Prospect Hot Sheet Chat With Ben Badler

Ben Badler: Ahhhh yes … it’s good to be back

    Brent (Appleton): Has Montgomery developed
    enough in his short time since the top 100 to justify a higher ranking?
    Or to put it another way—is he already a top 20 prospect in baseball?

Ben Badler: Yes. This guy is every bit as good as
Casey Kelly, if not better, yet I get 20 times more questions about
Kelly (well, not today). Three pitches at least above-average, good
command, a good delivery, athleticism and complete domination in High-A
as a 20-year-old? Not sure what more there is anyone could ask for from
a pitching prospect.

    Avey (Sac): Garrett Richards seems to be
    getting a bit overlooked. How good is his stuff and how soon will he be
    moved through the system if he continues to baffle low-A hitters?

Ben Badler: His stuff is excellent—a plus fastball,
and two above-average breaking balls at times—but that’s never been
the question with Richards. Can he string together 6-8 or so good
starts in a row? If he can (and I think he will), I’m betting on him
getting a promotion at that point.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Surprised you didn't put Ackley on the Not List. Your thoughts on his slow start?

Ben Badler: Not much concern yet. He has four
strikeouts in ~30 PAs. When you make contact that frequently, can drive
the ball and run plus or better times down the line, eventually those
balls he’s putting in play are going to turn into base hits. Let’s also
remember that Ackley’s only other professional experience came in the
AFL, so Double-A is fairly aggressive assignment.

    Brett (St. Cloud, MN): Is it time to worry about Aaron Hicks yet?

Ben Badler: On the other hand, yes, I am somewhat
concerned about Hicks. The Twins are smart, and if they sent him back
to Beloit instead of moving him up to the FSL, there’s clearly a
reason. The premium athleticism and all the tools are still there, but
the bat isn’t as far along right now as I expected.

    Jay (Madison): Jake Arrietta threw 12 scoreless. Get any love?

Ben Badler: The scoreless innings were nice, but the 7-to-6 K-to-BB mark? Not so much

    Matt (St. Charles, IL): Carlos Santana appears
    to be a absolute beast. How do you compare his offensive ceiling to
    Buster Posey? Is in the same ballpark as Jesus Montero? What do you
    consider his ceiling to be? thanks for taking my question!

Ben Badler: Posey’s skill set is similar to Santana’s.
They’re both going to be all-star catchers with high OBPs and solid
defense, but Santana should hit for more power. I know in the past I’ve
said I’d give the slight edge to Posey, but right now Santana’s
slightly ahead of Posey. Ask me again in a month and I might change my
mind. Whatever, doesn’t really matter—those guys are both going to be
stars and neither of them should take long to adjust to big league
pitching. Montero’s three years younger and has the highest offensive
ceiling, but if Santana turns into the best of the three from a purely
offensive standpoint, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Dave (Savannah): If Dee Gordon continues to hit like this all year, does he jump Starlin at the end-of-the-year rankings?

Ben Badler: He could. He definitely could. But Castro is doing pretty well for himself in Double-A too.

    Ike (Pittsburgh): I'm curious as to why Stephen Strasburg didn't make the cut, after a very good AA debut. Can you explain?

Ben Badler: Not that they were all his fault, but the
four runs in five innings didn’t help. He’s still the best prospect in
the minors. I don’t think he’ll miss too many more Hot Sheets.

    Spencer (Bay Area -): Any feeling about Koby
    Clemens —- could he truly just be a late bloomer ? —- I know the Cali
    league is a hitter paradise but he seems to still be hitting at AA ..
    thoughts ?

Ben Badler: I’m still very skeptical of the power. Most scouts I’ve talked have given Clemens 45 power, maybe 50 at best.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Will Ryan Kalish be a star or just a solid regular?

Ben Badler: Solid regular.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Will Wilmer Flores start flashing some power this year?

Ben Badler: Maybe a little more than last year, but
don’t go expecting 15+ home runs from him yet because he’s still a
skinny 18-year-old kid. It’s more important to watch how he manages his
at-bats and the strike zone this year because eventually the power will
come around. So far, so good, though, because he still hasn’t struck
out yet in his first eight games.

    Brent (Appleton): What causes a drop a velocity other than age or injury? Do you think Bumgarner is injured, or are his mechanics off somehow?

Ben Badler: I think I’ve made my position on him clear
over the years, but the chat queue is filled with Bumgarner questions,
so here it goes. It could be an injury. It could be age. It could be a
lot of things. Believe me, if we knew the answer, we’d have written
that story by now. He’s always had a funky arm swing and the Giants did
try to change his mechanics after he first signed, but he struggled for
a couple of starts, went back to his old mechanics and went crazy on
the South Atlantic League that year. My guess? This is just what
Bumgarner is now. Maybe he gets a few ticks back on his fastball and
starts sitting 90-92, maybe not. I just wouldn’t bet on it. Some
pitchers gain velocity as they fill out, but probably just as many if
not more don’t throw as hard at 20 as they did when they were 18. Look
at Blake Beavan. Michael Main. Ross Seaton. I could list 100 more if I
had to. This is just who Bumgarner is now, and it’s nothing new,
really—he’s been throwing like this since last summer.

    Nate (Toronto): Given the abundance of
    pitching prospects in the Toronto organization, do you think Brad Mills
    best shot at a Major League rotation is with the Jays or some other

Ben Badler: Toronto. The Blue Jays should be looking to hoard prospects, not trade them away.

    Nora (TX): Did Tim Melville get any consideration?

Ben Badler: He did, and JJ Cooper was there for one of his starts, so I’ll let JJ tell you more about him on the blog next week.

    Chris (New Jersey): Continuing the Santana
    theme......I actually just stashed Santan in my 10 man keeper league
    instead of Posey leaving Buster on the wire. I have a gut feeling about
    Santana and i feel like he's got a clearer path to contributing this
    year(Lou Marson and the team not contending vs. Benjie Molina and being
    in the race all year). That said is June 1st a realistic expectation
    for Santana to be called up?

Ben Badler: Santana will be up by June 1. Posey
probably will too, though that’s a little more difficult to say given
how the Giants have handled him thus far.

    Jeff (England): Ben, you've noted White Sox
    prospect Nate Jones as a sleeper before, what do you make of his
    transition to the rotation and promising start to the season (9.2 IP,
    12 SO, 3 BB)?

Ben Badler: I don’t know if he can stick as a starter,
but I like the move just to get him more innings to develop in the
minors. He’s still a good sleeper and he’s been up to 99 this year with
his fastball, but as a 24-year-old former college player I’d like to
see what he does in Double-A. Preferably soon.

    Harry (St. Louis): Did Elieser Mesa get consideration? Thoughts on him in general?

Ben Badler: He did. Mostly future fourth outfielder projections on him from scouts, but he’s off to a terrific start.

    jose (florida): last time we see Hewitt on the hotsheet? Or has he figured something out?

Ben Badler: I need to see more than a good week to say
he’s figured something out. If he does put it all together, the
Phillies deserve some sort of Nobel Prize for player development,
because he came into pro ball about as raw as they get for a
first-round pick.

    Casey28 (Baltimore): What kind of power do scouts expect Bethancourt to develop? Is he a Buster Posey type good bat, moderate power?

Ben Badler: He’s young enough that the power
projections are going to vary, but he could have average power, maybe a
bit better, which is good for a catcher. I wouldn’t project Posey’s
hitting ability or on-base skills, but he’s going to be a good hitter
and a good defender.

    Camden (Baltimore, MD): Do you see Michael
    Taylor getting the call sometime in May. Does he have the raw power to
    hit 35+ hrs at anytime in his career or will he always be a 20-25hr guy?

Ben Badler: Probably May, or maybe June at the latest.
He does have the raw power to hit 30-35 home runs in a season. He has
incredible strength and he can drive the ball out of the park to all
fields. Will he be a 35+ home run hitter though? Probably not, just
because that’s not what his swing is geared towards.

    Tyler (Raleigh): Is Andrew Brackman as good as done?

Ben Badler: He’s not done, but I don’t feel comfortable projecting him as more than a Triple-A starter with occasional big league time.

    Rich (NJ): Rowell still seems to be struggling...your thoughts?

Ben Badler: I think he’s on the verge of missing the cut for the 2011 Prospect Handbook.

    Dave (Savannah): When healthy, Nick Weglarz
    looks like a masher at the plate. Some of his monthly splits from
    mid-summer last year were very comparable to Pedro Alvarez, including
    his ISOP. What are scouts saying about his power potential and any
    major league comps for him? His batting eye/power combo is starting to
    remind me a lot of Joey Votto... is that a decent comp?

Ben Badler: There’s some similarities, although
Weglarz is just generally bulkier than Votto was and has better plate
discipline. You nailed it though—when Weglarz is healthy, he’s hit.
When he’s played through injuries … not so much. He’s missed a lot of
time playing for Canada in various international tournaments, like last
spring in the World Baseball Classic and got off to that horrible start
in April. The raw power is plus to plus-plus, and I think you’re going
to see more of it show up in games this year. Expect a bounceback year.

    James (Nashville): What's your opinion on Astros' minor leaguer J.D. Martinez? He's been a hitting machine since entering pro ball last year.

Ben Badler: Primarily a bat-only guy, but he’s got a
good approach to hitting. I’ve had a couple of scouts tell me his swing
can get long at times, but he’s hit everywhere he’s been thus far, so
he could surprise.

    SprungOnSports (New York): Do you think
    Tillman and Arrieta are ready for the big leagues now? David Hernandez
    and Brad Bergesen are struggling and the O's don't have much to look
    forward to this year anyway.

Ben Badler: Tillman, yes, I think he could be a
league-average or better starter right now. I think Arrieta will be
solid eventually, but I’d like to see him refine his command a little
more in Triple-A first.

    Bren (WV): Logan Morrison. Is he more of a John Olerud type hitter or will he be a 30 HR threat?

Ben Badler: Olerud was a pretty consistent 15-20 HR
guy with .160 ISOs, so I could see that for Morrison, maybe closer to
20-25 a year though. He has plus raw power, it’s just that his approach
isn’t geared toward the long ball.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): What's with Matt Dominguez
    and ridiculously low BABIPs? Some of those balls in play have to start
    dropping in eventually, right?

Ben Badler: His numbers will improve, but BABIP
doesn’t work for hitters the same way it does for pitchers. If
Dominguez is lunging at balls or getting jammed on the inner half the
way he was last year, he’s not going to be driving the ball, which is
going to hurt his average (so will his speed… he’s pretty slow). I
think he can make those adjustments at the plate eventually, but when
you see his BABIP go up, it might have more to do with his true talent
level increasing than him just starting to get luckier.

    SprungOnSports (New York): Some scouts and so-called experts are calling Martin Perez the best lefty arm in the minors. What's your take?

Ben Badler: I’ll agree with these “so-called experts” of which you speak. For now. But Chapman and Montgomery could definitely move ahead.

    David (IL): Is Michael Stanton becoming a more
    complete hitter or is it possible we just do not have a big enough
    sample size at this point? What are your thoughts on his progression?

Ben Badler: The sample size from this season is too
small to reach any conclusions, but the scouts and Marlins officials
I’ve talked to definitely think he’s becoming a more complete hitter.
He’s not like Jason Heyward because he’s always going to be a high
strikeout guy, but he’s become a much better contact hitter since he
signed. All the walks are probably from him getting pitched around a
bit more this year, but he does have solid patience at the plate, which
I think he gets undersold for at times.

Ben Badler: One Hot Sheet down and about 20 more to
go. I’ve been a little under the weather this week, but we’re going to
rock your socks with more prospecty goodness from around the country
all next week.