Q&A: John Manuel of Baseball America

Thanks to John Manuel of Baseball America for answering a few questions about the BlueClaws and the Phillies farm system. Manuel has done the annual Baseball America Phillies top 30 the last two years and last week ranked former BlueClaws OF Domonic Brown as the #1 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball.

On Brown, Manuel had a great line after I asked about a player comparison: “He’ll be a guy they compare others to.”

Here is the original top 50 list.

The full Q&A is below the fold.

1) What would you have to see from a Lo-A player (like Jarred Cosart or Jonathan Singleton) to put them in your to 50?

Singleton is one of the minors’ better hitters. The expectations for a 1B offensively are such that to be a prospect as a low Class A 1B, you have to hear scouts making some pretty gaudy projections for him offensively, but we’re hearing that kind of thing. We just don’t want to go too crazy because he is in low A and he was an eighth-round pick. But early returns are awfully encouraging. Cosart has a tremendous arm and was in the Top 10 last year before the Lee/Halladay trade. His arm’s excellent, mid-90s heat, big-time curveball, still raw in terms of figuring out some things and still some immaturity but it sounds like he’s matured a lot. He just missed the top 25 because of his recent elbow injury.

2) I know you guys had Singleton in your Phillies top 20 off 100 at bats in the GCL and being an 8th round pick last year. What did you see in him last year and has he surprised you this year?

We normally haven’t employed scouts but we have a part-time guy in Southern California, Dave Perkin (no other scouts; everything else we do is by talking to scouts, managers, coaches, etc.). Dave loved Singleton in high school, loved his swing and athletic ability for his size, and people who saw the Phils’ instructional league last fall also seemed impressed. However, he has surprised us this year, no doubt. He’s hitting for power and controlling the strike zone, pretty precocious for a guy who hit .320 or whatever in his high school senior year.

3) You made a comment in a chat about Lakewood being one of the most talented rosters in all of Minor League Baseball… what stands out?

What doesn’t stand out? Cosart, Colvin, Pettibone on the mound (May obviously was there, Way is a solid college arm); toolsy, athletic outfield that runs down a lot and is bursting with raw talent, no matter who’s out there; Villar & Valle; aggressive and athletic team.

4) Much has been made of Cosart and Singleton, and lately Brody Colvin…who else in particular has caught your eye or the eyes of scouts that you’ve talked to?

Jiwan James, still raw but his athleticism jumps out at people; Villar, perhaps as good defensively as anyone in the minors; Leandro Castro and Domingo Santana, raw but upside, especially with Santana; I’m sure I’m missing someone but those are the names that have been mentioned most.

5) Do you think this year’s Lakewood team is more talented than last year’s?

Pretty comparable but I would say yes.

6) I know you did the Phillies rankings the last two years…if you could re-do them now, what might the beginning look like? Where would Harold Garcia fit in?

Tough question on a re-rank. Dom Brown is an obvious 1; health is a huge factor for who No. 2 would be, Cosart vs. Colvin vs. May vs. Singleton, that’s a strong top 5, with Gose, Villar, James and Valle in the Top 10 conversation. Then we haven’t talked 2010 draft yet, or potential international signees. It’s a system loaded with upside. Harold Garcia is more 11-20 range but I like him and was surprised no one took him in the rule 5 draft last year.

7) Where would you fit the Phillies farm system in among other organizations a year after the two big trades?

Back to being a Top 10 organization in terms of talent. Few orgs have as many intriguing hitters as the Phils, and they have arms too. Only big issues are (a) depth in IF, which is improving, (b) depth of catching, every org has same problem, Phils had it but traded it away, and (c) arms are almost all a A ball and below. Biggest issue is c.

8) Big leaguer that you would compare Domonic Brown to?

Comparisons are tough. It’s obvious to see why he gets Strawberry comparisons physically; I think he’s not that explosive, not as impact as Strawberry, but at his peak he’ll be a 30-home run guy who hits .280 and draws some walks while playing a good RF. He’ll be a guy they compare others to.

One Response to “Q&A: John Manuel of Baseball America”

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