Kate Morrison is part of the BP prospect team, the heir to Kevin Goldstein's hat throne, and an all-around delight to this world. Ask her anything.
Kate Morrison: Good evening, folks! Let's get this chat started.
Rob (Takoma Park, MD): 1. What would you like BP readers to know about you? 2. Which of your writings on baseball are you most proud of -- where would you have a newcomer to your work begin?
Kate Morrison: That I have impeccable taste in hats, obviously. Beyond that, I've got the most experience (right now) with evaluating the Texas system, and the Texas League, that my home base is Frisco, and that I'm dedicated to bringing y'all the best minor league coverage possible. As to the second question: It's hard to pick a favorite. I've written for BP and WFAA.com, as well as my blog, and there are pieces I'm happy with and pieces I'm not. As for a newcomer to my work, start at BP, then wander over to my blog if you want.
Reverseman (dallas): Rank Lewis Brinson, Nomar Mazara, and Nick Williams for who is the most fun to watch play ball.
Kate Morrison: I haven't personally seen Lewis Brinson, but of Nomar Mazara and Nick Williams, I prefer watching Mazara. It really depends on what you like watching. Do you like fast guys who swing really hard? Then you'll like Williams. Do you like a more-mature approaches at the plate? Maz is your dude.
Clemente (Fennario): What prospect(s) do you most disagree with BP's consensus views?
Kate Morrison: Nick Williams, probably.
Or (Dallas): Is a pie a sandwich?
Kate Morrison: Is the pie a pie-zone?
joughbrasch (Denver): After the not-bad-but-not-dominant season by Jon Gray in Tulsa, what odds do you give him of developing into a true ace in Colorado? A true number two? Do you think he'll be up in Denver this year?
Kate Morrison: I personally don't tag Gray with the "ace" tag. I see a potential top-of-rotation starter, but true aces are so rare that you can't go around tagging every dude with a 70 fastball and other pitches with that. He'll most likely start in AAA, facing the unfriendly environment of the Pacific Coast League, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in Denver before the season is out.
Me (Here): Are you still down on Joey Gallo?
Kate Morrison: I was never truly "down" on Joey Gallo. I simply believe in a healthy tempering of expectations. Gallo's work ethic and the improvements he displayed last year made me more optimistic about his future, and I think now he's got a better chance of getting close to his ceiling than previously. That power is legit, unless you're MLB Network.
jlarsen (Chicagoland ): Thoughts on the Rays minor league system?
Kate Morrison: Don't really have any. For clarity's sake: Last year I pretty much only saw the Texas League, centered in Frisco, so I've got an idea about Texas, Houston, Oakland, Colorado (now Dodgers), St. Louis, San Diego, LAA, and the Royals.
Akalhar (Nebraska): Congratulations from us at LSB. How fabulous is it to work with BP?
Kate Morrison: Merci! It's something, all right.
Andy (Bryan): Do you know how we can convince doubters like Mac Engel that analytics aren't worth their time to badmouth? They don't have to get it, but not getting it is no excuse for naysaying it. It really gets old.
Kate Morrison: I'm a fan of reverse psychology. Make them think that accepting and loving analytics was their own idea.
Chipshot212 (MA): Will Austin Hedges ever hit?
Kate Morrison: I don't know. I've seen him across two seasons now, and while the glove is an awe-inducing thing, the bat is...not. I saw a few BP sessions from him last year, and he didn't impress me there or at the plate. Of course, catchers can be notoriously slow to develop offensively, so there's still hope, but I wouldn't bet on him ever being known as much of an offensive asset.
Matt (Dominican ): Favorite band?
Kate Morrison: Well, I don't really have a favorite band, but I have to give a shout-out to a friend and a fantastic musician, Levi Weaver.
Clemente (Fennario): Can you expand on your view on Williams please?
Kate Morrison: Two people have asked for an expansion of my view on Williams, so here it is. The tools are great. The execution is not yet, and until now Williams has been able to "fail up-" using his insane batspeed to get by without actually having to concentrate on improving his approach at the plate. This year will be the biggest test for him: Can he actually access those tools and hit a decent number?
Commitment (Issues): Are you able to give us a firm opinion on anything? From bands to prospect preference to Hedges' hit tool: "IDK". Not helpful at all
Kate Morrison: Uncertainty is the spice of life.
Samuel (UTA Radio Studios): This will be the first of many questions since I am occupied and bored. The other day on DFW radio Evan Grant said Keone Kela could be one of two guys(along with Chi Chi) who could debut in 2015 at some point. Agree/disagree and defend.
Kate Morrison: I agree. Both pitchers need a bit of refinement in AAA before facing major league hitters, but I wouldn't be surprised if one or both of them were up by the end of the season.
playballtexas (Guerra, DR): How likely do you think it is that Kyler Murray enters the draft this summer? His scouting grades according to MLB are right around average, but that could be a product of minimal exposure to scouts due to split time between football and baseball. My thinking is he can spend a couple of years playing both sports at A&M, and he’ll get some elite competition in the SEC which should expose his skills on the diamond to more scouts and talent evaluators. Your thoughts?
Kate Morrison: I think that if he goes high enough in the draft and is promised enough money, he'll go baseball. If he can't hack it in pro baseball, then college football is always that back-up option, but maybe that's my baseball bias showing through. If he does decide to go the college route first, however, and has success as an SEC quarterback, I think there's a decent chance that the NFL lures him away.
Dennis (LA): How do you feel about the Angels' farm system? Will Sean Newcomb be a savior for us Angels fans?
Kate Morrison: The Angels' farm system is a wee bit of a mess right now, to be honest. One pitching prospect does not a savior make, but he's certainly very interesting.
SystemError (NoVA): If I took a trip through TX in the summer, what minor league ballpark has the best atmosphere and ballpark experience? Fun in the stands as well as product on the field count.
Kate Morrison: Well, Frisco should get an interesting batch of prospects, and a whole new minor league experience thanks to their acquisition by Chuck Greenberg last season. Corpus has Whataburger, and the beach, and Whataburger, and whatever batch of interesting prospects the Astros send down there. San Antonio had Ballapeno, but now he's angry, but should still have Hedges for a bit. Midland is Midland. Don't go there.
For the money, either Frisco or Corpus. The two are 9+ hours apart, so it really depends on what kind of trip you'd be taking through Texas.
Chris (Nowhere, CA): Thoughts on Max Muncy? Stick not enough to fill an ideal corner spot?
Kate Morrison: Muncy is a first baseman, defensively. As for the bat: I'm still a believer. He showed the patience he's always shown, and though he didn't display the power he did in California, some of that could have been due to an early-season injury. I expect him to repeat the Texas League, and if he doesn't show the improvements I expect this season it may be time to turn elsewhere for a first baseman.
Additionally, a tangent on first basemen: If someone is limited to first base, they not only have to produce for the position, but they have to produce above the other players who can play first, but aren't limited to only that position. I don't know if Muncy will do that. He can technically play third, but it's not pretty at all. I haven't seen him in the outfield.
Or (Dallas): What's your biggest takeaway from seeing as many minor league games as you did last year?
Kate Morrison: That there's always more to learn, more to see, more to hear, more to write. That the gap from prospect to non-prospect is ever-changing. That is it possible to get exhausted of hot dogs. That you should have your ears open for tidbits, always. To check your ego at the door. To be nice to the charters so that you can see their radar gun when you don't have one of your own. That the fried oreo sundae is literally (2) a killer.
Mainly, that baseball is still great, no matter how much you've seen it.
Samuel (UTA Radio Studios): With your myriad of experience attending minor league games, what is your take on the idea that the NCAA chief floated a few months ago that minor league sports aren't "interesting?" I personally think he needs his dome examined, but would you mind weighing in on the concept?
Kate Morrison: I had a great rant on this a few weeks ago, but I can't remember most of it now. Minor league sports, particularly minor league baseball (and hockey) are great, whether you're a fan of the sport needing cheaper admission, or a junkie looking for the "next big thing," or even just looking for a fun night out with the family. Minor league sports are brilliant. (In my opinion.)
Samuel (UTA Radio Studios): You mentioned earlier you get tired of hot dogs. Ignoring the obvious question, what is your best and worst ballpark foods you've ever had? Across all levels, not just minor leagues.
Kate Morrison: Worst: The poorly cooked hot dog at an unnamed collegiate ballpark that made me ill. Best? Garlic fry things from the place on the first level at home plate at The Ballpark in Arlington.
playballtexas (Guerra, DR): I think that the Sardinas-Gallardo trade was a great move. I am also still holding onto my original diagnosis of the Kinsler-Fielder trade from the positive side of the plate. Given the Rangers' depth at major league-ready middle infielders (again), if Profar finds himself healthy and productive again by the end of the season, who do you keep out of Andrus, Profar, Odor? If you don't trade, how do you manage the logjam?
Kate Morrison: I keep Andrus and Odor. Andrus' contract likely isn't tradeable, and Profar probably brings back the most value of the three, if he shows that he's come back from his injury completely. Odor brings value to the keystone, but doesn't have the positional flexibility of Profar...which is good and bad.
Kaz (Tokyo): Compare Joey Gallo's raw power to an instrument.
Kate Morrison: French Horn.
...oh, you wanted an explanation. Well, french horns are louder than you think and can be elegantly violent.
Dennis (LA): What are your three favorite baseball books? Three favorite non-baseball books (fiction or nonfiction)?
Kate Morrison: Baseball: The Art of Fielding. Baseball Prospectus. The book I can no longer remember the title of, but a fantastic history of baseball I checked out from my collegiate library and amassed 16 dollars of fines on.
Non-Baseball: Like bands, my tastes change from week to week. Right now I'm re-reading the Chocolat series, I have Christopher Andrew's "Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of the MI5" on my nightstand, and "Spycraft" by Robert Wallace.
@MaineSkin (ME): Is Alec Asher a possible rotation mate this year? Does his mound presence comp to a Holland who's makeup seems to have help grown Holland into a great MLB SP
Kate Morrison: I wouldn't compare Asher's mound presence to Holland, but rather to Colby Lewis. As of right now, I think Asher starts in AAA.
BonesCrosby (Birmingham, AL): Will the Cubs and Astros finish above .500 in 2015? What team that made the playoffs last year is due to regress
Kate Morrison: In a shocker of shockers, yes.
The Royals. I mean, I love the #narrative as much as anyone, but with their offseason and just simple common sense, they're a clear regression candidate.
Or Moyal (Dallas): Rank (A) the three best sides for a plate of barbecue ribs, and (B) the catcher with the best chance of starting 800 games behind the plate between Austin hedges, Jorge Alfaro and Blake Swihart.
Kate Morrison: (A) A fork, a napkin, pickles. Of course, some places have some pretty great mac & cheese, or beans, or slaw, or sauce, but truly great barbecue should be able to be enjoyed on its lonesome, or at the most with some cheap bread. (B) 800 games, career? That puts you into the Molina/Torrealba range, something perfectly reasonable to expect from someone who breaks into the majors specifically as a catcher. Hedges, if the bat allows him to put the glove to good use, has a good chance to do more than that, if he can stay healthy. To me, Alfaro is most likely to clock the fewest number of games behind the plate, due to both some historical injury concerns, and the fact that as of right now he's just not that solid back there. I haven't seen Swihart personally, like I have Hedges or Alfaro, but from what I understand he's also a solid candidate to hit 800 or more games caught.
liltroy17 (ARLINGTON): if Alfaro cant become the receiver he needs to be, is there a non 1B position for him to land at?
Kate Morrison: Third. He's got the arm, the athleticism, and if he can just connect bat to ball a little bit more, the pop.
Dan (bloomington): nice parks and rec reference. If you had to relate prospects as parks characters, who is who? Same question for BP members
Kate Morrison: Parks and Rec is a beauty and a gem. I am not embedded enough into the culture of BP to make comparisons there, and prospects as Parks characters could be an entire article.
dantroy (davis): How good is Jake Thompson?
Kate Morrison: Very good. The slider is hard to describe in words that are safe-for-work, the fastball is there, and the other two pitches are coming along. He could get major league outs as a two-pitch reliever right now. I've been impressed with his willingness to mix pitches as a starter, and not just fall back on the fantastic slider to get outs.
Ty (USA): re: pickles are gross, I will not even handle them
Kate Morrison: Pickles are amazing. The ultimate palate cleanser that's not ginger (which is only appropriate with sushi.)
Ty (USA): How much #want does Rougned Odor have? Can it be calculated in projections?
Kate Morrison: It is impossible to quantify Rougned Odor's want. Well, maybe not impossible, but I've not been able to do the math on it.
Dan Szymborski (Basement Lair): Under what circumstances would it be OK to drink scotch from a can?
Kate Morrison: If one is extremely stressed out, or one is looking to reach a state of blackout drunkenness ridiculously quickly. No. Other. Time.
Daff38 (Sheffield): Hey,
Thanks for taking time to do this, much appreciated :-)
On to the question - Which of the Ranger's Top 10 Prospects would you put next month's BP paycheck (assuming they give you one) on being first (if any) to make the All-Star game?
Kate Morrison: Of the 2015 Top 10, I'd put an undetermined amount of money on Gallo.
Ty (USA): I bet you love mustard, too
Kate Morrison: The only kind of mustard I can stand is honey mustard, and only in certain situations.
Colin Holmes (Parker County): 1. With Sardinas gone, who is the next great Rangers trade candidate and beyond Gallo, who's untouchable?
2. Pie or Cake?
Kate Morrison: 1. Profar, if I'm being honest. 2. Pie? Cake? Turnovers? Croissants? Cookies? I mean, you've gotta be specific. For instance, if you're asking me to pick between blueberry pie and red velvet cake, I'll go pie every time. Dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate icing or rhubarb pie? Cake, mate.
hotstatrat (Toronto where it is 5 F tonight): Did you ever meet Jason Parks? What was memorable about him, if you did?
Kate Morrison: I never had the pleasure, sadly.
Ryan (Colorado): Is Tyler Anderson's stuff good enough to stick in a decent MLB rotation? (If he can ever stay healthy)
Kate Morrison: Despite the lack of flash on the fastball, I think he's got the control and deception (and changeup) to make it to the bottom end of a rotation, if, as you say, he can stay healthy. It's likely, though, that he ends up in a bullpen due to concerns about his durability.
dantroy (davis): Joey Gallo hits dingers, and dingers are good. Do you agree?
Kate Morrison: Dingers are great. Dingers are fantastic. Dingers make the dinger machine go off*.
*Only applicable in Miami.
John Carter (still at my office): How does Adrian Beltre manage to keep playing so great well into his thirties.
Kate Morrison: Magic. #Want.
Discipline, a steady approach to his style of play, a deep knowledge of the game, and luck.
Ian (NYC): Which trio of hard throwing relievers would you prefer? Keone Kela? Cam Bedrosian? R.J. Alvarez?
Kate Morrison: Which trio or which of the trio? I'll just rank them: Kela, Alvarez, Bedrosian.
Larry (Laredo): Why do guys like Dusty Coleman and Shawn Haviland still hang around in AA?
Kate Morrison: Because there are always holes to fill, and players that clubs have experience with are more likely to get those chances than not. Additionally, in some cases, there's the value to be brought by a "coach on the field," the older player who has been there before and has the respect of the younger guys, like Guilder Rodriguez. Of course, I don't know enough about Haviland or Coleman to say if they fill this role, but it can be a consideration.
Sam (San Antonio): How did you get into baseball?
Kate Morrison: Last question tonight.
I was raised on baseball. My parents took me to my first game when I was two (I heard them on the radio before that), and some of my first memories are watching Pudge, Rusty Greer, and the other Rangers of that era. Hot sun and red dirt has been a part of my existence as long as I could remember, and so it seemed only natural that as I grew older, that passion and love for the game morphed into a fascination with the mechanics of it: Why is this this player better? What makes this guy worth more money? What is a good decision by a DM? What is a good pitch? How can you quantify this? How can you qualify this? Where is the game still growing? Where are the analytics still growing?
The best thing about baseball is that the answers to those questions are still changing, still being molded and shaped by our further understanding of the game. We'll never know everything there is to know, and that is poetically beautiful.
Roxanne (Laguna Beach): I'm fairly new to baseball, but love the romanticism of the role scouts play. Out on your own, sifting through all the mediocre to find that one player...lovely! Do you aspire to do so one day, become a female area scout? If the job would interest you of course! Not sure if there are any out there and would love to see one of us make it!
Kate Morrison: Actually, that one wasn't the last one. This is:
A) Don't romanticize scouting.
B) I would love to see more women in the player evaluation/player development side of baseball, and indeed all of baseball all together. Right now I'm very lucky to be where I am, and who knows what the future will bring.
Kate Morrison: Thanks for all your questions, everyone. I wish I had the time to answer every single one of the many I received, but that would be impossible.