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Chat: Tucker Blair

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday November 28, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Tucker Blair.

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Tucker Blair is thankful for your questions!

Tucker Blair: Happy day after Thanksgiving! I hope you are recovering from our gluttonous holiday, but now it's time to fill up on some baseball.

Pete (Detroit): Did Steve Moya's performance in the AFL affect your perspective on him? I'm assuming no, seeing as he struck out almost 30% of the time, but as I Tigers fan I'm searching for reasons to be optimistic.

Tucker Blair: Nothing changed my perspective from Moya's time in the AFL. He looks like the same player I have always seen. What is his plan at the plate? The raw power is elite, but I fail to see him ever making consistent adjustments. On another note, I talked to multiple scouts that saw him in the AFL, and none of them were gleaming with confidence on his future. It's a difficult profile to envision providing impact at the highest level, but I do think he can still provide some value. It's just more of a reserve/bench/2nd div mold than a truly impactful power bat.

Matt (Chicago): If the Cubs miss out on Lester, which is a decent possibility, which two of the "2nd tier" guys make the most sense for them, balancing reliability with upside?

Tucker Blair: If they do miss out on Lester, there are quite a few pitchers that could help solidify a spot in the rotation. I would look into Brandon McCarthy or Jason Hammel. They are not impact arms, but valuable backend guys that can provide needs for a young club in desperation of innings. As we have seen just this past season, they have the potential to provide more value than what they were signed for. Ryan Parker and I have you covered on scouting reports for the two:

McCarthy: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25005
Hammel: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=24985

Dutch (Springfield): Have your expectations for what kind of player Hunter Renfroe can become changed since his performance in the AFL?

Tucker Blair: I thought Renfroe was impressive in my viewing in the AFL. The power is certainly his best tool, and while the swing has some quirks (hard land on front foot, really torques a lot and can get a little violent, might affect him against sharper secondary offerings), I think he will make enough contact to provide value. His batting practice was fun to watch; there were some jaw dropping bombs off his bat.

Ben (Orange County): Hear anything from scouts on Roberto Boldoquin?

Tucker Blair: Here is what I have heard on Roberto Boldoquin so far:

- Good athlete, moves with fluidity but might end up at 3B or 2B.
- Bat is raw currently, but has legit raw power but tries to force the power at this time with hard lift.

From what I have heard, sounds like a good gamble on the Angels part.

Pete (Detroit): Simliar question about Greg Bird and the AFL. I read your eyewitness report. Yankees fans may look at him and see Mark Teixeira 2.0 ... that may be insane, but my question is that his stats seem to be better than a 45 OFP second division player?

Tucker Blair: Bird is an interesting one. I think it is safe to say I would be on the lower end when it comes to valuing Bird. When I saw him at Double-A, it was a first-base only prospect with average bat speed and a swing that was more brauny than fast-twitched. I had concerns about the discipline against off-speed. However, this was my snapshot in that series, and I have talked to other scouts and BP members that had varying opinions on Bird. This is the most interesting aspect of player evaluation, as we all see players at different stages and are likely to have differing opinions. I have grown on Bird even since reading that report, but I still think he is more of a second division talent rather than a truly impact 1B.

Here's the report referenced: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=174

Frank (NY): What are scouts saying about NYM prospect Matt Reynolds?

Tucker Blair: Reynolds did not make the Mets top 10 list in any capacity, but he could provide value as a stop gap up the middle for the Mets. The issue is there are no tools above average, although he is just athletic enough to hold his own at SS. I would be hesitant to look at his numbers in AAA last season, as I do not believe they truly resemble the type of player he is. He's a good utility/placeholder option in my eyes, nothing more.

dvanhait (Holland, MI): The future of cf-Jackie Bradley? Does he have one and if so, will it be in Boston?

Tucker Blair: It is hard to envision a future in Boston after their recent OF transactions. JBJ is a terrific outfielder, and I don't think anyone would argue with that. The bat stalled at the majors, but I do think there is some value. He's a toolsy guy that hasn't seen it correlate to the majors. It happens to many players. The Red Sox aren't likely to wait around for the tools to bloom, especially when the team has a plethora of options for CF now.

Hector V (DR): Will there be a Tucker Blair bobblehead given away as part of BP's GIVEAWAY FRIDAY?

Tucker Blair: We really don't want to scare away subscribers. I can't think of many more terrifying things in life than a Tucker Blair bobblehead.

Len Pearlman (Some place warm): I have not heard anything from Team Instructs on various prospect boards... well not like last year when everyone was raving on Raphel Denvers. Any news on a hidden gem from somewhere in Latin America or one of the recent Draftees that could be poised to breakout or shine through to their potential and establish them as a top 50 or 100 prospect next year.

Tucker Blair: I have heard good things about CF Magneuris Sierra, which we listed as a OTR candidate for the Cardinals Top 10. Check out his writeup for more info:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25097

Al (NY): Hey Tucker, how's it going? Happy Thanksgiving man. Got a question for you about Javier Baez. Do you think he's a bust? A 41.5% K% is just downright pitiful. I honestly don't see how he gets that below 30%. I know he has a history of starting off slow in the beginning when he gets a promotion and then making the necessary adjustments and begin to produce. But he always carried an insanely high risk card with him. I own him in a dynasty and I honestly don't see how he becomes anything more than a Mark Reynolds type. Please give me some sort of optimism about Baez. Not feeling good at all stashing him the entire time and then seeing him turn out like this after so much hype. Thanks Tucker and keep up the good work dude.

Tucker Blair: I needed to watch this Predator excerpt before answering this question:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10PtNNyuxJE

I don't think he is a bust. Far from it. I know the hype-train took him for a ride, and the strikeout concerns are real. The swing can get violent and it doesn't always look pretty. The hips and hands can really get funky at times, but that's not always a bad thing. I really recommend reading Ryan Parker's piece on his swing, as he went into deep detail:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=24350

Gotribe31 (VA): What was your Thanksgiving beer of choice?

Tucker Blair: I was drinking Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti. Great beer

Luz Caboose (D.R.): How soon before Rangers put Chi Chi Gonzo in rotation? Will this be a good thing?

Tucker Blair: Chi Chi is on the way, soon.
I was a big fan this year when I saw him against Frederick and Wilmington. He has potential for three plus pitches in the FB/SL/CH and the CB is a good show pitch. Add along his ability to command the entire arsenal and move the FB in multiple ways, and you have a talented arm that is on the cusp of providing value in the bigs. If I had to guess, we see him sooner rather than later.

Gotribe31 (VA): What are your expectations for Gausman this year?

Tucker Blair: The Orioles have a good one in Kevin Gausman. The Orioles received a ton of flack for the yo-yoing of Gausman in 2014, but he responded well. He's evolved as a pitcher, and is learning to sequence better and not just be a flamethrower (which I watched him blow minor leaguers away with just his FB at Double-A). His split CH is a filthy offering and is difficult to pick up after seeing the mid to upper 80's FB off that big plane. The SL is still progressing, but it was a little more crisp at the end of the season. I expect big things from him moving forward, and he will be a big staple in their rotation for the future.

Paul (Jacksonville): Does Marco Gonzalez have enough stuff to be a force in the bullpen if the Cardinals choose to utilize him there in 2015?

Tucker Blair: Absolutely, I think he can provide value there.
I think he can provide value in the rotation as well, if there is a spot this year. Marco utilizes contact, getting a lot of ground balls. It's a solid option, although I wouldn't call him a flashy option.

Wilson (Charlotte): Will Rodon be spending any time here next year or is it straight to the south side?

Tucker Blair: I think we see Rodon in the minors to start the year. There's just no reason to thrust him immediately into the spotlight. I don't think he is long for the minors, as he is physically maxed, and really the only issue is the crispness of his command.

Sam (Louisville): Better chance to succeed as a starter: Marco Gonzalez, Brandon Finnegan, or Edguardo Rodriguez?

Tucker Blair: In this order:

1. Eduardo Rodriguez
2. Marco Gonzales
3. Brandon Finnegan

I like all three pitchers in their different ways, but I have a long history with Rodriguez and think he is at least a safe bet to provide value as a back end SP. I think the ceiling is higher than that obviously, but he has potential of three Solid-Average to Plus pitches from the left side. The velocity spikes at the end of the season are interesting, and it's a noticeable trend the past three years. I think it's important to keep that in mind when evaluating Rodriguez.

Finnegan is a question mark for me, I'll echo the thoughts of Faleris from his last chat. How does the stuff hold up over the course of the season? Is he more low-90's rather than touching 94? Either way, I've noted in the past that I still like Finnegan overall, but there is some volatility and risk with his role as a SP moving forward.

Ron (NYC): Knowing what you know now, if Reynaldo Lopez were in the 2014 rule 4 draft, how high would he have been taken?

Tucker Blair: I love this question, although I don't have the background to really answer it.

Let's dissect Lopez and his game:

- Elite arm speed
- FB that can sit mid 90's and has topped out at 100 mph this season.
- Projectable and athletic body
- Good plane and ball has heavy movement out of hand
- Progressing CH and CB, both flashing average of higher at times and also replicates arm speed.
- Injury history and volatility concerns due to limited time of productivity.

Sounds like a high-round pick to me, even if teams think he is a RP moving forward.

allangustafson (Nordstrom's fitting room): How committed are the Pirates to Polanco? Where do you see him batting in lineup and what is your prediction on a HR/SB line?

Tucker Blair: I think the Pirates are "all in" with Gregory Polanco. There is still growth left with him, but the underlying tools are still first-division talent. At some point, a team needs to just let a player take their lumps at the highest level, and that's the process the Pirates are currently in. Polanco has natural bat to ball ability, but he's still learning how to identify quality sequencing and more consistent stuff in the majors. You go from seeing Joe Schmoe minor league veteran that tosses 88-91 with good pitchability every other night to a combo of Michael Wacha/Adam Wainwright in consecutive nights. It can take time to develop production levels adequate for the majors, but I think Polanco has the package necessary.

Jason (CA): Perhaps, due to high expectations, it seems like people are a little down on Tyler Kolek. What are your thoughts on him heading into his first full season of pro ball?

Tucker Blair: It's just human nature to place such high expectations on a player taken so high and given that much money, so I understand how people can be down on Kolek. It was well known when he was selected that this wouldn't be a pitcher rolling through the minors and throwing darts against the Nationals in two years. Kolek is the big-time flamethrower that a club hopes to mold into a SP. He's got a ways to go still, but I don't think we have seen enough to paint a vivid picture of what his future looks like. The risk is high, that's for sure, but the reward could be huge.

Wes (Chicago): Not a prospect any more but do you expect much improvement from Wily Peralta going forward, or is he maxed as a #4 SP workhorse?

Tucker Blair: I think we see more improvement from Peralta. He's one of the more underrated arms in the game for me, I love the heavy FB and he's really improved the command in the past year. It's all about timing and keeping composure. There might not be another true level for him to climb, but he's a consistent SP and the Brewers have to be happy with his progress.

jojo (Sd): Thoughts on Hunter Dozier? Can he supplant Moustakas at 3b by 2016?

Tucker Blair: I liked Dozier when viewing him with Wilmington. Shows barrel control and has a good approach, showing ability to adapt in-game and not succumb to quality sequencing. I think more power is coming, but it's not quite there yet. Plus raw power, but the swing is more conducive for high-contact at the time. Once he starts to learn how to get some backspin and loft on the swing, I think we see more production in the power department. I think by 2016, you could reasonably see Dozier in the discussion. I don't think it's this season though.

Marty (Las Vegas): So many Cubans migrating to MLB; what do you know about pitcher Yoan Lopez?

Tucker Blair: Nothing outside of that he throws hard, but I want more Cubans. They are very fun to watch play baseball.

sbnbaseball (everywhere): what is the optimistic scouting view on Austin Meadows? 20 HR, .290-.350-.470 sound right?

Tucker Blair: That would certainly be optimistic, although I can't say it would be impossible.

Brent (Oklahoma): When healthy, it seems like Austin Meadows played way and the only reason he's low on the Pirates Top 10 is health. Expectations in 2015?

Tucker Blair: Meadows needs to find a medium between power and contact. There is plus raw power, but it will come at the expense of contact production due to the increased leverage and excess movement involved in the swing. I think this issue and the fact that there is concern that he moves to a corner OF are more reasons that he slotted 7th than the health. Next year will reveal a ton with Meadows. I'm excited to watch it unfold.

Jack (Tex): Lots of intrigue around the Astros almost not protecting Michael Feliz to the 40 man. What can you tell us about him? Does he have mid-rotation or better upside?

Tucker Blair: I didn't have an issue with their process, and I don't see the reason why anyone would. They have until the clock strikes zero to protect someone, which is what they did. I think the Astros are unfairly attacked sometimes.

I haven't seen Feliz in a few years, but he's now gone with a harder arsenal in SL/2S. It's a good arm, but I am not convinced that he is a SP long term. Command can waver at times.

sparrow1222 (Bennington, VT): Who do you consider to be untouchable among the Red Sox prospects in regards to a trade to attain a front line starting pitcher?

Tucker Blair: I don't view any prospects they have as untouchable, especially with the depth of players they currently have in the majors. If they can land a front line pitcher, I think they strike a deal if the shoe fits. Sox system is up next for the Top 10 lists, so I'll leave the suspense on how BP values the org for then.

Rob (Chicago): Loving the top 10 rankings! What is the biggest difference in the process this year with the Professor no longer involved?

Tucker Blair: This is classified information, Sir.
As Billy says, "There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man. We're all gonna die"

Thanks for the love. Faleris/Mellen and the rest of the squad have been working hard. AL East is up next, so I hope everyone is prepared.

Ryan (St. Louis): With Heyward in right field now, is Piscotty or Grichuk trade bait? Who brings back more? Should either be considered as long term fits?

Tucker Blair: Piscotty would easily net a larger return. I think he is certainly viewed as a long-term option. Keep in mind that Heyward is still on a 1-year deal, and there are only 2-3 years remaining with Jay/Holliday. I think Piscotty is certainly a viable candidate to play in some capacity down the road. It's a muddied picture right now, but the Cardinals seem to be pretty good and filtering the water when all is said and done.

Tucker Blair: That's it for me today. Thanks for joining and sorry that I couldn't get to every question! Happy holidays to all, and remember that Christmas is about more than gifts and presents. It's also my birthday.


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