Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe

Manuel Margot, OF, Padres.  DOB:  9/28/1994.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

2016 AAA:  .304/.351/.426, 21 2B, 12 3B, 6 HR, 30 SB, 6.4 BB%, 11.3 K%, 566 PA.
2016 MLB:  .243/.243/.405, 4 2B, 3 B, 2 SB, 0.0 BB%, 18.9 K%, 37 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .257/.298/.375, 25 2B, 9 3B, 7 HR, 27 SB, 5.2 BB%, 14.3 K%, 581 PA.

Margot can fly and he'll get a chance to fly around the basepaths with the Padres in 2017 as they are rebuilding, have no expectations and have no reason to be cautious with their baserunning.  Margot is a high contact guy with gap power.  He's a nice cheap source of SB's in deeper fantasy leagues.

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Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres.  DOB:  1/28/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 220 lbs.

2016 AAA:  .306/.336/.557, 34 2B, 5 3B, 30 HR, 5 SB, 3.9 BB%, 20.4 K%, 563 PA.
2016 MLB:  .371/.389/.800, 3 2B, 4 HR, 7.8 BB%, 13.9 K%, 36 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .240/.278/.426, 28 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 5 SB, 4.8 BB%, 27.6 K%, 586 PA.

Hunter Renfroe is a guy a lot of Giants prospect and draft watchers wanted them to draft back in 2013. Renfroe has worked his way up the Padres system and shown impressive power in the minor leagues albeit with a lot of K's and a relatively low BB%.  He should start in RF on a rebuilding Padres team and as we all know the first step to fantasy baseball value is having a steady gig on the field.  He's probably not for guys like me who play in 10 team mixed leagues, but should be a cheap source of power in deeper leagues.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants sign Slade Heathcott

Slade Heathcott, OF.  DOB:  9/28/1990.  B-L, T-L.  6'0", 195 lbs.

2016 AAA(Yankees):  .230/.271/.310, 5 2B, 3B, 5.2 BB%, 32.0 K%, 97 PA.
2016 AAA(White Sox):  .258/.407/.366, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 18/5 BB%, 25.3 K%, 119 PA.

The Giants signed former Yankees first round draft pick Slade Heathcott for a minor league contract with a spring training invitation.  Heathcott is a tremendous athlete who can play above average D in CF, but whose bat has never really developed.  Heathcott has a history of substance and alcohol abuse problems as well as anger management issues, but reportedly is clean now with help from AA and finding religion.

Heathcott will be 4 OF's fighting for a bench role who can reasonably play CF, Gorkys Hernandez, Justin Ruggiano, Wynton Bernard and Heathcott.

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The Giants have signed Vince Coleman(yes, THAT Vince Coleman) to be a roving minor league baserunning instructor.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Aaron Hill

Aaron Hill, 2B/3B.  DOB:  3/21/1982.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 2015 lbs.

2016(2 Teams):  .262/.336/.378, 14 2B, 10 HR, 4 SB, 9.6 BB%, 13.8 K%, 429 PA.

The Giants signed yet another veteran player to a conditional minor league contract with a spring training invitation as they promised to pay Aaron Hill $2 M if he makes the Opening Day 25 man roster.  Now, I have to say Aaron Hill had kind of dropped off my radar screen, so I was surprised to see his Fangraphs stat line and find that he actually had a pretty good season last year.  He was even a slightly plus defender while covering 2 positions.

So, I don't have a problem with bringing in a guy like Aaron Hill in isolation.  The problem is the Giants have signed a whole lot of these kinds of deals this winter and it's becoming increasingly difficult to see how they sort it all out.  I totally get that depth is a good thing and competition is a good thing, but this is starting to look like a train wreck waiting to happen.  The Giants now have, what, 4 veteran players in camp whose primary position last year was 3B?  Even after you factor in injury probability, option every player you can and complete the 25 man roster, you have at least 10-15 players left who are going to get released.

Spring training performance is already a dubious tool for making regular season roster decisions.  The sample size is very small by baseball standards.  The conditions, especially in Arizona, are not typical of regular season conditions and the level of competition for many of those innings is questionable at best.  Add in the need to find innings for all of these players who are fighting for a job and you have high likelihood of making a bad decision based on inappropriate criteria.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Michael Gigliotti

Michael Gigliotti, OF, College(Lipscomb).  B-L, T-L.  6'2", 175 lbs.

2015 Lipscomb:  .336/.409/.448, 5 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 17 SB, 25 BB, 31 K, 232 AB.
2015 Valley League:  .280/.349/.320, 2B, 3B, 9 SB, 9 BB, 9 K, 75 AB.
2016 Lipscomb:  .301/.407/.461, 12 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 15 SB, 31 BB, 35 K, 193 AB.
2016 Cape Cod League:  .310/.404/.426, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 SB, 23 BB, 38 K, 155 AB.

Michael Gigliotti is a true CF with current gap power and lots of room to gain size and strength.  He has shown elite on-base skills and has led all of college baseball in bunt hits over the last 2 years.  As you can see, he has performed well in wood bat summer leagues although his K's spiked a bit in the CCL.  He definitely has a lot of the qualities the Giants look for in a hitter, up-the-middle defense, contact and on-base skills and gap power.  Given approximately equal talent, I think the Giants will and should favor pitching in the draft, but if they think Gigliotti is the BPA, they could grab him at #19.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1. Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2. Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3. Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4. Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5. JB  Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina).
6. Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7. JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8. Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt).
10. Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11.  Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS
13.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
14.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
15.  Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.
16.  Jacob Heatherly, LHP, HS.
17.  DL Hall, LHP, HS.
18.  MICHAEL GIGLIOTTI, OF, College(Lipscomb).
19.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
20.  Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
21.  Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
22.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville).
23.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
24.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
25.  Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
26. Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
27.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS.
28.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).
29.  Corbin Martin, RHP, College(Texas A&M).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B, White Sox.  DOB:  5/27/1995.  B-S, T-R.  6'2", 205 lbs.

2016 A+:  .307/.427/.496, 25 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 36 SB, 15.8 BB%, 21.1 K%, 254 PA.
2016 AA:  .277/.379/.531, 6 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 9 SB, 13.0 BB%, 30.9 K%, 217 PA.
2016 MLB:  .211/.250/.263, 5.0 BB%, 60.0 K%, 20 PA.
2016 AFL:  .292/.370/.458, 11.1 BB%, 37.0 K%, 27 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .276/.375/.384, 27 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 34 SB, 10.5 BB%, 25.7 K%, 650 PA.

Yoan Moncada is an elite prospect with even more elite athleticism.  He was traded from the Red Sox to the White Sox over the winter in the Chris Sale trade.  The major, and possibly only, current flaw in his game is the strikeout rate.  The ChiSox will likely make him work on that in AAA to start the season.  Their starters at 2B and 3B are Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier.  One or both of them will likely be traded by July 31.  When they are, or may before, we'll see Moncada come up to stay. He will immediately be fantasy relevant.  He may hurt you in the BA category but his ZIPS projection of 17 HR's and 34 SB over the course of a season is a pretty darn valuable fantasy player.  You might want to wait on him in re-draft leagues, but if you are in a league with 6-12 keepers, he may still be available and you should think about drafting him aggressively.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign David Hernandez

David Hernandez, RHP.  DOB:  5/13/1985.  6'2", 230 lbs.

2016 Phillies:  3-4, 3.84, 72.2 IP, 3.96 BB/9, 9.91 K/9, 11 HR, 14.2 HR/FB.

The Giants kept fanning the dying embers of the hot stove even as spring training was getting underway in Arizona with yet another minor league deal with a spring training invitation and conditional MLB deal for 1.5 M which seems to be a popular number for these kind of contracts.  Maybe that is the de-facto minimum wage for all non-pre-arbitration players these days?  Anyway….

You may remember David Hernandez from his days as a Arizona Diamondback.  His best season was 2012 when he posted a 2.50 ERA with a 12. 91 K/9 and a 2.90 BB/9.  The next season his ERA ballooned to 4.48.  Then he missed the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery.  Last year he found himself in Philadelphia where he posted a 2.93 ERA in the second half of the season.  His average FB velocity last year was 94 MPH so his arm is definitely healthy again.  His big problem over the last 2 seasons has been a big tendency to give up dingers.  AT&T Park should help with that.  If he stays healthy, I think there is a high probability that David Hernandez will be on the Opening Day 25 man roster.

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The signing of Hernandez adds to the intrigue and competition for bullpen spots in addition to several position battles through spring training.  I wonder if the Giants felt like some guys were feeling a bit too comfortable and entitled last year?  Back to the bullpen.  Barring injury, Mark Melancon is a lock to be the closer and Will Smith is close to a lock for lefty setup man.  Strickland and Law are probably in.  That leaves 3 spots open for competition if the Giants choose to carry 7 relievers which seems likely, although they carried 8 for much of last season.

The Giants usually carry a long relief/6'th starter type in their bullpen and the competition would seem to be among Albert Suarez, who had that role last year and the loser of the Matt Cain/Ty Blach battle for 5'th starter(Blach has options, so could be sent to Sacramento).  That would leave 2-3 spots for the remaining competitors.

40 Man Roster players with MLB experience:  Suarez, Blach, Steven Okert, Josh Osich, George Kontos, Cory Gearrin.

Minor League FA's with MLB experience and ST invitations:  Jose Dominguez, Bryan Morris, Neil Ramirez, Matt Reynolds, David Hernandez.

How do you see the bullpen shaking out?

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MLBTR is reporting that RHP Alex Reyes of the Cardinals, who I recently profiled in a "Fantasy Focus:  Impact Rookies" segment, will likely have to undergo "Tommy John" surgery to repair a torn UCL.  If true, this is just one more example of an increasing direct correlation between velocity and probability of UCL injury in pitchers.  Once again, only about 50% of pitchers who undergo TJ surgery ever make it all the way back to their previous level of velocity and performance.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Spring Training Update: 5 Burning Questions

Pitchers and catchers reported today which means pretty much nothing happened that could be seen.  Pitchers will start throwing to catchers tomorrow.  It will be awhile before we see any live batting practice.  So, let's take a look at 5 burning questions that need to be answered in Spring Training for the  Giants:

1.  Can an aging core avoid serious injuries in spring training?  Serious injuries to Buster Posey, any of the top 4 SP or to Mark Melancon would likely be fatal to the Giants chances for an odd year championship run.  They could probably survive extended absences from Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt or Hunter Pence, but we've seen them struggle without Pence in the past.

2.  Does Matt Cain have anything left?  The ideal scenario for the Giants is for Cainer to win the #5 SP role which would allow them to use Ty Blach as a long reliever/swingman/3'rd lefty reliever or else stash him back in Sacramento for depth.  If they have to use Blach as the #5 SP puts pressure on Tyler Beede and/or Andrew Suarez to be ready immediately in case of injury to a SP.

3.  Who wins the starting LF job?  Personally, I think if Mac Williamson is healthy, you give it to him and give him at least half a season to lose it.  The Giants need another RH bat in the lineup in addition to power.  Mac gives them both plus tremendous long term upside.  I'm OK with bringing others into the mix, but only as insurance in case Mac gets injured.

4.  Who has the inside track for bench jobs, homegrown veterans from the 40 man roster or veteran spring training invitees?  Again, I don't mind having depth in case of injury, but it seems the Giants have gone way beyond that with multiple high profile players signed to minor league contracts with spring training invitations.  You know those guys did not sign to play in Sacramento as organizational depth, which means for equal or near equal performance in Spring Training, the kids with options will be the ones packing their bags on cutdown day.

5.  Is Eduardo Nunez the starting 3B or are the Giants angling to make him a super-utility guy?  The Giants have insisted that Nunez is the starting 3B for 2017, but Conor Gillaspie has a case to be at least a platoon at the position.  If Jae-Gyun Hwang shows he can hit MLB pitching in spring training, there will be pressure to make him the starter over both Gillaspie and Nunez.

What is your burning question for Spring Training?