Giants Prospect Q&A with Jim Callis of Baseball America

Jim Callis, Executive Editor of Baseball America, was kind enough to answer several Giants prospect questions. Check out his responses below, and if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow Jim at @jimcallisBA.

How much has Tommy Joseph’s defense improved? Is this no longer a concern with Joseph, or does he still have a ways to go?

We keep hearing from every scout we talk to who saw him how much he has improved behind the plate. He still has work to do, but he got into better shape, and the extra strength and agility really helped, particularly with his blocking and footwork. A quicker transfer would help his throwing.

Any insight into why Gary Brown gets hit by pitches so frequently? And do you think this is a repeatable skill – i.e. do you think he’ll continue to reach base via the HBP at higher levels? I believe I’ve heard that CSU Fullerton encourages hitters to draw HBPs.

Fullerton’s players are baseball magnets, and Brown is not the first Titan with that in his repertoire. I do think it is repeatable to some extent. Big league pitchers have better control, but they’re still going to pitch him inside and he can turn into some HBPs.

Were you surprised that Joshua Osich fell to the sixth round? Are the injury concerns that serious?

I was not, because he had more elbow and back issues right before the draft, and his medical history wasn’t the cleanest to begin with. Also, he wasn’t just going to sign for a slot bonus wherever he went. He passed his physical, but the Giants are going to bring him along slowly and his health will always be a concern. If he can stay on the mound, he’s a steal as a sixth-rounder.

On a similar note, was it surprising that Andrew Susac dropped as low as he did?

No, because draft-eligible sophomores have extra negotiating leverage and often go lower than they should. I thought Susac was a late first-round talent, but the hamate injury made it tough to see him this spring and the extra leverage made teams a little more skittish.

Eric Surkamp was awful in the majors this year. It’s only six starts we’re talking about, but do you think this at all indicates that his stuff doesn’t play in the majors?

No, the sample size is way too small. Additionally, a lot of guys try to do to much when they first get to the majors and that winds up being a disaster, especially if a finesse pitcher like Surkamp tries to overthrow or be too fine with his pitches. I think the latter was the case with Surkamp, who got off to a decent start in San Francisco before losing his command. He needs the command, because his stuff doesn’t give him much margin for error. He’s not going to be an ace, but I think he can be a useful No. 3 or 4 starter.

What are the chances that Joe Panik can stick at shortstop?

I think a solid chance. He’s not the flashy defender with a cannon arm that scouts dream about, but his tools play up. He enhances his average range with uncanny positioning, and he boosts an average arm with tremendous accuracy.

Rafael Rodriguez was ranked as the Giants’ 11th best prospect by BA entering the season, but really struggled at Augusta (.236/.284/.297). He’s still very young, so I assume he’s still got a lot of upside, but how much does this poor season hurt his stock?

He’s still just 19 and the tools are still there, but the swing is very raw. The numbers weren’t good, but the good news is that he didn’t strike out excessively and seems to have a grasp of the strike zone. He’s just going to need a lot of time to develop.

Better catching prospect: Hector Sanchez or Tommy Joseph?

Joseph is the better prospect, but Sanchez is the better defender. Joseph profiles as a regular while Sanchez is more of a backup at the big league level.

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