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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday September 12, 2016 11:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.


Wilson is a senior member of our prospect team, focusing primarily on the Cal League, and fantasy writer to boot. Ask him many things into the night.

Wilson Karaman: I've been ionized, but I'm okay now. Let's chat!

Seth (NJ): What kind of potential does Isan Diaz have? Future top prospect/stud?

Wilson Karaman: Mau certainly thinks so, he wrote up a full piece on Diaz recently, along with a fairly glowing scouting report. I only have video off which to go, but I'm a sucker for littler guys who can control powerful swings, and he seems to have that kinda vibe. I dig it, I'm in on him.

Feature: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30239
Report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=388

Danny (Chicago): Thoughts on Juan Soto - future top prospect? Potential stud?

Wilson Karaman: Couple questions about Soto. Jeff Paternostro talked about him with some glimmer in his eye recently, and it takes a lil' sumthin' sumthin' for a rookie-baller to get that ol' curmudgeon's juices flowing. He's a seven-figure J2 guy who's looked great in his (aggressive) stateside debut at 17, which should be enough to raise eyebrows. Sky-high risk profile on account of being 17 and all, but he's shown the ingredients of a classic corner-OF bat with strong hit and power tools. Here's Jeff: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30324

And as we chat, let's talk some dub music for the background, yeah? Been revisiting B-sides on my 45 collection recently. From the top now, selectah! Always been partial to King Tubby for the biography as much as the skill - electrician/radio repairman by trade, got his start inoccuously repairing sound system speakers, and quickly grew rep for superior work. Fast forward, started designing his own system, wired up channels that let him drop out vocals and add things like reverb and sound effects, and by '68 the Hometown Hi-Fi was the standard sound. Here's an example of his early dancehall dubs, off the Techniques' "Queen Majesty": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z0Yc0j0t8w

Nick (Pittsburgh): I've heard a lot of buzz about Anderson Tejeda recently? What have you seen or heard? How high is his ceiling with the bat?

Wilson Karaman: Your timing is impeccable, Nick from Pittsburgh. Brendan wrote him up in this morning's Ten Pack, and yeah, been crushing the ball since his stateside debut. I thought Brendan did an excellent job laying out the kid's strengths and hurdles ahead. I don't have much to add, and encourage you to read & trust the man. Exciting player.


Festivus313 (Phoenix): Question on a couple young guys...Merandy Gonzalez, Ronald Acuna, and Jonathan Guzman Phillies SS)...do you like Merandy as a MLB SP? Is Acuna a top 100 consideration for you this year or a potential top 25/50 guy in future years? Heard any buzz on Guzman? Stats look great at a young age.

Wilson Karaman: Jeff wrote a nice detailed report on Merandy earlier this summer, and it does sound like more of a 'pen arm, though a potentially very exciting one: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29656

Acuna was discussed at some length for the end of the mid-season Top 50, and is a highly probable fit on this winter's 101, yes. David Lee wrote up a report on him the other day, lotta tools there and holy hell the raw power for a man that size: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=397

And then re: Guzman, I checked in with Matt Winkleman over at The Good Phight on this dude (recommended follow if you're a Phillies fan, incidentally), and Guzman is a guy to watch in the basement of that org, for sure. Feel for the bat at a young age, likely shortstop, nice starter package. He's 17 and a half-decade away, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

smelmoth (The Cape): I jumped early on Eloy Jimenez in a dynasty league, and now everyone is sniffing around...the man going to be a rock for my squad for years to come or should I sell high on the dude?

Wilson Karaman: Eloy, my sweet Eloy. The Midwest Leaguers talked about him in the earlier chat today, and I'll point you to that transcript, along with our two Eyewitness Reports on him from this year, below. Both of those reports put a 70 on his OFP, with first-division likelihoods. I'll add for my part that he was the most impressive non-top-15 prospect I saw at the Future's Game. Gorgeously balanced BP swing, super easy top-shelf power, and if you believe the adjustments he made this year are signs of future growth potential (I do) I wouldn't entertain trade requests for him that didn't involve Trout/Altuve type returns.

MWL Chat: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/chat/chat.php?chatId=1376
Report 1: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=390
Report 2: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=384

Hillary Clinton (ICU): What is a Sandy Leon? Do you see him as a MLB starter for years to come? Top 15 or 20 offensive catcher? Or a flash in the pan due to regress and wade back into obscurity?

Wilson Karaman: A Sandy Leon is round and/or #husky, depending on your definitions, and that is always a good start. And if you can figure out Sandy Leon's season, you're better at this than me. The swing doesn't look particularly different than it used to, and his hot zones haven't particularly changed - he still has holes in as a lefty, away as righty, and up as both. He's just doing a ton of damage on balls in his sweet spots, and for whatever reason he keeps getting pitches in them, frequently. I would not invest with confidence in a dynasty league, at all, but it's been a helluva fun little ride this year.

So by the middle of the 70's, King Tubby was THE man for remixing your shit in Jamaica. He opened his famed studio in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, and was just on another level, working with the top roots producers and creating legit hits out of B-sides. Some of his hardest dubs came off Bertram Brown records on the Freedom Sounds label. Here's a Rod Taylor deconstruction, note the absurd delays and drum-an-bass-heavy normal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6p198_tgS0

Rick (Montville): Whats your Amed Rosario prospect evaluation/projection? Top 10 prospect this offseason?

Wilson Karaman: I'd say Rosario's not a terrible bet for the top 10. We had him 15th at mid-season, and all he's done since is hit .341 as a 20-year-old in AA. I liked him at lot in a brief look at the Future's Game, and Thomas Desmidt has a pretty glowing report on him from earlier in the season here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=341

Jake (Kalamazoo): What do we know about Jairo Beras that we didn't know a year ago? The numbers look pretty good but it is the Cal League. [I feel that could be a pretty good drinking game, btw.]

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, I wrote him up back in June, and I'll get another look tomorrow night. You can absolutely see why he took down a seven-figure bonus, but there's extreme length in his frame and it manifests in more of a deliberate, gliding physicality, not a quick-twitch, explosive one, if that makes sense. He was super aggressive in my looks earlier in the year, and coupled with the long levers that lead to some holes in the swing, there's a pretty tremendous amount of swing-and-miss in his game. The power is fun, I'm just not sure how much of it'll ever play - though it should be noted that the Rangers are GREAT at helping dudes like Beras translate tools into talent.


Baseballdeity (Chicago): I've read 2 references to a mid-season/Top 50 list by you. Was one released? I don't remember seeing it.

Wilson Karaman: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29756

We did a dynasty one for fantasy purposes, too, which is here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29767

Festivus313 (Phoenix): Jose Beerios and Dillon Overton have been hit hard in MLB. How do you like the odds of each to bounce back as a successful MLB starter?

Wilson Karaman: I have more confidence in Berrios as a fantasy asset, and it's apples and oranges, really. Berrios has SP2/3 upside, and pretty much everything in his developmental journey outside of the disastrous 11 starts he's made in the bigs suggests that. 22-year-olds with his talent are entitled to mulligans, though the ugly adjustment kicks his value down a peg or two in dynasty leagues, where a longer adjustment period probably has to be priced in now. Overton is one of my spirit animals as a real-life pitcher: a long, lanky lefty with a really solid change and fringe-average fastball. He's always going to be a guy that gives up his fair share of contact, but he harnesses his elasticity pretty well into a consistent delivery, and I think he can generate at least *some* fantasy value rounding out rotations in deeper leagues. FWIW I wrote him up (complete with Casey Fossum name drop) last season here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=289

Keith Hudson's my other favorite of the early dub movement. His "Pick-A-Dub" was one of the first full-length dub LP's released - most dubs had just resided one-off on the backs of 45's and exclusive to the various sound systems running street and club parties. This cut, a breakdown of Horace Andy's "I'm Alright," is one of the biggest boss jams on my all-time list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwqF9mLJ75M

Mike (Boston ): The next Yoan Moncada?

Wilson Karaman: Mmm...Yoan Moncada? I dunno, shouldn't he still count as unfulfilled potential?

Jake (Kalamazoo ): How would you put together a deal for Stanton in a dynasty? What kind of pieces would be a reasonable offer?

Wilson Karaman: Does it feel crazy to anyone else that Stanton doesn't have a 40 homer season yet? That feels crazy to me. He might be the toughest trade target in all of fantasy baseball at this point. It's impossible to give up on a soon-to-be-27-year-old with his absurd power and sell for anything resembling a discount, yet those seeking to acquire are 100% in the right at this point to demand that discount given his abject inability to stay on the field to date. I'd say broadly, you'd need at least a top ~50 player right now, plus a top, basically MLB-ready prospect and another really good upside prospect to get that conversation going.

The troop respecter (Troopland, USA): Could the troops put together a baseball team that could beat the AL All Star team?

Wilson Karaman: Only if they wore America flag lapel pins as part of their uniforms. Otherwise no, baseball is very hard. FWIW I don't think the AL All-Stars would do well in a fire fight in Fallujah either.

Let's listen to some Lee Perry! He could probably get his own chat, but my favorite stuff of his is the earlier period where he's juuuust starting to experiment with his equipment and hone his sound. "Revolution Dub" is in that "Pick-A-Dub" range of just really, really good full-length sound early on in the evolution of the remix artform. Full record here, title track's first and the one to really hit. Note that these mixes are mono, so get you a proper pair of headphones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amrmD0D3gJk

Majortom (TX): Should I drop low level arms like Oscar De La Cruz or Franklyn Perez for Chance Adams or Brandon Woodruff? Deep dynasty for pitching where a productive MLB SP is useful or prospects with rankings shine.

Wilson Karaman: Sorry this is a little slower tonight, I'm having some connectivity issues...

This is as interesting a question on a philosophical level as it is a real one with these actual guys. I trend towards the camp of grabbing utility from high-minors arms over banking on high-risk upside arms in the low minors in general, though I'll note that there's some context dependence there, and certain arms are exceptions. Adams is a guy I'd grab; Steve Givarz put up a solid report on him back in June, and I'm not convinced he can't be a useful deeper-league starter. Woodruff's another guy who's interesting for those speculating on present/immediate future value. I'm awful giddy about Perez after Mau's recent musings on him, and I'd be tempted to hold him for now. But a guy like De La Cruz yeah, I might nix (or at the very least hope to trade for a pick or something) in favor of a closer arm with more immediate utility in a deeper league.

Adams report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=419
Perez report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=458

smelmoth (The Cape): Thanks for doing this Wilson. Figure you'd be a good guy to ask- how are the early returns on the dodgers draft this year?

Wilson Karaman: So far, so really, really good. Lux has crushed the ball across a couple levels. There's no power there yet, though there could be a bit down the line, and the skill set is broad and impressive. Smith I just wrote up the other day, linked below. Big fan, fits the organizational mold of an athletic catcher with unusual agility and quickness behind the dish. One of the fastest transfers on the pop you'll see, enough raw material with the bat to project decent enough offensive value. I like him a good bit, and I felt similarly about Mitchell White, who looked great over a couple innings when I caught him. Filthy cutter, nice little foundation of a curveball, extremely athletic delivery. Looks like a steal in the 2nd round. Dustin May got some serious and, from the sound of it, well-deserved digital ink on his Swansonian coiffe from Matt Pullman last month, too. And then they paid a couple guys late, including Chris Mathewson out of Long Beach State, who I liked at least for the raw material this spring.

Will Smith: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=393
Mitchell White: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30311
Dustin May: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30061

Oliver (Boston): Seems Jason Martin is hitting two HR every other day. Just how much power could he hit for outside Lancaster? How do you compare him to the more highly touted Luis Alexander Basabe?

Wilson Karaman: A LOT of it is Lancaster. To his credit, Martin has really adapted to his environs and learned how to hunt pitches he can put up into the Antelope Valley atmosphere effectively, but he's not a power hitter longterm. I've enjoyed watching him as much as I have this year, and I think he's a big-league player - potentially a valuable one in a second-division/fourth outfielder kind of mold if he keeps developing in the right direction. I wouldn't rate him in the same ceiling conversation with Basabe, who I think can be an impact player, but he's been a steady dude with some across-the-board skill this year. Here's my report: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=362

And just in case you didn't get that far in "Dub Revolution," here's the other king track from it, "Bush Weed": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJOxxlyo-yU

Jmax (Niagara, Ontario): I'll just toss some names at you who I find very interesting heading into 2017: Frank Kilome, Kolby Allard, Erick Fedde and Mitch Keller. They're all available in my deep fantasy league, should I just get nutty and grab them all!? Thanks, I enjoy these chats!

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, that's a pretty good short list of emergent pitching prospects this year. Kilome was dreadful in a few cold April starts, but has been just delightful since. Power fastball, his. Allard scares me more than most on account of the back issues, but he looked like the dictionary definition of projectable when I saw him in high school, and David Lee's report last week was optimistic about the stuff if not the health. And speaking of the medical ward, if Fedde's healthy he's a higher floor option with a nice, straight path to the middle of a rotation. Pittsburgh's for-them-aggressive promotion of Keller late in the season should tell you how high they are on him. If you've got the roster space or all those dudes then yeah, do it up, though if there are similar bats on the wire too, I'd lean in that direction.

Allard: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=466
Keller: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=377
Kilome: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30075
Fedde: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=383

George (Moosejaw, Saskatchewan): What are your expectations for Dan Vogelbach in Seattle?

Wilson Karaman: I am a long and well-established fan of Vogelbach's hitting skills, and while Seattle wasn't an *ideal* landing spot, it wasn't the worst either. SafeCo has played sneaky alright for left-handed power in recent vintage, and Vogelbach's a good, heady hitter that should be able to get on base at a solid clip wherever he plays. The playable power will be the thing that determines whether he's a stud or more of a good-Billy-Butler type (and I mean that in a good way, Butler was a solid hitter for a few years, if you can believe that).

Let's talk about Prince Far-I for a second. He came to as a bull-voiced prophet of a DJ, earning the nicknake "Voice of Thunder," before migrating into production. Dude was prolific as all hell, and he periodically stole the Roots Radics band from Channel One and renamed 'em the Arabs for a series of records in the late-70's, early-80's. Cry Tuff Dub Encounter: Chapter 1's still my favorite of the bunch. Tubby's-style reverb, thunderous drum claps, the whole nine...here's "The Right Way": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zFI6XsmLio

Justin (NY): What are some of the prospects you're most looking forward to seeing next year?

Wilson Karaman: Well, unfortunately the Astros and Rangers are gettin' stole by those dirty, dastardly Carolinians, but the Cal should still have some interesting talent piping in, highlighted by what should be just a stupid Lake Elsinore rotation with Espinoza, Quantrill, and Lauer. I hope Anfernee Greier crushes his full-season debut and gets bumped aggressively, because he's a dude I'm real curious to see in the flesh. Though he might get traded for a a 34-year-old back-up catcher this winter, so who knows. Skye Bolt's a kid I liked on the Cape, but who hasn't exactly hit the ground running, be interested to see what he looks like nowadays. Matt Thaiss might be the first legitimately interesting prospect to come through Inland Empire since Sean Newcomb's brief stint in the first half of last year.

smelmoth (The Cape): Hot Takez!1!!!1! on the Rich Hill no-no? Also- please make sure these folk don't go to sleep tonight without buying what Derrick Harriott was selling.

Wilson Karaman: Twisted in knots about that one. I defer to Dave Roberts, a) because he can do no wrong, ever, in mine eyes, and b) because neither myself nor anyone reading this is privy to the medicals on Hill's rather unique blister situation. The Dodgers *need* him into October. I absolutely understand the err-on-the-side-of-cation approach, context be damned.

And Harriott...bwoy, homes could - can still? He's 77 now - do it all. Sing, play, produce. My favorite cut of his all-time is this one, so I'll let him talk about life in the clink on his own terms. Wait for the dub to drop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmtvLaN-LYk

Oliver (Boston): Greg Allen, Franchy Cordero and Ramon Laureano all carried over their production after reaching AA this season. LaMonte Wade, Magneuris Sierra and Cedric Mullins hope to do the same in 2017. Rank these by likelihood of becoming an above-average everyday player, and by which will have the most exciting peak season (wearing rose-colored glasses).

Wilson Karaman: I was really impressed with Allen in a couple looks this year. I don't think he's an impact fantasy player or anything, but he has great feel to use his speed on the bases and his approach is excellent, to where he should be able to get on base, steals some bags, and score some runs. Franchy...I'm really surprised at his outburst at AA, frankly. He's got a ton of athleticism and quick-twitch to him, but both the swing and approach were real suspect in High-A. Never bet against athletes, but I put a 30 on his hit tool for a reason. And Laureano's a solid player who improved legitimately during his stint at Lancaster, which is not always easy to do. He's not as elite a speedster (or power guy) as the numbers this year would suggest, but there's a second-division profile there. I'd go Allen, Laureano, Cordero out of those guys.

Mariners Fan (Seattle): Did you get the chance to see Zack Little?

Wilson Karaman: No! Haven't seen Bakersfield since June, but have heard some nice things about him competing in the second half, and by the numbers he's been one of the best pitchers in the Cal in the second half. The Blaze are down 6-2 in an elimination game as we speak, let's all send good juju up to Sam Lynn right now to propel them to a glorious comeback victory tonight, and ultimately a date with Lancaster in the finals so I can hopefully catch him.

RJ (Buffalo ): Leodys!

Wilson Karaman: Yes! Really exciting player, and on the short list of most annoying reasons the Cal League contraction suuuuucks.

Wackie's time! Jamaica's all well and good, but it's high time we got some good ol' fashioned American dub...made by Jamaicans...into the mix. Lloyd Barnes set up the first stateside remix studio in the Bronx, and cut a bunch of just silly amazing records with Jamaican emigres and visiting artists in the early 80's. Here's a straight dub cut, then I'm gonna run one more before we bid farewell in a couple minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DgUD7u1I5E

Oliver (Boston): Anthony Banda's emergence seems to be slightly overlooked, maybe because his AAA line at Reno wouldn't be that interesting nearly anywhere else. Think the D-backs plug him in the rotation by mid-2017, and could he be more than a back-end SP/swingman?

Wilson Karaman: I don't have the best track record with Banda, as my two looks include one of his worst starts in the Cal and a 1-inning stint at the Future's Game this year. But I will say that his delivery was much smoother this year than it had been last year, and while my velo readings are grain-of-salt in the short stint this year, his jump up to 93-95 from 88-91 at Visalia was both notable and in line with reports I got from his starts this year. He's got a good hard curveball, but I don't love the changeup. Might be a guy that benefits from a cutter or something else to keep the pressure down against righties and take that step forward beyond a back-end guy, yeah.

Baseballdeity (Chicago): Does Kopech project as a SP or reliever? ETA?

Wilson Karaman: There's effort and general clunkiness to his delivery that would suggest a (potentially elite) relief profile, especially given some less-than-developed secondaries at present. Especially given the lost developmental time, there's certainly no rush to push him in that direction now, however. When you throw *that* hard with life, getting a secondary to average and another to fringe utility range could theoretically be enough to keep him on a starting track, though the org would have to do the cost-benefit math on it ultimately. Erich's writeup from June is fairly comprehensive on the downside risk here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=29791

One more Wackie's tune, 12" style. Lovejoys. "All I Can Say." My jam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYR-vPKpF84

Eric (NJ ): Top SS prospect in 2021?

Wilson Karaman: [peaks around corner] It's...it's me!

Wilson Karaman: And with that, my loves, let's call it a night. Thanks for kickin' it with me as always. Scooter's your next man up with a chat on Thursday at 8:00 EST, and he's a most proper gentleman of whom to ask all of the fantasy questions. Sleep tight, and don't let them bed bugs getcha.

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