Jim Callis on Padres' 2009 Draft

Jim Callis is the senior editor of Baseball America and one of the foremost authorities on the MLB draft. His column appears in the both the print and on-line version, and he also hosts regular chats on ESPN.com. We caught up with Jim to get his reactions to the San Diego Padres draft.

What were your overall impressions of the Padres' draft, especially when compared to what they have done in years' past?

Jim Callis: It was surprising. To us, the really big news came when we were doing our pre-draft preparation and found that they were really high on Donovan Tate. It's just the opposite from what they usually do, a huge raw ceiling player of high school, which is the opposite of what they have done in the past.

To me, I like the way they went about this draft because when you limit yourself to a specific demographic, whether it is purely college or high school, you end up eliminating quite a bit of talent. To me, the Padres were taking whom they believed were the most talented players available.

Did you think the change from Sandy Alderson to Jeff Moorad at the top changed the way they drafted?

Jim Callis: I do think he had an influence, possibly in letting the guys doing the draft understand that they shouldn't be afraid to draft players that could be difficult signs. Do I think Jeff Moorad went in a room and pounded his fist on a desk and said, "Take more high school guys?" No, but I do think he provided the guys with more money up and down the line to take more talented players.

You, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein and ESPN.com's Keith Law are the three main people who write about the draft but were somewhat split on Donovan Tate. What do you see that caused you to be both excited and have some reservations?

Jim Callis: On the excitement side, he was flat out the best athlete in the draft. He can do some things on the diamond just a lot of players can't and never will be able to do. When we make our projections/rankings, it is based on a consensus of reporting from as many sources as we can: teams, scouts, college coaches and recruiters. I think what came out was as talented as he is athletically, some thought that his bat is still a bit raw. A few even claimed that he was a better hitter as a sophomore than as a senior. To me, I think he has spent so much time with football he hasn't gotten the same number of at-bats you would see as a similar player at that level who was only playing baseball.

I've seen him at a few showcases and while yes I can see some of the concern, it's not at the same level of Anthony Hewitt, who the Phillies took last year in the first round. But its also going to take some time, I don't see him as someone who is going to shoot through the system either.

Two other high school picks in the first four, outfielder Everett Williams and pitcher Keyvius Sampson. What can you tell us about them and do you think they will be hard to sign?

Jim Callis: Its hard to say with the signability issue. With Williams, I was a little surprised to how low he slipped in the draft, most of us thought he would go much higher. From what I understand, he is going to want first round money, my guess is probably somewhere around a million. He has NFL bloodlines, tremendous athlete, not a Tate Donovan athlete, but no one in the draft was either, and right now was thought to be the most polished guy at the plate of all the high school athletes. He hit with wood, hit with power and really showed up in all the showcases. The knock on him is that he allegedly sometimes plays on cruise control, but he is a tremendous value for where he ended up in the draft. Its not my money, but I would pay him.

Sampson is a tremendous arm, has touched 95 and is athletic as any pitcher in the draft. He needs a more consistent arm slot and his secondary pitches could be better, but he is a talent. Still to slip so far down you have to wonder somewhat about signabliity issues.

Same question for the two more traditional colleges selections, Jerry Sullivan out of Oral Roberts University and Miami catcher/first baseman Jason Hagerty.

Jim Callis: I think Sullivan has a lot of upside. For Baseball America, I had Oklahoma, and quite a few scouts thought he was pretty good, actually much better than Sullivan believes he is. He's 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, throws downhill, above average change, decent breaking ball and did well in the Cape Cod League. With Hagerty, it boils down to whether or not you believe he can play catcher. I don't and see him more as a first base type. Others saw him closer to a 10th round pick than where he went in the fifth round.

A late round pick who seems kind of intriguing is Miles Mikotas out of Nova Southeastern, a 6-foot-5 right-hander. What can you tell us about him?

Jim Callis: At one point he was on our top 200 prospects list. He's a big guy, 6-foot-5, 215-pounds with some arm strength and an above average fastball. Fringy secondary pitches and is really much more of a raw college pitcher; could be an interesting guy.

Was their any pick the Padres made in the early rounds that you didn't like?

Jim Callis: There really weren't any picks that I disliked. The most important are the first three or four, and when you select, Tate, Williams, Sullivan and Sampson in the first four that is a pretty good draft.

Could they have picked someone other than Hagerty in the fifth? Maybe, but you know its really hard to say. I like the pick of Needy in the sixth and especially Fetter in the ninth. He's a really interesting pick, big guy who has changed his arm slot and has an opportunity to really give the team some value down the road.

On a side note, this has to be one of the tallest drafts that I have ever seen with Needy, Fetter and first baseman Nate Freiman, just some really big guys, all 6-foot-6 or better.

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