Sunday, October 22, 2017

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Nick Madrigal

Nick Madrigal is a college middle infielder for Oregon State who might have the best hit tool in the entire draft.  He's small at just 5'7", 160 lbs but is strong and athletic with a high baseball IQ and has displayed leadership skills from an early age.  He is a ballfield rat with a high intensity level.

On Video, he has a high leg kick but his stature gives him a naturally short path to the ball.  His Frame looks like it could easily carry an additional 15-20 lbs of muscle so there may be some power upside.  He's reportedly a fast, smart runner with excellent range on the field. The only minus is arm strength which is probably not enough to play on the left side of the IF at higher levels.  The bat should play at 2B, though.  Here is his stat line from 2017:

.380/.449/.532, 20 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 16 SB, 27 BB, 16 K, 237 AB.

Notice the reversed K/BB.  Think of him as a right-handed version of Joe Panik.

One more interesting tidbit:  He is apparently a wizard bat handler who, when battling a hand injury reached base 4 times against Yale on bunts!

Although he could be a terrific value in the middle of the first round, I would be disappointed to see the Giants spend a #2 overall on him.

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DrB's 2018 Draft Board:

1. Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
2. Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.
3. Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
4. Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
5. Brady Singer, RHP, College(Florida).
6. Nick Madrigal, 2B, College(Oregon St).
7. Brice Turang, SS, HS.

Hot Stove Update: Coaching Carousel

We are supposed to hit triple digit temperatures here in SoCal today and tomorrow, but the Giants fired up their winter hot stove yesterday with the bombshell announcement that pitching coach Dave Righetti is being reassigned to a front office role along with longtime bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker who also were given "Special Assistant" titles.  Earlier, they announced that Shane Turner will also be a Special Assistant for pro scouting while former Giant David Bell will be the new Director of Player Personnel which apparently is synonymous with Player Development, the role Turner is vacating.

Rumors swirled around other members of the coaching staff.  GM Bobby Evans reportedly interviewed Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis who might be a replacement for either 3B coach Phil Nevin, who is reportedly in the running for the Phillies' manager job or Hitting Coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens who may also be in the running for a manager job with another team.  According to some reports, Bench Coach Ron Wotus may be a candidate for yet another "Special Assistant" job, and you have to wonder what all those Special Assistants are going to be actually doing.  Meulens, who some observers see as a possible successor to Manager Bruce Bochy may be in line for Bench Coach as the next stepping stone for the managers job.  It remains unclear why Ron Wotus it treated like he is radioactive when it comes to managing jobs in or out of the Giants organization.

Got all that?  Good! It's really hard to write about coaching changes because even knowledgeable fans know so little about what makes a good or bad coach.  There is even little agreement among professional analysts how much difference coaches make in player performance.  I'll offer some thoughts.

The Righetti move is the biggest surprise.  Of all the coaches, he seemed to be the most untouchable after serving in the position for 18 years under 3 different managers.  All I can say is that Giants pitching seemed to perform noticeably better after he took over as pitching coach.  He also seemed to be instrumental in helping several young Giants pitchers make adjustments at the MLB level helping to launch All-Star careers.  Examples would include Matt Cain's skipped start in his first full season and triumphant return to the mound, I think that was against the A's.  And who can forget Madison Bumgarner's announcement after a delayed start in the postseason that he had been "fixed?"  Again, we don't know how much those processes played out.  Shawn Estes shed some light in a Postgame Live segment with the observation that Righetti's expertise was more in how to set up and attack hitters while Mark Gardner was actually more involved with mechanical adjustments.  Whatever the case, it was a combination that worked well for a long time, until the last 1.5 seasons when something caused the pitching staff, particularly the bullpen, to fall off a cliff.  It will be most interesting to see who takes Righetti's place as pitching coach.  The beat writers seem to think Evans is looking for someone more "analytical", and it's unclear exactly what that means.  Brian Bannister is a guy who seems to be respected in Sabermetrically oriented websites.  Beyond that, I would not hazard a guess.

The Giants seem to really like bringing former Giants players back into the organization, and Chili Davis would likely be a popular choice among fans.  If he is being considered to replace Bam Bam as hitting coach, that would be interesting seeing as how the Red Sox had a power outage of their own this past season.  Coming to SF as Hitting Coach would be a lateral move for Davis, but 3B Coach could be seen as a promotion.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Giants Depth Charts: Centerfield

If you take Giants management at their word in their end-of-season press conference, and there is no history of them ever straying too far from from what they say in that yearly forum, centerfield is the position most likely to get an upgrade from outside the organization this winter.  This means that last year's starter at the position, Denard Span, will almost certainly not be playing the position in 2018, whether that is due to a move to LF, a trade out of the organization or some other destination.  Gorkys Hernandez is left standing at the top of the current depth chart pending the expected addition.  Jarrett Parker could probably play there in a pinch, but otherwise, that's it for the MLB 40 man roster.

AAA:  Steven Duggar has been drawing raves for his CF defense, both in August for the Sacramento River Cats and now the AFL Scottsdale Scorpions.  His bat seemed a bit rusty after missing most of the season with an injury, but the Giants seem to think he could take over CF with just a bit more seasoning.  From their history and public statements, don't expect them to hand him the job in spring training, though.  Slade Heathcott is an intriguing name on he current Sacramento roster.  I am not sure if this means he is signed for next season or if he is a minor league FA.  Heathcott was steady all season for AA Richmond but did not really get traction after a late season promo to Sacramento.

AA:  There are no CF listed on the current Richmond Roster.  Caleb Gindl finished the season as their starting CF, but he seems to have disappeared.

High A:  2017 2'nd round draft pick, Bryan Reynolds, had a fine first full pro season playing all 3 OF positions for San Jose.  Analysts are divided on whether he can play CF at the MLB level.  Ronnie Jebavy keeps bumping more highly ranked prospects out of CF with his sensational defense but he has never found traction with his bat.

Low A:  Johneshwy Fargas and Ashford Fulmer are still looking for traction on their pro careers and are probably organizational players at this point.

Short Season:  Malique Ziegler has tools and got off to a great start for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes but totally collapsed in the second half casting a huge dark cloud over his future. Was it injury?  Fatigue?  Pitchers finding his holes?  Bryce Johnson played CF in college but played mostly LF for S-K.

Rookie AZL:  If Heliot Ramos, the Giants 2017 first round draft pick, is not their CF of the future, I will be one disappointed and sad Giants fan.  It will take some time to get there, but he's the #1 Giants prospect in my book right now.  Nick Hill is probably already on organizational player.

DSL:  Jose Patino has not made much progress while repeating the DSL twice.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Nander De Sedas

Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.  6'1", 190 lbs.  B-S, T-R.  De Sedas is a HS SS from the same prep school as Francisco Lindor.  De Sedas is bigger and stronger than Lindor and may have the tools to stick at SS.  He started switch-hitting last year and is already proficient from both sides of the plate.  Here are the PG numbers:

60 Yard Dash:  6.67.
Arm:  96 MPH IF.
Exit Velocity:  94 MPH.
Time to Impact:  .102(excellent!).

Here are some scouting comments, also from PG:

Strong athletic build.
Outstanding defensive actions.
Plus range in all directions.
Very quick exchange and release.
Switch-hitter, legit from both sides.

On top of all that, if this kid reaches the majors, he will be in serious contention for the greatest name in the history of MLB!  In a SS smackdown with Brice Turang, at least based on what I've seen, I'll take De Sedas in a heartbeat.  I would even have to think twice before I put Jarred Kelenic ahead of him!  Brian Sabean once said that his draft philosophy was to draft shortstops then move them to where they are needed. He also has a longstanding love for switch-hitters.  I can see the Giants taking this kid at #2 overall.

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DrB's 2018 Draft Board:

1.  Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
2.  Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.
3.  Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
4.  Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
5.  Brady Singer, RHP, College(Florida).
6.  Brice Turang, SS, HS.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Giants Depth Charts: Shortstop

The Giants shortstop position is pretty much set in stone for the forseeable future with Brandon Crawford having 4 years left on his contract. Depth at the MLB level is provided by Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte.  Christian Arroyo, whose future is at another position, could probably play the position and Ryder Jones could even fill in for a dire emergency.

AAA:  I think Juniel Querecuto is a minor league FA, so the AAA position is open.

AA:  CJ Hinojosa had a pretty good season for Richmond in a traditionally tough environment for Giants positional prospects.  He should be ready to move up to AAA.  Carlos Garcia and Rando Moreno are organizational players.

High A:  Ryan Howard came within 1 game of taking a .300 BA wire-to-wire for San Jose and looks to be ready for the AA challenge.

Low A:  Brandon Van Horn is a project whose scouting reports favor his defense over offense, but he showed some stick during a month long hot streak and might be ready to take on the next level in San Jose.

Short Season:  I'm still at least slightly bullish on Manuel Geraldo who has had a couple of good short seasons, but now he needs to get over the Augusta hump on what will be his 3'rd try.  The Giants have allowed players in similar situations to bypass Augusta which is not out of the question for Geraldo.

Rookie AZL:  Nico Giarratano is an undersized scrapper who didn't hit much for USF and whose bat did not impress in rookie ball which is too low for a college draftee.  Francisco Medina, Jose Rivero and Hector Santiago are all looking for traction on their pro careers.

DSL:  Ghordy Santos is an intriguing prospect who the Giants paid a $300 K bonus to, the maximum allowed during their penalty phase for overspending on Lucius Fox.  He got off to a slow start, but hit .321 in August.  Enoch Watts has an interesting name but didn't do much else to garner attention.

The Giants have a fairly solid line of shortstop prospects lined up at each level although there is unlikely to be a need at the MLB level for at least the next 2-3 seasons.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Postseason Watch: The Buster Posey Rule Is A Good Rule

Well, the Hated Ones beat The Team With the Most Insufferable Overrated Manager In Baseball in Game 1 of the NLCS.  Man, I want the Cubs to beat the Dodgers in this series because, well, the Dodgers! But good God!  It is so hard to root for anything remotely associated with Joe Maddon, the most overrated, smug, arrogant, loudmouthed manager since Tommy Lasorda.

Maddon as livid over a play that ended up not impacting the outcome of the game when Wilson Contreras stuck is foot and leg out hockey goalie style before he had the ball to block home plate with  Charlie Culberson bearing down on him.  Contreras' foot kept Culberson's hand from touching home plate, and Contreras applied the tag as Culberson kneeled in the dirt on the other side of the plate.  The call on the field was Out.  The replay officials called Culberson Safe invoking the "Buster Posey Rule".

Ron Darling in the broadcast booth went nuts and spent the rest of the game complaining about how the rule negated a "great baseball play."  Maddon came out, ranted at the on-field ump, who is not the guy who made the call, waved his arm around, clearly dropped an F-bomb if you were reading lips and got tossed.  After the game, Maddon said he did not like the rule and he also thought the rule was not interpreted correctly.

As much as I don't want the Dodgers to win this series, the rule was interpreted correctly and it is a good rule.  Let's rewind and show this play without the "Buster Posey Rule."  Contreras sticks his leg out.  Culberson, knowing Contreras will do that, goes shoulder first into Conteras' leg and foot trying to displace it enough to get to Home Plate destroying a young star catcher's ankle in the process.  Or Culberson aims for Contreras' chest hoping to jar the ball loose causing one or both of them to suffer a concussion on the play.

Those are the outcomes the "Buster Posey Rule" was designed to prevent.  The rule worked perfectly as nobody was hurt and the replay call was correct.  If the Out call was allowed to stand, the next time the situation arose, the runner would know he had to blow up the catcher in order to score the run.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Brice Turang

Brice Turang is a HS SS out of Corona, CA.  I believe he is the son of Brian Turang who had a brief major league career with the Mariners in 1993-94.  Brice is on the small side at 6'0", 165 lbs, B-L, T-R.  For a guy who is listed at the #1 draft prospect on some early rankings, there isn't a lot of information out there about him.  He apparently skipped the PG showcase where they do all the measurements.  One video I saw had him 3.97 to 1B on a bunt and 4.2 on a swing.  I think that is pretty good.  We don't seem to have any 60 yd dash times nor any throwing velocities.  I have seen scouting reports that question whether he has the arm for SS.  If he has speed, I suppose he could play CF.  His swing reminds me of Corey Seager's which is pretty good, except Seager is listed at 6'4", 220 lbs.

This kid is awfully small and I'm not sold that there is a lot of projectability there and there is information which I consider vital to scouting HS talent that is missing, at least from the sources I know about.  I'm going to say he is at best a second tier draft prospect without further information.

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DrB's 2018 Draft Board:

1.  Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
2. Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
3.  Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
4.  Brady Singer, RHP, College(Florida).
5.  Brice Turang, SS, HS(likely to fall further as we profile more prospects).