League Top 20 Prospects

Eastern League Chat




Q:  Joe from Delaware asks:
I'm surprised that Jason Donald didn't make the list. I understand that before the season he was rated as utility at best, but after this breakout year he HAD to have climbed the prospect list. A solid middle infielder with pop. I believe he was the best hitter on the Olympic team.
 A: 

John Manuel: Tons of questions already in so I hope I can get to all of them. I appreciate everyone dropping by for a Replacements-powered chat.

John Manuel: Jason Donald was a pretty tough guy to rank. I thought the EL had a very defined top and a very muddled 5-25 range, where a lot of players could have been considered and ranked in any order. Donald is a guy who would rank in the top 10 if anyone I talked to was sold on him as a big league starter at shortstop. But I didn't find that scout or manager. Instead I got a lot of respect for his solid bat, good approach to the game and solid defensive ability, but no one thought of him as a first-division regular. His range is shy at short; at third base, his power's short. At second base, which has evolved into a truly offensive position, he's got a chance to be average. He could be a good fit for Philly, though, if they keep Howard, Utley & Rollins together. You wouldn't need a ton of power at 3b, just a solid player, and that's Donald. He's a sure-fire big leaguer but the consensus is that his upside is limited and that his best profile is as a utility player. Therefore, not a Top 20 guy for me.

 Q:  David Hernandez from Bowie asks:
Why do you hate me?
 A: 

John Manuel: Because you're probably just a middle reliever, and most league observers liked the other pitchers for Bowie, Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken, as better bets. Hernandez is more of a two-pitch guy right now, but at times both are plus, and he actually gets swings and misses with his fastball in addition to his slider. But all three are factors and give good depth to an improving Orioles system. So I guess I DON'T hate you David, I just like others better. I'm trying to teach my four-year-old to accentuate the positive here guys . . .you're not helping!

 Q:  JP from Warrenton, MO asks:
What on earth has happened to Chuck Lofgren? Do you think it is makeup related?
 A: 

John Manuel: Great guy to ask about, but it doesn't sound that pernicious. The scouts I put that question to say it's as simple as his inability to command the fastball. The stuff for the most part is still there, though one scout said, "I've seen him for two years, and each start is just a little bit worse." But he misses to his arm-side, then he overcompensates the other way. It sounds like there's still some hope, but his career now has some serious fade.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Could I get your evaluation of Mike Carp? He seems to have had a yo-yo 2008, but the bat looks to be for real. How about the rest of him?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm not a fan. The bat does not look to be for real, according to scouts and managers I talked to. His bat looks to be for real against bad or mediocre pitching and much less so against LHPs (though he was better this year), and especially less so against good velocity. I couldn't find one scout or manager who liked him frankly, who considered him a regular. He doesn't earn points with his defense or field demeanor either. He had a good year offensively, I'll give him that. But no one I talked to seems to think of him as a big league starter at first base.

 Q:  Kelly from San Francisco, CA asks:
No love for Mark Melancon?
 A: 

John Manuel: Melancon was close to making it. His stuff's still not quite consistent and a grade or so behind that of Bard, the only reliever who made the list. However, I did have a scout who saw Melancon up to 95 mph, which is what he threw pre-TJ, and he has shown power breaking stuff. I strongly considered him; I've been on the Melancon bandwagon since he was at Arizona and always have heard nothing but rave reviews about his makeup. He just didn't quite make the 20; best reason is I thought 20 guys had more upside, that's all.

 Q:  John from Apex, NC asks:
I had Wilkin Ramirez in the 15-18 range based on his tool set, production and ceiling. Seeing most of these guys play during the season, his talent level and potential should have warranted a top 20 ranking. Outside of plate discipline (as he is still only 23) why did he not make your top 20?
 A: 

John Manuel: Ramirez was in the 20 in various iterations but the bottom line for me was he has little or no defensive value, and offensively he's a better hitter than Golson but still not a great hitter, with that K-BB ratio that refuses to improve. They were the last two guys I considered and I ranked Golson based on the information I had, because he's so much better defensively and has a similar offensive profile. Ramirez is clearly the better hitter now, but I'm not convinced he'll be the better hitter in 2-3 years.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Had LaPorta played enough to qualify, where would you have ranked him? Does he have a shot to make the team out of spring training next year?
 A: 

John Manuel: I bet LaPorta would have ranked fifth or sixth had I given it much thought; he was impressive in the playoffs, and I heard great things about him during my Olympics post-mortem calls as well. He's got a great shot at making the Indians at some point next year; Ryan Garko has long been a personal fave but he slugged .404 this year. LaPorta could beat him out at 1b, or earn a corner OF spot. Not like Cleveland is full of great corner OFs, though I always liked Ben Francisco.

 Q:  Randall from Cleveland asks:
Did any other Bowie players just miss the list? Most notably Reimold, Hernandez and Bergesen, who all had great seasons. 21-30 range?
 A: 

John Manuel: Reimold was in that 21-25 mix with Wilkin Ramirez & Jason Donald. Reimold produces, but he's a bit unorthodox, which is why it seems like people are a bit cool on him at first. His power is for real. Hernandez I've touched on; Bergesen and Berken could be fourth or fifth starters with four solid or fringe-average pitches and good command, with Bergesen, the league pitcher of the year, getting the edge. Also, I found a lot of Kam Mickolio interest in the EL, which is understandable since he's such a power arm. He clearly has a lot of command issues and rough edges to iron out if you saw him in the big leagues at all, but he's got a shot to be an interesting middle reliever with his cross-body delivery and velocity. I guarantee that I'm the charter member of the Kam Mickolio fan club outside the states of Montana (where he's from) and Utah (he played at Utah Valley State). Very glad he made the big leagues.

 Q:  Mitchell from NJ asks:
Any Yankee prospects other then AJax get consideration for the Top 20??
 A: 

John Manuel: Several, such as Melancon, as already mentioned, but also Phil Coke, who was quite good in his big league callup and impressed EL scouts by pitching inside aggressively and throwing his fastball, curve and changeup for strikes. In a lesser year in the EL, he might have made the 20, probably a fifth starter but his stuff played up out of the big league bullpen in September. The caveat there is it was September, tough to evaluate guys just off what they did in the majors in September. Anthony Claggett also impressed with is plus slider, and George Kontos showed two average breaking balls, though his velo was down according to the two scouts I talked to, more 88-90 rather than the 92-93 he's shown in the past.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What are your thoughts on Anthony Swarzak and Dustin Martin? Swarzak, in particular, didn't have great stats in the EL but was much better at Rochester.
 A: 

John Manuel: In the previous question, I forgot to mention Aceves for Trenton, an oversight. While he's older he certainly pitched well at all his stops this year and scouts I talked to liked his cutter; he's certainly an option for the Yankees' rotation next year though the consensus was that his upside's that of a fourth or fifth starter.

John Manuel: On the Twins, I got very little interest from EL scouts & manager on Swarzak. Still lacking a third pitch, and his fastball command wasn't great. He was in consideration for the 21-25 range, and I'm not sure what to do with him for the Twins' top 30. I just need more information on him to know what adjustments he made when he went to Triple-A. He missed up a lot with his fastball according to the people I talked to and didn't adjust in Double-A. Martin is unorthodox a bit, he has a line-drive approach and might be a tweener, i.e., lacking power for a corner and being short defensively in CF, but he can hit. Different organization, he'd be a factor, but the Twins have many CF candidates, and I think he's a fourth outfielder for them. He's interesting though and a nice find from the Mets, who drafted him as a college senior. He's a career .295 hitter in the minors now, with some speed and gap power; he's an interesting dude.

 Q:  cliff jordan from chicago,il asks:
Thank goodness Tabata came on late in the year or us Bucs fans would be weeping even more in our Iron City beer. Is there someone in the organization who got to him - a mentor? Also - who does he most resemble among major leaguers now, if all goes well? Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: He really did come on late; thank goodness you actually read the scouting report, Cliff. Sometimes I think people just look at our lists and don't see why we ranked players the way we did. As for a mentor, I think he responded to manager Tim Leiper, who was just let go, so that may not help. Mostly though it's up to Tabata, the talent is still there and the effort certainly was there down the stretch. Frankly I'm not sure whom to compare him to so I'll refrain, but I think it's important to stress how much people banged on him in the first half (one scout: "he was awful," another said, "I didn't like what I saw at all."), and then how much people liked him afterward. He was 19 and failed for the first time, and he handled it like a 19 year old. Now let's see how he handles the offseason and the trade next year. He still has star potential. Tough guy to rank.

 Q:  jeff from NYC asks:
Lets be honest theres no way Hodges stays at 3B is there, he seem like a butcher out there
 A: 

John Manuel: People I talked to thought there was a chance, that it was correctable, but no one was banking what's left of their 401(k) on his ability to stay at 3b. It may not matter; he can really, really hit.

 Q:  mark from cali asks:
chris tillman is a stud. what's his ETA in the big leagues?
 A: 

John Manuel: Depends on him; the Orioles would love to wait until 2010 and be patient with him, and as I've said already, they have other options for stop-gap guys such as Berken, Bergeson, Hernandez, etc. But Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are the guys the big league team's rotation will revolve around 2-4 years down the road, and they should be good enough to be a foundation for a competitive big league team. Nothing really not to like about Tillman for me.

 Q:  Von from Phoenix, AZ asks:
Where does Casper Wells fit in the Tigers plans? Will he be a top 10 prospect for them in the BA publication?
 A: 

John Manuel: What a weird year for Wells; he had spent the bulk of the last two years in the NYP, then was just OK in the Midwest League, but wow, he was pretty impressive in the EL. Ramirez and Dusty Ryan got the most prospect attention from the scouts & managers I talked to, and those guys figure to rank higher than Wells, who I don't see as a Top 10 guy for the Tigers. I have to say I'm skeptical, his EL performance really doesn't fit in with anything he's done since his Towson days, when he was a two-way player.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
The Eastern League is the most loaded this year of any of the 16 leagues that BA ranks: agree or disagree?
 A: 

John Manuel: Disagree, I'd go with the South Atlantic League.

 Q:  Nelson from Tacoma, WA asks:
Reading your report on Travis Snider was interesting. Of the games that I saw on TV, with the Blue Jays, it sure looked like he was going to LF a lot with his swing in the big leagues. Do you see him staying with the Jays out of spring training? He had a great debut for a 20-year old.
 A: 

John Manuel: I was aiming for interesting writing, glad that it dame out that way. He should definitely make that team out of spring training, not sure why he wouldn't as he did have a nice debut. As long as he keeps his body in check, he's got a shot to be a real impact hitter.

 Q:  Steve from Mill Creek, WA asks:
How would you compare Snider and Anderson? Both '06 HS picks with a ton of pop. Do you see Anderson playing in Boston at all in '09?
 A: 

John Manuel: I guess I like Snider better, seeing as I ranked him higher. I don't know that Anderson will be in Boston next year unless Lowell's hip injury lingers. Lowell and Youkilis are pretty good and good defenders, and I don't think Boston has a hole at DH, either. So I see Anderson back at Portland to start next year and then probably in Pawtucket. It will be fun to see how he plays in the cold and damp Portland or Pawtucket weather in April & May.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
Mr. Manuel, thank you for the chat as always. Perhaps his age finds him to be fringy as a prospect, but what are your thoughts on Montanez? I recall his defensive woes early in his career carried over into the rest of his game and shot his confidence; could he legimately be a late-bloomer?
 A: 

John Manuel: Managers in the league liked Montanez; scouts were a bit more skeptical, but he's got a chance to be a good fourth outfielder. Two years ago, he would have gotten a full shot in Baltimore, but now the Orioles have Jones & Markakis and Luke Scott and no real room for Montanez unless he's in the Jay Payton role as the platoon "handcuff," in the fantasy football parlance.

 Q:  willy from pitt asks:
At what point can we forget about F-Mart's age and start expecting him to perform? Next year? The year after? It seems like even if he's young, if he's to be ranked so high year after year, he should have to produce. Do you like him or Wilmer Flores better?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm starting next year; he ranked that high because the scouts I talked to did like him better than they did last year and people do see significant upside with the bat. But at some point, he has to produce. We'll see if he starts in Buffalo. Him vs. Flores is a tough call; Flores has fewer warts right now and has done something Martinez has yet to do, dominate a league. So I'd give an edge to the infielder who seems to have as much upside offensively, if not more.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
What is a reasonable ETA and ceiling for Brett Cecil? Any comps?
 A: 

John Manuel: Cecil could probably start next year in Toronto as a reliever, but he could use more seasoning as a starter honing his fastball command and other pitches. His slider is an equalizer but he also throws the curve. When he works down with the fastball he's quite effective, and he could help as a starter in the second half next year. It's possible he could speed the timetable, especially considering the Jays will be without Marcum and more than likely McGowan to start '09.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
Is Lou Marson in the picture to start next year in Philly? Also, does he comp to Russell Martin?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's athletic, but not as athletic as Russ Martin, who was an infielder and has infielder's hands. Marson's got similar offensive skills though he doesn't run as well as Martin. I just don't like that comparison but maybe I think too highly of Martin, whose power was really down this year. I do think Marson has a shot to be the catcher in Philadelphia next year, at least sharing the job.

 Q:  Bob from Seattle, WA asks:
Seeing Grady Sizemore as the #3 prospect 5-years ago and Travis Snider the #3 pick this year begs this question- How would they compare as players in your mind? Do you see Snider being as or more offensive than Sizemore down the road? Snider has always been compared to Grady since they were coached by the same HS coach.
 A: 

John Manuel: Snider's hit tool is better, as is his throwing arm, but in every other facet Sizemore is his equal (power) or vast superior (running, defense). I see Snider hitting for higher average, but more power? That's tough to know . . . both strike out a lot. It's interesting, I wouldn't think of them as similar players but both are Washington prep heroes, I suppose. Throw Jake Locker in now that he got hurt in football, I bet baseball is looking better now to Locker.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
John, what did scouts say about Luke Hughes and Scott Campbell? Are they legit prospects?
 A: 

John Manuel: Campbell can hit and his late decline had something to do with injury as well as the league catching up a bit to him. He just isn't a great defender though, and his defensive versatility is lacking. He's going to have to defend better but he's got a chance to hit big league pitching, he's patient and has gap power. Hughes would be in the big leagues if he could play third base, but apparently he can't. He's best suited for left field and has real power, he was close to the top 20, people do seem to believe in his bat, but he just doesn't have a position.

 Q:  Timmy L. from San Francisco asks:
Pablo Sandoval's ceiling is...?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm not even sure what to say here. He just hits. If I were the Giants, I'd stick him at first base next year and leave him in the middle of the lineup. I doubt he can play third base or catcher well enough to be a big league regular, so maybe he should try throwing lefthanded more often to help him be a better defender at 1B.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco asks:
Hi, John. Big fan of your (and the staff's) work. What are the chances that a bulb goes off in Arencibia's head and he comes to the conclusion that he needs to start working the count more and drawing some walks?
 A: 

John Manuel: Thank you Tom. I think more important for Arencibia than drawing walks is getting into consistent hitter's counts, because when he does, he punishes the ball. You can be an effective big league hitter without drawing walks; it's harder to do but it can be done. He's good enough defensively that he'll be given time in the big leagues to figure it out. He has plus power, plus defense, plus arm . . . potential plus hitting tool. Four-tool catcher, not bad.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
The resurrection of Daniel Bard complete, do you see him possibly being an elite closer at the major league level or do the Sox entertain possibly trying his hand at starting again?
 A: 

John Manuel: Very tough to say. Most people I talked to think he could still start, but his fastball is so good right now . . . when he's on, he either strikes guys out or gets groundouts. For me, his worst-case scenario is Kyle Farnsworth, and best-case is as a shutdown closer. He might have the easiest velocity in the minor leagues. He's rolling as a reliever, so I believe he'll stay in that role.

 Q:  Russ from Louisville asks:
What was it that made Tillman list above Snider? Just looking at his numbers, Tillman seems very solid, but not dominant. Am I missing something?
 A: 

John Manuel: I guess you didn't read the scouting report. Tillman has a chance to be an ace, a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, and that to me had more value than Snider profiling as an offensive LF. If Snider were more well-rounded, maybe, if he were a right fielder, I might have gone with him ahead of Tillman. Snider also strikes out a lot, so I have a tiny amount of doubt in my mind about his bat being quite as good as most people think it will be.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
Cheeseball time: who are some of your low-radar flyers? Also, I'm a sucker for tooled-up SS's - anyone interesting?
 A: 

John Manuel: Some personal cheeseballs (guys I like for no good reason, like those Hickory Farms balls of cheese rolled around in almonds) . . . Kyle Bloom, lefty with Altoona who came on late; the aforementioned Dustin Martin; Rob Delaney, the reliever at New Britain; and J.D. Martin, I like him as a reliever. Toolsy shortstops? Not so much outside of Portland's Argenis Diaz, who doesn't run, which maybe means he's not a toolsy SS.

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
How close were other Mets to making the list, such as Nick Evans, Eddie Kunz, Robert Parnell, and Mike Carp?
 A: 

John Manuel: Evans and Kunz and Parnell got some positive reviews, especially Kunz, who like Bard gets a lot of groundballs and enough swings and misses. Not sure why he didn't get more of a shot with the big league club; same with Parnell, who showed a big arm in the big leagues. He does seem better suited to relieve than start. I still like Evans more than Carp, though Carp's profile is a bit better since he's a LH hitter. Evans is a better defender and has more raw power; Carp's plate approach is more polished. That is about the extent of it.

 Q:  Bo Hart from St. Louis asks:
Any thoughts on Brad Mills? I know he only got six starts in, but any word on him would be appreciated..
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm a Brad Mills fan, hence I have chosen your question. Prior to the 2006 draft I pumped him up, ranked him No. 4 in Arizona and we had him No. 115 on our Top 200 prospects. That's probably a bit high in retrospect but he's an intelligent, savvy lefty who has a plus changeup and two solid-average pitches. He's got to maintain an average fastball and command it well to keep succeeding all the way up the ladder, but I think he will. I'm a believer. Might help before Cecil actually, he's more polished, but he has less of a ceiling.

 Q:  Ron Smith from Chicago asks:
Why is Bowden ranked so low despite dominating the league? Also What kind of power projection did scouts see out of Lars Anderson? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: I wrestled with that a lot. Kind of wish in retrospect I'd ranked him higher. Thing is, compare him to David Huff — similar guys in that neither has a true plus pitch. Both are command and control guys. But Huff has four pitches, Bowden three. Huff's delivery is a bit cleaner, less troublesome (some scouts still don't like Bowden's arm action). Plus, Huff's a lefty. So I thought Huff had to go ahead of Bowden. Then Tabata has high upside, Murphy had big league success this year and can really hit, and Lou Marson is an average offensive player at a premium position. It's a strong list. If Bowden wound up better than Carrasco, it wouldn't shock me, but Carrasco's fastball and changeup grade out better according to everyone I talked to. I believe I've addressed Anderson but he's No. 4 because I think he can be a real star, a real big-time bat. Jim Callis really started that bandwagon a couple of years ago, and I am on board.

 Q:  Darren from UK asks:
Did Scott Lewis get any consideration or did he miss too much time to qualify?
 A: 

John Manuel: He did; I mean to write up a scout's view on Lewis, who won all four of his big league starts. The fastball's below-average in terms of velocity and he's got great secondary stuff; he's got a chance but he should be a back-of-the-rotation guy.

 Q:  Skills from Baltimore, MD asks:
I know he's not a Top 20 guy, but can Jeff Sues be a key piece of a bullpen for the Pirates? He's had quite the injury history, but from what I've heard this year he was pure fire on the mound.
 A: 

John Manuel: He had the best arm on the Altoona team; I should have listed him as a personal cheeseball . . . he was No. 16 on the Tennessee list I did in 2004 and No. 10 in 2005, I've got lots of history with Sues, and he's still got a huge arm. He's been 94-95 in the past and was back there this year with a true power slider. He just has so much medical history and so little experience because of his lack of playing time, his time on the shelf. (He has some leg & hip issues that were chronic in college and have led to arm injuries.) If he can stay healthy he can be a big factor for the Pirates.

 Q:  Timmy L. from San Francisco asks:
Obviously Ryan Rohlinger was rushed to the majors, but does this kid have a chance to be an everyday player in the majors?
 A: 

John Manuel: Lightning-round time!

John Manuel: Not a regular for me.

 Q:  Steve Phillips from Bristol asks:
When will the adulation come back to a dull roar over Fernando Martinez? He's injury prone, his power has not shown up, and all reports are saying he's a LF at best. If his name was Fred Martin, he wouldn't be in the Top 20 for the EL.
 A: 

John Manuel: If he was Fred Martin but got $1.4 million to sign, we'd treat him just the same. He got that money for a reason, and scouts see some pretty big tools there.

 Q:  Dale Berra's Stash from Paris, France asks:
Can you please discuss if Shelby Ford is a MLB-starter at 2B? He's had some nicks over the past couple years, but it looks like he can hit. How's the defense?
 A: 

John Manuel: He improved defensively this year, especially turning the DP, and has solid hitting tools and good baserunning skills. Good chance to be a solid regular.

 Q:  Scooby from NYC asks:
Carlos Carrasco upside of a true ace #1 starter or do you see him as a middle of the rotation guy. His stuff can be electric and his changeup seems to baffle left handed hitters. What are your thoughts. Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Upside is No. 2 starter, sounds like he doesn't have the "it" to be a No. 1, but chance for 2 plus pitches and the curveball is solid average.

 Q:  CB from SLC, UT asks:
John - Thanks for the chat. EME made it back from a difficult 07 season and although displayed little power he showed an impressive display of the strike zone. Can Giants fans expect anything from EME?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not much; he's 25, injury-prone and not a good defender. Not a fan.

 Q:  Chris H from Toronto asks:
Do you see the likes of LHP Ricky Romero, 2B Scott Campbell and CA Brian Jeroloman having solid MLB careers with the Jays?
 A: 

John Manuel: Stuff is still there for Romero, but he doesn't command the fastball. Sorry to sound like a broken record; he just needs to command the fastball. Jeroloman's a backup C profile to perfection. Campbell's a second-division regular at best.

 Q:  Danny from Jerusalem asks:
Hi John. How has Sandoval's amazing major league debut in August and September affected your assessment of his skills and prospects? Brian Sabean said yesterday that the Giants have him penciled in as the starting 1b next year - can he be an above-average hitter for the position?
 A: 

John Manuel: Back when I did the Giants, I ranked him 27th one year and 15th in the org another. He really should be the first baseman until Big V is ready. Dude can hit. No knock on Andy Baggarly because it was Baseball America's list but we missed out not ranking him in the Giants top 30 last year; two years ago, when he wasn't catching or hitting for power, I can see why he fell out of the 30. After last year, we should have ranked him. We just whiffed.

 Q:  Ralph from Hyannis asks:
I have never seen Dan Bard pitch but it sounds like he could end up being a real nice addition to the sox staff in years to come . How many guys throw 100mph ? Isnt he the same guy that you said still had some developing left to do and if so doesnt that make him even more interesting as a prospect ?
 A: 

John Manuel: Bard's makeup is the biggest issue, makeup as in intestinal fortitude. He was turrible last year and a train wreck mentally, but he was much, much better around Mike Cather. He's just got as much upside really as anyone in the league save Wieters, who to me is just a ridiculous talent.

 Q:  ScottAz from Phx, AZ asks:
Interesting comments on Austin Jackson- none of his tools really stand out, he may not have the defense to stick up the middle- but in the same breath he's a winner, a big game player that loves and thrives under the spotlight. Is he a CF version of Derek Jeter?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's not as good a hitter as Jeter but he's a better defender in CF than Jeter at SS. He's just solid all the way around, solid five tools, nothing wrong with that.

 Q:  Ian from Pittsburgh asks:
Ok John, go with your gut on Jose Tabata. Is he going to thrive in the Pirates organization and continue his impressive 2nd half or did his troubles in N.Y. betray too many red flags for you? Would you be intrigued by an OF of Nate McLouth, Andrew McCutchen, and Tabata if you were manager John Russell?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm intrigued and think Tabata will bounce back to be an above-average offensive player, but he just needs more time to develop. I'm a bit worried the Pirates will rush him more than is warranted. Sounds like he has some real maturing still to do. I would be intrigued by a McLouth-McCutchen-Tabata OF, that would be good but would have to really mash to equal Nady-Bay-McLouth in the first half this year.

 Q:  Tim from Proctorville, Ohio asks:
Zach Daeges being left off the list surprises me a bit because his bat was so strong. Is his lack of a true position a factor there? Did his defensive shortcomings come into play?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's solid but more of a second-division regular. He can hit, other tools are fair, he's not pretty defensively but he's effective. But he can hit.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Did Robert Delaney's stuff get any better over the last year and can he profile as more than a middle reliever or setup guy?
 A: 

John Manuel: I like Delaney, heavy 90-91 mph fastball and solid slider, good command, more of a middle guy, 7th-inning guy, maybe 8th inning guy. Nice find for $500.

 Q:  Corbin Dallas from Flotsam Paradise asks:
Although the Phillies were well represented on the list, the omission of SS Jason Donald strikes me as curious. The guy significantly outhit several guys on the list and even if he has to move off of SS to 3B or 2B, he would seem to be better defensively to some of the listed guys.
 A: 

John Manuel: Asked and answered counselor, but the key here is he's not a great defender at his primary position, SS. He struggles coming in on balls, so can he play 3B? Not sure. Offensive enough to be a 2B? Probably not, but maybe. Just a lot of "utility infielder" references when his name's brought up. I could be wrong, but that's what I have.

 Q:  Elliot from Youngstown OH asks:
I know he's not a star, but does Frank Herrmann project as a major leaguer? Indians could use a Harvard economist in these troubling times.
 A: 

John Manuel: Great question . . . Herrmann's a sinker-slider guy, I think he'll be a big leaguer, he got a little attention as he finished very strong, commanding the sinker better. I'm a fan.

 Q:  Elliot from Youngstown OH asks:
Relievers don't often make these lists, but does Jeff Stevens have the velocity and command to be back of the bullpen?
 A: 

John Manuel: Stevens was awful in the Olympics, I was a believer before but I see him more as an up-and-down guy now, just not good enough to close, more of a 6th-7th inning guy.

 Q:  Anton from the Bronx asks:
Do you think a Mike Cameron comparison would be a fair estimate as to Austin Jackson's ceiling?
 A: 

John Manuel: No, he doesn't have 30-home run power or 30-SB speed, or Gold Glove defense. He's got more feel for hitting though. Not a good comp.

 Q:  Elliot from Youngstown OH asks:
Your reports says Huff has more velocity than Scott Lewis. How does he compare with the Indians' other sometimes impressive young lefty starters: Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers and Zach Jackson?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's got a chance to be best of the bunch, I'd rank 'em Huff, Laffey, Sowers, the field, then Jackson.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
I am hesitant to get excited over the next crop of Orioles pitching prospects (Tillman, Arrita, Matusz, Erbe, etc) when the current crop has been so disappointing (Loewen, Penn, Olson, Liz, etc). What are your thoughts?
 A: 

John Manuel: This group's a lot better, though Loewen was expected to be as good as any of these guys. Liz & Olson and Penn, those guys just weren't in the same league, I don't believe, as Matusz & Arrieta. Erbe is more like Liz & those guys, upside but less of a sure thing.

 Q:  Josh from Boston asks:
I'm suprised to see Bard ahead of Bowden. I know Bard has an electric fastball with improved control, but he still lacks command. His secondary stuff is also questionable. Bowden seems like the better prospect to me. Do you think these two will be flipped in the top 100?
 A: 

John Manuel: I am more of a Bard guy than most in the office, I suppose. I love the combo of groundouts & strikeouts and can't get past the dominant 97-99 mph fastball with ease. I believe I'm in the BA minority and believe Bowden will rank higher among my colleagues.

 Q:  Max from Florida asks:
Can I get a scouting report on Trevor Crowe? How close was he to the list?
 A: 

John Manuel: Fourth outfielder, less power than first expected, not good enough defensively, not a huge consideration here.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
Tillman and Erbe are the same age. Compare the 2. Why is one in Double-A, and the other in Single-A?
 A: 

John Manuel: Tillman's much more polished, much more command, not truly comparable. Erbe has a bigger arm, no other advantage.

 Q:  Elliot from Youngstown asks:
Since Wes Hodges isn't really a 3rd baseman and Beau Mills has already moved off third, do the Indians have a glut of firstbaseman? Which of the two has a better offensive ceiling?
 A: 

John Manuel: They have a need at 1B unless Garko comes back power-wise next year, and Hafner's injuries and downturn the last two years are worrisome. The Tribe needs big bats; I wouldn't worry about the glut.

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison, WI asks:
Do you see Jordan Zimmerman in the Nats' rotation in 09', and what is his ceiling?
 A: 

John Manuel: Quite possibly, not much in his way. Ceiling is No. 2 or No. 3 starter, I'm a fan of the stuff, athleticism and projection that remains. He's a different cat, college pitcher with projection due to his lack of experience.

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison, WI asks:
Why F-Mart over Austin Jackson? Did age become the difference maker in the rankings of these two players?
 A: 

John Manuel: More offensive upside.

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison, WI asks:
Is Matt Wieters the same player as Joe Mauer if Mauer conceded 30 batting average pts for 15-20 more bombs on an annual basis?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not the defender that Mauer is, but he's got a chance to be more productive offensively, which is kind of hard to believe.

 Q:  Marc from White Plains asks:
How do you compare Jordan Zimmerman to some of the more hyped SP prospects, such as Neftali Feliz, Bumgarner, Alderson etc.?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's not in the league of Feliz or Bumgarner, better than Alderson because he's got three pitches, command, etc. I am a Zimmermann fan.

 Q:  Kevin from Boston asks:
What do you think of Kris Johnson? Did he get any consideration for the list? It seems like he had a solid year and is continuing to improve coming off the TJ Surgery a few years ago.
 A: 

John Manuel: Didn't miss by much on this list, kind of faded in the second half but he's a lefty with a potential plus fastball, up to 91-94 at times, again, didn't miss the top 20 by much.

 Q:  Bill from Vermont asks:
Did Reddick qualify for this list? If not where would he have ranked, if at all? If so why did he miss the top 20?
 A: 

John Manuel: Didn't qualify, wouldn't have made the top 20, pretty raw still with the hit tool but definitely interesting, was in the Sox' top 10 last year and probably will be again this year.

 Q:  Jake from Boston asks:
How did Bard make the list? From what I have read, Portland refused to use him in any leveraged situations (a key sign of how they view a player)?
 A: 

John Manuel: He became their closer after Beau Vaughn was promoted and thrived in that high-leverage role. Best arm in the league who did thrive when more was asked of him.

 Q:  geoff from Winnipeg asks:
As a jays fan, I'm surprised that Arencibia ranked ahead of Cecil. How does he profile defensively?
 A: 

John Manuel: Quite well, very good thrower, work to do receiving but scouts I talked to believe he'll be at least average if not better as a receiver. The throw is plus, catch is fringe-average now, future average.

 Q:  Kevin from Boston asks:
Did Argenis Diaz get any consideration for his defensive abilities and solid offensive numbers?
 A: 

John Manuel: Solid, solid player, doesn't look like an impact guy but one manager I talked to was wowed. Just not enough support to make it.

 Q:  Raul Rivero from Tidewater, Virginia asks:
Daniel Murphy: future All-Star, solid regular or pinch hitter? Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: Solid regular.

Moderator: Thanks for all the questions everyone. Hope you enjoyed it. Southern League tomorrow with Ben Badler, followed by Texas League with the Kary Booher Experience, enjoy!