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Chat: Wilson Karaman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday January 23, 2018 11:00 PM ET chat session with Wilson Karaman.


Wilson is a senior member of both the BP Prospect and Fantasy teams, and the purveyor of the #LateNightChat.

Wilson Karaman: Yes-I! Welcome, welcome. I want to get things started here with an in-memorium for Naomi Parker Fraley, who passed away at 96 a couple days ago. A photo of her from 1942 at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA was the impetus for Rosie the Riveter. In honor of her, and the overwhelming awesomeness of women all across the country stomping feet on the boulevard this past weekend, we're gonna talk ball here tonight with an all-girl soundtrack. Tell 'em about it while I fire up the queue, Jade Bird: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVuedOfMA_A

Dusty (Colorado): Was there any consideration for Wander Javier at #1 for the Twins system?

Wilson Karaman: Let's do this. Wander! Out the gate! No! We did not consider him over Lewis, but, as we note pretty much every chat around here, homeboy's a cool prospect. Some day, sweet Dusty. We'll get there together.

Chris (Dallas): Who are your favorite breakout prospect candidates this year?

Wilson Karaman: He already sort of started to, but in terms of ceiling dudes Heliot Ramos is going to fly up ranks this year. Brent Rooker from last summer's draft, too.

Far as some lower ceiling dudes I like on this planet, he's basically fully cooked and should compete for a gig as soon as spring training, and I think Brian Anderson's going to gain some fans this year - unheralded rise through the ranks, but kid can hit and as some pop. Sort of like folks started getting wise to Matt Chapman during the years last year, think Anderson's got a shot to be that guy in 2018. Jeimer Candelario will be in the thick of that race, too. Ronald Guzman's a guy I didn't get a very good eval on back in the day, but I've come around on him as a nice little undervalued asset that can make his managers some money as soon as this year.

fflakes41 (Super Dynasty League): Hey Wilson...sitting at the #5 pick in my upcoming first-year player dynasty draft. It's looking like Greene, Ramos, Adell and Wright will be there for my pick. How would you rank them? I'm pretty set in the OF long-term, but that shouldn't play into my pick at all, right?

Wilson Karaman: Your team's depth chart should have absolutely zero impact on your decision here, your instinct there is correct. Adell and Ramos, gap, Greene, gap, Wright for me. For proximity reasons I go Adell there, but I have his and Ramos' ceilings occupying very similar real estate.

bob m (philly): What is your opinion and your outlook for Dahl this year? He's apparently a full go for spring training but the Rockies have a crowded outfield! I love his tools and upside but health is always an issue with him. Thx

Wilson Karaman: Tough to get a read on Dahl at this point, after missing so much time in recent seasons. I worry a bit that some of that elite kind of quick-twitch athleticism that drove the profile might've lost some edge, but same time he's still so young (24 in April) and that physicality was so good, that I think in spite of it all, benefit of doubt is warranted. It's still a dynamic profile if it comes together, and I imagine he'll have an extended opportunity at some point this summer to make it happen. Coupled with the park and lineup (obviously) I like him as a flyer in re-drafts and a confidence hold in dynasty.

On my natural resting anti-commercial state I'm embarrassed about how much I dig this tune. Underneath it all I know this is on its merits a *killer* tune and I feel no shame at all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scrXb2qVrCU

Florko (Vancouver): Roooooker yessssss

Wilson Karaman: Settle down, Bus Driver

Chris (Baltimore): Always interested in thoughts on players who don't get drafted who wind up in the Top 100 by year's end....ie. Marwin, Pham, Merrifield types....cough up 3 or 4 names that might fit this mold for 2019, please.

Wilson Karaman: From outside the current top 300, these aren't necessarily top-100 candidates, but a few dudes I like off the top of my head to produce really nice late-game return on investment:

Jose Martinez - as of right now he's in a bit of a logjam for playing time, but he's got some versatility and I like the bat a lot

Scott Schebler - Dude's got a ton of pop, a teeny bit of sneaky speed, and while the profile's not overtly valuable these days in shallower leagues, you do still need 35-homer bats to keep pace

Ketel Marte - Been a fan for a while, solid hitter, has gotten stronger and can drive the ball better now

Austin Hayes and Ryan McMahon should both get opportunities as young hitters with talent.

I haven't given up on Folty figuring out how to pitch with that stuff

Kinda interested to see what Grichuk can do in Toronto

Jeeper (TEX): Tyreque Reed. Another R/R 1B that we’re going to ignore until he hits 15 HR in his first 5 MLB games three years from now? But for real, I can only scout the (insane) box score. What’s he look like at the plate and is he a hidden gem or someone who was taking advantage of rookie ball?

Wilson Karaman: I just wrote about him in my 1B Ocean's Floor column last week, and yeah, the numbers he's put up - both in community college and then the Arizona League after signing - have been real fun. The contact numbers for a guy with his size and power were particularly eyebrow-raising. He's a huge, physically maxed dude with a ton of leverage to his swing. Hips are quick to open for max giddyup, and it'll be interesting to see what right-right breaking stuff and left-right change-ups do to him. It's a looooong, very seldom-navigated path for the profile, but you sort of have to take notice of what he's done so far, and he'll be a guy to keep an eye on when he (presumably) heads to full-season ball this spring.

This sister just turned *16*. Think about what you were doing when you were 16... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebb5AinKxWI

Chris (Baltimore): Please rank with ......to show separation. Thor, Strasburg, Bumgarner, Archer

Wilson Karaman: The first three are top-10 pitchers, Archer's a top-20 pitcher

Sebastian Melmoth (The Cape): Thanks for doing the chat. MacKenzie Gore is my binkie out of last year's draft class, but there are a couple of hitters who I think can have impact bats. Where are you on Hiura/Burger/Ramos? Also- give the people what they want and hit them with some Maytals.

Wilson Karaman: Gore's a good binkie, he's got the chance to be a special pitcher. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Lake Elsinore at some point this summer.

Hiura's one of the most advanced college bats I've seen. I love his swing - kind of extension and finish that reminds me of Ryan Braun, and he's got a chance to be that caliber of hitter, no hyperbole intended.

Burger had arguably the best power in the draft class last year, and while that ain't worth what it once was, he can be a frontline masher in the middle of a first-division lineup.

Ramos I touched on earlier, but his tools and advanced baseball acumen for a kid his age - especially when combined with his physical projectability - is just a rare combination. Not to say it'll definitely happen, but he has the building blocks to develop into a top overall fantasy prospect, and not many dudes start their careers with that kind of ceiling at 18.

JoeRandom (San Jose): how would you rank Leody Tavares, heliot ramos, royce lewis, and jo adell in dynasty? are there any large gaps between them?

Wilson Karaman: I'll use this to tease our upcoming annual prospect mock here at BP, which we just started drafting and will be up in chunks on the site in February. Royce, gap, Adell, Taveras, Ramos is how they went off the board. And ya boy here was responsible for the latter.

I am NOT, however, responsible for the sickness of Nikki Minaj's flow on this cut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ATQvgkXT9E

JoeRandom (San Jose): I know baseball is hard, but how worrisome was Amed Rosario's first rookie year?

Wilson Karaman: Beyond the inherent worry about him on account of his Met-ness, not in the leeeeast bit. Dude turned 22 in November. Talent finds a way, and he's got a ton of it.

James M (Boston): So is it crazy if a year from now Michel Baez is the top pitching prospect in baseball? Reyes, Kopech, Honeywell, Gohara should all be ineligible.

Wilson Karaman: I don't think that's crazy, no. If you're looking for a guy who checks most all of the boxes and could take another big step forward into that conversation, he's on the short list of A-ball arms. Dude's a monster with preternatural feel for how to control his monstrous body. That's not a common combination.

Vladdy’s Fan (Toronto): I try not to overhype myself with Vladdy, but am I insane to think that a 3/4/5 slash is, like, his 80th percentile outcome as opposed to maybe 95th?

Wilson Karaman: Not sure it's really all that realistic to tag *anyone* with that slash as an 80th percentile number, but it's a really fun offensive profile, and that 3/4/5 stylee's a legit ceiling to talk about. Bully for you if you happened to land him last year (or before) in your draft.

Mmmm, and Sebastian from a couple songs ago, sorry no Maytals tonight, but in they stead I'll do you one better: I don't know if there's a reggae record I can recommend more than this Lovejoys LP. Six Wackies discomixes with the dubs tagged on to the end, including two of the filthiest reggae cuts ever recorded on American soil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahqrslytAjY

Craig (Los Angeles): Hi Wilson - enjoy your reports from Rancho Cucamonga, what arr your thoughts on infielder Christian Sanrana?

Wilson Karaman: Cheers man! He's on the short list of dudes I'm looking forward to seeing this season off that stacked Great Lakes squad. Highly recommend Matt Pullman's write-up of him from August: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/30231/monday-morning-ten-pack-august-29-2016/

Steve (NJ): Thoughts on the Pennsylvania court overturn of gerrymandered districts? Which states do you think are most in need of new lines?

Wilson Karaman: Huzzah, I say! It's an interesting case, in that the plaintiffs challenged on grounds of a *state* constitutional violation, so it leaves the Supreme Court without a ton of real estate to consider an overturn. The state court demanded an extremely aggressive re-draw schedule, and if the GOP legislature tries to get funny with it, the Dem gov'll veto it and kick it right back to the Court to write the lines. Don't see the eventual district demarcations *dramatically* affecting Dem chances at the House this year, but I can see another net 1-2 seats over 80th percentile outcomes, so in the context of Democratic hopes of seizing a House majority, not insignificant. NC, OH, Virginia some of the worst for federal lines. Most of the rust belt for state leg lines.

Man on a mission (Penn.): Is the pendulum swinging too far to the other side on austin meadows? Soft-tissue injuries are a legitimate concern now, but I’m seeing him ranked outside top 50 in some lists. Valid or nah?

Wilson Karaman: It's a fair question, and I think the answer is no. Look, we're pretty sure we have a beat on the true talent here, although he's lost a bunch of time at this point, and when he *was* on the field last year there were some legitimate performance issues. And as you note, there's a theme to the injury history, to where it's wholly reasonable to bake that into how we project him - at least until he shows for a sustained period that he can stay on the field. Saying someone is a top 50 prospect in all of minor league baseball is an extremely positive assessment of the player's caliber and potential, and in Meadows case is probably about right in terms of reflecting skill ceiling and associated physical risks.

Jean Grae. This sample's wicked. This verse is wicked. This flow is wicked. (This whole record is wicked). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldD_bc5CorA

Steve (Colorado): Is there any potential for Garrett Hampson to greatly improve his standing as a prospect? Realistically, I mean.

Wilson Karaman: I dunno what else Hampson can do, he raked all year last year and stole a million bases. He's been exactly this player since college, just keeps doing his thing. He'll be a quality major-league player, I been convinced of that for a while.

Nick (Brooklyn): Do you see Yonny Chirinos or Yarbrough getting significant innings in Tampa? And if so, relief or starting?

Wilson Karaman: Yonny's kinda been my undercover lover for the past year or so, and I wrote about him fauningly in an MLU back in September: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/32721/minor-league-update-games-of-september-7/

They profile similarly, those two - good control, sneaky better-than-you-think stuff. I don't see why TB wouldn't want to try 'em both out in rotation roles, they've both done some pushing and shoving in the upper minors. Yarbrough seemed to find a bat-misser last year, and with his control that's a thing, right there. I think Chirinos is the better bet between the two, but it's close, and I wouldn't be surprised if either or both wound up with perfectly functional big-league careers.

Shawn miller (F4l backroom ): Amy info on jairo solis would mean a lot

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, John Eshelman wrote him up as one of the next ten to our Astros list last month. Just turned 18, already shows feel for three pitches with low-90s velo, plenty of physical projection. Should jump to full-season this year: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/36096/houston-astros-top-10-prospects-forrest-whitley-kyle-tucker/

nschaef (NYC): Are there any college 1Bs floating around in the minors who might go all Hoskins on us someday?

Wilson Karaman: Perfect timing! I *just* wrote about those dudes on Thursday! https://www.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/article/37173/dynasty-rankings-continued-first-basemen-oceans-floor/

Beer and Baker are the class of the class, as these things go for amateur cold-cornerers. It's a hard knock life in that profile, man.

Bryzzo (Illinois): Do you think Walker Buehler is destined for a bullpen role or can he stick as a starter?

Wilson Karaman: Destined? No. He's stronger than his frame suggests he is, but it's not a body that carries on unsolicited about durability. The arsenal's plenty for startin', so they might as well keep him in the role.

The original of this cut by Ike Turner is great, but this sequel's better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVtIpJtTE2I

Cubbie Bear (Chi-Town ): Likelihood of Austin Hays winning a starting OF out of spring? Long term prognosis? Thanks

Wilson Karaman: I'm not sure the Orioles are going to be incentivized to start his clock ticking right out of the gate, although then again it's basically Joey Rickard standing in his way as we stand here, right? So I guess it's more possible than you might intuitively think. He was promoted hella aggressively last year, an definitely looked a little under water at September coffee. There's plenty to like about him as a hitter, though his profile (big right-handed power, hasn't struggled in the minors, extremely fast riser) tends to lend itself to some ugliness in adjusting to big-league life, so I wouldn't go *too* crazy expecting out-of-the-gate success over the next year or two. I would not be surprised if this ends up a freezing cold take.

Mike (Las Vegas): What’s the story with Justin Hooper? Any chance he’s still the guy he was two years ago?

Wilson Karaman: Well, yes, in the sense that he was a long, tangled box of moving parts two years ago - https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/28514/notes-from-the-field-unc-vs-ucla-219-221/ - and he didn't seem to find much in the way of greater consistency last year. He's still a Day One candidate if he pulls it together. Health permitting, the underlying ingredients are still there, far as I'm aware.

cracker73 (Florida ): Hiura could have Ryan Braun like power?

Wilson Karaman: Not sure he ever clips 40, but I'll go to 30 on his peak home run power. Bat speed is there, and the leverage is too if he wants it. He's going to be a really, really good hitter.

Chris (Baltimore): In a 15 team league with 30+ rounds (4 years to keep) would you draft Julio Urias about where you might have drafted Alex Reyes in 2017...later? earlier?

Wilson Karaman: Urias is an exceedingly difficult player to value right now. It's very likely he misses the vast majority if not all of 2018, and while his youth is an asset for recovery purposes, his injury is a scary one in terms of regaining full functionality and effectiveness. I don't really have context for where Reyes was getting drafted after news of his injury broke, and it's tough to say where in the context of your draft is appropriate without knowing more about how many people in total are kept, etc. But broadly I'd peg him about 2 rounds earlier than I'd be looking at a standard-issue injury stash, just because the ceiling is still ostensibly there. Just know that he's a LONG play - this year's likely a full donut, and you'll be lucky if he generates positive value in 2019, either.

Take it back, sister. I've loved this tune since I heard it on my grandma's hi-fi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvD0iVr-0JQ

Flake (Arizona): What's the best piece of scouting advice you've ever been given as it pertains to looking at mechanics?

Wilson Karaman: For pitchers? Focus more on how everything works together within the player's unique physicality, versus what things look like relative to some platonic ideal. There are best practices to throwing a baseball, to be sure, but repeatability comes in many, many forms, and it is the single most determinant factor for predicting pitcher effectiveness. Consistency to release point drives command, and command drives the bus for the 90% of pitchers who don't throw high-90s with movement. I try to keep my focus on things like balance, weight transfer, hip rotation, and arm path consistency rather than getting hung up on arm slot, drive type, etc.

Philip (San diego): Which under the radar padres prospect do you like the most

Wilson Karaman: Gabriel Arias gets rave reviews for the glove, Luis Almanzar and Jordy Barley a couple more in the "J2 kids to watch" category. Jesisson Rosario's another. We've got solid write-ups of, I believe, all of them in our Padres next ten: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/35079/2018-san-diego-padres-top-10-prospects-fernando-tatis-jr-tatito-mackenzie-gore-michel-baez/

John (Orange County): Which college prospect(s) are you most looking forward to seeing this season?

Wilson Karaman: It's kind of a down year out here in SoCal, which is a bummer, but is fair as the check due for last year's ill class. Local prep kid Madrigal's a top five candidate, so he's probably tops on the board locally. I'll catch TCU at the Dodgertown Classic (or whatever they're calling it now), and get a glimpse a that Luken Baker ass in person, which I'm pretty stoked for. Baylor'll be out here next month too, so I'll get a look at heralded sophomore catcher Shea Langoliers. Otherwise UCLA's got usual pitching, Fullerton's got a couple dudes as usual, and Stanford'll have some too.

They should make the whole plane out of Nina working over syncopation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVEbzdN_7n0

Bernie A (Yinzers with sad faces): As the Pirates ship out established players for spare parts, are there any prospects, pre-existing or acquired, whose prominence for the 2018 season has accordingly risen, from either an MLB or a fantasy perspective?

Wilson Karaman: Yeah, we wrote a good amount about this in the various TAs in the wake of the Cutch and Cole deals, but in general, pretty much everyone who arrived in Pitt saw their outlooks improve. Moran'll get a shot to show whether his swing overhaul and improved launch angles can translate against big-league pitching in a longer look. Michael Feliz has closer-type stuff, he could emerge with some fantasy value if he can take a next step with his mechanical consistency. Musgrove's probably the biggest beneficiary in the immediate, as he'll get a shot to stick in a rotation now, under the tutelage of a pitching coach who has thrived repeatedly with pitchers who work off of similar skill sets. I like him as an NL-only play. Bryan Reynolds is pretty boring as a fantasy prospect, but his ETA probably bumps a bit in the Burgh. Even Jason Martin'll get a shot in the nearer term at holding down a 25-man role, there's some moderately interesting speed and pop there.

Then beyond the new arrivals, Adam Frazier probably starts the year as a starting outfielder now, which is good for his owners, and Jordan Luplow might get a shot to show what he can do as more than just a weak-side platoon until Meadows proves he can stay on the field and is ready to contribute.

Steve (LA): Please tell me how Jo Adell won't wind up being Bubba Starling with a lesser arm. I want reassurance.

Wilson Karaman: Man, I dunno, I wouldn't have seen reason to doubt Bubba at Adell's age either, yunno? Adell's got a lot of great tools to work with, it's him, Hiura, and Ramos above everyone else in last year's class for fantasy purposes, far as I'm concerned.

cracker73 (Florida): What are your thoughts on Brandon Marsh? How does he compare to some of the other top OF prospects?

Wilson Karaman: He can jump up into their mix right quick with a healthy effort in full-season ball. There was some uncertainty on him coming out of the draft, but he showed what he was capable of as a professional baseline last year, and the tools have always tantalized. He throws down some above-board offensive efforts in A and A+ next year, I think you'll see him bum rush some top prospect lists.

Steve (Texas): Pedro Gonzalez has the physical skill set and projection to fit right into the Rangers organization. What are your thoughts on his ceiling?

Wilson Karaman: Yeah he sure does. Re: ceiling, who knows? He could be...Queen of the Netherlands.

I have this record of Nikki Giovanni reading poems over the New York Community Choir - "The Truth Is On Its Way," it's called - and it is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I've ever encountered. The crescendo of this gospel track'll knock you on to your knees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihra0STduy4

Andy (New York ): 10 team, 8 keepers league. I was offered Goldy and Acuna for my Arenado. Should I take this deal? Keepers: Hoskin J. Ramirez Correra Arenado, Bryant Stanton Scherzer, Carrasco

Wilson Karaman: Man, that's a tricky scene, is what that is. In a league THAT shallow with THAT limited a keeper structure, it's a thing to think about. You're effectively trading Arenado and...I guess Carrasco here, since you'll need to eat that second keeper slot. Carrasco's the (much) better option for the here and now this year, but assuming this is keep-forever, I think I eat the cost up front to stake claim to Acuna over the long haul. Pitching's much easier to scrape together in a 10-teamer anyway.

Steve (Philly): It's that time of the year where prospect lists are released. How often do you see a list that you really disagree with? Like something egregious. And have you ever engaged the listmaker in dialog about it to find out where your difference of opinion is? Or pretend not to see it? I don't see baseball Twitter get very contentious with each other outside of first base prospects.

Wilson Karaman: Eh, not really re: confrontation. Prospecting is inherently subjective, right? If another evaluator sees a player a bunch and comes to a different conclusion, well, that'll happen. I try not to get hung up on list orders, so much as the reports on players themselves. Honestly, I like it when someone else sees something different in a player than I saw, because it makes me go back and take another look at my own evaluation. As with most things, you learn much more from disagreement than you do reinforcement.

Entropy (Reno): I presume you've watched Ohtani pitch on tape? Do you think he has the stuff to be a #2 or better? Would you rank behind the top prospect bats like Acuna, Vladito, Jimenez, and Robles?

Wilson Karaman: Yes, yes, and yes. I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty stoked he's going to be a scant 35 miles as the crow flies and 4 hours as the Elantra drives down in Orange County. His stuff sure looks the part.

Paul (Arizona): Favorite teenage arm that hasn’t seen full season ball yet?

Wilson Karaman: A guy I'll read about in a Ten Pack in early May.

I was fortunate to get to kick it with Ari Up for a while back in the day. Her innate sense of how to ride a riddim was true 80-grade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4cXsdITRgU

Esteban (Pawnee): If you were to consult a candidate for Pawnee city council, do you reconcile your personal positions with the candidate's? Could you have gotten Lester Trim with his assault rifle vending machine idea elected?

Wilson Karaman: Reconciling personal positions sort of goes with the territory of working directly for a candidate, which is why I generally don't like doing it. I am roundly confident I could've sold the assault rifle vending machine to Pawnee, yes.

Pk3 (SC): Luis Robert, Royce Lewis or Hiura for dynasty draft - 1st pick???

Wilson Karaman: Robert, Hiura, Lewis order for me, I think. They're all pretty close.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA ): How hard is regression going to hit DeJong? He can't keep producing with such a drasdtic k/bb rate can he?

Wilson Karaman: I...kinda...like him? I grabbed him out of the draft back in my TDGX days, and while the aggressive, high-strikeout profile's obviously not the ideal, there are some hitters who make it work better than others, and for whatever reason he's always struck me as one of 'em. I wouldn't *expect* the AVG to stay where it was last year, and there are are standard-issue Year 2 concerns I always have for dudes like DeJong. But a batted ball profile ripe with pull-side fly balls is tailor-made to sustain pop, and I think he can do that reasonably well even with baked-in regression elsewhere.

cracker73 (Florida): How does Rooker compare to other OF prospects? I know he has power but can he play enough defense to stay in the lineup to use that power?

Wilson Karaman: There's enough bat that it doesn't matter. If they have to throw him at first, if they have to DH him, he can justify the lineup spot for you. He's faster than he looks like he should be, so we'll see how he takes to an extended run of reps out there this year.

George W. (New york): Big fan of yours! In a Dynasty format, which side would you prefer... Blackmon Mejia Beckham Or Lindor G. Marquez F. Perez

Wilson Karaman: Flattery'll get you everywhere, Dubs. Give me the best player in this deal, I'll take Lindor. Blackmon's two-year uncertainty dings him enough to slot him well south of Lindor, who I can't get enough of. I like Mejia a lot, and really both those secondary pieces are much better than the Lindor side. But it's not enough to offset the gap I have between the tops of the tickets.

Alan (pomona, ca): Just for fun, name a guy who argued to rank much higher than he'll end up on the final 101.

Wilson Karaman: Dan Vogelbach. Speaking of whom, our Mariners Top 10 will drop tomorrow. And I mean that as a warning, this system's a bag of anvils that'll go crashing right on through your floor.

Wilson Karaman: And on that optimistic note, I must bid you all farewell for the eve. Thanks for hanging out tonight, big up for the handful of killer musical recommendations. Play us out, Sista Nan-seh! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXnT3LFTc-s

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