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Draft Chat -- Jim Callis

Moderator: Executive editor Jim Callis fields questions about the draft's first day at 3 p.m. ET.

Moderator: Due to overwhelming server demand during the draft, we've moved Executive Editor Jim Callis' chat to Thursday at 1:30 pm ET.

 Q:  Vick from Hinsdale, IL asks:
Jim, how would you assess the Cubs draft? Will Harvey be a quick sign? Any chance Fuld and Powell will be super-slotted given the Cubs lack of a 2nd round pick? Thanks.

Jim Callis: They didn't expect Harvey to be there at No. 6 as of a couple of weeks ago, and went for his power over Michael Aubrey's pure hitting ability. I don't anticipate he'll be a long holdout. As an aside, he's from the same HS (Dunedin High) as Cubs GM Jim Hendry. I'm not sure they'll be able to sign Stanford OF Sam Fuld or South Carolina C Landon Powell. I think Powell is more of an insurance policy in case they fail to sign third-round C Jake Fox (Michigan) or fourth-round C Tony Richie (Florida State). I don't think they'll try to sign all three. Fifth-round HS LHP Darin Downs could be a steal. He really knows how to pitch.

 Q:  Rich from Estero, FL asks:
Do the Rays have a legitimate shot at signing Andrew Miller or did they burn a 3rd rounder?

Jim Callis: I find it hard to believe they'll find the money for him. The Devil Rays have had to spread the bonuses for their last three first-rounders over five years, and the only way they can do that with No. 1 pick Delmon Young is to give him a big league contract. Assuming he costs approximately $4 million, I don't know where Tampa Bay find the $2 million or more it will take to sign Miller.

 Q:  Daniel Park from Fairfax, Va asks:
What do you think of the Athletics selecting Eddie Kim (graduate of Fairfax High School in '99)in the fourth round? Do you think that was way to high to select a college senior? How quickly do you think he has a chance to move up in their organization and what do you think of him as a professional ball player?

Jim Callis: I grew up outside of Fairfax in Oakton, which has a top power hitter for the 2004 draft. But I digress . . . I don't think that was way too high. If a guy can play it doesn't matter what his demographic is. Kim fits the A's style: he has an advanced approach at the plate, has power and plate discipline, and he won't cost a lot to sign. He has a good track record in college, and the A's are confident in their ability to find guys like that who will translate well to pro ball.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego asks:
Why did Sweeney drop? Was it from the poor outing the showcase games?

Jim Callis: OF Ryan Sweeney became the third possible Iowa HS first-round pick in three years to slide because he didn't do great at the Perfect Game predraft showcase. Brad Nelson (Brewers) and Jeff Clement (Southern California) have torn it up since, so I'm not sure why teams passed on Sweeney. When I did my own draft for my BA column (it's online with a link on the main index), picking 31st each round, he was my first-rounder. The White Sox got him in the middle of the second round.

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
Jim, what are your thoughts on the Brewers' draft?

Jim Callis: Their first three picks look pretty solid. Rickie Weeks, the all-time NCAA Division I hitting leader, may have the quickest hands at the plate since Gary Sheffield. Anthony Gwynn hits line drives and plays a fine center field. Lou Palmisano is less known than those too, but he's a solid all-around catcher. And if history is any indication, a couple of scouting director Jack Zduriencik's later picks should pan out as well.

 Q:  Ryan from Cincy, Ohio asks:
Jim, Some of the A's early selections were surprises, specifically Snyder and Quintanilla. Have the Athletics outsmarted everyone again, or did Eric Kubota reach on a few of his selections? Also, any signing updates? Thanks. You guys do great work!

Jim Callis: I think it has yet to be demonstrated that the A's outsmarted anyone in the 2002 draft, despite what "Moneyball" may say. We'll see. Stetson 3B Brian Snyder could be the 2003 version of Kevin Youkilis, a player the A's covet, and Boston might have taken him at No. 32 if Oakland hadn't grabbed him at No. 26. He was more of a third- to fifth-round player for teams other than those two and Toronto. Texas SS Omar Quintanilla is underrated. He'll be a pro 2B and he's not flashy, but his hand-eye coordination enables him to make plays in the field and produce line drives. He was rumored to be a signability consideraton in the first round for the White Sox, more of a fourth-rounder on most teams' boards. But again, his profile also may have appealed to the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Mitch Maier has signed with the Royals as the 30th overall pick for $900,000. I'd expect we'll learn that Chris Lubanski (No. 5, Royals) and Nick Markakis (No. 7, Orioles) will sign quickly.

 Q:  BOB from MANHATTAN asks:
your thoughts on the mets draft. did they pass on allison because he was a difficult sign or did they like milledge that much.

Jim Callis: I think both. Florida HS OF Lastings Milledge may have had the best package of tools in the draft. Massachusetts' Jeff Allison might have been the best HS RHP since Josh Beckett, but his price tag was more in doubt and there are some makeup concerns with him as well.

 Q:  M. Sharp from Washington, DC asks:
Did the Indians overreach in drafting Brad Snyder at pick # 18 in Round One? Also, what do you think of their Catching prospects taken in Rounds 2 & 3? Finally, what would you grade the Indians draft overall? Thanks.

Jim Callis: I don't think they overreached on Snyder at No. 18. They wanted a righthanded hitter there, and there's no way he would have made it to them in time for their next pick at No. 31. I like the Indians' draft, but of course you have to say that having three first-rounders helped. Getting Tulane 1B Michael Aubrey at No. 11 may be a coup because he's the surest thing among the draft's hitters. Texas HS RHP Adam Miller (No. 31) adds to Cleveland's collection of strong arms. Tennessee C Javi Herrera is an advanced defender, while Stanford C Ryan Garko is more of a hitter. They're an interesting combination of catchers.

 Q:  Cliff Burton from San Francisco asks:
Landon Powell fell all the way to the 25th round. Is this because he is likely to return to South Carolina or have teams down-graded him that much since the beginning of the season?

Jim Callis: It's because teams believed he wanted second-round money and rated him as a fifth-round talent. They didn't think he'd budge, so he plummeted. Powell has some upside but he also has a bad body that really worries scouts and didn't hit for much power this year.

 Q:  Brandon from Detroit asks:
How do you think the tigers did the last couple days?

Jim Callis: First-rounder Kyle Sleeth, a Wake Forest RHP, has the highest ceiling among college pitchers in the draft. Few pitchers can match the raw arm strength of Virginia HS RHP Jay Sborz (second round), though don't lose sight of the word "raw." Tulane's Tony Giarratano (third) was one of the best true SS in the draft. In the later rounds, Tennessee HS RHP Adam Trent (eighth) and William & Mary OF Michael Brown (13th) jump out.

 Q:  Bobby from NY asks:
How long do you think it will take the Mets to sign Lastings Milledge and how much do you think his bonus will be around? Any chance at all he would no sign?

Jim Callis: Not sure on the timetable, but he's only committed to a junior college. I wouldn't think he'd hold out for long and I'd be stunned if he didn't sign. My guess is his bonus will be between $1.8 million and $2 million.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego asks:
Thanks for doing this chat! - Hey, I heard on AM 1090 here in San Diego yesterday evening, I missed a portion of the intervew though - what do you think of San Diego's overall draft?

Jim Callis: No. 4 overall pick Tim Stauffer (Richmond RHP) could be the first player from this draft to reach the majors. I'm not as enthralled by North Carolina LHP Daniel Moore (second round) and N.C. State C Colt Morton (third). They both have a lot of talent, but they haven't exactly dominated in the ACC or in the Cape Cod League, other than brief spurts. Two late-round picks I like a lot are South Alabama RHP Clark Girardeau (seventh) and Nebraska OF Jeff Liese (13th).

 Q:  Alan from St. Petersburg asks:
They Rays have generally done a nice job finding big-league talent from the fifth round on (Huff, Hall, Kennedy). You see any good sleeper candidates from this year's draft?

Jim Callis: I'll give you a bunch. Missouri HS LHP Jon Barratt (fifth round) intrigues me more than any 2003 draftee, because he stands no taller than 5-foot-10 but has a first-round arm. That could be a great pick. Mississippi State's Matthew Maniscalco (eight) was one of the best shortstops available, especially if he continues to hit. Young Harris (Ga.) JC RHP Billy Buckner (ninth) would have gone about five rounds higher if not for a late-season fade. They dropped because of signability, but high school RHPs Jared Hughes (16th), Casey Hudspeth (21st) and Wade LeBlanc (36th) all have a lot of upside.

 Q:  Dingbat Charlie from Washington, DC asks:
So the Orioles draft Markakis a round too early and at the wrong position, then waste their remaining early picks on relief pitchers. Outside of the Loewen signing, can you give me some good news?

Jim Callis: Marakakis would have gone in the first 20 picks, and before you get in an uproar about him going to the outfielder, think about how crazy a lot of people thought the Pirates were when they made John VanBenschoten a full-time pitcher. Texas A&M RHP Brian Finch was a second-round surprise, but he, William & Mary RHP Chris Ray (third) and Southern Miss RHP Bob McCrory (fourth) all have good arms.

 Q:  Nathan from Detroit, Michigan asks:
Can you tell me a little about Detroit's 4th round pick Josh Rainwater? Thanks

Jim Callis: I'm going to get lazy here--hey, I'm exhausted--and paste in what I wrote for our online Louisiana draft preview: Rainwater's season began with consecutive 1-0 losses to top pro prospects LeBlanc, Byrd and Kelly Shearer (Elkins High, Missouri City, Texas). But he established his credentials by fanning 17 and 18 in back-to-back starts against national high school powers Barbe and Elkins. He topped out at 95 mph against Elkins, the defending national champion, and competes well. Rainwater needs to firm up his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame and refine his slider. His finish was happier than his start, as he led DeRidder to its first-ever state 4-A championship. He tossed a no-hitter in the semifinals and striking out six of the seven batters he faced to close out the finals the next day.

 Q:  Kevin from Uniontown, Pa. asks:
Are the Pirates ever going to pay some attention to hitting during the draft? Were Gorzelanny and Lerud reaches?

Jim Callis: Triton (Ill.) JC LHP Tom Gorzelanny has a better arm than most southpaws and would likely have gone in the top three rounds. Nevada C Steve Lerud has a potent bat, just like you want. The Pirates could have lost both if they waited another round on them, so they weren't reaches. You just don't know for sure where a guy will go in the draft, so you have to grab him if you want him.

 Q:  Royals Fan from Overland Park, KS asks:
It looks like the Royals nabbed a solid value pick in BA #37 Miguel Vega in the later rounds when BA had him as a possibility for the Royals second pick of the first round. Why did Vega drop to the Royals in the 4th? Are there signability questions or simply ability questions with Vega?

Jim Callis: They did get a good value pick. Vega was thought of as a second-round talent, and a possibility signability first-rounder for the Reds, Expos and Royals. I'm not sure why he dropped to the fourth, because he's not expected to be a tough sign and has lots of power. Kansas City may try to move him to catcher.

 Q:  John Scott from Nashville, Tn asks:
Were there any first round surprises for you?

Jim Callis: The biggest was the Expos picking Chad Cordero at No. 20. We had heard they might be interested in him, but we also heard that about a dozen guys. He'll obviously sign for less than slot money and should get to Montreal (or San Juan, Portland or Washington) very quick, both of which made him highly appealing to the Expos. We knew the Dodgers would go the HS route at No. 24, but I think going with RHP Chad Billingsley was a surprise.

 Q:  Evan Procknow from Andover,NH asks:
What do you think of the Red Sox draft and what is your impression of David Murphy and Matt Murton? Thanks

Jim Callis: It's no secret that the Red Sox were going to take a college approach and that they needed to restock their farm system from top to bottom. In first-rounders Murphy (Baylor) and Murton (Georgia Tech), they got two advanced hitters who have succeeded with wood bats in the Cape Cod League. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they played in Class A this summer and both could move quickly.

 Q:  Mike Doyle from Valparaiso, IN asks:
What are the chances that the White Sox can sign Donald Veal andor Greg Moviel?

Jim Callis: Arizona HS LHP Veal (12th round) turned down a $500,000 offer from the Yankees and likely will attend the University of Arizona unless the White Sox give him $750,000. Ohio HS LHP Moviel (15th) is a top student committed to Vanderbilt and probably won't sign either. But they're good late-round gambles in case the Sox don't sign one of their early picks.

 Q:  keshone from alleyne asks:
i read something on one the yankees draft picks here is the quote from gordon blakeley: The pitcher that most excites New York may be Jason Stephens, a right-hander out of Tallmadge High School in Ohio. "We took a little bit of a long shot," Blakeley said of the sixth-round pick. "We think he might be the next (Mark Prior.") wow mark prior does this kid remind you of anything close to mark prior?

Jim Callis: I'm not a scout, and the Yankees did pop Prior out of high school, but I wouldn't ever compare a HS kid to Prior. He's more projectable than overpowering right now, and Stephens is committed to Georgia Tech, so he won't be an easy sign.

 Q:  tom from ny asks:

Jim Callis: This is two in a row, so lay off the all caps. Bard's seven-figure demands were well known before the draft, and that's why he went in the 20th round. I think that's just a late-round flier, a gamble worth taking but not one that often pays off.

 Q:  Deywane from Evansville asks:
Did the Reds have one of the best drafts this year? Who do you think they will have the most trouble signing?

Jim Callis: I'm not that overwhelmed to call it one of the best. I like Houston RHP Ryan Wagner (first round), though I think he's more of a guy who gets to the majors quick than one with a huge ceiling. The draft will look a lot better if they can sign Ohio RHP Marc Cornell (fifth)--and Cornell is healthy--plus Florida HS 1B Andy D'Alessio (10th), but I'm not sure their recent history indicates that they'll be able to.

 Q:  Ben from Arizona asks:
Talk about the Expos top two picks...Cordero & Owens. It seemed if they wanted a college arm they could have picked Brad Sullivan instead of Cordero. Any thoughts...thanks.

Jim Callis: I discussed Cordero a little earlier, and I agree with you about Sullivan. The Master's (Calif.) OF Jerry Owens is very athletic and very raw, more of a long-term project.

 Q:  Scott from Toronto asks:
Hi, the Blue Jays draft was very similar to last year"s--a shortstop early and then plenty of pitchers in the later rounds. As a group, how would the pitchers taken this year compare to last year"s, which has already shown early promise (Chad Pleiness, David Bush, Justin Moreau, Jordan Dejong, Adam Peterson). Better or worse? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Very similar drafts, very similar outlooks. I think Aaron Hill may hit a little more than last year's first-rounder, Russ Adams. I like a lot of the arms Toronto got this year: Florida International RHP Josh Banks (second round), Missouri RHPSS Shaun Marcum (third), RHP Justin James (fifth) . . . I could go on. All of their pitchers in the top 12 rounds have a solid history of success, and James may be the best value pick of the bunch.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
Seems to me that despite not having a first or second round pick the Phillies went the conservative route when it was their turn to pick (drafting only 3 HS players that they will likely even try to sign)? I guess giving 17 million to sweet-swinging David Bell really does affect your amateur draft budget. Can you offer me any consolation that this draft wasn't as bad as it appears. Thanks.

Jim Callis: Well, it's too early to write off a draft, isn't it? I'm not a big fan of going heavy with speed like the Phillies did with Texas 2B Tim Moss (third round), Houston OF Michael Bourn (fourth) and Auburn OF Javon Moran (fifth), especially because none of those guys drew a lot of walks in college.

 Q:  Tod Northman from Portland, Oregon asks:
Any chance the Mariners will sign Maine and Jensen? I hadn't heard any rumblings about Jensen having outrageous demands. Any thoughts on why he slid? Thanks.

Jim Callis: I hadn't heard rumblings about either Florida HS LHP Scott Maine (15th round) or Utah HS RHP Aaron Jensen (19th) having demands that would cause them to slide that far, but they must have been out there. The Mariners have a track record of spending more than slot money on guys they like a lot, so maybe they'll land one of them.

 Q:  Chris from Los Altos, CA asks:
Looking at the draft, I was very excited for many Stanford players including Carlos Quentin, Ryan Garko, and John Hudgins. However, I have a question as to why Sam Fuld fell so late in the draft and why Brian Hall was not drafted at all? It is my understanding that Brian is done with school, so why did the teams pass on him? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Fuld didn't have a good year, with only two homers, and my guess is that teams just didn't think there was much chance he'd sign for what they thought he was worth. It's the same story with Hall, who has another year of eligibility remaining. Both likely will be senior drafts in 2004.

 Q:  Geoff from from Wisconsin asks:
What are you expecting from Matt Harrington? Will he finally sign and for how much in your opinion?

Jim Callis: Who knows, really? The Reds took him in the 24th round, and they're not known for lavishing huge bonuses on players. He hasn't performed well since leaving high school in 2000, and the offers he received over the last three years dwindled from $3.95 million to $1.2 million to $40,000. At this point, if I'm the Reds, I offer him $10,000 to sign. If he doesn't want it, no loss. If he wants to reach the majors, he needs to enter Organized Ball at some point.

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
Jim, from a previous answer, does that mean you don't like the Brewers' fourth round pick?

Jim Callis: Not at all, I just like their top three picks the best of their draft. Their fourth-rounder, Puerto Rico HS OF Charlie Fermaint, is a raw speedster.

 Q:  John Sickels from Lawrence, KS asks:
Hi, Jim. Tremendous coverage as usual. Get some sleep this weekend. Question: what do you think of Mitch Maier's defensive skills behind the plate? I love his bat, but does his glove play?

Jim Callis: Hi, John. Sleep is on the schedule. I believe the consensus is that Maier probably will have to become an outfielder. And it seems like whenever you hear that someone may have to move, they wind up doing so. He has a strong arm but not a good release, and his receiving skills need a lot of work. All that said, I'm sure the Royals will try to keep him behind the plate for a while.

 Q:  Diz from New York asks:
Asses the Orioles draft. Why do you think they passed up Aubrey when the clearly have a need for a power hitter in their system? Do you think that in time their first rounder will be better then Aubrey or was this another in a series of first round flops by them?

Jim Callis: Plain and simple: Nick Markakis would sign for $1.85 million--that's already a done deal--and Aubrey wouldn't. I like Markakis, and discussed him earlier. Part of their problem with past first-round picks was how they were developed, a matter the Orioles have addressed.

 Q:  Josh from Carrollton, GA asks:
What are your thoughts on the Braves Draft and what players are potential impact players for them? Thanks!

Jim Callis: The Braves stayed with their usual high school approach. Florida HS C Jarrod Saltalamacchia had the best catching package in the draft. Their other first-rounder, Puerto Rico HS RHP Luis Atilano, had a lot of teams on him in the early rounds. I really have heard good things about Georgia HS RHP Paul Bacot (second round), and as a Georgia alum am sad that he already has been signed away from the Bulldogs. They got a lot of good HS LHPs too, in California's Jo Jo Reyes (second), Florida's Jacob Stevens (third), North Carolina's Matt Harrison (third) and North Carolina's Adam Stanley (ninth). In the later rounds, Kansas OF Casey Spanish (12th) and Indian River (Fla.) CC OF Steven Doetsch (14th) might be steals. Georgia Tech LHP Kyle Bakker (20th) was rated much higher before a subpar season.

 Q:  Jeff from Philly asks:
Given the Phillies previous history, do you think there's any chance they sign any HS player besides the 3 they drafted in the first ten rounds. It's not often your 41st round pick is rated higher than your first pick - a 3rd rounder.

Jim Callis: We'll see. The player you're referring to, California HS RHP Greg Reynolds, is firmly committed to Stanford. But without picks in the first two rounds, the Phillies may try to go hard after him or other guys who fell to them late, such as Texas HS 3B Brett Amyx (36th) or Florida HS RHP Mike Crotta (47th).

 Q:  Jason Danahy from Swampscott, MA asks:
What's the upside on Abe Alvarez, the first pitcher taken by the Sox? He's been a tremendously successful NCAA pitcher, but can his pitching ability override his mediocre as reported stuff to make him a good MLB starter?

Jim Callis: Alvarez has been very effective at Long Beach State, showing once again that velocity isn't everything. His curveball and changeup are solid average pitches, his fastball is 84-88 mph and his control is a plus. There have been plenty of successful lefties in the big leagues without a 90-mph fastball. His background isn't all that different as former Red Sox first-rounder Casey Fossum, though Alvarez doesn't throw as hard.

 Q:  Mike from Chicago asks:
Isn't it odd that the Cubs picked 9 catchers? (Jacob Fox, Anthony Richie, Matthew LaPorta, Landon Powell, Adam Tidball, Adam Harvey, Douglas Low, Jose Sanchez, Jefferies Tatford) Realizing that they won't sign all these guys, what are their plans?

Jim Callis: I think it would be more odd if they tried to sign them all. Catcher is by far their biggest weakness in their system, and the Cubs made sure they'd be able to address it. They probably won't sign more than three or four of these guys, and as mentioned, Powell is more insurance for Fox and Richie. Tatford, a nice 46th-round gamble, could be more of a third baseman.

 Q:  Jason from New Hampshire asks:
Jim, A couple quick things: were you surprised the Red Sox took a HS player so high (Hall)? and Ive heard that he might be a tough sign, and he came from the same school as '02 draftee Scott White. What are you hearing about Hall's signability?

Jim Callis: Not necessarily surprised, though they didn't go for another HS player for a long time. Hall is an athletic switch-hitter, and though he's committed to Georgia Tech, the expectation is that he'll sign for second-round money.

Moderator: That's all Jim had time for today, but he'll answer more of your draft questions in tomorrow's installment of Ask BA. Hope everyone enjoyed the draft as much as we did.

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