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, 2009.

Q:  Brook from Dallas, TX asks:
After being left off the 40 man roster, does Ryan Mullins have a future with the Twins? Is he a top 30 prospect in their organization?
 A: 

John Manuel: Maybe. I've been a Mullins guy since his New England Collegiate League days, but he's just not consistent enough, on or off the field, to be as good as he can be. He's got a good curveball, so maybe he's a lefty relief guy, but I didn't rank him in the 30. I suppose someone might try to pop him in the Rule 5 but he's way down the list of Twins guys I'd take.

 Q:  Tim from Proctorville, Ohio asks:
What does Dan Berlind need to do to turn potential to production?
 A: 

John Manuel: He needs a lot of help. I ranked Berlind last year and have a professed affection for LA Pierce JC guys (Zito, Coco Crisp, even Kurt Birkins). But he lost it last year — his delivery, confidence, everything. He'll have another chance, you don't write off guys with his size and raw ability, but he's very raw and took a big step back in '08.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
How far off the Top 10 did Guerra fall? What does he need to improve upon next year to make it back?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's in the 11-20 range. He needs to improve everything — reports on Deolis are not encouraging. The Twins confirmed our reports we had from his Mets days, that he hit 95-96 mph with his fastball, had a plus changeup. He just wasn't the same guy this year. There's a dispute over whether he was changed or whether he himself did the changing, but his delivery was different this year and obviously he wasn't as good — 88-90 mph fastball instead of a plus one. He is probably job one for new pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen, who was his pitching coach last year at high Class A Fort Myers. That's a challenging assignment — here, restore a centerpiece of this huge trade to his former luster.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
What are the odds Hicks gets converted to a pitcher at this point?
 A: 

John Manuel: Zero. The Twins believe in the bat wholeheartedly.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Is Parmelee still in the 11-20 range? How far has his stock fallen in your eyes?
 A: 

John Manuel: He is, and he was having a pretty nice year before he hurt his wrist. It's unrealistic to expect him to have big numbers next year, because he's a power guy coming off a wrist injury who's also going to the FSL, a pitcher's league. But he does have to show some of the feel for hitting he displayed in high school, and it would be good for him to keep playing some outfield, because his arm is a plus tool. But you're basically looking at a bat here, that's where the value is. He still has a chance to make an impact as that kind of player. The big question there is bat speed — does he have the bat speed to catch up to big league fastballs. Scouting reports there are mixed.

 Q:  Katie from St. Cloud, MN asks:
Did Osterbrook make your top 30, and could you tell us about him?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not yet, not in a system that is deep in pitching like this one. I left out several pitchers who could make top 30s in other orgs, such as B.J. Hermsen, Osterbrock, Jose Lugo, Lanigan, Armando Gabino (who is on the 40-man roster) . . . the Twins have excellent pitching depth. Osterbrock has one plus pitch, his changeup, and plus command. The rest of the package is fringy, so we'll see how that plays at upper levels. But take a look at the command numbers on that Elizabethton team. The Twins teach command better than other clubs — we saw it in the majors this, we've seen it in the minors the last few years, and we see it at low levels like Elizabethton. Very impressive.

 Q:  Travis from Austin, TX asks:
How did Danny Rams handle his first year in the minors? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Danny Rams is extremely raw. The Twins rolled the dice that high on him in the draft because the power is potentially special, but he's far away. He might be ready for Beloit next year but he might not. He's not a top 30 guy for me. Might need five or six years in the minors, a couple thousand minor league at-bats, and there's no guarantee he'll stay behind the plate, either.

 Q:  Ike from Denver asks:
How far did Joe Benson slide on your list this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: He was all over the map; in several incarnations he was still in the top 10. He's held in very high regard in the organization. His tools are superior to those of Angel Morales, who ranked 10th and is a "tools" guy. But Benson hasn't made progress with the bat, and back injuries scare me. He's in the 11-15 range, right near Parmelee as he always seems to be. Those guys are inextricably linked for me, and both played exactly 69 games this year before getting hurt. Somewhere, Bill & Ted are snickering.

 Q:  Pete from RI asks:
Is Henry Sanchez still on your prospect radar?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not for me. He has 330 career at-bats, can't stay on the field, and his only plus tool is power. I believe that's a bust. I mean, he was drafted six spots ahead of Jed Lowrie; three spots ahead of Clay Buchholz. The Twins had a great 2005 draft anyway, with Matt Garza at 25, Kevin Slowey down at 73, and Steven Tolleson, who's really coming on, in the fifth round. Plus they like Duensing (still a top 30 guy) and Alex Burnett (12th round). It's a good draft without Sanchez, but he's a bust at this point. Hope he has one healthy year so we can see if there was something there.

 Q:  John from Pensacola, FL asks:
Was it really necessary to protect Drew Butera and Deibinson Romero from the Rule V draft? They both seem unlikely to have stuck on a team's major league roster.
 A: 

John Manuel: Two very different players. Romero would be tough to keep in the majors, because he's quite young & inexperienced, but he's got major league tools. He almost made the top 10 last year (he was 13th), and he was just getting hot when he got hurt at Beloit this year (that happened to several Snappers this year—Benson, Parmelee, Romero, Van Mil). Romero's tools, for me, were too good to risk losing. Butera, though, would stick, because he can catch and throw at a big league level now, and could be an effective big leaguer. He could be Mauer's caddy in a year or two if he figures it out with the bat — why give that up when you don't have to? I think both were sound moves. The Twins had some tough 40-man choices, but those were two of the easier ones, for me.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
What does it say to you about the Twins' assortment of arms as a whole when none of the pitchers on your Top 10 list made the 2012 Team Lineup Card?
 A: 

John Manuel: It says much more about how good and young their current big league staff is. Here's how good that staff is — they lost Silva, traded Garza and traded Santana and still had excellent starting pitching. Which of those guys you gonna kick to the curb, Jaypers — and you know better than to say "Blackburn."

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
So is the sky the limit for Aaron Hicks? How does he compare to guys like Daryl Strawberry and Eric Davis tools wise?
 A: 

John Manuel: Oh, hey Kyle . . . yes, I think the sky is the limit. He's a switch-hitting, more disciplined Torii Hunter if it works out, maybe even with Torii's plus makeup, leadership, etc. That last point might be too much to ask but it sounds like Hicks plays with some elan as well. I don't put Straw on him because the body is different — that's more Dominic Brown of the Phils, who's 6-5, 170. Eric Davis, though . . . honestly, that may not be too far-fetched. I think the Twins would take that.

 Q:  Meta from Atlanta asks:
Is Martire Garcia a prospect? He made a pretty nice stateside debut, and he's a pretty young kid.
 A: 

John Manuel: He is, and just missed the top 30. If he had better command, I'd probably have ranked him. Good, hard curveball, good movement on an average fastball, and he competes. I've completely fallen under Rick Knapp's spell when it comes to fastball command if you can't tell. I value fastball command in pitching prospects because it promotes pitch efficiency, durability and makes secondary pitches play up. Garcia's got a good arm, and will be a top 30 (or higher) guy when he shows improved fastball command.

 Q:  Craig from Beloit, WI asks:
John, Rene Tosoni was having a good year before his injury, how close was he to making the top 10 and your thoughts on how he compares to the other outfielders in the system ? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: Craig, Tosoni was a pick to click of mine last year and was having a good season before he fouled a ball off his back foot, breaking a bone, and he missed about three months. He's the best mix of well-rounded tools and hitting ability of the Twins' outfielders, after Hicks. He can do a little bit of everything — run, hit, throw. He might wind up a tweener, but most scouts think he'll hit enough to be a regular. He just has to do it for a full season to jump into the top 10, and the ceiling may be a bit limited by his power, which projects as no more than average. I am a fan.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Was it close between Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere for the number 1 spot?
 A: 

John Manuel: Fairly close, but Hicks' upside is truly special. Revere is quite the offensive player right now, but I don't buy the average power projections of some in the Twins system (he's not a slap hitter, but I don't see 10-15 homers annually from Revere). Hicks' defense was another separator. Both very good prospects.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Wouldn't it make sense for the Twins to fast track Gutierrez so he can replace Nathan after 2010 (assuming he gets traded)? Where do you ultimately see him ending up?
 A: 

John Manuel: Assuming Nathan gets traded . . . not sure why you'd do that. I know I thought Nathan's contract was a mistake coming into the year, but he was outstanding again this year and a key factor in the team making a run at the division. He's showing no sign of slowing down right now. I mean, '08 was his best year. What's your hurry, you got Joe Nathan fatigue or something? I like Gutierrez, obviously, but he can set up Nathan until Nathan shows signs of slippage. Jose Mijares also could be a closer — that guy has the stuff to get righties and lefties out. He ranked 11th coming into the year, remember, just missing the top 10, and showed big league stuff after returning from his car accident injuries. The Twins have several options long-term for replacing Nathan, but that's long-term, not short-term.

 Q:  jeepers from MN asks:
what happended to tyler robertson this year? i figured he would make the list for sure. also, does jeff manship have a chance to be a big league starter? thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: I think the Twins wish they knew. I'd have kept Robertson in the top 10 if he'd thrown in instructional league, but he "just" had tendinitis, and he still couldn't throw in September after being shut down in early July. Combined with his stiff arm action, that spelled trouble for me.

John Manuel: Jeff Manship definitely has a chance, and I will tell you he's No. 11 this year. His performance wasn't as good this year as it was in '07, yet I think I'm more impressed with him this year. He is pushing Mulvey & Duensing and the like to pitch in Minnesota in '09 if needed. He is another great example of how the Twins get their pitchers ready for the major leagues — by having them pitch big league workloads. Slowey & Blackburn both threw 180-innings plus the year before they reached the majors, and Manship exceeded 190 counting the AFL, and his stuff remained firm in Arizona. I've come around more on Manship.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
After seeing what Ben Revere did this year, is it possible to call a Minnesota draft pick an overdraft? Did any of the other 29 teams have a clue that he was capable of hitting for that kind of average?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Twins aren't infallible — we just talked about Henry Sanchez, por ejemplo. But I think Revere is exceeding expectations. The Twins believed in his power more than others; projecting average power for Revere is not a consensus in the industry, but the Twins project that kind of juice from Revere. We'll see if they're right. I still think offensively he has an Ichiro-like package, high-average, high contact, big speed. The offensive difference is Ichiro does have raw power; the power is really the question on Revere, making sure he has enough juice for pitchers to respect him, so he doesn't turn into another Joey Gathright. Also, Revere of course lacks Ichiro's "laser" arm and fashion panache, or media entourage.

 Q:  Craig from Canada asks:
Wouldn't Shooter Hunt be more effective as a setup man or a closer in the majors with his 2 above average pitches? Keep him as a starter in the minors to get him innings, and then shift him to the bullpen once he is up to AA or AAA.
 A: 

John Manuel: Maybe, but what if he just commands the fastball, Craig? He has the velocity and life on the fastball that if he commands it, he won't really need a third pitch. He'll be able to go through lineups three or four times with a plus fastball and plus curve, with a fringy change that will just be a show pitch. But I'm talking fastball command — move it in and out, all four quadrants, pitch inside to lefthanded hitters. He's got a ways to go there, but the Twins have enough options to be patient with Hunt. He has significant upside as a starter, and I would exhaust all efforts to see if he can either truly command the fastball or come up with a playable third pitch.

 Q:  Craig from Canada asks:
Given Mulvey's output after the added pressure of the trade from the Mets, would he not benefit from at least a couple additional months in the minors before a call-up?
 A: 

John Manuel: He definitely would. I don't think anyone has implied otherwise. Mulvey's stuff wasn't as good in '08 as it was in '09, so first the Twins would like to see that plus stuff come back, instead of him being an average guy who nibbled a bit too much. Again, their big league rotation is fairly set and quite inexpensive. They have no pressing need for Mulvey in '09.

 Q:  Brett from St. Cloud, MN asks:
Which former Miami Hurricane will have a bigger impact for the Twins, Valencia or Gutierrez? Which one will arrive to the majors first?
 A: 

John Manuel: Third base is there for the taking for Valencia, as it has been for years. I can't believe I didn't have the guts to rank Brian Buscher last year in the 30, dammit I should have. (http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/features/03top10s/giants.html — that's the infamous Giants top 10 where I wrote that the Giants considered Fred Lewis' walks to be an "accident." I still hear about that from some Giants fans.)

John Manuel: So, to get back to your question, Brett, I would say Valencia, because he fits the Twins' needs to a T — RH power bat to complement Mauer & Morneau, third baseman to fill a hole that hasn't been filled since Corey Koskie left. Gutierrez may not close until Nathan leaves.

 Q:  Tim Miller from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
John, given that the Twins will be looking for several relief options for the 2009 season, which prospects do you feel they will seriously consider for bullpen roles in 2009?
 A: 

John Manuel: Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney for sure, since both went to the AFL and had such excellent years in '08; Armando Gabino, on the 40-man; Brian Duensing, who was good as a reliever for Team USA and could be a versatile pen guy; and probably Bobby Korecky, who has not really gotten a chance but is more of a fringy, up-and-down guy for me. Humber & Mulvey also could be factors, especially Humber, who is out of options.

 Q:  Tim Miller from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
What levels do you expect Aaron Hicks, Shooter Hunt, and Carlos Guiterrez to start 2009 at? Is it possible that we could see Hunt and Guiterrez in AA or AAA by the end of the year? Also, do you think that Aaron Hicks will remain at Beloit for the entire 2009 season?
 A: 

John Manuel: Gutierrez & Hunt probably will be in high Class A; the Fort Myers rotation could have both those guys, Robertson, McCardell and Bromberg. The Twins are usually a bit more conservative in promoting guys, but I believe Gutierrez will be an exception. Hicks most likely goes to Beloit next year, and yes, I could see him there all year because the Midwest League is hard. It's going to be hard to squeeze him up higher, too, because Tosoni, Parmelee, Benson and Revere are natural fits for high A.

 Q:  Derick from Jim Thorpe, PA asks:
No love for my former college teammate and roommate Mike McCardell? He ranked somewhere around 18 last year; I'm assuming with the year he had he hasn't moved down. Has he moved up at all, or should we expect to see him around 18 again this year? What do you think his future holds? Starter, or is his dominant fastball/curveball combo better suited for the pen?
 A: 

John Manuel: He moved down this year because his fastball velocity was down, and if he's a fringy fastball guy, he's probably not going to start. He did not dominate off his fastball this year, and even his curve at times was too slow. That doesn't mean he stinks — some guys have a hard time maintaining velo when they jump to full-season pro ball. That was McCardell. Let's see if it bounces back next year. Two words, Mike — long toss.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
Does Jason Pridie have a chance to contribute this year in the Big Leagues? He had a huge second half at AAA and got a callup, but seemed to struggle at the next level. Seems like the tools are there. Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: I think most Twins fans who follow our rankings know I love Jason Pridie with the intensity of the headache I've been dealing with most of today. He wowed me in 2007 at Triple-A Durham, and I do think he has tools to be a big league regular. But he also is too aggressive — he's never going to walk a lot but he struck out too much in '08, and he looks more like a second-division regular than a championship regular now. He's pretty superfluous for the Twins right now with Span, Gomez, Delmon Young, Kubel & Cuddyer around, plus utility guys like Luke Hughes and Tolleson who can play outfield. Denard Span had exactly the kind of year that I thought Pridie could deliver in the big leagues in '08, but Span did it. Pridie had a clear shot at it and got beat out by the better player.

 Q:  mike from richmond asks:
where is matt moses? still in baseball?
 A: 

John Manuel: He is, just not as good at it as the Twins thought he'd be. He was mostly an outfielder this year. He wasn't protected on the 40-man, second straight year that's happened, and he's not in the 30.

 Q:  Kyle Reese from Twinsburg asks:
Why in the back of mind do I think that Ben Revere is just Juan Pierre 2.0? Can he play CF halfway decently? It sounds like his arm is Jello from all scouting accounts.
 A: 

John Manuel: You're over-thinking. Pierre hit one homer in 317 games in the minors, Revere has more power than that. That said, Pierre was a very useful big leaguer in 2001, 2003, 2004. He's easy to bash now, but he had .360+ OBPs in each of those years. Revere can probably do that, perhaps a bit more, and have more power. His arm improved about a grade this year, from a 20 to 30, but honestly how much does that matter? Pierre was a championship CF. Bernie Williams & Johnny Damon had rag arms and were championship CFs.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Hicks/Revere. So who ends up in CF and what becomes of the other?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hicks is the superior defender and obviously has a better arm. We also have to remember Carlos Gomez is better than both of them defensively. I think both are CFs eventually, and Hicks could move to RF thanks to the arm if he fills out and hits for that kind of power. The Twins have too many young OFs anyway and some of these guys will get traded or fall off due to attrition (i.e., they'll get hurt or will prove not good enough).

 Q:  Seth from California asks:
Compare, if you would, Hicks to another recently drafted toolsy OF. Is McCutchen a fair comp, or does he have more power, making him more of a Maybin type? Or is not at either of their levels yet?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's better than McCutchen in all phases. He's more like Maybin and is more selective, with less raw power. For me, Aaron Hicks is an elite prospect, a top 25-50 type of guy in a top 100.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
What are your thoughts on Oswaldo Sosa? Can he bounce back from his disappointing season? Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm afraid that ship has sailed. Too many cutters, which led to too little fastball velocity or command.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What do you think of David Bromberg and Mike McCardell? Bromberg had a lot of K's this year but how is his overall stuff?
 A: 

John Manuel: I've touched on McCardell. Bromberg is interesting, he's got a Blackburn body with better strikeout numbers. He looks like a future innings-eater, but he showed some aptitude this year and finished very strong (50 K's in last 35 IP). He'll move up a level next year. There's not a lot of projection, that's the problem. His stuff is what it is, and he's not going to be an ace despite the K's in the MWL. He's in the top 20.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
What do you think the future holds for Kyle Aselton? Does he have a shot at the majors as a lefty out of the pen?
 A: 

John Manuel: Could be rule 5'd, never had enough command to be a guy for the Twins.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
Is Loek Van Mil a legit prospect? Where does he rank among other Twins relievers like Delaney or Slama?
 A: 

John Manuel: He ranked 19th in the Handbook last year, so yes, I have thought of him as legit. He has much better stuff than Slama or Delaney, and I like those guys (ranked Slama last year). Better fastball than both, better slider, and he's even got a cleaner arm action. But he got hurt, not sure what will happen, whether he'll come back with rehab or will eventually require surgery. He hasn't been cut on yet. He's eligible for the Rule 5 draft and wasn't protected. I believe he'll be picked and will not be a Twin next year.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Hi- Have injuries ruined the once promising career of Jay Rainville or do you still think he has a major league future? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: It would seem that they have. Same for Matt Fox, though Fox made a bit more progress getting his stuff back this year than did Rainville.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Is Zach Ward a good candidate to be taken in the rule 5 draft or do you think his stuff is too fringy.?
 A: 

John Manuel: I've never quite understood the love for Ward. He's deceptive, helps the stuff play up, never has had great command. Not a lot of upside there, so he's not a huge Rule 5 factor in my mind. Then again, Talley Haines was no great shakes and he got Rule 5'd, so you never know.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Erik Lis- prospect or not?
 A: 

John Manuel: I vote not. One tool, hitting, and he's not a good enough hitter to make up for the rest of his shortcomings. Nice minor league bat. If it all comes together, I suppose he could be a Lyle Overbay type, but he lacks Overbay's feel for the barrel.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
How would you rate some of the arms that were at Elizabethton like Osterbrock, Tippett, and Berlind?
 A: 

John Manuel: Tippett made last year's list, and his command is as good as anyone in the organization, as is his changeup. That said, his fastball is below-average. That's got to improve to get him back on the 30; it didn't this year and he came off. Berlind & Osterbrock have been touched on earlier.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
The Twins got pitchers Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, and Phil Humber along with outfielder Carlos Gomez for Santana. Of those three pitching prospects who turns out to be the most valuable on the mound in 2010?
 A: 

John Manuel: Karl of Delaware . . . nice. I'm going to go with Mulvey, because he could be a nice middle reliever short-term in '09. Relievers need to throw strikes, be able to get strikeouts and groundouts, and not walk anybody. Those are Mulvey's attributes when he's at his best. He may have the most long-term value of that group as well, if Guerra can't get straightened out.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Could you tell me a bit about Dustin Martin? Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: Just a bit . . . he's not in the Top 30 but he's got a good chance to be a useful fourth outfielder. No plus tool, but he does a little of everything, just not in pretty fashion. Mets wish they still had him.

 Q:  Christy from Springfield, IL asks:
Do you think Trevor Plouffe can be an every day shortstop or does he profile more as a utility guy? How does his ceiling compare with Estarlin de los Santos?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Twins do; I am less sanguine about his prospects. The Twins really believe this guy has special hands and will hit for some power; they comp him to Greg Gagne, have for years, and I'd also say he resembles Pat Meares, a former Twin, in his offensive profile. He just doesn't control the strike zone enough to get to his power. De los Santos was injured and coming off injury this year, and it was hard for me to evaluate him due to that. He's off the top 30; last year, I heard raves about his tools, didn't hear that this year. Plouffe's ceiling is higher right now because de los Santos has to show he can hit at a full-season level.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Will David Winfree ever put it together and reach his considerable potential?
 A: 

John Manuel: He put some things together this year. If the Twins weren't so overloaded with OFs, I'm confident he would have been protected. It's getting harder to find righthanded power in today's game, and Winfree has RH power, plus he got better this year, improving his BB rate, improving his K rate, and he's got a feel for situational hitting. I'm a believer, and it wouldn't shock me if he got Rule 5'd. Not sure he'd stick but he did play a lot of 3b in the past, it's possible he could be a useful RF-LF-1B-3B in '09.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
John, I'd like to hear your reasoning on Anthony Swarzak over Shooter Hunt. Also, who is your favorite sleeper in the system? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Quite similar pitchers, one's had success at upper levels, one's had success in Rookie ball. Swarzak is only about a year older. I ranked the guy who's reached Triple-A higher. Fastball command is the biggest question for both, followed by development of a third pitch.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
What do you think of Blair Erickson? Could he help the Twins next year?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm skeptical. He's got a lot of saves in his career, Division I career leader, but I remain skeptical. It's good stuff, not great, makeup is a separator for me, his is not the greatest by all accounts I ever got in his college career. He's down the pecking order, behind the likes of Delaney, Slama and also Charles Nolte, who is a sinkerballer with a better fastball, up to 94 mph.

 Q:  Dave P. from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida asks:
How quickly do you see Anthony Slama advancing through the minors this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: I do, he's deceptive, the Twins like him and have had offers, other teams like him. Not sure why he wasn't promoted last year, but it wouldn't shock me if he reached the major leagues in 2009, honestly. He commands the fastball with sinking life and good deception, and for a middle guy, that and a solid slider might be enough.

 Q:  Daniel from NYC asks:
Hi john, thanks for the chat, Is hicks the best OF prospect in baseball? After Tampa is this the best top ten we have seen so far and where do they rank when its all said and done?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not for me, not with the likes of Maybin, Mike Stanton, Colby Rasmus, Jason Heyward, Austin Jackson, Dexter Fowler . . . tough crowd. But he's a premium joker. As for best top 10s, I wouldnt say that. Cleveland's top 10 is my choice for best in the AL Central, lots of hitters who could help very soon.

 Q:  Jimmy from Rochester asks:
What's the report on possible future utility guys Steve Tolleson and Brian Dinkelman?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not as high on Dinkelman as I am on Tolleson, who can play SS (though not at a big league level, fringe-average at best), 2B and also runs enough to play CF. I got a Ryan Freel comp on Tolleson, that would be a nice career.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
How close was Luke Hughes?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not as close as I thought at the outset of doing this. He just hasn't shown he's good enough to play infield; if he could play 3b, I think he would have been up in 2008. He had the RH power bat to merit a look, but he has hard hands and isn't smooth in the infield. He's more of a utility guy with a good bat by all appearances.

 Q:  Pete M. from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
How excited should Twins fans be about Phil Humber's strong second half in Rochester?
 A: 

John Manuel: It depends. He had a great spring, then struggled when he didn't make the club, and finished strong, evoking a Brian Bass comparison. I'm guessing Bass comparisons don't get Twins fans excited. I think he's better than that and can help as a long reliever-swing man in '09.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:
Hey John. Thank you for the chat! Looking at this system and having hindsight 20/20, do the Twins really regret not pulling the trigger on a deal with the Yankees or Red Sox (or really anyone other than the Mets) for Santana. Certainly they got something, but it doesn't look like much at this point.
 A: 

John Manuel: It's hard to know exactly what the definite offers were, and also how players might have performed after the deal. I'd take Carlos Gomez over Melky Cabrera in a heartbeat, for example, and Phil Hughes didn't have a great year in '08 either, though I would love to see how he'd do with Knapp & Rick Anderson working with him. The Red Sox offer, if I recall, would have included Jed Lowrie. He's a better shortstop than anyone the Twins had, but I would guess Ron Gardenhire wouldn't think of him as an SS because he lacks prototype range, though he's quite good at short. Lowrie maybe wasn't the right fit. I think Gomez had better tools than any player the Red Sox or Yanks offered, and Mulvey & Guerra compared enough to Hughes and the other pitchers offered for the Twins' tastes. Last year I thought the Mets didn't have enough to deal but also wrote, "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."

Moderator: All right, two hours will have to be enough. Thank you all for bearing with me this afternoon. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday.