Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Manuel

Minnesota Twins: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

Q:  Craig from Calgary, Alberta asks:
Was Chris Parmelee close to making the Top 10? He showed some power last season, but not much for average. Does he still project as a major league starter?
 A: 

Moderator: OK, thanks to everyone for coming out for today's Twins chat. Settle in, it might take a while.

Moderator: Parmelee was in every incarnation of the top 10 except for the final one; the same can be said for Glen Perkins, lhp. Both those guys still have pretty good ceilings. I have my doubts that Perkins will be more than a lefty reliever, which is why he's not in the 10. He could still be a starter, my money's on reliever. Parmelee appears to have less feel for hitting than people thought when he was an amateur. He has big power but for the majority of scouts we talked to, he lacks the athleticism that he probably will need to stay in the outfield. So chances are, he's going to have to be more of a one-dimensional, slugging 1B, rather than a RF whose plus arm would come into play and would hit for average. The comparison I can think of is an odd one, but right now he's more John-Ford Griffin than the Twins thought. Griffin hit .400 every year in college but became an all-power, low-average guy, and that's where Parmelee may be headed.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Had Morlan not gone to TB, would he have cracked the Top 10? Your thoughts on his mechanics?
 A: 

Moderator: I didn't have Morlan in my 10. The Twins have to love their deal with the Rays, because they got talent they like and traded players they were not as high on as other organizations. While Matt Garza and Eduardo Morlan have big arms, the Twins just weren't that high on them otherwise, on their feel for pitching and getting the most out of their talent. What's more, Morlan's velocity is good, not great; he touches the upper 90s, but doesn't command the fastball when he does that. He's more effective in the low 90s with a good slider, but it's really more of a plus slider, average fastball. It's more of a setup profile than a closer profile, so he wasn't a top 10 guy. His mechanics are inconsistent, he over-throws and over-rotates, which is why his velo varies and why he can be pretty hittable at times.

 Q:  B,Y,T, Off from Cyberspace asks:
Wilson Ramos makes this list at #3. Where would you rank him in terms of catching prospects in baseball?
 A: 

John Manuel: Couple of catching questions. I think the scouting report on Ramos says it all; he's all tooled up, young, can catch-and-throw and has offensive upside. He's one of the top 5 guys in the minors for me and has a chance to be an all-star. He was considered strongly for the No. 1 spot; when you have people in the organization calling him "untouchable," you have to listen, and at least two scouts we talked to in the Midwest League called him Beloit's top prospect. I think Joe Benson's ceiling is a bit higher because of his power and speed combo, but Benson also has further to go. I'm a big Ramos fan, and so are the Twins.

 Q:  Craig from Calgary, Alberta asks:
I see you ranked Daniel Rams as the best power hitter in the system, but how are his defensive skills? Does he project as a catcher, or is he likely to be moved?
 A: 

John Manuel: If I had the list to do over again, Rams would be in the top 30 just based on ceiling, and I left him out because of the many doubts scouts have raised over his defensive ability. But it was a mistake not to put him in the 30, in retrospect. If he does catch, he's got a very high ceiling with big, big raw power. I guess I almost lumped him into the Henry Sanchez category, which I really shouldn't have done. Most info we have is that he will not be able to remain a C, but at this point I shouldn't have written him off.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
Where does Perkins fit in within MN's plans? He sure took a tumble on this year's list, it seems.
 A: 

John Manuel: Mentioned him before, he's got a shot at the fifth starter spot, but for me, he's behind Blackburn and Duensing. Santana (if he's still there), Bonser, Baker and Slowey are their four healthy starters, with Francisco Liriano the question mark, though most indications are that he's on track to return from Tommy John surgery. There are innings to be had there, and I just think Blackburn (with his fastball command and improved secondary stuff) and Duensing (similar profile, better recent track record) are better bets. Plus, Perkins already has shown he can be a lefty reliever, and that has some value. I think he's more likely to be a reliever than a starter, hence he fell in the rankings.

 Q:  Joseph Corsin from Stage Deli, NY asks:
Is Paul Kelly still on your prospect radar, and does he still own one of the best arms in the system?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's on the depth chart, but the fact he has back and knee issues dropped him from the 30 and have prompted much regret over his ranking headed into 2007. He just didn't come back the way the Twins thought he would from his knee problem. Arm strength is an over-rated tool; if he can't play, how good his arm is won't matter.

 Q:  Derick from PA asks:
No love for my former teammate and roommate at KU Mike McCardell? I hope he's in the top 30! Where do you see Mac starting the year, and what kind of ceiling do you think he has?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's in the 30, and he won Best Curveball so I'd say he got some love. The Twins like him and intend to fast-track him. How he holds up over a full season as a pitcher and handles the grind of the minors will be the main thing to watch in 2008.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
What's the consensus on Henry Sanchez at this point? I see he's no longer the most powerful guy according to your Best Tools. What does the future hold for him?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Twins like him more than I do. All his value is tied up in the bat, and he has 310 pro at-bats due to injuries and hasn't made consistent enough contact for his bat to play. High ceiling is still there but likelihood of reaching it diminishes with every injury, every year that he doesn't establish himself in full-season ball.

 Q:  B.Y.T. Off from Cyberspace asks:
With Deron Johnson in as scouting director, how will that affect the way the Twins go about the draft?
 A: 

John Manuel: Don't think it will change that much. Mike Radcliff will remain involved, and when I brought this up with DJ just about two weeks ago, he made it sound like not much would be different. He's been their West Coast crosschecker for some time now, so the scouts in the organization know him and know what he likes, and he knows them. He'll put more of his mark after the first couple of rounds, and that's where the Twins have made noise anyway over the years, with guys like Scott Baker and Justin Morneau and Pat Neshek being productive (or star) big leaguers.

 Q:  Kelly from St. Cloud asks:
Best guess - is Santana going anywhere anytime soon?
 A: 

John Manuel: A guess is what it is, and I'd guess no, because it's not like the Mets or Yankees or Red Sox are going to magically come up with other players to sweeten the deals. What has changed to this point from the Winter Meetings regarding those teams and their offers? Nothing as far as I can tell. I saw John Heyman's piece on the Mets taking the lead, and having done the Mets top 30, if they had a middle infielder above short-season ball that the Twins really liked, I could see that deal getting done. Tough spot for the Twins—they offered Santana $20 million a year to stay, and most savvy front-office people would say no to giving a pitcher more than a four-year commitment. But he turned them down. If it were up to me, I'd keep him, see if you make a run and then see if you can trade him at midseason, knowing that may be difficult. You also can decide in that time whether or not to increase your own offer. It would be tough to swallow just getting compensation picks for a pitcher like that, but it might be easier to do that than to get an albatross contract or put yourself into a rebuilding mode that might take three-to-five years.

 Q:  Kelly from St. Cloud asks:
Where does Span go from here? Is he still on your Top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: OK, shorter answer . . . he's in the top 20, actually, and there's still a chance that he becomes a productive big leaguer. His tools are not as good, though, as someone like Jason Pridie; he's not as well-rounded. His ceiling is still that of a regular, but the chances of him doing that are pretty slim. He's a good bunter and has some patience but really doesn't drive the ball or run the bases well. He's best suited right now to be a fourth or fifth outfielder.

 Q:  B,Y.T. Off from Cyberspace asks:
Who are your favorite sleepers in the Twins system?
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, it's safe to say I like Nick Blackburn more than most . . . one Twins official had Blackburn 12th on his list. I went off the board on him and Jason Pridie, though the Twins and I like Pridie more than most as well. Hard to call them sleepers when they rank 1 and 7 but I know I like those guys more than others. Deibinson Romero and Estarlin de los Santos are guys I like a lot as sleepers, and Anthony Slama as well, a sinker-slider reliever who could move quickly. Deep sleeper—Aussie SS James Beresford, who hit for no power in '07 but whose father and brother are much bigger and were late-bloomers physically. Once Beresford adds strength, he could be an offensive middle infielder. There's just a lot of projection there—he's a double-projection guy for sure, to use an Alan Matthews pet phrase.

 Q:  Kelly from St. Cloud asks:
Manship all the way down at No. 9? Ouch. He's put on a clinic nearly every time he hits the mound, and by your projections, could hit the rotation by '09. Are the arms above him really that more polished than he is?
 A: 

John Manuel: First off, I've been informed we sold Manship short on his height and weight, which is closer to 6-foot-2, 200 pounds than what he's listed at. Second, Manship's strikeout rate declined and his walk rate jumped when he moved to Fort Myers. Third, he fits the profile of a pitcher (good command, good curve) who dominates lower levels but struggles at higher levels when he has to get good hitters out with a fastball in a fastball count. That's why he's lower.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
What are your thoughts on Winfree and Lis, and did they crack the Top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: Lis is in, thanks to a fast finish and a track record of hitting that few in the organization also have. Winfree didn't make it because he hasn't made progress controlling the strike zone and swinging at pitches he can drive, putting his raw power to use. If Winfree had panned out by now, he'd have had a shot at the big league team this year, but instead they have Brian Buscher and then Mike Lamb, because Winfree and Matt Moses aren't ready and really aren't close to being ready.

 Q:  B.Y.T. Off from Cyberspace asks:
Blackburn is #1 on this list, but he's been closer to ten on a lot of others. In fact, it seems like you can arrange 1-10 pretty much however you want based on whatever your bias may be. Is the relative parity of the Twins' top prospects a sign that the farm system is in trouble?
 A: 

John Manuel: I guess here's our money question. I do believe the Twins have no clear No. 1; frankly I could have made a case for Jose Mijares, who I have at 11, if I'd wanted to, or Deibinson Romero at 13 even. They just have a lot of depth as a system, or rather solid depth, and not much in the way of sure things or future stars. I felt best about Blackburn. Two data points say he's not a great prospect—he's older, and his strikeout rate was modest and has been modest throughout his minor league career. The rest of the data is quite good—he was a workhorse in 2007, working 159 innings, then 28 more in the Arizona Fall League, and then six more in the AFL title game, where his stuff remained very firm. In fact, he was at his best in the AFL, where three scouts I've talked to saw him maintain his 90-94 mph velocity (which I saw in Durham this summer when he pitched with Rochester), as well as the improved curveball and changeup. But he's far from a perfect prospect, and I can tell you no one in the Twins system has him No. 1. I guess that makes me and Mrs. Blackburn (if there is one) his biggest fans.

 Q:  Kelly from St. Cloud asks:
Was Oswaldo Sosa on the cusp of your list, and what excluded him?
 A: 

John Manuel: He was last year, but not this year, though he's in the 30. Sosa got cutter-happy this year and lost fastball velocity and command. I'm a fastball guy when it comes to pitching and sit up and take notice when a pitcher's fastball has life, command and velocity. Blackburn's fastball got a 70 grade from one organization for its velocity and well-above-average command. Sosa's was fringy in 2007. He just over-did it in winter ball in 2006-07 and lost arm strength in '07, really just surviving rather than developing. He's got to get back to working off the fastball in 2008.

 Q:  Carlton Dargusch from Columbus, Ohio asks:
Does Doug Deeds fit in the Twins plans down the line? I could see him as utilty guy off the bench that has a solid bat and can play several positions.
 A: 

John Manuel: Not really, just an extra guy. They like others such as Brock Peterson or Garrett Jones more than Deeds.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
Besides Trevor Plouffe are there any middle infielders who you think could help the big club someday? Kelly, De Los Santos, Dinkleman, Tolleson?
 A: 

John Manuel: Kelly has been discussed; de los Santos is the only one other than Plouffe who's in the book, and he's got explosive tools. He's smaller but is a big runner with surprising power for his size. He also is a bit raw defensively and might eventually have to move to the outfield. Dinkleman and Tolleson both have a chance, and Tolleson had a nice year last year, and he could be an extra infielder. Some Twins officials really like Dinkelman as a Frank Menechino or Frank Catalanotto type of guy.

 Q:  Bill Dictus from Madison, Wis. asks:
Lets say hypothetically that the Mets go through with a trade for Johan and send Fernando Martinez, Deolis Guerra and others to the twin cities. Would the Twins push Martinez as much as the Mets did and where do you see him starting? IF it was to happen that is.
 A: 

John Manuel: I can't imagine any organization pushing him as much as the Mets have. If it were to happen, he'd probably go to Fort Myers to start for Minnesota, because he's 19 and really wasn't ready for Double-A. The Twins would have less incentive to push him and try to pump up his trade value.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
I was disappointed to see Lahey and Guzman taken in the Rule 5. Where would they have appeared on the Twins list had then not been taken?
 A: 

John Manuel: Neither one would have made it though it appears I was selling Lahey short. Guzman is what he is, an extra outfielder. Lahey has a power arm and throws a heavy ball, and 30 was a good spot for him with the Cubs.

 Q:  B.Y.T. Off from Cyberspace asks:
The Twins have been trying to make inroads into the Dominican lately. How successful would you say they've been?
 A: 

John Manuel: De los Santos is the best of their recent DR haul, but they Twins also like Rene Leveret, who's from St. Martens, a slashing 1B; as well as LHP Henry Reyes, though both those guys are older. They also like Alex Soto, a Dominican C who's 21 and should be the everyday C at Beloit next year.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
Why are the Elizabethton Twins so good every year? Older, more polished players than the other Appy league teams?
 A: 

John Manuel: Elizabethton is Minnesota's advanced short-season club, with the GCL their lower-level, true Rookie club. So yes, Elizabethton is usually one of the older teams in the league, with guys like Ozzie Lewis and Leveret owning that league this year.

 Q:  John Webb from Rhode Island asks:
Where does Jay Rainville fit into the mix of Minnesota's Top Pitching Prospects? Was he close to regaining the top 10 after a strong showing in 07 following the 06 surgery? What is the Twins plans for 08?
 A: 

John Manuel: Rainville's stuff didn't come back the way the Twins had hoped, and he ended up out of the top 30. It was a strong showing in that he came back and made every start, but not a strong showing in terms of stuff, and his velocity especially was down in '07, touching some low 90s but consistently sitting in the mid-to-upper 80s instead. The Twins are pulling for him but they are no longer counting on him.

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
How close were the Twins to signing Nate Striz and Evan Danieli?
 A: 

John Manuel: Don't have the dollar figures but the Twins made an effort to sign both players and really wanted Striz, otherwise they wouldn't have drafted him in the fifth round. However, they still got some nice pitching in this draft with guys like McCardell, Dan Berlind and sleeper Charles Nolte, who has one of the organization's best arms if he can stay healthy.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
The Twins seem to be signing players from historically baseball-barren countries like Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and plenty of players from Australia. Are they exploring new areas because they cant compete in the Dominican and Venezuela? Do you feel this is a waste of efforts?
 A: 

John Manuel: I certainly wouldn't characterize it as a waste in Australia, where they have gotten some big leaguers (Grant Balfour, Brad Thomas, Mike Nakamura) if not any players who have become stars. They had high hopes for Alexander Smit and have high hopes now for Loek Van Mil, their top Dutch prospects. Their former German pitcher, Tim Henkenjohann, pitched very well against Cuba in the World Cup in November, sitting 91-93 and throwing eight innings in that game (he gave up seven runs but I'm guessing Germany's defense ain't all that). So they've found talent; I think they are trying to find talent where others aren't looking, to find a niche in the market they can exploit, and if they get one big league regular out of it, it probably will be worth it. To date, it has not quite worked out that way. They've had more success in Canada with the likes of Corey Koskie and of course Morneau.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
Is Jose Morales a strong enough defender to be a backup catcher in the big leagues?
 A: 

John Manuel: Backup seems to be his ceiling, and he's a solid hitter but doesn't have a lot of power.

 Q:  Big Dave from Arkansas asks:
How close to the top ten were Oswaldo Sosa and Yohan Pino? What kind of projection do they have for the pros?
 A: 

John Manuel: I've touched on Sosa. Pino didn't even make my top 30. I loved Yohan Pino last year, but he's a pitchability guy who has not added velocity or quality to his stuff over the years, and he was torched in his first exposure to Double-A, which unfortunately is what happens to pitchability guys with fringy, fringy stuff. That's Yohan Pino.

 Q:  Jon from Youngstown asks:
Matt Fox finally made a lasting appearance in 2007, and he had a pretty good season at Beloit. Is he close to regaining the stuff that made him a 1st round draft choice in 2004? If so, how did he not make your top ten list? If not, is there any hope within the organization that he will get closer in 2008?
 A: 

John Manuel: Our reports on his stuff were not encouraging, so he's not in the 30.

 Q:  Big Dave from Arkansas asks:
So Slowey and Perkins didn't qualify? Where would they have been ranked if they were eligible?
 A: 

John Manuel: Perkins qualified and is in the 11-15 range. Slowey would have been an easy No. 1 had he qualified but he did not.

 Q:  Big Dave from Arkansas asks:
How good is Ozzie Lewis? How much did his age/experience level play into his MVP performance?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm not sold and didn't rank him, and he didn't even really have the best season on that team; I didn't give much credence to his MVP award. (Sorry to sound like a Jim Rice Hall of Fame chat . . . )

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
The Twins system is in desperate need of some impact prospects. The Twins also have three high picks in the years draft. Will the Twins be willing to spend the money to get decent draft prospects, or will they mimic last year's draft and sign players WELL below slot, who they probably could get in later rounds?
 A: 

John Manuel: Some more quick answers . . . agree the Twins lack impact talent. They are willing to spend the money on players if their evaluation of the player equals what the player and agent are seeking. They spent $5 million-plus on Mauer, but i the last five or six years, they've usually drafted lower and haven't been willing to pay huge money for players who have fallen. I don't think the money is the problem; the problem is, the Twins missed on some of these high school hitters they've gone after, guys like Span, Matt Moses and to a lesser extent Plouffe, who's good but won't be impact. (Wow, that was NOT a short answer.)

 Q:  john from wisconsin asks:
what do you guys think of danny valencia he had a pretty good season?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's in the top 30 but he's not a great 3B (poor range), and his feel for hitting was lacking somewhat. Also, we don't have great reports on his makeup, going back to his college career. I ranked him lower than his statistics might have warranted, but he seems like he's not as good as the numbers indicate.

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
Is Loek van Mil a viable prospect? What does his fastball top out at?
 A: 

John Manuel: He ranks ahead of Valencia, for what that's worth. He topped out in the mid-90s in relief in the World Cup and has a chance to be an impact reliever in the future. He's completely unique—a 7-foot-1 Dutch pitcher. Not sure what to comp him to, because there really is no comparison—Jon Rauch maybe? That wouldn't be a bad career, as Rauch has been a good, durable middle reliever the last two years.

 Q:  Johnny Fever from Cincinatti OH asks:
Angel Morales, opinions really seem to vary on this kid. Will he be a big-leaguer? How far out of the top 10 did he place?
 A: 

John Manuel: Extremely raw, didn't make the top 30, and the tools don't show up consistently. As an amateur that was the case as well, and some scouts thought he was a showcase or workout guy whose tools didn't play nearly as well in actual games. So I went conservative with him.

 Q:  Christy from Springfield, IL asks:
Hi John, Can Anthony Slama be a sleeper relief prospect?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's probably my biggest pick to click in the system, the Twins really like him and wouldn't be shocked if he shot through the system this year. It's a lower arm slot, at his best it's a 55 slider, 55 fastball and he commands both, so he could be a groundball middle reliever very soon.

 Q:  Lue from Richmond asks:
Where is Matt Moses ranked on the list? Is he still considered the 3B of the future?
 A: 

John Manuel: No, he's not on the 30, so that answers the second part of the question. Left off the 40-man roster and sailed through the Rule 5 draft, we heard zero buzz about Matt Moses at Rule 5 time. He's got a long way to go with the tool that was supposed to be his meal ticket—his bat. He might play a lot more 2b in '08 than 3b, it appears, as he finished '07 at 2b and actually has made solid progress there.

 Q:  Twinkee from Land of 15,00 Lakes! asks:
Wow, this list is missing some very excellent and very young pitchers of the E-Twins staff from 2007: Michael Allen, David Bromberg, Michael Tarsi, Henry Reyes, Michael McCardell, Bradley Tippett, and Spencer Steedley?!?!?! How did none of these guys squeeze in? I feel they have better futures ahead of them then guys like Swarzak, Duensing, and even Blackburn!!! The Twins are LOADED with young arms! How do they rate vs. other teams w/young P prospects?
 A: 

John Manuel: It would be a brutal sign for the Twins if Spencer Steedley made the top 10 . . . No offense to Spencer, who had a great debut as a pitcher. The TWins are loaded with young arms, and several of those guys made the book. To pull one out, Tippett has a ridiculous changeup. LH hitters went 0-for-36 against him with 19 K's, and he's righthanded. He's also got about a 40 fastball right now. Bromberg has a big arm, he's the highest-ranked guy of that group. I respectfully disagree otherwise, but I do think the Twins' pitching depth is quite good, top 5-7 in the game.

 Q:  jamie from jonesville, va asks:
If the minor league system is as depleted as it looks does it not make sense to make the Santana deal and add some real talent?
 A: 

John Manuel: I wouldn't say it's depleted; it lacks impact talent.

 Q:  Mets Fan from Citi Field Baby! asks:
Dustin Martin and Drew Butera for Luis Castillo...am I the only Mets fan who feels like we gave up future big league talent for an aging slap hitter?
 A: 

John Manuel: Neither will be an impact guy, but both would have made the Mets 30, especially Butera who can really catch and throw and has backup C written all over him. Martin's solid in terms of tools, nothing spectacular, he's going to have to keep proving it to me but it appears he can hit.

 Q:  Patrick from Sandpoint, Idaho asks:
I'll ask what many are asking. Just who is Joe Benson? I remember the name and heard about the potential but a #2 overall? How raw is he and does that much weight go to potential and tools or do you see the actual refinement being there and what MLB player would you project him as? Steve Finley?
 A: 

John Manuel: Actually I bet most Twins fans know he was their second-round pick in '06 and if you subscribed last year or got the Prospect Handbook last year, you'd see that I wrote that he had a higher ceiling than first-round pick Chris Parmelee but had a lot more projection. Benson's got plus-plus speed and really the biggest question with him is the hit tool, which is the worst question to have about a player. However, he made some real progress in 2007, and he's got the athleticism and bat speed to project as an average hitter. He's a power-speed CF who could be a Mike Cameron type of guy; I don't see him winning batting titles but I can see him hitting .260 or .270, hitting 20 bombs, stealing bags and playing CF. That's a pretty good player; closest thing to a star the Twins have in their system.

 Q:  Patrick from Sandpoint, Idaho asks:
Was curious about Swarzak. If you take away the first 2 starts before the suspension, his numbers are awesome, yet he does not project in the 2011 landscape. Middle reliever or just needs better tools to crack the 2011 rotation?
 A: 

John Manuel: Remains to be seen, but he lacks a third pitch right now, and that's a problem when your fastball and curveball are good but not great. If Swarzak commanded his fastball better, he wouldn't need more than a show-me third pitch, but he doesn't, and right now, that marks him as more of a middle reliever. If he commands the fastball better, though, he can stick as a starter, but he's shown little feel for a changeup and to my knowledge doesn't have a splitty or other pitch to go change speeds with.

 Q:  Patrick from Sandpoint, Idaho asks:
Every once in awhile, a guy comes out with Manship's numbers, the great k/bb ratio but is regarded with much limitations. Obviously this has to do with the 20-80 scales on stuff, but don't the rankings here then match many scout's criteria of ignoring guys with savvy and glamoring over 97 mph heaters? Doesn't a Manship have a chance to be the next Maddux?
 A: 

John Manuel: Manship has savvy but less margin for error. Maddux threw harder as an amateur and has had the best command probably ever, as Jim Callis wrote the other day. How many "next Maddux" tags have been given out over the years? More likely, Manship is the next Jeff Suppan, which is fine. But grade his stuff out side-by-side with Blackburn and they are similar in many ways, but Blackburn has more fastball, more success at higher levels and a bigger, more physical frame. Again, not much difference in this system between 1 and 10, or 1 and 13, or 7 and 20 for that matter. Not much separation in this system.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What's the latest on Drew Thompson? Do you expect him and Kelly to be ready for spring training?
 A: 

John Manuel: Back injury that has not prompted much optimism of a return to the prospect the Twins drafted.

 Q:  Steve from Dallas asks:
If the Twins finally pull the trigger on the Santana deal to the Mets, I know Martinez would easily be the #1, where would Mulvey and Guerra land in the Twins top 10
 A: 

John Manuel: Martinez would go one, and if it's Carlos Gomez, he'd go 1 too. Deolis Guerra probably would go 2 for me and Kevin Mulvey would be down in the 8-10 range with Duensing and Manship, he might rank behind those two guys.

 Q:  Josh from Morgantown, WV asks:
Do you see McCardell making a shift to the pen in the future? From what I've read, his change is pretty ineffective and I'm just not sure he could be anything more than a backend starter so was curious what you see for him down the road. Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: He could be more, as he was also a 3B in college and has fastball command already. Let's see how his changeup progresses in '08 but yes, he could just be a setup man with that fastball and that curve.

 Q:  Joe R. from Newport News, VA asks:
What makes Jason Pridie a better DEFENSIVE outfielder than Denard Span? Span has the most range I've ever seen in center field other than Eric Davis.
 A: 

John Manuel: Better routes, more savvy, better arm.

 Q:  Kirk from MN asks:
Could you explain what happened to Pridie in 2006? Was his .585 OPS just the result of the lingering injury from 2005? Even if another CF'er is acquired, is he likely to make the team as the 4th OF'er?
 A: 

John Manuel: Pridie had a knee problem and didn't react well to the adversity of being hurt, not making the Twins out of spring training as a Rule 5 draft pick and being passed over by his peers in the Rays system, guys like BJ Upton and Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young and Wes Bankston that he always had played with previously. He got in much better shape in '07 and his tools finally played the way they had earlier in his career. I'm very bullish on Pridie; I saw him a lot at Durham this year and loved his energy, his swing, his surprising power. The Twins have called him a "cheap five-tool" player, a guy with 50s across the board at the least. He's got all kinds of talent; the guy got a bigger signing bonus than Ben Revere did, and that was back in 2001. He got Steve Finley comps out of high school and he's kind of a Mark Kotsay type of guy now, but with more power. Kotsay's career averages, according to Baseball-Reference.com, are .282-.337-.415. Pridie should be able to do that, with more power and similar defense.

 Q:  Steve from Dallas asks:
I was pleasantly surprised to see Joe Benson at #2. Do you see an Aaron Rowand type ceiling for him? Good CF, hit for good average and power?
 A: 

John Manuel: That's really a better call than my earlier comp, though Benson has more speed than Rowand; I think people sell his speed short. Benson's a 70 runner.

 Q:  Kirk from MN asks:
What can we expect from Angel Morales next season? Will he split time with Revere in CF in Beloit or is he better suited for a corner OF spot?
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't think he's polished enough to make a full-season team out of spring camp. He's a CF when his tools play but might be an RF if he fills out.

 Q:  Scott from asks:
With Mauer firmly entrenched at backstop, how can the Twins view Ramos as untouchable? Is the thought that Ramos is so far away from the Bigs (3 plus years) that they'll just wait and see what happens?
 A: 

John Manuel: That's what made me rank him so high. I think the thought is, the Twins probably believe Ramos is in the top 3 catchers in the minors and would have to be overwhelmed to deal him. Catching talent in the minors is pretty thin now, so his value is high. I think that's why they used that phrase.

 Q:  forrest from tabor s.d. asks:
Did kyle waldop make your top 30 and does he have a future with the twins?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not this year; the projection the Twins expected has never come to pass, pretty middling stuff still from the Farragut High alumnus.

 Q:  Kirk from MN asks:
Alot of guys (Bromberg, Tarsi, McCardell, Reyes, Tippett, and others) put up big numbers in Elizabethon last year. Which of these guys are most likely to take the next step as a prospect?
 A: 

John Manuel: Bromberg's the best of that lot, a draft-and-follow signee who has a lot of power, more to come judging by his projectable frame, but who also lacks a consistent second pitch right now. He could jump into the top 10 next year if his power breaking ball and (or) changeup improves in '08.

 Q:  Bill from Montgomery, AL asks:
Does Brian Bass have a legit shot of making the Twins in some compacity?
 A: 

John Manuel: I thought I took a Bass question earlier but apparently I did not. Bass was the source of controversy in the organization because some guys love him and others were incredulous that he would be considered for the top 30. I actually ranked him, based on reports we got of him hitting 94-95 mph regularly with his fastball in August as a starter at Rochester, coupled with a power slider. He's got an outside shot at the No. 5 starter's job. Surprisingly, his stuff was better in the rotation than out of the bullpen.

 Q:  Mark from No Shows asks:
Can you explain why Jose Mijares is so low on the list?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's right at No. 11, so I don't think that's too low for a LH reliever with less-than-ideal makeup and iffy command.

 Q:  Mark from No Shows asks:
Where did Dave Bromberg rank? BA had him ranked pretty highly in the league top 20's if I remember right.
 A: 

John Manuel: Forgot that I took a Bromberg question (or two) earlier, but he's in the 11-15 range.

Moderator: Well, that's going to do it for the Twins chat. No Tyler Robertson questions? Couldn't believe that. I will take a second to say if you polled Twins staff, they probably have Robertson as their internal No. 1, but the scouts we contacted outside the organization were not nearly as bullish on him as the Twins were. I was comfortable ranking him fourth, about the only guy I was comfortable ranking on this whole list. Thanks for coming out, the AL West starts Monday with the Angels chat.