So I'll chat till about quarter after 2, then I'm going to help test-drive the Vokle video chat system, where I'll take more questions but answer them ... with video. In case that wasn't obvious.
Could we end up looking back on this draft and saying Walker Weichel was the best arm in it?
Yes, I think that's possible.
More likely scenario for Fried, Appel, Giolito: the order they are picked in the draft or the name of a dessert from the Top Chef finale?
I think the latter is more likely. I love Fried but can't see him going first of that troika. I feel like Blais would add some fried Cecchini blossoms to that dish.
KLaw, could i get your thoughts on Texas prep SS CJ Hinojosa?
I think he goes to school and comes out as a top 50 guy in three years.
Is there any chance of Nolan Arenado opening the season at third, or is it going to be a mid-late season call up?
I think they would be nuts to jump him from the Cal League to the majors. One, he's not ready. Two, very very few players can successfully skip AA and AAA. Three, the marginal gain to having him on the roster all season versus the existing options might be a win - hardly worth starting his clock early and risking his development.
where would Buxton go in the 2011 draft? how would he compare to Bubba Starling?
I'd say 8th or even 9th. Not as physical as Starling.
Would you rather have Tom Milone or Eric Surkamp as your 5th starter?
Surkamp. Might miss some bats with the offspeed stuff.
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being most surprised) how surprised would you be to see Henderson Alvarez be the Jays most effective starter this year?
About 8. Romero's pretty damn good.
What, specifically will keep Cozart out of the discussion for NLROY (please don't say something like, "talent")?
Lack of bat.
Why hasn't a high school RHP ever been picked first overall? Is there a rational reason?
Multiple long-standing industry biases. But HS arms aren't as risky today as they were 10-15 years ago, when teams would sign 18-year-olds in July, throw them 190 innings the following year, and wonder why they got hurt.
Selig says an international draft is inevitable. Thoughts?
It's inevitable as long as he's in charge. He's not the person you want setting MLB's philosophy on amateur talent.
Where would Paul Goldschmidt have ranked in your top 100?
Same place as last year.
Is this the make or break year for Josh Vitters, or has that ship already sailed? No chance he develops the discipline but is there any hope for the power development?
I feel like that ship has probably sailed.
Wouldn't an international draft hurt small market teams by eliminating one more area in which a small market team's dollar can go further than in free agency? Some of those teams have extensive scouting dollars invested already internationally
Yes. But the new CBA hurt those teams too.
Are there any college bats 1st round worthy in the coming draft?
My top 50 draft prospects went up this morning: http://klaw.me/xWQB8s
whats the downlow on Marcus Stroman?
He's on my top 50. Most likely a reliever, but I think the chances he starts in pro ball are nonzero. Gets Tom Gordon comps for good and bad reasons.
If there is a cap in the draft, why doesn't mlb allow trades for draft picks?
Because allowing trades would also help low-revenue clubs, and we wouldn't want to do that.
If you were Terry Ryan, what are you hoping for at #2?
I'd be happy with Buxton or Giolito, right now. And perhaps Appel shows something more over the course of the spring.
When do predraft opinions on players start to calcify? A couple weeks prior, a month prior? When does groupthink start to set in?
I think by late April, which is why I don't do first-round projections until May. Anything before that is a fabrication.
Speaking of your top 50 draft prospects is that the order you expect them to be drafted or does organizational need trump talent?
That's my pref list, not any individual team's pref list. No one drafts for need unless they want to get fired, though.
How much better Will Joe Ross be than is brother Tyson? Besides the former a starter the latter a reliever.
I think Joe Ross matures into an ace.
Any chance Branden Kline sticks as a starter in the pros? Or is his future as a reliever?
Liked him as a starter prospect out of HS, but he'll have to re-prove that this year, and show he can handle the workload.
Giolito or Archie Bradley? Who was the better prep arm?
Bradley. Better CB.
How difficult is it for somebody like Michael Wacha to learn a breaking ball? Isn't the change up the more difficult pitch to develop because it's so feel dependent?
Breaking ball is harder to learn. The curveball is either in your wrist or it's not.
Keith, I asked you this on Twitter but I know you get a ton of questions so i wanted to try here 9where you get even MORE question...). Giants tell Buster to not block the plate...when you start being told not to do parts of your job, isnt it time to find a new job?
I think it's a sign they intend to move him. But blocking the plate is a tiny part of a catcher's job anyway.
Mark Appel or Gerrit Cole?
Transitive property applies. I think the top player this year would be 8th or 9th last year, so the 3rd player this year (Appel) would be way behind my top player from last year (Cole). Cole threw a little harder with a much better changeup.
If someone is on the 40 man roster, are teams required to have them in big league camp? I noticed that Dylan Bundy is currently preparing with the ML team.
Yes, the 40-man roster is the 'major league roster' for spring training.
Where would Jorge Soler rank on that list?
I haven't seen him, but based on industry chatter I'd say top 10.
When will you be back to work post-surgery? All the best. We're looking forward to The dish: Hospital Post-Op Eats!
Thank you - surgery tomorrow, should be able to sit and write by Monday. I reserve the right to tweet once the anesthesia wears off, though.
Have you ever tried teaching baseball or are you just in the evaluation/management game?
I haven't, other than giving a little advice here and there. There are more qualified teachers out there.
Lost in the shuffle of Tracy's indefinite contract was the fact that O'Dowd announced it. Does that mean he's got an indefinite deal, too? With my favorite team heading down the dreadful path of 'grit over talent,' do I have any hope?
I assume this means when O'Dowd eventually loses his job, Tracy does too. I can't believe ownership was comfortable with this. Tracy is the worst manager in the game right now, considering all aspects; I think he cost them a playoff berth in 2010 with his mismanaging. Why would Colorado commit to him long-term, even if it's just a 'handshake' deal?
Lance McCullers didn't crack the top 50, though BA and some other scouts call him top 10 among prep players. Got concerns about him or is the college field just deep?
He's a projected reliever with bad arm action and no plane on his fastball. I can't speak for BA, but I've seen him and wouldn't project him as a starter, and no one I've spoken to argued he belonged on my list. I had a few college relievers on there, but no high school arms whose futures were in the pen. That's a category I wouldn't touch in the top 50.
Why are you taking me out? Why are you not killing me softly with radioactive iodine? Are you allergic?
Because I have a nodule in the left lobe of my thyroid that is larger than the lobe itself. The iodine would kill the gland and leave the nodule.
anyone in particular have a lot of early helium for this year's draft? heard chatter on twitter that kyle zimmer could be a top 5 pick
He does have a ton of helium, although that's based on two short outings where he could really air it out.
does hedges have my offensive upside?
Klaw, really enjoy your work. I know you prefer high upside guys, but if Marrero is a surefire big league shortstop who can hit, he seems really hard to pass on - even at 1.
I believe he'll be in Houston's mix. But I don't think he's a superstar - he's not Tulowitzki, for example.
Speaking of the Posey request, I've never understood why it's perfectly legal to steamroll the catcher.
It's not. But MLB has rolled over and played dead on the obstruction/interference issue at the plate.
Where would Lawrie have ranked in your top 100 if he was eligible?
I can't answer that unless we're also putting back Jennings and Ackley and Kipnis ... at which point, we have a different list. I did a separate top non-rookies under 25 list in December instead.
Do you think Tyler Naquin will fill out a little more, adding to his power?
I wouldn't project much power there.
much *more* power there. He has doubles power, of course.
You think it's in Toronto's best interest to go after Soler? And what chances to give them in landing him?
I don't see why any team would avoid him - if you can add talent, don't you try to add it?
The Wire, Season 4 review? Coming any time soon?Business men, such as myself, does not believe in bad blood with a man such as yourself. Disturbs the sleep.
I have three episodes left, which I assume I'll watch while recovering this weekend.
Where would K. Whitson fit on your list if he was draft eligible?
Top 5, certainly, even if we add in the other top guys from the '13 college crop. But I don't know the '13 HS crop well.
Which country, not currently on our radar, will soon begin producing quality major league talent?
Good one. Top candidates would be South Africa, Germany, Brazil.
What are your thoughts on Nick Williams?
Has really gone backwards over the last year. Still giving him a chance to become a first-rounder again, but right now, he's in the tank.
Klaw, how common is it for a team drafting in the middle of the first round getting a top 5 guy on their internal board?
I looked great at the end of 2010 and then sucked last year. What's my deal?
You got the yips. Heard you were better at the end of the year.
Why do teams lose the rights to draft picks if they decide to go back to school? Doesn't seem right.
You'd prefer to make the players the permanent property of the first teams to draft them? Were you also a fan of indentured servitude?
So how bad has Stanford coaching messed up OF Austin Wilson as a player that you saw?
I don't know how you take a 6'5" 240 pound player and turn him into a singles hitter. Talked to a scout who saw one of their practices and said Marquess would scream at hitters who tried to drive the ball out and cheer hitters who made weak contact the other way.
Downloaded Ticket to Ride recently. It has quickly become my go-to game. A game against bots takes less than 10 minutes. Though I worry that the bots are pretty bad and I'm not learning how to beat a thinking opponent.
Really strong online community, though. Easy to find a quick game. The bots aren't that good, unfortunately.
China and India have HUGE populations. Do you have any ideas why we aren't finding more talented baseball players in those countries?
Because baseball requires specialized skills that come from years of playing. Neither of those countries has a strong history of the game at the youth level.
Why is Haiti not more of a exporter of ball players? They share an island with the Dominican.
Same answer. Although I wonder if MLB is missing an opportunity to do some social good there while establishing the sport.
Does Alex Meyer project more as a starter or as a reliever in the majors?
Most folks in the industry say reliever. I'd like to at least see him get a year or two to start in the minors and prove he can't do it.
You seem to like Nolan Fontana more than most. Just curious why that is?
More than who? Fontana plays good shortstop and takes great at bats. I see an everyday guy at a position teams kill to fill.
Why do players from the Midwest get no love in your top 50 draft when Illinois has consitantly put players in the MLB
Either name a player from the Midwest who belonged on my top 50 this year, or quit whining about nonexistent bias.
Why don't more ballplayers come out of Cuba, Klaw?????
Because the guards will kill you if the electrified fence doesn't first.
Even if Ryan Braun is somehow exonerated in his PED appeal, does it even matter? Seems like it would be a Fatty Arbuckle situation - even if you win, you lose.
Yes, they're going to Ray Donovan him either way.
Why am I so tortured over free money for the rest of my life?
That's gotten almost as old as Bates' martyr act.
Hope you are recovering well. I am going to be stuck in Tucson for 10 days for work, with some free time, is there a spring training site that stands out as better than the rest to make a weekend trip to?
Salt River. Bit of a hike from Tucson, but right off the highway and worth the trip. Then have dinner at Soi4 (Thai) right afterwards.
You should definitely post right out of anesthesia -- the stream-of-consciousness snark would be worth the read! Question about Rule 5: the provisions (draft for $50k, offer back for $25k) have been in effect since those amounts meant something to a front office. Any idea why the fees have remained unchanged? Is it to encourage teams to use the draft?Thanks, and hope the surgery goes well!
They gutted the draft two CBAs ago by adding a year to the pre-eligibility period for players, so the amounts are really irrelevant now.
Is Damien Magnifico's arm troubles part of the reason he wasn't listed on your draft prospects?
That's a good guess.
Why reliever for Meyer? Lack of secondary pitches, or issues with repeating his delivery, or something else? Thanks as always.
Primarily issues with his delivery. Sometimes those really tall pitchers take longer to get the body control required to repeat a delivery 100 times in a game. Sometimes they blow out before it ever happens.
I know you discount relievers, but why didn't Heath Hembree make your top 100?
Because he's a pure reliever. Hard to put a guy on there who'll struggle to reach 2 WAR in his best years, no matter how much I like him. I only put one pure reliever on the list, and I think he was at 98.
Most experts don't seem to care about minor league stats as an indicator of future success (the lukewarm at best reaction to Bryan LaHair starting after his monster AAA year for example)... Then why are Aaron Hicks and Martin Perez so much lower on prospect charts this year?
I think your first statement is hyperbole - I don't ignore the stats; I just refuse to use them as some absolute predictor of future performance when they're clearly not.
When you do the top 100 do you try to get a prospect from every system? Because that one pure reliever was also the only White Sox prospect.
No. The Brewers whiffed last year. There's no quota system here.
Happy with the TC final two? Also, that was pretty cool that you wrote an artice for bravotv.com.
Thanks, it was fun to do. This is all about Paul - he's so clearly the best chef this season that I don't care who's second as long as he wins.
Do you see all teams conducting Spring Training in AZ eventually? Seems like the teams left in FL are so spread out that it's no longer worth the headache (or will tradition always win out??).
Most teams left in FL make money off it; I think Toronto and Houston are exceptions, and I figure both will move in the next few years, either to AZ or to someplace else in Florida.
Can you link us to you Bravo article?
Posted before last week's episode: http://klaw.me/AcOoUa
Even if Ryan Braun gets suspended for 50 games, I still think the brewers can contend in the NL central. They have one of the best pitching staffs and bullpens. What do you think?
I think without Braun for 50 games they are well behind the top two teams in that division.
How do you feel about people posting sections of your insider columns elsewhere?
Quoting is fine. Reproducing it wholesale is not - and it's copyright infringement.
How are you feeling, by the way?
Anxious as hell, actually. I need to just get the surgery over with at this point so I can stop obsessing over it.
How would you set up the WBC if you had the power?
I love the new play-in rounds. There's a lot of marketing value for baseball in including more countries, even if it's just for preliminary rounds, and if some random country were to sneak into the final 16 or 8 it would generate a lot of positive news coverage there.
So I'm 4 eps into Downton Abbey. I never thought I'd enjoy a show about 1920s English class systems, but not bad so far. Is it ok to watch this show and still call myself a real man?
Definitely. As long as you're not posting about it on Pinterest.
Hosmer or Jennings for their careers - offense only.
Byron Buxton....more like Justin or B.J.
I feel obligated to say Justin ... but BJ isn't a bad player at all, and in his draft he was also the best prospect.
Freeman, same upside as James Loney or can he be more?
I'd say more - I've never been wild about Loney.
I don't expect anyone to mistake Brandon Crawford for Tulo, but can he hit enough to be an everyday player?
Do you think there is any chance Amaro gives Domonic Brown a chance this year- or is Rube(n) going to continue to devalue a promising prospect who should be playing full time in MLB for reasons I certainly can't understand?
I feel like they've given up on Brown.
A local writer for the Denver Post said earlier this week that Tracy's strength is his in game management. After wiped the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard, I began to wonder what the writer would consider his weknesses if his strength was being the worst tactical manager in the game. Thoughts?
I really have no words for this.
What will the White Sox get from Viciedo? Big middle order power bat, or low OBP mistake hitter?
Closer to the latter, but enough to play every day for them.
A lot of times on the internets I see people wondering why a lot of the scouting writers rarely rate 1B very high in their Top 100 lists (meaning in the Top 25). My assumption is that is because first basemen have to hit so well to be an elite player that it's extremely difficult to predict that level of consistent offensive production based on minor league numbers. Is that a pretty fair assessment?
Yes. Replacement level at 1b is really high. And it should be.
Really quick question - what year did you start doing prospect evaluations?
I've been doing them (publicly) since I came to ESPN in 2006, although I feel like I finally started to get the hang of it after about two years on the job.
Kindle or Apple?Victor Roache or David Dahl ?
Apple. Roache and Dahl are both on today's top 50, and not close to each other.
From the brief profile, Marrero and Fontana sound similar - everyday shortstop but not a star. What are the big separators between the two?
Marrero has more present hit tool.
Anesthesia is pretty wild. After it's over, you'll be amazed how you went out in a nanosecond. Surgery sucks, but don't overlook how fascinating the whole process is.
I've had a number of tests that used Versed, which puts you into "twilight sleep," and am always amazed at how fast you just wink out. "OK, Mr. Law, count down from 60..." I never remember anything after 58.
Michael in Philadelphia - hit me up over email/Twitter and I'll give you the name you need. Thanks.
Gilmartin doesn't seem to get much pub, probably due to the other arms in the ATL system. What's his upside? #2-3?
No, more like 4-5. He doesn't get much pub because he has an average fastball and fringy slider.
Game of Thrones Season 2 starts April 1. With HBO 2 Go you have time to catch season 1. Thank me later.
No interest, sorry. After the Wire I think I'll catch up on Luther next, and then I have a number of choices.
Thoughts on Terry Collins calling out Ruben Tejada for not arriving early at camp?
This new trend of dinging players for arriving on time instead of early really annoys my face off.
OK, I'm going to wrap this up here. Thanks for all of the questions and the well wishes. I hope to tweet some good news over the weekend.