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Chat: Nick Faleris

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday March 28, 2013 1:00 PM ET chat session with Nick Faleris.

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Nick takes your questions about scouting, prospects, and the draft.

Nick Faleris: Hi all -- thanks a lot for stopping by. Lots of questions already in the queue so let's get started!

hoosier daddy (IN): Is ball the best high school outfielder in the draft? Better outfielder or pitcher?

Nick Faleris: Trey Ball (New Castle HS (Ind.)) is a two way standout that I like a little better in the outfield. He's incredibly talented and a surefire 1st rounder for me at this point. Still, I'd have Clint Frazier (Loganville HS (Ga.)) ahead of him, and you can make an argument for Austin Meadows (Grayson HS (Ga.)) as well. Ryan Boldt (Red Wing HS (Minn.)) is in the 1st Rd high school outfield discussion, as well.

ultrahip (Boston): Jackie Bradley Jr.:Add him to the 25 man roster, or send him to AAA so they can keep him the extra year?

Nick Faleris: Tough spot for Boston. Ideally you let JBJ chew through a little more time at the MiLB level 1) to confirm he's MLB ready, and 2) for service time purposes. That said, the AL East could be closely bunched this year, so if the org thinks JBJ is a large enough upgrade in LF, it might make sense to get him contributing on Day 1. Every game could matter this year in that division.

DeathSpeculum (FlavorCountry): where would Carlos Rodon go in this draft? tools? ceiling?

Nick Faleris: Even with some command/control issues thus far this spring, Rodon would arguably be the top collegiate arm and a 1:1 candidate. His stuff is dirty, has a nice frame and comes from the left side. If you haven't seen him throw, here he is with Team USA this summer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb8XWMCW1RA

James (Alexandria): Keeper league question. Allen Webster or Robbie Erlin for this year and next two.

Nick Faleris: Not a fantasy expert by any means, but Webster is going to get you the stats that matter and has the higher overall upside.

Shepherd (Baltimore, MD): There are certainly very few Mike Trouts. Do you think there are any Northeast high school prospects that are perhaps being undervalued?

Nick Faleris: Not northeast (MidAtlantic), but Andy McGuire (ss, James Madison HS (Va.)) was not at his best through the summer circuit and could see his stock rise this spring. Another talent from the Commonwealth, Connor Jones (lhp, Great Bridge HS (Va.)), from what I saw, didn't get enough love through the fall, but is now winning folks over in droves.

Hangdog Expression (O'do): Nick, Hunter Harvey and Connor Jones have been in the news of late, any feel for where they rank amongst the 2013 crop of arms?

Nick Faleris: Correction from my last answer, Jones is a righty -- I wrote about him last fall here at BP: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18768, including video from Jupiter.

Re; Harvey and Jones, both would likely be Day 1 or early Day 2 arms at this point, though there is still lots of time remaining in the spring. A lot will depend on what the decision makers see closer to draft day.

King Arthur (Bag o' Flour, TX): Nick, Matt Krook appears to be climbing up the 2013 charts, touching 95. Is there a comp you can throw on him, and what is his ceiling?

Nick Faleris: Krook (lhp, St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.)) was a solid arm at the Area Code Games that has seen his velo spike this spring (up 3-4 mph from the summer/fall). Solid, projection in the body and good fastball/curve combo. The questions here will be 1) maintaining the stuff throughout the spring, and 2) how strong the commitment to Oregon is on Krook's side. I'd like to see a little more track record with the jump in stuff before I threw a comp on him, but the package could be front-end quality.

Tom (Toronto): Is Appel likely to go first in the draft or do the Astors try to go for a lower prospect, like Correa from last year?

Nick Faleris: Appel will get a long, long look from the Astros. One misconception (which we'll delve into more in the new "Dissecting the Draft" series I wrote about here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20021) is that the different approaches taken by certain teams last year are tied solely to the new system. In reality, it is a combination of the new system and certain specifics relating to the composition of the draft class itself (and if some teams aren't treating it that way, they are probably losing at least a little competitive advantage to the orgs that are).

Andy (pasadena, CA): hey Nick - what are your thoughts on teams who keep players who did well in big league camp in the minors? i'm referring to guys like Baez with the Cubs, Puig with the Dodgers, Yelich & marlins, Rondon & Tigers, Profar & Rangers,etc.

Nick Faleris: It's a case-by-case analysis for each org, and I tend to defer to the decision makers with a deeper understanding of the players we are discussing. Generally speaking, I like developing players to continue to develop. The key to the analysis, to my mind, is how to best facilitate that development. That means balancing team need with creating an environment that best facilitates the growth of your players (which are your most important assets). Taking Profar as an example, I believe him to undoubtedly be ready to tackle MLB pitching every day. But I'd rather see him logging regular at bats than playing 3 times a week in Arlington.

Jeff (NPR FL): Is the new CBA having an effect on HS prospects that would have been overslot candidates going to college instead?

Nick Faleris: Too soon to tell with just one draft under our belt, but at the outset of the new CBA I thought (and still maintain) that the ultimate impact would likely be negligible.

Tim (Toronto): Which team does Jonathan Gray go to?

Nick Faleris: Right now, somewhere in the Top 10, and maybe ultimately in the Top5. It's early-1st Round stuff and even though the command lags behind the control, there's a lot to work with. He throws with some effort, and the jump in stuff is relatively new, so evaluators are still left to figure out exactly what the ultimate profile looks like.

mike (bahfiston): Is Colan Moran still a top 10 pick in the draft?

Nick Faleris: Was never a top 10 pick for me -- wouldn't consider him one right now. Wrote him up pre-season here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19021 with video. As a general matter, I'm wary of "pure hit tool" guys as early first rounders.

bechtudo (Knoxville, TN): I try to understand the PECOTA approach since a few weeks now and with all my drafts in the books I wondered when I compare the PECOTA list with the draft tools offered on the web how potential new-comers (prospects) always fall short on the PECOTA list. Anybody who can help me to understand this better? Any comment would be appreciated. regards Udo

Nick Faleris: I reached out to a colleague at BP for an answer here (as it's a bit left of my comfort zone). Here's what he said:

"In general, I think a lot of this is due to overly high expectations from rookie players by most, and the fact that a good projection is going to take into account a statistical expectation, not a "best case" (or even "above average") scenario. It's easy to remember the Amazing Mike Trout season, and Bryce Harper's very good season. But entering 2012, I thought catchers Mesoraco and Lavarnway would do quite well. Many thought guys like Yonder Alonso, Chris Parmelee, and (especially) Jesus Montero would do well. And even guys like Nieuwenhuis, Pastornicky, and Lombardozzi had reasonably adequate expectations from many. The really deceptive aspect of projecting rookies is that if they aren't good, they often get demoted, so their struggles aren't showcased, while the ones who do well get to keep playing and everyone notices, so there's a perception bias with regards to how well rookies actually did."

Hope that helps!

King Arthur (Bag o' Flour, TX): Casey Gillaspie is quietly having a big year for Wichita State -- what kind of prospect is he? Thanks!

Nick Faleris: Gillaspie is a 2014 draft eligible with a nice offensive profile but is limited to 1b/dh as a pro. He'll need to hit over the next 15 months, and especially this summer on the Cape (he'll be with Falmouth). He showed well last summer in the Northwoods League, which is probably the second toughest summer collegiate league behind the Cape.

Kevin (MN): Nick, what is your thoughts on Byron Buxton? Can you compare Frazier to Buxton? Thanks!

Nick Faleris: Buxton is a huge upside guy with a "best in the game" type of profile is everything clicks. There's potential for power, average and above-average defense and arm strength in center field (to go along with big time speed in the field and on the bases). The catch is that, like many high school draftees, he's still in the early stages of development.

Frazier is a big time talent in his own right, but just isn't at Buxton's level as an athlete. That said, Frazier may be more adept at getting play out of his present tools and has the potential to be a a less physical, but likewise impactful talent. Frazier is relatively new to the outfield, so he gets dinged some for his defense, but there's a chance he sticks in center and could equal or surpass Buxton's offensive output.

Steve (New York, NY): What is the likelihood of a college player getting drafted even if the team around him has a poor record?

Nick Faleris: Team record won't impact a player's draft status. It's easier for evaluators to see players on more prominent teams (primarily because they can double up on players they scout with other players of interest on the team), but scouts have to see and write-up all their guys -- even the guys out of the way or on less than stellar teams.

Shepherd (Baltimore, MD): Back in 2008, you wrote a wonderful piece for Camden Depot on Gordon Beckham and suggested that the hitch in his swing would make his transition to a wooden bat difficult. After brief initial success, he has struggled. Did you hit that projection right or was it something else that caused him to peter out so far?

Nick Faleris: Thanks for the kind words. Beckham's issues have stemmed in large part from some of the issues I questioned at the time of the draft, but I could have just as easily missed on that one (to be honest). The bat speed is very good, and ultimately if he had been able to more successfully make adjustments to the way MLB pitchers attack him, that bat speed could have been enough to overcome the length in the swing. When scouting for the draft, it's really a matter of highlighting potential issues and giving a best guess as to how much those issues will restrict the ultimate profile. Beckham's issues weren't tough to spot, and he probably went right around where he should have given that draft class.

Sweet Lou (Pittsburgh): Hi Nick, bench players: veterans or prospects? Any point suffering over the Bucs bench using Inge, John MacD, JGomez, etc instead of some of their younger guys? Or does the end of the bench debate just not matter much?

Nick Faleris: Team preference, and this ties into the earlier question about keeping prospects in the minors or promoting to the bench. Orgs are going to be concerned with running out the best 25 man they can if they are contending, but there are always going to be developmental and business matters that complicate the picture a little as relates to the top prospects. Regarding Pittsburgh, I wouldn't sweat it.

Dexter (South Bend, IN): I saw a tweet this fall regarding a pitcher from Milwaukee throwing 97mph. Any update on Josh Uhen this spring?

Nick Faleris: Haha....a little needling from an area guy....I'll be sitting on Uhen April/May once it warms up some in Milwaukee. From what I've heard thus far this spring he's missing bats but has been scattershot in approach and the breaking ball still isn't back post-TJ surgery. Looking forward to seeing a lot of him over the next couple months (as I'm sure are you).

For those not familiar with Uhen, here's the write-up from Scout Day where Uhen sat 95-6 and bumped 97: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18702

webberoo11 (Las Vegas): Who is this years biggest signability case?

Nick Faleris: Still too early, plus many agents are coming to terms with the fact that it might not be best to threaten large bonus demands early on in the process under the new system.

Tito (Bo Sox Nation): J.Bradley, I like him, but don't see a top-level OF/prospect. What's your opinion or comparison to what he may become?

Nick Faleris: I love JBJ and see him as a first division starter (playoff team). He'll play excellent defense and his hit tool is above average. With the Monster in left, he's going to ping a lot of doubles and his home run totals could be higher than we'd otherwise project. Boston got a steal considering draft slot. One of my favorite overall draft selections in the last three years or so.

Paul (New Castle, IN): Do you see a lot of college seniors getting drafted in rounds 5 -10 again, similar to last year, as a way for teams to save money? Have you heard anything on college senior Jimmy Risi of Butler? Hitting .345 with 5 HR, 11 2B, 22 RBI and is excellent defensive first baseman.

Nick Faleris: I think teams will continue to employee that strategy so long as it makes sense to do so (if by "save money" you mean save on that slot allotment in order to utilize elsewhere in the draft). I'm not on Risi yet, but check with Kendall Rogers at Perfect Game ( @KendallRogersPG on Twitter). I'm sure he has some good stuff.

Tyler Skulina (Kent, OH): Where do you think I am likely to be drafted at this year?

Nick Faleris: Right now we are giving you a pass on the early season inconsistencies and will bear down when it warms up some. Top three rounds type of talent entering the spring -- need to see a little more precision and continuity in execution to stay there, though!

William (Pensacola, FL): Does Dylan Covey get selected this year within the first 50 picks ?

Nick Faleris: Not for me, but it only takes one team and a lot can happen with the extra picks teams have. A little too imprecise with his stuff and too hittable.

mike (bahfiston): Are Appel and Manaea locks for 1 and 2 at this point?

Nick Faleris: No, but they continue to be in the discussion. I have been lighter on Manaea than most, and I know my opinion isn't unique among area scouts in the region. But a decision this high up is in many cases divorced from the foot soldiers, and a whole lot of top level evaluators saw Manaea really good on the Cape.

Likewise, Appel turned some heads with back-to-back shutdown performances earlier this spring (after a really, really bad start that Jason Cole, Kendall Rogers and I took in down at Rice). He checks off most of the boxes for a front-end, top-of-the-draft kind of arm, but I'm still waiting to make sure those Fresno/Texas starts are going to be the new baseline, and were not just a couple of one-offs against struggling offenses.

Klochner (MN): Jackie Bradley and Aaron Hicks. Who has a bigger impact this year and long term?

Nick Faleris: Different skill sets -- Hicks is more physical and profiles as a speed/power guy. Bradley is a bit more instinctual, with the game coming to him a little easier, profiling as an OBP over SLG offensive player. I'd say pick'em, but Bradley is probably a safer bet with a slightly lower ceiling.

Matt (NJ): Hey Nick, was wondering if you've seen Jonathan Gray yet and what you thought of him? I read about the UCLA coaches comparing him to Cole and was curious if the comp holds any weight for you? Also, is the conditioning a major concern?

Nick Faleris: I've seen two of Gray's starts via HD game tape, but not in person yet. The plan was to see him against Oklahoma St., but it looks like I might have a newborn on my hands almost that exact weekend, so I am going to see what alternate plans I can make (maybe in tournament play later on). If you aren't already, follow Jason Cole (@LoneStarDugout) on twitter, who is a member of the BP Prospect Team and will be seeing Gray live against Baylor in the coming weeks.

As for the Cole comp, it isn't appropriate. Both throw hard and have good sliders, but Cole's changeup was well ahead of where Gray currently sits, and Cole also mixed a cut variation on his slider for a different look. I might go along with Junior Gray is on par with Sophomore Cole, but even that isn't really great. The biggest concern evaluators will have with Gray is figuring out how much of the new look is long term sustainable, which means lots of peaks between now and draft day.

dangor (New Jersey): I live in a North Jersey town and got to see a high-school lefty pitcher named Rob Kaminsky out of St. Joseph's High School in Englewood Cliffs. There were no less than 25 scouts in the stands for a scrimmage. Have you heard any buzz on him?

Nick Faleris: Kaminsky is an undersized arm with big velo and a plus breaker. Chance to be a Day 1 arm, fitting into the back end of the first or in the supplemental-first. He's a UNC commit, and the Heels are always a tough school to pry HS players from. I wrote him up earlier this year at BP with video here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18806

NOTE: the draft software isn't really conducive to posting video (my mistake) so I'll throw some new draft vids up on Twitter this afternoon/evening and, of course, the new draft pieces here at BP will be loaded with them.

Kyle (MN): Mets top arm of the future: Harvey or Wheeler? Respective ceilings?

Nick Faleris: Wheeler ahead of Harvey. Wheeler is a #1/#2 for me, Harvey a step behind as a potential #2/#3. I was big on Harvey at draft time, ranking him 5th or 6th overall, so I'm happy to see him succeed thus far. But Wheeler has a little louder stuff and he continues to get better.

Max T. (Bensenville, Illinois): NF - Thanx for taking our questions! Indiana University is doing very well this year, despite not having a true star player. Do they have any top draft prospects this year?

Nick Faleris: My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by. No top draft prospects at IU this year, but I did get a text from an area scout this weekend watching IU stating he thought they were a potential Omaha team.

Steve (IL): How soon do you see Rondon called back up to the majors?

Nick Faleris: I don't know there will be a big rush to bring him up. So long as the Tigers are handling the late innings alright, he'd have to be pretty dirty to force the issue. I'd look for at least a few months on the farm barring a great start by Rondon and ugly week or two from the Tigers committee of closers.

Dale (Rocky Mountain High): D.Dahl - I hear great things await, but then I hear people pumping the brakes as well. What you project from Dahl upon arriving, & how soon does he arrive? 2014? 2015?

Nick Faleris: In our Rockies Top 10 Prospects piece (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18880) we set 2015 as the estimate for arrival, which I think is reasonable considering his current skill set and plot on the developmental curve. The answer to your question is probably "both", since this is a classic case of ceiling and probability needing to both be kept in context. Be really excited, and really cautious. The future is potentially bright with average or better tools across the board, but he needs reps in order to learn to apply his skills to the game at advanced levels.

Han (Boston): Any chance Clint Frazier falls to the Sox?

Nick Faleris: Sure, though he wouldn't if I were drafting for any of the teams ahead of Boston (assuming Sox is "Red Sox" -- I'm guessing based on your location).

If anyone hasn't seen it yet, here is vid of a monster home run Frazier hit in front of what was probably 70+ evaluators a little over a week ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMyruaBcjCA The field has a relatively short fence in left, then some grass, a road, grass and a tree line. Clint's home run went into the tree line...

MC Hammer (Oakland): A.Russell - I can't wait til' he arrives in the bigs. Do you think he has a shot as starting SS in 2014 with a solid minor league season this year?

Nick Faleris: Starting the season at short in 2014 seams aggressive, but Oakland isn't shy about being aggressive. I think he could mash in the Cali League, so I'm fine with the idea of him reaching Double A mid-summer and putting himself in position for a call-up at some point in 2014. Just not sure breaking camp with the A's will happen. Big time talent though.

webberoo11 (Las Vegas): I know its early, but who are some names who could highlight rnd 2?

Nick Faleris: Lots of names that could go later on Day 1 or drop to 3rd or 4th Round depending on the rest of the spring. I'd look to guys like Jagielo (3b/of, Notre Dame), Windle (lhp, Minnesota), Ciuffo (c, Lexington HS (S.C.)), JaCoby Jones (of/2b, LSU), Marco Gonzalez (lhp, Gonzaga), Hunter Renfroe (of/c, Mississippi St.), Chris Okey (c, Eustis HS(Fla.)) and Chad Pinder (3b/ss, VaTech).

swim (dc): Any ACC prospects to keep an eye out for in this years draft?

Nick Faleris: UNC's Emanuel (lhp) and Moran (3b); GaTech's Palka (of/1b), Farmer (rhp), and Thomas (of).

Bill (New Mexico): What's Michael Wacha's ceiling, and how soon does he arrive in the bigs?

Nick Faleris: Number 3 starter on a playoff team; could be ready this year (opportunity might be the impediment there).

Quintin (Indianapolis): Hi Nick - Are there any "sleepers" (high school or college) in the Midwest who may go in the top 10 rounds of this year's draft?

Nick Faleris: Corey Ray (of, Simeon HS (Chicago)) was sort of an after thought for me this summer -- projecting as a 4th OF type. He got a little stronger this winter, and a really good spring could put him in the top 10 rounds. Here's recent video I took: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tumcUp-Xq2w

Ryne Stanek (Top 10): Why do you keep saying my stock is falling?! Top 10; book it!

Nick Faleris: Stanek has struggled early on, but that is not always a draft stock killer. When I am evaluating college arms I have two variables that get dropped into the equation. The first is scouting -- Stanek has been shy of his more dominant showings I've witnessed over the past 12 months.

The second deals with certain objective measures of performance/production, which have also been down from last year (and in comparison to similarly tiered college arms in the draft class). The result is a preliminary softening of my pre-season stance, which was that Stanek was the top college arm in the draft. Still lots of time to right the ship, but I'd like to see him get cracking right away.

Cory (St. Paul, MN): Who do you see as realistic options for the Twins at #4? I'm warming to the idea of a catcher, but pitching is obviously always a good thing to add.

Nick Faleris: One of the college arms: Manaea/Appel/Gray/Stanek/etc.
Prep bat: Frazier/Denney (c, Yukon HS (Okla.))
If picking today, I'd probably be looking at those six. The Twins are realistically probably starting to ween down to around 12-15 targets.

AJ (Phoenix): Marcus Stroman. You see him long-term as a SP or RP. While IP is one of the most undervalues stats, it's hard to value someone who has a [reported] Kimbrelesque upside as a closer, no?

Nick Faleris: Reliever for me -- I don't see him as the next Kimbrel (though I applaud the cross-race comp). Kimbrel's stuff is just louder.

Marissa (TX): Zack Wheeler: top prospect to be called up Juneish? How do you see him fairing in the big leagues this year?

Nick Faleris: He could be ready before then -- I think he'll probably take some lumps, but the stuff is so good he could hit the ground running and I wouldn't be shocked.

Shepherd (Baltimore, MD): Do you think it is ever a good idea to draft a relief pitcher to contribute immediately to the MLB bullpen?

Nick Faleris: Sure, depending on the other options available and the particulars of the player. I thought Stroman made a lot of sense where the Jays popped him and he probably could have held his own with the Big Club last year.

Nick (The Woodlands): HS Soph Chris Andritsos looks like a monster prospect- what do you know about him and are we looking at the beginnings of Bryce Harper II?

Nick Faleris: Very good prospect; not Bryce Harper.

webberoo11 (Las Vegas): What does Mark Appeal have to sign for to keep the Astros from taking Gray/Frazier/Meadows?

Nick Faleris: Honestly, I think if he throws well money isn't likely to be the determining factor. Not sure the "sign someone for less up top" approach is the best to take in this draft class.

Nick Faleris: Okay, I have to run to another engagement. Next time we'll take the full afternoon. Thanks for all of your interest today and sorry I couldn't get to all the great questions. Also, thanks for your support of Jason Parks and the BP Prospect Team this off-season. We're gearing-up for the season and hope you are too! Make sure you're following the crew on twitter: @ProfessorParks @NickJFaleris @LoneStarDugout @ChrisMellen @ProspectMark @ZachMort


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