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Red Sox Top 10 Chat

Moderator: Executive editor Jim Callis compiled the Red Sox top 10 prospects list. He'll be here to answer your questions at 2 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Well the Top 10 prospects list has no where to go but up. The O's and the BoSox have two of the poorer systems in baseball. Please help me understand all the of hype that goes into players such as Ramirez and Kazmir. Ramirez has all of 261 professional abs. That is not enough in my opinion to compare him to Soriano, A-Rod, etc. He may have the tools but the GCL and Penn league are a bit different that the majors. Kazmir is another player that fits this argument as well. He has great "stuff" but there are a lot of other factors. Care to share your opinion?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I believe I wrote that it's risky to place those kinds of labels on players, but it's also worth noting that baseball people are making those comparisons. In no way am I saying that Ramirez is the next Soriano at this point. He does have that kind of potential, though he's a few years from the majors right now. However, give me the pick of any player from the Sox system right now, and I'd go out on a limb and gamble on Ramirez' future. He's a legitimate five-tool shortstop, even if he requires a lot more seasoning.

 Q:  Brian from Phoenix asks:
I was wondering about a prospect i saw in the AFL, Andrew Dominique. Listed as a catcher, he played 1B both games i saw and he looked like he could put the bat on the ball - what's his future look like? thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's more of a journeyman who has caught but isn't very gifted behind the plate. Some power, decent eye, more of a bench guy at the major league level if he were to make it, but he's also 27.

 Q:  Tim from Washington, DC asks:
In your latest installment of "Ask BA", you wrote that Sox 2002 23rd round pick David Pahucki "oozes pitchability." How close was Pahucki to cracking the Sox Top 10 and does he have the stuff and makeup to become a frontline starter? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Pahucki wasn't close to the Top 10. He has below-average stuff and above-average pitchability. I'll have to see how he fares in full-season ball before getting really excited about him.

 Q:  Tim from Washington, DC asks:
The "Best of the Rest" section of the Sox Top 10 Prospects report in the BA magazine said that the Sox are high on Aneudis Mateo and other young Dominican pitchers. What is your opinion of Mateo, and are the Sox still high on Olivo Astacio, who seemed to struggle mightily in the GCL this past summer? Thanks?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Mateo, and the Red Sox are still high on Astacio. But the thing to remember with teenaged GCL pitchers is that they're extremely raw. The attrition rate on Rookie-level pitching prospects is huge. Boston also likes guys like Junior Frias and Denny Tussen, but it's too early to bank on these guys making it.

 Q:  Tim from Washington, DC asks:
Where would Brad Baker have ranked on the Sox list had he not been traded mid-season for Alan Embree? Injury history aside, who do you like better, Baker or Jerome Gamble? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good question. I probably would have put him about seventh. The Red Sox, to me, had a pretty clear top six (Ramirez, Kelly Shoppach, Kevin Youkilis, Freddy Sanchez, Phil Dumatrait, Manny Delcarmen), and after that it got very shaky. I think Gamble's stuff might be slightly better, but he's been hurt so much that I'd take Baker if I had to pick between the two. I toyed with putting Gamble in the Top 10, but ultimately decided to go with healthier pitchers.

 Q:  Nick from New Jersey asks:
I have questions about two players: Is the main reason Tony Blanco fall out of the top 10 because he can't stay healthy or do you think less about his upside for other reasons (in other words, if he stayed healthy in '03, should we expect to see him back near the top of the Red Sox list)? Also, I believe Calvin Pickering is now a free agent but is he healthy again and how do you think he'd do as a major leaguer? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Blanco didn't make the Top 10 because he has yet to prove he can make the adjustments to hit in Class A, let alone the majors. His strike-zone judgment is atrocious right now. He has a high ceiling, yet little chance of reaching it unless he can make some changes, and he hasn't been able to. He'll be in the 11-15 area in our Prospect Handbook. Pickering never has shown the desire to keep himself in shape, and he's running out of chances. His bat is somewhat promising, but I don't think too many teams care for his makeup. Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone participating in this chat.

 Q:  Shane from Shrewsbury, MA asks:
Who were some of the standouts and surprises in the Red Sox Fall Instructional League that did not crack the top 10? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: I should have added Juan Cedeno to the list of Dominicans that Boston likes. He blew away Joe Mauer with mid-90s heat in an instructional league game, which opened some eyes.

 Q:  Erick from Columbus, OH asks:
Any estimate of how many of the Red Sox top 10 prospects will make your top 100 prospect list? One, maybe two?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good question. Hanley Ramirez for sure. Shoppach and Youkilis have a shot, but Ramirez is the only lock. Still should put Boston one player ahead of Baltimore.

 Q:  Shane from Shrewsbury, MA asks:
What's your take on Chris Elmore and Andy Shibilo and what type of contributions can we expect them to make with Boston in 2003? How about a Melvin DortaHanley Rameriz infield duo in 2004-2005? Thanks again!!!
 A: 

Jim Callis: They could factor into the bullpen. Shibilo has better stuff and a better shot. Elmore is a finesse lefty with a plus changeup and good command, but he doesn't miss a lot of bats.

 Q:  Scott from Springfield, Il asks:
Would either Franklin Francisco or Byeong An that were traded to the White Sox in the Bobby Howry trade have made the Red Sox top ten list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Nope. Francisco probably would have made the Top 30, however.

 Q:  John Walsh from Chicago asks:
What do the Red Sox have to gain by protecting only 28 players on their 40 man rosters, while letting marginal prospects become free agents? I assume there is a plan.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Nothing really to gain, and some of these guys may be sold to Japan or nontendered in December. I think it's just a reflection of the lack of talent in the upper levels. Most of Boston's top guys didn't need to be protected. They'll probably sign some free agents to fill some of those spots, but I don't think you'll see them go wild and take 10 guys in the major league Rule 5 draft.

 Q:  Raider from Marietta, Georgia asks:
What's your take on Scott White? Does he have the tools to be an impact player in the majors?? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has the tools, starting with power potential, pitch recognition and athleticism. But we have yet to see how those tools will play in pro ball, so I wouldn't say he'll be an impact player yet.

 Q:  JOHN from NH asks:
Do you see kevin youkilis being a september call-up this coming year? And how many years are Phil Dumatrait and Manny Declarmen away from cracking the big leagues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: If Youkilis continues to hit like he has thus far, he might be up sooner than that. He could possibly help the Red Sox at first base or DH. Dumatrait is at least 2.5 years and Delcarmen at least three years away from making the majors, unless they start to develop at an accelerated rate.

 Q:  Shane from St. Stephen, New Brunswick asks:
Hello Jim, It doesn't sound like Youkilis projects terribly high, but he soundslooks similar to Erik Hinske. Same heightweight, 'athletic for build' type, lots of walks, average arm...Does he project near Mr. Hinske? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He doesn't project well as an athlete, but he projects very well as a hitter and can play a decent third base. I think the Hinske comparison is valid. Youkilis controls the strike zone better and might hit for more average, though Hinske has more power. Both will have to continue to prove they can handle the hot corner.

 Q:  Mike from Exton, PA asks:
"Asia, where the Red Sox had spent heavily with little to show for it," The Sox spent 1.6M on Ohka, Song and Kim. Ohka was traded for Urbina and had a very solid #3 starter season. Song and Kim were solid prospects used to trade for a very good hitter. Why isn't that a very good return on the investment? While conceding that there was also some waste - mostly the older guys signed to major league deals like Lee and Checo -I would call the ROI on Ohka, Song and Kim to have been excellent. I would be thrilled if the 2002 draft produced that much value. Lester and White were signed for 1.9M and I doubt they ahve that ig of an impact. Additionally, Asian players are generally signed at 19-21 while Latin players are signed at 16-18. Considering the Sox intend to move towards college players in the draft doesn't it seem odd that they would aggressively move towards younger players internationally?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's a line I wrote in the Top 10 Overview. I'll stand by that. I'm not high on Kim, and though Song has arm problems, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Ohka had a solid year, but his hit and strikeout rates are mediocre, so I'm yet to be convinced it's not a fluke. Throw in Robinson Checo, Sang Lee, Chul Oh, Tai-In Che, Jin Ho Cho, and that's a lot of guys who got big money who fizzled. Byeong An (now with the White Sox), Kevin Huang and Ryo Kumugai didn't light it up in 2002. Off the top of my head, I think that's close to $6 million in bonuses, and not a lot to show for it. I do give them credit for using some of those players in trades, but when all is said and done their might not be a solid major leaguer in the bunch. Boston is moving toward Latin America, where comparable talent can be had at a cheaper price, so it can get a greater ROI.

 Q:  Frank from CT asks:
Does Kevin Youkilis have a future with the Red Sox, or may he be traded? Would any team pick him up in the Rule V draft, despite his poor showing in the AFL?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A great future. I think the Red Sox are more apt to trade Shea Hillenbrand than Youkilis, once Youkilis is ready. He can't be picked in the Rule 5 draft. He isn't on the 40-man roster because he didn't have to be protected. The reports I've heard is that he was a little worn out in the AFL. Always take AFL stats with a grain of salt.

 Q:  Tim Stone from trenton nj asks:
What pitchers, from the minors,do you think can contribute to the Red Sox in the near future.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Not many. Josh Hancock has the best shot, though he just had surgery to repair a tear in his pelvic wall. Shibilo and Elmore, mentioned earlier, are probably next in line.

 Q:  Mike from Exton, PA asks:
There was an expectation that the Sox would dramatically increase their amatur spending under new ownership. Some dreamers even claimed that there would be a 100% increase. Just using numbers published by BA I have the Sox spending 2.3M in the 01 draft and 1.8M on high profile international signings (de la Rosa, An, Kumagai). This year it looks like the Sox spent about 2.8M on the draft, but there weren't any big international signings - or at least not any that made BA. Am I missing some international signings or did the new Sox - at least in year 1 - spend about what the old Sox did?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I had a scouting director tell me that the Red Sox have spent in the low six figures to sign several Latin Americans this year, so I think that's where the money went. Also, a lot of teams took it a little easy on amateur spending this year because they weren't sure if there was going to be a strikes. Bear in mind that Boston only had an interim GM this year, and the new ownership didn't get handed the keys until mid-spring training. I think the next two years will tell us a lot about what direction the Sox will take.

 Q:  Just curious from Billerica MA asks:
Is #10 Josh Thigpen related to Bobby Thigpen?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't believe so.

 Q:  Dave Regan from Ventura, CA asks:
Hi Jim, being from Southern California, I'm wondering what you think of Alberto Concepcion? Was he a steal for the Sox in the 21st round? Why did he slide so far in the draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A possible steal. He was a second-round pick out of high school, and he has some tools, but he'll still have to show he can hit and get the job done behind the plate. There also are makeup questions about him. He's certainly a worthwhile pick for that low in the draft.

Moderator: Hey, Jim wants to know where the Theo Epstein and Jose Contreras questions are. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming . . .

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
What happened to Dernell Stenson? Can he still become a big-time player?
 A: 

Jim Callis: No one knows, and I doubt it. He had a terrific year in Double-A at age 20 in 1998 and got progressively worse. He's regressed in all areas of the game, and no one is sure why. A change of scenery might be his only hope, and even then I wouldn't bank on him becoming what it once looked like he might.

 Q:  Dave D from Boston asks:
It was only about 5-6 years ago that the Red Sox had one of the supposedly best farm systems in the game. Yet none of those players became impact players and few even made the majors. Now we hear that the Sox have a lousy system, yet they were able to deal for Floyd, Embree, and Howry last year. How subjective is rating a teams farm system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't have the rankings above me, but I don't think we've rated the Red Sox much higher than 10th or so, and that was only for a year. Rating a team's farm system is extremely subjective. The Red Sox were able to deal for those players because they were willing to take on salaries, more than because they were loaded with prospects. They traded two of their best and most advanced pitchers in Song and Baker, and they had little left beyond that. The Athletics traded Jon Adkins for Ray Durham, but that doesn't make Adkins a top prospect.

 Q:  Bernie from Kentucky asks:
What are your thoughts Eric Glaser? Will he be included in the Top 30 when the handbook comes out? He started out well in his first couple of years with the Sox, including a no-hitter at Augusta two years ago. He seemed to struggle last year when he was juggled between starting and relieving throughout the year. Is he better suited for the rotation or the bullpen. Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Marginal guy, won't make the book. He's had more success in the bullpen but really struggled in his first taste of Double-A.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
How about really going out on a limb? There isn't much else to gamble with in the Sox's system.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'll have to get the BA cryptographer to explain this question to me before I answer it.

 Q:  CD from NY asks:
In recent history, the Red Sox have drafted primarily pitchers and ignored slugging OF-1B. This didn't change this year. Is the philosophy to develop pitchers because they generally have more trade value?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think a lot of teams try to draft several pitchers because of the axiom that it takes 10 legitimate pitching prospects to find two good major leaguers. As mentioned before, this was in a lot of ways a transition year for the Red Sox. You may see them draft more hitters and more collegians in the future.

 Q:  Scott Boras from Hell asks:
I didn't notice much difference between administrations. The old guys would give Teixeira everything he asked for and the new guys wouldn't give Neighborgall everything he asked for. What's the difference?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Inflation, and a pending strike. The Red Sox were willing to go to $1.5 million on Teixeira, but they weren't willing to go to $4 million or $5 million on Neighborgall. I still think it was worth taking Neighborgall in the seventh round to see if he could be signed.

 Q:  Bill from NY asks:
Maybe a bit off topic- but what about Dan Duquette changed over the years? He was loved and well respected by many (including BA, BP, and Peter Gammons) when he took over the Sox, and despite mostly success, he was despised by the end of his run.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Overall, Duquette did more good than harm. The Red Sox contended for much of his tenure. However, I think it was time for him to go when he was fired. He had helped to divide the organization and he was making horribly short-sighted trades. He also seemed to get more arrogant with each passing year. He became condescending, he wouldn't allow any member of the organization to talk to the media without permission (which rarely was granted) and he seemed to want all the credit for anything good that happened and none of the blame for any of the bad.

 Q:  Scott from Atlanta asks:
Where would Jason Neighborgall have ranked if the Sox signed him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's a tough one, because he has so much ceiling but also some question marks (command, history of back problems). His pure stuff easily would have been the best in the system, but it might have been hard to rank him ahead of Dumatrait and Delcarmen unless he had an overwhelming debut a la Scott Kazmir, backing up the perception of his stuff. If he had signed late and not pitched, probably seventh on the list.

 Q:  Michael Dunn from Jersey City, NJ asks:
Since the Red Sox could acquire a few compensation picks during this year's free agent market, do you think they'll draft heavily towards college players, in order to stock the top of their minor league squads?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think they'll start taking more college players than they have because their braintrust believes they return a better value because they're easier to evaluate. College players also would help the upper levels of the system quicker. The top four draft picks on my Top 10 list (Ramirez was an amateur free agent) were college players.

 Q:  Big KG from Big Chicago asks:
Does the signing of Julio Zuleta confuse the 1B-3B situation at all? He's not a premium prospect, but he's got loaded of power and if anything, it says Youkilis is probably staying at 3B in Pawtucket in 2003.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I've always liked Zuleta some (though not as much as I like Big KG). I never understood why the Cubs wouldn't at least let him platoon against lefties, whom he's always hit well. Zuleta has good power and he could be a good role player for Boston next year. I don't see him becoming a regular and if Youkilis keeps hitting like he has, Zuleta won't be an impediment.

 Q:  Mike from Exton, PA asks:
Youkilis obvioulsy somebody who has to be valued by performance over tools, but he's been promoted so fast that some of his sample sizes have been quite small. He hit with good power in AA and people thought he might have turned that corner, but it was just 150 ABs. His next 150 ABs in the AFL were the worse of his career. Where would you put his baseline? Do you think it makes sense to push him to AAA after so few AA ABs just to give him some stability after his meteoric rise thru the system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Youkilis will handle Triple-A fine. He just got tired in the AFL. He already works hard, and he now knows he needs to work a little harder on conditioning. Like you, the small Double-A sample size doesn't convince me he'll hit for lots of power. I'd set his major league baseline at .280-.300, 15-20 homers and a lot of walks.

 Q:  mike from santa clara ca asks:
what have you heard abot bret Bonvechio in the red sox organization how is he doing
 A: 

Jim Callis: Boston liked him as a draft-and-follow from 2000 signed in 2001. He hit well in the GCL this year, and has a sweet lefty swing. His playing time has been cut into by a couple of injuries. He may be Boston's best first-base prospect right now.

 Q:  jim from new jersey asks:
Jim, do the red sox have ANY decent outfield prospects in the minors?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Outfield is a black hole. The best hope is Michael Goss, a speedster who played very well in a brief stint in short-season ball this year. He's a tremendous athlete but very raw, and he'll need lots of time to develop.

 Q:  Mike from New York City asks:
Wil Ledezma is someone who's intrigued me for a while. You mentioned him in the Best of the Rest section of this year's Top 10. What do you think of his stuff and do you think he can put his injuries behind him? Also, would you see him rounding out what looks like a terrific roation at Sarasota (with Gamble, Dumatriat, Delcarmen, and Thigpen) or a much younger but still interesting group at Augusta (Simon, Mateo, Pahucki?)?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Like Gamble, Ledezma would have made the Top 10 if not for his injury background. He has recovered from elbow problems but had some back woes this year. He was throwign 93-94 with a hard curve late in the season. I think Boston will take it slow with him and start him in Augusta next year.

 Q:  Shane from Shrewsbury asks:
When is the Rule V draft? Happy Thanksgiving!
 A: 

Jim Callis: I've seen it listed as both December 15 and 16.

 Q:  jim from new jersey asks:
talking about minor leaguers is more fun! so, what about theo epstein and jose contreras?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Jim gets first prize for answering my plea the quickest. I like the Theo Epstein hiring. I've heard good things about him since when he was with the Padres, and he gets a lot of praise for his creative thinking and talent evaluation. He'll be surrounded by some good baseball minds and doesn't think he knows everything. He has Billy Beane potential without the Beane price tag. I've also heard that the Sox have a good chance at Contreras, who may be the best free agent on the market this year. That statement might be a bit much, but he has quality stuff, big game experience and will be able to step immediately into a big league rotation. He'll go to No. 1 on the Red Sox list in our Prospect Handbook if they sign him.

 Q:  Mark L. Peel from Arlington Heights, IL asks:
No questions on Epstein or Contreras, but I do wonder if you know what Bill James will actually do for the Red Sox.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He'll be a sounding board, evaluating a number of players, mostly from a statistical standpoint. He'll be another voice with a different background. I doubt he'll come off as self-important as Mike Gimbel did.

 Q:  Mike from New York City asks:
Many Red Sox diehards who obsess on the minor leagues have a somewhat negative attitude towards the new administration due to a number of snafus this past summer. These include a very short roster at Trenton, fairly shoddy treatment of Trenton ownership regarding a change in the PDC, and the absense of a director for player development. Would you say these are indicative of how Theo Epstein and his team will run the organizaiton from here on out, or is it more a relfection of the fact that the new owners assumed control in the middle of Spring Training and were waiting to get a permanent GM in place before really puttintg their stamp on the operation?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The latter. I don't think Epstein can be blamed for all that. As I said earlier, the next two years will be very telling. The ownership has been in place for a while and now has a permanent GM in place.

 Q:  CD from NY asks:
The Red Sox didnt take on any salary in the deals for Embree or Floyd. So they must have had better offers than other teams.. It is funny that last year, the Sox and Cards supposedly had the worst farm systems- yet those teams ended up with Floyd, Embree, Rolen, Finley, etc. in trade deadline deals.
 A: 

Jim Callis: They did take on salary for the remainder of the season, though Embree wasn't making much. I like Embree, but giving up Baker for him may not look good in a couple of years. Those trades were more about dumping contracts (except for Embree's) than adding top prospects. Look at the players who changed hands in those deals. Song was the best prospect, and he was hurt.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Lots of people seem to be interested in trading for Shea H. Wouldn't it be prudent to trade him now while his value is high and find [somebody] to play third until Youkilis is ready? Especially since Hillenbrand still didn't learn patience this year...
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm going to have to get out of here shortly. Thanks for all the great questions. As for Hillenbrand now, his market value may never be higher, but that has to be balanced with the fact Boston can contend next season and he's the best third baseman they have, coming off an all-star season. I do believe Boston will trade him in the near future, just not this year.

 Q:  Mike from Exton, PA asks:
BA had the Sox ranked as the 5th best farm system in baseball in 1998. Here's the reference: 1998 Farm Rank 5, BA Issue No 9907, 41199 (yes, I know this makes me a major geek) That may have been the year that Stenson and Rose were the top prospects in AA and AAA. IN retrospect, the Sox farm was wildly overrated.
 A: 

Jim Callis: You're right, I knew there was one year like that but didn't realize they were rated quite that high. I believe we came to our senses shortly thereafter.

 Q:  jim from new jersey asks:
gun to your head: which do you take--the current sox minor league system or the current yankees minor league system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Tough one . . . but I'll go with Boston. Josh Boyd will vehemently disagree when he reads this.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Look at the 1st question in the chat. Then let me know if you really are taking a risk. I'm just giving you a hard time because you need question to fill up your hour or so.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Ah. And I thought going with a short-season guy No. 1 was going out on a limb.

 Q:  Michael from Jersey City, NJ asks:
Question on a Cuban player, but not Contreras. Will Rolando Viera pan out?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Probably not, and not as more than a lefty reliever if he does.

 Q:  Chris Dale from Allentown, PA asks:
Can you give a shout out to the SOSH (SONS OF SAM HORN) website since at least 10 of the questions you posted came from regulars I see post on that dedicated Red Sox site? BTW, we'd love to have a one on one chat with you at that site...it's a very diverse group. Gordon Edes has chatted there and The Sports Guy of "ESPN Page 2" posts there semi-regularly as member.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Consider it done. John Tomase pointed me toward that site today and it made for some interesting reading. Email me and we can set up a chat sometime today. But go easy on me!

Jim Callis: That's it for today. Thanks for all the questions, and Happy Thanksgiving.

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