Jim Callis Chat: March 16




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    Jayson (Cedar Rapids): Any chance we will see Mike Trout be a September call-up to possibly see him run the bases? Everyone is agreeing that next year will be his big year - but any chance seeing him late this season?

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. As good as he is, it's easy to forget Trout will be 19 for most of this season. Could see him as a September callup, but that's not a lock, especially considering it would cost the Angels a 40-man roster spot.

    Mike Shaeffer (Vandergrift, PA): If the Pirates draft and sign Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole, would you rank him their #1 prospect over Jameson Taillon?

Jim Callis: Yes. And I ranked Taillon the eighth-best prospect in baseball on my personal Top 50 Prospects list in the 2011 Prospect Handbook.

    Ben (Philly): Hey Jim, Following up on your last ask BA, I was curious what hit grade Robinson Cano has. Speaking of Cano, is he kind of a unique guy in the sense that no one, as I recall, ever had his ceiling pegged anywhere close to where he's turned out?

Jim Callis: Depending on how generous you are, you could give Cano a 70, 75 or 80 for his bat. Lots of guys exceed their perceived ceiling, so his situation isn't unique. And he also was fairly well regarded in the minors, if not an obvious future star. John Manuel ranked him as as the No. 2 prospect in the system in 2005, noting his bat speed and fluid swing.

    JAYPERS (IL): If you had to speculate, is a September return for Strasburg a decent possibility?

Jim Callis: I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. But I'll play along. Sure, he could, guys are coming back from Tommy John surgery quicker than ever. But why rush him?

    Jay (South Riding, VA): Jim, as always thanks for the chat. You guys make the offseason a lot easier with all your great products. Nats question. At #6 if you had your choice between Gray, Starling & Jackie Bradley, Jr who would you take. What is a realistic stat line for Bradley Jr. and when would he be ready for the majors?

Jim Callis: I'd shoot for the highest upside and take Starling, who's probably the best athlete in the entire draft. I'd take Gray over Bradley, and though Gray is 5-foot-11, I wouldn't rule him out as a good big league starter. Love his arm. Bradley has a lower ceiling than the other guys. His physical tools (strength and speed) don't wow you, but he plays above them and he can really hit and play center field. Bradley could get to the majors at some point in 2013. In his prime, I could see him as a .290/.350/.450 player.

    Tom Zig (Long Island): Now for the weekly Banuelos question. What do you think his innings limit will be this year?

Jim Callis: I'm sure there will be more than one Banuelos question. I keep reading he'll be held to 140 innings or so. Make sense, considering he went 114 in his U.S. debut in 2009 and just 60 in 2010 (when he missed time following an appenedectomy).

    Tom Jones (Long Island): Any reason to be concerned over Jesus Montero's poor spring? Does he still make the team?

Jim Callis: No. Spring training stats don't mean much at all, and I still think he's the best all-around hitting prospect in the game. With Francisco Cervelli hurt and Jorge Posada put out to pasture at DH, I think Montero makes the Yankees. Not only that, I bet he's getting more playing time than the cooked Russell Martin in short order. That said, Montero's catching still leaves a lot to be desired.

    Jay (South Riding, VA): Do you think Ross Detwiler can be a #2 or #3 type pitcher now that he is healthy and has stopped throwing across his body so much? I watched him at spring training and he looked great. Also, could Espinosa be the ROY of the year? He's a flat out stud with the glove at 2B.

Jim Callis: Not that optimistic about Detwiler. Not usually a good sign when they're changing your mechancics after you got drafted sixth overall with those mechanics. Feeling better about Espinosa's rookie-of-the-year chances. He's right up there with Freddie Freeman and Aroldis Chapman in the NL.

    Cocky (Columbia, SC): How do you see the Gamecocks pitching rotation working out? And do you think they will have the pitching depth to make a run at a repeat?

Jim Callis: South Carolina won the 2010 CWS without a dominant rotation, and I don't see why they can't challenge again in 2011 with Omaha hero Michael Roth and Tyler Webb as their top two starters. I also think closer Matt Price will get straightened out after some early-season struggles.

    Matt (Nebraska): Has Eric Hosmer now passed Mike Moustakas as the Royals top hitting prospect?

Jim Callis: I've said this before, but I think you can make a case for either guy or for Wil Myers. I'd take Mike Moustakas, because he has the most pure power and has proven himself at a higher level than the other two. This much is for certain: all three of them rank among the elite hitting prospects in the game.

    Billy D. (Arlington, VA): I was thinking about this earlier today. Isn't Mike Trout a perfectly good example of why we should allow the trading of picks. I mean if another team valued him higher than another team, shouldn't they have a shot at expressing that through a trade?

Jim Callis: I'm not against the trading of draft picks, though I'm not sure we'll see it happen and I don't think it will solve any problems with the draft. As for Trout, let me just say I find it simply amazing all of the teams who suddenly claim they had Trout near the top of their 2009 draft boards. That wasn't the talk at the time.

    Josh (Las Vegas, Nevada): Jim, who are you taking, Heyward or Harper? Who has the higher ceiling?

Jim Callis: I'll take Heyward but give Harper the nod for the higher ceiling. Heyward's ceiling is close, and his floor is much higher at this point.

    Matt (Chicago): Who projects to be a better offensive player for CHI, B Jackson or Colvin?

Jim Callis: Brett Jackson. Better hitter and has more power.

    Brian (Pittsburgh): If today is draft day and you are the Pirates, is it Rendon or Cole? How much of the decision is influenced by the arms and bats currently in the system?

Jim Callis: The pick will not be influenced at all by what they have on hand—the Pirates will take whomever they believe is the best player. It's neck and neck. I'd take Rendon but could easily get talked into Cole. I get a lot of questions about how Cole is rising and Rendon is dropping, and that's just not the case. They were close coming into the season, and their situation parallels Mark Teixeira/Mark Prior in 2011.

    Nick P. (SE PA): Which catcher has more offensive upside long-term..... Wilin Rosario or Derek Norris.

Jim Callis: Very close. Similar power, Norris is a walk machine (though that doesn't always translate from Class A to the majors), Rosario is a better hitter. I'll take Rosario.

    Stacy (New Market, AL): Hi Jim, Thanks for the chat. What do you think are Desmond Jennings' chances of taking over CF in Tampa Bay by June, and do you think Jordan Lyles makes the Opening Day roster in Houston? Thanks. Stacy

Jim Callis: Not sure if it will be CF unless B.J. Upton gets traded, but I think Jennings will be getting at least semi-regular AB in Tampa Bay by midseason. I don't see why the Astros would rush Lyles like that, though they seem to at least be considering it. He's only 20, got knocked around in Triple-A last year, the Astros aren't going to contend.

    Brent (Appleton): What's the latest on Matt Purke? How does he stack up against Rendon and Cole in the draft? Where would you rank him on the top 100?

Jim Callis: Purke is off to a slow start, because he was on a tight pitch count (because of summer/fall inactivity) and then developed a blister. Rendon and Cole have separated themselves from the pack, but Purke is in the second tier. He'd rank somewhere in the 26-50 range on the Top 100.

    Jeremy (Washington, DC): What do you make of Aaron Crow's spring? Was last year just an aberration?

Jim Callis: I don't pay much attention to spring stats, but I do think last year was an aberration. Even when he struggled last year, scouts said his stuff was still quite good. With all the pitching depth the Royals have in the minors, maybe Crow winds up in their bullpen, but I still believe he'll be a good big leaguer.

    Jonny (Mesa): Big White Sox fan here...will Brent Morel win the 3B job? If so what do you think the Sox should do with Mark Teahen? Is Morel someone who can hold down the position long-term? Thanks!

Jim Callis: He's not having a great spring, so the Sox could open the year with Teahen at third base. I'd go with Morel, see him as a Joe Crede-type player who can keep the position for a while. I'd use Teahen in a Mark DeRosa-type role.

    Jared (Charlotte): When is Zach Britton going to enter the O's rotation and what is his ceiling?

Jim Callis: My guess is Baltimore keeps an eye on his service-time clock, sends him to Triple-A for April and May, then promotes him in June. He has the stuff, command and makeup to be a No. 2 starter.

    Joel (Indiana): The Rays have a ton of catching talent, which catching prospect looks to have the highest ceiling?

Jim Callis: Justin O'Conner, with his big-time power potential and arm strength.

    Early Shower (toweling down): About Arencibia..........does BA have a complete disregard for him as to any learning curve? He plays a key position, and will launch mistakes over the wall. So how does, for instance, Chris Carter make the top 100 with the same bat and a significantly less strategic position? AArencibia's backround suggests he'll adjust,if slowly. So...?

Jim Callis: We respect Arencibia but we're not as bullish on him as most. He's a year older than Carter, he was repeating Triple-A last year and Las Vegas inflates numbers. He does have good power and a solid arm, but I'm not sold he's going to hit and he's not a good receiver, the most important aspect of catching. Not convinced he's going to stick behind the plate in the long term, at least not as a regular.

    Matt (NJ): How long do you see Bryce Harper playing for Hagerstown?

Jim Callis: At least half a season. Jumping from juco ball to low Class A when you're 18 is no easy feat. It would be a tremendous accomplishment for Harper to need only a half-season each at each full-season level, which would get him to Washington at age 20 in 2013.

    Tim (Illinois): Cubs fan, fretting over the Ninth Pick in June. If Bauer's name is called, should I be happy?

Jim Callis: I like Trevor Bauer but I think the Cubs can do a little better than that. There's a lot of college and high school pitching in this draft.

    MrMustSeeTV (Winning): With Cesar Puello's speed, wouldn't he be a better asset to the Mets in CF (if he can handle the position) or is RF a more valuably position? I know he has a plus arm, but if he can handle CF, then I would think that's better for the Mets since there are feel above-average CFs in the big leagues. Thoughts?

Jim Callis: I agree, but he hasn't shown the instincts and focus for center field. That said, I'd give him every opportunity to hone his skills in center as he climbs the ladder.

    Steve (St. Louis): Who do you consider a better middle infield prospect, Kolten Wong or Francisco Lindor?

Jim Callis: Lindor. Similar offensive potential, but Lindor is a SS and Wong is a 2B.

    JAYPERS (IL): In the past you (or someone there at BA) ranked the 2011 draft crop a "65" overall on the 20-80 scale. How would you split up that score between HS and College players?

Jim Callis: I think that was me. I'd give the college crop a 70 and the high school crop a 60.

    john (Kansas City): Which would you pick to get to the majors first or who would you rather have and why? Will Myers, Shelby Miller, Manny Machado, Matt Moore or Michael Pineda?

Jim Callis: Pineda will get there first, perhaps by Opening Day. All the other guys are at least a year away. I'd take Manny Machado of the group because five-tool shortstops are impossible to find.

    Mike D (Minnesota): Who projects to be the best OF? M.Choice? F.Martinez? Or J.Sands?

Jim Callis: Michael Choice. Best combination of bat, power and athleticism there.

    Steve (St. Louis): Thoughts on Matt Carpenter? He's really impressed in Spring Training so far, both with the glove and bat. Is there any chance he ends up an above average major league third baseman?

Jim Callis: I think he has a chance to be a solid regular, but that's still iffy for me and I won't go to above average. I don't think the power or defense are anything special, though kudos to him for exceeding expectations as a 13th-round pick. For what it's worth, Derrick Goold advocated ranking him much higher on our Cardinals Top 30 than where he wound up (No. 11). We once had a similar disagreement about Luke Gregerson, and I was wrong on that one.

    Doug Milhoan (North Canton): Any news on MLB's slot recommendations for signing bonuses in the 2011 draft? Expected to be the same as 2010, or lowered?

Jim Callis: MLB guards that closely until right before the draft, which sometimes screws teams up (see Braves and Mike Minor in 2009) when there's an unexpected change. Doesn't matter what the slots are this year, teams are going to ignore them and spend, spend, spend because mandated slotting may be on the horizon.

    James (Texas): Thanks for the chat. I've got to see Mike Olt a bit this spring. The glove looks for real but will he make enough contact to be a big league regular?

Jim Callis: Will hit for more power than average, I think he can be a solid regular in a few years.

    Grant (Winnipeg): Would it be fair to compare Hultzen and Bauer to guys like Minor and McGuire from recent drafts - high probability to start in the big leagues, but not all that likely to challenge for a Cy Young?

Jim Callis: The comparison works, but all those guys have good stuff and can really pitch. Not saying they're going to load up on Cys, but don't sell them short either.

    Ari (Toronto): Any insight into why someone with Henderson Alvarez's stuff has problem missing bats? I read reports this spring that had his fastball at 94-97.

Jim Callis: Four-seam fastball is straight, throws too many strikes, has a below-average breaking ball. Decent prospect, but another example of how velocity isn't everything.

    Kiefer (Washington): Will the mariners take Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole if the other one is taken by the Pirates? And the one they draft will he be their #1 Prospect?? Thanks

Jim Callis: I would think so—can't imagine the Mariners going in another direction. I'd rank either guy as their No. 1 prospect, ahead of either Ackley or Pineda, and I love both those guys.

    Jeff (St. Louis): Based on what you guys have seen so far, are there any changes to your top five draft board? How high would Lindor sit at this point?

Jim Callis: I'd tweak it a little. Rendon and Cole are 1 and 1A. Purke hasn't been at his best yet and Springer has started slowly, so you could put them behind guys like Gray and Jungmann. Lindor would be in the 8-15 range. He's good, but not as good as Manny Machado was last year, and I think several pitchers will go ahead of him.

    Brian (School): Some people think Cole is now #1. How much should the Mariners/Pirates worry about Rendon's ankle/shoulder.

Jim Callis: Rendon's injuries shouldn't be a concern. The ankle injuries were flukes, the result of fielding and running mishaps. His shoulder isn't a long-term worry and won't prevent him from playing third base down the road. But even if he were a diminished defender, he'd still compare favorably to No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez, who isn't going to stick at the hot corner for long.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Are the Reds making a mistake with Chapman giving him another full year in the bullpen? He has never thrown much more than 100 IP in a year so it might take 3+ years to stretch him out to where he can start over a full season and throw 180-200 IP.

Jim Callis: I think he's destined to be a closer. Not sure you'll ever see him stretched out as a starter. The Reds are a playoff-caliber team and he can help them more out of the bullpen this year, so I agree with their thinking.

    Clee (Northern South Dakota): Hi Jim - thanks for taking the time to chat. Who is worse defensively, Montero or Lavarnway? And do either have the potential to be at least, say, Jorge Posada defensively (i.e. less than ave behind the plate but MLB servicable)?

Jim Callis: Lavarnway is probably worse defensively. Both organizations will talk about how much their guy has improved behind the plate, but I don't see either as a long-term catcher in the majors.

    Chris (KS): Am I wrong to have huge concerns about Harper's plate discipline? He swings at absolutely everything. It seems to me that this will become a large problem when he starts seeing better pitchers. Or am I out of my mind?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't have huge concerns, but he does sell out for power at times. Then again, he's just 18 and has time to learn. I think it's safe to say he'll hit for more power than average. If I had to bet, I see him more as a .275 hitter than a .300 hitter, albeit with 40 homers a year, in his prime.

    Dale (Red Hill, Pa.): If you were building a team, who would you want for your centerfielder. Trout or Rasmus.

Jim Callis: Trout. But I'd be thrilled with either.

    Nick (Grand Cayman): Jim, Thanks for the chat... Who backs off? Seattle gets: Montero, Banuelos, Betances, Nova, Heathcott NYY gets: Felix

Jim Callis: No reason for the Mariners to trade Felix right now. Stud pitchers are impossible to find, and prospects aren't sure things. But Montero and Baneulos is at least a nice start. If the Mariners decided to deal him, I'd ask for Montero, Sanchez, Banuelos, Betances and a couple of secondary prospects. Would the Yankees turn that down?

    Jared (NY): Is Paul Goldschmidt a legitimate power hitter? He has hit everywhere he has been since college and crushed the CAL league last year. Do you think he can maintain his power numbers this season and solidify himself as a top propsect for the Diamondbacks?

Jim Callis: The Cal League inflated his numbers, but he can swing it. He can become a solid big league regular.

    Johnny (Irvine): Brett Lawrie or Dustin Ackley?

Jim Callis: Ackley. Neither is a second baseman, though.

    Johnny (Irvine): Do all the jays fans still have any hope on Kevin Ahrens or Justin Jackson?

Jim Callis: It they do, it's misplaced.

    Jon (Pgh): Wont a mandated slotting system destroy small market teams? Why not a salary cap instead?

Jim Callis: Yes, it will. MLB should just stop trying to fix the draft when it only makes the draft worse. The difference between manadated slotting and the salary cap is that there is less than no chance in hell that the MLBPA will ever accept a salary cap.

    Henry (St. Louis): If you could have one facebook friend...Albert Pujols or Mrs. Callis?

Jim Callis: I haven't taken the Facebook plunge yet. I don't need Facebook to interact with my wife, and I doubt Pujols' page contains any life-changing revelations. Do I get a third choice?

    Jake (Texas): Is Taylor Jungmann good enough to go #1 overall in an average year draft?

Jim Callis: He's having a great year but that's a little bit rich. He's comparable to someone like Bryan Bullington, however.

Jim Callis: I've got to run, but as always, thanks for all of the questions. You can hit me up with more, directing long ones to askba@baseballamerica.com and shorter ones to my Twitter account at @jimcallisBA.