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February 24, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Baseball America's Jim Callis

Jim Callis
  (2:03 PM)

Hi, everyone. Let's start with a few Top 100 questions and we'll see how far that takes us . . .

Jason Heyward (Sunny Orlando)

Do you think I'm getting too hyped ? The Braves have a lot of confidence in me winning the RF job. Do you think a couple of more months at AAA might be better? Thanks for the #1 prospect ranking.

Jim Callis
  (2:05 PM)

I think it's hard to overhype a guy who has the best combination of hitting for average and power in the minors, who controls the strike zone so well, is athletic and is just 20. It won't shock me at all if he gets some Triple-A time so the Braves can delay his free agency and arbitration, but I believe he's ready now.

Ben (Leland Grove)

I find it interesting how 80 Power grades were given to Montero, Stanton and Alvarez on your Top 100, yet Carter was given a 75. I've read reports that say Carter has true 40+ HR potential. While the difference is pretty much negligible, can you tell us what separates these two grades?

Jim Callis
  (2:06 PM)

The difference is pretty negligible. We like Montero, Stanton and Alvarez' usable power just a little bit more than Carter's, but his grade was definitely on the fence. Some evaluators would rank him right with the others.

JAYPERS (IL)

Which five prospects just missed? (#s 101-105)

Jim Callis
  (2:09 PM)

The five guys I liked the best who didn't make it were: Diamondbacks 3B Bobby Borchering, Royals 1B Eric Hosmer, Marlins 3B Matt Dominguez, Orioles 1B Brandon Snyder and Twins OF Ben Revere. In retrospect, I wish I had pushed harder for Red Sox SS Jose Iglesias (everyone I ask about him can't stop gushing about his defense) and Cubs SS Hak-Ju Lee.

Kyle (Fort Lauderdale)

Jim, How did Matt Dominguez fall from 64 to off the Top 100 in 2010. At Age 19, in a Pitcher's league he held his own.

Jim Callis
  (2:10 PM)

Like I said, I would have put him on there. But "holding your own" isn't the best way to stay on the Top 100. There always have been some questions about his bat, and his 2008 numbers were boosted by Greensboro's park. He hit .262/.333/.420 in high Class A and struggled for a month in Double-A. I do love the glove and believe he'll hit enough to be a solid regular.

Grant (Chicago)

Would you ever consider including the top 100 list in the annual, too, as a nice boon for purchasers?

Jim Callis
  (2:11 PM)

We purposely do not include it in the Handbook so it doesn't steal thunder from our Top 100 issue. We cram plenty of other good stuff in the Handbook to make it worth your while!

Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky)

Jim on the 20-80 scale, does a "plus" tool correlate to a 60 rating, a "plus plus" too correlate to a 70 trating and so on?

Jim Callis
  (2:11 PM)

Yes. Think of the 20-80 scale as kind of a bell curve and it may make more sense.

Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky)

Jim, who do you think has the best chance to be crowned the number one prospect in baseball next season at this time of the year? Personally, I'm thinking Jesus Montero or Dustin Ackley.

Jim Callis
  (2:12 PM)

I'm going to say Montero because I think he'll put up monster numbers and may have a hard time cracking the Yankees lineup.

Grant (Chicago)

Well, I can't imagine this one's going to be busy, Jim. Why would Myers not make the list is Castro and Norris got plenty love? Thanks.

Jim Callis
  (2:13 PM)

Wil Myers has not proven himself at nearly the same level Castro or Norris has, and he's not a lock to stay at catcher. High ceiling but not quite Top 100 material. That said, he just missed and we discussed him for a while.

Dirty Old Prospector (Toronto, Ontario)

I always wonder how much of September success goes into creating your list. For instance, Mad Bum and Feliz showed good success at a Major league level last September though it was in limited innings yet they are ranked lower then Montero, and Stanton. I know that future outlook is a high component on these lists but if the idea behind a prospect list is to indicate the players that will have a successful career should emphasis not be put on those that have shown it at that level.

Jim Callis
  (2:15 PM)

We do look at the amount of success achieved and what level it comes as. I like Madison Bumgarner more than most, but I'm not going to use his 10 big league innings as a big selling point. Others worry about his velocity drop last year. Feliz pitched 31 terrific big league innings, which helped his cause. But if I consider two talents similar, I'll lean toward the hitter because they're easier to project and keep healthy, and I think there's a chance that Feliz stays a reliever in the long run, affecting his value.

Brad (Fayetteville, FL)

Saw that Alexander Colome made the BA top 100 prospect list. Does he have ace potential if he harnesses his control?

Jim Callis
  (2:16 PM)

Yes he does. He has a pair of potential out pitches in his mid-90s fastball and hard curveball. His changeup has good life, too.

Wes (Houston)

I know it is extremely early, but right now who is your top prep pitcher and top prep hitter for the 2011 draft?

Jim Callis
  (2:18 PM)

Our top-rated prep pitcher is lefty Daniel Norris from Johnson City, Tenn., and our top HS hitter is outfielder Dwight Smith from Peachtree City, Ga.

Chip (Cleveland)

Rondon doesn't make the top 100? How many guys who had legit success in AAA at 21 aren't top 100 prospects?

Jim Callis
  (2:19 PM)

I like Hector Rondon a good deal, but he also has one plus pitch (his fastball), a solid changeup and a fringy breaking ball. That's not enough to make a Top 100 for me.

Quinton (Toronto)

I have read in a couple of places that the pitcher who's "stuff" matches up closest with Taillon is Karsten Whitson. I had thought it was Taillon and Cole as the top prep pitching prospects for this year's draft. Is Whitson in the conversation?

Jim Callis
  (2:20 PM)

Whitson is in the conversation. We rated him the seventh-best prospect in the 2010 draft in our Early Draft Preview. His stuff is a little better than Cole's right now, while Cole had more projection remaining. Neither is short in either department.

Gerald (St. Louis)

Is Elvis Andrus a good comp for Starlin Castro?

Jim Callis
  (2:21 PM)

I don't really think so. Andrus is a flashy defender with a solid bat, while I think Castro will be a solid defender and stick out more offensively.

DaveH (Savannah)

Jim, thanks for the chat. If you were starting a new franchise and had to choose between Matzek and Friedrich, who do you go with? I realize Matzek may have the higher ceiling, but is it higher enough to pick him knowing the numbers Friedrich put up in 09?

Jim Callis
  (2:22 PM)

It's a tough call. Matzek has a higher ceiling, but Friedrich is further developed and doesn't have bad stuff at all. I'd take Matzek, but I'd usually gamble on upside.

DaveH (Savannah)

How close was Manny Banuelos to making the list? Did he have any strong buzz from any scouts you talked to or have you seen him play yourself?

Jim Callis
  (2:24 PM)

Not particularly close. He's well regarded, but he's more of a finesse lefthander than someone who overwhelms you with stuff (average fastball, fringy curveball, solid changeup). I want to see finesse lefties succeed above low Class A before I get excited.

john (va)

Jim, no Kalish or Iglesias in the top 100??

Jim Callis
  (2:27 PM)

I think I mentioned this earlier, but I regret not squeezing Iglesias on there. I still am dubious of the track record of Cuban defectors, and no one really knows how much he'll hit. But I didn't realize how strongly evaluators believe that he's the best defensive shortstop in the minors, and I'd rank him higher than No. 9 on the Red Sox Top 10 if I redid it today. Kalish creates a lot of split opinion. Half the scouts I talked to think he's a solid regular, while half think he's a tweener who doesn't really fit in center or on a corner. I lean more toward the former opinion, but that's ultimately what cost him on the Top 100.

Jeff (Chicago)

As a Pirate fan, I have been pleased with the direction the team has taken the last few years. But now, with the cupboard bare of highly coveted trade commodities, this year's draft strategy is super important. What should they look to do, similar to last year (lower cost first round, splash money around later) or to the year before (spend big money on first round)?

Jim Callis
  (2:29 PM)

I'd always advocate doing both, taking the best player available in the first round (they're picking No. 2) and also making huge investments lower in the draft. They've spent more money than any club on the last two drafts ($18.7 million) and a similar investment in 2010 would allow them to utilize both strategies.

Renegade (Toronto)

How far off the list was Zach Stewart?

Jim Callis
  (2:29 PM)

Not too far. I think if more of us believed he was a legitimate starter (I think he's more of a reliever), he would have made it.

Ryan (Indy)

What kind of ceiling does Edward Salcedo have? Would he have cracked your top 100?

Jim Callis
  (2:30 PM)

Personally, I wouldn't have put him in the Top 100 because there has been so much uncertainty about his age. He has the ceiling to be an all-star, but a lot of big-money international guys wind up being busts.

Ian (OK)

Aaron Hicks best comp?

Jim Callis
  (2:31 PM)

Maybe Torii Hunter with a better arm? Though Hicks is also more advanced than Hunter was at the same age.

Patrick (ATL)

If you were a betting man, what would you guess that Lars Anderson will do this year and in the next couple of years?

Jim Callis
  (2:32 PM)

I predict he bounces back and still think he has a chance of becoming the star I did a year ago.

Danny (PA)

Out of these, who (if any) are decent or better bets to be top 100 guys in 2011 or beyond: Tommy Joseph, Guillermo Pimentel, Daniel Fields, Brandon Jacobs, Rymer Liriano, Roman Mendez, Miguel Velazquez, Richard Alvarez, Robinson Lopez, Jonathan Singleton, and Dae Eun Rhee?

Jim Callis
  (2:33 PM)

I will pick one hitter and one pitcher: Tommy Joseph and Dae Eun Rhee.

Tom (Boston)

Jim, what percentage of the questions you are getting today look something like "why do you guys hate [player rated by BA as a Top 50 prospect in all of baseball] so much? He should be in the Top 10!!!!111!!!!"

Jim Callis
  (2:35 PM)

Surprisingly, not really any. These lists are always polarizing because people usually believe their favorite player is ranked too low and their favorite team is underrepresented, but there has been no venom this year.

Jeff (NYC)

Jim, sorry but where are these rankings located? On ESPN.com?

Jim Callis
  (2:35 PM)

<a href="http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2010/269546.html">http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2010/269546.html</a>

Jay (Near Baltimore)

Where would Bryce Harper rank if he were already in pro ball?

Jim Callis
  (2:38 PM)

No higher than fifth, behind Jesus Montero, and probably not lower than 12th, behind Dustin Ackley.

Jack (BOSTON)

In the handbook, Verlander was name-dropped in Younginer's write-up. Does he have anything close to that type of upside?

Jim Callis
  (2:38 PM)

He has that kind of upside but also is a long ways from reaching it.

Jason (Atlanta)

Martin Perez or Julio Teheran?

Jim Callis
  (2:39 PM)

Perez, pretty easily. When I was working on my column about who had the best tools in the minors, one thing that came up was that Perez has three pitches that flash as 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale at times. Plus he's lefthanded and has accomplished more than Teheran.

Rory (NYC)

Did Jon Niese not fit the criteria for the top 100 list? Has he hit his major league minimum appearances or innings threshold? If not, why did he not appear? If so, where would he have ranked?

Jim Callis
  (2:40 PM)

He's still eligible, but his stuff is more solid than plus and that kept him off the list.

Mark (NJ)

Cashman said last week that he feels Montero has one of the best arms in the minors, does that mean he would project as a better defender than Piazza was? Regardless, its not like Jorge has ever been a great receiver.

Jim Callis
  (2:41 PM)

You can project him as a better defender than Piazza, though he's no lcok to be a catcher. He has a strong arm, but he also has a long arm action that undercuts it. He needs to get more accurate and quicker with his throws, and improve his receiving. That said, the easiest way to get him in the lineup may be at catcher so I wouldn't rule that out.

Jay (Melville)

I thought a bell curve was an upside down U. Where 20-80 sounds like a straight line going up on an angle.

Jim Callis
  (2:42 PM)

A bell curve in the sense of how the grades would be distributed among players.

Sam (Lee, MA)

You mentioned in response to Dave's question that you'd usually gamble on a prospect's upside. What factors would make you sway away from that gamble?

Jim Callis
  (2:44 PM)

I meant more if I'm on the fence between two guys. You always have to balance upside with the likelihood of reaching that upside.

Chris (Northern Virginia)

Hello Jim, thanks for the chat. We all know that prospecting is sometimes very hit or miss. With that said, how confident are you that Heyward will become an all-star, and how confident were you that Delmon Young would become an all-star. Is Heyward plate discipline the key difference? Thanks, Jim.

Jim Callis
  (2:44 PM)

Very confident in Heyward. I'll be shocked if he's not a star. I won't pretend I didn't believe in Young either, but Heyward sticks out as having much better plate discipline and makeup.

Jacob (Provo, UT)

Is there any possibility that the MLB will add a salary cap to prevent such a difference in salaries among the teams?

Jim Callis
  (2:45 PM)

The owners would love one, sure, but the players will never agree to it.

John (Somerset, NJ)

Jim, what is the ceiling on LLWS hero Todd Frazier? Solid MLB regular or better?

Jim Callis
  (2:46 PM)

Solid regular is the best bet, but I like him and he has the potential to be an occasional all-star.

scooter (chicago)

what is starlin castro's power ceiling? double digit hrs?

Jim Callis
  (2:46 PM)

Yes. Ceiling is probably 20ish, more likely to hit 15-18.

JC (Brooklyn)

Jim you mentioned the other week that you think they are prepping Freddie Prinze, Jr. to take over for Jack on 24...Do you think it would be a good move? And can I get a 20-80 for Freddie's potential if he does take over...thanks

Jim Callis
  (2:48 PM)

That looks like the backup plan in case Kiefer Sutherland decides to leave. But the show has been horrible (especially the writing this year)--I'd give it a 35 on the 20-80 scale--that I don't know if we need another season.

Ian (KC)

"a lot of big-money international guys wind up being busts." -- so then why do teams invest so much time and money into these guys? Seems like they'd be better off doing something else

Jim Callis
  (2:49 PM)

Because the return on investment when you hit on these guys is so huge that it makes up for the busts. People focus on the failures, but if, say, Aroldis Chapman reaches his ceiling, the Reds' deal will be a bargain.

Brent (Utah)

Is Ken Griffy JR. the best modern home run hitter not to take steroids?

Jim Callis
  (2:49 PM)

We'll never really know, will we? Looks that way though.

Mark (NYC)

Salcedo was to get 3 times as much according to reports from the Indians 2 years ago. MLB stepped in and did not allow his signing becuase of concerns that he was a lot older then 16. Now MLB says he really is 18, which means they were wrong. If MLB is now correct it cost this guy a lot of $'s. What do you make of this??

Jim Callis
  (2:50 PM)

Just reinforces to me how difficult it is to try to pinpoint ages on the international market.

Doug (NYC)

You say that Montero's best tool is his "power". But isn't his "bat" almost as good? How does it grade out?

Jim Callis
  (2:50 PM)

Yes, that's what makes him so special. We gave him an 80 for power, the bat is close to a 75 or 80.

Jeff (NYC)

Gun to your head --- Heyward or Strasburg?

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

Heyward.

Jon (MN)

Would you rather have 1 80 prospect or 2-3 60-70 level prospects?

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

The 80 guy, not that there's really a perfect prospect. But you win with stars, and I'll take the superstar.

Mike (Ohio)

You mentioned Hak-Ju Lee. With Castro coming on, could the Cubs face an issue there at SS eventually?

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Yes. Lee is more athletic, so I could see him pushing Castro to second base.

Jason (St Louis)

Lightning round, who would you rather start a franchise with, Chase Utley or Evan Longoria?

Jim Callis
  (2:55 PM)

Geez, I almost forgot about the lightning round. We'll do a quick one. Longoria.

JAYPERS (IL)

Lightning round -- this year's Top 100 list or last year's?

Jim Callis
  (2:55 PM)

This year's.

Jeff (NYC)

Justin Upton or Jason Heyward?

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Upton. Almost said Heyward, though.

Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky)

Take your pick now and in 5 years: Tyler Matzek or Jacob Turner

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Matzek, barely, for both.

Derek (Philly)

Johan or Doc Halladay?

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Halladay.

Jason (Bmore)

Action Jackson or Michael Saunders?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

Saunders.

Nick (Seattle)

Between Dustin Ackley and Martin Perez who would you prefer? Do you always go with the bat over the pitcher?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

Not always, but I'd take Ackley here.

Jason (St Louis)

Is there a rule that says you can't keep a prospect down in the minors to keep his service time down? If not, why don't more teams just come out and say that is what they are going to do?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

No rule, and a lot of teams do this. It makes perfect sense for a non-contending team, but no one wants to admit to doing this.

Avey (SAC)

Where would Dee Gordon finish in a footrace if he went over to Tampa's camp and raced BJ, Carl, and DJennings?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

Gordon just might win.

Danny (Philly)

Aumont...Starter or Closer?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

Reliever.

Jason (Bmore)

Matusz or Buchholz?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

Matusz.

Jonner (Denver, CO)

Hey Jim, I thought there were very few 80 scores given out in baseball as a whole, let alone the minors. Is this just a very special year with several minor leaguers having one or two exceptional tools?

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

We probably are a bit more generous than some scouts would be.

Derek (Philly)

Hamels or Peavy?

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

Hamels.

Jason (Bmore)

T or F...Brandon Wood meets expectations this year...

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

True.

Me (Here)

Stassi or Myers

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

Stassi.

Rich (Bayonne, NJ)

Yanks' McAllister near Top 100? What do you think he's ceiling is? He gets lots of hype in NY/NJ area.

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

Not super close; I do like him; upside of a No. 3 starter.

tim (cincinnati)

does Jay Bruce start to reach his potential this year??

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

Yep.

Jason (Bmore)

Yanks 5th starter: Hughes or Joba

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

In the long run, Hughes.

Jason (Bmore)

Chris Davis or Justin Smoak?

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

Smoak.

Jay ((KC))

Hosmer seems like the type of prospect that with a good year could sky rocket himself into a top 50 prospect. Am I right in thinking that?

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

You are correct, sir.

Ben (Leland Grove)

Better FB - Scheppers or Crow?

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

I'll take Crow's total fastball package and better chance of holding up.

Jason (St Louis)

Posey or Smoak, bat only?

Jim Callis
  (3:00 PM)

Smoak. Posey doesn't have that kind of power.

Mike (San Diego)

Worse curse: Padres first round pick or Madden cover?

Jim Callis
  (3:00 PM)

Clippers first-round pick.

Jason (Atlanta)

Long term, Buchholz or Porcello?

Jim Callis
  (3:01 PM)

Porcello. And hey, I still like Buchholz a lot.

Russ (Vancouver)

No love for S Sizemore? Why not?

Jim Callis
  (3:01 PM)

Chance to a be a solid regular, little star potential.

Burt (LA)

CF sleeper: Gallaway, Beltre, or the new Jays draftee?

Jim Callis
  (3:02 PM)

Isaac Galloway.

Burt (LA)

single best tool in the minors? The best 80 of the 80s?

Jim Callis
  (3:02 PM)

Strasburg's fastball.

Jim Callis
  (3:02 PM)

I've got to run now. Thanks for all your questions, and see you next week.