We caught up with John Manuel of Baseball America earlier for a Q&A in regards to the top ten Phillies prospect rankings (click here) put out by BA on Monday. We thank John as always for his time.
Question: You had Brown atop the rankings last year. Obviously he had some competition for that top spot, but what did he do to maintain that ranking?
Answer: He very easily maintained that ranking. He hit, he ran the bases, he showed emerging power. He’s still raw and needs minor league time to improve his offensive consistency and his defensive skills, but his athleticism and big-time tools made this a fairly easy call, despite the quality of the other players in the system.
Q: Were people you talked to surprised at the way Kyle Drabek rebounded from his surgery?
A: Not really, because he flashed it last year in the Hawaii Winter Baseball stint, and he’s got such natural athleticism and competitiveness. He pitched well deep into the year, stayed healthy and threw strikes with quality stuff. Very encouraging year, and if he was your No. 1 prospect, you’d be satisfied.
Q: He was in Lo-A 18 months ago, but he’s 24 now and can obviously hit. How close is Michael Taylor to the big leagues (considering he’s got a tough OF to crack)?
A: Just talked to Michael yesterday and he knows his situation (it was my pleasure to speak to him, quality young man). He’s probably ready to help in 2010 if they need him; heck, he would have been able to help in ’09 if needed. But the Phils right now do not need him, so he can spend 2010 in Triple-A. He’s definitely trade bait, but he’s also a 24-year-old outfielder. Those don’t often have a ton of value.
Q: Strength of the system compared to 12 months ago considering they traded away four of last year’s top ten?
A: Still strong, and so strong at the top (stronger than it was last year because Brown has done it at higher levels and Drabek is healthy) that I think the system will move up our org rankings from 12 last year. Lots of very young, high-upside talent.