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Chat: Jesse Roche

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday April 17, 2020 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jesse Roche.


Jesse Roche is a member of the Baseball Prospectus fantasy team.

Jesse Roche: While I am a day late on this chat, hopefully I am not also a dollar short. Happy Saturday, everyone! I apologize for missing my regularly scheduled chat time Friday at 1 pm EST. Child care took priority. Regardless, there are still plenty of questions in the Q that need answers so let's get started, now, on Saturday at 1 pm EST.

Moonchild (Tahiti): What are your thoughts regarding F. Mejia? Do you think he gets at least 50% of the starts in SD this year? Do you believe he will have the chance to fulfill the offensive potential projected for him when he came up with Cleveland? What sort of career do you foresee and how valuable do you think he'll be in Scoresheet baseball?

Jesse Roche: Francisco Mejia has been a slow burn prospect, like many young catching prospects. Last year, he did show signs of life, hitting .298/.354/.503 between June 18th and August 28th (between stints on the IL). During that 58-game stretch, he started 41 games with 10 more appearances as a pinch hitter. I would expect similar usage moving forward (~70-75% starts). Meanwhile, I do expect Mejia to eventually find a groove at the plate. The kid can swing it. I think something like .290/.340 with 15+ home runs is still a very realistic peak outcome for Mejia.

I am not sold on Mejia having nearly as much value in Scoresheet as, for example, a standard 5x5 format. He does not generate big walk rates so his OBP is a bit depressed. Mejia is a switch-hitter, which is useful, but I do like a nice platoon at catcher anyway. His defense should be fine for Scoresheet, though. Ultimately, he is not the greatest Scoresheet asset, but he is perfectly solid.

spotted cow (rockford): in a dynasty league where I had been rebuilding its probably time to start contending (2021 for sure). I have a ton of minor league depth and young offensive talent with a fair amount of interesting young SPs but should I start trading away draft picks and redundant younger pieces to sure up my pitching? Hiura, Bichette, Wander Franco, and Madrigal are my ss, 2b, mi, util and i have some heavy players behind them like marco Luciano, bobby witt, or even Erick pena who is getting some heat now? or with uncertainty of this season do i hold tight with these young studs because their value isn't likely to go anywhere and maybe try and buy cheaper older pitchers and piece it together until we have clarity and maybe wait for inseason category needs to show up in 2021 to sell them then, thanks for all the continuing chats!

Jesse Roche: I do not advise any team to trade for older assets at this time given the uncertainty regarding the season, and whether there will even be a season. Granted, I never say never, and, if the price of a high-end asset with a 3-5 year window of usefulness has depreciated to the point of a bargain, it is perfectly reasonable to move some excess youth to acquire such a player, even if there is no 2020 season. That said, I would likely hold prospects like Marco Luciano, Bobby Witt Jr., and Erick Pena at this time, absent a Godfather offer. They have not been given a chance to really pop, which I expect each to do as soon as pro ball resumes.

CubbieBear (Chi-Town): I’ve read about O’Neil Cruz upside. Realistically though it’s hard to imagine someone with a 6’7” frame able the cover SS at the ML level. Particularly if his frame continues to fill out. Could he be headed for RF and a Dave Parker type comp? Does he show the ability to improve the strike zone judgement? Thanks for you insight.

Jesse Roche: Last week, I made this note about Cruz: "Oneil Cruz actually may be able to stick at shortstop long-term despite his unheard of height (6-foot-7) for the position. He has a huge arm, excellent range, and solid actions. There certainly is still a chance Cruz ultimately profiles at third base or right field, but the industry has more and more confidence in his ability to stick at the 6."

Of course, the odds of Cruz sticking at shortstop remain long simply because the tallest player to ever play shortstop was Cal Ripken Jr. at 6-foot-4. Three extra inches is a tall order (pun intended). However, that is the same thing people said about Ripken Jr. forty years ago. I do think Cruz will stick at shortstop and shock the baseball world. If he does not, he has easy fallback positions at 3B and RF.

Meanwhile, Cruz probably will always suffer plenty of swing-and-miss given those long levers. He has shown the ability to make adjustments and he did improve his walk rate to 11% in a brief 35-game run in Double-A last year. I think he will have fine strike zone judgment in the end. I just expect 25%+ strikeouts as close to a given. Cruz is also no Dave Parker, who had a special hit tool.

MK (Houston): Jesse, appreciate you continuing the chats. 12-Team Roto Dynasty Startup (OBP) evaluating the back end of my minor league roster so I know who to cut when (if) prospects pop up. How would you rank the following given the shallow format: Ronaldo Hernandez (TB), Kyren Paris (LAA), Albert Abreu (NYY), Bubba Thompson (TEX), Bobby Bradley (CLE). Anything to get excited about here?

Jesse Roche: My pleasure!

All of those guys are expendable in a 12-team OBP league. Honestly, if you can hit waivers now to replace any of them, I'd consider it. Check out our Top-350 Dynasty League prospects for inspiration: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/article/57806/top-350-dynasty-prospects-march-2020/

Since this was basically a non-answer, if I had to rank them:

(1) Bobby Bradley
(2) Bubba Thompson
(3) Albert Abreu
(4) Ronaldo Hernandez
(5) Kyren Paris

meswan (Texas): Hi Jesse,, thanks for taking my question - love these chat sessions! I am wondering what to do with Royce Lewis, I’ve had him on my roster since he was drafted. Unfortunately, I have never seen him play. The numbers don’t seem to match the lofty rankings by the various Dynasty publications. I will not cut him, but wonder what to do with him. What is your personal opinion on his future productivity? I remember an owner finally giving up on David Ortiz then all of a sudden......Well, we know how that turned out.

Jesse Roche: Thanks! Royce Lewis had a delayed start last year due to a strained oblique and he never really hit his stride. Part of the issue is a swing that is a bit out of whack. However, Lewis has lauded work ethic and baseball IQ, so I am confident he will eventually figure it out and everything will click. It will be telling if he can make an adjustment. While he tore up the AFL last fall, he still had a wonky stroke so it is unclear if any real changes were made. Despite the swing work needed, Lewis has electric bat speed and legit power. Out of the draft, reports had his FV hit/power tools at 6/5. Now, they are reversed at 5/6. There is a chance he develops into a 55/55/55 hit/game power/speed bat who can profile at short, which has immense value. I still think he has 20/20 upside. I do not think it is the time to sell him unless you snag top-100 dynasty value in return.

Jay (CT): Hi Jesse, I am looking to fill the last 2 roster spots on my dynasty team with current MLB players at any position with potential for 2021 and beyond given that there may not be any baseball in 2020. I am considering the following players: Sam Hilliard, Travis Shaw, Lewis Brinson, Stephen Piscotty, Jose Peraza, Manuel Margot, Teoscar Hernandez, Rowdy Tellez, Jesus Aguilar, Brandon Belt. Who would you go with? Thanks!

Jesse Roche: Sam Hilliard and Travis Shaw.

Note, Daniel Murphy likely is a free agent after the 2020 season ($12 mil mutual option in 2021 will most certainly not be exercised) so there should be one less obstacle to playing time for Hilliard next year (meaning McMahon to 1B and Hampson from UT/CF to 2B).

Mike in Louisville (Louisville): There probably haven't been any prospects who have helped their stock during this time... but has there been any word on anyone who has gone full-Shawn Kemp during the NBA lockout?

Jesse Roche: Not that I am aware of, but I would not be surprised if some players let themselves go a bit without access to team facilities. Shane Baz mentioned during an interview on the Five-Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast (go check it out) that he had to scrounge together workout equipment. There have also been clips on Twitter of prospects getting creative to workout and making their own weights. Not all these guys have home gyms, and local school gyms likely are not accessible either. Ralf Lifshitz of Prospects Live mentioned he is worried about how Miguel Sano may hold up during the delay. It is a very real concern to have for players with motivation/weight issues.

Fred whitfield (Cleveland): With Bauer and dsclafani free agents do you think lodolo is pretty much a lock for 2021?

Jesse Roche: I had his ETA as 2021 so it is possible, but prospects are also losing development time with this delay so, if anything, I think we may see Nick Lodolo even later in 2021 than we would have pre-delayed season. The Reds have their eyes on contention so I would expect them to make another splash in free agency to fill rotation vacancies.

Orville (Dayton): Peyton. Burdick -seems like he has the Wright stuff. You a believer and what’s your 2022 marlins outfield?

Jesse Roche: Peyton Burdick generates so much love in these chats. From my chats on 2/21 and 4/3: Peyton Burdick was a 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft. He impressed in the Midwest League (.307/.408/.542) and offers plus raw power with a touch of speed. His hit tool remains questionable, and he had some swing-and-miss (13.3% SwStr) in Low-A. Still, he is a nice mid-round pick in FYPDs this offseason. It is unclear if he will hit enough to profile as a R/R corner OF bat. That said, Burdick has nice fantasy upside. Think .250/25/10, maybe even more power.

Given the delayed (maybe even cancelled) season, Burdick may not arrive until 2023. He likely will need a year in A+/AA (Jupiter and Jacksonville are both tough places to hit too), then AA/AAA, with the goal of a AAA/MLB year three. Despite his age (23), he is more raw than most college prospects. Maybe, maybe, the Marlins push him to AA/AAA in 2021 regardless of whether there is a season in 2020. In that case, he definitely could push for a big league role in 2022. There are plenty of OFs ahead of him, though, including Monte Harrison, Jesus Sanchez, Jerar Encarnacion, and fellow 2019 draftees, J.J. Bleday and Kameron Misner. The Marlins' system is stacked in the outfield.

Jesse Roche: That is it from me this week. Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Five-Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast @5ToolPod in which Eric, Jake, and I interview Kody Hoese, discuss Wander Franco v. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and tackle breakout hitters, pitchers, and prospects from the NL Central! Next week, I am beginning a series on Out of the Park Baseball and, specifically, the Perfect Team game mode. Stay tuned!

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