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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday April 05, 2017 11:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.


Wilson Karaman is a senior member of both the Baseball Prospectus fantasy and prospect teams, and purveyor of the #LateNightChat.

Wilson Karaman: Aaaaaalright, sorry for the minor delay, it's bedtime for little humans around here, and one of 'em was non-compliant tonight. It is night, though. Let's git lifted, baby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBWS3BJSNtQ

Sam (ATL): Ronald Acuna the next big prospect?

Wilson Karaman: Lot of Acuna questions, so let's just tackle him up front: he's as good a bet as anyone in the minor leagues to make a jump into elite prospect range, yeah. We had him 31st on the strength of 40 games at full-season, that should tell you all you need to know about the kind of ceiling the kid has. He presented impressively in big-league camp this spring, and if he hits at High-A he'll make the leap. Hell, he might make a (smaller) leap even if he doesn't hit, long as he looks pretty & responds well while he struggles.

Ben (LA): Where would Luis Robert rank if eligible for the prospect rankings?

Wilson Karaman: Bunch of Robert questions too. He'd probably crack the top 40 or so as a dynasty league prospect. On a real-life prospect list he's probably a bit lower than that until we see how his game translates against the pitching over here and what his glove looks like. He's a top-half-of-the-first-round kinda talent, though. High-ceiling player.

a concerned parent (the internet): What are you hearing about STL SP Jordan Hicks? Have read some very interesting pitch grades from big time sources lately.

Wilson Karaman: The internet is no place for a concerned parent. Or, let's face it, anybody, really.

Hicks was a dude we chased upside on by tossing into the back of our StL top ten list, and given the muddle of options in that range that's something of an endorsement of the ceiling. Very good fastball, bigtime hook, not much in the way of mechanical consistency or a usable cambio yet. The performance in short-season wasn't great, but lots of raw material there. He'll be a guy to watch in his full-season debut this year.

Also, let me just say that I am thrilled that baseball is back and that Chris Sale is a Red Sox and...just all of it, man. Get 'em, Sandy https://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_1200w/Boston/2011-2020/2016/07/04/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/tai_20160704_redsoxVsRangers_sports_14.jpg?uuid=SVOuVEJFEeavwprHi5KLcw

Josh (Evanston): In a keep forever dynasty, would you rather have Gsellman or Nola as your #5 starter?

Wilson Karaman: Two of my favorite young pitchers. I love watching Nola work in particular, though I'm spooked by his elbow. I'd still lean in his direction, though no slight to Gsellman, who I'm a big fan of. If last year's velo and slider hold & carry over, look out.

Guru's one a my all-time MCs, and I could listen to Badu sing in this key/style all day:

Andrew (DC): What's the difference between bat speed and power?

Wilson Karaman: I like this question a lot, and a proper answer really could/should be left for a longer column at some point. Cliff's Notes on-the-fly version: bat speed is about the efficiency and force-creation of one's swing as much as one's physical strength, while power - at least in its raw form - is about how hard/far you can hit a ball. Power to me implies something about the swing plane: you need to have some plane and lift in a swing in order to generate power. You can have power without great bat speed by virtue of being built like a Jeep, though it's the profile of a million and six Quad-A sluggers. Bat speed, on the other hand, you can create regardless of the loft in your swing or the size of your biceps; there's no qualifier for resulting launch angle, in other words. There are plenty of hitters who generate outstanding bat speed but aren't quintessentially powerful hitters because their bat paths are flatter. Christian Yelich comes to mind (though that might be changing). When you put bat speed and power together? Then you get Robinson Cano or Miguel Cabrera or some other freakshow like that.

Justin (NY): Could Michael Gettys become one of the best fielders in baseball?

Wilson Karaman: I dunno if I'd be willing to go that far on him, though I'll get my first looks at him since August next week. Certainly the raw tools/physicality of an above-average centerfielder were there last summer, though wasn't convinced on the instincts. Stay tuned, he's one of the returners to the league I'm most excited to see re: off-season development. FWIW here's what I wrote about him last year: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30231

fightingmoose (MB, Canada): I currently own a few SP's that may have a more likely path towards the bullpen it seems. If all 3 end up in the pen, who becomes the most dominant pen arm? Toussaint, Martes, or Kopech?

Wilson Karaman: Whew, all of 'em? Martes is the most likely to hit a rotation ceiling out of that crew for me, but his FB/CB would be positively lethal in short bursts. Kopech's gas alone'd make him disgusting in a short role...Touki's the kind of dude nobody'd feel real comfortable digging in against at max effort, cuz his next pitch could literally go anywhere. I think I'd go Martes/Kopech/Touki, but they've all got raw stuff for days in a high-leverage role.

They're also all super duper young still, so...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJcz8tpxd70

Mike (Dover AFB): How do you see the Rockies infield situation playing out once Brendan Rodgers arrives? Assuming D.J leaves for free agency, would the Rockies move Rodgers or Story to 2B?

Wilson Karaman: I'll be in a much better position to answer this in a few days after I put eyes on Rodgers' glove for the first time over the weekend. Story's leather has always scouted pretty well, though at least according to FRAA it didn't translate great numbers-wise last year, so we'll have to wait and see. Rodgers likely isn't legitimately in the mix until 2019, though, so this is not an immediate problem.

Michelle (Milwaukee): In a keeper league, for the next 3 years only, would you rather have Jean Segura or Dansby Swanson?

Wilson Karaman: I might take Segura for that window, even though I wish he was still in the desert? I feel like that's probably a minority opinion? Dunno if it's fair to expect another $34 season like last year, but he's got impact wheels, some pop, and he's square in his prime for that entire window. Dansby's supremely talented, but Major League Baseball can be hard for young men, even supremely talented ones.

John (Tucson): Senzel? Does he have a peak David Wright ceiling?

Wilson Karaman: That's probably not a terrible comp, as comps go? Maybe more like Age 30 season David Wright?

That's pretty hot, man. Let's cool it down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_EJbS-RedE

Josh (LA): I've been told you're the resident Mitch White hype guy. Please tell me great things about one of my favorite prospects entering 2017.

Wilson Karaman: Mmmmm, yeah baby. Talk dirty to me. I've written a bunch about him this winter, and that was before he was reportedly working 94-97 in Arizona last month (h/t Longenhagen). Here's some of what I wrote about him, including a link to something *else* I wrote about him: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=31209

White and Buehler in the same rotation here at Rancho is really, really exciting.

Wrenzie (Philippines): Could Jordan Johnson bounce back after an awful 2016 season?

Wilson Karaman: I saw two of his starts last year, and wrote up reports on both, which you can access off his player page here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=71207

Mid-season he didn't much resemble what I saw in April. Timing of his delivery was all over the place, poor rhythm, wildly inconsistent execution of his pitches. Stuff'd taken a step back, though unclear how much was just due to the newfound inefficiency of his delivery. He was supposedly starting to right the ship a bit at the end of the year, but yeah, no doubt this'll be an important year for him. Was a little surprised they jumped him to AA tbh, so that's I guess an encouraging sign that they believe he's made adjustments and grown out of whatever that mid-summer funk was?

fightingmoose (MB, Canada): Thinking about acquiring Yasmany Tomas via trade as my 4th OF in my 16 team dynasty. Do you think there is still upside in the bat? How long will his defense play in the outfield?

Wilson Karaman: Well, by FRAA he was pretty much the worst defensive outfielder in baseball last year, and it was pretty not-close, so...that's where the baseline starts. It gives him a thinner margin than most, and I do wonder how long that'll fly for the new brass in AZ, even if he's still got another gear of dinger-hitting in the bat. I just recently drafted him to be my 4th outfielder in a 16-team dynasty league, so there's your answer far as my view on at least his this-year value. But longer-term...eh.

Jmax (Niagara Falls, ON): Who do you like more going forward, fantasy-wise: Francisco Mejia, or Jorge Alfaro?

Wilson Karaman: Narrow lean to Alfaro? His power gives him a nominal advantage for counting stat accumulation and general value at the position, I think. That said, they're both catchers, so who really knows?

This tune is *pretty* hot on its own merits? But then they bust out the melodica, and it goes next level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7RCb0p3vxo

Jimmy (PA): Anything catch your eyes in the opening days of baseball? Positive/negative developments of players?

Wilson Karaman: I haven't gotten to watch nearly enough baseball yet on account of my house looking like a demilitarized zone with two sick kids, a sick wife, and a sick me all week. But I will continue to beat the Castellanos drum, and he hit a sick dinger yesterday: https://twitter.com/RA_Parker/status/849362370518544384

That was about as good as I've ever seen Carlos Martinez throw, too. If he's healthy I think he can do big things this year.

Most negative development so far has been Lance McCullers' haircut.

D (United States): What's the farthest distance, in miles, one should drive to watch Fernando Tatis Jr. this season?

Wilson Karaman: Depends on traffic conditions and marital status, but 2-3 hours if you're willing to make a day of it. He's going to be fun even if he doesn't pan out.

Alex (NY): Do you see Conforto getting regular PT anytime soon? What size league is he worth holding on to in redraft?

Wilson Karaman: Whewwwwwwww, yeah, nothing, no idea. Your guess is as good as mine what they're doing with him. 14-16 teamer hold on the bench? Shallower cut him loose and keep him on your watch list to pounce again at the first sign of trust from management.

AJ (Phoenix): 20-team dynasty league: I'm arguably the best team n the league, but with no farm system prospects are eating at my bench. A rebuilding team sent me an offer: I give Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito, and Mitch Keller, I get back Max Scherzer or Yu Darvish. If it pus me over the top, I have to do it, right? Would you take Max or Yu?

Wilson Karaman: I'd probably do that deal in that context, yeah. First I'd try to counter for a deal that Eloy isn't in - see if you can replace him with a less-important-to-you MLB bat? I know he's on the DL in A ball, but man do I like that kid's swing almost as much as I don't like the thought of moving him (but yes, you probably do that deal if you're all-in, titles in a 20-teamer don't happen that often). I think I narrowly prefer Scherzer.

BTW, just saw the Lindor GS, and I'd like formally submit legislation to add him to my security council of players where I will pause whatever I'm doing to watch an at-bat.

Jonah (Redwood): Besides Tim Anderson, is there anyone on the Sox Opening Day roster than you think they will refuse to trade? I think it's a lock that Todd Frazier, Jose Quintana, Nate Jones, and David Robertson will all be dealt. I was on the fence about Abreu, thinking they want one vet to build the offense around + the Cuban connection with Moncada, but after the Anderson extension, I think Abreu might be shopped as well. What say you?

Wilson Karaman: I think there's a pretty decent chance he's among that list of on-the-block players, yeah. It's an awfully tantalizing contract for a win-now team in need of some pop, and from Chicago's side he's a 30-year-old whose offensive output has declined each year he's been in the league and who isn't likely to be part of their next core. Kinda too balanced a situation to the interests on both sides for him to NOT get traded, yunno?

CountryHardBall (Field of Dreams): Jesus Aguilar - is he just alright or something more?

Wilson Karaman: I feel like this has been an evergreen question for like 4 years now, and yunno what, that's probably all the answer you need right there.

In need of some revolution music, let's hit some Channel One UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6lp30NVICY

Loria's Cousin Fazzie (Milwaukee,, Wi): Dynasty rebuild (25 man x 20 team) where prospects must be carried on roster. Which of the following acquired assets have highest upside/best chance to be "pillars" for the next championship?? ' Bats: Gallo, Josh Bell, Vlad Jr., Nick Williams, Brad Zimmer, Willy Adames, Mateo, Robles, Ames Rosario, Corey Ray Arms: Bundy, Reyes (post injury), Matt Manning, Sandy Alcantara, Walker Buehler

Wilson Karaman: In terms of cornerstone ceiling, I'd put Gallo, Vlad Jr., Robles, and Reyes in that category of guys I could see topping out as top-50 players. Maybe Ray too? There's varying degrees of risk baked in there - for instance, Gallo's more likely Russell Branyan than he is Babe Ruth. Vlad Jr.'s like 11 and carries the associated developmental risk, etc. It's a solid collection of talent for a rebuild with a window 3-4 years out.

DDriesen (NY): Looking to add a prospect or 2 who can be kept through 2019 as possible trade fodder later this season. How do you rank Devers, Tapia, JP Crawford, Senzel, Vogelbach and Tellez for that purpose?

Wilson Karaman: Give me Devers, Tapia, Senzel, Crawford, Vogelbach, Tellez

Steve (Atlanta): How surpr

Wilson Karaman: I feel this

Probably Handsome (Work): Would a right handed version of Brendan McKay be drafted as a position player? I’m trying to figure out how much value I should be placing on the handedness of pitchers. How does handedness factor into the prospect rankings that we see on the site?

Wilson Karaman: Pitching handedness is baked in as *a* factor among many, many factors, and lefties with durable frames certainly get a bit of a boost in that regard. I wouldn't go nuts in assigning too much value to it in a vacuum though, the actual tools and projection are far more important than any one factor like that. Really tough to say re: whether him being right-handed would impact things at all, because he's not, yunno? I guess it's still theoretically an open question as to what he gets drafted to do - he is rocking like a 1.200 OPS, after all - but I'd still be really surprised if he wasn't taken as a moundman.

dylanrox (New Orleans): I'm currently going without a catcher in my deep h2h points lg and options are thin- D'Arnaud Zunino Castro Cervelli Hedges avail and none may be impactful. To add any of them I would have to drop a nice bench piece, either Haniger Morton Snell or ERod to pick one of them up. What's your advice?

Wilson Karaman: I'd probably jettison E-Rod and chase lightning in a bottle with either Hedges or Zunino.

Ceej (Pittsburgh): How would you rank Bellinger, Rosario, and Brinson for an OBP keeper? Are they worth the fantasy hype or more for real life?

Wilson Karaman: Rosario, Brinson, Bellinger for me. Yes. Yes, they are.

1) This whole record is ill start to finish 2) this particular sample and the particular track it runs on is iiiiiiiill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYMR7Z7WW6E

Blair (Detroit): Do you have any input to share on Brandon Marsh? Thanks.

Wilson Karaman: Not a ton, no. Will start at extended ST this year, and we'll just have to wait and see if he can hit and/or play centerfield. Given the state of the Angels' system, the waiting on him probably won't be the hardest part though, yunno?

fightingmoose (MB, 🇨🇦 ): What are the Bosox going to do with Swihart? At this point, should they just trade him to a catcher needy team? He's 25 now and doesn't seem to have a path to MLB playing time with Boston.

Wilson Karaman: Catchers are weird, man. Never forget this. I dunno that I'd go 'round calling the dude a bust yet even though he's 25 - that's, like, 21 and a half in centerfielder years. ast year was more or less a wash, and I think they're doing the right thing now by letting him catch 4 out of 5 at AAA. I love Vazquez as much as anyone, but it's still entirely unclear if he can actually hit, and Leon [pause to throw the fist in the air] is probably still not a longterm option here.

Colin (Austin): Thoughts on Urias this year? Going forward? Prefer him or Giolito in fantasy?

Wilson Karaman: Literally everything in his developmental journey to date suggests he takes yet another step forward this year, and I expect as much. In-zone command is the next big thing for him to chip away at, and it's something he certainly showed capable of developing in spades as a minor-leaguer. Wouldn't be at all surprised to see him give him less hits this year while producing roundly similarly whiff and walk rates, all while tacking another 30-plus innings onto his workload.

Michelle (Milwaukee): A league mate of mine asked a chat earlier (he knows he he is), I'm going to piggyback his queston. If I am rebuilding and am offered Giolito, Keller, and Healy for my Darvish or Scherzer, I say yes? He's made it clear he probably won't move Eloy without getting more in return.

Wilson Karaman: Ha, I love this shit. In *your* shoes, Michelle, hell no! I want two bats. You taking Eloy off the table from me, and you want one of my aces? Title runs are supposed to hurt. I'd push hard for Eloy, offer whatever fringe "now" nonsense you need to with one of those hurlers to get Eloy back onto the table, and then tell him to swap out one of those arms for another bat to pair with Eloy at the top of the package. He needs you to put him over the top, whereas you have the leverage of dealing with his direct competitors if he's not willing to pony up. Don't let him forget that.

darren (Rochester): Have you seen Anderson Tejeda? He sounds like an intriguing talent, even though he's a ways away.

Wilson Karaman: I have not, and thanks to the stupid Rangers abandoning the Cal League for the stupid Carolina League I probably won't. Brendan did last summer at Spokane though, and he wrote up very good notes on the strengths and weaknesses here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30351

darren (Rochester ): What kind of upside does Ian Happ have? Role 6?

Wilson Karaman: I'm skeptical on account of the glove. My opinion is admittedly colored from seeing him a long time ago on the Cape, but everything I've heard from prospect team members and others since indicates the same questions are still kinda there. We put a 55/50 on him for our Cubs list, and that seems like it's probably about right if the bat has indeed developed.

One more banger before the 3/4 moon sets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOX_tFWOklE

Justin (NY): What's the best pitch of each type that you expect to see in-person this year? (Ex. Daulton Jefferies CH, Espinoza CU, etc.)

Wilson Karaman: Whew. Well, generally I try not to approach things on those terms, though obviously this is one of the tensions between writing about prospects in the media and scouting prospects. It's my job to know things about prospects before I'm likely to see them, and that's not ideal as a best-practice for evaluating dudes.

On reputation I'm excited to see Espinoza's gas, Quantrill's cambio, and Puk's whole arsenal. Of guys I've seen before, I'm looking forward to seeing again White's cutter, Buehler's hook, and Jefferies' SL/CH combo.

Jonah (Redwood): My dynasty league allows us to draft guys in HS and NCAA. I'm shopping Nola and Matz plus a Rd 1 prospect pick next year. I'm 85% sure I get Gsellman in a separate deal. Which side would you prefer: Round 1 Prospect pick + 2 of Nola/Matz/Gsellman, or Seth Beet (ncaa, 2018) + Austin Beck (hs, 2017) + Melancon/Gattis (either or)?

Wilson Karaman: Sure thing! I love Beer, and I'd try to dial this back to just focus on a deal for him. Giving up an in-prime borderline-stud starter for a dude 2 drafts away - even one with Beer's impact potential - is less than ideal. Not sure I can properly evaluate the value of Melancon/Gattis in this equation without a fuller sense of your roster/win curve.

Race Bannon (Private Jet): Thanks for the late, late chat, Wilson. In the BPro top 100 dynasty list, there was no mention of Harrison Bader, who's averaged 23 HR's and 23 steals per 600 PA's in the minors -- and he was terrific last year in Double-A despite being one of the youngest guys in the Texas League. Can you offer any insights? Thanks again.

Wilson Karaman: Of course, thanks for hanging out. There's some tweener in the profile, scouts aren't convinced the power will all show up, as he's a chronically aggressive hitter. The bags have come more off instinct than footspeed, and I wouldn't expect 20-plus bags in a full big-league season. He can provide deeper-league value as a second-division starter though...something like an OF4 in a 16-teamer as a 50th percentile outcome?

Punchoutpappy (First in Flight): As a young father, I've been trying to assign 'tools' to grade my paternal performance. Any thoughts on what you would include in the toolbox? How would your 'outdoors' tool grade out? I'm at a 40.

Wilson Karaman: Good question here. In the spirit of the exercise, I'll aim for 5 primary tools, which I'll break down thusly:

1) Keepin' Alive (the most fundamental of the tools, where we look for feeding ability, punctuality to and timeliness of doctor's appointments, judgment in calling poison control, institution of hand-holding-while-crossing-street protocols, etc.)

2) Wranglin' (this involves all aspects of corralling children - getting them dressed, into a car, out of a tree, catching heavy things before they trap the kid underneath, etc. As you note there is some context dependence involved here, as overseeing a 3-year-old playing at a park with no fences requires adaptability and a more refined skill set than capturing a new crawler within one room to execute a diaper change)

3) Teachin' (applies to constructive interactions whereby we impart knowledge - directly or indirectly - to help the child develop in a positive direction)

4) Pace of play (this one's a more ethereal concept, like the hit tool, but involves time management and pacing broadly - organization of the home, being able to slow down and interact with your kid on his/her level, ability to make adjutments when your ostensibly-scheduled-for-20-minutes walk turns into an hour-long affair involving the shuffling of piles of leaves from one side of a driveway to another over and over...tantrum management falls under this header, I think. You get the gist)

5) Salvaging Adult Sanity (ability to push forward with your own life outside of parenthood, maintain social appearances, pursue your passions, be productive at work, establish and maintain eye contact with your significant other, etc. without harming your family life)

I think broadly I'm confident giving myself pretty high marks here, as I only recently ended a nearly 4-year stint as a stay-at-home dad, and I'm a fairly advanced/actualized prospect at this point, at least relative to most parents in my draft class who still only have kids under the age of 5. Some of these skills actualize faster'n others, so there's some wonk to the present/future grade distribution on a report here, but I think mine'd look something like this: 45/80, 50/55, 55/70, 55/60, 40/50. It's a Robles/Buxton kinda ceiling if I max it out, though there's another 13 years of risk to get built in there.

Anyway, good luck out there, man.

Wilson Karaman: And with that, we've crossed the ol' 2-hour threshold, and I must hang, oh hang this chat. As always, if I didn't get to your question (and there were a lot of leftovers in the queue, sorry) you can find me on Twitter @vocaljavelins to follow up. Nick Schaefer's got your next chat on Tuesday night. Later skaters...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-QoIc4wKmg

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