Klaw: I understand a fury in your words … but not the words. Klawchat.
John: How does Jose Peraza hit 293/.316/.378 as a 21-year-old in AAA and drop from #24 in your rankings last year to off the list??
Klaw: So this seems like a good first question because I can start by clearing up a misconception or two. First, the 2015 list is not just (2014 ranking + 2015 performance). I start from scratch each year, and if that means correcting a mistake or two (or ten) from the previous year’s list, so be it. If I tried to use old lists as a basis for future ones, I’d just be perpetuating old errors. There’s value in being consistent, but too much so is just stubbornness. Second, nothing about this list is purely performance-based; the rankings are based in scouting, in physical tools and baseball skills, as much as they are in performance, probably more so. As for Peraza, a second baseman with no power and a .316 OBP is not someone who belongs on a top 100. The reports from the past year were worse than the year before, and now with two years gone from shortstop, the odds of him being able to return there seem quite slim.
Tommy Ballgame: Where does Brady Aiken start the year since he’s coming back from TJ? Mahoning Valley or Lake County?
Klaw: I’m assuming extended spring training.
Brian: Who were some of the Atlanta players that missed your top 100?
Klaw: Full reports on all 30 teams, including top tens, notes on other prospects (ranging from three to fifteen more per system), 2016 impact prospects, sleepers, and prospects who’ve slid, will all be up next week.
Ryan: What have you heard about Austin Riley and what does he have to do to be on the list next year? Was it just a sample size issue?
Klaw: Riley was not a first-round talent in June, with questions about his hit tool, especially his bat speed. He was just OK in the GCL, then had 30 great games in Danville. Why would he be a top 100 guy? It’s awfully quick – with no new favorable scouting information – to say he should have been a top 15 pick in the draft, which would be the implication of a top 100 ranking.
Josh Meyer: What do you make of Kohl Stewart’s lack of minor league strikeouts?
Klaw: Strong groundball guy, still learning to pitch and develop some of his offspeed stuff, especially the changeup. Don’t scout the stat line. His stuff is good and he’s only been doing the baseball thing full-time for three years now.
john: Surprised to not see Carson Fulmer on your list. Thoughts?
Klaw: Reliever. I don’t put anyone I expect to be a reliever (like Josh Hader) on the top 100.
Len: Where could Jason groome rank on this list next year? Comparable to Rodgers?
Klaw: Not comparable.
Paul: What do you attribute Sean Newcomb’s high walk rate to? Is it a simple mechanical tweak or something bigger?
Klaw: There’s nothing to tweak in his mechanics – his delivery is very easy, almost effortless, but I think the result is that he doesn’t truly repeat the arm swing pitch to pitch enough for real command (or control, in this case). You can’t really fix that. Changing a pitcher’s arm stroke is almost all downside.
Randy: Wow, definitely a bold ranking on Allard. Any concerns about his ability to handle the workload of an MLB starter with his frame?
Klaw: Obviously not or I wouldn’t have ranked him there. He’s not frail.
Nate: Can you elaborate on your Yusniel Diaz ranking and why he cracks the 100 without having played a single professional inning yet? What do you see for him in 2016, and what should his timeline to the majors be?
Klaw: Actually, he did play some professional innings in Cuba. If we’re ignoring guys who’ve never played in organized ball, then should Kolby Allard (all of six innings after signing) be off the list too?
Alan: You’re obviously high on Atlanta’s future with the team and overall prospect rankings. Do you have any concern about their lack of power bats? It seems to be the only thing this team is missing on paper for the future.
Klaw: No, because I think they will have enough pitching depth to trade for whatever they need. And Davidson’s still got more power than he’s shown to date – he’s pretty young and can flash that plus raw in BP.
Ed: Jon Gray (40 IP) meet service time to miss the list or he’s just fallen that far in a year?
Klaw: He’s gone backwards. Someone altered his delivery, so he’s lost a lot of power. His fastball is down, his slider went from a 70 to a 50, and he has zero deception. That’s why he got whacked around in the big leagues – hitters see the straight four-seamer and hit it. Back in college, he finished way more over his front side, got more tilt on the slider, was touching 99, and even had a better changeup. I don’t know what caused the alteration, but I saw it and so did every scout I asked about Gray for these reports.
Brendan: I noticed you have Kevin Newman at 23, and I haven’t seen him in a top 100 list anywhere else. I know you don’t look at any other lists when making your own, but just curious as to what stands out to you the most. Thanks!
Klaw: Well, you could ask those other folks why a true shortstop who’s a 65 runner, rarely strikes out, and has a strong history of hitting for average (at U of A and two summers on the Cape) isn’t a top 100 prospect. I think that’s a pretty valuable asset myself.
Bring DH to NL: Lack of position the main reason that Corneilus Randolph is not on the list?
Klaw: It’s a rather significant issue. It’s left field or bust for him.
Gene: Keith what gives with the trend in arm injuries with Oriole minor league pitcher related to the side of the rubber. Historicallym this was an issue with Arrieta when he was an Oriole and now it seems to be affecting Harvey and Bundy. I understand moving from one side to the other to produce a bit more deception, but if it is causing these guys to throw against their bodies, which produces injuries, why risk it? The Orioles also were opposed to Arrieta and Bundy throwing cutters, which led to control issues for Arrieta and injury for Bundy. Wouldn’t it be smarter to work on helping young pitcher further develop what they already do well instead of forcing them to throw only fastball/curveball/change up?
Klaw: You’re preaching to the choir here. The real problem is a one size fits all philosophy. Moving guys on the rubber because you think all RHP should be on the 3B side is a mistake in concept. Don’t move a guy who isn’t having trouble, and don’t try to make them all look the same.
Dave: Hector Olivera – where would he have slotted on this list (if at all) if you would have considered him? Thanks
Klaw: If we ignore that he’s older than dirt, he still wouldn’t have made it. I don’t think he’s a regular.
Ben in Boca: Hey Keith – I’m not usually a fan of “how could you” but wondering what your thought process is putting Steven Matz as low as you did (37). He’s already proven to be a viable (if injury-prone) major league talent, and probably an early candidate for NL ROY. As a Mets fan I was surprised to see a different Met (Dom Smith) ranked higher. What gives?
Klaw: As low as 37? Seems like a pretty good ranking to me, especially for a guy who has never thrown 150 innings in any regular season since signing in 2009. Great stuff, zero evidence of durability.
Josh Cookson: Your top 100 prospects include an organization’s best prospects, but is it fair to say the org rankings reflect the next tier (101-500 or so)? With the Brewers at 5 and the Astros at 17, I’m assuming you see much more impact and depth outside of the top tier guys in those two systems?
Klaw: The org rankings reflect everyone I’d call a prospect in each system. That ranges from 13 guys in the worst system (Angels) to probably 25 or so in the best systems.
Dan: Was Taillon’s omission simply that he hasn’t pitched in 2 years, or some deeper long-term health or performance issue?
Klaw: It’s that after two years off the mound, we don’t really know what his stuff will look like when he returns, or when he will be able to handle a regular workload. I like him quite a bit, but I have to be realistic that not many guys miss two years and come back to be durable starters.
JD Moss: No Carson Fulmer? And does MIchael Kopech have a chance to shoot up the lists this year with a solid showing?
Klaw: Kopech might have made the list if he hadn’t been suspended and had shown he could hold that stuff all year. He was off the charts in short stints in instructs. Definite candidate to be top 50 next offseason.
Danny FannyBannanny: No love for Cornelius Randolph?
Klaw: Can we drop the delusion that leaving a player off the top 100 is “no love?”
Doug Bersani: Do you survey other Top 100 prospects lists? And if so, was it crazy that MLB.com still has Hunter Renfroe in their Top 100?
Klaw: I’ve seen MLB’s because Jonathan Mayo and I talk a lot and we’ve been swapping stories about prospects for the last two weeks. I don’t think that’s crazy (nor would I sit here and tell you Jonathan’s crazy because he might see it and he is legitimately crazy and might come after me).
Woodman: How close is Clayton Blackburn to the majors? He’s got good control, averages nearly a K per inning. Was wondering why the Giants shelled out big dough for both Cueto and Samardzija when Blackburn looks nearly ready.
Klaw: He’s ready, but he’s not close to Cueto’s quality or Samardzija’s potential. Blackburn’s a really good fifth starter candidate, but it’s great command of very average stuff.
Jose R: Robert Stephenson is called the “The Lighthouse”? No he’s not. You made that nickname up.
Klaw: Of course I did. And my hat is off to anyone who gets the reference.
Chris A: Which Dodger prospect outside of the 7 in your top 100 has the most potential to join the top 100 next year?
Klaw: Austin Barnes had a legitimate argument to be on the list this winter.
Sara: I don’t see Hunter Renfroe here, but your thoughts on him?
Klaw: Don’t think he’ll hit for enough average/OBP to be more than a fringy regular. Big tools except the tool that counts the most.
KLAW hates my team: You mentioned a few months ago that you thought Eddy Julio Martinez would be in the running for the top pick in this years draft, but he didn’t make the top 100. Is this mainly due to lack of certainly being that you haven’t seen him play in a game?
Klaw: Nobody’s seen him play – and his brief time in the CNS wasn’t great (plus I think it was two years ago). My gut on his upside was not enough to just stuff the guy into the top 100. Yes, it’s my list, but it’s grounded in way more than what my eyes see.
Ed: Would love to hear you elaborate on what Victor Robles offensive profile might look like if he develops?
Klaw: Big debate on whether he’s going to have power or not. Could easily be in top 20 next year. It’s not so much power as very hard contact, and sometimes that ends up being big power anyway (like mah boy Goldschmidt, who doesn’t even have much loft in his swing). I think we’re looking at .300ish with a solid OBP, 12-15 homers, lots of steals, good defense in center.
Ian: Is the Alex Reyes rank “jump” (from 77 to 8) the highest jump you’ve ever penned in one season?
Klaw: I’ve had guys go from off list to top ten before. It’s part of the fun – and yet another reason why I don’t look at my own older lists when doing this.
Matt (PGH): Harold Ramirez was on your 2015 Mid-Season Top 50. Why did he drop off your 2016 Top 100 Prospects List?
Klaw: Again, he did not “drop off.” He can really hit, but he’s LF only without much power, defense, or clear OBP beyond the batting average. Good prospect, limited ceiling.
Quinn: Is it crazy to say that Victor Robles scouts a lot like Aaron Hicks did a few years ago?
Klaw: I don’t think they’re very similar beyond speed and position.
John Uskglass: Is there a reason, at least that it seems to me, why pitching prospects are almost always listed as just throwing a Fastball, Curve/slider, or change? I look at way too much brooks baseball and damn near every pitcher in the majors throws two different types of fastball as well as two off speed pitches. Is this something they develop after they get up, or is it something they’ve always had but seldom used in minors?
Klaw: A lot of player development folks emphasize throwing one fastball type to develop command, then allow the reintroduction of the other later on, or they add a two-seamer because the pitcher is struggling to avoid contact with the four-seamer.
Shane: Just a fun guess, but how many seasons in his career will Gallo lead MLB in HR?
Mike: Let’s get this out of the way. Why do you hate my team so much and why didn’t you rate the prospect that I think is great because he’s on my team and I heard he hit two home runs in one game even though I’ve never seen him and don’t know how to scout?
Klaw: Yeah, i’m already getting plenty of that along with complaints that you have to actually pay dollars to read my work.
Hogie: How close was Erick Fedde to making the list? Would it help if I told you he has bad ass long hair now?
Klaw: Not close. And … no.
Hugo Z: I’m all for tossing out Touki’s Asheville game, but his ERA is still over 4 without it.
Klaw: ERA is a terrible way to evaluate a pitching prospect, especially one that young and raw.
Danny: What do you think the ceiling for Brady Aiken is? What current player do you think he could most be compared to if he reaches his potential?
Klaw: Before we knew anything about his elbow, I thought he had ace ceiling. I’ll stay with that for now, since all we really know is that he had TJ and is healthy and throwing.
Brian White: Brewers took a HUGE jump. Fair to stay David Stearns has done an excellent job thus far?
Klaw: To be totally fair, Doug Melvin was at the helm for most of the improvements to the system, and Stearns has added to what was already in place.
Colin: Any hottakes on the GOP race?
Klaw: Just my gut – and I’m way out of my league here – but I think the GOP’s powers that be will rally behind Kasich at some point and try to push him over Trump to be the eventual candidate, based on “electability.” (Is that just the “pitchability” of political writing? God, I feel dirty.)
Mike: Why did you not rank Jon Gray, Carson Fullmer or Jameson Taillon in the top 100?
Klaw: When asking a question like this, give me reasons why I should have ranked those players where you want them. The obvious, if flippant, answer is that I thought the 100 players I did rank are better prospects.
Jeremy: What do you mean when you say a player has “great hands”? Is that just the ability to get the ball in the glove?
Klaw: The ability to catch a ball cleanly and make the transfer. Some guys just have hard hands and can’t receive (at any position) well.
Dan: In your Top 100 Prospects list from last January, you had Buxton as the #2 prospect in baseball; he’s again at #2 in your list today. But in your Top 50 Prospects update last July, he’s nowhere to be found. Was this just a simple oversight or was there a reason (skills concern, prospect eligibility, injury, etc.) for his omission?
Klaw: He was in the majors.
TC: I see you’re pretty high on Amed Rosario. Assuming he takes another leap with his bat this year, is it possible he’s the Mets starting SS in 2017?
Klaw: Possible if rather optimistic. This is a big year for him – he’s still more potential than production, although the tools are impressive.
Rick: I know this is purely hypothetical, but injuries aside, where would Matz probably rank just on talent alone? I’m assuming his injury history knocked him down a bit.
Klaw: Thing is, if he didn’t have this injury history, he would probably be entering his third or fourth year in the big leagues.
Justin: Is there anything in particular that makes you think Wilson Contreras’s performance last season was predictive progress rather than an aberration?
Klaw: Tools are there. Great swing. Very athletic kid. Can even run a little. Throws well. Receiving is not great. But definitely performance supported by the scouting report.
Rob Manfred: Why do you hate all of our 30 teams? Jeez!
Klaw: yeah but I like you more than the other guy who was before you.
Eric: Let me get this straight – the Orioles have one of the worst farm systems and they’re considering giving up their first two picks in this draft so they can sign Gallardo and Fowler? Have they just given up on planning for the future?
Klaw: Signing Gallardo makes no sense. He’s just not that good any more, certainly not enough to give up a first-round pick and pay him. He doesn’t make them a playoff team. Both guys still probably don’t make them a playoff team.
Dave: There are 10 shortstops in the top 25, and a bunch of other top shortstops “graduated” from the list last year. Is that position just that valuable, is it going through a renaissance, or will a lot of these guys be moved off the position eventually (like we know Seager will)?
Klaw: The best players tend to start out as shortstops, and shortstops who can actually play the position and also project to hit have the highest ceilings because of how low replacement level is there. The same would be true of catchers, but there isn’t much catching talent in the mid- to high minors yet.
Matt: Just had an interesting office convo regarding this chat that we need you to settle – Should this chat be pronounced “Clawchat” or “Kay-Law chat”?
Klaw: My nickname has been “Klaw” (like “claw”) for about 25 years now. So it’s two syllables, Klawchat.
thedirkatron: The Rangers have 5 guys in your top 100 — including two in the top 12 — plus a deep group of intriguing guys after that, but are “only” 9th, behind teams like Milwaukee and Pittsburgh whose systems don’t appear as strong. Was there anything in particular that led you to slot Texas closer to 10 than 5?
Klaw: As I said earlier, the org rankings are not merely a reflection of who’s on the top 100, but the depth throughout each team’s system. Texas has thinned out after trades and promotions, while Milwaukee has restocked and Pittsburgh just stays loaded.
Alex: Has Gary Sanchez greatly improved his prospect status over the past year? Seems like he’s made some real strides in terms of maturity, defense, and even hitting.
Klaw: Yes. Seems like he finally grasped that he had to work on his defense and had to earn promotions, rather than having things handed to him because he was the golden boy who got the big bonus. It’s actually a really great thing to see, and to hear from Yankees’ personnel. I’m sure they’re relieved too, given what they paid him.
Jack: Any idea where Lazarito might rank on this list if he were a “prospect?” Maybe not high at all due to age/maybe you just haven’t seen him yourself?
Klaw: I don’t have any 16-year-olds on this list right now, and Lazarito is not the kind of elite prospect who would defy that rule of thumb.
MS: Thoughts on taking hallucinagtic drugs to treat anxiety and depression?
Klaw: Are you channeling Cary Grant?
Justin: Klaw – Awesome job as always on the Top 100. Maybe there’s hope with Dom Smith’s physique since he’s doing the offseason training regiment with other Mets? Although…he did do it last year from the sound of it.
Klaw: Klaw about an hour ago
BravePap: Ever thought about helping out MLBTR? They’re my favorite, but they could use someone like you.
Klaw: I sort of have this other job already…
Adam: Robert stephenson didnt make your list. Only a few catcher did though, would he be next catcher on the list or further down?
Klaw: Do you mean Tyler Stephenson? He is on the “ten who just missed” column, which I think goes up tomorrow.
Tony: Does it appear that Tapia’s stance is here to stay? If it ‘normalizes’, what kind of power might be in there?
Klaw: I wouldn’t touch him until and unless he has problems hitting.
Adam: How close was Duane Underwood to making the top 100? Thanks for all your hard work!
Klaw: Not close at all.
Rodney: Would Maitan have made the list if eligible, and if so, in what range?
Klaw: He might be elite, unlike Lazarito, but no, absolutely not.
BD in DC: No Reynaldo Lopez because you think he is a reliever?
Klaw: Yes. I see very little chance he can stay a starter with that delivery and iffy command.
Bob: The angst over where a person’s favorite team is ranked is so silly. In theory, every team could have a good system and the gap between #1 and #30 isn’t that great. What people need to pay more attention to are the comments about the system and how it got to this point. Yeah, I know, there’s no place for reason on the internet.
Klaw: This is why I don’t put numerical grades on players – some people would focus on those and ignore the words that actually tell the story of the player.
Justin: In re: to the top farm systems, The Mets and KC fell the most from 15′ to 16′. Is this a product of making the WS? All the more amazing and scary how good the Cubs are/will be.
Klaw: It’s a product of promoting and trading talent to get to the World Series. The Royals promoted a slew of prospects the last few years, then traded three prospects for Cueto and one for Manaea. They also had their top prospect, Raul Mondesi, Jr., suffer through a miserable year of injury and non-performance (at a level where he was really young). The Mets promoted Thor and Conforto, traded two top ten arms for Clippard and Cespedes, and didn’t have a first-round pick. I’m not saying these were bad decisions, just that those are reasons why the systems slid in my rankings.
Always someone: You didn’t include a prospect I like in your top 100. Does that mean you think he’s merely worthless as a baseball player, or that he deserves to be drawn and quartered?
Klaw: I prefer to see such players broken on the wheel.
Rich, Baton Rouge: Keith, thank you for all you do for those with anxiety issues. My Question: Do you see PIT OF Ramirez, SS Tucker or 3B Hayes making a big leap in the rankings next year?
Klaw: Love Hayes. Not sure he’ll get a ton of affection from the industry because he’s not going to hit for much power, but a possible 70 defender at third who can hit and rarely strikes out … that’s a pretty good player, no?
Ed: Nice to Albert Almora back on the list. Would you say he’s progressed well since last year, or is it fair to say with all of the promotions in 2015 that the top 100 this year isn’t rated quite as high as last years?
Klaw: I think both are fair. Promotions really hit the minors hard, so this year’s list is skewed more towards players who are further away or a touch flawed. But he did make some modest progress at the plate, and he could always field.
Michael: Do you Arismendy Alcantara turning things around this year?
Klaw: I think he has the ability, but I honestly don’t know what the true reasons were behind his 2015 struggles.
Willy Adames: why do you think Mr Robertson is better than me? Defense?
Klaw: Better hitter/OBP guy and much more likely to stay in the middle infield. Now that’s a good question – nice and specific so I know what you want me to answer!
Eddy: Is there anyone you realized you were much higher on than others?
Klaw: I knew I was higher on Newman, because I had him 2nd in the draft class but he went 19th overall. Like I said above, his profile (hit, run, true SS) seems quite valuable to me.
Jaime: Saw a story that Matt Davidson changed his offseasoon workout to focus more on the mental side of the game. If he gets his head right, does he have the physical tools to bounce back?
Klaw: I’ve kind of written him off at this point, but we see former prospects revamp themselves all the time and resurface, often with club number two or three. JD Martinez comes to mind. He has been better with Detroit than he ever promised to be with Houston.
Anonymous: What do you see the Rockies rotation looking like in 2 or 3 years?
Klaw: Hesitating to put Butler in there because he has had so many health problems, but he’d be there on merit, along with Freeland, Hoffman, and some mix of Gray, Bettis, Senzatela, etc. Hard for them to fill a rotation without another big trade since they don’t believe FA starters will ever sign there. (Although I heard the schools are good.)
JP: does Dylan Bundy falling off mean you think he’s destined for the bullpen at this point?
Klaw: It means I have no confidence whatsoever in the health of his shoulder.
Patrick: Keith, several years ago the Royals were your top team. After lots of promotions and trades they’ve seemed to nearly exhaust their minors. They won a championship, but anything (not including FA signing) that you feel will haunt them??
Klaw: That flag will exorcise any ghosts who try to haunt them.
James: Good afternoon! Let’s say that an org recommends a pitcher change his delivery, mound position, etc. And let’s say the pitcher doth protest. Can a pitcher do himself damage within the org by resisting, even if he’s concerned about the impact of that change on his future health/ability/prospects?
Klaw: He’d be right to do so and I wish more pitchers would push back. I think this happened to Appel in Houston and he complied with their wishes, speeding up his delivery, ditching the two-seamer, going to the slide-step even though he can get long in the back so now his arm doesn’t catch up … and voila, results that don’t match the stuff.
DO: Your rankings and commentary show that you weren’t a big fan of the Kimbrell trade for the sox. Considering that A) they dealt from a position of prospect redundancy and B) had a system so strong that they could easily withstand the prospect loss, I’m make the case that the deal is not nearly as bad as some evaluators suggest. In a vacuum I would not want to trade two top 50 prospects for a 60 inning pitcher, but the state of the Sox system can almost justify it. Thoughts?
Klaw: I’m fine with trading prospects, but you have to get appropriate value in return, and they did not.
FinFinnFinnn: Can you highlight why Bobby Bradley is a better prospect than Cody Bellinger?
Klaw: Much more confidence in the hit tool. Bellinger did get to play in a great hitter’s league in a good hitting environment last year, and he did and will strike out a lot. Both good prospects though.
Lucas: Reese McGuire drew any consideration? Does his defense alone will get him in the majors?
Klaw: Don’t think he’ll hit enough to be an everyday guy but he is a no-doubt big leaguer for me.
Dan: Non-baseball question. You’re against keeping with the status quo on something ridiculous for the argument of “it’s always been that way.” How do you feel about February? Why do we still have a month that is multiple days shorter than the other months?
Klaw: If you want to make an argument like this, it’s time to switch to the damn metric system already.
Bill (NY): Is it insane to think Dansby’s best case scenario kinda sounds like Jeter?
Klaw: No, and if you got that from my capsule, it wasn’t entirely accidental.
Jason: Hi Keith. Have you seen Tigers OF Michael Gerber? Regardless, do you think he can be a big league regular?
Klaw: Yep, in fall league. Nice player. Maybe a good player. Probably falls a bit short of regular status.
Jay: KLaw, Where would Roman Quinn had fallen had he not been injured? Do you think he has upside still or to much of an injury risk?
Klaw: Call me when he has a full, healthy season. Forgive me if I’m not waiting by the phone.
Ron: Hi Keith- Any info on Wander Javier that the Twins signed?
Klaw: Is he one of the seven Wanders?
Nick: Does Wuilmer Becerra have the type of potential to be on this list a year from now?
Steve: Hey Keith, thanks for the top 100. It’s one of maybe seven reasons why I keep my Insider subscription. I have a general question about how much you factor in when you see a player into your rankings. If you see a guy on an off day do you think that one time image of him could cloud your overall perspective? Same goes if you see a guy and he’s 4/4 with a bunch of frozen ropes. How do you couch what you see on one occasion with what a player does over the course of a season?
Klaw: That’s the nature of scouting. You have to always remember what you saw is one snapshot among many. Since I don’t sit on a player for three or four days, I talk to scouts and execs all year long to get more information.
Michael: Wouldn’t the chance that Severino succeeds (however large or small that may be) give you more reason to consider pitchers you think are relievers? Even if there is a 75% chance a pitcher is a reliever, does the other 25% (with upside) make them top 100 material?
Klaw: There will always be exceptions. If I divide the universe of pitching prospects into guys I think will be starters and guys I think will be relievers, some of the former will end up relievers, and some of the latter will end up starters. But as long as those exceptions are relatively few, I will work with the same basic heuristics on putting pitchers into those buckets.
Dave: Arcia, Phillips, and Lopez are the top full season prospects for the Brewers. Is their next wave all at the Low A level or lower? Ray Montgomery did an amazing job for them on their 2015 draft.
Klaw: Yes he did. They have a bunch of other good full-season prospects, though, some of whom are on the top 100.
Brad: If you lose your first round draft pick, you also lose that amount of money to spend?
Klaw: Yeah, so it stings twice under the new system.
JP: move Ray or De La Rosa to the bullpen in May to make room for Shipley?
Klaw: Ray is a starter for me. Rubby is a two-pitch reliever.
Ryan: Isan Diaz get any consideration for the top 100? And does high level performances from Northeast high school prospects jump out more to you considering their limited ability to practice and play the game?
Klaw: I love what he did last summer but no, not really a top 100 guy yet.
RSF: What’s the thinking behind no relievers on the list? Too hard to project greatest out of someone that isn’t considered a potential starter? I would think a high end reliever provides enough value to justify inclusion.
Klaw: A high end reliever might provide that value, but identifying which guys might be those 3-4 relievers who can give you a couple of 2+ WAR seasons is a fool’s errand. The attrition rates are just too high.
Nate: Would any angels place in your hypothetical top 200 list?
Klaw: I love Jahmai Jones – he’s somewhere in the next 50.
Chris: Where are Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur? I thought you said the Cubs have a good system!
Klaw: I fear we’re going to do this all over again with Brett’s brother Drew, in the Mariners’ system.
JD: Would you say when you are in the 80s and 90s its hard to rank 91 over 90 with a lot of certainty (just as an example). Would it be easier to do it in pods of guys in the higher rankings, like these 3 guys are 100,99,98 in any particular order.
Klaw: No question. Towards the end, I’m just more focused on “does this guy belong” than “is this guy really better than the guy right behind him and really worse than the guy right above him” because that way lies madness.
Logan: In your top 100 you talk about Dom Smith being overweight, but he is listed at 185 pounds?
Klaw: Pro tip: Listed weights and heights may not be accurate.
aaron: Keith- How much of Gleyber Torres’ rating is tied to being a shortstop? As he probably won’t play there with the Cubs already with Russell, how would being at 2nd or 3rd affect his high slot?
Klaw: If he’s truly a shortstop, then that’s how I’ll rate him. Club context does not apply. Otherwise I might downgrade every Rockies’ starter because of what pitching in Denver does, but I treat their guys like I’d treat any other team’s starters.
Mike B: Can Rafael Devers stick at third base?
Klaw: I say so. He’s a good defender there now.
Chris: What is the difference between raw power and in game power and why do the two sometimes fail to correlate as closely as you would think?
Klaw: You have to hit before you can hit for power. And some guys can’t do both at the same time.
Zed: Do you think the Yankees are better served giving Gary Sanchez time at Triple-A to start the year, or backing up McCann and introducing him to the major league preparation of pitchers and catchers?
Klaw: Still needs to work on enough with receiving, framing, game-calling, etc. that he should play every day in AAA.
Forsyth: You seem a bit down on Moncada. I expected him to be a top 10 guy. Do you think there may have been a bit too much weight on the first couple months, when he was getting reacclimated to competitive baseball? Once he got settled in, he seemed to resemble the hype, meaning 20+ HR pop, excellent speed (SB-wise). Granted from my vantage point the best I can do is scout the box scores, but does he have a chance to bounce back into the top 10 if his 2nd half wasn’t a mirage?
Klaw: If you read the capsule, you can see my concerns, many of which revolve around his defense.
Nick: What type of power output are you hoping for from Dominic Smith now that he is out of poor hitter’s parks?
Klaw: I think he has 15-20 HR in him now, but it will also require a bit of a change in approach where he’s not going the other way quite so often. (I think all 5 of his FSL homers were to the opposite field.) I saw him pull a homer at Salt River, and saw him do it at least once as an amateur, so it’s in there, but he’s eschewed pulling the ball because he’s played in two parks that were bad for LH pull power.
Peter: Sounds like you expect Alex Bregman to be ready to hit in the majors pretty soon. How would you arrange Houston’s infield after his promotion? The most obvious opening would be third, but your writeup described Bregman as more of a 2B-type.
Klaw: He doesn’t have the arm for third. I wonder if he’ll end up trade bait because they are so well set at short at 2b. He’s not far off at all – if Schwarber and Conforto can go from college to the majors in 12-13 months, Bregman certainly can.
Brian: When you scouted Sano, did you ever think the OF was a possibility?
Klaw: I think I brought up his defensive, uh, inadequacies when I saw him in Beloit a few years back. That same game, he hit a fucking laser over the batter’s eye, so I get too worked up about the glove.
KJ: Do you see Alex Blandino as a starter or a utility guy ultimately?
Klaw: Starter, but at 2b, not shortstop.
Eric: Dilson Herrera barely missed the AB cutoff to be rookie eligible so he’s obviously not on the list. Not asking for a specific number, but what bucket would you put him in on the top 100 (if he’d still be there at all). Thanks again, you’re why I’m an insider.
Klaw: Back 20 or so. Always liked him. Got squeezed out last year when the minors were kind of stuffed. My vocabulary appears to be getting worse as this chat goes on.
Matt: He’s obviously not a prospect, but I’d be curious to get your take on what sort of impact Yulieski Gurriel could still have in MLB. He was a potential superstar once upon a time, but now he’s unlikely to see the field until after his 32nd birthday.
Klaw: Last time I saw him (last summer?) he looked awful. Out of shape, everything slow, unrecognizable. Then I hear he looked incredible in the Caribbean World Series. So I have no idea.
Zorak: I saw you got n to it on twitter with a Mets fan about Fulmer and the Cespedes deal. First off, sorry in advance for how obnoxious my fellow Mets fans will be for the next 10 months, and second, more in abstract, does the fact that Cespedes re-signed with the Mets change the value of the deal? or is that static? Does acquiring a player and extending him make it worth paying a higher price to get him?
Klaw: The extension is separate. The Mets paid full market value for Cespedes’ services in 2016 and potentially beyond. So they gave up Fulmer for two months of Cespedes. If you’re happy with that, because they reached the WS, great. I don’t think it was great value, but it’s not as lopsided as Meisner for Clippard was.
Emily: How do you go about making the list? Do you have names on flashcards and lay them all out? How do you insure that you don’t miss anybody?
Klaw: I keep a spreadsheet with top tens, then separate notes files for each of the 30 teams where I list anyone I can think of plus anyone else the team sources i talk to bring up.
Will: Why was Jacob deGrom never on anyone’s radar?
Klaw: I’ve told the story before, but he made my Mets top 10 one year and I had Mets fans calling me an idiot or whatnot because of that. (I think they wanted Hansel Robles over him, maybe?) Then the next year he was just kind of OK, not bad certainly, but scouts were on the fence about him starting or relieving. I remember watching his major-league debut and thinking “what the holy hell is that?” because no one, not even Mets people, described THAT to me.
Zach: What has happened to Colin Moran to make him fall out of the top 100?
Klaw: Not great defensive 3b who has not hit for power. Tough profile.
Ridley Kemp: Do you think Jacob Nottingham will be able to remain behind the plate and, if not, do you think he’ll hit enough to keep a job at another position?
Klaw: I do, at least, I’d leave him there for a couple more years to see how he develops. Guy’s a bulldog and certainly athletic enough to handle it.
UGW: Mike Shawaryn a 1st round pick for you? Whats his MLB ceiling?
Klaw: Not a first rounder, although I’m going to try to see him in the spring (try, because their schedule is a joke). Tough arm action for a starter.
Ryan: What do you make of Bubba Starling at this point?
Klaw: Probably an extra OF ceiling.
Brian: What do you consider your weaknesses in scouting (e.g. overestimating or underestimating a certain skill set)?
Klaw: I definitely struggle with catcher defense and command or finesse pitchers.
Steve: How do you see Ian Happ progressing? I’ve read concerns about his bat missing a lot last season. Any concern there? Is he destined for the OF or can he handle 2B duties at the MLB level?
Klaw: Second base for me. Bat missing meaning a lot of swing and miss? He’s definitely a high walk/high strikeout guy but I don’t think he’s a guy who struggles with contact so much as a guy who likes to work the count a lot and isn’t afraid of striking out.
Scott: You are really low on Jose De Leon. Can you elaborate as to why this is? He is among the highest risers on most lists. Thanks for all the great work!
Klaw: He’s on the top 100. That’s low? He’s got a fairly limited ceiling compared to the guys above him, but has great makeup and intelligence that should carry him through some needed adjustments. It’s a pretty true fastball and he’ll have to work around that.
Jackie: So, are Seager and Buxton the frontrunners for the KLAW ROY Awards?
Klaw: Exactly. Hard to argue against either guy given skill sets and opportunities.
Larry: If AJ Reed’s floor is “.260 hitter with a slew of walks and 25-30 homers,” that strikes me as potentially deserving a higher ranking than one right around #50, no? Is that his floor? What’s his ceiling?
Klaw: For a mediocre defensive 1b, that’s about right. If he could play another position or even played first like Dom Smith, then he’d be higher.
Garth M.: Was junior Fernandez close to making the cut?
Klaw: Yes. He’s on the just missed list. I think. I may have written too much and now I don’t remember what I filed last week.
kent: So not to make this a Dom Smith chat, but if he has the power tool, why did he go the other way? I mean isn’t the tool more important than results or catering to stats?
Klaw: Prospects tend to be judged and promoted on stats, not tools. Hitting a bunch of flyouts to the right field warning track does not get you called up to double-A.
SAge: How’s the food in Beloit?
Klaw: The Culver’s is excellent. I recommend a butterburger and a concrete.
Ben: Are you not doing Periscope chats anymore from now on? We really liked them, you know.
Klaw: I got horribly sick in mid-January, and have been working around the clock since then on these rankings.
Ciscoskid: Would doing a completely separate ranking for high probability relievers have any value?
Klaw: I will do a ranking by position piece next week and will include a handful of relief prospects.
Bob: Your writing specialty (at least the money-making part) is about prospects which means you have to approach your job just like a scout for a major league club. Does it feel at all weird that your work doesn’t go into anyone’s draft analysis but is disseminated to us yahoos instead?
Klaw: Actually most of you yahoos are wonderful to talk to and deal with, online and in person. The handful of trolls I get can’t undermine that at all. I view what I do for readers as a privilege, and I’m honored that you choose to pay to read my work and to give your time to read it and come interact with me. So thank you all for your loyal readership. It does help me power through these team reports (just ten left to write!) as I’m trying not to fall asleep at the kitchen table. I’ll be back for another chat next week!