League Top 20 Prospects

Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler

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Ben Badler: The GCL was deeper with prospects this year than usual thanks to the new CBA, so fire away with questions about anyone on or off the list.

    Josh (Oakland): What was the most positive AND most negative thing you recall hearing of Carlos Correa?

Ben Badler: There weren't any major negatives about him. MAYBE he gets so big that he outgrows shortstop and slides over to third base, but frankly, people liked him at shortstop and they think he's going to stay there. The most positive is that the upside here is of a perennial all-star in the middle of the diamond with potential pluses for the hit and power tools. Potentially special player.

    Dave (Atlanta): Did any of the other Braves Latin players (Andry Ubiera, Abraham Espinosa, Joey Meneses, Robinson Arno) impress?

Ben Badler: Jorge Montenegro is the guy to watch. He'll pitch at 92-94 mph and touch 96 with flashes of a promising curveball. The control is a long ways away, but it's a big arm with middle relief potential.

    PT (IBC): Why did the Jays shut down Adonys Cardona? Also how is Wuilmer Becerra doing? I heard he got hit in the face with a pitch.

Ben Badler: He had some arm soreness, so the Blue Jays decided to limit his workload. He'll get it up to 96, but the breaking ball has been an issue since before he signed, so I don't feel comfortable projecting anything beyond a reliever, and even that involves a great deal of projection. Becerra did get hit in the face with a pitch, broke his jaw and and had surgery. Scary stuff, but thankfully it sounds like he's recovering and they're planning to ease him back into things at instructional league.

    Allan (Wisconsin): Ben, so we can expect Correa, Buxton, Ruiz, DJ Davis to be playing the full year in the Midwest league in 2013?

Ben Badler: The Twins tend to be conservative, so it wouldn't surprise me if they held Buxton back in extended spring for a month or so, but he and Correa are advanced enough to open the year in the Midwest League. My bet is Davis starts there too, but his bat's not nearly as polished as Buxton's or Correa's.

Ben Badler: And I just realized I left out Ruiz, but yes, he should be there as well.

    PT (IBC): Which side of the fence are you on with Tocci? Frame too narrow or room to put on 20-30 pounds?

Ben Badler: As long as the Phillies put him on a proper strength training program and he's dedicated to it (and to shoveling down calories), then he should be able to add plenty of weight and strength. The swing is generally sound, the approach is outstanding, but there just isn't much impact right now when he does barrel the ball. It's not going to happen next year, and it might not happen for a few more years, but once he does add strength, there's huge breakout potential here.

    gerry (Toronto): Yeyfry Del Rosario of the Jays had a better K rate than Tirado with a comparable WHIP and BB:K rate. was he close to the list? What separates him from Tirado?

Ben Badler: I like Del Rosario, but Tirado's stuff is better. Del Rosario is an outstanding strike thrower for his age, but he's pitching around 88-90, touching 92 with some feel for a changeup and a curveball that's his third-best pitch right now. He's extremely polished for his age and does a lot of little things well like holding runners and feeling his position, but Tirado's stuff is just a better bet to play at higher levels.

    Ben (Leland Grove): What was the word on Dylan Cozens, specifically his makeup? Was he close to making your list?

Ben Badler: He came a little better than expected. Huge power (that wasn't a surprise) both to his pull side and to the opposite field. The stiffness to his swing and the very limited defensive value are concerns, but the power is a potential carrying tool.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Did any other Cardinals come close to making the cut, specifically Silfredo Garcia?

Ben Badler: Not really. Luis Perez repeated the league, but he was switching positions from C to play some 2B and OF. He's not a big guy, but he's got strong hands, wrists and forearms to generate bat speed, so the bat head just flies and he can hit good fastballs. I don't think there's big ceiling there, but he could surprise some people.

    PT (IBC): What can you tell us about Miguel Andujar? It's pretty unusual for the Yankees to bring a guy that young straight to the GCL.

Ben Badler: Guys like Andujar, Dawel Lugo, Harold Ramirez and some of the other 17-year-old international signings making their pro debuts are always hard to evaluate in this league. He didn't look overmatched, but he also looked like he would have benefited from spending the year in the Dominican Summer League. He's got the hand-eye coordination to make contact and a projectable body, but he just didn't stand out for the guys around the league who saw him this year.

    Morrie (NJ): If you stacked up this list against last year's, which one wins? Thanks Ben.

Ben Badler: This year, easily. The past few years, all the high draft picks or the guys who slid due to signability held out until mid-August to sign and only threw a couple of innings or had a handful of plate appearances in the league, if they played at all. This year's group was a significant step up.

    Matt (Bathroom): Rookie leagues were loaded with some great athletes this year... who were the guys you enjoyed watching most?

Ben Badler: Most of the work is done talking to scouts, but Buxton was an exciting player to watch in person this year. I didn't see the in-game power in person, but there's terrific bat speed, pretty good pitch recognition and an idea of the strike zone and he just flies down the line to first.

    Robert Haight (Grand Rapids, Michigan): Did the Tigers have anyone else who was impressive outside of the top 20? Thank you.

Ben Badler: Jose Valdez is a reliever with a power arm, sitting 93-95 and touching 97. He's an older guy for the league and he's wild, but the arm strength caught some people's attention.

    Feng (New York): Were there any considerations for blue jays pitchers from this year's draft like Chase De Jong or Tyler Gonzalez?

Ben Badler: Their Dominican pitchers drew more chatter than their draft picks. I talked about Tirado and Del Rosario earlier, but Jairo Labourt is definitely a guy to watch, and I'd probably sandwich him in between Tirado and Del Rosario grading them out as prospects. He's 88-92, touching 94 from the left side and a good curveball. The changeup is still raw and he needs to learn to repeat his delivery, but he's got two good weapons with his fastball and his breaking ball.

    Mick (Chicago): I remember reading highly of shortstop Tyler Gibson drafted by Detroit a couple years ago. He has all above average tools and very promising. Yet he played leftfield and struck out a ton this past year. Any hope for him, and is there any way he goes back to short or plays centerfield considering his tools?

Ben Badler: The bat is extremely raw. Major issues with the swing are getting exploited in pro ball.

    Justin (Toronto): Thoughts on Dawel Lugo and Gabriel Cenas at the plate? Did anything stand out, good or bad?

Ben Badler: Lugo more than Cenas. The numbers don't show it, but Lugo is a gifted hitter whose natural hand-eye coordination is as much of a gift as it is a curse because he ends up swinging the bat way too much at pitches he has no business trying to hit. That's always been the book on him. If the Blue Jays can get him to stop chasing so many pitches, he could be a breakout guy, because he has the ability to barrel the ball up and do damage when he gets a good pitch to hit. His defense also got better reviews this year than last year. He still may end up moving to third base, but there's a reasonable chance he stays at short.

    Ben (Conway, AR): Ben, I have to say I'm surprised that neither Ty Hensley nor Austin Aune made the list. Did Ty not have enough innings?

Ben Badler: Hensley didn't throw enough innings to qualify for the list. Aune was disappointing. He's athletic and the numbers weren't terrible, but the bat is still very crude.

    Dan (TO): I was pretty shocked when the Pirates decided to give up on Stetson Allie as a pitcher and try him as a hitter. What are scouts saying about Stetson Allie the hitter?

Ben Badler: NP for me.

    Dave (Atlanta): Merejo tailed off in the second half of the season after a strong start. Did he just wear down in his first pro season?

Ben Badler: Sounds like the velo was about the same from start to finish, so I don't think he wore down. Hell of a sign by the Braves and a guy who should move quickly.

    Michael (WV): Tyler Glasnow is really intriguing to me. His overall package and story reminds me a lot of Noah Syndergaard. Glasnow doesn't seem to have quite the prospects status that Syndergaard did after his first year, but the similarities are striking. Huge projectable high school pitcher, velocity spike, dominant first year. Now Syndergaard is ahead in that his velocity reportedly spiked even more (reports of triple digits) and that he was promoted and dominated short season ball and even had a successful late season Low-A trial. That said, how do Glasnow and Syndergaard compare?

Ben Badler: The similarities you pointed to are fair. Big, projectable righthanders with power fastballs, curveballs that flash plus but need more consistency and good feel for throwing strikes, especially for their age and size, though Syndergaard is ahead of Glasnow in that department right now. He's not going to be much longer after we just put him out there at the top pitching prospect in the GCL, but he's one of the more underrated pitching prospects in the minors.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Had he qualified, about where would J.O. Berrios have fit in on your list? Do scouts see a SP or RP in him?

Ben Badler: Somewhere in the 4-6 range. I think he can start.

    PT (IBC): Any latin guys that didn't have enough PA/IP to qualify catch your eye?

Ben Badler: Generally if the Latin American players were in the league, they got enough playing time to qualify because they were there from the start. One exception would be Wuilmer Becerra, whose season ended early because he got hit in the face with a fastball. He's a toolsy kid who was generating some buzz during extended spring and early in the season before his injury.

    Michael (WV): Personally, I've pegged Dilson Herrera as the "next" Alen Hanson. There is no way to guarantee a breakout like Hanson had in the SAL this year, but is a similar breakout a reasonable expectation for Herrera, even if it's not the most likely outcome or was Hanson just a much better prospect coming out of the GCL?

Ben Badler: Hanson's more athletic and a better runner than Herrera, but at the plate, I know scouts who saw both of them at the same age who thought Herrera was the more advanced, more naturally rhythmic hitter than Hanson. The power is also a step ahead of where Hanson's was last year, so yeah, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a big breakout in the next couple of years for Herrera.

    Marlins Fan (Miami): Kolby Copeland. Anything special or too early to tell?

Ben Badler: I love the pure swing and the way the bat travels through the zone, but there are definite tweener questions with him. But I'll take that profile over the power guy with hit tool questions any day.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Ben, thank you for the chat today. He didn't have enough innings to qualify, but where would Lance McCullers Jr. have placed on this list?

Ben Badler: He'd be in the Top 10. I see the arm strength that everyone loves, but the arm action does concern me to have reservations about his long-term health.

    Rafa (Los Angeles): I know you liked Teoscar Hernandez before the season. Was he in the 21-30 range?

Ben Badler: If the league had the depth of 2011 instead of 2012, Hernandez is a guy who would've crept into the back of the list. He's got plenty of tools; plus run, maybe a 70 arm and he's got good raw power, but he's still learning to manage his at-bats and take it to games. The good thing with him is I think it's more about making a few tweaks rather than a dramatic overhaul to take a step forward with the bat. He didn't make the list, but there's still quite a bit to like here.

    ttnorm (Connecticut): Hi Ben, Was Felix Jorge close to making the list?

Ben Badler: He was another tough cut. He doesn't have as much arm strength as Frank Montas, but he has two good pitches in his fastball and his curveball and a sound delivery, so he's got a chance to be a solid starter.

    DH (Pittsburgh): Any health concerns for Ruiz going forward?

Ben Badler: Sure, I think any time you have injuries pop up, it raises the risk factor. I'm not putting an injury-prone label on him, but it's definitely something to monitor.

    Rod in Seattle (Shill for BA): What can you tell us about the Phillies' pick Zach Green?

Ben Badler: The debut was solid and he'll show you above-average power at times, but there's a lot going on for him to get started with his swing, which is why he might look great on one pitch, then get tied up and overmatched the next. If he can quiet down some of the movement and learn the strike zone a little bit better, then you've got an interesting guy, but there's a lot of work to be done.

    Michael (WV): The Pirates had 2 players make their professional debut stateside, a very rare occurrence for the Pirates. Neither Harold Ramirez nor Elvis Escobar made the top 20 and neither had huge statistical years either. That said, both held their own. How close were they to making the top 20 and do you have any information on the two young outfielders?

Ben Badler: Neither did too much to stand out to anyone I talked to outside the organization who saw them, but that wasn't surprising, since the Pirates were much higher on both guys than any other team last year too when they signed them. Then again, nobody was clamoring much about Alen Hanson or Gregory Polanco until this year either.

    JR (Iowa): How many on this list do you think might make the top 100 overall prospects list?

Ben Badler: Buxton and Correa are locks. Davis has a chance to be in the discussion, but I would probably leave him off.

    Steve (Dunedin): Ben, to you and the scouts you've talked to, how has Jesus Gonzalez progressed this season?

Ben Badler: He's come as advertised: Cannon arm, plus raw power and a whole bunch of problems making contact. He looks great in BP, but he has to learn to take that same swing with him to the games, especially when the pitches start to bend.

Ben Badler: Thanks for the questions today. Matt Eddy's here tomorrow with the Appalachian League Top 20. I'll catch you guys soon.