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Chat: Kevin Jebens

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 20, 2018 1:00 PM ET chat session with Kevin Jebens.

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Kevin is a fantasy staff writer at Baseball Prospectus.

Kevin Jebens: Hello, all. Canít wait for games that matter so that I have stats to analyze, but Iíll settle for spring training games and all the rumors about whoís in the best shape of his life. Let's get started!

Chris (Baltimore): Full Disclosure: BP chats are the best fantasy baseball chats. Thank you. What would you estimate the minimum # of MLB at bats for Acuna this year, and overall, what do you think is the worst overall 5 x 5 numbers he posts? I ask, because I am afraid I'll jump and draft him too early expecting a Kris Bryant rookie season.

Kevin Jebens: A lot of people assume itís the Bryant approach, keeping him down just long enough to retain an extra year of control. They also donít have anyone blocking. Then again, the Braves arenít competing anytime soon, so maybe the keep him down even longer. My guess is heíll net 500 AB, but you do have to be ready to adjust that lower after things shake out.

jipcho (Taiwan): Is Willie Calhoun the second coming of Kirby Puckett?

Kevin Jebens: Not at all. They're both short and stocky. But Puckett had a great BA with occasional shows of power and decent steals. Calhoun profiles more as a solid power bat than a high BA guy. Bear in mind his .300 average in 2017 was in the PCL. I like Calhoun as far as prospects go, but I collected a lot of Puckett cards while growing up. Gotta earn the Puck comparison in the bigs first.

Dusty (Colorado ): Hey Kevin, can you give me your thoughts about Wander Javier? Do you think he has good upside?

Kevin Jebens: Like any low-minors teenager, high-risk, high reward. He is years away, but scouts (and our BP staff) like his upside. I think he may be more of an impact in SB than HR, at least initially, whereas Bret and Ben like him for BA, HR, and RBI. Bret also ranked him 32nd at shortstop for a 5-year outlook, ahead of guys already in the bigs who should get a full five years of playing time (DeJong, Owings, Simmons). That should tell you something.

Goldfish (Original Flavor): Mejia! Mejia! Mejia! When will he be up for good?

Kevin Jebens: Gomes and Perez can offer a bit of power, but Mejia is clearly the better bat, and those in fantasy want him up ASAP. The thing is, Mejia still isn't the best defensive option behind the plate. Gomes and Perez can handle the staff, and that may be more important for Cleveland than extra production from catcher. I could see Mejia up this year, but if you mean permanently, then likely not until 2019. Bear in mind that Perez and Gomes are signed through 2020 and 2019, respectively, with options beyond that.

Chris (Baltimore): Last year, ex prospects Smoak, Morrison, and Alonso delivered....who might be 3 ex prospects who can deliver on their top 50 pedigree this year?

Kevin Jebens: Dylan Bundy's second half points at upside, and his poor ERA wasn't even due to gopheritis but an oddly low strand rate. Gregory Polanco hasn't quite lived up to his prospect hype, but if you chalk up most of his 2017 struggles to his injuries, he may reach 20/20 with a healthy hamstring. Taijuan Walker had flashes of brilliance last year, but his walk rate jumped. If he is more consistent, and with the humidor, he could provide great value.

Jason Weiner (Sharon (MA)): I am feeling quite emotional (in a good way) about Tommy Pham's prospects for this upcoming season. Please let me know your prediction about his performance for 2018. Thank you so much!

Kevin Jebens: He's not without risk (see 2nd half BABIP, and GB tilt), but there are few guys who can go 20/20 right now, and he's one of them. Just don't buy expecting a full 2017 repeat in BA. Right now he's higher risk than many similar bats simply because we need to see him do it again.

rrydelek (Moon): How do you see the Orioles' outfield situation shaking out in 2018? Austin Hayes a starter, or do they give Santander a shot?

Kevin Jebens: I've given up trying to figure out what the Orioles are doing. Right now, Jones (CF) and Mancini (LF) are locks. Trumbo plays RF in NL parks. Rickard may get starts against LHP, but he doesn't hit RHP. Santander profiles as average power and won't hurt you in BA, but nothing special. My guess is they play mix and match with controlled guys like Gentry, Rickard, Santander, and Brugman until Hays has more seasoning and is ready for a full-time gig. That may be halfway through the season, but the O's shouldn't rush him because it's not like they're competing anyway. My guess is Hays get a lot of time in Triple-A.

Jim (Chicago): How do you think Robbie Rae feels about humidors? Pitchers & catchers report!

Kevin Jebens: Before the humidor, I wasn't quite as high on Ray as some. However, some people think it's going to make a huge difference. Even if you assume a modest effect, it could help him counter the rising FB% and HR/FB from 2017. If that happens, and he can get his walks under control, maybe I'll join the Ray bandwagon.

SmallMarketFan (NJ): With his move to Milwaukee, coupled with his steady hit tool progression, can Christian Yelich break into the top 25 in 2018?

Kevin Jebens: With a more favorable park, yes, it's entirely possible his ceiling could be .300/25/20 and a top-25 guy. However, would I pay full price for that best-case scenario? Not just yet. I like him more than PECOTA, and Yelich is outside the top-50 in ADP right now, so thatís a nice speculation as long as he isn't going in the first 2 rounds.

Chris (Baltimore): For 2018 only. Aaron Hicks or Acuna?

Kevin Jebens: With Stanton in the mix, I worry about playing time for Hicks, and 2017 may be as good as it gets in the near term. I'm usually bearish on prospects, but I'll take Acuna for better production in 2018. The issue is where you'll have to draft them. Acuna is the 33rd OF off the board, whereas Hicks is 58th. In terms of risk and value based on ADP, Hicks is the safer bet. But safe doesnít win championships.

Rick (Chicago): Just wanted to get your thoughts on both Addison Russell and JP Crawford long term. Thanks

Kevin Jebens: Long term, in deeper leagues, they're both great options. You just can't assume the high ceiling they had as we drooled about them in their prospect rankings. Addy hasn't shown a lot of obvious growth lately, but he's a solid enough power bat on a good team. I'm a little more wary of Crawford, but he provides speed and takes walks to get on base for chances, so we'll see. You could do worse, but there are a lot of guys I'd rank ahead of them. See my 3-year rankings from earlier in this offseason.

dylanrox (Denver): In our 14 team h2h points format (weekly lineups), we can keep 5 forever with no inflation. Goldy Donaldson Kluber JRamirez are my 4 no-brainers. My tough call is #5: Nola (9th round) Berrios (19th) Conforto (21) Desmond (21) Schwarber (22). Which of those 5 makes the most sense for me?

Kevin Jebens: If you lose your round pick in the draft, Schwarber is the best return of value. But pitching is in such high demand right now, and Nola has nice upside (see any fantasy site this offseason), so he would make good sense if you're willing to keep 2 SP. Many teams aren't with just 5 keepers. They're neck and neck in PECOTA dollars for this year. If the round selection makes a big difference to you, I guess Schwarber is the guy.

Dahl's Missing Spleen (Denver): With the Rockies having a potential opening in the outfield/first base given the likely departure of Carlos Gonzalez, do you see David Dahl making a fantasy impact this year? He had a decent run his last time in the majors.

Kevin Jebens: A lot of Colorado people today! If Dahl is healthy, he still has a nice upside. Could go 15/15 even in a partial season, but don't expect the BA to repeat, because his plate discipline still needs work. For keeper leagues, he may come at a discount now, so he's worth the pick. I picked him up in a deep keeper league, still have faith.

nschaef (NYC): How are you incorporating the Arizona humidor into your drafting? I suspect Greinke, Ray, and even Corbin get a boost, but how much are you weighting it? Similarly, how much are you dinging the bats?

Kevin Jebens: I'm not worried about Greinke. Ray could see some improvement; see my earlier comment on him. Corbin is a bit of a worry in general due to health. We won't know how the humidor affects players until it's in action. Again, a lot of people are assuming a very large effect. For hitters, I wouldn't worry about dropping Goldy very much, because he's a beast. Lamb is probably fine. But guys like Pollock or Peralta or Owings, who aren't super heavy hitters anyway, could see a hit in value. Then again, Owings won't have his value crash entirely, because he provides SB. I won't avoid ARI hitters completely, but if it's basically a toss-up on my cheat sheet, I may lean toward the non-Arizona guy. If there's a lot of freaking out in your league, maybe you can get them cheaply and come out ahead.

Jim (GPS Coordinates?): Great chat, thanks. Please rank my borderline keeper arms: Tanaka, McCullers, Salazar, Teheran.

Kevin Jebens: I don't think Tanaka is borderline at all. Had some bad luck (maybe bad location) with homers, but other than that, he improved his K/9, which is justified due to the uptick in SwStr%. Gopheritis can ruin any season, but if he makes any regression at all there, he's a great value. The others I'd rank Salazar, McCullers, Teheran. Teheran's the healthiest option but the lowest upside, and I don't think 2016 is coming back to stay.

smallmarketfan (NJ): Donaldson is projected at #26, and ADP is in the low 30's. Hot or Cold on him and the injury nag?

Kevin Jebens: Injury risk is always hard to figure, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. He had a small spike in K%, but HHFB% and HR/FB still elite. You can't project 600 AB, but like Stanton (and Tulo in the old days), you know you're getting fantastic production whenever he's out there. In my 15-team, 4-keeper 5x5, I have no problem holding on to Donaldson as my #2 keeper. Declined trades for him.

Dusty (Colorado ): Is Wander Javier's upside going to be worth the wait?

Kevin Jebens: That depends on how patient you are. Since you've asked this question many times, twice in this chat and even in other chats, my guess is the few years it'll take will be too hard for you. :)

smallmarketfan (nj): Aaron Altherr: continue the breakout? Met his ceiling?

Kevin Jebens: Last year, he upped his hard hit rate and lofted more. The downside is his SwStr% and Contact% aren't great, and fewer LD% may not help his BA. The speed scores don't look great, and he ran less often last year (due to hammy issue?). May have upside as 20/10 in the near future, but the BA could make or break his value. A .270/20/10 may not be his full ceiling, but I'm not betting on a ton more.

Mark (Illinois): 4 keepers to pick from Freeman, C. Seager, Encarnacion, Moose, G. Cole, Lester. Which are the best? 5x5 league

Kevin Jebens: Freeman, Seager, EE, and Cole. Moustakas needs to sign first before I go all-in on him, and if he end sup in San Diego, that's going to hurt him. Don't be scared by EE's age -- he's a solid value.

Kevin Jebens: Thanks, everyone. Looking forward to more chats in the future. Good luck with your drafts, and may your top picks avoid the DL.


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