Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With Ben Badler

Ben Badler: With the Futures Game on Sunday, Victor Sanchez throwing a no-hitter in the middle of the week and the Cuban national team in the United States for a five-game series, who says it’s a slow week for baseball?

Reid (Austin): I read that Correa has grown an inch (6'5) since the time he was drafted (6'4). Should the Astros be concerned? I know A-Rod was tall for a SS, but are him and Correa in the same category defensively?I assume he will have to move over to 3B like Machado.
Ben Badler: I talked about this on the podcast with JJ, but Correa’s size was striking in person, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s up to 6-5 by now. The bigger he is, the greater the odds he might have to move off the position, but I do think he has enough potential to possibly stick at shortstop. The good thing with him is it’s not going to make a huge difference if he does have to move to third base because the offensive potential is just outstanding.

mike C (boston): who has a bigger ceiling - Matt Harvey- Archie Bradley for the long term
Ben Badler: It’s a No. 1 starter ceiling for both. You have to take Harvey because he’s realizing that potential right now and Bradley’s command is going to have to improve, but Bradley has absolute wipeout stuff.

fred (cleveland): would you be surprised if Lindor hit 12+ homers a year in the majors?
Ben Badler: Not at all. He should be a 10-15 HR guy in his prime.

Steven Alengakis (NYC): Good afternoon, Dellin Betances has excelled thus far as a reliever. What is the feeling amongst scouts/your opinion as to whether he can be an effective late-inning major league reliever? With Joba and Boone Logan probably leaving after this season, perhaps Dellin could be part of the Yankee bullpen next year. Your thoughts?
Ben Badler: The command is too erratic to trust him in high-leverage situations, but I do think there’s a middle relief role for him in the big leagues.

CyMature (Western Mass): Hi Ben, are you hearing anything about Gary Sanchez' progress as a receiver? I know the bat is promising, but he's so much more valuable lf he can become a decent catcher. Thanks.
Ben Badler: Legitimate improvement, according to scouts from other teams, which is encouraging, because he was a really poor receiver when he signed. He’s always had the arm for the position.

Dirk Von Butterworth (Erie PA): With the Rangers involved in multiple trade rumors (including Garza), Odor and Sardinas inevitably come up. Which of the two would you target?
Ben Badler: I like both but I have more confidence in Odor’s bat. Sardinas is an excellent defender with a contact-oriented swing, but I do want to see him get stronger and in his case I don’t think it’s a given. I like him, but with Odor, the raw tools aren’t as loud, but the guy plays a premium position, he hits everywhere he goes, his swing is clean and there’s surprising power for a guy his size. It’s hard to see how the Rangers could fit him into that infield, so he would certainly be a trade target if I’m a GM with a trade chip.

Mick (Chicago): Lewis Thorpe was mentioned in the list today. Is he the best /only Australian prospect worth talking about in the minors currently? Will that country be a bigger contributor in the future or has it stagnated?
Ben Badler: He’s exciting, although I’m not even sure he’s the best Australian prospect who signed last year. He and Red Sox LHP Daniel McGrath are going to be fun to follow. Australia didn’t have anyone at that level this year, but the arrows are pointing in the right direction for both of those arms.

Pete Lunchbox (Norwalk OH): One of the knocks on Chris Owings I always heard was that he probably wouldn't stick at SS. Then in the futures game he made a number of nice plays and looked smooth turning double plays. Can Owings be a league average or better defender at SS? If so, who would you rather have long term him or Gregorious?
Ben Badler: Owings is a shortstop for me, but other than present power, almost everything he does, Gregorius does better. Gregorius is their shortstop of the future.

Ted (Buffalo, NY): What kind of player do you project Lewis Brinson to become?
Ben Badler: He’s having way too much trouble making contact in the Sally League. There’s raw power there, but I don’t see it playing against better pitching.

Michael (Phoenix): Who are your big GCL breakouts so far? Would Luis Severino be one of them?
Ben Badler: He’s been impressive. Obviously you have Luis Torrens on the Yankees too, but we had him as the No. 2 international prospect for July 2 last year so I don’t know if I’d call that a breakout, but the guy who’s come from under the radar on that team has been a shortstop, Thairo Estrada. We pegged him as a sleeper coming into the year as a cheap $49,000 sign, but I figured he’d spend a year in the DSL. The fact that he’s performing already in the GCL is impressive, especially for a guy with some above-average tools in the field.

Chris (The Yay): Is Xander Bogaerts good?
Ben Badler: Is it toasty in the northeast today?

Marc (Chicago): Is Courtney Hawkins going to be able to recover from this season? Any chance he's demoted to get some reps at a lower level?
Ben Badler: I don’t understand why they haven’t demoted him yet. There’s no question he’s in over his head and that’s been clear since April, which is the problem when you give a guy with pitch recognition issues such an aggressive assignment, because nobody’s going to want to demote any player, let alone your first-round pick from a year ago. At this point, I don’t see them moving him down.

Nick (Washington DC): If you were told by a Magical Prospect Deity that next year at this time, the best prospect in all of baseball would not be someone who made this year's mid season top 50, who would you guess he's talking about?
Ben Badler: I’ll use a loophole and go with Carlos Rodon.

Andrew (Los Angeles): Why do you think Jose Abreu wasn't invited to the Friendship Series?
Ben Badler: Haven’t heard yet, but scouts were telling me that the Cubans weren’t going to bring a lot of their “A team” guys for the trip. Gourriel, Fernandez, Tomas, Vladimir Garcia, those guys are here, and obviously you’ve got Despaigne in Mexico, but Abreu wasn’t the only guy high-level guy who didn’t come over.

Steve (Saint Louis): Not exactly a "prospect" by the conventional definition, but is there a chance that Chris Colabello could hit at the Major League level from what you've seen or scouts you've spoken with? He's such a good story... hard not to root for him, and looks like he'll be getting near full-time at-bats for awhile here.
Ben Badler: I do think there’s a chance and I’d like to see him get an opportunity. We can get hung up on age and that does matter to a point, but whether it’s him, Evan Gattis or anyone else, we’ve got to keep context in mind of why a guy is old for his level especially when he’s taken such an unconventional path. The swing works, the power is there and he’s raked all the way up to Triple-A. If a team gives him consistent at-bats, I think they’ll be rewarded.

Max (Chicago): You like Albert Almora. Should there be any worries about his plate discipline?
Ben Badler: Not too much. The walk rate isn’t elite, but he has good pitch recognition and doesn’t get beaten with much in the strike zone because his feel for the barrel is so good, so he’s getting a good pitch to hit and doing damage with it routinely. It would be nice to see more patience develop over time, but it’s not a big concern right now.

BillyVig (Chicago): Eddie Butler was very impressive in the futures game. What is his ceiling and how long until he breaks into the bigs?
Ben Badler: It’s frontline starter stuff. The fastball is electric, it’s a matter of consistency with the secondary stuff, but if you watched the Futures Game, you know it’s in there. Been getting good buzz on him from other teams even before his Futures Game performance.

BillyVig (Chicago): Can Maikel Franco be a big league all star?
Ben Badler: He has that upside, sure. The swing is unusual, and that’s always going to be the knock on him, but I haven’t seen it give him any major issues yet with plate coverage even against good pitching, which alleviates concerns I would normally have over a guy with a pronounced arm-bar swing. And the power. There’s plenty of power.

Josh (Pittsburgh): Untouchable prospects in the Pirates system outside of Taillon/Polanco?
Ben Badler: Polanco’s the only realistically untouchable player for me. Their system is strong, but I’d move anyone else in the right deal.

Nick (Washington DC): With regard to your wishing-for-more-wishes answer of Carlos Rodon, to your knowledge has anyone been drafted and then immediately been the best prospect in baseball? Strasburg, maybe? Anyone else?
Ben Badler: Bryce Harper did it. Justin Upton was close—No. 2 prospect in baseball after he was drafted in 2005.

Scott (Philadelphia): Isn't Magical Prospect Deity the nickname given to Jim Callis after the first round in the 2005 draft?
Ben Badler: Still the gold standard.

Mike (Ohio): Hey Ben. Love your work. Who's your favorite "under the radar" type international guy still unsigned?
Ben Badler: Outside the top 30, you’ve got Dominican OF Francis Cespedes, Dominican OF Geremia Portorreal and Dominican 3B Bryan Lizardo as guys with interesting skill sets, and they’re all still 15. But I’m sure there’s going to be pop-up guys who sign for $50,000 who I haven’t heard of yet and are just as good as any of those guys.

@JoshHandler (Charleston): Both Dante Bichette Jr. and Cito Culver continue to struggle mightily in Low A. Are we at the point that the Yankees really have to consider that they may have made a couple of very poor decisions in the first round in consecutive years? If not when does that point come?
Ben Badler: Arrow’s pointing down on both guys. Pro guys from other organizations were pretty high on Bichette after they saw him in the Gulf Coast League, but it’s just been a mess since then.

Shae (Milwaukee, WI): Will Machado get a shot at SS with the O birds or has that ship sailed? Obviously Hardy is playing well, but Manny's glove looks the part of an elite SS to this scout.
Ben Badler: Machado might even be a slightly above-average defender at shortstop if you put him there. They’re not going to mess with what they have going on right now, but it’s an option down the road.

Chris (DC): Do the scouting reports on Wendell Rijo match the good numbers he's put up so far this year (in a ridiculously small sample but with good peripherals)?
Ben Badler: I’m on the Wendell Rijo bandwagon. The knee injury last year cost him some cash, but it makes it even more impressive that a 17-year-old kid can come into the GCL and hit like this in his first year even though he had to spend the first part of his career rehabbing. It’s a really nice swing, good hand-eye coordination, plenty of contact and a very high baseball IQ.

Dylan (Tulsa, Okla): With Odor being mentioned in a possible Garza trade, how does he stack up prospect wise with Arismendy Alcantara?
Ben Badler: Alcantara has better tools, Odor is the better baseball player. If a scout preferred Alcantara to Odor because of the tools, I wouldn’t be surprised—he’s a good prospect—but I have more confidence in Odor’s bat.

Robert Foster (Seattle, WA): Does Rafael Montero have the potential to be a frontline starter?
Ben Badler: I don’t see the secondary stuff for that. More of a solid No. 3 or dependable No. 4 starter.

sportznut (Clinton Township, MI): What is Raul Alcantara's upside?
Ben Badler: Some similarities to Montero, a strike-thrower with a low-90s fastball that he can get up to the mid-90s at times, but without a true putaway secondary pitch to miss the bats you want to see out of a frontline starter.

Jen (Hawaii): Noah Syndergaard, Archie Bradley, Aaron Sanchez - Which one will make it to the big leagues first? Which one will have the better career?
Ben Badler: Syndergaard has more polish right now so he might get there faster than Bradley (with an asterisk for service time manipulations), but Bradley’s the better prospect.

Robert Foster (Seattle, WA): Can Junior Lake be an impact player for the Cubs this season, or in the future?
Ben Badler: Not buying it.

Rob (LA): Who do you like better: T.Walker (Sea) or Cosart (Hou)? Are both MLB frontline starters? thanks
Ben Badler: Walker. More fastball life with Cosart, but better secondary stuff with Walker.

Ben Badler: I have to take some scout calls right now, but thanks for all the great questions. In case you missed it, JJ and I got the Prospect Handbook Podcast up early this week with analysis right after the Futures Game, so we’ll be back with another episode next week. Enjoy the weekend.