Eric A Longenhagen: 19y/o Cubs lefty in short season. Thoughts are same as last year. Low-to-mid 90s, will show a 55 curveball and knows how to work it to both-handed hitters. I bet the changeup comes, he has good feel. Body went backwards from last summer to this year but it hasn’t affected performance.
Chris: Any clue what has happened to Mickey Moniak as of recently?
Tommy N.: Do short striders like Ryan Weathers have lower perceived velocity?
Eric A Longenhagen: Yes
Bread Gardner: What methodology do you use to come up with a player’s FanGraphs PV/FV ratings (i.e. the ones we see on the player pages)? Do the ratings change over time? If they do, how so?
Eric A Longenhagen: It takes an entire article to properly answer this but, in short, we map the distribution of individual player WAR to the 20-80 scale. If we project a prospect to be an average big league regular (a 50, like 2.5 annual WAR or so) they’re a 50. But if we have two players who project to be the exact same player and one is ready for the Majors and the other is in rookie ball, we have to account for that difference in time and certainty and so we dilute the latter guy’s FV to capture failed dev, injury, and any number of other things that might pop up while that prospect crawls to the Majors.
Eric A Longenhagen: that’s what the tool grades and projection were when the player was a prospect, not what we think they are now
Eric A Longenhagen: Though we might eventually do that for big leaguers where we update tool grades for them regularly
Kyle: Tyler Freeman is tearing it up in the short season A ball. What have you heard about him?
Eric A Longenhagen: This was one of Cleveland’s three super young 2017 HS draftees, the most polished but least toolsy of the group. He’s a potential 6 bat without power. Have him projected to 2B, not SS.
Eric A Longenhagen: The amateur side (and Kiley and I) were skeptical of the bat but the pro side think there’s patience and power and he stays at short, so they don’t care if it’s a 40 bat, maybe below.
Eric A Longenhagen: The tool profile looks like JJ Hardy (power, elite arm strength) but they don’t play like one another, aesthetically.
Brandon J: In early May, you put a 55 FV on Walker Buehler and put his command at 45/50. Do you think those grades are still accurate?
Eric A Longenhagen: The 55 looks bang on. Walk rate has been better than average in the big leagues, average when you incorporate his minor league numbers. So…yes?
Mountie Votto: Jose Siri has been walking nearly 9% of the time so far this year. Is the improvement sustainable or just noise?
Eric A Longenhagen: I tend to think upticks of this magnitude will regress.
Bo: Any potential September call-ups that could affect a playoff race?
Eric A Longenhagen: I think Kiley and I are gonna podcast about this specific thing and AFL rosters once callups happen and rosters are released
Moose_Bolton: What was the last great non-baseball book you read?
Eric A Longenhagen: As I Lay Dying, which was great but not the least bit enjoyable.
Ricky: Is Peter Alonso good enough offensively to make a case to be a top 25 prospect?
Eric A Longenhagen: Well lets think about that. We have 21 60 FV or better prospects (players we think are 3WAR studs or better, basically) on the board so what kind of offensive profile does a poor defensive 1B need to have to generate 3 WAR?
Eric A Longenhagen: I’m kinda skeptical of Alonso being a top 3-5 1B
Eric A Longenhagen: Which is basically what you’re asking.
David: Been to AZ for Spring Training the past couple years (it’s fantastic), but I’ll be going to the AZ Fall League for the first time this year. Any advice on differences between how to approach the two? Is there any need to buy Fall League tix in advance?
Eric A Longenhagen: There’s no need to buy Fall League tix in advance if you’re worried about them selling out. They will not. But buying a season pass might be cheaper than buying individual tix for the games you wanna go to and getting tix ahead of time means you skip the daily line of walk ups.
Horace Fury: Some latest ranking of farm systems puts the Red Sox at 28th. That’s bad. However, they have what seems to be a lot of pitchers in the lower minors who are throwing extremely well, and every time I hear that the farm system stinks, I ask are you even aware of what the pitching is like. The High-A rotation right now has Mata and Raudes on the DL, and Kutter Crawford, Denyi Reyes, and Tanner Houck active. That looks like a very good group to me, and it’s just one level’s rotation. Darwinzon Hernandez just moved up (AA), Brayan Bello, too (GCL) and Mike Shawaryn went up to AAA a couple of weeks ago. Am I imagining that at least the pitching part of this system is surprisingly strong?
Eric A Longenhagen: I see how you can like some of those guys and I agree they’re prospects, but every org has arms like this. They just stand out in this system because there’s not a lot else to see.
Manuel: Big fan of these chats–thanks. Has any farm system taken as big of a leap as that of the Mets this season? Any sneaky guys you like more than the average guy in that system?
Eric A Longenhagen: ^Padres righty who has been up to 102 in the past with a good breaking ball, has also dealt with injury.
Jared: Hi Eric thanks for chatting. Are you excited to watch Kyler Murray start for Oklahoma? Do you think realistically he makes it to spring training next year for you to see him in person?
Eric A Longenhagen: I’ve stopped watching football (I’ve gradually lost interest since cutting cable) but I will catch the odd OU game on the WatchESPN app I imagine, and yeah if there’s no baseball on I’ll watch Kyler. I do think he’ll be here in the spring and am stoke to see him.
Bob Dobalina: Hi Eric – what does Simeon Woods-Richardson’s repertoire currently offer? The 17 year old’s pro career is off to an auspicious start, albeit in a very small sample.
Eric A Longenhagen: Mid-90s, strikes, diving changeup, weird arm angle might help the slider play up. Not a very projectable bod but the stuff is already mostly there so that’s fine. Tightly wound, more of a powerful athlete than a graceful one and not everyone like the delivery.
Dave Kingman: Most likely outcome for Phills and the playoffs? – NL East Champ / Wild Card / miss post season?
Eric A Longenhagen: I don’t think they get there at all.
Draftnik: Thanks for the chat. Do you anticipate updated THE BOARD for the 2019 draft anytime soon?
Eric A Longenhagen: I’ve got one more showcase to see and then I think we’ll have collected enough to compare notes and expand/alter that part of the board, yeah.
Hello: Has McNeil’s performance so far changed his long-term outlook in your opinion?
Eric A Longenhagen: If you wanna slap a 40 on him I guess you can? Just think he’s an up down infielder. He’s also 26 and, if we try to focus our window of prospect evaluation to team-controlled years (a subtle change to my current thinking for which which I think there’s an argument) then we’re almost surely incorporating his decline into that span.
Phil: Referencing Laurila’s piece… have you seen any of Lowther? Buy him as a “better than his tools” type where the deceoption can translate all the way up to the majors?
Eric A Longenhagen: Yes, I think the sheer volume of deceptive/pitchability guys in the Cubs’ system will yield one or two guys who outperform expectations.
Sam: What level do you think Nolan Gorman ends up in next year? Hot start makes nervous he’ll be advanced too quickly for good development.
Eric A Longenhagen: You’re nervous because he’s performing? C’mon now. I bet he starts back in Low-A next year, sees Hi-A if he hits. They’ve done the same with Elehuris Montero this year, that guy will probably start at Hi-A next year, then move up mid year if he merits it.
Pickle Nick: Has Corbin Carroll put himself into the top 15 of the draft conversation for 2019 after his strong summer showcase performances? Who has fallen the most since your last big board?
Eric A Longenhagen: Top 15 might be strong. Use last year’s similar players as a barometer. Smaller but still=toolsy HS OFs who perform: Alek Thomas, Cole Roederer, Micah Bello all went in the 60s and 70s. I like Carroll more than all those guys and have him in round 1, but the top half is a little rich for me right now. But who knows? Gotta line all of them up and see, ultimately.
graphs man : michael kopech snapped off one disgusting changeup in his MLB debut but otherwise didnt feature the pitch much. What hold him back from being able to do that consistently?
Eric A Longenhagen: The fastball command to properly set it up
Pad Squad: The Padres are always last in all batting statistics, even though they have “core” pieces in place with Myers, Margot, Hedges, Hosmer, Renfroe. None of the Padres’ players have even 2 WAR this year. Why, and should the organization use their minor league depth to acquire SEVERAL significant upgrades?
Eric A Longenhagen: I think they’ll entertain the idea of consolidation this offseason because the 40-man situation might require it.
Rockie Dangerfield: I saw that you were taking a second look at Rico Garcia after his 8-inning 10-K outing earlier in the week. What are you thinking about him nowadays?
Eric A Longenhagen: Think he’s a solid big league reliever.
Nick: Is Josh Naylor’s bat good enough that San Diego should make room for him in the outfield?
Eric A Longenhagen: Yes, Prefer him to Franmil and feel better about his bat than Franchy, though Franchy does a lot of other stuff
Toni: Going back to his first start last year, Trevor Williams has a line of 3.54/4.01. Exactly 50 starts. A lot of people insist he will have a “Fall off the face of the earth” type regression, and while those numbers suggest *some* regression, it’s a decent sample size that suggests otherwise. Do you think he has solidified himself as a quality back-of-the-rotation guy?
Eric A Longenhagen: Sure, Williams is a 5th starter.
DJ: Jose Garcia of the Reds seems to have turned it around in the second half. Any thoughts?
Eric A Longenhagen: This is a Reds SS signed out of Cuba who was on our preseason 100 (Int’l scouts saw 7 arm, 6 run, feel to hit, stays at SS) and then off mid-year because reports were way down. Agreed he’s improved, looks bigger and stronger and is making a much better quality of contact now.
Barves: Eric, given the amount of games you go to, have you ever made it onto the Jumbotron? Also, what’s the funniest entertainment gimmick you seen at a ball park?
Eric A Longenhagen: I’m accidentally on camera every now and then, sure. Cookie Face is my favorite between inning game.
Matthew: People thought the Royals got fleeced in the Herrera trade. What do you think of it now?
Eric A Longenhagen: Morel has been okay in the AZL, hold on I have notes on him somewhere…
Eric A Longenhagen: 91-93, mature frame for age, flash avg curveball, firm mid-90s change. CHance for a bunch of 50s based on my look unless the velo ticks up unexpectedly. I don’t know what else they were offered to be able to judge the deal at all.
David: Also, another Mariners question (sorry), Based on the performances this year is Julio Rodriguez pacing himself to become their top prospect as early as next year? or is this reading too much into DSL results?
Eric A Longenhagen: I really like Julio but I think we have him in the right place on the board. We’re ultimately talking about a physically mature corner guy who is probably several years away.
Eric A Longenhagen: I think Howard has solid average big league stuff and I can see how his height creates weird angle that makes hitters uncomfortable. Dunshee I just don’t know. He has a good changeup but I haven’t figured out how he does the trick yet and whether i think it’s sustainable or not.
Shawn: How is MJ Melendez not a top 100 prospect? Plus defensive catcher with really nice pop and only 19
Eric A Longenhagen: I love Mervyl but the prep catcher attrition rate is terrifying.
kvothe: Has the D-backs Jamie Westbrook done anything this year to improve his stock?
Eric A Longenhagen: Yes. Changed his swing last year (I didn’t notice until this year) and is hitting the ball in the air more often. Still a tough profile because he’s really a LF-only guy for a lot of teams, though.
Eric A Longenhagen: It’s fun, right? Makes me pretty happy.
Zach: The Pirates farm system seems pretty barren, and I thought this before the Baz inclusion was announced. Now, outside of the core group (Keller/Hayes/Swaggerty, and to a lesser extent, Tucker/Cruz) is there anyone else worth getting excited over? Someone who has made a major leap in your eyes this year?
Eric A Longenhagen: Bryan Reynolds bounceback seems real. Jared Oliva has huge tools. I’m encouraged by what Bae and Deon Stafford have done. Calvin Mitchell somewhat. Kramer and Newman are gonna be fine big leaguers. Their system is okay. But I agree they gave up a ton for Archer.
Russell: Is everyone overreacting on Wander Franco or is he the next elite Acuna/Soto/Vlad level prospect?
Eric A Longenhagen: He’s crushing the ball. Swings it like Francisco Mejia except this guy can play SS. Whacking everything.
All Cats Are Beautiful : Why doesn’t Manny Banuelos get any mention as a prospect?
Eric A Longenhagen: What year is it?
Largest Adult Son: where do all the short season guys go after the season’s end?
Eric A Longenhagen: Many of them come back to the complex for instructional league, for which they are not paid.
Hello: Is a long stride (for a P) unambiguously good? Relatedly, should that be something orgs encourage in their prospects and/or look for when scouting?
Eric A Longenhagen: It is not as not all pitchers have the athleticism to control such a big stride
Eric A Longenhagen: 93-96 t98, will show plus change and slider. Raw in many facets.
All Cats Are Beautiful : How big a problem is groupthink among scouts?
Eric A Longenhagen: In my experience it occurs rarely, but it’s hard to say because it makes sense for evaluations of a given player to be relatively uniform if we assume scout competency and accept scouting as a means of player eval.
ZZ Bottom: What things do you think you missed or misjudged re: Matt Chapman’s glove?
Eric A Longenhagen: It’s an 8, not a 6 as I projected. I just didn’t think he was athletic enough to make all the ridiculous plays he has.
Josh I: When do AFL rosters usually get released? Any predictions on the biggest names we see?
Eric A Longenhagen: Usually right at the end of August. Maybe they’ll be after Labor Day this year because of how early it is? I have no knowledge of roster assignments at this time but just some logical guesses: Vlad (until DWL starts), Tatis, Robles, Whitley (if not with HOU in Oct), Sixto, LouBob, Gohara (if not a/ ATL in Oct), Triston McKenzie, Jon Duplantier, Nate Pearson, Franklin Perez, Daulton Varsho
Benji: Is Graeme Stinson a RP only at the MLB level? If so, can he still be a first round pick?
Eric A Longenhagen: Probably, yes.
Dominic: Is Riley Greene a better overall prospect than Bobby Witt Jr.? Other than position and speed, is it crazy to think Greene’s that much better of hitter to negate those 2 advantages?
Eric A Longenhagen: I’m more confident in Greene’s bat and for some people in baseball that just means he’s the better prospect.
bill: have you heard anything about Christian James in NYM org? seems to be dominating NYPL but with very few strikeouts. is he projectable?
Eric A Longenhagen: Not in the sense I mean when I say it, which is to say physically.
Bo: Who’s your pick from the NL East / WCs?
Eric A Longenhagen: Atlanta, Milwaukee, Arizona
Eric A Longenhagen: Okay that’s it for me this week. See you all later…
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.