Chat with Baseball America's Jim Callis

BA's minor league expert talks about current, past and returned Cardinals prospects

The current issue of Baseball America highlights pitcher Mark Michael, who was the Cards' fourth rounder in 2003. Michael went 6-6, 3.36 with Peoria last season. Lots of good comments in BA about his off-season work to strengthen his shoulder and a change he's made in his grip of the baseball.

I decided to ask Jim Callis, BA's Executive Editor, about it. In fact, through the generous facilities of my cohorts at SportsBlurb.com, who feature minor league-focused chat sessions every Thursday night, I was able to fire a number of Cardinals-oriented queries at Callis, who expertly fielded every one.

However, if I missed your favorite minor leaguer in my questioning, feel free to drop Jim a note via their Ask BA mailbag (askba@baseballamerica.com). You must include your full name and hometown.

What is your take on Mark Michael, the subject of a positive story in the current BA?

I am not as optimistic. I like his arm, but he has erratic command which has prevented him from dominating as much as his stuff would ordinarily allow him. He still has a long way to go and now has shoulder problems to overcome as well.

What do you know about Blake Hawksworth's health? Has his stock fallen in the past year?

It has fallen, if only because Hawksworth barely pitched before needing shoulder surgery. I liked him a lot before 2004, now I want to see how he comes back. Shoulder surgery always scares me.

How much less of a prospect is Daric Barton now that he has converted from catcher to first base and will the change inhibit his progress toward the majors, help it or make no difference and why?

Barton is still one of the best hitters in the minors and a top prospect at first base. But, obviously, if he was still a catcher, he'd be a lot more valuable. He should be able to reach the majors considerably quicker because his defense is little or no factor at first base (as long as he hits) than it would have been at catcher.

Did Tyler Johnson ever have a legitimate chance to make the Oakland A's as a Rule 5 selection?

It's hard for a Rule 5 guy to stick with a club that isn't bad. Relievers have the best shot, but the A's bolstered their bullpen this off-season and Johnson just couldn't make it happen.

What do you think is Anthony Reyes' ceiling and when will he stick in the bigs?

Reyes has a huge ceiling. He was very good at Southern Cal – when healthy. If he can stay healthy, he is probably only a year away.

Was Adam Wainwright over-hyped as a Braves prospect? Where do you project him?

I liked Adam Wainwright with the Braves, so I don't think he was over-hyped. But some scouts thought his numbers were better than his stuff truly was. I am very conservative on projecting pitchers. I still think he can be a #3 (starter in the majors).

Is Jimmy Journell's time as a serious prospect past?

Yes, he's pretty much done.

What do you think of Rick Ankiel's chances of making it as an outfielder?

Ankiel has a chance, but I don't think it is much of one. He hasn't hit regularly since high school and his Appy League performance as a DH doesn't make me think it will happen. Is he a good hitter for a pitcher? Yes. Is he good enough to play as a big league outfielder? Probably not.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.


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