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Blue Jays Top 10 Chat

Moderator: John Manuel joins the chat room from his parents' house in Fayetteville, NC, where he sought refuge, power and a shower after the ice storm that ravaged most of North Carolina, including BA's World HQ in Durham, NC. He's worked on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects for BA's Prospect Handbook the last three years.

 Q:  Mike Green from Toronto asks:
What are the reports on the defensive abilities of Quiroz (who is on your list) and Dominic Rich and Jimmy Alvarez (who are not)? Quiroz' defence, at least his arm, is supposed to be outstanding, but the Dunedin pitching did not seem to reflect handling from an outstanding defensive catcher?
 A: 

John: This is John, thanks for all the questions, I'll get to as many as I can. Here's a good starter. Quiroz made it at No. 10 because of his ceiling, and he showed signs of reaching that ceiling this year. He's athletic, has an excellent arm and handles pitchers quite well, according to Jays officials; I'm not sure what tells you he didn't handle the staff well. He speaks English well and has leadership skills. Rich has stiff hands and laborious footwork, but he has improved in those regards. However, his defense (or, in Canadian, defence) might be adequate eventually, but he'll have to keep hitting the way he did at Dunedin this year to be more than a Chris Stynes kind of player. Almaraz had an intriguing year but is not considered the same caliber of prospect as the other two players discussed.

 Q:  Dave from Bethlehem, PA asks:
Love these chats! You guys do a great job. I was looking at your 2006 line-up predictions and saw Russ Adams pegged at SS. Has Felipe Lopez fallen into disfavor with the Jays? Or do you think that he won't overcome his lack of plate discipline? Thanks.
 A: 

John: Lopez has had a difficult life and overcame a lot to reach the major leagues so quickly. There is some question in the organization as to whether Lopez has the maturity and baseball savvy to handle shortstop on artificial turf in the big leagues, while simultaneously improving his plate discipline. His star has fallen with the Jays, and his name has surfaced in trade talks as GM J.P. Ricciardi became enamored with SS Chris Woodward.

 Q:  Glenn from Frankfort , IL asks:
John,thanks for these chats. What type of upside does Mark Hendrickson have? And how likely is he to achieve that? He had a very nice debut.
 A: 

John: Fascinating prospect, one of the most interesting in the game. Hendrickson is 28 but has pitched just about 300 innings as a pro, and he's 6-foot-9. A lot of taller pitchers take a little longer to have everything come together. This guy played in the NBA for several years and has just been serious about baseball for the last couple of years. He pitched great in September; his stuff keeps getting better, and he's consistently in the 88-92 mph range with his fastball and has the ability to throw harder. I don't think anyone can say where his ceiling is; who's to say a coordinated athletic 6-foot-9 LHP can't be a No. 1 or 2 starter?

 Q:  Cold in Canada from Vancouver, B.C. asks:
Have you taken notice of switch hitting third base, outfielder Nom Siriveaw. He was rated best infield arm, had NY league leading obp and second highest average in league playoff. Also was top ten in batting average in regular season play. Is he considered a prospect, havent heard much of him, whats your thoughts.
 A: 

John: Nom has some plus tools, top being that infield arm. He's still fairly raw, but he has some pop and showed some versatility, playing some OF this year. He's got to improve defensively at third base, but he's got time to develop. Right now, the depth of the organization precluded him from being in the top 30.

 Q:  Chris from Victoria asks:
If Rosario didn't get hurt would he have been number one over McGowan.
 A: 

John: I'd say so. McGowan as No. 1 was very difficult. This organization doesn't have a true No. 1 in my mind. I'm frankly not too comfortable putting a low Class A righthander as the No. 1 guy, but McGowan has been healthy, has a good pitcher's body and really improved over the season's second half. Jayson Werth could be a utility guy, Kevin Cash has some hitting questions and Rosario will not be at full strength again until 2004. To me, McGowan made the most sense as the No. 1 guy.

 Q:  JJ from T.O. asks:
What are your thoughts on Neomar Flores? He's not a big name prospect, but playing on the same team as McGowan at the same age, he outproduced him in virtually every category (hip, bbip, era) except K's. Also, after a rough start he really played well posting a 2.75 era in his final 107ip. He may not have McGowan's stuff, but how high a ceiling does Flores have? Thanks.
 A: 

John: Flores just missed the top 30, an omission I may regret one day, but whatever. This was his first year out of the Dominican, and he came on strong. He doesn't have super stuff, but it's good--90-92 mph fastball, decent changeup and some feel for the pitch, and a decent breaking ball. He had a good instructional league. He could take a while or he could have a big breakout year next season.

 Q:  Steve Z. from Toronto, ON asks:
It seems that the hiring of Tony LaCava as assistant to J.P., went completely under the radar screen. What impact will LaCava have in an already-strong management team (including Ricciardi, Bill Livesy, Dick Scott, Tim Wilken, Keith Law, et al)? What is LaCava's reputation around baseball?
 A: 

John: LaCava has an excellent reputation after stints with the Expos and last year in the Indians' scouting department. He's another young, energetic person brought into the mix with holdovers like Tim Wilken and scouting director Chris Buckley. The Jays have done an excellent job with player development through the years; I don't see that changing under Ricciardi, and for the Jays sake, hopefully he'll make better big league deals and trades than his predecessor.

 Q:  Mark L. Peel from Arlington Heights, IL asks:
I was a little surprised to see no mention of 2nd round pick David Bush in the Best of the Rest section. Was it just because you wanted to focus on the left-handers or is there a problem?
 A: 

John: Just stuck to the lefthanders in that section. Bush actually will rank quite high on the Nos. 11-30 scouting reports included in the 2003 Prospect Handbook. He's got a chance to come quickly and could also get some time as a starter in 2003. I always liked him as the ACC's best closer at Wake Forest and expect to see his 90-93 mph fastball and power slider in the big leagues by 2004.

 Q:  Chris from Victoria asks:
J.P has done an impressive job so far, but his firing of longtime Blue Jays scouts and player developement staff seems puzzling since the players that performed well this year (with the exception of Hinske) were developed by them. How negatively did Ricciardi's layoffs affect the moral of the scouting and developement staffs.
 A: 

John: It has had some effect; this is covered well in our last issue in a story by Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail, one of the best baseball journalists out there. Jeff detailed a conversation with J.P. Ricciardi in which Ricciardi acknowledged the cuts were made with the bottom line in mind, but also with a philosophy brought with him from the Athletics organization. It's a great read.

 Q:  Bram from Kingston, ON asks:
Which of the following projections for Russ Adams would be most realistic? (Derek Jeter, Chuck Knoblauch, or Walt Weiss)? Do Jimy Alvarez and Dominic Rich have the potential to be bonafide major leaguers as well?
 A: 

John: Adams isn't like any of those players for me, but KNoblauch might be the closest. Think good Knoblauch, but I don't know that Adams will be quite the impact player Knoblauch is. First, he may not be an everyday SS; the Jays want to give him a chance there. If his power develops, he could end up at 3B, where his actions and arm profile well. He could be an excellent table-setter and he's a premium athlete. We touched on Alvaraz and Rich earlier.

 Q:  Chris from Victoria asks:
How do the Blue Jays plan to use Phelps and Werth in terms of playing as a catcher? Will Phelps be exclusively a DH-first baseman, or will he split some catching time with Wilson and Huckaby.
 A: 

John: There's som question about that. My guess is, Phelps will still do some catching but will never be an everyday catcher. His bat would be even more valuable at catcher, but he also needs to stay healthy. Also, for teams on a budget, using young players at DH is a better option than an overpaid veteran.

 Q:  Ken Godfrey from London, England asks:
hey john, i was wondering what you thought of Gabe Gross, do you feel he can become a major league regular or an all-star outfielder and how badly has this past season affected his development? thanks
 A: 

John: Gross had a tough season, obviously. I do think he'll work through it. He made strides in the Arizona Fall League and in the season's second half. It was his first full year of pro ball, and he handled some real adversity (.140 in April) to bounce back somewhat. I think he'll have a big year in 2003 at New Haven and still projects as a very solid big league right fielder.

 Q:  Chris from Victoria asks:
There seem to be a lot of Orlando Hudson trade rumours going around. If Hudson gets dealt does Felipe Lopez take over at second base?
 A: 

John: Lopez' best shot at staying in Toronto is at 2B. I think trading Hudson would be a mistake, but Lopez could work at 2B or 3B in the future.

 Q:  dave english from abu dhabi in the united arab emirates asks:
What are the prospects for fist baseman Justin perry pitchers chad pleiness and outfielder eric rico
 A: 

John: Perry and Pleiness both made the top 30, Pleiness pretty high, though you'll have to buy the book to see how high. He's like Hendrickson in his size and basketball background but is much further along than Hendrickson was at 22. The RHP misses bats and has pretty decent command to go with his improving stuff and has a high ceiling. Perry has lefthanded power, and that can go a long way. He will get a chance to play LF next year, which he played as a sophomore at Georgia Tech. Rico's a young outfielder, lefthanded hitter, but not as highly regarded as Perry or teammate Randy Braun, who hit just .197 in 61 at-bats at Medicine Hat.

 Q:  Big KG from Big Chicago asks:
Tyrell Godwin played just 50 or so games this year and hit fairly well, albeit without any power. He'll be 24 in July. With all of the delays in his career, is the clock ticking, or do the Jays still see potential there?
 A: 

John: The clock is ticking, no doubt. Godwin was likened to Gaylord Perry by one in the organization, and may never develop the loft abilityto go with his bat speed and line-drive power. He can hit and he can run; Godwin also needs to play with the chip on his shoulder he had in 2001. He's still got plenty of doubters, so he should be able to use that to motivate him, if he needs it. I'd be surprised personally if he's not a big leaguer, but I'm a fan of his.

 Q:  Isabelle from New York asks:
What is your assessment of lefthander Justin Maureau? Will he be a closer, middle reliever or starter, and how quickly will he move through the Blue Jays organization?
 A: 

John: Also made the Top 30, interesting guy, probably too small (not durable enough) to be a starter, and his breaking ball is so good, he will reach the big leagues quickly as a lefthanded setup man.

 Q:  Ryan Baker from Cleveland, OH asks:
Jon, What is your opinion of Toronto's apparent rotation this year. I love Doc Halladay, and I'm not expert, but it doesn't look like they gave up much to get Lidle. But beyond that it looks patchy. I saw Hendrickson twice last year and like his looks. I guess you could fill the rotation with Miller and Walker cheaply after that. But there doesn't appear to be any depth there. I know there's a lot here, but I'm really curious where JP is taking the pitching staff. Thanks.
 A: 

John: Tough to know. The Jays signed a lot of 6-year FAs, a J.P. specialty, but I do think that top 5 of Halladay, Lidle, Hendrickson, Walker and Miller is the projected rotation, and it's not particularly imposing. Mike Smith needs to come up with something offspeed to join the growing list of Richmond Spiders who are consistent big leaguers. That would give the team another option.

 Q:  Roadster from Chicago asks:
Looking at the top ten and at the major league level, the Blue Jays is one of a few teams with catching depth. Between Cash, Werth, and Phelps, which one is most likely to stay or become trade bait to catching starve teams...like...the Cubbies?
 A: 

John: The Cubs have made all the catching moves this offseason. The Jays do have great depth, made a nice find with Ken Huckaby (Team USA, 2001, Intercontinental Cup teammate of Orlando Hudson) and have Cash as a near-big league ready option. No organization has the catching depth of Toronto.

 Q:  Jays Fan from Toronto, Ontario asks:
Interesting list! How close was Tree Thorpe and Neomar Flores in making the top 10?? I know they had decent years at low A this year!
 A: 

John: Thorpe was in the 11-20 range; Flores just missed a deep top 30. Thorpe's a huge guy, former Central Fla. QB recruit, but fell off in midseason with an injury and had serious shoulder surgery that might make him miss all of 2003.

 Q:  JP from Toronto, ONT. asks:
Hello John, for arguements sake, what would it take from the Jays organization to get say, Jesse Foppert from the Giants? Talent for Talent, be creative. Thanks.
 A: 

John: Hmmm . . . the two orgs actually make a nice match. The Jays need big league ready arms. The Giants need help at C and in the middle infield; they have little if no depth at those spots in the minors. Felipe Lopez and Kevin Cash or Phelps (if the Giants thought he could catch) might work.

 Q:  Tony Tavella from Richmond Hill, Ont. asks:
Hi John, Shawn Fagan? Not great in the field and low HR totals, But great walk and doubles totals. What does this guy have to do, is he much of a prospect? Thanks.
 A: 

John: Fagan's plate discipline alone doesn't make him a prospect. He needs to show more power to be a corner IF or LF utility guy. He reminds some of Greg Colbrunn and could be that kind of role player in the future, which isn't bad. Had an excellent college career at Penn State.

 Q:  Alex Rosa Donati from NY asks:
Jason Waugh OF and Jason Perry 1B especially, really smoked the ball after the draft, I know it's way early but considering your possible views on them prior, what do you think of them two "Jason's From Hell" (tm.) now?
 A: 

John: Already mentioned Perry, but Waugh is interesting, pretty solid power, needs to make more consistent contact. Not as good a hitter as former St. Mary's teammate Mike Teahen (Athletics), but more power and a solid defender.

 Q:  Steve Sterling from Toronto asks:
I'm crazy excited about the potentential of Vinny Chulk, Brandon League and Dustin McGowan but there were some other pretty good arms in the lower rungs of the Jays' system last year, especially in Auburn (DJ Hansen, Sandy Nin etc). What do you think the Jays' major league rotation will look like in say, 2005?
 A: 

John: Auburn's rotation was so loaded it's sick. If Hansen's healthy, he could have the best stuff of anyone in the system save Liriano. Just filthy breaking ball and 90-95 mph heat. Nin also has nasty stuff, little guy, but arm strength and a power breaker. Pleiness, League, Jordan DeJong, Brian Cardwell, David Bush, Vince Perkins, Juan Perez, Adam Peterson . . . just a lot of power arms came to Auburn this year.

 Q:  Ed Zosky from Syracuse asks:
Everyone says David Bush gets to SkyDome first, But what about Jordan De Jong? This kid can cook too nes pas?
 A: 

John: Oui. DeJong had an interesting college career, detailed by our Mark Derewicz back in the spring during our college coverage. The former CSUF Titan surprised the Jays with his consistent 90-92 fastball, excellent command and solid curve and changeup. He's poised and also could move quickly, though they're unsure if he could be more than that of a NO. 4 or 5 starter.

 Q:  Steve Sterling from Toronto asks:
Chris Woodward or Felipe Lopez. Which one would you keep?
 A: 

John: Neither to me is a true big league SS. I'd probably choose Lopez, but Woodward is a very useful player. The Jays ended the year with a 43rd rounder (Hudson) and 54th rounder (Woodward) as their middle infield. Impressive player development and scouting there.

 Q:  Chris from Winnipeg asks:
Does Miguel Negron still seem like a good first round pick? I know Gord Ash was under considerable financial constraints when he drafted him but 2 raw Puerto Ricans in a row seemed like a major gamble. Fortunately, Rios seems to be developing nicely.
 A: 

John: Negron will have to have a big year next year to be protected on the 40-man roster, but part of that is the Jays' OF depth. Gord Ash, I'm sorry to say for him, had little to do with drafting those guys. Most GMs have little to do with the drafting of amateur players. Those were Tim Wilken and the Jays' scouting department's decisions, and Negron has the tools to have been a first-rounder. He's still learning the game, he's still young, runs well and can play CF. That makes him a valuable prospect.

 Q:  Taylor from Japer, Alberta asks:
I know it's still just "rumor", and Ricciardi obviously loves the kid, but if JP & Billy Beane did end up doing trade swap Mombo Number 4, Where would Jason Arnold fit in the Jays Top 10. If McGowan's #1 today, Arnold would have to be the new #1 tomorrow yes?
 A: 

John: No, Arnold wouldn't be No. 1 over McGowan, Dustin's got a higher ceiling for me than Arnold, and I like Jason Arnold.

 Q:  Mike from Exton, PA asks:
I was very surprised to see the Jays draft ranked so highly. Adams, Bush et al look like solid safe picks, but I don't see a lot of upside. IMO a top ranked draft ought to have a coulpe guys who project to be frontline starters or middle of the order hitters or middle of the diamond All Stars. I guess you can stretch and say Adams could be an All Star, but I don't see anybody else. The JAys top 3-4 picks could all hit their ceilings and the Jays draft still wouldn't be as good as some other team who gets "only" one real superstar quality player.
 A: 

John: Mike, here's why we disagree with you. These weren't just solid, safe picks. Adams has athleticism, instincts and plate discipline. He wasn't just a safe, OBP pick, he was also a tools pick. Bush is the same, not your average safe senior guy, but a guy with serious upside. Same with Wichita State's Adam Peterson. Chad Pleiness could be a stud. 34th round pick Justin Owens has an intriguing swing, and 6th-rounder Jason Perry could be a 30-HR LH hitting 1B or LF. They could get 6-8 big leaguers out of this draft; I'm sure I didn't mention some very good prospects. That's what makes this a potentially very good draft. That draft vs. Scott Kazmir is an interesting philosophical question, but I'll take the one with 6-8 big leaguers.

 Q:  Chris from Winnipeg asks:
I noticed that Wise and Thurman weren't on the top prospect list. Are they still consider prospects or did their extensive service in the majors during the Rule 5 years negate that?
 A: 

John: too much service time, but Wise and Thurman still have a place in the organization's future. Wise's ability in CF makes him worth keeping, and Thurman should be mentioned as a possible guy in the rotation.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
I know he is with the A's now, but was Michael Rouse more than a throw in with the Lidle trade?
 A: 

John: I'm a personal Mike Rouse apologist. I think the guy can really play and is a good pickup for the A's, who now have the top three SS from the Big West Conference in 2001--J.T. Stotts (CS Northridge), Rouse (CS Fullerton) and Bobby Crosby (Long Beach STate). Rouse has some pop in a LH swing, can play SS better than you'd think (solid arm strength, decent actions) and is athletic.

 Q:  Fincher from San Bernadino asks:
The BA guys are pretty big on 10th round draftee second baseman Eric Arnold aren't they? What's the good word on him? Is there more to him than say, Dominic Rich? Thanks.
 A: 

John: Not really; Rich is a better prospect. Arnold had a very productive college career at Rice but will have to hit a lot to be a pro prospect; he's not a great fielder.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
How is Canada's own Lee Delfino doing? Does he still project as a middle infielder?
 A: 

John: Delfino of Kitchener, Ont., has to be a bat-first guy and didn't hit much this year, plus he's moved to 2B. But the Jays still like his power potential and athletic ability. He needs a big year in '03.

 Q:  Chris from Winnipeg asks:
Will Cash be able to hit well enough to succeed at the major league level. He is getting on the old side to be a prospect and until this year, he hadn't really done a lot with his bat. He is outstanding defensively but his numbers in the AFL certainly aren't encouraging.
 A: 

John: Cash was tired in the AFL, and he had a good offensive season in 2001 (.283, 12 HR in FSL). His BB-K ratio at Syracuse is a concern, and he was a marginal hitter even at Fla. State (.319 career high). But he's got power and can catch-and-throw; if he hits .250 with some patience and pop,that's a nice combination for a big league C.

 Q:  Chris from Winnipeg asks:
Are the Jays going to keep Werth behind the plate in case Cash doesn't plan out or will he be making the permanent switch to the outfield? He played well there during last year and when he was called up in September and JP has stated that he does have the ability to play the corner positions and occasionally center. Where will he be in 2003? Toronto, Syracuse, or traded?
 A: 

John: I think Jayson Werth will always play some C; Eli Marrero is the model for him, and like Marrero he'll play some CF. Werth will have an outside shot at getting some PT in RF for the Jays in 2003 but again, they see him as a 400 ABs guy playing a lot of positions. Otherwise, we would have ranked him No. 1.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Hi John, Love these chats! I have seen many comparisons throughout the year about Brandon League and Dustin McGowan. In some cases, I think I have read that League is better. Given the information on these two pitchers throughout the year, why is McGowan #1 and League #5? I would have thought these two players would be only a spot apart. Or did League fade down the stretch and McGowan really come on at the end of the season?
 A: 

John: The big difference is the K-IP ratio. McGowan has ranked at or near the top of his league in strikeouts as a pro, while League has not and didn't average a K per inning this year. He needs to stay on top of his slider and show better fastball command to get more strikeouts.

 Q:  Chris from Winnipeg asks:
The projected 2006 lineup I saw for the Jays included Delgado and Escobar. Do you really think that both players will still be around in 4 years? That seems a little far-fetched. I do like the position players of Cash, Hinske, Adams, Hudson, Wells, Stewart and Gross though.
 A: 

John: Our future lineups are done this way--we take the top player at every position and unless they're going to be 40 or something, we leave them in the lineup. We just can't assume those guys will be traded. It's just intended to be more of a depth chart, in my mind, and I think that's how all of us treat the lineup.

 Q:  Chris from Winnipeg asks:
With Gustavo Chacin being removed from the 40 man roster, do you see him being selected in the Rule 5 draft? Why would he have been removed anyway? The Jays still have 4 open spots on the roster so they could have protected both Chacin and Wiggins even if they wanted to select a couple of players themselves.
 A: 

John: Chris is active. Chacin's stuff is fringy at best, same with Wiggins, though Wiggins had more success this year. I don't see Chacin getting much of a look, he's a lefty without much of a breaking ball, bad combo. Wiggins isn't great either; that Mondesi trade was a 100% salary dump.

 Q:  Oswald from from Florida asks:
Have gotten to see Dunedin, Tennessee and Syracuse play this past season - The top 3 guys I have seen and did not make the list are David Gassner (lhp) Rich Thompson (of) and Shawn Fagan (1st 3rd C) What are your thoughts on these 3 especially Gassner.
 A: 

John: Gassner's a lefty with fringy stuff but good maturity and command out of Purdue. Thompson is fine, nothing special, not much power at all, and he's not a CF, so that's kind of a problem. Fourth OF at best. Fagan has been covered and is the only one of the three who made the Top 30.

 Q:  Chris B from SLC, UT asks:
John--Thanks for taking the time to chat. Are the Jays going to be competitive in 2003 and what moves would you make (via trade or prospects) to further bolster the Jays chances?
 A: 

John: I think the starting pitching situation we've discussed indicates the Jays will really struggle to compete in '03. I think they just need to be patient for thier young starters to develop; JP Ricciardi is trying to find a taker for Carlos Delgado, if he finds one, that would help as well. If only Jim Thome had gone back to Cleveland, maybe the Phillies could have been had.

 Q:  James Caley from Largo, Florida asks:
The Jays are famous for affordable draft picks as opposed to the best player available - where do Alexis Rios and Miguel Negron fit into the Jays plans?
 A: 

John: The Jays made TWO such picks, these are the only ones, so I would hardly say the Jays are "famous" for this. Rios is almost an elite prospect; if he hits for more power in '03, he'll be the organization's top position player prospect. He can play CF, makes consistent contact, hits for average, does everything but walk and hit for power, and the power is in there. I'm a huge Rios fan. Negron has been discussed, very different player but also a CF, better speed, less power, but a solid prospect, 11-20 range.

 Q:  Adam B. from Cincy, OH asks:
BA says the Jays may have the best talent in the minors within the division but don't have a surefire "impact player". Isn't this sort of an oxymoron? Can be the "best" without a Rivera, Badelli, Ramirez, etc?
 A: 

John: Not an oxymoron at all; this isn't the NBA, you need more than 1 or 2 impact players to be a playoff team, so depth is very important, and the Jays have the best depth among the five organizations in the division. I frankly don't think it's close, the Jays' top 30 is much stronger in my mind than the other four orgs. I'd say the Devil Rays are next, then maybe Yankees (guess I agree with Boyd over Callis), then Red Sox, then Georga Tech, then Orioles (just a little joke there).

 Q:  Luke Gofannon from On the road with the Mundys asks:
While there are 300 players on BBA's age discrepancy chart, only one of them is in the Blue Jay organization. I know the organization has spent decades mining the Caribbean, but it's a little hard to believe they are that much better than everyone at verifying the age of signees. Should we expect 1)"adjustments" to Blue Jay prospects' ages this spring or 2) for other ML teams to start paying Toronto for the use of their vital statistics investigators?
 A: 

John: I think there will be more age discrepancies coming up this year; visas aren't renewed every year, it's every two or three years, and so some people didn't need new visas last year. Plus, almost all the guys on the list were Dominicans, and the Jays have plenty of players from Puerto Rico (which is a U.S. commonwealth, so its natives are more readily documented, I would guess, than Dominicans) and Venezuela. I am guessing we'll have a lot of Venezuelans get "older" in the coming years.

 Q:  Adam Bouman from Cincy, OH asks:
Honestly, will the Blue Jays ever have enough CHEAP, young, and good talent to be able to keep up with the Yankee and Red Sox cash cows?
 A: 

John: Why not? The Yanks and Sox (especially the Sox) arne't infallible. The key for me is developing another couple of pitchers to put with Roy Halladay; that's how they Jays will compete, but I think it can be done.

 Q:  Adam Bouman from Cincy, OH asks:
Would you rank the AL East as the most talent-rich division?
 A: 

John: No; in fact, it's one of the worst. The Orioles are possibly the No. 30 organization. Boston and NYY are also low on talent, and the Devil Rays have a lot of OFs and then are thin elsewhere. So this may be the least-deep division. The Indians and Twins carry the AL Central, the AL West is deep, so is the NL West (Padres, improved Giants, improved Dodgers) . . . NL East is better just bc of the Braves, and the NL Central is better with the Cubs, Astros, even the improved Brewers. Yep, this is off the top of my head the worst division in terms of minor league talent in MLB.

 Q:  Chris from Williamsburg, VA asks:
John, How is my man Peter Bauer doing, and is he going to be in the SkyDome anytime soon?
 A: 

John: Chris, Peter is just a mystery to the Jays. He's looked great on the side and in spring training, but doesn't bring that 92-94 mph velocity to games consistently and has been hit hard. 2003 will be huge for him to prove he's still a prospect. The stuff is there, it seems, but he's just not producing.

 Q:  ron mckenzie from vancouver bc asks:
are the jays still very high on brian cardwell and charles kegely? How good can they be? thanks
 A: 

John: No, they are not. Let's call Kegley a rookie mistake on my part for putting his ceiling way far ahead of his likelihood of reaching it and ranking him too high in 2000. Cardwell still has a chance, but he's still a ways away, still in short-season Class A, where he was in 2000. He's got power stuff, a great slider, but he's had the yips and he's 6-foot-10, and it takes a while for those tall pitchers to have command. He could take a while and then could really get it together, or he could never get it together command-wise fully.

 Q:  Josh from Tallahassee Florida asks:
What are your thoughts on Cam Reimers and Matt Ford. Cam wrote me a bunch of nice letters while I spent a year in the hospital a couple years ago. He was a decent prospect at the time and I havent heard much since. I went to grade school with Matt and he is from my home town of Tamarac FL. He was in dunedin then demoted now I dont know where he is. THANKS AND LOVE THESE CHATS GO NOLES (Stephen Drew #1 pick in 04 baby!!!!) Josh
 A: 

John: Josh, Ford is one of the organization's top prospects, he's a lefty who won the FSL ERA title. Next year is the big one for him; if he succeeds in Double-A, he has a chance to be a big leaguer. Reimers has really struggled with injuries and then this year just didn't have his best stuff and got hit hard. They still like his size and durability and will give him another chance at Double-A in 2003.

 Q:  Mike from Toronto asks:
Has Mike Snyder turned a corner? What do you think his potential is?
 A: 

John: Perhaps; he's got power from the left side, hence the org's patience with him. He's got to keep developing more patience to improve his power next year at Dunedin.

 Q:  Scott from Toronto asks:
Where do the Jays focus in next year"s draft? College hitters or college pitchers? Do you know if any player has caught JP's eye, like a Matt Murton?
 A: 

John: The Jays have gone college heavy the last two years in the draft, not just this year under the JP regime. Chris Buckley went that route in 2001, except for Brandon League. I would see the Jays doing that again, and I don't see a true hole in the organization that begs for attention in the draft. Any team would be happy to draft Ga. Tech OF Matt Murton. Great bat, big talent, big kid, runs well.

 Q:  Michael Levesque from Trent River, Ontario asks:
Hey John, How are things. From first hand knowledge, I just like to add that Tony LaCava is an excellent hire for the Jays. One of the best talent evaluators in the game and one of the classiest guys you'll ever meet. A future GM in the making. That said, was the scoop on right-hander Juan Manzueta. The guy was lights out this year going 8-0, 2.45 with 105 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched.
 A: 

John: Mike is the expert on Tony LaCava. Manzueta certainly had a dominant Rookie-level DSL outing, but I prefer to wait and see what guys will do when they get to the U.S. and go through that transition. The top Dominican guy who could blow up next year for the Jays is Juan Perez, who struggled somewhat in Medicine Hat but has a great power arm and could really come on next year.

 Q:  Pete S from Florida asks:
How is Godwin like Gaylord Perry???
 A: 

John: sorry, I meant Gerald Perry.

 Q:  Steve from Washington DC asks:
Jim Callis described his process in rating the Red Sox top ten. Would you agree that ranking the Jays top 10 may be the most subjective of all in the AL East and that others could come up with a much different ranking?
 A: 

John: OK, I've got to go, this will be the last question. I'm not sure why this would be the most subjective of all in the AL East. I've ranked the Jays for three years and I think I know the organization's players well. I spoke to several members of the organization about the top 30 and followed a process similar to that described by Jim Callis. Of course you could come up with a different ranking, but I would be confident that mine would be more accurate. Thanks to everyone for turning out fo the chat, it was fun. Hope you have a good weekend.

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