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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday May 22, 2017 11:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.

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Wilson is a senior member of both our prospect and fantasy teams, and chief proprietor of the #latenight chat

Wilson Karaman: "I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I was a few minutes late to this chat because my laptop exploded." - Bill Lee-ish

matzabal (CO): Has it gotten to the point that Andrew McCutchen can be dropped in shallow leagues? In an OPB league, I have Cutch, Bautista and Cain (+ injured Pollock) as my OF, with Yasmany Tomas, Puig, Dickerson, Broxton and Holliday available. Which (if any) of those FAs merit dropping Cutch, Bautista or Cain?

Wilson Karaman: First off, that must be some kinda shallow league with those dudes floating around in the FA pool. Corey Dickerson's literally been a top-20 overall player in standard 5x5s, and Broxton & Puig have both been top-100 guys. I like Broxton best of the bunch, but hard to argue with Dickerson's production thus far. I'd probably figure out a way to grab both, with Dickerson's hot hand the priority.

Josh (LA): Every time you chat I'm just going to ask you about Mitch White. Think he sneaks into the back end of the midseason top 50? If not, where?

Wilson Karaman: I welcome and encourage this strategy. Just saw him again on Saturday night, and he was pretty good despite not having his greatest command. The cutter hasn't been *quite* as devastating in my looks this year, but it's still a very good pitch, the fastball's great, curve flashes great. Athleticism and clean arm action to project on the command. 60/55 guy for me, and a good one. Imagine he'll be in the conversation. He certainly cracks an updated top 100 for me.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Is Ian Happ up for good this season?

Wilson Karaman: He'll have to earn it if he is, that depth chart remains absurd. Early returns are obviously encouraging, so he's certainly doing his part.

Sorry for the slow jam so far tonight, the robots aren't cooperating right now

Andrew (DC): Taylor Gushue is leading MiLB with 12 homers after setting a career high with eight all of last season. Is he any sort of prospect? He's hitting the ball in the air a lot more since joining the Nationals org.

Wilson Karaman: He's a sort of prospect, yeah. Switch-hitting catcher, SEC pedigree noted for game-calling & solid makeup. He's repeating High-A, and report I have suggests the average may be inflated by his intelligence and that context. But the swing's become more leveraged to where he's using his strength to create more power these days, and that may indeed be a legitimate development. Guy who very definitely bears watching after his (gotta be soon, right?) promotion to AA.

Chimmy (ARI): Jon Duplantier -- are we seeing a breakout? Future top 100 guy?

Wilson Karaman: Emmett just wrote him up last week as a high-probability 4 starter, yeah. Read up here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=31844

Tunes! We need tunes! Rhiannon Giddens, tell us about life in your spectacular way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfqIYN4KBc8&feature=youtu.be&t=2m38s

Seth (NYC): For purely fantasy - Carter Kieboom or Bo Bichette?

Wilson Karaman: I'll take Bichette because I'm a sucker for violent swings with violent results. I like Kieboom a lot too though, wrote optimistic things about him pre-season. He just sustained what sounds like a fairly significant hamstring injury, unfortunately, which'll likely knock him out for a while. Bummer given the early groove.

fightingmoose (Manitoba): A big part of Goldy's fantasy appeal is his typical great SB numbers at the 1B position. He turns 30 late this season and it is reasonable to expect some regression in those SB stats as he enters his 30's. Maybe it's time to expect some regression across the board too? Is this the time to sell Goldy to maximize value if i'm not in contention to win this year? Thanks!

Wilson Karaman: No! You're selling early if you're selling now. Goldy's base-stealing prowess has never really been the product of elite speed. He's pretty fast, but his instincts/ability to read pitchers/extremely efficient break & release...those are the magic ingredients. I'm not trying to tell you he's gonna steal 30 again annually for the next 5 years, but I don't worry about him falling off a cliff, either. He's a hold for me regardless of your context, as one of the elite players in the game who should be able to produce elite numbers for the next several years.

Dusty (Colorado): What do you think Wander Javier's stock is going to be come this time next year? Thanks!

Wilson Karaman: Javier's as good a bet right now as anyone from that 2015 J2 class to develop into a top-tier prospect. Got good reports from XST, but won't really have much to go on from there until we see more game action this summer, which will ideally involve a long stateside debut.

Hi Wilson (Hi Wilson): Hi Wilson

Wilson Karaman: Hi, Hi Wilson! Cuz yer kind I got you some Charlie Palmieri: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7RCb0p3vxo

Not a pessimist (Cloud 9): Half the people in these chats seem obsessed with Ronald Acuna. Could you run down what a Ronald Acuna failure scenario looks like? I mean aside from if he gets hurt and/or never makes the Majors. There seem to be questions about his bat and defense: what if those don't develop? What kind of role would he play and how likely is it that he ends up there (as opposed to his lofty projected ceiling)?

Wilson Karaman: I mean, we ask those questions of every prospect, right? The punchline on an Acuna is that those who've seen him play believe there's a higher probability than most that he develops better raw tools than most into better baseball skills than most. Abject failure scenario looks like everyone else's: he stalls out in the mid- or high-minors, and that's that. I tend to be the type that wants to see failure & response in the minors before signing off on a prospect, but he's certainly in no hurry to give me or anyone else the opportunity to see what that looks like. Realistic worse-case I guess, he has to move off center, his aggressiveness at the dish takes over and his hit tool stalls out, turning him into a dynamic but frustrating tweener.

Greg Sestero (Guerrero Street): Be honest, how often are you tempted to pronounce Ozhaino Albies' 1st name "oh-ZHAAIII-no" the way Tommy Wiseau says "oh HAAII Mark"?

Wilson Karaman: Honestly, as a fully Calified brah these days, his first name is properly three words forever: "O's heeeey know"

Alex (Austin): we weren't wrong about Gsellman...right?

Wilson Karaman: I don't think so, no. The easy answer here is "But the Mets..." right? His spin's been down this year, and while it's a wildly misconstrued and improperly applied signifier of skill broadly, spin rate decline's actually been shown to correlate with injury. So there may very well be something going on under the surface there. Beyond that speculation, he's been wildly underperforming across the board: LOB%'s the worst in baseball, he's giving up a ton of homers, BABIP's enormous despite a not-atrocious batted ball profile. You name it.

Mother of Dansby Swanson (at home, worried): Dansby Swanson: wtf? He's been SO bad, and it's been 150 ABs, it doesn't seem like it's just a blip. What does he need to do to adjust and hit the Major's like he did last year?

Wilson Karaman: He's...he's 23 Mom, c'mon, you of anyone should know this. He's hitting .353 over his last ten, so it's not like he's not making adjustments and coming out of it, either. He's a really good baseball player. He'll be fine.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Wilson, J DeLeon has put up pretty impressive stats but gets mixed reviews as a prospect. Is his case similar to someone like say, Yusmeiro Petit, whose results surpassed his stuff, and is Petit's career what we might expect from DeLeon?

Wilson Karaman: I buy Jose's bat-missing ability more, as his ball's tough to pick up and his pitches all play pretty well together. I still like him to stick in the middle of a rotation for many years.

Y'all know the sample, but sometimes you gotta know the roots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRWtvbyprgo

Jose (St Paul): What are your thoughts on Will Smith's offensive production with the Quakes? Has the hit and/or power tool ticked up or is it too soon to gauge his production in the hitting environment he is in?

Wilson Karaman: Smith's a tough hitting nut to crack, I still don't have a great feel for him after seeing him a whole bunch now. He'll flash some leverage in his swing when he's in a hitting count and looking to pull one, but broadly his swing plane tends to be quite linear in games. Know a couple of dingers have come at Lancaster, I haven't seen any of 'em personally yet. I'm wary there's much more than I saw last year, but he's a guy I still want to see more of: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=393

Frank (Philly): Your colleague Paternostro shared his love for Daniel Brito in his chat and regarded him pretty highly. Opened my eyes to him. Do you share his views on Brito?

Wilson Karaman: One more note on Smith, he's really continued to struggle with his blocking this season, and he hasn't shown a ton of instinct for getting down on balls. It's something he's got the physical tools to easily overcome, but hasn't shown much progress now since last summer, so there's a little concern there.

Far as Brito goes, listen to Jeff about him, he knows better than I. That Lakewood squad's got quite the collection of talent, so fact that Brito's made that kind of impression on an evaluator with Jeff's eye should tell you all you need to know.

Rob (Houston): Franklin Perez: the real deal?

Wilson Karaman: Yes, his reports from the Carolina League have been real smoove, reminding me on the regular to be mad at league realignment.

Paul (DC): Is a ceiling for the A's Matt Chapman anything close to a Graig Nettles-ish career?

Wilson Karaman: Glad he's back healthy and starting to hit like himself, sure that was a really frustrating start to his season. I have been and remain a fan, his glove's outstanding, he gets to his power, and should get on base at an okay clip despite a light hit tool projection. I like that Nettles comp a lot, actually. Not one I'd considered, but profile works on paper.

Chansen8895 (San jose): On a scale from 1-10 how bad is the giants farm?

Wilson Karaman: We had them 24th on the org rankings before the season, and I dunno that there's been enough ball yet to really alter that outlook at this point in time. So that would translate to...let's call it a high-2 or low-3?

Tom (Atlanta): Juan Soto a top 10 prospect by the end of the season?

Wilson Karaman: Unfortunately looks like he's gonna miss at least the next few weeks with an ankle injury, which is a drag since he was annihilating the Sally. Top 10 might be aggressive, but assuming he can come back and show more of what he was showing, he'll jump, yeah.

This Antibalas full-length has aged as well as any record from the turn of the century: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uviHCCm9UMQ

Jeremy (Hope Town): Topic for next Cheese column?

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, that was going to be a regular weekly column heading into the season, but I've been slammed with work to where it's becoming a once-every-few-weeks one instead. Have a couple I'm working on right now, including one on how and why some guys' speed tool translates better on the bases than others, and the difference between selectiveness and passivity in an approach. Stay tuned...

CountryHardBall (Field of Dreams): Sims or Newcomb for the first Braves SP call-up?

Wilson Karaman: Sims is on the 40-man whereas Newcomb is not, so him.

Chilly (Backlots): Thanks for the chat Wilson. Does Wes Rogers look improved this season (swing, approach, selectivity, body maturation) based on your viewings? Love the walk rate and speed but with his ISO way up over last year and Im wondering if its legit or simply due to his 2nd rodeo in the league. ty

Wilson Karaman: He really needs to get out of Lancaster. I was mildly surprised to see him back in the Cal, though he still had a ton of work to do as of last season, so maybe not *that* surprised. But he's a smart kid - one of the reasons I've liked him from draft day - and he has an idea of the strike zone, so he's not getting fooled as much by A-ball guys. He still gets very little out of his lower half and has a steep, long swing. Slugging's almost uniformly a product of Lancaster, and the approach hasn't played as well on the road either. He's a very good base stealer, that hasn't changed.

an eagle scout (the wilderness): Did we all collectively lose our minds about Schwarber too soon? The on base skills are there, and the BABIP is low, but the contact profile ain't pretty and he's hitting .185 in Late may. Time for real concern?

Wilson Karaman: I generally skew conservative with young burst-onto-the-scene hitters regardless of how much potential they have, and that has its strengths and weaknesses as a strategy. Regardless, I'm not *too* concerned with Schwarber, certainly longterm, but especially since it appears wildly unclear he's on a path to reestablishing C eligibility any time soon, yes, the collective draft sprint to grab him in the 5th round or whatever seems premature knowing what we know now.

Mark (Canada): Who do I want Jake Gatewood or Monte Harrison?

Wilson Karaman: Call me crazy, call me the fool, I just can't stop dreamin' on Harrison's tools.

Roots! Erykah Badu! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIcJwRqnxkw

Jquinton82 (NY): Jason Groome ______ 😱 A) has fallen into the same bottomless pit Ozzie Smith did in the Simpsons. B) was abducted by Ego. C) is in the next episode of unsolved mysteries. D) The son of Waldo and Carmen San Diego.

Wilson Karaman: Nah, while any of those things would be infinitely more exciting, he's just hurt. Strained his lat at the beginning of the month, unclear how long the shelf living'll be: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=31758

Jeff (Bay Area): Does Luis Urias handling AA (small sample size notwithstanding) change his projection at all? Can he handle short in the majors, at least for a while?

Wilson Karaman: I meant to submit another Eyewitness on him at the end of the year last year and never got around to it. I put a 55/30/45/45/45 line on him after my first few looks, but noted later in the summer that he'd made impressive strides with his glove at second and had more power than I'd originally anticipated. Those updated #feelings continued to update further down the stretch. Revised line would've been something more like 60/40/45/55/50 at second. He's a very good prospect. Didn't see enough of him at short to give you a great opinion, though the arm would be borderline for me, and I'd have questions about the range.

smelmoth (Guv Fuller Field): I feel like Lance McCullers Jr. is doing some sustainable (and delicious) work this year. Do you think he has another level he could reach going forward?

Wilson Karaman: McCullers is really pushing into straight-up SP1 territory at this point, there's really nothing else to it. 11th in DRA, elite GB rate, 17th in swinging strike rate...he's gotten unlucky with his HR/FB rate so far, and there's no reason to expect that to not regress at least a little. The one other area where there might indeed be a next level is if he can get ahead of guys a little more often and execute once he do. He's below-average in pumping Strike 1 in there to start ABs, and even when he has gone to 0-1 he's oddly underperformed in progressing through those at-bats, allowing a higher OPS against in ABs that start 0-1 than 1-0 (league-wide batters post an .824 OPS after 1-0, .623 against. McCullers so far: .498/.663). He's already been one of the best pitchers in the American League, and if those idiosyncrasies resolve positively for him he can take another step, yeah.

Frank (Brooklyn): please give me your top 5 SPs the rest of the season...Kershaw excluded (because he's in class by himself).

Wilson Karaman: Sale, Scherzer, Keuchel, McCullers, Greinke

Funk, funk doobieeeeest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4Fp9UN-P-8

Jerry (Earth): Hey Wilson. Wasn't sure if you had chance to get eyes on or any updates on Oneil Cruz as I know he is in full season and super young?

Wilson Karaman: Emmett's had a few looks at him, and I wrote an update based off his notes in an MLU recently: "Described by prospect team member Emmett Rosenbaum as "one of the weirdest things I've seen" Cruz is a gangly 6-foot-6, 175-pound shortstop. After turning heads at the Dodgers' DSL affiliate last summer, he's been adjusting as you might expect for an 18-year-old navigating his stateside and full-season debut. While he's highly unlikely to stick at short as he fills out, the profile's still intriguing at third. More from Emmett: "The power is definitely real, he [shows] some pretty impressive strength given how little his body is filled out."

Stan (San Francisco): Was I insane for using a mid round pick on Jorge Soler?

Wilson Karaman: Probably? I can't quite quit him yet either though, so I feel your pain.

Run riddim! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpISAIbcBE4

JJ83 (Toronto): Is Dustin Pedroia a good playing style comparison for Bo Bichette at peak development?

Wilson Karaman: Laser Show ain't a good playing style comp for literally *anyone*, ever. Guy's a lunatic, in the best possible way. I can see where you're coming from, though.

This Guy (Seattle): Lewis Thorpe pitched on Friday! Did you hear anything about how he looked?

Wilson Karaman: I was excited about him pre-injury, yeah, saw that. All I heard was he threw all four pitches, and the results certainly had to feel good. He's a guy I'll be keeping an eye on this year, no doubt.

David (Atlantis): Yo Wilson, I've been holding onto Derek Fisher, AJ Reed & Ronald Guzman in my 16 team dynasty. Could I finally be rewarded soon for my patience in them or are there performances at AAA fools gold?

Wilson Karaman: I've always liked Fisher more as a fantasy guy than a real-world guy, and my love affairs with Reed's bat is well documented on his player page. Guzman I was *not* a fan of when I saw a bunch of him in the Cal, but he looked to have made legit improvements by the time I caught him again in SD for Future's. I'd probably have 'em Reed, Fisher, Guzman, but all three are appropriately tiered together here, yeah.

Mike (PA): Keith Law doesn't think Sixto Sanchez is a top 100 prospect. What's your reaction to that?

Wilson Karaman: Differences and discrepancies make the world go 'round, and they're certainly one of the fun things about trying to project the Major League performance a bunch of teenagers are likely to one day produce. Feel free to take that up with our Lakewood contingent, just make sure you don't have any steaks in your jacket pocket when you do. We have some, uh, adamant believers in that young man's potential on staff here.

JoshuaGB (Chicago): Odds on a Willie Calhoun call up this year?

Wilson Karaman: Seems likely, doesn't it?

Red light! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V-CWmLBhAA

markdavo4 (Australia): Is there any hope for Jacob Nottingham?

Wilson Karaman: Man, I certainly thought there would be. Catchers are weird, man. He's still 22 in AA, so I would withhold a stat-based freakout. Still throwing out >40% of would-be thieves, which is good to see, and our defensive metrics grade him out to a roughly average contributor with the leather overall so far. There's a good kind of thunder in his stick somewhere, I still thold out hope we'll see it.

Bandits taking over tha dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKDFlwqwdvQ

kc (va): Scott Kingery - kind of exciting, feels like more than Reading inflation.

Wilson Karaman: I know he added a bunch of good weight in the off-season, and he hit 36 doubles last year, so it's not *totally* out of the blue that he's hitting more dingers in one of the best parks to do so. I think he's a solid player, may push 50 game power at maturity.

Chad (MA): Thoughts on Rhys Hoskins from a fantasy perspective?

Wilson Karaman: At some point dudes who hit are hitters, right? Certainly worth a speculative add at this point wherever it makes sense format-wise to see if he gets a shot this year and can translate it. If nothing else he's provided us with a periodically helpful reminder that not everything who hits well in a hitter's park and moves up will automatically start immediately sucking thereafter.

The Scientist dub on the back end of that Wailing Souls cut is just delightful, btw.

Rob (Alaska): So, Michael Chavis is a confusing prospect. Can you shed any light on the offensive/defensive profile? I feel like I want to discount the breakout not just due to SSS but repeating the league.

Wilson Karaman: Greg Goldstein's gotten a couple looks at him so far, and his very-raw-still-forming-first-impression reads thusly: "He has legit raw power and looked like he has enough bat speed to pull inside pitches over the fence. Don't think his hit tool jives with that monster average he's putting up." We'll have more on Chavis directly, I'd imagine.

Leonard (None of Your Business ): Got some questions on low level prospects who seem to be performing well in Taylor Trammell, Lewin Diaz & Tatis Jr. Has your opinion changed on any of these players if you had any coming into the season?

Wilson Karaman: Trammell's an Athlete, and it's been encouraging that he's held his own with the stick so far given he was thought to be fairly baseball-raw coming into the draft. Advanced approach has stood out, even as a report I've heard indicates his swing mechanics are still pretty inconsistent swing-to-swing. Diaz is one of those dudes who was always going to be a slower burn, but early full-season returns are encouraging. Still very aggressive, but it's broadly the good kind of in-zone aggressiveness. He has massive power and pairs it with some intriguing contact skills. Tatis is grabbing the Midwest League by the horns and showing some real high-end projection already. He's probably done the most early on to improve his lot, though all three have had really nice starts to their seasons.

TrickDaddy14 (Bronx, NY): Please rank in order of highest fantasy upside: Kyle Tucker, Vlad Guerrero, Rafael Devers, Juan Soto (this is my order)... Thank you!

Wilson Karaman: Strictly ceiling, no regard for proximity/risk/etc.? Vladito, Devers, Tucker, Soto for me

Steve (South Jersey): Are you aware your name is an anagram of "Low-Snark Mania"? How apt is that?

Wilson Karaman: I was not, but that's probably about right, yeah. What should we make of yours, Veets?

Jackie Mittoo, play us out, baby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bspp4W24N3k

Wilson Karaman: Sorry y'all, would that I could stay here with you all night. And based on queue size I'd need to. Apologies for leaving so many good questions in line, find me on Twitter @vocaljavelins and re-send along. To quote my 4-year-old, bye bye, hairy flies.


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