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Prospects Chat with John Manuel

Moderator: John Manuel will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison, WI asks:
WOW, Justin Upton is ontop of the shortstop list over Brandon Wood. Does Upton warrant this type of respect without ever facing professional pitching? While Wood on the other hand has emerged as a power hitting shortstop, a tough thing to find, and has been likened to the great Cal Ripken Jr. I don't understand how Upton can appear ontop of this list without playing in a pro game thus far in his career. If Upton is number one on the shortstop list; shouldn't a guy like Cameron Maybin or Chris Volstad be mentioned on the outfield or starting pitcher list respectfully?

John Manuel: Welcome everyone to the chat. I know many of you already have asked question, but I want to just stress again, these are MY rankings, not necessarily the view of everyone at BA. But I thought it would be a fun story to do and generate some chatter, and that's why we have the chat.

John Manuel: On to the question at hand . . . Blake, I have $6.1 million reasons to put Upton at No. 1 among SS prospects, and while I like Maybin and Volstad and other '05 high school draftees a lot, Upton is in another category for me. If I thought he couldn't play SS, I would have put him at No. 1 among OFs. His offensive potential surpasses even that of Brandon Wood, and Wood's is significant. I just think he has .300, 30-50 steals, 20-30 homers potential. Defense at SS obviously is a significant question for Upton; everyone says he has the tools, but he has to be more consistent with his throwing. It sounds like BJ, really, and Justin frankly has even more offensive upside. This is not to diminish Wood at all, he's a great player and prospect and it sounds like should be a solid average defensive SS as a major leaguer. For me, Upton is more likely to be a superstar.

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison, WI asks:
Zimmerman over Gordon? I'm confused, all the time I hear that Gordon has the higher potential than Zimmerman and it seems that in most of the previous talks of who should be on top of the other it seems that Gordon usually commands that respect. Why Zimmerman over Gordon now?

John Manuel: Blake again, this is the other limb I went out on. In my opinion, Zimmerman has been slightly undersold on his offense, which was masked somewhat by the ballpark at Virginia, which really kills power for RH hitters. He took Cesar Carillo deep last year when no one else had done so for about 80 IP; he hit in Double-A in his first pro month. He centers the ball so consistently and makes such consistent, hard contact, I just see him as a possible batting champion who plays Gold Glove defense. Honestly, I think he could be Brooks Robinson with a better bat. That's a pretty lofty projection, maybe no one is Brooks Robinson defensively, but scouts consistently tell us Zimmerman is the best defender they've ever seen, not just at third but often at any position, among amateurs.

 Q:  Chris from San Carlos, CA asks:
OK, clearly you don't rate Billingsley that far ahead of Cain, but Cain put up his number in the tough PCL and the majors where Billingsley was in AA. Verlander was in AA, had to be shut down before the end of the season, and wasn't as dominant as he should have been in college. Cain hasn't had arm problems since 2003, and has gained a lot of muscle since that time. Sure you guys don't want to rethink that? As always, these chats are the best part of Baseball America. Well, aside from the prospect book.

John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words on the chats and the Handbook. It's splitting hairs Chris. I've ranked Giants prospects for three straight years so I know Cain actually better than the other guys. It depends on the day of the week, really, between Billingsley and Verlander for me. Cain is third, just a slight step behind, because I'm just not as confident in his fastball command and overall control. He was only five walks away from leading the PCL in that department; he'd rank first if he had half that many walks, but that's a concern for me.

 Q:  CJ from FL asks:
Markakis and Butler ahead of Quentin? Why is this?

John Manuel: Always have loved Quentin and his warrior mentality when he was at Stanford; I'll never forget him playing through a bum elbow that needed Tommy John surgery and throwing underhand in Omaha at times, to preserve the "one throw" he said he had in him every day. That said, Markakis is the most well-rounded player of the three, and I really like his future offensive potential. Butler might have more bat, but he's just a brutal defender and I gave the all-around player the nod. And no, Markakis being Greek had nothing to do with it . . . seriously.

 Q:  Alec from Scottsdale asks:
I'm just curious as to the omission of Dustin Nippert from the top righthanders, and Miguel Montero from the catchers. It seemed as if Montero was rated above some other catchers in the prospect handbook, like J.R. Towles and Chris Ianetta.

John Manuel: Lots of great questions today . . . bear with me while I plow through. Nippert just missed; I'm a big Nippert fan, and frankly he probably should be in the Others to Consider portion. I did a Prospect Pulse note on him late in the year, and his stuff was back according to the scouts we talked to. In fact, his changeup had picked up and become a nice option for him. He's crucial, for me, for the D-backs future, their system is so packed with prospects, but it always helps to have pitching depth. Most of the rest of their pitchers are '05 draftees. As for Montero, Towles is more of a sleeper, and I believe in Iannetta's defense more. Iannetta also handled Double-A better than Montero, but it's not like I think Montero is an NP; I just like him a little less than the others listed.

 Q:  C Koch from Lincoln, NE asks:
Just curious...did you not count some of the younger guys due to the fact that they are a long ways from the majors? IE Mark Pawelek? Or were there just that many great lefties in the game today that he did not get consideration?

John Manuel: That was tough, it's really kind of a gut feel, and I just don't have much track record to go on with a prep lefthander from Utah. Stuff-wise, Pawelek certainly has enough to be in the top 10 I listed, but I wasn't as confident in him as I was guys such as Upton and Cam Maybin, etc. Also that is a pretty solid pool of LHPs, that definitely was a factor.

 Q:  Thomas from Huntington asks:
Do you think Milledge will be the mets left fielder in 2007? or if they make a run, will they trade him for a top flight starting pitcher and do you think he is going to be that good that he should be untouchable? Pelfrey's chances of being in rotation by september? Thanks for the time.

John Manuel: I don't think the Mets know what they are going to do with Milledge yet. I honestly feel like they are in a wait-and-see mode and holding onto Milledge as their last trade chip for their run at the NL East this year. If they don't need to deal him, then certainly he's in the mix when a spot opens up in LF. I don't think anyone is untouchable for Omar Minaya. As for Pelfrey in the rotation by September, signs point to now. He has the command to move that quickly, he pounds the K zone more than the average college pitcher, but I think he'll need more time to hone a breaking ball.

 Q:  Michael Ageno from Danville, CA asks:
You already have Joel Guzman moving to the outfield because of Furcal and LaRoche. How do you see the Stephen Drew and Justin Upton SS battle working out?

John Manuel: Good question; I actually have Guzman moving to the corner OF because I don't think he can play SS at the big league level. I moved Blake DeWitt to 2B as well, because it sounds like he profiles best there and the Dodgers probably are moving him. If Upton can play SS, Stephen Drew slides to 2B and becomes the better Todd Walker that many scouts predicted when he was in college.

 Q:  nate from tucson asks:
what's the deal with leaving matt kemp off the corner OF list? He had a great year at vero in 2005 and is only going to get better with his strike zone discipline and pitch recognition.

John Manuel: He had a very good year, no doubt, but how do you know he's going to get better with his K-zone discipline and pitch recognition? I don't know that for sure, and that made me hesitant to rank him higher. I am a Kemp fan, but he also had massive home-road splits last year--.361 with 22 homers at home, .246 and 5 homers on the road. For me, he needs to show a little more consistency at Double-A.

 Q:  Richard from texas asks:
Do you think Omar Quintanilla has a shot at being in colorado this season , and what are your thoughts on him long term ?

John Manuel: I've always liked Omar, Richard, dating back to his Longhorns days, hearing Augie Garrido and Wayne Graham at Rice talk about his savvy, and USA Baseball officials talk about his ability to make contact. He's a 2B profile and No. 2-hole hitter profile, though he's got to draw more walks to be a real good 2-hole guy. If he can't do that, he's a nice utility player, can play short OK and third in a pinch, and he's a solid LH bat. That's a good profile for an extra infielder. I do not think he has the power or speed to be an impact big leaguer, however.

 Q:  brent from florida asks:
Which of these 3 atlanta arms has the most potential out of Anthony Lerew Chuck James Kyle Davies. Also do you think any or all of these guys will see the Atlanta rotation at some time and any this season ?

John Manuel: Hard not to like Davies for his moxie and advanced command, which got him to the ATL so quickly in the first place. It sounds like Lerew has consistently better stuff, particularly when his slider is on. James is third for me but it's hard to discount him because of the amazing success he had last season, plus he's a lefthander. He's one of the tougher players to rank because of his age, being an LHP, his poor GB-FB ratio and his otherwise dominating numbers. Lots of mixed signals there.

 Q:  Mike from Florida asks:
Could Jason Kubel be a real solid bat in minnesota ? Seems to have alot of talent and scouts say the ball jumps off his bat , but does the knee injury hurt his potential ?

John Manuel: He might have to be, the Twins need the offense, and Kubel is their best bat in the minors. His knee injury does cloud the issue, because that's an organization that values defense, and our last report in the late fall had Kubel still tentative about cutting and running the way he would have to if he were to play a corner outfield spot. What kind of shape will he be in after that kind of knee injury? I'm a bit skeptical, frankly, that he'll play much OF in 2006, but he probably will hit his way into the lineup as a DH anyway.

 Q:  Rick Blenk from Freeport, ME asks:
Why was Russ Martin ahead of Jeff Clement and Neil Walker?

John Manuel: Martin's defense is very good compared to those two, and his bat is a nice package. H moved up to Double-A, improved his walk rate (it already was stellar), stole some bags and posted a .430 OBP. I'm with the scouts who project him to hit 15-20 home runs at his peak, and that would make him an above-average offensive player to go with his plus defense and leadership ability. I'm also extremely sold on Martin's makeup.

 Q:  John from Texas asks:
What do you think of Justin Huber in KC , does he get a shot at some regular AB's this season and how do ya see him long term?

John Manuel: Huber has a nice future, his power potential is the biggest question, and it looks like he's more of a 20-homer guy than a true masher. That keeps him from being an elite prospect. It's hard to see how he'll get playing time in 2006 for Kansas City with Sweeney and Mientkiewicz around, but these things have a way of working out, particularly if Huber hits. It's hard to imagine Sweeney still being a Royal if they continue to struggle.

 Q:  Jimmy from Texas asks:
How is Jeff Niemann coming along and how do you see his long term value now ?

John Manuel: It's well documented that I'm a Niemann and Wade Townsend apologist . . . Niemann is the only one of the Rice trio (including Humber) who hasn't had Tommy John surgery, and he's had assorted other woes that have limited him to 31 innings as a pro. Really, all Niemann has to do is stay healthy. It's hard to say if he can or will do that, but I believe that when healthy, he's got two major league plus pitches in his fastball and slider. His long-term ceiling hasn't changed; his chances of reaching it have diminished, it's fair to say.

 Q:  Dave from Louisiana asks:
What do ya see longterm out of Matt Harrison in atlanta, he seems to be moving up the ladder in the atl system steadily.

John Manuel: Another guy I'm an apologist for. I've had scouts rave about Harrison to me more than managers did in the SAL; two scouts I talked to project him to have either three average big league pitches, to go with his 60 or 70 command (on the 20-80 scale), or perhaps two or all three of those pitches being plus pitches to go with his command. One of those two scouts thought Harrison was a future No. 2 starter, a lofty projection.

 Q:  Teddy from Boston asks:
Hey John...will any of these prospects have any immediate Fantasy value this year??? My draft is on Tuesday and im thinking Liriano and Hermida might be worth taking later in the draft

John Manuel: Well, Teddy, a lot of them do . . . the two you mentioned might be at the top of the list. As I've stated, I believe in Zimmerman, even as a rookie in an unforgiving ballpark. Orioles reliever Chris Ray should have some value, as he's slated to closer for the O's this year, and Prince Fielder is the other obvious answer, he's going to camp as the Brewers' 1b. My other choice would be Justin Verlander, I just think he's going to pitch his way into Detroit's rotation and do very well.

 Q:  gerard ba fan from birth from new york city asks:
Dear John Great job on the prospect lists! Do you see Jackson and Tiffany futures as relievers or starters? who got the better of the Dodger- Tampa trade?

John Manuel: Thank you for the compliment. Jackson and Tiffany were a good package for Baez, essentially, because Lance Carter is as fungible as it gets. I'm starting to think Jackson just needs to go to the bullpen, blow gas and not worry as much about his feel for pitching, which is lacking. More than that, he needs some confidence. Tiffany needs to be in good shape but if he can do that (easy for me to say . . .) he's got a chance to be a No. 4 starter. He's got average stuff and above-average command and pitchability. Nice pickups for the Rays, who suddenly have a deep stable of pitchers that should help them improve in the next two years.

 Q:  Marcus from Lubbock, TX asks:
What is your take on the way Danks, Diamond, and Volquez finished last season? Are you concerned with their not-so-good ERA at Frisco?

John Manuel: I like the Rangers' depth of prospects but I'm not sold on any single Rangers prospect; they all have some warts. For the DVD trio all three just haven't performed at Double-A; if is a concern for me, and Volquez also got pounded in the big leagues, which wasn't good to see. If forced to pick one, I have to go with Volquez because his raw stuff is the best, and I'd go Volquez, Danks, Diamond, which also is how Aaron Fitt wrote it up in the Handbook. Danks might have the best shot at staying a starter, because he has two secondary pitches he can go to, the curve and changeup, while both Volquez and Diamond have shaky breaking balls.

 Q:  Joe from Frisco, TX asks:
I'm interested to hear your predictions on who you think will be the ALNL Rookies of the Year. I think the obvious choice would be Zimmerman in the NL, but do you think there is any chance that Drew, Hermida, or C. Jackson could sneak in and beat him out? Also, will D. Young get enough playing time this year to challenge? Thanks for taking my question!

John Manuel: I actually think Hermida is the better choice than Zimmerman for ROY; as difficult as the Marlins situation will be, and as much as I like Zimmerman, I think Hermida is the better hitter. Prince Fielder is also a better candidate than Zimmerman at this time. Washington also has some ugly potential in the MLB club with the Alfonso Soriano situation, and forgive me for not having tons of confidence in either Frank "sit this one out, Joe Mauer" Robinson and Jim Bowden running the joint. In the AL, Kubel would be a good sleeper pick because if he's healthy, he could really hit and put up numbers as a rookie. Others to consider are Ian Kinsler in Texas, Jon Papelbon in Boston and Dustin McGowan in Toronto. I may have left someone out . . . ah. Andy Marte in Cleveland, should be reaady this year.

 Q:  pete north from whitesboro, ny asks:
where do you see shoppach fitting into the indians' big picture with victor martinez behind the plate and ryan garko being a possible dh candidate. Strictly a backup or trade bait for another move?

John Manuel: I think you have the read on it, he's going to be a backup for now and a possible bargaining chip if Cleveland's pitching works out and it's in the hunt in '06.

 Q:  Marcus from Lubbock, TX asks:
What is the state of the Rangers farm system? With Kinsler, Arias, Mayberry, and Teagarden coming along, along with some promising pitchers (DVD, Hurley, Rupe), where do the Rangers rate among the best systems in baseball?

John Manuel: Gonna try to go quicker here . . . The Rangers are in the middle for me and we ranked them 16th out of the 30 organizations. There is some depth, but it's hard to see a future star there.

 Q:  Bryan Holland from Leesburg, Va. asks:
Where does Ceasar Carillo rank amongst your RHP? He is the Padres #1 prospect, but didn't make your overall list?

John Manuel: Carillo just missed the "others" list, just a little hesitant about his '05 workload and his slender frame. It's more a function of I didn't 'want to go too far over 20 RHPs, and he's not far from the top 20. He also was a first-round pick this year, and the Padres' NO. 1 as you said, so I felt he really can't be called a "sleeper."

 Q:  Mark from Irvine asks:
Where would George Kottaras rank if you had gone deeper with catchers?

John Manuel: He also just missed; I'm just not sure what to make of his defense, and defense is still the most important tool for a C. I'm not 100 percent convinced Kottaras will be average defensively or remain behind the plate with his somewhat slight frame.

 Q:  J.P from texas asks:
where do you see cliff pennington in the A's future

John Manuel: I was just debating this yesterday with a good friend. Pennington, when you think about it, compares pretty favorably to the likes of JJ Hardy and Khalil Greene, other SS prospects we've rated pretty highly. In fact, he's got better tools at SS than either of them. I am not as sold on his bat as I was on that duo, but I like his chances to be a solid average offensive player. Will he be better than Bobby Crosby or Mark Ellis, version 2005? Hard to say . . . I'd say no, just a shade below, but he's a nice trade piece otherwise, and another guy with super makeup.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
John - I was surprised to not see any mention of Robert Valido in the SS listings - no top 10, no others to consider, or even sleeper. Here is a guy who has gold glove caliber defense, can hit, can run, and looks to be the White Sox next SS in a year or two. Was it his "little problem" that is keeping him off the list? Are all the guys listed really better than him?

John Manuel: Valido isn't as good as those other guys--Winston-Salem is a hitter's paradise, and his power spike came in a year when he was suspended for performance-enhancing substances. I'm just not nearly as high on him, especially offfensively, as you are.

 Q:  Mark from Detroit asks:
Brent Clevlen couldn't even make the others to consider list, he had a great year and shows excellent power potential and has improved allot defensively.

John Manuel: Mark, he was under consideration, I just would project him as a solid average player and rated guys ahead of him who I think have slightly (or a lot more) offensive potential. It was close, and I like Clevlen, but I like the other guys a bit better.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
John - How close was Jacoby Ellsbury to making the list for Center Fielders. I didn't see him mentioned at all which I found surprising. He can run, defend, and hit, and will be the new Johhny Damon in Boston shortly. Was it his lack of power that kept him off the charts?

John Manuel: Michael, I like Ellsbury fine, but I'm not convinced he's so automatic. The rest of those guys are five-tool profile guys, at least average in all five (or in the ones that count, because let's face it, throwing arm is not that important anymore), with the exception of Span. Span does all the things Ellsbury does, but he's done it at Double-A. I gave Span the edge, and if there were one more name to add, it would be Ellsbury, but there had to be a cutoff somewhere.

 Q:  Alex from San Francisco, CA asks:
Who's the Giants 2B of the future? Sanders or Frandsen? It seems to me that Frandsen hits too well to be a utility man. Would Frandsen's presence increase the chances of Sanders getting moved to the OF?

John Manuel: I almost hate to say it, but Frandsen has to do it again to completely prove to me he's more than a utility guy. If he does and establishes himself, then yes, Sanders could very well move to CF. That might have to happen anywhere; of course, the Giants hold out hope that this second arm surgery for Sanders helps him stay at SS, making this discussion moot.

 Q:  Andy Cook from San Jose asks:
You listed Kevin Frandsen's ETA as 2006. If Ray Durham were to go down with a injury this year (which is always a possibility with him), do you think the Giants would give Frandsen a chance to playtake over (depending on the injury) or would they use a veteran like Vizcaino to fill in? How much of this depends on the time of year and what place the Giants are in?

John Manuel: Andy, your former teammate at SJSU (at least I think) will get a chance this year, I believe, if he hits. He's versatile enough and has such great makeup that he will accept a role as a reserve as a rookie and think nothing of it, and he could be a very valuable reserve, he can fill in at SS and 3B fine. It does depend on what happens in SF, though. Sooner or later, they will go into rebuild mode, and I think they see Frandsen as part of that.

 Q:  Thom Gentz from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
Looking over the top right handed pitchers, there isn't really a lock #1 guy there, though there a lot of guys that may make it to that level. Is this the least talented group in the past few years?

John Manuel: That's fair, though I think Billingsley has what it takes, and Verlander certainly has No. 1 stuff. But there's no King Felix here, that's for sure.

 Q:  Norville Barnes from Muncie, IN asks:
I'd love to see prospect lists that included all amateurs and foreign players. Has BA ever considered a set of rankings that would meld high schoolcollegeminorsforeigners into one set? Who (that is now excluded) might make the top end of a top 100 if the other groups were included?

John Manuel: Intriguing question. I'm not sure too many amateurs this year would crack many of these lists, it's kind of a down HS class, maybe not down as much as it is muddled at this point. Andrew Miller at UNC would certainly rank among the top LHPs, but I'm not sure abou the other college RHPs at this point. I probably would find room for Cuba's Yulieski Gourriel somewhere at 2b or 3b, depending on where scouts think he would fit, but it's a good future idea. You know, for kids.

 Q:  Dennis Hakes from Warner Robins GA asks:
The qoute that Broxton may be a grade or two below Jenks. Compare their pitches and what gives Jenks that big of the advantage.

John Manuel: Jenkity Jenks has an 80 FB and 80 curveball when he's right. Broxton's just not quite that good, though he touched triple digits out of the pen, I've heard 70s thrown around on Broxton but 80s on Jenks. That's pretty special.

 Q:  Rowdy Hardy from Clarksville, TN asks:
Who would consider the best base stealer in the minors? Anyone to challenge Ricky Henderson's records in near or distant future?

John Manuel: Marcus Sanders is my pick, speed with savvy and the boldness to steal a lot of bases. But no one's touching Rickey's 130 or career mark in the near future, not that I can see, people just don't play that way anymore and Rickey was a very unique player.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
Hey John, great breakdown today. Did Jay Bruce have a shot at making the list and, if so, would he have been at corner OF or CF?

John Manuel: By the way, if that was really Rowdy Hardy, good luck this year at APSU . . .

John Manuel: sorry for the delay, had a phone call I had to take. Bruce, to make the list now, would have had to be in CF, I might be a little slow on him, I know Jim Callis is a big Bruce fan, and he's in the mix for our Top 100 that we'll have out soon.

 Q:  Steve from SoCal asks:
thanks for the chat john. . . Is Justin Upton pretty much a no brainer as the number two prospect in baseball now that he is signed? I also found it interesting that for this list he remained at SS when it seems no. 3 SS prospect Stephen Drew will be the D'Backs SS with Upton shifting to the OF. (second part is a statement, but feel free to comment)

John Manuel: He is for me, definitely in the mix for No. 1. My only point on the Upton v. Drew debate at SS is, as good as Drew is, Upton has more talent, and he's going to be the one to dictate who plays SS as a result.

 Q:  Dan from Arlington, VA asks:
Have you heard anything about Ryan Basner? He ended the year in Richmond (AAA-Braves). With the addition of Devine, it appears that the Braves have some quality arms on the way. What are Basner's chances of being in a Braves uniform this season?

John Manuel: Former Catamounts ace Ryan Basner? Yes, I know him, saw him in college and like his arm, but I just wanted to type "Catamounts" and give WCU's Todd Raleigh and Chris Roberts, his former pitching coach who is now at NC State, some props. If it all works out for Basner, he's a middle reliever.

 Q:  Joe from Isla Verde, Puerto Rico asks:
Not that I disagree, but could you explain why Carlos Gonzalez is ranked ahead of Joel Guzman? Is it because Guzman is not yet an OF? Guzman seemed to accomplish more as a 19 yr old last year (reached and succeeded in AA) than Gonzalez did this year.

John Manuel: I'm probably not as high on Joel Guzman as others, I'm just not convinced he'll make consistent enough contact to unleash his plus-plus power. He's more boom-or-bust than the players ranked ahead of him such as Gonzales.

 Q:  Theo from Beantown asks:
John, are you a Yankee fan? Your bias is showing...just bc Duncan had a good AFL shouldn't put him in the top prospects. If so, Kevin Howard should be in the top 5! Also, 2 NYY sleepers? $20 says you bleed pinstripes.

John Manuel: I'm only posting this so that my co-workers and wife who see the hooded sweatshirt that I wear out can have a good laugh. First base is a thin position, and Duncan has very good power. He's been rushed, but the LH power is still there.

 Q:  Andy P from Sarver, PA asks:
Do you feel Ryan Zimmerman has a higher ceiling compared to Troy Glaus?

John Manuel: I'll just say i'd rather have Zimmerman playing 3B and in my clubhouse. He has nowhere near Glaus' power, and Glaus has been a World Series MVP, but I'd rather have Zim and think long-term, he'll have had the better career.

 Q:  rick from Carbondale IL asks:
I noticed that the CHicago Whitesox Corner Outfield prospect Ryan Sweeney was kept off the list completely, Does he need more power in his bat to get on this list or is his potential that much below the other prospects?

John Manuel: I know the Sox like his swing and he's been rushed, but he hasn't slugged .400 for his career (.381), and he's a corner outfielder. I just want to see more power; I don't think that's unreasonable.

 Q:  Jody from Chicago, IL asks:
Thanks for taking our questions today John. Regarding James Loney, you state in this article that scouts worry about Loney's bat speed and I've never heard that before. I've always heard that he has plenty of bat speed but does not put enough backspin on the ball to hit for significant power. Can you shed any light?

John Manuel: You didn't read my Jacksonville Suns cover story? That's too bad . . . I wrote it then about Loney, so this wasn't exactly a bombshell. Even in the '05 Handbook, we wrote there were questions about his swing path. In fact, I just went back through all the Handbooks he's been in, and we've never written that he has great bat speed, only that he has a classic, smooth swing and stays inside the ball well. He uses the whole field, but the scouts I talked to last year said this was as much a result of him being unable to turn on a good fastball as a mature approach.

 Q:  Jim from Pere-Lachasie, Paris asks:
Pick me...I'm wondering if you guys project Jeff Clemment to be an allstar major leaguer? Everybody talks about the lightower power he didnt put up monster HR numbers in college...

John Manuel: Bonjour Jim . . . I do think Clement can be a star, he might be a .260 hitter but he'll hit 25 homers if he hits .260, and that's an all-star if he's an average or even fringe-average defender at C. Clement has improved his plate discipline and ability to use the whole field the last two years, two reasons why I believe in him.

 Q:  Magnolia Fan from something.Com asks:
Working for what is probably the most respected publication in regards to minor league baseball, how do you feel about bloggers and other websites using your lists as their "source" for inoformation when compiling their own lists and player bios.

John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words. As long as information that comes from BA is credited as having come from BA, we're fine with being referenced. I don't think that's too much to ask.

 Q:  David from Woodbridge, VA asks:
Hi John, Thanks for the chat this afternoon. Washington's rhp Clint Everts is on your to mentions list. I look forward to see him pitch this year with the Potomac Nationals team. I understand he has recovered from TJ and is ready for SP. Do you think with his outstanding curve and change, will he get called up in Sept or before? He could sure help the Nats situation with SP's. Thanks, David - Woodbridge, VA

John Manuel: David, I'm with you, I think Everts is going to bust out in '06, healthy and two years removed from TJ, having matured into his body. And remember, he had dominant numbers even when he was hurt in 2004 in the SAL. I'm an Everts fan.

 Q:  david johnson from rhode island asks:
Did david Purcey come close at all to making to lefty list with that upside of his?

John Manuel: He actually did; I've never been a huge Purcey fan but he's a power LHP witih some success on his track record, particularly his late Double-A finish. I'm wary of his command and wonder if he's not headed for the bullpen long-term, though.

 Q:  Chuck from Toledo asks:
Hi, John. It seems Josh Boyd was right to defend his boy Bobby Jenks even when things looked bleak for him. I believe the concerns regarding his makeup were legitmate and reasonable. In your estimation, how seldom is it that minor leaguers with such a deserved poor reputation overcome their issues and get their "makeup" together and go on to have success at the major league level?

John Manuel: Give it up to Josh on that one, that's for sure. Jenks is the classic example of championship tools that we talk about at BA so often. But who's to say that he's past his makeup issues? I'm not sure that he's a good bet to be a long-term success, but I'm betting White Sox fans don't really care right now. It's more rare to see guys whose makeup gets questioned that make it or maximize their potential. Guys like Huston Street who can play and have great makeup, or Mark Prior, or Joe Mauer and Rickie Weeks . . . those kinds of guys have the perfect combination.

 Q:  Russ from Grass Valley, CA asks:
Dan Meyer seems to have fallen off the prospect radar. He didn't make the A's 2006 top 10 list; whereas, last year he was probably the A's #3 prospect going into the season. Has his stock dropped that much just due to his injury, or is there more to this? Do you expect to regain his status this year?

John Manuel: It wasn't just that Meyer didn't perform in '05, it was everything--he was hurt, his stuff wasn't good, he didn't show aptitude. His stock has dropped that much; it was a complete collapse. If it comes back together for him, it will be pretty important for the A's, because other than Shane Komine, there's not another starting pitcher ready to step in. That could change if John Rheinecker gets healthy, but that finger injury seems to be difficult for him to get past.

 Q:  Ian from Illadelph asks:
Please justify Marcus Sanders over Dustin Pedroia. My BA subscription renewal rests upon your answer. The clock is ticking...

John Manuel: That's a ceiling deal, and I like Pedroia a lot. I consider Sanders the best leadoff hitter in the minors--a line-drive bat, ability to take a walk and game-changing speed combined with baserunning savvy. Just harder to find than Pedroia's tools, and that's even with Pedroia's tools playing up because of his outstanding makeup, drive and desire.

 Q:  Josh from WI asks:
Which prospect has a higher ceiling, Jeff Clement or Troy Tulowitzki?

John Manuel: Tulo, an offensive player who can play SS, he's not too far behind Wood and Drew.

 Q:  Catfish Hunter from Oakland, CA asks:
John, whose career do you think Daric Barton's will most resemble? Is there any chance that we've got another potential Mark McGwire here in Oakland?

John Manuel: He's about half McGwire's size even before the Andro, so I just don't know that I would go in that direction. Maybe John Olerud is a better comp.

 Q:  David from Las Vegas, NV asks:
I was suprised to see that there was no mention of Franklin Morales anywhere, even as a sleeper for left handed pitching prospects. He throws harder than a lot of other lefties and has a very high ceiling.

John Manuel: With all due respect to Tracy Ringolsby, the reports I had on Morales in the SAL recognized his great velocity but doubted his secondary pitches and command and had him pegged as more of a reliever. I had two comps to Jose Capellan on him, which makes him an interesting prospect certainly, but I guess I just have to see him do it again before I jump on that bandwagon.

 Q:  David from Las Vegas,NV asks:
With the type of season he had, i was sure that Shane Lindsay would get some recognition. Reports are that he has a little bit of damage in the labrum, but its not going to require surgery, so that cant hurt him as much as previously thought.

John Manuel: Another Rockies Q from David . . . I'll wait and see how Lindsay responds from a shoulder injury. Shoulder problems are big problems, much more worrisome than elbow injuries because it's a lot more complicated joint and a lot more can go wrong; when things go wrong, it's also harder to fix. So I erred on the side of caution with Lindsay.

 Q:  charles pannhorst from florida asks:
BA continues to amaze me when you can leave a guy like Yusi Petit off the list for RH starters because a few scouts can't see why he dominates hitters with his 51285 BBK ratios in 213 IP.....the guy obviously knows how to pitch and get hitters out. Scouts today would diss guys like Maddux because he only throws 90 MPH......what gives?

John Manuel: You know that Maddux was a second-round pick, right? That means scouts liked him. Scouts like Petit, too; their job is to project, though, and they look at his stuff and project a No. 3 starter. I don't think anyone's saying Petit has Maddux-like command or a Maddux-like secondary pitch. Petit is a fine prospect; he's just not a guy who's going to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, according to pretty much anyone we've ever talked to who looks at anything but his numbers.

 Q:  Argun from LA asks:
Hello?? Andre Ethier? Ryan Garko? What do you have against college players?

John Manuel: This also struck me as so funny, it just has to be the way to end the chat. Argun, I covered college baseball for seven years, drop Drover references like there's no tomorrow and have the Omaha sports talk station on speed dial. Thanks for the laugh.

John Manuel: And thanks to everyone for the great questions, fun chat to do. If you can see the Woodmen Building or a're in the Omaha listening area, I'll be on 1620 the Zone today at 5:15 CT talking World Baseball Classic and college baseball. Otherwise, we'll be back chatting at BA in the near future when we unveil our Top 100. Enjoy.

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