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Chat: Christopher Crawford

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday May 13, 2015 1:00 PM ET chat session with Christopher Crawford.

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Here's a funky introduction of how nice Chris is. Ask him about the 2015 draft, prospects from all directions, or about almost anything else.

Christopher Crawford: Let's do this like Brutus. Thanks for coming to talk baseball with me, everyone.

Phife (The Blvd of Lyndon): You on point, Chris?

Christopher Crawford: All the time, Phife. Well, most of the time, anyway.

agetting (Queens): Noah Syndergaard was considered one of the top pitching prospects this offseason after struggling in AAA last season. What is he doing now that he wasn't doing last season? Is his upside now in the same conversation as Urias/Giolito/Bundy?

Christopher Crawford: The command has been much better this year, particularly with the breaking-ball (though last night he apparently had fastball command issues to the arm side). I don't think his upside matches those guys? But there's quite a bit of upside, and he has a higher floor than Bundy. He's a really, really good pitching prospect.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): SSS but the results seem to support more power produced by Stephen Piscotty's revamped swing. Have you seen him or gotten any reports? Is the power increase sustainable?

Christopher Crawford: I have heard that the swing involves more of the lower-half and has more loft, so that's good; you want that from a corner outfielder. The hit tool is still what's going to carry him to a big league role, but he's a smart hitter and I am sure he'll find a way to incorporate both.

agetting (Queens): Who do you see a better long term career, Jacob deGrom or Steven Matz?

Christopher Crawford: deGrom. I'm still not convinced that Matz is more than a back-end starter. There's no doubt what he's done over these last two years is impressive, but I'm just not convinced the stuff plays up at the big league level.

DaleCoffin (Windsor ON): If Adrian Rondon and Gilbert Lara were available in the 2015 draft would they be drafted in the top half of the first round?

Christopher Crawford: They would both be top 15 picks in my opinion, yes.

Chopper (Indy): Is it feasible to think that Starling can be a productive major league player?

Christopher Crawford: Sure! Look, Starling has been terrible prior to this year, and the people who wrote him off wrote him off for valid reasons. But he's 22 years old, the tools that made him such a high selection haven't faded away. It wouldn't shock me one bit if he became a competent fourth outfielder -- maybe even a starter.

steelydanu (Burbank, CA): Hello, I'm in a fantasy keeper NL only 5x5 league. I have Lucas Giolito in the wings for a probable 2016 appearance. Are there any other NL pitching prospects would you consider with #1/ace labels?

Christopher Crawford: Off the top of the head, Urias and Glasnow.

OB1 (Tampa): Which has more upside to build a team around Joc Pederson or George Springer. OB1

Christopher Crawford: Oh boy this is a good question. I go with Springer because I think there's more pop in the bat, but all Pederson does is get better. They're both fantastic and you should love them equally and thank them for being in your life.

Number27 (Milwaukee): Chris, you're a great follow on twitter. Appreciate that, and this chat. I'm sure this chat is saturated w/ Daz Cameron questions now so I'll leave him alone. But my question for you relates to pitching. We're still seeing a lot of arm blowouts, but when will we see the draft reward pitchers that are more "pitchers" than "throwers", that have a cleaner pedigree with less rounds through the cannon? That is to say, would it be possible to imagine a near future where high school arms who didn't play travel ball, who DON'T goose it in at 95 w/ no killer slider, are taken earlier in the draft?

Christopher Crawford: Well, first of all, thanks for lying about me being a great follow on Twitter. It's a good question. I do think that teams keep the amount of bullets a pitcher has left in the process of making a selection, but at the end of the day, teams can't get out of their own way. It's one of the reasons I named my articles "some projection left." Finished products just aren't sexy. They probably should be.

TimLandry (Montreal Quebec Canada): In my Yahoo league I am building for next year and thereafter. My roster is Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Josh Harrison, Brock Holt, Brett Gardner, Dexter Fowler, Gregory Polanco, Coco Crisp, Carlos Ruiz, Travis Snider, Kyle (and Corey) Seager, Jason Heyward, Carlos Correa, Desmond Jennings, Javier Baez, Matt Harvey, Carlos Martinez, Jimmy Nelson, Edinson Volquez, Jonathan Paplebon, Chris Heston, Noah Syndergaard, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, Jose Berrios, Matt Cain and Sean Doolittle. 8 keepers allowed. Comments? Suggestions?

Christopher Crawford: Keep Matt Harvey eight times.

Alex (Anaheim): Better career: Judge or Bird?

Christopher Crawford: Aaron Judge is the better player, with all due respect to Bird.

Brian (Orlando): Is Mallex Smith the future CF for Atlanta? What kind of impact can he have at the big league level?

Christopher Crawford: I don't think so, I have too many questions about the tools outside of the speed. Maybe he becomes the good version of Michael Bourn, but I think fourth outfielder who can impact the game with his wheels is a more likely scenario.

John (CT): Bradley Zimmer is off to a strong start. Has hit five homeruns. Power was a question mark when he was drafted. What's your take on his upside and probable level in the majors?

Christopher Crawford: I'm a fan, and I still can't believe he fell to Cleveland that "late" in the draft. There's a chance for five above-average tools here, and scouts rave about his acumen for the game. He's going to be a good one.

Shawn (Cubicle): How would you compare Carlos Correa to Manny Machado in terms of the power they each have (or had) as a 20 year old? We know Machado is still developing his power in the MLB, do you see the same type of circumstance for Correa or does he have more power now?

Christopher Crawford: The power is still developing for Correa too, but it's far more advanced than I thought it would be at this point. If there's one player in baseball right now with the potential for plus-plus hit and power tools, it's Correa.

ball hawk (spaceneedle): Thanks for the chat, Chris! After a tragic start to his season, Baez seems to be picking things up stats wise. What do you see as his ETA and what position will he play in Chicago? I've got a bet with a friend that he pushes Kris to the OF and he bet Javy goes to the grass. Thoughts?

Christopher Crawford: It seems that Baez gets off to slow starts every year and at each new level, so we shouldn't really be surprised that he didn't start out on fire -- that and the sample size is small. As for his position, I think he plays on the infield, likely second base when/if the Cubs move Starlin Castro. He'll come up at some point this summer if he continues to progress.

hdub (the bleachers): do you see boston turning to their AAA kids anytime soon? Rodriguez up first when/if they do since hes on the 40 man? thanks

Christopher Crawford: Well, I think we've seen some of it with Swihart, and now JBJR. I would say Rodriguez gets the first crack at a rotation spot -- especially with Owens struggling to throw strikes -- and I imagine Rusney Castillo will be up sooner than later, too.

Indy (Indianapolis): Is it better these days to have a AA team in your town than a AAA team? It seems like players barely play their top prospects in AAA anymore unless they struggle at some point after AA

Christopher Crawford: My personal preference would be a Double-A team, I think it's the most interesting of the levels from a development standpoint. Triple-A is always going to draw more as you get the big league rehabbers or the guys that you recognize from TV for the average fan, but AA is where it's at, for me.

nomo (cheap seats): How much of Puigs setback should be on him and how much falls on the team? Puig seems like the type that will try to push himself quickly. Shouldnt the LAD medical staff slow things down? thanks

Christopher Crawford: It's tough to say without having firsthand knowledge of the situation, but I think you go 60 percent team, 40 percent player. There was no need to rush him, at all. That division sucks.

LouBro (Kanada): Anthony Alford has been a pleasant surprise for the Blue Jays farm system. Double, Walk or Strikeout seems to be the way his at-bats end. Do you expect that strikeouts to cut down after some more experience, and the doubles to turn into some homers? (I've read that he gets a lot of hustle doubles more so then line drive doubles). Thanks! (P.S- That Hoffman curveball though)

Christopher Crawford: Some, but the strikeouts are always going to be a big part of his game unless the swing cuts his length and the recognition skills improve. I was a big fan of his in high school and am glad to see he's performing well, though. And yes, that Hoffman curveball.

padremurph (Los Angeles): Any news on why Hunter Renfroe has been slow out of the gate this year?

Christopher Crawford: Nope, just a small sample size. He should be fine. Consult your physician before taking this though.

Matt (KY): Chris, looking for a leg up on my dynasty league. Two open minor league slots. Ketel Marte, Phillip Ervin, Jomar Reyes, Darnell Sweeney Jose de Leon, and Alex Reyes are all availabe. Whom should I add if I'm looking for superstar upside, regardless of ETA/position?

Christopher Crawford: Definitely take Reyes, and then....I'd go Marte. I've been impressed with what I've seen, and there's a 50/50 shot he can play shortstop.

Rainn (Lexington): What grade would you put on Alfaro's usable power? His raw power is highly touted but it has yet to really show in game action - do you think his hit tool will ever let the raw power play up?

Christopher Crawford: Right now the in-game power is probably 50, maybe 45 or fringe-average. The approach has improved some, but there's still a ton of work to be done before he can contribute at the big league level. He's one of the more disappointing prospects of the last couple of years, to me.

Alex (Atlanta): Dustin Peterson is off to a hot start in High A for Atlanta. Can he be an impact hitter in the big leagues?

Christopher Crawford: I guess that depends on your definition of an impact hitter. There's above-average raw power in his bat -- not quite as much as his brother, of course -- and there's pretty good feel for hitting here for a 20 year old as well. I could see him being a competent starter, but I don't see a star, if that's what you mean.

JT Smooth (Loveboat Cap'n): Where does Funkhouser's stock rest at the moment? I've been reading rumors of the Twins having interest, but number 6 overall seems a little early, no?

Christopher Crawford: That's where I had him going in my mock, and there's still a pretty good chance he goes in the top 10. There are serious concerns about the consistency -- particularly with his command -- but when he's at his best he's 65 fastball, 60 slider and 50 plus change, and there just aren't that many pitchers in the class who have that potential. It wouldn't shock me if he went anywhere from 4 to 13.

Jason (Mpls ): In terms of national league teams position on adding the DH, the Cubs have to be more for it than others correct? They have the money to pay for an extra bat every year. But, they also have two young bats raking in AA without any defensive upside. Is it possible they are hedging their bets on this happening, or just don't care about defense?

Christopher Crawford: To answer your first question, yes, the Cubs appear to have two guys who are potential DH's in Vogelbach and Schwarber. I don't think it's a "don't care about defense" thing though. I think they just recognize offensive value. I'm still not convinced Vogelbach is a big league player though.

Brian (Annandale ): How much do, or should, teams look at ballpark when assessing FA hitters and the draft?

Christopher Crawford: I think it has to be a factor. I don't know how it can't be a factor. As a guy who looks at it from the scouting side, I think my job is to figure out if those numbers a hitter puts up in the Cal League are sustainable, or if a pitcher is struggling just because he pitches in a bandbox. But you have to consider the surroundings.

AMetsGuy (NYC): Is Gavin Cecchini turning a corner? He seems to finally be showing the average hit and power tools that combined with average-ish defense at short led the Mets to draft him.

Christopher Crawford: I may or may not but definitely am writing something that should be up this week that involves Cecchini, but...maybe!

Or (Denton): Hey, Chris! Any thoughts on Jon Harris? I've seen him linked with the Rangers at #4, which seems very high, but in this draft...

Christopher Crawford: In terms of pure stuff, I think Harris is right up there with everyone but Dillon Tate in this draft. There are four pitches that flash plus, and he's still got some projection left (See! we can't get away from it!) The delivery gives me concerns though, there's quite a bit of effort and the arm action isn't the cleanest. I've heard him associated with lots of picks in the top 10, and it'd be an upset if he got past Tampa Bay with pick 13.

Luhnow (Houston): Right now, if I said Correa is better than Buxton, do you still think I'm crazy? The gap between them is not even close.

Christopher Crawford: I still take Buxton, as there are more ways he can impact the game right now than Correa. But the gap is definitely....the opposite of widening. Closing. That's the word I wanted. Closing.

msimotes (Kalamazoo): Just traded Julio Teheran, Drew Hutchison, and Brad Miller for Carlos Gomez, Jung-Ho Kang, and Henderson Alvarez in a keeper league with only 1 year left however...who won?

Christopher Crawford: You did. America did.

sdsuphilip (San Diego): Do you have any thoughts on Zech Lemmond? Can he be a 3 if the arm holds up to starting?

Christopher Crawford: That's a massive if, but in terms of pure stuff I think that's what he is. Unfortunately, he's a Rice pitcher who already has had some arm issues, so if I was San Diego I would fast-track the arm in the bullpen.

The Dude (Office): What are your go to meals at A)Italian B)Mexican and C) Chinese Restaurants?

Christopher Crawford: Italian I like to go with Gnocchi, Mexican...man that's tough; I like so much, but I'm a sucker for a good burrito or enchilada. Chinese? Jajangmyeon. If it's there.

utdavidson (Austin): What are your thoughts on Franco's impact this season with Phils?

Christopher Crawford: Very, very little. I don't think Franco is a starting big leaguer. I realize he's been much better this year, but again, small sample size and he's repeating the level; he should be better. I hope I'm wrong, but I just can't see him making much of an impact.

msimotes (Kalamazoo): What is a realistic package that the Mets would have to give up to get Starlin Castro?

Christopher Crawford: Hmm, good question. Probably looking at one of the "big" arms, Nimmo or Conforto and another B- prospect? Maybe I'm overrating Castro. Or underrating him. I doubt I'm rating him perfectly.

Kevin (Eugene, OR): Do you see Gareth Morgan starting the season in Everett?

Christopher Crawford: Maybe not starting there, there's a LOT of work that needs to be done. But at some point he should see Everett.

Brian (Annandale): Folloup: when referring to "ballpark" I meant targeting players who fit thier home big league trams park.

Christopher Crawford: Ahh, interesting. Again, I think it goes into the decision, yes. The Rockies for instance likely are going to have concerns about a pitcher that doesn't get plane and/or is flyball heavy, for instance. Offensively I don't think it comes into play as much -- at least not with the draft -- but yes, everything gets factored.

Shawn (Cubicle): What do you see as Rusney Castillo's upside offensively? 10-15 HR and 30 SBs? or is that light on the power and heavy on the steals?

Christopher Crawford: I think that's about right, actually. Maybe 15-20 instead of 10-15, but I think that's your best-case-scenario with Castillo.

Rob (Providence): Mazara is off to a great start. Does he get a call up this year?

Christopher Crawford: Probably not this year, I don't see the reason to rush him. Boy he can hit, though.

Mitch (Iowa): Better career: Jeff Hoffman or Alex Reyes?

Christopher Crawford: This is a fun question. I probably would go with Hoffman because there's slightly more upside, but I want to see Hoffman show the top of the rotation stuff for a stretch before I go "all-in" on him. Also Reyes is really good, but Hoffman wins in a close decision.

MP (KY): Jose de Leon, Alex Reyes, Jeff Hoffman - One is an Ace, one is a mid-rotation arm, one is a reliever... Where are you placing your bets?

Christopher Crawford: Just reverse the order of names. Hoffman the ace, Reyes the mid-rotation, de Leon the reliever. I think all three start though. You can't make me do this, MP!

The Dude (Office): This year's draft class is said to be pretty weak. Is it weak on impact talent at the top or is the depth of the class weak, or a combo of both?

Christopher Crawford: It's both. There's very little star power, the collegiate pitching is as bad as it's been in a decade, and the prep pitching is even worse. The only saving grace is the middle-infield, but there's no Troy Tulowitzki here, either.

Mike F (NYC): How far away is Aaron Judge? Have the Yankees given any indication?

Christopher Crawford: I mean they haven't told me directly, but based on how he's performing in Double-A/his advanced skill-set I think you should see him up in the spring of 2016.

RatedRookie (Atlanta): Carlos Correa: June or September debut?

Christopher Crawford: I would have said neither coming into the season, now, I sort of lean towards a summer call up -- assuming he has no development glitches in Fresno, and he shouldn't have any development glitches at Fresno. Again, the Astros have no need to rush him, but he's pretty darn close to ready.

The Dude (Office): The Professor like toolsy Dominicans, Moore loves plate discipline, what is your prospect fetish?

Christopher Crawford: I would have to say that toolsy Dominicans with plate discipline would be my fetish. There, I appeased everyone.

Christopher Crawford: And on that note, I must attend to the real world. Thanks for the chat, everyone. I always enjoy these.


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