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Chat: Matthew Trueblood

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday May 04, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Matthew Trueblood.

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Matt is a writer at Baseball Prospectus. Ask him whatever you want, he's open.

Matthew Trueblood: Let's do this.

travis (milwaukee): Hi Matt, who is the best hitter in the league and why is it Colin Walsh?

Matthew Trueblood: This is a Good, Smart question. I would say Colin Walsh is the best hitter in baseball, because I really really like him. (Also, at last check, he had the biggest gap between career batting average and OBP. Ever!)

Billy Bong Thornton (Skokie, IL): What would your plan have been for the Braves after 2014?

Matthew Trueblood: Stay the course, spend smart money to shore up the Braves' fairly weak starting rotation, and try to extend Jason Heyward. That Heyward/Freeman/Simmons/Upton/Gattis/Teheran/Kimbrel unit they had in place was something. Shame they blew it up before they needed to.

Jeb (Denver): I've been a huge fan of Jeff Hoffman. Ever since he got drafted I've been following him. I always thought he'd be more of a strikeout pitcher but so far his numbers in the minors have been less than expected. He seems more of a ground ball pitcher now. I heard that the Jays (before trading him) changed his arm action to more of a cross-fire action. Is this the main cause of lesser K's for Hoffman (I always thought he would have a higher K-rate) and do you see him increasing his K's in the future? Thanks

Matthew Trueblood: I've heard and observed all the things you listed here. Wish I could offer more insight. Wilson Karaman and Chris Crawford see a fair amount of PCL action, I think, and are certainly more up on prospect stuff like this.

Monkeyepoxy (Texas): Is this new, 24% strikeout Joey Gallo real

Matthew Trueblood: Unfortunately, sounds like we have to wait even longer to find out. Really want to see Gallo get an extended look and stay healthy, but I can't speak with much confidence on how real the changes are until we see him try to implement them in the Majors. Too much you can get away with in AAA.

someguynamedkenn (New Jersey ): Your tweet about "every team having a Michael Conforto" has become something of a meme at Amazin Avenue. I know you've spoken about how your were wrong about him before, but I was wondering what, if anything, in particular has impressed you about him since he came up to the big leagues? What about him do you think you, and most of the scouting and prospect writing community, missed in you initial evaluations of him?

Matthew Trueblood: What I missed: that he would be an average or better defensive outfielder, and that he would find this much power. What others missed: You'd have to ask them. The consensus seems to be that he has outdeveloped the tools scouts saw in college. I wonder if guys with short, strong swings, like him and Schwarber, have their potential disguised somewhat by college ball and the bats there.

Billy (Beantown): Thanks for the chat, Matthew!! Rafael Devers appears to be struggling at Hi A Salem. Can you shed any light on his performance to date?? Any long term concerns surfacing?? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Matthew Trueblood: I can't; sorry. I've seen the numbers, but don't know enough about the player or the actual play to speak with authority. Ask Craij?

Matt (MN): The Twins starting rotation should be....who?

Matthew Trueblood: Assuming good health all the way around, I'll say: Santana, Hughes, Berrios, Duffey... Gibson. But Nolasco's pretty much neck and neck with KG for that final spot. I know how bad Gibson has looked so far. Not ready to give up on it, but the time is coming.

JR (CT): This year's Victor Robles?

Matthew Trueblood: Let's not assume there will be one. If there is, though, I don't know who he is. Better question for the prospect team.

AJ (Phoenix): Josh Donaldson or Giancarlo Stanton in a dynasty league (keep forever)?

Matthew Trueblood: Torn between my reservations about Donaldson's age and profile, and Stanton's injury issues. I'll take Donaldson.

glworld (hawaii): Your thoughts on Mike Zunino...this time for real? Tearing up the PCL...new mindset...is this the Zunino we originally expected?

Matthew Trueblood: The Zunino you expected is dead. The Marlners developmentally killed him. Is this a Mike Zunino who could still find his way to providing significant value as a great framer and a Miguel Olivo-type hitter? Sure. I think that's still possible. Any digression from linear development for catchers is a problem, though. They seem to have the toughest time sustaining a recovery from a major setback.

masonpi (Ohio): Getting starting pitchers to exhaust themselves is valuable. The Pirates currently consider an 8-pitch at bat to be a success (almost) no matter the outcome. Q: Is there a point where it is best if a batter uses as few pitches as possible? Is the negative value of an extra out ever less than the positive expected value of keeping that pitcher in for x more pitches against better batters?

Matthew Trueblood: I wonder this all the time! Great question. I am sure there is. I deeply doubt that we're able to find those points game-to-game reliably enough to make that actionable. In other words, love the idea, but no. All things equal, pushing pitch counts higher is better.

John (CT): What odds do give that Ken Giles is the Astro's closer by the end of the season? He's got to better than what we've see...and there are no reports of injury

Matthew Trueblood: I wrote today that there's a real chance the Astros are or will be sellers. For that reason alone, I think there's a good chance Giles closes down the stretch. But eesh. I don't know what to do with him. Velo is still there, so I guess I say wait it out. For now.

Frank (Brooklyn): Moustakas 2016 numbers: .280/28 HR/90 RBI...that fair? he seems to have made great strides last year plus. what do you attribute that to?

Matthew Trueblood: I attribute it to the very real threat of totally busting out that he faced as of the end of 2014. He needed to make some major changes, mechanically and mentally, and he has. I still don't *love* the offensive profile, and I'd take the under on 28 bombs, for sure. But he's been williong to reinvent himself as a young hitter, which is laudable.

yancyeaton (Fort Myers): You have the time and resources to build your ideal sandwich. What are you making?

Matthew Trueblood: I'm a simple man. Give me a homemade bun, a good Polish sausage, onions and brown mustard.

Matt (Chicago): Where is the best fit for Tim Lincecum? With the recent Danks DFA, I would be intrigued if the White Sox took a chance on him, though they do have options in Johnson/Turner/Gonzalez in AAA.

Matthew Trueblood: I don't have the necessary information to answer the question, y'know? Whoever likes what they see the most at his showcase should sign him. I suspect he's going to be a low-impact addition, wherever he goes. The new Johan Santana! (not the good way)

Scott (of Lincolnshire): Can you wax poetically about Javier Baez's defense? I know his bat bring thunder, but wow I had no idea his glove was this elite! He has to play 3rd base daily, and Bryant moves to LF, which brings to question where do you play everyone else. BAEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matthew Trueblood: It really is remarkable. He's so creative, such a playmaker, on the bases and in the field. A freak. We all undersold the tools surrounding his offensive game when he was coming up. Not just the acumen with the glove, but the sheer speed and arm strength, all 60 or better.

alcrisafulli (Washington, DC): Look, I know MLB adheres to tradition and history, but can you think of one good reason why the NL Central can't be called "Anal Scent Roll" for at least one season?

Matthew Trueblood: I... I really can't.

Craig (DC): Victor Robles - top prospect next year after his start to this year?

Matthew Trueblood: It's May 4.

Dan (LA): Are you worried about Anderson Espinoza's slow start?

Matthew Trueblood: It's May 4. (And I didn't even know about this one.)

Danny (Philly): When is JP Crawford up? Better then Lindor?

Matthew Trueblood: Probably after the trade deadline? And I don't know. I don't know Crawford well enough. I'll take Lindor, for now, given how well he's played in his young career.

Ben (Florida): Next big prospect nobody is talking about?

Matthew Trueblood: Totally biased Cubs farm system follower opinion incoming: Donnie Dewees. I love college bats.

Jared (Beneath Subway Parking Lot Bunker): What's holding Matt Chapman back from becoming a very good offensive player? He clearly has a ton of pop--what is it about his swing that makes the hit tool lag behind? What kind of utility do you think his swing could have at the major league level?

Matthew Trueblood: Nothing is holding Matt Chapman back. Matt CHapman is a bad MFer. He's just not going to have a huge hit tool. Does other things well enough to be plenty valuable.

Alex Gordon (Kansas City): What's up with me? I can't seem to make contact this year, so my K% is through the roof.

Matthew Trueblood: I don't know what's going on there, and it's a scary bummer. Pitchers are being more careful with you, you're responding by swinging less, but the swing just looks really out of whack, timing-wise, so the whiffs pile up. Some corner OF and LHB especially just lose it, fast. Hoping that's not the case here.

someguynamedkenn (New Jersey): What do you think Dan Vogelbach becomes? I've been fascinated by him since his High School Power Showcase performance.

Matthew Trueblood: He's been wonderfully assiduous about getting on base throughout his pro career, letting the power development wait while he's honed an approach he can make work against ever more advanced pitching. Now the power seems to be coming, which, look out world. Vogelbach is the Cubs' top trade chip this summer, for my money.

Cal Guy (Cal): Matt, Has the industry been overrating Giolito? He may not be as ready as initially thought. Does he come up in September, or at all, in 2016?

Matthew Trueblood: All we have are four rough starts right now, facing AA hitters for the first time. Let's see what happens by midsummer before we evaluate.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Matt At season's end, who has more saves: Hector Neris, Tyler Thornburg or Dalier Hinojosa?

Matthew Trueblood: Hector Neris is the best pitcher in this group. I can't make myself care at all who compiles the most saves.

Alex (Anaheim): Is an Aaron Judge callup coming any time soon?

Matthew Trueblood: Hopefully! I want to watch that guy play! (But I wouldn't be surprised, and please hold your eye rolls, if it's not until late June, so as to avoid any risk of him being a Super Two.)

Dan (Toronto): Any new estimation on the Super Two date this year? Very curious when we'll be seeing Mr. Glasnow.

Matthew Trueblood: Here's a relevant question. I do not have the answer. Would guess it'll be a little earlier than usual this year, but that's just a guess based on cursory run-through of factors that affect it, I can't say it's systematic. Mid-June is still a good bet.

JM (CT): Matthew, Just read your piece on the mess in Houston. Tough to believe the 'Stros are where they are at the moment considering how much talent is there. What happened to the pitching staff? Gomez is, unfortunately, no surprise. Give the Mets credit for backing away.

Matthew Trueblood: I think the pitching staff was always thin, even last year. It's just been a matter of injury and underperformance making things look even worse than they are.

Silverback38 (VA): What are your thoughts on Pirates starting pitching prospect Mitch Keller?

Matthew Trueblood: He sounds like a protagonist of heavily whitewashed 1990s TV. You probably want more insight, though, so I recommend talking to one of our prospect gurus. I'm the furthest thing from that.

someguynamedkenn (New Jersey): Any thoughts on the following prospects/young players? Dilson Herrera Gavin Cecchini Dom Smith

Matthew Trueblood: Herrera and Cecchini, to the best of my knowledge, are future utility men, maybe second-division starters. I like Dom Smith more, though he obviously has some boxes left to check before he looks like a future impact player. Jeff Paternostro knows so much more than I about Mets prospects. Bret Sayre, too. Ask them!

BC (Urbandale): What more/ how long does Jake Arrieta have to keep this up for it to become the most dominant run in baseball history?

Matthew Trueblood: I'd like to see more strikeouts, if I'm gonna put him next to Pedro or Maddux or Kershaw. He seems to be exceptionally skilled at creating soft contact, but the Cubs have also just been a marvelous defensive team throughout this stretch of dominance. If Arrieta keeps up just this way all season, I'll buy that he's just that unique, and that the team effect is minimal, in which case he gets really close to Pedro.

Scott (of Lincolnshire): Dan Vogelbach. DAN LIGHT TOWER VOGELBACH! Can we get Danimal 300 LMB ABs on the bench next year?

Matthew Trueblood: Look, I'm all for Vogelbach, DH-in-waiting, backup first baseman, bench bat. But unless someone can convince the Cubs to carry 11 or 12 pitchers, instead of 13, it ain't happenin'.

Luke (LV): Can Michael Fulmer be any better than an SP3?

Matthew Trueblood: Maybe! I think that's his realistic ceiling. But that's still pretty good.

Rich (San Antonio): Is Andy Ibbanez really good prospect or is he doing well because he is playing against younger talent?

Matthew Trueblood: I'm certainly not hopping on a hyper train over 100 PA by a 23YO in Low A. But he had a little prospect buzz on him prior to signing, then saw it fade, not unlike Aledmys Diaz. Let's see where the season takes us.

Timmy (Texas): What is up with Profar? Numbers look good at the plate and I haven't seen any errors whenever I check the boxscores. Is he gaining steam with his potential? Any word on the defense or bat so far?

Matthew Trueblood: Sure, all reports sound good so far. I just want to see him stay healthy. If he does so, and if the Rangers don't suffer an injury that opens the door for him, gotta think he's a trade chip come July. A Really Good one.

Bob (Cincy ): Who are your early top 3 draft prospects ?

Matthew Trueblood: Logan Shore went to high school with my brother- and sister-in-law. I'll take him.

Towel (Sacramento): Dan Mengden ate up AA over 4 starts and his first start in AAA was electric. Thoughts on him ?

Matthew Trueblood: The Astros must wish they hadn't traded him (or any of a half-dozen other arms). I don't know. I like the scouting reports I've read, I like the mustache. I'm not in love with any of it. COuld be a solid, cheap mid-rotation guy, though.

Kyle (Denver): Nick Williams isn't dominating and demonstrating any power. Any reason for concern?

Matthew Trueblood: Absolutely. I live in a constant state of suspended panic over Nick Williams. I don't know why. Just love guys with big hit tools, hate the way so many fail because of problematic approaches. (But I think he'll be fine.)

Scott (of Lincolnshire): It's Star Wars day. The Cubs-Pirates score is: C-3 P-O

Matthew Trueblood: And ding, dong, the Lucas Museum in Chicago is dead! The force is in balance, or some shit.

LucasDad (Mpls): Florida State League. Twins homers are going nuts over Stewart, Gonsalves, and Jorge, and overall pitchers there. Tell me are these numbers something to be excited about, or are they pretty much league aided?

Matthew Trueblood: Never go by numbers in the FSL. But Stewart and Gonsalves offer plenty to like. If they're healthy and runnign sub-6.00 ERAs, be excited about them (in a Twins way) (not too excited).

John (San Francisco): Matt Olson struggled against AA pitching last season, and through his first 58 at-bats in AAA, he's hitting .172/.290/.379. When do the A's hit the panic button?

Matthew Trueblood: Never, over Matt Olson. Never hit the panic button because a prospect is flaming out. A lot of them just do that. I'm not especially surprised to see Matt Olson struggling.

Lastings (Queens, NY): Are you a fan of Amed Rosario? What kind of ceiling does he have?

Matthew Trueblood: I'm a fan, I guess. Not his number-one fan or anything. Ceiling? He could be Alcides Escobar. I really don't think he will be, but he could be.

someguynamedkenn (New Jersey): Is it possible the Astros are this bad? Have their recent small sample size struggles adjusted your expectations for them in 2016?

Matthew Trueblood: Yes. My article today is about this. Their struggles are very real, and even if they're a reversible fluke, they're a problem. Worst third-order winning percentage in the AL.

Charles (Lafayette): Where in the world is Bregman going to play? The stats show him doing very well at his double A assignment.

Matthew Trueblood: Third? Short, with Correa at third? I dunno. It'll be interesting. Imagine the gargantuan haul they could get for Altuve if they remain in the cellar into trade season. And if Bregman is what he looks like, they wouldn't even miss him that much! Crazy? Sure. But could be cool.

Frank (Queens): Soler is not living up to the prospect hype. Is it too soon to judge?

Matthew Trueblood: Yes. Very much so.

misterbob (pa): What are your thoughts on Roman Quinn and Dave Dahl? Can Quinn hit enough to be a major SB factor at the top of the Phils lineup, and can Dahl overcome the injury issues to be a 5 tool guy for the Rockies? Thx.

Matthew Trueblood: No, Quinn won't hit enough. Could be a nice little second leadoff hitter, I guess. Dahl, I have much more faith in. Too soon to get giddy, but Dahl isn't far from the big leagues, or from making a difference there.

Dorian (Austin): Jorge Ona still hasn't signed. Does he truly have valuable skills when he arrives?

Matthew Trueblood: I don't know.

Jim (high school): What are your thoughts on Mike Clevinger? Does he get a shot at rotation if Anderson blows up again this weekend?

Matthew Trueblood: I think he might. I like him quite a bit, hope he gets a prolonged look soon.

DJ (Dallas): Rougned Odor has been leading off the past few games. Do you think this will be permanent (assuming he performs) and do you think he will continue on his pace for 20+ home runs? Thanks for your thoughts.

Matthew Trueblood: Who knows, with lineups? Especially that of the Rangers, which could undergo so many changes. But I'd guess he's there for a while. And yeah, his pop is real. Could hit 20, given his home park, though I don't know if he'd do so in Oakland or even Anaheim.

Bagger (Toledo, OH): Rookie Davis & Jarlin Garcia have performed well in AA. What are the chances of seeing them in the major this year ?

Matthew Trueblood: Fair chance in each case, but under 50 percent. Given their organizations' positions, I'd guess each will get some time in AAA starting in June, then maybe come up late in the season. Davis, in particular, might be needed just to help fill in. The Reds' pitching staff is SUCH a dumpster fire.

Matthew Trueblood: Alright, cats and kittens, thanks for coming. Had fun.


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