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Chat: Tucker Blair

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday September 10, 2014 12:00 PM ET chat session with Tucker Blair.

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Tucker Blair covers the mid-Atlantic region for the BP prospects team. Ask him about Reynaldo Lopez!

Tucker Blair: Welcome! Thanks for joining me today. I just ordered a pizza (is this a sandwich?), and am ready to talk prospects.

mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): I really like Casey Gillaspie, but the scouting report posted on BP yesterday didn't seem like much more then a James Loney style player. IS that about what you see as well?

Tucker Blair: I like Gillaspie too. Remember, a 50 OFP is not a knock on a player. In fact, that is saying a prospect is a major league starter.

Gillaspie does fall into that Loney mold for the most part, although the players are not entirely similar. Here is my report for those that missed it:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=179

Mitch (ATL): Best SS prospect in 2016?

Tucker Blair: Loaded question.

Assuming that Carlos Correa is still eligible, he is the obvious answer. My sleeper is Adalberto Mondesi. Witt's report is spot-on. I think Mondesi has a ton of growth left, and I have also seen the improvements that Witt talks about in his latest report:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=170

Jeffrey (IL): How come Steven Souza doesn't get more love from the prospect crowd? Crushed AAA and AA past two years and was recently named International League MVP.

Tucker Blair: This is a great point. Souza struggled at times, and I have heard reports that the Nats essentially sat him down and told him to push the "reset" button. It worked obviously. The tools have always been there, and I won't even lie, I like him more than prospects such as Brian Goodwin. I think Souza is a major leaguer and will contribute down the road.

Brett (Baltimore): Do you ever see Tim Berry contributing on the major league level in any capacity?

Tucker Blair: Yes, definitely a MLB talent.
My latest report on Berry:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=199

The CH has vastly improved throughout his MiLB career. It was virtually nonexistent in his early seasons in the lower minors.

Mike (New York): Can Greg Bird be the next Yankees first baseman? His power grew as the season went on, so maybe the back was fully healed up. Strikes out a little too much, but he's got a great eye and some good tools, right?

Tucker Blair: I am not as high on Bird as others. I have a report in the database waiting to be published, but here is a teaser from it:

"Bird is a first-base only type, but could show second-division skill. His approach is the best asset of his game and he could be a high OBP type, which will help play up the hit tool and power. He does not have impact tools, but can hold his own.
He just reached Double-A, and could use another year to see more advanced pitching. The approach is good, but he needs to work on keeping the swing more consistent and staying back on the slower secondary stuff."

Mike (Virginia): Is Brian Johnson's ceiling still a #4/5 starter? Seems like there are varying reviews on his projection in the rotation.

Tucker Blair: I seem to be the low man on Brian Johnson. I just did not see the FB and secondary offerings that others are reporting. I wanted to love him and see stuff similar to the numbers, but I can only go by what I see. This is the toughest part of evaluating a prospect, and a large reason why I do feel it is important to see a prospect multiple times (if possible). I see Johnson as a backend guy at best. His best skill is plus command, which is always a good thing to have.

Johnny (Colorado): Corey Seager - a top 10 prospect next season?

Tucker Blair: I think it's possible. If he shows more of his true colors at SS, and we like what we see...then sign me up. The bat is playing anywhere from all the reports I have read and the very brief viewing I have of him.

Festivus313 (Pittsburgh): Congrats on being first on the explosion of Reynaldo Lopez...How high would you place R Him on the offseason prospect rankings both for Washington and nationally? Would he be in the top 100 conversation?

Tucker Blair: Thanks, although I should note that the industry has known about Reynaldo a lot longer than I have. As always.

I think very highly of Reynaldo. He is a no doubt top 100 for me. Elite FB command along with present command and potential for plus command? That is a ridiculous combination and does not even factor in the potential average + secondary offerings. I know prospects tend to be "buzzed" too high, but this is seriously one of the best arms I watched all year. He deserves the buzz.

NatsGM (THE NatsGM Studios): Name your favorite "sleeper" Nationals prospect and your favorite Carolina League "sleeper"? Also, are you watching Reynaldo Lopez in-person tomorrow night?

Tucker Blair: I'm going to try my best to make it. Unfortunately, I am a Ravens fan and they play tomorrow. Spare me your miserable jabs and comments please. I've had enough this week.

Spencer Kieboom is a 23yo C in Low-A, but I know the Nats like him and he's a potential backup type. I think more role 4 than anything. He's under the radar because of his age, but he's not an org guy. Also, 60 grade last name.

Tommy (Tampa): Wil Myers appears dazed and confused in many of his at bats. What's your analysis of his problems and his likely future??

Tucker Blair: That's a good way of putting it. He looks uncomfortable at the plate, and is pulling out, dropping his shoulder. It has not been pretty. He looks unbalanced at the plate. I think he will end up piecing it back together somewhat, but I am lower on him than in the past. The majors is all about adjustments, and we need to see them now.

Mike (Minneapolis): Thanks for the great chats!! You guys always have thoughtful comments!! Do you think Oswaldo Arcia will become a middle of the order hitter or is he too impatient with too much swing and miss?

Tucker Blair: Thanks for reading them.

I love Arcia, although I think it's more of a reserved love. His impatience is just a part of his game. The power impact is always going to be there, but so are the whiffs. He's a good example of a player you need to take the bad with the good.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Tucker, Have you had another chance to see Giolito? Seems he really turned it on since your initial report. Any updates to your evaluation and ETA?

Tucker Blair: I did see him again, and nothing changed from my initial report. One of the best pitching prospects in the minors.

ETA is tough with him, but I fully expect him to pitch most of the year in Potomac next season, maybe they move him to Harrisburg if the training wheels are fully off. Giolito is a monster, I just hope he can keep healthy, because everyone needs an opportunity to see him in full length.

Jeffrey (New York): Rank this dominican arms Domingo German michael feliz Alex reyes and Reynaldo lopez.

Tucker Blair: 1. Reynaldo Lopez
2. Alex Reyes
3. Domingo German
4. Michael Feliz

Festivus313 (Pittsburgh): Third tier Oriole arms - Jon Keller, David Hess, and Tyler Wilson - what is the ceiling for each? Anyone with mid-rotation potential in there?

Tucker Blair: Keller - 7/8th inning RP. I think he could start, but there have been health issues two years in a row
Hess - Saw Hess with Aberdeen before he was put in rotation. I thought 50 OFP RP type, but he's apparently improved since my viewing. I need to see again before jumping to conclusions. He get's a good plane and drive on his FB, which helps a lot. Not sure how he plays against higher competition yet.
Wilson - I have seen him many times with Bowie, always thought RP. Very smart guy (wanted to be a doctor if baseball didn't work out), has good pithability, and the stuff is decent. Just think he ends up in a pen, because...well, starting in the bigs is pretty freaking difficult.

Larry (Austin): In a dynasty league (batting stats only), would you keep Francisco Mejia over Austin Hedges? It seems like Hedges' progress with the bat really stalled in AA this year.

Tucker Blair: I am really not the guy to answer this. My fantasy ability is equivalent to the taste of a pumpkin beer.

Mejia has the higher offensive ceiling, no doubt. But he's not even remotely close to the majors.

Phillyguy (Iowa): SP Aaron Nola seems to me to be low to mid rotation starter ala Mike Leake, is that fair or is there more upside?

Tucker Blair: I think that is fair. Nola is a major league pitcher, no doubt about it. However, he realistic role is more of that caliber.

I do think it is important to note that he logged a ton of innings this year, and he was still able to hold his ground at AA. He's a very talented pitcher, and I think we may be underselling him at times. I loved this selection for the Phillies. Excellent pickup for them.

Kyle (Canada): I'm 26 and the girl I thought I was going to marry broke up with me last night. Tell me something about the Blue Jays to make me feel better.

Tucker Blair: Marcus Stroman is one of the best 25U pitchers in baseball. I think he has proven to just about everyone that he is a legitimate starter. Those guys Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris are pretty good too.

Mobuto (Ghana): Thoughts on Tuivailala?

Tucker Blair: Big time arm, more of a thrower right now. Jeff has a full report on him:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=143

Chris (Baltimore): Bubba Starling's future in 2015? Does he start in Double A?

Tucker Blair: I think he needs to start in Wilmington again next season. Look, I am not going to pounce on him like everyone else...but the issues are real here. I have seen him probably 8-10 times this season, and haven't seen the same swing replicated once in any game. The athletic ability is insane, and I do think he can be better than what we see right now. But is slightly better enough? I don't think so.

Me (Lost in the Nether): Have you seen Rusney Castillo? Thoughts?

Tucker Blair: I have not seen him. My BP teammate Al Skorupa has though, and he was detailing his thoughts last night on twitter:
https://twitter.com/alskor/status/509438127207759873
https://twitter.com/alskor/status/509438448642445313

Tyler (California): Have any info on Crusito Mieses? Pitcher on the Angels DSL team having a pretty good year

Tucker Blair: Asked around about him.

Heard it's a live arm, similar to Carlos Martinez. That is all I have. Someone to keep an eye on though.

Chris (Baltimore): Does Jose Peraza have 2014 Dee Gordon upside?

Tucker Blair: I think that is the type of player Peraza is envisioned as. I didn't see it when I watched him early in the year, but it was a small sample size. The speed and hit tool are what will carry him. Dee is a rare mold nowadays.

Chris (Chi Town): Rodon - a future ace?

Tucker Blair: Aces are not made in the minors, so I can't answer that. Very good starting pitcher? Yes, I am very high on Rodon. I think he will be an impact arm in the bigs. The stuff can be filthy at times, and I saw him still filthy on arguably his worst start at college against UMD. I am a big fan of his mound presence as well. Shows that bulldog mentality, really gets into the game. Some may see it as whiny or poor gamesmanship, but I see it as a guy that hates losing. I love that type.

Bob (Arlington): Tucker, Where does Rougned Odor fit for the Rangers in 2015?? Do you think he will he become an impact hitter?? I appreciate your opinion!!

Tucker Blair: Odor is playing for the Rangers, likely at 2B. I really, really like him. I might like him more than that Professor guy. I think he has potential to become an impact bat. His numbers at age 20 are phenomenal, but it's his ability to learn and make adjustments. They are not showing in the numbers. In my viewings, I have seen them from bat to bat. It takes some time to piece altogether.

I'm watching guys in Low-A that are the same age as him and I "like" some of those guys.

Mike (Oshawa): Does Dalton Pompey project to be a division one regular? How much power do you think we could see from him especially hitting at Rogers Centre?

Tucker Blair: I am not as high on Pompey like others. I view him more of a second division type, maybe even a 4th OF.
He's playing at Rogers Centre, so tick the HR total up a notch right away. I think he can show fringe-average power.

Jim (Philadelphia): You don't think JP Crawford will be better then Mondesi as a prospect in 2016? What's Crawford's Potential?

Tucker Blair: To be honest, he slipped my mind. I think Crawford is right up there. Tim Anderson and Corey Seager are not slouches either. Mondesi is always fresh in my mind because I watched him throughout the season and he is so far under the normal age at High-A.

Crawford has potential to be an impact bat at SS. That's a first division mold. Great defense with a great hit tool. You can't ask for much more at SS.

Alex (Anaheim): Do you project Aaron Judge as a major league starter?

Tucker Blair: Judge definitely has the ability.

He's a guy that I think we really cannot truly state on that before we see him against Double-A competition. He has a few quirks at the plate that could be exposed, such as his ability to pull the hands in. Also, his ability to stay back on the good off-speed. His raw power is plus-plus and it's a sexy package. I'll be seeing a lot of him next year, and am very excited.

Shawn (Cubicle): Are the Nationals one of the more underrated farm systems? Besides having the best pitcher in the minors, they seem to have a lot of toolsy, high-upside type of guys. And they have Reynaldo Lopez.

Tucker Blair: I think they are, partially because I was able to watch Hagerstown all season.

3 impact arms in Gioltio, Lopez, Cole
Nick Pivetta and Jake Johansen have ability
Rafael Bautista, Wilmer Difo, Drew Ward

It's a nice group, and that was basically only Hagerstown. Pedro Severino is a solid defense-first C for Potomac, and they still have a few guys like Brian Goodwin, Matt Skole, etc that could potentially provide impact.

The Dude (Office): Thoughts on pumpkin/Oktoberfest beers?

Tucker Blair: Pumpkin beers are dumb. Pumpkin pie is alright, but pumpkin beer tastes like weird spices and does not replicate any form of pumpkin. I just do not understand the country's obsession with Pumpkin. This new Pumpkin Natty Light is the most disgusting abomination ever.

Oktoberfest beer is great.

The Predator (The Jungle): You can only have one on your squad: Dutch, Dillon, or Billy?

Tucker Blair: Dillon is underrated

Shawnykid23 (CT): Do you have a favorite Professor Parks story for us?

Tucker Blair: I only had one year of interactions with Parks, since I have only been on the team for a year now.
90% of interacting with him cannot be talked about publicly.

However, I do want to note that it is extremely noticeable when Parks has consumed his morning coffee. I once texted him about a prospect and he wrote an entire novel back in regards to pitching mechanics. I was not prepared for it at all, but it goes to show how much he loves the game of baseball. Goofiness aside, he is awesome.

Jake (Houston): At the risk of "scouting the stat line", were there any updated reports on how Austin Meadows looked as the WV season progressed? His Eyewitness Account wasn't great, but it was only about 10-15 games into his low-A season so hoping he improved enough to back his stats.

Tucker Blair: I know it does not seem great when a 50 is thrown on a player. But believe me, that really is a true compliment on a players' ability. Most of the players in the lower minors are 20's and 30's, so a 50 is a true standout.

I do not have much else to add, as I never saw him this season and haven't talked about him with anyone. Ethan Purser has an outstanding report on him for anyone that missed it:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=162

Festivus313 (Pittsburgh): Favorite breakout prospect candidates for 2015?

Tucker Blair: So many to choose from (i'm going to miss a ton here):

Manuel Margot - Red Sox - I think his breakout season was "technically" this season, but the natural bat to ball ability is ridiculous with him. Red Sox have a big-time talent here.

Josh Hart - Orioles - Poor numbers but the tools are all there. I expect to see more from him in the future.

Can I still choose Reynaldo Lopez?

One other guy I really liked in my brief stint: Marlins Michael Mader - live arm that is one to watch. Don't think it's top 101 worthy, but he could be a solid starter prospect.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Chris Mellen had a good write-up on Francisco Mejia today. Is he the best catching prospect behind Blake Swihart, Austin Hedges, and Jorge Alfaro?

Tucker Blair: Excellent write-up. Mellen is terrific, and people are going to begin seeing more of that down the road.

I have not seen Mejia yet, but I think he has a chance to slip in somewhere behind them.

Bill (Chicago): Kennys Vargas seems to have come from off the radar screen to being a dominant run producer. Is this just a lucky introduction to MLB or do you think he has staying power? Thanks!!

Tucker Blair: I have always liked Vargas. Looks more like a second division type to me, but I think there is staying-power here. Mellen had a very accurate report. I generally agree with him:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=125

mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): Rank these bats for me, Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforte, and Bradley Zimmer? Who has the most impact?

Tucker Blair: Schwarber
Conforto
Zimmer

Speaking only bats, I think Schwarber is going to hit the most, but Conforto and Zimmer could still be solid 2nd division types. I'm not sold on Conforto/Zimmer quite yet, I want to see against better competition before jumping to conclusions.

Tony (DC): Thoughts on Wilmer Difo?

Tucker Blair: I am being conservative on him, just because I want to see it against more polished pitching. However, there is no denying that tools are present. Speed, bat speed, seems to have a good approach. Age is currently against him, but he could be a 2-level jump type player next season.

AK (San Diego): Has Schoop's season been reassuring or concerning?

Tucker Blair: Schoop has been exactly what most thought. He's swinging and missing a ton, largely because he has trouble identifying average to plus break. Schoop has the plate discipline of an Adam Jones, but the lightning bat speed and plus raw power are excellent. His defense has solidified the middle for Baltimore, as Hardy and Schoop have been terrific. I think Schoop is a second division 2B down the road, and is largely the same type of player moving forward with 20+ HR potential but a low OBP and solid defense.

Tom (New Jersey): How good can Luis Severino be? I know some BP people think he's a reliever.

Tucker Blair: I think the Severino to the pen talk is very real. The mechanics are inconsistent, and he does have some durability concerns. I think the profile generally leans more towards bullpen than starter, but he is also only 20 and does have some time for growth. Projecting a player is tough, but I think more often than not, Severino types end in the bullpen. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule.

Tucker Blair: Sorry all, it is time to depart. Thanks for chatting today. Hopefully I see some of you in the AFL this year!


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