cuvamc: What’s your take on Riley Greene in CF? Saw him myself a few weeks ago, looked more athletic/competent than I originally thought he would be. I know he’s most likely a RF, but how likely is it that he could play an average CF in the big leagues?
Kiley McDaniel: The buzz on Greene was a little misleading since he was a 40-45 runner over the summer when he was seen the most and multiple times over multiple games against comparable competition
Kiley McDaniel: Then in the spring, he was a 50 runner but was playing against mostly non-pro prospects (other than his teammate Vaughn Grissom, now with ATL), getting limited chances in center field.
Kiley McDaniel: So we know he’s quicker than the summer hype and he didn’t look bad in center field, but I got parts of two games in the spring and most high level scouts didn’t get any more than that, so there’s some margin for error in the opinion
Kiley McDaniel: Greene has good baseball instincts and wasn’t bad in my spring look, so I have no problem playing him in CF for the short-term, but would still guess he ends up in RF since he isn’t a Christian Yelich type athlete, he’s just better than most casual draft observers thought he was
Not Evan: Hey, Kiley. Do you think a prospect gains any value by being promoted to the major leagues, (as like, proof of confidence, perhaps), or do they lose some because their service clock starts? Thanks!
Kiley McDaniel: I’d say in the short-term, like in terms of weeks or a month, you can gain value because you don’t use that much service time, and going nuts for a month in the big leagues does tell us something about the player that we can’t know in Triple-A.
Kiley McDaniel: But if you mean just being better when he’s promoted but hasn’t played an MLB game yet…yeah, that means nothing
Kiley McDaniel: Since being a prospect in AA or AAA means the expectation is you’ll be good in the big leagues, so just getting there doesn’t move the needle
Not Evan: You guys bumped Sixto Sanchez down from a 60 to a 55 this year. Was that because he missed the first month with an injury, or have you become less optimistic about his performance? I’m wondering whether the last few months have alleviated those concerns. Thanks!
Kiley McDaniel: The last few years, he’s basically constantly been either injured or out of shape because he was recently injured. It’s encouraging that he can hit 100 when this is the case, but this is not how most successful big league starters’ upper minors careers go. Always a shot that this can change — it’s not like he’s having arm surgery or anything — but it isn’t encouraging.
Kiley McDaniel: He was also at the bottom of the 60 FV group in the winter, so it wasn’t a huge move
Keith: How difficult is it to evaluate J2 pitchers given their age? Is more of an emphasis placed on current stuff or projectability?
Kiley McDaniel: There’s a reason when you hear names a year or two out, it’s only hitters. We’ve described the early development of hitters as gradual and for pitchers it’s often random, with injuries and/or velo spikes, with the velo spikes usually helping the off-speed stuff too
Kiley McDaniel: and the velo spiked/value changes are tied to age/strength, etc. so it comes later, whereas hitters, absent abrupt big physical changes, often progress in a more linear fashion
Kiley McDaniel: so for J2 pitchers, it’s usually 1 year or less before signing where decisions are made, so you can get them as late as possible but still have access to the top talents
Kiley McDaniel: and you look for projection, delivery, feel, etc. in most cases
Kiley McDaniel: because very few prospects have above average now MLB stuff
Kiley McDaniel: and Eric and I have said that paying for now-stuff without now-command in a teenage pitcher is one of the worst investments you can make, because you’re always paying retail
Kiley McDaniel: and the odds of injury go up when a teenage pitcher is throwing at MLB reliever velocityies
Kiley McDaniel: same goes for now-raw power without comparable now-hitting in the J2 market. Always paying retail, less attrition via injury than pitchers, but tons of busts
Danny: Have you heard anything about or seen two Yankees GCL pitchers- Juan Carela and Denny Larrando?
Kiley McDaniel: 88-92, high spin breaker, projection and athleticism, $550,000 bonus
Kiley McDaniel: Carela is another guy from the same class, but a bit behind Larrondo
James: Is Jeremiah Jackson a guy that could be moved up to 50 FV? His power output has been insane this year.
Kiley McDaniel: Probably not there yet, since his 50 FV age peers are in Low-A and High-A and he’s still in short season
Kiley McDaniel: That said, he isn’t that far off and we were the high guys on him as an amateur (31st on our board, 57th overall pick) since not many knew he had a bad summer due in large part to an eye issue that was fixed for his insane spring HS performance, but it was against weak competition, so some teams didn’t due their full deep dive to find that out.
James: Has Jordyn Adams disappointed this year or is this about what you expected given his two sport background?
Kiley McDaniel: Posting a 112 wRC+ as a 19-year-old in Low-A with almost no high level baseball background is really good. That’s 12% better than league average with the bat against a league full of guys that are all older than him, and the bat is the weakest part of his game.
Kiley McDaniel: He’s definitely got a good shot to get the bump to 50 FV with those peers I referenced earlier
Chaise: Thinking of doing a comprehensive analysis of teams with recent success in late rounds of the draft and trying to figure out why they are good at drafting talent late/what these players did that could foreshadow success in the future. Worth the research?
Kiley McDaniel: I don’t want to say it isn’t, but late rounds is usually a function of area scouts or analytics staffs and the stories vary player by player. Analytics people/approach are often pretty static year to year, except when there’s a new regime/big change and area scouts could change a lot. There’s just a lot of variables to consider and a handful of useful players, and many of those were big overslot bonuses that you should obviously toss out.
Ryan: What is the highest grade you would give a RP?
Kiley McDaniel: 50 FV
Keith : Is there a projected BA/OBP, number of HR’s or SB’s that are connected to the 20-80 scouting scale?
Kiley McDaniel: SB has too much other stuff to consider to include on the scale in most cases
Sir Nerdlington: Would you consider doing org rankings of player development departments?
Kiley McDaniel: I’ve been planning/working on this for awhile. Maybe this winter? Driveline did something like this
FRIEND: How much of aquino’s performance can be attributed to stance/swing change and how much can be attributed to randomness?
Kiley McDaniel: I think there’s been enough to say this isn’t random
Kiley McDaniel: He’s got huge power and was a top 100 prospect a few years ago, so there’s ability and his swing changed drastically and now he’s breaking HR records…I can’t say this could’ve happened to anyone
Fang Raphs: Please rank the following sandwiches using any criteria you desire: Cuban, Montecristo, Cheesesteak, Chicken Salad
Kiley McDaniel: 1. Cheesesteak
Bo: Trey Harris anything more than a potential bench bat?
Kiley McDaniel: Probably not, but that’s a nice scouting/development find if that’s all he is
Jason: Is Shane McClanahan near 50FV territory yet? Pitched very well this year showing some control gains (based on #s at least) while still maintaining a high k rate and a mid to hi 90s fastball and at least good curve. Do you have more confidence after this season that he can make it as a quality big league starter?
Kiley McDaniel: We upgraded him last week to 45+, so he’s as close as you can get
No Way Jose: Why is seemingly no one concerned about Nolan Jones (33.8% strikeout rate) and George Valera (26.7% strikeout rate) swinging and missing a lot?
Kiley McDaniel: Valera is 18 years old and is crushing a league full of guys 3-4 years older than him while playing CF
Kiley McDaniel: I feel like there’s way too much “yeah but there’s one bad thing in his numbers” amongst prospect watchers that ignore the 3-4 “holy crap, look at these good things”
Kiley McDaniel: Nolan Jones is a late-count (lots of BB and K) power hitter that’s performing, is young for the level and can play 3B
Kiley McDaniel: focus on that part, because the K’s come with the BB/HR, so he could have lower K’s and not be very good. would you prefer that?
Nick: Do you think Josh Stephen (PHI) is a legit prospect now? Or just an org guy?
Ryan: Luis Medina continued pitching well in his FSL debut last night. What are your sources saying about him?
Kiley McDaniel: He’s probably at the top of the list of guys we’re getting more info on. He’ll be going up, but we don’t want to move him once, then get more info and move him again.
Nick: How has Jeter Downs’ defense looked this season and what position do you think he ends up at (either in LA or elsewhere)?
Kiley McDaniel: Still likely 2B and he is also moving up, just figuring out where this week
Logan: When you talk about someone being young/old for their level, what are those ages at each level?
Kiley McDaniel: For prospects, the baseline is
18 – Rookie
19 – short-season
20 – Low-A
21 – High-A
22 – Double-A
23 – Triple-A
Kiley McDaniel: if a prospect is younger than those benchmarks, its a notable feather in the cap and you can round up a bit
Kiley McDaniel: for top 100-type prospects, they tend to be a level/year ahead of this rubric, starting Low-A at age 19 in first full season after being a HS pick, 17 in rookie ball after being J2 signee
Guest: People were fairly critical of Andujar’s defense last season, but is it really that absurd to think he can improve at playing 3B? Torres has improved from -8 dWAR last year to -1 dWAR this year in roughly the same number of games. Couldn’t Andujar make a similar leap?
Kiley McDaniel: Andujar is also unique because he has the tools to be good and often guys that aren’t good as D in their 20’s are just bad or need some work to improve agility
Kiley McDaniel: Arenado is the King of “wasn’t good on D, had tools to be good, then became the best” but that’s really unique. I wouldn’t project a big league to go from terrible to good, I’d just hope for average.
Yanks19: The numbers aren’t great but what kind of reports are you getting on Alexander Vargas and Kevin Alcantara in the GCL? Also Salinas who is having a pretty good season?
Kiley McDaniel: really positive on Alcantara and Vargas, both have moved up this year from the winter ranking
2014: Missed all of it due to TJ
2015: Missed all of it due to tailend of TJ and Sports Hernia issue
2017: Missed a quarter of his starts due to cancer
2019: Missed 80% of the season with various injuries; TJ
2020: Will miss the entire season due to TJ
Kiley McDaniel: Yeah that’s a pretty unfortunate run
Robert: When you were with the Braves was it immediately obvious that Acuña was special?
Kiley McDaniel: Yeah I’ve mentioned it before but Victor Robles was the hyped guy out of the Appy League in 2015, which is when I joined ATL. Acuna’s peak exit velo as a 17 year old was something insane over 110 mph already and Robles was more what you’d think a hit-over-power young CF would be, which is obviously much lower. Robles had a nice gradual improvement in that area while Acuna started much higher and still grew from there
Lazarus : What does peak Dylan Carlson look like? Averaging 520 with a 440 ISO, right? (I kid)
Kiley McDaniel: He can hit but it isn’t bonkers power, though you could see a 60 hit, 60 power, plenty of walks corner OF
Kiley McDaniel: so like .280/.350/.480 or so?
sandlotgiant1: Who are some of your early favorites from the 2020 international class?
Kiley McDaniel: and also the 2021 class, if you’re really insane
Kiley McDaniel: those names are all still top of the class types
Kiley McDaniel: Carlos Colmenarez is probably in front at this point
Jeffrey: Are pitch grades median values, like overall FV?
Kiley McDaniel: the present grade is mean of the quality of present pitches
Kiley McDaniel: future grade is what we think the mean will be in a couple years
Kiley McDaniel: future ones are a little more optimistic, since a 50 CB that never flashes 55 vs. one that flashes 60 should be noted differently, even if it’s somewhat likely they end up settling closer to the same in quality in a few years
Bo: Encouraged by Vaughn Grissom’s GCL start. Can he stick at short?
Kiley McDaniel: Possible, maybe 30%? Not that laterally quick, but the hands/arm are fine
Josh: Kendall Logan Simmons has started to heat up at the plate. Any late season buzz there?
Kiley McDaniel: He was just added to the Phillies list this week
Kiley McDaniel: Big power, used to have no idea at the plate, now has a new swing that has him more athletic and on time, so he’s got a shot
Roger: No question, just an observation: Of Atlanta’s $262M farm value, $197.5M of it resides in AAA.
Kiley McDaniel: Yeah, we’re actually gonna add some crosstabs to the Farm Rankings in the offseason, like upper/lower level concentration, average age, amount of upside, etc.
Kiley McDaniel: if you want to treat the farm system like a mutual fund and not get too detailed on any one player, this would allow you to do it
Jim Leyland Palmer: Could Tarik Skubal be an elite shut-down option coming out of the bullpen?
Kiley McDaniel: Plus fastball with TrackMan friendly characteristics, two offspeed pitches around average, throws strikes and is aggressive. I guess that could be fastball-heavy reliever, but he seems more suited to turning over a lineup once or twice
Kiley McDaniel: In that Bryse Wilson territory where 1 inning (3 pitches and feel) or 6 innings (no plus secondary for 2nd/3rd time thru lineup) are both not really a perfect fit
Hinkie: Any big movers (up or down) for the 2020 draft after their summer on the Cape or the CNT?
Jim Leyland Palmer: When would it be appropriate to get excited about the Tiger’s two big 2018 J2 guys, Reyes & De La Cruz?
Kiley McDaniel: They’re both on our Tigers rankings so I guess? DLC is a risky power-over-hit RF, Reyes has more stick and defense
Kiley McDaniel: Tigers prospect twitter also seems to have been much more active the last year or so
Bearry: Ex-Rays coming up right and left. Which of Gibaut, Solak, Burke, Fraley, and Wood all up with McCarthy and Sanchez soon to follow. Who hurts the most?
Kiley McDaniel: Sanchez is the only one we think is more than a 45 or 50 type
Kiley McDaniel: and there’s some risk to Sanchez becoming a 55-60 FV type, so maybe none?
Chicken Wars: Popeyes sandwich vs Chick fil a vs Wendys Spicy ?
Kiley McDaniel: actually going to try the popeyes one sometime soon bc I’m curious
Evan: This must be so stressful for you, to be in the business of constantly making predictions in a field that’s pretty hazy to begin with, and then inviting a bunch of people to question you on those predictions.
Kiley McDaniel: never really thought of it that way, but i’ll take any sympathy you guys want to give me
Matt: Hi Kiley! If the decision was yours, how would you personally choose to allocate your international bonus spending? Would you spend it all on the best talent (maybe top 5 rank)? Spread it across several top 20-30 talents? Try hard to trade for additional bonus room? Would your philosophy change dependent on the perceived talent level of the very top guys? Thanks!
Kiley McDaniel: the talent dictates the strategy
Kiley McDaniel: all things being equal, i’d spread it around b/c there’s so much projection on even the most polished players. but if i think there’s a truly elite guy for most of my pool, i’m changing it up
Bort: How big of a problem is the anchoring bias in prospect analysis, especially when a guy like Tarik Skubal comes along?
Kiley McDaniel: It’s more of a feature than a bug. When Austin Riley comes up and goes nuts and every Riley comment in the chat is we were too low on him and a month later it’s we were too high on him, having some inertia to changing rankings on short-term performances is good
Kiley McDaniel: Skubal was a totally different type of pitcher in college (stuff with limited command), but still good, then blew out, then couldn’t throw strikes and had average stuff in his draft year, then started performing some this year…we should want to see some sustained performance and health when he’s basically never done it before. And now he’s performed for a few months and we moved him up once it was clear he’s now this type of pitcher.
Kiley McDaniel: So I’m fine with that process, because it’s how the people that make million dollar decisions on these guys do it, too.
Kiley McDaniel: If a team was confronted with a potential Skubal trade a month ago, push some resources into making a decision and get comfortable with him a month before we did. But we’re also keeping tabs on about 2000 guys in the minors and there are no 7-figure decisions, so we’ll be a little slower than the quickest team will be on in-season promotions
Kiley McDaniel: There are certainly times that guys without a profile don’t get a fair shake simply because they didn’t have a profile, but after some Jose Ramirez’s, we see the hole and give those guys the benefit of the doubt/dig deeper. Luis Arraez is a good example.
Kiley McDaniel: And we also have access to the sort of info in selected instances that we didn’t have a few years ago, so I’d like to think the better process will mean better results on the performance over track record/hype/tools types
randomdude: What can you tell me about Graham Ashcraft? Seems like he’s got great stuff based on his player page, but i cant find any info on him, and his college track record is super underwhelming.
Kiley McDaniel: High profile HS arm up to 99 with sharp breaker, no command, TJ in college, hot start in 2019 at UAB, tailed off, reliever look
Kiley McDaniel: pretty good spin rates, some upside, but likely 1-2 inning type and some teams were scared off by medical past
Jake: Who’s the guy that people aren’t talking about right now that they should be?
Kiley McDaniel: For the record, there’s like 20 of these questions in the queue every week. It’s a bad question to basically ask “who are you wrong about” since I obviously can’t know that? And if you mean guys we have rated higher than others, that’s also a bad question since we’re the place with the easiest access to what we currently think about every notable player below the MLB level, so you can pretty easily compare that to whatever other people have said
Jake: U do sandwich rankings too?
Kiley McDaniel: oh i do it all honey
Hoser: At what point in your prospect list do you have to start looking the guys up to refresh your memory?
Kiley McDaniel: there’s some 40s i’m not very familiar with on the teams i don’t know as well. there’s some teams where i can rattle off 10 other just-missed names off the top of my head after the 30-40 that we list
Eppo: Have you seen Johan Rojas? Is he toolsy?
Kiley McDaniel: No! Yes!
Tommy: Where do you expect Hugh Fisher to fit in Vandy’s staff next year? Hickman and Rocker look like locks for the weekend. Eder got more meaningful postseason innings in ’19. Leiter, Brown, Smith and others need innings. There’s a lot of mouths to feed!
Kiley McDaniel: I think Fisher may be the Dane Dunning type that fills in on the weekend when someone is hurt, maybe starts some midweek games, relieves on weekends, etc.
Kiley McDaniel: I would guess Rocker, Leiter, Hickman are weekend, Eder, Smith and Brown are pen
Kiley McDaniel: Fisher could go either way
IsIt2020Yet?: Do you do bad question rankings?
Kiley McDaniel: oooh that would be a solid way to own the morons that complain about how i answered their question incorrectly
Todd: I was watching this prospect in Iowa yesterday. Seems like he’s got an effortless power stroke, deploying an optimal launch angle in his swing. Know anything about him? Any major league potential?
Kiley McDaniel: i heard he was a lefty?
Joser: Just want to see you guys are awesome and your coverage is 2nd to none.
Enlightening Round: Can’t usually make to chats, have to read the transcripts but thank you for ALL of your work and content
Kiley McDaniel: that was almost too earnest, but i’ll take it! thanks
Federal Officers: We’re looking for a Mr. Gorland, have you seen him?
Gorland: Kiley kiley kiley I am not here, please be cool man. Just say I’m not here.
Gorland: Oh and apparently I’m supposed to put on my goody two shoes and pay taxes like some kind of boy scout
Kiley McDaniel: hmmm feels like we’re in range
Mike from queens : Hey Kiley, first time long time, if Adley Rutschman comes up and is terrible can’t we say Adley was rushed, Man? Thanks, I’ll hang up and listen.
Walter Sobchak: Would you care to help heal this country’s racial divide by comping Mike Cameron and Josh Lowe?
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.