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Chat: Jesse Roche

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday March 27, 2020 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jesse Roche.


Jesse Roche is a member of the Fantasy Team at Baseball Prospectus.

Jesse Roche: Today is Friday? Days are beginning to blend together with my child home from daycare as we do our best to social distance. I hope everyone is well, staying safe and healthy, and making the best of a baseball-less Opening Day. Now, to the questions!

Concerned chatter (Patiently waiting): Are we gonna do this or what?

Jesse Roche: It is happening! Sorry for the delayed start. (A common sentiment in the baseball world these days.)

Brice (Baltimore): My morale has never been lower than it is now.

Jesse Roche: At least the O's are less likely to set a record for most losses . . .

Pete (Providence): One unsettled job competition is 2B in Oakland. I've picked up Franklin Barreto in a few places, thinking he might earn a full-time job and make good on his pedigree (he's still just 23 or 24). What do you think of his prospects for 2020? And in a dynasty, would you rather take a flier on him or someone with a safer job like Isan Diaz?

Jesse Roche: Barreto likely receives plenty of playing time this year, but he is far from guaranteed a full-time job, especially with Tony Kemp and Jorge Mateo potentially siphoning off plate appearances. I do like Barreto as a late flier in most formats. He has plus raw power and speed. Just unclear if he will ever make enough contact to stay afloat. Barreto is still young, though (just turned 24 in February), so I am holding out some hope for fantasy relevance as soon as 2020.

That said, I do prefer Isan Diaz who has a more secure role (granted, it comes with a short leash) and plenty of upside himself (think .260/25/5).

spotted cow (Rockford ): Is chris sale worth 17 dollars out of 260 in a keeper league next year? Keep 8 year to year. My offense pending, injuries, will be very good. Otherwise I cut him and someone else gets him for 10-12 next year if they sign him off waivers or pick up in free agency. Draft occurred pre injury and I thought he was worth the discount gamble.....

Jesse Roche: Sale likely does not return to action until mid-season 2021. Maybe he logs 100 innings (maybe). I do not think he is worth $17 for 100 innings. For example, he was only worth about $8 last year in 147 innings. Even if his ERA was 3.00 last year, he would have only been worth about $15. I think it is unrealistic to expect a sub-3.00 ERA and ~150 innings from Sale in 2021.

Craig (Chicago): In 5 of his 7 seasons, Alex Wood has had a sub-3.90 ERA with 27+ GS. Do you expect Wood to bounce back to the pitcher he has been prior to his disaster season last year?

Jesse Roche: Yes and no. I do not expect Wood to receive 27+ GS, even before the delay. There are just too many arms in that Dodgers organization for the 5-starter to come close to 27 GS. Now, I could see him logging 15-20 GS and around 120-140 innings between the rotation and bullpen with a sub-4.00 ERA. I would be cautious to expect much more than that.

Full size man turd (In the litter box): How does Jack Leiter stack up against the top pitchers from this draft (Lacy, Hancock)?

Jesse Roche: Leiter is a college freshman RHP at Vanderbilt, who impressed in just 4 games in the abbreviated season. He is the son of former major league pitcher Al Leiter. Last year, he was a projected first-round pick, but advised teams prior to the draft that he would honor his commitment to Vanderbilt.

The BP prospect team is quite high on Leiter. He is as polished as a teenage arm comes, with advanced pitchability and excellent command. While he lacks prototypical size, he possesses a deep, four-pitch arsenal, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball (T96), a potential plus (or better), knee-buckling curveball, and a sharp, mid-80s slider. Leiter is neck-and-neck with his teammate Kumar Rocker as the top arm in the 2021 draft class.

I do prefer Hancock and Lacy to Leiter given proximity and pure stuff, though Leiter's stuff has taken a step forward and his stuff/command profile rivals Hancock and Lacy long-term.

Bubic Hair (In your soup): Do you see Mize and Skubal both ending the 2020 season in the Tigers rotation?

Jesse Roche: Maybe, but I would not expect either Casey Mize or Tarik Skubal to debut in 2020, especially given the shortened season. Further, the Tigers will not be in contention and any promotion will start the service time clock. In short, it would not be a wise move to call either arm up in 2020, but it is still possible.

Parts and Gleyber (The shop): Please rank these teenage shortstops from a dynasty perspective....Noelvi Marte, Orelvis Martinez, Maximo Acosta, Javier Garcia Medina Santa Maria Francisco Estrella. Thanks!

Jesse Roche: (1) Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA
(2) Orelvis Martinez, SS, TOR
(3) Maximo Acosta, SS, TEX
(4) Francisco Estrella, SS, SF

Mr. Fister (Arlington): Where would the top two pitchers from the 2020 draft (Lacy and Hancock) and the top two pitchers from the 2021 draft (Leiter and Rocker) rank on the top 100 if they were eligible? Thanks!

Jesse Roche: Without graduations, only 2 crack the dynasty top 100:

52) Emerson Hancock
97) Kumar Rocker

Both Lacy and Leiter would fall in the 101-150 range.

Tentin Quarantino (In my TP castle): Just how special is Zac Veen, and if you were a GM, would you take him over a more toolsy guy like Austin Hendrick?

Jesse Roche: Veen is a five-tool prep outfielder who enjoyed a strong spring before everything was canceled. Tall (6-foot-4), lanky, and athletic, he is a classic, projectable outfielder in the mold of Kyle Tucker. Already, he flashes substantial raw power with impressive exit velocities. It is easy to envision Veen adding weight and muscle without sacrificing fluidity or speed. Further, he has a quick, smooth swing and balanced, all-fields approach. He also has plus speed underway and profiles well at all three outfield positions. If you think he retains his speed as he continues to fill out and you think he can fit in CF, then I prefer him to Hendrick. However, Hendrick has massive raw power and is a prototypical slugging RF prospect. I think Veen is actually a safer bet, though Hendrick has more upside if everything clicks. I tend to side on caution for real-life so I would take Veen who has plenty of upside and potentially more all-around utility.

Yanni (Playing with my mustache): Does Edward Cabrera have enough of a third pitch to remain a starter?

Jesse Roche: Yes. Cabrera's change-up has taken a big step forward and flashes above-average with improved velocity separation. The main question is whether his command will continue to trend in the right direction for him to profile in the rotation. At the moment, it is still borderline. Both his curveball and change-up could also use some refinement (as with nearly every pitcher).

Jim Bob Cooter (Actually a real name): How close to major league ready is Jordan Balazovic?

Jesse Roche: Not very close. I expect Balazovic to spend the year in Double-A with a shot at a debut in 2021. His secondaries need a lot of work, as he chiefly relied on a mid-90s fastball and solid command to cut through A-ball. His breaking ball is solid, but more average than anything above. Balazovic does a good job of manipulating its shape to give hitters different looks. His change-up, on the other hand, is still a work in progress, and likely a necessary piece of the puzzle if he wants to profile as a starter long-term.

David Carradine (Asphyxiating in a closet): Is Oscar Colas a cartoon character or a real baseball player? How good is this guy?

Jesse Roche: Oscar Colas is an IFA from Cuba who played well in Nippon Professional Baseball minors (Western League) last year. He is a physically mature left-handed slugger/thrower with plus raw power and a big arm that hits the mid-90s. It is unclear how his hit tool plays, but, at best, he likely is a 5/6 player with no speed and some two-way intrigue. Colas is interesting, but far from a top 100 dynasty prospect at the moment.

Gary Busey's Teeth (Lined up like urinals): Could you see any specific leagues in the minors being affected more than others with regards to season length, cancellations, COVID-19 hot spots, etc...?

Jesse Roche: Yes. With news the MLB draft may only be 5 rounds long, teams presumably will struggle to fill short-season rosters. Prior to the delay, there were plans to eliminate 42 teams across several leagues. I would not be surprised if several short-season teams are eliminated this year.

Mr. Fister (Arlington): So why exactly are teams currently sending guys to the minors who would appear to factor into the opening day roster? Civale, Plesac, and Karinchak come to mind...

Jesse Roche: It is likely just a procedural move to retain players with 0 options remaining on the roster. It is not like Opening Day is happening any time soon. I expect all three to be back on the active roster at least shortly into the season.

Pizza Shuttle (Lawrence): How does the Yankee rotation shake out? Do Johnny Lasagna and Jordan Montgomery both make the cut for at least the time being?

Jesse Roche: I do not think Loaisiga makes the rotation. At this point, it appears James Paxton should return by the start of the season. However, I expect Montgomery to make the rotation. Aaron Boone has confirmed as much re: Montgomery.

Seasoned shredded chicken (In a twinkie as a filling substitute): When selecting minor leaguers in a dynasty league farm draft, how much do you consider park factor? Is it forgivable that I refuse to draft JJ Bleday because he's a Marlin? Or that I generally don't draft hitters in SF or Seattle unless I view them to be a generational talent? Am I crazy?

Jesse Roche: I consider it some, but it certainly does not prevent me from drafting any player (except Rockies' pitchers). Park factors often change year-to-year and prospects get traded. Plus, you can always trade these players as they approach the majors if you are concerned about park factors.

Cornpop (Des moines): This our league's first year of doing a "slow draft" online for our prospects. Is it any surprise, that the guy who always takes the most time with his picks but rushes everyone else in our live drafts, also does so right now?

Jesse Roche: No. If anything, I am not surprised at owners taking even more time in drafts these days given all the competing demands on our time, especially for parents with children home from school/daycare.

Steve Balogna (Gettysburg): How do feel about having free agent pickups in dynasty being salaried, tradeable, and keepable? I absolutely hate the idea, but it seems as though the majority of owners in my league want to go that route. To me it allows unlimited do-overs for owners who don't auction well.

Jesse Roche: Waivers/free agency is an important part of any league, even dynasty leagues. I fully support free agent pickups being salaried, tradeable, and keepable. The only free agency restriction I favor in dynasty leagues is prohibiting adding prospects until they debut. No limitation on prospect adds dilutes late-round draft pick value.

Biscuits and Gravy (In my belly): Who are your favorites for AL and NL MVP, and for AL and NL ROY in this most likely abbreviated season?

Jesse Roche: AL MVP: Mike Trout (who else)
AL ROY: Jesus Luzardo
NL MVP: Juan Soto
NL ROY: Gavin Lux

Different Alias (Same Guy): Who you got if you can only pick one...Spencer Howard or Tarik Skubal?

Jesse Roche: Howard. His stuff is simply better and he likely arrives early in 2020, though I do really like Skubal.

NoBigLeagueChooForYu (Atlanta ): With second base as shallow as it is at the top, why is Isan Diaz not getting more love as a sleeper for decent fantasy production this year? Thoughts?

Jesse Roche: It is difficult to get behind a player who had a 63 DRC+ in his first 201 plate appearances. I still have faith and I think he could produce a .240/20/5 pace this year with upside for more long term.

Monty (Chapel Hill): I know all will be revealed soon in your Dynasty list, but I’m in a bit of a conundrum with Griffin Canning in a keeper league. Considering the current state of his elbow but also his secure rotation spot, where would you place Canning among this batch of pitching prospects?

Jesse Roche: We have Canning between Ian Anderson (69) and Daulton Varsho (70), though I would not oppose ranking him behind, say, Daniel Lynch (83). The elbow injury is concerning, but we are withholding a more significant drop at the moment.

Chet (Across the Pond): Is Andres Munoz worth a late keeper slot after this surprise TJ? Does this derail his saves ascension by much?

Jesse Roche: It depends on how deep your league is, but I think you can cross Munoz off most draft boards. I already dropped him in two leagues. I am still holding him in Prospects 365's Expert League (1200 players rostered). I do not think it derails his saves ascension too much. Yates has the job for 2020 (absent a trade, which is possible) and Pagan is around as well. Munoz likely was not going to see meaningful save opportunities until 2021 anyway. At this point, he likely is out until midseason 2021, though maybe a touch earlier as relievers need a little less time to fully recover from TJS.

Tim (Chicaca!): Are you a fan of more teams or fewer teams making the playoffs in fantasy? I'm in a 12 team dynasty with three divisions and currently our playoffs include each division winner and one wild card for four teams total. There have been discussion about expanding the playoffs to six teams, with two byes. I don't know how I feel about half of the teams making the playoffs. It would keep more teams in the race, but would also water down the playoffs in my opinion, what say you?

Jesse Roche: I am against more teams making the playoffs in fantasy. Head-to-head is a crapshoot in the playoffs and regular season success should be rewarded. I am also against 6 playoff teams in 12-team fantasy football leagues. Maybe I'm just a scrooge, though.

Heartbreak Kid (Sweet Chin Music): Where do you stand on the issue of players policing the game via HBP? Part of the game or no place in the game for it? Makes baseball more fun to watch or care more for player safety?

Jesse Roche: I am against it. Player safety takes priority always. It is a relic of a foregone era.

Missionary Man (Tajikistan): Will Mike Trout stay healthy enough to retire as the undisputed greatest baseball player to ever live?

Jesse Roche: For the sake of baseball, I hope so.

Senator Ron (Whipping my caucus): If you could choose 3 guys outside of the fantasy top 200 who you think have the best chance of contributing like a top 50 player by the end of the year, who would you take?

Jesse Roche: I assume you are talking redraft (and not prospects). I think certain prospects drafted 200+ could arrive and produce like a top-50 player (Adell & Gore). Others include a healthy Andrew McCutchen, Josh James, Dylan Cease, Willy Adames, Trent Grisham, and Gregory Polanco.

Rocko (Down Under): Thinking about trading Judge in a points league, my team is competing but I always keep an eye on talent acquisition when possible. Is Luzardo and Luciano enough of a return?

Jesse Roche: It is close, but I think it is fair in points.

Dr. Rusty Nuts (Operating on your mom): Best category to punt? Best category to stockpile?

Jesse Roche: I do not punt categories in roto leagues, but, if I had to punt one, I'd punt saves. You can always find saves on waivers during the season. The other category that stands out to punt is steals, but steals can be trickier to find during the season. Meanwhile, in head-to-head, you can try punting wins and strikeouts if there is no weekly innings or GS minimum. As for stockpiling, it never hurts to target home runs, which also generate runs and RBIs.

Big Time Timmy Jim (Let Timmy Smoke!): Is there a major league comp out there for a pitcher like Asa Lacy?

Jesse Roche: Comps are dangerous, but maybe Blake Snell as a 6-foot-4 LHP with four pitches, three potential plus, and shaky command.

brad (NJ): Jesse, from a dynasty fantasy baseball standpoint, who gains and loses the most value, I assume older SP like Verlander, Morton, Scherzer, Greinke lose the most value, who gains value, I assume the youngest spects like 16/17 year olds since they are one year closer to MLB

Jesse Roche: Players like Charlie Morton, Nelson Cruz, and Edwin Encarnacion are hurt the most from a shortened season as this may be their final hurrah. I do not think any prospects really benefit as the delay equates to a developmental delay as well. If anyone benefits, it is the high-end draft prospects who likely begin their career about the same time the minor league season begins.

Pete (Providence): Hey Jesse! They are pretty close in the new top 350, but do you lean one way or the other between Canaan Smith and Andy Pages?

Jesse Roche: I lean toward Pages who I think hits more than Smith long term.

Sandwich shop guy (Making a sandwich for your mom): Who are your personal cheeseballs that you find yourself taking as fliers in fantasy leagues this year? Hitters and pitchers. Thanks!

Jesse Roche: Young MLB hitter: Trent Grisham
Old MLB hitter: Kyle Seager
Hitting prospect: Heriberto Hernandez
Young MLB pitcher: Frankie Montas/Dinelson Lamet
Old MLB pitcher: Garrett Richards
Pitching prospect: RANDY DOBNAK!

Niels (Massachusetts): In a dynasty context, would you take a player like Mason Martin over Ivan Herrera? Herrera has joined some top 100s IRL, but I'm unsure how to treat him in fantasy.

Jesse Roche: Yes, I prefer Martin. Catching prospects carry so much risk and catchers, in general, simply provide little fantasy impact. You should fade all catching prospects in dynasty relative to their IRL rank (except maybe Daulton Varsho).

Stylist Jen (Cutting your mom's hair): Who makes it to the show first out of Jasson Dominguez and Erick Pena?

Jesse Roche: It is so hard to say, but probably Dominguez. The Yankees tend to more aggressively push their prospects than the Royals.

Kyle (Tempe): Can you do Mr. Fister's question about the 2020 and 2021 draft rankings for dynasty, but for Austin Martin, Nick Gonzalez, and Zac Veen?

Jesse Roche: 29) Austin Martin
44) Nick Gonzales

Veen does not yet crack the top 100 absent graduations.

Steve (TN): Do you play in any open universe leagues? If so, do you have any preference between rostering 2020, 2021, even 2022 FYPD guys (think top 15-20 overall MLB Draft picks) or international guys, like Seiyo Suzuki?

Jesse Roche: Yes. I am a co-owner with Tom Trudeau in Devil's Rejects, an industry open universe league. I tend to prefer high upside options among amateur and international players. I actually advocated for us to draft Seiya Suzuki, an OF in NPB, who I think will be posted this offseason. In my experience, international players in the NPB or KBO tend to fall in drafts or be under-rostered due to the uncertainties surrounding when or whenever they will be posted (we drafted Kodai Senga late as well). Among draftees, I am open to any class as long as the tools project well, but the further out you get, the greater the risk is.

Alex (Austin): Which lotto ticket teenager is the best add as my final prospect: Maximo Acosta, Misael Urbina, Brayan Rocchio, or Keoni Cavaco?

Jesse Roche: Rocchio, though Acosta has more upside and big helium

sanott (VA): Hunter Bishop getting a variety of evaluations and ranks based on his power and speed. What is you best guess on ETA and is it too early to invest in dynasty leagues with limited keeper spots?

Jesse Roche: We love Bishop who maybe develops 70-grade raw power to go along with enough speed to be a double-digit base stealer. His hit tool is still a work in progress and he does suffer a good bit of swing and miss. I would expect his ETA to be 2022, with him spending 2020 in A-ball, and 2021 in the upper minors.

Bball (MA): Matos, Perdomo, or Heriberto Hernandez(Tex) more likely to be star? Points league so not too concerned with speed

Jesse Roche: Matos has the most star potential, though I LOVE Heriberto, just concerned about his defense and hit tool.

Joe Exotic (Crazytown): Just wanted to say thanks for continuing to do these chats while all of us linger in sports purgatory. It is greatly appreciated!

Jesse Roche: My pleasure!

Jesse Roche (Sitting in your chair): Inception

Jesse Roche: I'm actually sitting on the couch. Stay at home order . . .

James (Kentucky): I want to go back to work so bad. Being in the office sounds like a dream vacation right about now.

Jesse Roche: Me too. Trying to work from home with a one-year-old is a tall task!

Mike (Philadelphia): Which rate goes up the most after all of this: birth or divorce?

Jesse Roche: Divorce. It already happened in China! https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8108385/Divorce-cases-spike-China-couples-spend-time-coronavirus-quarantine.html

Ric Flair (Atlanta ICU): Woooooooooo!

Jesse Roche: It is that time . . .

Jesse Roche: Thanks for all the questions! I hope you all stay safe and do your best in these strange times. If you need a new podcast to listen to while social distancing, check out my new podcast (Five Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast presented by Fantrax) with Eric Cross from Fantrax and Jake Devereaux from my old stomping grounds over at The Dynasty Guru. You can find the second episode here: https://twitter.com/5ToolPod/status/1243170854982336513

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