Top 100 Prospects Chat

John Manuel and Jim Callis answered Top 100 questions




Q:  KO from Pittsfield, MA asks:
What caused the change in opinion from last season with Dexter Fowler and Andrew McCutchen? Fowler was #74 last year and McCutchen was 14. Seems like you see big improvement in one and little improvement in the other.
 A: 

John Manuel: Welcome to the chat today, hope everyone is as excited as we are about the list and the start of college baseball season and the start of spring training. Fun time of year.

John Manuel: I guess the easy answer here is, last season happened. I've always been pretty bullish on Fowler; we had a "Split Decision" last year where I thought Fowler was quite similar to Desmond Jennings, and had the breakout year the Rockies had been looking for. Then you throw in McCutchen, who for me looks like he'll be a solid player but not a star. Fowler has more offensive upside, is at least as good of a defender, he's got similar if not better tools across the board, he jumped up because he did it at a level above A-ball last year for the first time. That's what it took for him to jump up the rankings.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Very good list overall, kudos. However, I'm scratching my head as I see Rasmus at #3 overall. Let's recap - he struggled to bat over .200 for the first couple of months of the 2008 season, did finally improve, but after succombing to injury he put together what I wouldn't exactly call a mindblowing season, yet his ranking improved substantially since last year's Top 100. He's clearly the Cardinals' best prospect, and will have an excellent shot at making the team this season, but how do you justify his lofty ranking? Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He got off to a slow start as a 21-year-old in Triple-A, and I don't hold that against him. He was starting to hit as expected when he got hurt, and I still see him as a solid center fielder who's going to hit for power and average and draw a good amount of walks. His ranking also didn't improve substantially—he was No. 5 on last year's list and the four guys ahead of him all graduated from prospect status. I'll take him over any center field prospect in the game.

 Q:  Scotty from Dallas asks:
Love to see all the Rangers making the top 100, but I think BA missed on Michael Main. He should have made the top 100, IMO. Where does he rank and what are BA's thoughts on Main? Thanks!
 A: 

John Manuel: Main and fellow Rangers farmhand Engel Beltre were both pretty close to making it. I actually was just talking to a reporter with the Dallas Morning News about this; in one iteration, before all our votes were counted (and this year six of us were involved in the top 100), both of those Rangers were in, toward the back at 98 and 99. Both fell just short. Main has all kinds of upside thanks to his quick arm and athleticism, but (a) he is just becoming a full-time pitcher after being a two-way guy in high school, and (b) in his first full year as a pitcher, he missed significant time. It was just a cracked rib but he's making adjustments and hasn't pitched a full season. He definitely has top 100 upside. It is prudent, I would argue, to be conservative with pitchers who haven't thrown more than 58 innings in a season.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
MadBum put together an amazing campaign, thus I'm shocked he didn't make your Top 5. Was there disagreement between your staffers as to where he should rank, or was it pretty much unanimous?
 A: 

Jim Callis: John and I discussed this in the podcast then went up on our website a little while ago. When we were putting the Top 100 list together, we all agreed that David Price and Matt Wieters were the top two prospects in the game. After that, our opinions diverged. I ranked Bumgarner as the No. 4 prospect in baseball, but we also had one person who ranked him 26th. After Price and Wieters, there wasn't a lot of consensus.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
I just read your article about the case of Price vs. Wieters for the top spot. However, you didn't let the cat out of the bag as to how all six BA staffers voted. Care to show and tell the class? Was it as close as a 4-2 vote?
 A: 

John Manuel: Thanks for reading; wouldn't be a BA chat without Jaypers, would it? Anyway, as far as the voting, I believe it was 5-1 Wieters, with Jim Callis voting for Price. We discussed that in today's BA Podcast, which is free on the site, give that a listen. I will say I was surprised it was so lopsided, but I think we overestimated how much Price's postseason performance would affect evaluators.

 Q:  Mike Stewart from El Segundo asks:
Had Tanner Scheppers and Aaron Crow signed with the respective MLB clubs, would they have made this list, and if so, where?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Assuming Scheppers was healthy, they both would have made it. They were the No. 2 (Crow) and No. 3 (Scheppers) pitching prospects in the 2008 draft before Scheppers got hurt. Crow would have been in the 31-40 range and Scheppers a few spots behind him.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
Max Ramirez was BA's Rangers' #10 overall prospect, yet somehow made this list over #s 7-9 (Beltre, Main and Borbon). I realize Aaron Fitt didn't contribute to this Top 100 list, but what made you give him a slot here?
 A: 

John Manuel: This is one we also discussed at length in the podcast, but it's a good, common question. Generally, we tried to leave teams' No. 1 prospects alone; if a player ranked No. 1 in a system, he was going to be the No. 1 guy on the top 100. However, after that, there were bound to be differences, because our rankings aren't done by one person. You missed the first, obvious one — Derek Holland ranked second on the Rangers' list, but third, behind Justin Smoak and Neftali Feliz, on the top 100. As for Max Ramirez, he's a lot closer to the majors than Engel Beltre and Michael Main, who both have higher ceilings and ranked ahead of him in the Texas Top 10. Then Borbon vs. Ramirez, Ramirez's bat is much more polished than Borbon's, though Borbon is the more well-rounded player. We also had good reports on Ramirez defensively coming out of winter ball; I know for me personally that prompted me to run him up my list a bit higher than I would have otherwise. The Rangers had 10 guys get significant support for the Top 100; that's pretty impressive.

 Q:  Tom from Harrison, NY asks:
How does Inoa even appear without throwing a pitch?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sigh. The list is based on long-term major league value, and not what a guy has accomplished in pro ball yet. Pedro Alvarez has yet to have a minor league AB, and he's on the list at No. 12. These guys still have a lot of value even if they have yet to make their pro debuts.

 Q:  Nora from RI asks:
Which five prospects just barely missed, and why? (101-105)
 A: 

Jim Callis: The five guys who came the closest and missed are Rangers outfielder Engel Beltre, Nationals lefthander Ross Detwiler, Blue Jays first baseman David Cooper, Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon and Dodgers righthander Ethan Martin. They're all worthy candidates, and Beltre, Martin and Borbon all made my personal Top 100. They just didn't get as much support as the guys who did make it.

 Q:  Drew from NYC asks:
Where do you see Gordon Beckham playing in Chicago? Does he stay at SS, slide to 2B or move to 3B? He seems to lose a little value with each move down the spectrum, right?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The White Sox believe he can stay at shortstop, but it comes down to whether Alexei Ramirez grabs the position this year. If Ramirez holds onto it, they'll move Beckham to second or third base. If he plays a less challenging position, it will affect his value. But he should be a well above-average offensive performer at second or third base, too.

 Q:  Pierre from Montreal, Quebec, Canada asks:
Why is Gio Gonzalez on the list, but Vin Mazzaro isn't?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Gonzalez is a lefty (Mazzaro is a righty), Gonzalez has better stuff and Gonzalez has had success at higher levels.

 Q:  jerry from central valley, CA asks:
How could Chris Marrero, a top 50 prospect last year, fall out of the top 100 so quickly? Was it because of his injury? Could he be a potential top 30 prospect next year?
 A: 

John Manuel: Marrero has moved down the defensive spectrum, from left field to first base, and he's missed development time. All his value is in the bat; I think there also was some bad mojo going around that organization. We wrote about him getting bigger and being almost more of a DH in the scouting report; I know that scared me. If he comes in healthy, in shape and hits like he did in 2007, when he hit 23 homers in 125 games, then he'll move back up. He got some support, but I don't think we honestly gave any Nationals the benefit of the doubt.

 Q:  Chris from Pittsburgh asks:
Since both McCutcheon and Tabata play center field, which one is more likely to have the bat to move to a corner if they both reach the majors?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Tabata. I've always thought of him more as a right fielder in the long run, anyway. McCutchen fits the traditional center-field profile better.

 Q:  Drew from NYC asks:
What's your take on the great reviews on Rick Porcello coming out of spring training? Any chance he gets more than a cup of coffee this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Porcello is a tremendous prospect, and that makes for great reading, but bear in mind with not a lot going on in spring training, there are a lot of "phenom looks terrific" stories coming out of various camps. He's still just 20, and I expect Porcello to spend most of the year in Double-A. Look for a big league cameo in 2009 and him arriving to stay next year.

 Q:  Daniel from NYC asks:
Hey guys, love the list, if its assumed he can stay at catcher how high can J Montero be on this list next year? and Brackman at 92 while the 17 year old at 54? What's the separating factor on that one?
 A: 

John Manuel: If Montero's a catcher, he's a top 5 or top 10 guy, for me. Brackman has had Tommy John surgery and being 6 years older than Inoa (who apparently is now spelling his name Ynoa), that's why he's lower than Ynoa. Brackman has thrown a pro pitch, though it was in Hawaii, not in the D.R. in instructional league. Brackman's stuff was quite impressive in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Both guys are worth taking a chance on because the upside is so tremendous.

 Q:  Kyle from GA asks:
Why is there such a gap between Morrison and Freeman? Freeman was as good or even better than Morrison was in low-A in 2007. And Freeman was younger last year than Morrison was in 07.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Morrison made a huge leap this year, winning the MVP award in the Florida State League and tearing up the Arizona Fall League. I like Freeman a lot, but he can't match Morrison's accomplishments. Scouts raved about Morrison in the AFL, and while they like Freeman, they haven't raved about him yet.

 Q:  Jim from Philly asks:
Did Michael Taylor get any consideration?
 A: 

John Manuel: Sure, he did. I ranked our Phillies prospects and said in that chat that I thought the top 7 Phils were pretty close to each other, and that I could see all seven in the top 100. I put all seven in mine, but apparently didn't do a good enough job convincing my fellow BA staffers, because just four got in — I couldn't even get Kyle Drabek in! I am not a good enough advocate I suppose. I believe in Taylor, but I do understand why there is some skepticism, because 2008 was the first time (counting high school) where he really put it all together from start to finish offensively.

 Q:  William from Orange Beach, AL asks:
Is this the make it or break it year for Reid Brignac?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Not at all. He had a respectable year in Triple-A at age 22, and it's not like the Rays have to rush him. I still don't see how he'll get much of an opportunity in Tampa Bay between Jason Bartlett and Tim Beckham, but Brignac is still very much a prospect. He hasn't hit as well as he did in the Cal League, but a lot of guys don't.

 Q:  Timmy L. from San Francisco asks:
Is it a lock to think that the Giants could have 4 prospects in the top 20 next season since Bumgarner, Posey, Villalona and Alderson will not lose their eligibility this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: Nothing's a lock of course, but you make a good point in that the Giants have their highest farm-system ranking ever this year (the way we keep 'em), and most of those guys are probably going to be eligible in 2010 as well. Of their Top 10 prospects, only one is really close to losing eligibility in 2009, and that's Sergio Romo. It's a farm system on the rise; funny how that often follows a big league team on the decline.

 Q:  Brett Corbit from Newark, DE asks:
What are your thoughts on Dayan Viciedo? I've heard so many conflicting reports about his fielding, his swing, his weight and how good he actually is.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He intrigues me but I'm not going to get overly excited after watching several Cuban defectors fail to live up to expectations in the past. His bat sounds formidable, but his weight issues do as well. He's one of the guys I'm most interested in seeing this year.

 Q:  Herschel Shmoikel Pinkus Yerucham Krustofski from Springfield asks:
How much more valuable is David Price as a lefty than he would be as a righty with comporable stuff/experience? Would he still be top-10? To whom would he compare?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I don't think Price's ranking would change, honestly. You'd still be talking about a terrific fastball/slide combination, very good command and delivery, great makeup, great track record, history (albeit short) of dominating in the major league playoffs, ready to contribute in the majors now. The next pitcher on our list is Tommy Hanson at No. 4, and I'd take a righthanded Price over Hanson.

 Q:  Joseph from Fort Worth, TX asks:
If he were still eligible, would Chris Davis have made the Top 20? Aaron Fitt said he would have ranked him either 1 or 2 for the Rangers.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Tough question, because if Davis still qualified, he wouldn't have had the impressive major league performance that adds to his value. I like Justin Smoak more than Davis, and Smoak came in at No. 23, so I'll say no.

 Q:  Joe from Long Island asks:
Why was Inoa/Laporta ranked so low and why no love for Betances? That kid is a beast.
 A: 

John Manuel: Love that people think Ynoa is either too high or too low. He's impossible to rank, he's pretty unique. No right or wrong answers on any of these things. LaPorta is No. 27; I think that's pretty high, not low at all. He's right in the same group with a bunch of other offense-first players like Lars Anderson and Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak; you could argue him at the front of that list, and I'd listen to that argument, but he fell in just behind them. Betances is a beast who has a lot of upside and already has shown some issues as well. He's not an elite athlete; I've gotten some Daniel Cabrera comparisons on him. If he doesn't hone his command, and he turns into Daniel Cabrera, he'll still be a beast but he wouldn't be a top 100 talent. He's a wild card and came close to the top 100, but he's no slam-dunk big league star, that's for sure.

 Q:  Tom from Philadelphia asks:
If defense/ability to handle third base was not a concern, how high would Wallace have ranked?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think most people think Wallace will play an adequate third base for at least a couple of years, so his defense didn't torpedo his ranking. If he were better defensively, he'd definitely rank ahead of Mat Gamel (and did on my personal list). He might rank up with Matt LaPorta (No. 27).

 Q:  Ryan from Indianapolis asks:
I was expecting to see Rick Porcello in the top 5. Any insight as to why he didn't even break the top 20?
 A: 

John Manuel: My reasoning is the low strikeout rate and the fact he emphasizes the slider in his repertoire, over the curve. The slider is more of a groundball pitch than a strikeout pitch, and essentially it sounds like Porcello could evolve into a real good sinker-slider pitcher, not a power pitching strikeout guy. Best-case scenario there, I suppose, would be a Roy Halladay kind of guy, and if he's Halladay, then we're too low on him obviously. I got a Jon Garland comp on Porcello this year; if he's Jon Garland, then we might be high on him at 21. I bet he's better than Garland but not a multi-Cy Young type like Halladay. He's not looking like Josh Beckett, though, he doesn't have Beckett's strikeout breaking ball, and that's the comp that got him a Beckett contract. He's very good, but that's why maybe we've tempered our enthusiasm on him as compared to last year.

 Q:  Steve from Chicago asks:
Did David Huff get any consideration for the 90-100 range? Seems like he's a much safer bet to become a successful ML SP over some of the pitchers in that range. I take it his ceiling was just too much lower to justify ranking him ahead of a guy like Aumont or Jeffress?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Of the six BA staffers who put together top 150 lists as the starting point for our Top 100 list, four included Huff, but none had him in the Top 100. I think I was the high man on Huff at No. 111. I think you summed up why pretty well. Huff's ceiling pales in comparison to those of the pitchers who made it, but he can be a No. 3 starter and is a relatively safer bet to realize his potential. One thing to keep in mind is that there's not a huge difference in value between prospect No. 75 and prospect No. 125, though there will be a wide range of opinions on that value, if that makes any sense.

 Q:  Jonathan from GA asks:
Not asking why he did not make it, but do you see Kyle Drabek making a big jump this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: I do; sounds like having to rehab from Tommy John was almost the best thing to happen for him. Slowed him down, got him focused, he was able to make some adjustments in his delivery, get stronger, mature on and off the field . . . I could see him finishing the year in Philadelphia's bullpen if he stays healthy.

 Q:  Chase from Long Beach, Ca asks:
Jim, How high do you see Aaron Hicks climbing in the Twins system this year and who do you think is the better twins outfield prospect... Ben Revere or Aaron Hicks?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Twins usually play it slow with their high school players, so look for Hicks to spend most or all of the year in low Class A. Though Revere won the minor league batting title last year, I'd take Hicks and wouldn't have to deliberate too long. Hicks has comparable speed and hitting ability, and he has more power and will be a better center fielder.

 Q:  Joseph from Fort Worth, TX asks:
Who's the #1 hitter and pitcher on this list a year from now? I'm saying either Parker, Porcello, or Main for pitcher, and Heyward, Stanton, or Moustakas for position player. What do you think?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The No. 1 pitcher almost certainly will be Stephen Strasburg. My choices behind him would be Madison Bumgarner and Neftali Feliz. For No. 1 hitter, I like your names and I'd also throw Eric Hosmer, Lars Anderson and Logan Morrison into the mix.

 Q:  Ricardo from Washington D.C. asks:
I believe that Gio Gonzales pitched 3 one hitters in the minors last year. Why did you decide to have him so low on your top #100?
 A: 

John Manuel: Gio does a lot of things well. He also gives up a lot of home runs, consistently — 24 in 2006, then he cut the rate in '07 but it went up again to 21 last year, including nine in just 34 big league innings. He walks a lot of guys and can get home run prone. That's a bad combination. I just don't think of him as a future No. 2 or No. 3 starter, he's more of a 4 guy for me on a championship club. Not many No. 4 starters (we hope) making the Top 100; you have to be close to the majors to get in, and that's what he is, having already pitched there. I was actually surprised he made the 100.

 Q:  Clint from Omaha, NE asks:
Jim, Hosmer ranked at 24 was obviously due to the other guys on staff due to your unconditional love of the future Royal Stud. Where did you have him ranked in your personal Top 100? Also Duffy, Melville, etc. where do those guys fall?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I had Hosmer No. 12 on my personal list (the Top 50 of which is in the Prospect Handbook—buy one today!). My other Royals on my Top 150: Mike Moustakas (No. 18), Daniel Cortes (No. 97), Mike Montgomery (No. 100), Melville (No. 101), Duffy (No. 114).

 Q:  Dave H from Savannah asks:
Did young Rays arms Matt Moore and Nick Barnese get close? I was hoping to see at least one of them in the 90s...
 A: 

Jim Callis: They both have very promising arms and drew some mild support, but neither has pitched in full-season ball yet, so we held off for now. Won't surprise me at all if they're both on next year's list.

 Q:  Chris from Marion, NC asks:
OK guys, tough one here. Let's jump in the way-back machine and imagine Teixeira-to-Atlanta NEVER HAPPENED. Could that conceivably in your mind led to the deepest system in memory? The Braves currently have 5 of the current Top 100 players (not including Cole Rohrbaugh or Julio Teheran). Add Feliz (#10) and Andrus (#37) to that list, and you'd have 5 of the Top 42. just imagining a potential 2010 or 2011 roster of McCann, Salty (1B), Johnson, Andrus, Chipper, Heyward, Schafer, Hernandez makes my head hurt. Escobar, Francoeur, Flowers, Reyes, Morton, plus others from the likes of Prado, Josh Anderson, Jeff Locke, Kris Medlen, James Parr, etc. COULD HAVE been traded in potential Peavy and Greinke deals, giving you a rotation of Peavy, Lowe, Greinke, Jurrjens, Hanson (with Hudson working his way back). Nice to daydream!!!
 A: 

John Manuel: Chris, I'm not even a Braves fan, but I have to admit I've had that daydream out loud a few times, with expletives thrown in. That would be like the best farm system ever or something. I won't get into the trades, but I would guess that if you're a string theory guy—and I'm not saying I am or I am not—but if you are, there's some parallel universe where that trade didn't happen, and in that universe, Roy Clark has made Braves fans very happy. Most of those guys are draft guys; the Braves have brought in an amazing amount of talent. They just haven't kept it all.

 Q:  Sean McAndrews from London England asks:
What concern do you have regarding Jordan Schafer's HGH suspension? Did you knock him down a few positions on concerns that his prior tools/performance may have been PED inflated?
 A: 

Jim Callis: To be honest, not a lot. He obviously didn't fail a test for HGH and his suspension has been shrouded in secrecy, so we don't know exactly what he did. Also, there's not a lot of evidence that HGH actually helps a player's performance. He's a premium center fielder who can hit for average and gap power, and his performance once he got his feet back under him last year was fine. So the suspension didn't affect my ranking of him. Let's ask John what he thinks . . .

John Manuel: Hard to say because we don't know that he used. He was suspended for involvement with HGH, but he insists he didn't use performance enhancers. So to me, I just took how he performed last year, the reports that the tools are the tools, his track record going back to his prep days, and consider him a solid to good prospect.

 Q:  Adam from Minnesota asks:
What was the reasoning of ranking Tim Beckham ahead of Aaron Hicks? Both played in Rookie Ball Leagues and Hicks performed much better in pretty much every category across the board. Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis: Here's our obligatory "it's not all about stats" answer. Also keep in mind that The Appy League is much tougher than the Gulf Coast League, so you have to take that into account. Beckham and Hicks have comparable (not identical, but comparable) packages of tools, and Beckham's a shortstop, so that makes him more valuable.

 Q:  Sean McAndrews from London England asks:
Have there ever been more catchers on any top 100 list? This list seems full of guys that can field their position and hit. How many of them have any impact in the majours in 2009?
 A: 

John Manuel: We ranked 11 catchers in the top 100; that's the most ever. I just looked that up and wish I had for the issue! That list is sick. Tomorrow, we'll unveil our rankings of prospects by position, and I'll tease it by saying we ranked 25 catchers, so 14 more guys than were on the Top 100, plus we rank the positions against each other, we go 35 deep in RHPs . . . it was a fun project to work on and it should complement the Top 100 well. Ben Badler & Matt Eddy will be here to chat about it tomorrow.

 Q:  Trevor from Boston asks:
What position do you see Travis Snider playing for the majority of his career? Does he have the arm for RF? The mobility to stick in the outfield? Is he one of the safest bets to hit his power potential on the list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Left or right field. Snider doesn't have the prettiest body, but he's not a slug either. He has the arm to play right, though he likely will slide over to left in an outfield with Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios. He is also one of the safest power bets on the list because he's performed all the way up through the minors. He just turned 21 this month.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
There are some O's fans who think it was a mistake to select Matusz over Smoak in last year's draft. Given the fact that BA has Smoak ranked higher than Matusz, do you agree as well? If the 2008 draft was redone, would the Orioles still select Matusz?
 A: 

Jim Callis: We have Smoak at No. 23 and Matusz at No. 25, so we're saying that they have essentially the same value. And given that it's much easier to find a first baseman than a quality lefthander, I would have taken Matusz as well. And the Orioles would do the same thing if the draft were restaged today.

 Q:  Phil from Grand Rapids asks:
What is it about Pedro Alvarez that makes him a better prospect than Justin Smoak? Alvarez has better raw power, but most agree Smoak has a better approach to hitting, better plate discipline, and won't struggle against tough lefties like Alvarez will. Also, Alvarez isn't exactly a plus defender at 3B, and may have to move to 1B.
 A: 

John Manuel: Phil, I don't think the consensus view agrees with you. Alvarez has tremendous plate discipline (57 BB as a freshman, for example), like Smoak; I'd say their approaches are about equal. Some scouts believe the switch-hitter has the tougher adjustment to make to pro ball because they never get pitched inside in college, while Alvarez has seen same-side pitchers try to work him in and has shown some ability to make adjustments (obviously he'll have to show he can do that against pro pitchers). It's not a slam dunk that Alvarez will be better than Smoak, but I do believe it is the consensus in the industry, and for me, that's what I was trying to reflect.

 Q:  Dave H from Savannah asks:
If Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, and Clayton Kershaw were still eligible, do they take 1-2-3 ahead of Price/Wieters?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Wieters still would be No. 1. And I would take Price ahead of those three as well.

 Q:  Mike from Dallas asks:
Assuming Wieters and Teagarden play enough in the majors this season. Who do you think will be the number 1 catching prospect in 2010?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Buster Posey.

 Q:  Paul from Seattle asks:
Where is elvis andrus power at this point in career compared to young short stops such as jose reyes and hanley ramirez when they were 20?
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, Andrus and Ramirez really aren't comparable except they are Latin American shortstops. Ramirez has an elite bat that was evident early on in his career, but he's never been projected as the type of defender Andrus can be. Reyes is just a more explosive offensive player as well who hit for a lot more power in the minors; those guys slugged in the .430 range in the minors, Andrus is around .360. Elvis also doesn't rank as high as those guys did; Ramirez was No. 10 in 2005, No. 30 in 2006 when there were some negative reports on his makeup. Reyes was No. 34 in 2002, and then No. 3 the next year. I doubt Elvis ever ranks in the Top 10, seeing as how he's slated to be Texas' starter this year. He's just a very different type of player.

Moderator: Jim has to run, but John is going to take some more questions. So ask away . . .

 Q:  Matt from South Florida asks:
What three players lower on the list(past 50) would you see as sleepers that could jump into the top 20? Dominguez, Viciedo, Jennings?
 A: 

John Manuel: Jennings is a great pick because his fall was mostly due to health. If he's healthy and shows the same tools, combined with plate discipline, that he showed pre-injury, he'll rocket back up the list.

 Q:  Phil from Grand Rapids asks:
If you had to pick one first baseman to build your offense around would it be Smoak, Hosmer, or Anderson?
 A: 

John Manuel: We have a lot of great questions to get to, so I'll do my best and go lightning round, but a man (especially of my proportions) cannot subsist on one little bag of Famous Amos cookies alone, so I need to run soon.

John Manuel: Gut feel says Hosmer has the highest upside of that group.

 Q:  Shoshana from Class asks:
It was great to see three O's prospects in the top 25, but I was surprised that Arrietta is so low? Also were Reimold or Snyder at all close to making it? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

John Manuel: Arrieta's fastball velocity and command weren't good enough for me to push him into the same realm as Tillman or Matusz; I think there's a dropoff from those guys to Arrieta. Reimold was strongly considered because of his power and hitting ability; Snyder wasn't really a factor.

 Q:  James from Charlottesville asks:
On the Braves front—how high is Tommy Hanson's ceiling? Also, what do you expect out of Cole Rohrbough this year? I know he was hurt last year, but I've heard good things.
 A: 

John Manuel: He's got No. 1 starter potential, with fastball command and velocity to go with plus secondary stuff and strong makeup. I'm a huge fan of Rohrbough's as well, love those two draft-and-follow Braves guys. A healthy Rohrbough will have an avg. to plus fastball and knockout curve, I think of him as more of a No. 2 or No. 3 starter and Hanson as a true ace thanks to the fastball.

 Q:  James from North East, MD asks:
Was any other Oriole pitcher (hint hint Brandon Erbe) given any consideration for the Top 100?
 A: 

John Manuel: Erbe also was strongly considered, just didn't make the cut, wouldn't surprise me if he wound up in the pen with the effort in his delivery.

 Q:  Philly's Phan from NJ asks:
Philly Phan who is not happy about seeing Heyward for the next 6+ years. So Heyward or Snyder, and if you could be so kind, Why?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think you mean Travis Snider, and Heyward is much more well-rounded than Snider. That said, Snider mashes. In the AL, Snider might have more value, and Heyward more in the NL, but I just think Heyward has star written all over him. He could be a franchise player in Atlanta as a local kid, also a black player in a city with a lot of black fans who seem to have tuned out baseball. I think the Braves are quite cognizant of what Heyward could mean to them as a franchise.

 Q:  Adam from NYC asks:
I was very pleased to see Nick Weglarz get some love with his mid-list #58 ranking. How does he project against the rest of the OF crop above him (Heyward, Rasmus, Snider, etc.)? Is he poised to make a jump to the top 25 next season, should he continue his development as a hitter?
 A: 

John Manuel: I was surprised Weglarz wound up that high, but he could turn into a Travis Snider type; there are a lot of similarities there, physical, strong, disciplined LH hitters, and Weglarz hasn't quite shown that power but he's shown better plate discipline and more contact ability. He could jump up into the Top 25 with more development for sure.

 Q:  Steve from Atlanta, GA asks:
Any love for Daryl Jones or Jay Jackson?
 A: 

John Manuel: There was some; we have very mixed reports on Jones. Love Jackson but hard to think a ninth-round pick from the most recent draft should be in the Top 100. He had a great debut, and we've heard stories of how he fell in the draft, how he just wasn't crosschecked well, weather interfered, one bad outing, etc. He's better than a ninth-round pick, and a great sleeper, but I don't think any of us considered him a top 100 guy.

 Q:  Brandon from Charleston, WV asks:
How come Drew Stubbs fell out of the top 100 after having his best season?
 A: 

John Manuel: Reports on his defense and tools in general actually weren't as good this year as they were before. I for one have lowered the ceiling of what it sounds like he'll be. He did have a better year in some ways but he also struck out a lot and hit fewer home rusn in '08; it seems less like that this is another Mike Cameron.

 Q:  Anthony from Joliet asks:
What separates Wilmer Flores from other candidates in his age group not represented in the top 100? What makes him so special at that early of an age?
 A: 

John Manuel: Offensive upside and polish.

 Q:  Jeremy Jeffress from Maryvale, AZ asks:
Will I be a starter or a closer?
 A: 

John Manuel: My vote's closer.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
Why the love for Vitters while ignoring Neftali Soto?
 A: 

John Manuel: Better athleticism and defense for Vitters; Soto's scouting report doesn't encourage me he'll stay at 3b — limited range, rough footwork, below-average athlete. Not encouraging.

 Q:  Terry from NY asks:
Hey guys great job on the list, just a quick question on a few suprising players you didnt think were top 100 worthy, Michael Main, Angel Salome, Julio Borbon. Do you really think Jon Niese is a better pitching prospect then Michael Main? Im seeing alot of catchers on the list and to not add possible one of the top 3 catching bats in the minors over some of them seems a lil bizarre, regardless of height. Gerardo Parra over Julio Borbon seems a little odd to me as well.
 A: 

John Manuel: Terry, defense matters so much behind the plate, and Salome rates behind a lot of those guys, if not all of them, defensively. Main vs. Niese — Niese already has pitched in the majors. Main's upside is considerable, but Niese is pretty close to already being a No. 4 starter in the majors, and some think there's more in there, while Main hasn't shown he can last a full season. Parra is a much more polished hitter than Borbon, more disciplined. That said, I'm not the biggest Parra fan personally.

 Q:  Alex from Portland, OR asks:
Since Moustakas is blocked at third by Alex Gordon, when will he arrive in the bigs, and will it be a third or first
 A: 

John Manuel: I could see Moustakas moving to RF, though his range would be short. His arm is prodigious. Many scouts have said he should be behind the plate and he looks that part for sure, but he's not moving there that we know of.

 Q:  Ray LeMond from Nyack, NY asks:
Who's going to be a better pro: Mike Stanton or Lars Anderson?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm in Stanton's corner.

 Q:  PJ from Chicago asks:
This is one of my favorite days of the year!! If Brett Lawrie stays at catcher (is at least passable), does hit bat move him up into the Top 30 or so. Its a better tool than Posey's for sure.
 A: 

John Manuel: Definitely, Jim had him in his top 50, and I could definitely see him moving up rapidly once he shows some improvement and commitment defensively. I wouldn't say "for sure" better than Posey, who slugged in the .800s last year and was the easy College Player of the Year choice. I believe Lawrie has more thunder in his hands, but Posey can really hit.

 Q:  Brian from NYC asks:
I don't get ranking Porcello 11 spots behind Cahill. Sure, Cahill has a nice sinker and has posted results a level above Porcello, but Porcello's stuff is another cut above, and he seems just as close to the big leagues as Cahill.
 A: 

John Manuel: You can make that case; I'd say 10 spots isn't that much of a difference actually, they're quite comparable. I would give Cahill points for the strikeout rate and also being more athletic and showing the ability to make adjustments.

 Q:  Kalvin from Pitt asks:
Jim had Pedro Alvarez as his possible personal #3 prospect. Do you think that the off-field drama surrounding him this summer caused him to go where he was, or is it purely on the field related?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not the drama but the conditioning questions; those soured me on him a bit.

 Q:  DFer from Chi Town asks:
Any other White Sox prospects close to making the list, and which team had the most prospects if listed by the original team signed?
 A: 

John Manuel: Brandon Allen got some votes for his power but wasn't too close. By original organization is here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2009/267705.html

 Q:  Cory from Chicago asks:
Guys, thanks as always for the chat. I'm surprised about the relative ranking of Gordon vs Tim Beckham. Can you share the rationale? Also I was equally surprised to see Gordan at 20, that is a strong endorsement.
 A: 

John Manuel: GB is so much closer to the majors than TB; also his bat is stout and I'd bet will be better than TB's long-term. TB should wind up the better defender at SS. We do endorse GB strongly, he's got a shot to stay at SS as well but may wind up at 2B.

 Q:  Larry B from Rhode Island asks:
This is the highest I have seen Jason Castro on any lists. What do you see his ceiling as?
 A: 

John Manuel: I believe I threw this out at draft time that he could be an A.J. Pierzynski without the attitude, and perhaps with a bit more power & patience.

 Q:  Ryan from California asks:
Was Peter Bourjos close to making the list?
 A: 

John Manuel: He was, fell a bit short, plate discipine and-or power has to improve. Love the defense in CF, baseball bloodlines, Greek bloodlines (but that's just me), he's an exciting player to watch but fell a bit short.

 Q:  Nick from Philly asks:
Jason Donald? Is he for real? What chances do you give him being an everyday player versus an utility player?
 A: 

John Manuel: The bat's for real; his defense at SS is not, but I think of him as a better version of David Bell, a 2b-3b who can hit and defend either position well. He's not a classic profile 3b but there aren't a ton of those out there. I think he'll be a solid regular.

 Q:  Devin from San Antonio asks:
Outside of Price, which pitcher has the biggest 2009 impact?
 A: 

John Manuel: Hanson; Chris Perez if he wins the Cardinals' closer job; also watch for Jordan Zimmermann, wouldn't be shocked if the Nationals rushed him up.

 Q:  Nick from Milwaukee asks:
How close was the debate between Hanson, Bumgarner, Feliz, Anderson, Cahill? Was there a lot of differing opinions, or was the order (not necesarily the ranking) somewhat consistent?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'd say people had all five of those guys in different orders, but generally Cahill was at the back. They're all 4-11, it's really splitting hairs. We all look at different things when we rank players; not everyone is as hung up on long-tossing and fastball command like I am. Those guys are all very close together in my mind, in BA's collective mind and on the top 100.

 Q:  Ron from Westford, MA asks:
Did Ryan Perry or Josh Fields get any consideration? Are they in the next 10 or so names (100-110)
 A: 

John Manuel: Not from me, maybe 150-200 guys. Those were both one-inning guys in college; I'm not a fan of that profile. Fields has a better breaking ball but I have concerns about the durability, and neither one throws enough strikes for my taste.

 Q:  Rob Gee from Georgia asks:
How does a relief pitcher like Bard make the list whereas Melancon doesn't? Since they're the same age, and if both have upside as closers, doesn't K:BB trump raw K numbers, especially since Bard racked up a ton of K's against the Sally League?
 A: 

John Manuel: Bard has better stuff and performed better; Bard had great strikeout numbers and gets a ton of groundballs. He also has a smoother delivery and better health history. You can blame me because even though I think highly of Melancon, I ranked Bard higher than anybody else, his stuff is at another level than any other reliever on the list; he's sitting 97-99 mph at times with tremendous life down in the zone.

 Q:  Mateo from Providence asks:
Is there any specific reason Jeremy Hellickson isn't on the list? I've heard great things about him and it was even said that he'd be a #1 prospect for some teams.
 A: 

John Manuel: He's more of a mid-rotation guy, maybe a No. 4 stater, who has trouble keeping the ball down, gives up a lot of home runs. the stuff is good not great. The HR rate really concerned me; he ranked behind Matt Moore and Nick Barnese in our own Rays rankings, No. 8 Ray, not a guy I gave a ton of thought to for the top 100.

Moderator: Wow, lots of great questions. Hope we got to yours. We appreciate the interest. Check back tomorrow for the position rankings and chat.