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Post-Draft Interview with Jim Callis

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In which positive things are said by a really smart observer. So be happy!

Jim Callis is on a very short list of people whose work has helped make prospect watching a cottage industry around the internet. He began working with Baseball America in 1988, following a college internship with the magazine, and over the course of 23 years with the organization Jim rose to become BA's Executive Editor and played a significant role in developing signature publications like the Prospect Handbook. He's also worked as a Draft and Prospect Expert on ESPN and on MLB Network. He now works for MLB as a prospect expert on the MLBPipeline website.

It's de rigueur when talking about Jim and drafts that you have to mention his legendary 2005 mock but it's equally important to mention how generous he is with his time and knowledge. Which leads us to this interview! Thanks so much to Jim for taking the time with us to talk a little bit about the Giants 2015 draft.

MCC: Phil Bickford was something of a polarizing pick at #1, another in the honored and wonderful tradition of the Giants' "spit-take" picks. What are your thoughts on Bickford's strengths and weaknesses?

JC: In regard to the "spit-take" comment, one of the things that makes the Giants the Giants is that they don't care what anyone thinks about their drafts. Bickford had one of the better arms available, capable of reaching the upper 90s with his fastball and backing it up with a hard slider. There are scouts who think he's a reliever in the long run, but the Giants are obviously good at developing pitchers and I like their chances of keeping him a starter.

MCC: With their more advanced college picks, the Giants traditional approach has been to spend the first summer in Salem Keizer, and then hop to the Cal League for the first full season. Would you guess all 3 of the Day 1 picks are likely on this trajectory?

JC: Yeah, I could see that. Bickford is younger and less advanced than Chris Shaw or Andrew Suarez, so maybe they could be a little more conservative with him.

MCC: In terms of raw power, where do you think Shaw ranks in this draft class? In terms of bat first guys, how does he compare to, say, D.J. Stewart?

JC: Shaw had as much raw and usable power as just about anyone in this draft, especially on the college side. The difference between him and Stewart is that Stewart can stick on an outfield corner and is a better pure hitter, but Shaw will produce a lot more power.

MCC. Andrew Suarez has had a checkered medical history. How did his stuff look this year? If healthy, what kind of pitcher do you see him becoming?

JC: Suarez has an average fastball and solid secondary pitches. He's a lefty, so you could give him a ceiling of a No. 3 starter, but he's more likely a No. 4 or 5.

MCC. I have to say, I really liked the Giants' second day. It just seemed like they got a lot of value in every round. What's your assessment of this day overall?

JC: That's very fair. The Giants generally don't blow most of their bonus pool on their early picks because they like to be able to take legit guys in each or most of the top 10 rounds. I like Jalen Miller (third round), Mac Marshall (fourth) and Steven Duggar (sixth) a lot in the rounds they got them

MCC. Jalen Miller stands out in this draft as a HS position player. What kind of development path do you think makes most sense for him and what kind of player might we anticipate him developing into.

JC: I got Brandon Phillips comps on Miller and there are a lot of parallels. He's a high school kid, so I suspect he'll spend 2016 in low Class A and move a level at a time.

MCC. Mac Marshall is probably best known, unfortunately, for getting caught up in the Brady Aiken mess last year. How was he throwing this year and what kind of upside do you see for him?

JC: Marshall looked pretty much like he did in high school, a lefty with three solid pitches. If he can stay healthy, which has been an issue he could be a No. 3 starter.

MCC. The three college position players (Jabavy, Duggar, Vizcaino) in the middle of the day all seem to offer some intriguing tools. Who do you like out of this group?

JC: Duggar had one of the best all-around toolsets in the college game, though he didn't get the most out of it at Clemson. He's a well-above average runner who could be a center fielder with average power, though he was a right fielder at Clemson and didn't drive the ball consistently.

MCC: The Giants have had good success lately drafting kids with strong tools whose college careers underwhelmed in some way. Mac Williamson and Hunter Cole for instance, and maybe you could even put The Brandons Belt and Crawford in that category. Do you think Duggars compares to that group?

JC: Duggar could well be a nice later-round pick but I don't think it's a great parallel. Most of those other guys had more success in college, while scouts were trying to figure out why Duggar couldn't live up to his considerable tools.

MCC. One of your industry colleagues mentioned Vizcaino as potentially "closest to the majors" for all the 7th round picks. Understanding that "closest to the majors" for 7th rounders is a pretty relative notion, that would suggest a fairly advanced bat there (since he's not really known for his impact glove)?

JC: Yeah, though I wouldn't say that his bat is so advanced that he's the Giants draftee closest to the majors. For me, that would be Bickford or Suarez.

MCC. They ended the second day with a Giants' staple: a trio of hard throwing RHP.  I really like all three of these guys as Giants' projects. Do any of them have a chance to start in the long run do you think (a la Chase Johnson)?

JC: I also like Cory Taylor, David Graybill and Tyler Cyr where the Giants got them, but they may all be relievers when all is said and done.

MCC: What's your overall assessment of what the Giants got done in this draft, assuming a decent spread of signage?

JC: It looks pretty good to me.  They got four of the top 75 players on our MLBPipeline.com Top 200 with their first four picks, and as I mentioned, Marshall and Duggar could pay off nicely for where they were taken. I don't see an obvious post-10th-round talent, because I'm assuming Brendon Little went in the 36th round because he's not going to be signable.

Thanks again to Jim Callis for taking the time to stop by and drop some of his considerable knowledge for us, and thanks for all your great work and prospect coverage throughout the year Jim!

Enjoy your new someday Giants, everybody (assuming everybody gets signed)!