Minor Details

Jim Callis is the Executive Editor of Baseball America specializing on current minor league prospects. Over the last few years Georgia has had some great talent in the minors. Some have reached the majors already and are trying to come back and others are trying to get there for the first time. Another claim to fame for Jim Callis is that he is a UGA graduate. He tells me all in this interview.


Dave McMahon -- Will Startup is having a tremendous year in the minors, how soon do you think it will be before the Braves call him up?

Jim Callis -- Startup tore through Double-A with ease and has had a tougher time adjusting to Triple-A. But if he gets back on track, and considering how much the Braves need bullpen help, he could be up in September. I think next year is more likely, though.

DM -- What about Jeff Keppinger, he showed some promise while he was up in the majors a few years back... then came injuries... how soon before he comes back?

JC -- The knock on Keppinger is that while he hits for average, he doesn't do anything else (power, steals, defense) exceptionally well. The Mets like speed and defense, and he might need a trade to get a chance to play regularly. He has proven about all he can prove in Triple-A.

DM -- Same sitution with Robby Hammock... what about him?

JC -- Hammock may also need a trade to get back to the majors. He projects more as a backup than as a starter at this point.

DM -- You were in Omaha for the College World Series, even though Georgia did not have the series they expected, what did you think about the players that were drafted?

JC -- Georgia ran into the hottest pitcher (Bryce Cox of Rice) and the hottest team (Oregon State) in Omaha, and that was all she wrote. The best pro prospect on the Bulldogs was probably Joshua Fields, who won't be draft-eligible until 2007. Brooks Brown (supplemental first round, Diamondbacks) has a very good arm, obviously, though I think he'll be more of a reliever than a starter in the majors. Joey Side (sixth round, Diamondbacks) was a tremendous college player, a very good athlete who could do just about everything. The odds are longer for a sixth-rounder, but I bet he makes it to the majors. Josh Morris (12th round, Braves) dropped in the draft because of his bonus desires. He has a ton of power and just needs to find a way to make more consistent contact. Jason Jacobs (20th round, Mets) and Bobby Felmy (22nd round, Giants) are more longshots after nice college careers.

DM -- Who do you see in that group possibly reaching the majors first?

JC -- Brown, because it's easier for pitchers in general and relievers in particular to move faster. I do think he'll wind up in the bullpen.

DM -- When you were at Georgia, did you work for the athletic department, or the Red and Black, radio, etc... did you cover the Dawgs?

JC -- I was at Georgia for three years and a quarter, and I started working at The Red and Black after my first quarter as a freshman. My first story was actually a movie review ("Once Bitten," which wasn't very good) but I quickly moved over to sports. I covered a variety of sports and also had a column, but I enjoyed covering the baseball team the best. The first team I covered was the 1987 squad that was the first in school history to go to the College World Series. I also covered the baseball team in 1988 before graduating that December.

DM -- What were some of your favorite memories covering them?

JC -- The best was getting to cover the team in Omaha. Winning the regional at Georgia Tech was pretty sweet, too. Georgia lost its opener, then knocked out the Jackets in a second-round elimination game and rolled from there. Derek Lilliquist was amazing throughout the year--he won Baseball America's College Pitcher of the Year award and I believe he also had the second-highest single-season HR total in school history to that point as a DH. Lilliquist and Brian Barnes matched up in a great pitcher's duel at Clemson, and a two-game Florida State series was also full of excitement. I also remember a game in which Roger Miller drove in 10 runs or so against someone like Georgia College. After I left school, I covered the 1990 national championship team in Omaha for Baseball America. That was even more memorable because I had gone to school with several players on the team.

DM -- Who was the best player for Georgia while you were here?

JC -- Definitely Lilliquist, though Cris Carpenter and Steve Carter from the 1987 team and Dave Fleming from the 1988 team also reached the majors. Lilliquist was the best pitcher in the country in 1987, and one of the most dangerous power hitters as well.

DM -- How did you get involved with Baseball America?

JC -- I inquired about a yearlong internship they had in 1988, but I decided it wasn't worth putting school on hold for a year. But I did write a short sidebar for them on how Georgia rebuilt its pitching staff after losing Lilliquist and Carpenter as first-round picks. Then I took a summer internship with them, working on a draft book project. By the end of a summer, I had lineup up a full-time job for after I graduated in December. I've worked there ever since, except for a 2 1/2-year period I spent at STATS, Inc., after moving to the Chicago area in the summer 1997.

DM -- Thank you for your time and answers.

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