On Thursday, John Manuel and JJ Cooper of Baseball America took some questions in a prospect chat to coincide with opening day. Here's some of the more interesting excerpts.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Mr. Manuel, thank you for the chat today. Not really an opening day question, but you're the GM of the Astros (my apologies): who are you eying at #1 right now?
John Manuel: Howdy Joe ... thanks for coming. My short list for No. 1 overall actually would be pretty long. From the college side, Mark Appel, Kyle Zimmer, Michael Wacha and Mike Zunino top my list of No. 1 overall candidates. But I think prep OF Bryan Buxton would be the guy I'm bearing down on the most. I think he has the highest ceiling in the draft class; we're starting to her that's the consensus view in the industry. Lucas Giolitto would be in that mix as well; I'd obviously monitor his health and a possible return closely. The other factor has to be signability; I would not want to spend my bonus allotment for that pick all in one place. I'd take the player I want who would sign for somewhere under the $7.2 million and spread some of that money around elsewhere. No one this year strikes me as a $7.2 million player frankly.
There still seems to be some question on whether or not Buxton or Appel should be the first pick by the Astros or not, and no one has really separated themselves as of yet. Matt Garrioch over at Minor League Ball posted his current MLB draft projections last week (Note: The article mentions what rounds he thinks the player will go in based on signability/etc, and does not specifically give an order like a mock), and no surprise that all of the players listed he's projecting in the first round.
Doug (Connecticut): Zero or Non-Zero chance Sano could slug his way to New Britain by year end? I know the Twins are being pretty conservative with him.
John Manuel: Zero chance. He'll be lucky to earn a promotion to Fort Myers. The Twins are parsimonious with their in-season promotions. If you're lucky, you'll see him in Connecticut next season; more likely you're looking at 2014. You finally get Aaron Hicks this year though! Enjoy.
New Britain would be a HUGE push for Sano, as he would jump from Low-A to AA to do that. I think that unless he is completely destroying every pitcher he faces in Low-A, he's unlikely to get moved past that level during the season.
Josh (Lake Charles, LA): Jonathan Singleton gave goals for this season of hitting .325 and 25 HR. Which one is more likely?
J.J. Cooper: I'd say 25 home runs. Singleton can get on runs where he piles up hits, but considering his speed, he'll have to sting a lot of balls to hit .325. Going to the Texas League should help him top his career high of 14 home runs in a season.
Those would be ridiculous numbers for him to put up, and I'm inclined to agree that the batting average is extremely unlikely, especially considering that he hasn't hit above .298 outside of the hitters' paradise that is the Cal League. I like the push to put up those numbers those, and hopefully he won't be playing left field too much any more.
Greg (Fullerton, CA): Do the Dodgers have any impact bats in the minors? Anyone with starter potential, possibly even potentail future all star?
J.J. Cooper: You're right in asking because there aren't many. If it all breaks right, Alfredo Silverio could be a solid regular, but he also could just as easily end up as a fourth outfielder who fills that role because he can play all three outfield positions. Joc Pederson has athleticism to go with a grinder approach. If it all works for him he also could be a solid regular. Beyond that the Dodgers have a whole lot of position players who are a little too limited athletically to project as potential stars.
Tough news for Ray and Craig, but the best option at the moment for a bat looks like Pederson. Having the pitching they do could help resolve some of that though, especially having so many solid pitching prospects approaching the Majors already.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Why do you think the Orioles assigned Bundy to Delmarva? Are they just being cautious, or is there some other underlying reasoning?
J.J. Cooper: It's pretty normal for a first-round high school pitcher to go to low Class A to start out. In fact, a lot of those guys don't open the season in full season ball. Yes, Bundy is very advanced for his age, but dominating for 10 starts or more in Delmarva isn't going to slow down his development. Don't read anything negative into the assignment, as the reports from spring training are universally glowing.
Bundy pretty much lived up to the hype last night, as he threw 3 perfect innings, struck out 6 batters, and actually threw 21 strikes and 0 balls. The numbers seem a bit odd, as that would mean he got his other 3 outs with just 3 pitches total, but I guess it's possible. Either way, I have to imagine he won't be in Delmarva for more than a month or two.
jay johnson (new york): How are the cubs going to handle, Baez, Vogelbach, Maples and Dunston and Conception, do you see them all going to Boise or a few of them going to Low a from extended? They spent alot of money on these guys, so they have to have alot of expectations for these guys?
J.J. Cooper: I've got to expect that we're going to see a wave of those guys hitting Boise at some point in the first half of the season. It's hard to believe that almost the entire draft class would be placed on the "take it slow" track.
So far it sounds like they all will be headed to Extended Spring Training, but it seems that they really ought to push Baez and send him to Low-A before the end of the year.