Ben Badler: Happy Halloween everyone! A lot of talent throughout the Blue Jays’ farm system, even beyond the obvious 1-2 prospects. Let’s get started.
- Shapiro is convinced his farm system is top 5 overall. Would you concur?
Ben Badler: Yes, I think that’s a fair assessment. They’re not No. 1 or 2, but they’re definitely within that 5-ish overall neighborhood.
J.P. (Springfield, IL):
- Thanks for chatting, Ben. At this point, is health the only thing standing in Alford’s way? Will we see him in the early teens in the Handbook?
Ben Badler: Staying healthy is a big one for Alford, but when he was on the field this year, he also just didn’t perform very well. His timing just seemed to be off the whole year, and with that his strikeout rate went way, way up. When you’re 24 years old in Triple-A, you’ve just got to hit better than .238/.314/.339. I do you think you can look at the talent and the track record up through Double-A with Alford and see reasons why he could rebound, so he’s not far off the top 10, but as someone who’s been fairly high on Alford before, right now it’s hard to feel comfortable betting on him as an everyday regular.
- Did the lack of result in AFL hurt Pearson’s prospect standing? He hasn’t shown the ability to command his FB
Ben Badler: If I remember right, by the time I finished the list, Pearson had only one AFL outing, but I wouldn’t change anything based on shaky command in the AFL from a pitcher who essentially missed the entire 2018 season. He’s a tricky one to rank given his circumstances and I think you could make a reasonable case to bump him up even a couple spots higher than where he is on the list, but the good thing on Pearson out of the AFL is the stuff all seems to still be intact.
Warren (New London):
- Cal Stevenson had a .511 on base percentage and scored 73 runs in 59 games, but one would have liked to see him against better competition. Are observers buying into him yet? Will he make the 30?
Ben Badler: I am. Probably one of my favorite sleepers in the system. Love the plate discipline, hitting approach and he runs well too . . . need to see him replicate it beyond rookie leagues, but I think that could prove to be a great pick out of the 10th round.
Mike (Tampa, FL):
- Is it safe to assume the CBA was solely responsible for preventing Vlad Jr from getting a September call up, or are you buying the story about his defense being the deal breaker? If it’s the latter, will his defense *magically* improve enough by, say, mid-April?
Ben Badler: They are planning to keep him in the minor leagues for the beginning of the season to manipulate his service time and gain an extra year of team control. Same thing the Braves did with Ronald Acuña and the Cubs did with Kris Bryant, among other examples.
- Are there any pitchers in the lower levels that we should be keeping an eye on come 2019? Thank you.
Ben Badler: Adam Kloffenstein didn’t pitch this year after the draft, but he’s someone who got top 10 consideration and could quickly jump into that group in 2019.
Frank (Indianapolis, IN):
- How many of these guys are likely to make the top 100?
Ben Badler: I think 5-6, maybe 7, with the top eight all belonging in the Top 100 conversation.
- Ben — Bichette has all the ear-marks of a developing hitter. But, what does his defense look like? Can he play an effective shortstop in the big leagues?
Ben Badler: Yes. He put a lot of time into working at his defense over the last couple of years and you could see the results show on the field this season. Good hands, feet work well, body control, ranges well on plays up the middle, smooth on the double play turn. I don’t see any need for him to change positions.
Oren (Oshawa, ON):
- What happened to Logan Warmoth? What are the chances he can rebound?
Ben Badler: A very vanilla look this season. If you liked him coming into the year, it was more about the sum of the parts than any loud tools—the tools were more a bag of 5s or a tick under—but this year he just didn’t hit either. He’ll still be in their top 30 but it’s not pointing in the right direction.
- Settle a debate I’m having with my buddy: Gabriel Moreno or Riley Adams? Will we see either in the top 20?
Ben Badler: I’d take Moreno. Athletic catcher with terrific hand-eye coordination, rarely swings and misses. Now he has to make better decisions on when to swing, because right now he’s a free-swinger who can get away with it because he can still make contact even on pitches he should lay off, but I’ll take the starting ingredients of a catcher who has a preternatural knack for putting the barrel to the ball.
- Doesn’t the lack of height from Pardinho scares you? I think he projects similarly like deivi Garcia
Ben Badler: It doesn’t. If he were an amateur pitcher who was touching 92 and I had to project whether he would throw harder, maybe that would come into play, but he’s already reaching the mid-90s. And he’s backing it up with swing-and-miss breaking pitches, with excellent control for his age coming out of a free and easy delivery. It’s a lot of signs that point to a potential midrotation or even frontline type of starter.
- Of all the current Jays prospects who didn’t make the top 10, who do you see as most likely to make the jump next year?
Ben Badler: Kloffenstein I mentioned earlier, but I think Gabriel Moreno, Orelvis Martinez, Griffin Conine and Cal Stevenson are others I could see making that leap.
- How far out is Orelevis Martinez from the top 10?
Ben Badler: Not too far. I thought there was a clear group of 8-9 guys at the top of the system, with a lot of different ways you could go at the back of the list. I went with Miguel Hiraldo over Orelvis Martinez because Hiraldo was one of the best hitters in a pretty stacked 2017 international class, then went out and backed that up with pro performance on the field, hitting and hitting with some impact too. Orelvis might end up being just as good or better than Hiraldo when we’re talking again this time next year, but right now that extra certainty in Hiraldo gave him an edge for me.
Craig Borden (Rochester, NY):
- There were plenty of standouts this season but who shocked you with their performance this season. Who surprised you? Brock Lundquist caught me off gaurd and was really fun to watch as were most of the Lansing Lugnuts.
Ben Badler: Cavan Biggio. Coming into the season I thought he was longshot type prospect, but he made some legitimate swing adjustments that helped, he’s an extremely patient hitter and the power will translate. Still some questions he’s going to have to answer but I definitely did not expect him to have this loud of a season.
Clinton (BC, Canada):
- Looking at this top ten list where do you think the Jays farm system ranks overall? I’ve read in various places it’s top heavy and it’s been a stated goal of Atkins and Shapiro to build the depth, do you think they have?
Ben Badler: It’s one of the better systems in the game. Obviously Vladdy Jr. alone carries an enormous amount of value and Bichette does as well, but it’s a pretty balanced system from top to bottom. You’ve got those guys, Jansen, Reid-Foley, Biggio in the upper levels, players like Smith and Pearson in that next wave, then Pardinho and Groshans were two of the most exciting players in short-season/rookie leagues this year, plus more draft/international talent on the way up with players like Hiraldo, Kloffenstein, Conine, Orelvis, Moreno, Jimenez, among others.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Guerrero, Bichette, Kacy Clemens, Yuli Gurriel – all these guys have dads or brothers who made the big time. Does this indicate that the Blue Jay’s scouting machine pays more attention to linage than the typical scouting department?
Ben Badler: Plus Biggio and Conine too. It definitely sticks out. Bloodlines are something they look at, but I don’t know that it’s something they weight any more heavily than most clubs. One thing most of those players have in common is that they’re just good prospects, and they’ve done a good job identifying amateur players in both the draft and the international market, regardless of bloodlines.
Mike (Ottawa, ON):
- Assuming health issues can be avoided, where do you see Nate Pearson’s potential? Thanks.
Ben Badler: Could be a midrotation starter, and depending what he shows next year I might even upgrade that. He’s a tricky one to evaluate, because he looked so good after signing last year, to the point where we jumped him into our Top 100, but it’s difficult to have a lot of confidence in both nailing down his present ability and basing a projection off that given how little he’s been on the mound this season. But obviously what he’s flashed going back to last year has been exciting.
- How good can Jordan Groshans become in your opinion? Thanks.
Ben Badler: Heard great things on Groshans from evaluators who saw him in the Gulf Coast League this season. If I had to bet, I’d say he’s probably a third baseman in the end rather than a shortstop, though I wouldn’t rule out shortstop yet either, but the offensive game projects at either position. Advanced approach, potential plus bat/plus power combination if everything clicks. Arrow-up guy for sure.
- Of the two, which one of Kevin Smith or Biggio has the best chance to be an above avg regular? Here is hoping the swing changes Smith made are legit.
Ben Badler: Kevin Smith. Biggio’s done it at a higher level on the offensive side, but Smith’s ability to play shortstop while Biggio still is working to either stay at second base or move around the field is an edge for Smith.
Jeff (Mississauga, ON):
- Hi Ben, Is Chavez Young or Ryan Noda anything to get excited about? How about Samad Taylor?
Ben Badler: There’s something there with Ryan Noda. It’s a three true outcomes profile, a lot of walks, home runs and strikeouts, with defensive limitations. He is extremely patient and it’s legit plus power. By the time he gets to Double-A, I think we’ll have a better sense of how much of this is going to translate, but you have to like the value to get a player like that in the 15th round.
- People were shocked when the Jays took Groshans as high as they did. Is he the type of athletic kid that can hit for both average and power?
Ben Badler: I think he can. And I think it’s always important to be updating our reports and projections as new information comes in, especially as players go from competing against other amateur players to having to do it with wood bats against professional competition, whether that’s for draft picks or international signings. Bo Bichette is another example of that. The Blue Jays drafted him in the second round, but by the time he was done in the GCL, it was pretty clear to scouts who saw him there that he was a first-round caliber talent. The buzz isn’t quite as electric on Groshans as it was at the time on Bichette, but the point is more that we always have to be incorporating new information as it comes in, and there’s a good amount of evidence since the draft that Groshans’ talent fits in at the top of that first round.
- Is TJ Zeuch someone who would have been in the back end of the 10 if you had weighted factors differently? To you, is he most likely (1) a future MLB back end starter, (2) a future MLB long guy out of the bullpen, or (3) a AAAA-type pitcher who fills whatever holes the big league club requires?
Ben Badler: Probably somewhere between 2 or 3. It’s heavy sink dropping down from a skyscraper frame, but the lack of an out pitch among his secondary stuff is a big concern.
Grant (Kingston, Ontario):
- What position should the front office look to draft in the upcoming draft? Thank you.
Ben Badler: Just take the best players available. The Astros had Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, but they still took LSU shortstop Alex Bregman at No. 2 overall in 2015. Too many setups for mistakes when you narrow your focus to certain positions.
Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions. You can drop some in my IG story tonight too and I’ll try to get to some of them there during trick-or-treating. And if you see anyone walking around tonight with a Vlad Jr. costume, please stop me and say hello. ????