Talk prospects with Ron.
Ron Shah: I just found out I didn't make the #BPTop50, so I'm here to chat.
Chris (Baltimore): What has happened with Mark Appel? He got lit up in his return to High A. Do you expect him to be contributing to the Astros in 2015? Thanks
Ron Shah: I've taken in Mark Appel's last two starts in High-A; the one where his velocity dipped and the one on Saturday, where his velocity returned to norm. He got lit up really badly on Saturday because he kept the ball up and it looks like he may been tipping his pitches; I can't recall more than two or three uncomfortable swings.
You have to be glad the fastball velocity is back, but now you have to start being concerned and questioning why he can't find any success in High-A. I wouldn't put any timetable on him right now.
Alex (Anaheim): Is Polanco coming up any day now?
Ron Shah: Yes, El Coffee is coming up any day now. It is going to be loud. I hope you don't like decafe.
Daniel B (KY): What is R. Stephenson's trajectory? If Reds don't make some improbable run, do you think he doesn't make an appearance until next season?
Ron Shah: Regardless of the Reds success at the major league level, I don't think Stephenson is making a big league appearance this season, outside of maybe a late season cup of coffee. He needs to continue to work on his fastball command before the Reds think he's ready for the big leagues.
Chris (Baltimore): Do you think Hunter Harvey is a safer bet at this point as compared to Appel?
Ron Shah: This one is difficult to answer, which tells you all you need to know right now. But if Appel's main issue is he's tipping, then you can fix that and he becomes closer to what people thought he would be -- though I don't see a No. 1 or No. 2 starter -- but he will never hide the ball within his delivery.
Biscuits (San Jose, ca ): Hunter Renfroe a product of his environment?
Ron Shah: I don't believe that his success is because of the hitter-friendly California League. Got to figure he's going to be in Double-A soon, because I'm not sure what he's learning in High-A besides that he strike out a lot and hit a lot of home runs. Eyewitness Report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=103
Chris (California): Since the Giants can't really develop hitters, should they focus on stockpiling more pitching-- for their own team and to possibly trade-- unless there's a hitter there that you just can't pass on like Posey back in '08?
Ron Shah: Self-scouting and knowing your strengths and weaknesses at every phase of your player development, minor league teams, etc. is very important. I don't see anything wrong with the Giants putting a lot of resources in getting guys they know they can develop than betting on the opposite.
Chris (Basement in CA): Have you seen Kyle Crick this year? Why is he walking almost one batter per inning?
Future reliever for sure, right?
Ron Shah: Not in my area, but I saw him last season. Concerns as to whether he can throw strikes is legit, and I didn't see a strong feel for the changeup. Does look like his future will be as a weapon in the bullpen.
@twibnoteseric (so cal): Do you see Tyler Beede falling out of the first round?
Ron Shah: I don't have enough intel to say one way or another, but I know I wouldn't let that happen if I were a scouting director. He's got a very high talent level, but there are some slight tweaks I'd make with the delivery.
Frank the Tank (Streaking through the quad): Who is the best prospect you have laid your eyes on this year?
Ron Shah: Clearly, you don't follow me on Twitter. Brady Aiken.
Kate (nowhere exciting): Two million and travel expenses?
Ron Shah: Sign me up. No context needed here.
ddanyc (NYC): If I could ask a 2015 draft question: I know you've seen Fullerton control ace Thomas Eshelman. Will his high 80's velo keep him out of the 1st or 2nd round or is his elite command enough to merit a high round choice?
Ron Shah: Probably keeps him out of the first round; but obviously I'd like to get a better feel of the entire class first. I should note that his fellow teammate Justin Garza is also draft eligible next season and is pretty comparable right now in draft stock.
Angelo (Nebraska): How good is Corey Seager? Can he stay at SS?
Ron Shah: I'm a big fan of Corey Seager. I think he's going to be a stud. But I don't think he's sticking at shortstop for much longer. FYI: Eyewitness report coming soon.
Chase (Arizona): Who is Andrew Barbosa? How did he last until the 36th round as a 6'8 LHP? Is he a stud or just old for his league?
Ron Shah: Chase, he's 26 in High-A.
Wesley (Utah): Can a player have a plus hit tool without premium bat speed? Like Juan Pierre or Ichiro?
Ron Shah: Yes, but you need to check off several other boxes. Such as a simple, fluid swing with no unnecessary noise.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Ron, How many seasons do you see Sano, Gallo and Machado being third basemen in the bigs?
Ron Shah: Sano might be done playing third base after he hopefully gets some reps later this year. He lost a lot of developmental time with Tommy John Surgery. So, you might just move him if he isn't making great strides to get him moving along in other phases.
Machado is a shortstop playing third base; just up to the Orioles if they want him there or at shortstop.
Gallo is tough to say, but guys on the BP prospect team think he can stick there for the long-term.
jake (NJ): You said Aiken is better than anybody you have seen...that includes Correa right? He's special, but what makes him so special in your eyes?
Ron Shah: Correa would be second on my list. I haven't seen Correa too much, but he's great as well. Definitely a shortstop to me and I don't understand why there is/was talk he needs to move over to third base.
I know people that think Aiken could get out guys in the upper minors right now. He's got three pitches with command and pitchability. You don't find guys this polished or this talented at the age of 17.
Frank the Tank (Streaking through the quad): Jesse Winker: How good can the bat be?
Ron Shah: Winker is going to hit a lot. I'll let you know how much once I can get a look at him instead of reports. He just sprays the ball everywhere.
jason (NY): Any chance that the Mets might be pulling one on the Blue Jays? Basically pretending they like the lower upside college guys only to grab in and pick someone like Touki in between the Jays' picks?
Ron Shah: Definitely a chance. But Turner would finally put the "Mets lookinig to trade for a shortstop" rumors we have been hearing for the last 3 years to rest.
Lucas (NYC): What college teams are you near?
Ron Shah: UC Riverside is the closest college team. Others I can make a drive to are USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, and so on. It is a pretty good crop.
John (LA): Higher upside - Henry Owens or Braden Shipley? See either one making an ace level leap anytime soon?
Ron Shah: Braden Shipley, whom I could be seeing next week, has the higher upside by far.
Shawn (Cubicle): Where do you scout most of your games? What is your scout fetish? We know Professor loves toolsy Dominicans, and Jordan loves Ctrl/Cmd lefty's? What yours?
Ron Shah: Southern California. I've been going to a lot of amateur games this year, so I'm going to whichever game features the top talent. In regards to the minor leagues, I'm primarily at Rancho.
I love HS prep players I can dream on. Alex Jackson, Brady Aiken, and so on.
Rick (ATL): Where would Aiken rank on your prospect list if he was eligible?
Ron Shah: Towards the top. My eyewitness report will be released sometime this week; certainly before draft night.
JeffBlogwell (Houston, Tx): What the heck is wrong with Mark Appel?
Ron Shah: Might be tipping his pitches (see my Twitter feed @Rontrarian); not competing; isn't showing any pitchability right now; who the heck knows?
Chris (Phoenix): Has the industry changed in the last 10 years or so on how 1B prospects are ranked? I can remember when players like Prince and Billy Butler were coming up and they felt like they had more buzz about them as 1B prospects. Or their just haven't been that many exceptional bats at 1b in the last decade?
Ron Shah: I think all those things are true. There is a greater emphasis on versatility and finding value elsewhere besides the bat now than before. But even then, there's a ton of pressure on the bat when you draft a 1B/DH only player; so teams are rightfully scared off by using a top pick on someone like that.
johnd311 (Tucson): Do you think Marcus Stroman's last start is representative of what we will see from him for the rest of this year? Obviously he may not always be that good, but he definitely has swing and miss out pitches (ohhh that slider), and if he can keep that 95 mph heater on the outside edge to get ahead in counts it seems like he could be dangerous
Ron Shah: Yes. Like you said, he may not always be that good, one reason is because he isn't going to face the Royals every time. But he's got enough in the arsenal & elsewhere to get away with his physical limitations.
Jon (LA): Corey Seagers Potential and future position? Can he stay at short?
Ron Shah: Eyewitness report coming soon. But here's your spoiler: first division third baseman.
Shawnykid23 (CT): You don't have to say who, but anyone on the mid-season top 50 list you strongly disagree with?
Ron Shah: Not right now but I'm sure I'll disagree with some omissions rather than guys who made it. Unless Carlos Correa and Corey Seager don't make the cut.
Peter (Atlanta): What is your baseball playing experience?
Ron Shah: I didn't play college like some guys on the BP team did, but I made the Little League All-Star team in six consecutive years.
Joseph (Tallahassee): Will Correa ever hit 30 HR in the majors?
Ron Shah: I wouldn't bet against him in any phase of the game.
I'm going to make myself a sandwich and bang out some more questions. Be right back in a few minutes.
Henri (Mexico): Best way to eat an avocado?
Ron Shah: Cut it up into slices. No need to overthink it.
ahs430 (Anaheim, CA): Jason Parks just noted on his Twitter that the consensus is that Berrios should be ranked higher than Kohl Stewart at this point. Do you echo these sentiments? Are Kohl's lack of strikeouts of concern?
Ron Shah: From what I have heard, this is because of what Berrios is doing rather than what Stewart isn't. I'm fine with it.
ahs430 (Anaheim, CA): Lewis Thorpe just got promoted to Low-A. What are your thoughts here? Is this too aggressive of a move?
Ron Shah: He was in extended spring training until just now. No, it isn't "too aggressive". This is the Twins we are talking about.
nottes (MD): Maybe a stupid question, but is extended spring training mainly for players headed to short season ball?
Ron Shah: It can be that or having prospects closer to your complex to keep an eye on. It is a good place to get work in.
Kevin Brown (NY): Make a Benghazi acrostic with first round draft prospects. This isn't really a question, more a demand but do it anyway.
Ron Shah: Brady aiken
Silverback38 (VA): What are your thoughts of Gabriel Guerrero? How would he rank against other OF prospects like Tapia, N.Williams, Almora, Frazier, Josh Bell, etc?
Ron Shah: I haven't seen him, but he is absolutely a prospect and I know Chris Rodriguez likes him a lot. But you put him in with some heavy company.
Henri (Mexico): More upside: Manaea or Heaney?
Ron Shah: Sean Manaea.
Frank (Chicago): What do you think about Javier Baez's future production? I've read some articles saying he could be a "generational" type talent, but the K rate is concerning right?
Ron Shah: I wonder where you read those articles...yes, the K rate is concerning & the approach makes me question whether he ever gets there.
Henri (Mexico): What do the Red Sox do with Mookie? Is JBJ's job in jeopardy now with him getting CF reps?
Ron Shah: Prospect Wars. Bradley Jr's struggled mightily at the plate & Betts keeps on hitting while Bradley is doing the opposite of that. It might be, but the Red Sox are also running out Grady Sizemore.
Matt (Cambridge ): If you were Singleton, would you have accepted that deal? A lot of players are blasting it and I know it is probably going to be an underpay, but you have to consider, being a 1B with his profile is risky since it is 1B, not a ton of room to disappoint. Not to mention the first $10M is far more important than the next $50M. The sad fact is owners can take on that risk because they have the money and Singleton isn't the strongest case to place the "abuse of young players" argument on.
Ron Shah: Ya, probably. That's a lot of guaranteed money to turn down when you're making $40,000 a year. At the same time, you can understand why players are upset.
Joe (KS): The Royals seemed to have drafted well (at least with their first 2 picks) in 2013. Is this what's keeping Dayton Moore off the hotseat?
Ron Shah: Meanwhile, Bubba Starling...going to guess the Royals owners aren't keeping Moore because the Royals took two guys in A ball that are highly regarded in the present while they are 3 games under .500 at the major league level.
jpolinsky (NJ): If you were to redraft the 2013 draft, who would be your top 10 taken?
Ron Shah: It hasn't even been a year yet, but even then, it looks like Kris Bryant is of a different breed. Might take Hunter Refnroe higher because those tools are loud.
Steve (New Mexico): From a purely fantasy standpoint - Adalberto Mondesi or JP Crawford?
Ron Shah: JP Crawford for me.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Ron, Where would you rank Bradley among the top pitching prospects right now? Thanks!
Ron Shah: He'd still be towards the top. But when someone gets hurt, you start to hear the nitpicks. That's happening right now.
Shawn (Cubicle): If I remember correctly, what caused Trout to drop, and caused some scouts to have concerns over Buxton, was the quality of competition they faced. I've read the same with Kodi Medeiros this year. My question is, aren't scouts smart enough to focus on the actual tools and not the results? Why would level of competition matter so much? If a guy has plus-plus bat speed, wouldn't a scout be able to see that, who cares if he hits 20 HRs in Idaho or 7 in California?
Ron Shah: Not all that similar scenarios or situations between the three. No one got to see Trout because he played in a cold weather town. Buxton was regarded as the best prospect in the draft class, but some thought he was more raw as a prospect. Medeiros has electric stuff, but there are legit concerns of whether he can hold it over a start.
Competition matters because evaluating hitters is ridiculously difficult and competition they are facing matters more than the competition a pitcher is facing. No one is going to get fired for drafting Michael Conforto and his ridiculous triple slash line in a major college conference.
Rick (NJ): Are you worried about Adalberto Mondesi's struggles?
Ron Shah: No. He's 18 in High-A. If the tools start to regress, then yes.
jeffreyarkin (Bay Area): Comparative draft question. The Padres pick at the same spot (13) as last year. Can they hope to get a player with as much potential as Hunter Renfroe at that spot?
Ron Shah: Yes. But I don't have any intel as to who they are targeting. I think Jim Callis said they'd like to get Touki Toussaint, whom has a ton of potential & a ton of risk.
Mitch (Connecticut): Brady Aiken a top 5 prospect next year?
Ron Shah: No. It would be unprecedented in the prospect rankings world.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Do you think teams trying to find a guy who will sign for under slot particularly in the top 10 is overrated? I know hindsight, but would any team really pass on a Kris Bryant type talent to safe a few million early for a marginally better 3rd/4th rounder?
Ron Shah: It can be, sure, but teams don't do it for fun. It is a long process that starts immediately when "draft season" starts; you need to know who you'd target (two-sport, strong college commitments) & identify them early. I think identifying the best player then getting a deal is more important.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Who are some prospects you like significantly more/less than others on the BP prospect team?
Ron Shah: Well, I cover the same area as Chris Rodriguez, so it isn't hard to find where we disagree. I think I'm higher on Corey Seager and Hunter Renfroe than he is. Some people aren't as high on Brady Aiken as I am.
Brayan (S): So how do scouts tell the difference between bad approach and bad recognition?
Ron Shah: You can work on someone's approach, but it is so much more difficult to improve someone's pitch recognition because it is largely neurological. Look for someone that is off-balance and consistently being fooled.
jpolinsky (NJ): Thanks for answering. I was curious because JP Crawford seems like a slam dunk top10 pick now and wanted to see if you thought the same.
Ron Shah: My fault. It looks like it that way right now, yes.
NightmareRec0n (Boston): In reading Doug Thorburn's mechanical breakdowns, I got to be thinking: How do you handle mechanics? For example: Doug really like Kolek for his strong stability and power mechanics. But having good mechanics probably means he is maximizing his stuff. But a guy like Brady Aiken didn't do to well, but that also suggests with mechanical tweaks, he could throw harder and more effectively. How do you view this? Would you rather have the guy who is being efficient now or the guy who could be potentially be better with mechanical tweaks?
Ron Shah: I'm not surprised that Kolek's mechanics are graded out well. It is a power delivery. You can work with Aiken's delivery, though. He's a good enough athlete to improve it. I'm more so looking at the arm action; stride; finish -- Aiken's all good there.
To better answer your question, it depends on the athleticism of the pitcher. Aiken has great feel for his delivery and is a fluid athlete. Someone like Wyatt Strahan is just a big guy with no feel of his delivery, and it is probably unfixable because of that and a lack of athleticism. This is when you hear guys can't throw downhill. Sometimes isn't a matter of will as much as what their body allows them to do, if that makes sense.
Ike (Chicago): Pertaining to Baez,how much of it is a bad approach as opposed to just not being able to pick up spin? Is it even possible to tell the difference?
Ron Shah: It is possible to tell the difference but I haven't seen him at all so wouldn't be comfortable answering that question. But it has been talked about a ton here on BP.
Shawnykid23 (CT): True/False- Jonathan Singleton will put better rest of season numbers than Chris Carter?
Ron Shah: True.
Silverback38 (VA): Who has the better projection, Hunter Renfroe or Joey Gallo? They are the same type of player, right?
Ron Shah: They aren't the same type of player. Renfroe doesn't have the elite raw power Gallo does, but it is plus to plus-plus. Gallo definitely has the higher ceiling as a result.
Christina (Kap's apartment): Are the Giants legit or are we just playing way over our heads? I don't understand how we're this good this year without any major additions.
Ron Shah: You have a few good starters & a good bullpen. But this is surprising. I'm not sure how Vogelsong is "back" or how Timmy keeps getting away with walking 5.
Patrick (Quasimodo) (Notre Dame): Hunter Renfroe, another guy who will never hit more than 15 HR in a full major league season for the Padres because of Petco?
Ron Shah: No. He's got better raw power than anyone on that roster.
The Real Henry (Boston): Is Blake Swihart the next Buster Posey (when Posey was good)?
Ron Shah: Nope. Though he's getting a lot of love in the #BPTop50.
Jimmy (St Louis): How do you feel about David Dahl this year? Solid rebound effort? Top 25 guy next season?
Ron Shah: I think he makes the #BPTop50 here soon.
MetsFaithful5 (Syracuse): What have you heard regarding the mets and who they may take with their first pick? And what is that players outlook?
Ron Shah: Trea Turner. They have plenty of arms. I'm not a big fan of Turner at the plate, but he can stick at shortstop.
Andy (KC): Better fantasy prospect: Seager or Polanco?
Ron Shah: I'd take Polanco. He's closer, better, and he's going to get you a bunch of steals. Seems quite obvious.
Brian (Wis.): Curious what you see Almora's ceiling being? And in terms of ceiling, would you put Gabby Guerrero above him?
Ron Shah: He's got an All-Star ceiling.
Ron Shah: Alright everyone, that is all for this chat. Hopefully I didn't disappoint too much in the two hours. If I didn't get to your question, my apologies. There were a ton in the queue. I'm on Twitter @Rontrarian.