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Chat: J.P. Breen

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday August 11, 2016 2:00 PM ET chat session with J.P. Breen.

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J.P. is a senior member of our fantasy team and former Editor-in-Chief of BP Milwaukee. Congratulate him on his new house.

J.P. Breen: I see we've got quite a few questions in the queue.Let's get cookin a bit early.

Peter (Phoenix): Now that the Brewers have purged their most valuable assets from the major league roster, what is the next step in their rebuilding process? What opportunities do they have to improve their system, outside of draft or free agency?

J.P. Breen: One of the underrated pieces of Stearns' rebuilding job has been his accumulation of depth. Ryan Braun could be a hot commodity this winter -- though I think he stays -- while the Brewers will have some mid-rotation depth in the starting rotation. Guys like Jimmy Nelson, Junior Guerra, and Wily Peralta could be on the trade block. Domingo Santana could be surplus to requirements, too. The obvious trade pieces are gone, but Stearns has shown that he's willing to get creative and move controllable pieces to better the organization. I also think the Brewers need to make a larger investment in the international market.

Justin (Iowa): Congrats on your new house bruh. Now to real business, Taillon is gonna be a stud, and if Glasnow pans out, the Pirates are gonna have a three-headed monster at the top of their rotation for the next 3+ years

J.P. Breen: Thanks, Justin. Real Talk: Central A/C is boss.

I'm not really sure there's a question here... but, yes, the Pirates could have a real formidable rotation in the coming years. Nick Kingham was also underrated prior to his injury. I'll be interested to see how his rehab goes over the next six months.

Tim L (Sonoma Stompers HQ): J.P., I have an embarrassment of riches in my 20-team, 25-man roster 5x5 dynasty league. This was a rebuild year for me, and right now, my SS are Anderson, J.P. Crawford, Swanson, and Rogers. We can only keep 20 from year to year with no penalty, and the league has a penchant for valuing players weirdly (I got offered Mauricio Cabrera for Andrew Benintendi straight up). Do I use my stash to overpay for positions of need in a spread out league like this? Or should I just wait for these beautiful prospect flowers to bloom?

J.P. Breen: The easy cop-out answer is to gauge what kinda interest other owners in your league have in your players. Find which owners like your players more than you do and try to make something work. Waiting for prospects to "bloom" is tricky, especially when you *want* to move them. Aaron Blair was a hot trade piece prior to the season and now probably can't be given away. The same with Luis Severino. Prospects who haven't had a chance to fail yet always bring a higher return than guys who are known quantities.

Jim (Chicago): What can you tell me about Meadows and Newman? How good can they be in real life and in fantasy?

J.P. Breen: Austin Meadows is a potential stud, offering double-digit homers and 20-plus stolen bases with a good batting average. He's probably better in real life, too, given his defensive value. Kevin Newman, on the other hand, isn't really my jam. He's a good hitter, but doesn't offer much in terms of power or speed. Those kinda guys -- in the Martin Prado mold -- are much more valuable in real life than in fantasy. Newman is a guy I'd absolutely be trying to sell high on in dynasty leagues.

Hector (Pitt): Josh Bell can rake, he should be in the Burgh starting over Jaso.

J.P. Breen: This is probably true. I'm unsure if it's a simple service-time issue or if they value Jaso more highly than most fans due to his approach at the dish. Bell should be the everyday first baseman in 2017, though, barring any unforeseen trade.

George (Detroit): Pirates are going to sneak into the Playoffs, you watch....

J.P. Breen: Jeez, you'd think I used to be the Editor-in-Chief at BP Pittsburgh with all of these Bucco questions. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pirates sneak into a Wild Card spot, as I really like their club and their overall trajectory. Other than the Jason Rogers trade, that is. That was a bit of a joke. The Brewers had tried him at third base multiple times over the years, and the Pirates should've known that wasn't going to work.

Max (SD): Worried about Anderson Espinoza's stats this year?

J.P. Breen: Nah, he's an 18-year-old in A-ball who throws in the upper-90s with a good feel for his curveball and changeup. I got monster reports on him in spring. He's a potential stud. It's just difficult to have the requisite patience when he's getting hyped so much by scouts.

Thatoneguy (Milwaukee): Should Brewers fans be concerned about the struggles Brett Phillips has had this season?

J.P. Breen: I don't think so. Brett Phillips is the kind of prospect that gets underrated due to his low batting average. He's still a potential 15/20 guy in Miller Park with quality defense in center field. He may be a league-average regular, rather than a perennial All-Star, but guys like Colby Rasmus still have long big-league careers.

BC (Urbandale): Can the cubs break the A's win streak?

J.P. Breen: Sure they can. Too much variance happens on a game-to-game basis to make such predictions meaningful, though. They're the best team in baseball, and the best team in baseball can win 20 games in a row if everything breaks perfectly.

Jim (Kentucky): What do you think the Pirates are going to do with McCutchen? Trade him this offseason? Trade him whenever Meadows is ready? Try to extend him? Let him walk at the end of his contract? Also, what could a return package look like for the Pirates?

J.P. Breen: The Pirates should seriously consider moving McCutchen this winter if they believe Austin Meadows is ready to be the everyday guy in center field. It will be a tough sell for the fanbase, especially if they fail to make the postseason this year, but it's what smaller-market clubs have to do. As far as a potential return package is concerned, I have no idea. He'll be 30 and on a decent contract, so I'd imagine it starts with a top-20 prospect or a quality MLB regular at the league minimum. Beyond that, anyone is just guessing.

Dan (LA): Thoughts on Seth Beer - Next BIG prospect?

J.P. Breen: This is outta my realm of expertise, Dan. Sorry. At 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds, though, I'd say he's a pretty big dude.

Chris (Philly): Where would Lourdes Gourriel JR rank if eligible in the current prospect rankings?

J.P. Breen: For me, he'd be outside the top-30 due to questions about his defensive position and his long swing. We're all just throwing darts at the dart board on guys like Gourriel, though. Prospect rankings are just a snapshot in time and extremely fluid. We'll know much more in April and May next year.

Kyle (Milwaukee): Hey Jim, first time long time. With Aaron Harang out of The Show for what seems like for good, what do you think his lasting legacy is? I certainly miss the big fella.

J.P. Breen: The soul patch thing he sported throughout his career and the omnipresent, subtle look of profound sadness in his eyes.

Eric (CT): Next Big Prospect nobody is talking about?

J.P. Breen: Among the general public, I think that's Ronald Acuna with the Braves. Otherwise, Vlad Guerrero, Jr. is gonna get a whole lotta hype in the coming year. On the pitching side, it could be Dylan Cease with the Cubs.

Truganini (CO): Billy Hamilton has a .374 OBP and 26 SB in the 24 games since the all star break. Small sample, sure, but that's a 175 SB pace for a full season, and I love dreaming that he can top Rickey's 130 SB season. Two questions: what do you project for him in 2017, and is he the most fun player to watch in MLB when he's playing this well?

J.P. Breen: Man, I'm not a fan of Billy Hamilton at all, so this is tough for me. I don't think he's an everyday player by the All-Star Break in 2017, if not sooner. However, when he is playing this well, he's dynamite. Even on his top-end, though, I'm not convinced he's too much different than Dee Gordon or Jonathan Villar these days.

Jeb (Johnson City): Rank the following prospects: Mitch Keller, Fernando Romero, Mike Soroko, Joey Wentz. Thanks!

J.P. Breen: I'm a huge fan of Mitch Keller. I'd go Keller, Soroka, Wentz, Romero -- with a gap between Wentz and Romero.

David (New Berlin): Among the Brewers' outfield prospects, which do you see sticking as regulars in Milwaukee and among the top pitching prospects (Hader, Ortiz, Bickford, Lopez, etc.) who do you see sticking as starters and which as relievers?

J.P. Breen: Luis Ortiz has been a favorite of mine since he was drafted. I think of any of the guys you mentioned, Ortiz has the best chance of sticking in the rotation. Hader has the highest upside and a pretty high floor of a dominant late-inning reliever. I'd heard this spring that the organization viewed Jorge Lopez as a reliever long-term, and his recent issues have only bolstered that view. Bickford is a wild card. That's a rambling answer, perhaps, but I'd say Ortiz gets the nod from me as a future starter.

Villarcia (Left side, Strong side): How much do you love us?

J.P. Breen: It's a tough question. I tend to love humanity as a whole, yet be extremely annoyed at individual strangers. If you're asking about y'all as a collective? A whole lot. If you were a random person on the Red Line in Chicago? Not at all.

Matt (MN): Rebuilding is hard - what advice would you give to someone rebuilding an inherited team?

J.P. Breen: It's very hard. Don't worry about targeting individual prospects or the highest-ranked prospects. Acquire as much depth as possible. Do not package your pieces together when you sell. Acquire depth and then deal from that depth later. Be willing to buy *and* sell to acquire that depth. Oh, and don't hug your prospects.

Cheese (Wisco): Thoughts on Michael Matuella being the PTBNL. Not sure he has been mentioned in the speculation, but what are your thoughts on if it is a possibility? And how would you feel getting such a high RISK/reward guy? Did Stearns indicate that isn't his preference by excluding Gallo? Sorry I am asking for a lot of speculation here.

J.P. Breen: This is in reference to the Lucroy/Jeffress deal, just so everyone reading this is clear. I don't think Matuella has a chance to be the PTBNL, just because they have better prospects available to them. I don't think the club would make such a massive deal and have a big piece of it be a lottery ticket. The jackpot isn't high enough to warrant it.

Jeb (Johnson City): Will Rowdy Tellez solve his issues Vs. LH to allow him a chance to play everyday in Toronto? or Adam Lind type?

J.P. Breen: There's just so much pressure on his bat to be special. I don't think he projects to be an everyday guy. As you said, he's only hitting .245/.328/.382 against southpaws, and that doesn't project to get better as the quality of left-handers improve.

Jeb (Johnson City): Brandon Woodruff is dominating. Reports are he's holding velo late into games, 95-96, hearing from different scouts plus change, plus curve. Do we have a potential 2-3 starter? Lance Lynn/DeGrom comp? Are experts ready to put him top 100 or too old?

J.P. Breen: Woodruff has been incredible, and he's always had a big fastball. I'm not sure the secondary stuff is as good as you're suggesting. As of now, I've heard that he has a great chance to stick as a back-end starter who eats up innings. Pop-up guys like this need to establish a bit of track record before I start throwing no. 2 starter potential on them. Take Jorge Lopez from a year ago, for example.

BadgerNoonan (Detroit): What on earth happened to Carlos Gomez in Houston? I'm not surprised by some offensive decline, but the defense is mind boggling.

J.P. Breen: The advanced stats have always ebbed and flowed on Gomez. I'm not buying that the defensive decline is permanent. Gomez can get in his own head at times and is simply trying too hard to be "the guy Houston paid for," from what I know about him and from an outsider's view of his time in Houston. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if he magically improved with a club that wasn't in a postseason hunt this year, as it would allow him to work on his game and regain confidence without the pressure. It's always been a volatile package at the plate, though, so, as you said, it's not surprising that he's struggled at the plate.

Andrew (Maine): #1 Prospect in 2017,2018,2019 and 2020?

J.P. Breen: Woof. That's a question. I'll say Yoan Moncada in 2017. Victor Robles in 2018. Victor Robles in 2019. Someone We've Never Heard Of in 2020.

Ricky (Boston): Anderson Espinoza - number 1 pitching prospect next year?

J.P. Breen: Nah, not for me. I think that goes to Jeff Hoffman.

Brian (Parkland, FL): What do you make of Will Smith's start so far for LA? Is he looking like a future starting catcher? Thanks

J.P. Breen: Way too far away to make a call like that on Will Smith. At this point, he'll need to hit for a higher average or for more power to make that projection come to fruition.

Gref (NY): Whats your opinion on Amed Rosario? Top 10 prospect with at least 60 FV?

J.P. Breen: He's not in my personal top-10, but I'm not on the Prospect Team -- so I defer to them on this. I don't think he has impact-enough potential to be in the top-10.

Tom (JSOnline): Do you think David Sterns should grow out a moustache like Doug Melvin?

J.P. Breen: I don't. He doesn't have the face-frame to support such a glorious moustache. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, though. Nothing of which he should be ashamed.

Jon (DC): Do you hold onto Carlos Gomez in a dynasty league in hopes he signs with another team that can work out his kinks in his swing or is it safe to drop him?

J.P. Breen: It depends on the depth of the league, I suppose, but I'd hold. He has the potential to make you look stupid.

SimpleKindOfFan (MKE): Gomez in CF, Broxton to RF, Perez to 3B, Villar to 2B and Scooter to the pine. What's there not to like for 6 weeks??

J.P. Breen: I think Villar should remain at third base due to his arm, but I understand the sentiment. GoGo has a permanent spot in my heart. Gennett has been okay, though, and Perez has a lot to prove that he's not just enjoying a hot couple of months.

Brian (Parkland, FL): What are your thoughts on Peter Alonso so far? With Dom Smith hitting better of late, he probably isn't a 1B with NY....corner outfield move, and would the bat play there? Thanks

J.P. Breen: Peter Alonso is doing exactly what a 21-year-old hitter who had collegiate success should do, which is dominate younger pitching. What's the rationale behind Dom Smith not being a first baseman? The lack of power? Not sure that looks much better with below-average defense at a corner outfield position.

SimpleKindOfFan (Milwaukee): Jim, when will the Brewers cut bait from Ryan Braun and look to the future with the kids?

J.P. Breen: Perhaps this winter, but I'm not convinced the organization really wants to move him.

forever it (Beeswax, none of yours): Is it only likely or probable that Dahl breaks Dimaggio's hit streak record?

J.P. Breen: Roald Dahl died roughly 25 years ago, my friend, so it doesn't seem overly likely. An underrated writer.

cracker73 (Florida ): Could you please rank these prospects by offensive potential only, disregarding defense: Matt Chapman, Dylan Cozens, Rhys Hoskins, Christin Stewart, Bobby Bradley, and Dan Vogelbach?

J.P. Breen: Off the top of my head: Vogelbach, Bradley, Cozens, Stewart, Hoskins, Chapman.

Mike (MKE): As a charter member of the Cody Ponce fan club, I'm curious if you think he'll be a Brewers representative in the AZL, considering he missed time in the beginning of the season. Or do you think the Brewers will be cautious with him?

J.P. Breen: If they're confident that he's healthy, I do think they'll send him to the AZL to accumulate innings. Nathan Kirby or Taylor Williams could be possibilities, too, depending on their rehab schedules.

Jspitz (Sherman Oaks): With all these top CF prospects how do you see Broxton fitting in longer term?

J.P. Breen: Keon Broxton deserves to get everyday at-bats, as the team needs to determine whether they have a potential long-term starter. Lewis Brinson is the long-term solution. Brett Phillips still has a big-league future, too, which means the Brewers are amassing depth and will eventually be able to deal from that depth to improve their squad elsewhere.

GoTribe06 (Lynchburg): John Smith jasn't had the best of seasons thus far. Will his trade to the Cubs provide a kick start?

J.P. Breen: I assume we're talking about Joe Smith. He hasn't been great, but I do think he's shown that he can be successful against right-handers. The move to the North Side should allow him to be utilized in a limited manner, maximizing his chance at success. I don't think he's a full-inning reliever anymore, at least not if he's due up to see a lefty or two.

Tim (Jacksonville): What are your thoughts on German Marquez and Chance Adams? Do you see Marquez developing the secondary stuff to pitch towards the front of a rotation, and is it still a relief profile with Adams given his success this year in AA? Thank you.

J.P. Breen: I don't know much about Chance Adams, but I like German Marquez as a potential mid-rotation piece. He has the delivery to start and just needs a bit more consistency with his secondary stuff. I know that's a big "if," but he has the building blocks to do it.

Tommy Tutone (Jenny's house): Berrios, Cody Reed, Severino have all struggled in their brief time this year. What do you see from them next year?

J.P. Breen: I'm still big on Berrios and Reed and think both could take a sizable step forward in 2017. Berrios has always been more of a mid-rotation arm for me, while Reed is a potential impact arm in the rotation for the Reds. His slider is ridiculous. Severino, on the other hand, is not a profile that I like. He only has two velocity bands, with his slider and changeup sitting in the upper-80s, which makes it easier for opposing hitters to gauge speed. Berrios doesn't really have three velocity bands, but his changeup and curveball change the eye level enough to make up for it.

Brett (OR): Do you think Jonathan Villar will keep up with this same production next season?

J.P. Breen: I think he takes a step backward -- just because I'm nervous to project a dude to have an OBP near .390 again -- but he's been brilliant. His whiff rate has declined. He's swinging at pitches outside the zone far less often. He's also pulling the ball less often than he has in the past. I like him and think he's an everyday starter for the Brewers going forward, even if he takes a step backward.

Ron (IA): Isan Diaz: great, greatest, GOAT, or American Hero?

J.P. Breen: Since the beginning of May, Isan Diaz is hitting .301/.380/.543 with 24 doubles, five triples, and 16 homers. I know a couple of orgs that have massive grades on the hit tool, too. If he could stick at shortstop, I'd say he could be great. Instead, I'll settle for American Hero.

johnklein (east coast): I missed out on or traded numerous prospects in my NL-only keeper league. Who are some under the radar guys (it's a 10-team league, large reserve list)? They need to have an ETA of 2018 at the latest as the three year clock starts running on them as soon as they are drafted.

J.P. Breen: This is a tough question. Josh Hader is worth rostering in keeper leagues, despite the risky profile. I'm not sure what qualifies for "under-the-radar" in a 10-team league (as it depends on the size of the reserve list), but guys like Forrest Wall, Yusniel Diaz, Cody Ponce, and Jack Flaherty are guys I like.

Troy (WI): what is the arrival time for a guy like Isan Diaz?

J.P. Breen: I'd say 2019 at the earliest, unless he lights up High-A next year and gets promoted to Double-A by mid-season.

Jeb (Johnson City): What are your thoughts on Brandon Woodruff. Scouting report reads nice. Numbers are filthy good

J.P. Breen: I mentioned Woodruff earlier, but I heard some really good stuff on him in the Florida State League before he got promoted to Double-A Biloxi. He's pitching with confidence and has really taken a step forward with his command. His future depends on the development and the consistency of his offspeed stuff.

Johnny (Philly): JP Crawford is what type of fantasy player?

J.P. Breen: A really, really good one. A potential 10/20+ guy with a good batting average and 100 runs. The shortstop position is stacked these days, so that blunts his impact. He's maybe a better real-life prospect (due to his defense bolstering his prospect value), but he's a potential top-5 fantasy shortstop.

Truganini (CO): 5x5 OBP league, who are the top two you value most ROS at 1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Freddie Freeman, Hanley Ramirez, Brandon Belt, Chris Carter, Stephen Piscotty, Victor Martinez, Pedro Alvarez?

J.P. Breen: Freeman and Piscotty, with Belt and Ramirez very close behind.

Jay (Toronto): Next International prospect nobody is talking about?

J.P. Breen: I couldn't even hope to answer this question.

Ron (Texarkana): Is Sandy Alcantara some kind of diamond in the rough? His name seems to be popping up a lot, recently..

J.P. Breen: I'm not sure he's a diamond in the rough. He's gotten a lot of love on this site, as he's shown some big, big stuff on the mound. The fact that he's in the Cardinals' system certainly helps. People rightly give St. Louis the benefit of the doubt when it comes to developing pitchers.

Dick (VA): What do you know about Thomas Szapucki?

J.P. Breen: Not too much. He's a lefty who can touch the upper-90s, but he's ages away from the majors. There's a whole lotta development that has to happen before we really have a feel for what he could be.

Jeb (Johnson City): Thoughts on Dylan Cease?

J.P. Breen: Big, big arm. I know a few scouts who are massive fans of the right-hander. The control is obviously an issue, as he has walked 14.4 percent of the batters he has seen this year. At 20 years old, though, he won't be rushed and will have ample time to develop. In terms of raw stuff, though, I love him.

Chesty (New Bern NC): JB,I need to move one player from L.Cain,Soler,Trumbo .Only 3 weeks left in my league and playoffs are closing in.Thanks

J.P. Breen: Soler. Not close for me. Cain and Trumbo are much better, especially for the upcoming playoff run.

Nolan (Midwest): What do you think Keon Broxton's future is like?

J.P. Breen: Somewhere in the middle of what he's done in the past couple of weeks and what he did in his earlier call-ups. He demolishes lefties, so perhaps his most probable future is a platoon fourth outfielder of sorts. Just for context, he's hitting .255/.426/.383 against southpaws in the majors this year, and there's more power in the tank. Strikeouts will remain a huge issue, though. Plus, he has a .545 BABIP in the second half.

Billy (Beantown ): Thanks for the chat, JP!! Looks like Rafael Devers has righted the ship after a rough start. Where do you see him fitting into the top 100 prospects and, more importantly, when can we expect to see him in Boston? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

J.P. Breen: Absolutely think Devers can be a top-100 prospect. Given his age and the likelihood that Boston won't wait for Devers to arrive if third base becomes a major issue in the next couple of years, I think May-June 2019 seems to be a reasonable timeline.

Logan (Wisconsin ): JP - How exposed are you to insider information? Do you have credible sources with high ranking execs? Scouts? Or do just random acquaintances with information pop up? Do you withhold information from the general public? Be it to protect clubs, or perhaps it is just too speculative. I would prefer to ask this in more generality (for all writer), but you can really only speak to your experience. The inner workings of these Front offices is fascinating and I think BP does the best job of any outlet on reporting that stuff.

J.P. Breen: I can only speak for myself, and I'm not going to delve into it too much. I don't share the vast majority of what I hear from folks in the industry. I once thought that I wanted to be a baseball writer for my career, which prompted me to share most of the information that I came across (which admittedly wasn't much), but I have chosen a different career path in life. This means that I don't share much information, as I wouldn't be told much if I did share things regularly. And I like getting insight from those smarter than me.

Peter (Phoenix): Assuming all of the Brewers pitching prospects hit their ceiling, who would be the 5 best potential starters within the organization?

J.P. Breen: If they hit *actually* hit their ceilings? Quick ranking: Hader, Ortiz, Ponce, Bickford, D. Williams.

J.P. Breen: Thanks for the chat, y'all. I enjoyed it. I'm gonna end it here, cuz I gotta go record a TINO Podcast with Craig. Wish me luck.


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