College Summer Leagues Chat With John Manuel

 Q:  Tim from Portland, OR asks:
your take on Desmond Jennings and Jordan Schafer? I was surprised to
see them left off the CF top ten in the last Prospect Pulse. Jennings
in particular seems like he has a very high ceiling and his production
has already surpassed Dexter Fowler and Brian Barton. Am I missing

John Manuel: OK, let’s dive in, these questions are all over the place, which should make this a fun chat.

John Manuel:
I like both those prospects; I also like Fowler and Barton, especially
Fowler. I’m also the unofficial captain of the Brian Barton fan club,
so maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask, but he’s done it in Double-A.
Desmond Jennings has very exciting tools and had a really good year but
I can see why he’s behind those two. Schafer might be the most
intriguing one of all; it’s hard to hit for that kind of power at
Myrtle Beach, and when he makes contact, he hits it hard. He’s my kind
of prospect. For me, slugging percentage is so key for players at lower
levels–if you aren’t hitting the ball on the screws in A-ball, you
probably won’t as you go higher and face better pitching. Schafer does;
I’d be shocked if he’s lower than 5 in the Braves’ Top 30 this

 Q:  Bebeto from (NY, NY, 10031) asks:
about two good prospects getting caught and Suspended for using
steroids? Could that lead to more testing and investigation prior to
the draft?

John Manuel:
Bebeto, this is incorrect; if you’re referring to Matt West and Jeremy
Jeffress, then you’re 1-for-2. Jeffress was suspended for recreational
drugs, not performance-enhancers. I guess there’s a big difference for
me. If Jeffress was busted for smoking pot, for example, I’d question
his decision-making, because all the players are counseled and informed
on the rules and penalties, and it certainly throws a cloud over his
makeup. But he’s 19, he can grow up and improve on that.

 Q:  t.j. from Naperville, IL asks:
Vitters has really struggled since turning pro, have you heard anything
from scouts saying that is wrong mechanically or is it just him getting
use to better competiton?

John Manuel:
Actually, this was presaged in my draft writeup of Vitters: Vitters’
his hand-eye coordination and ability to make contact are almost too
good, because at times he swings at pitches he should let pass, rather
than waiting for one he can punish with his all-fields power.

John Manuel:
Now this didn’t come from my observation; I’ve seen Vitters hit, but it
was last summer in Cape Cod and I saw no flaws, he was ridiculously
good. But the scouts I talked to about Josh said he might initially
struggle in pro ball as he sees the kind of velocity and breaking balls
consistently that you don’t see in high school, because he so trusts
his hands. He’ll be fine; I have no concerns about his bat, because all
the scouts I talked to about him believe he will hit.

 Q:  Norberto Paulino from N.Y asks:
Edwardo Salcedo any updates? with who will he sign? and for How much?
also have the Red Sox been involve in the negotiation with him? any

John Manuel:
Sr. Paulino, all the updates so far on Salcedo have come in the form of
leaks, presumably from the Boras Corporation, linking this team or that
team and unrealistic signing bonus numbers. Our information on him
remains that (a) he’s an elite talent, better defender than Carlos
Triunfel (last year’s top SS) but perhaps not the precocious offensive
talent that Triunfel has proved to be, and (b) he’ll get closer to
Triunfel money ($1.9 million) than the $4.5 million floated the last
week or so. Not sure about the Red Sox involvement, but it sounds like
every team should be involved, because he’s a pure shortstop, and every
organization could probably use one of those.

 Q:  Ben from Bethesda asks:
do you think of the Nationals farm system this year? It seems they’ve
done really well and had two really good drafts under Dana Brown since
the new ownership took over. Your thoughts? Thanks.

John Manuel:
It’s improved, no doubt. Several good drafts–you aren’t going to give
Dana credit for Chad Cordero (’03) or Ryan Zimmermann (’05)? But deeper
drafts the last two years. One caveat with the Nats is their upper
levels are really, really thin, outside of Collin Balester and fringier
guys such as Kory Casto and Josh Whitesell. By fringy, I mean guys who
profile as starters on non-contenders, or reserves on championship
teams. That’s not a sign of a great farm system; it’s a sign of a
system that is still rebounding from years of neglect due to MLB

 Q:  Ryan from Peoria, AZ asks:
you compare Sean Ratliff to Matt Spencer of last years ASU team? Big
physical outfielders who have pitching ability, and swing and throw
from the left side

John Manuel:
Most interesting question I’ve gotten in a while . . . summer college
Q, I love it. I like your comp, Ryan, but it sounds like Spencer always
has had more of a feel for hitting than Ratliff, who has put up some
truly huge strikeout numbers. Ratliff also sounds a bit more athletic,
but that comp isn’t a stretch, this coming from someone who hasn’t seen
Ratliff with my own eyes.

 Q:  Luke from FL asks:
What’s your take on Brandon Jones and his future with the Braves?

John Manuel:
Got a chance to see him last week for the first time and was really
impressed with his bat. Atlanta doesn’t have a prototypical LF
situation and Jones certainly could earn that job with a strong spring
next year. I’m impressed with his improved power production this year
and see him winning that job next year.

 Q:  Mike from Chicago., IL asks:
Would you put Shooter Hunt in the top 5 of starting pitchers in college?

John Manuel:
No, Mike, I wouldn’t because Shooter hasn’t quite put it all together.
He cetainly has the arm to be in that mix . . . For me, that list is
Brian Matusz (San Diego), Aaron Crow (Missouri), Tyson Ross
(California) and–against my better judgment–Jacob Thompson (Virginia)
and Lance Lynn (Mississippi). I’m really not too high on the three
pitchers who bailed on Team USA at the end of the summer. I know Team
USA’s summer schedule was tough, but guys, you knew what you got into.
For me, you finish what you start (of course within reason) . . . it
sounds like all three of those guys could have gone to the Netherlands
with Team USA. They just didn’t want to, and that’s weak. Major props
to Tyson Ross for following all the way through.

 Q:  Andy from Nashville, TN asks:
Can Brett Jacobson be the dominant pitcher he projects to be this coming season as the veteran leader of Vandy?

John Manuel:
I know Aaron Fitt thinks he can; I also know Derek Johnson at Vandy
thinks he can. Sounds like consistency is the biggest issue for
Jacobson. One other thing is, he probably has to really have a big fall
to earn that No. 1 spot after the spring (and summer) that Mike Minor
had, the sophomore lefty was outstanding for Team USA this summer, so
Jacobson might have to settle for being one of the nation’s top No. 2

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Jay Bruce & Johnny Cueto callups – yea or nay?

John Manuel:
Cueto is at 154 innings after throwing 138 or so last year; I would
just leave him be and not start his clock, unless I really thought he
could help me make the playoffs (hey, the Reds are only seven out,
that’s two games further back than the Yankees). Bruce is kind of the
same for me–it’s a long year, and the Reds really don’t need another
lefthanded-hitting OF, and if they do, they could call up Joey Votto.
So I’d say a qualified nay on both.

 Q:  Mark from Tempe, AZ asks:
heard good things about Matt Hall’s playability at SS this summer in
the Cape. If he shows some pop next spring can he put himself in the
elite group of Shortstops? (Beckham, espinosa, havens, crawford)

John Manuel:
Well, Crawford and Espinosa had bad summers, and Havens is not a
shortstop defensively at the next level, and Beckham might not be
either. I’d take USC’s Grant Green over all of ’em but he’s an ’09
draft. Hall had a nice summer but he hasn’t played a full season of SS
in college yet, and he hasn’t really had a big offensive year yet (this
spring at Arizona State is OK but consider it’s AZ State, he was
below-average in that context). He’s transferring to Auburn and will
probably put up better power numbers in the SEC, in smaller parks, as
long as he can hit breaking balls. He was an eighth-round pick out of
HS, so scouts know him, know his story and will be watching closely.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Was Justin Upton brought up too soon, in your opinion?

John Manuel:
Well, yeah but it’s nothing he couldn’t handle. It would be nice for
him to have finished the year in the minors and get a little more
seasoning, which I think he could have used–he seemed to improve every
week in the minors this year. But his bat was ready enough that he
could go and make some impact in a pennant race. That’s impressive.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Do you see the Rays calling up Longoria, or will he be put on the back burner until next year?

John Manuel:
Not yet, not with Triple-A Durham headed for the IL playoffs, not with
his contract (he’s not on the 40-man yet), and not with the Rays still
looking at guys like Iwamura and Josh Wilson and Brendan Harris and
evaluating them at the MLB level. It is good to see the Rays making
some progress again after that brutal, brutal summer, and it’s good
locally to have Longoria here in Durham. He plays with so much more
energy than Joel Guzman . . . yes, that’s setting the bar low.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
How much has Tabata’s stock fallen because of his surgery? Will he ever hit for power again?

John Manuel:
It really shouldn’t fall that much, if the hand problem gets taken care
of. This dragged on all year, he had problems in winter ball that Chris
Kline kept hearing about, and no one would confirm the rumors. But
Tabata also slugged .392 in the FSL this year, hit over .300, and his
power was affected but not profoundly so. As long as he comes back
healthy, he should be able to regain his momentum. Wrist injuries can
be rough (ask Derek Lee), but Tabata is young enough to come back fully
from it.

 Q:  Ben from Dallas, TX asks:
AJ Griffin move into the starting rotation behind Matusz and Romanski?
I understand they have plenty of talented Frosh arms entering.

John Manuel:
He could but he will have competition. Matt Couch is back as a senior;
Ricardo Pecina, a lefty with a good cutter, is back as a junior; and
there are the newcomers, headed by freshmen Kyle Blair and Sammy Solis
and sophomore transfer Matt Thomson (whose name I have wrongly listed
as “Thompson” in the past). So Griffin could remain the closer, or he
could compete for one of five rotations spots (remember with the new
compacted 13-week schedule, most weeks college teams will be playing
four or five games and will need 5 starters, maybe one as a swing guy).
Nice problem to have for coach Rich Hill & Co. Now they have to,
say, win a regional game. San Diego is a really, really good program
right now, but their postseason track record right now is pretty short.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
If LaPorta dazzles in the AFL, will Milwaukee consider promoting him before next season?

John Manuel:
They’ll play him where they think he can handle, and he’s supposed to
be helping the West Va. Power for its playoff push right now. I don’t
see him plaing higher than the SAL this year, but then he heads to the
AFL and who knows for next year. The Brewers have a ton of outfielders,
but LaPorta’s bat could be the best of ’em all.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Do the amazing trio of Davis, McGee and Mason have any shot at the Trop this season?

John Manuel:
That is quite a trio, but no, I don’t think they do. Kazmir &
Shields are two reasons, but Edwin Jackson has pitched well of late,
too, and Jason Hammel and Andy Sonnanstine are still being evaluated.
They also have Mitch Talbot and J.P. Howell and Jeff Niemann at
Triple-A to evaluate, so while McGee and Davis are the Rays’ best
pitching prospects (well, behind David Price), I don’t think they’ll go
to Tampa this year.

 Q:  Slightly Below Normal from FL asks:
Buchholz – best minor league pitcher at present?

John Manuel:
It sounds like Buchholz is tired, so right now, this second, probably
not. Best pitching prospect in the minors–combining highest upside,
best present ability, likelihood to reach ceiling, etc.? Yeah, I could
go with that. Wade Davis and Jacob McGee from the previous question are
certainly in that mix too.

 Q:  Claude from Montreal, Quebec, Canada asks:
Pedro Alvarez still the favorite to go # 1 in next year’s draft? If the
Devil Rays get the first pick and choose Alvarez, could he move to
another position since they already have Evan Longoria at third?

John Manuel:
This is intriguing to me, because Alvarez is the favorite, and for me
it’s not 1 and 1-A (Justin Smoak) — it’s 1 and 2. Smoak had a bad
summer, period–he hit three homers in his first week with Team USA,
against New England Collegiate League teams, and then didn’t homer
again and finished the summer hitting .223. Alvarez is the better
hitter, the more productive hitter, the hitter with more upside, IMO.
Longoria played some SS in college and I bet he could handle 2B, so
maybe that’s how the Rays could go. Alvarez also could slide to 1B;
nice problem to have. One more thing–the White Sox are just three
games in front of the Rays (77 losses to 80). Don’t put it past the
Good Guys (or the Nats with 76 losses, or the free-falling Marlins,
also 76 losses) to pass the Rays for the No. 1 spot. And Jim Callis had
one scouting director posit that Aaron Crow could go 1-1 as well. So
it’s so up in the air right now.

 Q:  Blake from Madison, WI asks:
thanks for doing the chat. A year ago the Mountain West Collegiate
League had its top five prospects that were included in this feature.
Why were they not included in this feature and who are some top
prospects in this league to look out for?

John Manuel:
You’re welcome . . . the MCBL responded to our inquiries by saying
there really weren’t any pro prospects in the league this year. We
respect them for their candor.

 Q:  Cole from Danville, CA asks:
Who does Kyle Bellows compare to?

John Manuel:
This question just made me laugh . . . I had to ask who Bellows was
before Ben Badler (our newest staffer, by the way) and Aaron Fitt fell
over themselves to inform me about Kyle Bellows. (OK, I embellished
that a bit.) He’s the No. 2 prospect in the NECBL and is a physical
power hitter who probably will move to a corner spot down the line. We
all like Kyle Bellows as a prospect; in fact, Aaron really likes him.
Download today’s podcast to hear Aaron and me wax for almost 40 minutes
on our summer league top 10s. It’s quite the podcast. Maybe we should
do a special George Horton podcast–where are all the George Horton
questions? Where are the Titans fans?

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Timetable for Moustakas? Will he be seeing the show as fast as Gordon did if his numbers warrant it?

John Manuel:
Ben, Gordon was our College POY, that’s why he moved so quick. Big
difference between HS and college POY in terms of timetable, and
Moustakas might have to learn a new position along the way, too. He’s
going to need more time.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
me if I have these Rays’ pitchers ranked correctly or not – 1) Price,
2) McGee, 3) Davis, 4) Hellickson, 5) Mason, 6) Niemann, 7) Rollins.
(All that talent, small TB roster. It’s a crying shame.)

John Manuel:
Man, that’s really, really tough. I think Niemann still would rank
ahead of Mason for me. I almost wonder if I like Mitch Talbot better;
when he’s on, he’s good, but when he’s not, he’s hittable. I’d say you
have ’em lined up correctly otherwise, though you also could slide Will
Kline in there, he’s quite similar to Rollins, probably better raw
stuff, but Rollins’ season has earned my respect.

 Q:  Josh from Warrenton MO asks:
At a glance, the Astros farm looks horrific. After Patton, who would be the next few top prospects they have? Towles?
Brad James, Flores? Seems very thin especially considering the so called draft that Houston had this year.

John Manuel:
It looks that way at second or third glance too, Josh. you named the
guys; Mitch Einertson had a bounce-back year, and the Astros also
graduated some impressive players this year with Hunter Pence and Matt
Albers, who threw well last night. But it’s a thin system–Felipe
Paulino, Bud Norris, just a few more power arms, but not a lot of
hitters there. Might be No. 30 on the org chart.

 Q:  Sean from Spencerport, NY asks:
there any reason for Jeff Samardzija suddenly allowing so many Home Run
in Double-A? His Homer total in Daytona was one of the few aspects of
his game which was actually positive. Now while the rest of his game
has improved he’s suddenly averaging a Homer allowed per game.

John Manuel:
I don’t really see how Samardzija can be fairly judged on the numbers
this year. What’s his comp? When’s the last time we had a 6-foot-5 wide
receiver-slash-pitcher? He’s already thrown 40 more innings than he did
in any season at Notre Dame; you think maybe fatigue has something to
do with it? He reached Double-A and has pitched fairly well there in
his first season, he’s taken every turn, he’s stayed healthy. For me,
that’s a successful first year. It certainly would encourage me more if
he had a better year statistically, but starting off in high Class A
and finishing in Double-A is challenging for any starter right out of
college. I just heaped praise on Heath Rollins for his year and he did
that in low Class A, and he was a college pitcher last year. What could
Samardzija do in the Sally League? Probably not as well as Rollins,
because he’s not a polished strike thrower, but what point would there
be to Samardzija putting up good low Class A numbers? None, really. The
Cubs gave him money to get big league hitters out, not minor league
hitters. Keeping him healthy and getting him the experience they did
this season is a good way toward getting him to that goal.

John Manuel:
All that said . . . I’m not a fan of the Cubs’ development system. The
track record under Oneri Fleita for keeping pitchers healthy and
developing them is just fair. The higher profile the pitcher, the
greater their chance of failing for the Cubs, wheres lower-profile guys
like Rich Hill and Sean Marshall and the like have worked out.

 Q:  Phillip from Overland Park, KS asks:
Chris Young (D-Backs) make it to the 30-30 level this year? Do you
think he’ll do this consistently for the next several years?

John Manuel:
Wonder if he’ll get 8 more SBs, but it’s a heck of a rookie year
anyway. I actually see him getting better, hitting for more average,
controlling the K-zone more (he did that as he moved up in the minors),
but the SBs probably will not rise, this might be his peak as he gets
older, bigger, stronger, etc.

 Q:  Billy Blanks from new jersey asks:
how would you rank the summer leauges? are there any leagues on the rise and what are the leagues that are falling down

John Manuel:
We ranked the leagues last year, much to the chagrin of the leagues. I
think it’s fairly obvious when you read the top 10s which leagues have
better talent and which do not, and all these leagues go in cycles. For
the most part, they are regional and their talent depends on the talent
of the schools in their region. Last year, Alaska was great with two
first-round picks (though overall the league was just OK). This year
Alaska seemed to have been down, with the NECBL and Coastal Plain
League having up years after down years last y ear. I’d say the Valley
was down this year, very up last year. The CICL was very good last
year, just OK this year; same for the Jayhawk. The Cape remains No. 1
in talent, it’s not close, but the Northwoods League is probably No. 2
in talent more often than it is not, the Alaska League is right there
but the Northwoods keeps getting better in terms of talent.

 Q:  Phillip from Overland Park, KS asks:
an unreal 2006, Reid Brignac had what many would consider a mediocre
year in 2007, do you see a turnaround eminent in 2008 or more of the

John Manuel:
Alan Matthews will handle our Southern League Top 20, but I know the
early returns he’s gotten on Brignac are somewhat mixed. His momentum
has certainly slowed; it’s a mediocre year, like you said, and he
probably will repeat that league next year. I’m not jumping off the
bandwagon but I’d say this year has tempered my enthusiasm for Brignac
a tad.

 Q:  Chris from San Lorenzo, CA asks:
for the Chat!!! What are your thoughts on Richie Robnett of the A’s? He
has produced big power numbers this year, but he also has a track
record of striking out a lot, which he has maintained this year. He
recently was promoted to Triple A, but is 1-17 w 9 K’s. He is 23 yrs.
old, and still is touted as a five-tool player. What do you think of
the A’s former 1st rd. pick, Robnett?

John Manuel:
I’m just not a Robnett fan because while he has tools, he seems to lack
a feel for the game. He strikes out a lot, and it seems like he’s not
going to hit for average, so that’s one tool down right there–the most
important tool. And he doesn’t walk a lot. So his on-base always is
going to be modest, and if he’s not making contact, the power doesn’t
come into play. Sounds like a reserve or second-division player to me,
not a starter on a good team.

 Q:  Picklefork from St.Louis, MO asks:
Kyle Russell make a horrible choice to had back to school? He showed in
06 at the Cape and this Summer out in Cali that he just isnt very good
with the Wood. Is he ever going to get the 1M+ that he is asking for?

John Manuel:
How horrible is it to go to Texas and be the star of the baseball team?
I can think of worse fates. He’ll still get paid next year, though
probably not seven figures. He has certainly struggled with wood, but
if he learns and starts making adjustments to his swing, it could turn
out to be a good decision.

 Q:  Donald from St. Louis, MI asks:
Daric Barton lost his top prospect status? This year he is hitting
.2919HR67RBI, and it just seems as if he might not have a position in
the Majors. He currently is a first baseman, but may be best suited as
a DH. Plus, he hasn’t exactly developed the power needed for a 1B.

John Manuel:
Just not a fan of the profile of the stubborn hitter who doesn’t get
better, doesn’t adjust. Barton’s year really is pretty bad considering
it’s the PCL and he did all his damage in one month, hitting .454 in
June and below .275 every other month. Maybe I just have Daric Barton
fatigue . . . he’s just not an elite prospect for me.

 Q:  Jack Watson from South Carolina asks:
Who do you think are some of the top draft prospects in the SEC for the 2008 year?

John Manuel:
Pedro Alvarez and Justin Smoak still head the list; Cody Satterwhite
and Lance Lynn (Mississippi) probably head up the pitchers, off the top
of my head, with Georgia senior closer Josh Fields a factor, as is
Vandy’s Brett Jacobson; Kentucky’s Scott Green; South Carolina’s Reese
Havens and Auburn’s Evan Crawford. Ryan Flaherty (Vandy), Logan
Forsythe (Arksansas) and Gordon Beckham (Georgia) are also in that mix.

 Q:  Thomas from San Diego, CA asks:
thanks for the chat John! Do you have any info. on Trevor Cahill of the
A’s? Cahill has just been dominant as of late, and I would like to know
what his stuff is like. He is only 19 yrs. old in low A ball, seems
like the A’s finally got the high school pitcher they were looking for.

John Manuel:
Sounds like Cahill has really learned to throw his curveball for
strikes when he needs to and to bury it, and his fastball command has
improved. He’s learned a two-seamer this year and it’s come together
for him. This is his first year as a full-time pitcher, so he’s had a
lot of learning to do. He’s a bright kid obviously (Dartmouth
commitment), but aptitude and book learnin’ are two different things.
Sounds like he’s got both–pretty good combo. Athletic, two potential
plus pitches, maybe he’s the A’s top prospect . . .

 Q:  Brad from Stockton, CA asks:
just recently was at a Stockton Ports game, and I couldn’t help but
notice Andrew Bailey, the guy who was pitching for the Ports. I think
his line was like 7IP4H1R1K. So I then looked at his numbers for the
year, and he has some wicked strikeout numbers, like a 10K9IP ratio.
What do you know about Andrew Bailey, and what does he throw that makes
hitters swing-and-miss so much?

John Manuel:
Well, here’s another A’s prospect. Bailey was No. 28 I believe in our
A’s Top 30, one I wish I could re-do but it is what it is. Bailey is 23
years old already but has a big body, good arm, low 90s and pitches
aggressively. He pitched off the fastball going off the last report I
had. If his secondary stuff is consistent, he could really move quickly
next year.

 Q:  Ashli from California asks:
are the Cubs sending two gooddecent prospects to the O’s for Steve
Traschel? There’s nothing in this move that even remotely makes sense,
unless we’re getting someone else as well.

John Manuel:
Trachsel’s last few starts actually have been OK; lots of walks but a
2.37 ERA over 38 August innings. I’m not on him, but neither player the
Cubs gave up is a difference-maker.

 Q:  Dan Jensen from Claremore, OK asks:
Beamer Weems has had two very good years at Baylor but doesn’t seem to
be highly rated by the pros and did not make your top 30 Cape Cod
players. What kind of summer did he have and how would you rate his
professional future?

John Manuel:
I like Beamer, and he hit for some average in the Cape, but he struck
out a ton, and that’s why he didn’t make the 30. He can pick it,
according to everyone I’ve talked to, so it will come down to the bat.
He probably should be in that SS discussion we had earlier.

 Q:  David from alabama asks:
thoughts on Blake Martin (LSU). What role do you think he will play in
LSU’s pitching staff and where do you think he will get drafted in 2008.

John Manuel:
Always liked him, part of Birmingham-Southern’s fine 2004 recruiting
class. If he’s healthy, he’ll be toward the front of the LSU rotation
and will be a single-digit pick, this is an LHP with big arm strength,
those guys don’t last long.

 Q:  Steven Alengakis from Brooklyn, New York asks:
Kennedy is going to be starting for the Yankees on Saturday. He’s
managed to reach the majors in just one minor league season — like
Joba Chamberlain. I am wondering: Is he viewed as a potential
front-line starter or a middle-of-the-rotation kind of starter by the
Yankees and scouts from other organizations? Do people see him more
like a Mike Mussine-type — or Tyler Clippard, who was very
unimpressive in his few starts in the majors? Plus, if you were
rewriting the Yankees top 10 prospects, including Hughes, Chamberlain,
Kennedy, Betances, Tabata and Austin Jackson, how would you rank them?

John Manuel:
Yiasou Stavro . . . Ike is going to be a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. The
chances he dominates in the majors like he did in the minors is small.
The chances that he keeps throwing strikes with three average
pitches–and the changeup is plus at times, as is the curve–is good.
If he has command, true command, he could thrive. But his raw stuff is
probably two grades below Joba Chamberlain, one grade below Phil Hughes
at his best, and Hughes has comparable command. So he likely will not
be as good as those two guys. Clippard is what we wrote he could be
three years ago. I think the order you just gave is about right on
Yankees prospects, with Betances perhaps still ahead of Kennedy, his
upside is tremendous and closer to that of Hughes & Chamberlain. I
still wonder if Jackson deserves to be in the conversation but he’s had
a heck of a year.

 Q:  John from Columbia, MD asks:
… you guys do a great job at BA. I’m a Yankee fan and I was
wondering, with draft picks signed, and Hughes and Chamberlain in the
majors, where does the Yankee farm system rank? Did the draft improve
their standing? Thanks and keep up the excellent work!

John Manuel:
Another Yankees question . . . not to arouse the ire of Damon
Oppenheimer, John, but I’ve written before that while the Yankees spent
a ton of money, I’m not a huge fan of their draft and don’t know that
it really affects their talent ranking. They had some hitters have nice
year, but is Austin Jackson a championship LF profile? I’m not sure.
Seth Fortenberry? Mitch Hilligoss? Collin Curtis? Maybe Frank Cervelli.
The Yankees’ hitting prospects are just Ok. The pitching this year has
lived up to expectations.

 Q:  Allen Tate from north carolina asks:
Chatham A’s were a .500 ball team thru the first half of the season.
They added pitcher Rob Wooten [North Carolina] and outfielder Jeremy
Synan [ N.C. State ] for the second half. Wooten pitched 20 innings
only 4 earned runs, 1.77era. Synan hit .388 .429 .474. Coach Schiffner
gives these two young men a lot of credit for their run to the
playoffs. Did you guys follow their progress? How does these two
project in the upcoming season and the 2008 draft?

John Manuel:
Man, I never thought I’d get this question . . . Wooten throws sliders
for strikes, over and over, and Synan is a real solid lefthanded bat.
Both those guys will be good senior signs next year but I hesitate to
say they are more than that.

 Q:  Daniel from Dallas asks:
you tell me anything about Edinson Volquez? Obviously, he has had a
huge turnaround this year. Is his stuff still electric? Does he still
project near the top of big league rotation?

John Manuel:
His stuff is still very good; command has always been an issue for him,
and frankly I’m not a believer. Pitchers near the top of a rotation
throw quality strikes consistently, and I do not have confidence that
he will do so. I do hope he does; that big league club could use some
help. It’s a pretty rough big league roster right now, hard to believe
the team OPS is below .750. Can he help that? The Rangers need a lot of

 Q:  Roger from Los Angeles asks:
Is UCLA’s Jermaine Curtis a legitimate prospect or just a very good college player?

John Manuel: Our info says more the latter.

 Q:  Adam J from Tampa, FL asks:
Chris Huseby, Donald Veal and Jeff Samardzija. Which Cub pitching prospect has the highest upside?

John Manuel: I’ll take Veal as the LHP but none is a sure thing.

 Q:  Daniel from Dallas asks:
Better big league career – Ubaldo Jimenez or Franklin Morales?

John Manuel:
Ubaldo, more sure to be a starter, and he’s shown better in the big
leagues than I expected, I saw him pitch well against the Nats recently
and was impressed by his stuff.

 Q:  Kent from Mill Creek, WA asks:
for the chat! Don’t you think Travis Snider should have been the MVP of
the Midwest League? His current stats are better than Hernandez and
he’s a 19-year old, first pro season, in a tough hitters league. How do
you think he’ll fare in the AFL?

John Manuel:
More importantly, he just had a great year in that league. Challenging
for the batting title, hitting 15 homers, RBI lead . . . greate first
full season. I’m very encouraged. I think he’ll hit no matter what
league he’s in.

 Q:  Gary Brown from Diampnd Bar, Calif asks:
Should I be upset that I turned down a deal with the Oakland Athletics to go to CS Fullerton and now the coach has left?

John Manuel:
Any Fullerton player would be disappointed because George Horton is a
wonderful coach and a good man. I’d want to play for him too. Because
he’s a good man, coach Horton is taking care of his family–the money
is just too much. Hopefully for Gary Brown and other Titans, the
program hires a good man to replace coach Horton, but replacing Augie
Garrido and then George Horton, wow, that’s a tough gig. At the same
time, it’s Fullerton–a lot of kids in Orange County grow up wanting to
be Titans.

 Q:  Derek from Norwalk, CT asks:
do you think (if any) of the Yankees TJ redshirt class of ’07 (Sanchez,
Garcia, Melancon, Cox) will rebound to make the biggest major league
impact down the line?

John Manuel:
Melancon, based on the makeup and the fact that he’s a power reliever
versus two power starters and Cox, who relied more on location and some
feel than Melancon did.

 Q:  Ryan from Honolulu asks:
Why no coverage of the Hawaii Collegiate Summer League?

John Manuel: First time I’ve heard of it, but we’re always open to more summer ball coverage–just ask the Cal. Collegiate and MINK leagues.

 Q:  Morgan from Newport Beach, CA asks:
Horton going to Oregon could we see Fullerton go after Serrano at UCI
who turned down the Oregon job? Or is that a lateral move even with
Fullerton’s history?

John Manuel:
Serrano told our Aaron Fitt he is not going to Fullerton. I disagree
that it would be a lateral move; Fullerton is Fullerton. Irvine is not
there yet in terms of tradition, in terms of kids wanting to grow up to
be Titans. I see Fullerton promoting Rick Vanderhook, recently promoted
to Associate Head coach.

 Q:  Ducks Fan from NY asks:
Realistically, how long will it take George Horton to make the Ducks a contender in the Pac-10?

John Manuel:
2010 will be the first year he has a full complement of scholarships;
should we pencil in the Ducks for a regional that year? I think so . .
. this is George Horton. For me, the short list for best coach in
America is George Horton, Jim Morris and Augie Garrido. No offense to
Pat Casey, three trips to Omaha in a row and back to back titles is
something none of those guys can say (though all three came close). But
Pat also had nine years with no regional trips before that. I bet the
other three coaches combined haven’t gone nine years without regional
trips. It’s very hard to imagine George Horton not succeeding as a
baseball coach, no matter the situation.

 Q:  Jared from St. Louis asks:
been a BA subscriber for the better part of 6 yrs. The Cards’ system
has never been good. Is it too early to be excited about the system?
Colby Rasmus, Bryan Anderson, Jaime Garcia, Mitch Boggs, Jose Martinez,
Adam Ottavino, Herron, Mortensen, Kozma, Chris Perez, etc etc. This has
to be a top 15 system right now, doesn’t it?

John Manuel:
I can get behind that; it’s a very improved system. Jeff “Harry Potter”
Luhnow has improved the system with some good drafts, conservative
though they have been. The organization has more talent under his
leadership than it did before; he deserves some credit for that.

 Q:  john from wichita asks:
State had several players with outstanding summers. After Anthony
Capra’s performance in the California League and Conor Gillaspie’s MVP
in Cape Cod, are these two players sleepers for the 2008 draft?

John Manuel: Aaron and I discuss that in our podcast, but don’t forget Rob Musgrave, No. 1 prospect in the Jayhawk League.

 Q:  Howard Lynch from Corvallis, OR asks:
What are the chances of Wade Leblanc, Josh Geer and Matt Latos ever winning 10 games for the Padres?

John Manuel:
Not bad actually; Geer has below-average stuff but big time moxie, and
LeBlanc has a plus change and plus feel. Latos has huge stuff obviously
and has the highest ceiling of the three.

 Q:  Brian from Atlanta asks:
Any word on which prospects will be participating for Team USA this fall? Thanks!

John Manuel:
That’s one to look forward to the next chat with; USA Baseball will be
taking a pro team to the ARizona Fall League and then the World Cup in
Taiwan, in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. Look for this roster to
be a starter kit for the Olympic roster, so it will skew younger–guys
more like Trevor Cahill than Homer Bailey, in other words.

John Manuel: Thanks for all the questions, all over the board, hope you enjoyed it. I did. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.