Chicago Cubs: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

Cubs Top 10 Prospects Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

Moderator: Jim Callis will chat about the Cubs farm system at 1:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Gary Lawson from Connersville, Indiana asks:
What type of Major Leaguers can we possibly project from Brian Dopirak and Ryan Harvey?? I'm BIG fans of both. THANKS...
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hello, everyone. Lots of Cubs questions already piled up . . . You can possibly project almost anything for Dopirak and Harvey. They both have huge power but both have huge question marks about their ability to make consistent contact. Dopirak has been hurt and hasn't hit for two years, while Harvey came on in the second half of 2006. So I give Harvey the edge, but I'm not real confident either will become a big league regular.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
I see Sean Marshall didn't make your Cubs' future rotation. What's your outlook on him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Sean Marshall and think he'll have a decent to solid big league career. There just wasn't room after I put Zambrano, Prior, Veal, Lilly and Gallagher on there. I actually screwed up and left Rich Hill off the rotation--he should have been on there.

 Q:  Paul Gallagher from Ft Lauderdale asks:
Mr Callis has your evaluationthoughts on Sean Gallagher changed any over the past two years?? I can remember reading posts on this subject and BA never gave him a kind word!! This kid has busted his butt to get to where he is at and has used these negative comments as motivation. My question is "Do you think that Sean could pull a "Sean Marshall" this year in Spring Training and also would you think that if he has a good ST the Cubs start him at AAA. Thank for your time...
 A: 

Jim Callis: I assume this is Sean's dad . . . It's a joke to say we never gave him a kind word, as he ranked on our Midwest League and Cubs prospects list and we said plenty of nice things about him. After 2005, there was some concern that Sean didn't have much projection remaining and that his stuff wasn't likely to get much better, so we didn't run him way up our prospect lists. But in 2006, after he put in a lot off hard work in the offseason, his stuff jumped a notch. Hats off to Sean. The Cubs don't have any rotation openings this year, so I don't think Gallagher will open the year in Chicago. I think he'll spend at least another month or so in Double-A to start 2007.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
Hi Jim. Big fan, love your weekly chat on ESPN.com. With Soriano now projected to play CF this year, how does Pie profile defensively in RF? Also, shouldn't the Cubs move Soriano to RF with Pie almost ready to take over CF?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Thanks, Dan. Pie could handle RF easily, as he has CF range and plenty of arm strength. In the long term, I do think you'll see Soriano in RF and Pie in CF.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
Jim, How close are #1 and 2? What is Veal's ETA in the majors? Will he make it this year if Prior and Wood go down to injuries again?
 A: 

Jim Callis: As close as could be. In my personal Top 50 Prospects list that's in the Prospect Handbook, I had Pie at 42 and Veal at 43. You could argue them either way, and the Cubs think Jeff Samardzija has a bigger upside than either of them. Veal could pitch in the big leagues late in the year, though the Cubs have more rotation options than they did a year ago.

 Q:  Brett from Illinois asks:
What are the chances Lincoln Holdzkom does not stick with the Astros and the cubs get him back and do you see a future in the big leagues for him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The easiest role for a Rule 5 pick to stick in is as a reliever, so Holdzkom could make the Astros. I'm not a huge fan. He has a strong arm, but he has been hurt in the past, has inconsistent command and his makeup is pretty shaky.

 Q:  Jeff from No.California asks:
Has Smardzjia shown enough to be considered a sure fire prospect or are people banking on his athletic ability to elevate him down the road? Also, why would the Cubs give someone like Jason Marquis a 3 year deal when they have a few arms that seem ready to contribute by next year (Veal, Gallagher, Smardzjia). Which of the 3 will contribute first and most?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's mostly projection at this point with Samardzija. The Cubs believe that now that he's focusing full-time on baseball, he'll pitch consistently with a mid- to upper-90s fastball and a plus slider. The Marquis deal makes little sense to me. Gallagher will probably get to the big leagues first, and Veal is the safest bet to contribute the most.

 Q:  Justin Riddick from Nashville, Tennessee asks:
Russ Canzler actually put up better numbers than Colvin at Boise this past year at a younger age. Too bad the Prospect Handbook has him on the 1B depth chart instead of 3B, though. Does this mean he's not likely to make it at third, and also what are his prospects going forward?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's exactly what it means. The depth chart lists a player at the position he's likely to wind up at in the future. If Canzler had a better chance to stick at third, he would have made the Top 30. As a projected first baseman, he just missed.

 Q:  Chip from Richmond, VA asks:
Does it make your stomach turn like it does mind to see pics of guys like Samardzija or any other player with their hats cocked to the side? There is a way the hat is supposed to be worn....do these guys realize they're not "being original" or "showing their personal style" any more? It just looks ridiculous. Sorry, I just had to blow off a little steam. Have a good day!
 A: 

Jim Callis: It didn't turn my stomach, but I laughed when I saw that mug shot. His cap does look ridiculous.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
Jim, is Matt Camp on the radar screen? He didn't hit for much power, but he controlled the strike zone well at Boise.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He is. He won't ever be a slugger, but he's a sparkplug who made a good first impression on the Cubs.

 Q:  Rex from Miami asks:
Since I failed as a NFL QB, what are my chances of making it as a Cubs prospect? Sincerely, Rex Grossman
 A: 

Jim Callis: Lots of bitter Bears fans up here. Rex played poorly, but I didn't like the offensive or defensive gameplans either. Rex has a better future in the NFL, though I don't like him as a longterm starter. Just too inconsistent and I don't think he reads defenses well enough.

 Q:  Joe from Dallas asks:
Has the sun set for Luis Montanez?
 A: 

Jim Callis: In Chicago, definitely. The Orioles claimed him on waivers. He might get a cup of coffee, but that will be about it.

 Q:  Ben from Chicago asks:
What kept O'Malley off the Top 30 this year, and when is the earliest he could make his return to the Show? Also, how would you rate his arsenal, and did we see his best last year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Despite his sterling big league debut, O'Malley's stuff is marginal by major league standards. I don't think he'll have a long big league career, though as a lefty with good command, maybe he'll prove me wrong.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
The OF picture seems to be pretty crowded except for LF, according to your depth chart. Is this spot reserved for Soriano, or is he projected to play CF, and if so, who's more likely to take LF in the coming years - Pie or Colvin?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The depth chart is only minor leaguers, and most of the Cubs' best outfield prospects have the range for CF or the arms for RF--you can always move these guys to LF down the road. Long term, I see Soriano in LF, Pie in CF and Colvin in RF.

 Q:  Mike from Toronto asks:
Are Chadd Blasko and Luke Hagerty still with the organization and what is their status?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, though neither has been the same since getting hurt. If they recapture their past prospect status, it would be a bonus. But that's unlikely at this point.

 Q:  Brett from Illinois asks:
What is the ceiling of Mark Pawelek? Do the view him different than when they drafted him because of the way he showed up to camp last year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Pawelek still has a high ceiling. If everything went right, he could be a No. 2 starter. The Cubs think he learned a lesson after showing up unprepared for his first spring training, and they think he'll be in better shape and have better stuff in 2007. They're not down on him.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Hey there Jim, good to see you back at the helm. I noticed Ryan Norwood missed the Top 30 this year. What does he need to improve upon, and do you see him as a legitimate power threat? Seems as though the first base job is slim pickings after Lee.
 A: 

Jim Callis: First base is slim pickings after Derrek Lee, but the position is in good hands if he stays healthy. Power is the key for Norwood. He was old for the Midwest League last year at age 23, and 43 extra-base hits from an older first baseman isn't an exciting total. He'll have to hit for more pop to make the majors.

 Q:  Ben from Chicago asks:
Timetable for Patterson to take over at 2B fulltime?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mark DeRosa will have the job this year, but Patterson could press him in 2008.

 Q:  Joe from Dallas asks:
How do you see Colvin as a future hitter? Do you expect him to maintain the powerspeed threat as he gets bigger, or do you think he's likely to slow down? Do you ever see him being a 30 HR threat? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Colvin is a good athlete and he's more projectable than most college draftees, as he didn't turn 21 until September. He could become a 30-homer guy, but a safer bet is that he'll become a 20-homer, 15-steal guy.

 Q:  Justin Riddick from Nashville, Tennessee asks:
I was a little surprised that Jose Ceda didn't crack the Top 30 in the Prospects Handbook, with his reported high 90's fastball and all. What are the things he is going to have to work on to establish himself on the Cubs prospect radar next year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Ceda throws very hard, but he does little else with consistency right now. Better secondary pitches and command are his goals for 2007. He was in the running but I ultimately left him off because he's so raw and was just in Rookie ball last year.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Is it safe for me to delete any or all of the following players from my prospect watch list? I.e. Are there any players listed here that have zero shot at the bigs? Thanks much for the chat. Billy Petrick David Cash Luke Hagerty Micah Hoffpauir Grant Johnson Richard Lewis Carlos Mejia Rene Reyes Aaron Weston
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say "zero shot," because who saw Ryan O'Malley coming up last year? But there's little hope for all of those guys except Petrick, who's coming back slowly from labrum surgery.

 Q:  Ryan from Chicago asks:
Can you compare some Cubs vs. White Sox prospects for those dellusional Sox fans? Pie vs. Sweeney? Veal vs. Danks? Szmardija vs. Floyd? Colvin vs. Fields?
 A: 

Jim Callis: In those head-to-head matchups, I'd take Pie over Sweeney (close), Veal over Danks (close but not quite as close), Samardzija over Floyd and Fields over Colvin.

 Q:  Ryan from Chicago asks:
Where will the Cubs focus be with the 3rd pick this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Best available player. When you're picking that high, you can't focus on a particular position or need.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Midwest asks:
Tell us more about Miguel Cuevas and what he could bring to the table, being the system's "biggest sleeper".
 A: 

Jim Callis: Big guy who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. Somewhat of a project, but with a ton of upside. Not a bad 36th-round pick at all.

 Q:  Bob from Bentonville, AR asks:
Marshall, Marmol, and Guzman are no longer eligible for this list but what do you think of these three pitchers? In your opinion, was signing an iffy-proposition like Jason Marquis better than allowing one of these three to compete for the job?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Marshall would have been in the 8-10 range, Guzman would have been in about the same area (though I have no idea how to rank him any longer) and Marmol would have been in the 11-15 group. I would not have signed Marquis.

 Q:  Michael from Cleveland asks:
Does Scott Moore have a future in the big leagues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes. He can be a decent regular, though I'm not sold he's a starter on a contender. He won't start at third for the Cubs now that Aramis Ramirez has been re-signed, so Moore will have to settle for spot duty on the infield and outfield corners.

 Q:  Bruce from Asia asks:
BA's statistics on chances of reaching the majors by draft round make clear the importance of premium picks. The cubs have an abysmal record with their recent first rounders: 2005: Mark Pawelek: Already fallen to #10 in a weak system, with a diminished ceiling and poor habits 2004: Grant Johnson: Hasn't shown anything 2003: Ryan Harvey: Enigmatic at best 2002: Bobby Brownlie: See Grant Johnson 2001: Mark Prior: An exception (but it would be nice to have Tex) 2000: Luis Montanez: Gone without making a mark in the majors 1999: Ben Christensen: Gone without making a mark in the majors Have the problems been in draft philosophy, scouting, development, something else, or some combination of the above? Do we have reason for hope under the new regime? (Please don't repeat the "Wilken has a great track record" mantra - what has he actually changed?) Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: It tells you a lot about the nature of the draft that those picks all were sound at the time. Christensen would have gone higher in 1999 if he hadn't been suspended, had success in the minors and then got hurt. Montanez was a deserving No. 3 overall pick in 2000 but it turned out he wasn't a good shortstop--the Cubs weren't the only team that didn't see that happening. Prior was supposed to have injury-proof mechanics--wrong. Brownlie was the best college pitcher in his draft but his stuff never came back after he got biceps tendinitis. Harvey didn't figure to last until the Cubs picked sixth in 2003. Johnson was a gamble that hasn't paid off. Pawelek would have gone a little higher in the draft is he had been considered signable for straight slot money. So I don't think there was anything wrong with philosophy or scouting. They just haven't worked out. I will repeat the "Tim Wilken has a great track record" mantra because he has the best track record among scouting directors. So I'd have faith in him if I were a Cubs fan.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Jim: Let's say you're behind a counter in Vegas and I'm a gambling man. What kind of odds will you give me that Rich Hill finishes among NL leaders in strike outs in 2007?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think the odds are very good that he'll finish in the Top 10, and a Top 5 finish wouldn't surprise me. Can you actually bet on this in Vegas?

 Q:  Mr. Colvin from Flip-Flopping, U.S.A. asks:
Was Samarzdija's new contract the sole reason for him and Tyler Colvin swapping spots on your Top 10?
 A: 

Jim Callis: When the Prospect Handbook went to print, there was a very realistic possibility that Samardzija would leave baseball for football, so that had to be held against him. After the Cubs locked him up, I jumped him up a spot in the issue Top 10. The Cubs' internal belief is that Samardzija is their top prospect. Upside, yes. But I think it's safer to go with Pie at No. 1 and Veal at No. 2, and their upsides are nice as well.

 Q:  Eric D. from Atlanta, Ga asks:
What are your thoughts on Chris Walker? He was an all-star for the third straight year and stole a ton of bases. where's the love for this player?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He can really run, but he strikes out too much and doesn't have much power. This has never been a profile I've been a fan of.

 Q:  Ryan from Gary, Indiana asks:
In 2010 will Angel Guzman's right arm be attached? I thought there were good reports on his stuff from the Winter Leagues. I'd like to think a healthy Guzman is probably better than Sean Gallagher.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I have no faith in being able to project Guzman's health, hence my earlier comment. A healthy Guzman would be better than Gallagher, but banking on a healthy Guzman would be at best optimistic. Some might call it foolish.

 Q:  Jack from Chicago asks:
Where do you rank the cubs system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The BA consenus ranking was 18th out of the 30 clubs. Getting a sneak preview of our entire farm system rankings is a great reason to buy the Prospect Handbook.

 Q:  Virgil Dahl from Waterloo, Iowa asks:
Jim; thanks for taking my question. Without giving anyway your l00 ranking, would you please rank Pie, McCutchen, and Fernando Martinez. thank you...........Grossman ought to be strung up from the nearest tree!
 A: 

Jim Callis: On my personal Top 50 list in the Handbook, I had McCutchen 15th, Martinez 26th and Pie 42nd.

 Q:  Dale from KY asks:
So are we to take it that you think Colvin has bigger upside than Matt Murton? Personally, I think Murton can be a perenial .31020 - 25 HR.380 OBP guy. Is that out of line or is Colvin going to be even better than that?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, and I do like Murton. I think you might be a little high on the average and power, as I see Murton more as a .280-.290 guy with 18-20 HR. Colvin has more projectable power, more speed and can play RF for sure and possibly CF while Murton is limited to LF.

 Q:  JD from Modesto asks:
Do the cubs have ANY prospects that can control the strike zone or are we destined for all homer happy, low OBP prospects for the next 10 years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Strike-zone discipline is not a Cubs strong suit in the majors or minors. Sam Fuld is their best prospect in that regard, but he's more of an extra outfielder than a regular.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
I realize that these chats are predominately prospect-based, but did the Cubs forget that they had Matt Murton this offseason?
 A: 

Jim Callis: For a guy who hit .297.365.444 as a 24-year-old, he doesn't seem to be much in their plans, does he?

 Q:  Kenny from Upstate New York asks:
I never seem to get my questions ansewered so hopefully this one makes it through. you said you made a mistake leaving Rich Hill out of the rotation. What do you project for him this year and the future. Do you see him as a major stirke out pitcher for years to come or just a above average major leaguer?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hill finally turned the corner last summer. He's a lefty with two plus pitches, and if he continues to maintain his command, I think he'll be an above-average big leaguer who racks up a lot of strikeouts.

 Q:  Matt M from Wheaton asks:
Are Felix Pie to Adam Jones of Seattle as similar types of players as the seem to be? if so, who do you like better?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They are similar, but does it surprise you as much as it did me that Jones is six months younger? I like him a little better.

 Q:  Tony from Albuquerque asks:
You spoke a little on this during this weeks podcast, but what more can you tell us about the Cubs plans with Theriot? Talent wise what is his biggest obstacle preventing him from convincing the front office to use him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That wasn't me on the podcast--I was on vacation. I think he's a utility infielder at best. I don't really believe in Theriot's bat and think it would be exposed with regular playing time.

 Q:  Matt M from Wheaton asks:
Will Sam Fuld ever get his shot? there doesn't seem to be much not to like about this guy.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Well, he's already 25 and has yet to advance past high Class A. Fuld controls the strike zone, but he has below-average power and is just slightly above average at best as a center fielder and basestealer. That doesn't scream "Regular!" to me. I can see him being a good fourth outfielder, though.

 Q:  Dale from KY asks:
Do you actually think Samardzija will end up a closer? I have seen others project him with 2 plus, plus pitches which translates to a starter if he even has a decent 3rd pitch. Hate to waste a big strong guy like that on 70 innings a year.
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs see him as a starter. Too early for me to relegate him to the bullpen. From a competitive standpoint, he'd be the type of guy who would relish finishing games. But if he reaches his potential, you'd want to get more innings out of him as a starter.

 Q:  Bob Shcweda from Highland Park, IL asks:
Jim, How do you rate Jake Fox as a catching prospect? Is it his offense or defense that caused you to leave him off the top ten list? Thanks Bob
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mostly defense. He's not good behind the plate and at this point I have a hard time seeing him being a regular catcher in the majors. He's already 24 and his offensive numbers dropped off once he reached Double-A, too.

 Q:  Dale from KY asks:
Any chance the Cubs bypass pitching with the 3rd pick if the big catcher is available, and how close will he be to the bigs? Will he compare to Mauer?
 A: 

Jim Callis: You're talking about Georgia Tech's Matt Wieters, and he'd be a legitimate No. 3 overall pick. Again, I don't think the Cubs would take him just because he's a catcher, though. Wieters is a couple of years away from the bigs. He has more power than Mauer, but Mauer is a better hitter and a significantly better defender behind the plate.

 Q:  Matt M from Wheaton asks:
Don't know much about Chris Huseby. What do you think of him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's similar to Samardzija in that he has a limited track record (because of injury in Huseby's case) but a huge upside. Always hard to rank those guys, and I'm very interested to see how he fares in 2007.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
Where would you rank Jake Fox, Chris Robinson, and Mark Reed among the catching prospects? Can any of them be starting catchers in the big leagues? Reed really had a tough second half where it seemed like he wore down. He's a good athlete but not a real big guy. Has there been any thought of moving him to 2b or CF?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I ranked Cubs catchers in this order: Reed, Geovany Soto, Robinson, Fox. I'm not sure any of those guys is a regular on a contender. The Cubs will keep Reed behind the plate for now, but he is athletic enough to handle other positions.

Moderator: That's it for today. Aaron Fitt will be around this afternoon to take your college questions, and Jim will be back Wednesday to discuss Astros prospects.