Thursday, January 10, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #23: Shawn Payne

Shawn Payne, OF.  DOB:  7/13/1989.  6'1", 190 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Low A:  .309/.413/.430, 6 HR, 53 SB, 3 CS in 405 AB.

High A:  .333/.333/.444, 2B in 9 AB.

Shawn Payne is a player I think a lot of Giants prospect watchers are rooting for to make it to the show.  He was drafted in the 35'th round out of Georgia Southern in 2011 after putting up a line of .314/.432/.504, 6 HR, 33 SB, 3 CS in 242 AB.  He was assigned to Salem-Keizer that summer and hit .306/.431/.394, 21 SB, 6 CS in 160 AB.  You put his college and pro numbers together from 2011 and it's pretty much identical to what he did in Augusta in 2012.

What stands out about his stat lines is the incredible walk rates on top of a solid BA and the excellent SB with very few CS.  He appears to have just enough power to keep pitchers honest.  In other words, the kind of hitter you dream about having at the top of your lineup.

The big downside is age vs level.  I'm still not sure why Payne was assigned to Augusta and not San Jose, and I'm even less sure why he did not receive a mid-season promotion.  Maybe coming out of a lesser college conference led the Giants to be more conservative with him than someone coming out of a major conference like the Pac 12 or SEC or ACC?  At least he finally got in a couple of games at the end of the season.  I would expect him to be assigned to San Jose in 2013 and look forward to seeing him play.


  1. Frankly, given his age, he didn't do all that well, 843 OPS is not really that good period, and in particularly given his age, already 22 YO season, turning 23 in July. He would have needed to probably get into the 900's to get a promotion.

    Also, I have to think that they might have wanted him to stay near home, relatively, and ease his way into the pros. That would explain why Augusta and not San Jose.

    Also, there was Sabean's comments about rushing players. I think that failures prove to be a heavy load for some players and it is kind of like fishing, once he's hooked you reel in and let go, reel in and let go. So they want to build up his confidence some before crushing like a bug in a higher level. So they held him back, kind of like how some parents hold back their kids one year, to help him adjust and mature a little.

    And that's OK. He is not a top prospect. He's probably going to have to prove himself at every level, but with that great walk rate and stolen base rate, I think there is the potential for a big breakout at some point. As noted by DrB, he has some power, though that is not a lot to me. But with his good eye, maybe with some more instruction, he can start utilizing his good command of the strike zone.

    However, his contact rate was not the best, 82% (want at least 85%) and he's average age for the league. If he were young for the league that might explain why it's on the low side.

    But still, close enough that there should be good hope that he might figure things up as he gets more acclimated to the pros, get more pro training, get to work on things during the off-season. And the good news is that he hit .300 while commanding the plate pretty well overall (61 walks to 71 strikeouts is very good).

    I know a lot of prospect hounds were high on him, and I think I see why now. He was 7th in the league in OBP, and I think that bodes well for the future. Only 31st in OPS, and that's the cloud, whether he can continue to hit for some power, or if he will peter out like Burriss did. But his stolen base success rate is so phenomenal, he could have an excellent career as a bench player at minimum, with his ability to get on base and steal a base, the power isn't as necessary.

    1. I agree with you on most things, ogc, but I totally reject that kind of dogmatic absolutism about OPS and age vs league. OPS is highly dependent on SLG% and Payne is simply not the type of hitter who is going to put up .500+ SLG%'s. A leadoff hitter who can maintain a .300+ BA with that kind of walk rate and that kind of success rate on steals doesn't need to slug all that much to be a huge asset. All he has to do is hit for enough power to keep pitchers from throwing it down the middle of the plate and taking away his ability to draw walks. Payne has shown enough power to do that. As for the Burriss comp, Burriss never came close to hitting 6 HR in a season.

      I agree he was old for low A. It's a factor in the rankings. If he was a year or two younger, I probably would have ranked him up in the low teens or even into the single digits! His numbers are that impressive to me. I think he should have been promoted faster. I agree that at his age you get what you see. He's not going to suddenly fill out his frame and hit 20 HR's, but he doesn't have to. What he needs to do is show he can keep doing what he is doing at higher levels. We'll see if he can do that or not.

    2. Sorry I didn't explain myself correctly. I mostly agree with what you said here.

      I did not intend to express dogmatic absolutism about OPS and age and league. I'm not saying that he won't ever be a useful player in the majors. What I was trying to say is that he didn't really do that well in Augusta given his age, so it can go either way in terms of promotion or not. The Giants could make a case for keeping him down.

      Also, the Giants seem to be more conservative about that. I would have promoted a number of prospects that they held back, like Ishikawa after his first season in AA. He actually hit well on the road, but his home in Connecticut just killed his overall numbers. He tanked/sulked/was depressed by having to return, given how poorly he hit the next season and how well he hit the year after. I think the Giants didn't realize how much Dodd Stadium was getting into the heads of their prospects at that point.

      Together, it makes sense that the Giants didn't promote him. Another similar example is Brown's season in San Jose. That's what I was trying to convey, the Giants thinking process. I probably would have promoted him too, but I think he didn't hit well enough to make it a no-brainer to promote him, it could go either way.

      I agree that he does not have to slug that much. But as you know, a 400 SLG in low A don't translate to 400 SLG in AA, AAA, or MLB.

      I agree that he looks like he might be able to maintain a .300-ish BA - we both are old-timers in that we still believe in that stat (sabers go too far in dismissing the stat) - with that great walk rate and assuming some growth and learning as he gain more experience. Together, I think we agree, auger well for him producing a strong OBP in the majors and combining with his great ability to steal, would be great for a leadoff hitter that he's profiling as.

      Fair enough about Burriss, my memory of his power was off. I see he has more power than Burriss, but again, a 121 ISO in low A don't translate as you reach the highest levels. The average for the league is 126, so he is around average, so that is OK. Still, I think that will be a challenge for him as he rises. I wasn't asking for 20 HR, I was just trying to explain why the Giants might keep Payne in Augusta versus promoting him, and I think the SLG/OPS was part of it, that and the hometown/getting comfortable being a pro.

      I agree that his OBP and walks are amazing and impressive. I could have went either way on promotion, though I lean towards more aggressive promotions, to see what he can do. In any case, he will need to prove himself at every level. And that's OK.

    3. I guess what's sticking in my craw is how you keep saying "...he really didn't do that well..." Really? Since when is a BA of .300+ combined with a tremendous walk rate and a ton of SB's not doing "that well?" You seem to be saying he needed a higher SLG% that would be necessary to get his OPS above that .900 line you seem to have laid out as the bar to get over. Well, Payne is just not the type of player who is ever going to slug .500 which is what he would have to do to get his OPS above .900. If that's what it takes to get promoted, then he's never going to be promoted! I just don't think that SLG% or OPS is a relevant measure when it comes to players with Payne's skillset, so why even bring it up? All he needs is enough power to keep pitchers from pouring the ball down the middle of the plate and daring him to hit it. He's got more than enough for that.

      Contrary to "not doing that well," I believe Payne had an excellent season at Augusta and should have received a promotion to SJ much earlier than he did. It's all good though. If Payne is as good as I think he is, he will eventually get his shot at MLB.

    4. The "....he really didn't do that well..." just comes across as dismissive to me and I really don't think Payne had a performanced that should be brushed aside like that.

    5. I am curious if Payne could handle 2B. He played in HS and JC. He will not be a CF at the next level. But he has speed, maybe he doesn't have the range. He went to the same HS as Brandon Phillips and he openly admits that Philips is his idol.

      Enough pop to keep pitchers honest and who knows, maybe something fills in. I like Payne a ton. That SB/CS ratio is a gem.

    6. First, the context of my statement is that he didn't hit high enough to earn a promotion mid-season. Mid-800 OPS usually is not a performance that gets rewarded with a mid-season promotion.

      And yes, I see your point about it being dismissive, but my point was within the context of the question "why didn't he get promoted mid-season?" It is dismissive in that context.

      And it is good. It just was not good enough, at least for the Giants. I view it as borderline. Given that we both agree that leadoff, getting on base, and stealing bases is his forte, he looked like he solved that issue already and could have been promoted. Hence why I noted I probably would have promoted him mid-season, as you thought too.

      But I can see why the Giants didn't promote him. At his age, if he is a good prospect, he should be hitting the balls where they ain't, for a high .300 average. He did not. He should have been making mistakes pay for him with extra-base hits. He did show some power, but not that much, basically average ISO for the league, and he was old for the league.

      That said, he did well enough that the Giants will promote him for next season. There is just a higher bar for a prospect to jump to another league, at least from what I've seen with jumps, like Nate, Pablo, others. But if they have a good season, like Payne did, then he will get his promotion during the off-season, like all the other non-top-MLB prospects.

      He had an excellent season with OBP, third in the league with .413 OBP. Here were the leaders in OBP the past few seasons with OBP over .400 and age 22. In 2010: JD Martinez (.433), Chris McGuiness (.416), In 2009: Mike Zuanich (.450), Kiel Roiling (.401). In 2008: Michael Taylor (.441), Eric Fryer (.407), Brock Bond (.401), Darin Holcomb (.400). In 2007: Jared Goedert (.475), Jon Still (.432), Chris Coughlan (.419), Jason Donald (.409), Geoff Strickland (.401). I recognized only two names, Coughlan and Donald, and I only recognized Donald because he was in a trade this off-season. Martinez also played in the majors.

      This is why I have a dismissive tone, but, really, I don't feel dismissive, I think he had a great season, but he's the type of prospect who will need to prove it every season. And the bar is higher for mid-season promotions than off-season promotions. That's all I was trying to point out.

    7. I think the Giants, with so many MI possibilities at 2B, would like to keep Payne there in CF as long as they can. That helps his future trade value (more teams like having the CF play leadoff) plus we have a lot of MI's ahead of him. Also, particularly since it was his first full pro season.

      Every season will be a key season for him, and if he falters either offensively or defensively up the ladder, they probably will revisit him playing 2B in order to built utility value for him, either for the Giants or as trade bait, much like when they started trying Velez there. Brown might also see time at 2B, where he played before, if he struggles too much for too long in AAA.

    8. Well, you basically just repeated yourself for the third time, so let me summarize it a little more succinctly: We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. There was nothing at all wrong with his OPS!

      I'm not saying he is a top prospect. A ranking of #23 is not a high ranking. It would put him outside the top 500 in baseball. I still think he had great numbers at Augusta and should have been promoted sooner.

      I believe it is highly unlikely that any dissatisfaction with his performance had anything at all to do with his assignment. Stanley, in his interview with Joe Ritzo, shed some light on the Giants thinking when he elaborated that they promote players from major conferences more aggressively because they feel the strength of competition in college force allows them to handle the tougher competition at higher levels.

      The Giants do a lot of things right and are willing to think outside the box, but I suspect even the Giants are not above pigeonholing players into categories and being slow to move away from that. Payne was a late round draft choice out of a lower level college conference. To the Giants way of thinking, that means he will move up more slowly. I think it may well be as simple as that.

    9. Payne did not play CF. as a LF, he might get a tweener label. Most likely he doesn't have the side to side range for 2B, but that is where he played. So it's a little pipe dream. He knows he will have to grind away. I'd say a move to 2B would increase those odds.

      I'd be a bit skeptical about Gary Brown comps, Brown put up numbers in a good college conference as well as SJ and as discussed previously Richmond. Payne will have to grind out. He has the advantage of not too many guys blocking him immediately.

    10. I"m pretty sure Payne can play CF. It's just that Jesus Galindo was also on the team and he has an even more classic CF offensive profile than Payne. The Giants had to make a choice and went with Galindo. It's just how things get done with two lower ranked prospects.

    11. I don't think we are that far apart, DrB.

      While I was repeating, as you put it, I was also adding new information that I thought made my point. I can't help but repeat if I'm adding new information. As I outlined above, there were a lot of prospects age 22 who had OBP above .400 in the Sally, but not many of them made an impact in the majors.

      But you agreed that the odds are low for any of these prospects to make it, hence why you have him so low. So we are basically making the same point there.

      It seems we differ regarding how to discuss OPS and the implications. And as you noted, we'll have to agree to disagree. Again, I think we are saying the same thing for the most part, just differently. I think this is the crux of our disagreement. I agree with you that his OPS is good for the league, my point has been that it is not good enough to get promoted to the next league. You think that it was good enough.

      His OPS is not fine for a 22 YO in the Sally for someone to make the majors as is. But that is not a source of disagreement, you do agree that he is not ready yet. He will need to make progress and development in order to make the majors given that. And that's not really much different from what you are saying his development path looks either.

      So I don't think we are far apart. The difference appears that we disagree about whether his stat line is enough to warrant promotion to the next level. What I've been trying to do is show that his stats were not that revelatory in his future status, and thus that there was no reason to promote him. He was good, but not good enough, IMO, and you think that he was. But as I was trying to show with the additional information, other prospects with good OBP stats like him mostly did not do much in the majors, suggesting that he did not do enough to separate himself out for promotion. But you believe that he did do enough. And that's where we'll agree to disagree.

    12. I just don't think OPS is an appropriate measurement for a player with Shawn Payne's skillset and profile, therefore a discussion of his OPS is irrelevant to his performance.

    13. DrB - You might be sick of discussing Shawn Payne at this point, but I'll just throw a quick note up: he was a LF from the get-go this season in Augusta, even while Galindo was hurt. Scuttlebutt is that he does not take good routes on the ball, and that's first hand info direct from a Giants scout who was at the game to a well-known MCC curmudgeon. Could that change when they're higher level prospects? Maybe. But we've got a pretty crowded CF profile with Chuckie Jones, Hollick, McCall pressing up from low-A ball.

    14. I'll play my own curmudgeon card and say I basically don't put much stock in anything that guy says.

    15. Having said that, I could believe the Giants would hold somebody back for defense. They put a lot of emphasis on it and we have little info about it on the internets other than the occasional curmudgeon who comes along and throws ice water on everybody's enthusiasm.

    16. THAT cracked me up. Hey, the guy runs the bases incredibly well. I think it'd be another way to grind out a MLB career, a move to 2B. There are tons of 2B with interesting never say die backgrounds, including our own Marco Scutaro. And the curmudgeon is there every time to crack at that. So there you go. I've read some of Payne's twitter feed, he still wants to be a 2B. Interesting to see what happens. The SJ OF of Payne, Galindo and Mac should be a fun one to watch.

  2. I would consider Shawn Payne a sleeper prospect based on the good season he had in Low A and the nice offensive skillset he appears to have ( good hitter, willing to take a walk, can steal a base). Haven't read anything about his arm.. I wondered how a player like Payne lasted to the 35th round? Yes, he was older vs the competiton he faced in low A. I'm anxious to see how he fares in San Jose. If he continues to hit, they'll find a position for him.. I think he could become mid season trade bait if the Giants choose to go that route.. If he continues to hit in San Jose, I'm sure that other teams will take notice if they are looking to find a top of the lineup prospect.


    1. At the time, he was coming out of a college program that was not well known and there may have been concerns about strength of competition. So, he finds himself fighting the same rap after his first full pro season. I think sleeper prospect is a good way to describe him.

  3. Ha ha...Dr.B you seem to be a little defensive about Payne. I may agree that a little too much stock is being put into age and OPS, but I do wonder why he wasn't pushed a little harder given his age. In other words, is there something the scouts know that belie the numbers?

    That's the only thing that gets in the way of me getting absolutely pumped about this kid, though. Looking at numbers alone, he's the exact player I've been hoping would come along for years. In some ways, it's what I hoped Brown would be become. And now there's a 35th-round pick who seems like the ideal leadoff hitter sitting in the lower levels of our farm. I'm hoping he starts off strong in San Jose and can make the jump to Richmond when the weather improves mid-season. Maybe at that point his age won't be as much of a concern. And even if he does take another 3 years, we've certainly been doing well at getting the most out of late-20/early-30 y/os who steel a lot of bases. Getting his start at 26/27 would still give him 4-5 years at his physical peak.

    1. It's not like a #23 ranking in the Giants farm system is any great overrating. I mean, come on! How many #23 ranked prospects within a system ever make to the majors. I just happen to think he put up very good numbers at Augusta which are very consistent with numbers he's put up in the past. I happen to think the Giants should have promoted him sooner than they did. That does not mean I think there is any big problem with the way they evaluate and develop prospects.

      Like I said earlier, there is no way that his lack of promotion was based on numbers and I highly doubt it was based on any specific scouting report. I think there is a lot of pigeonholing of players that still goes on in the minors, and I don't think the Giants are necessarily above some of that. A guy taken from a non-major conference in round 35 was probably looked upon as an organizational player with a small chance he might turn into something more. A guy like that simply has to do more and do it for longer to get taken seriously within the organization. I really think that is probably what it's all about.

      Hopefully he can replicate his Augusta performance in San Jose and get taken more seriously as he moves up. If he can't, well, then these numbers were just another college guy taking advantage of younger players in low A ball.

    2. I would note that the Giants did not hesitate to promote Jonathan Sanchez, despite his lowly beginnings, or Pablo for that matter.

      And if you want, we can disregard age and there is a whole bunch of no-name prospects I can add to the list of players I outlined above. I could have started there as it makes my case more, but I jumped ahead to just 22 YO because I anticipated that objection.

      I never said that the Giants made the decision on promotion strictly on numbers. I only have numbers so that is what I used. I think the numbers speak enough on their own, but perhaps the Giants had other issues or policies that they follow, like the pigeon-holing that DrB noted. But I think the numbers alone is enough to make the case for not promoting him mid-season. You simply disagree on that point.

      At this point, without inside knowledge, we'll never know exactly what happened. And I forgot to point out above that I said that I probably would have promoted him if I were in charge. But that I can see why someone might not promote him, just based on numbers. So we agree that he could have been promoted mid-season, but disagree that the Giants might have used numbers to make the decision not to promote him.

      I think I should also note that my focus on performance by age and league is not something I came up on my own. Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster is where I learned that from. When implementing Bill James MLE methodology, they add the extra wrinkle of adjusting for age and level. I've seen examples where this was true, that OPS is not the same anywhere you go, or whatever age you happen to be.

    3. See my comment above. I am simply reacting to the pointing at OPS as if that is the end-all, be-all stat and then dismissively saying, "he didn't do all that well." Sorry to say, but that strikes me as the kind of knee-jerk comment we see on some other sites, but not usually this site or yours, for that matter. So, I'm just a bit disappointed.

    4. I don't view having standards as being "knee-jerk". I've looked at a lot of leaders' lists for OBP, SLG, OPS, for many years now, so I think I have a feel for seeing what is good and what is great and what is not so good. Payne was good at OPS, great at OBP, but as my examples showed, just because you had a great OBP in A-ball does not mean that you are actually going to be good in a few years. And we agree, that is why he is ranked so low.

      To me, the guys who get promoted mid-season are the better prospects. That's why I found this back and forth to be so inane. We both agree that he's not one of the better prospects, yet you insist that he should have been promoted as if he was a better prospect. Why?

      I've given examples and reasons why I think what I think. You don't like OPS, fine, I went and looked at OBP and the evidence shows that many of the prospects who were great there, at age 22, never made it to the big show, and only one became a starter. I'm sure if I go back far enough, I can create a great sample set of prospects who never made it while having a .400+ OBP in the Sally. So if it is not his OBP, why should he have been promoted mid-season?

      Even you wonder if he will even replicate his season in San Jose. If that is such a huge question mark, why promote him mid-season? Why not let him play out the season and show that the good hitting he did was not just a half season fluke but a true showing of his talent level? Shandler's book studied AAA players who got promoted to the majors and found that the odds of the prospect doing well in the majors improve significantly if he played a full season in AAA rather than a partial season. That gets at having the guy prove himself to actually being good in the league before getting promoted, and gets at how half season performances often are driven not by talent but by luck.

      Again, you say I'm being knee-jerk. I don't see how what I'm doing is different from you. We both think that there is a certain number somewhere that separates a prospect. By his numbers, I don't see that as a separator. You admit that he's not much of a prospect, but you think his numbers are good enough to separate. Shouldn't the guys who are not much of a prospect have to do more to get promoted, especially mid-season, which is what happens to the good prospects?

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