Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects

Moderator: Executive Editor Jim Callis will begin taking your Cubs questions at 2:30 ET

 Q:  Ken from Baltimore, MD asks:
How would you compare Ryan Harvey to other top OF prospects like Jeff Francouer and Jeremy Hermida?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They've gotten a year's head start on Harvey, so they have a jump on him and I'd give them the edge over him now. But Harvey, once he's fully recovered from his knee injury, will be a five-tool player. His power ceiling is much higher than either of those two, and he can be a standout right fielder with solid average speed.

 Q:  Jonathan from Baton Rouge asks:
Please tell us about SS-2B Ryan Theriot's progress and when should we expect him to make his debut and stick in the bigs?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It all comes down to the bat with Theriot. He can pick it, and he knows his offensive game is to get on base. But he's also a career .245 hitter with a .300 slugging percentage, and he's going to have to do a lot better to make it to the majors.

 Q:  Matt from Los Angeles, CA asks:
I was surprised that Ricky Nolasco was left off of the Cub's Top 10 prospect list. How close was he, and where would he have fallen in other organizations?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs have a pretty deep Top 10, so don't be surprised. He has solid average stuff across the board, but not plus stuff, and that's why he didn't rank higher. I do think he's a sleeper who gets overshadowed by a lot of other arms in their system, and he's pitched consistently well, especially considering his youth. He could have made the Top 10 in some organizations, but he's more of an 11-20 guy right now.

 Q:  Bryan from Fairfield, CT asks:
Hey Jim, What do you think about the trade the Cubs made the other day and who do you think they will get now due to the amount of money Lee will cost?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Choi, but the deal makes sense for the Cubs. They have money to spend, and they know exactly what they're getting in Lee. I understand it from the Marlins' end, too, as they're looking to control costs and have a surplus of corner infielders. From what we can gather, the player to be named is not significant, despite what Florida GM Larry Beinfest said. Adding Lee shouldn't hamper the Cubs financially, so they can still do whatever they feel they need to do. They're one of the few clubs willing to add payroll right now. Lee could hit 40 homers now that he's out of Pro Player Stadium. The only negative is that the Cubs lineup is very righthanded now. I still think Choi will become a good big leaguer, but he probably won't start for Florida this year.

 Q:  Kris Arthur from Downers Grove, IL asks:
Do you see Carlos Zambrano breaking down due to the number of pitches-IP he threw this past season or are his mechanics refined enough to help him avoid injury?
 A: 

Jim Callis: There's no real magic answer to this. The workload was heavy for a 22-year-old, but there also are a lot of people around baseball who question whether he's really 22. He did fade down the stretch, but he also has a strong frame. We'll have to wait and see.

 Q:  Dave from Milwaukee asks:
Jim, I am wondering about Brendan Harris. During last year's offseason people were praising him as the heir apparent to Ron Santo, but now he appears to be a utility infielder at best. With Ramirez holding down 3rd base for the foreseeable future, where does Harris belong?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Harris wasn't as strong in 2003 as he was in 2002, but don't give up on him yet. I also believe Ramirez is signed only through 2004. Harris will hit for average and the Cubs expect to see 20-homer power in time. I think he'll spend this year in Triple-A, playing second and third base, and the Cubs will try to plug him into one of those spots in 2005.

 Q:  Ted from Hockessin, DE asks:
Jim, liked your piece in the recent BA issue on Cub moves for 04' but I guess Hendry has other ideas (Lee). Looking ahead to the Rule 5 draft, which pitchers do you feel the Cubs might be in danger of losing among the following: Pigniatello, Blasdell, Nannini, Szuminski. Of those pitchers who do you feel has the highest ceiling? Thanks !
 A: 

Jim Callis: Thanks for the compliment, though my column already is a bit outdated with the Lee trade. I think the guy most likely to be lost would be Szuminski, because he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League and is closest to being ready. Blasdell is a sleeper favorite of mine, though he has to figure out a way to get lefties out. Pigniatello might have the highest ceiling because he's a lefty starter, though his stuff is more like Kirk Rueter's than Andy Sisco's or Justin Jones'.

 Q:  Kyle Golinghorst from Davenport, IA asks:
Hi Jim, can you give me your opinion on the development of Luis Montanez, and who do you see as "sleeper" prospect to keep an eye on in the Cubs farm system? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Some of the Cubs still see Montanez as an offensive second baseman, but he's going to have to start showing a lot more offense. He's not on my Top 30. As for sleepers, we've touched on Nolasco and Blasdell. Righthander Jason Wylie flies under the radar, and third baseman Matt Craig has an interesting bat.

 Q:  Jonathan from Florida asks:
Could you please tell me something about Alan Rick.I haven't heard much about him after he got drafted out of high school. Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's one of several catchers the Cubs have drafted and signed in the last two years. He's more of an offensive guy and the Cubs have brought him along slowly. He's a name to watch right now but nothing more than that.

 Q:  CJ Keller from Prattville, Al asks:
I have read up on Justin Jones from numerous publications, including BA's. I have read about his stuff, his build, his poise, etc. And while I do not like to compare young players to already MLB ready players, but wouldn't you agree, that the player in the majors that most resembles Justin, in terms of stuff, mechanics, build, is Mark Mulder of the A's? I am not saying JJ will have the type of start to a career as Mulder, but they look eerily similar, don't you think?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't like to make those comparisons, either, but that's fair enough. Tall lefty, good stuff, I'll give you that.

 Q:  Bort from Iowa asks:
Do you see the Cubs filling their 5th starter spot with Guzman? Or do you see a FA signing or trade?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Angel Guzman is their top prospect, but he will not break camp as Chicago's fifth starter. The Cubs are going to be very careful with him and may even keep him in extended spring training in April. They won't rush him and he might not be up until September. The free-agent market is glutted with starting pitching options and will be glutted further during nontender season.

 Q:  Jon Pence from Durham, NC asks:
Where would you rate Andy Sisco's pitches on the 20-80 scale? Can he be an overpowering pitcher? Where can we expect to see him end up, rotation or bullpen?
 A: 

Jim Callis: His fastball is a 60 pitch and projects as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. His slider ranges from 40-60 and needs more consistency. His changeup is a 50. If he masters that slider and adds the velocity he should, he'll be overpowering and pitch in the front of a rotation.

 Q:  Dan from Indy asks:
Why did the cubs add Vasquez and Cedeno to the 40 man roster? Is there any chance anyone would pick up the Low-A pitcher and the shortstop who hasn't proved himself above rookie league?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I can't imagine either guy would be drafted, but almost every team makes 40-man decisions that look odd. The Cubs are still high on infielder Ronnie Cedeno, whom they've rushed way too much. Carlos Vasquez is a promising lefty, but the Cubs have ton of them. I will say this, though, that GM Jim Hendry & Co. do a good job of evaluating young talent.

 Q:  Kevin from Omaha asks:
With the fifth spot in the rotation available who do you feel will have the best longterm potential Cruz, Guzman, or Sisco?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Guzman if he's healthy. At times, he'll show you three different 70 pitches on the 20-80 scale. I like all of those guys and still believe in Cruz. I'd give him the chance to win the No. 5 starter spot, but he seems like a likely candidate to be traded.

 Q:  Dave from PA asks:
Do you think Dave Kelton is going to be anything more than a fourth outfielder at this point?
 A: 

Jim Callis: There's a lot of varying opinion within the organization on this one. But I've also talked to scouts outside the organization who believe he can hit .275 with 20-25 homers a year. I'd break him in this year as a reserve corner outfielderfirst baseman, get him 200-250 at-bats, and see if he can take over for Moises Alou in 2005.

 Q:  ron from nj asks:
Status on Chiasson, Ohman and Beltran?? Are they reaosnalbe candidates for bullpen assignments at Wrigley this year???
 A: 

Jim Callis: They're all coming back from injuries and they'll have to prove themselves in the minors before making it to the Wrigley bullpen.

 Q:  CJ from Prattville, Al asks:
There are two prospects, that have disappointed everybody associated with the Cubs; JJ Johnson and Mike Mallory. Mallory has Torii Hunter ability defensively, and I have no idea what happen to Johnson. Could this be the case, that both were too much athlete, not enough baseball player?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Mallory is a tremendous athlete who just hasn't hit enough. Johnson isn't really in that class as an athlete, but he hasn't hit for the last two years. Neither is on the Top 30.

 Q:  Nick F from Chicago asks:
Where does Luke Hagerty and Jason Wylie stack up? I know Luke had Tommy John surgery. Is he expected back this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hagerty is No. 11 on my list, and would have made most Top 10s even though he missed the year with Tommy John surgery. He probably will return at midseason 2004. If his slider comes back to where it was in spring training right before he got hurt, he'll move very quick. As I mentioned earlier, I really like Wylie. He throws in the low 90s with a lot of life on his fastball and has an average or better slider.

 Q:  William Ashley from Memphis, TN asks:
I see that Justin Jones is ranked as a number 5 starter in the future for the Cubs according to the 2007 lineups you have created. If it weren't for guys like Prior, Wood, Guzman, and Zambrano, would it be possible for Jones to become a #1 starter if he were with a different club?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, very much so. But he's also a couple years away from the majors and needs to stay healthy.

 Q:  Paul from Chicago asks:
Jim, how worrying is it that a lot of Cubs best arms last year suffered injury problems, is there a collective asterix against them for that reason ? Second question is that BA ranked this system as 3rd best behind the Indians and Braves last year - Is the system as good or better then what it as at the end of last season ? thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's true. Just looking at my Top 10, injuries or tired arms befell Guzman, Jones, Sisco (though it wasn't pitching-related) and Brownlie, and we just talked about Hagerty and Beltran, who were on last year's Top 10. I wouldn't hold that against the Cubs in particular, because I don't think there's any one reason for all that. But it does point out that organizations with more pitching depth than hitting depth often don't see their prospects pan out as much when the reverse is true. As for the second question, I think the Cubs probably fit in the 6-10 range when we rank all 30 organizations. Their position player crop doesn't look as strong as it did, even with the addition of Ryan Harvey.

 Q:  Dan from Indy asks:
Why was Blasko rated below Brownlie? Blasko was picked just 15 picks below Brownlie, is the same age, and posted a better ERA, SO9, BB9 and HR9. Brownlie also has arm problems that Blasko doesn't have.
 A: 

Jim Callis: That could have gone either way. I just think Brownlie has a slightly higher ceiling. He doesn't have an arm problem per se. What happened was he got ready to pitch in January, rather than March, because he was negotiating with the Cubs. He just ran out of gas after midseason, but there's nothing wrong with his arm.

 Q:  Ben from Los Angeles asks:
Do you think that the Cubs' system suffers from a particular lack of emphasis on plate discipline? A quick scan of hitters in the system reveals very few good BB-K ratios. What's the problem here?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's the nature-nurture argument. Can you teach a hitter discipline or does he have to possess it on his own? I think what you're seeing is a result of the Cubs not emphasizing plate discipline when they've drafted, rather than poor instruction or something else.

 Q:  Joe from Boston asks:
What is the deal with Chadd Blasko? What kind of progress is he making and what does his future look like??
 A: 

Jim Callis: Some clubs saw Blasko as a reliever when the Cubs drafted him, but his secondary pitches improved and his long arm action turned out to be a plus (because it's deceptive) rather than a negative. He made a ton of progress last year and may not need much more than another year in the minors.

 Q:  Dan from Indy asks:
What do you think of Adam Greenberg? Does he have a chance to be a starter, or is he destined to be a backup?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Very good character guy, often compared to John Cangelosi, more of a fourth or fifth outfielder.

 Q:  Cesar from Miami asks:
Do you see the Cubs letting go of one of their top 10 prospects, as the player to be named later,in the Derrek Lee trade
 A: 

Jim Callis: No. Every indication I've had is that it's not a player who made my Top 30. My best guess is righthander Anderson Tavarez, who has a solid average sinkerslider combination.

 Q:  Cubweiser from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Will Jason Wylie get a chance to be a starting pitcher or will he be forever groomed to be a closer?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs talked about finding a rotation slot for him after the 2002 season, but they have so many pitching prospects that just wasn't doable. I think they'll groom him as a reliever.

 Q:  Bill from Iowa City asks:
how close was sean marshall to making the top ten
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's too early. Marshall had a very impressive debut summer, but he pitches anywhere from 84-93 mph and has a good curveball. Let's see how he does next year.

 Q:  Steve Davis from Des Moines, IA asks:
Who of this group do you think will be the first to make it to Wrigley? Who just missed this list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I assume Steve is referring to the Top 10 list. David Kelton could be a reserve this year, with Angel Guzman coming up in September. Bobby Brownlie and Chadd Blasko could enter the picture sometime in 2005, as could Brendan Harris. But there's no one who will step in and be a major factor. I keep tinkering with the order, but as of right now (and barring further trades), my 11-13 is Luke Hagerty, Jason Dubois and Todd Wellemeyer.

 Q:  Nick from Chicago asks:
With J. Fox and T Ritchie taken in the early rounds the Cubs were trying to fill a huge whole behing the plate. it seemed both didn't impress last year. How are they regarded?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Both were disappointing. Fox is an offensive guy whose catching wasn't as good as the Cubs hoped, while Richie was hampered by shoulder problems and didn't hit much. If Richie can get healthy, I see him as a good receiver who could hit .270 with some line-drive power and some walks.

 Q:  Bob from Iowa asks:
Do you think the Cubs gave up on choi too early, it seems like they didn't give him the same chance they gave with Corey. I hope they don't regret this deal? Are there any other 1B prospects that we should keep an eye on if the Lee extention doesn't work out?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I would have been bothered had they brought back Randall Simon and kept Choi on the bench. They're a legit contender, and when you get the chance to add Derrek Lee for a guy who hasn't produced yet and still has to show he can hit quality breaking balls or inside fastballs, you take it. If they don't retain Lee beyond 2004, David Kelton and Jason Dubois would be two in-house options for first base.

 Q:  Tom from Chicago asks:
How does Todd Wellemeyer measure up on the prospect list? He seems to have terrific stuff, but gets behind the hitters and gets tagged.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's just outside the Top 10. Wellemeyer has a very strong arm but must resist overthrowing and keep his pitches down in the strike zone. He also needs to refine the consistency of his slider. His changeup is OK, so a lot of teams would look at him as a starter. He's also one of the Cubs' prime pieces of trade bait.

 Q:  Dan from Indy asks:
How close was Dubois to being rated? What seperates Dubois and Kelton since Dubois has posted the more impressive numbers?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Like Wellemeyer, Dubois just missed. Kelton is a better outfielder than Dubois, who might be limited to first base in the majors despite a good arm. I give Kelton the nod because he's a year younger and a year ahead of Dubois, and put up similar Double-A numbers to Dubois in 2001 and 2002.

 Q:  Steve Davis from Des Moines, IA asks:
I was very surprised to see Brendan Harris make the top 10 again ahead of a guy like Billy Petrick. Can you discuss this further?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Petrick hasn't even pitched full-season ball and is still developing a breaking pitch. So while his ceiling is high, he's still got a long ways to go to reach it. It's often easier to get excited about prospects at the lower end of the system because they haven't had time to struggle.

 Q:  Tom from Frisco, Tx. asks:
Since it appears that the Cubs are pitching rich, and position player poor, is there any help coming at 2b-SS-CF in the next 2 years from A ball? If not, looks like more trades are coming.
 A: 

Jim Callis: More trades are likely coming. There's no shortstop close to helping. Brendan Harris could be an option at second in 2005. And what's wrong with Corey Patterson in center? Nic Jackson could bounce back and be a center-field option, but the Cubs are committed to Patterson.

 Q:  Geoff King from Northbrook, IL asks:
Did Renyel Pinto get any consideration? He had a great year in the FSL, and he's left-handed and only 21.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's on the Top 30 but he's not Top 10-worthy. He's got OK stuff and relies on deception. Those guys often get exposed at the higher levels.

 Q:  Tom from Oak Brook asks:
Where would you rank the Cubs minor leagues right now? In pitching and hitting? The cubs picked up a plethora of catchers in last year's draft, is there any one in particular we should keep an eye on?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I haven't studied this closely enough to give a definitive answer, but their pitching probably ranks in the top three organizations and the hitting around the middle of the pack. I like Tony Richie the most of their 2003 catching draftees.

 Q:  Jason B. Walker from Starkville, MS asks:
Is this the make or break year for Nic Jackson?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Somewhat. He has good tools, but he has been hurt a lot and struggled a lot the last two years. He needs to get back on track with a solid year in Triple-A to put himself in the mix to contend for the left field spot that Moises Alou will vacate. Realistically, he'd probably be of most help to the Cubs as trade bait, but he needs to perform better to up his market value.

 Q:  Dan from Indy asks:
How much of a problem is Ryu's maturity? Is it all that is holding him back?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's his biggest problem. There's nothing wrong with his stuff or command.

 Q:  Q from Q-Ville asks:
The Cubs have been extremely strong developing arms out of the Carribean in recent years with Zambrano, Cruz, and Guzman all having terrific upside. Who is in the next wave of NDFA arms?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm not saying he'll be that good, because he's so far away, but righty Carlos Marmol might be that guy. He threw 94-96 mph while leading the Arizona League in strikeouts, but he's also very raw.

 Q:  Nick from Chicago asks:
Who has a higher ceiling Sisco or Hagerty!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Wow, very tough question. Assuming both are healthy, I might go with Hagerty because he was more advanced with his breaking ball when he got hurt. I don't know, though. Ask me again in five minutes and I might say Sisco.

 Q:  Jason B. Walker from Starkville, MS asks:
Who will be our 2nd baseman this year? I have a feeling that Cruz and Kelton (among others) are going to be packaged to the Expos for Vidro....who would you target to fill that void of leadoff man 2nd baseman?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wrote a column on what I would do as Cubs GM this offseason, and I'd target Jose Vidro. I don't even know if you'd have to give up both Juan Cruz and Kelton, given Omar Minaya's track record as a trader.

 Q:  itto from Isabela, Puerto Rico asks:
What kind of player do you see in Brian Dopirak?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Very, very good power, second only to former Dunedin (Fla.) HS teammate Ryan Harvey in the organization, needs to work on all other aspects of his game. Making consistent contact will be the key to getting Dopirak to the majors.

 Q:  Bryan Widmer from Hoffman Estates, IL asks:
Hi Jim, Glad to get the chance to drop in with a question. This is my favorite BA day of the year (Cubs prospectsconversation. How would you classify Felix Pie's year in low A...considering he's 19 yrs. old? Keep up the good work...Go Cubs!
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think my favorite BA day of the year is the day we ship the Prospect Handbook to the printer. Pie played very well for his age in the Midwest League, and he was 18 all year. As impressive as the season was and as talented an athlete he is, he has a ways to go offensively. His approach and stance aren't conducive to driving the ball and he lacks baserunningbasestealing instincts.

 Q:  Cubweiser from Grand Rapids asks:
Why is Ryan Harvey rated ahead of Felix Pie? Pie had a fabulous year in A ball for an 18 year old, are you expecting Harvey to do better this year in lansing than Pie did?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Can Harvey put up a .734 OPS next year in Lansing? Yes. It's not about what players did in 2003, it's what they will do in the majors. I can see Pie becoming a .300 hitter, but Harvey can hit .280 with 40 homers. I'd take Harvey.

 Q:  Herman Franks from Chicago asks:
What is your take on Ronald Bay? Had a very dominant first half, then tailed of significantly. Do comparisons with fellow Houston area pitcher Roy Oswalt stike you as way too optimistic? What is his ceiling?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I wouldn't read too much into Arizona League stats. He threw in the 90s with a good curveball, and got hit when he left his stuff up in the zone. It's way, way too early to compare him to Roy Oswalt, and his curveball isn't THAT good.

 Q:  Steve Davis from Des Moines, IA asks:
How many of these guys do you think will end up on the Top 100?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm nowhere close to doing my list yet, but I'd say the first seven guys (Angel Guzman, Justin Jones, Ryan Harvey, Andy Sisco, Felix Pie, Bobby Brownlie, Chadd Blasko) have a good chance.

 Q:  Alexis Laree from OVW asks:
Don't you think that ranking Ryan Harvey third on your list, is a LITTLE high, considering the little time he has been n the field? I like Harvey, but I don't know if I would have put him in front of prospects like Pie, or Sisco, right now.
 A: 

Jim Callis: It comes down to which player you'd rather have in the long run, and I think Harvey is better the Pie and Sisco. I will say, however, that you could rank the seven guys I just mentioned in almost any conceivable order and be able to defend your decision.

 Q:  Q from Q-Ville asks:
What is the upside of John Webb?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Webb bounced back in the Arizona Fall League after his stuff dipped following 2001 Tommy John surgery. He was throwing in the low 90s and flashed a good slider. With the Cubs, he'd probably be a middle reliever because of their pitching depth.

 Q:  Medea's Child from Los Angeles asks:
If you could trade for or sign one, who would you choose, Ryan Harvey or Lastings Milledge? Justin Jones or Scott Olsen?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Harvey and Jones. I think Harvey is a safer bet to hit and has more power than Milledge, and I'll take that over Milledge's superior athleticism. The pitchers are close, but Jones has more polish and a better frame.

 Q:  Harry from Chicago, IL asks:
Would any of the Astros or Cardinals top ten prospects make the Cubs top ten, and if so where would they rank?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Wow, taking shots at the rest of the division. Astros righty Taylor Buchholz and outfielder Jason Lane and Cardinals righty Blake Hawksworth (Sisco's high school teammate) would have made the Top 10, but that's it. Hawksworth would have been in upper half and Buchholz and Lane would have been toward the end of the Top 10.

 Q:  Doug from Geneva, IL asks:
What do you see as the ceiling for Felix Sanchez and what kind of a role do you see him filling this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: His slider is average at best, so he's going to have to be a hard-throwing lefty reliever. That will be his role in Triple-A in 2004.

 Q:  Aaron from Thorold, Ontario, Canada asks:
Hi Jim, In your opinion, who has the better upside Angel Guzman or Juan Cruz?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm still an officer in the Juan Cruz Fan Club, but he's failed enough times in the majors that I'll have to go with Guzman. There are a ton of questions remaining and not much time, so I'm heading into lightning-round mode. One-sentence answers only, assuming I can control myself!

 Q:  Sang from Chicago asks:
Hey Jim. What do you expect Tony Richie and Jake Fox to do as major leagers ? Was it a mistake to not go after Landon Powell or Sam Fuld a bit harder ?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I've addressed Richie and Fox, and the jury is still out on both. My personal opinion is that Landon Powell has been way overhyped, and yes, I know we at Baseball America are responsible for some of that. He has a big body, and scouts think it will go south, and he hasn't hit for power despite his bulk. Throw in a seven-figure bonus demand, and why pursue that. Fuld had a great summer on the Cape and scouts love his makeup but wonder if he's really more than a fourth outfielder because he's a tweener. The Cubs couldn't give him enough money to make him forego his final year at Stanford. I wouldn't fault them on either decision.

 Q:  Chris from Austin, TX asks:
Are the Cubs still high on Alfredo Franciso or has his two years of struggles in the Arizona League dimmed his prospects?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They like his physical potential but he's had two woeful years in the Arizona League.

 Q:  Frank from Lincoln, NE asks:
Why do you project Tony Ritchie to be the Cubs catcher in 2007?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Because he's their best catching prospect and it won't be Damian Miller.

 Q:  Chris from Chicago, IL asks:
What kind of money do you see Kerry Wood making in today's market? And, do you feel the Cubs would be smart to hold on to Wood if he asks for a large contract? How much would be too much to pay Wood in your mind?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd sign him, they have money to spare, maybe four years at $50 million?

 Q:  itto from Isabela, Puerto Rico asks:
In which Cubs minor leaguer you see a potential 2004 minor league player of the year by Baseball america?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Don't really see one because it's hard for a pitcher to win and I think it's too early for Ryan Harvey or Felix Pie.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
Buck Coats ceiling; high average, no power, corner outfielder?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has some gap power and good speed but still needs time to adjust from moving from the outfield to shortstop.

 Q:  Jeff from Ann Arbor asks:
Jim, Early in the season, AskBA indicated that Juan Cruz would turn out to be a better pitcher than Zambrano. While current indications suggest that is a longshot, what do you think of Cruz now? Also, do you think he will be the #5 starter this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: What crazy guy wrote that? I guess that would be me. I still like Cruz, as mentioned, but I'd be surprised if Dusty Baker had the faith to make him the No. 5 starter, and Cruz really hasn't earned it.

 Q:  Mike Ditka from Canton, OH asks:
Would any of the current Cubs starting prospects make a good reliever for what we hope is a pennant chase in the second half?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Todd Wellemeyer or John Leicester, but they're more likely to go shopping for relievers.

 Q:  chuck Nealey from Des Moines, IA asks:
Does matt Clanton have a chance? He must have pitched sosme 10 innings in two years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Has a chance but has to get healthy first.

 Q:  craig jasperse from fargo, North Dakota asks:
What can we hope for from Matt Craig in future? How does he project defensively at 3B? And would he project usefully at any other positions (for example, 2B?)
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has a legit bat but finding a defensive home is a priority, as he's kind of rough at third and second would be a stretch.

 Q:  Alex from The Bullpen asks:
Is Frank Beltran still a legitmate prospect or is he trade bait?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Legit prospect but wouldn't shock me to see him traded either.

 Q:  Greg from Atlanta asks:
Am I dreaming, or are the Cubs going to be good for a long time? If only half of the Cubs' young arms works out, they will have an unbelievable staff.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Pitchers don't always pan out, but the Cubs have the big league nucleus, farm system and financial resources to contend for a while and none of their division rivals don't have all three.

 Q:  Scootah from Milwaukee, WI asks:
I am a die hard Brewer fan but I don't like all the pitching prospects the Cubs have. Could you give me some hope of being able to compete with the Small Bears in the next couple of years?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good news: The Brewers may have the best farm system in the game. Bad news: Bud Selig still owns the team.

 Q:  Harry Carey from northside of Heaven asks:
Jim, Our hearts were broken again this year and every year the cubbies seem to have hyped prospects who never seem to live up to BA's expectations or others( dave kelton,nic jackson,brendan harris,mike mallory,luis montanez,j.j johnson,ryan theriot were all recent high drafts that arent as highly thought of as before.Who,besides cory patterson(prior was a no-brainer)have the cubbies developed from the recent drafts that is making an impact on the team?Seems like some good pr work is being done on their drafts but the proof is in the pudding 4-5 years down the road.What gives?
 A: 

Jim Callis: That's the next step, incorporating homegrown talent. Carlos Zambrano wasn't homegrown, but he was a Cubs system product. You also have to give the Cubs credit for having quality prospects to make trades to bolster their team. But you're right, their late-1990s drafts look very average right now.

 Q:  Trent from Chicago, IL asks:
Where do you project Dwaine Bacon? He had a lot of stolen bases last year. Can he be an everyday starter in the Major Leagues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Fastest guy in the system, led the Florida State League in OBP, old for that level, hard to project as a starter but better than most pure speedsters.

 Q:  craig jasperse from fargo, North Dakota asks:
Robinson Chirinos had unspectacular stats, but was very young for Lansing, looks good defensively (strong arm), and showed hints of both power and patience as a hitter. Is this a kid who might be ready to break through, and that the Cubs like, or is he just a guy?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Chirinos has some upside and is a name to watch, more than just a guy but not a Top 30 Prospect right now.

 Q:  Jeff from Belvidere asks:
Do yo believe the Cubs will make a move at Shortstop and trade Alex Gonzalez and sign someone through FA market. Thanks for the reply!!
 A: 

Jim Callis: There isn't much of a trade market for Alex Gonzalez, is there? They're probably stuck with him for 2004.

 Q:  craig jasperse from fargo, North Dakota asks:
Where will Sergio Mitre debut on your top-30? (if at all) What would he need to do to become a useful big-leaguer? He'll never start for the cubs; would his repertoire be suitable for middle relief? Or is his best hope and use to get traded somewhere where you don't need to throw 95 to get an opportunity?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's in the 11-20 range, and I keep shuffling the order around. My guess is he could be trade bait, especially if he's going to get a chance to start.

 Q:  Jim from Chicago, IL asks:
Should I trade Matt Clement now becuase I have a pitching surplus and use that money on my offense?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I would, especially because I wouldn't want to pay Clement as a free agent after 2004.

 Q:  Matt from Lee's Summit, MO asks:
The Royals passed on Ryan Harvey and took Chris Lubanski. I know it is early to put grades on drafts, but was that the right choice? Can you compare the two players a bit?
 A: 

Jim Callis: It was a financial decision, but I would have spent the extra $300,000 or so to get Harvey, because I like his power more than Lubanski's line-drivespeed game. Nothing wrong with Lubanski, though.

 Q:  Steve from Des Moines asks:
In talking about first base options, you didn't mention Brian Dopirak, Micah Hoffpauir or Kevin Collins. Do you think any of these three will make the bigs?
 A: 

Jim Callis: None of those guys is real close, Dopirak is the best of that group, Hoffpauir started fast and faded in 2003, not real high on Collins.

 Q:  Bobby from Boulder, CO asks:
Do the Cubs have any players they like that they drafted after the first couple of rounds this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Lefties Sean Marshall (sixth round) and Darin Downs (fifth), righty Robert Ransom (23rd).

 Q:  UK from Spring Grove, IL asks:
I know you don't get too many questions about relievers who probably rank outside the top 30, but I find Rich Hill to be the most frustrating prospect in the system. Despite his outstanding (heavy FB wmovement & + breaking pitch), he can't find the proper mechanicsrelease point. I was wondering, what is your projection for him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: You hit the nail on the head, Hill misses a lot of bats but needs to throw a lot more strikes, could be pretty interesting if he figures it out.

 Q:  Chris from St. Louis asks:
Hey Jim, what happened to Darin Downs? He seemed to self-destruct after ariving in Arizona. Was he damaged goods?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Never was 100 percent after coming down with tendinitis in the spring, could be very impressive next year, has a very good curveball.

 Q:  Cubweiser from Grand Rapids asks:
Which Cubs prospect do you think might be the most overrated?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Well, one outlet compared Brendan Harris to Albert Pujols last year, which was preposterous. I like Felix Pie, but I think some fans expect him to be a five-tool Superman, and I don't see the power. Similarly, I like Brian Dubois, but I think some fans are getting overly excited by his Arizona Fall League numbers.

 Q:  Jim from Durham NC asks:
Jim, What happens to Randall Simon now that the Cubs aquired D. Lee to play 1B? Is he under contract? Can or will they trade him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: They'll nontender him rather than go to arbitration, and it would be foolish for anyone to trade for him rather than just pick him up as a free agent.

 Q:  Steve Stone from chicagoland asks:
Jim, Can i definitively quote you that Ryan Harvey will hit .280 and 40 homers a year?That would be awesome
 A: 

Jim Callis: I thought I said "can" rather than "will."

 Q:  Rick from Chicago, IL asks:
Can you tell me what kind of stuff Carmen Pignatiello has? He posted some good numbers last year. Why do you think the Cubs left him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good curveball, very good command and makeup, but his ceiling is limited by an 83-85 mph fastball.

 Q:  Jason Brown from Rome, GA asks:
What do you think the ceiling is on Cubs prospect Donnie Hood? Do you think he has a legitimate shot at the majors? Thanks!!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Has a shot but not a huge one because he's old (25 next season) and limited to first base.

 Q:  Chris Pierce from Chicago, IL asks:
What is your opinion of righthander Jon Leicester? He seemed to pitch very well at times last year, and the Cubs seem very high on him. He seems to have an incredible fastball, but is plagued by control problems.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Live arm, doesn't always harness it, projects more as a reliever, lots of teams ask about him in trade talks.

 Q:  Dan from Indy asks:
What are your thoughts on Robert Ransom?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He threw better in the Cape Cod League than he did at Vanderbilt, needs more life on his fastball and to improve his secondary pitches.

 Q:  Greg from Poolesville, MD asks:
Jim--Wouldn't it have made great sense for the Cubs to have upped the ante on the Giants' bundle of young arms and put A.J. behind the dish?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I heard the Cubs offered both Juan Cruz and Todd Wellemeyer, and I would have taken that over what the Giants gave up. The Cubs wanted Pierzynski and went after him hard, only to come in second.

 Q:  Leon Lee from Somewhere in Asia asks:
Will the Cubs pursue Matsui? He fills their need for speed, a lefty stick, leadoff man, and middle infielder?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Kaz Matsui would solve a lot of problems but I haven't heard him mentioned with the Cubs.

 Q:  Christopher from IL asks:
Mike Nanini out up some good numbers in AA, but was left off the 40 man roster. Do you think he has a chance to make it to the majors at some point?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has a good curveball but his stuff is fairly average, definitely can make it there but probably not in a major role.

 Q:  Tyler from Norfolk, Va asks:
Call it wishful thinking, but is there any way Old Dominion righthander Justin Verlander could fall to the Cubs in the June draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Nope. They've gotten lucky with Mark Prior (2001), Bobby Brownlie (2002) and Ryan Harvey (2003), but Verlander isn't lasting 25 picks.

 Q:  Steve from Des Moines asks:
Are the Cubs likely to regret any of these trades: Bobby Hill for Aramis Ramirez, Dontrelle Willis for Matt Clement, or Hee Sop Choi for Derrek Lee?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Just the Dontrelle deal, but that made sense at the time and I don't think even the Marlins thought he'd be this good.

 Q:  Justin Riddick from Alamo, TN asks:
If you could give me some idea what kind of player catcher Jose Reyes is, you'd be the man, Jim. ;) Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm the man. He's athletic for a catcher but not real big and hasn't hit with much authority, so he's a long ways away.

 Q:  Andy from Ithaca asks:
Ben Christensen: still a shot?
 A: 

Jim Callis: So many injuries that he's just a longshot now.

 Q:  Steve from Des Moines asks:
What are your thoughts on outfielder Kyle Boyer?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Has some athleticism, probably more of a corner guy than a center fielder so he'll have to really hit.

 Q:  Minh from Aurora, IL asks:
From the Boise Hawks, do either Kyle Boyer or Rocky Cherry have any potential?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Just mentioned Boyer, Cherry has a low-90s sinker and decent breaker but also a history of injuries in college.

 Q:  Texas Cub Fan from Where else asks:
Do the Cubs have enough minor league talent to include in an AROD deal. We need pitching desperately in Arlington!
 A: 

Jim Callis: More than enough, and wouldn't the Rangers almost be better served by getting rid of A-Rod, no matter how good he is, and allocating that $25 million to 3-4 players rather than one?

 Q:  Jim Hendry from Chicago, Illinois asks:
What areas should we focus on in the 2004 draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Best player available in the first few rounds, then look for some up-the-middle players later.

 Q:  Justin Riddick from Alamo, TN asks:
What do the Cubs think about Aron Weston? I thought he was an interesting looking athlete when he was with the Jaxx, very very fast player.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Good athlete, never has really hit, just a fringy guy at best.

 Q:  Adam from Urbana, IL asks:
Ryan Fitzgerald finished arizona rookie league at .381 and was above .400 for a time, where is he from, is he a prospect?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Nondrafted free agent from Creighton (where Jim Hendry once coached), second straight Cubs NDFA to win the Arizona League batting title, best tool is speed, has to prove it at much higher levels but he bears watching.

Moderator: That's it for Jim, who will see you shortly with Astros questions and wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.