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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday April 25, 2016 11:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.

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The questions get hotter late at night with fantasy and prospect dual threat Wilson Karaman.

Wilson Karaman: Turn your lights down looow / Never ever try to resist, oh no / Let my chat come shining in / into our lives again

MonkeyEpoxy (Tex): How much longer do you think Texas lets Andy Ibanez slaughter Sally pitching?

Wilson Karaman: Sorry for the fashionably late arrival, my daughter was nighthawkin' tonight. Well with a player like him there are often other factors involved that'll play a primary role in his schedule, chief among them assimilation. High Desert also has Demeritte at second along with De Leon, Profar, and probably Josh Morgan at some point to get reps there. The MI depth in that org is pretty impressive.

GeneMcCaffrey (Fort Collins, CO): Not to pick on you personally but I can't believe that in the umpire stats there are uncounted columns of numbers, none of which ask the most important questions: how often does this guy call a ball a strike, and how often does he call a strike a ball? That's the fundamental ump skill. Without it the other numbers have no context.

Wilson Karaman: All good. The stats team a while ago made the decision not to offer umpire pitch-calling stats out of deference to the position. I can get with that, those dudes take enough crap as it is.

Kristen (Canada): Who do you see moving up to occupy the top tier of Rangers position prospects once the big-3 of Brinson, Mazara, and Gallo graduate to the bigs? Guys like Cordell, Ronald Guzman, Andy Ibanez, etc. have looked good to start the season.

Wilson Karaman: I think Tate's start to the year has to be seen as very encouraging. Leody Taveras is only 17, but initial reports have been intriguing. I missed Jairo Beras last week, he was out with an injury, but look forward to seeing what him in the next few weeks, and it's supposed to be an interesting bat. I liked some of the things Travis Demeritte can do, though the hit tool's a big question mark. I'll have notes up on him this week. Michael De Leon's glove is outstanding, and Josh Morgan shows interesting versatility and skills.

Basically you're going to see the system morph from a troika of 60+ OFP guys at the top to one that's more balanced around arms and positional depth.

BC (Urbandale): A little early, but who are the Cubs all- star representatives this year?

Wilson Karaman: All of them? We're talking three weeks here obviously, so this is a terrible exercise. But I think Rizzo and Arrieta are virtual locks barring injury, and Lester and Fowler've been almost on their level. I wrote about Kyle Hendricks as a good fit for his defense recently, and he makes for a dark horse IMO. Heyward, Russell, Bryant, Zobrist...any and all of those guys can and may up and start destroying everything in their path. It's a really impressive collection of talent.

Will (Gainesville): Have you gotten a chance to take a look at Oscar Mercado? Cardinals SS in High-A looking good with the glove and on the basepaths. Any fantasy value here?

Wilson Karaman: We'll have some notes on him shortly, one of our FSL guys caught him last weekend and another is sitting on Palm Beach this weekend. The speed is legit, though he's raw on the bases. Big question will be whether he gets on base enough to use it. Shows some plate discipline, line drive hitter. Alcides Escobar-type potential if it works out? To be continued though, certainly an interesting profile.

Alex (Austin): Edwin Diaz seems to be having a great start to the season in AA. Do you think he can keep this up? Should he be looked at in leagues with under 200 prospects owned?

Wilson Karaman: Yeah he's done some work in the early going. They promoted him out of Bakersfield aggressively last year, I was annoyed I missed him. From reports I've seen though his command's continued to improve & he gets good, late action on his pitches. Definitely a guy to be rostered in a league with that deep a prospect pool, yes.

DynastyOnly (Pennsylvania): 40 man roster Dynasty question. I have very solid SP group, but want to shore it up even more. Thinking of offering Judge, Buxton, and A. Espinoza for Thor. OF consists of Calhoun, Mazara, Grichuk, G. Polanco, Desmond, Sano & Hamilton. Would add Robles with one of the open roster spots. SP consists of MadBum, Sherzer, Sale, Stroman, Fernandez, Hendricks, C. Martinez, Cashner, Shields, Odorizzi, Wacha, E-Rodriguez, with Berrios and Reyes for the future. Am I going for pitching overkill too much? Thinking that Shields and Cashner will be trade bait or waiver wire material if I get Thor.

Wilson Karaman: Man, I'd just a soon use those resources elsewhere given the depth of your pitching staff already. You've already got 9 starters worthy of ownership in even the shallowest of leagues. Obviously understand the allure of Thor, he's a damn dream boat. But you're buying at peak trade value and you're not in need. If Robles is floating around I'd find a way to add him regardless, incidentally.

kallistiapple (Pittsburgh): How long is Bryon Buxton's leash?

Wilson Karaman: Apparently very, very short, as homeboy just got a coach ticket to Rochester (I hear it's lovely there this time a year). I am flummoxed by that decision (flummoxed!), whatever roster context may or may not have been involved. The Twins aren't going anywhere, he should be acclimating to big league game speed.

conjoinedtwins (Toronto): Can you name three AL Only players you'd go hunting for because their early season performance is making them great Buy Low targets?

Wilson Karaman: Hmmm. Moustakas has been killing the ball, with one of the league's best average exit velos and improvement to his already-stellar contact rate. He's a guy that hits his share of fly balls and tends to run a poor BABIP, but the .232 rate he's posted to date doesn't jive with how he's hitting the ball. Won't be buying "low," but he makes for a more solid investment than a fellow owner may give credit at this time and is a "take him off the hands of someone who's trying to sell high" candidate. And then scared to say it out loud, but J.J. Hardy's been hitting the ball better than he has in a long time, may be marginal upside there for the likely rock-bottom price you'll have to pay for him. Given still-low bar for passable SS/MI offense could be an easy option in deeper leagues. And then Brad Miller's been struggling mightily with his approach and expanding the zone, but when he *has* made contact it's been much better than his results. I liked him pre-season, still optimistic he rights the ship: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28395

Pierre (Montreal): The American League catcher situation is DIRE. So few to choose from. Who do you think will give their owners a profit from here on out?

Wilson Karaman: Man, I got a nice vibe going up in here, we really need to talk about this? It's a scene out there, yeah. I have to believe Russ Martin'll be better than this. Appears to be dealing with a back/neck issue, which may help explain his atrocious production. By our metrics Jason Castro's been an elite glove behind the dish, so he should continue getting chances and I think there's at least nominal value to be had there. Wieters should him more? Right? I dunno, I'm grasping here.

Bec (Zebulon, GA): Can you kindly rank these players for expected 2016 contribution? SS RAMondesi KC, OF RCastillo Bos, OF AJudge NYY. Thanks -- I need to cut one.

Wilson Karaman: For this year I'd want Judge I think. Have to believe he'll get a call at some point. Don't trust Castillo's standing or true talent, & Mondesi's still *so* young and raw with the bat.

Ryan (Bracebridge): There are some good rotation arms in the minors right now -- Paxton, Hutchison, Erik Johnson, Manaea, Berrios, etc. Who do you think contributes well this season?

Wilson Karaman: Berrios is the guy to own out of that crew, there's no reason for Minnesota to not give him plenty of innings to get his feet wet this year (right Byron?). He's ready and there should be opportunity there. Never been high on Paxton or Johnson as fantasy assets, and Hutchison...whew, your guess is as good as mine. Manaea may be #2 on that list for me, though the shot-term trajectory/opportunity is less certain.

Thor (AZ): Where do I rank right now in terms of SPs?

Wilson Karaman: You are a top 5 starting pitcher far as I'm concerned, 6-10 range at worst if I'm feeling persnickety. You're throwing impossible pitches right now.

Geoff (Fire Island): Can you rank: Nomar Mazara, Christian Yelich and Kole Calhoun? Thank you man

Wilson Karaman: Oof, that's a tough lil' group right there. If only on account of Mazara's uncertain playing time/big league roster slot once Choo is healthy, I'll begrudgingly toss him 3rd. Love Yelich and would take him above Calhoun.

The Dude (Office): Keep holding Anthony Rendon or is it time to cut bait in shallow non-keepers? Are 2014 numbers (or even close) just a pipe dream?

Wilson Karaman: I'd hang onto him for now, but he's riding pine until the numbers start adding up. Suffering thru a weird pop-up thing so far, but otherwise hitting the ball hard. May be pressing, discipline's out of whack too. He's too good of a hitter if he's healthy.

General reminder: it's been three weeks http://i1120.photobucket.com/albums/l488/IristheVirus17/oh-noes-everybody-panic.gif

Rick (San Diego): Is Wainwright toast or can rust from not pitching last year be a big part of his struggles?

Wilson Karaman: His fastball command, particularly with the 4- and cutter, has been poor and his curveball has been up as well despite normal shape. He hasn't been generating nearly the same swing-and-miss so far as a result, and there's been a lot of hard contact on his mistakes. Patience in this case, I think. Seems to be more a question of making a proper adjustment, and he's a smart, veteran pitcher who'll make it if that's indeed the case. I don't believe I'd run him outside of the choicest of matchups until he shows signs of figuring out a cure for what's ailing him, though.

Jerry (Earth): Hey Wilson. Are there any prospects who wasn't highly regarded entering this season who you are looking to buy stock on before they break out this season? Vice versa are there any prospects your looking to sell stocks on?

Wilson Karaman: I'm sure there are a million on both sides of the ledger, but honestly it's too early to really be making those calls far as I'm concerned. Haven't come away overly impressed from two Grant Holmes starts, what I saw didn't really match what I'd read. Those kinds of things will start to trickle out, but especially with hitter I'm not drawing any conclusions yet.

Leonard (None of Your Business): Mr. Karaman! Got 2 hitting prospects and pitchers wouldn't mind getting your opinion on: Eloy Jimenez & Luis Alexander Basabe; Franklyn Kilome & Junior Fernandez. If you could have only one of the hitters and pitchers in your system who would you choose and why?

Wilson Karaman: Can I cheat and take Jimenez/Basabe? I wrote about both those guys recently as sweet ceiling guys, and given that all four of them are reasonably equivalent degrees of raw I'd want the two bats. Kilome's been a tire fire in his first three starts, but assuming he's okay (haven't seen any firsthand reports yet) I'd probably prefer him as the arm if you HAVE to do 1-1.

Kristen (Canada): Joey Gallo has a K-rate of 24.6% vs. last year's 37%. He has a pattern of dramatically improving his K-rate during the 2nd-stint/season at a level. Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland has started off slowly. If Gallo keeps this up and Moreland continues to struggle, will/should TEX bring Gallo up at some point this season? TEX really could use some power in the lineup.

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, I don't think it's an "if" question for him getting PT in Texas, it's a "when" question (and a "what'll he do with it?" question). The numbers to date in an obviously small sample are certainly encouraging.

David (Atlantis): Any chance you can hit us with some knowledge on some Low Minor prospects from the Rangers system in Ronald Guzman, Travis Demeritte, & Jairo Beras? What about from the Brewers in Monte Harrison & Isan Diaz?

Wilson Karaman: Sure! I filed a report on Guzman last summer, you can find that here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=263

Wasn't a fan. Would it shock me if he turned into a good hitter with moderate power? No. He was really searching for it when I saw him though. Some pleasant elements to his swing, but I didn't love his physicality and he showed no ability to hold himself together when he tried to turn on balls.

Demeritte I just saw and submitted some notes on, those'll be up this week in one of our "Notes From the Field" pieces. Beras was injured during my first look at High Desert, so have to wait on him.

I haven't seen either Diaz or Harrison in person. Was bummed the former got shipped out last winter like 146 other would've-been-great-to-watch-at-Visalia prospects. James Fisher wrote about him last week, you can find that here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28975

The Dude (Couch): Tanner Roark - just an incredible day, or someone to monitor closely? Anyone who Ks 15 has to be on the radar no matter what people thought of him before, right?

Wilson Karaman: I wouldn't go nuts, he was *on* and it was against a Twins lineup that does some striking out. 15 K's are obviously 15 K's though, fun out-of-nowhere performance, His fastballs, particularly his 4-seamer, have been generating an outsized number of swings and misses despite being down a tick and showing virtually the same movement as years past. Color me skeptical those rates hold. Outside of the whiffs though it's certainly worth noting that he's proven capable of limiting hard contact and pitching effectively as a starter in the past. I like him to round out a rotation in deeper leagues.

rpo (LA): Curious how you value Todd Frazier rest of season. I have a 3B surplus and am looking to flip him for a SP or RP- who are some realistic arms I should target? Thank you

Wilson Karaman: Well, try as he might he's not going to post a BABIP under the Mendoza Line all year. He *does* make a ton of (often times weak) fly ball contact though, and he does enough whiffing that he's always likely to be an AVG drain. He'll hit dingers in that park though, and there'll be people on base for him. If you're deep at the position I'd absolutely leverage that for production elsewhere. 3B is top-heavy, you can lean on that for value.

Alex (Austin): What can we expect from Neil Walker for the rest of the season? Is he a sell high, or hold guy right now?

Wilson Karaman: Maybe he'll walk eventually, maybe he won't. At the risk of Bret firing me on the spot, dudes like Walker don't just suddenly up & double their ISOs at 30. If you can get outsized return for him from someone willing to overpay, absolutely do it. Smart money says he's already hit 35-40% of the homers he's gonna hit this year.

RAP (NYC): In a daily league with limits for games played at each position, how much is Jaso's value boosted since he would only play vs Righties? Am I crazy to think a Jaso/Tomas platoon is as good or better than having an OF in the Top 20-30 range in such a format?

Wilson Karaman: Jaso's not an OF? I like him a lot in deeper OBP leagues, but he's not going to hit for any power, and given where you have to slot him that's a big drag.

TrickDaddy14 (Yompton): Hey Wilson - 12 team 5x5 root dynasty, 10 player minor league system... Ian Happ is currently a free agent. I have no one to drop, my bottom few guys are Lewis Brinson, Sean Manaea, Rafael Devers, and Byron Buxton. Would you suggest trying to move a couple of them together for someone to make room for Ian or no? I am very bullish on Manaea, I know he's the easy answer to move. What are your thoughts on my situation and Happ's ceiling? Thank you.

Wilson Karaman: I've liked watching Happ hit since the Cape a couple summers ago, and especially if he stays at 2B as the Cubs seem committed to trying, I really like him as a dynasty asset. I get that you like Manaea, but in a league that shallow I'd strongly prefer Happ.

Mark (Kansas City): What do you make of Trevor May? Not necessarily expecting saves but wondering if he could be valuable for ratios in a deep league.

Wilson Karaman: Yunno, I really like Trevor May. His command's kinda wonky and probably always will be, but especially in relief his 4-seam and CH are both nasty pitches that generate well above-average whiff rates. He's more of a WHIP liability than you'd ideally love for a rates guy, but if you need to boost your whiffs he's as solid a candidate as any middle man to run for a couple weeks to help.

bankeravp5 (Cincy): Need to replace Carrasco...Descalfani or Rich Hill? Also available: Jimenez, Eovaldi...(9 categories--k's, walks, w, loss, whip, IP, qs and shutouts)...l

Wilson Karaman: I didn't want to take this question because it means admitting that Carrasco is on the DL and I dunno if I'm emotionally ready to do that yet. Deep breath....


Okay, I still have no read whatsoever on Hill, and I have him in multiple leagues. He's in line for 2 this week, albeit not ideal draws. I guess I roll the dice with him while we see what Desclafani looks like? I like Desclafani more by a good bit long term though.

Hansel (Computer): Shouldn't the Rangers and the Red Sox swap Blake Swihart for Joey Gallo? Too obvious?

Wilson Karaman: Another question that I'm not necessarily ready for. Look, Swihart's defensive numbers haven't been good since he debuted, but holy hell does having him take reps in left stink of reactivity. He was rushed last year, his fundamentals don't look terrible, and Ryan Hannigan ain't gettin' any younger. I'm way behind tossing Swihart back at AAA to continue developing, but not as a LFer, that's crazy. *End rant* I would not make that deal from the Red Sox side, but I also wouldn't have my potential franchise catcher working on Monster bank shots.

Jack Shepherd (?): Why oh why do the DBacks have no faith in Jake Lamb against lefties? Shouldn't Brandon Drury beat it so Lamb can play everyday?

Wilson Karaman: Nah, Drury's a solid player who can be grow into a versatile asset. I like what they're doing there in the real world, fantasy frustrations be damned.

brad1431 (NJ): What does Tyler White need to do to get some love? Most of the toolsy/atheltic prospects bust, but that is what everyone loves to rate highly on the lists. Why not any love for guys who can just flat hit? I have heard his upside is Youk plus power, thoughts?

Wilson Karaman: Brendan wrote an excellent piece on White today that I'd strongly recommend. I saw White briefly in Lancaster and had a similar takeaway as he did, and I'm a notorious sucker for round men who can hit and do nothing else. The power he's shown thus far isn't consistent with anything he showed in the minor leagues - it's a flatter swing that doesn't have a ton of leverage. In general guys with his profile face longer odds because their road to a successful big league career is much narrower. He doesn't offer much at all defensively or on the bases, it's *all* on his bat.

brad14 (nj): What is your impression of Nomar Mazarra so far?

Wilson Karaman: <3

BWH (CA): wait are you THE Wilson Karaman?

Wilson Karaman: I am! (and hooray, it's officially #WeirdBaseballChat on the east coast! We did it!)

Tino (Lewis Brinson's shoulder socket): Any update on Lewis Brinson's injury? Sounds worrisome.

Wilson Karaman: Per Jeff Wilson he has "mild instability" in the shoulder, which sounds like something in the "a little bit pregnant" mold to me, but his report suggests Brinson's not expected to be sidelined much beyond the 7-day DL stint. We'll see. Instability is no bueno

Juice (Philly): What's your take on Greinke right now? Is it a time to buy if we can snag him on the discount, or is he destined for mediocrity this season?

Wilson Karaman: There is nothing mediocre about Greinke and there never will be. Velo's fine, some inconsistencies in movement, but that's not necesarrily unusual for him. Buy him, all of the buys, do it now.

Justin (NY): Who are some prep prospects quickly rising up draft boards?

Wilson Karaman: I think Nick Lodolo should be getting some serious love, wrote about him here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28823

Crawford likes Ian Anderson, Matt Manning, and Joey Wentz as his top 3 moeymakers so far this spring.

asarule (Lakewood CA): Houston has Marte as their top pitching prospect. How far back is Paulino, who seems to pitching well in AA?

Wilson Karaman: Martes is dreamy, and I'm a big fan of Paulino as well. Wrote him up last summer: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=27414

Was still working on getting post-TJ feel back when I saw him, but he's a big long monster with plane for days and showed surprising repeatability for the frame. I don't think the ceiling's there with Martes, but there's still a lot of potential.

Wendell Rijo (Portland): Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi have been too good for A ball so far. If they keep at it, how long will they be there?

Wilson Karaman: I'd assume both at least spend the first half of the season there. As Adam noted in his write-up this morning, High-A was already an advanced assignment for Benintendi, and same for Moncada. That both are thriving offensively is great, but there's additional seasoning and development that goes into it as well. I'll get a look at Portland when I go back to the homeland for a couple weeks in August, certainly hoping both have made their ways to AA by then.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29003

Jon (Minneapolis): Thought it was very cool that the Twins are wearing purple wristbands tonight to honor Prince, and all of their walk-up songs are Prince songs.

Wilson Karaman: Agreed. I'm a few years too young to claim Prince as a youth-defining artist, but as I got older and started DJing in college and learning about his beats and where he drove things in the 80's, it's hard not to respect him as one of the most influential artists of my lifetime. By all accounts just a dude who loved playing music with anyone that wanted to play music with him for as long as they would play, nothing but love for that approach to life. Big loss.

Wilson Karaman: Alright kings and queens, the waning eye of the fish moon's giving me that come-hither-n'-howl kinda glance. Thanks for staying up late with me.


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