Jim Callis Chat: June 27

    Mike (New York): In the past, Baseball America writers have consistently stated that Wheeler "pie in the sky" ceiling is that of a number 2 starter. With a fastball that now sits at 95-97, better off speed stuff, and improved command, does he now have a ceiling
    of a number 1?

Jim Callis: Personally, I think people are splitting hairs between No. 1 and No. 2 starters, and there aren’t many true No. 1s to begin with. I use “frontline” or “front-of-the-rotation” starters.
Whatever you want to call him, Wheeler is an outstanding pitching prospect.

    Bob (San Diego): How would you rate the Padres draft and what players stand out to you from their draft? Also, do you hear any rumblings of who they might sign on July 2nd? Thanks!

Jim Callis: I expect the Padres will sign the rest of their guys in the first 10 rounds (Travis Jankowski, Walker Weickel, Walter Lockett) soon. Their draft looks good, helped by the fact they had four picks before the second round. Max Fried at No. 7 might be the best pitcher in the entire draft. They got a lot more good arms with guys like Zach Eflin, Weickel and Lockett, and I like what Jankowski brings to the mix with his speed and defense. There are a lot of strong arms and speedsters in this crop. Ben Badler is our international expert, so I’ll let you email him at benbadler@baseballamerica.com on the second question. He knows a trillion times more than I do on that stuff.

    Rory (Mexico): Hello Jim,

    Do you see Oscar Taveras and Nick Castellanos as future all-star type talent? Do you see Taveras 60/high rating change to maybe a 65/medium after such a great year?

Jim Callis: I do see both those guys as future all-stars. Haven’t thought about the BA Grades recently, but will have to because the start of our Handbook work is only 2-3 months away. I’d say more 65/High or 60/Medium rather than bump him up in both regards.

    Itto (Aguadilla PR): Hi Jim, do you see Cubs 3B Jaimer Candelario as a Cubs top 10 and BA top 100 by the end of the year?

Jim Callis: Cubs Top 10 if he keeps this up. Not too many short-season guys make the Top 100 Prospects list, so he’s probably
at least a year away from that.

    JT (Rockville, MD): Brett Jackson has solid across-the-board tools. He has a decent approach, decent eye. Bat speed doesn't seem to be an issue. He has shown enough power that if he
    has to move to a corner role, he should have enough power for it. So ... what is his problem? He's had two awful stretches this year where the K's were close to 50%. Swing mechanics? It's been noted there's a hole in his swing, but it didn't sound that major. Breaking balls? But
    ... it's not like he can't recognize spin, so what is it about breaking

    It just seems like an odd ... package, a guy with a decent eye, reportedly not a hacker (in terms of wildly swinging at things), yet striking out at such a high rate.

Jim Callis: His swing isn’t as long as it was in college but it gets too mechanical at times and he always has had some swing-and-miss issues—though not to the extent he has shown in 2012. I think you sum it up well by calling it an odd package. He’s going to draw some walks but he’s always going to strike out and probably won’t hit for a high average. I like him as a prospect, but he’s always been more of a solid player than a superstar, and the excessive strikeouts this year have knocked down my opinion of him some.

    Joe (Milwaukee): Did you notice a particular tipping point in which the majority of major league teams started "punting" their draft picks by taking guys based on cheaper price tags? If so, is this an indication that the slots at/beyond these picks are set too high and should be lowered in future years (i.e. the best available talent was not worth the slot price tag so savings became preferable)? Flip side: does the desire of teams to save in later rounds
    in order to overpay Rounds 1+ indicate those slots are set too low and should be raised? Counter to the flip: clearly the Astros deemed no player worthy of a $7.2 million bonus. How differently would the new system play out in a draft loaded with star talent?

Jim Callis: Well, it started at the top of the draft. The pick values negotiated between MLB and the MLBPA were set high at the top to give the worst teams more room to sign players. Look at what the Astros have done, taking Carlos Correa No. 1 overall and saving enough to spend big on Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz. Those pick values won’t be lowered because the draft is working the way MLB wanted.
(In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think the MLBPA really cares much how the draft works as long as the draftees aren’t getting horribly
taken advantage of.)

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): In what order would you rank the top arms in the Reds system after taking pitchers the last two years in rd 1 of the draft (Corcino, Stepenson, Travieso, Cingrani, Sulbarab, Romano)?

Jim Callis: Tough call, because those guys are mostly close. I’d say Stephenson, Cingrani, Corcino, Travieso, Sulbaran, Romano.

    Dwayne (Greensburg, PA): Jim, thanks for the chat. Assuming that the Pirates sign Appel. Do any other organizations
    have as much upside pitching in their system? Who comes the closest?

Jim Callis: To me, a Cole/Taillon/Appel trio would be the best threesome of pitching prospects in the game. Right behind them would be Walker/Hultzen/Paxton with the Mariners. Bauer/Skaggs/Bradley would be right there, too, but Bauer is in the majors.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): When will we see Bubba Starling play? I'm surprised he's not already on a rookie or short season team.

Jim Callis: Any day now. He was always destined for Rookie ball this summer, and hamstring issues have delayed his debut.

    Marco (PA): Should Rays fans have intrigue in Archer's first performance as a sign that he has started to fix some of his control woes?

Jim Callis: He definitely has an intriguing arm. I wouldn’t say he’s fixing his control woes based on his first two big league starts, because before that he was averaging 5.3 BB/9 in Triple-A. If he can improve his control and command, he’s a late-inning reliever in the long run. And might be anyway on Tampa Bay’s deep staff.

    Jim (Boston): Who has higher upside Tyler Austin or Alen Hanson?

Jim Callis: I’d say Hanson because he’s a middle infielder, though I do like Austin’s bat more. Those are two of the best
breakout prospects this year, undoubtedly.

    Greg Hines (arizona): when is the mid season top 50 out? Do you see Austin Hedges as top 50 prospect or near?

Jim Callis: It will be in the issue we’re currently working on, which goes to print toward the end of next week (the list should be online around the same time). I don’t see Hedges quite in the Top 50, but he’s in the discussion.

    John (La Habre, CA): What is the deal with the Giants being so slow to sign their top ten round guys? At this point shouldn't Agosta and Williamson be signed? Also do you think they will sign for slot?



Jim Callis: With only five guys signed in the top 10 rounds, the Giants are tied with the Orioles for the lowest number in baseball. I’ve been surprised by that, too, as I don’t see the Giants’ picks as tough signs or guys who were drafted out of whack with how good
they are. I still think they’ll sign all those guys for close to pick value.

    Josh (west babylon): Where does Kyle Zimmer rank in the Royals farm system? and what do his pitchers grade out as?

Jim Callis: Both his fastball and curveball are plus-plus pitches at their best, his changeup could be a plus pitch down
the road and his slider projects as average. I’d take him over any pitcher in the Royals system and would rate him as Kansas City’s third-best prospect, behind Wil Myers and Bubba Starling.

    Bill L (Bozeman, MT): When folks ask me about TDA I tell them inside the park is great, outside it will never be the same. Your thoughts?

Jim Callis: I feel the exact same way. It’s a beautiful
park, much easier to get in and out of than Rosenblatt, but I miss the Rosenblatt atmosphere. And as John Manuel points out, with the new bats and new park, it’s just about impossible to hit a home run at TD Ameritrade unless you pull the ball down the line. It’s like watching deadball era baseball at times.

    Mets Fan (Queens): Lets hear a little bit about Wheeler for all the non-insiders

Jim Callis: Great fastball, improved slider and changeup, also has a curveball. Really maturing into one of baseball’s best pitching prospects.

    Fred (New York): He's not Adam Dunn, but George
    Springer is striking out a ton. He rising or dropping in your personal top 100 list given the monster secondary skills on the one hand but on the other wondering if he'll hit enough to use them?

Jim Callis: That’s who George Springer was supposed to be. Tremendous package of tools mitigate by swing-and-miss issues. My opinion of him really hasn’t changed from what it was going into or coming out of the 2011 draft.

    Luke (Oakland): What is the latest on Michael Ynoa? Is he going to pitch this season?

Jim Callis: I’m at the point where I’m not sure Ynoa really exists.

    Ted (St. Louis, MO): Is there a rule requiring a
    team to offer a certain percent of slot in order to be eligible to receive another pick next year for not signing a player?

Jim Callis: No. A team doesn’t have to make an offer to
player in order to receive a compensation pick for not signing him. Compensation only applies to players drafted in the first three rounds.

    Fred (New York): Gerrit Cole's been awfully consistent and effective, maybe more so than expected. Where does that put his expected arrival time, assuming he continues apace and the liner
    off the neck (yikes!) is just a small bump in the road.

Jim Callis: I think he’ll be in Pittsburgh early next year, after his free agency (and perhaps his arbitration) are delayed for an extra season.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): I see Anthony Alford has returned home to play football. When can we expect him back on the diamond?

Jim Callis: Next June. He’ll be tied up with school until then.

    Gary (NJ): Are collge seniors in a worse position with negotiating then before. Is there added pressure on college juniors to sign or get the "senior" treatment?

Jim Callis: I don’t think so. Garden-variety college seniors didn’t get paid much in the past either. Now they’re just getting drafted earlier so clubs can save money in their bonus pools. As
for juniors, for the most part they usually want to sign so I don’t believe that has changed much either.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): How certain are you that all first rounders will get signed at this point, from 1 to 10?

Jim Callis: I’ll say an 8. I don’t think the Nationals would have taken Lucas Giolito if they didn’t think they’d sign him, and
in the end, I think Mark Appel will accept $4 million or so from the Pirates rather than re-enter the 2013 draft. If any of the other eight currently unsigned first-rounders don’t turn pro, I would be surprised.

    Ted (St. Louis, MO): You mentioned that Ramsey received the 5th highest bonus for a college senior. Do you see him as being on par with those other players, talent-wise?

Jim Callis: The Cardinals better hope he’s better than that, because Matt LaPorta, Kenny Baugh, Casey Weathers and Josh Fields haven’t turned out too well. All those guys ranked higher on our predraft rankings than Ramsey (No. 51 on the BA 500), but I do like Ramsey’s bat and love his makeup. If he can play second base, all the better.

    Tom (San Francisco, CA): Jim, do you envision the Jays getting Stroman, DeJong & Kellogg into the fold? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Stroman and DeJong, yes. Not sure there will be enough money left to sign Kellogg, though I don’t know his asking price.

    Ted (St. Louis, MO): How surprised were you to see that Ramsey had signed so close to slot?

Jim Callis: As a senior, I thought he’d come in closer to $1.25 million than the $1.775 million pick value (he got $1.6 million). But it sounds like there were teams close behind the Cardinals
willing to pay him if he got to them, so that helped.

    Ted (St. Louis, MO): With Taveras playing so well in Springfield, as well as Miller struggling in Memphis, how close would you say he is to taking the spot as the #1 prospect in the Cards' system?

Jim Callis: Very close. I think you can make an argument for either guy. I’m leaning toward Taveras.

    Jack (Toronto): Jim, if buying out a college football commitment in the future wouldn't count against any draft budget, do you see teams exploiting this by signing players for under slot with wink, wink deals of giving them the rest of whatever they want
    in a year? I know teams typically like to control their players exclusively and injury is always a concern, but this almost sounds like a
    good approach for some teams to encourage a player or two to go this route and allocate some of that players slot amount to other picks in the current draft.

Jim Callis: It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I assume you’re asking in regard to Anthony Alford, and there’s plenty of precedent of teams ripping up a football player’s original draft contract and giving him more money to focus solely on baseball. If there’s any prearranged deal, that would be against MLB rules. But if it happens naturally, it seems fair to me. There are so few legitimate baseball prospects playing college football, though, so I
don’t see it becoming a huge issue.

    Mitch (NJ): More I read about Albert Almora, more I wonder if he was slightly over-hyped. Nice, all around talent with good tools ... but doesn't seem to have elite tools. Why were folks so high on him, or was it a byproduct of this draft?

Jim Callis: I wouldn’t say he has elite tools, but he has good tools that play up because of great instincts. His ceiling may not be quite as high as some of the guys at the top of this draft, but his floor isn’t as low as theirs either.

    Aaron (Metroplex): Does Profar change positions, or how do you project him in Texas or do you see him being trade bait?

Jim Callis: Depends on whether he sticks with the Rangers. If he does, I believe Andrus stays at shortstop and Profar may go to second base and push Kinsler to the outfield. If he gets traded, no reason Profar can’t stay at shortstop.

Jim Callis: I’m off to chase some more draft signings and peruse our in-progress Midseason Top 50 Prospects list. Ask BA returns on Monday, and I’ll be back to answer more questions next Wednesday. See you then!