Baseball America Prospects Chat

Ben Badler: Thanks for joining the chat. Let’s get started.

Rhett (NC): With Dansby Swanson producing great results in High A, do you see the Braves moving him up to AA (not right away) with Ozzie Albies or AAA so both can stay at short?
Ben Badler: I don’t think they even know what to do, but I’m sure they’re ecstatic with the early results. There’s no rush with either player given how far they are from contending, but I don’t think Swanson has much to gain from spending that much more time in High-A.

Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Jesse Winker has been hitting consistently in AAA to open the year, but there has been a complete power outage with no extra base hits yet. At what point does this start becoming an issue?
Ben Badler: I’m not too concerned. If you watch him in BP, the plus raw power is in there. He takes a disciplined approach, controls the strike zone and makes frequent contact. The XBHs are going to start piling up for him pretty soon.

Ron (Texarkana): Eddy Julio Martinez - now that he's been in the Cubs system for a tiny bit of time, are expectations the same, and does he have an MLB ETA?
Ben Badler: He hasn’t looked good. Lots of swing and miss and trouble recognizing pitches. But in fairness, he’s a Cuban player who’s been away from competitive game action for a while and having to do it in the Midwest League in April. Our reports on him from scouts were that he was a solid prospect but not a great one, so I don’t see much changing there, unless he’s still getting eaten up by Low-A pitching well into the summer.

JP (Owasso, OK): Hey Ben, appreciate the hard work! Of pitchers that are currently injured/not playing in games yet, which would you choose going forward? (All other factors being equal) Hunter Harvey, Brady Aiken, Devin Williams
Ben Badler: Hunter Harvey.

Ben (D.C.): How does Giolito compare to Thor and Gerrit Cole in terms of stuff and expectations entering this season where he could debut?
Ben Badler: I wouldn’t put anyone’s stuff in the Syndergaard category right now. He’s sitting 98-101 mph as a starter with a slider that regularly reaches the mid-90s. I’ve never seen anyone do that and I doubt anyone ever has. But it’s No. 1 type starter stuff from Giolito with a pair of plus-plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. If he’s dominating in Double-A by midseason, I think you’ll see him up in the second half.

Jack (Roanoke): If starting your organization off with a cornerstone SS still in the minors, would you choose JP Crawford or Dansby Swanson (or someone else)? Why?
Ben Badler: Crawford. Love both of them, but very slight edges to Crawford in hitting ability, strike-zone awareness and power ceiling.

Hal (Arlington): Crystal ball question - Higher career WAR: Gallo, Mazara, or Brinson?
Ben Badler: Gallo. More risk with him than there is with Mazara, but I’m a believer that Gallo will make the adjustments to make enough contact for the power to play and allow him to become a star.

Nick (MA): What grades do Anderson Espinoza's curve and change project as?
Ben Badler: I’d hang future 60s on both pitches.

Mike (NY): What do you think of Trey Amburgey?
Ben Badler: Very intrigued. I got good reports on him from scouts who saw him last summer after he signed. Good wheels and all he’s done in pro ball is hit. Great pickup by the Yankees in the 13th round and a definite helium candidate.

George (New York): Is Jorge Mateo a top 3 SS in the minors? When do you expect him to make his debut?
Ben Badler: I like Jorge Mateo, but I wouldn’t even put him in my top five shortstops in the minors right now. JP Crawford, Orlando Arcia, Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Brendan Rodgers, Alex Bregman and Ozzie Albies, plus Gleyber Torres, maybe even Franklin Barreto are in that conversation, although I don’t expect Barreto to stay at shortstop . . . it’s a fun time for shortstop prospects right now.

Pete (Texas): Do you think Lewis Brinson will be the starting center fielder for Texas next season?
Ben Badler: Yes. Wouldn’t stun me if he took the job before then either.

David F (Miami): Are there any sleepers prospects with the White Sox, any others to be excited about besides Andereson, Fulmer, and Adams?
Ben Badler: For a deep sleeper, Carlos Perez. Young catching prospect who should stick behind the plate with excellent bat control.

Tim (Altoona): Glasnow has the stuff to be _____ in the majors this year?
Ben Badler: A frontline starter. But the stuff isn’t in question with him, it’s his ability to repeat his release point and locate where those pitches are going. So far, so good this year.

Brian (Denver): Who has been the biggest breakout surprise so far? Who might be the biggest sleeper this season?
Ben Badler: Too early to label anyone as having a breakout only a couple weeks in, but you couldn’t ask for a better start to the season than what Austin Allen has done in Low-A for the Padres.

Jim (Houston): Will Alex Bergman have to move to 3rd base to make the big league team?
Ben Badler: Normally I’d say it’s too soon to worry about where a prospect like Bregman will fit into the major league picture when there appears to be a logjam, because those issues usually work themselves out by someone in the picture underachieving or just not living up to expectations. In this case, when you have two young franchise cornerstones in Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve locked under team control for the next half decade, I think it’s fair to say he’s blocked in the middle infield. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he started getting some time at third base this season, or if he ended up as a very, very valuable trade chip.

Aubrey (Danville): What do you think of ronald acuna?
Ben Badler: I’m a fan. Well-rounded player who does a lot of things well without any glaring weaknesses exposed so far despite being pushed very aggressively for someone who’s the same age as a U.S. high school senior.

patrick (san diego): Is it time to panic over Franklyn Kilome? I understand showing him some patience while he adjusts to a new level and cold weather, but...
Ben Badler: The control his first few starts has been awful. It’s early though, some of that comes with the territory of being a gigantic human being who is prone to having his delivery come unglued, and when that happens, he loses the strike zone. If there’s good news, it’s that the reports on his stuff are still good and his top-end velocity is up from where it was last year.

Teddy (Chicago): Hey Ben, if I was to take a road trip this summer and the possible leagues I could hit are the SAL, Southern, MWL, Carolina League, or Appalachian league, which leagues would you recommend I go to to improve my scouting/watch high quality prospects? Thanks
Ben Badler: If you can, try to hit up as many different levels as you can. It helps give you an appreciation for the difference in the quality of play between Double-A and Low-A, and especially when you get down to a Rookie level like the Appy League. There aren’t many better ways to appreciate the quality of major league defense (and player development in general) than to watch a series of rookie ball games and see all the mistakes from professional players that we take for granted from the players we watch on TV every night. It will also give you a better sense of what types of players can put up great numbers in Rookie ball that won’t necessarily translate to higher levels when you see the differences in person between the Appy League and Southern League competition.

Andrew (Los Angeles): Any early reports on Javier Guerra's struggles?
Ben Badler: He’s swinging at everything. He’s certainly not what I’d call a pure hitter, but I do think he will slow the game down and turn things around at the plate after a rough start.

Cal Guy (Cal): Who makes it to the majors first, Espinoza or Otani, and how would you rank them?
Ben Badler: I would take Otani over any pitching prospect in the minors. At the least, I think he could be a midrotation starter right now in MLB, maybe even better, with the upside to be an ace, which isn’t something I say too often. But because of the CBA and the Fighters’ team control over Otani, Espinoza should get to MLB before he does.

Nate (Ellicott City): What can you tell me about Jorge Ona and what skills he has/doesn't have?
Ben Badler: Written up several reports on him that go into more detail, but the short version: Compact RH swing, plus raw power, dominated the 18U Pan Ams a couple years ago, projects as a RF who’s ready to start his career with a Low-A club.

Pat (NY): If Kaprielian's velocity jump is here to stay, what does that do to his projection?
Ben Badler: It helps it slightly, but we did have reports of him up to 96 mph last year in the New York-Penn League, so I wouldn’t say it’s anything dramatic. But it’s certainly a notable uptick that he’s holding well in a starter’s role.

Jeff (F-V, NC.): Any updates on the Gourriel brothers?
Ben Badler: They’ve been training in the Miami area. Hasn’t been any new word regarding any showcases planned, although if any team needs a showcase to get a report on Yulieski Gurriel, they probably shouldn’t be involved in the bidding in the first place.

Tim (Boston): What are the chances Andrew Benintendi plays in Boston next season?
Ben Badler: Extremely high, assuming he’s healthy. I don’t think they’ll need him this year so I don’t expect it will happen, but his hitting ability is so advanced that if he were on another club, I could see him making a Conforto-like rise to the big leagues the year after his draft.

Nick (Brooklyn): Anyone I should be focusing on in the Yankees organization that you can think of? Outside of the well known prospects...
Ben Badler: The three I ranked in our Top 20 DSL/VSL prospects are all good ones to start with. Gilmael Troya is a pitcher we’ve had reports on all across the board from scouts; some very encouraging, some more generic RHP ones, but he’s a sleeper to watch too. Thairo Estrada was able to sneak into the back of their Top 30 this year; he doesn’t have any big tools, but he’s a surehanded shortstop with a great clock for the game and solid contact skills.

rg (vancouver, bc): i know it's early, but has anyone made a big jump thus far in your preseason prospect rankings? bregman looks like the truth.
Ben Badler: For players who are already in full-season leagues, it’s hard for their stock to change much two weeks into the season. With younger players like first-year international signings who are 16 and 17 years old, we might see rapid physical changes, whether it’s Pedro Gonzalez suddenly growing two inches and changing positions, or a pitcher gaining several ticks on his fastball, which signifies a real change in skill level. We don’t see that as much with older players, and a couple weeks of performance data isn’t enough to swing the needle much. Bregman has been killing the ball, but I wouldn’t say his stock has changed much, mostly because I was already pretty high on Bregman as one of the best shortstop prospects in the game with a simple swing that I love. Seeing Ozzie Albies have a smooth early transition to Double-A as a 19-year-old skipping the Carolina League is fun to watch, but again, he was already one of the highest ranked shortstops in the minors, so I don’t see that jumping him much up the list. It’s probably not the most exciting answer, but staying grounded and not overreacting too quickly is an important part of evaluating players at any level.

John (NC): Kevin Newman is a pretty divisive prospect in the punditry. What are your thoughts on him? Can he stick at SS? Can he hit enough to offset the lack of power?
Ben Badler: Shortstop might be possible, but the complete lack of power is a major concern if he wants to be a regular. He does have good hand-eye coordination to put the bat on the ball, but it’s a lot of singles and light contact that’s going to be tested against better pitching.

Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. If you haven’t yet, take some time to read Ted Cahill’s feature on the site right now on Seth Beer, I really enjoyed that one. I’ll be chatting most Wednesdays during the season this year, so I’ll be back here next week for more.

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