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Ben Badler Top Prospects Chat (6/19/18)

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Chris Paddack (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Ben Badler: Hey everyone! Lots to talk about today. Also first wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been signing up recently to subscribe to Baseball America. If you like these chats and the information we provide, I think you’re going to get a ton of value from a BA subscription. https://www.baseballamerica.com/sign-up/

JP (Tulsa): 

    Do you have any thoughts on Luis Rengifo, SS LAA? He has really done well this year.. only 21 years old at AA and a slash line of .325/.419/.502 with more walks than Ks and 28SBs.. Is he legit?


Ben Badler: I like him. It’s more savvy/sound fundamentals and baseball skills over raw tools/explosion, and I know some scouts see him as more of a utility guy, but I think he has a chance to be a true everyday guy.

DH (Pittsburgh): 

    Has Bichette's defense improved enough that you'd say he's likely to stay at short for the next 5+ years? How likely? 60%?


Ben Badler: He's a shortstop now. Some of it depends on the circumstances of who he's ultimately teammates with, but I feel very comfortable with him defensively at shortstop.

Don (Orland Park, IL.): 

    In your next updated top 100 minor league prospects would you move Blake Rutherford or Dylan Cease into your top 100 based on their performance this year ?


Ben Badler: Cease is in that discussion. Rutherford isn’t for me.

Joe (Denver): 

    Any news/predictions on where Victor Victor signs? Haven't heard much since he left Cuba in May!


Ben Badler: Nothing too new yet until he starts working out for clubs. He’s just training to get ready for that process right now.

Matthew (Toronto): 

    Hey Ben, How concerned would you be about Vlad Jr., given the recent knee injury? Does the injury affect how you evaluate him, or would you rather wait for more information to come out?


Ben Badler: Not much concern. The Blue Jays are being super conservative, and it sounds like he’ll be back shortly.

Tushar (Poolesville): 

    Thanks for the chat! You're the international scouting guru, so can you tell us about any updates on Wander Franco? The Rays marinate their prospects awhile so we won't see him for a while in the Show but this guy's got star upside right?


Ben Badler: I wrote a long update on Franco in the Rays’ international review, but yeah, I love him, and the Rays are pushing him to start in the Appy League this year because he basically forced them to with how dominant he was during extended. Extremely talented hitter with great bat speed, swing path and ability to consistently barrel balls all over the park.

Will (Okla): 

    Do you think Kolby Allard is a guy that can have success in the major leagues without an overpowering fastball? He appears to have a good clue of what he's doing in AAA at age 20. Does he have #1-2 ceiling without the fastball?


Ben Badler: I think he has a chance to be a back-end starter, if everything goes right. The success he’s had at high levels at a young age speaks to his pitchability, but he just doesn’t have the stuff to miss many bats.

Alx (CT): 

    What is the ceiling for Andres Gimenez? Where does he currently rank in the pantheon of MILB short stops?


Ben Badler: Chance to be an above-average starting shortstop

Bo (Myrtle Beach): 

    Chris Paddack appears to be dominating, but how real is this? Seems like good fastball, crazy changeup, older for the level, and lacking a third pitch. How do you see his arsenal developing? I'm concerned he's going to get exposed at the higher levels just being a fastball/change guy.


Ben Badler: The breaking ball and durability are red flags for me, although in Paddack’s case, him having a legit 70 changeup instead of a 55-60 changeup is meaningful, and his fastball command is so good that I think his skill set will translate up the ladder. If he can stay healthy, which has been a struggle for him.

Joe (NYC): 

    Is Mateo the next Billy Hamilton. AKA tons of speed, with no hit tool.


Ben Badler: Mateo has more strength in his swing, but yeah, a lot of holes getting exploited right now with the bat.

Keith H (Syracuse NY): 

    Do the Braves have any shot at signing Acuna’s little brother?


Ben Badler: I think Texas signs him. You’re right that he is little though; probably 5-6, 5-7.

Tyler (Alabama): 

    I saw your write-up today about Everson Pereira and Wander Franco skipping the DSL and the Rookie League. When do you expect them to debut in Low A?


Ben Badler: Probably opening day 2019.

Joe (Denver): 

    Does Oneil Cruz have a shot at cracking the top 100 by the end of 2019?


Ben Badler: Yes. He's starting to come into his body coordination after hitting a big growth spurt (or multiple growth spurts), and he's driving the ball with impact when his timing is right.

v (canada): 

    what is tj zeuch ceiling?


Ben Badler: Back-end starter. Steep angle and heavy sink with a lot of groundballs, but the secondary stuff lags and doesn't allow him to miss many bats.

Sam (NYC): 

    What is up with Alex Jackson??


Ben Badler: He is very strong. The raw power is real, but the swing has holes and I'm a skeptic on the pure hitting ability.

Casey (Morgantown): 

    Prediction...Jo Adell is the cover boy for the BA Prospect Handbook in 2020. Right or wrong?


Ben Badler: Lol. I haven't even thought about the 2019 Prospect Handbook cover yet, but he's a good candidate.

Alex Kirilloff (Ascending): 

    After coming back from missing all of 2017 with TJ surgery, I've continued my onslaught of LoA pitching. My numbers have increased from above average to incredible from April - June. Should fans expect me to be one of the biggest risers when mid season rankings come out in a few weeks?


Ben Badler: We've already jumped him into our Top 100, but yeah, Kirilloff is definitely one of the big arrow-up guys this year. He could be a top 50 guy soon.

Garrett (Kansas City): 

    Any potential all stars in the Kelvin Herrera haul?


Ben Badler: I don't think the Nationals gave up too much. Morel is trending in the right direction, so I think that's a good add-on to the back of a deal for KC, but he's still a 17-year-old RHP with a long, long way to go.

Craig (TX): 

    Bobby Witt Jr a can't miss prospect? Generational talent?


Ben Badler: I’ve worked at Baseball America since 2007. I’ve never covered a can’t miss prospect.

Jeff (Idaho): 

    Ronaldo Hernandez of the Rays is having a great season. The bat looks to be for real, how are his catching skills? Do you see him moving quickly? Is he a top 100 prospect at season's end? Top 50?


Ben Badler: The defense needs work, but he was a conversion guy and he's shown the attributes to be able to stay behind the plate. Top 50 would be tough by the end of the year, but he's already in the Top 100 discussion.

Casey (Morgantown): 

    Rank these J2 guys for me: Kristian Robinson (d-backs), Trent Deveaux (angels), Alexander Canario (giants), Wander Franco (TB), Everson Pereira (NYY), Julio Rodriguez (Sea). Thanks for the chat!


Ben Badler: Franco, Pereira, Rodriguez, Canario, Robinson, Deveaux

DRL (Texas): 

    I know he possesses the tools, but has Jo Adell showed enough early on this season to warrant fringe top 10 prospect consideration?


Ben Badler: Where we have him ranked now isn't too far off from there, and graduations from players ahead of him, I think he could be just on the cusp. He is bursting with quick-twitch explosion in everything he does with impact tools.

Tom (Chicago): 

    How much would you say Miguel Hiraldo has raised his stock?


Ben Badler: It's up some, although he was already one of the best hitters in the 2017 international class, so seeing him knock around DSL pitching isn't too much of a surprise. But it's good to have more evidence to support the scouting reports on his hitting ability.

Warren (New London): 

    Is there anybody that Oneil Cruz reminds you of? Just based on what I've read, never having seen him, two names come to mind: former Dodgers/Rays prospect Joel Guzman; and Carlos Martinez, father of the Cardinals Jose Martinez, if you can go back that far.


Ben Badler: He's listed at 6-foot-6 and might even be closer to 6-8, so it's hard to peg many comparables for players that size.

Adam (Wisconsin): 

    Outside of guys who've shown up on hot sheets/ updated top 100, can you give a couple guys who are opening eyes this year?


Ben Badler: A lot of them we've already moved into our Top 100 or have highlighted on Hot Sheets, but one player whose numbers don't jump out but I have good reports on is Luis Garcia, the Nationals Low-A shortstop. Just turned 18 during the season, so they're moving him fast, but good defender, athletic, feel for hitting is there. Bit of a streaky performance guy this year, but the reports are good and he's basically the same age as kids headed to the GCL.

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2018 Minor League All-Star Team

Guerrero, Jimenez repeat as first-team honorees.

Rob (Seattle): 

    Has Morejon increased his stock this year decently? Can he be a #3?


Ben Badler: Up a little, but more just from the natural progression of him continuing to prove himself at higher levels. No. 3 SP is definitely possible.

AJ (SD): 

    Is there a sleeper on the Tri City Dust Devils that you really like or that Padre fans should watch? Thanks!


Ben Badler: Andres Munoz is a reliever who probably won't be there long, but he has terrific arm speed and a triple digits fastball.

Georgie (Tampa): 

    With Nate Lowe's break out this year, has he jumped into top 20 prospects for Rays? He doesn't seem to struggle with strikeouts and has a good approach as well. I was skeptical at first but it looks real.


Ben Badler: Yes. I'm buying.

j (Oregon): 

    How far in the prospect rankings can you see Everson Pereira jumping to? Hard not to get excited over that report in yesterday's Hot Sheet


Ben Badler: Hard to say. I was about to say that he would have been a very high pick had he been in the draft earlier this month, then I remembered at his age, he would be more in line with the 2019 draft class, so.... yeah. He's a pretty exciting player. Players with his combination of tools and hitting ability have a habit of flying up that list pretty quickly.

Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. I've got to get back to finishing up the rest of our July 2 previews (the rest of the divisions should be out this week) and our final international prospect rankings. Have a great day.

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