Author Archive

Called Up: Austin Riley

Yesterday, the Braves called up Austin Riley, who we ranked second in their system and 33rd in our Top 100. He continued his blazing hot 2019, going 1-for-3 in his big league debut last night, including a home run that was hit 109 mph off the bat. He put up insane numbers at Triple-A in 37 games this year, hitting 15 homers and posting a 160 wRC+ with an unlucky .286 BABIP given his quality of contact.

I’ve been in to see him a few times this spring and captured a homer (102.1 mph off the bat, 32 degrees, 405.3 feet, a homer to straight-away center field) and an off-balance but well-struck double to the pull gap in glorious 1000 frames per second below. You can reference these swings (particularly the first) as an example of the actualized version of Riley’s swing from the mechanical journey I describe below.

Riley got on most clubs’ radar as a standout on arguably the best prep team in Mississippi. He was all over the showcase circuit but was a little thicker then and was arguably a better pitching prospect. He showed some starter traits, running his heater up to 95 mph at times, but having mostly average stuff with limited physical projection. In the spring, he started shaping up his frame, which has continued through his pro career as well. He looked like he had a shot to stick at third base and was getting more athletic, to the point where he was getting to his plus power in games more often. Read the rest of this entry »


Kiley McDaniel Chat – 5/15/19

1:10

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL, running around a lot today after a five-day trip through the Carolinas and I’m flying to Chicago tomorrow to see Quinn Priester, so there’s lots of maintenance things to get done today

1:10

Paul: WHEN IS THE NEXT MOCK

1:11

Kiley McDaniel: Oh yes and in case you missed it, there was a new mock yesterday and we already have a solid half dozen more pieces of dope to go in the next one…which will be whenever we think is time for a new one

1:11

mark: What is the domino effect if Vaughn goes 1 to BAL?

1:14

Kiley McDaniel: Not completely sure, but my best guess would be:
1. BAL – Vaughn
2. KC – Rutschman
3. CHW – Abrams
4. MIA – Witt
5. DET – Greene
6. SD – Bleday

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FanGraphs Audio Presents: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Ep. 14

UMP: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Episode 14

This is the 14th episode of a sorta weekly program co-hosted by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel about player evaluation in all its forms. The show, which is available through the normal FanGraphs Audio feed, has a working name but barely. The show is not all prospect stuff, but there is plenty of that, as the hosts are Prospect Men.

This episode waited a little longer than expected to be edited, as it was recorded last week, but with Mock Draft 2.0 coming out today, it’s a timely, mostly-draft-related discussion.

0:26 – The guys start out hot with some takes on the verbiage they try to avoid around draft time and makeup in general
6:24 – Where Kiley and Eric have been the last week or so, what the guys look for with regards to which scouts are at which games, how much rain sucks
11:14 – The guys cover the top handful of players on their board, mostly in the style that clubs use in their area scout meetings, including an interesting quirk in the C.J. Abrams vs. Bobby Witt, Jr. debate
23:55 – The guys cover some challenges in making today’s mock draft.
30:50 – Eric is uncomfortable with the future.
32:10 – A preview of this year’s draft coverage to come
34:00 – Eric’s Game of Thrones thoughts, as someone who doesn’t watch the show
35:00 – The guys shout out Dorothy Hamill?
35:40 – And Andre Agassi?

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @kileymcd or @longenhagen on Twitter or at prospects@fangraphs.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 37 min play time.)

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 5/8/19

12:11

Kiley McDaniel: Was slightly delayed by some Scout shenanigans in the backyard, then I cornered a wasp and smothered it with a towel, then tough talked it like a real hero.

12:12

Kiley McDaniel: but also hello from ATL! heading out to check in on CJ Abrams playoff doubleheader later today, working out a mock draft and getting industry thoughts, but don’t want to spoil too many of the scoop-y nuggets we have

12:12

Kiley McDaniel: draft board was just expanded today to 350 players and it’s getting updated daily at this point: https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2019-mlb-draft?type=0&so…

12:13

Jorby: Scout’s take on the upcoming storms?

12:14

Kiley McDaniel: she feels it in her bones but also I’m going out of town this weekend for a crazy run of draft prospects so we haven’t covered it in much detail

12:14

Greg: When’s the next mock?

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Called Up: Nick Senzel

Nick Senzel burst onto the national scouting scene with an MVP campaign in the Cape Cod League in 2015, hitting .364 with 21 extra base hits in 40 games. He steadily rose up boards throughout the spring when it became clear his raw tools were better than many had thought at first blush, with above average raw power, speed, fielding, and throwing tools, and a 1.051 OPS, 40/21 BB/K, and 34 extra base hits in 57 games. Senzel’s baseball skills (specifically a 60-or-better hit tool with at least above average plate discipline) along with being young for his class (he didn’t turn 21 until after the draft) came together to make him a complete package as the top hitting prospect in the 2016 draft for most clubs.

The Reds took him second overall and we ranked him as the top prospect in the Reds’ system and 30th best prospect in baseball that winter after a loud pro debut, mostly in Low-A:

Senzel has above-average bat speed and bat control. His swing can get long at times and, despite simple hitting feet, his front foot sometimes gets down late which causes the rest of his swing to be tardy, as well. He was getting that foot down earlier during instructional league. He has above-average raw power, which should grow to plus as Senzel reaches physical maturity (he was only 20 on draft day and is well built), though it doesn’t play to that level in games because Senzel doesn’t incorporate his lower half into his swing especially well. If Senzel reaches a point when it would be useful to alter some aspects of his swing to generate more game power I think he’s athletic enough to make the adjustments.

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 5/1/19

12:06

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL! I’m living in a writer’s personal hell today as there’s 8 people installing a new roof and they’re all banging as hard as they can for going on 5 hours now. Scout is slowly adapting to being in the climactic scene of a Matrix movie but is still sitting next to me in case something goes down.

12:08

Kiley McDaniel: We’re getting into the stretch run for the draft and ___ guy won’t get to pick ___ is getting a little more concrete. The draft rankings for every class (https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2019-mlb-draft?sort=-1,1…) are getting updated daily and here’s last week’s mock for those interested in such things (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mock-draft-1-0-the-top-ten/). And lastly, here’s your draft order/pools (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-mlb-draft-signing-bonus-pool-and-pick…).

12:16

Kiley McDaniel: My tentative weekend game plans look doomed by weather, so I may stay local this weekend around SEC country. I’ll go get at least one of the two games CJ Abrams is playing Thursday and next week will likely be making a run in North Carolina. After that I should be able to get the Luis Robert/Cristian Pache/Drew Waters series in Birmingham.

12:17

Kiley McDaniel: Sorry, had to step away to deal with the source of that noise

12:17

Kiley McDaniel: to your questions!

12:17

A big dumb idiot: See my username, but is there any changes to one’s opinion of Cavan Biggio with him demolishing AAA?

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FanGraphs Audio Presents: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Ep. 13

UMP: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Episode 13

This is the 13th episode of a sorta weekly program co-hosted by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel about player evaluation in all its forms. The show, which is available through the normal FanGraphs Audio feed, has a working name but barely. The show is not all prospect stuff, but there is plenty of that, as the hosts are Prospect Men.

This episode is unique because Kiley and Meg Rowley have hot Game of Thrones takes to fire off but Eric is tied up with prospect travel.

0:21 – Surprise, the cohost is Meg and she’s not happy with Kiley’s intro.
0:46 – The elite nut-milk hipster coffee situation has expanded to Twitter beef.
3:11 – Kiley explains what’s happening in this episode.
3:45 – Kiley tries out some standup material about coupon codes.
5:55 – Okay, he has one more chunk about IKEA.
9:20 – Meg launches a lifestyle podcast on the Goop network.
9:40 – The Game of Thrones thoughts flow freely.
31:45 – The GOT episode three Death Draft commences.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @kileymcd or @longenhagen or @megrowler on Twitter or at prospects@fangraphs.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 44 min play time.)

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 4/24/19

12:18

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL! Scout is chasing critters in the back yard and I’ll be leaving shortly for a Georgia HS state playoffs double dip, popup RHP Zach Maxwell then popup SS Brennan Milone

12:18

Kiley McDaniel: Going to Alabama for at least part of the weekend, seeing rising prep SS Gunnar Henderson tomorrow then the weekend has tons of college options that I’m still sorting through

12:18

Kiley McDaniel: If you are already in draft mode and somehow didn’t see yesterday’s mock, here it is: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mock-draft-1-0-the-top-ten/

12:19

Kiley McDaniel: The dope we’re hearing is mostly top 7-10 picks and not a whole lot of specific stuff beyond that because many of the top 10 picks are kinda shrug emoji we’re not sure who will make it to us, so obviously beyond the top 10 there’s even more of that

12:21

Kiley McDaniel: And it’s a lot of “their top evaluators are seeing players x y and z” and “their mix appears to be a b and c” because we specifically know what a couple teams up are thinking (either they tell us off the record or aren’t good at obscuring the truth) and that’s as far as they’ve gotten at this point….so we can’t really give you much more than that for most clubs, even picking up high

12:22

Kiley McDaniel: And most of the clubs we speak with in the 10 to 20 area are really interested in who we think they have no chance to get, so they can focus resources on the guys they have a shot at.

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Mock Draft 1.0: The Top Ten

The June draft order, slot values, and total pool amounts are here on the site for your reference, and our ever-updating draft rankings on THE BOARD now have 314 names for this draft class, which means it’s time for our first 2019 top 10 mock draft. I think you know how this goes, but I’ll reiterate: I’m projecting what I think will happen after consulting with dozens of industry sources, not ranking these players on talent, as THE BOARD does that.

1. Orioles – Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Rutschman still has a good lead here. It sounds like he had a shoulder injury in high school from football contact, but he hasn’t missed any time in college and clubs have mostly decided that even a worst case scenario for this issue still makes him the best prospect in the draft. There’s chatter Baltimore has made calls to explore backup options/bulk approach like new GM Mike Elias did while running the draft in Houston, but that’s seen as a long shot at this point. It’s also worth noting Baltimore’s history of whacking players’ medicals, but it’s unclear if the regime change alters that propensity.

2. Royals – Bobby Witt, Jr., SS, Coleyville Heritage HS (TX)
Two weeks ago, I mentioned that the early buzz was that Andrew Vaughn had the lead for this pick. Late last spring, GM Dayton Moore saw amateur games for the first time in awhile and Kansas City’s first 11 selections were college picks. This came on the heels of four of their previous six first round picks coming from the prep ranks, with their draft philosophy leaning that way as a whole.

It seemed like a philosophical shift at the beginning of a rebuild, but I’ve talked to about four times as many sources on this topic in the last two weeks as I did before, and almost everyone since then is insistent that Witt is the pick here. Vaughn and possibly Hunter Bishop have been mentioned as backup plans, but the top three picks are thought to be pretty locked in at this juncture, with a couple scouting directors guessing it’s about 90% certain to go the way I’ve outlined here.

3. White Sox – Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
With a recent run in the past three drafts of safer-skewing, college hitters in Chicago’s top three round picks (Nick Madrigal, Steele Walker, Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets, Luis Gonzalez, Zack Collins, Alex Call), and a rebuild reaching the critical stages, a quick-to-the-majors prospect makes the most sense here. With Jose Abreu on the downside of his career, Vaughn even fills a need: exactly what the White Sox are looking for here. Nick Lodolo sounds like the most likely backup option if Vaughn and Rutschman go first and second. GM Rick Hahn has seen C.J. Abrams this spring and some teams think the Sox would take Witt if he slides, but none of those alternate scenarios seem likely, with almost everyone in the industry saying Chicago wants a collegiate player here and covet Vaughn.

4. Marlins – C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS (GA)
This is where things start to get a little tricky. After NHSI, where new scouting director D.J. Svihlik and VP Gary Denbo were locked in on Abrams and seemingly uninterested in Riley Greene on an adjacent field, industry rumors intensified that Abrams was the preference. Earlier in the spring, most believed there was a preference for a college player here, with Lodolo the most common connection. Svihlik used to be on staff at Vanderbilt and some think J.J. Bleday also makes sense here. I’ll go with Abrams for now, but it’s pretty close between these three options and I get the impression this decision is far from made, anyway. Denbo has also seen Witt a few times.

5. Tigers – Riley Greene, RF, Hagerty HS (FL)
The Tigers have been all over Greene all spring, and one of their scouts has a child that goes to Greene’s high school. He’s struggled a bit lately (his swing was too big when I saw him a few weeks ago and he performed just okay at NHSI) but was a strong performer all summer, so most don’t consider it a long-term concern. There isn’t much consensus on whom else Detroit would consider here as another option, though Witt has been mentioned in the event he slides. Power arms and SEC performers are historically the Tigers’ type, so Bleday and his nation-leading 20 homers also makes some sense, but Greene appears to be their preference and he’s almost certain to be available.

6. Padres – Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU
The Padres has been heavy on Bleday and Lodolo, appearing to lean to college both because that’s what’s here and because it fits their new competitive window. Bishop just got a long look from the decision makers and appears also to be entering their mix, but is believed to be more of a third option at this point. Given GM A.J. Preller’s past decisions, this would also appear to be a spot where a sliding Witt or Abrams could get snapped up. Kentucky lefty Zack Thompson also seems to be in the mix.

7. Reds – J.J. Bleday, RF, Vanderbilt
It sounds like the Reds are on Greene, Abrams, and Lodolo, who are all gone in this scenario. Bleday (video) is the consensus best guy on the board and sources have indicated the preference here is college, with last year’s pick of Jonathan India serving as a template for new scouting director Brad Meador. Cincy still needs pitching and seems the most aggressive on junior college righty Jackson Rutledge, though he fits more as an overslot second pick than underslot first pick.

8. Rangers – Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
Texas is the toughest club to peg in this mock. It sounds like they aren’t excited about what they think will be available to them, and clubs picking around here also don’t have much feel for where Texas leans. This appears to be the floor for Abrams and Witt if they slide, but they’re unlikely to get here. Manoah and Bishop both make sense, but the most common rumor is that the Rangers go below slot for a pitcher to set up an overslot choice with their second pick. Manoah is perceived to be an easier sign than some other options with a cleaner medical than late-rising Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson.

9. Braves – Hunter Bishop, LF, Arizona State
This pick is compensation for not signing Carter Stewart last year, and he projects to go much later this year, so the Braves appear to have come out ahead in the exchange. This pick also isn’t protected if Atlanta doesn’t sign whoever they take, so a tough sign likely isn’t an option. It appears Atlanta would take Abrams or Witt if they get here, and they’ve been scouting Lodolo, Bleday, and Bishop as primary options, with a good chance one of them gets to this pick. It’s unclear if the other prospects on the board at this point excite them, in the event that Texas takes Bishop and all the players Atlanta has been tied to are off the board.

10. Giants – Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
This weekend, the Giants sent in their heavy hitters to see Missouri RF Kameron Misner at Georgia (his swing still needs some work). He may have the most upside on the board, but he hasn’t been good in SEC play and lacks a summer track record to fall back on. Stott could be another Brandon Crawford, though it’s unclear how the new regime will make high-profile decisions like these. The rumor is that this is another pick that will go college, and likely a college hitter, with new Giants GM Farhan Zaidi having prized versatility and defensive value when building the Dodgers.

Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson has been closing hard lately (while Lodolo has just been okay the last few weeks), so he could jump into the top 10, but some clubs are concerned about his elbow long-term, so that keeps him just out of this projection. Washington prep CF Corbin Carroll is the other prospect who has been mentioned at more than a few top 10 slots, but more as another player in the mix than a primary target. With picks 6-10 leaning college, and three prep bats in the top five, he slides just out of this projection, but could easily jump in future versions. The next two college bats (North Carolina 1B Michael Busch (vide0) and Texas Tech 3B Josh Jung) would also figure to go quickly if we had continued this exercise, but unfortunately, the information gets much spottier at this juncture of the draft.


Kiley McDaniel Chat – 4/17/19

1:29

Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL! Had a lunch date with friends of the chat Nick Piecoro and Keith Law (name drops) but I’m here to chat with you

1:29

Kiley McDaniel: Podcast went up today about my recent Florida trip, extension talk and GOT hot takes: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-audio-kiley-mcdaniel-welcomes-th…

1:30

Jeff: Any new buzz inside the top 10 of the draft?

1:32

Kiley McDaniel: An unusual amount of KC fans were interested/outraged/surprised that I said last week most of the industry thinks KC will take Andrew Vaughn at 2. Still seems that way, but talked to some folks this week that think they’ll go with Bobby Witt, conceding that it’s probably one of the two. CHW would definitely not pass on Vaughn if KC did and rumors have MIA leaning college as well, but the top college guy at that point isn’t as clear. A recent shuffle at the top of our rankings has Nick Lodolo and JJ Bleday as their best options.

1:32

Shooter : Couple of draft questions…what are you hearing on Kody Hoese, and what the hell happened to Mitchell Senger?

1:33

Kiley McDaniel: Senger is a lefty from Stetson, a mid major school with a sneaky-good track record for pitching (Kluber, deGrom, Logan Gilbert, Mitchell Jordan, now Senger). He got the yips early and now is back on track, out of the pen. Could be a Nick Sprengel-type late flier based on a solid track record.

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