Discuss next week's amateur draft with BP draft expert Nick J. Faleris.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Hi everyone! Sorry for the late start; crazy morning with workers at the house. Let's talk draft...
Michael (Houston): Who do the Astros pick first? Who should they pick?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I'll dig into this question in a lot more detail over the next week, but the short answer is I believe Brady Aiken (lhp, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA)) and Carlos Rodon (lhp, NC State) fit best at the top of the board. I don't think either is an $8 MM prospect, so I'd look to draft one of those two for maybe a little over $6 MM. Aiken seems like the best fit, and I prefer him slightly, as well.
andwoo (DC): Do you think that Conforto will be somewhat similar to Swisher, maybe a little less power and higher BA?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I see the opposite. The swing is geared for pull side power and I don't love the odds of his hitting for high average with wood against advanced arm. There's good feel for the barrel, but I don't think the hand-eye coordination and bat speed will be quite enough to overcome the lack of pitch plane/swing plane overlap. I'd view him as a potential 25 home run bat that will come with a fair number of strikeouts and maybe an average hit tool (more likely slightly below). Mid-1st profile for me.
Matt (Chicago): If Rodon doesn't fall to the Cubs,does Nola offer value to them @ #4 or are they better off with Gordon or Pentecost-underslot?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Nola would be my target if I'm Chicago. I'd look to lock in a pre-draft deal if at all possible, but it might be tough if there is strong interest directly after Chicago. That's a fast moving mid-rotation arm that can start providing value next year. It's rich for Pentecost (to my mind) even on a pre-draft deal. Gordon is a worthy target, but there is so much pitching in the class and its such an organizational need I don't see the merit in using your biggest splash on another bat.
Kevin (Minnesota): Michael Gettys is better than Clint Frazier, true or false?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: False. Michael Gettys could be developed into a better player in time? True.
jbm (florida): What are your qualifications are you a scout
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I spent three drafts working as an associate scout for a national league club. Prior to that I assisted a former colleague in collegiate recruiting in the northeast. I am not a scout -- to earn that title you need to be putting in the time day in and day out as a full time endeavor. I'm very comfortable referring to myself as an evaluator, and the scouts I interact with seem to enjoy talking shop with me. That's all I got.
NatsGM (Washington DC): Nick, thanks for your terrific work on the site and for doing this chat.
Aside from Jake Stinnett, do the Terps have any players that are expected to be drafted next week?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I love doing it; thanks for reading and participating in the dialogue! Outside of Stinnett (who could go as high as the supplemental-first on a pre-draft deal) it's mostly org filler for the Terps.
Patrick (ABQ): Who do you prefer from a fantasy standpoint long-term: Jacob Gatewood or Ti'quan Forbes? Thanks, Nick!
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Forbes. Gatewood gives you big power upside, but there is immense risk -- like "Will he reach Double A?" risk. Forbes is a stud, very young for the class and he more than held his own against top competition. Athleticism and actions to stay up the middle and a broad frame that's already starting to hang additional muscle. Go get him.
MonkeyEpoxy (Amarillo): I've been doing up some reading on Sean-Reid Foley because I've seen him mocked in the general range where Texas picks. Fair to call him the prep version of Chi Chi Gonzalez? They seem awfully similar.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: There are a lot of similarities. Not bad.
Max Pentecost (Underslot City): What's my ultimate ceiling? My floor? What's my likely standing in the prospect world?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think your floor is pretty high and you ceiling is limited. To me, you look like a good first division catcher that will hit for average and produce 15 bombs a year with a good number of doubles in there. My biggest concern is how you'll hold up over 130 games or so. If you shift out from behind home to, say, second base, I think the bat still plays.
msimotes (Kalamazoo): Any chance Beede falls to the Cubs with their second overall pick?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Sure. The wildcard there is Beede's asking price. I was on hand for the Beede/Nola matchup when his draft stock was at its apex, and walked away with the same concerns I had last summer -- the stuff was top shelf but its held together with chewing gum and toothpicks. I'm not sure his best fit won't be as a shutdown closer. He could be absolutely nasty in that role.
Mike (New York): Ssome rumors said Sean Newcomb could be a top 10 pick. what were your thoughts on him?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I could see him fitting in the top ten picks. It'd surprise me if he wasn't off the board in the first half of the first round. Good power stuff; four pitches that work; inconsistent command; refinement needed in sequencing and execution. Good body/arm. Looks like a mid-rotation profile to me but he could be a really good number 3.
MNFan (Minnesota): Nick, where would put Kohl Stewart on this class? Also, did you think you were tremendously overrated on him last year?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Behind Aiken, on par with Kolek, Toussaint, Holmes, Reid-Foley. I don't think I tremendously overrated him last year -- this was the bottom line on my submitted report:
Projected position: Front-end to mid-rotation starter; raw ingredients for a future #1
Suggested draft slot: Early-1st Round; top ten overall consideration
He went around where I thought he should and his MWL performance has been about what you'd expect. I'm still on him as a front-end to mid-rotation guy, long term.
Mick (SF Bay Area): Nick, You're heading up the Giants' Draft HQ for round 1, time's up and the bespectacled gnome at the podium is calling for your pick. Whose name do you call out?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: It would obviously depend on who's available, but they are in a good spot to grab a kid that would generally be a top ten talent thanks to the depth outside the elite tier of the class. Conforto, Holmes, Toussaint, Newcomb, Reid-Foley could all make sense there.
Matt (NJ): Grant Holmes seems to be ranked 5-10 in most public sources, but generally going 10-20ish in draft projections. Is this a case of the industry liking him less than publications or a consensus top guy falling because many teams like him 2nd or 3rd best when their pick comes up? Do you see him as having #2 SP upside?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: When we ran our "Whom Would You Draft?" series at BP I picked for the Twins and grabbed Holmes at five overall (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23506). I think he suffers some because he doesn't look the part of big power arm, and there is effort in his delivery. But you can't argue with the power stuff, and he was generally sharp this spring. #2 upside is possible, sure. I might prefer him to Kolek if given the choice.
Jack (Chicago): Do you think Alex Jackson could be a catcher at the MLB level? Do you think he should be a catcher at the MLB level?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Yes, I think he has the tool set to be a good catcher at the MLB level. As for whether or not he should, I think that depends on how has bat plays. I'd certainly start him behind the plate and see how it goes. So long as he is hitting his developmental checkpoints on both sides, I leave him there. The first sign that the bat is stalling, however, I'm moving him out to right field and telling him to focus on hitting.
I guess I'm also considering where I grab him. I'm willing to take on more developmental risk with a $2.5 MM bonus than I am with a $5 MM bonus.
BigDaddy (Texas): If the Giants add some local flavor with their 1st, who do you see as the best fit between Hill, Gatewood, Ortiz, and Zimmer?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: For me, Hill is the best player out of that grouping. Should have included him in my previous Giants question! Zimmer would fit in that range from a value standpoint, and you could make a case for Ortiz there as well (though I like him a little more towards the back of the first round. Gatewood is a nice get in the second round.
Bruce (Baltimore): Nick, thanks for doing this chat. What are your thoughts on Carlos Rodon? Is he still that same guy that many thought was the next David Price prior to this season? How does some of the high pitch count games affect his draft status? Is he the top prospect for you in the draft?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Rodon is the #2 guy for me behind Brady Aiken. I don't love the pitch count issues, but I think it's a risk you can manage provided you get the right info from Rodon's camp and you've done the right background work on your analytics side. It's been an inconsistent spring, no doubt, but I have no problem envisioning him shut down after signing, taking the hill in the Arizona Fall League and absolutely wowing everyone. Part of the issue is he set an incredibly high standard for himself last summer, and is now being graded on that standard. He was never as refined as Price, and he's never been a velo monster. What you're buying is a lefty arm with an above-average fastball and one of the best breaking balls you'll see. That's plenty worthy of top three overall consideration.
Adam (Chicago): If the Cubs go pitcher at 4, and Ti'quan Forbes is there at 45, would they bite? Would he even still be there? I like his age/tools combo - could he have that bad prep state + late birthday stigma that caused Trout to fall?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I don't see any way Forbes falls out of the supplemental-first round. He'd be a great get in the second round, but more likely he's off the board somewhere in the first thirty picks.
Wesley (Oslo, norway): hey nick i was wondering what you personally think of touki tousaint vs grant holmes and what does their projectios look like 1-3starter? and how risky are those two compared to sean reid foleys consistent 3 pitch mix?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I am a huge fan of all three of those arms. In fact, those are probably my favorite three arms in the draft dating back to last summer. Reid-Foley is more refined and has easier mechanics to work with as far as making tweaks and potentially implementing new pitches (or working with the ones he already has). Toussaint's success, I think, is going to be about finding the mechanics and velo bands that work for him, and then gradually teaching him to increase his effort while maintaining those mechanics. It could be a longer road, but the upside is huge. Holmes is going to impose himself on the game, which I love. He's a competitor and he comes armed with big league stuff right now. He'll need to improve his change up and get a better feel for sequencing.
AMetsGuy (NYC): How much do you think the Mets are posturing due to being sandwiched by the two Blue Jays picks?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think you are spot on. The Jays love projectable young upside arms and will have some decisions to make as far as which players they target with their first and second picks. The Astros are in a similar situation with the Marlins jumping Houston's 2nd and 3rd picks (which limits Houston's ability to leverage those opportunities).
Bill (Bozeman): Nick, thanks for the great work on the BP site. I'm desparately hoping the Royals take a polished bat at 1/17. Who should I hope falls to them - Schwarber? Conforto? My preference is Zimmer, but I don't see him lasting that long.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Schwarber is probably your guy there. Zimmer has a better chance to hit for average than does Conforto, but I expect both to be gone by 17 (even if their skill sets fit well in that range). Derek Fisher isn't a bad option there, either, and he could really take off once he hits pro ball.
Bill (Eastern Shore): What are your qualifications as someone who people enjoy talking to?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I'm an attorney by trade, so I consider myself pretty well versed in the art of conversing. It's a varied skill set that ranges from comic relief to earnest debate, and I generally read the flow of the room pretty well. In person I carry the added benefit of always buying a good number of rounds for the group.
The Dude (Office): What is meant by someone who has a "metal-bat" swing? Do you have any strong examples of someone well known who really struggled going from a metal bat to wood bat?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Two different manifestations that basically come from the same source. The designation can refer to someone who has an inflated average or inflated power with metal, and it's generally someone who's swing relies on the lighter metal bat to compensate for bat speed or efficient swing path. Gordon Beckham sticks out in my mind -- .400 hitter in college with a swing that had little chance of impact production at the big league level.
Tim (CC): Looking back now, which was better? Buxton or Correa+McCullers?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think the question is which process yielded the better result? Still too early to tell. Both were valid takes given the composition of the class. The determining factor might be whether or not Rio Ruiz develops into anything of substance, long term. Reports have been better this year, but that's really what the Correa signing bought. You could have fit Buxton and McCullers under the soft cap.
Nick (Chicago): If Rodon and Aiken are off the board, how likely is it that the White Sox will reach past Kolek and draft Nola?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I don't get the sense Chicago would look to pop Nola over Kolek, but I would without question.
AMetsGuy (NYC): The Mets are being consistently linked with Michael Conforto, but I find myself skeptical of that. While they will not necessarily take a 4th HS position player in a row, I do believe that if they are taking a college one they would go for one they could project to be an everyday outfielder. So is Conforto actually capable of being an average left fielder or do you find it unlikely that the Mets like him as much as reported?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Conforto is definitely capable of holding down an everyday left field job and I can buy the bat as worthy of top 10 consideration. That doesn't mean the Mets are locked in on him, but it's a defensible selection.
atomic dumpling (cincinnati): Shortstop is a concern for the Reds. Inconsistent offense in the majors and lack of quality prospects in the minors. How do the shortstops in this draft look? How many decent all around (offensely and defensively) good players and how many players with just really, REALLY good bats? (your reply will be really appreciated)
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Good notes and video on the top shortstops here (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23707). It's not particularly deep at shortstop (better on the second base side). The Reds' best targets would probably be Trea Turner or Ti'quan Forbes in the first round, and someone like Cole Tucker in the second or third. Milton Ramos is an excellent defender, but probably doesn't have enough bat at present to interest you.
Bill (Bozeman): Very general question when the answer is truly different for everyone involved, but how do scouts and teams evaluate performance very close to the draft? Too much emphasis? Too little? Is helium a dangerous thing in a draft room?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Performance close to the draft is important in that your last look at someone tends to stick with you. But generally teams are making decisions via a process that includes aggregating a lot of info. Late looks are most important in clearing up concerns about whether a player is fully healthy, or if he's maintaining his stuff/velocity later into the season. At the college level there is an added bonus of seeing some smaller school guys take on the power conferences during regional action, so that can certainly help bump someone's stock.
Dan (New Mexico): What is the OFP for A.J. Reed? Likely outcome? Thanks!
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Potential everyday first baseman, first division guy. Likely outcome more second division 1B with some contact issues but good pop.
Cubsfan (Chicago): Nick, if Cubs draft Nick Gordon next week, do you think it is a reach? Most people say he can't hit, is it true?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Gordon struggled to make hard contact last summer and through the fall but has been a different guy this spring after putting on some muscle and starting to wield the barrel with more authority. It wouldn't be a reach to pop him at 4th overall, though I'd hope to save around $1 MM in cap space if I'm doing that.
edwardarthur (Illinois): Best hit tools in the draft?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Michael Chavis, Forrest Wall, Nick Gordon
Scott (Lincolnshire): How much pre-draft contract negotiation goes on for teams? I know it's frowned upon, perhaps illegal, but it would suck to for Cubs to draft someone at 4 thinking they'll get away with a 4 mil bonus and the guy says that he wants max value.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: In today's draft environment, where pool allotments are limited, there's a huge focus on figuring out how much players are looking for in order to sign. I would expect the Cubs to be quite confident with what it will take to sign their guy at 1:4.
Beyota (Florida): Who do you think might be Red Sox targets?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: A college bat and high school would make a lot of sense, but I would expect the org to be open to playing the board since there are so many different ways the make half of the first round could play out. If Derek Fisher were to make it there he'd be ideal.
Mike (Tex): If the Astros take the easy sign guy like they did with Correa, who will be their guy this season? Gordon? Do you think missing out on Buxton will factor into their decision? Thanks for the chat.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think there's a real risk of overthinking things if you (Astros) think they need to cut a deal with Gordon to save money later on. Now, kids have reportedly (from area scouts) been floating larger than expected numbers, so ultimately there's probably enough talent for you to find something worthwhile to spend it on. But there's about a $2 MM fall off from first overall to third overall, and $4 MM from first to fifth overall. THere's a chance Aiken or Rodon hold out for max value, but taking that stance means you're risking dropping to team that can't even offer you $6 MM.
That's a long way of saying Houston shouldn't have to drop too far down their board to save a good chunk of change.
Nick (Chicago): What would factor in the White Sox NOT taking Rodon if available? Is it just the potential price tag, or do they actually think Kolek is better?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Asking price, workload, inconsistent performance, less than surgical command, could all factor into not selecting Rodon. As for whether or not Kolek is better, that comes down to preference. To me he's a big power arm with a good body, relatively low mileage, and the chance to develop a plus breaking ball. There's not great present command and he doesn't yet consistently execute, so I'm struggling to see more than $3.5 MM price tag.
Shawn (Cubicle): As far as teams passing on a better player in order to get similar, but slightly lower rated player who will sign under slot (especially in the top half of the draft)- the savings is used in lower rounds, when in theory the talent is probably less and talent difference between picks is marginal, why not just take the better player in the first place even if he costs slot?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: It's probably too complicated a question to fully unwrap in a chat format, but essentially the decision as to whether or not to go under slot to shift money around comes down to opportunity. Who are your specific targets that you want to spend that extra money on and are you going to have the opportunity to draft them?
You also need the opportunity to find someone that makes sense on an under slot deal. Simply moving down your draft board and picking a name doesn't cut it, because you are sacrificing opportunity to fully flex the strength of your position. Ideally you want a profile that is lower on the board because of general industry concerns that you do not fully share. Inconsistent performance/competition, or a non-traditional profile for a particular position. That sort of thing.
Nola fits the bill for me up top; Gordon might if you believe there is going to be average power there.
Kim (PA): Do you find that clubs that employ former BP members to be more or less open to discussing shop with you all?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I've found scouts to be generally open to talking shop whenever. I try not to probe the area guys outside of general stuff, or any detailed info/opinions they want to offer up on their own. I also always offer to hold any information they give me for as long as they'd like (up to the point that info becomes public via another source). I don't care at all about breaking news first, and fully respect the fact that knowledge is power in the draft. I'm fortunate enough to interact with guys that respect my evaluative opinion on players, so I'm usually in a position to provide value-for-value, which is nice.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Who do you think the Red Sox are targeting? Is there any chance Jeff Hoffman would fall to them?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think it's unlikely at this point that Hoffman makes it all the way down to the bottom of the first round. It could happen if he decides he wants top five money in order to sign, but that's probably the only way. IF he's ready to sign and start working with an org in rehabbing his arm, I have to imagine someone is popping him before the end of the round. As far as targets, I think Boston will play the board depending on how things unfold. I think I noted some possibilities earlier on -- Derek Fisher seems like the a great fit, along with a dozen prep arms and maybe someone like Erick Fedde.
iorg34 (MN): What are the odds that one of Aiken, Rodon, Jackson are there for the Twins at 5?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: 33.72%
Dave (Chicago): You said you'd take Nola over Kolek. What's wrong with Kolek?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: There's nothing wrong with Kolek; he's just a $3.5 MM guy for me, all things considered, and I think Nola falls into the same band with much less risk and a shorter developmental horizon.
Devin (Montreal): Decent draft if the Royals went #17 Gillaspie #28 Wall #40 Gettys?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think that's too much risk for my taste with Gillaspie/Gettys.
Silverback38 (VA): What kind of comp would you have for Michael Gettys? Is Gary Brown accurate?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: No. Brown was more contact oriented with minimal pop and Gettys is the opposite. They are physically dissimilar, as well.
Shauncore (KC): What the heck ever happened to Karsten Whitson? Wasn't he a top draft prospect at one point?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Injured, TJ surgery, hasn't fully regained his feel. If he's singable he could be an upside pick along the lines of Christian Jones last year.
Mick (SF Bay Area): Nick, Hoffman was taken by the Giants in a recent mock draft. What do you think of the strategy of picking Hoffman or Fedde and signing them to an underslot bonus and then selecting more pitchers in this supposedly pitching-deep class?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: You'd have to confirm with them they are actually willing to sign under slot (around $2.6 MM for the Giants' first pick). If you can save $500K that might be enough to turn your third round pick into a second round value. But there's not tons of wiggle room for San Fran.
Silverback38 (VA): If you were to guess, who is next year's Hunter Harvey….a player that gets drafted later but explodes the following year?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Michael Kopech
Chris (Chicago): Will Sam Travis play 1b in the pros or does he have a shot at sticking at 3b?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: For me it's first base, but I've heard left field from a couple of midwest guys. Haven't heard real support for him at the hot corner.
Ringo (Strawberry Fields): Who are the best pure-bat prospects well outside of 1st round consideration?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Kind of a tough question since the best pure bets are going to be snatched up in or around the first round. I'll say Alex Blandino and Mike Papi are better hitters than their production this spring might indicate. Evan Skoug has a first round bat skewed to power, but no valuable defensive home.
Victor (Dumfries): Michael Chavis is getting a lot of publicity lately? What kind of ceiling does he have?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: All star calibre offensive producer with solid defense at third base (outside shot at second base).
Keenan (NY): Do you think a team will ever do in the draft what the Yankees or expected to do in international free agency? (i.e. take the max penalties and spend whatever they want for one year). This would make sense if it were a particularly deep/strong draft and the following one was considered week right? I mean you would have to give up two 1st rounders, but you could conceivably add the equivalent of 10-20 1st round type talents in one year, and they'd be a year or two ahead of anyone you would draft the following years. Thanks.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: The problem is you are limited by your opportunities (your slots) in the draft. On the international front you could conceivably throw money at the best players you identify. In the draft, you're limited to picking from the guys still on the board when your name comes up, and the talent pool is limited.
Jackson (Calif.): Better major league hitter when it's all said an done? Conforto, Schwarber, Reed, or Gillaspie?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Schwarber
Jason (NY): Who has the best curveball and highest pure ceiling for a pitcher in the draft? I'd be inclined to go Touki for both.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I'll co-sign.
Mike (Roanoke): Based on anything you have heard, is there a feeling that the international draft is inevitable? Also, do you think trading of draft picks will expand any time soon?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think the international draft will happen -- it's an easy give for the MLBPA. The trick will be working out the details as to who is eligible and when. Lots of options as far as timing, Will non-drafted kids be free agents? And if so will teams start working with the talent agent/trainers/buscones to keep kids hidden as long as possible? How about trading picks across drafts (first overall international pick for fourth overall Rule 4 pick)? Will be interesting to watch it all unfold.
jtschifferle (Roseville): What's the highest you would project the hit tool to be eventually for Gatewood or Gettys?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: 40 at present. Doesn't mean a dev staff can't coax out more, but I wouldn't invest large sums betting on it.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Who's the best player you've seen in person at the college level?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Anthony Rendon
LJ (Baltimore): If you're the O's, do you look for a particular player that fell due to injury and/or price tag and blow most of what little draft pool you have on that player? Or do you look for good values at each spot? The former strategy seems like a better bet to find a stud, while the latter strategy is better for finding a couple of big league contributors.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Baltimore will have very limited options. I'd bet against a stud being available at the end of the third round, but they might have a shot at one of the upside prep arms. A second round pick would have made a huge difference as far as their ability to get creative.
Jake (NC): Can Trea Turner be effective in pro-ball with that swing, or does it need a complete overall by the team that's drafting him?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think he'll need to simplify things and focus on putting the ball on the ground and working away. Closer to overhaul than working with what he has.
Tim (Ottawa): Can you give us your quick report on Michael Kopech please? Do you think the team drafting him will have to significantly alter his mechanics + delivery?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Projectable frame with athletic, firm build. Good candidate for jump in stuff. Fastball lively and up to mid-90s from a tough angle. Curve and change both flash plus. Quirky mechanics lead to inconsistent command and execution. One of largest gaps in class between present and potential profile.
GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): Doug Thorburn gave Kolek better grades than Rodon and Aiken in today's piece. He was grading two things, stability and power. You prefer Aiken (and Rodon?) over Kolek. Do you agree with Doug's assessment of those two factors, but you're plugging in additional factors? Or do you have a different take on what Doug was grading? Not trying to pit colleagues against each other. I'm just a Sox fan trying to digest as much information as possible since the odds are my team will take one of those three guys. Thanks.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Full disclosure, I haven't read Doug's article yet (though I certainly will, as should you all). If he was grading stability and power than it doesn't surprise me Kolek grades well. Power is certainly not the issue. But at present you could make a convincing argument for Kolek being essentially a one pitch pitcher that has yet to face anything resembling advanced competition for any notable period of time. Aiken and Rodon might both end up with plus-plus breaking balls to go with above-average to plus fastballs. We've seen Rodon carve up a quality Cuban National Team and Aiken has advanced feel and command of his stuff. Both could move quickly in pro ball, while Kolek is much more of an unknown.
Kolek isn't in either's class right now, though his ceiling might be higher.
Max (Queens): I'm a huge fan of Toussaint in this draft. I know the Mets have not been linked to him, but is there any chance they are just trying to trick the Blue Jays into thinking that they will go for one of the lower upside college players?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Toussaint will be in the mix for Toronto if he isn't off the board before then, so there is definitely reason for the Mets to keep their cards close if they're considering popping Touki.
JoeRandom (San Jose): Favorite bat first player in the draft?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I'm still partial to Braxton Davidson, who I think has a chance to be special. Schwarber can really hit, as can Forrest Wall, and Evan Skoug has a place in my heart as a midwest kid that has always shown well for me when I've seen him.
Mr. Must See TV (Not Anywhere Near Citi Field): If you were drafting for the Mets, would you take Michael Conforto, Trea Turner or Sean Newcomb and why?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I like Newcomb, Conforto, Turner in that order. Newcomb isn't a front-ender for me, but he has a lot of room to maneuver in that mid-rotation slotting, giving him a good shot to stick there long term. Conforto's swing carries a little too much risk for me compared to Newcomb, and Turner doesn't have a strong enough defensive profile to make up for the big hit tool questions.
Silverback38 (VA): What kind of thoughts do you have on Luis Ortiz?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Mostly flattering ones; some that border on inappropriate.
JoeRandom (San Jose): Favorite wild card bat in the draft? High risk but with immense ceiling. Jacob Gatewood?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Monte Harrison. If it develops, he could be a monster.
GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): Which team will make the first head-scratching move in the draft? And is your answer based on specific credible rumors or just a general feeling that the team's front office operates from a different world view? Thanks.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I am not sure who it's going to be, but my guess is it will come between picks 4 and 17. After that, my next guess would be somewhere at the end of day one.
AJ (Phoenix): Did something happen to Kolek? everywhere I turn I see that his "stock is slipping," but little explanation as to why.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think the media is probably catching up to the guys that have been seeing him. He's the same guy for me now that he was last August, which is still a very good draft prospect.
Jonah (Redwood): first player fron thus class to reach the bug leagues... Nick Burdi?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: That's my guess. He has the stuff to get major leaguers out right now. His arrival will probably be dictated by how many more innings he throws in June, so drafting orgs are likely hoping for quick Louisville two and out this weekend.
msimotes (Kalamazoo): If you work for the Cubs, wouldn't the whole under-slot over-slot strategy be too risky to pass up on the highest ranked players available?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: It depends on who's available. There's some bleeding in talent tiers outside of Aiken/Rodon, so there's opportunity to get some savings up top (I'd say up to $1 MM and certainly $500 K if that's the route they want to go). They could find a home for that money.
JPinPhilly (Cubicle Farm): Alex Jackson seems to be the only really exciting bat in the top ten. How high does he go? Is there a shot that he falls to the Phils at seven?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: There's a chance he falls, particularly if teams start locking into pre-draft deals. He'd be a nice get for the org at that slot. Derek Hill and Michael Chavis are two position players that probably aren't getting much top ten buzz nationally but could fit into the Phillies range from a talent standpoint, too.
Mick (SF Bay Area): Nick, The Giants pulled the biggest surprise last year by picking Arroyo. Do you see anyone being a possible surprise pick this year?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I guess it depends on how we define "surprise". The thing about this class is you can make supplemental-round arguments for players 50/60/maybe even 70 deep. I think you'll have to work to make a head scratching pick given the talent available.
JoeRandom (San Jose): best bat speed in this class?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Alex Jackson; Michael Gettys
Jon (Brandon, FL): Who do you see the Reds targeting? Their farm is full of RHP's and OF's so a Middle Infielder perhaps?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think an arm is most likely, given the names that are likely to be on the board. They could hit a prep middle infielder with their second pick.
Bryce (Hyperspace): Are Kyle Freeland's mechanics an injury risk?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: That's a question for Doug Thorburn. I think his arm action scares some folks, and teams' preferences might come down to how they interpret his medicals.
Jay Triano (BC): Can you give us an idea of what kind of slash line and production scouts who like Trea Turner might believe he's capable of at the next level. Would .275/.350/.380 with single digit home runs and 20-30 steals be a fair expectation if he meets his upside?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think it's possible, but the on-base delta seems high to me. I can't see him scaring big league arms enough to draw that many walks.
username49 (Ohio): KLaw seems to think the Indians take BPA all the way, and I agree. Who are a couple of guys expected to go top 12-15 who could fall a bit on draft day to the Tribe?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Tough question because the talent is tightly packed in that range. Michael Chavis, Sean Reid-Foley, and Kyle Schwarber seem to be good fits. Ti'Quan Forbes, Monte Harrison, Kyle Zimmer, too.
Bryan (MO.): Closest MLB comparable to Monte Harrison? Is Andrew McCutchen-lite fair?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think that's setting the bar high, but Harrison has the potential to impact the game across his full skill set, for sure.
Navin (Pasadena, CA): What are your thoughts on a guy like Patrick Connaughton who hasn't dedicated himself full-time to baseball yet? Where would you pick him?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: First, he has excellent taste in undergraduate institutions. Second, I think it comes down to how strongly he feels about devoting his efforts to developing his game on the mound. There are raw materials here to build a mid-rotation starter, but he needs to start focusing on that refinement if it's going to happen. If he convinced me he was ready to throw everything behind baseball, I'd consider taking him anywhere starting in the fourth round.
JPinPhilly (Still in the Cubicle Farm): You seem to be really high on Chavis. I've seen several mocks that have him going late in the first. In your opinion, should he be going higher? How high before it's a reach?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think he fits as a top half of the first round guy. There are a lot of those players in this class, though, and some of them are going to end up slipping. I'd think really long about letting him drop past me if I'm picking in that 10-15 range.
Schiraldi (Cypress, TX): Consensus among independent experts (you, KLaw, CCrawford, KMcDaniel) is to prefer Zimmer over Conforto in rankings. Yet virtually all the mocks, reflecting industry consensus, have Conforto going first. Any sense of what the industry is seeing differently from the independents w/r/t these two players?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Zimmer's shot at sticking in center field and overall projecatability helps. I think there's comfort in Conforto's performance from a scouting director's perspective (who's going to yell at you for drafting the Pac 12 kid with a .518 OBP and plus power?). I also think there's a bit of selective memory when it comes to Conforto's summer with USACNT (actually, that goes for Zimmer, too). Both are first round prospects but I'm not sure I grab either unless I'm drafting in the teens, and probably mid- to late-teens. But I understand the argument for bumping the draft stock of college bats, and I don't fault anyone for preferring these guys.
genehuh (LA): How does Touki Touissant compare to Taijuan Walker at the same age? Based on what I've read, it seems like he's not quite as athletic, but much more advanced.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Deeper arsenal, but I don't know about more advanced. He's a developmental project, for sure. But the progress he's made over the last 18 months is pretty impressive, and when his stuff pops it's a sight to behold.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): What am I missing on Aaron Nola? I haven't heard/seen anything on him going very high, but he seems to have a complete package with #2 upside, or am I overestimating him?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I think he's closer to a really good #3 than a #2, but I don't think you're missing anything. He throws out of a low slot, doesn't have great size, and is right handed. It's a non-traditional profile that carries job security risk if you're a decision maker in charge of investing 3/4/5 million dollars in a player. I think it's as simple as that.
sc (cali): who do you hear the tigers targeting?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: With the caveat that there are huge questions as to who will even be on the board, I think Nick Burdi is the obvious candidate with Brandon Finnegan a possibility if medicals check out.
Myrick (Charleston, SC): 1st round bats from 2013 draft or 2014?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: 2014; I like the depth at the prep ranks.
Jason (Fortworth): I haven't heard a lot about Trenton Kemp since the PG National where he was pretty impressive. What are you hearing about him? Will he be taken in a draftable round?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: I haven't heard him at all in a signing round. Seems like Fresno State is a good bet, which is a nice get for Coach Batesole.
Nick (Chicago): I haven't heard the Marlins connected to Aiken. Is it Rodon or Jackson for them?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: My guess is a lot is going to come down to bonus demands and availability. The Marlins are also in a position where they could flex their savings early with two supplemental picks and an early second round pick, meaning someone like Jackson to a pre-draft deal would make an awful lot of sense.
carltondavis (arlington, va): What's the word with Jake Bukauskas - is he going to sign, or no? Will these concerns slip his draft position well past the comp round?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: My guess is that he's singable, though he has a lot of competition for seven figures amongst high school arms. Will come down to teams' tolerance for risk associated with the profile, and whether there's anything to his being supposedly shut down as the season was winding up.
Allan (Toronto): Not a question. Just wanted to say thanks for answering our questions. You're really putting in work today.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: No worries; I'm doing a bit of multi-tasking editing down some video that's going to be added to the corner outfielder piece that just posted on the site. Going to have to bounce shortly to record audio scouting reports for MLB Radio's draft show. Thanks for hanging around!
Shawnykid23 (CT): Could Kodi Medeiros be a monster who comes out of the back-end of the 1st rd?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: Could he? Sure. Everything he throws dances, and the slider would have a case for the draft's best pitch if he could get a handle on it. There are still really big question marks as to how the stuff will look throwing more regularly, and his command/control profile is lacking at present. He's a reliever for me, but if I were a team with multiple picks in the 21-41 range I'd love the opportunity to draft him and be proven wrong!
Jon Galbunnie (San Francisco): How high do you think Jace Fry could go and what do you project is his ultimate ceiling?
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: As high as the third round; probably a back-end arm or the rare beast known as the successful two-inning lefty out of the pen.
username49 (Ohio): Thanks for the chat man. Great info. You have qualities of a Buddhist, which is weird considering your an attorney.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: My pleasure. We're going to do this again on draft day, opening stuff up around midday and just keeping things running throughout the evening. I'll be in and out but will let you guys know when those lulls are coming.
Pre-Draft Chat with Nick J. Faleris: This was a lot of fun; thanks for spending some time with me this afternoon. Don't forget to check out all the great draft content here at Baseball Prospectus and with our partners over at Perfect Game USA. @NickJFaleris on twitter or any of the comment sections on my draft articles if you have questions between now and next Thursday. Talk soon...