Rangers Chat with John Manuel

Moderator: John Manuel will begin taking your Rangers questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
What type of hitter do you think Ian Kinsler will develop into in the show? Does he have 20-25 HR potential? That would seem pretty good when he's eventually moved to 2B.
 A: 

John Manuel: Browning, how's your arm? Anyway, no better place to start with the Rangers in a 2004 chat than with Ian Kinsler. What a year. He hit 20 homers this year; I think 15-20 is more reasonable to project for Kinsler. The scouts we've talked to this year say he's got average major league power, and that 15-20 range is about where average is for me. That would be very good for any middle infield spot. I do think second base will be his eventual destination, and his short swing and consistent approach at the plate should help him hit for average. It's hard not to like his offensive package.

 Q:  Rik from Austin, Texas asks:
Why is Arias a better prospect than Kinsler? And, where do you think Grady Fuson will end up?
 A: 

John Manuel: Arias is a better athlete by quite a bit and more likely to be an everyday shortstop in the major leagues. He started out the year ahead of Kinsler on the organization depth chart even though he was two years younger, and I'd say he's still ahead of him even after Kinsler's monster year. Arias has better all-around tools. Of course, Kinsler's bat is better right now, but I think in two years, as he gets stronger and gains more experience, Arias' bat will start to catch up to his other tools. He's got a chance to be an impact player offensively and defensively.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
In what range did Wes Littleton fall in? His Ks are underwhelming, so wouldnt he be better as a reliever?
 A: 

John Manuel: Littleton will probably be in the 20s somewhere. He struggled with his mechanics in 2004, as he admitted in an article I did in about July. He had a better second half, regained some velocity and movement on his fastball, but his low arm angle does make me think he's probably going to be better suited as a middle reliever than as a starter. I haven't ruled him out as a starter, though, and neither have the Rangers. He's like a lot of their pitchers in that he's smart, cerebral and savvy about his craft.

 Q:  Chris from Arlington asks:
Whats the plan for Drew Meyer now that he wasnt a Rule V pick?
 A: 

John Manuel: 1) Get in better shape. 2) Work on your swing. 3) Bring many gloves to spring training, because the Rangers see him as a utility player.

 Q:  Frank from Fort Worth asks:
Good afternoon John. Of the Rangers big three pitching prospects, Diamond, Dank, and Hudgins; which one has the ability to help the big club the soonest? I ahve also heard speculation that Diamond might end up being converted to a reliever. What can you tell us die hard Ranger fans about this?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hudgins is closest to the majors, having already reached Triple-A. I like John a lot and like him as a pitcher, too; he's going to be better than his raw stuff would indicate. His competitiveness is a major factor in his success. Witness what he did in Omaha in 2003, or his 2004 matchup in Double-A with Felix Hernandez of San Antonio, in Hernandez' Double-A debut on July 1, when Hudgins got fired up to face the Mariners uber-prospect and amped his fastball up to 93 mph. He struck out 11 in 7 scoreless innings. He's going to settle in as a 3-4 starter IMO. Diamond to the bullpen is premature but a possiblity. That speculation arises from the fact that he's more of a two-pitch guy right now, because his breaking balls are both below-average. But his durable frame and command, plus the Rangers' belief that one of his breaking balls will be at least average, has them looking at him as a starter, and I think they will be right.

 Q:  Greg from Denver asks:
Mike Nickeas rates as the best defensive catcher in the system, but who rates as the best offensive catcher and best all-around?
 A: 

John Manuel: Nickeas on both (all) counts. Catcher is a position of weakness in the organization, which tends to happen when you blow a first-round pick on a catcher (2000, Scott Heard) but also when you graduate a starting catcher (G. Laird) to the majors. Nickeas was a guy the Rangers liked and targeted all year, and he had a poor year at Ga. Tech, so they got him later than they thought they would have to. He's got solid pop and really grades out solid average in a lot of areas, with excellent makeup. His dad was a pro soccer player, and Nickeas' makeup is why he was on Team USA as a prep and as a college player. Quality young man.

 Q:  Ron from South Bend, IN asks:
Are the Rangers dissapointed in losing Ben Kozlowski? What is his ceiling?
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't think they wanted to lose him, because their LHP depth is pretty minimal behind Danks; they also lost Sam Narron and Ryan Snare during the year. Kozlowski seems to have been over-rated a couple of years ago by whoever did the Rangers top 10 . . . oh wait, that was me. He hasn't regained the stuff and feel yet since his Tommy John surgery. It could come back, but he's going to have to prove it, and the fact that he hadn't prompted the Rangers to leave him off their 40-man roster. The Reds needed him more anyway.

 Q:  Mike from Tallahassee asks:
Is Adrian Gonzalez going to push Mark Teixeira to the outfield or is he mostly likely used in a trade?
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't think of it that way. Teixeira is athletic enough to play the outfield, if the Rangers feel they must get another bat in the lineup and that player can only play 1B. Gonzalez could be a Doug Mientkiewicz type; would you move Tex for Mientkiewicz? I'm the only guy who would consider that, because I love Mientikiewicz (I saw him kill Korea twice with game-winning homers in the 2000 Olympics and refuse to get over it). But I don't think that's going to make the Rangers force Gonzalez into the lineup. If Gonzalez develops more power--a possibility but far from a certainty--then he has a better chance of forcing the issue.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
John: Thanks for the chats. Anthony Webster and Juan Senreiso appear to be toolsy players who may -- or may not -- polish those tools into skills. Whom do you like better?
 A: 

John Manuel: Tom loves all teams and chats regularly. Good to see you, Tom.

John Manuel: Very good question, too. I like Webster because he can play center field, but I like Senreiso more because he has shown more with the bat at a higher level. I was surprised that he was left off the 40-man and that he wasn't taken. But both guys are still pretty raw. They should form two-thirds of the Frisco outfield next year along with either Jeremy Cleveland, who still has many supporters in the organization, or Vincent Sinisi.

 Q:  James from Minnesota asks:
How does Thomas Diamond and John Danks compare to the other AL West pitching prospects like Ervin Santana, Joe Blanton and Felix Hernandez?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'd take Diamond and Danks over Blanton and E. Santana for different reasons. Blanton looked good in September for Oakland, but it's hard to ignore all those hits he gave up in Triple-A. I'm not sold on Santana's health or makeup, though he has better stuff than both Danks and Diamond. Felix Hernandez deserves to be in a different conversation; I'd take him over any pitcher on Texas' big league roster.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
John: The rap on Kameron Loe and on Wes Littleton is that each throws from a 34 slot and will get hit by major league left-handed hitters, so the argument is that each projects as a relief pitcher rather than as a starting pitcher. Do you agree? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Tom's in again, and he's correct again. Lefthanded hitters batted .289 off Loe in Double-A and .302 in Triple-A; he's having trouble combatting them. Same with Littleton (.224 vs. RHH, .316 vs. LHH).

 Q:  Zack, from Abilene TX asks:
The Rangers picked up Ryan Wing from the White Sox a couple of months ago and he was on the top 10 list last year for the White Sox. Where does he rank in the Rangers system and is he going to be healthy when the season starts?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Rangers like Wing; he almost was included in their first pillaging of the White Sox' system, and he probably will make the Top 30 (final order still being settled, much to Jim Callis' chagrin). He's important because of the aforementioned lack of LHPs in the organization. Wing has already started on a throwing program and should be ready to go by end of spring training. He may not be ready for Frisco on Opening Day, but they hope he will pitch there in the first half at the latest.

 Q:  Jamey Newberg from www.newbergreport.com asks:
The Rangers' offer of Juan Dominguez to Colorado for Shawn Chacon -- which was evidently declined -- raised some eyebrows around here. Is his inability thus far to develop a dependable third pitch the reason he's not drawing as much interest around the league as it seems he should be?
 A: 

John Manuel: The prolific Mr. Newberg . . . Dominguez is a tough one to read. Our reports on him out of the Pacific Coast League were that he had made progress with his slider, his third pitch, to the point of making it a 45 or 50 major league pitch--fringe average or average, depending on the outing. I think Dominguez' makeup and run-ins with the big league staff had more to do with the Rangers' willingness to deal him. Club officials that I talked to blamed those run-ins on Dominguez' poor handling of a family tragedy, which would seem to merit a mulligan, but this also wasn't the first bout Dominguez has had with immaturity. If he gets traded, though, I think that's the biggest factor. That, and the Rangers obviously think they can improve themselves in a deal. Chacon's makeup isn't perfect either.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
will thomas diamond start 2005 at A Bakersfield or AA Frisco?
 A: 

John Manuel: It will depend on spring training and the performance of others; it might be hard for Diamond to get to Frisco so quickly considering Josh Rupe, Wes Littleton, John Danks, Matt Lorenzo, Nick Massett, Erik Thompson (if he's healthy), Kelvin Jimenez and Edison Volquez all could be candidates for the Frisco rotation. So my guess is Bakersfield.

 Q:  Rocky from OK Ciky, OK asks:
What are your thoughts on Jason Botts? And when Hart trades him away, will he turn out like Travis Hafner?
 A: 

John Manuel: I see that comparison a lot; I don't buy it. Hafner's track record as a hitter is much more solid than that of Botts, who had his best year in 2004. I like Botts; he just missed the top 10. He's bigger than Hafner, though, taller, with longer arms, bigger holes in his swing, less control of the strike zone, and similar (if not more) raw power. Hafner's a better hitter, though, by a good margin in my opinion. Botts is more versatile, and I think that's a big edge for Botts in staying with the Rangers. He's passable in left, he's a switch-hitter . . . two good ingredients for breaking in as a reserve. Better than, for example, A. Gonzalez, who's a much better 1B but can't play OF.

 Q:  Rob from Toronto asks:
It sounds like Joaquin Arias could be a future gold glove winner, but how well do you think he might hit in the majors once he develops? how do you personally think he'll hit, and what do you think his ceiling might be?
 A: 

John Manuel: I wouldn't have ranked him No. 3 if I didn't think he would hit. He's got a chance to hit .300 in the big leagues; he's got great plate coverage, gap-to-gap (10-15 HRs?) power, not the power of Kinsler but he's not a lightweight either. He has adjustments to make, but he's 20, and he has time to make them and has shown the ability to make them. That aptitude also is an important reason why I think he'll hit.

 Q:  neal from joliet, il asks:
Hi. Isn't Diamond above Danks just part of the theory that newer is better? It seems like after watching the Futures Game that it would be hard to put another pitching prospect above Danks. Am I way off on this one?
 A: 

John Manuel: No. Danks struggled in the second half at Stockton; Diamond has a better fastball and a bigger, more durable body. I believe in Diamond's breaking ball (whichever one he picks) and think he'll have a plus fastball, plus change and average breaking ball. I like Danks quite a bit, hence he ranks second, and it's not like there's a huge difference between the two of them in terms of ceiling. But we don't do 1 and 1A, there are no ties, so I gave the edge to Diamond for the reasons listed above.

 Q:  Kris from Lakeland, FL asks:
Where did Eric Hurley fall on your list of top Rangers prospects? Do you think he will bounce back from the end of last years season when you ran out of gas? As he developes strength and size how might that effect his performance?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hurley didn't show the 95-96 mph velocity with the Rangers that he had shown in high school. There's also concern over Hurley's delivery; he's got a head jerk in his delivery that many scouts say will preclude him ever developing anything more than average command. That said, he's got a loose, electric arm, the makings of average secondary stuff and a sturdy frame. He'll probably land in the 15-20 range.

 Q:  Matthew H from Sacramento, CA asks:
John, thanks for the chat. Do you think Marshall McDougal has a chance to contribute as a utility player with the big club in 2005?
 A: 

John Manuel: Some of you may be aware of my Marshall McDougall fandom. I think Marshall helps any team he plays for, because he makes contact, has some power (maybe not five homers in a game power, but hey, he did it), and has very soft hands and more agility than you'd think looking at him. I think he can be a utility guy in the big leagues in 2005; but he's not on the 40-man roster, and that's a pretty big obstacle right now to getting big league time. He's playing in Mexico, hitting .285-.387-.500 for Guasave, and he can play three positions. I think he's earned a chance somewhere.

 Q:  Mike Hindman from Dallas asks:
In a pre-draft scouting report BA posted, Diamond's slider was described as a plus pitch ("late, quick and hard at 83-84") and his curve was described as developing and ordinary. In your report, it seems that neither is very strong. Has his slider regressed? Does he have as much trouble with the breaking ball as Dominguez has?
 A: 

John Manuel: Mike (or is it MJ?), thanks for coming to the chat. Great question. I believe that was in a "Scout's View" that ran in our college section. It's one scout's view. Here's what Jim Callis wrote in the draft preview: "His secondary pitches have room for improvement. His slider is better than his curveball, but if he could refine the curve he could wreak havoc by changing hitters' eye level." Both pitches are inconsistent. One scout I talked to likes Diamond's arm angle better for a slider and thinks he should stick with that; others like the curve better for the reasons Jim described. I don't think he has the trouble Dominguez has; Diamond has shown that he can spin the ball, it's just a matter of doing so consistently. I think everyone seems to agree that picking one and sticking with it and working on it diligently will help Diamond's breaking ball develop into an average pitch, and some in the organization think he'll have a plus breaking pitch (slider or curve, but not both) when it's all said and done.

 Q:  R.C. Cook from Dallas TX asks:
Why did Jason Botts not make the top 10?
 A: 

John Manuel: His agent called the other day asking the same thing. Jason's 24, he's not a good defender, he has holes in his swing that cause him to strike out a lot and he's still fairly mechanical in his swing and approach at the plate. That said, he was the hardest player to leave out of the top 10 because he is somewhat athletic, he's a monster physically, he's got big power and he's showing progress and aptitude at the plate. Those are very good qualities to have. I like him as a prospect; just not as a Top 10(TM) prospect.

 Q:  Glen from Houston asks:
Whats the update on Vince Sinisi's health? Will he be back and ready to play by spring traing?
 A: 

John Manuel: He wasn't ready for instructional league, and to my knowledge he hasn't starting swing a bat yet. It was a rough injury. However, it was a broken bone, and those heal. He's expected to be back for spring training, but he'll be a little behind because the injury has precluded him from doing much offseason work.

 Q:  Nate from Frisco,TX asks:
Whats the word on Marc Cornell's health? I read where he was once considered at top pick in the draft before he got hurt? Is he still considered a good prospect for the Rangers?
 A: 

John Manuel: The word is that he hasn't pitched much in the last year-and-a-half; he threw 19 innings in 2004 at Ohio, and still to my knowledge hasn't had surgery but hasn't regained the mid-90s stuff he showed in 2003, when he was rumored to be a possible No. 1 pick for the Devil Rays. He's not a "good prospect" until he shows he can be healthy, but he's a good chance to take.

 Q:  Vince from Ft Worth asks:
Matt Lorenzo seemed to have a great year in the Arizona Fall League? What are your thoughts on him as a pitcher? Where might he start out this year and is he a legit prospect we might see in Arlington soon? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: Lorenzo is interesting; he will make the top 30, no doubt, and he has a live arm. His stuff seems to play better in the bullpen, where his fastball is 90-94, touching some 95s. He also has a good slurvy breaking ball, and I think that two-pitch mix makes him a good bet to be a power setup man. It doesn't seem that he has as much of a feel for changing speeds as other starting candidates in the organization, but I could be selling him short.

 Q:  Richard from Houston, TX asks:
In your report you mentioned that the Rangers had Thomas Diamond on the same level as the Rice Trio going into the draft. He obviously got the jump on Humber, Niemann, and Townsend by signing quickly and starting so well in pro ball. Do you think that the Rangers got a better value with Diamond than the Mets and D-Rays will with Humber or Niemann?
 A: 

John Manuel: I like Niemann and Townsend better than Diamond; I've never been quite as enthusiastic about Humber, for whatever reason. Considering all those guys were gone by the time Diamond came around, I think the Rangers got very good value for their pick. But down the line, I still expect Niemann to be a big league ace, and Niemann can tell you what I think of Townsend. I think Humber is more of a middle-of-the-rotation guy, and Diamond I believe I pegged as a No. 2-type guy. So yeah, that's good value.

 Q:  Sam from Washington State asks:
Can KC Herren delelope the power needed to be a top prospect for the Rangers? He seem to have all the skills except power? As he continues to grow will he develope the power? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: That's the big question; Herren could end up as a tweener. The Rangers like his makeup, his athletic ability and his bat, he's got a real nice swing. One club official strongly stated that Herren's best chance to make an impact is as a CF, and he expects him to stay in CF. I took that to mean this official didn't believe KC projected to have more than average power.

 Q:  Aaron from Hornell, NY asks:
John, Thanks for the chat. I have a question about the rankings, though. The short write-up BA has done explaining the top 10 says that Texas probably doesn't have a #1 in the organization. How is it, then, that there are two pitchers ranked ahead of Arias and Kinsler? - high quality MI prospects
 A: 

John Manuel: Good question, Aaron. Diamond and Danks project as No. 2 starters . . . Arias and Kinsler are good middle infield prospects. But I had enough doubts about Arias' bat and Kinsler's overall package to keep them behind those pitchers. A No. 2 starter is pretty valuable. Both Diamond and Danks are a lot closer to the big leagues than Arias, as well. There's not much difference, though, in the ceilings of players 1 and 2, and players 3 and 4, or much between 1 and 4, at least in this organization.

 Q:  Aaron from Hornell, NY asks:
John, What happened to the Seattle write-up? I thought it was supposed to be yesterday.
 A: 

John Manuel: Just a change in plans. Jim Callis chats on Mariners prospects on Friday.

 Q:  R.C. Cook from Dallas TX asks:
How do you expect the Rangers' draft philosophy to change now that Grady Fuson is out of the picture?
 A: 

John Manuel: It won't change radically, because Ron Hopkins is still in place as scouting director, he was hired by Grady and worked with Grady in Oakland. The difference was noticeable even in this year's draft. Eric Hurley is a John Hart pitcher, not a Grady Fuson pitcher. He's a power-arm, radar-gun guy. Fuson preferred pitchers who could throw strikes first and throw hard second. So I dont' think there will be many changes; I think they've already been made to some extent.

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
Where would Arias rank on the Yankees list? Is he a better prospect than 'Nacci?
 A: 

John Manuel: Since I did the Yanks top 10, I can answer this one. I probably would have put Arias at No. 2 for the Yanks, ahead of Robinson Cano. I like Cano, but Arias is a plus-plus defender at short whose bat should be at least adequate, if not more.

 Q:  hperl347 from Miami, FL asks:
John, can you tell us why the Rangers passed on Houston Street in order to take Eric Hurley-- what do you think about Mr. Hurley and where did he fall in the rankings?
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't understand why anyone would pass on Huston Street, but that has nothing to do with Eric Hurley. I mean, who would you rather have right now, Huston Street or Matt Bush? Just throwing it out there.

 Q:  Eric Belin from Nawlins asks:
Was there any consideration for Nick Masset being included in the Rangers' top 10? What is your appreciation of Nick Masset?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not much for the top 10, he's on the list for the 30 because he has a power arm and came on in the second half; Stockton pitching coach Andy Hawkins was quite pleased with the way he was coming on. He's still not commanding his stuff well enough to get the strikeouts you'd expect from his stuff, but the Rangers like his makeup and will give him a shot at Double-A next year.

 Q:  Eric Belin from Nawlins asks:
Jeremy Cleveland, Andrew Webster, Juan Senreiso, Vince Sinisi, KC Herren-Do you see any future Laynce Berkman or stars among these guys? What is your appreciation of the KC Herren pick by Grady Fuson?
 A: 

John Manuel: Of course Rangers fans would spell Berkman's name like Laynce Nix's. Oh well. I like Herren, though credit Hopkins--who lives in the Gig Harbor-Seattle area--for drafting Herren. I don't see a Berkman in that bunch; it depends on the scout as far as Sinisi's ceiling. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt about his power, more than I am with Gonzalez, and would rank Sinisi higher if not for his injury. I like Webster and Senreiso as discussed earlier. Cleveland had a rough year in my opinion, I thought he'd hit for more power than a .413 slugging percentage in the Cal League, but the Rangers still like his bat.

 Q:  Eric Belin from Nawlins asks:
Do you believe the current Rangers farm structure of Don Chiti, Ron Hopkins and Co will be a downgrade from Grady Fuson?
 A: 

John Manuel: Grady Fuson's track record, both before he came to Texas and with the Rangers, is very good. The improved depth in the Rangers farm system is attributable in large part to Fuson's efforts, and that's despite his first draft including the likes of Drew Meyer (I still like Drew, but it's hard to project him as a regular); John C. Barnett and Kiki Bengochea (both retired); and Patrick Boyd (two homers off Brad Ziegler, one against the rest of the Cal League). So Grady is Grady. Dom Chiti and Ron Hopkins have their own track records, though; they've both been scouts for a long time, they've been in the game a long time. They know what they're doing. I think the Rangers are in good hands.

 Q:  Scott from Gainesville, FL asks:
Any chance Ben Harrison or Jim Fasano develop into a prospect for the Rangers?
 A: 

John Manuel: Fasano has bat speed--ask Justin Verlander--and raw power. Not much else, though. He's an org guy for me. Harrison has more tools, and I've always kind of liked him, but he also swings and misses a lot and gets mechanical in the field and at the plate. I like Harrison's chances better, but neither is in the Top 30 at this time.

 Q:  Rob from Connecticut asks:
The Rangers have kept Ramon Nivar on the 40, and he seems to be showing more OBP tendencies in the Winter Leagues. How does he factor in to the team's plans? How does this change if Soriano leaves?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's a utility guy because of his speed and athletic ability. His aptitude leaves something to be desired, and I don't think he's a steady enough hitter to be a starter on a championship team, and the Rangers aren't far from being a championship team, if they can put the pitching equation together.

 Q:  Steve from Yellow Jacket Alley, Texas asks:
How do you see ex-Ramblin Wrecks Mike Nickeas, Brandon Boggs and Matt Lorenzo developing? Are any of them in the top 30 and what are the Rangers' plans for them?
 A: 

John Manuel: Lots of Tech flava with the Rangers this year. All three will be in the Top 30, and I've touched on Lorenzo and Nickeas. I like Boggs quite a bit, great tools, enough arm for RF if he can't stay in CF, but the bat is the question. He needs to make more consistent contact. He's a 4th OF for me. Lorenzo, if you're wondering, started at Tech before transferring to Kent State.

 Q:  R.C. Cook from Dallas TX asks:
For most of the team's recent history, they have been considered a pitching-poor organization. But it seems like with the current farm system, they're now stronger in pitching prospects than in hitting prospects. Is this truly the case?
 A: 

John Manuel: Time to go lightning round, here 1 1-2 hours into the chat.

John Manuel: I'd say they're a bit deeper on the mound, but that's the way they have drafted for two years now.

 Q:  Brian from Sante Fe, NM asks:
Another who would you take question...Blalock and Teixeira or Dallas Mcpherson and Casey Kotchman? Hard one or not???
 A: 

John Manuel: Hard, but I'd go Blalock and Tex. Love the Angels guys, but the Rangers guys have done it in the big leagues.

 Q:  Brent Smith from Dallas, Tx asks:
Would you Could you just release Chan Ho Park vs pitching him because of his salary? The number of hits and HR allowed compared to innings pitched is unbelievable and his presence has to be a major drain to the team.
 A: 

John Manuel: Actually, one scout who saw him in OKC in 2004 said Park's stuff was almost all the way back. I'd see if you can get anything out of that deal, since you're going to have to pay him anyway.

 Q:  Brad Z. from Springfield, MO asks:
Shane Bazzell looks like a great pickup for the Rangers. He had a dominant year in AA, and he's throwing very well in winter ball right now. Why didn't the A's do more to try to keep him? And where do you see him in the Rangers' system next year?
 A: 

John Manuel: Brad gets some AT . . . I'm just not on Shane Bazzell, sorry to say. If you're a performance guy and the A's let you go . . . well, that says it all for me. He's OK City fodder for me next year.

 Q:  Jim from Spokane, Wa asks:
I saw you only had Thomas Diamond in the list from this year's draft list. Is there anyone else in this year's draft class who just missed the list? Who off the Spokane Indians (short season A) is on the radar for the Rangers?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hurley and Nickeas and Boggs for the 30 (though Boggs isn't definite); Fasano, Harrison, Hulett, Travis Metcalf, Clint Brannon and Mark Roberts are all probable depth-chart guys, though one or two could sneak into the 30.

 Q:  Brett Perryman from Arlington, TX asks:
Who do you view as the best overall hitting prospects (regardless of position)in this organization? Would Sinisi be at the top of that list?
 A: 

John Manuel: Sinisi and Kinsler would be the top two.

 Q:  Sam from www.calleaguers.com asks:
I loved Pedro clone Edison Volquez, where does he fit in in the top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: Glad you asked, Sam. Volquez finished very strong in the Cal League and will make the 11-20 list, closer to 11 than 20, probably. Loose, live arm, and he threw strikes this year.

 Q:  James from Minnesota asks:
You already stated that Botts is a lesser hitter than Hafner, given that they have similar build and Minor League records, which aspects of his game would Botts have to improve in order to become a Hafner-esque?
 A: 

John Manuel: Main thing is to tighten up his swing, which has a lot more holes than Hafner's; going to be tough for him to do because he has longer arms than Hafner. He's not as short to the ball, which means Hafner has more usable power because he makes more consistent contact. Hafner K'd less as he moved toward the majors; Botts is striking out more. They are not the same player. Similar, but the comparison has some flaws. Hafner is a better hitter.

 Q:  Toni from Toledo, OH asks:
How can RHP Chris Young go from being #19 on last year's Expos prospect list to #5 on this year's Ranger list? Has he made much of a substantial improvement - or does that say something about the weakness of the Rangers minor leagues?
 A: 

John Manuel: Read the writeup (come on, it's not cheap, but it's worth it to subscribe). Young stuff did get better, substantially better.

 Q:  Todd from Gainesville, FL asks:
What is Grady Fuson doing now? Is he back with the A's (didn't he have a bad split with Beane too)? Is he another up-and-coming GM? He doesn't quite fit that fashionable "Moneyball-new-wave-GM" type. Also, doews CHris Young make the Rangers starting rotation?
 A: 

John Manuel: Grady is not with another organization yet. If I were him, I'd wait around for a position I really wanted, because he's still getting paid by the Rangers, but he wants to work. And yes, I think Young will be in the Texas rotation.

 Q:  R.C. Cook from Dallas TX asks:
How concerned are the Rangers about Erik Thompson's shoulder injury? And what kind of prospect is he, assuming that he makes a full recovery?
 A: 

John Manuel: Pretty concerned, as they should be; he's a smallish RHP and he has trouble staying healthy; he has TJ in his past as well. I think he's a middle relief guy if he's healthy, great command, not durable enough to start.

 Q:  Brad Z. from Springfield, MO asks:
Reports out of Springfield on Jason Hart are that he's healthy, recovered from brain tumor sugery, and ready to compete for a big-league roster spot, maybe after some AAA time. Do you see him ever returning to the form that made him the Topps Minor League Player of the Year in 2001 and becoming the top prospect that he could've been without the setbacks?
 A: 

John Manuel: Thanks for the update Brad! I think Jason is fighting an uphill battle, but if he gets back to the big leagues, he'll be bucking some pretty tough odds.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim asks:
In previous handbooks, Arias was considered to have plus raw power. The "thump" off his bat made that special sound. Does he still possess this and do you think he could tap into it in AA? Could he end up a 25-30 HR guy even if that projection is a super longshot?
 A: 

John Manuel: That scouting report last year also said he hits out of a crouch that short-circuits his power. He has BP power, but hasn't shown he can bring it over to games consistently. I'd prefer to see a guy slug more than .396 before I say he has power potential, no matter how young he was for the league.

 Q:  Scott from Springfield, Illinois asks:
How many former White Sox prospects are going to be in the Rangers top 30 and who has the highest ceiling of this group?
 A: 

John Manuel: Ha! Pretty funny . . . Rupe, Webster, Wing; Frank Francisco no longer qualifies. That's probably it.

 Q:  Trey from Dallas, Tx asks:
What do you project from Sinisi? Could he be their RF of the future? I know he was a first round talent that fell because of signability, but what do you think his ceiling or projections for the majors could be? Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: High-end: .300-.310 hitter, 20-25 homers.

 Q:  Cedric S. from Dallas asks:
Is Chris Young's stuff good enough to make him more than a 4th starter in the AL? I read a while ago he was going to work with Hershiser and that he believed he would be able to keep adding more power to his arm and possibly get his fastbal up to the 97 mph range? What do you think?
 A: 

John Manuel: Yeah, I think he's got a chance to be a 3-4 guy; he was 90-95 mph in September.

 Q:  Trip Somers from Plano, TX asks:
Diamond is #1, Danks is #2, but you (the BA "you") talk about Diamond having the ceiling of a #2 or #3 starter. In the past, there's been talk that Danks has #1 potential. Is this still the case? Is Diamond ranked higher just because he's more likely to reach his ceiling than Danks? What's going on there?
 A: 

John Manuel: Trip, I just don't think Danks is a No. 1 guy; if someone else did, maybe they did, but I don't. They're both No. 2 guys in terms of ceiling, IMO.

 Q:  Christian from Dallas asks:
Any dark horse players who might not make your top 20, but have a good shot at making the majors?
 A: 

John Manuel: Big sleeper . . . RHP Scott Feldman, coming back off arm surgery, had a great instructional league, throwing low-to-mid 90s.

 Q:  Chris S. from San Antonio, Tx asks:
Two questions.....Do you see the poor progress of Drew Meyer as one of the main reasons that led to Grady Fuson's demise? How would have taken instead of Meyer? Thanks in advance!
 A: 

John Manuel: I don't think Meyer was the only reason, but he was a lightning rod, no doubt. He went three picks ahead of Khalil Greene, that's a start of a guy they could have had.

Moderator: That's it! Gotta go. Thanks for all the questions and the interest.

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