Draft Chat With John Manuel And Nathan Rode
Jenny (From the block): This draft seems to lack something what do you guys think it is?
Let's get this thing started shall we?
I'll take your questions for about 45 minutes and then hand it off to
Sir John Manuel. Anything draft is fair game. I'll probably focus mostly
on high school stuff, but try to touch on some college guys as well. As
for "Jenny's" question...this draft does feel light. Putting it up
against last year's is unfair, but it's natural because of proximity. I
think this year is lacking a clear top guy (right now at least) and
depth. When we were hashing out the midseason Top 60 we had a couple
spots to fill. Usually, there's a guy or two for each staff member that
they're fighting to get in. For me, there wasn't that guy this year.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of guys I like in that mix and in
the Top 200, but none that really got me excited that I felt I had to be
emphatic about. There are cycles to a lot of things and the draft isn't
exempt, but I think injuries have obviously played a big role in things
being so muddled.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Glad to read Giolito has been
cleared to begin a throwing program. Assuming he's back to form, would
you consider him to be a top 5 pick?
We're glad to hear it to. Lucas is an
exceptional talent and you hate to see any kid go through something like
that. There isn't a timetable for his full return yet so it's hard to
say how things will shake out since we're looking at a four week window
right. With that being said, a healthy Giolito is a Top 5 pick for me.
His ceiling is so high that if he shows me a bullpen with crisp stuff
before June 4, I'd strongly consider him in that mix.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Is Courtney Hawkins worthy of a top 15 pick, and can he stick at 3B or is he destined for a corner OF spot?
Hawkins is an outfielder all the way. Not
sure where you got 3B from, but that was never an option. Since I've
seen him, going back two years, he's been an OF. On that note, I think
he can stick in CF. He's a plus runner and has a plus arm. If he has to
move to a corner, I think he profiles fine in right. I could see him
going anywhere from 15-30, though Top 15 wouldn't shock me. He's a good
athlete with awesome strength.
Brayden (PA): Phillies like toolsy athletes. Who are some of the players they could target?
Outfielders Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams
and DJ Davis, and third baseman Trey Williams could fit in that
discussion. But it's debatable who, if any, would be available for their
John (CT): I know his career is just beginning
and he will fill out, but as a teenager who does Byron Buxton remind
you of...Desmond Jennings, Alfonso Soriano, the Upton bros, someone
We've heard comparisons to a blend of the Upton brothers, among others, though I haven't heard Jennings or Soriano.
John (Washington, DC): Lots of buzz being
generated about NC State freshman pitcher Carlos Rodon. Are you bullish
on his potential to be a Top Five or better pick when the 2014 draft
Obviously, it's early, but he has that
potential. I'm definitely bullish. I liked him quite a bit out of high
school, but I don't think anyone knew he'd be this good this quick.
junior (san diego): would you rather have gavin cecchini or deven marrero?
Not sure where others in the office stand
on this, but I'd take Gavin Cecchini. I bet they wouldn't be shocked by
that. I think he has a good chance to stay at SS and is a better bet to
hit than Marrero. Marrero might be a better bet to stick there
defensively, but looking at the overall package, I'd take Cecchini. I'm a
huge fan of that kid.
Pablo (Bronx, NY): Any leads yet on amateurs
the Mets might be favoring with their first pick at #12? If Almora,
Trahan or Max Fried are available at that spot who would you take?
Still early to peg players to teams.
That's a tough choice between those three. I think I would take Fried,
but ask me tomorrow and I might take Trahan. Almora on Friday. There's a
ton to like about all three obviously.
Mike (Ithaca, NY): Who are the best New England high school prospects besides Rhett Wiseman?
Wiseman is really it. Outside of the guys
in New York and Pat Light in New Jersey, it's a pretty thin year in the
Northeast. Chris Shaw and Max Tishman in Massachusetts are interesting
guys, but with the new CBA they're not the kind of guy that's going to
go high enough to get a bonus that would sway them from going to school.
Keep an eye on them tough. Could be interesting after three years of
college. Tishman is a lefty and Shaw is a 1B with power.
Brett (Lexington NC): What your thoughts on Dukes Marcus Stroman draft stock and is he a starter in pro ball?
I love watching Stroman, especially since
his home starts are 10 minutes from my house. His stock is up from the
preseason. I've seen him hold his velocity deep into games and he has
the makings of at least two plus pitches so I do think he can start in
pro ball. I bet he's given the chance to, but even if he's a reliever,
it's a very good one with at least a plus fastball and slider. The
changeup is pretty awesome too. If he does move to the pen, he'll move
Glen (San Jose): Could Addison Russell be a top
15 pick? What kind of upside do you see from him, what's his risk
level, and can he stick at SS in pro ball?
I think Top 15 is too high, but I could
see him going anywhere from 15-30. Last year it seemed inevitable that
he moved to third, but he's transformed his body to a leaner frame that
has helped his quickness. It sounds like scouts still think he moves to
third base, but there's a better chance to stick at SS than if you asked
that question 8 months ago. He's a very good athlete even though it
doesn't always look pretty. He has good power and a good arm so he would
fit fine at third. He's no more or less risky than your typical high
school infielder for me.
Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Zach Eflin or Walker Weickel who gets
Drafted higher? Both 1st round?
I'm a Weickel apologist, but it sounds
like he's dipped this spring and Eflin is probably the guy that would go
first right now. I like to think Weickel is still a first rounder, but I
haven't had detailed conversations in that regard recently. John might
have a better sense since he's doing the Southeast for our Draft
Gerry Seff (Baltimore,Maryland): The Orioles
have few legitimate outfielders in their farm system,do you believe they
will have the opportunity to draft Bryan Buxton?
A small chance, but still a chance. I
can't imagine him getting past the Mariners, but crazier things have
happened as we all know. Ok, I have to jump on some calls so I'm going
to turn it over to John. Thanks everybody!
Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Allen Webster has been a
great story as a late round steal - you have to love rooting for the
underdog. But he's really getting hit around this season. Are there
any obvious reasons for his struggles, like a decline in the quality of
Thanks for the baton here Nathan. I just
happened to talk to a scout about Webster this week who saw one of the
outings you're referencing, in the "got hit around" department. If I
recall correctly, he thought the arm action almost was too clean, no
deception, and hitters were getting great looks at Webster's fastball.
He was concerned because he'd seen Webster better in the past; doesn't
sound like it's a matter of his pure stuff being down. David Paschall of
the Chattanooga Times Free Press just wrote about pitching coach Chuck
Crim wanting to speed up his tempo and improve his mound presence. I
know the Dodgers think highly of Crim, so I'd trust Chuck to pull him
out of it.
Pablo (Bronx, NY): Where do you see Addison
Russell being picked in the draft? And do you think he can stick at SS?
His throwing motion looks really awkward. And thats putting it nicely.
Not sure what video you watched but if you
didn't see him from this spring, you saw a different dude. Russell has
dropped between 20-25 pounds this spring. I haven't had complaints about
his arm strength or stroke; one scout called it average, another called
it a tick above-average, just glancing through my notes. Everyone
believes he can stay on the left side of the infield. Scouts are
definitely mixed on whether he's a SS or 3B, and even mixed on whether
he's a glove-first guy or a bat-first guy. He's not getting out of the
supplemental round, and I'd be surprised if he got out of the first.
Blake (St Louis): Very impressed by Pierce Johnson so far. Do you see him getting popped in the 1st?
I'm impressed by Johnson as well, and the
Bears' program has a nice track record for producing big league arms,
from Matt Palmer to Brad Ziegler and Jeff Gray and of course Shaun
Marcum and more recently Ross Detwiler. Johnson doesn't quite have
Detwiler's upside as a hard-throwing LHP but he was very good in his
first outing back from when he missed two weeks with an arm strain. He
wasn't as sharp his next time out against So. Illinois, so we'll see how
he finishes, but if he pitches like he did two weeks ago, he could
pitch himself into the back of the first round or the supplemental.
Tim (Tennessee): Who do you see getting drafted from the Vols?
Not a lot of guys; Drew Steckenrider is
the best bet to go out in a single-digit round, considering he has hit
96 mph somewhat regularly as a reliever.
John (Richmond, VA): Andrew Heaney or Chris Stratton for the Nats at 16?
I have not heard Heaney up as high as 16, but that is definitely in Stratton's 'danger zone."
Sorry, got a call, will be back soon.
Josh (Lake Charles, LA): With one month left
before the draft, how much stock do you think Giolito will be able to
regain? Will a team draft him high enough to keep him UCLA or does he
seem destined to be a Bruin?
Sorry for delay. I don't know what to
think of Giolito's stock, just because the more experience we have with
high school pitchers throwing that hard, the less I think high school
pitchers are meant to throw that hard. It just doesn't seem like it's
healthy to throw 98-plus as a teenager. That said, I don't think he's a
cinch to be a Bruin; there is a month of evaluation in between the draft
and the signing period. Teams that don't mind evaluating guy in a
workout (the Jack Z tree springs to mind) could decide he's worth the
investment if he works out healthy, but it's going to be very tight to
see him healthy before the draft. I can't argue with the Bruins
experience; it worked well for Gerrit Cole. Push comes to shove, I see
John (Richmond, VA): Thanks for the chat.
If Nolan Fontana is there at #80, would he be a good pick for the Nats?
It seems like a middle infielder with top of the order potential would
have great value for them.
I doubt he gets to 80 but yes, he's good
value there. He's steady, unspectacular, no real plus tool but a good
baseball player. I got a Mike Fontenot comp on him the other day that
was more of a career comparison than a tools comparison. Fontana will
get to the big leagues quicker than Fontenot, this college coach told
me, but he thought his LH-hitting profile and middle-infield ability
would keep him in the majors a long time like Fontenot.
Brian (Lacey, WA): Looking beyond the 2012 MLB
Draft, who are your Top 5 college sophomores for the 2013 Draft and Top 5
college freshmen for the 2014 Draft?
Our Top 50 by Class from January are part
of our Early Draft Preview:
That said, among sophomores, Karsten Whitson has been injured much of
this spring for Florida; I talked to Kevin O'Sullivan this a.m., and he
said Whitson is scheduled to start this weekend. He probably is still
No. 1 on that list. Colin Moran remains the top sophomore hitter for me,
but San Diego's Kris Bryant is right on his heels if he's not ahead of
him. Stanford's Austin Wilson is really coming on strong of late and has
8 HRs to lead the Cardinal.
Among freshmen, to me NC State LHP Carlos Rodon is the best pitcher in
the country period, not just the best freshman. Hard to see there's a
better pitcher out there than a 6-3, 235-pound lefty who hits 96 in the
first and the seventh, has a devastating slider like him and feel to
pitch. He's a beast. Nathan might have beaten me to the bandwagon but
I'm driving that deal now. The rest of our top freshman list holds up
well; Vandy's Tyler Beede has come on in the second half, and you could
add in NC State's other fine freshman, speedy 3B Trae Turner. He's at
least a 70 runner if not an 80 guy and it plays.
Joel (KCK): It's starting to look more and more
like Gausman will be the first college pitcher taken this year. Do you
think he ends up going 1.1 to the Astros if they decide against Buxton?
If I were drafting — and Astros fans
should be glad I'm not — and I wanted a college RHP this year, I'd go
for Gausman. Nothing against Appel or Zimmer or Wacha, but I think
Gausman has the best combination of size, stuff, projection ... the
breaking ball has been there in the past, it should be at least an
average pitch, and his fastball and change could both be plus down the
line. I do believe, though, that the gap between Buxton and the rest of
the class is significant enough that the Astros are going to wind up
going Buxton unless one of those college RHPs separates himself from the
pack in the next month.
Terry (Concord, CA): As low as the Giants are
drafting, do you see them going for the "best player available" or their
greatest need, starting pitching? Who do you see them taking with their
All the teams are going to do some sort of
"best player available who will sign" approach in the first round, and
probably subsequent rounds. This is a signability draft as new rules
create uncertainty, combined with a weak college class and a fairly
strong group of high school hitters. I'm focused on the Southeast so it
feels strong to me.
Scott (Pittsburgh): What bats to you hear the
Pirates are on with the 8th pick? I saw Correa in Puerto Rico last year
and I believe the write ups he is getting lately, and hope he is around
at 8. Thanks
Correa was No. 8 on our Midseason Top 60.
He's in the Excellence Games in Puerto Rico this weekend, where our
Conor Glassey is, so we'll have a report and a feature on him shortly.
Josh (Lake Charles, LA): Thanks for the chat.
If Houston has $7.2M slotted for the first pick, but none of the players
appear close to that level of talent (esp. if Buxton is out of the
picture), how likely is a scenario where they get two guys w/ ~$4M
pricetags at #1 and #41? That would give both guys money comparable to
1/4 where no team after 1/4 will be able to offer that large of a
contract without cutting corners elsewhere.
I'm sure teams are running through a lot
of such scenarios. To play devil's advocate, what agent would allow a
player to sign for $4 million knowing there are a few other teams that
can sign him for similar money, and knowing that the max is much higher
than that? Lots of pieces to the puzzle this year; I don't think it's as
cut and dried as you presented it. I do think that the Astros or Twins
at 2 (they have the largest pool but more picks) could hold firm to a
higher number that fewer teams could match.
Rick (Heartland): Top Division III draft pick is ______________
We don't focus on the guys by class but
preseason the top guys were Kevin Heller at Amherst, an ex-football guy
who's hitting .402, and Brian Rauh at Chapman, where he's striking out a
ton of guys again — 115 K's in 81 IP. Rauh had an arm injury in last
year's D-III CWS, but he's showing he's healthy this year, and he's an
88-91 mph guy who touches higher. Those guys both seem like solid
Maggie (Sierra Madre, CA): We watched a great
young shortstop over the weekend in Pasadena named Tanner Rahier and saw
so many scouts at the game. Is he going to be a high choice in the
upcoming MLB draft?
We wrote quite a bit on Rahier recently.
He is going to go out in the first two rounds because of his physicality
and ability to stay in the dirt. He's been on our Top 60 and our HS Top
100 all year.
Joel (KCK): The Royals pretty much have to take a college pitcher, right? If you play out the picks in your head, who falls to them?
Sounds like they wanted to last year but
Starling fell in their lap. It's a strong possibility this year, with
the usual suspects (Appel, Gausman, Zimmer, Wacha, Marcus Stroman) all
Mick (Chicago): I know it's the usual dearth of true shortstops for this years draft, but could you give us a couple sleeper prospects?
It's actually not. Some scouts think
Carlos Correa can stay there, or Corey Seager, or Russell. Cecchini can
stay there. Marrero can stay there (in fact has to if he's a prospect);
and Rahier has a chance to stay there. That's a decent amount. There are
no college SS guys to speak of really aside from Marrero and I suppose
Nolan Fontana, though I think of Fontana more as a 2B or utility guy at
the major league level.
For other shortstops, Georgia prep SS Dansby Swanson is a
second-to-fourth round talent, depending on who you talk to. He can play
short, there are some questions on the bat in terms of just how much
upside is there, and he's a Vanderbilt signee, which makes signability a
big question. He'd be in the next tier of prospects. If you like
college SSs, Darnell Sweeney has his backers in a single-digit range, if
you believe he can hit.
Sorry, gonna have to sign off. Too many
phone calls to do but I really appreciate all the questions. We'll try
to do better next time. Thanks.