Draft Deadline Chat With Jim Callis

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. The deadline has come and gone, and now it’s time to hit me with your draft questions. Fire away!

    Jim (Pittsburgh): Are the Pirates the biggest winner this year?

Jim Callis: Getting the Jameson Taillon/Stetson Allie combo does stand out the most for me at the top of the draft. The Red Sox also stick out for spreading the wealth around among Vitek, Brentz, Ranaudo, Workman, Coyle, Cecchini, etc. The Dodgers pulled off a Zach Lee when few thought they could, and I like their final-day signings of Joc Pederson and Scott Schebler. If Bryce Harper, Sammy Solis and A.J. Cole are as good as the Nationals think they are, that’s a nice haul, too.

    Bill (Galloway, New Jersey): Of the top 50 picks in the 2010 draft class that signed contracts, who do you feel has
    the potential to be the biggest sleeper and go far beyond expectations?

Jim Callis: Based on lack of hype and not draft position (because guys slid for financial reasons), I’ll say Jays righthander Asher Wojciechowski. Plus fastball and slider, should move quickly.

    Drew (NY): What players got big league deals?

Jim Callis: Bryce Harper ($6.25 million bonus/$9.9 million guaranteed) from the Nationals, Yasmani Grandal from the Reds, Zack Cox from the Cardinals. Don’t have the exact details on the last two, but they were both worth around $3.2 million with bonuses close to $3 million.

    John R (Arlington, VA): How would you rate the Nats draft and what do you think the timeline is for the pieces they signed to make an impact at the ML level?

Jim Callis: The Nationals spent more than $10 million in bonuses on four players with a lot of upside: Bryce Harper, Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray. Fans are going to need to be patient, because Solis is the only college guy in there and these guys, while promising, are going to need time to develop. Harper has as much power as any draft prospect ever, but he’s just 17 and isn’t going to rush to the majors anywhere near as quick as Stephen Strasburg. I could see Harper in the bigs at some point in 2013, but that’s a best-case scenario. Solis could be up that year, but Cole and Ray are more likely 2014 guys. Good draft, but it won’t be an immediate impact.

    Marcus (Silver Spring): Do you think B. Harper is ready for the AFL?

Jim Callis: No, not really. But I’d love to see him tackle that challenge. And he certainly did much better in junior college at age 17 than anyone could have expected.

    Ron (Racine, WI): How much does the Brewer's not signing Covey hurt their draft this year?

Jim Callis: It hurts a lot because they didn’t get their first-round pick and didn’t sign a player before the No. 64 choice. They apparently didn’t have the time to reallocate his money to other players, or at least didn’t have the players they wanted to spend that money on. There are some good players but no headliners in Milwaukee’s draft.

    Mark (NYC): The Yankees paid their 4th round pick Mason Williams more then they paid their 1st round pick by over 500,000. They paid him mid-1st round money. Is he that talented??

Jim Callis: We didn’t have him rated as a first-rounder, but bonuses also come down to leverage, too. Williams was
willing to go to South Carolina, and the Yankees really liked him, so they paid dearly to get him. He’s an athletic center fielder. Would have
been fun to see him run around the Gamecocks outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr.

    Rob (Union, NJ): Jim,

    Does Matt Harvey become the Mets' top pitching prospect (assuming Mejia loses his eligibility)? Also, what are your feelings on Greg Peavey? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Yes, Harvey does, pretty easily for me. Peavey was throwing 90 mph at age 14, creating a lot of excitement. He now sits at 88-92, so he didn’t really add that much velocity, but he still has solid stuff.

    Jason (Austin): How far apart do you think Cole
    Green and Detroit were? Was it that the Tigers spent too much on Castellanos and and couldnt afford Green 7 figure price tag?

Jim Callis: Not at all. There are reports Detroit offered $300,000 and Green wanted $400,000. The Tigers held firm, and Green decided to go back for his senior season.

    Jason (Austin): You will probably be asked a 1 question for every dollar Harper is getting, but do you think we will see him in rookie ball this year or is the Arizona fall league the 1st we will get to see him?

Jim Callis: If they really are going to send him to the
Arizona Fall League, it would be best to let him get tuned up first in Rookie ball. I honestly don’t know where we’ll first see him on a pro diamond.

    Dave (Atlanta): What happened with the Braves and Stefan Sabol and Zach Alvord?

Jim Callis: Both those guys wanted deals in the seven-figure range, and the Braves wouldn’t go that high to keep them from going to college.

    Seth (Wisconsin): I really like Covey as a prospect and was very disappointed to hear the Brewers failed to sign him. Then I started to wonder, might the Brewers be better off getting a
    compensatory pick next year than they would signing Covey this year? With the consensus that next years draft will be extremely deep, this seems to make sense. What is your take?

Jim Callis: They’ll probably get a comparable player next year, though they may have to factor in signability more heavily because they won’t get further compensation if they don’t sign that guy.
The Brewers aren’t harmed long-term by not signing Covey, but it’s disappointing to defer your first-round pick for a year.

    Dan (Baltimore): Zach Lee appears to be a top-5 talent based on bonus size, does his talent merit the money?

Jim Callis: Remember, bonuses are based on talent and leverage. Lee had more leverage than just about any player in this draft, because he’s a gifted pitcher who was also a top quarterback. You
could make a case that Lee was the second-best high school pitcher in this draft behind Jameson Taillon. If money weren’t a factor, I bet he would have gone 10-15 picks higher in the draft.

    Jason (Austin): Last year we saw Mike Leake go straight from the draft to starting in the bigs, who do you think will be the 1st from this class to make the bigs?

Jim Callis: That’s easy! White Sox lefthander Chris Sale is already there! But if you’re asking me who will be second, I’d say Twins righthander Alex Wimmers.

    George (Tennessee): Jim, you called it right yesterday that the Indians would sign all of their top 4 picks. What's your overall impression of their draft now that everyone's signed, sealed and delivered. Seems like the Tribe has shifted their strategy the last few years and are now emphasizing tools over makeup.

Jim Callis: Very, very impressive draft for the Indians. Not only did they get Drew Pomeranz, LeVon Washington, Tony Wolters and Kyle Blair, but they also did so for just $5.78 million when
I thought the number might have been closer to $7 million. I also liked
their aggressiveness to lock up later picks like Cole Cook, Alex Lavisky, Tyler Holt, Michael Goodnight and Tony Dischler, and to gamble on an injured Robbie Aviles.

    Jason (Oakland, CA): Why did the A's go so high
    over Slot to sign 2nd Rounder Yordy Cabrera? Did he have a really strong Committment to some college? I don't get it.

Jim Callis: Some teams considered him a first-round talent because of his power and arm strength, and the A’s were obviously
one of them. Also would like to point out that the slots aren’t based on reality. If you line up the bonuses in descending order and match them up to the slots, the bonuses are significantly higher. For instance, there are only eight slots worth $2 million or more, but 16 draftees got deals worth $2 million or higher.

    Joseph (Toronto): Everyone is saying that Thon was overpaid in this year's draft. I'll bet everyone on the BA staff and
    every scout out there that he will be the best shortstop that comes out
    of this year's draft in the next 5 years. Mark my words! And when I am
    correct then I'll be able to take all of your jobs for lack of insight and knowledge!! :-)

Jim Callis: Give me Manny Machado and tell me what we’re betting! Thon is interesting, and I can envision him having blossomed into a first-rounder if he spent three years at Rice. But $1.5
million did seem mighty steep to me for a guy we rated as a fourth- to sixth-round talent. Then again, as I’ve been saying, bonuses are driven by leverage, and the opportunity to go to Rice gives players a lot of leverage.

    aaron (phoenix): Do players have to have physical completed before the deadline in order to sign?

Jim Callis: I believe a team could waive a physical for
a player signed to a standard bonus deal. But it couldn’t void a contract if a player failed a physical after the deadline.

    Adam (Kinderhook, NY): Do you think that this many deals being decided right at the deadline is bad for baseball? Not
    only does it seem bad financially, but most of these players will be missing a crucial half-season of play and evaluation.

Jim Callis: I think many deals will always go to the deadline if MLB continues to try to squash them, and then hide them when
it can’t kill them. The solution is an earlier deadline, which I’ve heard many people advocate for and no one argue against, and I think we’ll have an earlier deadline with the new CBA in 2012. Also seems like
it would be easy enough for MLB and the MLBPA to just take five minutes
and change the deadline for 2011. Still would go to the wire and teams still would spend, but players could get a half-season of minor league ball in.

    Derek (Chicago): How do the skills of Cox project to the majors, i.e., comparable to a young Rolen? What do you think of the leftys the Cards got before round 10 (Gast, Lyons, Bibona)?
    Do you like Jenkins upside? Thx

Jim Callis: Cox isn’t nearly as good defensively as Rolen, though I think Cox will stay at third base. Those lefties are all
interesting, but none is a high-ceiling guy. I like Bibona the best. Jenkins is an amazing athlete with a huge ceiling, and he should get better now that he’s going to focus solely on baseball.

    mloyko54 (cape cod, ma): Please rank in order of highest ceiling and potential at MLB level:Vitek,Brentz,Ranaudo,Workman,Coyle,Cecchini,Perkins,
    Hernandez

Jim Callis: Ranaudo, Cecchini, Perkins (we’re talking ceiling), Vitek, Coyle, Workman, Brentz, Hernandez.

    Joel (Wyoming): Maybe way early on this one, but any thoughts post draft signings on the pre-season college baseball rankings? Thanks

Jim Callis: College guru Aaron Fitt is breaking down which college teams gained and lost the most talent at the deadline. We’ll have that online soon.

    Ryan (Owasso): Jim - what possible good does it
    do for James Paxton not to sign? He's not going to get better in the Indy leagues & I can't possibly see how his value is going to go up in a stacked draft next year.

Jim Callis: Because he has been out of high school four
years and was independent ball this year, the signing deadline doesn’t apply to Paxton. I expect he’ll sign with the Mariners.

    Greg (LA): Could you explain the rule whereby the LAD's get to spread their $5.25M over 5 years? I thought that Lee was giving up football?

Jim Callis: Yes. MLB allows bonuses for two-sport athletes to be spread over as many as five years. The determination of what constitutes a two-sport athlete is solely at the discretion of the commissioner. Lee actually was a member of LSU’s football team when he signed, but the rule also was applied to Lastings Milledge when the Mets
drafted, and he hadn’t played football in his final two years of high school.

    Greg Martin (Albuquerque): So what happens to Barrett Loux now? Does he return to Texas A&M, or does he have to go the independent route (i.e. with Hochevar) for a year? What are his realistic draft projections for next year? And what exactly is wrong with him?

Jim Callis: Greg asked this question before the news broke that MLB had announced that Loux would become a free agent on Sept. 1. Loux had shoulder tenderness as a high school senior and bone chips removed from his elbow last year, and there are reports that Arizona’s physical exam showed fraying in his shoulder and elbow that concerned the club. Loux was healthy this year, but the Diamondbacks apparently were concerned how well he would hold up over the long term. I
assume he’ll get in top pitching shape over the next two weeks, then showcase himself in workouts for clubs and sign in September or October.

    Hairy Dawg (Athens, GA): Karsten Whitson. What the heck happened?

Jim Callis: The two sides couldn’t agree on what they had agreed to before the draft, and while the Padres offered over-slot money, the two sides couldn’t get very close.

    John (New York): Is Bryce Harper on the same level of prospect as players like A-Rod and Justin Upton were coming out of high school?

Jim Callis: In the same class, but I’d take both of those guys over him at the same point of their careers. It’s hard not to
love Harper’s power, but A-Rod and Upton had plenty of power, more well-rounded games and played more valuable positions.

    Ed (Minneapolis): A Yankee fan a little disappointed of the draft and subsequent signings. I liked it very much
    that they went after more high schooler who are better athletes. I believe Cito Culver has exceeded expectations so far. I was very disappointed they didn't go hard after Kevin Jordan. What's your take on the Ynakee's draft this year?

Jim Callis: I see where you’re coming from, Ed. They got some interesting guys and fully believe in Culver, their surprise first-round picks. But I’m surprised the Yankees didn’t use their financial might to greater advantage. Mason Williams was their only seven-figure investment.

    JP (Charlotte NC): Were you surprised by the $1M bonus given to Cleveland's 8th round pick Alex Lavisky? I know he had a scholarship offer at Ga Tech, but is he a $1M caliber prospect?

Jim Callis: Not really. Again, it’s talent AND leverage. Lavisky had the opportunity to play at a school noted for both
its baseball program and its academics, and he would have been a draft-eligible sophomore in 2012. Some teams saw him as a sandwich- or second-round talent. Add it all up, and that’s how he got $1 million.

    Bruce (San Diego): I'm disgusted that the Padres didn't sign their #1 pick. Do you have any scoop as to why they could reach an agreement? Last week I was appalled that the DBacks may have intentionally drafted a kid #1 but never intending to sign him. Now I'm concerned that the Pads may have been up to something underhanded like this. Is the 2011 draft crop REALLY that much better?

Jim Callis: Neither of those teams did anything underhanded. The Diamondbacks drafted Loux to sign him to a slighty below-average deal. When he failed their physical, that killed the deal.
I discussed the Padres and Whitson a couple of questions ago. San Diego
was willing to go over slot to sign him.

    Greg (Norman, OK): If a team signs a player to a
    major league deal (I'm a Cardinal fan, so I'm specifically talking about Zack Cox) they have to add them to the 40-man roster. Does that mean if he burns an option if he doesn't spend the rest of this season in the big leagues?

Jim Callis: No. A club can sign the player to a major league contract that starts the next year. Even if they don’t, they can choose not to assign him to a minor league affiliate. I also believe (may be wrong on this) that even if Cox went straight to the minors, he wouldn’t be there long enough to need to burn an option.

    Zach (St. Augustine): Mazeltov for Machado! The
    O's finally have a long-term answer at shortstop. Gone are the days of Cesar Izturis! My question, however, is about third-rounder Daniel Klein. Does he have a bright future ahead of him as a starter? Any comps
    for him? And would the O's be better off by letting him stay in the bullpen?

Jim Callis: He was a closer at UCLA only because the Bruins rotation was loaded with Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole and Rob Rasmussen. Klein has enough start and should get the opportunity in pro ball.

    Lior (Portland, Oregon): Jim: Is my perception
    correct that were a ton more over-slot deals at the deadline this year -
    particularly with high schoolers? Assuming there were, do you think it
    is attributable to more money in baseball or the impending renegotiation of the draft with the MLBPA or some other factor? If the rules don't change for next year, I would anticipate even more HS players holding out for much bigger dollars at the end. Thanks.

Jim Callis: You are correct, sir, next year will be a free-for-all that makes this year look restrained. Teams believe there’s
a good chance there will be a collectively bargained hard slotting system starting in 2012, which will mean they won’t be able to meet the asking prices of several talented players, in particular high schoolers.
Clubs also are flush with money, and they’re willing to spend it on the
draft, no matter how hard MLB tries to stop them.

    Bryan (Los Angeles): What are your thoughts on Zach Lee? How does he rate against Billingsley and Kershaw when they were drafted? How does he ultimately project?

Jim Callis: Behind Kershaw and ahead of Billingsley. Lee is a potential frontline starter. Projectable, athletic righthander with sharp stuff.

Jim Callis: You guys are asking questions faster than I
can keep up. I still have 400 to plow through, so let’s switch to lightning-round mode! I’ll stick around for another half-hour.

    Mark (Boston): Is Garin Cecchini going to wind up greater than, less than, or equal to current Sox prospects Will Middlebrooks and David Renfroe? Thanks and great work.

Jim Callis: I’ll say better, and I was bullish on Middlebrooks and Renfroe.

    Walter (Baltimore): Are college seniors exempted from the August 15th signing deadline? When is their deadline for signing - the following May?

Jim Callis: A senior who has used up his college eligibility is not subject to the deadline and can sign up until a week before the next draft.

    Bob (Tampa): Does Harper have to make his debut in the majors by 2013 or 2014 due to the major league contract?

Jim Callis: 2015. Contract starts in 2011 and he’ll have four options.

    Robert Goldberg (Secaucus, NJ): Jim - outside of Whitson & Covey, who surprised you most by not signing?

Jim Callis: Rays fourth-rounder Austin Wood. He starred
in the Cape Cod League and I thought the Rays could have had him for sandwich-round money.

    Tim (Fort Worth): Two pitchers that Caught my attention out of the rangers draft class were nick tepesch and jason grimm. Which one has the chance to be better? Are both of those good signs?

Jim Callis: They’re both guys who once projected as first-round picks and didn’t live up to that billing in college. Still a
lot of upside, good signs. Grimm has a higher ceiling.

    Raul (Tucson, AZ): Jim, I was digging your coverage all day yesterday. Have you heard whether the Brewers lowered their offer to Covey because of the diagnosis of diabetes, or did they still offer the same amount of money as before?

Jim Callis: I’ve heard it was more of the family’s decision, that he was better off going to college for now after the diagnosis.

    brandon (michigan): as a tiger fan should I be disappointed they didn't sign green, dupra and fiociello?

Jim Callis: I’d be more excited about signing Castellano, Ruffin, Smyly and Co. than worrying about the guys who got away.

    Connor (Chicago): Will Kyle Parker be playing football for Clemson in 2010?

Jim Callis: He’ll play this fall, then give up football and report to the Rockies.

    Dave (White Plains, NY): What are your thoughts on Barret Loux being granted free agency?

Jim Callis: I heard talk it would be discussed but never thought it would be resolved immediately after the draft. It’s fair to Loux, whose situation (and Covey’s) points out the need for physicals BEFORE the draft.

    dave (white plains, ny): you said you were still fired up about the draft. So talk about Drew Smyly.

Jim Callis: I like him. Lefthander with solid stuff who can really pitch. Ceiling is No. 3 starter.

    Kevin (Ridgefield, CT): Did you feel Boston overspend on this years draft b/c of poor performances by their top prospects. Seems like Theo wanted to infuse some better talent into his poor performing minor leagues.

Jim Callis: They didn’t do anything this year that they haven’t done in the last several drafts.

    Nick (NJ): What happened with the Mets and 23rd round pick OF Drew Martinez?

Jim Callis: He didn’t sign. Good summer on Cape, returns to Memphis.

    Kris (Mass): Who has the best upside between Boston's signs; Hernandez, Price or Dahlstrand?

Jim Callis: Price.

    Paul (Dumond): Where there any million dollar bonuses beyond the tenth round?

Jim Callis: The Diamondbacks spent some of the money earmarked for Loux on 14th-rounder Ty Linton, signing him for $1.25 million.

    derek (rockville, md): True or False: There is better than a 50% chance that the 2012 draft will feature international players and very strict slot bonuses that teams must adhere to (a la the
    NBA).

Jim Callis: Better chance of strict slotting than international players. If international players are put into the draft, I’m guessing it’s a separate draft.

    Jon J. (New York, NY): More surprising news the Padres not signing Karstens or the Dodgers signing Lee?

Jim Callis: Padres not signing Whitson.

    Tim (Raleigh, NC): Who signs Loux now?

Jim Callis: Remains to be seen. No obvious candidate.

    dave gershman (white plains, ny): do you like the Nationals choice of Sammy Solis over Brandon Workman? If so, why?

Jim Callis: They’re comparable, could see that one going either way. Solis is a lefthander, Workman has better stuff.

    Andrew (Toronto): Was deck MacGuire worth it?

Jim Callis: Sure. Polished college starter for $2 million? Sign me up.

    T (Boston): Some have suggested that Ranaudo and the Sox had agreed to a contract a while ago and the announcement was held for MLB. Heard anything on this?

Jim Callis: I don’t think that’s the case, but we’ll never know for sure. Those types of deals happen all the time. There are
guys who signed yesterday who agreed to their bonus amount on draft day.

    Jimi (Chicago): Will Machado be the O's #1 prospect or does Zach Britton still get that honor?

Jim Callis: As much as I like Britton, I’d go with Machado.

    Matt (KC): Are there any concerns that Eibner won't make enough contact to be a major leaguer? Did he make any progress adjusting to breaking balls at Arkansas?

Jim Callis: He did make progress. And if contact is an issue, he can move to the mound, where some teams preferred him anyway.

    Brian (Toledo): On paper, is this the most successful draft the Indians have had this decade?

Jim Callis: It certainly has that potential.

    Matt (KC): Will the Diamondbacks be allowed to bid on Loux as a free agent and keep the compensation pick?

Jim Callis: Good question. I would think so, but that would be amazing if they signed him and got the comp pick. And I bet 29 other teams would be incensed. Doubt it plays out that way, though.

Jim Callis: Two hours of chatting is all I have in me—fatigue starting to hit me hard after working the deadline activity until 3 a.m. last night. If I didn’t get to your question, you can try submitting it for our weekly Ask BA mailbag at askba@baseballamerica.com. Remember to include your full name and hometown. Thanks!

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