Prospects and Draft Chat with Jim Callis

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Moderator: Jim Callis will answer your questions beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. Never dreamed we'd have this many signings to talk about a week after the draft, but not complaining. Let's get to it . . .

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): With all the quick signings will high school players drafted high but not top 30, like Jesse Winker and Tanner Rahier for the Reds, have a better chance of starting next year in A ball?

Jim Callis: Yes. That was one of the reasons teams wanted an earlier signing deadline, so that high school players would be better prepared for their first full pro seasons.

    Gerry (Philly): Dylan Cozens wasn't highly rated at all but the Phils LOVE his upside. In fact, Amaro was downright giddy in his praise. Why wasn't he highly rated? What is his ceiling?

Jim Callis: I think a lot of teams weren't on him because of questions surrounding why he switched high schools and had to sit out a year. But he sounds like a high-upside athlete, exactly the type of guy whom the Phillies love to draft. Big power potential, and athleticism too.

    Kyle (Seattle): I'm concerned about the Mariners bonus pool. Went $500K over slot for DeCarlo and a reported $480K over for Pike. Where are the savings going to come from? The need to come in an additional $420 under on the remaining picks to avoid heavy penalties

Jim Callis: Using our handy bonus pool calculator (, let's take a look . . . I think they'll be fine. Don't forget they can go $400k over without losing a draft pick. So right now, they're still $40k ahead. Even if they fall back after signing Pike, Michael Zunino will come in under $5.2 million and the Marines should be fine.

    Patrick (Fort Wayne, In): Jim, did the Cubs draft Rhett Wiseman in the 25th round as a back up plan in case Almora is not signed? Or, do you think the Cubs will seriously consider signing Wiseman along with Almora? Can you give a sleeper pick in the Cub's draft?

Jim Callis: Not really, because if Almora doesn't sign, his $3.25 million disappears from their draft pool. That said, I don't see how Almora will turn down a bonus in the neighborhood of $3 million. I think Wiseman is a totally separate consideration, albeit one who fell because he's going to be a very tough sign. We don't know how much the Cubs will have to play with because they haven't officially signed any of their first 10 picks, but they might be able to scrape up $1 million and make a run at Wiseman if they want.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): Seems like guys are signing much quicker this year- any idea how that will play into their timetable in reaching the bigs?

Jim Callis: I don't think it will make a huge difference in most cases, but the teams and the players are glad they're getting out and playing. Under the old system, where MLB tried to keep big bonuses top secret, Joey Gallo wouldn't have officially signed with the Rangers until Aug. 15. These days, he gets two more months of at-bats to get him ready for his first full season.

    ttnorm (CT): If I somehow forced you to slap a Prospect Handbook grade on the top 3 picks, what would they be?

Jim Callis: It's hard not to compare Buxton to Bubba Starling, so I'd give him the same 75/Extreme we slapped on Bubba. I'd go 65/Extreme on Correa and 60/High or 55/Medium on Zunino.

Update two minutes later: Make that a 65/High on Correa. This is making my head hurt, thinking of how we cranked out 900 grades for the Handbook.

    Wes (Louisiana): Where does Correa rank among all SS prospects in baseball?

Jim Callis: I'd put him behind Profar and Machado and on the same level as Lindor. This comes from someone who sees Hamilton and Baez moving off shortstop eventually.

    aj schied (rochester, ny): once/if lucas giolito is signed, where can we expect him to go? gcl, auburn etc.? even if hes not pitching, would they still send him somewhere to gain experience on minor league life?

Jim Callis: My guess is that the Nationals would just work on getting him healthy and probably send him to their training complex.

    Joe D (Everson, PA): Jim, thanks for the chat. To date the Pirates have only signed 2 picks. Have you heard any reasons why they have been so slow? I understand Appel will go down to the wire.

Jim Callis: Teams just move at different paces on signings. I think almost all the teams have a pretty good idea of what it will take to sign almost all of their picks in the first 10 rounds, and a lot of those deals await only some dotting of i's and crossing of t's. I'd expect the Pirates to announce several signings by the end of the week.

    ttnorm (CT): In your last Ask BA, I was surprised to see that you didn't have the Richie Shaffer in the discussion for the Rays top prospect. Am I overrating Shaffer or underrating Romero and Lee?

Jim Callis: I like Shaffer and had some scouting directors tell me he was the best college offensive prospect in this draft. I just wouldn't put him ahead of Hak-Ju Lee at this point.

    James (Florida): Higher upside CJ Cron or Miles Head?

Jim Callis: Cron. I don't think Head can stay at third base and Cron has more upside with the bat.

    Jason (Austin): Why do you think we are seeing so many high picks sign so early this year? I think going into the August deadline last year less than 10 had signed, and already 13 from this years 1st round have signed.

Jim Callis: It's the new system. Teams thought the pick values were higher than the worth of the players in the first round, and they wanted to pin guys down on what they'd sign for so they could plan their draft budgets around the assigned bonus pools. So most clubs got players to agree to a specific number before the draft, which meant afterward they just had to take physicals and finalize the deals.

    Nate (Maryland): Are you reporting signing bonuses for late rounders in the draft database? For instance, Connor Lien was reported to have signed for $375,000, which would count 275k against the braves bonus pool, but that money isn't reflected in the amount under budget listed.

Jim Callis: We report all bonuses in the first 10 rounds, and all six-figure bonuses afterward, but we confirm them before we post them.

    Ty Buttrey (Charlotte, NC): Jim - first a compliment - LOVE the Draft Database, especially tracking Bonus pool +/- . I'm trying to project if the Sox are saving enough, in order to meet my price, and keep me from going to Arkansas. Please advise if I'm interpreting properly...Sox are currently 617K under budget...have another 300K or so wiggle room, without incurring a penalty...and my slot = 291K. That's about 1.2M that could be directed to me, assuming Sox first five draftees sign at slot maximum. You opinion on whether my accounting is right, and your opinion on whether 1.2M is a good number for both sides, please. (anyone else in those first five drafted ahead of me, that might take less than slot?)

Jim Callis: Fine use of the bonus pool calculator, Fake Ty Buttrey! Your read is correct. I also suspect that 10th-rounder J.T. Watkins' signing (don't have the bonus yet) added at least $100k of room under the cap. Not sure if the Red Sox will save any more money in front of you, but they should be able to pay you $1.3 million or so if they want to.

    Dan (Seattle): With the increase of college seniors being selected in the draft, what are the chances some college juniors just return to school again if they don't like the slot they were drafted in and the money being offered? (i.e. Appel, Marrero)

Jim Callis: No. There weren't more college seniors drafted this year, just more drafted early because they have little leverage and can be signed cheaply, which helps some teams get more out of their bonus pools. The Pirates probably can offer Mark Appel $4 million this year without incurring a draft-pick penalty. It would be hard for any college senior to command $4 million.

    Helen (Denver): Who do you see from the 2012 MLB Draft in Baseball America's Top 50 Mid-Season Prospect List? Thank you

Jim Callis: That list usually comes out right after the Futures Game. In the past, we haven't included current year draftees. Not sure if that will change because the signing deadline has been moved up to the same time. Anyway, if we do include them, I'd say the first eight picks (Correa, Buxton, Zunino, Gausman, Zimmer, Almora, Fried, Appel) would be possibilities. I doubt we'll include all eight, though. My over/under would be four, with Buxton and Correa locks.

    Otab (Toronto): Hey Jim, Great draft coverage. What did you think of the Jays draft? Where would their system rank if they end up signing Matt Smoral and Marcus Stroman? Thanks

Jim Callis: I loved their draft and how aggressive they were. The extra picks helped, sure, but they were also bold. I think they'll get Stroman and Smoral when all is said and done. We ranked the Jays system No. 5 coming into the season and I could see them ranking No. 1 going into next year.

    Sam Kemp (Easton, MD): How much do you think teams will go back and analyze other teams strategies with their bonus pools?

Jim Callis: I think they'll go back and look at them, but there won't be much new to see. There's not a lot of wiggle room with the rules, so to create cap space, you had to load up on cheap signs in rounds 6-10, which a lot of teams did.

    Robert (Califirnia): Jim. Many teams drafted Jr and Sr players in the top 10 rounds and signed them for very low dollars in the 1-5K range. Money was surely saved on these draft picks, but were the picks totally waisted and more importantly, what is the future of the kids thinking they did great by being selected in the first couple of rounds? Were they actually drafted on talent or did they serve as scapegoats for securing money on other players?

Jim Callis: Those picks were sacrificed to create money to sign players who will command bonuses bigger than their pick values. I think the cheap signs had to know what the deal was when they got picked high. To be fair, these guys would have been drafted in the lower rounds as gut-feel guys who area scouts believed in. They just got pushed up so clubs could massage their bonus pools.

    Matt (VA): Do you think the Nats will sign Giolito and if so where will they assign him?

Jim Callis: I already answered the assignment question earlier . . . I honestly have no idea what to expect on Giolito signing. I can't see the Nationals forfeiting draft picks for him, so I think it comes down to whether he'll sign in the neighborhood of $3 million. I just don't know the answer to that question.

    Joe (Denver): Where would you rank Dahl amongst the Rox' top prospects?

Jim Callis: No. 3, behind Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story.

    Dave (Chicago): Strength of the next years draft?

Jim Callis: I think it's comparable to the 2012 crop, which was below average. The college bats aren't anything special (again), and I don't see pitchers to rival the Appel/Gausman/Zimmer trio. There are some interesting high schoolers, but no one lights me up like Buxton, Correa or a healthy Giolito do.

    Kyle (Salem): How does Zunino compare to Grandal when he was drafted? Do you think Z will follow a similar time table?

Jim Callis: I like him a little more offensively and defensively than I liked Grandal at the same stage. I do see a similar timetable, would expect Zunino in Seattle in late 2014/early 2015.

    Muggsy (Minneapolis): Jim, I'm thinking the cap in international signings this year will really level that playing field and make it much more about scouting and development over big money. Is that fair to say?

Jim Callis: Ben Badler is our go-to guy on international matters, but I feel like I know enough to say "Yes" in response to this question.

    Jake (Chicago, IL): Hi Jim, thanks for taking the time to chat today. What is a realistic ETA for Kyle Zimmer in the Majors?

Jim Callis: The best college pitchers usually need at least a season in the minors, so I'd say early 2014 is the soonest realistic ETA.

    Mark (Jonesborough, TN): Do you see Byron Buxton being the Twins CF of the future and how quick do you project him getting there? Also, where do you potentially see him starting out at?

Jim Callis: I do, but he will need time to develop. I wouldn't expect him in Minnesota until mid-2015 at the earliest.

    Andrew (Boston): Did the Twins do the best they could in saving only a small amount in the bonus given to Buxton? I hoped they could save more for other higher round players.

Jim Callis: The Mariners would have gladly paid for the right to draft Buxton at No. 3, so the re wasn't much the Twins could do. With the biggest draft pool ($12.4 million) in baseball, they're not going to have problems finding money to sign guys.

    Josh (Lake Charles, LA): Thanks for the chat. If you were the Astros, in what order would you try to sign these guys: Ruiz, Virant, Hinojosa, and Traver? Which do you see signing?

Jim Callis: Virant, Hinojosa, Ruiz, Traver. Traver tweeted something yesterday about having surgery, so he's out of the mix. Hinojosa is unsignable from everything I've heard. I think they have a shot at at least one of Ruiz and Virant, and maybe they pull off both.

    Dave (Walnut Creek): Did any teams other than the A's view Bruce Maxwell as a 2nd/3rd round talent? What's Maxwell's profile?

Jim Callis: There were at least two other clubs on Maxwell in the second round, so the A's had to take him there to make sure they got him. He has a lot of lefthanded power, and he might be able to catch. Pretty intriguing guy.

I have to run now, but thanks for all the great questions. See you next Wednesday!