Top 100 Draft Chat

Q:  Kevin from Seattle, WA asks:
How close was Brian Pearl out of U. Washington. Heard he was 96-97 during fall workouts.

John Manuel: Thanks everybody for coming in. Let's get started with a definite summer popup guy in Brian Pearl, who just missed our Northwoods League top 10 list but who has some serious buzz coming on. He just missed our top 100 because of his lack of track record, but I just talked to a source yesterday about Pearl, in fact, and an change to his delivery really unlocked some of his velocity. He's a 3B-RHP, and more of a prospect as a P, but he's athletic, made an adjustment (he was an upside-down guy, elbow got higher than his shoulder) and loosened up, accounting for his velocity jumping. His track record as a pitcher is pretty short, so we were conservative on him (which is clearly out of fashion at this time), but he's definitely put himself on the radar. One other note is that he's smallish for a pitcher at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, but he was 93-95 last summer while flashing a plus slider. He's got some buzz for sure, even though he didn't make our top 100.

 Q:  Andy from Springfield, VA asks:
Thanks for the chat guys! What are Deven Marrero's strengths & weaknesses? How does he compare to the other HS senior shortstops? Do you think he will be able to stick at shortstop as a pro?

Matt Blood: It's time to chat. Let's break 'em down! A question about Deven Marrero in the very beginning seems appropriate. Marrero is an undoubtedly talented shortstop with big league abilities at the premium position. He has a big arm, moves well and has soft hands. However, offensively he has seen his ups and downs. In Jupiter, Marrero's timing was off as he didn't make much contact. However, he has shown the ability to drive the ball and does have power potential as well. The spring will tell a lot about Marrero and his draft stock. Regardless, he is one of the top defensive shortstops in the 2009 class, and that is always valued.

 Q:  Johnny from Malibu asks:
Any sleepers out in California who could make their way into the Top 100 by the draft? Thanks!

Nathan Rode: You'd be hard-pressed to consider Dylan Floro a sleeper, but he could find his way into the Top 100 if he keeps performing. He was a BA Postseason All-American this summer after going 12-1, 0.75 in 94 innings while striking out 139. At WWBA he was in a loaded staff on the Braves Scout Team and was 91-93 with an 80-81 changeup and 78 slider.

Nathan Rode: Also, keep an eye on K.C. Hobson, a big, physical kid from Stockdale HS in Bakersfield. He's the son of Butch Hobson. Some like him on the mound. Others like him as a hitter. The argument against him pitching is he's seen very limited time there. He never pitched more than a couple of innings at a time. But that can also be beneficial as his arm is fresh and not worn out. At WWBA he was 87-89 and peaked 90-91. He stayed with the fastball mostly and one CB got away from him. Either way, his size is attractive. He's a big presence in the box and on the mound at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Has Matt Harvey's stock fallen a lot in your eyes? I was a bit surprised not to see him on the list.

Matt Blood: We definitely have not forgotten about Matt Harvey, as he pitches in our back yard (Chapel Hill) on a regular basis. However, he won't be eligible until the 2010 draft. Look for him near the top of that list when it comes out.

 Q:  Gregg from So Cal asks:
Pittsburgh has the fourth overall pick. Do you think that they will want to tangle with Scott Boras again? He is advising and awful lot of this years talent.

John Manuel: There are two schools of thought I've found when talking to scouting directors over the years on the Boras Corp. subject. You can pick your school: (1) You can't cut off an avenue of talent, and Boras Corp. represents many of the top players, such as Strasburg, Ackley, Kentrail Davis and many others. (Those three are just off the top of my head.) If you say, "We don't draft Boras clients," then you're just cutting your draft board down, and from the top, not the middle or bottom. (2) You can drill down deeper and try to spread your money out over many picks instead of concentrating them on one, two or three high-end picks. This would be the anti-Royals approach. Kansas City has spent $16 million on its last three first-round picks, all Boras clients in Hochevar, Moustakas and Hosmer. Their system might have been better served spending $16 million on, say, 8-10 players. The org's depth is quite thin. For me, you have to take the best player on your board, no matter who the agent is.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield, IL asks:
Were he eligible, where would Bryce Harper have ranked on your Top 100, and how would you rank his tools on the 20-80 scale? Thanks!

John Manuel: I'd go Harper 1-1, over Strasburg, and here's why. He's got an 80 arm; if not 80, then 70. He's got 70 or 80 raw power. He's a good receiver for his age as a catcher, and he's physical. He's frankly in the class of the Justin Uptons and Delmon Youngs as far as being a high school player who dominated older competition as a 14-year-old. Those kinds of guys go 1-1 in drafts, and on top of it, Harper is a catcher who bats lefthanded. He's like Joe Mauer with power and less question about him being a catcher, because he's not 6-foot-5. I don't think he has Mauer's makeup but he might have better tools, in fact he does have better tools, esp. power.

 Q:  Brett from IL asks:
I really like Mychal Givens, the tools and the makeup. Right now I like him more on the mound, and think he could be as good or better than any righty on the board. So what are people looking for from him this upcoming season in order for him to move to the front of the pack? Also, how close is it between SS and the mound for him in people's minds? His bat seems to be the only question.

Matt Blood: Another interesting player to discuss, Givens is as talented as any prepster in the 2009 class. For me, he is more of a prospect on the mound, as he touched 97 mph on the radar gun (the highest reading all summer of any high school player on the showcase circuit). The question with Givens is playability. He has shown the big time fastball but has seem to struggle when it comes to actually getting hitters out. He also hasn't shown the ability to hold the mid-90s velocity for more than an inning during any outing. This could come from the fact that he plays a position (typically shortstop but has even been seen at catcher!) everyday when not pitching. This spring, Givens will need to show consistency and a better feel for pitching if he wants to move into the elite level of the draft.

 Q:  John from California asks:
How does the HS pitching class this year stack up to the 08 HS class in regards to the draft. Deeper or shallower? Secondly how does the class stack up in terms of quality in regards to last years class for the top draft positions.

Nathan Rode: Last year the top arms were guys like Aaron Hicks (who was picked as an OF), Ethan Martin, Gerritt Cole, Tim Melville and Casey Kelly (definitive future TBD). They were all first-rounders, but this year's class of pitchers looks a little deeper with five guys being in the Top 15 of this list. But overall, position players included, 2008 was probably a little deeper.

 Q:  Katie from Sarasota asks:
What is your evaluation of Mike Leake?

John Manuel: He's pretty intriguing as both a pitcher and as a hitter. Last year as a pitcher I heard some Tim Hudson comps thrown around, which make sense considering his size, being a hitter and pitcher (Hudson was a stud hitter in '97, .400 with 20 bombs for Auburn), and also because of the heavy, heavy sink he gets on his fastball. But one talent evaluator I talked to the other day likes Leake better as a hitter, and he played a lot of 2B for Team USA this summer when he didn't pitch. This evaluator even said he was a better prospect than Dustin Pedroia, though obviously Pedroia has been a better big leaguer than most in the industry believed he would be, present company included. For me, Leake's a pitcher because he has plus life and plus command of a fastball with average velocity, and his secondary stuff keeps coming on.

Moderator: Nathan clarify, Tim Melville obviously wasn't a first-rounder, but he was projected as such before the draft.

 Q:  John from Bronx, NY asks:
Hi Aaron, I know this is premature, but who are some of the top college position players for the 2010 draft? I'd assume most of the young players that were on Team USA this summer?

Aaron Fitt: Naturally the draft-eligible sophomores on our list could factor in next year, guys like Kentrail Davis and D.J. LeMahieu. I would throw in Christian Colon, Derek Dietrich, Hunter Morris and Micah Gibbs from Team USA. Also, I would include Kevin Patterson, Gary Brown, Victor Sanchez and Rick Hague, in no particular order.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
How close was Jacob Morris to making this list? Seems like some great tools and MLB-type body, although definitely raw.

Nathan Rode: The last high schooler to make this 100 was No. 55 on the HS list. Morris was No. 58. He has good speed and is very athletic, but there is question about him switch-hitting. He has more power from the right side, which is natural for him. From the left he's a spray hitter. The question is will he make enough consistent contact to be able to utilize his speed from the left side and put pressure on the defense. Some would probably disagree, but I don't think so. He still makes for an intriguing athlete even if he is R-R.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
GOing of last year's list, Brooks and Cohen from UCLA would have projected to be pretty high picks, but both took steps back this past year. Any chance of either of them going in the 5-10 round range, or higher?

Aaron Fitt: Absolutely there's a chance — both just need to have bounce-back years. Clearly, it's in there with Gavin Brooks — people have seen a lefty up to 96 in the past with promising secondary stuff. And Cohen's a much better hitter than he was this spring. I think with both of these guys, the key is the mental part of it. A number of UCLA players seemed to struggle under the weight of expectations last year, but that doesn't mean their talent evaporated. Heck, if it all comes together, I could see Gavin Brooks being a first-round pick. But he's got a lot to prove before we can even think about that.

 Q:  Nick from Old Greenwich, CT asks:
Everyone says Strasburg is as good or better than David Price. Would you say he gets to the majors as fast as Price did?

John Manuel: Hard to compare since they are LHP and RHP, but Strasburg throws harder and has better fastball command at a similar stage. I'd give Price an edge for breaking ball and better athletic ability. The easier comp for Strasburg is Mark Prior as a RHP from the San Diego area with a similar pitching mix and similar bodies. Strasburg doesn't have Prior's calves, and hopefully he won't have Mark's awful injury luck. (Keep Hee Seop Choi away from Stephen Strasburg!) One scout I talked to last spring about Strasburg & Prior thought Strasburg had even better fastball and breaking ball command than Prior, and the command is what always set Prior apart. Plus, he has more velo. So he's a special prospect, and probably a better one than Price based on the fastball command, for me.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
I can understand Tate being the top OF, but why is Kentrail Davis behind Brian Goodwin as well? Davis tore up the SEC and then was Team USA's best player? Who would you compare Tate to?

Matt Blood: Tate is the top outfielder and rightfully so. He is 5-tool talent very similar to that of Carlos Beltran (if he only hit righthanded). The comparison of Goodwin to Davis is interesting, but to me the answer seems clear. Davis is a left field only (defensive liability) prospect. He is also an injury risk. Davis does have an electric bat, but when comparing him to Goodwin it is very similar. Goodwin plays center field very well, runs better and has a higher ceiling at the plate. Goodwin is still somewhat raw, and as he learns to use his body more, could add some substantial pop in his swing.

 Q:  macy from California asks:
Blake Smith from Cal. Will he go in the draft as pitcher or outfielder?

Aaron Fitt: It really, truly could go either way — think Mike Moustakas. My gut says he winds up as a power-hitting right fielder with a cannon.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
How much are scouts going to want to get a taste of Ackley in center this spring, and is he going to be able to after the TJ surgery?

John Manuel: It all depends on his elbow's health but it sounds like he's going to play first base based on fall practice. He could always try to move as a pro, with more time for his arm to heal. Jeremy Reed is a recent example of a guy who played a lot of 1B as a college player, didn't hit for power, then has become a plus defender in pro ball. Of course Reed also has not hit enough to be a regular; I believe Ackley is far superior to Reed as a pure hitter.

Moderator: Quick apology from John, I think I answered a question twice. These kids today with their fancy ways to work around our chat software . . .

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
I really like what I saw of Purke in LA and Chicago this summer and it sounds like the velo has room to grow a tick, sell me on Matzek being the better prospect right now.

Matt Blood: This is an argument that will go back and forth between scouts all spring. Matzek and Purke are both tremendous lefties, however, I like Matzek a little better because of his clean mechanics/delivery and use of four quality pitches. Purke's fastball probably does have a little more velo in its ceiling and his slider is a hard sweeper (very tough on lefties). When discussing the two, I typicall refer to Brian Matusz and Andrew Miller. Matzek reminds me of Matusz with his four pitch mix and pitchability. Purke reminds me of Miller (with a little less height) in his good fastball, sweeping slider and low arm slot. The moral of the story, these two are next and neck. Choosing between them will be a tough task.

 Q:  Adam from LSU asks:
Does LSU's middle infield with LeMahieu and Schimpf rate as the tops in the nation? Who's is better? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: It's LSU, and it's not even close. I would rank Rice (Rick Hague and Brock Holt) pretty high on this list also.

 Q:  Jerry from California asks:
Baseball america did a piece on Jeff Malm awhile back, do you see him being a possible first round guy?

Matt Blood: Malm is a nice prospect and an excellent hitter, but I do not see him slipping into the first round. He should be a good draft, especially if a team falls in love with the bat. However, he is a first base only prospect that doesn't have quite the thunder in the bat you'd like to see from a first rounder.

 Q:  Chad from MA asks:
If Robert Stock has an great year, is he back in the first round? P.S. Matt, you're not from the same town as Rick Asadoorian, are you?

Matt Blood: It seems as if Stock's skills have regressed since his last draft year. If he is able to put together a great year in 2009, teams will definitely notice, but I doubt we'll see him in the first round come June. Getting personal...I didn't grow up in Mass., but some of my immediate family is from there.

 Q:  Jared from Northeast Ohio asks:
How about some love for some Midwest and Northern schools? Do you see Kent State pitchers Kyle Smith or Brad Stillings going in the first round? Who else from the north, if anyone, do you see with first round potential?

Aaron Fitt: We've got Stillings at No. 51 on our combined list right now, which would put him in the top half of the second round. He's got first-round stuff and a first-round frame, however, and if he improves his command (particularly of his secondary stuff) it's easy to see him jumping into the first round. Smith has not developed quite as quickly as hoped, but he also has immense upside — he's been a big-time projection guy since his prep days. We'll see what kind of progress he makes this spring, but I see him in the third-round range right now (he was No. 55 on our college top 100). The big mover and shaker up North this summer/fall has been Long Island's James Jones, an athletic two-way player with a loose arm who has run his fastball up to 95 mph from the left side. He might end up being draftest the highest of any of these players.

 Q:  Shane from Miami asks:
What are your thoughts on Austin Maddox, does he project better at catcher, or similar to Ethan Martin, by draft day will he be seen as a higher upside pitcher?

Matt Blood: When I think of Austin Maddox, a toolshed of ability comes to mind. Already a beast of a prospect, Maddox can really throw, has big power at the plate and can affect a game in many ways (offensively, defensively and on the mound). My bet for Maddox is he will end up as a position player. He has a chance to be a real threat at the plate in the middle of a big league lineup. Also, with some work, he could tighten up his body and possibly become an even better catcher. There is no question that he has the arm strength to play at catcher or any position for that matter. Maddox is a guy that if he is able to show a little more playability with his tool set, he will jump up boards in June.

 Q:  Kyle from Fort Lauderdale asks:
You mentioned the college bats for 2010 and Matt Harvey as one of the top arms, does Kyle Blair rank above Harvey?

Aaron Fitt: I like Harvey the most of the arms in that class, but Blair is on the short list right behind him, along with Barret Loux, Drew Pomeranz and Brandon Workman, then Drew Storen, Chad Bettis, Chris Hernandez and Evan Danieli. There are plenty of other intriguing arms in that class, but those are the ones that jump out to me most.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
How close was Louisville's Chris Dominguez to making the list? Where do you see him going in the draft? Whom's game does he most resemble?

John Manuel: Dominguez is going to be all over some draft boards. He cut down his strikeouts significantly from 2007 to 2008, he still hit for power and he crushed three homers in a game in the Cape, tying a record. He's got a huge power arm, and if you draft him and he fails to hit, he can try to work out as a pitcher. But there are just so many scouts we've talked to who don't believe in his ability to make consistent contact, so that's why he's lower on our college list and not on the combined top 100. He's got a chance to move way up because of his power tools if he makes more consistent contact in the spring; some scouts will probably always doubt his hitting ability though.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
If Tanner Scheppers is healthy once again, where do you see him landing in the draft? Top 15? Bottom 15? Supplemental First Round?

John Manuel: He was No. 10 on our draft board in mid-May, and the '08 draft was stronger than '09. So he could definitely be top 15 if he shows he's healthy and he shows similar stuff to what he was pre-injury, which was 92-94 fastball, touching higher regularly, with improving secondary stuff and athleticism.

 Q:  Tanner from Campbell, MD asks:
If you were the Mariners drafting today do you take the more ready ML arm in Alex White or potentially go higher ceiling with HSer Tyler Matzek? OR would you go with the more ready bat at a premium position in Grant Green?

Matt Blood: If I'm the Mariners, I take White. He is the second rated prospect in this class. White has ridiculous stuff and also showed tremendous makeup/competitive nature in the NCAA tournament this past summer. White is a combination of safe bet and high ceiling prospect, as he has room to get even better. Matzek and Green would also be nice picks, but I wouldn't be comfortable selecting them, knowing that White was available.

 Q:  Rich from Purchase, NY asks:
Hi fellas, thanks for the chat. How do you justify Ryan Jackson's high ranking when he has yet to prove himself with wood? I know he is advanced with the glove, but he didn't hit very well for Hyannis in '07 nor with Team USA in '08. No doubt hitting in a lineup with Alonso, Weeks, and Sobolewski helped him at Miami last spring. Or does this just show how thin the 2008 draft class is for shortstops? Who would you compare him to in the pros? An Adam Everett type?

Aaron Fitt: I know I answered this earlier but it never got posted, so here's an abbreviated second attempt. Jackson's bat has always been the question with him, and you're right that he still needs to prove he can hit with wood. I don't think anyone projects him to be an above-average hitter down the line, but he is improving (his OPS jumped .300 from his freshman year to his sophomore year) and I believe he'll be an adequate enough offensive player to justify keeping his outstanding glove in the lineup every day. He is in that Everett/Alex Gonzalez mold. There's plenty of value in those types of players, especially in a draft so thin on quality shortstops.

 Q:  Dan from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Im a big UCSB fan. Any chance of Ford, Hollands or Gardner creeping into the top 100 by next June?

Aaron Fitt: Those are three of my favorite West Coast sleepers. I see Mario Hollands, in particular, as a guy who could jump up lists — he's a 6-foot-5 lefty with a very good arm, but he's got plenty of leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore. Joe Gardner, a righty, is also lean and projectable at 6-foot-5, and he was very good in the Alaska league this summer. If he can tighten up his slider to go along with his excellent sinker, he could definitely rocket up draft boards as well.

 Q:  Ryan from Havre de Grace, MD asks:
It's early, but it looks like Strasburg & White are locks to go in the top 4 picks. Is there really any chance that guys like Aaron Crow & Dustin Ackley, maybe even Donovan Tate, improve their stock enough to bump Green down to #5 (my Orioles)? Could signability help Green drop to us?

Aaron Fitt: I think it's much more likely that Green goes No. 2 than No. 5. I wouldn't rule it out — he could have a down spring, or get hurt, or maybe just get passed by somebody else — but he's the best all-around position player in this draft, and I doubt he'll last until No. 5.

 Q:  Delroy from NY asks:
How good is Ryan Schimpf? Is he a legit prospect?

Aaron Fitt: He most certainly is a prospect — he ranked No. 1 on our Valley League top prospects list. Don't overlook Schimpf just because he's undersized — he has very quick wrists and generates plenty of bat speed, plus he has a mature offensive approach and is a steady defender at second base. Nice package there.

 Q:  Auggie from Anaheim asks:
In this area we hear a lot about Matt Davidson but he didn't rank as high as i would have expected, especially after his summer on the showcase circuit. What are your thoughts on him?

Nathan Rode: Matt has a pro body and is a good hitter with above-average power. He struggled in his junior season at the plate and has tried to prove he belongs in first-round discussions again. He has good makeup as he recognized he just cruised this spring and wasn't properly focused. He's worked on that through the showcase season and has rebounded some. The question with him is defense. Staying at third may be a stretch for him and it's a possibility he'll move to first base. If that happens, the bat will have to carry him.

 Q:  Jude from RI asks:
Where would Josh Fields rank on this list if he played for the Indy's?

Aaron Fitt: I haven't consulted the other members of our staff on this, but I personally would rank Fields behind Jason Stoffel, but ahead of Ben Tootle. I fully expect Fields to sign with the Mariners sometime this winter, however.

 Q:  Matt from Colorado Springs, Colo. asks:
What type of stuff does Shelby Miller have, what is his ceiling and is it possible that he could go to someone like the Rockies?

Matt Blood: Shelby Miller has possibly the best fastball of any prepster in the 2009 class. Miller pitched easily at 92-94 mph during his outings in Jupiter last week. His fastball is downhill, explosive and deceptive. Miller is blessed with the perfect pitcher's frame and a loose/clean arm. If Miller is to slip into the Rockies' draft slot at no. 11, he will need to improve the consistency on his breaking ball and changeup. However, there is no doubting the arm strength and quality of the big league fastball.

 Q:  Tim from Bloomington, IL asks:
I see there is no love for the Missouri Valley. Who are the best prospects I can watch when they come to ISU?

Aaron Fitt: Not an incredibly exciting group of prospects in the MVC this year, but the best in my mind is Wichita State outfielder Ryan Jones, who ranked No. 50 on our college list, just missing our overall top 100. He's a live athlete with good speed who I believe will start to hit for some power at some point. Other MVC guys to keep an eye on are Darin Ruf of Creighton, Tim Clubb and Buddy Baumann of Missouri State, Collin Brennan of Bradley, Nick Kirk of Northern Iowa and Tim Kelley of Wichita.

Aaron Fitt: OK everyone, that's my last question for today. Thanks for stopping by!

 Q:  Marc from NY asks:
Who do you guys consider the best combo of power/batting avg for a High School bat in this years crop?

Matt Blood: I would have to go with the player we have listed as the top positional prospect: Donavan Tate. He has shown the raw power and leverage in his swing to hit homeruns at the next level. The question for me is whether he will hit for a high average. He has a tendency to struggle with breaking balls and does need to work on his approach. Another guy I will mention is Brian Goodwin. The opposite of Tate, I think Goodwin will hit for a high average (as speed/hitting from the left side will keep him out of slumps). Power is the question mark with him, but I project that he will learn to hit homeruns as he matures.

 Q:  Matt from Colorado Springs, Colo. asks:
In the top 25 list from several weeks ago, Jacob Turner was the first high school RHP listed, on this list however, Shelby Miller is listed before Turner. Why?

Matt Blood: Fair question, but there is an answer. While we are big fans of Turner here at BA, Miller showed up at the Jupiter WWBA showcase and dominated. His fastball was as good as any heater seen this summer. We felt Miller had to make a jump, and he ended up landing right in front of Turner.

Moderator: That's all for today folks. Thanks for stopping by with good questions!