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Does Tommy Hanson start next season in the Braves rotation or is that a little too blue sky ? Is midseason more realistic. Also, would you agree that of pitching prospects his value increased the most this season.
Ben Badler (2:01 PM)
Hi everyone, it's a pleasure to be here. I help (along with many others) coordinate Baseball America's minor league prospect coverage and I do a fair amount of heavy lifting for our international baseball coverage. So if you have questions about minor league or international prospects, fire away! I imagine he'll get a chance to start the season and if not then definitely by midseason if he continues to pitch well at Triple-A. His command is advanced and he has three good pitches, so he doesn't have to get that much better to get a crack at it... As for the second part of your question, I think ALL prospects are being more highly valued, not just pitching prospects.
Paul (San Francisco, CA)
Is Pablo Sandoval legit?
Ben Badler (2:02 PM)
Very legit, as in possibly the No. 2 prospect in that system for me behind Buster Posey legit. Hard to find a guy with that kind of power who doesn't strike out much, and he's already got the Big Papi tumbling slide tool mastered.
Ben, how do you feel about this year's international signings? Are Duran, Inoa, R. Rodriguez and Y. Rodriguez top 100 prospects or were they the product of an inflated market?
Ben Badler (2:06 PM)
Inoa is legit. I just talked to a scout the other day who said he recently saw Inoa pitch for the first time and was blown away. We're Baseball America, we always try to present strengths and weaknesses for a guy, and 16-year-olds have plenty of development to do, but scouts can't help but heap praise on this guy. Duran, Yorman and Rafael were three of the top international free agents available to sign this year, but you're right, it is an inflated market, so you can't compare, say, what Wilmer Flores got last year to what Rafael Rodriguez got this year. Duran, Yorman and Rafael all have high upside, but there are big questions about all of their hit tools, which is somewhat concerning. I'm betting Inoa ends up making the top 100, but I wouldn't put those other three guys in there.
Outside of the hype surrounding Inoa, who was your favorite international signing?
Ben Badler (2:08 PM)
Julio Morban, an outfielder the Mariners signed, and Jose Osoria, an infielder the Indians signed. Morban got one of the top bonuses this year and scouts think he has a better feel for hitting and feel for the game than Yorman and Rafael, and a better swing too. He just doesn't have the physical size of Rafael or Duran, or the world-class speed of Yorman.
Ben, could you please help settle a debate for me? Who has the best farm system: Atlanta, New York Mets, or Philadelphia, and by how much? Also, where would you rank Atlanta's system overall? Thanks.
Ben Badler (2:09 PM)
The Braves. The Braves' hitting propsects like Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Gorkys Hernandez, Jordan Schafer and Tyler Flowers is a pretty formidable group that stacks up well against any other team's hitters in the minors.
Who are the top three prospects in the Dodgers system?
Ben Badler (2:11 PM)
Andrew Lambo, James McDonald and Ivan DeJesus.
Luke (Des Moines)
Ben, including Fields, who are the top 3 prospects in Seattle's system? Halman or Saunders? Pineda or Ramirez?
Ben Badler (2:13 PM)
Saunders is at the top for me, then Adam Moore (although I was at West Tenn's last game of the season and it looked like he injured his left wrist, so we'll have to update his status) and 2B Luis Valbuena, who is criminally overlooked but who scouts like. He's got a good approach, squares up balls with a line-drive approach and he plays good defense at an up-the-middle position. Halman's a great athlete, but he's going to need some work with his pitch recognition.
Was Wilmer Flores the number 1 international prospect signing last year? Also has he been the most productive from last year's class?
Ben Badler (2:20 PM)
Nope, there were eight others who got more than Flores during last year's international signing period. If all those guys suddenly because free agents again though, he would almost certainly get the most money. There's a tremendous amount of uncertainty involved in international scouting, mostly because the kids you're dealing with are so young that so much can change between ages 16 and 17. Huge ceiling there with Flores, great bat speed, tough to strike out and a frame that projects for power. Flores dominated the Appy League, but the other guy we need to be talking about here is Jefry Marte, who also signed last year, has good tools and just led the GCL in OPS as a 17-year-old.
Matt (London, Ontario)
There aren't usually many questions regarding the Blue Jays farm system, so I would like to get your opinions on a couple players. What are your thoughts on the future potentials of Travis Snider, Brett Cecil, JP Arencibia, David Cooper and Brad Mills? Thanks a lot!
Ben Badler (2:21 PM)
I don't think it's one of the stronger systems, but any team would love to have a Snider, who is limited defensively but is an outstanding hitter. Cecil and Arencibia are solid guys, although I'm not sold on Arencibia's approach translating to higher levels, at least not yet.
Mike: (Chicago, IL)
How come the Cubs have been quiet on the international stage, I haven't heard much about them?
Ben Badler (2:22 PM)
They've spent money in the Pacific Rim, obviously dumping a bunch of money on Fukudome but also getting younger guys like Dae-Eun Rhee and Hak Ju Lee.
Bob Honolulu, HI
In the 9/08/08 edition of Ask BA, Travis Snider was rated against the elite prep batters of the 2005, 2007, and 2008 classes. How does Jason Heyward compare to Snider and against those classes?
Ben Badler (2:23 PM)
I have Heyward ranked ahead of Snider, and I'm a big Snider fan. There's only a handful of minor league prospects I would take over Heyward.
Lance (Memphis, TN)
Between Flores and Marte (and Puello doesn't look too bad either), is there any question that the Mets had the top international signing class last year? How much has that class helped improve the Mets' system overall?
Ben Badler (2:26 PM)
Well the Yankees made out pretty well for themselves with Kelvin De Leon and Eduardo Sosa, who were two of the best players in the Dominican Summer League this year despite being just 17. Then they also nabbed Arodys Vizcaino, the top pitcher last year and a guy who should be one of the top prospects in the GCL this season. At some point soon once we get these league Top 20s out of the way, my next goal is to put together an update on the status of the top 20 July 2 signings from last year as well as a look at some DSL and VSL players who could make a leap next year on BaseballAmerica.com.
Will Cameron Maybin and Ryan Tucker be promoted to the Marlins once their championship series ends and if so, will they be regulars or relegated to the bench?
Ben Badler (2:27 PM)
It's possible, although neither of them would play major roles this year. The Marlins moved Tucker to the bullpen in Caroina, and my guess is he ends up staying there because his velo plays up there (saw him sitting 95-96 the other day, as oppposed to just touching that high as a starter earlier in the year), and because his command and slider still need work. With Maybin, I think there was a misconception before the season started that he might have been ready for the big leagues immediately, but that's not quite fair to him. He could be a superstar, but he still needs time to make some adjustments.
Your thoughts on the Rangers prospects Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland. Seems like the Rangers have something with those 2. Thanks!
Ben Badler (2:28 PM)
I think people are getting a little ahead of themselves on those two, at least for now. I remain skeptically cautious, although I guess that's my usual state of mind.
Ben, Do you still think Phil Hughes is part of the Yankees 2009 plans, And beyond for that matter? Cashman didnt seem to Impressed by the great outing Hughes had on sunday.
Ben Badler (2:30 PM)
Yes. Patience, my friend.
What kind of stuff does Jhoulys Chacin throw?
Ben Badler (2:31 PM)
A heavy 90-93 mph FB that he can either can swings and misses with or get hitter to chop into the ground, a good 84-85 mph changeup that's a swing-and-miss pitch and a 78-80 mph curveball with sharp, late break. The Rockies gave him a huge workload, but he's a very, very good prospect.
Luke (Des Moines)
Ben, what do you think of Nick Adenhart after a really tough season at Triple-A? Is he still highly regarded in the Angels system, or have others passed him? Where will he rank in the Top 100? Thanks.
Ben Badler (2:32 PM)
It's been a tough year for Adenhart, who was rushed him to the big leagues when he wasn't ready. I can't imagine he's still in the 100, as I think Jordan Walden has passed him, but he's probably still one of the Angels better prospects because that system isn't very deep right now.
What do you think about the Diamondbacks' system, after graduating so many to the majors in recent years and trading so many away in the Haren deal? Is there much left besides Jarrod Parker?
Ben Badler (2:34 PM)
I think it's thinned out quite a bit after Parker and Gerardo Parra. Their best young players are in the big leagues right now, which isn't a bad thing at all.
Daryl Jones for most helium of 2008?
Ben Badler (2:34 PM)
He's one of several good candidates. He's made me a convert.
Is Josh Vitters the cubs #1 prospect? Is he about the only cub farmhand that might crack the top 100?
Ben Badler (2:37 PM)
Yes, but more by default than on anything he's done to blow me away yet. Jose Ceda might be the No. 2 in that system, and I love a guy who sits 96-98 with a hard slider, but he probably shouldn't be the No. 2 prospect in an organization.
I ask this every year, but will Scott Elbert ever be the prospect we once thought? Any chance of a decent career?
Ben Badler (2:38 PM)
Scouts like him, but more as a bullpen arm than as a starter.
Are you of the opinion that Jesus Montero will eventually have to move out of catcher. If so, does Austin Romine then become the Yanks' catcher of the future?
Ben Badler (2:42 PM)
It's not a unanimous decision among scouts that he's going to have to move off the position. I know scouts who think he can stick behind the plate with some work, so I'm sure the Yankees will give him the opportunity to stick back there, but that bat should be above-average at any position.
Best Brewers prospect right now is ....?
Ben Badler (2:44 PM)
Most people I talk to say Alcides Escobar, and I'm inclined to give him the edge right now over Mat Gamel and Jeremy Jeffress. Escobar's fielding is at the upper levels of what a shortstop can contribute to a team's run prevention. He's got soft hands, tremendous footwork, great range and a very strong arm. We already knew that coming into the season, but he's also added a bit of strength and has developed at the plate. He's never going to be a huge OBP guy and he might have some initial hiccups in the big leagues because of his aggressive approach, but he can handle all types of pitches and put the ball in play, so a guy with a .340-.350 OBP and a .420-.430 or so slugging with elite defense at shortstop at his peak is darn good, basically Jimmy Rollins' numbers this season.
Did your expectations of Villalona improve, decline, or roughly stay the same after this year?
Ben Badler (2:44 PM)
About the same.
Dave (San Luis Obispo)
WHOA! Do you really like Adam Moore, Luis Valbuena, and Michael Saunders more than Carlos Triunfel? What is his ceiling now that it seems he has developed a little power?
Ben Badler (2:46 PM)
I'm not crazy about Triunfel, there's too much uncertainty flying around with him. Maybe I'm wrong, we'll see. But those other three guys are all solid bets to be major leaguers and are capable of turning in above-average seasons as well. I'm not so sure that slugging .406 with a .287 batting average in High Desert is a sign of burgeoning power.
John (Portland, ME)
Better in '09, Buccholz or Bowden?
Ben Badler (2:47 PM)
Best Nationals prospect not named Jordan?
Ben Badler (2:51 PM)
Marrero and Burgess. I have both of them ranked over Zimm.
After Rick Porcello, is the cupboard bare for the Tigers system? What other prospects can the fans get excited about?
Ben Badler (2:54 PM)
Mostly, yes, but Ryan Strieby put together an excellent year in the FSL, Wilkin Ramirez is going to struggle upon every promotion because of his plate discipline but he still has tools, and Casper Wells is a bit of a sleeper right now in Double-A.
Top 5 prospects in the Phillies Farm system?
Ben Badler (2:56 PM)
Some combination of Marson, Donald, D'Arnaud, Brown, Carrasco and Taylor. I know, that's six.
Best Twins prospect?
Ben Badler (2:57 PM)
Ramos, although I wouldn't quibble with Revere.
Adam (Ft Wayne, IN)
Do the Indians have a top 10 farm system right now given all the deals that they made this year?
Ben Badler (3:00 PM)
Probably. I'm not trying to discredit good scouting and player development, but often the quality of an organization's farm system is based on circumstance, whether it's always picking high in the draft or being out of contention and being able to acquire premium prospects like the Indians did with LaPorta and Santana. But they also have Weglarz, Mills, Miller and Huff, among others who they developed internally, so I think top 10 is a safe bet.
Lars Anderson...above avg regular or all-star?
Ben Badler (3:01 PM)
The skills are there for him to be an all-star.
Dennis (Flagstaff, AZ)
For a system that isn't very "deep", it sure seems like the Angels are producing solid major leaguers. What constitutes "deep"?
Ben Badler (3:05 PM)
Well now you're talking about a retrospective look instead of a prospective look. Obviously the Angels have produced a good number of homegrown players. But it's tough to retool your farm system every year when you give away premium draft picks to sign guys like Gary Matthews Jr., which comes back to circumstance like I mentioned before.
Most scouts seem to question Dan Murphy, but every time I see him I see a professional hitter with extra base power. what am i missing?
Ben Badler (3:08 PM)
The scouts we've talked to do like Murphy and say he's going to be a good hitter in the big leagues. I think a lot of times if a guy posts good numbers in the minor leagues but doesn't get written about as much as the premium, elite-level prospects, it gets assumed that scouts don't like him, but that's not always the case.
Tommy Hanson and Charlie Morton or Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell?
Ben Badler (3:08 PM)
Hanson/Morton, but mostly just because of Hanson.
Joe (Billings, MT)
Ben, do you expect Price, Davis, or Niemann to play in the bigs next year?
Ben Badler (3:12 PM)
I don't know what to expect the Rays will do with Niemann, who at this point deserves a chance to start in the big leagues for some team. Six-foot-nine pitchers need to be treated a little bit differently than other prospects. I watched Davis in one of his first starts of the year in AA and I've seen him a few more times in AAA recently. He's a guy with a plus FB and a plus CB who could get guys out without worrying as much about mixing his pitches and hitting his spots, but he's impressed me by showing that he's trying to do so and do everything he can in the minor leagues to get better. The changeup still isn't where it needs to be for him, but he's mixing in a cutter that might just serve as his changeup. He should get a chance to start in Tampa next year.
Ben, Do the O's have a top 5 farm system? Who's #2 in the system, safely assuming Wieters is number 1
Ben Badler (3:13 PM)
I think so. Tillman and Matusz are Nos. 2 and 3 for me in that system, but the error bars on those guys is big enough that the order could be flip-flopped with no qualms.
Ben, did you see Niemann's last start? Think he will still make it as a starter, though possibly not in Tampa?
Ben Badler (3:15 PM)
No, I think I was at West Tenn-Carolina that night, wish I had gone, but he should be pitching in Durham again this week. We'll have some recaps of the players I saw in the playoffs with some input from scouts on BaseballAmerica.com after the minor league postseason wraps up.
Hey Ben, after Beckham and Poreda, is there anyone in the White Sox farm system to get excited about?
Ben Badler (3:16 PM)
Dexter Carter is a 6-foot-6 RHP who slipped to the 13th round after a poor season for Old Dominion. The White Sox made a slight mechanical tweak, helping throw across his body less and stride more toward the plate and voila: throwing more strikes with a 90-93 mph FB and a very good curve that's helped him get more than a K per inning.
Jim Hamilton NJ
Ben how do you feel about Major league ball players being sent down to the minors for the sole purpose of winning a championship at A, AA or AAA? Should there\are there any rules that should prohibit this move?
Ben Badler (3:17 PM)
I think it's within the rules, so technically it's kosher, but Bowie got hosed there after a great season. I would be all in favor of them changing that rule.
Nolan Reimold (Arizona)
Is this my last stop before getting a shot in Baltimore? I want to look to my left and see Adam and Nick! Also, how sick was my series against Akron?! Later; thanks for the chat. -NR
Ben Badler (3:25 PM)
Soon, I hope. That's like what, 180 AA games? Time to move on up.
Where do you expect to see Mike Stanton in the rankings? Top 50?
Ben Badler (3:27 PM)
Very high. That kind of size and that kind of power is ridiculous for an 18-year-old to have, but it's his athleticism that makes it all remarkable.
I'd like to know a little bit about Anthony Delmonico. His numbers in rookie ball are hard to overlook. Is he legit?
Ben Badler (3:29 PM)
Interesting bat but nobody likes him defensively, so that really dings him. But the word on the street is the Dodgers are thinking about converting him to catcher. He has some arm strength and some athleticism, and we're talking about the same organization that converted Russell Martin and Carols Santana, so that could make things very interesting.
Ben (Centerville, OH)
Reds top 5 prospects: Soto, Alonso, Frazier, Stubbs, Mesoraco?
Ben Badler (3:30 PM)
Let's switch Valaika in there and sub out Mesoraco.
You have sandoval rated ahead of Bumgarner? It seems like everyone at BA is obsessed with that guy, how high will he rank next year?
Ben Badler (3:33 PM)
Well, I wouldn't say that, I'd say I'm probably in the minority in ranking those two around Baseball America. It takes a while to sift through where everyone ranks in a top 100 list, if that's what you're asking, but do the Giants have a better positional player right now than Sandoval? I'm not sure that they do.
Jimmy White Plains NY
What do you think of the Yankees 2008 International Class and do you think was there best signing and are they going to sign anybody else.
Ben Badler (3:38 PM)
I think it was a good haul in a market that has become increasingly competitive, especially with smaller market teams pouring more money into July 2 players. They missed out on their key target in Inoa, but Ramon Flores is an OF with a short, compact swing who has impressed several scouts I know. On that note, it sounded like something just exploded in the Baseball America kitchen, so I'm off to check it out. Thanks for spending the afternoon.