George is a fantasy writer at Baseball Prospectus and host of the Flags Fly Forever podcast.
George Bissell: Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by tonight, I'm feeling fresh as lettuce right now..The football season kicks off in a few hours, but we've got a ton to cover with fantasy baseball and prospects, so let's get this chat rolling. Start sending in your questions now!
Chansen8895 (San Francisco ): Should dynasty players be paying attention to Otani? Is there a credible ETA? Will he pitch or play the field?
George Bissell: Unless there are significant changes to the posting system under the CBA this offseason that overhaul the process, it's unlikely that Shohei Otani is posted before the 2019 offseason, from what I understand. With that being said, he will only be in his mid-20's once he arrives and should be the most talented starter to arrive stateside since Yu Darvish. I'm skeptical that a major-league franchise would risk putting him in the field where an injury could derail his season. He's far more valuable as a starting pitcher.
vgalloro (Chicago): I am in a head-to-head, AL-only keeper league. Five keepers, no restrictions (i.e., no time limit, no salary implications). Hitter categories: R, RBI, OBP, SLG, PA and A (yes, assists). Here is how I am leaning on my keeper candidates:
Locks, barring injury or trade to NL: Sale and Machado
Next three: Alex Bregman, Miguel Sano and Devon Travis
Could move up: Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar, Byron Buxton
Do you think I have it right?
George Bissell: This is a really tough decision. I would keep Machado, Sale, Bregman and Mazara as my surefire locks. It comes down to Buxton and Sano for the final spot in my book. Given the other options you're going to have at third base between Machado and Bregman, I would lean towards Buxton. He's missed a ton of development time due to injuries and is just starting to put it together at the plate against major-league pitching, as evidenced by his performance over the last few weeks. With steals becoming so scarce in fantasy, I would gravitate towards Buxton. Devon Travis is already 25-years-old and coming off several injury riddled seasons. He and Profar (for similar reasons) are the guys I would have no problem throwing back. Thanks for the question!
Ruby (NY): Who do you think is going to win the World Series and why?
George Bissell: I love this question. I know this answer might surprise some people, but I'm going to go with the Cleveland Indians. I love what Terry Francona is doing with the bullpen, especially how he is mixing and matching Andrew Miller based on the situation regardless of what inning it is. Their bullpen is fantastic and if they can find a way to shorten games and get strong performances out of Kluber and Carrasco, they've got a shot.
Peter Peter pumpkin eater (Toronto ): Is nick Williams still a decent prospect? Rough last few months for him
George Bissell: He's still a top 20-30 fantasy prospect in my rankings and he was in Bret Sayre's mid-season update. The walk rate is concerning. If you play in an OBP format, he's someone that is going to be an anchor, but he's got a tremendous hit tool, will rack up a bushel of extra-base hits and can run a little bit. I'm not going to overreact to his Triple-A performance, just yet.
jdmurphy (Rochester NY): Can you squint and see Mitch Garver as Twins' catcher of the future?
George Bissell: At 25-years-old, I don't think he has a chance to be an everyday catcher, no. Historically speaking, catchers have strange aging curves and sometimes it takes awhile for them to develop, but I think it's more realistic that Garver carves out a role as a backup catcher.
Chris (Texas): #1 prospect in 2018, 2019 and 2020?
George Bissell: This is an extremely tough question because ETA's vary by organization pretty dramatically these days. For example, Yoan Moncada hasn't even been in the Red Sox organization for two full seasons and he's already in the major leagues. I'll indulge the question and speculate wildly. Gotta give the people what they want. If I'm jumping past next season, the two names that stand out to me fantasy-wise are either Victor Robles or Ronald Acuna. The dark horse in my book is Isan Diaz. If I'm in a full-scale rebuild looking years into the future, these are the building blocks and franchise cornerstones I'm targeting.
Harry (Lancaster, PA): Which Braves pitching prospect has the ace/#2 potential based on strikeout pitches?
George Bissell: I've been extremely encouraged with what I've seen of Ian Anderson, who the team selected just a few months ago in the top five. However, I'm going with 19-year-old southpaw Kolby Allard. He's struck out greater than a batter per inning at Single-A Rome this season while posting a 3.73 ERA in just over 60 innings. It blows my mind that 13 teams passed on him in the 2015 draft.
Truganini (CO): Given his post all-star break, pre-knee and then abdomen injury breakout peformance, what can we expect from Billy Hamilton next year? Will we finally see 100 SB?
George Bissell: There was an excellent piece by my BP colleague Rob Mains @Cran_Boy last week that explained why we will likely never see 100 SB from Hamilton (or anyone else) again. Stealing bases, even for a generational talent like Hamilton isn't worth the risk and organizations have gotten smarter in that regard. He possesses the upside to eclipse 75. You're not going to find a bigger Hamilton defender in the fantasy industry than me. I was really encouraged to see him lowering his launch angle and hitting more balls on the ground in the second half. If he turns the corner with his approach at the plate we could see something special in 2017, but I'm also the one who said that about 2016, so...
DB (Pgh): Do you see any of the following playing meaningful roles in the mlb in 2017:
Rio Ruiz, A Knapp, Micah Johnson, A Toles?
George Bissell: I'm going to say no on Ruiz, Knapp and Johnson, but I firmly believe that Andrew Toles, who has already shown his value as a righty-masher for the Dodgers, becomes a quality platoon outfield for Los Angeles moving forward. If you're looking for the next platoon specialist like Matt Joyce or Danny Valencia, this is your guy.
Dan (LA): Juan Soto's potential? Stud in the making?
George Bissell: It's hard not to be impressed by what he's doing as a 19-year-old in the Carolina League. Everyone I've talked to thats scouted him says the bat is special. The time to start investing is now in deeper dynasty leagues.
Dan (CT): Best Prospect nobody is talking about?
George Bissell: My colleague (and fellow Effectively Wild team preview series partner) Jeff Paternostro wrote a fantastic piece on this very subject at BP this week. You should check that out. He profiles a few of those candidates there including Nationals OF Juan Soto, Phillies righty Sixto Sanchez and a few more...
My vote goes to Brewers SS Isan Diaz...Mauricio Rubio (whose opinion I value highly) wrote an excellent piece on him a few weeks ago. He hit .264/.358/.469 (.290 TAv) with 59 extra-base hits (20 HR) in 587 plate appearances at Single-A Wisconsin...He had a monster second half and is the one fantasy prospect I'm targeting in every dynasty league right now.
Tink22 (Rhode Island ): Do you think Mookie deserves to get more money then his original contract of only 566,000 because of how well he's played this year ?
George Bissell: What's up Tink? I think now is the time to explore a long-term extension with Betts where they buy out his remaining arbitration years. Unlike Xander Bogaerts, he's not a Scott Boras client, so I think there is an opportunity here. The Red Sox have the financial flexibility long-term to get it done and if they were smart, it happens this offseason.
Anthonyb (Boston): Thanks for the chat George. Can you rank the following young SPs based on talent (exlcuding proximity to majors)? Trevor Clifton, Jack Flaherty, Jaime Schultz, Touki Toussaint. Can I also get your thoughts on the good Basabe brother, and how he compares to other good young OFs (e.g. Acuna, Whitley, Sierra, Mieses, Robles)? GO SOX!
George Bissell: You got it Anthony! This is a group of starters that I think will all end up in the bullpen, especially Schultz and Toussaint. If I had to pick one, I guess it would be Clifton. I haven't seen Basabe in-person yet, I'm planning on it once he reaches Double-A Portland (in my neck of the woods). The numbers are impressive and he seems like an incredible athlete that is starting to translate those skills into tangible on-field production. I put Robles and Acuna in a higher class than almost any prospect left in the minors. Those two are both top-10-to-15 fantasy prospects for me right now.
Truganini (Co): For those of us in single season head to head playofffs, would you please speculate on who we should pickup for the last month of the season to help during those matchups (esp SPs)?
George Bissell: I'll give you two names that are still available in a ton of leagues that I've found exceptionally useful over the past few weeks. The Mets Seth Lugo and Pirates Ivan Nova. As far as hitters go, I'd try to go after Royals specialist Terrance Gore if you need steals. If you're looking for an offensive contributor, I'd target Rockies OF Raimel Tapia.
Ray (Nj): Why isn't Rhys Hoskins getting more love from the fantasy community? I am driving the bus. All aboard!
George Bissell: Context matters. Especially in the case of Hoskins and Dylan Cozens. Reading is a notorious hitters haven that has inflated home run totals for a number of prospects in recent years. Here's the other problem. The bar for a first basemen to be relevant in a standard mixed leagues is so high. I'm just not intrigued by Hoskins at all from a fantasy standpoint. Sorry.
Brad (NJ): What do you think about Tyler Oneill? What kind of impact do you think he has in 2017?
George Bissell: O Canada...I think Seattle is going to be extremely cautious about rushing him to the major leagues following the Jack Z regime that became the poster organization for rushing numerous position players that ended up failing and never recovering. There's a lot to like, he posted a .324 TAv in Double-A as a 21-year-old. I think he's going to make our off-season Top 50 fantasy prospects list for sure. Don't count on a 2017 debut.
Craig (CT): The next Yoan Moncada?
George Bissell: Here's the thing. Moncada was a once in a generation type of situation as an international free agent given his age and talent. If he were eligible for the MLB Draft, he most likely would have been the #1 overall selection. That type of talent doesn't become available very often. We've seen a huge influx of July 2 guys make an impact in recent years, so I understand the interest, but in a lot of cases we just don't know until they make the transition stateside and begin to face actual minor-league competition. There won't be another Moncada for a long time.
Strasburg (Hospital): What's your prognosis?
George Bissell: If I were Strasburg, I wouldn't throw another pitch in 2016. There are some reports that he could come back, but I just don't see it happening. It's going to be an extremely tough decision for both sides, but I would err on the side of extreme caution considering his injury history.
Ray (Nj): CBP is a pretty good hitters park too. Hoskins has hit at home and on road. 13 homers on road and he can take a walk.
George Bissell: I'm not disputing that and I'm also not saying that Hoskins is someone that can be ignored as a fantasy owner. My problem is that he's already 23-years-old and is going to have to reach an incredibly high threshold offensively to matter in fantasy leagues if his only eligibility is at first base. He had a fantastic year. Let's see what happens in 2017.
Peter Peter pumpkin eater (Toronto): What're your long term thoughts on franklin barreto?
George Bissell: He had an atrocious start to the year. He was hitting .206 on April 26...Since then, he's ripped the cover off the ball. I think it's going to be a stretch for him to stick at shortstop, but the bat is good enough to make an impact in fantasy at either second or third. He's a top-25 fantasy prospect for sure right now.
Eric (NYC): Best SS prospect in 2021?
George Bissell: I mean...Come on...I hope this is an ironic question...
Brad (NJ): How confident are you with Greg Bird going into next year. Looks like he has the 1B job with Austin struggling. What full season numbers do you see him putting up? Does .265 25-30HR seem reasonable?
George Bissell: I think 25-30 home runs could be a stretch right away. I would be extremely skeptical of Bird heading into 2017, but long-term, I think he has a legitimate shot to win that job if he can avoid the disabled list for extended stretches.
Ray (NJ): What reliever currently not closing will be handed the ball in the 9th inning to start the 2017 season?
George Bissell: #BEARCLAW
Eric (CHICAGO ): For the future - Juan Soto or Isan Diaz?
George Bissell: Diaz
JR (CT): Next BIG international prospect nobody knows?
George Bissell: I feel like Chuck Klosterman right now...If there was a "big" international prospect that nobody knew about...Then...I wouldn't know about them either...
Jquinton82 (NY): Tirado, Tuki, and Mitch Keller, who's primed for the bigger step forward and who has the bigger upside?
George Bissell: Keller for me and it's not that close. He was exceptional (2.35 ERA with 131 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 130 IP) at West Virginia in the South Atlantic League. He's only 20-years-old and I trust the Pirates development system. They've churned out a ton of quality arms recently. Obviously Taillon & Glasnow head that list but Chad Kuhl and others have come through and made an impact as well.
Brad (NJ): Any update on the "Undisclosed" injury to Sean Reid-Foley? Is this injury serious and does it change his TOR potential upside?
George Bissell: Reports I've seen from Toronto reports say he's dealing with forearm soreness...We won't know if it's a serious concern until he starts throwing again. He had a fantastic year. Plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future.
Wally (FL): Just curious as of now who is your favorite player and why? Do you suggest always having him on your fantasy baseball team ?
George Bissell: That's an extremely difficult question. It's a tie between Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez among hitters right now. Julio Urias or Marcus Stroman among pitchers. I'll go with someone a bit more obscure for the purposes of this question. The pitcher that I think about on a daily basis is Ben Rowen. He's a submarine pitcher that's now with the Brewers. He's fascinating to me. The other two obscure pitchers I'm obsessed with are Eddie Gamboa, a 31-year-old knuckleballer with the Rays and Robby Scott, a Red Sox lefty who throws from different arm slots to right and left handed batters. It's surreal.
Colin (WI): When your podcast cohosts start reminiscing about the old days, do you just roll your eyes and stare off into space?
George Bissell: I think about what it would be like to live without a cell phone or the internet and it terrifies me. Bret and Mike deserve an award for surviving that era.
George Bissell: Alright, that's going to do it...Thank you to everyone who send in questions! Make sure to check out the Flags Fly Forever podcast for more fantasy baseball content all offseason and you can follow me on Twitter @GeorgeBissell