Baseball America
San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects

Moderator: Jim Callis will begin taken your questions on the Padres system shortly.

 Q:  mark from phoenix asks:
How close was Richard Gomez to making your list? Where do you see him next year, and how do you rate his five tools?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He wasn't a consideration. He was 27 when he repeated Triple-A last year, so there's not much upside. He's a decent hitter with some speed, but I don't see him having much of a big league career.

 Q:  alex from east village asks:
I know it's extremely early to be asking about next years' draft, but since the Padres have the first pick I'll ask anyway. Who will they be looking at for this pick and will they go after a lesser talent so they can sign for cheaper $$?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think any team can afford to get too thrifty with the No. 1 pick, and the Padres should have more revenue in 2004. Not that you'll see them spend $10 million on someone, but they should be able to pay the roughly $4 million bonus it would take to sign the No. 1 pick. San Diego has a preference for college players, and my guess is the Padres will opt for a pitcher such as Jeff Niemann or Wade Townsend (both Rice), Jered Weaver (Long Beach State) or Jeremy Sowers (Vanderbilt). Local high school product Matt Bush, a SSRHP, might be pretty tempting as well.

 Q:  Wolf from La Jolla asks:
Where does Michael Johnson fit into your evaluation of the Padres' top prospects and what do you think of his future as a player?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's in the 11-20 mix. He got challenged by starting his career in high Class A, where he was just so-so. He's more of a line drive hitter than a power guy, and he needs to improve defensively as a first baseman.

 Q:  Fran Tarkinton from La Jolla, CA asks:
why did the padres ever get rid of home grown talent Kevin Reese? Is Bernie Castro really worth getting rid of such a prospect?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Reese has stalled since reaching Double-A in the Yankees system, so I don't think the Padres miss him. Castro has to improve his on-base skills and has a weak arm but he could be the club's second baseman of the future if Josh Barfield moves to another position. I'm not a huge Castro fan, but that trade wasn't bad.

 Q:  Alex from New York asks:
Do you think that Eddie Bonine could be the next Tim Wakefield?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's early to say that, and to be honest, evaluating knuckleballers is difficult because there just aren't many of them. Bonine isn't a pure knuckleballer like Wakefield. He can touch the low 90s with his fastball and also uses a knuckle-curve. He looks like a great find for a 23rd-round pick in the 2003 draft.

 Q:  Brian in Wisconsin from asks:
Is it time to give up on Jake Gautreau as injuries continue to allow other prospects to pass him in the depth charts or can he still turn out to be the hitter he was projected to be?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't give up on him, but the Padres made their thoughts clear when they didn't protect him on the 40-man roster this season. Other clubs didn't bite in the major league Rule 5 draft, either. Colitis has set him back, but the bottom line is he has to start hitting like the Padres thought he would when they made him a first-round pick in 2001. With Castro in Triple-A and Barfield in Double-A in 2004, Gautreau probably has to move back to third base, which means he's going to have to provide even more offense.

 Q:  dave from califonia asks:
what are your thoughts on ben howard and dennis tankersley...do you think there is a chance for either of them to reach the vast potential they showed early in their careers?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Chance? Sure, because they had great success and showed tremendous stuff at times in the minors. But realistically, they've leveled off. Howard's stuff and command fluctuates, and he probably will fit into the bullpen in the long term. Same story with Tankersley, who hasn't been able to put big league hitters away.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester N.Y. asks:
Can Tim Stauffer return to his status as a future stud, or are his injuries too serious? What is his realistic ceiling?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He can, though it's impossible to put a percentage on it. Stauffer had weakness in his shoulder, but his rehab is going well and he has avoided surgery to this point. Yes, it's a huge red flag. But when healthy, he had outstanding life on his fastball, a plus curveball, a plus changeup and a nifty cutter. If he doesn't break down, he could be a No. 2 or 3 starter.

 Q:  Randall Edens from Camano Island, WA asks:
Freddy Guzman--how soon will he get a shot at the Bigs with his blazing speed on a 'full-time' basis?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Next year. He blazed through the minors in 2003, and the Padres would like to sign a stopgap center fielder while Guzman gets some Triple-A seasoning in 2004.

 Q:  Brian from Washington DC asks:
Jim, who are a few of the prospects in the system that are potential top 10 guys next season but didn't make it into this list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: LHP Rusty Tucker would have made the Top 10 if he wasn't going to miss all or most of 2004 following Tommy John surgery. RHP Jared Wells, a draft-and-follow signed before the 2003 draft, has one of the best arms in the system. RHP Javier Martinez, if he can stay healthy and focused, could shoot way up the list. C George Kottaras is a nice sleeper as well.

 Q:  Joe from Newport News, VA asks:
Aside from Kennard Jones, David Pauley, and Gabe Ribas, Ft. Wayne this year seemed loaded with overaged players who put up mediocre numbers. Is the Padres' system drying up at the lower levels, is Fort Wayne just a hard place to play, or do the Padres avoid putting their better prospects at Fort Wayne?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Most of the Fort Wayne players are going to be old for the low Class A Midwest League because the Padres focus on college guys in the draft. RHPs Brian Whitaker and Dale Thayer are two other guys who had good years there in 2003, but they too weren't young for the league. San Diego's system also isn't as strong as it was a couple of years ago, and I think that's also reflected in what you've seen at Fort Wayne.

 Q:  Brian from Washington DC asks:
Jim, in what order would you rank the three top 2B's, Barfield, Scott Hairston and Rickie Weeks? Who is next below those three?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Weeks, Barfield, Hairston. Weeks is the best athlete, the best hitter and has the best chance to stay at second base among that group. My next tier would include Freddy Sanchez (Pirates), Jayson Nix (Rockies) and Alberto Callaspo (Angels).

 Q:  John,, aka DCPadsfan from DC asks:
When I did my rankings I had four pitchers on the Fort Wayne staff this year, Gabe Ribas, Brian Whitaker, Dale Thayer and Wilmer Villatoro rated ahead of David Pauley, who you ranked number 7 on your Padres list. After examining Pauley’s stats and your write up on him (good curve, solid to average fastball), what was the reason behind his ranking ahead of Ribas and Whitaker, who seemed to have much better years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hi, John. For one, Pauley was 20 in 2003, significantly younger than Ribas (23) and Whitaker (23). He's a starter, while Thayer (22) and Villatoro (20) are relievers. His stuff is also markedly better than Ribas' (good changeup, otherwise fringy stuff) and better than Whitaker's.

 Q:  Randall Edens from Camano Island, WA asks:
What type of ceiling does Gabe Ribas have and when is his ETA?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think he's going to be a middle reliever. He has a good changeup and good command, but his fastball sits in the upper 80s and his breaking stuff is mediocre. When he went up to high Class A, he got crushed. In my mind, he still has a lot to prove.

 Q:  Chief Gayton Fan from San Diego asks:
The Padres last year signed Dale Thayer as a non drafted free agent pitcher out of Chico St. and he went out and struck out 72 in 48 innings at Fort Wayne in Midwest League. What can you tell me about the type of stuff he throws and what is his ceiling?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He overmatched younger hitters with a 90-91 mph fastball and a slider. Neither is a solid plus pitch, so we'll have to see how he does at higher levels. He's probably a setup guy at best.

 Q:  John, aka DCPadsfan from DC asks:
Along the same lines on the Fort Wayne staff, what is your opinion of their two relief pitchers this year, Dale Thayer and Wilmer Villatoro?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I just covered Thayer. I like Villatoro better. He's younger and has a better pure arm, with a 92-94 mph fastball and plus slider at times. He also projects as a setup man with a greater likelihood of achieving that status than Thayer.

 Q:  Kris Arthur from Downer Grove, IL asks:
Do you think the Padres will regret trading Oliver Perez? Do you think he will develop into a #2-#3 starter for the Pirates? Will he learn improve his control?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm not a pitching coach, nor do I play one on TV. Perez certainly has that potential, and I also like Jason Bay and Cory Stewart a lot. But don't underestimate the significant of acquiring Brian Giles, which gave the Padres their best hitter and showed their fans that they're trying to contend again.

 Q:  Ryan Maguire from Murrieta, CA asks:
What kind of numbers do you see Josh Barfield putting up in his prime?
 A: 

Jim Callis: .300-plus average, 40 doubles, 25 homers, 110 RBIs. He's the real deal.

 Q:  D. Lewis from Oceanside, CA asks:
Thanks for taking my questions. How does Khalil Greene's fielding and throwing rank on the 2-to-8 scale and which first baseman has the best chance to be an impact major league player: Knott, Bozied, Mike Johnson or none of the above.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Greene's hands are a 60 or 65 on the 20-80 scale. His arm is a 50, which is average. With his hands, instincts and first step, the Padres are convinced he'll stay at shortstop. Knott is the best player of the group you mentioned, and the only one who's not limited to first base. But he might be more of a reserve than a big league regular.

 Q:  Brian from Washington DC asks:
Why did the Padres give up on Jason Bartlett last season? Seems they let him get away for very little.
 A: 

Jim Callis: They liked Bartlett, so it wasn't like they didn't appreciate his talents. They apparently liked Brian Buchanan more.

 Q:  Mark from San Diego asks:
With the Padres speaking publically about being an organization which is most concerned with player development, how do they end up ranked as having one of the worst systems in the league? Is it simply a case of graduating good players recently(Peavy, Perez, Burroughs, Greene, etc) or is there something which the organization is missing?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's a combination of factors. They promoted a lot of guys to the majors quicker than expected and others weren't as good as they hoped. That's why their talent is thinner than it was a couple of years ago.

 Q:  Alan from SF asks:
Freddy Guzman ahead of Stauffer? Was that entirely due to injury? Do you think Guzman can keep his on-base skills without any power threat as he progresses?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, entirely based on injury. A healthy Stauffer definitely would have ranked ahead of Guzman. I think Guzman can keep his OBP skills. He has some strength, so pitchers have to respect him. He just needs to remember that while chicks dig the longball, the Padres don't when it comes to him.

 Q:  Alan from SF asks:
Last year, Javier Martinez was a rising star. What are your feelings on him now?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like him, but he was one of the bigger disappointments in the system in 2003. Like Gautreau, he wasn't protected yet went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft. He came down with a sore elbow and his stuff was down. He was more 88-91 than 90-95, and his curve wasn't as sharp. He needs to get it going again in 2004.

 Q:  J.A. from Minneapolis asks:
With Peavy, Lawrence and Eaton on top, and Hitchcock and Valdes at the back end, could the Padres still convince Maddux to come and lead the troops?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The last I saw, they were open to Maddux if he told them he wanted to come to San Diego and would take a two-year deal in the $10 million range. He's not about to fall apart, but his days of dominating are long gone. I bet his ERA is in the 4.25 range in 2004.

 Q:  Alan from SF asks:
Will Humberto Quintero ever hit well enough to be a ML starter?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He hit .298 in 2003, but that screams fluke to me. He never had hit like that in the past, he still avoided walks like the plague and he didn't show much over-the-fence power. I think he's going to be a big league backup, thanks mainly to his cannon arm.

 Q:  Todd from San Diego asks:
Jim, two questions. Firstly, knowing what they know now would they still of taken Stauffer w the 4th pick in the draft and secondly what is your overall assessment of the Pads system - Right now it look pretty thin from where I'm standing. Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: They haven't said so, but I don't see how the Padres would have spent the No. 4 overall pick on someone with major questions about his shoulder. As stated a couple of times earlier in this chat, the Padres don't look nearly as good as they did two years ago, when BA rated their system the fourth-best in the game.

Moderator: Jim's taking a break to attend to a phone call -- he'll be back with us soon.

 Q:  Sebastian from Chula Vista asks:
Do you see RHP Aaron Coonrod and his 97 mph fastball being the Padres future closer? How do you think RHP Cory Doyne will do in 2004 after it seems he has started to make the transition from thrower to pitcher in 2003 and tap into his potential?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sorry that took so long, but I'm back. Coonrod very well could be San Diego's closer of the future, though I'd like to see him have a little more success before I'd go far. He does have a great arm and does reach 97, but he needs to refine his secondary pitches and command.

 Q:  Joe from Boston asks:
Is Barfield the real deal?? It seems that if he only cuts down on his strikeouts he will be a major superstar. A Nomar Garciaparra type, would you say???
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's a good comp, because I think he'll be that kind of hitter in terms of average, power and OBP. He's obviously not a SS or as athletic as Nomar, but he's that type of hitter. Good call.

 Q:  J.A. from Minneapolis asks:
With Hoffman, Beck and Otsuka in the pen, the Padres really seem to have upgraded a very weak spot from 2003. Including guys like Linebrink and Witasick, they only seem to need a lefty or 2 to plug in to make a plus bullpen. Is there any help coming in the system? Can Bynum fill that role?
 A: 

Jim Callis: You're right, they have upgraded their pen. Otsuka hadn't signed when I did the Top 10, and he'll probably fit in at No. 5 for the Prospect Handbook. Rusty Tucker could be a dynamic bullpen lefty if he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Matt Hampton isn't ready yet, so Mike Bynum and his slider might be the best bet for 2004. Chris Oxspring has a better arm, but San Diego will try to bring him along as a starter.

 Q:  Kris Arthur from Downers Grove, IL asks:
What about Khahil Greene in '04? Do you think he'll get his chance to play regularly even if doesn't at first set the majors on fire with his offense? What kind of numbers do you seem him putting up in '04? What about long-term - 2-3 years out; numbers wise? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, I do think he'll keep the job unless he turns into Mario Mendoza. The Padres are so committed to Greene that they chose not to pursue Kazuo Matsui or Nomar Garciaparra. I'm not sure he'll hit much this year, maybe around .250 with 8-10 homers, but can see him becoming a .275 hitter with 12-15 homers and 30-plus doubles in time.

 Q:  Paul Moreci from Romeoville.ILL asks:
J J Furmaniak a 22nd Rd Draft pick in 2000 from small D-2 Lewis U. has hung in there for 4 years. Kevin Towers said he has the potential to be a Major League utility guy. Whats your take on J J ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: While I was spending 90 minutes on the phone, the questions have backed up, so we'll go to the lightning round to try to get as many in as possible. I'm with Towers on that one, Furmaniak is a possible utility guy.

 Q:  Ben from North Carolina asks:
Is Michael Johnson the Padres first baseman of the future?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They have a logjam of 1Bcorner OF types, so it will be hard to crack the lineup at those spots. If anyone in the system right now does, it's more likely to be Jon Knott.

 Q:  MATT from LOS ANGELES asks:
JIM, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LONG BEACH STATES ALUM PAUL MCNAULTY?
 A: 

Jim Callis: His bat will have to carry him, and will have to develop more power to do so.

 Q:  Joshua from Chula Vista, CA asks:
I am very excited about a little known SS the Padres acquired from Red Sox in the Cesar Crespo trade at the winter meetings last year by the name of Luis Cruz. He showed some pop (8 HR's with 53 RBI's) but it was his plate selection (only 55 K's in 481 AB's) that impressed me as he played the whole year in the Midwest League at age 18. I see him as the Padres best Latin shortstop since Roberto Alomar. What do you think of him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Very good defender but you're jumping the gun. He was 19 this year and hit just .231, so there's a long way to go with the bat.

 Q:  Guillermo from Palma de Mallorca asks:
Is Taggert Bozied a legit prospect? If so, does he have a real shot to play in San Diego at some point or is there such a logjam at his position that he will be traded because there might be another team who actually thinks he is a legit major leaguer.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has legit power but has struggled above high Class A and I don't see a clear path for him to make the San Diego lineup.

 Q:  Doug from Hagerstown, MD asks:
How do the Padres view OF Alex Fernandez? If he is indeed only 22, he had a decent year last year in Portland, outslugging both Greene and Bozied, who were much older.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think many people in baseball believe he's actually 22. He has some tools but is overaggressive.

 Q:  Jeremy from Clayton asks:
Will the new ballpark make a difference in the money spent by the team to sign legit prospects or will the Padres continue to be a team that drafts players based on signability as opposed to overall talent and projection.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think they'll be more aggressive going after guys now that they have more revenue to play with. But it's not like they went cheap with either of their last two first-rounders (Khalil Greene, Tim Stauffer) and they spent ton on draft-and-follows in 2003.

 Q:  Ted from Wilmington DE asks:
Hi Jim, Does Matt Bruback have an opportunity to claim a back end spot in SD's rotation this year? Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: Maybe, but probably not out of spring training.

 Q:  Chief Gayton Fan from San Diego asks:
I hear RHP William Ponce was lights out at the 2003Padres Fall Instructional League and I hear great things about his fellow countryman, Wilmer Villatoro. What do you think of those 2 pitchers?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I mentioned Villatoro earlier. You're right on Ponce, who has an intriguing arm. He's just 19, with average to plus stuff across the board. He has a long way to go in terms of putting everything together, but the ingredients are there.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, Mass. asks:
Jim, What are your thoughts on Brad Baker, when he was in the Boston system, they thought highly of him. It seems like he has kind of fallen off the map as a prospect..
 A: 

Jim Callis: His stuff isn't as good as it was when he was in the Boston system, but he does have the best changeup in the Padres system and pitched great after getting demoted to high Class A.

 Q:  klopax from jackson,mississippi asks:
where does colt morton fit?after a very hot start in eugene w7 hr in 95 ab it seems as if he should be able to move quick through a system that is not top heavy in catching if he continues to display that kind of power from behind the plate.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Morton has to make a lot more contact than he has previously in his career, and several scouts I've talked to question whether he can make that adjustment.

 Q:  Not Really Eddie Bonine from Eugene asks:
Will the Padres consider making me a starter? I don't like my career chances if they've pegged me as a reliever in the Northwest League.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, Eddie, you're pegged as a starter for 2004.

 Q:  Robert from Chula Vista, CA asks:
Do you think Brad Baker and Mike Wodnicki are better off as middle relievers than as starters? They seem to thrive better as relievers than in the starter roles, what do you think of them?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Middle relief, like both of them a little bit but they're not Top 30 guys for me.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
I know you already answered a J. Gautreau Question, but were you surprised no one took him in the rule 5 draft. Maybe just to give him a look in ST?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I can't see how he could stick in the majors, so whoever took him would be throwing $25,000 away.

 Q:  Sebastian from San Diego asks:
Do you think Padres will put Greg Sain behind the plate full time in 2004? Do the Padres still think highly of Nick Trzesniak?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sain's shoulder is back to full strength so he'll catch a lot more in 2004. That's his path to the big leagues. And yes, the Padres still see Trzesniak as a possible Javy Lopez (pre-2003 breakout version).

 Q:  Matthias from college asks:
From everything i have read it seems tim stauffer is greg maddux, from the life on his fastball to his pitchability...Is the comparison accurate?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's that style of pitcher, and he has more velocity, but Greg Maddux is the state of the art in that mold. Not really fair to compare the two, especially with the questions on Stauffer's shoulder.

 Q:  Joshua from Del Mar asks:
Do the Padres think OF Josh Carter is a prospect? Does he seem more of an every day player or a reserve OF?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's on their radar, but he's more of a reserve.

 Q:  Frank from San Jose asks:
Was it a mistake to include Corey Stewart in the Giles trade? Where would he be in our top 10 if we still had him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Giles trade should work out for both sides. Stewart would be No. 3 on the list if he were still a Padre.

 Q:  Chief Gayton Fan from San Diego asks:
Do you see Brian Whitaker being in the same caliber as Justin Germano and Gabe Ribas? I see them all being sort of Brian Lawrence type pitchers except Ribas throws a bit harder than the other 3 I mention.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd rank them Germano, Whitaker, Ribas. Ribas doesn't have a better fastball than those other guys. I think his velocity has been overstated.

 Q:  Herman Peppersniffer from Parts unknown (Dayton, OH) asks:
Where does Sean Thompson lie in the pecking order? Is it possible for the Padres to put him in Lake Elsinore thus bypassing Ft Wayne?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's in the 11-15 mix with one of the best curveballs in the system, probably headed to Fort Wayne.

 Q:  Ernie from Halifax, Nova Scotia asks:
Jim What's your take on Xavier Nady's future. The Padres interest in Kenny Lofton to man center with Terrence Long on the roster already seems to cast doubt on Nady's future wih the club. Based upon the early part of last season and the season's final two weeks, this guy seems poised to break through.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Long isn't part of the long-term future, and the Padres remain high on Nady. He struggled as a rookie, but a lot of guys do, and he has one of the best young bats in the organization.

 Q:  Gerardo Ruvalcaba from Los Angeles asks:
Is Fernando Valenzuela Jr. considered a legitimate MLB prospect? What type of ceiling does he have?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's more of an interesting name than a true prospect at this point.

 Q:  matt briggs from raliegh, nc asks:
what do you think of jon benik, he has hit at every level. As a uva grad i was just wondering where he falls on the prospect list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: For average, yes, but not for power. He's not on the Top 30.

 Q:  steveo from san diego asks:
jim, has sean burrough reached his potential??
 A: 

Jim Callis: I still see him as a possible batting champion down the road, with at least 15-homer power.

 Q:  Paul from The big Apple asks:
Can you tell me a little more about Jared Wells. I've heard lots of intruiging things. Is he a potential number 1? Will we see him in the Pad's Top 10 next year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: There are few true No. 1 starters, and I'm not going to put that label on him. He has a 92-94 mph fastball that hit 97 during the spring, his arm action and body are good and his secondary pitches are fine. Easily could make the Top 10 next year.

 Q:  Rob from Easley, SC asks:
I saw where San Diego recently acquired Henri Stanley, another former Clemson Tiger. What do you think his potential is, could we see him in the majors sometime soon? He had a good season (.292 BA for starters) in AAA last year and I was a little surprised that Houston didn't promote him in September.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think he could be a good fourth outfielder. He has the range but not the arm or instincts for center field and he doesn't have the true power for the corner. But he has hit and played hard everywhere he's gone and was a nice pickup.

Moderator: We thank Jim for chatting, breaking, and then chatting again. That wraps up the National League. We'll begin the AL rankings after Xmas.