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Prospect Hot Sheet Chat (Sept. 1)



Ryan (New York): Out of all the arms the Mets have received in their trades this year, do any of them or Bashlor/Uceta have the potential to be a set up man or closer for them in the future?

John Manuel: To put it mildly, I'm not super enthused with the haul. Jacob Rhame is interesting and close to MLB ready, and Jamie Callahan and Stephen Nogosek have had their moments, but Ryder Ryan probably has the highest upside. It's a fairly fresh arm that's been up to 98, and he's got a good body. I

Bob (Texas): Austin Riley is hitting close to .300 and has added his third 20 homerun season in a row to his resume. Is he the Braves future 3B?

John Manuel: We were just discussing him now with JJ Cooper and Matt Eddy here. The scouts we've talked to are bullish on Austin Riley, and he's got two plus tools that give them reason to do so in his power and throwing arm. His arm allows him great leeway at third base, mitigates his modest range and gives him a good shot to stay there as a big leaguer, at least in the next 4-5 years. And his power ... well, it's a power game, and he's got the tool teams are looking for. Pretty nice year for his age and where he's played.

Chris (Washington DC): Victor Robles has been tearing up AA the last couple weeks - assuming he starts there next year, is a Sept 2018 call-up possible or are the Nats targeting 2019?

John Manuel: I don't know that you "target" a year with players of Robles' talent. When the player is ready, you put him in the big leagues and you make room. If he's not in Washington in 2018 at some point, it will probably be because he got hurt. He does a lot of things to help a team win.

Scott (South Texas): Rogelio Armenteros has been putting up excellent numbers in the upper minors over the past two seasons, but doesn't seem to get as much hype as his numbers might warrant. Is he a top 100 prospect? If not, what's holding him back?

John Manuel: No, he's not a top 100 guy because there are no 7s on the card, and there may not be any 6s. He throws a lot of pitches and throws a lot of strikes, but he's more solid-average or above-average stuff with control and craftiness. That's a nice fourth starter profile potentially, or in the Astros world a guy who can go through the lineup once, maybe twice and turn it over to the next guy. His age probably is the other thing that keeps him out of the 100, but there's something there.

Scott (South Texas): After the excellent season he's had and his jump to Double A as a 19 year old pitcher, where would you rank Forrest Whitley among the game's top pitching prospects?

John Manuel: Another Astros question here, I hope you and your family came through the hurricane all right Scott. Whitley definitely had a monster season; I believe he leads all full-season pitchers who have been starters in strikeouts per nine innings. He's had the best season, by a lot, of any high school player from the 2016 draft class, hitter or pitcher, and as JJ detailed a couple of weeks ago, he's the only one that's reached Double-A. Most of the guys that have done that have turned into impact players if not stars.

Tom Eshelman (Painting the Black): Am I done for the year? Hoping to get called up but seems I'm on an innings limit

John Manuel: Hope not! I want him to get that September callup, and obviously I forced him into today's hot sheet in the Shane Bieber writeup. Bieber's probably tired of the comparison. Glad to see Eshelman have a strong year and we're forever indebted to him for being part of the best BA cover ever (2015 College Preview).

Elliot (Youngstown OH): Does McKenzie's strong finish calm the concerns about his durability a bit and boost even higher into the Top 10?

John Manuel: Every pitcher has durability concerns by being pitchers, but the fact he's taken the ball so consistently and finished well, those are great signs. He entered the year No. 3 in the Indians top 10 if that's what you're asking, and Francisco Mejia remains eligible. I just want to see those guys as a battery with Mejia around 5-9 and thick in the lower half while McKenzie is of a slightly different body type. Good debate on No. 1 there, but I still favor the hitter with Double-A (or higher) success.

Justin (Tucson): Which AZL prospect has the higher ceiling, Adell or Lazarito? Or does someone else from the AZL this season have a brighter future?

John Manuel: Our Bill Mitchell is on the case in both the Arizona League and the Pioneer League, and I believe Adell will be on both lists. Adell over Lazarito for me, and I'm encouraged by his early hitting success, because he faced some iffy high school competition this spring and was super tinkery last summer. All the other tools are there with Adell, so if he's an average hitter, he's going to be an impact player.

Devon M. (El Paso, TX): No AJ Puk? 13 Ks in 6 Innings yesterday. Both runs allowed were Unearned. Please don't put much stock in his W-L Record as his team doesn't play good defense behind him nor provides much Run support.

John Manuel: Win-loss record isn't even on the Hot Sheet stat line, so I wasn't looking at W-L record. He had an 18-2 K-BB for the week in 12.2 innings, but he also gave up 14 hits and five runs (3 earned) for the week, so I left him off. Puk's had a very encouraging season, however, second in the minors in strikeouts, acceptable walk rate ... been a strong year. Not Forrest Whitley strong from the '16 draft but not many better years by first-round picks, especially on the mound.

Angels Farm System (Hopefully not last anymore): Hi John, thanks for chatting today with us. Jo Adell and Jahmai Jones have both had impressive 2017s. With the progress that Jones has showed moving from LoA to HiA, we can agree he'll comfortably be a top 100 prospect in 2018? What are comps you're hearing for him? Is he Lorenzo Cain with a shot at 20/20 in his prime?

John Manuel: I actually was looking for Jones on our stats feed for the Hot Sheet, knowing he'd had the hit streak end, and he went 1-for-17 int the reporting period. That said, he's still had a big year, does sound like a top 100 prospect ... but I think I prefer Adell from an upside perspective. I'd have to bear down with guys who have Angels coverage, but Adell is super impressive physically and has huge raw power. That gives him the edge for me. I'm not sure Cain is the best comp for Jones, not sure that he's that pure of a hitter.

Alex (CA): Taylor Trammell is now in double digits for doubles, triples, and home runs all while swiping 40 SB. That is some serious production for a guy 1 year removed from playing baseball/football in High School. Who's a good comp for him if he reaches his ceiling? He reminds me of a more physical Curtis Granderson, agree?

John Manuel: Granderson isn't bad, though I know the folks we've talked to think Trammell will wind up in a corner, while Grandy played a good amount of CF in his career. Good reason to be bullish on Trammell, though, and the Reds have to be stoked with the first-year results from him and Nick Senzel from last year's draft. Trammell's power, plate discipline and speed are a tremendous combination. He's probably closer to the top 50 than later on the top 100, but he's a top 100 guy easy for me.

Matt (Va): Do you think Byron Buxton continues this All Star like pace at the plate?

John Manuel: Sure hope so, glad to read he didn't have a broken hamate in his left hand the other day. I've been surprised by how long it took Buxton to "get it" offensively but I do expect him to be a consistent offensive producer at his peak. Maybe he's a better version of Devon White, or Garry Maddox with power ... either one would be a pretty good result.

Roger (Greenville, SC): When do the league top 20s start?

John Manuel: We're all constantly making calls on these right now. Don't have the schedule in front of me but I expect them to start the week of Sept. 18.

Benny Blanco (The Bronx): Hi John, The Mets system looks a little dry. What are your thoughts on Vientos?

John Manuel: The sources I have talked to agree, the Mets system looks quite try, and Vientos will rank pretty high in the org top 30, I'd imagine. He's an infielder that can hit; not sure they have 5 guys better than that.

David F (Miami): How good is Eloy Jimenez, what is his ceiling and likely result. What sleeper prospects are there on the Sox?

John Manuel: Eloy Jimenez has an argument for the best prospect in the minors. I'm not putting him there, but outside of Vlad Guerrero Jr., I'm not sure who I have more confidence in offensively. I got future 7 hit with 7 power from scouts last year and he's performing like that this year. I'm extremely bullish on Eloy. As for sleeper White Sox ... I'll say Kade McClure, the former Louisville righthander, who I think has a shot to start.

Trevor (Music City, TN): Franklin Barreto omitted a 2 week in a row? Go back and check out his Game logs from the past days. He is raking for a 22 year old playing in Triple A. Is Jose Altuve a good Comp for him? Less defense and hit tool but more power?

John Manuel: Barreto had 2 extra-base hits on the week, which is why he didn't make it on a 9-for-21 week. Forgive me for having a higher standard, particularly for a PCL hitter. Altuve is a terrible comp for anybody, because he's virtually on a Hall of Fame track right now, and I don't comp players to Hall of Famers. Barreto might be the Brian Dozer school of power-hitting 2B, though. I do like him and like the bat and track record.

Brian (Greensboro): What makes Acuna different from past young Braves top OF prospects Heyward and Francouer whose careers have not matched the expectations from being elite prospects?

John Manuel: Heyward has had a good career and got paid a LOT of money. I know what he's turned into the last two year, but before that, I would consider him a success. Frenchy wasn't close to as successful as Heyward without close to the plate discipline. Acuna has a better swing than either one, fewer holes, and yes, he's aggressive, but it sounds like he hits to all fields with power better than either of those examples. He's really not comparable to them other than being a Braves outfielder. Sorry Brian.

Jason (Charlotte): Has Gohara jumped to the top of the list of Braves pitchers ?

John Manuel: He may have; I know a lot of scouts love Mike Soroka as well for his command and stuff, but Gohara ... he sounds almost too good to be true. I cannot figure out why the Mariners traded him. I hope today's Hot Sheet writeup conveyed how high I am on Gohara, who apparently is headed to ATL for September.

Dave (Williamsburg): What has been your impression of Fernando Tatis Jr at AA thus far?

John Manuel: He had a monster second-half, and one scout I talked to this week comped him to Troy Tulowitzki in terms of upside. His power is real; he'll be a lot higher the next time we do a Top 100, I can tell you that. Like at least 90 spots higher ...

Larry (New York): With his strong second half continuing into Binghampton is Peter Alonso a top 5 Mets prospect?

John Manuel: If he is, that's bad news for the Mets. I like Alonso fine and respect his long track record of power and hitting ability. I hope he's the next Rhys Hoskins, but I haven't gotten that kind of feedback yet in the Florida State League calls I've made. He's still leading that league in HRs last I checked and has had a nice start at Binghamton. He's got a nice low strikeout rate for a power hitter.

Rich (NJ): Could you please rank the Phillies last three # 1 picks (Randolph, Moniak & Haseley) in terms of MLB potential as I am wondering if Moniak's poor year & Randolph's improved second half performance & power have changed your's & scout's views. Thanks.

John Manuel: Randolph is pretty interesting as a pure hitter with feel for the barrel, and a better-than-advertised body. He can hit, but can he hit for the kind of power demanded of a left fielder? That's in question. Haseley and Moniak are somewhat similar in profile, and I have to be honest, I'm not sure what to make of Mickey Mo's season. It's a brutal second half. He had better tools going into the 2016 draft than Haseley, but I'm a Haseley believer because of the contact ability, the bat and the makeup. He's a different sort of guy in a good way. All Haseley ever does is compete and win, with athleticism and solid tools. I'll bet on that guy any day.

Frank (Chicago): Your name is Coppy. Acuna. Cup of coffee. Yes or no. Go!

John Manuel: No.

Brent Honeywell (Durham, NC): Did I hurt my chances of getting the call before next year?

John Manuel: Probably so; I'd wager that's what he was upset about in the first place. But that's just a guess.

John (Santa Monica): We hear a lot about pitching "prospect's" upside as frontline starter, middle of rotation etc, and with a lot of prospects, especially the +stuff -control guys we hear that they'll end up in the bullpen. How often does that actually happen and how much easier is it to make a living in the pen? For example, the Braves have a ton of strong starting prospects - the vast majority will likely not be valuable rotation members, but should we at least expect a shut down bullpen in a few years? (assuming we don't trade them all away as currency)

John Manuel: Had a couple of similar Braves questions and chose to answer this one. I wonder how much longer we're going to keep hearing scouts put those kinds of roles on players. When even Jack Morris is telling Brian Kenney that he thinks teams will be "bullpenning" soon . . . it seems like the days of fourth and fifth starters may be numbered. Maybe the Braves will be part of that, with all their depth. Guys who can go through today's lineups, at today's max-effort delivery, 3 times are hard to find. Soroka and Gohara are the first two guys I think that can do that, and maybe Allard, though it sounds like he's pitching with a below-average fastball. Ian Anderson maybe ... Joey Wentz? Fried? Touki? Some of those guys are going to wind up in the bullpen like AJ Minter. i do think the Braves have tons of pitching options, which was the original point—some of these guys become Pete Smith and some become Kevin Millwood, and maybe one approximates Glavine, Maddux or Smoltz. I do like their offensive core with Acuna's development, and Riley, to fill in around Swanson, Albies, Inciarte and of course Freeman. One more power bat (Alex Jackson?) could round that out nicely.

Richard (So Cal): John, how about your top 3 prospects heading into 2018 ?

John Manuel: Probably looking at Vlad Jr., Tatis, Eloy, Acuna and Bo Bichette among hitters along with Gleyber and Victor Robles ... I mean, that's a fantastic group of players at the top. I'd probably put Nick Senzel on the outskirts of that group. I'd expect the likes of Mitch Keller, Walker Buehler and Michael Kopech to round out the top 10. That's an early look.

Tim (Cincy): Interesting that Cleveland wants to get Mejia some reps at third during the AFL. Does this mean they are seriously considering giving him a chance to break camp with the team next year?

John Manuel: They're just being smart. He has the arm for third, I'm sure he's worked there before. He's a switch-hitter who can hit who could help their team in Cleveland either at C or 3B in the near future. I don't think they write him off catcher at all, but yeah, if 3B is open . . . why not give your best hitter in the minors, who has Double-A experience, a chance to compete for that job?

Dominic (Chicago): Considering all the trades and promotions for the Cubs the past 18 months, who is the Cubs top prospect going into next year? De La Cruz, Albertos, or Alzolay?

John Manuel: This is a tough call. I went Caratini at midseason, but that list has a lot of very, very similar grades in Prospect Handbook parlance. It could be none of those pitchers; I could see a case for Aramis Ademan, who's shown some serious juice for a 5-10 18-year-old shortstop. But it's wide open right now, and I'm not sure the Cubs have a Top 100 prospect. They didn't at midseason, not sure they do now.

Loren (San Diego, CA): I'm a little surprised that Hudson Potts didn't get more love giving how he went completely crazy offensively this week. Has he been moving up the Padres prospect board?

John Manuel: We're talking about him in the office too. He went 5-for-22 on the week, actually, with two doubles and two homers. He had a monster August (8 HR, 1.060 OPS) to salvage an otherwise modest season, and his K-BB rate isn't encouraging. But scouts who saw him this month are telling our Vince Lara-Cinisomo that he's quite interesting. I don't know that he's moved up, but he's held serve, let's put it that way.

Mike (Ixoni): Have either Mitch Keller or Mike Soroka's outlook dimmed a little with their average performances over the last 2 months or so?

John Manuel: No on either one. Both young for Double-A, and I've had scouts tell me Keller is the best pitcher they've seen all year. Keller, I'm all in ... Soroka's not the huge power pitcher that some other perceived frontline starters are, so he'll rank lower on the top 100, but no, neither has dimmed.

Mark (Los Angeles): Danny Jansen is having a year out of nowhere. Legit prospect?

John Manuel: He was in the Handbook each of the last two year, got healthy this year (hand injuries the last two years) and got corrective eyewear. All those factors have allowed him to tap into his talent. Area scout Wes Penick did a nice job on him, just heard the signing story of Jansen the other day and it reflects well on Penick.

Elliot (Youngstown OH): Actually I was asking if McKenzie may reach the Top 10 of the BA Top 100?

John Manuel: Ah, probably not quite that high.

Formerly the Smasher (On a rock spinning out of control): Is Vladdy the best hitting prospect of the last decade?

John Manuel: Lots of Vlad Jr. questions. Best hitting prospect of the last decade ... maybe that we acknowledged, but you're talking to the dolt who had Matt Moore ahead of Mike Trout! A reminder of why I shouldn't trust my own scouting eye, and why I talk to people who know more than me. I had seen tired Trout in the AFL and Moore late in the year when he was spectacular in what, 2011? Ugh ... We certainly had Bryce Harper in that regard, and I know we were all in on Byron Buxton, but not quite to the level of offensive favor that we have for Vlad Guerrero Jr. Vlad Jr. might be an 80 hit, 80 power ... that's hard to beat. That's peak Cabrera or peak Pujols. We're talking that kind of hitter. He's closer to Cabrera I guess because I don't expect him to have Pujols' all-around brilliance, but man, yeah, I think I just answered "yes" in longwinded fashion.

Levine (BK): Grayson Long has some great numbers in AA. Can he be a #3-4 type for the Tigers next year?

John Manuel: Not next year, no ... I do think he has No. 4 upside, but it sounds like he's not quite the power guy typically residing at the front of MLB rotations these days.

Connor (Boston): At what point does the lack of production begin to hurt a super young, super projectable player? This question isn't about Leody Taveras, but he's a good example. At what point do his lack of results not make up for his projectability?

John Manuel: The closer to the big leagues a player is, the more his stats matter. In low Class A, tools matter more to me than stats, to over-generalize. I'm always looking for aptitude from the player who didn't hit, or a reason why a pitcher didn't perform, such as, the team wouldn't let him throw his breaking ball to focus on FB command, or injury, or some such. Guys with raw tools like Taveras generally get more rope.

PTBNL (PIT): Mitch Keller seems to have a non-existent changeup, from what I've read. Are his FB and curve THAT good to make up for a 30 well below average CH?

John Manuel: The scouts I have talked to (a) didn't grade it that harshly; he doesn't throw it very often or with much conviction and (b) they didn't seem to hesitate to call him the best pitcher they'd seen this year anyway. He isn't ready for the big leagues yet, let's make that clear. He does have work to do. But the fastball is very good, with velocity, life & command; the delivery works, he does it easy, the breaking ball is good ... yeah, he's got time to develop the changeup, and I haven't gotten a 30 on it in two years of asking about it.

Jo Adell Stephensmithfourseamootp

Baseball America Prospect Report—May 21, 2021, Presented By OOTP 22

Jo Adell and Riley Greene homer twice, Luis Medina cruises to his second win and more.

John Manuel: That's going to have to do it, I've got more calls to try to make here and we've got league Top 20s and a magazine to put out. Hope everyone enjoyed the chat, download the podcast for your weekend drive and have a great Labor Day weekend.

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