Prospects Chat With John Manuel

 Q:  mike from new jersey asks:
Give me the percent chance that you think stanford will make it out of the austin regional

John Manuel: Thanks for stopping by. We’re going lightning round all day, too much to do!

John Manuel:
I’m saying 10. The pitching depth is there; I just don’t think the
Cardinal has the bats to get out of a regional this year. Paging the
next Ryan Garko . . .

 Q:  Chris from Texas asks:
I was wondering what happened to Lamar University and are there any
guys on that team that will get drafted? Is Mike Ambort still a high
draft prospect?

John Manuel:
Lamar had a solid year, 35-23, 19-11 in the league, just didn’t win the
Southland tournament. Mike Ambort might be a high draft prospect next
year, when he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery, but it’s hard to
draft a catcher with a bad arm too high. As for the rest of the team,
righthander Steve McFarland is the best bet to go, possibly in the
first five rounds after showing low-90s gas in the Cape Cod League last

 Q:  John from Birmingham asks:
Which SEC first baseman will have the best pro career – Josh Morris (UGA), Matt LaPorta (UF), or Ryan Strieby (UK)?

John Manuel:
I’m going to go with LaPorta. I had a Matt LeCroy comp on LaPorta that
scared me a bit, but then I realized LeCroy’s had a solid career and
was the 50th overall pick in 1997. I’ve been told some like Strieby
better than LaPorta, and Morris has the most consistent track record,
but I’m going with LaPorta because he has shown the ability in the past
to hit for power to all fields, and I liked the toughness he exhibited
last summer with Team USA.

 Q:  The Animals from Section B asks:
Who goes higher in the draft Luke Tucker or Tyler Chambliss?

John Manuel:
Our Alan Matthews says Tucker. I’ve always been a Chambliss fan, but
Alan reported Florida the last two years and says Tucker has really
improved his stock.

 Q:  Tucker from Provo asks:
take on Travis Ishikawa’s brief performance in the majors? I thought
the Giants may have rushed him, until I saw him hit. Thoughts?

John Manuel:
Let’s just jump around . . . I’ve done the Giants for several years in
our Prospet Handbook and don’t think the Giants have rushed him, seeing
as how he repeated low Class A a few years ago. He just got called up
to fill a need and has filled it well. I ranked him ahead of Nate
Schierholtz and right next to Eddy Martinez-Esteve in the offseason,
and maybe he’s moved a bit ahead of EME at this point.

 Q:  Sean from Brea asks:
John, who you got winning the whole thing? If you could pick one regional to attend, which one would it be and why?

John Manuel:
For regionals, I filled out a bracket with Clemson as the champion. If
I ranked my favorites, I’d go Clemson, Rice and my upset special,
Oregon State.

 Q:  JT from Long Beach, Ca asks:
Hey John how’s it going? I wanted to your thoughts on the Golden Spikes finalist? No Lincoln, Roemer or Strieby on the list?

John Manuel:
It’s going hectic like General Electric . . . leaving Lincoln off that
list is unfortunate. For me, it’s an upperclassman award, so leaving
Roemer off . . . eh, he can win next year. Strieby for me is not one of
the top 5 players in the country.

 Q:  Andrew Thurmond from Athens, GA asks:
Does UGA have what it takes to make it to Omaha and will Brooks Brown pitch himself into the first round this weekend?

John Manuel:
Yes–UGA is a nice team, balanced, solid bats, veterans who have been
to Omaha in Side and Morris among others, solid starters, and I like
the bullpen, always been a Josh Fields fan, little guy with a quick,
electric arm.

 Q:  gary from richmond asks:
are some of the wildcard-type picks that could really jumble up the
first 15 picks of the draft? Anyone that has a chance of going as high
as 1-1 with the chance of sliding all the way to the end of the first

John Manuel:
Wild cards are the DFEs that didn’t sign in Beato, Hochevar and Morris.
Could the Royals go to Hochevar at 11? I would be shocked, but it’s a
rumor that won’t go away. But if the Royals want a pre-draft deal at
11, that doesn’t square with a Boras client. As for guys who can fall,
we still don’t know where Kyle Drabek or Tim Lincecum could fall. This
draft remains very unpredictable.

 Q:  Titan Tom from Irvine, CA asks:
Big West follower, UCI grad and CSF fan since I was a kid. CS Fullerton
middle infielders Blake Davis (Sr) and Red Turner (Sr)have gotten the
accolades due to exposure. But, in my opinion and many others, the best
middle infield in Big West this year was up at UC Santa Barbara with
Chris Valaika (Jr)and Alden Carrithers (RS So). Where will these guys
get drafted?

John Manuel:
No one I talked to Titan Tom. I love Valaika and think highly of him,
but Carrithers’ name never came up from scouts or coaches I talked to.
Meanwhile, everyone has universal respect for the talent and grit and
leadership of Turner and Davis. Carrithers looks like a nice player but
the people in the know, scouts and coaches in the area, prefer the

 Q:  jack harris from fullerton Ca asks:
do you think of the big west teams in the tournament this year?
Obviously, CSF is highly rated, but how do you like the chances that
UCI has in the Malibu regional?

John Manuel:
Fullerton is Fullerton, the best-coached team in the country, the team
that executes the best from start to finish. The Anteaters are
Fullerton Lite, nice sleeper club, played a good schedule, some
pitching depth with Cassell, Gorgen and Swanson, plus Erickson at the
back. Will they score against UCLA, Mizzou and Pepperdine in that
regional? It’s the strongest regional and I don’t think it’s beyond any
of those teams to win it.

 Q:  Nate from Harrisburg asks:
Why isn’t Matt Sulentic from the Dallas area getting more buzz. He seems like one of the best hitters in the draft.

John Manuel:
He does, but he’s also a 5-foot-10, 185-pound HS outfielder. Where does
he profile to play? We have him No. 12 in Texas, though, that’s a lot
of buzz in my book.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
Hi John, thanks for the chat. Can you give us your top two or three storylines heading into the NCAA Playoffs?

John Manuel:
You’re welcome, Bill, thanks for stopping by. My storylines: (a) is the
ACC ever going to end the drought? Clemson is the No. 1 seed and the
hottest team in the country (19 of 20) and has a deep, veteran (but not
too veteran) team. (b) Can Texas repeat despite middle-infield
questions and lackluster years by Alaniz and Kasparek? That’s a tough
regional and a potentially difficult super matchup. (c) How will the
tournament do financially without LSU in the event?

 Q:  EA from NY asks:
gave us a a teaser that BA will be coming out with some clarity on the
“issues” of Kyle Drabek. Could you at least tell us if they are
legitimately scary draft status changing issues like a Jeff Allison
situation? Is this why he is leaning towards JUCO if he doesn’t like
his draft slot?

John Manuel:
The story will be out this afternoon. I can say it’s not Allison scary,
he’s not a heroin addict. Our reporter for this story, Thayer Evans,
really did a lot of great work on this piece and it’s very thorough.
I’m going to leave the rest for the story, sorry.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
College baseball in the West… underrated and underrepresented every May and June, or just quit whining?

John Manuel:
I actually think both, Bill. There wasn’t much whining this year that I
saw though, maybe I just missed it. Only problem I saw in the West’s
treatment this year was Oregon State not being a Top 8 seed. For me,
the Pac-10 winner, if is has a really good year, should be a top 8
seed, and I think O-State qualifies.

 Q:  Bill from Atlanta asks:
through the scouting videos i was really impressed with Hector
Correa a RHP from Puerto Rico. He is 6’3″, and was throwing 93 with a
good curve and change and plenty of projection as he only weighs 165,
but is nowhere to be found on the top 200. What is the story with this

John Manuel:
Correa’s not as good as he looked on video, if he looked like a top 200
guy. He’s got big velocity, sitting at 91-93, and the arm works well,
but he’s got no present breaking ball, and that’s a pretty big negative
for us. He’s also wispy as you mention and will have to build up his
strength and stamina.

 Q:  Joe from Chicago asks:
people want to fire Smoke Laval at LSU, he has been a disappointment
after doing a good job to get the Tigers back to Omaha inheriting a
program that was on the downturn. One of the complaints is that he is
not getting the local talent, but is there even the same amount of
local talent in Louisiana as there was 10-15 years ago to recruit?

John Manuel:
I think the LSU fans wouldn’t care if they were in Omaha every year.
Skip Bertman is essentially an impossible act to follow, like most
legends (think of Tom Osborne’s replacement Frank Solich, or Dean
Smith’s replacements . . . ) I think Smoke’s a solid coach. If
recruiting is the problem, is that all Smoke’s fault or does Turtle
Thomas bear some culpability there? I don’t hear a lot of calls for
Turtle’s head . . .

 Q:  Josh Meyer from Fort Dodge, IA asks:
Any chance of Parmelee or Antonelli going to my Twins at #20?

John Manuel:
Don’t think Antonelli will be there at 20; Parmelee will though and
he’s a good fit there as a high school bat who can really, really rake.

 Q:  Ray from Portland Or asks:
The Padres got three draft and follows. How good are they? I think they have doing a better job with there draft and follows.

John Manuel:
They’ve done well with DFEs for several years (see George Kottaras and
Kyle Blanks among others). They got two Top 200 players in Breit and
Miller the other day, so their draft is already off to a good start
with two power arms.

 Q:  Josh Meyer from Fort Dodge, IA asks:
What do you think of high school 3rd baseman Chris Marrero, and do my Twins have any interest?

John Manuel:
Josh, wish you had lumped all your Q’s together . . . Marrero and
Parmelee are both nice ideas for the Twins. But don’t forget, Minnesota
likes college pitchers too, with Glen Perkins and Matt Garza working
out very well for them as did Scott Baker. Marrero is more tools than
production; I’m always wary of high school players like that.

 Q:  John from Peoria, AZ asks:
are the chances that ASU OF Colin Curtis returns for his senior year? I
know he’s supposed to be picked fairly early and wondered if he would
come back like Larish did for his final year. Thanks

John Manuel:
He’s going to be a tough sign considering his performance, but it
seemed like he was coming on. I don’t think he has Larish’s power and
thus doesn’t have any tool that will ever profile that well, but yeah,
he could improve himself as a senior, or he could continue his slightly
downward trend with his tools.

 Q:  Josh Meyer from Fort Dodge, IA asks:
Garza or Slowey which one will have a better big league career?

John Manuel: I’ll go with the bigger stuff and say Garza, even though Slowey’s a personal fave.

 Q:  sean from seattle asks:
top pitching prospect do you see falling in the draft due to
signability? Is Scherzer this year’s Hansen? Is Hochevar this year’s

John Manuel:
I like both analogies. I actually think Lincecum could fall because
he’s just the Cindy Lauper of this draft–he’s so unusual. I can’t
believe I just did that. Maybe he’s a wrestling fan too? I bet he also
can’t sing, though I hear he can freestyle well . . . Anyway, I
wouldn’t be surprised if Scherzer went higher than we thought. He’s
showing he’s close to back to his 2005 form, when he entered the year
as the No. 2 prospect. At his best, I think he’s better than Hochevar,
but both are tougher bets for me than Miller and Brad Lincoln.

 Q:  Derek from Kansas City asks:
Royals have been tossing around 4 or 5 names including Andrew Miller
for the #1 pick in next week’s draft, but they are conspicuously silent
when it comes to Tim Lincecum – any chance they are going to take him
#1 overall?

John Manuel: No Lincecum at 1-1 is what we’ve been told. It sounds like it’s down to Miller, Lincoln and (gulp) Hochevar.

 Q:  Nate from New York asks:
there a bigger surprise than Pepperdine being a number one seed and a
host? Maybe that fact that Notre Dame got only a three seed?

John Manuel:
Those were two major upsets for me. Mississippi State getting in,
sadly, wasn’t a surprise. The ‘Dogs getting in and LSU not getting in
was quite a shock for me.

 Q:  sean from seattle asks:
what kind of power do you project from Lars Anderson? Is he late first round material?

John Manuel: It’s big power, that’s why he’s in contention to go that early, we see him more as a sandwich guy.

 Q:  Greg from Denver asks:
Isn’t Brad Lincoln Jason Jennings Part Deux? I certainly wouldn’t take a guy like that at 1 even in a draft like this one.

John Manuel:
No. Lincoln’s about half the Diesel’s size. Plus, the Diesel ain’t bad.
Why are you knocking the Diesel? Just because Lincoln hits and pitches
at a Texas school, he’s not much like Jennings otherwise–bigger stuff,
smaller body.

 Q:  Andrew Rouse from Seoul, Korea asks:
thanks for this forum…anyway to put a name to the Brewers slot at
#16? I know (the very underrated) Jack Z will most likely take the best
player available but maybe, just maybe, it could be a college pitcher
this time?? Thanks again, Andy

John Manuel:
I’m going to throw you a name for the heck of it and say Brett
Anderson, who has the polish of a college pitcher in a prep body. Also,
the Brewers are thin on LHPs these days.

 Q:  Kristian from Cali asks:
Will Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes, and Chris Tillman be gone by the end of the first round?

John Manuel: No, they will all be available.

 Q:  Randy from Memphis asks:
What type of potential does Bryan Morris have? and in what round do you think he will be selected in this draft?

John Manuel:
I’m a big Morris guy, he kind of sounds like Kyle Sleeth to me with a
bigger arm, and the athleticism to make his delivery, where he throws
across his body, work. He might be best suited to the bullpen. I like
him as much as Pedro Beato among the DFE guys, longer track record of
success and similar stuff, though the arm doesn’t work as easily.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:

Your valiant prediction- best player from the 2006 draft five years from now?


John Manuel:
Great question. I’ll go out on a limb and say Hank Conger. Love a
switch-hitting catcher with power and off-the-charts makeup and work

 Q:  Chris from Maryland asks:
How did Wake Forest get snubbed out of a regional???

John Manuel:
They got creamed four times in a week by Clemson and went 10-15 in
their last 25 games. That’s how you play yourself out of a regional

 Q:  Big Astros Fan from Amarillo asks:
draft related, more on the prospect side, but what kind of career do
you see Hunter Pence having? He’s a home run machine right now in AA.
That’s a hitters paradise but he’s going to another one in the majors.
Could he be line for a callup this fall and a starting job next year?

John Manuel:
We note Pence today in Daily Dish. He’s having another great year, and
I’m starting to be a believer. He has a knack for centering the ball on
the barrel and making hard contact. He doesn’t do anything textbook,
but he keeps doing it. I’m a believer, but I’d lean more toward next
year. After giving Clemens that money, the Astros don’t want to develop
a rookie in the majors now, they want to win now.

 Q:  Brent from Galveston Island asks:
If you had to draft the Top 5 picks yourself, what players would you draft for each teams need?

John Manuel:
Brent, I edited your question, this part is more fun. What would I do?
KC: I’d go Miller, lefties with plus stuff are hard to find. 2: COL:
Lincoln. Safe bet with good present stuff. I’ve become a convert. 3:
TB: If they could sign him, Scherzer. The Rays actually could still get
value here if he became a closer, which they lack. 4: PIT: Lincecum.
He’s this good on talent, and he would bring people to see the team,
not a bad thing to do. I believe in the guy. 5: SEA: Hochever. They are
desperate for pitching in their minor leagues. I’d take a chance on the

 Q:  Mike from NYC asks:
Who are your winners from each regional bracket?

John Manuel:
You can view this at our Bracket Challenge, but here goes, from left
going down the bracket, I went Clemson; Arkansas; Charleston in an
upset; Ga. Tech in a choice I’m sure I’ll regret; CS Fullerton; UCLA;
North Carolina; Alabama. Then on the other side I went Rice; Houston;
Virginia; Georgia; Nebraska; Mississippi; Oregon State; Texas. That’s
for entertainment purposes only!

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
this years draft is void of sexy middle infielders, may I ask if you
might be excited over some future ones, like Josh Horton, Gordon
Beckham, Brandon Crawford, Stan Widdman, and Taylor Harbin to name more
than a few?

John Manuel:
There are sexy picks next year, no doubt. You left out the best guy,
Darvin Barney of Oregon State, and you left out Zack Cozart of Ole
Miss. The ’07 draft looks better both in college and high school
hitters, significantly better, which is a good thing.

 Q:  Jesse from NY asks:
Zack Cozart… top shortstop in the nation regardless of class? if not, who is?

John Manuel:
I’ll take Barney, though he’s not showing power right now, he’s a
premier defender with excellent athleticism. Cozart’s in my top three
along with Josh Horton.

 Q:  David from Everett asks:
for the chat! What do you hear regarding some Washington State High
School players for this years draft? How high will Snider go? What
about Cam Nobles, Stephan Englund and Chad Arnold?

John Manuel:
Good year for Washington preps. Snider will be mid-first, and Englund
is a toughie, third-round tools, the performance scares some people.
I’ve been told Nobles and ARnold are 8-12 round types who might go to
school in those rounds. You left out Curtis Dupart, a power-hitting OF
who could go in the fifth round.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Brent Lillibridge hit a home run off rehabbing Cole Hamels last night
and is now hitting .321.434.528 with 18 steals. He’s 22, which is old
for the Sally League, but aren’t these numbers too good to ignore? Is
he a prospect? Is he good enough to replace Jack Wilson at some point
or does a position change make sense?

John Manuel:
Good call, Joel, Lillibridge is a little guy but he is a prospect, I
think he’s a utility guy with some juice, maybe Ryan Freel esque though
not that kind of runner, but he’s on the radar for sure. He played for
Team USA in 2003, I think it was, and played a passable CF, so he’s
still learning at SS and I shouldn’t sell him short.

 Q:  Jamie R. from Tampa, Fl. asks:
John, one question: Can FSU win the Athens regional?

John Manuel: Of course it can; it’s in the regional, a good start, and it’s coached by Mike Martin, so dadgum it, they can do it.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
Russ Adams going to spend time in the minors to reaquaint himself with
2nd base? I remember reading B.A. stating he didn’t have the arm to
play SS. Guess you guys were right. Will Aaron Hill and him flip flop,
or will the Jays trade for Cesar Izturis?

John Manuel:
Thanks for props on Adams, that’s exactly what’s happening with Russ
Adams. I saw where JP Ricciardi said he didn’t care what BA said, but
apparently JP doesn’t realize we aren’t making these judgments as
writers who think we know baseball. We’re reporting what pro scouts and
amateur scouts were telling us. So BA wasn’t so much saying it as
reporting it. I believe Aaron Hill can be a passable shortstop but
Adams can be a special 2B defensively, I talked to a scout about this
just last week and he loved Adams as a 2b both as an amateur and when
he did pro coverage. If JP hadn’t given Izturis away in 2002 for Chad
Ricketts and Luke Prokopec, he wouldn’t have this problem.

 Q:  KL from Westboro, MA asks:
teams see Matt Antonelli as a CF because of his athleticism? What type
of player does he profile as? If the Blue Jays don’t select him what
other teams would be interested in him?

John Manuel:
No, he profiles as a 2b or 3b. He might not last until the 14th pick,
maybe he’ll go as high as 6 or 10 to Detroit or SF, that’s what we’ve
heard. He’ll go in the first round as a safe pick, but as I said, this
draft’s tough to predict. Jim Callis will have his prediction on
Tuesday morning, and last year he went 18-for-18 because he reported
the hell out of it. This year will test Jim’s reporting mettle, though.
It’s just a tough draft to figure out.

 Q:  Brett from Indianapolis asks:
John. Thanks for the chat. I wanted to hear your thoughts on the Ga.
Tech regional, particularly with the Yellow Jackets’ injuries. Can
Michigan’s pitching hold its own in the regional and do you think Ga.
Tech is vulnerable?

John Manuel:
I do think Tech is vulnerable, but I like Tech’s offense so much . . .
Jeff Kindel, Matt Weiters and Stephen Blackwood, plus Whit Robbins, are
all so solid, it’s just a deep bunch that will test any pitching staff.

John Manuel:
That’s it for me everyone, sorry I had to cut it short, but it’s too
nice a day to stay inside. Check in all weekend for more draft preview
coverage, plus regional recaps, and for all of next week’s draft
craziness. Thanks.