Prospect Hot Sheet Chat: Aug. 22

Moderator: Hi everyone, Ben Badler
here. It looks like David Price is starting in Durham on Saturday,
while Tommy Hanson and Brett Sinkbeil are going to square off later
tonight at Carolina. It should be another great weekend of for prospect
watching in the BA area, so unless anyone has some objections, we’re
gonna get started a little early.

 Q:  Steve from Fairfax, VA asks:
Tillman’s recent return to his dominant form is encouraging, but is he
ready to get a shot at the rotation next spring? What is the Orioles
best course of action with Tillman?

Ben Badler:
The rare week with no Orioles on the Hot Sheet top 13… No, Tillman
won’t be ready for the majors next year, and there’s no need to rush
him there next year since it doesn’t look like the Orioles will contend
anyway. He is a great prospect, one of the best pitching prospects in
the minors, but his present command would get whacked around in the big
leagues. Not a knock on Tillman, just a reminder to O’s fans to be

 Q:  Dave from Chicago, IL asks:
Villalona, Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey, that’s three guys for
catcher and first base. Do you see the Giants trying to convert any, or
trade one away?

Ben Badler:
Not soon, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move Sandoval
off of catcher now that they have Posey. I really, really like
Sandoval, no matter if he stays at catcher or moves to first base, but
there are scouts we’ve talked to who are critical of his receiving
skills. Keep in mind that Sandoval is relatively new to catching, so
that could improve, but there are questions about whether his 5-11,
245-pound frame can handle that load. But right now, they can keep each
of those guys at the positions they’re at now and be fine. Big V is,
even in an ideal world, at least a few years away from the big leagues,
if not more, so there’s no need to trade away one of those guys to
clear way for the other.

 Q:  Chad from Connecticut asks:
you please update Jordan Schafer’s MLB ETA for me? Do you think he gets
a September callup or will he just play winter ball as he mentioned in
his article?

Ben Badler:
He could be with the big league club by next year, although my guess is
he starts in Triple-A. I don’t see a call-up for him this year,
probably just winter ball. I can’t imagine the Braves would want to
give him that challenge this year instead of finishing on a high note
with Mississippi.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
job on the Hot Sheet, guys. Madison Bumgarner is having an amazing
year, no doubt about it. But how much is he just dominating low A
hitters with a great fastball and command? What reports are you getting
on the progress of his breaking ball and changeup? Will his secondary
stuff hold him back, and where will he rank at the end of the year with
regards to Buster Posey and Tim Alderson? Thanks.

Ben Badler:
Thanks for the kind words. It’s a good question because I think a lot
of it right now is great fastball and great fastball command, much
better than I think any of us thought it would be. The breaking ball is
making some progress, but it’s still sweep, and the arm slot might
always inhibit the pitch for him. And he doesn’t really need a changeup
against the hitters he’s facing, so he’s only a guy with one plus pitch
right now. But he’s young, so he’s a good prospect, but I’m not as
enamored as others. For me, he’s probably the No. 5 guy in that system
behind, in no particular order, Posey, Alderson, Villalona, and
Sandoval. Yes, I really do like Sandoval’s bat that much.

 Q:  Chris from Connecticut asks:
Who will have the better big league career, Lars Anderson or Matt LaPorta?

Ben Badler: Lars

 Q:  Tristan from California asks:
The A’s Farm System will rank in the top 10 by the end of this season, True or False?

Ben Badler: You could make a really strong case for chopping the zero off that number.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Blanks athletic enough to move to the OF (he looks like he could be
Dave Parker’s kid), or is he confined to 1b? Does he hit well enough
and for enough power to have a future at 1b or Rf?

Ben Badler:
He is very athletic and runs surprisingly well for a man his size, but
he’d be much better suited for first base. I’ve been on the Blanks
Bandwagon for a while, and I don’t think there’s a better prospect in
the organization than him right now. San Antonio is one of the tougher
parks for hitters in the Texas League, so given that context (and him
still being just 21) is impressive.

 Q:  Bob from RI asks:
Is Almanzar more likely a bust or major league starter?? Do you rate Will Middlebrooks or Michael Almanzar higher at third base?

Ben Badler:
In terms of “more likely,” the answer is bust, but that’s just the rate
of success for high bonus international signings in recent years, not
that that’s necessarily the talent pool we want to compare Almanzar.
But as far as his performance in Low-A goes, it’s not indicative of
much. He’s 17. He could spend 2009 and 2010 in the league, then return
to the league in 2011 and still be a 20-year-old in Low-A, which is
just fine. He has plenty of potential and I would put him ahead of
Middlebrooks, but he a long ways to go.

 Q:  Brendan from PA asks:
Do you project Moustakas to be anywhere near as good as Longoria?

Ben Badler:
No, and I think Moustakas could be a very good big leaguer hitter, but
there are very few players in baseball as good as Evan Longoria RIGHT
NOW (well, when healthy). That he’s still just 22 and about four to six
years away from his peak is pretty scary.

 Q:  SprungOnSports from Long Island asks:
you think Tabata woke up after his trade and is he back on track to
being a top OF prospect or does he still have a ways to go?

Ben Badler:
I think he’s just had a nice stretch, which coupled with the trade
makes for a nice narrative that he’s suddenly turning it all around
with a change of scenery. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening. I
do think he’s improving, as all young players do, but I don’t think we
have any idea whether the trade woke him up. There’s still upside
there, but the odds of him reaching it are lower than we probably
thought earlier in the season.

 Q:  Chris from Boston asks:
Heyward and Michael Stanton are tow SAL league outfielders that are
having great seasons. Could you please comment on their skill sets and
what type of players you think they can become?

Ben Badler:
Both of them are outstanding prospects with a lot of similarities: big
time power (Stanton has a little more present power), great size,
athleticism, both very young and they run well. Heyward for me is a
tick above Stanton because he has a better feel for the strike zone and
doesn’t swing and miss as much as Stanton. There’s probably a little
more risk involved with Stanton, but the upside is tremendous. He’s
just huge and has such great size for someone his age, and then his
athleticism is remarkable for someone his size.

 Q:  Troy from San Diego asks:
Hey guys, more upside Jason Heyward or Austin Jackson?

Ben Badler: Heyward

 Q:  Tristan from California asks:
What is James Simmons ceiling? Can he pitch his way into being a big time prospect?

Matt Eddy:
Simmons seems like a safe bet as No. 3 type guy. The righthander’s
sinker and plus changeup make him very effective against lefty batters,
but the lack of a truly dominating breaking ball makes him a dicey bet
for frontline status. But with all the young pitching in Oakland’s
pipeline, he may not have to be better than a 3.

 Q:  Dave B from Pittsburgh asks:
even counting the many fine first basemen just drafted, or the
prospects who are likely to move to 1B, there seem to be so many
legitimate 1B prospect right now. Blanks, Anderson, Mills, Freeman,
Morrison, Villalona, Marrero, Doolittle, Ka’aihue etc. Is there enough
separation between them to give a reasonable ranking?

Ben Badler: Big year in the minors for catchers too. I like all of them, but Morrison and Anderson stand out the most.

 Q:  Jon from Chandler asks:
do you think will happen with Kyle Blanks? He seems blocked in San
Diego, but the guy is way too good to stay in the minors for long. Your

Matt Eddy:
Since the Padres are not contenders this year, and may not be next
year, the logical answer is: trade the veteran Gonzalez to make room
for Blanks. Trouble with that is, the Padres can keep Gonzalez around
for three more years (through age 29) at just $13.25 million. In other
words, he’s simply too good and too valuable to trade.

Matt Eddy:
The Padres have resisted trying Blanks in the outfield because he’s
just so physically unwieldy . . . but if Blanks continues to hit at
Triple-A next season, then San Diego has to at least consider trading
the youngster for help elsewhere.

 Q:  Colby from Queens, NY asks:
Any considerations for Dellin Betances? Is he on your watch list?

Jim Shonerd:
Betances did indeed make the watch list this week. He’s been close
several times, he just hasn’t been able to make the final cut yet.

 Q:  Riley from Cincinnati asks:
Thanks for the chat. Who do you think will end up being the best big
league starter out of the trio of Adam Miller, David Huff, and Hector

Ben Badler:
Call be stubborn (I’ve been called worse), but I still think highly of
Miller. If he doesn’t stick as a starter, I still like him as an ace

 Q:  Jay from Melville asks:
What do you see in the future for Fred Freeman, 1B Braves.



Ben Badler: Huge upside, potential star who could soar up the prospect charts with another big year next season.

 Q:  Ead Bortman from Chicago, IL asks:
How does Vitters compare to Moustakas at this point? Where do you see Vitters starting out next spring (Peoria/Daytona)?

Ben Badler:
Boise is a great place to hit, so Vitters is definitely benefiting from
that. I’ll take Moustakas, who is a better power hitter and is actually
in a full season league, which is where the No. 2 or 3 pick in the
draft from the previous season should at least be.

 Q:  billy martin from ny asks:
still don’t understand your guys infatuation with Angel Villanoa. He
isn’t even in the same class when it comes to Jesus Montero. Just look
at the stats, you guys are excited he hit .300 in 1 month in just 70
ab’s. Jesus is hitting .320 for the season! Show the guy some respect

Ben Badler:
That’s a fair question, although I’m not sure we all agree here on
which of them is better. One of the big differences between the two
players is age. Villalona is about nine months younger than Montero,
which is fairly significant at their age. It’s not like the difference
between 27 and 28 or 22 and 23. So much skills development and physical
maturity is going on at their age that their improvement can be
astronomical. All that said, I prefer Montero right now, not even
necessarily with the positional difference but just as a hitter. He’s
one of the better prospects in baseball.

 Q:  Ted from Chicago asks:
who do you think will be make the biggest impact of the september callups?

Ben Badler: David Price

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Cederic Hunter already play for the Padres AAA under the name of Will
Venable- a players that has some speed and athleticism, but not enough
to play CF or be a stolen base threat, and someone who will hit for
average, but never for power. Does Hunter profile as anything more than
a 4th OFer type?

Matt Eddy:
Maybe. Venable may be taxed as a CF regular, but he’s shown encouraging
growth this year at Triple-A, in picking up center field and hitting
for more power. Hunter has a similar overall profile, but he’s also got
more time to develop.

 Q:  Andy from Cheney, Wa asks:
Tuiasasopo seems like he flies under the radar. Is there any chance
that after this season he starts recieving some attention as a prospect
to keep your eye on?

Matt Eddy:
Are you forgetting we ranked him No. 10 in the Mariners system coming
into the year? Not bad for a player who hit .260/.371/.404 in Double-A.

Matt Eddy:
Tuiasosopo has done nothing to tarnish his standing as a prospect his
season. He’s batting .266/.354/.434 with 29 doubles and 12 homers for
Tacoma, making solid improvements across the board.

 Q:  John from Chicago asks:
Is JHOULYS CHACIN for real, seems like he came out of no where. How long before he gets a call?

Ben Badler:
Chacin’s stuff has improved significantly from last year, although in
our marathon minor league opening day chat I did peg him as a my
breakout candidate for ’08 (along with Kasey Kiker… didn’t go quite
as well, although he’s been solid). The Rockies are being careful with
him now toward the end of the season, as it’s unusual to see a good
prospect leading the ENTIRE minor leagues in innings (173). He’s still
a couple years away at least.

 Q:  Darren from UK asks:
rumored possible PTBNLs in the Sabathia trade are Brantley, Green and 2
other (with one possibly Lucroy). Who would you pick?

Ben Badler: I don’t know if that is accurate, but Lucroy, Green, Brantley would be my preference.

 Q:  Ryan from Charlottesville, VA asks:
idea why the O’s have kept Reimold at AA so long? He’s been pretty
consistent there and his age says he needs to keep moving up.

Ben Badler: I don’t, and it’s not like there’s any prospects in Norfolk blocking him either.

 Q:  Carl from Maryland asks:
Wieters or Price as the number 1 prospect?

Ben Badler: Wieters

 Q:  Ronnie from Oak asks:
Saunders or Aaron Cunningham? Are they two of the better AAA OF
prospects in the 21-22 age range? Which one has higher upside? Any
chance they make it up to the show in ’09? These guys are gritty

Matt Eddy:
Saunders by a good bit, for me, over Cunningham. Better athlete, lefty
bat, plus speed, more power. Saunders is very good, but Cunningham is
solid in all facets.

Matt Eddy: Colby Rasmus and Andrew
McCutchen are your two best 21-22 Triple-A outfielders, and Travis
Snider is still just 20 and hitting like crazy in Triple-A. I’d take
Snider over any of them just for his hit and power tools alone.

 Q:  Taylor from St. Pete asks:
I know it’s early, but what are your impressions of Tim Beckham so far? Have you heard anything from scouts?

Ben Badler:
Loaded with tools and athleticism, made some significant strides
defensively this year to make better use of those tools, but he still
has plenty more strides he needs to make at the plate. The Appy League
isn’t the smoothest game to watch, but it’s a much higher level of
competition than he was used to facing in his Georgia high school games.

Ben Badler: That’s all for me. Same time next week.