Top 100 Prospects Chat

Q:  Rick from Denver asks:
a Rockies fan, I’m surprised that Ian Stewart continues to rank so
highly on various prospects lists, despite the fact that he’s yet to
put up huge numbers at any level in the minors. Why isn’t Greg Reynolds
(#1 draft pick and 4-1, 1.42ERA at AA last year) ranked higher?

John Manuel: Thanks for dropping in everyone. Let’s begin.

John Manuel:
Rick, Ian Stewart has fallen behind some of his ’03 draft
contemporaries, but I for one like the way he has grinded through
injuries (wrist in particular being one that gave him a problem) and
still shows scouts above-average hitting tools. Plus he can play an
important position. Meanwhile, Reynolds profiles as more of a
middle-of-the-rotation guy, pitchability plus good but not great stuff,
and he’s got one shoulder surgery under his belt. Frankly that’s an
easy call for me.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
retrospect, do you and your staff regret ranking Dice-K at # 1 last
year, and would you do it again this year if he were still eligible?

John Manuel:
Not at all. I believe he’ll take The Leap this year and be a for-real
ace. He was quite good until he got gassed last year, and I’m pretty
fascinated to find out what he’ll do this year. That said, I would love
it if MLB came along and said, OK, these guys are major league free
agents, essentially, and stopped having Japanese veterans win rookie of
the year awards. We’d probably still write them up in the Handbook but
wouldn’t include them in the Top 100 in that case.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
close was it between Rasmus and Maybin? Who would you say has the most
potential to best benefit their team? I would have thought Maybin has a
better shot at making a big difference sooner than later. He played a
nice intrasquad game yesterday, for one. Did any of your staff rank him
above Colby?

John Manuel:
I’m going to have to come back to this one and find exactly how we
voted, but it’s pretty close. My answer is, Rasmus’ bat is more
big-league ready right now than Maybin’s, and I’m slightly, very
slightly more confident in Rasmus’ bat being better long-term. This
kind of thing, though, is exactly what we will examine later in the
week with our “Split Decision” feature, I think people will enjoy
seeing us go back and forth on some questions like Rasmus vs. Maybin.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
a bit surprised Andrus ranked as high as he did, when his numbers as of
yet haven’t justified such a lofty prediction. Can you elaborate?

John Manuel:
Stats and performance matter, Ben, but if you read BA then you know
tools matter as well, and in A-ball especially, they matter more than
stats. Andrus has premium tools at a crucial, middle-of-the-diamond
position, and the scouts I’ve talked to do project him to hit; I think
a conservative comparison is Yuniesky Betancourt and I think he’ll hit
more than that. Last year our best-case scenario in our “Risk Factor”
feature on Andrus was Edgar Renteria, and I think that’s still the high
side. If anything, he took a big step toward fulfilling that last year.
I’m bullish on Andrus, probably more than anyone on the staff.

 Q:  Larry Feinberg from Mahattan asks:
Why wasn’t Nyjer Morgan included on the top 100?

John Manuel:
Because the chance of him becoming a major league star are almost nil;
the chances of him becoming a big league regular are small. He’s
already 27 and hasn’t established himself as a big leaguer yet, and his
.364 career slugging in the minors doesn’t inspire confidence that
he’ll be a big league regular. I do like his chances to be a regular
this year in Pittsburgh, but if he doesn’t beat out Nate McLouth, he’ll
be a fourth outfielder or 4A guy his whole career. He’s a cool story
but not a consideration for the top 100.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Springfield asks:
Who would you best compare Desmond Jennings to? (I like to think of him as a poor man’s Maybin, minus the power.)

John Manuel:
Dexter Fowler, actually. We’ll have them as one of our Split Decisions
next week. Fowler might even have more upside as he should be able to
add strength to his wiry frame, while Jennings might be maxed out in
that regard. They had very similar seasons in the SAL, Fowler in ’06
and Jennings in ’07. Jennings has a chance to be pretty exciting, but
he seems like more of a leadoff guy rather than a middle-of-the-order
guy like Maybin could be.

 Q:  Steve from DeKalb, IL asks:
Any White Sox close to making the list?

John Manuel:
Not really . . . and it doesn’t sound like Kenny Williams is losing any
sleep over it. Aaron Poreda really isn’t a Top 100 type of guy yet.

 Q:  Jim from connecticut asks:
have 2 questions…how likely is it David price makes it into the
rotation in tampa this year? also is felix pie a lock to start in
chicago this year?

John Manuel:
I’d say quite unlikely for Price, just because there are so many good
players ahead of him on that depth chart, and Pie is not quite a lock
but a heavy favorite. I always root for Sam Fuld, your career College
World Series hits leader and the reigning Arizona Fall League MVP.
Still, tools-wise, it’s not really close, Pie should win that battle.

 Q:  Bob from Atlanta asks:
Why wasn’t Allan Horne on this list? He is more qualified than some that are on it and I’m not even a Yankee fan.

John Manuel:
He lacks consistent command of all his stuff and has the kind of long
arm action that makes scouts doubt that he’ll ever really have
consistent command. I think his best-case scenario is Matt Clement but
the chances of him doing that seem pretty small; Horne’s already 25 and
has yet to pitch above Double-A. Clement would be a good career for
Horne, and if he turns into Clement, we’ll regret not including him. I
would have loved to hear who you would have ranked him over, however;
like I tell my 3-year-old, don’t just tell me what you DON’T like, tell
me what you DO like.

 Q: from Stoughton, WI asks:
Jose Martinez (White Sox #4 Prospect) didn’t get any votes. Why? Do you see him cracking the Top 100 in 2009?

John Manuel:
He’s got the upside to jump in, but if the White Sox’ No. 1 wasn’t
cracking this year’s list, why would No. 4 do so? Let’s see him do
something outside the Appy League and show some plate discipline while
he’s at it. He is one of the few guys in that system people should be
excited about, however.

 Q:  john from palm beach, fl asks:
How close was Mat Latos to cracking the top 100? What were the factors that kept him off the list?

John Manuel:
He was at 102 in our first iteration; not quite sure where he ended up
but he was very close to making it. Still some thought he might be more
of a reliever than a starter but it’s a pretty special arm.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Could you give us five names who just missed the cut? Was Aaron Poreda one of them?

John Manuel: We actually list the entire list of guys who just missed, Ben:

 Q:  Frank from Birmingham, AL asks:
Why was Josh Donaldson left off the list? I know he had a terrific start to his career…was he close to making it?

John Manuel:
The four of us who voted on this—Jim Callis, the late (to us) Chris
Kline, Will Lingo and me—ranked personal top 150s. He wasn’t on any of
those lists. I’m a big Donaldson guy since he moved to catcher at
Auburn and hit well in the Cape in ’06. He could jump into the 100 next
year easily with a solid full season, but for me, I’m willing to wait
on catchers, to see if they can handle 140 or so games behind the plate
and hit and handle a pitching staff and manage a running game. I try to
be conservative with those guys.

 Q:  Drew from Greensboro asks:
was the methodology used in order to compile the list? I know the list
utilizes multiple raters, who have different opinions. Was it a
consensus vote? Did you run any analyses on how much each individual
raters list agreed? Was it a simple average ranking?

John Manuel:
I answered part of this in the last question. We met for a long time
(two hours? three?) after the 150s were merged together and talked
about guys we thought were out of place, too high, too low, etc.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Cameron, Hart and Braun entrenched in Milwaukee’s outfield this year,
which one will move to make way for LaPorta in ’09? Will he be a
regular, or a backup?

John Manuel:
We’re pretty confident he’ll be a regular since we ranked him so high;
the dude’s gonna hit. I’ve come back around on LaPorta after really
remembering his toughness in 2005—he led the nation in home runs, then
played all summer for Team USA despite a foot injury and getting hit in
the mouth with a pitch, then he had more injuries in 2006. When he’s
been healthy, he’s raked. I should leave contract negotiations out of
assessing prospects, and once I did that, I had to rank him high,
because he can really hit. If he hits like we think he will, he’ll
force his way into the picture as a regular. Cameron’s 35 and for me is
no lock to be a regular in ’09.

 Q:  Drew from Boston asks:
I know that some people had Lars Anderson as high as the 20s (Callis)
in their top 50, so seeing him as low as 40 on the list was surprising.
What is it about Lars that causes such a wide gap between you guys’
opinion of him?

John Manuel:
He’s another “Split Decision” guy coming up later this week. The three
of us had a 24-spot spread between the highest and lowest ranking on
him. Jim is the high man on him but not by much over me and Lingo, and
Kline was low man on the Anderson totem poll. We all think he’s going
to hit and be a big league factor sooner than later.

 Q:  alex from tucson asks:
at the list of the 100 prospects I glanced at only 3 Pirates. Given the
lack of success of the previous administrations in the draft and Latin
America, do Pirates fans have much hope with Huntington as the GM?

John Manuel:
More hope now than before, sure, but that’s not saying much. I don’t
really know what to say about it without being mean to the previous
regime. They just failed, like Cam Bonifay failed. But you know,
Bonifay was scouting director for the Rays in 2004, one of the best
drafts ever potentially—Niemann, Brignac, Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Ryan
Royster, Fernando Perez, Ryne Hughes, Sonnantine. My point is,
Huntington could do a lot of things right and get no breaks, or he
could be more prepared, more open-minded than his predecessors, and
still not get it done. Or he could do some things wrong but have
pitchers stay healthy and have things turn around.

 Q:  Dale Carriger from San Francisco asks:
was surprised to see for the Athletics that you had ML ETA for B
Anderson and F De Los Santos to be 2009. Anderson and De Los Santos
both have either zero or very little time above low A ball. Also was
Trevor Cahill close to being in Top 100?

John Manuel:
Anderson has more polish than most pitchers on this list and should
speed through the minors. De los Santos has one of the minors’ best
arms, and if he’s throwing strikes with his premium stuff like he did
last year, he also will make quick work of the minors. I’m pretty
confident in both of those ETAs. Cahill was on all four top 150s and
ranked in the 120-range in our spreadsheet but none of us had him in
the Top 100, either.

 Q:  Neil Parker from Harrisburg, PA asks:
for taking our questions, please fill in the blank. The player most
likely to have the most 40 HR’s for at least five seasons during their
career is _____________.

John Manuel:
I’ll say Jay Bruce because of the player, the power and the ballpark.
LaPorta and Longoria are in that mix, with Fernando Martinez too, but I
think the best answer is zero. I think homers are coming down over the
next decade with no future expansion on the horizon, the PEDs issue . .
. I doubt we’ll see guys leading the league at 37 homers like in the
’80s, but I think saying one or two of these guys will hit 40 homers
five times in a career, that seems unwise.

 Q:  Cesar Cabral from Queens, NY asks:
Do you think Matt Antonelli compares favorably to Kaz Matsui?

John Manuel: He should be the superior offensive player, definitely.

 Q:  Steven Culver from NY, NY asks:
Wade Davis / Jake McGee…who will have more MLB wins between now and the end of the 2010 season?

John Manuel:
Davis. I love McGee but there’s more chance of Davis staying in the
rotation and McGee moving to the bullpen in Tampa; McGee can be a
starter but with his superior velo and big breaking ball, he could be a
knockout reliever, and that organization may need him in that role
more. However, when ranking McGee, his ceiling is as a frontline
starter. How his org may use him can’t really be a factor, because if
he gets traded, he probably would get more chances to start, because
few if any orgs have the Rays’ upper-level pitching prospects.

 Q:  Stu Martin from Norfolk, VA asks:
you think Drew Stubbs will continue to improve as long as he keeps
choking up on the bat or do you think he has flaws to overcome?

John Manuel:
I’ve never been a huge Stubbs guy, but I like the fact that he made
adjustments. He does have flaws to overcome but I believe in him. Might
take him longer then you’d like but I think he’ll become a regular and
have one or two big years where it all comes together, then be overpaid
for it.

 Q:  Mark Antoch from Boston, MA asks:
Quick hitter…more MLB All-Star games…
Jed Lowrie, Reid Brignac, Chin Lung-Hu

John Manuel: Brignac, bigger tools and more of an SS than Lowrie, better bat than Hu.

 Q: from Stoughton, WI asks:
the Braves make a mistake when they traded Andrus, Harrison,
Saltalamacchia, Feliz & Jones for Teixeira & Mahay? How were
the Rangers able to grab all of these guys?

John Manuel:
Not for me, especially not if they (a) win this year with Tex or (b)
resign Tex. Their farm system remains in excellent shape even after
that trade. They might have given up one guy too many—would have been
nice to keep one of those pitchers, Feliz or Harrison—but if they win
it will be worth it.

 Q:  Matt Hahn from Johannesburg, South Africa asks:
Will Radhames Liz keep his control intact to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Orioles?

John Manuel:
Matt, we’d love a scouting report on the South African national team,
aren’t they in the Olympic qualifier next month in Taiwan? Seriously .
. . anyway, I’m not a big Liz guy the more I think about him. I am not
optimistic he’ll do what you want him to do, more of a reliever for me.

 Q:  Ted Constainis from Chicago, Ill asks:
you think Donald Veal’s abscense from the list is a sign that he will
never make it as a significant contributor on the big league level?

John Manuel:
We obviously don’t think he’ll be a significant contributor as a
starting pitcher, or else he would have ranked in the Top 100. The
breaking ball, the control—he’s got issues. As I believe I’ve said
before, I’m not terribly bullish on the Cubs’ player development
system, it seems like the Cubs have a long track record of not getting
as much out of their high-ceiling players as they should.

 Q:  Josh Conklin from Needham, MA asks:
the big question…of the top 20 on the list, who is the one that you
disagree with the most and has the best chance to be a bust?

John Manuel:
Actually, the BA top 20 and my top 20 are pretty similar. To get to
your question, or at least what I think your “big question” is, I was
higher on guys like Tim Alderson and Austin Jackson than my peers, and
less enthused about Kosuke Fukudome, Josh Vitters and Joey Votto than
they were. I like our top 20 guys, though I could see Fernando Martinez
or Andrus just not coming through, they are teenagers and there’s a lot
of projection involved with them both. I think I should have had the
stones to vote with Jim Callis and rank Moustakas higher. I’m pretty
sold on him.

 Q:  Jeff Chisholm from New York asks:
Do you think Taylor Teagarden’s long injury history will force a move to another position?

John Manuel:
Not yet, but as I said before, I’d be a lot more enthused about a
catcher who proved he could hit and handle the grind of playing 130-140
games a year. That’s just harder than any of us really can appreciate.

 Q:  t.j from Naperville, IL asks:
Does Sean Gallagher get a shot in the cubs organization in ’08 or will he be traded? Also how far has Mark Pawelek fallen off?

John Manuel:
He should, but if I were the Orioles, I’d be holding out on him for a
Brian Roberts trade. I’m a Gallagher guy, he just keeps getting better
and has maintained his improved velocity since being a fringy velo guy
in A-ball. I’m a fan. Pawelek is just a non-factor, that’s how fall
he’s fallen. I hope he can stay healthy and let’s see what he can do if
he does, but he didn’t even make the Cubs’ top 30.

 Q:  Allen from Atlanta asks:
Sanchez used to be one of the top pitching prospects in the minors. He
was incredible during his Futures Game start a few years ago. You have
him ranked #12 in the Yankees organization but has there been any
improvement since his surgery last year? Do you still see him as first
tier pitching prospect and will he get a shot this year?

John Manuel:
The Futures Game is a pretty bad place to evaluate pitchers, because
they all go one inning and many of them just go out there trying to
blow fastballs past people. I’ve been in the U.S. dugout the last three
(two?) years thanks to XM Radio and some of those guys take it
seriously and others don’t. Sanchez has yet to pitch more than 120 IP
in a season, he’s coming off TJ, and the Yankees probably will bring
him back slowly this year; last I talked to them, they were going to
bring him back as a reliever this year. So I do not see him as a
first-tier guy, no.

 Q:  Mike Dunshee from Boston, MA asks:
Do you think Angel Villalona has Albert Pujols-type impact when he finally does make it?

John Manuel:
No, that’s putting too much on him. Pujols is one of the most unique
hitters in history. Villalona could be pretty special offensively
though; I haven’t talked to anyone, AZL coach or scout who’s seen him,
who doubts that it’s a unique bat. I’m not sure what comp to make but
Pujols just isn’t a fair one to make.

 Q:  Brian McNamee from New York asks:
seems to me that Andrew McCutchen is ranked rather high considering he
struggled for 4/5 of the season last year. Do you agree?

John Manuel:
I’d pick another fake name in the future . . . McCutchen is ranked for
what we think he’ll do, not for what he did. I did our Eastern League
list and the managers and scouts I talked to liked him, and we still
believe in him, though we do have him a step behind draft peers such as
Maybin, Rasmus, Bruce, etc.

 Q:  Blackie from Cincinnati asks:
John. Questions about a couple of players. Fautino de los Santos is
already ranked reasonably high everything considered, but what
improvement(s) would he need to make to jump into the Top 20 next year?
Also, who in the second fifty stands to make the biggest jump on the
list after this season? My vote goes to Scott Elbert, whom I believe to
be ranked maybe just a little too low considering his surgery was just
for scar tissue. Thanks for chat as always.

John Manuel:
Interesting questions . . . Elbert might have been a reliever even
before he got hurt. I’ve been bullish on him in the past such as when
he was in the SAL, I believe I ranked him No. 1 in that league in
2005—in retrospect that should have been Phil Hughes or Hunter Pence,
but if he’s a power closer or setup guy, he’ll have been ranked right,
IMO. De los Santos is pretty intriguing, I think he’s just got to prove
he can do more than get A-ball hitters out to really jump up the list.
He’s poise, power and the ability to spin a breaking ball, he’s got a
top 20 ceiling for sure.

 Q:  Robert Phillips from Long Island asks:
Which player ranked between 81-100 has the highest ceiling?

John Manuel:
I’ll say Phillippe Aumont or Tim Alderson, I like both of those ’07
draft picks. I had Alderson super high on my personal list, probably
too high, but Aumont has a chance to be pretty amazing, Kevin Brown
comparisons seem warranted.

 Q:  Jose Martinez from Suffolk County asks:
Fernando Martinez or Jose Tabata…which player makes their MLB debut first (and what year)?

John Manuel:
Martinez should get there first but I see both getting there in ’09, if
things play out as scouts tell us they should. They both are bat-first
guys when it’s all said and done, and I think Martinez has a bit more
offensive upside, but they are pretty close.

 Q:  Blackie from Cincinnati asks:
see Felipe Paulino (the ones who just missed list) got three votes, the
highest placing him at 78. Can you reveal who cast that vote, why he’s
so high on him, and what the divergence of opinions was?

John Manuel:
Lingo had him the highest because of the power stuff, Kline didn’t have
him very high at all, and I don’t see Chris on IM so I can’t ask him.
Paulino actually barely missed making the list, but no one fought for
him in the meeting. That’s how meetings go, you know? I didn’t have him
in my top 100 because he seems like a setup guy waiting to happen.

 Q:  Kevin Todzia from New York, NY asks:
Bill Rowell will be a ________________ major league player.

John Manuel:
I’d just take out the blank; I’m not sure what he’ll be yet. I didn’t
rank him in my top 150 so I’m probably the reason he didn’t make the
top 100. I’m not convinced he’ll be more than a 4-A slugger. He’s
pretty one-dimensional for a teen; he sounds like Jack Cust who doesn’t
walk. He’s got a ways to go for me.

 Q:  Dylan from New York, NY asks:
Who do you see making the biggest jump in the top 100 ranking during the course of the year?

John Manuel:
Aumont is a candidate; Neftali Feliz could jump if he develops and
shows more consistency in his first full season; a healthy season could
vault Dexter Fowler high into the list; same can be said for Hank
Conger. I think I’m the high man on Conger, by quite a bit.

 Q:  Hideki Fustomuro from Kyoshi, Japan asks:
for answering questions, John. In regards to Chin Lung Hu – where do
you see his OPS / HR / RBI once he is an established MLB player?

John Manuel:
I think a .750 OPS out of Hu is reasonable; for me, he’s going to be an
average offensive player and a plus defender at an important position.
In his good years, he could hit two-hole but mostly, you’d want him
hitting seventh or eighth and playing above-average defense. His power
spike last year seems a tad fluky, but he’s not going to be a zero
offenively either.

 Q:  Tim from Dana Point Ca asks:
Detwiler seems to have all the tools to be an Ace. Yet he didn’t get as
much love on the top prospect sheet as I would have thought. Is he a
true Ace in the making or a good number two?

John Manuel:
He’s at 51, that’s pretty good all things considered. It’s always
easier to say No. 2 starter than to stick your neck out and say No. 1.
I’d say four guys in the top 100 could be No. 1 starters—Joba,
Buchholz, Price & Kershaw. That seems like a high number, too.

 Q:  jim from white plains ny asks:
obviously have a lot of love for heyward. Are we looking potentially at
the next number one overall prospect or Just a real good player?

John Manuel:
He could definitely jump up there, and I think there’s a chance he and
Moustakas are fighting it out for that distinction next year. Love both
those high school bats from last year’s draft.

 Q:  Mike from Easton Pa asks:
Best of the Bunch, LaPorta, Vitters, or Heyward.

John Manuel: Heyward, more well-rounded, and we believe in the bat.

 Q:  John from Atlanta asks:
Cole Rohrbaugh?? He has big stuff and dominated the Sally League weeks
after signing…pretty impressive for a guy coming from a JC..

John Manuel:
John, Rohrbaugh was in my top 100, not just top 150. I’m all over Cole
Rohbaugh. Chris Kline didn’t rank him and Chris, if I recall correctly,
just wanted to see the guy do it a little more, and there’s merit in
being judicious on a pitcher with a good breaking ball striking out
tons of guys at low levels or in JC ball. He’s going to have get guys
out with his fastball, but I think he can do that, it’s up to 94 at
times. I am a big Rohrbaugh guy.

 Q:  Richard Head from Altoona, PA asks:
Is Ian Snell an accurate comparison for Johnny Cueto?

John Manuel:
Maybe but you know, Snell was never ranked this high, never made a Top
100. Sounds like Cueto’s breaking stuff is better but I think you’re
right and that Snell doesn’t get enough credit.

 Q:  Loves Rice from Houston, TX asks:
happened to Humber, Niemann and Townsend? In 2004, all three were
expected to be major league aces. Now, only Neimann is in the top 100
(at 99). Were they overhyped? Was it just bad luck that kept them from
reaching their potential? Will any of them turn into what we expected
of them?

John Manuel:
Well, the track record of Rice pitchers is not pretty. Is that all
Wayne Graham’s fault? I don’t think it’s that simple. All three of
those guys held out; that just never helps. They all threw a lot at
Rice; maybe they should have kept throwing a lot in pro ball. Maybe
their pro clubs should have kept them on the throwing program they were
on at Rice. Or maybe Rice just worked ’em too hard. Longtime BA readers
know I’m a huge Townsend & Niemann fan, have never quite believed
in Humber as much, still believe in Niemann after seeing him here in
Durham last year and he finished the year strong, which is why he’s
still a Top 100 guy. Hard to say they were over-hyped when all three
were drafted in the top eight picks in the same year (2004). By the
way, Townsend apparently is quite the poker player, I saw where he won
$70k or so in a tournament recently, so go Wade!

 Q:  Mike from NYC asks:
Was it Fukudome’s age that landed him at #30?

John Manuel:
I think he’s at 30 more because we expect him to be solid instead of
spectacular, maybe not an all-star but a really good regular. Tough to
rank those kinds of players, whether they are Japanese or Cuban, and we
will examine him a bit more later this week in “Split Decisions.”

 Q:  Harold from Allentown pa asks:
Is Jarrod Parker going to be better than Teheran?

John Manuel:
He very well could be, and he certainly should reach the major leagues
quicker. Teheran also could be Felix Hernandez, but he’s also from
Colombia (hardly a hotbed) and hasn’t thrown a pitch in a game that
matters yet. No one reports on those guys like we do but at the same
time, I’m surprised by how many calls for ranking Teheran I’ve gotten
in this chat.

 Q:  Mr. Met from Shea Stadium Basement asks:
How bad is the Mets farm system? Is there anyone other than F-Mart that might crack the top 100 list next year?

John Manuel:
It’s bad—lots of relief pitchers in the first 10 or 15 prospects.
Maybe Jon Niese or Nathan Vinyard breaks through, or Greg Veloz, Wilmer
Flores or Ruben Tejada? It’s just not a good system any way you look at
it, but if they win the World Series, who cares?

 Q:  andy from new jersey asks:
does evan longoria make the team out of spring and who deos he compare to in the major leagues right now?

John Manuel:
I say yes, and for a comparison . . . I’m going to say good-year Mike
Lowell, a consistent version of Lowell. I say Lowell because to me,
Longoria isn’t flashy, he’s just effective, and also because he’s got
the good teammate-makeup-work ethic-professionalism thing going for
him. He’ll be a bit better hitter than Lowell as well, taking him from
very good player at his peak to all-star.

 Q:  Snack Attack is Back from Bigglerville asks:
Elvis Andrus ranked higher than Fernando Martinez just because he’s a
shortstop? Purely based on hitting ability, who’s the better prospect?

John Manuel: That’s part of it, and yeah, based on just the bat, Martinez is the better hitter. But this ain’t home run derby.

 Q:  Joel McDonald from Sacramento asks:
Where would Pedro Alvarez be ranked if he was eligible for the top 100 list?

John Manuel: Wrapping up . . . I’d rank Pedro 19 myself, behind Moustakas but ahead of Andrus . . .

 Q:  Piper from Hamilton asks:
for the chat John. Why include Balester, Sinkbeil and Gallagher in the
top 100 over guys with higher ceilings like Lincoln, Weathers, Poreda
or even Teheran? Also, where would Sho Nakata have ranked if he was in
the U.S?

John Manuel:
You’re welcome. Gallagher and Balester have gotten to Triple-A (and in
Gallagher’s case the big leagues), plus they’ve been healthy. They both
profile as big league starters, No. 3 or No. 4 guys for me. Those are
less-high ceilings, but the possibility of reaching the ceiling is high
for both. Those guys have a place on the list, and it’s in the 81-90
range (though I think Gallagher’s a bit low). Sinkbeil’s ceiling is
higher than those guys. The four guys you mentioned with higher
ceilings have pretty big warts—Lincoln with TJ, Weathers as a reliever
with a short track record, Poreda with one pitch and Teheran being 17
and not having thrown a pro pitch and being from Colombia . . . If we
just ranked upside, I think our list would look very, very different.
We’re constantly trying to balance ceiling and likelihood to reach it.
I’m not sure anyone has cracked that code, but you’ve got 900 scouting
reports on these guys in your Prospect Handbook, so you can go ahead
and make your own judgments.

 Q:  bender from NC asks:
Where would Brackman have been if healthy?

John Manuel:
Ceiling-wise, he’d have to be top 10. That said, his career high in IP
is 78, so he’s a few years away from being big league ready not matter
how high his ceiling is—and that would be assuming he was healthy.

 Q:  Dave from Fantasy Land asks:
What are the scouting reasons why two results-heavy sluggers, Chris Davis & Steven Pearce, aren’t top 50 prospects?

John Manuel:
Both profile best at 1B, where the offensive demands are huge; Davis
swings and misses an awful lot, and I guess we’re just not convinced on
Steve Pearce being as good as he was in ’07. I bet Pearce proves us
wrong. I respect that guy a ton, another overachieving South Carolina
player, but saying that sells him short, he is a better hitter than
most of the guys on this list. I was high man on Pearce, ranking him

 Q:  Marl from Berlin, OH asks:
What keeps Michael Main off the top 100? Is his full-effort delivery too scary? Is he not polished enough?

John Manuel:
Pretty far away, but he’s got huge upside and I had him in my Top 100,
but didn’t fight too hard to keep him in. Just hard to rank an AZL
pitcher who isn’t picked toward the top of the first round. Jarrod
Parker was a legit first 10 pick on talent, that’s a pretty big
difference, to compare those two guys.

 Q:  Scott F from Mississauga asks:
not winning the 2005 minor league player of the year, and getting
jerked around by the angels last year, I’m sure brandon wood would be
quite pleased to see that he’s still ranked at #16. Did his potential
move back to short factor in to his ranking?

John Manuel: Lightning round . . .

John Manuel:
It helped; not quite as excited about the bat as we used to be but he
still should be productive and is a solid to good defender at both

 Q:  Greg from Orchard Farm asks:
Next years #1 prospect pitcher will be either Clayton Kershaw and #1 hitter will be Lars Anderson, am I right?

John Manuel:
Very good guesses; Kershaw vs. Price for pitcher, Anderson vs. the
likes of Moustakas, Villalona, Pedro Alvarez or Jason Heyward next
year. That will be fun to track.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
job on the list! So hard to get down to 100, I’m sure you’ve had plenty
of questions on those who missed. I had one pitcher I wanted to ask you
about. How close did Brett Cecil come? I was very surprised he didn’t
make the cut. He was the # 2 prospect in Toronto’s system – and overall
# 1 in the NYP league – ahead of Joe Savery and Ryan Kalish – who both
got in to your top 100. What was the major reasoning? Too young?
Ceiling not high enough?

John Manuel: All four of us had him in the top 150 but none of us had him top 100; he was closer to 125 than to 100.

 Q:  Greg from Orchard Farm asks:
Who was the most argued about prospect while making this list?

John Manuel:
We had several spirited debates which we turned into the “Splid
Decisions.” If you can’t tell, I like that feature and how it turned
out. We talked a lot about pitchers with low strikeout rates, guys like
Carlos Carrasco, Chris Volstad and my personal cheeseball, Nick
Blackburn (I like cheeseballs).

 Q:  Greg from Orchard Farm asks:
Who is one player from the 2007 draft that wasn’t on this list that will surely be there next year?

John Manuel:
I won’t say “surely” but my pick to click on that front is Madison
Bumgarner. Hudson, N.C., represent! Chris Withrow is another good pick

 Q:  Rocco Siffreidi from Versailles, FR asks:
Do think Cameron Maybin has a chance to be a better MLB player than Justin Upton?

John Manuel: I’ve long thought that Maybin’s upside was comparable. It’s going to all be about the bat, and that jury is still out.

John Manuel: Versailles? That’s got to be a first.

 Q:  Carmen Luvana from Miami, FL asks:
Do you think Fukodome has a chance to make an impact similar to Ichro?

John Manuel: No, Ichiro is Ichiro, no one like him.

 Q:  Stephen from Kansas asks:
After, Weiters, which catching prospect has the best long term potential?

John Manuel: Directories are in, by the way, for those of you interested.

John Manuel: I’d say Clement; I believe in his ability to make it work, to quote Tim Gunn.

 Q:  Lordele G. from Baltimore asks:
see Liz as a future ace. His minor league numbers, and stuff is just
sick. His control is a little off, but I think he masters it sooner
rather than later. Am I right, or am I wrong??

John Manuel: I’m voting “wrong.”

 Q:  Michael from Knoxville, TN asks:
did Lillibridge slip out of the top 100 this year? He actually had a
better season, proving himself at a higher level, than he did in 06′
but he went from 93rd to being a no-show. I had also heard that this
was a weaker minor league class than last season. Have there been
reports on Lillibridge that hurt his value?

John Manuel:
I was very impressed with him when I saw him with Richmond, and two of
us had him in the top 100 (Manuel, Kline) and two did not, in fact,
Lingo and Callis barely had him in their top 150. His plate discipline
slipped, and he’s got a chance to just become a super-utility guy. I
think that’s why he slipped.

 Q:  Frank from Baltimore asks:
Where would Adam Jones be if he qualified?

John Manuel:
I probably would slot him in around No. 10. Still some questions about
the bat but I think I’d put him right up there with Ellsbury &
Wieters, and he’s more well-rounded than Snider, plus he’s two-three
levels ahead.

 Q:  David E. from Athens, GA asks:
Andrus hits .244 with Atlanta over 100 games. In about 1/4 of that
number of games in Texas he steals almost as many bags and hits .300.
Whats the deal? Is Texas the change he needed or is this Andy Marte
part deux?

John Manuel: Park factor is part of it, maturity is part of it . . . He’ll be better than Marte.

 Q:  Greg from Delaware asks:
Does Kline actually believe that Engel Beltre is the 27th best prospect?

John Manuel:
Chris saw Beltre at instructional league and really fell for the guy’s
tools, which are prodigious. I talked to AZL managers who questioned
the bat, it might take a while, but Chris went for upside, and I can
see his upside being that prodigious.

Moderator: There are still 200 questions in the queue, and
I’m not sure how many I’ve answered. We’re flattered by the attention.
We’ll have much more tomorrow—the “Split Decisions” package goes up
tomorrow, as does our Majestic Top 100 trivia contest, as does our Top
100 podcast. Much more to come this week at Baseball America. Thanks