Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. My balky DSL connection, which worked fine yesterday, stinks again today, so I’ve driven to my wife’s office so I can answer your questions without interruption. Let’s
get to it.

    Bret (Toronto): What do you make of JP Arencibia's destruction of the PCL the last few months? He's hit like .320 on the year now with 22 HR and an OPS above 1.0, though it is Las Vegas, so the numbers always concern you. Does he look like a legit prospect now, and what kind of upside could he have?

Jim Callis: Nice year for Arencibia. He’s repeating Triple-A, of course, and Las Vegas is a good place to hit. Still don’t see him as a star. I think he’ll hit for power but not a lot of average,
and be a decent catcher but nothing special defensively.

    @notrizzo (Washington, DC): How far is Chris Marrero from being MLB ready? He's coming up on a full year worth of AA experience and hitting well, but is far from dominant and far from the power you'd expect from a top 1B prospect.

Jim Callis: He’s a year away, at least. I think he doesn’t quite get his due as a hitter, but I’d like him a lot more if he
wasn’t chained to first base. What happened to the multitool guy we heard about in high school?

    Adam B. (Cincy, OH): With Devin Mesoraco's turnaround this year, would he rank among the top 100 prospects in baseball at this point?

Jim Callis: Maybe. This is always a tough question, because at midseason I don’t keep a running tally of who would be on or off an updated Top 100. Wouldn’t put him in my Top 50, but he has made a
lot of positive strides this year.

    Timmy L. (San Francisco): Madison Bumgarner has
    been very special so far. He tore right through the Brewers last night. Despite low K%, do you see him as a #2 or #3?

Jim Callis: Yes. He’s lefthanded and I think he’ll miss
enough bats.

    JAYPERS (IL): Quite a few reports have Ramos and Hicks to Seattle for Lee. Your thoughts?

Jim Callis: I like both those guys as prospects, but they’re both redundant in Minnesota. I bet Seattle would want another young player, but a) that’s a good starting point and b) would be hard to top.

    Timmy L. (San Francisco): Do you ever get sick of the rumor infested internet these days where 99% of it has no foundation?

Jim Callis: Yes, yes I do. Seems like people are more interested with being the first to report something than worrying about accuracy.

    James (Milwaukee): Which Brewer pitching prospect do you rank higher Dylan Covey or Jake Odorizzi?

Jim Callis: Odorizzi.

    BL (Bozeman, MT): Any word on Michael Montgomery's health status?

Jim Callis: Just that he started back on a throwing program a week ago.

    BL (Bozeman, MT): Wil Myers - pass him up the ladder as far as possible as a catcher, or switch him to outfield now?

Jim Callis: Try to make him a catcher as long as it seems feasible. The bat can play elsewhere if needed.

    Eric (PA): Do you think Freddie Freeman will be
    able to handle a major league job at the start of next year?

Jim Callis: I think he could at least hold his own, but
I don’t think he’d put up the numbers (as a rookie) that a contender would want from a first baseman. I like Freeman, but see him more as a solid regular than a star down the road.

    Casey (Hawaii): Sano has been killing the ball for the Twins. I know he is only 17, but he cracked a lot of peoples top
    100 lists last year. Does he make your list and if so where/why?

Jim Callis: He would make my Top 100. Again, I haven’t plotted them out, but we kept hearing last summer that he had a potentially special bat. He has done nothing to detract from that assessment.

    Dale (San Francisco): If you compared all levels of minor leagues how would they rate in difficulty with majors being a 10. For example, low A 2, high A 4, AA 6, AAA 7, Majors 10.

Jim Callis: I might make Triple-A an 8, but your example seems fair. Or maybe Low A 1, High A 3, AA 6, AAA 8, Majors 10.

    Chris (Northern Virginia): Hello Jim, thanks for the chat. What is it about Mike Trout that has so many evaluators drooling? Is success at 18 in the Midwest League that rare? Is it the level of success? The scouting reports? Or all of the above? Thanks, Jim.

Jim Callis: All of the above. He has tremendous tools and has done nothing but dominate since signing last summer.

    Mike (DC): What is Garin Cecchini's upside if he signs? He seems like he could be a five tool player, but I'm worried about the injuries.

Jim Callis: I wouldn’t worry about his knee, as speed isn’t a big part of Cecchini’s game. He’s not a pure five-tool guy, but what he is is one of the best hitters in the draft with a chance to be a
solid or better defender at third base. His makeup draws rave reviews, too. If the Red Sox sign him, he’s a steal for a fourth-rounder.

    Tim (Houston, TX): Who on earth is Thomas Shirley? Is he a Helium candidate this summer?

Jim Callis: He’s a ninth-round pick out of Xavier who boosted his stock as the draft approached. He’s off to a great start in the NYP (14 IP, 0 ER, 24 K). He’s a lefty with a plus fastball and otherwise some rough edges to smooth out. Nice grab by the Astros.

    Steven Alengakis (Brooklyn): Hi Jim, How do scouts and the Yankees organizationview Brandon Laird at this point, after a pretty incredible first half? With 1B and 3B closed off for the foreseeable future with the Yankees, are they thinking of moving him
    to another position, or is he simply trade bait Thank you

Jim Callis: He’s a prospect but probably won’t ever be a
regular for the Yankees. He’s trade bait, with a ceiling as a solid regular.

    Steve (Wilmington): When do the floodgates open
    with the Commissioner's office approving above slot signings (i.e. above the 150K deals they don't hassle you about)? Less than 6 weeks from the deadline right now I think.

Jim Callis: Late this month. It has been interesting. I
had heard from teams that slots were up this year, somewhere between 2008 and 2009, but almost everyone who has signed in the first five rounds has not exceeded the 2009 slots. No official deals over 150K after the fifth round, though UCLA coaches confirmed to Aaron Fitt that 24th-rounder Erik Goeddel has agreed to terms with the Mets. reported the deal as being worth third-round money. MLB hasn’t officially approved the transaction yet, though.

    JAYPERS (IL): Who would be your Blue Jays top overall prospect at present - Drabek, Wallace or Arencibia?

Jim Callis: Drabek.

    Adam (Boston): How much do you think Ranaudo will demand for a signing bonus after his recent success in the Cape?

Jim Callis: He’s advised by the Boras Corp., so I’d guess he’s looking for at least top-10-pick money ($2 million) and probably more.

    Steve (ATL): Jim, is Dice-K and Lars Anderson enough for a Cliff Lee rental? Thanks

Jim Callis: No. Mariners wouldn’t want Dice-K at all.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Is a move back to SS in order for Casey Kelly?

Jim Callis: Surely you jest.

    Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Zach Britton or Jeremy Hellickson?

Jim Callis: Hellickson, but I like Britton a lot as well.

    Ryan (California): Are you going to be coming out with a Midseason Top 50 Prospects again this year?

Jim Callis: Yes. John Manuel is overseeing the list which will go in our next issue, which goes off to the printer tomorrow.
The first 25 will be ranked in order, and the next 25 listed alphabetically. The list has been gutted by all the promotions this year, and we don’t included the 2010 draft picks yet.

    Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Jiovanni Mier or Hak-Ju Lee?

Jim Callis: Lee.

    Joe (San Francisco): Is it too early to get excited about Brandon Belt? Because I am starting to think the Giants might have their 1st baseman of the future.

    Whom after a monsterous 1st half in the california league, is off to great start in the Double A Eastern league.

Jim Callis: I think what we saw was more a product of the Cal League than the true Brandon Belt. I don’t think he’s the impact
hitter his stats may lead some people to believe.

    Matt (KC): If a team trades a minor leaguer that they drafted as a two sport athlete, thus allowing them to spread the bonus out over multiple years, does the acquiring team continue to pay the bonus as the original team would have?

Jim Callis: I believe the original team is still on the
hook for the signing bonus.

    Ryan (Vancouver Washington): Thanks for the chat Jim, they have been missed.

    Where would Taillon and Allie fit in what is sure to be a completely overhauled Pirates top 10?

Jim Callis: Taillon would be their No. 1 prospect. Allie would be in the top five for sure, and you could argue him as No. 2
on upside.

    Mike (Orange County): So far their hasn't been much movement in college coaching positions. Do you think that any notable jobs will be coming open this summer or do you feel that things will remain pretty calm? The only team in the PAC 10 that might make a change it seems like would be USC do you think that is a possibility?

Jim Callis: Any jobs that would have come open would have done so by now. Looks like the Trojans are sticking with Chad Kreuter. Amazing how far that program has fallen.

    Sam (Baltimore): Who is a good comp for Anthony
    Rendon that is currently playing the bigs? Can Orioles fans hope to have the next Evan Longoria?

Jim Callis: If the Orioles do get Rendon, they very well might get another Longoria.

    Doug (NYC): Is Matt Wieters the next Alex Gordon?

Jim Callis: No, I think Wieters still will be a star. (Admittedly, I thought Gordon would be a star too.) People just need to be more patient. Making the jump to the majors is difficult, and he had only one minor league season under his belt.

    Eric (PA): What do you think of Mike Minor? He is striking out a ton, while walking a bit more. Is this a worthwhile trade off? Does he have a higher ceiling than he did a year ago?

Jim Callis: I like Mike Minor and he’s having a terrific year. Still wouldn’t have taken him seventh overall in the 2009
draft, however. He does have swing and miss stuff, though he’ll have to
cut the walks a bit.

    Crash (Indianapolis): Is there any reason for concern with the year Martin Perez is having? Is he still considered one
    of the top pitching prospects?

Jim Callis: Not for me. He has been inconsistent, but he’s a 19-year-old lefthander with a strikeout per inning in Double-A.

    James (St. Louis): Can you give us any more insight on Zach Cox's defense? Will/should he be tried at second base? Thanks.

Jim Callis: If his range is an issue at third base, I don’t see how anyone could think he could play third base. I think he’ll
eventually be a decent to solid third baseman with more than enough bat
for the position.

    Gilbert Placeres (Dominican Republic): Is it just me, or with all the graduations we've seen this year are the minors
    overall much weaker?

Jim Callis: It’s not just you.

    Travis (Denver): Where does Wilin Rosario rank among catching prospects offensively/defensively?

Jim Callis: He’s one of the very best in the entire minors.

    Ben (Colorado): How do you like Daniel Hudson's
    chances of adequately filling in for Peavy. I heard they have a similar repertoire and pitching style. 3/4 arm slot, moving fastball, and filthy slider. Please tell this Sox fan he can hold the fort.

Jim Callis: Hudson can hold the fort, but he won’t dominate hitters like Peavy can.

    Marcus (Silver Spring): If A.J. Cole signs where will he rank among Nats Prospects next year?

Jim Callis: He could be No. 3 behind Bryce Harper and Daniel Norris.

    ZekethePepper (NY): Better prospect, Hosmer or Freeman?

Jim Callis: Hosmer.

    Greg (LA): Cliff Lee back to Cleveland for the rights to LeBron?

Jim Callis: Seattle would need a basketball team!

    Jordan (Memphis): Any update if Pomeranz is close to signing with the Indians?

Jim Callis: I suspect he’ll sign an over-slot deal, which means you’ll have to wait until Aug. 16.

    Eric (Atlanta): With Teheran, Vizcaino, Delgado, Minor and Hoover, does any minor league system have more high ceiling starting pitching prospects like the Braves do?

Jim Callis: Nope. The Braves’ top-tier pitching is the envy of other systems.

    Lenny (Sacramento): How do you feel about giving teams the freedom to trade draft picks?

Jim Callis: I’m for it, just because I think it would make the draft more interesting (if not more difficult to cover and project). But I don’t think it would really solve any problems. You’d see some of the elite players in the draft insist they only want to play
for a handful of (well-paying) teams, and try to force trades there. The teams picking at the top of the draft are better off paying for the best players in the draft, rather than trying to save money by dealing them.

    Marie (San Francisco): Is there a possibility that when both Gary Brown and Jarrett Parker both sign that one of them will have to change positions? Either Gary Brown to second base or Jarrett Parker to a corner outfield spot. Or will the Giants play both of them at center until they are playing on the same team?

Jim Callis: They’ll play them both at center as long as
possible, because that’s where they’d have maximum value.

    Matt (KC): Frontrunner for BA minor league POY?
    Brown, Moustakas, or Trout?

Jim Callis: It’s probably Brown, because he’s starring at upper levels. But I’m not so sure I wouldn’t cast my vote for Trout.

    Danny (Milwaukee): Do you see Brett Lawrie reaching the majors as a 2B and eventually moving? What's his ceiling offensively?

Jim Callis: I think he has an all-star bat but see him as a right fielder in the long run.

    ron (dallas texas): what are your thoghts on Yankee trio of pitchers Adam Warren, Scaeffer Hall and David Phelps.

Jim Callis: See this week’s Ask BA column at

    tiffythetitan (Oakland, CA): What's the hold up
    with the Giants signing Gary Brown? Anything in particlular or just a matter of time?

Jim Callis: Boras Corp. guys don’t usually sign for slot in the first round, so it’s going to take some time.

    Jason (Seattle): Who is our top prospect, Ackley or Pineda? Is Pineda a top 25 prospect right now?

Jim Callis: I’d still take Ackley, but Pineda will join
him in our Midseason Top 25.

    Joe G. (NY): If you were the Yankees, who would
    you rather have: Montero or Romine?

Jim Callis: If I were any club, I’d rather have Montero. He has a special bat, even if he doesn’t wind up at catcher. Romine is a good prospect, but I don’t think any of his tools wow people
like Montero’s bat and power.

    Doug (Arizona): What do you think of Visalia's Goldschmidt (22 HRs) and Krauss (.333, 14 HRs)...Cali league enhanced, or legit bats...??

Jim Callis: Everyone in the Cal League is Cal League-enhanced, but I like both of those guys. Krauss is one of the better hitters in the minors who gets almost no hype. Goldschmidt is better than most eighth-round picks.

    Scott (Texas): Looking at the top five picks next year...

    Who will not be taken in the top five and why?

    Cole-UCLA, Jungmann-Texas, Purke-TCU, Rendon-Rice, Stilson-Texas A&M

Jim Callis: Stilson is the least likely top-five pick because he’s a reliever. I’d take top high school prospect Daniel Norris
over him for the long term, though Stilson will get to the majors more quickly.

    Brandon (San Diego): If healthy, who would you prefer, Brett Anderson or Trevor Cahill?

Jim Callis: Anderson. He’s lefthanded and has better stuff.

    Justin (Nashville): Five years from now, Tyler Colvin is A.) All-Star, B.) Decent but unspectacular starting player, or
    C.) Back playing in the PCL?

Jim Callis: Can I choose D.) Solid regular?

    Tony (Albuquerque): Everyone knows all the motions to go through when dealing with a Boras guy, why don't they just
    cut to the chase two months earlier and get the guy in thier system earlier instead of haggling over a few $100,000 they know they are going
    to eventually end up paying anyways?

Jim Callis: Because MLB won’t approve those deals before the deadline. It couldn’t be more stupid.

    Jon (Peoria): How seriously should Jerry Sands be considered as a prospect with what the season he's had so far?

Jim Callis: He’s a legit prospect, but he’s in that Brandon Belt category of not being as good as his statistics might suggest. Hey, we had him in the 2010 Prospect Handbook!

    Donald (Tempe): Does the firing of Dbacks GM Josh Byrnes affect the signing of draft picks or international free agents? How much does draft strategy, budget, or ideals, change when a GM is removed?

Jim Callis: No, it should not. The Diamondbacks on draft day had a pretty good idea of which picks they would and wouldn’t sign, and their international plans also were established before Byrnes got fired.

    Dom Brown (Lehigh Valley, PA): Am I likely to be going to any other team before the 31st?

Jim Callis: I’d be surprised if the Phillies traded Brown after holding on to him thus far.

    David (Hartford): Why don't owners tighten Bud's choke collar a bit more and point out to him that his absurd unwillingness to sign off on above-slot contracts hurts teams abilities to develop their players in a timely manner? Seriously, wouldn't the Padres be better served getting Miguel Pena signed and in their organization (insert any obvious player/team of your preference here) than watching him on the Cape for the next six weeks?

Jim Callis: Yes, yes they or any other team would. But the owners aren’t dying to spend on the draft either. Owners should look
at the draft as an investment rather than spending money on players who
won’t help for a few years. But many don’t.

    Alan (St. Petersburg): Popular debate among Rays fans is what to do about Davis and Hellickson. I still have hope Davis will become a solid mid-rotation starter, but it sure doesn't seem
    as if Hellickson has anything left to prove in the minors. What's your solution?

Jim Callis: Break Hellickson in as a middle reliever until a need in the rotation develops.

Jim Callis: Thanks for all the good questions. We should be on a fairly regular 2 p.m. ET Wednesday chat schedule for a while. Also remember that you can send me questions at Ask BA via (please include your full name and address) or
Twitter via @jimcallisBA. Long questions work best in Ask BA, though I can’t answer them all, and shorter questions work best in Twitter. See you next Wednesday, when I’ll be back from the Futures Game.