Q: Bob Sakamano from NY, NY asks:
I have two ex-Huskers, Dan Johnson and Jamal Strong. They seem to have accomplished everything at AAA, so I was wondering when you think they will get their chances and how good do you think they will be?
A: Jim Callis: I agree on Johnson. He's ready to give the A's at least the same production that they get from Erubiel Durazo and Scott Hatteberg, so I bet Oakland declines to offer Durazo arbitration. Strong hasn't been able to stay healthy though, and the Mariners are hoping Jeremy Reed is their center fielder of the future. Seattle also has some expensive outfielders, so Strong looks like he'll have to settle for being a reserve.
Q: Joseph Y. from InsideThePark.com asks:
Thanks for doing the chat, as usual Jim. How far has Travis Blackley's star fallen? He said he didn't have his good changeup all year, but was doing fine anyway. Then he hit the big leagues, nibbled a lot for even a control guy, and things fell apart from there. How do you think this affects his future with the club?
A: Jim Callis: Blackley's star has fallen a little, though the Mariners still have a lot of faith in him. Blackley's velocity fell to the mid-80s in the majors, so his fastball didn't have enough separation from his other pitches. That left him no margin for error, and he made a lot of mistakes up in the strike zone--and they got punished. He's still one of the top pitching prospects in the system, but needs to get his fastball and changeup back and be more aggressive.
Q: jason from salem, or asks:
With Jose Lopez's promotion, is he a permanent fixture at SS for the Mariners or will Adam Jones push him to another position in a couple years?
A: Jim Callis: A .232 average and .630 OPS in Seattle shouldn't make Lopez a permanent fixutre yet. He has an impressive array of tools and he's very young, but he's going to have to hit more than that. He's still a better hitter and defender than Adam Jones at this point, though. The Mariners do have a number of other talented shortstop prospects as well, so Lopez will have to pick it up with the stick.
Q: Russ from NY asks:
Mr. Callis, it's actually the 16th chat. Now that all of the lists have been put out, here's a question: You have to make a team and you can only choose one player out of the 16 #1 prospects, who do you choose?
A: Jim Callis: But we combined the Arizona League and Gulf Coast League chats, so it indeed has been 15! As for your question, I'll take Felix Hernandez, No. 1 in both the California League and the Texas League.
Q: Shawn from Seattle asks:
Do you think Ryan Christianson has a future in MLB or have injuries ruined him?
A: Jim Callis: Injuries have marred the former first-round pick's last three seasons, restricting his development, so it's hard to project him as more than a big league backup at this point.
Q: Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Clint Nageotte didn't look espically sharp as a starter for the M's this season. Aside from being the league leader in sweating do the M's now look to groom him to be a closer in waiting?
A: Jim Callis: Most outside clubs thing the Mariners should give up on the idea of Nageotte as a starter and just let him throw be a power reliever with a killer slider. But Seattle still thinks he can refine his changeup and command to become a starter.
Q: Blair from Angel Comeback-ville asks:
Hi Jim, great chat so far! Madritsch is way down on the list but I think he's where he belongs. He looked great against some really good teams down the stretch (Angels, A's, Red Sox), and he seems to have that chip on his shoulder a top of the rotation guy should. The M's have talked about making him a reliever. Why would they do that to one of their best starters? His lack of a breaking ball? I like him better as a starter.
A: Jim Callis: Though he telegraphs his changeup, big league hitters haven't hit it, and as long as they don't he'll stay in the rotation. If they adjust to it, his lack of a breaking ball may push him to the pen, where his aggressive nature would serve him well. I won't put a 28-year-old on a league prospect list too often, but he earned it.
Q: Max from Ottawa, Canada asks:
Of Kubel, Reed, and Rios, who has the best chance of making an immediate and meaningful impact in 2005? Who has the highest long-term upside? And who's going to be the dud of the group?
A: Chris Kline: Most meaningful impact next season: Reed. I'm not going to say any one of these players is going to be a dud, but if I had to rank them in terms of impact, I'd go Reed, Kubel, Rios.
Q: Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Jeremy Brown at Midland and Ryan Christianson at San Antonio: are they still major league catcher prospects? Thanks. Tom McCullough. York PA
A: John Manuel: Tom, thanks for another good question. Christianson is a guy I'm rooting for; he's just 23 and he showed this year that he can still hit. He's had numerous shoulder problems . . . the Mariners have a hole at catcher still, but we still need to see how his defense comes back after another year. I have a question about Brown that I'll get to later.
Q: Nate from Denver, CO asks:
What seperates a guy like Carlos Quentin from Shin-Soo Choo?? The rankings for the CA league indicated Quentin has a pretty good glove. Rankings for the TL did not seem to indicate quite the same thing. Is it defense that seperates these two? Who would you compare Quentin too?
A: John Manuel: Choo is a better all-around player . . . he's a true five-tool guy. Quentin projects to hit for more power for most, though I'm not 100 percent sure of that. Quentin played in two great hitters' parks this year and slugged .549. Choo played in a pitcher's park and slugged .462. They're the same age. I do think Quentin should hit for more big league power, but I see Choo as a guy who can hit .300 with 20-30 steals and 15-25 homers while also being an above-average defender (vs. average for Quentin).
Q: Bill from Ft. Worth asks:
Hey John, great chat as usual. It was a frustrating year for Ervin Santana, but what is his outlook for next year? If healthy, is he right up there with Hernandez?
A: John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words, Bill. Santana's outlook is tough. The background noise on him was that he thought he was more hurt than the Angels did, and the organization wasn't terribly happy with him this year. It seems there's a school of thought out there that he's soft. I know that when he has pitched, he has shown frontline stuff and at times has dominated. I think no one is in Hernandez' class right now aside from maybe Matt Cain and maybe Chad Billingsley.
Q: Eric from KC asks:
Will Sergio Santos and the possibility of Stephen Drew being in the Diamondbacks organization affect the possibilities of drafting Justin Upton next June? Do most scouts think that Sergio can stay at SS in the majors or will ne move to 3B?
A: John Manuel: Great question. I don't think that has much to do with it, since Santos really isn't a SS and Drew might not be either; the same can be said of Justin Upton, who may be a CF down the line. However, who knows who will be in charge of the Diamondbacks' draft next year, after this ownership change? If it's still Mike Rizzo, it's hard to see him using the No. 1 pick on a prep player, as his track record leans heavily to the college side.
Q: JOE C from BOSTON asks:
Is Felix Hernandez the real deal? I know his stuff is impeccable and maybe the best since Mark Prior, or better. But what about his character? What major leaguer does he compare to?
A: John Manuel: Is this the first Felix Hernandez question? Shocking. As for his character . . . is this a presidential debate? If you mean his makeup, I've heard nothing but good things about Felix as far as being a good guy and good teammate; Shin-Soo Choo for one spoke on this subject at the Futures Game. He's kind of cocky in the sense that he knows he's good, but that's generally accepted as a good thing. All the comparisons are to Dwight Gooden; Felix is going to have to stay healthy but otherwise there are few if any caveats with this guy. He's the best pitching prospect in the minors.
Q: Ian from NJ asks:
You can't go through a chat session and not mention Felix Herandnez so... His fastball already can reach 98 and many say that as he matures and fills out he could hit triple-digits. He is a big kid though and much more filling out won't be that good for him. Has his velocity capped or is there really more room for improvement?
A: John Manuel: Good call Ian . . . I did mention him early, but even JJ Cooper had to remark on the lack of Felix questions. I think you raise a good point. I have had so many people tell me that they think he can throw harder if he's in a bit better shape and gets stronger; his mechanics are already pretty smooth. I guess we should phrase it more that with refinements, he can pitch at that 96-98 instead of just touch it, and he could start touching 99-100. Yes, I do think that is realistic, based on the info I've had on him.
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