John Manuel Midseason Prospects Chat

ohn Manuel: Sorry to get started a shade late. I'll try to stay 'til 5 p.m. ET.

    Brent (Appleton): Considering his performance this year, I expected Mike Montgomery to be higher on your Top 25. Is his forearm injury that big of a concern, or is he just not the potential ace that I thought him to be?

John Manuel: Only reason he wasn't higher was the injury; that's indicated in the writeup. Pitchers get hurt, I understand it's to be expected, but when you're doing a snapshot kind of list like this, I think you have to acknowledge an injury like that in some way. Ceiling remains very high; chances of reaching it took a hit when he had to be shut down.

    Brent (Appleton): Logan Morrison has more walks and a better average, but Freddie Freeman has more HR and 2B and is two years younger. What makes Morrison the better prospect?

John Manuel: The scouts that I have talked to like Morrison's bat a bit better. He does more than control the strike zone; he makes consistent hard contact, and he's showing some pop even coming off his shoulder injury. Also, Morrison's played a bit of left field this year, and one scout I talked to who had seen him do it thought it was a definite option. You can certainly make a case for Freeman between the two, but I think the bats are quite comparable, slight edge to Morrison, and Morrison's a bit more well-rounded. We made the comparison between the two last year as well, as the 1B wing men for Stanton and Heyward, and that has not changed.

    JAYPERS (IL): Which player(s) in the 26-50 range have the best chance of making the Top 25 by the time your Top 100 list comes out in February?

John Manuel: Consider than in February we'll also be considering all the 2010 draft picks who sign, and the answer may be none of them. However, Wil Myers has made a very strong impact with the talent evaluators I talked to. I was hesitant to rank him top 25 because the reports on his defense are such that most people seem to think his bat is so good, he'll wind up in RF instead of C. He was No. 26 for me and has the best shot at having a big finishing kick to his second half and moving up our list.

    Ben (Leland Grove): What is John Lamb's ceiling? Could he beat Montgomery to KC if he gets more playing time?

John Manuel: He could win the race. Lamb is quite legit; No. 2 ceiling doesn't seem to be too lofty. Knows how to use his fastball and runs it up to 95; change and curveball lack consistency but he could have a plus fastball, average command and average secondary stuff.

    Brent (Appleton): I haven't read much about Zach Britton this year, and was surprised to see him this high on the Top 25. Can you tell me a little more about his progress? Is the spike in his ranking primarily performance based, or have his pitches improved?

John Manuel: The fastball is a true plus pitch; improved slider, solid average to a tick above-average, giving him a second weapon; and he's started to improve the changeup. It isn't where it needs to go but it's making progress. He's performed; he's got a great fastball; he's durable. Pretty complete package.

    JAYPERS (IL): If the Phillies were to trade either Ibanez or Werth before the 31st would Brown step right in, or would they give him more time at Lehigh Valley first?

John Manuel: He's showing that his bat is ready. He still needs polish defensively, where he has tools to be above-average but remains a bit unskilled. Offensively, he's as ready as any prospect in the minors.

    Skrip (Chicago): John, Thanks for the chat. Can you tell me more about Martin Perez. I have heard Johan Santana comparisons, is this a fair comparison? Also, what do you see as his ETA? I realize he is 19, but could he be in Arlington next year if he finishes strong this season?

John Manuel: One point I'll make on Perez is, if he were in high Class A, he'd probably be dominating like Julio Teheran is. But the Rangers' high A affiliate is in Bakersfield, and they just don't want to send him to arguably the worst affiliation situation in the minors. I don't think there's much difference in the ceiling of the two, but it's impossible to ignore a 5.50 ERA and 5 BB per 9 IP like Perez has now. He'll be fine. The comps to Santana start physically, like all comparisons, then extend to his stuff. He definitely can be in Arlington next season, but he's clearly got work to do in terms of fastball command before he gets that call.

    JAYPERS (IL): If you had to pick your Milb POY today, how close would it be between Dom and Trout?

John Manuel: I thought it would, but then you look at it a bit more and it would have to be Brown right now, right? He has a better OPS, and while Trout probably is a better defender and has a ton of steals, do those make up for doing it as Brown has at upper levels? It does not for me. I would go Brown.

    Tom (NJ): With all the trades the Phillies have made, I think their system is still quite strong. Are they top 5 in your mind?

John Manuel: The subcriber-only piece I did (Prospect Pulse) as a companion talks a bit about that. Not sure if they're top 5 but the system is definitely replenished. I would assert no other org has as much talent in its two A-ball full-season clubs as the Phils, and their best prospect is getting ready at Triple-A in Brown. Everyone I talked to mentioned how good Clearwater and especially Lakewood are, and Lakewood probably is the most talented roster in the minors, especially when Cosart was healthy. Cosart & Colvin were quite a combo — got a report that Colvin touched 97 in the seventh inning of a recent start — and Pettibone has made significant progress. The hitters got all the attention at Lakewood early this year, and the pitchers deserve some as well. Then Justin DeFratus hit 98 in the FSL all-star game and Clearwater started getting almost as much praise.

    Ryan (Michigan): Logan Morrison has nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues. When can we expect to see him debut with the Marlins?

John Manuel: When Gaby Sanchez stops hitting, or when the Marlins decide to move Chris Coghlan back to the IF? It doesn't seem like there's an immediate opening.

    Streeter (WA): Assuming Jesus Montero is in fact headed our way, who gets the nod for #1 M's prospect, him, Ackley, Pineda, who?

John Manuel: That would be an interesting discussion. Right now I'd go Montero. I would assume he would move to 1B as a Mariner; if the Mariners think he can catch, they're in a distinct, dwindling minority. I used to hear people say, "Well, he can be Piazza defensively if he's Piazza offensively." I didn't even hear that faint praise for his defense this year. He's not a C. So he's going to have to be a 1B or DH. That's fine, Seattle needs a 4-hole hitter and most scouts believe Montero can do that.

    Brent (Appleton): Is Brett Lawrie's bat good enough to make him a full-time major league outfielder in the NL, or will his defense be a problem there as well?

John Manuel: He's athletic so he should be fine in the OF. He's got a different body type for sure but he kind of reminds me of Ryan Braun. I always thought Braun could stay in the dirt if he'd had a passion for it but he's better in the OF, and Lawrie could be similar. I do think it's more LF than RF now, got a report that his arm strength has slipped, his value is in his bat; thankfully for the Brewers, he can really hit and really run.

    JAYPERS (IL): Mike Trout made quite a jump in your rankings since the Top 100 prospects list came out. To your knowledge, has any prospect made a bigger jump in your Top 100 than him over the years?

John Manuel: I'm sure someone has jumped in similar fashion. Frankly, JAYPERS, I thought you would be the one who would know . . . Also keep in mind this is July, not a Top 100, it's a snapshot. But I didn't hear one negative on Mike Trout, just some regrets from teams that passed on him in 2009.

    Cody (The 865): How does the best hitter in the PCL not make the top 50? Arencibia is you're wondering.

John Manuel: Because he's kind of poor defensively and because, for me, I've been fooled by Arencibia before. I was on the bandwagon in 2008 pretty hard. I just don't see him starring, and I asked about catchers a lot, and his name was never mentioned in the same breath with the guys we ranked — Ramos, Rosario, Romine. I guess also it would have helped if his name started with R, although it does SOUND like it starts with R.

    Tim (Dallas): Peter Bourjos sure looks a lot like Mike Moustakas, doesn't he?

John Manuel: Both Greek-American (at least in part) and locks for our 2013 WBC lineup.

    Brent (Appleton): Which players listed 26-50 just missed making the Top 25?

John Manuel: The aforementioned Lamb and Myers; Cosart and Vizcaino, whose recent shutdowns with elbow pain kept them off; Jonathan Singleton, who is one of the minors' more exciting hitters; Brett Jackson, who got some Curtis Granderson comps.

    Steven Alengakis (Brooklyn): with Brackman, Betances, Noesi, Warren, Stoneburner, Gary Sanchez, and several other Yankees prospects (Laird, David Adams, etc) having really strong years, why were the Yankees not considered one of the rising organizations? Montero despite a down season thus far is still very highly regarded. I was just surprised they did not receive more credit considering they have had some really strong seasons from many of their prospects. Is it fair to say the Yankees system has increased its standing this season? Thank you

John Manuel: You make some good points and I would say it has been more good than bad this year for the Yanks' farm system. I would counter Warren and Stoneburner are not elite guys; you left out David Phelps, who's probably a better prospect than either of them, and has had a nice year. Sanchez just was getting started in the GCL when we were doing this; I like Noesi a lot but he's a back-of-the-rotation guy. You left out Brandon Laird, who's gone from org guy/4A talent to second-division regular in most scouts' estimations. Also, the Yanks' No. 1 prospect, Montero, was having a poor season; Banuelos has been hurt; Bleich was bad, then hurt. Montero's poor season probably weighed on my mind more than it should have when considering "up" orgs.

    Brent (Appleton): What's your latest assessment of Madison Bumgarner? Where would you rank him on the Top 25 if he were eligible?

John Manuel: He'd rank high for me; I was always the high man on him in the office. Sounds like he's added a curveball, which has helped him this year, but he'd be the top pitching prospect for me, just ahead of Hellickson. They aren't that different; Hellickson's changeup is the best secondary pitch of the bunch, but Bumgarner's fastball is at least one grade better thanks to its life, and he's a lefty. If MadBum's done in the minors, as I suspect he is, here are the final numbers: 34-6, 2.00, 356 IP, 299 H, 14 HR, 77 BB, 315 SO.

    Troy (Toronto): In your prospect hot sheet summary for Kyle Drabek you mention that scouts are saying that he is sitting 90-91mph this year. In the no hitter he just pitched, the local(Union Leader) news reports, have him sitting at 95-97mph into the 9th. What accounts for the discrepancy between the two reports? I know you have to take some readings with a grain of salt but doesn't a 5-7mph difference seem a little excessive?

John Manuel: I don't know what game(s) the scouts I talked to saw, but I know they weren't at the no-hitter. They said he was sitting 90-91, and my notes from one scout here say, "He can hit 93 or 94 when he needs it, but he was sitting 90-91, whereas last year when I saw him, it was 90-94 and he was hitting 96 or so when he wants."

    Mike Smith (New York): Graham Stoneburner is pitching really good and was a overslot draft pick. Is he for real and does he stay a SP? I love the chats!!! Thanks

John Manuel: I'm not feeling it. Fastball's straight, scouts I have talked to consider him a future reliever.

    Chris (CT): No love for Ryan Kalish?

John Manuel: He was considered, I threw his name out to several evaluators, didn't get a bite for Top 25, whereas pretty much everyone in the 26-50 range did. He feels like a sure Top 100 guy to me. Could he be Boston's No. 1 or No. 2 prospect right now? Not a great year on the farm for the Sox.

    Nicky Peaks (Cali): Juan Oramas is a young Sp for Padres and has been pitching lights out. what is his upside and do you have a scouting report on him Thanks!!!!!!!

John Manuel: Asked and answered, counselor, by Matt Eddy —

    mlbpark (Korea): What do you think about hak ju lee? Is he near the midseason ranking 50?

John Manuel: I'm excited to see him at the Futures Game, but I didn't see him as a Top 50 guy right now, would like to see more out of the bat. Too much projection, not enough production to rank him that high yet.

    Kris (Burlington): Hi John, thanks for taking our questions. Where does the Blue Jays system rank?? They have had many players performing this year. Thanks

John Manuel: It's bound to be quite a bit higher after bounce-back year by Arencibia, additions from the Phillies in the Halladay deal and obviously a huge influx of talent from the draft, as they had so many extra picks. I liked their draft too. Guessing they won't be 19th next year.

    Bo Jackson (BIRMINGHAM): I know that the braves have a stockpile of good arms in the minors, but other than Freddie Freeman, is there anyone who you could see being an impact bat in the next 2-3 years. Obviously we could use some more power and I would hate to have to give up a Teheran or Delgado to get it.

John Manuel: I really don't, but I think you knew that.

    Nate (Maryland): What is Mike Minor's ceiling? He's improved quite a few things this year, but I don't know that I've heard any revised estimates as to what he can be.

John Manuel: Minor, to me, is in a similar spot to where he was in the summer of 2008, when he was our summer college POY and ace of Team USA. He was in our Top 10 college prospects at that time; then he went and messed with a curveball in fall ball as a junior, his arm angle went up, and he lost the life on his fastball, slider and change. Instead of a guy with an avg fastball, avg. slider and plus change, he became a four-pitch guy with no plus pitch. He's ditched the curve, and his stuff is sharper. I don't think anyone was anticipating his velo jump, not even the Braves, but I got several reports he's hitting 95-96 mph consistently. As a result, he's not quite throwing as many strikes as he used to. For me, he's more of a No. 3 starter now´┐Żchance to be a 2 if he maintains the velo and improves his control. When he was drafted, I thought he was a No. 4 at best.

    Steve B (Chicago): No Derek Norris? I'm surprised to see all the catcher in your top 50 but no Norris. Why?

John Manuel: Because he's in A ball, hitting .240 or whatever, and not slugging .400. It's a snapshot ranking and right now that picture isn't enticing.

    Sherlock (Fayetteville, Ga): One Met Prospect? No Wilmer Flores, Javier Rodriguez?

John Manuel: Wilmer Flores . . . damn. He should be on there. He's a definite 26-50 guy. Sorry to see one slip through the editing process. It would be more 40-50 but I see a couple of players I'd take Flores over, such as Zach Wheeler. Thanks for pointing that out.

    tiffythetitan (Oakland, CA): Hi John, what's the deal with Zach Wheeler? It looks like he finally got back on the mound after I believe a cracked fingernail. Do you have a comparison for the type of pitcher he could become? Also, does ANYONE down on the farm besides Wheeler have any trade value? The system seems to have fallen off a cliff!

John Manuel: Wheeler's calling card as an amateur was the fastball — athleticism, arm quickness, velocity and also a chance to have real control, maybe command. It's hard to see that in one or two months of pro ball though. I think he's the org's No. 1 prospect right now and agree, there's a gap behind him because the Richmond hitters haven't responded. I wouldn't say it's fallen off a cliff, but no one has stepped into the breach to replace Bumgarner & Posey, and it lost some depth to trades the last two years as well. Who's left — Clayton Tanner? Henry Sosa? I agree, it's not a pretty picture.

    Nate (Maryland): If arodys vizcaino hadn't gotten hurt, where would he have ranked?

John Manuel: Top 25; still would have him behind Teheran, because Teheran's a bit bigger, does it easier, better change. Vizcaino has a better breaking ball; Vizcaino also now has two straight seasons ended by injury, and not freak injuries either, back and now elbow. Not encouraging.

    Troemner (On Lake Erie): Do the Reds have the prospects to get Cliff Lee?

John Manuel: They might; they have a catcher they can deal in Mesoraco (since they just drafted Grandal). They have pitching depth (they've tapped the farm team heavily this year, remain in contention and will get Volquez back soon); they have up-the-middle guys who are attractive, like Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius; and they have an aggressive, creative general manager who can make things happen.

    Eric K (Chicago): What are your thoughts on Wilin Rosario? Does he project to be the Rockies catcher of the future and when will that future begin?

John Manuel: Hearing reports of significant raw power with him, his best tool. Also got a Miguel Olivo comp on him and asked several people about him as "best C prospect in the minors," and was repeatedly told, "No."

    tiffythetitan (Oakland, CA): I was happy that Brian Sabean was able to get Michael Main in the Bengie Molian trade. Can you give us an update on what we can expect from him at this point? I believe he's repeating HiA ball? Anything in particular go wrong for him last year that he's tried to right this year?

John Manuel: One more from Tiffy, as it's been a while since we spoke . . . Main got promoted to Double-A Frisco before the trade but hadn't pitched there yet. The big concern with him is durability. He's not quite regained the arm strength he had as an amateur, when he hit 97-98, and we do know the Giants loved him in Fla. in high school. Then again so did most teams. His stuff bounced back some this year, he's a long-toss guy and he was responding well to the Rangers' long-toss program. He's really pretty small, he's a small-boned guy, thin wrists, thin ankles, so it's hard to project a ton of physical development with him.

    dan (denver): Brett Lawrie and Reese Havens seem to be similar players. Do you agree? What kind of ETA do you see for both? What is Haven's most recent DL trip about. Thanks

John Manuel: No. Havens doesn't have Lawrie's explosiveness and has a better chance to stay in the dirt. It's an oblique strain for Havens.

    Kevin (Toronto): How did Matt Moore drop from 35th in your top 100 right off the list? His numbers this year are okay, and been ever better recently only allowing 4 runs in his last 5 starts.

John Manuel: Just have had several people say we were too high on him in the first place, because they think he's a reliever.

    John (Washington D.C.): Who do you see being the better SS for the Nationals in the future, Ian Desmond-Danny Espinosa or Rick Hague?

John Manuel: Rick Hague, not to be mean, is not a shortstop. I'll take Danny Espinosa.

    Dan (ny): john - which guy do you see having a beter overall career, Jordan Z or Hellickson? thanks

John Manuel: Hellickson

    Mike (Baltimore): Josh Bell, Michael Taylor and Matt Moore dropped from mid-30s preseason off the list. Your thoughts on those three now?

John Manuel: Bell wasn't eligible; in MLB on July 4.

    Matt (Seattle): Did Nick Franklin recieve any consideration for the top 50? Would he at least crack your top 100?

John Manuel: Definitely was considered, still some doubters out there on Franklin's ability to stay at SS, I think he's a top 100 guy for sure.

John Manuel: Sorry, I have 250 questions left and cannot possibly get to all of them. In fact, I have to go now. Hope everyone enjoyed the list, feel free to keep commenting on the blog and I'll try to get to as many as I can. Also you can hit me up on Twitter, @johnmanuelba, and I'll try to get to them. We'll be at the Futures Game all weekend (me, Ben Badler, Jim Callis), and I'll be on the radio call for XM Radio live from the U.S. dugout, should be a lot of fun. Take care and enjoy the weekend.