Boston Red Sox: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

Boston Red Sox: 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, 2008.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
If Epstein doesn't trade Lowrie, how soon could he be pushing for a starting SS job at Fenway?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That depends on how much slack they're going to give Julio Lugo, who is due another $30 million over the next three years. On many clubs, Lowrie would the Opening Day shortstop or get the chance to win that job in spring training. But Lugo's contract makes it more likely that Lowrie will open the year in Triple-A. He could hit enough to play second or third base, but he's blocked at those spots by Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell. I think he eventually does become a trade chip.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
Had Beltre not been traded to TX, would he have cracked the Top 10?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Interesting, hadn't thought about this . . . He probably would have just missed. He wasn't as impressive in the GCL as Oscar Tejeda (No. 9) was, and Josh Reddick (No. 10) had a strong season, too.

 Q:  Schwartz Cough from Midwest asks:
Did Ryan Dent come close to cracking your list, and what kept him off?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes and no. He's a legitimate Top 10 talent as one of the best athletes in the 2007 draft, but the Red Sox had too much depth for him to make a serious run at the Top 10. If you buy the Prospect Handbook, you'll find him in the 11-20 range.

 Q:  Aaron from Boston, MA asks:
Jim, you rated Lars Anderson best hitter for average over Jacoby Ellsbury? We all know you love Lars but please explain.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I do love Lars, and I think the Red Sox may love him more than I do. I talked to several sources, and the overwhelming majority believed Anderson is a better pure hitter than Ellsbury. Ellsbury was a close second, and obviously his speed is going to help him leg out a lot of hits. I can't wait to see what Anderson does this year in Lancaster.

 Q:  Pedro Alvarez from Home for Christmas asks:
If I had signed with the Sox, where would I rank on the top 10?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd assume that Alvarez wouldn't have made it to the majors yet, so probably No. 3 behind Buchholz and Ellsbury.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Is Boston officially out of the Santana sweepstakes?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Unlike their archrivals, the Red Sox don't feel the need to declare themselves in or out of negotiations. I still think the only team that could match the package the the Red Sox could and would put together is the Angels. I taped a radio segment for XM today (it will run tomorrow), and I broke down the percentages for Santana's 2008 Opening Day team like this: 30% Red Sox, 30% Angels, 20% Twins, 10% Yankees, 10% other.

 Q:  Mike from Lynchburg, VA asks:
Jim - love the chats. How far behind Votto would you say Lars Anderson's ceiling is? Or is it higher? How many homers can you see him hitting eventually in the big leagues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Votto has proven more, but I think Anderson has more upside as a hitter. I can see him hitting 30 homers in the majors once he's older, stronger and pulls the ball more than he does now.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Better prospect and arm overall - Buchholz or Joba? Which one ranks higher on your personal Top 50 list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Chamberlain has a better pure arm, but Buchholz has a deeper arsenal of plus pitches. In other words, Chamberlain can throw harder, but he can't match Buchholz' repertoire of plus fastball, plus-plus curveball, plus slider and plus-plus changeup. I had Buchholz at No. 2 and Chamberlain at No. 3 on my personal Top 50 list, with Jay Bruce at No. 1.

 Q:  Aaron from Boston, MA asks:
Jim, what is it about Rizzo that has the Red Sox excited? Is there a Lars comp in there somewhere? If so, why did he last as long as he did in the draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The comparison is that he excited the Red Sox in instructional league like Lars Anderson did the year before. Boston knew Rizzo had power, but his approach and his agility at first base were better than expected. He's just another example of a player who slid in the draft because he wanted more than MLB's slot guidelines.

 Q:  Ben from NH asks:
The Red Sox have drafted but not signed Matt LaPorta and Pedro Alvarez recently, I know you're really enthusiastic over Lars. What can you tell us that makes up for not having those two talents in the Sox system? If they were I'm assuming they would both be ranked higher but would they both be higher than Ellsbury?
 A: 

Jim Callis: On LaPorta, Scott Boras and Co. threw out what at the time was a ridiculously high price tag (they made a Jeff Clement comp, and Clement signed for $3.4 million—never mind that he was a catcher, too) considering the off year LaPorta had in 2006. So that wasn't ever going to happen. As for Alvarez, I think the Red Sox regret somewhat toeing the line for MLB rather than going out and grabbing a guy they really liked. That, and the decision the same year not to draft Justin Smoak for similar reasons, has colored their approach in the last two drafts, to be more aggressive about going over slot. I'd take Ellsbury over both right now because he has played very well at a higher level than those guys, and he plays a premium position.

 Q:  Brian from Boston asks:
I promise I'll buy the book if you give us 11-15!!!
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's all I will give away, at least in terms of specifics! 11) Brandon Moss; 12) Argenis Diaz; 13) Kris Johnson; 14) Will Middlebrooks; 15) Ryan Dent.

 Q:  James from Cincinnati, OH asks:
While the Red Sox do have a very good system, I can't see how they've a better farm than the Reds. Bruce, Bailey, Cueto, Votto, Stubbs... Sox can't match that kind of impact powers.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Buchholz and Ellsbury compare very favorably to Bruce and Bailey, if maybe a tick below. Anderson and Votto are comparable, and I'd take Anderson. I would take Cueto over Justin Masterson, but don't underrate Masterson. Stubbs has a long way to go as a hitter, and the big difference between the two systems is that Boston's depth is superior. The impact talent at the top is similar.

 Q:  Rory from Boca Raton, FL asks:
Craig Hansen... can he salvage his career? I've heard some good things (48 K in last 51 IP at Pawtucket, 8/1 K:BB at AFL). That bullpen becomes downright scary with an up to potential Hansen in the mix.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, he can. He was working with a 93-96 mph fastball down in the zone late in the year, and showed signs he was regaining that killer slider he had in college. If he gets that slider back, watch out.

 Q:  The Dale from Washington D.C. asks:
I always enjoy the chats. What is the projection for Andrew Dobies? He seemed to pitch better out of the bullpen this past year with better velocity. Does he profile as a big league reliever. Any chance he makes it with the sox or could get traded?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's more of a middle reliever, not a Top 30 guy with the Sox or that prime a piece of trade bait. The LHRP who is going to get the next chance with Boston is Hunter Jones.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
The team synopsis mentions the Sox as having done well in the FA market. Other than Tejeda, who are the Sox' FA players with the brightest futures? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Jim Callis: OF Engel Beltre (Dominican, since traded to the Rangers), SS Argenis Diaz (Venezuela), 3B Michael Almanzar (Dominican), OF Che-Hsuan Lin (Taiwan), SS Yamaico Navarro (Dominican), 2B Chih-Hsien Chiang (Taiwan).

 Q:  Jimmy from (Boston Ma) asks:
Which farmhand isn't getting talked about much that could bust on the scene like Reddick did?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Rizzo, though I guess we're talking about him this afternoon. From a pitching standpoint, they have some interesting 2007 draftees who are flying completely under the radar in Brock Huntzinger, Austin Bailey and Drake Britton.

 Q:  John Dark from Moline, IL asks:
What's the ceiling on Tejeda, and is there any reason to think he won't stay at shortstop? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: The ceiling, and I emphasize that he's not close to this yet, is Miguel Tejada. The Red Sox think Tejeda could develop a lot of power. He could outgrow shortstop, however.

 Q:  Tom from Austin, TX asks:
Better prospect: Engel Beltre or Oscar Tejeda? Also, did the Rangers have a choice between Beltre and Tejeda?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think it's a tossup, I'd give Tejeda the slightest of edges. I believe the Rangers specifically asked for Beltre, and as much as the Red Sox liked him, they didn't want to let a Rookie-ball prospect stand in the way of a trade they thought would really help their World Series chances (even if it didn't).

 Q:  Mr. X from New York City asks:
Where did you rank Zach Daeges after his monster 2007 season? Granted it was the CAL league and lancaster's blasting pad, he still had some insane numbers all season. What is his overall ceiling and what can we expect from him in 2008, assuming he is in AA given his age?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Daeges is a guy who could have made some Top 30 lists, but not Boston's. He can hit, the bat is legit though Lancaster did inflate his numbers. He'd have a better chance if he could play third base, but it looks like he's a left fielder at best. I would suspect he'll hit .280 with 20 HR in Double-A this year.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
Will any of our 06 first rounders make it, or is the jury out on all of them?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Kris Johnson the most of the four first- or supplemental first-rounders the best. His breaking ball should be better this year as he puts Tommy John surgery further behind him and he figured out how to survive Lancaster. As for the others . . . Jason Place is a tremendous athlete with major questions about his bat. Those guys always worry me. Daniel Bard, the Red Sox are close to just putting him in the bullpen and letting him throw mostly fastballs. I think that's his best role and don't see him making it as a starter. Caleb Clay had Tommy John surgery last year so he won't be back at full strength until 2009. Funny thing is, despite the lackluster first-rounders, that's still a very good draft with Lars Anderson (18th round), Justin Masterson (second), Ryan Kalish (ninth) and Josh Reddick (17th). And those are just the Top 10 guys. The 11-30 also features Johnson, Bard, Aaron Bates (third), Dustin Richardson (fifth), Place and Bryce Cox (third). There must be some Bryce Cox questions we'll get to this afternoon . . .

 Q:  Hank from New York, NY asks:
Is Lester, Crisp, Lowrie, Masteron too much for Santana? And who has the better offer on the table, the Sox or the Yanks offer that's rumored to be Hughes, Cabrera, Marquez, 4th prospect. Thanks for the chat.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think that's too much. From Boston's standpoint, you're upgrading Lester to Santana; replacing Crisp with Ellsbury; Lowrie has no place to play right now; and Masterson is a setup guy who could start or close elsewhere. That's better than the Yankees' offer, though I would take Hughes over any of the guys in the Boston package.

 Q:  samuel from haverhill, MA asks:
I saw lincoln Holdzkom pitch a lot in pawtucket and was very impressed. Will he be a loss to the red sox and what are his chances of making the phillies bull pen.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Classic million-dollar arm and 10-cent head. It all comes down to Holdzkom figuring out his command and taking baseball seriously, and he never has done either. He cost the Red Sox nothing and I don't think they're too worried about losing him. Sure, he could make the Phillies as a Rule 5 guy, but I think he's more a tease than anything.

 Q:  Bob from Crowley asks:
Who do you think is the best catching prospect in the Boston organization?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mark Wagner. Solid defense, solid bat with some pop.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
According to his 2005 Bowman Baseball Card, Reid Engel is a raw prospect with outstanding potential...an exceptional athlete...puts a charge into the ball...utilizies his great speed on the bases and in the outfield. Drafted in the 5th Round, could Reid Engel become a star with the Red Sox?
 A: 

Jim Callis: More of a speed guy than a power guy, but he does have some pop. I'll put it this way . . . he did sneak onto the Top 30.

 Q:  Oden from Motown asks:
Jim, Brandon Moss was ranked higher than Brandon Jones in the IL top 20. Jones is the #4 prospect for the Braves, Moss isn't listed on the Red Sox top 10. Who is the better prospect? Is the Sox system THAT deep?? What is Moss' future?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Braves have some depth, too. Please remember that one list doesn't necessarily dictate other lists. The Red Sox system is that deep, though. Moss is like Lowrie in that he's ready for a big league shot but Boston has no opening for him. I could see him becoming a .270 AVG, 20-HR right fielder if given the chance to play every day. That probably won't come with the Red Sox, though.

 Q:  Kevin from FL asks:
What are your thoughts on Josh Papelbon? The last name alone has to score him some points right? And some chicks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Josh has his brother's competitive edge but not nearly the same stuff. I wouldn't rule out that he'll fight his way to Boston, though.

 Q:  Bernie from Cambridge, Mass. asks:
Any chance division III (Trinity College) product Jeff Natale reaches the majors as a backup 2B ? His lifetime .438 ob% would indicate he's a perfect fit for the Red Sox even though he's only an average defender at best and was a late pick in 2005. You can't ignore an 88:36 BB:K ratio in the pitcher dominated Eastern League loaded with prospects like Joba, Kennedy, Horne, Jurrjens, Liz, etc.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Natale has a tremedous batting eye, and though he was a college hockey player, he's a brutal second baseman. Just brutal, and that kills his profile. He's now more of a first baseman, and his bat isn't good enough to carry him there.

 Q:  Skelly from Madison asks:
What are your thoughts on Adam Mills after his dominant collegiate season and outstanding performance in Lowell? Was he given any consideration for your top 30?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mills had a great college season and a strong debut, but he's much more about pitchability than stuff at this point. He'll have to succeed at higher levels before cracking the Top 30.

 Q:  Ben Cavallo from Mansfield, MA asks:
Is the Red Sox ranking (2nd) due in large part to Ellsbury and Buchholz or to overal depth? Or more specifically, how would their system rate from 3-25?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's a combination of blue-chip prospects and depth. After editing and writing the reports in the Prospect Handbook, to me it's clear that the Rays and Red Sox have the best depth in their farm systems among all 30 clubs. And they have a lot of blue-chip prospects to boot.

 Q:  Jay from Philly asks:
How does Boston 2nd ten rank with other teams top ten?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Along the same lines as my previous answer, I think Boston's 11-20 would be right there with Tampa Bay's as the best in the game.

 Q:  Bernie from Cambridge, Mass. asks:
I was surprised the the Sox weren't able to sign this years 2nd round pick Hunter Morris away from his committment to Auburn. Any knowledge as to what happened there ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Red Sox thought Morris agreed to a certain bonus, while Morris' side says that isn't the case. Negotiations broke down, and Boston decided to take the compensation pick for failing to sign Morris. The Sox still came away with a high school first baseman they really liked in Anthony Rizzo, and went over slot to sign guys like Rizzo, Will Middlebrooks, David Mailman, Austin Bailey and Drake Britton.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
Jim, love your work, thank you for taking the time today. Where is the love for Bowden? I realize he struggled at AA, but as one of the youngest kids in the league, and still refining his command of his change, can't that be expected? Profiling as a #3 starter and ranking #7 in a deep farm system isn't bad, but he was dominating hi-A in a big way, and if he can work things out with his change he would seem to have the stuff/aptitude of a good #2 starter, would he not?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Honestly, I'm one of the biggest Michael Bowden fans around. He performed very well for his age in Double-A and he was great at Lancaster. I like the fastball, the curveball, the makeup, the durabilty. I'm conservative with projecting pitchers, and I don't think he has the one plus-plus attribute where you could hang a No. 2 on him. But I see him as a No. 3 and the only reason he ranks as low as he does on the Top 10 is because of the depth.

 Q:  Jason from Virginia asks:
Over the past three years, who's had the best drafts as a unit? Would it be the Red Sox?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Haven't broken this down in great detail, but yes, I think it would be the Red Sox.

 Q:  Paul from San Francisco asks:
Is it true that Texas chose Gabbard over Bowden? Is that a slight to Bowden or did they just make a choice different than you would have?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That is true. Not a slight to Bowden. When they were trying to put the trade together, the Rangers scouted Bowden in Double-A and he was struggling. Gabbard was pitching very well in the majors, plus he's a lefty and (obviously) was big league-ready, which appealed to Texas. I think Boston sold high on Gabbard, and I'd rather have Bowden.

 Q:  Paul from San Francisco asks:
How did last year's #1 Boston prospect, Dice-K, perform relative to your expectations? Do you think he'll improve substantially in 2008? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I touted Matsuzaka as much as anyone. I thought he'd be better, but he did win 15 games and make 32 starts, along with striking out 201 in 205 innings, so that wasn't bad at all. The stuff was there, and I just think he needs to be more aggressive. Wouldn't be surprised at all if he improved significantly in his second season in Boston, much like Josh Beckett did. In fact, I think he will pull that off.

 Q:  Eric from Elk Grove asks:
Is Kalish freqently compared to JD Drew because of his sweet lefty swing, susceptibility to freak injuries, talent for inspiring extreme hatred from fans, and/or knack for failing in the clutch until the playoffs? I'm hoping that it's mostly the first one, but can't help but worry about this comparison. Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: The first one, plus his athleticism. That comparison was meant as a compliment to Kalish's tools, not an indictment on his makeup.

 Q:  Justin from Boston asks:
How good do you think Middlebrooks can be?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Will Middlebrooks a lot. He has yet to make his pro debut, but his ceiling gives him the chance to be an all-star. I do see him as a third baseman, though the Red Sox will give him a shot to stick at shortstop.

 Q:  Sam from Maine asks:
BA had Dice-K as the number 1 prospect in baseball last year, but in your projected 2011 roster you have him behind Buchholz. Did you guys overrate him, or is Buchholz just that good?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Some of both . . . I still have 80-plus questions piled up and I need to go proof the Prospect Handbook galleys, so I'm going to try to get to a few more questions quickly.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
Who is Bryce Cox? The guy who had an amazing CWS and start to his pro career? Or the guy who struggled mightily last year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm beginning to think the latter. As I wrote in the Handbook, out of five years in college and pro ball, Cox has been dominant for exactly four months.

 Q:  Steve from Wakefield, MA asks:
How many Sox made your top 50 list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Buchholz at No. 2, Ellsbury at No. 16 (and I didn't think he'd rank that high), Anderson at No. 29. Masterson will be in the 51-60 range.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Hanley Ramirez and Anibel Sanchez for Josh Beckett. Would you make that trade today? Beckett already helped the Sox win a World Series, but imagine Hanley at shortstop for the next 10 years with a rotation of Buchholz, Lester, Matsusaka, Sanchez (who was lights-out in FL), and Bowden/Masterson.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think both teams are happy with how that deal worked out. With Sanchez getting hurt, it's Ramirez for Beckett as the principles right now. The Marlins didn't want to pay Beckett, and I think it's harder to find a No. 1 starter than it is a Ramirez.

 Q:  Josh from San Diego, CA asks:
Is George Kottaras still considered a prospect or is he a bust?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Still a prospect and had a solid second half last year. Didn't make my Top 30, though, and more of a big league backup than a starter.

 Q:  Weasel from Tampa asks:
Love your chats. You predicted the Rays to win the 2010 WS. With the Red Sox already at the top and with the #2 farms system, how can the Rays overcome that?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That 2010 prediction was etched in stone (or at least newsprint) last spring. Haven't done the 2011 prediction column yet, but the Red Sox may be the favorites in that one.

 Q:  Josh from San Diego, CA asks:
Better chance of sticking in the majors: Bryce Cox or Craig Hansen could either one become a closer in the majors
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hansen. If he ever got that wipeout slider back, yes, he could close. I think set-up man is a more realistic possibility.

 Q:  Paul from San Francisco asks:
Jim, with Varitek's contract expiring and the Sox historically skeptical about catchers in their mid-30s, whom do you see as the most likely replacement? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Probably someone who's not in the organization right now. I like Mark Wagner the best of the in-house candidates, but he's two years away.

 Q:  Mike from bonita Springs asks:
Hi Jim, The Red Sox were very aggresive in their drafting and signing in 2005 and 2006, but not so with their signings in 2007 would they go back to their aggresive form in 2008? Thank You
 A: 

Jim Callis: As I mentioned earlier, they were aggressive in 2007, they just didn't have a big-ticket guy like a Rick Porcello or Andrew Brackman. Drake Britton's $700,000 was the biggest bonus after the 10th round, and the Red Sox went to $800,000 (but didn't sign) Scott Green.

 Q:  Andrew from New Jersey asks:
What are the Red Sox going to do next year with all of the middle infielders at the lower levels such as Tejeda, Middlebrooks, and Dent?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They're still figuring that out. It looks like Argenis Diaz will be the shortstop in high Class A, and Tejeda will get the bulk of the SS time in low Class A. But they also want to get Middlebrooks, Dent and Yamaico Navarro time at SS also.

 Q:  from asks:
Bubba Bell: Product of lancaster or legit, is he in the top 30?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Lancaster obviously helped, but he can hit and did crack the Top 30.

 Q:  Joe from Easton, MD asks:
Is Scott Rolen with less defense a good comp for Middlebrooks?
 A: 

Jim Callis: For his ceiling, yes. Almost used that exact line with the earlier question.

 Q:  Alex from Naples asks:
Hey Jim talking about the rule 5 draft the Sox lost Jose Capellan would he make the Giants roster, whats your opinion on him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: More of a pitchability guy, not great stuff, not great conditioning, not much of a loss. Don't see how he could make the Giants' bullpen, as they have better lefty candidates than Capellan.

 Q:  Randy from Boston asks:
Did anything ever come of Jaren Matthews losing his eligibility? There was some discussion over at SoxProspects about whether he would based on his signing/non-signing.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Matthews agreed to terms with the Red Sox, then changed his mind. In the past, guys have lost their NCAA eligibility over this. Not sure what makes Matthews' case different, but the last I heard he was a freshman at Rutgers. Boston took the high road in this and didn't try to punish the kid.

 Q:  Skelly from Madison asks:
In response to your answer about the Red Sox recent drafts, I was wondering how much their willingness to open their wallet plays into this?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A huge part. A team with deep pockets and good scouting can clean up in the draft, and the Red Sox have done just that.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
Just curious - did Chris Carter crack the top 30? He may be horrific in the field, but he can hit and draw walks, and I'm sure he can produce in the big leagues, at least offensively.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He did sneak in.

Moderator: We're pulling Jim out of the chat room so he can resume proofing Prospect Handbook galleys. We'll be back with another Top 10 chat on Monday, as John Manuel tackles the Yankees.