An interview with Baseball America’s Jim Callis

He is one of the best evaluators of baseball talent, especially in the minors, in the country in my humble opinion.

Today at the winter meetings here in Florida, I had a chance to once again interview Jim Callis of Baseball America. I got his take on a few O’s related topics.

Callis on the Mark Reynolds trade:
“I think it’s a great trade from the Orioles’ perspective. Yeah, Mark Reynolds strikes out and is not going to hit for high average, but he hits home runs. I think that shores up third base for the future. Josh Bell got a chance last year. Good prospect, questionable defense and now they don’t have to worry about what Josh Bell will become, they their third baseman for a while.

“To be honest, I don’t think they are going to miss the two guys they gave up that much. Mickolio and Hernandez have both been in the big leagues. Mickolio has never claimed a full-time role.

“David Hernandez, he could be a useful spare part on a pitching staff, but I don’t see him as a regular rotation member on a good team. He is more that middle reliever, not even like a setup guy, more that 6th or 7th inning guy and they are fairly disposable.

“To be blunt it was a financially-motivated trade. The Diamondbacks are trying to save money and are trying to cut costs. When you make a financially motivated trade, you aren’t necessarily going to get equal talent in return.”

In October, I interviewed Callis and he talked about O’s minor league player of the year, Joe Mahoney. He got some O’s fans stirred up when he said Mahoney “is not a blue chip” prospect. Today he talked further on this topic.

Callis on first base prospect Joe Mahoney:
“He had a nice year this year. But I use this line all the time. I think prospects are like kids. If you are a fan, you like your prospects more than anybody else does. We hear that from fans of all 30 teams.

“Mahoney had a nice year, but I don’t think he is all that much different from a Tyler Townsend or a Brandon Waring. Those guys have comparable value.

“Depending on what happens in the Rule 5 draft, if the Orioles lose Ryan Adams or Wynn Pelzer, Joe Mahoney will probably go into our top ten in the prospect handbook because right now he is number 11. Mahoney boosted his stock (this year). He’s a prospect, just not an elite, top 100, can’t miss kind of guy.”

Here is Callis’ take on the O’s farm system as a whole overall:
“Right now they are a little bit thin. They probably fit somewhere in the bottom third of minor league systems. I caution people that this is just a snapshot in time.

“They are an organization that has graduated an awful lot of guys to the big leagues. They haven’t been successful at the big leagues, so a lot of time they are getting guys to the big leagues quicker in that situation.

“I really like Manny Machado and Zach Britton and there are not too many teams that have a one-two punch like that at the top of their system. But they don’t have a whole lot of depth with elite prospects. They don’t have the depth right now that they did a couple of years ago.”

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