Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Down on the Farm: #35 Adam Duvall

#35 Adam Duvall, 3B. 6'1", 205 lbs. BD: 9/4/1988. B-R, T-R.

Low A: .285/.385/.527 with 22 HR's.

Adam Duvall was drafted in the 11'th round in 2010 out of Louisville, so he was a college teammate of Chris Dominguez while there. He signed right away and put up a .688 OPS for Salem-Keizer that summer where he played both 2B and 3B. The Giants moved him to 3B exclusively in Augusta for the 2011 season. Duvall may have had the best season of any Giants prospect and they had quite a few good seasons in 2011. He hit for average, with plate discipline and power. He did commit 27 errors there so has some defensive work to do. You might want to look up how many errors Pablo Sandoval made at 3B when he was in Augusta just for comparison.

At age 22, he was not young for low A but not impossibly old. I expect him to move up to San Jose for 2012. If he puts up similar numbers there, he will be ranked a whole lot higher in next year's list.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Down on the Farm: #34 Brett Bochy

#34 Brett Bochy, RHP. 6'2", 192 lbs. BD: 8/27/1987.

Low A: 1-0, 1.38, 39 IP, 8 BB, 53 K, GO/AO= 0.66, 10 Saves.

Brett "Melonhead Jr" Bochy was one of the better college closers in the country at University of Kansas going into the 2010 season. He lost that season to Tommy John surgery and was then drafted by the Giants in round 20. He showed up in Augusta in 2011 and put up spectacular K and BB ratios. BA's draft scouting report on him has him with a 91-93 MPH FB/slider combo. I'm thinking he may have picked up velocity post TJ although I have not heard that. At age 24, I would think young Mr. Bochy is on the reliever fast track. He should start 2012 in San Jose. I look forward to seeing him pitch!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Down on the Farm: #33 Alex Burg

#33 Alex Burg, C/3B/1B. 6'0", 190 lbs. BD: 8/9/1987. B-R, T-R.

High A: .298/.369/.550, 14 HR in 262 AB.

ABL(Australian Baseball League): .277/.374/.546, 10 HR in 130 AB.

Alex Burg is my sleeper of sleepers although a few other prospect oriented sites have started to notice his numbers. He didn't get assigned to San Jose until after Hector Sanchez' promotion, but what he lacked in quantity of experience there, he sure made up for in quality hitting for average, with patience and power. He also played multiple positions including catcher. Now I ask, how valuable is it for your backup catcher to be able to play a couple other positions plus hit like that? Burg then headed off to Australia to play winter ball there and put up almost identical numbers. I don't know what the relative strength of competition is there, but the quality of international baseball has improved dramatically in recent years. The league features professional players from Korea, China and Japan.

He was drafted in the 24'th round in 2009 out of Washington State. where he hit .346/.466/.631 his senior season. His MLB debut was delayed until 2010 due to a knee injury requiring arthroscopic surgery suffered toward the end of his college career. He appeared in 3 levels in 2010 hitting a combined .245/.331/.443 so his Iso's were not much different than his 2011 numbers.

He's built like a mini-me of Tommy Joseph. In fact, I though he WAS Tommy Joseph until I checked his number in the program at the Cal League game where I saw him play. He's got a short, compact swing that generates good power. He strikes out a lot, but also draws a good share of walks. Patient hitters are going to strike out more because, well, you can't have strike 3 until you first get to strike 2! He does seem to be able to drive pitches he swings at.

He has some Asian facial features, his middle name is Musashi and His mother's name is Izumi, so I would deduce that he is Japanese-American. I would think he will get a chance to show what he can do with AA pitching in 2012. If he does well there, hey, I think he have a long career as at least a utility IF/C at the MLB level.

Hot Tip: Sabes Comments; Cafardo on the Offseason

There's a link to an interview Brian Sabean did with Mychal Urban over on sfgiants.com Message Board. Sabes had a few interesting things to say:

1. He sees Theriot as taking pressure off Crawford against certain LHP's.

2. I sounds like he really, really wants Brandon Belt to be the starting 1B.

3. He talked about Huff playing LF, but you get the feeling that they don't quite know what to do with Huff.

4. Sounds like if Huff is still on the team at the start of the season, Nate is the 4'th OF

Nick Cafardo who writes a baseball column for the Boston Globe ranked the teams by the the success of their offseasons. I was pleasantly surprised to see him rank the Giants #15. He had some good things to say about the two trades for Cabrera and Pagan and about Brian Sabean. The link is on MLBTR.

In a sad and surprising development, somebody hacked the MLB Draft Guide site and destroyed all the files. I absolutely love what Matt Grabusky is doing on that site and here's a shout out to Matt to keep his chin up and keep going.

....and a shout out to Calvin n Hobbs over on MCC for a link to mlbreport.com and a great interview with Giants prospect Mike Murray. Not sure off the top of my head if he made honorable mention on my top prospect list. If not, maybe I will have to add him.

Down on the Farm: #32 Chris Marlowe

#32 Chris Marlowe, RHP. 6'0", 175 lbs. BD: 10/26/1989.

College(OK State): 3-3, 5.05, 41 IP, 34 BB, 71 K's, 4 Saves.

Rookie AZL: 1-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 1 BB, 5 K's.

Christopher Marlowe is a smaller guy with a big arm and two plus-plus pitches. He just needs to be able to control them. Marlowe pitched in JC ball before transferring to Oklahoma State. He put up huge K numbers out of the bullpen there but the walks obviously hurt his ERA. BA's scouting report has him sitting at 93-95 MPH with the fastball, maxing out at 97 MPH. He has a sharp putaway mid 80's breaking ball to go with it. If he adds even an average changeup, he could probably be a starter. At worst, he can be a dominant arm out of the bullpen. As Kruk would say, he can get a wild hair up his nose, so the Giants task is to help him get the walk rate down, something they haven't been as good at as some other aspects of pitching development.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hot Stove Update: Bayou Boys Reunited

With the Giants payroll uncertainties all resolved to 2012 with the signing of Tim Lincecum, Brian Sabean turned his attention to the final phase of the offseason, AKA dumpster diving. This is where even the most ardent Sabean naysayers admit he has had his share of successes, and why not? There is almost no downside to signing a guy to a non-guaranteed contract in MLB!

The first signing was of relief pitcher Clay Hensley another former Giants prospect who was traded to San Diego for Matt Herges a long, long time ago. Hensley is now 32 yo and has had an up and down career both as a starter and reliever. His best season was probably 2010 with the Florida Marlins when his K/9 spiked up to >9. He even closed for the Marlins some that year! Bruce Bochy was his manager in San Diego. If anyone can coax another bounceback out of him, I would think it would be Bochy and Rags. He could make a nice 7'th man out of the bullpen and provide insurance for the rotation as a 6'th starter in case of emergency or an expected Zito fail. I'll give this one a thumbs up.

I have been defending and promoting Brandon Crawford all winter as the Giants best option to start at SS outside a Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins which was never going to happen. As a result, I have developed this protective paternal instinct around Crawford and regard with suspicion anything that might threaten his big opportunity. I guess that's why I'm not quite as enthusiastic over the signing of Ryan Theriot(The Riot to Bip Roberts). I probably should not fret about it because at this point in his career, Theriot is almost certainly not a starting SS as his offensive and defensive numbers have been in steady decline for several years now. He has maintained the ability to hit LHP's pretty well and the Giants projected lineup leans to the left with some switch-hitters who probably hit better LH, so the Giants may be thinking of him as a RH bat off the bench or a RH platoon partner with Crawford. He also does give them a bit of a safety net in case Crawford's offensive numbers crater, but Theriot would probably remind Giants fans more of Miguel Tejada or OCab on defense than, say, Omar Vizquel. In fact, Theriot's Bayou Buddy, Mike Fontenot, had much better defensive numbers at SS last year than The Riot Man! Problem is, Fonty would not make a platoon with Crawford because they both hit LH. Theriot also gives the Giants another option at 2B if Freddy Sanchez' shoulder blows up in Spring Training.

Theriot's signing also opens up almost unlimited opportunity for fun with names and relationships. There's The Riot, of course, made all the more funny by Bip Roberts' local presence. Theriot and Fontenot sound like they should go together in some kind of foot stomping country song: "Theriot and Fontenot, the place is buzzin'. Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen." There's Bayou Brothers, Bayou Boys. The Riot and The Hobbit. The possibilities are already running wild!

Rumors are also out there that the Giants and Xavier Nady have a mutual interest. Nady would be the RH bat off the bench/dumpster dive I have been talking about for awhile. Nady and Bochy also have a connection from San Diego days so it seems like a strong possibility. It's been awhile since Nady as an offensive force of any kind, let alone adequate defensively, but he was a serious hitter in his day. As we've seen, you never want to say never in this game.

These moves create competition for several roster spots putting pressure to perform on several young players. It puts pressure on Crawford to not crater on offense at SS. It puts pressure on Emmanuel Burriss to up his game a notch or two just to hold a roster spot. A Nady signing might jeopardize Brett Pill's chances of making the roster out of spring training and probably would make it more likely that Brandon Belt starts the season in Fresno.

Should be an interesting Spring Training!

Down on the Farm: #31 Austin Fleet

#31 Austin Fleet, RHP. 6'2", 200 lbs. BD: 4/17/1987.

Low A: 8-5, 4.32, 66.2 IP, 24 BB, 48 K.

AA: 0-0, 2.77, 13 IP, 2 BB, 6 K's.

AFL: 2-1, 3.00, 18 IP, 3 BB, 17 K.

Fleet was drafted as a senior out of Coastal Carolina, a top notch college program. He was a starter for his first 3 seasons there, but became a top college closer his senior season. BA's Draft Database says he showed a 93-94 MPH FB in college with good sink. He signed quickly and the Giants immediately put him at starter in Arizona where he pitched well, but probably at too low a level to really challenge him.

He sputtered a bit in Augusta pitching in both starting and relief roles. He then put up a solid line in the AFL, which probably helped his stock a lot. One thing I noticed is that he seemed to morph from a ground ball pitcher with a GO/AO= 1.67 in 2010 to a pretty extreme flyball pitcher with a GO/AO= 0.48 in AA and 0.79 in the AFL, although those are both very small sample sizes.

I'm thinking AA is the most likely place for him to start out 2012, most likely out of the bullpen, but he could be moved back to starter any time.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Down on the Farm: #30 Jake Dunning

#30 Jake Dunning, RHP. 6'4", 190 lbs. BD: 8/12/1988.

High A: 6-3, 4.74, 76 IP, 24 BB, 71 K, GO/AO= 1.47, 10 Saves.

Jake Dunning is a converted college shortstop with one of the loosest, whippiest arms I've seen. He struggled in the SJ rotation early in 2011 then flourished in the bullpen later as he recorded 6 of his 10 saves in his last 10 appearances. I saw him pitch a couple of times last year. He showed a FB that ran 93-96 MPH with a sharp breaking ball to go with it. He could develop into a strong setup man with an outside shot at becoming a MLB closer. He could also move back to starter and eventually be a #3 in MLB. He's a bit on the old side for his level, but has low mileage on his arm and is still learning how to pitch, so the age vs level thing is not as big a deal with him as with some prospects. I would expect him to move up to Richmond in 2012.

Down on the Farm: #29 Conor Gillaspie

#29 Conor Gillaspie, 3B. 6'1", 195 lbs. BD: 7/18/1987. B-L, T-R.

AAA: .297/.389/.453, 22 2B, 6 3B, 11 HR, 9 SB, 9 CS

MLB: .263/.333/.421 in 19 AB.

This ranking may be too low. Gillaspie has a very good hit tool. I just see him as the classic "tweener". A guy who doesn't hit for enough power to play a corner position but is not athletic enough to play up the middle on defense. I admit that when he was drafted by the Giants after hitting over .400 in college I had visions of him turning into something like Wade Boggs. That he has yet to break .300 in the minor league makes that a fairly remote possibility at this point. He'll be doing very well if he can carve out a Bill Mueller-like career. I've read that his defense has improved a lot since I saw him in SJ in 2009. It looked very shaky back then. He was put on the MLB roster in September of 2008, the year he was drafted. Ordinarily teams have 3 option years after that but there seems to be a loophole that allows the Giants one more option this year, so we'll probably see him back in Fresno to start the season.

With Pablo Sandoval signed up for the next 3 years, it's pretty hard to envision Conor coming up and being the starting 3B any time soon. He's started to do some work at 2B to possibly help him play a utility role. It seems to me the most likely outcome is he will be part of a trade and hopefully get a chance with another team.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Down on the Farm: #28 Kendry Flores

#28 Kendry Flores, RHP. 6'2", 175 lbs. BD: 11/24/1991.

Short Season: 4-3, 5.06, 48 IP, 14 BB, 47 K, GO/AO=0.90.

Flores' ERA doesn't look good here, but his K and BB ratios remained excellent. He's a classic power/flyball pitcher that the Giants have become known for developing. I don't have a scouting report on him but I have the impression from somewhere that he throws in the low-mid 90's. I've seen a few pics over on azgiants.com and he looks stockier than than his listed weight. I would think he'll move up to low A Augusta for 2012 where he will be age appropriate for the level. He's a solid prospect.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Down on the Farm: #27 Dan Otero

#27 Dan Otero RHP. 6'3", 205 lbs. BD: 2/19/1985.

AA: 2-1, 1.42, 38 IP, 4 BB, 40 K's, GO/AO= 1.81.

AAA: 2-3, 3.25, 36 IP, 7 BB, 36 K, GO/AO= 1.21, 12 Saves.

There is not much to not like about Otero's stat line. I especially like his line for his last 10 appearances for Fresno: 0-1, 2.45, 11 IP, 1 BB, 7 K's, GO/AO= 1.78. I don't have a good scouting report on Otero. I'm thinking he's a low 90's FB guy with great command. His K/9=9 tells me he has some kind of put away pitch. He's basically been on the closer track since being drafted in the 21'st round out of South Florida in 2007 and moved slowly up the system. He actually reached AA in 2009 but missed most of 2010 and got sent back to Arizona and SJ when he came back. I assume there was some sort of injury setback there. So, he's an older prospect, but does not have a lot of innings on his arm. The Giants took a lesson from losing Joe Paterson to the Rule 5 draft, to a division rival no less, and put Otero on the 40 man roster to make sure it's didn't happen again. There's always a role for a guy who can come out of the bullpen, throw strikes, miss bats and put the ball on the ground even if he doesn't have eye popping velocity. He could contend for the last bullpen job out of spring training in 2012.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Down on the Farm: #26 Roger Kieschnick

#26 Roger Kieschnick, OF. 6'3", 215 lbs. BD: 1/21/1987. B-L, T-R.

AA: .255/.307/.429, 22 2B, 5 3B, 16 HR, 13 SB.

Roger Kieschnick is one of those players who has had a terrible time of it since being promoted to AA Eastern League. After putting up an .876 OPS for San Jose in 2009, he struggled in Richmond in 2010 and missed the second half of the season with back problems. He came back in 2011 and hit quite well for the first half with power. His offense collapsed in the second half casting a dark cloud over his future. At age 25, I think it's probably time to say he's paid enough dues in the EL and give him a chance to break out in Fresno. You hate to give up on a player with his combination of power potential and athleticism but time is running out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fantasy Focus: 2012 All Breakout Team

Everybody who plays fantasy baseball is interested in "breakout" candidates, players who elevate their games to a higher level and establish themselves as baseball stars. These are distinctly different than Rookie of the Year candidates as well as distinctly different than "sleepers." I will define breakout candidates as players who are no longer eligible for rookie of the year, and who are already well known enough that they are not "sleepers" which implies most people are not expecting much from them. Breakout candidates may or may not come with high expectations already.

C Matt Wieters, Orioles. Wieters was the #4 overall draft pick in 2007. He has hit OK, but not nearly as well as anticipated and has therefore been labeled a disappointment. He has, however, improved each year and with 2 full seasons under his belt may be poised for a breakout into full blown stardom. What may hold him back is the fact that he's a switch-hitter who struggles against RHP's. On the other hand, once he figures out RHP's he should put up monster numbers.

1B Eric Hosmer, Royals. The #2 overall pick in 2008. Hosmer was drafted out of HS. Last year was his MLB debut. He appeared in 128 games with a slash line of .293/.334/.465 with 19 HR and 11 SB. He has all the tools and skills to break out big time in 2012 if he can avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx.

1B Justin Smoak, Mariners. Also a first round draft choice in 2008 by the Texas Rangers. Some Giants fans would have preferred the Giants draft him over Buster Posey. He was traded to the Mariners for Cliff Lee in 2010. He's been a disappointment so far, but hit over .300 for the month of September last year.

2B Dustin Ackley, Mariners. Ackley is another highly touted prospect who has been labeled as a disappointment but may just not have had enough time to establish himself. He made his MLB debut last year and put up a line of .273/.348/.417, 16 2B, 7 3B, 6 HR, 6 SB in 333 AB's. You can approximately double all his counting stats to project to a full season which comes out pretty darn good for a 2B let alone a rookie 2B. It only takes a small improvement over the course of a full season and you have an All-Star level performer.

SS Dee Gordon, Dodgers. Sorry to say it, but all this guy has to do is hit about .250 and he may end up with 80 SB's. He seems to play pretty good D too, though not as good as Brandon Crawford. He should be able to prop his BA up with his speed as he has kept his K rate below 15% throughout the minors and his MLB debut. As for Crawford? I would consider him more of a sleeper than a breakout candidate.

3B Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays. Highly rated prospect traded from the BrewCrew to Toronto in the Shawn Marcum trade. He made his MLB debut last year and went .293/.373.,580 with 9 HR and 7 SB in 171 AB. His minor league record and pedigree suggest that those number just might be sustainable which would translate to a monster full season.

3B Mike Moustakas, Royals. Yet another high first round draft pick by the Royals, Moustakas put up a decent line last year in his MLB debut, .263/.309/367, but he hit .282 in August and .353 in September. Might not hit for a lot of power right away, but he looks like he's going to be a star, possibly as soon as 2012.

3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants. I suppose you could say Pablo has already broken out, but between his ongoing conditioning program and Lasik surgery to fix his eyes, I'm thinking we ain't seen nothin' yet. I don't think a .330 BA with 40 HR's is out of the question.

OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies. Fowler seems to have hit a plateau the last 3 years, but he seemed to shift into a higher gear after the All-Star break last year with a line of .288/.380/.498. He has the tools to do even better than that.

OF Desmond Jennings, Rays. Highly touted rookie who the Rays have developed slowly, too slowly for some fans taste. He put up a line of .259/.356/.449 with 10 HR and 20 SB in 247 AB in is MLB debut last year.

OF Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays. Last year was a disaster for the star-crossed young phenom. I think the Jays will give him a fair chance to bounce back and he certainly has the tools and skills to pull off a breakout.

OF Austin Jackson, Tigers. Another toolsy guy who has been so-so in his MLB career so far. Has the tools to break out at any time.

P Steven Strasburg Nationals. Hard to think of a guy hyped as much as Strasburg as having a breakout season, but that's exactly what I expect in his first full season back from TJ surgery.

Brandon Belt would be on this list if I thought he was going to be a starter for the Giants all season, but I expect to see him start out 2012 in Fresno.

Who do you think might "break out" in 2012?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Down on the Farm: #25 Charlie Culberson

#25 Charlie Culberson, 2B. 6'1", 200 lbs, BD: 4/10/1989. B-R, T-R.

AA: .259/.293/.382, 34 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 14 SB, 4 CS in 553 AB.

That is not a particularly inspiring line for Charlie, and it's disappointing coming after something of a breakout year in SJ in 2010. But, you know what? He's 6 months younger than Gary Brown, so he could repeat AA and still end up at the same age/level as Brown. Culby actually looked really good at times, but he also endured a couple of prolonged slumps. His monthly splits:

April- .290
May- .271
June- .217
July- .278
August- .231
September- .292.

He finished with a flourish hitting .348 over his last 10 games.

While I think the challenge of hitting in the Eastern League is good for Giants hitting prospects, I'm not sure it's a good idea to leave them there too long as the weight of that struggle might just wear them down and break their spirit. I would be inclined to give Culby a passing grade for the level and promote him to Fresno where I think he might put up much better numbers.

Ultimately, Brandon Crawford may hold the key to Culberson's future with the Giants. If Crawford can nail down SS this year, that would probably end up pushing Panik to 2B leaving Culberson the odd man out. If Panik is the SS of the future, though, I could see Culberson moving into the 2B role, possibly as early as 2013 after Franchez' contract is done. Culberson seems like the type of prospect who will have an adjustment period to the majors and will requre some patience, something the Giants have tended to not show their hitting prospects. Possibly he could get a toehold with a utility role and gradually expand that like Nate has done. I see his ceiling as being a .260-.270 hitter with a lot of doubles, about 15 HR's and maybe about 10 SB's, kind of a league average 2B.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Down on the Farm: #24 Joan Gregorio

#24 Joan Gregorio, RHP. 6'7", 180 lbs. BD: 1/12/1992.

Rookie AZL: 3-0, 2.32, 50.1 IP, 16 BB, 43 K, GO/AO= 1.20.

Gregorio is a tall drink of water who graduated from the DSL after putting up pretty good numbers there in 2010. He improved his K rate from the DSL and maintained a good BB% for a kid that young and gangly. He reportedly throws in the low 90's with room to increase that as he fills out. He was signed in 2010 for a low 6 figure bonus. I would expect to see him pitching for Augusta in 2012. That's pretty much all I know about him.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Down on the Farm: #23 Angel Villalona

#23 Angel Villalona, 1B. 6'3", 200 lbs. BD: 8/13/1990. B-R, T-R.


High A(2009): .267/.306/.397, 9 HR in 292 AB.

Angel Villalona was a hard guy to rank at best. Now, after missing the last 2 seasons due to legal problems in the Dominican Republic, I honestly had no idea where to put him. I settled on ranking him right after Fuentes and RafRod just to make it a 3 pack of high ceiling international guys. His last professional experience was in the Cal League at age 18 where he actually held his own, although he slumped toward the end of the season before finishing on the DL.

I saw him play in a couple of games that year in which he struggled at the plate. He seemed to have a decent idea of the strike zone until he got to two strikes. Once he got two strikes on him, it was all over. The pitchers didn't have to come anywhere close to the strike zone and he'd still be swinging and the pitchers seemed to know it.

Villalona has shown big time power potential at a young age. The raps on him are conditioning and strike zone judgement. He's reportedly been working out and is in better shape than in the past now. It's hard to believe he's had a chance to polish up his hitting with the lack of playing time. Assuming he gets a work visa to come to the states, I think the Giants will take it slow, probably keeping him in Extended Spring Training until June then assigning him based on where he is in his development and organizational openings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hot Stove Update: A Flurry of Signings

Yesterday was the deadline for submission of salary proposals for unsigned arbitration eligible players. I think most Giants fans are relieved and happy that they agreed to terms with all but 2 of the arbitration eligibles. In addition, Romo's contract looks like it's all but done and there's even reason for optimism about Tim Lincecum's contract and the likelihood they will avoid an arbitration hearing in his case.

Angel Pagan was the first announcement Monday evening, 1 year, $4.85 M. This a a great deal from the Giants perspective. It's market value for approximately 1 WAR. Pagan had an uncharacteristically terrible defensive season last year, possibly caused by a nagging injury. He still put up 0.9 WAR. In the two prior years, he put up 2.9 and 5.3 WAR. If he returns to form on defense, he is likely to perform to a WAR of somewhere between 3 and 4, yet the Giants are only paying for the likely worst case scenario. The 1 year deal leaves the door open to a future of Gary Brown taking over in CF/leadoff in 2013. If Pagan puts up a 3+ WAR season, he will likely command a multi-year deal on the FA market. All the Giants need to do is offer 1 year/$12 M and they get exra draft picks.

Melky Cabrera signed a very similar contract, 1 year/$6 M. Cabrera has a career average WAR of about 1.2 per 150 games so his contract is close to that with a small bonus for putting up 4.6 WAR last year. Again, it's low risk for the Giants. if he reverts to being a 1 WAR player, they can bid him adios after the season. If 2011 proves to be a breakout and he puts up 4+ WAR again, they can make the same 1 year/$12 M offer and get even more draft picks in compensation. Of course, there is still the option of re-signing both Pagan and Cabrera as FA's next offseason.

Santiago Casilla agreed to a 1 year/$2.2 M contract with $200 K in incentives. I regard Casilla as the backup closer over Romo and Affeldt. He performed that role admirably last season. Another nice deal for the Giants here.

The biggest surprise came later yesterday with the announcement of a 3 year contract for Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval is coming off a tremendous season marred only by a hamate fracture that cost him about 6 weeks but from which he appears to be fully recovered. This was Pablo's first year of arbitration eligibility. He submitted a request for $4.25 M while the Giants countered with $3 M. His projected arbitration award was $3.2. As the Giants did 2 years ago with Timmy, they ended up settling for close to the Giants number in year 1 of a multi-year deal with raises in ensuing seasons. Pablo's total deal is reportedly 3 years/$17.15 M. The deal gives the Giants cost certainty through Pablo's arbitration years but does not buy out any FA years. If Pablo does what I think he might over the next 3 seasons, this will end up being a very favorable deal for the Giants, especially in 2014.

Lastly, Nate Schierholtz and the Giants agreed to a 1 year/$1.3 M contract in Nate's first arbitration year. While a million dollar contract doesn't buy you financial security in this day, it's a nice start and it's nice to see Nate start to get rewarded for all the years of hard work he's put into his career. Maybe he'll get a bit longer leash now that the Giants have some money invested in him too?

Sergio Romo reportedly submitted a $1.75 M salary request while the Giants countered with $1.3 M. It seems his deal should be done in short order and not go anywhere near an arbitrator's courtroom.

That brings us to Tim Lincecum and his unique situation. I don't think any pitcher in history has won 2 Cy Young awards, won 3 strikeout titles and pitched his team to a World Series title all during his pre-free agency years. We are definitely looking at uncharted territory here. Since arbitration, by its very nature, considers precedent heavily, Timmy's situation becomes very dicey for everyone involved.

The Giants offer was for $17 M, the highest arbitration offer in history by a sizeable margin over the $14.25 M offer the Yankees made to Derek Jeter in 2001. Now THAT is rarified air! Timmy countered with a request for $21.5 M, just short of Roger Clemens' record request of $22 M in 2005. Clemens' situation was different in that he was well past the usual arbitration years and accepted the Astros arbitration offer as a free agent. I think it's pretty clear Timmy's agent did not want to tweak the tiger's tail by matching or exceeding Clemens' request.

Timmy has said that he is happy going year to year with his contracts which has caused a lot of Giants fans to become anxious that he intends to become a free agent on schedule after the 2013 season. The extension of that notion, of course, is that some team out there will blow the Giant out of the water with an offer to Timmy that the Giants can't and shouldn't match. More recently, Timmy's agent floated the idea of an 8 year contract as an alternative to the year to year thing. The Giants appropriately rejected that proposal as a non-starter. The Giants did indicate that they are seeking 4 year deals for both Timmy and Matt Cain.

I believe the Giants are still very much in control of the situation here. First of all, I believe that if it goes all the way to a hearing, the arbitrator is much more likely to decide on the $17 M than on the $21.5 M. While Timmy had two sensational 8 WAR seasons in 2008 and 2009 with the accompanying Cy Young awards, he has regressed in the last 2 seasons to WAR's of 4.9 and 4.4. While I doubt that the arbitrators have even heard of WAR, it does seem to be a fairly good measure of market value. Right now, the open market price is somewhere between $4.5 and $5 M/WAR. Based on Timmy's last 2 seasons, his open market value is somewhere between $20 and $25 M per year. The Giants have every reason to expect a discount during the pre-free agency years which makes the $17 M look about right. Secondly, if the Giants are seeking a 4 year deal to extend into Timmy's free agency years, they can make an offer of about $20 M/year and force Timmy to make a choice between the likely arbitration award of $17 M or about $80 M in the 4 year offer. Different agents take different approaches and I'm sure ballplayers have some say in the matter. Scott Boras almost always advises his players to take the risk of free agency over long term financial security and it usually works out for them, although not always. Timmy's agent is not Scott Boras and I don't know what attitude Timmy's agent leans toward, but $80 M is a lot of money to walk away from.

I have to say, I'm not so sure the Giants should be seeking even a 4 year deal with Timmy. Let's look at the progression of some of Timmy's stats over the last 3 seasons:

K/9: 10.42, 9.79, 9.12.

BB/9: 2.72/3.22/3.57

FIP: 2.34/3.15/3.17.

Those are still very good numbers, but there is a definite progression in the wrong direction there. While it's not panic time or "let's trade Timmy before he collapses" time, if I'm in Brian Sabean's position, I'd like to see those numbers reverse direction or at least stabilize before making an $80 M commitment. Keeping this contract to the pre-free agency years may be in the Giants best interest as much or even more than Timmy's.

We have seen in Timmy's first arbitration experience and now with Pablo Sandoval agreements that take the Giants offer as the number for the first year and the player's request as the number for the second year. When all aspects of Timmy's situation and recent precedent are taken into account, I believe the most likely outcome of the Giants negotiations with Tim Lincecum will be a 2 year contract for $39.5 M, $17 M in 2012 and $21.5 in 2013. It gives Timmy financial security while preserving his options of testing free agency in 2014. It gives the Giants the contract they want in 2012 and cost certaintly in 2013 while limiting their risk that Timmy's performance might continue to decline or that he might get injured.

A lot of Giants fans will look at that and say, "see, the window is closing! The Giants have just 2 years to win another World Series or the opportunity will be lost forever." I don't see it that way. Even in the worst case scenario, which would be Timmy's performance falling off a cliff or injury, the Giants can still re-allocate the money they would have paid him in his free agency years. If his performance remains high, they still have the option of signing him in free agency or they can trade him for top prospects and still re-allocate the money or they can get draft pick compensation plus re-allocate the money. I'm not saying I want to see Timmy pitching for the Yankees or Mariners after 2013, but it would not represent the closing of the Giants window of opportunity for winning championships.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Down on the Farm: #22 Rafael Rodriguez

#22 Rafael Rodriguez, OF. 6'5", 198 lbs. BD: 7/13/1992. B-R, T-R.

Low A: .236/.284/.297, 1 HR, 1 SB, 6 CS.

You don't like to be in the position of having to defend or make excuses for your prospects, but that's exactly what I'm going to do here with RafRod. He had a rough 2011, no way around it. On the other hand, he didn't turn 19 until mid-season. The Sally League is tough on most hitters. From Fred Stanley's interview with Joe Rizo on sjgiants.com, it sounds like Raffy will be back in Augusta where he will still be on the young side for the league. Way too early to give up on RafRod!

PS: He missed some time here and there during the season, so I'm guessing he battled some nagging injuries.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Down on the Farm: #21 Leonardo Fuentes

#21 Leonardo Fuentes, OF. 6'4", 215 lbs. BD: 11/29/1992. B-R, T-R.

Rookie AZL: .257/.306/.425, 13 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 10 BB, 55 K.

I think us prospect watchers all have our white whales. I know I have several, but none bigger than Leonardo Fuentes. I've never seen him play. I've never even seen a real scouting report on him. All I know is he is one of the Giants mid-6 figure bonus babies that they've been signing on the international market.....and he's big....and he plays OF...and he's young. That's really all I need to know to envision an absolute monster standing in one of the corner OF's at AT&T Park some time in the mist shrouded future.

At first glance, his batting line is nothing to get excited about. Keep in mind though that he played last year at age 18, a year in which if he was from the states, he would have been drafted out of HS and possibly not signed in time to play pro ball at all! There were 14 players who hit more HR's than Fuentes in the Arizona League, but only 5 of them were age 18 or younger. He didn't just hit HR's either. 41% of his hits went for XBH's. Fuentes put up very similar numbers in the DSL in 2010. His BB% went down but his ISO power went up significantly. I don't know if it will be in 2012, but as some point I think he's going to put it all together and be a monster prospect.

Fantasy Focus: 2012 Savvy Vets Keepers

I haven't posted anything about the Savvy Vets, my fantasy baseball team, or fantasy baseball in general for awhile. Savvy Vets is in a 10 team league, standard 5X5 H2H rules. We are allowed to keep 3 hitters and 3 pitchers from the previous year. The problem in choosing "Keepers" is that Savvy Vets is thin in top tier players but very deep in 2'nd tier guys. Here's the full roster:

C Brian McCann
1B Paul Konerko
2B Jemile Weeks
3B Chipper Jones
SS Alexei Ramirez
IF Michael Morse
OF Justin Upton
OF Omar Infante
OF Coco Crisp
UT David Ortiz
UT Eric Hosmer
SP CC Sabathia
SP Michael Pineda
SP Ervin Santana
SP Stephen Strasburg
SP Matt Cain
RP Craig Kimbrel
RP Mark Melancon
RP Brad Lidge
P Frank Francisco
P Bobby Parnell
BN Chris Young(OF)
BN Bartolo Colon
BN Madison Bumgarner
BN Derek Holland
BN Bud Norris
DL Jonathan Sanchez


Closers are insanely overvalued in this league. Between the RP and P categories, it's possible to have 5 closers in your starting lineup. We have at least 3 managers who hoard closers. If you want to compete in the Saves category, you have to take reliable closers early and often. Many of them are keepers. I tried punting Saves one year and found that the numbers really work against you if you punt any one category.

Justin Upton and CC Sabathia are the 2 obvious keepers here.

I feel like I have to keep Kimbrel because of the severe shortage of closers in the draft.

I've narrowed my options for the final 2 hitters to Paul Konerko, Michael Morse, Brian McCann and Eric Hosmer. Konerko has been one of the steadiest performers in baseball over the last 5 years, but he's starting to get to an age where you expect him to start the declining years of his career. Hosmer is a young stud who could break out or he could have a sophomore slump and have his breakout a year or 2 down the road. Morse had a breakout season last year. Was it a fluke?

Choosing the last pitching keeper has the most players to choose from. Strasburg probably has the highest long term ceiling, but the Nats will probably limit his innings in 2012. Meanwhile, I've got Cain and Bumgarner as sentimental favorites with Pineda and Derek Holland also worthy of consideration. Do I take one of them over Strasburg? Do I take the risk of having to punt Saves and keep one of them over Kimbrel?

What 3 hitters and 3 pitchers would you keep if you were managing Savvy Vets?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Down on the Farm: #20 Hector Correa

Looks like everybody is off celebrating the Niners' win and debating the Montero/Pineda trade. We'll just keep plugging along here with the top prospects rundown, but yeah, I'm happy for the NIners. I haven't paid much attention to football for awhile but I really like this Niner's team. It goes to show how much of a difference good coaching can have on a team, especially at the QB position. Ever wonder what Joe Montana's career would have looked like if Bill Walsh hadn't been his coach?

#20 Hector Correa, RHP. 6'3", 165 lbs. BD: 3/18/1988.

High A: 3-1, 1.93, 42 IP, 12 BB, 37 K.

AA: 4-1, 3.20, 39.1 IP, 12 BB, 32 K.

Hector Correa was acquired on the eve of the 2009 season in one of the stranger trades Brian Sabean has made in his tenure as GM. The Giants had run out of roster room for Jack Taschner at the end of Spring Training so they shipped him to the Phillies for a pretty good reserve catcher in Ronny Paulino, only to immediately flip Paulino to the Florida Marlins for Hector Correa. Given that the Giants backup catcher in 2009, and ever since, was Eli Whiteside, gotta wonder if Sabes overthought that one and should have just kept Paulino.

Correa was a highly regarded prospect in the Marlins lower minors but had missed most of 2008 with shoulder issues. He then proceeded to make the trade look even worse by missing all of 2009 too after surgery. The worm is finally starting to turn on the trade, though, as Correa came back to have a pretty good 2010 season for low A Augusta and then sparkled at two levels in 2011. Baggs did an Organizational Report on him for BA in November and reported that his fastball was in the "mid-90s" and he combined it with a "plus-plus" changeup. The changeup allows him to be effective against LH batters allowing the Giants to stretch him out to 3 and 4 inning stints in Richmond. He could still be stretched all the way out to starter, but I have to say it's more likely he'll end up as a setup man or long reliever in the majors.

The Giants protected him from the Rule 5 draft by adding him to the 40 man MLB roster. I would think he'll start the 2012 season in Fresno, but there appears to be at least one opening in the Giants bullpen which he could challenge for in Spring Training.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Down on the Farm: #19 Josh Osich

#19 Josh Osich, LHP. 6'3", 225 lbs. BD: 9/3/1988.

College(Oregon State)- 6-4, 3.64, 76.2 IP, 34 BB, 79 K.

At one point around mid-season, Osich had more helium than any draft prospect out there. The Giants were thought to be scouting him heavily but there was some question whether he might get taken even earlier than where they were picking late in the first round. Osich was coming off TJ surgery and dominating the Pac 10 including a no-hitter against UCLA. Then, his season mysteriously unravelled amid rumors of recurrent arm problems. There was still some thought that he might go in the late first round depending on medical reports. In the end, he fell all the way to the 6'th round where the Giants finally grabbed him. They were reportedly still awaiting final medical reports as the draft commenced. The reports were reportedly positive.

When healthy, Osich has excellent command of a fastball that goes 93-94 MPH and can get up to 97 MPH. He also has an excellent changeup to keep hitters off balance. He also has a breaking ball, but didn't throw it until late last season as he was recovering from the TJ.

Osich is a tough guy to rank since so much depends on his health. Assuming he's healthy, some analysts think he will be fast-tracked as a reliever given his power repertoire, age and injury history. He has shown the ability to start for a major college program though and the Giants have plenty of other relief prospects. Again, if he's healthy I would expect to see him starting for San Jose next year. A front 3 of Kickham, Rosin and Osich would be quite the sight to see and would give the Giants a nice 3-pack of high ceiling breakout SP candidates.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Down on the Farm: #18 Seth Rosin

#18 Seth Rosin, RHP. 6'5", 235 lbs. BD: 11/2/1988.

Low A: 2-3, 3.34, 89 IP, 30 BB, 93 K's.

AFL: 0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 4 BB 9 K's.

There is still a lot of head scratching going on in the baseball stats oriented community about how the Giants can have a bunch of flyball pitchers and still consistently be one of the best teams in baseball at not giving up HR's. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs noticed that the trend seems to date back to Dave Righetti becoming the pitching coach. He even interviewed Rags who seemed to be baffled by the whole thing himself. Someone asked Matt Cain about it and Cainer professed to be unaware that any such stat existed! The most popular theory out there seems to be that the ballpark helps the Giants pitchers, even though it is only slightly favoring to pitchers and the phenomenon extends to road games based on split stats. More recently, Cameron has invoked "something in the air" in San Francisco and "whatever Rags is putting in the Kool Aid."

My own theory, based on years of watching Giants games on TV, each one accompanied by a Mike Krukow tutorial on the art and science of pitching, and the Giants stated philosophy for scouting pitchers, is that it boils down to two things: Fastball command and not giving in to hitters. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that if you analyzed PitchFx data, you'd find that an inordinately high percentage of HR's are given up on "mistake" pitches, breaking balls that hang and fastballs that get too close to the middle of the plate. Well thrown fastballs located properly do not leave the park. As a group, Giants pitchers command the fastball better than other teams and they don't give in and throw it down the middle of the plate in hitters counts. It's not that they are trying to walk batters or specifically prefer to walk batters than give up HR's, but they are also not afraid of walking batters because they think they will get them out and not walk them! Hope that makes sense!

What does all this have to do with Seth Rosin? Well, Seth Rosin just might have the best fastball command of any pitcher the Giants have drafted since, well, Madison Bumgarner. I first became aware of Seth Rosin during his junior year at Univ. of Minnesota where he struck out 95 batters and walked just 12, that's right 12, in 103 IP. Particularly impressive was a late season shutout of a Cal State Fullerton team that included Gary Brown and Christian Colon. Of course, Rosin also gave up 13 dingers in those 103 IP. Shows how much I know about all this! More on that later.

John Klima over at Baseball Prospect Report was really high on Rosin before the 2010 draft. I went back and re-read his scouting reports. Rosin is a big bodied pitcher who pounds the strike zone deep into games with both a 2 seam and 4 seam fastball that enables him to keep hitters from focusing their attention on one plane. He uses the 2 seamer to get called strikes and GB's and then climbs the ladder with the 4 seamer to get his K's. He particularly abused Christian Colon in the Fullerton game with the 4 seamer. He also can keep hitters off balance with a solid changeup, but his breaking ball is no more than a "show me" pitch. When he's starting, the FB goes 92-95 MPH. He can add another 2-3 MPH as a reliever making him a definite closer candidate if that's the direction the Giants want to go with him.

After re-reading Klima's scouting report, I'm less certain that Rosin should be a starter than I was. The lack of a breaking ball may be a deal breaker for starting and it may not be worth the time and distraction it would take to develop it. One solution would be to junk the breaking ball and add a cutter which gives you glove side movement and is easier to learn and easier to control than a conventional slider or curveball. In Fred Stanley's interview on sjgiants.com, it sounded like the Giants are leaning toward having Rosin start for San Jose in 2012.

Back to HR's. It is possible that in college Rosin was too focused on preventing walks and preferred to give in to hitters rather than walk them. Even though they collectively have great fastball command, Giants pitchers have always been among the league leaders in BB's allowed. My theory is that as long as there is an open base, Giants pitchers will not move to the middle of the plate when behind on hitters. Again, they are not trying to walk them. They are not so much afraid of giving up HR's either. They just are confident enough that they don't think they have to give in to the hitters. Rosin's walk rate in Augusta went up to 30 per 89 IP, still not bad, but quite a bit higher than 12 in 103 IP. Bingo! He only gave up 3 HR's in those 89 IP compared to 13 in 103 IP his last year of college.

Whether Seth Rosin is a future starter, which I still favor, or a future closer or setup man, I'm love him as a prospect and look forward to seeing him pitch for the San Jose Giants. He's yet another big time sleeper in the Giants system.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hot Stove Update: Ryan Vogelsong Signs Extension

Ryan Vogelsong's story is the type that gets passed down from one generation to another. I just finished reciting it to my daughter at dinner tonight. I'm thinking that someday they will pass it on to their children, or maybe I will tell their children myself and someday they will tell their grandchildren. It's that kind of story. It will probably get embellished in the retellings 60 years from now, but it's such a great story now I'm not sure it's possible to embelllish it.

Ryan Vogelsong was drafted by the Giants in the 5'th round in 1998. He pitched well in the minor leagues and got a September callup in 2000. I remember watching him pitch a couple of innings. He was a big kid with long arms and legs with a lively fastball and a sharp breaking slider. Dusty was impressed and said he thought Vogelsong was going to be a workhorse pitcher for the Giants for years to come. In 2001, he was traded in a package of players to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jason Schmidt in one of Brian Sabean's better trades. No sooner had Vogelsong arrived in the Pittsburgh organization when he suffered a UCL tear and underwent Tommy John surgery. He kicked around the Pirates organization for several years with several major league looks but not much success. Finally in 2007 he went to Japan where he pitched for the next 3 seasons.

Vogelsong always had good stuff. He just couldn't always throw it for strikes. Once in Japan, he discovered that the gaijin don't get any breaks from the umps over there. He had to not only get the ball over the plate, but he had to have enough on it to not get hammered. He also learned to have some equanimity about getting squeezed by the umps. By 2010, he was ready to try for a comeback in the U.S. He signed with the Phillies and pitched for Lehigh Valley, but was released mid-season. He hooked up with the Angels and finished the season with AAA Salt Lake and pitched creditably but not good enough to make anyone think he was going to make it back to the majors any time soon.

He went to pitch winter ball in Mexico as a minor league FA. There, his catcher was long time Giants farmhand and now minor league coach, Guillermo Rodriguez. Vogelsong had an idea. He wanted to complete what he started back in 1998 and pitch for the San Francisco Giants. He asked GRod to make a call on his behalf. The Giants did not respond with an offer. The Dodgers did make him an offer. Vogelsong went back to GRod and asked him to make one last call to the Giants. HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE A DODGER! This time, the Giants responded with a contract offer and Vogelsong accepted.

He pitched well in spring training but didn't make the 25 man roster. He accepted an assignment to Fresno and pitched well there too. He got the callup when Barry Zito went down with an injury. We all know the rest of the story. Vogelsong was nothing short of sensational. There were standing ovations as he walked off the field after another great start. His wife, who had encouraged him to continue following his dream cried in the stands watching him pitch. Nobody wanted Barry Zito to come back. When he finally did, it was Jonathan Sanchez who got sent down, not Vogelsong. He got named to the All-Star team and nobody thought he didn't deserve it. He won the Willie Mac Award.

There were lots of things to notice about Ryan Vogelsong last year. I'll tell you just one that sticks in my mind. I don't think I've ever seen a player with a sense of purpose about him in the dugout like Vogelsong had last year. On days he was pitching, he would set up his corner of the dugout like it was his office. He spread out the towels carefully, lined up his water bottles, he rarely sat down. From the minute he got back to the dugout after pitching his half of the inning, he would towel off, open a water bottle, talk to his catcher, talk to rags, then look out at the action on the field. You could see him gathering himself for the next trip out to the mound. And oh yeah, nobody looks better in a baseball uniform, especially a Giants baseball uniform.

Now, after all those years of struggling, all those years of his family pulling for him when it seemed like nobody else was, after staring at the possibility that he might end up leaving the game with nothing to show for it, Vogelsong has earned financial security for himself and his family. I honestly don't care what happens to him over the next two years the contract covers. Of course, I want him to do well and for the Giants to win, but if it doesn't happen, I will never begrudge the pay he gets over that time. Nobody, and I mean nobody in baseball deserves it more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Down on the Farm: #17 Mike Kickham

#17 Mike Kickham, LHP. 6'4", 205 lbs. BD: 12/12/1988.

Low A: 5-10, 4.11, 111.2 IP, 37 BB, 103 K's, GO/AO= 1.46.

Mike Kickham continued a pattern from college of posting peripheral numbers that look much better than his ERA. What's encouraging about Kickham's performance for Augusta is he got progressively stronger as the season went along. Over his last 10 starts, he went 4-5, 3.25, 55.1 IP, 13 BB, 40 K, GO/AO=2.36. He really turned it on over his last 6 starts starting August 5: 3-3, 2.23, 36.3 IP, 5 BB, 25 K.

Kickham obviously has great size for a lefthander, or any pitcher for that matter. His FB ranges from 90-94 MPH. He has 2 breaking balls and a changeup. The FB is most likely a 2 seamer as he keeps the ball on the ground and was putting up dominant GB numbers by the end of the season.

As a 22 yo college draftee, he was a bit old for low A. He'll likely move up to San Jose which is in a much more hitter friendly league so it will be a challenge. Based on his physical tools, impressive secondary stats and the improvement he showed last year, I think he will be up to the task and could be poised for a breakout season. Enough people are looking at him as a potential sleeper that he may not be a true sleeper, but yeah, he's a major sleeper with a ceiling that could eventually take him all the way to the mound in AT&T Park.

Down on the Farm: #16 Jarrett Parker

#16 Jarrett Parker, OF. 6'4", 210 lbs. BD: 1/1/1989. B-L, T-L

High A: .253/.360/.397, 25 2B, 13 HR, 20 SB, 5 CS in 486 AB.

Jarrett Parker has tools, all 5 in fact. He can hit, hit for power, run, throw and catch. After a fine sophomore season in college, he was projected as a potential first round draft pick, ahead of Gary Brown, among others, by some analysts. His stock slipped after a disappointing junior season. The Giants have made it a draft strategy to use non-first round single digit draft picks on formerly highly ranked players whose stock has fallen. The grabbed Parker in the second round of the 2010 draft after taking another toolsy college OF, Brown, in round 1.

SJ was Parker's first professional experience. He didn't have a bad season, but it wasn't a great one either. He started off slowly, hitting .211 in April, then caught fire and hit .282 and .299 in May and June, but tailed off considerably after the All-Star break hitting just .239 from then on.

If Parker's performance had been at the MLB level, it would have been quite valuable mainly due to his excellent OBP. The problem comes in trying to project him into the future from high A ball. Can a guy who hits .253 in high A ball hit above .220 at higher levels? If he can't, the low BA will drag all his other numbers down with it. Was the dropoff in the second half due to fatigue or did the Cal League pitchers get a book on him? Is the K rate an acceptable byproduct of his patience at the plate or does he take too many called strikes? Does his height make it too difficult for him to control the strike zone?

I saw Parker play in 3 games last year. He didn't look impressive at the plate. The one thing that stands out in my mind is a throw he unleashed from RF that rivals anything I've seen Nate do. What a cannon!

He'll be 23 yo this season and the Giants are hinting he may be back in San Jose. That doesn't bode well. Do you send a guy like this back to San Jose and hope he dominates or do you push him to AA and risk having him be overwhelmed? I'd lean toward pushing him. Parker is a hard guy to rank. He appears to have a high ceiling, but he's behind the curve age-wise and a risk to stall out early in his pro career.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Scouting the Draft: MLB Draft Guide's First Mock Draft

Matt Grabusky over at MLB Draft Guide, a site that has become my go-to site for draft information with the disappearance of Baseball Beginnings/Baseball Prospect Report, has put up his first Mock Draft for 2012. Just a few random comments:

I don't know if he was influenced by my comments on Lewis Brinson, but he has Brinson going to the Giants at #20. The Giants have occasionally taken toolsy HS players in the first round without a lot of success, or any success at all for that matter. Brinson does not particularly fill an organizational need either. On the other hand, I absolutely love what I've seen and read of this kid so far and would be very happy to see the Giants take him at #20. My comps for him would be the Uptons, Adam Jones and Chris Young. Getting a player like those guys with the #20 pick is doing pretty darn well. To me, I like Brinson about as much as Byron Buxton who is listed at #2 to the Twins, but you'd be getting Brinson for about 1/3 of the slot bonus.

Our white whale, Carlos Correa goes to the KC Royals at #5, so forget that.

Our reader who lives near Harvard-Westlake might want to go check out Lucas Giolito and Max Fried, righty-lefty pitchers who are slated to go #3 to the O's and #7 to the Pads respectively.

Jake Barrett, a hard throwing college RHP who might interest the Giants goes to the Cards at #23.

Victor Roache, the power hitting corner OF from Georgia Southern drops to the BrewCrew at #28. Roache is just so typical of a BrewCrew pick. If this happened in real life, we might have to pick someone up from the bottom of the stairs. LOL!

Travis Jankowski, who seems like a classic Giants pick, goes at #29 to the Rangers while Courtney Hawkins, a portly but athletic HS OF, goes to the Yanks at #29. Remember, the Yanks won't be able to go much above slot any more without some pretty stiff penalties, and not just monetary ones either.

Some names that didn't make the first round include Rio Ruiz, Javier Valentin-Diaz, Lucas Sims and Taylore Cherry.

Mock drafts change a lot as we get closer to the real draft, and even mock drafts on the eve of the draft seldom have more than a handful of correct picks. I love the idea of Brinson to the Giants at #20 but there are several players placed lower who I would be happy with too. I'm getting more and more confident that the Giants will get a very good player at a great value with the #20 draft pick in 2012. I'll say again that the players who should be available in the second half of the first round appear to be not that much different than what's available in the top 10 except their slot bonuses will be a fraction of what teams will have to pay to the higher picks. Good stuff!

Oh yeah, click on the link to the left and check out MLB Draft Guide!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Down on the Farm: #15 Adalberto Mejia

#15 Adalberto Mejia, LHP. 6'3", 195 lbs. BD: 6/20/1993.

DSL: 5-2, 1.42, 76 IP, 8 BB, 71 K.

Ordinarily, I list players from the DSL Giants in a separate group that I call Dominican Dandies. Adalberto Mejia just feels like enough of a special case that I'm listing him in the regular top 50 and fairly high at that. Mejia is one of a growing number of Giants international prospects signed to a mid-6 figure bonus, apparently on the theory that several of those are better than one 7 figure bonus. I have to say I subscribe to that theory myself.

Gotta love the size, perfect for a pitcher. Mejia dominated the DSL like nobody I can remember. The final stat line doesn't tell the half of it as he allowed 6 of the 10 total ER and 3 of the 8 total BB's he allowed all season in the last 2 games when he might have gotten a bit fatigued. Before that, he was simply magical.

I don't know much about Mejia's stuff. I think I've read he's in the low 90's with the fastball, obviously with great command. Not sure about the secondary stuff. The Giants brought him to the states for the fall instructional league. I expect to see him pitch in Arizona rookie ball next summer but with an outside shot at Low A Augusta.

Scouting the Draft: Lewis Brinson

I thought we'd take a break from running down the Giants top 50 prospects and take another peek at the 2012 draft in which the Giants hold the #20 overall pick. Since John Klima has gone on a longstanding hiatus(I hope he's not ill or something, but I wish he'd post some explanation), MLB Draft Guide linked over to the left is now my go-to site for draft information. Matt Grabusky just posted a profile of HS OF Lewis Brinson that has me even more convinced that this is a remarkably deep draft.

Brinson is a toolsy OF with tremendous size, 6'4", 180 lbs. He's got the speed and athleticism to play CF. On top of that, he knows how to play the game. In other words, he's toolsy, without the usually requisite rawness. His most common comp is Dexter Fowler. Not that Fowler has done all that much, but unfortunately for us Giants fans, I think Fowler still has a huge breakout in his future. What really caught my eye was that despite tons of room to fill out his frame, and despite all those tools and athleticism, Brinson won the Under Armour All American HR Derby!

What does this all have to do with the Giants and their 20'th pick? Probably nothing. Their experience with drafting toolsy HS OF's has been uniformly terrible and I doubt they go in that direction even if Brinson is available. But, the other big thing that got my attention is I don't see Brinson listed in most mock drafts and Grabusky has him ranked as his #12 OF. Now, Grabusky says he's definitely going to move him up and that Brinson is a likely first rounder, but in looking at the OF's ranked ahead of him now, moving him up is going to push some mighty good looking prospects down a notch. That doesn't even count what promises to be a remarkably strong SS class and a decent pitching class.

The Giants are going to get a really good player at #20 and probably another really good one in round 2! If it happens to be Brinson at #20, I would be very happy.

In a related note, SS prospect Carlos Correa reportedly unleashed a throw from the hole at the Perfect Game World Showcase that was clocked at 97 MPH!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Down on the Farm: #14 Jesus Galindo

#14 Jesus Galindo, OF. 5'11", 175 lbs. BD: 8/23/1990. B-S, T-R.

Short Season: .276/.353/.364, 9 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 47 SB, 8 CS, 25 BB, 46 K in 239 AB.

Jesus Galindo is a guy who spent 2 seasons in the DSL drawing a lot of walks and stealing a lot of bases, but struggling to keep his BA above .220. I guess you can walk off the island after all! The Giants surprisingly had him skip the Arizona League and start his USA experience in Salem-Keizer where he again struggled with his BA, hitting .212 in June. Then, he caught fire hitting .317 in July and .287 in August while continuing to maintain good walk rates.

Not only is he extremely fast, he is a hyperaggressive basestealer with his S-K manager Tom Treblehorn comparing him to Ricky Henderson in that regard. The Giants have had several guys like this in the system before, Marcus Sanders, Emmanuel Burriss, Antoan Richardson to name 3. They have all busted for one reason or another, mostly because they get overpowered at higher levels. Still, it's nice to dream about a future leadoff batter who makes drawing walks and getting on base a priority and then drives other teams crazy with blazing speed on the basepaths. Not sure if we'll see him in Augusta or SJ next season, but Jesus Galindo has made himself a prospect to watch. Gary Brown is the CF/leadoff batter of the future, but it's never a bad thing to have a great backup plan.

Down on the Farm: #13 Clayton Blackburn

#13 Clayton Blackburn, RHP. 6'3", 220 lbs. BD: 1/6/1993.

Rookie AZL: 3-1, 1.08, 33.1 IP, 3 BB, 30 K, GO/AO= 2.58.

The Giants may have come up with the value pick of the 2011 draft when they selected HS pitcher Clayton Blackburn in the 16'th round. No player, other than possibly Joe Panik, had a better professional debut. BA called him the best late round pick at or below slot and voted his debut as the 3'rd best for HS players behind Dante Bichette, Jr and Trevor Story, both position players.

Blackburn isn't a guy who is going to blow you away with 97 MPH fastballs. What he brings is advanced command of 4 pitches and an apparent advanced feel for pitching for a HS draftee. His strong groundball numbers would indicate his low 90's fastball is a two seamer with lots of sink. That he can put 3 other pitches with it and still only walk a batter every 11 innings is downright startling. In Baggs Q/A for BA he said, "The Giants really like the fact that he's so poised and around the plate with 4 pitches.." John Sickels at minorleagueball.com ranked Blackburn at #11 in the Giants system noting that he showed "excellent command" and "above average velocity." It seems like maybe he just go overlooked coming out of Oklahoma the same year as Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley.

I was able to find one video on Google which is mostly a postgame interview after he pitched a 1-0 shutout in HS, but it does show some footage. He certainly looks like the prototype of what the Giants seem to look for in RHP's. Yes, he looks a lot like Matt Cain out there. There's also a TwitVid of him crushing a golf ball with a driver. He certainly seems like he isn't going to be shy around the press either.

As a HS draftee, I would expect to see him start the season in Low A and probably stay there all year. I would think with his repertoire the Giants would develop him as a starter.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Down on the Farm: #12 Ricky Oropesa

#12 Ricky Oropesa, 1B. 6'3", 225 lbs. BD: 12/15/1989. B-L, T-R.

2011 College(USC): .322/.402/.481, 7 HR, 29 BB, 46 K in 208 AB.

2010 College(USC): .353/.434/.711, 20 HR, 7 SB, 33 BB, 51 K in 235 AB.

2009 College(USC): .314/.385/.578, 13 HR, 23 BB, 46 K in 185 AB.a

2010 Cape Cod League: .222 with 7 HR's, 24 BB, 52 K's in 153 AB's.

I've said it several times before, but I'll say it again here. I work with Ricky's mom and have been a huge fan since he was a junior in HS, so I am definitely not unbiased here. Ricky comes from an athletic family. His dad stands 6'5" and played some football at UCLA. His paternal grandfather ran track in Cuba. His maternal grandfather was a boxer in the Philippines.

I don't remember exactly how I first learned of Ricky's baseball prowess. Somehow I got to talking to his mom about local HS baseball and mentioned that I had read about Isaac Galloway as a highly rated local player. She told me she knew Isaac and his family and told me about her son who played in the same HS league. I looked up Ricky's stats and was immediately impressed by his combination of BA/OBP and power. I told his mom that the scouts might be in love with Isaac's speed but I though Ricky looked like a better prospect based on his stats. She seemed to know the families of quite a few southern California prospects, Galloway, Matt Dominguez, Mike Moustakas, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Hicks. We started comparing scouting reports and other bits of information we picked up as Ricky's career progressed.

Ricky chose to accept his scholarship to USC rather than signing with the Red Sox as a 24'th round pick back in 2008. He almost immediately became the best hitter on a rather weak SC team. He had a huge breakout his sophomore campaign hitting 20 HR's. He then led the Cape Cod League in HR's although he struggled to a .222 BA and struck out at about a 30% clip. He was poised to be a late first round draft pick and it was not unthinkable that he might break Mark McGwire's USC career HR record going into his junior year.

It's easy to dismiss Ricky's dropoff in power his junior year to the BBCOR bats. There is more to the story though. There was no BBCOR bat available in Ricky's preferred size of 35" for the first several weeks of the season. In addition, USC had a new head coach who wanted Ricky to take more of a level, line drive swing than the uppercut he was used to. The result was some decent numbers, but disappointing in light of his huge junior season.

Ricky and his family knew the Giants were interested. I am told that the Giants Scouting Director(I assume John Barr, although I haven't heard his name specifically) was in attendance when Ricky took Gerrit Cole deep late in the season. Ricky was alerted by Scott Boras that he might get a call from the Giants in the second round. The Giants went with Andrew Susac when he became available in round 2, but then Ricky was still on the board in round 3 and the Giants grabbed him. The pick continued the Giants trend of using the single digit non-first round picks on formerly highly ranked players whose stock dropped for whatever reason.

Ricky has a strong throwing arm and pitched some in HS and as a freshman in college. He is not going to steal bases but neither is he a slow runner. There have been several half-hearted attempts to move him to 3B and even the OF, but he's always ended up back at 1B. I think he has to tools to be a 3B or corner OF, but we need to consider him a first baseman for now. I am so darn excited to see him start his professional career in the Giants organization. I'm hoping they start him out in San Jose where he would be part of a "murderer's row" lineup with Panik, Susac and Duvall.

Down on the Farm: #11 Chris Dominguez

#11 Chris Dominguez, 3B. 6'3", 215 lbs. BD: 11/22/1986. B-R, T-R.

High A: .291/.337/.465, 10 2B, 11 HR, 8 SB in 258 AB.

AA: .244/.272/.403, 22 2B, 7 HR in 295 AB.

My lasting recollection of Chris Dominguez from the SJ Giants game I saw early last year in Lake Elsinore is not so much the 2 HR's he hit in the game, but his physical presence. Chris is a big man, but he looks even bigger on the field. I mean, he really did look like a man playing with a bunch of boys out there. Chris Dominguez is a bit of an enigma in the making. I don't think anyone in the GIants system has more raw power, including Tommy Joseph. The big question is whether Chris will ever make enough contact to harness that power.

His numbers held up very well through the first half of the season in San Jose. After his promotion, he started out like a house afire in AA going .314/.333/.647 in his first 13 games. He then went into a deep slump hitting .218 in July before rebounding to a .257 BA in August.

Chris boasts a plus-plus arm, and could probably pitch if he had to. His range at 3B is limited but he can play 2 steps farther back because of that arm. He has shown the ability to make incremental adjustments at the plate going all the way back to college, but the progress has been slow at times and at 25 yo, he isn't getting any younger. Still, power hitters often develop more slowly and Dominguez power is something that is worth being patient with. The Giants could consider his half season at AA to be a jump-start on 2012 and send him back to Richmond. With Pablo esconced at 3B in SF, there is certainly no reason to rush. Gillaspie will likely still be in Fresno, so that scenario probably makes the most sense. They could also push him to Fresno and make Gillaspie more of a utility player. In that scenario, I wouldn't be shocked if Chris had a huge breakout in the more hitter friendly PCL.

If Pablo Sandoval stays in shape and continues to grow as a player and the Giants sign him to a long term contract, there might not be a place in SF for Chris Dominguez. He might then become trade bait for a team looking for a Mark Reynolds type 3B, a guy who hits for a low BA, strikes out a ton but hits a ton of HR's. On the other hand, you never know. Pablo might get too expensive to keep or he might fall off the fitness wagon. It never hurts to have options in the system.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Down on the Farm: #10 Ehire Adrianza

#10 Ehire Adrianza, SS. 6'0", 170 lbs. BD: 8/21/1989. B-S, T-R.

Low A: .231/.315/.378, 10 2B, 3 HR, 18 BB, 32 K in 143 AB.

High A: .300/.375/470, 24 2B, 3 HR, 23 BB, 46 K in 230 AB.

VWL: .234/.282/.338 in 77 AB.

Giants fans know as well as anyone just how hard it can be to find a SS who can field the position at all, let alone field it well. Ehire Adrianza is an exceptional fielder at SS automatically making him a prospect no matter what he hits. On the surface, it's easy to dismiss Adrianza as a hitter, but when you dig down a bit, there is reason for optimism.

He got a late start on 2011 due to a torn thumb ligament in his left hand that required surgery near the end of spring training. His weak numbers in Low A are most likely due to a residual from that injury. Once he got back to San Jose, Adrianza had a nice little season hitting .300 with doubles power. He's always been a patient hitter, especially for someone with limited power maintaining walk rates between 8.8% and 11.1% over his minor league career. He's always had some doubles power with 100 XBH's out of 335 minor league hits.

Although he is on the thin side, to my eye he has room to fill out his frame. I think he could well be a late bloomer for power and the fundamentals are already there. The logical next step for him would be to start 2012 in Richmond which will be a stiff test. If he keeps his head above water there, he's a legit MLB prospect.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Down on the Farm: #9 Hector Sanchez

#9 Hector Sanchez, C. 5'11", 235 lbs. BD: 11/19/1989. B-S, T-R.

High A: .302/.338/.533, 11 HR in 212 AB.

AAA: .261/.315/.34 in 153 AB.

MLB: .258/.324/.323 in 31 AB.

Hector Sanchez has been a favorite of dedicated Giants prospect watchers ever since he put up a line of .286/.401/.471 as a 17 yo in the DSL in 2007. Since then, he's worked his way slowly up the ladder putting up .400+ OBP's in each of his first 3 professional seasons. His numbers tailed off a bit in Augusta in 2010 but then he broke out in San Jose to begin 2012. When Buster Posey went down with his injury, and Eli Whiteside obviously hurting the team, the Giants jumped Hector all the say to Fresno where he held his own and got a callup to the big club. I don't know about you folks, but to my eye, he turned in some mighty impressive AB's for the Giants. One in particular sticks in my mind where he worked to count to 3-2 and then banged one up the middle for a hard single. All in all, he looked like a confident game caller and a confident batter who just needs a bit more seasoning. He caught Barry Zito in Fresno and drew rave reviews from Zito himself for taking charge of the high priced veteran's games. For those who say he doesn't walk enough, I keep harking back to his 3 consecutive .400+ OBP's. Just let him get his feet on the ground. He's gonna draw walks!

Baggs has projected him to be a career backup catcher. I say that is his absolute floor. Unless he can't control his weight and eats himself out of the league, I think it's much more likely that he has a career as a starting catcher. He's more than adequate on defense and that switch-hitting bat is so valuable from that position. I think he'll start the season in Fresno. I'd like to see him and Johnny Monell in a catching tandem there. Not sure what Whiteside adds to the equation.

Down on the Farm: #8 Eric Surkamp

#8 Eric Surkamp, LHP. 6'4", 190 lbs. BD: 7/16/1987.

AA: 10-4, 2.02, 142.1 IP, 44 BB, 165 K, GO/AO= 0.97.

High A: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 BB, 5 K's.

MLB: 2-2, 5.74, 26.2 IP, 17 BB, 13 K's.

This is more of a proximity ranking than ceiling ranking. The Giants have several pitchers in their system who probably have higher ceilings than Eric Surkamp, but none who are closer to a MLB callup. Surkamp moved up a level to AA and dominated it. He then got rushed up to the majors when both Zito and Sanchez got hurt and the Giants needed a 5'th starter. He didn't fare as well in the show. His first couple of games were OK, but then he lost control of the strike zone and got pounded.

Surkamp's fastball was about what I expected, high 80's with an occasional 90 MPH. I have to say I was disappointed in the curveball. I was expecting something along the lines of Zito's, but Surkamp's is much tighter and flatter. I'm just not sure it's the stand alone plus pitch I had envisioned from reports. He also is reputed to have the best changeup in the Giants system, but I didn't see anything to bring back memories of Noah Lowry's MLB debut.

I think Surkamp has enough stuff that if he commands it better and mixes his pitches right, he can be a solid #4 or #5 starter in the majors. He should start the 2012 season in AAA which will give him a challenge to polish up his repertoire and hopefully have more confidence the next time he gets a chance in the show.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Down on the Farm: #7 Andrew Susac

#7 Andrew Susac, C. 6'1", 200 lbs. BD: 3/22/1990.

College: .298/.429/.525, 9 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR in 141 AB.

Cape Cod League(2010): .290 with 6 2B, 5 HR, 13 BB, 25 K in 100 AB.

Andrew Susac grew up a Giants fan in the Sacramento area. He was drafted out of HS and turned down a $200 K bonus to play for Oregon State. Andrew missed part of his junior season with a hamate fracture but came back to play before the season ended. He was widely seen as a potential first rounder before the injury that probably dropped his stock. Under John Barr, the Giants have made it a strategy to use high non-first round picks on formerly highly ranked players whose stock drops for some reason. Sure enough, when Susac fell to them in round 2, they grabbed him with the #86 overall pick. He signed too late to get into any pro games but Baggs reports that he impressed in instructionals in the fall.

Susac is reportedly a solid all-around defensive catcher who can "shut down a running game." He hits for power using a high leg kick with excellent backspin. He's a puller, so could be vulnerable to good breaking stuff. John Klima was a bit worried about a drop in his hands before starting his swing. Looking at his scouting video myself, I've seen worse hand drops than that, so I don't know how much of a problem that might turn out to be. There are plenty of scouting videos out there on him if you just do a video google. There is one where he really puts a charge into one with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League. Again, there may be a slight hand drop, but it looks to me like it's more of just bringing his hands into a comfortable swinging position rather than any kind of hitch in his swing.

I would project him to be the starting catcher for San Jose in 2012 and we'll see what the Giants have here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Down on the Farm: #6 Kyle Crick

#6 Kyle Crick, RHP. 6'4", 220 lbs. BD: 11/30/1992.

Rookie AZL: 1-0, 6.43, 7 IP, 8 BB, 8 K's.

In a banner year for HS RHP's in the draft, Kyle Crick kind of got lost in the shuffle a bit. The Giants didn't lose track of him though and grabbed him in the supplemental first round. A big, strong kid, he fits perfectly into the mold of Matt Cain and Zack Wheeler, 2 HS RHP's who preceded him as first round Giants draftees. He also fits the mold of RHP's from the state of Texas.

Crick was a first baseman until after his junior year in high school. He decided he should think about pitching when he regularly hit 94 MPH on the showcase circuit. He was able to dial it up to 97 during his senior year. He already has a bit of a slider and a curveball that has a nice downward drop. He is also working on a changeup and splitter. There are a few scouting videos available on the internet. I suggest you look them up. His leg kick is reminiscent of Cains. I don't think he rocks back quite a far. He's got a quick power delivery with moderate effort and some recoil at the end. He's reportedly still learning to get everything moving toward the plate.

He appeared in 7 games starting July 20 in Rookie ball with inconsistent results in only 7 IP. He will start the 2012 campaign with instructional league under his belt. If he follows the typical path of Giants high round HS draft picks, he will play next season for Augusta in Low A ball. He did have a fairly high walk rate in HS.

Here are some things said about him that I was able to find around the internet:

Baggs in his BA scouting report: "....has every bit as much projection as Matt Cain did nearly a decade ago." "Crick is the best power arm in a system that usually knows what to do with them. He has the ceiling of a #2 starter."

John Klima: "Kyle Crick is going to go good if I know anything. Not sure how you would find something not to like in this look."

This was a very deep draft. After reading up on Crick and looking at his scouting videos, I think the Giants got a better prospect than any of the guys who were bandied about as potential first round picks, Dillon Howard, Robert Stephenson, Jose Fernandez or Joe Ross who were all drafted before the Giants turn at #29. I'm not sure how you would separate him talentwise from Matt Cain and Zack Wheeler at the same stage of their careers.

Rather than saying the Giants system must be weak if Gary Brown and Joe Panik are the top 2 prospects, I'm going to say it must be pretty strong if a talent like Kyle Crick is sitting at #6 or in BA's case, #8.

Down on the Farm: #5 Francisco Peguero

#5 Francisco Peguero, OF. 5'11", 195 lbs. BD: 6/1/1988. B-R, T-R.

High A: .324/.387/.441, 2 HR, 4 SB in 68 AB.

AA: .309/.318/.446, 12 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 8 SB, 1 CS in 285 AB.

DWL: .264/.312/.345 in 87 AB.

Francisco Peguero is a perfect example of how you get a divergence of opinion between scouting oriented vs stats oriented analyists. In his BA write up, Baggs called him "the most tooled up player in the system." Peguero is the classic "tools" prospect. He has a great hit tool. He runs well enough to steal a lot of bases and cover CF. He catches the ball once he gets to it. He has a strong enough arm to gun down runners from RF. He has projectable power, although we haven't really seen it yet. So what keeps Peguero from being the top rated prospect in the Giants system? Well, there's the power that hasn't displayed itself yet, but when the stats oriented analysts look at his lines, they stop at one item, throw up their hands. and say, "he's never going to amount to anything." That one item? BB%! Peguero is a very aggressive hitter and just never walks. That's the death knell for most sabermetric oriented prospect evaluators.

Now, I'm somewhat stats oriented myself. I'm certainly no baseball scout, although I'm trying to learn something about what scouts look for in a player. I just don't happen to necessarily buy into all the statistical dogma that's out there. To quote Bob Seger: "Call me a relic, call me what you will. Say I'm old fashioned, say I'm over the hill." As I've said many times, BA is still the first stat I look at when evaluating a prospect. It's not that I don't also value the ability to draw a walk or hit for power. I just don't think that a prospect who can't hit for average in the minor leagues is going to be able to stay much above the Mendoza Line in the majors. I'll put up 3 hypothetical batting lines:

Player A: .300/.315/.450.

Player B: .300/.360/.450.

Player C: .260/.360/.450.

If we are looking at established MLB players, yes, I'll take Player C as the guy who gives you the most offensive value. He gets on base at the same rate as Player B and hits for a lot more power. Player A would be the least valuable of the 3 at the MLB level. Let's say these are 3 AA players? Does that make a difference in which one you would pick? It definitely does for me. I believe that if Player C hits for a .260 BA in AA, he's going to have a heckuva time keeping his BA above .220 in the majors and all the other numbers in the line drop along with it to the point where he really isn't a very valuable player anymore. Anthony Rizzo of the Padres would be a perfect example and why I said the Padres did not get enough back in the AGone trade back when it was made. Given the choice between player A and Player B, yes, I would take Player B too. That's why I have both Brown and Panik ranked higher than Peguero despite Peguero having arguably equal or better tools. Given the choice between Player A and Player C though, I would definitely take player A, especially if he scouts well. I believe most sabermetric analysts would take Player C though, no matter what the scouts say, and that's where the divergence comes.

Francisco Peguero started out last season on the DL for arthroscopic surgery on his knee. That may have slowed him down a bit after he came back, but he still put up a fine season. Baggs reports that by the end of the season, Pegs was running normally and looked like his old self. There just aren't very many hitters who hit .300+ in the Eastern League, so count me as impressed by that. Pegs should move up to Fresno in 2012 which is a much more conducive hitting environment. He will have to learn to deal with those crafty AAA pitchers though. He will turn 24 yo mid-season so is starting to run out of time. He should have a big year in Fresno and be ready for a callup mid-late season and ready to challenge for an MLB gig in 2013. He has a very wiry body type and I see him still gaining power, but he may turn into too much of a "tweener". Brown is clearly the CF of the future for the Giants and Pegs might not hit for enough power to stick as a corner guy. I wouldn't be shocked if he's moved in a trade package at some point.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Down on the Farm: #4 Heath Hembree

#4 Heath Hembree, RHP. 6'4", 205 lbs. BD: 1/13/1989.

High A: 0-0, 0.73, 24.2 IP, 12 BB, 44 K, 21 Saves.

AA: 1-1, 2.83, 28.2 IP, 13 BB, 34 K, 17 Saves.

Heath Hembree's stock rose pretty dramatically too in 2011. In his first full season, he got on the closer track and rode it all the way up to AA. He overpowered hitters in both the Cal League and Eastern League with an explosive FB that sat at 96 MPH the day I saw him early in the season. I've read reports of him hitting 98-99 MPH at times. According to Baggs' write up in BA, he has a slider with the makings of a plus pitch, but his changeup is a work in progress. Hembree is a strikeout pitcher who likes to work up the the zone as evidenced by a GO/AO= 0.55. He tends to "climb the ladder" with the FB.

Hembree didn't have much a a college career pitching for 3 different schools. He's one of those scouting finds the Giants have become somewhat famous for. They grabbed him in the 5'th round of the 2010 draft.

As some of you know, I am not a big fan of the "closer track". Yes, it allows for rapid ascent in the system, but it also doesn't challenge pitchers to develop secondary stuff nor does it give them the time. Hembree may have the stuff to take it all the way to the majors, or maybe he can still develop his secondary stuff while closing in the minors. At some point you have to think MLB hitters are going to catch up with him if he isn't able to throw them off balance just a bit. I expect to see Hembree esconced in the closer role with Fresno to start the season, but the Giants are going to have a bullpen slot available for the taking in spring training. I wouldn't be shocked to see Hembree sitting in the Giants bullpen come opening day.