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PCL Chat with Jim Callis

Moderator: Jim will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET. Please limit your questions to PCL teams and players.

 Q:  Josh Sutton from Kansas City, MO asks:
What happened with Edwin Jackson this season? I know he was injured, but he seemed to lose his control after he lost the 5th starter spot in the Dodger rotation this spring. Does he still project as an "ace" or a top of the rotation type pitcher? Will he make an impact in LA next season?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Glad to be here for the 15th and final in our series of league Top 20 Prospects chats. I may get pulled a way by a phone call, but I'll do my best to answer as many of these questions as I can . . . The strained forearm held Jackson back this year, but so did (as Josh mentions) his lack of command. When he was 100 percent, he still had the plus-plus fastballslider combination, but he walked 55 guys in 91 minor league innings after walking 53 in 148 minor league innings a year ago. He still has a world of potential, and I obviously ranked him higher than any pitching prospect in the PCL. But I think we have to remember that he just turned 21, and giving him a half-season in Triple-A to straighten himself out might be a very good idea.

 Q:  Gerald from St Louis, MO asks:
Do you see Yadier Molina replacing Mike Matheny next year as the Cards starting catcher? If so, what kind of numbers do you expect Molina to put up offensively? Also, Cardinal fans have been spoiled by Matheny's great defense the past couple of years, do expect Molina to play similar defense? Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cardinals system is thin right now, but Molina is going to be an upgrade on Matheny. He's a similar defensive standout with Gold Glove potential. Molina needs to get stronger and doesn't have much pop, but he has continually improved as a hitter and should offer significantly more offense than Matheny (yesterday's game notwithstanding). I haven't seen the Cardinals address their catching plans for next year, but Molina is ready for more playing time.

 Q:  Tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
Is Noah Lowry the best the GiantsGrizzlies had to offer this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes. Fresno wasn't loaded with prospects. The second-best guy was hard-throwing reliever David Aardsma, though PCL observers weren't in love with his second pitch (a slider). No one else on that team drew much attention.

 Q:  JB from Salem, OR asks:
Where does Jairo Garcia fit into Oakland's plans? I've heard more about Huston Street lately but will Garcia eventually take over for Dotel?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Those are your two candidates for Oakland's closer of the future, though I can't imagine either getting the job in 2005. I addressed Street in the most recent Ask BA, and I think Garcia fits the more traditional power closer profile better than Street does. I can see Street setting up Garcia, though the reverse is a possibility as well.

 Q:  Jason from Salem, OR asks:
Does Kameron Loe have a chance to stay in the Ranger rotation or will he be back in AAA? What is his ceiling - 3rd starter or 5th starter?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Guys liked Juan Dominguez and Chris Young more than Loe. He throws strikes but doesn't have plus stuff, and those guys usually fit into the back of a rotation.

 Q:  Randy from Milwaukee asks:
Jim...thanks for taking my question. I've had an ongoing debate regarding the long term prospects of Casey Kotchman versus Travis Hafner from an offensive standpoint. Can you share your opinion regarding who you feel will be the better ballplayer in 2 years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I've been a big Travis Hafner fan for a while, but how do you not take Kotchman here? He's six years younger, and at the same age, Hafner was hitting .237 with 16 homers in low Class A. The only thing Kotchman has to do is stay healthy. He'll challenge for batting titles and the power will come. He's just 21, so his power will continue to increase for a while.

 Q:  Jason from Searle asks:
Will Joe Blanton be in the starting rotation in Oakland next year even if they don't move one of the Big Three?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Probably not, because Rich Harden was their best starter down the stretch and Mark Redman is still under contract, so there won't be an opening. Blanton needs more Triple-A time anyway. His stuff was solid but not overwhelming, and though he kept his walks down he still needs to locate his pitches better.

 Q:  Bob Sakamano from NY, NY asks:
I have two ex-Huskers, Dan Johnson and Jamal Strong. They seem to have accomplished everything at AAA, so I was wondering when you think they will get their chances and how good do you think they will be?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I agree on Johnson. He's ready to give the A's at least the same production that they get from Erubiel Durazo and Scott Hatteberg, so I bet Oakland declines to offer Durazo arbitration. Strong hasn't been able to stay healthy though, and the Mariners are hoping Jeremy Reed is their center fielder of the future. Seattle also has some expensive outfielders, so Strong looks like he'll have to settle for being a reserve.

 Q:  Joseph Y. from InsideThePark.com asks:
Thanks for doing the chat, as usual Jim. How far has Travis Blackley's star fallen? He said he didn't have his good changeup all year, but was doing fine anyway. Then he hit the big leagues, nibbled a lot for even a control guy, and things fell apart from there. How do you think this affects his future with the club?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Blackley's star has fallen a little, though the Mariners still have a lot of faith in him. Blackley's velocity fell to the mid-80s in the majors, so his fastball didn't have enough separation from his other pitches. That left him no margin for error, and he made a lot of mistakes up in the strike zone--and they got punished. He's still one of the top pitching prospects in the system, but needs to get his fastball and changeup back and be more aggressive.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
The only way I can see Garrett Atkins getting playing time in the Majors next season is if he is traded by the Rockies. He isn't a third baseman and Todd Helton is at first. He did play LF for the Rockies late in September, but I don't know about that move. Does he have any real trade value?
 A: 

Jim Callis: You're correct about Atkins' defensive ability. He can't play third base and he won't move Helton off first base. Left field would seem to be a stretch as well, so a trade is his best bet. He has some value, because he can hit, but scouts would like to see more power and work ethic. His numbers are nice, but remember what Jack Cust fetched in trades.

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
Where's the love for Jason Dubois? He had a monster year, is Ryan Church really a better prospect than Jason Dubois? Also, is Jason going to get a chance to take over for Alou in 2005?
 A: 

Jim Callis: If you read Ask BA, Jack, you know I love Jason Dubois. He just missed making the PCL Top 20, and I'll note that with 16 teams in the league, it was the toughest Top 20 to crack. The consensus is that Church is a better hitter than Dubois (though Dubois has more power), and he's a better runner and defender as well. His total package puts him slightly ahead of Church. If I were managing the Cubs, I'd give Dubois the chance to win the left-field job next year, but he might be more suited for first base. And the bottom line is that Dusty Baker isn't exactly known for playing kids.

 Q:  Kurt from Oklahoma City asks:
What is your take on Adrian Gonzalez? Now that he is fully healthy do you see him gaining more confidence and start hitting with more power? Where do yo see him fitting in with Texas over the next couple of years? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: His power has really regressed the last couple of years, so I can't see him pushing Mark Teixeira off first base or to DH. PCL observers were underwhelmed by him, and it's possible he becomes trade bait for some much-needed pitching in Texas.

 Q:  jason from salem, or asks:
With Jose Lopez's promotion, is he a permanent fixture at SS for the Mariners or will Adam Jones push him to another position in a couple years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A .232 average and .630 OPS in Seattle shouldn't make Lopez a permanent fixutre yet. He has an impressive array of tools and he's very young, but he's going to have to hit more than that. He's still a better hitter and defender than Adam Jones at this point, though. The Mariners do have a number of other talented shortstop prospects as well, so Lopez will have to pick it up with the stick.

 Q:  Adam from San Francisco, CA asks:
Dan Johnson at #13??? What does a 25-year old regular season and post-season PCL MVP have to do to get some respect? Johnson's put up very impressive power numbers every year in the minors (IsoP over .200 every year), has improved his plate discipline each year, and improving his numbers in each progressively more difficult league.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd counter that ranking 13th on a Triple-A Top 20 at age 25 is a sign of respect. I like Dan Johnson, he's a good player, but he's also been a little old for his leagues and has played in hitter-friendly conditions. There's nothing wrong with being ranked 13th.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Mr. Callis, it's actually the 16th chat. Now that all of the lists have been put out, here's a question: You have to make a team and you can only choose one player out of the 16 #1 prospects, who do you choose?
 A: 

Jim Callis: But we combined the Arizona League and Gulf Coast League chats, so it indeed has been 15! As for your question, I'll take Felix Hernandez, No. 1 in both the California League and the Texas League.

 Q:  Gerardo from LA asks:
Antonio Perez put up some pretty good power numbers at Las Vegas this year for a second baseman. Considering the Dodger's inability to score runs consistantly this year, will he get a shot at winning a starting role in LA next year? Do scouts expect him to continue to hit at the next level, and can he field enought to be more than a Jolbert Cabrara type utility player?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Perez deserves a shot because he'll get the job done at second base and hit more than Alex Cora. Perez could hit .275 with 15 homers and some walks, though maybe not right away. He has enough defense to be significanly better than Cabrera.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Jim, I know that Freddie Sanchez is one of your favorites, but with Jose Castillo seemingly locked in at second and Jack Wilson having just finished a career year at short, it's hard to see where Sanchez fits in Pittsburgh. It looks like he may end up as a utility guy at best. Any thoughts as to what will happen or should happen with Sanchez?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He is one of my favorites, but you're right, there isn't much opportunity in Pittsburgh. Had he not been traded andor hurt, he could have been Boston's regular second baseman this year. I still think Sanchez will provided above-average offense and competent defense for a middle infielder, but he needs an opportunity. I would see if someone would trade something for Castillo to open up second base for Sanchez.

 Q:  Bob from Palo Alto asks:
Is Burke ready to take over for Kent?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, Chris Burke is, and he'll also be significantly cheaper than Kent. He's a different type of player, a tablesetter and not a run producer, but he'll bat in one of the top two spots in Houston's order and provide much better defense than Kent.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
If the Angels decide to re-sign Troy Glaus is it possible that Dallas McPherson could fill the Angels void in LF?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes. Even if the Angels do bring Glaus back, they need to get McPherson in their lineup. They don't have anyone else with that much lefthanded power.

 Q:  Jamo Pytlak from Chandler, AZ asks:
Is there a better young hitter in baseball than Casey Kotchman? His stats are just unbelievable. I read about how Dallas McPherson and others marvel at his approach and strike zone judgement. Is it fair to say that Casey Kotchman is to first base as Joe Mauer is to catcher: well-above average defensively, and well beyond his years as a hitter? He ahs to be the best overall first base prospect in quite some years.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think all of that is very fair to say.

 Q:  Shawn from Seattle asks:
Do you think Ryan Christianson has a future in MLB or have injuries ruined him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Injuries have marred the former first-round pick's last three seasons, restricting his development, so it's hard to project him as more than a big league backup at this point.

 Q:  Eddy from Lachine, Quebec asks:
Thanks for taking my question. I realize that Dan Haren of Memphis didn't qualify this year, but where would he have ranked if eligible? Do you know whether he figures in the Cards' plans as a starter next year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Most of the best pitching prospects in the PCL didn't qualify, as Jeff Francis and Zach Greinke were in the same boat. I would have put Haren at No. 7 (right ahead of Chris Burke) or No. 8 (right ahead of Joe Blanton). The Cardinals don't have any sure things in their rotation, so I think you'll see Haren in there next year.

 Q:  Adam from San Francisco, CA asks:
What do you think of the RiverCats' John Baker? I know that the A's are stocked with catching prospects, but Baker is still only 23, and has really shot up through the organization since being drafted out of Cal.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Baker has a good line-drive bat, but his plate discipline wavered this year and I'm not sure he's good enough defensively to be a regular catcher. Worth watching, but I wouldn't call him Oakland's catcher of the future.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Jim: Thanks to BA for these chats. J.R. House put up okay numbers this year at Nashville and he still is playing most of his games at catcher. Is he back on the prospect list? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: House is re-establishing himself as a catcher, but most of what I just said about Baker can apply to House. Both might be more suited for a C1B utilityreserve role.

 Q:  Patrick McDavid from jackson mississippi asks:
The cubs have had a good minor league system for a few years now but at Iowa there is nothing. has the cubs system been overhyped? Is there anything to look forward to for this years Iowa team?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think they've been overhyped. Most of their more advanced prospects are pitchers, and they don't have a whole lot of openings in Chicago for pitchers. As for Iowa, Brendan Harris and Francis Beltran were key components in the Nomar Garciaparra trade. We've discussed Dubois, who's ready for a shot but may not get one. Jon Leicester helped out in the big league bullpen, as did Todd Wellemeyer. Sergio Mitre would be in the big league rotation for a lot of clubs. I like Ricky Nolasco, though he did get pounded in his time at Iowa. Dusty Baker isn't a huge fan of rookies, so a lot of the Iowa contributions may come as trade bait.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Clint Nageotte didn't look espically sharp as a starter for the M's this season. Aside from being the league leader in sweating do the M's now look to groom him to be a closer in waiting?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Most outside clubs thing the Mariners should give up on the idea of Nageotte as a starter and just let him throw be a power reliever with a killer slider. But Seattle still thinks he can refine his changeup and command to become a starter.

 Q:  Tyler E. Closson from Chico, California asks:
David DeJess had a great second half for Kansas City after being called up for the second time from Omaha. Do you see him being the classic leadoff hitter that the Royals have missed since Johnny Damon was traded?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say a classic leadoff hitter, but DeJesus is the best leadoff hitter they've had since Damon. He's an overachiever who gets the most out of his somewhat limited tools.

 Q:  Nick Kindig from Blacksburg, VA asks:
It appears that the A's are ready to hand the right field job to Nick Swisher. What kind of rookie season and career do you expect from him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Swisher took a big step this year in learning to use his strike-zone judgment to get pitches he can punish, rather than just drawing walks. Not sure he'll hit for a high average, but he should be a guy who annually produces good OBPs, 20-25 homers and plays a competent corner outfield. I'm not sure his arm plays in right field, though.

 Q:  Tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
Were PCL observers really that impressed with Noah Lowry when he was actually pitching in the PCL? Or was his inclusion as the #20th prospect in the league more of reflection of the work he did in the majors when called up?His scouting report didn't appear to be all that impressive. And has his change-up improved that dramatically from a year ago?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Some of each. While he doesn't have overwhelming stuff, a lefty with a plus changeup and good command can get righties out, and he has done that. His changeup has improved at least a grade, maybe two from a year ago.

 Q:  Cory from (Chicago, IL) asks:
Not a prospect anymore, but do you think Jesse Foppert still has #1 capabilities at the big league level??
 A: 

Jim Callis: If he regains the stuff he had before he got hurt, most definitely yes.

 Q:  Justin Kirk from Indianapolis asks:
I was surprised to see Juan Dominguez so high on the list with his injuries. How close was he to Blanton? Is there a big dropoff after Blanton?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Dominguez actually showed better stuff than Blanton this year, so there was no big dropoff from No. 8 to No. 9. If Dominguez had even an average breaking ball, I would have put him ahead of Blanton.

 Q:  Peter Kennedy from San Diego asks:
Is Jake Gautreau a prospect again?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Time to shift to the lightning round, because I need to get back on the phone shortly . . . Yes on Gautreau, but not a top prospect.

 Q:  Argun from Cupertino, CA asks:
If you expanded your list, how far would you have to expand it to include guys like John Gall and Jon Knott. They are both guys that, while on the old side, are both pure hitters. Gall in particular has been solid at every level up the ladder and Knott hits the snot out of the ball too. Is lack of a defensive position that big of a deal?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They'd make a Top 50. Neither is what I'd call a pure hitter, and neither has the huge power you'd want a first base, which is really where they should play. They're both probably going to be bench guys in the major leagues.

 Q:  Zack from Ft Worth asks:
Jim, thanks for the chat! Can you tell me a little about Marshall Mcdougal? What type of player is he and does he have to ability to make the Rangers next spring? Is he a utility type guy or can he somehow crake the everday line up with the Rangers? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Utility guy with some pop, probably not going to start for Texas.

 Q:  Brian Durack from Texas asks:
What happened to Adam Morrissey? Halfway through the season he looked like he could be a top-20 guy, but he fell so hard that he lost his starting spot by the end of the year.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Not ever really a Top 20 guy for me, can hit a little bit but doesn't profile well at any position.

 Q:  Ben from Washington DC asks:
Thanks for these chats. How highly did people think of Maicer Izturis? He had a great year and looks like a solid top of the order hitter (low K's...high OBP). It seems the Expos have some good young players ready with Izturis, Church and Harris.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Surprising year with the bat, but scouts aren't convinced he's totally for real. Nice pickup for the Expos but he needs to do it again. Good defender, good speed, so there might be something there.

 Q:  Tom from Niles.ILL asks:
J J Furmaniak(Padres) has put up some decent numbers the last couple of years. Has his prospect status gone up. He has shown decent power numbers and his strikeouts have gone down. Any chance for the Padres 40 man??
 A: 

Jim Callis: Has a chance after proving himself at every level, projects as a utility type.

 Q:  Mark Caliguri from Okie City asks:
Hey Jim, I have a question about our top player this season, Pete Zoccolillo. He hit 23 home runs and drove in 96, but couldn't get a sniff from the big league club or any discussion about being a prospect. Why haven't we heard much about him, and why wouldn't the Rangers use him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's 26 and his numbers aren't overwhelming for a guy that age in the PCL. There are a lot of guys with this profile in Triple-A, and they all don't get their shot.

 Q:  Blair from Angel Comeback-ville asks:
Hi Jim, great chat so far! Madritsch is way down on the list but I think he's where he belongs. He looked great against some really good teams down the stretch (Angels, A's, Red Sox), and he seems to have that chip on his shoulder a top of the rotation guy should. The M's have talked about making him a reliever. Why would they do that to one of their best starters? His lack of a breaking ball? I like him better as a starter.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Though he telegraphs his changeup, big league hitters haven't hit it, and as long as they don't he'll stay in the rotation. If they adjust to it, his lack of a breaking ball may push him to the pen, where his aggressive nature would serve him well. I won't put a 28-year-old on a league prospect list too often, but he earned it.

 Q:  Danny from San Diego asks:
Where do you see Mark Teahen fitting in on the list? Obviously he was a hyped up moneyball guy, the big ticket in the Beltran deal and hopefully KC's 3B of the future?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He'd be in the 26-35 range if I went that low. His power tailed off after he arrived from Double-A, he's a solid but not tremendous defender, looks like his ceiling is as an average big league regular.

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
What is your opinion of Sergio Mitre? He looked great in Iowa, didn't do very well in Chicago. But I heard Hendry refused to include him in trade talks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I almost put him on the list and he'd be in the 21-25 range. Mitre gets lost in the shuffle with all of Chicago's pitching prospects, but he has an average fastball, a good slider and his changeup might be his best pitch. He's trapped in Chicago but could be attractive to other clubs.

Moderator: Thanks for all the great questions and thank to all our readers for their participation in 15 (yes, 15) chats in 15 business days. You're participation and feedback makes it all the more rewarding.

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