Jim Callis Chat: April 13

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Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. We just posted our midseason Draft Top 50 list today (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/draft/news/2011/2611568.html), and the minor league season is in its first week. That should provide us with plenty of chat fodder, so let's get started!

    Ryan (Owasso): I'm going to the Owasso-Broken Arrow game on Friday for the Bundy-Bradley matchup. How many scouts would normally be on hand for a game like that?

Jim Callis: I'll put the over/under at 50. I would think most clubs would have a crosschecker or scouting director in there, who would be accompanied by the area scout. Great matchup. There's another one tonight, when Derek Fisher and Cam Gallagher face off in Pennsylvania.

    JAYPERS (IL): I'm a bit surprised to see Rendon maintain his ranking over Cole. By many accounts, Cole is a future #1-2 SP, with an 80 FB and 65 secondary pitches. Rendon, on the other hand, has been bothering by a lingering shoulder, thus limiting his play in the field, which could conceivably drop him a couple of spots, come draft day. Can you clarify this for us? Thanks Jim.

Jim Callis: The list is based on long-term potential, not their health today. I don't disagree that if the draft were today, the Pirates picking No. 1, might opt for Cole over Rendon, in part because Rendon's shoulder isn't 100 percent. But for the long term, the shoulder is not a concern. His ankle injuries in the past came on fluke plays and aren't concerns either. Rendon and Cole are very close in our minds, very close. As talented as Cole is, we'll take the elite hitter with plus power and Gold Glove defensive skills at third base. You can definitely argue for either, but I don't think it should be a surprise to rank one guy or the other at No. 1.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Does Boca Raton RHP Michael Kelly fit as an option for Reds at 27?

Jim Callis: That's probably a bit rich. Kelly didn't make our midseason Top 50, but he'd be in the next 10-15 guys. That said, I could see a few teams having Kelly as a late first-rounder.

    Joel (Indiana): Since Lindor is the highest rated SS in the draft, how does he project compared to Manny Machado, last year's #1 SS prospect?

Jim Callis: Safer bet to stay at shortstop than Machado, who's already 6-foot-3. (That's not to say that Machado will have to move). Stronger arm. A little less power potential.

    Mr. Must See TV (Parts Unknown): Mets own the 13th pick in the MLB Draft. Do you see Trevor Bauer and Matt Purke dropping to 13? If so, who is a better fit for the Mets? I'm concerned about Bauer's workload - shades of Phil Humber.

Jim Callis: I don't think Bauer will get to No. 13. He's unorthodox, but it's hard to argue with his stuff and results, and he won't need much time in the minors. Unless there are signability issues, I don't think he gets out of the Top 10. If the draft were today, I do think Purke would be available at No. 13. He has been inconsistent, leading some scouts to wonder if there's more going on than blister problems. Some clubs don't like his delivery, and his signability could be very tricky considering he agreed to a $6 million deal out of high school.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Billy Hamilton has 6 SB in 6 games, over/under 100 steals on the year?

Jim Callis: If anyone can do it, it's Hamilton, but I'll still take the under. That's a tough number to reach because stealing that many bases would really beat up his body. If I'm the Reds, I'm more concerned with getting him everyday at-bats and time at shortstop. I know he's going to be able to steal bases. I'd rather have him steal 50-70 and play 130 games.

    Robert (Memphis, TN): I know knothing about Sonny Gray, but I see that he is #4 on the updated prospect list. Fill me in.

Jim Callis: His fastball and curveball are both plus-plus pitches, and he competes as hard as any pitcher in this draft. He's only 5-foot-11, but don't hold his size against him if you're trying to decide whether he can remain a starter.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Does the BA Prospect Hot Sheet make it's return this Friday?

Jim Callis: Yes. Jerry Sands is making a push for the top spot.

    Chad (Franklin, KY): If Sonny Gray hits a growth spurt and goes into the draft at 6'3, is he in the mix with Cole and Rendon for 1/1?

Jim Callis: I'll say no. Cole would still be clearly the top pitching prospect. Sonny isn't doing too bad at 5-foot-11, though.

    Greg (LA): How loud are the "Trout to LA" drumbeats? And how do you feel about Vernon Wells now?

Jim Callis: I feel the same way about Wells as I did before: I wouldn't want my team to be the one paying him all that money. I love Trout as much as the next guy, but he's only 19 and has played one week about high Class A. Let's give him half a season in Double-A, at least, before rushing him to LA.

    Brian (Toledo, OH): With the 8th pick of the 2011 draft, the Cleveland Indians select...?

Jim Callis: It's way too early to know which players teams are zeroing in on. This is just a flat-out guess, but I'll say Dylan Bundy.

    Shelby (Brentwood, TN): How much helium does Vandy LHP Grayson Garvin have right now? Where do you see him be taken?

Jim Callis: He had a terrific summer in the Cape and his having a terrific spring. He's moving up draft boards, likely into the second or third round.

    Billy (Ohio): Is Dillion Howard or Henry Owens the batter H.S pitcher? Do they both figure to be late 1st rounders?

Jim Callis: They're very close. I'll take the lefthander (Owens), and both do look like late first-round talents.

    Dave (Winnetka, IL): Hey Jim, Since Tilson is committed to Illinois (a lackluster collegiate program at churning out MLB players), do you think he is more likely to turn pro? I know the family is high on education, but Illinois?

Jim Callis: A rare chat question asked and answered from Winnetka . . . He's one of the tougher reads in terms of signability, and he doesn't have an adviser as far as I know. I still think he goes high enough in the draft or gets offered a high enough bonus that he winds up signing. We're talking about a potential first-rounder, or at least first-round money.

    Josh G (Stockton, CA): A couple of questions about catchers in the draft: 1-Will Susac's injury push him out of the 1st round and 2-Will Hedges be signable enough to warrant a day 1 pick?

Jim Callis: Susac's injury is not a long-term concern and shouldn't affect his draft status much, other than that clubs won't get further looks at him. Given the scarcity of catching, I bet there are teams willing to take him in the first round. Have not heard much positive about Hedges' signability, and also have heard questions on his bat, so he could drop.

    Andrew (Durham, NC): How much does signability affect your rankings of the high school players?

Jim Callis: Zero. Our rankings, from the start of the season through our final predraft rankings, are based solely on long-term talent and not where their signability or lack thereof may make them go in the draft. Of course, our first-round projections will take signability into account.

    Dan (Work): Thanks for the chat! If the draft were today, would the Pirates essentially be determining the Mariners pick, or is there a chance Seattle would pass on Cole/Rendon.

Jim Callis: In my mind, the Pirates' decision would essentially determine what the Mariners do. However, a team might balk at taking Rendon at No. 1 or 2 today, knowing it will likely cost them a big league contract worth $7.5 million or more and not knowing exactly what is going on with his shoulder.

    Nick (Connecticut): Would you rather have Rafael Soriano or a first round pick in this years draft?

Jim Callis: If I'm the Yankees and my focus is always on winning today? Soriano. They gave up the 31st pick for him. Right now, the 30-32 guys on our midseason Top 50 are John Stilson, Anthony Meo and C.J. Cron. I like all those guys, but give me Soriano. (And yes, I know the Yankees could splurge for an above-slot guy who falls, not that they're been super-aggressive doing that.)

    Nick (Connecticut): As a Phil Hughes fan going back to 04, his velocity right now is troubling. I was wondering what your personal assessment of him would be now and what you think will happen going forward. Love the chats, thanks.

Jim Callis: I'm concerned, but it's too early to panic. If his diminished velocity lingers, then I'm going to worry that he's hurt.

    Stan (Chicago, IL): Whats the word on Pomeranz? He is developing that change to be a 3 pitch guy. And a 92 Lhp is hard to come by...a top of the rotation guy? A

Jim Callis: Even without a great changeup, he has the fastball and curveball to be a frontline starter. There aren't many lefties who can match that 1-2 punch.

    Chris (New York): With Jerry Sands hot start in AAA and the mediocore situation in LF for the Dodgers whats his ETA for the bigs? And what weaknesses does he need to work on to make a greater impact right away?

Jim Callis: The Dodgers need offense, and they won't be able to ignore Sands if he keeps this up. He has a lot more offensive upside than Tony Gwynn Jr.—it's not even close. Sands is a below-average runner who won't be better than an average left fielder, but it's his bat that will carry him.

    Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Could you see Purke, Susac, or Chafin returning to school as juniors and entering the draft into a much weaker class, or are the potential draft changes going to have an impact? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Great question. Teams often fear the extra leverage of a draft-eligible college sophomore, but the possibility of fixed draft slotting for 2012 may mitigate that. I don't see any of them past the sandwich round, so I suspect they'll all sign.

    Norman (San Jose): Is the top 50 list more a ranking of who BA believes will be the best players in the draft, a ranking of draft stock, or both? thank you

Jim Callis: A combination of how valuable BA and the industry believe the players will be in the long term.

    JAYPERS (IL): I'd be curious to know why Noe Ramirez missed your list. What's the story on him, and about which round do you see him getting popped in at present?

Jim Callis: His stuff just isn't as good as the guys on the Top 50. That's no disgrace—it's a great year for pitching. Ramirez, whose best pitch is his changeup, is more of a second/third-rounder. (And just so no one thinks I'm picking on your questions today . . . Happy birthday, JAYPERS.)

    Jason (Austin): Can you give some reasons as to why Taylor Jungmann is rated 13th? I have seen him pitch for 3 years and I would take Jungmann in a game playoff over any of the pitchers ahead of him! As a Freshman in the CWS vs an extremely talented LSU lineup he just dominated them!

Jim Callis: Because this draft is ridiculous. I don't disagree with you—Jungmann is 6-0 in postseason play and I saw that start against LSU in Omaha. This draft is just so loaded that our Top 50 was going to have someone at No. 13 and 14 (it turned out to be Jungmann and Barnes) who would have had a chance to go No. 4 in the 2010 draft.

    Ead (Chicago): Encouraged by Josh Vitters so far? Or is it too soon to tell?

Jim Callis: Too few games to read much into. But I did find myself looking at his stats the other day and think that maybe he is on the way to the breakout year the Cubs swear is coming in 2011.

    JD Sussman (Bullpen Banter): Jim, I like to look at at players in tiers. Assuming that Cole and Rendon are tier one, where does the second tier of players end? Rather, how many players would be a suitable choice for the third overall pick this year?

Jim Callis: That second tier goes down to 13-15 on the Top 50 right now, with Jungmann and Barnes and Purke (if healthy) worth at least being considered for the No. 3 choice.

    Michael (Raleigh NC): Hi Jim. It's the Oakland fan in Raleigh NC. Thanks for your time on this chat. Given the trio of quality Toronto catching prospects (Arencibia, D'Arnaud, Perez), who do you see as the one who becomes the fixture at catcher.

Jim Callis: d'Arnaud, with Perez also a possibility. I just don't have the faith in Arencibia's hitting and receiving ability.

    Jason (Austin): Does anybody have Harper's kind of 80 power in the draft this year?

Jim Callis: No. I think Harper is the best power prospect in draft history. Everyone else can line up behind him.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): How do you think the new college bats have affected the potential draft stock of position players this year? As a whole, do you think teams subconsciously will favor the pitcher this year over the hitter just because the power numbers overall are way down, or will they be well aware of the power sapping bat situation and draft based on previous data and scouting reports?

Jim Callis: Teams know the bats have had a dramatic effect on college baseball this year and are judging the players accordingly.

    Steve (Baltimore): To me this makes too much sense not to be considered- O's trade Jake Arrieta to the Yankees for Montero. The Yankees get a desperately needed young pitcher and the O's stick Montero at 1st and have Miguel Cabrera Jr. Moreover, the Yankees are flush with young catchers and the O's seem to have an abundance of young pitchers. Tell me this wouldn't work.

Jim Callis: Because Montero is significantly more valuable than Arrieta. Montero (as part of a package) almost landed Cliff Lee last summer. The Yankees will use him in that type of a trade rather than for Arrieta. I do like Arrieta, but the Yankees would never make this deal.

    Jim H. (Sphinx Park, CO): We know there's a big gap between Hultzen and Cole/Rendon? How big a gap is there between Hultzen and the people who trail him. What made him #3 from a scouting/upside perspective?

Jim Callis: As I alluded too earlier, I don't think there's much of a gap between Hultzen and No. 13 (Jungmann), No. 14 (Barnes) and No. 15 (Purke, if he's 100 percent).

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Jim, I'm just curious why there seems to be a scouting concensus that Gerrit Cole is a better pitching prospect than Trevor Bauer. Statistically, it is no comparison in Bauer's favor. And from a visual perspective, I watched all of Cole's performances during the tournament last year and I came away unimpressed. He showed little faith in his offspeed pitches, and when he did throw them, they weren't controlled well. He seemed like a 80% fastball throwing pitcher. Outside of body type, why do scouts favor Cole over Bauer?

Jim Callis: Cole's stuff is better this year, with his slider a plus-plus pitch and his changeup at least a plus offering. I think it's fair to say that scouts are more comfortable with Cole's delivery and routines than with Bauer's. At the same time, I don't think scouts think there's a huge gap. Cole is the top pitching prospect in this draft, but Bauer isn't far behind.

    Jason (Jacksonville): If the midseason list is based on long-term potential, and Jed Bradley supposedly has better stuff, what made Danny Hultzen a better prospect in BA's eyes?

Jim Callis: There's more to pitching than pure stuff, not that Hultzen's isn't solid. His command and polish might be the best in the entire draft. We went back and forth on those two, and you certainly could advocate for either.

    Matt (Colorado): Which top 10 draft prospect has the best chance to slide down past the 20th pick.

Jim Callis: Too early to know for sure, but I'll say Bubba Starling. As the top two-sport athlete in this draft, he has to be looking at the bonuses Donavan Tate ($6.25 million) and Zach Lee ($5.25 million) got in the same situation in the last two drafts.

    Eddie (Rice Lake): Jim, thanks for the chat. I always get concerned when I see college hitters like Bryce Brentz, Matt Szczur and Brett Eibner (before he was hurt) start at Low A. It seems like it says they're far less polished than they should be. Is that an issue for you? Is it an issue if they finish the season at Low A?

Jim Callis: Not an issue. Brentz didn't play well in his pro debut, and I'd rather let him get off to a great start. Szczur has less baseball experience than most college players, given his football background. Eibner is just making his pro debut. It would be an issue if they spend an entire year in low Class A and put up mediocre numbers.

    james (plano,tx): Why does baseballamerica keep saying Purke agreed to a $6m bonus out of high school? A friend of mine works for the rangers and he said that Purke agreed to a $4m deal and then the rangers had to drop that to $2m when MLB objected. On another note how much helium does kyle winkler have and are there any other TCU players you that BA predicts in rounds 1-3? thanks

Jim Callis: Nolan Ryan has said publicly that he and Purke's dad agreed before the draft to a $6 million bonus. Winkler has helium and could be a sandwich-rounder. Jason Coats hasn't live up too expectations after a banner summer, but he'll still go in the first 2-3 rounds. Taylor Featherston could sneak in there too.

    Matt (DC): Jim, maybe I'm wrong, but Danny Hultzen's draft stock seems to have shot through the roof because he's seen as a guy who could probably step into a big league rotation next year as a # 3/4 starter. Does he have the upside as a 1/2 guy, or is liked more because he seems like a sure thing?

Jim Callis: He's one of the surer things in the draft, but I'll disagree with the other two points. He'll get to the majors fast, but next year is a stretch. And most important, he profiles as a No. 2 starter.

    El Chompiras (City of Angels): Who plays CF for the Angels Trout or Bourjos when both are in the bigs?

Jim Callis: Bourjos, if he hits enough to keep the job. He's a potential Gold Glover. Trout can play a good center field, but Bourjos is a better defender.

    Mike (Ohio): What's keeping Nick Tropeano from making the top 50 draft prospects list? What round do you see him going in?

Jim Callis: He has one of the best changeups in the college ranks but as I mentioned with Noe Ramirez, Tropeano's stuff is not on the same level as the arms who are on the Top 50. I see Tropeano as a third- to fifth-rounder.

    Pauly (Sayreville, NJ): Which of the better draft prospects are being advised by the Boras Corp?

Jim Callis: That stable includes Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Bubba Starling, Jackie Bradley, Josh Bell, Dillon Howard, Brian Goodwin, Alex Meyer, Austin Hedges and Jason Esposito from our Top 50 list.

    Chris (Alabama): Is BA planning on sending out the daily Prospect Report with stats from the previous night of minor league baseball action?

Jim Callis: We've been doing it since spring training. Go here to sign up: http://www.baseballamerica.com/e-mail/

    Chris (Pittsburgh): As a Pirates fan, it kind of depresses me to think that I don't have much room to speculate with your rankings because after choosing (likely) Rendon or Cole, the Bucs don't have another pick in the top 50 because of the ridiculous number of compensation picks. Is there any chance that will be addressed in the new CBA?

Jim Callis: A chance, but from experience, I've seen plenty of draft changes that were supposed to be part of new CBAs and they go by the wayside. If I were the czar of baseball, I'd severely limit or do away with free-agent compensation. None of how it works does what it was designed to do.

    David (Tempe): If Rendon slips to #3, would the Diamondbacks be stupid for passing on him because they drafted Davidson and Borchering two years ago (even though both may move off 3b)?

Jim Callis: If he's at three, they should pounce on him. Davidson and Borchering aren't going to be able to stay at third base, but even if they could, they shouldn't pass on Rendon.

    Jason (Jacksonville): Please compare/contrast these three lefties: Drew Pomeranz, Danny Hultzen, Jed Bradley. Thanks.

Jim Callis: Pomeranz has the most devastating pitch (knuckle-curve), Bradley has the best all-around repertoire and Hultzen has the most polish. All very comparable, could argue them in any order.

    Nick (Montreal): Jim, Tom Milone has been nothing but great since being drafted by the Nats. Why hasn't there been much more hype about him? I'm I missing something?

Jim Callis: He has put up nice numbers, but he usually pitches at 85-87 mph. Wouldn't surprise me if he pitches his way to Washington, but I don't see him becoming a key piece of the Nationals' future.

    JAYPERS (IL): At the beginning of the season, you rated this draft a "65" on the 20-80 scale. Has that changed at all since, and if so, what would it grade today?

Jim Callis: I'm torn. I think the draft looks even better, with most of the top guys living up to expectations and guys like Taylor Guerrieri emerging. But I'm a stingy grade and reluctant to go to 70. Definitely has potential to become a 70 or 75 draft in the long run if a lot of these guys pan out.

    Chris (Northern Virginia): Hello Jim, thanks for the chat. I was curious to hear your current thoughts on DiceK. My main question is, what the heck happened to him? I recall him being very, very highly regarded when he came over. Do you attribute his lesser-than-expected performance on too much initial hype? injury? 5 man rotations? I just can't believe how bad he looked the other night. Thanks, as always, Jim.

Jim Callis: I too thought he'd be a superstar. He clearly was overhyped, but I think more significant problems were adapting to a 5-day rotation, his lack of work ethic and a maddening inability to trust his stuff.

    Daniel (Indian Trail, NC): How do you see the line of succession taking place for SS in Atlanta? With Lipka, Pastornicky, Simmons, and Salcedo all being SS, we have suddenly become over-stocked on potential middle IF. Do you see one or more outgrowing the position, and do they play Pastornicky there first and then slowly creep the others in and use him as trade bait later?

Jim Callis: Funny how those deals can work out. Lipka and Salcedo aren't locks to stay at shortstop and Simmons' bat is something of an unknown quantity. I think Pastornicky gets their first, and the Braves will see how the others develop.

Jim Callis: I could talk abut the draft and prospects all day, but I have a column to write and draft prep to get back to. See you again next Wednesday!