Sunday, February 28, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #49: Jose Valdez

#49 Jose Valdez. RHP. BD: 08-01-1988. 6'7", 250 lbs.

2009 Stats: Salem-Keizer(Short Season): 3-3, 4.33, 35.1 IP, 18 BB, 36 K's, GO/AO= 1.33. Last 10 appearances- 1-1, 3-00, 12 IP, 5 BB, 19 K's.

If I had to pick one pitcher in the Giants system to come out of nowhere and rocket all the way to the top, like Dan Runzler last year, it would be Jose Valdez. Valdez has been in the Giants system since 2005. He made his U.S. debut in 2006 in the AZL where he went 1-3 with a 7.38 ERA, but struck out 40 batters in 39 IP, and was named one of the top 20 prospects in the league by BA. BA's scouting report at the time reported at sinking fastball in the mid-upper 90's. Valdez struggled with his control/command in 2007, and missed the 2008 season with TJ surgery. He seemed to really settle down after being moved to the S-K bullpen. Between his second season after TJ and improvement with maturity and experience, the planets would seem to be aligned for a breakout in 2010.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring Training Update: What I'm Watching

There's not much to talk about early in spring training other than finding websites that have pictures of players not doing a whole lot. It's a good baseball fix after a winter of free agent gluttony. It's fun to ooh and ah about who looks like they are in shape and who doesn't. For the record, Pablo doesn't look thinner, but if he can see better with those glasses, look out! He looks even more like a panda with those things on. For a great picture fix, I recommend

Here are some things I'll be watching in spring training:

1. Nate Schierholtz: The Giants need Nate to have a good enough spring to establish himself as the undisputed starting RF, mainly to give him a bit of breathing room to get his feet on the ground once the season starts. I've been a huge fan of Nate since he "broke out" in low A ball low those many years ago, and after seeing him play for San Jose in high A ball. He's a great athlete with a lot more speed than he's often credited with, and a cannon for an arm. He's a good hitter. The only question is if he can control the strike zone well enough to hit in the majors. In my opinion, he's shown enough already to give him a chance. I am not expecting Nate to be an MVP or even an All-Star. If he can hit .280-.300 with 15-20 HR's and plus defense in RF, he'll be a valuable player, mainly because the Giants that's one more position the Giants won't have to spend free agent $$$ on for awhile.

2. #5 Starter: If there is one thing that worries me about this season more than several others, it's the apparent total lack of a major league caliber #5 starter. Two years ago, the Giants combined #5 starters won a total of something like 3 games all season. Last year, RJ won 5 more than that in about a half season and he didn't even pitch all that well. This season is looking a lot more like 2008 as far as #5 starter candidates goes. Of course it would be great if Madison Bumgarner blew down the doors with overpowering stuff in spring training, but I'm not holding my breath. Wellemeyer looks like the odd-on favorite to win the job, but he's been terrible for all but one season out of 5 or 6. I'd love for Joey Martinez to win it, but how much confidence can you have in him? Steve Johnson is an interesting story and has starting experience in the minors, but I don't see any reason to favor him over Joey. Pucetas needs to prove the late season meltdown if Fresno wasn't a fluke. That's it! Unless a reliever converts to starting, and when was the last time you saw that happening?

3. The bullpen: Wilson, Affeldt, Romo and probably Runzler are locks. That leaves at least 3 spots wide open. There are some intriguing names competing: Guillermo Mota, Waldis Joaquin, Santiago Casilla, possibly Steve Edlefsen. Should be interesting sorting it all out in the exhibition games!

4. Buster Posey: Buster might be the single most interesting player in spring training. If he lights it up at the plate, there's going to be a lot of people second guessing the re-signing of Bengie Molina.

5. The kids: No, I don't mean Fred Lewis, John Bowker, Kevin Frandsen or John Bowker. I mean the kids who won't make the 25 man roster, but might be stars in a couple of years. There are some very interesting ones to choose from, Peguero, Kieschnick, Brandon Crawford, Darren Ford. The one guy I think might have a chance to really open eyes and put himself on the map for the future is Thomas Neal. This kid can flat out hit, and he's not just a one dimensional player either. He had the best LF arm in the Cal League last year and almost won the stolen base title in the Arizona Fall League. I think he is our LF of the future. It's a longshot, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him force his way to the majors before this season is over.
What will you be watching?

College Corner: Friday Night Starters, Week 2

You'll have to bear with me on all the college posts lately. I always get amped up at the start of the college season and again as the draft approaches. The middle, not so much. We'll just take it one day at a time.

Once again, the Friday Starter focus is on the Sophomore pitchers:

Taylor Jungman, RHP, Texas, dominated a Stanford lineup that clobbered Rice last weekend: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K's. Pretty darn impressive!

Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA, got the best of the Marquee Matchup between him and Sonny Gray of Vanderbilt: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K's. Gray didn't fare as well: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K's. UCLA won 9-2 and looks like they have a strong, young team that should be even better next year. Most of their star players are freshmen and sophomores.

Another nice start by a sophomore was turned in by Sammy Solis of San Diego vs. SD State: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K's. Solis is listed at 6'5", 228 lbs., so he's a big boy. Solis is draft eligible, #32 on BA's list of College Draft Prospects.

Yet another sophomore, Danny Hultzen of Virginia had a good looking line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K's against Rhode Island. He ran his record to 2-0, 1.38, 13 IP, 3 BB, 16 K's.

Junior Thomas Royse of Louisville over Michigan: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K's. Royse is listed at 6'5", 210 lbs. He ran his season stat line to 2-0, 0.00, 11 IP, 2 BB, 14 K's. Last year he was 3-2, 3.48, 41.1 IP, 10 BB, 48 K's., moving into the rotation in the second half. Could be a riser on draft boards this year.

Junior LHP Drew Pomeranz, Ole Miss, K'd 15 against a school called Oakland who I've never heard of. Gotta wonder about the level of competition there.

Here's one to look for in later rounds, Eric Cantrell, JR, RHP, George Washington U. 6'4", 200 lbs. Held his own last Friday against Matt Harvey and North Carolina. Great game last night against Coppin State: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K's. Last year, he was 5-2, 4.46, 72.2 IP, 26 BB, 60 K's as a sophomore starter. After last night's game, he stands at 1-0, 2.45, 11 IP, 2 BB, 16 K's. I'll try to find out more about him.

A couple more interesting lines from last night: Jason Mitchell, Senior, RHP, UT Arlington, 6'2", 185 lbs.- 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 18 K's!! Cody Martin, Junior, RHP, Gonzaga, 6'3", 210 lbs.- 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 13 K's.

The draft class is looking a bit thin for college pitchers, especially with Ranaudo on the shelf. I would say the college hitters, especially OF's are looking stronger and deeper. I think HS pitching is fairly strong. This might be a good year to be drafting lower in the first round. It looks like there is a ton of talent in the late first round through 2'nd or even 3'rd round, but not a whole lot to justify high first round money. The Giants should be able to find talent in the first and second rounds that is as good, or almost as good as in the top 10 rounds and save $2-3 M in bonus money. Maybe they can use that on another high end international signing?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #48: Jorge Bucardo

#48 Jorge Bucardo. RHP. BD: 10-18-1989. 6'1", 155 lbs.

2009 Stats: Salem-Keizer(Short Season)- 6-3, 2.64, 81.2 IP, 21 BB, 64 K's, GO/AO= 2.41.

This is one I probably could have ranked higher, although he didn't make BA's top 30 either. I like the age vs level thing. I like the extreme groundball tendencies. The K/9 is barely adequate for level, IMO. To me, he's not a whole lot different than Kyle Nicholson, except at a lower level. Jorge is the younger brother of Wilbur Bucardo who has a similar extreme GB tendency but is older and gets even fewer K's. I would expect Jorge to be a starter for Augusta this year at age 20 which is still a favorable age vs level. Augusta is also a more favorable pitching environment than either Arizona or the Northwest League, so a breakout is not impossible.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

College Corner: News and Notes

Anthony Raynaudo, BA's #2 ranked college draft prospect for 2010 from LSU is on the shelf with elbow pain.

Addison Reed, a big RHP from San Diego State who moved from the bullpen to starting put up a great line tonight in a win over a good San Diego team: 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K's. He is ranked #49 on BA's college draft list.

Gerrit Cole of UCLA and Sonny Gray of Vanderbilt are two of the 3 top ranked sophomore college pitchers. They hook up in a Marquee Matchup tomorrow night.

One thing I love about college baseball is the great baseball that's played at schools you never hear of in sports otherwise, Pepperdine, Cal Poly SLO, UC Irvine, UC Riverside. It looks like UC Davis might have a pretty good team this year. They are getting great pitching from several underclassmen. Sophomore LHP Dayne Quist turned in another good one today shutting down BYU in the first game of a doubleheader split: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. The split put the Aggies' record at 4-2 on the season.
Here are the stat lines for their top pitchers including 3 sophomore LHP's:

Nathan Slater, Sophomore, LHP, 6'6", 200 lbs.: 1-0, 0.00, 7.1 IP, 1 BB, 5 K's.

Dayne Quist, Sophomore, LHP, 5'9", 160 lbs.: 2-0, 0.56, 16 IP, 2 BB, 11 K's.

Anthony Kupbens, Sophomore, LHP, 6'3", 200 lbs.: 0-1, 2.84, 6.1 IP, 2 BB, 4 K's.

Matthew Lewis, Junior, RHP, 6'3", 220 lbs.: 1-0, 0.00, 3.2 IP, 3 BB, 5 K's.

Blast From the Past: Willie Mays

I just bought my copy of the new book Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend. I haven't had a chance to read it, but I've skimmed through a few pages. I looks like it's chock full of anecdotes from Willie's fabled career. Willie's career started before I was born, and I only started becoming aware of baseball in the waning years. Still, I don't think any player has had a bigger impact on my baseball consciousness. I was aware of the name Willie Mays at least a couple of years before I really became aware of baseball as an organized sport. Somehow just the name itself is magical. It flows off the tongue, working much better as a first and last name combined than either part of the name by itself. WillieMays! It's really just one word. The name itself gives me goosebumps to say it. As I started listening to games, there was a sense of anticipation like no other each time Russ Hodges or Lon Simmons announced his name as he came to bat. You had a sense that you were getting a minds eye glimpse of something truly special. More often than not, the anticipation was rewarded with a special feat on the field.

I started following baseball games on the radio in late 1965 and early 1966, right about the time Willie hit HR #500. That started the milestone watches as Mays passed legend after legend in various career statistics. Of course, the most important and most exciting were the home runs. Mel Ott was at 511. I was happy when I found out that Mel Ott also played for the Giants. Ted WIlliams was at 521. Then, Jimmy Foxx at 534. Nowadays, there are so many players with 500 career home runs, I have completely lost track. Back then, it was just Ott, Williams, Foxx and Babe Ruth with Willie Mays climbing through the ranks. Now it was just Willie and The Babe, the Great White Whale of my baseball fan life. It seemed like such a huge gap after clicking off Ott, Williams and Foxx. I used to subtract the difference and then divide it by the number of HR's I thought Willie could hit to see how many seasons it would take. I could tell Willie's career was on the wane and knew it was going to be a nail biter at best. #600 finally came, but they weren't adding up as fast as Mays seemed to be fading. Meanwhile, Henry Aaron was charging on the outside, clicking off 40 HR season after 40 HR season, seemingly getting stronger with age as Mays was fading.

Call me a homer, but I've never felt it was right that Aaron was the one who passed Babe Ruth. I had read a biography of Mays and knew he had missed the '52 and '53 seasons to military service. What if he could have played those two seasons? What if the wind at Candlestick Park didn't hold up balls hit to left field? What if Aaron hadn't played in that bandbox on Atlanta? Why did Willie's body seem to wear out before Aaron's? What if? What if? What if? The disappointment became sort of a microcosm of of my entire experience as a Giants fan. The Giants had the best record in the National League over the course of several seasons, but always finished second to somebody, the Dodgers, the Cardinals, the Braves, the Pirates. Juan Marichal never won a Cy Young Award. The 2002 World Series. Mays fell just short of The Babe's record while Aaron passed it. Years later, I would look at Barry Bonds' run at the record as an exorcism of those demons, and I think Willie Mays did too, in a way, but that's a whole other story! I'm still waiting.

Willie Mays was a role model. Back in the 1960's, the health dangers of smoking were just starting to come to light. Everybody, and I mean everybody smoked. I grew up in a strict Seventh-Day Adventist home. Smoking and drinking alcohol were forbidden. That was OK as long as we were in our local SDA community up in the hills above St. Helena, CA, but anywhere else you went, people smoked and drank alcohol. It seemed like there must be something wrong with us. When I read in Willie May's biography that he did not smoke or drink alcohol, suddenly, I didn't feel like we were odd. If Willie Mays didn't smoke or drink alcohol, it was OK for us not to smoke or drink alcohol too!

I was 15 years old when I went to my first baseball game at Candlestick Park. My dad was not into sports. My parents tolerated my interest in baseball and the Giants, but considered it to be borderline "worldly' entertainment. We lived way out in the hills of Napa County and rarely ventured into the city. Finally, early in the 1971 season, several of my friends and I got together and mail ordered tickets to Giants-Dodgers game on a Sunday afternoon in May. My dad and another dad agreed to drive us down and go to the game with us. The Giants had gotten off to a great start. They had an exciting young shortstop named Chris Speier. Bobby Bonds was just coming into his own as a star player. Mays, McCovey, Marichal and Perry all seemed to have something left. It was a great team! The game was sold out and we were way up in the nosebleed bleachers down the right field line. I only remember bits and pieces of the game. It was a sloppy game with a bunch of Dodger runs scored on errors. Bobby Bonds hit a monstrous 3 run homer to left field to temporarily give the Giants the lead. Willie Mays hit a double down the left field line. The Giants eventually lost 9-6. It seemed like kind of a let down after all the anticipation. Over the years, I have come to treasure that game and that experience. Living in Southern California, I sometimes feel like I have to explain why I am a Giants fans to my friends and co-workers who are either Dodger or Angels fans. I've found that I really only need to say one thing. "I saw Willie Mays play in Candlestick Park!" The questions stop. They exclaim how great that is and understand why I am a Giants fan.

As the decade of the 70's dawned, it was obvious that the end of the Willie Mays era was rapidly coming to an end. He contributed to the 1971 run that ended in a loss to the Pirates in the playoffs, but he was exhausted by the end of the season, and fading fast. It was a shock to hear he had been traded to the Mets, but I knew it was really just a formality. His career was really over. Charlie Williams had pitched a great game against the Giants the year before, and I was excited to think that they were getting an up and coming young pitcher from a team that seemed to have an endless supply of great young pitchers, the Mets. Alas, Charlie Williams was a bust as were so many players the Giants acquired in trades over the next few years. For those of you who might be young Giants fans out there, you see, being a young Giants fan is not much different than being an old Giants fan! Another disappointment, Willie Mays didn't retire as a Giant!

To me, the number 24 is the most hallowed of all Giants uniform numbers. I remember Juan Marichal for his leg kick and great pitching, but I have to stop and think that he was #27. Willie McCovey was #44, but so was Hank Aaron's. #24 was Willie Mays number and Willie Mays wore #24. I'm sure there have been other ballplayers on other teams that have worn #24. I think Barry Bonds wore it in Pittsburgh. #24 does not belong to any other player the way it belongs to Willie Mays. The Giants could unretire all the other retired numbers, and it wouldn't bother me a lot, but no other Giants player should ever, under any circumstances wear #24. I gave a copy of Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend to a friend at work who is a lifelong Dodger fan. He immediately whipped out his laptop computer and pulled up an old video of him and his family at Dodgers stadium as a kid. The camera panned down to the field where Willie Mays had just hit a home run and was trotting down the first base line. "There he is," my Dodger fan friend said, "number 24!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #47: Ryan Cavan

#47 Ryan Cavan. SS. B-S, T-R. BD: 06-28-1987. 5'10", 180 lbs.

2009 Stats: Salem-Keizer(Short Season)- .277/.399/.518 with 9 HR's, 191 AB's.

Drafted in the 16'th round out of UCSB, Cavan had an up and down start to his pro career. He was barely hitting above .250 when he went on a .419 tear while hitting 6 HR's over his last 10 games to give him a very impressive final stat line. What's more, he had almost identical lines batting right and left handed. So, was that run a lucky streak, or is his final line a true picture of his potential as a hitter? He certainly hit at UCSB with a .341/.447/.509 line his 2009 season. Things I like about Cavan: 1. Power potential. 2. Plate discipline. 3. Switch-hitting. A key will be whether he can stay at SS. Where he goes next year may be problematic with Adrianza slated or San Jose and Ydwin Villegas in the mix for Augusta, although the Giants could keep Villegas in extended spring training then Salem-Keizer and not retard his development too much.

College Corner: Marquee Matchup

Chris Sale is a junior LHP for Florida Gulf Coast who is ranked as the #5 college draft prospect by BA. Sale was the Friday starter for FGC, but only pitched 2 innings even though they were perfect with 4 K's. That had some people scratching their heads until it came out that they were using the start just as a tune up for tonight's game against #10 ranked Miami. Reports from Friday had Sale throwing mid-90's cheese with minimal visible effort. The opposing batters described his stuff as unhittable. Tonight should be a big test. I imagine the stands will be packed with scouts. If he dominates Miami tonight, it would not surprise me to see him jump clear to the top of a lot of draft boards.

Chris Sale vs Miami. The first Marquee Matchup of the college season!

Addendum: Sale didn't get the start after all. Hmm......

Spring Training Update: Odds and Ends

Shout outs to Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler and Thomas Neal for making BA's top 100 prospects. The Top 100 is an elite group and this bodes well for the future of the Giants. I'm especially happy to see Thomas Neal on the list even if it was at #96. I think Neal is one of the more underrated prospects in baseball. I see him as our LF of the future and a good one at that.

I ran out last night and bought a copy of BA's 2010 Prospect Handbook. The Giants are ranked as the 4'th best farm system in baseball, also something that bodes well for the future.

There are some great pics of spring training over at Oh my! Aubrey Huff looks downright skinny. It's great that he's worked hard to get in shape, but I hope he didn't overdo it!

Can't say I'm thrilled with the Zito pics. Hopefully he worked as hard this offseason as last, but I have my doubts.

I can't wait for some intrasquad action and the first exhibition game!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #46: Drew Biery

#46 Drew Biery. 3B. B-R, T-R. BD: 05-14-1986. 6'2", 215 lbs.

2009 Stats: Salem-Keizer(Short Season)- .326/.406/.484, 6 HR's.

Drew Biery was so sure that he wouldn't be drafted after finishing his senior season at Kansas State, he and his fiance scheduled their wedding for later in the summer. When the Giants drafted him in the 22'nd round, he had to ask for a couple of days off and take his honeymoon in the fall. Drew came out of the gate swinging and raked so hard that his teammates at Salem-Keizer nicknamed him "Biery Bonds". There is so much to like about Biery's season, the batting average, the OBP and decent power. As a senior draftee, he is quite old for his level and will have to develop fast. In his interview with Joe Ritzo on, Fred Stanley mentioned the possibility that Biery could start the season in San Jose, and called him an "excellent" third baseman.

Monday, February 22, 2010

College Corner: I think I've Found Our First Round Draft Pick!

So, I'm surfing through the college boxscores over on and I come across this stat line from a Univ of Kansas relief pitcher: 2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K's, HBP. That's right, 6 K's in 2 IP as in he struck out the side twice in a row. The kid's name? Brett Bochy!! So I go the Kansas roster page and notice he's from Poway, CA. Isn't Poway near San Diego and isn't that where Bruce Bochy lived when he was the manager down there? I click on his name. Up comes his player bio. Sure enough Parents are Bruce and Kim Bochy. Father is manager of the SF Giants. Here's the address of Brett Bochy's player page:

Look at that melon! Not sure Kim contributed any DNA to that kid! Looks like Boch just went out and found a cloning lab.

Here's Brett Bochy's 2009 stat line: 5-0, 4.34, 37.1 IP, 16 BB, 54 K's.

Hmm....Let's see, Dad's reputation is for building great bullpens. Sonny is a relief pitcher, and a pretty good one at that.........

Not our first rounder, but he fits the mold of the type of pitcher the Giants like to grab in the later rounds, don't you think?

Hot Tip!

OK team! I could think of something to write tonight, but here's the address to a link to a video that is absolutely must viewing for any serious baseball fan and I'm not talking about the girl!

Pay particular attention to the stuff on Nate McLouth if you want to understand what's going on in MLB this offseason.

Here's a thought for Giants fans. Remember how much fun we've made of Brian Sabean for collecting CF's over the years? Well, now it seems like everybody is doing it. Maybe Sabean was into sabermetrics all along and was just ahead of the curve?(ducks and runs away).

College Corner: Weekend Wrap

My man Ricky Oropesa got off to a fine start for the USC Trojans hitting a HR in the 9'th inning yesterday for the go ahead run as USC took the weekend series from Cal Poly SLO 2 games to 1. Unfortunately, there is a discrepancy between the boxscores and the season stats for Ricky. According the the boxscores he went 3 for 13 with a double, HR and BB. The stats have him at 4 for 13 with 2 doubles, HR, and BB. Either way, he's off to a fine start.

A few other college notes:

Stanford walloped Rice in a 3 game sweep. Rice's vaunted pitching was nowhere to be found.

New Mexico took 2 of 3 from Texas. One line that caught my eye from New Mexico was senior CF Max Willett going 7 for 11 with 2 doubles, a triple, HBP and SF. Impressive against one of the best pitching staffs in the country.

I'll give a shout out to UC Riverside catcher Rob Brantly who went 4 for 11, 2 HR's, BB, HBP over the weekend. Rob is listed as BA's #35 ranked college draft prospect for this year.

UCLA looked sharp in sweeping their games in the MLB Urban Invitational in LA. The Bruins look to have 3 solid starters in Cole, Bauer and Rasmussen.

Probably the best baseball of the weekend was the round-robin between CS Fullerton, Oregon, Pepperdine and Long Beach State. Christian Colon(4 for 13, HR, BB) and Gary Brown(6 for 14, 2B, 4 SB) had good weekends despite CS Fullerton losing 2 of 3 for the weekend. Oregon put itself on the baseball map with 2 wins against Fullerton and Long Beach State, while Pepperdine showed it is a force with great pitching from Cole Cook and Max Bywater followed by an 11-7 win over Oregon on Sunday.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #45: Evan Crawford

#45 Evan Crawford. OF. B-R, T-R. BD: 08-05-1988. 6'2", 167 lbs.

2009 Stats: AZL(Rookie)- .273/.324/.318, 9 SB, 0 CS, 66 AB. Salem-Keizer(Short Season)- .316/.375/.447, 5 SB, 2 CS, 114 AB's. Hit .395 over his last 10 games.

Not so long ago, if the Giants had one promising prospect at a given position, you had to pin your hopes on that one player because there weren't any others like him in the system. It's a veritable embarrassment of riches that Evan Crawford has at least 3 CF's ahead of him on the prospect depth chart, Darren Ford, Francisco Peguero and Mike McBryde. Crawford was drafted last June out of Univ. of Indiana where he batted over .300 each of his 3 years there along with 18, 18 and 27 SB's. Some things I like about Crawford: 1. He's a bit young for a 3 year college draftee(he'll play most of this year at age 21). 2. He has room to fill out his frame, so should project for more power. 3. He already has pretty good plate discipline. With Peguero ticketed for San Jose, look for Evan to start the year in Augusta as their starting CF.

College Corner: Loose Ends

One thing I always look for in college boxscores is double digit K's. Friday night, Dan Bibona of UC Irvine turned in a scintillating performance over Loyola Marymount: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K's. Bibona is a senior and has pitched well his entire college career, which tells you something right there. He was drafted by the Cardinals in the 16'th round, but chose to return to school for his senior year. He's smallish LHP, and reading between the lines of all that, he likely can dominate college hitters with deception, which may not play well in the pros. He would be an interesting later round pick in the next draft.

The top of the 2011 draft is shaping up as a real doozy with 3 sophomore Friday starters turning in dazzling performances:

Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas, 6-6, 195 lbs. 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K's.

Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA, 6'4", 220 lbs. 6 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 K's.

Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt, 5'11", 195 lbs. 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K's.

Sleeper alert: Saturday starter Matt Bywater, Jr. LHP, Pepperdine dominated #4 ranked Cal State Fullerton, 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K's! Wow! If Bywater is for real, that gives Pepperdine quite a 1-2 Friday-Saturday starting pitcher punch! Can't help but think of another Pepperdine lefty the Giants drafted, Noah Lowry as well as Clayton Tanner, who was going to Pepperdine until the Giants signed him out of HS.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #44: Ryan Verdugo

#44 Ryan Verdugo. LHP. BD: 04-10-1987. 6'0", 195 lbs.

2009 Stats: AZL Rookie- 0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 0 BB, 6 K's. Low A- 4-0, 1.39, 32.1 IP, 19 BB, 45 K's.

Drafted out of LSU in 2008, Verdugo had success in the Arizona League and Salem-Keizer his first pro season. Last year, he continued that success in Augusta. The BB/9 is a bit disconcerting but I like the K/9 even better than I dislike the BB/9. I would expect to see Ryan pitching long relief out of the bullpen in San Jose this year.

College Corner: Friday Night Starters

My favorite night of the week in college baseball is Friday. That's when the #1 starters almost always pitch and it produces some memorable performances. I remember when Tim Lincecum, Brandon Morrow, David Huff, Ian Kennedy and Greg Reynolds were all Pac 10 Juniors in the same season. Oh man, were there some great pitching duels that year!

College baseball opened last night. As always, I eagerly scanned the boxscores for great pitching performances. For a complete rundown of Friday Night Starters from last night, I recommend Andy Seiler's draft oriented blog

Deck McGuire of Georgia Tech was easily the star of the night with a 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K performance. McGuire is Baseball America's #3 preseason college draft prospect in the country.

The pitching duel of the night was turned in by Jake Thompson of Long Beach State winning 2-1 over Pepperdine and Cole Cook:

Thompson- 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K's. #67 BA college draft prospect. His stock seems to be rising, but does not have impressive K rates for a college pitcher.

Cook- 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. #39 BA college draft prospect.

One thing I like to do is scour the boxscores for players who might not necessarily be first round draft choices but might make good picks later in the draft. Since the Giants seem to specialize in "sleeper" pitchers drafted late, I try to guess which ones might be a fit. I think I might have found one in Villanova Senior RHP Brian Streilein. I noticed his pitching line from last night: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K's! and looked up his bio. He's a big fellow, 6'3" 222lbs. He's been inconsistent, but with good K rates up to this year. He is described as a power pitcher. The Giants love to draft big pitchers from lower profile programs and always seem to take a few players from the Northeast in the later rounds and they don't mind taking Seniors. Hmm.....seems like a perfect fit to me! I will be following Streilein as the season goes along.

I'll look at some hitters after the weekend to give a better sample size.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Dousing the Embers, Part 3

Here are some losers from the offseason:

1. LA Angels: Sorry, but Matsui, Piniero and Rodney don't make up for the losses of Figgy, Lackey and Vlad.

2. KC Royals: OK, all you disgruntled Giants fans out there. Just be thankful you aren't a Royals fan. Talk about a team with no plan and no direction, short or long term! Maybe it's just me, but adding Jason Kendall, Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik doesn't seem like what this team needed. The Cuban pitcher may work out though.

3. LA Dodgers: D.I.V.O.R.C.E spells big trouble for the Hated Ones. Teehee!!! Trading Juan Pierre may clear up their OF situation, but it doesn't make them a better team. Padilla and Belliard are in for major regressions. Nobody to replace Wolf. The Dodgers still have that great core of young homegrown players, but this is a team in decline.

4. OPS: UZR is the new OPS. Just ask Russell Branyan, Jonny Gomes, Johnny Damon and a host of other guys who can take a walk and hit HR's but look like statuary in the field.

Giants Top 50 Prospects #43: Chris Wilson

#43 Chris Wilson. RHP. BD: 11-27-1986. 6'2", 205 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- 5-5, 3.83, 51.2 IP, 8 BB, 67 K's, 9 Saves.

Again, I don't know anything about what kind of stuff Wilson has, but I like his numbers. Drafted out of JC ball in 2008 in round 38, he was having a rough season until he moved into the closer's role for Augusta in August last year. From there on he was lights out compiling 7 of his 9 saves while going 2-0, 0.81, 20.1 IP, 2 BB, 28 K's. Closers in the low minors don't tend to get very far in their pro careers, but Wilson's peripheral numbers look so good that I decided to rank him for now. I'm not sure he is in line to be the closer for San Jose. That would seem to be a logical place for Jason Stoffel to start the season, but getting in IP and polishing his game is more important than getting Saves at this level.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Dousing the Embers, Part 2

I thought I'd put up a few "winners" of the offseason:

1. Yankees: Traded for Javier Vasquez and Curtis Granderson, adding pitching, speed and defense. The rich just go richer, and by a lot!

2. Seattle Mariners: Added Chone Figgins, who fits perfectly into their scheme and ballpark while simultaneously weakening the division champs. Made 2 great trades for Cliff Lee and Brandon League. Watch out for Seattle in a division where the distance between the top and bottom just go a whole lot narrower.

3. Minnesota Twins: Orlando Hudson alone will make this team a whole lot better. If JJ Hardy bounces back at all, the Twins should run away with the AL Central.

4. UZR: Teams stocked up on fast, defensive OF's pretty much irrespective of projected offensive contribution. Oakland, in particular, will start 3 CF's in their OF. Boston went all out for D with Cameron and Beltre. Even the Yankees got on the bus replacing Johnny Damon with Curtis Granderson. Either Granderson or Brett Gardner are likely to start in LF, mostly for defensive considerations.

5. Matt Holliday: I think St Louis grossly overpaid, but that's just me.

College Corner: Ricky Oropesa

Partly because of an extension of my interest in baseball's free agent draft, I have developed in interest in College Baseball. Between now and the draft, I will be posting some draft previews and thoughts on who the Giants might/should draft, and I'll also be posting some college stuff just for interests sake. This year, there will be one college player I will follow with extra interest, Ricky Oropesa of the USC Trojans. You see, I work with Ricky's mom, have met Ricky and have his autographed AFLAC All American card. USC and Ricky will be playing their first game of the season tomorrow against Cal Poly SLO.

Ricky is a corner IF who graduated from Etiwanda HS here in the Inland Empire of Southern California. He was a tremendous hitter in HS and was drafted in the 24'th round by the Boston Red Sox, but chose to accept his scholarship to USC. He is 6'2", 215 lbs. B-L, T-R. Ricky had a fine freshman season working his way into the cleanup hitter role on a team that included MLB draftees Grant Green and Robert Stock. For the season Ricky batted .314/.385/.578 with 13 HR's. I will be rooting for Ricky tomorrow night and throughout the college season following his batting lines in the boxscores that can be found at

Giants Top 50 Prospects #42: Andy Reichard

#42 Andy Reichard. RHP. BD: 12-04-1984. 6'4", 235 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- 4-4, 2.30, 66.2 IP, 7 BB, 40 K's,GO/AO= 1.35.

Andy Reichard is old for his level, and I've never seen him pitch, but for some reason, I think he really looks good on paper. For starters, he has what I consider to be almost perfect size for a pitcher, tall and big. Part of it is how he has finished the last two seasons with a flourish just getting better and better as the season went along. Then there are the astonishingly low walk rates, the groundball tendencies. The Giants seem to like him too. Fred Stanley included him in his projected San Jose rotation for this year. Andy is definitely someone I'm going to want to see in person. He probably will be lucky to end up as a long reliever in the majors, but he's one of my personal favorites.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Dousing the Embers

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, it's time to start dousing the embers in the Hot Stoves. While there remain a startling number of unsigned free agents, including Johnny Damon, Felipe Lopez and, actually, enough to form a decent MLB roster! We'll start with the Giants:

Bruce Bochy is a man who likes options. I read someplace recently that he used 135 different lineups last year. Now, you would think that if he had enough flexibility in the roster to run 135 different lineups out there, that might be enough. Brian Sabean looked over the roster and apparently decided that 135 different lineups wasn't enough. Boch needed even more flexibility! The ultimately flexible roster would contain 25 players each capable of playing all 9 positions and hitting in any of the 9 spots in the lineup. How many different lineups could you field with such a roster? I was a math minor in college and took Probability and Statistics as an upper division course. It's been a long time, so I'm not sure I know the answer to this, but I'll give it a stab. Any math professors out there can correct me if I'm wrong. 1 player capable of playing all nine positions gives you 9 different lineups, one for each position. That same player can hit in any of 9 lineup spots, so you have 9X9= 81 possible position plus lineup combinations for that one player Adding a second player with the same attributes gives you 81X81 different lineup possibilities. Including all 25 players on the roster gives you 81 to the 25'th power different lineups. That is a very big number! Bochy would not be able to field every lineup iteration if he remained manager for 1000 years! The crazy part of all this is it's not too far off from what Sabean has put together this offseason. Here's the rundown:

Mark DeRosa: All 4 IF positions plus 2 corner OF spots= 6 positions.

Aubrey Huff: 1B, 3B, RF, LF? Maybe 4 positions?

Juan Uribe: All 4 IF positions.

Bengie Molina: Catcher only= 1 position.

Pablo Sandoval: 3B, 1B, C= 3 positions.

Edgar Renteria: SS, 3B, 2B?= 3 positions?

Freddy Sanchez: 2B, 3B= 2 positions.

Aaron Rowand: CF, LF= 2 positions.

Nate Schierholtz: RF, LF= 2 positions.

Buster Posey?: All 9 positions!

Eugenio Velez: 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF = 6 positions.

Andres Torres: 3 OF= 3 positions.

We assume the pitchers only pitch and only bat 9'th

That leaves us with a probability equation of 6X4X4X1X3X2X2X9X6X3= 186,624 possible different lineups that Bochy can choose from, and that doesn't even count the different lineup spots or the pitchers! Virtually all of these players could conceivably bat in any position 1-8 in the lineup except Molina who can only bat #4-8(sorry people, I'd be willing to bet that Bengie will bat 4'th at least once this season), which raises the the previous total by a power of about 8 to the 12'th power. I don't know if Bochy's head can get any bigger, but he might need to expand his hat size even further after figuring out all those lineup permutations!

Seriously, I like the moves the Giants made this offseason, mainly because they not only provide lineup flexibility for Bruce Bochy, but flexibility for the future promotion of the excellent prospects in their farm system. Not one prospect is being blocked by a veteran long term! As for this year, this roster can potentially score more runs than last year's, and the pitching should be just as strong or stronger if Sanchez takes the next step in his development.

Final grade: C+. The grade gets knocked down a notch or two for failing to land a "big bat"(not a criticism, I don't think there were any "big bats" realistically available) and for overpaying for an injured Sanchez, which might have prevented signing a better 5'th starter option.

What is your grade?

P.S. I'm going to upgrade the Giants to a B for the way they handled the Tim LIncecum arbitration negotiations. Keeping his cost under control while apparently also keeping him happy was no easy task and they absolutely nailed it.

Giants Top 50 Prospects #41: Aaron King

#41 Aaron King. LHP. BD: 04-27-1989. 6'4", 205 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- 7-6, 3.70, 104.2 IP, 52 BB, 88 K's, GO/AO= 0.84.

King is another big LHP except he's relatively young and unpolished. He has somewhat of an unorthodox windup and delivery that is high effort( in one video I saw he raises his back foot all the way up to his tiptoes at the start of his delivery). He had a good season for Augusta, especially in the second half with a 4-1 record and a 2.75 ERA over his last 10 games. While his K/9 improved to 9 over that stretch, his BB/9 actually got worse to 4.95. I have seen mention of a fastball hitting 95 MPH, but I've also read that he sits in the high 80's. Aaron is a tough kid to rank. I ended up lumping him with the "field" prospects and putting him in the low A tier. It will be very interesting to see his progress. I would say his ceiling is Jonathan Sanchez, which I think we would all be very happy with.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #40: Charlie Culberson

#40 Charlie Culberson. 2B. B-R, T-R. BD: 04-10-1989. 6'1", 185 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- .246/.303/.306, 15 SB, 4 CS, 40 errors(at 3B).

Charlie Culberson, like Wendell Fairley is going to have to show some progress soon. The Giants took him higher in the 2007 draft than his ranking on most draft boards, but they really liked him as a prospect. Unfortunately, he's really struggled so far. The Giants haven't given up on him and are planning on promoting him to high A San Jose. They apparently have given up on him playing the left side of the infield and have penciled him in as the starter at 2B. 2B is not necessarily an easier row to hoe as he has Nick Noonan in front of him and Carlos Willoughby and Julio Izturis coming up from behind. 2010 will be an extremely important year for Charlie.

Blast From the Past: Me and the Screwball

The first time I ever heard of a pitch called the screwball, I was listening to a game on the radio between the Giants and the Houston Astros. The Astros pitcher that day was a smallish Cuban pitcher named Mike Cuellar. From the way Russ and Lon were describing the game, Cuellar didn't throw very hard, but he was giving the Giants' hitters fits with a pitch called the screwball. I had never heard of such a pitch and my imagination ran wild as to just what the ball did between leaving the pitcher's hand and home plate, and just how you would throw such a pitch anyway. Although Russ and Lon didn't explain exactly what it was, I picked up that the pitch was slow and was tailing away from righthanded batters, and the Giants hitters were foolishly trying to pull everything resulting in either strikeouts or harmless ground outs. Cuellar, of course, would be later traded to the Baltimore Orioles, for Curt Blefary, where he would blossom into a perennial 20 game winner as part of a legendary Orioles starting rotation and would win a Cy Young award, largely because of that pitch, the screwball. Wow, I thought! Why don't the Giants have pitchers who throw this great pitch? As I later learned, not only did the Giants have screwball pitchers, Giants pitchers had played a central role in the history of the pitch.

I tried to read everything I could get my hands on about the screwball. I learned that it is basically a reverse curveball thrown by snapping the wrist down and in rather than down and out at the point of release of the pitch. It breaks very similarly to the curveball, but in the opposite direction. Thrown by a lefthanded pitcher, it breaks away from a righthanded batter and vice-versa. Back in those days, before the development of the circle change, it was about the only pitch that broke away from opposite-handed batters, and so was a great weapon, especially for lefthanded pitchers who had to face more righthanded batters than righthanded pitchers had to face lefthanded batters, but there were still some RHP's who used it, including Juan Marichal.

In the summer, I used to set up a radio on our back porch and point it out toward our lawn to listen to day games, which were more numerous back in those days. I had a pitchback and would pretend to be the pitcher. I would try to throw the pitches that Russ and Lon were describing. I was interested in science and math, and I would read up on the various pitches and try to understand the mechanics of throwing them and how that would produce the movement on the pitch. I tried to throw screwballs, but could never see the break on it when throwing a baseball. I think it was because I just couldn't generate enough velocity to produce enough air resistance to make the ball change direction. What was really fun was to try it with a wiffleball where the movements are exaggerated. Then I could really see how pitching mechanics translated into ball movement.

Somewhere around this time, I read a biography of the great Giants pitcher, Christy Mathewson. Undoubtedly there were pitchers before Mathewson who used the "screwgie", but he is really the guy who put it on the baseball map. Mathewson had attended college at a time when the vast majority of ballplayers had no education at all. Whether his educational advantage had anything to do with his understanding and use of the screwball, I don't know, but Mathewson baffled National League hitters for over 15 years on his way to 373 wins in his career.

Carl Hubbell was star pitcher the Giants in the 1930's. Hubbell was more of a classic screwball pitcher, a small lefthander who probably didn't have the biggest fastball in the world. Hubbell threw the pitch so much that his elbow became permanently deformed from the unnatural stresses. Hubbell rode it to a career ERA of 2.98 with 253 wins between 1928 and 1943, all with the New York Giants. In one All-Star game, he famously struck out a 7 batters in a row from a "murderers row" AL lineup that included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and several other legendary hitters.

Juan Marichal threw the pitch, but did not rely on it the way a lefty like Cuellar or Hubbell did, It was just part of Juan's seemingly endless arsenal of pitches. I remember he used to bring it out as a strikeout pitch against tough lefthanded batters.

1967 was a down year for Juan Marichal. The whole season might have been a complete disaster were it not for the return of a Giants lefthander named Mike McCormick. McCormick had been somewhat successful as a conventional lefthanded pltcher with the Giants and then traded away. He was on the verge of pitching his way out of baseball when he added a screwball to his repertoire just in time to come back to the Giants for the 1967 season. Using the pitch to great effect against righthanded batters, Mike won 22 games and the NL Cy Young Award that year. Carl Hubbell, who by that time was the Giants farm system director was beaming with pride, and delighted in pointing out the role the screwball played in McCormick's success. Unfortunately, that success was short lived and Mike was soon out of baseball.

The last pitchers I recall throwing the "screwgie" were Mike Marshall and Fernando Valenzuela of the hated Dodgers. The thing that was different about them is that they seemed to throw the pitch with equal effectiveness against both right and left handed batters. The development of the circle change provided an offspeed pitch that moved away from opposite handed batters and was easier to throw, control and less stressful on the arm.

I don't know of any current MLB pitcher that throws the "screwgie." I know I am always on the lookout for it, and haven't seen one in years. Dallas Braden of the A's threw one in the minor leagues, but I believe he has since scrapped it. One reason I was hoping the Giants would sign Japanese pitcher Hisanori Takahashi is that he features a screwball in his repertoire. Alas, if he uses it in the major leagues, it will be with the Mets.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #39: Wendell Fairley

#39 Wendell Fairley. OF. B-L, T-R. BD: 03/17/1988. 6'2", 195 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- .243/.323/.333.

Don't ask my why I put Wendell Fairley at #39. I could have just as easily put him #50. I do think it's too early to write him off. Aside from a pretty good IsoOBP, that's a pretty ugly line from Augusta, but there may be some mitigating factors: 1. I wouldn't totally write off any toolsy player with that kind of plate discipline, although it's not clear the Giants organization particularly values it. 2. Augusta is a pretty tough place to hit HR's in. 3. The Sally League is generally a pretty good league for pitchers. Fred Lewis hit .250 there once upon a time. Thomas Neal hit in the .270's. Pablo Sandoval was darn near left for dead after his season there. Fairley is penciled in as the starting LF for San Jose this year. Although it's too early to write him off, this is a very important year for him. BTW, his mug on his player page reminds me of Jeffrey Leonard and his Penitentiary Face. Dude looks like he might have a chip on his shoulder!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hot Stove Update: LOL Scott Boras!

Here's a note from quoting Jayson Stark: "Disgruntled because he's still without a job this late in the offseason, Felipe Lopez fired agent Scott Boras according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. He's now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council."

LOL! If you are Matt Holliday or CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira, Scott Boras is a pretty good agent to have, but I guess if you are Felipe Lopez or Johnny Damon you get thrown under the bus. Wouldn't that be something if Johnny Damon followed suit?

Giants Top 50 Prospects #38: Josh Mazzola

#38 Josh Mazzola. 1B. B-R, T-R. BD: 04-10-1986. 6'2", 195 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- .284/.347/.455, 16 HR's, 30 Doubles.

Josh was signed as an undrafted FA in 2008. He's old for his level from an age standpoint, but on schedule with experience. Josh raked to a .324/.394/.547 line in Arizona Rookie League after signing, so moving up to Low A was a pretty big jump. He put up numbers very comparable to Thomas Neal's there and better than Brett Pill. Unlike Neal, his age does not give him much projectability so he's going to have to do it at higher levels with the tools/skills he has. The move from 3B to 1B doesn't bode well for his future either, although first base has not been as easy for the Giants to fill as it is for most teams. Josh should be the first baseman for San Jose in 2010, and intriguing to watch.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fantasy Impact: Outfield

On the surface, it might seem like there is an abundance of outfielders for fantasy teams to choose from, and there are a lot. You have to remember, though, that while other positions are just one per team, there are 3 OF slots to fill per team. Once you get beyond about 10 teams/league, it can get very dicey trying to fill that last OF position with someone who won't hurt you. Rather than list the top 50 or so OF's here, I'm going to talk about some of the things you look for in your evaluations.

There are certain benchmarks I look for in in each of the offensive categories that make that player a plus in each given category:

BA- .300
Runs- 90
HR- 20
RBI's- 90
SB's- 20

20 HR/20 SB or 20/20 seems to be the holy grail in a lot of fantasy websites and magazines. I prefer to start with BA and work from that, the reason being that BA is the only Average Stat as opposed to a Counting Stat. One low BA can drag down your entire team in that category while a player who hits 0 HR's but steals 40 bases doesn't hurt lower the HR totals of your other players. Of course, the ideal OF would be one who gives you plus production at all 5 categories. Let's see if any such players exist: I found just one, Ryan Braun- .320/113/32/114/20.

There were just 3 others who were very close:

Shin-Soo Choo- .300/87/20/86/20
Justin Upton- .300/84/26/86/20
Matt Kemp- .297/97/26/101/34

What if you lower your benchmarks to .280/80/15/80/15? You only get one additional player:

Bobby Abreu- .293/96/18/103/30

What about .270/70/10/70/10?

Torii Hunter- .299/74/22/90/18
Matt Holliday- .313/94/24/109/14
Franklin Gutierrez- .283/85/18/70/16
Johnny Damon- .282/107/18/70/12
Hunter Pence- .282/76/25/72/14
Adam Jones- .277/83/19/70/10

So if you stretch it, there are just 11 OF's who will help you in all 5 categories, or at least not hurt you. Beyond that, you have to start mixing and matching categories. For instance, you might want to try for a couple of 4 category OF's at .270/80/20/80 threshold and ignore SB's then grab a pure speed guy for the 3'rd OF slot. Let's see what we can find here among players not previously named:

Brad Hawpe- .285/82/23/86
Michael Cuddyer-.276/93/32/94
Andre Ethier- .272/92/31/106
Raul Ibanez- .272/93/34/93

If you are willing to go down the a .260 BA, you can pick up:

Jayson Werth- .268/98/36/99
Jason Bay- .267/103/36/119
Adam Dunn- .267/81/38/105

But now you are really getting into 3 category players, which leave us with just 18 guys you really want on your team so far. Now let's add in a few SB studs. Again, you don't want to hurt yourself too much in BA, so let's set just two benchmarks at .270 and 20 SB's to add to our list above:

Ichiro- .352/88/11/46/26
Denard Span- .311/97/8/68/23
Juan Pierre- .308/57/0/31/30 in 380 AB's. He should do better in the counting stats with 500+ AB's with CWS.
Nyjer Morgan- .307/74/3/39/42 in 469 AB's.
Carl Crawford- .305/96/15/68/60.
Rajai Davis- .305/65/3/48/41 in 390 AB's. If he keeps performing well, he should get 500+ AB's this year, or he could have a severe regression.
Scott Podsednik- .304/75/7/48/30
Jacoby Ellsbury- .301/94/8/60/70
Shane Victorino- .292/102/10/62/25
Andrew McCutchen- .286/74/12/54/22 in 433 AB's. Breakout alert!
Michael Bourn- .285/97/3/35/61 Regression alert!
Brett Gardner- .270/48/3/23/26 in 248 AB's. Will he get more AB's this year?

This adds another 12 players who can help you with steals but several of these had spotty playing time and really don't help you in the power categories and we're still just now getting to 30 OF's who you might really want on your team for one reason or another. Let's add in a few miscellaneous 3 category power guys:

Nick Markakis- .293/94/18/101/6 A fairly unique player who is helped by playing every day and by hitting a ton of doubles.
Carlos Lee- .300/65/26/102/5 A steady source of BA, HR, RBI's. May be starting on the dowward slope of his career trajectory.
Juan Rivera- .287/72/25/88/0. Good power source if he can stay healthy.
JD Drew- .279/84/24/68/2 in 452 AB's. Health is a big issue here. It's been so long since he played a full season, you have to project DL time.
Cody Ross- .270/73/24/90/5

That gets us to 35 OF's who you might really want on your team. Add in a few comeback candidates like Beltran, Manny, Grady Sizemore and you have enough to fill up a 10 team league, but even a 12 team league starts getting very thin at the end of the draft.

Take home messages:

1. Don't wait too long to draft OF's.
2. Look for a breakout or comeback candidate or two later in the draft to fill your 3'rd OF position.
3. Watch the waiver wire closely once the season starts.

Hot Stove Update: Timmy Signs!

That giant sucking sound you heard earlier to day was Giants fans everywhere taking a deep breath and a sigh of relief at the news of Tim Lincecum and the Giants avoiding the dreaded arbitration hearing. The best part is we don't have to wonder about next offseason. Ideally, it would have been a 3 year contract so the Giants would have him locked up until 1 year left before FA when they could better judge whether to commit to the type of enormous long term contract it will probably take to keep Timmy for the majority of his career but the deal the Giants got was not bad, not bad at all.

While this agreement is win-win for both sides, it was clearly a much bigger win for the Giants management who proved to be extremely shrewd negotiators in this process. I tend to see Bill Neukom's fingerprints all over this one. He wasn't a corporate attorney for in Silicon Valley for nothing, he wasn't!

Let's take a look at how this played out. The contract is for 2 years for a total of $23 M, $8 M for 2010, $13 M for 2011 with a $2 M bonus over the 2 years.

The Giants offer for 1 year was $8 M. Clear win for the Giants.

Assuming the Giants won their case and the arbitrator ruled for the $8 M, if Tim pitched up to the standards of his last two seasons, he would be in line for at least a $5 M raise for 2011 to $13 M. If Tim were to have won his case, he might well be in line for at least the same raise next year to $18 M. Again, tacking on the second year at $13 M protects the Giants at least as much as it protects Tim. The only way it's a negative for the Giants is if he blows out his arm or suffers a severe regression in performance for some other reason. Clear win for the Giants.

The $2 M bonus is a small concession by the Giants, but even there, they were able to spread it out over the two years.

In summary, the Giants were able to lock in their best case scenario for both this year and next year, barring injury.

Tim ended up with a 1 year insurance policy and a $2 M bonus.

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of this is why, if they were going to essentially capitulate, Tim's camp didn't take the 3 year $37 M offer which would have guaranteed him $14 M more. As it stands, they passed up the extra $14 M for a chance to eek out a possible extra $3 or 4 M while risking it all to a possible future injury. Giants management is likely breathing a big sigh of relief that Timmy didn't take the 3 year offer!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #37: Ari Ronick

#37 Ari Ronick. LHP. BD: 05-25-1986. 6'5", 205 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A: 7-6, 2.65, 136 IP, 34 BB, 114 K's.

Yet another big lefthander drafted out of college. Ronick had a lower ERA for Augusta than Eric Surkamp, but not nearly as impressive a K/9 which is probably a better predictor of success at higher levels than ERA. Intriguing that Ronick go promote to Connecticut for the AA playoffs and pitched 5.2 innings of shutout ball against the New Britain Rock Cats in the first round. I expect him to be assigned to San Jose along with Surkamp, but the Giants have a history of being aggressive with certain pitchers and I wouldn't be shocked to see either Surkamp or Ronick in AA Richmond to start the season.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #36: Eric Surkamp

#36 Eric Surkamp. LHP. BD: 07-16-1987. 6'4", 190lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- 11-5, 3.30, 131 IP, 39 BB's, 169 K's.

A lot of Giants prospect watchers would probably rank Eric Surkamp higher than this given his size, his great K/9 and the fact that he was not particularly old for low A ball. I really don't have a rebuttal for that idea. Still, he was a 3 year college draftee and you expect college draftees, especially from a major program like NC State to dominate low A ball. I don't know too much about Surkamp's stuff, but it sure seems to miss bats, doesn't it? For now, I'm going to lump him in with the other "polished" lefthanders in the lower minors, but he could rocket into the top 20, if not higher, with another great season at San Jose, which is where I expect him to pitch in 2010.

Hot Stove Update: Odds and Ends

I'm down with the Wellemeyer signing. He was a very valuable innings eater in 2008 and battled some injuries last year. He's certainly worth a minor league contract. I assume he is #1 on the depth chart for #5 starter. I never once believed that the Giants would go to Spring Training with Bumgarner as the only option for #5. IMO, it would be a huge mistake to push Bum into the rotation this soon.

If anyone wants further proof of the impact defensive metrics like UZR, and overall value ratings like WAR have had on the game, just look at the FA's who are still out there starting to beg for work, Johnny Damon, Russell Branyan, Hank Blalock, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye. Mike Jacobs and Jonny Gomes signed minor league deals. What do all these players have in common? They are all good to very good hitters and all have very bad UZR scores, which suppress their WAR's. No way players like this would still be begging for jobs just 2 or 3 years ago. Meanwhile a good fielder with no stick, Endy Chavez, looks like he's going to have his choice of as many as 5 teams, and he's coming off a leg injury!

My wife is from Sioux Falls, SD and really likes the Minnesota Twins, so I guess you could say the Twins are my second favorite team. I'm absolutely loving the ODog signing. What a huge upgrade he is over Nick Punto and a great price! I have to say, this signing, and the fact that Felipe Lopez is still on the market is making the Freddy Sanchez deal look worse and worse. I don't know about you, but I would rather have ODog than Sanchez at the same price, let alone a fraction of the cost, and that's with Sanchez fully healthy! I might say the same for Lopez too.

I don't expect Yorvit Torrealba to have anywhere near the season he had for Colorado last year. It's not just power that Petco suppresses and Coors enhances. Sinkers sink and breaking balls break in that sea level air!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

GiantsTop 50 Prospects #35: Kyle Nicholson

#35 Kyle Nicholson. RHP. BD: 07-31-1985. 6'0", 205 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- 7-8, 2.80, 122.1 IP, 22 BB, 83 K's, GO/AO- 2.29. High A- 4-0, 2.93, 40 IP, 11 BB, 30 K's, GO/AO= 1.96.

We interrupt the run of polished LHP's to bring you a polished RHP. Kyle Nicholson was an ace pitcher for Texas A&M who underwent TJ surgery late in his college career. The Giants drafted him in round 7 in 2007. He didn't start his pro career until the following June in what was essentially a rehab assignment in Arizona Rookie League. He went 6-1 with a 1.15 ERA. Last year he continued to get excellent results with excellent control and an extreme ability to induce ground balls. I see him starting 2010 in San Jose but could probably be pushed to AA. He will go as far as his sinker will take him. Best case comp, Derek Lowe.

Monday, February 8, 2010

GiantsTop 50 Prospects #34: Paul Oseguera

#34 Paul Oseguera. LHP. BD: 01-06-1984. 6'0", 190 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- 1-1. 1.89, 19 IP, 5 BB, 25 K's. High A- 7-7, 3.77, 105 IP, 97 K's, 21 BB. GO/AO= 1.48.

We're into a run on polished LHP's here. Not sure why Oseguera got bumped down to A ball after pitching in AA in 2008 instead of simply repeating AA. I think he battled some sort of injury and the Giants have a pattern of bringing an injured pitcher back at a lower level the following year. Over the last 3 games of 2009, Paul O may have been the best pitcher in the Giants minor league system. Here are the lines from those games: 8/27- 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 15 K's! 9/2- 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K's. 9/7- 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. I saw the second of those games in San Bernardino. He was in complete command with what looked like a high 80's fastball with some sink, a curveball with great vertical depth, and a changeup that kept hitters off balance, but was not overused. I'm pretty sure he could have pitched a good game at the MLB level that night. He's a little old for a prospect, but I can easily see him as a #4 or #5 starter at the MLB level. I expect he will begin 2010 in AA Richmond.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

GiantsTop 50 Prospects #33: Craig Clark

#33 Craig Clark. LHP. BD: 07-09-1984. 6'2", 200 lbs.

2009 Stats: High A- 16-2, 2.86, 147.2 IP, 36 BB, 135 K's, GO/AO= 0.89.

Craig Clark had a phenomenal season for San Jose last year. So, why is he ranked this low in my prospect rankings? Look at his birthdate. Clark is a classic "polished" college draftee pitcher who can dominate at the lower levels, but hits a wall at some point at higher levels because the competition gets better, but he doesn't. Now, maybe Clark is the exception, his lefthandedness certainly works in his favor, but he's going to have to prove it each step along the way. The closest comp I can see from just looking at his stats since being drafted is Pat Misch. Pat Misch did pitch very well for the Mets at the end of last season. I would project Craig Clark to be a starter for AA Richmond to begin the 2010 season.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

GiantsTop 50 Prospects #32: Mike McBryde

#32 Mike McBryde. OF. B-R, T-R. BD: 03-22-1985. 6'1", 215.

2009 Stats: AA- .308/.347/.434, 5 HR's, 16 SB's, 10 CS. AAA- .224/.250/.276, 6 SB's, 2 CS in 58 AB's.

You could make a case that Mike McBryde should be ranked ahead of Darren Ford and possibly ahead of Francisco Peguero as the Giants CF of the future. McBryde is probably the best defensive OF in the Giants organization. At one time, he was considered the fastest player in the organization(I believe Darren Ford has overtaken him to claim that distinction). He has a rocket launcher for a right arm. He played well at AA which is generally considered to be the toughest stop for hitters in the organization. Unfortunately for Mike, when the Giants were given a choice of eligible OF's to protect from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40 man roster, they chose Peguero and Ford while Mike was the odd man out. That not only tells you who the Giants more didn't want to lose, but who they were more afraid other teams would take. Still, McBryde is the type of player who could stand to benefit greatly from the trend in baseball to rely on advanced defensive metrics such as UZR. The A's went out of their way to make sure that all 3 OF positions will be manned by players who can play CF and play it well. If that type of thinking proves to be successful on the field, it essentially doubles or even triples a guy like Mike McBryde's chances of eventually landing a MLB roster spot. Out of McBryde, Ford and Peguero, who do you think is most likely to be the Giants CF of the future?

Fantasy Impact: Shortstop

Although there are several top shelf offensive shortstops in baseball, the position is almost as thin as catcher with a steep dropoff in offensive production, or fairly big question marks once you get past the top 3 or 4. This means that you probably should be looking to take a top tier shortstop in the first 2-3 rounds of the draft. If you miss, though, you might as well wait until the final rounds and use your middle rounds to stock up on better pitchers. Because of the offensive weakness of the position, it's also a good position to try to add some SB's to your mix, since you might not be sacrificing that much in the power categories. Here's my rankings:

1. Hanley Ramirez- a first rounder even if he didn't play SS. As is, he's a top 3 overall on most draft boards.

2. Troy Tulowitzki- Forget about his sophomore slump in 2008. This kid is on his way. Elite power. Plays in a favorable ballpark. Even adds some speed with 20 SB's last year. Take this guy early!

3. Derek Jeter- One of these seasons, Jeter is going to start to slide due to age, but still well worth the risk.

4. Jimmy Rollins- 2009 was another down year, and he still was a 20-30 player. Probably not a top 3 round candidate, but worth spending an upper-mid round pick on.

5. Jose Reyes- Given the weakness of the position, he's probably worth a risk, but injuries are still a major concern here. Would probably be ranked #2 if not for the injuries so some owners will probably take that risk early.

6. Jason Bartlett- I tend to believe his breakout in 2009 was real. That's probably his ceiling though.

7. Yunel Escobar- on the upswing of his career trajectory. Has 20+ HR potential to go with a .300+ BA.

8. Elvis Andrus- Should help you SB totals considerably if nothing else. Has more offensive upside in the other categories too.

9. Stephen Drew- Disappointing last year. Still put up respectable numbers for a SS. Still has the possibility of a big breakout.

10. Everth Cabrera- Could steal you 40+ bases, or be a complete bust. Probably worth the risk if you are taking the 10'th shortstop off the board.

11. Ryan Theriot- Vastly underrated even in fantasy circles. Did you know he stole 21 bases and scored 84 runs last year?

12. Alexei Ramirez- I'm not as high on him as some, but he certainly has 20-20 potential.

13. Marco Scuturo- Should benefit from moving to Boston's lineup, but his fantastic start last year was probably a fluke.

14. Cliff Pennington- Sleeper alert! Watch out for this guy! Should have the starting SS position to himself in Oakland this year.

15. JJ Hardy- Bounceback candidate, but I'm very leery of players with history of back problems.

16. Alcides Escobar- With JJ Hardy gone, Escobar will have SS to himself in Milwaukee. Hit .300 in a small sample last year, but will probably not contribute much offensively his first full season.

Friday, February 5, 2010

GiantsTop 50 Prospects #31: Dan Turpen

#31 Dan Turpen. RHP. BD: 08-17-1986. 6'4", 230 lbs.

2009 Stats: High A- 4-2, 1.24, 65.1 IP, 22 BB, 55 K's, GO/AO= 1.39, 7 Saves. AAA- 0-0, 0.00, 2.1 IP, 2 BB, 1 K. AFL- 1-0, 3.94, 16 IP, 8 BB, 13 K's.

Turpen was drafted in 2007 in round 8 out of Oregon State where he was a teammate of Joe Paterson. He was a solid contributor out of the bullpen for San Jose last year including some closer duties. The Giants sent him to the Arizona Fall League giving some indication that they see him as a potential MLB pitcher. I expect him to begin the 2010 season in AA or AAA. His ceiling is probably middle reliever at the MLB level.

Giants Draft Review: 2000-2002

I started my Draft Reviews with the year 2003 because that's how far back BA's Draft Databases go. A reader pointed me to the the draft lists on the that go back to 2000. I will simply list the players and their draft position from each season 2000-2002 who played on a MLB roster:


Round 1: Boof Bonser, RHP.
Round 2: Lance Niekro, 3B.
Round 22: Jason Ellison, OF.
Round 28: Alex Hinshaw, LHP. (Alex was not signed this year. The Giants drafted him a total of 3 times before he finally signed).
Round 31: Brian Burres, LHP.


1. Brad Hennessey, RHP.
2. Noah Lowry, LHP.
3. Todd Linden, OF.
4. Jesse Foppert, RHP.
8. Jason Waddell, LHP.
17. Steve Holm, C.
47. Scott Munter, RHP.


1. Matt Cain, RHP.
2. Fred Lewis, OF.
3. Dan Ortmeier, OF.
4. Kevin Correia, RHP.
8. Clay Hensley, RHP.
21. Travis Ishkawa, 1B.
29. Alex Hinshaw, LHP. (again, not signed this year).
31. Matt Palmer, RHP.

Grades? I guess I'd give 2000 a D, 2001 a C+, and 2002 a B+.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #30: Brock Bond

#30 Brock Bond. 2B. B-S, T-R. BD: 09-11-1985. 5'10", 195 lbs.

2009 Stats: AA- .333/.429/.409, 1 HR, 5 triples, 21 doubles, 13 SB, 15 CS.

Brock Bond was drafted in round 24 of the 2007 draft, by mistake! If it seemed to be more than a coincidence that Brock Bond and Casey Bond were drafted in consecutive rounds that year, it was. The Giants intended to take Casey Bond at #24 and mistakenly picked Brock. Casey was still on the board in round 25 so the Giants took him. Casey is out of the organization, and Brock is coming off an impressive showing in AA ball. For fans starved for a player who can get on base, that .429 OBP looks mighty appealing. That's coming on the heals of a .398 combined OBP in 2008 with Augusta and San Jose. Despite the great OBP, Brock has some hurdles to overcome before takes over at 2B from Freddy Sanchez in 2012. 1. He reportedly has a very weak throwing arm, possibly not even good enough for 2B at the MLB level. 2. He has virtually no power. Not only does he not hit HR's, but 21 doubles is not very many for 450 AB's. 3. That SB% is downright ugly. He should not be running at all in the minors, let alone in a possible future in the majors. On the other hand, one can think of Brock Bond as a switch-hitting version of David Eckstein, who can be a very tough out at the top of a lineup. Players like Bond are not going to make many top prospect lists, but occasionally one will stick and hang on for a long and respectable MLB career. Lord knows the Giants could use a guy who gets on base like that, regardless of their power or speed.

Hot Stove Update: Timmy vs Giants

There's something about the possibility of setting a new record, any record, that gets people's juices flowing. Tim Lincecum's arbitration hearing is still at least a week away, and already the blogosphere is spinning into orbit over it. Perhaps the most salient example of this is Andy Baggerly's recent blogpost theorizing that the Giants strategy is tied into their turf battle with the Oakland A's in San Jose. You can count on the hyperbole building to a frenzied crescendo as the date approaches.

Giants fans' anxiety seems to revolve around a couple of fears:

1. TImmy is going to be too expensive to keep long term.

2. The arbitration process itself may damage their longterm relationship with Timmy and make him not want to stay with the team.

3. The Giants offer is lowball and just one more miscalculation by an incompetent management team.

While the prospect of a record setting arbitration award is certainly exciting and entertaining, the actual consequences may not be as profound as the hype would make it seem. Here are some of my thoughts on the process, in no particular order:

1. I believe this case will be decided by the arbitrator rather than by a pre-hearing compromise because both sides think they can win. Timmy obviously has a strong case based on performance. The Giants have a much stronger case than it would appear on the surface because of arbitration precedence.

2. Timmy will play for the Giants in 2010 no matter which way the arbitrator rules. Whether he is paid $8 M or $13 M, if he pitches as well as he did that last two years, he will be a bargain.

3. Timmy is not eligible for free agency for 4 more seasons, so there is no urgency to signing him to a long term contract. The only potential benefit for the Giants to sign him long term is if they could buy the first year or two of free agency at a discount in return for the safety of a long term contract. Timmy's camp has signals that they are not inclined to agree to that. Even if the Giants could pry a small hometown discount out of Timmy, they might still not want a longterm deal just yet. The main reason why teams offer more than a 3 year contract to any pitcher is not that they are afraid of losing them after 3 years, but that they won't be able to sign them at all without the longer contract. The Giants are already assured of having Timmy for more than 3 years if they still want him.

4. The Giants can win this thing, and they can do it without "going negative." The Giants will not win, and will probably not try to win by arguing against Tim's performance. Tim's case, from a performance standpoint is overwhelming. The Giants will focus their case on arbitration precedent.

a. The previous record award is $10 M given to an MVP.

b. Star hitters generally command higher salaries than star pitchers.

c. Average salaries are down over the last two years due to the economy.

Since the Giants offer is $1 M closer to the prior record than Tim's request, and since arbitrators in recent years have tended to side with management, the Giants have at least an even chance of winning.

No matter who wins, Timmy will pitch for the Giants in 2010, likely at a bargain price. No matter the outcome, Timmy will likely pitch for the Giants for the next 4 years. No bridges will be burned.

It is way too soon for the Giants to sign Timmy to the type of long term deal it will take to get him to agree. Injuries and other causes of decreased performance are a constant threat to pitchers. The Giants have 3 more seasons to see if Tim remains healthy and sustains his phenomenal performance. The time to go for a long term deal, if they want one, is the offseason prior to his walk year. They will know more about whether current prospects like Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner are stars in their own right. They will be in a better position to know whether they need to risk a 6 or 7 year contract on Timmy or if they might be better off to do a Billy Beane style star for prospects trade.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #29: Joe Paterson

#29 Joe Paterson. LHP. BD: 05-19-1986. 6'1", 210 lbs.

2009 Stats: AA- 5-6, 1.96, 69 IP, 24 BB, 69 K's.

Joe Paterson is a lefty reliever drafted out of Oregon State in 2007. He has pitched well at every stop so far while maintaining K/9's of at least 9. Lefties who miss bats like that have a high probability of a MLB career at least as a LOOGY in the bullpen. I expect Paterson to open the season in AAA Fresno. He should be #4 on the lefthanded reliever depth chart behind Affeldt, Runzler, and Hinshaw, and I'm not sure about Hinshaw. It seems Alex might getting close to using up his chances.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #28: Kevin Pucetas

#28 Kevin Pucetas. RHP. BD: 11-27-1984. 6'4", 225 lbs.

2009 Stats: AAA- 10-6, 5.04, 159 IP, 50 BB, 96 K's.

Pucetas was sailing along in AAA with an ERA a little over 3 until August when he hit a wall and ran up a 10.38 ERA. His results got progressively worse with each start and he was shelled for 9 ER in 1.2 IP and 7 ER in 0.2 IP in the last two games respectively to balloon his final ERA. When pitchers suddenly hit a wall like that, it is usually due to injury, fatigue or pitch-tipping in that order. I have read no reports of injury, which doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't injured. He did pitch about 35 innings more in 2009 than in 2008 but only about 15 more than in 2007, so the workload was not excessive. I'm not sure pitch-tipping would cause that severe of a meltdown, but for a pitcher like Pucetas, who relies on pitching savvy, it could be devastating if the batters knew what was coming. Pucetas will most likely start the season back in Fresno. It will be interesting to see if his late season struggles were just that or the beginning of the end of he pro career.

Giants Top 50 Prospects #27: Steve Edlefsen

#27 Steve Edlefsen. RHP. BD: 06-27-1985. 6'2", 180 lbs.

2009 Stats: High A- 1-1, 0.96, 28 IP, 13 BB, 40 K's. GO/AO= 1.80. AA- 2-0, 3.18, 11.1 IP, 8 BB, 8 K's, GO/AO= 2.57. AAA- 5-0, 2.40, 30 IP, 16 BB, 24 K's, GO/AO= 2.00. AFL- 3-0, 2.08, 13 IP, 9 BB, 11 K's, GO/AO= 2.50.

Steve Edlefsen has a funky, no-windup, sidearm delivery, yet is able to generate high-80's to low-90's velocity. At one point he was named by BA as having the best slider in the organization. That combination allows him to be an extreme groundball pitcher. He walks a few too many, but for a GB pitcher, gets decent K rates. He should be in the mix for a MLB bullpen job this spring with his most likely destination AAA Fresno, where he would have a high probability of being called up during the season. His ceiling is almost certainly 7'th inning/righthanded specialist/middle relief. His extreme GB tendencies could make him very valuable in those roles.

Hot Stove Update: Trader Billy

A's trade Aaron Miles and a PTBNL to Cincinnati for Willy Tavaras and Adam Rosales.

Once upon a time there was a TV show called Twin Peaks. It was a murder mystery set in the Pacific Northwest with beautiful scenery and a large cast of interesting, quirky characters. My wife and I watched the first show and were hooked. It was the most interesting thing on TV at the time, by a pretty good margin. In subsequent shows, the plot seemed to thicken with added layers and interweavings of intrigue. As time went on, however, we started to get the feeling that the show wasn't really going anywhere, that there was no plot and no resolution. The writers were making it up as they went along with no end in sight.

That's the same feeling I've had with Billy Beane for awhile now. Yesterday's machinations did nothing to help me shake that feeling. At first, I thought Billy was just indulging his newfound love for collecting CF's, but then he immediately DFA'd Tavaras leaving him with Adam Rosales, a too old 3B prospect who has put up pretty good minor league stats, but was a complete failure in a MLB trial with Cincy last year. Why Billy thought he had to get Rosales after acquiring Kevin Kouzmanoff earlier in the offseason will remain a mystery for now.

Taken as a whole, starting with the Dan Haren and Joe Blanton trades, Billy now basically has Brett Anderson, Michael Taylor and Chris Carter to show for it. While not a terrible return, it's certainly not a lock that he wouldn't have been better off just signing those two to long term contracts and building the team around them. At this point, Billy seems to be spinning his wheels and making trades just to make trades.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Giants Top 50 Prospects #26: Johnny Monell

#26 Johnny Monell. Catcher. B-L, T-R. BD: 03-27-1986. 5'11", 205 lbs.

2009 Stats: Low A- .273/.355/.427, 8 HR's. PWL- .250/.325/.444 in 36 AB's.

Johnny Monell is my pick for Sleeper Prospect of 2010 in the Giants organization. Drafted in round #30 in 2007 out of JC ball, the Giants have brought him along slowly. He's hit pretty well, showing both some plate discipline and some power at each step. He had a good year with Augusta in 2009, a pretty tough place for hitters. The Giants sent him to winter ball where he didn't get into enough games to really draw any conclusions, but again showed plate discipline and power. He's ticketed to San Jose in 2010 and I'm looking for a breakout year. I would project his ceiling in the majors as a backup catcher, but lefthanded hitting catchers have a lot of value, so it's a good bet that he will stick around quite a while once he gets there.