Draft Chat With Jim Callis

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Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. I've got a ton of questions already piled up, so I will try to answer them quickly so we can get to as many of them as possible. Can't stay past 2 p.m. because too many other draft duties call. So let's get to it!

    Tim (Wisconsin): Who you you guys view as the top potential closer in the pitching ranks?? And can Matt Barnes be a 1 or 2 at the big league level, depending on who drafts him?? As always, thanks for the great info!!

Jim Callis: The top guy who's a reliever right now is Louisville's Tony Zych. I think Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray can start, but he'd be a dynamic closer. Same with Texas A&M's John Stilson. As for Barnes, I'm hesitant to put a No. 1 tag on many guys, but he definitely has the upside of a No. 2.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): Thanks for the chat! Predict their long-term positions: Baez, Swihart, Spangenburg.

Jim Callis: Baez: 3B. Swihart: I'll say C, but could see a Wil Myers-type deal where his team decides to expedite the bat by moving him. Spangenberg: OF.

    Mike (Minnesota): I'm surprised there's so much hype around Bubba Starling right now...I mean, he only had 27 AB's this season?!?!? How can anyone gauge his overall skills on such a small sample? Not to mention he never has played a ton of games in the past. Just b/c a guy is built well and can hit bombs in BP and looks good in showcases and can play QB he's the #2 ranked hitter?!? I know most of "prospecting" is all projection, but it seems very premature to annoint this guy a baseball stud when he hardly has any game experience, let alone against tough competition. What's the rationale behind such a high ranking here?

Jim Callis: I see where you're coming from, but scouting (especially with HS guys) is all about projection. He's a tremendous athlete with a huge upside. That said, it would be foolish to not recognize that he also comes with more risk than any of the elite prospects in this draft.

    Tom (St. Louis): Does Kolten Wong profile as a leadoff hitter? If not are there any middle infielders in the top few rounds who are better suited to lead off? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Sure. He has good hitting and on-base skills to go with solid speed. There may be faster players, but I'll take his on-base ability.

    Nate (Washington): I'm trying to figure out how I should even think about Rendon. Depending on how you explain his health and performance in 2011, he could be anything from a star to a bust. Hypothetically, suppose that Rendon's 2011 is representative of his ability, and that injuries, for instance, are not driving his disappointing year. If that's true, what type of hitter are we projecting? Is that a slower Ackley, with maybe a little more power and defense? .300/.400/.450/15HR? Just trying to see what it would mean if assumptions of the pessimists are right. Is this a good way to be thinking about it?

Jim Callis: I'm not going to have the best answer to this, because I don't see how a team could think that the shoulder strain hasn't impacted his bat speed and swing. If he were in pro ball, Rendon would have sat out and gotten healthy and been fine. In college, he has gutted through it at less than his best to help his team. I'm not a doctor, nor a scout, but I'm believing in the 100-percent healthy Rendon we saw as a freshman and a sophomore. That guy was a stud.

    Doug (Alameda): Went to see Robert Stephenson pitch last night. Velo didn't look great but there were so many scouts (and I heard a couple GMs) there. Is he a solid first round pick? Also, what have you heard about local kid James Harris from Oakland? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Stephenson could fit in the bottom half of the first round or the top of the sandwich round. He has worked at 93-95 mph for much of th espring and still has projection remaining. Teams that covet speed could be tempted to take Harris around the fifth round.

    Steve Dakota (Orlando,Fl): Are the Rays on C.J. Cron? Is he a right hand hitting version of Travis Haffner? Better?

Jim Callis: The Rays are on everyone. Seriously, they have so many picks that they've had scouts seen following everyone who doesn't figure to go in the first 15 choices. Whichever team takes Cron in the first round, and it will happen, is thinking he can become a righthanded-hitting Hafner in his prime. Similar toolset.

    Chris (Charlotte): What happened to Christian Montgomery this season? Is he injured or has he performed poorly to drop out of the rankings?

Jim Callis: He hasn't thrown nearly as well as he did last summer and scouts don't like his work ethic.

    JR (Iowa): How many of the top 200 draft prospects do you think will be in BA's top 100 next year?

Jim Callis: I've gotten this question a lot. I think the typical year has about 15 draftees on the Top 100. With the strength of this draft, and what I perceive as the overall talent in the minors being a little down, I could see 20 draftees on next year's Top 100, perhaps more.

    Nelson (Tacoma, WA): Any chance Jackie Z goes for a HS arm (Bundy) with the 2nd pick? Either Cole or Rendon seemed a slam dunk for the M's...and they could use a 3B!!

Jim Callis: The Mariners have been doing their due diligence on Bundy, but I keep hearing they prefer a bat. I think Rendon is their top target, and could see them taking Starling or Lindor over an arm.

    Robert Goldberg (Secaucus, NJ): Jim, what's your take on Wichita State's Chris O'Brien? He's having a great year with the bat, and he has the bloodlines that teams seem to love (Charlie O'Brien's kid). Does he profile as a 2nd-3rd rounder?

Jim Callis: That's too high. He's hitting over his head, and he's not the catcher his dad was, so he's more of an eighth- to 10th-rounder.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Just how close was it between Bundy and Cole when compiling your list? About how much time do you think Bundy will need in the minors once he signs?

Jim Callis: Very close. We went back and forth on that one. You could make a case for the first six guys on our Top 200 being the No. 1 prospect. I could see Bundy in the majors at some point in the second half of 2013.

    Luke (Detroit): Would you take the risk on Purke if he were available in the supplemental 1st round if you weren't a team like Tampa or Toronto with a bunch of picks early on?

Jim Callis: It all depends on how good he looks down the stretch, and his signability. If his stuff doesn't bounce back, or his signability seems impossible, I wouldn't spend the pick on him. I think he makes the most sense for the Rays and Jays because they have so many picks.

    Taylor (Houston): Are we beginning to get word or ideas on which teams are looking to go where with their first picks? I'm interested in teh Astros with #11 - I've heard a lot of names thrown around. What are they looking at and who would be available there? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Yes and no. There's plenty of gossip out there about what could happen in the top 10, and I'll have a new mock draft up on Friday. At the same time, the Pirates could go in three or four different directions at No. 1, so there's no certainty. And in the bottom half of the first round, all of us mock drafters are, at best, making educated guesses.

    Big Dave (AR): Who has the most helium going right now?

Jim Callis: He wasn't an unknown commodity by any means, and he was a projected first-rounder, but I'm going to say Archie Bradley. His stuff was so good at the end of the season, and he hit 101 mph on the scoreboard radar gun during the Oklahoma 6-A state championship game. His name is suddenly getting whispered in the top 5-10 picks.

    Noah (Victoria, MN): Biggest Bust Potential in this draft? Also what happened to Jackie Bradley Jr?

Jim Callis: In terms of expectations vs. risk, it's probably Bubba Starling. Bradley just didn't have a good year and then hurt his wrist. The consensus is that the new bats got too him, and he messed himself up by trying to hit for power. I think he's a lot better than what he showed, and he could be a nice value pick toward the bottom of the first round.

    Taylor (Houston): How do you, or scouts, see Jungmann's stuff playing out on the MLB level? I know the guy is a winner and has the demeanor/attitude to be a stud, but I wonder just how good his stuff will be against MLB hitters. Thanks for the chat!

Jim Callis: The stuff is very good. Fastball is 91-93 to 95 mph with good sink, angle and depth, his slider is solid and his changeup has promise. He's the type of guy who can really pitch off his fastball and get lefties and righties out with it.

    Mike (San Diego): Thanks Jim. At this point what is the consensus in the BA office as to who the Pads are targeting with #10?

Jim Callis: We hear they are heavily on Indian River (Fla.) JC third baseman Cory Spangenberg, though that's probably more at No. 25 than at No. 10. The best bet is one of the top college pitchers who would still be available, which could be Jungmann, Gray, Jed Bradley or Barnes.

    TJ (Rockland County): There have been recent rumors about the Mets possibly drafting UNC SS Levi Michael at #13. Are these just rumors because that would be a huge reach for a player that may end up just a Utility guy? If they are rumors, have you heard anything about who the Mets mat be targeting?

Jim Callis: I do think the Mets want a bat. Michael wouldn't be a huge reach, but he's not a lock to stay at shortstop, so No. 13 would be a bit high for a guy who might just be a solid all-around second baseman. I think they're more likely to go for an athletic outfielder like Mikie Mahtook, George Springer or Brandon Nimmo. Could also see Javier Baez there. I think they'll shoot for a higher realistic ceiling than Michael.

    Jim (Connecticut): Is Barnes a notch below the top tier pitchers (seems to fall into the 10-20 range rather than the 1-10 range in the draft). Is it just the fact that in the Big East he has not faced top notch competition day in and day out, or is his stuff just not at the level of the top arms?

Jim Callis: If we're splitting the college pitchers into tiers, I'd put Cole, Hultzen and Bauer in one tier and Barnes right wtih Jungmann, Gray and Bradley (and maybe Meyer if you twist my arm) in the second tier. Don't see Barnes in the top five picks, but he could go in the top 10.

    Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor, and Addison Russell. How do you rank them? Thanks

Jim Callis: That order works for me. Machado has the most offensive upside, Lindor is a better bet to stay at shortstop, and Russell is behind the other two guys.

    Brad Hill (Durham NC): where will Pratt Maynard of NC State go in the Draft?

Jim Callis: Fourth to seventh round as an offensive-minded catcher. Catchers often go higher than expected, so if he goes in the third to a team that loved him in the Cape Cod League, I could see it.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): The Top 200 list has Dante Bichette Jr listed as an OF, I thought he played 3B and will he be available for the Reds in rd 2?

Jim Callis: We list high school guys at their reasonable projected position, so we've got Dante Jr. on an outfield corner. He should be around in round two, but not much longer after that.

    fred (wi): Bat only, who are the top 3 college hitters, both power and average?

Jim Callis: Anthony Rendon, C.J. Cron and Alex Dickerson are the three who jump immediately to mind.

    Patrick (Sandpoint, Idaho): Maybe I missed it but never even saw Ryan Carpenter of Gonzaga on the 200.....small school?...or have the mighty fallen THAT far in one year? Projections for draft and MLB future?

Jim Callis: He was on earlier versions of it but ultimately fell off. Didn't have the same stuff he showed in the Cape Cod League last summer. But he is a college lefthander who was good on the Cape, so he easily could go in the top 200 picks. To clarify, our Top 200 list is based solely on talent and doesn't factor in signability.

    Bill (Pittsburgh): Is there any kind of indication on what direction the Pirates are leaning with the first pick in this draft? The different mock drafts seem to be all over the place so far.

Jim Callis: That's because the Pirates still are deciding. It's tough when the best guys coming in (Rendon, Cole) haven't been at their best. I still think it comes down to those two, though Danny Hultzen is a possibility and high schoolers like Bundy and Starling could be as well.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): When does the next BA mock draft come out?

Jim Callis: Friday. Late afternoon, I'm guessing, unless I get an earlier jump on phone calls than I think I will.

    John (Dallas): Thanks Jim! I love this stuff. Given the depth of pitching in the draft and their recent draft history, I believe the Astros will take a college outfielder at 11. In your opinion will Springer be there or will they have to reach for Mahtook to do so? Thank you.

Jim Callis: Good chance Springer will be there. I don't think Mahtook would be a big reach there, and some guys like him more than Springer. They might be best off not worrying about college and taking a home state product in Josh Bell.

    Tommy Redding (KY): I noticed in the Top 200 list that Sonny Gray is now 12th overall. Did he drop to 12th due to questions about his ability and his size or is there simply that much talent this year that a few guys moved past him based on their projections? Has he fallen completely out of the top 5 now or even the top 10 for the draft?

Jim Callis: It's just a crazy deep year for college pitching. I don't think he'll go in the top five, but he's in the mix in the 6-10 range.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Jim thanks for the chat as always. I am really surprised to see that George Springer has not shot up the draft boards considering how great he has played since the weather has warmed up. He has outstanding tools, and his level of production has been as good as any position player in the draft so far. What is it that scouts are worried about that is keeping him outside the top 5?

Jim Callis: He's a tremendous athlete who has bounced back from a slow start, and I don't see him getting past the first half of the first round. But scouts still have some concerns about his swing, especially on the inner half of the plate, which is why he's not getting play in the top five picks.

    Logan White (Colo): OK, Jim who do I pick at #16....?? Norris..Swihart or some other HS talent..you know I like HS talent in 1st rd.

Jim Callis: I can't see MLB allowing the Dodgers to pay a penny over the slot recommendations, so that may mean a college guy. Swihart in particular won't come cheap. I could see a college lefty, maybe Jed Bradley if he falls, maybe Tyler Anderson. If it's a total budget pick, maybe they reach a little for Sean Gilmartin or Grayson Garvin.

    Andrew (Winslow, Arizona): What do you think are the chances the Dbacks reach for a player at #7 in order to get a signable player

Jim Callis: Keep hearing that they won't do that at all, that they will take the best guy and sign him. I think they pounce all over Dylan Bundy if he gets to 7.

    Miggy (NY): I've read some reports that love Jed Bradley and others that are not so high on him. Where do you see his upside as? A No. 2 type SP?

Jim Callis: Yes, as a No. 2. He hasn't pitched as well recently, so his stock is slipping slightly, but he's still going to be the second college lefty drafted behind Hultzen.

    Tom (Buffalo): Given Gerrit Cole's recent struggles, how likely is it that Trevor Bauer is drafted before him? Are there teams that like Bauer more than Cole?

Jim Callis: Cole fits the traditional scouting blueprint more than Bauer does, so I still think Cole goes ahead of Bauer. But I could see Bauer going as high as No. 3 and Cole going as low as No. 6, so it's not impossible.

    Mike (NJ): Building a team long term. Who do you want as your catcher? Swihart, Susac or Hedges?

Jim Callis: Swihart. He's not a lock to stay at catcher, but he's athletic enough to pull it off and has the bat to be a major contributor elsewhere if he has to move.

    Brian (Nashville): Who are some prep players that could drop to the mid-rounds and still receive a 1st round bonus, a la Wil Myers or Max Stassi?

Jim Callis: Blake Swihart. Austin Hedges. Brandon Nimmo. Charlie Tilson. For some reason, I've heard more about asking prices on position guys than on pitchers. Though they put out huge numbers, I don't think Dylan Bundy ($30 million deal) or Archie Bradley ($20 million) will come close to falling out of the first.

    Kyle (West Plains, MO): If you were the Royals and no high school kids had been taken when it was your turn, who do you take? You have Bundy, Bradley, Starling, Lindor, ect.

Jim Callis: Bundy. If I were picking No. 2 and Rendon was off the board, I'd take Bundy.

    Brian (Nashville): Do you really think Pittsburgh would pick Hultzen at #1 over Rendon/Cole, or is this just posturing? It seems like it would be a mistake the organization could regret for awhile.

Jim Callis: I think it's possible, because Rendon and Cole haven't been at their best. Hultzen is a very good prospect, a lefthander who looks like a No. 2 starter, but I wouldn't take him over Rendon.

    Ed (San Diego): If you were picking in the 8-12 range would you rather have Jungmann, Gray or Barnes?

Jim Callis: It's a tossup, but I'd take Jungmann.

    Alex Z (Toronto): Jim, Do you ever see the day where we see the ability to trade picks around?

Jim Callis: Not sure. Draft changes get talked about all the time, but rarely happen. If MLB succeeds in getting mandated slotting in the draft, not sure it will push for trades. While some thing teams would get more leverage it they could trade picks, others think it would allow agents to dictate where the most talented players wind up. Would be fun to watch—except from the standpoint of writing mock drafts!--but wouldn't solve any problems.

    Norman (San Jose): were there any bats you were significantly higher on than the consensus BA rankings?

Jim Callis: I don't know if "significantly higher," but I think I believe in Alex Dickerson more than anyone else at BA. That may be because I've covered him in the Cape and in the Midwest—you tend to be a little higher on guys you've delved into more than others.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Jim, thanks for the chat. Just to check up on a personal cheeseball, is there any chance Josh Bell goes in the Top 10 or is he still a mid-1st pick?

Jim Callis: Speaking of guys from my region . . . I'm not hearing his name in the top 10, because there's so much college pitching available. But man, it's hard not to fall in love with that bat.

    Jason (Walnut Creek): Do you think John Stilson's pitching performance against Texas last week will affect his draft status?

Jim Callis: No. He wasn't his sharpest, but he showed he was healthy after missing a start with a strained lat. He'll still go in the first round.

    Mike (Rutland, VT): Say you are Huntington (or Greg Smith) and the clock is ticking............who do you select?

Jim Callis: Rendon.

    Pat (California): What makes Starling different than Tate?

Jim Callis: There were more concerns about Tate's bat than there are with Starling's. But as mentioned earlier, there's some risk with Starling.

    Mike (Rutland, Vt): Due to the uncertainty at the top, do you see a lot of second guessing of the Pirates' selection?

Jim Callis: Yes, because of that uncertainty and because that's the nature of the draft. There are always a lot more opinions than there are definite answers. Hopefully, no one will second-guess me for leaving, but I have to get back to completing the Texas state draft list and reports, writing lines of skinny for my Top 200 guys in the issue, banging out a column and finding some time to make mock-draft calls. See you next week! Feel free to send questions to askba@baseballamerica.com for the weekly Ask BA column, or try me on Twitter at @jimcallisBA.