Talk playoffs and AFL action with Nick.
Nick J. Faleris: Really nice pool of questions queued up -- let's get started!
Jim Lin (China): Are you high on Max Kepler? Do you think his position is OF or 1B in the future?
Nick J. Faleris: Kepler had a bit of an up-down summer, and it's easy to forget he played the entire year as a 20-year old. I like the profile and think he has a good shot to stick in the outfield. Chance for high 5/high 5 hit/power when all is said and done; very interested to follow the progression next year.
Ben (Gettysburg): In 2014 Gerrit Cole is _________?
Nick J. Faleris: ...still laughing about all of the "I'd take Bauer over Cole" lines from May/June 2011?
Ben (Jacksonville): I've seen comps of Alvarez, Stanton, and Beltre for Miguel Sano. Where do you land on the type of player Sano could be and what do you hear from scouts?
Nick J. Faleris: I think this question perfectly exemplifies the trouble with using comps -- if you told someone not familiar with Sano that he would be some combination of those three you've effectively given that person no useful information about Sano's future profile. For me, he's a potential solid defender at third with plus arm strength. Offensively a 40+ HR threat that could surprise with the hit tool. A potential star.
Joe (Tacoma): Do you think that Abreau is going to be more like a quad A player, average 1B, or superstar 1B for the White Sox?
Nick J. Faleris: I don't have any useful contributions on this front -- need to get a look at him. Sorry, sir.
Greg (Greensboro): Maikel Franco seems to have some helium after a great 2013. I've heard "Sano-lite". If it safe to say Franco has a better hit tool but slightly less power? If so, does the better hit actually make him a better offensive player?
Nick J. Faleris: I don't think it's safe to say Franco has a better hit tool -- the key to both will be seeing how they make adjustments to advanced pitching at the highest levels. The power is a 60 to Sano's 80. Sano is the better overall offensive talent, and the better athlete.
Peter (Oakland): So do we have enough information yet to get really excited about Sonny Gray in 2014, or have we seen the best?
Nick J. Faleris: I think you've seen the blueprint for Gray (and players with similar profiles, actually). His success will depend on his ability to execute his secondaries. If he does that, the elevated fastball will play and you have a front-end arm. It's all about execution, and 2013 should have finally shown the naysayers that the profile CAN play. Whether or not Gray continues to build on this success is up to him (I'm a believer).
Ryan (Atlanta): Nick, can you talk about Whether you think the ceiling has changed for J. Singleton based on his 2013 on and off field issues? Who would you compare him to at this point?
Nick J. Faleris: I think the ceiling is very much the same as pre-2013 -- that of a first division regular. What 2013 has done is plant some doubt as to maturity and commitment. Both will be important for Singleton since his value is riding on the bat, and the success of the bat at the upper-levels is as much about adjustments and mental preparation as it is raw talent for all but the most gifted hitters. From a production standpoint, if I'm Houston, I'm looking for .270/.350/.450, with fingers crossed for .280/.380/.500. All assuming he comes to camp in shape and ready to put in the work.
Ben (St Louis): STL saying Carlos Martinez will start in 2014. What kind of upside do you see from him as a starter. If Wacha has two plus pitches in FB/CH, can we assume Martinez can succeed with two in FB/SL?
Nick J. Faleris: He can certainly succeed as a starter. He may need to compartmentalize a little better over the course of six innings when it comes to dealing with adversity on the mound, but the stuff is nasty and do you trust an org more than STL when it comes to giving their arms the tools they need to succeed?
DetroitDale (Tallahassee (eternal spring training)): 1)How are Devon Travis and Cory Kniebel doing in the AFL? any reason to change (for good or bad) their long term projections?
2)If you're Dave Dombrowski, how do you fix the bullpen?
Nick J. Faleris: Travis putting in work; iffy profile for me. Knebel was arguably the "closest to majors" arm in last year's draft class, considering the reliever profile, and he has largely shown the same in his pro outings. Take a look at the Tigers draft this year and I think you'll get a good idea as to what the org has in mind when it comes to addressing the bullpen -- lots and lots of collegiate arms injected into the system -- first six picks could all be effective pen arms, with some having a chance to start long term. All are worth following in 2014 -- Crawford, Knebel, Ziomek, Kubitza could arguably contribute in some form if pushed.
PJ (Providence): Do you think Brandon Workman's future in Boston is in the bullpen, or in the rotation?
Nick J. Faleris: I think he has a skill set that could work in a rotation, but Boston will have a high enough bar for their rotation that he's unlikely to ever grab one of those spots. Pen for a playoff contender; potential second division rotation arm.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Why didn't the Pirates just give Burnett the qualifying offer? They can afford it and at most they'll only save $2M.
Nick J. Faleris: I think they were concerned he might accept it? Org deep on pitching right now -- why pay more than you have to considering a limited payroll?
whjohnson37 (Houston): Quick and dirty... Who is the best comp to Carlos Rodon?
Nick J. Faleris: A clean comp doesn't come to mind -- closest I can come taking into account presence, build, approach would be a lefty Jose Fernandez. He'll be similar to Sale in velo/reliance on breaking ball (similar shape but Rodon throws his "slider" like a curve) and proximity to bigs after draft.
Milo (NY): Reports suggest neither Wacha or Syndergaard have much of a curveball but both has near elite fastballs and change ups. Is Wacha's early success an indication of what we could expect from Syndegaard?
Nick J. Faleris: Lump Gausman into that grouping, as well. If you can execute two plus-plus offerings you can find success. The problem comes when that execution is peppered with mistakes. MLB bats tend to make you pay for that.
Michael Wacha (St. Louis Cardinals): Hey, Nick. Do you think I am the best pitcher from 2012 MLB Draft?
Nick J. Faleris: Nope, but you have certainly given the best ROI thus far, and hats off on a highly impressive rookie run.
Tee (Phoenix ): A bit off topic Nick but I'm a senior in college looking for a thesis topic. Is there anything you can think of that you would like to know more about that involves baseball and statistical analysis? Thanks
Nick J. Faleris: Throwing this out there for the internet -- feel free to respond and I'll post your suggestions. Personally, my stat analysis is focused almost exclusively at the draft and collegiate baseball; tough area in which to compile data so I wouldn't recommend it for a large scale graded project.
The minor league guy (Illinois): Being a redsox fan! I thought bosox should have taken Austin Meadows instead of Trey Ball! Thoughts?!
Nick J. Faleris: I liked Ball. Improved reports on Meadows at the complex league, but still dubious about long term outlook. He looks the part, but I had a lot of viewings throughout the twelve months leading up to the draft and he regularly underwhelmed. Certainly wouldn't pay the $500K or so extra it would have cost to land Meadows at same slot. Too bad they couldn't entice Ryan Boldt away from Nebraska...
Greg (Durham): Do you see a possible #2 SP in Chris Archer?
Nick J. Faleris: Potential is there, absolutely.
Shane (Portland): If you could pick any two prospects in the game to build your org around, who would they be and why?
Nick J. Faleris: Couple ways to do this but I'd go Buxton and Lindor. Potential plus defenders up the middle that would lock down the top of the order for the foreseeable future. Both have potential to impact the game in all facets.
Henry (Billings): My non-scout view of Carlos Martinez thinks he could be one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the NL if given a long term chance to start. Tell me where I'm wrong.
Nick J. Faleris: I'd counter you might be underestimating how tough it is to maintain multiple times through the lineup over 100 pitches -- both as a physical matter and from an approach standpoint. Add to that the limited arsenal, which puts extra pressure on executing those pitches batter to batter, inning to inning, and start to start, and you have a fair amount of variables that could negatively impact Martinez's chances of playing as one of the top five starters in the NL. It's a really nice starting point, though, huh?
Brian McCullen (Lexington): Nick, please shed some light on our LHP/1B AJ Reed. Some talk that he might be the best 2-way player in the country. He a 1st round type talent?
Nick J. Faleris: Not a first rounder; a good spring is a necessity if he wants to establish his value as an early Day 2 guy. Inconsistent showing on the Cape, but there's enough there offensively to keep scouts interested. It's probably a reliever profile on the bump, right? I'll be in Lexington for a few series this spring and look forward to following the progress. As far as best two-way player in the country Oregon States Dylan Davis is the first name that comes to mind for me.
Jim (Baton Rouge): Shelby Miller had a great rookie season but do you see him as a future #1? Seems like he got by with just a great fastball. What do you expect for the future?
Nick J. Faleris: I think #2, but have stopped being surprised when Cardinals arms outperform expectations. The curve has shown plus in the past and I think that's where it falls, long term.
Travs Hound (AR): The AA club for LAA had a closer this year that pitched great. Michael Morin, 70 IP with 76 Ks and 1.93 ERA. Goes on to AFL and backs it up with 0.00 ERA and .76 WHIP, yet to this day I haven't seen anything written about him and he was left off the AFL Fall Stars team. What are the general feelings out there about him? Does he have the stuff to produce similiar numbers at higher levels?
Nick J. Faleris: Potential to provide value but not a "guy" for me. Relief profile.
pete (wisconsin): Thanks for the chat. Any chance the Hawaiian lefty from the PG All-American game goes ahead of Rodon? Also, what have you heard about JP Feyereisen from UW Stevens Point? He was great in the Northwoods this summer.
Nick J. Faleris: Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS). Highly unlikely. Medeiros showed well at the PG All-American game (and Area Code Games earlier that week), as well as two weekends ago in Jupiter, but the profile is high risk and there's still uncertainty as to whether he can start long term. One area scout did offer up that he thought Medeiros could have thrown now in the playoffs as a lefty specialist, which is high praise. But Rodon has the body, stuff, and track record to prime Medeiros at this point.
Nate (Indy): Do you think that any of the Cubs prospects that are playing in the AFL have a shot to make it to Wrigley at some point next year?
Nick J. Faleris: I think Almora, Bryant, Baez, and Soler could be ready by the second half, but there's no incentive for the Cubs to do that given the likelihood they are passing time next year. I think you see the Cubs start to line up those four for a similar arrival time, and Bryant should start seeing some time in right field.
Jeff Samardzja (South Bend IN): There's a wild card in this years draft and thats RHP Pat Connaughton from Notre Dame. He might be the only dual sport guy in this years draft. If he gives up the second sport like I did can he be a 1st rounder?
Nick J. Faleris: I think that's unlikely given the pitching depth, but I'm definitely looking forward to a couple of series at ND this spring to check in (though I'm bummed they are away for NC State and FSU). Always great to get back on campus.
Peter Ambrosini (Middletown, OH): In Ohio. I want to become a baseball scout. What can I be doing over the winter to learn/practice?
Nick J. Faleris: Look for indoor showcases open to the public to keep your eyes on talent and improve your networking in the region. Learn the big amateur names in your region and try to make it out to their games in the spring and, again, improve your networking with the area scouts. See if you can latch on as an associate and work your ass off for the org.
ac360 (wausau): Still thinking of Texas? Do you hope to escape our Wisconsin winters?
Nick J. Faleris: That was more due diligence than active planning. Was highly impressed with what the Houston area in particular has to offer, though. I actually enjoy the Wisconsin winters -- enjoy the snow and we live out in lake country so it's incredibly picturesque.
ravenight (Boston): What's up with Seager and Buxton? Tired after big years, or are they looking a bit overmatched? Or are they looking great and the stats are just SSS?
Nick J. Faleris: I wouldn't worry about the AFL stat lines. Both Seager and Buxton look the part and are going to be riding high entering 2014. Two potential impact talents.
Justin (Evansville, IN): Freeland had a big fall. First rounder?
Nick J. Faleris: I think he's flirting with that designation right now. Velo has ticked up and the reports I've received have him with a consistent plus breaker, as well. We'll see how he maintains once April rolls around and he's less rested. Dallas area folks should check out the Evansville/D-Bap series to see both Freeland and Paul Voelker.
Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic): Thanks for the chat, Nick. What are your thoughts on me?
Nick J. Faleris: Argument for you being the top high school lefty in the class. Stuff projects and you make it look pretty easy.
Mike (Georgia): How has Tyler Naquin looked so far? Legit starting OF?
Nick J. Faleris: I think the profile is more fourth outfielder given the lack of pop. He needs to hit a bunch because even if he sticks in center he doesn't project to plus value there, and the power is limited. That means he needs to be above-average in the hit tool with additional value coming from on-base ability and baserunning. He'll add value via kills in the outfield, given his arm strength, provided he smooths out his decision making.
Paul (Detroit): Is a future .300/20HR line wishful thinking for Castellanos?
Nick J. Faleris: No. Castellanos is a power hitter that hasn't figured out how to hit for power yet, but it's coming. Over the course of the summer he made progress in putting together purposeful at bats, and I think that is positive evidence it's only a matter of time before he learns which pitches he can drive and how to find those pitches. As with all high-level hitting prospects, ability to adjust will be key, as well.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Thoughts on Polanco's power development? Likelier he hits 15 home runs a year or 25?
Nick J. Faleris: 15 more likely, but the 18-22 range wouldn't be surprising. As mentioned with Castellanos, it's about learning how to hit for power -- his path to power will require some changes in approach and he hasn't been as aheady a hitter as has Castellanos, so I'm less bullish on that being a smooth transition.
JusitnG (The Office): Thanks for the chat! The Pirates' non signing of Appel in 2012 makes me curious what you think of the prospects they could have had instead / got instead. Would you rather have David Dahl plus a year of development, or Austin Meadows?
Nick J. Faleris: Considering Dahl's 2013 was a throwaway, it's a non-issue at this point, right? Something I want to clarify re: the idea of Player X plus a year vs. Player B: it's not a given that you are better off signing someone in year one, as opposed to taking a comp pick in year 2. That gets thrown around way too often by analysts and it's lazy thinking. Consider the Jays this year and their inability to sign Bickford (10th overall) or the Marlins and Krook (35th overall). Both teams could easily wind-up with comparable college arms this year that will be closer to MLB ready than their HS counterparts would have been after a year of pro ball. If someone tells you "it's always better to have the player in your system and developing for a year" they aren't fully engaging in the issues.
Playing Monday morning quarterback for Pittsburgh, I'd prefer pairing Shipley with McGuire this year. But that's a matter of personal and evaluative preferences.
vampires (michigan): Nick,
Wondering if Matt Dominguez has any fantasy value for 2014? Also, do you think the Astro players should be able to use 2013,1st year against AL pitching, to improve their stats this year?
Nick J. Faleris: I wouldn't look for blanket statistical improvement based on a year of looks at AL pitching. Most of these Astros players are placeholders for the future, or complementary players for the impact talents Houston hopes to place over the next few seasons. I don't know what the thresholds are for fantasy purposes, but I'd assume Dominguez's value will be tied to guys like Altuve, Castro, and Springer having strong seasons around him to drive up RBI/run totals. Fringy to me, but check with our fantasy folks who are more in tune with the landscape.
John (Vegas): Top players at Jupiter for you ? Thoughts on Cardinals Scout team players Gordon, Jackson, and Reid Foley?
Nick J. Faleris: I'm writing this up right now -- as always there were a number of top shelf players at the event. Hope to have it publish early next week along with the start of BP's Draft coverage (positional previews). That FTB/Cardinals Scout team had a lot of talent, for sure. Gordon looks like a mid- to late-first round profile right now, but has shown in the past top-half potential. He needs to fix the swing, which has gone backwards, and up the visable effort in the spring. Jackson is a potential top ten talent with value centered on the bat, but athleticism to be an asset behind the plate, at third, or in right. Sean Reid-Foley is one of the top HS righties in the draft, but was typical Reid-Foley in his inconsistencies in Jupiter. I'd like to see more consistent execution in the spring, and a tighter velo cluster as we approach May/June.
Jeff L (Houston): Do you think any 2014 HS pitcher is better than Kohl Stewart? Tyler Kolek? Grant Holmes?
Nick J. Faleris: This would be an interesting article. Stewart's value comes in his combination of now stuff, broad arsenal, and athleticism. There are arms that grade out better on individual pitches, or consistency, but Stewart's well-rounded profile is tough to match. I'd have to really think about it.
LeBron James (Miami): Thanks for the chat, Nick. In your opinion, do you think Tyler Kolek, Grant Holmes and Touki Toussaint have better raw stuff than Kohl Stewart?
Nick J. Faleris: Kolek has a louder fastball, but the secondary stuff and athleticism is way behind. Holmes is probably the closest based on his fastball/breaking ball combo, ability to hold velo late, and aggressive approach. It wouldn't shock me if Holmes passed Stewart's draft-time profile by next June, but there's work to do. Touki has the best raw stuff of the group with his FB/CB, but both are inconsistent. He has mixed-in a SL/CT offering this summer/fall with a lot of potential, as well, but he needs to find more consistency in his mechanics in order for the big stuff to play. Right now he just isn't consistent enough.
Cal Guy (Cali): Hi Nick, Our league allows us to keep players for 5 years, but I can only keep two out of A. Bradley, T. Walker and Gausman. Who do I cut?
Nick J. Faleris: Bradley/Walker. But all three have bright futures.
Derek (Orlando): Thoughts on top players from WWBA in Jupiter this week ? Seems like Cardinals scout team players Gordon and Jackson struggled, questions on their hit tool?
Nick J. Faleris: Gordon's swing has been out of whack all summer -- there's a potential plus hit tool in there but he has to get more direct to contact, which is where he was last fall/winter. Jackson had highs and lows in Jupiter, but I expect him to have a very loud spring. The natural ability is there, as is the physicality. He just needs to get rested.
Matt (Chicago): I know we're venturing into overkill territory on this kid but do you get the impression that Bryant is going to be "special"? Is he a 3B or RF?
Nick J. Faleris: I think the power could be top shelf, but I'm still wary of advanced pitching limiting the utility of the pop. He has done well to broaden his base over the last three years, which has limited his needed area of coverage and helped him to hit for a better average. But "special" is a bit rich for me.
He has the physical ability to handle third, but with Olt and Baez in house, I can't imagine why Chicago wouldn't shift him to RF where the arm and athleticism will easily play.
Lots to work with there, and there's room to move talent for arms.
nick melotte (Atlanta): Any insight or thoughts on why Tommy La Stella was left off the Fall Stars roster?
Nick J. Faleris: I don't have insights on that particular decision, but La Stella is still a fringy guy for me. Can hit, but nothing else really pops, and the overall profile seems more second division regular, which isn't all that sexy at 2b.
apilgrim (Orange, CA): Any news on Dollar Sign on the Muscle? Its late October...
Nick J. Faleris: Latest update here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22150
Robert (California): Do you see Taylor Lindsey to basically be a role 5? And when would you expect to see him in Anaheim?
Nick J. Faleris: He'll get some 6s dropped on him -- I'd go high 5 with a solid 5 more likely. He could be ready to contribute in 2014, but 2015 seems like the more likely ETA.
Billy Beane (Oakland): Is Trea Turner a real deal? Also, Will you prefer Derek Fisher or Bradley Zimmer?
Nick J. Faleris: Provided he shows up in the spring with 80 speed and a clear shortstop profile, yeah he's a dude. I think the toughest question for evaluators will be placing a handicap on his ability to stay healthy through a long pro season. He was dinged up through the spring/summer, and the game will only get more physical. For his profile, it's not just about staying in the lineup, he needs the speed to play to its utmost in order to be a true impact talent.
Fisher is a superior draft prospect at this point. Zimmer made some noise this summer and has, I think, artificially inflated his value. He's still a projection talent, albeit an interesting one, but you're reliant on more changing (strength, swing, etc.) with Zimmer than you are Fisher. Both could fluctuate between first and third rounder depending on their springs, but for my money it's Fisher ahead of Zimmer right now by a decent amount.
Ty (Chicago): Javier Baez's peak MLB season may look like ________?
Nick J. Faleris: Soriano with the Nationals? What was that, 2006?
Dave S (N.C.): Will be posting draft rankings? Sneak peak at a top 15?
Nick J. Faleris: No rankings in the plans, but the positional preview series will give you all the top names you need to know. I promise to role them out regularly through November/December, and there will be video on most of the players covered, as well.
Pete (Cali): Supposedly the quality of the AFL is down compared to previous years. How true is this?
Nick J. Faleris: I think the pitching may be a little on the light side due to the number of arms promoted or shut down. How can you argue with a positional crop that includes Buxton, Addy Russel, Almora, Bryant, Soler, Hedges, etc.?
Fonz (Milwaukee): Curious, why Olt/Baez at 3B/2B over Baez/Alcantara? Is that based on (i) Olt being better than Alcantara, (ii) a feeling that Baez would be better at 2B than at 3B, (iii) just a reflection that Olt is probably closer to MLB-ready, or (iv) sit on it Fonz, it's none of things, it's really _______.
Nick J. Faleris: Olt was brought in by this front office, and I have to imagine he's got the inside track on the 3b job long term. I think 3b is the best fit for Baez, but he is athletic enough to find a home at 2b. A really, really smart evaluator not with the Cubs offered up to me that he'd put money on Baez being the big piece that eventually gets moved for a young front-end arm -- primarily because his acquisition was not tied to this FO. Vogelbach would fit that description as well...
izzy2112 (New York): A questioner said Syndergaard had an near elite change but not much of a curve. Isn't it more of the other way around?
Nick J. Faleris: I thought the question was more about two pitch pitchers -- Syndergaard's curve definitely took step forward this year and I'd classify it as a future plus pitch to go along with the plus to plus-plus fastball.
David (Malibu): Is a top 50, a top 100, and an org top 10 guy close to what the Cubs would get for Samardzija?
Nick J. Faleris: Seems rich since he's not going to be all that inexpensive, but I guess it depends on the risk profile that goes with each of those designations.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Regarding Meadows, I don't think I've seen a prospect so new that already has so many differing opinions, what is specfically concerning about him?
Nick J. Faleris: Can show #slack on the field, and he's gotten very big very quickly, raising concerns he might not be a center fielder long term. With the exception of one great AB vs Brett Morales in the UA All-America game at Wrigley, he struggled a ton when pitted against the top HS talents in his class. He's an excellent athletes that checks off all the boxes for what you want to see, but for a lot of evaluators the presentation graded out well below the ingredients.
He gets a clean slate with the pro scouting departments, so it'll be really interesting to see what kind of impression he makes in full season ball.
Dan (Idaho): Just to clarify on your response to the Fonz - you think it's entirely possible that Baez gets moved, meaning Alcantara takes over at 2B. As a Cubs fan I'm torn, but really want what's best for the club, even if Baez were to change unis. Thanks!
Nick J. Faleris: Sure. Generally you don't expect a talent-hungry org to move a top 20 prospect in the game, but the depth on the positional side could lead to that in this instance.
Be back in five minutes -- have to make a quick non-baseball call. As an aside, still a bunch of really great questions rolling in -- BP readers are on point.
Mario66 (Pittsburgh): How much does Guerreri's stock get dinged by the drug positive, considering that it will not result in him missing any time (thank you TJ!). There were nebulous make-up concerns at the time he was drafted - are they now exacerbated by the test?
Nick J. Faleris: No -- so long as he comes back healthy and continues to work his way through a comprehensive Rays developmental plan, he'll be a highly regarded prospect.
patmhickey (Evansville, Ind.): Schwarber can mash. But do you think he can stick behind the plate?
Nick J. Faleris: You touched on the biggest chink in his draft stock armor. I guess you run him out there as long as you can, but he's not a catcher for me. Maybe you can hide him in left? I don't love the fit at first base, either. Might end-up being handled similar to fellow Hoosier Alex Dickerson.
It'll also be dependent on who drafts him, right? Some orgs have shown a high level of tolerance for poor catcher defense in the name of offensive potential, whereas others wouldn't allow him to bring the tools of ignorance to the field.
Ron (Boston): From watching the Cape League this summer, I got to see Kyle Schwarber and Sean Newcomb. Any thoughts on their future in MLB and the Draft?
Nick J. Faleris: I'd be surprised to see Newcomb out of the first round considering the size, stuff, and the fact he'll be facing overmatched competition throughout the spring. Schwarber walks and quacks like a second rounder, so that's what I'll call him for now.
Jack (PA): If you're the Pirates would you be willing to risk going into 2014 with a modest RF because Polanco can be a significant contributor in the 2nd half?
Nick J. Faleris: I don't think you hold a space for second half Polanco. If I were feeling saucy I'd suggest dangling a big package of prospects for Stanton.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Alex Dickerson will never be a top prospect, but do you think he can be a decent starting 1st baseman in 2015.
Nick J. Faleris: He's a geared-to-pull lefty with maybe 55 playable pop and plays an "okay" first base. For my money that's a situational lefty bat off the bench, which is not without value for an NL club.
Bobby V (Wayne, Illinois): Thanks for your time, Nick - Since you're a midwest guy - any midwest sleepers we should watch for next spring who are draft eligible?
Nick J. Faleris: Different levels of "under the radar", but some interesting names that you might not currently be following:
Evan Skoug (c/cif, Libertyville HS (Libertyville, IL))
Jake Godfrey (rhp, Providence Catholic HS (New Lenox, IL))
Noah Burkholder (rhp, Crown Point HS (Crown Point, IN))
Brad Bass (rhp, Lincoln-Way Central (New Lenox, IL))
Lane Thomas (of/ss, Bearden HS (Knoxville, TN))
Also, Cam Varga is a hard throwing Cincy righty that shut down but will hopefully be dealing this spring -- potential first rounder.
Bill (New Mexico): With all the pitching St. Louis has, seems like they'd trade some of it for a shortstop if a deal presented itself. Which of their young arms would you be most willing, if you were John Mozeliak, to move in order to net Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus? Assume a position-player throw-in to make it "fair" if needed.
Nick J. Faleris: I think the biggest challenge is probably convincing the Rangers they aren't better off trading for Price and extending him.
EDG (Houston): Enjoyed the Astros Top 10 from the Professor. The system is starting to get exciting! Is there a Strasburg/Harper type in the draft to add this year?
Nick J. Faleris: NC State's Friday night starter Carlos Rodon (lhp) is probably the closest, but he's not in Strasburg's class -- Stras boasted future 80/70/70 fastball/breaking ball/change, and Rodon is closer to 65/70/60. ECU's Jeff Hoffman (rhp) might be right there with Rodon by next June, and considering his fastball-first approach, as opposed to Rodon's heavy use of the breaking ball, could already rate higher for some evaluators.
Mario66 (Pittsburgh ): What are your thoughts on two 2014 draft guys who did not pitch this summer: Aaron Nola and Mike Cederoth?
Nick J. Faleris: Potential first rounders. Cederoth is a BIG arm -- will sit mid- to upper-90s and carry it late, touching triple digits. Will flash a plus breaker but generally the secondaries lag. Nola is a weighty FB guy that creates a tough angle out of a low slot. CH is ahead of the breaking ball. Both might wind up in the pen but will be given the opportunity to start.
Dave (Pittsburgh): Looking at the Angels system, which is coming out tomorrow, would you take the Pirates 6-10 prospects over the Angels 1-5?
Nick J. Faleris: I very well might.
Paul (DC): Did any of the upper prospects who got called up to the MLB level after the All Star break but before September 1st either strongly help or hurt their status by what they did in the Bigs?
Nick J. Faleris: If I understand the question, we are talking about players still prospect eligible? No one jumps out as a big swing-in-value guy. For guys that are no longer eligible, I think Sonny Gray won over some folks.
Mario66 (Pittsburgh): What are your thoughts on Trea Turner? Will he develop into: (1) a top-of-the-order shortstop on a first division team, or (2) Gary Brown redux, with a chance to stick on the dirt?
Nick J. Faleris: A few Turner questions as I scroll through so I'll address all here. Turner has a better approach than Brown and overall has a better on-base profile. Turner, when healthy, will also show a true shortstop defensive profile, which is a tough position to fill. The hope is you're buying a future #1 or #2 hitter that can play an average or better shortstop and provide good value on the bases. The fallback is a solid defensive shortstop with a bottom-third offensive profile but good value on the bases. Basically, so long as he has the big speed and can play a good shortstop he is going to make time on a big league roster. There's a higher offensive bar for Brown in center, and he's simply shy of Turner's offensive profile.
Mario66 (Pittsburgh): Based on your AFL looks, has anything changed regarding Colin Moran's power potential or positional future?
Nick J. Faleris: I have not seen Moran live since UNC, so I'd be going off video. Based on that, and discussions I've had with folks who have seen him up close recently, my opinion hasn't changed -- above-average hit tool, fringy pop, solid but uninspiring defensive profile at third base. Solid regular.
Josť (Portland): Do the Mariners have a legitimate need to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, or do they have an answer from within the organization?
Nick J. Faleris: Seems like the Mariners have a fair amount to figure out -- not sure Ellsbury should be their top concern.
Scott (LA): Seems like there are a number of older "proven closers" on the free agent market with only a handful of opportunities out there- Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Edward Mujica not to mention the injury reclamation projects like Brian Wilson, Ryan Madson and Joel Hanrahan. With the success that the Cardinals had moving Edward Mujica back two innings and then doing the same with Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez in the playoffs, are the days of spending big on closers finally over? Does a team like the Cubs with no great in house solution and a smart front office take advantage of the oversaturated market or pass on all those guys?
Nick J. Faleris: We'll continue to see a wide variety of approaches to how teams handle the late innings. On the one hand there is certainly something to the idea that there are people who can close and people who can't. But you'd be hard pressed to get a closer enough innings in a season to justify paying big for them (unless, like the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, etc. you simply have the money to spend). St. Louis has such a glut of arms they have no reason to go outside the org, but for many teams there simply aren't good reasons to limit a young, high ceiling arm to a closer role. I imagine the Cubs will look for a reasonably priced arm that they think can handle the job, rather than committing more money over multiple years.
Ziggy (Top): What do you make of the ceilings and likelihood of getting there on Devin Williams and Sean Manaea?
Nick J. Faleris: I like Devin Williams (potential #2) over Manaea (potential #3 or late-inning reliever), but Manaea is the safer bet. Williams is a solid athlete that will should be sitting mid-90s when all is said and done. He turns over an impressive change up and will flash a solid low-80s slider. Manaea has arm strength, but really only showed above-average secondaries during his stint on the Cape.
johnwood427 (Chicago ): Can Oscar Taveras play an acceptable CF?
Nick J. Faleris: He fits better in a corner.
Derek (Florida): Thoughts on Nick Gordon and questions regarding his hit tool ?
Nick J. Faleris: I'd like to see Gordon in the spring before killing the hit tool. This summer/fall he's been extending early, putting more heave and less drive into the barrel, which has resulted in missed barrels and a lot of balls being driven into the dirt in front of home. He needs to get a little stronger and get back to a more compact barrel delivery -- if he does there's a potential plus hit tool there.
fats (toronto): tell me everything about marcus stroman
Nick J. Faleris: He gets (rightfully) dinged as a starter because his fastball lacks plane, but like fellow diminutive righty Sonny Gray the quality of his secondaries allows him to get away with it. When you lack plane, it generally limits your ability to work up with the fastball because the plane delta, top to bottom in the zone, isn't great enough to force hitters to change tracks. Gray gets around this with a hard plus-plus curve with plane deception that effectively changes the eye level of the hitter. Stroman does this with his breaking ball, as well, though he's on a tilt as opposed to Gray's 12/6.
When you have that bullet, it then comes down to execution. If Stroman can throw the breaking ball for strikes in order to keep hitters honest, he has the upside of a #2 starter. If he's too imprecise with the pitch, MLB hitters will force him to the pen. The raw materials are there for a starter, no question.
Ziggy (Top): Could Francisco Lindor be ready by June/July making Asdrubal (although limited trade value as mentioned previously) expendable? In your mind, does he project as a 290avg/385obp/12hr/25sb type leadoff guy?
Nick J. Faleris: Lindor could certainly be ready next year, and has enough value in his glove that the team could break camp with him at the six spot. That offensive line is attainable, but I would expect a few seasons before he hits for that power, and he's not a surefire 20+ SB guy. I see him as a #1 or #2 hitter, long term, that will help you on all sides of the ball.
Tim (NYC): Looking ahead to the 2014 MLB Draft, who are the best left-handed pitchers outside of Carlos Rodon?
Nick J. Faleris: College, watch Freeland (Evansville), Newcomb (Hartford), Smith (Coastal), Finnegan (TCU), Squier (Hawaii), Imhof (Cal Poly)
High School, watch Sheffield (Tullahoma (TN)), Aiken (Cathedral Catholic (CA)), Medeiros (Waiakea (HI)), Marshall (Parkview (GA)), Verdugo (Sahuaro (AZ)), Baca (N Gwinnett (GA)), Griffin (First Academy (FL)), Peters (Regis Jesuit (CO)), Sousa (Benjamin School (FL)), Sands (N Florida Christian (FL))
Andy (Houston): Machado and Correa seem similar to me so please correct me if I'm wrong. How do they compare?
Nick J. Faleris: Correa is a bit more physical; Machado a more impactful defender (though Correa is a plus glove in his own right). Both have left side arms, Machado's grading out a bit better and bit more accurate on the run. Correa has better overall approach to hitting, while Manny is a bit more instinctual, relying on natural see-hit ability. Both have MVP upside.
Cal Guy (Cali): Hi Nick, How does Rodon match up to the last southpaw picked #1, Price?
Nick J. Faleris: Price was longer and a bit looser, with a little more precision and lesser reliance on slider. Both exit college with frontline potential. I'd give Price the nod because the body fits more into my preferred template (and if I'm honest, because it's tough for me to ignore what Price has done through the start of his MLB career).
Nick J. Faleris: I've got to wave the white flag -- running up against other obligations. This has easily been the deepest crop of questions I've received at a BP chat, and I'm sorry there is such a long list of interesting inquiries left unanswered in the bank. Feel free to hit me up on twitter to continue the convo (@NickJFaleris).
Also, make sure you're checking in with BP daily through the next two months, as we'll have Jason Parks' top prospect lists posting, my 2014 draft contact will be rolling out (including lots of additions to the draft video library --> tinyurl.com/2014DraftVids), and there will be some cool "process pieces" peaking inside the prospects debates going on at BP daily.
Thanks for spending your afternoon with me; let's do it again soon!