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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday July 31, 2017 11:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.


Wilson is a senior member of both the fantasy and prospect teams and the propriator of BP's #latenight chats. He also knows who the no. 1 prospect in baseball will be in 2022.

Wilson Karaman: Helloooooo everybody. I'd like to start tonight by addressing the most exciting thing that happened today: my dad was born, 69 *nice* years ago this very day. He's currently gorging himself on Wellfleet oysters and fine whiskey, as is appropriate and just. Happy birthday pops. So, yeah, anything else exciting happen today?

John (San Francisco): What do you think about what the A's did with Sonny Gray?

Wilson Karaman: Let's just get right into things here...I have some...#feelings...about this one, mostly driven by my innate Red Sox fandom. It's an interesting haul for Gray, insofar as it has unusual health baked-in health issues. But I think those, coupled with the fact that none of the three guys is a *flashing lights* TOP 25 PROSPECT *flasing lights* has colored some of the analysis I've seen so far in an unduly negative way. All three of the dudes they got back project as higher-probability big leaguers, with decent chances in each case to develop into regulars. It's a bulk return, but not a bad one IMO. Honestly I was more surprised they didn't flip Alonso, especially given that they were already deep in talks with the Yankees.

Peter (Jersey): Seuly Matias worth keeping an eye on? Next pop up prospect?

Wilson Karaman: Very much worth keeping an eye on, and not at all in a pop=up way, he's legit and long-term (emphasis: looooooong). John had a good writeup of him in a recent 10 Pack, I'll point you in that direction: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=32342

Soop (COL): I know he's 23 and repeating the level, but should we be paying attention to Wes Rogers? 58 SB in 98 games, .368 wOBA and .171 ISO. NL version of Mateo?

Wilson Karaman: I'll have more looks at him in the next couple weeks unless he gets bumped (which he may), and have been waiting to file an updated report until I do. I wrote an underwhelming report last year (linked below), because he was an underwhelming prospect last year, particularly in the box. He's made some notable gains in streamlining his swing this year, and had already shown decent contact skills last year even with less refined mechanics and in spite of length in the frame. He's added a bit of leverage to the swing, but the power outburst has largely been Lancaster from what I've seen of it in nearly a dozen looks this year. Even without a ton of it, though, he is *blazing* fast - I comped him to Usain Bolt's gait in the piece linked below - and has a keen eye for swiping bags, plus a decent eye and willingness to work counts. It's a bunch of big-league tools, but I wouldn't presume to trust precisely *how* much they've started to come together until he gets to Hartford and we see what's real in the batter's box.


Jon R. (Phoenix): Is Gabriel Maciel someone to keep an eye out? Walking more than striking out in rookie ball, .950 OPS, still 18.

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, he's a Brazilian kid with serious wheels and some feel for using 'em in centerfield. Unclear why he's still in the Pioneer League after logging time there last year and destroying its pitchers this, but my guess is he gets bumped up for at least a couple weeks down the stretch here.

Let's crank up some tunes in here, yeah? It's been a long, busy-ass day, so I think I'm gonna keep things on the relative mellow up in here tonight. The production on this record is fully-actualized 80-grade in the flesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm4zhIhVNBY

Sam (NY): Just learned of Michell Miliano yesterday. Do you know anything about him?

Wilson Karaman: Fresh n' raw with a bunch of upside, so basically every arm in San Diego's system? He just made his debut in AZ last week, was 90-91 (t92) with a 12-6 CB that ranged 78-82 in his one inning on Saturday. Projectable, prototypical starter's frame, advanced feel to spin it for his age, here to Saturn and back before he sniffs the majors in a best-case outcome.

BC (Urbandale): What do you think of Meadows? Whats his ceiling?

Wilson Karaman: Wouldn't we all love to see him stay on the field long enough to find out?

Bob (Bob): Esteury Ruiz has gotten some love lately, can you give us your thoughts?

Wilson Karaman: Craig summed him up delightfully in our TA when he was traded the other day based on what I've heard of him:


Colin (Austin): Thoughts on what you gave seen so far from Devers? What is his offensive ceiling?

Wilson Karaman: Rafael Devers is who we thought he was, and that is very, very exciting. I've heard from multiple sources in the northeast who aren't prone to gushing about *anybody* gush about his stick, and everything I've seen on the teevee jives from afar. Let me reiterate that he is very, very exciting.

Seth (LA): Thoughts on if (or to what extent) Walker Buehler can help the Dodgers bullpen?

Wilson Karaman: He got plenty of practice earlier in the season airing it out for short bursts, and the raw stuff is absurd. He can help any bullpen.

Pure silk on these harmonies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7KQ4_-kVyg

matzabal (CO): Where will two former #1 prospects rank at their positions heading into the 2018 draft: Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benitendi. Love their long term prospects, but how much should we temper expectations for next season?

Wilson Karaman: Moncada'll be a tricky eval for redraft leagues heading into next season regardless of how his playing time shakes out this year. I'd watch intently to see how his K and contact rates trend over what will presumably be at least semi-regular big-league playing time over the next couple months. Look for signs of adjustment, and if he shows 'em I'd start to get excited. Worst-case to me seems something like Keon Broxton at second base and with much longer rope next year, and that's an awfully exciting worst case, yunno?

Benintendi...if we could get Farrell to, yunno, give the kid a dang chance and build some reps up against lefties I'd be all-in. I'm almost there already, as even with the nominal platoon and some sophomore adjustments he's still basically a top-100 hitter. He's a 7 hit, 55 power, 55 speed guy in a solid lineup context far as I'm concerned, and that's a fantasy superstar, is what that is. Unless I see something change dramatically down the stretch, I'll be planning to buy aggressively as an OF2 with OF1 upside.

Jeff (Milwaukee): Daniel Brito was the next big thing earlier in the season, but lately, reports have said he looks overmatched. Can you give us your thoughts? Thanks.

Wilson Karaman: He's a 19-year-old in full-season ball, and he's struggled to keep up with the league after a hot start. That's the expectation, not the outlier, especially for a kid with so much physical development ahead of him. The underlying tools that rightly intrigued earlier in the year haven't gone anywhere, though.

This tune might be a little *too* down-tempo for such a swell occasion, but I can't help myself because the distortion and feel on this version is so perfectly disorienting for the track. 10/10: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_Abif5yzCs

Loria (Milwaukee): I'm in a 7 keeper league with a twist. We have MiLB draft (2/yr) and prospects are "free" keepers for 3 yr. following their promotion. I traded a contender Chris Sale for Xander, Mejia (MiLB controlled) and Bo Bichette (MiLB). I know I gave the best asset, but felt the younger SS keeper and the additional assets will help me in the next 3 yrs. What say you?

Wilson Karaman: That's not a bad haul, tho for this and many other things in life to make sense, Xander's gonna have to start hitting like Xander again, preferably sooner than later.

Dirky dirk (Buffalo Bills dungeon): Were you surprised Texas was unable to get any of LAs high upside 2nd tier prospects or upper level high floor prospects. Most of us knew they wouldnt get Verdugo or Buehler but I thought theyd at least get a couple of Heredia, Ruiz, Mitch White, Kyle Farmer, Edwin Rios etc.

Wilson Karaman: Well, when you're selling a rental in a deadline deal like this, you sort of have three ways you can play it depending on the player/context involved: 1) salary dump, marginal prospects back, 2) quantity return, couple higher-probability/lower-ceiling guys, 3) one centerpiece a step below "top prospect," couple other A-ball lotto tickets. Rangers elected for Door #3. If they'd elected for Door #2, then these are the kinds of guys I'd have expected to be involved. I will say that the fact nobody pried Dennis Santana off these guys is downright crimi-nimi-nal.

Loria (Milwaukee): Where would you rank Jake Lamb as a 3b keeper?

Wilson Karaman: He's got a case for the 6-7 range. Bryant, Arenado, Rendon, Machado, and if we're counting him there (which, I guess we should now) Freddie Freeman are definites ahead of him. Then it's like Justin Turner, Moose, Shaw, Bregman, Lamb, Sano, Ramirez in some order. I like Turner and Bregman ahead of him, maybe Shaw too, but it's a large, clustered tier that he's in the top half of. Man, 3B is crazy deep. all of a sudden.

A sad former Acuna owner (San Jose): How would you console yourself for trading Ronald Acuna for Jon Lester if you don't win the Ship? (At least I still have Robles and Eloy)

Wilson Karaman: I made a similar gambit dealing him for Kluber, so I guess we're Thelma and Louising this shit together, aren't we? Cheers!

Baseball world, meet my nextdoor neighbors. This singer is 15. *15*. She is the Victor Robles of pop music. Her brother - just turned 20 - produced this. He is the Vladito of pop music production: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWAbdiiAOZA

Buff (CO): If I remember correctly, Carter Kieboom got some consideration for the Midseason Top 50. Could you give some more details on his s outing report and profile?

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, if he hadn't shredded up his hamstring it's even money he would've made it - he was on the back end on a couple early iterations as was. Very good command of his physicality, direct swing, all-fields hitter with some pop, solid-average across-the-board offensive skills. Borderline as a shortstop, though he's got some quickness and arm strength for the left side.

Dan (NJ): What is your stance on promotions and demotions in the minors? I know organizational guys usually are slotted where they are needed. But I was fascinated by Will Hibbs this season in Lakewood. He posted a phenomenal first half and showed a ton of potential with his curveball. He was clearly playing above his true talent level - but is a big guy with a decent pitch mix nonetheless. During the Low A All Star Break, he was promoted to High A and found some struggles - and was demoted just 8 games later. And after returning to Lakewood, he's been shelled. Personally, I believe he overachieved in the first half, but isn't as bad as he is now. Do you think demotions like this for guys with potential can cause significant damage in the development process? No clue if this is a completely stupid question, but I'm curious after seeing this all season in Hibbs.

Wilson Karaman: Honestly, there is sooooo much more going on behind the organizational scenes that the public is never privy to, that it rarely makes sense to try and figure out promotion schedules. Yes, different orgs tend to run more or less aggressive with their broad strategy, but even within that it's all case by case at the end of the day. Maturity on and off the field is a primary driver, whether the player has specific areas for improvement they need to focus on, maybe a low-grade injury has gummed up the works, there's a mechanical overhaul in place that the org wants to see a second time through the league...on and on. They say development is rarely a straight path, but really it's rarely a crooked path either. It's halts, starts, progressions, regressions, and on, and it's why player development is a complex process.

Keith (Farmington, CT): Thanks Wilson. Am I wrong to be amazed at the power Fernando Tatis Jr. is showing at 18 in the Midwest League? Just how high is his ceiling now?

Wilson Karaman: It's pretty, pretty obscene. We had him 22nd on our mid-season list. If he keeps making enough contact, he can be a + speed, + game power monster.

I still can't pin down my thoughts on this record, but it has kept on making me work to figure it out, and ipso facto is worth a spin (which may lead to 16 more): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xync-guDAa0

Aimee (Ankeny): What do you think of the Cubs trade? How dominant will Justin Wilson be?

Wilson Karaman: I liked it on both sides. Wilson's already dominant, and I don't expect that to change. Arsenal's filthy, pitches play well together, and he's abusing hitters in and out of zone this year - a recipe for sustained success. On the Tigers side, this let's 'em shift Miggy off the dirt, at least in theory, and as A-ball lottery tickets go, Paredes is a decent one. I'm not really sure I get some of the criticism I've seen that the Cubs have overpaid in their dealings this summer. They are the Defending World Champions in the middle of what can be a sustained, several-year window of title contention with the graduated core they have, using prospects to augment that core with additional, excellent, controlled pieces in order to make more runs. That's sort of the point of the whole thing.

cracker73 (Florida): What is the ceiling for Keibert Ruiz?

Wilson Karaman: I've held off long enough. I've only caught a couple games so far, I'm due for more Rancho this week. I really liked what I saw an awful lot, though. His glove was supposed to be behind his bat from what I'd heard, but I thought the receiving and movement was well advanced for a catcher his age. He's got really strong wrists, both for framin' and for accurate barrel delivery. I have no conclusions to offer yet, but first impressions here (make sure you're sitting down): http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=32306

Steve (AZ): If I have Victor Robles, Ronald Acuna, Rhys Hoskins, Eloy Jimenez, Kyle Tucker, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr on my minor league dynasty roster, who do I drop, if anyone, to add Bo Bichette?

Wilson Karaman: Uh...I think I speak for all of us when I say $#%& YOU! I dunno man, trade one of those dudes (Soto? Tatis? Hoskins?) for an awesome player, immediately pick up Bichette, cackle, remember you're supposed to act like you've been there before, take a breath, compose yourself, lose control, cackle again.

Todd (Palo Alto): What do you do with someone like Matt Chapman? Off the charts defensive value and above average power, but he makes contact so infrequently.

Wilson Karaman: Matt Chapman is a guy who I feel like I've nailed about as well as you can nail a prospect, bracketing that I didn't give quite enough credit to his defensive improvement over time and undersold the glove. A 35% whiff rate isn't *that* absurd for his first hundred PAs in the bigs, honestly. You'd have given me that as your line in March, I'd have taken it. I think over time he can and will grow into a low average guy who still produced offensive value with a .310, .320 OBP and a bunch of dingers, and does it while playing outstanding defense. I feel wholly comfortable projecting 3-4 WARP seasons out of him at his peak.


Steve (Colorado): Do you see Garrett Hampson as more than a utility player at the Major League level?

Wilson Karaman: I do! Have dug him back to college, has always been a high-probability guy for me. I have a pretty fresh report on him here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=446

Nate (Salt Lake City): Thoughts on the Jays trade deadline moves?

Wilson Karaman: I thought the Liriano deal was a clever little move, given Aoki's year of control next year, and I've always a relative fan of Teoscar's as a versatile, quality fourth-outfielder type (I'll have a Transaction Analysis writeup of him up tomorrow). Be interesting to see if Toronto can unlock some addition game power out of him the way they have so many other hitters lately.

Truth & Soul Records. Go listen to their entire catalog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdeX_keKO-U

cracker73 (Florida): Jhailyn Ortiz seems to have prodigious power. Does he have a chance to be the next Stanton or Judge?

Wilson Karaman: Let's throw the breaks on that kind of talk for the time being, but yes, teams don't generally give $4 million to 16-year-olds that lack for elite ceilings, and Ortiz's size and raw power for his age are both jarring. So far so good in the NYPL, and he's probably at least creeping into the discussion for the back end of that team's top 10 this winter, though it's such a deep system at the top that I'm not sure he's going to be there yet.

dave m (chicago): Who is the Cubs top prospect after all this dealing? Are they bottom 5 system?

Wilson Karaman: Man...Albertos? Alzalay? I guess Caratini still qualifies? He's in the mix? Uh...I dunno their system very well, but from afar they strike me as Angels v. 2016esque, so yes, it's pretty low on the pole at this stage (which is fine. They're leveraged for the next ~3 year window, it's toooootally 100% fine. Enjoy it Cub fans, seriously. It's okay).

smelmoth (South of the Bridge): Why does Lewis Brinson seem relatively ignored by the general baseball/fantasy public? Is it the high risk factor? The low average potential? Shinier new toys? Seems to me to be a guy that we'll have to wait a few years for his peak but he's looking like a 30-30 guy who sticks in CF. he's already torn up AAA, but people seem to have already pushed him into a post-hype category. And hey- I'm thinking the people need an introduction to Errol Dunkley.

Wilson Karaman: I dunno if that's *entirely* fair, we had him 10th on our regular Top 50 and 14th on the fantasy list a few weeks ago. But the profile's ripe for a certain element of fatigue: he was a tooled-up prep pick who struggled mightily early in his career, never established that Tatisian/Bichettian sheen and the hit tool's always been the big question mark that some scouts have never quite felt confident in despite repeated demonstrations of adjustment and adaptation to higher-minors pitching. Not me tho. I <3 him.

Errol Dunkley have a shockingly under-the-radar career given how long he made awesome music. Dude started singing rocksteady tunes before his voice even dropped, and a decade later he was dropping some of the deepest roots grooves you never heard. Seriously, this one's low-lights-and-high-volume-on-the-best-headphones style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqNkjoJNolA

Josh (Los Angeles): Do you ever get out to the AZL? Any young IFA guys there you think are perfectly cromulent?

Wilson Karaman: I do not, but we've got two dudes who do, in Matt Pullman and John Eshleman, both of whom are excellent evaluators. Matt wrote delicious things about Eguy Rosario just today in the Ten Pack, I'd start there: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=32405

Jose (St Paul): Where does LAD catching rank in baseball? (i.e. Grandal, Barnes, Farmer, Smith, Ruiz, Wong) Does the current status of the position have any significant influence on future trade negotiations regarding anyone one of these guys? (Grandal,specifically, since he's a FA after 2018 season)

Wilson Karaman: I've never tried to do a position-by-position comp of systems before, but have to believe it's near or at the top of the pile, yeah. They're very specific in the model of athletic, intelligent, versatile catchers they pursue. There's absolutely zero impact as far as Grandal is concerned, as he is square in his prime and marching towards a third consecutive 4.5+ WARP season. It certainly positions them well in the event that he leaves in free agency at that time, and as with the rest of their system, it gives them a position of long-term organizational depth from which to operate.

Carlo (NorCal): Who is your favorite A's prospect, and why is it Max Schrock?

Wilson Karaman: Couple Puk questions, so I'll use this one as opportunity, as it garners a bonus mention for Schrock on his player page. A.J. Puk is...unique physically. I'm *not* putting a Randy Johnson comp on anyone here, okay, so let's get that straight. But if you were gonna ask me for one dude in minor league baseball to struggle putting it together for most of his 20's, then all of a sudden develop into a monster that strikes out the world at 29, he'd be the interrupting-cow name outta my mouth. That stuff from that arm slot with that extension is disgusting. If he ever gets remotely consistent with it...weeeeeee

Since we're winding down into the dubwise portion of the evening, let's roll on with a hard one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrUakDA9PVE

Chansen8895 (San Jose): What are your thoughts on Monte Harrison this year? Does he have a chance to be in the top 100 next year?

Wilson Karaman: I wrote about Monte at the end of this piece back in April, mostly as an excuse to link to his high school basketball highlight reel. But he's finally stayed healthy long enough to make some really interesting progress this year, while still (somehow) remaining age-appropriate for Low A. I think top 100's probably premature, but he's very well worth watching into next year.


John (DC): I'm contending in a H2H dynasty league and sitting on Acuna and Vlad Jr. I'd rather trade Vlad, but the offers are better for Acuna. What type of return should I be looking for?

Wilson Karaman: Top 25 hitter

Last cut: Wackies: This Horace Andy album is one of those where you cycle through every track being THE track at some point: This track is the track for me right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uojknQt-HA0

Matt (LA): How excited should I be about Keibert Ruiz? Is he capable of becoming an elite prospect?

Wilson Karaman: I will reiterate: very.

DJ (Boston): Do you have any good book/reading recommendations that go more in-depth about the trading deadline or trades in general? Sort of just curious if anything is out there that lets us see in-depth how deals are completed.

Wilson Karaman: Actually just started running through an advance copy of Ned Colletti's upcoming memoir, due out this fall, that's got some really interesting anecdotes and thoughts on this and other associated subjects. Still fairly early into it, but positive enough early returns to recommend jumping onto your favorite local bookstore's site and pre-ordering. Believe it's called "The Big Chair"

Rocky (Youngstown): How depleted is the Yankees system after acquiring Gray, Garcia, and the 3 ex-White Sox?

Wilson Karaman: Shockingly not. They didn't touch any of their top 4 dudes, and still have something on order of a middle-of-the-pack middle tier to the system. And that's not even accounting for the 8,536,672 tooled-up teenagers they bought a couple summers ago, out of which at least a few more good prospects are likely to emerge that haven't yet.

Polanski (Ohio ): Who has the better fantasy career Kevin Maitan or Luis Robert? Elaborate please

Wilson Karaman: We got our first eyes on Maitan last weekend, and without spoiling anything that hasn't been written yet, the conversation in our Slack was...whelming. At least in terms of rawness and gap between present and future. The tools are impressive, particularly the fundamentals of the swing. He yanked a hammy today, incidentally.

I'm not sure you can go wrong with either, the ceilings on both are stupid. I'd lean Robert marginally for timeline reasons, but I'm not sure I see a ton of daylight between their present dynasty valuations. They're both figments of your imagination.

Steve (nj): What do you dislike more for voting: electoral college or Baseball Hall of Fame voters?

Wilson Karaman: Neither's a representative democratic exercise, but the former has actual and profound repercussions, so...

Wilson Karaman: And with that, unfortunately, I must bid adieu. Thick queue remains, so my apologies I couldn't get to all your questions. Feel free to track me down on Twitter @vocaljavelins and follow up. Thanks for kicking it. Catch y'all on down the trail...

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