Jim Callis Chat: April 25

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Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. Glad to be with you for the weekly Wednesday chat. Hopefully, the draft phones will stop ringing for the next hour so I can devote myself to your questions. I promise not to forget the Lightning Round today.

    Jake (Chicago): Do you see the Cubs taking a pitcher in the draft?

Jim Callis: I think they'll take the best player available and not focus on a pitcher. That said, unless Byron Buxton or Michael Zunino falls to No. 6, the best player available figures to be a pitcher.

    MJ (Valpo): How much more impressive was Jose Fernandez's outing last night, considering the Hickory lineup was loaded with some of the Rangers' top prospects? And is Fernandez a top-50 guy for 2013? Thanks.

Jim Callis: Very impressive. He has that kind of arm, and if Fernandez keeps pitching like he has, he's an easy Top 50 Prospect at season's end.

    Jon (DC): Jeff Kobernus is tearing up AA. What do you see his ceiling as (regular?) and what are his chances of getting there?

Jim Callis: His ceiling is as a decent, maybe solid regular. I've always liked him some, but he's not a .372 hitter and he'll need to show more on-base ability and power.

    Mike (Baltimore): Hey Jim, thanks for the chat! In the past, the Cardinals seem to have drafted more college guys than HS guys. With Jeff Luhnow (former Card) now the GM in Houston, can we expect the Astros to take a similar approach and avoid the Delino Deshields, Jr.'s of the draft and instead look at more proven college arms and bats like Kolten Wong for example? Would this have much to do with the Astros maybe passing on Buxton at 1-1?

Jim Callis: I don't think that's entirely true. Luhnow took three HS kids in the first rounds for the Cardinals (Colby Rasmus, Peter Kozma, Shelby Miller) and they spent seven-figures on another (Charlie Tilson) last year. So he's not dead-set on college guys at the top of his drafts. Of course, the Cardinals were in a lot better shape than the Astros are now, and he never picked this high. If the Astros pass on Buxton as rumored, it's not because Luhnow wants proven performers, it's because the team wants more immediate help.

    Jennie (From the block): When will you guys do your 1st mock draft? I know you guys did one earlier but it was too long away from the draft.

Jim Callis: We haven't done one yet. The first one is part of stage one of our Draft Preview. I haven't started on that one yet either. I anticipate it going online around May 11.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): I know the Cal League inflates power numbers, but in Billy Hamilton's case where only 1 ball has left the yard, shouldn't his increased slugging be even more impressive as he is getting extra bases and finding gaps in smaller fields like Bakersfield?

Jim Callis: I don't know . . . Hamilton never is going to hit for a lot of power, his current .589 slugging percentage notwithstanding. I wouldn't think of power, but I'd be thrilled he's hitting the ball with more authority, which will makes him seem less likely to get pounded by fastballs at higher levels. To call his speed game-changing is an understatement, and if he can get on base at a good clip, his SB totals will be huge.

    Richard Smiley (Chicago, IL): Is Jared Mitchell's progress real or an artifact of a small sample size?

Jim Callis: Small sample size, but a very positive first step. Very enthused to see that he's running well (four triples, five steals). If he keeps this up, he'll be the White Sox' No. 1 prospect at season's end—unless Kenny Williams trades him.

    Henry (Raleigh, NC): Carlos Rodon is having an outstanding freshman year thus far. Even though it is 2 years away, is he in the discussion for 1st overall pick in 2014?

Jim Callis: It's very early, but that's fair. He's as good as any college player for the 2014 draft. North Carolina State has a strong freshman class and will be tough to handle over the next couple of years.

    Steve (Orlando,Fl): How does Rays 3B Tyler Goeddel compare this year to the Tigers 3B Nick Castellanos last year in the Midwest League? Similar type players,or different?

Jim Callis: Similar builds and athleticism, similar tools. Goeddel is off to a much better start this year than Castellanos had last April.

    Jeff (Seattle): When do you expect we will see Danny Hultzen pitching in Safeco?

Jim Callis: August, maybe? Don't doubt that he could handle the majors by the end of this season, but the Mariners don't have any real incentive to let him accrue much service time this year.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): What do you watch now that the awesomeness that was 24 is no longer on the air?

Jim Callis: "Burn Notice," "White Collar" and "Psych" are tops on my list. Probably watch more USA Network programming than anything.

    Zach (Baltimore): Is this the year that Matt Wieters finally becomes a star?

Jim Callis: That already happened last year. Now he's getting better.

    Joel (KCK): In regards to Dylan Bundy, when does it become as apparent to the Oriole's organization as it is to all of us that he's ready to face more challenging hitters at the next level of the minors? That being said, do you remember any pitcher in recent history who made it look so easy at his age and level?

Jim Callis: I don't remember anyone else his age who has made it look this easy. There's no reason to rush him to Baltimore because the Orioles aren't close to contending anytime soon, so I think the focus is just on keeping him healthy for 120 innings or so. I bet they don't promote him before midseason. Next year, I could see him shooting from Double-A to the majors.

    Mick (Chicago): I know Yu Darvish pitched like an ace last night, but don't you think they'll fall short in the playoffs again because they don't have a true #1? So why not trade Jurickson Profar for that. With the dearth of SS prospects and Andrus signed long term it would be a sin to waste his talent at any other position?

Jim Callis: Sorry, Mick, but I don't agree with any of this. Darvish can be a true No. 1. If he pitches like he did last night against one of the best lineups in baseball, why wouldn't that be immensely useful in the playoffs? I'd rather have him than C.J. Wilson. Profar can hit enough to be plenty valuable elsewhere. And how many teams are going to trade a true No. 1 during the season anyway?

    Louis (Boston): Is Ranaudo injured right now, or are the Red Sox waiting for the weather to warm up before sending him out?

Jim Callis: He was very impressive in spring training but strained his groin in late March and the Red Sox are just being cautious.

    Bill (Bozeman, MT): Your eight for Omaha?

Jim Callis: This is a very uninformed opinion compared to those of Aaron Fitt or John Manuel, but here goes, in no particular order: Texas A&M, Stanford, Florida, Louisiana State, Rice, South Carolina. Well, that's six. The other two spots are up for grabs.

    Cy (western Mass.): Thanks, Jim, as always. In a recent tweet you mentioned that Byron Buxton is a better bet to hit than Bubba Starling. No complaint, but a question: What can you tell us about Bubba's hit tool, bat speed, etc? (Seems like neither player has faced much tough competition yet.)

Jim Callis: That comment was based on scouts telling me Buxton has a better swing and better pitch recognition. Not saying Starling won't hit, just that Buxton is a better bet if you have to pick between the two.

    Tiffythetitan (Oakland): Hi, I asked a question about Brady Rodgers in a previous draft chat and I was told he is not considered to be a top pick in the draft despite great numbers. Can you explain to me what the scouts see in him (or don't see him in actually) that explains why he is not considered a top draft prospect? Thank you.

Jim Callis: Short answer: He has good but not great stuff. He can really pitch, but he doesn't miss a lot of bats and doesn't have an out pitch. You're just not going to buy that at the top of the draft, though it's possible he could sneak into the bottom of the first round for a team that wants quick help.

    Kyle (Florida): Thoughts on Gerrit Cole's shaky start in the pros thus far?

Jim Callis: No worries. The number that jumps out at me most is 18 K in 12 IP. The stuff is electric, and we knew he needed more polishing than the other pitchers at the top of the 2011 draft. He's still a stud.

    Paul (Houston): If you were the Astros, would you break with tradition and pop Buxton at #1?

Jim Callis: Not sure what tradition that is, but yes, I'd take the best guy. And Buxton is the best guy.

    Brad (KC): Not a lot to celebrate around here. Please give us some hope that Wil Myers could see the show this year.

Jim Callis: Hate to burst your bubble, but the Royals don't have to protect him on the 40-man roster unless they promote him before the end of the season. So you probably won't see him in Kansas City.

    Jake (Tampa, FL): Thoughts on Matt Moore's first three outings? Any cause to think he isn't quite ready?

Jim Callis: His control and command haven't been sharp, but there's nothing for him to prove in the minors. Twenty-nine teams would hand him a spot in their rotation.

Jim Callis: With 15 minutes to go, let's unleash the Lightning Round!

    jbg (vallejo): With Will Middlebrooks hot start, do you think he will get the call if Youkilis goes down with an injury?

Jim Callis: Yes.

    Robert (LA): A college NCAA at large question. Do think that if Minnesota wins the remaining weekend series in the Big Ten against Iowa, Penn State, Nebraska and Illinois, they would get consideration for an at large bid?

Jim Callis: Yes. I hope the Big Ten gets at least two bids. Purdue is running away with the league, but Michigan State and Minnesota are good clubs.

    Mike (Boston): Matt Barnes is dominating the weaker competition for him do you think he could see any time in portland this season? Can he become an ace or is he more of a middle of the rotation guy?

Jim Callis: Could see him in Double-A but bet the Red Sox do what they did with Ranaudo last year and give Barnes a half-season each in low A and high A to break into pro ball. He's a potential No. 2 starter.

    Bret (Toronto): Any reason to be concerned about Travis d'Arnaud's slow start? I realize the sample size is still tiny, but it is Vegas after all...

Jim Callis: No reason for concern. Best catching prospect in the minors.

    Andy (Nashville): With the Nationals's hot start, could this delay Bryce Harper's call-up somewhat this year?

Jim Callis: I look at it like they're going to contend, so more likely to call him up if they think he can help. They're off to a 13-4 start, but they're not hitting a lot of homers.

    Billy (Grand Rapids): Jim, a lot of talk around the B10 about Purdue's big 2 in Plawecki and Perkins. Though I believe MSU's Torsten Boss is the top prospect. Where does he go in the draft? Thanks

Jim Callis: I think they'll go in this order: Plawecki, Perkins, Boss (and I like Boss, too). Don't forget T.J. Oakes at Minnesota. Micah Johnson at Indiana would have been an early-rounder if healthy.

    Shoshana (Boston): If you were the Orioles what would you do with Dylan Bundy?

Jim Callis: Clone him.

    Josh G (Stockton, CA): T/F: Gavin Cecchini is a top 10 talent?

Jim Callis: He's right there.

    Casey (CA): Is Heaney at #11 an overdraft? what about Fontana or Jankowski at #34?

Jim Callis: On Heaney, not for a team that wants a college starter. I'm not as high on Fontana and Jankowski as others are.

    junior (san diego): how far do you see deven marrero falling?

Jim Callis: No more than mid-first round unless he throws out crazy bonus demands.

    John W. (Washington, D.C.): How do you rate Tyler Naquin as a prospect; is he at least a middle-of-the first round pick in the 2012 draft?

Jim Callis: I like him better than most of the college position guys in this year's draft, and he'll probably go in the bottom half of the first round, with the caveat that he might be a tweener if he doesn't develop more power.

    Alex (Jacksonville): Where do you see Mike Zunino going?

Jim Callis: Anywhere in the top five picks.

    Scott (Louisiana): Is it possible that the Astro's take Gausman 1st overall? Where does BA project him to go?

Jim Callis: Legitimate candidate. He'll go somewhere near the top.

    Jason (San Diego): Do you think Giolito will fall to #7. He would look real nice next to Ross in our rotation in 2014.

Jim Callis: Still a wild card. So much depends on whether he can work out for clubs and what he shows when he does.

    tony (illinois): Any thoughts on Kyler Burkes ?

Jim Callis: Strong arm, nice start, we'll see.

    Shoshana (Boston): How does service time work for prospects on big league contracts?

Jim Callis: They only get service time if they're on the active big league roster.

    Chel (Houston): Gausman, Appel, or Zimmer as of now?

Jim Callis: Gut feel as of this second . . . Gausman.

    Russ (Fort Worth): Top 3 Texas High School Pitchers?

Jim Callis: Mitchell Traver, Teddy Stankiewicz, Tyler Gonzales in some order.

    Todd (Chesapeake, Va.): Do you see Buxton lasting until the O's pick at No.4 and if not who do you see them picking? They need a ton of everyday players but you can never have enough pitching!

Jim Callis: Can't see Buxton getting past the Mariners at No. 3. Orioles don't need Zunino if he gets there, so combine those two thoughts, and it's a college pitcher (Appel? Gausman? Zimmer?) for the O's.

    MC (Boston): Who's your early, early favorite for #1 on the 2013 BA 100?

Jim Callis: Dylan Bundy.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Is Pierce Johnson a potential 1st rounder in your opinion?

Jim Callis: I think he'll be a first-rounder if he stays healthy down the stretch. Strong return vs. Wichita State was a positive sign.

Jim Callis: I've got to run, but I'll be back next Wednesday. Until then, feel free to hit me up at Twitter (@jimcallisBA) and please send some good longer-form questions to askba@baseballamerica.com (please include name and hometown). Thanks!