Padres prospect talk

Jim Callis of Baseball America dropped by recently to spread his wealth of knowledge on the San Diego Padres farm system. He talked about various Padre prospects, including Jon Knott, JJ Furmaniak, Dennis Tankersley, David Pauley and many more.

Denis Savage: What is your take on Jon Knott and his future as a Padre regular?

Jim Callis: He might be more of a backup. It will depend on the team. You are looking at a team that has Nevin, Giles, Klesko and Nady will be a factor in there somewhere.

He got off to a great start last year and kind of tailed off in the second half. Right now he has the best power in the system. He can draw some walks. Not a great athlete. He is good for his size, 6-3 220, and maybe can play right field.

Denis Savage: JJ Furmaniak - what's the Padres take on him? He's made the All Star team two of the four years he's been in the minors. I've seen him play a couple of times and he's (Kenny Williams of the White Sox would say) a grinder. Always plays hard and seems to be a fan favorite. Is there a future in the Big Leagues for him?

Jim Callis: I think with JJ, he had a very nice year last year. He had a couple of nice years and a couple that aren't so nice since they signed him. I think you are basically looking at a utility guy with him.

He is not a guy who is going to play everyday at the big league level – maybe he does – but I don't think on what you would call a contender – a Championship club – he wouldn't be a guy who played everyday.

Denis Savage: Darren Balsley has been working hard with Dennis Tankersley this offseason and it was one of the reasons the team decided not to trade him. Is there any hope that Balsley can help him turn around his career? Looking at his spring line before being sent down it would appear he at least has his confidence back.

Jim Callis: He has helped a lot of guys in the system. Tankersley's stuff has dipped the last couple of years. It is just a matter if he can get it back. Slider, good fastball and his stuff has tailed off.

I don't know if he can get that back.

Denis Savage: What is the ceiling of David Pauley, a pitcher you have rated very high in the Padres prospect list? How far away from the Majors is the youngster?

Jim Callis: Ceiling, realistically, is maybe a #3. He has got a solid-average, maybe a little bit of a plus, fastball. A real quick arm and he just needs to get stronger. He is a guy that has the ingredients but just needs to improve in all areas. He is probably two- two and a half years away from the Majors at least and he just needs to make progress with his curveball and changeup while learning to mix his pitches and develop a little bit more velocity and strength.

Denis Savage: In our last talk you mentioned the risk of taking Peter Stonard with a fourth round pick and called him a possible second round talent. Does his past off the field problems still haunt him today and what are your thoughts on him?

Jim Callis: I don't know if they hurt him. Everyone knows about the problems. He failed drug tests at Alabama for marijuana and wrote a letter – and I think what hurt him was himself – but he wrote every Major League team and basically said, ‘I made a mistake. I screwed up. This isn't going to happen again.' And he did it again.

When that happens you wonder how dedicated is this guy? All he had to do was stay clean for a spring and he would have been a pretty good draft pick. He couldn't even do that.

He had a lot on the line and still went in the fourth round. I don't think there will be a long-term problem with him.

In the back of my mind I wonder how bad does this guy want it if he can't discipline himself? How hard is he going to work in the Minors when he runs into adversity?

Denis Savage: Thanks to Jim Callis of Baseball America for sharing some insight into the Padres system. Stay tuned for more from Jim in the near future. If you have not done so, make sure you check out the 2004 Baseball America Prospect Handbook made available in February. You can order the Prospect handbook, which profiles the top 30 Padres, by going to

Denis Savage can be reached at

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