Prospects Chat With Jim Callis

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    Ronald (Toronto): Talk me off the ledge, Jim: Should I still be as excited about the Jays farm system as I was a year ago?

Jim Callis: Yes. Some players have regressed, sure, but they do that in every system. Focus on the Lansing rotation (Sanchez, Syndergaard, Nicolino) and their banner 2012 draft.

    Jim (Philly): Would you consider Darin Ruf to be a top 30 prospect in their system? Top 20?

Jim Callis: Top 30 yes, Top 20 maybe. The Phillies system isn't nearly as deep as it used to be. He's 25, which is old for Double-A, but he has hit 37 homers and controls the strike zone, so he'll find a spot in the Prospect Handbook.

    Matt V (Philly): With Tyler Cloyd getting the call for his MLB debut tonight with the Phillies, what can we Fightin's fans expect both short and long term?

Jim Callis: He's a finesse righthander who's not a viable long-term option for the rotation. Great year in the minors (15-1, 2.26).

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Your thoughts on the increasing number of positive drug testing results of late, the latest of which being Sale and Stroman?

Jim Callis: Not in regards to those two players in particular, but call me cynical. I think a lot of guys are using and only a small portion of them get caught. So I'm never really surprised when anyone test positive. At the major league level, given how much Cabrera and Colon were outperforming reasonable expectations, not surprised at all.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Do you believe Bundy is ready for Camden?

Jim Callis: Given that the Orioles haven't fallen out of the playoff race, they should find out. He's already on the 40-man roster, so they don't have to clear space. I'd give him a look, and if he doesn't pitch well, shut him down. But I'd hate not to use every advantage I might have while trying to make the playoffs.

    Grant (San Fran): Who has the higher ceiling between Crick and Blackburn?

Jim Callis: Crick, more upside to his stuff. Blackburn has a solid arm and is more advanced as a pitcher at this point.

    Jim (WV): Hi Jim. Thanks for the chat. What is your impression of Manny Machado so far in MLB? I know it is a SSS, but do you see him being able to make the adjustments necessary to be on the big league roster at the start of 2013?

Jim Callis: He has cooled off after a hot start and has struggled with the strike zone, so I could see him getting some more minor league time to start 2013. But he's the best option the Orioles have at third base now, and the same may be true next spring.

    Eric (Cincy): I've enjoyed reading about Dan Langfield's pro debut thus far. The kid seems legit. Would you consider him a SP or RP down the road?

Jim Callis: Good arm with a fastball clocked up to 97 mph. I think he's a reliever in the long run, because he doesn't have a lot of fastball life or command.

    Ben (Miamisburg, OH): While Billy Hamilton's speed is undeniable, are you surprised how well he has hit and maintained his walk rate making the jump from High A to AA?

Jim Callis: Yes I am, especially considering his youth and that he was jumping from the hitter-friendly Cal League. I mentioned this in a column I just wrote for our latest issue.

    John (Chicago): Wilmer Flores has 17 home runs on the year, but people still question whether he has the power for a corner infield position. He already has more home runs than Moustakas, Lawrie, Middlebrooks, etc. had in their age 20 seasons. And it's not like his came in hitter-friendly parks. What gives?

Jim Callis: Kudos to Flores for having his best full-season performance so far, especially from a power standpoint. He's still not as good a prospect as those other guys, and I still don't think he's going to stick at third base in the long run, which hurts his value. I think he's a first baseman/left fielder.

    Rob (Illinois): White Sox's Buddy Bell has said that he has no problem promoted minor leaguers to a higher affiliate to participate in the playoffs. He did this with Carlos Sanchez and just today with Courtney Hawkins. Do you this practice helps or hurts their development?

Jim Callis: I don't think it has much affect because it's only for a handful of games. It could help guys get acclimated to a level they're going to play at next season, so I don't see any harm from a development standpoint.

    Matt (VA): What do you make of Rendon's real slow start in Harrisburg?

Jim Callis: Doesn't bother me. He's been hurt much of the year and had only 65 pro at-bats before getting to Double-A, so I don't read much into it.

    Ronnie (Seattle, WA): As the year is about over, between Hultzen, Walker and Paxton, who has impressed you the most so far? How would you rank them?

Jim Callis: Walker, because he has the best stuff and was able to handle Double-A at age 19. I'd rank them Walker, Hultzen, Paxton.

    Ben (PA): Brandon Nimmo has been hitting lead off for the Cyclones. Do you expect him to do the same when he gets to the majors?

Jim Callis: I see him growing into enough power to bat in the middle of the lineup somewhere.

    Harrison (Phoenix): Now that Saunders is gone, would you keep Skaggs up, or give his spot to Bauer?

Jim Callis: I'd keep Skaggs. I like Bauer slightly more as a prospect, but Skaggs is better prepared to pitch in the majors at this point.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Where would Webster fit in among the Sox top prospects?

Jim Callis: Near the top of the list, behind Xander Bogaerts and Matt Barnes.

    Mike (Orlando): How do you value defense vs power at the plate?

Jim Callis: Depends on the position, doesn't it?

    Jared (Las Vegas): Robbie Grossman seems to be having a good year in AA. Is he still a 4th outfielder or can he play CF for the Astros?

Jim Callis: He might be both, because I saw the Astros play a couple of weeks ago and they were the worst big league team I've ever seen. But on a good major league club, Grossman's ceiling would be fourth outfielder. He just doesn't have any carrying tools.

    Brett (Irvine, CA): Where do you see Addison Russell starting next season? What type of ceiling do you see him having?

Jim Callis: Back in low Class A, where he's finishing his first pro season. If everything comes together, no reason he couldn't be an all-star.

    Jared (Las Vegas): If youre the Astros GM, who do you take Appel/Stanek/Manaea?

Jim Callis: As of today, I'd take Appel. Would be interesting if he wound up being an Astro like most of us expected, just a year later.

    Kyle (Portland): Is James Needy a prospect for the padres? He has put up solid numbers at multiple levels. Velo?

Jim Callis: Not a big-time guy, but he throws strikes with three decent pitches. Could see him making it as a middle reliever.

    J (Detroit): What is Austin Schotts ceiling? Does he stick in CF? ETA? Any chance Casey Crosby or Andy Oliver bring anything in a trade/with the big club?

Jim Callis: Schotts probably doesn't have the arm for shortstop, so his ceiling is as a second baseman or center fielder with very good speed and some pop. Crosby or Oliver would be interesting as part of a package, but they're not going to bring a major upgrade all on their own.

    Kyle (Chicago): Javier Baez struggling with A+ pitching or with inconsistent playing time due to over 10 rain-outs this month? Only knock on him at Peoria seemed to be his over aggressive approach.

Jim Callis: It's a small sample size, too, and the weather hasn't helped. He is overly aggressive at the plate, and the high Class A pitchers are maybe taking more advantage of that than their low Class A counterparts. But overall, it's been quite the impressive pro debut. He'll be our No. 1 prospect when we unveil a new Cubs Top 30 this offseason.

    Michael (Raleigh): How much improvement has Oswaldo Arcia shown this year? His stats across the board have improved upon his promotion to the Eastern League and if I am not mistaken his slugging percentage is higher than that of even, Miguel Sano. Does he project to be an above average outfielder at some point in his major league career?

Jim Callis: Fully recovered from elbow surgery that held him back in 2011, Arcia has looked terrific this year. He continues to show the potential for a solid bat with plus power, and he has made improvements in controlling the strike zone. He could be a solid regular, maybe more.

    Free_AEC (NJ): Nice call on Cody Asche. Do you think he can develop some power against LHP as all of his sock is against RHP as of now, and BTW, where did that power suddenly come from?

Jim Callis: He's always had that power—that's what got him drafted in the fourth round last year, even if it didn't show up much in his pro debut. He's a lefty hitter, so he has more power versus righthanders and always will. He hasn't been great vs. southpaws, but he hasn't been terrible either.

    Kevin (New Jersey): Do you see Stryker Trahan staying behind the plate or is outfield a more likely destination? Will his bat play regardless?

Jim Callis: When we were working on the draft this spring, the consensus was that he'd wind up having to move to the outfield because he lacks receiving skills. His bat should play just fine on an outfield corner.

    Kevin (MN): Is Aaron Hicks a top 100 type at this point?

Jim Callis: With his tools and his bounceback year in Double-A, I bet he makes it when we do another Top 100 next spring.

    Kevin (NJ): Which Austin do you like better in next year's draft; Meadows or Wilson?

Jim Callis: Meadows. They both look like they'll go in the first five or 10 picks, but Wilson's propensity to swing and miss scares me.

    Conor (Boston): At this point, what is Danny Hultzen's ceiling? Does he have number 1 starter potential?

Jim Callis: Yes, assuming his command is better than what he has shown in his pro debut. It should be, as it was considered one of his strong suits when he went No. 2 in the 2011 draft. He has a plus fastball and changeup, a solid breaking ball and he's lefthanded.

    Kevin (MN): Has Mike Trout's power projection changed this season? I feel like most people were expecting 20-25 homers at his peak. At this pace, he'd hit over 30 in a full season.

Jim Callis: We gave him 65 future power in the 2012 Prospect Handbook, and we may have sold him short. At this point, I wouldn't put any limits on Trout. Really, nothing he would wind up doing would surprise me.

    donnie (NC): Tyler Austin just keeps hitting....ceiling and when can he help in the Bronx?

Jim Callis: Potential all-star, 2014 at the earliest.

    Rich (Solvay, NY): Hi Jim, Are you surprised at the performance of Todd Frazier, Reds or do you think this is what he is? thanks.

Jim Callis: I'm not sure he's quite this good (.910 OPS), but I've always believed in him. Never understood why the Reds jerked him around from position to position, especially when he never was going to stick in the middle infield. I thought they should have just put him at third base and kept him there.

    Ron (Queens): Is the 2013 draft as bad as some scouts say or can players at the top improve their stock in a year and make it a little better?

Jim Callis: Players can always improve their stock and change the impression of the class. But right now 2013 looks a little worse to me than 2012. The one thing that does stand out as better for next year is lefthanded pitching.

    Trav (Lansing, MI): With Asdrubal Cabrera holding down the fort at SS for the foreseeable future, what are the chances the Tribe moves Lindor to 2nd down the line?

Jim Callis: Don't see it. Lindor will be a better defender than Cabrera.

Jim Callis: Thanks as always for the good questions. My Cape Cod League Top 30 will go online tomorrow, so maybe I'll do a Twitter chat (@jimcallisBA) to take some questions about that. See you back here in the BA chat room next Wednesday.