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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday August 21, 2015 1:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.

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Wilson Karaman: Don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. Because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are. And we're here, chatting away like it's Friday. Up, up, and away...

matzabal (Denver): The Rockies are dead last in QS with only 36 in 106 GP. The only pitchers who have given them a 50% or better shot at a quality start are Chad Bettis (8/13 - hurt) and Chris Rusin (7/12 - free agent). Jon Gray looks like Eddie Butler 2.0. Other recent top picks Kyle Freeland and Tyler Anderson can't stay healthy. Please give me some reason to hope that the Rockies pitching won't be as terrible next season.

Wilson Karaman: Man, I dunno if I can do that. I wouldn't be so quick to give up on Gray just yet (or Butler, for that matter). Even with diminished stuff since his college days I think Gray can still be a solid enough Major League starter, at least in a neutral context. Butler's shoulder issues seem uncomfortably Bedardian, and I think they have contributed a good bit to his stalled development. Always going to be awfully tough for them to lure FA hurlers there, and their best arm in the minors right now is either a recently drafted high schooler or Antonio Senzatela, who's 20 with a very good fastball but lagging secondaries.

Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): It seems like first-half-of-2014 Jake Thompson showed up this year instead of second-half Thompson, and his fastball velocity is back to early 2014 levels. This leads to a general question, although Thompson seems like a timely example considering the Phillies actively wanted him: are there clues that scouts look for when trying to evaluate whether pitchers that "find" and then "lose" new velocity are likely to regain their embiggened stuff?

Wilson Karaman: This is one of the reasons seeing a guy multiple times, ideally at different developmental moments, is the best way to evaluate players. Having reference points for mechanics, physical development, etc. can help scouts answer a lot of those questions. Arm action and drive are two of the biggies that I look at first if I note inconsistencies like this.

Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): With the changes you've mentioned Brett Phillips making this year (shorter swing that lets him to get to his power without sacrificing the hit tool, full grade increase for speed), are we looking at a realistic outcome being a 50 hit, 50 power center fielder now, with the arm still the carrying tool?

Wilson Karaman: Phillips really impressed me with his growth over the past calendar year, and I think that's a reasonable outcome for him, yes. He's an aggressive hitter, and his on-base profile may be more AVG-dependent than you'd like. But it's a solid, well-rounded skill set.

Jake (San Francisco): Joking, but only sort of -- should the A's consider moving Ike Davis into the bullpen for the rest of the season? His bat certainly hasn't merited a roster spot this season, and the A's bullpen has been terrible this year.

Wilson Karaman: I was marginally excited about Davis as a potential AL-only and deep, dark mixed league contributor heading into this year. I wrote a whole freestyle piece about him and everything! But yeah, gotta figure he's just about out of rope.

Anthony (Toronto): How much of a prospect is Conner Greene?

Wilson Karaman: By all accounts I've seen he's taken a couple solid steps forward this year. Projects as a potential league-average starter, so certainly belongs on the radar in deeper dynasty leagues at this point and he'll likely be discussed in heavy rotation for our Blue Jays top 10 this winter.

Jpilgrim (Jenks): Wilson, thanks for the chat. One name that I have heard nothing about is, Pedro Avila. After amassing 87k in 59.2IP is this someone to put on the radar? I'm judging off of the stat line; so I have no idea what kind of stuff he has.

Wilson Karaman: I don't either, unfortunately. He did that in the DSL, so we won't really get a read on what that means (or what the stuff looks like) until he comes stateside, presumably next year. But yeah, that's a pretty impressive statistical splash onto the scene and I'd file the name away, sure.

markdavo4 (Australia ): Any thoughts on Hicks v Khris Davis in a dynasty league? I own hicks & have been offered Davis and must admit it has stumped me.

Wilson Karaman: I've always been a fan of Hicks, and the pop he's shown this year has been an interesting development. Davis kind of is what he is, and while his mediocre AVG/power combo has value I think I'd rather gamble on what a full year of Hicks might look like.

Mike (TX): Making a playoff push in a H2H dynasty where all I need are SP bodies to go for Wins, K's, and QS's ... Would I be crazy to drop Danny Duffy for John Lamb?

Wilson Karaman: Not at all. You ostensibly take a hit in Win potential, but that's never something to plan transactions around. Never been a big fan of Duffy's, as he's a big WHIP liability and now he's not striking guys out either. Wrote up Lamb when he was called up, interesting post-hype guy: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=27219

Vincent J Cannato (The Point): Are you buying this Joe Kelly revival? Three good starts in a row...might he be a good late season pick up for a desperate manager?

Wilson Karaman: Well, he's worked in his sinker more during that stretch, using it almost exclusively instead of the 4-seamer in his last start. So I guess it's possible there's something going on here, but no, that rabbit hole is much too deep to climb out of after just 3 starts.

smelmoth (The 'Ville): How you feeling about Jake Arrietta's arm going forward? That many sliders can't be good for you but he's been so very very good. Just a roll of the dice?

Wilson Karaman: In general I worry about him about as much as any pitcher, maybe slightly more for the reason you cited. Maybe one day we'll get lucky and just like HITf/x data this year all the biometric modeling stuff teams are starting to do with their players will become publicly accessible, but until then I feel like trying to get too far into predicting pitcher injuries is a futile effort. Except in your specific case, where I think Arrieta is the riskiest pitcher in the league and you should trade him to whoever in your league has Bartolo Colon immediately.

kiper90 (Rochester, NY): Hey Wilson. Are there any Low Minor players whose name is not yet widely recognized and you are looking to keep an eye on as the season concludes to possibly jump on for a name breakout next year?

Wilson Karaman: Leaving out the '15 draftees, Victor Robles is probably the biggest helium guy of the year. Our Mark Anderson just tossed three 7's onto his ledger, linked below. Javier Guerra and Amed Rosario are a couple interesting shortstops. And while another one, Jorge Mateo, has gotten a lot of attention for his wheels, Rockies A-ball CFer Wes Rogers is a dude with a similar skillset & more polished hit tool. Potential SB beast. Jomar Reyes is a fan favorite of our scouting team. Amaurys Minier & Lewin Diaz in the Twins system are also both interesting raw power bats. Arms you'll be hearing a lot more about include Anderson Espinoza, Franklyn Kilome, Michael Kopech (though he's suspended), and the now-in-High-A Francis Martes (whose CB is just disgusting).

Matt (Ann Arbor): Which one of these guys has the best chance at top 50 next year in shallow AVG, OPS, K/9 league? Sano, Polanco, Franco, Hicks, Carrasco, Syndergaard. Thanks

Wilson Karaman: In order of probability I'd go Sano, Syndergaard Carrasco, Polanco, Hicks, Franco

Alex (Baltimore): Have you heard anything on Ariel Miranda of the Orioles? He has been pitching well since he has come to the states and has moved through 3 levels to AA.

Wilson Karaman: Well, he's a Cuban lefthander, so inherently I'm on board. Stuff certainly sounds interesting, reports have had him reaching the mid-90's with a good splitter. Chance he can help the O's down the stretch, more likely he's in the mix next year.

ayzzya (Norf Norf): Any thoughts on Andrew Stevenson?

Wilson Karaman: Tucker Blair caught him recently and noted the toolset, yeah. Sounds like an intriguingly fast guy with a sense of how to hit. I wouldn't get too caught up in the early numbers, as he's a polished college bat from a big program beating up on A-ball pitching. But he'll be a guy that should be on the board in the back half of the first round of dynasty league prospect drafts this winter. https://twitter.com/TuckerBlairON/status/630115505655971840

Alex (Anaheim): What do you think of the proposal to not guarantee playoff spots to division winners?

Wilson Karaman: You're barking up the wrong tree asking me about more playoff innovation. I'm a stodgy old crank who wants two divisions in each league, a league championship series, and a World Series. It's a marathon, damnit! It's supposed to be a marathon!

bob (portland): Blake Snell thoughts?

Wilson Karaman: Big step forward this year. Command will still get loose, but he's got a legit arsenal. Org source spoke very highly of him when the name came up a couple weeks ago.

Chuck (E Cheese): Kiley put a 55 FV on Jorge Lopez. What's his upside? Do you see back of the rotation or more?

Wilson Karaman: Our own Jeff Moore tossed a 5 on him this time last year, noting the motion and potential if he found greater consistency. And he's appeared in juuust about every Minor League update since, including the last one: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=27261

He's taken that next step forward, and based on that a 55 sounds wholly appropriate.

Rusty Pehkker (San Fran): What the h*ck is wrong with austin wilson? That dude looks like he should have 25 bombs this year.

Wilson Karaman: Had an exchange on Twitter with our swing guru Ryan Parker a while back about this, and he called it the worst swing he saw in Spring Training. "Stanford swing" guy, has never figured out how to tap into his power. Wasn't a fan myself in a limited look earlier this year.

csa55 (Houston): Thoughts on Francis Martes and A.J. Reed FV changes from the beginning of the year to the present? Specifically what's Martes' ceiling?

Wilson Karaman: Two of my dudes. I think Reed was typecast a bit coming into the season, and when I saw him out of the gate at Lancaster he was getting beaten by velocity. That changed in a hurry though and he's just been an absolute monster. I'm bullish he'll be a middle of the order hitter, wrote him up here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=238

And there are a few guys like Martes every year: live-armed rookie ball guys who turn a corner. I'll have a full report up after I see him again next week, but he's got two potential 7's, a third that can be average-or-better, and flashes an ability to harness the arsenal. It's TOR stuff, big time ceiling.

Manny (being Manny): Can Andrew Benintendi show this kind as he moves up the latter?

Wilson Karaman: Benintendi will be an interesting follow, yeah. Really popped up on everybody this swing, MLB orgs included, as it was unclear until pretty late that he was draft-eligible. Lots of skepticism given the out-of-nowhere ascent, but so far so good in his transition to wood bats & pro arms. Mark Anderson liked what he saw a couple weeks ago: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=27275

Mark (Seattle): Leonardo Molina, Magneuris sierra and Gilbert Lara were hyped on BP last winter, do they justify the hype after this minor league season?

Wilson Karaman: All of them are soooo young and soooo far away. All still working on refining the most basic elements of their skillsets. They all have intriguing baselines, which is why they're known names already, and it's far too early to get off any of their respective bandwagons. FWIW, I've heard nothing but good things about Lara's work ethic and the tools are probably the best of the bunch.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Wilson, Do you see Mazara getting a call this Sept? What do you expect to see from him in 2016?

Wilson Karaman: Be interesting to see if Texas goes that route, yeah. They've been extremely aggressive with him so far, and all he's ever done is respond to the challenges set before him. Wouldn't surprise me if he got a cameo introduction, or if he took to MLB pitching quicker than most young hitters in an extended look next year.

Peter (new york): Could yo compare Jhoan Urena VS Jomar Reyes? whos the best hitter and higher ceiling of both of them

Wilson Karaman: Per our scout team reports, it's pretty close. Reyes projects as the better hitter, with impact potential in the box offsetting some loss of value from potentially moving across the diamond. Urena's not without his intrigue, especially given the aggressive promotion schedule. Jeff Moore wrote some nice things about him, and he's more likely to stay on third.

Urena: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=222
Reyes: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=195

Jonathan (Pittsburgh): I have to cut my dynasty roster I'm loaded with prospects I can only keep a few of these prospects so how do you rank them for future production and positional importance aj reed o Arcia n Williams j winker j bell b Phillips l Brinson c Frazier j profar ? Thanks

Wilson Karaman: Pure production: Frazier, Reed, Williams, Bell, Winker, Phillips, Brinson, Arcia
Positional adjustment: Frazier, Arcia, Williams, Phillips, Brinson, Reed, Winker, Bell

I'm leaving Profar out of this because I have literally no idea what to expect if/when he ever gets back on the field. Huge amount of lost developmental time missed coupled with scary longterm concerns from the injury.

matzabal (Denver): What consensus top 25 prospect are you most down on?

Wilson Karaman: Not quite a top 25er, but we had him 27th and that's close enough I think. I'm the low guy on Tapia around here. He's got otherworldy hand-eye and can really hit, but he's extremely aggressive in his approach and everything else in the profile is still quite raw, with very little demonstrated growth over the first half of the season. He's a Major Leaguer, and he'll be valuable in fantasy leagues (especially assuming he stays in COL), but I haven't seen an impact player. Full report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=230

Cal Guy (Cal): Who would you rather have as your 1st baseman of the future, AJ Reed or Josh Bell?

Wilson Karaman: Reed for me

Matt (Portland): Yo, will Amed Rosario have any fantasy value or is he more glove than offense? Thank you

Wilson Karaman: Definitely more glove than bat. Jeff Moore raised some pretty significant concerns about his ability to make consistent hard contact in his looks earlier in the year. Should be an MLB regular thanks to a plus defensive profile though, and depending on the depth of your league that in and of itself gives him fantasy value as a shortstop. Report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=223

Wilson Karaman: Alright y'all, that, as they say, is that. Thanks for all of the questions today, it's been real. Catch you on down the trail...


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