Wilson Karaman is a senior member of both our fantasy and prospect teams. Ask him anything your heart desires.
Wilson Karaman: Why, hello there! It's that most magical time of the year, when I take a moment away from my apolitical feting of Brady and Belichick to refocus on what really matters in life: baseball. And it's Bob Marley's would-be 72nd birthday today to boot, so that means killer Wailers tunes all. night. long. Hooray us! Let's dance.
JM (CT): Benintendi, Buxton or Springer. Who has the best year statistically?
Wilson Karaman: When in doubt, lean with the established track record. All three of these guys are monsters, but Benintendi and Buxton are still future monsters until they put up monster seasons. Springer's in the middle of his prime right now, and I'll gladly play conservative here that he's most likely to produce top value out of that crew in 2017.
I'm going to spend most of my time in the Lee Perry years tonight, because those years were for my money peak Marley. To that end, Trenchtown Rock is one of my favorite game-starters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j6uXOfgWz8
Max B (New York): It seems that Michael Conforto is likely to spend much of the season at AAA with Jay Bruce being named the Mets starting right fielder for the upcoming season. What type of numbers do you see Conforto putting up in the minors?
Wilson Karaman: Unless he's bored/frustrated Conforto will put up big numbers at Las Vegas because he's a good hitter and Las Vegas is Las Vegas. Not sure why his triple-slash there matters tho, unless you're in a Triple-A fantasy league, in which case I want in.
Dusty (Colorado): I'm curious as to what sort of upside you see for Twins SS Wander Javier?
Wilson Karaman: It's really tough to say right now, a hammy issue scrapped all but like 10 games of his season last year, and he's still all of 18. Reports suggest intriguing power for a kid who has at least a puncher's chance to stay up the middle, but it's going to be a loooong developmental road. There's probably a first-division ceiling here, but it's entirely theoretical, dude hasn't even landed stateside yet.
Andrew (DC): Is Tyler Watson a name worth knowing?
Wilson Karaman: I assume you're talking about the Nats one given your locale. For fantasy purposes, probably not yet worth owning, unless you're in a super-deep dynasty with >200 prospects. Definitely a name for the radar though, and as a Nats fan he's one of the guys I'm most excited to see this year system-wide. Highly projectable lefty who pitched very well while super young for full-season ball last year. Don't let the 34th round pedigree fool you, he signed out of HS for 5th round money, and there's big-league upside here.
If you give me one Bob Marley tune to drop into the middle of a club set, this is my tune to make the people wind up they waist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TyHZkNGuTE
caseyj15 (Medford, Or): How do you see the career of KC's Raul Mondesi panning out?
Wilson Karaman: Without a pipeline to internal reports on individual players' failure response, I find it is always really, really difficult to project players who get rushed to the majors by extreme orders of magnitude, especially when they encounter initial (expected) hiccups. Mondesi made strides offensively last year in the high minors, which is encouraging for a player still so wildly young, though his glove at second was rougher than anticipated/hoped for in the bigs, and that was disappointing. I still think he's a very, very good player when all's said and done. The raw tools of a first-division shortstop remain wholly intact, and that includes a solid-enough offensive profile. He's just been so far ahead of the curve, nobody's really had the chance to see the offensive game in particular play out in the batter's box yet, and that can lead easily to fatigue.
Alex (Austin): Which Danny Salazar are we more likely to see this season, 1st half 2016 or 2nd half 2016?
Wilson Karaman: All comes down to health with Salazar. By the accounts I've heard his elbow was bothering him for most of the summer, before ultimately shutting him down in August. That kind of injury frequently affects command and control, which we saw with Salazar during the downturn. He's not a guy who can get away with shaky four-seam control especially, as that's a pitch that gets hit in spite of quality velo. He started leaning more on his two-seam last year, which will be a great look for him with that devastating change if it carries over. I'd cautiously buy him for a nice season this year if he can stay on the bump, but that injury risk is elevated and significant, and needs to be priced into any acquisition cost.
nkunke1 (wherever): Eloy Jimenez+Jeimar Candelario for Jose Quintana -- who says no? (Frazier to a third-team to get the cubbies some sweeteners, if necessary). I assume it would be the cubs who'd keep this from happening, but would that be stupid of them? I get that eloy is a potential superstar, but the cubs have dynasty potential and Q seems like an ideal addition... Am I nuts?
Wilson Karaman: I don't think the Cubs would make that deal, no. From their standpoint they enter the year sitting on four very high-quality starters already, and with okay options between Montgomery and Anderson vying for the 5 slot. Eddie Butler was a nice little pickup for depth. I think they roll as-is and adjust accordingly in-season if and when need arises.
Dubwise time! Lee Perry, at the height of early Black Ark experimentation, working over a peak Wailers cut, because the world is a dark place right now, and we need light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH111yTNRTQ
sorlando (Buffalo): Dynasty League - I plan on competing this year and need to keep two of the following: Gregory Polanco, Carlos Gonzalez and David Dahl. Who would you keep?
Wilson Karaman: Depends some on inflation/how long you can keep guys, but for just 2017 I guess I'd keep Polanco and Cargo? I'm not convinced about that, though. Shop Dahl like crazy, he should fetch you something tasty. Shop Cargo too I guess, and if he fetches enough of a higher price, ship him and keep Dahl.
waheiser (CO): Among young NL pitching prospects Espinoza, Alvarez, and Keller, who is most likely to contribute earliest at the major league level?
Wilson Karaman: Mmm, none of the above? That's a really tough question, because they have a *combined* 6 innings at High A between the three of them. Also, they are all pitchers. I'll go Keller as the most advanced currently in terms of arsenal depth/utility, but I'd probably take Alvarez's ceiling out of the three of them, and that's really where I'd be focused in making a decision like this.
Carlo (California): On a scale from 1 to Cistulli, how much do you believe in Max Schrock?
Wilson Karaman: Yeah, I'm fairly bullish on him as at least a deep-league player in the not too distant future, potentially one with some helpful positional versatility if Oakland works him into different situations. I wrote him up in the Ocean's Floor a couple weeks ago: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=31046
pfenn1tw (MI): Better player in their first 4 years in the bigs - Rutherford or Groome?
Wilson Karaman: I'll say Groome, with the values flipped over career length. I think Rutherford's a guy whose skill set and athleticism are going to provide solid value for a long time, while I can see Groome's ceiling seasons handily outpacing anything Rutherford puts up in a single year.
Let's keep things on the remix tip for now...this is a pinch later Marley, from the Wailers' swan song Burnin' session, and it is a magically reverential and subtle remix by the Roots crew with a devastating Black Thought verse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55oNz7_TRBU
pfenn1tw (MI): The Twins closer with the most saves this year is....?
Wilson Karaman: Uh...I dunno, maybe they can trade for Bernie Brewer or something this spring. I remain a relatively intrigued May guy, with the caveat that his velo decline last year was unsettling, so I guess I'll pick him to darkhorse it. It's ugly out there in that pen for fantasy purposes, though. Whew.
pfenn1tw (MI): Diaz is a beast, but still very young, What are the chances he loses his closing job by June 1st? You prefer him in fantasy over Giles?
Wilson Karaman: I generally *want* my beastly relievers to be young and pitching-dumb. Just chuck it, kid. They ain't gonna hit it. I'm in on Diaz, disgusting stuff, saw nothing to make me think last year's production wasn't sustainable, and it was super fun production. I marginally prefer him as a fantasy option to Giles, as the Astros have shown themselves to be more progressive to date in usage patterns that aren't beholden to the Save. They're both elite options, however, and two of my favorite AL pen arms.
Art (Baltimore): Hey Wilson, I asked this to Trevor but am interested in hearing your take on it: Do you agree or disagree with the notion that Yankee prospects tend to be overhyped? Joba and Jesus Montero were obviously way overhyped. I know its early, but Severino and Judge appear to have been a bit overranked as well. On that topic, Gleyber Torres was a top 20-40 prospect at midseason, is traded to the Yankees, plays worse in the minors and is now being rated in the top 5 by various outlets. I know he had a great AFL, but it was only 18 games and I don't remember offensive stats in the AFL ever being weighed as heavily as they seem to be with Gleyber.
Wilson Karaman: Mmmm, I guess it depends a bit on the nature of the "overrating" you're talking about. Internally by clubs, no, I don't believe there's any valuation change priced in by anybody on account of a player's system of residence. For general list-makers like us and others, I can't speak to other places, but I don't think I really buy that notion either. We may be marginally more likely to have first-hand coverage in places that Yankee affiliates play, but when we make our lists we're factoring in our own and plenty of secondary sources, and making the calls based on a combination of many factors (age-level, proximity, projection/production, ceiling, etc.). Organizational stuff maaaay be, like, tangentially factored in (e.g. certain orgs have long track records maximizing return with certain types of talent, so a guy in that mold might get the benefit of the doubt on a margin or something minor like that). I do think broadly that Yankee prospects (and others belonging to teams in major media centers) will have their names heard by more people just by virtue of their fanbases being larger, so I guess that's something to your point. Gleyber was well on the rise based off in-season reports already, and then he did follow that up with an outstanding fall, as you note. The regular season reports were far and away the primary driver of his rankings gains, though.
I will note that the Yanks system is legitimately as strong as it's been in a hot minute. Between a couple interesting draft classes, some monster trade hauls, and a few truckloads of IFA cash, there's intrigue at every level now.
Rodney Ruxin (Los Banos): If you had a semi-old, win-now team in a deep dynasty league with separate minors rosters, would you sell a promising young stud prospect bat like Alex Kirilloff for an older but stable pitcher like Jeff Samardzija or a rapidly declining star like Felix Hernandez? Or hold tight?
Wilson Karaman: I'd move Kiriloff for Shark there, yeah. I like the kid's bat, but he's several years away, and if you're that leveraged for the here and now already, go for it while the going's still possible. The idea of acquiring Felix right now in most any context makes me sad, and the fact that it makes me sad makes me even sadder. :(
A revolution riddim, dis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eciArkBTeBM
seddrah (Seattle): Who has the better 2017, Julio Urias or Alex Reyes?
Wilson Karaman: Gimme Urias. What this kid has done/will do at such a tender age is absurd. I think the command and game management will both be more advanced in 2017, and I think Reyes may struggle some at the outset of his career as he refines his own command and gains greater consistency in his delivery. These are two of the most wonderful arms in the entire world.
Carmen (San Diego): Is Colton Welker being underrated as a fantasy prospect considering his team? Or is the fact Arenado plays 3rd holding him down?
Wilson Karaman: Arenado has literally nothing to do with Welker, who played in the Pioneer at age 18 lat year and is like 4 years away from best-best-case impact. I wrote about him a few days ago in the most recent Ocean's Floor. He's as solid a flyer as any once you get north of 150 prospects: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=31093
Drew 60 (Rochester Ny): Who has the highest ceiling Victor Robles, Glyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez?
Wilson Karaman: For fantasy I'll take Jimenez, IRL I'll go Robles
Marley's love songs have always been my favorites. Marley had an all-time elite combination of delivery, sincerity, and feel for working his way through a love song. Rock My Boat's one of the crucials for me to that end, understated and just...mmph. Extended mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_U_Wv9TBvA
Jerry (Earth): Hey Wilson. I may have a slight addiction for drafting very low minor OF's who could become names or just flame out. This pre-season I am looking to target Daniel Montano, Taylor Trammel, or Cristian Pache. I was wondering if you could provide your thoughts on these players. Thanks.
Wilson Karaman: Man, you and me, we got similar sets of eyes. All of these guys are, of couse, a million miles away. But! The Rockies gave Montano seven figures, and he showed a fune power/speed combo (along with oodles of swing-and-miss in the DOSL last summer. So...Rockies...big bonus...power and speed...let's ignore the whiffs because that's more fun..yeah, sign me up for speculation. Pache's got plus speed and makes loud contact, lotta rough edges to the swing though. Trammell I'm probably most bearish on, lot of ground to cover in translating pure athleticism to baseball skills, though there's a 55/60 power/speed combo potential there. I wrote about him at the end of the season: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30482
Side bar: the boat-rockin' bassline is owning it right now, click on that shizz with some proper headphones if you're not listening to it RN please thank you
Leonard (None of Your Business): Last season I went ahead on a flyer and drafted Oscar De la Cruz. This season I am thinking of targeting another Cubbie low minor pitcher in Jose Albertos. I enjoy going for those lottery tickets so any advice on Albertos? Worthy of being my lottery ticket?
Wilson Karaman: He's tantalizing in that mold, sure. We ranked him aggressively on our Cubs list, but I tend to agree with Ben's take that while the upside is fun to think dirty thoughts about the odds are very, very long on him getting there. I'd just as soon shoot the moon with a 17-year-old bat.
smelmoth (The Bay State): Your torrid affair with Vogelbach is finally going to come to fruition this season it seems. What kind of playing time do you expect him to get- full time or platoon? Will he be 1B eligible?
With that, can you give a rough slash line (Safeco with the underreported LHH power, mmmm?)
To honor the earthstrong breddeh, hit the people with something off Confrontation. Tanks.
Wilson Karaman: By all accounts he has an inside track to the strong side of a platoon at first with Valencia. and it sounds like they're legit committed to seeing what he looks like at first. He should enter in most leagues with eligibility already, and I think he should keep it, if all works out. Good debut for him is something like a .270-.280, mid-3's OBP, with 10-15 homers in 400 PA's. I'd be stoked with that.
Confrontation drifts juuuust too far into 80's production for me, but I like the version of Rastaman Live Up on there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0qV36i_bDI
David (Not Sure): Yo Wilson. It seems a smart move is to draft low minor SS. Heading into this season some early targets on my list are Miguelangel Sierra and Fernando Tatis Jr. I am not sure how to interpret their performances from last year and what to expect. Care to hit us with some knowledge on these players to make a informed decision?
Wilson Karaman: Sierra is a kid we got great internals on during list-making. I wouldn't get too caught up in the Appy HR total, as he was appropriately exposed as Not Manny Ramirez in the NYPL. But he's got the goods to develop into a real good SS, with a stick to be valuable at the position. Tatis is veeeery likely a 3B, and he's already shown a bunch of aggressive swing-and-miss, but there's a quality fantasy bat in here somewhere. Always bet on big-league bloodlines when in doubt, and take a last-round flyer if your league goes 175-200 deep - maaaybe 150 if you're feeling salty?
Freedom (Everywhere): What is Jahiln Ortiz's power upside. How far away is he realistically?
Wilson Karaman: Jhailyn Ortiz's power upside is capital-m Massive. He's a 17-year-old who's the size of a small country and just hit .235 in the Gulf Coast League, though, so...yeah. It's gonna be, uh, a while.
Bob (Boston): If you had to pick one prospect who is not likely to be in anyone's top 100 prospect rankings to have in a dynasty league who would it be? My vote is for Adam Engel
Wilson Karaman: Aaaaaand we're back! Apologies or the power outage there. This is the most well-attended chat ever in the world, period, and the 1.5 million people attending this chat proved too many for our server. Back to business:
Yeah, Engel's a good pick, I just had to cut him off a deep 20-team roster and I was not happy about it. I like Brock Stewart as a back-end starter nobody gives two handshakes about, but who has developed really nasty stuff to go long with a coach's/scout's son's understanding of the game. I think he can make some noise if and when he gets a chance to.
Back to Marley love songs, too. This is the one I sing to my kids when they're going to bed, it is acoustic and beautiful and on-the-fly and utterly perfect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEUsMFvU7kY
Matt Ryan (Not Winning): Can you give me your top 8 international signings since last July? For fantasy purposes.
Wilson Karaman: Awwww, poor Matty Ice. If he hadn't a gone to BC and/or just lost to the Patriots I'd feel more sympathy. Kevin Maitan is literally the only name you need to worry about right now until we're deep into the summer. Unless you're playing in some 300-prospect league, investing in the most recent J2 crop is just not a worthwhile use of your roster resources.
Wilson 2.0 (LA): Going forward, how would you rank: Benintendi, Mazara, Judge, Conforto ?
Wilson Karaman: Flip Conforto and Judge, that order. Benintendi and Mazara are two of my favorite young players in the league, I'm really looking forward to watching both of them play this year.
Paul (Houston, TX): Rookie Dynasty Draft. With the first pick, do you take Senzel, Maitan, Lewis, Ray or Groome? Thanks!
Wilson Karaman: I'd take Lewis, who I may be higher on than most, but I don't care. Awesome strength and bat speed, power all over the place, and more speed than you think he has. Tremendous athlete who would've been burning up lists a lot higher if not for the knee injury, I contend. After that Senzel, Ray, Groome, Maitan, in that order.
Kyle (Florida): I am sleeping.
Wilson Karaman: That is an inefficient use of your time. Especially when you could be dancing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zm1B_3IsqU
baseball junkie (Winston Salem, NC): What are your thoughts on Wil Myers going forward following his Jeckyll and Hyde 2016 season? He really looked lost most of the second half.
Wilson Karaman: Man I have *no* idea. I haven't had a read on that guy once in his entire career, despite having him on the majority of my teams at one point or another. I saw enough in the first half to hold out hope for further growth that keeps the collapse risk lower, and while I get the inclination to price in SB regression I'm not sure we should go nuts with that. The Padres are a hella aggressive baserunning team, and he's got the speed/instincts to run. I think his ADP is probably around where it should be, I jut have no idea what to expect out of him.
Wilson (somewhere in the Atlantic): Which hit-first, near ready prospect has the better shot at developing average power? Winker or Sisco
Wilson Karaman: I'll take Winker, I think Joey Votto will teach that kid how to do some things with a baseball bat.
Eddie Burns (New York): Will Clint Frazier be a New York Yankee this year?
Wilson Karaman: Frazier's got a shot at a debut this year, yeah. I wouldn't be shocked if they plopped him back down in AA to start the season this year, given how you he was for the high minors last year. I think he's prooobably in Scranton from the jump, though? Either way, it'd be a bad year if he didn't at least get a September taste at the end of it, and there's certainly a non-zero chance he's up before that.
Andy (Florida): WK, couple California League questions.
1. Who are you most excited to see in the California League this year?
2. What was the best ever season by a player?
3. Who was the best player you saw as a minor leaguer who never made it to the major leagues?
Wilson Karaman: 1. Padres! All of the Lake Elsinore teams for the next 2+ seasons. 2. Whew...recently? Altuve hit .400 here in 2011, that's up there. Miles Head in 2012 slugged over .700, Trevor Story was pretty great the first year I started covering the league regularly in 2014. Matt Olson, too. Andrew Toles might've put up the best performance of any I saw last year, though he wasn't here for very long because of it. 3. AJ Reed's the best hitter I've seen in the league who hasn't done anything in the majors yet, though obviously it's still super early in his career. I was really impressed with Daniel Robertson when he was here, in a way that has surprised me in its lack of translation since.
Mulva (KC): What's a realistic stat line for Jorge Soler this year ?
Wilson Karaman: I think one of these years Soler's gonna pull out some inane 6-week stretch where he lays waste to the league and props up a monster overall statline. For the sake of optimism, let's pretend that happens this year, and he hits .286/.344/.506 with 28 homers.
Here's another Marley outtake cut that I've always enjoyed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uiQg6yfd0Q
Dave Bertis (Montpelier ): What are your thoughts on a couple of young power bats: Josh Ockimey and Dermis Garcia?
Wilson Karaman: Yeah, Ockimey had a nice burst there last season. Mixed reviews on the hit tool in our conversations, it's a narrow road for him already, though there's loft in the swing and he realized some of his plus power in-game last year, which is an encouraging starting point. Garcia has a ton of power, but the swing still has a long way to go if he's ever gonna find it. This is not surprising, as he's newly 19. I'd gamble on Dermis' potentially elite raw and at-least-possible non-first-base profile over Ockimey I think, even allowing for the timeline differential.
TrickDaddy14 (Hotlanta ): Please rank these guys in dyntasy format (5x5): Ronald Acuna, Isan Diaz, Blake Rutherford, Juan Soto, Kevin Maitan. TIA
Wilson Karaman: I think that might be my order? Flip Soto and Rutherford maybe? Maitan's a dude that could absolutely blow up this year with normal progression, but he's soooo far away. Soto's in a similar boat, though ahead of Maitan right now.
Let us quash some ghosts, yah? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh5LmcY7p3E
Tommy (Houston ): Who do you have the most confidence in becoming fantasy Stars out of the 2016 draft?
Wilson Karaman: Lewis, Senzel, Groome if he wasn't a pitcher. I'll take Heath Quinn as my darkhorse pick to have the biggest (positive) gap between fantasy and real-life value.
misterbob (pa): Do you see a breakout season for Dahl? Is he a full time guy right away for the Rockies?
Also, what are your thoughts about Hernan Perez?Can he repeat his breakout type performance this year? Thx.
Wilson Karaman: I'm luke hot on Dahl, if that makes sense. I think his approach and swing holes make for one of those combinations that big-league pitchers tend to exploit pretty well after an off-season of scouting book adjustments. And the Rockies' outfield is kind of awkward right now, in that all four top options are left-handed hitters (as is Tapia, who's probably ostensibly 5th), so I'm not sure I see a path to full time starts unless he absolutely crushes the ball and forces Parra to the bench.
Perez I find myself holding a bunch of shares in all of a sudden, and I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I'm not complaining, either. I think he can provide a bunch of value as a utility guy that gains a bunch of eligibility this year. I like the profile.
Alex (New York): Yankee fan here-- it's been a disappointing couple years but looks like we'll start competing sooner rather than later. Since the Yanks have been not-great (to put it generously), I started following the Mets. I'm honestly surprised that more people aren't all in on the 2017 Mets given their pitching and their definitely underrated offense. Feels like a team that could win 100 games and then in September, people are like- "wow, I actually should've seen that coming." How far off am i?
Wilson Karaman: Yeah, sorry* to hear that about the Yankees recent run, yeah, that's...mmph, you feel for those guys.** A hundred games is a stretch for any team in a half-way competent division, and I think the NL East can be that next year, but any time you've got the kind of arms Queens has, a ceiling somewhere around there's always in play. A whole lot of it depends on health, of course, and the offense figuring out how to not match last year's absurd statistical oddity of historically poor performance with runners in scoring position.
This is a good time to remind/plug that PECOTA drops tomorrow, so you can see how bullish we are or are not on the Mets and every other team.
*no you don't
smelmoth (America's Most Educated State): I'm always a little unsure of how to view Fall/Winter ball seasons- uneven competition, varied field and park conditions, etc. Any prospects who you think really raised their profile coming into next season?
Wilson Karaman: I think that's right, and players are various stages of gassed by the time they come along, too. We talked a bit earlier about Gleyber Torres, he's probably the guy that impressed the most in Arizona? How much that helped his "stock" overall is up for debate, but it certainly doesn't ever *hurt* when a dude rakes against quality competition for a stretch.
One place where post-season leagues are genuinely helpful is for injury rehab guys. Ronald Acuna's a good example of that, he went down to Australia and absolutely destroyed the league for 20 games after missing half the season with a thumb injury. Looked good doing it, and reinforced the optimism scouts had after watching him play in the first half. This kid has a pretty obscene ceiling, and it was helpful for everyone to get another glimpse of it in the fall.
Wilson Karaman: Alright y'all, much to my infinite sadness, I gotta call it a night. Apologies for the unexpected halftime earlier, but thanks for sticking with. And apologies to the unanswered masses still in the queue (y'all turned OUT tonight, for REAL!). If I didn't get to you, hit me on Twitter instead @vocaljavelins. Or you can ask Patrick in his chat on Thursday: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/chat/chat.php?chatId=1389
I leave you with my top Marley tune of all time. Peace and love, y'all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suFx6fNd9cg