Chat with Baseball America's John Manuel
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Baseball America Archives: Chats
John Manuel (2:00 PM)
Sorry for the delay. We actually still do this little print product called a "magazine" and we're on deadline. But I'm almost done and I have plenty of help.
Hey Jim, Does Lou Montanez (O's AA) have any chance of making it? Thanks.
John Manuel (2:03 PM)
I'm working on our Eastern League best tools and Top 20 prospects, so I've talked to a lot of people lately on Montanez. It sounds like he can contribute as a 4th outfielder, or perhaps a starter on a second division team. His swing is short and he's locked in, leading the EL in triple crown categories by a wide margin. He's "only" 26, but he's finally tapping into some of the talent that made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2000. I might be more optimistic than I should be, but the managers and scout I've talked to in the EL are saying the bat is for real
Tano (Berkeley CA)
if the giants get strasburg like you predicted. how can anyone compete with there pitching staff for the next 10 years?
John Manuel (2:06 PM)
Maybe Jim predicted that; I don't see the Giants getting him, the Nats & Padres are worse teams. Him staying in San Diego would be a neat story but you have to wonder about the curse of Padres first-round picks lately . . . not a good one since, well, who knows? What Khalil Greene a good pick? I guess he qualifies . . . none since then though. If somehow Strasburg became a Giant, then no, they'd be hard to beat with him, Lincecum & Cain, and if Sanchez or Lowry come back around to give them a lefty complement. Ben Badler reports Strasburg was flat-out filthy the other day for Team USA in his last pre-Olympic tuneup.
What are your thoughts on the Mets two recent call ups Eddie Kunz and Dan Murphy?
John Manuel (2:12 PM)
I'm a big Murphy fan; I undersold him last year in the Prospect Handbook, when he was 15th in the Mets system. I got more info after he played in Hawaii Winter Baseball and found out more about his hitting ability, and he ranked 9th in the system when we updated the Mets' top 10 post-Santana trade. He can really hit, he's a grinder and he's got great makeup. Kunz elicits more mixed reviews; he led the EL in saves and got votes for Best Reliever but some other managers have him pegged as a 7th-inning type. He's got a chance to be the good version of Aaron Heilman, I think his ceiling is as a good setup man, not sure on him as a closer.
Dan Murphy has shown a nice approach at the plate in his two starts and his AA numbers are solid. What are your thoughts on him and can he be the answer at 2b (even though he's currently in LF)?
John Manuel (2:13 PM)
Real quick follow up here, most who have seen Murphy at 2b don't see him as a regular there, LF is a better fit. He's sufficient at 3b but obviously blocked there.
Todd Nizzle, SF
Who takes the #1 spot for the Giants as of right now, MBaum, lil'(big?) Timmy, or Buster? Do you have the 2 Dominican teens who just signed in their top 10?
John Manuel (2:15 PM)
Another Giants Q . . . tough one T-Nizzle; I think Bumgarner probably gets the nod for his size, projection, present stuff and being an LHP, but Buster is pretty dadgum good. I have always been an Alderson guy dating back to last year's draft, and I honestly thought he'd be in the big leagues this year if the Giants were in a pennant race; he has the stuff and command to relieve in the majors now. But Bumgarner's ceiling is pretty huge.
Hey John love your chats. I was wondering what your opinion was on Jason Donald and Lou Marson. Are these guys just really good minor league hitters who project as average major league players at best? Or can they be potential all stars down the road? Thanks
John Manuel (2:16 PM)
Thanks for the kind words. Donald and Marson are both top 10-15 prospects in the EL for sure. Donald's pretty solid at shortstop, not a gold glover or anything, but he doesn't have to move off short. I think he's going to be an average big leaguer, with Marson a tick above because he's sufficient defensively at C (fringy arm) and has a big league bat. He has the better chance to be an all-star because of his offensive upside.
any chance the twins have a bullpen arm they could call up? something has gotta change if they are gonna hang around the chisox.
John Manuel (2:20 PM)
Best bets to help, for me, are LHP Jose Mijares, just coming back from his offseason car wreck injuries but throwing well (one FSL manager told our JJ Cooper that "Mijares is back to being Mijares"); sleeper RHP Robert Delaney, who's been outstanding since jumping to Double-A; or long-shot Anthony Slama, an RHP who's just ripping up the Florida State League. I anticipate Mijares getting a shot when he's ready but reading the Twins on such matters is difficult, and I haven't talked to them about it. They certainly need help in the 7th and 8th innings and really miss Pat Neshek.
Luke (Des Moines)
Hi John, I'm wondering about the Twins' and the Rays' Top 10 prospects for after this season. How will the top of Minnesota's rankings look with Ben Revere, Shooter Hunt, and Aaron Hicks? Also, which of their prospects has shot up like Blackburn did last year? For Tampa Bay, obviously David Price at #1, then what order do Davis, Hellickson, McGee, and Beckham go in? Who else is in the mix? Cobb, Brignac, Jennings, Niemann, Barnese? Thanks.
John Manuel (2:25 PM)
Another Twins question . . . Revere & Hunt certainly will be near the top, but don't forget C Wilson Ramos. He ranked third on our list coming into the year, is Best Defensive C in the FSL and has 12 homers and a .764 OPS as a 20-year-old in the FSL this year. He's a front-line starting catcher prospect. Could be No. 1 or No. 2 for me, with Revere right there as well. Slama has established himself as for real this year (he ranked 28th entering the year) and LHP Jose Lugo is starting to pop up as an arm strength guy. Forthe Rays . . . McGee obviously falls some with his surgery, and Jennings takes a knock for missing the bulk of the year. Justin Ruggiano might be in their top 10, as would Reid Brignac, who can really defend. You left out Heath Rollins, who also is on the fringe of their top 10 and might rank ahead of Cobb, he's a really cerebral, athletic pitcher who gets the most out of average stuff.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
When do you think the Rockies will bring up Dexter Fowler? He looks like a stud with his .430 on base and speed.
John Manuel (2:26 PM)
He's not getting called up in August, as he's in Beijing with the U.S. Olympic team. Maybe after he gets back . . .
John, could you please compare Austin Jackson and Andrew McCutchen? Who is the better hitter for average, who is the better hitter for power and who is the better defender in CF? Thx!
John Manuel (2:28 PM)
Jackson's ceiling is a skoch higher but he's quite a bit less polished with the bat than McCutchen. Jackson has more contact ability, more raw power, probably a better defender as well, but he just has had less time as a primary baseball player. But for me, Jackson's the better prospect.
have you heard anyone say the marlins will the nl east?
John Manuel (2:30 PM)
Maybe Mike Berardino? It's just an odd formula in Florida right now and I know the respect people have for the toughness & grit of the Phillies. But I am coming around on Florida; how many home runs would the Marlins hit at Citizens Bank Park? I also love the boost the Marlins have gotten from Chris Volstad and a healthy Josh Johnson and could get from Anibal Sanchez. Still, that bullpen looks short, even after getting Arthur Rhodes. Ultimately that's why I think the Phils are the favorite.
Tim (Boston, Ma)
Jim, Richie Lentz is blistering Eastern League hitters.I know he is a little old for AA, but what is his ceiling?
John Manuel (2:32 PM)
Lentz is interesting, and he has big time bloodlines, a lot of brothers who preceded him at U-Dub and his dad Mike, the highest-drafted prep LHP ever (tied with Brien Taylor -- No. 2 overall pick in 1976). He's got a big arm but a long injury history, so as long as he's healthy, he's got a shot to help. My discussions with scouts in that part of the country almost always centered on his health issues; there was not confidence that he would remain healthy.
matt (sacramento, ca)
assuming the pirates sign alvarez, what are they going to do at 3rd base? they just traded for laroche, so that means one of them has to play 1st right? or does the acquisition of larcohe show theyre not too confident signing alvarez? thanks a lot john
John Manuel (2:34 PM)
Jim Callis addressed this a bit in Ask BA recently, and I agree with him that LaRoche is probably the 3B for now, with Alvarez ready for 1B if Laroche's brother gets too expensive. Andy LaRoche is athletic enough to move to an OF corner or even perhaps 2B if the Pirates have a 3B glut; Neil Walker also could be forced to move. It's a rare problem for the Pirates--too much talent. I don't think getting LaRoche from LA had anything to do with the Alvarez negotiations; the Dodgers didn't want him and he's major league-ready talent, so take him. That's low-hanging fruit.
John, You are forgeting the Mets in the NL East race, do you really think there bullpen woes take them out of the equation?
John Manuel (2:36 PM)
No, but their bullpen also is a problem. Any of those three teams would be a worthy winner and all three also are in the wild-card discussion; the Brewers are not a fait accompli there. I do think the Mets' problems seem pretty complicated, with rotation injuries and their corner OF issues. Do you have faith in Fernando Tatis, even after last night? I will say I really enjoyed my first trip to Shea this year, night of the Futures Game, Pelfrey dealt and Mets fans really WANT it . . . it was a lot of fun.
Brent (Dallas, TX)
I have a couple of things that are bothering me as a former Big 12 baseball player and a guy that loves & respects the game. First of all, why do people never mention Ron Washington's name when they speak of good stories and AL manager of the year. I don't like everything he does but he has had to use more rookies this year than any other team in baseball and they are 5 games back of the wild card. I also don't understand why people won't give the Rangers credit for what they have done this year. If you look at their probable pitchers every week you would think they have a bunch of pitchers named TBD. They play the game with heart and passion and they have fun doing it. This is what should be shown on TV it is what the game is about.
John Manuel (2:39 PM)
I don't see a lot of the Rangers to be honest, but from afar I really agree on Washington. I can't believe that team is five games out in the wild card; not likely to win it of course, but within hailing distance, that's amazing with that pitching staff and bullpen. Washington uses his young players well, he rarely seems to put them in situations they can't handle, and that's one reason why most of them have performed. Having a winning record with a team ERA+ of 81 is ridic.
John- What are your thoughts on Cubs minor league pitchers Donnie Veal and Mark Pawelek? Both have been hyped, then fallen on hard times...
John Manuel (2:41 PM)
Hyped? I am tired of that word . . . Pawelek was a first-round pick, consensus first-round talent. That's not hype; that's reality. Now he has been awful as a pro, never played a full year in a fulll-season league. Since he debuted, no one has written about him being so great, at least not here. Veal, sure, we've hyped him some, but then he was phenomenal in 2006 and signed for six figures. We've always written that his delivery was high-maintenance and could lead to breakdowns in command; that's what has happened. It's a shame because he's got a big arm. Not to be too defensive, but I honestly don't believe any hype for those two has come from us.
David Price or Clayton Kershaw?
John Manuel (2:42 PM)
Price for me.
John, Jeff Samardzija has looked good coming out of the pen so far, but where do you see him long term? If he is going to be a starter, how good can he be?
John Manuel (2:44 PM)
Hard to argue with what he's done as a reliever, and there have been some in the Cubs org who always saw him as a reliever anyway. This is not Joba, a 4-pitch guy who happened to go nuts with two pitches in a relief role. This is a guy with a really good fastball but average secondary stuff, and his feel for a change is nowhere near Joba either. I think a relief role will suit him long-term, football mentality, big arm, big sinker . . . reliever for me.
The legend of John Manuel is back!!!! What's the latest on Ryan Streiby? I know he was the Tigers 28th ranked prospect, but lately he's been en fuego! Are the scouts taking notice?
Drew (Boston MA)
What is a reasonable power ceiling for Josh reddick? Will we see him in the Sox' outfield after Jason Bay's contract runs up?
John Manuel (2:49 PM)
Aarrgh, I lost my Strieby answer . . . quick version of the answer is, legit power, not absurd, quickie comparison would be Ryan Shealy but he's a better hitter than Shealy. I like him as a solid-average regular. On Redick, he's got big-time tools and needs to find the balance between aggressiveness and being smart hitter. He's hitting his first adversity in Double-A; let's see how he reacts to it.
Coach Henderson - Lexington
Who from the Meyer, Ross, Burns, and Webb group actually attends classes at UK?
John Manuel (2:53 PM)
I'll say several . . . all are strong possibilities. I hear Andy Burns has been wooed very strongly by his hometown Rockies, and that's tough to resist. With Meyer, it sounds like even if he's been offered $2 million, he could be much more 3 years from now if things work out. I'll pick all three pitchers showing up, and Burns signing, but that's just an educated guess.
Bo (Honlulu, HI)
John, What's your take on all the young A's pitchers and what are their ceilings, both in the majors and minors? Could we expect to have some sort of Big 3 again in 3 years or so?
John Manuel (2:56 PM)
Definitely could. Love Cahill and Anderson, and Cahill has a lot in common with Hudson with perhaps a bit less sink but a better breaking ball. Anderson comps to Zito there (peak Zito) because of the feel but has a better fastball (and of course less curve). Not sure who the workhorse, athletic LHP is to take Mulder's spot, but Gio Gonzalez (congrats on the callup Gio) could certainly be the No. 4 starter behind those two with Sean Gallagher still toward the front of a future rotation. Henry Rodriguez can be the Billy Koch 2002 reliever, and Brad Ziegler will remain the best story this side of changing positions or coming back from drug addiction. War Brad Ziegler.
John Manuel (2:56 PM)
quick break for lunch/editing . . .
John Manuel (3:07 PM)
. . . and we're back
Harvey Two Face
Heads you answer my question...Tails you don't. Will Jesus Montero and Angel Villaloma be top 25 prospects in next year's BA Top 100?
John Manuel (3:08 PM)
Not likely, more like 26-50 range, lots of projection left and defensive questions as well.
glenn (Morris Plains, NJ)
In the (as of now) final Baseball Tourney who has the inside track to the gold and where do you think Davey Johnson brings the US?
John Manuel (3:12 PM)
My picks are Japan gold, U.S. silver, Cuba bronze. If someone else medals, I'll be floored, no offense to Taiwan or Korea. Canada's pitching looks pretty short. The U.S. doesn't seem to match up well with Japan's RHPs or Cuba with Norge Vera, Odelin and Pedro Lazo, because Team USA is really righthanded. That is the biggest concern I have for the American team; defense up the middle should be good and I think they took smart 4-A guys. Davey Johnson really knows the international game and if they get a gold, he deserves a lot of credit. Japan has the tournament's best player in Yu Darvish, less of a time difference, less travel . . . Japan should be the favorite.
glenn (Morris Plains, NJ)
Do you think Harvey Schiller and co will be successful in getting the IOC to Re-Instate baseball sooner than later? And do you think that Baseball is being used as a scapegoat for Doping by the IOC?
John Manuel (3:14 PM)
Actually, I'm not terribly optimistic on baseball getting back into a European-dominated docket, the IOC is a European business and it's hard to see baseball fitting in there. Maybe if China or Netherlands makes some noise in the Olympic tournament and the game looks more competitive at the global level. Baseball's doping issues are pretty small compared to, say, track, or cycling.
With Price dominant in his last few outings, should be expect him in Durham after his start tomorrow or is he going up straight from AA?
John Manuel (3:15 PM)
Wish we'd see him here in Durham, and I know there's lobbying going on for that to happen, but if you're going to call him up, why not take him to Tampa to help the bullpen?
How would you classify Mike Moustakous' season. How impressive are his HR numbers given the league and his age?
John Manuel (3:17 PM)
I'm impressed all the way around. Tough league for hitters, he's gotten better as the year has gone on. OPA!
glenn (Morris Plains, NJ)
Do the Dodgers know WHO exactly they are...are they a young team of budding stars (Kemp, Ethier, Martin, Billingsley) or an isle of misfit older players (Manny, Kent, Normar, A. Jones, Pierre) and can they be both (the record says no) and which way is the better way to go (to win now of course given Torre and their high attendance)
John Manuel (3:19 PM)
NO, they don't. NOt impressed with the Colletti tenure right now. Sad to see how tumultuous that org has been since the O'Malleys sold it to Fox; McCourt has not stopped the tumult by any means. Still think they can win the West carried by Manny and Kent and some of their young guys, but hopefully they commit fully to their young stars (Loney, Billingsley and of course Martin) in the offseason. Kemp has talent but I'm not sure he's going to be the star those others can be or, in Martin's case, already are.
Mark Melancon has been lights out this year at 3 different levels. Is he the Yankees closer after Rivera? What kind of stuff does he have?
John Manuel (3:20 PM)
Been a big Melancon fan for several years; big-time power breaking ball, average to plus fastball, big brass stones as well. If he throws consistent strikes then he's a closer.
Mike (Richmond, VA)
In his first full season on the job, how do you see Andy McPhail's rebuilding project in Baltimore going?
John Manuel (3:21 PM)
Very well. MLB team is better and younger, and the farm system is much improved. People are impressed with the Bowie roster, help on the way. O's will compete before the Nats do.
Noticed you failed to mention James Simmons when speaking about the A's. I have heard comparisons to Joe Blanton, any thoughts?
John Manuel (3:22 PM)
Thanks for catching that, knew I was leaving someone out. I love guys with fastball command (see Blackburn, Nick) but he doesn't have plus velo like Blackburn. He does have a potentially plus change, but to thrive as a RHP without a big-time breaking ball, you've got to have premium FB command and it helps to have plus velo there too. Not sure that Simmons is more than a No. 4.
Red (HB CA)
Mark Trumbo...the real deal or product of the Cal League?
John Manuel (3:24 PM)
I've always been down on Trumbo and he's proving me wrong; always nice to be humbled. I think he's the real deal, it's really big power, selectivity will be the key for him.
Hi -- First time chatter. Tell me, does M. Saunders have a shot at the big leagues next year? Thanks.
John Manuel (3:24 PM)
Yes, we're big fans here. He was clearly Canada's top player on that Olympic team, though Nick Weglarz also impressed.
Dave (San Diego)
A follow up to the Strasburg question: do you blame the Padres (lack of due diligence) for the rash of injuries to their recent 1st rounders, or is it just plain dumb luck?
John Manuel (3:26 PM)
Both. Having such bad first-round picks EVERY YEAR since 2003 is not an accident. Tim Stauffer, Matt Bush, Cesar Carrillo (at least on his way back from TJ) and then '07 Nick Schmidt . . . you hate to go scoreboard but there has to be a problem with the Padres' process for having repeat problems, it seems.
Kyle (Fort Lauderdale)
Better Marlins prospect Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton?
John Manuel (3:27 PM)
Stanton b/c of the power and all-around athleticism but Morrison can REALLY hit. Marlins have had a great year on the farm.
John Manuel (3:27 PM)
on that note, I'm out . . thanks for the chat.