Jim Callis Chat: July 6

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    Jeff (STL): When can we expect a mid-season Top Prospect list? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Never know when my phone might ring, so let's get this chat started a few minutes early . . . Jeff, we are working on the midseason Top 50 and hope to have it finalized by this afternoon so it can go in the issue that goes to print tomorrow. Should appear online very quickly as well. I have a rough version of a personal Top 50 I'm working off of, and I'll be happy to share my own rankings in this chat.

    Norman (San Jose): at midseason, have any players moved up significantly in your top 100 prospects?

Jim Callis: I took a wait-and-see attitude on Cardinals righthander Carlos Martinez on my personal Top 100 coming into the season, but I'm not waiting any longer. He, Brad Peacock (Nationals) and Taijuan Walker (Mariners) are the pitchers who have jumped the most in my estimation. I also was trying to be conservative on Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur, and I've got him No. 44 on my personal Top 50 right now. Also buying into Padres third baseman Jedd Gyorko.

    M.H. (Rochester, NY): How much more can Collin Cowgill and Trayvon Robinson do to warrant call-ups?

Jim Callis: They just have to keep putting up numbers and wait for the call. Remember, though, that the PCL really boosts hitting stats, so you have to put their performance in context. Nice year for Cowgill, but he's really more of a fourth outfielder than a regular. And the 20 homers for Robinson make him look more like a slugger than he will be in the majors.

    Jeff (STL): Which Stanford 2012 draftee ranks higher in your eyes - Appel or Diekroeger?

Jim Callis: Appel. I know the new bats helped him and hurt Diekroeger, but I'm not completely sold that Diekroeger stays at shortstop and he had 11 extra-base hits in 56 games this year.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Were you surprised at Harper getting bumped two levels? At his present rate, do you see him possibly getting a taste of DC in September?

Jim Callis: Yes and no. Yes, because I thought the logical step would be high Class A, and no, because he seems to be able to handle anything. The Nationals continue to insist they won't promote him in September, but he's already on the 40-man roster, so I wouldn't rule out a callup.

    bowen (taiwan): hi, Jim. need your opinion on David Cooper and Eric Thames.

Jim Callis: I think Cooper is the better pure hitter and Thames has more power. Most of the value with both guys comes with their bats. Don't quite buy that Cooper will have enough pop to be a regular at first base. Thames has a better chance to be a regular, but I'm not sure he's a first-division regular.

    Nick (NJ): Thanks for the chat, Jim. Jeurys Familia has been a nice, somewhat-surprising story for the Mets this year. Is he a top 100 prospect in your eyes? Close to it?

Jim Callis: Nice progress this year, but he's still more reliever than starter to me and I have a tough time putting bullpen guys on the Top 100.

    Frank (Chicago): I'm still scratching my head at TB's decision to acquire Matt Torra from AZ and to assign him to AAA when Moore certainly seems to be worthy of a bump to Durham. Your thoughts?

Jim Callis: Not really related moves. Torra is just filler, and Moore certainly could jump from Double-A to the majors if needed. Torra isn't blocking Moore—if the Rays want to move Moore to Triple-A, they'll push Torra aside if needed.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Which Rockies' prospect has impressed you more this season - Wheeler or Arenado? Could either get a September callup, according to your crystal ball?

Jim Callis: Arenado is the better propsect, but Wheeler has rebounded after floundering a year ago and has had a more impressive season. Can't see Arenado getting a callup from high A. Wheeler doesn't have to be protected on the 40-man yet and the Rockies are getting good production on their outfield corners, so you probably won't see him either this year.

    Steve (Huntington Beach): What is it about Shelby Miller's fastball that is so unhitable? Seems like there are plenty of guys who can get it up around 94 95, but for some reason his is just dominating and he does it without mixing in a ton of off speed stuff.

Jim Callis: The life on his fastball is better than his velocity, and the combination of the two make it unhittable.

    Anthony (Boonville, IN): Jim, I'm going to ask something that's on the minds of many. What's left for Drew Pomeranz to prove for him to earn a promotion? Thanks!

Jim Callis: I guess the command could be a little better, but there's not really much more for Pomeranz to prove in high A. I bet he gets promoted to Double-A in the near future.

    RichieP (Boston, MA): Mets' LHP Chase Huchingson - do you happen to know anything about him? The Mets have limited his innings of late, hence the relief appearances, but hes been fantastic for Savannah all season: 10.49 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, 1.85 ERA.

Jim Callis: He has a solid fastball and fringy secondary pitches. I think those numbers are more a reflection of deception than quality stuff.

    Nick (Mass): Xander Bogaerts is getting a ton of hype lately. Are you buying into it and is he a SS longterm?

Jim Callis: Yes. Ran him up my Red Sox Top 30 in the offseason and he's doing a nice job for an 18-year-old in low Class A. He has one of the best bats in the Boston system. He will outgrow shortstop, however, and probably wind up at third base.

    Kyle (Canada): Has your opinion of Drew Hutchison changed since the start of the season? He's throwing harder, and the results have been fantastic. Does this success in the low minors raise his ceiling? His floor? Or both?

Jim Callis: Yes. I'm a believer. Not ready to put him with the very best pitching prospects in the minors, but he has a plus fastball and slider to go with a solid changeup and throws strikes at will.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Which player(s) are you most looking forward to seeing at the Futures game?

Jim Callis: Probably too many too list. I've never seen Bryce Harper in person, so that should be fun. Carlos Martinez. Jurickson Profar. Looking forward to seeing how much progress Tim Beckham has made, too.

    Matt (NJ): Jim, where does profar rank now among current prospects with his surprise power so far this year? Is he the best SS prospect in the minors besides Machado?

Jim Callis: Profar continues to impress and he has grown into more of his offensive potential this year. I have him ranked 14th overall, second among shortstops behind Machado, who I have at No. 7.

    Roger (Washington, DC): Surkamp with 102K, 27 BB in 90 IP with 1.61 ERA. He's looking more and more like a future successful major league 4/5 starter, no? Also, are Hembree's BBs as big a red flag as his Ks are a green flag?

Jim Callis: I agree on Surkamp. Not a huge ceiling, but he's lefthanded and keeps succeeding. Not even sure it's fair to call him a sleeper any longer. That's a little harsh on Hembree. The way I would put it is that his ability to become a big league closer depends on his ability to improve his control and command. But he still can be a setup man with less than exemplary control/command—his arm is that good.

    Eric Silver (Atlanta Georgia): What are your thoughts on Jacob Turner?

Jim Callis: Everything is coming along nicely. He's having no problems in Double-A at age 20, and he could have three plus pitches when all is said and done. We'll see him in Detroit at some point in 2012.

    Roger (Washington DC): If Francisco Peguero develops 15-18 HR power (5 in 28 games this year), how good of a prospect does he become? Good enough to be a starting RF in majors?

Jim Callis: He's already a good prospect who projects as a starting RF. Solid bat, solid power, good speed and defensive tools.

    Dave (Syracuse): Any word on Jean Segura? He hasn't played in well over a month now.

Jim Callis: Hamstring problems. Not sure when he's supposed to return. It's a shame, because he's one of the best middle-infield prospects in the game, but shouldn't affect his long-term value.

    Jason (Charlotte): I'm looking forward to seeing Teheran pitch tonight ! Should I expecte him to not to be the #1 pitcher on the midseason list and #2 overall to Harper

Jim Callis: Sounds like fun. I have Harper at No. 2 and Trout at No. 1, but I'm sure the BA consensus list will have them reversed. I have Teheran No. 3 on my list, as the top pitcher, but there could be some Matt Moore support from other corners of BA. Will know more after our afternoon meeting!

    Dustin (Canada): Do you like Travis D'arnaud or Devin Mesoraco long term?

Jim Callis: I like d'Arnaud just a little bit better, just believe in his all-around tools a little bit more. Have them both in my top 25.

    Greg (NY): Any Mets you consider a top 50 prospect? Who would be the closest? Thanks!

Jim Callis: Matt Harvey was 38th on my initial list, and I may have to move him up a few more spots.

    Sam (Texas): Did Perez, Profar and Leonys Martin make your Top 50 list?

Jim Callis: Yes, yes and yes. Put them all in my Top 25.

    Landon (Kelowna, BC): Is Brett Lawrie a top 5 prospect in your midseason top 50?

Jim Callis: Not quite . . . I had him at No. 8. I've always believed in the bat, and he's found a nice defensive home at third base.

    Steve (Seattle): Am I crazy to think that Anthony Rendon might not sign with Washington? Seems like his stocked dropped a lot and he could be a potential #1 pick next year with improved power and health.

Jim Callis: I'd be shocked if Rendon doesn't sign. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Scott Boras cut big draft deals all the time, and Rendon will be paid handsomely. I still would take him over anyone in the 2011 draft.

    raymond (New York): Hi Jim, thanks for the chat. why does MLB give teams hassles if they want to sign draftees above slot in June or July, but on 8/15 (Yanks, Red Sox,Pirates) it is okay to agree to absurd bonuses ? how does that keep bonuses down ? thanks for your reply

Jim Callis: You read my mind . . . just wrote a column on this. It's OK for the Rangers to drop $8.5 million on two Dominican outfielders (which I have no problem with), but teams have to wait two-plus months to pay their draftees. It's stupid and short-sighted. Delaying signings doesn't keep bonuses down, either, because everyone has a pretty good idea of what guys are going to sign for.

    frank white (brooklyn): kyle seager eta? he's been rakin since AAA callup and figgins looks done. can he play 3B in majors? or is 2B in '12 more likely with ackley going to LF?

Jim Callis: He could be up any day now. I think Seager's bat profiles better at 2B (and Ackley's glove profiles better in the OF), but Seager can get the job done at 3B and be an upgrade over Figgins.

    Navin (Pasadena, CA): With Brett Jackson scuffling at AA, would you rate Szczur or Baez (when he signs) as the Cubs top prospect? Thank you!

Jim Callis: Jackson was off to a very good start before he got hurt. I'd still give him the nod over Szczur, but it's close. I'd go Jackson, Szczur, Baez for now.

    Nils (Stamford): Hi Jim, Austin Kirk's no hitter this week seemed to put his already good season on the radar. Is he this good or are we looking at more a case of smoke and mirrors?

Jim Callis: Nice accomplishment, but I still see him more as a reliever in the majors. He's 21, which isn't young for low A, he's not very projectable at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, and his stuff is fringy to average. He's lefthanded and throws strikes, which helps.

    Mike (ATL): What are the ceilings for Randall Delgado and Aroldis Vizcaino, assuming they both stay healthy.

Jim Callis: Vizcaino has moved ahead of Delgado . . . Vizcaino is a potential No. 2, Delgado a potential No. 3.

    Parker (Denver): Assuming he can remain healthy, do you still have Heyward ahead of Stanton?

Jim Callis: Yes, I do. Stanton will have more power, but Heyward will have plenty of power and hit for a much higher average (and have a better OBP).

    Tom (Chicago): The Cubs have yet to sign any of their top 15 draft picks. What are your thoughts? Are they signing them to overslot bonuses which is holding up the announcements?

Jim Callis: I don't think it means anything—they'll sign their share of their top picks. Rumors are that Zeke DeVoss (third round) is on the verge of signing. None of the early first-rounder has signed yet, so don't worry about Javier Baez, and second-rounder Dan Vogelbach was seeking $1.65 million. Fourth-rounder Tony Zych fell further than expected, so he'll probably be over-slot too.

    Ryan (Baltimore): What tier of pitching prospects does Dylan Bundy fit with? A notch below the Teheran/Miller/Moore group?

Jim Callis: Those are the three best pitching prospects in the minors right now, and I'd give them credit for performing in Double-A or higher. I'd put Bundy, who I'd take over all of the 2011 draft pitchers, right behind them.

    David (Bethlehem, PA): Trevor May has 114 K and has spent over a year now in High A. When does he get moved up to AA? Or do the Phillies want to keep him, Cosart and Colvin on the same trajectory?

Jim Callis: They probably want him to throw a few more strikes, but he'll be able to handle the jump when ready. He started last year in high A, had to get demoted to low A when he couldn't find the zone, so it's not like it's been more than a year of continuous time at Clearwater.

    Tom (Columbus): Should I be worried about the "Pomeranz is a two pitch reliever" scouting reports?

Jim Callis: No. There aren't many lefthanders with a fastball-curveball combo like Pomeranz, and he can start with that combo and mix in a few changeups. I'd love to see a stat on how often quality big league starters actually use their third pitch.

    Jon (DC): Any concerns about Derek Norris after his second straight year of low average? Still high OBP and good power though. Still, two strange years in a row.

Jim Callis: He takes a lot of pitches and he's pull-happy, so he may never hit for a high average. He gets on base, so his batting average doesn't worry me as much as his defense—I'm not convinced his receiving is good enough to make him a regular catcher. At least not yet.

    Matt (KC): Has the projection for Giavotella changed at all?

Jim Callis: Nope, same guy. Will hit, gap power, defensively challenged at second base. Will get a chance to show what he can do in Kansas City soon, eventually will get pushed aside by Christian Colon.

    Matt (NYC): Hi jim, Tyler Skaggs has had a great season so far. Where does he rank in you top 50 and what is his ceiling?

Jim Callis: I put him at No. 19, which might be a tad high. Ceiling is as a No. 2 starter.

    Jake (Kalamazoo): Nick Castellanos climbing up the board? I know you can't entirely discard April but you sort of can given the adjustment of a Florida teen to a very cold spring in the Midwest League - anyway, since May 1 he's been killing it. Assume the defense is good enough to stick at 3B?

Jim Callis: Didn't put Castellanos on the Top 50, but that's a tough hitting environment playing at West Michigan in a pitcher's league. I think he'll stick at 3B and really like him a lot.

    Matt (NJ): Jim, did Taillon move into your personal top 10 or the BA consensus? He's been more hittable than i expected but the control seems very good so far. Will the pirates' conservative approach slow his development?

Jim Callis: He was there to begin with and I have him at No. 6 on my list. The conservative approach won't hurt him—they just don't want to throw 150 pro innings on a teenager making his pro debut.

    Zach (Madison, WI): Any chance Robbie Erlin makes the midseason top 50?

Jim Callis: Very good chance. He's No. 36 on my list.

    Matt (New York): Did Jarrod Parker make your personal top 50? Still have No. 1 upside? Shot to be in Arizona on Opening Day next year?

Jim Callis: He did—No. 43 on my list. Still has frontline starter upside. The command has just been slow to come back after Tommy John surgery, which isn't unusual. Biggest concern in the long term is his relative lack of deception. The pure stuff is very good.

Jim Callis: Thanks for all the good questions, as usual. I'm off to the Futures Game, so we can discuss that next Wednesday. In the meantime, feel free to fire questions at me via the weekly Ask BA column (askba@baseballamerica.com, please include full name and hometown) or my Twitter account (@jimcallisBA).