New York Mets: Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Manuel

New York Mets: Chat

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
I liked what I've seen from Joe Smith during last year's ST, and he's been up and down in the system ever since (ala Pelfrey). How close was he to making your list?

John Manuel: Welcome to my first Mets chat. We're in, what, year seven of the Prospect Handbook now, and I'm on yet another new organization. The Mets join the Brewers, Athletics, Reds, Tigers, Giants, Rangers, Blue Jays, Twins and Yankees as org top 30s that I've written at one time or another, which I believe gives me, with 10, the most orgs written up in the BA Top 30 era. Take that, Jim Callis!

John Manuel: All kidding aside the Mets were fun to do because I knew very little about the organization's players going in. One I knew something about was Smith, because I got to see him on TV this year like the rest of us. I have to say, I was underwhelmed, and so were the people I talked to about him. Not that he wasn't a good pick--he was serviceable in jumping from Wright State to the major leagues. That's pretty impressive. But how much better can his stuff get? The consensus seems to be, "not much." He throws harder than the average sidearm or submarine pitcher, but his changeup's fringy, he doesn't really have a weapon against lefthanded hitters, and he didn't make great adjustments after getting off to a great start. He's in the 30 and he's fairly high in the 11-20 range, but for me, his ceiling is that of a sixth- or seventh-inning reliever; the chances of him being a closer or even a top setup man are close to zero for closing and low for top-flight, eighth-inning setup guy. So he didn't make the 10.

 Q:  Steve from Las Vegas asks:
How Close was it between Martinez and Guerra...and what do you guess is Guerra's Ceiling? #2 starter...who would you compare him to?

John Manuel: Pretty close, Steve. Guerra kind of had the better year for me, because the velocity started to come on. I don't mean to alarm Mets fans, but frankly he reminds me of Mike Pelfrey in that he's a big RHP with velocity and a fastball-changeup combination, but the breaking ball is a real question. Fastball-changeup righthanders is not a good profile if you do not command the fastball; Pelfrey was supposed to command the fastball but he hasn't as a pro and the breaking ball hasn't developed. With Guerra, the breaking ball has shown some signs but it's going to be average, not a putaway pitch. The life on his pitches and command of his fastball will determine if he reaches that No. 2 ceiling; I don't quite see him as a No. 1.

 Q:  Paul from Idaho asks:
Did Mike Pelfrey pitch too many innings to qualify for this list?

John Manuel: Yes. Had he been eligible, it would have been interesting to see what others thought about him. I didn't even ask anyone about him knowing that he wasn't eligible, but off the top of my head, I don't imagine he'd rank higher than fourth, and in some ways I'd rather have Kevin Mulvey, who has the fearlessness to throw fastballs in fastball counts and the command to get outs with it. I'm pretty impressed by Mulvey's season the more I dive into it, though I still see him as more of a No. 4 starter than a No. 3. Pelfrey might end up a reliever if he doesn't throw more strikes with his fastball.

 Q:  Marty from Westfield, NJ asks:
Dan Murphy came out of nowhere to prosper at St. Lucie in 2007. Is he projected to be a major league third baseman? How do you rate Evans,Carp and Duda and do any project out to be the Mets' first baseman of the future?

John Manuel: Marty, Murphy sort of came out of nowhere; he was a pretty darn good college hitter at Jacksonville, and we notice college players who hit .398, it's kind of our job. He didn't really come close to making the top 10 because pretty much everyone I talked to inside and outside the organization questions his ability to stay at third base and his power potential. He may have to move to first or an outfield corner, and he's probably not the slugger most teams are looking for there. He's a very good hitter and a grinder, two good traits; he's not the most well-rounded player. He's hitting in Hawaii as well, and for some power. The more I wrote about him and looked through my notes, the more I liked him, but his defense is a real question.

John Manuel: I'd take Murphy over all those guys in a 1B of the future race, though. Let's see Duda do it again; dude slugged .410 in college with metal. .410!!! In three seasons! That's a big sample size. Carp's star has slipped somewhat, there's no doubt, he's not looking like a regular because he absolutely cannot hit lefthanded pitching. Evans is the best of that 1B trio (other than Murphy) because he works counts and can hit for power. Power is really his only plus tool, but he gets to his power, which is more than really any other Mets prospect can say.

 Q:  Steve from Las Vegas asks:
I got to see Humber pitch twice last year...I saw him hit 94 a few times in Vegas...but it was a rare occurance...will his velocity ever return, and can he still be a #3 starter in the bigs? (he did rip a nice triple at the plate in Vegas)

John Manuel: I'm sure Philip did hit a 94 here or there, but he didn't pitch with the consistent 55 or 60 velocity he used to (on the 20-80 scale). He was solid average; in other words, what was once a plus pitch became an average pitch on a consistent basis. One of the pitching people I talked to insisted Humber has more in there the further he gets away from surgery but that he focused on learning to pitch this year. I'll buy that to an extent, but while I think a No. 3 starter ceiling is still possible, the chances are dropping every year. Not horrible chances but not what they once were; honestly, I wouldn't bet on it.

 Q:  Marty from Clark, NJ asks:
Do any of the Binghamton outfielders other than Martinez, such as Stewart, Coles or Hill project out as major league outfielders and did any come close to cracking the top 10? What about Clark, Maldonado, Wabick or Carrera further down in low A? Are the Mets ready to give up on Danny Stegall-lots of tools, but no production.

John Manuel: More from Marty; Marty Noble maybe? I've talked to Marty many times in my 11 years at BA and still have yet to meet him in person; that's on me. Anyway, no, outfield is not a strength in the Mets system, and while I once liked Jamar Hill, he's got slider bat speed and is really a minor league slugger, not a major league one. The OFs you mentioned that got some support in or out of the organization were Carrera, who is a 4th OF profile, a better version of Coles with more speed, plate discipline and CF defense; and Maldonado, who has some juice. Depending on which version of the top 30 I send Jim Callis, Carrera is either barely in or barely out. none of the rest made it. Stegall is extremely raw still; I wouldn't give up on him, and really his stats are relatively meaningless, he needs ABs. Now, if he doesn't do anything production-wise next year, then you can start writing him off, but he was pretty far behind his peers.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
After an impressive 2006, it seems as though Carp's stock has fallen somewhat. What does he need to do to get back on track, and is he still a Top 30 guy?

John Manuel: Carp needs to hit LHPs. We had a quote from Rick Down in a spring training org report about how well he hung in against LHPs, but he had a .418 OPS against them this year, and he's never hit them well at lower levels either. He's looking like a platoon player. You can excuse him a bit for the rest of his season; he hit RHPs decently enough for his age in that league. But if he can't hit LHPs, he's just not a regular. He is still in the 30.

 Q:  Tyler from Cranford, NJ asks:
Where did Pellot, Coronado, Lagares, Veloz and Bouchard project out as middle infielders and do any have enough upside to reach the majors. How about Ventura, Vaughn, Lucas and Lutz at third base? Will we see any emerge as the next Dan Murphy in 2008?

John Manuel: The Mets have quantity in the IF, and Tyler hit on a lot of them. Coronado didnt' make the list this year; Lagares had a bad year but is younger and has much more offensive upside, so he's on. Pellot didn't make it; scouts outside the org that I talked to didn't have much good to say about him. Veloz, however, is probably my personal favorite Mets prospect. Found a scout who really liked him at Kingsport; you'll have to buy the book for the scouting report because that one was really hard to get. Lutz had one pro AB and it's just hard to know how he'll react with wood bats; just not enough data with him. Lucas is a grinder who needs time but has a chance, and the V boys are just guys in my eyes. None of those guys is as good a hitter as Murphy, though Lutz fits the profile best.

 Q:  Louis from Summit, Nj asks:
Do any of the Mets catchers in Low A, namely, Pena, McGraw or Jacobs project out as the catcher of the near future or will the Mets be looking at free agents into the next decade?

John Manuel: No; all those guys are far away, especially Pena. McCraw and Jacobs aren't seen as regulars. Catcher is a black hole in this system, so the Mets are looking at free agents for the near-term. Let's not go decade on this, who knows who they may draft.

 Q:  Clark from Plainfield,NJ asks:
Do any of the Mets 2007 college pitchers that played in Brooklyn appear to be on the fast track, such as Gee, Owens, Antinori, Morgan, McDonald, Clyne or Leaper? What about Holtzcom or Durkin? They seemed to throw hard but no production.

John Manuel: Yeah, like, all of them, because the Mets push their prospects. Clyne is the best bet to get on the fast track because he's the most certain reliever of the bunch, and the Mets already like his aptitude; he took to some changes they made. He might end up being a better version of Joe Smith because he's shown aptitude for the changeup; I ranked Smith ahead of him but Clyne has a higher ceiling. Clyne also is just six months younger and Smith has pitched in the big leagues, so I ranked Smith higher. McDonald will be given a chance to start even though he relieved very well; he was close to making the 30, didn't quite make it, I went with Owen who has less stuff but more of a chance to be a starter because of his command. Not a Holdzkom guy and so disappointed about Matt Durkin's career, but he is not a hard thrower anymore according to the scouts I talked to. Man, I liked that guy at San Jose State.

 Q:  Mike from Watchung, NJ asks:
Will any of the four young prospects that the Mets traded last year, Butera, Henry, Castro or Martin, be stars that got away?

John Manuel: Not that I can see, not stars. Martin has the best chance to be a regular because he can hit and does a little bit of everything. Maybe I'm selling Henry short though, he's a nice all-around guy but I believe more in Martin's bat.

 Q:  Steven Alengakis from NYC asks:
Hi Jim, I'm a big Yankees fan, but I know many Mets fans and I keep telling them that due to their lack of pitching in the minors -- especially the high minors -- that their future might be extremely bleak. Of course, they don't see it that way. With their current pitching prospects and Mike Pelfrey not quite the sure thing he once seemed to be, how do you see the Mets' pitching looking next year and in the immediate future? Compared to other organizations, are their pitching prospects significantly lagging?

John Manuel: Yiasou kyria Alengakis. Ti kanete? I don't know the Greek word for "Anyhoo . . . " unless it's, "Ade . . . " So, yes, you're wrong. The Mets have pitching; they're where the Yankees where 2-3 years ago, and I think I can make that comp because I've done the Yankees list for a while (4th year in a row now). Three years ago the Yankees' only upper level hitter was Robby Cano (I'm the dope who ranked Eric Duncan ahead of him), but they had low-level pitching. In Carlos Gomez and F-Mart, the Mets have two possible star hitters (the Yanks 3 years ago had Melky Cabrera in low A, he made the top 10 that year). The Yankees' pitchers were pretty much all far away expect Chien-Ming Wang, who was No. 10 back then due to his injuries and the fact he didn't throw that ridiculous sinker that he does now. But the Mets had a good draft on the pitching side this year, very good--I ranked 7 of their draftees in the top 30 and three others just missed. Plus they have Mulvey, who's not that different from Ian Kennedy (though he is different and not as good, to be clear). The Mets also, like the Yankees were 3 years ago, are reliant for upside guys on the international side and conservative in the draft. That has changed for the Yanks, and I believe it will change for the Mets. Also, if you're talking immediate future, the Mets' big league rotation has two key guys entering their prime in Main and O. Perez, so I don't think the Mets' immediate pitching future is bleak. Pelfrey and Humber and Mulvey are all key to that future, though; one has to break through and become a reliable member of the rotation.

 Q:  Bob N. from Long Island, NY asks:
Why is Carlos Gomez on the list? Didn't he spend too many days on the 25-man roster to be considered a prospect?

John Manuel: Ok, that last answer was super-long; here's a short one. We don't use service time, just ABs, he had fewer than 130 so he's eligible.

John Manuel: Thanks Bob in Long Island . . . 718-937-6666 . . . sorry, just feel like it's me here, you there, schmoozing S-P-O-R-T-S . . .

 Q:  Auggie from Anaheim asks:
John, I'm intrigued, like most, by what the future might hold for a guy like Guerra. Obviously he's still young and has projection, but I see BA stopped short of giving an actual projection, ie. 'Ace', front line starter, etc. From what you've seenheard about him, what are your personal thoughts on where he winds up when all is said and done, #1, 2, bust?

John Manuel: It's almost useless to project on a guy that hasn't pitched 100 innings in a season yet. He's not close to big league ready; what distinguishes the major leagues is the grind, 162 games, taking the ball every fifth day and giving your team a chance to win every fifth day. Guerra can't even do that in the FSL yet. Now he's 18; they are handling him carefully and that's smart. But for me, there's too much projection left to say "ace" or "no ace." I have to guess because we're ranking prospects here, and we put a number on every guy and we do these chats to explain why we put that number on that guy. But I wouldn't say bust at all; I mean, he's No. 2. I think the ceiling is No. 2 starter because he has two plus pitches, and it might be two 70s (fastball & change) when it's said and done, and if he has average command of them, he'll be a really good big league starter.

 Q:  Chad from London asks:
Said by the organization to have Reyes-like potential last spring, SS prospect Juan Lagares was pushed to Low-A as an 18 year-old this season and predictably struggled. What is the organzation saying about him now, and how does he compare to other young middle-infield prospects Veloz and Tejada?

John Manuel: Anyone who put Reyes on him is being unfair to Legares; he's a much taller frame, just a different player. He is athletic; he has tools. He's been rushed because the Mets have high hopes for him. Everyone in and out of the org recognizes the tools but scouts outside the org preach patience more than the Mets are with their young players. Lagares ranked third of those three; Ruben Tejada and Veloz were my two favorite guys to write about, both very interesting hitters with all-around tools, both far away.

 Q:  Mike from Harrisburg, PA asks:
Does Kevin Tomasiewicz have a chance to be lefty out of the Mets' pen someday? And what happened to Mike Devaney this season?

John Manuel: Tomasiewicz is a lefty with a breaking ball, so yes to the former. Devaney is Devaney; he's got a 30 fastball. His margin for error is so slim . . . nice org guy but that's really it. I can't name one RHP in the majors whe came up with a 30 fastball. Hoffman and Maddux might have 30 velo now, but they are 20 years older than Devaney, you know?

 Q:  Jim from Philly asks:
What can you tell us about recent international signee Wilmer Flores? The Mets called him the top international player from this year's class. Do you expect the organization to push him as aggressively as they have been doing with their top talents, and perhaps start him in Low-A? Thanks.

John Manuel: Flores is the guy I ranked the highest; some outside the organization like Jefry Marte better because of the power potential, but man, the Mets are pretty convinced Flores will hit, and he's an athlete. He will be pushed; he held his own in instructional league, and while the Mets have a glut of infielders at the lower levels, I believe we will see Flores either at Brooklyn or Savannah next year. He may be at 3b, fighting Lutz and Lucas or Nick Giarraputo for PT, but his ceiling is considerably higher than all those jokers. Marte also might be a factor though, and Veloz could play 3B while the other SSs (like Coronado, Tejada, Lagares, etc.) vie for time at SS.

 Q:  Mr. Must-See TV from NYC asks:
If you were running the Mets, which ones of the following prospects would you keep because they will be just that good: Pelfrey, Milledge, Gomez, Martinez, Mulvey, or Deolis.

John Manuel: Easier to say who I'd deal; I'd deal Milledge and make room for Gomez, who is more dynamic and has less baggage. Pelfrey's a tough call but I'd give him a whirl and tell him to take a page from Denzel Washington in "Training Day" and man up and challenge hitters with his fastball. Easy for me to say in my house in the suburbs of course . . . I'd trade any of those guys if a major league star was offered in return though. The Mets are built to win now and have the money to win now and replenish the farm system for the future if they so desire. The point isn't to have a great farm system. The point is to win in the major leagues.

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
It seems to me that while the top Mets prospects don't seem as strong as they did a year ago, the depth of the organization has improved over last year. Last year, once you got beyond the top 10, there wasn't much there, but this year there are some pretty decent prospects such as Scott Moviel, Nick Carr, and Joe Smith that didn't make the top 10. What is your assessment of the depth of the organization compared to a year ago.

John Manuel: Great point Lance; I left guys out of the 30 that I thought for sure would make it when I first took the assignment of doing the Mets. Like Nick Evans--to me, he took a step forward, but there's so much new talent from the draft and internationally that he didn't move up in the top 30. It's a deeper system than it was a year ago, but let's not get carried away; there's not much help at the upper levels and the hitting talent in the system is quite thin.

 Q:  A.J. from Brooklyn, NY asks:
Who's a good comp for Hector Pellot? He showed some progress with the stick this year in a second tour of the SAL.

John Manuel: I'm not a huge Pellot fan; he didn't make the 30. He doesn't have a plus tool and isn't even average across the board, so for me he's an org guy.

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
How close were Scott Moviel and Nick Carr to making the top 10?

John Manuel: Very close, and on different days, I had Moviel in the 10. Again, the lack of a breaking ball held me back, maybe it's just me but I just need to see some semblance of a breaking ball in an RHP, and that's his third pitch by far. Carr has better stuff right now but Moviel has the better body and higher ceiling. I like Carr though, big arm, future reliever probably but it's wicked stuff, both are 11-20.

 Q:  Jordan from Queens, NY asks:
Tough season for Francisco Pena. Does being so young give him a bit of an excuse? Where does he rank in your top 30, and do you still think he has a legit shot to be the player they thought they were signing?

John Manuel: I decided to give him a mulligan but it was a brutal year. Ismael Cruz, the Mets' int'l scouting director, told me that his father also signed Tony Pena and insists Tony Pena was build like Francisco at the same age, i.e., he had cankles and wasn't looking like an athlete. (I said cankles; Ismael Cruz did not say cankles, but two scouts I talked to about Pena did so I'm saying cankles. Cankles.)

John Manuel: He's got to get in better shape to be a prospect though; I left him in the 11-20 range, but put it this way--he's supposed to be a power guy, and Lagares out-slugged him. He has one above-average "now" tool supposedly, and that's power, and the .210-hitting 18 year old shortstop out-slugged him. So really he needs a do-over.

 Q:  Casey from NJ asks:
The Mets had some intriguing guys in the GCL, led by SS Ruben Tejada, who as a 17-year old hit .364 in the VZL with 16 stolen bases and three homers and then .283 in the GCL with tremendous plate discipline (19 walks to 16 strike outs in the GCL). What do you know about him, as well as some of the other guys, including 18-year old Australian Stefan Welch, who played well in the GCL?

John Manuel: He did lead their intriguing guys in the GCL, Casey, at least he did for me. He's from Panama, he does have a polished plate approach and he isnt' overpowered at the plate or awed by anything. The game is hard enough to play; if you're timid or scared to fail, well, then you're done. He's not afraid, it sounds like. (I should see if we can come up with some kind of stat to quantify 'fear' or 'fearlessness' or 'moxie.') Tejada's in the top 30 for sure. Welch can hit and is supposed to be a 3b but the Mets have a lot of those at the lower levels, so he's probably going to play 1b and 3b next year, likely at Brooklyn. Bat's his best tool, let's see how the power comes, but he's a grinder and has a feel for the barrel, good call, he's a name to keep an eye on.

 Q:  A.J. from Brooklyn, NY asks:
Lucas Duda, Dylan Owen, Jason Jacobs, and Ezequiel Carrera all put up interesting lines in the low minors this year. What can you share about their tools and overall potential?

John Manuel: AJ, you'll have to buy the book. I will say three of those guys made the top 30, with Jacobs on the outside looking in. Duda probably has the highest ceiling thanks to his lefthanded power.

 Q:  Alex from Bayside asks:
As you mentioned, they signed 15 international amateurs this season, led by Wilmer Flores. How does that class look, and who stands out? Thanks for the chat.

John Manuel: It looks good, with two of its members in the top 30, Carlos Puello just missing, and most of those players just getting started in Dominican instructional league. Had we done this top 30 in January, the list would have been different, probably, because instructs in the DR is 40-50 games and gives a much better window for evaluation of that class.

John Manuel: And you're welcome for the chat.

 Q:  Gary from NJ asks:
I know everyone hypes up Martinez but it seems as if his tools have not made the transition into stats, when can we start seeing results and what MLB player can we compare him to?

John Manuel: I don't think we're hyping him; we're saying he has the highest ceiling of anyone in the system, but we consistently present his flaws as well. Hype would be saying, "Are you serious? He's a diaper dandy! Scintillating! Sensational!" We aren't doing that, I don't believe.

John Manuel: I guess you want him to dominate at Double-A as an 18-year-old. I thought he did very well offensively this year considering his age and league; .713 OPS at his age in a league with a .736 average OPS. Also, he had a hand problem. It sounds like I'm making excuses but I'm presenting the facts. Let's see what he does healthy over a full year. I believe he's going to resemble Carlos Lee more than anyone else; I know that's an odd comp, but I saw Carlos in the Sally League in 1995, and he could run, he was a lithe athlete . . . now he's a big league masher, and all his value is in his bat. F-Mart for me will be that kind of player.

 Q:  fred from Columbus OH asks:
Who Is a Better Prospect Balester or Mulvey and who has more upside?

John Manuel: I'd say Balester because the fastball is better--better velo, better action, and the secondary stuff is average for Balester as it is for Mulvey. The Mets say Mulvey's slider is plus; those outside the org are less sanguine about it.

 Q:  Seth from Central Coast asks:
I've heard mixed things about Fernando Martinez...and especially questions about his power and arm. How does F-Mart compare to Carl Crawford in the bigs? Is his speed that good, and does he have more than 10-20 HR power in the MLB?

John Manuel: He's absolutely nothing like Carl Crawford; now Carlos Gomez is, with a better arm, frankly. I love to watch Gomez play, but he has to find that line between aggressiveness and plate discipline. F-Mart is going to be a masher, not a Crawford type at all.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
9-1 in 13 games started with a 1.49 ERA. Is Dylan Owen really that good? He was at Brooklyn in 2007. Does he go to Savannah ,skip a level to high A, or maybe even jump to AA Binghamton?

John Manuel: Of course he's not that good, but he is the classic short RHP with great control--heck, even command--that is easy to root for and who dominates the low minors. He has a plus pitch in his breaking balls--he has a feel for spinning it and locating his curve and slider. So he's got a chance, but it's a back-of-the-rotation, No. 5 chance. I doubt he'll move that fast but let's see what he does in spring training.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Being a Georgetown University graduate (forget I live in Georgetown, Delaware) I'm interested in fellow alumni Matt Bouchard. It seems he is good defensively, fast, and hit .267 for Brooklyn. Does he have any weaknesses other than a below average arm?

John Manuel: Karl doubles up . . . Bouchard has some tools, as I wrote about in the Mets' draft report card, but he's not spectacular. I'd say his weakness is offense, he's just not an impact offensive player, not a lot of pop, more of a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter, he and Richey (the SS out of Northwestern State) are both 31-40 guys and join the crowded house at SS inthe lower levels, I wouldn't be shocked if one or both of those guys were skipped up to St. Lucie or even Binghamton next year.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
What happened to Ambiorix Concepcion? He obviously wasn't the 2nd Coming of Vladimir Guerrero. Do you see him making it to the BIGS with another club?

John Manuel: He was older than he let on, and he didn't control the strike zone. He was a fraud, and worse, by faking his age, he perpetrated the fraud. No good.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Did the Mets spend their $1,650,000 wisely when the inked Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte & Cesar Puello to deals? Which of the three has the best tools?

John Manuel: Early returns are positive but you know, none of those guys have played one game in a U.S. league yet. Let's wait until they do to pass judgment.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Did Brahiam Maldonado make the Mets Top 20? He looks like a pretty good player (moving up the organizational ladder).

John Manuel: No but he has some hitting and athletic ability; nothing stands out and he doesn't control the strike zone but he could become a guy. He didn't make the 30.

 Q:  Dan from Jersey asks:
Secret's out throughout the league... F. Mart has no defensive skills! Given this, wouldn't it be wise for the Mets to switch his position to either LF or 1B now, and cut off two more years of developement as he would be sure to struggle with learning how to play those positions at a higher level? I've heard scouts say he's like watching Manny in CF... that's bad.

John Manuel: Wonder where that secret got out . . . oh, right, it was here, in Chris Kline's Scouts' View! I agree that the Mets should go ahead and move F-Mart to LF, but at the same time, I see the value of leaving him in CF, because if he gets better, he has more trade value and you have to take that into consideration as well. By the way, if you watched the playoffs, Manny didn't exactly stink in LF. When he's focused he can play defense in LF just fine, not well but good enough. F-Mart is about the age that Manny was when he was drafted, so he can get better. I'm just surprised how judgmental people get on an 18-year-old. Give F-Mart a chance! Free F-Mart!

 Q:  Brian from NYC asks:
Simple enough, is there anyone in this system that can have an impact on the 2008 team?

John Manuel: Gomez and Humber for sure, especially Gomez, and I wouldn't have ranked Kunz that high if I didn't think he had a chance to contribute in 2008.

 Q:  Matt from Cardiff, UK asks:
Hi John, where do you think the Mets would rank among the systems? It seems like a lot of their guys took steps backward this year

John Manuel: When you do an organization you usually are higher than everyone else on it or lower. I'm a bit higher on the Mets than I thought I would be but that's because I went hard after the younger Latin prospects in my research and reporting. They are probably in the 15-20 range because they have talent but it's all quite far away.

 Q:  Shawn from Wisconsin asks:
I have heard Ruben Tejeda compared to other SS's such as Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes. What kind of ceiling does he actually have and do you think he can make the kind of impact that those two young stars have made?

John Manuel: Not sure who said that but that's silly. Tejada can hit but he doesn't have superstar potential like those guys because he lacks their power. Ruben Tejada is a good prospect but he's not in that category, period.

 Q:  Dan from Jersey asks:
I loved watching Deolis Guerra in the Futures Game. Kudos to MLB and ESPN for airing that for us Prospect Geeks. What current Major League pitcher would you compare him to?

John Manuel: How about kudos to BA--that game was our idea, and we help pick the teams, Dan, have since the first game. Guerra as I've said resembles Pelfrey in his repertoire and shortcomings. he's got more time to get better and to do it in the "hot glare" of St. Lucie rather than New York.

 Q:  Juan from Union NJ asks:
Is it safe to say the Mets realize they have missed out on some top talent by not going over the slot recommended by the comish. Will they now spend big money on the draft like the big market team that they are?

John Manuel: That is safe to say it. I believe it's still up to ownership but I do believe the Mets will be more aggressive in the '08 draft. Let's face it--the owners built a new park with Selig's help and they want an all-star game, and Omar owes Selig for his first GM job in Montreal. They were good citizens for a reason; now they have to decide if they can still afford to be good citizens.

 Q:  Adam from NYC asks:
What player not in the top 10 could really breakout next year? Any sleeper prospects that might push for a call-up in 2008?

John Manuel: Tejada is one; I like Phillips Orta, the draft-and-follow out of Western Nebraska CC; but my favorite guy is Veloz, I see him going back to the SAL and hitting for some power, putting up power-speed numbers there and getting on his way to being an offensive force.

 Q:  Merkado from White Plains, NY asks:
What would be the downside of giving Daniel Murphy a shot at 2B instead of 1B? His defense at 3B hasn't been what it should, but it wasn't that bad. Wouldn't his bat and athletic ability play better at 2B, which will likely be an open spot on the major league club in the near future? One would have to think that Fernando Martinez would be the best future option at 1B with Gomez and Milledge in the OF, right?

John Manuel: He had a bad knee in the past and lacks the mobility to play 3b, so 2b is pretty much out of the question. He's not physically agile or mobile or athletic enough to play 2b.

 Q:  billyshears from New York asks:
I'm a little surprised Gomez was below Guerra as previously Gomez was thought to be a significantly better prospect than Guerra. Did Gomez's stock slip this year or did Guerra's improve?

John Manuel: Guerra got better; his fastball velocity jumped at a very young age. Also, Gomez remains raw offensively. Still love Gomez but had to give Guerra his props for being 18 and throwing 94-95.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
Who would you award the Biggest Sleeper honors to for this system overall?

John Manuel: Veloz is one, also I'll say Pedro P. Martinez, RHP at Kingsport, who had a great instructional league and could wind up with three average pitches down the line.

 Q:  Magic Mike Mazza from Home sick from work asks:
Hey John...thanks for taking my questions. Where would Pedro Beato rank on this list had the Mets signed him in 2005 (or 2006 as a DNF) instead of letting him go to the orioles in the 2006 draft. Also, Mike Antonini had a great career in college playing for DII powerhouse GCSU and playing summer ball in the Coastal Plain League for the New Bern River Rats. Where do you see him starting next year and where do you see him five years from now?

John Manuel: Well, you know, Beato was just Ok this year. I dont' want to get into that game. I took this question for the Antonini part--I like Antonini, he had a modest senior year but flashed three average pitches after signing and might have a plus changeup. At first, I thought it was the organization pumping him up, but the scouts I talked to that saw Kingsport and Brooklyn both liked him too. He's in the top 30.

 Q:  Joe R from Newport News, VA asks:
You earlier commented that you had seven 2007 Mets draftees in the top 30. Isn't that more because the Mets system is really, really shallow -- roster filler other than the big four -- not because they had a great draft?

John Manuel: It's both; I actually think the Mets got some pretty interesting arms. Getting Antonini and D. Owens so late, now D. Owens is kind of an iffy prospect for reasons we've discussed, but those two guys are in the 30. A draft goes beyond the top pick, and the Mets got some nice arms lower in the draft, so I thought it was a little of both.

 Q:  Jason from DC asks:
How's Tejada's defense? With Reyes at shortstop, it seems like he'll have to move to 2nd base eventually anyway, but would he be able to stick at short in another organization? That plate discipline is mighty impressive.

John Manuel: It's pretty darn good, but he's in the GCL--why would you worry about him running into Reyes yet? Let's let him play full-season ball first. If he can play SS he can go pretty much anywhere. As for plate discipline, yes, he walked more than he k'd in the GCL, but it was the GCL. Those numbers don't mean a ton, pitchers are just learning to throw strikes there. More important than the walks is the approach; he isn't afraid to go deep in counts, he trusts himself, he trusts his hands, doesn't jump at pitches . . . good traits, more important than the BBs.

 Q:  Doc from the Garden State asks:
Given the Mets catching question, you have to wonder if they'd like a do-over regarding Jesus Flores. Where would you slot Flores were he still in the organization (and of course eligbile)?

John Manuel: Yes they would but I've put that question to every scout outside the org that I've talked to, and they all thought Flores was too raw to stick. Credit Flores for improving enough to stick and Manny Acta of the Nats for knowing Flores from his days with the Mets and knowing Flores would respond positively to the challenge.

 Q:  Casey from Corvallis asks:
Do the numbers that Eddie Kunz has in the Arizona Fall League lead to worries?

John Manuel: Yes in that it would be better if he performed and no because the reports I've had say his stuff is firm. Kunz needs to have the confidence to throw strikes and challenge hitters; the AFL isn't a good place to develop that. Maybe he should have been sent to Hawaii Winter Baseball instead, more forgiving league for pitchers.

 Q:  Howie from NJ asks:
Where would Martinez rank in a strong system like the Devil Rays (oops I mean the Rays)? Is he a top 10 talent?

John Manuel: Still think he's rank high for the Blue Rays. I'd take him over Reid Brignac but not ahead of Evan Longoria, or Wade David, or Jacob McGee . . . don't have our Rays top 10 in front of me but he'd be in the 10.

 Q:  Jaime from Montreal, Quebec asks:
You haven't mentioned Emmanuel Garcia who just finished hitting .350 in Hawaii. Where does he rank among the Mets; middle infield prospects?

John Manuel: We'll finis, as they say in Montreal, here with Emmanuel Garcia, who is in the top 30 as a great utility infield profile. He's an LH bat, he runs well, makes contact and can play SS, great combination for a guy to be a useful reserve for a long time. That's his role for me; he can hit but not much power there. He's in Taiwan now playing for Team Canada in the World Cup on a young, new-look Canadian team.

John Manuel: That's it for me folks, thanks for the great questions and even for the not-so-great ones. Enjoy your weekend, more top 10 goodness to come next week and don't forget to get your Prospect Handbooks--Top 30s for every team, often imitated, never duplicated. Talk to you later.