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Draft Chat With Jim Callis
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Moderator: Jim is stuck in traffic right now, but he's almost back to his swanky abode. ETA approximately 3:15 p.m. ET

 Q:  Mickey Hall from Augusta, GA asks:
You mentioned in Thursdays Ask BA that former Boston Scouting Director David Chadd has left the organization to accept a similar position with the Detroit Tigers. Following national cross-checker Curtis Dishmans August, 2003 firing and director of international scouting Louie Eljauas January departure for the Pittsburgh Pirates, three prominent members of the Red Sox scouting operations all former Marlins scouts have left the organization over the past 15 months. Is this exodus an effect of Bostons increased focus on drafting college talent or evidence of a struggle between the teams former Florida owner and its increasingly San Diego-dominated front office?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm back in my swanky abode. None of the people who have left the Boston scouting department have said much publicly. But if you look at how Boston focused on high school players in 2002, their first draft with David Chadd as scouting director, and has gone almost solely with college picks the last two years, it would be reasonable to assume that the philosophy they were asked to follow changed after they were hired. Eljaua worked with Pirates GM Dave Littlefield in Florida, as Chadd did with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski there. There were rumors that Chadd was going to make the move to Detroit as early as last summer.

 Q:  Brent from Greenwich, CT asks:
Could you give me an update on Phil Humber and the other first round picks. I thought they would all fall into place after Verlander signed? Whats the latest?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I expect Humber (No. 3, Mets), Jeff Niemann (No. 4, Devil Rays), Jered Weaver (No. 12, Angels) and Stephen Drew (No. 15, Diamondbacks) all will sign, but there's no impetus on either side to get a deal done much before spring training. I think they'll sign in this order--Humber, Niemann, Drew, Weaver--with the bonuses going up with each deal. I bet at least three and probably all four of them will get big league contracts.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
What is the ETA for Nick Adenhart's debut as a professional?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He had surgery in May, so he should be able to get on a mound sometime next summer but probably won't be at full strength until 2006. The track record of coming back from Tommy John surgery is so good that it's reasonable to be optimistic, and that's why the Angels invested $710,000 and a 14th-round pick in him.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Back in June on the Draft Day Blog, a comment was made that several scouts believed Dexter Fowler would need at least two years at Rookie ball to correct his swing. Is that still the line of thought?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't know if he'll need two full years, but the consensus among scouts is that he'll need to make some adjustments to hit in pro ball. The same thing was said about Phillies first-rounder Greg Golson, and he apparently has done a good job of making those corrections.

 Q:  Kevin from Springifeld, MA asks:
Which LHP do you like better, David Purcey, Taylor Tankersley or Zach Jackson?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Purcey has the best arm of that group, though he also has a track record of inconsistency. He seemed to turn the corner in 2004, so I'd bet on his arm.

 Q:  Paul Colbert from Tigerscentral.com asks:
How about a quick top five and bottom five ratings for the teams? My guess is my Tigers would rank in the lower half of the ratings. Maybe our drafting will improve with the new guys but I hear Chadd doesn't "hang" around in Florida too much.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I ranked the top five drafts in the overview you can link to on our homepage: Twins, Royals, Dodgers, Athletics, Rockies. But honestly, it's hard to know with any real certainty how good these drafts are at this point. For that reason, we stopped singling out clubs as having the worst drafts. At this point, the drafts generally make one of three impressions on me: good draft, OKsolid draft, not-so-good draft. It would be nearly impossible to rank them from 1-30 very well. All that wishy-washiness aside, I thought the Tigers had a solid draft. Justin Verlander has an electric arm, though I would have liked to see more consistent success at Old Dominion. Eric Beattie is a polished righthander and Jeff Frazier is an athletic outfielder. All three of those guys are college picks who could move relatively quickly. Dallas Trahen was a late-round steal in the 34th after Detroit did good homework on him.

 Q:  Dave from Chicago asks:
Hey Jim, Where do you think Mike Rozier will start next season? Is low-A Capital City an option? Do you think Dustin Pedroia will move to 2B and play with Hanley Ramirez next season?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Low Class A Capital City is the most likely option for Rozier, who got a record $1.575 million from Boston as a 12th-rounder. The Red Sox believe Pedroia can stick at shortstop and will try to keep him there. I think you'll see them try to put Ramirez in Triple-A and Pedroia in Double-A, so both can play shortstop.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
where would the orioles draft rank if wade townsend were signed?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Without Townsend and no second-rounder, the Orioles draft looks weak right now, even with OF/C Jeff Fiorentino and LHP Dave Haehnel. With Townsend, who arguably would have been their No. 1 overall prospect and certainly their best pitching prospect, it would have been an OKsolid draft. This is what can happen when an owner messes up your strategy after the draft already has begun. Former scouting director Tony DeMacio wanted to pick Chris Nelson, and passing him up is going to look really bad in the future when Nelson becomes an all-star.

 Q:  Vandy Fan from Nashville asks:
Do you think the success of Dustin Pedroia helps the Draft status of equally undersized Warner Jones from Vanderbilt ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Not particularly. Yes, Pedroia is another example of how size isn't everything. But Jones can't play shortstop, and Pedroia's chance to do so is part of his appeal.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Hi Jim. Thanks as always for the chats. You've done a good job debunking the notion that high school pitchers are as risky of a high draft pick as many believe. However, if one team specifically has a problem developing prep pitchers, such as the Brewers (JM Gold, Nick Neugebauer and now Mike Jones), would you recommend that they may want to steer clear of such selections? If Mark Rogers does eventually make it up some day, could his success alone make those previous failures irrelevant?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd sum up my philosophy as this: You should draft talent (that's tools and performance), not just demographics. I really think it depends more on the individual pitcher. It's not like the Brewers consistently overworked Gold, Neugebauer and Jones and destroyed their arms. A lot of teams in the top 10 coveted Mark Rogers. If he reaches his considerable ceiling, it will make the failed pitching prospects that much easier to forget.

 Q:  Bill from Chicago asks:
Some of the Chicago newspaper reports have mentioned that Eric Patterson is faster than his brother Corey, and yet BA mentions that Eric is only rated a 65 out of 80 for speed. When watching Corey, it appears that he is one of the fastest players in the NL, so how can Eric only be a 65? Also, will Eric have more plate dicipline than Corey?...please say "yes"
 A: 

Jim Callis: Eric isn't faster than Corey. They're similar players but Corey is more talented. I don't think there are any indications that Eric has a lot more patience.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Where is Mark Trumbo expected to start the 2005 season? Is he ready to hold down 3b as a pro?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Angels think he'll fit nicely at third base, though he has yet to play their extensively. A possible first-round pick as a pitcher, he obviously has the arm strength. He'll probably make his debut in low Class A.

 Q:  Tom Merrick from Jamestown, ND asks:
Doesn't Stephen Drew seem to be asking for far more than his value from the DBacks? He doesn't look to be a future all-star, but seeks that kind of money. He may be the best of a mediocre draft for position players, but I hope the DBacks show some fiscal responsibility. Would they really suffer that much of a setback if he doesn't sign?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Some scouts question Drew's desire (like they do with his brother J.D.) and some think he might fit better at second base or in center field than at shortstop, but no one questions his hitting ability and athleticism. He certainly has all-star potential. Would I give him a $6 million or $7 million major league contract if I were running a team? No, I'd have probably taken a less costly player. But if you're the Diamondbacks, who just posted the worst record in baseball, and you trade a guy who was one of the top five players in the 2004 draft for a pick in the 40s in the 2005 draft, that's a huge, huge dropoff.

 Q:  darren from eugene asks:
I've heard that the Royals have worked Billy Butler out in the outfield and at 1st, but you guys said he's still at 3rd. What position will he play next year and will he stay there?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Royals will give him every chance to stay at third base and he should begin 2005 there. In the long run, he probably has to move to left field or first base, but Kansas City will see if he can remain a third baseman.

 Q:  Mark from Madison, WI asks:
Hi Jim, Will the unsigned 1st round draft choices go back to school in January so they can play their college seasons? If they return to school, where would the 4 rate in next year's draft? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: If they did go back, they'd all rank right at the top of the 2005 draft prospect list. But I seriously doubt any of them are going back to class.

 Q:  Matthias Peters-Kroll from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
If Jered Weaver signs in the spring does he start in AA and with any sustained success get a callup?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I always advocate starting a guy where you're certain he'll have success, so I'd probably start him in high Class A. Weaver is advanced, but I wouldn't bank on him pitching in the majors in his first pro season.

 Q:  Matthias Peters-Kroll from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
Where would Matt Bush have been picked as a pitcher?
 A: 

Jim Callis: We'll go back to Matthias for another question. Bush, who has tons of arm strength, could have gone in the first three rounds as a pitcher.

 Q:  Mark from LA asks:
It can't be easy to rate these drafts so closely after the fact. How would you rate the top drafts 1-5 for the two years before this, now that we've had a chance to see them develop, and how close are they to the original rankings?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I regraded all the 2002 drafts for our Prospect Handbook before the season. I haven't regraded them again for the next edition yet, but the 2002 drafts I liked the best were the three I gave an A (Cubs, Devil Rays, Dodgers). I handed out eight B-pluses, and looking at them quickly, the best of that group probably were the Braves, Marlins and Royals (for Zack Greinke alone). At the time, I rated the five best drafts in this order: Blue Jays, Indians, Devil Rays, Dodgers, Cubs. That actually correlated a little better than I would have thought.

 Q:  Jim from Washington, DC asks:
The Royals drafted a lot of pitchers in early rounds, from soft-tossing lefties (Campbell, Howell) to hard-throwing righties (Cordier, Barrera)? How did they do overall? Were Campbell and Howell overdrafted because they are polished prospects, but their ceiling is too low?
 A: 

Jim Callis: As I mentioned earlier, I really liked the Royals' draft and ranked them as the second best (helped in part, by all of their extra picks). Howell doesn't light up a radar gun, but I think he's a little underrated. His ability to add and subtract from all of his pitches is similar to Greinke's, he's lefthanded, he has nasty offspeed pitches and he has a lot of heart. Add all that up, and he has a nice ceiling.

 Q:  Colin from Mounds View, MN asks:
Jim thanks for taking our questions today. The Twins drafted alot of pitchers with thier early picks. Was that the best way to use their extra picks this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: For the Twins, yes. Their system is stronger in position players, and though there's a higher attrition rate with pitchers, they needed some. There's an old saying that you need 10 pitching prospects to find two good major league pitchers, and Minnesota is loading up on pitching prospects.

 Q:  Danny from Toronto asks:
Will the blue Jays receive any compensation for losing Carlos Delgado should they lose him to free agency? And, considering the Jays are drafting 6th next year, what and whom in your opinion do you think the Jays will draft, and what is there greatest need? Thanks Jim.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Delgado is a Type A free agent, which would garner the Jays a first-round pick from the team that signs him (or a second-rounder, if that first-round is in the Top 15) and a supplemental first-round choice. But Toronto would have to offer Delgado arbitration to get compensation. Too early to say who clubs are zeroing in on, but with the Jays, I'd expect it to be a college player.

Moderator: Jim has to duck out for 15 minutes, then he'll be back to take more questions at about 4:35 ET.

 Q:  Peter from Michigan asks:
What kind of curve ball does Justin Verlander have? Is it a strike out pitch? Compare it to some of the other top pitchers in the draft like Niemann, etc... Also is his change up an above average pitch.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Verlander has a curveball that can be devastating at times but it's also inconsistent. At its best, it's one of the best breaking balls in the draft. But it's not as reliable as, say, Niemann's. His changeup has a ways to go.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Why would the MLB go against Townsend and the O's when all he wanted to do was finish school? Doesn't this send a bad message to kids? He wasn't trying to play ball or use school as a bargaining chip. I just don't get it.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think it's great that Wade Townsend decided to finish his degree rather then sit around while negotiating with the Orioles. But the rule states that a team loses the rights to a player when he attends a class at a four-year college. The ruling seemed pretty obvious to me, even if Townsend and his agent wanted to argue over the semantics of the word "player."

 Q:  Lance from Dallas asks:
Hey Jim! Does Clint Brannon have a shot to pitch in the big leagues? I read were he seldom reaches 86 mph on his fastball, did he just out smart the young hitters at class A and will the more experienced hitters figure him out? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Brannon set a Northwest League ERA record, but his stuff is kind of fringy. He needs to show he can have that kind of success against more experienced hitters.

 Q:  Mike from Maryland asks:
Any chance the Rangers sign Justin Maxwell before next years draft? Or can they? It seems he had a tough season with injuries so will healthy spring mean the Rangers might over pay to sign him? Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: No, Maxwell has returned to Maryland and no longer can sign with the Rangers. However, if he returns to school as a fifth-year senior after the 2005 draft, whoever drafts him will control his rights.

 Q:  Joseph Rentz from Ridgecrest California asks:
Is the Dodgers inability to sign Joe Savery going to hurt the Dodgers much ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: No. The Dodgers would have loved to sign Savery, but he was pretty intent on going to Rice and couldn't be swayed. They only spent a 15th-round pick on him, and a 15th-rounder usually returns nothing. Don't be surprised if he's a first-rounder in three more years.

 Q:  Galen from Cedar Rapids asks:
How would you rank the following shortstops in terms of potential. Trevor Plouffe, Dustin Perodia, Chris Nelson and Matt Bush. Thanks, Galen
 A: 

Jim Callis: In terms of ceiling, it would be Nelson, Plouffe, Bush, Pedroia. I think Nelson is going to be a star. Pedroia is the most advanced and the safest pick of the bunch, and he'll probably outperform one of the three high schoolers.

 Q:  Thomas from Boston asks:
Hey Jim, Just wanted to hear your thoughts on any Ivy League ball players who have a shot at being picked in June. Are scouts giving Ivy League baseball a closer look with the recent success of BJ Syzmanski, Ross Ohlendorf and Thomas Pauly?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Ivy League isn't as deep as say, the SEC, but scouts know there's talent there. We don't have an Ivy Leaguer listed among our top 150 college prospects for 2005 at this point, but they tend to emerge late (like Szymanski did last year).

 Q:  Bryan Smith from Wait 'Til Next Year asks:
Jim, thanks as always for a great chat. If Weaver and Drew sign, I would imagine they look to be the two most Major League-ready players in the draft. Who are the next 3 most likely to hit the Majors before anyone else? Zeringue, Humber, Sowers?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I considered the still-negotiating first-rounders when I did our Overview, and I listed the five closest 2004 picks in this order: Huston Street, Jered Weaver, Jeremy Sowers, Stephen Drew, Jeff Niemann. Philip Humber would be right behind them. Wouldn't surprise me at all if Street opens 2005 in Oakland's bullpen, and one scout I talked to in Arizona last week said he thought the A's would have made the playoffs had they promoted Street as a bullpen reinforcement in September.

 Q:  Pops from St. Louis, MO asks:
If you had to chose, who would you take out of Mark Rogers and David (Homer) Bailey? What if I add Andrew Miller (NC) to the mix?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Geez, that's a tough one. I'd take Andrew Miller, who won't be eligible until 2006, because he's lefthanded and has proven himself at a higher level.

 Q:  Bob from Seattle asks:
Thanks for taking the questions. When do you see Matt Tuiasosopo making it to the Mariners? They could use a hometown boost!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Great move by the Mariners, who didn't have a pick in the first two rounds, to spend the money to grab Tuiasosopo in the third. But after tearing up the Arizona League, he did slow down in the Northwest League, so he's going to need at least 2-3 years in the minors.

 Q:  Andrew from TN asks:
Is Josh Fields going to be a better hitter than Joe Crede? I'm guessing the White Sox drafted him as Crede's replacement to hopefully get more offense at the position.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I thought Crede would be a better hitter than he has been, but Fields has more offensive potential than Crede showed on the way up. Crede has been a major reason why the White Sox have underachieved in recent years, and he's running out of time. Fields could be ready by mid-2006.

 Q:  james from Stockton asks:
Do you think Oakland's Dallas Braden has a chance to play in the Big Leagues? How close was he to being in the top 5 late round picks? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, and very close. A 24th-rounder, Braden has a nifty screwball and added velocity after he signed.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Hi Jim, A general question. When looking back on a draft, how many MLB players should a draft produce to be considered a good one in your opinion?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Not as many as you'd think. A typical draft produces maybe 3-5 stars, another 10 or so good players, and maybe another 20 solid or useful big leaguers. If you come out with one good or better player, you're truly ahead of the game. You win with stars, but depth is also valuable to fill in holes and to use as trade fodder. So ideally you'd like to find 4-5 big league players to go with your centerpiece.

 Q:  Dave Regan from Ventura, CA asks:
Logan White. Best amateur draft guru in baseball?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Logan would deflect a lot of credit to his scouts and say the Dodgers' drafts are the work of a lot more than one guy. In any case, I think it's very fair to say that in the three years he has run drafts, no team has outdrafted Los Angeles.

Moderator: That's it for Jim, who's got to go back to working on the 2005 Prospect Handbook. He says that if anyone wants to follow up with more draft questions, send them for Ask BA (include your full name and hometown) to askba@baseballamerica.com. Thanks!

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