Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

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    Cy (Cooperstown): Gary Sanchez' first year in full-season ball: Ups, downs, suspension and now an injury. What's your assessment? Seems like he was hitting well just before he got hurt. What is his injury?

Jim Callis: When he got off to a slow start, I wondered if maybe we had hyped him too much, too soon. Then he found his groove and started hitting like he was one of the elite prospects in the game. The obvious comparison is Jesus Montero: exciting bat, questions about whether he can stay behind the plate. He has a hand injury, I believe, and is done for the year.

    Conor (Boston): Arodys Vizcaino's future with Atlanta: In the rotation or the bullpen?

Jim Callis: They have a lot of pitching options, but he's talented enough that I see him forcing his way into the rotation. The Braves will have to make room for him somehow.

    Tim (Pittsburgh, PA): We have heard a lot about Miguel Sano at Elizabethton this season, but what do you think of Eddie Rosario and what range will he rank as a prospect within the organization, top 10?

Jim Callis: Rosario was one of my favorite sleepers in the Twins system coming into the year. Huge year in the Appy League at age 19, lots of tools, I could see him making Minnesota's Top 10.

    Cy (Cooperstown): Free Matt Moore! This isn't a question.

Jim Callis: I'm with you in that I think he was ready to pitch in the big leagues after the Futures Game. I wrote a column saying the Rays should deal one of their starters, shore up a weakness with the trade bounty and promote Moore. I still believe he could get the job done in Tampa Bay today, but with the Rays 8 1/2 games out of the playoffs and little more than a month to go, I don't see any great need to pile on a month's worth of big league innings. I might give him a small taste of the majors, but I could see capping him at 160 total innings this year.

    Frank (Baltimore, MD): Are the O's likely to let Bundy play in the AFL?

Jim Callis: Lots of questions about various 2011 draftees playing in the minors this spring or in the AFL . . . I don't know what teams are planning. Sorry. I would assume we might see some of the top college picks (Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Sonny Gray) in the AFL, but that's just a guess.

    phillip (long beach, ca): What is Nestor Molina's stuff? He is making double a look very easy.

Jim Callis: It's all solid: fastball, slider, changeup, occasional curveball. Not sure you'd call any of his offerings a plus pitch, but he mixes them well and moves the ball around the strike zone. Not the sexiest scouting report, but that's the type of guy who winds up in the big leagues.

    Chuck (Wichita): The Royals signed late round picks Lopez, Junis, and Binford all to bonuses over 500K. Who do you like best from this group?

Jim Callis: Jake Junis. He's very athletic and it's easy to see him developing into a guy with a plus fastball and curve to go with a solid changeup. I like Jack Lopez, legitimate shortstop, but he's not real big and I'm not sure how much damage he'll do with the bat. Mark Binford is an intriguing 6-foot-7 righthander who has made a comeback from Tommy John surgery.

    Darrah (Phoenix, AZ): Can we expect to see Bauer at Chase Field next month? Very excited to see his quirky delivery in person.

Jim Callis: Bauer has had no trouble carving up high Class A and Double-A hitters, so I'd give him the call. The Diamondbacks could use some rotation help and the NL West race will go down to the wire, so I'd give him the call. He won't be intimidated by the big leagues and I think he could succeed immediately. I've said this before, but I would have taken him over any college pitcher in the 2011 draft, including the two who went ahead of him (Cole, Hultzen).

    Jeff (Toronto): Are guys like Jake Marisnik and Marcus Knecht real deal prospects? We are getting news on so many Jays prospects these days, its hard to know who has highest potential etc. Is David Cooper a solid regular, better/worse at the next level? His stats are off the charts and maybe MVP worthy.

Jim Callis: Marisnick is the best prospect of those three guys. Knecht is a legit prospect but not on Marisnick's level. Cooper's numbers are impressive but inflated by Las Begas. I see him as a solid regular at best because I think his power is below average for first base. Maybe he's the next Lyle Overbay.

    Tim H. (Houston, TX): All three of the Astros' Double-A Callups (Altuve, Martinez, Paredes) have had some success so far. Which one has surprised you the most?

Jim Callis: Paredes, because he hadn't torn up minor league pitching like the other two had. He has the best all-around tools of those three guys, however.

    Brad (MO): What infield would you rather have for the next 5 years: C. Santana, LaPorta, Kipinis, A. Cabrera, and Chisenhall or S. Perez, Hosmer, Giavotella, A. Escobar, and Moustakas? What group has the higher offensive ceiling?

Jim Callis: If we're counting catchers as infielders, I'd take the Indians crew. Position by position, I prefer Santana, Hosmer, Kipnis and Cabrera, and Moustakas vs. Chisenhall is going to be close. I don't think LaPorta is going to be anything special, but the other four Indians all could be well above-average offensively for their positions, so they get the higher combined ceiling.

    Gary (Cincinnati): In your April 13th prospects chat, you predicted that Hamilton would finish with fewer than 100 SBs on the year. As we speak, he is running to Chicago with a slice of humble pie for you to eat.

Jim Callis: Without looking at my answer in April, I doubt I questioned his ability but more whether the team would let him run that much and beat himself up. He still needs nine with less than two weeks to play, so I may go hungry. He also has bounced back well after a very slow start.

    Paul (KC): I understand the Royals will likely be assigning Starling to Kane County next April. Too aggressive, just right, or other?

Jim Callis: Any high school player who gets a $7.5 million bonus should be able to at least hold is own in low Class A in his first full pro season, or you have a problem.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Joel Sherman of the NY Post is certain that Yu Darvish will be playing in the states soon, and that the Yanks are scouting him heavily. If he does end up signing with them, what would you project him as? Also, would he automatically become their #1 overall prospect, or would that title still be held by Montero?

Jim Callis: I'm sure Darvish would be our Yankees No. 1 prospect. As to what to expect, I have no idea. I thought Daisuke Matsuzaka would be a stud, and he fizzled out quickly. Hideo Nomo made an immediate impression, but was never as dominant as he was in his first couple of years. Has there been a Japanese League start who came to the United States and had extended success? I can't think of one.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Christian Yelich was drafted as a first baseman, but lately he has been playing left field and even centerfield occasionally. If Yelich were to be moved to CF full time, with his hitting ability, would that propel him into a top 100 prospect?

Jim Callis: His bat might put him in the Top 100 regardless. That said, I don't think he runs well enough to play center on a full-time basis.

    Rich (Martinsville, VA): Jim, what do you make of Sonny Gray's start to his pro career? September callup?

Jim Callis: It's just three brief outings, but it's no surprise he's performing well in Double-A. He has a nasty fastball/curveball combo and he competes. Not sure if the A's will call him up this year, but I definitely think he's in their plans at some point in 2012.

    Bevan (Utah): I know it's a VERY small sample size, but Yonder Alonso is hitting .448/.529/.758 since being called up. What do the Reds do here? It seems like Dusty Baker is not willing to play Alonso everyday, because of his poor defense is LF (which doesn't make sense, because he was happy to play Jonny Gomes there for 3 months). In your opinion, do the Reds make a trade this offseason, and do they trade Alonso or Votto? Votto is due to make a lot of money in the next few years, but a package of Alonso/Grandal/PTBNL could possibly bring back a frontline starter. What would you do if you were the Reds GM? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Alonso isn't that good, of course, but he can hit. I don't think he can handle left field, but with the Reds out of the race, what's the harm in finding out. If he has to be a first baseman only, then you package him and a catcher in a trade like you suggest.

    Michael (Houston): What is your assessment of J.D. Martinez's upside and are scouts in general still down on it?

Jim Callis: I think his upside is as a solid regular. He's an all-bat guy with below-average speed and defense, so he'll have to hit. He has done that so far, though I don't totally buy him as a .900 OPS guy in the majors.

    Matt (Los Angeles): With the Dodger's financial issues being well known and it reflecting in the most recent draft, who do you think is the most intriguing, keep your eye out for prospect in the Dodger's draft hall despite the limited amount of money they used.

Jim Callis: I'll go with the obvious choice and take first-rounder Chris Reed. Stanford used him as a reliever, but he has No. 2 ceiling as a lefty starter.

    Bob (California): Thanks for the chat. Where you rank the Padres draft after they signed three out of their top four remaining choices? Where would you rank their minor league system among other teams?

Jim Callis: I ranked my top five drafts in Monday's Ask BA. I stopped there, but if I had continued, I would have had the Blue Jays sixth and the Padres seventh. Hard to pinpoint where a farm system will rank without breaking them all down, but San Diego is on the upswing. Possible Top 10.

    Andrew (Ottawa): Bats vs Pitchers. Who you'll rather have depth in your farm system?

Jim Callis: I'd say pitchers. Bats are easier to count on and attrition will catch up to more pitchers, but you need that pitching depth to develop enough arms. Hope that made sense.

    Dan (Lansing): How good is the Cubs system right now? I know there is not a lot in the way of impact player's but a lot to like considering the influx of IFA's and the last 2 draft's so a ton of depth right?

Jim Callis: Solid depth, middle-of-the-pack system.

    Jameson G (Hallettsville,TX): How long do you see it taking a guy like John Stilson to make it to the show? Posted ridiculous numbers as a closer at A&M where he's projected at Toronto.

Jim Callis: Depends on the health of his shoulder. A fully healthy Stilson, used as a reliever, would have been one of the first players from this draft to reach the majors.

    Jason (Tampa): What do you see as Will Middlebrooks ceiling at the next level—-from a glove standpoint and his bat? Is he an elite prospect? Will he stay at 3rd? What about Xander Bogaerts?

Jim Callis: Wouldn't call him an elite prospect, but the ceiling is there for him to be an above-average hitter and defender. Bogaerts has a huge ceiling too. I'd give Middlebrooks the edge as a prospect because he has proven himself in Double-A, but Bogaerts may develop more rapidly than Middlebrooks has.

    Nick (NJ): Hiroki Kuroda has been a really solid, consistent starter for the Dodgers.

Jim Callis: Fair point. But none of the superstar Japanese starters has lived up to that billing over here.

    Bobby (Missouri): Will Kolten Wong get called up sometime in 2012 to stabilize 2b for the Cards? Thanks!

Jim Callis: That might be a little quick, but I do think he'll be one of the first position guys from this draft to play in the majors. Early 2013 seems more realistic.

    Lance (Delaware): Would you agree its better to maybe lack depth have a few top prospects in your organazation then depth but little or no guys with great upside

Jim Callis: Yes. You obviously want both, but I believe you win with stars, so I'd rather have some potential stars and less depth than solid depth but no real standouts.

Jim Callis: I'm already at the 10-minute warning—not sure where all the time went—so let's shift to the lightning round . . .

    mark (kc): what do you think is going on with the struggles of wil myers? is it something to be concerned about long term or is it simply just a bad year?

Jim Callis: He's only 20 and in Double-A, so I wouldn't say "bad year." I'd say "developmental year." Stock has taken a bit of a hit, needs to improve his focus and defense.

    Brayden (Scranton, PA): Was this the type of player John Mayberry Jr had in him at Stanford? Incredible improvement don't you think?

Jim Callis: Always had that power—remember, he was a first-round pick out of high school. Question always has been if he could make enough consistent contact.

    Logan (Philadelphia): Phillies had a pretty good haul in the draft. With that said, who has the highest ceiling as a position & pitching prospect?

Jim Callis: Larry Greene, Kenny Giles.

    Eric (Dallas, TX): If you had to speculate, who has the better farm system at present, in terms of ceiling - D'Backs or Blue Jays?

Jim Callis: Blue Jays.

    Tom N. (New York, NY): If you were a Yankees fan, which 2011 draftee would have you most excited? Bichette? Cote? Bird?

Jim Callis: Bichette. Best prospect of the three to begin with, plus the nice debut.

    Don (Tampa): I see that Josh Sale is struggling big time. Is it a small blip on the screen or is there some concern I should have as a Ray's fan?

Jim Callis: Wouldn't worry too much because it's only his pro debut and he's not striking out a ton. Still, that's disappointing from a guy who was supposed to be a top high school bat.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Zack Cox is quietly...very quietly putting up fantastic numbers in his first full season of pro ball. It seems as though he starts off so slow at each level, but after a few weeks, he starts to mash. In his last 50 games he is batting nearly .400 with an OPS over 1.000. Do you think he will stick at third or will he eventually be moved to a corner outfield spot, or some other position.

Jim Callis: I've been driving the Zack Cox bandwagon for a while. I think he'll get the job done at third base.

    Rick (Miami): Is the 2012 draft really looking bad or just not as strong as 2011? Can you still get impact players near the top?

Jim Callis: Wouldn't say bad, but I'd say below average because of the college crop and it doesn't have the headliners we had at the top of the above-average 2011 draft.

    Jake (Corona): It seems like a few years ago the A's system was loaded with good young hitters. None of those guys have panned out at all. Is Michael Choice their only hope? Please say no.

Jim Callis: No ... Grant Green and Yordy Cabrera offer some hope too. But you're right, the A's haven't done a good job of developing bats.

    Dustin (Seattle): You havent mentioned Bryce Harper yet. I thought it was mandatory. What level does he start out at next year?

Jim Callis: Ha. I'll say Triple-A and gets a big league promotion in June.

Jim Callis: Thanks for all the good questions, as usual. See you next Wednesday, and we'll have another chat (Prospect Hot Sheet-related, on Friday) before then.