New York Yankees: Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Manuel

New York Yankees: 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, 2009.

Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Had he signed, where would Gerrit Cole have placed on the list? Do you see his stock falling any by the time he is once again eligible?
 A: 

John Manuel: Thanks to everyone for coming out, we'll dive right in. Cole would have been pretty high — certainly ahead of the 26-year-olds for me. Perhaps the best arm in the draft, at least for the high school class. But he didn't sign, pretty rough for the Yanks. I respect UCLA's coach, John Savage, as a pitching coach especially, so Cole very well could go high in the first half of the first round in 2011. Don't see why he'd fall.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Cervelli has won best defensive catcher in your eyes two years in a row now. What's been stopping him from cracking the top 10?
 A: 

John Manuel: Kind of obvious, isn't it? I have some pretty big questions about the bat. He'll move up from 22 last year, but that's not saying a ton about the system when a guy gets hurt and misses most of the year but still moves up.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Did imports Arodys Vizcaino and Juan Heredia garner any consideration for this list? If not, about how far down did they slide? What can you tell us about them?
 A: 

John Manuel: More from JAYPERS . . . Vizcaino & Manny Banuelos are two of the most interesting guys in the system, with Vizcaino already ranking among the Yankee's hardest throwers. His stuff is electric at times, but he's a very young guy, so he lacks some consistency. But he's got hand and arm speed so he's got a chance to have both a plus fastball and plus curve. He definitely will rank 11-20 range, and Heredia just missed the top 10 himself. His present fastball grades out a bit below average, in terms of both velo and movement. At the risk of sounding dogmatic, I want to see more out of the fastball—in terms of command, movement and velocity—before putting him in the top 10. He was 20 last year, and he moves up this year.

 Q:  Katie from San Francisco, CA asks:
I read that Jeremy Bleich has increased his velo of late. What are your thoughts on his mechanics, and could he one day make Steinbrenner forget about his failure to sign Cole? Also, was he close to your top 10?
 A: 

John Manuel: He should improve his velo because he's got a fresh arm after missing much of the spring. Bleich has a long track record of being quite good — high school in LA and Stanford, and he's got a chance for three average to plus pitches. He might have made the top 10 had reports on his changeup as a pro been better. He had a reputation for a plus change as an amateur, but hasn't shown that as a pro. It's admittedly a limited look, but throw that in with his elbow issue from the spring and I left him out of the top 10. Coke has a better fastball, secondary stuff's a bit behind, but he's also pitched in the majors and been effective. Sometimes we go ceiling, sometimes we go more for closer to the majors, and with the Yanks this year, I was feeling more of the close-to-the-majors vibe.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Do you think we'll ever see Brackman hit triple digits on the gun again?
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes; his first pitch was 97 in Hawaii, and that was with a lot of rust to shake off. I was inclined to rank him lower when I first started, but the reports out of Hawaii on him are actually quite good, the numbers notwithstanding.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Is it just me, or does Austin Jackson overated and looks to be not that much better than Melky Cabrera?
 A: 

John Manuel: It's just you, Scott. Melky Cabrera was a solid prospect—we ranked him seventh in the system in the '05 Handbook, after his '04 season, and had him as an average defender in CF (which at the time made him the system's best defensive outfielder), and as a guy with an offensive upside comparable to Jose Vidro. Jackson sounds similar but with more power and more athleticism, and the athletic ability is the separator. I didn't talk to one Eastern League manager who had bad things to say about Jackson. You still run into scouts who grade his running tool as below average; it happens to me every year. But his athletic ability allows him to make adjustments at the plate, allows him to make big plays defensively . . . he's got tools, he's adding skills every year and he's got athleticism. He's going to be better than Melky.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
What are your thoughts on George Kontos? Was he close to the Top Ten? What is his future?
 A: 

John Manuel: Want him to succeed as a fellow Greek-American (his last name means 'short' if you translate it literally). However, his velo was down this year according to everyone I talked to, and his command has never been his best attribute. He'll be in the 30, I don't have strong conviction he'll be more than a middle reliever, but he does flash power breaking stuff, and he has shown average-to-plus velocity in the past. Still a lot to work on there.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
What are the thoughts on Mike Jones, OFer drafted out of ASU? I've watched him the past 3 years and from a tools standpoint he looks great- size, speed, athleticism, potential power...
 A: 

John Manuel: It's a long-shot but one worth taking. He's a pretty good football receiver; I think his ceiling is higher in football, though I'm much less of a scout in that sport. He's 6-foot-4, he plays for an NFL veteran coach in Dennis Erickson, he's athletic . . . sounds like an NFL receiver, especially considering he has fewer than 100 ABs as a college baseball player. Just very raw.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
What does the future hold for Chris Garcia? Is he still in your Top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's closer to 10 than he is to 30. His changeup is improved, his curveball looks like it used to (though he doesn't command it or throw it with as much power as he used to, yet), but he still has a significant upside. More upside than guys like Aceves & Coke, but he has had two significant injuries, and he's missed development time that he really needed. Remember, he didn't become a full-time pitcher until he was a HS senior. He's still pretty raw for a 23-year-old. He's pretty interesting and a guy I've long rooted for since meeting him at a showcase a few years back, good makeup, good stuff, just a lot of refinements to make.

 Q:  Marcus from Endicott, NY asks:
I know it is difficult to like a draft in which Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle go unsigned, but is there enough to like about this past Yankees draft?
 A: 

John Manuel: There is, hinging on guys such as Brett Marshall, Garrison Lassiter and D.J. Mitchell. Not discounting other guys, but the Yanks took a pair of second basemen in the first five rounds in Adams and Joseph (who's already moved to 2b), so the first five rounds include 2 guys that didn't sign, 2 2Bs, an LHP and a prep OF from Los Angeles whose best tool is the bat who really was overmatched in his debut. Also, the Yankees didn't get a real impact bat in this draft, no one who really projects to hit for a lot of power. I think there's depth to the class but it's hard to see there being a star in this class.

 Q:  Kelly from RI asks:
I found it interesting how you have A-Rod shifting to 1B by 2012. What leads to believe this to be the case? Wouldn't Montero be a better fit there, rather than at DH?
 A: 

John Manuel: You know, we got rid of the future lineups for a reason, and then brought them back because people wanted them back. I will clarify again, the point of the future lineup is to show fans the strengths and weaknesses of a system — if there was no free agency, what positions does an org have in abundance, and what do they not have? A-Rod in 2012 will be 36/37 years old. He *probably* will still be at 3b, but because Bradley Suttle plays there, and because we ranked Suttle in the top 10, we put Suttle there and moved the older player to first. It's just an exercise to show you, "Hey, the Yankees have a 3B they really like." That's all. Jeter was at short; he'll be 38 in 2012. Do I really think he'll be the Yankees' 2012 SS? No. But do they have an obvious replacement? Well. Carmen Angelini, but he had a sub-.600 OPS in 2008 in low A ball. Talk about projection.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Do you think that Brett Gardner can be more than a fourth outfielder? If you were allowed to factor in potential free agents into your future lineups, would he still be starting?
 A: 

John Manuel: I said it last year several times, and now I'm having this comp repeated back to me — Juan Pierre with walks is the best-case scenario. I don't believe the Yanks would start him in LF in the future; he barely fits their profile in CF, not to mention LF. Again, the Yanks don't have any power-hitting corner OFs in the system who we believe are better prospects than Gardner. Gardner just missed the top 10, which he would have made for the third time in a row. I'm seeing him more as a 4th OF, or second division starter, than as Juan Pierre who walks, but he certainly could still fulfill that ceiling.

 Q:  Marcus from Endicott, NY asks:
Is Mike Dunn close enough that he could help out of the major league pen this year, or does he need to have a big first half to show that?
 A: 

John Manuel: Dunn's got velocity (kind of like my posse), but he's still raw pitching-wise. That said, an LHP showing 94-96 mph velo will get a shot. Thing is, Coke did the same thing and did it in the majors, plus he (a) is a better pitcher and (b) has better secondary stuff, and (c) can start as well. I think Dunn will be more of a factor in 2010, but Coke, Wilkins de la Rosa and Dunn give the Yanks three intriguing LHPs with plus velo. Only problem is all three seem to profile better as relievers. Coke's the one most likely to start, hence his higher ranking.

 Q:  Dean from San Francisco asks:
The Yankee's minor league system seems to be greatly lacking in the power category. Who do you consider their top power hitters and what do you project their major league potential to be?
 A: 

John Manuel: I agree and find it to be a big weakness in the system. The Yankees really like Brandon Laird because of his power, and he did lead the system in home runs; I haven't found a scout outside the org to show the same enthusiasm. Montero and Romine have power, especially Montero, but the rest of the system is not brimming with impact bats, and hasn't been for a while. Eric Duncan, Juan Miranda, Colin Curtis, Frank Cervelli, Bradley Suttle . . . their full-season hitters of note (either high draft or top 30 caliber) are not power guys, with the possible exception of Miranda. It's again a bit vexing to me that they didn't draft more power this year, because they don't have a ton of juice in the system, at least not that is apparent to me.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How close did Kelvin De Leon come to making this list? How do his tools grade out, and when can we expect to see him playing full season ball?
 A: 

John Manuel: I really would think all 30 organizations would rather think their top 10 prospects are all players who have played in the U.S. De Leon hit 9 HRs in the DSL, while his whole team hit 24; he's got power, which as we just said is lacking in the system. He's in the 30, which is rare for a DSL guy to make a 30. But he's further down, and I don't know that he's set to break out next year in full-season ball, he might be in the GCL or Staten Island first. The Yankees are usually more aggressive with Latin players that they really see as having star potential — guys like Tabata and Cano started in the GCL and didn't play in the DSL.

 Q:  Anton from the Bronx asks:
Which of the following two projects to be a better impact pitcher in the majors next season? Wilkins de la Rosa or Phil Coke?
 A: 

John Manuel: Coke, but de la Rosa has a better pure arm. Even with a better arm, Coke throws just as hard and made real progress with his slider, in addition to having an average change. De la Rosa has no secondary pitch with an average grade on it. He's got a low angle, sits 93-94, gets more when he needs it, but the slider is very sweepy & inconsistent. De la Rosa is really interesting, and I think the Yanks would like to see if he can start, but he probably will wind up in the pen.

 Q:  eric from texas asks:
What do you guys think about Colin Curtis?
 A: 

John Manuel: Never been a huge fan for the pro standpoint because he's a tweener — not a CF and not the power for a corner. He's a fourth outfielder at best for me. The Yankees think more highly of him than I do.

 Q:  Travis from Austin, TX asks:
Has Alan Horne fallen completely out of the Yankees plans? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: No, but he had shoulder surgery in August; this was a lost year for him. Hard to know what to do with a guy who has never pitched in the majors, never really had command (just average control) and now has had both TJ (as an amateur) and major shoulder surgery. He'll probably be in the 30 (I haven't turned in the final list yet) but that's a lot of injury history to overcome.

 Q:  andy from sarver, pa asks:
If Jose Tabata remained in the organization where would he have ranked?
 A: 

John Manuel: Almost impossible to answer, because everyone I talked to in the Eastern League said he was awful with Trenton and only snapped out of it after the trade. If he were somehow magically returned to the Yanks, after having made the late progress he made in Altoona, he'd probably rank third, because I still believe in Tabata.

 Q:  Nick from Old Greenwich, CT asks:
I was wondering since I am not sure if I will be around at 2:30 what will become of Phil Hughes now? Two years ago he was on top of the minors and considered a #1 starter. What has happened? He shows flashes and he never threw as hard as everyone said but can he still be a top of the rotation guy?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hard to know what will happen considering this guy just can't stay healthy. Let's contrast what the Yankees do with pitchers with what the Twins do. In 2006, the year before Kevin Slowey debuted in the majors, he threw close to 180 IP total between high A, double-A, Team USA and the Arizona Fall League. Nick Blackburn did the same thing in '07 between AA, AAA, MLB and the AFL. The Yanks have been much more careful with innings for guys like Chamberlain & Hughes, neither of whom has gone through a full season healthy. I know the Twins throw more fastballs with those two guys in particular being fastball guys, whereas Hughes and Joba both have plus breaking balls. Hughes threw 146 IP in 2006 and that's his career high (by a lot). I know injuries have been a factor, but Hughes just hasn't been prepared yet for a major league workload. His ceiling is still high; he still projects as a guy who can be a front-of-the-rotation guy. The chances of him doing it are a lot smaller now, that's all. He's No. 5 in the future rotation because those four guys ahead of him either throw a lot harder than him or have much more of a major league track record (Wang).

 Q:  Dean from San Francisco asks:
Abraham Almonte started out strong in LoA this season and then really tailed off in the second half. What do you contribute this to? Does he still rank as a top 20 prospect for the Yankees?
 A: 

John Manuel: Maybe top 30, but not top 20. He's got some work to do at the plate, but he's fast, he's got some pop and he's versatile. I don't see him as a regular, more as a super-utility, maybe he's Chone Figgins if it all comes together.

 Q:  andy p from Sarver, PA asks:
Who is the best middle infield prospect for the Yankees? Is there any thought of moving Jeter off of shortstop?
 A: 

John Manuel: They don't have one, that's the problem. Ramiro Pena can field but cannot hit; Carmen Angelini is far, far away. Reegie Corona is an extra guy; I over-hyped Eduardo Nunez a couple of years ago and he has not made progress, not significant anyway. That's probably why they took two 2Bs in the first 4 rounds, plus gave Garrison Lassiter the money they gave him. Lassiter has a lot of tools, the tools to play shortstop and hit for power, but he's a ways away, and considered fairly raw. Maybe he's ready by 2012, but more likely he's in Double-A or Triple-A at that time if all goes as expected.

 Q:  bernie from cambridge, ma asks:
an org filler (aceves) and a lefty setup guy ahead of melancon ? please explain.
 A: 

John Manuel: Obviously I don't consider them filler. Scouts outside the org convinced me on both counts, I actually asked two scouts who saw all three to line them up, and I ranked them accordingly. Aceves is a better version of Ian Kennedy — Kennedy with more savvy and more weapons to turn to against LHPs. Coke I've discussed; sounds like Melancon's more of a setup man for a lot of people. Personally, I think closing is more about makeup than stuff, though it helps to have at least one elite pitch. Melancon seems to have the makeup but lacks the elite pitch at this time for scouts to project him as a closer.

 Q:  Dean from San Francisco asks:
They Yankee's minor leagues are loaded with catchers now. Who do you consider their top five?
 A: 

John Manuel: Best position in the org, even if Montero is not a C. Mind you, I think in a different situation, he'd be a big league C, at least at the outset of his career. He works hard at it and has improved; he's just never going to be that great at it. I'd go Montero, Romine, Cervelli, then Higashioka and Weems, based on upside. I'm a fan of PJ Piliterre from his days as a Titan but I've never had anyone bring him up as a prospect. Could be a guy who gets there though, and it wouldn't shock me to see him as a pro manager in the future. He learned from one of the best in George Horton at Fullerton. War George Horton!

 Q:  Mitchell from NYC asks:
Any thought given to Wilken DeLaRosa,Brandon Laird,Jeremy Bleich,Addison Maruszak,Eduardo Sosa and Kelvin De Leon being part of the Yankees Top 10?? Which ones came closest?
 A: 

John Manuel: De la Rosa & Bleich came the closest. It would be bad, bad news for the Yanks if the Yankees' 17th-round pick, Maruszak, made the top 10, considering he didn't get a crazy bonus. He's a nice pick and a nice player, doesn't run well but does a lot of other things right, good scouting and good find in the 17th round.

 Q:  Elmo from Sesame Street asks:
Can you compare Andrew Brackman and Boston's Nick Hagadone? Both have recently undergone TJ surgery (although the comp probably stops there). Which do you think has a higher ceiling and which do you think will make it to the bigs first?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hmmmm, hadn't thought about it before. Hagadone's really interesting, I do our West draft stuff and he was a guy people were very, very excited about in 2007. But Brackman has elite athletic ability for a pitcher. I think his ceiling is higher, even with Hagadone being lefthanded. You're talking about a guy who really could be crazy good in Brackman, he could sit 95-97 mph with a plus-plus curve if it all comes together. Alan Matthews and I mused in 2007 that Brackman had the highest ceiling in the '07 draft class, one that included David Price and Matt Weiters. Chew on that a minute.

 Q:  Nick from Bronx asks:
Do you really think Suttle profiles as a 3B in the ML? He has not shown a lot of power and he looks to be below avg at the hot corner.
 A: 

John Manuel: Apparently so, since I ranked him. He is actually not below average according to the scouts I talked to, and guys who can hit usually figure out the power, at least to the tune of 12-15 HRs annually. If he hits .300-.380-.475 and plays average defense, you've got yourself something there. That's the kind of hitter he can be, and I might be selling him short a bit on the power.

 Q:  Ike from Houston asks:
How far away was Juan Miranda from making the top 10? He put up decent numbers in AAA in only his second year of minor league baseball since leaving Cuba. Does he still have more upside even at 25 years old?
 A: 

John Manuel: Kind of far, I'm not as high on him as the Yanks have been the last two years. Don't forget our sources from Cuba, such as Serie Nacional guides and the like, list Miranda's birthday as 1981, not 1983. He's probably 27, not 25. I don't know that there's much more left there in the bat, and if he wasn't going to get a chance this year — when freaking Cody Ransom played some first in NYC — then when's he going to get the chance? I'm just not a huge believer.

 Q:  Dean from San Francisco asks:
In this summer's trade with Pittsburg, it was originally reported that Pittsburg was taking Kontos and Coke and then finally switched to Karstens and McCutchen. Who are the better of these players? Where would McCutchen be listed for the Yankees?
 A: 

John Manuel: Coke came on a lot this year; he's very similar to McCutchen for me, but gets an edge as an LHP. Solid as a starter but better in the bullpen. He's better than Karstens for me as well, just better stuff.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What separates Dellin Betances and Zach McAllister at this point? Who do you think will ultimately have the better career?
 A: 

John Manuel: The fastball and the breaking ball. He's just got a lot better raw stuff, as well as a lot less polish. Much higher upside for Betances as a true power pitcher. Apparently I like Betances better, hence the ranking.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester, NY asks:
What can you tell me about young hurlers Nik Turley (GCL), Pat Venditte and Brad Rulon (both NYP), and Wilkins De La Rossa (SAL). They all had great seasons, putting up tremendous numbers. Are any of them considered legitimate prospects? Can we see any of them as help for the Yankees rotation in the future? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: We've talked about de la Rosa. Venditte's famous as a switch-pitcher, and I'd love to see him make it. He's in the mid-70s with his fastball from the left side and fringy from the right side, but he throws a lot of sliders for strikes; maybe that, and the gimmick, will be enough. Turley has shown impressive stuff so far, and might be on the final top 30, though more likely not. He's a tall, projectable lefty who has flashed 3 average pitches. Rulon's the classic guy who gets lower-level hitters out with a good curveball. De la Rosa is the best prospect, by quite a bit actually.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester, NY asks:
I was surprised to see Jeremy Bleich not make the top 10. Was it just because of his youth and lack of innings logged yet? Doesn't he project as a solid starter down the road? I would think his ceiling is higher than mediocre pitchers like Aceves and Coke. Where do you see him in the near future? Thanks for the chat - keep up the good work.
 A: 

John Manuel: I answered this to reiterate that I don't think Aceves & Coke are mediocre. We have reports (from other clubs' scouts, not the Yankees) of Coke throwing 95 mph with a plus slider out of the big league bullpen; that's at least an 8th-inning guy. As a starter, he's a lefty with three average pitches. Aceves is Kennedy with more pitches for strikes and more savvy & experience. He's ahead of Hughes right now in the pecking order for the big league rotation. Who's to say he's not Jorge Campillo, to compare him to another Mexican pitcher and mid-rotation workhorse type. They don't check ID's on the mound . . .

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester, NY asks:
How good can Montero be? His bat looks real special. Is there any way he stays at catcher? Can he play first at all down the road with some work? I hate to see a young player come up at 21 or 22 and be a DH right away. Is there any hope of him landing in the field somewhere?
 A: 

John Manuel: The obvious upside comparison is Mike Piazza, which is awfully high but that's what he possibly could be — a .290 or .300 hitting catcher with fringy or below-average defense but 30 home runs. I mean, that's dreaming but it's a possibility. He definitely could stick at 1B down the line, and some guys think he has enough athleticism to play left for a time, though that's not a consensus view.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester, NY asks:
Do you see Kevin Russo with a legitimate chance to play in the majors? Is there any chance he gets a shot at second for the Yanks, especially if Cano is dealt? Do the Yanks view him as a viable option, or will they go outside the organization if Cano has to be replaced? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Russo's the org sleeper for sure, Michael, good one. They do view him as an option, I left him out earlier when discussing middle infielders and should not have. He's a plus runner and a classic No. 2 hitter profile if it all works out, and he's hitting in the Fall League. Definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester, NY asks:
Jonathan Ortiz had a very good year at Charleston, putting up excellent numbers as their closer. Is there a future for him in the Bronx? Is he a legit prospect? Does he throw hard enough to be a future closer or to at least bolster the major league pen as a set up guy? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

John Manuel: Plus changeup, so maybe best-case scenario he's Edwar Ramirez, though that's more of an 80 changeup than Ortiz, which is probably more of a 60. He doesn't throw hard, not even as hard as Ramirez, who I mistakenly believed lacked the fastball to remain in the big leagues. I got that one wrong. Ortiz will have to prove me wrong as well, I don't have him in the 30.

 Q:  Stelios Alengakis from Brooklyn, NYC asks:
Yiasou (hello) John, I noticed that the Yankees view both Betances and Brackman as potential frontline starters, perhaps even aces. What other arms in the system — if any — do the Yankees believe have that kind of ability? I was wondering if the Yankees view Arodys Vizcaino and even Jairo Heredia as potential frontline starters, and if they also received serious consideration for your TOP 10 list. Also, is the thinking in the Yankees hierarchy now that BEtances has more upside than Hughes? I saw that you listed Betances as the #4 starter for the Yankees down the road, ahead of Hughes. Does this mean the Yankees have soured somewhat on Hughes? Thank you
 A: 

John Manuel: Yiasou Stelios . . . Vizcaino could be a front-line guy down the line for sure, he has a ton of upside. I'm a bit wary of throwing rookie-ball pitchers into Top 10s myself; maybe I've gone too much the other way, but I just couldn't pull the trigger on Vizcaino in the top 10. I don't see Heredia as a frontline guy because of the fastball, or lack thereof. Betances is all about upside, and yes, I do think the Yanks have soured a bit on Hughes because of the reality that he can't stay healthy.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
John, small sample size in the minors, but is Brett Marshall purely a bullpen arm or will the Yanks develop him as a starter until he moves up the ladder a little? Any word on whether his velocity came back in the GCL or instructional league?
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't think the Yankees are thinking bullpen on an 18 year old. He'll definitely work as a starter in the low minors at the very least, and his velo was fine in instructs, touching some mid-90s.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
How is it possible a team with such resources could have so few top level minor leaguers?
 A: 

John Manuel: Right now, the Yanks have more depth, very solid depth, but the impact talent is all quite young, hit-or-miss, guys like Montero who have huge upside at the plate but questions about the position, or pitchers like Brackman and Betances who could be monsters or just never quite put it all together. Seems like New York has had some bad luck with pitchers getting hurt such as Hughes, Brackman, Horne, etc., but I am perplexed that they haven't come up with a young bat since Cano. They have touted some guys a lot the last few years, such as Vechionacci, Tabata, Eric Duncan, Bronson Sardinha, Rudy Guillen . . . I think they've done a nice job drafting and developing pitchers, but some of those guys are doing more in the minors and then getting to the majors and not coming through. It's an issue for the org for sure, especially compared to Boston and Tampa.

 Q:  Lou from Boulder, CO asks:
John, is this just normal development with Jeff Marquez or should there be some concern at his struggles in AAA and in the AFL? Will he be in the 11-20 range when my book arrives?
 A: 

John Manuel: I wouldn't say it's normal development; he's a sinker-slider guy, and he's affected by poor defense behind him, but he did not make the development steps that he started to make last year with his curveball and changeup. I was higher on him than most last year and he didn't quite make me look good this year, did he?

 Q:  Daniel from NYC asks:
hi beacuse of his upside shouldnt brackman be number 1, jackson is more mlb ready but his ceiling is much lower then brackmans, what about melancon and suttle shouldnt they be higher then aceves, coke beacuse of there ceilings as well?
 A: 

John Manuel: It's just not all ceiling, Daniel. Brackman at No. 1 would have been quite a stretch for me, considering he's never pitched once in a minor league game. I thought putting him third was aggressive anyway. I've addressed that scouts I talked to believe Aceves & Coke have higher ceilings than Melancon, and Suttle, well, he's a lot further away than those three pitchers. I like him but want to see more power before I'm convinced that his ceiling is so high.

 Q:  Ed from Minneapolis asks:
It looks like the Yankees don't have the major league ready players like last year on top of the list, but it appears their bottom half of the top 10 and probably number 11-20 look very strong compared to last year with players like Marshall, Vizcaino, Haredia, Almonte, Angellini, Lassitor, Bleich, DeLeon, and Laird. Am I correct? Saying all of that, in what range would be put the Yankees compared to the other teams. Lastly, what is the prognosis of Alan Horne?
 A: 

John Manuel: Ed, that's a fair characterization. They do have good depth; I could easily rank 40-50 guys who have a shot. But at the top, after the top 5, there are some questions, no doubt. I think New York's farm system is in the middle of the pack; not many teams have hitters like Montero, catching depth, and pitchers with upside like Brackman & Betances. But the Yanks certainly have some holes. Horne's last surgery was just in August, so if he throws at all in 2009, that will be a positive.

 Q:  chris from san diego asks:
does dellin betances have a future similar to daniel cabrera?
 A: 

John Manuel: That's actually the comp one club official used for him, but he threw in, "only we'll coach him a lot better, he'll be a lot better."

 Q:  Rick from Amherst asks:
Do you see Romine hitting for average in the majors also? What is his biggest tool?
 A: 

John Manuel: I see him more of a power guy than an average guy, .260 with 20-25 homers with solid-to-plus defense. Best raw tool is arm strength, he was mid-90s off the bump in high school.

 Q:  Rick from Huntington Beach, calif. asks:
Is Ian Kennedy still a prospect? He seems to be able to put up excellent numbers in AAA, but seems to get hit hard in the show.
 A: 

John Manuel: Too many IP to be eligible. He's always been a tough guy to rank because the stuff always has been average, which is how we wrote him up last year. He needs experience and precise command to get the most out of that repertoire; he didn't have the command last year. There are two reasons pitchers don't throw strikes—mechanical issues (which can be due to injury), or fear. Seems like Kennedy was a little afraid of throwing strikes. Again, Aceves is similar but better at this stage.

 Q:  Ryan Swanzey from Elon, NC asks:
Does Frank Cervelli project for any power whatsoever? The broken wrist to kick off 2008 certainly can't help in that regard, but it seems to be the only tool he's hurting in. I'd love to hear some thoughts on him, thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: Tough to project the bat; if he doesn't hit for power, doesn't drive the ball, he won't hit for the same average he has hit for in the minors. He would be a second-division regular, really kind of similar to Jose Molina.

 Q:  bernie from cambridge, ma asks:
is buehrle (#3/4 starter) a good comparison for who bleich could become ?
 A: 

John Manuel: Buehrle is a 3-4 starter? He's more like a 2. He's thrown 200-plus innings for eight straight major league seasons, in the AL, and has a 122 career ERA plus. At the major league level, that's just about an ace, or a No. 2 at worst. If the Yankees are lucky, Bleich will have half that career. Mark Buehrle is damn good.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
John, who is your personal favorite or sleeper from NY's system?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm a big Christian Garcia fan, as already indicated. Also like Venditte, how can you not? I also kind of like Justin Snider, not a real profile there, maybe more of a Ryan Freel if it all works out.

Moderator: OK, there are more than 100 questions in the queue, but it's 5 p.m. ET, and I've been chatting for 2.5 hours. Gonna have to wrap it up. Thank you for coming and for reading BA.