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Baseball America Chat

Moderator: BA editor-in-chief John Manuel will be here at 2 p.m. Eastern to take your questions—draft, college, prospects. Ask him anything!

Alan (Atlanta): Hey John. With the Braves trading for the 76th pick, how do you see them using the extra money involved? Any targets?
John Manuel: I don’t think this changes the Braves’ strategy at all; they’ve been trying to move up for months and were happy to get an extra pick. It’s hard to get a read on exactly what they want to do at 3, whether they would take one of the high-ceiling prep arms (Pint or Groome) there or not, but overall they will be aggressive, they will go after guys they have conviction about (think Austin Riley last year) and they will look for impact. I don’t see the Braves taking guys who are “good ballplayers” who don’t have at least a 60 tool, at least in the early rounds.

Brian (Alabama): I've heard you guys discuss this on the podcast, but is there any chance teams like the Phillies, Reds and Braves can float a guy down to the 40s? Will it happen this year?
John Manuel: As we discussed in the podcast, I think it is harder to float guys down that far this year because of teams such as San Diego, Washington and St. Louis, even the Dodgers, are all in the way. LA has 3 picks from 20-36, going to be hard to sneak guys through there. Also, the strength of this draft is more 25-75 than it is 1-10 or 1-20. The guys who teams might try to float down are guys like Matt Manning, who is reportedly floating a large price tag that not too many teams can meet. He could be this year’s Daz Cameron who “fell” to the Astros’ 3rd pick last year and got $4 million.

Jackson Burdi (Calgary, Alberta): I've followed the Canadian National team having a family member on the team and can't help but wonder how Jordan Balazovic isn't getting the same buzz Mike Soroka got? He's 6'5" throws 91-92 and according to Baseball Canada stats has given up 6 runs in 32 2/3 innings with 29 strikeouts and 5 walks against professionals in the GCL and Dominican league. Also, what do you think of Clayton Keys from Alberta? Thanks!
John Manuel: There is some buzz on Balazovic, but remember Soroka was a later bloomer in the spring. He wasn’t a consensus top 30 draft pick; a lot of folks thought he was going to California, and a lot of people think of Balazovic as a college guy as well, committed to Auburn. He’s got a lot of projection left; that can be a good thing but also a bad thing. The debate is whether or not he’s shown enough present stuff to buy him out of Auburn. Our info is the 91-92 velocity you reference is his peak but he’s usually sitting upper 80s to 90. That’s below-average fastball velocity right now, so buying that out of college is tough to do. Keys sounds like a strong-bodied RH hitter in our notes, a team would have to be very convicted in the bat to take him high. He’d be a nice get for Wazzu.

Alin (CA): Top 5 SS prospects right now?
John Manuel: There are too many! But right now, I’d go JP Crawford (big believer in the bat & control of the K zone), Trea Turner, Orlando Arcia, Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman. I know Bregman’s playing some 3B now, but I do think he can stay at SS. He’s just not better than Carlos Correa.

Ben (Miamisburg, OH): When do rumors about signability and bonus demands start to make their way through the draft grapevine?
John Manuel: Around now in a significant way; teams are having or have had their meetings, where area scouts come in and present their lists, crosscheckers & scouting directors go over them and clubs start lining up their boards. Agents also talk up their guys; it was at this time last year that I started getting a ton of emails about an eligible sophomore who wound up signing for $250k. I don’t think i even thought of him as a BA500 guy before that, may not even have known if he was eligible. So this is the time of year where it really starts to crystallize.

Ben (Miamisburg, OH): No matter who the Reds draft, will Cody Reed be their #1 prospect when the midseason list comes out?
John Manuel: We don’t include draft guys in those updated Top 10s because it comes out before the Futures Game and before the signing deadline. But Cody Reed is pretty ridiculous, in a good way, right now, and if, say, the Reds had AJ Puk, I’d rank Reed ahead of Puk. So yeah, I think I would put Reed 1 no matter what. JJ Cooper ranks the Reds for us and has for a decade, you can ask him on Twitter as well if you’d like @jjcoop36

Eric (Great Neck, LI): Did you envision this kind of start for Alex Bregman? If the MiLB POY was decided today would he win?
John Manuel: Of course not on Bregman, I’m sure he did though. His “Albuquerque swagger” always has endeared him to the folks I’ve talked to about him. I’m extremely impressed by the bat; he’s leading the minors in slugging, and I think he’s leading in OPS as well. Plus he’s mixed in some 3B and is playing his usual steady SS, even while moving up to Double-A in his first full season. In other words, he’s checking every box a Minor League POY candidate should.

a.j. (las vegas): If you are the Angels GM what offer would you take for Mike Trout?
John Manuel: I would not trade him, not now. I’d work on the rest of my roster first, and that’s what I expect Billy Eppler to do.

Raymond (New York): Hi John, thanks for the chat. there is no clear cut favorite for the #1 overall draft pick. do you think the Phils might lean to a local area guy like Groome if the rankings are that close ? thanks again
John Manuel: Nope. I don’t believe Groome is in the mix to go No. 1 overall anymore, and he may not have been for a while. He’s got a little bit of negative momentum this spring. He’s a potentially elite talent, but high school arms are risky, and makeup is one of the biggest risk factors. Prep pitcher and scouts questioning his makeup — those are high risk factors.

Todd (Birmingham): Freshman Player of the Year-Kevin Strohschein or Seth Beer? Numbers are close, but Beer plays in the top conference.
John Manuel: I’m not sure what a freshman in the OVC would have to do to be our Freshman of the Year. It would probably have to be a pitcher with tons of strikeouts and a very low ERA. That league is probably the most offense-oriented league in college baseball with a bunch of bandboxes, and Tennessee Tech plays as an extremely offensive park. Not knocking the kid, but I have had multiple scouts over the years tell me that they almost ignore OVC stats totally, they are so out of whack. His 54-21 So-BB ratio probably tells us more than the power numbers. Beer’s main competition seems to be Jake Mangum at Miss. State, Tristan Beck at Stanford and TCU’s Luken Baker.

Eric Rodriguez (Puerto Rico): Delvin Perez is a top 10 lock?
John Manuel: Almost certainly

Brett (Boston): As a Red Sox fan, I see Teheran as the perfect trade target since he's under control through 2020. What would we have to give up to get him?
John Manuel: he’s affordable, so the Braves are inclined to keep him. The one thing really lacking in their system are impact front-of-the-rotation types of arms, and the Red Sox have one of those that is obvious — Anderson Espinoza. Would you want to trade that guy? I wouldn’t either.

Dustin (Houston): Any feel for the type of prospect Houston is looking at? For instance college pitcher, high school bat, etc.
John Manuel: Hearing more college arms tied to them.

Brad (New Jersey): Hi John, really enjoy the chats. in what order do you think the 3 college bats (alpha order: Lewis, Ray,Senzel) will go ? will all of them be taken in the top 5 ? appreciate your opinion
John Manuel: It looks like Lewis will go first. There are some questions about Senzel’s impact and whether or not he will be the No. 3 college bat to go out; I could see one of the ACC catchers, Zack Collins or Matt Thaiss, sneaking into the first 10 picks and maybe going ahead of Senzel. More likely, one or both will go right after Senzel. Senzel vs. Ray is a fascinating debate; I think the consensus prefers Ray because of the upside. The comps on Senzel that I have heard are all over the board, from David Wright on the high end to a David Bell or Tony Graffanino type on the lower end. I don’t hear low-end comps on Lewis or Ray, so I think Senzel goes third. He’s also considered a tougher sign due to his representation.

Laura (Seattle, WA): Very happy to see Andrew Moore taking the next step and debuting for Jackson tonight. What's his projection? Is he the top arm in their desolate system right now?
John Manuel: It’s a desolate system that’s having some key guys have good years. Our Kyle Glaser’s going to be doing a Drew Jackson feature soon, Moore and Ryan Yarbrough are performing and pitching well this year … I believe I saw Nick Neidert is coming out of extended and into full season ball. But yeah, a year later, either Jackson is your top prospect or maybe Edwin Diaz, who just got moved to the bullpen. Let’s hope Alex Jackson gets hot and gets going at Clinton.

Jake (Houston, TX): I was under the impression Kyle Tucker was a power above speed guy, yet we're seeing the opposite thus far this year. Surprised?
John Manuel: I’m not surprised by guys putting up big stolen base numbers in the low minors, even members of the Tucker family (known for their bats not wheels). He’s showing savvy by stealing all those bases, but he’s not a burner by any stretch. The guy’s a ballplayer; he was a good high school pitcher too. But when it’s all said and done, it’s about the bat with Kyle Tucker.

Bobby (Oakland, CA): Would Dan Mengden be the most pleasant surprise to you thus far this season as far as pitchers go? If not, who would?
John Manuel: That’s a good call; he was a Team USA guy and a potential top 2 round guy who had a back injury as a college junior. I’m really excited for him to see him pitching healthy and well, and I look forward to updates about his mustache. I’d throw Josh Hader in this mix too; the guy keeps exceeding our projections and expectations. Maybe we should have gotten on the bus before. I’ll also throw in Brandon Waddell already reaching Double-A with the Pirates; I would not have predicted that.

Jon (Birmingham): Who are your national seeds are the conference tournaments if they go the way you expect?
John Manuel: I will stick with what Jim Shonerd had

John Manuel: Sorry guys, got a couple of phone calls. Need to head to Facebook Live sooner than later as well. Will try to get to more of these later.

Clint (Cleveland): Top 3 most tempting draft bodies?
John Manuel: Hahahaha … my favorite question ever. Will Craig is the only answer.

TD (Philadelphia): I've heard rumors of a deal between Quantril and the Padres at 24 or 25. Any chance they actually take him and pick 8 for a below-slot bonus and then use their savings to take talented high schoolers in the later rounds and offer big bonuses?
John Manuel: That is one scenario, and they may have to take him there if they think another team, such as Toronto, were to take him. Quantrill has worked out and thrown bullpens for teams, and two that I have been able to confirm are the Padres and Blue Jays. I kind of like your plan, it makes sense if you believe in the player. That said, it’s risky to take a kid 8th overall who hasn’t pitched competitively in more than a year. Our reports on Quantrill’s stuff (at his best) and makeup are very, very good, though his breaking ball is his third pitch, and I’m not sure that’s the greatest profile for a RHP.

Greggy J (Cincy): Nick Senzel sounds like he has Colin Moran starter kit. Why or why not?
John Manuel: Not really even in the same ballpark. Senzel can run; Moran fairly lumbers. I believe “brutish” was the word we used to use for how he runs. He’s got heavy feet, not true of Senzel, who was second in the SEC in steals entering the SEC tournament.

Paul (St. Louis, MO): Besides his raw power, does Christin Stewart have any other plus tools?
John Manuel: Not really, but he’s averagish in his defense and athleticism. But it’s a power bat. Last I checked he was hitting .245 even while leading the minors in home runs; I think that’s a fair approximation of who he’ll be.

Blake (Battle Creek, MI): When do your next mock drafts come out? Thanks John!
John Manuel: My plan is to write a mock tonight and tomorrow morning to be posted Thursday afternoon.

BashBro (Michigan): A's draft. Do you think they go typical college bat or surprise with HS guy like Groome or Rutherford if available?
John Manuel: Oakland has been tied to Senzel for so long, I’m starting to think that is a ruse. Their track record has been to zig when others have zagged.

Cal Baseball Fan (California): After Jeffries and Cumberland, where do you see Kranson, Mason and Pearson (all Sr's) going in the Draft?
John Manuel: Kranson’s the top pick of the rest of them, because the dude can hit. The other guys are organizational players who will go depending 100 percent on what it takes for them to sign. If they will sign for $5k I bet they could go in the first 10 picks.

Rob (Texas): Will Snell prove to be a better left hand pitcher than say C. Rodon, S. Matz and/or J. Urias? And rank.
John Manuel: I’d go Urias, Rodon, Snell, Matz. I am biased toward Carlos, I know.

Collin (Ann Arbor, MI): Haven't heard much about Kyle Cody on the scouting front, although he tossed a complete game with a career high 9 strikeouts in his last home start the other day. Does he have any shot at the first round or is he destined to fall more into the 80-150 pick range?
John Manuel: The latter. He’s just not a guy scouts seem to like very much, though he has pitched better this year than in the past.

Gary (Miami, FL): Hey John, What are you hearing on CJ Chatham in terms of draft? He's having a phenomenal year and wasn't in your top 200 list. Thanks !!!
John Manuel: He is on our list; believe he is 109, and there’s buzz he’ll go much higher than that, as high as the first 50 picks. We’re lighter on the college shortstops in terms of ranking them on talent, rather than on where they will go. Guys like Chatham, Hampson, Woodmansee, those guys will go out higher than we have them ranked because of their floors as college infielders. Of that trio, I like Chatham best because of the bat and the arm strength to stay on the left side of the infield.

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