Prospect Chat

Ben Badler: Hellllllooooooo. Our league top 20 prospect list calls are cranking away. Let’s chat.

Mike (Work): Dillon Tate went from preseason #69 on the prospect list to not listed on the mid-season list and he has exclusively pitched out of the bullpen since being traded to the Yankees organization. Does he still have a future as an SP and does he have a chance to get back into the top prospect rankings?
Ben Badler: Part of the risk with Tate coming into the season was that he might end up in the bullpen. I don’t think he’s a for sure reliever going forward, but the risk factor is bigger and the probability of him remaining a starter has definitely decreased since April.

Owen (NJ): Hi Ben, What are your thoughts on Chih Wei Hu's breakout season in AA?
Ben Badler: Took a big step forward this year. Changeup can be filthy when it’s working for him. Could be a solid No. 4 starter.

William (Pensacola, FL): Would do you like long term better between Brett Phillips and Dustin Peterson ?
Ben Badler: Brett Phillips.

Proswagonist (Liberl): Did it surprise you that Cionel Perez received a larger bonus than Vladimir Gutierrez? Should we expect Norge Ruiz to sign for a similar amount?
Ben Badler: Somewhat. I would rather have Gutierrez than Perez. I don’t like to project what Cuban players will sign for as a general policy, but I would definitely take Ruiz over Perez, although it’s closer between Ruiz and Gutierrez. I’m selfishly hoping Ruiz doesn’t sign soon like Perez and makes a handful of starts in the Dominican League this winter to get some updated looks at him in game action.

Andy (Boston): The Next Yoan Moncada?
Ben Badler: A switch-hitting, potential five-tool third baseman? We might be waiting a while for that one.

Tom (Baltimore): Next best international superstar?
Ben Badler: JJ Cooper just wrote about him today.

Alex (Houston): Where would you place Cionel Perez to start the 2017 season with the Astros org? High A Lancaster?
Ben Badler: Based on what I saw from Perez when he was in Cuba, Low-A. But it’s also reasonable to think he’s progressed since then, so I could see a High-A assignment.

BRE28 (New York, NY): Does Wilkerman Garcia's poor stat line at Pulaski change the projection and excitement scout had on him following last season? Or just growing pains for an 18 yr old who needs more experience?
Ben Badler: Both. I still like him, but I expected him to perform much better than he did this year.

Keith (Farmington, CT): Thanks Ben. How do young OF prospects Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna compare?
Ben Badler: Very different types of players. Acuna is a well-rounded player who brings you value in a lot of different phases of the game. Soto’s a corner outfielder whose value is tied into what he does in the batter’s box, and he’s very, very good in that box.

Matt (Seattle): Hi Ben, I've got a question about Alvaro Seijas. I read your initial report on him when he first signed and it said he was 6'1". Now i see him reported as being only 5'8", which seems very short for a pitching prospect, on BA and various other sites. Can you please tell me which one is accurate? Thanks!
Ben Badler: He’s about 6-0, 6-1. For a much longer explanation than is probably necessary, what happens is that Major League Baseball registers Latin American players now before they sign. For a prominent amateur player like Seijas, sometimes that happens when they’re 14 years old. So MLB enters those heights and weights (and I don’t know that they’re always physically measuring the players either, but that’s another story) into their system on players from a very early age and often doesn’t update them. (On our BA player cards, we rely on MLB’s information, which updates our stats daily, including player height and weight info, so we can’t change it ourselves unless we do it every day.) Oneil Cruz with the Dodgers is another good example; he’s still listed at 6-1, 150, but by the time he signed, he was already 6-4. And that’s why you see a lot of young Latin American players in particular listed with their signing height/weight info, even if it’s obvious they have gained weight or even grown taller since then.

ross (clearwater): so, how much ya bench?
Ben Badler: Oh, ’bout tree fiddy. (Or 355 as of last week, for a touch-and-go rep.)

Alex (TN): We all knew Moncada would be the POY pick.. I imagine Bregman got some love too. Did anyone even mention Cozens at all during the discussions? Just curious.
Ben Badler: Cozens definitely came up in the discussion. Hard not to given the power he showed this year. Aside from the positional value edge that other players we considered had over Cozens, his home park also inflated his numbers significantly. He did have a great year, but those road numbers were pretty ordinary.

Jon (Philly): For J2 players, if one turns 16 on say December 12 - are they then eligible to sign or is it the J2 after they turn 16? Any idea if Phillies will use their remaining allocation?
Ben Badler: He would have to wait until July 2. If a player turns 16 from Sept. 1 on, he’s eligible to sign the following July 2. If he turns 16 between July 3 and the end of August, he can sign on his 16th birthday. I do think the Phillies will spend their full bonus pool, but with 9 months to do so and all the high-profile kids already off the board (and several of them going to the Phillies), there’s no need to rush to spend.

Bill (Boston): Devers, future 1st baseman with the Red Sox (blocked by Moncada at 3rd) or traded for pitching?
Ben Badler: Devers is very blocked by Moncada right now, but he’s turned himself into a good defender at third base. Given Dave Dombrowski’s history, I think he’s (very valuable) trade bait.

Mike (Work): Yadier Alvarez has showed excellent stuff in LoA, what does the future hold? Potential #1/2 starter? Is he a lock for the 2017 top 100?
Ben Badler: It’s front-end starter upside, no question. You’d like to see a 20-year-old do it for more than 60 innings in a full season to feel comfortable projecting him into that role, but he’s done a lot to alleviate the risk-based concerns on him coming into the year, especially with the way he’s been able to throw strikes.

Adam (Las Vegas): At what point does a fan base need to "get over" a prospect their team included in an unpopular trade, a la Addison Russell and Trea Turner?
Ben Badler: I don’t know, I don’t think it’s my place to tell fans how they should feel. Although if I were an A’s fan, the Russell and Josh Donaldson trades would be tough ones to swallow, given that they both looked like poor decisions at the time and what has transpired since then.

Greg (Cincy): Do teams need to sign certain intl players to get access to others? Like as an entry fee or pay to play situation
Ben Badler: Sort of. There are certainly times where a trainer will have a player you want to sign, and the trainer says, hey, if you want to sign this guy, can you sign these other eligible players I have for moderate bonuses to help me out? And if you’re signing several players from the same trainer over the years, when that trainer has a star prospect, he’s going to remember which team is driving revenues to his program when it comes down to giving access to the player or even signing him if the offers are close.

Bill (Boston): Moncada is striking out at an alarming rate. Should that "swing and miss" rate be a concern or just part of the development process?
Ben Badler: It’s a little bit of both. The strikeout rate in High-A was fine and rose when he got to Double-A. Kris Bryant struck out 26 percent of the time in Double-A and it jumped to 29 percent in Triple-A, and that was when he was a year older than Moncada is now. The swing-and-miss was why I though Moncada might have trouble making the jump to MLB as a September callup, but between the bat speed, his swing mechanics and what’s generally good strike-zone judgment even if the pitch recognition needs to improve, I think you’re going to see the contact frequency get better with more experience.

Arnold (Cali): I heard benching isn't the most productive exercise for baseball scouts/writers, but yet you can bench a lot and are a good. Thoughts?
Ben Badler: The key to the Ben Badler training method is to bench more than you squat. I’m always thinking outside the box.

Proswagonist (Liberl): Is it kind of sad that a talent like Otani wouldn't have been developed as both a pitcher and hitter if he signed with a ML team out of HS?
Ben Badler: Yes. And I totally understand why teams don’t want their prospects trying to be two-way players in the minors—baseball is hard enough just focusing on either hitting or pitching—but I’d love to see a team give someone like Hunter Greene a chance to do it, if he wants to pursue that path.

Hans (Dallas): What can you tell me about Sixto Sanchez, thanks
Ben Badler: One of the best pitching prospects in the Gulf Coast League. Regularly gets his fastball into the mid-90s with advanced feel for pitching. Having to make calls around to find out more about a pop-up arm the Phillies signed under the radar in Latin America is becoming an annual exercise for me.

Greg (Atlanta): Hard for me to contain my excitement about Touki and his second half. I know he's raw. Do you think he moves slowly because of that, regardless of the success he has?
Ben Badler: His ability to keep his delivery together and throw more strikes in the second half of the season was huge. How fast the Braves move him is up to the Braves—and we’ve seen them hit the accelerator with some of their assignments and promotions this year—but we saw a lot more of the frontline starter potential the last few months of the season than we did in April and May.

Dave (Grayson, ga): Any word on why the Braves have been so inactive in the Cuban market? Seems like a big missed opportunity given that they are over their bonus pool already. Do the players they signed that took them over their bonus pool justify the penalties incurred for next year?
Ben Badler: Separate from the bonus pools, every team has an internal budget they have to stay within, and the Braves decided to be aggressive early and use it on kids mostly from the DR and VZ. For me, if you’re going to go over your bonus pool and take the two-year penalty, you have to get at least three years worth of talent in one year. Between Kevin Maitan and the other players they added to the organization, I certainly think they accomplished that.

DTH (SF): Seems like the Cardinals always have unheralded guys from the minors produce more than outsiders expect. Do you think this is more of a scouting edge or a development edge?
Ben Badler: They’re good at both, and they have scouting and player development working on the same page in a cohesive way, which is not the case in every organization. They’ve scouted well in the draft and internationally and they’ve turned players nobody else wanted (like Aledmys Diaz) into all-stars.

dave (erie pa.): Is greg allen flying under the radar with naquin, zimmer, santander, benson, etc? True cf, high o.b., speed?
Ben Badler: He’s a good sleeper and after what he showed in Double-A, I think he’s one of their better prospects.

Corey (Seattle): Who would you rather have between Anderson Espinoza and Triston McKenzie?
Ben Badler: Espinoza

Ben Badler: Thanks for the questions. As you’ve seen, we’re posting all the instructional league rosters on the site as we get them in, and the league top 20 lists are well in progress. I’ve got to get back to those calls now, so I’ll catch you guys here next week.

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