Draft Report Cards Chat With Jim Callis And John Manuel

    Mike (Minnesota): Who'd you rather have as a "centerpiece" to start an MLB team with—Mike Trout or Bryce Harper? Reasons?

Jim Callis: I'd take Trout because I think he's a better all-around player. Harper clearly has more power, but I bet Trout is at least a 20-homer guy in the big leagues, if not more. And other than that, Trout is going to be a better hitter, better OBP guy, much better runner and offer a lot more defensive value. They're both on the short list of the very best prospects in baseball, but I'd take Trout.

    Phil N (North York): I was surprised to see the Blue Jays at #3 for best draft - especially since they didnt have many players rank in top 5 in any category listed.

John Manuel: Thanks to everyone coming out for the chat. I don't think that's necessarily the way to think about it, Phil. I just think the Jays had a strong effort all the way around—pitchers such as Aaron Sanchez and Asher Wojciechowski went later than might have been expected, and I like some of their young hitters, such as Chris Hawkins and Marcus Knecht and Kellen Sweeney. It's a balanced haul, augmented by two of the best prep LHPs available in Griffin Murphy and Justin Nicolino. Not a surprise at all, for me, that they ranked third, I thought coming in they'd be top 5 and they earned it. Strong effort by the entire, expanded Jays scouting staff and first-year scouting director Andrew Tinnish.

    BL (Bozeman, MT): How close was the most recent Royals' draft to making your top five list? Do people in the industry generally consider the Royals as an organization that drafts well?

Jim Callis: The Royals had one of the better drafts outside of the top five, and their recent draft history speaks for itself—it's why they have the best farm system in baseball right now. There was no clear-cut No. 4 choice, and Colon was a fine pick. At worst, I think he'll be a solid regular at second base and I wouldn't rule out that he can stay at shortstop. He will hit. The Royals aren't afraid to spend, and they got a late-first-round talent in second-round outfielder Brett Eibner, and a quality high school arm in fifth-rounder Jason Adam. In the fourth round, they got lefty reliever Kevin Chapman, who could get to the big leagues quickly. Another good draft for J.J. Picollo and Co.

    Greg (Columbus OH): Drew Cisco has been compared to Mike Leake, is Cisco really that advanced? Is it unususl for a fastball command type guy be drafted out of high school? Thanks

John Manuel: Cisco is an unusual guy. I think his comparisons to Leake are the pitchability, fastball life and that he could move quickly, but he won't move that quickly. He's bigger than Leake and not as athletic. Cisco really compares more to me to the college pitchers in this draft, he has that kind of polish and also lacks a ton of projection. He's a future innings-eating No. 4 starter to me, feel for his secondary stuff, wouldn't shock me if he just blitzes through A-ball with his feel for his breaking ball and changeup. I don't see him as a high-end guy, though, and don't think comparisons to Leake work other than both excel at throwing strikes, and neither has overwhelming stuff.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): John and Jim, thank you both for the chat! Now that the dust has settled and information is sorted, how about a little tool-ranking time: top 5 hitters, top 5 power?

Jim Callis: We broke down several bests into top-five lists in our DRC Overview, which is here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/draft/draft-dish/2010/2610851.html. Top five bats: Cox, Colon, Castellanos, Yelich, Vettleson. Top five power hitters: Harper, Sale, Parker, Choice, Eibner.

    Tyrone (FL): Who would Castellanos best be compared to?

Jim Callis: I'm not saying he'll be THIS good, but if you want to dream on Castellanos, you can see Evan Longoria. Former shortstop, very nimble at third base, a lot of upside with the bat.

    Ryan D. (Fort Myers, FL): Alex Wimmers had a great start to his professional career. How does he project in the future for the Twins? Along those lines, what is the projection on Gibson? Thanks.

John Manuel: Hello Ryan. Wimmers did have a great start and has a good changeup already, which endears him to the Twins. I think he's in the usual org mold as a No. 3 starter down the line, as opposed to Gibson, who has No. 2 starter stuff and command and has a chance to be elite if he ever comes into the velocity that scouts have been forecasting since he was in high school. Wimmers could move as quickly, he's polished, athletic, just not quite the sharpness of the breaking ball, and honestly, I think the Twins like Gibson's changeup better, more life on it than Wimmers'.

    Billy (Chicago): Question for the Cubbies' guru Mr. Callis - where would Matt Szczur fit in among their top prospects on your list, and is he a better athlete than, Guyer?

Jim Callis: I haven't done anything with our Cubs Top 30 yet, but on upside, you could make a case for Szczur in the Top 10. That might be too aggressive, but he's the best athlete in the system, he can fly, he has strength, he puts the barrel on the ball, he can play CF, he can get a lot better once he focuses on baseball. I really like the guy.

    Dale (San Francisco): Do you think Jarrett Parker can make it as a pro? He was solid as a sophmore, but so-so as a junior and did not do much in limited ABs with wood. Can he be a regular, or do you see him more as a 4th OF?

John Manuel: Jim and I are in agreement here: we like where the Giants got Parker, good upside, but neither of us consider him a lock. He had a lot of swing-and-miss in his college career, with metal and especially with wood. But look at what the Giants did with Brandon Belt — I never remember giving the Giants great credit for developing a hitter, but obviously Posey happened on their watch, and while he had a bad season this year, so did Pablo Sandoval. Maybe they can get Parker to close up some holes, and if they do, he could be quite good, with athleticism, CF ability and big raw power. Aaron Fitt and I were discussing the longest HRs we've seen hit at Durham Bulls Athletic Park today, and mine was Joel Guzman. His is Jarrett Parker.

    Brett (Cleveland): Does Tony Wolters have the ceiling of a poor man's Dustin Pedroia?

John Manuel: I think Pedroia is unique enough of a player to not compare people to him, even a poor man's version. What's a poor man's Pedroia, Adam Kennedy? Seriously, I'm not sure what that means. His tools are pretty unique and are not the reason he's become the player he is. Wolters can be an offensive 2B, though, and he does have good instincts. I don't see him having Pedroia's power, and there's a chance he stays at SS. Just a different kind of dude.

    Chuck (Wichita): I am surprised the fastest runner in the draft lasted until the 47th round. Does he have any chance of becoming a competent hitter, maybe like Jarrod Dyson?

Jim Callis: That's not too unusual. Often several of the draft's fastest players aren't skilled in other areas and last a while. The draft's fastest quality prospect is Giants first-round outfielder Gary Brown. Darian Sandford lasted until the 47th round out of Park (Mo.) University because he's raw in all phases of the game and hasn't faced much tough competition. The Royals do compare him to Dyson, who they drafted in the 50th round four years ago and got to the big leagues this year.

    Joe (Toronto, Ontario): Did Drew Permison's stuff go up a tick in pro ball? I remember reading that he was an org filler type prior to the draft.

Jim Callis: He wasn't a top draft prospect, which is why he went in the 42nd round out of Towson. He had a very nice debut in the Jays system, with 59 strikeouts in 39 innings, but he probably won't be that dominating against more advanced hitters. He does throw 90-93 mph, though.

    Chris (LA): Do you see Cowart making it as an all-star, solid regular, bench player, or bust?

John Manuel: I'm not sure what he'll be, but everyday regular seems like a reasonable ceiling. The consensus in Georgia had Cowart as a better prospect as a pitcher, but as a very good prospect as a hitter. He has raw power and switch-hits, and the athleticism and arm strength for third base. To me the bigger question is whether or not the Angels develop him; isn't that what GM Tony Regins cited as the reason for letting go of Eddie Bane? That was a surprising move, one I'd say wasn't justified. Regins was the farm director before becoming GM, he said the players weren't developing as the Angels' hoped, isn't that more on development? I didn't see that one.

John Manuel: I have to take a call, be right back.

    Shane (Miami): Outside of the power tool is Machado that much ahead over a couple young up and coming shortstops, like Hamilton and Profar?

Jim Callis: I think his bat and overall offensive upside are significantly better. Hamilton is a blazing runner (who might not stay at shortstop) and Profar is the slickest defender, but I think Machado will be average or better in all five tools and easily be the best all-around player of the trio.

    Mike (Houston): How do you define "going over slot"? Your article mentions that the Twins didn't go over slot for any of their picks, but didn't they do just that with Dallas Gallant in the later rounds?

Jim Callis: Spending more than MLB recommended for the pick. Gallant signed for $122,500, and MLB's recommended max after the fifth round is $150,000. The Twins did a nice job to get Gallant for that and A.J. Achter for $50,000 after both had very nice summers in the Cape Cod League.

    T-bone (Indiana): Jim Callis talk to me about Lucas O'Rear.

Jim Callis: Oh, you guys know he's one of my favorites, just for the back story. First heard about him when he was coming out of an Illinois high school and headed to Northern Iowa to play hoops. He since has been MVC sixth man of the year twice and part of the upset over Kansas—and Northern Iowa has dropped baseball. Baseball is his future because at 6-foot-5 he's not going to be an NBA power foreward. He has a plus arm, it's just a matter of what he can develop to go with his velocity because he hasn't pitched a lot of innings.

    Glenn (Boston, MA): Taking away signability as a factor, now that we are almost 6 months post-draft, what would each of your top 5 picks look like?

Jim Callis: John had to duck out to take a phone call but will be back. My top five would be: Harper, Taillon, Machado, C.Sale, Cox.

John Manuel: I would delete Cox and sub in Christian Colon. I may just have too much guilt for reporting that scouts thought he should catch coming out of HS . . . he's a playmaker who can hit, and he'll be in the middle infield, so I'd prefer him to Cox.

    Wendy (DC): If you were Nats' management, where would you start Harper off at next April - Hagerstown or Potomac?

Jim Callis: I'd start him off in Hagerstown. Nothing wrong with letting him tear it up for a couple months and moving him up later. He's still be well ahead of almost every player his age, and it's a lot easier to ruin someone's confidence (if he struggled in high A) than it is to build it back up.

    Sig (Huntington, WV): Considering how bad Pirates pitching was in 2010 shouldn't they take a pitcher with the 1st pick?

Jim Callis: Teams have the No. 1 pick for a reason—because they had a horrible big league season. In that situation, you have to take the best available player. That very well could be a pitcher in 2011 for the Pirates, because there are a lot of great arms available (Matt Purke, Gerrit Cole, Matt Barnes, etc). But if they think Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is the best prospect—and I do—they should take him.

    BL (Bozeman, MT): Has Jason Adam maintained his early bump in velocity in Instructs, how would you describe his repertoire, and what do you guys see as his ceiling?

John Manuel: Bill, Adam was 93-95 and touched 97 according to our Conor Glassey. J.J. Cooper is doing our Royals top 30 and reports he's pushing the top 10, though that's a deep, talented Top 10. Don't think he'll push into the 10, but it sounds like he's got room to move with his changeup, and that his curve could be a second plus pitch.

    Kevin (Milwaukee): IF the draft was held today for you, in terms of starting pitchers Ranaudo over anyone but Taillon?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say that. You could certainly argue Ranaudo, though his history of having elbow issues two out of three years at LSU would have to scare you at least a little, wouldn't it? I still think Chris Sale will be a starter, and I'd take him and Pomeranz over Ranaudo.

    ScottAZ (Phx): Any chance that Chad Jones returns to baseball fulltime after his accident? Pitching might be the easiest road to recovery rather than football or even the everyday grind as an OFer

John Manuel: The Brewers didn't indicate that they were holding their breath waiting for Jones to come back, but it was a smart move to secure his rights in case he changes his mind. I did watch a video of Jones rehabbing, I believe on the Newark Star-Ledger's website, in which his singular focus was coming back to football and to play for the NY Football Giants. I'd say the chances of him playing baseball are very, very small.

    Norberto Paulino (New York): Which team do you guys think got the most value for for what they spent? or more clearly which go the best talent for the least amount of money spent? Am think of the Blue Jays they went over-slot but the net spending wasn't that high and they got a pretty good group of hitters and pitchers.

Jim Callis: Right now, that clearly looks like the Rockies. We rated them as having the fourth-best draft, and they ranked just 18th in bonus spending. They got a lot of talent without going crazy over slot, landing players such as OF Kyle Parker (1st round), RHP Peter Tago (sandwich), RHP Chad Bettis (steal in the 2nd), and so on.

    Kyle (Oxford): Do you think the Reds went too hitter heavy in the draft? Grandal and LaMarre looked like good values at their slots.

John Manuel: Maybe a bit, but you hit on a good reason why they did — they liked the value of those players where they got them. Cisco's important for this draft as the highest-paid pitcher, but they also like Wes Mugarian and Tony Amezcua, the other two prep RHPs they signed in the first 10 rounds. The sleeper hitter to watch there is Jaren Matthews, the 1B out of Rutgers. He had a good instructs, he's the guy who signed with the Red Sox out of high school but changed his mind en route to going to Boston for his physical, if I recall that last part correctly. He had a modest college career, but the Reds think they've ironed out some issues with his swing. So there's another heavy hitter in a hitter-heavy draft class.

    Ray (burlington, nj): How soon before Zach Lee makes it to the bigs? Is he the #1 prospect for LAD or does Dee Gordon retain the #1 spot? Is the Dodgers farm system in the top 10 conversation amongst MLB teams?

Jim Callis: I'd go with Gordon because he has already proven himself at the Double-A level. Both are exciting young players with high ceilings. Lee will need at least two years in the minors, but he could develop quickly for a high schoolers. I think the Dodgers system is better than it generally gets credit for, but I don't think it's a top-10 system.

    Jay (South Riding, VA): What is the ceiling of the pitchers the Nats took in Solis, Cole & Ray and when could Solis be pitching at Nats Park?

John Manuel: Cole has the highest ceiling, but Solis was their closest to the majors. Honestly, it wouldn't shock me if Solis got a cup of coffee in 2011. It's not like the Nats have a ton of pitching prospects in his way (though some EL managers liked Tommy Milone as a pitchability LHP). Solis is a pitchability LHP as well, but he's got an average fastball, plus change and pretty nice breaking ball. He was healthy this spring, pitched 92 innings, and is in the AFL. I could see him in the back of the Nats' 2012 rotation, if it all breaks right. Cole and Ray will take longer, but they have potentially bigger arms with better breaking stuff. I'm not quite as high as the Nats are on Ray, but they are enthused by a lefty with such a loose arm. Good trio to complement Harper at the top of a strong draft class.

    Ty (Miami University): Which NL club's draft was most improved? Which club had a worse draft year over year? Thanx!

John Manuel: I took this question just to address how much these things change. Last year, we ranked the Padres' draft No. 4. Now, we had good reasons for that — the upside of Everett Williams, Donavan Tate and Keyvious Sampson. Since then, Tate and Sampson have gotten hurt and Williams had a pretty underwhelming debut. So did the likes of Jorge Reyes and Chris Fetter and some of the other '09 Padres draft picks. A year later, that draft isn't looking like the No. 4 draft. So while this question is well-intentioned, there's really no good answer to it.

    Kyle (Oxford): How much does getting Drew Cisco and Kyle Waldrop signed help the Reds draft class? Do you think Walrop has the hitting aptitude to adjust to pro ball and make use of his power and athleticism?

John Manuel: One last Reds Q from Kyle . . . yes, they are key, that's why they took some lower-cost seniors in the first 10 rounds, so they could fit in guys such as Cisco and Waldrop above slot; same for Grandal's MLB contract, it allowed them to spread out the bonus payment. Those guys are key to the draft having some depth, and I'm a believer in Waldrop's athleticism; he just may take a while. Apparently, he didn't face a ton of high-quality pitching in high school and may need some ABs to get adjusted, I wouldn't expect to see him in Dayton next year.

    Craig (Tulsa): Chad Bettis put up some pretty impressive numbers after the draft. How quickly could he get to Coors Field if he moves to the 'pen?

John Manuel: Bettis is one reason the Rockies got into the top 5 of the draft rankings for a second straight year (again, for what that's worth). I think the Rockies are most encouraged by his efficiency — he had a 7-inning, 75-pitch start when he first got to Asheville. MY guess is he'll be a starter throughout his minor league career, then become a reliever as a big leaguer, which could be 2011 if things fall right for him and wrong for some injured Rockies.

    Bobby (Jersey): The Phillies spent some $$ late again. Anyone stand out who could be the next Colvin/Singleton/Cosart? A guy paid late who turns into a stud?

John Manuel: I don't think the guys they spent on late this year have that kind of upside, but if anyone does, it would be Kevin Walter, the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder out of Colorado. Brian Pointer has some upside as a solid hitter and athlete, but it's not Singleton upside.

    Jay (South Riding, VA): Do you see Harper taking a similar path to Heyward and Stanton and being on the major league roster by age 20? Has there ever been a collection of RF in the same division with that kind of star potential?

John Manuel: I do see Harper moving very quickly, and as for RFs . . . well, I just B-Refed 1969, when divisional play started, and the NL West had Aaron, Rose and Bobby Bonds, so that's pretty good. Also in '94 the NL East had Larry Walker, Gary Sheffield and David Justice. Just two off the top of my head . . . But the main reason I answered this question was to say he probably *could* play CF. I got a couple of scouting directors not named Kris Kline to say they had Harper as a 60 or 65 runner. You just don't want to wear him out defensively, doing all that running, so he'll go to RF, where he could be Larry Walker with (gulp) more power.

    Nick (Cary, NC): Kyle Waldrop, Marcus Knecht, or Ty Linton, which one is the most likely to develop into a major league slugger?

John Manuel: I'm compelled to answer as a Cary resident. I'll say Linton, I like the athleticism and bat potential, and he's a bit more polished than Waldrop. Both were linebackers, by the way. I like Knecht but have to be a bit skeptical of the guys who put up huge numbers at Oklahoma JCs.

    Andrew (Winnipeg): Who was a better prospect on their respective draft days, Deck MgGuire or Ricky Romero?

John Manuel: I think Romero because he was a power LHP, McGuire had just a so-so college junior season. Romero just got lost in the cloud of "Oh, we could have had Tulo." He was a legit guy, just not quite considered the consensus top 10 talent. He's obviously turned out well, very happy for Ricky that he's not just thought of as the guy they took instead of Tulo.

    Sid (San Diego): Did the spending of money on Tate last year, influence the Padres decision to not aggressively pursue Whitson, Vanegas, and Hahn in the draft?

John Manuel: I don't believe that was the case; the Astros tried to spend, just couldn't come to terms with Whitson and what sounds like a moving target. Vanegas was determined to go to school, and it's Stanford, so you really can't blame him. Hahn wasn't as much of a Padres target as OF-1B Sean Dwyer, who heads the Florida Gulf Coast recruiting class, which is a very good one.

    Ian (Pittsburgh): Is the Pirates draft after Taillon/Allie that mediocre that those two players alone couldn't get them into the top 5 for draft quality?

John Manuel: We discussed that on the podcast today, and I guess the short answer is, yes. We weren't as impressed with their hitters, and they get dinged by not signing four guys in the first 10 rounds, too. Five years from now, if Taillon and Allie both pan out, we'll have been wrong, because those were the two best pure arms in the draft. For us, that alone didn't put them up past, say, 6-10 range.

    Nick (Connecticut): Does Cito Culver have some Derek Jeter in him? I am not comparing them directly but high school shortstops who grew up as Yankee fans and are great athletes? Love the chats, thanks.

John Manuel: Again, I see what you're saying, and on those points, sure. But Culver's not that size, not that strength, not that kind of potential impact bat. Remember, Jeter would have gone 1-1 to Houston if the Astros had been willing to pay him a couple of extra hundred thousand dollars. Culver wasn't even a consensus first-rounder, and he also isn't the best athlete the Yanks drafted — he's probably third-best, behind Mason Williams (who got a larger bonus and was the best prospect the Yanks drafted) and Angelo Gumbs.

    Dave (Atlanta): What did you make of Tony DeMacio's first draft with the Braves? Outside of Matt Lipka, the picks seem more conservative than past Braves' drafts under Roy Clark.

John Manuel: Well, I don't know about that, the Braves have trended conservative for a few years now, taking more and more JC players as high school players got too expensive. I like Lipka and Simmons; Filak is a key piece, the best arm they picked, and he's raw. Going for more four-year college guys frankly was a need, they were very thin in the lower levels in terms of position players. Check how Joe Leonard, Todd Cunningham and Phil Gosselin immediately went to Rome as starters, and all three have the potential to be MLB regulars, though none projects as a star. I think that class as a whole will go as Lipka and Filak go, most upside with those two.

    JAYPERS (IL): Why couldn't the Rays and Austin Wood come to terms?

John Manuel: Probably because Austin Wood over-priced himself after performing well in the Cape. I'm not the biggest Austin Wood backer, he just seems like an arm-strength RHP to me. Jim thinks more highly of him though considering how he went to the Cape Cod League and kind of tore it up. My retort would be, small sample size. He has size and arm strength, but I see him as a reliever all the way and thought the Rays did too. I am very interested to see how he does at USC.

John Manuel: OK, that's going to do it for us. Thanks for coming out and have a great weekend. Don't forget that we discussed DRCs for almost an hour today on a podcast which should be up shortly here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/media/podcasts/