Ben Badler MLB Prospects Chat (8/24/21)
Ben Badler: Hey everyone. Good to be back home for a bit after a lot of time on the road seeing players. Lots to talk about so let's get started.
Shawn (Manitowoc, WI):
- After a strong debut for Eury Perez at High A during his professional debut at 18 YO. What sort of ceiling is there? At this point is he figuring into the top 100 soon? How high can you see him rising going into the annual top 100 in winter?
Ben Badler: He’s definitely creeping into those conversations. We’re talking about basically the equivalent age of a 2021 high school draft pick already in High-A, really good stuff, physical projection for more and uncanny body control to throw strikes for a pitcher his age and size. A lot can go wrong with 18-year-old RHPs, but it’s not hard to see him developing into a midrotation starter or even better if everything goes right.
- Pedro Leon OF/SS HOU. Approaching the Top 100?
Ben Badler: Not really close, no
- Robert Hassell has performed well in low-A this year. Do you see him developing average power? Guessing his speed isn't as off-the-charts as his 30 SBs might indicate, is that accurate? Is he a 20-20 guy in the majors with a good BA/OBP?
Ben Badler: It's a hit-over-power profile, but I prefer that profile especially at the lower levels to the other way around, in general. Not saying he's going to follow the Christian Yelich path and turn into a 35+ or 40+ home run guy, but I do think he's going to develop 20 or 25+ home run power as he gets into his prime with more strength and understanding of which pitches he should try to turn on to drive for damage.
- Do you see a scenario where Rutschuman doesn’t start the 2022 season as the #1 prospect?
Ben Badler: He's No. 1 for me, but there's generally more risk and limits in catchers than other position players, and Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr. are both looking phenomenal right now...
- Julio Rodriguez always seems more advanced than his competition. Is the ETA on him next summer/fall, or will the Mariners challenge him until he shows he can't handle it?
Ben Badler: Yeah, probably next summer. You know they won't start his service time until they keep him down long enough for an extra year of team control.
- Most underrated prospect (hitter) under 20 years old?
Ben Badler: Hmmm.... off the top of my head, Jose Salas with the Marlins? I liked him, but he's off to an even better start than I would have expected, think he's going to get bumped way up the Marlins prospects list in the offseason.
Ben Badler: Gabriel Gonzalez of the Mariners would be another. Thought he might be more of a power-over-hit guy with some strikeouts, but he's putting it all together in the DSL right now.
- Do you believe Jordan Groshans is viewed as the future 3rd baseman for the Blue Jays?
Ben Badler: He'll get the first crack at it, unless they use him like Austin Martin in a trade. Maybe Orelvis Martinez ends up better, but I think Groshans develops into an average to above-average regular at third base, whether it's for the Blue Jays or somewhere else.
Rourke (West Roxbury, MA):
- How high are you on Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan, how close are either to top 100?
Ben Badler: Really like both. Yorke is definitely in the Top 100 conversations we have, just a really polished pure hitter for his age with an approach and barrel skills that look like they're going to continue to play against better competition. Jordan has to really mash because there is some first base risk there, but he has monster raw power, he's still 18 and he just annihilated the FCL. Not Top 100 yet but wouldn't surprise me to see him there a year from now.
- What's your take on Austin Martin? Seems there's a pessimistic view on him (no power LF) and an optimistic view on him (plus plus hitting 2B).
Ben Badler: I think we also have to remember he went from an abbreviated college season in 2020 to jumping straight to Double-A in 2021 … that’s pretty aggressive. The lack of power is concerning, I’m not sure that’s ever going to be a big part of his game, but I see the bat control and plate discipline where he could develop into a plus hitter with position still TBD.
- Aeverson Arteaga is doing better than all his J2 brothers from 2019 at the complex league. Is he getting any buzz among your circles and might he pop into the top 100 by this time next year?
Ben Badler: Oh yeah, lots of good feedback on Arteaga. Hard to say yet on Top 100, but we jumped him into the Giants top 10 prospects already and he isn't slowing down.
Ben Badler: Pretty impressive how much talent, especially on the position player side, the Giants have been funneling into their lower levels from Latin America the last few years.
- Hi Ben..what are you hearing from scouts about Zac Veen and his progress in his first season? Has he exceeded expectations?
Ben Badler: A little bit of a slow start this year after a so-so early look in pro ball after he signed in 2020, but man, he's been great since then. Looks like a guy who could hit in the middle of a lineup with more power coming as he fills out.
- Does Jairo make it to AA this year? He has been beyond impressive and is just a hitting machine. What has caused this breakout?
Ben Badler: Pomares? Probably not Double-A this year, since he just got to High-A and we don't have much season left, but I don't think that makes a big difference. I've been a big fan of his swing and feel for hitting since he signed, but the extra power he's showing this year has been really good to see.
- I feel like the Jays are light on pitching throughout their farm system. Who are a few pitching prospects to get excited about and why?
Ben Badler: It definitely tilts toward the bats right now, especially after the Manoah graduation and SWR trade. Sem Robberse is a guy I wrote about and we ranked pretty aggressively after he signed, he got off to a rough start in High-A but is someone I think has a chance to pop for them. Josh wrote about Yaifer Perdomo in BAPR today as another sleeper in that system to keep an eye on.
Elliot (Youngstown OH):
- How are most teams dealing with placement of their draftees this year with a later draft and a missing short season league? I note that nearly all of Cleveland's newly drafted and signed pitchers are not getting game action.
Ben Badler: With the draft pushed back a month, a lot of teams have told me (and you're seeing it now) that they're just shutting their pitchers down. A lot of pitchers weren't pitching leading up to the draft, so teams don't want to ramp them back up to get ready to pitch again just to have them throw for a month in the complex leagues or Low-A before turning it off again for the rest of the year.
Ben Badler: I would expect that to continue going forward too as long as MLB keeps this new July draft date around the all-star break going forward, which I think will happen given the all-time high ratings for the draft on TV this year.
Ben Badler: In other words... blame Carlos
- Why Jobe over Mayer for the Tigers?
Ben Badler: I think they just loved Jobe. I do too... he checks nearly every box you want to see from a high school pitcher, and I think he has the breaking stuff that's going to lead to a ton of strikeouts. But I'd still rather have Mayer.
- How likely are Jordon Walker and Joshua Baez to be impact major leaguers? St. Louis could use their own version of a Juan Soto!
Ben Badler: Walker has a chance to be special. The exit velocity data on him is pointing to a player to close to top-of-the-charts power and he's striking out less than I thought he would coming out of the draft. There's a perfect-world scenario with a Kris Bryant type outcome here if you really want to dream. I wouldn't put Baez in that echelon, but I love what Walker is doing.
Norberto Paulino (New York):
- List of players who are popping up in the DSL?
Ben Badler: Two Rockies players I really like and have written about before, Yanquiel Fernandez and Adrian Pinto. Fernandez is too advanced for that league, big power with a loose, whippy swing and feel for hitting, we've obviously been aggressive with him in that system already. Pinto is a little dude, maybe 5-6 or so, but he does have tools with his speed, arm strength and he just does not swing and miss much. A good deep sleeper name to know.
Ben Badler: Thanks for taking the time to send in in all the questions today. Some of them I didn't get to but are good ideas for us to follow up in with future stories and scout calls, so it's always appreciated. Enjoy the rest of the day.