Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (May 30) With Ben Badler

Ben Badler: Thanks for spending your Friday with us at BA. Let’s begin.

MJ (St Louis): What all of a sudden clicked for Springer over the past few weeks?
Ben Badler: Look at what he’s doing on pitches on the outer third of the plate. Last year that was a big hole for him. Now he’s going with those pitches and using right field, a part of the park he never used much before. He’s always going to be a high strikeout guy, but if he can maintain an all-fields approach instead of getting pull-happy, then his walks, power and speed are going to make him very valuable.

YankeeFan (NY): Peter O'Brien a future as Yankee DH or in the field?
Ben Badler: I don’t see him catching and I don’t see him getting on base enough to be an everyday 1B or DH, even with the power he brings.

J.T. Levine (AZ, IBC): Yo, Ben! Should the Tigers give Suarez a shot at the "Show" soon? How will he fare, would you guess?
Ben Badler: I’d let him get his feet wet in Triple-A and see how he handles it, beyond an outstanding first week. I wouldn’t expect him to be much more than a little bit above replacement level, but his upside is better than what they’re rolling out right now. I could see him up in the next month or two though—the Tigers aren’t shy about pushing their prospects.

Bren D. Levine (SD, IBC): If you had a race horse, would you name it "Ben Badler's Hot Horse," or the "Prospect Hot Sheet?"
Ben Badler: I’d probably name him after Mookie Betts. Or would that make more sense for the jockey’s name?

Jimmer (New Jersey): What can we expect from La Stella? He's obviously an upgrade over Uggla... But is Peraza the long term option at second?
Ben Badler: As long as La Stella stays healthy (and that’s a legitimate question mark given his history), he can be that guy. It’s a sweet swing that’s going to translate against major league pitching with a solid hitting approach, even if you’re not getting big time power and he’s going to give back some runs in the field. Think along the lines of Chris Coghlan’s rookie year, before he got hurt.

Giulia Cyoo (Not Telling): At what point should the Marlins call up Heaney in the interest of winning a playoff spot in 2014?
Ben Badler: If he’s still dominating PCL hitters over his next few starts, he should be up before the end of June.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Between Owens and Glasnow, who are you more confident in, in terms of finding the zone with more consistency?
Ben Badler: Great question. They both have such long levers that it’s hard for them to keep everything in sync. Owens’ control is a little ahead of Glasnow’s right now, so I’d lean toward him figuring it out. But with pitchers who are 6-6 and up, sometimes it takes into their mid-20s for that to click.

Rich (NJ): Have any scouts raised concerns about Clint Frazier's lack of production and high strikeout rate? Thanks
Ben Badler: That’s always been my hesitation with him. The bat speed and raw power are impossible to miss, but yeah, the aggressive approach and low contact frequency are red flags for me.

SK (Boston): Saw this question on a different chat and found it interesting: Who is the better prospect - Dalton Pompey or Manuel Margot?
Ben Badler: Pompey, and I’m probably one of Margot’s biggest fans. More safety and polish in Pompey’s present hitting ability.

MR (St. Louis): Been following your coverage on Despaigne. What's your best guess on what happens with him in the next 3 years?
Ben Badler: Unless something changes, seems like he could follow the Frederich Cepeda path and just stay in Cuba and spend his offseasons playing for a team in Japan. His family is there and, from everything I’m told, he lives much more comfortably there than most people. Plenty of agents (or, excuse me, middlemen) have approached him over the years about leaving, so if he hasn’t left at this point, I’m not sure he ever will.

Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Given your status as BA's international guru, which do you find more exciting, the draft or July 2?
Ben Badler: The draft—or at least the first few rounds of the draft—are the most fun to follow. Unless you’re Jim Callis circa 2005, there’s so much more uncertainty about where all of the players are going to end up compared to July 2. But the beauty of international scouting is you can sign players 12 months a year. The overall process of scouting and signing international amateur players is much more interesting compared to the draft.

slim (shadytown): Which probable 2B do you like to have the best career? Dilson Herrera, Delino Deshields, Arismendy Alcantara, or Trevor Story?
Ben Badler: Herrera. Most natural hitter of the group and he’s taken promising steps forward this year with less tinkering to his swing (which could be the result of being in a new organization) that has helped his contact frequency.

Belmont Stakes (Belmont Park): Do you like California Chrome to win the crown?
Ben Badler: Sure, but only because I couldn’t name anyone else in the race. Between MLB, minor league prospects, international amateurs, Japan, Korea, watching a ton of Cuban games this year, winter ball and everything else, I find myself pretty clueless about what’s going on in any sport besides baseball these days.

Matt (Jacksonville): Does Kris Bryant get promoted before rosters expand on Sept. 1st? Does he got to AAA first, or jump directly to Chicago?
Ben Badler: I know there’s Cubs fans expecting Bryant to be up this year, but I’d be surprised if they brought him up. He’s not on the 40-man roster, he hasn’t played above Double-A (although he’s certainly mastered the level) and the Cubs aren’t going anywhere this year. At some point in the next month or so, maybe around the Futures Game, Bryant’s going to get to Triple-A, but a 2015 debut seems more likely.

Paul (Missisauga,Ontario): Hi Ben how close are the blue jays from sigining some more top international talent on July 2
Ben Badler: I hear them connected to Juan Meza, who’s one of the top arms in Venezuela this year. From what I’m hearing, it sounds like that’s where they’re going to do the majority of their spending this year, and they really like one of the better defensive shortstops in Venezuela this year, Kevin Vicuna. I’ll have some more July 2 notebooks coming next week.

John (Chicago): I just looked up BA's final 2005 draft projection. How did he do that?
Ben Badler: Intelligence. Hard work. Witch craft?

A. Harhay (Courtroom): Can we all finally take a big sigh of relief on Baez, or do you think his struggles may continue?
Ben Badler: I do think he’s a much better player than he’s shown to start the season, but the jump in his strikeout rate and his tendency to overswing and losing the hitting approach he worked to improve last year is concerning. Still a premium prospect, but the second half of the season is going to be big for him to show he can adjust.

john (NY): if you had to re-rank your preseason minor league top prospects list, where would mookie Betts rank?
Ben Badler: I had him at 40 on my list coming into the season, but he’s a top 20 guy right now. We should have a full midseason Top 50 coming out around the time of the Futures Game.

Dan (Albuquerque, NM): You've done a great job writing about the scouting of younger and younger players on the international market. What do you think of the strategy of doing the opposite -- trying to find overlooked 18-year-olds and such?
Ben Badler: Historically, especially for pitchers, those guys are as good if not better bets than 16-year-olds. If you’re a 16-year-old pitcher—and I mean a real 16-year-old—there’s almost no chance you can have a present plus pitch. When you’re looking at kids who are 17 or 18, there’s less projection involved. I know a lot of teams would prefer to sign pitchers who aren’t in that 16-year-old, July 2 rush, and other teams just won’t pay big money for a 16-year-old pitcher because of the risk involved. It’s just so tough to evaluate pitchers in that environment when you’re getting limited game looks and only seeing them throw maybe a couple innings at a time, so it’s hard to gauge even an 18-year-old Dominican arm in that setting. But that’s where good scouts can separate themselves, and when you see a team like the Mets coming up with arms like Rafael Montero, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and all these other power arms in their farm system out of the Dominican Republic, I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Jake Levine (Black Swan, NY): Ben. I love your work for Baseball America. I think you are the best around. How did you break into the Prospect Scene? Asking for a friend! 🙂
Ben Badler: I went to UMass and majored in sport management, and I highly recommended the program if you want to work in baseball. Then like a lot of current and former Baseball America writers, I started here at BA as an intern before turning that into a full-time job later that summer. From there, it’s been going to a lot of games, picking the brains of some of the brightest minds in baseball to learn everything you can and being willing to work constantly and pushing yourself to evolve your understanding of the game in new ways.

Chuck (Bethel park pa): Gregory Polanco. Where does Ben see him in the Pirates batting order
Ben Badler: I tend to think batting order doesn’t matter all that much, but he has the OBP, power and speed to put him anywhere in the 1-4 slots of that lineup and you’ll be comfortable with him. I’d probably go 1 or 2 with him to maximize his PAs.

SK (Boston): Is Abiatal Avelino the Yankees' future SS?
Ben Badler: He’s the best prospect they’ve had at the position in a while. But he’s not going to be ready for at least another 2-3 years.

J.P. Starkey IV (Manchester, CT): Who are the top 3 Third Base Prospects right now?
Ben Badler: Miguel Sano, Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco.

SK (Boston): With short season ball coming up, who are some guys to look out for?
Ben Badler: The Blue Jays have a lot of talent coming from their extended spring program between Franklin Barreto, Richard Urena and Miguel Castro. Barreto would probably be in Low-A already in most other organizations. So would Lewis Thorpe, a Twins lefty who could jump into the Top 100 at some point.

Tyler (Nj): Ur thoughts on buxton lost season? Still has great future ?
Ben Badler: Still the best prospect in baseball.

Jas (Martinville): Hi Ben. Do you see any international stars joing MLB next season? Thanks
Ben Badler: Nobody at the level of Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu, unless something surprising happens in Cuba. But there’s really only a few truly elite players left in Cuba who would be straight to the big league guys with above-average potential (there are some younger prospect types I like), and it doesn’t look like Despaigne, Gourriel or Cepeda are coming out. Kenta Maeda is probably coming over from Japan and I think he’ll have success in MLB, but the scouting consensus on him is more of a solid back-end starter.

Hard 8 Jake (Shea's): #RealTalk here. Should the Yankees trade Gary Sanchez since J.R. Murphy is looking good?
Ben Badler: I’m not a big believer in Murphy, but I do think Sanchez is overvalued. If the Yankees can get something good back with Sanchez as the centerpiece of a deal, I’d do it.

Matt (Norfolk, VA): If anyone, who has stepped up and escillated their status from Mid-Rotation stater to front-of-the Roation starter up to this point in the season?
Ben Badler: Great question, since it seems like most of the potential frontline guys like Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, Kyle Zimmer, Jameson Taillon, Noah Syndergaard and CJ Edwards have only added question marks due to injuries. Just by virtue of staying healthy, maintaining their stuff and improving their performance at a higher level, two players who’s stock is up with frontline potential are Alex Meyer and Andrew Heaney. I don’t know that their ceiling has necessarily changed, but their ability to make progress and get closer to achieving their upside stands out in a year when so many pitchers are going in the wrong direction.

Mike (SF): how close are the Giants from sigining some top international talent on July 2
Ben Badler: Between Angel Villalona, Rafael Rodriguez and Gustavo Cabrera, I’m not sure they’re all that enthusiastic about going after the bigger names out there for July 2. Might take a strategy similar to last year’s.

Ty (Fargo): How do you think Jesse Winker's power will play in the majors?
Ben Badler: It’s plus raw power, and with his swing, pitch selection, the loft he generates and the contact frequency, he’s a threat for 25-30 homers a year in his prime. He could be a monster.

Perry (Earth): Ben, Who is going to win the Stanley Cup?
Ben Badler: The Rangers. I don’t know the other team playing. Shonerd’s going to kill me.

Michael Labella-Starkey (Grand Finale): Is Kris Bryant more of a 20 or 30 homerun guy?
Ben Badler: He has 80 raw power. A 40 home run season isn’t out of the question, but he should be a 30-plus guy by the time he’s in his mid-20s, if not sooner.

DANNY LEVINE (THE TABLET): Hi. Thoughts on the Indians this year? Organization having a down year as a whole... cheer me up with a good, "unknown" prospect to look forward to?
Ben Badler: Francisco Lindor is going to be glorious. I want to see him do it against Double-A and Triple-A pitchers, but Erik Gonzalez is one of the most improved players in the organization and he’s turning his athleticism and tools into skills that are starting to translate at the plate. Your assessment of the year the system is having as a whole is fair.

Robby (Mass): Dilson Herrera or Franklin Barreto - better long term prospect in a dynasty league?
Ben Badler: Barreto, if you can tolerate someone who’s further away. More speed than Herrera and every scout I talk to says he can hit.

Rich (NJ): Following on from the Kris Bryant HR/year estimates, where would you say Maikel Franco fits in?
Ben Badler: You can throw a 70 on his raw power. He has the hand-eye coordination to put the bat to the ball consistently, but there are adjustments he’s going to have to make with his hitting approach and plate discipline to get himself into more hitters’ counts and swinging and pitches he can drive instead of settling for weak contact just because he’s able to connect with the ball. You’re seeing Mike Moustakas go through some of those struggles right now. If he can figure it out, he’s a potential 30-plus homer bat.

Ben Badler: Thanks for sending in all the questions. Hope you guys enjoy the weekend, watch some regionals and get a chance to peruse all the incredible draft content those guys have been cranking out. Next week should be a fun one.