Ben Badler Chat (8/7/18)
Ben Badler: Hey everyone. Let's begin.
- Hey Ben. Over the last three years we've seen four toolsy outfielders (Robles, Acuna, Soto, Adell) explode from the lower levels into being premier prospects in the game during the course of a single season. If you were a betting man, who would you place your bet on for next season, if the trend holds?
Ben Badler: Jordyn Adams, Everson Pereira, George Valera would be ones to watch.
- Do you think Jesus Luzardo gets called up in September? It seems like his workload might prohibit that, but the A's could certainly use him.
Ben Badler: He should be, if not sooner. He could be one of their top starters right away.
Jahmai Jones (Mobile):
- After a breakout 2017, 2018 has been a struggle for me. I've moved to 2nd base defensively and have fallen out of the top 100. However, since my promotion to AA, I've started to show flashes of the dynamic player I was. Were a lot of struggles this year due to the move from CF to 2nd and have I been turning it around offensively because I'm finally feeling more comfortable defensively? Still just having turned 21, do you think I make it back in the top 100 in 2019 and push for a promotion in late 2019 now with Ian Kinsler gone?
Ben Badler: Solid prospect, chance to be an everyday guy. Don't see him as a Top 100 guy right now but could see him pushing his way into that mix next year.
Steve (Haddon Township, NJ):
- With the updated mid season rankings recently completed, where do you stand with a Adam Haseley of the Phillies? He has been unstoppable since his promotion to Double A Reading. Would Christian Yelich be a solid comp for him right now? Thanks!
Ben Badler: He’s not that level of hitter. He’s a big leaguer, but defensively his best fit looks like a corner, and there are questions about whether his OBP will be high enough to carry him as a regular there.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- Dynasty league question if you’re willing to answer it. Who has the higher offensive upside, Keibert Ruiz or Nick Madrigal?
Ben Badler: Nick Madrigal.
- How close was Nolan Jones to making the top100?
Ben Badler: Not necessarily in the next-up group, but he’s in the broader discussion for it. Although among Indians prospects, I’d have George Valera up ahead of him.
- One time prospect AJ Reed. Only hope for him to get another chance is to be traded?
Ben Badler: Probably. I'd love to see him get an opportunity somewhere he can get regular at-bats at the major league level.
- What's the scoop on the "other" Luis Garcia, SS Phillies? I know it doesn't mean much, but he's 17 and tearing up the GCL!
Ben Badler: Indeed. We already jumped him into our Phillies top 10. Very talented defensive shortstop with secure hands, quick reactions and a strong arm. There was a split camp on his hitting ability as an amateur, but he has shown a pretty good offensive approach for his age in that league and a knack for putting the ball in play. Definitely an arrow-up guy.
- What type of upside does Ronny Mauricio have? I know you were really intrigued/high on him at the beginning of the year.
Ben Badler: Upside is similar to what we’re seeing now from Fernando Tatis Jr.
Mark (The 6ix):
- He's graduated from your list, but is this pretty much the player you expect Lourdes Gurriel to 've (sans hot streak), a guys who's contact oriented, has some pop,and can play anywhere on the infield? Question; from what you've seen is he going to improve the walk rate with more experience? What does a slash line for a peak Gurriel look like hypothetically?
Ben Badler: More or less, yeah. I think there's a tendency for people to overreact if a player from Cuba comes over and doesn't dominate right away, and in Gurriel's case, I think there were even more reasons than usual to think his debut wasn't in line with his true talent level. I do think he will walk more (hard to get any lower than the two percent he's at now), although maybe not to the extent I initially thought when he signed.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- I understand that using “ace” isn’t something most evaluators like to use but is that what Jesus Lazaro is? The age/level/dominance seems that way
Ben Badler: There’s No. 1 or No. 2 SP upside there. Part of that talent level includes having the durability to hold up over a full season’s workload, which gives me pause with Luzardo still given his medical history, but everything else is consistent with an elite MLB starter.
- Is the production by Alex Kirilloff sustainable? Accomplished at Low and HighA, does he have the tools to keep it up? How does he fit into Minnesota in the next few years, utility OF or everyday OF with a chance to be a star?
Ben Badler: Yes, yes and definitely a chance to be a plus everyday OF. I think he's one of the best hitters in the minors.
- Are you buying Jose Pujols this year? Showing off the power but approach still lacking. Rankings don’t seem to show him any love either. What’s a reasonable outcome?
Ben Badler: I'm not. It's a step forward for him, but it's just a lot of holes between the swing and the pitch recognition to work at higher levels.
Gregg (Woodbury, MN):
- Like Vlad Jr, Wander Franco begins his career in the Appy league after just turning 17, and like Jr, appears to be the league’s best player (not just best prospect). How would you compare the two players and their potential?
Ben Badler: Vlad Jr could become an 80 hit/80 power player. They’re both special hitters, and Franco does have plus power, but I don’t think he’ll ever match Vlad’s power, although he has way more positional value as a future SS or 2B.
- How close is Evan White to your top 100?
Ben Badler: Not close. He’s a 22-year-old 1B slugging .390 in the Cal League.
Bernie Brewer (Wisconsin):
- Ben Corey Ray just won the player of the month for July in the Southern League what do you believe his upside is as he does strikeout a lot. Could he be a future Allstar? Thanks Ben
Ben Badler: I think he's made significant, legitimate progress from where he was a year ago. But I'm still skeptical on all the swing-and-miss in his game translating into an everyday guy at the major league level.
Jason (Cardinal Country):
- Tell me about Malcom Nunez - the guy was signed in July and has been on an absolute tear in his first 100 ABs, I know it’s a small sample size, but do we see him state side this year?
Ben Badler: Probably stays in the DSL this year, but yeah, we had him at No. 26 in our Top 50 going into July 2, so I thought $300K for him was a great sign by the Cardinals. Strong, physical player with plus raw power, huge arm at third base and he always dominated in the Cuban junior leagues. He has to prove he can stay at third base, but there's a lot to like, especially at that price level.
- the numbers for Pardinho appear very strong what do the scouts say??
Ben Badler: Great reports on Pardinho. Easy delivery, plus fastball, plus breaking stuff, command and feel for pitching way beyond a 17-year-old pitcher. The risk, of course, is that he is a 17-year-old pitcher.
- What can you tell me about Kristian Robinson? I know he's far away, but do you think he's a star in the making?
Ben Badler: Power, speed, athleticism, physicality . . . a lot of upside if it all clicks, but still understandably on the raw side given his baseball background.
Rouse (West Roxbury):
- Who among Jesus Luzardo, Touki Toussaint or Kyle Wright has the biggest impact in the majors this year, and long term?
Ben Badler: Long term, Luzardo. Over the next seven weeks, don’t know.
- Now that Victor Victor has defected, are there an prospects of note still on the island? Thinking more about young players rather than the Cepedas or Despaignes.
Ben Badler: Not in Serie Nacional. I used to watch a ton of Cuban baseball, and that process was a big part of why our scouting reports on those players have proven to be historically accurate, but I’ve scaled way back on that lately because their top league has just been so drained. Almost all the top players who would be of interest to MLB teams are high school age and under types.
- Is Eddy Diaz someone to watch? Only 18 but looks to have a bright future. Thanks!
Ben Badler: Definitely a good sleeper to watch for the Rockies. Quick-twitch athleticism, 70 runner, good bat control and all-around baseball IQ. Really doesn't belong in that league.
- Do you know if Jose Bonilla ended up signing with the Angels? Struggling to find signing info after the July 2 batch.
Ben Badler: He hasn't signed yet.
- are the pitchers at AAA afraid of Guerrero? The number of walks is crazy, this stop in Buffalo is just a matter of timing for the Jays isnt it?
Ben Badler: It’s mostly small sample size but some of it is Junior’s approach. But he’ll probably be back in Triple-A to start next year until the Blue Jays can squeeze out an extra year of team control.
Will (Ithaca NY):
- Nathaniel Lowe has performed even better at AA. Is he close to a top 100 list? Thanks!
Ben Badler: For me, he’s a Top 100 guy, although I’m probably the high man on him. He can hit, he controls the strike zone and he has big time power. He’s legit.
- You guys are higher on Kevin Smith than any other publication, can you give us an expanded report? Is his upside something like a peak Zack Cozart? Thanks.
Ben Badler: Do others not have him ranked as a Top 100 prospect? I honestly don’t know. He’s a 2017 college pick hitting .315/.373/.557 between two levels of A-ball in his first full season. Steady Eddie type defender at shortstop with above-average power, some swing-and-miss but manageable after making some offseason swing adjustments to stay on plane with the pitch longer.
Trent (San Diego):
- What’s a better strategy getting control/pitchability guys and hoping their stuff ticks up once they become full time ball players. Or getting guys who have a massive fastball and hoping you can teach them to control it?
Ben Badler: It depends on the individual. Too many unknown variables here for me to give a general answer.
- What’s the upside of Francisco Morales? Are you a fan?
Ben Badler: I am. 18 years old with a plus fastball and a plus slider on the right night. The fastball command recently has been poor though and it's led to some bad outings.
Evan (New York):
- Is Hunter Harvey just a lost cause as a starting pitcher at this point due to health?
Ben Badler: I don’t see any way he holds up as a starter.
Rick (Vista, CA):
- How strong is next year international players? Who are the teams that are going to be the big spenders in year class?
Ben Badler: I think it’s very strong. Could be comparable to the 2017 and 2015 groups. I’ve seen a lot of the top 2019s already and a lot of them I’d already have over some of the high-profile 2018s.
Evan (New York):
- Bobby Dalbec has been on quite a tear lately. Was he close to making the final updated top 100 for 2018?
Ben Badler: He was not. Still a lot of holes to close off at the plate.
Sean (Centreville, VA):
- What do you know about Alexander Vargas? Yankees gave him a lot of money to sign. He wasn't on the BA top 50 international prospects? Any reason why?
Ben Badler: Vargas had an agreement in place with the Reds for 2019, when they would be out of the penalty box, so I didn’t want to include ranking a player on a 2018 list who wasn’t going to sign in 2018. Obviously, that changed. Vargas played in Cuban junior leagues, more of a glove-over-bat guy there.
Devon (Peg City):
- Who's the next best international prospect in 2019 after Robert Puasson?
Ben Badler: Very good tools, but as of right now, Puason wouldn't be the top 2019 player.
Matthew (Northern Virginia):
- Thank you for the chat, Ben! I LOVE my subscription to BA. My question is about William Contreras. What does he need to improve on most to be the heir apparent Braves catcher? Thanks!
Ben Badler: Aren't many glaring holes in his game to clean up. I think it's just a natural progression of doing some of the little things behind the plate, but for me he projects as an MLB regular and you can make a case he's already a Top 100 level prospect right now.
Mike (East Williston):
- I am excited to see Hans Crouse sneak into the final top 100. All the write-ups have talked about his aggressive approach on the mound. Given how well he has pitched once healthy, are concerns about his ability to stay as a starter lessened?
Ben Badler: Depending on what your priors were on that with Crouse coming into the season, most evaluators would probably stick with that still. It was frontline starter type stuff coming into the year and he's still showing that this season. I do think he has the ability to reach that level, but part of being a frontline starter is holding up over a full season's workload, and that's something he's still going to have to prove after finishing the season with probably 50-60 or so innings.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. We've got Best Tools, league top 20s and plenty more 2019 MLB draft and prospect rankings and coverage coming up soon for BA subscribers. Hope you all have a great week.