Talking Matt Harvey and Barret Loux with Jim Callis of Baseball America

Jim Callis, Executive Editor at Baseball America, was nice enough to join MetsZilla.com for a quick Q&A.  Baseball America is the premier resource for all things ‘prospect’ related, so when we had some questions about a couple of the more intriguing young arms to come out of this year’s draft class, we knew exactly where to go.

APPhoto

MetsZilla-

As John Manuel of Baseball America reported on August 17, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the commissioner’s office reached an agreement whereby the #6 overall pick, Barret Loux , will become a free agent on Sept. 1st.  What are your thoughts on the former Texas A & M pitcher, considering how things have developed since he failed his physical with the D-Backs?

Jim Callis-

I applaud MLB for doing what was fair with Loux. He failed the physical, but it was a matter of concern over wear and tear and how long he might hold up, rather than an injury that would prevent him from pitching now. Though he has had shoulder and elbow issues in the past, he was healthy and had a strong spring at Texas A&M. It’s certainly within the Diamondbacks’ rights for them to walk away and take a compensation pick last year, but Loux was left in a tough spot. (Incidentally, the same thing happened with Yankees second-round pick Scott Bittle in 2008, without much fanfare.) I like Loux, though he was clearly overdrafted to enable the Diamondbacks to sign him to a slightly below-slot deal. We had him rated as more of a late first-rounder or an early sandwich pick. He has a quality fastball but lacks a standout second pitch, which dings his stock a little.

MetsZilla-

You recently posted a great article chronicling the ‘spending vs. slots‘ for each mlb team’s 2010 draft. The Mets, as they typically do, did not invest much into the draft. Given the low # of picks signed (9) and money spent ($3,857,700) this year, do you think they are candidates to make a run at signing Loux? How do you feel the market will develop for him in this unprecedented situation?

Jim Callis-

It’s not apparent which teams are going to make a run at Loux yet. The Mets don’t take advantage of their financial might nearly as much as they can in the draft, so if I had to guess, I’d think they wouldn’t go after him. I’d expect he’d get a deal in the $750,000 range or so, though again, that’s guesswork. He reportedly would have signed with the Diamondbacks for $2 million had he not failed the physical.

MetsZilla-

How does his style compare to someone like Matt Harvey, who the Mets went with at #7?

Jim Callis-

Harvey was inconsistent in his first two years at North Carolina before putting together a strong junior season. Though Loux went one pick before him, we had Harvey rated as a clearly better prospect. He throws 1-2 mph faster than Loux, and his slider is a significantly better breaking ball than Loux’ curveball. Harvey’s command is less reliable than Loux, but I prefer his upside and would hope he could develop consistency.

MetsZilla-

What was your overall opinion of Harvey going into the draft and how would you rate the Mets 2010 class as a whole?

Jim Callis-

Personally, I would have taken Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox at No. 7, but Harvey was a legitimate pick. He had as much upside as any college righty starter, and he really came on this spring. Nothing wrong with that choice. As for the rest of the draft, I thought the Mets as usual were more conservative than they should have been. I like some of their picks–Blake Forsythe (third round), Cory Vaughn (fourth) and Matt den Dekker (fifth) were all decent values where they got them–but I continue to be baffled that they don’t spend more money and get more aggressive with the draft.

*Thanks again to Jim for his contribution and be sure to follow him on Twitter to keep up with all the Baseball America action.  Loux will officially be a free agent this Wednesday and it will be interesting to see which teams come knocking. The Houston Astros have made their interest in the right hander known and recently the White Sox have been linked to his name.  I haven’t read anything about the Mets being potential suitors and as Jim Callis points out above, such a move would be somewhat of a surprise given the team’s usual conservative approach to the draft.

With that being said, given the current state of the organization and the contributions they have gotten from their young players this season, I’m hopeful this is an idea that the front office will at least toss around.  New York loves to pile up on pitchers in the draft and I think most analysts outside of Arizona agree that, when it comes to Loux, the risk could be well worth the reward.  This isn’t the kind of move that will pay dividends right away but adding to what has proven to be a very fruitful farm system  is never a bad idea…..just ask any Tampa Bay Rays fan.

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  • Bkg12345

    Hmm – the first round pick was a “legitimate pick” and has “as much upside as any college righty starter”. He also “likes” the Mets’ third, fourth and fifth round picks. Yet, he continues “to be baffled that they don’t spend more money and get more aggressive with the draft”. I am confused. What exactly should they have done differently (other than picking Cox at #7, which is a personal preference but admitedly not the only legitimate pick).

  • Anonymous

    I believe what Jim means by stating he continues “to be baffled that they don’t spend more money and get more aggressive with the draft” is that the Mets NEVER spend over slot on draft picks. So while they should be accumulating more 1st round type players (because they are a ‘big market’ team) they are left taking value picks which is why I believe Callis said he “likes” NY 3rd, 4th, and 5th round picks.

    There are some organizations that consistently spend over slot in the draft: Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and even the Phillies come to mind. These teams are routinely a top of their division standings, while still being able to stock pile on elite-level talent in their respective farm systems.

    That elite-level talent allowed the Phillies to trade for R.Halladay, C.Lee, and R.Oswalt in less than 1 calendar year.

    While these teams are drafting over the MLB ‘recommended’ slotting prices the Mets continually stay within the recommended slotting prices, and in turn, they have a farm system ranked in the middle to bottom of the league.

    For a great article written about draft slotting, click here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/draft/early-draft-preview/2008/265576.html

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