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, 2009.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
How far off was Ryan Kalish? He put up respectable numbers this year and doing well in Hawaii.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. This is usually one of the more question-packed chats we do, so we'll see how many I can answer. The No. 10 spot on the list was tough. At various points, I made arguments in my mind for Oscar Tejeda, Ryan Kalish and Che-Hsuan Lin before going with Stolmy Pimentel. So Kalish was close. If he start to trust his hand again and turns his swing loose like he did before he broke his hamate, I think he'll move back up the list next year.

 Q:  Jude from Denver asks:
I liked what I've read so far about Oscar Tejeda. While he didn't put up a monster year, did he get consideration?
 A: 

Jim Callis: As I just mentioned, he did. Tejeda had offseason minor surgery to repair a tiny hole in his heart, battled staph infections early in the season and was very young for low Class A, so the deck was stacked against him. He still has a high ceiling, and as with Kalish, I think he'll bounce back with a better 2009.

 Q:  Ian from Denver asks:
Hmm...if you had to guess, is Theo kicking himself for not signing guys like LaPorta and Alvarez, or do you think they were determined not to sign no matter what?
 A: 

Jim Callis: LaPorta is revisionist thinking. He was coming off a down year and didn't exactly put in a lot of effort playing defense in the Cape Cod League, but the biggest factor was that his advisor drew a Jeff Clement comp, and at the time LaPorta wasn't worth $3.4 million. The Red Sox didn't do too badly by signing Lars Anderson out of that same 2006 draft for $825,000. On Alvarez, yes, scouting director Jason McLeod thinks about that one a lot. The Red Sox were willing to meet Alvarez' predraft asking price of $850,000, but his family was determined he attend Vanderbilt by the end of the summer.

 Q:  rickpscuz from Boston asks:
I don't see Masterson's name in the 2012 projection. What do you see as the plan for him if not the starting rotation.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Masterson is fully capable of becoming a No. 3 starter, but I think it's more likely that he becomes a dynamic setup man for Boston. I do like him better than Michael Bowden, if that clears anything up.

 Q:  Chaos Theory from Palo Alto asks:
There's no way Casey Kelly is worth $3 million right?
 A: 

Jim Callis: We don't know how Kelly will turn out, but I disagree, for two reasons. One, if Kelly were a free agent able to negotiate with 30 clubs, he would have gotten perhaps twice as much. Two, if Kelly reaches his potential, he will outperform his pre-free agent salaries (that's six years' worth) by $20 million or more (I'm trying to be conservative). I'd gamble $3 million for a $20 million payoff. You'll miss on some guys, but if you scout well, and even hit on one-third of your big-ticket draftees, you come out way, way ahead.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
Jim, Carson Blair came in and had a few solid GCL games at the end of the season and word was that the Sox were trying Blair behind the plate in instructs. Can you profile him a little and talk about his chances of staying behind the plate?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He was a deadline draft signee for $200,000 with an interesting bat and athleticism. He's not a SS, his position in high school, but has the bat potential for third base. He has a strong arm and moves well, so I could see him sticking at catcher. It's early, of course, but he has the tools.

 Q:  Brent from Appleton, WI asks:
How does this year's Red Sox top 10 prospects compare to last season's crop? Do you still project Buchholz and Ellsbury higher than Lars Anderson?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The big difference between the two Top 10s is that last year's had four guys in the top five (Buchholz, Ellsbury, Masterson, Lowrie) ready to play in the majors. They all graduated to Boston in 2008, and this year's group is further away. The second question is tough, because everyone knows how much I like Anderson. My gut feel is he has a better chance to be a true star, though he hasn't had the chance to struggle in the majors like Buchholz and Ellsbury have.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
How would you rate the Red Sox '08 Draft amongst other teams? Seems like maybe only the Royals had a better draft.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Well, only the Royals had a more expensive draft. We ranked the Red Sox draft as the fifth-best in baseball when John Manuel and I did the Draft Report Cards. I liked the mix of high-ceiling athletes (Kelly, Westmoreland, Hissey, Gibson) and college pitchers (Price, Fife, Weiland).

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
While the Sox seem to have a lot of young talent at the big league level and Anderson is a stud, the rest of the list seemed a little underwhelming. I mean when your 4th ranked prospect profiles as a set-up guy and your 3rd ranked prospect played in just 3 games — it doesn't look so great. And yet, the overview written seemed pretty glowing. Are the two in sync or is the list beyond Anderson pretty mediocre.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't use the word "mediocre" at all. I think the system has more athletes than at any time I can remember, and a ton of high-ceiling talent. Some of those guys will fall by the wayside, but there are enough of them that they will hit on some future stars. They system isn't poised to deliver a lot of immediate impact help after Bowden, Bard and Reddick, because most of the best players are down in A ball. But that's OK because the big league team is in very good shape and there's a lot of talent in the system. The Red Sox can afford to be patient.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
First of all, a very funny picture of Westmoreland with the NY helmet on, but secondly and more to the point, how much concern is there over his playing against a lower-caliber talent in high school? Will it make his adjustment that much more difficult or are his raw tools just that good?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I hadn't seen that yet—that's funny, and that must be a photo from when he played with the Bayside Yankees. The Yankees are one of the nation's top travel teams, so he faced very good competition this summer (and the Red Sox scouted him while he did). From what I've heard, he's more advanced at the plate than many of the top baseball athletes usually are.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Che-Hsuan Lin made a nice first impression at the Futures game. What's your evaluation of him, and did he make the 11-20 range?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's very interesting but I still can't figure out exactly what he's going to do at the plate. He might be the best defensive outfielder in the minors, a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder with a plus-plus arm. He has the bat speed and strength to do some damage at the plate, but thus far he has looked better in BP. He was one of the guys in consideration for No. 10 . . . BA photo editor Nathan Rode informs me that picture of Ryan Westmoreland is from the Area Code Games, by the way.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
Jim, again appreciate your time today. Exposito is listed as the catcher on the 2012 team, what type of catcher does he profile as in the major leagues? Is he in the 11-15 range of prospects for the Sox? Is he the best catching prospect in the Boston system (including the 2008 draftees)?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He projects as an offensive catcher with solid defense. He is in the 11-15 range and is the best catching prospect in the system. He's probably two years away though, so he's not ready to take over for Varitek.

 Q:  Mark from Davis asks:
Hey Jim, Would Anthony Rizzo have made the top-10 had he stayed healthy and if so, how high would he have been?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's a hard question to answer. If he continued to hit like he did in April (.373) before getting diagnosed with cancer, he probably would have been in the 8-10 range. The good news is that his cancer is in remission, and he was able to hit in instructional league in between chemotherapy treatments, which are scheduled to end this month. He should be 100 percent for all baseball activity in 2009, which is great news.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Stephen Fife seemed to have a good summer, but I was surprised to see him in the bullpen. Does he project be a reliever in the bigs, and what kind of ceiling does he have?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He only pitched in relief because he was tired after the college season. The Red Sox do that with almost all of their college starter draftees. He projects as a starter, possibly as good as a No. 3. He has a good fastball-curve combo, throws strikes and gets a lot of groundballs.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
How close was Will Middlebrooks to making the Top Ten? How do you see the logjam at short playing itself out. Thanks for the chat as always
 A: 

Jim Callis: Middlebrooks wasn't really a candidate for the Top 10, but he did fall in the 11-20 range. He got off to a horrible start but responded well when the Red Sox challenged him to adjust, and he had a terrific instructional league. My gut feel is he could be a Top 10 guy next year. As for the shortstops, I think Tejeda eventually will slide over to third base and Kelly will wind up on the mound. Dent will be a second baseman. So that leaves Navarro, Diaz and Gibson to duke it out.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
Jim, you showed a lot of love for Hagadone at #3 this year, are Weiland and Price similar prospects (i.e. college relievers who could really breakout when moved to the rotation in the minors)? Both pitched really well in the minors, how do each of them profile as prospects?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I did show a lot of love for Hagadone. He's well ahead of schedule in his rehab and he showed sick stuff before he got hurt. I actually see Price and Weiland as relievers. Price is still figuring out his delivery and command, and he has no track record of success as a starter since high school. And despite his fine debut, I could see Weiland going back to the bullpen too. I like them both, but they're probably relievers to me.

 Q:  Mark from Davis asks:
Where do you see Casey Kelly ending up later in his career? Will he get his way and stay at SS or will the Sox lay down the law and move him to the mound?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He'll pitch. The Red Sox thought he was the most advanced high school pitcher in the draft and they love his fastball and curve—and that's why they paid him $3 million. I think we'll see Kelly both pitch and play shortstop in 2009, and while they'd never say this, I don't think the Red Sox would mind at all if he struggled at the plate and began to see that he has a brighter future on the mound.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Do you think that the Red Sox were discouraged with Federowiz's and Lavarnway's debuts? Can either one be more than a back up in the major leagues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Most teams don't get too worried about what a guy does in his first pro summer. Federowicz is the stronger defender and has some questions about his bat, while Lavarnaway has some power but defensive questions. If they can develop more well-rounded games, then they'd be potential big league starters.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
Where is Bard's future? Starter, set-up, or shut-down closer on another team?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He won't start again. I'm going to say setup man unless his control really improves, but also could see the Red Sox selling him high and using him in a major trade.

 Q:  Chris from Los Angeles asks:
What is the prospect status of Kris Johnson? He was in the Top 10 last year, seemingly had a good year in Double-A, and now has fallen out of the Top 10? Where do you see him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Johnson was actually No. 13 last year, and he landed in about the same spot this year. The key for him is developing a better curveball, closer to the one he had before Tommy John surgery. If he does that, I think he can be a mid-rotation starter. If not, he's more of a back-end guy.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
How do the Red Sox Top 10 compare to the Orioles' Top 10? I think the Orioles have a stronger top 4, but after that, I am not so sure.
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's hard to compete with Baltimore's top four (Wieters, Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta), but after that, I think the Red Sox have a significant edge.

 Q:  Mark from Davis asks:
Where did Argenis Diaz end up in the Red Sox top 30?
 A: 

Jim Callis: In the 11-30 range. His scouting report remains the same: slick fielder, can hit for average but doesn't do a lot else offensively. I think the glove is good enough to carve out a regular role if he gets the shot. Potential Gold Glover but probably not an all-star.

 Q:  Nick from Allston, MA asks:
Did the scouts whiff a little bit on Pedroia? I mean, 73 extra base hits?!?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sure, and while they always touted him, I don't even think the Red Sox knew he was this good. Scouts got hung up on his size and the fact that he wasn't a shortstop, but the biggest thing is that I think it was just hard to believe his approach would work against major league pitching until we saw it happen. As Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod put it while Pedroia was in the minors, his hand-eye coordination is so good that it allows him to swing from his ass every time and still make consistent hard contact.

 Q:  Bobby Sue from Greenville asks:
Does Place still have a shot at becoming a regular or is he a guy that they missed on?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Red Sox haven't given up on him yet, but he's going to have to make a lot more contact at the plate to become a regular. He has some of the best tools in the system but he might never hit.

 Q:  Felix from Miami asks:
Felix Doubront had a nice yr and is a proj lefty, where does he stack up with the other arms in the system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's kind of on the same path as Kris Johnson, having a chance to start in the majors as a three-pitch lefty if he improves his curveball.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
Where would you rank the Red Sox farm system now?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Because most of the talent is now concentrated in the lower levels, and because they graduated Buchholz, Ellsbury, Masterson and Lowrie, my guess is I'll rank them around No. 10 when it comes time to do that. I haven't done that yet, so it's hard to answer this definitively. The Rangers and the A's have the top two systems in my mind, but I haven't figured out the rest yet.

 Q:  Andy from Sarver asks:
Lars Anderson reminds me of a Mark Grace style player. What are your thoughts on his power and possible average in the big leagues. Are there any remaining make-up issues or is he a good teammate?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think he's going to have a lot more power than Grace. The key with Anderson is he can drive balls over the fence with little effort, so he doesn't have to sell out for power. He had 32 doubles and 18 homers as a 20-year-old splitting time between high Class A and Double-A. I think he'll become a .300 hitter with 25-plus homers annually.

 Q:  Bob from Acton MA from Acton MA asks:
If Lars were in this past draft, where would he have gone?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He would have been part of that monster crop of first baseman. I think it's fair to say top half of the first round. Remember, too, that he'd only be a sophomore. If Anderson had gone to college, he'd be part of the 2009 draft, and he'd be a top-five pick.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
Anything on the catching horizon? Or is Boras's claim that Tek can hold up another four years the Sox best option?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say listening to Boras' viewpoint on Varitek is anywhere close to a good option. But the system does not have a big league-ready starting catcher right now.

 Q:  Howard from NJ asks:
Jim, thanks as always for your insights. How would you evaluate the Boston above slot strategy based on the last few drafts? Clearly Lars has more than paid off, and Westmoreland is on the top 10 this year, but given the investstment in last year's crew of Mailman, Britton, Middlebrooks is this a spread your risk approach? Clearly the SOX have a deep farm, and this along with good Latin scouting is one reason why.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Middlebrooks is going to pay off too . . . As I mentioned early, the payoff on these guys when you're right is so much higher than the investment, that it's an easy choice (or should be) from a risk-reward scenario. Sure, some guys will fail, they always do, but the best way to build a farm system is to be aggressive in the draft.

 Q:  Bob from Seattle, WA asks:
Any thoughts on Richie Lentz and if he has a chance to make the club in the next few years? He's healthy now and throwing in the high 90's. Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: He still needs to tighten his slider and improve his command, but he could contribute in relief in the near future.

 Q:  Mike from Spokane, WA asks:
Guys what about the Peterson kid from Spokane, WA. Good athlete that put up good numbers in GCL ???? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I didn't rank Bryan Peterson on the Top 30, but it wouldn't surprise me if the 11th-round pick from the 2008 draft made it next year. He has good pop in his bat, and athleticism, too.

 Q:  John from Orange, CA asks:
What is the story with Ryan Dent? Is he hurt? He was a 1S in 2007.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Dent wasn't hurt. He just had a brutal year in the New York-Penn League but couldn't make adjustments at the plate. He has some of the best tools in the system but also a lot to prove in 2009.

 Q:  mike from nj asks:
how does bowden stack up against the minors' other top pitching prospects like hanson, holland, cahill, jhoulys chacin, etc, etc, etc. Does he have their potential, or is a #3 his best case scenario?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Bowden isn't the most spectacular pitching prospect in the minors, but he's one of the safer bets to be a mid-rotation starter with solid stuff and command and tremendous makeup. I like him but I think No. 3 starter is his realistic ceiling.

 Q:  Marco from San Diego asks:
All things considered would you have taken Kelly over Melville?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I could see that either way, honestly. Before the draft, I had a better feel for Melville and would have gone with him. But the Red Sox believe Kelly's fastball and curveball could be plus-plus pitches, and he has great feel and athleticism. So from their perspective that would be hard to pass up.

 Q:  Alex from Atlanta asks:
Whereabouts might we find Pete Hissey on the list? Is there really that much separation between he and Westmoreland?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hissey is in the 11-20 range. It's tough ranking these guys because there are so many young guys with high ceilings. I could easily buy a case that Hissey is just as good as Hissey, for instance. No knock on Hissey, but stacking him up vs. Westmoreland, Westmoreland has more speed, more power and plays CF to Hissey's RF (in the long run).

 Q:  Rob from Brighton asks:
It seems as if the Sox are banking heavily on High School kids in the last few drafts. Do you think this is part of an organizational strategy, or just how things have shaken out? Is there more risk/reward this way?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think it's so much that they're targeting high school players as it is the big league club and farm system are in such good shape that they don't have to worry about trying to turn draft picks into big leaguers in a hurry. They can take the best players on the board and give them time to develop. A team more desperate for talent or a front office more desperate for a quick fix probably passes on a lot of high schoolers.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
Jim, I feel like you have received this question before whether here on a BA chat or perhaps on ESPN, but if Pedro Alvarez had been signed where would you see him stacking up in this list? Obviously a hypothetical to the extreme, but just for fun.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Probably No. 1. I'll assume he would have torn up the minors, so he'd have one more year on his track record than Anderson does now. Also, Alvarez would have more defensive value as a third baseman vs. a first baseman, though I'm not sold that Alvarez will stick at third. If Alvarez had signed in 2005, he might be in the big leagues already, too.

 Q:  mike from mass asks:
in the post steroid era, is a .300 25HR first baseman now something to be excited about?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sure. And I was trying to be somewhat conservative on the power. It could be 30-35 homers, too.

 Q:  Nate from Richmond, RI asks:
Jim, you don't think Dusty Brown is MLB-ready? I have to think that while Brown and George Kottaras aren't going to step in and provide All-Star-quality play, either of them can be serviceable, league-average options. Do you disagree with that assessment? And, is it just me, or does Kottaras stat line remind you a lot of Kelly Shoppach's a few years back, only with more plate discipline? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: I do disagree—I just don't see either guy as a big league regular. Not buying the Kottaras/Shoppach comp either, as Shoppach was a much better defender.

 Q:  Nick from Allston, MA asks:
What level of an organization are your sources typically from? Are there teams where it's difficult to find somebody to talk?
 A: 

Jim Callis: All over the place. In a perfect world, you'd like to get some opinions from the GM, the farm director, the scouting director, some coordinators, some minor league managers and sources outside the system. Some teams are tougher nuts to crack than others. When we started doing the Handbook at the beginning of the decade, the Red Sox were as tough as they'd come. I'd have to go through one of their former PR directors to talk to club officials, and he'd promise me former GM Dan Duquette would let me talk to them, and then they'd leave me hanging. This happened two years in a row. Then the same PR director would tell the local media we didn't like their farm system because we wouldn't talk. The scouting director at that time, Wayne Britton, was always gracious with his time, as was international scouting director Ray Poitevint. We still had a ton of info we gathered during the season from minor league managers and pro scouts, and I had pro scouts from other teams who would break down the Red Sox for me.

 Q:  Jim from Georgia asks:
Is Josh Reddick gonna be an everyday Major Leaguer? Is he really a legit 5-Tool player?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He needs to make some adjustments, but he got to Double-A in a hurry and can do a little of everything. I think he can be a legit right fielder on a contender.

 Q:  Derek from Stoughton, MA asks:
You've selected Gibson as the fastest baserunner, but in your report card noted Westmoreland as Home to First in under 4 seconds, and I understand Pichardo can fly as well. What goes into the speed rankings.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think the Draft Report Card noted—I know I wrote this but it may have been cut for space—that Westmoreland is a hair faster now but will fill out more, so Gibson will be faster in the long run. Pichardo tore up a knee at the end of the season, so I went with Gibson.

 Q:  Chris from California asks:
How does Navarro compare to Jed Lowrie? Seems similar regarding more bat than glove, with decent power, but steady enough fielders to stay at short.
 A: 

Jim Callis: There are some similarities there, though Lowrie is a lot more disciplined at the plate and Navarro has a little more pure defensive ability.

 Q:  Chris from California asks:
Some drafnicks think the Sox don't focus enough on power in their drafts. Clearly they've compensated in the non-slot rounds later in the draft, but what's your view, Jim?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think they're doing just fine. Anderson is going to have plus power. The Red Sox may be taking more athletes with solid power than sluggers with limited athleticism, but in this year's draft alone, Westmoreland has plus power, Tyler Yockey has huge raw power and Peterson has good power, to name three guys.

 Q:  mike from nj asks:
What type of a SP do you think Clay Buchholtz will wind up as? Despite his poor 2008 at the MLB level, is he still an elite pitching prospect?
 A: 

Jim Callis: If he can gain better fastball command and regain his command, I still think he can be an ace.

Moderator: That's it for today. Jim says thanks for all the terrific questions, and we'll be back with the rest of our AL East Top 10 chats next week.