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2018 Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat

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Matthew Liberatore (Photo by Cliff Welch)

Ben Badler: Hey everyone. The GCL list is always a fun challenge to put together. It's a short season, lots of teams (some clubs with multiple teams), and until the playoffs they don't play outside their divisions, so it's like a few mini leagues all in one. I thought this year was a strong one for prospects in the league, a lot of exciting young players from Latin America and high draft picks who got off to great starts, especially Jordan Groshans and Matthew Liberatore. Let's get going.

SBNY (PA): 

    What is the ceiling on Stanley Consuerga? He seems to have power, but did not hit for average in the GCL. Is he more than just a fringe prospect?


Ben Badler: He’s tooled up. Super bouncy athlete, cannon arm, great bat speed, but more tools than baseball skills right now. I’m pretty surprised they pushed him to the GCL this year instead of letting him get a year of DSL under his belt. A lot to like with the tools, but it’s an extremely high risk profile.

Frank (Chicago): 

    About where would Anthony Seigler have placed if he'd qualified, and are you convinced he can stick behind the dish? Thanks, Ben.


Ben Badler: I think he stays at catcher. He would be right there in that Cabello-Herrera group.

Warren (New London): 

    How would you compare Anthony Garcia to Domingo Santana at around the same age? That's who the physical description and stat line keeps making me think of.


Ben Badler: I think they're in the same family of players, with Garcia being even bigger and having even more power than Santana had at the same age.

Grant (NYC): 

    What was your take on Abrahan Gutierrez's season?


Ben Badler: Progress. Improved both as a hitter and defensively. Tough to project him as a starting catcher at this point, but things are at least moving in the right direction with him.

Jon Schneider (Berlin NJ): 

    Jack Herman, 2018 Pirates 30th rd pick (Eastern HS Voorhees NJ team mate of my son Davis Schneider 2017 Blue Jays 28th rd pick, Bluefield) finished 2nd in GCL batting. It wasn’t a surprise for everyone who has seen him play in South Jersey. How high is his ceiling and what is the word on his skill set by people in Pirate organization?


Ben Badler: Great pick by the Pirates. Herman has all the checkmarks of a player who tends to get underrated. Doesn’t jump out immediately for explosive athleticism, power or speed. Best attributes are his hitting ability and strike zone management, which are harder to judge, especially coming from the northeast where he wasn’t scouted much against good competition. Now he might still go out to the South Atlantic League next year and hit .200, but the reviews from evaluators who saw him in the GCL were very positive on his offensive ability.

Danny (Brooklyn): 

    I'm unclear on Cabello's ceiling? Is he a close to physically maxed out player with strong baseball skills or does he have big tools? In other words, does he have a 4th OF profile or can he be an above average regular?


Ben Badler: Well, he has both. There’s some room to get stronger, but he’s already a fairly physically mature player for his age. His baseball skills are advanced for his age, at least offensively—he controls the strike zone well and has a good track record of hitting in games as a pro and going back to his amateur days. Then he has the explosive athleticism and big tools too. I think one of the big questions with Cabello is is, how much of the run tool will hold as he gets older, and if that slides backwards (which based on his body type is certainly possible) will he be able to stay in CF? There’s a ton to like with Cabello, he’s just not really a conventional player to project.

Dale (Windsor): 

    I’m surprised that you have Luis Garcia above Ronny Mauricio. Is that based on Garcia’s higher defensive ceiling or do you think Garcia’s bat will ultimately have a higher ceiling than Mauricio.


Ben Badler: I went back and forth for a while on which player to put at No. 1, because I think you could make a case for Mauricio as the top prospect in the league. If everything clicks for Mauricio, he could be a monster, and he definitely has more power potential than Garcia. With Garcia, you have a surefire shortstop, and a potentially plus defender at the position. The split on Garcia as an amateur was whether you saw him as a top of the order bat or someone who could play shortstop well but would fit better at the bottom of the order. This year, all the reviews I was hearing on his bat were highly encouraging. Good bat control, advanced approach, knows the strike zone, and obviously the performance to go with it as a 17-year-old in that league is impressive. That’s a very well-rounded player, and the chance to be a plus hitter with plus defense at shortstop is really exciting.

Markus Lynn (Tennesse): 

    If Antoni Flores would have qualified would he have made the list?


Ben Badler: Yes. Would fit in the 11-20 range.

Warren (New London): 

    If Jhon Torres is as good a prospect as you and Bill Mitchell think, why would the Indians trade him and Conner Capel for Oscar Mercado? Nothing against Mercado, but it seems like a high risk/low reward deal.


Ben Badler: The Indians had good reports on Mercado, who’s close to MLB-ready, while Torres was still in his first year of U.S. rookie ball. Torres is still 3-plus years away from contributing, and probably more than that, but the reports from pro scouts who saw him this year in both leagues were pretty dynamite.

Marcus (NY): 

    Was Roberto Chirinos in the running for a Top 20 spot? Is he still looking like a future position switch? Thank you!


Ben Badler: Still an interesting prospect, but not really a top 20 candidate, and I’m a little surprised he didn’t spend the year in the DSL. I think he’d be a great catching conversion candidate if he wants to make the transition (that’s always a big key with catching conversions), but I haven’t heard any talk about him making that move recently.

Greg (DC): 

    I see nobody from the GCL Nationals made the list. I know they were weak this year but did anybody even modestly impress or garner any consideration for the list?


Ben Badler: They were pretty light this year. They pushed their 2016 international signings fast, then they were under the $300K penalty in 2017, so their top international players weren't there, plus they had a college-heavy draft after Mason Denaburg, who didn't pitch.

Paul (Harrisburg, PA): 

    When do your team top 10 lists start up on this site?


Ben Badler: Should be soon. Don't have an exact date yet, but we're working now to finish our AL East Top 10s.

Richard (So Cal): 

    Where would Jarred Kelenic rank on this list ? Ahead of Garcia and Mauricio ?


Ben Badler: Either 1 or 2.

Bob (St. Louis): 

    Outside of Torres and Herrera, who else stood out on the GCL Cardinals roster this year?


Ben Badler: Those were the two standouts. Mateo Gil played good defense at shortstop, he just turned 18 in July, but he's got a lot to prove offensively.

Tyler (Bensalem, PA): 

    In the pun question of the chat, which young shortstop prospect do you like better Luis Garcia of Phillies or Luis Garcia of Nationals and which has the higher ceiling?


Ben Badler: I’d lean toward the Nationals’ Luis Garcia right now just based on what he’s already done at higher levels for his age, but I think there’s more upside with the Phillies’ Luis Garcia. He’s a better defensive shortstop and might end up just as good or even better as a hitter.

Matt (St. Louis): 

    Is Ivan Herrera a sleeper catching prospect?


Ben Badler: Definitely big breakout potential that's already starting to show. I think we'll be talking about him in that Ronaldo Hernandez/Miguel Amaya/William Contreras level of catching prospects at this time next year.

VVM (NY): 

    Good afternoon Ben. Victor Victor Mesa's October 5th showcase was very tight, not much information has flowed out. What can you tell us and do you feel some of the Almora comps being thrown around are too light, if so, care to throw out your own comp? Thanks!


Ben Badler: I wasn't at his Miami showcase (media was not allowed to go), but I've been watching him play since he was 17, and I'm told he pretty much looked the way I described him. I've never heard Albert Almora as a comp, don't know where that comes from, but that doesn't really fit. Victor Robles is a better comparison, from the speed, the defense, athleticism/explosion, the offensive profile, even the injury problems.

SBNY (PA): 

    I know he has a long way to go, but does Mauricio have All-star potential? How would you compare Mauricio to Rosario at the same stage of their development?


Ben Badler: He does. Rosario at the same age was more athletic, better speed, better defender, but Mauricio has better lift and leverage in his swing, more potential to hit for big power if everything comes together for him.

Der-K (Durham): 

    Did SS Jelfry Marte (TBY) garner any attention? After an awful start, he hit for average and stopped committing errors over the last month of the season... thanks!


Ben Badler: He did pick things up somewhat at the end of the season, especially for a guy who I think the Rays could have justifiably kept in the DSL this year. Very athletic shortstop with a lot of attributes to field his position well, just doesn't project to have much impact in the bat and he's going to have to improve his pitch recognition/approach as he moves up against better competition.

Danny (Brooklyn): 

    What is Yoendrys Gomez's ceiling and is he a reliever risk?


Ben Badler: Hard to put a limit on an 18-year-old pitcher, but he has the three-pitch mix and control to project as a starter. Wouldn't surprise me either if he's able to add a little more to what's already an impressive fastball.

Nate (Dallas): 

    How close were Victor ruiz and juan aparicio to the list? What was the league consensus on these two catchers?


Ben Badler: Aparicio came up, offensive-minded catcher with feel for hitting, but he's going to need a lot of work to prove he can stick behind the plate. Logan O'Hoppe was another catcher from the Phillies whose name popped up as a deep sleeper, better receiver/defender all around compared to Aparicio and he showed well offensively in his debut too.

Ben Badler: That's all for today, back to work now on the Prospect Handbook. Thanks everyone for all the questions, and for being a part of Baseball America. We appreciate it!

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