Jesse Roche is a member of the fantasy team at Baseball Prospectus.
Jesse Roche: TGIF? It is a grim day following Cancellation Thursday in which every single sports organization cancelled, postponed, or suspended operations indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we are all disappointed, these decisions are in the best interest of public health and the most vulnerable members of our society. I am a father of a one-year old son and, while it appears young children are less at risk, I still fear for his health and that of my parents, who are most certainly at risk. Please stay safe out there and take all necessary precautions. That said, maybe now, more than most times, we need and crave the escape provided by sports. Hopefully, these chats and our continuing content at Baseball Prospectus can help fill that void for you, our loyal readers. So, time for your questions . . .
Johnny (Atlanta): Who is the better prospect in Atlantaâ€™s system: Pache or waters?
Jesse Roche: In real-life, Pache. He is an absolutely elite defensive centerfielder with enough hitting ability and burgeoning power to provide plenty of wins above replacement year to year.
In fantasy, Waters. While his right-handed swing is behind his left, he profiles as a potential plus hitter with gap-to-gap power and plus speed. At peak, I would expect something along the lines of .290/20/20. This does not detract from Pache, who is an excellent fantasy prospect himself, but I have doubts regarding the efficacy of his hit tool and ability to steal bases. I do buy into 20+ home run power, though.
Brent (Tacoma): Who are your top 10 prospects for 2021 first year player drafts? So basically, the guys that will be taken in this year's MLB draft. Craig told me to ask you.
Jesse Roche: 1) Spencer Torkelson, 1B, ASU
2) Austin Martin, IF, Vanderbilt
3) Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
4) Tetsuto Yamada, 2B, NPB (assuming posting)
5) Seiya Suzuki, OF, NPB (assuming posting)
6) Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
7) Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
8) Blaze Jordan, 1B/3B, HS
9) Zac Veen, OF, HS
10) Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Others of note include the Cuban defectors (Pedro Leon and Oscar Colas); Jordan Walker, 3B, HS; Austin Hendrick, OF, HS; Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas; Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M; and even Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M.
Rob (Alaska): Hey, thanks for the chat. What kind of hope do you hold out for Nomar Mazara as he approaches his age 25 season? Is the ceiling we once drooled over still there? Do injuries explain the last year or two?
Jesse Roche: I still have hope for Mazara, though his progress has stagnated, he struggles against left-handed pitching, he is a defensive liability, and he still puts too many balls on the ground (many straight into the shift). He switched teams by trade, moving to a loaded White Sox lineup, which could be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that a change of scenery could unlock his potential, as evidenced by flashes of his massive power—dude hit a 505-foot home run last year. A curse in that he could fall into a platoon or worse with the Sox. Mazara did perform well this spring and he still has upside to easily put together a .270+/30+ campaign. I mean, the guy does not even turn 25 until April 26th! I still have faith.
Mike wilson (Bloomington): Albert Pujols and Brandon Wood. Why did Pujols go undrafted by 29 teams? What was wrong with him? Brandon Wood? Why wasn't it obvious he could not hit a breaking ball until he hit the majors? If his own coaching staff knew this, why didn't the Angel's trade him to another team?
Jesse Roche: Doesn't every player go undrafted by 29 teams? This article details his fall in the draft very well: https://tht.fangraphs.com/albert-pujols-revisiting-the-early-years/
Here is a quote: "As for the question of why he fell to the 13th round; well, in 2006, Red Sox scout Ernie Jacobs said: First of all, his body wasn’t great back then. Plus, people weren’t sure how old the guy was. You assumed what he told you was true, but he wasn’t a great body, and his swing was a little long. I think what happened was, this was my first full year as a scout, and Albert didn’t make the airplane talk (from fly-in cross-checking scouts). There were a couple of scouts who liked him, who thought he could go high, but there were a lot that didn’t."
Ultimately, he got lost as a likely 1B-only R-R bat playing for a Midwest community college.
Wood never managed to find a workable swing that reduced his swing-and-miss and never was a very good defender. A bat-first infielder with hit tool issues sometimes fails. It happens.
Dynastic (Dynasty Land): Hi Jesse! Thanks for hosting the chat and all of your work! Do you have a date for when your top 200 prospects and top 600(?) dynasty ranks will be posted?
Relatedly, would you prefer Alexfri Planez or Daz Cameron?
Jesse Roche: I am posting my top-500 dynasty prospects on March 19th. Throughout the season, I will update the Top 250. Meanwhile, the Top-500 Dynasty League Players will be arriving shortly as well.
Whether I prefer Planez or Cameron depends on league depth. In standard (14-16 teams, and even up to 20) or shallow formats, I prefer Planez, who has immense power upside with a touch of speed. His hit tool is highly questionable, though. In deep formats (24-30 teams), however, I prefer Cameron who should provide borderline-average production (.250/15/15) as soon as 2021. He has fallen through the cracks for many due to his poor showing last year.
Ajax (Boston): How much are we discounting someone like Aaron Judge in a redraft league? Sounds like the season will be at least a month delayed, but he also has the risk of going for surgery. If he does get surgery, how long would he be out for?
Jesse Roche: Sorry, lost Internet for a few minutes.
Judge was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his first rib. He is set to undergo a CT scan next week to determine if surgery is necessary. He says he is feeling great and ahead of schedule.
I am not a medical professional so take this with a grain of salt, but, absent surgery, it sounds like it should take him 3 weeks to recovery, which means he likely will now be ready for Opening Day. If you look up recovery time for rib removal surgery, you get a bunch of plastic surgery links (I guess that is a thing) that claim recovery time is six weeks. I would wager if he undergoes surgery, he would be out until May/June.
The suspended season clouds his redraft valuation (which had fallen around 100 overall), but, obviously, it is a good thing for his value. I would still ding him some, but I would definitely consider him in the 60-75 range, if not earlier.
spotted cow (Rockford): I was wondering if, because of a shortened schedule, you had any tactics or perhaps changes to your draft plans in roto leagues. I.e. less games to pitch so go heavier on stud sps, or would you rather beef up your offense because effective streaming wont eat into innings limitations?
Jesse Roche: Great question, and I will go into more detail regarding the impact of the suspended season next week on the debut episode of the Five-Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast presented by Fantrax.
First, we do not necessarily know it will be a shortened season, though it is very likely. If it is, I am less likely to target prospects in redraft formats as what was previously a potential May/June promotion now may be a July/August promotion, and just two months of production is not worth a stash in most cases.
The delay benefits currently injured players like Justin Verlander, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Clevinger, Aaron Judge, and the like. I would take more shots at guys like that who may still have the injury stigma depressing their value.
It does also benefit players on innings limits like Jesus Luzardo, and it may actually mean we see top pitching prospects like MacKenzie Gore earlier in the season than anticipated.
I imagine most roto leagues will adjust innings limitations to account for a shortened season, or at least they should.
Buff (Colorado): Cole Tucker has had a nice Spring. Good post-hype buy? I know the projections donâ€™t say so yet, but does he have a shot at semi-regular PT this year?
Jesse Roche: I was never in on Cole Tucker. He does not have a ton of raw power to start with and he does not elevate (6.6 average launch angle). His swing is designed to generate low and hard contact. Tucker does have good speed and a decent hit tool. I think he could hit .270/10/20 at peak, give or take. Not sexy, but serviceable. As for 2020, I am not confident he sees a lot of playing time absent an injury or trade. He has 80 days service time already so I would anticipate the Pirates avoid accrual of a full year (172 days) this year. I expect Tucker to start the year in Triple-A and maybe arrive in July/August depending on how the schedule ends up shaking out.
Old timer (Raleigh NC): Has MLB indicated when the 26 man rosters will be set in light of the minimum two week season opening postponement?
Jesse Roche: Not that I am aware of. Opening Day is TBD and the two-week suspension is more akin to an indefinite suspension until further notice.
bob (pa): Can Tommy Edman maybe develop into Trae Turner light? I really like his speed/power combo and his position versatility as well------looks like he'll probably get 500+ ab's this year, and if he does I would expect to see a line something like 20/25/.290-----do you agree with that or no? thx
Jesse Roche: No. Edman lacks Turner's power. I am firmly of the opinion that his power surge was an outlier, aided by the happy-fun ball. That said, Edman has some pop, enough to top double-digit home runs, and good speed, though not remotely close to Turner-level wheels. It appears he will receive around 450-500 plate appearances (not ABs) in a super-utility role pre-suspended season. Prorating his production to 600 PAs, I think he could hit .280/15/20, but that type of performance is an 80th percentile outcome according to PECOTA and I do not feel confident in that projection whatsoever.
Jesse Roche: That is it for me. Thanks for the questions! We at Baseball Prospectus will continue to churn out content to get you all through the tough sports-less times ahead. Of course, sports are a diversion from what really matters and that is staying safe and getting through the coming days, weeks, and months. Wash your hands, sanitize, and be mindful of others. I wish you all good health and the best of luck!