Draft Chat With Jim Callis

Moderator: Jim Callis will chat about the draft at 1:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  John from Lexington, KY asks:
Hey Jim, thanks for the chat. What is Chris Rusin's draft projection? All of the recent talk is that Alex Meyer and Robbie Ross will come to UK regardless of draft position, do you believe this to be true or are they just positioning for more money? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. We have six days before the draft and there's still a lot of uncertainty about exactly who's going exactly where—just like there seems to be every year.

Jim Callis: As for John's question, I think Chris Rusin will be a fifth- to eighth-rounder. His stuff isn't overwhelming, but he's a lefty who knows how to pitch and he has been a No. 1 starter in the SEC for two years. Regarding the recruits, I haven't spoken to anyone who thinks Meyer is signable. Teams haven't spent a lot of time on him because they don't see him as being worth his high price tag, though he is a first-round talent. I haven't sensed that Ross, whom I really like, is unsignable. I could see him going in the second round and signing. If he were taller, he'd be a first-rounder, as a lefty with plus stuff.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
Pedro Alvarez has been the top prospect in this draft for such a long time, is there any chance left that he will get taken #1? Also, if the Pirates don't draft Alvarez, who else might they go for? Thanks.

Jim Callis: While he has been the No. 1 prospect for a while, Alvarez hasn't really separated himself from Tim Beckham, Buster Posey, Brian Matusz and Aaron Crow. I'm not hearing any talk that the Rays will take him at No. 1, but that doesn't mean they're taking a vastly inferior talent. They seem to prefer Posey or Beckham.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Melville or Crow?

Jim Callis: I like Tim Melville, but that would be an easy decision for me. I'd take Crow. He's currently outdueling Mississippi and Lance Lynn 1-0 in the fifth, by the way.

 Q:  Ted from NC asks:
Do you think if Allan Dkystra hit in a lineup similar to ASU or Miami this year he would have been able to have the type of season that would put him up for consideration for a top 15-20 overall pick similar to Wallace and Alonso?

Jim Callis: Not really. Dykstra has good plate discipline, so it's not like he's hurting himself by chasing a lot of pitches. Those guys are considered better pure hitters, and Wallace has a (slight) chance to play third base. That's why teams like Alonso and Wallace more. It has nothing to do with their teammates.

 Q:  Jim Beam from New York asks:
If you had the first two picks in the draft and wanted to draft a catcher either Kyle Skipworth or Buster Posey and a pitcher either Brian Matuz or Tim Melville which way would you go High School players or College players and Why. I would take Skipworth and Melville as I feel they both have higher upsides what are your thoughts.

Jim Callis: I'll disagree with you and take Posey and Matusz. Skipworth has the potential to be a better hitter than Posey, but Posey is no slouch; he has proven himself against better competition; and there are no concerns that Posey would have to move off of catcher, as there are with Skipworth (though I think he'll stay there). Matusz is a polished lefty with three plus pitches, so I'll be happy with that.

 Q:  Sholom Stern from Smithtown, New York asks:
What will be the Mets approach to the Draft this year? I have read Baseball America's first Draft Preview and it mentioned that the Mets will stick to the MLB Slot bonus figures which continues to baffle me.

Jim Callis: Baffles me as well, but that's what I keep hearing. It looks like another ultraconservative draft for the Mets, who refuse to flex their financial muscle. Don't laugh, but they might opt for ANOTHER college reliever and take someone like Texas Christian's Andrew Cashner in the first round. This reminds me a lot of what the Yankees were doing a few years ago, seemingly worrying more about winning in the lower minors than building a strong farm system. The Yankees eventually saw the error of their ways.

 Q:  tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
What offensive minded catchers that can actually catch might be available for the Giants sandwich pick?

Jim Callis: No sure things. The three best catchers by a wide margin are Posey, Skipworth and Stanford's Jason Castro, and they'll all be long gone by then.

Moderator: Just to eliminate any confusion . . . this is not our regular Hot Sheet chat. This is a draft chat—draft questions only, please.

 Q:  Steve from Hoboken, NJ asks:
Who are some players that might fall to the Yankees to due to injury/bonus demands?

Jim Callis: I just tackled the subject of the most unsignable players in the last Ask BA on Monday, so check that out. Yankees fans are clamoring for Florida HS first baseman Eric Hosmer, the best high school bat in the draft, but I don't see him getting there. California HS righthander Gerrit Cole might get to the Yankees, but a lot of teams aren't enthralled by the total package.

 Q:  Matt from San Dimas asks:
Do you think teams will draft the best player in the first 5 rounds (IE: the memo from the commish) or will they take a lesser talent who is willing to sign for slot?

Jim Callis: Don't misinterpet the memo. I don't think MLB is saying, "Hey, take the best guy and spend what you want to sign him." I think it's more, "Hey, take the best guys where they deserve to go so they won't fall, and if you don't sign them, you get a comp pick next year." But that won't work, because no one is going to spend an early pick on someone they don't think they can sign. I think we'll see business as usual, with a handful of aggressive teams and the majority toeing the line.

 Q:  Marco from San Diego asks:
Jim, The Padres are slugging it out for last place right now, do you think they should continue to do so, because I hear this local kid, Stephen Strasburg, is something really special?

Jim Callis: He is something special, a San Diego State sophomore righty who has blown away hitters all year. But it's hard to tank for four months, and even so, it might be hard to keep the No. 1 pick from the Royals.

 Q:  Kyle from Mizzou asks:
Jim, What's the latest on Melville? I spoke with a coach of one of the teams Melville pitched against recently and he said scouts around here were really impressed. I read BA's column on him yesterday, and it sounds like he's had a lot to deal with this year(grandmother's passing and hockey puck injury). Where do you think he'll go, and do you have a comparison for him? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Melville is still arguably the top high school pitcher in the draft. He hasn't been as spectacular as he was last summer, so some teams have cooled on him a little bit, but his stuff has still been good once he got going. Where he goes in the draft remains to be seen. He's looking for money that would put him in the top 10-15 picks, and he might not go quite that high, in which case he could slide. Such is slotting. I'm not the best guy for comps, so I'll let that one go.

 Q:  Alec from Austin, TX asks:
Any chance Brett Jacobson throws himself into the top 40 picks with a strong finish this next week?

Jim Callis: Can't see that at all. Jacobson has a good arm but he's been too inconsistent for Vanderbilt to risk a pick that high.

 Q:  tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
If the Giants got a chance to pick between Alvarez and Smoak at #5 would it be insane for them to pick Smoak? Also, any chance the Giants are in on Hosmer or not at all with the young Villalona in the system?

Jim Callis: It wouldn't be insane. I've talked to teams who believe more in Smoak's bat, and it's possible that Alvarez winds up at third base, in which case they're at the same position. I don't think Scott Boras would scare the Giants off Hosmer if that's who they wanted. I like Big V, but he's not close to being ready, and the Giants will take whomever they deem to be the best guy, regardless of position.

 Q:  Brent S from Toronto asks:
What's the latest word on the Jays' draft? Do you think Wallace will fall to them at 17?

Jim Callis: They like proven college players, and the strength of the draft is college bats, so college bats are the best bet. I don't think they'll get a short at Brett Wallace, though. More likely someone like California first baseman David Cooper, Wake Forest first baseman Allan Dykstra, Miami second baseman Jemile Weeks or Wichita State third baseman Conor Gillaspie. Stanford catcher Jason Castro would be interesting, though they took another college catcher (J.P. Arencibia) in the first round last year.

 Q:  Brad from Lake Orion, MI asks:
What round do you think Big Ten player of the year, Nate Recknagel, 1b, Michigan will go?

Jim Callis: Recknagel has had a huge season and might even have a chance to catch. But scouts aren't totally sold on the bat and he is a 22-year-old senior, so I think he's looking at somewhere from the sixth to 10th round.

 Q:  Doug from Philly asks:
Jim, Read BA's column on Hewitt. I heard the Phillies are really high on him. Are you high on him and do you see him lasting that long, or has his stock really moved up the draft boards? Is there a player you liken him to?

Jim Callis: His stock is really moving up, as he's the best athlete in the draft. But I'm not high on him, at least not first-round high. He didn't hit well on the showcase circuit last summer, and as a result, he wasn't projected as a top guy coming into 2008. I just don't see how 80 at-bats at a private school in Connecticut can sell people on the bat. I just did a column on recent first-round picks who worried scouts with their bats, and very few of them panned out.

 Q:  Jared from Orlando, Fl asks:
Of the projected top five, who do you think will make the big leagues the fastest?

Jim Callis: Pedro Alvarez, over Brian Matusz.

 Q:  Paul from Kansas City, MO asks:
OMG, Jim Callis Draft Chat! Hey Jim, if Tampa takes Tim Beckham, why wouldn't the Pirates take Posey? If so, that leaves the Royals taking... ? Thanks.

Jim Callis: I think the Pirates are looking at both guys, but I've heard more talk of Alvarez. The Royals seem determined to take another Boras Corp. client, as talk that they're on Alvarez and Hosmer won't die down.

 Q:  Mike from Los Angeles, CA asks:
So what is up with Tanner Scheppers? The MRI was clean which has to be great news, right? Where will he go in the draft?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't say "great news." There is something significant wrong with his shoulder, and doctors can't seem to pinpoint it. Until his health is resolved, it's hard to see him going in the first round.

 Q:  Michael from LA asks:
There's so many good 1B in this draft - who is the best one and why?

Jim Callis: I'd take Eric Hosmer over any of the college guys, though it's hard not to love Justin Smoak, Yonder Alonso, Brett Wallace and Co., too. I think Hosmer's bat will be the best in the long run, and as a bonus, he's a better athelte than any of the college guys. May even be able to play the outfield.

 Q:  Dave B from Pittsburgh asks:
If the Pirates pick Pedro Alvarez #2, can he stay at 3B? What kind of defender is he? They currently have Jose Bautista at third- can he be at least that good? Is his high ranking based on him being able to play at third? Or is his bat so good that even if he was a 1B, he'd still be ranked ahead of the many other 1B's in the draft?

Jim Callis: He can stay at third base, but it's not a lock. He's an adequate to average defender there, it's more an issue of making sure a thick lower half doesn't get too thick down the road. His rating is based on his bat.

 Q:  David from Maryland asks:
If Alvarez, Beckham, Jr and Posey go ahead of the Orioles pick at 4, how much, if any clarity do we have in their decision mkaing process? Do we have a good feel they will go pitcher instead of Smoak? They need an impact bat badly but of course they know as well as anyone you can never have enough pitching.

Jim Callis: If that happens, I think they would take Brian Matusz after going with position players in the first round the last three years. If they wanted a bat, sounds like it would come down to Justin Smoak and Gordon Beckham in this scenario.

 Q:  tony from clearwater asks:
Who do you think the Brewers will be looking at? I think the will be looking at pitching but is there a hitter or two that they may look at?

Jim Callis: Athletes (Zach Collier, Anthony Hewitt) or high-ceiling high school pitchers (Tim Melville, Ethan Martin).

 Q:  Paul from Langley, British Columbia asks:
Jim, If you had the #1 pick in this year's draft, would you trade it for #1 next year? I hear next year's crop and 2010 look like the best in a decade, what are your thoughts?

Jim Callis: I would not. I'd rather have my guy now than waiting a year. The 2005 crop was outstanding—way too early to say 2009 or 2010 are going to be better than that.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Jim, the Pirates beat writer Dejan Kovacevic, who is quite careful in this reporting, has written two articles implying that Alvarez is falling in the Pirates' estimation, and that they'll go with Tim Beckham if he's there. But if the Rays take Beckham, do the Pirates really pass on Alvarez? They can't really pass on the best college hitter two years in a row, can they?

Jim Callis: Sure they can, if they think Beckham is better. As long as they make the decision based on talent, I think the fans can live with that.

 Q:  John from Pensacola, FL asks:
Couldn't MLB have done something to keep the draft and follow process? Perhaps limiting the deadline to picks in the top 10 rounds or to those going to/returning to four year schools? The big bonuses given to true draft and follows like Sean Henn and Luis Cota didn't happen very often.

Jim Callis: Or saying the signing deadline didn't apply to the JC guys would have worked, too. But it was a way to save a few pennies, so MLB jumped on it. Reaction has been mixed, as some teams haven't minded not dealing with DFEs and others miss it terribly.

 Q:  Toby from Detroit asks:
Jim, I've often heard this isn't the best prep class for pitching. I recently went back and read a column from April '06 that you wrote. At that time, you said Kershaw had separated himself, but it was close and it wasn't a great class. Do you feel like Melville, even though, he struggled early on (death of his grandmother, etc) can be that Kershaw type guy from this draft?

Jim Callis: I do like Melville, but he's no Kershaw. There isn't a Kershaw among the HS pitchers in this draft class.

 Q:  Matt from Colorado Springs, Colorado asks:
Who do you think the Rockies will take with their first pick?

Jim Callis: I keep hearing that they're on Illinois HS RHP Jake Odorizzi.

 Q:  Andrew from San Francisco asks:
With Brett Lawrie absolutely raking for his junior nation team at the moment, is there any way he makes into the supplemental round or is he a lock to go in the first now?

Jim Callis: I wouldn't call him a "lock" but I think he'll go in the first round.

 Q:  Greg from Toronto asks:
Just a follow up to the question you just answered, but doesn't having the comp pick severely reduces the risk and encourages gambles? The Tigers have taken a few of those gambles and have ended up with some pretty good prospects. It's not like it's 100% that the prospect won't sign.

Jim Callis: It eliminates the risk for lower picks, but teams picking at the top are not going to take Pedro Alvarez or Eric Hosmer if they have no intention of ponying up to sign them. MLB would love to see teams take a bullet for the other 29 clubs and avoid a situation like when Rick Porcello fell to the Tigers last year, but that will never happen.

 Q:  Parker from Chapel Hill, NC asks:
A UNC fan hoping Melville drops, we'd love to see him in the white and blue! I know its a gamble to pass up the money and take the risk of injury by going to college. If you are Melville what would you do if you aren't offered 10-15 type money?

Jim Callis: Every player is different. But if Melville and his family have determined that 10-15 money is what it will take, he should go to college if he doesn't get it. He gets the benefit of growing up in college rather than in the minors, and unless he gets hurt, he's probably going to get similar money or more in three years. See Andrew Miller (and Alex White and Matt Harvey in future drafts).

 Q:  Steve from Ma asks:
Hi, Jim, Keith Law said in a chat that he heard the Red Sox might be interested in a college player who they would convert into a catcher. Any idea on who that might be? Thanks.

Jim Callis: That would be South Carolina SS Reese Havens, whom they've loved for years.

 Q:  Wes from Houston, TX asks:
Do you think Ross Seaton will be available to the Astros with their #38 pick?

Jim Callis: Maybe, and there's a good chance they'd take him if he was. I don't think he'd last much past No. 38 if he got that far, and he could go at the end of the first round.

 Q:  Chet from Chimney Sweep, Nebraska asks:
Who is the most over-hyped player in the draft?

Jim Callis: I think it's Anthony Hewitt right now. I think he'd be a nice fit for a team with extra picks but I just don't see him as a true first-rounder.

Moderator: That's all for today, and thanks for all the great questions as usual. We'll be back with some more draft chats next week before the big day on Thursday.