Early Draft Preview Chat With Jim Callis

Moderator: Jim Callis will chat about the draft at 2 p.m. ET.

 Q:  skirt Johnson from D.C asks:
does this year draft compare to last year? also every year there are
some sleepers coming into the year that might not be rank high now but
might move up by the end of year, Who are this year sleepers?

Jim Callis:
Sorry about the slightly late start, got caught on the phone . . .
Scouting directors are enthused about this year’s draft, probably as
much about any draft this early in the year that I can remember. There
are college sluggers, college arms, good high school talent. It’s a
very well-balanced crop of players. As for guys who aren’t household
names but could jump into the first round, a few are UCLA lefthander
Tim Murphy, Alabama high school outfielder Destin Hood and California
prep lefty Bill Mooneyham. Also, keep an eye on Fresno State’s Tanner
Scheppers. He looked great in fall ball after taking the summer off,
and if he’s for real, I think he’ll be the third college pitcher

 Q:  Gamecock fan from Conway, S.C. asks:
vs. Alvarez . . . you wrote that Alvarez is the consensus choice; what
do the people who like Smoak better say? and which stratford high guy
will be better, smoak or wieters. Go cocks!

Jim Callis:
Most people would take Alvarez over Smoak, especially after Smoak
slumped with Team USA summer. Those that would take Smoak like his
approach better and think he’ll be a more consistent hitter. I like
both Smoak and Wieters, but I’d take Wieters because of the position
scarcity at catcher.

 Q:  Cyrus from Virginia asks:
how long til a Draft Revenue Sharing formula is instituted?
Also, Nats sure could use some help in the middle infield. Can Jemile
Weeks improve his stock enough to make him a worthy pick or are we
going for more pitching?

Jim Callis:
I don’t think the union is ever going to agree to any kind of cap or
official slotting on the draft. I’ve often wondered why MLB doesn’t
think about getting rid of free-agent compensation (which doesn’t keep
salaries down), which might end the union’s right to have a say-so with
the draft. I like Jemile Weeks, but I can’t see him going as high as
No. 9 to the Nationals. The only middle infielder who should go that
high is Georgia prep shortstop Tim Beckham, but he’ll be long gone by
No. 9.

 Q:  Joe from Jersey asks:
do you expect Reese Havens to go in the draft? He has had two sub-par
seasons at South Carolina, but has played pretty well in his two
summers in the Cape League (especially this past summer). Also, do you
expect him to have a monster 2008 for the GameCocks?

Jim Callis:
Funny you bring him up. There are a lot of Reese Havens arguments
around, both in the BA offices and among teams. Basically, those who
have seen him in the spring (area scouts, my BA brethren) have been
less than impressed. Those who saw him make adjustments in the Cape
last summer (mostly scouting directors and crosscheckers, whom I talked
to while doing our Cape Top 30) are more impressed. The biggest thing
working against him is that he can’t play shortstop at the next level.
I see him going in the second or third round as a third baseman.
Someone may try to make him a catcher.

 Q:  Tom from San Diego asks:
heard there was a Bureau game in Southern California this past weekend
and Patriot HS Kyle Skipworth stole the show.He hit a 3 run bomb off of
a LHP to the opposite field and threw out 3 runners. There were about
150 scouts at the game. Don’t you think KC could be a good fit with
there lack of catching?

Jim Callis:
I haven’t talked to anyone about the past weekend but I have gotten a
few e-mails about this. I think No. 3 (where the Royals pick) is a
little rich for Skipworth, but he is the top catcher in the draft and I
could see him moving up to the 6-10 range with a good spring.

 Q:  Greg from Vista CA asks:
Can you list the best SS (High School and College)that will stay at that position.

Jim Callis:
The top shortstop prospects in both high school (Tim Beckham) and
college (Georgia’s Gordon Beckham, no relation) both can play shortstop
at the next level.

 Q:  Joe from Easton, MD asks:
Brett Wallace can prove himself as a decent third baseman this year
does his stock take a big jump forward? And can he do it at that
position with all that weight?

Jim Callis:
I think he’d have to be more than just decent, because no one I’ve
talked to really think he’s going to be a pro third baseman. The bigger
key for Wallace, who’s going to be a first baseman, is power. No one
questions his pure hitting ability, but they’d like to see more pop.

 Q:  Sean from Cranford asks:
the wake of trading what might be for what is, do you think the New
York Mets continue to toe the line with the slotting system?

Jim Callis:
I don’t see what one has to do with the other. The Mets are rich enough
to land Johan Santana and spend on the draft. Their farm system is very
thin and even Omar Minaya has wondered out loud why the Mets are toeing
the line while others are not. I don’t think they’re as beholden to
slotting this year as they’ve been in the past.

 Q:  Ray from Yuma AZ asks:
is stronger this year draft high school players or college player or a
mix of both and what is stronger this year pitching or postion players.

Jim Callis:
I’d say college over high school, and bats over arms, but in both
cases, not by a wide margin. It’s a very balanced draft. About the only
thing people are bemoaning is the college outfield crop.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
Phillies have a handful of extra picks this year (2 for Rowand, 1 for
Workman). Do you think they will take this opportunity to re-build a
bottom third farm system or will they be generally conservative (like
last year when 5 out of their first 10 picks were college seniors)?
What should they be interested in at #24 overall?

Jim Callis:
My sense is that the Phillies have always taken the best available guy
in the early rounds, a high risk/high reward mindset, and don’t think
they’ll go conservative with their extra picks. Greensburg (Ind.) HS
RHP Alex Meyer could be interesting to them at No. 24.

 Q:  eric from houston asks:
Who do you see the Astros selecting with their pick?

Jim Callis:
I’m getting a few of these, who will Team X pick at Slot Y . . .
realize that four months before the draft, this is pure speculation.
The Astros, like most everyone in the first round, are going to take
the best available player. I can’t see Drayton McLane going over slot,
but that still gives Houston the chance to pick from guys like Eastern
Kentucky LHP Christian Friedrich, Pepperdine RHP Brett Hunter and
California HS RHP Gerrit Cole.

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
the Reds target a college first baseman like (Justin Smoak or Yonder
Alonso) with their first round pick? They have drafted a hitter with
their last 3 first round picks.

Jim Callis:
The Reds pick seventh, so the main thing is taking the top available
guy. But 1B isn’t a premium position and they already have a top young
1B prospect in Joey Votto, so I can’t see them taking another one. I
think they’d be looking at some of the guys I mentioned with the
Astros, plus Missouri HS RHP Tim Melville.

 Q:  Joe from Easton, MD asks:
the Rays decide to go pitching with the #1 pick, the Pirates refuse to
go over slot and pick another ho-hum college pitcher, and the Royals go
pitching is it possible that Alvarez could slip to 4 or 5? It seems
ridiculous to me given his hitting ability but I could see something
strange like that happening.

Jim Callis:
Well, I don’t think the Pirates are going to refuse to go over slot. I
think they would jump on Pedro Alvarez, but I’ll play along. The Royals
have taken Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas (who looks like a 3B to me),
so they could pass on Alvarez for pitching. Alvarez could slip to No.
4—and he’ll be advised by Scott Boras as well.

 Q:  A.J. from Chicago asks:
How does San Diego LHP Josh Romanski compare to Matusz? Where does he project to go?

Jim Callis:
Romanski’s stuff isn’t as good as his teammate’s, but he has solid
stuff and could get better once he focuses all his energy on pitching.
I think he’s a second- or third-rounder at this point.

 Q:  Miguel from Staten Island asks:
Hi Jim,

Do you see Allan Dykstra going in the top 40? Would the Mets take him with the 22nd or the 33rd pick? Thanks.


Jim Callis:
Yes, I do. He’s a 1B only, but he has power and has improved as a
hitter also. I think he could sneak into the first round. No. 22 is
possible, No. 33 is more realistic.

 Q:  Steve from Chicago asks:
Jim. There’s great fear in Chicago that the White Sox will continue to
not take the best available talent. Their 1st round picks in recent
years seem to be conservative picks while passing on much higher
ceiling players. Granted they’ve been picking lower in the draft, but
what do you envision them doing with this year’s 8th overall pick?
Watching the Tigers snag elite talent (some of which the Sox passed on)
while not being afraid to go over slot is not making Sox fans very
happy about the Sox’ recent draft philosophies.

Jim Callis:
I’ve heard that fear as well (I live on the North Side up here in
Subzeroland). Last year, GM Kenny Williams reportedly mandated landing
some multitooled athletes, but they loaded up on pitchers. I don’t
think you’ll see Jerry Reinsdorf start playing the over-slot game, but
I do think you’ll see the White Sox take a quality player at No. 8.
They might be in play for one of the first basemen, like South
Carolina’s Justin Smoak or Miami’s Yonder Alonso, or someone like
Skipworth. I’d be a little surprised if Chicago took another pitcher.
The Sox system is really bereft of advanced hitters right now.

 Q:  Landy from Hinsdale asks:
Sox fans believe Kenny Williams is enamored enough with Jordan Danks
that there’s contemplation about selection him 8th overall. Please
reassure me that this won’t happen. Please Jim. For the love of
Shoeless Joe, say it ain’t so…

Jim Callis:
Oh boy. The White Sox did take a late-round flier out of high school
and did deal for his brother. And if they wanted Danks, they might have
to take him at No. 8 because they won’t pick again until No. 84. But I
can’t see them popping Danks there at all, and he could be available at
No. 84. He looks great, but his bat isn’t what scouts thought it would
be at this point. So, it ain’t so . . .

 Q:  david from maryland asks:
who are the scott boras client for the 2008 mlb draft besides eric hosmer?

Jim Callis:
It’s still early, and not everyone is locked up. Confirmed Boras
advisees include Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez, Florida HS 1B Eric Hosmer
(the best bat in the HS class), California RHP Gerrit Cole and Georgia
RHP Joshua Fields.

 Q:  Ryan from Tampa, FL asks:
How do pitchers like Ryan Perry and Brett Hunter go from Low 90’s to upper 90’s in less than a year???

Jim Callis:
A lot of guys make a big jump (not necessarily that big) when they go
from high school to college. They mature physically, they get better
nutrition, they get better coaching, they may be pitching in warmer
weather (though not in those two cases), etc.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Will MLB ever get the hint and abolish their slotting recommendations altogether?

Jim Callis: No, but they’d have a more equitable draft if they would.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
your opinion, how much influence will Andy McPhail have on Joe Jordan
when it comes to who the Orioles pick? McPhail came in last year AFTER
the Orioles picked Wieters but BEFORE they signed him, and we know how
that almost turned out. Was that a coincidence? After the Townsend
draft pick debacle in 2004, Jordan has come in and has done real well.
Will McPhail disrupt that?

Jim Callis:
I think MacPhail mostly will leave Jordan alone, and I agree that
Jordan has done a good job. Remember too that Jordan had to clear the
Wieters pick with Peter Angelos, regardless. And the Cubs weren’t
afraid to go way over slot for guys like Mark Prior and Jeff Samardzija
while MacPhail was around.

 Q:  Chuck Dieringer from Toledo, OH asks:
can you please compare/contrast Tim Beckham to B.J. Upton as a high
school senior? Thanks. Are they the best 2 HS shortstop prospects in
the 2000s?

Jim Callis:
The best HS SS prospect this decade is probably Justin Upton, though
most people thought he’d move off the position eventually (right away,
as it turned out). That’s a pretty good comp, between Beckham and B.J.
— both had promising bats but didn’t have the power that Justin did.

 Q:  Picklefork from St.Louis asks:
Can Yonder Alonso move around enough to play a corner OF spot? Or is he locked in at 1B?

Jim Callis: Locked in at first base.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa,FL asks:
Jim. Thanks for taking the time for the chat today. Are there any prep
pitchers that are clearly top-of-the-rotation prospects in this draft,
similar to Homer Bailey in 2004, Vostad in 2005, Kershaw in 2006, and
Jarrod Parker in 2007?

Jim Callis:
Missouri HS RHP Tim Melville is the clear No. 1, though I don’t think
his buzz is quite as great right now as it was for the other guys
you’ve mentioned.

 Q:  jason from greenville, sc asks:
do the top college bats from this year (Alvarez and Smoak) compare to
the likes of Wieters, Gordan, Longoria from year’s past? If they were
all in the same draft, how would they rank?

Jim Callis:
They compare nicely . . . this is a great crop of college bats.
Factoring in defensive ability, I’d rank them: Longoria, Alvarez,
Gordon, Wieters, Smoak.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
Could I get your evaluation of Destin Hood? Is he a 1st rounder, or will he fall lower?

Jim Callis:
More of a second-rounder right now, but he’s very athletic and has been
mentioned as a guy who could easily play his way into the first round.

 Q:  Mike from Connecticut asks:
do you see the Red Sox targeting with their pick in the first round?
They are in need of a young catcher to bring along when Varitek finally
hangs it up. Do you see either Kyle Skipworth or Buster Posey (both in
your top 30 prospects) available when they pick? If not do they go best

Jim Callis:
Catcher is Boston’s biggest need, but both those guys will be long gone
at No. 30. I think the Red Sox are a prime candidate to grab an
over-slot talent who falls at No. 30, and snag a catcher like North
Carolina’s Tim Federowicz in a later round.

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
pitching duo has the most pro potential: UNC’s Alex White and Matt
Harvey, Missouri’s Aaron Crow and Kyle Gibson or Mississippi’s Lance
Lynn and Cody Satterwhite? I asked Aaron Fitt in the college chat and
he picked Crow and Gibson..

Jim Callis:
Aaron knows as much about college baseball as anyone! Rather, I should
say “more than.” I also would pick Crow and Gibson. Right now, Gibson
looks like the favorite to go No. 1 overall in 2009.

 Q:  Dave from Pensacola asks:
much will the Braves regret not signing Colby Shreve? A NV newspaper
reported that he wanted 200K while the Braves offered 125…

Jim Callis:
I’ve never heard for sure how close they were. Shreve’s stuff was down
at the end of last season and during the summer, which is why the two
sides couldn’t get together. I heard he looked very good in one of his
first outings this year, so the Braves may well regret it. I know they
regret the end of the draft-and-follow rule, because otherwise they
would hold Shreve’s rights.

 Q:  Keith from Lincoln asks:
Matusz or Crow? Why?

Jim Callis: Matusz, just barely. He’s a lefthander, he has a deeper repertoire and he’s better built for durability.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
Hey Jim,
What do you think the odds are of us ever seeing a global draft? What do you think the main stumbling blocks are?

Jim Callis:
I don’t see it happening. The logistics of trying to set that up are
formidable, the potential for under-the-table hijinks is huge and it
would drive the price up on some players.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Aaron Hicks going to be popped as a Pi or OF? Seems he has tools, but
is very raw with the bat. Doesn’t seem he it would be a surer thing on
the mound with his 97mph heat and maybe the best curve in his class?

Jim Callis:
Scouts are torn . . . they really don’t know right now. I agree, he’d
be a safer bet on the mound with his pure stuff. But if you believe in
his bat, you’d probably go that route.

 Q:  Ryan from Pittsburgh asks:
Jacob Thompson has dominated college hitters for 2 years. What’s the difference between him and Crow/Matusz? Lower ceiling?

Jim Callis: Yes. He has good to very good command of average stuff, while they have good to very good command plus stuff.

 Q:  Max from Richmond, KY asks:
do you see Eastern Kentucky junior pitcher Christian Friedrich going in
the draft? Some are saying he will go to the Cardinals at #13. I think
he would fit great in that organization.

Jim Callis: He might not even last that long. We have ranked at No. 9 overall right now.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Upton was a pure shortstop in the 2004 draft. Not any more. Brandon
Wood was a pure shortstop in 2003, but the Angels have considered
moving him third base. In 2004, we had Matt Bush. In 2005, we had
Justin Upton, now an outfielder. In 2006, Adrian Cardenas was a
top-drafted prep shortstop. He’s now a second baseman. Why is it so
difficult to make the jump to shortstop in the pros, and what makes
scouts believe that Tim Beckham will be any different than these former
highly-regarded prep fielders?

Jim Callis:
Beckham is a legit athlete with the arm, range and hands to stay at
shortstop. A lot of times, a high school shortstop is the best athlete
on his team if not a pro shortstop. That was the case with Cardenas.
B.J. Upton had the tools to play shortstop, but throwing accuracy
became a problem. Wood could play shortstop, but the Angels may have a
bigger need at 3B. Bush can definitely play shortstop, but he couldn’t
hit at all.

 Q:  Jonathan from GA asks:
Hey Jim,
Can you explain why the Braves did not recieve compensation for Andruw Jones and Dotel?

Jim Callis: They didn’t offer them arbitration. No arbitration, no comp picks.

 Q:  Dan McKay from Albuquerque, N.M. asks:
you’re the Giants, would you avoid taking a hitter at No. 5 because of
the system’s dismal record at developing position players? Is the team
better off just taking pitchers since that’s what it does best?

Jim Callis:
Not at all . . . with that kind of attitude, they’d never develop
hitters. I think they take the best guy and go from there, and that guy
very well could be Smoak or Alonso.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
don’t understand why Crawford from UCLA keeps showing up in the 1st
round while ASU’s Brett Walace doesn’t. Crawford really hasn’t done
much considering his supposed tools and the Curtis kid at UCLA looks
more impressive. Walace is huge kid with good athleticism for a 245
pounder. Look at his SB totals as well as his power and plate

Jim Callis:
Crawford very well may turn out to be overhyped if he doesn’t make more
consistent contact, but he’s a shortstop with solid tools. Wallace is a
first baseman only, a tremendous hitter, but he needs to prove he can
hit for the power teams want at first base. He’s going to play third
base this year, but not in the pros.

 Q:  Chad from Shreveport, LA asks:
the chats. With Villalona already working out at first, could the
Giants pass on a first baseman and take Harold Martinez to be the
future at 3rd?

Jim Callis:
Villalona probably will wind up at first base, which might deter the
Giants from taking Smoak or Alonso. No. 5 would be a bit rich for
Martinez right now though. He’s more of an 11-20 pick.

 Q:  Marcus from Lexington asks:
big of a season do you project UK’s Scott Green to have? At 6-8, 245
pounds, with a three-pitch mix and a 90s fastball, he seems like 1st
round potential.

Jim Callis:
I think he’ll have a big season and he has definite first-round
potential. He’s rank higher if he had more of a track record, but he
had Tommy John surgery and didn’t pitch much last spring. He was good
but not great in the Cape Cod League.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
On a scale of 1-10, how much of a joke is the slotting system?

Jim Callis: Eleven.

 Q:  Johhnnie from So Cal asks:
does Texas outfielder Kyle Russell factor in the First Round??? Or does
he? or is he the next Jeremy Burnitz, ala, all power, no batting

Jim Callis:
He’s not a first-rounder right now, even after leading NCAA Division I
with 28 homers last year. There’s too much concern as to whether he’ll
hit well with wood bats, which he never has done. That Burnitz analogy
is an interesting one—that’s how many teams see him.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
happy to see the draft prospects back in the handbook. When are these
rankings put together becuase they are a little different then the ones
released today?

Jim Callis:
We received many e-mails when we took them out of the 2007 Handbook to
make space for other features, and we listened. The book goes to print
in December, so those rankings in the book are about two months old.
Not much has changed—no games, obviously—but we have tweaked the
lists after talking to several sources.

 Q:  Steve from Las Vegas asks:
you needed a first baseman, and wanted the guy with the higher ceiling,
and the guy most likely to reach it, Hosmer or Smoak? andy why?

Jim Callis:
Smoak. It’s nitpicky—that’s the only way to separate top
prospects—but Smoak has proven himself at a higher level and he’s a

 Q:  Louis from Dallas, TX asks:
Is Christian Friedrich the next Barry Zito or the next Rich Hill?

Jim Callis: Rich Hill is the better comp. Friedrich has more fastball than Zito had.

 Q:  Tim from Sacramento asks:
you say that Brett Wallace is a lot like Daric Barton? Both seem to be
short and pudgy, but they are very good pure hitters who could use some
more power.

Jim Callis: Not a bad parallel . . . you guys are doing a nice job with some comps today.

 Q:  dave from columbia,md. asks:
Which of your consensus top4 picks do you think the Orioles would hope to have slide to them?

Jim Callis: I don’t think the Orioles are going to complain about getting Alvarez, Matusz, Crow or Beckham.

 Q:  Steve from Las Vegas asks:
you going to be covering the draf on tv again this year? I really
enjoyed it last year, Get them to cover the whole thing somehow
man…maybe 3 rounds on tv, and the rest on radio or the internet?

Jim Callis:
No details yet, but ESPN will broadcast some portion of the first day
of the draft and we should be involved. I think once MLB gets its
equivalent of the NFL Network rolling, you’ll see greatly expanded
draft coverage on TV.

 Q:  Paul from Oxford, Ms asks:
Mr Callis your on the clock, Satterwhite or Lynn?

Jim Callis: Satterwhite.

 Q:  Martin from Tampa Bay asks:
Where do you think Shooter Hunt will go in the draft?

Jim Callis: Right now, 11-20. But he has good stuff and if he’s a little more consistent, maybe even 6-10.

 Q:  Dirtbag Fan from Long Beach, CA asks:
Where do you see SS Danny Espinosa from Long Beach State being picked? Major strength? / Major weakness? Thank you!

Jim Callis:
He’s a real wild card. I’d guess third round right now. Scouts love his
glove—he’s one of the best shortstop defenders in this draft—but
worry about his bat.

 Q:  Tommy from Dallas, Texas asks:
What about a couple of Rice guys, St. Claire and Luna. Where do you see them going?

Jim Callis:
Cole St. Clair could be a first-round pick (and would have been last
year) if he’s healthy. Luna is moving from second base to the outfield,
he’s more of a third- to fifth-rounder at this point.

 Q:  David from Colorado Springs, CO asks:
How does Beckham’s signability look? Any red flags on that front?

Jim Callis: Nope, no red flags right now.

 Q:  bill from waco texas asks:
you talk about beamer weems and how his bat projects on teh next level.
his defensive skills seem to be very high already. thanks

Jim Callis:
It’s the same deal as Danny Espinosa. Weems is a terrific defender but
scouts have concerns about his bat. He’ll go in the first three to five
rounds, but right now he projects as a bottom-of-the-order hitter.

 Q:  David from Colorado Springs, CO asks:
Clarification: are there any red flags about /Tim/ Beckham’s
signability? But while we’re at it, why not ask the same ’bout Gordon,

Jim Callis: I assumed you meant Tim. No red flags on Gordon either.

 Q:  Mike from Brookline, MA asks:
Lightning Round? Mizzou or USD pitching staff?

Jim Callis:
Missouri. This probably won’t happen, but the Tigers theoretically
could have the No. 1 overall picks in 2008 (Aaron Crow), 2009 (Kyle
Gibson) and 2010 (Nick Tepesch).

 Q:  John from Chicago asks:
in 2008 Baseball America Prospect Handbook you not only rank the top 30
prospects for each team, but also rank the prospects for the upcoming
2008 draft? Maybe I should buy that book…

Jim Callis:
Yes, you should. Top 30 prospects for each team, top 100 draft picks
(in order) for both college and high school. Buy one today!

Moderator: That’s it for our first draft chat of 2008, with
many more to come in the future. Jim says to remind everyone that they
can submit draft questions to askba@baseballamerica.com (please include
your full name and hometown).