Prospect Chat: Jim Callis

Moderator: Jim Callis will answer your questions beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. My most recent focus has been
on the Cape Cod League, but as always, all questions are fair game. Let’s get started.

    Jason (New York): Is it conceivable that Montero, Betances, Banuelos, Brackman, Romine, and Sanchez could all end
    up in the Top 100 List this year? All minus Romine are enjoying very good (Montero) or breakout seasons (the rest). As a follow up, which if any of these prospects do you believe to have All-Star caliber potential? Thanks for your time!

Jim Callis: Conceivable, yes. This time of year, I get a
lot of questions about who will make the Top 100 and where various farm
systems rank compared to other systems, and I’ll be honest—it’s hard to give precise answers without spending hours sorting through every organization. Montero is the easiest guy in that group to label a future
all-star. I can say the other guys have that potential, but I want to see Romine perform better in the minors, whether Banuelos can maintain his improved velocity, whether Betances and Brackman can stay healthy and keep throwing strikes, and how Sanchez produces against better pitching. But yes, you can dream on all those guys.

    JC (STL): One of the more intriguing Cards in the AFL is Adron Chambers. Can you give me your thoughts on him?

Jim Callis: He’s one of the better athletes in the Cards system. His tools are still ahead of his skills, and I’m still not
sold that he’s going to hit enough be a big league regular. But the upside is intriguing.

    Brian (Baltimore): I saw the other day that Mychal Givens was playing 2nd base for the Ironbirds. With Manny Machada
    playing SS and Givens at 2B do the Orioles have one of the bast up the middle tandoms for years to come?

Jim Callis: I love Machado, but I’m not the biggest Givens fan. I fear he may be the ultimate raw tools player who never figures it out. I’m not sold on his bat and think he’ll eventually wind up back on the mound.

    Chuck (Wichita): Any concerns with Mike Montgomery's wildness in recent outings?

Jim Callis: No. That shouldn’t be unexpected after his long layoff. I’m just glad he’s healthy and back on the mound again.

    Virgil Dahl (Waterloo, Iowa): Jim; thanks for taking my question. My buddy, Jake states that Freddie Freeman is in a class by himself in the group of first base prospects. Not so sure myself. How would you rate Freeman, Brandon Belt, Jonathan Singleton, Paul Goldsmith, Jerry Sands, and Chris Marrero? thanks

Jim Callis: I like Freeman the best of those guys, but I
wouldn’t say he’s in a class by himself. He’s a gifted hitter but I’m not sure how much power he’s going to have. Eric Hosmer is definitely in
his class, and I like Hosmer a little more.

    a.j. (las vegas): With the success of the Royals prospects this year, would you trade Greinke this off-season to add to this coming group?

Jim Callis: It all depends on what I could get for him.
If I don’t think I can re-sign him, and I can get a haul of young talent, I’d jump on it. But I wouldn’t pull a Phillies/Cliff Lee scenario and deal him just for the sake of dealing him.

    Darren (Boston): The write up on Balcom-Miller in the 2010 book had his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter. After his performance this season, does he have the potential to be more?

Jim Callis: I still think it’s the same. He’s a guy who
throws a ton of strikes and induces a lot of ground balls, but he doesn’t overpower hitters. I think his ceiling is as a good No. 3 starter. With guys like him, you get a much better feel for what they can be when they face Double-A hitters or better. Guys with his command usually eat up Class A hitters.

Jim Callis: I have to take a quick call, so there will be a five-minute delay. But I promise to be right back!

    Jason (Walnut Crreek, CA): Who is this pitcher Matt Thomson that the A's drafted in the 12th Round out of the University of San Diego? He has been filthy so far.

Jim Callis: He got lost in the shuffle a little bit on some talented Toreros pitching staffs, but he can pitch. He has an average fastball in terms of velocity, but has good life on the pitch and commands it well, making him hard to hit.

    Kyle (Oxford): Do you see the recent exploits of Aroldis Chapman along with his improved control pushing him into your
    top ten prospects? I can't imagine another player having a bigger upside.

Jim Callis: I don’t think he’ll be in my Top 10. He has
huge upside and can lay a claim to be the hardest-throwing lefthanded ever, but he lacks polish and I’m still not convinced he’s going to wind
up anywhere but in the bullpen.

    Adam (Denver): How concerned should Rockies fans be over the rash of injuries to Christian Friedrich this season? Is he still a potential ace or will he be a constant guy on the DL?

Jim Callis: The constant trips to the DL have to be a concern, but so far he has avoided any kind of surgery. I still think he
has a chance to be a No. 2 starter.

    Gary (San Diego): Josh Spence continues to strike out guys at an alarming rate. Given it is in the Midwest League,
    do you think his deception will work against more advanced hitters?

Jim Callis: As I discussed with Balcom-Miller earlier, Spence is the classic example of a polished finesse pitcher who will befuddle low Class A hitters. It’s a good start to his career, but really doesn’t mean much. I hate to be skeptical, but I’ve seen lots of guys with fringe stuff and terrific command do this and then get rocked once they got to Double-A or higher.

    Jim (Scranton, PA): Is Nick Franklin a top 100 prospect?

Jim Callis: Yes. He’s been better offensively and defensively than expected, and that’s saying a lot considering he was a first-round pick last year.

    Jim (Scranton, PA): What can you tell me about Taijuan Walker? Ceiling, and abilities wise.

Jim Callis: Tremendous athlete, new to pitching and still figuring it out, can reach 95 mph with his fastball but needs to polish his secondary stuff. He could be a frontline starter if he puts it all together.

    Nick (Boston): Blake Smith has rebounded very nicely from a very disappointing first year, now that the talk of him returning to the mound has quieted, what kind of potential does he have?
    He has to be in the conversation as one of the better Dodgers prospects?

Jim Callis: I think he’s similar to but a lesser version of Kyle Russell, who tore up the Midwest League for Great Lakes last year. Both guys have a lot of power but swing and miss a ton.

    Steve (Denver): I know it is too soon to give up on Tim Wheeler, but you have to be extremely worried this year, .243 in the CAL there still hope or has the expectations for him changed at all?

Jim Callis: I though he should have been a mid-first-round pick last year, but it’s hard to call his year anything but extremely disappointing. I’m not writing him off, but if he can’t stay in center field, he’s going to have to do a lot more with the bat.

    Nick (Florida): Jim, what are the chances Ryan Lavarnway is an everyday catcher in MLB? If he can stay behind the plate
    his bat could be excellent.

Jim Callis: I’d say no chance. He doesn’t catch, throw or move behind the plate well enough. His bat is promising, but I think his future is more as a DH/1B/third C type off the bench.

    Murray (Los Angeles): Randall Grichuck has had a
    pretty up an down year with injuries and all, but he has rebounded pretty nicely. I know some people questioned him when the Angels drafted
    him but if he reaches his potential, what does he project to be?

Jim Callis: His ceiling is to become a left fielder who hits for a decent average and plus power.

    John (Boston, MA): Who would you say has a better future with the Red Sox.. Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish?

Jim Callis: I’ve gone back and forth, but Kalish has moved ahead of Reddick this year.

    Boris (London, ON): Thoughts on the debut of Aaron Sanchez? Mel Queen had some high praise when he saw him earlier in the GCL.

Jim Callis: Sanchez could have a plus fastball and curveball when all is said and done. Nice debut, and I thought he might have gone about 10 picks higher in the draft. Fine choice by the Jays.

    craig (pittsburgh): Of the three teams that traded Cliff Lee, who got the best return for his services?

Jim Callis: Smoak has struggled, but I still think the Mariners will have done the best in the long run.

    Christian (Houston, TX): One of the better early performers from this year's draft class has been Astros 5th round catcher Ben Heath, who is already in single A ball with a .290/.405/.551
    line there. Do you know anything about him from a scouting perspective?

Jim Callis: He’s an offensive catcher who broke Penn State’s home run record with 19 in the spring. Power is the tool that will have to carry him, as he doesn’t project as a high-average hitter and is only decent defensively.

    Dan (LeGere): Do you agree with the Cubs decision to experiment with Tyler Colvin at first base? isn't this a waste of his athleticism, speed, and arm? I know there really isn't anyone in the farm system who could take over in 2011, but wouldn't they
    be better off going after Adam Dunn or Carlos Pena in free agency?

Jim Callis: Yes, it’s a waste of his athleticism, and his power also doesn’t fit at first base. The Cubs have four outfielders
they want to play and I guess they felt like Colvin could adapt the best to first base. That wouldn’t be a good long-term strategy at all, however.

    Tyler (Bowling Green): After seeing Chapmans debut last night, who would you rather have at this point...chapman or strasburg?

Jim Callis: Chapman, because he’ll be able to pitch in the next 12 months. Long term, I still think Strasburg will be better.

    Tug (Neosho, Mo.): Thanks Jim, with the AFL being such an elite league what can you tell me about Salvador Perez? He
    put up pretty good numbers in a pitcher friendly league this year, so how legit is he? Is he expected to stick at catcher?

Jim Callis: Perez’ defense is his strong suit, so he should stick at catcher. He’s a decent hitter with a little power, but his work behind the plate is what sticks out.

    Spencer (MN): Impressed with Wimmers so far in High A.? And where do you expect him to start next spring?

Jim Callis: It’s only 11 innings so far, but they have been 11 spectacular innings. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, because he was one of the most pro-ready players in the 2010 draft. He could move quickly, just like Kyle Gibson has this year for the Twins.

    Spencer (MN): What can you tell me about twins prospect Gallant after a solid cape season? Seems like a better fit in the pen compared to starting.

Jim Callis: Much better fit in the pen. He did not pitch well as a starter for Sam Houston State in the spring, but in the last two summers on the Cape, he has shown a 93-94 mph fastball and nasty slider out of the bullpen. The Twins stole him in the 23rd round and signed him for $122,500, which could be a bargain.

    Noah (Favreville, USA): Why such an aprubt turn around in Devin Mesoraco's game?

Jim Callis: He had repeated hand and wrist injuries, so
maybe it’s just a case where he finally got healthy. Mesoraco’s turnaround has been one of the best success stories in the minors this year.

    Dale (MN): Astros first baseman of the future - Kolby Clemens or Brett Wallace or neither?

Jim Callis: Wallace, easily.

    Steve (NYC): Jim, thanks for the chat. Thoughts on Kyle Seager? I know he's playing in High Desert, but he's still having an impressive season, and his home/road splits are nearly identical - he's actually been slightly better on the road.

Jim Callis: Not a potential star, but he’s one of the best second-base prospects in the minors.

    Brad (MO): Has Jason Esposito improved his draft stock in the Cape this summer? Will he sign for more than the rumored pre-draft deal he turned down? If he had signed where would you
    rank him in the Royals system?

Jim Callis: Esposito was much better with Team USA than
he was on the Cape, where he hit .246/.300/.292. He reportedly turned down $1.4 million from the Royals out of high school, and he could make more than that next year. He’s not a consensus top 15-20 pick guy, but there are teams that like him that much. If you like him, you buy into the swing and the power potential and like the athleticism. If you don’t
like him as much, you wonder if he really has a standout tool.

    AC Slater (Bayside, CA): Who was the best non Division I prospect in the Cape this year?

Jim Callis: Cotuit righthander Austin Wood, who pitched
at St. Petersburg (Fla.) CC in the spring. He had a mid-90s fastball and led the league in batting average against (.144). If he doesn’t count because he’s transferring to Southern California, then let’s go with Orleans lefthander Jack Leathersich from Massachusetts-Lowell. He reaches 93 mph with his fastball and complements it with a good curve.

    Tony (Albuquerque): I'm in a keeper league and essentially i kept Teheran over Chapman. After last night and all the 105 mph hype I need some reassurance that i made the right choice. How do they compare to one another?

Jim Callis: I would have kept Teheran, too. Chapman obviously beat him to the big leagues, which was no surprise, but I like
Teheran’s future as a starter better.

    Tony (Albuquerque): Aaron Crow: has an era north of 5 and gives up alot of homeruns. He also has a 33/3 K:B. Which one is more concerning or encouraging?

Jim Callis: From what we’ve heard, the stuff has been pretty much as advertised but the command has been shoddy. So I still have faith he can figure it out.

    Shane (Miami): My year subscription to BA is almost up. I must say, I have very much enjoyed the weekly chats you do
    Jim. Will these continue over the next year? Many questions go unanswered, is it possible to have a longer period or answer them after the chat is completed?

Jim Callis: Thanks, Shane. I will continue to chat every week at We also have regular chats from college guru Aaron Fitt during the college season, the Prospect Hot Sheet crew during the minor league season, draft chats during the spring
and at the signing deadline, and league Top 20/organization Top 30 chats throughout the offseason. It’s impossible to answer all the questions. I have 200 questions today, and there’s no way to get to all of them. I do answer longer reader questions in our weekly Ask BA column
(send questions along with full name and hometown to, and try to get to provided brief responses to
questions (though again, I can’t answer them all) via my Twitter account (@jimcallisBA).

    Jon (DC): Are you surprised no one is already condemning Chapman to Tommy John Surgery, just based on his velocity, after Strasburg went down?

Jim Callis: I’m sure if he gets hurt, we’ll hear from plenty of people who’ll say they saw it coming.

    Aaron (New York): Mike Minor or Jon Niese?

Jim Callis: Minor.

    Ben (Buffalo): A history question: if you compared the top farm systems in every year of this decade, which would rank at the top in terms of best talent (ignoring what eventually happened to the prospects, which admittedly is hard to do).

Jim Callis: In the decade of the 2000s, the highest-rated farm systems, in order, were the Braves and Rays, with the
Marlins and Twins tied for third.

Jim Callis: As usual, thanks for all the good questions. I’ll see you again next Wednesday.