Draft Report Cards Chat

Jim Callis and John Manuel answered your questions




Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
I'm rather intrigued by this Eric Thames guy. What kind of power are we talking about here? Could he start the year at Lansing?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Hi, everyone. John will be along in a while, so I'll take questions related to the teams I reported on (the bulk of the AL, minus the Twins and Yankees, plus the Cubs and Dodgers), and then John can finish up with his clubs . . . Thames is interesting. He's got a lot of raw power and came out of nowhere at Pepperdine this year, tore a quad at the end of the season and has yet to make his pro debut for the Jays. It's potential plus game power, and yes, he should start at Lansing. Could be a steal in the seventh round, but there were questions about him too, which is why he went that low.

 Q:  jason from fort smith, ar asks:
what is justin smoak's eta in arlington? what kind of production do you think he will ultimately give?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Smoak may be ready in little more than a year, and I guess the Rangers will make room by putting him at first base and shifting Chris Davis to DH, unless they want to see if Davis can handle third base again. Davis was rough at the hot corner. Smoak will hit for average with big power and Gold Glove defense. A steal at No. 11, and I would have taken him over Yonder Alonso (who went No. 7), though I do like Alonso.

 Q:  Baker from Riverside asks:
How good can the White Sox 3B Brent Morel be? He was seemed to come out of nowhere but has some serious tools. Are he, Danks and Beckham a three-headed monster for the future? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Morel was a third-rounder out of Cal Poly, which quietly but consistently produces solid pro prospects. He's pretty interesting. I'm not as sold on Jordan Danks as part of a monster trio. He's athletic, but he never has hit for power. I really liked the Gordon Beckham pick at No. 8 overall—great fit for the White Sox.

 Q:  Austin from Tucson, AZ asks:
Between Perry, Jacobson, Satterwhite and Green, who makes it to Majors first?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Ryan Perry. I think he has the best stuff and is the most reliable performer in that group. The Tigers could pull a Brandon Morrow with Perry, getting him to the majors quickly as a reliever and later making him a starter.

 Q:  John from Pensacola, FL asks:
With MLB's new draft rules failing to curb signing bonuses, is there any chance of a return to the old rules and the draft and follow process?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think you'll see the old rules or the draft-and-follow. They may not have curbed bonuses, but teams are happy with the increased compensation for failing to sign premium picks, plus the signing deadline. I think there's a very good chance you'll see an earlier signing deadline in the new CBA, and a chance that we'll see some form of official slotting.

 Q:  JY from NYC asks:
How does the Mariners draft stack up against the rest of the pack? Where would they be if they had come to terms with Fields and picks nine through eleven?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Mariners' draft didn't blow me away. I don't criticize them for taking Fields in the first round—there was no obviously superior talent they passed up. But even if they sign him, I find it hard to get excited about a lot of these guys past Fields and second-round slugger Dennis Raben.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Who plays CF for the Twins, Hicks or Revere?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Long term, I believe it will be Hicks. He's a better defender and more instinctive than Revere.

 Q:  Mike from Chicago asks:
Do you think the Cubs have anybody that could blossom into a super prospect or are the players in the draft cards just decent prospects?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs draft was fine but not necessarily laden with superstars. I see first-rounder Andrew Cashner more as a reliever than a starter in the long run. I do like SS Ryan Flaherty (sandwich round), but he's more of a solid regular than a star and probably not a SS. The sleeper is RHP Jay Jackson (ninth round), who could move fast and has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter. He's a steal.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Should there be any concern on behalf of the Rays for Beckham's showing?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Not at all. First-year stats don't mean much, and even if they did, you'd have to consider that he was facing older competition in the Appy League (the Rays don't have a complex-based team) and that he finished strong. Still looks like a shortstop who can have four plus tools to go with average speed once he's a finished product.

 Q:  Brett from Mount Prospect, IL asks:
If Steven Strasburg were in this draft, where would he have gone? Better pro prospect, Posey or Strasburg?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Interesting question. Strasburg is the favorite to go No. 1 overall in 2009 on talent alone, but he's also advised by Scott Boras. I think it's possible the Rays would have stuck with Tim Beckham and the Pirates would have stuck with Pedro Alvarez (another Boras guy). The Royals love Eric Hosmer at No. 3, as do I, but they might have popped Strasburg there. Strasburg has more superstar potential than Posey, but Posey is a surer thing, so pick your poison there. I'd probably take Strasburg, but it's tough to find catchers like Posey, too.

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
How disappointed were the A's to get stuck with Jemile Weeks after Smoak went one pick before them?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The A's drafted Smoak out of high school, and he would have been a tremendous value at No. 12. Not sure the A's would publicly say they would have taken Smoak over Weeks, but I'm thinking they would have. I do think they were determined to take a college up-the-middle athlete unless someone fell to them, and Weeks was the best available.

 Q:  Mark from Davis asks:
Where do you ultimately see Casey Kelly playing in Boston and how well will he do?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Though he wants to play shortstop and has yet to pitch, I think he'll wind up as a pitcher. He may do some of each in 2009. As a shortstop, he has a chance to be a Khalil Greene type with some power and good defense, but he may not hit for a high average and could frustrate you with some of his at-bats at times. As a pitcher, he has a low-90s fastball that should add velocity and already is an out pitch with his command, life and feel for changing speeds, and his curveball is a hammer. He's a potential frontline starter, and the Red Sox thought he was the most advanced high school pitcher in the draft.

 Q:  Mark from Davis asks:
Is David Cooper going to be a middle of the order force in the future, or will his lack of power prevent him from being truly great?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I like Cooper's bat a lot, but I wouldn't call him "great." I think he'll hit for a high average with average power, which will make him effective but not a superstar as a first baseman/DH.

 Q:  Ross from CA asks:
Hey guys, love the draft grades every year. Was curious which Division as a whole had the best draft?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Interesting question. I might have to go with the AL Central. We ranked the Royals and Twins among the top five drafts, the Indians weren't far behind, and the Tigers and White Sox added some interesting players.

 Q:  Santino from Anaheim asks:
Did Kyle Russell make any inroads in cutting down his K's? He looks like plus power, but is he the next Bye Bye Balboni?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Kyle Russell was Kyle Russell, hitting for power and still striking out a lot. I don't think he'll ever hit for a high average or make a ton of contact, but he has legit power and I think he'll reach the big leagues. He's better than Balboni, a good athlete who can play a solid right field.

 Q:  Chris from Hoboken, NJ asks:
How soon before every major league club kicks themselves for not drafting Tim Melville?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think teams will rue letting him go to the fourth round, where he signed for $1.25 million, which is in line with his talent. He wasn't lights out out of the gate in the spring, but that's not uncommon for a Midwest pitcher in cold weather. Maybe he wasn't the best high school pitcher in the draft, but if not, he wasn't far from it.

 Q:  Corey from KC asks:
What kind of year do you expect from Hosmer next season, and will KC send him to Burlington to start the year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm sure Hosmer will follow the Mike Moustakas development path and head to the Midwest League, and it wouldn't surprise me if he tore up the MWL and earned a promotion before season's end. Hosmer has such easy, easy power that it won't shock me if he becomes a .300/40 HR guy in time.

 Q:  Brett from The ILL asks:
What kind of player can Devaris Gordon become? He's so thin and missed his college season, so what can we expect next year and beyond?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Dodgers love his athleticism. He has a ways to go because he's raw, but his ceiling is as a high-average hitter, legit stolen-base threat and dynamic shortstop. Nice package.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Which 1st rounder do you see making it to the Majors first?
 A: 

Jim Callis: LHP Brian Matusz with the Orioles. Sandwich-rounder Conar Gillaspie already has played with the Giants.

 Q:  Chad from MA asks:
Hindsight is 20/20: Would the Red Sox or Yankees have taken Tim Melville in the first round over Kelly and Cole if they knew Melville would sign?
 A: 

Jim Callis: All 30 teams knew Melville was signable for mid-first-round money. The Red Sox loved Kelly, and I think they would have taken him over Melville. The Yankees obviously would prefer a signed Melville to an unsigned Cole, but if both guys were willing to sign, I think they would have opted for Cole.

 Q:  Harry from RI asks:
Why did it take so long for Danks to sign?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Because he signed for well over slot money in the seventh round, and MLB wants teams to wait until close to the deadline to announce such deals, even if the terms are agreed upon shortly after the draft.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
What are the chances that Kenny Wilson learns how to hit?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He looked very raw in his debut in the GCL, but the Jays remain optimistic. He worked on switch-hitting in instructional league, which they hope will enhance his chances.

 Q:  Brett from The ILL asks:
Where do you expect Rashun Dixon to start out next season, and what do you expect from him?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Dixon is a tremendous athlete with a lot of upside, but he's also raw and will need some time. The A's probably will send him to the Midwest League, but it also wouldn't shock me if they kept him in extended spring training and then shipped him to the Northwest League.

 Q:  Victor from San Diego asks:
Smoak over Alonso, would you have taken him over Hosmer too?
 A: 

Jim Callis: No, I would have taken Hosmer.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
In terms of ceiling, do you see Kyle Lobstein in the same light as other low level Rays' arms such as Alex Cobb and Nick Barnese?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Barnese and Cobb are two different guys for me, actually. I think Barnese has better stuff and is a cut above Cobb, who has solid stuff and pitchability. Lobstein's stuff leveled off in his senior year, but he's a lefty and it was still fine. If he gets back to where he was in the summer before his senior year, he could be better than Barnese.

 Q:  TB Rays Fan from Tampa asks:
Wow, we don't get the #1 pick next year? Amazing. Who would you say is the biggest sleeper in the 08 draft pool for our team?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Either projectable high school righthander Jason McEachern (13th round) or California RHP Matt Gorgen (16th round), who could move quick as a reliever.

 Q:  Mark from Baltimore asks:
Do you think that Xavier Avery could be the CF of the future for the O's if Adam Jones doesn't workout? His speed could always be used in the lineup. I am glad he passed up football for baseball
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Adam Jones will work out, and as a Georgia grad, I'm not glad that he passed up playing running back for the Bulldogs. Avery was one of the best athletes in the draft, but will need some time to add some polish at the plate.

 Q:  Navin from Pasadena, CA asks:
Can Matt Cerda stick at catcher?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Cubs are pleased with his progress so far. He has plus arm strength and the hands to be a good receiver.

Moderator: John's finally back from lunch and here to answer some Q's on the NL clubs, the Yanks and Twins.

 Q:  Brad from Warrensburg asks:
Is it true that the Royals had a predraft deal with Jason Esposito for 1.5 mil that he later turned down? Had signability not been a factor where would he have been drafted?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm not sure how firmed up the deal was, but the Royals took him in the seventh round thinking he would sign for seven figures. We didn't see him being quite that kind of player, and I've asked several other clubs but haven't found one who thought he was more than a third- to fifth-round talent at this point. Obviously, the Royals really liked him.

 Q:  Harry from RI asks:
Sorry, I meant earlier, why did Danks have to be drafted three times before he eventually signed?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He was dead-set on attending Texas so he wasn't going to sign out of high school. This is only the second time he was drafted.

 Q:  Tony from Toronto asks:
Did teams see Ryan Westmoreland as a top 10 or so talent, i.e., was his signing bonus commensurate with his ability leaving aside questions of market efficiency.
 A: 

Jim Callis: The players in the Northeast are always the hardest to get a read on. Westmoreland was one of the best athletes in the draft, and unlike a lot of top athletes, he has a relatively advanced bat as well. I think he increased his value with his strong play over the summer for the Bayside Yankees, and his strong commitment to Vanderbilt also drove his price up.

 Q:  HoustonTeams4Me from Houston asks:
Who would you say has the most power out of the first round hitter's (Alvarez,Hosmer,Smoak, etc.)?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'd go with Pedro Alvarez.

 Q:  Ross from CA asks:
When assessing drafts which do you value more: college polish or high school future potential?
 A: 

Jim Callis: What they bring to the table in terms of tools and skills and their likelihood of reaching their ceiling. I don't care where they come from.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
I was expecting more enthusiasm for the Pirates' draft, especially after they managed to ink some of their signability risks like Grossman, Freeman, and Miller. Was losing out on Scheppers really that big of a blow?
 A: 

John Manuel: Finally here, thanks for waiting, I trust Jim kept you company. The Pirates' draft (a) lacks an impact arm other than Quinton Miller, though I do like Justin Wilson some, and (b) Pedro Alvarez signed so late, so acrimoniously and then showed up for instructional league in less than tip-top shape. Greg Smith said he expected Alvarez to have a lower body fat percentage for spring training; read in between the lines, and Pedro showed up fat for fall instructs. Maybe I shouldn't read too much into that, but that's pretty far from OK, to paraphrase Marcellus Wallace. I do think not signing a second-round pick, a college guy with the kind of arm Scheppers has shown, was a blow. The rest of the draft just didn't blow me away either, with no sure-thing as a bat after Alvarez.

 Q:  Daniel from NYC asks: from NYC asks:
With the plate discipline that Yonder Alonso has shown will he be the best overall hitter ( Power/ average) to emerge from this draft class?
 A: 

John Manuel: He could be; I don' think he has the combination of hitting for average and power that Alvarez, Smoak and, say, Eric Hosmer have, but he walked twice as much as he struck out at Miami the last 2 years, and still managed to hit 20-plus bombs this season. He's short to the ball, keeps the bat through the zone a long time and has a nice, high finish. He's going to hit, I think the Q is how many home runs. .300-.400.-.550 seems like it's possible for him to achieve fairly consistently.

 Q:  Ed from Minneapolis asks:
What is your take on the Yankee draft. Obviously, not signing Cole and the injured Bittle did not help them. But how did they do by signing above slot picks Marshall, Higashioka, Mitchell, Richardson, Lassiter and Turley as well as their slotted picks Bleich and Corban Joseph. Would you possibly give them a 'C'?
 A: 

John Manuel: Lots of these Q's. I'll take a couple of Yanks-related questions. The best the Yanks could do with this draft is to salvage it; Gerrit Cole is a special arm, period. There was not another Gerrit Cole in this draft. He was the hardest thrower in the prep ranks, and there's only one of those every year. Bleich is fine, Joseph is already a 2B (and they drafted Adams as a 2b a round ahead of him), Lassiter has upside, and so does Turley, but Turley doesn't make up for Cole. The Yankees' draft hinges on Marshall, Higashioka, Mitchell and the above-slotters. Marshall to me kind of is the key to the whole deal. It might be a C; I just did their top 10, and it's not the best Yanks top 10 I've done in terms of talent, and no one from the '08 draft class is in the top 10.

 Q:  Chris from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
John Manuel points out in the Braves Report Card that raw prep players are getting tougher to sign. Why is this the case? I'm wondering because there has been lots of talk that the NCAA is making it tougher for college coaches to give scholarships. Are these issues unrelated?
 A: 

John Manuel: Teams are doing a better job assessing signability, so the high school players they really want, they are getting in the first three rounds. But colleges also are doing a better job selling players on the idea of, come to school, and three years from know you'll get more than they're offering you out of high school. I think it's a good thing that more players are going to college, in the grand scheme of things. The NCAA isn't making it tougher to give scholarships, they're just dictating the size of scholarships. So far, that wasn't enough to keep real talents such as Andy Burns and Alex Meyer and those kinds of guys away from college. In the past, a guy like Burns would have probably signed in the fifth round, after entering the year as a candidate for the back of the first round. Now players like him see college as a more viable option, and I think the reason for that is college baseball's increased visibility, better facilities, more players drafted out of college today, etc.

 Q:  Kyle from VA asks:
Who was the Yanks next best choice behind Cole in the first?
 A: 

John Manuel: I like Jeremy Bleich; he was just coming back from injury when our draft preview came out, so his scouting report in our draft database is a bit shy. His changeup hasn't been as advertised yet, it hasn't quite been plus in instructs and Hawaii Winter Baseball according to those I've talked to, but his curve is plus, change at least avg. with plus potential, and the fastball's firm. If he's healthy, he's a lot like Ian Kennedy only lefthanded, and I think he can be a third or fourth starter. I'm a fan. I'm a bit wary of the elbow. I also like Kyle Higashioka in that draft class but wonder why the Yanks went after him with all their other Cs, especially after drafting Romine and Weems last year.

 Q:  Tony from Toronto asks:
If the draft were held today, which 2-3 players would have played themselves into to the first round (not taking into account signing bonuses)?
 A: 

John Manuel: Neat question. I wonder how many teams had Jaff Decker higher on their draft board than Allan Dykstra. Considering Dykstra's hip issue, I like Decker better, and I'm wondering just how big the difference is between Decker and, say, Travis Snider. I think Snyder has more raw power, but Decker's darn good. Other guy who jumps to mind is Craig Kimbrel of the Braves; four college closers went in the first round in Josh Fields, Carlos Gutierrez, Ryan Perry & Dan Schlereth, and Kimbrel sounds as good (or better) than they do in some regards. He can bring it.

 Q:  Ulysses from Erie, PA asks:
Biggest overdraft this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: On draft day I would have said Jordan Lyles and Evan Frederickson. Both guys had huge workouts, and that's why they got picked much higher than the consensus draft slot. The majority of teams had Lyles in as a sixth-to-10th round guy, and at that spot, it would be hard to buy him away from South Carolina. The Astros had a good workout with him and he showed well in the Appy League. Frederickson had a bit of a dead arm after signing, and his track record of success is short — very short. I'd say Frederickson has edged Lyles a bit at this point. To me, the other guy to mention is Joshua Fields. What the heck is going on there? He's a 6-foot, 160-pound, 23-year-old college closer. Only reason to take him 20th overall is to sign him immediately and send him up the ladder quick. Once that didn't happen, he immediately became a pretty poor pick in my eyes. He's got electric stuff, but wow, the ceiling's limited because he doesn't throw enough strikes to close, and he's turned down the hometown Braves (2nd round in '07) and now is still unsigned. What's the point? I don't get that one.

 Q:  Tony from Toronto asks:
Is there anything to the theory that the Rockies shouldn't be drafting guys like Christian Friedrich that rely on their breaking stuff to pitch at altitude? It's not that long ago that Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle were signed.
 A: 

John Manuel: There may be something to that, but I don't think Friedrich is a soft-tosser either. It's a 50 fastball with two 60 breaking balls, and he's also got some savvy. Also, those signings were pre-humidor. It's still tough to spin a ball at altitude—which is why I love prospects like Tyler Sample or Stephen Fife who show the ability to do that as amateurs.

 Q:  Nick from Eugene asks:
2 part Padres question/comment for you....What kind of letter grade would you assign to the Padres draft this year, it seems they added a ton of depth w/ position players/will they rank in the top 8/10/15 when minor league rankings come out? Also, how bout a little more love for Daniel Robertson...the kid has 4 solid tools (Hitting, Arm, Defense, Speed) w/ very good makeup, leadership skills, and hustle....if I told you that and you couldn't look at the roster and his size I think you'd be talking about him a bit more.
 A: 

John Manuel: You are too optimistic on the Padres. I am a huge Decker fan, and James Darnell was a nice, nice find where they got him. I like Blake Tekotte's chances. Otherwise, I'm not a huge fan of this draft. Not a lot of pitching; over-emphasis on power and college players led to a ton of 1B-types, when their top MLB player is Gonzalez. I think they devalued some of their own players. The pitching is the most underwhelming part of the draft. And Dykstra's hip issue sounds like a significant one. I love college baseball but not as much as the Padres do, and I just think drafting 90 percent college isn't the best way to do it at this time.

 Q:  Suprdav20 from La Porte, Tx asks:
How quickly will Castro move through the Astros farm system & how soon do you think we will see him up in the bigs?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's primed to move quickly because of his athletic ability; I think we undersold him a hair going into the draft, his stock kept rising. He'll probably get to Houston by 2010; he's a C so he'll need a year, I think, to get used to calling his own pitches, etc.

 Q:  Dave from Detroit asks:
Do you think Brandon Crawford will start in Augusta next year, and what does he need to show to get his 2007 mojo back in the eyes of the scouts?
 A: 

John Manuel: Probably Augusta, but it's not just '07 mojo, he needs to show he can make consistent contact. The other tools are there. He's a legit shortstop. He's a good athlete (not great, but good) with a huge arm. I wonder if the Giants took him and somewhere Dick Tidrow was twirling his mustache just waiting to get his hands on another big-time arm like Crawford's so he can convert him to the mound. I was a believer in Crawford's bat, but his track record is pretty poor. He has ALWAYS struck out a lot — UCLA, Cape, didn't matter.

 Q:  Mike from Oceanport, NJ asks:
Can you explain to me why the Yankees continue to draft low-ceiling infielders like David Adams? They already have Cano at 2B, who should be there for the next decade. Even at his best, Adams doesn't look like anything more than a decent regular. The Yankees could simply sign a guy like that as a FA, so why waste development time on that? Why not choose a high-ceiling arm in that spot?
 A: 

John Manuel: Because Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, who fit the description you're talking about, have been kicking their butt the last couple of years. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I see your point, and it's a valid one. I think the Yankees are still taking their usual big, physical pitchers as they have in the past. But they are broadening their scope a bit too. They never would have spent $400k on a 6-foot pitcher like DJ Mitchell in the past. We'll see if the shift works.

 Q:  Bob from Boston from Boston asks:
Can you rate the best teams including the draft and international signings over the last 2 years?
 A: 

John Manuel: Gotta go lightning round: Texas stands out here, by quite a bit. San Francisco also has to be considered with Big V (I know that's 06), last year's draft, this year's and Rafael Rodriguez.

 Q:  Mike from Chicago asks:
Do you see the Rangers Tim Murphy as a Starter or out of the Bullpen
 A: 

John Manuel: He's athletic enough to stay a starter; I'm a fan, could see him being similar to Zito with a bit less curve and more FB and command (due to the athleticism). He needs to long toss with Brandon Crawford to build his arm strength!

 Q:  Jason from Crestview, FL asks:
What is the ceiling of the Pirates picks: Cunningham, Freeman, Grossman? Any chance for an impact athlete?
 A: 

John Manuel: Cunningham's very interesting, he can hit and he's getting his athlete back after the knee injury that virtually wiped out his senior year; great scouting story. Freeman sounds raw but intriguing, but also not like a raw guy with 70s, he's not Wendell Fairley here. Grossman is more solid across the board. Grossman has some polish and athleticism; Freeman will need a lot of time. Cunningham's the best pick for me.

 Q:  Brett from Mount Prospect, IL asks:
No love for Matt Cerda for Most Intriguing Backround? ESPN.com had a nice piece about his matchup with 14 year old Danny Almonte at the LLWS.
 A: 

John Manuel: The Cerda piece was great, plus he also prompted a $500k fine from MLB when the Cubs mishandled the paperwork and had him play before he'd officially signed, plus he's moving from 2B to C. He's very interesting.

 Q:  Paolo Cruz from Tempe, AZ asks:
What are the chances Delmonico can make the transition to catcher?
 A: 

John Manuel: Pretty solid, he's got the build, he has arm strength and he sure ain't no shortstop.

 Q:  john from pa asks:
What is Nik Turley's ceiling and what kind of stuff does throw? I've been reading that he was a good selection by the yankees but if he was so good why did he fall into the 50th round?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's 6-foot-4, nice tall LHP build, plus he's shown some hand speed, so he's got a chance to spin a breaking ball. He's flashed average velo and an average changeup as well in instructs; the Yanks only had 12 pitchers at instructs, and he was one of them, so they think there's something there. He fell to the 50th round because of his BYU commitment, but he's obviously better than a 50th-round talent.

 Q:  Ross from CA asks:
Can you give me 5 players who have 40 HR power from this years draft? Is Roger Kieschnick one of them?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think those days are over, Ross. Roger Kieschnick has 30 homer power if he makes consistent contact; he's a streaky guy, a rhythm hitter whose timing can be upset. But he's really strong and has big raw power, probably top 5-10 of the draft — after Hosmer, Smoak, Alvarez (you can shake up those three in a hat), plus Brett Lawrie, A. Dykstra, G. Beckham, Skipworth and B. Wallace. Ike Davis and David Cooper are in the discussion as well.

 Q:  Matt from Cardiff, UK asks:
How would the top 10 prospects for the 08 draft look now based on what you know now?
 A: 

John Manuel: Another interesting one; looking at our top 10 going into the draft, the only change would for me would be removing Scheppers because of his shoulder injury. I was surprised that Yonder Alonso went ahead of Justin Smoak, and even more surprised he got more money than Smoak. But to me, Smoak's the better prospect because of the switch-hitting. He's not Mark Teixeira — his hit tool is probably a 50, and Tex has been borne out to be a 60 or 65 hitter. But Smoak's power is bigger than Alonso's.

 Q:  Brandon from Charleston asks:
What are your thoughts on the Reds draft?
 A: 

John Manuel: Mixed. I like Alonso, but would prefer Gordon Beckham or Smoak there. I like Carter Morrison and Alex Buchholz, but I'm not sure there's another potential everyday regular after Alonso, the kind of thing that would make it a great draft. I like Sulberan and Zach Stewart and some of the athletes there, but the depth of pitching in the class seems a bit thin here at the outset.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
LJ Hoes looked pretty good in his debut. What sort of player do you see him becoming?
 A: 

John Manuel: Athletic, offensive 2b or possible Ryan Freel-style utility guy who plays a lot of positions. I believe the NBA calls them "energy guys."

 Q:  mark from stockton asks:
Will there be 2 pitchers rhp/lhp from any organization that compare to Cahill/Anderson etc?
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't think anyone got that kind of pair. I like Brad Hand and Blake Brewer in Florida as a sleeper pair, and Atlanta's Zeke Spruill and Tyler Stovall as well. Again, those guys aren't as good as Alderson & Bumgarner or Cahill & Anderson.

 Q:  Steve from Plainfield, IL asks:
Lassiter or Landendorf - who has the higher ceiling and most likely to reach it? Can they both stay at SS?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm going to say Lassiter because he's a lefthanded hitter, better bet to hit, but Ladendorf is ahead with the glove. That jury is out on Lassiter.

 Q:  Ross from CA asks:
Are you impressed with Posey's .500 AVG in HWB this year thusfar? Granted the sample size is somewhat limited and the competition isn't top-notch, but you have to be mildly impressed.
 A: 

John Manuel: Mildly impressed, not terribly surprised, that guy is, in Mike Martin's vernacular, a beautiful hitter.

 Q:  Kevin from San Diego asks:
Best late-round pick in your opinion?
 A: 

John Manuel: Blake Brewer sounds really good, as do Jarek Cunningham (Pirates), but I think I like Trevor Harden (Arizona) and Dexter Carter (White Sox) best.

John Manuel: Since I see no Q's about him, my single favorite pick of the draft, I think, is Brad Holt. I'm way intrigued by the reports we've got, both from within the Mets and outside, of his improved breaking ball, that he flashes a plus, power breaker. He sounds like he might be Mike Pelfrey with a bit less downhill or sink, a better breaking ball and considerably less hype. I bet he makes their draft.

 Q:  Gustavo Gonzalez from Caracas Venezuela asks:
How big was the Houston's mistake on Draft. Choose Jason Castro Above Justin Smoak?
 A: 

John Manuel: Maybe, but Castro's position is a pretty big factor in making the case to take him over Smoak. Houston's franchise player is Lance Berkman, a hometown here, that makes it hard to take a 1B.

 Q:  Mike from Cordele, Ga. asks:
What can you tell me about the Rockies' pick of former Yellow Jackets lhp Charlie Blackmon? He had a nice debut with a bushel of hits and doubles, but is there enough power and/or speed to allow him to play everyday in a major league line-up?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Rockies love this guy — speed, hitting ability, surprising power, he sounds like a CF who just needs more experience to hone his game instincts. He's shown aptitude, athletic ability and now hitting ability. Great pick, and I'm going to throw in that his signing scout was BA alum Alan Matthews.

 Q:  Alex from Philadelphia (Home of the World Series Champs) asks:
John, is Collier the most advanced of the high-ceiling guys the phillies took and does Gose eventually become a pitcher
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes, and perhaps. But the Phils always liked him in CF and as a hitter. If he flops, yes, he can go back to the mound. Man, I am a big, big Collier fan.

 Q:  Brent from Appleton, WI asks:
How do you rank Tim Beckham, Pedro Alvarez, and Brian Matusz four months after the draft? Still that order?
 A: 

John Manuel: No offense to people out of shape, because I'm one of them, but I'd put Matusz ahead of Alvarez right now. I just don't think it speaks well of Pedro's makeup to come to camp unprepared after that situation, plus the questions about him staying at 3b were there anyway, and if he's prone to getting thick or loses some athleticism, then he's a 1b, and why take him over Smoak, or Hosmer?

 Q:  Tony from Toronto asks:
Does Dennis Raben (assuming health) belong in the discussion of power hitters? If so, where?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm not a huge Raben guy, never hit .300 with metal, prone to K's, not sure his usable power is in the realm of the other guys we talked about.

 Q:  Martin from Dallas asks:
How is Ethan Martin's rehab from knee surgery going, and what's your sense of his ceiling and odds of reaching it? Another possible Billingsley/Kershaw type hit?
 A: 

John Manuel: I wouldn't put him in their class just yet, but that might be my ignorance. Those guys have dominant fastballs and plus-plus breakers, doesn't seem like Martin is quite in their class.

 Q:  Ian from Pittsburgh asks:
How does Alvarez compare with Gordon when he was a college prospect.
 A: 

John Manuel: More power, less athleticism, less defense. Gordon more well-rounded but Alvarez's power is a separator. I've asked that question myself to scouts, good question.

 Q:  Pete from Wisconsin asks:
What are your thoughts on the Brewers draft?
 A: 

John Manuel: Jack Z's last draft is a good one to go out on. I'm a huge Lawrie fan and thought Odirizzi was excellent value where they got him, then they threw in athletes like C. Dykstra and Logan Schafer. Seth Lintz and Trey Watten could balance out the draft if they develop as arms. Solid B, maybe B+ if Lawrie is as good as I think. Congrats to Jack Zduriencik for being named Seattle's GM, good hire.

 Q:  Lots o' questions from lots o' places asks:
Do you see Aaron Crow getting picked higher next year than he did this year? who are your biggest sleeper picks from this year's draft, both for pitchers and hitters? Is Anthony Hewitt the hitter's equivilent of Jason Neighborgall? Do you see the Braves' Jacob Thompson getting back to where he was before his junior season? Did his stuff diminish because of his illness or because of other reasons? Where do you see Scott Barnes fitting into the Giants pitching system?
 A: 

John Manuel: Gonna finish here, taking those one by one: • Crow looks like a top 5-7 prospect again, but signability clearly will dictate where he goes. Chance he does go higher though, yes. • Biggest sleeper: I already said Holt but as a supplemental first-rounder, I can't say him. So I'll say Blake Brewer, Marlins, for sleeper pitcher, and Jarek Cunningham, Pirates, for sleeper hitter, along with Gabe Jacobo, who I thought was a steal for the Angels in the 10th round, and Troy Hanzawa, ss, Phillies. I love Troy Hanzawa, he'll be a pro for 10 years if he's healthy and wants to, he can flat pick it at short. I don't see him being a big league regular but he'll have a long career.

 Q:  Brent from Appleton, WI asks:
Jim Callis says he likes Brian Matusz a bit more than Chris Tillman. Do you agree?
 A: 

John Manuel: No because I believe in working off the fastball; Jim always has emphasized secondary pitches more than I have. I'm a fastball and fastball command guy. I'm writing that and it sounds ridiculous, but seriously, I think that's the biggest difference between us in ranking players — I love fastballs, so I liked Volstad and Blackburn more than Jim, and I like Holt more. Jim also is more meticulous and detail-oriented than I am about those things, but that's another show.

Moderator: OK, that's going to have to be it. Lots of good questions left and I apologize for not getting to more. Jim and I both were impressed, but not surprised, by the quality of questions. Thanks to all our subscribers and have a great weekend.