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Baseball America Prospects Chat

Ben Badler:
Back at Baseball America's Boston headquarters after a fun trip to the MLB Network studios on Monday. Plenty to talk about, so let's chat. Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Is Vlad Gutierrez advanced enough as a pitcher to be in the Reds top 10 prospects? What level will he start at in 2017? Ben Badler: I would put him there. Probably looking at a Low-A or High-A assignment next season. Josh (LA): Luis Arraez having great season for twins in Cedar Rapids as 19 year old. Hit tool seem legit to you? Top 10 for Twins soon? Ben Badler: I like him as a sleeper. Doesn’t have big power, speed, arm strength or any big-time tools, but he has great bat control and hand-eye coordination to hit with the ability to use the whole field. And I think there’s going to be some sneaky power in there too once he learns to turn on pitches with more authority instead of shooting balls the opposite way. RasmusFan28 (St. Louis): Can we expect Reyes and Weaver to be in the rotation from good (next year included)? Ben Badler: They should be. If they struggle, you might see them back in Triple-A, but they both should be starters. Tom (NJ): How is Ian Happ's defence at 2B coming along? Ben Badler: Definite improvement in the second half. He’s always going to be an offensive-oriented player, but he’s shown he can handle second base. Billy (Cincinnati/Kentucky): How do you like the Reds signing of Gutierrez? Does this potentially move the Reds into the Top 5 MLB farm systems? Finally, thoughts on how this rebuild is going? Thank you. Ben Badler: I like it. Going over your bonus pool to sign Alfredo Rodriguez for a $7 million bonus isn’t something I would have done given Rodriguez’s struggles as a hitter, but if you’re already over your bonus pool, you need to get multiple years worth of talent to make it worthwhile, so adding a prospect like Gutierrez (who I like more than Rodriguez) is a good decision. Billy (MD): Tebow is 29 years old. Given what he showed yesterday, and the rust that he likely has after 11 years away, what is his ceiling? If the same tools were shown by a generic 21 year old, how good of a prospect would that player be? Ben Badler: It's hard to say what his ceiling is, He's obviously athletic and he showed he has raw power and speed, so there are at least two tools to work with, but it's hard to say what his ceiling is based on one highly-controlled showcase look. But the reality is, at 29, he's an extreme long shot. Luis (Camarillo, Ca): Do you see Johan Mieses of the Dodgers as a potential top prospect in the future and what's your take on Keibert Ruiz? Thanks Ben! Ben Badler: Can't overlook the obvious with Mieses' tools—good athlete, runs well for his size, the power ticked up this year and he has a strong arm—but he has to shorten up his swing and learn to stop chasing so many pitches off the plate. He could break out if that happens, but those are two big risk factors. Nate (Los Angeles): Will the Dodgers EVER call Jose De Leon up??? Ben Badler: Yes, and soon. He’s not on the 40-man roster yet, and with all the players the Dodgers expect/hope to come back from the 60-day DL, that’s a factor in why he hasn’t been up yet, but he’s an immediate upgrade for their rotation once they get him on the varsity team. Philip (San Diego): What is latest on Norge Ruiz/Cionel Perez? Padres in on either/both? Ben Badler: The commissioner's office STILL hasn't cleared either player to sign yet. Although if he changes his name to Norge Ruiz Gurriel, maybe MLB clears him tomorrow. Rob (DC): Robles in running to be #1 by next mid season? Don't see how he couldn't be in conversation with all the graduations coming of top 10 by then.... Ben Badler: That wouldn’t surprise me one bit. In the mix to be a top 10 prospect right now. Vince (PA): Is Robles the best potential for a 5 tool player since buxton and trout? Ben Badler: Well, there is this one guy in Double-A right now named Yoan Moncada . . . Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): Ben, You have followed a lot of Cubans who have held public workouts like Tebow's yesterday. With the caveat that workouts are not real games, how did Tebow's workout compare? Ben Badler: I wasn't at the workout, but the structure itself is pretty similar to what you would see from any showcase for a Cuban player, or even a 16-year-old Dominican kid going to a tryout. Hitters run the 60, then either take groundballs at their infield position or throw from the outfield, take BP, then often times hit against live pitching. You get a sense of a player's raw tools, but you have to see players in games (and, ideally, several games, over a long period of time) to be able to get a gauge on a player's hitting ability, instincts and overall baseball IQ. Tom (NJ): Any thoughts on Eddy Martinez's first pro season stateside? Ben Badler: He’s looked as expected. Not an impact guy, but a solid prospect for his age, probably not an everyday player. The breathless pre-signing reports from some places comparing him to superstars and elite prospects was always a source of amusement among scouts in the game. Ryan (Indy): What was Max Fried's ceiling pre-injury, and from what you've seen this year, is he still on track to reach that potential? Ben Badler: I loved him out of high school, thought he could be a frontline starter, but the medical/durability issues ding his stock significantly for me. Good fastball/curve combination, but needs to develop a better changeup, sharper command and show he can handle a starter's full workload. Christian (Portland, ME): Any reports on Juan Soto of the Nats? Impressive numbers for a 17-year-old in the GCL. Ben Badler: One of the top game hitters on the international market last year and he’s lived up to his reputation and even exceeded expectations this year. Potential plus hitter with power that continues to trend up. Ben (DC): Isan Diaz Potential? Top 10 prospect in the next couple of years? Ben Badler: I've been a big Isan Diaz fan since he was in the Pioneer League, but no, I don't see him at that level. Nigel E (Riverside Heights): So I was reading about the DSL league and was seeing all these raves about Andres Giminez so I decided to look him up. Uh .350/.470/.525 as 17 year old playing SS in first professional season. Who is this guy and how good is he. Is he gonna be a top 100 guy? Ben Badler: Yes, that would be me (and the scouts I talk to, of course) raving about Gimenez. He was our No. 2 international prospect for July 2 last year (behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.), and we have a full scouting report on him from a few months back here. Tools are mostly the same, he's as good (or better) of a hitter as a lot of scouts expected and he's shown tremendous strike-zone discipline for his age. Oliver (Boston): Brian Mundell is closing in on 60 doubles as a 22 year-old first baseman playing his home games at Asheville. 58 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs and a .322/.388/.519 slash enough to put him on the map as a legit prospect? When was the last time a pro player hit 60 doubles, and as a corollary, did his pursuit of a modern record play into the Rockies' decision to leave him at low-A? Ben Badler: It’s a good year or a guy who was a 7th-round pick, but Asheville is a tremendous park for hitters, and Mundell is hitting .271/.341/.420 in his road games. I’m skeptical until he does it at higher levels. Andy (Iowa): Any hope for Bubba Starling or Kyle Zimmer being even average major leaguers? Ben Badler: Zimmer, who knows, he just needs to stay healthy and hope the injuries don't take too much of a toll on the quality of his pitches. Starting is out of the question, but he has the stuff to be an effective reliever if he can just stay off the DL. I've always been one of the low guys on Starling. He does play good defense in center field, but the bat hasn't clicked and I wouldn't bet on that happening. Phil (Milwaukee): Do you expect corey ray and nick senzel to be quick movers through their respective systems? Is a late 2017 mlb debut for them reasonable to expect? Ben Badler: Senzel, yes, he should move quickly. That swing, strike-zone discipline and hitting approach should allow him to breeze through the minors the way Conforto and Benintendi did. Only thing is that the Reds are probably going to be terrible again next year, so there shouldn’t be any urgency to bring him up next year. Ray I don’t think will move as fast, but he should be on a typical progression for a high college draft pick and position himself to get to Milwaukee by 2018. Josh (Texas): I am curious to get your thoughts on Padres SS Ruddy Giron. After an atrocious start to the season he finally started to turn things around in Fort Wayne, resulting in a promotion to Lake Elsinore. Since then, (and I know it has only been 8 games) he is hitting .423. What do you see? Ben Badler: I’m not as high on him as others. I think the struggles over his larger body of work at Fort Wayne this year are more indicative of what to expect going forward. Tom (NJ): Along with the best stateside P prospect in the pros entering 2016 (Urias), I'm a Cubs fan and notice the Cubs' pretty productive 2015-2016 IFA crop has several Mexican talents outperforming their 18U peers in pro ball. Maybe even one or two of these guys are on a higher end track relative to other Rk level talents. All of these guys came in with minimal to no pub and for cheap too. Is this a country on the rise in the baseball world and how far behind are they a country like the DR, as far as prices, in the end? Ben Badler: Every individual player is different, but Mexican players often come into pro ball with relatively more polish than their peers from the Dominican Republic. A lot of that has to due with the difference in the youth baseball cultures in those countries, with kids in Mexico playing in a lot of organized games from a young age, then signing with Mexican League teams. There are a lot of trainer-organized leagues around the Dominican Republic that have helped bridge the gap and give kids there more baseball game experience, but that can only help so much. That’s a big part of why we see a of Mexican pitchers stand out for their control, pitchability and can often jump straight to a US complex league and have success right away, even if their raw stuff or tools aren’t as exciting as you might find in a lot of players from the Dominican Republic. Ben Badler: As for the prices, it varies. Some of those players are getting big bonuses, with the Mexican League keeping a big chunk of them and a lot of players signing in package deals too (which MLB knows, and doesn’t care about). There are advantages to signing players from a Mexican League team because only the amount that goes to the player (not the amount that goes to the Mexican League team) counts against your bonus pool, but a lot of teams don’t scout Mexico that heavily, and it’s away from their central operations in the Dominican Republic, so there’s definitely value to having a strong presence in Mexico. Ted S (Green Bay): Who are a couple of prospects who may need to leave their organization to succeed-either because they are blocked at the majors or they are scuffling and could use a change of scenery? Ben Badler: Jeimer Candelario is raking in Triple-A, but he's certainly not the Cubs' third baseman of the future with Kris Bryant ahead of him. He would be an obvious and valuable trade chip for them. And I love Austin Meadows, but that Pirates outfield isn't an easy one to break into right now. DH (SF): Who is in contention for a wild card soonest based on prospects/young talent - Braves, Reds, Brewers, Padres, or Twins? Ben Badler: Brewers. Bryan (SB): when are you gonna hop on the kopech train? Ben Badler: I'm on board. I'm not at the front pushing the pedal to, say, 105 mph, because I'm more conservative than a lot of people with pitchers who have his type of risk factors, but the stuff and the upside is obvious. Ryan (New York): What do you think the ceiling is for Dominic Smith? Ben Badler: Above-average regular. He's always had a knack for putting the bat to the ball and sound strike-zone discipline, but he's done a better job this year of adding loft to his swing and learning which pitches he can rip with authority for the power to show up with more frequency in games. Jeff (Toronto): How has Vlad Jr performed year 1 vs expectations? Thx Ben Badler: I ranked him as our No. 1 international prospect last year and loved his offensive ability at the time, but for a 17-year-old kid to skip the DSL and GCL and hit the way he is in the Appy League exceeds even what I was expecting for him. He's been a beast. Ben Badler:
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Thanks for all the questions. Arizona Fall League rosters should be coming out soon, and from everything I've heard so far, it sounds like it's going to be loaded. Talk to you all soon.

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