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Chat: Darius Austin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday July 22, 2019 3:00 PM ET chat session with Darius Austin.


Darius Austin is an author on Baseball Prospectus' fantasy team.

Darius Austin: Hey everyone, the Tigers have signed Edwin Jackson so you know the market is heating up. Let's see if we can get a trade during this chat.

Craig (Chicago): Do you think W Merrifield is more likely to be traded by Aug 1 or in the upcoming offseason?

Darius Austin: Lot of questions from you today, Craig, I'll do my best to get to all of them! The Royals seem to be asking for an absolute ton for Merrifield and also have fairly recently seemed to be in some denial about where they are in the competitive cycle, so I'm going to say it'll be the offseason without a big shift in their thinking.

Vic (Baltimore): Tell me Garrett Hampson wasn't talked up too much this season and that next year he bat .290 with 30+ SBs. Earlier in the Spring, it was consensus.

Darius Austin: I don't own Hampson anywhere, so I might be the wrong person to go to for optimism. That's more to do with how little I trust the Rockies to play their young/best players regularly than Hampson himself. While I do think next year will be better for Hampson, Ryan McMahon isn't going anywhere (even if he should based on how he's hitting) and the Rockies kinda have their other infield spots locked up for 2020. 30 steals is aggressive for almost anyone in this environment too, let alone someone who might have to battle for playing time.

Ferns (PA): Hi Darius. In one of my dynasty leagues, I'm in my fourth year of a rebuild but am finally on the brink of making the playoffs. I'm considering pushing all my chips in and trading for Steven Matz. Does this seem like a good plan to get me over the hump?

Darius Austin: It depends what you mean by 'all my chips' and exactly how deep we're talking, but Matz doesn't seem like a league-winning move. I think he's fine and has certainly flashed more upside than this over the years, which aren't exactly the most ringing endorsements. He *seems* healthy, at least, which has been a big problem, but I wouldn't use all my chips on some mediocre innings and a decent number of strikeouts.

stevegoz (Chicago): What are the Padres doing with Baez and Morejon? Both up from AA and neither has ever pitched in games with the new ball before. Any chance either of them sticks this year? Both relievers long term?

Darius Austin: The Padres are on a mission to call up more or less every pitching prospect they have over the course of this season, it seems. I don't think they'll stick as in they're on the roster for the rest of the year. They might come up and down a couple of times. Baez is more likely to be a reliever in my book. Morejon has the three plus pitches and some pretty high-end upside - both real life and fantasy - so it's down to the durability going forwards.

This guy (Over Here): I LOVE Ronald Acuna, Jr. Do I trade him for Walker Buehler, Gerrit Cole, Javy Baez, and this other team's 1st round pick (would be 2nd overall currently). I'm currently in 1st, its a keep 12 forever league. I think I can win without this deal but doing it would all but wrap it up for me. Pull the trigger and give up my beloved?

Darius Austin: He's such a fun guy to own but this is a massive haul even without the consideration of it pushing you over the edge in the league. You're getting two aces, another mesmerizing player in Baez, AND a great pick. This is too much value to turn down, even for someone like Acuna.

Craig ( Chicago): Which pitcher is best as starter for remainder of season - C Menez, A Mills, A Morejon, A Voth?

Darius Austin: Seems like a good time to get to a second Craig question as I just talked about Morejon. I think the Padres will be too unpredictable with him to rely on for this season, Mills won't have a spot when Hamels returns (which seems likely to be fairly soon), and Voth is hurt right now with no certain spot to come back to. That leaves Menez, who looked strong in his debut and appears to have a spot cleared for him with Derek Holland's DFA. I'll take him, the great park, and whatever bizarro magic is going on in San Francisco right now.

James (Delaware): I've got a buddy who is an amateur scout and he said recently he was told by a pro scout that Kris Bubic "has the potential to be an elite pitching prospect." Does this fit your reports or whatever reports you may have seen on him?

Darius Austin: The stock is certainly on the rise. Ben Spanier wrote him up for today's Ten Pack so I'd recommend checking that out: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/51740/monday-morning-ten-pack-july-22-2019/. I wouldn't get too excited about the numbers below High-A, as he's a college guy you'd expect to handle the level fairly well, and I don't think we're at elite yet. The stuff is playing up nicely at High-A, though, and he'll be moving up lists rapidly if he keeps this up.

Kkelly (IL): Any idea when players such as Jasson Dominguez typically get added to player pools on sites such as CBS? Missed out on Luis Robert and don’t want it to happen again. Thank you

Darius Austin: I have not seen a particularly consistent standard applied, myself. Sometimes this happens when the players actually start accumulating stats with affiliates but on plenty of occasions I've seen relatively well-regarded prospects not get added to systems until seemingly random points. My recommendation would be to introduce a league rule where any guys signed after a certain date - e.g. the draft onwards - aren't eligible to be picked up until your league's draft in the offseason.

Stan (Stl): Diowill Burgos is fourth in all of the minor leagues in WRC+. He's just 18 in rookie ball and every report I've seen on him has been glowing. How soon before he starts getting notoriety?

Darius Austin: Probably not all that long if he keeps this up following his promotion. It's still just 161 PA of good performance this year, though, and I don't think anyone on the prospect team has had a chance to see him yet. Once people start to get looks at him at higher levels then we'll learn more.

Jeff (Miami): For all the talk of Gavin Lux lately, doesn't Isan Diaz seem like the premiere shortstop prospect for the rest of 2019, at least?

Darius Austin: For contributing over the final two months? He seems like a pretty good bet. The Marlins have no reason not to play him and even if Lux does get the call, the Dodgers have so many pieces he'll be tough to rely on in fantasy. Luis Urias has got the jump on Diaz already, though, and he could easily be the most valuable the rest of the way.

Leon (Los Angeles): Alek Thomas: hitting machine or more of a hitting alien, sent from another planet to destroy baseballs?

Darius Austin: All I can think of now is Mark McGwire distracting everyone from MLB's data-gathering on that Simpsons episode by hitting a huge dinger.

Chris (Houston): Fun with small sample sizes: Jose Urquidy has an 11.77 K/9, 0.69 (!!!) BB/9, 2.84 FIP and 2.65 xFIP. Again, small sample sizes, but this is exciting stuff, yeah?

Darius Austin: He might be the most fascinating pop-up guy this season. It's hard to know exactly where he'll go from here because no-one really saw him coming, but he's missing bats and if there's any organization you'd trust to get the most out of him at this point, it's the Astros.

Ricky Bobby (In 1st place): Looks like MLB will follow in the footsteps of NASCAR when it comes to advertising. I can't wait to see my favorite player rocking a Vagisil patch on his jersey and a Trojan sticker on his bat.

Darius Austin: There's a Short Relief piece in here for sure. Send in your best/most ludicrous jersey advertising suggestions, everyone.

beringstorm (Tacoma): Any of the following worht a flyer in deep dynasty leage:Ryan Borucki, Jose Urquidy, Rogelio Armenteros?

Darius Austin: Hey, more Jose Urquidy! He's the one I'm most interested in. I think Armenteros is going to be a multi-inning/swingman type. Borucki has shown a little in the past and I think he can be reliable if he gets healthy but not exciting - the stuff just isn't there for that.

Parts and Gleyber (Auto Shop): How fast could guys like Valera and Kristian Robinson move up the ladder? Does either one have the skills to possibly end the 2020 season in AA?

Darius Austin: They're both extremely talented so I wouldn't rule it out. They're also just 18 so don't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. I think Valera's hit tool might get him there faster.

Mr. Fister (Arlington): When Dayton Moore says he expects a "quick rebuild" is it because HE is stupid or because he thinks the FANS are stupid?

Darius Austin: Both? He probably doesn't want to say that it's going to take a long time even if he believes that it will deep down, and the Royals have had what look like some fairly productive drafts. If he's trying to convince himself or anyone else that Bobby Witt is going to be in the majors while Whit Merrifield's still around, I'm not sure what to tell him.

AJ (Boston): Can Jesus Aguilar bounce back? His batted ball data (e.g. Hard Hit%, FB%) and plate discipline look encouraging (and better than E5, yet the results (and playing time arent there). Move on to E5, despite the warning signs in his peripherals?

Darius Austin: I think he's much better than his overall line but the issue now is the platoon with Thames. Thames has cooled off recently, so maybe Aguilar can work his way back into full time, but I think it's more likely that the Brewers continue to split that time and there isn't anywhere else he can play. Encarnacion's skills always seem to be eroding to me right before he comes out and has one of those 12-homer months. He's in arguably the best lineup in baseball and doesn't even need to hit all that well to return a ton more value than Aguilar right now.

Elton (Pacific Northwest): My best hitters in a dynasty league are Mike Moustakas and Trey Mancini. My top scoring pitchers are Joe Musgrove and Michael Pineda. Am I doomed?

Darius Austin: Hi Elton - or whichever of your leaguemates this is! The good news about dynasty leagues is that you're never doomed the way you are in a redraft. It might take a while to rebuild but Moustakas and Mancini have been really good this year and Musgrove is starting to tap into some of that potential. Flip some of those guys to contenders to rebuild the system, draft well, and don't worry about being doomed.

Craig (Chicago ): Are the Padres just taking a conservative approach with D Lamet’s return and limiting him to 4-5 IP per start, or is this likely who he is for the remainder of this season?

Darius Austin: I think they will let him throw more pitches than this by the end of the year. I also think he's basically a two-pitch guy who may well end up in relief and probably will be better-served by not facing the third time through the order anyway, so 5 IP might be all you'll get in many of his starts regardless.

rays (bay): Joe Ryan is averaging about 21 batters and 5.1 IP per start with phenomenal results -- is he still just a solid two-pitch guy with arm speed?

Darius Austin: I haven't heard anything to the contrary. He can't be doing any more than he already is to raise his stock, but the fastball is low-nineties at best and from what I've heard, the secondaries aren't electric. He is 23 at High-A right now, so you'd also expect a polished pitcher to dominate such competition.

Trade (Will Smith): How likely is Sam Selman to be promoted when Will Smith is traded and do you see late-inning potential in him or is he a 6-7 inning guy?

Darius Austin: Ah, back to the Bizarro-Giants. Selman is one step away and has handled the MLB ball extremely well at Triple-A. I don't see why they wouldn't give him a shot if the space in the bullpen opens up. Whether it will or not is a different question - it's easy to make the case that Smith, Watson and Dyson could all be gone by the deadline and the whole bullpen hierarchy will be open for anyone to seize a job, but that case isn't as easy to make as it was a month ago.

Vic (Baltimore): Watching a Giolito start last month, they showed a side by side of his delivery from 2018 to 2019. There was a marked change. Is this the primary reason for his complete rise in effectiveness?

Darius Austin: Yes, I think the delivery alteration has made a huge difference, as well as an overhaul of his approach. Collin Whitchurch did a good job covering this last month: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/51184/prospectus-feature-lucas-giolito-turns-a-negative-into-a-positive/

boston (usa): Is Nick Decker making a case to move up the rankings in the Red Sox' system?

Darius Austin: Yes, although this is probably damning with faint praise given the Red Sox system. It's going to be a very, very long time before we see Decker in the majors, not least because of the wrist injury he suffered last year. He's starting to show some upside in short season ball, which is encouraging after his slow start.

Craig (Chicago): Just as J Chacin seemed to be turning the corner, he gets lit up by ARI on Friday. What can be expected from him for the remainder of this season?

Darius Austin: Seems appropriate to finish up with a Craig question. He is getting victimized by home runs and has apparently lost his ability to keep the ball on the ground, which is particularly unfortunate given that he doesn't miss many bats either. In Miller Park, with this iteration of the baseball, I don't hold out much hope you'll be able to trust him in any particular start. He's more of a cross your fingers and hope play if you're desperate.

Darius Austin: That'll do it for today. Thanks for joining me, and keep working on those jersey advertising ideas.

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