Boston Red Sox: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

Boston Red Sox: Chat

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. It's an exciting day in Baseball America land, as we're wrapping up the Prospect Handbook today. Happy holidays to everyone and happy end-of-the-Handbook to me. Now let's get to your questions.

    So, Jim, just how much agonizing did you do between Kelly and Westmoreland when deciding who to rank #1? What ultimately put Westmoreland over the top?

Jim Callis: "Agonizing" might be a little strong, but I did put a lot of thought into it. It was tough because one guy was a hitter and one guy was a pitcher, so I couldn't compare them directly. The easy thing would have been to say that Kelly has proven himself in high Class A and Westmoreland hasn't succeeded beyond short-season ball, but I went with the guy who I thought would be the best player in the long run. Either is a worthy choice. Kelly is probably a safer bet to be good, but I think Westmoreland has a better chance to be great. I'm working on my personal Top 50 Prospects list for the Handbook, and they'll both be in the top half.

    Tom (Boston, MA): I find it interesting how Kelly led four categories in your Best Tools section, yet didn't rank #1. Can you explain?

Jim Callis: That gets back to the pitcher vs. hitter lack of a direct comparison. Kelly may be the first guy ever to claim Best Fastball, Best Curveball, Best Changeup and Best Control on the same tools list. (Stephen Strasburg didn't get Best Changeup on our Nationals list.) But Westmoreland got support for Best Hitter, Best Power, Best Discipline, Fastest Runner and Best Athlete, so he could have taken five categories.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Lars Anderson regress any in your eyes, or did he merely have an off-year?

Jim Callis: Anderson's slump lasted all season long, so his prospect status has to take a hit. The raw tools and ability are still there, but he lost some confidence and tinkered with his approach. I think he can bounce back, but he has lost at least a little luster. I'm still driving the bandwagon, though.

    Nick (Boston): Jim where did Stolmy Pimental rank on this list, he must have been one of the last cuts right? What do people think about him in 2010 and his future potential? Thanks

Jim Callis: I won't give away any specific rankings—that's what buying the Prospect Handbook is for. And to do that, go here. Pimentel just missed making the Top 10. He has chance for two plus pitches and a solid breaking ball, which could make him a good No. 3 starter. He needs another year in the minors before he's ready.

    Frank (MA): How far did Bowden fall this time around?

Jim Callis: He's in the 11-15 range. He has proven more at higher levels than most people on the list, but he doesn't have a plus pitch so he has to be pinpoint with his control to succeed. I think he's more of a middle reliever than a starter, especially on a good team.

    Dara (Denver, CO): No Luis Exposito?

Jim Callis: He made the Top 30, but I'm not the biggest fan. He has some power potential, but scouts worry that his long swing will prevent him from realizing it. He has good defensive tools, but he's huge and not a tremendous catcher. He has more upside than the other Red Sox catching prospects, but I'm not so sure that Tim Federowicz and Mark Wagner won't be better big league catchers.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Looking at your Best Tools, are you saying Casey Kelly has more velocity on his FB than Daniel Bard? Where did Bard rank overall?

Jim Callis: Bard didn't qualify for the list. We added a new rule this year that limited pitchers to no more than 30 big league relief appearances. Bard came in under the 50-inning maximum but spent five months in the majors. Bard would have ranked No. 3 on this list if he qualified, and he would have had the Best Fastball.

    Steve (NYC): Jim what can we expect from Lin in 2010, do you see him climbing the prospect charts ?

Jim Callis: Lin is a tough prospect to evaluate. He's a tremendous center fielder with a tremendous arm, and he can run and steal bases. He has a quick bat, but he just doesn't drive balls in games, and I don't know if he's going to hit enough to be a regular if he doesn't adjust his approach.

    Steve (Norwood): Jim, does David Mailman sneak his way into the Top 30? He put up great numbers in A and then struggled a bit in A advanced, but is still real young.

Jim Callis: He did not. They like him and he has some offensive potential, but the system was too deep for him to make the Top 30 at this point.

    Allan (Boston): The Red Sox system seems thin on current ML ready prospects, but quite strong and deep on high upside future prospects (2012 and beyond) Do you agree? And where do you rate their system on a long-term projection basis? Who's on your radar as potential stars.

Jim Callis: I think that's very fair to say. We just got done putting the preliminary farm-system rankings together for the Handbook, and the Red Sox came in sixth, which tells you what we think of their high-ceiling players. A lot of those guys have a ways to go to reach those ceilings, but some of the best upside in the system belongs to Westmoreland, Kelly, OF Reymond Fuentes, SS/2B Derrik Gibson, LHP Drake Britton, RHP Madison Younginer, RHP Roman Mendez, SS Jose Vinicio and OF Brandon Jacobs.

    Brendan (Colorado): Where does Brandon Jacobs sit in the top 30 and what does his ceiling look like? Also, any thoughts on Felix Doubront that you could share with us? Where does he sit?

Jim Callis: Jacobs snuck on toward the end. Huge, huge upside with the bat—the Red Sox think he has the potential to be Kevin Mitchell, and I stress the word "potential" there—but a well below-average defender in left field, so he'll really have to hit. Doubront isn't as sexy as a lot of their prospects, but he's a lefty with three pitches who has handled Double-A hitters. He's in the middle of the list.

    Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, thanks as always for the chat! If Aroldis Chapman were signed by Boston, where would he rank on the Sox Top 10? Will a profile for Chapman be included in this years Prospect Handbook, even if he has not signed?

Jim Callis: We will have reports on Chapman and Noel Arguelles (who's not officially signed with the Royals yet) in the back of the Handbook. I do think the Chapman hysteria has been somewhat overblown, and I'd be tempted to rank him behind Westmoreland and Kelly. The rest of the BA braintrust might twist my arm and compel me to rank Chapman No. 1.

    JAYPERS (IL): What are scouts saying about David Renfroe, and did he come close to your list?

Jim Callis: He's one of the best athletes in the system, another of their high-upside guys. He could be an all-star third baseman if he reaches his ceiling. He has a long ways to go, but he's more advanced than Will Middlebrooks was at the same stage of his career.

    Scott (Chicago, IL): Where does Younginer fit into the top 30? How does he project - starter (back or front end of rotation starter), or closer or middle relief?

Jim Callis: He's in the middle of the Top 30. On sheer upside, he'd be in the top five. Scouts inside and outside of the organization rave about his arm and say talk that his arm action is so raw that he'll have to be a reliever is overblown. If he maintains the ridiculous fastball/curve combo he has now, finds a consistent release point and develops a change, he'll be a frontline starter.

    emil faber (faber college): Jim — I enjoyed your in-depth (and glowing) write-up of Westmoreland. As a hitter, who would you say he is most comparable to among the recent and current top prospects such as Bruce, McCutchen, Maybin, Rasmus, Snider, and Heyward? Thanks

Jim Callis: Interesting question. His game probably most resembles Maybin's, but with much better feel for hitting and control of the strike zone.

    Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, how were the reports on Drake Britton after coming back from TJ last year? Is he a dark horse to really make a move up the list next season?

Jim Callis: He's moving up it now—he's in the middle of the Top 30. Reports were that he was touching 97 mph in instructional league, and not many lefthanders can do that. He's still shaking off some rust after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Red Sox are excited about his progress.

    Steven (St. Louis): With Junichi Tazawa's quickest route to the bigs being as a reliever, at what point could he work his way into the Red Sox rotation?

Jim Callis: I like Tazawa, but I'm not sure he's ever going to be a regular member of the Boston rotation. Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz and Matsuzaka are already in the majors now, and I think Kelly is going to move very quickly now that he's a full-time pitcher. I bet Tazawa juggles some roles like Justin Masterson did and eventually settles into the bullpen.

    Jose (Miami, FL): Manuel Rivera, Roman Mendez, and Randy Consuegra all had strong years for the GCL team. What is the scouting report on these 3 international signees, and which of them has the highest ceiling?

Jim Callis: In terms of stuff, I'd rank them in this order: Mendez, Consuegra, Rivera. Mendez made the Top 30. He has a low-90s fastball that peaks at 97, and a low-80s slider. Pretty interesting guy.

    JAYPERS (IL): When it comes time to do the Top 100 list, how many of these ten Sox will get your vote?

Jim Callis: Westmoreland, Kelly and Josh Reddick for sure. I'm sure I'll remain stubborn about Lars Anderson, but don't know if he'll get enough support from the rest of the BA staff to make it. Ryan Kalish, Tazawa and Fuentes may also get my vote.

    Hank (Newark): What will Boston do with its plethora of positional mid-tier prospects like Middlebrooks, Dent, Dening, Navarro, Place, Lin, A.Diaz, Almanzar, and Hissey. They seem pretty loaded, but are most of these guys just oranizational fill-in fodder? Who can emerge to see legit PT in Boston one day?

Jim Callis: You keep running those guys out there, and hope that some separate themselves and/or become valuable as trade fodder. (By the way, Argenis Diaz went to the Pirates for Adam LaRoche last summer.) Of the guys you mentioned, I like Navarro and Middlebrooks the best.

    Bill (Boston): Is Iglesias' glove as good as advertised? Thoughts on his bat?

Jim Callis: Everyone I have talked to about Iglesias raves about his glove. He has a chance to be a special defender at shortstop. We'll see on the bat, which is why I ranked him as low as No. 9 on the Top 10. He has some pop but is so aggressive that he'll probably fit toward the bottom of the order in Boston.

    Jed (Atlanta): Is Oscar Tejada still a legit prospect and did he make the top 30?

Jim Callis: Didn't make the Top 30 but almost did—I kept moving him in and out. He still has very interesting tools and is quite young, but he needs to get his bat going and is more of a third baseman than a shortstop.

    Steve V (Plainfield IL): Two young 3rd baseman who have struggled, Almanzar and Middlebrooks, do you see them breaking out in 2010 or ever making an impact in Boston? Are they making progress or regressing?

Jim Callis: Middlebrooks is making more progress than Almanzar. I brought Middlebrooks up as a possible breakout candidate, but the Red Sox think he's improving at more of a steady pace than a guy who's going to suddenly burst out. Almanzar went backward next year and is probably going to have to be a first baseman in the long run. I like Middlebrooks' chances better, but he also doesn't seem to get quite locked in at the plate. I'd take Renfroe over either of them.

    Kirby (Greenville): So where does Anthony Rizzo fit in Boston's future plans? You list Anderson as the future 1B'man, and Reddick as the future DH. Is he a utility guy, backup, or trade bait?

Jim Callis: Take those lineups with a grain of salt, because so much changes over four years. If Anderson and Rizzo continue doing in 2010 what they did in 2009, Rizzo will leapfrog him as a prospect and be Boston's first baseman of the future. With a good big league club and lot of minor league depth, the Red Sox can afford to sit back and watch how things play out with their prospects.

    Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, from the group of Buchholz, Bard, Ellsbury, Kelly and Westmoreland, who would you be least inclined to part with in a trade? Who would you be most inclined to include in a deal (considering depth in the system, etc)?

Jim Callis: Let me start by saying that I don't think anyone ever should be "untouchable" in a trade, because it's always possible that someone could offer more than that player is worth. Crazy as this sounds, I'd be most inclined to part with Ellsbury because I think he presents the biggest difference between trade value and actual value and might be the most easily replaced. I'd be least inclined to trade Buchholz, who's on the verge of becoming a frontline starter in the majors. Westmoreland may have more upside than any of them, but he's also the farthest away.

    MJ (Valpo): What has happened to Yamaico Navarro? I know he got hurt, but is he still part of Boston's future IF plans at the big-league level?

Jim Callis: They're still high on him and there's no reason he can't come back from last year's hamate injury. With second base (Pedroia) and shortstop (Scutaro and Iglesias) set for the near future, third base presents Navarro's best opportunity for a big league job. He could be in the 2011 mix there, and he'd make a fine offensive-minded utilityman too.

    Raymond (New York): Hi Jim, Happy holidays. Will having the Braves #1 pick affect their 2010 draft strategy in terms of any budget they may have ? Will the Red Sox still draft tough signs in lower rounds and make way above slot offers at the 24th hour and ignore the overall cost ? thanks

Jim Callis: I don't think the Red Sox's plans will change at all. I think they'll draft the best players available and spend to sign them.

    Ebeneezer (London): Gibson appears to have good tools, but the lack of arm strength probably moves him off short and the lack of power means he will likely play either 2nd or center field. Where do you see him playing in 2010 and beyond?

Jim Callis: I agree, he's not a shortstop. He's a fantastic athlete who should be productive at the plate and on the bases. I think they'll keep him at shortstop for at least part of 2010, and I don't know where he fits in the long term with Pedroia at second base and all the young talent in center field. But I bet Gibson finds a way to squeeze into Boston's lineup of the future.

    Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, do Stephen Fife and Alex Wilson project as future bullpen arms or just organizational guys?

Jim Callis: I think Fife has a future as a starter, though as mentioned, Boston's rotation will be tough to crack. Wilson and Kyle Weiland could be valuable bullpen pieces.

Jim Callis: