Darius Austin is a fantasy writer for Baseball Prospectus.
Darius Austin: Hey everyone, hope draft season is going well so far. Let's get to it!
sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): How do you see playing time shaking out in AZ with Adam Jones added to the mix?
Darius Austin: It's a bit of a mess, I think. Peralta is safe and after that it probably hurts everyone at least a little. Marte & Souza will both lose some time to get Jones in the lineup, although Marte will get back some of the PT in the infield, which will take a few PA away from Flores & Ahmed.
PA prognosticator (PA): How would you rank Yusniel Diaz, Oscar Mercado, Yordan Alvarez and Daz Cameron by projected plate appearances this year, and what is rhe range / error bars?
Darius Austin: Mercado, Alvarez, Cameron, Diaz, although Mercado's the only one who seems to have an obvious route to any significant PT, as the Astros have the depth to keep Alvarez in the minors and the Orioles and Tigers have no incentive to bring anyone up early.
Jered (Germany): I'm in a league that doesn't count SB, but OBP and SLUG replace AVG. Who do you like more; Soto, Acuna?
Darius Austin: OBP and no SB is such a massive swing in Soto's favor that I'll take him here.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Do you think Keuchel would take a three year deal at this point? If so, the Padres seem like a good fit.
Darius Austin: On one hand, I feel like if he was happy with that, he might have signed already. That said, we are rapidly approaching the point where any deal is starting to look attractive. A three-year deal doesn't really work in his favor, because a 34-year-old Keuchel is not going to get a better deal, but the market isn't working in his favor now anyway.
Nick (North Carolina): My favorite prospect is Red Sox wunderkind Trey Ball. Tell me more about TreyBae.
Darius Austin: This is a weird favorite prospect, and I feel bad that I'm not going to be more excited. Then again, maybe this is just the tremendously underwhelming version of the Wander Javier bit. Becoming a two-way player is all the rage these days, so it'll be fun to watch that for a little while if he gets the chance, but so far he hasn't even pitched well enough to be a mop-up reliever, so I don't hold out much hope.
Ben (Alabama): In a 10-team mixed, 6x6 H2H keeper league (AVG, OPS, QS, K/9 + other standard stats), 15 keepers, pretty deep rosters. Based on our league and draft settings (details unimportant), I am likely set up for drafting either Ohtani or Jo Adell (my favorite prospect still available) as a keeper in a keep-forever league. Who are you taking?
Darius Austin: It's Ohtani for me. Adell is a terrific prospect but it's hard to compete with a guy who has already shown high-end major league ability on both sides of the ball. If Ohtani makes the two-way thing work over a full season, he's a first round pick, and he has two paths to premium value even if he doesn't.
Vic (Baltimore): In a 15 team 5 x 5 Keeper league, is there any value with Almora at Pick 400? He could be kept one last time in 2020. Or, better to drop and redraft around that same pick # with option to keep 2019-2022?
Darius Austin: I think you could definitely get him back at that pick, so that's the play for me. Unfortunately his profile is not very fantasy-friendly, but he can be a helpful batting average guy if that's what you need.
Phil (Earls house): Thanks for taking questions, Darius!
Who do you like the most this year? Laureano, JBJ, Kepler
Darius Austin: Happy to do it! I'm optimistic about the potential of all three. Kepler has the best approach, and Bradley could have a bit of everything in a stacked lineup, I'll take Laureano for the edge his speed gives him.
Vic (Baltimore): About what round in a 15 Team 5 x 5 do I need to target B Zimmer if I can't live without him. I drafted him 4 years ago in a 4yr keeper and now he's back in the pool. I rather go 5 rounds too early, then miss out.
Darius Austin: I still think he's a pretty late round pick, so if you really can't live without him, maybe 23/24? I wouldn't want to jump in before I was filling bench spots.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Who are some of your "breakout candidates" this year?
Darius Austin: Really hoping that Matt Strahm gets a chance in the Padres rotation as I think he has the arsenal to provide a ton of value. I'm a Jeff McNeil fan, if he gets the time (and the Mets seem to be making every effort to ensure that he does). I think that Moncada's price has dropped to the point where he's a more attractive pick too, and all the tools are there for him to be a huge power/speed contributor.
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!
Darius Austin: I'm not as high on Marquez as a lot of analysts seem to be because I think Coors can ruin even the best pitcher's outings a lot of the time, but $1 is too good to pass up. Taillon is probably the second, but $1 is also great value on Smith if you'd rather save the money for the auction.
Nico (OH): What are your thoughts on Nick Senzel? Starting CF from day one for Cincy?
Darius Austin: Great profile, can do a bit of everything category-wise and is going to be versatile positionally too. I'm still not sure I totally buy that they're going to have him on the roster to start the season, but if he's not I think he'll be up soon enough that it won't make much difference PT-wise.
Chi-town (Illinois): Why can’t we have nice things? Julio Urias should be in the Dodgers starting rotation?
Darius Austin: The Dodgers have so many great options and they'll keep doing what they've been doing the last few years, which is to be careful with all of them. Urias might have had the most cautious treatment of all so I wouldn't count on a lot of innings, but I do expect them to be very good, as I do for virtually all of their starters.
Jim (Florida): Which late rounder would provide the biggest fantasy impact in 2019? Paddack, Luzardo, or Strahm?
Darius Austin: Luzardo is the real impact guy for me, when considering both talent and opportunity. Paddack has all the hype right now but still needs to work on some things, particularly a third pitch, and he has pitched very little as a pro. Despite my interest in Strahm, he's not at Luzardo's talent level.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Strop closes for the Cubs to start the season, right?
Darius Austin: Yeah, I think it's Strop. A healthy Morrow (if we get that again) gets the job back, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Maddon hand opportunities to Cishek and perhaps Brach if he looks good too.
sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): Looking for the next Miles Mikolas...is Merrill Kelly my guy?
Darius Austin: The cost is basically nothing right now so I don't mind the shot in case he turns into something, but I don't think the command is close.
cracker73 (Florida): What is your opinion of Madrigal as a dynasty prospect? What is his upside? A possible superstar or just a "good" player?
Darius Austin: I'm not going to go as far as superstar. The power's not there for him to be a true five-category guy, so he'd need to max out on the batting average and speed to be at the top of drafts in a few years.
Vic (Baltimore): Taillon, Greinke, Berrios. Please rank.
Darius Austin: Greinke, Taillon, Berrios for me. I'm a long-time Greinke fan, and I'll take his track record of being an ace over the guys we hope can make it for now. Close group, though, and if chasing upside I'd be inclined towards the others, especially in a shallower league!
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Who are your favorite rookie pitchers this year? (Meaning...favorites to make an impact)
Darius Austin: Luzardo, as per the previous answer, is a clear one. The fast-moving Jose Suarez on the Angels is a less obvious name, and if their injury fortune is as poor as previous seasons, he could get a decent look. There are a ton of Braves who could be there - I kinda like Bryse Wilson to carve out a spot.
sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): Who lands the #5 starter job in Milw..Burns, Woodruff or Peralta or TBD?
Darius Austin: I'll take Burns. They all have a good shot, I think he has the highest upside, so I'm probably projecting my own interests a little.
sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): Is Pete Alonso someone who makes a good platoon partner for Joey Votto? Would you ever platoon for Votto?
Darius Austin: I would not. Votto is still an excellent career hitter against lefties and if Alonso ends up being better than him in those spots this year, it will probably be because Votto does not rebound overall.
rydergreen (Your Mom's Basement): Hootie - how old were you when CC Sabathia first entered MLB?
Darius Austin: 16. I can't decide if that makes me feel old or not.
Jack (San Diego): Francisco Mejia will get plenty of AB’s to be serviceable in fantasyland, correct?
Darius Austin: 'Serviceable' for catchers has reached a tremendously low point, so yes. I think Hedges is too good defensively for Mejia to get a big chunk of playing time, though.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Love what the Brewers are trying at 2B. With record strikeouts, tons of shifting, and hitters going to the launch angle strategy, you can make the argument that infield defense is less important than any time in recent memory. Perfect opportunity for the Brewers to experiment at second.
Darius Austin: We've talked a lot about the effects of positional trends, and how multi-position eligibility is now less valuable because so many players are getting it. Teams are definitely becoming less tied to the idea of fixed positions to create more flexibility with their hitters, which is also a necessity if they want to carry as many pitchers as possible.
sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): Keep Godley or Stripling...final keeper.
Darius Austin: Stripling. May well pitch fewer innings, but they'll be higher-quality ones.
Vic (Baltimore): I could ask fantasy baseball questions all day. How many is too many for one chat? 4?
Darius Austin: I haven't been told that there's a limit!
darielsantana (santo domingo): Eloy is just striking out a lot. Any concern?
Darius Austin: Not for me. It'd need to be over a much larger sample in meaningful games for me to worry, and he was excellent at making contact at the higher levels of the minors.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): Does Reynoldo Lopez take a big step forward for the Chi Sox this year?
Darius Austin: I'm not a big fan. Still too much inconsistency with the control for me to buy in.
Buddy (Peoria, IL): By the way, love the BP chats! Please keep them going. In fact, you guys can even add some more to the schedule...if possible of course.
Darius Austin: Glad you're enjoying them! We're trying to do as many as possible, and there are two more this week alone.
Dusty (Colorado): Darius, my main man. Give me the scoop (ACTUALLY MAKE IT TWO SCOOPS), on Wander Javier. Thank you for your amazing and positive take in advance.
Darius Austin: Salted caramel and straciatella (the best flavors).
Darius Austin: That'll do it everyone, thanks for all the questions and good luck with the season!