The page you are looking for does not exist or has moved

Sorry, the page you're looking for is either like Sidd Finch and does not exist, or like Josh Hamilton and has moved. Where would you like to go instead?

BaseballAmerica.com Home

The latest news from our top sections:

Majors, Minors, Stats, Draft, College, High School, International or Viewpoint

Sally League Chat with John Manuel

Moderator: John Manuel will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET. Please limit your questions to South Atlantic League players and teams.

Moderator: Welcome back to the chat room, everyone. We hope you're enjoying the chat-o-rama that we've put together to go with our Top 20 Prospects lists for every minor league. The Sally League was loaded this year, and I've got the iTunes cranking on the new eMac, so let's go . . .

 Q:  Shoshana from Baltimore asks:
Did any Delmarva players come close to making the top 20 list? Where would recent draft picks Markakis, Loewen and Ray have ranked if the list was expanded? I know none of them had great years but Loewen and Markakis both are young and seem to have a lot of upside. Thanks for taking my questions.
 A: 

John Manuel: Several Delmarva players did come close to making it, most specifically Nick Markakis (who would be in a 21-25 range if we went that deep), Jeff Fiorentino, Hayden Penn and Adam Loewen. Ray also could get consideration as well, but for me he's fifth on that club. Markakis came very close; managers and scouts like him. One scout I talked to a lot for this list really was down on Markakis early and predicted a return to the mound for him, but he had come around on Markakis later in the year and really liked his swing right before Markakis went to Greece for the Olympics. Fiorentino isn't too different from Markakis in terms of his swing, which is good for the O's because right now, he's their top draft pick from 2004. Loewen had flashes but doesn't throw enough strikes, and then there's the labrum injury. I'm a big Penn fan, he's a sleeper if you want to use that term, with an 88-93 mph fastball that busts bats by pounding righthanded hitters inside. He's got good size and a projectable frame and is one of the O's top pitching prospects; if you told me he was their best one, I wouldn't object.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Could Delmon Young andor Ian Stewart be September callups next season?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think Young definitely could be, considering the organization. It's not like the Rays need outfielders, but Delmon is pretty good and advanced for a young hitter because of his physical strength, approach and ability to go the other way. He just needs to be more patient, which he did in the second half. I'm not sure Ian Stewart couldn't be either, but the Rockies just don't need to bring him up so quickly, and he's not on a major league contract like Young is, so there's even less incentive to rush him. Ian is also very advanced, and both have the maturity that makes you think they could handle such a rush to the majors.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Atlanta Georgia asks:
Jai Miller was not included on the list. Was it his lack of strikezone judgement? Also, do you think this was one of the better prospect classes in recent years in the Sally?
 A: 

John Manuel: That's one reason; Miller had one nice two-week power stretch, and otherwise he had a pretty bad year. He made some progress, but he's going to be back at low Class A next year, and he wasn't really close to making this list because it really was the best SAL year in a long time . . . 1995, maybe, wVlad and Andruw? Couple of other years since then, but this year, the SAL was just 16 teams that all had legitimate Top 20 talents. It was very hard to whittle it down.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Atlanta, Georgia asks:
Did Chuck James problems during the Allstar game hurt him on making the top 20 this year? Thanks for the good work!
 A: 

John Manuel: Not at all; Matt Albers also got suspended after the SAL all-star festivities and made the list. James' mediocre curveball (he's mostly a fastball-changeup lefty) was the bigger problem.

 Q:  Ryan Hunt from Lakeland, FL asks:
Were Devil Rays prospects Wes Bankston and Jason Pridie close to making the top 20? Both were repeating the level, was that possibly held against them in the voting?
 A: 

John Manuel: Ryan, they both came close. Bankston had a really nice year, but he's moved from the outfield to first base, he's got a big lower half that's lost some life, and the question is will he hit for really big 1B power. He's a player to watch, he might be in the Rays' top 10, but the bat's really going to have to play, it's by far his best tool. Pridie is more well-rounded and a guy I like better; scouts have compared him to Steve Finley to me for his swing, fly-catching ability in CF and developing power. Pridie's five-tool ability (and he's really average or above in all five tools) will only play at the big league level, though, if he gets more disciplined at the plate. He swings and misses too much right now to have made the Top 20.

 Q:  Hojo4Life from Upstate, New York asks:
How close did Ian Bladergroen come to making the Top 20? Is his injury the reason he didn't make it? If so, where would he have ranked do you think if he played the entire season?
 A: 

John Manuel: Ian was the last change I made. His injury may have hurt in the sense fewer scouts and managers had him fresh in their minds, but he was clearly considered, and managers liked him. I think generally at lower levels, we're going to have more power-armed pitchers, middle-of-the-diamond defenders, those kinds of guys rather than guys who are "just" bats. But Bladergroen is considered legit; hope he comes back from the ligament injury at full strength next year.

 Q:  Frank Wright from Newbury, OH asks:
Do you have a particular favorite or sleeper in the league? Being an Indians fan, I'm partial to someone like Kevin Kouzmanoff who put up good numbers at Nevada and has continued in Low A (although he may be a little old for the league).
 A: 

John Manuel: Favorite sleeper? Good question, Frank. Kouzmanoff would be in the group to choose from, managers like him as a Casey Blake kind of guy, though maybe not with Blake's 27 HR power. Probably my favorite guy in the league that didn't make the top 20 is Jerome Milons, who was at Columbus before the Dodgers traded him to the Diamondbacks. He's the new Reggie Abercrombie in some ways . . . not quite the athlete or the tools, not quite the horrid plate discipline either, but big-time tools, big athleticism, and getting an idea. Josh Burrus is another at Rome, he's got really, really fast hands and plus tools across the board. To me, the SAL (a low Class A level like this) is all about tools, so I'll go for the tools guys.

 Q:  Thomas from St. Catharines asks:
Hello Are their any good prospects on the Alley Cats? What did you think of Robinson Diaz and Ryan Roberts? Thank You.
 A: 

John Manuel: Ken Joyce's club had talent and Diaz came closest to making the Top 20; several managers liked him better than Saltalamacchia behind the plate, but none of them said Jarrod can't catch, and Saltalamacchia has bigger upside offensively. I like Roberts' bat, but honestly, I think the Jays like him better than other league managers and scouts did. Several of the pitchers at Charlie West earned consideration, starting with Shawn Marcum (athletic, solid stuff, good command), also including Justin James, Tom Mastny and even Kurt Isenberg despite his struggles. Just in the SAL this year, the league just had at least 20 guys that were younger, had as good or better tools and also performed.

 Q:  Kevin from Long Island asks:
If you were starting a team, who in the South Atlantic League would you pick first?
 A: 

John Manuel: Sean Martin, rhp, Hagerstown, because Spider would also do the post-game writeups and be my pitching coach as well . . . but seriously, folks, I'd go with Ian Stewart. Nothing against Delmon Young, but Ian Stewart's maturity, play at third base, lefthanded power bat . . . it's a very unique package. The Rockies are fortunate to have him.

 Q:  Mike from Long Island asks:
Hey John, Beyond Milledge & Petit which Cap City player Bladergroen, Bowman, Hill, Whealy, Lindstrom) do you think has the most potential to make an impact as a major leaguer?
 A: 

John Manuel: That was a nice team at Cap City . . . Blake Whealy has org player written all over him. If I'm not mistaken, I saw him in the Coastal Plain League three years ago, and he's struck me as a solid college player, solid organizational guy. I'd rank the rest of them Bladergroen, Lindstrom, Hill and Bowman, with Lindstrom a wild card. He's been recorded throwing as hard as 98 mph, but he's 24 and finished the year in the SAL (albeit for the Mets' own strange reasons). I like Hill's raw power and Bowman's athletic ability; as a very solid defensive third baseman, he looks like trade bait thanks to David Wright.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
Tom Mastny led the league in ERA and had almost a k per inning. Was he close to making the list?
 A: 

John Manuel: Gerry, I'm a Tom Mastny believer, but I couldn't see him making this list. We ranked Mastny No. 1 in the Coastal Plain League back in 2001; I saw him start the all-star game that year, and he's not too different from what he was then . . . a tall RHP who gets good leverage and life down in the zone on an average fastball, 88-91 mph. He changes speeds OK but doesn't have a plus secondary pitch to go with his solid average fastball. But he pounds the zone, knows how to pitch and has had mad success the last couple of years . . . he was awesome at Furman last year. He's going to have to keep proving it one level at a time (or maybe he jumps to Double-A next year), but he's never going to overwhelm scouts, and this league had a lot of players who did.

 Q:  John from Boston asks:
How much more did Chris Resop have to do to get some love? He went Eric Gagne on the league in his first full season of pitching, and it's not like there were questions about the quality of his stuff.
 A: 

John Manuel: Chris Resop also came very close to making this list, and in fact was on my first draft of the Top 20, but when it came down to it I had a hard time justifying any reliever making a league top 20 this deep. Resop had a sick year but may not even have been the best reliever, his 73 Ks in 40 or so IP notwithstanding. Jose Diaz was the league's hardest thrower for Columbus, touching 99, and Chad Orvella was up to 97 with a 5-76 BB-K ratio for Charlie Souith. Resop made progress with his curveball this year, topped out at 98, has late life up in the zone with his fastball and showed better command as the year went on . . . he's a nice prospect and could make the Marlins' top 10. But that's easier to do than making the SAL top 20.

 Q:  matt from boston ma asks:
how is brandon moss not on this list?????
 A: 

John Manuel: Matt, I take it you didn't read the writeup? I guess not, because Moss is No. 20 . . . a thumbnail sketch of the answer for why he's at 20 is, several managers and scouts have him pegged as a tweener. He had a phenomenal year, he hit .350+ with authority, and he's athletic enough to profile as average in several other tools. The question for him is power: How much does he have? If he's a Darin Erstad type (as his own manager said), he's not going to have enough power to profile as a starting corner OF on a championship team. Unlike Erstad, he's not good enough defensively to play CF. That's why he's 20.

 Q:  Tony from Cleveland asks:
John, Adam Miller reportedly hit 101 mph in his last start in the CL playoffs, what type of ceiling does this kid have ? Who would be the big league pitcher he compares most to in your eyes ? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: We've had the 101 confirmed to us on a couple of sources, which is pretty amazing. Miller would have been No. 1 in the SAL in several other years; the top 3 in this league was just too good, that's the only reason he's No. 4. Miller gets comparisons to Kevin Brown (let's hope with a better disposition off the mound, or at least better judgment for when to throw a punch) for his fastball and slider. Both have the potential to be 70 pitches on a 20-80 scale, according to a scout I talked to that saw him twice this year, and that's pretty impressive. He's one of the top 5 pitching prospects in the minors IMO.

 Q:  Justin from Capitol Hill asks:
Why is there such a discrepancy between the quality of fastball required to be a righty vs. lefty prospect? Guys like Clint Everts, Chuck Tiffany, and others are considered top prospects with fastballs that sit in the low low 90's. However, almost all of the top righty prospects seem to hover more often in the mid-90's. Is it just coincidence or do lefties not throw as hard on average? Is it coincidence that lefties who consistantly top 95 seem more likely to be dominant at the major league level (Unit, Oliver Perez, Billy Wagner, etc.) than do rights with similar velocities?
 A: 

John Manuel: Justin, there is a difference. Most scouts I've talked to have their scouting scales turned down a notch for LHPs in terms of velocity. Maybe 87-90 is average for a lefthander, whereas I'd say that's fringy for an RHP, I'd say 89-92 is more average (that's where the fastball sits, not what it touches). Fastball movement also is a factor. Tiffany touches some 94s when he's on, and his fastball moves (as it does for most lefties . . . now that one I can't explain). Everts often pitched at 84-88, which is below average, touched a 90 here and there for a few people, but not the 88-92 as had been the case previously. I don't think it's a coincidence . . . power lefties are few and far between, which is why those who throw hard with command dominate and why those who throw hard without command get chance after chance after chance . . .

 Q:  Hojo4Life from Upstate, New York asks:
Yusmeiro Petit's success this year has seemed to baffle some scouting experts. They call him gimicky, or a trick pitcher to explain his success. So can you give us the low down on why he was so successful and what you think the future may hold for him?
 A: 

John Manuel: Petit didn't come from nowhere; his fastball was better this year, going from 88-90 and touching 92 (which as we discussed in the last answer is average or fringy for an RHP) to sitting at 90-92, and one manager said he had Petit touching 93 and 94 mph. I didn't get that from other managers, though, or scouts who saw Petit. He has deception in his delivery; I wouldn't call that a gimmick, I'd say it's a good thing. Also, several managers liked his breaking ball, which they saw as a hard slider, as a plus pitch, and he's got a good changeup. Petit's a three-pitch guy who pounds the zone with average to above-average stuff and has deception . . . he's a pretty good prospect, maybe you could even slap the "elite" tag on him.

 Q:  Bill from Norwood,MA asks:
Hi John, would Pedroia have made the list with enough at- bats and what do you think of Mickey Hall? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Pedroia would have been a tough call, Bill. He's a unique player. He might have been fun to put at 20. I think he'll be a big leaguer, maybe even a regular, because he doesn't seem like he'll accept anything less. Amazing makeup, great hands and hand-eye coordination helps him overcome several other tools where he comes up short. He's not Eckstein II because he doesn't run like Eckstein and has a little more power in his bat . . . Some scouts I talked to came around on him this year and liked him better because his desire and ability to make consistent, hard contact can't be overlooked. He's definitely not the typical prospect, though. Hall is much more typical . . . good raw power potential and athletic ability, runs well, good swing mechanics. His main issue is breaking ball recognition, and some guys never get that.

 Q:  Chandler Bing from new york asks:
How much support was there for Marlins LHP Adam Bostick, the league leader in strikeouts? His command is a bit shaky but the 163 SO in 114 innings makes him appear to be a solid prospect, and despite being a 2001 draftee, he's not really old for the league (21) either.
 A: 

John Manuel: I think that's my first Friends reference ever . . . Bostick got some support, but it wasn't overwhelming, and neither is his stuff, despite the K's. It's an average fastball, maybe a tick above at 88-90, touching 92, and it's got average movement if not a tick above as well. He was effectively wild with it, got into a lot of deep counts and didn't go past 5 or 6 IP very often at all. His curveball is a solid second pitch, but his changeup has a way to go. More often than not, he was described as a future LH reliever.

 Q:  Jim from Annapolis, Maryland asks:
Thank you for taking my question. I noticed that Ryan Goleski didn't make the top twenty. It is said by some that he is very athletic for his size and hit nearly three hundred with 20+ home runs and 100 rbi's. What is it he lacked in order to be ranked?
 A: 

John Manuel: Trying to rifle through all the questions . . . Goleski also would be in that 30-40 range, I think college guys almost have to go in that range in this league where so much good, young, prep and Latin American (and Taiwanese!) talent came through. Goleski has prototype RF tools, though, with above-average power and an above-average arm. He's fairly athletic and has overcome a tough junior year at E. Michigan . . . He was highly regarded as a sophomore and was a nice draft find in the 24th round.

 Q:  Kevin from Houston asks:
How close was Wardell Starling to cracking the top 20?
 A: 

John Manuel: Pretty close . . . hits some 93s and 94s with the fastball and has a breaking ball that can be an out pitch at times. He's shown the ability to change speeds with his breaking balls and work inside with his fastball. Now he needs to be more consistent in his delivery and arm slot and develop a better chnageup. He also relies on the curve too much at times.

 Q:  Tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
Did the Suns have any noteworthy pitchers on their team? I didn't get to see any of them personally but the stats appear to be very ho hum and I haven't heard a peep about any of them. Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Aside from Spider? He did have a nice year . . . though by now I bet he's embarrassed. Sidearming relievers Joe Bateman and Tim Alvarez could fill those middle relief roles down the line as well, but former LSU righty Brian Wilson had the highest upside, low 90s fastball, still regaining feel for pitching as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Not an impressive team in Hagerstown this year.

 Q:  Ryan Hunt from Seattle, WA asks:
Does Matt Alber look more like a starter or reliver at higher levels? Will his lack of a changeup cause him problems if he remains in the rotation?
 A: 

John Manuel: He could be a good power reliever down the line, but it's early to give up on him as a starter. His change is below-average now, but several managers saw potential in it; he just needs to throw it more. He's got a strong body and maintains his velocity deep into games, which would make me want to keep him in a rotation.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Is this league the most impressive talent wise of all the leagues this season? There is a lot of top tier talent and there are bunch of guys you could make an argument for that got left off of the list.
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm biased, but yeah, I think it is . . . we gave it five stars on our Talent Meter, one other league got five stars, the Florida State League. I could have gone 60 deep and not had a hard time, frankly. It was fun and hard to whittle the league down to 20.

 Q:  Alan Smodic from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Javier Guzman is a young shortstop in the Pirates system that has played very well under the radar in the past few years. He did not make the top 20, but should find himself in the Pirates' top 20 next year. How do you rate him as a player?
 A: 

John Manuel: Guzman was probably the No. 2 SS in the league after Hu, ahead of Roberto Valido (Kannapolis) and Robert Andino (Greensboro) among others. Guzman's own manager, Dave Clark, said he had the best upside of any Crawdads position player and likened him to Tony Fernandez, though perhaps with less power. He has a knack for making contact and probably needs to learn to take a walk so better use his plus speed. He's an excellent defender with good instincts, and quick transfer and plus range.

 Q:  Heath Hunt from Fort Meade, FL asks:
What type of power potential does Andy LaRoche possess? How quickly do you seem him progressing through the minors?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm a big LaRoche fan and see him as an everyday 3B in the big leagues with 20-30 HR power. It's possible he's athletic enough for 2B if the Dodgers keep Adrian Beltre or move Joel Guzman to 3B. I think LaRoche probably could use two more years, but the Dodgers have been fairly aggressive with guys lately, though moreso with pitchers than hitters.

 Q:  Steve from Washington DC asks:
I know Ian Stewart was the only Tourist to make the list, but who else was close? I know the Rockies have several "intriguing" type position prospects there between: Joe Gaetti, Christian Colonel, Randy Blood, Neil Wilson, Jordan Czarniecki and Christopher Iannetta. What does the future hold for these guys?
 A: 

John Manuel: Iannetta is probably the top guy on that list . . . Aaron Marsden also has a chance for the Smokies. Iannetta is an average or above-average hitter with solid catch-and-throw skills, and I like players who have improved measurably in a short span like he did between his first two years at North Carolina and his junior season. He really got after it. Love the makeup as well. And don't forget about RHP Ching-Lung Lo, who had some injury issues this year but still has serious upside.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Can Matt Esquivel make enough contact at higher levels to take advantage of his power?
 A: 

John Manuel: You know, scouts just weren't on Esquivel this year. When I'd ask about Rome OFs, everyone talked about Burrus and maybe Steve Doetsch, who also struggled to make contact . . . for whatever reason, no one was on Esquivel despite the power potential.

 Q:  Steve from Washington DC asks:
Who has the brightest future as a pro from Asheville, Ching-Lung Lo, Aaron Mardsen or Marc Kaiser?
 A: 

John Manuel: The short answer: Lo.

 Q:  Tony from Miami asks:
Thank you John for taking my coment and question. Quite a bite surprised that Brandon Moss was rated as low as he did.What is opinion on Sox prospect Gary Galvez and Kyle Jackson?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hope I answered the Moss question earlier . . . Galvez didn't blow anyone away, his fastball was average and he needs to trust it more. When he got in a tight spot, he went to the offspeed stuff a lot and got pounded at times. Jackson is an intriguing arm, Jim Callis had him six spots behind Galvez in last year's Red Sox Top 30, and I bet they are reversed this year. Jackson had a brutal W-L record, but I had a scout that loved Jackson, projected him as a No. 3 starter with a durable, athletic frame and three average pitches.

 Q:  Bill from Norwood,MA asks:
Hi John, Vaquedano, Beau Vaughn, and Jarrett Gardner pitched well but I believe were all old for the league. Do you have anything nice to say about them?
 A: 

John Manuel: Last Augusta question . . . Vaughn has the best stuff of the trio and could be a solid big league middle guy as a hard sinkerballer with a solid slider.

 Q:  Alan Smodic from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Pirate fans were a bit suprised to see that Leo Nunez didn't make the top 20. Nunez has received praise in recent years from the Pirates and he continues to dominate the leagues he is in, despite having odds against him based on his small frame. How is he progressing and do you see him as a starter in the big leagues?
 A: 

John Manuel: Nunez would be in the 30ish range. Good stuff, live arm, just a short RHP that most guys seem to profile more as a reliever down the line.

 Q:  Perry Cox from Boston asks:
Jason Vargas didn't qualify, but he did throw 7 no-hit innings in one of his three starts - what's his future? Obviously the list doesn't run deep enough for a guy like Travis Chick, but he really took off after being put in the rotation, especially after the trade. What did the Marlins give up there?
 A: 

John Manuel: Vargas had an excellent pro debut and ranked third, I believe, in the NY-P League. I want to see him do it at a higher level, but he's a big, physical LHP that seems to have some command. I think he needs more experience as a former two-way player; he needs to learn the routine of being a pro pitcher. Chick took off in the MWL with the Padres after the trade, he's big and physical with a plus fastball, but it looks like he had a good stretch at Fort Wayne where he commanded his breaking ball and changeup better. We'll know better what the Marlins gave up next year, but right now it looks like they gave up a lot for Ismael Valdez.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Who was the hardest person to leave off of the list?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hmmm . . . maybe Chad Orvella, who already reached Triple-A and had about as good a year as any minor leaguer. Also Ian Bladergroen, Resop, Markakis and Guzman . . . those were my 21-25 guys.

 Q:  Walter from Atlanta asks:
Where did prospects like the suprising Jamar Hill, Javon Moran & Nyjer Morgan place on your list?
 A: 

John Manuel: A little further down . . . I'd go Hill, Moran and Morgan there, and Moran to me is a fourth-OF down the line, not enough speed or feel for stealing bases to be an everyday starter in a corner OF spot. Morgan needs much better plate discipine. So does Hill, but he has raw power and enough arm for RF.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
John: Thanks for taking the chat on SAL prospects. Two tools OFs: Jamar Hill and Elijah Dukes. In 2004 Hill put up good powerspeed numbers at Capital City and Dukes hit well at Charleston and at high A Bakersfield. They may not be the equal of Delmon Young but are they viewed as serious prospects? Thanks. Tom McCullough. York PA
 A: 

John Manuel: Tom, thanks for coming by. I like Hill, who I've talked about. Dukes is pretty interesting; he got zero support in the SAL, a very deep league as we've talked about, and performed fine before he was suspended for anger management issues. He was sent to Bakersfield when his suspension ended, and the word we heard was, the Rays didn't want him to negatively influence their players at Charleston. However, all the feedback on Dukes--who has major league tools and huge raw power--from the Cal League was very good. Kevin Goldstein will discuss Dukes more, I'm sure, when he does the Cal League chat, but Dukes is a pretty intriguing prospect.

 Q:  Chris Turk from Boston asks:
What would you say these lists are of, exactly? Trade value? Long-term potential? Likelihood of contributing at the big league level?
 A: 

John Manuel: Chris, I guess we think it's obvious. Prospect rankings are ALL about potential, and then the likelihood to reach that potential. We hope that 5 years from now, you'll be able to look back at this list and see 20 asterisks next to guys' names, i.e., that they all make the big leagues. We're trying to rank the 20 best players who have a chance to be big league regulars, big league stars. Delmon Young has the best chance to be a star out of these guys; Brandon Moss has the 20th best chance. Trade value has little if anything at all to do with these lists.

 Q:  Sean from Fullerton asks:
Would Nate Schierholtz have been rated higher had he stayed in the league all season. It seems as though he would have hit over 30 HR's with well over 100 RBI's?
 A: 

John Manuel: No, we saw enough of Nate to rank him in the 20. Managers in the SAL thought he deserved a little more time to see if he could play 3b, but it looks like the Giants are taking him to the OF permanently. He's got serious raw power potential from the left side and is still learning the game and his own swing.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
How do you see Colorado's future at third base playing out - with Ian Stewart, Matt Macri, Jeff Baker, Garret Atkins, and Vinny Castilla?
 A: 

John Manuel: Stewart at 3rd, Macri at 2b (moving there in instructional league), Baker in a corner OF . . . and the other two guys elsewhere. Vinny had a nice year, he's a Coors Field guy, plain and simple. I'm not on Garret Atkins; he's just about Jack Cust at 3B without the power potential. He has to want to be better at defense, and he has had ample time to prove he wants it. Apparently, he hasn't from what we've been told.

 Q:  Mike from Chico, CA asks:
As a transplanted New Yorker, I'm dying with my beloved, bewildered Mets. Who should be able to help out first...Milledge or Petit? Which one has the higher ceiling? Who would be good big league comps?
 A: 

John Manuel: Mike, Milledge has the highest ceiling . . . he might be in the Top 10 prospects in the minors. He's not far behind Stewart and Young at No. 3, he's got five tools, made progress with his plate discipline . . . best of all, his manager, Jack Lind, praised his makeup, and so did Edgar Soto, who coached Milledge for Team USA juniors back in 2002. Petit got the comp that JJ Cooper came up with, and managers and scouts liked it that I talked to . . . he's a righthanded Sid Fernandez (the less-than-blimpy version).

 Q:  Tom from Greensboro asks:
What are your thoughts on Angel Molina and Ryan Blake from the Greensboro Bats. Both had solid power numbers and respectable batting averages. Are they prospects for the Marlins?
 A: 

John Manuel: Molina has a chance to be an average corner OF, but the catching thing didn't go too well. Ryan Blake is a fellow Tar Heel who had a nice year playing near his home (he went to Kernersville's Glenn High), but he's an organizational player, he's had a lot of shoulder problems in his career and is pretty much a DH right now. If his arm comes back, maybe he can be a catcher again.

 Q:  The Janitor from Boston asks:
Matt Moses, Eric Duncan, Andy LaRoche - who do you take?
 A: 

John Manuel: Great question . . . I like LaRoche best there because of the combination of power, health and ability to stay at 3B. I know Jim Callis is on Duncan, who had a very nice year, and for what it's worth, Josh Boyd was a huge Moses guy before he left us . . . It's my chat, I take LaRoche. Put it on the bet board!

 Q:  Ben from Washington DC asks:
How about the DC Expos in Savannah? I see Everts listed...they had quite a few players there who had good years. What was the opinion of people on Kory Casto (3B), Daryl Thompson (rhp) and Jerry Owens (OF). It looked like those three guys had good years and offer some hope for the lower levels. Anyone else get some support? Thank you for these chats.
 A: 

John Manuel: Savannah was interesting. I'd saw after Everts, the prospects on the team would be Thompson, then Owens, then Casto. I'm a Casto fan but he might just be an organizational player, the move to 3B isn't over but early returns from the scouts I talked to weren't encouraging. Thompson has a live arm, he's young and still has room to fill out. Sooner or later, some really nice results would be welcome. Owens, I believe, is headed for the AFL, he's light in terms of experience for that, but he's made progress, shown aptitude now that he's a full-time baseball player (former UCLA footballer), he's a premier athlete and an above-average runner who could be a leadoff hitter down the line. He is going to need time, though, and so will Thompson. Don't sleep on Rogearvin Bernardina, who also has nice all-around tools but remains raw.

 Q:  Matthias from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
Where there any other Braves close to making the top 20?
 A: 

John Manuel: A few . . . James, Burrus and also reliever Jose Ascanio, who hits some 95s and 96s. Also, some scouts aren't ready to give up on Brian Digby, but he needs some help in terms of command.

 Q:  Matthias from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
Are there any comparisons for Petit?
 A: 

John Manuel: Asked and answered, counselor! Sid Fernandez as an RHP. My bad for clicking it again.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Atlanta, Georgia asks:
This question is more for Jim Callis, but who do you like this weekend Georgia or LSU?
 A: 

John Manuel: I like Georgia in that one, having watched LSU a couple of times this year. Neither team is out of the gates too well though.

 Q:  Roger from Des Moines asks:
Will the Jays keep Shaun Marcum in a starting role similar to what they did with David Bush? How fast will they move Marcum?
 A: 

John Manuel: I do think so; Marcum has moved pretty well already for a guy in his first full year as a pitcher only; he's got excellent athletic ability that translates into good command. Also, he throws a good curve and change. I'd say the fastball and fastball command will be the key for him, but he doesn't have David Bush's stuff, so to me he's more of a back-of-the-rotation guy than Bush.

 Q:  Kevin Casey from Boston asks:
Seems like every year the Blue Jays take a college closer and turn him into a successful starter - Bush, Banks, and now Marcum. What do they look for and what's the secret to making the transition?
 A: 

John Manuel: Following up . . . Banks did start his junior season in college; that conversion was made by Danny Price and Fla. International, not the Jays. Give them credit on Bush; they liked his changeup in instructional league and thought a four-pitch guy with polish and great makeup shouldn't be limited to 80 innings a year. Nice call. Marcum was a two-way guy in college, a very good defensive shortstop at SMS, and that's why he didn't start. I'd say other organizations may have made the same move. I liked Toronto's college-heavy drafts from 2002 and 2003 quite a bit.

 Q:  Howard from Mars, Pa asks:
Adam Boeve hit .290.385.536 and 28 HRs for Hickory this season. This was his first full season in the minors, but was old for the level as many Pirate prospects are. However, he is one of the few power hitting prospects in the Bucs'system void of position players. Is Adam any cause for excitement? How do his tools rate?
 A: 

John Manuel: He turned 24 during the year; no one I talked to said he had a plus tool.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
Will Chin-Lung Hu be able to stay at shortstop long-term, or will his arm and size force him to move over to second?
 A: 

John Manuel: Managers raved about Hu, but I wasn't going to put him in the Top 20 until talking to a scout late in the process, who rated Hu as the best prospect at Columbus all year . . . that team was so loaded, that comment just stunned me. This scout rated Hu average or above in all five tools INCLUDING power, which is shocking. His arm and range are plus for shortstop, no problem there, he earned Rafael Furcal comparisons.

 Q:  Bobby from Colombus asks:
Hey John, any consideration for OF Matt Kemp on the Top 20 list? I thought that the Columbus staff was full of prospects.
 A: 

John Manuel: Columbus was full of prospects. Frankly, I could have done a Top 10 just on Columbus. I'd go Tiffany, LaRoche, Hu, Milons, X. Paul, Kemp (that's a tough call between those guys), Pimentel, Marcos Carvajal, Mike Nixon and Tony (Etanislau) Abreu. Really, you could go deeper. Quite an assemblage of talent.

 Q:  The Janitor from Boston asks:
I know it's hard to get excited about low-level relievers, but what kind of stuff and upside do Jose Diaz, Randy Beam, Fernando Hernandez, and Marcos Carvajal have?
 A: 

John Manuel: Randy Beam would go last on this list as a college soft-tossing lefty, though he had a great career at Florida Atlantic. Diaz as I mentioned hit some 99s; one scouting report on him was "big, sloppy and throwing 99 with no idea where it's going," and that's pretty accurate by most accounts. Carvajal has upside and only a delivery that's tough to repeat limits him to the pen; he throws three pitches for strikes, mid-90s heat, nice breaking ball and pretty solid changeup as well. Hernandez wasn't mentioned in the same breath with Carvajal and Diaz but also has a nice arm and a knack for making people miss.

 Q:  Franklin from Indianapolis, IN asks:
Hi John, If a 101 mph fastball is only a 70 on a 20-80 range, what constitutes an 80 fastball? Seriously... Does Miller's fastball lack movement?
 A: 

John Manuel: OK, I need to wrap up . . . I don't think the scout who gave him 70s had seen 101, and frankly we never heard that until the CL playoffs with Miller. If it's 100-101 a lot, that's certainly an 80. Also, most scouts just don't like to give out 80s willy-nilly. He has good movement on the fastball down in the zone, it's a power sinker. I'm guessing the 100 or 101 was when Miller messed around with a four-seamer, but that's just a guess.

 Q:  JOE from DEPTFORD NJ asks:
NATE CABRERA HAD BETTER STATS THAN MATHIESON DID I MISS SOMETHING?
 A: 

John Manuel: Cabrera is a nice choice for a sleeper in the league. He has a lot more polish than Mathieson but not the same caliber of stuff. He's 89-91, average fastball, good changeup and a curveball that has really improved. He's got a chance to be a 3-4 starter; Mathieson's ceiling is higher, and his chances to reach the ceiling are solid. Mathieson also made significant progress with his offspeed stuff.

 Q:  Craig Reed from Austin asks:
What's the scoop on Kannapolis? Any comments on the two players who did make the list (McCarthy, Young) or others who missed the cut? Us ChiSox fans need any good cheer you can spread.
 A: 

John Manuel: How about if I mention some guys who got votes but didn't make it? The writeups on Young and McCarthy are there for subscribers . . . Roberto Valido, Micah Schnurstein and LHPs Gio Gonzalez and Wes Whisler (neither LHP had enough IP to qualify) were the next-best prospects on the team.

Moderator: Everyone, great questions, I really appreciate everyone being patient and for your interest in BA. We'll keep the chats rolling all well . . . see you again when the Texas League's turn rolls around.

Page Not Found - BaseballAmerica.com
The page you are looking for does not exist or has moved

Sorry, the page you're looking for is either like Sidd Finch and does not exist, or like Josh Hamilton and has moved. Where would you like to go instead?

BaseballAmerica.com Home

The latest news from our top sections:

Majors, Minors, Stats, Draft, College, High School, International or Viewpoint