Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (July 28)

Ben Badler: Hi everyone! Let’s get started.

CCP (Taiwan): Braves no doubt is the most aggressive organization in baseball. But are they too aggressive in last season and this season? And why are they so aggressive to promote almost everyone?

Ben Badler: I’d put the Dodgers up there with them in the aggressive promotions. I can’t argue with the results on some of them, like Ronald Acuna, but I do think they are feeling the pressure to try to contend faster than their internal talent level will allow them to, which is why you’re seeing them try to rush some of these guys up the ladder.

Nick (Waunakee): Ryan McMahon was so disappointing last year in neutral parks and has done well this year hitting in launching pads. This leads me to predict serviceable major leaguer but nothing more. Your thoughts?

Ben Badler: He cut his strikeout rate from 30 percent in Double-A last year down to 18 percent this year between Double-A and Triple-A. That’s real skill development, and in the area that had been one of his biggest risk factors the last three years. The park helps, no doubt, but I think it’s a true breakthrough.

Chad (New York): Seems like Florial and Jesus Sanchez may be part of the next wave of five tool guys. Who is better?

Ben Badler: I have more belief in Sanchez’s bat.

Bo Bichette Fan (CA): Was Bo close to making the hot sheet this week? He hasn't maintained his XBH pace since being promoted to HiA, but it's impressive nonetheless he's kept up his ~.400 batting average. Are we now talking about a FV 60-70 hit tool? With prospects graduating, if Bo closes out 2017 on the pace he's at will you start to seriously consider him as a top 10-15 prospect?

Ben Badler: Yes, yes and yes. I’ve the biggest Bo Bichette fan on the BA staff for a while, so I can’t say for sure that he will be that high up our Top 100 going into 2018, I absolutely think he belongs in that top 15 prospect conversation right now.

Brad K. (Kewanee, IL): Thought's on Jose Adolis Garcia? I feel like he's an underrated prospect in the Cardinals organization.

Ben Badler: Good athlete and tool set, but the pitch recognition and swing length are still concerns for me. I’d take Randy Arozarena over him.

Royce Lewis (Florida): At what point do you expect the front office will let me take the next step up the ladder? This league is too easy - I need a greater challenge.

Ben Badler: Could Lewis handle a jump to the Appy League? Sure. But he’s going to open 2018 in Low-A either way, so I don’t think it matters much.

Mike Honcho (Philadelphia): Does Jhailyn Ortiz have the athleticism to stick as a corner OF?

Ben Badler: He moves around well enough to keep him out there for now, but he’s a humungous human being and, at 18 and with his body type, I have to think he’s going to get even bigger. So there’s a good chance he ends up at first base.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Could you envision a scenario in which the Yankees could acquire Sonny Gray without giving up either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres? If so, what do you believe it would take?

Ben Badler: Yes, you just have go give up more volume if you’re the Yankees, and they have the legitimate depth of prospects to make it happen.

Sergio Q (Tijuana, Mexico): What are your thoughts on the return the Padres got from Royals?

Ben Badler: There wasn’t a lot to choose from in that system, but I am a big fan of Esteury Ruiz and of the Padres taking a chance on a higher upside, higher volatility prospect like Ruiz. The feel for hitting is advanced, quick hands, strong wrists and big power potential for a middle infielder.

Ryan (Boston, MA): Does Bryan Mata have a chance to be a big riser on end of season lists?

Ben Badler: On the Red Sox prospects list, yeah, he’s rising up that one pretty quickly, but a lot of that is due to the dearth of talent there. I do think he’s a good prospect and a huge bargain for the Red Sox, but I think he projects as more of a back-end starter.

Jimmy (St. Louis): Who will have the better career, Sixto Sanchez or Jason Groome?

Ben Badler: Sixto Sanchez

Dale (Windsor): Who do you like better, Luis Robert or Royce Lewis? Where would you rank Wander Franco if he was coming out with the 2016 class? Ahead or behind Almanzar?

Ben Badler: Royce Lewis. And Franco over Almanzar.

Joe (NJ): Clearly Calhoun needs to be freed to play in the majors anytime soon. Is Texas a good landing spot for him if included in the Darvish deal considering how bad they messed up with Profar

Ben Badler: Rougned Odor has been a disappointment this year, but he’s still 23, talented and under team control the next 6 seasons. So they would have to believe in Calhoun’s bat enough as a LF/DH, which, geez, the way he’s hitting, isn’t unreasonable.

Nils (NY): Better young 2B prospect, Daniel Brito or Esteury Ruiz?

Ben Badler: Ruiz. More power potential.

Yankees Fan (Bronx): Are you getting comps of Estevan Florial to Victor Robles? They seem to have similar traits. I would think Robles has slightly louder tools across the board but Florial is a left handed bat, which should add to his value.

Ben Badler: The raw athleticism/tools are in the same ballpark and Florial has more power, but Robles has wayyyyy better bat control and superior defensive instincts.

Casey (Morgantown): I was so close to dropping Touki about a month back. Sure glad I didn't. Would you say the most likely spot for him would be an 8th or 9th inning guy still? Is his "stuff" tops in the ATL dominant pitching prospects crew?

Ben Badler: It depends on his delivery and strike-throwing development. Look at Chris Archer when he was in the minors, walking 5-6 batters per nine innings up through Double-A, but with a big fastball, a plus-plus breaking ball (albeit a slider vs. Touki’s curveball) and good athleticism. That’s a high bar and there’s still a huge amount of risk in his profile, but the raw ingredients are there for a breakthrough at some point.

J (Philly): Newly-acquired Phils 2B prospect Jose Gomez reminds me of the scouting reports for oldly-acquired Phils 2B prospect Jesmuel Valentin. Any similarity?

Ben Badler: Definitely some similarities there, although I think Gomez does have a chance to be a better hitter.

Jim (Berlin, NJ): Arozarena transitioning well at AA Springfield, showing improved strike zone judgment. With a solid finish, is he Top 10 in the Cards system? What about the Top 100?

Ben Badler: Yes on both, for me. When I saw him play while he was still in Cuba, one of the things I liked the most about him was his batting eye. I was surprised that he wasn’t walking more frequently in the first half of the season, but I think we’ve seen with Cuban players coming over for their first season, we need to take that transition into account especially in the first half. Going forward, I think we’re going to see more of that sound strike-zone judgment he’s shown since getting to Double-A and develop into a hitter with a good leadoff skill set between his on-base ability and speed.

Casey (Morgantown): Big picture question here. With the influx of some serious young talent in the bigs does it seem like the next wave of talent is a little diluted right now? How would the top 100 right now rank to say the top 100 two years ago mid summer?

Ben Badler: It wasn’t a great draft, so that plays a role, but one thing that I think is happening now is we all collectively have more information (and better information) on these players than ever before. Having more information means we’re picking up on more players who may have previously slipped under the radar, particularly at the lower levels, but for the higher tier prospects it means we see more of their flaws and pick more holes in their games that, perhaps 5-10 years ago, would have been overlooked.

Ralph (LA): What kind of potential does Yairo Munoz have at the big league level?

Ben Badler: I see him as a utility man, at best.

Ben (Illinois): How good could Jonathon Machado be if he keeps producing sneaky pop?

Ben Badler: Could be an everyday center fielder. I doubt power is ever a big part of the game, but the speed, defense and bat-to-ball skills are all there.

Connor (Boston): What does a Seuly Matias ceiling look like? What keeps him from that ceiling?

Ben Badler: A right fielder with a power-driven skill set who hits 25-30 home runs if everything clicks. Or he could go the Guillermo Pimentel route where his plate discipline has him stall out in the lower minors.

Me Met (Queens): Are you as high as you were before on Andres Gimenez, or is his slowish start somewhat concerning?

Ben Badler: Very much still high on Andres Gimenez. Remember, he’s an 18-year-old who was in the DSL last year, skipping all their rookie/short-season clubs and hitting .279/.333/.357. Amed Rosario at the same age was still in short-season Brooklyn batting .289/.337/.380. Players like Vladdy Jr or Juan Soto coming over to Low-A and mashing as 18-year-olds are the aberrations.

Kenneth (Pine Bluff): How much power do you project for Willy Adames in his prime years?

Ben Badler: Average power. Could be 15-20 home runs, depending on what they do to the baseballs.

Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): Jonathan Guzman has shown strong bat-to-ball ability since he signed. Does his frame support the addition of any good weight, though? Does he run the risk of ending up like Jose Vinicio?

Ben Badler: The strength is a risk factor—I doubt Guzman ever hits for much power—but Vinicio has a narrower frame than Guzman. And Guzman’s also just a more skilled hitter and all-around player than Vinicio was at the same age.

Riley (Texas): Does Royce Lewis have the same upside that someone like Brendan Rodgers has? Obviously Rodgers is closer to realizing it, but are they comparable ceilings?

Ben Badler: The profiles and skill sets have different shapes, but in terms of overall value and upside, yes. We have Brendan Rodgers as the No. 7 overall prospect in the game right now, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Royce Lewis is a top 10 guy in the next couple of years.

Adam (Texas): Ranger fans were debating on whether Verdugo has star potential. Can he be one or is he just going to settle into being a good player like Melky/Brett Butler/etc.?

Ben Badler: I’ve dropped the Melky Cabrera comp on him in the Prospect Handbook before, and I still think he can be that type of player. I wouldn’t call that a star, but Melky had four seasons of 3-5 WAR performance in his 20s. That would be a good get for a Yu Darvish rental.

Juan Soto (Earth): Can I be a fast mover in the Nats system like Acuna is for the Braves? What are my strengths?

Ben Badler: Health permitting, yes. That’s really the only obstacle Soto has faced so far. He’s a totally different player than Acuna, with his value all tied into what he does in the batter’s box, but he’s a really, REALLY good hitter.

Orlando (San Antonio): If you were a GM which prospect would you covet the most in the Astros system not named Whitley or Kyle Tucker?

Ben Badler: Francis Martes, Franklin Perez.

Gerry (Scranton): Has the question been pondered that maybe JP was/is bored at AAA and disappointed the Phils haven't been aggressive with promotions? Maybe all the bashing woke him up. Thoughts?

Ben Badler: I don’t know. It’s not like his Triple-A performance over the last year merited a promotion. And I don’t know that anyone I’ve seen has really bashed him either. We dropped in him pretty significantly within our Top 100 (I actually still think he’s their best prospect, but I’m certainly outnumbered here on that one), but that’s just a reflection of a long performance record at the Triple-A level coupled with the strong concerns from several scouts who have been following him. I still think everything is there for him to be a core player for the Phillies.

Benny (PA): Phillies won't contend for a few years...any chance they dangle Nola for a haul? Could they conceivably ask for Tucker/Whitley from HOU or Buehler/Verdugo from LAD? thanks

Ben Badler: If the Phillies don’t contend in the next few years, their GM is going to become their former GM. Nola isn’t going anywhere. They’re looking to build around him.

Sergio Q (Tijuana, Mexico): What are your thoughts on Morejon and Gore and their first few outings in profesional ball?

Ben Badler: Big fan of both. Great stuff and polish on both of them. Have to wait and see on durability, and I have some concerns there with Morejon, but two exciting, high-upside arms.

Best Nats OF Prospect (DC): There have been rumors the Nats front office are split on who they value more longterm between Robles and Soto. Do you see Soto having potential middle of the order superstar offensive potential?

Ben Badler: I love Juan Soto and I do think he has that middle of the order potential, but I still have to go with Victor Robles there. He can hit and give you potential Gold Glove defense at a premium position.

Ben Badler: Thank you everyone for all the questions, I appreciate you guys. I’ll be doing more travel over the next week to see some Dominican Prospect League players for 2018 and 2019. Enjoy the weekend!

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