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Chat: Will Haines

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday August 30, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Will Haines.

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Will is a member of our fantasy team, battling the ever-present Florida heat for your pleasure.

Will Haines: Hey gang, it's Tuesday afternoon, which means you're bored at work, and trying to avoid Tom from accounting. Let's talk about baseball instead. I'd love to banter about FSL, SEC, ABL, CHC baseball or anything else you've got on your mind.

Dan (DC): Scooter Hotz said Isan Diaz would be the #1 prospect in 2020.....is he crazy or or on to something?

Will Haines: Tons of Isan Diaz questions in the queue, so let's start with him. I'm going to put aside the whole "predicting prospect rankings four years from now is a fool's errand" thing and try to weigh in here. There's a lot of young players brimming with upside that could make a case for that title, but Diaz has as good of case as any. Realistically, I think Top 10 is a more accurate range for where he could be, given a likely move off shortstop and the lack of high grade power. There's always a fresh crop of talent for Diaz to contend with, and it might be tough, even if Diaz is raking in High-A, to give him that top spot over the next centerfield prospect with a bag of tools or the 19-year-old lefty that can strikeout hitters with four different pitches.

Regardless, I get the sense that trading away Diaz is going to be yet another nagging reminder of the disastrous moves made by Arizona's front office. Can you imagine a possible middle infield of Diaz and Dansby?

Frank (Red Hot): How good is Isan Diaz, and how likely is he to remain at the shortstop position? More likely to move to 2B or 3B if he has to leave short? Thanks!!

Will Haines: Diaz is good. It's that simple. He's young and far off but advanced for his age and well ahead of the development curve. But look, don't take it from me, go read Mauricio Rubio's article on him today. I don't want to give too much away, but it's titled: Isan Diaz Is A Monster. So I think he agrees with me.

I do think Diaz is likely to move off of shortstop. The knock on him seems to be the arm, so I'd expect second base to be the likely landing spot.

Theo (Chicago): Any idea who the two players to be named later might be going back to the Yankees from their Nova deal with the Pirates? He's been a beast for them... Thank you

Will Haines: Wait, Theo? You would probably know more about this than me. Honestly, that's not information that really any of us have access to. It's one of those things that front offices keep locked tight. Nova has been surprisingly effective for the Bucs, so their gamble has at least paid off in the short term. His performance really shouldn't affect the players headed to the Yankees, they'll fit the stipulations of the trade when it was made. I wouldn't expect any major additions.

John (San Francisco): After their altercation, do you see Danny Valencia and/or Billy Butler being sent packing in the offseason?

Will Haines: John, thank you for asking a question about the Oakland A's. I've actually quite enjoyed watching their underwhelming season this year.

Anyways, I think Butler is on thin ice with this club. This scuffle aside, he's under-performed pretty heavily outside of a late-summer hot streak, and a DH-only kind of guy like Butler is a lot of dead weight and payroll to prop up if he's not producing. I think the A's are in a tough spot with him at the moment since they've invested so much into his ill-advised contract. I think we'll see him on the roster going into 2017, but if he starts slow, I think the A's will have to release him.

Valencia is a bit different. I was pretty surprised not to see him dealt at the deadline, and Oakland has been rolling him out pretty creatively since. He's been passable in RF, 1B, and perhaps a little below-average at third. He's an attractive piece for a lot of clubs, essentially a reliable bat you can stick in a few different places. I think he gets dealt in the offseason, more to maximize value than to litigate a clubhouse scuffle in a losing season.

Ester (MK): Michael Conforto. WIll he be good?

Will Haines: Okay, let's take the Conforto question. I think Conforto has plenty left to show us. I'm buying a solid bounce-back year from him in 2017. Here's what I also think: his ceiling is just not what Mets fans peg it to be. And that's totally okay, because I think every fanbase develops loyalty to some of their guys in kind of a unique way. I think Conforto's got plenty of seasons of solid OF3 performance with a bit of upside in some hot months ahead of him, and Mets fans should bank that, celebrate his successes, and enjoy what he brings to the ballclub, even if that's not middle-of-the-order all-star caliber performance.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Will, Which Twins OF would you rather have over the next 3 seasons, Buxton or Kepler?

Will Haines: Hey Cal, this is a pretty fun question, so thanks. I've been trying to compartmentalize my feelings on Buxton, and separate my frustrations with his fantasy performance with my rational knowledge of the development curve. I'm more successful with that some days than others. But even so, I'm taking Buxton over the next three years, and buckling up for a wild ride. Kepler's been impressive this year, and I think he's here to stay, but there's that impact potential in Buxton just waiting to be unleashed. I'm not the most experienced guy on our staff, but I've seen enough to know that the moment I give up on Buxton is the moment he'll come alive.

TrickDaddy14 (YT): I know wrist problems can derail a season or even further... Will Victor Robles' injury affect him moving forward?

Will Haines: I would have been crushed if there wasn't a Robles question in my chat, so thanks for this, Trick.

It's hard to say for sure, right? It certainly took some time for Robles to shake off the rust, which is more of a minor setback in the short term. He's already picking it back up again, OPSing 1.189 last week like the Robles we know and love. The real consequence of the injury is the potential risk it represents for him going forward. I'm no doctor, but from what I understand, wrist injuries like the one he suffered weaken the overall foundation of the bone, making him more vulnerable to injuries there. I expect Robles to have a long, long career, so it's more than likely that he'll aggravate it again. There's not much more you can besides holding your breath on any close slides into second or inside fastballs and savoring every minute of his performance.

John (KC): If you had to start one in a league that rewards QS, would you use Graveman tonight at HOU or Shoemaker on Saturday at SEA?

Will Haines: Ooh John, I don't envy your choice here. I'd start Graveman at Houston, given the choice. I think he's going to give up a homerun, but if he gets away with pitching to contact, he could probably go 5 innings with an earned run or three. I think Shoemaker has a bigger risk of implosion.

Jimmy (Houston): Will, Thanks for the chat!! I need a sanity check. Rarely do I hear much from the press about Carlos Correa and when I do, it's often mentioned that his season has been mildly disappointing. Last time I looked he was leading MLB shortstops with 89 rbi and he's still only 21. He has 19 homers and 11 steals and plays pretty good defense. How can anyone consider such a season at such an age anything other than spectacular?? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Will Haines: Easy, Jimmy, easy. Carlos Correa is fine. You are fine. The media needs clicks, and that can test our sanity. Hang in there, and trust that Carlos Correa is an incredible young shortstop that brings joy into the hearts of millions.

Nick (MO): David Price and Zack Greinke haven't had typical years. What do you see from them in 2017?

Will Haines: Let's start with Greinke. The combination of the new club, rough first start, and missed time is quite a snowball of factors to wade through. I really see a bounce-back year from him in 2017, perhaps after a long offseason of rest and fantasy football.

Price, well, Price is a different story. I'll be honest, I really don't have a great handle of what's going on with him. I know the Red Sox, really really need him to be himself right now, and I think he's capable of showing up big in the postseason. I think he's going to tinker with some things in the offseason and probably improve a bit, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable expecting a quick return to his past form.

Big Daddy (Florida ): Hey there Will. As a professional in the field of minor league scouting, what are your thoughts on the up and coming prospect, Tim Tebow? Thanks, Daddy

Will Haines: Okay, let's take the Tim Tebow question. As a UF alum and lifelong Gator fan, I have a lot of fond memories of Tebow doing football things for my school. The bizarre polarity he seems to have with the public is something I don't understand, and don't really like wading into in either direction.

Honestly, I don't think he's got any future as a baseball player past Low-A, if that. It's been said a ton, but if he hasn't been facing live pitching, I just don't see how he'll be able to grow and develop at any meaningful pace. I would have been much more intrigued if he had decided to start pitching. I don't think there's a route for him there either, but let's face it, it'd be more interesting than him struggling at the plate.

I'd really like to be at the tryout today. It seems like the place to be for baseball scouts and directors, and that's a crowd you rarely see assembled together. You're probably going to see a variety of takes published all over about the tryout. Ignore them all. I think if any team signs Tebow, it's more about the publicity that any kind of baseball decision.

Travis (FLA): If you could keep 6 prospects going into next season, which 6 would you keep: Meadows, Robles, Gurriel, Berrios, Glasnow, Snell, Kopech, or Groome? Prospect limits in my league are 100 IP/300 AB. Snell's the only one who may lose eligibility.

Will Haines: That's a pretty stacked collection of prospects. I'd keep the lot minus Gurriel and Kopech. Look, they're obviously great prospects and have immense potential, but Gurriel seems to have the most risk and there's always the chance that Kopech ends up as a late-inning weapon in the pen to preserve his arm. You can drop those two, and still hug that incredible crop of prospects, even if Gurriel and Kopech show up as advertised.

Rick (CA): How would you value Daniel Murphy for 2017? There's no way he repeats this kind of season, right?

Will Haines: Repeating his 2016 season is an outstanding feat to even imagine. It's unlikely, but something seems to have really clicked with Murphy in late 2015, and he's been raking every since. I wouldn't expect 2016 Two: Electric Boogaloo out of him in 2017 but it's probably safe to expect him to be one of the best second baseman in the category.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater (Hockessin): Think Yohander Mendez could start next year in the rangers rotation? Is he close to ready?

Will Haines: Actually, I really do think he's ready for the rotation in 2017. He's proven he's got a variety of trusty stuff in the arsenal and the intelligence to work through a lineup multiple times. I think we'll see him finish 2016 in the pen and then get stretched out in 2017. It might take a month or two in Triple-A for him to get comfortable, but if he adjust quickly, the Rangers have a real weapon to call upon.

John (NY): Andrew McCutchen's 2016 season: a blip on the radar or the beginning of a decline?

Will Haines: Oh man, as much of a bummer as it is to say, this really looks like the second half of the bell curve for Cutch. It's hard to imagine him having a career season in 2018, right? That said, I think he'll be a contributor for years to come, just maybe not at the level we've seen from him before.

Rob (Alaska): I have a competitive squad in a 14 team mixed dynasty. Wondering which order you would keep the follow OF: Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton. They all have weird and confusing career arcs.

Will Haines: You said it: all those guys are on weird tangential career paths. I'd rank them in the order you currently have them in. I was debating between Fowler and Bruce for longer than I'd like to admit, but assuming this is a category format, Fowler's SBs push him over the edge. I really wish Justin Upton would have a resurgent year. I miss that guy being awesome.

Earl (Michigan): How do you project Dom Smith and Amed Rosario?

Will Haines: Dom Smith is a pretty polarizing guy, and I'm firmly in the nonbeliever camp. The red flags are everywhere, and I'm just not convinced that he'll be able to hold his own at first base. Honestly, get excited for Peter Alonso. I'm probably the high guy on him for our team, but I've seen him a ton, and I think he's going to mash. Intelligent hitter, great pitch recognition, plus power to all fields. I'd bet on him over Smith pretty comfortably.

I covered a ton of the Florida State League this year, and Amed Rosario made suffering through the heat worth it whenever I saw him play. I know our fantasy staff has sung his praises enough to convince the masses of his potential, but he's really something to see in person. I think the upside here is regular All-Star, and anchor of the Mets infield. Also, if you haven't yet, go follow him on Twitter, he's great.

Josh (NYC): You mentioned him earlier, but what kind of stats can we expect out of Max Kepler in a typical year going forward?

Will Haines: I think .260/.340/.440 is pretty reasonable. He's a comfortable, everyday outfielder that perhaps lacks top end upside but brings you consistently solid at-bats. Most teams have one of these guys in one form or the other.

Gabe (GA): What have you been hearing about Tigers draftee Matt Manning since he was drafted? He's been racking up the Ks in the GCL.

Will Haines: Not enough, apparently. I just took a look at his GCL stats: 30 IP, 14.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9. That's outstanding for a 18 year-old in his first taste of professional ball. It seems like Detroit's been rolling him out for quick, 3-inning starts, so he's probably been able to throw a bit harder than he would if he was expected to go 6. That said, I'm really excited to see him take on Low-A next season. Thanks for bringing him up.

Shooter (Georgia): Are you at all worried about Anderson Espinoza? I know he's young, but his numbers aren't very appealing for someone touted so highly. Thank you

Will Haines: Nope. He's doing what young pitchers with his potential are supposed to do at that level: experiment, work on fringe pitches, focus on command/control, and stay healthy. Don't worry about the results until he hits High-A, and even then, don't sweat 'em. Espinoza's on track to be an impact pitcher.

Dave (Pa): Wilson Contrares- next year, 130 games, .280, 15hrs ??? Eventual all-star??

Will Haines: Willson Contreras is my favorite rookie in 2016. I think you're overestimating how many games he'll play - I think it'll be a bit less. Regardless, .260 with 15 HRs with improving defense is a reasonable expectation. Not sure about All-Star, considering the ridiculous voting process and the existence of Buster Posey, but who knows. In an age of pretty boring catchers (let's face it), Contreras is a pleasant surprise.

Drew (Melville NY): Do you think a Buxton for Conforto deal would make any sense? Both of them seem to need to get away from their current managers.

Will Haines: Nope. Not really at all. I don't really think it's a management for issue for either of them, though if they struggle again in 2017, a change of scenery is always an option. It's just an unfair swap for the Twins since Buxton has an insane amount of upside and plays CF.

apon32 (Centereach, NY): What are the red flags on Dom Smith? The only one i have seen is that he is a bit...big boned

Will Haines: Good question, I probably should have elaborated earlier. His size is a knock, though the real concern for me is the underwhelming power tool. I'll admit it's been a while since I've seen him in person, but the nature of his swing really undercuts any power that he may have, and it's kind of a known thing that he's exploited by inside heat. Not a permanent knock by any means, but that may come to affect him more as he climbs higher and faces pitchers with better command who throw harder.

I know I have a fairly negative view of Smith, but I do like the guy. I like to root for the atypical profile prospects, but realistically, I'm just not sure Smith hits enough to be an everyday first baseman, especially not with Alonso on his heels.

Angelo (Maine): Next Best prospect that nobody is talking about?

Will Haines: Doesn't this question usually go "Next BIG prospect that nobody is talking about?"

I'll go with Alex Faedo, since he isn't officially a prospect yet. A slim righthander going into his junior season at UF, he had enough talent this year to knock future stud Dane Dunning out of the weekend rotation. I've just seen him a ton this season and know that he'll be a top draft target if he continues his progress in 2017. He's got the potential to move quickly, three plus pitches, and a clean injury history. Faedo is going to be a known dude by this time next year, so here's your early warning.

BC (Urbandale): Cubs are good. really good. The best. I love them. They are so fun hehehe Also, how many points will the Iowa Hawkeyes beat Miami (OH) by on Saturday?

Will Haines: You heard it here first, folks: The Cubs are good.

Will Haines: Thanks to everyone who sent in questions! I had a blast chatting with you all, let's do it again soon.


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