2012 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.


    @Jaypers413 (IL): When are we likely to find out what compensation for Theo's departure will be? What type of prospect are you expecting they will receive?

Jim Callis: I think the over/under on the Theo compensation is slightly earlier than never. I'd assume we'd know by spring training, but I also would have assumed that we would have known long before now. I'm not anticipating that it will be a significant prospect. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the players isn't on the Cubs Top 30 and wouldn't make the Red Sox Top 30, and I wrote both lists.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How far down the list has Lars Anderson fallen, and do you see him as trade bait?

Jim Callis: Anderson barely made the Top 30 this year, and he needs a trade to get a chance to play regularly. There's still some potential there, but he has yet to prove he can hit lefthanders or have enough power to be a regular first baseman on a good team. As a perennial contender, the Red Sox aren't going to give him the big league at-bats to find out.

    Grant (NYC): Who is the real Ranaudo, in your opinion - the one the Sox drafted, or the one who had his struggles this past season?

Jim Callis: I think Ranaudo got a bit of a bum rap this year. After having elbow problems in 2010, he made 26 starts and pitched 127 innings without a hitch. He was as good as advertised while making his pro debut in low Class A, and while he hit a wall in July (to be expected in his first full pro season after an abbreviated 2010), he pitched well in August. I still see the makings of a solid No. 3 starter.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Stolmy Pimentel - prospect or suspect?

Jim Callis: Still young enough (22 this year) to be a prospect, but a suspect after a terrible 2011. He threw harder but otherwise regressed across the board. Hard to count on him being more than a reliever right now.

    Frank (Chicago): How many of these guys would you think are top 100 worthy?

Jim Callis: When I put together my personal Top 50 list for the Handbook, I didn't list a single Red Sox prospect. I believe a case can be made for Middlebrooks, Bogaerts, Swihart, Ranaudo, Brentz and Jacobs to make the Top 100, though I doubt the consensus BA list will have six Red Sox on it.

    Morrie (New Joisey): Was Iglesias the system's biggest disappointment this season, and is he still in your 30?

Jim Callis: Iglesias almost made the Top 10, but I ultimately put him at No. 12 because I couldn't find a scout outside the organization who believed at all in his bat. That's a little harsh, because going to Triple-A at 21 wasn't completely fair to him. Given the degree of difficulty, I'd actually call Drake Britton and Stolmy Pimentel biggest disappointments in 2011.

    Harry (Boston, ma): What does Drake Britton need to work on? Still in your top 30?

Jim Callis: A lot, starting with mound presence, control, command and consistency with his secondary pitches. He's still in the Top 30, in the teens, but as with Pimentel I have a hard time banking on him being more than a reliever at this point.

    Eric (St Louis, MO): Did Brandon Workman get any support for the top 10 this year, and were you impressed with his mechanics?

Jim Callis: It's not necessarily fair, but Workman was the system's most overlooked prospect in 2011. He had a very solid pro debut and got almost no attention. He didn't make the Top 10 because the Red Sox have too much depth, but he might have in a lesser system. He did a good job of repeating his delivery, throwing strikes and operating on a steep downhill plane.

    Tyrone (Boston): I am following the saga of Ryan Westmoreland, as are many others I know. Is it your belief he can one day play as well as he did before his operation?

Jim Callis: I honestly have no idea. The way I look at it is that if baseball doesn't work out, he'll still be able to lead a normal and productive life, something that was in jeopardy before his brain surgery.

    Ryan (Boston): What did scouts have to say about 3B Kolbrin Vitek?

Jim Callis: The big thing they want to see is more power if he's going to stay at third base. I bet he winds up in the outfield in the long run, because his feet and hands are questionable in the infield, but he may run well enough to play center field.

    Ike (Tampa, FL): Had he signed, about where would Senquez Golson have fit in on your list? How disappointed are you that he didn't?

Jim Callis: The Red Sox remain bitterly disappointed that they couldn't sign Golson for a seven-figure offer last August. But he wanted to play football and baseball at Mississippi. He clearly would have been the best athlete in the system, though at the same time he would have been quite raw. I likely would have ranked him in the 19-25 range. I had Henry Owens at 18, and he would have been behind Owens.

    Claire (Montpelier, VT): What can you tell us about Williams Jerez and his athleticism? Did he find a place on your top 30?

Jim Callis: He's one of the better athletes in the system, but is too raw at this point to make the Top 30. Five-tool potential if it all works out, though.

    Laura (Washington DC): Is Cody Kukuk likely a SP or RP, and what did Theo see in him?

Jim Callis: Kukuk is a projectable lefthander whom the Sox will develop as a starter. How consistent he becomes with his command and secondary pitches, the quality of which varied last spring when he was a high school senior, will determine his ultimate role. I think he's one of the best sleepers in the system.

    Benny (Columbus, GA): I went to school with Jordan Weems and was pleasantly surprised to see him go as high as he did. What's the word on him, and can I see him in Greenville this year?

Jim Callis: He's a projectable catcher who needs to get a lot stronger. Solid ceiling but a long ways from reaching it. He might spend 2012 in Lowell, so you might have to wait another year to see him in the SAL.

    Carlos (Albuquerque, NM): With a surplus of good 3B in their system, where does Travis Shaw fit in, and does he have any above average tools?

Jim Callis: Power and arm strength are his best tools, I'd call them more solid than plus. He's not especially agile, so Boston's third-base depth could push him to first base down the road.

    Paul (Hicksville, NY): Already pre-ordered my Prospect Handbook. In the meantime, can you tell us whose farm system will rank higher - Boston or the Yanks?

Jim Callis: The Yankees. They have better prospects at the top (Montero, Banuelos), though the Red Sox have better depth.

    Morrie (New Joisey): If you stacked up this year's crop of ten vs. last year's, which one wins out?

Jim Callis: This year's top 10 looks a lot better because Iglesias, Britton, Doubront, Pimentel, Anderson, Vitek and Tejeda all were eligible again and fell out of the latest edition.

    Jim ONeill (New London): How does Bogaerts' upside compare to other young high ceiling guys like Sano, Yelich, Profar and Marisnick?

Jim Callis: He's most comparable to Sano, in that both have impressive power and likely will wind up at third base. Sano's power is a cut above Bogaerts', however. Though I ranked Middlebrooks No. 1 in the Red Sox system, I easily could have gone with Bogaerts if I leaned a lot more toward ceiling than certainty. Bogaerts and Swihart have the highest ceilings in the system.

    Richard L. (Portland, Oregon): Who do you think has the most power and will turn out the best from the '09 IFA class? Bogaerts, Sano, or Sanchez?

Jim Callis: Sano and Sano.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the four Red Sox 1st round draft choices in 2011, three made your top 10 list (Barnes, Swigert, and Bradley). Where did the other guy (Henry Owens) end up on your list, and what are you comments on him?

Jim Callis: As I alluded to earlier, Owens was 18th. I could see him becoming a No. 3 starter once he gets stronger. His feel for pitching stands out more than his present stuff.

    Ben (Leland Grove): With Boston picking 24th this year, could the Cecchini brothers possibly see a family reunion in their future? Who has the higher ceiling between the two?

Jim Callis: I don't think Gavin is going to last 24 picks. I may be Garin's biggest booster, but Gavin has a higher ceiling because he's a similar offensive talent with a legitimate chance to stay at shortstop.

    PT (IBC): I see Alex Wilson listed as having the best fastball and best slider in the system. How close to the top 10 was he and do you see him starting in Boston or plying his two pitch mix in the back of the bullpen?

Jim Callis: He was actually No. 11. I think he has a better chance to be a starter than he gets credit for, though I think he eventually winds up as a late-inning reliever in Boston.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Jim and thanks. Regarding Lavarnway - with the signing of Shoppach, do you think he goes to AAA and continues to work on his receiving skills? He's not going to DH with Ortiz around - and he's sure not going to play 1B (Adrian Gonzalez).

Jim Callis: I could see Lavarnway as a third catcher/righthanded DH (I know Ortiz his LHP well last year)/backup first baseman, but if you do that, how do you get any better sense if he can catch on a regular or semiregular basis in the majors? I'm guessing he goes back to Triple-A to work on his receiving.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): How long can Bogaerts stay at SS? Another year or 2 or 5+ years?

Jim Callis: He's pretty fluid there, though he lacks true shortstop quickness and is going to slow down some as he fills out. He'll definitely stay at shortstop in 2012 and because he's only 19, the Red Sox don't have to rush any decisions about his future.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): Please explain to me how Jacobs has fringy speed. I saw half a dozen games in Greenville, and Jacobs won multiple games with his speed and aggressiveness on the bases. I'm no scout, but I'd call it plus now and likely average when he fills out.

Jim Callis: The scouts I talked to think he's slow out of the batter's box and better once he gets going. None of them thought speed would be a big part of his game at upper levels.

    Brian (Wisconsin): Hello Jim, How far has Jose Iglesias stock dropped from last season and do you still think he is the Red Sox SS of the future? Thank you for the Chat, Brian

Jim Callis: His stock has dropped, at least outside the organization, where there are major questions about his bat. His stellar defense still makes him Boston's shortstop of the future and a possible solid regular, though he probably will bat at the bottom of the lineup.

    Bill D (Boston): Jim, thanks for doing this chat. How do you see the changes in the draft rules impacting the Red Sox drafting strategy (i.e. focusing on tough signs drafted in later rounds and signing those draftees deemed to have value with significantly over-slot bonuses)?

Jim Callis: The new changes may hurt the Red Sox more than any other team. After the compensation rules change in 2012, they're not going to have many if any extra picks and they're going to have one of the lowest draft signing caps of any team. No club was as aggressive outside the first round as Boston was, and that's probably going to change because the penalties for excessive spending are prohibitive.

    Craig (Charlotte): Do you feel Blake Swihart will continue to catch or will they expedite him via right field?

Jim Callis: The Red Sox definitely want him to catch. If he struggles somewhat, they may decide to expedite his bat, though they think he has the athleticism to make catching work. They also think the bat is potentially special, so we'll see.

    Paul D. (San Francisco): Jim, Jackie Bradley Jr. had such a great work ethic and natural talent as a centerfielder at South Carolina - yet the wrist injury took a toll on his college performance last year. He's not listed as a starter in 2015 - but do you think he can recover and become a solid major league regular?

Jim Callis: That 2015 lineup is more of a depth chart than anything, and it doesn't assume any free-agent departures. So while I wasn't going to put Bradley over Ellsbury in center, I do think Bradley can and will become a solid major league regular. He'll be a plus defender with a solid bat.

    Lloyd (Lakewood): Hi Jim, What do the Sox think of Sean Coyle's season and future?

Jim Callis: He's an organization favorite with a chance to become a solid regular. He needs to get a little more disciplined at the plate, but he deserves credit from bouncing back from a broken jaw to hit .268/.375/.460 in the second half as a 19-year-old in low Class A. He can steal a few bases and become a solid defender at second base, too.

    cy (western Mass.): Hi Jim, thanks for keeping Sox fans sane during the long winter. It seems as though the top of the Sox list isn't as high voltage as some organizations, but that there is uniform quality all the way through #10. Agree?

Jim Callis: Totally agree.

    Ben (Fort Myers, FL): How did Jose Iglesias' stock drop so much? The red sox pushed him to aaa in his first full season and while he had a poor season overall with the bat isn't there room for projection considering is age and lack of experience.

Jim Callis: Here's the problem: He's ultra-aggressive at the plate and also excels at putting the bat on the ball, so he makes a lot of weak contact. He may not hit more than .260 or .270, and even if he does, he won't draw walks or hit for power or do much on the bases. He could be a .270/.310/.320 hitter, and scouts from other organizations think that might be generous. So while he's a fabulous defender, there are few fans of his bat.

    Eric (Oak Brook, IL): Jim, what are the current expectations for Felix Doubront? Injury cost him a good opportunity last year, will the Red Sox give him a shot to start or is he bullpen bound? Thanks.

Jim Callis: The Red Sox thought they could count on him last season, and Doubront didn't show up in spring training in great shape and was rarely at 100 percent health all year. He has had conditioning issues in the past, and the Red Sox weren't pleased. He's still in their plans but I don't think they're going to count on him heavily. I'd guess bullpen for him.

    Chris (CT): Now that Miles Head, Raul Alcantara and Kyle Weiland have been traded, what three players will now be in the top 30 that were not there before?

Jim Callis: Those trades happened after the transaction deadline for the Handbook, so they're all on the Red Sox Top 30 there. Cody Kukuk is in our supplement for people who buy the book directly from us, so he would have been the next guy on the Top 30. The next candidates would have been Miguel Celestino, Chris Balcom-Miller and Jeremy Hazelbaker.

    Morris (VA): What are your thoughts on Madison Younginer so far? Will he step up his game in 2012? When should the Red Sox move him to the bullpen?

Jim Callis: Great arm, still has a lot to figure out about pitching, probably destined for the bullpen.

    Noel (Portland, OR): Aren't you a little low on Ryan Lavarnway? He's done nothing but hit at every level, and show good OBP skills.

Jim Callis: But where does he play? I haven't talked to anyone who's convinced he can catch on a regular basis in the major leagues, though to his credit he has improved from dreadful to adequate since turning pro. He works hard at it. But it's also telling that after my list went to print, the Red Sox signed Kelly Shoppach and relegated Lavarnway to third-catcher status, at least to open 2012. If he's not a catcher, then he's a righthanded-hitting first baseman, which severely decreases his value. I'm just not sold he's ever going to be more than a backup as a catcher.

    Kevin (New Jersey): Jim, Happy New Year! Seems to me your thinking is that Bogaerts is destined for the outfield. Will his bat play in right field if he develops as expected?

Jim Callis: If his bat develops as expected, he should be able to play anywhere. He's also athletic enough to give him plenty of options. Third base is also a logical destination, though the Red Sox have several options there.

    Will, Xavier, & Garin (Red Sox 2013 hot corner): Please settle our disagreement - who has the highest ceiling; who's likely to stay in the organization, but at another position, and who is likely to be a valuable trade chip, due to being blocked by one of the other three?

Jim Callis: Bogaerts has the highest ceiling. If Middlebrooks stays at third base, I think Bogaerts goes to right field and Cecchini becomes trade bait.

    Big Dave (AR): What's the word these days on Jose Vinicio?

Jim Callis: Quality defender, still needs to get a lot stronger because he's only 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds. He won't be 19 until July, so he may not make his full-season debut until 2013.

    Jeff (Madison): If you were the GM of the Red Sox would you make a trade for Matt Garza? If so what players would you make available? While keeping in mind that the compensation for Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has yet be resolved. Is there a match? Thanks for answering this question.

Jim Callis: I might not, to be honest. It's not going to be as easy to add talent internationally and through the draft like the Red Sox have been doing, and I wouldn't be looking to give up three or so quality prospects for a pitcher who's more of a No. 3 starter than a No. 1 and who is getting more and more expensive each year.

    Bill D (Boston): Why is Bradley rated so high, particularly when it seems that he only has one above-average skill (defense)? Is the Red Sox system that weak right now?

Jim Callis: That's unfair to Bradley, who should get a mulligan for a 2011 season in which he was hurt and tried to do too much with the toned-down metal bats. I see him as a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder who has average to solid hitting ability, power and speed. That's a pretty good package.

    Tony (Kendall): Hi Jim, Is Heiker Menesse a prospect?

Jim Callis: He is. I snuck him onto the list at No. 30, and he was the guy on the list whom I knew the least about. He projects as a line drive-hitting utilityman.

    Marty (Hartford, UCONN): Its hard to believe we were able to get Andrew Bailey without giving up Bryce Brentz, especially considering Oakland's lack of power hitters. Is that trade an all time fleecing, considering they got a 2 time All Star in Bailey without giving up a Top 10 Prospect?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't call it a fleecing, because Bailey was hurt each of the last two years and the A's were financially motivated, but the Red Sox didn't trade anyone they're going to miss. I like Reddick, but Boston apparently didn't see him as a regular going forward. Miles Head can hit but doesn't profile well, and Raul Alcantara has an intriguing arm but is years away.

    George (Warwick, RI): How do the front office changes effect the philosophical approach to scouting, drafting, player development, if at all.

Jim Callis: I don't think the front office changes will affect Boston's approach at all because Ben Cherington, Mike Hazen, Amiel Sawdaye and Co. have been there for years. The new CBA will affect the approach, however.

    Bill D (Easton): Which pitchers do you see helping the Red Sox the most in 2012? Wilson? Doubrant? or some dark horse?

Jim Callis: Wilson is the clear favorite.

    Bill D (Boston): If you had to chose two potential breakout candidates (one pitcher, one position player) for the Red Sox in 2012 who would they be?

Jim Callis: Position player: Garin Cecchini, who should finally be healthy and get in a full season. Pitcher: Kyle Stroup, the last pick in the 2008 draft.

    Ben (Fall River, MA): I'm a little surprised by the placement of Matt Barnes, who was ranked 13 overall in BA's pre-draft rankings, and who most consider a top 3 prospect in this system and its top pitcher. Also surprised that, in the top 100 comment above, Barnes didn't get any mention for possible inclusion. What's your outlook for him and your thoughts on this?

Jim Callis: The fact that I ranked Barnes eighth and don't see him in the Top 100 shouldn't be considered a knock on him. I like him a lot, and he had one of the best fastball-curve combos in the 2011 draft. I see him as a likely No. 3 starter, possibly a No. 2 if all goes well. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he's near the top of our Red Sox 2013 Top 10.

    George (Warwick, RI): Internal option not named "Alex Wilson" most likely to help at the MLB level, during 2012?...sleeper?

Jim Callis: I'll give you two deep sleepers: Chris Hernandez and Chris Martin.

    Alex (Miami): Boston system is well known for having very good depth, but where does it rank overall?

Jim Callis: In our preliminary rankings in the Handbook, we had the Red Sox at No. 10. Which is a tribute to their depth, considering they don't have a slam-dunk Top 50 overall prospect.

    Jorge Soler (Cuba): I here the Red Sox are interested, more so than in my compatriot...what's my projection, and would I make the 2011 Top Ten (or Twenty) if I had signed before you completed your list, Mr. Callis?

Jim Callis: As I mentioned in a recent Ask BA, I would rank Soler near Bubba Starling . . . and I had Starling at No. 19 on my personal Top 50.

Jim Callis: As always, thanks for all of the questions. You can hit me with more at Twitter (@jimcallisBA) or, for longer queries, at askba@baseballamerica.com (include your full name and hometown if you want a chance to make our weekly column). Next up in our Top 10 chats are the Orioles, whom Will Lingo will discuss on Monday.