Chat with Baseball America's John Manuel
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Baseball America Archives: Chats
John Manuel (2:04 PM)
Thanks for coming out everyone. Sorry for the slight delay, answers coming in a sec.
Hey Jim, had Pablo Sandoval not exasperated his prospect status in 08, where do you think he would land in the top 100? Is he the real deal in your opinion?
John Manuel (2:08 PM)
Just replied to some Pablo Sandoval questions in a comment at BA.com's Prospects Blog. I did our Giants lists a few years back; it used to be wonderful waiting to see how Dick Tidrow wouldn't answer questions. Anyway, the last two years I did the list, Sandoval moved up from No. 27 to No. 15, and he hadn't played full-season ball. He seemed to lose prospect steam when he moved off catcher, but now he hits so much it doesn't matter if he's a catcher or first baseman. He's had a huge winter league season in Venezuela, capping an amazing year. For me, he'd a top 50 prospect, probably would have fallen in the 40-50 range for me. He's unconventional enough to have flown under the radar a bit, and also unconventional enough that I have a shred or two of doubt about him. No scout I've talked to thinks he'll defend well enough to be an everyday starter as a catcher, despite what his minor league numbers say. But I think he'll hit quite well enough to be a regular at first base.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
How different do you think the Baseball Hall of Fame would be if their process was the same as the Football Hall of Fame?
John Manuel (2:12 PM)
It would three times as large, wouldn't it? I'm honestly not familiar enough with the NFL HOF process. As an outsider, if seems as if you play 10 years in the NFL, it seems like you get in just for surviving that long.
Ben (Centerville, OH)
With Neftali Soto and Juan Francisco both at 3B, and a vaccuum for the Reds at 2B in AA with Justin Turner going to Balitmore in the Ramon Hernandez trade, could you envision Todd Frazier sliding over to 2B and taking over for Brandon Phillips at some point (Phillips to SS, or trade?) with the log jam at 3B and LF that seems on the horizon?
John Manuel (2:16 PM)
Sorry, delayed by an NFL Hall of Fame debate with BA's NFL expert, J.J. Cooper. Anyway, he's also our Reds expert; I'm sure Ben has emailed him. I don't think most teams worry to much about who's going to play 2b, frankly, and that's especially true when they have a good, young player there in Phillips. Also, you didn't mention Chris Valaika, a better player than Turner anyway. Frazier seems a bit too big and not agile enough to turn the DP at second base.
Mike - Boston, MA
Now that Jim Rice is in the HOF, does this open the candidacy for Fred McGriff? 493 HR's, All Star career, Two championships, and his body never changed during a steroid era. Thoughts?
John Manuel (2:22 PM)
Not an HOF guy for me. I've actually had McGriff in my retro diamond mind league since 1987, and he's helped me to some nice seasons (not enough though -- Callis won the league three years in a row before getting out), but his career is not too special for a first baseman in this era. He had a lesser career than contemporaries such as Jim Thome, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, etc. Those last two obviously had other issues. Crime Dog also was a pretty poor defender; he just didn't do a ton of other things other than hit home runs, and he played in smallish media markets such as Toronto and San Diego most of his career. I don't see there being a McGriff groundswell.
Chris (Newport beach, CA)
Jim, great chat as always! I was wondering when you were doing the minor league top 10's, which orginization did you have the most trouble with in terms of their top three prospects? Marlins, Braves, other??
John Manuel (2:25 PM)
Neat question that I'll answer even though I'm not Jim. The Braves was very tough -- we went back and forth between Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson; Hanson's AFL performance and scouting reports were so loud and outsized, and he's so much closer to the majors than Heyward, that we switched at the last minute. The Rangers top list and the Marlins are also interchangeable, and to me, you could argue Mike Stanton over Cam Maybin easily for the Marlins No. 1, K rate be damned! Those kinds of things tend to happen to strong organizations, and Texas and Florida rank 1-2 in our Org Rankings in the Prospect Handbook, which is at the printers now.
Ben (Centerville, OH)
All Dan Dorn has done for the Reds in 2.5 minor league seasons is OPS .915 (.297/.387/.528) with 50 HR and 190 rbi in only 990 at bats, inlcuding 21 HR in only 336 ab's last year in AA. Why does he not garner much recognition from BA? I know his defense isn't top notch, but he is more than adequate enough to cover LF, and just hits the ball hard. If he tears up AAA pitching this year as a 24 year old, could he get his shot in the show?
John Manuel (2:28 PM)
One more from Ben, since all Reds prospects are either over-rated or under-publicized. Ben, we've been writing about Dorn since he was a freshman at Fullerton, and he's been consistent since then -- he's been injury-prone, and he's hit when healthy. He doesn't have a lot of secondary skills, such as say defense or speed. The value there is in the bat, and we just don't see him as a regular, more of a Luke Scott type of guy as a pro. That has value; we just think other Reds prospects have more value. Now stop asking this question -- I just found that Jim answered it in February. You're cut off for the rest of this chat!
Ross (Hot Springs, AR)
When are the preseason polls coming out?
John Manuel (2:29 PM)
Preseason Top 25 comes out next Tuesday, Jan. 20, and our college preview content (which is voluminous!) will roll out slowly over the ensuing three weeks.
Dave (Jax, FL)
John-love the chats. Best part about the website. What are your projections for Nolan Reimold? How is he defensively compared to Luke Scott? Could he start in LF for the O's this year? If so, can Huff play 1B and Scott be the primary DH? Thanks.
John Manuel (2:31 PM)
He's more well-rounded than Luke Scott, but Scott (who's getting a lot of references in this chat) has shown an ability to hit for power in the majors already that Reimold has not. I can see Reimold becoming a regular, and he's also a bit unconventional in his swing, which gives scouts some pause. To me, though, he is the future LF in Baltimore and a good 6-hole option; that would be the best scenario for the Orioles, who should have a solid lineup for '09, even more than solid if Mora and Huff maintain their 2008 level (which is iffy) and if Markakis and especially Adam Jones make improvements with the experience they have gained. Plus there's Wieters as an X-factor. If the O's had any pitching at all, they'd be a nice sleeper pick, but that division is too tough for a rotation with Jeremy Guthrie and a lot of filler.
Bullwinkle...Frostbite Falls, Alberta
How do you see the ACC race shaping up?? Besides UNC, who are the next tier of quality teams?
John Manuel (2:34 PM)
The ACC after North Carolina is a jumble, as Florida State and Miami went to Omaha last year but lost lots of talent from those teams. I am more optimistic about FSU's ability to replace that talent because they had a strong group of freshmen last year, that team should hit even without Buster Posey. Miami has more to replace and is hurt by Eric Erickson's injury. For me, Georgia Tech is the next-best team in the ACC, edging Florida State, Clemson, Virginia and N.C. State. The Wolfpack is a nice sleeper, having won a regional last year and still very deep on the mound. If the Pack gets some offense from the Poulk Bros., they should be a regional factor again.
matt (sacramento, ca)
first off the love the chats! can i get a quick comparison between wieters and posey's skill sets? which one would you prefer to have? thanks a lot.
John Manuel (2:37 PM)
I did a story on just this subject in September; I'd prefer Wieters, as while I believe in Posey's bat, I think he'll be an average big league hitter and very good defender while believing strongly in Wieters bat and his ability to catch, 6-foot-5 or not. http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/awards/player-of-the-year/2008/266817.html
Bob Williams Bridgeton NJ
Where can we find a list of top High school baseball players in the country?
John Manuel (2:38 PM)
BaseballAmerica.com of course has your 2009 top 100 high school prospects on our HS page and draft page, and we'll have our high school preview at the end of February (same issue as our Top 100 minor league prospects).
KO (Pittsfield, MA)
Which one of these players will win a CY Young award first: Price, Kershaw, King Felix, or Darvish?
John Manuel (2:38 PM)
I'll go a bit off the board here and say Kershaw. I'd hold off on lumping Darvish into this conversation.
Is daniel webb a first round pick next year? Do you think it was a wise decision for him to go to a junior college? If he does not sign next year he can go to a four year school correct?
John B (Boston, MA)
What value if any can the Rangers get for the overpaid yet highly effective Micheal Young? Would it be worth it or should they smarten up and allow him to stay at short?
John Manuel (2:41 PM)
That's an unfortunate situation for the Rangers, isn't it? For me, if you don't think Young is your shortstop, you have to trade him to someone who wants him to play SS, because (a) his contract is outsized, and (b) he doesn't really hit enough to be a 3b, and (c) he doesn't want to play 3b anyway. Best course of action now for Texas seems to be keeping him as a SS this year to rehabilitate his trade value and hope you can deal him, if you truly believe in Andrus' bat. I am an Andrus guy,for what that is worth.
Kenny (ATL, GA)
Hi John - I wanted to get a second opinion. In Jim's latest Ask BA column, he ranked the NL's top 10 prospects and put Logan Morrison in a pretty lofty spot, above Heyward, Fowler, Maybin and Stanton. Do you concur with this assessment?
John Manuel (2:45 PM)
I don't in that I am a huge Stanton fan. Morrison is more of a sure bet to hit than the rest of those guys; in terms of upside, Fowler probably checks in last of that group, but he's also hit in Double-A and is a fine defender. He might turn out to be Devon White with better plate discipline. Devo only hit 20+ homers twice, and I bet Fowler can do that, especially playing in Coors. We each have personal Top 50s at the front of the Handbook (as does my co-editor in chief, Will Lingo), and my NL top 10 was not too similar, because I'm also not as high on Pedro Alvarez as Jim. I went for Tommy Hanson 1 (which is crazy, I know), then Heyward, Bumgarner, Maybin, Alvarez, Stanton, Fowler, Rasmus, followed by Buster Posey and then Alcides Escobar. I like Morrison a lot, he was No. 11 on my NL list.
Hi, when are your prospect handbooks being shipped, and when does your top 100 come out? thanks
John Manuel (2:46 PM)
Handbook will be shipped most likely next week to people who ordered directly from Baseball America. As a special incentive to get people to order from BA and our website, we are giving those buyers an extra, 31st scouting report for every organization. So order from BA and get 930 scouting reports, instead of a paltry 900. BaseballAmerica.com or 800-845-2726. I swear that will be the last plug this week.
Can you imagine the Atlanta system if they hadn't made the Teixeria trade. Who would be number 1? Hanson, Feliz, Heyward, ??
John Manuel (2:49 PM)
Jason, I almost cannot imagine that. I ranked Feliz a notch ahead of Hanson in my personal top 50, even though I think Hanson is closer to being ready to help in the big leagues. Feliz has bigger stuff; I wonder a bit about his fastball command and efficiency, Hanson is ahead of him in both traits, and his secondary stuff is better, particularly his breaking balls. But Feliz's stuff is more electric. I think Heyward would rank ahead of Andrus, but don't forget the rest of that haul -- Matt Harrison, Beau Jones . . . man, what a brutal, brutal deal that has turned out to be.
Ethan (County Court)
Is McCutchen's star fading? He is nowhere in your NL Top 10?
John Manuel (2:50 PM)
I think it has faded a bit for me as it seems that he has less offensive upside than '05 draft contemporaries such as Colby Rasmus and Cameron Maybin. For me, he's continued to be very similar to Lastings Milledge, whom he was compared to out of high school. Like Milledge, McCutchen seems like he's good at a lot of things but not great at anything. Solid future big leaguer, not likely to be a star, for me.
John, Please answer another Giants question! Assuming Villalona, Posey, and Gillaspie all make it to SF along with Sandoval, which will end up moving to the outfield, since 4 guys can't play c, 1B, and 3B?
John Manuel (2:52 PM)
Good question Gary. Posey's going to catch -- they didn't pay him $6.2 million not to catch, and his value is in his athleticism and ability to catch, throw and lead from behind the plate. He'll hit more than enough, he's got a lot of Russell Martin traits and can be that kind of player if not a shade better as a hitter. You've got three to make two at the other spots, and Sandoval has a big head start on the other two. My gut tells me the Giants believe less in Sandoval than the other two and might eventually deal him, but more likely, one of that trio will not make it in any significant way. If I had to pick one, I'd pick Gillaspie, who also may not be good enough defensively at 3b and would be most likely to move to LF, but all three are legit hitting prospects.
Does Carlos Carrasco have good enough stuff to be a #2 starter in the majors?
John Manuel (2:54 PM)
No doubt, there's no question on his stuff. The questions are on his pitchability,or lack thereof, and his ability to work out of trouble. He just doesn't have a great feel for pitching yet and he also is not "Jam Tough," to use another Diamond Mind phrase. He is susceptible to big innings and kind of giving in under pressure, throwing harder when in a jam rather than pitching better.
Matt, Norwalk CT
Best starter in 2011: Cahill, B Anderson, Matusz or Holland?
John Manuel (2:56 PM)
If he uses his fastball more often, I'll say Matusz. His secondary stuff is so good, he missed a ton of bats in college by pitching off his curve, slider and changeup. My next pick would be Anderson, then Cahill and then Holland, who has the shortest track record of success among these guys. Four good guys to pick from.
David, Cleveland, OH
Where does Dustin Ackley currently sit as a potential big-league prospect? Is his power coming later, or will he remain an "on-base", "doubles" kinda guy? (A little Royals humor there, couldn't resist!!)
John Manuel (3:00 PM)
David, I think Royals fans have to try to have a sense of humor, don't they? I'm a huge Ackley fan, get to see him a lot, and this is a big year for him. He had elbow surgery and will give it a go in the outfield this year, at least he's likely to in the second half. I still think a pro team will try him in the outfield (probably center) down the line, because he has speed, and frankly if he has a 30 arm, that will be enough with his bat. He's had some Steve Finley comps in the past, but I don't know if those fit anymore. Not sure whom he compares to, but he will hit, and for me he's the best hitter in the '09 draft. You can take Grant Green over him because Green plays shortstop, but Ackley's the best pure hitter in this draft and maybe the best pure hitter to come out of the college ranks since Todd Helton. He's just so consistent.
Love your work John. If you were to select the top five Yankees minor league pitching prospects (starting or relief) in terms of ceiling/probability of reaching it how would you rank them? Melancon, McAllister, Betances, Banuelos, De La Rosa?
John Manuel (3:04 PM)
Interesting Yanks question. In terms of ceiling, I think Brackman leads the way, you didn't mention him. He has unique athleticism that sets him apart from that group you mentioned. Banuelos is an interesting 17-year-old Mexican lefty who hasn't pitched full-season ball yet. The Yankees are very excited about him and Arodys Vizcaino, and I'd put them on the top 5 "ceiling" list after Brackman, Betances and probably McAllister, who should be a nice 3/4 guy. De la Rossa is a reliever, as is Melancon, and I'm not sure I'd put any reliever on a top 5 list if I wasn't confident they'd be a Mariano-Joe Nathan type of closer. Melancon *could* be that guy, reports on him seem to be a bit mixed in terms of how his stuff came back from TJ. Frankly De La Rossa is behind Phil Coke for me in terms of ceiling and is less probable to make the big leagues as well.
Doug, Brooklyn, NY
C'mon, AL top 10 please! I won't even hold it against you for knocking the NFL Hall of Fame when the MLB one has turned into the Hall of Pretty Good lately.
John Manuel (3:06 PM)
MLB's HOF has actually improved its standards compared to the guys it used to allow in, but I agree the Rice vote doesn't help the Hall. My AL top 10 went a little something like this; Wieters-Price-Feliz, then Travis Snider, Brett Anderson, fellow Greek-American Mike Moustakas, Chris Tillman, Trevor Cahill, Gordon Beckham and Brian Matusz.
Rob (Brighton, MA)
Hi John, I'm curious about some pitchers in the lower levels of the BoSox system. Of Weiland, Price, and Fife, do any have true starter potential? Also, how do they stack up against the teenagers Pimentel, Huntziger, and Britton? And who has the highest ceiling of the bunch?
John Manuel (3:09 PM)
I just took this because I'm a Stephen Fife apologist, just think he's the best of that bunch after than Pimentel because (a) he's got a big, durable body with a fairly fresh arm that wasn't overworked in college; (b) he pitches off his fastball and has good control of both his two- and four-seamer; (c) he has average-to-plus velo; (d) he has shown he can spin a breaking ball, with some power, even at altitude. I think I like Fife even more than the Sox do. Of course you didn't mention Nick Hagadone, who ranks ahead of all those guys and who has shown special stuff when healthy.
Steve (Livermore, CA)
Thanks for the chat John, we always enjoy them. Even though his VWL season ended on a down note, should Mets fans be encouraged by Fernando's success this winter? His homer circulating the web was an absolute moonshot!
John Manuel (3:11 PM)
Martinez was just released by his team in winter ball, so it does end on a down note for him, but I would be encouraged by his increasing power. Don't forget how young he is, it was a long season and he may just have gotten tired physically. Winter ball isn't about development for those teams at all; they have to win, so if F-Mart is tiring and not hitting, they can't wait, and I don't think they care if Armando Rios was all over the Mitchell Report.
Andy (Chicago, IL)
When does the top 100 list come out? Which do you expect to have the most players on the list?
John Manuel (3:13 PM)
Top 100 comes out in late February and will feature a lot of Rangers, A's and Marlins. In fact, to me the top six-seven organizations really are a lot better than Nos. 9-30; there's a big dropoff. So those orgs will have the lions' share of players. I'm talking about orgs like Atlanta, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and San Francisco.
The Rays signing of Gabe Kapler means Matt Joyce will likely start the season in the minors. Do you think he can be and everyday right fielder? And do you think David Price will join him in Durham for the first month or so?
John Manuel (3:15 PM)
I selfishly hope both players are in Durham to start the season, since I do some TV work for the Bulls, but I doubt it strongly on Price, especially after Edwin Jackson was traded. Joyce will be tough to send down considering he hit 12 big league homers and has defensive skills but the OF/DH spots are pretty full with Kapler and Burrell aboard. Still think Joyce will spend most if not all of his season in Tampa.
Tim (St. Paul, MN)
Who is the Twins' centerfielder in 4 years? Gomez, Hicks, or Revere?
John Manuel (3:16 PM)
I'll say Gomez; I believe the bat will come around to an acceptable level, and his defense and speed are spectacular.
So you have Cleveland's farm system ahead of KC's?
John Manuel (3:17 PM)
Oh yeah . . . the Royals have improved on the strength of a pricey-but-good 2008 draft class, but the upper levels of the KC system are still thin.
Steve (Livermore, CA)
Thanks for the chats, John - always enjoy them. Who's the Mets 2B of the future: Tejada, Havens, Flores or someone else?
John Manuel (3:18 PM)
Best internal candidate is probably Havens; I haven't found a scout who thinks Ruben Tejada will hit enough to be a regular, and Flores is more likely a corner guy rather than a 2b.
Who would you play at 2B for the Whitesox? Getz, Lillibridge or Nix? Any of them long-term starters?
John Manuel (3:20 PM)
Best spring training wins. Getz might be the best fit in terms of bringing a different look to the lineup as an LH bat with some speed; that team seems very righthanded to me. Nix is a good guy to try but I don't have confidence that he will hit. Lillibridge brings more value if he's playing SS but to me he, like Getz, is more of an extra guy. They're all place-holders for Gordon Beckham, who will rake in pro ball, I'm a Beckham fan.
Pedro (Dom Rep)
Where will I end up? Also, when I make it to the Hall of Fame where will I rank, and any chance of going in as an expo?
John Manuel (3:23 PM)
Great question to end up on, since I just love Pedro, no matter what uni he wears. He doesn't get to choose his cap, right? Wade Boggs & Dave Winfield ruined it for everybody . . . for me, Pedro Martinez is the best pitcher ever for peak value, but falls a bit shy of Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson for career value, and Clemens too, since I think for the purposes of this question we should try to consider just what they did on the field, not what they did or didn't do off it. Peak value, Pedro ranks No. 1. I like the Pedro to the Marlins rumors, the Marlins could use a little extra walk-up crowd couldn't they?
John Manuel (3:24 PM)
Thanks for coming out, going to go ahead and wrap it up. Thanks for the questions, Jim should be back next week.