Prospects And Draft Chat With Jim Callis

Ben (Leland Grove): If Zunino continues on this pace, do the M's have any room for him, or will his only shot at the bigs come following an injury?

Jim Callis: Well, it’s not like Jesus Montero is off to a hot start or can handle the defensive responsibilities of catching. No one is standing in Zunino’s way in Seattle. I don’t see the Mariners contending this year, so service-time considerations likely will come into play, but at this rate, Zunino should take over at some point in the second half. He’s the best catching prospect in baseball.

Frank (Chicago): I realize it's early, but do you believe Jackie Bradley and Brandon Maurer were rushed?

Jim Callis: I wouldn’t use performances to determine that. Jose Fernandez looked great in his first start–and there’s no question in my mind that he was rushed. (And I just wrote a column for the magazine on that subject.) I don’t really feel like Bradley and Maurer were pushed too much. The Red Sox needed a lefthanded bat, and they felt Bradley’s on-base ability and defensive skills would help ease his jump from Double-A. Like Bradley, Maurer had already had success in Double-A and uses a strong spring training as a springboard to the majors. Both may be headed for some Triple-A time in the near future, but I didn’t think either move was crazy.

Taylor (Napa, CA): How does Zunino compare to Buster Posey at this stage of of his career... and how about projecting forward? Thanks Jim!

Jim Callis: Two different types of players. Posey was a better pure hitter and a better athlete with a little more arm strength, while Zunino has more power and more polished receiving skills. As I mentioned earlier, Zunino in the best catching prospect in baseball. But he’s still going to have trouble catching Posey in World Series rings (two), MVP awards (one) and batting titles (one).

Grant (NYC): Do you believe an international draft will help or hinder the regular Rule 4 draft in terms of spending?

Jim Callis: I believe an international draft will be separate and not have any affect on Rule 4 spending. The Rule 4 guidelines are spelled out through 2016 in the current CBA. They’ll rise each year at the same rate that MLB revenues rise.

ridha (Chicago, IL): hi jim,is this draft deep enough in both pitching and position players for the cubs to make a serious impact in the rebuilding process and if u r picking #2 do you go for pitching or a bat?thank you

Jim Callis: It’s not a great draft, but in any draft, there’s talent available. The Cubs have the draft position and the extra spending power that comes with it to get some impact players. At No. 2, I’m taking the best guy available rather than targeting a specific need. That said, the Cubs really need some advanced pitching and the two best players available are college arms: Mark Appel (Stanford) and Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma). If the draft were today, I think the Cubs would take one of them.

Kyle (Tampa, FL): Your thoughts on the tandem starting that Houston's system is using (similiar to the Blue Jays' last season)? Will this help or hurt guys like McCullers, Tropeano and Folty going forward?

Jim Callis: That’s fine. It’s one way to manage innings for young pitchers.

R.C. COLA (Galveston, TX): Does it make more sence for the Astros to just pick Mark Appel #1 and hope he take below slot money. If he doesn't the conciliation prize would possibly be #1 and #2 pick in 2014.

Jim Callis: The only thing it makes sense for the Astros to do is to take the best available player. Right now, that looks like Appel or Gray. If the Astros think they’re pretty even, they could play them against each other and see who might take a little less than the other. But Appel isn’t going to have to take a deep discount. If Houston passes on him, the next few teams in line would all love to have him.

Brian (Boston, MA): Do you have any insight as to why Matt Barnes lasted only an inning in his AA debut? I didn't see any news of an injury.

Jim Callis: Jim Shonerd discussed this in his Tuesday Prospect Update: Barnes had a 33-pitch inning, and the Red Sox have guidelines that call for pulling a pitcher if he exceeds 30 pitches in one frame.

@Jaypers413 (IL): While the Twins are noted for moving their prospects along slowly, do you believe Buxton could merit a bump to Ft. Myers sometime this season if he continues on his current pace?

Jim Callis: As much as I like Buxton, I’ll take the under when it comes to maintaining a 1.515 OPS. Even if he tears up the Midwest League, I still think the Twins will keep him there for all or most of the season.

Ryan (Boston): What are your thoughts on Austin Wilson to the Red Sox at #7?

Jim Callis: No way that will happen. Don’t think the Red Sox like him anywhere close to that much and don’t see him going in the upper half of the first round.

Elmo (Hartford): Jim - thanks for the chat. In your opinion, what holds Kris Bryant back from being a top 3 draft prospect? Is there some concern his bat won't translate to the pros?

Jim Callis: While I don’t think Bryant will go in the top three, he might not last much longer and figures to be the first college bat drafted. I think the knock keeping Bryant out of the top three is that he’s an all-bat guy who winds up on an outfield corner or maybe first base. He’s not a five-tool type like high school outfielders Austin Meadows or Clint Frazier.

Bren (NY): There's a lot of trepidation over Zack Wheeler in the PCL from Met fans not used to the league. Are hitter friendly leagues really that big of a deal? Can't teams just rely on game reports about how a pitcher is throwing and adjust?

Jim Callis: Las Vegas is one of the worst places to pitch in the minors, and the Mets know that and will take it into consideration. Wheeler just needs to trust his stuff and throw more strikes, realizing that Vegas is going to ding him a little bit. He’ll be fine.

Brian (Ohio): The Indians need some advanced pitching. Outside of Appel and Gray is there a college pitcher worthy of that 5 pick, or do they go high upside bat?

Jim Callis: Appel and Gray would be easy decisions. They could consider Sean Manaea (Indiana State), Braden Shipley (Nevada) and Chris Anderson (Jacksonville). Maybe even a high school arm in Kohl Stewart. But I think Appel and Gray will be gone, and the Twins would love a college pitcher at No. 4. So I think it’s a bat for the Indians: Meadows, Frazier or Bryant.

Glenn (Irvine): What are your thoughts about Rafael De Paula? What is his upside and is he now the best Yankee pitching prospect?

Jim Callis: Intriguing. Glad we can finally see him against real competition at age 22. With Jose Campos coming back from elbow woes and Manny Banuelos and Ty Hensley currently sidelined, yes, DePaula is the Yankees’ best pitching prospect. Brett Marshall has a higher floor but I’ll take DePaula’s higher ceiling. Both his mid-90s fastball and his hard curveball could be at least plus pitches, if not more.

Goose (Chicago): Another impressive start from Rafael Montero last night. 15/0 K/BB ratio over 11.2 IP this far to start the season. Long-term ceiling?

Jim Callis: Plus fastball, solid secondary stuff, good command = potential No. 3 starter.

casey (texas): Clearly the minor league season just started, no reason to overreact to small sample size, but is there a chance Buxton has a better hit tool than expected?

Jim Callis: No. As you mention, small sample size, but I think most clubs evaluated him as a plus hitter and some gave him double-plus grades.

Bill (Atlantic City): The Phillies love taking those athletic but raw high schoolers. Is there anybody like that who would be a good fit for them with the No. 16 overall pick?

Jim Callis: Shortstop J.P. Crawford and lefthander/outfielder Trey Ball come to mind.

Tony (Maryland): Javier Baez seems to be a boom or struggle guy. One week is not enough to be troubled or elated by anything, but how ... much are scouts concerned about his ... aggressive approach to the game?

Jim Callis: You’d like him to show some semblance of discipline, but he also has a knack for hammering pitches out of the strike zone. The general feeling is that he’ll eventually figure out that pitchers won’t challenge him if they don’t have to, and he’ll adjust accordingly.

John Dreker (NJ): I saw Roman Quinn play last night for the first time and was extremely impressed. His speed is amazing, his arm is very strong(though not always accurate). He showed great range both ways and was calm on a grounder that ate him up, still getting the out. He made solid contact, no bad swings, hit an inside-the-park homer and made it without a throw and that was with him slowing into 3B because the 3B coach was late waving him home. It was just a gap shot, no outfielders falling down! So after an extremely small sample size, why is he only rated 100?

Jim Callis: Quinn is very athletic and very fast. The two concerns on him are whether he’ll make enough consistent contact and whether he’ll stay at shortstop. To rank in the Top 100, even at No. 100, without having played full-season ball should be regarded as an impressive accomplishment.

Jay (San Franciscso): Which under the radar Giants prospect could surprise in 2013?

Jim Callis: Lefthander Adalberto Mejia, who threw four scoreless innings in his first start in high Class A. He projects to have three solid or better pitches and he throws strikes. And the Giants seem to know something about developing arms.

Saluki (Chicago): If Mark Appel doesn't sign this year and goes to play ball in an independent league for a year, does he become a free agent after the 2014 draft? Would he then be subject to a teams draft money pool or sign with highest bidder?

Jim Callis: No. He would re-enter the 2014 draft. He’d only become a free agent if he passed through a draft without getting selected, which won’t happen.

Matt (VA): Do you see Kyle Zimmer being promoted in the next month or so?

Jim Callis: I think Zimmer can make quick work of high Class A, yes. I also wouldn’t be stunned if we saw him in the big leagues if the Royals are contending in the second half.

Brad (Frozen Effing Tundra, Minneapolis): Even as the snow has fallen here, Baseball is on the mind. Can you share your thoughts on what you've seen of Hicks so far? He's always struggled when first promoted to a new level, is that all this slump is, or is there more to be worried about?

Jim Callis: I think that’s mostly what it is. I know the Twins had holes in their outfield, but I didn’t understand jumping him from Double-A. Hicks has moved slowly and hasn’t exactly torn up the minors, so why start his service-time clock ticking? My one concern would be if Hicks struggles so much over an extended period of time that it does long-term damage to his confidence. I like him as a prospect, but I thought his ETA would be 2014.

Andrew (Minnesota): I know you can't just much off of a handful of games- but WOW, Byron Buxton, man. As a Twins fan I'm thanking HOU for passing on him. This dudes ceiling seems limitless. With his overall game, do you see him surpassing Sano as #1 Twins prospect? Still look like a Mike Trout comparison?

Jim Callis: I ranked him ahead of Sano on my personal list coming into the year (though Sano was close behind him on my Top 50). He might have the best package of tools and aptitude in the minors.

Casey (W.): What does Appel lack that makes him, not a true number one pick like Strasburg?

Jim Callis: Let’s go to the lightning round. All one-sentence answers for the last 10 minutes . . . Appel is a true No. 1 talent in this year’s draft, but his stuff simply isn’t as good as Strasburg’s.

Greg (Gilbert, AZ): Hi Jim, How could Sean Manaea go from a potential #2 overall pick to now somewhere around tenth or later? I know he hasn't been "lights out", but has a 0.99 ERA. What more does he have to prove? Would pitching in a smaller conference, cold weather climate, and lesser competition up north prohibit him from being a top 5 pick? Thanks! Greg

Jim Callis: I think he goes somewhere between 4 and 10, no lower.

Tim (Reno): What is you opinion on Braden Shipley from the University of Nevada?

Jim Callis: Think he’s going in the upper half of the first round somewhere.

Joel (KCK): I realize that Carlos Rodon is not draft eligible and has had issues with his command this season. Would he still rank ahead of any of this year's draft prospects if he were eligible? Thanks!

Jim Callis: I think he’d be a top-three pick and a possible No. 1 overall choice.

Mike (Maryland): Hey Jim, thanks for the chat. Question about the Rockies draft strategy and wondering what you think about this. Since it's so hard for the Rockies to know how a pitcher will fare in Coors, do you think they may value college summer league numbers more this year than ever before because numbers were so inflated from the juiced balls? I ask mainly for Manaea going to them and potentially Seton Hill's Alex Haines later on and if they may be more attractive to the Rockies than other teams because they've already proven to flourish in hitter havens like the Cape and NECBL were this past summer. Any value to this thought?

Jim Callis: Interesting but I think college summer stats won’t be more than a tiny piece of the puzzle.

Mike (Ithaca, NY): I was recently able to catch a game in Scranton and saw Jeremy Hazelbaker for the first time in person. He looks to have above-average power with some swing and miss to his game. What are his chances of becoming a regular in RF at the Major League level

Jim Callis: Has the tools, needs more consistency with the bat as you noted.

Greg M (Pittsburgh): After seeing the bonus allotments for this year's draft, should the Pirates pick a player that will go below slot at 9 or 14 and then use the rest of the savings for the rest of their draft class? Seems like a smart strategy.

Jim Callis: I’d favor taking the best players available with two upper-half-of-the-first round picks because there’s less wiggle room to still get a stud and have leftover cash than there is at the top of the draft.

Not Jaypers (Wisconsin): Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa long term?

Jim Callis: Webster.

John (Madison, WI): Doesn't the new CBA allow for teams to trade portions or all of their international bonus pool money? Is this already in effect and do you see any teams taking advantage?

Jim Callis: Is in effect, do think we’ll see some trades because clubs will have divergent opinions of the value of that international cash.

Jeff (Bay Area): The Padres system is loaded with pitching. Any guess on what the team's starting rotation will be in 2015?

Jim Callis: Fried, Kelly, Wisler, Leubke, TBA.

steven (denver): what do you make of the David Dahl demotion and do you think this will impact his development this season?

Jim Callis: Not a big deal, just a rules transgression, no real impact on his development.

Ernie (Santa Fe, NM): Jim, What is keeping DJ Peterson from being mentioned with the top prospects ?

Jim Callis: Similar to Kris Bryant, he’s a bat-only guy, but he’s one of the top three college bats in this year’s draft along with Bryant and Colin Moran.

Jim (Seattle): What are your thoughts on Maurer so far? Have you seen anything that makes you question his potential long-term success, or is this just an example of the difficulty in making this jump?

Jim Callis: The latter.

Andy (Chicago): So what is the ceiling for Tepesch? I know that it is only one game but he sure looked good and plays for a team that plays good infield defense.

Jim Callis: No. 3 or 4 starter.

Fonz (Milwaukee): In your view, is there a halo effect on players from certain programs? For example, will Colin Moran be dinged in the draft because of Dustin Ackley's slow MLB start? Do Stanford hitters / Rice pitchers get dinged?

Jim Callis: Halo effect exists to some extent; no on Moran specifically though they’re similar hitters; yes on Stanford hitters and Rice arms for some clubs.

Ben (The Bronx Empire): If the Yankees draft a college OF with one of the first 3 picks, (Judge, Wilson, Ervin all possibilities), they would have a glut of OF prospects with Austin, Williams, and Heathcott already in the system. Speculate for me: how would they manage that? Move Austin to 3B?

Jim Callis: More likely to let the situation play out and see who can claim major league jobs, don’t see moving Austin back to the infield.

Pat (Brookfield, CT): I believe the Red Sox will be hurt most by the new draft spending limits because no team has exploited and been as successful than the Red Sox with drafting over slot players and players with signability issues. Do you agree?

Jim Callis: That’s fair to say because the Red Sox were the most aggressive team that wasn’t consistently picking near the top of the draft.

Keith (NJ): Hi, Jim Who arrives first and who is better prospect. Carlos Sanchez or jonathan Schoop? Thanx!

Jim Callis: Give me Schoop for both answers.

Chel (Houston): Can you compare Appel to Cole when he came out? Would he have ranked higher than Cole that year?

Jim Callis: No, again a difference in stuff.

D.J Davis (Up North): Can I make a jump into the top 50 of all MiLB players? Am I really as fast/faster than Billy Hamilton?

Jim Callis: Top 50 talent but maybe a year away from that; maybe could beat Hamilton in a straight 60 but no one is faster than Hamilton on the diamond.

JT (Michigan): How worried should we be that Gerrit Cole's third pitch is shaky? He's universally called a potential ace, but without a consistent third offering.......

Jim Callis: His changeup is pretty good, and there aren’t many big leaguers who rely heavily on their third pitch.

Andy (Nashville, TN): Do you think Stryker Trahan sticks at catcher, or do the D-Backs move him to OF or 1B, where his advanced bat will shorten his ETA?

Jim Callis: I think he winds up in RF.

Johanus (MD): Which of the following MI has the highest upside? Who is most likely to reach his potential? Roman Quinn, Luis Sardinas, or Delino DeShields Jr. ?

Jim Callis: Like them all, but I’ll say DeSheilds for both answers.

Andy (Nashville, TN): While the Rays have developed HS pitching prospects very well, they have not had the same success with HS hitters (I believe Jennings is the only home-grown HS bat on roster). Do you think any of the many HS hitters taken in the '11 and '12 drafts can become future impact bats?

Jim Callis: That group may have some future big league regulars but I don’t see any impact bats there.

Dwayne (Greensburg, PA): How far is Ryan Stanek falling?

Jim Callis: He’s starting to turn it back around and I see him going in the teens, with the possibility of moving up further in the next two months.

Andy (Nashville, TN): Who do you prefer out of the Rangers' massive quantity of raw, toolsy outfielders (Mazara, Guzman, Brinson, Jarmon, N. Williams)?

Jim Callis: Brinson.

Jeff (Duluth, MN): When the Twins draft at 43, will Tom Windle be worthy of that pick?

Jim Callis: Yes, but may not last that long.

Jack (Glenview): What are the odds Jorge Soler gets a cup of coffee with the Cubs this September? Is that even a possibility?

Jim Callis: He’s already on the 40-man roster, so it’s possible.

Billy (Houston): Jim, are Kohl Stewart and Trey Ball the first two HS arms off the board?

Jim Callis: That’s my best guess.

Nick (Slippery Rock. PA): When will Matt Adams finally get the full time job he deserves?!?

Jim Callis: After he gets traded.

Jeb (Chicago): Who are you most bullish/bearish on in this draft compared to the consensus?

Jim Callis: Looking at our midseason Top 50 list, I’d say bullish on Phillip Ervin and bearish on Michael Lorenzen.

Regurgitating Gordon Wood (New Orleans): True or false, Max Fried is the best left handed prospect left in the minors by season's end?

Jim Callis: True.

Jeb (Chicago): Do teams drafting at the back end of the first round bother scouting likely top-5 picks?

Jim Callis: They’ll do some due diligence just in case but won’t waste much time.

Will (Normal, IL): Jim, do we have an in-state 1st rounder for 2014 in RHP Sam Coonrod?

Jim Callis: We very well might, and he’d easily be the best college prospect in the state if he were draft-eligible this year.

Jim Callis: That’s all I have for today. You guys came out in full force–I answered a bunch of questions and there were still 189 left in the queue. See you next Wednesday!