League Top 20 Prospects

Midwest League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. I anticipate a lot of "Why didn't Player X make the list?" questions. Bear in mind that the MWL has 16 teams now and was loaded with talent, so some good prospects had to get squeezed off. With that disclaimer out of the way, let's get to your questions.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Jim, what are you thoughts on Bobby Borchering? Does he factor into the 21-25 range?

Jim Callis: Borchering was one of the guys who just missed the list. If the MWL were a 10-12 team league, he would have made it. His big tool is obviously power, though that might be his only real plus. Scouts weren't in love with the rest of his game, and he's not going to be able to play third base.

    Tim (St Pete, FL): I'm a bit surprised not to see Garrett Richards on this list, even though I know the talent pool was huge overall. Could you tell us what you thought of him this season, and was a lack of space on the list the only reason why he didn't make it?

Jim Callis: Again, space was a very big factor. Richards was a very tough call for me. He was probably No. 21. He has a very good arm, though scouts wonder about his delivery—he throws across his body—and what that will do to his command/consistency/durability. In the end, it boiled down to I think he has a better chance to wind up in the bullpen than Matt Lollis or Chad Jenkins. But if you want to argue he should have been on the Top 20, it's not hard to make that case.

    JAYPERS (IL): I was very impressed with what I read about Ryan LaMarre before and after he got drafted. Obviously he didn't the chance to play much in the MWL, but what are scouts and Dayton's staff telling you about him? How would you rank his tools overall?

Jim Callis: I like LaMarre a lot too and thought he should have been a late first-rounder rather than lasting until the Reds got him in the middle of the second. He didn't light up the MWL, but he's a guy who can hit, should have at least average power, and play a good center field. His makeup is off the charts, too.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Jim, would you say optimism has waned at all regarding Hicks, after repeating at Beloit this year with only marginally better results (albeit played out over a full season this time)?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say the optimism has waned. I think the better way to put it is that scouts expected him to dominate the league more in his second year in Beloit, but they still love the tools. He has a ceiling of a high-average, solid-power hitter with good speed, good center fielder, cannon arm.

    Dave (Flood plain, MA): No love for Dayton? Well-regarded Ryan Lamarre saw 227 ABs— not enough to be considered? 20 year-old switch-hitting 2B Henry Rodriguez had 50+ extra base hits and stole 30+ bases. And 20-year old SS Didi Gregorius showed nice offensive and defensive tools in his 1st full season. The team stunk, but these are legitimate prospects, right?

Jim Callis: Those were the three best prospects on Dayton. Scouts and managers liked them, but they weren't good enough to make a loaded Top 20.

    MJ (Valpo): Jim, I'm completely shocked that Randal Grichuk is not on this list!?!? A line of .292/.327/.530 (30 XBH in 52 GP)mostly as an 18-year old isn't good enough?!? He's not some scrub who came from nowhere, he's a first-round pick...so what kept him off the list?

Jim Callis: He was in a similar boat to Borchering. He's a better athlete than Borchering, but power is his real standout tool, there's a lot of swing and miss (more than Borchering), he's not a great athlete (improved in the OF, but his bat still has to carry him).

    Jimbo (Sacramento): Do you guys have any regret over choosing 23 y.o. Jeremy Hellickson (who already had MLB experience) as your Minor League POY over the 18 y.o. Mike Trout? After Trout tore up the CAL playoffs, will you ever start waiting until the whole season is over before naming the POY?

Jim Callis: Prospecty goodness is the biggest part of the MLPOY decision, but performance matters too. I'd take Trout over Hellickson as a prospect, but Trout was good not great after his promotion to the Cal League and Hellickson had a better year, especially considering the level. That said, I wouldn't have been upset had Trout been our MLPOY.

    Ken Rule (Lakewood CA): Hi Jim. Is it just me, or is this list a particularly strong one? A guy like Sands, who went on to do well in AA and almost led the minors in HR, is towards the bottom. Franklin, who has received high praise as a middle infield power prospect, just in the middle of the top 10. Myers, who has been mentioned as a candidate for Minor League Player of the Year, doesn't even make it as #1 in this league. Looks like a very solid list of young players. Your thoughts?

Jim Callis: Yes, very strong. Might be the best MWL crop since I started doing our MWL Top 20 back in 2000.

    Matt (KC): Kind of surprised to see Shelby ahead of Myers. Was that a tough choice? Will Myers get some top 5 love in Carolina League as well?

Jim Callis: It was a tough choice, another one you could easily argue for either side. If people thought Myers would catch in the big leagues, I think it would have been very easy to put him at No. 2. But that sounds doubtful, so I went with Miller, who was spectacular down the stretch. I'll take the potential No. 1 starter over the stud corner outfielder.

    Chuck (Beehaven): Best player in five years? Trout, Dom Brown, Stanton, Heyward, Harper, or other?

Jim Callis: I'll say Heyward will be the best, with Trout behind him. In my mind, no question, Trout is the best prospect in the minors right now.

    Shane (Miami): Jim, There's no question the MWL was stacked this year. In your opinion, would any of the 5-8 (or more) beat out Singleton in the SAL? If so, which ones for you?

Jim Callis: Hadn't thought about it that way, but yes, I would take the top five MWL prospects (Trout, Miller, Myers, Turner, Hicks) over Singleton. I'd think about taking Franklin, McNutt and Odorizzi over him also.

    JAYPERS (IL): Besides Colome, were any other Hot Rods considered for this list? What's the word on Wilking Rodriguez's and Kyle Lobstein's seasons?

Jim Callis: As deep as the Rays were, the Hot Rods were lighter on talent than I expected. Rodriguez was their next-best guy, but his fastball is his only plus pitch right now. Lobstein's velocity has never spiked up, he was just OK. Ty Morrison was their only position player of note, but he's still raw. Scott Shuman was an interesting sleeper in the bullpen.

    Nate (Washington): How close was James Jones? He batted .321/387/487 post-all star break and was fantastic in the playoffs.

Jim Callis: Probably would have fit in the 31-40 range had I gone that deep. Interesting athlete with some bat potential, but scouts don't love the swing and wonder how it will play versus better pitching.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Hello, Jim, and thank you for the chat. Are there any positives that can be taken away from Everett Williams' rather abysmal season? If the glass is half-full, can it be chalked-up to a 19 year-old playing through a lot of injuries in the Midwest League?

Jim Callis: I loved Williams in the draft last year, but didn't hear much good about him this year. He didn't perform well, which isn't a killer for a 19-year-old in the pitcher-friendly MWL, but his bat and athleticism were less than expected. I'd say the glass might be three-quarters empty.

    Jonathan (Brewtown): Did Rattlers Scooter Gennett and Kentrail Davis impress you this season?

Jim Callis: Gennett more than Davis. Gennett was in the 21-25 range, a guy I hated to leave off. He's a scrappy offensive second baseman, kind of a poor man's Nick Franklin without any pretense of being able to play shortstop. Davis hit well, but only after not playing well in the FSL, and I think he's a LF. Not sure if he has enough bat to make him a solid regular there.

    Kyle (Erie, PA): No love for Brian Galvez and his amazing season?

Jim Callis: I like Cavazos-Galvez some, but he was 23, he's a corner guy really and he's too aggressive at the plate to project as a regular. Some scouts thought he was the fourth-best outfielder at Great Lakes this year, behind Jerry Sands, Blake Smith and Angelo Songco.

    Commish (NYC): The more I read about and see the results of Jean Segura, the more I think of Joe Morgan. Do you see him making the jump to elite status in 2011 and is the JM comparison way off the mark?

Jim Callis: I really like Segura, and I thought he was a sleeper coming into the year, but I wouldn't compare him to the greatest second baseman of all time! He won't walk that much, won't be that prolific a basestealer and isn't that good of a defender. That said, Segura can hit for a high average with some power, and he's a plus runner and defender.

    Jim (Topeka): What's your take on Burlington's (Royals) Tyler Sample? Supposedly, scouts like him, but he also has obvious command issues.

Jim Callis: Intriguing arm and size, but no pitchability. He's a project worth taking a chance on, but whether he'll figure things out is anyone's guess.

    Bob (VA): Did Kevin Munson from South Bend not have enough relief appearances to qualify? If he had, where would he have ranked? With Arizona's need for relief pitchers, how quickly do you think he can move through their system?

Jim Callis: Munson didn't qualify. He wouldn't have made the list because it was very hard to put a relief on this Top 20, but he threw 92-93 and had a good slider. He'll rush through the system and could get their in early 2012, if not sooner.

    Mike C. (Lynchburg, VA): Thanks for the chat Jim! Is Turner's lack of innings this year a concern yet? Where does he rank for you among right-handed starters still in the minors?

Jim Callis: No. He had some stiffness early, and the Tigers just shut him down as a precaution. He was fine afterward, probably could have pitched through it, and had no problems with health or high Class A hitters in the Florida State League. He's on the short list of the top pitching prospects in the minors.

    Jim (South Bend): Was Kyle Heckathorn considered in this list?

Jim Callis: Scouts were underwhelmed by him. Some velo but also some effort, not much in the way of secondary pitches. He wasn't as much of a disaster as Eric Arnett was, but scouts weren't in love with Heckathorn at all.

    steve (naperville): What is the opinion on Ian Krol (oakland)? He blew through the MWL and up to high A. His numbers were better than Shelby Miller's but I thought more of a control pitcher than a fireballer.

Jim Callis: Krol would have fit in the 21-30 range, though I did talk to two scouts who liked Kane County lefty Justin Marks better. Krol can really pitch, but he has a below-average fastball with no real projection remaining. Krol has a good changeup and curveball and he can really compete. Good chance to reach his ceiling, but his ceiling is No. 4 or 5 starter.

    Martin (Los Angeles): Was Rubby De La Rosa the biggest surprise to make the Top 20 in this year's list? Most of the guys ahead of him on the list are high-draft picks and guys with prospect pedigrees. De La Rosa was a nobody prior to 2010 but he really opened some eyes this year. Your thoughts?

Jim Callis: I think Matt Lollis, a 15th-round pick last year, was the biggest surprise. I didn't see him coming at all. De La Rosa was unhyped, but we did have reports of him throwing 98 mph in the Arizona League last year.

    Danny (Osala): No love for A.J. Jimenez? Young and already a very good defensive catcher with some bat?

Jim Callis: That's what he is, but that wasn't enough to make this Top 20.

    Chris (Antioch, CA): Jim, do pitchers tend to get downgraded in the MWL because it is a more pitcher-friendly league than say the Cal League and vice versa regarding hitters in the two leagues?

Jim Callis: No. I know I don't do that. You have to take everyone's performance in context, but at the Class A level, projecting prospects is as much about tools if not moreso than it is about stats.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): What did league sources have to say about Max Stassi?

Jim Callis: Another guy in that 21-30 range. Liked him some but also expected a little more. Has power and some defensive skills behind the plate, but his arm was fringy and he needs more polish than expected. Some average tools but nothing that jumped out as a slam-dunk plus.

    Brandon (Pasadena): Matt Magill led all minor leaguers with his .194 batting average against, and also had a solid ERA and strikeout rate, but didn't get any love on the top 20 list. Why is that?

Jim Callis: Because his stuff wasn't good enough. His stuff is fringy to average. His slider was too much for low Class A hitters, but scouts didn't think it would fool better hitters.

    Kim (Seoul): DO you think Hak-ju Lee to make BA Top 100 list? I wonder no.13 in this league is pessimistic. Well, what do you think his range at short-stop and will he does push starlin castro to second base at big league? Thank you Jim, I should prove him to qualify Team Korea for his military service.

Jim Callis: He was another guy who people liked as a prospect but expected more from. His range is fine at shortstop, but scouts didn't think he'd push Castro to second base. I don't think he's a Top 100 guy right now.

    James (Santee, CA): Is Jason Hagerty a prospect or more of an organizational guy who had a great year?

Jim Callis: He's a prospect. Maybe he's not a regular catcher on a contender, but he might be more than a backup. He's a switch-hitter with some power, solid defense, runs a staff well.

    Elliot (Youngstown OH): I know that Lake County did it with mirrors, and solid performances from steady nonprospects, but I thought there was one solid candidate and a few possibles for the list. Catcher Chun Chen had awfully good offensive stats in his half season in the Midwest League. Did he come close? Any love for OF Bo Greenwell and pitchers Matt Packer and Cody Burns?

Jim Callis: Lake County won the league title but they didn't really have a guy who was especially close to cracking the Top 20. Chen has a solid bat and plus arm strength, but he's very raw as a receiver and most guys saw him as more of a backup. Packer is interesting. Good life on a solid fastball and changeup. Casey Frawley could be a good utility guy, strong-armed Austin Adams and Burns could be useful relievers. Greenwell doesn't have enough power to be a regular in LF.

    Miller (Vegas): McNutt ranked ahead of Lee for the Cubs...does this say more about McNutt's jump or have Lee taken a step back?

Jim Callis: More about McNutt. Some guys thought he had two 70 pitches on the 20-80 scouting scale in his fastball and breaking ball.

    Robert (Detroit): Is Turners rating in this ranking indicative only of his performance during the MWL or does it also include his performance in the FSL. If only MWL will he also be included in the FSL rankings?

Jim Callis: Only concerns his MWL performance. He will be on our FSL list as well. (As will Wilmer Flores, Mets fans!)

    James (Tampa Bay): Mike Trout = Carl Crawford?

Jim Callis: Trout has more power and can play a quality center field. Better hitter at same stage of his career, too. Trout is a significantly better prospect than Crawford was at the same stage.

    George (Houston, TX): Matt Adams seemed to come out of nowhere but has shown he can hit. Is he a legitimate prospect?

Jim Callis: He has a legitimate bat but the rest of his tools are well below-average. I think he can hit his way to the majors, but probably won't hit enough to be a regular.

    George (Houston, TX): The Astros were rumored to have had the opportunity to take Shelby Miller with Mitch Boggs or Jason Motte in a deal for Roy Oswalt. Would that have been better than J.A. Happ and Brett Wallace?

Jim Callis: I can't believe that's really true. But if it was, they should have taken Miller.

    Eric (Livonia Mi.): Were Wade Gaynor or Avisail Garcia of the Whitecaps close to the top 20? Is either one a future major league regular?

Jim Callis: Not really, and probably not. Garcia easily had the best tools on West Michigan, but he's very raw and swings at everything. Gaynor is another free swinger. He has some power and bat speed, but he swings and misses a lot and isn't a good defender.

    Brad (MO): Where would you rank John Lamb on this list if he had qualified?

Jim Callis: No. 4. Would have thought about putting him No. 3 ahead of Myers. One scout told me he thought Lamb was the best lefty in the entire minors.

    Brad (MO): I thought in a previous chat you (maybe someone else at BA) had stated that more positive reports were coming in on Myers being able to stay behind the plate. Is it possible that reports on his defense in the MWL are dated and don't give him credit for the late season adjustments while Shelby Miller benifits from staying in the league or do you talk with scouts from the Carolina League when making this list?

Jim Callis: Some people give him a chance, but the consensus is that it won't happen. I talked to multiple scouts who saw him in both the MWL and the CAR, so I don't think our reports were dated at all.

Jim Callis: Great questions today. I think I had more than 200, and I wish I could stick around and answer more. Check back Monday, and we'll have Lacy Lusk talking about his Carolina League Top 20.