Klawchat 6/9/17.

I ranked all the main Leda clones on Orphan Black for BBC America ahead of the season premiere tomorrow night. Last call for Clone Club!

Keith Law: I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert. It’s Klawchat.

Ken: Please explain why Austin Beck is seen as the superior prospect to Jaren Kendall? They appear to have similar general strengths and weaknesses, but Kendall has 3 years in the SEC and Beck has missed a summer and reportedly has minimal experience of competing against elite competition in his age group. Is it simply because Beck’s ceiling is considerably higher?
Keith Law: There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll give it a shot. One, they don’t have similar strengths and weaknesses to begin with, but let’s assume they did. Two, Kendall has 3 years in the SEC … of huge strikeout rates and lack of adjustments. It’s often easier to dream on the kid who hasn’t been challenged than the one who has and has struggled. Three, scouts have major concerns about the mechanics of Kendall’s swing, but not Beck’s. I do have questions about Beck – you named some; I think there’s effort to his game, even the ++ bat speed – but how can we overlook how often Kendall strikes out, and specifically swings and misses, against decent competition?

cj: if the braves draft McKay, they wouldn’t put him in RF, and Acuna in LF would they? Shouldn’t that be flipped the other way?
Keith Law: McKay is a first baseman, and I think there’s maybe a 2% chance he gets to Atlanta (pick 5) anyway. BTW, I should have said this up front, but I’m going to focus on draft questions today.

Erix: Hey Keith!

Everyone preaches taking best player available, but one often hears that a team is focused on college bats, or prep righties, or some other subset. Does this fly in the face of BPA or does it just suggest that’s where they think the best players are?
Keith Law: The latter. Hey, we’d like to get a college bat, but if the best player available isn’t one, then we won’t force it.

Sean: Grabs popcorn, waits for the deluge of questions about Jordan Adell. Should be fun.
Keith Law: I see one. I don’t really understand this comment.

Kyle: Is your ranking of Adell based more heavily on your own scouting? Just trying to reconcile seeing him at 50 while showing up at 9 on the mock. Are the Brewers outliers in their evaluation of him? Thanks!
Keith Law: Based more than anything on comments from scouts and crosscheckers who were off him early this spring – and who say his big HR total is a reflection of a tiny home park. But bear in mind my rankings and my mocks are not connected in any way.

Jim: What’s your take on the Oregon State – Heimlich situation? How will MLB offices deal with it?
Keith Law: A few teams have already told me they took his magnet off their draft boards. My guess is someone takes him on day three, then decides whether to sign him after seeing what PR backlash there is and what the kid says to them in person afterwards. He hasn’t commented publicly; I don’t know if he’s spoken to any scouts or teams since the news broke. And I’m loath to say too much because of how sensitive the subject is, but I wouldn’t draft him, period.

Mike: This might sound like a dumb question but humor me. Can you explain to me why left on left/right on right is a good pitching matchup?
Keith Law: Hitters fare better against pitchers from the other side because they can see the ball earlier out of the pitcher’s hand.

Jake: Odds that Estevan Florial is a top 100 prospect next March?
Keith Law: Low.

Lilith: Do you have any idea who the Reds might have interest in at 32 or 38?
Keith Law: Not really. It’s like every year – they want some HS overslot candidate to fall.

Mac: Do you think players should have to declare for the draft? That would seem to clear up all the signability issues that makes a complicate decision even more complicated.
Keith Law: No, because the NCAA would find a way to use that to fuck players over.

David: I know it varies from team to team. So on average how many amateur scouts, crosscheckers, and the like do teams generally employ?
Keith Law: 12-14 area guys, 3-6 crosscheckers (can include regional or just national), a director, maybe a few others like an assistant director or a special assignment scout who reports to the GM but sees amateurs in the spring.

Andy: Did McIlwain cost the SC coach his job? He was fired for not making the NCAA tourney. Scouting the stat line only, it looks like the weakest position was CF. The coach probably would have spent more time recruiting or stabilizing that position if he didn’t have a QB penciled in there.
Keith Law: That was one of many problems with Holbrook – working Clarke Schmidt as hard as he did, followed by a Schmidt TJ, couldn’t have helped matters on or off the field.

Andy: Would you prefer that we take finished copies of your book to a local library for donation, or to an independent bookseller to resell?
Keith Law: The library. I don’t like the idea that there’s a financial threshold for readers – not everyone can spend liberally on books. Thank you for asking, BTW.

ILLINIcheid: What do you think is causing the increase in home runs? It can’t possibly be primarily due to launch angle.

If the ball has been juiced, how is that possible? Isn’t there a specific compression the balls have to adhere to? I’m sure pitchers who have been hit in the head by line drives would be unhappy to learn about a juiced ball.
Keith Law: Why can’t it be due primarily to launch angle, or just generally to attempts to swing for the fences more?

Mike: Does Andruw Jones ever get elected to the HoF? Baseball-Reference has a top 4 similarity score to Dale Murphy, Jose Canseco, Joe Carter and Jim Edmonds.
Keith Law: Don’t think so but he will get some support, more than Edmonds (one and done) did.

Michael: Can the Twins really pass on Hunter Greene? As a fan, I’m not as excited about the other options.
Keith Law: Can and I think will.

Corbett: How do negotiations happen after a player is picked? Do agents let teams know if they’re seeking an over slot deal before the draft?
Keith Law: Yeah, there’s a lot of discussion before the draft, and a lot of players have already agreed to terms when they’re picked. It’s not permitted, but everyone does it, so MLB can’t enforce the rules. It’s why I advocate allowing teams to negotiate with players or agents beforehand – they’re doing it anyway, you’ll never stop it, so force it out from the shadows.

Dave: Have you heard about the Kooks Burrito uproar in Portland? Is cultural appropriation of food a real thing? I had never heard of this before.
Keith Law: Talk about political correctness run amok. It’s about as stupid a food non-troversy as I can remember seeing. Unless those two women were doing something really insensitive in their marketing or branding, I don’t understand this at all. Rick Bayliss is one of the most important chefs of Mexican cuisine in the world, and he’s not Mexican. (He’s Skip’s brother.) He’s done as much to popularize regional Mexican cooking and educate American palates on it as anybody. The idea that this would somehow be ‘appropriation’ is absurd. It’s like saying American authors can’t write fiction because Japanese and British authors did it first.

Tom L: Also, any chance you’ll be making a visit to Powell’s here in Portland?
Keith Law: Nope. Wonderful store, but they never asked.

Michael: This may be a question with an obvious answer, but what do teams do with the 40+ new players they acquire every year (40 round draft and intn’l signings)? If they stick them on a rookie league team (how many of those does each team have anyway) – then the guys from the prior year have to move up to A, AA, etc. right? Do they release 40-ish players each year who are not even org guys?
Keith Law: They release a bunch of guys when extended spring ends, on top of releases at the end of March.

Ray Grace: I know it’s a small sample size but where in the hell did Chris Taylor come from? Did his scouting report when drafted give any hit that he could turn into this type of hitter?
Keith Law: Small sample size. I don’t think he’s turned into anything.

PhillyJake: In your last mock you had the Pirates taking J.B. Bukauskas. I don’t see it. They usually go for the six and a half foot (give or take an inch) pitchers, Bukauskas is only 6’0″. What’s different about this guy?
Keith Law: “I don’t see it” doesn’t work as an argument unless you’ve been talking to sources about the draft.

Mike M: Did you think Devers would be this good in AA right away?
Keith Law: I’ve ranked him very highly for two-plus years, putting him over Moncada both years they’ve been on the the top 100.
Keith Law: So, yes, I would say I expected him to be good fast. (Sorry for the lag there – my PC blue-screened.)

Jim: Do you think the Mets would take Jake Burger at 20? And do you think he’s too fat for third?
Keith Law: I think he’d be on their list, but not necessarily their first choice, and he’s not fat, but he’s going to end up at 1b.

Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: Is there any way to see past newsletters? I wanted to read the anxiety one you wrote three weeks ago but for some reason I wasn’t getting the emails.
Keith Law: yes, on the signup page you can see some past newsletter, including the one you want.

JP: Based solely on climate, culture, and politics, where would you choose to live (domestically and internationally)?
Keith Law: Italy. Good weather. Great people. Amazing food. Government too unstable and incompetent to do much harm.

Len: So let’s assume the top 4 is Wright, Greene, Gore, McKay like most expect. Atlanta would take Lewis, right? I hope they don’t get cute again and try to float someone when it would be really tough to do for them this year.
Keith Law: That is my current top 5. Beck 6, then I think Haseley or Smith 7.

Matt : From what you’ve heard, are Seth Romero’s issues related more to immaturity or is he, for lack of a better phrase, a bad guy.
Keith Law: More than immaturity. Also, that’s not a great delivery.

Brett: If someone asked you to do a commencement speech, would you? Are you afraid of public speaking, or has your time on TV mitigated that?
Keith Law: Done plenty of public speaking – including another one at Pitch Talks in Toronto on 6/26, tix still available! – and have never been “afraid” of it. I’ll be more anxious right before I start, and then once it begins, I get extremely focused and will always lose track of time. I did this once in Boston to a CMU alumni group, thought I had talked for about 20 minutes, and was told over an hour had gone by.

Brad: Any chance of you coming to the Tattered Cover out here in Denver for a book signing? It was a great read, by the way – I gave it to my dad when he was recuperating from back surgery.
Keith Law: Glad you enjoyed it. All scheduled book signings have come from stores or venues contacting HarperCollins to invite me. If that happens, I can try to work it into my schedule (usually tied into a trip I’m taking for another reason). I’ll be at Books & Books in Miami the day before the Futures Game, for example.

Marshall MN: Despite wanting Greene to the Twins, I have come to accept taking Wright #1 overall. What level do you seem him starting out at after signing, High-A ball?
Keith Law: I would expect him to start 2018 in high-A. He probably won’t pitch much this summer.

Macabe : Where do you think Stanford SS Nico Hoerner gets drafted next year? Looks like he has had success but I don’t really know what evaluators think of him at the next level
Keith Law: I can’t think about next year’s draft until I’ve survived this one.

Hey J.P.: Lamonte Wade, Brandon Lowe, or Mike Shawryn on your next top 100 list?
Keith Law: No.

Bret: How much does Nick Allen’s height concern you? It may be recency bias, but my instinct is that worrying about a player’s height tends to be a bit overblown?
Keith Law: It doesn’t. Dude can hit and can play short. He’s fine.

j : Thoughts on Jordan Montgomery? He’s looked pretty solid here early on
Keith Law: It’s extremely average stuff. I expect the K rate to decline with more looks. He’ll have to cut the walk rate to compensate.

Phils Guy: When my twin sons were in middle school, I had to verbally twist my pediatrician’s to get the Gardasil regimen started. Parents of boys, please insist that your pre-teen sons get vaccinated for HSV, It may not happen if you don’t force the issue.
Keith Law: Our daughter’s doctors – PCP and metabolic specialist – both encouraged us to get her the HPV vaccine when she turned 11 (which she *just* did so we haven’t gone yet). It’s really weird that they do so for girls but not boys.

Andy: It seems like Kendall has a really high ceiling, and a seemingly more possible floor of never making the majors. Does he have like a Cameron Maybin middle, ending up as a good fielder with huge Ks, but still a serviceable player?
Keith Law: That’s a reasonable point of view.

cj: Can you tell me about Bubba Thomson? Is he a potential top 10 so a team can go overslot later?
Keith Law: Not a potential top 10. I have him ranked right around where I think he’ll go (coincidence), in the 20s.

FG: how many of the top 50 draft prospects do you get to scout in person?
Keith Law: In a typical year, maybe 30-35. This year, half that, because my book came out during draft season.

PhillyJake: I realize I don’t see it doesn’t work as an argument. Which is why I asked what different about this guy? Or, what is it they like about him to break their pattern in terms of pitchers they draft?
Keith Law: I don’t know their specific thinking, but he’s a three-year performer who will show three above average pitches.

Len: Can you give us an update on your mock schedule between now and the draft?
Keith Law: Next one posts Sunday morning and we will keep that file ‘live’ till the draft, editing that rather than rewriting the whole thing.

Sam: Still thinking Nick Allen for the Cubs? Would they save any money for high-ceiling options at #30?
Keith Law: I didn’t have them with Allen in my last mock. I have heard they would like to pair up those picks (27 and 29), go over slot with one and under with the other, to try to nab a top 15 talent who fell due to bonus demands/college commitment.

Chris: Why is a quiche not a pie?
Keith Law: It’s a pie. A custard pie.

Ed: Non Draft Question – Eddie Butler has looked decent with the Cubs, albeit a SSS and not pitching a mile above sea level. Have you seen anything different in his delivery that might help him have more success going forward?
Keith Law: I think it’s more that his shoulder is finally healthy again and he’s not pitching in Denver.

Marshall MN: At what spot in this draft does a team stop scouting Wright/Greene/McKay? It seems like by pick 6 or 7 that there isn
Keith Law: Yes, teams in that 6-10 range have told me they expect those three guys to be gone.

Mike: Jack Flaherty, who you call a possible #2 starter, has opened his time in AAA with two solid starts. How far is he from being ready for a ML rotation?
Keith Law: He could get a cup of coffee in September but it’s more realistic to think he’ll be up nextx spring.

Hey J.P.: Otani a two way player in the majors? And either way, how would he fare if he was draft eligible?
Keith Law: No, pitcher only.

Ed: Are the Cubs still on Luis Gonzalez? Seems like a lot of risk – HS guy playing in altitude with limited upside. Any chance they look at pitching or do they continue to do what they’ve been good at – picking bats? Thanks!
Keith Law: Luis Gonzalez is at UNM. You’re (possibly) confusing him with Jacob Gonzalez, whose father Luis played for the Dbacks, who is an Arizona HS kid.

Mike: Is it possible the Addison Russell accusations are completely false?
Keith Law: Possible, sure. Likely, no. False accusation rates for domestic and sexual assault are in the single digits.

Dan: Like many others, you had Smoak as a top prospect. Then he spent the next seven years looking like a bust. Now he’s suddenly become one of the top 1B in the AL. What’s happened?
Keith Law: I told him he was making me look bad, and he apologized and said he’d take care of it.

preston: non draft question. Newcomb starts tomorrow. if you are Atl, do you release Bartolo and go with Newcomb the remainder of the year?
Keith Law: I don’t see why we should expect Newcomb to succeed given his chronically high walk rates throughout the minors, including AAA.

Andy: Honestly, the second worst part of the OSU pitcher’s story (behind the actions) is that most of the family took his side. How does someone do that? It isn’t like it’s a he said-she said, like sexual assault. He pleaded guilty. Grade 20 family he’s from.
Keith Law: You mean like the Duggar family. And Mike Huckabee, the soi-disant “christian” who defended the molester.

Josh: You had positive things to say about Yordan Alvarez before the season. Have you gotten any scouting reports since he started tearing up Low A?
Keith Law: Just that he’s overmatching the league. I wish he were in high-A because Buies Creek is in town this weekend. (Also, I’m calling them “Boo-Ya’s Creek” until someone corrects me.)

Brian: What do you think about Louisville taking the result of the play ( ground ball out to ss) and the run instead of the catcher’s interference vs UK today? If they took the interference it would’ve been bases loaded, 1 out (U of L up 1-0) instead it was runner on 3rd, 2 outs (2-0). Good Strategy or No?
Keith Law: Would depend on who was up next. You pretty much always trade an out for a run on offense unless you’re trailing by a lot, right?

Ethan: Any idea what time the signing in Harrisburg next week is?
Keith Law: It’s next month, not next week.

Nick: This may be a dumb question, but do you find joy/happiness from your job? I know many people feel they would, but I’m curious if it plays out that way. While scouting and writing about baseball seems to be many peoples’ dream, I am wondering if you still view it in such a positive light. Thanks for all the work you do.
Keith Law: I do, definitely, but it is also very much a job. And there are times when I am doing something (sitting or standing at a HS game, watching a kid who’s not as good as advertised, in cold or wet weather) that I wouldn’t be doing if it weren’t an obligation.

Brett: Have you ever scouted internationally? If so, what countries have you been to?
Keith Law: I’ve been to the DR and Taiwan, once each, and would barely call it scouting. I’ve got no interest in that lifestyle – your trips are long and grueling.

Drew Dog: With the “Trea Turner rule” now changed, what is stopping a team from asking a top 3 picking team to draft a guy, then trading them minor or MLB talent immediately after?
Keith Law: It’s not immediate – it’s five months – and a lot can happen in the interim.

Drew Dog: Why do so many UVA pitchers appear to bust? Tyler Wilson, D Hultzen, Nick Howard, Branden Kline…
Keith Law: Because they push everyone to have the same delivery, and that doesn’t work. I believe Javier Lopez is still their all-time leader in pitching WAR.

Dustin: Keith, who are you hearing connected to Houston at #15? So far I’ve seen Hiura, Baz, and Peterson
Keith Law: I believe I’ve mentioned all three of them with Houston in past mocks.

Fonz: What are your thoughts on Tarik Skubal? And will he be offered enough to forgo another year in school to rebuild his stock?
Keith Law: He’s throwing bullpens for teams now, but no one ever scouted him in a game (he had TJ on 4/20/16) so unless he’s willing to take a deep discount he may be better off either 1) heading to school or 2) trying to pitch somewhere like the Cape this summer to see if a team drafts him late and will go over slot for him.

Oren: Revisiting last year’s draft, what have you heard about Cal Quantrill? His numbers look okay, but I know he’s in a bit of a hitter’s league. What are the scouting reports saying? Does he look anything close to the guy he was when he was seen as a 1-1 candidate?
Keith Law: I’ve heard yes, he has, but he’s also barely two years off TJ and has outings where he doesn’t have his command.

Matt: I don’t think it applies here to the Addison Russell case because they are married, but it appears the rates of false accusations amongst professional athletes in SA/DV cases is higher than the general population given their income levels (and therefore monetary value to gain). Isnt it best to wait for the facts (when possible) before permanently changing opinions on players?
Keith Law: I’d like to see proof of that claim about such false accusations. You mention the monetary gain to claimants, but ignore the vitriol they face from mouthbreathing fans who will call them sluts or golddiggers, who’ll dox them, who’ll go after their jobs, and so on. Just look at what Patrick Kane’s victim went through.

Brett: Kind of piggy backing off of Nick’s question, do you ever sit back at night and watch a baseball game for pure enjoyment?
Keith Law: Never. Baseball is work. If I do something that isn’t work, it won’t be baseball.

Wrong Verb: Speaking of trading newly drafted players, what is the reason why MLB won’t allow draft picks to be traded?
Keith Law: The fear that small market teams would choose to trade picks rather than pay high bonuses – and that agents would use that as leverage. I think those are overblown; small market teams have the most to gain from gathering picks and paying to add amateur talent at the draft’s discounted prices.

Ed: Is Pearson’s stock getting too high for him to fall to the Cubs?
Keith Law: I have heard Nate Pearson has a deal in the 21-26 range.

Greg: Keith, how much did injuries impact your Tristian Beck ranking? I’ve read others say he’s a first-round talent, do you agree?
Keith Law: He was on my list as a potential first-round talent coming into the spring, but never pitched. I don’t see how you can handwave away a back injury for a pitcher.

Matt: You don’t watch the World Series unless you get paid?
Keith Law: You think I’m paid by the game?

Greg: Signability issues with Brady McConnell?
Keith Law: He won’t come cheap. Kind of kid who could end up a first rounder in 3 years if he goes to school and performs at the plate, but hasn’t performed enough this year and of course there’s the risk he goes to school and flops.

Hank: Hey Keith, can you clarify this for me — Your Shane Baz write up mentions three plus pitches but not much deception. Does the lack of deception not have an impact on the grade of the pitches?
Keith Law: Not to be flippant, but if it impacted the pitch grades, I would have said so. You can throw 98, and that’s a plus fastball, but if hitters square it up (Mark Appel comes to mind), then there’s a reason – lack of movement, lack of deception, lack of command – and that’s a separate line item.

Rick C: So I take it Tristan Beck is a lesser pitcher than Kolby Allard? And/or is his back injury more serious?
Keith Law: Allard pitched that spring; I saw him.

Brett: I’m assuming, assuming, that you have your work emails on your phone. Assuming you do, how do you balance that with your home life. Do you find it hard, when spending time with your wife and daughter, to not peak at your emails? I struggle with that as a professional and as a Father.
Keith Law: Absolutely. Especially this time of year. There’s always another person looking for me. I get so many inbound messages through various platforms that I have stopped responding to most of them because I just don’t have the time.

Hank: Geez man, just asking a question. Not really sure why you need the tough guy mantra when people are asking questions.
Keith Law: Yes, that’s how people describe me, a real “tough guy.”

Jason: Had he been stateside and eligible, where would Vlad Jr. fall?
Keith Law: Top ten guy, don’t think he would have been 1-1 (as some others have asked in the queue) because of body type and positional question. Very, very hard to compare Latin American kids to US kids because of different ages (sign at 16 internationally, usually 18 here) and levels of competition.

Nick: Keith, halfway through your book and enjoying it thoroughly. The amount of historical baseball queries is pretty impressive; do you pull each of those points as you write, or can you outsource that part to someone else?
Keith Law: I did most of them myself, while writing, but Meredith Wills helped quite a bit too.

satya: who are some of the high school kids who teams could try to push down?
Keith Law: Carlson, Enlow, Baz, Jennings (heard maybe 30 to Texas), Hurt, Heatherly, Corry.

Kevin: Loved your Orphan Black list. I would probably argue that Allison is underrated because she’s a great character. Her storylines over the last year hurt her, though. She’s every bit the survivor that Sarah is.
Keith Law: They all are, I think, but her storylines have always been the worst IMO. It’s a great performance by Maslany – Alison is like this strange mix of Leah Remini and young Valerie Bertinelli – but the writers too often put her into ridiculous situations.

Brad: It would seem to me Gore has just as much upside as Lewis and possibly even Green. Is he under serious consideration at 1-1?
Keith Law: He doesn’t have as much upside as Greene, at all, and I have heard he’s on the Twins’ longlist at 1 but not short list.

Michael: Why did you decide to inject race into that Hunter Greene article?
Keith Law: If you know Greene at all, you know this is an issue that’s extremely important to him. You don’t know Greene, obviously, but you just wanted to say something really stupid.

Randy: With the two extra picks (and therefore more money) from the Cardinals, if Baz is available at 15 do you see the Astros drafting him, giving him over slot money, and then drafting easy to sign college seniors with the Cardinals picks?
Keith Law: There’s a rumor that Baz has a big deal in place somewhere, and what you described was my guess. It’s just speculation, though.

Joe: Have you had many women scoping you out on the book tour?
Keith Law: Depends on whether you’re telling my wife.

Bob: Vin Scully never watched a game he wasn’t broadcasting, in person or on TV. No one ever accused him of not liking baseball. You’re in good company.
Keith Law: I’ll take that, even if I can’t hold a candle to Vin.
Keith Law: That’s all for this week. I plan to chat on Monday afternoon predraft and then some time on Tuesday once we’re through round 5 or so to recap. I’m home Monday night, so I’ll react to each pick via ESPN’s Shortstop app (which kicks to Twitter too) and may do a Google Hangout with Eric Longenhagen if we can make the tech work and I don’t bluescreen again. Thank you as always for all of your questions.


  1. Missed the chat notice today (my bad), so in case you see this: Can you ever imagine a MLB going the route of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals — who have almost no scouting department, instead predominantly relying on published scouting reports and media mock drafts?

  2. What is the ESPN Shortstop App?

    • It’s what I use to enter tweet-like comments that show up on ESPN.com first and appear on Twitter with a link if the comment is over 140 characters. I’m going to find out exactly where you can see this stuff – it’s not where I thought it was.


  1. […] Pearson is rumored to have a deal in place with a team drafting 21-26 according to Law in his chat. Pearson did a Q&A session with MLB Daily […]