Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 26, 10:39 AM ET
Chat with Baseball America's Jim Callis

Jim Callis
  (2:00 PM)

Hi, everyone. Before anyone asks, yes, the Prospect Handbooks have shipped from Durham.

Zach (Wilton, CT)

Why does it seem like baseball players at the collegiate level tend to transfer to different schools much more often than players from all other collegiate sports?

Jim Callis
  (2:01 PM)

They used to, mainly because the transfer rules were more relaxed. But now they're tighter, so the number of transfers has gone back down.

Kelsey (Groves, TX)

Jim, On the Top 10 for the Astros BA has Ross Seaton ranked ahead of Jordan Lyles, but Lyles was ranked the best prospect/player in the short season league he played in. Is this because of projectability, pure stuff or some other observation?

Jim Callis
  (2:02 PM)

Seaton didn't pitch enough to qualify for a league Top 20 list. Seaton was regarded as a consensus better prospect heading into the draft, and we still feel that he is.

John (Cincinnati, OH)

What are your thoughts on the Cubs-Mariners trade today?

Jim Callis
  (2:02 PM)

I'm not clear whether Heilman is going to start or relieve for the Cubs. Neither of the players the Mariners got were going to play a significant role for Chicago, though I still think Ronnie Cedeno could turn out to be a decent player.

Rich (Columbia, SC)

2010 Draft question - I know it may be a bit early, but who do you project as the top 5 players for the 2010 MLB draft? Any clear-cut #1 (like Strasburg)?

Jim Callis
  (2:04 PM)

Too early to do project a top five with much accuracy. The leader to go No. 1 overall right now is North Carolina RHP Matt Harvey.

Ross (CA)

Hi Jim, do you think the advances made in technology over the past 5-10 years will attribute to an increased likelihood that top prospects fulfill their perceived futures? It seems that a combination of old school approaches and sabermetric analysis could provide a more grounded and reasonable set of expectations for these players. Thanks!

Jim Callis
  (2:06 PM)

I think scouting and player analysis can continue to improve, but I don't think you can do a lot of sabermetric analysis on high school or college stats. You still have to rely on projection to determine whether you think a hitter will produce in the majors, or if a pitcher will stay healthy and continue to get outs.

Theo (Houston, TX)

Three Part Question: How does the Felix Pie trade look for the Orioles? Also, do the Cardinals have any one in their farm system who could close next year, or should they trade/sign a free agent? Finally, any predictions or projections for Matt Wieters and Colby Rasmus?

Jim Callis
  (2:07 PM)

I like the Pie trade for the Orioles. He has a chance to be a solid regular and will be more valuable than Garrett Olson. The Cardinals have plenty of closer candidates, starting with Chris Perez and Jason Motte. Adam Riefer is further away. Both Wieters and Rasmus should be one of the top two or three rookies in their leagues this year.

Brian (Warwick, RI)

Do you think that it is worth giving up a first round pick for Jason Varitek, and do you see him resigning with the Sox in the end.

Jim Callis
  (2:07 PM)

I do not, and I anticipate he'll re-sign with the Red Sox.

Trevor (Washigton, DC)

What sort of ballplayer does Heyward project to be? What current/former player is he comparable too?

Jim Callis
  (2:08 PM)

I think he'll be an all-star. He's a big lefthanded hitter who often draws comparisons to the likes of Willie McCovey and Dave Parker.

Ryan (Annapolis, MD)

Jim, two part question. What kind of effect do you see the current economy playing in this years draft. It seems like the money isn't there and more players might opt to go back to school. What is the news on Aaron Crow? He was a big name in the draft last year and I haven't heard his name come up this year. How bad has his stock dropped by not returning to school and signing with a independent team?

Jim Callis
  (2:12 PM)

The average team spends $5 million or $6 million on the draft, a small percentage of its revenues. There may be teams that use the economy as an excuse and cut back on draft spending, but they'll only be hurting themselves. I wonder if MLB will reduce slot recommendations this year. That might be a tough sell for agents and players like it was two years ago, and if they don't, it would be harder for a team to rationalize spending less. Will be interesting to see. Considering teams were happier last year when they spent more than ever before (rather than toeing the line and letting a few teams grab a bunch of extra talent), I don't think we'll see spending reduced significantly.<br><br>As for Crow, he just hasn't come up because he'll be pitching independent ball and that won't start for a while. His stock is the same and he'll still factor in the top 10 picks if he throws as well as expected.

Dennis(Bellingham , MA)

Jim, How would Grant Green rank in the Top 100 prospects if he was eligible? I've seen references on BA.com that he has the best qualities of Longoria and Tulowitzki. That is heavy praise even if it is just projecting.

Jim Callis
  (2:15 PM)

Interesting question. We haven't done our Top 100 yet, but he ranks very favorably to Gordon Beckham, whom the White Sox took eighth overall last June. I'd put Green ahead of Beckham, and I ranked Beckham No. 23 on my personal Top 50 list in the Prospect Handbook.

Derrick (Tulsa, OK)

Do you think the Padres will give Blanks a serious look in LF? Do you think he could stick there? Do you think we'll ever see a Padre lineup with Gonzalez and Blanks?

Jim Callis
  (2:16 PM)

I don't think Blanks would work as an everyday OF. I think it's more likely that the Padres will deal Gonzalez as a cost-cutting/system-bolstering move and replace him with Blanks.

Ana (Chicago IL)

My trade proposal: Harden, Stevens, Hart and Marshall for Peavy. Good deal? If no, who laughs first?

Jim Callis
  (2:16 PM)

I'm not sure the Padres would do that. Doesn't save them much money this year, and if Harden gets hurt, they don't get a frontline player. I think third base prospect Josh Vitters would have to be part of any Peavy-to-the-Cubs deal.

Ed( San Diego,CA)

What is your take on Alex White?

Jim Callis
  (2:17 PM)

I'm just getting geared up for the Early Draft Preview that will run in our next issue that goes to press. White is the No. 2 starting pitching prospect in this draft, behind Stephen Strasburg, and is a lock for the first five picks.

Fred (Carlsbad, CA)

Vitters, Wellington Castillo, Hart, Stevens, Guzman for Peavy? Both ends happy?

Jim Callis
  (2:18 PM)

That might work from both sides.

NextYearDave (Chicago)

Will Kosuke Fukudome bounce back this year? He had a great first two months last year, and then his swing had him spinning into the firstbase dug out by the time the ball got halfway to the plate. Will he fix this going into next year?

Jim Callis
  (2:20 PM)

He struggled so much over the final four months that I'll believe he can adapt when he pulls it off. I'm not a Fukudome fan.

Brent (Atlanta)

Jim- Would it make sense to you for a team who has already forfieted its highest draft pick (like the yankees, Braves, etc.) to sign Veritek, and then flip him to a team in need of a catcher who doesn't want to lose the compensation pick. It seems the teams could arrange a trade for a player more valuable then the low pick actually sacraficed, but less valuable then the player that in theory should have been sacraficed. Like a three team deal to get around the harsh compensation rules.

Jim Callis
  (2:20 PM)

If teams tried to circumvent the compensation rules, MLB would step in and not allow it to happen.

Nate (Chapel Hill):

Hey Jim, Keith Law has Lars Anderson as the #7 overall prospect on his top 100...would you rank him that high? Thanks.

Jim Callis
  (2:21 PM)

I ranked him at No. 13 on my Top 50. There's not a big difference between No. 7 and No. 13, to be honest. You're talking about the cream of the minor league crop and splitting hairs to sort them out.

Mike (Seattle)

Should the Mariners take Ackley, White, or Green? Ackley safest, Green highest upside?

Jim Callis
  (2:22 PM)

Seattle picks No. 2, and the assumption is that Strasburg will be gone. I'd take Green because up-the-middle athletes who can hit are very hard to find. Could be tempted by Ackley if he showed he could handle CF.

Jim (NJ)

Who is your sleeper in the Yankees system? Thanks.

Jim Callis
  (2:24 PM)

If we're talking about a guy who didn't make our Top 30 list, I'll say RHP Kevin Whelan or 2B Damon Sublett.

Scott (Snowy Rochester New York)

Which 1B prospect is likely to have the most long and productive career -- Hosmer, Smoak or LaPorta?

Jim Callis
  (2:26 PM)

Hosmer.

Jeff (NYC)

Bigger chance of a comeback --- Andruw Jones or the stock market?

Jim Callis
  (2:27 PM)

Stock market.

KO (Pittsfield, MA)

Good Day Mr. Callis. How much does the length of time a prospect is away from the big leagues play in your rankings? Heyward and Mad Bum should be great, but are further away than say a Colby Rasmus as a random example. Thanks.

Jim Callis
  (2:29 PM)

Our rankings tend to look at the long-term picture, but we do look at how much players have proven and how far away they are from the majors. For instance, I think Heyward might have a little more upside than Rasmus, but I'd take Rasmus over him right now because he has proven a lot more.

Neven (Stroudsburg PA)

Hi Jim, Grant Green or Alicedes Escobar? Why? Thanks!

Jim Callis
  (2:31 PM)

Green. He's not as flashy defensively but he's solid, and I believe in the bat more.

jack (chicago)

You spoke on today's trade for the cubs, how do you feel about the additions or miles and bradley. Also, who will lead off for the cubs this year?

Jim Callis
  (2:33 PM)

I haven't liked many of the Cubs' moves this offseason. Seems like their plan centered around getting Bradley, but I don't buy that he can stay healthy and play the OF on a regular basis. They also overpaid for him on the current market, and that led to the trade of DeRosa, whom they're really miss. Miles is a poor substitute for DeRosa.

Steven Irvine CA

im in a really bad lecture on roman history. should i leave?

Jim Callis
  (2:33 PM)

I would definitely recommend sneaking out and heading to a Pick Up Stix for lunch. Wish I could.

Mike (San Diego)

Matt Bush: Over/Under 1 major league inning?

Jim Callis
  (2:34 PM)

Under.

Goose (Chicago)

Come on Jim, isn't Mike Fontenot far more likely to play every day than Miles?

Jim Callis
  (2:35 PM)

They see Miles as their supersub filling in everywhere like DeRosa did. I don't see it. I would definitely play Fontenot over Miles at 2B.

Peter (Evanston)

How about a question for a fellow Chicago northsider? The hype on Bryce Harper is pretty big, and I have heard the "#1 overall this year" talk if he was eligible. But is this based upon pure projection, or are his skills that good right now? If he was draft eligible right now, would he be good enough to play some level of A ball right away?

Jim Callis
  (2:36 PM)

He's pretty impressive right now. That said, I don't think he'd go No. 1 ahead of Strasburg this year. He'd be the favorite for 2010 right now if he were part of that draft. If he was part of the 2009 draft, he'd probably start his career in Rookie ball like almost all HS first-rounders do.

NextYearDave (Chicago)

What do you think of the WBC idea? Ryan Dempster is on record as saying, pitchers aren't ready to throw in those high pressure situations, and that at that time he is just trying to get his fastball over the plate and not ready to throw knee buckling breaking balls to All-Star players in what is a World Series like conditions.

Jim Callis
  (2:38 PM)

I'm not a huge fan of the WBC. I'll watch some but I won't cancel any plans to sit in front of the TV. It's not a true World Series-like competition. It's a series of exhibitions with players who aren't in peak condition and pitchers on tight pitch limits.

J.P. (Springfield, IL)

After Price, who is the top pitcher in the minors in your eyes - Hanson or Feliz?

Jim Callis
  (2:38 PM)

Madison Bumgarner.

Eric (albany)

Do you see Jarrod Parker ending up in the pen or the front of the rotation?

Jim Callis
  (2:39 PM)

Front of the rotation. He's not the biggest pitcher but he throws strikes and has an effortless delivery.

Kevin (Chicago, IL)

What type of signing bonus do you think Bryce Harper could command if he was eligible like an international signing (Michael Inoa) right now? Is this a major flaw in the current system that international born players have a distinct baseball advantage over American born players by being able to sign and play professionally at a much younger age? Of course the social and long-term ramifications of doing that are probably incredible.

Jim Callis
  (2:41 PM)

It is a flaw in the system. Baseball recommends specific bonuses for every player in the draft. Go back to 1996, when four first-rounders became free agents. Two of them (Travis Lee, Matt White) signed for five times what the No. 1 overall pick that year (Kris Benson) got, which shows you how much the draft keeps salaries got down. Harper would be less of a risk than Inoa because he has faced better competition and wouldn't have to adapt to a new culture. If he were a free agent right now, he might command as much as $10 million.

Lowman OP, KS

Brooks Melchior or Jack Bauer?

Jim Callis
  (2:42 PM)

No offense to my successful former college roommate, but I'll go with Jack. "24" continues its strong run so far this season.

Joseph (Sacramento, CA)

Earlier in the chat you stated Matt Harvey from UNC as the favorite to go #1, however you also have him ranked below Stasburg and White. Why?

Jim Callis
  (2:42 PM)

I said Harvey would go No. 1 in 2010. Or at least I meant to.

sim (stockton, ca)

do you have noonan ranked ahead of gilaspie?

Jim Callis
  (2:43 PM)

Yes, but it's very close.

Josh (Los Angeles)

When you are evaluating a young player, what skills have the most chance to improve over time and what skills are mostly set with little chance for improvement?

Jim Callis
  (2:44 PM)

Chance to improve: power for hitters, velocity for pitchers (assuming there's projection remaining). Little chance: running speed for hitters, quality of breaking ball for pitchers. In most cases, a player is not going to improve his breaking ball by more than a full grade, if that.

Bill (Philly)

Any comments on the Torre book?

Jim Callis
  (2:44 PM)

Yawn.

Ben (Centerville, OH)

Lightning Round: True or False: After hitting 23 HR in pitcher friendly High A Sarasota, Reds 3B prospect Juan Francisco will hit over 30 HR in hitter Friendly AA Carolina.

Jim Callis
  (2:47 PM)

Let's launch the lightning round . . . I'll say False. I think Double-A pitchers will exploit his lack of plate discipline. He'll still hit a lot of homers, but less than 30.

Kyle (FL)

Lightning round - Tillman or Feliz?

Jim Callis
  (2:47 PM)

Feliz.

Matthew (Boston)

Dominic Brown or Michael Saunders?

Jim Callis
  (2:47 PM)

Brown.

Kyle (OH)

What about Bryce Harper as #1 in 2010?

Jim Callis
  (2:48 PM)

Eligible in 2011.

Tom (Brooklyn, NY)

Matusz, Holland, or Tillman?

Jim Callis
  (2:48 PM)

Matusz.

Mike (ny)

clay buchholz or phill hughes who will end up as the better pitcher down the road? and do you still see them both as top line guys?

Jim Callis
  (2:48 PM)

Buchholz. Still think Buchholz can be a No. 2 starter, Hughes a No. 3.

Kyle (OH)

Pie, Reimold, or A. Jones?

Jim Callis
  (2:49 PM)

Jones.

Charles (San Jose)

Best sidekick on a championship roster, Schilling or Almeida?

Jim Callis
  (2:49 PM)

Schilling. Tony is too volatile, could go south on you for a while.

Tim (St. Paul, MN)

Carlos Gomez, Ben Revere, or Aaron Hicks?

Jim Callis
  (2:49 PM)

Hicks.

John (Portland, ME)

Over/Under - 15 appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen from Daniel Bard this season.

Jim Callis
  (2:49 PM)

Under.

Dave (PA)

BUY or SELL: Jhoulys Chacin as a top 50 prospect?

Jim Callis
  (2:50 PM)

I ranked him No. 48 on my list.

Josh (Saratoga NY)

Who is the best of the recent International signees? Viciedo, Inoa, Tazawa? What do you see as their ceiling?

Jim Callis
  (2:50 PM)

Inoa has the highest ceiling, Tazawa is the safest bet among them. Inoa and Viciedo could be all-stars, while Tazawa could be a No. 3 starter, if we're talking ceilings.

Ben (Centerville, OH)

24 has been exciting, but I am still having trouble getting past the "CIP Device". So what you're saying is that I can pump up a PS3 motherboard and control the entire country, and they will be powerless to stop me?

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

You do have to suspend your disbelief. I made a similar crack about the all-powerful CIP device watching the last episode. Do we know what CIP stands for?

Burning up in Reston, Va

Washington's #1 pick = Strasburg T/F

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

True.

Greg (KC)

True or False: With Hosmer and Moustakas the Royals have the best combination of hitters in the minors?

Jim Callis
  (2:52 PM)

True.

Matt P. Apex, NC

Jesus Montero in left field?

Jim Callis
  (2:52 PM)

Sounds like a stretch to me. First base is his most likely position.

Ike (Hell, MI)

Morrison or Maybin?

Jim Callis
  (2:52 PM)

Logan Morrison.

Tom (philly)

Better prospect: Inoa or R. Rodriguez

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Inoa.

Ben (Atlanta)

Freddie Freeman: buy or sell?

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Buy.

Jason (Arlington, VA)

Where can I find your team by team minor league rankings?

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Get a copy of the new Prospect Handbook!

Nick (Milwaukee)

Reid Brignac: lost cause? Chances he becomes a JJ Hardy type player?

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Not a lost cause. He still can become that kind of player.

Mike (CT)

This there a place where I can find a list of the best college players in the country?

Jim Callis
  (2:54 PM)

Try baseballamerica.com.

Brad (Georgia)

Cole Rohrbough or Jeff Locke?

Jim Callis
  (2:54 PM)

Rohrbough, though I like them both.

Jeff (NYC)

Steelers or Cardinals?

Jim Callis
  (2:54 PM)

Steelers. And I don't say that because I'm a Steelers fan.

Ben (Atlanta)

Gorkys Hernandez or Jordan Shaffer?

Jim Callis
  (2:54 PM)

Schafer.

Burning up in Reston, Va

Nat's #10 pick = ?

Jim Callis
  (2:55 PM)

That will be interesting, because they don't get another comp pick if they don't sign this one. I'll say Missouri RHP Kyle Gibson.

Keith (Chicago)

Laffey or Huff?

Jim Callis
  (2:55 PM)

Huff.

Rob (Brighton, MA)

True or False: the sox brass is over-valuing Michael Bowden.

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

False. He has a chance to be a No. 3 starter and not much left to prove in the minors.

Tim (KC)

Z. Wheeler or J. Turner?

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Turner.

Scotty (NY)

Tim Beckham = B.J. Upton...or better?

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Better SS. Not that kind of hitter but a good hitter.

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Better SS. Not that kind of hitter but a good hitter.

Rob (Brighton, MA)

Girl scout cookies: Thin Mints or Peanut Butter Patties?

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

Thin Mints. Though I'd take Caramel deLites over both of them.

Ian (Atlanta, GA)

Schafer Over or under rated.

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

Underrated.

Jack Bauer

Best way to end the series: me dying or me being happy for once?

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

Going out in a blaze of glory would be the best, probably, but would preclude any movies. So I don't see that happening.

Eric (Brooklyn)

do you see a possible future for Moustakas behind the plate?

Jim Callis
  (3:00 PM)

Some scouts were intrigued by that possibility when he was an amateur, and he has the arm to pull it off, but I don't think we'll see it. To move him there now would really slow down his development.

Patrick (Aberdeen, MD)

Is Rich Hill cooked or can he find the plate again and be successful?

Jim Callis
  (3:00 PM)

Probably needs a change of scenery to get a chance.

John (Miami)

Heyward or Snider

Jim Callis
  (3:01 PM)

In the long run, Heyward.

Ryan (NS)

Jim, can Adam Loewen be the next Rick Ankiel?

Jim Callis
  (3:01 PM)

He has a chance.

John (Charlotte, NC)

Sox minor league outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin is being compared to BJ Upton..is this correct?

Jim Callis
  (3:01 PM)

Um, no. That's insane.

Sean (FL)

Then are the Rangers UNDERVALUING Bowden since they keep asking for Bucholtz?

Jim Callis
  (3:02 PM)

Not necessarily. I'd ask for Buchholz too.

Tom (Detroit)

Did you like Vitters better than Moustakas when they were drafted?

Jim Callis
  (3:03 PM)

I did not. I preferred Moustakas, albeit slightly.

David (New York, NY)

Which team has the better farm system overall, Atlanta or Minnesota?

Jim Callis
  (3:03 PM)

Braves.

Joseph (Sacramento, CA)

Where would Strasburg rank right now on the top 100?

Jim Callis
  (3:04 PM)

In the Top 10 somewhere.

Greg (KC)

Last time I will ask...Mike Aviles or Alexei Ramirez?

Jim Callis
  (3:05 PM)

Not sold on either guy long term. I'll say Ramirez.

John Boy (Cincinnati)

Homer Bailey.... boom or bust?

Jim Callis
  (3:07 PM)

I still have hope for Homer, but he needs to come out strong this spring. And with that, I'll leave you until next Wednesday.

Jim Callis
  (3:07 PM)

I still have hope for Homer, but he needs to come out strong this spring. And with that, I'll leave you until next Wednesday.