Ben Badler MLB Prospects Chat (6/1/21)
Ben Badler: Hey everyone. Thanks for spending your afternoon with us at BA, let's get started.
Tyler Soderstrom (Impressive start?):
- I was nicknamed "The Kid" after opening eyes at the As alternate site last summer and then being one of the best prospects during instructs. I've carried that over into my first taste of full season ball. Looking at the stat line, it looks like I've showing everything the As thought I will be during last summer/fall.I recently hit my 1st professional HR but have already amassted 11 doubles hrough my first 23 games. What are the scouts impressions through the first month on my offensive and defense? Will I be moving up the top 100 list as well?
Ben Badler: Love, love, love the bat. Carlos was all over him in the draft and I’m fully on board now. Still getting more feedback on the defense because it’s early, but there’s an enormous amount of praise for what he does in the batter’s box. He's moving up.
Taylor Trammell (back on track):
- The stat line obviously jumps off the page since being demoted to AAA Tacoma after a rough start to the season with the big club. Regardless of surface stats, how have I looked in AAA? Was it a matter of just being not quite ready yet for the MLB and needing some additional seasoning in the minors? Is the power I'm showing legit to a point where a 55 hit/55 power might be a realistic projection again?
Ben Badler: This is kind of what Trammell does … he’ll flash you a nice swing, athleticism, tools and when it’s right, the performance is there in spurts, but it’s very up and down. I think it’s more a hot stretch and big league pitching is going to expose him. I wouldn’t be shocked if at some point down the road that everything clicks for him, I just don’t feel comfortable betting on that right now.
- Who would you take if you were building a franchise, CJ Abrams or Luciano?
Ben Badler: Abrams. As much as I love Luciano's swing and power, give me the elite athlete who can play in the middle of the diamond with outstanding bat-to-ball skills and a chance for more power than is generally projected for him once he hits his prime.
David (Spokane, WA):
- How has being able to watch Noelvi Marte play state side changed how you viewed him prior to this season?
Ben Badler: I've been a big believer in Marte for a while, so it's just giving me more confidence in his bat to see him hit like this at higher levels. He could be a top 25 prospect in baseball by the end of the year.
Jason L. (Sacramento, CA):
- Are the A's linked to any of the Top 50 names in the next International signing period?
Ben Badler: Yes, our international big board has the full report there.
Michael Harris (Top 100 soon?):
- I have absolutely crushed already high expectations with an aggressive assignment to HiA after only having played 22 games at the level in 2019. I've carried over the momentum from last fall's instructs and spring training and really showing that I'm the next in line of Braves 5 tool prospects. Will I be making my top 100 debut in the upcoming updated top 100 list?
Ben Badler: He’s getting closer. Definitely in that conversation. We’re at the point coming off the lost 2020 season where we’re getting a lot of good new information on guys while not wanting to overreact to a month of 2021 baseball, but the feedback on Harris has been very positive.
Brett (Twin Cities, MN):
- Wander Franco is a worthy #1, but I see him as more of an elite floor 70-grade 2-6 time All-Star that annually hits around .275+ with 15-25 HR, 5 SB’s, 80+ RBI/R, & great BB:K-rate than a generational caliber 75-80 grade guy. His hit tool and especially power potential fall well short of a Vlad Jr. and he doesn’t have the leap off the page athleticism and physical gifts of a Tatis Jr. It feels like Wander was one of those guys who was uniquely advanced at a young age but will come back to the field a bit as the skill of more physically & athletically gifted prospects catches up. To me, Julio Rodriguez is the #1 prospect in the game for this very reason. Am I crazy for thinking this? And what are your personal thoughts on the above? Thanx!
Ben Badler: With his bat control and eye for the strike zone, I think Frano is more of a perennial batting title contender with consistent high OBPs than a .275 hitter. He isn't the dynamic Tatis type of athlete and he doesn't have Vlad Jr's 80 raw power, but he can play in the middle infield, give you big OBPs and there's more raw power in there than what's shows up in games that I think will come through later on for him to develop into a Jose Ramirez type player. I don't know if that's as electric to watch as someone with the style of Tatis or the thunder of Vlad, but that's a player who should be in MVP consideration in his best years.
- How active do you anticipate the Braves being in the 21-22 international signing period? Thanks
Ben Badler: Back to business as usual for them. Check our international big board, we have them with multiple big time players from Venezuela for the next signing period.
Jason (Port Colborne, ON):
- I see some notable prospects are still hitting under a .100, and anecdotally, offense seems to be down across the minors. Is it becoming more evident that last season’s layoff has taken a toll? Do you have any indications, opinions, or first-hand knowledge on the subject? Thanks! Go Jays
Ben Badler: It varies by player, but generally, yeah, there's more development that a pitcher can do on his own or at least with a catcher there and maybe some hitters for live BP than there is for a hitter training on his own with limited exposure to taking live at-bats against Low-A or better arms. I think (hope?) those hitters can get better during the season as they get their rhythm and timing back and get accustomed to seeing more live pitching, but hitters especially really need game reps that can't be replicated in workout type settings.
Hector Rivera (Florida):
- Looks like Lazarito has turned his Career around. He's off to a good start. Maybe the second time through High A ball is the charm?
Ben Badler: It is a nice start. I think the strikeouts and holes in his swing cool him off significantly, and there isn't much else in the skill set to fall back on, so I'm expecting regression there.
- Ben, I'm a Nats fan here. Should I worry they lack any real solid hitting prospects? Do you think it's ideal they trade Scherzer and or maybe a pitching prospect not named Cade for a solid position prospect?
Ben Badler: All the reports from scouts we have are very, very light on Nationals hitting prospects. Can we count Cristian Vaquero in there yet?
Ben Badler: That said, Cavalli has been outstanding. Throwing strikes, missing bats and generally overpowering hitters with a mix of projected 55s to 70s in the arsenal.
- What is Liover Peguero's upside? Can he get into more power?
Ben Badler: There are some scouts who see future plus hit, and with his bat speed and wiry strength with room to project more, yeah, I think you can project 20+ home runs from him.
Scott D (CT):
- Does Jarred Kelenic figure it out in the next month, or will he back back in AAA by July 1 ?
Ben Badler: Whether the light bulb goes on next month, I can’t say. I think it clicks eventually, but I think they leave him up in the big leagues to figure it out there rather than sending him down, unless the rest of the team takes off and he’s really scuffling later in the year.
- How concerned are you about JJ Bleday struggling so much at AA as a 23-year-old?
Ben Badler: Concerned. Not in panic mode, but the pro reports from scouts haven't been as bullish as the ones from before the draft.
Michael Smith (Canada):
- Hey Ben what are your MLB projections for Otto Lopez? Do you think he could be a regular or just a utility player. How do you feel about Groshans so far the year?
Ben Badler: Lopez just keeps hitting. I don't think you'd hang a 60 on anything he does, and it's not as disciplined an offensive approach as you'd like from a hitter whose bat leads the way, but he does have good barrel control and there's more untapped power than what he's shown in games, although I'm not sure if he gets into it. Probably a guy who moves around the field, but the bat might end up being good enough to get regular playing time in that role.
Blue Jay Matt (Toronto):
- Any chance we see SWR up in Toronto before the end of the year?
Ben Badler: Oh yeah. I think he's up at some point in the second half.
- Name a few prospects outside of the Top 100 have entered themselves into the conversation.
Ben Badler: Roansy Contreras, Carlos Colmenarez (not from 2021 game performance obviously… but put him in the draft and he stacks up well with someone like Khalil Watson who we’re projecting in the top 10 picks), Oswald Peraza, Diego Cartaya putting himself back in that Top 100 mix, to name a few.
Marco C. (San Francisco):
- What are your thoughts on who has the highest upside and highest floor among some very young SS prospects: Ronny Mauricio, Gunnar Henderson, and Anthony Volpe?
Ben Badler: Henderson has the least risk, Mauricio the most upside of the group. I'd take Mauricio.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions today. I've got a draft call scheduled I have to get to and a game tonight, look for an updated Top 100 and a new BA 500 draft ranking on the site coming soon if you're a BA subscriber!