Jim Callis Chat: March 23

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    Jacob (Tacoma, WA): With residual effects stemming from the 2008 Alvarez contract situation, what are the chances that those evils are still swarming within the Pirates front-office and the chances Pirates opt for a non-Boras client such as Lindor instead of Rendon or Cole? Thanks Jim! Love the chats.

Jim Callis: None at all. I wouldn't say that the Pirates love the Boras Corp., but they aren't go to shy away from the two best players in the draft because or their advisor.

    Nick (Connecticut): Dellin Betances was up in the zone for the most part this spring. If a team with a top line pitcher asked for him or Banuelos in a trade which of the two would you give up?

Jim Callis: I'd want to hold onto Banuelos. He's lefthanded, he's more polished and I'm still not sold that Betances won't be a reliever in the long run.

    Mike (Naples, Florida): Rizzo, Sands, Cox In what order would you rank them and why?

Jim Callis: Cox, Rizzo, Sands. I think Cox is the best all-around hitter and he plays the best defensive position. I'll take Rizzo over Sands because he's two years younger and I like his offensive potential better.

    Greg (Pittsburgh): Can Billy Hamilton be trusted to emerge as an elite prospect and how does he compare to Dee Gordon?

Jim Callis: Not sure how to measure degrees of trust, but Hamilton has the tools to become an elite prospect. There are some similarities to Gordon. Both can fly and both need to get physically stronger. Hamilton is maybe a half-step quicker, and Gordon has a better chance to stick at shortstop.

    Joel (KCK): Thanks for the chats Jim!!! Please, please, please lay something to rest for me. Is it true that Yu Darvish plans on being posted and playing in the MLB after the 2011 season? Or like usual, is this just speculation from Yankee hopefuls and bloggers? I've heard he could be as far as three to four years away from coming to America. Thanks again!

Jim Callis: Can't lay it to rest. I don't think anyone really knows when Darvish is going to get posted, hence all the speculation.

    Ryan (here): What's your assessment on Danny Hultzen? I hear that Arizona is all over him. However, is he really that good? To me he sounds like a number three, and I never believed that a number three should be picked in the top ten, especially when there would be higher upside arms (such as Bradley and Barnes) still on the board. What do you think?

Jim Callis: It's a great year for pitching, with maybe 15-20 arms who normally would factor into the upper half of the first round. Hultzen doesn't light up a radar gun like most of those other guys do, but I wouldn't sell him short. With his ability to pitch and the quality of his secondary pitches—not to mention he's lefthanded—he could be a No. 2 starter. Even before he began his dominant junior season, there were teams who thought he was a top-five talent. It's going to be hard to separate all of the pitchers after Cole.

    SMK (Boston): Rubby de la Rosa has been impressive throughout the spring. What are your personal thoughts on him and what is his ultimate upside?

Jim Callis: He's one of the few pitchers around who can hit triple digits. His upside is as a No. 2 starter, but I think it's more likely he becomes a closer. He needs to be more consistent with his secondary pitches and command—like a lot of young pitchers.

    Herbert (Omaha): Will Arizona pick Bubba Starling? He seems to be the highest upside bat in the draft. Also, they could spread his bonus out over five years instead of all up front. Is a taller version of Justin Upton a good comparison for him? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Too early to know who goes where. After Donavan Tate got $6.25 million and Zach Lee got $5.25 million, Starling figures to get something in the same range, so that price tag could cause him to slide who knows where. There are some similarities to Upton—Starling stands out a little more for his athleticism, while Upton had a little more dynamic bat.

    Max (Austin, TX): Yesterday in the college chat there was a 20-80 scale analysis of Jungman. Can you do the same for Sonny Gray? Is he in the mix for #3 behind Rendon and Cole?

Jim Callis: Projected 70 fastball, 70 curveball, 50 changeup, 55 command, 55 delivery. Yes, he could go as high as No. 3.

    Rachel (Toronto): How concerned are you with Purke? He's has a low arm slot, not taking advantage of his height. His velocity has also been down a little. His slider has been plus, but how has his change up looked?

Jim Callis: The arm slot is nothing new, and he hasn't been 100 percent this season. Still plenty of time to recover before the draft. I think teams are reserving judgment and will see how he looks in May. He's still going to go high in the draft, but the big three coming into the year (Rendon, Cole, Purke) is now a big two (Rendon, Cole).

    Dan (Chicago): Better career ? T. Becham,D. Tate, A.Hicks

Jim Callis: Aaron Hicks. The other two guys might go down as two of the most expensive busts in draft history.

    Marc (Vancouver): Who do you like more, Freddie Freeman or Logan Morrison? And is it fair to compare either/both to Conor Jackson before he got sick?

Jim Callis: Logan Morrison, but it's close. That Jackson comparison is fair—I thought he was going to be better than he turned out.

    Adam (Arizona): When can we expect your first mock draft version?

Jim Callis: Mid-May. That will be the first of four mock drafts before the real thing happens.

    Mateo (again) (Boston (again)): If Starlin Castro were eligible (lest we forget he is only 20), would he be the top SS prospect ahead of Manny Machado? Where would Castro rank overall?

Jim Callis: Given the scarcity of stud shortstops, Castro would have to rank in the top five overall prospects. Assuming he hadn't hit .300 as a rookie last year and tore up Triple-A instead, I think he'd have to rank as the game's best shortstop prospect too.

    Mike (Virginia): With Rendon still unable to play 3rd base it looks like Cole is becoming a stronger candidate to go 1-1 to the Pirates. How does Cole's stuff compare to Taillon?

Jim Callis: It's not like Rendon won't be able to play third base—a very good third base—in the future, so that's not really a factor. Cole has enhanced his chances of going 1-1 by showing great stuff every time out this spring. He and Taillon have comparable fastballs and breaking balls, but Cole's changeup is significantly better.

    Chris (S.I.N.Y): Who makes the biggest impact in the big leagues this season. Gibson, Drabek, Pineda, Britton, McGee or Banuales?

Jim Callis: I think Gibson. Britton may be the best prepared to succeed right now, but he's on a bad team. Banuelos is intriguing, but the Yankees are going to limit him to 140 or so innings, so he may not get a ton of big league starts.

    Robert (NYC): Is there a possibility Matt Purke falls to the Mets at 13 in the draft?

Jim Callis: That would surprise me, but it's no impossible considering how many quality pitchers are available, his slow start and the fact that the Rangers were willing to pay him $6 million out of high school may cloud his signability.

    CB (SLC, UT): Thanks for the chat Jim. Who are some sleepers in the Giants organization that we should keep our eyes on this year? What do you think of Chuckie Jones?

Jim Callis: Chuckie Jones is a good sleeper. Also keep an eye on Mike Kickham, Heath Hembree and Jake Dunning.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): With the Mets total lack of any decent second baseman at the major league level, how far away do you see Reese Havens, and how healthy is he? The guy can really hit, and if he is at all in any shape to play what is there to stop him from a quick rise to Citi Field?

Jim Callis: He just needs to stay healthy. I've liked Havens since he played well in the Cape Cod League, and he has 26 HR and 80 BB in 152 pro games. He's the future at second base for the Mets, and when he's ready (soon if he stays healthy), Brad Emaus and Co. won't stand in his way.

    Elaine (Antigo, WI): Whose tools do you like better, Starling or Springer? Which one do you like better? What grades would you give each tool for each player? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Starling, better chance to hit. That said, Springer's tools are so impressive that I still think he goes in the first 10 picks despite his tepid spring so far.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Dave Sappelt is hitting .545 this spring after hitting over .360 as a 23 year old in AA and .314 in over 100 AAA at bats. What does his hit tool grade out as, can his 10-15 HR power in the minors translate to the bigs, and why on earth are the Red starting defensively challenged Johnny Gomes in left field instead?

Jim Callis: I can't speak as to what the Reds see in Gomes, but Sappelt looks more like a fourth outfielder than a regular to me. He has fringy power and profiles as a regular only if he can stick in center rather than on a corner. He's a solid hitter, but I wouldn't read too much into that .361 average in Double-A.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Zack Cozart has had a solid spring for the Reds and his bat has steadily improved since being drafted. If he can continue the 15-20 HR power he showed last year what kind of big leaguer can he be?

Jim Callis: Gets the job done at shortstop and has more power than most at the position. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he emerges over Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria as the Reds' starter at short before the end of the season.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Would you consider Trevor Bauer worthy of being picked in the top 10?

Jim Callis: Some years, perhaps. This year, more 11-25. There just are so many quality pitchers out there.

    Bart (Boston): The Red Sox seem to think that Felix Dubront will be a solid major league starting pitcher. However, I have never seen him in any top 100 prospect lists. What abilities does he lack that prevents him from being a top prospect?

Jim Callis: He has solid-average rather than plus stuff, which is why he hasn't gotten a lot of hype. But his curveball made a lot of strides last year, and he's a lefty with four effective pitches, so he potentially could become a No. 3 starter.

    JAYPERS (IL): Jim, I've read recently that Mike Foltynewicz has been working out with Lancaster's roster. Are the Astros seriously considering jumping him straight from Rookie Ball to the hitter friendly CAL? Didn't they learn their lesson already with Ross Seaton? And would you concur with this move if it turns out to be true?

Jim Callis: Lancaster is such a terrible pitcher's park that I'd rather do what the Astros did when they fast-tracked Jordan Lyles: let him spend his first full year in low Class A, then jump him to Double-A. Lancaster might be the least desirable affiliate out there because of the way the park plays.

    Kirk (Orange County): I know spring training stats don't mean much, but Peter Bourjos has been outstanding; showing a better batting eye (7BB), expected speed (4SB), and even some nice pop. Do you see him holding off Trout all year and becoming the CF of the future for the Angels, moving Trout to a corner?

Jim Callis: He's so good defensively that he just has to hold his own with the bat to be a regular. If he can do that, he will push Trout to a corner.

    Ron (Toronto): Hi Jim, Does Sheppers have the skillset to close in Texas if Feliz is made a starter?

Jim Callis: Yes. Maybe not on Opening Day, though. Has the stuff, needs better command to be a big league closer. Long-term health remains the biggest question.

    Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Who is the second best pitcher in the draft?

Jim Callis: Great question. Best pure pitcher, I'd say Danny Hultzen. Best pitching prospect, I'm torn between Hultzen and Gray and I'm probably not giving enough credit to the high school crop.

    Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Best 1-2 draft punch. Strasburg and Ackely, Harper and Taillon, or Rendon and Cole?

Jim Callis: Cole and Rendon.

    Andy (Cleveland, OH): Loved watching the Chiz-kid this spring. When can we reasonably expect to see him play for the Tribe fulltime?

Jim Callis: By midseason. No reason to start his arbitration clock ticking before then, though Chisenhall already is Cleveland's best option at third base.

    Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): How much has Taylor Guerrieri raised his draft stock? Is top 10 a stretch?

Jim Callis: He has raised it a ton. Top 10 is not a total stretch, though will be hard to pull off with all of the pitching in this draft. I know I keep saying that.

    Speedy Gonzalez (Mexico): Who wins in a foot race - Jennings, Trout or Hamilton?

Jim Callis: That would be a fine race. I think the order would be Hamilton, Trout, Jennings.

    Kenny (Seattle, WA): Does Nick Franklin remain in the infield for the next few years, or do you see him eventually moving to an OF spot?

Jim Callis: He'll be an infielder. He may have to move off shortstop, but there's no reason he can't be good at second base. I think he winds up at second base and Ackley winds up in the outfield or at first base.

    Brent (Appleton): Billy Butler, James Loney, Gaby Sanchez, Daric Barton, Derrek Lee, and Ike Davis all hit under 20 HR in 500+ AB last year. Which (if any) of these 1st basemen do you think will clear 25 homers this season?

Jim Callis: Ike Davis.

    Frankie (Naperville, IL): Your quote: "No owner is stingier when it comes to draft spending than Jerry Reinsdorf, and no GM is as willing to trade prospects for veterans as Kenny Williams." - Why do you suppose this is?

Jim Callis: With Williams, I think it's just that he burns to win today and he's willing to trade a piece of tomorrow to do it. With Reinsdorf, he's a staunch advocate of the slotting system and makes his club adhere to it.

    William (Scarborough (ON)): Would you agree that the Jays farm system is the most improved from this year to the last?

Jim Callis: No question.

    Brandon (Modesto): Who has the highest ceiling between: Brandon Belt, Devin Mesoraco, George Springer and Bubba Starling? Who is the most likely to reach it.

Jim Callis: Starling has the highest ceiling. Belt is the most likely to reach his.

    Walt (Newport Beach): Jim - thanks for the chat. I suggested this idea to a friend over drinks last night, and it still seems feasible this morning, even if too aggressive for 99% of GMs. I was wondering if you thought it had any merit. Why take the risk of trying to develop frontline pitchers without injury? Why not allocate all draft, international and minor league resources to position players while building your pitching staff with free agents and trades for established big leaguers with a clean medical history?

Jim Callis: Because it would be too expensive if you had to buy all your pitching. Even if you had the Yankees' budget, it would be impossible because most teams don't let good pitchers even get to free agency. You also would need a bunch of pitchers to fill out your minor league affiliates, too.

    Ryan D. (Moorpark, CA): The Twins are ranked 12. They have solid pitchers in Gibson, Wimmers, Hendricks, but no one who is going to blow you away on the mound with ace stuff. Hicks has spent two consecutive years in Beloit. Who do you think is a sleeper in this organization? Even though he won minor league player of the year for the Twins (therefore, may not be a sleeper), I feel Joe Benson has the best ability to get to the bigs and impress.

Jim Callis: Benson does have impressive tools, and even made our Top 100 Prospects list. The Twins have several sleepers. OF Eddie Rosario, SS Niko Goodrum, RHP Carlos Guttierez, RHP Dakota Watts, among others.

    Zeke (Denver, CO): The rumors that the Yankees will have Austin Romine in the majors instead of Jesus Montero are at least a little crazy, right? Would it really be so hard to find enough at bats for Montero between Catcher, First Base, and Designated Hitter to keep his bat developing? And on the other hand, is there really any reason to believe that Romine can hit major league pitchers right now?

Jim Callis: Romine is better than Montero defensively, but I agree. I don't think Romine is ready to hit in the majors, and Montero's bat is too valuable to waste in Triple-A.

    Jim (Granger, IN): Hi, Jim. How would you rank Jacob Turner, Shelby Miller, Jake Odorizzi and Matt Harvey in terms of A) Ceiling and B) Likelihood to reach that ceiling? Thank you, Jim

Jim Callis: Ceiling: Miller, Turner, Harvey, Odorizzi. Likelihood: Miller, Turner, Odorizzi, Harvey.

    Tony (Chicago): I read an article on espn that said rendon could fall to the cubs at 9. Any chance that happens

Jim Callis: Zero, barring a career-altering injury. A college position player with Rendon's tools and skills won't get close to No. 9.

    Mr. Must See TV (Winning): Duda, F-Mart or Puello - Which Mets OF will have a brighter MLB career? And why?

Jim Callis: Puello. He has the best overall tools and most upside of the bunch. Much better chance to be a big league regular than Duda (all-bat guy without a ton of power) or Martinez (looks like more of a fourth outfielder these days).

    Bret (Jed Bradley): Jed Bradley seems to be shooting up the draft ranks since the start of the college season. The read I'm getting is that not only does he have top-of-the-rotation upside, but that he'd rise fast through a farm system to. Is that a fair read? How high do you think he could go at the moment.

Jim Callis: He's another one of the many quality pitchers available. Not sure he's really shooting up the ranks—one team told me before the season it would take him over any pitcher at that point, including Cole.

    Will (Boston): Jim, who do you see possessing the most offensive potential out of the recent highly regarded high school aged kids such as Nick Castellanos, Christian Yelich, Oswaldo Arcia, Jurickson Profar, and Garin Cecchini? Who has the highest floor? Finally, who stands the best shot to reach that upside?

Jim Callis: Ceiling: Castellanos. Floor: Cecchini. Most likely to reach upside: Castellanos (you really could pick any of them for this one).

    Jon (Madison): Previous reports had South Carolina's Jackie Bradley Jr.'s defense in center field among the best at the position in the last few years. Now, this week, I read at another prominent site that the writer was "hearing doubts" about Bradley's ability to stay in center. What are your thoughts?

Jim Callis: I haven't heard any scouts really question this. His speed grades as average, but he plays above his speed because his instincts are exceptional. Will he be a Gold Glover? I wouldn't go that far. But he should be able to play center field.

    James (Lynnwood, WA): Is Gerrit Cole the new #1 favorite to be picked 1st overall or is it still a close race between Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole??

Jim Callis: Still a close race, and I'd call them co-favorites. If the draft we held today, I'd bet on Cole going No. 1.

    Josh (Cal): Do you think that Darwin Barney can hit enough this season to be the starting second baseman for the Cubs? His glove is really opening some eyes in Arizona so far.

Jim Callis: He won't put up big numbers, but I could see him hitting along the lines of .275/.320/.370. Not great, but coupled with his defense, that might make him the best option for the Cubs.

    Tony (Albuquerque): How high does Bryce Harper make it this year?

Jim Callis: I think he'll split the minor league season between low A and high A. Because he's already on the 40-man roster, the Nationals almost assuredly will call him up in September.

    Jeff (texas): what prospect in the astros system not named lyles most intrigues you?

Jim Callis: DeShields and Villar. Both need a lot of polish, but it's hard not to love their up-the-middle tools.

    mike (orlando): why are you so high on Szczur when others (specifically, Law & Goldstein) are not?

Jim Callis: Not sure what they don't like—you'd have to ask them. From my perspective, while he hasn't played much yet, he's a potential 6-7 bat, 4-5 power, 8 speed, 6-7 defender with tremendous makeup. Sign me up for more of those.

    Bart (Boston): If Ranaudo returned to school and pitched like he did in the Cape League, about where would he go in this year's draft?

Jim Callis: Somewhere in the top 10. But as I've said, there's a lot of quality pitching available.

    Dan (Work): Why are so many people talking like Purke is having a bad spring? 0.47 ERA, .171 BAA, nearly 5:1 K to BB ratio, 0 HRs allowed, what am I missing?

Jim Callis: Stuff hasn't been as good as it was last year, and he hasn't pitched deep into games because of blister issues. That said, I agree, I wouldn't call his performance "bad."

    Grant (Wpg): Who's the second best position prospect in the draft? Still Springer?

Jim Callis: Might be Andrew Susac or Francisco Lindor.

    Jason (KC): Hey Jim, I was wondering if you could shine some light on the issue of slot bonus as it pertains to the next CBA. I keep hearing that a hard slot system will go in to combat the rising costs of draft bonuses. However, I can't imagine the Player's Union being okay with this and small market teams have made use of this system to get talent that has dropped due to bonus demands. So who is advocating for this idea?

Jim Callis: MLB and the owners want this. Union leadership isn't excited about the idea of hard slotting, but the thinking is that the owners will make it worth the players' while (via higher minimum salaries, reduced/eliminated free-agent compensation, increased arbitration eligibility, better benefits or something else along these lines) to make it happen. I think MLB is unprepared for the unintended consequences, mainly that it will make it impossible for small-revenue teams to compete and it will also lead to a talent drain, especially in the short term, for baseball. It won't save that much money anyway, and MLB teams will just expend the savings somewhere else.

    Ron (San Francisco): Starling is not the second best positional prospect?

Jim Callis: Good catch. I read that question as "after Rendon and Starling" for some reason. Rendon and Starling are the top two position prospects.

Jim Callis: I have to run now. Thanks for all the good questions!