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Chat: Kevin Jebens

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday March 08, 2019 4:00 PM ET chat session with Kevin Jebens.


Kevin Jebens is a fantasy writer for Baseball Prospectus.

Kevin Jebens: Alright, let's get this fantasy train rolling. Happy Friday to all!

beringstorm (Tacoma, WA): Better deep league high risk/high reward flyer Malcomn Nunez or Adley Rutschman?

Kevin Jebens: Nunez is interesting but is a long way off. Rutschman would be my choice. He's 21 and a catcher (for now at least). If he can give you top-5 value at that position or better, it's worth the gamble.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Any "bust candidate" players you are staying away from in fantasy drafts?

Kevin Jebens: Check out our "Fantasy Players to Avoid" series for each position. But some random examples of guys I may not like as much as others/ADP: Folty, Ender Inciarte, Adalberto. I'm finally starting to consider taking Gallo in a mock draft for the first time, but don't push me when it comes to a real league. And of course, I'm always down on Brandon Belt, though finally his ADP is more reflective of his value.

Vic (Baltimore): In a 15 Team Mixed 5 x 5 Keeper League (2 Catchers) straight draft with about 20-25% of the Top 100 already kept, I am planning to pick Realmuto with pick #50 if still available....I already have Molina so why not get Realmuto in order to have the best tandem? Or, should I pick someone like Greinke, Ozuna, or Taillon instead of Realmuto?

Kevin Jebens: I mean, having two top catchers is not an awful strategy given how horrific the production is outside the top-10. I do like Realmuto in Philly, and I'm higher on him than a few of the other BP guys. It's a bold move, though Ozuna and Taillon make a lot of sense too. If you have at least one ace, go for it. If you're short on pitchers, it'd be really hard to pass on grabbing an SP early.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Cleveland has to make a move for an OF, right?

Kevin Jebens: See next question.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Not a fantasy question per se, but why haven't Cleveland sent Bradley and Chang to Colorado, for the services of Raimel Tapia. He is clearly not loved or wanted among the rocky mountains, and they do like big boppers, surely Cleveland would be a whole lot better in the outfield, with him in it, Who says no?

Kevin Jebens: I have no problem with Cleveland adding an OF, though I actually don't mind Leonys Martin and Jake Bauers. Greg Allen may get playing time too, which is good for us fantasy managers. Then you have Zimmer and Naquin who can't stay healthy. Luplow is a long-term investment but doesn't help the Indians as much in 2019. Tapia could make sense. But I don't think Colorado wants Bobby Bradley, a bat-first player who struck out a ton at Triple-A. And then you throwin in Yu-Cheng Chang, another strikeout king with poor defense. Granted that Tapia is just a fourth outfielder, but they'll probably want players with more than one tool.

BK (Toronto): If you were doing a top 101 prospects next year, where do you think Bobby Witt Jr. would be? When do you think he reaches the major leagues?

Kevin Jebens: Ben and Bret said he may be in the 60-70 range. He could be a 20/20 threat, but I'm always more wary of high strikeouts at the lower minors levels, let alone someone facing high school pitching. I'm a constant pessimist when it comes to faraway prospects, so he'd be more in the 80-90 range for me until I see some more advanced analysis.

darielsantana (Santo Domingo): Hello, Any MI and CI to target in the late rounds? Roto lesgue 12 teams but really deep rosters

Kevin Jebens: Yuli Gurriel gets overlooked because he doesn't hit for much power, but a high batting average helps in roto, and he plays everywhere. Asdrubal Cabrera is another veteran that doesn't get the respect he deserves. Even deeper, Nick Ahmed has an outside shot at .250/20 given his boost in hard hits on fly balls. Don't forget about Eduardo Nunez, who may get back to .280/10/15 if all goes well. Wilmer Flores could manage to nab a nearly full-time gig, which would mean .280/20 upside. If I need to go even deeper, let me know!

Stuck (A Quandary): 12 team mixed 5x5 H2H league with five keepers. Trying to decide between Clevenger and Eloy for my final spot. I already have two good-not-great starters and two stud hitters. Pitching always seems to go quick in the draft and every year there seems to be good hitting values late, but I just can't shake the thought that I will regret it if I throw Eloy back into the pool.

Kevin Jebens: Clevinger is solid, and I don't expect a lot of regression from him. I'd consider Clevinger a top-25 SP, so if that's higher than your other "good not great" SP, keep him and toss back one of the others. And it also comes down to the type of league: if it's cut-throat and for pay, and you want to win in 2019, Clevinger makes more sense. If it's more casual and you want the enjoyment of watching Eloy for his entire career, he's the definite pick.

edwar288 (St. Paul): I'm having a very tough time with my last keeper in a deep 16 team points league. I'm deciding between Nate Eovaldi, Max Kepler, and Nomar Mazara. Can you rank each them according to upside over the next three years? And floor?

Kevin Jebens: Ask Bret, and Mazara is the clear winner. His floor is what he's been doing, about .260 with 20 HR. But his batted ball profile has to change before he unlocks the .280/30 upside Bret talks about. I'm skeptical he can make the adjustment, but he's still quite young.

I like Kepler for more than what he did in 2018, but clearly the floor is his 2017-18 results. He also has an outside chance at 30 HR, and his batting average will be lower than Mazara's, but he walks more and strikes out less than Mazara to offset that in a points league.

Eovaldi had career bests in many metrics. If those stick, he's a great investment on a competitive team. But It's also possible he regresses a little, and the health issue is a factor. I don't see tons of upside, but his ERA probably sits between 3.70 and 4.00 with a good WHIP.

If you're hurting for SP depth and want the best value in 2019, it's Eovaldi, Mazara, Kepler. If you just want pure upside potential, Mazara is your guy.

Brian24 (Newport Beach, CA): Keeper question. 12-team 5x5 roto with OBP and SV + ½ Holds, $260 budget, keep 6 plus one minor leaguer. Definitely keeping Gallo $11, Hoskins $11, Acuna $1, Buehler $1, and Vladito as my minor leaguer. Need to choose 2 more from the following 6: $14 Puig, $9 Taillon, $7 Corey Seager, $1 Nimmo, $1 Marquez, $1 Mallex Smith. Definitely going for it this year so current year value is key. Thanks!

Kevin Jebens: BP staff is very much in on Marquez this year, and for a buck he's a lock. Mallex should be good for SB and BA, a good value at $1, so if you want to lock down SB and save salary, that makes sense. But if you believe in Taillon's second half, he's provide a ton of value. Puig also a nice pick in Cincinnati. Too many keeper options is a great problem to have! If this year is essential, I'd say Mallex and Marquez to give you a solid foothold on a scarce category and save your salary cap space to spend freely on "win now" pieces.

Dusty (Colorado): Thoughts on Wander Javier? What is his upside?

Kevin Jebens: He's already better than Mike Trout and could also be MVP in the NFL and the NBA.

Boris (Spiderweb): Do you expect the Orioles to call up Yusniel Diaz this season and what do you expect from him once he hits the majors? Thanks!

Kevin Jebens: Given how bad the Orioles are, Diaz could probably start for them already. But realistically, I'm expecting only a cup of coffee in September this year. Bret has him at #70 for top dynasty outfielders (5-year outlook). He also made the back end of my 3-year rankings. I could see a 15/15 year with a solid batting average, though his stealing instincts are pretty poor, so maybe more 15/10 with a bit of upside in his best years.

bob (pa): Kevin--- I'd like to know your thoughts about two young 2B: Jeff McNeil and Luis Urias. McNeils numbers were especially impressive last year at Triple A, and he also hit very well after his callup----and for me Urias has an elite hit tool and may surprise with his gap power and SB ability----possible 10-15 in each category which is better than many have predicted-------but what do you think about both players?

Kevin Jebens: I like McNeil, but the Mets have a way of screwing up playing time for non-veterans. Upside of 20 SB, and maybe stretching for 15 HR in a lucky year but more likely 10 dingers. High contact makes for a nice batting average floor.

Urias is the more exciting pick, with 15/10 capability as early as this year given the playing time. Grounders are going to limit his power upside and even his batting average, but .270/10/5 could be his floor starting in 2019.

If McNeil wasn't on the Mets, I'd lean toward him for 2019 alone. But long term I'd choose Urias for sure.

sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): Not sure if you do or know Scoresheet leagues...last NL keeper decision: Pablo Lopez, Stripling or Rich Hill?

Kevin Jebens: I asked the Scoresheet guys, and the best bet is Rich Hill for skill and rotation spot certainty. Assuming you can deal with the trip to the injured list. If you're looking further ahead, then Stripling gets a vote.

John (Florida): Where would Robert Paulson and Jasson Dominguez be on prospect lists if they were signed? Do you have any thoughts on them?

Kevin Jebens: I'm not comfortable trying to rank guys so young, and the international pool isn't my strength. It's conceivable both could be in the 100-140 range when signed, but they're so far off with so much work to be done that unless you're playing in leagues with 250+ prospects rostered, they wouldn't be my personal targets. I get why they're top internation signees for MLB teams, but fantasy outlook is extremely high risk, very long term, and uncertain reward. If we're talking about non-fantasy outlook, then the risk is obvious less because the MLB teams can wait.

Brian24 (Newport Beach, CA): Thanks for the very helpful response, Kevin! I agree, it's a great problem to have.

Kevin Jebens: No problem! If you can make any pre-draft trades, those guys should be decent options, especially if you combine a few.

Vic (Baltimore): Estimate how many MLB ABs for Hampson and what do they look like? How about in 2020?

Kevin Jebens: Y'know, it's really hard to tell right now with McMahon and him duking it out. If I'm taking a shot in the dark, splitting up 600 AB at second base, give maybe 350 AB to Hampson right now and 250 to McMahon. But I honestly think Hampson should nab the full-time gig, and you may as well draft him for that potential. McMahon could be a super utility guy for them. With maybe 500 AB, I like Hampson for 30 SB and an average anywhere from .260 to .275. Not likely to break 10 HR, but for fantasy, speed is the value he offers.

And 2020 truly depends on 2019 and the health of other players. I don't pretend to have that forecasting ability. Sorry.

Paula (Colorado): Who do you think is the breakout closer this year. Looking for someone who isn't currently in the role but could take over and thrive.

Kevin Jebens: There are a ton of potential split closers this season as teams become more comfortable with a flexible approach. I like Jace Fry long term, but he's behind Colome and Herrera, presumably. Being behind two veterans makes his chance a long shot in 2019. If you like veteran throwbacks, Melancon could take over for Will Smith if there's an injury. And Ottavino would be the logical choice behind Aroldis given the Yanks skipped over Betances last time they had the chance. Keone Kela could get a shot if Pittsburgh trades away their closer like always every few years. But my top choice right now is Joe Jimenez. Shane Greene is not a secure option in Detroit, so nab Jimenez while you still can.

Tommy (Chicago): Who do you think are the prospects that realistically can make the opening day roster if they have a good spring?

Kevin Jebens: Garrett Hampson, Victor Robles (again), Jesus Luzardo, Justus Sheffield, and tons of Atlanta pitching prospects (Gohara, Allard, Wright)

Sammy (Miami): Franco or Adell?

Kevin Jebens: I've gotta go with Jo Adell. I like his speed more than Wander Franco's, so he has a higher chance of being a true five-category guy. But I don't blame you if you want an elite MI guy. Franco offers better batting average upside, which is becoming as rare as stolen bases. Really it's a choice between two top-10 guys who aren't that far apart.

dan22ke9 (Not in Neverland): Who will be the comeback players in both AL and NL in 2019 and why?

Kevin Jebens: Do you give it to Josh Donaldson if he's healthy? Dude can still hit if he can stay on the field. Corey Seager also an option for injury purposes. If you want someone who just sucked, then Sonny Gray should get back to at least tolerable.

In the AL, I'd love to see Buxton prove me wrong, but I'd take Carlos Correa. He doesn't have to go .300/30 to greatly improve on his horrible .239/15 from last season.

Vic (Baltimore): When do you think Vidal Brujan makes his MLB debut?

Kevin Jebens: 2020 at earliest. Crazy speed potential, but the Rays seem to have enough infield depth for now that they won't rush him.

Gary Mack (in the back): First year player draft starts this weekend (2018 Draft pick, J2, and random prospects who weren't rostered before 2018). I have first pick, trying to decide between all the 2018 draft guys and others; Kristian Robinson, Paddack. Who would you take?

Kevin Jebens: Nick Madrigal is a top choice from 2018 draft. I like Paddack a lot, and he's close to the MLB now, but Mize the better upside long term. Kristian Robinson maybe my third choice behind Madrigal, Mize.

boatman44 (Liverpool): How do you feel about two back of the draft flyers on Matt Strahm and David Paulino in a 16 team league with a cat for Save/Holds ? Cheers for the chat Kevin.

Kevin Jebens: Good choices. I'm higher on Strahm, both for this chance to start and his 2019 impact. But the end of the draft is tailor made for these types of picks. If you definitely want a holds guy and not a potential starter, maybe Paulino makes more sense because I don't expect him to start.

bkopman (Toronto): In an AL-only 5x5 roto keeper league, how do you feel about Givens at $5 and Shane Greene at $10? Most of what I hear is down on them, but I think its all about context and of course, whether they can keep their jobs.

Kevin Jebens: I understand it's AL-only, but those two are maybe my least favorite options for closer. Definitely prefer Givens in a vacuum, and the fact that he's less expensive helps. Not many options behind him, whereas Greene has Jimenez waiting in the wings. If you only need one, Givens. If you need two... Givens.

Nick (North Carolina): My favorite prospect is Red Sox wunderkind Trey Ball. Tell me more about TreyBae.

Kevin Jebens: There once was a prospect named Ball.
Turns out he just can't pitch at all.
He should get off the mound
And be corner outfield bound
If he ever wants to get The Call.

Kevin Jebens: Well, that wraps it up for today. Can't think of a better way to go out than a limerick. Besides, I've gotta get myself to Galloping Ghost, the biggest arcade in the US. No need to feed quarters into the machines, so I'm gonna relive my childhood by playing X-Men, The Simpsons, and Gauntlet. Have a great weekend!

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