Klaw: In my backyard, sounds turn around, down fall apart, in Klawchat.
Brett: I know it’s way too early to talk about players and teams in the draft, but if Atlanta were to take Kyle Lewis, would you consider that a reach?
Klaw: Yes, I would. Think there will be too much swing and miss there. He’s faced some awful pitching so far.
Craig: I’m experimenting with curing and smoking my own bacon. Have you done it and do you have tips/spice recipes?
Klaw: Yep, I’ve used the recipe in Ruhlman’s 20 several times. Very easy to do yourself, and it destroys anything you’re going to buy in any grocery store.
Philip: When are you going to come out with initial draft rankings? Thanks
Klaw: We did, in November. I don’t know offhand when the next update will be.
Chris: When are you posting breakout player column. You do realize we are all scared to tell you it is the lynchpin of our fantasy draft strategy…..
Klaw: Next week.
Jeff Chisholm: Are kids invited to this chat?
Klaw: Yes but they can’t stay the whole time.
Ryan: What would be the more optimal solution: Moncada 3B Devers 1B, or Moncada RF Devers 3B?
Klaw: Moncada is at 2b now. If he can’t stay there, he’s going to the outfield.
Yasiel’s Pug: You had SS Garrett Hampson listed as a top-100 guy coming out of Reno High School but he opted to go to college. After three years at Long Beach, he’s draft eligible again. Has he helped his stock at all? What round do you see him going in this year?
Klaw: No, he’s failed to develop physically or offensively. He’s a 2b without any punch. I’d say 5th round or later.
Timbo: Dylan Cease is already drawing raves for a back field performance. What kind of upside does he have and how would he compare to some of the high school arms in last years draft…Allard and Russell?
Klaw: He was on my top 100 and I’ll refer you there for more. He’s not doing anything different this spring.
JayMac: Trayce Thompson has always struck me as one of those guys who ends up having more success in the bigs than in the minors. You think he has a real shot at being a regular out in center?
Klaw: I don’t see why that would specifically be the case for him, but he has gradually improved over the last two years to the point where I could see him becoming a low-OBP, 20-HR regular with plus-plus defense in center. If you’re the Dodgers, that’s probably better than what you can expect from Joc, right?
dutch: Alex Bregman eventually has to be traded, right? Only open spot for him is at 3B and you say he lacks the arm for it.
Klaw: I think he ends up trade bait, given how good Altuve’s contract is for the team.
Joe: What’s the guide for eating at Okra in Phoenix?
Klaw: Everything? It was all good but I particularly liked the pork bites with collard greens, the fried chicken with cornbread, and the warm donut with salted caramel.
Evan: Hi, can we send you something for your autograph? If so where?
Klaw: To ESPN in Bristol.
CubFanBudMan: Is there much of a chance of Espinoza being the top pitching prospect a year from now? Will he see AA this year?
Klaw: Can’t imagine they push him like that – I think it’s unreasonable to expect an 18-year-old to get to AA, especially when he’s on some kind of innings limit. It is reasonable to think he will be the top pitching prospect a year from now; assuming Giolito, Glasnow, and Urias all graduate, I think Espinoza might be the favorite.
Steve: My wife doesn’t understand why you went to Harvard to become a baseball writer / scouting professional. Maybe you can better explain how you ended up where you did on your journey and why you went to Harvard? I bet there is a good story there
Klaw: Your wife thinks I went to Harvard at 17 to become a baseball writer at 33? She seems a little confused.
Bill: Do you think Edwin Diaz has mid-rotation upside and a chance to contribute in Sea during the second half?
Klaw: No, I think he’s probably a reliever in the long run, although I would leave him as a starter for now to see if he exceeds expectations. I had three separate scouts who saw him in Jackson last year tell me they put him in as a future reliever.
Martin: Is Sam Travis good enough to play the big leagues?
Klaw: I assume you’re asking now rather than “ever,” since clearly the latter is true. Travis is a pretty advanced hitter, and wasn’t that far behind his teammate at IU, Kyle Schwarber, at the time of the draft. I don’t think it’s crazy to think Travis could hit in the majors right now.
Justin: Hey Keith. Is Peter O Brien a guy? Or just a guy who puts up good box score #’s? Anything more than an average player?
Klaw: Not even an average player. 80 raw power, below-average everything else, with no position.
Gabe: As a Reds fan, I am dumbfounded by the Simon signing. The team made a morality move in moving Chapman at all costs before the season began (which I supported), but now doesn’t mind having Simon back?
Klaw: Selective memories, I guess. I hope Reds fans voice their displeasure.
Bret: How would you advise the Jays handle Aaron Sanchez? He’s obviously a safer bet in the bullpen, but certainly still has upside as a starter, which is his preference. Even beyond pure performance, though, he probably couldn’t pitch enough innings as a starter to last through the whole year even if he succeeded.
Klaw: If he wants to start, he needs to change his delivery, and until that happens, they should leave him in relief where he has had and should continue to have success.
Michael Scarn: Xander Bogaerts had a 4.3 WAR year in 2015 but didn’t show nearly the power people expected, should he attempt to change his swing/approach for more power in 2016, or if he’s already a 4 WAR player is changing his approach not a risk worth taking?
Klaw: He’ll come into power in time. He was only 22; I think the added attention everyone pays to prospects now, plus the huge debuts of guys like Trout and Harper, have skewed expectations of what prospects will do right out of the gate.
Jamie: Do you think Rymer Liriano still has a chance to be a quality player?
Klaw: I do not.
Adam: Corey Ray — real deal or role player at the big league level?
Klaw: I think he’s an average to above-average regular. Top player in the draft class now, although to some extent that’s by default.
Tim: Why would Ken Williams ban LaRoche’s son?
Klaw: I really don’t care one iota about this story. It feels like it’s none of our business.
Vin: I’ve read a lot about the Giants transitioning Christian Arroyo to the outfield because of Joe Panik already being at 2B. Do you think he could handle a corner outfield spot?
Klaw: I think that’s a terrible idea, because Arroyo’s bat isn’t going to profile as well in LF/RF, because big leaguers get hurt all the time, and because Panik is not a franchise player who’d force you to move your best prospect to another position.
Zarms22: Thoughts on/potential of Candelario? Seems to be the flavor du hour in this years Cubs camp…
Klaw: Been on the radar for at least four years now – can definitely hit, not good at 3b.
addoeh: Enjoying a Guinness during the chat?
Klaw: Heh, I’m not even wearing green, and tonight I’m making an Asian steak salad for dinner.
Drew: Do you think any stats / performance during Spring Training are noteworth? As a Nats fan, it’s hard to disregard Espinosa’s awful start at the plate and Michael Taylor increased contact rate. Is it too early to draw any conclusions from these?
Klaw: I don’t look at spring training stats at all. All noise, no signal. Good for crappy articles and blog posts and terrible front office decisions.
Aubrey: Do you think I can expect the Astros to be a better team this year than last (more like a 90+ win team)? Full year from Correa, improved bullpen, hopefully some of the young guys can improve the 1B/DH production.
Klaw: Plexiglass Principle says no. Keuchel probably won’t repeat, McCullers is hurt, McHugh looks like a good bet to regress, lineup may not/likely won’t be as healthy, etc.
Aubrey: I know the Astros are saying it’s no big deal, but shoulder stuff is always scary in a young guy like McCullers, right?
Klaw: Especially with the long arm action.
David: Barring injuries, of course, do you think Max Kepler and Sean Manaea stick with the big clubs this year? And when do you think each will be called up? Thanks
Klaw: My guess is both guys spend about 2/3 of the season in the majors. Manaea looked ready to me in my brief ST look, but given his injury history starting him slow in the minors isn’t a bad idea.
Jaron: I wouldn’t want Simon on my favorite team nor Chapman. That said, if a criminal or accused criminal is eligible to work, why are you OK with them being a janitor, but not a ball player? What makes pro athlete job any more special?
Klaw: Where did I say I was OK with them being a janitor? If you’re going to show up to argue, then skip the straw men.
Dave: How are you not fat?
Klaw: People ask this all the time. It’s not like I’m eating 3000 calories a day.
Oren: Will Ketel Marte establish himself as a solid big-league shortstop?
Klaw: I’m very curious on this one. Even the M’s own people seemed to think he’d end up at second base, which presented a problem, of course, with Cano there. But if he’s really an average defender at short, which he appeared to be in his brief MLB time last year, he’s probably a four-win player at his peak.
Mike: I see that TJ Zeuch hasn’t pitched at all for U of Pitt this season. Do you know if he’s hurt ?
Klaw: Yes, I’d heard he was hurt before the season. I don’t remember why.
Adam: 75 wins for Atlanta — too optimistic?
Klaw: I’d say so.
Dave: Spring Training stats aren’t all noise. They’re mostly noise. But things like velocity and swing rate stabilize fairly quickly
Klaw: First of all, those aren’t stats. Second, stabilization doesn’t quite mean what fans take it to mean. It’s not saying that’s the player’s true talent level, for one important thing.
Drew: Your take on the worthlessness ST stats makes sense to me. That said, is it reasonable to be excited by Giolito’s composture / comfort level taking on major league hitters? What about his baking skills?
Klaw: I’d be concerned if a kid came into a MLB game, even an exhibition, and lost the strike zone … which I’ve seen a few times. Anecdotally speaking, it doesn’t generally end well. Also, Marzipan told me that Lucas’s baking has really improved lately.
Rob: The Mets cutting Tejada makes no sense to me if plan A at SS is an injured Asdrubal. Not a big deal, but it was nice to finally have some depth. What’s the rationale? Still pinching pennies? Faith in Reynolds as a backup? They’re just stuck in a roster jam after the terrible De Aza signing?
Klaw: Wonder if they felt he was hobbled by the aftereffects of the attempted murder by Chase Utley.
Wilson: How far will Alec Hansen fall in the draft?
Klaw: Going to depend on his medicals, I think, which we’ll likely hear nothing about. Even if he continues to have a lousy spring, at some point, maybe in the sandwich round, a team will take a shot at him if they think he’s at all fixable or if it’s an elbow issue they believe can be treated.
AJ: Hey Keith I’ve been intrigued by Sam Coonrod. Small sample size, but his stuff looked really good this spring and he had a good year in A ball. What are your thoughts on him from what you’ve seen? Projection?
Klaw: Reliever. Good stuff, reliever delivery and command.
Dave: Does the organization a prospect is in change your scouting report? For instance a guy might be a fringy defender at a position but he’s a Cardinals farm hand, so you give him the benefit of the doubt that they’ll coach him up?
Klaw: No, never, for the very simple reason that any player can be traded at any time.
Josh: The Padres are starting Margot in AAA. Is that a little aggressive?
Klaw: He’s a fairly advanced hitter. I don’t think it’s aggressive and it sets him up to see the majors midyear.
Dave: KLAW: Thanks for the chat. Your Braves Farm Team report on Swanson and Albies seemed to imply that both had mediocre arms. Which of the two is more likely to be defensively effective at short.
Klaw: I wouldn’t say mediocre, just not plus. I’d leave them both at short and let one or the other play himself off it. Swanson is probably the eventual winner but I think it’s something like 60/40.
Bucky: JD seems quite confident that Ian Desmond will be a plus OF. Have you any thoughts one way or another?
Klaw: Defensively? I truly have no idea. Plus, right out of the chute, would be surprising but not unprecedented. I’m more concerned about his bat, and about what his presence means for Profar, Gallo, Mazara, and Brinson.
Edmund: Is it too early to be encouraged by what we’ve seen from Taillon post-layoff?
Klaw: Not at all. It’s encouraging to have him healthy and on a mound, period.
Chris: Why would the Jays simply ignore Sanchez’s need to lengthen his stride to be a successful SP? You have made this point in the past and I’m wondering what could be preventing the club from addressing it.
Klaw: Perhaps the player doesn’t want to change.
Mike: Have you heard anything on where Lazaro Armentaros may end up ?
Klaw: Nothing. He’s been so overhyped anyway that I’m much more interested in other names.
Dave: Considering that Anthony Alford performed so well despite taking significant time off, do you think he’s a candidate to be moved aggressively and challenged, or does he need substantial seasoning to make up for the missed reps?
Klaw: I wouldn’t consider his history so much as his present performance. If they send him back to high-A, and he rakes, they should be prepared to move him up to AA quickly. Let his bat tell you where he needs to play. Don’t hold him back somewhere just because he’s inexperienced.
Paul: Will I ever see a two way player in my life time? As we understand better how our bodies work, as athletes know more about nutrition and preparation, I would think that a franchise would give it a try no? Thanks
Klaw: As baseball becomes increasingly specialized and players become better, the baseline skill level to do any one thing at a major-league level keeps getting higher. That’s why we won’t see two-way players. It’s why pitchers shouldn’t hit (and people who say pitchers who don’t hit are only playing half the game are complete idiots). It’s also why we’re unlikely to see another .400 hitter, or see other records smashed aside from the one-time effect of expansion years.
Dave: That’s a rather odd way to put things – Velocity and Swing Rate aren’t statistics. And while many people misunderstand the meaning of various statistical terms, the fact remains that Spring Training stats aren’t all noise. There is some amount of signal there and parsing it out leads to better understanding of player performance.
Klaw: This is not a “fact.” You’re dealing with fewer than 30 games of performance, much of it against competition that is well below what the same players would face in April through September. You’re wasting your time looking for signal when 20% of the player’s at bats might have come against double-A arms.
KC: Friend of mine has a son who is a junior in high school. Tops out at 88, but is 6’5′, 250. He’s already been scouted by pro scouts who told his Dad that he has a future and was offered numerous D1 full rides before his first varsity game. Is that normal because he’s projectable?
Klaw: Is he projectable? At 6’5″, 250, “projecting” would mean that he ends up weighing, what, 280?
J: Friedman’s downplaying it, but should LA be concerned about Kazmir’s diminished velocity?
Klaw: I’d be concerned if he’s still throwing like that in the last week of March. I think I remember that John Lackey was always a slow starter for spring velocity.
Dave: Is the league ever going to have a pre-draft workout similar to the NFL combine just so they can get medical reports on the top prospects?
Klaw: I know there’s movement in that direction on all sides, but the league and the union will have to agree on specifics in the next CBA negotiation and get the NCAA to agree to let HS players attend too.
Josh: In your prospect write-up of Hunter Renfroe, I believe you said he had a 4A bat to go with plus tools everywhere else. Does that equal a regular or just a 4th OF?
Klaw: I felt like it puts him on the fence (and thus me too). He might hit just enough to be a regular, and he might fall just short and be a 4th OF. He’s right at that inflection point for me, although if forced to choose I’d say 4th OF.
Rob: Any updates on Nick Howard or Jonathan Crawford for the Reds? Have not seen or heard their names once this spring.
Klaw: Nick Howard had the yips last year and I would probably forget about him for now.
Dave: Is there any reason to think Tyler Duffey’s last 9 starts was more than just a good run?
Klaw: Glass half full says his much-improved K% was the result of a better CB than he’d ever had before, I think. Glass half empty (like ZiPS) says he’s probably the same guy he was all through his minor league career. I tend toward the latter.
Clarence: I know you’re high on E Rodriguez and the Baws Joe Ross – any other non-prospect pitchers you think could make the leap to legit #2(ish) this year?
Klaw: That’ll be in the breakout column. I am indeed high on both of those guys. Ross is legit – bet on the athletes.
A: Hi! A few weeks ago you seemed adamant the Phillies wouldn’t take Groome at 1.1- is this a talent thing, a high school pitcher thing, or something else?
Klaw: All of the above. Particularly do not think they’ll take a HS pitcher at 1-1, though. It goes against draft history and the specific philosophies of the new regime. If we were talking Brady Aiken – who was historically good at the time of the draft – that might be different, but there is no Aiken in this draft, much less a Harper or Strasburg.
Tim: Chris Colabello’s bat: fluke or legit?
Bucky: Should Rangers trade Lew Brinson (and lesser pieces) for Derek Norris + Tyson Ross?
Klaw: No. Brinson’s upside is too big, Ross’s injury risk and command problems are too big, and Norris isn’t a very good defensive catcher anyway.
Adam: Will Buddy Reed fall to #20 in the draft?
Klaw: Possible but unlikely given interest in him and paucity of good college bats. I am out on that one – I don’t think he can hit.
Michael Scarn: How many teams in the AL do you think have at least a 10% chance at making the playoffs?
Klaw: Is twelve too many? I don’t think Oakland and Baltimore do. Having a hard time giving the White Sox much of a shot in that division, even though I don’t think they’re a bad team at all – just that I don’t think (top of my head) they finish first or second. Joe Sheehan had a good piece on the Angels being fool’s gold this year. Can you really scratch anyone else, if you can even scratch all of those teams?
Kent: Do you think a player would develop the same regardless of when they sign? Would Karston Whitson still have been a bust if he signed with Padres? On the other hand would the Padres have developed Connor Jones to the same level he is currently at?
Klaw: No, I don’t think they would develop the same. Tyler Matzek would have had a different (and I think better) career had he gone to a club that didn’t rework his delivery, for one example. Kevin Gausman would be an established big league starter today had he not gone to a club that decided to dick around with his place on the rubber. (Pun not intended.) But Whitson or Dylan Bundy may have been destined for injury no matter what; Bundy was worked too hard in high school and perhaps the Orioles couldn’t have prevented what’s happened since 2012.
Tim A.: Worst FA signing of the off season?
Klaw: 1. Chris Davis. 2. Ian Kennedy. 3. Wei-Yin Chen.
Dan: Brandon Belt have 25-HR potential? Or is he going to continue to hover around 20?
Klaw: Feel like he’s going to hover around 20 but with solid avg/obp/2b. Strong enough for more power, but I’m afraid if he tries to pull the ball more he may give up too much contact.
R,: Should Marc Brakeman be developed as a artered or let him blow through the system as a reliever?
Klaw: Reliever. Assuming he doesn’t blow up like most Stanford pitchers do. But it’s OK – Coach Marquess says pitchers always come back from TJ surgery, sometimes better than before!
Astros410: Who do you think has a better 2016: Derek Holland or Trevor Bauer?
Klaw: Bauer. Never going to be the pitcher the UCLA stat line might have indicated, still plenty of elements there for an above-average major-league starter.
Derek Harvey: What’s one piece of advice you wish you got on day one of your scouting career?
Klaw: Slow it down. Easy to try to draw conclusions from the first thing you see in a player, but the more you see (and, in my case, the more you talk to others), the more refined your evaluation gets.
Mike: Have you seen Nolan Jones yet? Thoughts?
Klaw: I’ll see the local kids in April. Saw him last summer and loved him, but the schools around here are just getting started.
Scott: Can Aledmis Diaz help the Cards at SS for even a little while?
Klaw: Unlikely but not impossible.
Ian: Re: Blue Jays. Is Kevin Pillar actually a 4 WAR player, and if not, where will his value decrease?
Klaw: I have a hard time with players whose total value is that wrapped up in defensive metrics that we know lack the precision of offensive metrics. I don’t think Kevin Kiermaier is actually a top ten player in the AL either.
Josh: What are your thoughts on AJ Preller after a year-plus on the job? Safe to say that with a lot of early draft picks and ownership go-ahead to spend big internationally, this is a big summer for him?
Klaw: I think this is the year where he gets to do it his way, not ownership’s way. I’m very eager to see what he does now.
Ed: Why do most high school (and even college) players not have very good change ups. Seems like an essential pitch that someone would start working on even before trying to throw a breaking ball. I always find it odd how many pitchers need to develop it in the minors after they are drafted.
Klaw: Wild guess – because a slider will miss more bats at those levels. I don’t coach, but when friends have asked me to talk to their kids who pitch, the first thing I always do is ask if they throw a changeup, and then show them a basic grip. Little League pitchers shouldn’t throw anything but fastballs and changeups, and the latter is relatively easy to teach.
Todd: How likely do you think Brett Phillips is to get called up sometime in 2016?
Klaw: Extremely likely, but not till midyear or so.
Scott of Lincolnshire: Ever do one of those DNA tests to see what your genetic makeup is?
Klaw: No although I’d be very curious. I can’t trace my lineage very far back – three generations ago, almost everyone’s still in Europe, 75% of them in Italy and the rest in the UK/Ireland, I think. Beyond that, I have no idea.
Adam: Mike Foltynewicz — starter / long reliever / setup / closer?
Klaw: Reliever for now. Also better for helping him return from the injury (thoracic outlet syndrome?).
Brian Holland: Excited or not about return of Belly?
Klaw: Eh. Liked them during their brief peak, but I can’t say I’m running out to buy tickets to see them. How many good songs did they really have? FOur?
Scrapper: Is Maikel Franco a likely star?
Klaw: Think he’s a good player, not a likely star. He’s improved a lot over the last year, though.
Ian: RE: Pillar. My question was more in regards to whether or not he’s actually capable of a .310-.320 OBP going forward. Seems to me that that OBP will more than suffice, considering his glove.
Klaw: I think he can do that again, but I’m saying that the glove may not be as valuable as the advanced metrics indicate.
Roman: You think Drew Hutchison needs a change of scenery? Stuff still looks pretty good. Just needs to get out of the AL East?
Klaw: Needs his slider back. Otherwise he’s just a fifth starter.
Dave: Is Domingo Santana likely to make enough contact to be a solid regular?
Klaw: I don’t think so. He reminds me of a lot of players who had huge tools but either never had the OBPs or contact rates to be regulars, or didn’t get there till later in their careers. Doesn’t hurt Milwaukee to try him out, though. He’s better than Liriano.
Andy: How valuable is Profar if he shows himself to be healthy?
Klaw: I think valuable enough to be an above-average regular if he got the chance this year. His bat speed is intact. His eye is still good. He’s having no trouble making contact. And it sounds like he’s even fielding and throwing fine. Free Jurickson.
Klaw: And that’s all for this week. I’ll be at UVA Friday afternoon, then in Florida for the last week and a half or so of spring training. Next week’s chat may be on a different day to work around my travel. Thanks as always for all of your questions and for bearing with me on the time change!