Tuesday, January 8, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #21: Chris Heston

Chris Heston, RHP.  DOB:  4/10/1988.  6'4", 185 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

AA:  9-8, 2.24, 148.2 IP, 40 BB, 135 K, GO/AO= 1.63, 2 HR allowed.

Chris Heston was the Giants 12'th round draft pick in 2009.  He has worked his way up the organizational ladder 1 level at a time and in the process lowered his ERA each season:  2009 AZL- 4.11, Low A- 3.75, high A- 3.16, AA- 2.24.  At the same time, his K and BB ratios have remained remarkably stable so some of the improvement in ERA is either due to luck or he has found ways to induce weaker contact.

Heston is not known for his velocity and describes his 4 pitch arsenal as sinker, slider, curve and change.  He gets very high marks for command and savvy.  He is the classic "pitchability" prospect.  His future success will hinge on his continued ability to put the ball on the ground, locate his pitches and mix his pitches effectively.

There are a couple of videos out there on Youtube including a hilarious one called Flying Squirrels Insider-Pitchers Camp.  Gotta look that one up!  Heston has a good looking pitcher's body.  He's a bit on the lanky side, but I have to say he looks bigger and stronger than the 185 lbs he's listed at.  I would say he reminds me somewhat of Ryan Vogelsong in general appearance.  As Tom Vessella says in the Squirrels video he does look great in a uniform!  His facial features are vaguely reminiscent of The Baby Giraffe, except better looking.

Next stop is AAA Fresno.  The PCL tends to be not kind to this type of pitcher because sinkers don't sink and breaking balls don't break in a lot of the PCL stadiums.  He does well, though, and he could be ready for a midseason callup in case he is needed at the MLB level.


  1. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130108/hall-of-fame-ballot-steroids-mark-mcgwire-barry-bonds-roger-clemens/?sct=uk_t11_a4

    sorry to go ot, but tomorrow, the protectors of the faith will announce that they have chosen not to induct bonds, clemens and others into the hof. the above article is from one of these protectors explaining exactly why he cannot bring himself to vote to those who used peds.

    not going to get into the whole roids issue...you guys can read the comments and see how verducci is shown for the hypocrite that he is...just wanted to point out an article of his own that he links to


    tom wrote the above article in an attempt to show how roids destroyed players that used and those that didnt....but like all sports opinion writers, he couldnt see the forest for the trees. for his article really showed a developmental system that was such a joke, it of course drove some to attempt to take short cuts while chasing the dream.

    while some things have changed (teams are much more choosy regarding who is a host family) much has not...including leaving players to their own devices regarding training and some teams still trying to fit square pegs in round holes.

    verducci couldve done an entire series on how the minor league system needed reform...he couldve become a hero to an entire gen of players

    instead...he went along with the "roids is baaaad" crowd....and stayed the hack he has been lo these past 20 years

    tomorrow, these protectors of the faith will pound their chests and congratulate each other on a job well done....i will continue to use their fish wrap for toilet paper


    1. It's all just a very depressing topic. Clearly the HOF is in crisis over this. Several articles on Fangraphs with suggestions on how to reform the process. You can't simply ignore a whole era of MLB's best players nor can anyone be sure if any given player was a user or not. Remember how shocked everybody was when Ryan Braun was discovered? Personally, I don't see the "Steroids Era" as being fundamentally different than the deadball era vs live ball, or different heights of the mound. I also don't see it as cheating any more than throwing spitballs and other illegal pitches. In fact, once upon a time spitters were legal! I think they even let pitchers who relied on them to grandfather in and be allowed to continue using them.

      Anyway, hopefully we can get back to discussing Chris Heston here.

  2. How hard does Heston throw?

    Just for comparison, how fast did Reuter throw (he had the advantage of being a lefty though)? How about how fast did Maddox throw?

    I think people say Cain is a power pitcher, but he sits around 92. If so, how fast does a non-power pitcher throw typically?

    1. It is extremely hard to find velocity information about "soft tossers." It just isn't talked about like the guys who dial it up to the upper 90's. I missed Heston when he was pitching for SJ, so I also have no personal observation to call up. Based on everything I've read, I am surmising that he throws in the upper 80's. Bottom line: He's a guy who is going to have to make it by 1. Locating his pitches. 2. Keeping the ball on ground. 3. Mixing his pitches to keep hitters off balance and disrupt timing. It's not like nobody has ever been successful doing that before.

    2. Here is a rundown on Heston by Sickels: http://www.minorleagueball.com/2012/8/13/3239679/minor-league-prospect-note-chris-heston-rhp-san-francisco-giants-scouting-report

      His conclusion (Aug 2012): Heston has always pitched well, but scouts have been slow to give him his due. Lack of plus velocity is the culprit: he works in the mid-to-upper-80s. However, his fastball sinks, and he has three solid secondary pitches with a curve, slider, and changeup. His command is excellent and so far he's adapted to each level.

      Non-power pitchers are under 90 MPH, from what I've seen. Being a lefty is an advantage in that he is different, but because he throws in towards the RH hitter, the RH batter has the real advantage. His advantage comes usually from throwing to a hitter hitting the same side as he throws. Lefties often has the advantage when they know how to pitch so that they induce weak contact. These "crafty" lefties typically have terrible fast balls, but preys on the hitters relative to their off-speed pitches which are really slow (relatively) to other pitches.

      Reuter and Maddux did not have much of a fastball that I can recall, but I don't recall their speeds, unfortunately. Rueter never had any speed, if I recall right, while Maddux was average then declined with age, like all pitchers. Googling, Maddux appears to have started his career with OK velocity, low 90's which is not that unconmnmon, but gradually fell below 90 while staying effective in his performances.

      Cain, I think, is capable of more, but prefers to go with less to have more control over his pitch. Given that his career BABIP is much below the mean that everybody is suppose to regress to, it appears he has made the correct trade off.

    3. Thanks for the commnets.

      I feel a little better about my cautious optimism.

    4. Basically Heston is that prospect who has to prove himself at each level. It is nice that he struck out a lot, but that goes down with each level he rises, unless he raises his game too. We'll just have to wait and see for him at each level. But such great control is very encouraging to go with an OK strike rate, and as DrB noted, if he does well in spite of the negatives the PCL presents, he could be ready by mid-season.

    5. What separates a Lowry from a Pucetas (or Hennessey/Joe Martinez)? Which will Heston be more like? I wonder what does the Giants' FO thinks?

    6. The thing that separated Lowry from other "soft tossers" was an otherworldly changeup that just dropped off the table down and away from RH batters. Lowry's changeup might just be the best one I've ever seen.

  3. Dr B and others:
    What are your thoughts on Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame? Does he deserve to be there? Are PED's a good reason why a player should be denied the HOF?

    1. He should be in, not even close. I've seen nobody yet claim that steroids helps a hitter see the ball better and to hit it hard. All they talk about is body bulk, and there are 250 pound behemoths that hit lollipops while a lanky 180 pound stick with good wrist action can become the career leader in homeruns (Aaron; of course, he got legal cheating as the Braves brought in their fences, coincidentally enough, right when he was getting close and they brought them back out when he left the team and set the new record; why there was no outrage about that as the reason Ruth was beat, I don't know). Bonds was universally agreed to be a Hall of Famer before he reportedly started using. This non-vote is meant to be punitive.

      That's funny, I thought the Hall of Fame was suppose to celebratory, not an instrument of punishment.

      What makes it even more sad is that the writers have had over 20 years to get down to business and actually DO THEIR JOB as journalists. Eric Walker, of A's and Sinister Firstbaseman fame, keeps up a website to sell his baseball analytics service and, first, he discovered that the offensive era looks like it was caused by a juiced ball (http://highboskage.com/juiced-ball.shtml), and second, because people claimed he was wrong and started claiming steroids did certain things, he researched the heck out of it and concluded that steroids did very little to benefit baseball players (http://steroids-and-baseball.com/) and gave further evidence that the ball was juiced during that period. He did the investigative journalism that was necessary to show that steroids didn't do much of anything, instead of copying the "journalists" who just spread the same misconceptions that another "journalists" claimed was true. Read through his steroid's website, look at all the associated subsites that cite even more things in detail (http://steroids-and-baseball.com/changing-baseball.shtml http://steroids-and-baseball.com/actual-effects.shtml http://steroids-and-baseball.com/medical-effects.shtml http://steroids-and-baseball.com/healing-effects.shtml http://steroids-and-baseball.com/ethical-issues.shtml http://steroids-and-baseball.com/role-models.shtml ). Makes a very strong case that the general public, including reporters, got it all wrong, yes, they might have cheated (definition slippery), definitely took something illegal, but it apparently didn't help players out that much in performing better.

      In other words, whatever PEDs players might have used were not much better than a placebo. They cheated with today's version of snake oil. They are no different from the Asians today who eat rhino horns, thinking that would give their bodies some sort of boost.

      Journalists could have done this type of investigative journalism work long ago, not some OCD baseball analyst, if they were really interested in the truth and not in a witch hunt. Here is how I view this: the writers felt greatly embarrassed by the steroids era because they did nothing while it was going on, and thus many of them feel the need to punish the players who used or allegedly used PEDs. When, really, they should be embarrassed twice over now, first for not only missing the steroids rise, but really, overlooking it, it is not like it is a shock, McGwire was suspected of using long ago, yet no reporter ever thought of investigating him closely, and second for spreading false "truths" about steroids, and then taking their anger out on star players like Bonds and Clemens, and really, since nobody got in this year, all players, as there were players who appeared clean and who should get in, like Biggio. They should be ashamed.

    2. I think Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame for the following reasons:

      1. Many of the best players from that era have either been proven to use PED's or are strongly suspected. The HOF cannot write off an entire era of baseball and maintain credibility as a true HOF.

      2. It is likely that during the time Bonds was using(which, BTW has never been proven), that at least half of all ballplayers were using, including pitchers, which means the playing field was fairly level within the era.

      3. I could be wrong on this, but I believe MLB had no rule against use of PED's and certainly no testing system during the "Steroids Era." How is this a different situation than pitchers who pitched when spitballs were allowed?

      4. Like ogc, I believe there is more evidence that PED's do not improve performance than evidence that they do. I mean, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were not big men. They almost certainly did not use steroids and players from that era did not believe in strength training. Yet, those two somehow managed to hit over 1400 HR's between them. Conversely, there are tons of big guys with big muscles who can't hit their way out of a paper bag.

      5. There has never been equality of statistics between different baseball era's for many reasons that have nothing to do with PED's.

      BTW, I also believe Pete Rose should be in the HOF, but banned from employment in MLB. Ignoring the things he did on the field as a player is a detriment to the credibility of the HOF.

    3. I have been saying the exact same about Pete Rose too. Except that I would ban him from any management role. I am fine with him being a special consultant (codeword for iconic glad hander, greeter, representative) where he does meet and greets with the public and be an ambassador to the game. You can't keep the hits leader out and be a credible HOF. They are laughable until he is in.

  4. OT: article on Crick on Fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/kyle-crick-and-building-the-scouting-profile/

    1. OT: Article on Clayton Blackburn here: