Draft Chat with Jim Callis

Moderator: Jim will begin taking your draft questions at noon.

 Q:  Greg from Denver asks:
Any recent signings that you know of?
 A: 

Jim Callis: In terms of first-rounders, just the two we reported yesterday, Ryan Zimmerman at No. 4 to the Nationals ($2.975 million) and Mark Pawelek at No. 20 to the Cubs ($1.75 million) . . . I'm sure we'll get overwhelmed by questions in this chat, and I'll get to as many as I can. I'll also be chatting at ESPN.com at 2 p.m. ET. And remember, you can send draft questions to me at askba@baseballamerica.com (but you must include your full name and hometown). Thanks!

 Q:  Greg from Florida asks:
The Marlins had a lot of picks early in the draft. How did they do?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They added a lot of pitching. Obviously, there's always going to be attrition with pitching, but to get Chris Volstad (ultraprojectable HS righty), Aaron Thompson (very polished HS lefty), Jacob Marceaux (power college righty), Ryan Tucker (hard-throwing HS righty) and Sean West (6-foot-8 HS lefty) before the second round even starts . . . Wow.

 Q:  Mark L. Peel from Arlington Heights, IL asks:
Jim, With the possibility of a lengthy holdout (or worse, a failure to sign) rather shockingly removed for Cubs' top pick Mark Pawelek, I guess we can start talking about his pro career. BA considers Pawelek one of the closest HS players to the majors; so, at what level do you think he should start, what's a reasonable timeframe for him to arrive in the majors, and what's your current estimate of his ceiling?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Can't have a BA chat without a Mark Peel question . . . We too were surprised that Pawelek signed before the third round was even over. Pawelek has a high ceiling, as a power lefty with tremendous polish considering his age and the competition at Utah. If it all goes well, he could be a No. 1 starter. Realistically, high school pitchers are going to need some time. If he made it up by Opening Day 2008, that would be pretty quick.

 Q:  John from New York City asks:
What are the chances that the Yankees can sign Austin Jackson? Would they sign him and still allow him to play basketball?
 A: 

Jim Callis: My gut feeling is he's unsignable. Because of the calendars of the two sports, allowing him to play basketball at Georgia Tech while trying to develop him as a professional baseball player just wouldn't work. The Yankees should be able to sign C.J. Henry, their first-rounder, who held off taking a basketball scholarship (despite a lot of Division I interest) because he wants to play baseball.

 Q:  Heath Hunt from Lakeland, FL asks:
The Devil Rays front office indicated that they were looking to ink 3rd rounder Bryan Morris this year as opposed to waiting to sign him as a draft and follow. I know he indicated he would go to Motlow JC if he wasn't a top 30 pick. Do you have any information to pass along regarding his future?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The word is that Morris wants to spend a year with his father, who's the pitching coach at Motlow (Tenn.) CC. But I don't think the Devil Rays would have taken him in the third round if they were planning on draft-and-following him, and I'm sure they checked that out before making the pick. I suspect he'll sign.

 Q:  Andrew from New York asks:
What did you think of the Yanks first day of the draft? Good? Bad? In between?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A lot of Yankees fans have emailed me already, up in arms that the team passed on Boras clients such as Luke Hochevar and Craig Hansen. Apparently, New York will not do a big league deal with a draft pick, and the club's reluctance to do so, with all the financial advantages the Yankees have, baffles me. They've been very conservative in the draft, at least compared to what they could spend, and it has hurt their system and is starting to take a toll on the major league team, even with its $200 million payroll. As for the players the Yankees pick, I'll throw out the caveat that it's awfully early to know how good these guys really are. (I won't repeat that again in this chat, and I'll take my best guess anyway!) Even with a new scouting director, Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees took almost all college players. They did go HS in the first round with Henry, whom I discussed a second ago; he's a top athlete with a lot of potential but he's raw and will need some time to develop. I like J.Brent Cox and I think he'll be in the big league bullpen mix within a couple of years. I don't see anyone who looks like an immediate steal for their round, and outside of Jackson in the eighth, I don't see the late-round gambles the Yankees should be taking.

 Q:  james green from new york asks:
why was cameron maybin pick 10th i figurged with the talent he has he be in the top 5
 A: 

Jim Callis: There were rumors Maybin was scaring some teams with his price tag over the weekend, but they appear to be unfounded. We rated Maybin the No. 3 player in the draft and he compares favorably to Justin Upton. I think this was just a case where he just didn't find the right fit with a club before No. 10 with the Tigers. Obviously, those teams are picking high because they're mostly struggling, and after Arizona grabbed Upton at No. 1, the other eight teams went for college players they figured would help them more quickly.

 Q:  Mark L. Peel from Arlington Heights, IL asks:
Jim, BA's practically prescient projection of the first round had Miles Godwin SS Justin Bristow going to the Twins in the supplemental round (with interest on the part of the Cubs); but he's still on the board. Why did teams back off Bristow so completely? Is it now a given he'll honor his commitment to Auburn?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Bristow apparently wanted first-round money to sign, clubs saw him more as a second- or third-rounder and it went from there. If teams think a guy is completely unsignable, sometimes he'll go completely undrafted, even someone as talented as Bristow. It's not a given he'll go to Auburn, as someone (Cubs?) probably will gamble a late-round choice on him today, but best bet is he does wind up in college.

 Q:  Tim from Missouri asks:
With Weaver and Drew holding out for nearly a year, and now are just getting their feet wet in professional baseball, long after they should. Do you see anone in this draft class who might also hold out for a long time as well, particularly Upton and Gordon?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think both Upton and Gordon will sign before the end of the summer and perhaps by the end of the month. Both guys are going to wind up with multiyear deals in the $4 million to $5 million range, with Upton's a two-sport minor league contract and Gordon's a big league deals. Both sides in both negotiations know that. I'd suspect your longest holdouts will involve, surprise, Scott Boras clients. He has the top three pitching prospects in this draft in Mike Pelfrey (No. 9, Mets), Luke Hochevar (No. 40, Dodgers) and Craig Hansen (No. 26, Red Sox) and I wouldn't expect any of them to sign quickly.

 Q:  Mike from SoCal asks:
The A's? What made them go with the high school players?
 A: 

Jim Callis: We did a study two years ago that showed, starting in the 1990s, that there's no significant difference in the long run between high school and college players when it comes to finding good (and not fringe) big leaguers. Maybe that wasn't enough, but maybe Baseball Prospectus coming to the same conclusion a couple of weeks ago pushed Oakland over the edge. I joke, of course, but the truth is if you ignore the high school crop, you're going to ignore several players who are going to become good big leaguers or valuable trade fodder. The A's can't really afford to do that. Their big league club is struggling, and while their system is solid, it's solid in part because they've propped it up with trades for prospects.

 Q:  John from Georgetown asks:
Hi thanks for answering questions. I hear no bad things about Mike Pelfrey, but I don't get the impression that he is a Mark Prior, or even a Jered Weaver. In recent drafts, which prospect does Pelfrey most closely resemble? Or is that is impossible, with whom would you group him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't like to force comparisons, but let me put it this way: Pelfrey was the best pitching prospect in this year's draft. He wasn't Prior, but I think you could argue that he has better stuff (if not the same command) as Weaver. I'd put him ahead of the top pitching prospect from 2002 (Bryan Bullington) and 2003 (Kyle Sleeth).

 Q:  Richard from Memphis, TN asks:
Jim, Please rate the job the Red Sox did in restocking their farm system with their 6 picks in the top 57. Thanks, Richard
 A: 

Jim Callis: With six picks that high, it's going to look good at this point. OF Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 23) was one of the more polished college bats available and was someone Boston really wanted, as was RHP Craig Hansen (No. 26). Hansen was the third-best pitching prospect in the draft and could help the Red Sox' bullpen very shortly after he signs (though that could take a while). Clay Buchholz (No. 42) has one of the best power arsenals in the entire draft, but flew under most of the media radar because he was at a junior college. 2B Jed Lowrie (No. 45) is similar in some ways to 2004 second-rounder Dustin Pedroia, who has looked good so far. RHP Michael Bowden (No. 47) is beloved by Illinois area scouts for his stuff, command, competitiveness and makeup. C Jonathan Egan (No. 57) has a good power bat. That's quite a haul.

 Q:  Steve from Philadelphia asks:
Thanks for the chat. Who stays at SS for the Rockies - Tulowitzki or Nelson? To what position do you think the loser moves?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think they sort that out later, as Nelson has been sidelined by hamstring problems and Tulowitzki probably will move ahead of him on the minor league ladder. They won't probably be teammates for a while. Good question, they're both good defenders, Nelson has more of a typical shortstop build so maybe Tulowitzki moves to second when they're both in Colorado. Should be a nice DP combo.

 Q:  Matt from New York asks:
Thanks for the chat Jim, I was just wondering what you thought about Anthony Varvaro. He was drafted in the 12th round by the Mariners, based on the fact that he is having Tommy John surgery. But, he is a Top 5 round draft pick in my opinion. What are the chances that he returns to St. John's next year to improve his draft stock?
 A: 

Jim Callis: A healthy Varvaro definitely would have been a top-five-rounder, and he could have snuck into the supplemental first round for the right club. Word is that he'll do a discounted deal, like Nick Adenhart did, to sign now and rehab with a pro club.

 Q:  Brett from Columbus, OH asks:
When selecting a two-way player, why does it matter if the team selects him as a pitcher or his other position?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It doesn't, but I think the team likes to clarify it's intention, that's all . . . Those of you listening live to the draft know that the A's announced the signing of first-rounder Cliff Pennington. Just learned the bonus for him is $1.45 million.

 Q:  Shawn Richer from Dallas, Tx asks:
Do you see any team even taking a flyer on drafting Jordan Danks?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The White Sox did this morning, taking him in the 19th round. He would have been a first-rounder or supplemental first-rounder had he been signable. I still think he goes to college at Texas, but why not take the gamble in the 19th round?

 Q:  Ryan G, from Arlington, VA asks:
What is your opinion of the Met's pick of Mike Pelfrey. It seems like a steal to me and an excellent pick for the Mets. Of course, thats all contingent on them signing him and getting him on a team sooner than later....
 A: 

Jim Callis: I concur. They got the best pitching prospect in the draft with the ninth pick, and that's a steal. Signing him may be a lengthy process, and he apparently wants a $5 million big league contract, but once that's over the Mets will be very lucky to have him.

 Q:  Jason from Scottsdale, Arizona asks:
Did Pawalek hurt himself by having Boras as his advisor? It seems if he had anyone else other than Boras, he would have been taken in the top 10 and the slot money there would greatly exceed the money I hear he is getting at 20.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't see that at all, Jason. Pawelek was the 15th-best player on our Top 200 (after Drew and Weaver signed), and he wasn't going to go in the Top 10. He signed for $1.75 million, which is what the 13th pick got last year, and he wound up with a good franchise, so I can't see how Boras hurt him at all. Good deal for both sides.

 Q:  Heath Hunt from Lakeland, FL asks:
If Wade Townsend can regain his form of 2004, how does he compare to the other top college pitchers (Pelfrey, Hochevar and Romero)?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Townsend at his best (and not after a year with a lot of inactivity) would be behind Pelfrey and Hochevar and ahead of Romero. Romero is a lefty, though, and he's pretty good. A lot of teams project Townsend as a reliever because of his aggressive mentality, but he definitely has the stuff to start. Hey, if the Rays can get the Mets to trade them Philip Humber for Mark Hendrickson or something, Tampa Bay can reunite the Rice staff.

 Q:  Jason Scott from St. Louis asks:
What are your thoughts on the Cardinals' 3rd round pick Daryl Jones? It was reported that he would turn down any offers and go to Rice, but he told 1380 ESPN Radio in St. Louis yesterday that the Cardinals have agreed to pay him what he wants and he has agreed on everything and is just waiting on the paper work to sign.
 A: 

Jim Callis: If that's true, that's a great pick. Scouts say Jones is a potential Kenny Lofton with more power than Lofton ever showed. The Rice commitment caused teams to shy away, and if he hadn't been strongly committed there, I think he would have gotten more play as a possible top-50 or top-75 pick.

 Q:  JM from Arizona asks:
Is there any real hope that the D'backs will be able to strengthen Jason Neigborgall's mechanics if they sign him and what kind of potential does their second round pick Matt Green have?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Diamondbacks did a nice job yesterday. A lot of clubs thought they'd go with budget picks after signing Drew and drafting Upton, but they didn't. They got a lot of quality arms. Of the two JM mentions, Green and Neighborgall both can light up radar guns and show a nasty breaking ball. Neighborgall had major control problems, but Arizona thinks it can straighten him out with some minor tweaks. If they do, they will have stolen the draft's most electric arm in the third round.

 Q:  Jim Davis from Springfield, IL asks:
Will Tyler Greene hit enough to be a solid prospect for the Cardinals? He hit for a high average at GT with some pop, but had alarming strikeout rates. On the positive side he does have a good history with wood.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Greene is a hard guy to figure. He was more of a defensive guy with a softer bat in high school, but he has looked better offensively than defensively for much of his career at Georgia Tech. He had the ability to excel in both areas, but rarely has done so at the same time. He did hit well in the Cape Cod League last summer. If everything comes together, he'll be a very nice pick at No. 30.

 Q:  Nathan from Chicago asks:
Whats the deal with Zach Putnam?
 A: 

Jim Callis: This isn't a surprise. The Putnam family had first-round expectations coming into the year, and he didn't have a great spring, with most clubs deciding they liked him more as a third baseman than a pitcher and seeing him as a third- to fifth-rounder. Putnam apparently won't sign for that kind of money, so he has gone undrafted to this point. This is true of almost any top high school prospect who didn't get taken on the first day--he wasn't willing to sign for where he was going to go in the draft. We haven't heard of any late injuries or red flags on these guys.

 Q:  Brad Cauff from Miami, Florida asks:
Any reason why Hochevar slipped all the way to #40? Were as Pelfrey and Hansen went much earlier, even with Boras. It didn't seem like Hochevar was the normal Boras guy who wanted a ridiculous amount of money.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think mainly because of Scott Boras. Hochevar wasn't at his best down the stretch, but he wasn't terrible either and he also has a long track record. Hochevar apparently is seeking as much as anyone we've heard to this point, a big league deal in the $5 million range. There are a lot of teams that won't deal with Boras, and the others decided they didn't want to mess with him on Hochevar. I think it's a great pick for where the Dodgers got him--in my annual mock draft column, I took Hochevar at 17 (and kicked myself when I realized I could have had him at 35--but it's going to take a lot of time and money to sign Hochevar.

 Q:  Jon from Miami asks:
Can you rank who you thought had the best day 1? Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: This is the last one, and I'm sorry we couldn't get to more questions. We will do another chat Friday, and I'm doing one at ESPN.com this afternoon at 2 p.m. If I didn't get to your question, send it to me at askba@baseballamerica.com (remember to include your full name and hometown) . . . Now back to the question: On day one, the teams that always look good are the ones with the most extra picks, and I talked about the Marlins and Red Sox earlier. Of the teams without a slew of bonus selections, I did like the hitters the Indians got at the top of their draft (Crowe, Drennen, Head) and the pitchers the Diamondbacks got after grabbing Upton (Torra, Green, the Neighborgall gamble, Owings). Thanks for all the great questions today.