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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday August 15, 2016 10:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.

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It's #latenightchat time with prospect team and fantasy team member Wilson Karaman.

Wilson Karaman: Aaaaaalright now. Thanks for taking time away from Olympicking to hang out for a spell with me. Let's do it again... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7vKI3I50-E

Dan (DC): Just Read about Seth Beer for the first time - WOW!. Is he the next big prospect?

Wilson Karaman: Bunch of Beer questions in the queue, and yes, his freshman year at Clemson was absurd. The swing is direct to the ball, it's got plenty of pull-side loft to its plane, and he shows an outstandingly advanced approach at the dish. It's a prototypical RF profile with some present speed to boot. So it's fair to opine at this stage that he'll eventually head into his draft year on the list of 1:1 candidates. Proclaiming him a top 10 prospect by 2020 is a stretch at this particular moment in time, but that's the kind of talent we're talking about here.

Peter (Ontario): Can Anthony Santander be an every day OF? Having a solid year again after getting rushed to the MWL 3 years ago.

Wilson Karaman: He CAN, sure. Adam McInturff's seen him on the regular this year, and according to him Santander's one of the more improved guys in their system. He was in much better shape in camp, has really started translating his raw power into the usable kind. He's a switch-hitter without much in the way of a platoon split, and it's a nice skill set for a big league role of some kind. How much the power continues to play probably dictates what kind of role that is ultimately.

Jeb (Johnson City): Brandon Woodruff reports say he's holding velocity, 96 mph in 6th, location is impeccable at the moment, different scouts have graded curve and change as plus... when do we say this guy is a legit prospect, upside of #2-#3 starter?

Wilson Karaman: Those secondary grades are a healthy bit inflated over what I've heard on him, but the fastball's legit and he's made extremely impressive strides commanding it, to where a once-assumed bullpen future isn't such a given after all.

Tom (DC): Next Best International Player?

Wilson Karaman: Not that it *doesn't* matter because homeboy's 15 right now, but...for our collective baseball-enjoying purposes, it really doesn't matter because homeboy's 15 right now.

Let's groove on this sick syncopation instead of worrying about it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se7459-cCxE

Truganini (CO): In one of my 5x5 leagues we had three proposed category changes for next season: replace Wins with QS, AVG with OBP and SV with SV+HLD. I was strongly in favor of all three changes, but all were struck down in voting. One of the main arguments my league mates made in keeping with the standard 5x5 model is that "all the fantasy baseball magazines still use the traditional 5x5 for their evaluations." When will we see this shift, and which category changes are most likely to be universally adopted?

Wilson Karaman: I'm glad you asked this question, as I'm a staunch advocate of OBP leagues as rightful standard leagues, and I prefer QS leagues as well. I play in a couple SV-BSV leagues that I like better than straight saves, too (as well as SB-CSB). I'd say to your leaguemates that they should get themselves BP subscriptions, because we put out a ton of OBP- and alternate-format content during draft season, including my column called "The Adjuster" that tweaks our standard rankings for OBP and Points formats. Keep fightin' the good fight.

John (San Francisco): Who would be better at shortstop for the A's next season: Marcus Semien or Chad Pinder?

Wilson Karaman: Semien, and it shouldn't really be a question. He's been the fifth-best SS in the majors by FRAA this year, and with the pop in his bat he's currently 8th in WARP. He's pre-arb and cost-controlled through next season, and he'll be Oakland's starting shortstop unless Billy Beane beanes him out of town for a HAUL.

JoshC77 (Not working): Something caught my eye on Rafael Devers' player page...his overall batting line remains virtually the same this year as it was in 2015 (even with his move up a level). BUT...his FRAA is significantly higher this year....do scouting reports support this regarding a marked improvement in his defense? I know there are some concerns about his ability to stick on 3B, if there has been an improvement, that is a really big boost to his profile.

Wilson Karaman: I'd urge at least a handful of salt grains re: minor league fielding metrics, as field quality, positioning, and general development curves are extremely non-standard. That said, he's started to grow into his body some this year and there's enough athleticism to suggest that he can continue giving it a go at the hot corner for the foreseeable future.

Monkeyepoxy (Texas): Has Ronald Guzman turned the corner? Is he a T100 prospect? Is 60 hit/60 power that far fetched?

Wilson Karaman: I'll admit that I've been surprised by his production. I didn't see it last year (report linked below). He was tinkering to the max with his swing, the physicality/body control/fluidity wasn't there yet, and he really struggled to unlock his pull power and cover the inner third. He looked a *lot* more mature, both physically and with his swing mechanics/approach, when I saw him at the Future's Game last month. The raw strength is there for plus power, and he's added notable loft to start tapping into it. He finally settled on a flow and launch that lets him engage his hips and get open more consistently. It's been real development that backs up the numbers.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=263

Alex (San Francisco): What do you think of Daniel Gossett? He's done well in AA, but he is 23 years old.

Wilson Karaman: He's a solid arm. It's unorthodox, there's some funk that he's toned down a bit, but he repeats well in spite of some effort, stays around the zone, and sequences effectively. I think he starts for someone eventually.

Jackie Mittoo time! Get with this cut if'n you haven't before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS8QRx5Cjoo

Tom (San Jose): What are realistic expectations for Matt Chapman? He's shown major power and a good glove, but he's also 23 in AA and has serious contact issues.

Wilson Karaman: Chapman's one of those guys for me where it's easy to get hung up on what he *can't* do, when there's a lot to like with him. The glove is very good, the arm is top-shelf, the raw pushes 70, and he'll get to a good bit of it in games in spite of his swing-and-miss and weak fly ball contact issues that may see him ht .250 if the BABIP gods smile on him. I wrote him up last year and haven't heard much that'd make me amend much of the report over the past year:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=276

Juan (Chicago): What does Willy Adames' prospect status look like after the season? What kind of player do you think he eventually becomes? Thanks!

Wilson Karaman: I liked what I saw of his bat at the Future's Game, there's evident strength and some loft to it. Put together a solid BP. The glove remains closer to the borderline among some folks I asked, but if the bat keeps playing it's probably enough to keep him at short. He checked in 30th on our mid-season list this summer, and I don't anticipate that number getting larger this winter. He can start for a big league team if the bat gets all the way there.

Philip (San Diego ): 2 separate Padres questions 1. Do you believe Dinelson Lamet can be a decent backend starter in the majors? 2. What is your take on Franchy Cordero who is breaking out in SA? has had years of instruct hype not come to fruition

Wilson Karaman: Sorry for the delay, Simone Biles in the spotlight, and you stop what you're doing when she's doing what she does.

I do! I liked Lamet a lot earlier this season, and I didn't see him throw his changeup, which I've gotten okay reports on as a potentially fringe-average pitch. The fastball-slider combo is very good, and while it's not a great command profile he generates quality plane and works north-south pretty well. I'd like him more dominating dudes in the 8th inning, but there's enough there to start him 'til he gives 'em reason not to.

Franchy: I'm pretty shocked at Franchy's run since he got promoted, honestly, and I'll be all the more surprised if he maintains anything close to it. The ahtleticism and explosiveness is obvious, and he can rip hard line drives with the best of 'em. The barrel was pretty wild in my looks, though, and there were a lot of mechanical inconsistencies from start to finish that just didn't give me much confidence that he'd be able to harness it into a coherent, repeatable swing.

Lamet: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=325
Franchy: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=321

Adamah (NY): Any Mets prospects you like more than the average guy/gal?

Wilson Karaman: Jeff Paternostro & Jarrett Seidler're your guys to ask about Met prospects, and I unfortunately don't get to see much of their system out west. Loved what I saw out of Rosario last month, and then from our in-house evals and video I can tell you I like what I see out of Becerra and Nido. There're recent eyewitness reports on the latter two off their player pages.

Speaking of things I like, I like Nina Simone. A lot. This tune's playful, it's sultry, it's more magical than a ninth-pitch backdoor slider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiRFLaSpSh4

WBG (Philippines): Hello Wilson! You might know me. Who will have a bigger impact in the long run between ex-Giant prospect Phil Bickford and current Giant prospect Tyler Beede? Thank you?

Wilson Karaman: I like Beede by a decent margin there. Was a fan of his arsenal's depth last year, and reports I've seen from this season suggest he's started to implement the physical adjustments he needed while maturing with his sequencing and game management. I think he's a relatively high floor guy rounding out a quality a rotation. I didn't really see it in my brief looks at Bickford, and I know David Lee wasn't convinced earlier this spring at Augusta either. The delivery's kind of stiff and he's got a low drop that discounts his height and leaves the fastball wanting for plane. That's okay to a degree, as he's got deception and some late oomph to get over barrels. But it leaves a thinner margin for error, and he needs to be pretty fine consistently with it because the secondaries weren't all that impressive. Slider showed average movement but he struggled to command it, change didn't do a ton. I'd like him better as a two-pitch guy where the FB could hopefully gain another tick or three over the 89-92 range I saw him sitting.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Wilson, Please rank for a dynasty league: JP Crawford, V Robles, B Rodgers, L Brinson, A Meadows. Thanks!

Wilson Karaman: I'll go Robles, Rodgers, Crawford, Meadows, Brinson. Those are all top 10-15 guys in dynasty though, so I'm not sure there's really a wrong answer.

Also a right answer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjtetA_gQZA

Cole (Jersey City): Mets seem to have an abundance of low level pitching prospects- Thomas Szapucki, Justin Dunn, Merandy Gonzalez, Andrew Chruch are some of the better ones. Do you really like any of those guys/how does each profile in MLB?

Wilson Karaman: Jarrett caught Szapucki recently and came away gushing about the FB and projection. And Jeff wrote about both Dunn and Gonzalez this summer, with both - especially the former - showing intriguing and potentially faster-moving relief profiles.

Szapucki: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29987
Dunn: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29920
Gonzalez: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29656

Jerry (St Louis): Just how good is Kevin Maitan... Where would he rank in the top 100?

Wilson Karaman: I'd be surprised if Maitan makes the 101 this winter, as at the...well, I guess beginning of the day, he's 16 and without so much as a DSL at-bat under his belt. The raw talent is pretty well documented though, and the bonus certainly backs up the rumors. He's on the short list of kids his age with a shot to crack a list like that by the time they're old enough to buy a cigarette stateside, and that's a good place to start.

Connor (Queens): Is it finally fair to say that this is the breakout season from Dom Smith we've all been waiting for? Is someone besides KLaw gonna show this guy some love? Why shouldn't he be a top 40 prospect this offseason?

Wilson Karaman: Again I'll largely defer to others who've seen him much more often than I have, but I thought he was...okay? Pretty good? I'll go with pretty good. I liked the swing mechanics and extension, he showed plus power in BP, but the game swing was flatter and shorter, and he struggled to both catch inner-third velo and recognize and refuse off-speed stuff away. I'll trust others when they say he can really hit, which is obviously a good starting point for any first base prospect. The game power limitations have always been the question on him, and given the rest of the profile (real slow, solid hands on what he can get to at first but limited range) it's just a tough profile to hang that kind of prospect value on.

CJ (Detroit): BEST Prospect nobody is talking about?

Wilson Karaman: I dunno about "best," but I've been waiting for an opportunity to work Edwin Rios into this chat, so by gum I'm a-gonna take this as my opportunity. He got promoted to AA a couple weeks ago and has continued to buck all logic and profile doctrine to post disgusting power numbers there in spite of a hyper-aggressive approach and hella length in his swing. He's got really impressive hand-eye and body control in his (gigantic) weight transfer, and he attacks the point of contact like a runaway train, so when he *does* hit the ball he hits it very, very hard. He moves about as quickly as a three-toed sloth on the dirt, and he's one of the slowest guys I've seen all year going down the line, so paired with the swing-at-most-pitches approach, it's really not a profile that tends to sniff major league potential all too often. But he's one of those "stop what you're doing, this guy's up" hitters, or at least the minor league version thereof, and he's sorta starting to force the conversation with this breakout year.

Paul (DC): Is this the Christian Yelich that has been expected or is this upper end best case Yelich?

Wilson Karaman: Mmm, I could watch that dude hit all day. I think there's more here offensively, but overall I think you're seeing a very good player on the upswing of his career trajectory, yeah. The power has steadily progressed into game utility, and he's such a good hitter that with another couple years of maturity I think we could see another 40-50 points of slugging in a peak season. The defense has been a little worse than projected, and the baserunning hasn't been as dynamic as anticipated, but - BUT! - he's on pace for like a 5 WARP season, and I'd wager dollars to one of those artisan donuts they sell in hip neighborhoods that this won't be the last 5 WARP season we'll see outta him.

It's getting #sensual in here. Time for the Betty Davis breaks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxKBnR_8LIM

cracker73 (Florida): Lewis Brinson is back on the minor league DL. It has been a disappointing season for him, after the season he had last year. Does he have enough upside to continue hanging on to him in a dynasty league? Thanks for the chat!

Wilson Karaman: Yes, absolutely. Any league where there's more'n, say, 15-20 prospects rostered he should be among them. Any time you have a top prospect suffer through an injury-riddled campaign it's incredibly frustrating, for both real and fantasy purposes. And that's especially true with a guy like Brinson, who has all the talent in the world and has really started to translate it over the last 18 months or so. When on the field this year his developmental arc has continued to bend in the right direction though, and he's a top-of-the-scales makeup guy who's as good a bet as anybody to maximize return on his talent. I was a big fan during his time at High Desert last year and the shelf time this year hasn't really changed my optimism at all.

smelmoth (God's Country): Any big takeaways from the Cape?

Wilson Karaman: It's my favorite venue to watch baseball games and I wish I could watch more games there every year. A-Rod's nephew, dude named Joe Dunand out of NC State who once homered in 8 straight PA's at a prep showcase, was impressive. Pavin Smith from UVA's a big strong kid that fits my criteria of identifying at least one 1B prospect every year. His teammate Ernie Clement just got 3 more hits while I was writing things. There was a kid from MIT (!), Filiere, who was actually kinda interesting. My full notes are here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30103

Zachary (USA): Is Zac Lowther a legit MLB Draft Prospect now?

Wilson Karaman: Yes yes, all of the Cape questions! Very much so, yeah. You don't do what he did statistically on the Cape and not put yourself on the map heading into your draft year, yunno? There's a good bit of raw material to work with, especially if he was showing the kind of command and repeatability he was apparently showing in every start except the one I saw and wrote about. He's a big lefty with a solid fastball, some movement, and feel for a change. I saw a reliever profile (timing issues that rear up over long course of a start, funky arm action), but that's okay. Barring collapse/catastrophic injury next spring he'll get drafted, and with some adjustments and consistent performance he could keep climbing.

AJ (Ottawa): Prefer Corey Dickerson or Tyler Naquin - ROS and keeper?

Wilson Karaman: I'll take Naquin ROS. He's hit well over his head, but he's also made very real adjustments to unlock nascent power and play more to the strengths of his swing this year. Tough call for keeper, I might still lean Dickerson. This has been a year full of adjustment, bad luck, and battle against many more shifts in a much worse ballpark. He's produced god-awful numbers on balls in play against secondary stuff this year after handling off-speed stuff and benders just fine in his career leading up to this year. I'd need more evidence that that's a new norm if I'm giving up on him at 27.

Big up the Champion called Allyson Felix. You take the medal crown from Jackie Joyner-Kersee, you've had a good day, regardless of whether it feels that way.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF6dTAhdOuA

WickedCurve26 (Austin): Will Yohander Mendez be starting in the majors by this time next season?

Wilson Karaman: Wouldn't be at all shocked. Has really come into his own this year, and has the stuff and intelligence to pitch in a rotation quickly and for a long time.

jeff (missouri): Ariel Sandoval looks like he strugging in High A. Was he promoted too soon?

Wilson Karaman: I'll get my first looks at him next week, so I'll say TBD for now. I'll admit to being surprised that he got bumped as quickly as he did, but that doesn't mean anything. Will Siskel wrote a really solid review of Sandoval's stateside debut back in May, noting the off-field adjustments and young-man aggressiveness in his approach. Same time, he painted the picture of a mature kid, and the Dodgers generally seem to have a good handle on these things. Stay tuned.

Emmett (Massachusetts): So Johan Mieses has had himself quite a week. Has your opinion on him changed since your report in May?

Wilson Karaman: I *just* wrote up an update on Mieses for our "Notes From the Field" that'll run tomorrow, so tune in manana, there's before and after video involved. Short answer is that they've overhauled his swing mechanics and he's made the kind of adjustments that he needed to make to get him closer to the 4 I hung on his hit tool. I still see him as having the kind of pop and defense to be a valuable Chris Young type down the line, and the recent hot streak hasn't altered that assessment.

Here's that earlier-season report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=313

Ghost of Japhet Amador (Mexico): Will Sandber Pimentel provide enough contact to be anybody noteworthy?

Wilson Karaman: I really, really hope so, because Japhet Amador deserves a good Ghost. (I'm not optimistic though, no)

alex (jersey city): domingo acevedo, kilome, oscar de la cruz rank them please. higher ceiling?

Wilson Karaman: Kilome, De La Cruz, Acevedo. I still think the latter's a reliever, could argue on the other two. De La Cruz has been nasty since hitting the ground in the MWL, assume we'll get an updated report on him soon.

Towel (Seattle): What are your thoughts on Vogelbach making the Mariners next year at 1B/DH ?

Wilson Karaman: I've long been a fan, and nothing would make me happier. He's been stuck in a passive rut since the trade, but hitters, as they say, will hit. It's worth noting for fantasy purposes that Safeco has become a decidedly less oppressive place to hit in recent vintage, currently rocking a 104 park factor for LH homers (though it still plays below-average overall).

Scott (Nyc): Where would Eloy Jimenez rank in the Brendan Rodgers, Victor Robles, Crawford question?

Wilson Karaman: I'd put him behind those three but ahead of the two outfielders, with the asterisk that I might be light, that dude's a beast in the making.

Randy (Memphis): Willy Castro or erick mejia?

Wilson Karaman: Man, if this is a fantasy question you waaaay down in the weeds, my dude. They profile similarly, honestly, and neither is particularly likely to develop into standard-league relevance. I'll side with Castro's pedigree and physical projection I guess?

Here's my report on Mejia: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=326
And here's Will Siskel on Castro: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29578

And here's Ken Boothe being awesome at singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPn30KFNc6k

BenSam (New york): What is the valuation of Iwakuma in Dynasty?

Wilson Karaman: Probably time to ship it while the shipping's still passably good? The hits are up, the whiffs are down, he's been sitting 88 for the last couple months...he's still an okay-not-great fantasy starter, but he's 35 with a lot of mileage and some injury history. I'd just as soon be on the early side of moving on from him than get stuck holding the bag a day late.

Danny G (Minnesota): First, thanks for y'all's hard work. Makes the BP subscription an easy renew each year. Thoughts on some Royals guys: Chase Vallot, Hunter Dozier, and Josh Staumont.

Wilson Karaman: You're welcome! Thanks for reading!

I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Staumont has one of the best pure FB/CB combos in the minor leagues, and he'll flash a CH to go with 'em. But the delivery hasn't gotten much crisper this year and he just hasn't shown signs of developing the kind of baseline command to stick in a rotation. High-leverage potential if he can take even minimal steps forward in simplifying and better repeating.

Dozier doesn't really have much left to show anyone in the minors. The swing looked stiff and powerful in San Diego. There's plus power, but it's more of a strength swing. He moved around the bag pretty good at third, though the reactions and fluidity of a quality asset at the position weren't on display when I saw him.

Vallot seems to have hit a wall offensively in the second half, but he's 19, and these things happen to young catchers. The power and on-base combo was on full display earlier this season though. I don't have anything on his D development, sorry.

Jack Handy (Deep Thoughts): I am wondering if you can offer a rational explanation for pitchers like Jake deGrom that never were able to put things together in the minors and subsequently emerge as stars in MLB... Certainly we never want to rule out the possibility of improvement, but how do you make such a quantum leap while taking on a harder level of competition? One might ask the same about a guy like Trevor Story in terms of the magnitude of improvement... We can't really just attribute this to a heightened competitive edge, can we? Can we safely just call these guys flukes so I can stop torturing myself?

Wilson Karaman: I don't think it's right to call them flukes, at all. Succeeding at the major league level for a sustained period of time is damn near impossible to do for everyone except a teeny, tiny fraction of the human population, it doesn't happen randomly. Players improve, players make adjustments - seismic and subtle, mental and physical alike - that unlock skills that had lay nascent or undeveloped previously...any number of things can do the trick. It's cliche but fundamental to remember: player development is not linear.

Hank (LA): What does Josh Morgan provide to a big league team?

Wilson Karaman: A quality bat and some positional versatility around the infield. He's a guy I held off on writing up a full report on earlier in the year, as I'd like to see what he looks like next week when I catch him again. He's young and lacks a standout skill, but he's a solid player without major weakness (outside of over-the-fence pop).

Donnie (Texas): Is this version of Mookie Betts for real?

Wilson Karaman: It is, and it is spectacular.

Wilson Karaman: And that, my friends, is a delightful note to end on. Thanks for kickin' it late night style. Bryan Grosnick'll take the reigns for our next chat on Wednesday. Catch y'all on down the trail, play us out Ziggy... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZJdQ5Nf7yA


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