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Baseball America Prospects Chat

Ben Badler:
Lots of questions in here already. Let's begin. Alex (Ohio): Randy Arozarena should start at what level? High-A? And what kind of ceiling do you see on him? Ben Badler: Based on watching him play when he was still in Cuba, he’s ready for High-A, but where he will start depends on when his contract gets finalized/approved, how the Cardinals want to transition him to the United States and professional baseball, and what he’s negotiated for himself in terms of starting his career in the US this year, which has an impact on how much of his bonus he will have to give up in taxes. On talent, this is a tremendous deal for the Cardinals. He’s a quick-twitch, premium athlete who could play in the middle of the diamond and potentially hit at the top of a lineup. Better talent than Yusniel Diaz, Yaisel Sierra, Alfredo Rodriguez, Omar Estevez and a bunch of other Cuban players who got a whole bunch more money recently. JaMarcus (Chicago): What do you see as a realistic ceiling for Trent Clark? Solid everyday player or potential star? Ben Badler: I'm very high on Clark. Chance to be an above-average regular in CF. Krid (Texas): What can we expect out of Joey Gallo? The power certainly plays but can he hit enough? Where do you see his OBP settling in at in 2017 and beyond? Ben Badler: One of the few players in the game with 40-plus home run potential. He’s always going to rank among the league leaders in strikeouts, but between how hard he hits the ball and the patience he has to draw walks, even if he’s a .250 hitter he could give you a .360 OBP. When it all clicks for him at the MLB level, I don't know—it took Chris Davis until he was 26 to put it all together—but at some point I think it will, and he's going to be a monster in the middle of somebody's lineup. Alex (Chatham): Hey Ben, I know Amed Rosario has been generating a lot of hype with his fantastic 2016. Can you tell me a little bit about what you see in him and what kind of player you think he can be when he reaches the bigs? A 4 WAR/yr player doesn't seem unreasonable at all. Ben Badler: I think a 4-win player is very reasonable. Shortstop who has become a plus defender with an above-average bat for the position and the strength projection to grow into more game power down the road. There's a lot to like with Rosario already and he just keeps getting better. Proswagonist (Liberl): Do you think Lourdes will join his brother on the Astros? What kind of contract wll he command, and can he play CF? Ben Badler: I don't think so. Or, I should say, Lourdes Jr.'s signing will be completely independent of his brother's, and I don't see a great fit for Lourdes Jr. in Houston, although I suppose I didn't see a great fit for Yulieski either, so who knows, but they're not tied to each other. For me, Gurriel's best defensive spot is at third base; he's a more natural infielder than he is an outfielder, and while his speed did get a little bit better his final season in Cuba, I didn't see the outfield instincts in left field that would make me believe he could play center. Kent (Green Bay): Isan Diaz a top-100 guy by seasons end? Ben Badler: Don't know that he will make it, but I think he'll be in the discussion. I love his bat. Proswagonist (Liberl): Vladimir Gutierrez still has not signed. Is he trying to hold out for Yadier Alvarez type money or things just moving slow? Ben Badler: It's a rough market for Cuban players subject to the bonus pools right now. Ten teams can't pay more than $300K, including the usual big players like the Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs, then most teams have already committed their bonus pool money elsewhere and aren't looking to go over at this point, and even the teams that are over still have internal budgets that they have to stay within. I don't know where his price tag will end up, but that could end up being great value for somebody. Hank (MtCarmel): What's the Yankee MIF pecking order now? They have a glut of SS/2B so was it a surprise they wanted Torres over Eloy? Ben Badler: Eloy is having a breakout year, but I'd take Gleyber over him right now. Nobody ever complains about having too many shortstops. Odds are one of him or Mateo won't end up panning out, and if both of them do, that's not a bad problem to have. Mark (Stl): What can we expect if Alex Reyes makes his debut on Saturday? Ben Badler: Same thing he's done in Triple-A. Three pitches with grades anywhere from 60 to 80 on the 20-80 scale, a lot of strikeouts but walks that he'll pay for more at the major league level. Warren (New London): What can you tell me about Yankees 17 year old shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera, who's been promoted twice in the last two weeks? What happens to Wilkerman Garcia with Cabrera joining him at Pulaski? Ben Badler: Very polished, savvy player for his age with a knack for hitting, gap power, uses the whole field, very high baseball IQ and overall clock for the game. Going back to the Tricky League, he's been a consistent performer since signing, although I doubt anyone expected him to move this quickly this soon. Great sign by the Yankees for $100K. Aaron (Champaign, IL): Other than Lourdes, who's the best un-signed international prospect? Perhaps related, anyone else linked to the Cardinals at this point that would be of note? Ben Badler: Jose Miguel Fernandez is the best one, but he's been a free agent now for months and he hasn't signed. That could be a bargain for a team that steps up to sign him. For the pool-eligible players, Gutierrez and Norge Ruiz are the best ones out of Cuba now, but MLB isn't letting Ruiz sign yet. Jon (Madison, WI): Do you think Jorge Lopez can get things turned around now that they have sent him back to AA, or did Colorado Springs mess him up too much? Ben Badler: His stuff didn't look too good on the road either. I don't think it's the ballpark. Jay (GA): It seems to me that people are really down on Swanson almost solely because he hasn't completely changed the player was coming out of the draft like Bregman has. Just because he isn't hitting bombs and isn't exactly tearing up AA doesn't mean he isn't the future shortstop the next 10-15 years that the Braves can build with/around. What're your thoughts? Ben Badler: Looks like a very steady to potentially above-average everyday MLB shortstop to me with a glove that's been even better than expected. Bregman has surpassed him, but that doesn't have any impact on Swanson's future projection. Ryan Philip (Madison, WI): Chih Wei Hu looked fantastic in the futures game and has kept it going in AA. Does he have the stuff to be a mid rotation starter in the future? Ben Badler: He can be a No. 3-4 SP. Mags (WI): Is it time to start focusing more on prospect production rather than on "toolsy" guys who are athletic and can't hit a lick? Perfect example - Byron Buxton - ok minor league stats, but everyone loved the tools and rated him highly. He is now a 23 year old struggling big leager. Meanwhile guys like Story and Goldschmidt were never highly ranked overall - but all they did in the minors is rake... time to rethink the approach guys? Ben Badler: Well, let’s at least start with accurate factual information. Buxton is a .305/.385/.500 career minor league hitter (and he’s 22, not 23). Anyone giving up on him right now is being foolish. Trevor Story was a Top 100 prospect who struggled in the Cal League in 2013 and then again when he got to Double-A the next year. Goldschmidt absolutely was underrated out of the draft and early in his minor league career, but by the time he got to Double-A he was very highly-regarded; I remember ranking him the No. 3 prospect in the Southern League that season and having people tell me I was too high on him. Ed (NJ): What is the potnetial of Kohl Stewart? Is he worth stashing in a dynasty league? Ben Badler: Looks like a back-end starter if everything clicks, and for a guy who doesn't miss many bats and doesn't project to have plus command, there's risk in getting there. Cy Old (Cooperstown, duh!): Joey Gallo last night: Offspeed away, takes it to the opposite field like you're supposed to -- but it goes over the bullpen. I believe!! Ben Badler: Joey Gallo can mis-hit balls and they still can carry over the fence. He's a mutant. John (Springfield, MO): What's up Bad Ben Badler. Thanks for the chat. Does Arozarena jump Eli Alvarez for the top 2b in the system? How good could he be? Ben Badler: If Arozarena starts his career as an infielder, I would think it would be at shortstop, since I know some scouts who think he can play there (I've never seen him at SS myself so I couldn't tell you about his infield defense from that perspective). But he's immediately one of their top prospects overall and a Top 100 candidate in the near future. Ryan (Culver City, CA): Who do you want in your outfield long term, David Dahl, Clint Frazier or Austin Meadows? Ben Badler: Meadows. Those are three good prospects, but I just love Meadows' bat. Andrew (Binghamton): If you had to pick between Mickey Moniak and Kevin Maitan who do you choose and why? Ben Badler: Moniak. More polished hitter, higher probability to play a premium position, better speed/athleticism and more certainty in the evaluation because of the competition we've seen him face so far compared to Maitan. TC (NYC): Any mets prospects you like more than the average guy? why? Ben Badler: I don't know what the average guy thinks of Andres Gimenez, but he's a true shortstop who can hit with a polished approach for his age and excellent instincts for the game. Loved the signing at the time and I like it even more now. Adam (Las Vegas): Is Yanio Perez a legitimate prospect when he signs? He seems unheralded compared to his Cuban peers. Ben Badler: He's OK, not a premium guy. Tools have suddenly jumped since he left Cuba. That profile makes me a little uneasy; teams have gotten burned by that recently. Mat (NY): Lucas Giolito plus Victor Robles plus Koda Glover for Andrew Miller. Who says no? Ben Badler: The Nationals are not trading Lucas Giolito or Victor Robles for a reliever. Baron (Seattle): Is Dan Vogelbach likely to be a high OBP hitter with 20+ home runs in 2017? Ben Badler: If not right away in 2017, then at some point soon, yes. Vogelbach getting traded to an AL team was one of the least surprising moves I can think of. Tim (Los Angeles): What are your thoughts on Yadier Alvarez's debut? He up there with Reyes as the hardest throwing minor leaguer? Ben Badler: Impressive so far. Fastball has reached triple digits, which puts him in a stunningly large group of minor league pitchers who can do that these days, but he does it with a fairly free-and-easy delivery that separates him from a lot of the max-effort 100 mph guys. Matt (Denver): How do you see Luis Urias developing over the next few years? He's a young guy in A ball who seems to have very good plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills. Does he project to be a major league regular infielder? Ben Badler: Arrows keep pointing in the right direction on him. You hit on his strengths, and for a 19-year-old to be performing the way he is in High-A is impressive, even if it is a hitter's league. The rest of the tool package isn't anything flashy, but with his hands, footwork and instincts, he can be a good defender at second base. A lot of ingredients for the type of player who often gets overlooked but definitely has a chance to be an everyday guy. Drew (Nc): Sorry for another Arozarena question, but you're one of the few who knows what their talking about on him! Are we talking potential all-star ceiling with him? Ben Badler: Yes. Could very well fall short of that, but the upside is there. Ben Badler:

Lyon Richardson Shows Off Revamped Fastball

The 2018 second-rounder has experienced a jump in fastball velocity since the 2019 season.

Thanks for the questions this week. I was out last week for my first vacation in a couple of years, but I'll be back here for our regular 2 pm ET chats on Wednesdays going forward. Catch you guys then.

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