Propsects Chat With Jim Callis

Q:  Jerry from Albany, NY asks:
I know that it is early, but with the Cape Cod League over and most of
the highschool showcase events completed, who are the top prospects for
the 2007 draft? How about an early top 20!

Jim Callis:
Hi, everyone. There are 112 questions already, so I’ll get cracking. I
won’t get into a Top 20 here, but I have been focusing on the Cape Cod
League and am well versed on the college side of things. The top three
college prospects for the 2007 draft right now are (in whatever order)
Vanderbilt lefthander David Price, North Carolina State righthander
Andrew Brackman and Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters.

 Q:  tyler carroll from Willows, C.A asks:
how long do you think it will take for Tim Lincecum to move up the minor leagues to the big leagues as a starting pitcher.

Jim Callis:
Still not sure if the Giants see Lincecum as a starter or reliever in
the long term, but I’d give him every chance to start (and believe they
will do the same). I think you’ll see him in the majors next year.

 Q:  Sean from Reston, VA asks:
get it out of the way early … What is Ty Clippard’s ceiling after
this impressive season (not even counting the no-no last night). Is it
a #2? #5? Somewhere in between? And what is the difference between a #2
and a #3?

Jim Callis:
I knew there would be some Tyler Clippard questions. He is what he is
— a guy with great minor league numbers and pretty ordinary stuff.
There are a lot of guys like that. I’d project him as a No. 4 starter,
though I’m notably conservative. Those slots just represent where you
think a pitcher would fit in a good rotation. They mean different
things to different people.

 Q:  Dave from Boston asks:
Matt Weiters or Justin Smoak?

Jim Callis:
Those are the two top position guys in the Cape Cod League summer, and
former high school teammmates (Goose Creek, S.C.) to boot. It’s close,
but I’d give the edge to Smoak.

 Q:  Commish from NY asks:
curious why Jose Tabata is getting more attention than Fernando
Martinez. Martinez put up superior numbers in low A and is currently
holding his own at high A despite being just 17 and even younger than
Tabata. Also, do you recall any time when there were 3 players
(including Andrus) doing so well at such young ages?

Jim Callis:
They’re both comparable prospects, and I don’t think anyone who follows
player development closely is giving Martinez short shrift. The reason
Tabata may seem like he’s getting more attention is that Martinez got
hurt and missed the Futures Game, where Tabata got some nice exposure.

 Q:  David from Las Vegas,NV asks:
are your thoughts on the third base situation in Colorado? Obviously
Atkins has continued to progress, but he has Stewart behind him, who is
6 years younger, has more potential, and is the jewel of the system.
What are your thoughts as to how its going to play out?

Jim Callis:
Atkins has continued to progress. I still think Stewart will be the
better player in the long run, but he is struggling some in Double-A
this year. The gap between the two has narrowed, but I’d still bet on

 Q:  Steve from VA asks:
does Orioles prospect Garrett Olson project? I seem to hear more about
Liz and Erbe, but Olson has been solid since moving up to AA

Jim Callis:
Solid but less spectacular than those other two guys. If Liz and Erbe
hit their ceilings, they’ll be frontline starters. Olson is more of a
mid-rotation guy.

 Q:  Matt from Oklahoma City asks:
is Michael Wilson of the Mariners’ system virtually persona non grata
to the scouting world? He’s plenty young and all he’s done is rake at
every level, with an OPS of about .940 between High A and AA this
season. What gives?

Jim Callis:
He’s not persona non grata, and he’s also 23 and in his fifth year of
pro ball, so he hasn’t been moving very quickly. He came into the year
with a career .803 OPS, with exactly one year in full-season ball, so
I’m not sure how he’s raked at every level. He has some tools but it
has taken him a while to figure out how to use them.

 Q:  Omar from Windsor asks:
Anybody expect Deolis Guerra to be this good this soon?

Jim Callis:
Maybe the Mets did, but I didn’t expect him to pitch like this in
full-season ball at age 17. He’s clearly one of New York’s best

 Q:  Tim from Houston, TX asks:
you think that Jason Hirsh will have the same positive effect on the
Astros playoff push that Fransico Liriano had with the Twins and Jared
Weaver had with the Angels, or is he out of their league?

Jim Callis:
I like Hirsh but wouldn’t quite put him in that class. I also don’t
think he’s going to be able to do enough to get the Astros into the
playoffs. They’re behind too many teams in the NL wild-card race.

 Q:  Hank from Rolla, MO asks:
Who do you take: Blake Hawksworth or Jaime Garcia? Why?

Jim Callis:
If you could guarantee me that Hawksworth’s arm problems are completely
behind him, I’d take him. I liked him a lot before he started getting
hurt. I’ll still give him a little edge because he has a longer track
record and is getting it done at a higher level.

 Q:  Peter from Ohio asks:
am a rare Blue Jays fan out here in Cleveland. There are a couple of
young bats in there minor league system that I am very curious about.
What are your long term thoughts for Adam Lind and Travis Snider,
average regulars or potential stars?

Jim Callis:
Snider had the best high school bat in the 2006 draft and has a chance
to be a star. I see Lind as more of a solid regular, not that there’s
anything wrong with that.

 Q:  Sammy from Clute, Texas asks:
Why not call up Brad Lincoln to the pirates?? what do we have to lose?

Jim Callis:
If he got knocked around, it could effect his confidence (though I
don’t think that would be a problem in Lincoln’s case). It would
require a spot on the 40-man roster, but the Pirates could find one to
spare. Lincoln hasn’t torn up low Class A, so I wouldn’t push him.
He’ll be up quickly in any case.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Bailey or Hughes?

Jim Callis: I’d take Homer Bailey, but they’re so close. Probably the two best pitching prospects in the upper minors.

 Q:  Adam from VA asks:
seem to think J. Brent Cox doesn’t have the pure stuff for a role as a
closer, that he’s more suited as a middle reliever. Is Melancon more
likely to be Rivera’s successor?

Jim Callis:
That’s a fair assessment, provided Melancon regains his health. He has
more fastball than Cox does, though both have good breaking pitches.

 Q:  Ward from Anaheim asks:
Adenhart has been dominant all year. After missing an entire year due
to injury, has he played himself back into the top 25 prospects?

Jim Callis:
I haven’t plotted out a Top 25 in my mind yet, but Adenhart could pull
that off. He’s 100 percent and looking very good this year. He was the
best pitching prospect in the low Class A Midwest League until he got

 Q:  Walter from New Jersey asks:
have always judged the numbers Joe Koshansky has produced, because he
has always been older than his peers. Being 24 years old in AA looks
alot better than being 23 in lowA. Does he fit into the Rockies future,
considering Todd Helton is blocking his way at 1B?

Jim Callis:
Koshansky is a decent athlete, so he could get a look on an outfield
corner. He has a better chance of pulling that move off than Ryan
Shealy did.

 Q:  Bryan from Chicago asks:
a Cubs fan, I am disappointed with the peformances of Angel Guzman,
Carlos Marmol, and Sean Marshall. Do they have any other pitching
prospects in the system that I should be excited about?

Jim Callis:
Don’t be too disappointed — rookie pitchers are going to be
inconsistent. The best pitching prospect that the Cubs have in the
minors right now is lefty Donald Veal, who is progressing rapidly. Sean
Gallagher also has taken a nice step forward with his stuff this year.

 Q:  Waldo from Arizona asks:
Bruce has tailed off recently. Is this a result of playing so many
games for the first time, or a fall back to realistic numbers?

Jim Callis:
More fatigue than that he might have been overachieving. Bruce is a
very, very good prospect and overall has had a very nice year in the
Midwest League.

 Q:  Brent from Salem asks:
are the chances of Dustin Pedroia being the starting 2B in Boston next
season? Is a .300 avg and 15 HR power too optimistic for his potential?

Jim Callis:
He could be the starter at second or short, as I think the Red Sox will
explore a variety of options. I think that’s a little optimistic,
though, especially on the power side. Pedroia has just four homers this
year in Triple-A.

 Q:  Lance from Alabama asks:
that Trevor Crowe is expected to move to 2B. Does he rate as one of the
top 2B prospects? Can he evenutally develop 20 HR power?

Jim Callis:
Second base isn’t a haven for prospects, so Crowe immediately does
become one of the top guys there. I see him as more of a 15-homer guy .
. . he has hit just five this season.

 Q:  Travis from Houston asks:
Its seems that DVD get all the attention in the Rangers farm system. How does Eric Hurley rate in comparison to them?

Jim Callis: I put Hurley right there with Danks and ahead of Volquez and Diamond.

 Q:  Webster from Tampa asks:
Jacob McGee has been lights out, but his small frame makes me nervous. What is his ceiling? #2 behind kazmir?

Jim Callis:
Sure, he has the arm to become a No. 2. He’s not huge, but it’s not
like he throws with a ton of effort. Kazmir isn’t very tall either.

 Q:  from asks:
that we seen plenty of Lastings Milledge in the majors, do you think he
has been overrated as a prospect? Is this another Alex Ochoa or can he
still be a star?

Jim Callis:
I think it’s ridiculous to give up on a guy after 100 at-bats. Milledge
still has star potential. Go look at Travis Hafner’s first exposure to
the big leagues–that didn’t go very well either, just to cite one

 Q:  Rick from Kansas City asks:
Will Alex Gordon be a better hitter than Ryan Zimmerman? What is Alex Gordon’s ceiling?

Jim Callis:
Zimmerman has hit better and with more power than I expected this
early, but I still see Gordon as a better hitter. His ceiling is huge.
He can become one of the very best hitters in the major leagues.

 Q:  Harold from Pennsylvania asks:
Give me your top 3 outfielders in Low A this year. How does Andrew Mccutchen rate up against Rasmus, Bruce, and Maybin?

Jim Callis: McCutchen is in the discussion, but I’d go 1) Maybin, 2) Upton, 3) Bruce.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
going on with Cliff Pennington? I know he’s had a terrible year, then I
heard he got hurt. Where is he now, and how is he doing?

Jim Callis:
He has had hamstring problems that have hampered him, but that doesn’t
totally explain why he bombed in high Class A. He was so good in low
Class A last year, and I expected more out of him.

 Q:  mike from ny asks:
how does travis snider compare to Billy Butler? And do you see Kevin Whelan making it to the majors next year?

Jim Callis:
Snider and Butler have similar offensive profiles, but Snider is a
better athlete with a better chance to be a competent defender. I could
see Whelan in the Tigers bullpen next year.

 Q:  Roger from Charleston, SC asks:
has been said lately about the 2007 high school draft class looking
particularly strong. How does the college class compare?

Jim Callis:
It pales in comparison. The frontline pitching isn’t as plentiful in
2006, and the position players are maybe just slightly better.

 Q:  TJ from New York asks:
What do you think about Kevin Mulvey? What is his upside?

Jim Callis: Check the Ask BA we posted yesterday — I had a Mulvey question there.

 Q:  Mike from Jacksonville asks:
I am very excited about Carlos Gonzalez. What type of hitter does he profile as?

Jim Callis:
I’m excited, too. I had one scout compare him to Carlos Beltran last
year, and he thought Gonzalez could be a better hitter for average than

 Q:  Soren from CA asks:
stuff for Clippard? This is a quote from today’s Daily Dish:
“He still sits at anywhere from 86-91 mph with his fastball, and he
still features an above-average changeup, and a major league curveball,
although his command may make the pitch play up a little bit.” Two
above average pitches and a decent fastball is not “ordinary stuff”!

Jim Callis:
It never ends. A major league curveball, that’s a major league average
pitch. Start naming me some frontline big league righthanders who have
a plus changeup and no other plus pitch.

 Q:  Evan from Toronto asks:
Who has a higher ceiling, Chris Young or Adam Lind?

Jim Callis: Chris Young, who’s a comparable hitter with speed and center-field skills.

 Q:  Ray from michigan asks:
Do you see Joel Zumaya as a future starter?
A rotation of Bonderman, Verlander, Miller, and Zumaya looks very good for years to come.

Jim Callis:
I think Zumaya could succeed in that role. But he has been so
successful in relief that he’ll probably stay there, becoming a closer
in 2007 or 2008.

 Q:  Scott from Washington, DC asks:
How much are the A’s going to regret not signing Justin Smoak?

Jim Callis:
They knew he wanted $1.5 million, and I’m not sure how close they came
to that price tag after taking him in the later rounds. With the
slotting in place, he wasn’t very signable, so I don’t fault the A’s.
But getting back to your question, I’m sure they already wish they had
spent that money. He’ll get two or three times that in 2008.

 Q:  Sam from Los Angeles asks:
I’ve been out of the country for a few weeks, can you update me on what Scott Elberts been doing? Thanks

Jim Callis: He has been lights out, establishing himself as the top lefthanded pitching prospect in the minors.

 Q:  Michael F. from Brooklyn, NY asks:
Pelfrey or Cain?

Jim Callis: Matt Cain.

 Q:  Ron Mexico from Atlanta asks:
can you tell me a little bit more about the ked the Giants recently
signed, Angel Villalona. I here he is gonna be an absolute stud. What
do you think is an appropriate longterm comparison for him? Is he
Adrian Beltre or Miguel Cabrera?

Jim Callis:
Good moniker there . . . Reports are that deal may not be official, as
apparently was reported in a Spanish-language newspaper. He’s supposed
to be very good, as evidenced by the reported $2.1 million price tag.
Stay tuned.

 Q:  David from Toronto asks:
love your columns, but I have a concern. As a huge Cub fan, I can’t
help but notice your comments are getting bleaker and bleaker… Do you
not think that had Mark Prior and Derrek Lee been even moderately
healthy, that they wouldn’t be in the thick of the weak NL playoff race?

Jim Callis:
Maybe. But how can you count on Mark Prior being even moderately
healthy until he shows he can go a full season without getting injured?
Losing Derrek Lee hurt, but I still see a very flawed team even if he
had been in there for the full year.

 Q:  Adam from Austin, TX asks:
does Sean Gallagher have to do to gain some respect from the various
baseball outlets? He’s 20 years old and doing quite well at Double A
and yet when talk of the Cubs top pitching prospects comes you rarely
hear is name mentioned.

Jim Callis:
I mentioned him a few minutes ago, Adam! His stuff has taken a nice
step forward this year, whereas last year it was pretty average and
didn’t look like there was much room for projection.

 Q:  Brad from Fort Worth asks:
Jim and thanks for taking my question. With Sam Demel moving to the
closers role this summer and dominating the Cape where does that put
him on the prospect sheet for next year and whats your early perdiction
on about where he projects?

Jim Callis:
He’s a solid prospect, but not a first-rounder. Demel has two pitches
that are slightly above average (fastball, slider) and throws strikes,
but his lack of size hurts him from a draft standpoint. He’s probably a
second- to fifth-rounder.

 Q:  Todd from Boston asks:
Would it be too cruel to take Jason Johnson out back and shoot him? It’d be way less sad than what they did to Old Yeller.

Jim Callis: Be happy he’s allowed just one run in two innings so far. That’s more than you could have asked for.

 Q:  Matty Free from NYC asks:
you had a choice who would you rather have: Liriano or Verlander? You
have to factor in injury problems, injury risk, arm strength, command,

Jim Callis: I think Liriano has a little higher ceiling, but I’d take Verlander because of the medical histories.

 Q:  Pat from Tampa asks:
josh hamilton… on the road to stardom, or too little too late?

Jim Callis:
Too little, too late. There are so many hurdles to overcome, he’s 25
and he’s not exactly tearing up the New York-Penn League. But if he
gets his life in order, then good for him.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
You like Lincoln better than Lincecum.



Jim Callis:
It’s not a huge difference, more of a gut feeling than anything. Both
guys have two plus pitches. Lincecum’s stuff is slightly better, but
Lincoln’s command is slightly better.

 Q:  Norman Banks from San Diego asks:
high is the ceiling on two of the Indians’ Kinston prospects, Jordan
Brown and Scott Lewis? Both have spent the entire year at Kinston while
others have moved on. Lewis has had many arm problems and is on a 70
pitch limit but his command looks real sharp. Brown appears blocked by
the crowded outfield prospects in the organization. Your thoughts on
both, please.

Jim Callis:
They’re both mid-level prospects. I’m not sure Brown has the true power
to be a big league corner outfielder, but he can hit. It comes down to
health for Lewis. He might have been a first-round pick out of Ohio
State if he hadn’t gotten hurt.

 Q:  Josh from Lake Okechobee, FL asks:
Delmon get the call? Or will some overblown comments in a USA Today
article keep him in the minors for the rest of the year?

Jim Callis:
Forget about that bat toss, Josh? Whereas last year I thought it was a
joke that Young didn’t come up in September, I wouldn’t promote him
this time. It’s not going to make a difference in the long run, and I’d
reinforce the message that baseball isn’t just about talent.

 Q:  Larry from NYC asks:
Status on Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain? Signed?

Jim Callis:
Kennedy agreed to terms weeks ago, but the deal still hasn’t been
announced. Makes exactly no sense. I expect the Yankees to land
Chamberlain, but it’s not a done deal like Kennedy’s.

 Q:  Dhar from Toronto asks:
Alex Gordon didn’t have this much speed at Nebraska. Where did it come from, and is it here to stay?

Jim Callis:
He has average speed and good instincts in college, the same as he has
now. I don’t think he has gotten any quicker, but he wasn’t a slug or
anything to begin with.

 Q:  youalreadyknow from Wash D.C. asks:
Evan Longoria’s power underrated coming into the draft or is he on a
hot streak and due to fall back to expectations? Also, what kind of
numbers seem reasonable for him at the major league level in the future?

Jim Callis:
Scouts liked his power, but I don’t think anyone saw 16 homers in his
first two months as a pro. He’s very good, but probably not that good.
In the long run, he should hit for average with 25-30 homers a year.

 Q:  Rick from Boston asks:
the Angels sign Nate Boman? He was real good in the Cape. Also, why
wouldnt the Orioles give Tony Watson top money after he was so good on
the Cape. Finally, Laporta is a sure in to return to Florida right?

Jim Callis:
The Angels probably will make a little run at Boman, but remember, a
2.94 ERA isn’t exactly tearing up the pitcher-friendly Cape. If he has
a healthy and solid spring, he probably could make more money in next
year’s draft. I believe the Orioles were willing to spend on Watson,
but they just wouldn’t meet his high price tag. As for Matt LaPorta, a
scouting director told me yesterday he thought LaPorta might be another
guy who already has agreed to terms but hasn’t been announced yet.
Hadn’t heard that before, haven’t been able to confirm it.

 Q:  Paul from Kansas City asks:
Joe Nelson has a fantastic changeup. Ken Ray…

Jim Callis: And those guys are frontline starters?

 Q:  Todd from Boston asks:
Best prospect, Bucholz, Bowden, or Bard (assuming he signs)?

Jim Callis: Michael Bowden.

 Q:  Charlie from Chi-town asks:
When is Ryan Sweeney going to get a chance with the Sox? he seems to be having a great year in triple A.

Jim Callis: They’ll give him a look next year. I also wouldn’t rule out Josh Fields getting a look in the outfield, too.

 Q:  Todd from Boston asks:
cool is your job that you can get paid to answer questions about
baseball here and on Can you think of any better jobs that
don’t include oiling up Jessica Alba?

Jim Callis: I do have a great job — you won’t ever catch me saying otherwise. Even when I’m swamped, I’m still working in baseball.

 Q:  Craig from Cincy asks:
Joey Votto or Jay Bruce?

Jim Callis: Jay Bruce.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
This question is little out their but if Fidel Castro does die and
power in Cuba goes back to a person with more friendly ties to the U.S.
how likely is it the we will get to see the best players Cuba has to
offer and would you rate the five best the five best young players?
Lastly much like the Negro League Players do you foresee a chance that
Cooperstown will elect Cuban players to the Hall of Fame that never got
to play in the Major Leagues but had the talent too players such as
Omar Linares, Gourriel Sr, or even Eduardo Paret? Thanks.

Jim Callis:
If the diplomatic relations are restored, then I think you’d see a flow
of baseball talent to the United States (which would also send cash to
Cuba’s government). The best Cuban right now is Yuliesky Gourriel, who
was rumored to have defected (incorrectly as it turned out) recently. I
don’t think you’ll see the Cubans put in the Hall of Fame. Negro
Leaguers weren’t permitted to play, but the Cubans weren’t banned. It
would be like inducting Japanese players who elected to stay in Japan.
Not the same thing, but you get my drift.

Moderator: Jim has to run now. Thanks for all the questions, and we’ll try to have another chat very soon.