Saturday, January 15, 2011

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2011 Giants Top 50 Prospects

OK team, it's that time of year again to reveal DrB's 2011 Giants Top 50 Prospects. We've been doing this since about 2003 and a lot of people really seem to appreciate it. We'll post the list here along with Honorable Mentions and "Dominican Dandies" and then give a short scouting report on each one leading up to the start of the season. In researching the list, I am struck by how much younger, deeper and more athletic the Giants farm system is than just a few years ago. You will find that the Honorable Mention list is quite lengthy with quite a few names that you might think should be in the Top 50! One area of mild concern is the relative lack of strong pitching prospects in the upper minors. Luckily, the strength and relative youth of the Giants pitching at the MLB level gives them some time to correct this imbalance. As always, this list and the scouting reports to come are just one fan's opinion. As always, please don't get too hung up on the exact order. The most important part of the exercise is getting to know some of the players the Giants have in their farm system. On with the list!

1. Brandon Belt, 1B/OF.
2. Zack Wheeler, RHP.
3. Thomas Neal, OF.
4. Gary Brown, OF.
5. Francisco Peguero, OF
6. Dan Runzler, LHP.
7. Chuckie Jones, OF.
8. Ehire Adrianza, SS.
9. Brandon Crawford, SS.
10. Charlie Culberson, 2B.
11. Jarrett Parker, OF.
12. Conor Gillaspie, 3B.
13. Tommy Joseph, C.
14. Rafael Rodriguez, OF.
15. Nick Noonan, 2B.
16. Seth Rosin, RHP.
17. Mike Kickham, LHP.
18. Kendry Flores, RHP.
19. Heath Hembree, RHP.
20. Jose Casilla, RHP.
21. Ryan Verdugo, LHP.
22. Steve Edlefsen, RHP.
23. Johnny Monell, C.
24. Chris Dominguez, 3B.
25. Carlos Willoughby, 2B.
26. Jose Valdez, RHP.
27. Jorge Bucardo, RHP.
28. Jacob Dunnington, RHP.
29. Jake Dunning, RHP.
30. Hector Sanchez, C.
31. Carter Jurica, SS.
32. Dan Burkhart, C.
33. Reiner Roibal, RHP.
34. Matthew Graham, RHP.
35. Brandon Allen, RHP.
36. Roger Kieschnick, OF.
37. Clayton Tanner, LHP.
38. Craig Westcott, RHP.
39. Eric Surkamp, LHP.
40. Jason Stoffel, RHP.
41. Ryan Cavan, 2B.
42. Chris Lofton, OF.
43. Edwin Escobar, LHP.
44. Austin Fleet, RHP.
45. Wendell Fairley, OF.
46. Leonardo Fuentes, OF.
47. Marvin Barrios, RHP.
48. Juan Perez, OF.
49. Caleb Hougheson, 3B
50. Tyler Graham, OF.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Rohlinger IF, Brock Bond 2B, Jackson Williams C, Mike McBryde OF/RHP?, Darren Ford OF, Henry Sosa RHP, Waldis Joaquin RHP, Matt Yourkin LHP, David Mixon RHP, Wilmin Rodriguez LHP, David Quinowski LHP, Michael Main RHP, Drew Biery 3B, Michael Sandoval 1B, James Simmons OF, Justin Fitzgerald RHP, Kelvin Marte LHP, Ari Ronick LHP, Aaron King LHP, Nick Liles OF, Luke Anders 1B, Ydwin Villegas SS, Christopher Heston RHP, Brian Irving RHP, Jeremy Toole RHP, Andy Reichard RHP, Craig Whitaker RHP, Chris Gloor LHP, Chris Wilson RHP, Jason Jarvis RHP, Ryan Scoma OF, Devin Harris OF, Edward Concepcion RHP, Shawn Sanford RHP, Stephen Shakleford RHP, Carlton Salters OF, Joe Staley OF, Ryan Bean RHP, Jose De La Cruz OF, Sundrendy Windster 1B, Wes Hobson 2B.

"Dominican Dandies": Fernando Pujadas C, Christian Paulino 3B, Jesus Galindo OF, Shurendell Mujica SS, Luis Angeles RHP, Joan Gregorio RHP, Ariel Hernandez RHP.


  1. The first thing I noticed was Surkamp behind Tanner and Westcott. I can see Westcott as a sleeper, considering how the Giants are promoting him, but even then Surkamp that low is a surprise.
    Looking forward to that explanation, along with the rest of your list.

  2. Yeah, surprised that Surkamp is so low too. Generally agree with the rankings, within range of where I would probably rank everyone. Should be fun discussions on everyone! Thanks DrB!

  3. I understand the low rating of Surkamp is probably due to his injury and whether he will come back strong. The only thing I don't get is the high rating of Gary Brown. I know there is only a small sample size but 7 for 44 wouldn't make my type 5. I think he has a high ceiling but parts of me think he is a Reggie Willits type with more plate discipline and doubles power.

  4. I have been waiting for this!! Thanks Doc...

    now, allow me to nit-pick.

    1) Juan Carlos Perez #48. After his 1st half display this past year, I would have expected him closer to the #25 area...

    2) Willoughby #25. He has been on my radar for the last couple seasons at least, but the fact that NO ONE has ever mentioned him and it took him this long just to play in the states makes me a bit leery on him. You certainly cannot argue about his numbers, though.

    3) Gillaspie above ToJo. I must say this is one of the most shocking things I notice about this list. Granted, it is only one slot, but I already said I was going to nit-pick. Is your thought on these two based on ToJo's apparent lack of position?

    4) Windster, Galindo as Honorable Mentions. If you rank Willoughby, I am not sure that you can leave these guys off the top 50.

    5) Jacob Dunnington, Jake Dunning. I thought it was humorous to see these two ranked next to each other :)

    6) Dan Burkhart / Hector Sanchez / Johnny Monell. Monell only got onto my radar late this season, and I reluctantly understand him supplanting Sanchez as the #2 catcher prospect in the organization. However, I am not sure that Burkhart belongs in the discussion yet. Sanchez is still younger, and his numbers were not that horrible in an off season.

    7) I too noticed Surkamp's surprising low placement, but then I remembered about his injury, so I guess it makes sense. He is a bit of a wildcard.

    8) I would propose that Angel Villalona still belongs on the honorable mention list. The Giants apparently have a team in the DR continually working with him to try to continue his development as much as possible during this ordeal. From a pure baseball stance, he can still turn out to be something special if the legal stuff were to settle out...

  5. Thanks for the prompt feedback everybody! Although I put a lot of work and thought into the list, I'm not sure it would be the exact same list if I did it tomorrow or next week. We will work through the list one-by-one leading up to the start of the season.


    Surkamp's injury was a factor, but I have never been as enthusiastic about his as some. Until he proves it at higher levels, to me, he's a polished college LHP with a mediocre fastball who has thrived at lower levels against kids who aren't used to seeing breaking stuff that highly developed. Assuming he can return to health, Fresno would be the make or break level for him.

    I debated long and hard re. Brown vs Peguero. Ultimately it came down to me thinking that the Giants see Brown as the CF of the future while Peguero has already been bumped out of CF by Juan Perez!

    I think Conor Gillaspie's season at Richmond is underrated by many. The power he showed in the AFL was encouraging. I think he could break out in Fresno in 2011. He's just a lot closer to the majors than Joseph. Gotta love Joseph's power. The Giants obviously are excited about him as they gave him a ST invite. He got bumped down a bit on this list based on some scouting videos I saw where he looks slower than Bengie Molina running down to first base.

    Juan Perez might be this year's Jorge Bucardo in terms of me ranking him way too low. He's a bit old and small but certainly brings game. I see him as a guy who will have to fight to be a 5'th OF if he makes it to the majors at all. I just think it's great that I was having a tough time finding a slot for a guys like him. This list doesn't have quite the zip at the top we had last year with Posey and Bumgarner, but man, it goes DEEP!

    Burkhart was drafted fairly high, is a switch-hitter and got off to a good start to his pro career. I guess his ranking is a bit of a reward for that good start.

    I sure hope Angel V can get his legal problems straightened out. The legal system in the DR seems like a cesspool. I'm pretty sure we will never know what really happened down there. I've just made a decision to not count Angel V as a prospect until we know he can officially resume his baseball career.

    Keep the comments coming! Much appreciated.

  6. Dr. B, appreciate the list as always. And appreciate even more the write ups that you will do for each and every one of the members of the list. Can't wait to hear your thinking on some placements. Most of where I rank prospects are in line with where you do -- but there are some differences. To wit:

    First think I want to hear is why Belt over Wheeler. As I recall, you had been leaning toward Wheeler as the system's #1 prospect.

    I'm not as sold on Chucky Jones - the K-rate really stands out. I have him in the 12-15 range.

    I'm likewise not sold on Culberson's resurection. He hit a lot better, but let's face it - not extremely well in a hitters league. He's around 15-19 on my list.

    I like that you're still giving the benefit of the doubt to Gillaspie, Joseph and Rodriguez -- way too many have given up on those three after pedestrian seasons that weren't actually pedestrian.

    Looking forward to reading why Rosin ranks so high.

    Sticking to your Jose Valdez, guns, eh?

    Why the drop off for Hector -- you were one of the first who was singing his praises and he was just outside your top-10 recently.

    I'd characterize the Jurica placement as optimistic based on draft position.

    I more or less gave Kieschnick a mulligan on last season considering he was injured pretty much all year.

    Surkamp's injury must really scare you off? And you must not believe in Tanner's GB-tendencies. What about Buccardo's?

    Also, very little love for Stoffel. Love to see your analysis of his numbers -- his peripherals were good.

    I have both Fuentes and Barios higher (Barios higher than Fuentes). Always touch to rank the DSL guys.

    And my one rule (called the Jax-rule) is that if a player can come up immediately and play good to great defense at a defense-important position (SS, C, CF), they have to make the prospect list. So Jax is, for the third year in a row, my #50 prospect.

    Also love to hear what you think of moving Biery off of 3B to try him at Catcher.

    Of your honorable mentions, I like a couple of LHPs best: Wilkin Rodriguez (if he can stay healthy) and Chris Gloor. I think both could be very good pen guys for several years if things break right for them.

  7. Thanks Dave,

    Lots of stuff to address here. I'll just touch on a few.

    With Rosin, I think I'm being heavily influenced by John Klima over at baseballbeginnings. com who absolutely loves the guy. Big RHP who pounds the zone with a mid 90's fastball with fairly advanced breaking stuff. Will have to prove it in the pros though. Gotta think he starts off in San Jose.

    Tanner has some GB tendencies, but his GO/AO is consistently 1.5-1.7. I don't get too excited about GB tendencies in prospects unless the ratio is >2. His K/9 and K/BB were absolutely horrendous in a pitcher's league.

    I will go into detail about Stoffel in the write up. He has some potential, but IMO, only if he gets off the fast-track/closer track and takes the time to learn how to pitch. He just seems a bit fragile emotionally and showed a distinct lack of stamina when I saw him.

    I'm not too worried about Chuckie's K rate at age 17.

    With Belt, maybe I'm just getting carried along with the tide of irrational exuberance, but his ceiling appears to be high and he could very well be in the Giants starting lineup opening day.

    Jurica did show a glimmer of power and yes, his draft position carries some weight.

    Like the idea of trying Biery at catcher, but the Giants are well stocked at the position. Not sure what level he would play the position at.

    Agree with Wilmin Rodriguez and Chris Gloor being sleepers. I saw WRod in the Cal League playoffs and was really impressed with his size and velocity.

  8. DrB,

    I am wondering what you think of 3b if Panda can't keep the weight off and has another season like 2010. Do you think we would go free agent or give either Gillaspie or Dominguez a chance. I really like Dominguez if he could be more patient at the plate. The power is there and he reminds me of Feliz.

  9. I suspect '11 will be a make-or-break year for Dominguez. I like him, and agree with the Feliz comparison, but he has some MAJOR holes in his swing that must be fixed (at least to an extent) this season, or he will will turn out to be a AAAA ceiling player.

  10. look at pablo

    im getting excited

  11. Thanks DR B. I look forward to your list every year. Most of my enjoyment comes from backtracking as the year goes on... checking on players as you comment daily on the box score.

  12. Wow! Thanks everybody. Glad to see people digging the list.

    The latest pics of Pablo are indeed very encouraging. I can feel the excitement building already!

    Conor Gillaspie has to stick on the 25 man roster next year or be exposed to waivers. I think his future is very much tied to Pablo and Brandon Belt. If Belt pans out and Pablo makes a big comeback, Conor will likely be traded so as to not lose him for nothing. If Belt doesn't pan out, Pablo can move to first and Conor will get a shot at 3B. Of course, if Pabo eats or hacks his way out of a job, then Conor gets the first crack at the position.

  13. I am mildly surprised by Roger Kieschnick at 36.
    Is that due to injury which may be lingering.
    Because he started better than all others at AA.

    Thanks for doing this DrB.

  14. Kieschnick went out mid-season with a back injury and never came back. Back injuries are tricky, some resolve completely and never cause a problem again and others, like Dallas McPherson for one, become chronic debilitating conditions. I guess time will tell with Roger. It just bothers me that we have heard virtually nothing about him from any source since his injury. Not even any sightings in the reams of pics posts from down in Arizona. Hope he bounces back big time. He's got big time power potential and a cannon in RF that rivals Nate's.

  15. Between your top 50 and the honorable mentions, there is a total of 91 names. How many roster spots are there, especially before the short season teams start playing. I think you just about included everyone... Is this a good sign?

    Count me in as someone who appreciates your work.

  16. Thanks for the list DrB! Looking forward to following these guys through the entire season. Always interesting to see where the next big surprise comes from. Especially interested to see how a handful of guys do in extended action or a higher level.

  17. Hey Dr. B,

    What can you tell me about Tyler Graham? I'm really curious about him --- seems like a high-AVG high-SB guy, although I haven't really looked much at his stats....

  18. Hey everybody, keep 'em coming! Yeah, I might have gotten carried away with the honorable mentions. Obviously all 91 names are not going to make it to the majors. Heck, it's likely not all of them will even start the season in the organization. On the other hand, there really aren't any names that I would completely write off.

    Just one example: I think Brock Bond is probably nothing more than an organizational player at this point. Heck, with Culberson and Noonan around, I'm not sure there is any place for him to play in 2011! Yet, because of his consistently high OBP's, he continues to draw a lot of interest in certain corners of Giants fandom, so I decided to include him.

    As for Tyler Graham, he's probably in a similar boat with Brock Bond, but he does have a lot of speed and had a very nice year at Fresno last year. I could see him latching on as a #5 OF in some organization. I guess the #50 ranking was just nod to last year's performance.

    On a related thought, I've realized Ieft off Brett Pill. He was outrighted to Fresno, so hasn't been released, but what place does he have in the organization what with the emergence of Brandon Belt? Should I include him or not? I'm still debating!

  19. Thanks for this annual list, Dr B.
    Obviously you have to like the depht of the Giants system. I am just a little disappointed that my favorite sleeper Jose Flores isn't in this 91 names. Even Wes Hobson is included !!!! I hope Jose will do well enough next year in Richmond to enter your top 91 !!!

    Thanks for the work.

    Go Giants !!


  20. DrB,

    Thanks for your great work! I was mildly surprised at Jose Casilla at 20 and Roger Kieshnick at 36 being lower then expected. I read a nice article on Casilla in Baseball America, but I share your concern about Kieshnick's back injury that you posted earlier. I hope they can correct their lack of good pitching prospects at the higher levels which is reflected on your list.

  21. Isn't Jose Flores the new batting coach for Augusta? Or is that a different Jose Flores?

  22. I know that sometimes there are some “discrepancies” between real names/birthdates and what players coming from South America declare on their “official” papers but in this Flores case, it would be an extreme example ;-).

    The newAugusta hitting coach is described as a member of Padres coaching staff for the last 4 years and was a player in the Oakland and Dodgers system during the 12 years before.

    Our Jose Flores is listed to be born in 1987 and as you know spent last year in San Jose….He began his professional baseball life in 2006 in AZL with an uninspired line. From that point except in Augusta which was a lost year (certainly due to an injury) he learned how to get on base with base on balls and hits (as Brock Bond). As you told me previously, you thought when watching him playing that he didn’t have great physicals tools.
    So he may not be able to develop hitting power or defense ability to play at higher level (in fact he is listing as a DH but played most of his game at second base last year). But I keep him in my mind as the 92nd player of this organization (or 93rd if Pill is finally included).

    We’ll see where he‘ll play this year but hopefully it won’t be as a hitting coach.


  23. OK, thanks for clearing that up. I did see Jose Flores The Younger play several times last year. He just doesn't look like a player to me, but since I seem to be including everybody......

  24. Doc,
    It's always nice to read someones Top Whatever list, and I enjoyed yours again this year. I'm pleased to see that we basically agree on several players, particulary Chuckie Jones. (My top 10 is Belt, Wheeler, Neal, Brown, Crawford, Chuckie Jones, Kickham, Peguero, Rosin, & Hembree).
    One interesting difference is that I have Jake Dunning #18, and on the other hand I have Jarrett Parker at #22.
    I look forward to your comments about the individual players, especially Caleb Hougeson, Mike Kickham, and Seth Rosin.
    Thanks again!

  25. I would say that Hembree is a top 10 prospect. Besides Waldis Joaquin, he is the hardest thrower in the organization. Also, I think that Matthew Graham and Jason Stoffel are top 20-25 prospects. Both can reach the mid-90s with their fastballs and have good stuff.
    Nice list!

  26. Where do you think Simon Mercedes and Adalberto, the Giants recent signees from the Dominican Republic rank?

  27. Sorry, Adalberto Mejia.