Greg (ATL): Can you expand on the rumors about Royce Lewis having a down spring? Are they legitimate concerns?
John Manuel: Hi everyone, welcome to the Draft Chat and thanks for coming out. Royce Lewis just hasn’t hit; it’s as simple as that. He’s not tearing it up, he was ill early and got a bit of a late start, and he’s been a bit inconsistent with his swing and hitting mechanics, enough so that scouts have questioned his ultimate feel for hitting. However, he’s toolsy as all get out, he has track record, he’s athletic enough to play either in the dirt or in center field . . . he checks a lot of the right boxes.
J.P. (Springfield, IL): John, your tidbit about Greene has me curious, Is he seriously considering "tanking" by being strictly a hitter going into the draft in the hopes he'll fall to SD? I've heard of the notion of teams "tanking" in order to get a higher draft pick, but this is new. What happens when teams ask him to do pre-draft workouts - would they see him on the mound or no?
John Manuel: I would not say he’s tanking. I don’t think that’s what he’s doing at all. It is a 17-year-old kid we’re talking about here so we should be sensitive in how we address his situation. He did skip this week’s Boras Classic on the mound; he did not skip it hitting. It is fair to say he probably has shown people all he needs to show them on the mound, and he has convinced people that he’s a better prospect on the mound by having a solid but unspectacular spring as a hitter, while being spectacular on the mound at times. I know there are clubs with concerns about the breaking ball while others do not share those reservations. It’s very possible that going out No. 1 overall means more to Greene than anything else; I do not pretend to know all the ins and outs of the entire situation. But (a) it’s more complicated than, “He’s the best player or one of the two and should go 1 or 2.” And (b) I wrote in the first mock last month that the industry believes his absolute floor is 3, and the rumors persist that he would prefer to go 1 or 3 but not 2 to Cincinnati. Those are rumors, but they are persistent rumors, enough so that I felt comfortable reporting it, because it comes from so many different sources.
Larry (GA): Your info on the Braves said they'll be scouting Gore and Beck hard until the end. How much higher do you think they have those two on their board than the Faedo/Wright/Lewis group?
John Manuel: I don’t think they’ve put their board together yet; no one has. It’s still April. That kind of thing happens in May. But Beck versus Lewis, that’s apples to apples, prep OF vs. prep OF. This spring, no contest, Beck has been better. Lewis’ body of work is longer and better overall; he was one of if not the best player at NHSI back in 2014 when he was a freshman, and he’s still a premium athlete. Is he a better athlete than Gore? Not even sure that’s the case. Gore could be the best athlete in the draft period. That would not be said of the other pitchers, Wright & Faedo, that you mentioned. Faedo was great last night beating South Carolina; Wright was great last week beating Florida. That helps both pitchers, who have longer track records than Gore. But right now, I think Gore is ahead of Faedo on most boards. I bet Wright is ahead of all of them on most teams’ boards for pitchers due to his body, clean arm and stuff, and then he finally put it together after a very slow start to the season.
Riley (Dallas): At this time last year Vientos was being mentioned in the same conversations as Kevin Maitan, what's happened to his stock? And if he's now a late first projection, why not honor his commitment to Miami and rebuild his value a bit?
John Manuel: I’m not sure about that comparison, but it probably was made because both players were 16 at the time. I’m not sure how Maitan would fare in high school baseball, probably pretty well, but I don’t get the sense that Vientos’ stock is cratering. I just never thought he was at the Maitan level. Perhaps I missed those comparisons. But Vientos still is seen as a first-round prep infield talent who is young for the class. Whether or not he goes to college probably depends all on the signing bonus he gets, and his summer and fall track record really matters a lot for that.
Devin (Columbus): Who are the best senior signs in this years draft?
John Manuel: I don’t have my complete list in front of me, but the first fourth-year player I think of isn’t a senior, it’s Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker. He’s having a monster year, but he also is a Nov. 1994 birthday, so he’s 22 already, a first baseman now who may move back to a corner outfield spot, but a hitter having just a monster season. Hard to top him here. A senior/4th year player who comes up with scouts a lot is LSU’s Cole Freeman, who is just 5-9, 175 lbs., but he has a chance to stick at 2b, he’s a 70 runner, he makes a lot of contact … he’s cooled off a bit but I can see him as a potential 2nd rounder as a cost-saver who also is a real prospect.
Roger (Greenville, SC): The Rays questioning their results with prep hitters seems a bit wrong. Of the 6 1st-round prep bats since Beckham, they were all mid-to-late 1st rounders, so we're not talking the talent of a top 5 overall pick like they have this year. Plus the 2 most recent are too recent to judge. 2 were HS C, which has always been a particularly risky demographic. That leaves Hager in AAA and Sale who busted. That shouldn't have any bearing on a top 5 pick. The older history with Beckham, Delmon, BJ, Rocco, and Hamilton leaves something to be desired because they all fell tantalizing short of their ceilings as Rays, but I'd take most of that set over most of their college pitcher 1st rounders (Brazelton, Niemann, Townsend, and Stanek as well as Price). I think we can safely say they're not getting a clear 1-1 college pitcher this time. So, do you really buy the "we're not going prep hitter because our history has been poor, maybe we'll go college pitcher" line?
John Manuel: I wrote about it last year, but they just simply have to draft better. They know it; everyone knows it. I imagine an intelligent, analytically inclined organization would just try to learn from its mistakes. A lot of Rays’ scouts have been with the organization a long time and were part of those past drafts; that’s why it’s pertinent to note the organization’s track record. HS catcher is a great example; they went to the well once even though it’s a risky demo and then did it again four years later, and they have done it in other early rounds as well. The Rays can afford to miss in the draft less than almost every organization.
Steve (Tampa): Any chance the Rays take McKenzie Gore with their 4th overall pick?
John Manuel: Sure, but it sounds like they are more tied to Beck than to Gore, and to college arms more than Gore.
Roger (Greenville, SC): How would you breakdown the tiers in this draft?
John Manuel: You’d have to be more specific, but there’s a draft notebook I need to finish that says something like, there’s a top 5-7, then a 13-15 player group that is loaded with college bats and starting pitchers, then a 20-60 group, where several franchises have multiple picks, that probably will be heavy with prep pitchers, hitters and outfielders. Not many if any catchers in that top 60.
Tyler Matthew (Virginia): Have you heard anything about Nate Pearson's secondaries? He's got size and velocity. If he has made real progress with his secondaries he seems like the prototype for Dumbrowski (big righty that throws hard). Is pick 24 too high for him?
John Manuel: The recent piece by Hudson Belinsky on our site (search /tag/nate-pearson) quotes a scout as saying Pearson has two breaking balls and a changeup, and his secondary stuff has progressed enough to be a starter. I don’t know that 24 is too high, but his track record is shorter than the Red Sox usually like to bite on. The Cubs have extra picks; that’s why I went Cubs for him.
Roger (Greenville, SC): Given the Twins' new front office is led by former Rangers and Indians execs, I would have thought they'd be looking at the high-upside preps. McKay seems entirely against type for them. How do you figure their front office dynamics for this? Is there still a strong scouting influence carried over from the previous Twins regime(s)?
John Manuel: Roger is active today . . . The Indians were definitely not just high-upside preps in the draft; they drafted Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer in recent years, not just a parade of Will Bensons. And the higher the Rangers pick, the more college they have gone when Thad Levine was there (Tate No. 4 overall in 2015, Chi Chi Gonzalez in 2013). McKay isn’t some low-ceiling safe guy. He may be Cliff Lee with his command, angle, pitchability and stuff. He’s really, really good. I don’t think you are giving him or the current (and past) Twins regimes enough credit. But I will say, it is not easy for a new chief baseball officer to go to ownership with an asset like the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and do something no other team ever has done, i.e., draft a high school pitcher No. 1 overall. Not saying they won’t do it, but it is difficult, and McKay is a legit No. 1 pick talent.
Tyler Matthew (Virginia): Why is David Peterson not breaking the top 20s in the recent mocks? With his combination of Ks, Control, being a Lefty, and Size I thought he'd be higher.
John Manuel: He’s moved into the first round for sure, and I’m on the Peterson train. I mean, he’s a Colorado prep pitcher, you may as well stop there for me . . . it’s kind of a thing for me. But yes, you mentioned some of his strengths, I’d add a plus slider and above-average if not plus fastball and improved pitchability. If he keeps this up, he could keep moving higher. He’s got time to move up; with Jason Dietrich as his pitching coach, I bet he will. The George Horton-Dietrich marriage has been a good one in Eugene.
Stan (San Mateo, Cali): Tristan Beck hasn't pitched yet this season but has showed first round material. If he comes back and pitches well, will he return to the first round convo or stay in college?
John Manuel: It’s really hard to say at this point. I checked in with his situation in early April and at that time, he had not started throwing off a mound yet. It would take a while to get cranked up. One complicating factor: His younger brother, also a Stanford commit, could be his teammate next spring if Tristan Beck were to return to school. Another factor: Who replaces Mark Marquess as Stanford’s head coach? That could affect Beck’s decision as well. I’m not even sure he’ll have that answer by draft time. But right now, it felt like a better idea to leave him out altogether. It’s different from Quantrill, who was throwing on the side and just decided not to pitch for Stanford last year because he basically already had teams telling him they’d take him in the first round, whether he pitched or not.
Giants Fan (Philippines): Now that you mentioned Brian Miller as a possible option for the Giants but I don't really have a lot of info about him. Can you describe what kind of prospect is he? Thank you!
John Manuel: Short version: Fast. The grades I’ve gotten are plus run times and if you believe in him a potential plus hitter. Miller has a very good track record with wood bats, both in the Cape and the year before in the Coastal Plain League. He’s a great story in that he was initially headed to UNC Asheville as a recruited walk-on before North Carolina got hammered on draft night in 2014 (six prospects drafted in the first 64 picks) and started looking for more players. He wasn’t committed anywhere, Carolina started recruiting him that summer, yada yada yada . . . he could be a first rounder.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Will BA have any mocks that expand into the supplemental round or even into round 2?
John Manuel: I doubt this very much, considering that file was more than 2,000 words just covering the first round.
Joey Bagadonuts (Philly): Austin Beck seems like a natural for Atlanta at 5. Is there a college bat that would make them change their mind?
John Manuel: So many Braves questions . . . I do not see the Braves taking a college bat, no. I thought they were considering Corey Ray last year but if they weren’t taking him, i don’t think they’d take Kendall, who is toolsier but a lesser pure hitter. It’s not a great college hitter draft.
Nick (Chicago): With updated scouting philosophy under Nick Hostetler, wouldn't the White Sox be targeting advanced college hitting like Haseley?
John Manuel: I think they would with the right player, such as Zack Collins. I believe Adam Haseley is not quite that player for them. He would be for me; I stinking love Adam Haseley. All he does is win, no matter what . . . But there are real questions about just how real his power spike this year is, and also whether or not he’s a center fielder. If he’s Todd Hollandsworth . . . no offense to Hollandworth, but that’s a left fielder or fourth outfielder profile. That might be who Haseley is too.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Who amongst the prep bats have the best hit tool in this draft class?
John Manuel: For me, based on the information we have, I’d say Nick Pratto with a slight edge over Mark Vientos, though I think you could argue Austin Beck. You have to project more on Beck, who I think is power over hit. I’ve gotten one Clint Frazier comp on Beck and one Hunter Renfroe comp, so power over hit seems fair.
Marcus (Endicott, NY): Even if he doesn't go to the Yankees, and I hope he does, is Pratto going somewhere in the teens at this point? Does he have more helium?
John Manuel: No, he’s not moving up more than that I don’t believe. Earlier in the year, I would have said yes, but that upward momentum seems to have abated.
Card Fan (Louisville): Hairston and Ellis are having solid seasons for the Cardinals. Any idea where you think they might land in June?
John Manuel: These Louisville bats both have a shot to go on the first day of the draft, 2nd or comp round. Hairston is just a ballplayer; not the toolsiest dude, but he can really play. He hits, he defends, he’s an average runner … I got a Josh Harrison comparison on him, though I’m not sure if that’s just too easy. Sometimes, the simplest answer is the easiest one. I talked to one scouting director who shares my love of Ellis’ type of player. If you’re going to get a corner bat, get a productive, versatile one. Ellis has some similarities to Adam Duvall, another Louisville RH corner bat who’s been better than people thought. The combo of power and more BB than SO will get Ellis off the board early.
Tom Brady (Foxborough,MA): How much concern is there over Keston Hiura's elbow?
John Manuel: I love that dude. I liken him to Carlos Quentin, who also needed TJ right after the draft but still had a perfectly cromulent MLB career. Hiura has more of a chance to play the infield than Quentin ever did but probably lacks Carlos’ plus-plus hair. Keston can hit; one of the top 3 pure hitters in the college class. Just hard to know where he’ll go in the draft. I put him 10 in the first mock and was told that was too high, but he keeps hitting … wouldn’t stun me if he went out higher than 20, where i had him this week.
Craig (Kirkland, WA): How far could Seth Romero fall or would a team take a chance in the first round?
John Manuel: Still think the chance will be taken. Clay Buchholz was a guy who had makeup issues right before the draft and Lonnie Chisenhall was a another, Chisenhall went out first round, Buchholz supplemental, both have had substantive MLB careers. We’ll see what Romero actually did wrong; there are just rumors now.
Tracy (El Sobrante, CA): How much will the short careers of Tim Lincecum, Rich Harden, Jared Cosart, and Jarrod Parker hurt the chances of Bukauskas being selected early? Short starting pitchers seem to be chewed up and out of the game by Age 30.
John Manuel: I think that works against him, yes. But he could be Marcus Stroman or Sonny Gray for a few years, then turn into a great closer. It’s the best single pitch in the draft, his slider, and it’s dastardly.
J (SSF): Feels like it's been a while since the Giants went high upside high schooler in the top rounds. Any chance they take some this year? I feel like our farm system is in need of some star power.
John Manuel: Christian Arroyo . . . high schooler in the first round, they sure thought he had upside and he still might. But they’ve had a lot of success with their approach, I think. I still gave them a prep upside arm in D.L. Hall, so he could have real star power with a fastball up to 97 last summer and a potential wipeout slider.
Justin (Tucson): What are scouts saying about the hit tool for Missouri State's 3b Jake Burger? His power is legit and is putting together another incredible season. Am I crazy to think he has top 15 pick potential as a middle of the order bat?
John Manuel: I think you’re close. But I think there are real questions about the defense; I tried to comp him to David Freese to one scout and the retort was, “Well, he’s not as good of an athlete.” That woke me up a bit.
Kyle Glaser: Hey guys, I’m taking over for John to answer some prospects/majors questions. Looking forward to chatting
Dave (Arizona): Any thoughts on Taylor Motter and Mitch Haniger? Both are off to fantastic starts this season. Are they both legitimit every day MLB starters?
Kyle Glaser: Haniger is. Hits, hits for power, plays excellent defense. He’s an absolute solid everyday big leaguer. Motter less so. He’s a utilityman having a nice showing in a small sample size. He can stick on a bench, but you don’t want him starting 150 games for you.
Steve (Minn): Kyle Tucker vs Austin Meadows. Who has the better career?
Kyle Glaser: Tucker for me. That swing, the burgeoning power, he’s going to hit at every level. The same can’t be said for Meadows, who is talented as an athlete but has some offensive concerns.
Tim (Cleveland): Fransisco Mejia just keeps hitting. Is he close to being ready for the show? I am tired of Yan Gomes!
Kyle Glaser: He has a shot to make his debut this year, but you have to remember he’s a catcher and still has a little ways to develop back there. If he comes up to the big leagues and rakes but doesn’t call games well or block well or receive well, you’re going to see the effects of that on your pitching staff. He’s still developing back there defensively, needs more time in the high minors to do that.
Dan (Ohio): Bradley Zimmer got off to a nice start, but seems to be striking out more frequently lately. Is George Springer a fair comparison?
Kyle Glaser: Uh no. That undersells Springer criminally. Springer is a cornerstone player on a contending team with a career .816 OPS in the majors and had a .955 OPS in the minors. Zimmer has a career .815 OPS in the MINORS. Think more in the Charlie Blackmon range of player. Blackmon’s career totals are artificially boosted by Coors (career. 257/.302/.417 on the road) but he’s a fine everyday player nonetheless. That’s more in line with what to expect from Zimmer.
Alex (The BAY): There seemed to be a lot of negative commentary about AJ Puk & his lack of athleticism during the offseason. Are those concerns gone?
Kyle Glaser: It’s hard for 6-7 guys to get all their limbs in sync and repeat their delivery, and as such they are sometimes knocked unfairly on their athleticism as if they were on the same scale as a 6-2 or 6-3 guy. But Puk is repeating his delivery and pounding the strike zone, so he’s clearly gotten better at everything being in sync. That’s just part of him maturing into his body.
Robbie the Robot (South Bend, IN): To the human unit known as Kyle - you will immediately Desist from omitting Cease from your Prospect Hot Sheet when he is clearly deserving. That is all. End transmission.
Kyle Glaser: Cease was close. One of many guys who have an argument. Part of the hazards of limiting the Hot Sheet to 20 is someone deserving always gets left off. His last start, as good as it was, was the only one that qualified for this time frame, and we gave the nod to other guys who put together 2 excellent starts between April 14-20 or whose one start (in the case of Junior Fernandez) was longer.
Willie Calhoun (OKC): So, all I have done is prove I can hit. Prove I have power (not yet this season, but it will come). Yet all anyone talks about is that I can't field!! Am I really that bad?!?!
Kyle Glaser: Yes. Otherwise the Dodgers would not have traded their top pitching prospect away for someone who plays your natural position.
Jeremy (Tyler): Kyle Tucker has shown more power, but it looks like strikeout and walk rates have suffered as a result. Is that a concern going forward?
Kyle Glaser: No. It’s been two weeks and he’s 20 playing as one of the youngest players at his level. He’ll be fine
Bryan (California): The Dodgers' High-A affiliate at Rancho Cucamonga has a pretty nice rotation (Buehler, White, Alvarez, and Santana). How would you rate each based on front-line potential?
Kyle Glaser: Walker and Alvarez have No. 1 potential, White more a mid-rotation, and Santana a really good future bullpen arm. But it’s one of the minors’ best rotations to be sure, maybe even the best.
Satchel (Las Vegas): Good Day, Providing he remains healthy, Where do you see Kyle Zimmer fitting into 2017 Kansas City plans, pen or rotation? What is a timetable to get to Kaufmann? Thanks
Kyle Glaser: Zimmer left his most recent start with shoulder soreness. Honestly, don’t count on him ever getting to Kansas City. If it eventually happens great, but his injury track record is just to spotty to ever expect it.
Tatum (Clearwater, Fla): Hi - Cedric Mullins looks like an electric talent, who can bring energy to a lineup. Does he make it Baltimore in 2017, if so, in what capacity?
Kyle Glaser: It’s not likely, but if he did it would be as an extra OF helping out in pinch-hit and pinch-run situations. He only just got to AA. Give it time
Fisher (Olathe, Ks): Thanks for the time....is Joe Jimenez the closer in Detroit at some point this year? Rodriquez is not exactly shutting lineups down.
Kyle Glaser: I could see it but at the same time it’s K-Rod’s job to lose, and with his track record they aren’t going to pull the plug on him just because he had a shaky two weeks
Robert (New York): What is the impact of Bradley Zimmer on the Cleveland lineup should he get the call this year...is 15 hr, 250 avg, 50, rbi, 15 steals a reach? He is off to a slow start in Columbus, hope he can get it together to help the tribe.
Kyle Glaser: His impact in a lineup would be nil. He’s a guy who has hit .250 in AA and .240 in AAA. At a certain point production takes precedence over tools, and he has never produced above A ball, which is a problem. In the Indians lineup this year he could maybe bat 9th as a guy who gets on base, steals some bags, and plays good defense in center. But he has more developing to do before he can have an everyday impact on a lineup
Sarah (Springfield, Mo.): Thanks for chatting, Kyle. I saw the Twitter apology for omitting Tommy Edman from the Hot List this week (1.400 OPS) and Carson Kelly last week (1.200 OPS) and accept on behalf of St. Louis fans. Oversights happen. My question, how does the "nomination" and selection process work exactly? Thanks again!
Kyle Glaser: By general rule we keep the Hot Sheet limited to Top 30 prospects in the handbook, which eliminates Edman. Not sure if that’s fair, but I’m the new guy on staff and I just follow the rules. Can’t speak to Kelly since I didn’t pick last week’s list. Basically, each week we pull up the top performers for the week using MiLB stats database, filter out the guys who aren’t top 30 prospects, and then try and organize on the most impactful week. We do try and change it up some so we don’t have the same guys on every week, but generally it’s pretty straight as to which Top 30 prospects had the best production in the given date range. Unfortunately, there’s always a guy or two who slips thru the cracks
jordan (berkeley): How is Brett Cumberland doing and where do you think he fits defensively? He flat out can rake
Kyle Glaser: Not well at all. Hit .216 in Rookie ball after signing and .171 so far this year at low A. No one seems to think he can catch, so right now he’s a DH who isn’t hitting. It’s a problem
Jim (Berlin): Alex Verdugo off to a solid start at AAA, and still 20. Do scouts think he'll have enough pop to hold down LF, or does the hit tool take precedence?
Kyle Glaser: It’s funny, if you look at the makeup of LF today it’s not a big power position once you get past Braun, Cespedes and to a lesser to extent Werth, Tomas, Duvall. Yelich and Polanco are hitters first who have developed power, and then you get into a lot of Melky Cabrera, Gerardo Parra, Andrew Toles, Howie Kendrick, etc…Verdugo will slot into LF just fine, regardless of pop
Satya (San Francisco): How much worse would the Mississippi Braves rotation do than the Padres if they were in the majors this year?
Kyle Glaser: One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming upside means how’d they’d do in the majors today. The Padres rotation actually has a perfectly respectable 3.83 ERA this year, 13th in the majors and better than the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Giants among others. Any Double-A staff, no matter how much prospect potential, would get crushed in the majors to the tune of at least a 6 ERA, and that’s probably on the low end.
Kyle Glaser: That will do it for today’s chat everyone. Thanks and have a great weekend!