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They Might Be Mariners, Ep. 8: Jim Callis talks the MLB draft and the Mariners farm

Piles of insight from MLB.com’s Jim Callis

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Mark Kotsay #7
If you’re a big fan of this guy, I’ve got good news for you

If you missed last week’s installment of TMBM, John and Joe spoke with MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo, and we strongly recommend you give that a listen if you haven’t yet. This week, Kate and Joe speak with another of MLB Pipeline’s draft experts, Jim Callis. Both of these gentlemen were nice enough to spend time talking with us in promoting the freshly-released MLB.com Top 150 draft prospects, so go ahead and check that out if you haven’t already.

0-3:50: Introductions and general MLB draft insights. Jim gives us a window into his process in helping to create the MLB.com Top 150 draft list and discusses how that list will be shaped differently this year compared to other years.

3:50 - 10:00: Joe asks Jim about how this draft stacks up against previous years. With the strength of the college class established, Kate asks about how the prep class compares to previous years. Jim gives his opinions on which players lose out the most in a shortened draft, and also inadvertently demonstrates his Extremely Baseball ringtone.

10:00 - 13:30: Joe posits the argument that a shortened draft might help senior signs; Jim suggests that college juniors might be the most financially squeezed, especially if the draft is five rather than ten rounds.

13:30 - 17:00: Since this is LL and we are all about “my guy,” Joe asks Jim about who “his guy” is who might fall just outside the first round. Jim likes Tanner Witt in Texas, a prototypical Big Texas Boy who doesn’t have quite the velocity of fellow Texan Jared Kelley but has a pretty impressive arsenal himself:

This evolves into a discussion about signability concerns playing a role in this draft, although Jim assures us the prep players will still get paid—just fewer of them, and for less.

17:00 - 22:00: With teams having fewer bites at the apple in this draft, Kate asks if teams that already have a scouting edge might increase their competitive advantage this year. Jim points out that analytics-dependent teams might actually find themselves at a disadvantage, since they will have less data to work with from this season, making boots-on-the-ground scouting done previously even more important. However, Jim pulls out a particularly grim crystal ball and predicts that the Cape Cod League will be canceled (something that would come to fruition just days after this podcast was recorded), and points out that that means this year’s Nick Gonzales isn’t getting his chance to increase his prospect stock, which is an unfortunate microcosm of all the players missing out on opportunities this year, Go away already, COVID-19.

22:00 - 30:00: MLB draft talk time! The top 5 selections in the draft seem to be pretty locked in, in whatever order (Torkelson, Martin, Hancock, Lacy, Gonzales), but things start to open up at #6, which happens to be where the Mariners pick. What will the Mariners do? But more importantly, what would Jim Callis do? (WWJCD?) Jim is a big fan of UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell, and by the end of this conversation, so is Kate, who leaves the conversation feeling pretty sold on Mitchell, although Joe still worries about the power tool. Other alternates are discussed, including Reid Detmers and Max Meyer (and briefly Zac Veen, although with apologies to John he is dismissed fairly quickly for the prep-averse Mariners). Jim also reminds us multiple times that despite his name, he is not a doctor.

30:00 - 34:00: On to the Mariners system! Joe asks Jim for his thought on Noelvi Marte, and Jim notes the upside while bemoaning the likely-lost opportunity to watch Marte in the field this season. He does note that if there was an updated Top 100 list, Marte would have an extremely high chance of getting onto that list this year, but unfortunately, if there is no minors system, any changes to the list will be minor.

34:00 - 43:00: As is legally required, the Julio vs. Jarred debate! Trick question, there’s no debate, they’re both excellent, although Kate accidentally insults either Julio or Jarred, depending on whoever gets stuck being vanilla ice cream. Jim relates a Very Jarred anecdote from the fall league, and also unleashes one of the most interesting Kelenic comps I’ve heard yet:

sign me right on up for this

43:00 - 46:00: Joe asks Jim about Logan Gilbert and how he made it to pick 14 for the Mariners, and whether or not that factors into why he might not be as highly regarded as he could be as a prospect. Jim points out that the Mariners coveted both Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert in the 2018 draft, and somehow walked away with both. Not a bad haul.

46:00-50:00: Joe asks Jim for his next breakthrough Mariner prospect. Jim likes Big BWilly, Brandon Williamson, but has also been watching local kid Sam Carlson with interest since he was in high school (when you’re in the Midwest, Minnesota counts as “local” to Illinois). Jim also sends some love to Spinball Wizard Sam Delaplane and fellow Georgia grad Tim Elliott.

50:00 - 57:00: Will Cal Raleigh outdo the reigning King of Mariner Catcher WAR? Kate, as an unabashed Cal Raleigh stan, attempts to sit out the conversation before barging in noisily. How about Logan Gilbert’s chances at making the Mount Rushmore of Mariners pitchers?

57:00 - end: Joe asks Jim: sink or swim for Kyle Lewis this year, or should he spend more time in the minors? Jim reminds us Kyle Lewis would have been his first overall pick the year the Mariners “stole” him at 11, and also that Arkansas is a terrible, horrible, no good place to hit, and also that Kyle Lewis having a full, healthy season is in itself a gift.

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Music: The Outfield, “Your Love,” a song Kate has agreed to momentarily suspend her hatred of

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