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Chat: Christopher Crawford

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday September 29, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Christopher Crawford.

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Chris is a senior writer on our prospect team.

Christopher Crawford: Hi, everyone. Well, I've got good news and I've got news that you might not find so good. The good news is we're gonna have a fun hour of chatting. The bad news is, this is my final chat with Baseball Prospectus. Tomorrow is my last day. So, let's go out with a bang, shall we?

neph27 (Cmbl): Where will guys like Juan Soto and Leody Tavernas rank for you this off season? Other places are already saying top 100. Is that too premature?

Christopher Crawford: Soto for sure it's too soon, and I'm a big fan, but he's not there yet. Taveras isn't quite there yet, either. Both intriguing as heck and super talented, but, patience, young prospect fan. Patience.

Tom (CT): Where would you rank Lourdes Gourriel Jr in the prospect rankings?

Christopher Crawford: Tough to say, Assuredly top 100, probably top 50. In the top 25? I guess that's where I start to begin to ponder, so, somewhere in that 20-30 range.

Randy (Chippewa): Moving forward, please rank these guys on their offensive production potential only... Juan Soto, Isan Diaz, Eloy Jimenez, Victor Robles, Rafael Devers, Ronald Acuna. Thank you

Christopher Crawford: Just offense, I'd go: Jimenez, Devers, Robles, Diaz, Acuna, Soto. That's a good group.

TrickDaddy14 (ytown): Fantasy wise, I'm more bullish on Blake Rutherford than I am Clint Frazier. Can you touch on these two please?

Christopher Crawford: I've long been the low man on Frazier; he cut me inline at Starbucks once and I never forgot it. No, not really. I just think he's gonna end up in left, and if he's in left, the bat has to max out. A nice prospect, but not an elite one for me. He did make some nice adjustments this year, though. On the other side, I've probably been higher than Rutherford than most; I thought he was a better prospect than Mickey Moniak for most of the year. There are three above-average tools and the hit might be plus, and I think he's going to be a solid right fielder. Frazier is the better fantasy prospect right now obviously because of proximity, but in terms of upside, I prefer Rutherford.

a.j (las vegas): With Judge, Frazier and Fowler coming soon is Mason Williams still a part of the Yankees future OF plans?

Christopher Crawford: Maybe as a fourth outfielder. I'm not sure he was a huge part of their outfield plans even before those guys came, to be honest.

Cole Whittier (Pasadena, CA): Rookies Jake Thompson, Cody Reed, Mike Clevinger and Braden Shipley have run into some hiccups in their 1st seasons. Do you like any of them to be mid-rotation guys still or have their implosions changed your valuation of them into back-end/RP types?

Christopher Crawford: Well, I never thought Clevenger was a mid-rotation guy, but those other guys certainly showed flashes. I think it's way too soon to give up on any of them -- particularly Reed -- but there are reasons to be concerned, particularly with Shipley. Backend starter is the likely outcome for all of them.

Cole Whittier (Pasadena, CA): Raul Mondesi is hitting .189 with a .236 OBP and no power. He was obviously rushed and just turned 21. Will he start in AAA next year and work on not swinging at everything? Can he still be a start in this league? What type of player do you see him becoming?

Christopher Crawford: I mean, that's what I'd hope. He's not ready. Keep in mind his true value is with the glove, but he's been too close to an automatic out this year to have him be your everyday guy next year. It's frustrating to see guys this talented have such poor approaches at the plate.

Buddy Biancalana (KC): Matt Strahm. How does he project as a starter and does he have 3 pitches to get it done? FV?

Christopher Crawford: I like Strahm. I haven't had a chance to see him in person, but from the reports I've read and the video I've seen, the change is juuuust good enough to allow him to start. Add in the fastball/curve combination that flashes plus and you have a pretty good starting pitching prospect. If the change isn't good enough, he obviously can be filthy in relief. I'd give him a chance to start.

Festivus313 (Phoenix): Jackson Stephens seems to put up consistently good numbers at each level but does not seem to make much of a dent on prospect lists. What are his chances to be a viable MLB SP? Does he have a usable third pitch?

Christopher Crawford: There's just not a lot of upside there. He misses bats more on the ability to locate than on his stuff, and while the command is good, it's not elite. Maybe he's a swingman, but it's tough to see it translating at the big-league level.

Festivus313 (Phoenix): Jose Berrios was unspeakably awful this year. What do you think happened? How do you feel about him going forward?

Christopher Crawford: I'm cautiously optimistic. I think there might be a nerve thing going on here. His ability to throw strikes at the big-league level just...well...no. He's still a young guy, and the stuff he showed in Rochester was still on point. Is time running out? A little bit. Should you give up on him? Nope.

j (OR): Who do you like more and why, Chance Adams or Jordan Montgomery?

Christopher Crawford: Good one. I like Adams quite a bit more than Montgomery, and I like Montgomery. I just think Adams has a better chance of missing bats; he's showing 70-60-50 stuff and throwing a ton of strikes in the process. Montgomery is safer, but there's no plus pitch, and he might actually have wore command than Adams. They're both nice pitchers, but I definitely prefer Adams.

The Chicken (San Diego, CA): How much does Hunter Renfroe's explosive start make you forget about his extreme AAA home/road splits and his 22/115 bb/k rate? Do you like him better than Aaron Judge?

Christopher Crawford: It's nice to see, but let's not go crazy. The sample size is extremely small. That being said, you're seeing what kind of talent he has. He and Margot both should be starting in San Diego to begin 2017.

The Chicken (San Diego, CA): How much does Hunter Renfroe's explosive start make you forget about his extreme AAA home/road splits and his 22/115 bb/k rate? Do you like him better than Aaron Judge?

Christopher Crawford: It's nice to see, but let's not go crazy. The sample size is extremely small. That being said, you're seeing what kind of talent he has. He and Margot both should be starting in San Diego to begin 2017.

David (Crows Landing, CA): I've read very differing opinions on Daniel Vogelbach, from being a fringe major leaguer to the next David Ortiz (WHAT?!). How do you view Vogelbach's future and please don't say "somewhere in between!"

Christopher Crawford: Well, unfortunately, it is somewhere in between, but if I was forced to pick which one, it's fringe and not Papi. In fact, comparing him to Papi is stupid. Like really stupid. The thing they have in common is they're fat. Come on. David Ortiz is the second best DH of all time. I think Vogelbach can be an average league DH, and there are certainly worse things, but COME ON.

fawkesmulder (zzyzx): Can we chat about alex kirilloff? Guy has done nothing but hit his whole life against people older than him.

Christopher Crawford: We can, and we will. I like him quite a bit. He was very impressive over the summer. I think the thing that concerned some was that there's no elite tool, but there's no real weakness here, either. I think he'll move relatively quickly.

Nick (Utah): What do you think of Kyle Freeland? 5th starter at most?

Christopher Crawford: I would not say at most. I think there's more upside than that. When you throw strikes and you have two out pitches, I think you have more upside than fifth starter. That being said, unless the change or curve takes a huge step forward, I'm not sure if he's a starter long-term. I think he could be nasty in relief, but the Rockies should give him every chance to start.

Tom (Cincinnati): Has the hype on Isan Diaz gone a little too far for a player who spent the year in Low A?

Christopher Crawford: Maybe a tad. But only a tad. There's just a ton to like here. I am still stunned the Diamondbacks moved this guy. Power hitting middle-infielders are a rare breed. Cherish them.

Tom (Cincinnati): Bat-wise, what is a realistic outcome for Victor Robles? I've seen very wide ranging projections for both his hit and power projections and ceilings.

Christopher Crawford: Off the top of the dome, because my notes won't load, I'd say he's 60 hit, 50 power, 70 speed, 70 arm, 60 glove at best. Most realistic? 55 hit, 45 power with the same speed and defense. He's pretty good, Tom.

Wolf (Erie): Between maladies did Anthony Alford show enough this season to keep on his first-division regular path or will staying on the field and moving to the high minors be more telling?

Christopher Crawford: I definitely think next year will be huge for Alford, but I think he showed just enough to suggest he's the best hitting prospect in that system. Many disagree with me and will say it's Richard Urena, and that's fine, I think it's close. I prefer the upside of Alford.

Wally (DC): Have you seen or heard much about Pedro Avila, 19 yr old dominican pitcher for Nats who made it to low A?

Christopher Crawford: Haven't seen, but quality reports. 60 fastball, 50-plus curve, developing change. Command needs a lot of work, however, and big concerns about size.

Brendan (Washington): How would you grade Zack Littell's repetoire?

Christopher Crawford: Stop making me work for you, Brendan.

55 Fastball, 55 curveball, 50 change, 60 control, 50 command. He is a very, very pleasant surprise for the Seattle Mariner organization.

portocac (Detroit): So the Cubs have shown that focusing on position players over pitchers can work. How many high-end pitching prospects would you have to "get" in, say, a trade for every high-end position player? 2 to 1? 3 to 1? This is assuming they're rated identically in terms of how good of a prospect they are. Thanks!

Christopher Crawford: This might be my favorite question all year. Thank you, Portocac. The answer is obviously a decimal but you can't trade decimals, can you? In all seriousness, I think it varies from player to player, but there is a lot more value in a high-end position player right now. I'd need at least 2 quality pitching prospects to get rid of one, and I'd need one of them to be a potential top of the rotation guy.

John (NY): Amed Rosario. Top 5 global prospect?

Christopher Crawford: Nah, that's a little too high. I like Rosario a lot, but he's more of a top ten guy to me than top five. There are about to be some graduations, I think, so maybe he ends up there, but not right now.

Ford (Flying cross country): Anyone for A's fans to be excited about besides Puk, Barreto, and (maybe) Chapman?

Christopher Crawford: Despite his struggles after the trade, Grant Holmes is someone to be excited about. If he can figure out how to throw strikes, Dakota Chalmers is someone to be excited about. Frankie Montas could be a high-leverage reliever. It's not a good system, but, there's some stuff. There's always some stuff. Even the Angels have some stuff.

Ford (Layover in KC): Was Richie Martin's late season surge for real?

Christopher Crawford: Oh yeah, you can be excited about him, too.

edwardarthur (Illinois): What's your take on the cause of Jorge Lopez's down year?

Christopher Crawford: The obvious answer is that he couldn't throw strikes. The question is why. I had some reports that the mechanics were all over the place, and there appeared to be some arm drag. There's still some upside here, but I'm not sure there was a starting pitching prospect who lost more value over the 2016 season.

Dave (Baltimore): Does Hunter Harvey have a future? Can't remember the last time he was healthy for any extended period of time.

Christopher Crawford: I hope so, Dave. I hope so. The stuff is so good, but you're right, the track-record here is pretty awful. I'm an optimist, but, it'd be silly to expect anything now.

Bob (Fayetteville): Could you rank the following: Chase Adams, Michael Kopech, Justus Sheffield, and Brent Honeywell.

Christopher Crawford: Not only can I, I will! Honeywell, Kopech, Sheffield, Adams. Another good group.

Phil Lees (Philly): Can Roman Quinn hit enough to be a starting OF in Philly?

Christopher Crawford: I do. In fact, I think he might hit enough to hit at the top of the lineup, and with that speed, that could be ideal. There's very little power, but his ability to get on and steal bases makes him a potential 50 player.

Daniel (CO): Been a while since this has been said: the Royals probably don't have any top 100 guys. Next June they'll have a middle-ish first round pick. Assuming no huge trades or anything, will do you think they'll have one going into the 2018 "prospect season"?

Christopher Crawford: They Royals definitely don't have a top 100 guy, and I'm not sure I see one on the horizon. There best chance for a top 100 guy is to take a high upside guy in the first-round next year, or for Kyle Zimmer to get healthy. The former sounds a lot more realistic than the latter.

Gest (Oh): Can you give me the pros and cons of Chris Okey? Is thought to be able to stay at catcher?

Christopher Crawford: Pros: He's got some pop from the right side, and he should be able to stay at catcher.
Cons: Long swing, and not going to remind anyone of Yadier Molina behind the plate.

I see a backup catcher. There's nothing wrong with that, but I was surprised that he was a top 50 selection.

Dan (California): Who among the Padres' new prospects has a higher ceiling, the draftees like Quantrill or the international signings like Morejon and Ona?

Christopher Crawford: Ceiling? Morejon and it's not close. I like Quantrill a lot and Ona is just fine, but Morejon's ceiling crushes em. Quantrill has the higher floor and has plenty of upside so that's why I prefer him slightly, but upside? Morejon has it by the boatload.

Rendy (Wi): Your piece on trying to trade Trout was supremely interesting content (whereever your headed next, can we get more of this theoretical trade stuff? Maybe that's not what you want to do all the time...I would gobble it up though) My question is, if the Rockies wanted to push all in and trade for Trout, what package could they give to get it done?

Christopher Crawford: First, thank you very much, I really appreciate that, and I had a ton of fun writing those.

You'd probably have to do something like...Gray, Dahl, Hoffman, Pint and another guy, maybe a Tapia or Marquez. With how bad that system is in pitching they might have to include a Hoffman, too. I still don't know if that gets it done, but they can compete with anyone in making an offer.

Christopher Crawford: And that'll do it. For those that didn't read the intro (no one ever reads the intro), tomorrow is my final day at Baseball Prospectus. I'll have a new piece tomorrow. Thanks for coming and chatting with me. I really do appreciate it.


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