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Chat: Jesse Roche

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 04, 2021 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jesse Roche.


Jesse Roche is a member of the BP Fantasy Team.

Jesse Roche: Happy Top-500 Day! The Top-500 Dynasty Baseball Rankings are now updated after countless hours of tweaking, nitpicking, and discussion. We are also in the middle of our positional series, focusing on third base this week. Finally, the prospect team continues to roll out the team-by-team top-10 prospect lists. Lots of content at Baseball Prospectus at the moment! Now, to the questions!

dzemens (Toledo, OH): What type of eta and projection do you see for ha-seong kim? Can he be a viable 2b option, enough to beat out profar etc.

Jesse Roche: No need to reinvent the wheel so here is my writeup on Ha-seong Kim from the Top-50 Signees from 2020/2021, noting also the Padres resigned Jurickson Profar to add even more competition:

The re-tooling Padres signed Kim to a four-year, $28-million deal to immediately slot in at second base. This comes on the heels of an excellent season in the Korea Baseball Organization, in which he hit .306/.398/.523 with 30 home runs and 23 stolen bases. Already, Kim has climbed into the Top 150 in redraft ADP on NFC since his signing. Now, time for the cold water…

First, when was the last time a hitter from the KBO performed well in the majors? Jung Ho Kang and Eric Thames for a hot minute. Yet, Kang was coming off an epic .356/.459/.739 performance in the KBO, and Thames enjoyed back-to-back monstrous campaigns, including his 2015 season when he hit .381/.497/.790 with 47 homers and 40 stolen bases. (Notably, however, the KBO adjusted the ball in 2019 to mute offensive production. Of course, Mel Rojas also still hit .349/.414/.679 with 42 home runs, so, y’know.) Understandably, the transition from the KBO to Major League Baseball is difficult for hitters. The average fastball velocity in the KBO last year was 88-89 mph, approximately five mph slower than the majors. Even presuming Kim receives regular playing time, his offensive production likely will underwhelm.

Next, Kim does not have loud tools, with most grading out around average. Standing at just 5-foot-9, Kim lacks a ton of raw power despite his gaudy home-run totals in the KBO. His game power routinely receives borderline average grades and mostly plays to the pull-side. Arguably, his best tool is his plus speed, which he—and, most importantly, the steal-happy Padres—likely will utilize often on the bases. Kim also possesses solid bat speed and plate discipline, as evidenced by his healthy strikeout-to-walk totals in the KBO, and he profiles as an average-to-above hitter in the majors.

Finally, Jake Cronenworth enjoyed a breakout performance in 2020 before cratering over the final month. This swoon likely provided the impetus to acquire Kim. Still, Cronenworth will receive plenty of playing time, especially in a right-handed-heavy lineup, and likely will send Kim to the bench more often than many expect.

Nevertheless, Kim is not without upside, though expectations should be tempered. If you’re seeking a rough statistical comparison, he profiles similarly to Kolten Wong, circa 2019, with a touch more power and a touch less batting average. That is quite a valuable fantasy player. For win-now teams, Kim should bump ahead of Lacy and Mitchell. However, Kim remains well outside of cracking the top four on this list.

[New notes]

At the moment, I think both Kim and Cronenworth are overvalued in redraft and dynasty leagues. I do not see Profar as a serious impediment to playing time considering he spent so much time in the outfield last year. That said, as a semi-full-time player, I could see Kim still amassing 500 PA over a full season. I think a .260/10/15 type performance over 500 PA is a reasonable expectation which plays in most formats. Kim will certainly begin the season in the majors absent some unforeseen issue.

Simon (Miami): Who are the two best non-closers who you think will be the next stud closer.

Jesse Roche: Devin Williams and Brusdar Graterol. There have been intermittent rumors that Josh Hader may be dealt, and Williams is next in line. Kenley Jansen is in the final year of his contract. Graterol has filthy stuff that fits perfectly in the 9th.

JA (Virginia): I am in a dynasty/keeper league. I am looking to rebuild this year and play for the future. If I am looking at pitching, is it better to auction rookies (Pearson, Howard, Manning, Patino, etc.) or auction track record guys who are coming off injuries (Sale, Clevinger, Syndergaard, Sevarino, etc.)?

Jesse Roche: It depends on how contracts escalate in your league. Normally, I think it is best to target high-upside youngish talent at a low cost to lock up long-term. Of those you mentioned, Severino, Thor, Pearson, Patino, and Manning are excellent targets. We are less enthused about Spencer Howard. Both Sale and Clevinger are aging out of a rebuilders window.

Tyler (Vancouver): Who are the best prospects that will get a look in 2021?

Jesse Roche: Many will get a look, some earlier than others. Obviously, players who debuted last year will be back, including Nick Madrigal, Dylan Carlson, Sixto Sanchez, Randy Arozarena, Ian Anderson, Ryan Mountcastle, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Daulton Varsho, etc. Another top-prospect early 2021 debut likely is Andrew Vaughn. Otherwise, our ETAs should help guide the search for potential 2021 impact players, though some likely will not debut until well after the All-Star break (Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, etc.).

Ryan (Montreal): Hi Jesse, Despite a great debut, do you believe Ke'Bryan Hayes is still propped up by his defense? What do you think his stat line looks like in his best seasons? Thanks.

Jesse Roche: Hayes has always had plus raw power, it just rarely translated to game power. I am not inclined to believe his small sample size performance is anywhere close to sustainable. Hayes still does not put enough balls in the air and his line-drive stroke portends a hit-over-power profile moving forward. At peak, I could see Hayes hitting .280/.350/.470 with 20-25 HR and 10-15 SB, which, of course, carries a ton of value in fantasy leagues.

Loria (Milwaukee, Wi): 12 team, 7 keeper league with 2/yr Prospects that are "free" keepers for 3yrs after promotion. I'm going for it, deal offered was: Robinson (+3), Kieboom (+3), and Manning (+3) to get Lindor. Too much?

Jesse Roche: No, I think that is a very strong trade for you in that keeper format.

Buff (Colorado): For Dynasty purposes, why do you prefer Flaherty to Woodruff?

Jesse Roche: It is very close, but Jack Flaherty is nearly three years younger Brandon Woodruff, he plays in a more favorable pitching environment, and his primary secondary pitch (slider) is one of the best in the game. Woodruff has a more balanced arsenal and a better fastball, and a case certainly can be made that he has comparable upside with less risk than Flaherty. Both are excellent, but Flaherty's youth, home park & whiffs give him a slight edge.

Old Timer (Raleigh): Why isn't someone like Nomar Mazara heading overseas in an attempt to rebuild his value?

Jesse Roche: The offseason is not over yet. Poor Nomar . . .

phgold09 (NY): In a keep forever, I have a very good young core that should keep a window of contention open for a long time (acuna, soto, devers, albies, bregman, correa). Would you trade Rutschman and Lux to get Woodruff and Voit, or would you continue to build for the larger window?

Jesse Roche: I think that is a fair trade, though you may be able to get more for Lux/Rutschman. It depends on your league size/scoring, but if you're ready to enter the win-now window (and it appears you are with that core) then go for it, though maybe ask for another vet piece as a cherry on top.

AJ (The middle of nowhere): With the Kolten Wong signing, does this impact your valuation of Hiura? Either in moving to 1B or OF (i.e. having to learn a new position and impacts on hitting - both short term and long term), or what the signing says about the orgs confidence in him?

Jesse Roche: It does not really impact my valuation of Hiura much. The risk of a move from second has long been baked into his valuation given his defensive limitations. Obviously, the potential loss of 2B eligibility is problematic, but 1B eligibility is not too bad these days given the dearth of talent at the position. The Brewers still have boatloads of confidence in Hiura, though he remains an extremely risky high-end dynasty asset given his whiff issues and the anticipated move off 2B.

darielsantana (Santo domingo): Donyou think Bohm will transition to 1b or LF?

Jesse Roche: Yes, I think Bohm like moves to 1B at some point, especially if the DH returns to the NL soon.

Ryan (Montreal): How fun would Luis Medina be if he can throw strikes consistently?

Jesse Roche: Extremely, though it is not just about throwing strikes but commanding his pitches. The kid has filthy stuff.

Loria (Milwaukee, Wi): 12 team, 7 keeper league with 2/yr Prospects that are "free" keepers for 3yrs after promotion. Kershaw to me for Patino (+3). I think the next 2 yrs of Kershaw fit my window, worth it? Where do you see the 75th outcome for Patino??

Jesse Roche: I'd also pull the trigger on this trade. Patino remains quite raw and if you only can keep him for 3 more years, you may have some empty production as he continues to get seasoning in the minors. The Padres are not without starting pitchers atm.

Ryan (Montreal): Does Brailyn Marquez figure out a third pitch and sticks as a starter or does he end up in the bullpen eventually?

Jesse Roche: I think Marquez moves to the bullpen long-term given his elite two-pitch mix and shaky command. In the pen, he obviously could be a superb late-inning arm.

Old timer (Raleigh): Thoughts on the A's Montas for 2021. Keeper bidding league. Currently mid-price cost among starters. Bullish, run away fast, or more nuanced? Thanks.

Jesse Roche: More nuanced. The command regression of his split finger and sinker is concerning, and split fingers are finicky pitches to master consistently. When the splitter is not working (and it was not last year), Montas has little to combat left-handed bats. If it returns, Montas will dominate. However, command has always been a problem for him so it is hard to say. He'll be one to watch in the spring.

Burr (NYC): Where would a healthy Andres Munoz fall among those best non-closers?

Jesse Roche: Close to the top. When healthy, Munoz's stuff matches Graterol just with less command.

Ryan (Montreal): Please fill in the blanks. Trevor Rosenthal signs with _____ and ends up with __ saves this year.

Jesse Roche: Trevor Rosenthal signs with the Padres and ends up with 20 saves this year. Twins just signed Colome so they likely are out. The Padres could still use an arm like Rosenthal in the late innings. Other than the postseason, he was excellent for the Padres. Plus, AJ Preller has not made a move in nearly two weeks . . .

darielsantana (santo domingo): Another Alec Bohm question. Do you see him being a top 30 hitter in the next 3 years? Maybe sooner?

Jesse Roche: Last question! Yes, I think Bohm can be a top-30 hitter in the next 3 years, but probably not in 2021.

Jesse Roche: Ok, that is it for me. Thanks for all the questions! If you have any more, you can reach out to me on Twitter @jaroche6. Be sure to also check out the Five-Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast @5ToolPod hosted by Fantrax, where I'm a co-host with Eric Cross and Jake Devereaux. In the meantime, be on the lookout for continued content in the positional series over the next month!

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