Prospects And Draft Chat With Jim Callis

Ben (Leland Grove): Any cause for concern with regard to Dylan Bundy's injury, to your knowledge?

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. Glad to be back in the chat room this week and even more glad that the major league season has begun . . . Bundy’s ailment is described as “mild elbow tightness.” The Orioles are downplaying its significance and obviously are going to handle Bundy with caution. At this point, all we can do is take their word for it. I’m not overly concerned but it’s something I’ll watch closely.

Regurgitating Gordon Wood (New Orleans): I know it may be tough to gage but who do you think is the better MLB prospect, Trea Turner or Alex Bregman? Thanks!

Jim Callis: I’ll take North Carolina State’s Turner, because of his added defensive value as a shortstop and his 80 speed. Louisiana State’s Bregman, who could be the Freshman of the Year, is a sweet-swinging second baseman.

Frank (Chicago): Between Clint Frazier and Javier Baez, who has better bat speed and overall plate discipline?

Jim Callis: They have similar bat speed, which is to say a ton of it. Frazier hasn’t faced pro pitching, so plate discipline is a tough call, but Baez is so aggressive at the plate that I’d expect Frazier is ahead of him in that regard.

Carlos (Miami, FL): Thoughts on Addison Russell's assignment to A+ Stockton? Too aggressive, or will the hitter-friendly environment help him?

Jim Callis: Russell hit .369/.432/.594 in his pro debut last summer, and looked good in two weeks in low Class A, hence the aggressive assignement. I’m always cautious with promotions, so I probably would have let Russell return to the Midwest League for a month of two, but I don’t think he’ll be overmatched by high Class A. And the Cal League, as Carlos mentions, should help his numbers.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Could you see the Cubs taking RHP Jon Gray if the Astros pop Appel at 1-1?

Jim Callis: I could. If the draft were today, I’d expect Appel and Gray to go 1-2 or 2-1.

Ryan (LA): Who was the biggest surprise for you this spring - Brandon Maurer, Jackie Bradley or Yasiel Puig?

Jim Callis: Can I say none? Not that I put much stock in spring stats or expected theirs to be quite that gaudy, but all three of them showed exactly what scouts have raved about them.

Robert (KC): What are your thoughts on Miguel Almonte's potential?

Jim Callis: He’s probably the best prospect in the Royals system who doesn’t get much if any hype. He already touches 96 mph with his heavy fastball and throws strikes, needs to refine his secondary pitches. If it all comes together, he might be a No. 3 starter.

Andrew (Newark, NJ): Jim, what are your thoughts on our Georgia Bulldogs and the future of David Perno?

Jim Callis: As a Georgia alum, it pains me to see that the Bulldogs are 11-19 overall and 1-8 in the SEC. I went to school with David Perno–he once hit a foul ball through the windshield of my car, true story–but I have to think he’s on the hot seat. The SEC East is the toughest division in college baseball, but Georgia has the resources and in-state talent where they should be going to regionals and challenging for the College World Series on a yearly basis.

Luke (Indiana): If the draft was tomorrow, who are your top three picks, in order?

Jim Callis: Stanford RHP Mark Appel, Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray, Georgia high school OF Austin Meadows. I actually wrote my column for our last magazine issue on who I’d take with each of the first 10 picks, and that will post with our updated Draft Top 50 Prospects tomorrow. I wrote that column about 10 days ago, and I’ve shuffled my choices since then.

Peter (Brooklyn): Seems like Sean Manaea's stock has fallen in a lot of mock drafts. Do you chalk up his less than totally dominant start, both production and stuff-wise, to the weather? Something else?

Jim Callis: I think he has fallen a little bit, though I still think he’d go in the top 5-10 picks if the draft were today. The weather up here–I live outside of Chicago–has been bitterly cold for most of the year, but I think the inconsistency of his secondary pitches and his command. His numbers aren’t bad at all (1.14 ERA, 46-13 K-BB in 39 IP) but he hasn’t shown scouts everything they’ve hoped for.

Aaron (los angeles, ca): What do you think of the Indians decision to start Dorssys Paulino at Low A Lake County? Would a successful full-season debut adjust his ETA?

Jim Callis: He had no problem in two weeks in short-season ball last summer, so it was the expected move. I suspect he’ll spend the whole year in the Midwest League regardless of how he performs, then start to move faster if his performances merits in 2014. Earliest realistic ETA in Cleveland would be late 2015.

Steve (Wilmington): Are Hunter Renfroe (Miss. State) and/or Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech) hitting their way into first round consideration this season?

Jim Callis: First round sounds a little bit rich, but I could see sandwich or second round.

Joe D (Everson, PA): Do you see Jameson Taillion getting taken off the leash this year? How do you think he will fare in AA?

Jim Callis: I think he’ll do very well and could rate as the game’s top righthanded pitching prospect by season’s end. The Pirates have handled him cautiously, and he started to take off in the second half last season.

Joel (KCK): Is there any chance that Jonathan Gray has put himself on Houston's short list for the #1 pick?

Jim Callis: Not sure how short that list is yet, but yes, Gray is definitely a candidate.

Jordan (Chicago): Who do you think the Cubs will grab at No. 2? Also have you heard anything of the progress of Barret Loux and his upside? Seems kind of quiet regarding the No. 6 pick in the draft...

Jim Callis: Almost assuredly a college pitcher at No. 2, Appel or Gray. Loux is more of a high-floor than a high-ceiling guy. He can pitch but his stuff is average, so he’s probably a No. 4 starter at best.

Kris (San Francisco): Is Matt Krook the best high school lefty in the country? I know it is too early to tell but is he the kind of guy the Giants might be interested in? Thank you!

Jim Callis: Him or Trey Ball, whose season has just begun. The Giants don’t pick until No. 25, and Krook might not last that long.

Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Robert Stephenson has had a strong spring dlfor the Reds and has added a slider to his fastball/curveball/changeup repitoire. Can you see him passing Billy Hamilton as the Reds top prospect this year? Top 10-15 nationally?

Jim Callis: Stephenson has the potential to do both those things, but that’s probably asking too much. He has an impressive arm but he has pitched just 65 pro innings and still is figuring out his command.

Nate (Chicago): What is the biggest concern with Courtney Hawkins reaching his ceiling? Contact?

Jim Callis: Sure, though you could say the same about almost any high school hitter just out of the draft. Hawkins will stand out more for his power than his pure hitting ability, and he’s a good athlete as well, so it’s not like he’ll have to hit .300 to be productive.

Buster (San Francisco): If you could make one change to the Draft, what would it be?

Jim Callis: Easy: I’d allow teams to spend whatever they wanted on the draft.

Justin (NJ): What are your opinions on Brett Jackson's improved swing?

Jim Callis: Let’s see how it plays out in game action. Jackson will always strike out, though it doesn’t have to be 200 times a year, and I do think he can be productive. Even with his 217 whiffs last year, he still put up 19 homers, 60 extra-base hits and 27 steals.

Mike (Baltimore): How has Dominic Smith looked this spring? Is he a top 15 pick in the draft? Haven't seen anything written about him in a while.

Jim Callis: He has maintained his status as one of the top high school bats in the draft. He’s going to rank right around 15 on our updated Top 50 list, which will be out tomorrow.

Steve (Minneapolis): Are you surprised that the Marlins designated Zack Cox for assignment or has he really just fallen that far in such a short time? I ask because I'd like to see the Twins take a flier on him given the lack of third base depth at the upper levels. I was hoping he'd fall to them in the 2011 draft.

Jim Callis: I was one of his biggest boosters in the 2011 draft, and I still think there’s something there. I was surprised he got DFAed and agree that he’d be a worthwhile flier for the Twins.

The Bronx Empire (Not the Bronx ironically): What's the current status of Austin Wilson RE: his injury. How has it affected his draft stock and where do you think he ranks currently in this class?

Jim Callis: Wilson played just one game at Stanford this year before being sidelined with a stress reaction in his elbow. He was a difficult prospect to figure out even before the injury. He’s a huge physical presence (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) with bat speed and arm strength, but he also has big swing-and-miss issues. If he doesn’t play much this year, teams will just have to rely on their impressions coming into the season. Not all 30 clubs will believe he will hit, but there will be at least a few who think he’s worth a first-round pick. Personally, I prefer Samford’s Phillip Ervin among the college outfielders.

Jim (Ohio): Looking at this draft is confusing for the casual fan. People say it's a bad draft, but it seems like there are 12-15 guys who are all highly ranked and practically seem interchangeable. Is it considered "bad" because there are so few obvious top guys, but still pretty deep, or would the guys like Manaea or Stanek not be anywhere near the top of a better draft class?

Jim Callis: I wouldn’t say bad, but I would grade this draft as a 40-45 on the 20-80 scouting scale. There’s no classic No. 1 overall pick, there’s a lack of all-around college position player talent, a lot of the best college arms have short track records, the high school pitching isn’t terribly deep.

Zane (LOU): Who is the best prospect in the Astros system that no one knows about?

Jim Callis: He didn’t make our Astros Top 30, but I do believe outfielder Marc Krauss can be a productive offensive player.

Mike (Oklahoma): If your Jeff Luhnow how are you going to decide between Gray and Appel this summer?

Jim Callis: I take the guy I think is the better of the two. If they’re even, then I take the guy I can sign for the lower bonus to give me more money to play with later in the draft.

MC (Boston): Which team do you think is a good match for Kris Bryant? And where would you slot him among BA's top 100 prospects?

Jim Callis: I think he’d go in the 5-10 range and be the first college bat taken if the draft were today. He’d make sense for the Indians at 5 and Marlins at 6, among others. He’d probably rank in the middle of the Top 100 somewhere.

Will (Dallas): What is Carlos Correa's grade as far as arm strength goes? I saw him fire a ball from SS to 1B like nothing I've ever seen.

Jim Callis: His arm might be his best pure tool, a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. But all of his tools project as 55s or better.

JT (Michigan): Maurer has seemingly come from no where (for guys like me who follow the Top 100 more so than a team's top 30) to starting in the MLBs tomorrow; how does his upside compare to the bigger named prospects?

Jim Callis: He didn’t get as much attention as Danny Hultzen or Taijuan Walker or James Paxton, but Maurer has a tremendous arm. A high school teammate of Gerrit Cole, Maurer can get swings and misses with his 93-97 mph fastball and his slider. He has improved his changeup and control. The key for him has been staying healthy after elbow and shoulder issues limited him to a total of 97 innings in 2010-11.

Ian (PA): Does Kris Bryant's bat play at first base if he has to wind up there as a pro?

Jim Callis: Bryant probably won’t stick at third base, but his bat should play at first base. He’s athletic enough to play on an outfield corner, too.

Max (East): Simmons or Bogaerts?

Jim Callis: That is a tough one. There’s no doubt that Simmons is going to stay at shortstop forever, and he can handle the bat. Bogaerts has much more offensive upside but might outgrow the position, though he’s athletic enough to stay there for a while. I’ll go with ceiling and say Bogaerts, but it’s a difficult decision.

Ethan (Maine): With a projection of Appel/Gray at 1 & 2 (in whatever order), the Rockies seem pinched at #3, probably looking at one of the prep OFers in Frazier or Meadows or possibly Bryant. Yes, you go BPA, but for a team that needs pitching and has some depth in the OF in the minors, isn't this almost a worst-case scenario?

Jim Callis: I wouldn’t say worst-case scenario, but I agree that the best case would be for Appel or Gray to fall to the Rockies, or for a third college pitcher (Manaea) to assert himself that high. Nothing wrong with taking Frazier or Meadows if they’re the best available.

Rick (USA): Stuart Turner at Ole Miss - how high has he risen? Could he be one of the first 100 off the board or is that still a little high?

Jim Callis: I think he could go in the second or third round, so that’s not too high. He’s the second-best college catcher in the draft, behind California’s Andrew Knapp.

Aaron (Kansas): When will you do your 1st mock? Any chance you did in 05(??) and nail almost every pick?

Jim Callis: Our initial first-round projection will come out in May. I’ll never get the first 18 picks from the top correct again. That was a once-in-a-lifetime run. Projecting the first round involves talking to a lot of sources (which I do every year) and getting lucky when you have to guess after the first few picks. Every time I had to guess in 2005, I guessed right.

Grant (Salem, IL): Who are the best draft prospects from Illinois this season?

Jim Callis: It’s a down year in my home state. I don’t think there’s a college player who will go in the first five rounds. John A. Logan LHP Derek Thompson is the best of the junior college crop, but I’m not sure he goes in the top five rounds either. Same for the best high schoolers: Geneva Community RHP Andy Honiotes and Danville C Chuckie Robinson.

colin (toronto): Jim, do you think any of the tradeable supp picks will be traded before the draft this year? Any thoughts on what they are worth?

Jim Callis: Now that the regular season has begun, teams can deal the competitive-balance picks again. I’m not sure if we’ll see another one traded–three of the 12 were dealt last summer–because in my mind they’re quite valuable and I expect many significant deals before June. Picks 34-39 are worth from $1.4 million to $1.6 million, which would be more than one-fifth of a typical team’s bonus pool.

Jim Callis: Thanks for the questions, everyone. See you again next week. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @jimcallisBA..

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