Prospect Hot Sheet Chat: May 9

Moderator: Ben Badler will answer your Hot Sheet questions beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Ryan from Columbus, OH asks:
know the Cubs system has been down for the past couple years but
where’s the love for some of the prospects? Donnie Veal is 2-1 with a
2.67 ERA in AA. Colvin is struggling with AA pitching but I think Veal
should at least sniff the board. Thanks for taking my question.

Ben Badler:
Busy week here at Baseball America, but busy is fun… kicking our
minor league prospect coverage into full gear, doing draft calls and
getting ready for the July 2 international signings—Michael Inoa isn’t
the only guy who’s going to get big money—so I’ll try to rifle off as
many questions as I can.

Ben Badler: I’ve never been on
the Veal bandwagon, and I’m not ready to hop on board now. He wasn’t
really close to Hot Sheet this week, since he allowed five runs in four
innings in his only start, and control is still a problem. It’s been a
pretty down year for Cubs prospects, with Colvin struggling, Josh
Vitters only making a brief splash in full season ball, and Tony Thomas
and Josh Donaldson going through an adjustment period in their first
full seasons too.

 Q:  Tim from MO asks:
What is wrong with Colby Rasmus?

Ben Badler:
Nothing, really. Guys go through five-week stretches like this all the
time, especially when they’re young for their level. I talked to a
scout the other day who said he was far and away the best player on the
field and that he looked like a Steve Finley-Grady Sizemore hybrid.

 Q:  Kevin from MN asks:
Luke Hughes been an oversight? He has only appeared once on the hot
sheet as a Helium watch. He has been probably the best offensive player
thus far in the Eastern League and has scored at least a run in the
last 10 games he’s played in.

Ben Badler:
Not an oversight, Hughes had a good but not outstanding week. I talked
to him yesterday… he’s going to miss a couple of games because he
tweaked his hamstring, but playing baseball all winter has probably
helped him get out to the great start he’s having in New Britain… in
a semi-related international baseball note, it sounds like Houston
isn’t going to let Stubby Clapp play in the Olympics in August… Team
Canada just won’t be the same.

 Q:  Steve from Tallahassee, Florida asks:
there any truth to the rumor that Clayton Kershaw will be called up and
make his Major League debut on May 17th? Or is that just some
over-speculation by some journalists?

Ben Badler:
I would be shocked if Kershaw was called up to the big leagues. The
Dodgers want to limit Kershaw’s workload by keeping him in the bullpen
for a brief period, which is fine… I wouldn’t read much more into
that, especially since his command isn’t big league ready right now. If
anyone deserves a shot at some point in the year, it would be James
McDonald before Kershaw, even though Kershaw clearly has the higher

 Q:  Stephen Strasburg from San Diego asks:
Ben, Although i’m still in college, can I get an honorable mention for
the Hot Sheet. I just struckout double digits again last night. What do
you think?

Ben Badler:
I heard great things about you in the NECBL this summer, Steve, but I
can’t believe how good you’ve been this year already. Strike out 23
guys again and we’ll consider your proposal further.

 Q:  Anton from the Bronx asks:
Ben, Do you think the Yankees are mis-handling Jose Tabata? Is his bat good enough to handle Double A pitching right now?

Ben Badler:
I don’t think anyone outside of the player’s organization can make a
fully informed assessment of whether a player is being properly
handled, but from a tools/performance standpoint, I don’t see the
reason for Tabata being in Double-A. At some point in the next couple
weeks, I hope to have something up on the site about the track records
of teenagers in Double-A, but I can tell you that being a 19-year-old
in Double-A is no sign of surefire success. As for Tabata’s recent
suspension, I wouldn’t knock him too much for it; most of us were
fortunate enough to have not had the things we did when we were 19
years old enter the public spotlight.

 Q:  keith from New Jersey asks:
Questions… How good do you think Bud Norris is going to be and is he
A Legit prospect? What’s going on with Henry Sosa? I see that he only
pitched one inning this year and how good do you think he will be?

Ben Badler:
Norris seems to profile better in the bullpen, where his fastball
reaches greater velocity because he’s only throwing in shorter spurts.
He gets out of rhythm a bit with his delivery at times, and his
secondary stuff (he’s throwing a slider this year, not a curveball,
according to his pitching coach) isn’t quite good enough to be a
starter, but we’ve definitely taken note of what Norris has done early
this year.

Ben Badler: Sosa had knee surgery in the
offseason, so he’s in extended right now. he should join a full-season
club soon at some point, possibly at some point this month.

 Q:  James from Warrensburg, MO asks:
Lofgren has been pretty horrible this year so far, however his last 2
starts have been pretty good with his last start going 7 ip, 4 h, 1 er,
7 so’s. Do you finally see him moving into the right direction and
possibly getting back to his dominating 2006 season when he won 17

Ben Badler:
I’m probably lower than most on Lofgren, who does have good stuff, but
he still has command issues and doesn’t miss quite enough bats for me
to be sold on him as an elite pitching prospect.

 Q:  Scott from Dickeyville,WI asks:
do the Brewers do w/ Gamel? He obviously can’t stay at 3rd, and I
assume the only other place for him would be a corner outfield
position, but he’s kind of blocked there. A trade may be the only
option, unless there’s a serious injury.

Ben Badler:
You never quite know what will happen with prospects, or any baseball
player really given the variance in year-to-year performance, but Gamel
sure looks blocked, doesn’t he? He’s no better than Ryan Braun was
defensively, so putting him third would annihilate most of the value he
would bring with the bat. That means he has to be a corner OF guy or a
first baseman, but you’ve got Prince Fielder, Braun and Matt LaPorta
handling that. Maybe the Brewers could petition a move back to the AL?
In all seriousness, given what the Brewers handled Braun, I wouldn’t be
surprised to see them let Gamel try his hand for a little while longer
at third base to see if he can at least become a slightly-below-average
defender there. One of those good problems to have if you’re a team, I

 Q:  john from NY asks:
was wondering why Alfred Figaro was not included in any part of the hot
sheet? A complete game three hitter with eleven strikeout and no walks
should garner some sorta of attention. I was also wondering how you
think the Reds promoting Frazier and Valakia would affect their status
on upcoming Hot Sheets?

Ben Badler:
A 23-year-old in Low A would have to strike out at least 15 guys, walk
none and maybe even do some volunteer work in the community to make the
Hot Sheet. Props to Figaro for his performance, though.

 Q:  james from texas asks:
could CHE-HSUAN LIN become a 5 tool prospect

Ben Badler:
Lin is one of the most interesting prospects in the lower minors right
now. He already has the 70 arm, plus speed and fielding skills, and
he’s got a good approach at the plate. The bat is a weapon too… not
sure if that fifth tool, the power, will be an above-average tool, but
there’s some projection there too. Right now he’s more of a line-drive

 Q:  Picklefork from St.Louis asks:
No Shane Robinson…what does he have to do…solve World Hunger first?

.429 on the year, .447 the past 10 games


Ben Badler:
Any minor leaguer who solves either world hunger or world peace, or
even if they just find the cure for restless leg syndrome, is
guaranteed a spot on Hot Sheet from now on… or at least a mention in
the team photo. Robinson really struggled last year, showed some
selectivity at the plate, but a stretch of 30 good games in the Texas
League aren’t going to catapult a guy that far.

 Q:  Frank from Boise asks:
I enjoyed your report on Mariners’ prospect Michael Saunders. What do
you see to be his ultimate ceiling? Are we talking about a potential
All-Star, someone who plays CF and hits 30 HRs, or something more along
the lines of an above-average regular? Thanks.

Ben Badler:
Thanks, Frank. He has all-star potential—I don’t think he’s a guy who
averages 30 HRs a year, if that’s what you mean, because only the elite
players average that much, but he could hit 15-20 home runs a year in
the big leagues as he fills out his frame. Tremendous tools,
athleticism and bat speed for Saunders. As he fills out, he may lose a
step of that above average speed, which would hurt him defensively, but
even if he does he could probably still be passable there.

 Q:  Brett from Long Island asks:
When will Trevor Cahill be moved up to AA Midland? Does he have top-of-the-rotation potential?

Ben Badler:
I can’t imagine it should take him much more time to reach Midland. He
does have top of the rotation potential with his nasty
fastball/curveball combination, good delivery and athleticism.

Who is better James McDonald or Charlie Morton?? Also what postition does Brandon Waring project at in the big leagues

Ben Badler:
McDonald, and I don’t think that one’s really close. Waring has some
work to do defensively, so he might end up at first or a corner
outfield position, especially because it sounds like he’s neither quick
nor athletic out there at third.

 Q:  Andy W. from Iowa City asks:
about Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia making the jump from AA with a great
performance for AAA Memphis last night? Is Garcia back to being a great

Ben Badler:
I think so, since Garcia has long been a favorite pitching prospect of
mine, though his elbow injury that he suffered in the middle of last
year still lingers in my mind.

 Q:  Doug from NYC asks:
Trevor Cahill- next Brandon Webb? Also- what is to make of Rick Porcello’s lack of K’s?

Ben Badler:
Slapping a perennial Cy Young-caliber comp on a guy is unfair, no
matter how much you (or I) love Cahill. Porcello is a 19-year-old in
High A… that he has a 1.98 ERA through 36 innings, 3 walks per nine
and even 5.5 K’s per nine is superb. He’s facing much, much older, more
advanced competition than anything he ever saw in high school. It’s
important to know what the stats mean, but it’s also just as important
to know what they don’t mean.

 Q:  Tako from San Diego asks:
you whet my appetite for more info. Besides Inoa, can you share some
info on the top international guys drawing lots of interest/looking at
big paydays?

Ben Badler:
OK, I’ll give you one, although you may have already read about him a
little bit about him on our blog: OF Johermyn Chavez from Venezuela.
Could be a big pay day for the young man.

 Q:  Steven from New York asks:
If Cahill gets promoted to AA will Henry Rodriguez be sent down?

Ben Badler:
Teams typically don’t like to demote prospects unless they think the
player is completely over his head or they want to send him back down
to work on something specific, a la my man Edinson Volquez last year,
so I don’t see that happening.

 Q:  Rod from Long Beach , NY asks:
Does Brignac become a star , or just an average shortstop ?

Ben Badler: Above-average, though it may take a few years to happen. He’s still 22—very young.

 Q:  Ben from Columbus, OH asks:
Hi Ben! How close is Daryl Thompson to the Hot Sheet (1.45 ERA, 43.1 IP), and how long before he gets moved up to Louisville?

Ben Badler:
I’m going to catch up with Thompson this weekend, but I wouldn’t be
surprised to see him in Louisville soon. The labrum problems in his
recent history still scare the bananas out of me though.

 Q:  Steven from New York asks:
Reid Engel…Snubbed?

Ben Badler:
Maybe… I could see the case for it, but he had four extra-base hits
in the past seven days, and three of them came at home at Lancaster.

 Q:  Kyle Waldman from Indianapolis, Indiana asks:
has Will Inman of San Diego, seemingly been overlooked in much of the
prospect rankings, not necessarily the Hot Sheet? He is off to a
terrific start in Double-A and with the exception of his brief stint in
Double-A last year he has been successful. So where do you project him
at and do you see him in the majors this year?

Ben Badler:
I like Inman, to a certain extent, as a strike-thrower with
solid-average stuff. He had a nice start this week, 8 Ks, 1 BB, 6 IP, 2
R, but not enough to knock any of the guys on Hot Sheet off the list. I
don’t see him in the majors this year, but I think the Padres clearly
got the better end of that deal last year with the Brewers.

 Q:  Phil from Missouri asks:
notice that Dan Cortes hasn’t pitched in awhile. Is his groin strain
that serious? Furthermore, do you think his ceiling is higher than
fellow Royal Luke Hochevar?

Ben Badler:
The Royals say he’s going to be back soon, that they’re just being
cautious with him. I’ve never been crazy about Cortes, who I think is a
solid guy but not an elite prospect. Hochevar hasn’t dominated as the
Royals had probably expected him to do so far, but I’d take him over
Cortes right now.

Ben Badler: By the way, if you’re a BA
subscriber, Alan Eskew wrote a must-read article about the off-field
stuff that Cortes has had to deal with, really incredible stuff:

 Q:  Mookie from Flushing, NY asks:
Fernando Martinez- too young for a summer call-up or Moises
Alou’s late season injury replacement?

Ben Badler:
WAY too early to be thinking about putting Martinez in the big leagues.
Look, he had a nice week, but even in a thin Mets farm system, there
are better options than Martinez for the 2008 season.

 Q:  Gord from Minny asks:
Follow-up on Porcello’s lack of k’s as a 19yr old, should we be even more impressed with Guerra at High A then?

Ben Badler:
A fair question, although Guerra has been hit around a bit more this
season, for whatever’s that’s worth. There’s a large gap, for me,
between Porcello and Guerra. Porcello has a top-notch fastball and
curve, and his change is a promising pitch too. Throw in the size, the
athleticism, the clean mechanics, and he’s about as good as you get for
a guy a year removed from high school. I’m nowhere near as high on
Guerra, who has a lot of question marks, starting with his breaking
ball, which is a below-average pitch. Does he have time to develop it?
Sure. But I can’t assume that it will, and I’m more inclined to assume
that it won’t. I don’t know if that makes me a pessimist, but that’s
what I’d lay my money on.

 Q:  Raj from Toronto asks:
Umm… doesn’t Johermyn Chavez play with the jays at lansing?

Ben Badler:
Good catch. Johermyn Rodriguez was the outfielder from Venezuela who
could be getting the big bucks. Chavez is with Lansing, and not playing
so well right now either.

 Q:  Greg from Orchard Farm asks:
about some love for Madison Bumgarner? By the end of the season he
should be one of the best pitching prospects in the game.

Ben Badler:
Bumgarner got some love in the Team Photo, but one of the best pitching
prospects in the game? I can’t quite get on that until he develops the
breaking ball a little further. Lefties with high-90s heat should
dominate low-A hitters. I think Alderson is the better arm in that

 Q:  Chris from Vermont asks:
mentioned Michael Inoa. If you were handicapping the race for him, how
would you rate the field and where do you think he ends up?

Ben Badler:
This probably won’t surprise anyone, but the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves,
Mariners and Mets should be the frontrunners, and from what I’ve heard,
the Yankees might have the edge right now, but the rumors surrounding
July 2 guys fly around at this time of year like the Lancaster winds,
which makes it’s tough to get a reliable grip on hooking up players
with specific teams.

 Q:  J.D. Drew from Boston, MA asks:
How soon will Josh Reddick replace me?

Ben Badler:
Way too early to be assuming Reddick can be a big league regular for a
team that can spend like Boston can to get a premium corner outfielder.
I think the better question is, how soon does Jed Lowrie take over for
Julio Lugo?

 Q:  Kyle from Indianapolis, Indiana asks:
What do you take out of Travis Snider’s slow start? Cause for concern or is he simply overmatched in Double-A?

Ben Badler:
The injury stuff probably has something to do with it, but I don’t
think anyone at BA expected Travis Snider to be second in the minor
leagues in strikeouts right now (the Braves’ Cody Johnson is #1, by the
way), so it is a bit of a concern because Snider’s premium bat is his
ticket to the big leagues. I’m still high on Snider though, so I
wouldn’t hit the panic button yet. If it’s a helpful frame of
reference, Snider is only about 6 months older than Jose Tabata and
Elvis Andrus. Heck, for all we rave about Clayton Kershaw, Snider’s
only about a month and a half older than Kershaw.

 Q:  Seebs from Little Rock, Arkansas asks:
Good Day sir. I am near last in my keeper NL only league and have Bruce, Headley, Fowler, Scheriholz
and Bonifacio in my reserves. When can I expect to get some help from
any of these guys and if you had to drop one, who would it be? Thanks

Ben Badler:
I wouldn’t expect much help from Bonifacio this year, and I think
Schierholtz’s plate discipline issues may make for a difficult initial
transition to the big leagues. The Rockies probably want Fowler to get
some more developmental time in the minor leagues, but Bruce should be
a stud once the Reds promote him to the big leagues, which shouldn’t be
too long now. I hope.

 Q:  Tom from New York asks:
Is there any hope left for Ricky Romero? He has been struggling all year, and hasn’t done much of anything since being drafted.

Ben Badler: Maybe as a marginal big leaguer, but certainly that’s not what you want when you take a guy sixth overall in the draft.

 Q:  Cory from Salinas, CA asks:
Should I be concerned with Villalona’s slow start?

Ben Badler: Not at all.

 Q:  Elliot Legow from Youngstown OH asks:
David Huff deserves to be at least in the Team Photo, doesn’t he?

Ben Badler: If we added one more pitcher, Huff was the next guy on the list.

 Q:  Brian from Texas asks:
Max Ramirez have a shot at being the Rangers Catcher of the future or
better yet a Major League catcher? Or does he turn into a DH with his
great bat?

Ben Badler:
There’s mixed reviews on whether Ramirez has what it takes to stay
behind the plate, and this is now his third organization after being
traded twice at the deadline. Does the defense need work? Yes. But I
also talked to a scout the other day who told me that the one position
where a guy with questionable fielding skills has the best chance of
improving is catcher because of the amount of repetitions he get, be it
in games or bullpen sessions. So many things can go wrong with a guy
like Salty or Teagarden that Ramirez could end up as the Rangers
catcher of the future.

 Q:  Scott from Springfield, Illinois asks:
Aaron Poreda make it close to the team photo? Are there any other
prospects having a good start for the White Sox that can give us
something to root for/hope for?

Ben Badler:
He got some consideration. Looking over the White Sox prospects, it’s a
pretty bleak picture. I think Oneli Perez has a big league future. John
Ely is holding his own in Winston-Salem, but he’s a so-so prospect.
That’s about all I can say without depressing you too much.

 Q:  Frank from Illinois asks:
I am like an ex-girlfriend that won’t stop calling, haha. What are your thoughts on Cole Rohrbough???

Ben Badler:
I’m fairly certain none of my ex-girlfriends have any desire to give me
a ring any time soon, but point taken. I love Rohrbough, thought he was
one of the elite pitching prospects in the minors before his recent
injury. Good fastball and it sounds like the curve is deadly.

 Q:  Anton from the Bronx asks:
your taking July 2nd questions … Do you see a Venezuelan kid this
year commanding a bigger bonus than that given to Jesus Montero?

Ben Badler:
There’s still a couple months to go, and plenty more information to
gather, but I could see that. And you might think it seems way too
early for this, but it sounds like the 2009 international signing class
could be even better than this year’s crop.

Ben Badler:
It’s been about two hours and there’s still a ton of questions in the
queue, but it’s back to the phones. It’s been fun… I’ll catch up with
you guys later.