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Chat: Al Skorupa

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday September 15, 2015 1:00 PM ET chat session with Al Skorupa.


Summer is ending, so time to start storing up prospect talk for the winter.

Al Skorupa: Hey guys! Baseball season is drawing to a (pretty exciting) close, but prospect season is just starting to get going. Thanks for the questions and thanks for reading.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Al, In a keeper league and can keep either Mazara or AJ Reed on my minor league roster for next season. Who projects to be the better player in an OBP league?

Al Skorupa: I thought A.J. Reed was a very underrated prospect entering 2015. He had a monster junior year at Kentucky and then I liked what I saw in the NYPL. He's a sneaky good keeper in a OBP league. That said, Nomar Mazara is a flat out stud prospect who is going to be an impact big leaguer. Mazara an easy choice for me.

Jake (Philadelphia): With Andrew Knapp's good season, and Jorge Alfaro coming over in the Hamels trade, who do you think the catcher of the future is for the Phillies?

Al Skorupa: Well, I think there's a strong chance it's neither guy, but they both have a shot. Dealing with Knapp first, I don't know he does enough with the glove or bat to profile as an everyday player. He's solid on both ends and he'll play in the bigs, but he's a below average defender who doesn't throw well (though I saw better from his as an amateur, pre-TJ). He's got some pop, but for me he's kind of straddling that line of offensive minded backup catcher... and that's a tough nut to crack. Alfaro I really don't have a lot of history with, but I've encountered more and more people who don't think he will catch. If so, he might just be a solid RF type. I like to phrase things in the context of how I would do things rather than what I think teams will do... I'd want a better defender for my everyday catcher of the future.

ColeWhittier (Pasadena): With Richie Shaffer's changes at the plate having a positive effect, how do you grade his bat and game power for the future? Can he be a starting 1B for TB for the next few years?

Al Skorupa: I haven't seen him this year other than T.V., but my take on him off numerous viewings in past years was that it's a long swing with below average bat speed and a lot of swing and miss. I think it's a 3 or 4 hit tool, but the power is very legit. Useful big league piece for me, but he's not a good fit as a 1B on a playoff team. Tampa Bay has (wisely) shown a preference for better defense at 1B, too. Shaffer big and kind of stiff actions in the field. Fine at 1B, but overall package kind of underwhelms me for a 1B. The threshold to be good there is just so high in the big leagues. Liked Shaffer entering this year and pushed for him on our lists, fwiw. I don't think he's terribly different profile from their 1st rounder last year Gillaspie.

caseyj15 (Medford, OR): Who's the better short and long term prospect Correa or Bryant?

Al Skorupa: Not a bad choice here. And I mean that in the sense that they're both cornerstone guys for me. BUT I really didn't have to think about it too hard before saying Correa. I'm always looking long term/future grades when I evaluate, but Bryant has been a smidgen better hitter so far and one of the guys is a shortstop. So that kind of settles short term for me, too. I don't know what Carlos Correa doesn't do at a spectacular level on a baseball field. Game is way, way too easy for that dude.

Ted (San Jose): So this year has been pretty terrible for A's fans. Billy Beane dealt the first legit offensive star in Josh Donaldson this team has had since Miguel Tejada, and he got pennies on the dollar (fingers crossed on Franklin Barreto!). Then we saw Jesse Hahn go down with a serious injury and I think he may be sidelined permanently. So give me some good news about the farm. Sean Manaea and Dillon Overton -- thoughts? How about Renato Nunez and Matt Olson? Is Matt Chapman anything other than a Stockton mirage?

Al Skorupa: Still shaking my head at the Donaldson trade. I liked pretty much all the pieces the A's got back... but they aren't guys you trade a star 3B for. Really like Manaea. He's a dude. Going to be perfect middle rotation/3 SP in Oakland. Not sure the fastball command will be there for anything more than that though. Great park for his skill set, too. And man... personality is a perfect fit for the A's. Great get. Overton wasn't throwing very hard last I heard. Have to see where the health is there, but he's got some potential. My reports on the other guys are pretty dated. I wasn't a big fan of Olson.

michael (dc): which prospect has made the most progress this year in moving from being a thrower to being a pitched in terms of command and curve/changeup

Al Skorupa: Pretty broad question... the one who immediately popped in my head was Henry Owens. The curve has come a long way this year. I used to project it as a grade 3 and it's probably average at worst now. All the same, role remains unchanged for me - 4 starter. You can only go so far without fastball command.

jwise224 (DTLA): Hey Al, thanks for the chat! Isan Diaz has had a marvelous season for the D-backs, showing more power than we anticipated and he's still playing short. Ultimately, does he move to second and do you think his power is something that will carry on going forward?

Al Skorupa: Saw Isan on the backfields this Spring and a few times over last couple years. I think he's a 2B. Just doesn't have the footspeed or actions for shortstop, but he improved enough where I had to stop and think about it... so maybe some team could play him there. I just wouldn't. He doesn't run like a shortstop and I don't think it will get any better as he reaches mid 20's. I'm not shocked at all by his power. There aren't many guys who create the kind of bat speed Isan does. The Robbie Cano comp has been thrown out there a billion times, but he really does have that swing and look. I didn't expect Isan to hit so well this early, but I was mostly concerned with an overly patient approach at the plate. He put together some timid at bats for me against atrocious high school pitching and that always concerns me. You don't need to be showing scouts you're looking for a pitch in a certain quadrant when you're facing a terrible high school pitcher who can't throw a strike and is sitting 70mph. Overall I think the guy is a league average type 2B starter.

Mike (NY): Watching Byron Buxton's debut at the plate has been as depressing as his glovework and arm have been thrilling. Is that anything more than typical adjustment to the bigs (seeing has he's had a fraction of the upper minors PAs as peers), or is a reevaluation of his bat tools in order?

Al Skorupa: You know... over last couple years I had preached patience with Buxton. Preferred Correa. Buxton really didn't understand his swing or have a great approach in my views. I thought he coasted on the crazy loud tools, awesome bat speed and the fact he's a superman level athlete. The upside here is that... well, he does have crazy loud tools, awesome bat speed and he is a superman level athlete! I think the lost developmental time weighs very heavily here. Not sure what Twins PD could have done differently. You needed to keep advancing him to challenge him so he couldn't coast on his tools. This may just take a little while and he may have to be a post hype guy.

Pelecos (Gville): Hey Al, how do you go about scouting on a consistent basis as well as having a job? I want to pursue scouting for a bit after school but am worried about being able to have a sustainable living. Thanks

Al Skorupa: It's not easy, man. I work another job with pretty flexible hours and spend a lot of time picking my spots - and it really irks me when I guess wrong. No one writing about baseball on the internet is in it for the money, though. The great people at BP take pretty good care of us comparatively and I'm super appreciative of the great job they do, but there isn't a tremendous amount of money in this industry to go around. You have to love this stuff to do it and there's no guarantees of anything. Have a ton of respect for a lot of people hustling around this industry. Even in scouting the money they get isn't what it should be.

Dada (middle america): Say you were able to teach your son to pitch from both sides. Would it be best then to have him pitch side armed from both sides, to be hard to pick up for each batter? The Oakland dude, pitches overhand from the right side, and side arm from the left I noticed.

Al Skorupa: Honestly, I would just want him to focus on one arm. It's hard enough to do that. So much prep and throwing and working out goes into pitching... now double those hours to try to get ok with your weaker arm? Pass. Rather my kid go to the movies and live his life with that time.

I'm not 100%, but I think one of these switch throwers (either Venditte or the kid Perez the Indians drafted became a switch thrower because they broke their arm or some injury like that. Venditte I saw in AA, and I just think it's a well below average FB and you can close the book with that. The platoon advantage isn't worth a whole lot to me if you're using a 3 FB (and it's not only velo that makes it a 3). Perez I guess had a down spring, but he was much better on the Cape than my looks at Venditte. Average velo from both sides flashing a plus breaking ball from both sides.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): What are the chances for J.P Crawford and/or Orlando Arcia to be in the big leagues prior to the All-Star break 2016?

Al Skorupa: I'd say good. Both guys are really, really damn good and AA is already a phone call from the majors. if those teams are out of it they could delay the time frame, but on talent and MLB readiness they both could help right now.

Mark (Arkansas): Are left-handed SP's less of a commodity now that right-handed SP's are aided by defensive shifts vs left-handed batters. While, left-handed pitchers don't necessarily benefit vs right-handed hitters in this same way.

Al Skorupa: This is a pretty interesting line of thought. LHPs will always be a commodity though. Remember that only ~10% of the population is LH. Also, the platoon advantage is largely derived from the looks batters get at secondaries, in particular breaking stuff. Interested to see if there's any effect on platoon advantage because of the extra shifting though. For me, it's just so hard to find any 1-2-3 SPs that handedness is kind of a tertiary concern in evaluation. Not everyone thinks that way, though.

John M (CT): Lindor is AL ROY? What do you think is holding up Buxton's progress?

Al Skorupa: Correa for me right now. Don't put too much weight on the defensive aspects of the various WARs, though I have Lindor as a 7 defender. It's certainly close. Covered Buxton in another question above.

mdickson (Baton Rouge): Would you rank these hitters in a keep forever league? Thanks. H Olivera, Mazara, Swihart, N Williams, Brinson, B Zimmer, O Herrera.

Al Skorupa: Mazara -- Brinson, Williams, Zimmer, Swihart -- Herrera. Haven't seen a lot of Olivera, so omitting him. 2B a knock against him.

John M (CT): Any thoughts on why pitching prospects in the Baltimore system need to move on to other teams to reach their potential? Miles away from the way it was in the glory days of Palmer, McNally, et al

Al Skorupa: I don't know if they need to move on, but I don't see why (health permitting) Gausman-Bundy-Harvey can't all be 2 starters. Things certainly haven't gone to plan there. That's a super talented group of young arms. Like Mike Wright a lot, too. Givens can be a late inning arm. Wilson just another guy, but solid big leaguer. You can point to some of the things the O's do developmentally, but for all those it hasn't worked it's still worked for plenty of different guys

Jpilgrim (Jenks): Hey Al, can you give us a couple prospects that are flying under the radar that we should know about?

Al Skorupa: I don't know about "under the radar," but I think Luis Ortiz is a stud. Jose Mateo sounds like he could fly up. Clint Frazier and Lewis Brinson probably moved up big time. Jordan Patterson on the Rockies really impressed me as well. Red Sox 1st rounder Andrew Benintendi wowed people in the NYPL. Victor Robles on the Nats in the NYPL too.

Jim (Paris): Top 5 SS and 3B in 3 years (real, fantasy, or both)? I dare you!

Al Skorupa: I tried to answer this... it's impossible! We're really entering an apparent golden age for shortstops.

Hmm... makes me wonder if a generation ago some of these up the middle talents were bulking up with artificial help and moving to corners. The way baseball is played today is 100% more enjoyable than the 90's HRs up and down the order to me. This is fun stuff. Athletes.

Timmy (Alaska): Can you think of any hitters/pitchers in the minors who either are perfect or bad fits for the major league clubs home ball parks? I.e., left-handed power hitter in a good park for left-handed power.

Al Skorupa: Manaea and Oakland work well. I think Miguel Castro may work well in Colorado. Nick Williams and Alfaro will probably both do well in CBP. Greg Bird and Yankee Stadium a fit.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Why didn't the Padres at least give Rymer Liriano a September call-up?

Al Skorupa: Not sure. Still kind of confused but respectful of what the Padres did this year. They had a decent amount of guys at those positions. Looks like Liriano had a good season in the PCL, but he looked awful to me on Spring backfields. No idea at the plate at all. One day on the backfields he did about three different things that would typically make me want to cross a guy's name off. Just one look, of course.

Phil (Denver): Best 5x5 OBP keeper? Baez, Russell, Yelich, Conforto, Soler, Eaton, or Peralta? I'm leaning Conforto in his accent and small MLB sample. What say you, thanks.

Al Skorupa: Think I'd still go Russell or Soler, but Conforto not a bad choice.

Festivus313 (Phoenix): Big year for Trey Mancini. Do you see any every day guy there at the MLB level?

Al Skorupa: Man... he hits every time I see him. It's a tough profile as a rhh 1B without big over the fence power, but he may hit enough that you'll have to find something to do with him.

BC (Urbandale): What is Schwarber's ceiling as far as power numbers? and do you think C.J. edwards is ever a #3 or 4 in the cubs rotation?

Al Skorupa: Sky high. He's really strong with a great swing. 25+ a year and the peak he's probably going to lead the league or end up close (to a teammate probably!).

hausman (chicago): Sean Newcomb led the minors in strikeouts this year. If he can sharpen his control - he still hasn't pitched for very long and comes from a cold weather state - are we looking at a future topline ace in the making?

Al Skorupa: I never saw an Ace. I just don't think he'll ever repeat terribly well and his command won't be great, but he's going to have a long, successful career as a big league starter with flashes where he looks frontline.

mike (delaware): any pitching prospect that u are excited about other than giolito and urias

Al Skorupa: Hoffman.

jd moss (reston, va): You mentioned Luis Ortiz earlier - how has his stuff come back from his injury this year? Any chance he starts in hi-A next year?

Al Skorupa: I only saw him in Spring, but he was lights out. Two potential plus-plus pitches. He's definitely talented enough for the challenge.

Mike (TX): In a head to head points format, do you take Nick Williams or Lewis Brinson (and why?)

Al Skorupa: I liked both, but preferred Brinson. He's just a superior athlete who does things very easily. He needs to get stronger, but the pieces were pretty exciting there. He's also a (plus) CF, while Williams will end up in a corner. Williams less polished for me and the swing needs some tweaks. Both will be every day big leaguers and I'm not 100% on either bat off my views, but the year Brinson had really turned my head.

All the time I have today. Will definitely do this again soon now that games are over. Thanks for the questions and you can always hit me up on twitter @alskor. Thanks again!

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