Philadelphia Phillies: Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Manuel

Philadelphia Phillies: 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, 2009.

    Paul (Philly): Was Jonathan Singleton near your top 10?

John Manuel: Hey Gang. Welcome in to the chat. I'll try to keep my answers shorter today so I can get to more. Singleton was under discussion for sure. Lots of players could have made this top 10, and I think it's going to be a packed top 20 once I finish writing it and ranking it (I'm a bit late already). Singleton is one of the system's best pure hitters already and has a pro approach for someone so young. He's a little like Freddie Freeman, very young at 17 when drafted, SoCal HS 1B, Freeman has more juice but Singleton can hit. Just had other toolsier options and guys closer to the big leagues like Bastardo who I think can make some impact.

    JAYPERS (IL): Just how close was Zach Collier to making your list? Has his 2009 lowered your stock in him any? Why or why not?

John Manuel: Not too close. Haven't gotten a lot of positive reports on Collier, which is disappointing. I was a big believer in him out of HS last year out of the draft and once the Phils got him. He's got tools and there is hitting ability in there, but he just never found a groove or adjusted to the speed of the game this year. Still a Top 30 guy but they have so many toolsy OFs, he wasn't really a serious Top 10 contender; he's been passed by the competition.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did the Phils get a steal with Brody Colvin? What are scouts telling you about him, and was he in the top 30?

John Manuel: Definite Top 30, strong top 10 consideration. Big-time power arm but a little raw and will need a little time to develop. That said, last year I had Trevor May down at 28, that was too conservative. Colvin could make a similar move up the charts with a big 2010. Not sure about a steal; yes, drafted lower, but he got the biggest bonus of any 2009 Phils draft pick.

    JAYPERS (IL): How do you suppose the Phillies managed to snag Cliff Lee from Cleveland without having to give up any of their Top 3 prospects?

John Manuel: Well, they gave up 2, 3, 4 and 10 from last year's list, and three of those guys are upper-level prospects. That's why. I think Marson can be a regular, I like him more than most thanks to his athleticism. Donald is very solid, Carrasco and Knapp are power arms (though both have flaws), and Donald and Marson are plausible up-the-middle guys. I mean, they did give up some value there.

    mike (clearwater): Vance Worley was mentioned in some trade rumors.....was he close to making top 10?

John Manuel: Considered but not particularly close. Tired in the second half while pitching a full-season at Double-A in his first full pro season, so that's understandable. He's a No. 3 or No. 4 starter if it all comes out perfectly, more likely a middle reliever. If he's a middle guy, then I'd prefer Mike Stutes, his rotation mate this year, who has a better slider. Mike Cisco is in the same discussion with these guys too, very solid first full pro season despite having less size and pure stuff than those two.

    JAYPERS (IL): Now that you've seen more of him, were the Phils smart to draft Anthony Hewitt where they did, or is he still the ultimate lottery ticket?

John Manuel: They weren't smart or dumb to draft him there. They knew what they were getting into; everyone knew the guy was very, very raw and had not faced great competition in high school. He's definitely a lottery ticket. Put it this way — a scout I know who did instructs coverage in FLA thought Collier & Hewitt ranked behind several other '08 draft picks that the Phils got, and this was a guy who liked both picks at the time. The light hasn't gone on for either one yet.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Mike Durant — prospect or suspect?

John Manuel: I'll go a third route and say that for me he was an afterthought. Talent, sure, big power, but not a strong consideration for the 30.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Is maturity no longer a concern in Drabek's case?

John Manuel: He has grown up quite a bit; I think that's fair to say but it doesn't mean he won't do something dumb down the line, because he's a human being, and we all do dumb things. He's on the right track now though. Big Drabek fan here, one of the minors' best pitching prospects in my opinion. Love the mix of pitches, velo, athleticism and competitiveness.

    Nelson (Tacoma, WA): It seems that Julian Sampson may have taken a step backwards. What are his prospects? Also, any word on Mattair and whether or not he has a shot to move up in the organization?

John Manuel: That's putting it mildly, he definitely took a step back. I'm not sure what happened there to be honest, he was my pick to break out in 2009, and he broke back instead. Mattair has flashed plus defense at third base but didn't improve markedly offensively despite repeating a level. He may move up to Clearwater next year but I don't think he's a guy the Phillies are counting on right now. He's got to prove he can hit with wood; he has yet to do that.

    Travis (Philly): Did Edgar Garcia make the top 30 and what can we expect from him going forward?

John Manuel: He's likely to be on the 30, not 100 percent done with the order but right now he's on there. In shorter stints, he has still shown some very big stuff. I've had reports of him up to 96 mph, but at times I have heard of him sitting at 90 with no life, and his velo was down this year after he missed some time with a visa issue. His slider can be a plus-plus pitch at times; sounds again like a reliever, which might be limiting him, but he hasn't shown he can perform as a starter over a full season.

    Jon (Lexington, KY): What's the future of two Kentucky college alums, B. J. Rosenberg and Neil Sellers?

John Manuel: Rosenberg will rank higher than Sellers; Sellers is on the outside looking in right now. Rosenberg has a big arm, but his fastball tends to straighten out and he's an older guy. Still, he throws hard. Wasn't enamored with his performance against Cuba with Team USA this fall in the World Cup, he lost his composure when he got squeezed by the ump. Maybe that's a good sign; it should mean something to you, I guess.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): What kind of power does Jiwan James profile to have and also how well has he put his speed to use in the outfield?

John Manuel: Jiwan James . . . glad someone asked. Of course it would be Joe. Jiwan James just missed the Top 10. I had one source who said his tools are superior to those of Anthony Gose, which is significant. The Phillies' OFs in the lower levels are straight out of the '70s or '60s, just a bunch of potential five-toolers in James, Hudson, Altherr and Santana, with athletes like Dugan and Collier and (if he's an OF by now) Hewitt in the mix. It's crazy. James' power, like everything else, is in the raw stage right now. But he's the best athlete in a system of athletes. That's a loud statement. He is potentially an outstanding defender; just didn't play the OF for parts of two years, so he has some catching up to do.

    Travis (Philly): Who are some of the sleepers in the org?

John Manuel: Several Latin sleepers led by Harold Garcia, 2b, who's older but is a player; Altherr, big athlete, just needs some time; and I'll throw in Justin DeFratus as a long-toss favorite who has flashed 94 mph at times and has a chance to be a starter next year in the minors.

    Richard (Ft. Lauderdale): Any thoughts on Heitor Correa?

John Manuel: Stuff isn't that different from Edgar Garcia's, actually. Very interesting arm who missed a year of development time and still has come back throwing hard, though not quite as hard as he did when he signed. He's also got a potentially plus slider. The fact he pitched 125 or so IP this year is pretty huge, put him back on the Top 30 after his suspension last year bounced him. Another intriguing arm in a system that has plenty, just almost all at lower levels.

    Derek (Beijing): With the Phillies' crowded outfield and Domonic Brown a year or so away from the big club, what will they do with Michael Taylor? Do see the possibility of a trade for somebody like Alex Gordon?

John Manuel: Just talked to Michael today from Mexico. That was a treat for me, impressive young man. He said it well. "Unless something happens, I'm blocked by guys who are both very good and who make a lot of money." He just has to keep on hitting. He's just DHing right now in Mexico as he has a bit of elbow soreness, but he's hitting there too. If he keeps hitting, something will work out for him, either in Philadelphia or in another organization.

    bobby (philadelphia): couple guys, stutes, defratus on the best tools list have received very little praise in the past. are they top 15 type prospects? mathieson, know he has already pitched in the ML, does the team still have high hopes for him?

John Manuel: Stutes was in the top 30 last year; DeFratus as on the depth chart and was in our Calif. draft coverage in what, '07? He had a big ML scouting bureau number that year and has been on my radar for his long toss displays (I mean, I can't mention the guy without thinking 'long toss'). Stutes is in the top 15 mix, DeFratus is more of a back-end guy. Mathieson is also in the top 15/20 mix, he's got bigger stuff than either of those guys and has a solid changeup too, he's just had two TJs. Very happy for him to get added to the 40-man roster last week. He's earned it. I see him in the Phila. bullpen in 2010. He very nearly made the top 10.

    Brett (Dallas): Does Brody Colvin fit with Cosart and May as a potential impact arm, or is that going too far for someone who hasn't yet made his pro debut?

John Manuel: Not too far. Similar power arm, more work to do with his delivery but the athleticism to make the adjustments. Pretty similar to Cosart, but Cosart has more athleticism and a bigger arm. I'm pretty high on Cosart.

    Joe (Richmond, VA): John, What happen to some of the phillies higher-level pitching disappointments this year like Edgar Garica, Julian Sampson, Vance Worley & Drew Naylor? Should we expect a bounce back from any of them, and how close were they to making this list? Will they all be Top 30?

John Manuel: Naylor was a disappointment for the Phils and for me as I ran him up pretty high last year. Despite his good curve, he didn't maintain his average velo (not to mention improve on it), and his overall stuff didn't improve and in fact regressed a bit at times this year. He should still get a shot at Double-A next year, but he's looking more like a guy who just racked up some big K numbers thanks to his curveball.

    Warren (Texas): How close to the Top 10 was Galvis? Seems to me with his glove, he is a good bet to make MLB but with his bat, perhaps as only a utility IF? Can he be a MLB regular SS, is his glove that good to carry him? Thanks for the chat!

John Manuel: Contentious prospect. His glove is good enough to make him a regular SS right now, but what would he hit, .150? He does have attributes that make the Phillies (and many outside the organization) believe he'll hit, but he's a 7- or 8-hole hitter almost exclusively. He was considered for a long time for the top 10 but I wound up moving him down in the 11-20 range a bit just because the upside seems pretty limited. He might be the best defensive player in the minors right now that I know of, because he's about the only player I can think of who gets promoted because of his glove, and not his bat.

    Inigo Montoya (Cliffs of Insanity): Next five (in random order) - Leandro Castro, OF; Brody Colvin, RHP; Anthony Hewitt, OF; Mike Stutes, RHP; Freddy Galvis, SS - How close am I?

John Manuel: Not too close. All top 30 guys, not necessarily all top 20 though.

    Pat's (Not Genos.): With Michael Taylor having more success are AAA then Dominic Brown had a AA, how does Brown rate the higher prospect?

John Manuel: Bigger tools, better athletic ability, Brown's also two years younger . . . lefthanded hitter . . . lots of good reasons. Taylor is good in his own right, but I'm pretty confident the majority of the 30 MLB clubs would rather have Brown than Taylor, and I'm obviously a fan of Taylor.

    Jesse (NC): Is Mike Cisco good enough to be a back-of-the-rotation mainstay? Or does he profile better as a long reliever?

John Manuel: He's a personal cheeseball for some reason. I can't explain why I like Mike Cisco as much as I do. But he could finesse his way to being a No. 5 starter. Much more likely he's a middle reliever in the Chad Durbin mold if it all works out.

    Jason (Harrisburg, PA): Where does this Phillies system rank? Top 10, 15? Thanks for the chat, John... love your work.

John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words, Jason. When you do a top 30, you usually either think it's better than other people do, or you think it's worse. I probably like the Phillies' system better than most and consider it a top 10 system, but I wouldn't say top 5 because so much of the high-ceiling talent is in A ball or even below. At the upper levels, there are prospects, though, and three very good ones and other usefuls guys such as Mathieson, Bastardo, even Steve Susdorf, who profiles as a Mark Sweeney (the pinch-hitter) type.

    Steve (Plainfield, IL): Can Brown play center field and does he project to be an Alex Rios type (in his prime) or do you have a better comparison?

John Manuel: Alex Rios isn't bad, although obviously Brown bats lefthanded. He runs better than Rios did but doesn't quite have the instincts for CF right now, plus his arm is a true RF arm. I don't know who you compare him to with that body; it is a Strawberry body, but he doesn't quite have Strawberry juice. I have talked to at least two scouts who think that eventually he will have 30-HR power though. Not a good comp for Brown, I guess, another sign that he could be a star, because he's kind of unique.

    Tom (San Francisco, CA): What's the likelihood of a Taylor-Gose-Brown outfield?

John Manuel: The Phillies would say pretty likely. In reality, I don't see how they work all three in. The Phils by the way are higher on Anthony Gose than I am. Not saying I don't believe in Gose because three 70 tools are three 70 tools. But his bat is pretty raw and it may take a while. His carefree, easygoing makeup will suit him well because I think he's going to fail a lot in the minors before he figures it out.

    Craig (Pullman (WA)): I know Matt Way was talked about regarding who had good pro debut's but where does he stand in the Phillies Prospect List? Does he have a chance to be in Double A next year?

John Manuel: Chance for the top 30, but a lot of higher-upside guys may be ahead of him. LHP with a plus changeup, not a bad way to start, and I would anticipate an aggressive assignment for him next year. Reading would be very aggressive, Clearwater is more likely.

    Dominic (Reading): Thanks for taking my question. Mathieson was unbelievable in Reading this year with his 99 mph fastball and control. Does he get a bullpen spot out of spring training? Would you trade Drabek and a prospect for Halliday?

John Manuel: Asked and answered on Mathiseon. Lots of Halladay trade questions. Put it this way — the Phillies saw what trading prospects for Cliff Lee did. If Drabek, Taylor and one or two other guys brought Halladay, and there was money in the budget, I'd do it. And if the Jays said they had to have Dom Brown instead of Taylor, I still might do it, because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee would be a heck of a 1-2 punch. Trading prospects for big leaguers is a great way to use a farm system; you just have to trade for the right guys. Halladay and Lee are the right kind of guys, don't you think?

    steve (Oregon): Who do think will make it to the major leagues first and who will have a better career between Brown and Taylor?

John Manuel: Better career = Brown. That's why he has ranked No. 1 for two years in a row now. Taylor should get there quicker.

    Jeff (Near Philly): Any chance you could provide your honest opinion of Anthony Hewitt?

John Manuel: Tons of Hewitt questions. My honest opinion, as opposed to lying, as I regularly do in chats, is that what you mean, Jeff? My opinion on Hewitt is he's not likely to reach the major leagues. That's why he's not in the top 10. Tools are great but if you can't hit, you won't make it to the major leagues. Right now, he's not showing any ability to hit, none. He has such premium tools and athletic ability, in particular huge raw power, than writing him off would be folly. The Phillies had extra picks in '08, so he was the kind of high-risk, high-reward player you take when you have extra picks. But yes, his pro numbers have me doubting his future.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): Who is the better D'Arnaud, Travis or Chase?

John Manuel: Travis, but it's close. I like both d'Arnauds, even though I'm not sure how to say their names.

    Jon (Peoria): Was Yohan Flande close to making the top 10?

John Manuel: He was in one permutation, but more information pushed him down the list. Great year and I'm kicking myself that he wasn't in the 30 last year, but he's more of a back-end starter, in the Cisco mold, than a frontline guy. And with a breaking ball that's a bit short, he's limited as a LH reliever.

    Burke (Columbus, OH): John, I'm curious of your general thoughts on the coverage of the AFL Rising Stars Game.

John Manuel: Fun game to watch. Wish BA were involved or someone who knows the players. I'm a fan of Tony Clark in the studio, and he seems to have real potential as a color guy. But he praised the Rangers for "finding" Tanner Scheppers in indy ball. Really? There were a few cringe moments like that. But I like Daron Sutton just fine and think Clark has a good eye. But clearly they weren't tremendously familiar with the players. That's always disappointing for geeks like us who do know the players and know where to look when we don't.

    Josh G (Sacto, CA): Was Kelly Dugan in top 10 consideration? How about Kyrell Hudson?

John Manuel: Both were considered. Again, tough to sort through all their toolsy OFs. Santana is younger than those guys and out-performed them in the GCL, and his bat is further ahead. It's not like he lacks tools, either. I'm quite intrigued by both and seeing how the Phils divvy up ABs with all these guys next year. I would guess J. James, Collier and Santana will head to Lakewood, while Hudson, Dugan and Altherr will be in extended and then Williamsport.

    Kevin (Boston): Does Joe Savery look like a bullpen guy at this point, or does he still have a shot as a starter?

John Manuel: Still has a shot to start, and I had one EL report of him touching 92, throwing downhill at 88-90 and getting in on guys with a solid mid-80s cutter. That's him at his best right now; he just doesn't have the power he had consistently in college. Usually, Savery pitches with less power, but he's a grinder and could be an innings-eater as a fifth starter if he improves his command. That's really a bigger problem than his velo, because he does create angle and pitch down. Still looks like Jeff Niemann is carrying the banner for Rice pitchers by his lonesome.

    Brayden (NJ): What is the biggest difference between Dom Brown & Jason Heyward? They seem to be pretty similar but scouts gush over Heyward?

John Manuel: Power — Heyward is stronger, more pop, more polish. But Brown isn't too far behind, I don't think.

    Rod (Seattle): Where would those top 10 picks given up for Lee be in this years top 10, assuming they still qualified?

John Manuel: Tough question. Marson's upside is lower than those of d'Arnaud and Valle, but those are A-ball and short-season catchers vs. a guy who has reached the big leagues. Donald isn't a SS but might be a good in-house option for the Phils at 3b next year if he was still there. Carrasco, well, I am not sure if he'll ever put it together. Knapp might have been the top guy before his injury. I think all four would have made the 10, I'd rank 'em Knapp, Marson, Carrasco, Donald. I think Donald's best role is as a solid utility guy, while I consider Marson and Carrasco as second-division regulars. Knapp could be an impact closer down the line but that delivery scared off a lot of teams in the '08 draft.

    Snapper Bean (Greater Kensington): The Phillies should be excited because of their overall depth don't you think?

John Manuel: They are, and they should be. They lack up the middle prospects at upper levels after dealing Donald & Marson; otherwise, they have talent all over the place. Again, if you're looking at it as half-empty, most of their high-ceiling talent is far away, but scouts outside the org like their talent. That means a lot.

    Kevin (Boston): Better long-term prospect at this point: Freddy Galvis or Jonathan Villan?

John Manuel: Very tough. Galvis is the better SS by far, but Villar's bat is much better (it's Villar, I'm pretty sure, though I have seen Villan). If you believe in Galvis, he's a Cesar Izturis type, maybe a bit better than that offensively. Villar has more upside, more offensive tools and he's not a stiff defensively. But he may not stay at SS when it's all said and done. If Galvis hits like Cesar Izturis, I'd take him.

    Josh G (Sacto, CA): Where does Drew Carpenter rank in the Phillies organization?

John Manuel: I have no idea what to do with that guy. None! Any suggestions? He's really more of a 4-A type because of the lack of fastball velo & life, and all his pitches are really just too fringy. Good guy to have on hand, good organizational guy, but not really a big prospect for me.

    Kevin (Boston): You've mentioned May, Cosart, and Colvin — where does Jon Pettibone fit in relation to those guys?

John Manuel: More of a project and not quite the raw arm strength of those guys, so he's further behind. Might make the 30 but I guess I'd say far behind those guys at this point.

    Kyle (Philly): How do you see Antonio Bastardo in the future?? I think hes a perfect reliever, strikes out lefties and he curve will only get better?? JC Romero?

John Manuel: The Romero comp was made in the organization, and that role is there for him to win. He has to earn it though. He seems unable to hold up physically to throwing hard as a starter — when he throws hard like he did against the Padres, he breaks down soon thereafter, and that's two shoulder issues in two years. I do think the role is there waiting to be won, though, and he has the stuff to win it.

    Kevin (Boston): You just mentioned that the Phillies are way higher on Anthony Gose than you are, which got me to wondering: who are the players on which your opinion most diverged from what the organization thought?

John Manuel: Well, last year Brown was one of them, he wasn't the internal No. 1. Also last year I was lower on May as I said. This year, I'd say I have a hard time getting as charged up on Gose and I'm probably higher on Jiwan James, because again our reports from outside the org are extremely positive. But the Phils know him better, they know how raw he is and how he practices, how he prepares, etc. I respect that.

    Glen (Philly): Where does Michael Schwimmer rank? Do you see him as a future setup man?

John Manuel: Potential role for him there, yes. Probably not a Top 30 guy because there are some very solid minor league starters who will wind up middle relievers. I was actually looking through some old Best Tools lists and didn't see one "Best Reliever" who has had a big MLB career in a three-year span. But he can spin a breaking ball and keeps getting it done; I just see him as more of an up-and-down guy than a bullpen mainstay.

    Kyle (Phillly): From the projected lineup in 2013, you have Valle as your 3b?? When does he make the switch, shouldnt he do this ASAP with the lack of 3B besides Mattair in the system.

John Manuel: No, he should not do it ASAP. He has a lot more value at C, and he should try to get better at C. It's no sure think that d'Arnaud would make it, either. Catching is hard. But, as I wrote, both players have taken grounders at 3b, and for the future lineup, that was good enough for me to move one there. It tells you that the Phils have no full-season 3Bs who project as regulars. The future lineups are supposed to be a fun guide, "what would this team look like if it had to rely completely on its farm system" kind of deal. Instead sometimes it's taken very literally. Don't take them literally.

    Mike (Utica, NY): Who is the better pitcher and who has more upside: Drabek or Mejia?

John Manuel: Drabek, because I've talked to scouts who consider Mejia as more of a reliever. Mejia may have a better arm, but I'll take Drabek.

    Jeff (Near Philly): When I said "honest opinion", I just meant that I didn't want you to sugarcoat your answer and appeal to use Phillies fans. Thanks for the response.

John Manuel: Hey, you're welcome. It was a good question, Jeff, and I am glad you stuck around the read the answer and the whole chat. Good stuff, everyone, thanks for coming out. Aaron Fitt comes at you Wednesday to talk Nats, and we tentatively plan to podcast and give you more NL East goodness, with I'm sure some college stuff thrown in.