Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects Chat

Moderator: John Manuel will begin taking your Blue Jays questions at 3 p.m. ET

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Will John-Ford Griffin make it to the majors with the Blue Jays or does he need to move to another organization to get a starting gig?
 A: 

John Manuel: Thanks to everyone who asked a question, let's get started. J-FG (it's an easy nickname) has major league hitter written all over him. Unfortunately, he also has DH mixed in with all these initials. He's not particularly athletic, and his arm has never bounced back from shoulder surgery he had in college. So if the Jays can squeeze J-FG into the left field or DH spot, then he'll have a place, but it looks like those positions are taken by players who have established themselves as big leaguers or who have higher ceilings than him, like Rios or Gross.

 Q:  Dale Smith from Toronto asks:
With Russ Adams and Aaron Hill both being shortstops, what positions will they end up playing?
 A: 

John Manuel: Depends on who you talk to, but I'd say Adams at second and Hill at third as long as SkyDome has an artificial turf infield. Adams has the range to play short, but arm strength has always been an issue. At North Carolina, he played 2B with a 5-foot-7 guy playing SS (Chad Prosser) because Prosser had the better arm, and Adams has to do everything right to play shortstop on grass, not to mention on turf, where the ball gets to you so much faster. Hill has a stronger arm and probably will hit for enough power to be a 3B; some in the organization look at him as a young Bret Boone, a power-hitting 2B. Both have great makeup and play beyond their tools, so it wouldn't shock me if either one surprised us and stayed at short.

 Q:  Shane from St. Stephen, New Brunswick asks:
Hi John, love these chats. From college into his pro career, John-Ford Griffin's always had solid .300plus batting avg's, low strikeout totals, and hints of power to come. Finally, last year his HR numbers went up, but his batting avg. took quite a hit, and he struck out with greater frequency. Is this a case of player having to alter his approach or swing to do add the power expected of him? The Blue Jays tried to "fix" John Olerud when he wasn't broke once upon a time too (post '93). Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: I already kind of answered this, but I wanted New Brunswick to represent. I mean to write earlier that J-FG is being compared a lot to Jeremy Giambi, so that's flattering or not, depending on how you view Giambi. I think J-FG needs to hit for power to be a good major leaguer, he's not in Olerud's class as a hitter, I don't think. So the change in approach, if that's indeed what it was, was a good idea.

 Q:  Alex Czurylo from Chicago, IL asks:
Is McGowan a #1 guy?
 A: 

John Manuel: All the stuff says No. 1 guy. The final piece of a No. 1 starter puzzle is makeup. Honestly, we won't know that until we see how McGowan responds when he's in the major leagues. It's much more common for pitchers to have No. 1 stuff, it seems, than No. 1 makeup. Matt Morris comes to mind as a guy with real good stuff, but who (when healthy) is a No. 1 guy based more on makeup than sheer stuff.

 Q:  Jeremy from Toronto, ON asks:
2. How is Fransisco Rosario's comeback progressing? Should he be limited to a relief role to prevent injury? What about Chris Leonard's health?
 A: 

John Manuel: Jeremy, he had a great instructional league, throwing hard and throwing great changeups. The thought process among player development people is that if a pitcher has a feel for a change, he can develop the feel for a breaking ball, so there's hope for Rosario's slurvy breaker. Obviously, we're high on him or else we would not have ranked him so high coming off TJ. But the surgery has a great track record--see Tommy John, Kerry Wood, John Smoltz, Matt Morris, Mariano Rivera, David Wells . . . it's a long list. Leonard is behind Rosario in his rehab. I listed him as NO. 30 because the Jays are short on LHPs and he showed great stuff in 2002, the summer before he got hurt. The Jays scout the Cape Cod League as hard as anyone, and that's where Leonard impressed them.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Hi John, a lot of people in Toronto are suprised that Jason Arnold didnt make the top 10. What was the reasoning for this? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: Jason Arnold is a guy with average stuff. For our rankings, when we're considering a player's ceiling, players with average stuff have to really perform to make a top 10 in a deep organization like Toronto's. I don't believe in Arnold's stuff making him a front-line starter. His fastball was average in 2002, and really could be called below-average in 2003 because it has below-average movement and average velocity. He needs to be in the 89-91 range like he was in '02 and also keep his fastball down, or his career will top out in Triple-A. I guess if there's a Jason Arnold bandwagon, I'm off it, and that's a shame because he's an intellingent, impressive person by all accounts, a real professional. But the scouting info we have on him is not promising.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Vito Chiaravalloti needs to be challenged at a higher level, but does rank near the top of the systemís raw power rankings?
 A: 

John Manuel: I love Vito, and have followed him since the Coastal Plain League all-star game in 2001. He didn't make the Top 30 but he does have raw power. His swing tends to get long, though, and he doesn't really have a position that he plays well, so that's why he didn't make the top 30. Top raw power guys in the organization would be Rios, Quiroz, Griffin, to a lesser extent you could put Tyrell Godwin up there (I said raw power, not usable).

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Does Shaun Marcum have one of the best sliders in the system?
 A: 

John Manuel: Absolutely. If allowed to play short, he might be one of the best defensive infielders as well, but the Jays (and most organizations) had big questions about his bat. Look for him to pull a David Bush and move into a rotation in '04. The Jays of course would love it if he made as much progress as Bush did last year.

 Q:  Jim S. from Milwaukee asks:
Would you characterize Guillermo Quiroz as a good defensive catcher with an acceptable bat or does he offer a better offense-defense balance with the possibility that he could be a better than average offensive catcher? Also, would you say he is the third best catching prospect behind Mauer and Mathis?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'll let Josh rank the catchers, but it's probably between Navarro and Quiroz, and my familiarity with Quiroz would have me in his corner. I think he's an offense-defense balance guy; he's got a chance to hit 20-30 home runs in the major leagues, his raw power rivals that of Josh Phelps. His defense is better than his offense, but calling him a guy with an 'acceptable' bat doesn't do him justice, I don't think.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
Chad Pleiness had a disappointing '03. Is he still in the top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes, but lower than last year. Pleiness was expected to take his stuff up a notch by focusing on baseball (he played college BKB at C. Michigan), but it didn't happen. He seemed to tire as the year went on, understandable for a guy in his first full year in the grind of pro ball, so no need to write him off. But it was a disappointing year.

 Q:  David Stevens from Medicine Hat asks:
Is Russ Adams a better prospect than Brent Abernathy was? Abernathy had better number at a younger age but never turned into a regular second baseman in the majors
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes, Adams is more athletic than Abernathy, a better base stealer and draws more walks. I saw Abernathy at his best, in the 2000 Olympics, and he made it to the big leagues, so I don't think ill of him as it seems many Jays fans do. Adams has more offensive upside, though.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
Jordan DeJong and Justin Maureau struggled this year, mainly with control issues. Can they turn it around?
 A: 

John Manuel: Yes, particularly Maureau, who got hurt when the Jays tried to start him. His curveball remains among the organization's best. DeJong was never considered a premium prospect; I mean, the guy quit baseball for one year in college. If the Jays get him back as a prospect, a 33rd-rounder, it would be gravy.

 Q:  Dale Smith from Toronto asks:
Is it possible for 2004 that Dustin McGowan, David Bush, and Jason Arnold will all see time in the Majors?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'd say Bush is the most likely of these three. As evidenced earlier, I'm not high on Arnold's chanced. Bush's polish and makeup are outstanding; how did the Devil Rays not sign him in 2001? That's quite a misstep. McGowan has been brought along slowly to this point in his career, so I would imagine that he would have to be insanely tearing up Triple-A to get a big league callup before September.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
As a faithful Jays follower for almost twenty-five years, it was more than a little disheartening to see Tim Wilken leave. All Jays fans should be excited about the prospects of the team in the near future, but I can't help but wonder about the long-term when you lose good people like that. Should it be a cause of concern?
 A: 

John Manuel: If you can't tell, we at BA are fans of Tim Wilken. HIs track record is outstanding. Clearly, his approach did not mesh with what the current organization philosophy is, and both sides have merit in the debate. Better for both sides for Tim to have moved on, but I think it always hurts an organization to lose someone with his expertise, experience and scouting eye.

Moderator: Sorry, John's got a college call to take

 Q:  Jeremy from Toronto, ON asks:
Jays management seems to be high on Jorge Sequea, what can you tell us about him?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's a minor league Rule 5 guy, and I think he's best as a utility guy or 4-A player. Some speculation is out there that he's a lot older than he says he is.

 Q:  john ducey from edmonton asks:
You mentioned Adam Peterson in the article. What is his future?
 A: 

John Manuel: Closer, and his future could be now. His 97 mph fastball could have made him closer if not for the Speier trade (very astute). If Kerry Ligtenberg doesn't get it done as a setup man, then Peterson could jump into a setup role in '04.

 Q:  Dale Smith from Toronto, Beaches asks:
2003 was Alexis Rios breakout season. Did anybody expect this and that he would be this good?
 A: 

John Manuel: Wilken did, as did others in the organization, and other organization scouts did like him. But this good this fast? The leap wasn't expected to be so great in one year power-wise.

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
Will Alexis Rios be playing CF or RF when he reaches the majors?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'd say RF only because Vernon Wells is so good in CF. Rios still has lots of room to fill out, and as he does, he may not run as well. It's not a problem at all for the Jays, it would be like having two CFs.

 Q:  John from Brampton, ON asks:
Who would you compare Alexis Rios to if he reaches his top-end potential? Is he the best position prospect in baseball?
 A: 

John Manuel: I still think Joe Mauer and B.J. Upton are better prospects than Rios, but no third guy jumps out to me off the top of my head. I'd say Rios is in the discussion for three, but he did hit "only" 11 homers last season (before winter ball). His top-end potential, though, is so high . . . he makes such consistent, hard contact, it's hard to avoid putting a Winfield tag on him. Sorry, Alexis.

 Q:  Isabelle from New York, NY asks:
What type of left-handed pitching talent do the Jays have in the minors and how soon can we expect any of these prospects to have an impact in Toronto?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not much. The Jays lost Matt Ford in the Rule 5 in '02 and that hurt their depth. Hendrickson was flipped for Speier, a good trade, but that's another LHP gone. Diegomar Markwell flamed out, Gustavo Chacin never developed a breaking ball, Eric Stephenson flamed out (pun intended! he's now a fireman), Dave Gassner's gone (and his stuff was fringy anyway) . . . just not a lot of lefty options outside of Kurt Isenberg and Leonard.

 Q:  David Stevens from Medicine Hat asks:
Does David Bush profile as a Mussina, Radke, or B. Lawrence
 A: 

John Manuel: Even the "moneyball" (for lack of a better word) guys in the Jays organization see Bush as, at most, a No. 2 or 3 starter . . . so Mussina is out. Radke and Lawrence are better comparisons. I'm also convinced Bush would be a dominant closer, if the organization needs him there. He's got the makeup for that role and he threw in the 95-96 range as a closer, plus his slider had a bit more bite.

 Q:  Adam from Thornhill, ON asks:
Mike Snyder turns 23 in Feb, after a poor season in Dunedin is this a make or break year for him? Also, how much of his struggles last year do you think had to do with being in the FSL?
 A: 

John Manuel: Snyder's really only had one "good" year. He was left off the 40-man and 29 other teams passed on him. So yes, it's a make-or-break kind of year.

 Q:  Gribble from Toronto asks:
In the past two years the Jays have gone to the international market to bring in high school aged pitchers like RHP Edward Rodriguez who handled the DSL well and LHP Chi-Hung Cheng who has yet to pitch professionally. Where do these guys figure to pitch in 2004 and what kind of ceilings do they have?
 A: 

John Manuel: We probably should have done a story on this, but our reports on him from source in Taiwan are not good. He was overused at ages 15-16 and has had some injuries in the past, which was how the Jays got him, and not a club with scouts in Asia. In fact, one source quoted one of his coaches in Taiwan as saying Cheng's arm looked "deformed" compared to the way it looked prior to his overuse. Rodriguez does not have such issues, he got more than $300,000 and pitched well in the Dominican Summer League (9-2, 0.82). But he's a long way away. Let's see what he does in the States.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Jamie Vermilyea has said he prefers the bullpen to starting. What type of role as a reliever does he project to be and what do you feel his best role would be, starter or reliever?
 A: 

John Manuel: Vermilyea was a solid college starter in a very difficult setting, New Mexico. But it's hard to argue with his results in the bullpen. He could move quickly with his solid fastball and plus slider and split. He attacks hitters and made the Top 30, and that's hard for a ninth-round pick to do in his first season.

 Q:  Gribble from Toronto asks:
While Hill, Banks, Marcum, Isenberg, Vermilyea, and Mastny got off to quick starts for Auburn, guys like James, Snavely, Core, and Mulholland weren't as strong. Do any of the latter group figure to break out in 2004?
 A: 

John Manuel: Mulholland threw 120 innings in the spring, so he just was given a light workload. He and James are both excellent breakout candidates. Jim Callis is a huge Justin James fan. I'd be higher on Snavely if he still played infield; I believe he used to be a 2B at Ohio State. Core had four very solid years at FAU and might be a solid middle releiver, he has excellent makeup and a good breaking ball, but doesn't have the ceiling of the other three players mentioned here.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
What's the reasoning of having Alexis Rios over Dustin McGowan?
 A: 

John Manuel: a) Rios is an everyday player, and (b) McGowan may "just" be a No. 2 starter. That was a tough call. McGowan didn't get "demoted" from No. 1 prospect to No. 2, Rios just passed him by putting all his tools together, particularly the power. And Quiroz would rank No. 1 in several other organizations. The only other org top 30 I did was San Francisco, and Quiroz would have ranked No. 1 there.

 Q:  Johnny from Toronto asks:
What can you tell us about DJ Hanson. How close was DJ hanson in making the top 10, He was obviously a litlte old for the SAL, but is understandble concering his lack of pro experience due to injuries.
 A: 

John Manuel: Hanson could take a big leap forward in '04. He finished very strong in '03 and he's finally healthy after having had two knee injuries. HIs stuff is just a shade below the League-McGowan-Perkins (alphabetical order) triumvirate, and he has better stuff than Bush when Bush starts. Of course, Bush's command is by far the best of this group, and you don't contribute in the big leagues without throwing quality strikes. Hanson probably will skip Dunedin and go to Double-A in 2004, and he's got a shot to be a good big leaguer, despite his size and injuries. That's a lot to overcome.

 Q:  Gribble from Toronto asks:
Bubbie Buzachero repeated short season ball and had a dominating performance in his second go around. Does he have a big league future?
 A: 

John Manuel: Bubbie! His career highlight was beating Wake Forest in the 2001 regional while at Tennessee Tech. Bubbie also got kicked off the team as a senior, so put that makeup question together with his size (5-foot-11, 180), and I'd say no. Got to give it up to him for a fine year, though.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Is Jarad Mangioni still considered a prospect?
 A: 

John Manuel: Not a Top 30 guy for now, but he's just 19 (20 next month) so you don't give up on a young guy with raw power.

 Q:  Dave the former New Haven season ticket holder from Hastings on Hudson, N.Y. asks:
Although the Jays system is loaded and we saw quite a few good prospects at New haven last year, unheralded Simon Pond was the best hitter until he got promoted to Syracuse. I know he was repeating the league and much older than Rios etc, but have opinions been changed on the future of Pond, Simon Pond !
 A: 

John Manuel: Pond had a nice year, and he's in the Top 30. He is one of the top raw power guys in the organization as well, but for his age and experience level, he kind of needed to hit more home runs than 2Bs, and he hit just 12 HRs this year. Even his advocates compare him to Dan Pasqua, who was a one-dimensional power guy. Pond has to turn some of those 38 2Bs into HRs fast. His ceiling landed him toward the bottom of the Top 30 because he's also not a 3B, not a good one anyway.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
With all the hype surrounding the Blue Jays and their focus on drafting college players I was wondering what your thoughts were on their system? There does seem to be more depth but not as many players with the potential of former picks like Magowan, Rios, Phelps etc. Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: Very hard to say, Kris. I think the Jays have very good depth at some positions. Lots of bats. Lots of RHPs. Very few if any LHPs (as we've discussed). I'd say the depth might be in trouble if I didn't like some of the college guys they drafted. Isenberg and Marcum could both be really good. Same with Banks, who I have not mentioned, to my discredit. That's a very good 2nd round pick.

 Q:  David Stevens from Medicine Hat asks:
Were would have Sandy Nin and David Gassner have placed if they would not have been traded
 A: 

John Manuel: Gassner would have been toward the back. Nin might have been a bit higher because he has power stuff, but at the same time, some think Nin is just a middle reliever. Both would have made the Top 30, though.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
Who is the Jays' shortstop of the next three or four years, Chris Woodward, Russ Adams, or Aaron Hill?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think the Jays hope the answer is Adams. I'd say it's none of the above. Woodward never showed the tools to be a big league shortstop, and he just can't do it over a full season with 81+games on turf. He's a good player, just not a SS on turf. That's one reason why the Jays were in on Rich Aurilia. Even as poorly as he has hit in LA, I think the Jays would like that Cesar Izturis trade back. They're going to have to outside the organization, I believe, for a turf shortstop.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Will the Syracuse Chiefs have the most devestating team in the history of minor league baseball next season?
 A: 

John Manuel: Depends on what minor league veterans fill in around the prospects, but it should be quite a team with Quiroz, Rios, possibly Gross, plus Bush, McGowan, Arnold, Chulk in the rotation . . . pretty stout talent base.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
Are the jays still high on C Kevin Cash?
 A: 

John Manuel: I think so, but 2003 has revealed that the most likely scenario is Cash as a 40-games-a-year backup to Quiroz long-term. Cash's ceiling is .260.320.400 or .450. He has never been a great hitter; as a junior at Fla. State, he hit .317-14-58, and the bats were just getting tuned down that year. He'd be in a lot of Top 10s for other organizations, though. The Jays are very, very solid 1-22 or so.

 Q:  Spicol from Toronto asks:
Jayson Werth. What's the deal?
 A: 

John Manuel: I wrote last year that the consensus was either (a) solid everyday corner OF or (b) Eli Marrerro part two. Looks more like (b) right now. His K-BB rate went backwards. The Jays also sound like they think he's too tall to catch, which might be right for 162 games, but not once? He seems like a guy better suited for 300 ABs a year in the National League.

 Q:  Eric from Toronto asks:
Jesse Harper has put up good numbers for two straight years. He doesn't have the greatest strikeout numbers, but does well in the BB and HR category. Does he have a major league upside? Where does he rank on the top 30?
 A: 

John Manuel: Harper does have a major league upside; he's in the Top 20, I believe. He's a four pitch guy, no one stands out, but he pounds the strike zone and throws downhill with his pitches, keeping the ball down. Looks like a 3-4 guy down the line. These are great questions.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Which major leaguer would Josh Banks be comparable with?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm not a big fan of making comps; I made one for Rios before and apologized for it. Put it this way, Banks profiles as a No. 2-3 starter if he maxes his potential. He's 89-92 steadily with his sinker, touches 93-94, has a potential knockout slider and a good split. He throws three quality pitches for strikes. The Jays drafted a lot of college guys, but they also drafted college guys with upside the last two years. I really like the pitchers they picked in 2003, for whatever that's worth.

 Q:  Lisa from West Hollywood, CA asks:
Out of all the Blue Jays' 2003 draft picks, who do you think are the biggest prospects right now?
 A: 

John Manuel: I ranked Hill the highest; I'm a huge fan. Tools, makeup, good position, versatile . . . he's everything you could ask for in a first-round pick. Then I went Banks, Isenberg (LHP), Marcum, then James, and then Vermilyea. My sleeper from the draft for them is Mastny because he's tall, throws downhill, knows how to pitch and has good makeup.

 Q:  Dave, the former New Haven Ravens season ticket holder from Hastings on Hudson, N.Y. asks:
Have the Jays been disappointed with the progress of Tyrell Godwin ? He seemed to have a lot of speed but his numbers were certainly not all world. What is the thought on him ?
 A: 

John Manuel: I might be Ty's biggest fan, having interviewed him or written about him every year since 1997. So take this for what it's worth: he's going to be a big leaguer, and I think he's going to be a good big leaguer. His tools are all still there. The Jays officials I talked to say he has not slowed down, as one scout told BA in the AFL, that he just hasn't learned to get out of the box well, becuase he takes a big hack. Godwin really has been a full-time baseball player for three years. As his experience catches up to his tools, I think he'll blossom. It may not be with the Jays, and that's fine. But he's got too many tools and too much intelligence not to succeed. His arm has improved, I think he can be a center fielder, and as I indicated before, his raw power is significant. Clearly, he needs to command the K zone better; he's never going to have a .400 OBP unless he hits .350. But you don't have to walk to be a good major leaguer.

 Q:  Bully from TORONTO asks:
Is Talley Haines the next Aquilino Lopez or Corey Thurman?
 A: 

John Manuel: No. His stuff is not comparable. He has a good changeup and a mid-80s fastball. Having seen him in Durham for two years and having talked to local guys about him here, his stuff does not compare to that of Lopez, who has a plus slider, or Thurman.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
Given the opportunity, who would you take, Guillermo Quiroz or Dioner Navarro?
 A: 

John Manuel: Quiroz. Better power for one reason, also his English skills are very advanced and that helps him handle staffs well.

 Q:  David Stevens from Medicine Hat asks:
Will Gabe Gross develope above average power? Or will his ceiling be Mark Kotsay?
 A: 

John Manuel: That's the $64,000 question with Gabe. He has some effort in his swing, that's to say his swing isn't the smooth, easy swing you saw in a player like Will Clark (still the prettiest swing in my mind's eye). He commands the strike zone well enough to be a 20-20 homer guy, and I guess I'd say that's average for a corner outfielder these days. He's athletic, has a good feel for the game that's getting better . . . he should have a higher offensive upside than Kotsay. Theopilous from Boston had a question about Gross compared to David Murphy, and Murphy's more athletic than Gross. I think Murphy's upside is a bit higher because he could possibly play CF, but they're reasonably comparable players.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Thanks for your time John,the Jays went heavy on college pitching in the first 15 rounds, who is the best of the bunch, and are there any sleepers in that group to keep an eye on this summer?
 A: 

John Manuel: I sort of answered this one too, but another sleeper is Matt Foster, the lefty out of Navy, and Mark Sopko is another, a draft-eligible sophomore drafted toward the end of the first day of the draft. Sopko was a single-digit talent, but he's also just 5-foot-11. His stuff has good life, though.

 Q:  David Stevens from Medicine Hat asks:
Do you think that League and Rosario will end up in the pen because of a lack of a good breaking ball for both of them.
 A: 

John Manuel: More likely for League than Rosario, I believe, but the Jays have no intention of limiting either player by putting them in the pen yet. League gets so many groundballs, he could be an innings eater, and there's some debate over how well his arm would bounce back in a relief role. League's slider is ahead of Rosario's, clearly. AT times, it's a power, plus pitch.

 Q:  David from Toronto asks:
What should we expect from Rosario this year and in the medium term?
 A: 

John Manuel: Rosario should start the year in Dunedin, and he had some command to spare. When the weather warms up, he'll go to Double-A, and that's about when he should start regaining some command. We wouldn't have ranked him so high if the Jays weren't so sanguine about his return, or if the track record for TJ alumni were poor.

 Q:  GBall from East Lansing asks:
With the almost certainty that Delgado will leave after the season, will the Jays look to shift John-Ford Griffin to first, and hope that either him, Pond, or Phelps can take over after this season??
 A: 

John Manuel: The Jays will try to keep Delgado, but not at $15 million; will anyone give him that anymore? To me, Phelps is the best option of those three, or one of the OFs who might get squeezed out. Don't rule out a move of Hinske to 1B and Hill coming in at third, either. Hinske's just not a good defender at third playing on turf 81 games. The Jays' left side is not built to play defense in its current ballpark.

 Q:  Thomas from Victoria, BC asks:
Hello, Thanks for the chat. Is Miguel Negron still considered a prospect? What kind of player does he project to be in the future? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: Negron just hasn't hit enough to be considered a good prospect, but he still has tools, so he made the book. He's made some progress with adopting a small-ball approach; he needs to stay healthy and continue to apply that. For me, he's a fourth OF.

 Q:  Fanhome.com Representative from Ontario asks:
Where do you think Robinson Diaz will start next season? Does get another year of short season, or start at Low-A?
 A: 

John Manuel: Diaz is probably third on the C depth chart, behind Quiroz and Cash. Unless Paul Richmond is just too good (and he did draw a lot of walks at Auburn), I'd look for Diaz to at least share time with him at low Class A in '04. He's got some athletic ability and some offensive potential.

 Q:  Fanhome from Ontario asks:
Where will Edward Rodriguez be playing this season?
 A: 

John Manuel: Probably extended spring and then Auburn.

 Q:  Dale from Toronto asks:
With Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios the outfield of the future who will be the thrid outfielder to join them (gross, ford-griffin, werth, johnson)?
 A: 

John Manuel: My money's on Gross. Johnson, I feel bad we never ranked Reed, he was close to making it in 2002, I should not have doubted a Cal State Fullerton Titan. He's going to be a valuable 4th OF. Griffin is a DH and Werth is an NL player.

 Q:  Pistol from Manchester, CT asks:
Given that Rosario didn't pitch at all in 2003, and has yet to pitch above A ball, it seems that his #5 ranking among BJ prospects is high. Why would he rank above Bush, Peterson, Perkins, League and Arnold?
 A: 

John Manuel: His ceiling is still so high, and the track record of TJ recovery is good. His combination of command and stuff is better than all those pitcher, really it was better than all of them in instructional league, about a year off TJ. That's impressive. Had he not been hurt last year in the AFL, Rosario would have ranked No. 1 in the '03 Handbook.

 Q:  Dean Quinton from Brooks, Alberta asks:
Hi John, only one member of the last two drafts made the top ten as a pitching prospect. Do any of the college guys drafted and signed, other than Peterson, have any more upside than a back end rotation guy or bullpen fodder?
 A: 

John Manuel: Gotta wrap it up soon, sorry. Good question here. Pleiness isn't done, and Leonard has a chance to be a good starter once healthy. I like the '03 draft better than the '02 draft, but maybe that's because we have one more year of data on '02. Still, I think the '02 draft will yield an everyday player in Adams, two solid relievers in Maureau and Peterson, and possibly two big league starting pitchers in Bush and either Pleiness or Leonard. The sleeper to remember here is Dewan Day, DFE out of Southern (fifth-year senior DFE), who has arm strength and some athleticism. He could also be a big league pitcher down the line.

 Q:  Dubi from Toronto asks:
Hi John, Can you tell me something about Manuel Mayorson? A little while back he was being touted by the blue jay brass as the next great middle infield prospect? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: He just isn't hitting enough to be considered a big prospect . . . I don't think anyone ever touted him too much, though, he was No. 26 on the Top 30, I think that's as high as he got.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
Alexis Rios or Jeremy Reed?
 A: 

John Manuel: Rios, though I like Reed. Power gives Rios the edge.

 Q:  Dean Quinton from Brooks, Alberta asks:
Hi John, are there any position players, other than the 1st picks, from the past two drafts with any chance of making it to the Show? Snavely really didn't do much and Braun has not really appeared to progress, I personally don't see much. Am I wrong or am I missing something. Thanks.
 A: 

John Manuel: Jason Perry is not in the organization anymore, but I liked him as a sleeper. Otherwise, I agree, a lot is riding on Snavely and Braun. A.J. Porfirio is an organization guy, and Justin Owens and Jason Waugh are way down the organizational depth chart at OF. Good point.

 Q:  Shane from St. Stephen, New Brunswick asks:
John, you cover the Jays org and College baseball for BA, so you're a good guy to ask: Sure it's just January, but just for fun, who are some guys upcoming in the June draft you feel the Blue Jays may look at with their #1 pick? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: The Jays draft 16th, so maybe Justin Orenduff or Chris Lambert? It's a good year for college pitching, not a good year for position players. If the organization wants a position player, Stephen Drew and Jeff Larish are likely to be gone. My next choice among college position players would be Seth Smith of Mississippi. He's just scratched the surface of his potential. He compares to Gross as a college OF in the SEC who also is a football QB, but his swing is so much more natural and effortless than Gross . . . he's just not as strong right now. Not a lot of help up the middle for the Jays in this year's draft.

Moderator: OK, John has to go now, sorry. He says thanks for all the great questions.