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January 2, 2007 at 11:54 PM

Jim Callis Chat

Jim Callis of Baseball America was nice enough to do a Q&A sesson with some members of the SoxProspects.com message board. Special thanks to Jim for his answers and Jonathan Singer for organizing. Here’s the transcript:

1. How fast can Bryce Cox move? He looks to have dominant stuff out of the bullpen, is there a possibility he could move as rapidly as Craig Hansen and Cla Meredith?
Yes, he could move that fast. I've said several times that I've never seen a better slider in person than the one Cox was throwing at the College World Series. He also has plenty of fastball, and it's remarkable how he went from not being able to throw strikes for a year to lights out overnight, once he figured out his delivery. The Red Sox are going to try not to rush him, but he may not allow it.

2. A recent Boston Globe article quoted Jason McLeod comparing Kris Negron to Freddy Sanchez, which seems quite a jump for a kid heretofore known more
as the team chef than a possible top prospect. What's your opinion on Negron?
I think part of that comparison is the fact that both were offensive-minded infielders coming out of non-Division I colleges, who weren't high draft picks and have great makeup. Negron is an interesting prospect, but I want to see him in full-season ball before getting too excited.

3. After a seemingly eye-popping instrux there has been some debate as to how much time Daniel Bard should spend in A ball. Where is it reasonable to see him starting and finishing the '07 season?
Bard is a tough guy to figure because he has an electric arm but hasn't dominated amateur hitters like you'd expect. I could see him starting the year in high Class A, where the Red Sox have a new affiliate in the California League--a huge hitter's league. If all goes well, he could finish the year in Double-A. I'd be surprised if he got past there in 2007.

4. Have you heard anything about Angel Beltre and Moises Tejada beyond the basics? Will both/either of them make the BA top 30?
They checked in toward the middle of the list in our Prospect Handbook. They're both very far away, of course, but they're athletes who could be possibly dynamic offensive performers, very interesting guys.

5. What do you make of the late reports that Clay Buchholz was throwing in the mid to high 90's down the stretch in Wilmington? Mike Hazen said that they asked Clay to make command of his fastball his #1 priority this season and stated that promotions would be based on his progress in this area. Is it possible that he was holding back earlier in the year and then let things fly after the promotion or am I looking into things too much? What's the final scouting report on him as I've seen 1,000 conflicting reports about his fastball velocity and secondary pitches.
The reports I had were that his fastball sat at 90-93 for most of the season, then at 95-97 toward the end. His radar-gun readings have been interesting because he typically threw harder late in games rather than early when he was in junior college. His secondary stuff is terrific--hard curveball, hard slider and a changeup that some say is his best pitch. His biggest thing is just getting more consistent with his stuff and command--once he does he'll move very quickly.

6. In your chat today (11-1), you mentioned that there was a talent gap that would prevent you from rating our farm system in the top-5 despite your strong feelings w/ re: to our past two drafts. I expect Pedroia to graduate to the Sox out of Spring Training next year, and feel strongly that Ellsbury/Kottaras can help in '08. Are there any others that you think we might be overlooking in the High Minors, players who might have the talent, but for injuries, or other reasons have not followed a linear path of development? I guess I just took the long way around to asking you for sleepers.
I wound up ranking the Red Sox 11th when I did a rough list of farm systems in mid-December. I like their potential blue-chip talent, but they don't have much depth in the upper minors. You might see a David Murphy or Brandon Moss contribute as an extra outfielder. I think Phil Seibel was a classic sleeper until he got traded. Maybe an Edgar Martinez or a Kyle Jackson finds a bullpen role.

7. If the Sox were to sign Brandon Belt, where would he rank among their SP and overall prospects?
While the Red Sox don't have upper-minors depth, they do have a lot of interesting guys they've brought in from the last two drafts. As a result, I'd put Belt probably right behind someone like Caleb Clay.

8. Do you see Justin Masterson or Bryce Cox as having the higher ceiling, and do you think Masterson can develop the tools to be a major league starter rather than a reliever?
I think Cox has the higher ceiling--a legitimate chance to become a closer. I do think Masterson could become a starter, but I've had enough people tell me reliever that I believe that's what he'll be.

9. Have you heard anything on Mike Rozier? Any thoughts on how he might be expected to recover in 2007? (You may recall that he left the field in an ambulance during the final game of the season after being drilled with a line drive.) Any chance that Rozier may someday justify his signing bonus?
I'm not a believer in Rozier. His stuff is below average and he has yet to come to either of his two spring trainings in shape. I'll pass.

10. Kyle Snyder(the draft pick): what’s with all the hype?
I don't know that there's a ton of hype. He's a projectable right-hander who's still pretty raw, and the Sox will try to sign him as a draft-and-follow if he looks good next spring.

11. The Sox have a number of prospects who are polished professional hitters, but who are not seen by scouts as having a lot of upside, for various reasons. Could we hear your thoughts on Jay Johnson, Jeff Corsaletti, and Jeff Natale in particular?
I'd rate them in this order: Natale, Corsaletti, Johnson. Natale was No. 30 on the Red Sox Top 30 list I did for the Handbook, Corsaletti got bumped off with the late Matsuzaka and Okajima signings and Johnson wasn't really in the mix. Natale and Corsaletti may hit their way to the big leagues, but they're limited. Natale is a poor defensive second baseman and probably is going to be a left fielder. Though Corsaletti runs well enough, he's a left fielder and not a center fielder, and he doesn't have left-field power.

12. There has been a lot of debate in these parts about how good David Murphy can be. Is it reasonable to think he will be a solid starter, or a just a fourth outfielder (on a team like The Sox)?
I think on a contender, you'd want him more as a fourth outfielder than a regular. He does a lot of things OK but nothing that really grabs you. I have a little more hope for Brandon Moss than I do for Murphy.

13. Have the Sox mishandled Craig Hansen, and can he recover without a change of scenery?
I think if the Red Sox had it to do over again, they wouldn't have pushed him as fast as they did. Circumstances also dictated that as well. I think he can recover, and I'd start him off this year in Double-A and hope he can regain his knockout slider. He looked shell-shocked at times in the majors.

14. What do you know about the "approach" that The Sox take with their pitching prospects? This mysterious approach was referenced by Cla Meredith as detrimental when he landed in San Diego, and has been blamed for Craig Hansen's stumbles this year. Can you shed any light on this?
I don't think it's an approach. Relievers move faster than other players, and I think the Red Sox jumped the gun on those two. In Meredith's case, his first major league appearance came under trying circumstances and he seemed to lose confidence for a while afterward. When he got back to being a sinker machine this year, he was fine.

15. What do you think of the Red Sox catching prospects?(Egan, Exposito, Weeden, Kottaras and Wagner) Who is the best defensively and who may have to move to 1B or DH? Who is the best offensively? Which one has the most potential and highest ceiling? Where would you rank them overall in the system? If forced to pick 1 who would it be?
They do have some catching depth after that was a weakness in previous years, though none of those guys is a Top 100 Prospect type. I ranked Kottaras the highest--he just missed the Top 10--in part because of his longer track record. I'd pick him. Wagner is the best defensively, followed by Exposito. Weeden and Egan would be the most likely candidates to move to first base. Egan and Weeden were in the 21-30 range, and Wagner just missed.

16. Michael Bowden or Tyler Clippard? Clay Buchholz or Tyler Clippard?
Buchholz, easily. I'd take Bowden over Clippard, too, though you could make a case for Clippard performing well two levels higher.

17. Luis Soto has always been long on tools and has yet to put it together, what do you see in his future?
I'm off the Soto bandwagon, skeptical that he's going to put it together. At least he's still young.

18. Many scouts believe that Dustin Pedroia will not hit for the kind of power that he hit for in AA and in his last 300 ABs in AAA after he recovered from an injury. They compare him to David Eckstien who routinely has lower than a .100 ISOP. You yourself in a recent chat predicted that Pedroia would have a .716 OPS in 07. Why do scouts believe that Pedroia's ISOP in AA, and his last 300 ABs in AAA will not translate to the majors? Do they misunderstand the importance of his high BB/K ratio?
I don't think BB/K has much to do with power, necessarily. Pedroia has such good hand-eye coordination that he can swing from his heels and still make contact. But he's not a big guy and he doesn't have a lot of strength. If I said a .716 OPS, that might have been in response to a prediction for his 2007 performance--this has been a while since that chat. I like Pedroia, but I also think he's as good as he's going to get.

19. What can you tell us about Chad Spann's future? We've heard some Joe Randa comparisons. Is this reasonable? Better/worse?
Randa is the extreme upside. I think Spann is kind of like David Murphy . . . doesn't really do anything well enough to warrant starting on a good team. I can't see Spann having the long career Randa had.

20. If you had to guess a role for Murphy next year: a) 4th OFer - defense b) Platoon in RF c) In Pawtucket d) traded to another team
D--Traded for some pitching. Maybe to the Rangers?

21. Mark Wagner? MLB Starter, backup or minor league depth guy?
At this point backup, but it's early and if he continues to improve like he did in 2006, maybe he's a starter.

22. Is this Bladergroen's last chance to prove he's past the wrist injury and a legit prospect once again?
Yeah. I'm off that bandwagon too.

23. A couple years ago the Sox seemed to emphasize performance more than tools in the draft (Dobies, Alvarez, Hottovy, etc.). More recently they have gone after guys who just plain throw harder, whether or not they have the best numbers (Bard, Hansen, Buccholz, Clay, and even Richardson, Craft and Lentz). Do you see this as a rejection of their earlier, more numerically driven scouting philosophy, or simply a matter of happenstance?
I think it's a change in need. A couple of years ago, the system was very thin and they wanted advanced college players they could move quickly. Now they're just looking for talent regardless of demographic, a better way of going about it.

24. Could you rank the stronger and weaker positions in the red sox's farm system. And do you have any information on Reddick, he was mentioned in your draft card. Plus any information on Chih-Hsein Chiang? plus any idea where he will start next year? possibly from a nice DP combo with Negron in Greenville? Also is Craig Hansen still eligible as a prospect since he has not pitched 50 innings in the majors?
The two strongest positions are right-handed starters (Buchholz, Bowden, Bard, Masterson, Clay, etc.) and center field (Ellsbury, Place, Murphy, Kalish, Beltre, etc.). The weakest would be probably third base, with Chad Spann the best of a weak crop. I don't have a current left fielder on the Red Sox Top 30, though some of those CF may wind up there. Josh Reddick is another center fielder. Boston took him as a draft-and-follow and signed him this summer after he starred against Team USA. He has a promising bat and good speed. They like Chiang, who very well could form a DP with Negron in low Class A. Hansen was eligible for the list because he hasn't exceeded 50 innings in the majors.

25. What are your thoughts on some of the Dominican prospects (Soto, Santa, Capellan, Beltre and Tejeda) and Venezuelan born prospects (Doubront, Fernandez, Arambarris, Lara)? Will any of them live up to there tools?
Beltre and Tejada are the best of the Dominicans, with Doubront and Fernandez the best of the Venezuelans. They're promising in their own ways, though they're so far away. You can't really tell much about guys until they get to full-season leagues.

26. Will the new CBA draft rules prevent the Sox from duplicating their performance rating of the last two drafts?
I don't think so. Even with the new rules, I don't think you'll see many teams taking tough signs in the early rounds. If they can't sign a guy, they won't take him, even if they can get the pick back the next year. Boston still will have more money than most clubs and can be more aggressive than most. The one thing that may hold them back is they won't have as many extra early picks as they had in 2005 and 2006.

27. Was the predominate reason for the Red Sox rating as #1 driven by the number of picks at top of the draft or because of the "tough signs" in the later rounds.
Really, a combination of both and how aggressive they were at adding talent.

28. Chris Turner seems like he has great power but no other tools except the ability to strike out. Will this power be enough to propel him through the system or do you see him floundering around High-A for a while? Thanks a lot for coming on here and doing this.
He's an interesting guy but hasn't put it together yet. He's a career .258 hitter after four pro seasons, and he's going to need to do a lot better than that.

29. Michael Bowden had a great year in Greenville, but the numbers don’t reflect his development. Has his changeup progressed enough to be a viable 3rd pitch? How about his fastball command and how it would translate in the high minors?
His fastball command is good, very good for his age. His changeup is a decent third pitch but needs a lot more work. Remember, he was just a teenager in low Class A, and in that context, he performed very well.

30. Daniel Bard said in an interview that his changeup came in at around 89 mph, do you have nay knowledge of what type of change this is, (split-change/circle change/3 finger) and what kind of depth it has?
I don't, to be honest. That sounds like a splitter.

31. Jed Lowrie was considered a poor ss this year in many facets of the position, in your opinion is it time for the sox to switch him back to 2B to get his bat back on track and just accept that he is not a SS?
Teams usually try to play a guy at the more challenging position as long as he can handle it. With Julio Lugo signed for four years, that could hasten Lowrie's move to second base. If it came down to it, I think Dustin Pedroia could play a better shortstop than Lowrie could.

32. Kottaras' receiving skills were questioned by some scouts (on top of his catch and throw mechanics), are these valid concerns shared by most scouts, or just few. Also are his high k numbers more a reflection of failure to make contact, or hyper-patience that results in a lot of called strikes?
Kottaras should be an adequate to average defender. No one raves about his defense, but he's not a stiff either. The Red Sox think he just needs some fine-turning. He does take a lot of pitches because of his patience, which leads to some deeper counts and more strikeouts.

33. Jason Place: can he stick in CF?
He has a chance. Right now he projects as a solid center fielder, but if he slows down at all he'd have to move to right field. He has more than enough arm strength to fit in right.

34. Is Lancaster a 2 and done deal with the sox, or are the sox looking to diversify their parks (offensive and defensive) using the differences to get a better read on their prospects?
I'm thinking it's a two-and-done deal. It makes much more sense for Boston to have an Eastern-based high Class A affiliate, and playing in an extreme environment (in this case, one that favors hitters), isn't the best way to develop prospects.

35. How far has Natale's defense gone at 2B, is he adequate, and if so, what type of offensive production do you see out of him in the upper minors?
He's below average and there's little hope that he'll even be adequate because his hands, range and footwork just don't get the job done. I can see him as a .280-.300 hitter with 30 doubles and 15 homers in the upper minors.

36. Will Felix Doubront add velocity and do you see him starting in Greenville next year?
Yes, because he can add a lot of strength to his 6-foot-2, 166-pound frame. He's already at 86-91 mph, very promising for a projectable young lefty. I think he'll start the year in Greenville.

37. Are you at all concerned with Ellsbury's lower than expected 2B and 3B totals this year. Do you feel that he could add enough power to be an 840-860 OPS cf?
Not concerned, as it was his first full year in the minors and power usually comes late. Wilmington is not a good hitter's park, and he posted better numbers after moving up to Double-A. I see him as a .300/.380/.460 type once he hits his stride.

38. Is Moss still considered a "tweener" in RF (too little offense for RF, not enough defense for CF) or has his stock improved enough this past season that scouts believe he can be a full-time player in RF?
Sort of in between. I wouldn't say that scouts say he's a definite regular in right (he can't play center), but his stock is on the upswing. He's still pretty young. I think he's a little underrated.

39. What are your thoughts on the raw, toolsy position players taken in this years draft? We all know you like Anderson do you think he will hit for enough average to move quickly? What do you think about Place, Kalish, and Weeden both offensively and defensively? Where do you think these guys will start next season and how fast will they move?
Outside of anyone who works for the Red Sox, I'm probably the biggest Anderson booster there is. I think he'll hit from day one and move fairly fast. Long term, I bet Place winds up in RF, Kalish in CF and Weeden at 1B. Some scouts don't like Place's swing mechanics, but he has a lot of tools and if they work for him, he can be very good. Kalish is a line-drive hitting athlete, while Weeden is more of a slugger. I think Anderson and Place have the best chance to start 2007 in low Class A. Outside of Anderson, I think the other guys will move like high schoolers normally do, rather than rush to the majors.

40. What does Boston have in Brandon Moss? It seems that he showed good power this season, if you put any stock in doubles. Do you think he can develop into a starting ML corner OF?
Just touched on him two questions ago . . . Moss made some strides in 2006. He has a chance to be a big league regular, sure.

41. What do you think the Sox have with Devern Hansack? If he were five years younger people would assume he could be in the starting rotation in a couple years but at 28, if that’s really his age, he's probably reached or close to his ceiling. Is his stuff good enough to be a #4 type pitcher?
It's hard to say about Hansack, who went from totally off the map to pitching in the majors in 2006. There's some talk he could become the closer, but that sounds far-fetched to me. He could be a No. 4, as he has a plus fastball and a solid slider to go with some moxie.

42. Two years ago, you had Kyle Jackson listed as one of you sleepers, I Was wondering is his true potential starting to show now as a reliever? He has established himself as a Legit Rhp out of the pen. Do you see him making the pro's next season? (Sept?) or is he still a couple years away? Is it possible Boston leaves him unprotected in the rule 5 draft this coming month and he gets a shot in the bigs w/another team? just wondering your insight.
Jackson is a couple of years away. Interesting arm, probably not more than a sixth- or seventh-inning guy, but that's a needed role on any club.

43. The Red Sox have a few guys that signed late and didn't have a chance to play in the organization (Weeden, Caleb Clay, Lars Anderson). Can any of these guys make it to Greenville to start the year?
Anderson has the best shot of that group.

44. Can you tell us something about any of the guys from the DSL? Alvarez, Jimenez, Castillo, Burgos, and Navarro all seem interesting.
I don't delve much into the Dominican Summer League, so can't help you there.

45. Any insight on Mike Jones? He was old for the league, but he doesn't have a lot of experience. Could he be a sleeper?
He could, and he intrigues me a little. Physically, he resembles a young David Ortiz, and he's very strong. I'd like to see what he does in full-season ball.

46. Pedroia- is he a legitimate full-time 2nd baseman, or is he just temporarily holding the position until either Jed Lowrie or Chiang are ready?
Pedroia is better than those guys. He's not the star that his early minor league numbers led some to project him to be, but there's no reason he can't be a dependable big league regular for a while.

47. Masterson-is he a starter or reliever? Reid Engel-can he hit enough to be a legitimate major league prospect?
Touched on Masterson earlier. The Red Sox like Engel and he's only 19, but he needs to kick his bat into gear.

48. What is your opinion of the red sox approach with respect to international scouting?
They obviously made a huge splash with Daisuke Matsuzaka in Japan, and I think the Hideki Okajima signing could be a nice one also. In Latin America, other teams felt that they got great bang for their buck in Engel Beltre and Oscar Tejada. It's hard to accurately judge international scouting, because with the players mostly being very young, you don't know how good they are until five years later.

49. Which Sox pitching prospects have a legitimate #1/2 potential?
Daisuke Matsuzaka will be a No. 1. Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard have that kind of ceiling. Michael Bowden is probably more of a No. 3.

50. Can you tell us anything about Tim Cox? he put up some pretty good numbers in Greenville, almost as good as Buchholz's, but seems to have gone largely under the radar, especially for such a young kid, i assume due to his size. What does he have to do to be a legitimate prospect, do you have a scouting report on what he throws, and is he already a pretty polished pitcher or does he have some room for projectability. Do you think he can some day be an effective major league setup-man?
The knock on Cox is that he has a below-average fastball. He has a good breaking ball, and it's easy to fool hitters in low Class A with a good breaker. Adding some more velocity would help his cause. I wouldn't tag him as a setup man yet, but he has some potential.

51. With the Red Sox having had two excellent drafts in a row and with only two top 10 prospects graduating to the pros after this year, many of the top prospects will have another year to prove their prospect status. Do you see the Red Sox challenging for the top farm system spot after next year?
That might be a bit much. They shouldn't lose too many guys off the top of their list, except for Dustin Pedroia and Craig Hansen, so that will help. But for them to jump all the way up to No. 1, all of those recent draft picks will have to progress and not regress, and attrition usually strikes some of them.

52. The Red Sox will select _________ with the 20th pick in the 2007 MLB Draft.
Tough call this early. I'll go with Georgia right-hander Josh Fields or Oklahoma State third baseman Matt Mangini.

53. The Red Sox announced early this week that Allan Baird will formally join them as an AGM. According to the Boston Globe this past Monday: "The New Hampshire native will oversee the team's pro scouting -- the club is expected to announce the hiring of several new scouts shortly -- but also will have a hand in amateur scouting while also serving as one of Epstein's key talent evaluators on special assignments." Do you see any changes with the addition of Baird, or do you see this position as more advisory? Also, can you give us any insight into what happened in KC during his tenure there?
I think he'll be more of an advisor, another intelligent guy in the mix. Baird's best reputation is as a scout. He didn't have many resources to work with in the Royals, and he also didn't make many good decisions either. He's not the first scout to struggle as a general manager, and he won't be the last. It's a tough job.