Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late -- draft calls and all that. Let's get to your questions without further delay.
How about that Jason Knapp? I'm resisting the urge to bust out the annoiting oil, but will he be in Clearwater by midseason?
Knapp has a big-time arm and has shown it this April. He's fresh out of high school, though, so I bet the Phillies take it slow.
Last I heard, Michael Inoa had yet to report to camp due to "personal problems". Doesn't sound good for a teenager with $4 Million Dollars in signing bonus. What is the latest on his status?
You've heard what we've heard. No one seems to know what the "personal problems" are. MLB has taken a harder line investigating ages and identities, even on players they cleared last year, no idea if Inoa is involved with that.
do you think poythress or stassi will be there for the white sox?
At No. 23 . . . Maybe. Poythress has had a huge year, but he's also limited to first base, so the White Sox could go the University of Georgia route two years in a row. The consensus would be that Stassi should be available there, but a couple teams ahead of the White Sox could be tempted.
Jim - I'm hoping you can settle a debate for me. Do you think that if the Red Sox knew what they knew now, they would have traded for Josh Beckett? It seems to me they would have been better off signing Burnett, but my friend disagrees...
Yes, they would make that deal all over again. Beckett is a huge reason why they won the 2007 World Series. It's a trade that helped both clubs, even if the Red Sox gave up Hanley Ramirez.
Heath Bell for Niemann and Hellickson of Tampa. Who says No? Bell makes just over a million this year and is arb. eligible next so he's fairly cheap money wise and is an upgrade in Tampa's pen.
Interesting, but I wonder if the Rays would turn that down.
O's draft question - if the O's draft Ackley at 6, can't he stay at 1b? O's need infield prospects. I keep reading Ackley's value is in the OF. Why not at 1B? Lack of HRs?
Ackley certainly could stay at first base. He'd just have a lot more value as a center fielder, and he has the athleticism to give that a shot. If the Orioles get his bat at No. 6, he'll be a steal. He should hit for a high average with 20 homers a year, and he may develop more power than that.
Jim, do you think the Cubs would miss much if they went with a Jake Fox / Micah Hoffpauir platoon at 1B instead of Derrek Lee? Also, is Fox that bad of a catcher?
They'd probably get similar production, less average but more power, and it would be a lot cheaper. The chances of this happening without Lee are next to nothing, though. Fox is a pretty bad defender anywhere, and he has no chance to catch in the big leagues other than in an emergency.
From the moment I read about a switch pitcher in the annual's section on the Yankees, I wanted to hear more. Could Venditte switch during an AB? An IP? Does it make him ideal for relief: saving two roster spots? Fun stuff, fun to speculate on.
I believe Venditte has to decide which way he's going to pitch to each batter, and can switch back and forth from hitter to hitter. The only intrigue comes when he faces a switch-hitter, but he just picks a side and they go from there.
Is this year's draft class below-average, or does the gap between Strasburg and the field just make it feel that way?
I think scouts always wish there was more talent in any given year, but veteran guys will tell you that even in a thin draft, there's talent out there and you just have to find it. This draft isn't outstanding, especially in terms of college position players, who look even worse compared to last year's crop. And the lack of a clear No. 2 guy behind Strasburg doesn't help. That said, Strasburg may be the draft's best pitching prospect ever, and there's a lot of college pitching, which teams always seek. High school catchers are another area of strength.
Would he have to keep a second glove on the mound? Man, this is why I love baseball. You just think you've seen it all with Kieshnick and Owings, and bam, something like this comes along.
And we had the first Micah vs. Micah homer ever in big league history last night (Hoffpauir off Owings). Venditte has a reversible glove.
I saw Creighton play Nebraska once when Venditte was throwing for Creighton. The batter kept calling time and switching sides, then Venditte would, then the batter again. Finally after like 5 times the ump made Venditte pick. On a side note, I'm not sure he has major league stuff from either side, let alone both.
He doesn't really. He's got decent stuff as a righty and fringy stuff as a lefty, but he is fun to watch.
How about that HS kid who just threw 4 straight no hitters? When is he draft eligible and is he the favorite for #1 pick?
He's draft eligible this year, but he's not going to be a first-rounder by any means. Patrick Schuster has decent stuff and good command, and he throws from a low arm angle. My guess is he winds up attending Florida next year rather than signing.
And Venditte's dad had a Japanese glove maker make him a custom 6 fingered glove. It's incredibly goofey looking.
I need to refer the Venditte questions to Ben. As a reward for his Venditte info, I'll answer one of his questions . . .
Do you think it would be a good decision for the White Sox to call up Aaron Poreda to replace Clayton Richard in the pen? If he does well perhaps we have an option should Contreras or Colon go down. Richard seems to have dropped the ball in this role.
Poreda has been battling control so far this year, and I wouldn't bring him up until he straightens that out. I'm not a big Richard fan, and Poreda definitely has more upside. Not a big fan of Contreras or Colon at the back of the rotation--the White Sox have some pitching issues.
Jim, Reese Havens is off to a torrid start down here. Ideally, can he become a poor mans Chase Utley at 2B for the Mets?
That seems fair enough.
Is he the only guy getting is questions answered today? Can I have your thoughts on Brad Bergeson? Thanks.
Nice major league debut, very nice minor league numbers, but in the long run I think he's more of a middle reliever than a starter. His stuff is average, but he keeps it down and keeps hitters off balance.
Brett Wallace or Gordon Beckham?
Beckham. I think the White Sox will need him quicker than the Cardinals will need Wallace, but it will be close.
Predictions on the first five taken in the draft?
Stephen Strasburg should go No. 1 to the Nationals, and after that, it's still anyone's guess. If I were drafting for everyone, Grant Green, Dustin Ackley, Alex White and Kyle Gibson would be my next four picks, but that's just me and there's no consensus.
Would you care to boldly proclaim that I'm better than Ellsbury already?
Not yet, but you will be in time.
I've heard many opinions on whay Brandon Wood is up but might not play much. What's your opinion?
He needs to play. He has nothing left to prove and if the Angels can't find AB for him, they should trade him for some pitching help.
Are you impressed with Casey Kelly's first three starts? 15 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 12 Ks, 0 R.
Very much so. As I've said many times, the Red Sox would love for him to have so much success on the mound that he decides to focus on that full-time.
Any chance Crow falls to the O's at 6? He'd be great paired with Matusz.
You know, I forgot about Crow a second ago because he hasn't pitched yet. He could be there at No. 6 and would give the Orioles the top two pitching prospects from the 2008 draft.
Mariners question. Pretender or Contender? With recent injuries to the 3 other teams in the division, is it too early start thinking they have a realistic shot?
The new Mariners brain trust put a lot of effort into upgrading their defense, a big reason the Rays surged forward last year. With injuries riddling the other teams, the Mariners could stay in that race for a long time.
I have a draft crush on AJ Morris this year, what's your take on him? He fit in the 3rd-5th round area?
That's about right. Morris has had a terrific season for Kansas State, consistently showing a low-90s fastball and a good slider. If he had more of a changeup and was a little bigger, he'd be a potential first-rounder.
Love the stuff over at BA, when are you gonna really start pumping out the draft stuff? Thanks, can't wait
We're working feverishly toward our Draft Preview, which hits the printer and the website in mid-May. But we just posted a midseason updated Top 50 Prospects list last week and we blog draft items every day. Aaron Fitt's excellent college coverage is another good source of draft dope. So come visit baseballamerica.com more often!
Why is Strasburg considered a better draft prospect than Price? What makes him better?
His fastball and breaking ball are better than Price's, which were very good. I think Price still has an argument though, as a lefty who proved himself against a much tougher college schedule than Strasburg.
What is your take on Zach Wheeler? Does he figure to go in the top 10 in the draft?
HS pitcher from Georgia whose stock is rising, keep hearing he'll go in the first 10 picks. The Braves like local guys, so maybe he's their man at No. 7.
Long-term...Bruce or Snider?
Love your work Jim. Not to sound nitpicky but I believe Baltimore picks 5th not 6th. If Desmond Jennings continues the way he has started, will he have vaulted into the top 20 prospects in baseball?
That is true, should have corrected those questions. I don't think Jennings will maintain his .380/.426/.640 tear, but if he did, yeah, he'd rise up the charts. And if he doesn't, he'll still be one of the better CF prospects in the game.
"Better" defender at 3rd - Sandoval or Wallace?
Wallace, but that's not exactly a beauty contest with those two.
Earlier you said you would take Grant Green over Ackley? What is your thinking here? Grant playing a tougher position? Concerns that Ackley can't play CF? Do you have more hope for Green's bat than he has shown so far? Just curious, I know they are pretty close.
It's close but I'll take the SS over the maybe CF. I think Green's bat will be just fine. He was great on the Cape last summer.
If Gibson fell all the way down to 10, it is safe to say that the Nats could potentially have there future #1 and #2 pitchers in one draft?
Sure, but don't count Jordan Zimmermann out either.
Josh Spence has been outstanding for the Sun Devils this season. What round do you see him drafted in and will he have success at the pro level with his finesse stuff?
See the latest Ask BA I did at <a href="http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask-ba/2009/267989.html">http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask-ba/2009/267989.html</a>. Great year and I wouldn't bet against him as a pro, but he won't be a high pick.
How does Grant Green compare to Gordon Beckham?
Green was more highly regarded than Beckham going into their draft year, but Beckham had a better draft year. Similar players, though. They were teammates on Yarmouth-Dennis' Cape championship club in 2007.
Have you ever seen a healthy, mid-first round college slugger get off to a worse start than Ike Davis? I haven't played baseball since grade school and I could put up the numbers he's posted last year and so far again this year. What gives?
I can't remember one. Not sure where the power has gone. He did have a strained oblique last summer, but no homers in 262 pro at-bats is puzzling.
Do you see Bryce Harper getting his GED and attending JuCo to be eligible for next year's draft instead of 2010's? I've heard several rumors to that effect. Thanks, Jim.
I addressed that in an Ask BA column, but I haven't had anyone in baseball suggest that might happen.
Two weeks ago I watched 24 in HD and Elisha Cuthbert looked like she had lost A TON off of her fastball. This week I watched 24 on regular (standard?) definition and she looked like the same knockout we all remember. Is it possible that her look has not changed but her past flaws were hidden by regular definition and are now that much clearer in HD?
Jim - What is the current status of Daniel Moskos? Bigger draft blunder considering who the teams could have drafted: Padres taking Bush instead of Weaver/Drew or Buccos taking Moskos instead of Wieters?
Considering who they could have drafted, it has to be Wieters. The Padres made a series of mistakes, and their process was more flawed than Pittsburgh's.
Let's launch the lightning round.
What do you think of the Rangers decision to bring up Holland in a relief role? Would he not be better served to get more innings as a starter in the minors?
Don't have a problem with it. Break him into the big leagues in a less stressful role, and the Rangers could use a quality arm in the bullpen. The Orioles used to do this with their starters years ago, and they had a lot of success with it.
Engel Beltre: just a slump?
Sure . . . don't read too much into a couple weeks worth of minor league stats.
Donovan Tate or Cameron Maybin as high school prospects?
Very similar. I think Maybin was very slightly ahead if I had to pick one.
Shelby Miller vs. Jacob Turner
Ceiling: Friedrich vs. Chacin
Your a GM on the board: Mike Leake or Andrew Oliver?
Based on this spring, Leake.
This year and long term: Jesus Flores or Saltalamacchia?
Come on Jim, please answer. How good can Trevor Reckling be in the majors?
Ceiling of a No. 3-4 starter.
Chris Valaika or Zach Cozart?
long term - Michael Stanton or Jay Bruce?
Better pro: John Shelby or Brandon Allen?
Wallace or Alvarez?
Kemp, Rasmus, Bruce, or Fowler?
Is Wieters' injury serious?
Nope. Just a minor strain of his right hamstring.
Bucholtz or Masterson - Red Sox 5th starter the rest of the way?
Don't forget Smoltz, too. I think Masterson will wind up back in the bullpen and Buchholz in the rotation before the end of the season.
Beckham--I know he's been playing 2B, but can he force Alexei out of SS?
Ramirez is off to a slow start, but he's a more fluid defender than Beckham. I continue to wonder if the White Sox would be a better club with Ramirez in CF and Beckham at SS.
Is Pie a lost cause?
Not a lost cause but I don't think he'll ever be a star. His instincts aren't great and he plays below his tools.
Who has better control than Greinke right now?
No one. The guy is an artist.
Nats Rizzo = Good evaluator ?
Very good evaluator.
Hicks or Beckham? I know they play different positions.
Gordon or Tim? I'd take either Beckham over Hicks, but I do like Hicks as well.
Right now: Francouer or Heyward?
Heyward needs more minor league time, but I'd take him and suffer through the learning process.
Schafer or McCutchen?
Beau Mills vs. Poythress
Hughes or Wang?
Better career - Kyle Drabek or Doug Drabek?
Doug has set the bar high, so I'll take him. But Kyle is making a very nice comeback from Tommy John surgery.
I know it's ealry on Sabathia, but he's had a few starts now with low Ks and higher BB rates than typical for him. Any ideas, or do we jsut chalk it up to small sample
Small sample and he started slow last year, but it has to be at least a little worrisome for the Yankees. He even gave up a homer to the A's today.
Boscan or Font?
Billingsley or Josh Johnson?
Stanton or Heyward?
Lunch and draft calls beckon, so I'll see you next week.