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Chat: CJ Wittmann

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday April 22, 2015 2:00 PM ET chat session with CJ Wittmann.

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Brevity is the soul of wit. Prospect scouting is the soul of Witt. Ask him anything.

CJ Wittmann: Sorry I'm a couple minutes late. I have some time before I need to head out again; I'm going to try to answer all of these questions!

NatsGM (THE NatsGM Studios): CJ, great job on the reports lately, you and the BP team (besides Craig) have been crushing it. Few questions- 1) Are you going to make a cameo at the BP Milwaukee event? 2) Can you talk Nick Pivetta and Wilmer Difo? I think you saw them both in action this week. Thanks. #MortBlood

CJ Wittmann: I think this is a good question to open with. Craig will be out at games shortly and the Milwaukee event? I doubt it unless I can get a flight in. I will have reports in on Pivetta and Difo tonight so I think you will see that soon. Short version, Nick Pivetta: backend starter and Wilmer Difo: role 6 SS at peak.

Jake (Kalamazoo): Hey, Witt, thanks for the chat. What do you got on A.J. Reed? My impression is he's getting by on strength and polish but may not have the bat speed to survive at higher levels. Anywhere close?

CJ Wittmann: I think you are correct about him and I wonder how he will fair against better competition. I can see him struggling against better competition.

eric (st louis): what is alex reyes ceiling? and what does he need to do to reach that ceiling?

CJ Wittmann: I see Reyes as a #2 starting pitcher at the highest level. Especially with this velocity bump, the fastball is even more of a weapon now to go along with his above average potential secondaries. I think he needs to improve his command a bit and needs to stay healthy along his development path.

scott (az): Could you please give us a couple of names outside a top 100 list that you think is moving up the ranking? Or a couple of names that have really caught your attention? Thanks

CJ Wittmann: Wilmer Difo stood out early this year. I would keep an eye on him.

flashtheleather (On the rubber): You put a role 6 on Difo... Has he changed this year or is this just a confirmation of his breakout last season? Where would he slot in the top 100, or is it too early still?

CJ Wittmann: Confirmation of his breakout to me. I think he's a really good player.

Chris K (CA): Were there hordes of children at your game? If so, is your sanity still in-tact?

CJ Wittmann: There was actually. Wilmington always pulls a nice crowd.

Ren (NYC): Thoroughly enjoyed listening to your appearance on the Nationals Review Podcast! Have you seen all of the Nationals notable catcher prospects (Pedro Severino, Spencer Kieboom, Raudy Read and Jakson Reetz)? Who do you think has the best shot of making an impact at the catcher position in the big leagues?

CJ Wittmann: Thank you! I sat on a series that featured Kieboom, who I liked a bit and will have a report on soon. I haven't seen Reetz and I think I liked Severino behind the plate last year but I'm not 100% positive.

flashtheleather (One foot in the box): Are there any pitchers you've seen or heard taking the next developmental step early on? Kline is a guy who gets mentioned as bumping his velocity but who else should we watch?

CJ Wittmann: A pitcher who took developmental strides in his first season was Hunter Harvey. He had that unfortunate injury in spring and I'm interested to see where he is developmental once he makes a few starts.

eliyahu (Israel): Better likelihood at end of 2015: People more bearish on Nick Williams than in beginning of year, or more bullish on Lewis Brinson?

CJ Wittmann: I think more bullish on Brinson just because Nick Williams will have a great year at AA.

kylanje (FL): Machado or Arenado in a keep forever OBP Dynasty league?

CJ Wittmann: Machado

padremurph (Los Angeles): What do you make of Austin Hedges fast start? Product of the PCL environment or an improvement to his game?

CJ Wittmann: I think a combination of both is the answer, but he is close to major league ready so we will see how well those adjustments last at the big league level.

Bill Clinton (Las Vegas): What do you think of Nick Williams' start to the season? Heard recently that he claims that he should be able to go 30/30 this year. Have you heard anything about an improved approach? I know it's very early, but Scott Lucas' twitter was saying that Nomar Mazara has 3x as many balls in play than swinging strikes at 26:8. Nick Williams has 33 balls in play to 11 swinging strikes, so a 3:1 ratio. Last year, Williams had a .9 ratio. Like I said, still very early, but could this be a sign of something? Thanks a ton for all the work you do here CJ. Really awesome site that just keeps getting better.

CJ Wittmann: I think we would see Nick Williams in Texas pretty soon if he continued this ratio. I really hope Nick Williams does go 30/30 this year. I'm pretty high on him as a player and despite the aggressive approach I still put a lot of stock in his bat. I had Williams timed in the 7 run range, from home to 1B, but he doesn't utilize his speed on the bases that well.

Jimmy (Houston): CJ, Carlos Correa has a great start in AA this year. When do you think we get to see him in Houston?? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

CJ Wittmann: I wouldn't be surprised to see Correa in the big leagues soon. I would say probably June but if it is later I wouldn't be surprised either.

Cubdom (Chicago): Does Russell show enough plate discipline to stick in bigs? He'll have a long leash, otherwise why bother, right? I want to see this team grow together

CJ Wittmann: I think Russell is here to stay. I can see him getting the majority of the time at 2B even when La Stella returns. As for plate discipline, I think he has a mature approach but will swing and miss within the zone. There's an adjustment period for every player so if Russell struggles, he is no different. They will give him time to learn at the big league level.

Pelecos (Granville): If I'm trying to get into scouting this summer and am going to a fair bit of MiLB games, what should I do once I arrive at the park? Easy things to pick up on for hitters/pitchers? Thanks

CJ Wittmann: I just did an article with Ryan Sullivan about this. http://natsgm.com/2015/04/20/an-inside-look-at-baseball-scouting-with-cj-wittmann-jr-from-baseball-prospectus/

Check it out and send me an email afterwards.

Derick (NY): Is there any reason to worry about Syndergaard and his start to the season? How worried are you about his elbow issue earlier this season? I mean, I'm sure we all wanted to see some improvement off of last year, but so far, it hasn't looked good. Should the Mets just get this kid out of Vegas already or what?

CJ Wittmann: I don't put a whole lot into MiLB numbers but it is obvious Noah has struggled. When I saw him, I thought he had #2/3 SP type stuff and projected to reach that ceiling at the big league level. I agree that keeping him there probably doesn't help anything and I would move him. Even if that means using him out of the bullpen.

kiper90 (Rochester, NY): Hey CJ, who do you have as some of your favorite Low Minor, high ceiling prospects to keep an eye on for 2015, and are looking to jump on before their stock gains recognition this season, ex. Tapia last pre-season or Devers by its conclusion?

CJ Wittmann: Right now, Jomar Reyes. I saw him play a series the first weekend and I was really impressed. I agreed with Tucker's report on him and I think you will see his stock rise.

Silverback38 (VA): With all the injuries in the Nationals bullpen, is Aaron Barrett the heir apparent if Storen continues to struggle?

CJ Wittmann: This is funny but I happened to be watching Barrett. He could definitely be their closer: 95 with that 86 MPH SL would work.

Greg (NY): Thoughts on 2 Angel throwaways, Hector Santiago & Giavotella? Should they be owned in 14 team leagues?

CJ Wittmann: Santiago should be owned

chitown (cheap seats): how do you feel russell will do in his first trip to the show? do u think the move is only temporary until others are deemed healthy? thanks CJ

CJ Wittmann: I think they will give him a long enough leash that he will have the chance to succeed or fail. It wouldn't surprise me to see him struggle and the Cubs let him work through it so he should be here a while.

chitown (cheap seats): how do you feel russell will do in his first trip to the show? do u think the move is only temporary until others are deemed healthy? thanks CJ

CJ Wittmann: I think they will give him a long enough leash that he will have the chance to succeed or fail. It wouldn't surprise me to see him struggle and the Cubs let him work through it so he should be here a while.

DJ (Dallas): CJ, thanks for the chat!! Any idea what's happened to Rougned Odor this year??

CJ Wittmann: Struggling to start the year along with the rest of that team. He will adjust.

DJ (Dallas): CJ, thanks for the chat!! Any idea what's happened to Rougned Odor this year??

CJ Wittmann: Struggling to start the year along with the rest of that team. He will adjust.

agetting (Queens): Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have struggled with their command early in the PCL. Can the environment effect grip on the ball? Who do you think arrives in NY first?

CJ Wittmann: I am actually not sure about that grip question and I think we will see Syndergaard first with Matz following not far behind.

agetting (Queens): Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have struggled with their command early in the PCL. Can the environment effect grip on the ball? Who do you think arrives in NY first?

CJ Wittmann: I am actually not sure about that grip question and I think we will see Syndergaard first with Matz following not far behind.

Sad Fan (Neb): How do you console yourself if you can only make it to one game in a series and its the day the top spect sits like a Lindor?

CJ Wittmann: This happened to my buddy Rick. Haha. I owe my man a game this year.

agetting (Queens): Any chance Corey Seager gets promoted anytime soon to the bigs. He looks as if he is clearly ready for a challenge. He has been unstoppable thus far.

CJ Wittmann: I hope so but where would he play? Unless Uribe is nicked up, I don't see where Seager fits right now.

agetting (Queens): Michael Conforto has been the most dominant hitter in high A ball to start the year. How quickly do you think his path could be to the majors? What is his upside?

CJ Wittmann: Hit tool first, limited power LF profile. Its' valuable but not an All-Star type player and I think we could see him in 2016 possibly.

Oh Canada (Toronto): Do u think Reyes plays through the rib issue, or sees time on the DL?

CJ Wittmann: DL time.

nick (work): Your tweets on Dylan Bundy were encouraging. How close is he to being back to normal?

CJ Wittmann: I was really happy with the Bundy results. He looked much stronger and much more comfortable. The velocity was easier and I still think there is more left once he builds his arm strength. I think we will see him in the big leagues next year but wouldn't shock me if it is this year.

Handsome NAMBER (Mortville): Is it Moncada time yet in Greenville? IF not, to hold me over til then...who ya got in a FSL smack down between Alex Reyes and Blake Snell?

CJ Wittmann: Hagerstown in a couple of weeks. And Alex Reyes.

Handsome NAMBER (Mortville): Is Krispy Kreme Doughnut Hot Dog At The Wilmington Blue Rocks' Frawley Stadium a sandwich or THE Sandwich...

CJ Wittmann: THE sandwich

agetting (Queens): Dilson Herrera has been sizzling in AAA Vegas hitting almost .400. Has anyone's opinion of his upside changed? Can he be an all-star caliber second basemen?

CJ Wittmann: I don't think anyone has changed their opinion on him based on the first few weeks. I'm sure there are people who think he is an all-star caliber 2B but I think he'll be a role 5; ML regular type player. Still very valuable.

Spirou (Montreal): Seems to me Eduardo Rodriguez does not get the respect he deserves as a top prospects.Pretty impressive so far don't you think ? Maybe it's time to move him up in the rankings .

CJ Wittmann: I agree to this. I had ERod as a #3 SP pitcher when I saw him with Frederick and I think it is very likely he hits that ceiling. I had Rodriguez and Owens rated the same.

Jimothy (Alabama): What's Margot's upside look like? I keep hearing that he's "not a star" but he's following a very Betts-esque trajectory.

CJ Wittmann: I think you hit it. Role 55 CF. I think Betts is a little better than that but you are on the right path.

boneil33 (Boston): Who are some prospects you expect to make a big climb up the rankings next time they come out? Any names that might surprise us?

CJ Wittmann: This may not come as a surprise to many but I think when mid-season rankings come out, we will see Alex Reyes a lot higher on lists than he previously was.

ball hawk (spaceneedle): CJ, can u speak about zuninos lack of success so far? spring made things so promising but it seems he carried none of it over to games that matter. thanks!

CJ Wittmann: Zunino always had a ton of swing and miss dating back to his Florida days. I liked him behind the plate but was never a real believer in his bat. Plus raw but hit tool limitations makes power play down.

JT Smooth (Loveboat Cap'n): Hunter Dozier seems to be a fairly divisive prospect-- where do you stand, and has their been any chatter about him since the AFL?

CJ Wittmann: Dozier was really impressive when I saw him in Wilmington and I won't forget that. I have him in as a role 6 3B. He will make adjustments at every level.

jonraypyle (TX): Have you had a chance to see Luis Ortiz pitch? What are the chances his cieling ends up Higher than Chi Chi or Jake Thomas?

CJ Wittmann: I haven't yet. But I will at some point. I think there is a pretty good chance that his ceiling ends of higher than the two. His raw stuff is better and as he progresses, if he can improve his overall command, he could show the makings of a #2 starter.

agetting (Queens): Was it a mistake to drop Dalton Pompey in my fantasy league? He was off to a slow start and put together a few good games. You see him having a very good year in a potent Jays lineup?

CJ Wittmann: If it's a dynasty league then yes. If it is a deep 1-year league then probably but if it's a shallow league then probably not. I do think he will have a pretty good year in that lineup though.

agetting (Queens): Was it a mistake to drop Dalton Pompey in my fantasy league? He was off to a slow start and put together a few good games. You see him having a very good year in a potent Jays lineup?

CJ Wittmann: If it's a dynasty league then yes. If it is a deep 1-year league then probably but if it's a shallow league then probably not. I do think he will have a pretty good year in that lineup though.

CyMature (Cooperstown Retirement Home): Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis: have you seen them? Who will become the better hitter? Thanks.

CJ Wittmann: I will see them soon (I am hoping). If I had to answer this one, I would guess Devers.

Handsome NAMBER (Mortville): RE: Environment in PCL From Bahill (2007) Effects of Air Density on Specific Pitches A reduction in air density would also reduce the drag and the Magnus forces on the pitch. Table 8 shows the speed and the height of the ball when it crosses the front edge of the plate for a 90 mph (40.2 m/s) fastball launched horizontally with 1200 rpm of backspin using an over arm delivery and for a 75 mph (33.5 m/s) curveball launched upward at two degrees with 2000 rpm of pure top spin. A ten-percent decrease in air density from 1.1 to 1.0 increases the speed of the fastball by one percent and reduces its rise by four percent. A ten-percent decrease in air density from 1.1 to 1.0 increases the speed of the curveball by one percent and reduces its drop by nine percent. Earlier in this paper we wrote, if all other things were equal, a ten-percent decrease in air density would produce a four-percent increase in the distance of a home run ball. Well now it can be seen that all other things will not be equal: the pitch speed will be larger (the bat speed will not change). Using the higher pitch speed changes the conclusion about the range of the batted ball by only one hundredth of a percent.

CJ Wittmann: This is awesome. Answer to the question: does environment manipulate grip?

msimotes (Kalamazoo): Of Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brian Johnson, do any of them crack the Red Sox rotation anytime soon?

CJ Wittmann: I can see ERod coming up soon along with Owens. Brian Johnson is a little behind them for me in terms of ceiling and MLB ETA.

Greg (NY): when do you think Maikel Franco will be called up. what are your projections?

CJ Wittmann: I think June is the answer. I was never the biggest Franco fan but the raw pop can't be ignored. Ultimately, I think he's going to play 1B and hit ~.250ish with upside of 20 HR in prime.

Silverback38 (VA): There are a couple of names that I see frequently, Blake Snell and Dylan Baker. What do you know of these guys and who has the higher 'achievable' upside?

CJ Wittmann: I don't know that much on Snell but know he has some arm strength. I saw his velocity was in the upper 90s last start. I have missed Baker somehow over his last few starts. I will see him this year, at some point, hopefully soon. I know he is mid-90s with some command. I would say Baker has the more achievable upside.

willyjoe (the big apple): thanks for the chat CJ. since the 2nd half of last season, Lagares has looked like a different players. now collins has him batting 2nd. have you had the chance to see him? im wondering if there was a change in skill or approach and if you feel his growth is sustainable. ty

CJ Wittmann: I never saw Lagares as a minor leaguer so I can't really compare to measure his growth. I'm sure he has made adjustments since last season to help his success.

Future in Fenway (Salem): Manuel Margot: he can hit, he can run, but can he take a walk?

CJ Wittmann: I think we will see his approach work fine as he develops. He won't ever have an extreme BB rate but he won't have an ultra aggressive approach.

msimotes (Kalamazoo): A lot of people think Schwarber is not a catcher, but if he can catch say 50 games a year, and play LF, doesn't that make him extremely valuable?

CJ Wittmann: Sure but I think he will be extremely valuable anyway because he can hit.

sdsuphilip (San Diego ): AUSTIN HEDGES is hitting! Is it just a PCL mirage, small sample, or some good signs?

CJ Wittmann: Combo of all three. But he is almost ready so we might see if those good signs are real at the MLB level.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi CJ, Who are the current non-closers most likely to be closing by mid-season?

CJ Wittmann: Is Wade Davis closing for the Royals now? Kenny Giles will be a closer later this year, I think.

Akalhar (Injuryville): Any word on Ryan Cordell? Mostly curious about his defense at SS. I see some errors, but am curious if there is enough there for him to stick at SS for a little while.

CJ Wittmann: I haven't seen Cordell nor have I heard anything on him. Going to dig deeper on this one. Thanks.

Bill (Flagstaff): Domingo Leyba seems to have a nice hit tool, but maybe not much else. Do you see him outplaying one of Owings or Ahmed and starting at 2b in a couple years?

CJ Wittmann: I do not see him outplaying either of those two

CJ Wittmann: I appreciate all of the questions everyone submitted! Look for more eyewitness reports coming shortly!


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