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Chat: Midwest League Wrap Up

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday September 12, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Midwest League Wrap Up.

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James Fisher and Grant Jones are prospect writers for Baseball Prospectus, covering the Midwest League. Ask them what they've learned this year.

Midwest League Wrap Up: Hey everyone its Grant, lots of great questions in already. James had something come up, and will try to jump in as soon as he can. So you're stuck with just me until then. Lets get started.

Thadeous (Ft Wayne): What are your thoughts on Eric Lauer? Was he a big name out of High School? How do college guys at non major conference schools stand out and show they're worth a compensation pick?

Midwest League Wrap Up: I have a scouting report on Eric Lauer here – http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=460 and a match up with Keegan Akin here - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29436

He wasn't a "big name" but the Blue Jays did draft him in the 17th round in 2013. He went to Kent State to work with pitching coach Mike Birkbeck and it obviously worked out. For a pitcher in the MAC – which is a D1 conference but obviously not the SEC, it is more difficult to gain traction but when you are a lefty throwing in the 90s, with multiple secondary offerings and an easy delivery scouts will find you. Lauer had lots of attention going into the season as *the guy* in the MAC after a successful sophomore year.

Max M (419): How do you think Carson Sands' struggles on the mound will translate into next year? Do you think they will keep him in South Bend to start off the year?

Midwest League Wrap Up: I see Sands as bullpen arm long term, his fastball/change up combination was great, but the curveball left a ton to be desired. The fastball had run and sink to it in the 89-91 range, with his change up having great separation from the fastball and solid movement. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts the year off at South Bend again if they kept him as a starter, though.

Bseballkid (Nyc): I'm at the Met museum of art in nyc. Who has the most creative front office in terms of the 2016 draft? Did anyone stand out by taking an innovative approach?

Midwest League Wrap Up: Its hard to say who had the most innovative - as most teams do that same thing with their pools to get creative with who they can get. I really liked seeing teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and Giants just taking the best talent on the board (Groome, Rutherford, Reynolds) and dealing with the rest later. Bold strategy because of the budget pools, but also played out as well as the teams could have hoped. Giants getting Reynolds and Krook after not having a first round pick was great, not that Krook looked good this year but he has the history. I also liked the Padres, with a huge influx of different types. Cal Quantrill has looked awesome post TJS, Eric Lauer is as safe a bet as anyone in the draft to be a starter at the MLB level, and Hudson Potts (formerly Sanchez) was a interesting pick who the Padres loved, and came underslot. A draft I am interested in seeing how it turns out is the Cubs as well. They didn't have a pick until the third round, and with the scouting power they have I am excited to see how having all of their efforts focused on mid round talents ends up.

Matt (Chicago): Question for Grant. Having watched EJM several times this year, I think it's a ludicrous statement that you put an average regular grade on him. First off, it's a stretch that he can stick at CF, forcing more pressure on his bat as a RF. Secondly, at the plate he looked lost for most of the year (And yes, I understand he had taken a long break from professional baseball, but can that be a full year excuse?), swinging out of his shoes and not being able to touch soft stuff away, to go with an approach that makes him look allergic to walking. So, what do you see in him to warrant that grade? Thanks!

Midwest League Wrap Up: Hey Matt, I have heard this from both sides of the aisle now. He obviously has all of the tools, and flashed them throughout the year. There were times when I would see him and he looked disinterested in the game, but there were other times where he would go to the plate with a plan and could drive the ball with authority, showing off a natural ability to hit, and controlling his swing with much more discipline than seen before. The combination of the natural hit tool, and his plus bat speed bode well for him as he develops his approach more.

Staying away from low away soft stuff was something I saw him struggle with, but I also saw him go up there with a plan later in the year and avoid it. When everything came together, having a plan, letting his hit tool work for him, and having a consistent swing, it was beautiful. But unfortunately he frequently would have inconsistent timing, stemming from a variable toe tap or leg lift, and elongating the rest of the swing. He created a more fluid motion and was more comfortable with a slight leg lift, and once he gets into a groove of using a consistent timing mechanism it will help him immensely. He was a frustrating player to watch all year because of the back and forth of struggles, and thinking he turned a corner.

I wont argue that Martinez is a very high-risk player, but his potential is high as well. In the report I put "There is above-average regular potential on the strength of the natural talent, but there is a higher risk he doesn't continue to adapt and max out." And that is how I still feel. At the end of the day, you don't see a lot of five tool players, and EJM even through the struggles showed everything you look for. I would assume he will start out in Myrtle Beach next year, and I am excited to see how he does.

Z$ (Minneapolis ): How long until the Twins compete? Looks like a pretty attractive team to go to – similar to Boston and the DD takeover. Who is the best candidate to lead a franchise with good potential in its system?

Midwest League Wrap Up: Compete? Could be soon. The team is bad, don't get me wrong but this team has a lot of attractive parts with Sano, Dozier, Buxton and the rest. With the right person in charge they could be competing with the Indians soon. I don't know any more names than the rest of the Internet, but constructing a structure similar to the Cubs is a good start.

David (San Diego): Jake Nix has some of the better stuff of pitchers who spent the entire year in the MWL, but struggled to actually convert that into consistent results. Just a matter of learning sequencing and finding the feel on the slider more consistently, or other, bigger issues to deal with?

Midwest League Wrap Up: First off, I love Jacob Nix. James can attest to this as I eventually bring his name up in any conversation we have about the MWL. There are no big issues with Nix in my opinion. He needs to find more consistency with the breaking ball, and needs to continue to get reps. His fastball has touched 97 in prior viewings, and his change up has flashes of *at least* average when I've seen it. The delivery was quieted down from last year to now, and he still throws with intent, but from last year to now it was a very successful campaign.

Ross (San Diego): Anderson Espinoza was one of the big prospects traded at the deadline. Is he capable of becoming an ace, and what are his best pitches?

Midwest League Wrap Up: Sometime in the near future I will be having a feature out on Espinoza. I saw him pitch three times in August, and saw a lot of inconsistency, but had a plus plus fastball, and flashed plus on both his curve and change. I am not sure he has ace potential, but his ceiling is in the vicinity. I had him in the #2 starter potential range, and that is a good sign to me. In the third outing I saw him he was amazing, hitting 98 while pounding the zone, spinning the curve well, and flashing a plus change while showing much improved poise on the mound.

LOU (oregon state): What are some sleepers on the midwest league? offensively and pitching

Midwest League Wrap Up: Jean Cosme really got lost in the deep rotation of Fort Wayne (Seriously - Quantrill, Lauer, Espinoza, Nix, Allen, Paddack, Smith, de los Santos, Cosme, Luchesse, thats NUTS). He started strong, had a meh few months in the summer, and ended well. I don't think he's a special pitcher, but he has big league potential and didn't get fair coverage comparatively.

Andruw Monasterio is a tooled up short stop. He really struggled numbers wise, but in my few viewings of him he intrigued me. He would be a true sleeper, as more of a watch list type. The numbers didn't show it but he showed a hit tool when he was more compact with an approach. His downfall was he had inconsistency that led to free swinging a lot. He turned 19 in the middle of the season, and will likely repeat at South Bend next year.

Mike (Chicago): To make this an "All TinCaps All The Time" chat, what do you make of JC Cosme's surprisingly solid showing in his first full-season effort? Not a lot to look at in any of his individual pitches, but he seems to work them all to all quadrants of the zone pretty well. Will he add enough core strength to come up with velocity to support the command?

Midwest League Wrap Up: I just mentioned him in the prior question. I wrote him up earlier this year, but was light on him in hindsight after seeing him one more time. I think he is still in the 40 OFP range, but the realistic is closer to that than what I had put. I am not sure he will add velocity, he is already hitting 94 occasionally, mixing pitches well, and feels for pitching. His inconsistency has hurt him at times, but with reps he can get there. I think he has the chance to be a spot starter in the big league level, but is more likely to be a reliever.

Adam (Cedar Falls, Iowa): What do you project Eloy Jimenez to become? Is another Kris Bryant too much to ask for?

Midwest League Wrap Up: "Another Kris Bryant" is too much to ask of any player, really. Hes putting up unbelievably numbers in his second season, and is the face of a star studded Cubs team. That said, I love Eloy Jimenez. I recently wrote him up here - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=390 as has Nathan Graham –http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=384
Throughout the year I saw Jimenez work on his approach and improve every game, and by the end of the year he was a completely different player. It was fun to watch, and he hit some of the most impressive home runs I have seen in a long time. In Dayton he hit one that was a no doubter line drive that I believe South Bend tweeted out the exit velocity was something like 114-116 which is crazy good for any league, let alone the MWL.

Max M (419): What grade would you give Beau Burrows' season and what do you see him needing to improve on to continue his success at the next level?

Midwest League Wrap Up: The two times I saw Burrows I was impressed, he had a mid 90s fastball, touching 97 on one gun. He could, and would, trade velocity into the lower 90s to gain some more movement on his fastball and had a feel for pitching, showing presence on the mound too. His curveball is solid, flashing above average, but can be inconsistent. He showed he was comfortable with his change up as well which is always a plus. He doesn't have a glaring issue to fix, and getting more IP next year will help with the occasional inconsistency.

Tom (LA): What kind of Potential does Isan Diaz Have?

Midwest League Wrap Up: Mau is big on Isan and recently wrote a feature on him here - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30239

I saw two games of Diaz earlier in the year and he looked good. James and Mau both really like him, as does pretty much everyone else. I see him at second base long term. There are two eyewitness reports on him at the eyewitness page as well.

Matt (Chicago): Hey, just going back to EJM real quickly, I just don't see a 5-tool player. He's not more than an average runner, routes are inefficient, he's stuck to RF, does have a plus arm but I don't see his defensive game overcoming his offensive tools. The few times I saw him hit BP, I didn't see anything more than average raw power, which will play down in-game on account for his hit tool. So, how are you projecting these elite level tools on him? What are you seeing that I'm missing

Midwest League Wrap Up: Im' not saying he has elite tools. A five tool player is someone that has all five tools, not five elite tools. I disagree on the power being raw average, as his bat speed and leverage allow it to be more in game. I think the defense is there to be average as well as he improved throughout the year.

Tom (Cincinnati): What are your thoughts on Trent Clark after an abbreviated MWL league season and performance that didn't quite fulfill preseason expectations?

Midwest League Wrap Up: Clark didn't hit as well as hoped in his first season of full season ball, but as a 19 year old it isn't a huge issue. He has amazing make up, and a desire to learn and become better everyday. I wouldn't be surprised if he started at Wisconsin again next year, but I wouldn't call this year a disappointment. He did strike out a bit more than i expected, but overall I am not worried about him right now. The bat speed, and natural feel for hitting is still there.

Frank The Tank (The Quad): Dayton had a terrible season overall, but in the second half they had Nick Senzel leading the team to give the fans some sort of bright spot. Was he the best prospect that came through the league?

Midwest League Wrap Up: I think Eloy Jimenez was the best prospect, but there are several players that would be up for consideration (Espinoza, Diaz, Alvarez), but Senzel would definitely be in the conversation. Fortunately the MWL had some really top tier talent.

Midwest League Wrap Up: Looks like there aren't any new questions. Lots of questions about Jimenez, and Isan Diaz. You can reach out to any of us on twitter if you have further questions as well!


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