Eastern League Top 20 Prospects Chat With John Manuel
Randy (Boston): Well, I"m sure you'll get this
question in several formats but how worried are scouts about Lars
Anderson? Can a prospect actually appear in the top 100 without
appearing in the Top 20 list for a league he played in all year? Or can
a guy drop THAT far? Also, what did you hear about Luis Exposito in AA.
Thanks everyone for coming out. I will
just hop right in, and if a Draft Report Card call interrupts, I'll try
to keep it brief.
Anderson just didn't do enough to make the 20, simple as that. Maybe we
got overheated on the Top 100 last year; maybe Anderson's confidence
just took a hit this year. I still believe in the bat, but I am having
a harder time believing in him as an elite, difference-making 1B after
this season. He didn't handle lefthanded pitching, and he didn't make
up for it by mashing righthanded pitchers. The biggest thing he had
going for him, in this league context, was age. The reports on him were
pretty similar across the board — talented, but a little overwhelmed
by being in Double-A this year, something that didn't happen last year.
I didn't bear down on Exposito, but the guys who mentioned him actually
were impressed more by his defense, actions behind the plate and the
way he seemed to take charge of his pitchers.
Peter (NYC): How close was Brandon Erbe? Did the injury cost him a palce on the list or the control issues?
Erbe was close; probably 21-25 range
actually. As I wrote in the Arrieta writeup, some people preferred
Erbe. I took Arrieta because of the better fastball velo (Erbe,
post-shoulder injury, was more 91-92, where Arrieta was sitting 93 and
touching higher), better fastball command and more durable body. Erbe
could wind up being better and it wouldn't be a shock; not a big
Trevor (NJ): What's your take on Eduardo
Nunez? He seems to be putting it all together offensively since he gave
up switch hitting. I'd like to see him to make better strides
defensively & get the power up but he's looking like a legit
starting shortstop prospect.
Way back when (in the Delmon Young
Handbook, so it was following the '04 season), we had Nunez as the
Yanks' No. 6 prospect. He got some of his mojo back this season. His
arm's plus, so he has a chance to play shortstop, though most people I
talked to think he'd be overexposed there as an everyday SS. He didn't
make the 20 because the consensus was that he wasn't good enough
defensively to be an everyday SS, and he's more of a utility guy. The
bat is improved, but not enough for most people to be an everyday guy
at 2B. He's a little in between, still toosly but not quite refined.
But he is back on the prospect map, which is obviously a big
improvement for him.
Peter (NYC): What makes Zach McAllister
constantly rank better than Zach Britton and Brandon Erbe of the O's?
he does not seem much better than those two but always outranks them?
For some I'm sure he doesn't rank better
than those guys. For me, what McAllister did in the EL was superior to
what Erbe did. Erbe's ceiling is higher; McAllister is closer to his
ceiling and the injury track record with Erbe is a bit troubling.
McAllister is a four-pitch, back-of-the-rotation guy who is pretty
close to being a No. 4 starter. I also like that he competes well and
has success when he doesn't have his best stuff. I think it's kind of
obvious that pitchers don't always have their best stuff and have to
learn to pitch without it. He's good with plan A, plan B and even
sometimes plan C. But again, there's just not a lot of difference
between No. 19 or No. 22 or whatever theoretical rank you want to give
to Erbe. I can't speak authoritatively on Britton so I'm just leaving
him out of the discussion.
Gerry (Toronto): John:
I am looking for glimmers of hope in a weak Blue Jay system. Other than
Zep did David Cooper, Danny Farquhar, Reidier Gonzalez or Luis Perez
got any love?
Cooper was 21-25 material; Perez was
26-30 material, some guys really thought he has a chance to be a
4-pitch, back-of-the-rotation type, others think of him just as a lefty
reliever due to the slider (i.e., the rest of the stuff is just OK but
the slider can be plus, so he can be a reliever). Cooper can hit and
just got pushed very aggressively. His defense gave a lot of other
managers and scouts pause, but it sounds like he improved defensively,
even while he's still below-average. Farquhar is fascinating; if he'd
thrown more strikes he probably would have made the list, but I have
questions about the command, and so did the managers and scouts I
talked to. He didn't get squared up very often though.
Gerry (Toronto): Were you surprised that the Jays fired Dick Scott today?
Not really, no. New GM, even if he's from
the organization, and he's going to have some new ways of doing things.
Like any org, the Jays have had some success stories in development,
particularly in terms of pitching, but they also had some guys go
backwards, especially their '07 prep draft picks and this year J.P.
Arencibia really struggling in Triple-A. It's not a great farm system
right now; we're having a hard time figuring out who their No. 1
prospect is. So I can see why changes were made.
Ben (Leland Grove): Would you consider Jeanmar Gomez to be one of the Indians' better pitchers, and was he considered for this list?
No, I would not. The consistent response
when I asked about Gomez was, "nothing stands out," or "no plus pitch."
When he was at his best — say, when he threw that perfect game — his
slider was his best pitch and it had some bite to it. But for the most
part, it was just an average offering.
Michael (NY, NY): In hope of any good news,
Mets fans are looking to the good season of Josh Thole. Was it his
limited upside that left him off the list or is defense still too shaky
at catcher to make a positive impression?
He's just not a great profile. He's just
fringy defensively, fringy offensively because of the lack of power.
James Skelton was kind of a pick to click for some years, especially
this year as a Rule 5 pick, but Thole is kind of a similar profile —
the all OBP, no power catcher. Scouts don't seem to think that will
work long-term, but scouts have been wrong before. The Mets sent Thole
up to the majors as much to learn from Brian Schneider on the
subtleties of catching and handling a pitching staff as they did any
other reason. If we went 30 deep, Thole would have made it, but when I
wrote up his report, he just sounded like less of a prospect than the
other 25 or so that I wrote.
JAYPERS (IL): Tim Alderson pitched for two
teams within the E.L. this year. What did managers and scouts tell you
about him, both pre and post-trade? Also, did he get any consideration
for the list?
Jaypers, no one really had great things
to say on Alderson, and that was tough for me to hear because I wrote
him up in our '06 draft coverage out of Arizona. His stuff sounds
significantly shorter now than it was then. It's not just that he lost
some fastball velo; he's lost life on the fastball and snap on the
breaking ball. Where he once had two pitches that graded out as 55 or
60 pitches, he now has a 40 or 45 fastball for most people, and the
breaking ball got similar grades. Everyone credited his success to
deception. I kept asking, because I wanted to rank him. But I didn't
find an advocate for him.
Vicki (MN): Your thoughts on Deolis Guerra's somewhat zig-zaggy season? Did the Twins get a bill of goods with him?
Wow, another interesting case. Honestly,
I think the Twins did get a bit of a bill of goods on him. He's not a
power pitcher. He can throw hard, but he doesn't. He will flash a good
fastball at times but is just in love with his changeup, which is a
good pitch but obviously would play up more if he worked more off his
fastball. I know it's a broken record in my chats, but if the guy
doesn't get outs with a fastball in fastball counts, it's not a good
sign. It sounds like Guerra considers any count a changeup count. I'll
dive in deeper when doing the Twins Top 30, but Guerra had fewer
advocates in the EL than Alderson.
Adrian Thaws (Bristol): Danny Moskos is the
most divisive prospect among the fans for the Pirates. There is a small
but vocal contigent that still feel that he can be a starter based on
this year. Can he be a LOOGY in the majors or a starter or neither?
I think he can be a starter, but he's not
an impact guy at this point. As a reliever in college, the guy had a
heavy fastball that bumped 97; as a starter he bumps 93 and sits 87-91.
He has sink and maintains his velocity, so he can pitch off the
fastball. I toyed with ranking him and probably would put him in the
23-27 range. But it sounds like his slider is a groundball slider, not
the wipeout, 87 mph pitch he had in college. It's not fair to him that
he's always going to be compared with Matt Wieters, that's not his
fault, but I still don't quite understand why he's starting. He had
impact potential as a closer, not as a starter. He can still be a big
league starter, though.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Was Bumgarner's velo drop more a case of fatigue, or is this were his fastball is going to settle in?
I think it was a case of some arm
fatigue, which a lot of high school pitchers go through. I'm not sure
why, but Sean Gallagher sticks out in my head as a guy who was 86-90
mph in the Midwest League when he was there, and then when he came
through the Southern League we had reports he was 90-94, and I remember
talking to one of the scouts who saw him as an amateur and in the SL,
and he told me Gallagher threw that hard in high school. He just went
through a trough of basically a dead-arm period, but instead of it
being a period, it was a whole year, and that is how Bumgarner was
explained to me by several scouts. I believe the 97s that maybe he
could reach back and get when he wanted, that may not happen. Maybe
when you throw once a week in high school, he could do that, but every
fifth day, that may not be him. But if he's sitting 90-94 like he has
often in his career, then that's going to be a 70 fastball. And a guy
with a 70 fastball when the command and life are factored in, he is
going to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. His secondary stuff could
be 40ish in terms of grades, but if he throws them for strikes, that
will be enough because he'll be changing speeds off his heater. I just
can't get over an athletic teenager dominating a Double-A league with
one pitch. I was more impressed by that than by pretty much anything
anyone else did in the league.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did any Senators come close to making your list?
Ian Desmond's defense wasn't good enough
for most but he did get considered, as did Brad Meyers; Detwiler didn't
have enough innings. And then manager John Stearns lost his job, even
though the scouts I talked to said that team played hard and focused
and competed with generally inferior players.
Dave (Detroit): Your thoughts on Alex Avila's sudden callup and his prospect status?
That surprised a lot of EL managers and
scouts. He was the first person I asked about off that club and
obviously he didn't get enough support to place in the top 20, despite
leading the league in CS percentage. His receiving generally was panned.
Jeff Sollars (Chambersburg, Pa): Was Gorkys Hernandez close to top 20? What is his upside?
Not really, more 26-30 type, because for
me the guy is a fourth outfielder. He just doesn't drive the ball with
any consistency. Still a long way to go for him offensively against
quality pitching, and his speed doesn't play on the bases, where he was
19-for-35. Hard to see the offensive upside if there's not significant
improvement on one of those fronts.
Rob (Boston): No Ryan Kalish? What's your evaluation of his tools?
When I started, I thought I'd rank Kalish
or Rene Tosoni, and I wound up with neither one. You could make a case
for either one over Snyder in terms of profile, as both are LH-hitting
OFs who run a little and can play CF, though neither one is a true CF.
Tosoni's bat is a bit better, Kalish's other tools are a bit better.
Neither one projects as a first-division regular for most guys I talked
to because they are a bit short on power for a corner. I think I might
be selling Tosoni a little short there, but for me, those guys are
Beth Gibbons (Portishead, UK): Has Alvarez
improved his approach to hitting lefties or was he just so white-hot
during AA that it didn't matter? Also, what is your personal opinion on
whether he can stay at 3B for the near future?
It sounds like Alvarez is just a streaky
hitter, and he was locked in with Altoona. I think he's an early career
3B, who will move to first base in three to five years. That was the
general consensus among people I talked to, and they were assuming he
would put in the work to stay in shape. I talked to Pedro while he was
going through customs after the World Cup, and he said defense was his
top priority during the season and that his offseason priority is
conditioning. He's not playing but is going to Arizona to Athlete's
Performance, I believe, and that could go a long way to helping him
stay at third in the near-term. He just needs to improve his agility
and first-step quickness a bit to be an average defender —
average-to-plus arm, solid hands.
Zach (Wilton, CT): What do you make of Brad Holt's struggles in Binghamton?
First full pro season, a little fatigue,
and a little lesson in how to use his breaking ball. He can spin the
breaking ball; one scout in particular who has read what we've written
about Holt says the problem with his breaking ball isn't that he
doesn't have one, it's that he doesn't command one. He didn't throw it
often in college because he didn't have to; now, in Double-A, when he
needed it, he couldn't shorten it up and throw it for strikes to keep
people honest on his fastball. He was in a lot of 2-0 and 3-1 counts
and guys were sitting on his heat. That sounded eerily like Phil
Humber, and that's not a good sign. I like Holt so I hope he makes
better adjustments next season.
Zach (Wilton, CT): What is your take on Ruben Tejada?
Definite 21-30 guy, would have made the
top 30 if he just had one plus tool. He had a nice season, though, and
I'm impressed with how well he grinds through a year. He had a poor
April and then was solid the rest of the season. But again, he's maybe
a 55 runner according to the scouts I talked to, and the guys who liked
him considered him fringy offensively with below-average power. The
consensus was that he's more of a utility guy as a result.
Reggie C. (New York, NY): Good afternoon BA!
The benefits of signing at 16... Is Jose Tabata still a major OF
prospect for the Pirates? He's been around forever. Do you think his
bat will play as a corner OF? Thanks!
Hard to say major prospect, more of a
second-division regular until he hits for power, but his hit tool is
ahead of guys like Kalish and Tosoni, to compare him to those guys.
He's another guy that we hear so much about, that the power will be the
last tool to come. Perhaps the hand and wrist issues he's had in the
past are still an issue as well. He does drive the ball; his swing
plane appears to be the problem. I admit I liked him better last year
when he played more CF and played it well. As a corner guy, he's more
of a stretch, but he can hit, he's short and quick to the ball, and
he's fairly athletic despite his squatty build. I still like more as a
solid regular than as an impact guy; a couple of years ago, we thought
he could be an impact guy. I'll also refer our readers to this "the
Comp" we did in 2006 when the scout I talked to liked Elvis Andrus over
Jose Tabata. That scout should take a bow.
JAYPERS (IL): Michael Taylor certainly seems
to be the complete package, especially for such a big guy. He not only
hits, but he hits hard. He's also surprisingly fast on the basepaths as
well. What is his biggest weakness in your opinion, since you didn't
make mention of any in your scouting report?
Despite his results, there are some
questions about Taylor's feel for hitting and ultimate ceiling. He's
starting to slow down, not a plus runner underway like he was in the
past, and he's more of an LF than an RF now. But the biggest strike
against him seems to be his age and the fact he's seen as more of a
good, solid regular rather than as a potential all-star, as Dom Brown
Jerry (NYNY): Scott Barnes won the eastern
championship game and looked pretty dominating.Whats his ceiling and
dont you think it has risen considering he pitched at aa at 21 yrs old?
Barnes is an Aaron Fitt favorite from his
St. John's days, so I'm inclined to like him. The scout I talked to who
saw him in the EL (he didn't qualify) wasn't enamored with him, but
Barnes has deception and three average pitches when he's at his best.
He's a little bit of a nibbler so my question with him is the same as
always — can he get swings and misses in the K zone with his fastball?
It sounds like he has to prove that at Double-A still.
Ben (Leland Grove): Which Orioles 1B is better defensively, in your estimation - Snyder or Waring?
Definitely Snyder, who has more
experience at the position. Ranking him was definitely based on
believing the feel for hitting will translate into average power. He's
kind of a righthanded-hitting Sean Casey.
tiffythetitan (Oakland, CA): Was there anyone else from the Connecticut Defenders (SF Giants) team close to making the Top 20?
Tiffy! So glad you are still coming to
the chat rooms. Brett Pill got some support; Mike McBryde got some love
as well, though his bat was too raw for most. Pill is a solid player,
pretty good defense at first, the swing is too long for most to see him
as a regular; just comparing him to Snyder, Snyder has a lot more feel
for hit and a better stroke. Henry Sosa can't stay healthy; Waldis
Joaquin is more of a 6th- or 7th-inning reliever than an impact setup
man or closer. And Brandon Crawford, well, he's a divisive player. That
inability to make consistent contact just looks too familiar. He has a
long track record of striking out too much. I want to like him because
I understand he is a monster long toss guy (cue the office snickering
here), but no one had enough confidence in his bat for me to rank him.
Drew (Boston): What is a fair stat-line
prediction for Josh Reddick's career? Are we talking about a .280-.300
hitter with 30 HR potential and fair amount of stolen bases, or is that
too much of a pipe dream?
Honestly, I'm not sure. I even got a
Darryl Strawberry reference on Reddick, which I think was because we
just got done talking about Dom Brown. (Again, that's a physical comp,
not a comp on what kind of HR hitter Brown will be, but that's probably
my fault for expecting people to pick up on a subtle point like that.)
Anyway, I'd think Redick's peak can be .280 with 25-30 homers; I don't
know that he can sustain that, but he has power and speed. I would
imagine there are many clubs that would take him over Michael Taylor —
he's lefthanded, he's younger, he's a bit more conventional. I ranked
Taylor ahead because Taylor's present hit tool is better, and I think
his present power is better, but it's not a huge difference and again,
I could see the case for Reddick over Taylor. Reddick didn't miss the
top 10 by much.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Cheeseball time - who ya got?
Mmmmmm, personal cheeseball. Among guys
who made the list, I'm a big Domonic Brown guy, and it was nice of him
to have his breakout year after ranking him No. 1 last year in the
Phillies list. Among guys who didn't make the top 20, I'm a Joe Savery
fan, reports on his stuff were encouraging and better than they were
last year, and he competes. I root for Rice pitchers to dispel the
legitimate concerns that people have about the track record of Owls
pitches; I was obviously excited for Jeff Niemann this year, glad I
didn't have to see him in Durham anymore. Also I will include Farquhar;
sounds like he's got multiple arm angles and plus stuff, up to 96 mph.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): I'm a sucker for tooled-up shortstops, give me a sleeper that could click?
Freddy Galvis, though he may not hit for
4-5 years. I also have gotten some Aregnis Diaz love the last two
years, almost exclusively for his defense. Cale Iorg at Erie has all
kinds of tools and has since high school (2004 Tennessee HS class which
also included David Price). But he just hasn't hit yet. I'd have ranked
him if anyone ha said they thought he would hit, because he has raw
power and plenty of defensive tools. But pitch recognition and
strike-zone discipline are real issues for him, as they were for his
brother Eli, and he (like Eli) has shown no sign of making adjustments
Casey (Alexandria, VA): Can you share your
opinion on what separates Drabek and Arrieta most as prospects? The
numbers seem to favor Arrieta, but just from your rankings, it seems to
Drabek's secondary pitches are significantly better, from what I gather, and he's also more athletic than Arreita.
Jack Crow (Grand Rapids, MI): Thanks for the
chats! Did any players other than Sizemore come close to making the
list from Erie? Specifically thinking of Streiby, Boesch, Wells, or
Strieby definitely had his supporters and
came closest. Boesch has plus power too, both are power guys, but
Strieby has better feel for hitting and uses the whole field more. The
other hitters weren't guys that stood out to anyone, and Cody
Satterwhite was the top pitcher. I've frankly never been a Satterwhite
MJ (Valpo): Will Jason Place ever live up to
his 1st-round pick status and $1 million + bonus, or has he turned into
yet another HS kid who was over-hyped, over-paid, and under-achieved?
I think that's a little harsh on Place;
he was better this year. He has huge raw power, still has speed, he's a
plus defender, he's got a plus arm. I like this phrase — he could be
Rick Asadoorian, or he could be Torii Hunter. I suppose he also could
be somewhere in between. With him, Kalish and Reddick, the Portland
outfield had some players with some real tools to work with.
Blackie (Cincinnati): I think a lot of readers
will be surprised to see Wilson Ramos on the list at all, much less #8.
What attributes drove that aggressive ranking and is the continued lack
of walks of any concern to observers?
He is too aggressive, but he can really
mash, and he can defend. His profile is pretty strong. You just hit on
the one major weakness, but I talked to scouts who like Ramos over
Santana, even. So I didn't consider No. 8 aggressive at all.
I will be back, on a call.
Jack (Belle Harbor, NY): The Yankees seem very
stubborn about keeping Montero behind the plate despite other more
athletic catchers in the system. Do you see the Yankees easing Montero
into another position DH, 1B or LF where they can rush his bat to the
bigs or will they keep down another few years or in an effort to make
him a serviceable ML catcher?
I'm not sure what they will do with him,
but his future appears to be as a DH. He's not going to play an
outfield corner; he just doesn't run enough. And if he's a Yankee, he's
not going to play 1B over Teixeira. For a different organization, he
might get a shot at 1B, but not there.
mike (reading): i heard vance worley's name mentioned in some trades at the deadline. did he get any consideration to be in the top 20?
Sorry about the delay . . . Worley and
Mike Stutes are both solid pitching prospects, but Worley is more of a
back-rotation guy, an innings eater, if it all comes together. More
like he and Stutes both are middle relievers, and I think Stutes has
the better relief profile thanks to the slide piece.
Jon (Peoria): Where would you rank Zach McAllister among the Yankees pitching prospects since both Betances and Brackman struggled this year?
Behind Manny Banuelos and probably Arodys
Vizcaino, for starters. I have no clue what I'll do with Betances and
Brackman at this point. I'd imagine McAllister is in the Yanks' Top 10,
but that will probably be a very young list this year.
Tony (Lakeland, FL): So Rondon was very dominating early in the year but as the year went on he looked less impressive. Why?
Sounds like he got out of rhythm and lost
some command, and it took him a while to get it back. He's got good
stuff, not great stuff, and like all pitchers he's got to throw more
consistent quality strikes. But he's got late life and good velo on his
fastball, a good place to start.
Matt Walsh (Claremont, Ca): Had Josh Bell qualified for this list where would he have slotted?
Pretty high up; probably just ahead of
Michael Taylor. Reports on Josh Bell were very encouraging, and I also
talked to a scout who saw him in the SL, I got much the same reports
that Ben Badler got. Sounds like another piece to the puzzle in
Baltimore, a corner power bat, and the reports on his defense were
better as well.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): Beau Mills had a very
ordinary season, unfortunately typical of Indian No. 1 draft choices.
Is he ready for AAA? Is he developing his game? Is there any reason to
look forward to his major league career?
Some managers like him better than
Weglarz because he has more feel for hitting. He gets the barrel to the
ball too easily, he's too much of a free swinger, but he is making
progress, especially defensively. Obviously at first base, getting
better control of the K zone so his power can play more consistently
will be the key. I'd hold out some hope for him.
Jeff (Pittsburgh): Carlos Gutierrez got a
fairly high ranking on the FSL top 20. He didn't fare nearly as well
after the promotion to AA. Has his struggles ended the starting pitcher
I'll find out more on the Twins' plans
for him in doing their Top 30, but I believe relief suits him better
personally. No real harm in trying to start him, and they found out
that at higher levels, he needs better fastball command and (or) a
better secondary pitch to succeed. That said, he was fatigued in the
second half; he basically doubled his workload from college, 50 IP at
Miami, then he threw another 25 for the Twins, so going up to 106 this
year was a pretty significant jump.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Danny
and Paco Figuerora, the identical twins with Bowie, both batted over
.300. Danny is a super defensive player in center field form what i've
seen. Will either or both ever make the Orioles? Break the tie - if you
had to pick one for your team, which one?
I'd pick Paco because he's an infielder.
One huge issue is neither Figueroa brother can stay healthy for an
entire year. I had good reports on Paco a couple of years back in the
SAL, and he's got a line-drive swing. He also dominated in the World
Cup for Spain, two rounds of play for Spain and he led the entire World
Cup in hitting, for whatever that is worth. He has a chance to be an
Josh G (Sacto, CA): Brock Bond was the EL's hitting leader. Is he on the prospect the map at all?
Not enough other tools for me, and it's
not a great profile — defense is a bit short, not a runner. He's going
to have to keep overachieving.
Josh G (Sacto, CA): Brandon Crawford had a
break out year for the Giants. How did he look in Connecticut and has
he surpassed Adrianza as the Giants best SS?
I would venture to no, but I would guess the Giants think so.
Vic (Norfolk, VA): Had he qualified, where do
you think Lonnie Chisenhall would have ranked? After struggling early,
he tore it up towards the last week and in the playoffs.
He also would have gone in the top 10,
actually probably right at No. 7, ahead of Tazawa. I've heard nothing
but good things on Chisenhall. Seeing as how I was wrong about him
prior to the 2008 draft, I will try to make up for it by saying he was
roundly praised in the EL both offensively and defensively.
OK that's going to have to be it. I appreciate your patience with me taking that call, and hope everyone has a great weekend.