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Top 100 Prospects Chat with Jim Callis

Moderator: Jim Callis will begin taking your questions about our Top 100 Prospects list at 2 p.m. ET

Moderator: Quick comment from Jim before we start: It's going to be hard to keep up with all the questions in the chat, so feel free to submit your question to Ask BA at askba@baseballamerica.com. Remember to include your full name and hometown. Thanks.

 Q:  Jock Thompson from Orange County, CA asks:
Hi Jim! You've been quoted as suggesting recently that Brandon Wood would spend one or two months in the minors before getting the call to LA-of-ANA and being installed as a regular. I had the priviledge of watching Wood play last season and was amazed by what he accomplished offensively, even in the CA league, but isn't this a bit of leap of faith for a 21-year old who has had all of 19 ABs above Single-A?

Jim Callis: It is a leap of faith, but that's how much I believe in Brandon Wood. I think he'll start the year by tearing up Double-A andor Triple-A and force his way into the Angels lineup.

 Q:  IBC Bren from Boston asks:
He's no Top 100 candidate by any means, but what do you think the odds are that Jason Neighborgall gets his mechanics (supposedly the source of his control woes) straightened out?

Jim Callis: Wow, wasn't expecting a Jason Neighborgall question today. To be honest, I put those odds at next to zero. He hasn't been close to the strike zone for nearly two years, and I don't think that's something you recover from.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Hi Jim, Assuming that the ETA for Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Justin Huber is 2007, what positions will they play? It would seem there is not enough room for these 3 plus Mike Sweeney and Mark Teahen.

Jim Callis: Teahen becomes an afterthought--I just don't think he's that good. Gordon would be at 3B, Butler at DH and Huber will have to hope Sweeney's gone so there's room for him at 1B.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
There are a number of hard throwing right-handers on the list. Chad Billingsley, Justin Verlander, and Matt Cain are clearly at the top of this crop. Homer Bailey, Adam Miller, Mark Rogers, and Philip Hughes are bunched together a little lower in the rankings. Which of these pitchers has the most upside, and which of these four can you see breaking out in 2006 in the grandest fashion?

Jim Callis: Good observation, Mike. To me, Homer Bailey probably has the most upside of that foursome. But really, we're talking about four guys with No. 1 starter stuff if it all comes together for them, so there's no much separation. I think Bailey has the best chance for a breakout in 2006 because he has the best combination of polish and health in that group.

 Q:  Fabian from My Apartment asks:
Did Jose Tabata, or any other Yankee prospect, receive any consideration for the list? Also, when factoring in a player's defensive position do you hold it against a player like Tabata that while he, according to your reports, has the skills to play CF he is playing in a corner due to the presence of Austin Jackson.

Jim Callis: We did look at guys like Tabata and Jackson and C.J. Henry, but they're so far away that it was too early to put them on the Top 100. We look at the position a player can play . . . we don't hold it against Tabata that he was in the same outfield as another talented CF.

 Q:  Jaypers from IL asks:
Very pleasantly surprised to see Upton make such an auspicious debut at # 2. In a best case scenario, if he lives up to every single expectation, how fast will he have ascended through the system by this year's end?

Jim Callis: Best case, he's pushing for the big leagues by the end of the year and gets there toward the beginning of 2007. I really think he's going to be the next Ken Griffey Jr. (the uninjured star version).

 Q:  Micah Kishard from NYC asks:
How close were Eric Hurley and Wilken Ramirez to maing this list?

Jim Callis: They weren't right on the cusp, but they were in the 110-135 range. Both of those guys are starting to emerge, and I'd bet they'll both make the Top 100 after playing well at higher levels this year.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Was there a Royal pitching prospect even talked about for the top 100? I am hoping this time next year there will be at least a few to talk about!

Jim Callis: Nope. Maybe they'll draft North Carolina lefty Andrew Miller No. 1 and we can put him on there for you next year.

 Q:  josh from sf asks:
how close was anderson hernandez to cracking top 100. he's only 23, hit very well at aa and aaa last year and then followed that up with an outstanding winterball season. thanks.

Jim Callis: Not close at all. Personally, I think his performance last year was a fluke and I see him as a utilityman, not a big league regular.

 Q:  Sean Stutz from Spencerport, NY asks:
Hey Jim, I was shocked by the exclusion of Ryan Harvey in the top 100 prospects list. I know that he strikesout out too much and needs to walk more, but the guy has as much power potential as anyone in the minor leagues today. You add that power potential with his plus fielding ability, and I dont see why he didnt make the top 100. Can you think of any reason why he wasn't included?

Jim Callis: I agree that Harvey has huge upside, but he also has a lot of possible downside, too. Every scout I talked to who saw him this year mentioned a different flaw in his swing, and there are some real questions about his ability to hit quality pitching. We'll learn more this year.

 Q:  Jaypers from IL asks:
Well, we have a kid with amazing potential, yet no minor league experience under his belt versus a potential R.O.Y. candidate who will make his debut in the show this year. How close was it between Upton and Delmon for the coveted # 1 spot? Did any of your staffers actually rank Upton ABOVE Delmon?

Jim Callis: If I believed Upton was definitely a shortstop, I might have been able to put him at No. 1. None of us had him over Young. I didn't ask anyone else, but I think it's the fact that Young has proven himself all the way up the ladder versus Upton's lack of pro experience, plus that they'll both probably be outfielders.

 Q:  IBC Bren from Boston asks:
just because he's caught in limbo between prospect and MLBer... Where would BJ Upton have ranked on this list if he was eligible? I presume top 2 or 3? Also, how close were Reid brignac and Elijah Dukes to making the top 100?

Jim Callis: I would have put B.J. Upton at No. 2 on my list, ahead of Justin. Brignac and Dukes both got some support, but Brignac is a ways away and Dukes has major makeup questions, and that ultimately kept them off.

 Q:  Joel Zumaya from Lakeland, FL asks:
How am I ahead of Maybin on the Tigers top 10 and behind him on the top 100?

Jim Callis: I know this isn't really Joel, but it's a question that should be addressed. The overall Top 100 Prospects list has always been billed as a complement to the Top 1030 lists by organization. There's no science to this, and different groups of people work on putting the two different types of lists together, and we've never felt it was crucial to maintain the Top 1030 order. You can assume in cases like Maybin and Zumaya, that we essentially view them as equal in stature if they're flip-flopping from one list to the next.

 Q:  Eric Neu from Toronto, ON asks:
What do you think of Jeff Niemann's chances of coming back off arthroscopic surgery, and even if successful how high a ceiling do you think that he has?

Jim Callis: Great ceiling, chance to be one of the best pitchers in the majors. But he hasn't been fully healthy the last two seasons and the track record of Rice first-rounders holding up in pro ball is lousy. So that scares me. A lot.

 Q:  Josh from Sulphur, LA asks:
Thanks for the chat. While looking through your rankings I came across something that surprised me. I noticed that Jason Hirsh was ranked ahead of the Rangers DVD trio. As hyped as those guys are, what makes Hirsh stand out as a better prospect?

Jim Callis: I think his overall stuff is a little better, he's a monster at 6-foot-8 and he pitched better in Double-A than any of the DVD trio did.

 Q:  NATE from motownsports.com asks:
Did Joel Zumaya receive a lower ranking because there is some dispute as to whether he should be a closer or starter? Does the Zumaya-starter prospect receive a higher ranking than the Zumaya-closer prospect?

Jim Callis: That factors into it. In my book, a starter is more valuable than a closer. That said, Zumaya's chances of starting look better than they did in the past. His delivery wasn't nearly as violent as I had heard it might be when I saw him at the Futures Game.

 Q:  GG from Stone asks:
Why isn't Mike Jacobs on the list?

Jim Callis: I'm just not a fan of 25-year-old first basemen. I think there's a lot better chance that he's the next Kevin Maas rather than anything special.

 Q:  Scott from Tamaqua, PA asks:
Jim, thanks for taking my question! Do you think Delmon Young starts the year in the Tampa Bay outfield? How do you see the outfield shaking out with so many good players?

Jim Callis: I think he has a chance with his talent, but it's going to be an easy decision to give him a couple of months in Triple-A unless the Devil Rays trade some outfielders. I think they'll open the year with Crawford in left, Baldelli in center, and Gomes and Huff sharing right and DH. That leaves Gathright on the bench and Young in Durham.

 Q:  Dave from Third Avenue, Manhattan asks:
Jim, what is your take on the Moneyball draft, four years out. Swisher and Blanton seem to be doing just fine. Who else bears watching? Jeremy Brown?

Jim Callis: Geez, the Ed Rogers questions must be next. Given the number of picks the Athletics had in 2002, their Moneyball draft looks pretty average to me. They had seven first-round picks, and they got two solid big leaguers (Swisher, Blanton--both of whom were consensus first-round picks and not Moneyball choices out of the blue, by the way), a fringe regular (Teahen) and four guys who won't do much (McCurdy, Fritz, Brown, Obenchain). After that, there's not much beyond Shane Komine in the ninth round. Don't tell Michael Lewis, but it doesn't look like anyone revolutionized the draft in 2002.

 Q:  Thom Gentz from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
How much does do JD and BJ contribute to the hype of Stephen and Justin? I know the ratings are based on how they wow the scouts, but are they slightly inflated? It seems that true or not, they always get ascribed the older brothers atributes--stephen had questions about minor injuries and "how much he wanted it" coming out of college, and Justin has questions if he can play short or not even though he hasn't played a ml inning. If their brothers weren't known by their initials would they have both been the top positional players in their predaft class, and would they both be in the top 10?

Jim Callis: The family ties do add to the hype, but the younger Drew and Upton are ranked where they are based on merit. Even if it wasn't for J.D., people would have questioned Stephen's desire after his college career. With Justin, the guy has been under the scouting microscope for a while, and that's why there are questions about his ability to stay at shortstop. It has nothing to do with B.J.

 Q:  Anthony Z. from Buffalo, NY asks:
How can Pelfrey beat out other prospects like Hughes or Reyes when he hasn't pitched a single professional inning?

Jim Callis: Because it's not about pro experience, it's about long-term major league impact. Alex Rodriguez signed late in his draft year, and we ranked him No. 6 before he played a pro inning. In retrospect, that was five spots too low.

 Q:  Gerald from St. Louis asks:
Were any other Cardinal prospects even close to making the list?

Jim Callis: Colby Rasmus just missed, and Tyler Greene got a little support when we stretched our internal lists down to 150 deep.

 Q:  Mark Thomson from Owensboro, KY asks:
If Francoeur had qualified for this list, where would he be? How does he compare to Hermida and Young as an impact OF?

Jim Callis: He'd be in the Top 10, but I'd put him behind both Young and Hermida. Not that I don't like Francoeur, but I think the other two will be better players.

 Q:  Russell Lynn from Atchison, KS asks:
In BA's 2006 Top 100 Prospect List, Justin Upton is ranked # 2 and Andrew McCutchen is ranked # 50. Looking at both player's senior High School stats, McCutchen clearly blew Upton away in my opinion. I know hype plays a part in the rankings, and Justin is BJ's little brother, and has been talked about since age 12. However, going by Justin's and McCutchen's senior high school stats, how can Justin be rated so high, and McCutchen so far down the list?

Jim Callis: It would be a grave mistake to rate players based on their high school stats. I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from Rookie ball stats, and Rookie ball is light years ahead of high school ball. Any idea how either player's home ballpark might have contributed to their stats? What kind of protection they had in the lineup? How to compare their quality of opposition?

 Q:  Race Bannon from Montevideo asks:
Thanks for chatting, Jim! Hope this doesn't sound too accusatory: There are just 6 hurlers in the top 30 this year--down from 10 last year, 12 the year before, then 12, 12, 13, and 14(!) going back to '01. Is this trend just one *massive* coincidence, or is BA tacitly acknowledging (finally) the severe injury attrition rate for pitching prospects?

Jim Callis: I think we've always recognized the attrition rate. Just because we don't say something exaggerated and wrong like "There's no such thing as a pitching prospect" doesn't mean otherwise. I'd suggest that we were pretty consistent over the past six years. It's just down this year, and I noted that when I was putting together my personal list. After the top few guys, almost everyone lacks polish or has some kind of injury history, and that scares you off of them a little bit.

 Q:  David from Miami asks:
Hi, Jim! Out of the pitchers the Marlins gained in the offseason (Petit, Sanchez, Nolasco, Pinto, Gaby Hernandez) which do you think has the most upside? And are you worried about Petit's fastball? His numbers have been dominating, but people are quick to mention he doesn't throw that hard...thanks!!!

Jim Callis: Anibal Sanchez has the most upside to me in that group. Fastball and changeup are plus to well above-average at times, and he has a solid breaking ball. With Petit, it's tough to reconcile the fact that his stuff is ordinary and his numbers have been extraordinary. He didn't have much success against lefties last year, and he gives up a ton of fly balls. There are pitchers who succeed with deception in the majors, but it's easier to thrive with good stuff.

 Q:  Fabian from My Apartment asks:
Follow up to the Tabata response: Is Elvis Andrus then considered to be much more advanced than Tabata at this point or have scouts just been more vocal in supporting him? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Fair enough question. He's a little more advanced, scouts have talked him up a little more and he plays a more premium position. But there's not a ton of difference between those two . . . Which leads me to a point I wanted to make. As you move further down the list, the difference in the slots gets smaller. Obviously, we like Prospect No. 68 better than Prospect No. 84. But the difference between those two players is probably pretty small, and you can probably construct a very good counterargument as to why No. 84 is better than No. 68.

 Q:  joe from Texas asks:
DId the braves' van Pope draw consideration? Thanks

Jim Callis: Too early for Van Pope, but he's on our radar.

Moderator: We'll go lightning round here to try to plow through the nearly 200 questions piling up.

 Q:  Mike from Corpus Christi, Texas asks:
I noticed that you had Mark Pawelek and Chris Volstad in your top 100. Why not Travis Wood?

Jim Callis: Those guys offer a little bit more between stuff, polish and mechanics than Wood, which was reflected in their draft status. Wood does have a very nice arm and could jump on next year.

 Q:  Doug from Woodbury, NY asks:
If Niemann and Pelfrey are at their best at midseason, where do they now rank among the elite righthanders?

Jim Callis: They'd be right at the top of the list of minor league pitching prospects if that happened.

 Q:  JackAttacks from NY asks:
What do you think the odds are that Jeremy Hermida will be ROY? Where do you see Scott Olsen and Carlos Quentin in 06-07?

Jim Callis: Hermida looks like the preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year. Olsen and Quentin will break into their teams' rotationlineup by the end of 2006 and be established as regulars going into 2007.

 Q:  David Collins from Toronto asks:
Why no love for Rich Hill? He had a phenominal season...

Jim Callis: Let's see him do it one more time. His decent command came out of nowhere, and he got rocked in the majors. He just missed the cut.

 Q:  Sean from Brea asks:
How close were Ryan Garko and Paul Maholm to making the top 100? Are both these players already close to their peak?

Jim Callis: They were both in the 101-125 range, or would have been had we carried it on that far. Both players are close to being as good as they're going to be. If we thought there was room for a lot more growth, based on what they've done already they'd be Top 100 guys.

 Q:  Elgin Paulina from Wheeling, IL asks:
Was our local guy David Haehnel, Orioles lefty, close to your top 100? What are his chances of pitching in Baltimore in 2007 or 2008?

Jim Callis: Didn't realize Haehnel was from the home of Bob Chinn's Crab House, a Callis family favorite. He's not really a Top 100 guy, more of a middle reliever or setup guy, but I could see him in Baltimore in 2007.

 Q:  Bob N from London, UK asks:
Although he has not demonstrated the progression of a breakout minor league stud, I was wondering how close James Loney came to being listed in the Top100. At best, I see him as a younger version on Conor Jackson with less power, but a sweeter glove. I feel like with the obscene level of talent in the LA system, Loney's ranking in lists such as the Top100 takes a hit. I would appreciate any feedback you could provide.

Jim Callis: Loney needs to get his bat going again to jump back into the Top 100. I don't have as much faith in his bat to compare him to Conor Jackson but you're right, he does get lost a little in the deep Dodgers system.

 Q:  Goose from Chicago asks:
No Fernando Nieve? How does he project at the next level? SP or RP?

Jim Callis: Scouts are mixed on whether he'll be a starter or reliever, and that usually means he'll wind up a reliever. Nieve is in the group of guys who'd be in the 101-125 range.

 Q:  Chris from Cambridge, MA asks:
Is Jon Lester being a tad over-hyped at this point? He had a tremendous season last year, but it's too early to know if it was a breakout season or a career season. He is clearly a nice prospect, but is there something beyond the lefty's big frame and last year's numbers that make him so projectable?

Jim Callis: Let's see . . . 21-year-old lefty, 6-4, 210, athletic, fastball keeps climbing and now sits at 92-93, very good slider, showing some mastery of the changeup, manhandled Double-A hitters last year. I'll take that, and so would 30 big league clubs. Not too many guys in the minors with that package.

 Q:  KB from NH asks:
Can you explain how Josh Barfield dropped out of your top 100? He seems far better than Dustin Perdroia at that position. Does the ball park and media market affect the ratings?

Jim Callis: Yeah, it's all ballpark and media market. I'll hope you were joking about that and be serious . . . Pedroia handles the bat a lot better than Barfield and is a better defender. His approach is a lot better. Barfield has more power, but not a ton more and not enough to make up for everything else.

 Q:  Golden Snowman from Hollirock, MA asks:
Hi Jim, Thanks for the chat,Would Kind Felix have been numero uno had he qualified? What about Brandon McCarthy? Thanks for the tips!

Jim Callis: Would have been No. 1 on my list. McCarthy would have been somewhere in the middle third of the Top 100.

 Q:  Jock Thompson from Orange County CA asks:
How big an issue is Howie Kendricks' defense? You have him ranked highly, maybe justifiably due to his offense alone. But given the way the Angels play and the fact that they've been spoiled by Adam Kennedy for so many seasons, how much of a problem will this for Kendrick in breaking into that lineup?

Jim Callis: Not a huge issue. Most of his value is in his bat, and he'll hit enough to make up for what he doesn't offer with the glove.

 Q:  Simon from Montreal, Canada asks:
Wow, so many D-Backs in the top 35. Are we looking at a future dynasty?

Jim Callis: Very well could be. I think they may have set a record with six guys that high on our list.

 Q:  Red from Chicago asks:
Jim, you know I love the Nolan Reimold inclusion to the list. Do scouts project him as a CF or RF, if he makes it to the MLB? Is anyone worried that the better pitchers in AA and AAA will exploit the holes in his swing, especially against breaking balls?

Jim Callis: He's more of a right fielder at the major league level. I don't think there are huge worries about Reimold being exploited, though he obviously has yet to prove himself at those levels.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
I was surprised to see Colby Rasmus not in the top 100. How close did he come? He was # 2 prospect for Cards, # 2 prospect in Appy league - and looks to be a 5 tool talent a la Jay Bruce. What was your take on Rasmus?

Jim Callis: Very close . . . one of the last couple of players lopped off the list. To me, Bruce has more power than Rasmus and that's why I had Bruce ahead of him.

 Q:  Bill from Indiana, PA asks:
Thanks for the chat, Jim. Can you explain why Paul Maholm doesn't make the list but Tom Gorzelanny does?

Jim Callis: Maholm also was very close, but comparing those two, we liked Gorzelanny's stuff and minor league track record a little more.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
What player in the top 100 has the best chance to shoot up the list next year? Outside the top 100?

Jim Callis: To steal an answer from my ESPN.com chat, I think Carlos Gonzales (No. 32) could jump right up to the very top of the list after 2006. From off the list, watch Devil Rays righthander Wade Davis.

 Q:  Dustin from Chicago asks:
If you had to compare Howie Kendrick to a current or former player at the plate, who would it be?

Jim Callis: I'm not great on comps, but how about Rod Carew? Both came up as second basemen who could rake but weren't great defensively. Kendrick has more pop and less speed than a young Carew did.

 Q:  Dennis from Placentia, Ca asks:
Based on your rankings, you project a higher ceiling for Brad Snyder than Matt Kemp?

Jim Callis: Kemp has a higher ceiling, but Snyder is a safer bet. Combining the two factors, we put Snyder ahead of Kemp on the list.

 Q:  Todd from Boston asks:
With all the hype around Papelbon, I found it really interesting to see Lester in front of him. Is Lester really that much better than Papelbon in terms of his stuff, or is he just a lefty?

Jim Callis: I did our Red Sox list, too, and wrestled with that one. Lester is lefthanded, has a deeper repertoire and is three years younger (and has succeeded in Double-A).

 Q:  SteveO from NYC asks:
Which Top 5 you like better, '05's or '06?

Jim Callis: I'd take 2005 (Joe Mauer, Felix Hernandez, Delmon Young, Ian Stewart, Joel Guzman) over this year's bunch because of the strength of the top three.

 Q:  Prince from Milwaukee asks:
Do you think I will succeed in the Mil or do you think my lack of defensive skills and weight will be the issues.

Jim Callis: You'll be hitting 35-40 homers a year once you get going, and no one will care about your glove or weight.

 Q:  Jerry from NY asks:
If Daisuke Matsuzaka had been posted and signed with a US club, where would he be in the top 100?

Jim Callis: Top 25, probably. More than a few spots ahead of Kenji Johjima.

 Q:  Brian from New Joizy asks:
Im probably late but I can't stand to see a top 100 prospect list without a Lastings Milledge question... Is there ANY possibility that Lastings or Mike Pelfrey make the mets club right out of spring training?

Jim Callis: I don't see it.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
Jim, In checking through your top 10 busts, I'm sure it didn't escape you that a high number of them have been pitchers. In fact, 2005 (assuming Felix Hernandez and Scott Kazmir stay healthy) might be the first time in a decade you didn't have a pitcher in your top 10 who turned out to be a major disappointmentinjury casualty. Anyway, you've got four arms in your top 10 this year and I'm wondering which was you think is the best bet disappoint. Yeah, I know everyone loves them now, but surely at least of these guys makes you a little nervous.

Jim Callis: Very good point, Mike. That's just the risk inherent with pitchers. Looking at the four arms in the top 10, you could get scared about the fact that Liriano missed most of two years with elbow problems, or that Cain had a stress fracture in his elbow a couple of years ago. Verlander never dominated mid-level college competition as much as he should. But all of those guys and Billingsley erased any concerns that would have existed with the way they looked last year.

 Q:  Matt in Oakland from Oakland asks:
UPTON numnber 2 is joke. He will never go to an All-star game and you will regret it forever.

Jim Callis: Thanks for the laugh, Matt. If you can find someone to hold our money, name your price and you have a bet. Justin Upton will play in some All-Star Games.

 Q:  Adam from Hauppauge, NY asks:
How close was Jonathan Sanchez to the top 100. He had a breakout season leading the SAL in Ks

Jim Callis: Not particularly close, but he's an excellent choice as a sleeper prospect for 2006. He'd be on my all-sleeper team.

Moderator: Thanks for all the questions today. If yours didn't get answered, feel free to send it to Ask BA at askba@baseballamerica.com. Please include your full name and hometown. Thanks.

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