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Chat: Jeff Long

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday July 30, 2015 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jeff Long.

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Jeff Long: Alright guys, let's get this going. A little strapped for time but I'll try to answer all your questions!

kiper90 (Rochester, NY): Hey Jeff. I know they are forever away but any opinion and thoughts on Francis Martes, Franklyn Kilome, & Luiz Gohara. Any chance their potentials could be a role 6 starter?

Jeff Long: Two things. First I'm not a scout, so I'd defer to our prospect team here. Second is that when it comes to pitching prospects I tend to lean towards big stuff, especially breaking balls, in valuing guys. So, with that said, I think your order makes some sense. Martes has the highest upside to me, with Kilome likely having a higher floor. Gohara is a ways away but the raw stuff is impressive. Martes has the best shot at being a role 6 guy (or better) but they're all intriguing arms.

Brent Honeywell (Charlotte): Jeff, what should I make of my year so far? Am I a legit prospect that has the potential to lead the next wave of Rays pitching prospects in front of Snell & Guerrieri? Or do I just have a cool pitch lower tier hitters can't touch?

Jeff Long: I really like Honeywell because he's got a solid arsenal of decent offerings including the hinted at Screwball. The real test will be what he does against AA level competition but he seems like a guy who, with some advances in his pitchability, could move from a mid-back guy to a reliable middle of the rotation arm. That said, ask the prospect team for a better answer!

What Do We Have? (Far Away From the Show): Jeff, how would you rank these 3 pitchers: Jairo Labourt, Michael Kopech, & Keury Mella? Any thoughts and opinions on them possibly having a role 6 potential?

Jeff Long: Same caveats as before, but this is tough. Kopech is the best arm for me ... electric arm and decent secondary that's continuing to show improvement. He went 6th (!) in our re-draft: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=26655. Labourt seems like a reliever to me because of command issues and a non-existent change. Jeff Moore wrote him up recently: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=304.

Mike (Texas): Super-pumped as a Rangers fan for Darvish and Hamels to lead the rotation (whenever Yu comes back, maybe mid-year). I'm concerned about Martin Perez and Chi-Chi Gonzalez - they both are really talented, but this year Chi-Chi was lucky and Martin less so. Do you think they can perform like mid/back-end starters next year?

Jeff Long: I think the biggest problem that both guys have had is that they're giving up a lot of contact, even on pitches out of the zone. I think they still have some learning to do in terms of how to attack MLB hitters, but the raw talent is there for them to succeed. Just takes these kids some time more often than not. Back-end should be safe for next year with the chance for a mid-rotation guy between the two.

Trout-Farm (LA): What do you expect out of Jason Werth the second half of the season? Has his skill set deminished too much to be a meaningful contributor?

Jeff Long: Man, Werth's stat line is ugly, huh? I think he's probably better than this, but it'd be hard not to be. He's still hitting a lot of line drives, but not hitting hard line drives (his average batted ball velocity is 387th in MLB according to Baseball Savant. That's a problem, and possibly driving his low BABIP.

Ron (Texarkana): What do you make of Taylor Jungmann- is this what was really expected, or is it more of a peak in potential?

Jeff Long: I don't think Jungmann is THIS good, but the ceiling for this has arguably always been there. The biggest thing right now is that he's not walking a ton of guys which he's struggled with in the past. He's also been lucky, low BABIP against and high strand rate, so those things are probably combining to make him look a bit better than he is. Seems like a 3/4 to me.

TexasDeac10 (Houston): PECOTA loves Astros OF prospect Jason Martin, he's having a great year at 19 in the MWL, and he has some prospect pedigree as a HS draftee in 2013. And yet, he's never mentioned in any conversation about Astros prospects. What gives?

Jeff Long: Well, PECOTA like him because Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley are two of his top 3 comps right now, and that's going to give you a rosy projection. I'm honestly not familiar with him as a prospect, pre-draft anyway, so I'm not sure what the consensus on him was. The reality is that HS guys take such a long road to the show that he might need to perform like this for a season or two before he starts getting more recognition.

tbwhite (San Diego): Why should I believe that Francisco Lindor won't end up being Elvis Andrus Part Deux ?

Jeff Long: I'm the wrong person to ask because A. I'm no scout, and B. I was never super high on Lindor. I think he'll still be a well above average defender at short who hits decently but not superbly. Elvis Andrus, it turns out, can't hit OR play good defense. So I think Lindor is already better than that because his defense is so strong. He just needs more time to adjust to MLB pitching and hopefully he'll make more contact, become a strong doubles hitter.

BirdsEyeView (Baltimore): Statcast has predominantly focused on great plays and route efficiency for defense. When should the public expect to see lists of terrible plays in order to assign weight to the metrics?

Jeff Long: I wish I knew. Luckily MLBAM granted me access to some pitching data, but I haven't heard (nor would I) the plans for further roll out of data or insights to the public just yet.


PS - Jairo Labourt who we discussed earlier was just dealt as part of the David Price deal. So that's fun.

Julio (Texas): What do you think of Lewis Brinson's recent burst onto the scene? I'm afraid that it's all the Cali League though...there's a lot to like in Brinson's game, right? What kind of performance do you see him having in the MLB?

Jeff Long: When it comes to hitting prospects, I firmly believe in riding guys with the best hit tools. Brinson seems like a guy whose hit tool is really exploding right now; he's just barreling up the ball so much lately. The hit tool was always kind of a question with him, but now he's had 450 PAs of doing nothing but hit, so I'm in big on him.

padremurph (Los Angeles): Looks like Hunter Renfroe is back on track. Does he still profile as a middle of the order power threat? Can Padres fans expect to see him up in September, especially if Upton is moved today or tomorrow?

Jeff Long: Renfroe has a lot going against him. He'll be playing in PETCO which, well, you know. He's a corner outfielder so the bar is higher there. He's a very aggressive hitter in a time when hitters are striking out more than ever before.

That said, he's got a loud bat and some serious defensive chops in right field. I think the Padres should bring him along slowly with maybe a cup of coffee in September and a full-time gig next Spring. That said, he shouldn't be a lock to make the Opening Day roster, he's gotta prove he can hit MLB pitching before he's given anything given his recent struggles.

Alex (Anaheim): Do you expect any major moves from the Yankees by tomorrow?

Jeff Long: Depends on what you consider major. I think they probably bring someone in to help support the roster, but I don't think there are too many major moves out there really. Someone on twitter suggested Mike Leake could be a fit. He wouldn't cost them top prospects, so that'd be a fit for Cashman's unwillingness to move his top prospects right now.

Steve (WI): I know it's hard to project guys in rookie ball, but Gilbert Lara ... how much power potential there? (Brewers fan ... looking for some good news)

Jeff Long: Man, there's a lot to love in that bat! Lara strikes me as a guy who has a 20-25 HR ceiling, with probably a league average BA/OBP. If he sticks at SS I think he has the makings of a star, but his more likely future is probably "just" a well above average third baseman. Ask some of the prospect guys though, I haven't seen him in person so I'm going off second hand info.

atomic dumpling (idk): Which prospects have been helped the most by the latest trades?

Jeff Long: I think Jose Peraza will find himself in a really good spot if he does indeed end up in Los Angeles with the Dodgers (is that trade finalized yet? Jeeze). Rob Kaminsky, already a solid pitching prospect has now found himself in one of the best pitching orgs in baseball with Cleveland. Aaron Brooks probably goes from a fringe rotation guy to a legit 4/5 in Oakland.

Those are the biggest ones that stick out to me.

Ron (Texarkana): I've read a few scouting reports that place Kyle Schwarber's potential hit tool at a 70. How realistic is that number?

Jeff Long: A while back Kiley McDaniel pulled MLB numbers to show what the scouting scale would equate to in terms of actual production. Don't have it in front of me, but want to say that a 70 hit tool was roughly a .300 average. If we use that benchmark then I think you could absolutely make the argument that Schwarber's ceiling is a 70 hit tool, right? I mean, it might not be the most realistic outcome, but it's easy to see that it's possible.

Jim (DC): Michael Taylor has 3 homeruns in his last 4 games and has seemingly shortened his swing to a more compact, quick stroke. I feel like he has been forgotten in the league, but am I crazy to think he could fully develop into a 20-25 player annually during his peak years? Thanks for the chat!

Jeff Long: This is a great question because Taylor seems to have made some mechanical changes that address his biggest problem: the hit tool. I think you're right in that people have forgotten about him, probably because he's still not making enough contact to really make a big splash in MLB. That said, if this shortened swing helps him make more contact without giving up 50% of his power, then a 20-25 HR player is probably in there. It won't be pretty, but that with a .250 average and above average CF defense is a valuable player.

Jim (Baltimore, MD): You should never hit prospects or ride them. With Toronto loading up, does it make sense for the Orioles just to sell and restock themselves for 2016 or 2017 even though they are just 1 game out of the wild card?

Jeff Long: If you ask me, which you did, I think the worst thing the O's can do is stand pat. The playoffs are a crapshoot (to a large degree) so you either push all your chips to the center of the table, or you fold and slowly build your stack for another run later. To me, the O's team with the best shot at winning a World Series is in 2017 (or 2018, or whatever) when Gausman, Bundy, Harvey can compliment Schoop, Jones, and most importantly Manny Machado in his prime. I would've moved guys like Davis & Wieters (who they have capable replacements for already) and brought back AA-level prospects, but that's just me. Standing pat is bad because it doesn't increase your odds of winning now, and it probably hurts your 2017 odds.

Dragonbreath (Gurnee IL): Good day to you sir, Jeff! Thaks for the chat as always! Please enlighten this National leaguecentic guy as to the haul of prospects the Phillies acquired for Hamels. Only name I was aware of before the draft is Jorge Alfaro, my limited knowledge was that he has a good hitting tool, with some very nice pop, catcher Nick Williams is new name for me, I hear he is a toolsy outfielder, How do you see the prospects projecting for the Phillies 2016 and beyond, specifically the two I mentioned, also the other guys? Also do yo buy into that medicals issue regarding Gomez's hip or do you also feel that was just buyers remorse by the Mets? Thanks again! Keep rockin' it!

Jeff Long: Alfaro can really hit (and throw!) but there are big questions about his ability to barrel the ball. He K's a lot and some wonder if he'll hit enough to get to that power. That said, the bar is super low for catchers.

Williams is a guy that I really like. He's shown continued improvement with the bat and most scouts I've talked to think he'll hit. The issue Williams faces is that he's a corner outfield guy, so there's a hig bar for him to clear.

Also, send a tweet to Kate Morrison from our prospect team, she knows the Texas system better than just about anyone: https://twitter.com/unlikelyfanatic

RatedRookie (Atlanta): What does Alex Reyes need to do (or continue to do) to close the margin between he and Giolito? Does Reyes have ace upside?

Jeff Long: I'm a huge Giolito fanboy, so I'm a bit biased. To me the difference between the two is that Giolito already has an MLB-average changeup, and he's got a bit more refined command right now. He has top 15 pitcher in MLB upside. Chris Mellen threw an 80 ceiling on him recently: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=308.

Reyes is a great talent, but probably has a ceiling more in the 15-30 range in MLB. That's terrific, and he could easily be a 1/2 for most teams in the game, but Giolito is truly a transcendent talent. If Reyes improves the change and continues to refine command, then we're talking about him nearing Giolito.

Jim (Baltimore): What happened with Marcel Ozuna? He seemed like a breakout candidate.

Jeff Long: Ozuna is a guy who I think had one good year and blew up, but then reality set in a bit. In 2013 he exploded in like 50 games at AA, just crushing the baseball. The probelm was that pitch recognition was an issue for him, he rarely walked, and his power wasn't quite that good. So reality sets in and his average comes down, the power dissipates a bit, and he's just sort of a decent player instead of a good one. There's still potential there, but he has some serious work to do to realize it.

Matt (Dallas): Hi Jeff, can you name me some great buy-low candidates for dynasty leagues? Thanks!

Jeff Long: Anyone in the Indians'rotation that someone in your league is willing to sell. Especially Kluber (who isn't really low, though some think he is) and Carrasco. Pineda might be another, depending on your definition of buying low.

As for hitters ... I think Encarnacion, HanRam, and Beltre all make some sense as buy low candidates. Could also gamble on Justin Upton being moved to a more hitter-friendly park.

agetting (Queens): Better MLB Career? Noah Syndergaard or Lucas Giolito?

Jeff Long: Career? I'm going to go Giolito. I think this one is close, but Giolito seems, to me anyway, to have a better feel for the game which helps with the back half of a guys' career. Granted, things can change immensely in just a few months, so you can't go wrong with either.

If you ask PECOTA, I think it gives Syndergaard a huge (5+ wins) edge in WARP through 2024 though, and Nate Silver (not to mention BP's stat team who maintains the PECOTA system) is probably smarter than me!

Jeff Long: Great chat everyone, thanks for the questions! Check out my column over the next few weeks for some sneak peeks at some Statcast data!


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