Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

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Moderator: Jim Callis will answer your questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Jim Callis: I've got to wrap up a phone call . . . will chat but it may be another 15 minutes or so.

Jim Callis: While the draft and the Prospect Handbook may be my busiest times, the summer in some ways is crazier. I've got four kids needing to go various places during the day, while I'm also trying to track down draft signings as they happen (which is much slower than they should). Throw in trying to finish a column this morning, and I'm late to my own chat. I'll throw in an extra 30 minutes to make up for it, so I'm here until 3 p.m. ET—when I have to go pick up my youngest daughter.

    Chuck (Wichita): What can you tell me about the minor's ERA leader, Greg Billo? He has transitioned to a starter and still not giving up any runs.

Jim Callis: He's having a very nice year, but he's more of a finesse/control guy than a stuff guy. Have to see how his stuff plays against better hitters before declaring him a top prospect.

    Eric (Tampa): I realize he's not on the 40-man, but should Matt Moore dazzle in Durham, would the Rays consider giving him a cup of coffee in September?

Jim Callis: I just wrote a column for the magazine in which I advocated calling him up right now. This isn't like last year with Hellickson, because they're 5 1/2 games out in the wild-card race rather than 3 1/2 games ahead. I'd promoted Moore and trade one of their starters. The list of available starters is so thin that the Rays could get a nice package for one of their current guys and just replace him with Moore.

    Mary (Harrisburg, PA): Harper hasn't exactly dominated here as of yet. Are you confident he'll adapt?

Jim Callis: Harper is still well ahead of schedule as an 18-year-old in Double-A. Shoot, he could stay there for the next two years and still be ahead of schedule. I'm not worried. Making the jump from low A to Double-A is difficult for anyone. He's still going to be a superstar. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he's in Washington's lineup in less than a year.

    Tex (LA): Was Trout called up too soon?

Jim Callis: The Angels called him up because he was their best defensive option in center field with Bourjos hurt. He's only 19, and much older players also need time to adapt to the big leagues. As with Harper in Double-A, Trout should be expected to struggle some in the minors at such a young age, but it doesn't change the long-term prognosis of superstar.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): You've been Xander Bogaerts' biggest fan. What are your thoughts on his numbers at Greenville thus far?

Jim Callis: I'll take Exceedingly Young Prospects for $300, Alex . . . I think the .464 slugging percentage at age 18 while jumping from the DSL to low Class A is outstanding. That jumps out at me more than the .227 batting average.

    Shane (Miami): Another week and more mashing by Jurickson Profar. Have scouts given you any comps for this guy, or what kind of ceiling are we looking at for him?

Jim Callis: I haven't heard a good comp and I won't force one. But I will say the list of five-tool shortstops in the minors begins and ends with Manny Machado and Profar.

    Joseph (Queens, NY): Jim - Wilmer Flores seems to be a bit of an enigma. Reports of some weight loss and more agility may allow him to stick at SS another couple years, but is it at the expense of his bat? Are you still a believer?

Jim Callis: I wasn't a big believer coming into the year either. He's not going to stick at shortstop, and a lot of scouts I talk to think third base is a stretch because he lacks athleticism. He's a 1B/LF and I don't see the bat being good enough to carry him there. I would definitely get him off shortstop immediately—no reason to try to pretend he can play there.

    Greg (Farmers Retreat, IN): Is James Shields enough to push Reds over the top in NL central?

Jim Callis: I still like the Reds as much as anyone in that division without Shields, but they're digging themselves a big hole. Shields could be a difference-maker.

    Trevor (Phoenix): Jim - Happy Chat Day! While still not dominating, Jarrod Parker at least seems to be finding his way post-TJ. What do you make of him this year and do you still expect front of the rotation starter?

Jim Callis: The velocity is back, the consistency of the breaking ball and command are still coming back. That's typical of guys coming back from Tommy John surgery. I still am very high on him and see a future No. 2 starter.

    Dave (Atlanta): Do you see the Braves signing Navery Moore??

Jim Callis: I'd guess no because he went in the 14th round and the Braves go over slot less than most teams. They've signed every other player they drafted in the first 19 rounds.

    Jason (Patterson): Do you have any thoughts on Chance Ruffin he got promoted recently to AAA for the tigers, is he there future closer or just a setup guy?

Jim Callis: I think he can close. He has the fastball, slider and makeup to finish games. I like him a good deal.

    Roger (Chicago, IL): Jim - Matt Szczur seems to be handling himself just fine so far in High A. If all goes right does he project to have a plus hit tool and hit for at least average power with good dee? Any comp that scouts or yourself liken him to?

Jim Callis: He has a chance to have average power, but even if he doesn't, he should have well above-average speed with plus defense and a plus bat. Sounds like a righthanded-hitting Jacoby Ellsbury to me.

    Ethan (Belfast): Hi Jim, Can you please rank the following by ceilling and then by likelihood to reach that ceilling: Carlos Martinez, Jarred Cosart, Henderson Alvarez, Simon Castro and Drew Hutchison.

Jim Callis: Ceiling: Martinez, Cosart, Castro, Hutchison, Alvarez. For likelihood, I'd keep the same order but put Castro at the end of the line based on his struggles this year.

    Greg (Midwest): Miguel Sano has 18 extra base hits in the first 28 games so far in rookie league, however he also already has 15 errors in those 28 games. Is that what's expected of him going forward - an all bat guy, or is there any defensive talent/projection?

Jim Callis: Young guys are going to make a ton of errors. Derek Jeter made 56 as a 19-year-old in low Class A, for example. Sano's bat will always be first and foremost. He has a chance to develop into a legit third baseman—he won't be a shortstop—but could wind up in the outfield, too.

    mike (new hampshire): you said gary sanchez had the offensive talent to be another jesus montero before the season started. obviously sanchez has woefully underperformed in that regard. does he still the offensive ceiling of an elite hitting prospect or have you downgraded him? thanks for the question.

Jim Callis: Still has a huge ceiling and he's still young, but have to ding his likelihood of reaching that ceiling given his rough year. At the same age, Montero destroyed the SAL. There are questions about Sanchez' defense, too. Still a very intriguing guy but I may have jumped the gun on him.

    Chet (LA): Jim, Is it time for the Rangers to bring up Leonys Martin to take over in CF? Is he ready defensively? He's on the 40 man roster, Borbon's is hurt, and Martin looks like the real deal. When do you see Martin coming up, and do you think he's the Rangers starting CF out of spring training next season? Thanks.

Jim Callis: With the way he's played, I bet he gets called up before September so he's eligible for the postseason. Endy Chavez is playing very well, but I don't see that lasting. Definitely see Martin starting for the Rangers in 2012.

    Tim (kentucky): Thanx for the time Jim. Cuthbert is really gaining alot of pub lately. And for good reason, what do you feel is gonna be his power ceiling? Is this is a Chisenhall type 15-20 homer guy or does he have more pop to grow into to?

Jim Callis: I'd give Cuthbert more power than Chisenhall, say 20-25 per year.

    harold (new york): do you think jesus montero is developing bad habits at the plate at this point? it seems like he's starting to sell out for his power. he's been having a number of 0 or 1 hit performances with 2 or more strikeouts lately. i'm concered! should i be?

Jim Callis: Had some scouts tell me they thought he was bored in Triple-A. I still have full faith in his bat and still don't think he's going to be a full-time catcher. I'd make him the DH/backup C in New York, but I'm not Brian Cashman. At this point, seems like they need to play Montero in the majors or trade him for something useful.

    Grigsby (Fort Worth, TX): Jim - If you can can you talk a little about Aaron Hicks. He has developed into a bit of a controversial prospect, because every keeps saying how great his tools are and the power will come, but he's turning 21 in High A after repeating Low A last year and the results still aren't there. What do you make of him?

Jim Callis: I'm in the middle. The tools are undeniable, but he hasn't had the performance to match. Seems like he gets a lot more hype than Anthony Gose, whose also loaded with tools and putting up similar numbers in Double-A. Some guys take more time to develop, and Hicks appears to be on of them. But his package of tools still ranks among the best in the minors.

    J-Carter (Cleveland): Jim, Another bomb from Kipnis last night, any reason why the Indians continue to leave him in the minors when he could be helping the big club? What kind of offensive potential, power/average/speed, does he have?

Jim Callis: I can only guess they want him to continue to refine his defense because he has been playing second base for less than two years. But in that just-completed column I referenced earlier, I led off by talking about how the Indians have to promote him. Orlando Cabrera and Co. have been terrible, and it's not like they're Gold Glovers. Kipnis would get the job done defensively and provide a lot more offense. A lot more.

    Marcus (Seattle, WA): Lightning round - James Paxton sure was dominant the other night. Is he making a case for a placement in the top 50-100 by year's end?

Jim Callis: His stuff has bounced back nicely after taking a downturn in indy ball last year. He has exceeded my expectations, and he'll challenge for a spot in the Top 100.

    James Brown (San Jose,CA): How does the future look for Kyle Skipworth of the Marlins has stock fallen even more with his bad performance at the plate again this season?

Jim Callis: Bleak. He's in his fourth pro season and having his worst year yet, which is saying something. I can't see him ever hitting enough to have the career projected for him when the Marlins took him sixth overall in 2008. He's going to have to do a lot better even to make it to the major leagues.

    John (North Carolina): Did the Astros get anything of actual value for Keppinger?

Jim Callis: Sosa and Stoffel could fit as middle relievers, and maybe Stoffel could become a set-up man. But Keppinger wasn't going to be in Houston when the Astros were ready to contend again (which would be a few years), so the deal made sense.

    Toni (Philly PA): WHat kind of player do you see Pedro Alvarez becoming?

Jim Callis: Still believe in him. The elite college hitters almost always pan out. I've been surprised by how much he has struck out as a pro, but I still see him becoming at least a .275/25 HR guy, if not more. Do see him as more of a first baseman than a third baseman though.

    Aaron (Frankfort): Drew Pomeranz. Are you concerned anout a third-pitch development? Fastball and knuckle-curve are solid but is the third pitch offering gonna end forcing him to the pen? Some starters get by fine with two plus pitches, can he do the same?

Jim Callis: As a lefty who can rack up strikeouts with his fastball and curve, the changeup isn't as important. I still see him as a frontline starter, even if the changeup is just adequate.

    Chris (Richmond): Castellanos. Are you buying or selling? he seems to have really turned a corner.

Jim Callis: Been buying ever since I saw him at the Under Armour Game two years ago. He has been hitting well, especially considering his home ballpark and league. One of the best third-base prospects in the entire minors.

    Carlos (San Diego, CA): Hey Jim- Can you give a disgruntled Padre fan some good news? Someone to look foward to seeing or a pleasant surprise in the minors?

Jim Callis: I do think Jedd Gyorko is for real. James Darnell is legit, too. I like their draft, assuming they can sign all of their top picks. How's that?

    Todd (Campbell, Mizzou): (Lightning Round) Rank these likely 3B prospects, just on their bats: Arenado, Flores, Cowart, Castellanos

Jim Callis: Not lightning round yet. I'll go Castellanos, Arenado (could flip those two), Cowart, Flores. Wouldn't put Flores in same group as the other three.

    Nick (New Jersey): Robbie Erlin or Joe Wieland? Who would you pick and why?

Jim Callis: Erlin. Similar stuff, give me the guy who's lefthanded and younger.

    ittox (Puerto Rico): Can you make a quick Chicago Cubs top 10 prospects including the ones drafted in 2011?

Jim Callis: That's an Ask BA question, not a chat question. Top three prospects in order for me right now would be Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, Javier Baez. Could debate various combinations of those three, too.

    Jeff (San Diego): Commissioner Callis, congratulations on being appointed for the day. What is your plan to tweak the draft?

Jim Callis: Short answer: I'd do away with the stupid slotting process, shorten the draft to 25 rounds, institute a July 1 signing deadline and let teams do whatever they want without interference from my office.

    Ballboy (watercooler): Does Tim Beckham not have the hands/arm/footwork for SS? If not, why not move him now rather than later? Does he fit in CF? Thanks for the insights.

Jim Callis: Depends on who you talk to. Rays are still holding out hope. They have Upton and Jennings for CF, and I don't think Beckham runs well enough to play there. He's more of a 3B or RF if he has to move.

    Jim (Philly): Is Domonic Brown for Beltran just an insane rumor? How could the Phillies spend such talent on a rental?

Jim Callis: Sounds insane to me. That would be quite foolish of the Phillies. They look like a playoff lock and have as much chance to win it all as anyone without doing something like that.

    Mully (Belmont, CA): Does Eric Surkamp have the potential to be a 5th starter for Giants in a year or two? Thanks

Jim Callis: Yes. Underrated.

    Chris (Pittaburgh): Just an obligatory "Josh Bell signs with the Pirates" question. Good chance, some chance, or no chance?

Jim Callis: My answer remains the same: Almost no chance.

    Wally (DC): With Purke not playing the Cape league, how high do you think the Nats can actually convince themselves to go, based on previous injuries? If they can't get to $3m, there is no realistic chance of him signing, right?

Jim Callis: Talked about this some in Ask BA this week. If the Nationals believe Purke is fully healthy, it still would be nice to see him in game action. It's going to cost around $9 million to sign their top three picks, and I can maybe see the Nationals going to $3 million for Purke. But I'm not convinced he'll sign for that. I think he and his family would be more likely to have him return to Texas Christian and believe he could get paid more as the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft.

    Bevan (SLC): Jim, Yonder Alonso/Yasmani Grandal/B prospect for James Shields. The Rays promote Moore to take Shields spot, and get a very good (and inexpensive) 1B & C of the future. Who says no to this deal?

Jim Callis: That type of trade would make a lot of sense for both clubs. Maybe with Todd Frazier as the third prospect? Would the Reds give up Billy Hamilton? That said, premium starters are so hard to find, that the Rays would be more likely to say no. They might want a better prospect to headline the deal. It would be hard to deal Shields and not get someone who'd make an immediate impact in Tampa Bay.

    BL (Bozeman, MT): After nine months or so, how do you view the Greinke trade of last winter?

Jim Callis: At the time, I thought the Royals did as well as they could have if they felt they had to deal Greinke and wanted up-the-middle help. Seven months later, I think both sides are pretty happy with how it worked out. Odorizzi might be the best guy Kansas City got in the deal, and Greinke could help pitch Milwaukee into the playoffs.

    brad (detroit): Would you rather have James Shields for 3 years or Justin turner for 5-6? How is this trade proposal...Shields for Turner, Rob Brantly and Bruce Rondon.

Jim Callis: I assume you mean Jacob Turner. If I were the Tigers, I'd hate to give up Jacob Turner but could live with dealing the other two guys, and Shields is so affordable for the next three years. The decision would be made easier by the fact that there's no way the Rays would make that deal.

    Thomas (Nothern Va.): Andrew Brackman was moved to the bullpen, and his command issues continue. Do you think (at this point) he'll turn things around and possibly become Rivera's replacement? Or is it time to called the 25 year old a bust? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Wouldn't call him a total bust, but also wouldn't project him as a closer either. Looks like a set-up man at best, and he has to improve a lot to get to that point. His contract is the most inexplicable in draft history.

    Brian (Nashville): Do you think Dan O'Dowd is seriously considering trading Ubaldo Jiminez, or is he just testing the market? What would it take to acquire him?

Jim Callis: More the later. I believe they'd trade him if they got overwhelmed with an offer, similar to the Diamondbacks testing the water with Justin Upton last offseason.

    mhed (Valpo): I know you've been ultra-high on Jason Heyward, stating he'll be the best OF'er in the NL East for years to is this a sophomore slump he's enduring, or something more to "worry" about? He hasn't made any adjustments this year, and he's comparable to grandma's best china dishes! (FRAGILE!) What's the deal with him???

Jim Callis: He's 21. I still love him.

    Rick (NY): Thoughts on Ryan Lavarnway's future in the bigs?

Jim Callis: Still not sure he'll be more than an adequate defender behind the plate, and he'll have to work to stay in tip-top shape so he can do that, but he's doing it. He's hitting so well that at some point soon the Red Sox will have to see what he can do. Gut feel is he's more of a backup C/1B/DH type than an everyday C.

    Tim (Chicago): Should Cubs fans be excited about how well Josh Vitters has adjusted to AA?

Jim Callis: He's still only 21, and he still almost never takes a walk. I wouldn't get excited, but I do think he can be a big league regular.

    Matt (NJ): the best non-cosart phillies pitching prospect is?

Jim Callis: Brody Colvin.

    Trok (MLB Mancave): Who are your early picks for 2012 AL/NL ROY's? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Off the top of my head, Brett Lawrie and Devin Mesoraco.

    Navin (Pasadena, CA): How good a chance do the Cubs have of signing either Maples or Dunston?

Jim Callis: I'm hearing they'll get Dunston done. Maples will be the tougher sign.

    Shoshana (Boston): Any prospects for O's fans to get excited about (already in the system) besides Schoop and Machado?

Jim Callis: If you can wait until Aug. 15, Dylan Bundy. Machado and Schoop are the clear current standouts.

    Tony (Frederick, MD): Speaking of the Greinke deal, what was your take on the Garza deal back then (and how it compared to the Greinke deal), and what is your take on the Garza deal now? I am a big fan of Chirinos, who, after a bad April, has really swung a good bat, and Guyer has blossomed. Lee still garners the hype, and Archer still seems to have the stuff to make it in the pen, at the very least.

Jim Callis: Thought the Cubs paid a lot, though the players they gave up were somewhat redundant in their system, but they had some sense of desperation in trying to make the big league club better. Thought it made perfect sense for the Rays with Hellickson ready to step in. The Cubs' season hasn't gone as they hoped, but I bet both teams would make the trade again.

Jim Callis: Sorry again for the delay, and hope I made up for it by answering questions for 90 minutes. If I didn't get to yours, try me on Twitter (via @jimcallisBA). If you have a longer question, submit it to our weekly Ask BA column via (include name and hometown). Thanks!