Author Archive

Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 7/21/15

12:07
Kiley McDaniel: Have some late summer high school-geared 2016 draft trips coming up soon: East Coast Pro in Tampa and Area Codes in Long Beach. I hit the road tomorrow, have a big project in the works and will have 2016 draft rankings coming when I get back in mid-August.

12:07
Comment From bpqa
If I’m sitting in the seats next to the scout’s section, what’s the etiquette on talking to a scout during the game?

12:09
Kiley McDaniel: About the same as him walking into your office when you’re busy to talk to you. Wait for a lull and don’t expect much. Best to chat before/after the game when they can actually pay attention to you, though scouts often rush out before the fans do to skip traffic. It will be very obvious if he doesn’t mind talking to you.

12:10
Comment From John
Hey Kiley,
I was wondering about what the difference is between watching a minor league game on TV versus in person? For example, am I going to learn less about a player and their tools/ability when watching a game on MiLB.tv instead of being at the actual ballpark? It seems like if anything the multiple camera angles should help, right?

12:11
Kiley McDaniel: Less. The multiple angles, from my limited milb.tv experience, don’t help because they aren’t the two angles that scouts want (behind home and open side) and if they are, they’ll cut away too quickly, etc. Not worth the time for me, unless I’ve literally never seen a top 50 prospect in baseball.

12:12
Comment From Joe
Highest rising prospect in Brewers system this year outside of Arcia?

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Hoffman and Reyes Among Minors’ Most Intriguing Arms

I’ve teased in the last few chats that some big updates on the various prospects lists will be out in a few weeks, but I wanted to address some of the most-asked-about prospects I’ve recently scouted in one piece as an appetizer for the big update.

Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

In Hoffman’s offseason scouting report I noted that he was in contention to go #1 overall until his elbow surgery, just before the 2014 draft where he went ninth overall. He made his first pro appearance this year and started making buzz right away, showing big velocity in a late big-league spring-training appearance, then in extended spring training and in his regular season debut at High-A Dunedin (he was just promoted to Double-A in the last few days). In the video, the first game shown is when I saw Hoffman about a month ago and the second game is when our own Chris King saw his first start for Dunedin about a month before that.

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 7/14/15

12:05
Kiley McDaniel: I’m back home after a day full of BBQ and travel delays yesterday. Have an article I’m wrapping up on interesting pro prospects I’ve seen recently and the oft-teased big prospect update (TM) is also in the works

12:05
Comment From the real brian
Would prospect Earl Sweatshirt receive an odd Future Value?

12:05
Kiley McDaniel: I see what you did there

12:05
Comment From Phil
After starting the year terribly, Dominic Smith looks to be slowly turning things around. Have you seen anything encouraging in his swing, or is this just a short hot streak?

12:07
Kiley McDaniel: Caught a game of him in Florida and hope to get another on my next trip down later this month. Two scouts I talked to said he was the best hitter in the league and the raw power is still there, so this is just one of those “power will show up in games later” situations. The track record of really good hitters getting to that power is very positive, so as long as the contact is still good, I think it comes together. The pre-draft Todd Helton comp is still in the ballpark.

12:07
Comment From Bren
There are a lot of conflicting reports out there on Gavin Cecchini’s defense. Can you fill us on anything you might be hearing?

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 7/7/15

12:03
Kiley McDaniel: Kiley is here and he’s slightly sunburned from some day HS tourney games yesterday

12:08
Comment From Bob Benson
Last week in his chat, Cameron mentioned that you two had discussed Hunter Renfroe and that you would be downgrading his prospect status. Can you elaborate on why?

12:09
Kiley McDaniel: There were some contact/approach concerns on Renfroe from back in his amateur days, but he hit so you couldn’t really factor that into his prospect status as much, unless you were really convicted it wouldn’t work at higher levels, which most scouts couldn’t do because all the tools are there.He had a yellow flag of a tough half-season at AA last year that we needed to pay attention to this year and he hasn’t really improved. Now those concerns are real and that Jeff Francoeur comp I got seems more real, too.

12:09
Comment From Nick C
Are the Mets in on any other international free agents not named Gimenez or Gregory Guerrero? I know they have little money left over after trade.

12:14
Kiley McDaniel: Most prospects under 500K don’t have a high profile, so I wouldn’t expect to hear much more. That said, if you look at the J2 boardhttp://www.fangraphs.com/sc…

the Mets did the best of any team at getting two high end players and staying under their pool, with the Braves just behind them. That’s the best you can ask for among the 20+ teams staying under their pool. You have permission to be happy about this.

12:14
Comment From Stanatee the Manatee
I live near a couple Frontier League teams. How much do MLB front offices scout/keep an eye on independent minor leagues like that one?

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The July 2 Sortable Board

Kiley initially rolled this feature out a few weeks ago, but with signing day’s arrival, we wanted to make this more prominent on the site today, so we’re re-running the initial post. The board has since been updated many times and is current with the latest information.

Board
The July 2 Board is both sortable and able to be sorted.

Today we’re unveiling the sortable board for the July 2nd international signing period. This works mostly like the sortable draft board (which is also still accessible by means of a tab at the top of the page) with some different columns, for obvious reasons. The top-41 players are ranked based on my preference from seeing these players and talking to scouts about them, not in order of industry consensus or projected bonus, though you can sort by bonus if that’s what you’re looking for. The other players listed are not ranked, just sorted based on expected bonus, so long as I think they’ll get $300,000 (the most that the teams in the penalty can offer) or more. You can also check the international article archives for more info on many of the players listed here.

The projected bonus represents what I think the player will get, not what I think they’re worth, and the projected team is listed if I’m over 50% sure that will be where the player lands (with many of the projected teams having been certain for months or even a year). Many of the higher-profile players without a team listed are still working out for teams in the last month and are far from signing. I’ll add tool grades and reports for more players next week, but these 69 players should quench your thirst for July 2 knowledge, though I’m sure a couple guys omitted from the board will get bigger bonuses than expected.

These are the top players that are currently subject to the international bonus pools, which reset next Thursday on July 2, so older Cuban free agents (there aren’t any notable ones eligible to sign at this time) won’t appear here. Five other notable Cuban players absent here are one status email from MLB away from being added to the list. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, CF Yusnier Diaz and RHP Norge Ruiz are the best of that group and all project to get multiple millions in a signing bonus, but are all expected to fall under $10 million, at least right now. CF Randy Arozarena and SS Alfredo Rodriguez are also in this group and are more six figure to low seven figure type prospects.

Team-Focused Update

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 6/30/15

11:08
Kiley McDaniel: Headed to Hickory once we’re done here but you people get me for an hour or so. For most basic July 2 questions see the July 2 board (will be updated any minute when the admin sees my email) http://www.fangraphs.com/sc… and the international article archive http://www.fangraphs.com/bl… which has articles covering many of the more nuanced issues in the int’l game

11:08
Comment From mike
Bluejays sign Vandy commit Pruit, anything there besides speed and potential?

11:08
Kiley McDaniel: Plus speed, CF fit, twitchy athlete, has bat speed and decent results but swing is inconsistent. solid gamble. thought it would take more money than that to buy out Vandy

11:09
Comment From Giants Fanboy
Which do you think the Giants are more closer to signing between Fox and Eddy Julio?

11:10
Kiley McDaniel: I think it’s a real but unlikely chance on both. Say around 25%? Could jump in the coming weeks as neither have a deal in place yet.

11:10
Comment From Billy
So besides Socrates Brito having an 80 name, does he have much future potential?

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Signing July 2nd Players Has Gotten Even More Complicated

The 2015 international signing class is seen as above average, both at the top end and in depth. Check out the sortable board, introduction to the board and international article archives for more details. Even with multiple teams blowing past their pools, there appear to be more seven figure talents than they are seven-figure bonuses to hand out, which makes for an interesting game of musical chairs among the international prospects.

Early Deals Muddy the Waters

Some seven-figure-caliber players like Venezuelans RHP Alvaro Seijas and CF Miguel Aparicio allegedly turned down low seven-figure offers early in the process but then held out too long, looking for even more money, and were forced to settle for a six-figure bonus.  In talking to international scouting directors in the past weeks, there seems to be a consensus that the best strategy this year for a team staying under its bonus pool was to wait until late and scoop up multiple middle-tier prospects at lower prices than to lock up one middle-tier player early in the process for seven figures, even if this means the market dictates which players you’ll end up signing.

I’ve written about this a few times but MLB’s effort to control international bonuses has caused a number of unintended consequences. By putting in bonus pools that the majority of teams treat like hard caps, you put a limit on what a team can spend and the main way they can get better than average value is to lock players up earlier and earlier, often over a year before a player can even sign the contract, commonly when he’s 14 years old. That’s now been happening for years and the culture of July 2nd is that of early deals. Now that it’s the norm, the majority of the big bonuses are handed out before the spring rolls around, so if a prospect improves late in the process or held out for a bigger bonus, all your suitors could be out of money when it’s the optimum time for you to strike your deal.

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 6/23/15

11:05
Kiley McDaniel: I’m still on the road, working my way around Florida for a few more days lining up some Florida State League games before I head back to the ATL

11:06
Comment From Bret
Jeff Hoffman thoughts from yesterday? Please and thanks, sir.

11:09
Kiley McDaniel: Once I get some time (should be next few days), I’ll write up Hoffman and Alex Reyes. Hoffman was 93-97 last night, curveball flashed the same as it was before TJ and he threw the changeup a lot more often. TOR has made his delivery less aggressive, more upright and more crossfire and he throws a slower curve most of the time, saving the best one for when he needs it. He’s also pitching to contact to limit pitch count and using his third best pitch (CH) more, which explains the lower than expected K rate. I’ll elaborate more, but this is more wait and see than good or bad. More important to see if TOR lets Hoffman loose next year

11:10
Comment From Brian
Where does Touki go in your Atlanta prospect rankings now?

11:13
Kiley McDaniel: Bethancourt, Wisler and Folty should be graduating this year, Peraza may as well. That leaves Albies, Rio Ruiz, Max Fried, Ricardo Sanchez, Manny Banuelos, Lucas Sims, Braxton Davidson, Tyrell Jenkins and Mallex Smith at the upper part of that list. I’d say Touki and Allard both would fit among the first few names. Should both be top 6-7 in the system next year.

11:13
Comment From Dan
Ruddy Giron. I know you’re probably tired of q’s about him, but… Is the word on him he’s a likely SS going forward? Would it be fair to put a 50 FV/OFP on him with a lot of variance top or bottom to that?

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 6/16/15

11:05
Kiley McDaniel: Dropping in a little early today since I’m hitting to road to drive to Florida right after today’s chat. St. Lucie v Clearwater, then begins a week at PG National with lots of Florida State League mixed in. Should get Alex Reyes and Jeff Hoffman this week as well.

11:06
Comment From Mike
What with Buxton, Correa, Lindor and now Schwarber in the big leagues, is your job more interesting or more boring with fewer big names?

11:08
Kiley McDaniel: I think it just means you guys will ask about when I think more and more obscure players will get called up

11:10
Comment From Shawn
With all the hitting prospects getting called up, who is your current top 5 in the minors?

11:11
Kiley McDaniel: Hadn’t thought about that in awhile and would need to make calls before I have a firm answer. Of my preseason top 20 (plus Moncada who signed right after but I said would’ve been top 10), less than half are still in the minors: Seager, Crawford, Giolito, Urias, Moncada, Glasnow, Sano, Norris, Appel. I’m not sure anyone has played their way into this group that wasn’t there, but lots of guys have played into the group just below this.

11:12
Comment From Oren
Hey Kiley – seems like some tangible improvements for DJ Davis from a statistical perspective – hitting for better average, less Ks, more walks. Has he improved his stock as a prospect?

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Thoughts on Last Night’s Draft Proceedings

I already chatted for nearly six hours during last night’s picks, wrote a bunch of mock drafts and, with the help of David Appelman, made a Sortable Draft Board full of the top players with tools, reports, video and where they were taken last night, but I thought I should drop in and give some thoughts on last night’s first two rounds of the draft.

The top-11 picks went pretty much as expected, with those players all projected there in some order. Husky Canadian prep 1B Josh Naylor crashed the party, jumping from late first-round expectations to 12th overall, which was the first big surprise of the night, similar to what Kodi Medeiros did last year with the Brewers. Often, what fans will term a “reach” or “overdraft” is a team deciding they want a player and realizing he won’t be at the next pick. I support this idea from the team’s side, especially if you can save some money, because when we look back at the draft in 10 years, we won’t say “this guy wasn’t a good value here,” we’ll either say he was good or he wasn’t. Don’t forget that rankings and mock drafts are a guide, not the correct answer. When you can’t trade picks, you take the guy you want and sometimes it’ll look like this.

The rest of the first round was composed of names I had projected in that range or ranked within my top 50-60 players, except for the Orioles at pick 36 with Ryan Mountcastle, whom I heard last week had some people looking at him in the second round. Mountcastle is a unique player with above-average bat speed, bat control, raw power and speed to go with a projectable frame and a long track record of hitting, so he clearly checks a lot of boxes. His swing is a little awkward, he didn’t hit for power in games this spring and scouts think he might be a left fielder, but you can clearly see why teams would be on him with a high pick and I’m betting the Orioles wouldn’t have gotten him with their next pick.

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Kiley McDaniel’s Superlative 2015 MLB Draft Chat

5:04
Kiley McDaniel: I’m here! I’ll be in and out since this will be open most of the draft (all of it?) and I have to eat and pee and all that stuff.
5:05
Comment From The Ghost of Dayn Perry
*raggaeton horn* *raggaeton horn* *raggaeton horn* *raggaeton horn* *raggaeton horn*
5:07
Comment From Straw Man
Rangers #4 pick: most enigmatic in first 10? I see you have Trenton Clark there. Anything to add to your prospect report on him? Curious about his speed especially. Have seen between 55 and 70.
5:07
Kiley McDaniel: It’s 55 or 60. It’s a maybe CF that would play LF if he can’t stick there but more and more guys telling me they think he can.
5:07
Comment From Josh
Lots of chatter on Aiken, but what about Matuella? Where do you hear his name being called?
5:08
Kiley McDaniel: Sounds like his range starts at DET/22 and LA/24 but he should get money from the 20’s wherever he lands

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The Final Mock Draft

The normal caveats apply. What follows represents a series of educated guesses. Crazy rumors were flying all over the board last night and early today. This may or may not prove I’m an idiot and/or this whole process is stupid. I opted to leave the embedded videos out of this mock, but for video on every player mentioned, tool grades and all kinds of other info, see the Sortable Draft Board.

1. D’Backs – Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt

I’m told this will be the pick, but there was discussion of Tyler Stephenson, Garrett Whitley and Tyler Jay as recently as yesterday.

2. Astros – Alex Bregman, SS, LSU

This one is still a toss-up between Bregman and Rodgers, with an outside shot of a target from 5 going here to save money to pay Daz Cameron at 37.

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The Mock Draft Replacement Post

I haven’t been one to do too many mock drafts if the information doesn’t support it. I won’t just brazenly move around names with little justification in a bid for clicks every few days. I have enough info to change enough picks now for a worthwhile read, but I’m going to do a full mock draft on Monday with the supplemental rounds and the back half of the first round, as things will be much easier to project then (although still not easy).

Clubs have told me they aren’t even discussing medical and signability info openly in their rooms until later today or this weekend and some teams in the back half of the first round haven’t even started stacking the board for their first-round pick yet, instead focusing on lower picks and positional rankings. I’ll have a much better feel for the picks beyond the top dozen on Monday, so it would be foolish to throw darts for those picks now only to reorder everything in a few days. If you’re desperate for what I think about those picks now, combine the notes below with my previous mock draft and the sortable draft board, that I updated just moments ago with the information below.

Since teams aren’t talking medical and signability info and the consensus is that the reasonably predictable part of the draft is the top 10-12 picks, that means some certainty about the injured pitchers could help shed some light on those later picks.

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Introducing the Sortable Draft Board

Board
The Sortable Draft Board features draft-prospect ranks, tool ratings, and likely selection range — and costs zero dollars.

In my continuing quest to increase transparency and reduce the amount of information that I know and do not communicate, today FanGraphs has rolled out a thing that I think is most appropriately described as the Sortable Draft Board. There is lots of information I wanted to include, so we made three tabs to include all the stuff I think you want to see while also separating the information by type. The general idea behind this is to:

1. Give you the tools to re-rank these players to your preferences, as you now have all the information necessary to have some reasonable amount of confidence about doing such.

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Brady Aiken’s Medicals Are Out, Situation Is Still Cloudy

Last year’s first-overall draft pick, left-hander Brady Aiken, didn’t come to terms with the Astros because of a difference regarding what the physical showed about the condition of his elbow, despite being healthy at the time. Aiken went to IMG’s Post-Grad team this spring, but only threw a handful of pitches before he left his first game with an elbow injury, eventually leading to Tommy John surgery weeks later.

Since the failure of Aiken and Houston to reach an agreement, there’s been lots of buzz as to what the latter saw in that physical, since they’re the only team to have seen it. The most common rumors are unusual situations with the size of Aiken’s UCL, the blood flow to that area and the bone structure around the elbow.  His draft stock for next week’s draft ranges anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round, depending on how much truth there is to these rumors.

A few days ago, the Aiken camp made his medical information available to teams, but with a very rare set of conditions about who can see it. Sources indicate the information is available only to GM-level personnel or higher (who can then distribute it to other decision-makers within the team) and the GM has to make a specific request with Aiken’s camp to see it, which the Aiken camp then has accept.

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2015 MLB Mock Draft v2.0

Now that enough information has accumulated in the last 20 days, it’s time to do another mock draft. I’ll do one more right before the draft, but the variations likely from what I have below hinge on (1) who Houston takes with the second pick, so I outlined the two paths and (2) players shuffling and deals being cut in the back half of the first round (with regard to which decisions teams are starting to meet now), so I gave a word bank of sorts at the end of this, of other players in the mix.

As I mention below, the #1 pick has gone from toss-up to well over 50% chance that it’ll be Dansby Swanson, but it appears that picks 2-9 will have the same players I have below, jumbled in some order. Since certain teams are only on a few of those players, the possible selections after that aren’t just random, but rather variations of the two scenarios centering around which player Houston takes. Roughly picks 10 to 20 are the same names jumbled, with less certainty about which teams prefer whom, then roughly 21 to 40 is about 30 players for 20 picks, with those left out either getting a little less money at later picks, or striking an overslot deal in a later round.

I’ve seen 23 of the 26 players in the projected first round and our prospect writers have seen the other three, so we have video of all the projected first rounders below from the FanGraphs YouTube page, with a quickly growing 2015 MLB Draft playlist of multi-year compilations of video from dozens of top couple round prospects, with many more coming.

*****

1. Diamondbacks – Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt

I wrote about the Diamondbacks casting a wide net 21 days ago, then projected them with Swanson the next day, but noting it was very unsettled. Now, estimates have the D’Backs about 80% likely to take Swanson here, as the industry consensus has pegged him as the top player in the class (he’ll overtake Rodgers in my forthcoming rankings), especially after a scorching finish to the season.

New York prep CF Garrett Whitley is seen as the most likely backup option here, and it would be for a drastically cut rate: Swanson would get a number that starts with 6, of the $8.6 million slot and Whitley would get around $3.5 million or so, as he’d likely slide into the teens if he doesn’t go here. Arizona’s northeast area scout owns a hitting facility and has instructed Whitley since he was in middle school, with some D’Backs officials comparing him to Mike Trout, which you hear more and more with big athletes in the Northeast these days.

Whitley allows the D’Backs to consider going cheap here and spread it to extra picks, but they have almost no control over who they get with those later picks (43 and 76) because, even with a verbal deal for $1 million more than any other team can offer, they can’t stop dozens of teams from taking the player they want anyway. See the notes below on who Arizona is targeting for those picks. Because of the uncertainty of where the savings would go and the belief that Arizona would prefer a college player and a hitter, Swanson looks like the pick here.

Georgia prep C Tyler Stephenson is an even less likely cut-rate prep option they’ve explored and college players RHP Dillon Tate, LHP Tyler Jay and SS Alex Bregman are all getting looks as well, but these five players add up to about a 20% chance of happening, at best.

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 5/26/15

11:44
Kiley McDaniel: I’ll come back to start the chat in 22 minutes but you can leave some questions here ahead of time

12:05
Comment From Whitman
What sort of scouting grades would you put on high school Kiley McDaniel?

12:05
Kiley McDaniel: Lots of 20s

12:05
Comment From George is Curious
What were your thoughts on Preston Tucker prior to him being called up? Think he has the skills to stick in the majors going forward?

12:06
Kiley McDaniel: All my thoughts are here (or linked to here) and that goes for almost all prospects, by the way: http://www.fangraphs.com/st…

12:06
Comment From Anon
Do you see the Jays signing any other July 2 guys aside from Vlad?

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The Black Swan Theory of Drafting Pitchers

I wrote yesterday about the how the shelf life of draft rankings affects the finished product, using my “guy” from this year’s draft, Vanderbilt righty Carson Fulmer, as an example of a guy typically under-appreciated by this process. My history of scouting Fulmer goes back four years to his high school days, but my history of zeroing in on this type of pitcher goes back eight years.

Taking a Page from Wall Street

Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan came out in 2007 and I read it toward the end of that year. Taleb made a lot of money during the stock market crash in 1987 and again during the financial crisis that started in 2007, a crisis he predicted in The Black Swan. The way he made his money is the underpinning of the book: better understanding how very rare events happen.

The human brain simplifies complex situations, which can often help us and conserve energy, but also makes us vulnerable when a seemingly unimportant piece of information is smoothed over by many individuals. Taleb names the unlikely event that few see coming a Black Swan, referring to the collective surprise exhibited when a black version of the (presumed exclusively) white bird was found in another part of the world.

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Carson Fulmer, Time Horizons, and the Aim of Prospect Lists

I scouted Vanderbilt righty Carson Fulmer (video) last Thursday and walked away from that game with more thoughts about prospect lists than about Fulmer himself.

First some background on Fulmer: he’s listed at 6’0/195, but scouts and I estimate he’s actually 5’11/205. He’s pitched at 93-95 mph with an above-average to plus curveball and above-average changeup for all three years at Vanderbilt and all the way back to his high school days, as well. His delivery in high school included a significant head whack, which is much less pronounced now, along with a more up-tempo delivery. Fulmer has never been hurt, even after shifting midseason in 2014 from the bullpen to the rotation, regularly going over 100 pitches in his starts (126 last weekend) and throwing last summer for Team USA.

While some scouts question his delivery and command, he has 132 strikeouts and 37 walks along with 61 hits allowed in 95.2 innings this year, en route to setting school records in multiple categories. He’s a physical and possibly genetic freak, as this delivery, stuff, usage and velocity would’ve broken most other pitchers already, but he’s never been hurt.

Now that you have some background on Fulmer, you’ve probably figured out that he is one of “my guys” in this draft and I’ll be writing more about him before the draft. I’m higher on him than the many in the industry and I will write an extended pre-draft scouting report/rant wondering why this is the case. For reference, here’s what I wrote about last year’s case, 35th overall pick last summer, Rockies 2B Forrest Wall.

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 5/19/15

11:41
Kiley McDaniel: I’ll be back in 20 minutes to answer your questions

12:04
Kiley McDaniel: Okay I’m back let’s get started

12:04
Comment From Matt
When are you going to Greenville to see Moncada, Devers, etc?

12:05
Kiley McDaniel: Working out the days, maybe this weekend

12:05
Comment From David
I’m baffled by this Difo promotion. Can you try to explain why they would promote him this early and what should we expect out of him?

12:06
Kiley McDaniel: Sounds like they were short on 40-man hitters to call up and he’s an early-count contact guy that is less likely to be embarassed than other guys. He’s also 23 and was a late bloomer, so you can see what they’re thinking, don’t think this is helpful for his development, though.

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