Kiley McDaniel: Daniel Espino is the top prep arm right now but has his first real game this weekend. Buzz has been positive about progress with feel, but he’s also a shorter prep righty where velocity is still a big part of the package and the arm swing is really long. Doesn’t mean he won’t be really good, but teams are really wary of prep RHP and to take one that high, you need it all to line up. Add that with the recent track record of prep arms that sit 95+ not being very positive in terms of health/development and I can’t see him getting to top 5, maybe 8-10 if he really shoves all spring. Matt Allan is in the discussion right behind him, then there’s a pretty big dropoff.
Kiley McDaniel: Matt Manning went late top 10 and had a really good frame, top end athlete, two 65-70 grade pitches and even some teams wouldn’t take him up there.
Dan: Based on initial reports, if you could re-do the 2018 IFA’s over, would anything change in your order of the top five young pitchers?
Kiley McDaniel: Not really. Osiel Rodriguez and Richard Gallardo are still both really close, so those could flip back and forth for awhile, but there hasn’t been a lot of movement with that group in general
Kiley McDaniel: I just CTRL+F’d bc in both articles and found nothing…???
Joe: Hi Kiley, any books/articles/podcasts/videos etc that helped you when learning how to scout?
Kiley McDaniel: I read Dollar Sign on the Muscle, which is kinda the only “scouting book” and it’s been awhile but it struck me as more stories and anecdotes than a how to type deal
Would you buy a book about scouting (how to, what lifestyle is like, tips, how grades jive w/TrackMan, etc.)
Yeah, probably (64.4% | 134 votes)
I’m good (35.5% | 74 votes)
Total Votes: 208
SAL fan: I know it is very early in the season, and suspect competition, but Elijah Cabell has had some very loud HR (and Ks, too). Has he climbed much up THE BOARD? Could he be a first rounder in 2020?
Kiley McDaniel: Could be, still has plus bat speed and 65 or 70 raw, still lots of K’s and corner outfield fit, so needs to clean that up a bit
Kiley McDaniel: Scout pupdate: super excited that the food robot has declared it lunch time
Kiley McDaniel: (I bought an automatic timed feeder so she stops bugging me about food and instead bugs the food robot)
SEC Guy: Thomas Dillard at Ole Miss has started off on a tear. I gather than positional limitations are a strike against him, but if he keeps mashing, could be make an appearance on the draft Board? Maybe a 2nd/3rd rounder?
Kiley McDaniel: He is on THE BOARD in the others of note, for we have noticed his hot start and I’ve always been a fan. Another 65 or 70 raw power type from both sides of the plate but has some bat speed, it isn’t just pure strength. Unfortunately can’t really catch so it’s probably a 1B fit, thus he needs to mash and have more BB than K in college, but maybe that’s happening. Could be a 40 in another month or so
Fangraphs Reader: Is there a bias against international pitchers? A quick look at the qualified pitchers shows only 9 of the 57 were signed as IFAs, which seemed a little unbalanced.
Kiley McDaniel: Baseball is pretty open minded about letting people play if they’re good. I think it may be more a question about the training/weeding out process for amateurs in Latin America. Lots of hitters convert to pitching, almost none go the other way, so I feel like there’s a bias to starting as a hitter. Also, there has there’s a little more focus on velo than game pitching compared to US amateurs, but that has been changing lately. I could see that ratio shifting a bit in the future
Jonathan: I absolutely love what you guys have done this winter. One hopefully constructive comment: the histograms you guys have produced to estimate likely future WAR are often far, far more optimistic than historical data suggest (see Wang’s work and the many follow-up studies). Do you guys have plans to tether those histograms to historical outcomes one day?
Kiley McDaniel: In the top 100 we explained how we landed on those odds: empirical odds, then tweak them a bit based on the type of prospect it is. We could just give every 55 FV hitter the same odds, but obviously one in Triple-A and Low-A are a little different, even all else equal.
Kiley McDaniel: The overall odds within a prospect tier are still within a handful of percentage points of the empirical outcomes, so if you see a guy with a really low bust percentage (like Brandon Lowe, who maintained eligibility by a few PA), that’s because he’s at the extreme end, and some guys really far away in that 50 FV hitter group have higher than baseline bust rates to make up for it
Kiley McDaniel: It’s still weird to say a guy is a Top 100 caliber hitter in Low-A then say its a 53% chance he basically does nothing in the big leagues, but the last few decades of baseball say that’s about fair
Kiley McDaniel: It would be insane to say Lowe has a 53% of doing nothing, when you could argue he’s already beat that level of performance, or could in another month or two
NYTT: Is Alex Jackson a prospect or just a guy having a good spring?
Kiley McDaniel: More of a power over defense over bat backup that could be a solid role player, but def a prospect, he’s a solid, higher-end 40 FV
Kiley McDaniel: a 40+ FV, to be exact
v2micca: Been reading more and more about the acrimony generated between player and franchise during arbitration hearings. I was wondering, if a player was openly gay, would an organization try to use that against them in arbitration, likely masking behind weasel words, or would they determine that it was a line they didn’t want to cross.
Kiley McDaniel: Don’t think we’ll ever see that, since there’s likely a more compelling argument that it’s a positive PR-wise for the club and there have been players that have successfully argued that being the face of the franchise in marketing materials is a tiebreaker in these hearings
Cliff: What type of player do you see the Dodgers targeting in the draft?
Kiley McDaniel: LA is an interesting group when it comes to the draft. They’re a progressive club in general, but lean a bit to the tools and makeup types in the draft that more traditional type clubs tend to take. Doing what works is much better than any specific approach and it seems to be working for them
Kiley McDaniel: as for a WAG that makes some sense at 25 and 31, I bet they’re into Will Wilson from NC State if he gets there and lots of the pitchers we have ranked around 25-31 make sense, like Manoah and Stinson
Kiley McDaniel: from his report “He probably isn’t a 180 inning starter, but Llovera will be one to watch early in 2019 to see what sort of stuff he’s showing. He could be the next Phillies Latin power arm to be moved to relief who then shoots to the big leagues after Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano. We like the makeup and ability to make adjustments, so expect his grade to be higher in 2019 if he continues doing what he did in 2018.”
mike: The Twins just traded for the right to spend more money in IFA….. Is it useful at this late date? How so? Thanks
Kiley McDaniel: Typically there’s a player in mind, or a group, when a trade this late is made
Walter Sobchak: What are the primary differences between Marco Luciano and Ronny Mauricio? Is the difference in their grades more about physical talent or having seen Mauricio perform for a year?
Kiley McDaniel: Luciano will probably be a 45+ and Mauricio is a 50, so that’s about as close as you’re gonna get. Mauricio has more hit tool and much better chance to stick at SS while Luciano can probably stay in the IF and has a lot more power
who_is_zorbist?: 26 man roster in 2020 was just announced. Does this end the McCay experiment? A good pitcher who can pinch hit or occasionally DH isn’t as valuable today as it was yesterday, right?
Kiley McDaniel: Brendan McKay is like 1% less valuable now, because him saving you a roster spot is a little less valuable than before…but he’s still really valuable since he can save you a roster spot.
Big Joe Mufferaw: As a yankee fan can I safely celebrate having Jasson Dominguez? Is it a “done deal”?
Kiley McDaniel: You can feel very confident, but predicting stuff months in the future is never 100%
Mike: I’m curious about how you solicit feedback from professional scouts, especially if they’re already employed by major league teams. Do they just volunteer information when asked? I would think they’d want to keep a tight lid on evaluations.
Kiley McDaniel: Depends on the kind of information. If it’s a player their team can’t/won’t acquire and/or their opinion is really similar to ours, they lose almost nothing but giving us a little bit and we often have info we can’t report to trade with them. If their GM sends them on a special assignment to see a player to trade for and other teams are offering trades for that player so their evaluation could really impact something immediately…then basically none of the scouts we talk to, even close friends, would tell us about that.
Kiley McDaniel: Have a big enough network, and any player could fall into the “well, I can tell you about HIM kind of guy”
Hakuna Machado: Went to the SDSU/Texas Tech game last night and came away impressed by Aaron Eden. Your thoughts on him?
Kiley McDaniel: Eric was at that game last night, so he’s probably the guy to ask
JaKob: Could Logan Gilbert end at AA this year?
Kiley McDaniel: Sure
Babyfarts Mckeezack: Vidal Brujan – is he likely to be a Tony Kemp or Jose Altuve type player? Read his defense is more solid than Kemp’s but feel like he’d be more hyped if he was an Altuve type player.
Kiley McDaniel: I’ll take Adams, the 80 run/CF fit gives a little more margin for error
Nolan Gorman: What’s my ceiling? I know I have contact issues and possibly 1B defense, but if I put it together, can I be a Goldschmidt or Bryant type? Or is that too high?
Kiley McDaniel: Too high. The scouting the statline people really go overboard on the guys with good pro debuts. We’ve though for almost 2 years that Gorman is a 5 bat, 6 or 7 power, maybe 3B type. That’s really good! Doesn’t have to be the best player in baseball
Charlie: Ben Lindbergh had a great article on The Ringer on 12 years of Reds’ scouting reports. One of the most interesting things to me was just how obvious it was that scouts hedge their grades and rate towards the middle too much. Do you think that’s still a common problem, and have you ever analyzed your own reports in a similar way?
Kiley McDaniel: Super common for basically every team, even when you tell the scouts to stop doing that
Kiley McDaniel: Also, the reports on your own players are always at least a grade too high on every player, even if the scout has no connection to signing the playet
BK: I’m a high school baseball coach and enthusiast in NJ. Any guys I should check out during the season if I can find some time?
Kiley McDaniel: basically anyone that we have any interest in at this time is on there. We could probably include another 30-40 players on the 2020 and 2021 lists that we’re curious about, but all the guys of real interest are on there
Mark: I guess I was more asking “do you think any high school pitchers *will* jump into the top 5?
Kiley McDaniel: No
Kiley McDaniel: really strong year for bats, weaker year for pitching. almost every team, all else being equal, wants bat over pitcher
Kiley McDaniel: and they’re getting it this year
Another Braves Fan: Can you please share your opinions on the top players for Georgia Tech? Kyle McCann was the only player I could find on THE BOARD, but I’m also curious to hear what you think of Tristin English, Xzavian Curry, Connor Thomas, Brant Hurter, and Chase Murray. Anyone else that I should be paying attention to for the next few drafts that hasn’t been covered? Thanks!
Kiley McDaniel: Saw them a couple games vs. UCLA last weekend. McCann is interesting, not a terrible catcher, but more of a backup/1B type, plus juice, not a bad hitter, probably in the 5th-7th round area, maybe $125K after the 10th round, etc.
Kiley McDaniel: English has had arm issues and is 91-93 with a 55 slider, too aggressive at the plate to get to the power, not a high draft guy
Kiley McDaniel: Curry is 88-93 t94, fringy to average offspeed, ok CMD. Probably is a solid senior sign and gets to A-Ball, wouldn’t bet on much more
Kiley McDaniel: Thomas was 86-88 t89, solid avg offspeed, good feel and deception, but just doesn’t have much margin for error
Kiley McDaniel: Murray didn’t do much for me, LF without much thump and the ABs weren’t that great the days I was there
Kiley McDaniel: Baron Radliff and Oscar Serratos for 2020 are both interesting. Not sure Radcliff ever figures it out but he was 70 raw from the left side and Serratos is solid at 3B and has 55-60 raw, but his swing is way too big, timing isn’t great
Kiley McDaniel: Solid club with lots of college types/lower level org guys in pro ball
Adam Henderson : Is McKays FV based off him as a pitcher alone or does it indicate him as a hitter also… basically want to know how good a pitcher he can be
Kiley McDaniel: It’s based on both, but pitcher only would be in that general area, maybe in the highest 55 FV range like the 20s overall. We see him as a part-time DH most likely, so the FV is mostly pitcher
Big Joe Mufferaw: If I gave you 250 points (used as 80-20 scale) to build a position player prospect. How would you allocate the tools?
Kiley McDaniel: 80 hit, 80 power, 20 run, 50 defense, 20 arm at 1B, that’s basically 2010 Miguel Cabrera
Kiley McDaniel: 6.0 WAR
LioneeR: I live near Southern Miss stadium. Does Southern Miss or any CUSA teams have any prospects that would be worth a watch?
Kiley McDaniel: I would also direct you to THE BOARD
Kiley McDaniel: So. Miss has RF/RHP Matt Wallner, who some clubs prefer as a pitcher, but a scout this week told me also has 80 raw power (I’ve seen 65-70 in the past)…so that’s pretty rare to have just around the corner. He’s had forearm issues tho, so has just been DHing lately
Walter Sobchak: The MLB shuts down tomorrow and you’re hired by the Baltimore Ravens to mine for MiLBers for NFL playmakers. Are you telling them to prioritize Monte Harrison of Jordyn Adams?
Kiley McDaniel: Gimme Adams quoth the Raven
Matthew: Who’s the person around here I can ask fantasy questions to now?
Kiley McDaniel: that’s Paul Sporer, among others
Eric: Question on post-prospects: Last year you rated Acuna as a FV65 and he came up and produced right away. Is he now a PV65 with a FV75? Is it even worth making those type of distinctions at this point?
Kiley McDaniel: He was a 65 but we went back and forth about making him a 70. He’s probably a present 70, future 80 now?
Dean G.: What do you enjoy the most about your job, Kiley?
Kiley McDaniel: I have this weird itch in my brain that is scratched by ranking prospects and when people in the chat think I’m being too snarky but I’m clearly not
greg: It was mentioned in the Mariners writeup that Sheffield has a “bowling ball sinker.” What does that mean?
Kiley McDaniel: It’s a widely-used phrase that I think has been separated from it’s initial meaning. I’ve understood it to mean it breaks as many bats as swinging at an actual bowling ball would break
Kiley McDaniel: but it could also be a version of the changeup “falls off the table” in that a bowling ball would fall off a table, too?
Kiley McDaniel: lemme check urban dictionary
greg: What is a knuckle-curve, and how does it work? To me, a knuckler is devoid of spin, but a curve needs spin in order to curve.
Kiley McDaniel: correct
Kiley McDaniel: knuckle curve just means it’s a specific type of curve grip where you pull your index finger toward your palm. knuckle curve is more accurately know as a spike curveball, as you’re “spiking” your index finger. lets you throw it harder, break shorter since only one finger is driving the spin instead of two
Kiley McDaniel: that was super confusing until someone explained it to me, as well
He Hate Me: What’s a real upfront and annual dollar estimate for a single team to establish its own 8-team Dominican prep league, stocked with cheap kids from the DR and other Caribbean nations? Would the investment be worth the reward? Would it make more sense for a team to do this in an untapped market like Brazil?
Kiley McDaniel: Running a team costs anywhere from 500k to $1M a year depending on the exact situation. I’ve been stumping on here for awhile that every team should have at least 2-3 DSL teams and really should have more like 5-6. If you have a successful int’l dept, you won’t have to wait long to see value created. you’d have to add some lower level american clubs as an onramp to the higher leagues
Walter Sobchak: Cole Roederer is the only corner guy in your picks to click “advanced bats with defensive value” section. As a, LF with so-so fielding grades, did he just not really fit any of the other groups?
Kiley McDaniel: He would give you 60 run grades the fall before he was drafted, so he’s not a zero defensively, he’s just probably a corner guy now
You: I’m giving you 2 darts to throw in Round 25 of a 15-Team draft (dynasty league). Who do you go for?
Kiley McDaniel: Feel like I need more info than this
Rod: Next guy small school guy – a la Seth Johnson and George Kirby – to jump up the rankings?
Kiley McDaniel: Some years don’t have 2 in the first round (Jackson Rutledge may qualify as the 3rd), so I wouldn’t bet on another
Jacob: The difference between number 1 and number 2 on THE BOARD seems unusually large. Do you expect that someone from that 50 FV group will take a step forward and differentiate themselves as a 55 or more before draft day?
Kiley McDaniel: Probably gets really close if there isn’t a 55
Steve : Hi, Kiley. In an earlier chat you said it’s possible, given their affinity for the SEC, the Tigers could target Mizzou’s Kameron Misner at 5. Assuming Misner is off the board is it possible that Vanderbilt’s J.J. Bleday, because of his increased power and athleticism, could also emerge as a Tigers’ target? Or is # 5 simply too rich for him?
Kiley McDaniel: Probably too rich, but not impossible
THE BOARD: board board board board board board board and more board
Walter Sobchak: Obviously you can’t *expect* any 18 year old to better Vladito’s minor league rampage, but what chance would you give Wander Franco of emulating it?
Kiley McDaniel: 1 in 3 maybe?
TJ: When you scout do you usually just focus on 1 or 2 guys or do you kind of broadly focus on multiple guys?
Kiley McDaniel: Depends on the talent, usually as many guys as seem to have top 10 round potential, which is usually 1 guy at a HS game and more like 6-7 for an SEC game
Lefty: Is five-tool OF Michael Dixon from Berkeley High an early round pick?
Kiley McDaniel: Interesting athlete, could go pretty good but was pretty raw this summer
Diego: What’s the bias against R/R 1B all about? I get wanting to have the glove on the left side, but why does the hitting side matter?
Kiley McDaniel: If he is a fringy regular, he’s the wrong side of a platoon
Kiley McDaniel: at a position where fringy regulars are kinda just around for free
Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.