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March 10, 6:05 AM ET
Chat with Baseball America's Ben Badler

Ben Badler
  (1:59 PM)

If you're the announcer calling yesterday's Netherlands-Dominican Republic game, how do you pass up the golden opportunity to use the word "Honkball" at every possible moment?

Willigan (Missoula, MT)

Hey Ben, love the BA chats. What do you think about Viciendo? Can he start the season at 3B and play some DH with Thome? Was he considered when BA did their top 100 prospects or too much of a question mark? Thanks.

Ben Badler
  (2:01 PM)

We put Viciedo at No. 61 on our Top 100 and I had him at No. 53 on my personal list. Scouts I've talked to think he can hit, and from watching video of him you can see why. I would prefer to see him start the year in the minors, Double-A probably, rather than pushing him to the big leagues as a 20-year-old.

Anthony (Staten Island, NY)

While I was watching the WBC last night one of the announcers mentioned that Chapman was the best pitching prospect in the world. What's your thoughts on that comment and how does he compare to the great Strasburg?

Ben Badler
  (2:03 PM)

Yes, that's a bit of hyperbole, but that's typical. He's the best pitching prospect from Cuba, sure, and one scout said he hit 100 mph several times yesterday, but I don't think we have enough information to say he's better than David Price, and there's at least a handful of pitching prospects in the minors I'd take over him right now. I'll wait to talk to some more scouts and see some Pitch F/x data on him before passing further judgment, but that is one electric arm.

Jeff, Chicago

Jordan Zimmerman has been dominating so far this spring. Do you feel his prospect star is rising? How do you think he'll fare this year if he's slotted in the rotation right away? Would that be rushing him a bit?

Ben Badler
  (2:04 PM)

No, I don't think anyone's stock is rising at spring training; the only thing that changes is media perception/attention. I have him as one of the top 25 pitching prospects in the game, and I don't think that's changed.

Josh (Columbia, MD)

What are your thoughts on the Orioles moving Billy Rowell to the OF?

Ben Badler
  (2:05 PM)

Not surprising. It was more a matter of when they were going to move him off third rather than if he'd move.

Jeremy in Ohio

Do you think we will see Matt LaPorta on the 25 man roster for the Indians?

Ben Badler
  (2:06 PM)

If not by Opening Day then definitely by May 1.

Jon (Cleveland)

Is there anyway that Carlos Santana stays a catcher and makes it to Cleveland by 2010? How far off is he if he changes positions?

Ben Badler
  (2:08 PM)

Absolutely, his catching tools are excellent, and he hasn't been a catcher for very long. The passed balls are a little high, but Russell Martin had 27 in 49 games when he the Dodgers converted him in rookie ball and Jorge Posada had 38 in 107 games in his second season of catching. The tools and the athleticism are there... he'll stick.

Ivan (Santee, CA)

Can Kyle Blanks play an adequate LF, or is he simply too big to handle the nuances of the OF?

Ben Badler
  (2:08 PM)

I don't think the lateral mobility is there for him to play the outfield. He's a first baseman.

Luke (Brookings,SD)

In your opinion, will Ben Revere have a more successful career if he's moved somewhere like 2nd base.

Ben Badler
  (2:09 PM)

No, center field is a premium position, and his plus-plus speed is put to better use there compared to second base.

John - Philadelphia

Hi Ben, Are any up and coming prospects that are getting a shot in the WBC to keep an eye on?

Ben Badler
  (2:11 PM)

Greg Halman of the Netherlands, though I seem to be much more reserved about his big league future than most. He just looks helpless against anything off-speed.

George, FLA

Who are 5 guys, currently not in the top 100, that you could see make a big push in 2009?

Ben Badler
  (2:12 PM)

Juan Ramirez, Chris Coghlan, Nick Barnese, Danny Duffy and Derek Norris, though Coghlan might lose his prospect eligibility this year.

Drew (New York)

Reports on Bryce Harper are almost like mysterious reports of Big Foot. Have you seen him? What are you hearing about the kid?

Ben Badler
  (2:13 PM)

No, only on video, which I'm sure is somewhere on YouTube if you search his name, but Nathan Rode here at BA has seen him in person. Great swing, huge power, tremendous bat speed and the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the draft when he's eligible in 2011.

Mike(Utica,NY)

Do you think there will be a Price vs. Wieters matchup in Norfolk at the end of April?

Ben Badler
  (2:15 PM)

End of April? I doubt it, but Norfolk opens the season at Durham, so it's possible we could see them there. And by see them, I mean that literally, since the BA offices are in here in Durham. We could potentially be talking about a Chris Tillman-David Price matchup on Opening Day, with Matt Wieters and Reid Brignac on the field, followed by a Wade Davis start the next day. Did I mention that the BA offices are in Durham?

Jeff Chisholm, NY

The over/under line on MLB innings pitched by Adam Miller this year is 50. You take the over?

Ben Badler
  (2:17 PM)

As a reliever, he might not get the over, which means he's probably going to be creeping up on some kind of a record for appearances in a team's Top 10 in the BA Prospect Handbook.

Steiny (NYC)

What can you tell us about Kyle Lobstein? Do you think this kid has a very nice future ahead of him?

Ben Badler
  (2:18 PM)

I love Kyle Lobstein, so much so that he was in the back end of my personal 100. He's a projectable 6-3 lefty with a fastball that's just average but two good secondary pitches, athleticism, feel for pitching and a good delivery with arm action that works well.

Timm, KC KS

Do you see the Rangers & Sox picking up conversations around Salty and Buchholz?

Ben Badler
  (2:19 PM)

No, I don't see why the Red Sox would trade Buchholz.

Kevin (ATL)

Desmond Jennings - if he gets (and stays) healthy, does he have the ability to be a .280/.380/.450 kind of guy, with 20+ hr and 30+sb?

Ben Badler
  (2:19 PM)

Yes, but the health is a big question mark for someone with his medical record. I think he'll be fine though.

Luke (Brookings, SD)

What are your thoughts on Angel Morales?

Ben Badler
  (2:21 PM)

Enormous power that might never play if he doesn't iron out those contact issues.

Wes, San Francisco, CA

Whats 2009 look like for Fautino De Los Santos?

Ben Badler
  (2:23 PM)

Probably return to game action in June as the A's try to ease him back in. We probably won't know too much until 2010.

john pittston pa

what do u expect from nelson cruz ?

Ben Badler
  (2:25 PM)

A big year if he gets regular playing time, which I hope the Rangers give him even if he struggles the first 1-2 months of the season.

Greg (columbia MO)

I know arod is important to the Yankees sucsess but how come nobody is looking at the great numbers Cody Ransom put up last year when he got a chance to play?

Ben Badler
  (2:26 PM)

Because those numbers were put up in 51 plate appearances?

Scott (Tucson)

Hey Ben. My question is: This time next year in 2010, who do you see as the #1 prospect?

Ben Badler
  (2:26 PM)

Jason Heyward

JJ (Pitt)

I keep hearing that Spring Training stats mean little, but what can we actually glean from these stats, primarily for young players? Is there anything to look at stat-wise as indicators of success?

Ben Badler
  (2:27 PM)

Nothing, really, mostly because the sample size is so small. Even the scouting reports, frankly, are of limited utility compared to all the information gathered during the previous seasons, unless a guy has undergone a radical transformation of some kind.

Ryan (Pittsburgh)

When do you think we might see Andrew McCutchen up in Pittsburgh, and do you think he might start developing the long-anticipated power stroke now that reports are he has bulked up a bit?

Ben Badler
  (2:30 PM)

At some point by mid-season. I don't care about the reports that he's bulked up; he's 22, we expect him to bulk up and account for that in our forecasts. He's not a big guy and he's not going to be a masher, but his bat speed should help his power, and his OBP skills and defense will make him an above-average CF.

Devin (St. Paul)

A lot has been made around here of Delmon Young's tweaked stroke to produce more loft. It has apparently helped as he is hitting .600 in Spring Training. Do you see him still having that .300+/30hr/20sb potential that he flashed so easily in the minors?

Ben Badler
  (2:31 PM)

Yes. People forget that he's going to be 23 this year. There are guys in our BA Top 100 list that are older than him. Patience.

mike (IL)

Anybody aside from Vitters to get Cubs fans excited for the future?

Ben Badler
  (2:32 PM)

Jay Jackson looks like he could be a ninth-round steal.

Nelson Cruz?

Please. Im nearly 30 years old and have proven year after year that I cant hit a breaking ball. What makes you think that success in a small sample size last year indicates that I actually have it figured out. Not many prospects succeed after they hit 28 (which is what he is).

Ben Badler
  (2:34 PM)

He's 28, which is a significant difference from 30, and that track record goes beyond last year's big league time to his last 3-4 years of mashing Triple-A pitching. Big league playing time is a scarce resource, and sometimes it's just a matter of a guy getting the opportunity to show what he can do.

Gabe (Boston, Ma)

Any chance the Red Sox see Daniel Bard in the big leagues this year?

Ben Badler
  (2:36 PM)

I think so, though his control isn't where it needs to be for them to give him the ball in high-leverage situations yet.

John (Grand Rapids)

Any scoop on the 2009 international free agent class? It has been getting around that this is one for the ages -- any Ynoa- or Yorman-esque names we should watch out for?

Ben Badler
  (2:37 PM)

I can't guarantee you when, but we'll have some stuff on a few July 2 guys and some prospects to watch from the 2008 Dominican Summer League on www.baseballamerica.com at some point in the near-ish future.

MJ (edmonton)

I'd say the only way that spring stats matter is in the case of a position battle. Because, let's face it, most managers don't know the meaning of the words "small sample size" and may be basing the position battle on spring statistics.

Ben Badler
  (2:39 PM)

Perhaps. My statement was meant that spring stats shouldn't be used to judge a player's talent level/improvement, and I don't think they should have any bearing whatsoever on a player winning a job in spring training, but in realty, sure, they might have an influence on a manager's decision-making.

Howard (Boston)

Gabby Sanchez / Logan Morrison? Who's the better prospect and are either the long term solution in FLA? Or will Cantu be at 1B and they'll move Uggla to 3B until Dominquez is ready?

Ben Badler
  (2:42 PM)

Morrison has a much higher ceiling. I saw Sanchez play at least 40-50 games last year. He's a good, cheap fill-in for the Marlins to use this year at first base, and much more disciplined and better in the field than Mike Jacobs. He's a bit on the older side for a prospect, so I don't think there's much of a gap between what he is now and what his ceiling is going forward.

Jake (Toronto)

Ben, care to join e on the Brett Cecil bandwagon? Plenty of good seats still available. One bad inning this Spring.

Ben Badler
  (2:43 PM)

I'm on it. He's No. 59 on my 100. I think some of the statistical projections are overstating what he's capable of this year because his success last year came in short stints with a strict pitch count, but I'll take a strikeout, groundball lefty with a plus fastball and a plus breaking ball.

Bob (Indy)

Rasmus vs LaPorta? In 2009 and beyond?

Ben Badler
  (2:44 PM)

Rasmus. The positional/defensive advantages are huge in his favor.

E.Nigma (NYC)

What would you estimate is a)the ceiling and b)the most probable projection for Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances? Is it #1 & most likely a closer for Brackman and #2 but most likely a midrotation starter for Betances?

Ben Badler
  (2:47 PM)

They both have high ceilings, but I prefer Brackman. Brackman's a better athlete and Betances has a combination of delivery issues and control problems that don't sit as well with me.

Edge - Arizona

Peter Gammons last week wrote a blog about Marlins prospect Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton. Can you give us your take on this guy? Thanks.

Ben Badler
  (2:50 PM)

Enormous, enormous power, legitimately might have as much power as anyone in the minor leagues and he just turned 19 years old in November. I watched Stanton play and take BP last year, and what Peter wrote about was a routine day at the park for Stanton. I am concerned about the contact issues because players who strike out as often as he did in Low-A don't tend to make very good major leaguers, but his youth, his athleticism and his power just give him incredible upside.

Goose (Chicago)

Follow up to the Brett Cecil question, do you think he could win the #5 spot out of camp or does he need a lot more seasoning?

Ben Badler
  (2:51 PM)

It's possible, but he only threw around 120 or so innings last year, so they probably want to limit his workload by keeping him in the minors to start the year.

Scott (AZ)

Tommy Hanson: How good will he be this year? His stuff is incredible.

Ben Badler
  (2:53 PM)

The command isn't there quite yet, so some early struggles wouldn't be surprising, but the stuff across the board is excellent.

Arin (ca)

Please rank Noonan, Coghlan, and Lawrie. thanks

Ben Badler
  (2:55 PM)

Coghlan, Lawrie, Noonan. That's probably not the consensus, but I really like Coghlan, who rarely swings at anything out of the strike zone and can put a charge into the ball when he does swing.

Rick Porcello

Am I the Tigers 5th starter?

Ben Badler
  (2:56 PM)

I don't think so. I wouldn't want to jump a 20-year-old pitcher from 125 to potentially 200 innings in one season.

Muchuckwagon - Columbus, Ohio

Mike Brantley has been rumored as the lead-off hitter of the future for the Tribe and is off to a good start this spring. What do you think of Brantley and could he get significant playing time this year with the Tribe?

Ben Badler
  (2:58 PM)

Some think he's a fourth outfielder, I think he's more than that. His plate discipline and ability to make contact is elite, and with his frame I could see him growing into enough power to be a good starter, albeit not fitting into the traditional slugging corner outfield profile. He'll probably spend most of this year in Triple-A, though.

Scott (AZ)

Spring training wins: Do they mean anything to you or no?

Ben Badler
  (3:00 PM)

Meaningless.

Drew (New York)

Of which top prospect are you most skeptical?

Ben Badler
  (3:01 PM)

Of our top 50-60 prospects, I'm not as high on Derek Holland, J.P. Arencibia and Greg Halman, as those last two guys are going to have huge approach/OBP issues going forward.

Tim (cincinnati)

Michael Stanton = Wily Mo Pena

Ben Badler
  (3:04 PM)

It's certainly in the probability set, but Stanton is a better athlete and did show some ability to make adjustments between the first and second halves last year.

Luis, Houston TX

So that means that there should not be any concerns at all with the Astros winning just 1 of the their spring games so far?

Ben Badler
  (3:07 PM)

There should be concerns, such as how a team that won 86 games last year despite a pythag record of being around a 77-win team and doesn't have much help from the farm system on the way, but the concern isn't because of their spring training record.

Steve, Cleveland

How many scouts are still focusing on the original 5 tools, and how many are figuring out that arm strength (also, why is arm accuracy seemingly glossed over?) and speed are worth a bit less, and something like plate discipline is huge?

Ben Badler
  (3:11 PM)

The tools are still important, but I don't think any scout weights them all equally. The arm is the least important tool, but if a guy has the athleticism and most of the tools to play SS but has a 30 arm, it means he's not going to play SS, which dings is value. Speed and other tools that affect a player's defense are still critical when evaluating amateur players because it can be the difference between a guy playing a premium position vs. having him relegated to a corner outfield position or first base. But if you're comparing two Double-A third basemen and one guy has a 70 arm and the other has a 55 arm, I don't think that's too critical relative to the other tools or skills that have a larger spread in talent.

Bryan (Springfield, MO)

Hey Ben, can James McD of LA be a #2 someday?

Ben Badler
  (3:13 PM)

Defining a guy by rotation slot is a little vague, but I do think he can be an above-average starting pitcher once he hones his command.

Matt (Chicago)

BB: Is Hoffpauir a career minor-leaguer or a 28-year old that finally "gets it?"

Ben Badler
  (3:14 PM)

A guy who just needs the opportunity to play every day.

Pedro (venezuela)

Which rookies do you think will make the bigges't impact on the majors this year?

Ben Badler
  (3:16 PM)

Wieters and Price in the AL, Rasmus and Hanson in the NL

Josh Chicago

How high are you on Poreda? Does he need another year in the minors or putting him the bullpen a smart idea?

Ben Badler
  (3:17 PM)

Most of the scouts I talk to see a future 7th- or 8th-inning guy.

Jason (Atlanta)

Who do you prefer, Lars or Smoak?

Ben Badler
  (3:19 PM)

Lars

Steve, Cleveland

I'm not sure we're on the same page, I was hoping you'd explain how scouts are adjusting to trying to measure plate discipline. And, can they do it better than the stats?

Ben Badler
  (3:23 PM)

Part of it depends on the level of competition. At the HS level, it's pretty much all what the scouts see. And in college, the spread in talent is such that some guys rack up a lot of walks because they just get pitched around. In the minors, the walk rates and strikeout-to-walk numbers have significant value, but the scouts can also tell you whether a guy is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, whether he can handle a breaking ball or a changeup, etc. I don't think the visual observations compete with the statistical record; the two complement each other to give you the best estimate of the player's true ability, and that's true for any skill, whether it's strike-zone discipline, power, etc.

Josh (Boston, Ma)

When does Matt Weiters make his debut?

Ben Badler
  (3:24 PM)

As soon as his service clock has been delayed long enough to keep him in Baltimore for an extra year.

Jeff (San Francisco)

Carlos Santana or Buster Posey?

Ben Badler
  (3:25 PM)

Posey by a hair. I had them back-to-back on my top 100.

Sean (Brockton, MA)

Where does Ynoa play this year? Will he make short season A ball?

Ben Badler
  (3:26 PM)

Either the Arizona League or the Northwest League, but I don't think it's been decided which one yet.

Ben (Lincoln, NE)

Ben, nice name. Where does Gordon Beckham's potential top out? Can he be a solid everyday major league infielder someday? And how soon might that happen?

Ben Badler
  (3:29 PM)

Thanks. I think Beckham will be an above-average regular for years, either at second base or third base. I don't think he's ready this year, but I'm not terribly good at predicting what the White Sox will do with their roster.

Brandon (Nashville, TN)

What do you think Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill would do if they both start the season in the rotation?

Ben Badler
  (3:31 PM)

I think Anderson could hold his own, while Cahill might struggle some because his control still needs improvement, though his sinker would get him out of a lot of jams with those double plays. That's just this year though. Long term they could both be stars.

mike (CHI)

Ben, What can you tell me about Jay Jackson, the "9th round steal"?

Ben Badler
  (3:33 PM)

A two-way player at Furman last year who struck out 72 guys in 50 innings in his brief pro debut last year, and backs up the numbers with good stuff in a low-90s fastball that touches 95 and a mid-80s slider.

Brandon (Nashville, TN)

How much time does Tillman need in the minors this season? Have you seen BALs rotation?

Ben Badler
  (3:34 PM)

Not quite ready. Leave him in Triple-A for half the year, evaluate how far along his command is at that point (it doesn't seem to be big league-ready yet), and make the decision from there.

Wash DC

Who are the sleeper prospects for the Nats?

Ben Badler
  (3:35 PM)

Derek Norris and Jack McGeary. Both of those guys are in the Nationals' top 10, so I don't know if that qualifies as "sleeper," but I could see both of them in the top 100 next year.

Greg (Arlington, TX)

Why are you not as high on Derek Holland as some others are?

Ben Badler
  (3:38 PM)

He throws slightly across his body, his slider is just OK and he only has about 25 innings above A-ball. Don't get me wrong, he's a solid prospect, but I'm not convinced he's a great one.

Jenn, Houston

What can you tell me about Beau Mills, it seems like he's having a nice spring?

Ben Badler
  (3:42 PM)

Big year for Mills in Double-A. Steve from Cleveland, he's an example of a guy who's racked up a lot of walks in A-ball, but who scouts say still needs to tighten his strike-zone because he's prone to chasing the high fastball and the breaking ball in the dirt. But he's a good hitter with power potential, though the Indians are log-jammed with 1B/DH types right now.

Chris (Virginia)

Ben, what is your opinion of Brian Matusz? How do you rank him with his fellow Orioles Tillman and Arrieta?

Ben Badler
  (3:44 PM)

Matusz Should be an above-average starter in the big leagues; I like his polish and his diverse repertoire of above-average pitches. Ranking them I have Tillman, small gap, Matusz, big gap, Arrieta.

Muchuckwagon (Ohio)

What are your thoughts on Aaron Cunningham? With the addition of Holliday, the A's have a crowded outfield. Will he see much playing time this year and does he have the tools to succeed long-term in the bigs?

Ben Badler
  (3:47 PM)

It's going to be tough for Cunningham to get playing time in '09, but I do think he has the potential to be an above-average big leaguer. His defense is better suited for left field than for center, but the idea that corner outfielders all have to fit into the Carlos Lee mold of a big-time slugger with little to negative defensive value is outdated. Cunningham can be a high OBP, moderate slugger, with above-average defense relative to his peers in left field. The tools don't blow anyone away, but the overall package leads me to believe he could be an above-average regular.

Ben Badler
  (3:50 PM)

That's all for today. Time for a quick meal then off to the gym, where I can only hope that the guy who yesterday was rocking the sweet mid-90s New England Patriots Sam Gash jersey is there again. Enjoy the rest of the World Honkball Classic everybody!