Transcript: ESPN MLB Draft Media Conference Call with Kiley McDaniel


Transcript: ESPN MLB Draft Media Conference Call with Kiley McDaniel

ESPN MLB Insider and MLB Draft expert Kiley McDaniel was made available to media earlier today to discuss the 2024 MLB Draft. The first round of the event will air across ESPN and ESPN+, starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, from the historic Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. McDaniel will be part of ESPN’s robust coverage of the event.

Q. I was just curious, from what you’ve seen in past years, a lot of the times the scouting is mainly physical, but with what you’ve seen from the players that have succeeded or maybe not succeeded so much, what sort of mental traits have you noticed in the players?

KILEY MCDANIEL: Boy, existential here at the beginning.

It’s interesting because — the process, experience I had working on the team side is often when you had — as an evaluator. So like I would go in, see a guy, usually not talk to him, not talk to his family, not talk to his coach, just kind of sit in the background. I likened it to espionage. You sit in the background and watch stuff and write things down, and you go back and report.

There’s other people on the staff, whether it’s the decision makers, the scouting director at the top, or area scout, normally someone at the bottom, sort of the tip of the spear, they will, like, coach the player in, like, a prospect league or showcase, and then the very top, the first couple rounds, we’ll go have a meeting with the family and talk to the agent.

Sort of those two brackets on either side of me sort of come together and have all of the information.

On the media side, I usually say there’s like maybe ten guys on the draft board every year where I know this guy has really good or really bad makeup. If it’s really bad — if it’s short of criminal, I don’t really report. I won’t really mention it. Sometimes I’ll say there’s questions and I’m intentionally vague because I don’t want to get into specifics. When guys are really good, I’ll throw it out there because usually everybody think it’s good if teams are volunteering it as good.

I say that because the limitation from my point of view is I don’t get the other 95 percent of the guys — there’s all kinds of things. There’s all kinds of different things. There’s S2 cognition where they measure — they’re trying to figure out the hitting gene. It’s the process of seeing something, thinking something, sending a thought to your hands and then your hands doing something, they measure that really well.

There used to be something, like I know the Red Sox talk about with Mookie Betts and the tap test and stuff like that. Those are things that have gone off to the wayside.

They used to take the Meyers Briggs, which is now, like, irrelevant for baseball, and they do a bunch of other things that are more specific.

I remember talking in one Draft room I was in, they were talking about a guy’s impulse control. I came in halfway through the conversation, I’m like, impulse control, what are they talking about? They’re like, oh, if somebody is impulsive, which you can probably imagine 10 different things that would be impulsive; you’d probably think of a friend or family member who’s impulsive, they’re like, that guy is not going to be as good at work ethic or plate discipline or maybe staying focused as a pitcher into the second time through the order. They’re taking a test to measure things like that.

This was like eight years ago. So now there’s the sports science elements, all kinds of different things, where people are trying to tease out the idea of kind of what you’re getting at, which is how can we measure and predict how someone will approach the game? And thus five years from now when they’re in AAA and they’ve never failed before and now they’re going to fail, how are they going to handle that?

You can imagine, like, with you five years ago, what are you going to be like today when someone gives you a problem. You might not know today what you’ll look like when you get a problem later today and how you’ll respond to it and what’ll happen, and what someone watching you from the outside will think or if someone’s measuring metrics of what your heart rate does.

That’s sort of absurd, but also that’s why the money is there. You’re getting seven figures so we can figure out how you’re going to respond to these things.

While I would love to give you a very detailed question about what these guys do, it is probably — other than pitcher health, it’s the hardest thing to figure out, and teams all go at it a different way, and they all change it every year when they realize that there are limitations.

I would say one other thing which I mentioned in my book up here. Eric and I were trying to figure out how to quantify makeup, not that you can put a number on it, but we separated it into on-field makeup, like away-from-the-ballpark makeup, and then sort of at-the-ballpark-but-not-on-the-field makeup, and sort of gave examples of like, oh, Nick Swisher is good at two of those and can be kind of annoying with the third one. Cole Hamels was good at two and wasn’t good at the first one. There’s examples of guys that work out and don’t work out doing that.

I think that’s actually what teams kind of need to do is really separate it into these are the six very distinct things we think predict this and figure out a way to score that. Then after three or four years later go back and see if those scores were good. I don’t think any of them are really good at it. I think they’re all just kind of flailing around trying to find an answer, which as it sounds like I may have been flailing around trying to find an answer because there’s not one.

Q. Quick followup, if I may. Obviously there’s a little bit of difference in maturity with high school and college players, but is there times where, if a team notices that the maturity might be down for a high school player, obviously if the physical quality is there, they might just take them and see if they can fix it throughout the Minor League process. What sort of difference have you seen between those sort of traits between college and high school that might be a little bit surprising at times?

KILEY MCDANIEL: Yeah, they’re very different. Trying to predict what an 18-year-old will be like years later when they get — in a lot of cases, if you haven’t gone to college, you haven’t lived on your own yet, much less how are you going to do all these baseball things we’re talking about.

Then the other element of that, I know some teams I’ve been with, they’ll have an extra roster spot. If they’re really good at player development, will go spend 125K, really the number you spend on guys late in the draft, on a high school guy who might not play a lot because he needs two years in rookie ball to figure out what’s going on; we think this is like an $800,000 player if he gets to college after a year or two. Now there’s a whole level of the Minor Leagues that’s missing so you can’t do that anymore.

So I think the sort of focus is getting in a smaller and smaller group of high school players, and those guys are going through multiple years of the showcase circuit and all that kind of stuff and are doing interviews sort of year round.

So I think that focus is getting so much smaller and smaller with players that are being held up to the light even closer in terms of trying to figure out what their mentality is like and what their skills are and all the sport science and all that kind of thing.

I think it’s becoming less of a concern now because most teams are signing on average one or two high school players out of each draft. So most of them don’t have that exact problem. But it is another good question of what do you do? What do you do with the player that comes from Latin America and signs at 16 and comes to America at 20 and then is in the World Series. I don’t know; I wouldn’t handle that well. If you put me in the Dominican Republic with millions of dollars at 20 years old, I wouldn’t know what to do.

That’s just another one of those things about baseball where you’re dealing with human beings, so it’s very difficult to predict people.

Q. Just a little more straightforward, wondering what you think the Rays will do. Two, they have a lot of infielders in their system right now. I’m wondering if there is an opportunity in this draft class to maybe restock their pitching a little bit.

KILEY MCDANIEL: Yes, they do. Good question. I noticed that when I did my preview of the draft. I was like, wow, the top of their list has a lot of infielders, and historically they’ve taken guys like that.

The players that I have heard them tied to are mostly high school players, some infielders, but they’re also at a point in the Draft where I think there are, call it 14 to 16 sort of agreed-upon players ahead of them, and they’re at 19 — 18. So if any one of those top-tier players gets through, which would probably be a college hitter, I think they’ll take them.

I think they’re preparing as though none of those players will get through, and thus they’ll be looking at that sort of fresh next tier of players, and it’s mostly high school players. I think they’re looking at upside, I think Kellon Lindsey, the infielder out of Hardy High School, who is the most local guy in the whole draft, he would be the guy that I would sort of say typifies their approach, which is another shortstop. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that that’s the case.

It is typical — and I would say the Rays fall into this as well. Sorry, I’m looking at my second monitor with all my spreadsheets. A lot of teams approach this sort of situation as in the first round or two, we get the best player, and we lean position player, and then later on there are a lot of teams that will go around, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, we take college pitching or junior college pitching or whatever, and that’s where we create the depth because we think that the stuff that we’re good at scouting and developing are not necessarily the most expensive. So we’ll spend the money down there because we think hitters are better values up top. I would say two-thirds of the league thinks of it that way.

In terms of pitching depth, I would agree, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to take an infielder with their first pick. In fact, if you made me guess, I would probably say they are going to take an infielder or at least a guy who will nominally start his career as an infielder early in his career because that’s also what they’ve been good at. They’ve drafted three — like top half of the top 100 infielders in the last three drafts with their first pick. I kind of feel like they should keep doing that, at least with their first pick.

Q. Asking you a couple of Kentucky questions. Ryan Waldschmidt, we’ve seen him go either close to the top 10 or falling out of the first round. If you could talk about him and what he might offer a pro ball club and if he could possibly make it to the show. What does he do well? Then maybe a couple of other Kentucky prospects you have your eyes on, guys you like, and maybe some MLB teams will like later in the Draft.

KILEY MCDANIEL: Waldschmidt, I think he and Vance Honeycutt of North Carolina are, like, the two most polarizing guys in the first round. Honeycutt because the scouts love how it looks, and then the numbers guys hate how it has happened at the plate. Waldschmidt, scouts don’t really like how it looks and the numbers guys love how it looks on the sheet.

So there’s going to be a lot of — I think they will both profile as Honeycutt will go to more of an old-school team or a team that really values the sports sciency athletic elements. Waldschmidt I think will go to a team that, A, the players they really like are gone, so we’re talking about, whatever it is, there’s a top tier of ten and then that next group of three or four, so right around pick 14 or 15 I think he makes sense for a lot of teams because he’ll be at the top of that next tier and you’ve got an SEC performer…

Depending on how you look at it, his hitting metrics, depending how you define it, is either second or third behind Condon and Bazzana. But not in terms of defensive value, not very good in left field, had an ACL. I think some people wonder is that power going to play as much in the pros when everybody throws 95 or is it something that works really well in college and just works okay in the Big Leagues? And if it turns out the power plays more at 20 home runs instead of maybe 25, and the on-base instead of being at .350 instead of being .320, that goes from an everyday left fielder to a platoon guy, and getting an unathletic platoon guy, unathletic in the sense of defensively, some teams really don’t like and are scared of, and other teams are like this guy is going to be in Double-A next year; what are we doing?

I think he is in that, say, 15 to 25, like a pretty wide range because I think it’ll be spotty where not every team is going to have the same evaluation.

KILEY MCDANIEL: I think he is sneaky in that maybe late second round, sneaking on the first day. If not, I think he probably goes in the third round. He has a lot of qualities that teams look for where he’s later blooming, Canadian, maybe doesn’t conventionally look like a shortstop, but he has some of those same qualities. The hitting metrics are excellent, again in the SEC, can run a little bit, can steal some bags. I would say he’s the only other guy at Kentucky that is probably in play the first four rounds.

Then there’s one commit, Tyler Bell, that I think also is in play, rounds 2 or 3. Again, it kind of comes down to the price. If he wants 2 million, probably not going to get it. If he wants 1 million, pretty good chance he gets it. He’s in that conversation. I don’t know which one of those he is; they usually don’t tell me until after.

Those guys are probably relevant for the first three or four rounds.

Q. Sorry, if you don’t mind, maybe an arm. Mason Moore is kind of an interesting guy. He could come back. A lot of guys are talking about him. Do you have any arms you’re looking at?

KILEY MCDANIEL: Travis Smith is probably the first one, although I guess he’s already left in the portal. I guess he is nominally at Kentucky. He’s the first one I have in the five, six round conversation. There could be one that sneaks up there, but that’s not a conversation in that area since I’m really dialed in on the first three or four rounds.

Q. Wanted to touch on a couple of the top pitchers. You’ve got Smith and Burns in your top 10 right now. That seems to sort of be the consensus. I’m wondering does either of the two have a chance of somehow escaping out of the top 10? Which pitcher might have a better chance of falling?

KILEY MCDANIEL: Burns, I can’t see getting — I think he will go 2, 3, 4, I’d say 5 to maybe 8 is as far as he goes. I don’t think he has a chance. I think he is somewhat universally — consensus, if not unanimous, the best pitcher in the Draft. I think he’s also seen as, as long as there is not a sort of surprising event and injury, velo backs up, whatever it is, I think he’ll be in at least Double-A at this point next year, which then makes him a guy that has value to every team. Everyone wants a minimum league optional starter that you don’t mind bringing up and pitching in the eighth or ninth inning as a rookie and then easing into it.

Every team in baseball needs five of those guys, so I think he has somewhat universal in that way.

Hagen Smith, the opinions vary a lot more. I talked to one guy who basically described him as his in-zone miss is so good, I don’t know if he’s in the zone enough to actually take advantage of it. And what he does, if you go to the TrackMan data, and I’ll say this in a more endearing way, nerds, the stuff-plus numbers aren’t great. But he gets great in-zone miss.

There’s a little bit of I-don’t-understand-how-this-is-happening. To my eyes it looks good. The performance, strikeout-to-walk is fantastic, but the data is not very good.

But then you look at where the locations are, and it’s pretty good. You have four different tiers of I don’t know what this is. Every team is going to have a slightly different take on him. He’s a guy that I think will probably go 7 to 10, and I could see him maybe getting to 11 or 12, but that’s like 20 percent chance he gets past 10. So I don’t think that’s the case.

Then there’s a pretty big dropoff to that next tier, where I think Caminiti on the high school side, possibly Mayfield would be the next high school arm. He might get all the way to 23, so there’s a pretty big jump there. Yesavage I think goes 11 to 17. And then Cijntje from Mississippi State is kind of coming up late and might actually jump over Yesavage. He’s in that conversation there. But I don’t think any of those guys are necessarily going to jump into the top 10. Caminiti has a tiny chance, but all of those guys are pretty securely in that 11 to 20 area, and I think Brody Brecht is probably on the fringes of that conversation, as well.

After that, there’s a giant dropoff. There might not be another pitcher until like 30 to 35. So there’s a very clear top two, a pretty clear tier of three or four guys, and then a giant dropoff after that.

Q. I want to ask you about a couple Longhorns. First I want to ask you about Theo Gillen from Westlake and just kind of where he falls in this. I know he had the labrum issue, and he’s kind of dealt with some of those things, but I know people like his bat. Where do you see him? What’s his ceiling in this draft?

KILEY MCDANIEL: He’s been, I think, gaining steam throughout the spring because everybody sort of understood, like oh, this is second base, maybe center field, but no one’s played center field. A lot of teams sort of backed away because they will then think worst-case scenario. What if he has a 20 arm and he’s a DH and I’m taking a high school DH that doesn’t have big power. I can’t take that guy.

I think what’s happened is the first two high school guys in this draft, Rainer and Griffin, both have hit tool questions, and Gillen does not. So I think the more teams get in the room and have these conversations and sort of drill down, they’re like, these other two guys play shortstop, and we’re not positive they’re going to hit. So the power might not be that important.

Gillen we know is going to hit, and we think he can play second base right next to those guys, and he has enough power to be an everyday guy and he can run, and we have no questions about this. So I think he’s almost looked at more as a college player, as the ceiling is a bit lower, but we have a better idea of what he is.

So there’s some people that think he might be the second best high school player ahead of Konnor Griffin because they’re scared Griffin won’t hit, and they know Gillen is going to hit.

Other teams, go back to that first thing I said about what if he’s a second baseman – I think he’s the fourth or fifth best guy and should go in the 20s or 30s. I think there’s enough support for him in that 11 to 20 area he’ll probably go if not the very early 20s. I think the consensus view is he is, like, the third best high school player, not that far behind the first two, but I think all of the performing college bats will jump in front of him, and he’ll be sort of the priority in that 2B or 3 tier players starting around 14 or 15. I think he’ll be the guy a lot of teams are looking for.

Q. Just a couple Longhorns, Jalin Flores and Jared Thomas, maybe third, fourth round, somewhere in there. I don’t know how much you’ve gotten a look at those guys. Just your thoughts.

KILEY MCDANIEL: Thomas is actually one of my answers when people that are not super duper plugged into the draft, they’re like, hey, who’s rising? He might actually go in the 20s, which I was surprised to hear. I have him at 47. I think most teams see him as a pretty safe assignment slot, 40 to 60 area.

That’s kind of been my opinion all year because he’s seen as a center fielder in pro ball that obviously played mostly if not entirely first base this year. He didn’t play center field, so you didn’t get to see it a lot, but I think historically there’s the belief that everything is there, and he gives you some of the high floor. This guy is definitely a Big League looking guy, and there’s a chance that he’s like a low-end regular.

I think a lot of teams in that 25 to 40 area are like, hey, let’s get a college guy we like that we know we’re going to get something out of, maybe bank some savings if it’s in the 20s or 30s and then spend it on a high school guy that we can push down the board later and kind of scare teams off with a deal being done. I think him and a couple other guys are in that conversation, Kyle DeBarge, Griff O’Ferrall, in that, like, 25 to 35 range. I bet only one of them actually goes in that range and is that guy.

Then Flores is a different sort of dude, where it’s shortstop, it’s power, it’s tools, it’s upside, but there’s the risk that he’s not going to hit. I think he’s a much better version of the Trey Faltine, who was that sort of profile of guy a couple years ago. I think Flores has a chance to go in the first day, to sneak in the back half of the second round. I think more likely he’s a priority guy, day 2, beginning of the third round, which would be just sneaking in the top 100 picks. I think that’s probably where he fits.

Then I don’t have anybody else currently at Texas. Those are kind of the relevant guys right there.

Q. Predictably I have a couple of Braves questions. First, with the Braves — generally we’ve been seeing the connections that they’ve been targeting college players, especially college arms, in recent drafts, and a lot of the rumors this spring have been kind of along those lines. Do you see the Braves continuing that trend? Especially with maybe some of the guys they would prefer maybe being picked ahead of them. Also, if they’re not going in that direction, if you have some under-the-radar picks for them at 24. And if you want to share any day 2 or day 3 sleeper picks that could be fun for the Braves, I would love to hear it.

KILEY MCDANIEL: I’m looking at my notes here. I do have them with mostly college guys. The sort of rumor gaining steam is if the college guys that they’re very interested in don’t get to that pick, which I think would be Seaver King, Carson Benge, Jurrangelo Cijntje, Brody Brecht. I think those four stand out as the ones I’m hearing the most there. If they all don’t get there, which I would say all of them, if you plot their over-under, is like probably to go ahead of them. Maybe one of them gets through. But I would say three out of those four probably don’t get there, that Braylon Dowdy, generally perceived to be a second or third best high school pitcher in the Draft. Some people think he’s the best. There’s a little bit of disagreement with Caminiti and Mayfield, himself and Schmidt. Everybody kind of has them in different orders.

They’ve been on him a lot all spring, so there’s some conversation that if the guy they want doesn’t get there, they’re going under slot with Dowdy, who I think probably goes later 20s, early 30s for a little under slot would be the guy that they would look at.

I think they’re probably also in that Theo Gillen, if he happens to get through, I think he fits what they’re looking at, but I think he probably goes ahead of them. I think he’s also in the group with the other four guys.

Later on, I don’t think I have any specific — I usually have specific stuff on like second, third, fourth rounders, usually something with every team, and I don’t think I have anything for them.

Oh, in the last mock, I put them with Gage Jump because he fits — lefty from LSU, who’s been really good down the stretch. That was more connecting dots as opposed to I know they’ve shown a ton of interest in him because he’s fits all the kind of guys they take, and he’s already had his TJ. So I think they’re thinking three guys that either — have already had TJ or about to have it. So they’re not scared of that kind of guy.

Now I’m sort of thinking Jump probably doesn’t get to 62. I would be mostly throwing darts at that point. I don’t have anything super specific other than some very late high school overpay guys that you might not even know the name. I won’t bore you with that. So yes, I don’t have anything yet, but I think I will do two round mocks of the two that I have left. So if I have something, I’ll put him in there and draw a little attention to it.

Q. One question. This is for the Marlins. I wanted to get your opinion, Kiley, on whether you felt that the Marlins needed to make a change with their director scouting from D.J. to Frankie, or if some of the recent farm issues that the Marlins have had history with, is it more player development no matter who they draft, or do you think it’s the scouting director that’s been the issue for the Fish?

KILEY MCDANIEL: I typically don’t look at a scouting director and say, oh, he’s picking bad players, he needs to be fired. Like at any given time, there’s like maybe two or three of those because usually what the issue is — which I think you sort of asked in the second half of the question — is the player development is not good and thus hamstringing the team. I’ve worked for teams like this.

We can’t pick a raw high school player because we don’t trust our hitting guys. So we now have to only take high school players that are polished or in the first two rounds that are so good that they don’t need to be developed that much, which really limits you when you have certain advantages, or a scout really loves a player, and you’re like, this guy isn’t going to work out. It doesn’t matter if he’s a good player five years from now, we’re not going to figure it out.

I know a lot of teams when they’re making trades look for teams that they think are bad at certain stuff and go find the guys that have underperformed because they think the team might have messed it up and that they might fix it.

So they were not one of the teams where I was like, this has been a train wreck, they have no identity, they’re just not thinking this through, they’re just flailing around. They’re not one of those teams. But it’s also typical when you bring in a new GM/president with a different point of view, to bring in someone that matches his point of view because it’s more important that you have somebody that you can communicate with that you have the same values as because most scouting directors aren’t making the first picks, the GM kind of is or is influencing it or has a hand on those picks, and later on is where the scouting director sort of executes their vision.

So having someone that you’re copacetic with is much more important than this scout is 10 percent better than this scout. It’s sort of irrelevant for that job because you’re sort of managing people, you’re not seeing every player, you’re seeing one player at a time, and your evaluation skills aren’t that important.

What I said earlier wasn’t in reference to Miami, but I think it’s probably true, that the player development there was seen as the problem. I think bringing in Gabe Kapler overseeing all of the new people in player development, I think that’s more of the problem that needed to be solved that had been an issue for a long time there, and I think it’s on the road to being solved. I’m very curious to see who Frankie and Peter and Kapler and all those guys pick this year because that will say something about who think they’re good at developing and thus what they’re trying to — areas they’re trying to invest in, like what kind of stocks are they picking because they think these are the kinds of players that they can improve? We haven’t really seen any evidence of who that player is yet because they’ve been going in trades where you’re sort of limited by what the team has and what they’re willing to trade. So you don’t know that that Dillon Head, for example, is exactly what they’re looking for, but maybe they’ll take three guys like that this year, and that is sort of what they value and what they think they can find value with. So I’m as interested as you are in figuring out what that might be.

Q. Also a followup question. Last year everyone expected the Marlins to take a bad — they surprised everybody with the selection of Noble Meyer. He’s panned out pretty well so far. What are you hearing with the Marlins with the 16th overall pick? Is it going to be a college bat like everyone expects?

KILEY MCDANIEL: I covered this in the last mock a bit, but they’re right at the back of that, like I’m saying, that second tier. I think that first tier is about ten. Next tier is five or six. They’re right at the back of that.

I think they’re looking to get one of the players in that second tier. I think like sort of Christian Moore, Nick Kurtz, Yesavage, maybe Seaver King. I think it gets a little iffier at that point. I think they’re looking at the college bats, if they get there, that sort of aren’t supposed to get there.

Otherwise, I think they’re looking at high school players with their next picks, and I think that is the pull in case of emergency, hey, the college bats we want didn’t get here. Let’s undercut a high school guy that should go seven picks after us, get some savings and then go over the next couple picks with some high school hitters. I think that’s really what they want to do. And also Frankie coming from Seattle, that’s kind of what they did there. So while the board isn’t really giving them high school hitters there, I think they might — not force it, but they might find and grab down and pull down and all those various sorts of things with high school hitters.

I mentioned some of those names in the last mock, but I think Carter Johnson of Alabama might be the first of that group for them. So I think he might be the sort of disaster — we had 15 players we wanted ahead of us, all 15 went ahead of us, who do we take, I think Carter Johnson might be the first guy when they sort of pivot to that high school strategy.

Q. You mentioned that Vance Honeycutt is kind of polarizing, and I believe a year ago he was projected top five and has fallen. Is there anything at play other than the strikeout rate? Which specific organizations do you think are interested in him?

KILEY MCDANIEL: I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the strikeout rate. That’s been the sort of evidence of what the concern is. If I could like visually give it to you, the idea with the swing is to sort of always be at a slight angle. You can kind of start here, you go here, and then your hands move here. What he does is he gets his hands very vertical, like almost to 90 degrees, which then means to get them into the hitting zone, you have to flip them around which creates length, and that’s what he does and kind of has always done.

The belief earlier — this is something that is very consistent in baseball — is if somebody performs well and has big tools, scouts don’t dive deeper when they’re a freshman in college because they aren’t eligible for two years.

So he was young, wasn’t really scouted in high school because he was a football guy, whatever, then he has a huge freshman year, and everyone sees the tools and the performance, and everybody is like, oh, yeah, maybe he’s like, 45 at-bats and can hit .250, no problem.

Then as they spend more time paying more attention to him, the swing doesn’t necessarily improve, he tweaks with the setup but doesn’t get to this actual issue here. The pitch selection is good, then it turns bad, and then it turns good again.

These sort of conversations, he might be like an 80 grade, like one of the best in baseball defender. He’s a plus runner with plus arm and plus power. That’s why I’m saying all the eyeball scouting teams like him and all the teams that are into the defensive metrics love him.

Then the question is is he just like Kevin Pillar or Jose Siri or Drew Stubbs, or pick your example of a right-handed hitting center fielder that doesn’t really hit for average but is good at everything else and is a physical marvel that plays defense. Cristian Pache, there’s like a bunch of these guys. They all make the Big Leagues and they’re all useful. Some of them like Kevin Pillar play into their mid-30s. Some of them figure out a way to be pretty good, like Kevin Kiermaier is like this, Harrison Bader is kind of like this, Louis Robert is a really good version of it. Like there’s a ton of guys.

You don’t know what flavor of that guy he’ll be. Is he going to be the guy that’s stuck in Triple-A that hits .210 in Triple-A that never gets there, or is a defensive replacement like Terrance Gore in the playoffs that runs the bases, or is he Louis Robert or like Carlos Gomez or something. It’s really wide range.

I’ve talked to teams that are very good at this, and they’re like, we think he’s a 30 hitter, and we might still take him in the first round. So 30 hitter means we think he will hit .220. He might hit .200, but he’s such a good defender and has such an upside and is so good at all these other things, we think that’s a pretty good player that’s probably an everyday guy because he might be, like, classic Andrelton Simmons, where it’s like, he put up a 2.3 war, and 2.0 of it was all on defense and positioning and base running and stuff.

So that’s the fascinating discussion is if you can look up his in-zone miss rate, it’s really bad, especially in college. That’s only going to get worse as everybody is throwing harder, and his swing is not going to change anytime soon because that’s not an easy thing to fix. He’s been doing it his whole life.

So that’s why he went from, oh, this guy could go one, one, because amongst all the freshmen, he looked wildly ahead of all of them, and then slowly as he didn’t make the adjustment, everybody else got better and scouts looked a little bit closer, and they saw stuff that you would think is fixable, and they’re like, maybe it’s not fixable, maybe it is. The opinion now is maybe it’s not as fixable as we think and it’s going to limit his upside, but it’s still pretty high for a guy that maybe isn’t that good of a hitter.

Q. I wanted to ask about Casey Cook. Where do you see him going, and what position do you expect for him?

KILEY MCDANIEL: He’s another guy that is sort of the data favorites because he’s basically a left fielder that isn’t crazy athletic and doesn’t have huge tools, but I think he’s seen similar to Dylan Dreiling at Tennessee as a left fielder that can really hit, that has enough power that if you’re convinced he’s going to hit his upside, that’s maybe a low in regular or maybe a really good platoon guy but a Big Leaguer of some sort.

So I wouldn’t be shocked if he snuck in the back of round 2 for under slot, somebody trying to find a guy they like, make sure they get him, and then save some money and spend it on a high school guy later. I would say more realistically, it’s probably third round or top of the fourth round as a high probability college guy without a ton of ceiling because, like I’m saying, the position and the tools and stuff are not great, but some people, I think, are convinced this might be one of the easiest to project to the Big Leagues bats in the Draft. There’s just not a whole lot else going on beyond the hit tool.

Q. With how analytical baseball is becoming and there’s so much to look at and focus on, along with like how teams draft their draft history and kind of where they’re at in the Draft, when you’re picking from such a wide net of guys, how do you go about making these projections and stuff with so much different numbers and knowing what teams value, things like that?

KILEY MCDANIEL: It used to be really hard. I’ve now been doing it for like 15 years. It’s gotten a lot easier. I have certain kinds of guys that I prefer. I very typically — I think it happened in March and April.

I just took a list of — the conversation in this draft became there’s not a lot of high school guys in the top 20 picks. There’s a lot of them in 30 to 50 and a ton of college guys after that.

So the conversation was with a bunch of guys, I just sent them a list of 10 college hitters that I think go in the fourth round, Casey Cook being one of them that I wasn’t nuts about, and I was like, are one of these guys going to go really high? They were like, teams are going to try to spend money in rounds 5, 6, 10, 11, on high school guys. They’re going to rush to get the college guy they actually like into the first 60 to 80 picks.

I was like, here’s some college hitters I have 100 to 130. They’re like, oh, here’s two that will jump into pick 60 to 80 maybe under slot, but teams like it because Austin Overn at USC is a double plus runner that can also put the ball in play. A lot of teams like that kind of guy.

Then Casey Cook, not a high upside, but the teams that are really big on we want to get a hit tool that we know that we like, that’s going to be the kind of guy that those teams like.

Then Pitre at Kentucky I think now has risen since then, but was like, oh, the guy that can stand in the infield that might be a shortstop if you squint, that’s the kind of guy.

So it’s not necessarily that I can look at those three players and be like, oh, they’re actually 80th, 90th, and 95th as opposed to 120th to 130th. Even I can’t really tell that. But then somebody tells me, oh, the stuff you’re seeing — like I have a TrackMan sheet that is not public but I get passed along to me that has all this stuff that gives me hints, oh, you saw this guy play two games and then watched him on TV for two more games. Here’s what he’s actually good at. Here is Honeycutt’s in-zone miss. He made contact when you saw him, he didn’t make contact all the times you didn’t see him.

So I sort of formulate basically getting guys into buckets. This guy based on comps in previous drafts, what his history was, how many years he’s been doing it, and then you look at the advanced data. The advanced data I sort of set up in a way that gives me some scouting grades, like this guy is a 45 hitter with a 55 approach, 60 power and 50 in-game power, something like that. I can say, okay, this guy has been good for one year, a mid-major. Wasn’t good over the summer, that’s his tool grades. When I look him, that kind of matches the tool grade; that feels like a third-round pick, then I send a list to somebody with that guy in the middle of the third round, and they say, oh, that guy is actually better than you think, very coachable, has never been coached before, teams want him in the back of the second

So you kind of push a guy up or push a guy down. My role is basically to get a guy into a bucket, which is also what the first line of defense with teams, like an area scout goes to see a high school player. His job is not to nail the evaluation, it’s to put him in a bucket to get the appropriate amount of attention put on him so his boss above him that is better at him at evaluating can say, actually, you think he’s bucket two or three, he’s actually very strongly in bucket two. Let’s call on more people. But you got it close enough. Just for future reference, if you see a guy that’s between two and three, but he’s A, B, and C, these qualities, put him in the two bucket. We like that kind of guy.

That’s the thing you learn being with a team, how to round up and round down, but the fundamental idea of getting the guy in the bucket is the thing you have to learn first. I think it’s kind of an advantage I have over some of the people that do that haven’t worked for a team is putting a guy in a bucket is pretty difficult if you’re like a newspaper writer that’s trying to get into this area, whereas if you’ve been evaluating guys for 15 years, putting a guy in a bucket is pretty easy. It makes the feedback you get better because, if he’s already in the right area, you then talk about the second and third order stuff on him. Not, oh, you’ve got him in the wrong bucket. Let me explain why you got this wrong. That is a harder conversation to have.

Q. Even though this is a little bit unconventional from what we saw from the rise of Paul Skenes, I’m curious if there’s any players in this draft that you think could have the ascension up through the Minor Leagues that Skenes had.

KILEY MCDANIEL: Just pitchers or anybody?

Q. Anybody.

KILEY MCDANIEL: So I covered this a little bit in the last rankings. Bazzana, I think, is incredibly polished for what he’s trying to do. The only hesitation is because he played in the Pac-12, the amount of pitches he saw 95-plus, even if you include the cape, is like one-third what the guys in the SEC saw. So we haven’t seen that.

Everything I see tells me he should be fine at that, but I think he is the guy in this draft that — in the same way that obviously Langford and Skenes are in the Big Leagues and Cruz is in Triple-A. I think Bazzana is the guy. If he doesn’t get hurt and velo doesn’t go up or down, he continues being the guy he is, I think he’ll be in the Big Leagues this time next year.

Condon I think is very good but might take a little bit longer than those two. Wetherholt has some of the medical issues to worry about, and I don’t think will get pushed a ton because they’re trying to figure out is he a shortstop. I think there’s reasons to hold him back a little bit.

Caglianone is another one that we don’t know if he’s going to fix the chase issue. If he just immediately fixes it, he might also be on that express train where he’s in the Big Leagues a year from now. So that’s what makes me pause.

Pretty much everyone else, I’m not sure they’re good enough to do it. As you may have guesses, it’s basically within the top five, and not even all of the top five, are the dudes that might do that, and there isn’t another guy that jumps out. Sometimes there’s a submarine reliever that I’m like, oh, this guy is going to be first in the Big Leagues because they’re going to send him straight to Double-A, then if they need a third low slot righty, they’ll call him up.

I don’t have one of those guys immediately, but usually there’s somebody like that. Or even like a Ben Joyce. He throws 104 but gets hurt all the time. Put him up there, and we’ll figure it out. Nobody comes to mind, but there’s definitely somebody like that that I might come up with by the end of this, just scroll around in my sheet.

Q. Quick followup, if I may, looking at the Boston Red Sox, I saw in your last mock draft, you have Christian Moore, second baseman from Tennessee, would the strong emphasis we’ve seen from the new CBO, Craig Breslow, in terms of the pitching department, I’m curious if you could see them maybe leaning more towards the pitcher. I understand a lot of times it’s the best player available, but the Sox have a lot of middle infielders right now at the top of their rankings in the farm system. Curious on your thoughts on where they may go.

KILEY MCDANIEL: The problem they have is the first two pitchers aren’t going to get to 12, and you could argue whether Caminiti, Yesavage, Cijntje actually make sense at 12, and what the board is giving them is like almost entirely college hitters. They are one of the teams where I’ve heard, I wouldn’t say wacky, but there’s some considering guys that are not on everyone’s list in that area kind of names.

I think San Francisco is also in that area because they’re seeing they’re right behind that top tier of 10. They’re sort of locked into that group of four or five guys. What if they want to jump outside of it? Actually, now that I’m thinking 12, 13, and 14 have all been tied to a couple of way below slot names or some wacky names where they’re going to move money around or whatever.

I would imagine they’re in the same spot as I described the Braves being in, where there’s a very short list of like here’s three guys that we think can get here have a chance, that we’ll take them if they get here, and if they all go in front of us, then we got some weird stuff we’re going to do. Maybe not quite to the Nick Yorke levels, maybe like taking a guy that everyone thinks will go 20 and taking him at 12 and saving three or four slots worth of money.

I could totally see them doing that. I think Christian Moore is on that list. If Christian Moore doesn’t go 8, I think he’ll be on the board for them, and I think they’ll take him. That’s why I have him there as pretty firm as like I think he’s in the conversation and I think he makes a lot of sense. Typically, I would say maybe two-thirds of the time when there’s an I think he’s going to get there and I know they’re interested, they’re probably going to take him.

Yeah, I wouldn’t say that that is necessarily likely to be the pick relative to everyone else it could be, but he is definitely the leading candidate in my mind. Say, he goes 8 to the Angels and then the guy that they like don’t get to their pick, then it’s like, okay, the list could be literally 25 guys long of who it could be.

When teams have their break in case of emergency, here’s the under slot options, I might only know a couple of them because that one is held close to the vest and usually doesn’t leak out because it’s seen as unlikely. They usually tell the agents, hey, you’re probably going to a private workout, but don’t let it go that we’re interested in you. We’ll have a number you’re interested in and all that kind of stuff.

I think right at 12 is the area I could see Konnor Griffin getting there. I could see them playing it straight with Yesavage or Christian Moore, and I could see them taking Malcolm Moore or Kash Mayfield, some of those guys that are sort of seen as going ten picks later than them. I could see them going in any of those directions.

They’re kind of right where, to me, the Draft starts because I think the first 10 picks, I can tell you who 9 of those 10 guys will be in some order, but after that it could get real weird real quick.

Q. Changing gears a little bit, the Astros have a pretty well earned reputation of taking college hitters, especially in recent years, but we also know that Dana Brown is not afraid to take a pitcher that he likes. My question is given how far they pick down in the first round, are they strictly a best player available on their board situation, or are they going to try to force either something they know they’re good at developing in hitters or addressing the organizational need that they definitely have with pitching?

KILEY MCDANIEL: I think they’re similar to — I don’t remember what team I was referencing earlier, where I think they want to take a position player. Then if they don’t have any position players they like, then they’ll take a pitcher. Typically what that means is first two picks they take position players and then sprinkle in pitchers throughout. I think they’ve had some success doing that.

They are one of the teams that is very big on athletic traits, like this player does two things that we think are super important for projecting and are things that we work well with. They are the interesting intersection of, if you think of the political spectrum as right and left, and we usually talk about it as right and left and there’s moderate and middle, but you forget sometimes they loop all the way around and far right and far left kind of become the same.

I think they’re so far into the statistical sport science approach, that they turn into being on the same guys that the super scouting teams are because guys being super athletic, they blow up the force play and exit velos and also, wow, look at all those tools. They’re actually more related than you think they are. They’re like so far over there that they’re actually on both ends of the spectrum.

They have been tied to the Dakota Jordan, who might have the best tools in the entire Draft, maybe for multiple drafts. I actually saw Dana Brown following around at the SEC Tournament. It was pretty obvious what was going on there. It doesn’t mean they’re going to draft him, but they’re looking at him. They’re tied to Honeycutt if they can get that far.

And they’re also at the forefront of that shortstop that is deceptively athletic that has a little more power than you think, that is a little bit better defender than you would guess, which is Kyle DeBarge at Louisiana, Griff O’Ferrall at Virginia, Kaelen Culpepper at Mississippi State, they’re all in there.

And I think they’re also interested, similar to Milwaukee and the Mets, the teams that are really on the athletic traits also like athletic traits and sort of stuff plus things with their pitchers. So guys like William Schmidt and Ryan Sloan that grade out well in that way that have big upside and big stuff, they also seem like secondary options.

If the prices and talent aren’t right for who’s there on the hitter, I think they’ll be looking at the big stuff pitchers. I think they’ll probably get their run — of those hitters, I would guess two or three of them will get there, and I think they’ll probably take one of those guys.

Q. Just a quick and completely unrelated followup. Baseball is in a weird position that their draft doesn’t have the same publicity as other sports’ drafts, NBA, NFL, those are big events, but not necessarily what MLB would like in terms of how much coverage it gets. Do you think that MLB should consider making more draft picks tradeable? If so, should there be more limitations that would keep big markets from buying draft picks? Generally addressing why more tradeable picks would be good or bad.

KILEY MCDANIEL: It would be good. I’ve been writing about this for a long time. I have lobbied the union and the league individually to do this. I’ve been asking why they don’t do it.

The explanation I get is sort of twofold, one, is if you can trade a pick, an agent and manager are going to demand the trade like Eli Manning, Philip Rivers style. You can do it in football, you can only think of one example. John Elway and Steve Young? It’s happened like three times in 30 years. It’s like the best player in the Draft every now and then. It hasn’t happened in like 20 years. This is not an actual concern.

The other one is the union doesn’t like it because agents can make a name for themselves by going over an under slot and engineering stuff. If you trade picks, you have to lock in. If you go 30, if you get $2.7 million, there’s no negotiation. Agents like to be able to — because I can become an agent tomorrow, I’ll get you to pick 30, and then there’s no negotiation.

The big agencies, who are very influential with the union, they have less to separate themselves. They’re just talking to people and telling them, no, you should probably trade up. You don’t have that much power whereas, as it currently stands, if you represent a college player, you have a lot of power. You can really screw it up.

I hear stories about like this guy was going to go 20 for a little under slot, and he ended up going 50 for a little over slot, like he lost $2 million, and it’s not a thing that’s public. It’s kind of hard to report that because nobody’s ever going to confirm it because it makes everybody look bad.

The union is not super interested in it, and I think the league is coming around on the idea of it. I think it will happen, but every time — there’s been multiple CVAs where I’ve been asking these questions. It’s like, oh, it never really came up. Nobody wanted to bring it up. Both guys kind of don’t like it and kind of do like it. It wasn’t seen as a bargaining chip, we’ll give us this because we want it, and you’ve got to give something back. They both kind of like it and don’t like it, which is the problem.

If you want to help move things along, make one side like it and one side hate it, and you’ve got a chance it can happen.

Q. Noticing that the Yankees prototypes are all sort of gathered in the same spot. All the guys you just mentioned, the athletic shortstops, O’Ferrall and the people you seem to be a little bit higher on than the other publications, wondering if they’re going to go back to the mold that they typically engage with or they’re going to be maybe forced into pivoting this year after so many toolsy shortstops in a row?

KILEY MCDANIEL: That’s a good question. I usually have a better feel for the Yankees pick at this point. I don’t know if they know this, but they have so many highly respected, recognized scouts, when they show up to a game, everyone texts me, hey, do you know so and so are here? So I always know who they like and who they’re executing.

I know some of the guys they like, but it’s all over the map. Also, at this point in the Draft, I’ve been saying it’s where the high school guys are sort of introduced. I don’t hear them tied to that many high school guys.

Then when you’re looking at the college guys, you’re subject to who gets there. The college guys, you can’t really manipulate the board and move them around. It’s like, if a guy goes 20, you can like him and it doesn’t really matter, you can’t get him down there.

It’s really like around pick 20, they can make a list of five or six guys they want, and then they’ll see who gets there. They’ll definitely get one, and they might get three or four, and the list of college guys that I think they like tend to be the guys that are ranked around on my board where they pick based on who’s going to get there. So it’s not super insightful.

I have heard them tied to a lot of high school players later in the Draft, like Dante Nori, center fielder out of Michigan, and Boston Bateman, lefty out of Southern California. I bet at least one of them goes between their first and second pick. One of them probably gets to the second pick.

There’s been a couple guys like that, where I know they’re interested in those guys, and I would imagine they’ll get one of them. I don’t know everyone they’re interested in. I think in the first round they’re probably still looking mostly at college players because that’s what the board is giving them. Given the way the draft usually goes, there’s going to be one or two guys that go 17 to 20 that are there for the Yankees that they’re going to be prepared for.

More than anything, almost every year they take a third or fourth rounder that I can’t believe got there. I sort of make some calls, and it’s like, yeah, yeah, the agent messed it up or people thought the medical was bad and it wasn’t or people weren’t prepared to take them. It’s usually like a dumb reason, like somebody messed up and they got the player that shouldn’t have gotten there. It seems, for lack of a better term, they’re going to be value minded. Oh, the guy who got to this pick but shouldn’t have gotten there, we’ll take him.

That’s actually, more realistically, what they actually do. Then I think more in rounds four, five, seven, they have the funky we’ll take the Waldichuk or Wesneski or whoever, the guy they take that are not consensus names that I’m not really on, and then I see it, oh, yeah, that’s a Yankee guy.

It’s not they necessarily have a type. They value athleticism and upside and value in the first couple picks, and then they sort of get weird with their specific stuff. I can’t predict those guys because I’m not traversing the country trying to find the Yankees sixth round pick ahead of time. Not a lot of money in that.

Q. Question for some of the Florida Gator players. What are you hearing on Ty Evans, the outfielder who had a good junior year, but it ended shortly with a broken arm. What are you hearing with teams on where he could be drafted? Or do you think there’s a chance that he makes it back to campus for his senior year?

KILEY MCDANIEL: He is in that area where I don’t know what he is looking to do. Sometimes when you ask those questions, the answer is, oh, he wants to play pro ball. He’ll sign for whatever is there. And sometimes it’s, oh, he’s got a specific number and it needs to be blank, usually a six figure amount, and if it’s not there, he’s going to go back to school. I don’t know which of those two he is. He’s in the range where it could go either way.

There was a little hype when he got to school that this was a guy that some people thought was a top five round high school draft. Gets to school, and the bat-to-ball and the chase has been a little worse than expected, but the power and the athleticism is there. So I could totally see a team thinking, hey, if we get him healthy, get him working on a few things, we think the tools are here, I could see him being a fifth to seventh rounder.

I would guess typically in this situation those guys want to go back to school and try to become a higher round pick and find some success in college. That is usually what happens. I don’t know what he’s actually looking to do.

I think his opportunities will be in the sixth, seventh round range, for that kind of money, and it’s kind of up to him how he wants to approach that. If he wants to stay in school and play a little bit more and try to raise the stakes or if he really want to play pro ball. It could be either of those.

Q. With Jac Caglianone, does every team view him as a two-way player, or do some teams viewing him, just want him to focus on hitting, fix his chase rate a little bit? That seems to be the only thing that might prevent him from making that fast track to the MLB?

KILEY MCDANIEL: I wrote an article specifically about this with him and Konnor Griffin like a week ago. If you Google Caglianone and Griffin, Kiley ESPN, that’s usually what I search.

It’s evolved a bit over the past year. This guy could be a superstar at the plate. The issue might be that he’s not fully focusing on it. By fully focusing on hitting and getting pro level instruction and nutrition and workout, all those things that improve when you get to pro ball, you have to throw him in the deep end, challenge him with an assignment, and see if he can make those chase rate adjustments because, if he does, this might be literally Aaron Judge level of good. Obviously not the same player, but the tools aren’t that different.

I don’t think people are really understanding, if he can take his chase rate and make it league average at whatever level he’s at, which has happened before, is possible, he might hit .270 with 45 home runs and play right field, and there’s not that many guys on earth who could do that. He could do that.

So I think people see pitching as the thing holding him back from that. They see him as roughly a 45 to 50 overall pick kind of guy, not because he’s as polished as Ryan Prager at Texas A&M, who’s throws like 90 to 92 and is also projected to go in that range, but because on his best days, Caglianone is up to 101 with a plus slider, and other days he’s like 93 to 95 with a 50 slider. Some days the command looks like he could go start in low A right now, and sometimes it’s like that guy probably shouldn’t start in college.

He hasn’t quite dialed in pitching at the level he needs to, it would be a thing you need to fully focus on. And if it was a guy that was showing potential and had never touched a bat in his life, I think he’d be a very intriguing, sort of developmental upside second round pick. But because he’s a developmental guy, he’s a pitcher, and also maybe needs to focus on hitting and is so much better in terms of potential in hitting, I think every team is basically pitching goes away. If he’s showing improvement with hitting, then it will never come back. Then we’ll just see what he becomes if he’s a good everyday guy or great everyday guy or whatever.

If he falls on his face with hitting, and he’s got a 40 percent strikeout rate in Double-A, we’re like, eh, this might work or might not, but it’s not going well right now, then maybe that’s the day where, hey, how about you throw an inning once a week and we get both things going at the same time. Now we’ll do like what Tampa did with Brendan McKay. Get them both going at the same time and see what makes more sense and what you want to do and what’s sort of working better.

I think that’s the current belief, which is a year, maybe or two years of just hitting see how it’s going and then pitching can become an option if you want it to be, and if it goes the way it’s supposed to, he’s probably never going to pitch again.

Q. This is my actual final question. How worried do you think teams are with Caglianone’s chase rate? Even though, at least at the collegiate level, his strikeout percentage last year was only at 8 percent. How worried, even though he’s chasing a little bit, he’s still making a lot of contact. Do you think teams are super worried about the chase rate or they just want to see that improvement to stay and become more of a complete, well rounded hitter?

KILEY MCDANIEL: I also wrote in depth about this. There’s an article where I broke down the four best hitters in the Draft, which was — or five best. It was Wetherholt, Condon, Bazzana, Caglianone, and Montgomery and basically entirely talked about this.

There’s two theories. One is there’s a drivers of wet concrete. If you have a really bad chase rate, eventually it dries the more reps you see against 95-plus, which he’s already seen in the SEC and saw some in high school and will see more in pro ball, eventually that gets dry, and you can’t change it. In the same way guys in the Big Leagues don’t usually dramatically change.

Even like Acuña, his swing and miss rate went way down and then went right back up. I still don’t know how that happened. I don’t know if he could even tell me how that happened. It went back to where it was supposed to go. He was what he was supposed to be, and he had a little blip along the way.

The other point of view is in-zone miss rate, which is sort of like a proxy for your bat-to-ball skills, he’s a plus at that, one of the best in college baseball, maybe the best in the whole draft.

The theory is that is the baseline for how good your pitch selection can be because the idea is — I talked about this earlier, the thing that S2 cognition measures, which is the hardest thing maybe in sports, is to see a pitch, identify the pitch style and the location, see where it’s going to go, and then tell your hand swing and swing like this and swing here and then swing and hit it hard.

That sounds impossible, the way you’re describing it. And pitch selection is do the first part of that and then just don’t do anything with your hands. If you can make contact really well, which he can, you should be able to lay off of a pitch. It’s like literally just the discipline of telling your brain not to do the thing you kind of want to do. Obviously not everyone can do this. There are guys with really good bat-to-ball that chase all the time.

Some of them are good Big Leaguers. Starling Marte made a whole career out of doing this. Some guys are like Lewis Brinson, where it torpedos their entire career and they turn out to be nothing. That range of possibilities is on the table for a guy that’s going to go in the first five picks.

So him being able to pitch a little bit is convenient. Like, oh, you might still get a decent Big Leaguer and something to do, or maybe he’ll be a just okay Big Leaguer, platoon, bench bat, that also is like the second lefty out of the bullpen who can throw three innings at a time. Nobody’s done that before, but he’s seemingly capable of doing it.

Those are the theories as to how important it is, and I think the more analytical, progressive teams think that in-zone contact rate could be a real ceiling, and he could have a low chase rate. Most teams, myself included, are a little closer to this might be dry concrete. We can make it a little better, but it’s like how much faster can you get? You can train for 6 to 12 months or five years, you can get a little faster, but you can’t go from slow to fast. That’s not a thing that can happen.

I think that’s more of what it is. You can improve it some. He, I think, since he’s such an outlier physically, people think he’s going to be an outlier in terms of how much he can learn stuff. We don’t really have any evidence of that yet. He hasn’t really had to learn stuff.

He’s been so physically talented, he’s basically bullying college pitching. He wasn’t good enough at pitching to bully college hitters as a pitcher. So the idea is he’s been so unbelievably talented as a hitter, let’s just see if he’s maybe one of the best hitters of all time. We’ve seen a glimpse of it so far, and it’s going to keep getting better because the pitching is clearly in the backseat at this point.

Yes, the chase rate is the big issue, but he has so much talent, there’s really no comp to look at. You can’t really say, well, no one’s done this before. Well, no one’s been like him in terms of bat-to-ball in power, so you can’t really compare him to anybody.


Alex Feuz

Based in Bristol, CT, Alex Feuz is a Sr. Publicist working on the MLB, Little League and ESPN Audio properties.
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