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Cubs Prospects

Moderator: Jim Callis knows Cubs fans love the minor leagues, and he will answer your questions about the organization.

 Q:  Dave from Chicago asks:
Hi Jim, What do you think of Matt Creighton, who was co-MVP of the Rookie League, along with teammate Felix Pie, and put up outstanding numbers. I noticed he played both 2B and 1B, two distinctly different talent-level positions. Is he a good enough athlete to play 2B in the majors or will they have to "hide" his bat at 1B?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Wow, I get here and 91 questions already await. Creighton's bat is his best tool, though at 23 he was very old for the Arizona League. He can run little bit, probably fits best at 3B if he hits enough. One problem the Cubs have is that they have so much talent, especially at the lower levels, that it's hard to get everyone playing time. The only organization deeper is the Indians, but unlike Cleveland, Chicago didn't build up its system with a lot of prospect trades and extra draft picks.

 Q:  Graham from Henderson, NV asks:
Eric Brown had an ERA under 1.00 with three diferant teams last year. Is he a prospect or is just an over age player for those levels?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Brown is a deceptive guy who uses a Frisbee slider as an out pitch. He's now 24, so he too was a bit old for his levels. But his slider might be good enough to take him to the majors.

 Q:  Tom Wolfenden from Pensacola fl asks:
Jim with abundance of pitching in the minors do you think that drafting this year will take on a different approach and have position players taken in the first couple of rounds, especially catching? or will the club continue to persue pitching or best player available and trade for needs down the road.
 A: 

Jim Callis: With early picks, teams almost always take the best available player, regardless of position. I believe the Cubs will do that. They may lean toward position players when setting up their draft board if two guys are even, but if the best guy when they pick in the first round is a pitcher, I bet they pop him.

 Q:  Michael Smith from Chicago asks:
Hey Jim if Bobby Brownlie would of signed before you came out with your top ten Cub list where would he rank? With Brownlie in the mix where would the Cubs farm system rank overall in baseball?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd be tempted to put him third, because I think he's more advanced than current No. 3 Andy Sisco and No. 4 Felix Pie. If I took the approach that he hasn't proven anything yet, Brownlie could go as low as 9th or 10th. The Cubs are stacked. One player wouldn't be enough to put the Cubs in the No. 1 farm system spot over the Indians. They're a top five organization, however, and we'll release our rankings in the upcoming Prospect Handbook.

 Q:  Keno Leighty from Vancouver, WA asks:
Hello Jim and thanks for the chat. Is Angel Guzman a future #1 starter or will he figure to be a middle of the rotation guy? Also what is his injury past? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Possible No. 1, though that's his ceiling and not a certainty. Some in the organization think he might follow Mark Prior's express route from Double-A to the majors this year. I'm not aware of any injury history with him.

 Q:  Bill Mitchell from Tempe, AZ asks:
Jim - How do pitchers Jae Kuk Ryu, Justin Jones, Billy Petrick and David Nolasco slot in after the Top Ten? Does any other organization have as much quality pitching at the lower levels as the Cubs?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Quality guys who would have made a lot of other clubs' Top 10s. I'm not going to give away all our rankings from the Prospect Handbook, but I'll make an exception here. Ryu was 11, Jones 12, Petrick 17 and Ricky Nolasco 19. I assume this is the Bill Mitchell who does the Arizona Fall League website, which I enjoy.

 Q:  Graham from Henderson, NV asks:
The Cubs 9th round selection in last years draft, Adam Greenberg, had some impresive stats at Daytona. What is has big leage potential?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Greenberg played much better in high Class A than he did in low Class A. He has a chance to hit and be a plus defender in center field. Not a Top 30 guy in this organization yet.

 Q:  Ted from Hockessin, DE asks:
Hi Jim, Thanks for the chat. Going into last season you had indicated the Cubs were very high on Angel Guzman and Felix Sanchez as two players that could have breakout seasons. In your discussions with the organization (compiling this year's list) did the Cubs identify any particular candidates that may possibly breakout this season? If not, who do you see as possibilities?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Billy Petrick and Jason Wylie, two high-quality arms signed out of the 2002 draft, are the best 2003 candidates. I also think Luke Hagerty and Brendan Harris, who are on the Top 10, could establish themselves as among the better prospects in the entire minors this year.

 Q:  Chris from Parkersburg, IA asks:
If Brownlie signs, where does he rank amoung Cubs pitchers? Also, what's your opinion on Juan Cruz? Future star or bust?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Brownlie is covered above. I still think Cruz has a lot of upside and I'm sure plenty of teams would give him a chance if the Cubs tire of him. I still would take him over Carlos Zambrano. No reason he can't reassert himself in the rotation this year.

 Q:  Dave from Chestertown, Maryland asks:
When will the Cubs ever sign Bobby Brownlie?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think they will sign him, for closer to the $2 million they're offering than the $4 million he's seeking, but no real timetable. The nextlast deadline is a week before the 2003 draft. He wouldn't report to spring training until about March 1 at this point anyway.

 Q:  Cubweiser from Grand Rapids, Mi asks:
Jim, Are the cubs making a strategical effort to draft or sign pithcers who throw 95+ or are they just being more successful than other teams in finding the most talented of that lot?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Everyone is looking for those arms. I haven't broken down all the drafts, but over the last 5-7 years I doubt few if any clubs have drafted better than the Cubs, especially in terms of number of legitimate prospects.

 Q:  Chris Roliardi from Elmhurst, Il asks:
Hey Jim, With the emergence of Brendan Harris, what do you think the future holds for Dave Kelton and do you think Harris is the real deal? Also, if you had to pick one guy off of this years list that you think might make an impact this season (one that is not a 6'5 Korean) who do you think it will be. Thanks Jim, love the magazine!
 A: 

Jim Callis: I do think Harris is the real deal and will establish himself as a blue-chip prospect in 2003. Kelton needs to show he can play 3B this year so he can beat Harris to the majors and try to establish himself. If Kelton can't, I don't see him beating out Hee Seop Choi at 1B or Nic Jackson in the OF. I don't know if the Cubs have someone besides Choi who will come out of the system to make a big impact this year. Kelton, Steve Smyth, Todd Wellemeyer and maybe Guzman could get a serious look at some point.

 Q:  Ted from Hockessin, DE asks:
Jim, If Dontrelle Willis were still in the Cub organization, where might he rank on the Cubs list? How does he compare (where would you slot him) in terms of some of the other top Cub Southpaws - Sisco, Haggerty, Jones, Sanchez, Smyth, Pigniatello? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Great question. They're so deep in lefties. I'd probably put him at the top of the list, because he's advanced further than Sisco and Hagerty, who haven't gone to full-season ball yet. But they're ceilings are higher than Willis'.

 Q:  Graham from Henderson, NV asks:
What is the potential upside for pitchers Justin Jones and William Petrick?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A lot of upside. Jones threw 90-93 mph last year with a nice curveball--at age 17. Petrick has good size, good athleticism and already throws a heavy fastball that touches 92 mph at age 18. Two nice picks from 2002, neither a first-rounder.

 Q:  Cubweiser from Grand Rapids, Mi asks:
Jim, What do you think of Felix Pie? Was his Arizona League #s a sign of true potential or is it too soon to project his overall talent abilities?
 A: 

Jim Callis: What he did in the Arizona League was a true sign of his potential. He can do everything but hit for power, and he should be able to do that in time. But bear in mind that he was just 17 and has a few years to go before making the majors. Huge, huge ceiling.

 Q:  tom garrison from tenino washington asks:
will baker give farm players a chance or will they end up with other teams like hinske and many others in the past
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs are going to play their homegrown players. GM Jim Hendry was the scouting director who drafted many of them, and the farm director who oversaw many of them, and he believes in them.

 Q:  Ted from Hockessin, DE asks:
Jim, Steve Smyth was the top LHP prospect in the organization last year (I believe BA had him at #11) and struggled a bit while in the majors (although there were reports that he wasn't 100% healthwise). What do you see in his future for this season, and what does his ceiling look like? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Smyth was recovering from shoulder surgery, didn't get his stuff all the way back yet and tired by the end of the year. He's probably third in line for the fifth starter's spot behind Carlos Zambrano and Juan Cruz, and the Cubs bolstered their bullpen in the offseason, so he'll probably begin the year in Triple-A. He projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

 Q:  Bob from Atlanta asks:
Being a lifelong Cub fan - 50+ years- I've noted many heralded prospects that have never succeeded. But some players "escape" the Cubs system and become successes, for example Eric Hinske. Question: are the Cubs minor league coaches below average in teaching and developing players, especially position players? Is this the major flaw in the Cubs' program over the last fifty years? And, if I can sneak in a legal question: my Dad took me to a game at Wrigley field when I was seven and I was addicted from then on. Can I sue my Dad for this grievous act, that has led to years and years of frustration and grief?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't know if anyone has figured out how to or even tried to quantify how well as system develops talent. If a guy fails, it's hard to assess blame. Was he not a good draft pick, or did development screw him up. I think the Cubs' major flaw over the last 50 years is not assessing talent, amateur and major league, well. They're doing a much better job in that regard. You'll thank your dad when the Cubs finally win a World Series in the next 5-10 years.

 Q:  Eddy from Lachine, Quebec asks:
Several other publications have been bullish about Brendan Harris, even deigning to liken his 2002 season to Albert Pujols' 2000 season, yet Harris was nowhere to be found in your rankings of either second basemen or third basemen. Oversight on your part, or philosophical difference?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think comparing Harris and Pujols is extremely premature. The Cubs really like Harris, and even they wouldn't go that far. I really like Harris as well, and I won't go that far. I'm not sure what rankings you're referring too. I will say that the reports we've gotten on Harris from the Cubs and other clubs after the season have been glowing, so if that was an end-of-season list, that might explain it. I'm not sure why Florida State League observers weren't higher on him. In my mind, he's the fourth-best 3B prospect right now, behind Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Andy Marte.

 Q:  Tom from Virginia asks:
I was wondering what kind of upside Cubs lefthander Justin Jones has...also could you list a few of the top high schoolers for the 2004 draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: We discussed Jones earlier. The top three high schoolers for the 2004 draft are: RHP Nick Adenhart (Hagerstown, Md.), SSRHP Matt Bush (San Diego) and LHP Mike Rozier (Stockbridge, Ga.). The top-rated Virginia guy is 1BOF Jared Kubin, who comes from my alma mater, Oakton High.

 Q:  DL HUYCK from PROSPERITY, SOUTH CAROLINA asks:
JIM, PLEASE TELL CUB FANS A LITTLE MORE ABOUT MATT CLANTON. OTHER THAN BEING A SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT PICK FROM CALIFORNIA LAST YEAR, WE REALLY DO NOT KNOW A LOT ABOUT THIS GUY. THANKS A LOT FOR THESE CHATS I REALLY ENJOY THEM!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Clanton pitched just two innings after signing. He throws 90-91 mph with boring action on his fastball and has a nifty curveball. He's raw and though he was suspended by his junior college for what could be best termed as insubordination, the Cubs aren't worried about his makeup.

 Q:  Steve Nelson from Chicago, IL asks:
What is your opinion of Luis Montanez's projected future? He was such a heralded prospect when the Cub's signed him, however, he seems to becoming another Cub first round bust. Do you project him as an allstar in five years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't call him a bust at all. I think he has been promoted a little too aggressively. In each of his two full seasons, he started slow before recovering to finish strong. All-star? Maybe not. But he can become an offensive middle infielder in the majors. The Cubs continue to believe he'll stick at shortstop, while some observers think his range will force him to move.

 Q:  Shad from Frostburg St. University asks:
Hi, I was wondering your thoughts on Pedro Liriano? He was acquired from the mariners in the Rule 5 draft. What is his future in the organization? Have you heard whether or not he will start in AA this year? Everywhere he has gone he has shown good plate discipline, and great speed, with an impecible ability to hit for high average. Are his problems from last year, with his age identity over? Was it ever confirmed that he is still born in 82? Is he in line for the majors in '04? Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: Don't get too excited. Liriano's stats always have looked better than his tools. He's a slap hitter who's stiff defensively and not as fast as his steals totals would indicate. I don't think his age ever got confirmed and I'm not sure he can even get back into this country yet. He hasn't played above low Class A, so I don't see him at Wrigley in 2004.

 Q:  Matt FIsher from Fort Worth, Texas asks:
Mr. Callis, Many peopleseem to think that David Kelton is the purest hitter in the Cubs organization. However his throwing problems have been well documented during the last couple years. If he can't play third there doesn't seem to be much room for him in the majors, do people think that he can overcome his throwing problem. When healthy who does Nic Jackson compare to. Thank you
 A: 

Jim Callis: You're right on Kelton. Most people with the Cubs think he can overcome it, and as I said before, he needs to do so in 2003. A healthy Nic Jackson is similar to fellow Richmond Spider Brian Jordan.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
Jim, which draftee from 02' is the best player that most have not heard of? Knowing the Cubs it'll probably out of the Colonial Conf. (Matt Craig) but, I think that it will prob. be Adam Greenberg.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Twelfth-rounder Jason Wylie out of the University of Utah. He threw 90-91 during the spring, with scouts predicting he one day could reach 95 mph. Wylie did just that as a a reliever after signing, topping out at 94-95. He can make his fastball sink or bore in on righthanders. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup and showed better pitchability than expected.

 Q:  john smith from atlanta asks:
what about jemel spearman
 A: 

Jim Callis: Fast kid who can run and hit. He was old for the Arizona League at 21, so he'll have to prove something at higher levels.

 Q:  Phil Drinka from Chicago IL asks:
How high do you think the ceiling is for Brendan Harris? Another site has him listed as the 18th best prospect in the minors, yet he hasn't recieved much press at all as that kind of prospect. His 329395532 looks good for the FSL. When do you see him coming to Wrigley? (I don't even want to mention the 3rd base problems the Cubs have had.) Also, is there any chance at all that Jason Dubois (321422562 in the same league) can stick with Toronto all year? Any info you have on these two would be appreciated, and I do love these chats.
 A: 

Jim Callis: We've covered Harris. As for Dubois, I like his bat but don't see the Jays keeping him on their roster all year. I think it's more likely they offer the Cubs a trade to keep him.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
In regards to Felix Sanchez, how different is his situation in A-Ball compared to F. Beltran's while he was at the same level and is there a point in the near future, where they shift him to the pen, if he struggles with secondary pitches?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good analogy. The key for Sanchez is developing a usable breaking ball. He has struggled to do so, so he could move to the pen in the future if he can't. The current plan is to give him innings as a Class A starter this year. With their pitching depth, if he doesn't make progress I could see him going to the bullpen in 2004.

 Q:  Joe Kittle from Chicago, IL asks:
What do you think of righty Jae Kuk Ryu? He wasn't in the top ten and wasn't even mentioned in the best of the rest section. Where does he rank in the cubs top 30 prospects. he seems to have very good stuff aws a teenager and has command of four above averaage offerings. He is still just a teenager and has posted very good numbers in the past two seasons. Why wasn't he uncluded on the list. What are his weaknesses?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Ryu a lot and he'd make most Top 10s, but the Cubs were too deep. He's No. 11. In the "Best of the Rest" section I focused on players acquired in 2002, so that's why he wasn't mentioned. His fastball and curveball give him two plus pitches right now and he's young. He needs better command and consistency with all his stuff.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
To my knowledge, I cannot remember a team having 15 projectible starting pitchers like the Cubs have from Lansing to West Tenn (with a couple prob. head to the pen), to put it in perspective, how is the Cubs' pitching depth?
 A: 

Jim Callis: You've hit the nail on the head. I don't know how they're going to find enough rotation slots for everyone. I don't imagine anyone rivals the Cubs' pitching depth in Class A and Double-A this year.

 Q:  Heath Hunt from Mulberry, FL asks:
What is the outlook for former 1st rounder Ben Christiensen?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Coming back from Tommy John surgery after having shoulder surgery, so it's hard to project what his stuff will look like when he returns to the mound.

 Q:  Phil Drinka from Chicago IL asks:
How deep does the farm system go as far as actual major league prospects? I have heard 60 or so, but that seems impossibly high. Also, where would their 30th best prospect rate on one of the weaker minor league systems such as the Cardinals?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I know I seriously looked at 45 guys for the Top 30, while with other organizations I was trying to scramble to find 30 names. Sixty doesn't seem an unreasonable number to me. No. 30 was Jon Leicester, a high-ceilinghigh-risk guy, so he's not the best guy to use as a comparison. No. 29 was Russ Rohlicek, who could have been a No. 20 guy on some bad organizations.

 Q:  Jason from Chicago asks:
Thanks for the chat, Do the Cubs have any hope of a catcher who can hit in the pipeline and also will David Kelton be ready this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Catcher is the weak spot in the system. The Cubs hoped Jeff Goldbach would develop, and he hasn't. Kelton's play at third base will determine when he gets his shot. He has been fairly consistent with his bat.

 Q:  Angelus from L.A. asks:
A lot of us were surprised to see Angel Guzman ranked as high as he was, given the strength of the Cubs' system and the mixed reports on his velocity. What's his ceiling - is he a potential #1 or #2 starter down the road? How quickly do you expect him to contend for a rotation slot in Chicago?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Angelus, I hope you get your soul back. At times, Guzman shows three pitches (explosive sinker, changeup, curveball) that grade as 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. If he can maintain that kind of curveball, after it improved in high Class A last year, he'll be a No. 1 starter type. And he'll rocket through the minors. I can see him contending for a rotation slot by the end of 2004.

 Q:  Dan from San Francisco asks:
Who do you see the Cubs targeting with the #6 pick this June? By all accounts this is one of the deepest drafts in memory, and it seems to me that they almost have to target a position player this time around. Is there any chance Young or Milledge might still be around, based on signability or other issues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: As said earlier, best player available, even if it's a pitcher. I doubt Delmon Young will be available but Lastings Milledge very well may be because of signability and makeup concerns.

 Q:  Dave P from Pittsburgh asks:
Why does Dave Kelton keep making these lists, especially when Jackson Melian and Luis Montanez (amongst others) seem to be at least as promising as Kelton? Kelton may be projectable into a Drew Henson-type, but it is unclear that he has any other credentials entitling him to continued inclusion on these lists. Is there really something promising with Kelton, or is the reality that the Cubs' system is not quite as deep as many have suggested it is? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Kelton has hit far more consistently than Melian or Montanez. He hit well in high Class A at age 20 and in Double-A at 21-22. I'm not sure what you're looking at. To me, Melian is more of a platoon guy and Montanez has to show he can play the middle infield, let alone hit on Kelton's level. Kelton's bat is very promising, though he may be doomed if he can't find a position.

 Q:  bottman from oak brook, il asks:
with the cubbies drafting primarily pitching in the early rounds of the last few drafts, how strong are the position player prospects within the organization? what are some names i should be on the lookout for? thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: They've got a lot of good position players, too. Hee Seop Choi, Felix Pie, Nic Jackson, Brendan Harris and David Kelton all made the Top 10. Beyond that, look at Luis Montanez, Alfredo Francisco, Brian Dopirak, Brandon Sing and J.J. Johnson, among others. The Cubs aren't as deep in hitters as they are in pitchers, but their better hitting prospects stack up well against their better pitching prospects.

 Q:  Emilio Martinez Jr. from Indianapolis, IN asks:
How good can Hill and Patterson be?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Very good. I think Bobby Hill will be the Cubs' leadoff man for a while. Corey Patterson needs some tough love. It has been obvious that he needs to improve his plate discipline and performance against lefthanders for years, but the Cubs have promoted him and kept him in the majors rather than force him to improve. I'd tell him in spring training, "Corey, if you don't make these specific changes and start drawing a lot more walks (say 10 percent of his AB), you're going to Triple-A until you do." Also letting him know whether he's expected to be a tablesetter or run producer would help him.

 Q:  Ben Zazove from NYC asks:
What's your take on Alfredo Francisco? Where does he stack up against other prospects in the system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I ranked him 15th. He's so young and came straight to the U.S. after signing, so it's hard to hold his Arizona League performance against him. Very athletic, lots of tools, will need time to develop.

Moderator: We still have 106 questions remaining and Jim only has a short time remaining. Let the lightning round begin.

 Q:  Ismael E Rabassa from Isabela, PR asks:
Please, take a guess of what will be the Cubs major league rotation by 2005.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Matt Clement, Juan Cruz, Angel Guzman.

 Q:  jack from boston asks:
What happened to Ronny Cedeno last year? Is he still considered a legit prospect after slumping? He was rated highly when he was in the rookie league? Also, are there any international signs this year to watch out for by the cubs that will appear the low minors?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Legitimate prospect, probably rushed too fast, still has a future. I don't have any international names for you, sorry.

 Q:  Mario from CT asks:
Hi Jim, Let's just cut to the chase and talk about Mark Prior. Will he end up abused like Kerry Wood was early on, or are his mechanics and new Cub management enough to keep him healthy and on the road to stardom? What kind of season do you see him having this year, barring any health problems? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I still think Jim Riggleman did a decent job of juggling trying to preserve Wood while chasing a wild-card spot. Prior's mechanics and work ethic are so far ahead of Wood's, I don't see him getting hurt. I could see Prior winning 15 games and striking out 250 batters this year. Not a lightning-round brief answer, but hey, it's Mark Prior.

 Q:  James from The Great Southwest asks:
Jim, What kind of career do you predict for Bobby Hill, Hee Seop Choi, and Brendan Harris? Everyday player, All Star Player, Superstar player. Thanks again for the chat sessions.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I could see all three becoming all-stars.

 Q:  Ismael E Rabassa from Isabela, PR asks:
Do you think a Corey Patterson for Hank Blalock trade will be good for Chicago with Nic Jackson almost ready for the bigs?? or could be better yet to wait if Brendan Harris or David Kelton reach their prospect expectations?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Rangers wouldn't do that, and I'm not sure Jackson isn't more of a RF than a CF.

 Q:  Jebadiah Bebee from Atomic City, Idaho asks:
I got to see Matt Craig play this season in Boise...He sure can knock the cover off the ball when he hits it...Where do you see him in the Cubs prospect list...He can hit for power from both sides of the plate and was termendous down at Richmond...Does he have a shot at the Bigs or will his W & M rival force him to change positins to have a shot at Wrigley? any time frame for a push to double A or tripple A...because I have been trying to get out of Idaho my whole life...
 A: 

Jim Callis: Craig hit .193 in short-season ball, so I'd say he's three years away from Double-A at this point, and it's too early to consider him one of the Cubs' top prospects.

 Q:  Geoff from Chicago asks:
The Cubs have stockpiled a ton of minor league pitching talent. What are the chances of packaging some of this talent to pick up a solid third base prospect such as Hank Blalock?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It seems every team's fans want their club to trade for Blalock, but the Rangers won't just give him away. It would probably take something like Juan Cruz and Angel Guzman, which I don't see the Cubs doing anyway.

 Q:  steve from chicago asks:
After a bad year, how would you evaluate J.J. Johnson? Is he still a legit prospect? Was he close to making the Top 10?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He had a hand injury, similar to what plagued Nic Jackson in 2000 and Hee Seop Choi in 2001. Not close to the Top 10, but could rebound next year if healthy.

 Q:  Ryan Baker from Cleveland, OH asks:
I know it's very early for Sisco and Haggerty, but just how quickly can these guys get to the bigs? The right handers in the rotation in Chicago are very good, and given good health, should be together for a while, but a lefty would be nice, and I'm not talking about Dusty's lucky charm Shawn Estes who will be serving up BP every 5th day in Wrigley.
 A: 

Jim Callis: If they can refine their secondary pitches both Andy Sisco and Luke Hagerty will move quickly.

 Q:  mike from aurora asks:
How come Ricky Nolasco doesn't get any props in the Cubs system? His stats this past year were very solid? What do the scouts see that he is lacking?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He gets lost in the shuffle of Cubs pitching depth more than anything. Nolasco has a strong arm, but throws over the top and doesn't have a lot of life on his fastball.

 Q:  Tom from Chicago asks:
What ever happened to Mike Meyers? He had a couple of good seasons and then one great season and then fell off the charts.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Stuff was always marginal to begin with, then he got hurt.

 Q:  Mike from Work asks:
Love the chats. Will the cubs ever be able to develop a catching prospect? Also, will they regret letting Adam Morrisey go like they are currently regretting the Eric Hinske trade?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs haven't had much luck with catchers. I think they're quite happy with Mark Bellhorn. There are defensive questions and other questions with Morrissey, who's upside is probably what Bellhorn did in 2002.

 Q:  Jordan White from Carpenters Corner, TX. asks:
Hello Jim! How old do you think Sosa really is? Also, where do you project the Cubs to finish up this year in the divison. Thanks for your time!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good question on Sammy, as I'm sure the age fabrications are just as prevalent in the majors as they have been in the minors. Third place for the Cubs in 2003.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
If there was one obvious weakness in the system, would you agree that it would be the catchers, even with Hood possibily switching there?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Definitely catchers, and I have heard that they may give Donnie Hood a look there.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
Although, it's early in his career, what type of projection does Kevin Collins (Batman) have as far as ML starter or fringereserve?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Collins was old for the Northwest League last year at 21, so it's early to get excited about him. Good power, though.

 Q:  Andrew from Yakima, Washington asks:
We know that Andy Sisco has a very high ceiling, but what does your gut tell you about how likely he is to reach his ceiling? Also, most reports I have seen project his ETA as 2006 or 2007. This seems very conservative for a pitcher of his caliber. Assuming he has a productive 2003, couldn't we see him get to AA this year, get promoted to the big club by the end of 2004, and be a part of the rotation for good by 2005? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mid- or late 2005, sure.

 Q:  Paul from Boston asks:
I was surprised to see that Baseball Prospectus ranks Brendan Harris the #18 prospect in baseball. You guys don't seem quite so enthusiastic, and I'm wondering why.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm a huge Brendan Harris fan, as mentioned earlier, but 18 is too high for my blood. I put him 77th on my list when I was doing my Top 150 for our overall Top 100 chart. Comparing him to Albert Pujols, I just don't see that.

 Q:  Eric Martell from Tacoma, WA asks:
I'm encouraged by the success of some of the prospects of late (I think Bobby Hill, for example, had a very good return from the minors last year and will have a very fine 2003), but I'm curious whether or not Dave Kelton (or any other 3B prospect) will be able to play in Wrigley with any success by, say, 2005 or so?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes . . . Brendan Harris at 3B by 2005.

 Q:  Sean from Miami, FL. asks:
Do you believe Dusty Baker will allow Choi and Hill the time to develop this season or will he be quick to pull the trigger and go with the veterans--Karros and Grudz?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It depends on how the Cubs are playing. If they're contending and those guys start slow, I could see Baker going to the veterans. But I think Hee Seop Choi and Bobby Hill will do just fine.

 Q:  Sean from Calistoga asks:
What are your expectations for Carlos Zambrano this year and in the years to come?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Long term, I see him as more of a reliever than as a starter.

 Q:  Ty from Los Angeles asks:
Did Steve Smyth's troubles in his late season call-up diminish his future opportunity with the Cubs, or does the front office still view him as an important part of the bullpen in the very near future? Thanks for the great work.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's still well-regarded, just got tired coming back from shoulder surgery.

 Q:  Dave Y. from Tucson, AZ asks:
I noticed the projected rotation and closer didn't include Carlos Zambrano or Juan Cruz. Assuming your projections are correct and Cruz and Zambrano are relegated to the pen, will the Cubs have the best staff in the majors? One of the best staffs in a long time?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think both of those are good possibilities considering what they have in the majors and coming up through their system. Bobby Brownlie and Luke Hagerty didn't even make my projected 2006 rotation in the issue.

 Q:  Ray Sendejas from St Louis asks:
Would drafting Landon Powell with the sixth pick in the 2003 draft be too big a reach? He's got to be better than any of the catchers currently in the Cubs' system.
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's a bit of a reach for me, though he would be their top catcher.

 Q:  Jeremy Irving from Northwest Indiana asks:
How does Scott Chiasson fit into the Cubs future plans? I know that he was injured but we did trade Eric Hinske to get Chiasson so i'm wondering if he has the potential to be a decent pitcher someday.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has to come back from Tommy John surgery, and a lot of guys have been able to do that. Before he got hurt, he looked like the Cubs' possible closer of the future.

 Q:  joe from michigan asks:
Jim what up? Everybody talked about it but considering you got the inside track on prospects what are your feelings..... Is there a real cause for concern with Choi on the inside fastballs or will he become the major league star he was originally projected at?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's a weakness right now, but he should be able to adjust. It's not a long-term concern, and many hitters struggle with good inside fastballs.

 Q:  John Crichton from The Wormhole asks:
Hi Jim. Does anyone in the organization think Matt Bruback or Sergio Mitre are serious prospects? Bruback, especially, seems to be lost in a flood of flashier arms but he had a terrific 2002, and by all reports has above-average stuff. Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: They're both serious prospects, and the Cubs know that.

 Q:  Frank Redding from Louisville asks:
Where do you think Todd Wellemeyer is falling into the Cubs plans over the course of the next few years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Middle reliever or trade bait.

 Q:  Keith D. Hess from Berwick, PA asks:
With the addition of Eric Karros, do U see the Cubs moving Choi to the outfield or platooning at 1B?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Nope. Karros was just a means to dump Todd Hundley's contract, and Choi will be the Cubs' first baseman for a while.

 Q:  Jeff from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Hi Jim, Outside of Bobby Hill, do the Cubs have a leadoff hitter who has with potenital for a high OBP and steals? Also, do the Cubs have any talent at the catcher position?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hill is their best shot. Felix Pie and Adam Greenberg are two other possibilities. Jeff Goldbach is the best catcher in the system, and he's marginal at this point.

 Q:  john from Atlanta asks:
Jim do think Jemel Spearman have a chance to be a blue-chip prospect
 A: 

Jim Callis: No, I think that's too high an expectation for him. He's decent.

 Q:  JT from Jackson, TN asks:
The Cubs haven't signed anyone out of Korea in quite a while now. They lost their Pacific Rim coordinator Leon Lee to a Japanese team. How is Lee's loss affecting their presence in Korea? Are the Cubs on the verge of signing anyone in Korea?
 A: 

Jim Callis: As I understand it, Jim Hendry developed some relationships in Korea thanks to Lee, who could still help the Cubs' cause. I'm not sure of any imminent signings.

 Q:  JT from Jackson, TN asks:
Jason Dubois = Eric Hinske???
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's too optimistic. I like Dubois' bat, but he has defensive questions and isn't as advanced as Hinske was at the same stage.

 Q:  Vick from Hinsdale, IL asks:
Jim, Matt Bruback has quietly put up some very solid numbers as a professional. Where does he rank in the top 30 and why?
 A: 

Jim Callis: No. 18. Solid stuff but not as much fastball as he showed in junior college.

 Q:  Joe Johnson from Riverside Ca. asks:
How do you rate to local Riverside players Jason Fransz and Antowine Cameron. I am not sure if they are huge prospects in the Cub organization but they always seem to put up good numbers everywhere they are?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Guys to keep an eye on, they do put up solid numbers, couldn't make a crowded Cubs Top 30 this year.

 Q:  Eric B from philly asks:
Hey Jim, do you consider Brian Dopirak a future All-star, good player or bench warmer ? I've heard different opinions on him and I was wondering what your is ? Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: Scouts said he'll either hit 40 homers a year or flame out in Double-A, and it's too early to know exactly which way he'll go. He has the ceiling to be an all-star.

 Q:  Mike Hoekstra from Chicagoland asks:
Would you have gone and got Shawn Estes when you are deep starting pitching wise ? I mean who cares about the lefty if you allow Juan Cruz to start AND Carlos Zambrano. Do you think they have rushed Cruz thus far ? Can Cruz anything more than a 6 inning guy ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Maybe not, but I think they wanted a veteran in hopes of contending. I can see Cruz being more than a six-inning guy, and he could have used some Triple-A time last year.

 Q:  Mike Hoekstra from DHCFC asks:
Ryan Thierot , where does he project?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Theriot is a slick SS who needs to show he can hit enough to reach the majors.

 Q:  Mike Hoekstra from DHCFC asks:
Besides Beltran , which relievers in the Cubs system have a bright future ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Guys to keep an eye on include Jared Blasdell, Jeff Verplancke (if healthy), Jason Wylie (unless they find a way to move him to the rotation) and maybe guys like Eric Brown and Steve Ellis. In time, the Cubs will have to move several current starters to the bullpen or trade them because there won't be enough room in Chicago.

 Q:  JT from Jackson, TN asks:
How high are the Cubs on catcher picks Alan Rick (4th) and Chris Miller (11th)? Both had some uneven results on short season.
 A: 

Jim Callis: They're not writing them off by any means, but it's too early to say they'll solve the catching problem.

 Q:  Schroeder from Behind the plate asks:
Confidence in Felix Pie's reported age? Also, Melian had an interesting but strange year. Low average, high walks, 1 hr per 30 ab for Huntsville; high average, low walks, 1 hr per 60 ab for West Tennessee. Who is this guy really?
 A: 

Jim Callis: As confident as we can be about anyone's age. To me, Melian is a platoon guy in the majors.

 Q:  Vick from Hinsdale, IL asks:
Jim, think Loewen would fall to 6 if he shuns the Orioles?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Decent chance, because this year's draft is deeper and there would be signability concerns. I think Baltimore will sign him, though.

 Q:  DL HUYCK from PROSPERITY, SOUTH CAROLINA asks:
JIM,PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE THREE OUTFIELDERS THE CUBS DRAFTED FAIRLY HIGH LAST YEAR. (FRANSZ, GREENBERG, AND WALKER) WHICH OF THE THREE HAS THE MOST POWER POTENTIAL?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Jason Fransz, though it's more solid power than exceptional power. Adam Greenberg and Chris Walker are much more runners than sluggers.

 Q:  Rick from St. Louis asks:
Does Nick Jackson have a chance appear in Wrigley this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd say no, unless as a September callup.

 Q:  Dave Barney from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
How high is the ceiling for Dopirak? Will he surpass Choi?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Huge ceiling as mentioned earlier, but Choi has big-time power and is a much better hitter.

 Q:  JT from Jackson, TN asks:
Do you think the Cubs view Bellhorn as a possible long term solution at third?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They should at least give him the chance to show he's not.

 Q:  Brett from Rockford asks:
Where do you see Francis Beltran this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Spending most of the year in Triple-A.

 Q:  scott from springfield, Illinois asks:
If you were making a list of White Sox-Cubs prospects combined, how would the top 5 shake out?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hee Seop Choi, Joe Borchard, Angel Guzman, Andy Sisco, Felix Pie. Four Cubs.

 Q:  Tom from So Cal asks:
Many people in SoCal are comparing Jared Hughes to Mark Prior, only bigger and stronger at this stage. Do you think the Cubbies might take another power RHP this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't compare any HS kid to Mark Prior. The Cubs will take the top guy available when they pick sixth, regardless of position.

 Q:  Matthias Peters-Kroll from Franklin and Marshall Colllege asks:
do the braves or cubs have the best set of minor league arms in all of baseball?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Cubs.

 Q:  mike halifax from chicago, IL asks:
Whom would you take both this year and long term: wood and prior or beckett and burnett? thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Prior and Wood. And I'd take Prior over Wood.

Moderator: That's it for today. Thanks for the impressive turnout. Jim is going to pull a Josh Boyd and do his post-chat wind-down at Pick Up Stix.

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