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Chat: Tucker Blair

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday May 22, 2015 1:00 PM ET chat session with Tucker Blair.

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Tucker Blair is part of the BP Prospect staff. He is truth.

Tucker Blair: Happy Friday! I'm drinking a Neuro Bliss and ready to roll. Let's talk about Prospects.

MonkeyEpoxy (Texas): Have you or any of your colleagues gotten eyes on Nick Williams? It's still pretty early (167 PA), but it has to be borderline miraculous what he's done with his walks and strikeouts, what with being on pace to pass last year's BB total sometime next month and cutting his K rate almost in half. Has he made any noticable adjustments that can explain it, and if this shit is for real, how high does he jump up on prospect lists?

Tucker Blair: A bunch of us saw Williams in Spring Training, and I am sure a few have seen him this season, as we have eyes on Frisco. It's not a miraculous transformation, it's just development. Williams' plate discipline has obviously been dissected and discussed in high doses, but I have always thought it was going overboard. We are talking about a player with tremendous barrel control and an aesthetically pleasing swing. I have always been one of the highest on Williams' bat, and I look for players that can hit rather than take a walk. A player can learn the approach and gain a better understanding of the strike zone, but it's very difficult (if not impossible) to grant a player the necessary tools or skills for hitting. You can fix mechanics to an extent, but ability gets you the farthest.
In Spring Training, I noticed a more patient Williams. It was a small sample size, but he was taking borderline pitches that he no doubt swung at last year with Myrtle Beach. It seems like this approach has moved with him to Frisco. Is it sustainable? Time will tell, but he has always been a top 101 prospect for me and I will continue believing in the bat.

Alex (Anaheim): Do you see the Yankees promoting Refsnyder later this season?

Tucker Blair: I think he makes it to New York eventually, but the defensive concerns are real. He hasn't progressed enough to safely play him there every day, but I don't think it's a lost cause. Right now, I don't know how you trust him, and the Yankees are likely hoping to get a little more out of Stephen Drew. The Yankees obviously have a glaring hole at 2B, so Refsnyder's bat is tempting to plug in ASAP.

bdiamond (CT): Bradley Zimmer: potential 5 category stud or overrated college player hitting weak competition?

Tucker Blair: Zimmer has 5 potential average or better tools. Classify that in the stud category. I don't know if I see the power being more than average due to his wide base stance and a lack of leverage/torque in the swing, but he has plus bat speed and plus raw power. The ingredients are all here for the power to play. I really liked what I saw in ST, and the reports I've received so far have been strong. The defense is another area where there are differing opinions, but I think he can play CF for now.

teddy (lexington): I'll be in greenville tonight, anything I should keepan eye on at the game?

Tucker Blair: For starters, check out my reports on the following players:

Rafael Devers http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=217
Javier Guerra http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=214
Michael Chavis http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=220
Mauricio Dubon http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=213
Dedgar Jimenez http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=257

One thing I am specifically intrigued by is the progression of Devers at 3B. How is the footwork? Is the first step lagging and lacking the instinctual necessity for a ball down the line? Is it choppy and causing him to be out of position when he attempts to field a ball? Those were my issues when I watched him play, and could ultimately push him to 1B if there are not improvements. I'm likely on the lower end of the spectrum with his defense, but I am not alone. I've talked with scouts about his defense and the opinion has generally been split.

Oh, and check out that guy Yoan Moncada. Unfortunately, I missed him by a week.

awg (bklyn): Grant Holmes = top 30 prospect next year if he cuts his walk rate a wee bit?

Tucker Blair: It is possible. Loved what I saw from Holmes in Spring Training. Recent reports have him working primarily on FB command, which isn't surprising for a prospect in the lower minors. The ingredients are all there for a pitcher with three potential average or higher offerings, with the FB/CB both potentially plus offerings. He has the durability and frame I want in a SP. I am optimistic.

Justin (Chicago, IL): I hate to be the guy on the internet complaining about prospects who don't walk, but it is a cause for concern with Tim Anderson?

Tucker Blair: No, I wouldn't get too overworked about it. Remember that Anderson lacks the baseball experience that a typical prospect his age would generally have at the level he is playing at. That matters. Baseball is often about repetition, and Anderson is currently an untapped gold mine. Once the structure and foundation has been built around the raw tools, then I think it's acceptable to start worrying about the approach. We discussed Anderson in length on Episode 3 of the Raw Projection Podcast: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=26380

Neuro Bliss (Arizona): Tucker, why do you like us so much?

Tucker Blair: Refreshing beverage, carbonated, low calories, reduces stress, and provides concentration?

Five Tool Drink #Bliss

Chad (Chicago): Is Orlando Arcia a top 5 SS prospect? Does he have 15 HR upside? Top 30 prospect on mid-season lists?

Tucker Blair: I would slow the hype on Arcia, but I do think he is a talented prospect capable of playing plus defense and implementing an average hit tool. I do not think there is 15 HR upside, the raw power is below-average and the swing is not conducive for power (linear/doesn't always barrel the ball hard). Arcia isn't that level of prospect for me, but he's definitely a solid player, especially due to the positional value.

Johnson (Los Angeles): Mason Williams, albeit with a distinct lack of power, seems to have made some strides this year. Any change in the scouting reports coming back on him this year, or is this a dead cat bounce?

Tucker Blair: He certainly has a better statline this season so far. I haven't heard any improvements, and also haven't seen him yet. Last year was a mess. He looked disinterested and the mechanics were very inconsistent at the plate. There has always been raw ability there. Maybe last year was a wake-up call, but I doubt it. I don't think he has enough hit tool to provide any value as a regular in the bigs, and the raw power isn't enough to be a carrying card.

Shawn (Cubicle): Memorial Day beer recommendations?

Tucker Blair: Dale's Pale Ale from Oscar Blues has long been my Memorial Day Beer. I have no clue why, but it's a good grilling beer.

John (CT): When do you see Roughned Odor returning to second for the Rangers? Or is he a lost cause?

Tucker Blair: Definitely not a lost cause. Major League Baseball is hard. Odor is 21 years old, which is about the age level of someone in High-A or Double-A. He has the barrel control and contact ability, along with some sneaky pop. I think he will be fine.

Festivus313 (Phoenix): Glynn Davis keeps hitting in AA. Do you see any shot of an everyday guy there or is it still a 4th OF ceiling?

Tucker Blair: I don't see an every day guy here. 20 grade power, maybe 30 if you believe the plus speed allows for his gap power to play up. Either way, I don't envision a player able to make enough sufficient contact. He still flails at secondary offerings and the swing can become unbalanced and inconsistent. The speed and defense still give him a shot at a 4th OF role, but he is not a guy I am putting chips on the table for. Good find for the Orioles regardless, as he was an undrafted signee.

Eric (atlanta): Thoughts on Jesse Winker's struggles?

Tucker Blair: I am a little surprised by the numbers, but again, this is a 21 year old in Double-A that has been bitten by the hype monster. I think he has the barrel control and contact ability to succeed. I have talked to scouts that think he needed more time in the minors than originally anticipated, but nobody is writing him off because of a slow start.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): How soon does Aaron Nola get called up to the bigs?

Tucker Blair: He could be up right now, and maybe even last year (although he threw a lot last season and that wouldn't have made much sense considering the Phillies were not competing). It's not going to be long, I would imagine. He was one of the more advanced arms when selected last year, and the stuff is honestly better than some give credit. I think he can be a mid-rotation guy that has 3 above-average to plus pitches. How many pitchers in the minors have an arsenal like that, along with plus command? The answer is "Not Many". I am really excited to watch him pitch in the majors.

kiper90 (Rochester, NY): Hey Tucker. Do you have any Low Minor, high ceiling prospects your a fan of and are looking to jump on before their stock gains recognition this season?

Tucker Blair: I have seen quite a bit of the Low-A level so far (Hagerstown, Delmarva, Greenville, West Virginia, Greensboro), and all of my reports can be found in our database. Mostly all of the prospects on those teams have reports filed already, although I still have a few left that I need to submit this weekend.

I think Jomar Reyes and Jonah Heim of the Orioles have already started to gain some buzz, and the Greensboro Squad had a ton of young talent, albeit they were a little rushed to Low-A. Isael Soto was one specific player I was impressed with, and I think it would be very foolish to write him off because of a terrible start at the Low-A level at age 18. I wouldn't be surprised if I see him with Short-season Batavia later on in the summer, where he likely could/should have started. That being said, I don't mind the aggressiveness of the Marlins. It's good to give prospects a little taste of higher competition.

Jomar Reyes - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=195
Jonah Heim (via C.J. Wittmann) - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=200
Isael Soto - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=196

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Who do you like better? Trea Turner or Wilmer Difo? Mike Rizzo may have to answer that question at some point.

Tucker Blair: I think Difo is a better player all around, but I like both players. Turner's swing can get long but I think there is enough to work with there. The speed/defense are plenty enough to stick at SS.

My colleague C.J. Wittmann has you covered on Difo. His report is about as up to date as you can get: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=203

Mike (Dallas): Who's the toolsiest prospect in the history of the game? Anyone with like a 70 hit, 80 power, 70 speed, 70 arm, and 80 defense?

Tucker Blair: I think you can create this player on MLB The Show.

Byron Buxton has a chance to be the closest to this in the minors currently. I highly doubt it's at the level mentioned, but there is a reason he has been so hyped for his minor league career.

Jeff (Chicago): Billy Mckinney has to be a breakout candidate so far, no? Destroyed A+ to start the year and is more than holding his own against AA in his first 10 games or so at that level. Problem is, I think he's solid all around, but does not have an elite tool. Can he be a first division regular? Is a 15/10 season with maybe a .270-.280 AVG possible for him in the future?

Tucker Blair: It's been a good season, for sure. And I think you nailed the description. I don't see a first division player, but he's a major leaguer. He lacks the athleticism/speed to play CF, but the hit tool will play in the majors. Can he be a Ryan Sweeney type of player (maybe with a little more power)? I see it.

oakiegu007 (Ny ): What kind of ceiling does correa have at this point? Is it different than when the season started, despite the SSS.

Tucker Blair: His ceiling is one of the best offensive SS in the game. A premium bat at a premium position. I don't think it's any different than when the season started. He's been pumped pretty high up everyone's list. Correa is one of the best prospects in baseball.

Devin Mesoraco (Cinci): Will I ever be healthy? or just continue to tease with an AB here and there?

Tucker Blair: Weird situation. Catcher health and durability is a giant concern of mine when evaluating players. It can truly affect multiple facets of a players' game, such as blocking, framing, and any general movement. I have been following another injury case with the Orioles' prospect Chance Sisco. They put him on the DL. The hip impingement issue sounds like a DL move, and I am not sure why it hasn't happened. Maybe I am missing something here, but I don't know.

matzabal (Denver): If you were GM of the Rockies what would be your first move -aside from trading Tulo- to get the rebuild underway? And who would you be targeting at pick #3?

Tucker Blair: Fun question:

I would look into trading Carlos Gonzalez, and think there are plenty of teams that could use him like the Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, etc. The return could be something of significance.

I have a hard time seeing Brendan Rodgers fall below #3 on the board. He's my choice if they are still there.

Viktor (DC): Some have hyped up Jomar Reyes as the next big thing. Yes, he may have big time power but if he can't hit, then he will not be the next Gallo, Sano, etc. Thoughts?

Tucker Blair: If the hit tool ends up falling short of the 50 I put on it, then he doesn't have the other tools to put him on the level of Gallo/Sano. I think his average bat speed and double-plus raw power is a pretty good combo though, and I am optimistic on the hit tool. I just don't see positional value in the glove, as he basically has no shot to stick at third base for me. Too big already with clear room for growth, and the footwork is choppy. Luckily, his bat will play anywhere on the field if it reaches his ceiling.

Paul (DC): Joey Gallo's been a beast at AA since returning from end of spring training foot surgery. Small sample size or not, what do the Rangers do with him the rest of 2015?

Tucker Blair: I think they let him play at Double-A. There really isn't any reason to rush him. We know the power is going to play, but the defense and hit tool can surely continue development in the minors; especially if he is now being positioned in LF. Maybe you see him later on in the year.

John (NY): Would the Dodgers consider trading Grant Holmes for Dillon Gee?

Tucker Blair: Seems a little steep

Melissa (San Francisco): What can you say about the trio of pitchers the A's have down in Stockton: RHP Dylan Covey, LHP Dillion Overton, and RHP Kyle Finnegan? They have put up okay numbers so far this season, but each is pretty old A-ball.

Tucker Blair: Dillon Overton - FB has been around 88 mph this year. Lacks the plus stuff but there's a chance for a backend option here. More of a command/feel type that has a good CH where he replicates the arm speed.

Dylan Covey - Usually sits around low 90's. Command/control has been erratic. Not sure I see a starting profile here but it's an intriguing arm.

Kyle Finnegan - Has FB velocity, with the other stuff lagging behind. Another interesting arm but likely not a start.

BD (DC): Nats are amassing lots of Catcher prospects. Can you rank: Kieboom, Severino, Reetz, and Read?

Tucker Blair: For now:

Kieboom
Severino
Reetz
Read

I've seen all of them quite a bit outside of Reetz.
I think Kieboom offers the best chance to provide consistent value in the majors as at least a backup, and his makeup is 80-grade.
I like Severino's defense, but am not sold on the bat.
Reetz is just a long ways off, but he could be the best of the bunch in the long run.
Read has been intriguing this season for Hagerstown. fringy glove, above-average arm, bat is just ok. Don't see the power in-game and the bat speed is average at best.

TylerDurden (Paper St.): I'm in an NL Only League and can only hold on to one, Zach Lee or Aaron Nola. Who do I keep for the rest of this season?

Tucker Blair: Aaron Nola, and I don't have a damn clue about Fantasy. And our Fantasy team can attest to that.

R.A.Wagman (Canada): In the amateur draft, do you always go BPA even if that is a catcher and you have a system loaded with ignorance?

Tucker Blair: I would always go best player available. Think about it from a wide perspective:

Development can often take 3-6 years in the minors, and that's just too long of a time to be worrying about positions of need. I think if you have two players you value the same, then you can select the position of need. But rarely if ever would I sign off on taking a player because I am loaded with that position already. C and SS are moving and shifting off the position all the time anyways.

Mark (SD): Who has the highest upside: Brent Honeywell or Reynaldo Lopez? What are each of their upsides?

Tucker Blair: Reynaldo Lopez. Looking at a potential #2 SP if everything clicks.

We will have some Reynaldo content on the site soon, I promise. Here is some video to hold you over until: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3R_NBln7wA

Honeywell has been a great story as well. Deep arsenal with potential for three plus pitches, and a mid-rotation starter. Rays are excited about him, I know that for certain.

John (CT): How good is Andrew Heaney? Is he experiencing typical young pitcher growing pains?

Tucker Blair: The other day I had a scout text me the following. "Heaney has been overrated from the jump".

The command issues and the release point issues have been my concerns in the past. Still plenty of time to iron them out, but I tend to agree with the mindset that he may not be on the level that some have placed him. Still a good pitching prospect either way.

Tucker Blair: Time to run. Thanks to everyone that joined in, and apologies to the questions I didn't get to. Make sure you are listening to the Raw Projection Podcast, as we have been covering the hell out of Shortstops the past week. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=26380


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