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Chat: Bradley Ankrom

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday August 20, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Bradley Ankrom.

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Got baseball questions? Ask Mr. Ankrom.

Bradley Ankrom: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining me on this glorious Monday afternoon (or late-morning for those of you on the west coast). I have a sugar-free Red Bull to my left, Texas Is The Reason coming out of my speakers, and I'm ready to roll. Let's get started.

Alex (Anaheim): What's your World Series matchup as of now?

Bradley Ankrom: Three weeks ago, the Angels would have been strong favorites to represent the American League and now they're an afterthought. So, take this with a grain of salt, but give me Washington / Texas. I have a perverse desire to see John Lannan make a World Series start.

Tung Tin (China): Doolittle, Villareal, Pryor...Who has the best shot to close next year?

Bradley Ankrom: I think the Mariners could sell high on Tom Wilhelmsen, opening the door for Pryor to earn the job in 2013.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): How concerned should Astros fans be about the reports of dropped velocity with PTBNL Kevin Comer?

Bradley Ankrom: Not unconcerned, certainly, but probably not freak-out concerned. I think most guys lose velocity when they turn pro as a result of pitching every fifth day rather than once per week. If it doesn't rebound, or continues to worsen, in 2013, then there may be some cause for concern.

jhardman (Apex, NC): I lost my fork while eating lunch, but I see one sticking out of the Angels' back. Can I use that one?

Bradley Ankrom: You say that now, but look at the difference just three weeks has made on the landscape of the AL playoff race. I'd be hesitant to call anyone dead just yet...

redguy12588 (Pittsburgh): Neil Walker, is he for real?

Bradley Ankrom: I asked BP's John Perrotto a similar question a few weeks ago and he assured me that, yes, it is in fact real, citing adjustments in his approach that Walker has made this year. I wouldn't count on him being much better than this (.290/.352/.451), and it is his age-26 season, but will he be a solid second baseman for the foreseeable future? I think so. Just don't expect him to turn into the next Chase Utley.

dianagram (VORGville): As a child, were you ever teased (by science nerds) because Ankrom is really close to Angstrom?

Bradley Ankrom: No, but I look forward to being teased by science nerds as an adult. Thanks, Diana. Email me the address that I should forward my therapy bills to.

Chopper (Indy): What do you think Arenado's ETA is in Denver, and what position(s) do you ultimately see for J. Baez and X. Bogaerts? Thanks.

Bradley Ankrom: Arenado will be given an opportunity to wrestle the starting 3B job in Denver away from Pacheco next spring, but a few months in Colorado Springs wouldn't kill him. He'll almost certainly reach the majors in 2013. Baez has a better shot to stay at shortstop than Bogaerts, but I don't think either will reach the majors as middle infielders. Both could handle third base, but Middlebrooks' presence could push Bogaerts to left field.

redguy12588 (Pittsburgh): Starling Marte, am I crazy to think that he could put up a line similar to McCutchen with more power and a lower OBP?

Bradley Ankrom: Nah, he isn't a star for me, more of a good regular. That said, I do enjoy watching him play and like the idea of he and McCutchen roaming the same outfield for the next few years.

dianagram (VORGville): Okay .... a real question now ... :-) If the Pirates do in fact reach the playoffs, can they rely on anyone beyond Burnett and McDonald .... do they even have a reliable #3?

Bradley Ankrom: Reliable, no, but the potential is there for Bedard to be that guy in October. This shouldn't be a problem in 2013 with Gerrit Cole around... man, I love Gerrit Cole.

dianagram (VORGville): Okay .... a real question now ... :-) If the Pirates do in fact reach the playoffs, can they rely on anyone beyond Burnett and McDonald .... do they even have a reliable #3?

Bradley Ankrom: Reliable, no, but the potential is there for Bedard to be that guy in October. Wandy could be that guy, too, This shouldn't be a problem in 2013 with Gerrit Cole around... man, I love Gerrit Cole.

Tony (Atlanta): What do you think the Barves should do re: Michael Bourn (possible replacement if he leaves?)? Also, McCann long-term extension is a bad idea, right?

Bradley Ankrom: I think I'd let Bourn walk, but there's a reason I'm not a general manager. Aging speed guys terrify me and I'd be hesitant to allocate a large chunk of future payrolls to a guy whose game is largely reliant upon his legs, especially if I'm working with the limitations the Braves have. As for McCann... I was talking with R.J. Anderson about him yesterday and had completely forgotten how awesome his age-22 season was (.333/.388/.572). That's comparable to what Posey is doing this year (+3 years). That said, aging catchers make me squeamish. Maybe not as squeamish as aging speed guys, but they're in the same general area of squeam. Atlanta will almost certainly exercise their 2013 option on McCann and, depending upon the progress Bethancourt makes next year, could let him walk thereafter.

Silv (NY, NY): Bradley, why not a K-Rod scenario with Cole as the #3 this year if the Buccos make the postseason?

Bradley Ankrom: I don't think they want to push him that hard in his first full season. He's at ~120 innings for the year and they may want to rest Cole a bit before unleashing him on the Arizona Fall League.

Okie brave (Baton rouge ): Question on Julio Teheran. I've heard from a few places that his terrible numbers are the result of his working on a third pitch. Are there any numbers to support a large jump in curve balls thrown or should braves fans be legitimately worried?

Bradley Ankrom: He has been working on his curve at Triple-A Gwinnett and, given his age, I'd say we're not quite at the point where we need to be legitimately concerned. It seems like he's been around forever, but he's younger than Gerrit Cole and has thrown 260 more Triple-A innings than Cole. Patience.

sitdancer (DC): What kind of season can we expect from the Brewer's new everyday SS Jean Segura next year?

Bradley Ankrom: Solid if unspectacular. I don't think he's a star, more of a solid everyday guy that you're not actively looking to replace. Could see him having some Orlando Hudson-type seasons at the plate, and possibly in the field (not sold that he'll stick at short).

upkdldaj (1): 1

Bradley Ankrom: 2.

Alex (Anaheim): Should the Yanks just let Hughes walk?

Bradley Ankrom: He hasn't turned into the number-two starter the Yankees thought he would become, so I can see why fans are disappointed in Hughes. That said, he has been a very solid starter for the Yanks this year and that's worth something. If properly valued, I don't see why the Yankees wouldn't be interested in keeping him around, albeit with lower expectations.

sitdancer (DC): Is there a chance that Taveraz starts his MLB career in CF, or does he not have the defensive ability to initially handle the position?

Bradley Ankrom: He'll start out in CF with Holliday and Beltran playing the corners in 2013. Beltran's contract expires after next season, which would open up a corner for Taveras, but I could see him playing a few years up the middle before he's forced to right field.

Rob (Alaska): What's the market for free agent to be B.J. Upton? He's such a confounding player and I suppose at this point he is what he is - but it only takes one team to dream on the tools, and he's still relatively young. What kind of a contract do you foresee?

Bradley Ankrom: I wish I knew. I've been asking people about him (and Josh Hamilton) all year and no one seems to have any idea what either player's next contract is going to look like. Upton has nearly 1,000 games under his belt and I think there are some that believe there's still some upside in his bat. He's established himself as a .240/.320/.420 hitter over the last few years, but I wouldn't be surprised if the second half of his career is more impressive than the first. Such a gifted player.

dipotonotdipoto (brooklyn): How would you get out if you were placed into a giant blender alongside Ray King?

Bradley Ankrom: I don't have a good answer for this, so I'm going to open it up to the audience... how would YOU get out if you were placed into a giant blender alongside Ray King?

ErikJH (Washington DC): What do you make of Scott Diamond's unexpectedly good year? Can the Twins count on anything close to this year's numbers in next year's rotation?

Bradley Ankrom: Short answer is no, I don't think they can expect anything close to a repeat performance from Diamond next year. Not walking guys is great, but you have to miss some bats to have sustainable success (with very rare exceptions).

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): For as highly regarded as he apparently is, I haven't heard a lot about Lance McCullers. Can you give a general idea on his ceiling? Sticks in the rotation or future closer?

Bradley Ankrom: There's more optimism for him sticking in the rotation than there was entering the spring. Houston is going to develop him as a starter and see where things go. He has a mid-90s fastball and a plus breaking ball, so the question of whether his upside is a #1 or #2/#3 will come down to how well he's able to develop a third pitch and command his arsenal.

Rob (Alaska): If you don't mind a fantasy question, who would be your final keeper among Chris Carter, Travis Snider and Justin Smoak? It's a dynasty league, no contracts or time limits.

Bradley Ankrom: Carter would be my guy. Snider has looked good in Pittsburgh, but I'm more confident in Carter's improvement than Snider's. Smoak... I'm bearish. He's the clear third guy for me.

dw (New York): What's your take on Kris Medlen? Is he in Atlanta's rotation next year; if so, does he stay healthy; if so, is he this good?

Bradley Ankrom: No idea if he'll stay healthy, and no one is this good, but I think he's earned a shot at the 2013 rotation -- at least until Beachy is fully recovered from TJS. Jurrjens and one of Delgado, Minor, and Teheran will likely be moved this winter, so there could be room in the rotation for Medlen, if he's pitching well, even after Beachy returns.

Jake (Springfield): Who makes it to the majors first, Roger or Koby Clemens?

Bradley Ankrom: Koby. Talk about news of the weird, though.

September Birthday (Cake Factory): This is a tough question, for brilliant people like you :) Who do you foresee as biggest sleeper in fantasy baseball in September?

Bradley Ankrom: Emoticons will always get your question answered... and flattery doesn't hurt your case.

Thinking about September call-ups, Billy Hamilton could steal 10-15 bases if deployed as a pinch runner in Cincinnati, and that's enough to make an impact in a lot of leagues (I would think -- I only play in one league and I'm not winning it).

@webberoo11 (Las Vegas): How high has Houston boosted their farm system in terms of rankings?

Bradley Ankrom: If you read my article from last week -- of course you did -- you'll remember that the Astros' average org ranking since 2007 is 28. They came into the year as the 26th-best organization, and they've probably jumped into the 10-15 range (for me) with their summer acquisitions, including the draft. As I noted in the article, they acquired more depth than upside in their trade deadline deals, and if I'm grading an organization, I prefer a few potential stars and not much else over lots of low-upside depth.

@webberoo11 (Las Vegas): Whats the word on Asher Wojciechowski's development? He is putting up good numbers at CC? How low is his velocity?

Bradley Ankrom: Small sample, but Wojciechowski's walks are up a bit in Double-A. His fastball velocity was in the 88-92 range when I saw him earlier this year, and I haven't seen contradictory reports this summer. His slider loses much of its effectiveness when he starts, so I think he winds up in the bullpen, but he'll be given lots of opportunities to start in Houston.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): Now that the dust has settled, did the Astros have the best draft of any team this year?

Bradley Ankrom: Impossible to say just a couple of months after the draft, but they did acquire some fantastic upside... and they'll have an opportunity to do so once again in 2012.

redguy12588 (Pittsburgh): Thoughts on the Taillon promotion? Think he can start striking guys out again?

Bradley Ankrom: I think the strikeouts will come. I know the stat line doesn't look as encouraging as some might have hoped, but Taillon is a stud. The word I hear used to describe him most often is "professional." He's a pitcher with plus plus stuff, not just a thrower. He's still only 20 and, like Teheran, we can afford to be patient. I still think he's one top handful pitchers in the minors.

Silv (NY, NY): Any particular reason LAD isn't at least TRYING Alex Castellanos at third? Uribe's .530 OPS is a hurdle, to be sure, and the PCL is the PCL, but c'mon - can we at least turn a void into a push?

Bradley Ankrom: Not a bad question to ask. He looked pretty bad in a cameo earlier this year, and the Dodgers may prefer Uribe's track record and experience over the risk of playing an untested guy in the middle of a pennant race. Not saying it's right, but I also can't say that Castellanos would hit any better than Uribe over the next six weeks.

Bradley Ankrom: With that, we'll call it a day. Thanks for spending part of your afternoon with me... let's do it again soon.


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