
seems reasonable.

    Tim (Chicago): How good is Brett Lawrie's bat? Do you see him sticking at second and what are his weakness if any at this point?

Ben Badler: Very, very good. That’s an incredible
performance for a first-year pro in the Midwest League at age 19.
Second base is up in the air at this point, but it’s too early to move
him anywhere else yet.

    Ryan (Madison, WI): Who has the bigger upside Bumgarner, Alderson, or Jarrod Parker? And who will be the first to get to the majors?

Ben Badler: I think Alderson gets there first, but
with the way the Diamondbacks have been promoting their minor leaguers
to the big leagues since A.J. Hinch took over as manager, seeing Parker
there first wouldn’t surprise me. I think Parker is the best of that
bunch. I saw a lot of good pitchers come through the Southern League
last year�Price, McGee, Davis, Volstad, etc.�but Parker’s stuff was as
good or better than anyone else’s. I think I’m usually a tough critic
when it comes to pitchers, but Parker has me very excited.

    Riley (Denver): Hey, thanks for the chat! I
    have a couple of quick questions. What is the injury update status on
    Kelvin De La Cruz, and who has the higher upside, De La Cruz, Hector
    Rondon, or Jeanmar Gomez (who, at 21, is doing very, very well at AA

Ben Badler: De La Cruz has a strained UCL in his left
elbow, so he’ll be out until July, but he has the highest upside guy of
that group. Gomez has performed well, but with his arm action and lack
of a quality secondary offering, I think he’s going to be somewhat

    Fred (Ohio): At this moment, who would you say are the top 5 prospects for the July Second international signing period?

Ben Badler: I’ll get this one out of the way because
there are about 20 July 2 questions in here and probably double that
amount in the last few ESPN chats I’ve done, which I think is great.
I’ve been talking to scouts about this year’s July 2 crop for the last
three-plus months�well, technically I’ve known about some of the
players since last year, I guess�but I’m not going to comment on any
specific prospects here in a chat, on Twitter (@BenBadler) or anywhere
else until I write a story about him, for a variety of reasons, which I
hop you can understand.
I’m happy with but still aiming to improve upon the expanded July 2
coverage we were able to provide BA readers with last year. I’ve put
systems in place to separate signal from all of the noise, hype and
spin that goes on with these players, some of which I’ve already read.
I don’t care one bit about being first with the latest July 2 rumors.
My aim is for you guys to see BA as a trusted source of high-quality
information about Latin American prospects, and know that you’ll get a
high signal-to-noise ratio with information directly from scouts when
you read something about a player in BA, just like our draft coverage,
which is by far the best in the business. But trust me, we will have
plenty of stuff on July 2 soon.

    JAYPERS (IL): How much time do you see Jennings spending in a Biscuits uniform before exchanging it for a Bulls'?

Ben Badler: The Rays are relatively conservative with
their promotions. I could see a promotion to Triple-A around the
all-star break, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t make it to
Durham until August, either.

    Fred (Ohio): How disappointing is the
    performance of Dayan Viciedo? I thought he would have a period of
    adjustment; however, I didn't think he would struggle this much with
    pitch recognition.

Ben Badler: I couldn’t believe people thought before
the season that he had a chance to start the year in Chicago. I was
surprised they even put him right in Double-A. He has raw power, but
like you said, his pitch recognition looks woeful right now. He
probably belongs in high Class A in the Carolina League.

    Larry the Fable guy (The Bronx): Looks like
    the Redsox have beat us again with this Casey this guy
    going to be another ace? I sure hope not with all the arms they already
    have....IM a worried yankees fan

Ben Badler: Ace? Probably not, but his command is
advanced for his age, and if you throw in the low-90s and have
excellent command of your fastball like Kelly does, you’re going to
dominate Low-A hitters, but scouts tell me he complements it with a
good curveball, too. He’s a guy I need to make a trip to see at some
point this year.
By the way, we’ve tweaked the front-end display of our chats. What do
you guys think? I always like hearing from you guys to find ways to
make BA a better place, so let us know what we’re doing right or wrong.

    Brad (College Park, MD): Who gets the call to the bigs first: Hanson or Medlen? And would Medlen be a reliever or starter?

Ben Badler: Probably Hanson. If the rotation is too
crowded, I could see the Braves breaking him into the major leagues as
a reliever, which I think is a good tactic to get a young pitcher
acclimated to the major leagues. But the way Medlen is dominating
Triple-A hitters as a starter, I don’t see any need for him to move to
the bullpen yet.

    Keith (Tampa): Will Matt Wieters slow start effect his time table or is June 1st still his arrival date?

Ben Badler: Doubtful. It’s only a month, and it’s only
down relative to people’s enormous expectations for Wieters. All of the
talent is still evident when you watch him play, so I wouldn’t even be
surprised if he ends up the AL Rookie of the Year despite spending
April and May in the minor leagues�he’s that good.

    T Ham (Napa, CA): Big Bay Area baseball fan...
    I follow a lot of the A's and Giants prospects through MiLB Box Scores
    but cant find young teen stars Michael Inoa or Rafael Rodriguez... can
    you let me know where they are playing? how they are doing? and when I
    can expect them in San Jose or Modesto? thanks and keep up the good

Ben Badler: This I can answer. Ynoa and Rodriguez both
signed last year, and they should debut this year in either a
Rookie-level Arizona League or the short-season Northwest League, both
of which begin after the draft. I can’t think of any July 2 signings
off the top of my head who have debuted in a full-season league the
following year on Opening Day�that would be an extremely aggressive
assignment. I’ve had a couple of people tell me that Ynoa is in Arizona
at extended spring training as of a few days ago, so those guys will
stay there until making their pro debuts at some point this summer.

    Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Coming into the season, I
    was listening to all the talk saying "don't rush the kids", and reports
    that Tillman still has some work to do on his change-up and fastball
    command. With that in mind, I didn't expect to see him in Baltimore
    until the 2nd half of the season. With his hot start, has that timeline
    been shortened? And do you know if the issues I mentioned have been
    improved upon? Thanks!

Ben Badler: I think the Orioles were wise to put
Tillman in Triple-A. He has made strides with his command and he has
made an effort to throw more changeups. With the way he’s coming along,
I don’t think a second-half promotion is out of the question.

    Nate (Toronto, ON): Duffy has done nothing but make minor league hitters look silly.. Will his stuff play up in KC?

Ben Badler: It should. He has to add a little more
power to his curveball because it tends to get a little bit loopy, and
major league hitters will use that extra reaction time to adjust to the
pitch, but it can be a plus pitch with excellent depth and tight spin.
He’s not overpowering, but the stuff is good.

    Joseph (Sacramento, CA): How is the Nats farm
    system looking now? With the positive signs being shown by Norris,
    Espinoza, Marrero, Detwiler and with Hood, Ramirez, Burgess, Balester
    and McGeary waiting in the wings, should I be expecting big things from
    this Farm System? Thanks.

Ben Badler: I think the state of the Nationals farm
system is better than it was coming into the year. I’m driving the
Derek Norris bandwagon, guys like Detwiler, Espinosa and Marrero are
all having good years, and I think McGeary has the potential to get
going soon. There’s a lack of prospects at the higher levels of the
system, but I expect they’ll rank higher in our farm system rankings at
the end of the year.

    Desmond Jennings (Tampa): If I can stay healthy, can I become the next Tim Raines?

Ben Badler: I’m not comparing anyone to a guy who should be in the Hall of Fame.

    Damon (Los Angeles, CA): Whats the report on Angel Castillo? 19 year old in midwest league holding his own seems promising.

Ben Badler: He’s got some power, and scouts have told me the ball makes a different sound coming off his bat, but he’s still pretty raw.

    SprungOnSports (Long Island): Gerardo Parra
    homered in his first big league game up from AA, what will he be able
    to bring the Diamondbacks this season and going forward?

Ben Badler: I wouldn’t expect too many more home runs,
but he’s got a good eye at the plate, doesn’t chase too many pitches
outside of the strike zone and has the hand-eye coordination to hit
breaking balls. He’s filled out and he looks like he’s slowed down a
tick since I saw him last year, but he should be an above-average
defender in RF immediately.

    David (Milton): Lonnie Chisenhall has really
    suprised me this year. I thought he was an over draft by the Indians
    last year, but the kid can hit. Does he look like the future 3B for the

Ben Badler: He had some makeup concerns that dropped
him, so maybe that’s why I liked the pick at the time. He’s always been
able to hit, and it’s not hard to see why. He has good balance, rhythm,
good hands, handles breaking balls well. And he’s showing some
surprising power now since his move to third base. He’s probably a top
three prospect in that system at the end of the year.

    Shane (Miami): Love Hot-Sheet Fridays! Great
    work. Can you tell us what Kelly throws and if this his talent on the
    mound will the Sox even try him at SS this year?

Ben Badler: Low-90s fastball, a good curveball and a
changeup. The plan was to move him to SS at the end of the year, and
I’m sure the Red Sox will still let him play there if he wants. But if
I’m Kelly, I’m staying on the mound to get to the big leagues faster.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Nick Weglarz got off
    to a horrid start for Akron (earning a spot on the Not So Hot list) but
    he's batting .448 with a .541 on-base percentage and a .793 slugging
    percentage in May, driving in 14 of Akron's 48 runs in the month. Ready
    to move up to the Hot List?! What I don't understand is how a kid from
    Canada can't hit in cold weather?

Ben Badler: People talk about how Canadian hitters
should be able to hit in the cold weather and warm-weather kids should
be expected to struggle in April, but I’ve always been dubious of that
claim. Weglarz still had a great approach at the beginning of the
season and he has plus raw power, so it’s only a matter of time before
his numbers get up to where we’d expect them to be.

    Todd (Maryland): I've been reading that Kyle
    Blanks is playing OF because Adrian Gonzalez is blocking his path at
    first with the Padres. Would the Rangers organization consider moving
    Justin Smoak to the OF with Chris Davis playing first in Arlington?

Ben Badler: I doubt it. Smoak is an above-average defensive first baseman, I don’t see them moving him from the position.

    Ben (California): Can you compare OF prospects Michael Taylor and Daryl Jones for us?

Ben Badler: They’re both corner outfielders, but
Taylor has about half a foot and 50-60 pounds on Jones, so Taylor is
probably going to be the better power-hitting going forward. Both guys
started to better leverage their lower halves into their swings last
year, which is part of the reasons they were able to be successful last
year and carry that over into this season. Their stocks are both on the

    Jesse (Detroit): Most pleasantly surprising prospect of the year so far?

Ben Badler: Either Cubs 2B Tony Thomas or Reds CF Chris Heisey. I wouldn’t be surprised if Heisey turned out better than Drew Stubbs.

    Justin (NJ): Better long term prospect: Angel Villalona or Michael Stanton?

Ben Badler: Stanton

    walter (plano, texas): Huge jayson heyward
    fan...everyone speaks of his hitting ability. Give us the scouting
    report on his defense and his timetable to AA. Much thanks.

Ben Badler: Heyward’s a good athlete, runs well for a
guy his size, and he’s probably an average to solid-average runner
right now. He has a plus arm, too, so he should be an average to
above-average defender in right field. I could see him in Double-A by
July, but that’s just a guess. It’s not like teams are telling us
months in advance when they’re planning to promote a guy.

    Gerry (Philly): What ceiling does Dominic Brown have - future All Star or decent player?

Ben Badler: He has all-star potential.

    T.J (Naperville, IL): The Cubs really seem to
    have some intriguing arms in the system (McDaniel, Cales, Archer, Gaub,
    Carpenter, Cashner, Coleman and Jackson). Nice to see, but of these
    guys, which ones have the brightest future?

Ben Badler: Jay Jackson’s a little under the radar,
but I’d take him over any of them, even Cashner. He has good stuff and
a knack for missing bats.

    Jim (Savage, MN): With the way highly regarded
    19 yr old pitchers Martin Perez and Casey Kelly are dominating hitters
    in class A, do you think there's any chance they find themselves in AA
    this summer despite their young age?

Ben Badler: I don’t think either of them make it out
of the South Atlantic League this year.
Sorry, but right now ESPN has a camera crew 15 feet away from my desk
filming BA college guru Aaron Fitt for a story on Stephen Strasburg. I
think they’re getting one of those “look at him hard at work at his
desk” shots right now, but it is a little distracting, so I’m gonna
call it a day.
I’m heading home, spending my Saturday sitting by the pool, writing
about Wagner Mateo and some of the other top 16-year-old Latin American
prospects for this year’s July 2 class. Thanks for all the questions,
you know where to reach me.