Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Phil Hughes to the Twins

RHP Phil Hughes has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Twins for a reported 3 years/$24 M according to MBLTR.

Well, I think we just found out why Sabes folded his cards and signed Ryan Vogelsong to a 1 year deal.  I really envisioned Hughes signing a deal similar to Dan Haren and Josh Johnson,  a 1 year deal with a team that plays in a pitcher-friendly stadium which would allow him to rebuild his value and sign a bigger deal next year.  Seems like the Twins and he had other ideas.  I've always liked Phil Hughes and I think he has a lot of upside, but there is serious risk there too.  Given the Giants overall situation, I much prefer a 1 year deal for Vogey to a multiyear deal for Phil Hughes.

The Twins have now added Ricky Nolasco and Hughes.  Given the pathetic state of the Twins pitching last year, Nolasco and Hughes cannot be worse and give them some serious upside, especially pitching in that stadium.

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Kyle Crick

Kyle Crick is the undisputed top prospect in the Giants organization.  He had a tremendously successful High A campaign for San Jose compiling a record of 3-1, 1.57, 68.2 IP, 39 BB, 95 K's.  The only negatives being some shaky control and an early season oblique injury that caused him to miss 6 weeks of the season.  He was sent to the AFL to make up for some of that lost time.  While he started off a bit shaky(he gave up 3 ER in 2 IP in his first appearance), he finished with a flourish, 4 consecutive scoreless IP with a composite line of 0-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K's.  He reportedly consistently hit 96-98 MPH with a changeup in the high 80's.

The logical place for him to begin 2014 is AA Richmond.  He still needs better consistency in his control and how to pitch his way out of trouble, but the stuff is there.  Although it might be better for him to spend the entire year in the minors, if he's pitching well and the need arises, I could see him being available for MLB duty as early as midseason.

Scouting the Draft: Sean Reid-Foley

Sean Reid-Foley is yet another HS RH power arm out of Florida.  He's big and solid, listed at 6'3", 208, by PG and BLF, but looks shorter but heavier to me in the video.  BA has him at 6'1", 218 which looks about right to my eye.  His 4S FB goes 91-95 according to a BA scouting report.  BLF has him at 88-92 maxed out at 94.  He also has a 2S that is a tick slower, a slider and a changeup that he does not use often.

His HS stat line for last year:  6-3, 1.00, 70.1 IP, 33 BB, 117 K.  He has also performed very well in showcase events.  In one Florida event scouted by BA he struck out 6 batters in 3 IP allowing 1 hit and 1 walk.

BLF has him ranked at #15.  BA has him at #31.  Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball has him all the way down at #67 which would put him well into the second round.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Giants Agree to Terms With Ryan Vogelsong

The Giants have agreed to terms with Ryan Vogelsong on a 1 year contract with a base salary of a reported $5 M plus incentives that could take it up into the $7-8 M range.  My first reaction to this news is, whytheheck didn't they just pick up his option and avoid all the drama?  I mean, for a team whose owner brags about not chiseling players and making them feel wanted, well, this seems like small potatoes to me!

Alex P over on Giants Extra brings up a quote from Sabes that I didn't remember to the effect that the Giants won't make Vogey compete for a spot in the rotation.  If that is true, then Sabean is likely done shopping for starting pitching this offseason and will now turn his attention to finding a LF, most likely via trade.

So, let's stand back and look at what the Giants accomplished with re-tooling the rotation.  They replaced Zito with Huddy.......and that's it!  They now have to hope for major bounceback seasons from 3/5's of the rotation!    Man, I just don't know.  That's a whole lot of hoping!  Not that it won't happen, but when you couple the declines in performance with loss of velocity for Cainer, Timmy and Vogey, I have to think there's at least 1 or 2 of those that aren't coming back. Huddy is not young and he's coming off a major injury, albeit not to his arm, so he's far from a given either.

Make no mistake.  We can talk about adding a bat for LF till the cows come home, but the 2014 season will be a success or failure on the performance of the starting rotation.  At this point, I'm not sure how much confidence I have in that.

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Andrew Susac

Andrew Susac was the Giants second round draft pick in 2011 out of Oregon State. He's used to wearing orange and black!  The Giants gave him an aggressive assignment for his first professional experience in 202 playing for high A San Jose.  One thing to remember about college catchers is they do not generally call pitches as it is standard practice for the coaches to call pitches from the dugout.  That makes for a significant adjustment when they hit pro ball.  Susac's first pro season was spent making this and other defensive adjustments.  On the offensive side of the ball, he has a good season but maybe not quite what Giants prospect watchers were hoping to see:

.244/.351/.380, 9 HR, 55 BB, 100 K in 361 AB.  The 12.9% walk rate is excellent while the 23.5% K rate is manageable, especially coming from a guy who walks that much.  Obviously you would like to see more power.

AA and the Eastern League is usually kryptonite for Giants hitting prospects, but Susac actually improved his numbers there in 2013:  .256/.362/.458, 12 HR, 42 BB, 68 K in 262 AB.  That is good for a 13.5% walk rate and a 21.9% K rate.  He started out much stronger than his final numbers.  His numbers declined as the season progressed and he ultimately had to shut it down early due to injuries.

The AFL presented a test.  Was the decline in numbers over the course of the season due to normal regression or due to fatigue and injuries?  While the AFL cannot fully answer that question due to sample size, it can be a gauge.  Susac came out and crushed it!  .360/.507/.480, 2 HR, 16 BB, 11 K in 50 AB.

Depending on where the Giants think Susac is with his defense, I would expect him to be the starting catcher for AAA Fresno in 2014.  At this point, the bat looks promising, even exciting.  The big question will be whether he can survive the physical demands of playing the catcher position.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Giants Play DFA Roulette

The Giants made a flurry of pre-Thanksgiving moves that are likely to leave a few people feeling not so thankful this Thanksgiving.  I guess in this game for every unthankful person, there is a thankful one.

it all started off with the official signing of Javier Lopez which resulted in Jose Mijares being outrighted to Fresno. Mijares refused to accept the assignment and is now a free agent.  That is a bit interesting because the Giants then turned right around and signed up LHP Jose De Paula who had recently been DFA'd himself by the Padres.  Also coming to light was a prior signing of RHP Erik Cordier who is 28 years old and a longterm AAA pitcher with several organizations.  These two signings resulted in the DFA'ing of Johnny Monell and Francisco Peguero, moves that may not sit will with some Giants prospect watchers if they end up in other organizations.

Let's take a look at the lefty shuffle first because the Giants drew some attention from our favorite commentator over on Fangraphs for their priorities here.  Dave Cameron was asked the following question in his chat yesterday: "Are situational lefties that rare teams need to give them 3 year deals or teams just reluctant to use younger "kids"?
Cameron:  "The Giants are certainly paying prices like its a severe inflationary period.  I think they could have just kept Mijares and given him Lopez' role and been fine."

No, Dave!  The Giants are not overvaluing lefty specialists!  You are undervaluing high leverage, late inning situations and not accounting for the fact that there are about twice as many good lefthanded hitters in the major leagues as good lefthanded pitchers.  That value becomes magnified in the postseason.  Here's just one situation that the Giants could well face in the 2014 postseason:  Dodgers have runners on base in a tie game, late innings, Adrian Gonzalez at the plate.  Would you rather have Lopez facing him or Mijares?  Before you scoff at that answer, you might want to check in with Charlie Manuel or Jim Leyland and get their opinion.  Brian Sabean is wearing 2 rings in no small part due to his willingness to overpay for lefty relievers.  What's the value of that?  Not sure Dave has a formula for that yet.

Another point that was overlooked about Mijares:  MLBTR estimated his arbitration award at $2.1 M.  Now, while Javier Lopez is pretty much irreplaceable, Mijares is clearly a fungible asset.  There is no way the Giants were going to tender him a contract and risk that kind of payment for a fungible asset.

I have to say, when you follow kids through the minor league system, you become attached to them.  We do not know as yet if this is the end of the road for Johnny Monell and Francisco Peguero in the Giants organization, but it is certainly possible.  Sad faces all around if it is.  Monell had probably been passed by Andrew Susac on the catching depth chart after Susac's successful AFL stint.  That would leave Monell at no better than 4'th behind Posey, Sanchez and Susac and possibly 5'th with Quiroz in the mix.  Monell also was not likely to get much playing time in Fresno with Susac likely moving up to AAA.

Francisco Peguero was once one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Giants system regularly making BA's Giants Top 10.  His development was slowed by a series of knee injuries.  He's a player with a CF offensive game but who is now relegated to playing corner positions.  Last year, he was clearly passed on the depth chart by Juan Perez who can play CF and play it very well.  Pegs was out of options and had virtually no chance to making the 25 man roster so would have been exposed to waivers eventually anyway.

Monell and Peguero were replaced on the 40 man roster by LHP Jose De Paula and RHP Erik Cordier.  De Paula was recently DFA'd by San Diego  De Paula will be 26 yo this next season.  He has been used mostly as a starter in the minors with his most recent stop at AA Midland where he put up a line of 4-6, 3.86, 74.2 IP, 11 BB, 57 K, GO/AO= 1.27.  FB is reportedly 90-92 MPH. He has a pretty significant L-R split. It has been suggested that his future may be as a lefty specialist.  He has at least 2 option years left so eases the 25 man active roster crunch for the Giants.

Erik Cordier is a 28 year old minor league journeyman most recently pitching for Indianapolis, the Pirates AAA team.  He's a big dude at 6'4", 250 lbs who reportedly throws very hard, up to 100 MPH.  Like many hard throwers, he has struggled with his control.  His most recent line was 4-2, 4.58, 53 IP, 28 BB, 65 K, 4 Saves exclusively out of the bullpen.  He has one option left.  He's yet another in a long line of high velocity RHP's the Giants will try to harness for future bullpen duty.

Late word on MLBTR has the Giants nearing a contract agreement with Ryan Vogelsong which really makes a lot of sense for both sides.  That would be a nice Thanksgiving present for the Vogelsong family!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Nick Burdi

Nick Burdi is a flamethrowing RHP closer for Univ. of Louisville.   He's got a near-perfect pitcher's size at 6'4", 218 lbs.  He pretty much throws just the FB that sits in the mid-upper 90's and touches triple digits plus a hard slider.

On video, he has a very upright delivery with minimal windup.  Both his arm acceleration and deceleration are abrupt with extremely quick arm action.  Whether this portends future injury remains to be seen.

Here are his college stat lines:

2012  1-2, 5.56, 22.2 IP, 10 BB, 14 K.
2013  3-3, 0.76, 35.2 IP, 13 BB, 62 K, 16 Saves.

Word is he will be staying at closer for his junior season.

The Giants love their high velocity college relievers.  Do they love them enough to pop Burdi in the first round? He probably won't be there in the 2'nd.

BLF has him ranked #19.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #16.  BA has him at #27 with the comment that he is the "biggest pure arm in the draft class."

Hot Stove Update: Padres Trade Prospects for Prospects

The Padres made a couple of under-the-radar deals this week that could be some of the best of the offseason.  They traded 3 prospects who they were in danger to losing in an options numbers game for 2 other prospects who they have several years to develop.

The biggest move was trading OF Jaff Decker and RHP Miles Mikolas to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 1B Alex Dickerson.  Both Decker and Mikolas had been DFA'd earlier in the week to make room on the 40 man roster for Josh Johnson and prospects who needed protection from the Rule 5 Draft.  Decker, in particular, has long been one of the more polarizing prospects in baseball with sabermetric enthusiasts loving him and scouting types not so much.  He is listed as 5'10", 190 lbs.  I've seen him play in Lake Elsinore.  He might be 190 lbs, but 5'10" is being very generous for his height.  He was ranked #23 in BA's Top 30 Padres Prospects for 2013 with the comment that he has a "walk-first, hit-second approach."  His batting line for AAA Tucson in 2013 was .286/.381/.443 with 10 HR and 4 SB in 415 PA.  He hit .154/.233/.269 for the Padres MLB club.  I understand that we're not selling jeans here, but my own scouting report on Jaff Decker is that he just does not have an MLB body.  Think Nick Punto playing in the OF.

Mikolas is a big(6'5", 220 lb) RHP who throws hard, up to 98 MPH, but has low K rates in the minor leagues.  In a total of 34 MLB innings, he has a 3.44 ERA with a K/9 of 6.35 and a BB/9 of 4.24.

In return for Decker and Mikolas, the Padres receive former 3'rd round draft pick Alex Dickerson, a LH hitting OF who had been moved to 1B last year by the Pirates.  Dickerson hit a robust .288/.337/.494 with 17 HR and 10 SB for AA Altoona in the Eastern League in 2013.  He followed that up with a .290/.347/.348 in the AFL.  The rap on Dickerson is he struggles to field a position and he has been bothered by chronic back problems, although he has already accumulated 1039 AB's in 2 full seasons and 1 short season of pro ball.

Personally, I see this as a huge win for the Padres despite Dickerson's obvious limitations.  He has the bat to be a MLB first baseman if he can field the position adequately.

In the other move, the Padres traded RHP Brad Brach to the Orioles for RHP Devin Jones.  This move is surprising in that Brach pitched effectively out of the Padres bullpen in 2013 showing strikeout stuff, but relatively high walk rates.  Jones is a guy who scouts well but struggled for AA Bowie in 2013.  This one I would rate as a push with possibly a slight negative for the Padres in that they gave up an effective MLB pitcher for a prospect who may never make it at all although Jones does appear to have some upside.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Adalberto Mejia

The nice thing about the AFL is it is such a small sample size and there is such poor correlation between perfomance there and future MLB success that if your favorite prospect does well, well, it's a good thing.  If they do poorly, well, you can always appropriately blame it on sample size or fatigue or any number of other reasons.

Adalberto Mejia has had a lot of success in a still very young professional career, but at each level, he has taken a start or 2 or 3 to get settled in and start rolling.  Unfortunately in the AFL, you only get 3 or 4 appearances, so a slow start pretty much defines your experience there.

Mejia's line from the 2013 AFL:  1-3, 8.47, 17 IP, 8 BB, 14 K's.  He started 3 games out of 7 appearances.  His longest stint was 3.2 IP.  His one good outing was 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.

We'll chalk this up to a learning experience and a tune up for wherever he is assigned next season, probably AA Richmond.

Scouting the Draft: Michael Kopech

If you are into Texas HS RHP's and projectability is your thing, then Michael Kopech just might be your guy.  He's 6'4", 190 lbs with a frame that looks much bigger.  Looking at BLF's scouting report, he's got a long, loose arm that whips a 4S FB 90-94 MPH.  He also has a 2S FB and an "11-5" curveball and an changeup.

Looking at the video, he's got a lot of moving parts to his windup and delivery.  He does the back turn thing, which seems to be a growing trend.  He has a very high knee kick(it's not really a leg kick so much as bringing the knee up into a jackknife position) and a long stride.  Not quite Timmy long, but long.  His finish looks very Timmy.  All those moving parts make for some inconsistency.  One sequence on the video showed him throwing out of the stretch and he completely eliminates the knee kick and turns it into a slide-step.

In spite of all the moving parts and inconsistency, he showed good control in his HS numbers:

6-4, 1.74, 60.1 IP, 24 BB, 105 K's.

He struck out 6 of 7 batters faced in one showcase event.

BLF has him ranked as he #12 overall prospect in he 2014 draft.  Mack Ade has him at #24 in his mock draft.  Matt Garrioch has him at #45.  BA has him as their #35 HS player and list him at 6'2", 188 lbs.  He looks way taller than that in the video.

I like Kopech a lot.  While projectability is sometimes overrated, this kid is very competitive with other top draft prospects right now and he adds the projectability.  He also performs well on the field in addition to scouting well.  He's a good student with a 3.5 GPA(Dad's a lawyer) so a team that wants him may have to take him in the first round to keep him away from college.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Dodgers Sign Dan Haren

The Dodgers signed Dan Haren to a 1 year $10 M contract.  Haren was once considered one of the best young pitchers in baseball, but his stock has dropped over the last 3-4 years.  Last year, he pitched better than his ERA and W-L record would indicate.  Let's just say he has been and continues to be somewhat of an enigma.

The Giants had been rumored to be interested in signing Haren.  Whether there was something about him that made them back off, or if he just preferred playing for LA or if the Dodgers outbid the Giants, we may never know.  Dan Haren on a 1 year/$10 M deal seems to be a reasonable risk to me. He may continue to be inconsistent but he also seems to be reasonable bet to put up a big season, which if it happens will make the Dodgers very tough to beat.

There may be some good news here from a Giants fan perspective.  Although it remains to be seen, I believe this signals that the diabolical plot to acquire both David Price and Tanaka-san is now inoperative, it if ever existed in the first place.  I think even the Dodgers have their limits and they know they have a gigantic bill coming due in the person of Clayton Kershaw.  I think we may have just seen them blink with the Haren signing.

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Derek Law

At the beginning of last season, Derek Law was known only to the most dedicated of Giants prospect watchers.  At the end of the season, he appears to be on the fast track to the major leagues.  Law is a RH relief pitching prospect drafted in the 9'th round of the 2011 draft out of JC ball.  He's got a nice pitcher's frame at 6'3", 218 lbs.  I don't know much about what he throws.

He pitched well in his first two pro seasons racking up K's at a rate of better than 1 per inning while his walk rates were decent to excellent.  I was surprised when he was sent back to Low Augusta to start the 2013 season.  He again pitched well with an ERA of 2.31 and 48 K's against 10 BB's in 35 IP.  He finally got a promo to San Jose midseason and that is where he really started turning some heads:  4-0, 2.10, 25.2 IP, 1 BB, 45 K's, 11 Saves.  Yes, you read that right.  1 BB!  1 BB in 25.2 IP!  Against 45 K's!  I'm not sure if he just didn't pitch on the days I attended SJ games or if I made the mistake of leaving early, but I did not see him pitch in person and I'm pretty darn upset about it now.

He was added to the AFL roster late and continued to impress against the elite competition:  1-0, 0.00, 12.1 IP, 6 BB, 16 K's.

I would look for him to start 2014 in AA Richmond.  If he pitches anything like he did in SJ and the AFL, heck, we could see him in SF before the season is over!  He is on the radar now, big time!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Cardinals Reach Agreement With Jhonny Peralta

The Cardinals have reportedly reached an agreeement with SS Jhonny Peralta on a 4 year/$52 M deal.  The Cardinals badly needed an upgrade at the SS position, the one position where they don't seem to have an endless supply of MLB ready prospects.  Although he does not look much like a SS, Peralta has been one of the more productive ones over the last 3 seasons racking up a total of 11 fWAR for an average of 3.6 including last year that was shortened to 107 games by his 50 game suspension for PED involvement.

Peralta is entering his age 32 season, so 4 years is a long contract for a SS of his age.  In addition, he just has a look about him that suggests he may not age well.  On the other hand, with the average market price for 1 fWAR sitting at around $6 M, he just has to put up a total fWAR of about 8.6 to earn his contract.

With the Cardinals able to save bushels of money due to their insanely productive farm system, they can easily afford to the modest risk and possible overpay to upgrade a position that has been a big negative for them for several years now.

Man, gotta say.   The Cardinals are looking good!

Scouting the Draft: Grant Holmes

Grant Holmes is a HS RHP out of South Carolina.  Holmes has a nice solid pitcher's body at 6'2, 190 lbs.  He has a simple looking, compact delivery.  According to his BLF writeup, His FB sits at 94 with a range of 93-96 MPH.  He also has a hard curve in the low 80's.  He seldom uses his changeup in games.  On video, it looks like he tends to open up the left shoulder early which leads to some armside sail.

BLF has him ranked at #13.  Mack Ade of Mack's Mets has him at #14 in his early mock draft.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #12.  BA has him at #24 callling him "undersized" and just 6 ft tall, but still gives him credit for a 96 MPH heater.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Yankees Sign Brian McCann

This does not really come as a surprise.  The Yankees have struggled at catcher since the decline and end of Jorge Posada's career.  Last year the position was a veritable black hole.  I mean, my God!  The Yankees, yes the Yankees, were reduced to signing not just one, but two Giants castoff reserve catchers!  So, the Yankees needed a catcher and needed one badly.  The Yankees also play in a stadium that heavily favors LH batters.  Brian McCann bats LH.  Match made in Heaven!

The deal is for 5 years/$85 M with a vesting option for an additional year at $15 M.  Much as I like McCann as a player, I am breathing a sigh of relief that it isn't the Giants who are going to be on the hook for that contract.  As we have pointed out many times, catching is a tough gig.  Catchers tend to not have long peaks to their careers.  Brian McCann has never played another position besides catcher, although I suppose he is a good enough hitter to be a DH.  He will be entering his age 30 season.  He will be 34 yo in the final season of the contract not counting the option year.  

OK, 34 is not impossibly old, even for a catcher, but take a look at the number of games McCann has played over the last 4 seasons:  

2010  143
2011  128
2012  121
2013  102

Steamer Projection System thinks he will play 113 games in 2014.  As he ages, you would expect that number to continue to get smaller rather than bigger.  Yeah, Brian McCann has been beat up in his career.  Excellent hitter though, and Yankee Stadium is tailor made for him.  Tough to shake the feeling that this might be one more bad contract on the Yankees' books before it's done.

Another interesting angle:  The Yankees have been working toward getting under the luxury tax level for several years now.  Does this signal a reversal of that strategy?  How will it affect the Robinson Cano negotiations? 

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Angel Villalona

Angel Villalona has a lot of catching up to do.  He did a lot of catching up in 2013, and he's still working on it.  In 2009, Angel was a very young, very raw power hitting prospect coming off a season of mixed results in San Jose.  That was his age 18 season(his birthday is 8/13).  It looked like he had all the time in the world to develop that power tool.  He did not play in the USA again until 2013 in his age 22 season.  He was accused of murder in a murky case in his hometown of La Romana.  It took him 2 years to pull himself out of the apparent cesspool that is the legal system in the Dominican Republic then another year to convince USA immigration authorities to let him back.  He bided his time for a full season in the DSL where he played well, but by that time he was a 21 years old playing against 17 year olds.

Finally back in the States for 2013, Angel was assigned to High A San Jose.  He continued to strike out at an alarming rate and did not draw many walks, but his pitch selection was far improved from 2009, at least by my observation.  When he did make contact, the ball jumped.  30 of his 65 hits were for extra bases.

He was promoted to AA Richmond midseason, at least in part, I think, because Ricky Oropesa was struggling and the Giants wanted to get Ricky out of there.  You had to wonder whether Angel V would break .100 on his BA in a place like the EL, but he held his own, smacking another 8 HR's for a total of 22 on the combined season line.

That earned him an assignment to the AFL where he struggled in a very small sample size of 65 AB:  .200/.243/.246 with 3 doubles out of 13 hits.  That is not a good line no matter how you look at it, but again, it is a very small sample size.  With the AFL now in the books, Angel is back in the DR(yikes!) looking for more AB's in the DWL.  His minor league bio page has him in just one game going 0 for 4 with 2 K's.

Where does this leave Angel Villalona in the future scheme of things?  By my calculations, he has 1 year of options left(he was vulnerable to the Rule 5 draft after the 2011 season despite missing those 2 seasons, which hardly seems fair at all, and was added to the 40 man roster at that time.).  Unless there is some exception that gives the Giants an extra year of options, he will have to be kept on the 25 man MLB Active Roster in 2015 or be exposed to waivers.

I continue to believe that Angel V has a high ceiling, but it is hard to imagine that he is going to be ready to hit MLB pitching by 2015.  Age-wise, he has 3-4 years of development before he starts to become impossibly old to be a prospect, but the option clock is ticking ominously.  Then there is Brandon Belt, who is looking more and more entrenched at 1B for the forseeable future.  Angel reportedly continues to take groundballs at 3B before every game, but to my eye, it's hard to imagine him fielding the position in a competitive game despite his deceptive athleticism.

Angel Villalona's pitch selection and plate discipline issues may well keep him from ever developing into the power hitter he can be, but I'm tellin' ya, there is toonder in that bat!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Cardinals Trade David Freese to Angels for Peter Bourjos

The Hot Stove kept on crackling today as the Cardinals and Angels swapped a total of 4 players.  The Cardinals sent 3B David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas packing and took back OF's Peter Bourjos and Randall Grichuk.  Although this trade is a surprise, it makes sense for both sides after you break it down.

Freese is coming off a tough season which saw his numbers slip significantly on both sides of the ball.  He is heading into his age 31 season.  The Cardinals need to find another place for Matt Carpenter to play to make room for Kolton Wong at 2B.  Carpenter can play 3B.  The Cardinals are thin in the OF with Carlos Beltran in free agency.  They have a premium prospect talent in Oscar Tavares, but he is coming off an injury plagued season in AAA.  Jon Jay is doesn't hit much and has had negative UZR numbers 3 of the last 4 seasons.  Bourjos is a premium defensive CF who hits at least as well as Jay.  He is also going into his age 27 season so should be entering his prime years.  He is also coming off an injury plagued season.

The Angels are a train wreck no matter how you look at it, but they were looking for an upgrade at 3B.  Freese is a decent bet to have a positive regression in 2014.  There was no room for Bourjos to start in their OF with Trout, Hamilton and Kole Calhoun.

As for the throw-ins, Fernando Salas has had his ups and downs in the Cardinals' bullpen, but is likely an upgrade on all but 1 or 2 pitchers in the Angels' pen.  Randall Grichuk is an interesting OF prospect with a bit of power.

I am not in love with Bourjos bat, but when you factor in defense, it is looking like a narrow win for the Cardinals.  Freese may help the Angels but all it would take is one injury and they may regret not having Bourjos as a backup.

Around the League:

The Mets signed OF Chris B Young to a 1 year $7.5 M contract.  Young was a guy who I thought might be a fit for the Giants.  Young's stock has fallen dramatically in the last few years.  He's a nice complimentary piece on a contending team.  I'm not sure he does much, if anything for the Mets, although if you are a WAR freak, he only has to make a 1.2 or so to earn his keep and any one year contract is team friendly these days.

Scouting the Draft: Kodi Medeiros

Kodi Medeiros is a HS LHP who hails from the big island of Hawaii.  He is on the small side at 6'1", 185 lbs, but throws hard(92-94 MPH) from a very funky delivery.  He also has a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup.

You really have to look at the video to fully appreciate the delivery. I would describe it as a hybrid between Madison Bumgarner and Javier Lopez.  He has the big arm swing behind his back like Bummy, but his arm slot is lower.  On some pitches, it looks fully sidearm to me.

I guess the big question with Medeiros is whether you think he can stick as a starter or not.  That he can have a successful MLB career as a lefty specialist is almost a given.  He will be absolutely kryptonite to LH batters.  Given his velocity, I think he has a chance to be a starter.  He will need to be able to bust his slider in on the hands of RH batters like Bumgarner does.  If can do that, along with developing his changeup to fade away from RH batters, yeah, he can be a starter.

BLF has him ranked at #34.  Mack Ade of Mack's Mets has him at #26.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #14, which is the Giants spot.  BA has him at #30 along with a comment that his FB gets up to 95 and that he has a "power slider."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Javier Lopez

The Giants made it a 1,2,3 on their stated top 3 priorities for the offseason when they reached an agreement with LHP Javier Lopez on a 3 year/$13 M contract.  Lopez came to the Giants during the 2010 season in a trade for John Bowker and Joe Martinez which many internet oriented Giants fans criticized strongly.  He has pitched very well for the  Giants, playing a key role in two World Series championship runs.  Manager Bruce Bochy has used him primarily as a lefty specialist aka LOOGY.

Lefty specialists are essential to any team with aspirations of making the playoffs and advancing in them.  Approximately 50  of the top 100 batters in MLB either bat lefthanded or switch-hit while just 25% of the top 100 ERA's were compiled by LHP's.  Contending teams must have at least one lefty specialist to face those LH batters in high leverage, late-inning situations, preferably two.  With Jeremy Affeldt coming off a down year, it was essential for the Giants to either re-sign Lopez or find a replacement on the FA market, which might not have been so easy.

The only concern I have about the deal is Lopez' age.  I did not realize he is 36 years old going on 37, so this contract will cover his age 37, 38 and 39 yo seasons.  Sidearmers have a more natural delivery that puts less stress on the arm and are generally not known for their velocity anyway.  They tend to age well, so the age factor is not a major concern.

As for the money, I've learned to stop worrying about that, and leave it to the people over at Fangraphs to spend their time on.  Both Sabes and Baer say the Giants have the resources to get the players they need, I believe them.  That's all that matters to this Giants fan.  If you are concerned that lefty relief specialists are not that important and any money spent on them would go to better use elsewhere, I would point you to Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Carlos Gonzalez.  The Giants need a reliever who can get those batters out in the 7'th and 8'th innings.  I mean, Just ask Prince Fielder what he thinks about facing Javier Lopez late in a WS game in a high leverage situation.  He might still be a Tiger were it not for Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez!  Ask Ruben Amaro Jr. if he thinks the Giants ability to bring in lefty specialists in the 2010 NLCS made a difference in that series.

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Cody Hall

Cody Hall is in a hurry to reach the major leagues.  He is big at 6'4", 220 lbs and throws hard.  He strikes people out and doesn't walk a lot. Pitching at 2 levels in 2013, High A and AA, he put up a combined line of 4-2, 1.80, 60 IP, 15 BB, 75 K, 10 Saves.  He was rewarded with an assignment to the AFL where he appeared in 9 games with mixed results:  0-0, 3.00, 9 IP, 4 BB, 7 K's.

This performance will be a non-factor in his future.  It was a small sample size in a hitter's environment.  He didn't  pitch badly.  I expect he will start next season in either Richmond or Fresno depending on roster needs.  Either way, he'll be a callup option for the bullpen during the 2014 season.  He has a high probability of having a significant MLB career as a reliever.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Tigers Trade Fielder to Rangers for Kinsler

Wow!  Didn't see THAT one coming.  Probably should have, though.  This trade makes a lot of sense for both sides.  It seems like it's a straight up deal except for $30 M going from Detroit to Texas to help offset Fielders gargantuan salary.

The Tigers had a logjam of 1B/DH types with Miggy Cabrera struggling to stay healthy while manning the hot corner, Fielder blocking Cabrera at 1B and Victor Martinez blocking both of them from being the DH.  On top of all that, the Tigers have a blue chip prospect in Nick Castellanos whose primary position is 3B and who seems to be as ready for the Show as he'll ever be.  They also had a need at 2B with Omar Infante headed into FA.  They also had a lot of money tied up in Prince Fielder for a very long time.  This trade pretty much solves all of those problems.  Ian Kinsler will almost surely never see another 30/30 season again, especially playing his home games in Detroit, but he's still one of the better 2B in the game.

Texas needs a bopper in the middle of it's lineup.  They also have a blue chip prospect named Jurickson Profar who plays middle infield and was blocked by Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.  They take on some salary and solve both problems in 1 trade.

I'm going to call this trade even-Steven and say it helps both teams about equally.  Fielder's salary will likely become a problem for Texas down the road, but he should help them in the immediate future.

The trade also has some interesting fantasy baseball implications as it opens playing time for Castellanos and Profar.  It probably downgrades Kinsler's value in that he moves to a tougher park to hit for power in.  I probably upgrades Prince Fielder's fantasy value in that he moves to a more hitter-friendly environment.  Cabrera's fantasy value will hold steady for the next year, but probably got down a little after that as he moves off 3B.

Hot Stove Update: Padres Sign Josh Johnson

The Padres have been all but forgotten as a force in the NL West over the past 3 seasons, but they are quietly making under-the-radar moves that could make them a team to be reckoned with if everything breaks right.  Yesterday they signed RHP Josh Johnson to a 1 year, $8 M deal with incentives for a possible $1.25 M more.

Johnson's story is well know.  He's a guy with ace stuff and has been an ace at times.  Both his health and his performance have suffered since 2010 as he has been beset with a series of injuries.  Last year, he managed just 81 IP with the Blue Jays and a lot of people were probably thankful it wasn't more given his 6.20 ERA.  He was reported to have a triceps strain and forearm soreness, which is often a precursor to a Tommy John Surgery announcement.  He underwent a procedure this October to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

So, why would the Padres risk $8 M on a guy who had an ERA of 6.20, just had an elbow procedure and could be 1 pitch away from a year's vacation to recover from TJ surgery?  It's the upside.  Even though his ERA last year was over 6, his K/9 rebounded to 9.18.  That, combined with getting him away from pitching in the middle of a giant billiards table, makes another ace performance thinkable, if he stays healthy.

The addition of Johnson gives the Padres a rotation of Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Eric Stults, Tyson Ross and Johnson.  Don't forget they also have Cory Luebke coming back from TJ surgery too.  That is a high risk rotation, but also inexpensive and one with incredibly high upside.

Johnson was also reportedly interested in a 1 year make-good deal with the Giants.  They and the Padres were reportedly his top choices and he reportedly took the initiative to call them first.  While I have seen reports that he contacted the Giants, I have not seen any that the Giants actually made him an offer, and they were not mentioned as one of the 3 or 4 teams that Johnson was choosing from.  It is possible the Giants were waiting to see if they could land Huddy before making their offer and when Johnson saw the Huddy signing, he decided he figured he had lost his leverage and decided to jump at the Padres offer before it went down.  It is also possible that the Giants took a look at his history and decided they just didn't like the risk and weren't interested at any price.

I have to say that while I acknowledge Johnson's upside, after reviewing his full history, I am less optimistic that he will ever be fully healthy again.   I think he is a TJ waiting to happen and we already know there is more damage in the elbow than just a UCL hanging by a thread.  With Huddy on board, Johnson would have been the #5 starter and that does not seem like much of a risk.  The 1 year deal is a low risk one too.  On the other hand, I can easily see why Brian Sabean and the Giants may have felt like they just didn't want to mess around with it.

Time will tell if that was the right decision.

In other Hot Stove news:

The Cleveland Indians signed OF David Murphy to a 2 year/$12 M contract.  Murphy is coming off a terrible season with the Rangers in 2013 but seems like a good bet to bounce back as his slash line over the last 7 years is .275/.337/.441.  Murphy is strictly a LF.  While his UZR's have been up and down, the eyeball test tells you he is not a great fielder.  It is also not clear that his lefthanded bat would generate any power at all in the NL West.

It looks like the floodgates have opened on the migration of Cuban players to the USA as two more defections were announced yesterday, a RHP and a field-first SS.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Stone Garrett

Stone Garrett is yet another 5 tool HS OF prospect who I think might be the best hitter in the draft.  Stone is an appropriate first name because he is built like a rock.  He's 6'2, 190 lbs of chiseled stone, I tell you!  In physical appearance he looks a lot like Torii Hunter and that is exactly who Garrett has tried to emulate on the field. He has an arm that produces 92 MPH velocity from the OF and has run a 6.47 60 yard time.

On video he shows minimal extraneous movement with the bat and a short quick stroke to the ball that produces power at the point of contact.  His cumulative batting line for the showcase circuit led all showcase prospects in BA.  .365/.410/.538 with 10 BB, 13 K in 115 PA.

BLF has him ranked at #38. Matt Garrioch has him at #100.  He is not listed in BA's top 50 draft prospects.

He is not real popular for scouts who are into projection because he is physically what he is going to be now.  Of course, that was the rap on Arroyo too, not that Arroyo has proven that rap wrong yet.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Tim Hudson

The Giants have reportedly agreed to terms with veteran RHP Tim Hudson on a contract worth $23 M over 2 years.  I am not going to go into a detailed statistical analysis of Hudson's track record.  We all know who and what he is.  It also seems pointless to me to spend any time at all on whether this is an overpay or not.  The Giants can clearly afford whatever they paid for him and can afford to sign whoever else they deem necessary to the success of the team.  I will just give a brief rundown of the positives and possible negatives of the deal:


1.  We all know what a consistent competitor Huddy is.  He's the guy you hate for your team to face, but in the back of your mind you are wishing like hell he was on your team.

2.  It's for 2 years.  A 3 year contract starts to block the expected arrival of homegrown pitching talent in 2016.  2 years is perfect from that standpoint and from a risk mitigation standpoint.

3.  The contract is small enough that is likely leaves the door open to at least one more significant offseason acquisition be that another SP or somebody to upgrade LF.


1.  Age.  Huddy is 38 years old so his performance could start a rapid decline at any time.  This risk is mitigated by the relatively short contract and by his keeping himself in excellent shape.

2.  Injury.  He's coming off a severe ankle fracture and surgery.  This should not be a problem.  He has had the pins removed and appears to be on a timetable for full recovery by the start of Spring Training.  It's not his arm.  This should not affect his pitching at all.  He has history of TJ.  Recurrent UCL tears are not unheard of, but his risk is likely no higher than any other pitcher out there.

Solid signing!  Tim Hudson is a guy who I have wished was a Giant many times for a long time.  No contract is risk free, but this one seems to be about as low risk as you are going to get in the current climate of MLB.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Brady Aiken

Brady Aiken is probably the top HS LHP in the 2014 draft, but there is a very large contingent with similar profiles.  Aiken has the size you are looking for at 6'4", 205 lbs.  He hails from Cathedral Catholic in CA and is one of the youngest players in the draft born 8/16/1996.  He is committed to UCLA.

From BLF's scouting report, gives him a mix of 3 solid pitches with a FB that goes 88-91 and hits 93, a changeup that fades from RH batters and a slow curve at 71-73 MPH with above average movement.  On video, I see what I would call a high 3/4 release point as he gets his hand at least 3-4 inches above the top of his cap.  The delivery looks smooth and easy without excessive effort.  You do not see the ball until it comes out of his hand.

Although his FB is nothing to be ashamed of, he is the type of pitcher who will depend on location and mixing his pitches.  He will need to add a harder breaking ball, I'm thinking cutter rather than slider, to his repertoire which should be easy enough to accomplish.  Although his body is not at all thin, he could probably add another 10-15 lbs and still carry it well.

BLF currently has him ranked at #33. Mack Ade of Mack's Mets has him at #16 with comments that he is going to be a "great major league pitcher" and "Every scout was wowed by his control"  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him all the way down at #40, but BA has him all the way up at #9.  Historically, the Giants have wanted their first round pitchers to have more velocity than what Aiken has shown so far.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap- Jarrett Parker

Jarrett Parker has been the forgotten man from the 2010 draft.  Taken in the 2'nd round out of Virginia, he was a highly rated 5 tool prospect going into his junior season, but saw his stock slip after a so-so junior performance.  Until last year, his stock in the Giants organization took a backseat to 2010 first rounder Gary Brown who seemed to be on the fast track to being the Giants CF of the future.  That gap may have narrowed as Parker fared surprisingly well in the tough AA Eastern League while Brown faltered in the usually more hitter friendly AAA Pacific Coast League.

Parker had his AA effort rewarded with a trip to the Arizona Fall League and did OK for himself putting up a .300/.366/.333 line in 60 AB.  He also drew 8 walks against 19 K's.  His only XBH was a triple in his next-to-last game of the AFL season.  Here are Jarrett Parker's stat lines for his first 3 professional seasons:

2011  High A  .253/.360/.397, 13 HR, 20 SB, 74 BB, 144 K in 486 AB.
2012  High A  .247/.366/.443, 15 HR, 28 SB, 70 BB, 175 K in 409 AB.
2013  AA        .245/.355/.430, l8 HR, 13 SB, 60 BB, 161 K in 444 AB.

Notice how similar those 3 lines are regardless of level, experience at the level and environment.  He has been a 3 true outcomes guy all along:  He either homer, walks or strikes out in a large percentage of his PA's.

I'll just take a wild guess and say that the Giants requested that he work on hitting for average in the AFL and he sacrificed some power to do it.  Either that, or he set that as his own goal without the Giants telling him.  Or, it may be just a case a small sample size producing some strange batting lines.

Where does this leave Parker in the organization?  He should be assigned to AAA Fresno where he will start the season even-steven with Gary Brown with a chance to earn a callup in-season if a need should arise with the MLB club.

Scouting the Draft: Ti'Quan Forbes

By popular demand, our next 2014 Draft profile will be HS SS Ti'Quan Forbes.  Here's the thing about Ti'Quan:  He's 6'4", 175 lbs with all kinds of room to fill out his frame giving him enormous power potential.....and he's athletic enough to stick at SS!  He already shows flashes of power and already has an advanced opposite field approach at the plate according to PG's scouting report.  His time in the 60 yard dash is reported as 6.56 and 6.4.  He also has an arm throwing in the high 80's off a mound.  He is B-R, T-R.

On Video, he has quick, athletic actions in the field.  At the plate his bat is a bit too busy while waiting for the pitch and he appears to have a double load with a bit of a hand and right shoulder dip.  Those will need to be worked on.  The swing itself is fairly short and gets to the ball quickly.  He has a slightly open stance that he maintains throughout the swing enabling him to turn on pitches and drive them to left.

Ti'Quan Forbes may have a ceiling as high as Jacob Gatewood and appears to have a better chance to stick at SS.  He has some things in his swing that will need work.

BLF has him ranked #36 in their early rankings.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #24.  BA has him at #39 with the comment that he is "young and spindly", a "premium athlete and plus runner" and "will need time to develop with the bat."

I have the sense that Ti'Quan Forbes' stock is rising and he will be drafted in the first round, possibly in the top 20, but again this is a very deep draft and very good players will fall into the supplemental first and second rounds.

Down on the Farm: AFL Wrap-Introduction

The Arizona Fall League concluded play today, so it's time to review how the Giants representatives performed.  First, a few general comments about the AFL:

The AFL is a showcase league where the top prospects from each organization get to play against top competition and show off their skills.  It is generally limited to players with AA and AAA experience with each team getting one exception to send a lower level player.  There seem to be numerous loopholes and exceptions, though, as the Giants had 3 representatives who had not played higher than High A ball, Kyle Crick, Derek Law and Adalberto Mejia.  Well, Mejia pitched one game in AAA, so maybe that counted?

The AFL is generally a hitter friendly league.  It is played exclusively in the Arizona desert with ballparks and weather conditions that tend to make the ball fly.  In addition, many teams are reluctant to expose their best pitching prospects to opportunity for injury, especially if they have thrown a lot of innings in the regular season.

The AFL provides an extremely small sample size.  The season is only about 6 weeks long and most of the players do not appear in all of the games.  Scouting reports from the league are probably more important than performance.   It's always nice to see your team's prospects perform well on a stage that will get them noticed, but a poor performance is no cause for alarm and a good performance is no guarantee of future success.  The landscape is littered with AFL phenoms who never did anything of significance again.  Giants fans need not look any further than Buster Posey to see a player who didn't do so well down there and went on the win an NL MVP within a couple of years.

Over the next few days we will rundown the Giants prospects who participated.

Kyle Crick RHP
Cody Hall RHP
Derek Law RHP
Adalberto Mejia LHP
Andrew Susac C
Angel Villalona 1B
Jarrett Parker OF

Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Brandon Finnegan

You can never have too much pitching, or too many hard throwing LHP's, or too many short guys who throw hard, or too many Brandons!  In short, Brandon Finnegan 5'11", LHP from TCU with a hot fastball is a perfect fit for the Giants on draft day in 2014.

If you look at Finnegan's stat lines from TCU they don't look that impressive, but he's generating a lot of interest on the scouting side of stadium.  I'll go with BLF's:  He releases the ball from a low 3/4 arm slot.  His FB sits at 93-96 and has touched 97 MPH.  He does lose a little velocity late in games.  He also sports a slider and changeup and changes speeds well.

On video, his delivery is actually a little higher than low 3/4.  I would say more high 3/4 as his hand comes across his body a full 6-8 inches above his head.  He swings his arm back at the start of his deliver a bit like Madison Bumgarner.  He has a lot of effort in his delivery which may be part of why he struggles with command.

Here are his stat lines from his first two college campaigns:

2012:  4-5, 3.47, 62.1 IP, 30 BB, 56 K.
2013:  0-8, 3.18, 79.1 IP, 35 BB, 86 K.
2013(CCL):  1-0, 3.68, 7.1 IP, 2 BB, 10 K.

BLF has him ranked #11 in the draft class.  Mack Ade of Mack's Mets has him at #27 in his mock draft and comments that in any other year, he would be the top college lefty in the draft.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #18 while BA has him at #23.

Giants Depth Chart: Relief Pitching

Relief pitching is a huge topic, so this is not going to be a complete list of every RP prospect out there.  I will try to list 3-4 of the RP's at each level who I think have a chance to eventually make a MLB bullpen.  You have to keep in mind, though, that many MLB relievers are former minor league starters.

MLB Closer:  Sergio Romo  5-8, 2.54, 60.1 IP, 12 BB, 58 K, 38 Saves, 43 SVO's.

Romo solidified his spot in the closer chair as he remained in the role throughout the season and showed surprising stamina.  His unusually high number of decisions reflect how many tie games he pitched in, which is probably a suboptimal situation, but not his fault.  I think he is the closer going forward as long as he remains healthy and effective.

Other MLB Relievers:  Santiago Casilla  7-2, 2.16, 50 IP, 25 BB, 38 K, 3 Saves.
                                  Jeremy Affeldt   1-5, 3.74, 33.2 IP, 17 BB, 21 K, 4 Saves.
                                  Heath Hembree   0-0, 0.00, 7.2 IP, 2 BB, 12 K.
                                  Jean Machi         3-1, 2.38, 53 IP, 12 BB, 51 K, 2 Saves
                                  George Kontos    2-2, 4.39, 55.1 IP, 18 BB, 47 K, 1 Save
                                  Jake Dunning      0-2, 2.84, 25.1 IP, 11 BB, 16 K
                                  Sandy Rosario     3-2, 3.02, 41.2 IP, 20 BB, 24 K.
                                  Guillermo Moscoso 2-2, 5.10, 30 IP, 21 BB, 31 K

That is 8 pitchers and their is generally room for only 6 non-closers in a MLB bullpen.  There will also be at least 1 LHP added, whether it be Javier Lopez coming back or another FA.  The RHP's who I think should be locks are Casilla, Hembree and Machi with Dunning and Kontos on the bubble.  The Giants may want a long man, though, which might give Moscoso a leg up on Dunning and Kontos.  Chad Gaudin is another wild card given his health issues and FA status.  I've even read a rumor that the Giants are talking to Brian Wilson.  That just seems like asking for trouble between him and Romo, though.

AAA:  Brett Bochy(RHP)  1-1, 3.99, 56.1 IP, 16 BB, 57 K, 2 Saves.

Melonhead Jr. Pitched pretty well considering it was the PCL and all.  I'm just not sure he has the stuff to get MLB hitters out consistently.  He'll likely be back in Fresno to start 2014.

AA:  Cody Hall  2-2, 2.39, 26.1 IP, 8 BB, 27 K, 8 Saves.
        Josh Osich  2-3, 4.85, 29.2 IP, 12 BB, 28 K, 3 Saves.
These are the two bullpen guys from Richmond who seem to be the true prospects.  Cody Hall appears to be on a fast track to the majors and I wouldn't be shocked to see him break down the door in spring training.  Osich seems to be more of a work in progress, but that kind of velocity and talent from the left side is rare to find.  Osich had a 2.87 ERA over his last 10 appearances.  Hall pitched in the AFL with mixed results finishing with a 3.00 ERA in 9 IP.

High A:  Derek Law  4-0, 2.10, 25.2 IP, 1 BB, 45 K, 11 Saves.
              Bryce Bandilla  1-4, 3.65, 44.1 IP, 25 BB, 72 K, 5 Saves.
              Chris Marlowe  3-2, 3.97, 70.1 IP, 35 BB, 55 K.
              Hunter Strickland  1-0, 21 IP, 5 BB, 23 K, 9 Saves.

Law is on the fast track for sure after an equally impressive AFL performance, but take another look at those K and BB ratios.  Wow!  Bandilla had his ups and downs but certainly can make batters swing and miss.  Marlowe also had his ups and downs but continues to show interesting stuff.  Strickland was the early season closer but did not appear after 5/23.

Low A  Mason McVay  3-5, 4.12, 67.2 IP, 18 BB, 75 K, 1 Save.
            Steven Okert    2-2, 2.97, 60.2 IP, 24 BB, 59 K, 2 Saves.
            Ian Gardeck     4-3, 3.21, 56.0 IP, 40 BB, 66 IP, 1 Save.
            Stephen Johnson  5-1, 3.61, 52.1 IP, 30 BB, 71 K, 8 Saves.
            Tyler Mizenko  1-4, 2.75, 52.1 IP, 24 BB, 50 K, 25 Saves.
            Jorge Bucardo   2-1, 1.84, 44 IP, 11 BB, 40 K, 6 Saves.

McVay had 1 start and could be converted to starter at any time.  Okert had a solid season.  Gardeck and Johnson are both very hard throwers who need to sharpen their command.  Mizenko has a 0 ERA for about half a season then was not as sharp in the second half.  Bucardo is on the comeback trail as a reliever.

Short Season:  Raymundo Montero  2-2, 1.82, 29.2 IP, 7 BB, 43 K, 14 Saves.
                      Cameron McVey      3-2, 3.19, 42.1 IP, 14 BB, 48 K, 1 Save.
                      Jake Shadle             4-1, 3.03, 38.2 IP, 12 BB, 40 K.
                      Tyler Rogers            1-1, 3.10, 20.1 IP, 9 BB, 16 K.
                       Eduardo Encinosa   0-0, 3.12, 17.1 IP, 10 BB, 21 K, 1 Save.
                      Dan Slania               1-1, 3.95, 13.2 IP, 3 BB, 14 K, 3 Saves.

Those are some mighty nice looking numbers from Montero who has gotten almost no attention from anybody.  Rogers is a sidearmer who I was not impressed with when I saw him pitch in the Cal League playoffs.  Slania is the marquee name here.  He could be groomed as a closer or converted to starter.

Rookie AZL:  Dusten Knight  5-1, 1.13, 32 IP, 11 BB, 43 K, 2 Saves.
                    Eury Sanchez   1-0, 1.13, 16 IP, 4 BB, 26 K, 7 Saves.
                    Carlos Alvarado 2-0, 2.20, 28.2 IP, 6 BB, 37 K, 5 Saves.

Lots of other pitchers with very small sample sizes.  These 3 seemed to be the active core of the bullpen for the AZL Giants.

DSL:  Jose Morel  6-0, 1.22, 59 IP, 6 BB, 55 K, 6 Saves.
          Luis Castillo  0-1, 0.64, 28.1 IP, 3 BB, 34 K, 20 Saves.
          Shawn Gomez  7-0, 2.76, 42.1 IP, 15 BB, 27 K.
          Cesar Yanez  1-2, 2.23, 32.1 IP, 14 BB, 32 K.
           Clarence Richardson  0-1, 5.16, 22.2 IP, 14 BB, 33 K, 2 Saves.

Don't know much about these guys.  Castillo was 20 yo.  Morel was 19 yo.  Love Gomez' size at 6'4" but the low K's and flyball tendency are not a good mix.  Yanez is 6'5" and Richardson is 6'3", 190 lbs.   We'll just have to see who emerges.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hot Tips

Check out Shankbone's excellent wrap on the AFL season on You Gotta Like These Kids.  Kyle Crick finished up with 4 scoreless appearances whose cumulative line was 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K.  He also set the prospect watching world abuzzin' with his 95-98 MPH heat.  Derek Law and Andrew Susac also had excellent AFL performances.

Check out an article up on Fangraphs entitled The Most Startling Trend in Baseball.  Did you know that 24% of all 100+ MPH pitches thrown since 2008 were thrown in 2013?  The article goes into the rapidly increasing average velocity in MLB and attributes it in a large part to the dramatic influx of young pitching.  Do you know another time when there was a big influx of young pitching?  1960's and 1970's!  Hmm.....seems like I remember a discussion about that here a few weeks ago.  Anyway, it's a must-read article.

Rotoworld is reporting 3 minor league FA signings by the Giantts:  Mason Tobin and Guillermo Quiroz re-signed and they are bringing in RHP Jason Berken who I believe pitched for the Baltimore Orioles once upon a time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Jack Flaherty

There are folks out there who think that Jack Flaherty has the best bat in the 2014 draft.  That is in the ENTIRE draft!  Flaherty is a B-R, T-R, HS SS who profiles as a professional 3B where his athletic ability should enable him to be a superior defender.  He's 6'4", 205 lbs but has the frame to easily handle filling out to around 220 lbs.  His scouting reports laud his footwork and hands and he has enough arm to be considered a 2-way prospect.

The bat is what gets everybody excited though.  From BLF's scouting report, he drives the ball gap-to-gap and can drop the bathead on a low and inside pitch.  He is patient and selective at the plate.  As he fills out his frame, he should be able to hit it out of any park to any field.  PG says, "big bat to watch, ball comes off barrel very well.  Showed big power potential and ran a 6.37 at PG National."  BLF comps him to Scott Rolen.  I'm thinking he's another Kris Bryant and I see some Matt Holliday in him.

Looking at his video, he hold the bat high and away from his body.  His load is fairly short and quick.  He takes a small slide step with is front foot and drives the bat through the strike zone.  He appears to have some length to his swing, which you might expect from a 6'4" dude.

He was named MaxPreps National Player of the Year and played on the 2013 USA Baseball 18U National Team.   He as named to the 2013 HS All America team by both BA and USA Today.  He is committed to North Carolina.

BLF has him ranked #37 which I think is probably too low.  Mack Ade of Mack's Mets has him at #7 in his early mock draft.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #34 but also has him listed at 5'11, 165 lbs which is clearly wrong if you look at the video.  BA has him all the way down at #45 in their early rankings.

Giants Depth Chart: Starting Pitching

The Giants starting pitching is in a bit of a transition phase. The core of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner is intact for at least 2 more years, but both Matt and Timmy are entering the middle years of their careers with reduced velocity and Madison Bumgarner may be establishing himself as the ace of the staff.  The remaining two slots in the rotation are open and at least 1 of them is almost certain to be filled from outside the organization.

MLB:  Madison Bumgarner  13-9, 2.77, 201.1 IP, 62 BB, 199 K.
           Matt Cain                 8-10, 4.00, 184.1 IP, 55 BB, 158 K.
           Tim Lincecum          10-14, 4.37, 197.2 IP, 76 BB, 193 K.

Bummy is a horse who looks like his is getting stronger as he matures, which I guess is expected.  His delivery looks natural and fairly easy on the arm.  I would worry more about his big time cross step and what it might be doing to his hip.  Cain had his ups and downs.  I think he will bounce back at least partially after a full offseason.  I liked Timmy's conditioning. He appeared to get stronger as the season went along and maintained his weight nicely.  If he keeps after his current nutrition and conditioning program, I think he could emerge much stronger in 2014.

MLB Rotation Options:  Yusmeiro Petit  4-1, 3.56, 48 IP, 11 BB, 47 K.
                                    Guillermo Moscoso  2-2, 5.10, 30 IP, 21 BB, 31 K.

Petit has pitched well in AAA for a couple of years.  He kept that going in the majors after a callup and made a case for himself to be in the mix for a rotation spot in 2014.  He and Moscoso are most likely purely reserve options as I expect the Giants to bring in at least 2 stronger options from outside the organization.

AAA  Mike Kickham(LHP)  7-7, 4.31, 110.2 IP, 49 BB, 90 K's.(MLB  0-3, 10.16, 28.1 IP, 10 BB, 29 K).
          Eric Surkamp(LHP)   7-1, 2.78, 71.1 IP, 20 BB, 54 K
          Justin Fitzgerald(RHP)  2-8, 5.61, 77 IP, 33 BB, 65 K.

Kickham was rushed due to injuries at the MLB level and paid the price.  He did show good looking stuff and is K and BB ratios were strong, but once he started getting hit, he couldn't stop the bleeding.  I would not give up on him at all, but he probably needs another full AAA season to polish up his game.  Surkamp was fresh off TJ surgery.  Too early to give up on him too although he will have to start the season in Fresno.  Fitzgerald is a longshot and may not be in the organization long as younger, better pitchers work their way up from the lower minors.

AA  Edwin Escobar(LHP)  5-4, 2.67, 54 IP, 13 BB, 54 K.
       Chris Gloor(LHP)   9-7, 4.03, 156.1 IP, 41 BB, 121 K.
       Jack Snodgrass(LHP)  12-4, 3.70, 141 IP, 39 BB, 81 K.

Escobar is the rising star here.  He should be in Fresno to start the 2014 season and we could see him break in at the MLB level as early as mid-season should a need arise.  More likely he will pitch the full season in the minors, which is not all bad.  Gloor's season was disappointing for such a pitching-friendly environment. He is about to get washed out to sea by a tidal wave of younger, better talent coming up.  Snodgrass is a groundball/control guy who I think will most likely end up as a lefty specialist.

High A:  Kyle Crick(RHP)  3-1, 1.57, 68.2 IP, 39 BB, 95 K.
              Adalberto Mejia(RHP)  7-4, 3.31, 87 IP, 23 BB, 89 K.
              Clayton Blackburn(RHP)  7-5, 3.65, 133 IP, 35 BB, 138 K.
              Ty Blach(LHP)   12-4, 2.90, 130.1 IP, 18 BB, 117 K

Crick is the consensus #1 Giants prospect.  His innings were limited by an early season oblique strain.  He is getting more IP in the AFL where he got off to a rough start but has not allowed a run in his last 3 appearances while striking out 7 against just 1 BB in 6 IP.  Blackburn, Mejia and Blach rely more on command, and profile as more innings-eating workhorse types.  Other Pitchers who got starts in San Jose include Kelvin Marte(15), Jason Forjet(10) and Austin Fleet(8).  They all have some work to do to get into the conversation as serious prospects.

Low A  Chris Stratton(RHP)  9-3, 3.27, 132 IP, 47 BB, 123 K.
            Kendry Flores(RHP)  10-6, 2.73, 141.2 IP, 17 BB, 137 K.
            Martin Agosta(RHP)  9-3, 2.06, 91.2 IP, 43 BB, 109 K.
            Joan Gregorio(RHP)  6-3, 4.00, 69.2 IP, 17 BB, 84 K.
            Joe Kurrasch(LHP)    5-0, 1.78, 25.1 IP, 8 BB, 32 K.

Stratton is a big of an enigma.  His unexciting numbers at a low level may be mitigated by him working on a two-seam fastball, but there was scant evidence of progress as the season went on.  Agosta was terrific early but then hit the DL with a blister and arm fatigue and was not the same after.  Flores had a breakout season showing strikeout stuff with amazingly low BB rate.  Gregorio ran hot and cold but was dominant at times.  Kurrasch came on strong late in the season.  Other SP's at Augusta included LHP Matt Lujan and RHP Joe Biagini

Short Season   Chase Johnson(RHP)  3-2, 4.17, 41 IP, 12 BB, 37 K.
                      Chris Johnson(RHP)  6-3, 2.49, 83 IP, 8 BB, 78 K.
                      Andrew Leenhouts(LHP)  9-2, 2.39, 71.2 IP, 14 BB, 53 K.
                      Pat Young(RHP)  3-1, 0.92, 39.1 IP, 9 BB, 27 K.
                      Nick Vander Tuig(RHP)  0-0, 13.50, 6.2 IP, 2 BB, 5 K.
                      Reyes Maronta(RHP)  2-2, 4.98, 21.2 IP, 8 BB, 22 K.

Johnson was the 2013 3'rd round pick.  He was lights out for his first 7 starts then hit a wall in his last 3.  He had not pitched many innings in college, so may have hit a wall staminawise.  Chris Johnson is a guy I haven't paid much attention to, but he's a big kid at 6'4", 205 lbs and keeps the ball on the ground.  Leenhouts is a big LHP who is worth keeping an eye on as a sleeper.  Pat Young had an impressive pro debut while The Pitching Dutchman may have been exhausted from pitching in the College World Series.

Rookie AZL  Keury Mella(RHP)  3-2, 2.25, 36 IP, 11 BB, 41 K.
                    Luis Ysla(LHP)      4-0, 2.65, 51 IP, 13 BB, 52 K.
                    Carlos Diaz(LHP)    2-3, 4.99, 39.2 IP, 21 BB, 51 K.
                    Donald Snelton(LHP)  3-1, 1.57, 34.1 IP, 13 BB, 39 K.

Keury Mella is the kid to be excited about here.  If you really want to get your juices flowing look up a video of him pitching in the instructional league.  Oh my!  Covechatter has the video linked somewhere in his blog.  Not sure the name of the original site.  Right now, I believe that Mella is the #2 pitching prospect in the entire organization!  Ysla showed up out of nowhere and was the workhorse of the Arizona Giants staff.  Diaz flashed some strikeout stuff and Snelton is a big college draftee LHP who I am fairly high on.

DSL:  Eber Guzman(RHP, 20 yo)  4-4, 3.34, 70 IP, 24 BB, 59 K
          Jonathan Loaisiga(RHP, 18 yo)  8-1, 2.75, 68.2 IP, 16 BB, 40 K
          Eusebio Encarnacion(RHP, 18 yo)  5-1, 1.72, 68 IP, 12 BB, 49 K.
          Olbis Parra(RHP, 18 yo)   5-3, 4.13, 56.2 IP, 17 BB, 37 K.
          Raffi Vizcaino(RHP, 17 yo)  0-3, 3.80, 47.1 IP, 17 BB, 41 K.
          Michael Santos(RHP, 18 yo) 1-2, 2.75, 19.2 IP, 6 BB, 18 K.
          Reymi Rodriguez(RHP, 18 yo)  7-1, 1.36, 46.1 IP, 23 BB, 49 K.

Not a lot that really stands out here.  Age vs level is important here.  Vizcaino obviously leads the pack in that regard.  Santos is 6'4" and got off to a great start, but was shut down after 4 starts in June.  Rodriguez was used mostly as a reliever but pitched well in a couple of starts, so I'm including him in the SP category.

The Giants organization is well stocked with pitching prospect.  The leading edge of the contingent will hit AA in 2014.  The 2013 draft was hitter heavy, so it may not be a bad idea to go back to pitching in the 2014 draft, which is packed with high-end pitching prospects.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Sean Newcomb

Hank Schulman is reporting that the Giants might consider signing a QO FA if the price drops enough late in the offseason which would make all these draft profiles a waste.  Such a move would be understandable, but I hope it doesn't happen.

Sean Newcomb is a big college LHP who plays for Hartford.  He has not gotten a lot of press, but you will probably start hearing a lot more about him after the college season starts and the 2014 draft approaches.  Newcomb takes the mound at 6'5", 240 lbs and brings a FB that sits in the mid-90's and gets up to 97 MPH.  On top of that, he has a wipeout slider that is a plus pitch now and has potential to be plus-plus.  His changeup is currently average, but it gives him a 3 pitch mix.  Here are his college stats from the last 2 years:

2012:  2-4, 4.17, 45.1 IP, 38 BB, 45 K.

2013:  5-4. 3.75, 72 IP, 37 BB, 92 K's.

The obvious concern is that his stuff has not translated into domination against suspect competition, so you would like to see some significant progression in his junior season.

BLF has him ranked at #17.  Mack Ade of Mack's Mets does not have him in Round 1 of his mock draft.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball does not have him listed in his early top 150.  BA has him at #19 in their early Top 50 draft ranking.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giants Depth Chart: Centerfield

While the line between CF and corner OF has blurred a lot in recent years, I think there is still enough difference to have a separate category for CF.  They are a different breed of cat with the best ones being 5 tool players and more of a premium is put on defense.

MLB Starter:  Angel Pagan  .282/.334/.414, 5 HR, 9 SB in 280 AB.

Pagan pretty much proved how valuable he is to the team last year by missing 91 games in which the Giants offense did not perform very well.  Pagan is not an ideal leadoff man due to suboptimal OBP and he is not an ideal defensive CF but he is not terrible in either department and his positives more than make up for those that are less than ideal.  There is a rumor circulating around the Hot Stove that the Giants would like to move Pagan to LF, so his incumbency could be short lived.

MLB Reserve:  Gregor Blanco  .265/.341/.350, 6 3B, 3 HR, 14 SB in 452 AB.
                       Juan Perez       .258/.302/.342, 1 HR, 2 SB in 89 AB.

If you think Pagan can hold up his end of the bargain in LF, Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez make an intriguing platoon team for CF.  They earned a combined 5.4 WAR in 541 AB in 2013.

AAA:  Gary Brown  .231/.286/.375, 29 2B, 6 3B, 13 HR, 17 SB, 11 CS, 33 BB, 135 K's in 558 AB, 9 E.

One of the bigger mysteries on the planet is what is wrong with Gary Brown.  He's always had his detractors, but to me, he's regressed as a prospect.  I mean, he hit better than this in AA Richmond which is a way tougher environment for hitters.  Much was made of a mechanical adjustment midseason which resulted in a flurry of HR's, but I believe there is probably something mental or emotional or some nagging physical issue that is eating on him.
Has a lot to prove in 2014.

AA:  Ryan Lollis  .267/.345/.377, 8 HR, 6 SB, 50 BB, 61 K in 469 AB.

Lollis has quietly played well wherever he's been assigned.  May be an organizational player, but I'm not convinced he's not a better prospect than Gary Brown right now.

High A:  Chris Lofton  .258/.331/.374, 11 3B, 4 HR, 23 SB, 13 CS.
              Elliott Blair   .229/.343/.341, 3 HR, 4 SB.

These are two guys who will probably never sniff the majors, but the Giants obviously see something in Blair that others don't see.  I looks pretty impressive in a baseball uniform, I'll say that for him.

Low A:  Jesus Galindo  .273/.342/.322, 1 HR, 48 SB, 6 CS.

Galindino has impact speed and a knack for getting on base.  He's purely a slap and dash guy at this point.  I remains to be seen if he can keep pitchers honest at higher levels.

Low A:  Tyler Hollick  .262/.374/.338, 3 HR, 20 SB, 5 CS in 237 AB.
              Randy Ortiz   .253/.341/.320, 16 SB, 3 CS.

A couple more slap and dash guys with Hollick showing hints of power at times.

Rookie AZL  Johneshwy Fargas  .299/.393/.351, 8 SB in 77 AB.
                    Julio Pena             .238/.283/.395, 2 HR, 1 SB, 56 K in 185 AB.

Fargas may be the real deal.  Nice start for the #11 draft pick.  Pena has some power but also has severe hacking and contact issues.

DSL:  Gustavo Cabrera  .247/.379/.360, 2 HR, 21 SB.

Very promising 5 tool prospect who I am considering making my #2 overall Giants prospect.  Suffered a severe injury to his right wrist and hand in an apparent home accident.  Now we can only hope he makes a full recovery.

Scouting the Draft: Michael Conforto

One of the best pure bats in the college ranks for 2014 belongs to Oregon St. Jr OF Michael Conforto.  Like so many young hitters these days, Conforto throws righthanded but hit exclusively from the left side of the plate.  He is stoutly built at 6'1", 215 lbs with average speed and arm, so he is probably a LF all the way, although I did find a pitching scouting report on him on Baseball Prospect Report from high school that had him hitting the low 90s', so his arm is not terrible.  He is a guy you draft for the bat, period, though.  He has a classic power hitter's approach with a slightly open stance, a slight uppercut swing.  He shows patience at the plate and barrels up the ball with plus bat speed.

The Pac 12 and the west coast are strong pitching friendly environment so Conforto's numbers from is first two college campaigns are doubly impressive:

2012:  349/.438/.601, 13 HR, 24 BB, 12 HBP, 37 K in 218 AB.

2013:  .328/.447/.526, 11 HR, 41 BB, 14 HBP, 47 K, 6 SB in 247 AB.

Conforto played for Team USA this summer and hit .302 with 5 doubles and a team leading 3 HR's in 18 games including a 5 games sweep of Team Cuba.

BLF has him ranked at #29 overall.  Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball has him at #27.  BA has him at #18 with a the comment that scouts worry about swing and miss tendencies.

The Giants have always preferred up-the-middle talent when drafting position players in the first round but since John Barr has come into the organization they have taken more corner players in the early single-digit rounds.  I think Conforto is the best college bat in the draft and would not be disappointed if the Giants drafted him at #14.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giants Dept Chart: Corner Outfield

This is kind of a tough category as the Giants tend to acquire centerfielders and then move them to the corners as needed.  I almost elected to lump them all together, but then you have a huge list.  We'll try it this way.

MLB Incumbent Starters:  Hunter Pence  .283/.339/.483, 27 HR, 22 SB.
                                      Gregor Blanco  .265/.341/.350, 3 HR, 14 SB.

Man, I just noticed that Pence had 27 HR with a SLG% of under .500.  That's how hard it is to slug .500!  Wow!  OK, Pence just signed a 5 year contract for $90 M so prospects can forget about this position opening up for at least that long.  Blanco is probably going to be a reserve again or at best part of a platoon so consider LF an open position.  When you factor in Blanco's defense, though, it is not as easy to find an upgrade for LF as it seems.  Also, there was a note today in Rotoworld that the Giants want to move Pagan to LF which means they may be actually looking for a CF.  Blanco's defense in CF is an even bigger factor and a CF platoon of Blanco and Perez would be real tough to top unless they are going to go all out and sign a Jacoby Ellsbury.

MLB Reserve:  Juan Perez  .258/.302/.348, 1 HR, 2 SB in 89 AB.  Did you know that little Juan Perez rang up a WAR of 1.6 in those 89 AB's over just 34 appearances.  Of course, most of that was on D and most of the D was from his magical throwing arm, but he can cover some serious ground out there too.  Juan Perez might be my favorite player on the team right now.

AAA  Francisco Peguero  .316/.354/.408, 3 HR, 3 SB.
         Roger Kieschnick   .273/.339/.497, 9 3B, 13 HR, 4 SB

Neither Pegs nor Roger K made much of a case for themselves to be on the 2014 active roster let alone the starter at any position.  Roger K got some hits early on but never got his power stroke untracked and then the hits stopped coming too.  Pegs didn't get many opportunities but did hit a dinger on the final day.

AA:  Javier Herrera  .296/.376/.485, 16 HR, 23 SB.
        Jarrett Parker   .245/.355/.430, 18 HR, 13 SB, 11 CS.
        Brett Krill       .258/.313/.329, 2 HR, 3 SB.

Herrera is a reclamation project who put up impressive numbers considering the environment.  Can the Giants please give him an invitation to Spring Training?  Parker's numbers were not bad for the environment.  Classic 3 true outcomes stuff here.  If he did that in the majors with plus D in the OF, he would be a 3 WAR player.  Krill has been one of my sleeper prospects, but has to hit for power to have any value at all.

High A:  Mac Williamson  .292/.375/.504, 25 HR, 10 SB.
              Devin Harris       .258/.318/.492, 23 HR.

We all know about Mac's tremendous season.  He is definitely a top 10 Giants prospect and possibly top 5.  Probably could use at least 2 more years in the minors by which time Pagan will have 1 year left on his contract.  That is thinking too far ahead!  Harris has nice power but may not ever hit for enough average.

Low A:  Andrew Cain  .240/.309/.402, 8 3B, 9 HR, 20 SB.
             Rafael Rodriguez  .208/.262/.304, 4 HR, 4 SB.
             Chuckie Jones  .236/.321/.371, 10 HR, 12 SB.

Cain showed flashes of 5 tool potential.  Hit tool may be a little short.  Chuckie Jones is listed as a CF but will probably end up in a corner position.  He came on really strong in the last 2 months of the season.  Is he primed for a breakout?  Sadly, Rafael Rodriguez has never been able to get any traction on his career and is starting to run out of time.

Short Season:  Tyler Horan  .295/.372/.460, 4 HR, 4 SB.
                      Brian Ragira .263/.371/.391, 3 HR,
                      Shilo McCall .235/.330/.398, 4 HR, 3 SB.

I think everybody knows how much I like Horan.  I think Ragira has a ton of upside.  He just needs to unlearn whatever they teach those hitters at Stanford.  McCall is a project but this is not a bad line for a 19 year old at this level.

Rookie AZL:  Ben Leslie  .348/.531/.435 in 23 AB.
                     Leonardo Fuentes  .261/.338/.522, 3 HR.

A lot of OF's shuffled in and out of Arizona so nobody got a lot of AB's.  Leslie is an Australian signee.  Fuentes continues to tantalize with enormous power potential but apparently just cannot stay healthy for a full season even in short season ball.

DSL:  Carlos Valdez  .273/.377/.447, 5 HR, 20 BB, 22 K in 132 AB.
          Jean Angomas  .286/.384/.383, 9 SB, 9 CS, 25 BB, 17 K in 175 AB.
          Robinson Medrano  .225/.267/.283, 1 HR, 7 SB.
          Carlos Cartegena  .200/.369/.336, 4 HR, 7 SB.

The DSL is a pretty extreme pitcher's league so Valdez' numbers are impressive even for a repeater.  Angomas is listed as a CF but Gustavo played CF so we'll lump Angomas with the corner dudes.  Medrano started off hot then went cold.  Cartegena is a former bonus baby who has never gotten traction on his pro career.

Scouting the Draft: Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver is ranked as the #5 overall draft prospect by Big League Futures, linked to the left.  He's a RHP from Florida State who put up terrific numbers in last year's college season.  BLF's scouting report has him throwing both a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball that sits 91-94 MPH and reportedly hit 97 this summer.  He also has a change and a slider.  He throws from a 3/4 to low-3/4 arm slot which could give him trouble with LH hitters, but he reportedly has enough bite on the slider to attack LH hitters with it on the inside corner.  At 6'2", 170 lbs, he does not have quite the ideal size you are looking for in a first round draft pick, but that is probably quibbling.  6'2" is certainly adequate.

Here are the numbers from his first two college seasons:

2012  1-0, 5.93, 41 IP, 21 BB, 40 K's.

2013  7-2, 2.29, 98.1 IP, 19 BB, 119 K's.

As you can see, he has a very nice combination of strikeout stuff along with great control.  I see him as a Mike Leake type of pitcher who would probably give you a nice MLB #3 or 4 right out of the box, but might not have much more upside than that.  BA's comp is Tim Hudson.

As already mentioned, BLF has him ranked as the #5 overall draft prospect, which I think is too high considering all the talent in this draft.  Mack Ade of Mack's Mets has him at #18 in his early mock draft, which I think is more where I might rank him.  Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball has him ranked at #19.  BA has him all the way down at #32.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

GIants Depth Chart: Shortstop

MLB Starter:  Brandon Crawford   .248/.311/.363, 9 HR.  Crawford had a very good season going before slumping badly down the stretch.  He suffered finger injuries during the season which may have contributed to his numbers tailing off.  I also noticed that he was letting his bat drift down until it touched his shoulder while in his batting stance, bringing it up to hitting position as the the pitcher delivered the ball.  Nothing wrong with that by itself, but it looked to me like he was getting the bat back up too late in the process and then was having to rush his swing, very similar to what he was doing in 2011 or 2012, I don't remember which.  He made some adjustments which seemed to help at that time.  Overall, he did not have a bad season earning a 2.2 fWAR, in increase of 0.4 over 2012.  With Stephen Drew and his 3.4 fWAR set to turn down a QO, it would seem that Crawford's numbers give him significant value on the open market.

MLB Reserve:  Joaquin Arias  .271/.284/.342, 1 HR.  Arias hit for a higher BA but nothing else in his line was better.  Between these two, Crawford deserves to remain the starter.

AAA:  Ehire Adrianza  .310/.409/.441 in 145 AB.
          Carter Jurica      .249/.329/.319 in 357 AB.

Adrianza hit .240 in 250 AB for Richmond before being called up to Fresno.  Adrianza has always put up solid BB and K ratios throughout his minor league career.  He impressed in a small cup of coffee in September.  Problem for him and the Giants is he is out of options and has to be kept on the 25 man active roster or exposed to waivers.  Not sure he could sneak through.  Jurica is probably more of a second baseman with disappointing numbers for Fresno.

AA:  Kelby Tomlinson  .198/.313/.250 in 96 AB.

Tomlinson hit .276 for San Jose.  He can probably stick at the position defensively but does not seem to be much of a hitter.  We'll see if he gets another chance in Richmond in 2014.

High A:  Matt Duffy  .292/342/.509, 5 HR, 3 SB in 106 AB.
              Bobby Haney  .257/.326/.338, 4 HR in 346 AB.

Matt Duffy got the promotion after hitting .307 with 4 HR and 22 SB in 287 AB for Augusta, and kept it going for SJ.  Could he move up to Richmond for 2014?  I saw him play. He is very skinny, yet seems to generate pretty good power.  I wonder what he could do if he filled out that frame a bit?  Haney is a scrapper who is probably an organizational player.

Low A:  Alberto Robles  .304/.360/.387 with 13 SB in 194 AB.
             Rando Moreno  .353/.371/.500 in 34 AB.

Duffy played here most of the season before getting moved up to SJ.  It's a bit unclear to me if Robles is more of a SS or 2B.  SSS on Moreno who hit .342/.403/.453 with 10 SB in 117 AB in the Arizona League.  Both Robles and Moreno are interesting names to watch in 2014 to see whether they emerge or not.

Short Season  Jeremy Sy  .294/.391/.518, 8 HR, 13 SB with 2 CS in 170 AB.
                     Brandon Bednar  .272/.332/.406, 6 HR, 11 SB with 3 CS in 202 AB.

Jeremy Sy is getting a late start due to TJ surgery after he was drafted.  I believe Bednar played mostly 2B and maybe some 3B.  Blake Miller was drafted as a SS but played mostly 1B.  I think Sy is a really interesting sleeper to watch.

Rookie AZL:  Christian Arroyo  .326/.388/.511, 18 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 19 BB, 32 K's in 184 AB.
                     Brett Kay            .255/.368/.351 in 94 AB.

Arroyo is the big news here.  First round draft pick comes through big time in his professional debut.  It doesn't get much better than that in the world of prospects.  He's the Golden Child, The Anointed One, The Hope for the Future, and why not?  Everything he's done so far lives up to it.  Kay is an organizational type who will have to scrap to get on the prospect map.

DSL:  Robert Antunez  .233/.410/.267, 6 SB in 30 AB.
          Hengerber Medina  .162/.279/.196 in 148 AB.

Antunez only got into 28 games but had just 30 AB's in his age 17 season.  Will likely be a DSL repeater next year.  Extremely disappointing season for Hengerber.

This may be completely crazy, but I think Adrianza is probably a better defensive SS than Crawford right now and his bat may be as good or better in the future.  I know Sabes is a bird-in-the-hand man through and through, but I'm thinking that with Stephen Drew rejecting a QO, that a SS like Crawford has significant trade value and it might not be a bad time to sell high on him.  Duffy is an interesting guy to watch as is Sy, and Arroyo is The Man for the future, but can he stick at SS?

Scouting the Draft: Nick Gordon

The Hot Stove is barely smoldering so we'll keep plugging away on the draft profiles and depth charts until it heats up.  BTW, check out a nice update on Kyle Crick over on Cove Chatter linked to the left.  If that doesn't get a Giants fans juices flowing, I don't know what would!

Nick Gordon is a HS SS prospect.  He's the son of former MLB pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon and younger brother of Dodgers SS prospect Dee Gordon.  Like is older brother, Gordon is a B-L, T-R shortstop with plus-plus speed. He also pitches and has hit 94 MPH from the mound.  Before you dismiss Nick Gordon as just another overrated slap and dash guy who will be dominated by MLB pitchers, consider that Nick is 3 inches taller and has a noticeably bigger frame than Dee.  I think he has power potential while being able to stick at SS.  His hitting mechanics may need some work, but the tools are there.  Some scouts like him better as a pitcher, but most seem to think he will be drafted as a SS.

BLF has him ranked as the #9 overall draft prospect.  Mack's Mets has him going off the board at #6(at the time, the Giants were in line for the #6 pick).  BA ranks him at #11 in their early Top 50 Draft Ranking.  Over at Minor  League Ball, Matt Garrioch has him all the way down at #31!

I'm not wild about 2-way players, and it is doubtful that Nick Gordon is still on the board at #14, but as I've said many times, this is a very deep draft and some very good prospects are going to be there.  He won't drop all the way to #31, but just the fact that someone thinks he will shows you what kind of a draft this is.  The Giants do love to draft their up-the-middle talents and Nick Gordon is one of the better ones in 2014.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blogger's Note

I will be away from the blog for a couple of days.  Back on Sunday 11/10/2013.

2014 Giants Depth Chart: Third Base

No Giants player in my memory has been at the same time as lovable and exasperating as Pablo Sandoval.  He has 1 more season left on his current contract after which he will be a free agent making it interesting to look at what the Giants might be able to replace him with from within the organization.  

MLB Starter:  Pablo Sandoval  .278/.341/.417, 14 HR.  Pablo started the season in obviously terrible shape and it clearly affected his performance and ability to stay on the field.  His brother is a professional chef and came to live with him and cook healthy meals.  Pablo dropped some weight and was moving much better by the end of the season.  He hit .322/.410/.540 in September, but 3 of his 4 HR's came in one game after he took some needling from Brandon Crawford about his power.  As always, you get the feeling that he has this incredible talent that allows him to do pretty much anything he wants at any time, and motivation is huge.  He did hit .294/.371/.443 after the All-Star Break.  

In his end-of-season press conference, Brian Sabean sounded pretty fed up with the Panda and it would not be a shock if he was traded over the winter, but the most likely scenario is the Giants hoping that playing for a contract will keep him motivated and they will deal with the future after the season ends.

MLB Reserve:  Joaquin Arias  .271/.284/.342.  Arias is a superior defender at 3B but has very limited power and never walks.  Much as everybody is frustrated with Pablo, Arias would be a huge downgrade.

AAA:  Chris Dominguez  .294/.334/.464, 15 HR, 16 E.  Dominguez has enormous power potential but extreme contact isuses.  He seemed to concentrate on hitting for a higher BA in 2013 and still hit 15 HR's.  I could see him repeating AAA and if he continues to hit well, he might be a plausible replacement for Pablo in 2015.  He turns 27 years old this month.

AA:  Adam Duvall  .252/.320/.465, 17 HR, 18 E.  Duvall missed some time with injury but continued to show impressive power in the toughest place to hit on Earth.  His throws to 1B tend to sail on him and he still made quite a few errors.  Who gets the PT at Fresno next year, Dominguez or Duvall?

High A:  Myles Schroder  .296/.359/.467, 6 3B, 6 HR, 12 SB, 15 E.  I like Schroder, but more as a potential future utility guy.  He can play multiple positions and may move somewhere else at higher levels if his way is blocked by Duvall and Dominguez.

Low A:  Mitch Delfino  .270/.324/.413, 13 HR, 35 BB, 76 K, 477 AB, 13 E.  I see Delfino as a real sleeper in the system.  He has no one outstanding attribute but does everything well.  Promoted to SJ for the Cal League playoffs.  Was the only SJ Giants who did not seem to be baffled by the junk the IE pitchers were throwing in the game I saw.  Should be the starting 3B for SJ in 2014.

Short Season:  Ryan Tuntland  .254/.393/.393, 3 HR, 26 BB, 30 K in 122 AB.  Nice pro debut for a lower round draft pick.

Rookie AZL:  Ryder Jones  .317/.394/.400, 1 HR.  
                     Jonah Arenado  .211/.286/.263 in 38 AB.  

Nice pro debut for the Giants second round draft pick.  I would think he'll be the starter for Augusta in 2014.  Arenado is more of a project who will either repeat the AZL or go to Salem-Keizer next summer.

DSL  Nathanael Javier  .229/.276/.326, 2 HR.  A bit of a rough pro start for the bonus baby.  He was hammered with a 50 game suspension for anabolic steroid use after the season ended.  That is pretty much a full season of short season ball, so that is a big deal.