Draft Chat with John Manuel

Moderator: John Manuel will be taking your questions in our first draft chat of the year at 3 p.m. ET

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
who are the nationals looking at with the 4th pick?

John Manuel: Welcome in to everyone for coming. We're kicking off our countdown to the 2005 draft. Hope you've enjoyed our stepped-up draft coverage this spring, with our Draft Notebook being in every issue . . . anyway, draft central proper commenced this morning, and we'll have a full schedule of coverage starting Monday.

John Manuel: We're hearing several Nationals rumors . . . the strongest one all spring has been Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Before Nats fans groan, Zimmerman's a legit top 5 talent. He's a Gold Glove caliber defender at third who might be good enough to pull a Khalil Greene and move to shortstop (though Greene moved in college), because his hands, feet and arm are that good. Offensively, at the least, he should be a .280 type of hitter with 10-15 homers and 50-60 extra-base hits. Another name connected to the Nats includes NC prep outfielder Cameron Maybin.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
who could the brewers take with the 5th pick in the june draft?

John Manuel: The Brewers are great; Jack Zduriencik just takes the best player available, rarely goes over slot and still manages to get good players. We're hearing Maybin is a possiblity, and we also hear the Brewers could step out and take a pitcher represented by Scott Boras, which would mean either Mike Pelfrey of Wichita State or Tennessee's Luke Hochevar. One other thing about Milwaukee, it always plays the draft close to the vest under Jack Z.

 Q:  JIM from GA asks:

John Manuel: Buster Posey sounds like he's not been as good this spring as he was last summer, when he was bumping 94 mph with his fastball. Looks like this Blair Varnes with stuff might be heading to Tallahassee, which will give the Seminoles their best ace in years. Posey at times throws four pitches for strikes, with a plus changeup.

 Q:  Steve from New Jersey asks:
John, With many of the top pitchers being represented by Scott Boras do you think some of the top teams will pass on his clients ? How do you see the first 5 picks going ?

John Manuel: That's one of the major themes of the draft. Look, everyone knows what they get when they draft a Boras client. That player will hold out, very rarely do Boras clients sign on draft day and head straight out. Some clubs just won't take Boras clients altogether unless it's a unique situation, though no one comes out and says it. I know the White Sox have a ton of history with Boras clients and none of it is good--Jeff Weaver, Bobby Hill, Bobby Seay, most recently (not in the draft) Magglio Ordonez. So those players have to know that, too, and I think they do. Bottom line: Boras clients get paid, and that's why Boras represents a lot of the draft's top talents.

John Manuel: As for the top 5, I don't want to end the chat 10 minutes in! I'll come back with that later.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Where do you see Tim Lincecum being drafted? Being a draft-eligible sophomore gives him some leverage, so does that drop him a bit from where his projection is?

John Manuel: Lincecum has a chance to go good, and is perceived as signable whether he has leverage or not. He's the top draft in Washington, has a rubber arm and plus stuff, sounds like a possible medium reliever, and his command is a little too erratic for him to profile as a starter.

 Q:  Mike from New York, NY asks:
Who are the Mets targeting with the 9th overall pick? Is it possible that they will draft Jeff Clement to be Mike Piazza's heir apparent?

John Manuel: I haven't heard a particular player tied to the Mets yet, but we do expect the Mets to consider Boras clients such as Pelfrey, Hochevar, Mark McCormick and, if he's around, St. John's righty Craig Hansen. (If you're a baseball fan in NY, go out and see a St. John's game, they need the support so they can be a regional host come NCAA tourney time.) Russ Bove, their first-year scouting director, has a good track record from his time with the Expos and isn't afraid to take toolsy, athletic players, either. He's based out of South Florida, and we've got Ryan Braun at No. 9 on our prospects list . . . that's an interesting match.

 Q:  Kevin Dine from Tampa, FL asks:
It's kind of surprising to see Cameron Maybin "falling" a bit in the rankings. Any particular reason, or is it just because some of the college kids have stepped up?

John Manuel: In no way is Maybin falling; he's still the No. 2 high school player on our board, just as he was coming into the spring. He's had a dominant spring, albeit against poor competition, and he's shown all the athletic ability you'd want to see in a player. He's signed to Southern just in case things don't work out with the draft, but they will . . . I'll be surprised if Maybin lasts into the double digit picks. His bat might need some polish--he won't move as quickly as, say, Delmon Young--but he's a real five-tool talent.

 Q:  Peter Landrigan from Tappan, N,Y asks:
Do you see the white sox possible grabbing one of the top guys from last year if available. Or you think they will go for clement. Could you tell me a little about Clement.

John Manuel: I don't see the White Sox taking a Boras client. Jeff Clement at 15 would be a value pick; he's a lefthanded hitting catcher with power, he's a much better defender behind the dish than Eric Munson was, just to put that comp to rest. His bat and Munson's are similar, he takes a more aggressive hack and is pull oriented, but if he hits .250, he'll hit 20 homers and be a solid big league catcher.

 Q:  Jeff from NY asks:
How high do you see senior shortstops Tommy Manzella of Tulane and Seth Johnston of Texas going in the draft? They're both having great senior seasons. Is either one a shortstop in pro ball? Thanks for the chat

John Manuel: I've heard good things about both players. Scouts who see Conference USA like Manzella's ability to play short. He's not Tony Giarratano, but he has a chance to be a solid hitter and he has enough defensively for short. Johnston was a seventh-round pick last year and will go better this year, but he's a rangy 2B, not a shortstop. Sounds like Manzella could be a fifth-rounder, Johnston more of a third-rounder because of his better bat.

 Q:  Gene from Mobile, AL asks:
Question about a couple players from the SEC - What is the draft status of Jr.- Evan Bush(3B) and Sr.- Brent Carter(LHP) from Alabama and Jr.- Brian Pettaway(3BRHP) from Ole Miss? Thanks.

John Manuel: Pettway's the best draft here by far. He's lighter and more athletic than he was last y ear, profiles as a RF in pro ball and is a pretty good hitter, patient and ready for a stats-oriented club, or one that values a hitter with a plus arm. Scouts are split on Bush; he should go OK, chance he could return to the Tide, he's got power but he's only OK at third and he's a guy that swings and misses a lot. Carter hasn't gotten people excited either of the last two years, even though he's Alabama's all-time K's leader.

 Q:  Tom L. from Manhattan, KS asks:
If Upton is gone, do you see the royals taking anyone buy Gordon with the 2nd overall? Thanks.

John Manuel: This probably won't make Royals fans happy . . . our understanding from other clubs is, the Royals are not going to spend a lot for that pick. Unless Alex Gordon is willing to sign for slot, and I mean just a straight bonus, he won't be the guy there. We've heard some wild rumors at the No. 2 spot, such as Texas A&M's Cliff Pennington and Rancho Bernardo HS outfielder John Drennan, as well as Oregon State outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Those are all good players, I'd say consensus first 50 talents, but not anywhere near the No. 2 pick. I understand David Glass is saying otherwise, but everything we hear is, the Royals are thinking budget first, talent second, and that's a shame.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what direction will the devil rays go with the 8th pick?

John Manuel: Hard to say because it's hard to say how much cash the Rays will spend. One thing is certain, it will be a good pick in the first round. Tim Wilken is running this draft for the Rays, and his track record as a scouting director in the first round is spectacular, even when signability is a concern--see Vernon Wells in '97 and Alex Rios in '99. He also drafted Felipe Lopez in '98, now putting it together in Cincinnati, and Roy Halladay in '95, and was part of that scouting staff in Toronto that had every first-round pick make the majors from 1988 through 1999 (Ed Sprague through Rios), with Eddie Zosky and Kevin Witt being the weakest picks. That's the track record of the current Rays scouting director. so Rays fans should have faith.

 Q:  Steve from Birmingham, Alabama asks:
Who are the main prep stars from your top-30 that could drop rapidly due to signability concerns? Guys that a big market team may take a flyer on in later round and try to sign for 1st round type money.

John Manuel: Great question, Steve. One is Cody Satterwhite, one of the hardest throwers in the prep class. An Ole Miss signee, he goes to the same high school that produced Stephen Head and Seth Smith, who also went to Ole Miss. Satterwhite's command and price tag leave scouts thinking he'll go to school, though a lot of people have seen him good, throwing up to 95-96 mph. Michigan prep Zach Putnam (Michigan signee), Arizona prep Brett Jacobson (Vanderbilt signee) and Texas prep outfielder Jordan Danks (who has said he wants to go to Texas).

 Q:  Kevin Dine from Tampa, FL asks:
John, Where do you see Jeff Larish being "popped?" His numbers seem to have rebounded close to 2003 levels, but I haven't seen much 1st round talk about him.

John Manuel: Tough question; he's had a better year, but if this were the NBA, he would have left as a sophomore and been a first-rounder. As it is, there may be no senior discount, as he's a Boras client who's hitting home runs. He's not shown the plate discipline he did as a sophomore, and no one's going to forget that he had a brutal year under the scrutiny of the draft last year. He turned down more than $500,000 from the Dodgers last year, and he might get that if he's fortunate this year. I don't think anyone sees him in the first round, that's why you haven't heard that buzz.

 Q:  Steve from Gladewater, TX asks:
I've seen about 20-30 scouts in Whitehouse, TX to see Josh Wilson pitch this year. He has reportedly thrown as high as 97 mph and sits around 92-96 mph. Where do you guys think he will fall in the draft?

John Manuel: We've heard Wilson is more sitting in the 92-93 mph range, and maybe touching 94-95. He's definitely not sitting in the 92-96 range according to the scouts and coaches we've talked to in Texas. He's projected in the third to fifth round range.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Did the Angels pick the right time to play hardball with Scott Boras and Jered Weaver? It looks like there will be sufficent talent in the supplimental first round to ease the loss of Weaver's rights and obvious talent.

John Manuel: Well, they thought they were getting a first-round talent in Kendry Morales, if he ever shows up. This is a deep draft, but there won't be a Weaver in the 30s unless it's . . . well, Weaver, or another Boras client. I'm guessing the Angels won't go that route. They still had a potentially nice draft last year with Trumbo, Cassevah and Adenhart.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
What is the buzz on UCF's catcher Drew Butera? It sounds like he moved from the 5th-7th area preseason to the 2nd-3rd area at midseason and he continues to hit well. How high could he go and how do scouts grade his tools?

John Manuel: Butera's like his dad, a really good defender who should go higher than his talent really merits because of the demand for college catchers in the draft. I don't think he's going to go much higher than the third round, but he's probably the second-best catch-and-throw guy out there after Taylor Teagarden, and he stopped Troy's Adam Godwin, who was 69-for-75 coming into the series with UCF and went 0-for-2 on steals against Butera.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
There seem to be a lot of college catchers at the top of the board this year with Clement, Teagarden, Hundley, Liuzza, Robinson, Butera, Hayes, and Bell. In what rounds are these guys likely to fall and what college backstops are coming on late to watch for?

John Manuel: I can say Liuzza doesn't belong in that group anymore, he's unfortunately struggled big-time this spring. Robinson is Canadian, and the visa issue (he probably won't get to play this year) is a factor. Maybe the A's draft him, he could play in Vancouver's home games because he wouldn't need a visa. Clement and Teagarden are first-round talents, and Butera and Brett Hayes (athletic catcher at Nevada) will go in the first five rounds. Hayes' feel for the game will help him go well. But Bell is a tough call; he's just not a great receiver and some think he won't be good enough to catch in pro ball. It's borderline as to whether or not he'll go in the fifth round, as he did out of high school.

 Q:  Rich from Sikeston, MO asks:
With the Cardinals having a lot of picks in the first three rounds, they can do a lot to help their poor farm system. Will they stick mainly with college players again (foolishly, in my opinion), and who are some names they're after? Will the outfield be a position they're looking to add to early?

John Manuel: Rich, we see them going college like they did last year, but I don't think they're going to go after one position in particular. I'd keep in mind that the Cardinals under GM Walt Jocketty have had several scouting directors but a consistent track record of dealing with Boras clients from J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel to Anthony Reyes.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
Where do scouts see Iain Sebastian converting to in the pros better, LHP or 1B? And why such a steep fall for him after being one of the top few HS players in this class early?

John Manuel: Sebastian just has been OK this spring; most people like him better on the mound because he has plus velocity, while his bat speed is considered just fair.

 Q:  Smithie Woodrop from Coral Gabels, Florida asks:
How does Troy Tulowitzki compare to former dirtbagger Bobby Crosby? Is he a better prospect right now than Crosby was going into the 2001 draft?

John Manuel: Tulowitzki's a better prospect. He doesn't have Crosby's power, but he's probably better in most other ways, including defensively at shortstop, making contact, throwing arm . . . he's a very good college shortstop prospect who has hit in the middle of the Long Beach State order since he arrived on campus.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
C.J. Henry and Jay Bruce have been shooting up the boards lately. What is the scouting report on these two guys and when did scouts decide that Henry projects better at OF than SS?

John Manuel: Both of these guys have shot up. Some scouts doubt Bruce's instincts and feel for the game, but he's a five-tool guy, gifted physically and a great runner for his size. Henry hasn't shown enough feel for the game at shortstop, somewhat understandable since he's a two-sport guy, and I think that's why he's perceived more as an OF.

 Q:  John from Myrtle beach SC asks:
With Costanzo's year at the Cape and Coastal, what round do you see him going in this years draft? What about Shefka and DeJesus?

John Manuel: Costanzo's a tough call, because it depends on who you talk to whether he's a hitter or pitcher. He may go based on his bat from his Cape Cod performance (eight homers), and he's got some bat speed. He's also athletic enough to be a good first baseman defensively and to give third base another try. I've been told he's kind of like Jamie D'Antona, but without as much bat speed. So if you don't like that, you can put Costanzo on the mound, where he's in the low 90s and has a feel for a slider. Shefka and DeJesus both should go in the first 10-15 rounds.

 Q:  Bob from Winthrop asks:
Thanks for the chat(s). with 6 early picks what do you see the red sox doing 3 ofs, 2 pitchers and a catcher seem possible? Thank you

John Manuel: I don't know that the Sox or any team would break it down by position that way. They'll take the guys they like best on their board regardless of position. It wouldn't shock any of us for the Sox to take a Boras client that falls because they have extra picks, selecting at 23, 26, 42, 45 and 47 overall.

 Q:  Mattis from St. John's University! asks:
I'm pleasantly surprised to see that you have Craig Hansen ranked so high on your draft prospects list. Some people might argue that this is way too high of a spot for a closer? What do you have to say to that?

John Manuel: I'd say check out Huston Street, Chad Cordero, Ryan Wagner . . . several closers have moved very quickly to the big leagues and have helped their teams. Hansen might have the best stuff of that group, though Wagner was pretty filthy in college. Hansen might be able to help a few big league teams in their bullpens right now.

 Q:  Chris from Minnesota asks:
Can you talk about Colby Rasmus some more. Where does he project to get drafted and what kind of player is he?

John Manuel: Some scouts think Rasmus could be Steve Finley; others think he could be Shawn Green. Those are the high-end comparisons. He's right on the cusp of the top 30, didn't quite make our first Tracker, but he's a very good possibility to go in the first round. He's a smooth-swinging lefthanded hitter with at least line-drive power to all fields and enough athletic ability to possibly be a big league CF.

 Q:  Mike from East New York Brooklyn asks:
Craig Hansen to the Mets. Do you think that will work and is he signable? Also, where do you think Anthony Varvaro will go?

John Manuel: Don't t hink Hansen will last that long. Varvaro is pitching his way up the charts, might not last past the third round despite his stature. He's got a quick arm and a real power breaking pitch.

 Q:  Mark Stema from detroit, MI asks:
Is there a chace that Zimmerman will fall to the Tigers, he would be a great fit because of his hitting style and Comerica Parks configuration.

John Manuel: Don't see him lasting that long, sorry.

 Q:  Rickey from San Diego asks:
I noticed Mission Bay's Hank Sanchez and Rancho Bernardo's John Drennen have moved up on the draft lists, but what has happened to Valhalla's Sean O'Sullivan? Are scouts buying into rumors that he may have an arm problem or what?

John Manuel: O'Sullivan's stock has fallen; he has lost the feel for his delivery, is much stiffer this y ear, and he's sitting in the high 80s now. His stuff doesn't merit the signing bonus he's asking for, and might be headed for San Diego State unless someone thinks what was there last year is still there. Tony Gwynn needs him.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
What is the scouting report on the emerging Miami RHP Cesar Carrillo? And what is the projection for ex-Rice RHP Wade Townsend--was he ineligible for the Draft Tracker, or is his stock dropping?

John Manuel: Quick arm, excellent velocity in the low to mid 90s, good command, enough breaking ball and a very good competitor. Carillo's really improved himself. Townsend is on the draft tracker, right at No. 13.

 Q:  Mike from SoCal asks:
Is Mike Garza a late-first round possibility?

John Manuel: he is, he's definitely sneaking up the ranks despite his 2-4 record. He's got a good pitcher's body, a low-90s fastball that has touched 95 and a curveball and slider that have both come along. He's more likely to go in the third round, but all it takes is one team.

 Q:  Mark from Boston asks:
Two names from the SEC that haven't gotten many headlines, despite putting up consistently excellent numbers: Chase Headley from Tennessee & Brian Pettway from Ole Miss. How good are they and where can they expect to be drafted?

John Manuel: Mark, don't know where you were when Chase Headley was the lead art on our website, but that's a pretty big headline. I already addressed Pettway earlier . . . Headley is a solid draft, he'll go great to a stats-oriented club because of his great BB-K ratio (52-16 last I checked) and production. He's average at third base, has average power and is athletic. He's just a very solid, college hitter, and those guys go well.

 Q:  Andy from Milwaukee asks:
Can you rank these 5 HS pitchers: ( Zach Putnam, Sean O'sullivan, Mark Pawelek, Bryan Morris, Chris Volstad)

John Manuel: 1. Pawelek. 2. Volstad. 3. Morris. 4. O'Sullivan. 5. Putnam. Scouts have backed off Zach Putnam, and many are saying they were never there. Rich Maloney and Bob Keller & Co. should get him at Michigan.

 Q:  Mark from Boston asks:
You'll probably be asked this 1000 times today, but where would Jered Weaver & Stephen Drew rank on your latest top 30?

John Manuel: First time I've been asked, actually. I'd say Drew at 7, just ahead of Ryan Zimmerman (as much as I like Zimmerman). He has more bat than Tulowitzki, but I'm not sold on Drew as a SS, and you know, his holdout isn't helping him, nor is playing in Camden. As for Weaver . . . I'd probably slot him in right at 10-11, ahead of Jay Bruce, who I understand is toolsy but toosly high school OFs are boom or bust, and Weaver is considered a sure thing No. 3 starter.

 Q:  Linda Erickson from New Jersey asks:
What is Zach Ward's repetoire and where do you see him going in the draft?

John Manuel: Fastball, power curve, change is just OK at times, but his arm action scares some people off, and he's struggled in the second half this year. He's probably a 4-6 round range.

 Q:  Ryan from asks:
Do you think Cliff Pennington is a sure First rounder, any chance he slides to the top of the 2nd round or lower.

John Manuel: Yes, he's a first-round talent and scouts love his makeup and all-out style of play, he won't slide.

 Q:  Mark from Boston asks:
No Tyler Greene in the top 30? What gives?

John Manuel: Scouts almost uniformly question his bat too much to make him a first-round pick.

 Q:  Jake from Iowa asks:
Jed Lowrie's stats are pretty amazing at Stanford. Where do you project him to go in the draft and what kind of MLB player do you think he can develop into?

John Manuel: He's similar to Adam Kennedy, another offensive 2B who wasn't necessarily textbook as a collegian but got it done enough to be an average big league hitter. Lowrie struggled with wood last summer with Team USA, but he's a solid defender at 2B and he hits enough to possibly go in the sandwich round.

 Q:  christopher from Knoxville asks:
Does Bryan Morris compare to last years first rounder, Kyle Waldrop?

John Manuel: Very different, Morris has a lot less exposure, and he's a harder thrower. He's got a low 90s fastball and a big, hard curveball that is one of the best in the draft. The other similarity is perceived signability, Morris' father is a junior college assistant coach and supposedly wants him to play at least a year at Motlow (Tenn.) JC, so Morris might be an expensive draft-and-follow.

 Q:  Dean Q. from Brooks, Alta asks:
Hi John, I have been reading of some rumours that the Jays are looking @ Romero, please tell me that the rumours are wrong.

John Manuel: I'm sorry, I can't tell you the rumors are wrong. It's not like they've made up their mind, they have other players in the mix (such as Jeff Clement, Tulowitzki and maybe Wade Townsend), but everything we've heard is they are interested in Romero, who I like better than the two lefties they took last year in Z. Jackson and David Purcey.

 Q:  Ted from Alaska asks:
Jordan Danks, Jay Bruce, Colby Rasmus, Andrew Mccutchen- please rank them

John Manuel: I'll go McCutchen, Rasmus, Danks and Bruce, personally.

 Q:  Kurt from Westborough, MA asks:
How do Hochevar, Pelfrey and Romero compare to last year's pitchers? Also, Wade Townsend ranks lower in your top 30 this year than he was last year. Is that indicitive of a deeper top of the draft, a decline in ability from not pitching in the past year or something else?

John Manuel: Kurt, I'm on record as a huge Jeff Niemann fan, and I'd take Jeff over any of those guys, he was stuff with command. Hochevar is similar but with less stuff, though he has some projection left. Everyone likes Pelfrey, but remember he was not good last summer for Team USA at all and needs to be more aggressive with his stuff. Romero is quite solid but there's nothing truly special about him, except for the makeup, which is outstanding.

John Manuel: I'm also on record as a Wade Townsend guy, so it's not like he's fallen much, but this is perceived to be a better draft. Don't be surprised if Wade goes higher than last year, he doesn't have great leverage, wants to sign and wants to get out and play. Wouldn't it be cool if the Rays took him and Niemann and Townsend teamed up again? Well, I'd think it was cool.

 Q:  jim from orlando asks:
What do you think of Yahmed Yema, outfielder for Florida International? He seems to be a 5-tool guy who's had a great year, probably conference MVP. Where might he fall in a draft projection?

John Manuel: He's intriguing; keep in mind he's 5-foot-11, 180 pounds or so, so he may not go really high. But the ball jumps off his bat and he's athletic, and he has a track record of hitting . . . he was MVP at a Perfect Game mega showcase a few years back in high school, playing against many of the top players in this draft.

 Q:  brian from fargo asks:
Why do you guys say that Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew will have more leverage if they go back in the draft? Honestly, if they go back in, they don't have any leverage, because the team who drafts them knows they can't go back to school, which leaves them nowhere else to turn. If owners would stand down guys like Scott Boras, who only have their interests in mind, then they couldn't get away with it anymore.

John Manuel: Well, Brian, we haven't said they have more leverage. They're both about to run out of leverage, if they go back in the draft. But leverage doesn't seem to matter much with Boras clients; they usually get what they are asking for.

 Q:  Joe E. from Omaha asks:
Will Alex Gordon unseat Darin Erstad as the best player to ever come from Nebraska?

John Manuel: I think so. He's a gifted hitter with sock from the left side and enough ability to be a good defensive 3B.

 Q:  Greg K from Cincinnati asks:
What's a realistic timeframe for Justin Upton to reach the majors, considering his tools and age?

John Manuel: Three years, as a CF.

 Q:  Dean Q. from Brooks, Alta asks:
Braun over Clement, and yes it is just 2 spots, but why has Clement apparently dropped?

John Manuel: Braun's very toolsy and has plenty of offensive upside, plus you could try him at a premium position such as SS (he's probably not good enough there), 3B (ditto) or CF or RF. He's just so athletic. I don't think Clement has dropped too far, but others have emerged.

 Q:  john from rhode island asks:
do you see any players from new england going in top 5 rounds,,, thanks

John Manuel: yes, how about No. 29 on our draft tracker, Matt Torra of Massachusetts. Torra needs to get some help from UMass' coaches, who have had h im throw up to 150 pitches in a start; if he stays healthy, he should go in the first 50 picks. He was the No. 5 prospect in the New England Collegiate League in 2003 for those of you who want to dig through the BA archives, and he's a similar guy now, but his velo has jumped from 90-91 at that time to 92-94. He's got a power breaking ball and a durable body.

 Q:  Becky from Toledo asks:
Trevor Crowe is having a great year! Do you see him being a 1st rounder, and do you like his potential. Thanks!

John Manuel: We do, hence his inclusion on our Draft Tracker.

 Q:  Todd Russell from Chesapeake, Va. asks:
What do you see the Orioles doing with their pick? I know the draft has been an adventure the last few years for the O's but with the new regime in place, I would like your thoughts on what they might do. Thanks.

John Manuel: The Orioles pick 13th. I haven't spoken to Joe Jordan, t heir new scouting director, but I have heard good things about him, he's another graduate of Expos U. Jordan's track record indicates a proclivity for toolsy outfielders, and there are plenty in this draft, from Maybin and McCutchen to Bruce and C.J. Henry.

 Q:  Javier from Corpus Christi, Texas asks:
Know that the TAMU-CC Islanders are an independent team, they have two prospects players that have not had any recognition. They are Jaime Landin which has a 427 batting average (10th in the nation), 7 triples (12 in the nation), and 65 runs scored (20 in the nation)and Trey Hearnes which is 12 in the nation with 118 strikeouts and 8 wins. Will they receive a fair opportunity to get drafted and if so in what round early, middle, or end? Thanks.

John Manuel: These are both solid players who could go in the 7th-15th round range, just depends on the team. Landin has gap power and solid actions at the plate. Hearne is a classic college pitcher with good command of an average fastball and breaking ball. Neither is going to go super high, but they both should get drafted.

 Q:  Frank from Germany asks:
Can you tell me about Chris Volstad?

John Manuel: He's tall, power stuff that is still inconsistent at times, performs best against better competition. For some, he lacks the killer instinct to be a front-line pitcher down the line, more of a 3rd starter type, even though his stuff may be better than that down the line.

 Q:  Lloyd Mitchell from Brooklyn Ny asks:
Will the presence of Cameron Maybin at TC Roberson high school unlock some of the hidden gems in North Carolina? How good is Justin Jackson where does he in the class of 2007.How good is their ace Josh Thrailkill where does he rank in the Class of 2006? Also what is the word on New Berns High's Adam Warren? Thanks love the chats

John Manuel: The '06 and '07 classes h ave to be better than '05, because Maybin might be the only N.C. prep player drafted high enough to sign. Warren is expected to go to North Carolina and not get drafted high enough to sway him from that commitment. Roy Williams also would like to know if he can play decent post defense.

 Q:  Barry from Viera, FL asks:
Who is Boras representing in this draft class?

John Manuel: To our knowledge, the list includes Pawelek, Teagarden, Hansen, T. Greene, Hochevar, Jason Neighborgall, McCormick and Pelfrey.

 Q:  Mick from South Carolina asks:
Who will be the top draft picks this year for the USC Gamecocks? Also, where do you project the three senior RHP's to get selected (McCamie, Fletcher, Rawl)?

John Manuel: Top Gamecock pick will either be SS Stephen Tolleson, who's pretty similar to his dad, or OF Michael Campbell, whose bat hasn't progressed as scouts hoped and who probably is a tweener, a fourth OF. The three pitchers you named are just solid senior signs; the eligible sophomores who don't pitch (Beverly, Lalor, Hempy) on weekends and the one who does but isn't draft eligible (Wynn Pelzer) are all better drafts.

 Q:  Ryan from Ma asks:
Do you see the redsox going with any high school players in the first round this year since they have 6 picks in 59.

John Manuel: I would expect the Sox could gamble and take a prep player or two or three with their extra picks; their top bonus under the current administration is to a prep player, remember, in Mike Rozier.

 Q:  Erick from NYC asks:
Hello John, With their highest pick in years, what kind of players do you see the Yankees being involved with? Please not another David Parrish pick!

John Manuel: I'd expect the Yanks to continue their trend from the last two years and be much more aggressive in the draft. Their group at Charleston from last year's draft is starting to pay some dividends.

 Q:  Tim from Orlando, FL asks:
The Florida Gators are having a solid season. Who are the top draft prospects for this year? Senior OF Jeff Corsaletti is having a huge year. Where will he get selected on draft day?

John Manuel: Corsaletti's a solid draft, first 10 rounds, 7-9th round probably. Justin Tordi may not go high enough for him to sign, and who knows where Alan Horne will go. It's hard to say; he's got top three rounds stuff, and someone will like him well enough to take him high despite concerns over his competitive fire. The Gators will have a huge impact on the draft next year.

 Q:  Mark L. Peel from Arlington Heights, IL asks:
John, where do you see RHS Mike Bowden from Aurora, IL, going? Any indications that the Cubs or the White Sox are looking at him seriously?

John Manuel: I t hink they should look at h im, he's a second-round talent, if not better.

John Manuel: Sorry, I haven't mentioned that this is supposed to be the lightning round!

 Q:  Tyler E. Closson from Chico, CA asks:
Any chance Upton falls to Royals at no. 2? If not who are they looking at?

John Manuel: Chance he falls, yet, but I doubt they spend the cash ($4.5 million or so) to sign him.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
You say Boras clients get paid, but Drew and Weaver are not getting paid and could lose dollars this year. They could also lose development and future dollars by sitting out a year. Does Boras ever do pre-draft deals where they agree on a contract before the draft?

John Manuel: To my knowledge, pre-draft deals don't happen with Boras clients. You're right, Drew and Weaver are sitting and could lose out. But Bobby Hill held out and got his cash. So did J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek . . .not saying Boras' approach is right or wrong, just telling it like it is

 Q:  Barry from Nashville asks:
Where do you picture Vanderbilt stars such as Ryan Mullins, Warner Jones, and Jensen Lewis being picked in the draft?

John Manuel: All could go in the first five rounds, though Mullins has had a rough spring both on the field (stuff is down) and off (we've said that already). Lewis is solid, not enough of a breaking ball to be an elite pick, but he's got some pitchability and athletic ability. W. Jones had a better year last year but his hand-eye coordination is good.

 Q:  Rick from Miami, FL asks:
Who are the best college seniors in this years draft and where will they get picked?

John Manuel: Beset college seniors . . . Larish is one, Ryan Patterson at LSU, Neil Jamison (LBSU) and Jimmy Shull (Cal Poly), Seth Johnston and Tommy Manzella (both already mentioned), Cameron Blair (Texas Tech) are a few. A fifth-year senior to throw in is Cal State Fullerton 3B Ronnie Prettyman.

 Q:  Ernie from Avenel, NJ asks:
Assuming Upton goes 1st and KC passes on Gordon does Seattle take Gordon after signing Beltre long-term ?

John Manuel: I have heard Tulowitzki and Zimmerman for them.

 Q:  Tom from Atlanta asks:
Who are the top draft and follows for this year? In particular, do the Braves have any significant ones?

John Manuel: The Braves do and just signed one this week, John Ward out of Florida . . .

John Manuel: Among other college seniors I should have included are Georgia College LHP Matt Goyen and Boston College LHP Michael Wlodarczyk, and RHP Kevin Ardoin out of Louisiana-Lafayette.

 Q:  Lauren from FL asks:
Are the comparisions of Josh Fields to Alex Gordon fair. Who has the higher ceiling.

John Manuel: I don't see it. Gordon's a lot more polished and a lefthanded bat, and he makes much more consistent contact. Nothing against Fields, but Gordon's better.

Moderator: Well, it's been 2 hours plus, sorry, I'm just going to have to go ahead and go. Thanks for all the great questions and for taking the time.