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Chat: Nick Shlain

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday May 05, 2015 3:00 PM ET chat session with Nick Shlain.

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Nick Shlain is not just a treasure on our fantasy-coverage team. He's also the editor of BP Bronx, your source for hot and sexy Yankees coverage. Ask him about anything.

Nick Shlain: Hi everybody! Baseball questions going up on a Tuesday? Let's do this.

Derek (Wisconsin): Clint Coulter really seems to be doing well in High A, but all I have read is platoon or 4th OF. Can he be more than that with his power and plat discipline?

Nick Shlain: Scouts aren't sold on him being more than that just yet. While he does have power and his hot start is encouraging, there are questions about his hit tool and he'll have to produce at the Double-A level before quieting the doubters.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Nick, Are there any pitchers in the minors who project to be true #1 starters?

Nick Shlain: Hi, sure there are. Lucas Giolito and Dylan Bundy are easy choices and I'd also include Julio Urias from the Dodgers system, though some people might disagree with me there.

Alex (Anaheim): What Yankee ceremony are you most looking forward to this season?

Nick Shlain: The week long party after A-Rod homers for his 3,000th hit

Alex (Austin): Is it time to move on from Adam Warren?

Nick Shlain: Hey, Austin, the tone of this question is leading and Adam and I don't appreciate it. That being said, if he's in your fantasy rotation, I understand wanting to see other pitchers for awhile. The Yankees don't seem to have extra starters at the moment, so he's not getting the boot there just yet. He hasn't been great, especially third time through the order, but he's keeping New York in games for the most part.

moehk21 (Ann Arbor): How good a fantasy prospect is Kyle Freeland?

Nick Shlain: He's good and if he was with a different team we would like him even more, but since he's with the Rockies expectations should be tempered somewhat. He has the potential for three above-average pitches and throws lots of strikes, which will be good for his strikeout and walk numbers, but Coors Field will ultimately sully his ratios. He could be up next year.

John (CT): Does Chase Whitley have middle of the rotation upside?

Nick Shlain: Not for me. He's pitched two good games so far and did a good job keeping the Jays off balance last night, but his fastball still topped out at 92 mph and his secondary offerings aren't exceptional. Whitley has a thankless job as the extra starter, I expect him to do what he did last year where he was fine as a replacement starter for 4-5 weeks and then falls apart.

I mentioned him briefly in my column today, I prefer Alex Colome in AL-Only leagues: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=26257

kiper90 (Rochester, NY): Hey Nick, 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?

Nick Shlain: One of my favorites is Wilmer Difo on the Nationals. He's old for the levels he's playing at, but he hit .315 with 14 homers and 49 steals in A-ball last year and after three good weeks at High-A this year he was called up to Double-A. Don't miss the boat on Difo as I still haven't forgiven myself for waiting too long on him in the #TDGX league. And I likely never will.

Al (Bardonia): Thoughts on Aaron Judge so far this season? Still early, but from a stat watcher's perspective, the BB% looks a little down. Looks like he's hitting the ball well though. Hear anything on him and his future overall upside? Thanks for doing this chat Nick. Awesome stuff here at BP!

Nick Shlain: BP's own Al Skorupa saw Judge play in April. Still hitting line drives everywhere: https://twitter.com/alskor/status/593503326030811137

Thanks for the question

Bill Clinton (Las Vegas): Is it just me or does Xander Bogaerts' proclaimed future ceiling seem a little off? I hear people say he has 30 HR upside and could be one of the best players in the game. When I watch him, I just don't see it. I see a 15 HR guy. I don't see the big wow factor. Not an awful player, but no monster star in the making IMO. Am I just off or am I actually onto something?

Nick Shlain: I think when you hear people say he has 30 HR upside, they mean eventually. He's not in his prime yet or even entering it, Bogaerts, 22, is a strong kid. He also has exceptional pitch recognition skills and homer-friendly parks in the AL East working in his favor. He won't hit 30 this year and likely won't even next year, but it's not out of the question that he could eclipse that number years from now. People change.

Steven (Harrisburg): Thoughts on Devon Travis? Is he just playing over his head or do you think he's actually capable of producing? Could he be a top 5 2B? Maybe 15/10 with a .270-.280 AVG?

Nick Shlain: Travis is playing over his head to some extent, he's unlikely to still have a .315 AVG and .388 OBP at the end of the season, but I don't expect him to just fall off a cliff. There's certainly a possibility that he's made improvements to his game and that he's a better player now than the one the Tigers traded. That might not jive with your baseball worldview, but his seven home runs aren't a total fluke. That's evidence that something has changed after he hit 10 home runs in 441 PA with Double-A last year. Even if he *only* hits two home runs a month the rest of the way, he'll threaten 20. Expectations should be raised.

Mark (Chicago): Is Jake Marisnick just off to a good start or has he actually turned a corner in his offense? The kid is mashing right now and add in the SB's, and he's a pretty valuable fantasy asset. Is he a sell high in dynasties? Will he continue to break out or will he fall off a cliff?

Nick Shlain: Some might just look at his .390 BABIP and assume that his start is a mere fluke, but the amazing thing about Marisnick's start has been how he has cut his strikeout percentage from 28 percent last year to 12 percent this year. With him making so much more contact, the comedown of his BABIP won't been able to drag down his numbers that much because of the sheer volume. If he can continue to make this much contact, he's full on breaking out. Should his offense start to falter, he's still a great source of speed so only sell high if it's really the right price.

Scott (Piscataway): Chances Nomar Mazara is up this year? Rangers are already showing being aggressive with him as they promoted him from A to AA and skipped A+ all together. And they aggressively promoted Odor from AA to the MLB. Given their aggressive nature and already noted aggressive approach with Mazara, what do you think are the chances he plays in the MLB this year?

Nick Shlain: Mazara turned 20 in April and Odor seems to be on his way back to the minors. No chance we see Mazara up this year, sorry.

Cal Guy (Cal): Nick, What is your eta on Josh Bell and what kind of HR power do you foresee him having in the bigs?

Nick Shlain: He could be up later this year. 25 home runs at peak.

mbeemsterboer (Chicago, IL): Devon Travis is playing at his ceiling right now, right? Has his play changed expectations for him at all? Especially the power stroke. Can we evaluate up his expected line though?

Nick Shlain: He's likely playing above his ceiling, if he's not then it's Devon's world and we're just living in it. Expectations are way, way up.

BG (WA): What are your thoughts on Jake Cave?

Nick Shlain: I've always liked him, but I don't expect him to be a factor at the big league level.

agetting (Queens): The numbers Matz and Syndergaard are putting up are sensational in the PCL. We know Thor is a top 5 pitching prospect in all MLB, is Matz in that category now as well?

Nick Shlain: Matz could be a number two fantasy starter down the line, making him a good guy to have in your keeper minors/dynasty league, but that's too strong to say he's a top five SP prospect overall now.

Shawn (Cubicle): Would you be looked to sell Michael Wacha ASAP? The ERA and WHIP look nice, but it comes with a 13% k rate. Trade for Tyson Ross?

Nick Shlain: Wacha still has a better FIP than Ross, but it's close and due to all the walks Ross is issuing. Wacha's strand percentage is almost through the roof, though, so he's due to get hit soon. If you need the strikeouts badly, I can see it.

Shawn (Cubicle): Evan Longoria or Kris Bryant ROS?

Nick Shlain: Longoria only has one home run and six RBI? Who does he think he is, Robinson Cano? I'll go Bryant, who should pick it up with the home runs himself.

Chopper (Indy): What ETA would you imagine for Tapia to be playing at Coors?

Nick Shlain: 2018. He was born in 1994, my goodness.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Nick, Please rank Glasnow, Urias and Bundy in terms of career success. Thanks.

Nick Shlain: Bundy over Urias, though it's close. Then a bunch of other pitchers. Then Glasnow.

Boosie (Freed): What up Bobby Shlaina? Three ?s 1) Who do you trust more: Dee Gordon, Logan Forsythe or a dude with a paw-print tattoo? 2) Is it worth picking up Matt Moore or nah? 3) Drake or Lamar?

Nick Shlain: Boosie, what's good?

1. I trust Dee Gordon with my life.

2. Matt Moore faced hitters for the first time recently and is certainly worth stashing in a DL spot.

3. One of the great questions in life, but I'm glad it was asked. The beauty of the Drizzy/Kendrick debate is that you don't have to choose. While chatting, I've been listening to GKMC and IYRTITL. I wasn't a big fan of Kendrick's latest album, though, and ultimately give the edge to Drake. He's got all the hits, boy.

bamahamhock (Carolina): Does Toronto's mass shuffling of players to and from the minors make sense to you? For example, Norris led the team in ERA and his ratios were at least as good as the other starters. Seem like panic by management.

Nick Shlain: It makes sense. Norris wasn't going deep into games and that hurts when your bullpen is a weakness, like it is for the Jays. Norris completed six innings in one of his five starts and didn't make it through five twice. He'll be back.

ubaldopes (NYC): What's the first big trade of the season? I say it's Jeff Alphabet Soup from the White Sox to the Red Sox in early July. Lower cost than Hamels. Thoughts?

Nick Shlain: I'm not ready to say the White Sox season is over already, but Samardjiza would certainly be on the move if Chicago looks done in July. Not sure about big names, but I imagine Milwaukee will be unloading guys pretty soon.

R.J. (Pittsburgh): Will AJ Burnett be better than average in a deep NL-only league this year? Will this be his last year or would you expect him to pitch again for the Bucs next year? Thanks, RJ

Nick Shlain: Yes. In fact, he's been better than average in all formats so far this year. As long as he can still pitch, it seems like whether he comes back for next year or not depends on how he and his family feel and if he believes the Pirates can still contend.

flashtheleather (shift): Clay Buchholz... Peripherals look great, whiffs are up, but he's getting pounded. Is he a buy low?

Nick Shlain: I suppose he's a buy low if it's really low and you have a spot on your bench until he gets it together.

John (CT): For years Andrew Miller was a failed highly considered prospect who was drafted to start by the Tigers. Then he went to the Sox where he was middling bullpen help. And then last year happened. What was it that turned things around so dramatically for him?

Nick Shlain: The short version is that Miller fixed his mechanics in Boston. He now pitches from the stretch 100% of the time and shortened his stride which makes it easier for his long front leg to get through his motion. He also ditched his curveball for the back foot slider. These developments improved his command considerably and he's been a different, dominating pitcher ever since.

Chad (OKC): Jake Marisnick is having a great start to the season. Is there a substantial difference in his approach this season? I am wondering if the improved performance at the plate is sustainable even at a lesser level than his start.

Nick Shlain: As I mentioned earlier, he's making a lot more contact than he was last year and if that holds his improvement is somewhat sustainable.

kimibk (brooklyn): If Buxton continues to rake, do you see the Twins bringing him up after Super Two deadline?

Nick Shlain: The Super Two deadline has already passed, right? He could be up later this summer or September, though, as long as he's healthy.

TF (LA, CA): Attempting to buy low and sell high at the same time. Move Travis and prospects for Kluber and Dozier? The latter would be one year rentals.

Nick Shlain: I'd shoot higher for the starter. Kluber's stuff doesn't look the same to me, especially his curveball. Last year, he'd have a few bad starts in a row where his command was just off, but his struggles this year seem to be different and I'm worried about him getting back to ace level this year. I'm assuming Travis is on a contract or can be kept past this year.

John (CT): Do you think Byron Buxton will live up to the accolades? I know it's way too early but he does seem to be uniquely talented.

Nick Shlain: If expect him to be Mike Trout you'll be disappointed, but other than that... He's gonna be a great, great player.

Cole (Colorado): Trevor Story seems to have taken Double A by storm. Is this something we can believe in, or is this him repeating and performing?

Nick Shlain: Story's ability to make contact is always going to be a point of contention when his name is brought up. When he's not striking out so much, he sometimes looks great and that's part of what's going on now. He still has 26 K's in 24 games, but he's done worse in the minors. In the fantasy realm, we can live with the strikeouts like him anyway for his power and speed tools. He's certainly not going to continue to hit .388, but the improvement in his numbers so far over last year is encouraging.

grimoren189 (TX): Any worry about Bryce Harper's K #s? 34 K's so far. Obviously he's walking more as well, but are the strikeouts concerning?

Nick Shlain: His strikeout percentage is also slightly higher than it was even last year. It's a little concerning for his AVG, though it's still early in the season and as you mentioned his walks are way up.

John (CT): Chances O's Hardy is done? Shoulder problems for an aging player at short aren't good for fielding or hitting

Nick Shlain: He's currently rehabbing with Double-A so I don't think he's done, but after 9 home runs last year he might be done hitting double-digit home runs even with all the hitter-friendly parks in the AL East.

Justin (Missouri): What kind of fantasy player do you see out of Raul Mondesi? Will he be worth anything, or more of a real life prospect?

Nick Shlain: He'll be worth something, but if you can flip him now for something you really like/need I wouldn't hesitate. He'll be overrated on lists because of his defense and projects to be similar to Erik Aybar offensively at his peak. Solid, especially at a weak position like shortstop, but that's still years away.

gerrybraun (san diego): What's next for Wilin Rosario?

Nick Shlain: After this chat we're getting an apartment together.

Jim (Tennessee): What are your thoughts about Orlando Arcia? He is 20 in Double A and mashing, which is impressive considering he missed his entire 17 year old season.

Nick Shlain: I like him, but he doesn't have any power. Think .270 with 20+ steals when he's in the majors. That's decent at shortstop, but he'd be another guy I wouldn't mind selling high in keeper/dynasty formats.

G (NOLA): How much value should Lindor have in a keeper league? I feel like he's overrated, but wondering what I should look for when trying to trade him.

Nick Shlain: He probably is overrated if someone thinks he's going to do much more than provide some AVG, runs and steals. Great glove and should be the SS in Cleveland for a long time, but a fantasy great he is not.

Rocko (Modern Life): Alex Wood, Shane Greene or Joe Kelly?

Nick Shlain: Wood

JP (TX): with the news Mesoraco may need surgery what waver wire catcher for ROS Miguel Montero, Yasmani Grandal, Roberto Perez, or Jason Castro

Nick Shlain: Montero

Mat Latos (Miami): Am I done?

Nick Shlain: /cuts into Mat Latos

No, I think he needs a few more minutes

Matt (Cambridge): Doesn't Jeff Hoffman have potential #1 ceiling if healthy? He is looking good is kinda 1B to Giolito in terms of raw stuff

Nick Shlain: I wouldn't go that far. Maybe a SP1 in fantasy, but not a true number one ace in real life.

Nick (Manhattan): What do you think of Jung Ho Kang? I have Hanley and I'm guessing he's out for a while. In a deep league and the pickings are slim. I could go the Yunel Escobar route but....[weeping].

Nick Shlain: I'd go Kang. He's a backup, but he's hot right now and that could earn him more playing time this year.

Tom (Hunts Point): Any chance Corry Seager is called up in 2015? He's killed the minors.

Nick Shlain: Yeah, he should be up sometime around the all-star break if not earlier.

The Coreys (Coreyville): Thoughts on Corey Dickerson?

Nick Shlain: He's making me look not good.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25796

JT Smooth (Loveboat Cap'n): Big Daddy Shlain, o/u 83 wins for the tribe this season?

Nick Shlain: Thanks for this question. I picked the Indians to be the first wild card team in the AL before the season, but I've since backed off this prediction. I know the Indians have gotten off to rough starts before and turned it around, but something about this team feels a little different to me. Not winning any of the games Kluber has pitched so far this year is a really bad sign and the Yan Gomes injury has really hurt them. I wish you gave me 83 and a half here, but I'll take the under anyway. The Royals and Twins being better than I expected (and the White Sox aren't this bad either) doesn't help them.

Mike (NY): What's your take on the Nationals limiting Giolito and Lopez to 75 pitches or 5 innings in their stars. For me let them pitch, it hasn't really hurt the Giants pitchers through the minors as Bumgarner was never limited.

Nick Shlain: I think it's righteous. I'd much rather have my favorite team limit minor league pitchers with pitch counts than innings or something even more imperfect. It's also better than the alternative of just having these guys blow their arms out earlier because they got overworked.

Jimmy (Cincy): Is not putting Devin Mesoraco on the DL when he can barely pinch hit ridiculous or what?

Nick Shlain: I don't see how it's benefiting the Reds, but that's none of my business. /sips tea

Bert (Cleveland): What do you expect from Francisco Lindor? And when do you think he gets the call?

Nick Shlain: He should get the call sometime around the all-star break. I expect a great glove, some gap power, and a few steals.

Billy (Houston): Any chance we see Carlos Correa in Houston this year? Thanks, Nick.

Nick Shlain: I suppose there's a chance, but not a very good one. I'm not really buying the Astros as legitimate contenders just yet, but with how the other teams in their division look i'm starting to come around. Still, not a great chance he's up this year.

Charles (NYC): Harper is striking out a lot. He is walking a lot. The speed and defense is disappearing even at a young age. This brings up that old Adam Dunn comp that was dropped years ago. While he is still stupidly young, isn't it possible he evolving into a more athletic Dunn?

Nick Shlain: This question just makes me want to grab last year's version of MLB the Show and edit Adam Dunn to make him ridiculously athletic and win the MVP.

Jaguar (Jacksonville): If Joc Pederson is a Danny Trejo movie, then which Danny Trejo movie is he? Also Nsync or Backstreet Boys?

Nick Shlain: You probably didn't think I was going to say this, but Joc Pederson is Spy Kids. What did you think I was going to say Machete? Get outta here.

Also, backstreet boys. Killed it in This is the end.

Eric (LA): Should Joe Kelly and Nate Eovaldi start a club of flamethrowers that can't strike people out?

Nick Shlain: They could just join the Henderson Alvarez club.

Jim (KC): What's happened with Raul Mondesi this year?? Thanks for the chat!!

Nick Shlain: He hurt his back, but should be back with Double-A soon.

Tommybones (NYC): Peraza gets the call ________, and hits around _____, with ____ stolen bases ROS

Nick Shlain: Midseason, .280, and 11.

Nick Shlain: Thanks for the questions, everyone. I'll be back to chat with you again soon. I hope it was good for you too.


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