League Top 20 Prospects

2012 Midwest League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

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Moderator: Jim Callis will answer your Midwest League questions beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Had he qualified, about where would you have ranked Jorge Soler? Do you believe he has a higher ceiling than Baez? Do you think he's ready for Daytona?

Jim Callis: Behind the big three (Baez, Sano, Lindor) and somewhere in the midst of the pitchers (Bradley, Syndergaard, Sanchez). I don't think his ceiling is higher than Baez', because Baez had a chance to be a plus-plus hitter w/plus-plus power and play a premium position. I like Baez' overall bat more than Soler's, and his defensive value more as well. I do think Soler is ready for Daytona.

    Gary (NYC): Is command the only aspect of Archie Bradley's game that needs work? Would you send him to Visalia next April, or let him get more comfortable in the MWL for a while longer first?

Jim Callis: Bradley needs to address his overall consistency of everything, like most young pitchers. I don't really think he has much left to prove in the MWL, so I'd challenge him with high Class A next year. He's one of those guys who, once everything clicks, will rush to the majors.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Are all three of Lansing's triumvirate ready for Dunedin? If not all, who is more ready than the other(s)? Will the Jays continue to keep them on short leashes?

Jim Callis: Yes, they all are ready. Aaron Sanchez has the most pure stuff and is less polished than Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino, but he's ready. The way the Jays have handled these three and their other young arms reminds me of the way the Rays have developed their young arms, and that's a good thing. Tampa Bay starts to cut their guys loose after their first year in full-season ball, and I could see Toronto doing the same.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Quad Cities' Anthony Garcia has been floating under the prospect radar for many, but this season he put up impressive numbers overall, especially his power. What is your opinion of his game overall?

Jim Callis: He's an all-bat guy with some raw power but not much of an athlete or a defender. He has a chance, but he's really going to have to hit.

    Laura (KC): What did scouts have to say about Robert Stephenson's pitches? Where would he have placed?

Jim Callis: He would have been in the first tier of pitches had he qualified. He has a mid-90s fastball with exceptional life, the makings of a plus curveball and precocious poise on the mound.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Is Jorge Bonifacio's ceiling as high as Cuthbert's was when he played in the MWL? Do you believe he will have greater success when he gets to Wilmington?

Jim Callis: Very similar hitters. Guys weren't sold on Cuthbert staying at third base, so it could be argued that Bonifacio will have more defensive value. Cuthbert had a rough year in high Class A, so I'll bet on Bonifacio exceeding those numbers.

    Paul (Phoenix AZ): Would you consider Kyle Zimmer's potential and arsenal to be superior to Jake Odorizzi in all facets?

Jim Callis: No question, and I like Odorizzi. I see Odorizzi as a guy with solid stuff and a chance to be a No. 3 starter. Zimmer has plus stuff and a chance to be a frontline starter.

    Ben (Leland Grove): After Vettleson, which Hot Rods came closest to making this list?

Jim Callis: Jake Hager and Felipe Rivero. Hager has nice actions at shortstop, but the bat looks pretty ordinary. Rivero is a lefty with a fastball in the low 90s, but the rest of his game is still in progress. I did consider both for the end of the Top 20, but they'd be in my 21-30 range.

    Bob (Dallas): Could we get the skinny on Bobby Crocker's year at Burlington? What does he need to work on most?

Jim Callis: He has promising power but chases too many pitches to get to it consistently. He lacks a true standout tool, so it's hard to project him as a regular.

    Grant (Big D): Which Whitecaps were most closely considered for this list? Thoughts on Steven Moya in particular?

Jim Callis: Shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who's kind of a poor man's Lindor, was the best prospect on the Whitecaps. Moya might have had the best body in the league and was putting together a nice year before needing Tommy John surgery.

    Randy (Savannah Georgia): After getting knocked around in the CAL, A.J. Cole showed marked improvement in the MWL. Do you believe he is ready to return to Stockton?

Jim Callis: He definitely doesn't need to spend most of a third straight year in low Class A. He regained his confidence and got more aggressive after coming down to Burlington. The Cal League is a graveyard for pitchers, but sending him back there makes more sense than jumping him to Double-A.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Was Adys Portillo promoted too quickly, in your opinion? Who has better pitches between he and Sampson?

Jim Callis: Not too quickly, because he spent last year in the MWL too, but he wasn't ready to jump all the way to Double-A. That's a tough call, because guys w/o good command can get destroyed in the Cal League too. Portillo has a better arm but Sampson has good stuff and harnesses his more easily.

    Sammy (DC): What can you tell us about Elvis Araujo's arsenal?

Jim Callis: Scouts thought he had better stuff than Felipe Rivero. Araujo still is figuring out his command and didn't have much of a track record of staying healthy before this year, but he has a low-90s fastball and a sweeping breaking ball that's a plus pitch at times.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): So, how many of these 20 do you believe are "locks" for the Top 100, how many are "probable", and how many are "possible"?

Jim Callis: Hmmmm. The first seven guys are locks, Cowart is probably and the next 3-5 guys are possible.

    Allan (Wisconsin): Jim, any chance Addison Russell comes back to Beloit to start 2013?

Jim Callis: Sure. He only got 58 AB in the MWL and will be 19, so no need to rush him. If he continues to rake, move him to the Cal League at midseason.

    Chuck (Wichita): Where would Zimmer have ranked? Do you think his ceiling is a #2 starter?

Jim Callis: Zimmer would have ranked with the top tier of pitchers. His ceiling is as a No. 1 or 2 starter, depending on how aggressive you want to be. One scouts I talked to said Zimmer was the best pitcher he saw in pro ball (including Shelby Miller, for instance) all year. Another didn't see him as good, perhaps because the bone chips in his elbow were flaring up by then.

    Phil (North York, ON): Hi - with Syndergaard, Sanchez and Nicolino, do the Jays have 3 legitimate starting pitching prospects or do you see 1 or more of them ending up at a reliever?

Jim Callis: No reason to think any of those guys can't start. There's always attrition with pitcher, of course, but right now they all look like starters. Syndergaard and Sanchez look like they could be No. 2 starters, Nicolino a No. 3 or 4.

    Chris (Boston, MA): Hi - the scouting report on Rosario makes me wonder where he will fit defensively. It seems he could be relegated to RF or LF. With a 15 homerun projection, doesnt that make him a bit of a "tweener"?

Jim Callis: That's fair, the downside on Rosario is that he could be a tweener. The upside is that he could a) become a passable second baseman (MWL scouts see that as a longshot), b) become a center fielder and/or c) prove to have more power. There's some optimism for b) and c).

    Phil (North York, ON): Cameron Seitzer put up solid numbers in the MWL - is he considered a prospect?

Jim Callis: He can hit but doesn't do anything else real well (4 HR in 424 AB), so he's more of a good org guy than a real prospect.

    David (Medicine Hat): Does Kevin Pillar have any above average skills 51 SB 322 ave are not easy. OR is he Reed Johnson

Jim Callis: The league MVP was old for the MWL at 23, but to his credit he continued to hit after his promotion to high Class A. Double-A will give us a better picture of what Pillar really is. He's more of a grinder maxing out his ability than a tooled-up prospect.

    James (Rome,WI): Jim-Any Timber Rattler prospects close to the top 20?

Jim Callis: Not really, despite the fact Wisconsin won the league title. They had the league's oldest roster, too. Their best prospects were Yadiel Rivera (good glove at SS, big questions on the bat), David Goforth (strong arm but iffy command and destined for the bullpen) and Drew Gagnon (can pitch but stuff is fringy to average).

    Ed (Naperville, IL): Addison Russell or Javier Baez?

Jim Callis: Baez. I like his bat more and they're comparable defensively. Not a huge difference, though.

    Al (NYC): Realistically, where do you envision Baez playing once he arrives in Chicago? It seems Castro is entrenched at SS and Vitters re-established himself as a prospect this year and has already reached Chicago. Can you see a move to RF or maybe even 2B for Baez if the Cubs are committed to Castro and Vitters?

Jim Callis: Third base. Baez may be a better shortstop than Castro, though I don't see the Cubs moving him. (Barney is a better shortstop than Castro, for that matter.) Vitters isn't in Baez' class and probably won't be a big league regular, especially at third base.

    Mike (Puyallup, WA): As a Mariners fan, I eagerly await these lists and scouting reports but as I clicked on the MWL top 20, I couldn't think of anyone - Did anyone from Clinton get considered? Paolini, Miller, anyone?

Jim Callis: Nope. Clinton was barren. You can dream on Guillermo Pimental's bat, but he's extremely raw. Richard Vargas has some arm strength and could make it as a middle reliever.

    gerry (Toronto): Did anyone like Anthony DeSclafani who was the #4 Lansing pitcher? In a previous chat you said some scouts liked Tyler Ybarra. He was injured a lot this year but did scouts see him as a lefty reliever?

Jim Callis: They took a back seat to Lansing's Big Three but scouts did like both of those guys. Ybarra threw 91-95 with a plus slider. DeSclafani had similar velocity on his sinker. He didn't have a second pitch to match but may be able to live off that sinker.

    larry (San Luis Obispo): Cubs....mike jensen RHP ....later pick, great numbers. What you got?

Jim Callis: Scouts liked him, too. Solid fastball and curveball, he's a prospect.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Jim, thank you for the chat today. Were scouts surprised how well Austin Hedges acclimated himself to pro ball at the plate? One of the concerns with him in HS was the hit tool, however the numbers (which can mislead) appear perhaps better than expected.

Jim Callis: That's a good way to put it. There were some questions about Hedges' bat when he was coming out of high school, but he looked like he'll be an average hitter with average or better power. Add that to his plus defense, and you have an all-star.

    josh (chicago): i feel like baez, lindor and sano have been linked for some time. each have been hyped up after their signings and have not disappointed. however, i feel like when reading about top prospects lindor and sano have always been ranked a little bit ahead of baez, what has changed?

Jim Callis: Short answer: Baez is more athletic and better at shortstop than scouts thought he would be. And he has the best all-around bat of that group.

    Jeff (Bay Area): Going into 2013, where does Hedges fall on the list of top catching prospects?

Jim Callis: Off the top of my head, he could be No. 3 behind d'Arnaud and Zunino.

    Chris (KC): Jim, why don't the Top 20 scouting reports include the player's organization? Much as I like to think I know EVERY prospect, I do sometimes run into one (or several!) that I'm not familiar with, and it would be nice if you could include that information. The list without the scouting reports does include it, so it seems odd that it would be omitted here.

Jim Callis: A valid point, and one I will pass on to our web guys.

    DH (Pittsburgh): If you knew Baez would spend his career at 3B, and not SS, would it have changed his ranking? What if you knew Sano would spend his career in RF?

Jim Callis: He very well might, and it would not. If Baez is a 3B, I still think he's a slightly better all-around hitter than Sano and a much better defender. That's assuming Sano is able to stay at 3B, which may or may not happen.

    John Smith (Toronto): In the 2012 Prospect Handbook, Toronto's Noah Syndergaard received a BA Grade 60 (projects to No. 2 SPer) and High risk factor. What do you think is Syndergaard's current projection, BA Grade, and risk factor?

Jim Callis: In case you haven't noticed, I've shifted to lighting-round mode . . . No. 2 starter, 60/Medium.

    Mike (Fort Wayne): GREAT job on the list Jim. Thought you nailed it from what I saw this year working in the MWL. Any consideration for Matt Stites from FW? I know you had him on end of year all Low A team. Was that more of a reward for a great season vs. thinking he was a prospect? Any consideration for Yeison Asencio? He might be 2 years older than before, but he's can square up a ball as well as i've seen in Fort Wayne. THANKS again for your list!

Jim Callis: Thanks. I've loved Stites as a sleeper since he crossed my draft coverage while at Jefferson (Mo.) CC. Scouts loved him, and I'll be shocked if he's not a big leaguer. He's a smaller max-effort guy, but he has a mid-90s fastball, a slider that's plus at times and he competes. Asencio wasn't as beloved—no real carrying tool.

    David S (South Gate): Were there any Great Lakes (LAD) players who came close to the Top 20? Anyone of promise (Sweeney, Dickson, Schebler)?

Jim Callis: No one really close, honestly. James Baldwin III was the fastest runner in the league but struggled mightily at the plate.

    Jake (Chicago): Is Baez a Top 10 overall prospect?

Jim Callis: Love him, but that's a little bit high.

    Jonny (Burlingame): Is Tyler Goeddel a prospect? Seemed like the bat wasn't all there but 30 steals for a young player is impressive. Thank you!

Jim Callis: Very much so. He needs to add a lot of strength but he's so athletic and projectable.

    George (Houston): In the spirit of the Prospect Handbook's (is it too early for a shameless plug?) 31st player for every team, who would be the league's 21st top prospect?

Jim Callis: Never too early. Jake Hager.

    Christy (Springfield, IL): Jim, Are there any sleepers of note this year?

Jim Callis: A lot of relievers (who always will have trouble making a Top 20 in a 16-team league): Fort Wayne's Matt Stites, Beloit's Michael Tonkin and Corey Williams, Lansing's Tyler Ybarra, South Bend's Jake Barrett.

    Aidan (Seattle): been hearing a lot here in seattle about Dan paolini, can you tell me more?

Jim Callis: More scrapper than prospect.

    Chris (Chicago): Jim, what's your take on Jose Rosario and Starling Peralta? Are the Cubs at risk of losing them if they're left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft?

Jim Callis: Strong arms but not close to big league-ready, don't see protecting them.

    Evan (St Louis): Is 2014 the earliest Archie Bradley will see the majors?

Jim Callis: Yes.

    Mike (Chicago): Any other cubs close to making the list?

Jim Callis: Nope.

    Craig (Kansas City, MO): Hi Jim, Do you think KC will start Kyle Zimmer back in Kane County or move him up to Wilmington to start 2013 ? Thank you

Jim Callis: High Class A.

Jim Callis: Our Top 20 Prospects chats continue tomorrow with the South Atlantic League. If you have any questions about these lists that don't make it into our chats, try our Ask BA column (askba@baseballamerica.com, include full name & hometown) or hit me up on Twitter (@jimcallisBA).