In 2013 he left Baseball America and now his work, and Jim, along with Jonathan Mayo, heads prospect/draft coverage for MLB Network and MLB.com. As always Jim was kind enough to give us some time to chat about his thoughts on this year’s Padres’ draft.
You liked the Padres draft. Why?
Jim Callis: I did. At first I was a little confused at the direction they were going, especially in the first round, but after the second day it made much more sense to me. I think they got quite a few quality players.
There have been multiple reports that Cal Quantrill may have the talent to have been an overall number one pick if he had pitched this year. Do you think that is true and how big a risk is it taking him?
Jim Callis: That may have been exaggerated slightly. He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff – low 90’s fastball and while he does have a good curve ball, slider and change-up – none of them are of wipe out quality.
What he does have is a very good feel for pitching and a good track record of performance when he has pitched. Could he have gone number one overall? Maybe, this wasn’t the strongest year of the draft and it would depend on the team.
The industry doesn’t see him as too big a risk when you look at the success a number of clubs have had in drafting pitchers after Tommy John. The Padres would have loved to have taken him at #24 or #25 [first round supplemental picks] but he wasn’t going to be there.
The supplemental picks in the first round is where I got a little confused. In your last mock draft you had the Padres taking two rather big name picks in Jason Groome and Delvin Perez.
They were both gone by the time San Diego had their picks, but where you surprised when they took Hudson Sanchez and Eric Lauer?
Jim Callis: I had heard they may have had a deal in place with Groome if he had fallen to them but can’t say for sure; but yes, I was a little surprised. When they took Sanchez, I thought they were going to come back with an over-slot pick next, but they didn’t.
A couple of things; I like Sanchez. I saw quite a bit of him on the showcase circuit and he barrels the ball consistently, has good bat speed and will probably end up as a third baseman or at worst a corner outfielder. Depending on the team, I saw him as a third or possibly second round selection.
Lauer was picked where I thought he should be late first round. He’s another guy I like and could be the first pitcher in the draft to get to the majors. He led Division I with the lowest ERA since 1969 at 0.69.
Once the draft got into Day 2 and Day 3, the Padres’ draft started to make more sense to me seeing how they were drafting a lot of upside; places where they were going to spend money. In short, by taking Lauer at #25 - who should be around slot - they were saving their money to go over-slot later.
Lauer, by the descriptions sounds like someone who relies much more or a mix of pitches rather than his fastball to get people out. What do you think?
Jim Callis: I can see how long-time Padres’ fans could see this as another Wade LeBlanc or Robbie Erlin – and no offense to either one of those guys – but Lauer throws harder. He could probably throw even harder, but that could cost him some of his command.
Again, he has four really good pitches and he is throwing in the low 90s not in the 85 to 88 range. He’s a really athletic guy that should rise fast in the system.
There are some big questions on Buddy Reed’s ability to hit after batting .261 with Florida. What do you think?
Jim Callis: Coming into the year, after a really good run in last year’s College World Series playoffs, he had a chance to be the first position player drafted. If he had put better numbers with the Gators this season that might have happened. There are some reasons behind this, he was a multi-sport star in high school and just hasn’t played as much baseball as others, but he is also one of the best athletes in college baseball this year and will have no problem staying in center field.
There is a lot of work for the development guys to do with his swing and no I wouldn’t have liked this as a first round pick, but in the second round, absolutely.
Reggie Lawson and Mason Thompson were more of the types of players we thought the Padres would take. What can you tell us about them?
Jim Callis: Lawson is someone that came into the spring that was projected to go much higher than he did. He ran into some problems with his mechanics and suffered an injury to his oblique. He’s a big guy, athletic with a classic power arm and has shown better breaking stuff in the past. Again, another gamble that I like.
Mason Thompson is a fascinating guy that the team just signed.. He was really good with Team USA in 2013 as a sophomore and he would have easily have been a Top 10 overall pick in 2016 if he had not gotten hurt as a junior. He hasn’t pitched in two years except for a single inning in relief in his senior year.
He did throw bullpens and a number of scouts came away very impressed. He’s been clocked up to 97, and has shown a good change and curve in the past. Throw in the fact that he’s 6’7” and 185 pounds, so he’s going to fill out some more and add velocity. To get him to forego a scholarship to the University of Texas [which he was given as a freshman in high school]. The Padres knew it was going to take in the seven figures [Editor's Note - after the interview Jim reported Thompson signed for $1.75 million].
We were curious if the Padres would be able to spend all of their draft money, which picks after Round 4, do you see as possibilities for that?
Jim Callis: Joey Lucchesi, out of Southeast Missouri State University, is more than a senior sign for $5,000 [Editor's Note - Jim later reported he singed for $100,000]. He led all of Division I pitchers in strikeouts and has good size at 6’4”. Lake Bachar is another two-way athlete that can throw quality strikes and has a lot of untapped potential. I also like Boomer White of Texas A&M, one of the better hitters in the draft whom I thought would be taken in rounds four through six. If he can add some loft to his swing, he’s a guy to watch.
In the later rounds there is Trevyne Carter, a high school kid that is really an exceptional athlete. If they want him that is going to be have to be for more than a hundred thousand. Jack Suwinski is a high school bat that a lot of scouts like, but he is also going to take some money. Finally, A.J. Brown, who is considered one of the best prep wide receivers and is committed to Ole Miss the team, took in 19th round. In this case I think the best hope is if they could sign him to a contract for him to play in the summer while he plays football in the fall and hope to lure him away.
Who is the sleeper – after round 10?
Jim Callis: Jared Poche of LSU [14th round] a left-handed control specialist who should be effective and if he signs, Suwinski [an Indiana commit, 15th round].
Tomorrow Ben Davey interviews Jeff Ellis of Scout.com.