BillShanks:: Okay folks here's Bill Ballew from Baseball America. Ask away....
thethe:: TELL US ABOUT ELVIS!!!
marzybrave:: Bill, you views on Salty
thethe:: wellcome by the way
060606:: Bill,in your opinion, who's the Braves best prospect?
thethe:: do the writers of baeball america fight over the top 100 rankings? Do you pull for the braves to get more players on there at all, or do you guys have no particular rooting interest?
marzybrave:: How are the top prospects chosen and with what do they base it on?
BillBallew:: Howdy howdy. I think we got everything rolling now.
thethe:: did you see our questiosn, or would you like us to re-post?
BillBallew:: First of all, Elvis is awesome, given his age (16). His concentration drifts a little, but the raw tools are incredible, and he's very polished for his age.
BillBallew:: I got some questions
BillBallew:: Now, as far as Salty is concerned, he's emerged as the best minor league catching/hitting prospect in the game
thethe:: do you think he is going to supplant McCann or be moves?
BillBallew:: He got off to a rough start at Rome two years ago and I was somewhat underwhelmed, but that's not the case any longer.
marzybrave:: Will he outgrow his position?
SkipSeda41:: Wasn't he hurt in Rome Bill?
thethe:: anybody else from the braves minor league system jump out at you
BillBallew:: He's impressive. I don't know how the McCann/Salty situation is going to work out, but Salty is not worried about it. His attitude is those things have a way of working themselves out, and he's right.
BillBallew:: He was banged up at Rome, and he didn't look comfortable. That's no longer the case.
BillBallew:: Are wondering if Elvis or Salty will outgrow the position?
thethe:: do you think salty will go to third or is cambell making the braves think that the best place for salty is 1b?
marzybrave:: Yes will Salty get too large to catch effectly
BillBallew:: I don't think so. I don't see him going to third because Campbell is there and Van Pope is on the verge of blossoming.
BillBallew:: Catchers are at such a premium that I see Salty staying there at least for another year.
gilesfan:: Pope isn't half as good as Salty though, sorry. Campbell will be lucky to get to Saltys level
marzybrave:: First, I believe will be his natural position in the future
thethe:: any team have as much depth as the braves do in the minor leagues?
060606:: What is opinion of Matt Harrison?
BillBallew:: There's worse things than a switch-hitting first baseman! But switch-hitting catchers are a huge rarity.
BillBallew:: No, Pope doesn't compare to Salty, but then again very few players do at this point.
marzybrave:: Johnny Estrada would argue that point
BillBallew:: True, but Johnny doesn't have Salty's all-around ability.
marzybrave:: No arguments there!
marzybrave:: Ted Simmons was a pretty good switch hitting catcher
BillBallew:: Don't discount Campbell. He's a hitter and a decent fielder. He may wind up in the outfield corners, but he could blossom faster than Kelly Johnson.
thethe:: what are you throught on Daives Lerew and James....who is most ready now, and who do you think will be the best out of them in the future?
BillBallew:: First let me get to Matt Harrison...
marzybrave:: Other than James is he our top lefty prospect?
BillBallew:: Matt could be a left-handed workhorse. He's got great size and great command, which is hard to find with such a young lefty. He has a chance to be real good.
BillBallew:: Yes, and his ceiling is much higher than James'.
jonestowers:: welcome bill
SkipSeda41:: Who do you think will "break out" players for 2006 Bill B
marzybrave:: So he is considered a better prospect than James?
gilesfan:: You much not be a stathead, Bill Ballew.(James comment)
BillBallew:: Long-term, yes, Harrison is a better prospect.
gilesfan:: Chances of Yunel Escobar being our SS next year? Chances that he becomes a really good player?
jonestowers:: do you think Salty is a case similiar to the Biggio case ? a great hitting catcher who was moved to a position due to his talent
BillBallew:: But James deserves some love, too. He has proven a lot of people wrong. I really liked when I saw him a couple of years ago in Danville and I was ridiculed for ranking as high as I did in teh Appy League Top 20.
BillBallew:: He got knocked down by the powers that be, so I've always been a Chuck James fan for selfish reasons!
marzybrave:: He amazes me how he gets people out!
BillBallew:: Same thing with Francoeur. Prior to the 2005 season, BA did not want to put at him at No. 1 in the Braves, but I convinced them otherwise. Jeff made me look good for once!
BillBallew:: Chuckie's nasty, especially with that changeup.
thethe:: you think that cambell could end up being better then marte?
jonestowers:: For some reason Bill I feel Salty and Biggio are so similiar
BillBallew:: And he's a bulldog. He'd go right after his grandmother if she stepped in the box.
gilesfan:: What about Paul Bush?
marzybrave:: But major league hitters are much better than the hitters in the minors. James may have a tougher time up here
thethe:: and also out of our three pitcher daives lerew and james...who is most ready now, and who will be best in the future?
jonestowers:: Lerrew and Davies in my oppinion
BillBallew:: Let's get to three pitchers, since that was a while back
jonestowers:: Is McBride the most overlooked pitcher in the pen
BillBallew:: James would be third, and Lerew and Davies are a tossup. Davies got his act together about two years ago, and Lerew really came into his own in 2005. The numbers don't show how much Lerew improved last year.
BillBallew:: Lerew has a shot at becoming a No. 2 starter in a couple of years.
marzybrave:: Do you think Lerew has closer stuff?
gilesfan:: My opinion is Davies is the better pitcher
gilesfan:: if thats worth anything
BillBallew:: He could, but No. 2 pitchers are few and far between.
BillBallew:: Davies is kinda getting overlooked now, but he's a bulldog, too. Davies could be a big surprise this year in the big leagues.
jonestowers:: Bobby felt Lerrew could be a closer if needed
BillBallew:: He could, but long-term Lerew will be a starter, in my opinion.
marzybrave:: If he gets an opportunity
jonestowers:: Bill what about McBride being overlooked
thethe:: going back to skips question if i missed the answer...who do you see as the braves breakout minor league player this year
BillBallew:: McBride is overlooked. He fits perfectly into the lefty setup role.
jonestowers:: McBride seems like he has the attitude of a rock
BillBallew:: The Braves have thought for a few years that McBride might go to the bullpen and everything has worked out in that direction.
marzybrave:: I hope Bobby and Roger doesn't fall in love with Remlinger
BillBallew:: What kind of attitude's do rocks possess?
jonestowers:: stone cold
jonestowers:: never showing his emotions
jonestowers:: or thoughts
anglerule2:: how much more of a priority do the braves place on scouting the state of Georgia than the rest of the US?
BillBallew:: He does, but he hides them well
BillBallew:: OK, back to the other question about the breakout
jonestowers:: thats impressive to me Bill
gilesfan:: What is your opinon of Paul Bush and Dan Smith. They are both a little old for their league.
BillBallew:: Me, too. I like Macay a lot. He's one of the best guys in the entire organization, and he's one heck of a pitcher.
jonestowers:: what about the pitcher the braves drafted out of Ga Tech a few years back
BillBallew:: for the breakout players
BillBallew:: Look for a great outfield in Rome--Jon Mark Owings, Jordan Schafer, and Ovandy Suero
BillBallew:: Van Pope will have an excellent season...
BillBallew:: On the mound, James Parr will emerge as an elite pitching prospect
gilesfan:: Owings has amazing power
BillBallew:: Beau Jones will get his name in the paper a lot...
BillBallew:: and Brandon Jones will live up to the Braves' huge expectations, if he stays healthy
marzybrave:: How about the number one pick a couple of years ago, Luis Atliano
jonestowers:: Escobar when do you see him making it to the bigs ;some say when he learns english he will arrive
BillBallew:: Atiliano needs to stay healthy, which has not been the case thus far.
SkipSeda41:: Bill B is there anyone you would compare Elvis to at this point in his career?
BillBallew:: Escobar is a natural baseball player. He has tons of talent, although he can be a little irritating on the field with his antics. But he has ability. His English is not good and must improve.
gilesfan:: What antics? Personality like Tejada?
jonestowers:: what antics
BillBallew:: It's hard to compare Elvis because he's so young.
SkipSeda41:: But isn't that ho they play in Cuba? Almost like the NBA?
BillBallew:: I was getting ready to say that Elvis reminds me of a young Tejada, but Elvis is better than Miggy was at the same age.
thethe:: was anyone better then elvis at this age?
jonestowers:: the antics
BillBallew:: He chatters constantly and has a whistle that pisses off his own players as much as the opposing team.
gilesfan:: Does that mean he's not liked by his teamates?
BillBallew:: He also has the full range of hot-dogging at times.
SkipSeda41:: a couple in the ear hole will cure that soon enough
jonestowers:: you think he will mature
BillBallew:: No, he's liked, and he's a tremendous player. But he needs to find his niche on the team a little better.
SkipSeda41:: I have heard the Braves said if Elvis was in this draft he would be the number one overall pick...do you feel that way/
060606:: What's your opinion of Roy Clark and the Braves scouting department
060606:: compared with the others in baseball
BillBallew:: I think he was trying too hard when he joined the organization last year. I'm not saying Yunel is a bad seed or anything because he's not.
jonestowers:: Bill whose the best possible leadoff hitter in the braves farm do they have
BillBallew:: Yes, I believe Elvis would be the first pick in this year's draft.
gilesfan:: JC Holt after he has a great year this year
BillBallew:: I think Roy and his staff are the most thorough scouts in the game. I've been lucky enough to speak with most of the scouts and they really emphasize character over any other trait. All the talent in the world does not matter if a player does not have the right makeup, and that's why the organization has produced the likes of Francoeur, McCann, etc.
jonestowers:: whose best leadoff , on base % , steals type player do the braves have
SkipSeda41:: MAKE UP....Let me see....where have I heard that before
BillBallew:: You know, this time last year I might have said Holt. I would say the guy with the biggest upside is Suero, but he's got to cut down on his whiffs big-time.
gilesfan:: Paul Bush and Dan Smith?
060606:: With the Braves having so many draft picks in the first 100, can you give us some names to look for in June
thethe:: who do you think is going to be the better overall player in the future? Langerhans or kelly johonson?
BillBallew:: I love Smith's size--6-foot-5, 250 pounds, lefty. He can be an intimidator. Bush also had a good showing in 2005. Those guys are underdogs, but I feel underrated as well
SkipSeda41:: What do you think about Will Startup...he looks like the poster child for "Make up" to me
BillBallew:: I haven't spent a lot of time looking at the draft yet. I usually don't get into that until April, when everybody gets a good head of steam and shows if they can live up to the hype.
gilesfan:: Opinions on Kaaihue, Max Ramirez, and Owings?
BillBallew:: I've always felt than Langy and Kelly are very similar players, particularly from an offensive standpoint. Honestly, I see both of them as the third-best outfielder in a major league outfield, or even a fourth OFer. They're both solid guys, but they're not top-shelf talents.
BillBallew:: And Will could play that Rolling Stones' song when he enters the game
BillBallew:: I haven't seen Kaiihue, but everything I've heard has been positive.
BillBallew:: Ramirez and Owings are both strong offensive players. Ramirez has really taken to catching since moving there from third base and could be better than Brayan Pena
PatioDaddio:: Bill, you touched on Eric Campbell earlier. I have heard good things about him. What is your overall take on him and his future?
BillBallew:: Owings I believe could be special. He's a little bit of a sleeper on the big stage, but his power is impressive, and he has a great arm in right. His makeup is also off the charts.
thethe:: what about Chuck James makeup
thethe:: didn't he get suspended two years ago?
BillBallew:: Campbell reminds me of Matt Williams when he was coming up through the Giants organization. Williams was a shortstop who really broke out when he moved to third. Campbell looked much more comfortable at the hot corner last year. He may be a corner OFer down the road, but his bat has some serious juice.
gilesfan:: Speaking of Campbell, I've heard some "rumors" of possible attitude issues with Campbell. Any comments? Is he just really intense?
BillBallew:: I haven't been around Campbell a lot, but he does appear to be intense. I haven't seen anything that really raises red flags.
thethe:: coudlyou possiblly re-post the last thing you wrote Bill B
BillBallew:: Chucky is a good ol' Southern boy who isn't afraid to have a good tim.e
gilesfan:: I'm a little more pessimistic on Thormon than most. How would your rank his talent with Laroche?
BillBallew:: He had a few too many drinks at the SAL All-Star Game and wound up getting into a fight, along with Matt Esquivel. That's all in the past. Chuck realizes he has one chance to make it in this game and he's not going to blow it. He's a throwback baseball player, a guy who could have played with the old Cardinals' Gas House Gang.
SkipSeda41:: what about Esquivel...he hasnt been heard of much since the fight has he
gilesfan:: I bet James was carded. He looks about 16.
BillBallew:: LaRoche does not get the love he deserves. I wish Bobby would let him get some swings against southpaws not that Julio is a Met. That said, Thorman has good power and continues to improve, but LaRoche is playing at a high level and has a way to go to get to that level.
thethe:: and he hits in the clutch which no one on these boards cares about
gilesfan:: Are you sure this isn't Bill Shanks? :)
BillBallew:: Esquivel has played all three OF positions and was given a look at the infield corners late last season, but was not impressive in the trial run. He has good power and can run for a big guy. He's still working on polishing his game.
thethe:: anyone who hits in the postseason can play for my team any day of the week
BillBallew:: Don't overlook LaRoche's defense. He reminds me a lot of J.T. Snow when J.T. was in his prime. A lot of Braves fans want to rag on LaRoche and trade him, but he's a keeper in my book.
thethe:: did you see that new statiscal overview of defense
gilesfan:: People may not like this, but I'm gonna ask since you may know as well as any. Thoughs on Marte and maybe if you think he's ready to shine in the majors this year.
thethe:: it said laroche was one of hte worst first baseman in baseball defensively...after i read that i stopped reading
BillShanks:: Yeah I was going to interject that this is Bill Ballew doing this chat - not Bill Shanks. But I'm glad to see we have similar opinions. Sometimes I think I'm on an island by myself with some of these opinions.
BillShanks:: Okay guys about five more minutes with Bill Ballew. Get your final questions in now.
PatioDaddio:: Bill, they rag on any Braves player that can't hit .330 w/ 55 hr
thethe:: you know i love Laroche as well BILL?
thethe:: everyone wants regular seasson stars on this board...why i have no clue
thethe:: i want postseason stars, and Laroche is already a post season star
jonestowers:: 1st off thanks so much for give us some data on the braves up and commers bill
SkipSeda41:: Before you go....What about Chris Waters. He came back from surgery last year and had some good outings.
gilesfan:: You have to produce in the 162 to get to the postseason
thethe:: not to a star lvl....
thethe:: 5 starters make it through the regular season
BillBallew:: I was a bit concerned with the way Marte handled his short time in Atlanta last year. He scared me a little. I know it was just a quick look, but visions of Wilson Betemit hit me over the top of my head. Marte could have a good season, but he's not a sure thing. I don't mean to keep giving Giants analogies, but I see Marte as a younger Pedro Feliz.
marzybrave:: Is Clint Sammons big league material?
gilesfan:: How do you think McCann, Francouer,and Johnson will do this year?
BillBallew:: Chris Waters did have a nice comeback. He has to prove himself to some people in the organization, but he'll have that chance this year. He's got to do it this year, though.
BillBallew:: Yes, I think Cllint Sammons is big league material. I think he's one of the big sleepers in the organization.
jonestowers:: backup or starter
marzybrave:: But do you think he will get an oportunity in this organization?
BillBallew:: He may not play in Atlanta, but if I had to bet, I'd bet Sammons will play several seasons in the big leagues.
buddie:: What happen to nix
BillBallew:: He'll be better than Doug Mirabelli or someone like that.
jonestowers:: Mirabelli who
marzybrave:: I am looking forward to seeing Will Startup some day in our pen!
BillBallew:: The one thing that concerns me about Francoeur is his playing in the World Baseball Classic. He'll be fine overall, but he could slump once he returns.
gilesfan:: Boyer, McBride, Startup, Devine, Nix............WOW
BillBallew:: Startup has a solid shot, too. He's another Bulldog, a la Sammons.
SkipSeda41:: and, I think Chris Waters will rebound well this year and get right back in the mix. He is a good family man and has just the "Make UP" the Braves love
BillBallew:: I really appreciated you guys having me on. We'll do this again real soon!
gilesfan:: THanks alot Bill, it was a pleasure.
marzybrave:: Enjoyed having you here, Bill!
jonestowers:: I hope before the draft Bill
PatioDaddio:: Good work, Bill B.
SkipSeda41:: Thanks Bill B
gilesfan:: Maybe after the draft!
BillShanks:: Bill thank you so much for joining us. It was great to have you on with us. Please come back during the regular season. Thanks so much.
Bill Ballew Chat Transcript
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