College/Draft Chat

Jim Callis and Aaron Fitt chatted on June 12




Moderator: With the draft wrapped up and the College World Series getting ready to start, we have a combo-chat today. Aaron Fitt will chat about the College World Series beginning at 1 p.m. ET, while Jim Callis will answer draft questions beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Ask your questions for either now.

    Rob Studer (St. Joseph, MO): I went to the CWS last year and got to see a 'game changer' in Gordon Beckham. Who are three players in this years' field that I should watch for as 'big stage' players? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: Hi everyone, let's get going and see how much ground we can cover before the State of Baseball press conference starts up here at Rosenblatt Stadium. Rob, for my money, the most exciting player in this field is Virginia sophomore center fielder Jarrett Parker. This guy's a true five-tool talent, and he's constantly making things happen, either with his bat, his legs or his glove. Jason Kipnis is a similar player who makes a similar impact at the college level, though I don't think he can quite match Parker's star potential at the big league level. And, of course, you'll get to watch the best hitter in college baseball—North Carolina's Dustin Ackley. That guy is a game-changer, without question.

    Phil (Chandler, AZ): Mike Leake was discussed as throwing a lot of innings in college - as if that is a negative. While he did have two games of high (probably too high) pitch counts, for the most part, Leake is a very efficient pitcher with lower pitch counts. Wouldn't scouts rather look at pitch counts and pitches thrown rather than innings pitched?

Aaron Fitt: It's an important distinction, Phil, and I think if scouts thought he was drastically overworked, there's no way he would have gone eighth overall. A greater concern: If the Sun Devils make a deep run in Omaha, I have a strong feeling Leake will be coming back on short rest, whether in relief or a starting role. But ASU's coaches realize what's at stake for Leake, and I imagine they'll be careful not to push him too much.

    Nate (College Park): Why did the braves pick Mike Minor? He seems like a limited upside guy that will move quickly through the minors and the braves are one of a handful of teams that don't need any immediate starting pitching help.

Aaron Fitt: Nate, I wondered about that myself. For an organization that has gone to the high-upside high schoolers well more than any other, I thought that was peculiar move; it's not like they took a chance on a potential star from the college ranks like Grant Green or even a Brett Jackson type. I really like Minor, and I think he'll be a big leaguer, but the consensus is simply that he's not a front-of-the-rotation guy. If I'm picking in the top 10, I want a guy with star potential, and I don't think Minor fits that description.

    Kristin (Chicago): Where's the Rosenblog? It's my favorite part of this site during the CWS.

Aaron Fitt: It's coming, don't worry! We'll get that baby humming along starting today.

    Steven Matz (Flushing, NY): Was I worth the 72nd pick by the Mets or should they have gone for a better talent with signability issues?

Aaron Fitt: I've got no problem with the Matz pick; he does have a lot of upside, and the consensus in the Northeast was that he was a late second- to third-round talent. Matz has run his fastball up to 94 from the left side and shown a good breaking ball at times, and there's tons of projection with him.

    Jon Bell (McChord AFB, WA): What has to go right for Arkansas to upset CSF tomorrow?

Aaron Fitt: Dallas Keuchel has to be really, really on his game. He's got to keep the Fullerton running game in check, which he should be able to at least a bit as a veteran lefthander. I expect the Razorbacks to score a few runs, so the question will be whether they can hold down CSF's red-hot offense? I certainly wouldn't bet on it, but it all hinges on Keuchel.

    Doug Corbett (Charlottesville, VA): What does UVA need to do to win the CWS

Aaron Fitt: Keep on keepin' on. Virginia has played like a national championship-caliber team over the last three weeks. Beating LSU in the opener will be critical, because while UVa. has one of the deeper staffs in Omaha, I'm still not convinced it's deep enough to run through the loser's bracket. Fortunately, I think Danny Hultzen gives the Cavs a real, real good shot in that opener. In fact, I'm picking UVa. to beat LSU in that first game.

    John R (Houston): What is the chance Ryan Berry goes back to school next year? Do you think it was a good pick by the Orioles?

Aaron Fitt: I can tell you this: the Orioles would not have drafted Berry in the ninth round if they didn't think they could sign him. According to some scouts, Berry was telling clubs earlier this spring that he would not sign unless he was drafted in the first round (even if he were offered first-round money later in the draft, which doesn't make much sense to me), but perhaps that position has softened somewhat. I do think there's a real chance he could go back to school, but I know the Orioles were ecstatic to get him where they did. That one's a coin flip, if you ask me. I do think it was a great pick for Baltimore; the O's got a guy who looked like a first-rounder in March, but they got him in the ninth round. Great value, and even if they don't sign him, it was worth taking a shot.

    Arthur (Chapel Hill, NC): Hi Aaron, UNC pitching and hitting have both been pretty impressive lately (not that ASU's haven't been), and I like the fact that UNC's entire order is producing right now. If ASU throws Leake vs UNC and White, who do you like to win that contest?

Aaron Fitt: That's a pick 'em; I would pick UNC, but John Manuel has said he would pick Arizona State. I just think North Carolina's Omaha experience could loom large against that very young ASU team. And I feel like White usually peaks this time of year (he looked very good last week), while the less-physical Leake might be more likely to feel the effects of his heavy workload (and he wasn't as sharp last week as he has been all season). Don't forget, Leake has thrown 133 innings this year, and White has thrown 98. I'll take the bigger, fresher pitcher who has more explosive stuff anyway.

    Carlos (San Diego, CA): It seems the Padres rolled the dice in the draft taking Tate and another toolsy high school outfielder (E. Williams). I admire their newfound moxy but how risky are these picks and what are the best and worst case scenarios for each player?

Aaron Fitt: I think the Tate pick was really risky, largely because he's going to be a very, very difficult sign. Scouts down in Georgia have serious questions about whether he's actually mentally ready to go out and play pro ball right now. Of course, the Padres can probably afford to make their best run at him, and if it doesn't work out they can take the compensation pick in next year's loaded draft. Obviously that situation is not ideal, because first of all they like Tate and he has a ton of upside, second of all you want to get your top picks in your system and progressing as soon as you can, and third you lose leverage with your compensation pick since you lose it if you don't sign the player. But I expect a couple of first-round negotiations this year to go that route, and there's a chance it could happen with Tate. More to your question, there is risk even if he does sign, because his bat is by no means a sure thing. Still, I really like San Diego's approach this year; grabbing safer lower-upside college players has really not panned out over the last few years, so what did they have to lose by being aggressive and going after these intriguing prep talents? Williams, by the way, was a great value at pick No. 52; he has first-round talent.

Aaron Fitt: OK everyone, sorry to make this short and sweet, but that's all I've got time for today. Enjoy the College World Series, and keep those comments coming over on the Rosenblog. Hang tight for a few minutes, and Jim Callis will be along shortly.

    Peter Friberg (San Diego): Did you see Matzek's interview on MLB TV on day 1 refer to Oregon & playing 1B. How likely is it he doesn't want to pitch in Colorado (Padre fan here - I love the Rockies fist 3 picks)?

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone, Jim Callis taking over for Aaron now. I can't believe he just picked Mike Leake not to win! And I'll throw in my two cents on Berry—I don't think he'll sign. He wanted to go in the top two rounds and his shoulder is too iffy to give him that kind of money . . . Now on to Peter's question. I wouldn't read too much into Matzek's comment. He looked like a high school kid caught in the headlights during that interview. My question, and I don't know the answer yet, is how much Matzek and the Rockies talked before the draft. Clubs were told it would take precedent-setting money to sign him, which means more than $7 million. Can't see the Rockies really spending that much, and they may have just taken him and will see where negotiations take them. I don't think he's shying away from Colorado, but he won't be an easy sign.

    Ace (Detroit, MI): Was it true that the Royals were considering taking Wil Myers in the 1st round at #12 and if so was it a great bargain to grab him in the 3rd rounds? Is it possible Myers sticks as a Catcher?

Jim Callis: I heard they talked money with Myers at No. 12 and couldn't reach an agreement. Whether they would have taken him over Aaron Crow remains to be seen, but as it turned out they got both. Reported asking price on Myers is $2 million. If they sign him, that's a bargain talent-wise for a third-rounder. He should hit, has a good chance to stick at catcher, and is athletic enough to play a variety of other positions if he has to move. He won't just be relegated to first base.

    Richard (Boston): Jim, please discuss the Redsox draft picks, specifically players that fall into the "signability" category. They apparently have already signed their 10th round pick for second round money, and I am looking to see what other impact players they selcted this year.

Jim Callis: Sure. Hadn't seen that they had signed football standout Brandon Jacobs in the 10th round, but I'll take your word for it. Other big-ticket draftees for the Red Sox include Texas A&M RHP Alex Wilson (second round; wanted $1.5 million and turned down $600,000 last summer); Mississippi HS SS/RHP/QB David Renfroe (third round; similar to 2008 first-rounder Casey Kelly and it may cost the same $3 million to sign him); South Carolina HS RHP Madison Younginer (seventh round; ranked No. 50 by BA in our final predraft rankings); and Baylor RHP Kendal Volz (ninth round; projected as a possible top 10 pick before a disappointing junior season).

    Steve (Wilmington): My favorite team (the Phillies) seemed to manage the draft so that they wouldn't go overslot with their first 4 picks (Rounds 2-5) but then might go over slot in later rounds. Is there something to this? I believe they will break slot in this draft. Does it matter to the Commissioner when (or where) you break slot?

Jim Callis: I think the Phillies are going to be aggressive. MLB doesn't want clubs busting slot, so where they do doesn't matter, though it gets more expensive closer to the top of the draft. And I don't agree on rounds 2-5, as I think OF Kyrell Hudson (third round) is going to get an above-slot deal. I think you're right about them busting slot in the later rounds, with guys like Louisiana HS RHP Brody Colvin (seventh round), California HS 1B Jonathan Singleton (eighth) and California HS C Andrew Susac (16th).

    Jeff (San Marcos, CA): The Padres have to be one of the winners in the draft. Tate and Williams were good but I like Keyvius Sampson at four. James Needy at six has ton of upside. Kendall Korbal and Lollis are player that can be a steal.

Jim Callis: This isn't your father's Padres draft. They were very aggressive this year and chased a lot of upside. There's some risk involved, sure, but potentially a ton of reward. Georgia HS outfielder Donavan Tate was the best athlete in the draft, and while I personally wouldn't have picked him at No. 3, he certainly has the tools to merit the selection. I thought Texas HS Everett Williams was a cinch first-rounder. Of all the athletic outfielders in this draft, he's the best hitter. Can't believe the Padres got him at No. 52. I liked several of their later picks as well.

    JC (St. Louis): What do you think Shelby Miller will require to sign him? Slot for #19 is roughly $1.4M but he is rumored to want roughly $4M. Arguably a Top 10 talent in the draft he will command more than the $1.4M. So you see a common ground? Maybe $3M? Thanks Jim!

Jim Callis: I think the Cardinals will get him signed, for a figure closer to the slot ($1.386 million, by my calculations) than to his $4 million asking price. And he's a great value talent-wise at No. 19.

    Derick (PA): Hey Jim, I'm wondering how you grade the Orioles draft. I think Hobgood, regardless of what Joe Jordan says, was a signability issue. Let's just say that's the case, if so, did Baltimore make up for by drafting any high upside guys who are considered tough signs, or is their budget down for this years draft? I really like the Givens pick, as well as Berry from Rice.

Jim Callis: No team is going to come out and say, "Our first-rounder was a signability guy." I believe the Orioles legitimately liked Hobgood, and I believe we underrated him in our rankings a little, but he was at best the sixth-best HS pitcher in the draft—and he went No. 5. It's no coincidence that he'll probably sign for below-slot money ($2.25 million) at No. 5, and the five elite HS arms wouldn't. SS Mychal Givens is a high-upside pick in the second round. As I said earlier, I don't see Berry signing. But San Jacinto (Texas) JC RHP Jacob Cowan could be a steal in the 10th round.

    Steve (Virginia): Jim, whats your take on the Pirates draft. I know Sanchez is a reach but considering what they did later, do you think they have one of the top classes?

Jim Callis: We need to see who winds up signing. Sanchez was an overdraft, but the Pirates have vowed that wasn't a financial move. They didn't think the options who fit their talent wise were worth their asking prices, and they saved on Sanchez to spend elsewhere. Essentially, it's as if they traded the No. 4 pick for a couple of late first-rounders, assuming they get guys signed. Overall, I liked their other picks, and they have several signability guys who will be very nice signs if they land them, among them Louisiana HS RHP Zack Von Rosenberg (sixth round), Arizona HS RHP Trent Stevenson (seventh), Texas HS LHP Colton Cain (eighth) and Florida OF Matt den Dekker (16th).

    Adam (Warehouse North): Jim, What's the draft like for you and seeing how all the information you've received plays out? Do you find there were players who may have been a little higher or lesser regarded than you were led to believe? Thanks.

Jim Callis: It is fun seeing where guys go when the draft actually starts. We get feedback all spring on our ratings, so we knew the industry liked Matt Hobgood higher than we had him ranked. Also cool to see John Manuel stick his neck out on a guy like Florida HS OF LeVon Washington, get told that we have him too high, then see him go in the first round. I worked the phones furiously until 90 minutes before the draft to find out how picks would play out, then had to go into rehearsals for the draft show on MLB Network. I knew the first seven picks before they happened, but didn't know the Reds would pass on Alex White, apparently for financial reasons. At that point, the draft really got interesting for me.

    Kyle (Illinois): What was your take on the Cardinals draft?

Jim Callis: Loved the Shelby Miller pick at No. 19, as stated. Not sure I buy Southern California's Robert Stock (second round) as a catcher, but he may be an interesting pitcher if he's willing to do that. Relievers Joe Kelly (third) and Scott Bittle (fourth) could get to St. Louis quick. Rest of the draft looks solid, but the definite highlight was stealing Miller at No. 19. That, and former BA staffer Matt Blood getting four draftees in his first year as a Cardinals area scout.

    Mookie (Queens, NY): Can the Mets and other teams afford to lose their first round pick every year and still hope to have a decent farm system?

Jim Callis: Sure, provided your willing to spend on first-round talents who fall in the draft. The Mets haven't shown much willingness to do that, though.

    Mark (NYC): Look at the Red Sox draft and what they will spend and what the Yankees drafted and what they will spend. What happened with Yanks?? The Sox may spend 2 times what the Yankees will spend and maybe more. Have the Yanks become a small market team in the draft??

Jim Callis: Yankees? Small market? Ha. The Yankees may have a tighter budget than they've had in the past, but they'll still spend more than the average club. Don't be surprised if first-rounder Slade Heathcott costs close to $2.5 million. But you're not alone, Mark. I'm getting lots of e-mail fans from Yankees fans unhappy about their draft relative to Boston's.

    Mike (Phoenix): Is it just me, or would a combination of Mike Leakes intangibles combined with Steven Strasburghs stuff, be the best pitcher ever?

Jim Callis: Well, Strasburg's intangibles aren't horrible and he's still considered the best draft pitcher ever without Leake's. But I know what you're saying. Leake might have the best makeup in the draft. I hope Aaron Fitt apologizes to him after he beats the Tar Heels.

    Jude (Ft. Lauderdale, FL): What are the chances that Bryce Harper gets his GED to become eligible for next year's draft?

Jim Callis: The GED alone wouldn't make Harper eligible, because his high school class wouldn't have graduated. The GED would, however, allow him to play in junior college, and all juco players are eligible. I'll be shocked if Harper doesn't take this path. He'll be the top prospect for the 2010 draft, well ahead of the field much the same way Strasburg was this year.

    Brian (Phoenix): Any idea on Chris Dwyer's asking price and do you like the Royals selection of him in the 4th round?

Jim Callis: I don't know his asking price. He does have extra leverage as the rare freshman-eligible, but at the same time he's also 21 and he's not going to have a ton of leverage as a 23-year-old junior in two years. I do like the pick, thought he was a sandwich/second-round talent, so that's good value.

    Doug (Motown): Scheppers lasted a long time for a guy who hit a 100mph last weekend. Hard to believe nobody took a chance on him before that. Do you think there are medical issues that we as fans just don't know about?

Jim Callis: Scheppers could be a huge steal at No. 44. I don't think there's a medical issue we don't know about—we know about his shoulder, which knocked him out of the top 10 picks in 2008. He got a clean bill of health from Dr. Lewis Yocum this spring, but teams are still wary of shoulder issues. I also don't think there was a good sense of his asking price even a day before the draft.

    Bob (CA): No prospect hot sheet this week?

Jim Callis: You'll get a PHS later today. Webmaster J.J. Cooper is slaving away on the draft and the College World Series, but it's on his to-do list for the site.

    Nate (Minneapolis): Do you think that Gibson was worth the risk for the Twins? And what kind of potential does he have?

Jim Callis: Loved that pick, and a lot of you know I love Kyle Gibson as a prospect. If he were healthy, he would have been my personal No. 4 pick behind Strasburg, Ackley and Matzek. I wonder if the Pirates would have taken a healthy Gibson at No. 4. It's a stress fracture in his forearm, it's not his shoulder or elbow, it doesn't require surgery. I think that's going to be a great pick for the Twins.

    vinny (long island ny): who does slade heathcott compare to at the major league level?

Jim Callis: I'm not saying he's good, but his huge upside as a two-way player makes me think of Josh Hamilton issue. So do his makeup issues, though they're nowhere near as severe as Hamilton's were.

    Brad (Phoenix): Why did Deven Marrero slip so low in the draft? Do you think he will end up at ASU now?

Jim Callis: The answer to this type of question almost always is signability. He went in the 17th round to the Reds, and I don't know his asking price. But the Reds aren't really a big-budget draft team, so if I have to guess, I think he does become a Sun Devil.

    Brady (Dallas): Thoughts on the Rangers picking Purke over Miller? Good choice?

Jim Callis: They're very close in talent. I think Purke is a little better, either would have been a fine choice.

    Pete (Albany, NY): Hi Jim. What do you think about the Braves draft? Seems like they went in a new direction with a lot of college picks. Did any impact bats, which they greatly need to develop throughout the system, jump out at you? Any other interesting picks with high upside?

Jim Callis: Few teams scout junior colleges as thoroughly as the Braves, and for the second straight year, they pounded juco picks in the draft. I'll be honest, I don't love their draft at this point. They limited themselves to slot guys at No. 7, and while I acknowledge that Vanderbilt lefty Mike Minor can pitch, he doesn't blow me away that high in the draft. The first position player they draft, juco SS Mycal Jones (fourth) is more of an athlete than a hitter, and I don't see that impact bat you're looking for.

    Ryan (PA): Hey Jim, Is there any comparison between Mike Stanton coming out of HS and Kelly Dugan? Or does it end at that they went to the same HS?

Jim Callis: Not really. Dugan, the Phillies' top choice (second round), is a good athlete, but Stanton is a great athlete. Not comparable.

    Joseph (Fort Worth, TX): Thanks for the chat Jim! I know Tommy Medonca has power and solid defense, but do you think he will ever hit enough to be a solid big league regular?

Jim Callis: That's the big question. Don't mind the pick at all in the second round, but his ability to make consistent contact is an issue.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): Jim, Does it make sense for the Indians to declare immediately that they want to convert both Alex White and Joe Gardner into relievers? Is that the best role for both? How does it affect signing negotiations?

Jim Callis: I haven't seen that quote but I've been asked about it a few times. I definitely see that as Gardner's role, because he's more of a one-pitch guy. Several clubs projected that White might end up in the bullpen, but I'd give him every chance to start first.

    Alex (STL): I read some reports that Shelby Miller struggled in his last couple of starts with command and velocity. Is this why he fell and is he healthy? Thanks!

Jim Callis: No. It was all signability after he asked for $4 million shortly before the draft. He pitched on short rest in his final outing but before that his pure stuff (moreso than command) looked very, very good.

    Deanna (DC): Would Harper have gone #2 this year if he were in the draft?

Jim Callis: Yes, unless signability scared the Mariners off.

    Derick (PA): It seems to me that Aaron Crow would have made a lot more sense for Baltimore at #5 than Hobgood. I say this only because Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta, and Patton will probably be in Baltimore at some point next year and Erbe not too far behind, I believe Crow could get there around the same time. That'd be a pretty darn rotation and, to me, make more sense than having Hobgood up in 3-4 years.

Jim Callis: I don't disagree. But I'm guessing Crow wants roughly twice what Hobgood does, which played into Baltimore's decision.

    JAYPERS (IL): Chances of Strasburg signing any earlier than 11:59 pm on 8/17?

Jim Callis: Next to nil. Unless the Nationals meet the $50 million asking price, Strasburg and Scott Boras will be content to wait.

    JC (St. Louis): Speaking of Harper...if he is eligible in next years draft and he signs on with say....Mr. Boras Inc. and performs in the next year as expected what kind of $$ figure is he going to command next year? I am sure it will hinge a bit on the Strasburg deal wouldn't it? Also if the Nats get the #1 pick again would they take Harper in your opinion after shelling out record money in this year draft like they will most likely do? If so they might be getting 2 of the most dynamic players in the draft in years...Washington could be in contention in the semi-near future.

Jim Callis: Oh, he's already being advised by the Scott Boras Corp. I'm sure he will use the Strasburg deal as a starting point. If I'm the Nationals, I take both guys and pay to sign both guys if I think they're the best player each year. Yes, they'd be arguably the best pitching prospect and hitting prospect in draft history.

Jim Callis: That's all I can get to today. Thanks for the great questions.