Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 6, 12:17 PM ET
Chat with Baseball America's Ben Badler

Ben Badler
  (2:00 PM)

Eight more weeks until July 2 . . .

Dan (Philly)

So Dom Brown is starting to crush the ball, what's his ceiling? And good call on him being number 1 in the Phils system.

Ben Badler
  (2:02 PM)

Ceiling is a well above-average RF in the big leagues. He's always been a selective hitter, but now he's tapping into his power potential in a league where it isn't easy to hit for power. He could be a high OBP hitter with power, with the speed and plus-plus arm strength to play above-average defense in right field in the major leagues. That's a star.

Jack (Chicago)

What position do you see Gordon Beckham ending up at and what is his ceiling? Also, how's Mike Stanton doing? Thanks

Ben Badler
  (2:04 PM)

He has the skill to play second or third base, whichever the White Sox need him to play, and be above-average to well above-average at either position. I've now talked to three scouts this year who have told me a.) how much they love Stanton and b.) how much they lament letting Stanton last to 76th overall in the 2007 draft when their teams could've taken him in the second round.

No O in the ATL (Atlanta, GA)

Ben, at what point do the Braves consider bringing up Heyward or Freeman due to their offensive struggles so far this year? Both seem to be big time power prospects and that's the Braves are lacking.

Ben Badler
  (2:05 PM)

Wow, I'm as high on Heyward and Freeman as anyone here, but they have about 100 at-bats each above low Class A. They're not close to big league ready.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

How much playing time and success do you expect Matt LaPorta to get with the Indians?

Ben Badler
  (2:08 PM)

If he starts the season well, he'll probably get regular playing time, and if not he might get eased into things as a platoon role. I don't think that's the right way to determine playing time, but it seems to be the route most managers take. If they play him every day, he's a ROY candidate, but he can still be pitched to if you can take advantage of his aggressiveness against high fastballs or with a good slider. But he has a tremendous ability to leverage the ball with his swing for plus-plus power, so there's not much margin for error for pitchers to miss.

Bill (Boston)

Maybe I'm stupid for asking, but what's significant about 7/2?

Ben Badler
  (2:10 PM)

The beginning of the international signing period, when 16-year-old prospects from outside of the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico are eligible to sign with teams, such as Michael Ynoa signing with the A's last year for $4.25 million.

Greg (CT)

I keep hearing people call for Tommy Hanson to be called up by the Braves, but will he actually help them contend this season, or just bolster some fantasy geek's roster?

Ben Badler
  (2:10 PM)

A bit of each. His stuff across the board is among the best in baseball, especially since he broke out the slider last year. The command isn't above-average and he'll probably walk a few too many guys if he's called up tomorrow, but he'll rack up the strikeouts and improve his command with time.

Matthew, Fresno Ca.

Should we be concerned about Eric Hosmer slow start in the MWL?

Ben Badler
  (2:11 PM)

The strikeouts are a little high. Sure, it's worth monitoring, but it's early.

Ben (Centerville, OH)

What sticks out more about Reds top prospect Yonder Alonso in High A this year: That he is only hitting in the mid .200's (albeit with a very very low BABIP), or that he has a very high line drive rate and is driving in more than 1 rbi per game?

Ben Badler
  (2:13 PM)

His patience, his power, his balance at the plate and ability to hit to all fields is what stands out and should make him a high-OBP, power-hitting first baseman in the big leagues.

Dan (Tulsa OK)

Is Clayton Mortenson a legit mid-rotation prospect for the Cards? After 5 starts, his opponent avg and era looks great, but the K/BB not so much.

Ben Badler
  (2:14 PM)

He looks like a 5th starter/long reliever type to me.

bart (Boston, MA)

The Red Sox have had a revolving door at shortstop since Nomar was traded. Do you think that any of the Sox minor league shortstops (Diaz, Navarro or Tejada) are good major league prospects who can take and hold the position for a few years? If so, when are they likely to arrive in the ML?

Ben Badler
  (2:15 PM)

I think Lowrie's got that job for at least a few years once he comes back. Navarro is interesting, but he's out until at least midseason, and Tejeda's bat is too far away to be counting on him for anything.

John (Arlington, VA)

Should we expect anything from the O's stable of minor league arms this season? We (o's fans) are suffering through watching that C- talent at the MLB. I guess a second part of the question - are we over-estimating Arrieta's, Tillman's, Bascom's and Matsuz's talent?

Ben Badler
  (2:16 PM)

I wouldn't count on anything for this season. Tillman's the closest and is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, but his command still needs improvement before it's worth bringing him up to Baltimore.

Steve (Erie, PA)

At what point do we see McCutchen in RF for the Pirates? He may not be ready, but he has to be better than the corpse that is Brandon Moss out there...

Ben Badler
  (2:19 PM)

I don't think it will be much longer, though I'd imagine the Pirates would put McCutchen in CF and bump Nate McLouth and his -15 glove to a corner outfield spot.

Kyle (Fort Lauderdale)

Ben, What minor league system has impressed you the most in the 1st month and what system has been the biggest disapointment?

Ben Badler
  (2:21 PM)

Off the top of my head, I'd say the Phillies: Dominic Brown, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp and Kyle Drabek have all performed well. The A's have been a little disappointing, either because guys haven't been able to get on the field or are struggling in the big leagues, though I'm not worried about Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson, and Adrian Cardenas is off to a nice start.

Jason (sacramento)

Whats your take on Jesus Guzman. Can help produce for this lack luster Giants offense?

Larry Feinberg, MA

His control is horrible, but does anyone in the minors have better "stuff" than Jeremy Jeffress?

Ben Badler
  (2:26 PM)

There are only a couple of pitchers who can throw a baseball as hard as Jeffress can, but fastball speed does not equal "stuff." There are a bunch of pitchers in the minors with better all-around stuff than Jeffress.

Ben Badler
  (2:27 PM)

Sorry guys, somehow some of my answers are getting lost in the chat today. Quick answer on Guzman: I like him, I thought he was a good sign for the Giants in the offseason, and I think he has the potential to be a useful big leaguer.

Nick(Annapolis)

Do you see Adam Jones have 30+ Homer potential, his bat speed and raw power are great and his plate discipline is getting better every day

Ben Badler
  (2:28 PM)

I could see 25-30 HRs

Chris (NYC)

Whats your take on Craig Stammen? He had a very good year at A/AA last year (1.9 ERA, 107IP, 93K:28BB) and is off to a good start at AAA this year (2.2, 11K:6BB) although he's getting hit a lot more and just turned 25. Do you think he can stick in the back of a rotation in the big leagues? Bullpen candidate? Thanks a lot

Ben Badler
  (2:29 PM)

He has a chance as a middle reliever, more of a fringy guy though. I thought someone might take a chance on him last year in the Rule 5, but he slipped through.

John - Philadelphia

Ben, How are things? Does Robert Parnell have a future in the starting rotation? He has shown good control and a plus velocity fastball. With time to develop some off speed pitches could he be a #3?

Ben Badler
  (2:29 PM)

His skill set screams reliever to me.

Matt (CA)

Why did the Twins start Revere back at Single A? He was a monster there last year.

Ben Badler
  (2:30 PM)

They moved him up one level for Low-A to High-A. He has some of the best contact skills in the minors

Chris(NJ)

Ben, At what point does plate discipline go out the window and you start adjusting to the strike zone of the umpire? Although Joba was hitting his spots last night, the majority of his called 3rd strikes were off the plate. Seems like the Sox were sticking with their gameplan instead of making adjustments.

Ben Badler
  (2:34 PM)

I'm not convinced that "adjusting to the strike zone of the umpire" is necessarily the correct play. If you have studied the data (perhaps through Pitch F/x) and can determine that a certain umpire has compiled a track record of calling strikes 2-3 inches beyond the outside corner of the plate against RH-hitters, calling strikes for all hitters a few inches above the average strike zone or whatever the tendency may be, then I can see making that adjustment if there is a large enough sample size of evidence to support a change in approach. Otherwise that's like deciding to bench a hitter against a pitcher because he's 0-for-9 lifetime against that pitcher. It's worthless information with no predictive value that only deceives you into a sense of comfort or control over the situation.

Derrick (Tulsa, OK)

Better future in SD, Hunter or Durango?

Ben Badler
  (2:35 PM)

Hunter. Durango is an extreme slap hitter.

Josh (Queens)

Ben who has the better farm system right now phillies or mets?

Ben Badler
  (2:35 PM)

Phillies

Joe: (Chicago, IL)

Who is the best prospect in the Red Sox system that most people have never heard of?

Ben Badler
  (2:37 PM)

Roman Mendez? I'm erring way on the side of "never heard of," though.

Cory: (rochester, mn)

Does the Twins orginization have any middle infielders in the minors that could develop into solid or above average MLB?

Ben Badler
  (2:38 PM)

Not that I see. Their best prospects are concentrated in the outfield.

Kevin (Livingston, NJ)

With Jarrod Parker recently promoted to AA, do you think he could get called up by the D'Backs this season similar to how Phil Hughes did when he was 20?

Ben Badler
  (2:42 PM)

Doubtful. I think Arizona will be more conservative with Parker. I'm planning to see Parker pitch this week, but right now my five-day forecast has thunderstorms here the next five days.

Jake (LA)

How much longer does Florida go with Bonifacio considering Chris Coghlan is tearing it up in New orleans?

Ben Badler
  (2:43 PM)

I would bring Coghlan up ASAP. One of the best prospects not enough people talk about (pronounced Cog-lin, by the way, if anyone was wondering).

Mike (Lake Forest, CA)

Anyone the the Dodgers minors that we should be excited about? Also, where does the Dodgers system rank compared to other clubs?

Ben Badler
  (2:46 PM)

Farm system's about middle-of-the-pack right now, though their best young talent is already in the big leagues. As long as we're throwing out prospects most fans haven't heard of, I saw the Dodgers' Double-A team for a couple of games this week. RHP Francisco Felix was surprising and could be useful in someone's bullpen.

Ben Badler
  (2:48 PM)

Not on the cusp of helping the 2009 team, but Jordan Walden and Trevor Reckling have upside, I wouldn't be surprised if LHP Will Smith had a breakout year and Fabio Martinez Mesa is a high upside Latin American arm who will probably start playing in the AZL later this summer.

Jeff (San Francisco, CA)

Any under the radar Yankee prospects we should know about?

Ben Badler
  (2:51 PM)

They have a promising young contingent of Latin American players in Eduardo Sosa, Kelvin De Leon, Arodys Vizcaino and Manny Banuelos.

Walter (Kansas City, KS)

Any concerns over Pedro Alvarez based on his inconsistent start? Are they just pitching around him and does'nt this mean that he should be promoted to get better players around him?

Ben Badler
  (2:53 PM)

Not really. He's striking out a lot but not an alarming rate, which is what we figured would happen, he's drawing walks and he's hitting for power. The BA is a little low, but I don't think there are any huge surprises or need for alarm bells from what we've seen so far.

Doug (Los Angeles, CA)

Any under the radar Indians prospects we should know about?

Ben Badler
  (2:54 PM)

I'm going to have something low Class A righthander Alex Perez up at www.baseballamerica.com tomorrow.

Nick - NJ

Did the Mets make an error in judgment by sending Marte to Low-A? He looks really over matched, 2 bb/25 k, no power, lots of errors.... should they have held him back?

Ben Badler
  (2:58 PM)

I don't think so. He dominated the GCL last year and all the reports I heard on him were positive. I'm surprised he's off to such a slow start.

Garrett (CT)

What does Austin Jackson project as at the MLB level? Bernie Williams type production to much of a stretch?

Ben Badler
  (3:03 PM)

Jackson could be an above-average starting center fielder, but Bernie Williams is a stretch. Williams was an absolute monster in his prime, a 5-win player with an OBP in the low .400s and a SLG in the low-to-mid .500s at his best.

Kevin (San Diego)

Tim Beckham through 23 games has 3 walks to 25 K's and no stolen bases and 2 homers. I was expecting more the way the scouts were hyping him up. Just a young kid off to a slow start or is there some cause for concern?

Ben Badler
  (3:08 PM)

The walks and strikeouts are concerning, but he was never labeled as a player with outstanding plate discipline or pitch recognition, so I don't think it's a huge surprise. Hard to say a 19-year-old shortstop with an OPS near .800 is off to a slow start, and given his tools and athleticism, I'll wait a little longer to see more of a track record.

Rob (Alaska)

Given his insane start, do you promote Desmond Jennings to AAA? Or leave him be to conquer the pitcher-friendly Southern League (and stay healthy, knock wood)?

Ben Badler
  (3:11 PM)

Yes, if only because the Durham Bulls play 15 minutes from our offices here at BA. Either way I think he's going to be a star, health permitting, like you said. If I were the Rays, I would consider finding a way to get Matt Joyce into the lineup. He's looked outstanding in Durham at the plate and in the field.

Drew (FL)

Ben, you talked about Coghlan as an underrated 2B prospect, what are the thoughts out there on Tony Thomas? I've always thought he was an underrated 2b prospect and he's killing AA pitching right now

Brett Wallace

What is my ceiling? And when will I get the call?

Ben Badler
  (3:16 PM)

A balanced, disciplined hitter who can hit for high average, high OBP with power, but with some of the value given back on defense. Could be up this year, though probably not a regular until at least 2010.

John: (Boston)

Daniel Bard, Nick Hagadone, Junichi Tazawa . .. 3 promising young late inning arms in the Red Sox farm system, where do you project the 3 of them???

Ben Badler
  (3:19 PM)

Bard stays in the bullpen, probably a middle reliever with the upside to pitch in high leverage situations. Too early to know how Hagadone will bounce back from Tommy John surgery, but he could fit into either the bullpen or the starting rotation if his stuff returns. Tazawa might end up being the best of all of them.

Josh (Indy)

Where does Yonder Alonso fit when he gets to the majors? Do they move Votto to the outfield?

Ben Badler
  (3:21 PM)

If they keep both, I think Votto is more likely to move to the outfield.

Kyle (FL)

Jennings or Fowler?

Ben Badler
  (3:23 PM)

Fowler slightly, but that answer probably changes to Jennings if he's healthy and on the field in August.

Andy (Chicago)

Which area is the next Venezuela in terms of new area for baseball prospects to come from?

Ben Badler
  (3:25 PM)

South Korea

Ben Badler
  (3:28 PM)

Thanks for dropping by for the Baseball America chat, and my apologies for some of the answers I submitted getting lost somewhere out there in the inter-webs. Same time next week.