Top 100 Prospects Chat With John Manuel

Moderator: John will begin taking your questions about our Top 100 Prospects list at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
Question of the day: Where would Weaver and Drew land on this list if they were eligible?

John Manuel: Welcome in, everyone. iTunes in full effect for this long chat, on shuffle. Engage!

John Manuel:
I can only speak for myself here . . . I’d put Weaver around 34 at
first glance, ahead of Zach Duke. He’s not too different in my mind
from Jeff Francis except that he’s righthanded and has no pro
experience, but he’s a pitchability guy with great command whose
velocity doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. As I indicated
yesterday in our brief on the breakdown of Weaver’s contract
negotiations, most scouts liked Niemann’s stuff better and Niemann’s
command is a strength, if it’s not at Weaver’s level. I like Drew
better as a prospect than Weaver personally; I’d rank him around 25,
after polished prospects such as Francis and Nick Swisher, ahead of
Chris Nelson at 26, though I really like Nelson. My only question on
Drew is he hasn’t hit with wood bats in competition since his East Cobb
days, to my knowledge.

 Q:  Eric from Madison asks:
you really think Homar Bailey is better than Mark Rogers? Is it just
because of Bailey’s higher high school competition? Also what kind of
ceiling do you see for Rogers and do you see him moving quickly?

John Manuel:
Bailey’s command and mechanics appear to be better than Rogers; I’ve
consistently said in chats before that I really value fastball command
as the building block for a pitcher’s future success, and I like
Bailey’s fastball command better. Both have significant ceilings,
however, and I foresee both being big leaguers by about 2008, after
three full years in the minor leagues.

 Q:  LF from The Crane Pool Forum asks:
Justin Verlander, Philip Humber & Jeff Niemann were picked in
consecutive order in last year’s draft – #’s 2, 3, & 4 overall –
and all, because they signed late, have essentially not yet thrown a
pro pitch. Yet they turn up in very different places in the Top-100
list (Neimann = #20; Humber = #50; and Verlander not even on the list).
What’s the thought process behind the wide disparity?.

John Manuel:
Niemann has the best combination of size, stuff and track record of
those three; I personally don’t think it’s close. Humber performed
better in 2004 as he was healthy when Niemann wasn’t, and I admit I’m
not holding his injuries (arthroscopic elbow surgery, groin pull)
against him. Humber isn’t far behind for me, I just don’t think he has
the makeup to be a No. 1 starter, and I think Niemann does, makeup and
stuff. His ceiling is true No. 1 for me, Humber’s is not. Verlander is
just a completely different guy. He couldn’t even dominate the Colonial
Athletic Association. He throws harder than those guys and has nasty
stuff of his own, but I don’t see the aptitude or the makeup. For me,
Verlander is a high-risk, high-reward pick, and I’m wary of the risk
and wary of his track record.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
How big of a gap was there between #3 Young and #4 Stewart?

John Manuel:
Not much at all. As good as Delmon Young is, Ian Stewart is right
there, and he plays a more premium position defensively as well. You
can make the Ian Stewart case and I’d be very willing to listen,
perhaps more than others. At the end, the bat is the most important
tool, and Delmon’s bat’s going to be a bit better than Ian’s.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
is my first: I don’™t think it’™s fair for Jason Kubel to be on the list,
if and only if, Clint Everts was left off the list because he will not
play in 2005. Kubel is slated to be out all year as well. I can’™t
imagine that Everts would not have been in the top 100 had he not
gotten injured. Can you touch up on this?

John Manuel:
Mike, we do think it’s fair, and there’s a huge difference between
those guys. Kubel’s knee isn’t why he’s a prospect; Evert’s elbow is.
Kubel has done it at Double-A and Triple-A; Everts has done it in low
A. Everts’ stuff was down before the injury was diagnosed; Kubel hit
his way onto the Twins’ playoff roster before he was hurt. Sorry, I see
this as apples and oranges cases. And Everts, by the way, didn’t miss
the Top 100 by much at all. He’s a pitcher coming back from a
significant arm injury who will miss a year of development time, and
even with the track record of Tommy John surgery being what it is, I’m
still wary of ranking a guy like that too highly if I don’t have to.

 Q:  Shad from Maryland asks:
these chats!! What’s the reasoning behind Carlos Quentin being a 20
some higher prospect than Connor Jackson? Is Jackson more polished and
has about the same ceiling? If an outfield spot opens up who would the
diamondbacks call up first? THanks.

John Manuel:
Shad, thanks for the kind words. Quentin plays right field and plays it
well; Jackson’s probably going to be a 1B, and if he’s a 1B, he better
flat mash, and I mean home runs, not doubles. That’s the biggest reason
for the disparity. Quentin’s defense makes him much more likely to be
called up first.

 Q:  Peter from San Diego, CA asks:
other baseball prospect rankings have Kottaras above Barfield. I don’t
know about that – I trust you guys above all others in that regard. But
Kottaras does look special. How high is his ceiling? Should we expect
him on next year’s top 100? Did anyone have him on this year’s list?
Any comparables?

John Manuel:
Peter, we appreciate your trust and hope to continue to earn it. I
always watch Greeks like Kottaras closely, for trivia’s sake, and he
came a long way as a prospect last year. His ceiling is as an offensive
catcher, a .280, 15-20 homers guy, who is average defensively. That’s
pretty significant. We realize the year Barfield had last year wasn’t
overwhelming, but one year isn’t all we’re considering here, and
Barfield’s bat probably still will be better than Kottaras’. If he
stays at 2B, that makes Barfield a potential all-star.

 Q:  billy from manhattan asks:
type of ceiling is there for lastings milledge. is there a comparison
to a player currently in the major leagues of what type of player he
can be?

John Manuel:
He’s a five-tool center fielder IF (huge if) he continues his
improvement in hitting breaking balls and is at least an average hitter
in terms of his batting average (.270-.285). The fact we ranked him so
highly tells you we think he will hit for average and develop enough
patience, and if he does, he’s a 30-steals, 20-30 homers kind of guy in
center field, which is pretty special, kind of like the Mets’ current
center fielder, Carlos Beltran, who also is just an average hit-tool
guy (.284, .350 career OBP).

 Q:  Ryan Hunt from Lakeland, FL asks:
Hawksworth (47 in ’04) and Bobby Jenks (62 in ’04) were left off the
Top 100 this year due to injuries last season. How close were they to
making this year’s list, and what is the latest word on their

John Manuel:
I don’t think either entered into the discussion due to their injury
histories. Bobby Jenks, well, he’s No. 21 in the White Sox system. He
had elbow surgery last August, but of more concern is his makeup; he’s
just not a guy you want in your clubhouse. That track record is hard to
ignore, but as one veteran player development official put it to me
this spring, “I don’t care if a guy’s a criminal if he can throw the
—- out of it.” Hawksworth is a totally different animal; the guy has
had several injuries, the latest to the shoulder which is quite
troubling, and hasn’t pitched above Class A. He’s in camp and just
needs to have a healthy full season to get back on a list like
this–that means beating his career high of 16 starts in a season.

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
What’s the word on Adam Miller’s injury and how does that affect his prospect status?

John Manuel:
He’s being examined Saturday and we’ll all know more then about the
extent of his elbow tenderness. Clearly surgery would have a pretty
negative effect on his status; that should go without saying. If he’s
just fine and just a little tender, he’ll just miss some development
time on the front end of the season, work up to the start of the season
more slowly than his peers, but long-term, that wouldn’t affect his
status. Big day tomorrow for the Indians.

 Q:  Peter from San Diego, CA asks:
thought to revising team lists to fit with the “team’s” (The BA team)
collective opinion (i.e. Francouer as the Braves’ #1 but at #14 behind
#9 – and #2 to the Braves, Marte)?

John Manuel:
One of the great things about our rankings is, there’s not one
monolithic view here. Bill Ballew believes in Francoeur anad thinks
he’s the next Dale Murphy, and he really might be. Marte is also very
good; there’s not a ton of difference between the two for me. I
personally think Marte is the better prospect, but not by much.
Francoeur’s intangibles are pretty compelling, if you talk to anyone
who’s gotten to know him; he’s a future team captain, union rep, that
kind of thing–he’s just a natural leader, and I think that was a big
factor in Bill’s ranking. If we have a disagreement over who’s better
long-term, it’s a pretty small one.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
there a better hitter in the minors than Daric Barton? I know Ian
Stewart and Delmon Young have shown more power, but Barton’™s plate
discipline is much better than both of those guys, and he has an
abundance of power. I think he’™s ranked too low, based on his bat,
unless his defense is what put him there. Barton might be the very best
hitter in the minor leagues.

John Manuel:
Yes, there is a better hitter than Barton, but he’s clearly in the
discussion. Jim Callis and I both have talked to scouts who put Barton
right in the discussion with the top hitters in the minors. My choice
for the Minors’ Best Hitter is . . . Casey Kotchman. I guess it’s the
.342-.423-.519 that does it for me including stops above the Midwest
League. Throw in that Kotchman is a Gold Glove 1B while Barton doesn’t
really profile as average defensively at any position, and that
explains some of Barton’s ranking. The bat is the most important tool
and h is bat is clearly a plus tool, but what if Barton turns out to be
Jack Cust? Just saying . . . I worry when a player’s scouting report
contains the phrase “lack of athleticism.”

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Does Erick Aybar really have a higher ceiling than Sergio Santos?

John Manuel:
Actually, I’d say Santos’ ceiling is higher because he could be a
30-homer shortstop. But the likelihood of him reaching that ceiling is
what gives me pause–can he play shortstop and will his offseason
shoulder surgery really solve this nagging injury he has dealt with? I
don’t know that we’ve seen the real Sergio Santos, and 2005 will really
tell us more about who has the higher ceiling. I’m comfortable ranking
Aybar higher because of his athleticism at shortstop and I think we
know more about the kind of player he is going to be.

 Q:  Phil Coyle from Boulder, CO asks:
Guzman has put up solid, if perhaps unspectacular, power numbers in the
minors. What is a realistic time frame for his arrival in Los Angeles,
what position will he play and what kind of homerun numbers do you see
in his future ?

John Manuel:
He seems to be making his own timetable; if he progresses as quickly as
he did last year, who’s to say he can’t help in LA this year? More
realistic, he probably could use one more year in the minors to face
upper-level breaking stuff, then another to learn another position. We
see him as a 30-homer corner OF down the line, but he can play
shortstop very competantly now. He’s just probably not going to do it
when he fills out and finishes growing, when he might be 6-foot-7, 250
pounds. If he’s playing SS at that size . . . well, then we should have
ranked him first!

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
What are the top five minor league systems in baseball?

John Manuel:
You’ll have to buy the book to get the order, but alphabetically
(considering Anaheim, not LA, as the Angels’ home, because that court
fight isn’t over), we have them as Anaheim, Atlanta, Los Angeles,
Milwaukee and Minnesota.

 Q:  David from my desk asks:
over the Top 100 (as well as your recent Top 100 history), what teams
— big market or small market — should seriously consider dumping
their scouting directors? Which teams in recent history have failed
most miserably in finding high-level prospects? And which have had the
worse luck with injuries (and maybe should consider firing the
responsible coaches and trainers)?

John Manuel:
I’ll answer a somewhat different question. I wonder about the Royals’
approach to player development, because they repeatedly draft for
signability rather than trying to find the players who can do the most
to help them. They went for it with Colt Griffin and Roscoe Crosby and
got burned big-time; they went for it again with Zack Greinke, though,
and look at that payoff. I hope they budget the money to be bold in
2005 with the No. 2 overall pick, because player development is the
only way they will find premium players in the current market. The
Tigers already have looked at their system and made the changes you are
talking about; the Astros took similar steps with a new scouting

 Q:  Tom from Scranton asks:
does Zach Duke’s stuff compare with Ian Snell, Matt Peterson or a
healthy Sean Burnett? I think Snell might be the best of the bunch if
the Pirates will just let him keep starting.

John Manuel:
Duke has solid stuff but an advanced feel for pitching and throwing
strikes. Burnett’s stuff was never at Duke’s level, he’s always been a
command guy and he never put up strikeout numbers like Duke did in ’04.
Matt Peterson has solid stuff but lacks Duke’s command or feel. You’re
in the minority on Ian Snell, a smallish righthanded pitcher whose
stuff is just a shade better than Duke if at all. He’s throwing harder,
but the grading scales are different for RHPs and LHPs; an LHP throwing
89-91 is a tick above average (i.e., the average big league LHP doesn’t
throw that hard), while that’s average for an RHP. Also, Snell “could
use a dose of maturity,” as John Perrotto wrote in our Prospect
Handbook. Snell’s 23; he probably shouldn’t have that written about him
at 23. That’s also a big factor for me.

 Q:  Mike from Toronto asks:
who do you see as being a better overall players in the majors, Upton or Nelson?

John Manuel:
Upton, but I actually think the question is worth asking. Nelson’s bat
should be pretty spectacular, like Upton’s, but B.J. has wicked power
that I don’t think Nelson can match.

 Q:  Todd from Eagan, MN asks:
does Mark Rogers make your list but not Ben Hendrickson? Also how does
the Brewers 2b Hernan Iberanean not make the list with the season he
put up.. he was just as impressive as Barfield was in 2003.

John Manuel:
Hendrickson’s average fastball makes his ceiling considerably lower
than Rogers’, who has plus-plus stuff potentially. Iribarren is an
exciting prospect, but to compare his ’04 with Barfield’s ’03, remember
Barfield did it in high Class A over a full season, not a half-season
in the Arizona League. Major, major difference. Iribarren definitely
could be on this list next year, though, very exciting prospect.

 Q:  Kevin from Toronto asks:
do you have Tad Iguchi as the 5th best rookie for 2005 and yet 99th on
your top 100 overall? Most of those bottom 50 will never even play full
time in the majors.

John Manuel:
Because the two lists are vastly different. It’s ceiling for the Top
100, and performance in the big leagues in 2005 for the Rookie list.
Iguchi should be a solid, solid player this year, a solid average 2b,
but compared to the others on this Top 100, we think the guys in front
of him have more of a chance to be stars. I’d also love to hear from
some of you about how we should treat Japanese players; my feeling is
that Iguchi shouldn’t even be a prospect, because he’s essentially a
major league free agent. His major league just happened to be in Japan.
As for the second comment, many of the bottom top 50 already HAVE
played in the majors–Merkin Valdez, Jesse Crain, Chris Burke, Brandon
League, Clint Nageotte just to name a few.

 Q:  Trader J from Indy asks:
– Love the top 100. How close was Jonathan Broxton? The Bull put up
some great numbers in the FSL and was rated ahead of Petit and LaRoche
in the FSL top 20.

John Manuel:
Broxton was quite close, actually in the mix from 93-107 or so, where
we really had some interesting debates. The fact his best profile might
be as a reliever helped keep him behind some others, but he’s clearly a
guy we think a lot of.

 Q:  John M. Perkins from asks:
thought the 4 Rangers were about right, but others were upset
particularly about the absence of Juan Dominguez. One claim was, if
Dominguez were a Brave, he’d have made the list. How much do Ranger
pitchers get dinged for being Rangers, or Braves bumped up for being
Braves? And similarly, how much weight do you get for being highly
drafted? The fact that Ian Kinsler is ahead of Adrian Gonzalez does
point that the original draft is not (everything).

John Manuel:
The first question is a farce; Ranger pitchers don’t get dinged for
being Rangers, or Braves extra points for being Braves. Dominguez has
serious makeup issues being addressed again in Rangers camp this
spring; that is a major strike against him. His breaking ball has
developed well though over the last year, but what’s his ceiling? Third
starter, fourth? I’m wary of fastball-changeup RHPs after my ride on
the Dewon Brazelton bandwagon. As for being highly drafted, I’d say a
player’s amateur reputation matters more than where he was drafted; a
player who had a strong amateur reputation, we probably give that guy a
longer rope after a poor season, because he probably has big tools.
Gonzalez was a signability No. 1 overall pick, though, in a terrible
draft. Meanwhile, Kinsler plays a more important defensive position and
has shown more power, so that out-weighs where they were drafted.

 Q:  Jason M. from New York City asks:
Why wasn’t Yusmeiro Petit ranked higher? I thought he’d be up in the top 30.

John Manuel:
He’s at 46, so it’s not like we disagree so much. All the pitchers
ahead of him have bigger stuff, longer track records of success at
higher levels, better bodies or some combination of those factors. I
like where we have him.

 Q:  Mike from Manassas VA asks:
How did Royals #3 prospect Mark Teahen make the Top 100, but Royals #2 prospect Denny Bautista miss the cut?

John Manuel:
Will Kimmey, who ranked the Royals, didn’t have a vote! Bautista was
quite close to making the back end of the list, but we took the
polished bat over the arm-strength, command-challenged pitcher.
Bautista is a player we had a pretty big divide on, for what it’s worth.

 Q:  Peter from San Diego, CA asks:
I think Mauer on this list is a cop-out. He’s not a rookie based on ‘time on roster’ why include him?

John Manuel:
Peter, we have our rules, and we don’t include roster service time.
Someone earlier asked about David Bush not being included, but he made
16 big league starts and threw 98 innings; that’s beyond the realm of a
prospect pretty clearly. At 100 or so ABs, I don’t think Mauer has
established himself as a major leaguer yet.

 Q:  Trent from Orange County, California asks:
How close did Dioner Navarro come to making your Top 100?

John Manuel:
Not really; he didn’t even make the Dodgers top 10. I am not a real
believer in Navarro’s bat and I’m not sure he’s an everyday catcher.
Kind of says a bit of what I think of the Yankees system considering I
ranked him fifth there, but that system and the Dodgers are just not
even comparable.

 Q:  Wayne from West Brookfield, MA asks:
Tuisasosopo had a ton of buzz after a strong showing in rookie
ball…..what seperated him from Josh Fields (who made the top
100)….was it the power difference?

John Manuel:
His future position is unsure, and he didn’t exactly tear up the
Northwest League. He was discussed, but he’s just not quite Top 100
ready. Fields has power at a premium position and had a nice debutg in
a high Class A league. He needs to control the strike zone better, but
there aren’t many 3Bs in the big leagues who can hit 20-25 homers, and
he can.

 Q:  Steve Smith from Chicago asks:
like the quality of the top prospects of the Rockies, with the top 3B,
second rated SS and LHP in the minors. Can you comment on where Ubaldo
may have rated within the RHP if he wouldnt have been hurt. How does
his stuff compare with other hard throwing RHPs?

John Manuel:
We like the Rockies system as well, major improvement in 2004. Ubaldo
Jimenez would have ranked higher if healthy, obviously, his performance
would have helped dictate where he ranks. The quote we used in the
story says it all–he was right up there with Matt Cain and Felix H. in
terms of stuff when he got hurt.

 Q:  Wayne from West Brookfield, MA asks:
to see the high rank for Hanley Ramirez….what made him jump to the
top ten this year? I figured since he had a good (not great) year….he
would stay in the mid 20s.

John Manuel:
He’s got big tools, starting with the bat, in the middle of the diamond
and peformed well at a young age in high Class A and Double-A. Also,
his improved maturity and response to authority and coaching this year
was a major step forward for him.

 Q:  Jason from Work asks:
How much more time does Felix Hernandez need in the minors?

John Manuel:
Need, or will he get? It wouldn’t hurt him to spend all or part of 2005
in the minors learning the grind more, facing advanced hitters in
Double-A and Triple-A. It sounds like he’s nnot going to get much more
time in the minors if any, maybe a month at Tacoma? He’s lighting up
Mariners camp, and I don’t know if Ryan Franklin or Jorge Campillo can
hold him off.

 Q:  Stephen Milner from Lexington, KY asks:
is your take on Phillies LHP Cole Hamels — is his drop in rankings due
primarily to his lost year, injuries, makeup, revisions in estimates of
his “upside”? I know about his recent Razzles dustup, but is there
lingering concerns about the elbow issues from 2004?

John Manuel:
He’s got some big strikes against him; Jim Callis and I both had him in
our personal Top 50s before his latest injury, an injury that really
hurts his prospect status for me because it’s evidence he’s not acting
like a professional, pure and simple. He’s got to act like a pro to be
one. Also, the missed development time doesn’t help. Neither does being
too sore to help Team USA in the fall of 2003, or too sore to pitch
much in 2004, or his arm injury in high school. There’s a pattern
developing, and I’m wary of the track record.

 Q:  Jason from Work asks:
ETA for Matt Cain in the bigs?

John Manuel:
This year; he’s also lighting up spring training with the Giants, and
though it’s early, he’s going to pitch his way into their crowded
rotation if he keeps throwing the heck out of it like he has this

 Q:  Josh from St. Pete, FL asks:
Jered Weaver have ranked ahead of Jeff Niemann (#20) if he had signed
with the Angels? If I’m not mistaken Niemann is the highest ranked
player from last year’s draft. Also, why no Delwyn Young love in the
Top 100? Left off the Dodgers Top 10 also? Is there something that I’m
not seeing because 22 Hrs for a middle infielder in the FSL is awesome.

John Manuel:
I’ve answered the first question from my standpoint (no); Young
probably isn’t a middle infielder. He’s similar to Willy Aybar in that
both are offense-first 2Bs who profile better defensively at other
positions. Young’s better power makes him the better prospect in our
estimation, and he could be a big league regular as a corner OF, but
that helps explain his absence from the Top 100.

 Q:  Jon Lasken from Clifton, VA asks:
far away was chuck tiffany from making the top 100 and what does he
project to in the majors? In a chat on the dogders it was suggested he
would actually make it.

John Manuel:
Tiffany was in the discussion a bit; lots of Dodgers were. He’s got a
stocky body and will have to watch his weight and his mechanics to make
sure he stays on top of his stuff throughout his career. That’s a
concern for me, he wasn’t in my Top 100.

 Q:  Wayne from West Brookfield, MA asks:
seperates Nick Swisher from guys ranked behind him like Brian Anderson
and Conor Jackson who most people say have a higher ceiling? Is it
Swisher’s major league job?

John Manuel:
On the plus side, he’s shown more home run power, he’s a very patient
hitter who also showed the ability last year to adjust from just
drawing walks to finding pitching to drive and then consistently
driving the ball. He’s a solid defender and will be even at 1B if he
has to move, not the case for Jackson. And he’s a switch-hitter. The
devil’s advocate side is, he’s older than those guys; unlike Anderson,
he’s not a big league CF, at least no one I’ve talked to projects him
to be a CF. Good debate, but I like Swisher’s resume better.

 Q:  Jay from Oshkosh, WI asks:
I’m biased because I’m a Brewer fan, but where are Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz in the Top 100 list?

John Manuel:
Both really just missed it; Hart looks like a solid player but not
spectacular, while Cruz had done it for one year; just not quite the
track record for the Top 100 yet, at least IMO.

 Q:  Sarub from Eugene, OR asks:
could you guys leave Ervin Santana off the Top 100 list when all he had
was a injury filled year that shouldn’t affect his long term potential.

John Manuel:
Because he was hurt twice, shoulder and elbow, and didn’t show a whole
lot of desire to come back this year, causing the Angels to question
his makeup and desire to be great? He just missed the cut, and we like
his upside, but the chances of him reaching his upside went down this
year, considerably so.

 Q:  Brighid from Washington, DC asks:
What’s with ranking Homer Bailey ahead of Kyle Davies?

John Manuel:
Better stuff, much better really, a grade or two ahead in terms of the
fastball and curveball. Davies’ best pitch is his change, but it’s the
difference between a No. 1 future guy (or No. 2), and Davies being a
future No. 3-4 guy. Yes, Bailey has a long way to go; we know the risk
inherent in a prep RHP. He’s got much more of a chance to be special
than Davies has.

 Q:  Dave from Fresno asks:
Herrera was identified as a potential “sleeper” by Jim Callis in his
latest mailbag. If Herrera were an American who had attended an
American high school do you believe he would be placed higher on the
Top 100 list? Do international prospects get underestimated as a group?

John Manuel:
I don’t know if international prospects get underestimated at higher
levels; perhaps at lower levels because we don’t know as much about
those players. I think that’s fair, but ranking prospects is all about
information, about tools, stats, makeup, etc. The less information you
have, the more guesswork you’re doing. Herrera might have placed higher
if he hadn’t had his injury in 2003, or if he had played in a
full-season league, or if he had a bigger frame, or if he had been a
first-round pick out of an American HS. They’re all factors. He also
was in the discussion late in the list.

 Q:  Michael from Wayland Ma asks:
Red Sox seem to have a lot of SS prospects, so where do you think all
of them will fit in in the futre? Position changes? Trades?

John Manuel:
Pedroia to 2b, Ramirez to CF if he’s not traded, Soto to a corner OF or
3b because he has big power potential . . . too early to tell on Lara.
Kenny Perez to 2b.

 Q:  Eric from Port Chester, NY asks:
was Ryan Howard so low? Do you suspect the Phillies will attempt to
destroy him the same way Houston does with its young hitters?

John Manuel:
He’s 24, strikes out a lot and can’t play the outfield. Otherwise,
though, the guy’s a heck of a player–huge power, soft hands and a good
defender at 1B. I don’t know what the Phillies are supposed to do with
him, though, it’s not hard to find productive, cheap 1Bs, so he’s hard
to trade.

 Q:  Heath from Lakeland, FL asks:
quickly do you see Mike Hinckley getting a shot in the Show this
season? Could he be up before the All-Star break? How effective do you
think he might be in the majors this season?

John Manuel:
Depends on the health of the rest of the Nationals rotation, but I’d
actually say he won’t be up too early otherwise, he could use another
year. If you’re asking for fantasy purposed, I don’t see Hinckley as a
guy who can really help in 2005.

 Q:  Scott from Costa Mesa, Ca asks:
Stewart from #55 to #4? what makes him better than all the other 3rd
base prospects? Is it possible for him to rank #1 next year? La Quinta
Aztec alumni!!!

John Manuel:
Stewart, even more than Marte, combines the ability to play 3b with a
polished, pure hitting ability. I’m not knocking Marte, but most scouts
like Stewart better. He could rank No. 1, he’s that good, he could be
the best position player in the minor leagues. Probably not; Joel
Guzman could pass him, Delmon Young could be better, I’m sure others
(maybe Marte or Francoeur) could pass him . . . but don’t rule it out.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Altos, CA asks:
guys like Weaver and Townsend benefit from having time off? I always
here about some college pitchers being overworked. Can this layoff for
these two actually be a plus?

John Manuel:
I don’t think the time off helps; I wrote a Prospect Pulse over the
winter about how clubs like to get their pitchers on throwing schedules
and strength programs that put them in line with other pitchers in the
organization. Townsend is working out at IMG’s facilities in Florida,
and Weaver’s throwing at the Scott Boras Corperation’s facility, so
both guys are throwing, but I think it would help more if they were in
spring training camps. I think both players would rather be in camps
too. Too much time off, I believe, counts pitchers muscle memory and
arm strength. Weaver was used very judiciously in college as well;
sorry, coach Graham, but Wade was ridden a little harder at Rice. But
he hasn’t pitched competitively since last June, and that’s not good
for anybody. Same goes for Weaver.

 Q:  Connor from Hartford, CT asks:
the more likely scenario: a) James Loney has a huge breakout year,
proving his top prospect status or b) Loney has another injury-filled
disapointing season, which takes him off these lists?

John Manuel:
I’m saying A, but good point, Connor; Loney needs to stop tantalizing
(remember last spring?) and start producing in the regular season to
keep his prospect status, and I’m sure he’s already lost that for many
people. Southern League scouts really, really liked him last summer,

 Q:  Matthias Peters-Kroll from Scottish Parliament asks:
Who has the better career, Marte or McPherson…same question regarding Capellan and Dan Meyer?

John Manuel:
Marte; McPherson is an interesting prospect, hard to get past the
power, but also the strikeouts . . . maybe he’s Adam Dunn at 3b? I’ll
take Dan Meyer personally over Capellan, who doesn’t have great
secondary stuff and might be a reliever, Meyer is pretty darn good.

 Q:  Michael from Hayward, CA asks:
never wrote a scouting report for Jeff Niemann of Tampa Bay, yet
Niemann ranks 20th on the top 100. Can you supply a brief scouting
report on Niemann regarding his strengths and weaknesses? What type of
pitcher does he project as? A starter or reliever?

John Manuel:
We’ve written tons of Niemann scouting reports in our draft coverage,
and wrote another thumbnail sketch yesterday in our Jered Weaver story.
He’s a starter, maybe the best starter available in the 2004 draft; I
certainly think so.

Moderator: And now, with 250+questions still to go, we present the 30 minute lightning round, one-sentence answers only!

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
Where is Joey Votto, man he put up some imprssive numbers. And did Thomas Pauly come close at all?

John Manuel: Neither was in the discussion, sorry.

 Q:  Paul from Camden, NJ asks:
chance given the fragility of Brian Jordan’s body and Raul Mondesi’s
mind that Jeff Francouer will get a real shot this season?

John Manuel: A very good chance, in fact, I think it will happen after the all-star break.

 Q:  Steve O from Astoria asks:
the Twins had announced Mauer was moving to third, where would he rank
then? Is he so smooth a hitter he could still be top 5, similar to
Blalock at the same age?

John Manuel: Yes, his bat is that good; I might still have ranked him No. 1 or 2.

 Q:  Sean from Seattle WA asks:
heard Kendry Morales compared to Miguel Cabrera, but he ranks pretty
far down on the top 100. Are there a wide range of opinions on his
abilities ? What is your opinion for his impact for this year and

John Manuel:
Impact for this year will be somewhat muted, the transition is
difficult, but he’s a long-term regular with power, possible all-star
corner OF or 1B.

 Q:  Jeremy from Orlando, FL asks:
long will it take for the Brewers to turn Jose Capellan into their
closer or does Capellan have a chance with his limited pitches to
succeed as a starter?

John Manuel: Prediction here is he’ll get 3 months to show progress on the secondary stuff before he winds up a dominant closer.

 Q:  Jack from Richmond County asks:
there really any question as to Felix Hernandez’s real age or is it
just because he’s South American that its an issue? Also, what type of
pitcher can he be, who would you compare him to?

John Manuel: Not much question on the age after repeated prying, and he’s in a class by himself as far as his future, he could be that good.

 Q:  Simon Boisvert from Montreal, Canada asks:
Considering they have so many prospects in the top 100, do you rank
Oakland’s system near the top this year? If not, what are they missing?

John Manuel:
Definitely high, only thing missing for me is pitching depth
(particularly LHPs), but they addressed that in the offseason through
trades. Very strong system.

 Q:  Trader j from Indy asks:
How could Joe Mauer be your #1 and not show up on the Top 20 Rookies list?

John Manuel: Because he’s not rookie-eligible, just prospect-eligible. We make a distinction re: service time.

 Q:  Nate from Marietta, OH asks:
Is Cole Hamels the next Brien Taylor?

John Manuel: No, he wasn’t the No. 1 overall pick who set a bonus record by several hundred thousand dollars.

 Q:  Ken from Alexandria, VA asks:
Given this list, is the NYM minor league system better than the NYY’s system?

John Manuel: Yes, it is, I believe that’s a consensus opinion in the halls of BA.

 Q:  Carlos from Atlanta asks:
How much of a difference is there between D. Young and J. Franceour?

John Manuel: Young has more power and better hitting ability, but not by much. It’s close. (Damn! Two sentences!)

 Q:  Todd from Eagan, MN asks:
Where would have Mike Jones, Manny Parra, and Chris Saenz ranked if at all if they were healthy this year.

John Manuel:
Parra might have made the Top 100 with his Double-A success, but the
other two are biggest question marks for injuries (Jones) and track
record (Saenz, who has never dominated).

 Q:  Todd from Linden, MI asks:
and thanks for your insights. Don’t want to be a Ranger Hater, but to
my limited knowledge, they don’t have a sterling track record for
‘growing’ good, young pitching. With that said, what is your opinion on
the future of Diamond and Danks? Can they contribute anytime soon? Can
they do it as Rangers? Thanks.

John Manuel: Grady Fuson’s influence makes me think they can be better than the average Rangers pitching prospect.

 Q:  Chris Olson from Washington, DC asks:
sort of ceiling do you see for Michael Aubrey? With his injury issues,
how long do you think it might be until he gets a call from Cleveland?
Thanks for helping me get through the rest of my work week!

John Manuel: Sean Casey kind of player.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Would Billy Butler rank higher on the list if not for his defensive limitations? Is Butler a DH waiting to happen?

John Manuel: Definitely, if he could play 3b, he’d rank higher, but he’s a 1B or DH.

 Q:  John from Burlington, Ky asks:
Why is Greg Miller so low? Is his shoulder that much of a concern, and does he still have a chance to be a #1 starter?

John Manuel: Because he’s had two shoulder surgeries and missed a whole year of development.

 Q:  Joe from NYNY asks:
Quiroz given the edge over Russell Martin because he is closer to the
majors? No doubt Quiroz is the better defensive catcher, but it seems
that there is still some debate over just how well he’™ll hit (at least
for average), while Martin is a decent (and improving) defender with a
more well rounded offensive game.

John Manuel:
1) better defense at a position where defense remains very important in
the profile and (2) solid offensive potential. It’s pretty close.

 Q:  Josh from Carrollton, GA asks:
see LHP Jake Stevens made your top 100, what’s your opinion on this
very young LHP? Also, it’s good to see Kyle Davies getting some love!!

John Manuel: I’m a big Stevens guy and actually like him better than Davies.

 Q:  louis from texas asks:
good is rockies Chris nelson, and when do u project him to be in the
majors. Also do u believe nelson would have been the number 1 overall
pick if he was not injured

John Manuel:
As I’ve said I like him; the Padres didn’t consider him a No. 1 kind of
guy, more of a value pick at Nos. 8-11 or so, so they didn’t bear down
on him. Then their ownership helped foul up the pick.

 Q:  Todd from Linden, MI asks:
What do you foresee as Billy Butler’s peak upside? Will he push Teahen out from 3B? If so, when?

John Manuel: Won’t push Teahen, ultimate upside is like a righthanded Travis Hafner type.

 Q:  Andy C. from Charlottesville, VA asks:
all know the Milledges, Francoeurs, etc. (and then the next level with
Gutierrez, Pie) as very toolsy kids with high upside. Who are some of
the lesser known sleepers with amazing tools in lower levels not on the
top 100 list that could potentially make large impacts?

John Manuel:
Javi Herrera is one. Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Josh Burrus, Braves; Marcus
Sanders, Giants; Yuber Rodriguez, Blue Jays; Greg Golson, Phillies;
Marcos Vecchionacci, Yankees. There are some good candidates.

 Q:  Ted from Wilmington, DE asks:
OK – I know it’s a BIG assumption, but assuming he was both mentally
& physically ready to go…..would Josh Hamilton garner attention
for the Top 100 list, or has he been away from the game too long? The
last article run by BA a few weeks ago appeared that he might be making
strides on getting his life back together. Any update on his status?
Thanks John.

John Manuel: Not for me, let’s see him get his life together first.

 Q:  Craig M from Los Angeles asks:
appears that Dodger fans should keep tabs on their AA team in
Jacksonville, will be that be the most talented team in the minors this
year with, Guzman, Billingsley, LaRoche, Young and probably Loney on
the team?

John Manuel: That team should be absolutely loaded, I agree completely.

 Q:  Jim-Beau from left coast asks:
not for 1.) being rushed; 2.) an injury on the big club ; and 3.) a few
extra ABs costing them their possible eligibility for the Top 100,
where might Phillips, Peralta and Sizemore have landed. [And position
or no position, Garko will probably out hit more than half of the
hitters on the list. Its not like Conor Jackson or Ryan Howard are GG
candidates. Garko should have made the list.] As always, thanks for the

John Manuel:
I’ll just take the Garko part of the question–we love Garko as a
player and as a person, but he’s just not a Top 100 type of player if
he’s a 400 at-bats, platoon guy without a full-time position.

 Q:  Matt from Sarasota asks:
following Jon Papelbon for a year down here, I really think this kid
has the potnetial to be a number one starter in the bigs. He might have
been a little older for the Sally League but it was only his first year
of full time starting. What do you think the future holds for me as a
pitcher and with the Red Sox organization?

John Manuel: Jim Callis and I disagree quite a bit on Papelbon, he’s with you, I’m just not quite there.

 Q:  steve S from Davis, CA asks:
comparison to other RHPs, this may be the highest Matt Cain ranks on
any list. I hope you are right, but I am bit skeptical. Can you explain
why Cain is ranked ahead of both Miller and Billingsly?

John Manuel: I like Cain’s fastball command better and his knockout breaking ball.

 Q:  Ryan from Ma asks:
Any reason to belive that Brandn Moss can put up the numbers he did last year, or was last year more of a fluke year.

John Manuel: Again, I disagree with Jim, he’s more sanguine on the Sox’ prospects than I am, and that includes Moss.

 Q:  Blair from Greater Los Angeles Anaheim asks:
John, thanks for the chat as always. Why aren’t the Angels even
considering Casey Kotchman as their DH this year. Why wouldn’t they put
him there over DaVanon, Rivera, Quinlan, etc. There’s been so much talk
about Kendry Morales even starting there over Kotchman. If they aren’t
going to use him, why wouldn’t they trade him? Thanks again.

John Manuel:
I can’t answer that one, I don’t see why he’s not a lock for the major
league club, but the options they have are actually pretty solid,
particularly Morales and Quinlan.

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
What happened within the last 4 months to cause you to flop Hill and League as the top Blue Jay prospect?

John Manuel:
We just see League as having a higher ceiling as either a very solid
starter, No. 2 type of guy, or dominant closer, as opposed to Aaron
Hill, who’s average across the board. Hill’s makeup is also a
significant factor for him as a positive, it could have gone either way.

 Q:  Kyle from Rockford, IL asks:
question is an attempt to more clearly understand your list. Can you
give a ‘Readers Digest’ overview of how you actually rank and compare
the players. I know that age and level are considered. Is it a
combination of actual stats achieved plus theoretical upside? Does the
position and team affect the ranking? For example, because Oakland not
only has Dotel, but also J. Garcia, then H. Street is lower in
expectations and rankings. Is that a factor? Thanks, it’s interesting
to catch a glimpse of how the experts look at these guys.

John Manuel: I wrote a Prospect Pulse on just this subject which will be part of this Top 100 package online this weekend.

 Q:  Bill from Denver, CO asks:
Will Adam Loewen ever live up to his hype and huge signing bonus?

John Manuel: signs point to no

 Q:  Larry from Long Island, NY asks:
I am a Yankee fan giddy over the fact that the Mets got fleeced in the
Kazmir trade, I still take interest in him seeing as how my team can’t
come within spitting distance of prospects like him. Out of curiosity
— given his size, age and violent pitching action, do you see Kazmir
more as a starter or closer type? I can’t help but think Kazmir will
eventually flame-out as a starter or suffer an arm injury.

John Manuel: My money’s on dominant starter.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw, Georgia asks:
I ordered my prospect handbook from another source and it said it would
be delivered on MAY 3rd. Shameless plug time, when does the book come
out? Thanks for the chat

John Manuel: Books were shipped out this week to those who pre-ordered.

 Q:  Kiley McDaniel from Odessa, FL asks:
much did Chad Orvella, Reid Brignac, and Elijah Dukes miss the Top 100
by? Dukes and Orvella seem like the high ceiling guys that usually
sneak on the back end of the Top 100. And who do you see as a comp for
these guys?

John Manuel: Brignac was close for me, Orvella too, not Dukes because of the makeup (sense a recurring theme here for me?).

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
Love the chats. Is there any prospect with greater power potential than Brian Dopirak?

John Manuel: Delmon Young, Joel Guzman, Dallas McPherson, Prince Fielder all very comparable if not better.

 Q:  arthur kreisberg from brooklyn asks:
would you place Ambiorix Conception, and Shawn Bowman? Ambiorix is
better than some of your bottom 50, that I have seen, and the Mets
consider Bowman a better than average prospect.

John Manuel:
Bowman probably needs more love; we might be a little slow recognizing
his athleticism and bat. I’m not a believer in Ambiorix, do it in
full-season ball.

 Q:  Brad from Fort Wayne, IN asks:
the chats, thank you. I was just curious on nic jackson’s omission, I
am sure it is because of unjury concerns, but do you still view him as
a top 100 prospect?

John Manuel: Uh, yeah, that and the fact he was mediocre the last time he was healthy in 2003; he didn’t make the Cubs Top 30.

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
How close did Billy Petrick come to making the top 100? I’m sure Jim Callis was pulling for him…

John Manuel: He actually wasn’t, and I was, he came close but no cigar.

 Q:  Robert from Warwick, RI asks:
Ramirez at Number 10. I notice off a first glance that the sox have 3?
prospects in the top 100. Any chance of them, at this time being
considered one of the teams with a top 10 Farm?

John Manuel: No, not much depth there, and as I’ve said, Jim’s more sanguine on the organization than I am.

 Q:  Daniel Pelletier from Livermore Falls, ME asks:
is Ian Kinsler ranked so low in the top 100? Do you think his 2004
season was a fluke or do you think he is gonna develop into an above
average 2B’men?

John Manuel:
Because he’s done it once, and I think we all want to see him do it
again. I do think he’ll be an above-average 2B down the line, though.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
Braves generally don’t overhype their prospects. However, the
organization seems quite confident that Luis Hernandez can take over
the ss position when Furcal leaves via free agency this winter. Does BA
have this same confidence since he didn’t make the Top 100? He doesn’t
get much acknowledgement for his season at High A while being one of
the youngest.

John Manuel: We like Hernandez, he was in the discussion for the top 100.

John Manuel:
With more than 200 questions still in the queue, I’m going to have to
call a halt to the proceedings. I’d like to thank everyone for the
questions, this was a lot of fun, and thanks for your attention and
interest in BA. Jim Callis chats Top 100 on Monday on, check
it out at 4 p.m. Eastern. Thanks.