|Q:||Matt from St. Louis asks:|
After his good showing in the AFL, and solid minor league #'s....where does relief pitcher Mike Mitchell stand in the Oakland system? Does he have a chance to supplement Huston Street in the A's bullpen in the near future?
Moderator: Hey everybody . . . John Manuel here, you can just think of me as "Moderator". It's my first year doing the A's top 30 so I hope you all enjoy the top 10 on the web and the chat. Let's get started.
John Manuel: Mitchell did a nice job in the Fall League, and people in the organization definitely noticed, as did those outside the organization. He was sitting in the low 90s, touching 94 with some life, and he has a solid-average slider. He's not a replacement for Street. One guess is that Bob Geren will use Huston Street less than Ken Macha did, because Street was really worked very hard last year, and he's pretty slight. He's a damn good closer, though, and will remain the A's closer for the near future. The best in-house option to replace him, if needed, is Marcus McBeth, who has better stuff than Mitchell; has one more pitch, a plus changeup; is athletic, has had more success in the minors and finally has the makeup to handle closing. The A's love McBeth, and scouts from other orgs do too.
|Q:||Bob from Tacoma asks:|
Thanks for the chat John. It seemed that Scott Deal had a decent year in SS ball. Where does he rank in the A's scheme of things?
John Manuel: You're welcome. Deal doesn't have the profile of a front-of-the-rotation guy but he's a sinkerballer who keeps the ball in ballpark, pitches to contact and has to keep everything down. He's likely headed to Kane County next year to help anchor the Cougars rotation and is a definite top 30 candidate (again, slacker that I am, I frankly haven't finalized the list).
|Q:||Brad from AL asks:|
Any news on or hope for Dan Meyer?
John Manuel: Wish I had my notes with me here in Orlando (it's certainly startling to look in my bad and find that legal pad is NOT there . . . )to give you specifics, but yes, Brad, there is hope and good news for Dan Meyer. The A's people I talked to believe Meyer threw well in the fall and they saw glimpses of the old Meyer. If I recall correctly, Meyer believes his injury issue was properly diagnosed. I don't want to try to remember and get it wrong, but the specifics I remember are (a) the A's were optimistic for the first time in a while and (b) so was Meyer.
|Q:||Matt Sulentic's Inquisitive Clone from Somewhere In CA asks:|
Thanks for ranking me where you did, and for your kind words regarding my bat. However, what position do you see me settling in at eventually? If I have a sub-average arm as you say, why do you think management is keeping me in the OF? Are you certain I can't bulk up and develop some HR power in the future? And finally, how quickly do you see me moving through the system if I keep up this pace?
John Manuel: Well, obviously this isn't Sulentic but whatever. Plenty of big league outfielders have below-average throwing arms, and Sulentic will be one of them. The A's value defense, and after seeing how Mark Ellis plays second (and more importantly how his playoff replacement, D'Angelo Jiminez, failed to play it in the playoffs), they would rather Sulentic go out and try to be an average defender in left and move his bat quickly to the big leagues, rather than have him battle to try to be a second baseman. I talked to a scout yesterday, not about Sulentic, but about infielders, and he said scouting infielders can be difficult in that they are easier to judge defensively over the long haul rather than in short bursts so you can see them consistently handle routine plays and see how their hands work, see them make a wide range of plays, etc. Sulentic's bat may be so good that the A's don't think it will be worth it to take the time to find out if he can play 2B, when they know he can hit enough to be an LF.
|Q:||Jerry from Tulsa asks:|
Did the A's holding Jeff Baisley back this year cause him to miss out on top 10 considerations... we all know the Cal league is a launching pad and he most likely would have hit well there and probably could have ended up in AA. Do you feel he is the type hitter that will continue to hit as he moves up?
John Manuel: That had nothing to do with it. The A's held Baisley back to see if 2003 first-rounder Brian Snyder had anything left. Funny, the A's 2002 draft got all the attention due to "Moneyball" and has turned out as expected, really--Swisher and Blanton were good, and everyone else they truly took a chance on hasn't quite worked out (with the exception of 9th-rounder Shane Komine, who has had a nice minor league career and reached the majors). We thought their '03 draft could end up being better, but Brad Sullivan threw too many sliders in college and has had physical issues (pitching and non-pitching related), and Snyder just hasn't worked out. The A's had to try to find out about Snyder, though, and he blocked Baisley. Plus, winning in the minors does matter a bit for the A's, and especially in keeping their Kane County affiliate, so Baisley stayed at Kane County. He'll be in the 11-20 range no doubt, probably 11-15. In one early version of the top 10, Baisley and his college teammate at South Florida, Myron Leslie, were jockeying for a spot at the back of the top 10. For me, Baisley's going to have to prove he can be a Joe Randa type of everyday player, a David Bell-type of producer. I really don't think he can be a star, and I'm a bit skeptical about his ability to be a consistent, first-division regular. The A's are more optimistic about his bat than I am, but he comes from a baseball family, defends well and has good gap power.
|Q:||Eric from Elk Grove asks:|
Thanks for the chat. How worried should we be about the relatively high walks with low power combination shown by several of the A's top prospects (e.g., Buck, Barton, Suzuki)? Are major league pitchers going to sucessfully challenge them more and wipe out that walk rate if they don't show more power? Ethier would also fit this profile and although he certainly had a great year with LA, many people still doubt him due to the power factor. So, is the "good hitters will develop power" projection realistic or more like wishful thinking?
John Manuel: It's a very legitimate concern. Every organization has players like these--guys who can hit, play power-profile positions but who don't hit for minor league power--and they always say, "Well, power is the last tool to develop." That's true, but how do we know who will hit for power and who won't? There's no one indicator. It does help to control the strike zone; it helps to be a good hitter who centers the ball. I believe in BUck's power the most of these three players mentioned, because scouts have long projected power for him, he's big, strong, centers the ball and has all those doubles. It should be easiest for him to learn which pitchers to try to drop a bat head on, which pitches to pull, and how to add a little loft to his swing. Barton is next, more natural of a hitter, but not as good of a body as Buck, and he just hasn't hit for as much power as Buck has in the minors. Suzuki won't have to hit for home run power, if he's a five-to-10 homer guy in the big leagues but hits 30 doubles, slugs .420 with a .350-.370 on-base, I think he can do that, maintain that and be an above-average big league catcher, a guy who's a solid defender and slightly above-average hitter. I am a big Kurt Suzuki fan. He gets the most out of his tools and is a winner, I know that sounds cheesy but it's who he is.
|Q:||Dwayne Murphy fan from Center field, Network Associates coliseum asks:|
Who is Jason Kendall's replacement in 2008? Kurt Suzuki or Landon Powell?
John Manuel: Suzuki. I've seen a lot of Landon Powell over the years and I'm torn on him as a player. He has better tools than Suzuki, no doubt, but he's worse than a 20 runner, he'd be the slowest player in the big leagues already, and there's no delicate way to describe his body. He's fat (so am I, but I'm not a professional athlete). He's immobile. He won't hit for average because he's so slow. Power arm, power bat, soft, soft hands . . . just HAS to do something about trimming up his body.
|Q:||Bum Phillips from Astrodome, Texas asks:|
Did the A's ruin RHP Brad Sullivan by changing his pitching motion after drafting him in the First round from the University of Houston? Why not leave well enough alone? This guy should have been ready to replace one of the Big 3 by now.
John Manuel: Bum, you ruined Earl Campbell with too many carries, and Brad wasn't ruined but he clearly was damaged by his college workload. I've told this story frequently, but I know an opposing coach who charted Brad's pitches in one CG at Houston who charted 122 pitches, 78 of which were sliders. That's too many slide-pieces for a guy that small; sorry Raynor Noble. Then he played a lot of 2B as a college junior, and he just wore out physically. Throw in that Brad had a horrible car crash when he was about 10, and had sinus issues that came up as a pro stemming from the metal plate he had in his head from that crash, stymied his progress. I root for Brad about as much as any player, I've e-mailed with him for six years and he's a great guy, but he just hasn't been the same pitcher since about his sophomore year. I don't think it's necessarily the A's fault, though I do agree with your point that changing a pitcher's mechanics as soon as you draft him makes zero sense. You drafted the player based on what he did as an amateur, and in the case of a first-rounder, you gave him a seven-figure bonus because of it. Let him fail first with his own approach before you go changing him, that's my take. But Keith Leippman is better at his job than I am at mine, so I'm sure he had a good reason when the farm department decided to tinker.
|Q:||Bill from Tempe, AZ asks:|
John, thanks for the chat. I'm taking a break from my winter league junket to Mexico to hit you with a question today. Sellers jumped over Pennington at shortstop. Is that more a result of Pennington's injury or has Sellers' stock jumped that much? Also, Cahill went past Lansford, Italiano and Mazzaro as the top lower level pitching prospect. Did the values of the three second round picks from 2005 take a hit, either because of injury or struggles at higher levels?
John Manuel: BA photog Bill Mitchell in the house, ladies and gentlemen. Bill loves him some baseball. Bill, Sellers and Pennington have a lot of the same strengths, and some of the same weaknesses. Both need to get stronger; both need to show more offensively. Pennington was hurt, he's older and he really, reallyl was bad in 2006, even if he was hurt. Scouts love Pennington's arm, work ethic, makeup and some love his tools. I've frankly never quite been on the Pennington bandwagon; ask his dad, who e-mailed me when we didn't make him a college all-Freshman team choice. I don't think either of these guys will be great, but Sellers sounds like he has fewer adjustments to make and more time to make them. That's why I ranked him higher.
|Q:||Brett from Aurora, IL asks:|
I am at many Kane County games each year, and was wondering who you think may be some of the key players on the team this year. Will draft picks like Matt Sulentic, Jermaine Mitchell, and chad Lee most likely begin at Kane County? Where will Chad Boyd most likely begin 2007?
John Manuel: Lots of Kane County fans in the house. The A's want to do what they can to stay in Kane County, and that will mean younger prospects mixed in with older guys who can help the team win. But they are not going to compromise development. I could see Sulentic and Mitchell both starting in Kane County but I don't seem them spending the whole year there, and both actually could leap over Kane County. Lee most likely will be at Kane County; he's pretty raw, but has a big, big arm. I bet you get some Christian Vitters at Kane County too, and some Toddric Johnson, both interesting prospects, and Larry Cobb, an org favorite already as a 27th-rounder who runs very well and could be a Chone Figgins kind of player eventually.
|Q:||Paul from Quebec City, Canada asks:|
What is the future for 2004 high draft picks Danny Putnam, Richie Robnett and Landon Powell? Regulars, fringe major leaguers or busts?
John Manuel: I'll tell you my best guesses. I've already come in on Powell; if he keeps his body in check, he's a guy, and maybe even an all-star. If he's 240 pounds, he could hit .260 with 25 homers and be a shut-down defender. If he's 285 pounds like he was late this fall, he's not in the big leagues, not with Oakland anyway. Putnam will be a big leaguer, I believe, though his upside might end up being Matt Stairs. He's best suited for left field, though he'd give his best effort in right. He's got a short swing he repeats but just has to get healthy, and 80 percent of his value (if not more) is in his bat. He's an efficient hitter with gap power and the smarts and feel for the bat head to hit for average power. Robnett has the highest upside, and I'm kind of surprised I left him out of the top 10. I thought when I started I'd put him in. He has big tools, big power, the most upside of the trio you asked about. But he just swings and misses so much and really has barely gotten out of A-ball, and he's still described as raw. Most other organizations bring him up when they talk trade with the A's; other teams want a shot at developing those tools. My question with him is, most A's farmhands get better. He hasn't. I believe that speaks more to his inability to improve than to the A's farm system. The A's farm system has proved its track record; look in the big leagues. Robnett's track record is shakier.
|Q:||Billy from Orlando, FL asks:|
Is Kurt Suzuki good enough to be the catcher by the end of next season or should I extend Jason Kendall?
John Manuel: I believe so and think Suzuki will get to the majors in 2007 for short stints, perhaps just in September, and then if he shows well, Suzuki will be given a chance to succeed Kendall as the big league starter in '08. And if you've been reading this chat, you know I believe Suzuki will take advantage of his opportunities and emerge as the starter at that time.
|Q:||Eric from Elk Grove asks:|
How would you rank Kurt Suzuki relative to other advanced catching prospects like Iannetta, Walker, Saltalamacchia, Clement, Montero, and Thigpen? I'm familiar with Chris Kline's position rankings, but what do you think?
John Manuel: Tough call. I still think Salty is top there, I'd go Salty, Montero, Iannetta, Suzuki, Clement and Thigpen. Just wish Clement were in a different organization; I don't agree one iota with Bill Bavasi's philosophy of pushing hitters through the system, and he's screwed with Clement significantly. I believe Clement has the best upside of this group frankly, but I don't have faith in the Mariners, under Bavasi's care, to develop him properly. He has immense power, tremendous work ethic and enough athletic ability to be adequate defensively while hitting 30 homers annually, but now his confidence may have been crushed. How pointless. Back to your question as I step off my soap box . . . Suzuki and Iannetta are pretty similar. Iannetta has a bit stronger body, seems to be more durable and I give him a slight edge over Suzuki on that front. Hard to pick a Tar Heel over a Titan though, Suzuki's one of the all-time greats in CSUF history.
|Q:||DON from LOS ANGELES asks:|
I see the A's signed JJ Furmaniak to a minor league contract. I saw him play with Lake Elsinore and he looked pretty good. Lost track of him. Whats his status these days
John Manuel: This is funny because I've always liked J.J. Furmaniak out of Indiana's Lewis U., coached by Irish O'Reilly, a fine D-II program. I always thought JJ would be a nice utility player; maybe that chance has passed. He has reached the big leagues; he has power. He can play varied positions. He's just a spare part for the A's, I believe, a good Triple-A signee, and they'd probably rather have had him than Jiminez if I can beat that dead horse. But one website had Furmaniak in its top 50 prospects a couple of years ago. Our rankings get a lot of scrutiny, and deservedly so, but the fact that a website had Furmaniak in its top 50 . . . I mean, wow. Wow.
|Q:||Rickey Henderson fan from Left field, Oakland Coliseum asks:|
I'm intrigued with Vasili Spanos, the 1B-3B prospect at the Double-A level. I see him as a Kevin Millar-type. We have the A's left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft???
John Manuel: This is just a ridiculous stretch of questions almost personally suited to me. I love Spanos--one of the most Greek names in the minors, and if someone needs a Christmas gift idea for me, a No. 34 Spanos jersey from Greece's 2004 Olympic baseball team would rock. Spanos went to Indiana, has always hit (shared the Cape home run lead one summer I believe), but he's not athletic, not a good fielder . . . more of a 4-A player, not as athletic as Millar, frankly. That's his absolute upside, though, and I really hope he fulfills your hopes. Outside of Vasili's immediate oikogenia (Greek word for family), no one would be happier.
|Q:||Zeke from Cornhusker country asks:|
Where's the love for the " Hawaiian Punch-out " Shane Komine? I thought he had a pretty good year, a few decent starts for the A's, and was deserving of a Top 10 ranking.
John Manuel: And now the finale. Where's the love for Shane Komine? I INVENTED the nickname you just used . . . Not that it's so original, but it has stuck and it pleases me that Shane doesn't seem to mind it (even though I believe, while he's from Hawaii, he's not Hawaiian; he's Japanese-American). It pained me to leave Shane, truly in my top-five all-time favorite players, off the list. No one player is more reponsible for the rise of a college baseball program than Komine is for Nebraska's rise to prominence, and I covered college baseball the whole time he was there. So I have more love for Shane Komine than a straight man probably should. Now, as for his prospect status . . . he's smaller, a bit older now, and more importantly, his stuff just fluctuates too much. In the fall of 2005, Komine had mid-Nebraska career stuff, when three coaches told me he had three plus pitches (mid-90s fastball, nasty downer curve and dirty splitter). The A's just didn't know what Shane they were going to get at different times this year, and he sat in the mid-80s more often than not. He's not physical, he's had injury history that's significant . . . I believe in Shane, but that's based on very subjective measures. Objectively, he didn't desserve to be in the top 10. It's kind of silly that the one year I do the A's, a couple of my favorite guys, like Shane and Kevin Melillo, don't make the top 10. But google "John Manuel"+"Shane Komine" to get a glimpse of "the love" you seek.
|Q:||JJ from Seattle, WA asks:|
How would you rank the top 5 farms in the AL(obviously the Rays are #1)?
John Manuel: Yes, J.J. the Devil Rays rank first. After that . . . hmmm. Very good question. Not having truly studied them, but having read them all for the Handbook (at least the top 10s), I'll go Rays first, Angels second, Yankees third, Twins fourth and Tigers fifth. The Tigers make it almost completely on the strength of Maybin and Andrew Miller; their depth is behind the Red Sox, and I bet on further review, I'd rank the Royals or Red Sox ahead of them, as the Royals have significant impact talent at the top of their system. But Maybin and Miller are both in my personal top 10; maybe both in my personal top 5. That's hard to ignore. A's don't make that cut.
|Q:||Don from Gilbert, AZ asks:|
Why do people think Travis Buck's power will improve? When people say his power will improve, are we talking 15-20 HRs or 25-30 HRs? Brian Giles-esque???
John Manuel: Perhaps Brian Giles-esque, even though they couldn't be too much more dissimilar in their body types. I don't see 25-30 homers, but guys have been slapping 60 and 65 grades on his power since high school, and that's 25-30 homers. I'm more conservative, I think 20-25 would be more than adequate for him as long as he's hitting .300 and 40 2Bs per year, and frankly, he doesn't seem far from doing that. The A's have a good program for getting position players to improve their throwing arms somewhat, and I'm guessing Buck will end up in RF with Sulentic as the LF eventually. Buck runs well enough and is athletic enough to move to the other corner outfield. As for the why, it's all in the report--body, strength, swing path, knack for squaring up the baseball . . . asked and answered, counselor.
|Q:||Ben Grieve fan from Sacramento, CA asks:|
Is was disappointed to see the A's move Jason Ray back into the bullpen once he got promoted to High A Stockton. I saw this guy as a small flame thrower in the Rich Harden mold.
John Manuel: What are you, Ben Grieve's cigarette salesman? You're still a Ben Grieve fan? Interesting . . . Ray isn't Rich Harden. Rich Harden struck out 100 guys in short-season ball in like 70 innings; I know because I'm the one who ranked him like 16th in that league that year and called him "James." Stay hot Manuel . . . Ray throws hard but lacks Harden's ability to pound the strike zone and better feel for pitching. He's a one- or two-innings guy and just doesn't have the command or repertoire to be a starter. He's more like Scott Proctor . . . whom the Yankees are grooming to maybe start in '07! Maybe you're right after all . . .
|Q:||Billy Beane from War room, Draft headquarters, Oakland coliseum asks:|
Does RHP Andrew Bailey profile as the next Joe Blanton????
John Manuel: Does he have cankles? I guess he is big bodied, but he sounds like a different pitcher--maybe throws a bit harder more consistently, less of a curveball (at least comparing him to Blanton the amateur), less of a feel for pitching. Blanton moved quickly; he's been different than I thought, I thought he could be a strikeout guy in the majors when he was drafted. Bailey sounds like he has less of a chance to start than Blanton, who's become more of a grinder, back-of-the-rotation type.
|Q:||KB from NH asks:|
At 5'10 and 160 lbs, Javier Herrera doesn't appear to possess the stature of a power hitter. I understand that size is not a prerequisite for power, but do you think his use of performance enhancing drugs had an effect on his ability to hit for above average power?
John Manuel: I am sure he's not 160 anymore, but I was unable to get a more accurate weight for him. That's my fault; I'm sure he's more like 180 now. That said, he has strength, quick hands, bat speed . . . you can generate power by generating great bat speed or by simply overpowering the ball with raw strength. That's known as the McGwire or Kingman approach, while Herrera's more of a bat speed guy. The Magglio Ordonez comp thrown out by one A's official surprised me, but it was in referendce to his swing path and bat speed, not size. The A's definitely believe in Herrera's power. As for the performance-enhancing drugs . . . that's the great unknown. How much of his power was artificial? If any organization has experience with this, it's the A's (McGwire, Giambi, Velarde . . . those are the 'proven' ones, I believe there are others). That fact, and the fact they still believe in him, makes me think his power is legit, not artificial.
|Q:||Jack from north carolina asks:|
How close was Kevin Melillo to making your list?
John Manuel: Pretty close. He improved quite a bit defensively, made just 6 Es, which is amazing. But if you grad out his defensively skills and tools, he's still not a good defender, according to the scouts I talked to. His range is limited, he dives for a lot of balls he shouldn't have to, he's not super athletic and probably won't get a whole lot better. It's not for lack of effort. Melillo looked pretty good at 3B in the Arizona Fall League and may end up being a lefthanded-hitting 2b-3b reserve, or a bit more, again to use the David Bell comp. He just seems like he's more likely to be a reserve for me. Great guy, great makeup, plus mustache tool, another A's player I root for, and someone it's hard for me to write about negatively.
|Q:||Bertram from Tawian asks:|
Cahill's profile seems similiar to that of Phillip Hughes. I know Hughes is a stud and the #1 pitching prospect in baseball, but if everything goes perfectly for the A's, could Cahill develop into an elite prospect with experience?
John Manuel: You think? Hughes seems like he was born throwing strikes and consistently holds his stuff, he's big, physical, efficient . . . Cahill's just starting to be a pitcher, really. He has a long way to go to have a profile similar to Phillip Hughes. He may have a fastball and curveball that grade as above-average in the future, but command is what makes Hughes the best pitching prospect in the minors (or No. 2 if you like Homer Bailey better). We should try another comparison. If everything breaks right, though, then yes, Cahill could be an elite prospect. I like the pick for the A's, and obviously like him better than Mazzaro, Italiano or Lansford from the '05 draft, both in terms of upside but also in terms of right now.
|Q:||Bertram from Taiwan asks:|
No Carney's son? When looking at Jared Lansford what is more important, the good ERA and HIP or the low K's and poor BBK ratio? He was relatively young for Low A and young for High A. Can we say the good ERA and OBA were a sign of a great competitor and that as he adjusts to pro ball the other numbers will improve? Is his ceiling being a #2-3?
John Manuel: No Carney's son. What's more important is Lansford's stuff. He's a sinker-slider guy with no swing-and-miss pitch. He's going to have to come up with something else; what he has now helped him get A-ball hitters out but he's got a lot of work to do to get better and get big leaguers out. he'll need a changeup with movement and sink, or a split-finger fastball, or he'll have to start throwing a cutter . . . something to help him keep hitters from putting the ball in play whenever they want. Plus, he gave up a lot of free passes. His low A ERA is almost 100 percent attributable to giving up one home run there; he gave up four in 11 IP in the Cal league, though, and he is going to give up more at higher levels without a swing-and-miss pitch. His ceiling, even with another pitch, is lower than you hope. He's a fourth starter at best, IMO.
|Q:||R.Nixon from Semi Vally, CA asks:|
What do you forsee for the wild man Italiano?
John Manuel: Little lightning round . . . Italiano has had shoulder and elbow problems now, elbow in high school, shoulder as a pro . . . It's just hard to know what he will be. He has to be healthy first. I'm reserving judgment until he, say, pitches five starts in a season in a full-season league. The A's remain optimistic, however.
|Q:||Betram from Taiwan asks:|
If Sulentic has maxed out physically at 5-10, 170 will he have enough power to be a middle of the order hitter?
John Manuel: Yes, along the lines of a buck, perhaps more doubles and fewer homers, but the ball sounds different coming off his bat.
|Q:||Jack from Seattle asks:|
As you mentioned in your write-up, Jermaine Mitchell looks to be one of the bigger steals of the '06 draft. How close to being major-league ready is he? Also, how much power do you see him hitting for as a big leaguer? Thanks.
John Manuel: Those are two big questions. My two cents: a little longer than you think to get there, probably 2.5 years, and in that time, he'll develop more power, probably 10-15 homers and solid gap power, he's not just a slap-and-dash guy.
|Q:||Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:|
What kind of power do you envision Sulentic attaining? Is he a 30-35 guy or more of a 20-25 guy?
John Manuel: Sorry, did this earlier, I think 20-25 is more likely though.
|Q:||Kilty from Cross Gate Lane, VA asks:|
Looking at your top 10 the A’s don’t have a guy with over 7 HRs last year. That is a shocking lack of power while there are some bigger names like Buck and Barton on that list wouldn’t you say? In their prime where in the lineup do Buck and Barton profile as hitters?
John Manuel: Don't forget both those guys got hurt and didn't play full years. Both those guys are more 20-25 home runs guys in the big leagues eventually; that might even be optimistic for Barton.
|Q:||Fonz from Milwaukee asks:|
How does Sulentic compare with other HS hitters selected in the '06 draft? Is he in the same class as Rowell, Snider, Parmelee and L. Anderson, or a notch below? Thanks.
John Manuel: I'd say notch below because of the raw power, but when it's all said and done, Sulentic could be the best guy here, he's as polished as any of them and will hit for average with all of them. Those were some good high school hitters . . . Jim Callis and I were talking last night with a scouting director, I forget who or I'd name drop, but we both thought to ourselves, maybe the '06 draft wasn't as bad as we thought. We might have gotten caught up in some rhetoric; I will speak for myself and say that I did.
|Q:||Boris from Phoenix asks:|
Does Travis Buck have the ability to win a batting crown some day?
John Manuel: Yes, or I wouldn't have ranked him No. 1. Hitting for average is his best tool.
|Q:||Paul from Norridge, IL asks:|
What are your thoughts on the future of Santiago Casilla?
John Manuel: Middle guy, secondary stuff has slipped, he's just OK, not a special prospect by any name.
|Q:||Get Well Rich Harden fan club from Trainers room asks:|
Hardest thrower in the system? Craig Italiano, Jason Ray, or Chad Lee? Will Italiano stay in the rotation and repeat next year at Kane County?
John Manuel: Italiano when healthy, Ray's up there, Lee has to show it in pro ball, his velo was down a bit with the A's. We'll see about Italiano, I would guess the rotation for '07 becuase he needs innings, and bullpen long-term.
|Q:||Bill from Chicago asks:|
I saw Ray pitch this year and I was pretty impressed. To be fair he had 56 K in 29.2 IP in low A in 2005. That's better than 100 K in 70 IP. Could he turn into a Brad Lidge type reliever?
John Manuel: Good point; he's just not a starter like Harden, hence my apparent indignation at the earlier question. I don't believe he has Lidge's slider either. How about a Roberto Hernandez-type of middle guy? does that work?
|Q:||Matt from St. Louis asks:|
Another question about Mitchell....if he is not protected this year, does he have a chance to be a rule 5 pick and hang on in someone's bullpen? Do you see him as being a MLB quality reliver? If so, comparable to who?
John Manuel: Sure, but he's not a super impact guy, he's more of a seventh-inning guy.
|Q:||MoneyBall II, the Sequel from A bookstore near you asks:|
No A's chat is complete without a question about MoneyBall catcher Jeremy Brown. He finally made it to the show last year. Can he replace Adam Melhuse as Kendall's backup catcher or will he rot another year in Triple A with John Baker???
John Manuel: That book apparently is still in the works, at least according to people with the A's who have been contacted by Michael Lewis. Brown is what he is, a backup at best, and not an impact guy even as a backup, but a good guy, good worker, good leader, future coach or manager or scout if he wants to be.
|Q:||Sean from Fullerton, CA asks:|
Speaking of all-time great Titans, does Jason Windsor have a shot to start 2007 in Oakland's rotation? What is the biggest thing he needs to improve upon to be a successful major league pitcher?
John Manuel: Sean, Windsor's success seems to come from intangibles more than anything that he throws. He has guts and isn't afraid of contact. He could use a cutter or a splitter to give him another weapon, or he could take his control up a notch and develop better command, but the new pitch is easier to do I think. The comp I got that I liked was Justin Duchscherer, so maybe he adds a cutter and becomes a nice reliever like Duchscherer has. I do not know if he has a spot in the '07 rotation, because you have Haren, Blanton, Loaiza and Harden (at this time), plus Saarloos, Halsey and possibly Joe Kennedy in the mix, plus Komine. There's a chance, but I'd guess Sac-Town to start.
|Q:||Dave Stewart fan from Cooperstown, Ohio asks:|
Who's got the single, most filthiest, dirtiest, nasty pitch in the A's minor league system???
John Manuel: I don't know if there is one actually, but I'll go with McBeth's changeup. It's almost unfair for a guy who's new to pitching and throws 95-96 at times to throw a changeup with command and great arm action. Impressive.
|Q:||Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:|
Just how far did Mazzaro fall in the eyes of the A's, after this season?
John Manuel: Not to far, 11-20 range, still a guy they believe in, just an adjustment for the organization to have so many prep products on the mound; they have to be patient with them. So do A's fans.
Moderator: Thanks for all the questions and your interest, everyone. Hope to see you all again soon, though this is my last top 30, I had all American League organizations this year. I'll be back to chat come college season . . . Thanks for coming out, enjoy the Orlando Podcast!