Moderator: Baseball America’s Matt Eddy was here to chat about prospects and fantasy baseball.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Matt, do you see any sort of future whatsoever at Fenway for Betts (even at DH), or are you convinced he'll be dealt before long?
Matt Eddy: This is a variation on the question from last time, when I answered that Betts probably fits best in the framework of the Reds Sox as a left fielder. Possibly a third baseman if Middlebrooks, Bogaerts and Garin Cecchini land elsewhere; maybe a center fielder depending on Jackie Bradley. Having a speedy left fielder (who can hit) will be an asset to Boston for its 81 road games, at least.
John (Chicago): Josh and JJ raved about Jacob deGrom in yesterday's podcast, but deGrom didn't make BA's list of the top 65 RHPs. Do you think he'd make that list now?
Matt Eddy: No, I don’t think deGrom would necessarily make that list, but I sure am glad I ranked him in the Mets Top 10 despite an ordinary year in 2013 in terms of ERA, WHIP, etc. DeGrom has a surefire major league arm, but his ceiling doesn’t appear to match many of the game’s top-flight prospects, unless his sinker or slider is now a consistent 70 pitch. We’ll check into that. Any Vegas fans out there have a report?
Joel (KCK): Is Wong destined to be a bench player or do you see him working things out and reclaiming the second base job in St. Louis?
Matt Eddy: I think he’s a starter, though maybe not an impact one, and a rookie struggling during his first regular exposure to big league competition is the norm, not the exception. But as to Wong’s raw ability: he’s a potentially plus hitter with baserunning chops and enough glove to be viable if he’s getting on base.
Russell (New York): What's your current assessment of Brandon Nimmo?
Matt Eddy: Be very encouraged that Nimmo’s hand injury has healed and he can get on top of the ball again. Be wary of his .479 batting average on balls in play. His secondary skills are good for his age, but his power is not otherworldly, so his rate of productivity could look a lot different once the singles stop falling. (For whatever reason, he’s also hitting .458 at home. Is this a fluke, or does he see the ball very well in St. Lucie?) The Mets have to be thrilled with the early performance. It could be a real confidence-builder going forward.
Carlos (South Bend, IN): Should I go see Blair and Shipley as much as possible while I can, or do you see them spending much of the season here? Who gets promoted first?
Matt Eddy: Get out and see them while you can. I’d expect both Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair, the D-backs’ top two picks last year, to be in the Cal League by the all-star break. Blair probably gets the bump first because he’s further ahead in innings, establishing his routine, etc.
Long line of Mariner Busts (Seattle): I have Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley in my Dynasties (like many) Should I be worried?
Matt Eddy: If you want to feel better about your predicament, just look around the league and you’ll see that every other fantasy owner is probably dealing with a serious injury to a young pitcher, too. But seriously, this wave of pitcher injuries is further reminder that you can’t take the health or success of any pitcher for granted from one year to the next. Trouble is, you need good pitchers to win, so you’ve got to keep acquiring more and more of them, armed with the knowledge that you’ll probably have to stagger them to cover for injuries.
suffering in PHX (AZ): why are towers and gibson still employed in Dbacks land?
Matt Eddy: To put fear in the Astros’ quest for a fourth straight No. 1 overall pick? I was about to say the Diamondbacks pitching can’t really be this bad, but then I clicked on Bronson Arroyo’s B-Ref player page.
Brian (Westchester, NY): every few years I ifind myself rooting against a team that in the hunt but refuses to put their best team on the field. The Pirates finally become relevent and leave Polanco in the minors to position themselves for 3 and 6 years down the road? Does MLB need to take another look at this rule?
Matt Eddy: From a fan standpoint, I’m in favor of eliminating Super 2 arbitration status if it will put an end to this annual wait-till-June-to-call-up-the-top-prospects dance. (However, waiting two weeks/20 days to call up a player so as to ensure he doesn’t exceed 172 days of service—I think that’s just good business sense.) I wonder if teams are more willing to play with a suboptimal roster in April and May now because of the expanded playoff format? What I mean is, now that one-third of teams in each league qualify for the playoffs, maybe teams view the long game as more important, especially when it affects the financial bottom line.
Jason (Mill Valley, CA): Do you think Yordano Ventura and Sonny Gray's recent success will shift MLB teams' opinions on shorter right-handers the way Russell Wilson has shifted NFL teams' views on shorter quarterbacks?
Matt Eddy: Great question. You can throw the Indians’ Danny Salazar into the mix as well, and possibly Kris Medlen. I would say it’s worth considering looking at “short” pitchers in a new light, especially now that conditions in the majors so distinctly favor pitchers, and that even taller and bulkier pitchers are getting hurt at an alarming rate. Yet the cynic in me says, Tim Lincecum won consecutive Cy Young awards in 2008-09 and still Gray lasted until the 18th pick in the 2011 draft, staying on the board longer than Danny Hultzen, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley and Chris Reed.
Shaun (KC): Any particular concern about Hunter Dozier right now? Reports have said he's stinging the ball and just hitting into unlucky outs. Could Wilmington also be hurting his current production? Think that he stays in A+ for a while or best to get him to NWA and out of pitchers paradise Wilmington?
Matt Eddy: You’re right about the Wilmington ballpark, which suppresses offense even on dry, warm days. But keep in mind the Blue Rocks, **as a team,*** are hitting just .207/.304/.296. That’s got to improve as the weather warms up. A quick stroll through the other minor league stats reveals that no other team is slugging less than about .325, save for Low-A Delmarva of the South Atlantic League (.308). FWIW they’re also based in the mid-Atlantic region. So I’d advise waiting to see how Dozier, Bubba Starling and Raul A. Mondesi perform in May before having a panic attack.
Matt Eddy: Great questions this time. Thanks for stopping by. Tune in Friday for another Prospect Hot Sheet, and another prospect chat.