Opening Day Chat

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone, and happy Minor League Opening Day. I’m leading off the chat, so let’s go.

    Bryan (San Francisco): Is it unusual for the
    Rangers to send a kid like Robbie Erlin to Low A Hickory? He didn't
    really pitch last year after signing late, and is not your typical
    high-signing-bonus guy that might get pushed quicker. Plus they have a
    very deep system. Thanks!

Jim Callis: Not really. They paid over slot to sign
him, so they regard him highly, and ideally you’d like your better high
school pitching prospects to start their first full year in low Class
A. He’s an advanced pitcher for his age and should be able to handle
the assignment.

    Kyle (Arizona): How do you see Arizona Hi-A -
    Visalia's lineup this season, with Wheeler, Krauss, and Goldschmidt in
    the middle of that order? Which will be the best player long-term?

Jim Callis: That’s an imposing 3-4-5 group that should
put up nice numbers in the hitter-friendly Cal League. I like Marc
Krauss the best of that group, though I do like all three of them.

    David Bowen (Brushton, NY): The Dodgers are
    jumping Dee Gordan from Low A to Double A. According to BA, Gordan has
    a lot of raw talent, but is very unpolished. Is this a mistake?

Jim Callis: I don’t think so. He’ll be 22 at the end
of April and they’re trying to jump-start his development a little.
It’s aggressive but I can understand their thinking.

    Henry T (Sausalito,CA): True or False, by the end of the season Zach Wheeler is a top 25 prospect?

Jim Callis: I’ll say true. A lot of guys ahead of him on the Top 100 will graduate to the majors, and he’s very talented.

    Crash Davis (Durham, N.C.): Jim - for the past
    several years you have done your own shadow draft as a column after the
    real draft in June. How have your picks held up? What would your fake
    team's Top 10 prospect list look like coming into this year?

Jim Callis: I drafted Jason Heyward, so I feel pretty
good about that one. I don’t have all my draft lists handy at this
moment, so if you want a Top 10, send this question to (with your real name and hometown), and I’ll
tackle it in an upcoming column.

    Henry Thompson (Sausalito, CA): How concerned are you with the fact that Bumgarner's veolcity drop has carried over to this season?

Jim Callis: Starting to get concerned. It hasn’t
affected his results on the field yet, but he’s not the same prospect
if he’s going to live in the high 80s. Doesn’t seem to be hurt, so it’s

    JAYPERS (IL): Which minor leaguer on your Top 100 list do you see hitting the most homers this season and why?

Jim Callis: I’ll say Jesus Montero. Of all the
big-time power guys (Mike Stanton, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter), I
think Montero is the best hitter and will have the most minor league
ABs this year.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How much success do you
    think Matt Moore is going to enjoy at Port Charlotte? Do you see him
    playing there throughout the season?

Jim Callis: I could see him successfully defending his
minor league strikeout title. The Rays move their young arms slowly, so
I could see him spending the whole year there.

    Randy (Sandusky, OH): What are you guys hearing about Casey Crosby's elbow?

Jim Callis: For now, just that it’s tender. Troubling, especially considering he had TJ surgery three years ago.

    AndresM (Vzla): Good Afternoon,What's your thoughts on Jenry Mejia, Should he be Starting games at AA or in the Mets Bullpen?

Jim Callis: Starting games in Double-A, no question.

    Harold (Twin Cities): Thoughts on the Twins sending Hicks back to the MWL? What's his timetable?

Jim Callis: I was a little surprised by that because
he had finished so strongly there in 2009. I bet he doesn’t stay there
for long. He’ll probably need at least another 2-3 years in the minors.

    Joe (Toronto): Hey Jim, how worried should
    Blue Jays fans be about Brett Wallace's last 400 ab's? Also, what do
    you consider his ultimate upside to be?

Jim Callis: Not worried. I see him as a high-average (possible batting champ), 20 HR first baseman.

    Jim (Oakville): Any deep sleepers in the Jays system that you particularly like?

Jim Callis: Two guys outside the Top 10: C Carlos Perz and 2B Ryan Schimpf. I also like SS Tyler Pastornicky.

    Derrick (Chicago): Hey Jim, I'm a bit confused
    about Baltimore's 4th over all pick last year, Matt Hobgood. If the
    team believes he tops out as as a third starter, is it then worth the
    risk to take him so high considering how far he is from the show, being
    a high schooler?

Jim Callis: If the Orioles said that, they’re just
trying to reduce the pressure on the kid. They like him more than that,
though they took him No. 5 overall in part because he’d sign quickly.

    Riley (Denver): Hey Jim, with the Kinston
    Indians having a loaded pitching staff this year, which one of the
    starting five do you see having the best year? I'm thinking Alex Perez,
    who I believe will have a big year this year. Your thoughts?

Jim Callis: Could be Perez, but I’m most anxious to see a completely healthy Nick Hagadone over a full season.

    Kyle (Oxford): How legitimate is the Scott Rolen comparison for Nick Castellanos? Do you think he will wind up being a mid first round pick?

Jim Callis: Castellanos is a solid defender but not in
the same class as an in-his-prime Rolen, so I don’t like the comp from
that standpoint. I really do like Castellanos’ bat, though, and could
see him as a mid-first-rounder.

    Steven (Azuas, California): What type of year do you expect from Domonic Brown, he had a huge spring and I don't think the minor leagues can hold him.

Jim Callis: I think he’ll have a huge year. There’s no
open spot for him in Philly yet, but it will be interesting if reports
of Ibanez’ slowed bat are true. If so, maybe Brown pushes him out of
the way.

    Bill (Kokomo , Indiana): Jim , One more
    question....regarding Justin Smoak . Do you foresee Smoak in Texas
    before the All-Star break ? What kind of future...All Star , above avg.
    or average career ? Thanks again !

Jim Callis: I think he’ll be up by the all-star break and will become an all-star in the future.

    jr (valencia,ca): Garret Gould starting out in
    extended spring training? I was expecting to see him begin the year for
    Great Lakes? Any word as to why he is being held back? The dodgers are
    usually aggresive with their prospects, especially since he was signed
    above slot which they almost never do.

Jim Callis: My guess is they just want to keep him out
of the cold weather and on a regular schedule. The Rockies are doing
the same thing with Tyler Matzek.

    Andrew Harden (Dubuque, IA): I seem to
    remember a SS-prospect by the name of Adeinas Hechavarria who defected
    from Cuba near the end of 2009. I can't find him listed with any Major
    League club. Has he signed with anyone yet?

Jim Callis: He agreed to terms with the Jays but
there’s always a lot of red tape with Cuban defectors, so the deal
isn’t totally official yet. That’s why he’s not on a roster.

Jim Callis: I have to run, so welcome J.J. Cooper to the chat room. He extends our streak of diehard Steelers fans to two.

    Mick (Chicago): Has Tony Giarratano called it
    quits for good? I know he's only 27, but I don't know if he ever
    recovered from his many injuries to attempt a comeback. I thought he
    could've been a better than average big league shortstop.

J.J. Cooper: That’s a blast from the past. Last I
heard the answer is no, but I’ll be scouring indy league rosters in
another month or so. If he does attempt a comeback the Atlantic League
would be the place to start.

    Dave (Pueblo): How does KC's Wilmington starters of Montgomery, Arguelles, and Melville stack up among best rotation in minors?

J.J. Cooper: We think it’s the best in the minors to
start the season. In fact you left Top 10 Royals prospect Chris Dwyer
off your list. Check out Ben Badler’s story from today to see what other rotations stood out to us. That same story also picks Sacramento as having the best lineup.

    Brad (Nashville, Tenn.): Any word on when/where Edward Salcedo will start his minor league season?

J.J. Cooper: He’s being held back in extended spring
training for now, but don’t be surprised to see him in Rome before the
temperatures in Georgia hit 100, which being Georgia (I say as a
Georgia native) means by the start of June.

    Kyle (Oxford): What are your thoughts on
    Neftali Soto's partial transition to catcher? Does it improve his
    prospect status much if he can stick?

J.J. Cooper: It definitely improves his chances if he
can become a legit catcher. Soto’s biggest concerns before the move
were that he would become too slow and lack the agility to stick at
third base. If that meant a move to the outfield it would have meant
moving to a position where his bat is going to be average at best. If
he can handle catching, which does seem to suit some of his strengths
(strong arm, sturdy frame) his bat should make him an interesting
prospect. But we’re a long way from being able to say that he can stick
at catcher long term, right now he’s shown that he is willing to work
at the position.

    Ryan (Los Angeles, CA): A lot has been said
    about Jesus Montero's lackluster defense behind the plate. Do you think
    this will prevent him from being a potential call up sometime this year?

J.J. Cooper: Really it depends on the Yankees’ needs.
His bat could help the Yankees this year if they needed a first baseman
or designated hitter (which is only if injuries strike). If Teixeira
and Nick Johnson stay healthy it’s hard to see where he’d fit on the
roster. Now if Posada did go down with an injury, it would be
interesting to see if New York would try to live with Montero’s
defense, my guess is they wouldn’t. The Yankees are going to score a
ton of runs this year, so there wouldn’t be any reason to not put a
solid defensive catcher behind the plate if something happened to

    chris (NJ): who would you say has more chance to succeed at the major league level, Jose Iglesias or Jurickson Profar?

J.J. Cooper: That’s a tough question to answer because
Profar just turned 17. Iglesias clearly has a better chance to be a
major leaguer, just because as a plus defender who is already headed to
Double-A. Iglesias’ glove is good enough that it is highly unlikely
that he won’t reach the majors. Even if everything works out for
Profar, it’s unlikely he could match Iglesias’ defense. But Profar has
a higher ceiling as there is much more potential in his bat.

    Heels Fan (In a fog): Where do you Dustin Ackley playing this season? Both position and league wise?

J.J. Cooper: He’s headed to Double-A West Tennessee as a second baseman.

    DG (Paris, France): Hey Jim, I was wondering if the St. Lucie rotation received any consideration for the top five minor league rotation feature?

J.J. Cooper: We took a look at them, Jeurys Familia is
a very interesting guy to lead off a rotation and I am pretty confident
that he will get lots of votes when we’re compiling the Florida State
League’s Best Fastball tool come the midseason. And they do have some
depth with Allen, Moviel and Carson, but none of them were a top 10
prospect in the organization, so while it’s a deep rotation, it doesn’t
have the top-end talent as of yet to compare to the top five we picked.

    Louis (North Carolina): Too many Jays question from yesrterday to today.

J.J. Cooper: Then ask a question about your team. We’re trying to answer questions for as many teams as we can.

    Kyle (Oxford): What is the scouting report on
    Matt Klinker? He put up really good numbers in the upper levels of the
    minor leagues last year but did not get much notice on prospect lists
    this off season.

J.J. Cooper: He knows how to pitch and throws a low
90s fastball and a solid curve. There are scouts who think he’ll pitch
in the majors, but there wasn’t anyone I talked in the offseason who
thought he would be more than a decent arm in the pen.

    Henry Thompson (Saualito): The Giants
    recently signed Cuban defectee Reinier Roibal, the only information
    that I can gather is that he's a 20 year old right hander that has the
    capacity to throw is the mid 90's, do you guys have a scouting report
    on him?

J.J. Cooper: Sorry had a quick phone call. I don’t
have a complete scouting report as of yet, but he was one of the better
pitchers among the wave of recent Cuban defectors and unlike Aroldis
Chapman he’s had a history of success in Serie Nacional. His fastball
is plus, but like most Cubans the biggest question will be how he makes
the adjustments to life in the U.S. That’s as big a test as majing the
adjustment on the field.

    Brad (Warrensburg, MO): How come there has
    never been any information on this website about Paul Carlixte? If any
    other team signed an international shortstop for 7 figures I feel like
    I would know more.

J.J. Cooper: Take a deep breath Brad we’re not trying
to snub the Royals or anything of the sort. The Royals haven’t
officially signed Carlixte. He is a shortstop prospect with some
impressive tools, but he was one of the players suspended by MLB for age irregularities.
There were reports elsewhere that the Royals were close to signing him,
but as of yet that has not been finalized and we haven’t been able to
confirm that he is yet cleared to sign with a team.

J.J. Cooper: OK, I’m going to hand off to John Manuel
to continue the chat and end the streak of Steelers fans. But if you
want to butter him up, ask him about the Tar Heels.

John Manuel: Nah, right now, don’t ask me about the Tar Heels — still smarting from basketball season. On to the chat.

    Misplaced A's Fan (Tucson, AZ): Is Adrian
    Cardenas the third baseman of the future for Oakland or will he be a
    super utility guy? Can Grant Green stay at short or will he have to
    move to third? I've also heard that Jamile Weeks might be moved to
    center field. Any idea how my beloved A's will look once everyone,
    including Max Stassi, is ready?

John Manuel: It will all depend on the bat for
Cardenas. If he hits enough, he’ll earn an everyday slot, whether it’s
at second or third I’m not sure. I suppose there’s a chance he winds up
as a Mark DeRosa type, a guy who hits enough and is versatile enough to
be a super utility. Other utility types usually are better defensively.
I believe Cardenas will hit enough to be a regular, but probably not
for a championship-caliber team. Green’s a shortstop until proven
otherwise, and he should stay there. There’s some solid evidence that
he just had a slow start in 2009 and finished playing about as well as
he had in the Cape in ’08. Let’s see if he starts slow again with the
bat. I see Weeks at 2B, not CF. His actions aren’t tremendously fluid,
but he gets the job done there. Not sure what you mean by the last
question but why the rush with Stassi? What’s wrong with Kurt Klutch!
Always a big Suzuki fan.

    Henry Thompson (Sausalito, CA): In the
    Richomond outfield you have Neal, Ford and Kieschneck, if you had to
    take one who would it be? And, do you think Ford's improvements with
    the bat since he gave up switch hitting is for real?

John Manuel: I’d take Neal because of the bat. I do
think Ford’s improvements are real but I also believe he’s more of a
fourth OF guy, still some real contact issues. I’d rank him third in
ceiling behind Neal & Kieschnick but second in likelihood to
contribute, because that speed is hard to find and can play in a
reserve role offensively and defensively.

    Henry Thompson (Sausalito, CA): Would you rather take, Gary Sanchez or Michael Ynoa?

John Manuel: I do think Ynoa has a pretty significant
ceiling; I would prefer Sanchez, though, because of the inherent risk
in a 17-year-old pitcher who already has missed a year because of

    Grant (SD, CA): Can we expect Dexter Carter to figure it out this year? Lord knows we need some good pitching in our farm system.

John Manuel: Not sure what to make of my buddy Dex
these days. He’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who had a great year with
the White Sox last year but struggled badly after the trade. I’m a
Dexter Carter fan but the reality is the track record is that he’s been
good once in the last three-four years, and that was last year. He’s a
taller guy so it’s hard to keep his mechanics intact but he has not
done that consistently, really ever.

    JAYPERS (IL): Which minor league lefty do you see having the best 2010?

John Manuel: I’m a Martin Perez guy.

    Frank (Boston, MA): Who makes it to Fenway first - Lars or Rizzo?

John Manuel: This will will determine a lot of that, but I’ll still say Lars.

    Mick (Chicago): Is Minnesota Twins' James
    Beresford the best position prospect Australia has to offer? How high
    is his ceiling and can he stay at short?

John Manuel: He’s interesting because of his defensive
tools and his swing, but he’ll need to add a lot of strength. That
said, trying to figure out the best Aussie position player is tough
right now. Luke Hughes is a much better hitter but hasn’t found a
position and might be in the wrong organization from that standpoint. I
think Luke could be a second-division regular somewhere if given a
chance, it’s real power in there. I think those are the two answers to
that question, though.

    Kyle (Oxford): How do you like Alonso's
    chances of sticking in left field? What do you think ultimately happens
    with Votto, Alonso, Frazier, and Francisco?

John Manuel: Real tough deal there for Alonso. I think
he’s got a chance to do it, but probably not well. I do think the GABP
is smallish so he’s got more of a chance to do it there. Ultimately, I
would see them using one in a deal, but it’s unlikely they’ll get fair
value. Frazier . . . whew, they’ve screwed that one up, he hasn’t had a
plan. I see third base as his best position, but frankly I can see him
getting more playing time there at shortstop than anywhere else.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Any word on where
    Donavan Tate will start the season after his shoulder is healed? Also,
    what are your expectations of him this year?

John Manuel: He’s in extended, but it sounds like his
rehab has gone well this spring. I would expect him to start in the
Arizona League; the bat is probably the biggest issue with him anyway,
so I see the Padres trying to be protective and make sure he has some
confidence offensively. He’ll hit full-season ball next year, I think
he’s on the Aaron Hicks type of development plan.

    Adam (NYC): What teams jump out at you as
    being particularly prospect-laden? The one that jumps out at me is the
    AA Portland Sea Dogs (Casey Kelly, Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson,
    Che-Hsuan Lin, etc.)

John Manuel: Well, Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond
Jennings at Durham is a pretty great start; that team has a few other
interesting if older prospects such as Fernando Perez, Justin Ruggiano
and Heath Rollins. Sacramento has even more as a Triple-A club but they
aren’t as high-ceiling guys as Hell-boy & Jennings. All these are
covered here:

    Kyle (Oxford): I guess he doesn't count as a
    minor leaguer, but how do you think Mike Leake will fare in the big
    leagues? Is he any better or worse a prospect than when he was drafted
    last June?

John Manuel: No, he is who he is. I love Mike Leake
for his athleticism, the life on his pitches, his ability to make a
pitch and compete, and his track record, which is outstanding. I am
wary of Mike Leake because of his size and his heavy college workload
— he pitched 390 innings at ASU, plus some Team USA so he’s over 400
IP, and then he also played a position enough to get 90 career college
ABs. If you subscribe to the theory that players have a finite number
of bullets in their arm, well, he’s runnin’ low.

    John (Portland Maine): Do you see Michael Taylor starting in the Oakland outfield before the All Star Break?

John Manuel: Yes. He’ll hit his way into that lineup,
more of a pure hitter than a power guy despite his size. Hard to root
against Michael Taylor, great dude, good story.

    Kyle (Rome, NY): Jesus Montero? This guy seems like another overrated yankee's prospect to me! Why is he so special to everyone else?

John Manuel: There have been some of those, haven’t
there? Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain haven’t quite lived up to
expectations, for sure. But Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner are among
those who have exceeded expectations; David Robertson’s another. Just
throwing that out there. Montero is legit; the scouts I talked to
outside the organization last year were split on which was better, the
hit tool or the power tool. He has excellent strength in his swing.
There is some agreement that his catching has gotten better, his
receiving and quicker transfer throwing, but his ceiling as a catcher
is probably a 40 defender. The fact that internally the Yankees were
saying he probably wasn’t a future everyday C is what prompts me to
discount him somewhat as a catcher, but that position is still the most
logical spot for him in that lineup, with Posada’s age. I don’t think
he’s over-rated; I think he’s legitimate, he’s hit throughout his minor
league career and he’s built like a bull.

    Nick (Logan, Utah): Besides the obvious, Chris
    Carter, Ike Davis, Justin Smoak, can you name 2 other 1st basemen
    prospects who might have an impact in the bigs this season?

John Manuel: I’ll throw out the young Freddie Freeman,
because Troy Glaus is injury-prone and playing a new position in
Atlanta; and Brandon Snyder, because the Orioles are the Orioles and
Snyder can really hit. Garret Atkins is just a place-holder.

    Jon (Joliet, Il): Any chance we see Brent
    Morel in the Big Leagues this year? He had a nice spring, killer Fall
    League, and Teahen seems pretty suspect to me. Thanks!

John Manuel: That would be an upset, but I do like
Morel. He doesn’t have a loud, plus-plus tool, but he’s got 50s and 60s
everywhere and the glove is close to big league ready. Bat speed might
be the biggest question there, he doesn’t have a super quick bat, so
he’ll probably be an average offensive player rather than a plus guy,
but he can play third and he’s got some offensive ability, just not
star ability.

    Henry Thompson (Sausalito, CA): Buy or sell, either Crawford or Adrianza being a regular everyday ss eventually? Who do you like more?

John Manuel: Adrianza more as a regular guy but I
haven’t closed the door on Crawford. His track record of swinging and
missing is lengthy — UCLA, Cape, pro ball. He can play short though,
there’s not a big question on the defense, and if you go see him, go
early and watch him warm up, he’s a long-toss joker and really airs it
out, it’s fun to watch.

    Norberto (New York): Who do you think could have a breakout year? pitcher and hitter.

John Manuel: Not to steal Jim Callis’ thunder here,
but I’ll throw Kyle Gibson out as a breakout guy. Jim’s brought me
around on Gibson, I believe in the slider and the power sinker, as well
as his changeup. Three-pitch guy with room for projection. As for a
hitter . . . how ’bout Jean Segura, Angels? He sounds like a lil’ stick
of dynamite.

    Norb (Queens): Where do you think Brett Lawrie ends up on defense?

John Manuel: 2B if he wants, RF if he doesn’t because he does have arm strength and he can run.

    Josh (Philadelphia): Who in the Phillies
    system do you see taking a step forward and filling in the void left by
    the Halladay trade. I know Dom Brown is a stud, and the players brought
    in the Cliff Lee trade are solid, and the Phillies have a ton of high
    risk / high reward outfielders, but outside of Anthony Gose, who do you
    see as realizing that potential and taking a step forward this year.

John Manuel: Jarret Cosart will break out on the
mound. Watch their entire Lakewood roster, bursting with prospects,
just some high-risk guys, like Domingo Santana, Jiwan James, Jonathan
Villar, Cesar Hernandez . . . that’s going to be a fun team to watch. I
expect the Phils’ system to come back up actually this year, with the
development of some of those guys.

    William (Salt Lake City, Utah): Does Mike Minor his MLb debut at some point this season ?

John Manuel: You may be on to something; he is
starting out at Double-A. The only guys ahead of him might be guys like
Tim Gustafson, who was solid in winter ball but isn’t on the 40-man;
and guys like Jeff Lyman and James Parr.

    Kyle (Oxford): Who do you consider to be the Reds shortstop of the future, Billy Hamilton, Zach Cozart, Miguel Rojas, or Didi Gregorious?

John Manuel: Paul Janish isn’t an answer? Seriously, I
think Cozart or perhaps even Todd Frazier will be a placeholder before
one of those three younger jokers takes over; as of now, I’d pick
Gregorious of the group. I do like Cozart more than most, he’s steady
and has surprising pop. He’s a better version of Janish in that he’ll
hit more and he’s close to being as good as Janish with the glove.

    James (Youngstown): What kind of upside does Jeff Malm have? Just how raw is he?

John Manuel: He doesn’t strike me as raw; he strikes
me as maxed-out. He can really hit and that’s what he does. He doesn’t
have a Jaff Decker body but he’s somewhat similar in that he’s not that
athletic and is more of a hitter than anything else.

John Manuel: OK, well, it’s about 6 p.m. on the East
Coast, and that’s going to wrap it up for the chat. Check Ben Badler
and Jim Shonerd tonight at Opening Night in Greensboro, they’re both on
Twitter (@jimshonerdBA and @benbadler) and I’m sure they’ll keep busy
tonight. Thanks for all the questions and enjoy Opening Day!