Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jim Callis




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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, 2011.

    JAYPERS (IL): So, where did Westmoreland end up ranking - 11-20 range, or 21-30? What's your outlook on him?

Jim Callis: The 11-30 list is still fluid . . . I have a rough list written down and I'll probably bite the bullet and finish the writeups by the end of the weekend. (That's a sly way of saying I'm not going to be divulging too many rankings and you'll have to buy the Prospect Handbook.) Ranking Westmoreland is essentially guessing right now. He was the No. 1 prospect a year ago, then his life and career were put in jeopardy by brain surgery. The good news is that regardless what happens with baseball, he'll have a normal quality of life, which wasn't guaranteed. He's making progress with baseball, but the Red Sox aren't going to push him and aren't setting any timetables. I'm going to rank him No. 30, because I believe he deserves to be on the list, but it's too early to know how he's going to be able to come back.

    Jake (STL): How far did Lars Anderson's stock tumble this season?

Jim Callis: You know, his overall numbers aren't that bad—an .810 OPS at age 22, spending most of the year in Triple-A, totally destroying Double-A for the first month of the season. I almost put him in the Top 10, but bumped him out at the last second. He has really struggled against lefthanders the last two years, and he still hasn't added the loft to his swing to unlock his power, and I couldn't quite put him in again. His stock is down, but he's still a solid prospect.

    Chris (CT): 5 years from now, who is Boston's 3B? Navarro, Middlebrooks, Vitek, Almanzar, Renfroe, or Cecchini?

Jim Callis: I'm going to say Cecchini, with Middlebrooks a close second. I like Vitek, but I see him as an outfielder. Almanzar and Renfroe have a lot to probe, and I see Navarro as more of a utility guy than a regular on a contender. Cecchini is the best pure hitter in the system and should be a solid defender after moving from shortstop. If Middlebrooks keeps progressing like he has the last couple of years, he could grab the job too. I wouldn't rule out Oscar Tejeda either. The Red Sox have a ton of third-base options for the future.

    Dale Berra's Stash (Eating): Casey Kelly seems destined to be an over-hyped prospect. There is a lot of projection placed on him as he seems to have just average stuff, especially for a RHP. What do scouts and prospectors see differently?

Jim Callis: I don't know where "average stuff" comes from. His fastball and changeup are going to be plus pitches, and his curveball could be too. He has tremendous feel for pitching, but struggled with his command at times in 2010 as his body grew and his stuff improved. He was only 20 in Double-A, and you have to look beyond the stats with him.

    Nora (WY): Ryan Dent - prospect or suspect?

Jim Callis: More suspect because he just hasn't hit. He's an intriguing athlete who plays good defense and has nice bat speed, but that doesn't matter if he doesn't hit.

    Dee (SF): What are scouts telling you about Vitek and his debut?

Jim Callis: They could see the talent, as he grades as average to plus in terms of hitting, power, speed and arm strength. He struck out more than expected, and the jury is out on him as a third baseman. He looked tired when he struggled in the SAL playoffs.

    Frank (Houston TX): No Middlebrooks? Your thoughts on his season? And how about Lavarnway's?

Jim Callis: The Red Sox still have more depth than most organizations, and Middlebrooks just missed the Top 10. He's safely in the 11-15 range. Has prototypical third-base tools and is making progress, just needs to keep making more. Lavarnway is a hard guy for me to figure out. He's one of the better pure offensive prospects in the system, and his catching has improved but also is still shaky enough for scouts to question whether he can make it behind the plate. Obviously, that plays a large part in determining his value.

    Chris (CT): Could you see Anthony Ranaudo do in 2011 what Kyle Gibson did in 2010? Basically succeed/dominate 3 levels.

Jim Callis: It's possible, but Gibson had more polish and was better equipped to do that. I think if Ranaudo gets to Double-A and does well, that should be considered a successful first full season.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Is Coyle's plate discipline on par with that of Cecchini's? What else do you like about him, and is he in the top 30?

Jim Callis: Hard to say, because Cecchini's knee injury restricted him from doing much until the end of instructional league. The Red Sox do like Coyle's plate discipline. He has one of the better pure bats in the system, a surprising amount of pop and plays all out all the time. You know who that's going to garner comparisons to. He'll be in the 11-20 range.

    Chris (CT): 5 years from now, who is the starting catcher for Boston? Salty, Wagner, Exposito, Lavarnway, Federowicz, Ibarra, or Perez?

Jim Callis: I'm currently ranking Lavarnway as the best catching prospect in the system. My gut says their future catcher, because he's a quality catch-and-throw guy, is Federowicz.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Jim, your thoughts on Brandon Jacobs?

Jim Callis: Jacobs will probably make the list. He's on there right now, but I have about 35 guys I'm trying to jam into 30 spots. He has a lot of offensive upside, but he's also an all-bat left fielder. He had a solid year for a teenager in the NYP, but he's also a few years away.

    Darryl (Toronto): I know this isn't a question relating to their farm system, however, if you had to give a probability to Paps leaving the Red Sox when he becomes a free agent (I believe at the end of next season), what would it be? Furthermore, what would you say Daniel Bard's chances of becoming the closer with or without Paps there?

Jim Callis: All Red Sox questions are fair game. I think it's likely that Papelbon leaves, especially if he and Bard perform like they did this year. I don't think the Red Sox are going to pay through the teeth for a closer, especially if Bard can do the same job.

    Matt (Toronto): Did Balcom-Miller fall in the 10-20 range? I see he has the best control in the system, but what does he throw and what is his ceiling?

Jim Callis: Balcom-Miller is a guy I'm having a hard time jamming into the Top 30. He literally is No. 31 right now, so if you buy the Handbook directly from us, you'll see him in our bonus supplement. Maybe the best way of putting it is that the Red Sox have several pitchers with higher ceilings, but not many with higher floors. He has very good command of three average pitches and has good sink on his 88-92 mph fastball.

    Henry (Norfolk): Bryce Brentz was very unimpressive in his first taste of the pros. Do you think he can show more strike-zone discipline, cut down on the K's and be an everyday player? Does he end up being anything more than a 4th outfielder bench player with some pop?

Jim Callis: Part of the issue may have been that the Red Sox wanted him to wear contacts to improve his vision, and he didn't take to them. He's always going to strike out some, but I think the issue is if he can calm down his approach, which he made strides with in instructional league. The raw power is legit, and he's an athletic right fielder. I wouldn't read too much into his debut—his 2011 performance will be much more telling.

    Norberto Paulino (New York): Which position do you think Oscar Tejeda is going to play going forward? He had a bounce back season last year and moved over to second but do you think thats his permanent position going forward?

Jim Callis: I think he could play second base and also could handle third base. The Red Sox will keep him at second base as long as possible, though Dustin Pedroia looms in Boston.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): I'm a bit surprised Oscar Tejeda didn't slot into one of the top 10 slots given the report on him from the league top 20s. Are non-Carolina League sources lower on him?

Jim Callis: Tejeda could have made several Top 10 lists, and he was on earlier versions of my Red Sox Top 10. I just couldn't squeeze everyone on there that I wanted to. He has good power potential and solid all-around tools.

    Shane (Miami): Signability aside. Now that Ranaudo appears healthy, would he have been a top 5 pick for you?

Jim Callis: If Ranaudo pitched like he did in the Cape Cod League, and signability was not an issue, he would have been a top-five pick.

    Mike (boston): what is your take on Iglesias as far as his offense will be? I was very impressed how he just came in and hit like he did does that translate to the major league level?

Jim Callis: I think he'll hit for average, and he has enough pop to hit maybe 8-10 homers per season. I'm just not sure how much he'll walk because he's so aggressive at the plate, and that might be the difference between him hitting second versus eighth in the lineup. His glove will make him worthwhile in either case.

    Dan (D.C): How far down the list do you have to go to get to a guy who isn't under consideration for the top 100?

Jim Callis: Kelly, Iglesias, Rizzo and Ranaudo should all make the Top 100. Britton might have a shot, but he's probably a year away.

    Nick (Boston): I didnt think Chris Hernandez would challenge for the Top 10, but how far off was he? And what can Red Sox fans expect from Hernandez in the future?

Jim Callis: He didn't make the Top 30, but the Red Sox do like him. I could see his cut fastball enabling him to get to the majors very quickly as a lefty reliever, perhaps even quicker than Ranaudo.

Jim Callis: Got a quick phone call. Will resume answering questions shortly . . .

    Greg (Boston): Michael Bowden....discuss. His development stalled the last couple years. What's done him in? His inability to miss MLB bats? Straight fastball? Any hope for him?

Jim Callis: Sorry about the delay . . . Bowden didn't make the Top 30 this year, the first time that's happened since he was a sandwich pick in 2005. His biggest problem is he doesn't have a plus pitch, let alone a true out pitch, so he has little margin for error. If he doesn't keep the ball down in the zone, big leaguers hammer him. I don't see him playing a major role in Boston, maybe middle relief.

    Matt L (New York, NY): At face value the Red Sox system had a down year in 2010. How much can this be attributed to aggressive promotion of players, and how much to perceived under performance of certain prospects (i.e. Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson)? Thanks Jim!

Jim Callis: I think that's the perception. Westmoreland's career was in jeopardy, Kelly had a 5-plus ERA in Double-A, Reddick and Anderson struggled for much of their time in Triple-A. The biggest factor to some of the lackluster statistical performances, I believe, is that the Red Sox were young at every level in the minors. Of their top five affiliates, three were the youngest team in their league, and another was second-youngest. They may not have a lot of guys with eye-popping numbers at the top of their Top 10, but I think their system is still one of the deepest and best-balanced (hitters and pitchers) in the game.

    Mike (Cape Cod): Who has the higher ceiling - Kelly or Ranaudo?

Jim Callis: Kelly. He has the potential for slightly better stuff, a clearly better third pitch and better command. He's more athletic and has a better health history, too.

    Sean (Boston): Does Brandon Workman have a shot to make the Sox bullpen in September or is he being groomed as a SP?

Jim Callis: They won't push him that hard, and even if they did as a reliever, I doubt he'd be ready by September. He has enough pitches and the durability to start, and they'll develop him that way.

    Andrew (New York): Have you heard anything about Xander Bogaerts? Other than his line of 0.314/0.396/0.423 (which seems fairly impressive for a 17 year old short stop in the DSL) - there doesnt seem to be a lot of scouting info out there about him.

Jim Callis: Enough to know that I have to make room for him on my Top 30. He's a polished hitter for his age, with potential power to all fields, pretty athletic too. He may outgrow shortstop once he fills out, but he's very intriguing.

    Jimmy (St.Louis): Where would Kalish have ranked for you if not for his ML contribution this year?

Jim Callis: Fifth, between Ranaudo and Britton. Britton and Fuentes have higher ceilings, but Kalish has a solid ceiling and has performed well at significantly higher levels.

    Josh Randall (Boston, Mass): What are scouts saying about Jose Vinicio. I haven't heard much about him despite being the youngenst player to debut in the US this year and posting pretty o numbers and playing good defense.

Jim Callis: Very good defender but needs to get a lot stronger in order to hit. I'm toying with putting him on the Top 30 but Bogaerts is ahead of him and there may not be room.

    JZ (S. FL): Why do you expect Fuentes to spend 5 or so years in the minors?

Jim Callis: I said four or five, and he already has spent two in the minors. Just think he's a guy who's going to need a full season at most levels.

    Josh (Boston): Can Che-Hsuan Lin be a starting OFer without adding any power? Can he keep that plate discipline up as he moves up to the majors or is he more of a defensive 4th guy?

Jim Callis: He has to have more power. He's a tremendous defender in center field, but big leaguers aren't going to be afraid to throw him strikes if he can't drive the ball on occasion. He had just 23 extra-base hits and slugged .343 this year.

    Brian (CT): Jim, I have Yankee fans who are telling me they have three pitching prospects better than Casey. Help me.

Jim Callis: I don't think they have one. Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman turned a corner this year, finally, but both those guys might be relievers and I wouldn't take either over Kelly. I wouldn't take Manny Banuelos over him either. Me saying this isn't going to make a difference with Yankees fans, though. You'll just have to move further north.

    Dawson (St Louis): I really am a fan of Kolbrin Vitek. Is it possible that he could handle second base, thus increasing his overall value? I would think he is athletic enough to at least get a shot.

Jim Callis: I just don't think he has the hands and maybe not quite the quickness to do that. I think center field is the best-case scenario, and he should have enough bat to be a corner outfielder.

    Avi (New Jersey): Do the Red Sox have enough minor league chips to trade for a marquee player this offseason (Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez)?

Jim Callis: They do. But whether they're willing to deal Kelly or Iglesias is another question.

    Bill (New Canaan, CT): Jim, what is your take on Derrick Gibson? Is the former 2nd round pick still a top prospect? What are scouts saying about his ability to hit?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say "top prospect" but he's still a prospect. Very good athlete, very good runner, has a good concept of the strike zone. He didn't have a very good year in 2010, though, and he's too hard on himself, which makes it tougher to snap out of slumps. He needs to use the whole field more and be more even-keeled, but his swing and approach are fine.

    John (MA): Out of all the prospects in the organization do you see any of them making an impact in the majors next season?

Jim Callis: Not a major impact. Felix Doubront could help, but probably more as a reliever than getting an opportunity to start. Josh Reddick came on toward the end of the year, but I don't see a clear roster spot for him in Boston. Yamaico Navarro could help in a utility role, but the Red Sox already have three middle infielders in Pedroia, Scutaro and Lowrie.

    Jasen (FL): Thanks for your time. Do you see Rizzo as a future all-star or just a solid regular at 1B?

Jim Callis: My gut feeling is solid regular. I see him as more of a .280 hitter with 20-25 homers, and that's not going to make many all-star teams as a first baseman.

    JAYPERS (IL): In retrospect, were you a bit too high on David Renfroe, or are you still optimistic about him? Did he make the 30?

Jim Callis: I don't feel bad for ranking him at No. 14 when he signed. I thought there were a lot of similarities between him and Will Middlebrooks. While Middlebrooks took a big step forward, Renfroe had a rough pro debut. Debuting at 19 in the NYP is tough, but that doesn't totally explain a .527 OPS and 68 strikeouts in 200 AB. I wouldn't write a guy off after 200 pro at-bats, but at the same time, I can't find room in the Top 30 for him.

    John (Clemson): Balcom-Miller can't make the top 30 after being traded for a solid reliever and with a average 3 pitch mix and plus sink? Seems like a potential solid backend starter...He has some deception as well it seems.

Jim Callis: That's his upside—a solid No. 4 starter. You can certainly make a case for Balcom-Miller on the Top 30, and as I said, he's No. 31 right now. But I'd have a hard time leaving off Lin or Jacobs or Bogaerts to get him in there.

Jim Callis: That was fun. Our Red Sox Top 10 chat always draws a lot of good questions, and I always wish I had more time to answer them all. We'll be back with another Top 10 chat on Friday, when Nathan Rode discusses the Blue Jays.