Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hot Tip: Highlights From Bagg's BA AQA

There were several requests for some info on Baggs AQA discussion re Giants Top 10 Prospects:

Here are some things I gleaned from it:

Biggest sleeper in the system:  Shilo McCall, although he doesn't think he will be necessarily a fast mover.

Giants system not highly rated because of a lack of blue-chippers.  Kyle Crick may be only Giants prospect to make the Top 100.  Lots of intriguing arms and the blue chippers have graduated which is a good thing.

Thinks Gary Brown has a good chance for a "bounceback" season in Fresno. Scouts say he still has some adjustments to make.

There is nothing about Angel Villalona's situation that would make him believe he will ever be allowed back in the U.S.

Giants would like to keep option open for Stephen Johnson to be a starter.  He and Marlowe have the two best curveballs in the system.  Giants consider Johnson to have a 98 MPH fastball.

Tidrow's strength in developing pitchers is getting guys to find a direct line to the plate and work with their body types to maximize velocity and repeatability.  Rags and Gardner are better at fine tuning and teaching how to make pitches in certain counts, miss bats, set up pitches, etc.

Mejia vs Escobar: Mejia has more physical projection left.  Escobar has pretty much filled out.

Ranking Gustavo Cabrera #12 is pretty aggressive for a player who hasn't made his US debut yet.

This one is priceless:

Dave(San Jose):  Hey Baggs.....How self-aware are the Giants of their seemingly systemic issues with developing high-ceiling position players, and are you aware of any specific efforts in the org to address this?

Andy Baggerly:  Do you mean systematically good of systematically bad?  Posey, Bumgarner, Cain, Lincecum, Wilson, etc all have multiple World Series rings.  I suppose they could finish 62-100 so they could draft at the top of the heap, but that isn't happening.  I look at it this way:  When they had four consecutive losing seasons from 2005-2008 and a chance to draft in the top 10, they didn't miss.  But it's harder to find the high-ceiling guys when you're drafting back in the first round."

Oh man! What a smackdown by Baggs there!!

".....I'd have a hard time believing the Giants have the third worst grouping of minor league talent.  The rankings are a better reflection of who has the most and least top-end talent, and yes, the Giants have graduated all of those guys.  But I'd have to believe the Giants' No. 20-30 prospects are better than many other organizations at that tier."

Prediction:  Brandon Crawford will wing his first Gold Glove this year.

Shawn Payne is limited to LF because of his arm.

Answer to Shankbone Q:  3 relievers to watch this year- Jacob Dunnington, Mason Tobin, Osich.

Another Shankbone Q:  Ownership is very stable right now.  Maybe most stable in all of baseball!  "I don't think you'll see a repeat of the Peter Magowan years when the farm budget was utterly plundered so Barry Bonds could have a Michael Tucker augmenting the roster."

Owners have seen their franchise value soar with sales of Dodgers and Padres.  They will have to resist the temptation to become the Red Sox now that the Dodgers are the Yankees of the West.  So far they seem to be.

Nice AQA.  Some of it was just stating the obvious.  Some of if validated stuff we've been saying for awhile now such as the Giants have some depth in the farm system even if they don't have a ton of blue-chippers.  Some of it was very revealing about Baggs frustration with some of the naysayers.  I don't recall Baggs being so aggressive in defending the Giants management.  The naysayers will probably say it's because Baggs is now working for CSN Bay Area and they are partly owned by the Giants, but I don't see Baggs as a guy who is just going to toe the party line if he doesn't really believe it.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #42: Conor Gillaspie

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

AAA:  .281/.345/.441, 14 HR, 41 BB, 54 K's in 413 AB.

MLB:  .150/.150/.200 in 20 AB.

Conor Gillaspie was a supplemental first round draft pick by the Giants in the 2008 draft, after hitting over .400 for Wichita St.  Since then, he has moved steadily through the system until repeating at Fresno in 2012.  He has maintained a steady BA between .280 and .290 throughout most of his minor league career.  He has had 3 separate cups of coffee in the majors with varied results, but has mostly looked overmatched.  Defensively, he seems anchored to 3B where he seems to have improved his shaky defense.

Because of an apparent signing promise by the Giants to add him to the MLB roster in Sept of 2008, Conor will be out of options this spring.   The Giants will have to either keep him on the 25 man active roster or expose him to waivers.  Barring some unexpected developments in spring training, it does not appear that there is a place for him on the active roster, so we'll see what happens.

His main strength is a consistent ability to control the strike zone which should allow him to achieve a respectable BA in the majors.  It's just that it comes with marginal power at best, no speed and pedestrian defense with no positional flexibility.  It seems to me that his best bet at this point is to hope to be claimed off waivers or traded to a rebuilding team like the Astros or Marlins who can afford to give him the opportunity to play at the MLB level.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #41: Austin Fleet

Austin Fleet, RHP.  DOB:  4/17/1987.  6'2", 200 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

AA:  2-3, 3.83, 56.1 IP, 21 BB, 54 K's, GO/AO= 0.93, 4 Saves.

Austin Fleet has flown under the radar since being drafted in the 16'th round in 2010.  He was a successful college closer for Coastal Carolina, a fine mid-major program.  The Giants have used him as both a starter and reliever in the pros.  He was strictly a reliever for 2012. He has put up better K ratios as a reliever. If he follows his natural progression, he should be pitching out of the bullpen in Fresno in 2013.  I could see him having a similar season to George Kontos.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #40: Eric Surkamp

Eric Surkamp, LHP.  DOB:  7/16/1987.  6'5", 215 lbs.  B-L, T-L.


I moved Eric Surkamp up a notch from my original list here but I probably still have him too low.  I have always been a bit standoffish with Surkamp despite his stellar K ratios in the minors because he just seemed like a low ceiling guy who was feasting on the inexperienced to me.  He got a late look in the majors in 2011 and I found his curveball, which had been touted to be his best pitch, to be underwhelming.

Then, I got to see him pitch in person in spring training 2012 facing the Seattle Mariners with Felix Hernandez on the mound.  I came away very impressed.  Granted, there are probably some AAA teams that hit better than the 2012 Mariners, but Surkamp had good command of a fastball that seemed to sit right at 90 MPH and was able to keep hitters off balance with a very good breaking ball and best of all a MLB caliber changeup.

Then, Surkamp injured his elbow and underwent TJ surgery before throwing a regular season pitch.  If he comes back fully healthy from that, he could easily move back to the top of the depth chart for a mid-season callup should the need arise.  On the other hand, the 1 year layoff has allowed guys like Mike Kickham and Chris Heston to catch up on the experience side to the point where even if he is back to 100%, he might not be the clear choice anymore.

He's a tough one to rank.  While we see a lot of success stories post-TJ, the landscape is still littered with pitchers who never make it back all the way.  I'm fairly comfortable ranking him this low until he proves he is healthy and has his command back.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Marco Gonzales

Minor League Rundown has a new mock draft up linked over at Big League Futures.  It has LHP Marco Gonzales  from Gonzaga going to the Giants at #26.  Let's take a look at Gonzalez:

Gonzales is listed at 6'1", 185 lbs in the Gonzaga website.  In his sophomore year last year, he put up a line of 8-2, 1.55, 92.2 IP, 23 BB, 92 K's.  Gonzales doesn't have great velocity.  He FB tops out at 92 MPH, but as you can see from the stat line, he has great command.  He can cut the fastball and has a slider as well as a plus changeup to go with it that is his best pitch.  He led Baseball USA to a bronze medal in the summer of 2012.  He also made two appearances in the Cape Cod League with a record of 1-0, 0.00, 10 IP, 0 BB, 13 K's.

Marco Gonzales would be a solid pick at #26 with a relatively low ceiling but a high probability of reaching it.

I have to say, though, that this same mock draft had HS OF Justin Williams at #27 and HS SS Chris Rivera at #28.  I would think I had died and gone to heaven if the Giants were to draft either of these players at #26, so I think maybe I should do profiles on them too.  Before you get too excited, you should know that most mock drafts and rankings have Justin Williams a lot higher, more in the 10-15 range and at least one mock draft I saw recently has Rivera going to Houston at # 1 overall as a signability pick similar to Carlos Correa last year.  But yeah, Justin Williams looks like a clone of Jason Heyward and Chris Rivera is a high ceiling SS who looks like he can stick at the position, but can hit well enough that he could make it as a 3B too.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #39: Kendry Flores

Kendry Flores, RHP.  DOB:  11/24/1991.  6'2", 175 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Short Season:  1-3, 4.46, 42.1 IP, 11 BB, 34 K's.

Kendry Flores has been inching his way through the Giants farm system since 2009 when he was  signed as a 17 y.o out of he D.R.  He has put up consistently good K/BB, but his ERA has not been as impressive.  One interesting trend is a steadily decreasing GO/AO from 1.89 in 2009 to 1.23 to 0.90 to 0.70 in 2012.  So, he's morphed from a fairly extreme groundball pitcher to fairly extreme flyball pitcher.  Most analysts would say that is a negative, but the Giants have been confounding analysts for years with their flyball tendencies.  No recent scouting reports on what kind of stuff he throws.  A logical destination for 2013 would be the rotation in Augusta for his age 21 season.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #38: Jacob Dunnington

Jacob Dunnington, RHP.  DOB:  2/2/1991.  6'2", 160 lbs.  B-L, T-R.

Low A:  1-0, 4.50, 10 IP, 5 BB, 14 K's.

AA:       0-0, 1.76, 15.1 IP, 8 BB, 18 K's.

AFL:  0-1, 6.75, 9.1 IP, 4 BB, 14 K's.

OK, I admit I had no idea where to rank Jacob Dunnington who might be one of the more intriguing prospects in the Giants system, but remains intriguing precisely because we still don't know all that much about him.  He was signed as an undrafted FA out of HS which makes him unusual right out of the chute.  The fact that he bore such a striking resemblance in many ways to Tim Lincecum only heightened the sense of intrigue.  Smallish, boyish looking, Washington State, heck, he even bats lefthanded!

The big problem in evaluating him is that after 3 seasons in the system, we still have a very small sample size of under 120 IP.  On the plus side, he has maintained K rates well above 9 per 9 innings.  His walk rates could stand to be lower but they are not terrible.  His ERA's have been variable.

We know little about his scouting report.  I found an article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch from this last August that suggested he has filled out his frame to 180 lbs and has gotten his velocity as high as 95 MPH.  That's about it.  If those things are true, at age 22, 2013 should be a time for him to take the next step and build up some innings.

I would expect to see him back in Richmond to start the 2013 season.  Given the relative weakness of the pitching coming up from last year's San Jose team, I wonder if we'll see him in the Richmond rotation?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Third Base Rankings

Third Base has gotten a reputation for being thin, but I'm not so sure that is true anymore.  There are several young third sackers who are coming into their own, or are likely to in the near future, like maybe this season.  Let's break it down:

1.  Miguel Cabrera, Tigers.  109 R, 44 HR, 139 RBI, .330 BA, 4 SB, 622 AB.  The class of the position and it's not at all close.  I have Miggy Cab as a top 3 overall fantasy player along with Ryan Braun and Mike Trout.

2.  Adrian Beltre, Rangers.  95 R, 36 HR, 102 RBI, .321 BA, 1 SB, 604 AB.  Beltre is the best of the second tier 3B.  Coming off his best season since he was with the Dodgers a long time ago.

3.  David Wright, Mets.  91 R, 21 HR, 93 RBI, .306 BA, 15 SB, 581 AB.  Wright's big appeal is that he will give you double digit SB's when healthy.  Big question mark is health, but he seems to be in good shape for now.  Some fantasy gurus would rank him above Beltre due to the SB potential.

4.  Chase Headley, Padres.  95 R, 31 HR, 115 RBI, .286 BA, 17 SB, 604 AB.  Headley had a monster breakout season last year.  Only question is can he keep it up?  He was highly thought of as a prospect and had been seen as a bit of a underachiever, so there is a good chance it was a true breakout.  The fences moving in should help stave off a regression too.

5.  Aramis Ramirez, Brewers.  92 R, 27 HR, 105 RBI, .300 BA, 9 SB, 570 AB.  Ramirez is getting a bit long in the tooth and is often undervalued but he almost always give solid production.  Safe fantasy draft selection.

6.  Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.  93 R, 25 HR, 95 RBI, .282 BA, 5 SB, 578 AB.  Zimmerman has disappeared at times and been hurt a lot.   Usually a solid producer when healthy, though.

7.  Evan Longoria, Rays.  39 R, 17 HR, 55 RBI, .289 BA, 2 SB, 273 AB.  Missed over half of last season with injury.  Potential for elite production when healthy.  Those who believe he will stay healthy will likely rank him higher.

8.  Pablo Sandoval, Giants.  59 RBI, 12 HR, 63 RBI, .283 BA, 1 SB, 396 AB.  I think Sandoval is headed for a huge breakout season for the simple reason he does not have any more hamate bones left in his body to break.  Fantasy managers who only look at full season lines will undervalue him, but he could have blown his cover with that offensive explosion in the World Series.  Gotta be at least a bit concerned about his conditioniong too.

9.  Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays.  73 R, 11 HR, 48 RBI, .273 BA, 13 SB, 494 AB.  Lawrie was drafted very high last year with wildly unrealistic expectations.  PT was limited by injuries.  His numbers actually are not that bad when projected to 600 AB.  He has some post-hype sleeperishness about him this year and would make a nice late pickup if he falls.

10.  David Freese, Cardinals.  70 R, 20 HR, 79 RBI, .293 BA, 3 SB, 501 AB.  Nice fail safe pick to keep in mind if you want to invest in other positions.  Can make a nice IF or Util guy for your roster too.  Again, 600 AB would make his number look a lot better.

11.  Pedro Alvarez, Pirates.  64 R, 30 HR, 85 RBI, .244 BA, 1 SB, 525 AB.  Alvarez had something of a breakout year last year with the 30 dingers.  Don't forget he was the second overall draft pick in 2008, 3 spots ahead of Buster Posey, so it's entirely possible that this is just scratching the surface for him.  In any event, he makes a nice late round grab if you need more power in your lineup and ditto for IF and Util slots.

12.  Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox.  34 R, 15 HR, 54 RBI, .288 BA, 4 SB, 267 AB.  Middlebrooks was a callup last year then missed a big part of the season with injury.  A lot an analysts are not enamored with high K rates and low BB rates, but he's got size at 6'4", 225 lbs and plays in the right ballpark to maximize his power numbers.  Don't forget about this guy if you find yourself watching a run on 3B.

13.  Mike Moustakas, Royals.  69 R, 20 HR, 73 RBI, .242 BA, 5 SB, 563 AB.  Moose Tacos is another guy who may have suffered from unrealistic expectations.  20 HR is not at all bad for a kid playing his first full MLB season, though, and he should be on the steep portion of the upward swing of his career trajectory.  I would actually feel very comfortable with him as a late, late round fallback option.

14. Todd Frazier, Reds.  55 R, 19 HR, 67 RBI, .273 BA, 3 SB, 422 AB.  It looks like Scott Rolen is done, so that should give Frazier a solid chance for 600 AB with the requisite increase in his counting stats.  Another solid late option.

15.  Kyle Seager, Mariners.  62 R, 20 HR, 86 RBI, .259 BA, 13 SB, 594 AB.  Seager had a very unnoticed and underrated season last year.  He was also in just his first full MLB season so he should be on an upward trajectory. Yet another safety valve pick to consider at the end of your draft.

16.  Manny Machado, Orioles.  24 R, 7 HR, 26 RBI, .262 BA, 2 SB, 191 AB.  Machado may be of more interest in keeper leagues, but he could also be a factor re-draft leagues this year, especially in larger ones or AL only leagues.  Some fantasy owners will undoubtedly draft him as a 3B and then pray that the Orioles trade JJ Hardy, but Machado is big enough with enough power potential that he could have fantasy value as a 3B too.  He should develop into an elite SS in future seasons.

Rookie Watch:  Nolan Arenado, Rockies.  Arenado got all hyped up after a strong 2011 season in the Cal League and a huge AFL stint.  His AA numbers were not as impressive, but not terrrible by any. He has decent walk rates and excellent K rates with solid power numbers.  He should do very well in Coors Field once he gets established there.  Will probably start the season in AAA.

In summary, Cabrera is a top 3 fantasy player while there are at least 7 or 8 more players worth drafting early or paying for in an auction draft.  In addition there are several players with upside worth taking a chance on late in the draft.  3B may be a position you look to for IF and Util production in addition to the primary position.

Personally, I would either pay a high price for Cabrera or target Sandoval and/or Lawrie in the middle rounds.  If I whiff on those, I would be happy with Alvarez, Middlebrooks, Moustakas or Frazier as fallback options.

I find 3B to be a very solid position with potential for a lot more this year.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #37: Chris Gloor

Chris Gloor, LHP.  DOB:  3/7/1987.  6'6", 255 lbs.  B-L, T-L.

AA:  4-5, 2.81, 105.2 IP, 29 BB, 74 K, GO/AO= 0.86.

AFL:  2-2, 2.70, 30 IP, 11 BB, 22 K, GO/AO- 0.73.

Chris Gloor is a jumbo sized LHP with a soft looking body.  He had been on a reliever track since being drafted in the 17'th round of the 2009 draft, but moved into the Richmond starting rotation mid-season last year.  He put up very good numbers and was rewarded with a trip to the AFL where he also worked as a starter, albeit a lot fewer innings per start.

I found a note in BA from the AFL opener with the following comment:  ".....touch and feel lefty who lacks a plus pitch but has had some success thanks to his ability to sink the baseball and hit his spots."  I'm not sure how the "sink the ball" part squares up with his stat line as he appears to be an extreme flyball pitcher.  Usually to be successful, flyball pitchers have to be able to bring the heat up in the zone.

I would think after success in AA and a stint in the AFL, Gloor will be assigned to AAA Fresno for 2013.  I see him as a fringy MLB starter or lefthanded relief specialist at best.

Friday, January 25, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #36: Juan Perez

Juan Perez, OF.  DOB:  11/13/1986.  5'11", 185 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

AA:  .302/.341/.441, 11 HR, 18 SB in 483 AB.

DWL:  .280/.331/.440, 4 HR, 5 SB in 150 AB.

Juan Perez was drafted in the 13'th round of the 2008 draft after putting up video game numbers in JC ball.  This was his second season at AA level after spending 1 year in low A and 1 in San Jose.  As you can see, he put up a solid line.  He's a bit on the small side, but has enough power to qualify as a marginal 5 tool player.  He has the speed to play CF, but has also played the corners.  Realistic ceiling is 4'th OF.  The Giants have a whole stable full of his type of player, so a path to the majors with the Giants is not clear.  I do think he has the tools and skills to have a nice career as a 4'th OF in MLB though.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hot Stove Update: D'Backs Trade Justin Upton to the Braves

After over a year of rumored shopping of Justin Upton, the D'Backs today finally pulled the trigger on a trade to the Atlanta Braves for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado and 3 prospects.  The D'Backs also sent Chris Johnson to the Braves along with Upton to replace Prado at 3B.

Whenever I analyze a trade, I look at who the best player in the trade is, the ceiling of any prospects involved and money.  There is little doubt in my mind that the best player in this trade was Justin Upton.  I don't think it's really a close call on that one.  IMO, Upton also has the highest ceiling of any player in the trade including the prospects.  As for money, Upton is under contract for the next 3 seasons for a total of about $38 M, which is a bargain for a player of his caliber these days.  True, he had a down year last season, but he played with an injured thumb which tends to make hitting painful and difficult.

It's not that Prado is not a good player.  He is a very good player coming off a very good season.  Prado plays hard and plays multiple positions.  The problem is this trade is not about what happened last season.  It's about the future, for both teams.  Here are Upton's and Prado's hitting stats from last season:

Justin Upton:  .280/.355/.430 with 17 HR, 18 SB.
Martin Prado: .301/.359/.438 with 10 HR, 17 SB.

Pretty close, except that last year was likely Justin Upton's floor while it was likely Martin Prado's ceiling!

The D'Backs have made some head scratching moves in the last couple of seasons.  This offseason alone, they have unloaded Chris Young, Trevor Bauer and now Justin Upton.  Last year, they happily unloaded Stephen Drew and traded Jarrod Parker to the A's for Trevor Cahill.

Coming out of the 2011 season when they won the division, it looked like the D'Backs were building a formidable team for the future.  They had a nice core of athletic position players who were still on the upward career trajectory to go with a solid pitching staff with the best stable of pitching prospects in baseball.  At this point, it's pretty hard to figure out what they have.  The athletic core has been dismantled, and the pitching future looks a whole lot less formidable.

As for prospects in the trade, Randall Delgado has some upside as a pitcher.  Nick Ahmed looks like he can stick at SS, but why did they make that trade for Didi then?  The other two kids appear to be lottery tickets at best.

The Braves now have one of the most dynamic outfields in baseball with Justin and BJ Upton along with Jason Heyward.  20/20 guys all with potential for much more.

At this point, the Braves have to be considered the clear winners of this trade.  D'Backs fans have to be disappointed in the return they got for Justin Upton.  The D'Backs likely got much less than they could have by telegraphing, no, advertising, no, shouting from the rootops their desire to trade him.  That, coupled with trading him after a down season undoubtedly caused them to sell low, which they also did with Jarrod Parker, Stephen Drew and Trevor Bauer.

What do you think of this trade?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #35: Nick Noonan

Nick Noonan, IF.  DOB:  5/4/1989.  6'1", 170 lbs.  B-L, T-R.

AAA:  .296/.347/.416, 9 HR, 7 SB.

Nick Noonan had a solid season at the plate for Fresno while playing multiple positions, including SS.  The position flexibility opens up multiple paths to the major leagues, if nothing else, as a reserve/utility player.  Seems to me the Hairstons have had long careers and made a lot of money using this game plan.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #34 Chris Dominguez

Chris Dominguez, OF.  DOB:  11/22/1986.  6'5", 235 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

AA:  .223/.254/.303, 2 HR, 7 BB, 50 K's in 223 AB.

AA:  .247/.264/.362, 3 HR, 2 BB, 47 K's in 174 AB.

AFL:  .317/.364/.585, 3 HR, 2 BB, 17 K's in 41 AB.

Chris Dominguez probably has the biggest raw power in the entire Giants organization.  The problem is the ball is not going anywhere unless it makes contact with the bat first!  The Giants liberated Dominguez from Richmond around mid-season, probably in hopes that a change of scenery and a more favorable hitting environment in Fresno might get his bat going.  While his line in Fresno was marginally better, it was not enough to make you think he is anywhere near ready to jump to the majors.

He has a plus-plus defensive throwing arm but is a lumberer on the field.  You really hate to give up on the power, but it might be time for him to start thinking about trying his luck on the mound.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Second Base Rankings

Second Base is a thin position.  If you want any kind of plus production from the position, it will cost you.  Here's what's out there:

1.  Robinson Cano, Yankees.  105 R, 33 HR, 94 RBI, .313 BA, 3 SB, 627 AB.  There is not wider break between the top player at the position and the rest of the field than Cano at 2B.  I would rank him #4 overall behind the 3 headed monster of Trout, Braun and Cabrera.  He's a nice piece to build a team around if you miss out on one of them.

2.  Aaron Hill, D'Backs.  87 R, 26 HR, 85 RBI, .302 BA, 14 SB, 609 AB.  Hill had a huge season last year.  He's had his ups and downs and it could be a career year, but in a weak field, you have to take the chance that he can come close to that again.

3.  Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox.  81 R, 15 HR, 65 RBI, .290 BA, 20 SB, 563 AB.  Pedroia will give you solid production in 5 categories.

4. Ben Zobrist, Rays.  88 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, .270 BA, 14 SB, 560 AB.  Zobrist also has SS eligibility, but given the weakness of the current 2B crop, it's probably a tossup which position you use him in.  He also has OF eligibility so versatility is big plus.

5.  Brandon Phillips, Reds.  86 R, 18 HR, 77 RBI, .281 BA, 15 SB, 580 AB.  Solid 5 category production.

6.  Ian Kinsler, Rangers.  105 R, 19 HR, 72 RBI, .256 BA, 21 SB, 655 AB.  Just missed as a 20/20 guy.  Some people would rank him higher, but the BA hurts.

7.  Jason Kipnis, Indians.  86 R, 14 HR, 76 RBI, .257 BA, 31 SB, 591 AB.  Kipnis has the added allure of being young and on the upward arc of his career trajectory.  A good guy to target in the middle rounds.  There will be managers hunting the SB's though, so you can't wait too long.

8.  Jose Altuve, Astros.  80 R, 7 HR, 65 RBI, .290 BA, 33 SB, 576 AB.  Nice late pick for SB's while bolstering your BA.  Watch out for the SB hunters though.

9.  Danny Espinosa, Nationals.  82 R, 17 HR, 56 RBI, .247 BA, 20 SB, 594 AB.  20/20 potential.  Also has SS eligibility.  The BA hurts, though.

10.  Marco Scutaro, Giants.  87 R, 7 HR, 74 RBI, .306 BA, 9 SB, 620 AB.  Doesn't add much in HR and SB's, but  solid in BA, R, RBI.  Can't count on another half season as hot as last year's second half, though.

11.  Rickie Weeks, Brewers.  85 R, 21 HR, 63 RBI, .230 BA, 16 SB, 588 AB.  Could be undervalued here.  20/20 potential, although I'm not sure he will ever see 20 SB again.  BA hurts a lot, but should rebound some in 2013.

12.  Omar Infante, Tigers.  69 RBI, 12 HR, 53 RBI, .274 BA, 17 SB, 554 AB.  Pedestrian production, but a nice fallback option if you want to wait until the end of the draft.

13.  Neil Walker, Pirates.  62 RBI, 14 HR, 69 RBI, 7 SB, .280 BA, 472 AB.  Another nice fallback option.

14.  Howie Kendrick, Angels.  57 R, 8 HR, 67 RBI, 14 SB, .287 BA, .550 AB.  My days of thinking this guy might win a batting title are over.  He won't hurt your BA, but that's about all you can say positive.  One of the emptiest BA's in all of baseball, if you ask me.

15.  Daniel Murphy, Mets.  62 RBI, 6 HR, 65 RBI, 10 SB, .291 BA, 571 AB.  Another empty BA.

16.  Dan Uggla, Braves.  86 R, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 4 SB, .220 BA, 523 AB.  Dude helps you in 3 categories, but kills your BA.  Someone in your league will probably pay quite a bit for him.  Let them!

17.  Dustin Ackley, Mariners.  84 R, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 13 SB, .226 BA, 607 AB.  If you believe in career trajectories, you might look at the 84 R, and double digit HR's and SB's and think his BA will be a lot better in 2013.  Could be a post-hype sleeper.

18. Chase Utley, Phillies.  48 R, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 11 SB, .256 BA, 301 AB.  Utley is damaged goods and may never play a full season again, but gives solid, though not elite production when he is in there.  Might be worth a flyer late if it looks like he will start the season out of the gate.

Rookie Watch:  Kolton Wong, Cardinals.  Wong is obviously the Cards 2B of the future.  Descalso will probably start the season at 2B.  Wong could be called up sometime midseason and is a good bet to contribute in 5 categories from the get-go.

My advice is to either go large and get Cano or keep your powder dry and take whatever falls to the bottom of the draft.

Monday, January 21, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #33: Roger Kieschnick

Roger Kieschnick, OF.  DOB: 1/21/1987.  6'3", 220 lbs.   B-L, T-R.

AAA:  .306/.376/.604, 15 HR in 222 AB.
DWL:  .228/.308/.391, 4 HR in 92 AB.

Roger Kieschnick was off to a great start to his 2012 season in Fresno when he fractured his left shoulder crashing into the LF wall trying to catch a ball.  The injury, which is not expected to have any long lasting effects kept him out of the Fresno lineup until late August.  He then went to the DWL to get in some of the AB's he missed out on in the regular season.

Kieschnick has been one of the Giants better power hitting prospects since he was drafted in round 3 of the 2008 draft, the same year Buster Posey was taken in the first round.  His main problem as a prospect is that he has lost the better part of 2 developmental seasons to injury which leaves him at age 26 with no clear path to the majors in the organization that controls his destiny.  Having said that, LF in 2013 is probably far from a done deal in SF and I could see Kieschnick drawing a long look in Spring Training and getting called up if he's tearing it up in Fresno and the Giants MLB options in LF are stinking it up.

Roger K also has tools.  Speed is probably his weakest asset, but he can cover a corner OF position and not be a negative.  He has a great throwing arm.  He has solid power.  The hit tool may be marginal, but he's done well when healthy.  I probably should have ranked him higher as he likely has about as much chance as Francisco Peguero of winning a MLB job within the next 2 years.  He better do it in that window, though, or time will run out on him.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #32: Eduardo "EJ" Encinosa

Eduardo "EJ" Encinosa, RHP.  DOB 8/5/1991.  6'5",  225 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Miami(college)- 3-3, 2.79, 29 IP, 17 BB, 39 K, 8 Saves.

Rookie AZL:  2-2, 2.19, 12.1 IP, 4 BB, 14 K's, GO/AO= 3.17, 4 Saves.

Yet another big bodied college reliever tabbed by the Giants in round 7 of the 2012 draft.  BA's pre-draft scouting report listed him at 242 lbs.  BA has him with a 93-94 MPH fastball with excellent sink and life. He's hard to hit allowing just 1 extra-base hit and a BAA of .129 in college.  He lost the closer job in Miami due to control issues.  He's also got some mound demeanor issues, showing up infielders who make mistakes behind him.  He was fine in the AZL, but that is probably too low a level for him.  If he can continue to put it on the ground at a 3-1 rate, he should be able to just pound the zone with that sinker and not worry about missing bats.  Usually guys who start out in Arizona find themselves in Augusta for their first full season.  I wouldn't be shocked if Encinosa is the closer there in 2013.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More Kudos to the Niners!

No, I'm not turning this into a Niners' blog, but this team did give the Giants a lot of emotional support on the Giants way to a World Series Championship.  Man, did they ever get it done today, or what?  I think they came out a bit tentative due to all the crowd noise in that echo chamber, but once they got their feet on the ground, they just dominated.

I hope we see some stories of Giants players returning the support they got from the Niners as we lead up to the Super Bowl.

Oh, and nobody deserves this more than Frank Gore who has been a warrior on a lot of bad teams and is finally on a team deserving of his talents and heart.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

RIP Stan Musial and Earl Weaver

Baseball lost two legendary Hall of Famers today with the passing of Earl Weaver at age 82 and Stan "The Man" Musial at age 92.

Weaver was manager of the great Baltimore Oriole teams of the 70's and early 80's.  He was outspoken and blunt with players and famously with umpires, but he got players to perform for him.  If you are one of those people who think Billy Beane invented Moneyball, well, he didn't.  Earl Weaver summed up his strategy for winning by saying game were won by great pitching and 3 run homers.  OBP and SLG%, there you have it, 3 decades before Moneyball!  He was also ahead of his time in understanding and promoting the value of defense. He may not have had the statistics at his disposal, but he understood there was more to defense than not making errors.  He said that his centerfielder, Paul Blair, never made a great catch because on any ball hit in the park Blair was already there, camped under it.  Weaver was famous for playing inferior hitters, such as Mark Belanger and Blair, at key positions because of their superior defense.  The MLB eulogy for Weaver tells a story of how his RF Pat Kelly invited him to church.  Weaver declined.  As the story goes, Kelly asked him, "don't you want to walk with God?"  Weaver reportedly replied, "I'd rather walk with the bases loaded."  Not sure I believe every word of that story, but it does illustrate how Weaver was ahead of his time in understanding the value of a base on balls.

Stan Musial was to the St. Louis Cardinals what Willie Mays is to the Giants.  The embodiment of the organization.  The greatest player in the history of a storied franchise.  During his 21+ year career, all with the Cardinals, he won 3 MVP awards, 3 World Series, and 7 batting titles and a career .331 BA.  When he retired, he held or shared 17 MLB records and 29 NL records and still ranks among the leaders in many categories.  In his greatest season, 1948, he led the NL in Runs(135), hits(230), doubles(46), triples(18), RBI's(131) and BA(.376), SLG%(.702) and Total Bases(429) while finishing second in HR's(39) just 1 behind Ralph Kiner.

I have a friend and colleague who grew up, lived and worked in St. Louis for most of his life and his career.  He has a full Stan Musial road uniform on display in a glass case in his house.  I think it is his most treasured possession.

So, RIP Earl Weaver and Stan "The Man" Musial.  Two baseball legends who made the game better and all of us happier in their own way.

Scouting the Draft: Michael Lorenzen

My MLB Draft has a revised mock draft up that has Fullerton OF/RHP Michael Lorenzen going to the Giants at #26.  I it just so happens that Minor League Ball has a profile up on Lorenzen too.  So, let's take a look at Michael Lorenzen.

I remember that Lorenzen was a highly rated HS player coming into the 2010 draft.  He chose to go to college at CS Fullerton where he has played CF and pitched out of the bullpen.  Lorenzen is listed as 6'2, 180 lbs., or 6'3", 195 lbs. depending on your source.  He looks closer to the 6'3" in videos.  He has long arms and legs giving him a lanky look.  He may have room to fill out his frame, but looking at the vids, I am not so sure he will carry extra weight all that well.  That is just the way he is built.  He is a 5 tool player whose best tool is his arm.  He has hit 98 on radar guns and has a good slider to go with it, causing some scouts to think he might be a better pitching prospect than hitting prospect.  The big question, as it seems to be with most toolsy guys, is the bat.

I agree with Matt Garrioch.  The swing looks long and a bit on the slow side, maybe a bit uncoordinated. He has a lot of elbows and knees  and hips flying every which way, which reminds me a lot of Hunter Pence!  He has speed to play CF and the arm to play RF and he can steal a base.  He plays in a conference that tends to favor pitching.

Michael Lorenzen would be a risky pick with a high ceiling and a fallback option of converting to pitching if the bat fails to develop.

2012 NCAA:  .297/.353/.435, 2 HR, 14 SB.
                     2-0, 1.23, 22 IP, 5 BB, 17 K's, 16 Saves.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #31: Mason McVay

Mason McVay, LHP.  DOB:  8/15/1990.  6'7", 230 lbs.  B-L, T-L.

Short Season:  1-0, 1.19, 30.1 IP, 13 BB, 43 K's, 1 Save, GO/AO= 1.42, BAA= .207.

Mason McVay is a jumbo sized LHP drafted in round 26 of the 2013 draft out of Florida International.  McVay made a successful transition to starting for FIU in 2012 and put up an ERA of 3.36 with 72 K's in 64 IP.  On the downside, he also walked 41, but as you can see, he cut down on the walk rate in a small pro sample size after the draft.  He reportedly hit 94 MPH with the fastball as a college reliever but sat 87-90 as a starter.  His secondary pitches are described as "fringy."  He is a Tommy John surgery survivor.

Maybe the Giants were able to tweak something to get the walk rate down?  A LHP that size who can pound the zone, get the K's and keep the ball on the ground is a very valuable commodity who might even have a chance to move back into a starting role.  I think you could make a case for putting McVay higher on this list, but no matter where you put him, it sure is great to have a guy like him all the way down on the fringes of a top 30 prospects list!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Jonah Wesely

Big League Futures website has their second mock draft up.  They have HS LHP Jonah Wesely going to the Giants at #26.  So, let's take a look at Jonah Wesely.

Jonah Wesely, LHP.  Tracy, CA HS.  DOB: 12/8/1994.  6'2", 215 lbs.  B-L, T-L.

2012 HS:  5-1, 0.95, 37 IP, 13 BB, 79 K's.

Wesely has a stocky body that reminds me a lot of Brett Anderson of the A's.  He has what I would call a drop and drive delivery with some effort.  Terrific arm speed.  In a scouting video form the Perfect Game All American Classic in San Diego, he looked like he had a bit of a wild hair up his nose, as Kruk would say.

Big League Futures scouting report has him at 88-93 with the fastball.  Perfect Game also has him at 92-93.  He also has a curve that is above average now with plus potential and a developing changeup that shows potential.

I like Wesely.  Worst case scenario is he turns into a useful lefthanded reliever who can face an occasional RH batter and get away with it.  Best case is he's a workhorse #3, 4 starter.  Not necessarily someone I'd be ecstatic about the Giants drafting in the first round, but I wouldn't be disappointed either.

News and Notes

OK, team!  There are a few things going on that area worth catching up on:

Giants get a bunch of arbitration guys signed.  Pence for $13.8 M, Buster $8 M, Mijares $1.8 M, Blanco $1.35 M. When the Nationals can sign Rafael Soriano to a 2 year/$28 M contract, I don't think anyone cares about the money anymore.  For all practical purposes, there is no such thing as a payroll budget in baseball and any team that claims there is, is lying.

These 1 year contracts do not preclude longer term deals later on.  I predict we'll see one for Buster, but not for the other 3.

Glad to see Mijares and Blanco crack the $1 M mark.  Of course, even $1 M, after taxes, does not give you financial security, but it sure gives them some breathing room if they are wise with it.  I like to see guys who work hard and contribute on the margins take some financial security away from the game.

And, $8 M for Buster!  OMG!  After what they young man has done for this team and what he went through with that injury?  Now THAT is a bargain beyond belief!  Yeah, Buster.  You earned every penny of that!

Speaking of Buster, how great is it that he visited Yogi Berra at Yogi's museum?  Great Q/A with Buster afterwards.  He seemed genuinely in awe of the fact that Yogi was part of the D-Day invasion in WWII.  Funniest comment(talking about the injury and blocking home plate):  "Yogi was telling me he used to straddle home plate.  I'm definitely not going that route."  LOL!

Nice link over on Giants Extra to a shoutout by ESPN's David Schoenfield about Brandon Crawford's defense.

Pablo Sandoval hospitalized in Venezuela with "abdominal inflammation" which can mean almost anything.  His brother reportedly tweeted that it was "colitis" and he's already been released.  Hopefully it was just something he caught from drinking the water or something.

Love the collection of minor league signings.  I'm guessing word has gotten out that if you sign a minor league contract with the Giants, you have a great chance of ending up as part of a World Series Championship team.  Competition for that last spot or two in the bullpen is gonna be fierce, although if they sign Brandon Lyon as rumored, it will suck some of the oxygen out of it.

Any other stories out there I should be paying attention to?

Pitchers and catchers report on February 13.  That's less than 4 weeks away, folks!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #30: Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson, RHP.  DOB:  2/21/1991.  6'4", 205 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Rookie AZL:  0-0, 4.50, 2 IP, 2 BB, 2 K's.

Short Season:  0-2, 4.66, 19.1 IP, 12 BB, 19 K's, 2 Saves.

Stephan Johnson is yet another hard throwing college reliever.  He was rated by BA as the top ranked draft eligible player from a non-D1 college.  Johnson's name hit the draft site radars around the midway point of the college season when reports started surfacing of him regularly hitting triple digits on the radar guns.  Scouts started making pilgrimages out to his games, but then word got out there was nothing to see there, and the crickets started chirping again.  I'm guessing it was some Giants scout that put out the word about the loss of velocity just to throw the dogs off the scent, because guess who called his name in the 6'th round of the draft?  Yup, he's ours now!

BA's pre-draft scouting report had him sitting at 94-96 mph in the summer of 2011 with the Santa Barbara Foresters, then 98-101 out of the bullpen in college.  "The 6'4", 205-pounder pitches mostly off his fastball, which features some run and sink, and his hard slurve parks at 81-85 mph when it's on.  Johnson has a funky arm action with a stab in the back, resulting in just decent command. and perhaps limiting his realistic ceiling to set-up man rather than closer."

A word of caution:  He was diagnosed with a partial elbow tear as a HS senior, but chose rehab over surgery and has had no reported problems since.

If you are looking for a small something to help you believe in this guy, he did not allow a run in his last 4 appearances with S-K over 5.1 IP with 3 BB, and 8 K's.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #29: Ian Gardeck

Ian Gardeck, RHP.  DOB:  11/21/1990.  6'2", 215 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Short Season:  2-2, 4.20, 30 IP, 24 BB, 45 K's, GO/AO= 1.56, BAA= .196.

Ian Gardeck was drafted by the Giants in the 16'th round of the 2012 draft for his arm, pure and simple.  His BA pre-draft scouting report says he was highly touted coming out of JUCO ball.  He was drafted in the 8'th round, and was projected to be Alabama's top prospect.  He sported a fastball that reached 98 MPH and a "plus-plus slider."  He proceeded to fall flat on his face at Alabama and pitched just 12 innings with 12 BB and 16 K's.

The Giants showed some faith in him by assigning him to Salem-Keizer instead of Arizona.  While he still had control issues, he pitched pretty well.  I believe he profiles strictly as a reliever.  If he can harness his stuff, he could turn into a fast mover.

Fantasy Focus: First Base Rankings

No position in MLB highlights the decline in power more than first base.  I just ain't what it used to be!  The top tier has come back to the pack to the point where it is difficult, if not impossible to find a player you can count on to hit more than 30 HR's.  The good news is there is still value down into the high teens here so you should still be able to use a first baseman or two to fill out your IF and Util positions for your fantasy team.  Here are my rankings for 2013:

1.  Prince Fielder, Tigers.  83 R, 30 HR, 108 RBI, .313 BA, 1 SB, 581 AB.  I paid $30 for Fielder in my auction league last year.  He paid off with solid, unspectacular season.  That is where I have him valued this year too.

2. Albert Pujols, Angels.  85 R, 30 HR, 105 RBI, .285 BA, 8 SB, 607 AB.  Now that Pujols is acclimated to his new home, I could see him having a monster season.  I was tempted to rank him #1 here.  He no longer deserves to be in the $40  club, but I would consider bidding him up into the upper 30's or taking him late first round in a snake draft.

3.  Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers.  75 R, 18 HR, 108 RBI, .299 BA, 2 SB, 629 AB. AGone has never really been the same since injuring his shoulder before the trade to Boston.  He's still a fairly reliable producer and I still look for a small rebound in production in 2013.

4.  Allen Craig, Cardinals.  76 R, 22 HR, 92 RBI, .307 BA, 2 SB, 469 AB.  If Craig can get to 600 AB, he'll be a top producer.  Still on the upswing of his career trajectory.

5.  Joey Votto, Reds.  59 R, 14 HR, 56 RBI, .337 BA, 5 SB, 374 AB.  Joey Votto's season was ruined by injuries. He's always a bit of a risk to miss time for one reason or another, but gives great production when he's in there.  Love, love, love the BA, a frequently overlooked fantasy stat!

6.  Paul Konerko, White Sox.  66 R, 26 HR, 75 RBI, .298 BA, 0 SB,  533 AB.  Konerko is slowly sliding down the backside of his career curve, but it's very hard to beat the consistency he's given for about 10 years.  Does he have another year left?

7.  Anthony Rizzo, Cubs.  44 R, 15 HR, 48 RBI, .285 BA, 3 SB, 337 AB.  If you are looking for a breakout candidate, look no further than Rizzo.  He's still getting established, though, so there is some risk.  Decent bet to get to 30+ HR's though.

8.  Adam LaRoche, Nationals.  76 R, 33 HR, 100 RBI, .271 BA, 1 SB, 571 AB.  LaRoche is a consistent producer over the course of a season, and takes advantage of the jetstream out to RF in Nationals Park.  He is still prone to slumps and I don't trust his BA.

9.  Chris Davis, Orioles.  75 R, 33 HR, 85 RBI, .270 BA, 2 SB, 515 AB.  Chris Davis finally had the season a lot of people have been waiting for.  Not sure I trust him to repeat it, though.

10.  Kendrys Morales, Mariners.  61 R, 22 HR, 73 RBI, .273 BA, 0 SB, 484 AB.  Morales should play every day in Seattle and since he'll be hitting from the left side about 3/4 of the time, the park won't hurt him as much as it does RH hitters.  I'm bargain hunting on him in my upcoming draft.

11.  Paul Goldschmidt, D'Backs.  82 R, 20 HR, 82 RBI, .286 BA, 18 SB!, 514 AB.  Goldschmidt is the rare 1B who gives you 20/20 potential.  I was surprised at how well his BA held up last year too.  Has potential to up his HR's into the 30+ range.

12.  Garrett Jones, Pirates.  68 R, 27 HR, 86 RBI, .274 BA, 2 SB, 475 AB.  Jones had a nice season last year and should get more AB's in 2013.

13.  Ryan Howard, Phillies.  28 R, 14 HR, 56 RBI, .219 BA, 0 SB, 260 AB.  Howard should be healthy for the whole season and should give top notch production in 3 categories.  BA will likely hurt, though.

14.  Adam Dunn, White Sox.  87 R, 41 HR, 96 RBI, .204 BA, 2 SB, 539 AB.  Adam Dunn singlehandedly ruined my 2011 fantasy season.  My friend drafted him last year and he loved the HR production.  He's as good a bet as any to hit another 40 HR's, but that BA is brutal!

15.  Corey Hart, Brewers.  91 R, 30 HR, 83 RBI, .270 BA, 5 SB, 562 AB.  Hart keeps a low profile but gives consistently good production.  He's become more of a power hitter than a 20/20 guy.

16.  Freddie Freeman, Braves.  91 R, 23 HR, 94 RBI, .259 SB, 2 SB, 540 AB.  Freeman demonstrates what hitting in the middle of a good lineup will do for you.  Even a small advance in HR and BA would make him a top notch producer.  Potential for a good value pick late in a draft.

17.  Justin Morneau, Twins.  63 R, 19 HR, 77 RBI, .267 BA, 1 SB, 505 AB.  Can Morneau stay healthy.  Definitely worth a late round flyer to find out if he drops that far.

18.  Mark Teixeira, Yankees.  66 R, 24 HR, 84 RBI, .251 BA, 2 SB, 451 AB.  Oh my!  How Mark Teixeira's stock has dropped!  Still worth a late round flyer, but somebody will probably still draft him a lot higher.

19.  Yonder Alonso, Padres.  47 R, 9 HR, 62 RBI, .273 BA, 3 SB, 549 AB.  I didn't realize Alonso had over 500 AB in 2012.  That is pretty poor production for that many AB's.  Petco is a beast and he's never really been an elite power hitter.  Still, production should improve once Grandal is back to back up Alonso and Headley in the lineup.

20.  Eric Hosmer, Royals.  65 R, 14 HR, 60 RBI, .232 BA, 16 SB, 535 AB.  Hos has a chance to improve on these numbers considerably. Joins Goldy with a chance to be a 20/20 first baseman.

21.  Ike Davis, Mets.  66 RBI, 32 HR, 90 RBI, .227 BA, 0 SB, 519 AB.  Davis is a guy you might roster as a utility guy for his HR's and Ribeyes.  I'd do it only if you are punting BA, though.

Breakout Watch:  Brandon Belt.  Another guy who I think could have a big jump in power and BA with a concomitant rise in R and RBI's.  Bonus is he's another potential 20/20 first baseman.

Chris Carter of Oakland could be hugely productive if Oakland ever puts him at 1B fulltime, but Billy Beane loves him platoons and why not?

Several other players have 1B eligibility like Buster Posey and Mike Napoli, but you will want them to be your catcher if you roster them on your fantasy team.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #28: Steven Okert

Steven Okert, LHP.  DOB:  7/9/1991.  6'3", 210 lbs.  B-L, T-L.

College:  9-8, 3.07, 85 IP, 37 BB, 78 K's.

Rookie AZL:  0-0, 0.00, 2 IP, 1 BB, 6 K's.

Short Season:  2-0, 2.36, 26.2 IP, 11 BB, 22 K, GO/AO= 2.90

Okert was the Giants 4'th round draft choice out of Oklahoma where he pitched out of the Sooners' bullpen.  BA's pre-draft scouting report has his fastball sitting 90-93, consistently touching 95 and maxing out at 97.  It goes on to say that his slider is "death to lefthanded hitters."  His delivery is described as "effortless."  Some scouts think he can start in the pros.  It does look like his walk rates could stand to come down a smidgen.  I would say we'll likely see him in the bullpen in SJ or the rotation in Augusta in 2013.

Monday, January 14, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #27: Bryce Bandilla

Bryce Bandilla, LHP.  DOB:  1/17/1990.  6'4", 235 lbs., B-L, T-L.

Rookie AZL:  0-0, 1.93, 14 IP, 2 BB, 20 K's.

Low A:          2-4, 3.05, 44.1 IP, 28 BB, 48 K's.

Bryce Bandilla is another big, burly, hard-throwing LHP who the Giants drafted out of Arizona in the 4'th round in 2011.  He was a reliever in college, but he made 13 starts out of 15 appearances in his pro debut season in 2012 and pitched effectively against a relatively low level of competition.  The rap on him in college was his control and he again sported a high walk rate which he made up for with a high K rate and low BAA.    It should be noted that 6 of the 18 ER he allowed all season occurred in one start on August 2.  He missed some time to injury in mid-season and was shut down after with about 3 weeks left in the season after August 9.  The midseason injury was reportedly an elbow problem.  The season ending injury was an ankle problem suffered when he fell down some stairs.

His BA pre-draft scouting report has him sitting at 92-95 with the FB and touching 97.  That is complemented by an above-average changeup and a slurvy breaking ball that seems to be still in developmental stages.  He has effort to his delivery and tends to fly open and sail the FB which is where his control problems stem from.

I think he'll probably end up as a reliever, but I love that he's starting now as the starting experience will hold him in good stead when and if he returns to the bullpen.  I'm not sure where we'll see him in 2013.  San Jose is mighty crowded, but Bandilla needs to move up and be challenged.  His assignment will be one of the more interesting stories when minor league rosters are posted.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #26: Josh Osich

Josh Osich, LHP.  DOB:  9/3/1988.  6'3", 235 lbs.  B-L, T-L.

High A:  0-2, 3.62, 32.1 IP, 11 BB, 34 K

Josh Osich is yet another pitcher who is hard to place on this list.  I could see an argument for him being ranked significantly higher.  Halfway through his junior season at Oregon St. in 2011, he was projected as a mid-late first round draft pick with the Giants rumored to be scouting him heavily.  He was coming off Tommy John surgery, but was getting double digit K's and even pitched a no-hitter against Trevor Bauer and UCLA.  Then he started regressing and was rumored to have recurrent arm problems.  The Giants drafted him in the 6'th round while still collecting medical information up until the pick was made.

He made his professional debut in San Jose, an aggressive assignment for a pitcher.  He started out in the bullpen, then made two starts then moved back to the bullpen saying he felt more comfortable there.  He also had two stints on the DL, the second one for shoulder soreness.  He did finish the season with a flourish with 5 shutout innings in his last 5 appearances with 7 K's and just 1 BB in those 5 IP.  He had a 2.19 ERA over his last 12.1 IP.

He apparently still has velocity in the arm.  Giants Director of Players Development, Fred Stanley told Joe Ritzo on, "Well, everyone has to love Osich's arm.  He can throw some bullets out there.  If he stays healthy, he'll be in the big leagues soon."  Osich features a mid-high 90's FB and a solid changeup.  He is just starting to develop a curveball.  He was not allowed to throw breaking balls his last season at Oregon State due to his recent TJ surgery.  Staying healthy would seem to be Osich's biggest challenge.  Questions about his ability to do that are a big reason I did not rank him higher.  That, and I thought it curious that he feels more comfortable in the pen.  That just seems like a strange statement to come from a kid who was a starter for a Pac 12 school.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #25: Brett Bochy

Brett Bochy, RHP.  DOB:  8/27/1987.  6'2", 192 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

AA:  7-3, 2.53, 53.1 IP, 18 BB, 69 K, GO/AO= 0.48, 14 Saves.

Brett Bochy is another one who is hard to place on the prospect heirarchy.  He was drafted out of Kansas in round 20 of the 2010 draft after missing most of his junior season with Tommy John surgery.  He surfaced in Augusta in 2011 and quickly became their close, putting up impressive numbers in a small sample size:  1-0, 1.38, 39 IP, 8 BB, 53 K, 10 Saves.  The Giants promoted him aggressively to AA for 2012 and he absolutely dominated in the first half.  I believe he did not allow an earned run in is first 18 innings or something like that.  Things kind of fell apart in August as his ERA ballooned to 7.36 for the month and he was finally shut down 2 weeks early with pain in his right elbow and what pops described as a "very tired arm."

Bochy's velocity is also a bit of a mystery.  In his BA pre-draft scouting report he reportedly had a 91-93 mph fastball.  I've read multiple recent reports that lead me to believe he may not be throwing that hard now.  You read a lot of comments to the effect that he hides the ball well and the FB looks faster than it is on the radar gun.  I found one 48 second video on Youtube titled Brett Bochy.3gp.  You can't really tell much from that.  There is another video titled Flying Squirrels Insider Episode 4 in which Brett and Justin Fitzgerald demonstrate the Timmy Change that Brett helped Justin perfect.

By the numbers, Brett Bochy should be ranked higher than this, but the velocity questions and arm issues that arose at the end of the season cast a shadow.  Hopefully the arm issue is just a passing fatigue thing.  Stay tuned this spring.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

OT: Hats off to the Niners!

Might be the best game I've ever seen them play and that includes the Montana and Steve Young years.  Just an amazing performance by Kaepernick and the entire team!

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #24: Jake Dunning

Jake Dunning, RHP.  DOB:  8/12/1988.  6'4", 190 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

AA:  5-2, 4.10, 68 IP, 22 BB, 53 K, GO/AO= 1.34, 2 HR allowed, FIP 3.17, BABIP .335.

Dunning was a hard guy to place in this list.  He's a guy who scouts better than the numbers he puts up and he's also a guy who has much better secondary stats than ERA.  I saw him pitch in 2011 for San Jose and really liked what I saw.  He is tall, on the slender side with a long, loose arm and terrific arm speed.  In the game I saw, he sat at 93 MPH with the fastball and touched 95.  I also seem to remember a fairly sharp slider.

There are several potential explanations for the discrepancy between his secondary numbers and his ERA.  1.  Maybe he's just been unlucky.  The fact that his FIP has been significantly better than his ERA at every stop would tend to argue that there is something more than just luck going on here.  2.  He doesn't pitch well out of the stretch.  This would tend to make his Hits Allowed come in bunches which would inflate his ERA.  3.  He still does not have great command and therefore has to catch too much of the plate to maintain the good walk rate, which leads to him getting hit harder than a guy with average command.

My guess it's probably a combination of all 3 factors.  I do think that his good peripheral numbers plus the scouting report gives him a lot of room for improvement in his results.  I could see him being re-assigned to AA in 2013 or promoted to AAA.  He's a sleeper to keep an eye on.

This is the start of a run on relievers.  I ranked him one notch ahead of Melonhead Jr. based on scouting reports and ahead of several guys who probably have higher ceilings but are still working at a lower level of competition.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Catcher Rankings

The catching position is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in baseball. It wasn't more than 3 years ago that if you did not get one of the top 2 or 3 catchers in the game, you could count on getting little if any production from the position.  I remember drafting Brian McCann in round 2 of my first fantasy draft and then making him one of my keepers for several years.  I did not regret those moves one bit.  While I would definitely do that again under the same circumstances, times have changed.  In fact, catchers likely to be available at the end of the draft in 12 team leagues are likely to give very satisfactory production.  Snagging one of the elites is no longer a top priority.  Here is a list of my 2013 catcher rankings along with fantasy relevant stats and a few comments:

1.  Buster Posey, Giants:  78 R, 24 HR, 103 RBI's, .336 BA, 1 SB, 530 AB.  The question is not whether Buster is the top fantasy catcher.  He is!  It whether you should pay the price or draft him as early as you will need to to get him.

2.  Joe Mauer, Twins:      81 R, 10 HR, 85 RBI, .319 BA, 8 SB, 545 AB.  Mauer will likely never top 15 HR again, given his style of hitting and the home park he plays in, but he gives you solid numbers in 3 categories and an occasional SB.  Fairly big dropoff from Buster, though.

3.  Yadier Molina, Cardinals:  65 R, 22 HR, 76 RBI, .315 BA, 12 SB, 505 AB.  Molina has been steadily improving his offensive numbers, but you have to have a feeling 2012 might have been his peak year.

4.  Wilin Rosario, Rockies:  67 R, 28 HR, 71 RBI, .270 BA, 4 SB, 396 AB.  I picked up Rosario around mid-season and he helped carry my Savvy Vets fantasy team to my league's championship.  I won't be able to do that again this year. He will carry a cost, but he just might be worth it.  The only thing keeping him from being ranked #2 is a longer track record of this kind of production.  Poor defense could limit his AB's, but the Rockies will probably want to try to improve his D while he helps out on the offensive side.

5.  Carlos Santana, Indians:  72 R, 18 HR, 76 RBI, .252 BA, 3 SB, 507 AB.  Santana's 2012 was a bit disappointing, particularly his relatively low BA.  I am fairly optimistic for a positive regression in 2013 and it's not like what he gave in 2012 was all that terrible.

6.  Salvador Perez, Royals:  38 R, 11 HR, 39 RBI, .301 BA, 0 SB, 289 AB.  Perez missed the first half of the season with an injury, but put up solid numbers after coming back in late June. He's as good a bet for 500 AB as any catcher for 2013.  Early ADP's are low but his stock will rise dramatically as the season approaches and people get a chance to read fantasy mags.

7.  Ryan Doumit, Twins:  56 R, 18 HR, 75 RBI, .275 BA, 0 SB, 484 AB.  Doumit was my big sleeper pick last year and he came through big time.  He's still flying under a lot of radars, but should be grabbed earlier than he was last year.

8.  Miguel Montero, D'Backs:  65 R, 15 HR, 73 RBI, .286 BA, 0 SB, 486 AB.  Montero is a steady performer who will give you numbers that are very close from year to year.

9.  Matt Wieters, Orioles:  67 R, 23 HR, 83 RBI, .249 BA, 3 SB, 526 AB.  My days of predicting a breakout season for Wieters are over, so watch him do it this year.  His numbers are not terrible even with no breakout, but the low BA drives me crazy.  If you are in a 10 team league and Wieters is ranked #9, you can afford to wait until near the end of the draft to take a catcher.

10.  AJ Pierzynski, Rangers:  68 R, 27 HR, 78 RBI, .278 BA, 0 SB, 479 AB.  AJP changes teams and goes from one hitter friendly ballpark to another.  He's also in a better lineup now.  He ain't gonna hit 27 HR's again, though.  I did read that he worked with a batting coach to put more uppercut in his swing and cut down on the ground ball outs, so the HR's may not completely regress.

11.  Mike Napoli, Red Sox?:  53 R, 24 HR, 56 RBI, .227 BA, 1 SB, 352 AB.  A lot of people paid a lot for Napoli last year.  He will be much cheaper this year.  Can he bounce back?

12.  Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers:  46 R, 12 HR, 58 RBI, .320 BA, 4 SB, 316 AB.  One thing I really like about Lucroy is he will bolster your BA.  He tends to come up a bit short on counting stats, but he missed a month in 2012 and should put up better numbers if he stays healthy all year, which he is as good a bet as any catcher to do.

13.  Rob Brantly, Marlins:  14 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .297 BA, 1 SB, 100 AB.  Brantly should be the starting catcher in Miami after their firesale, so you can multiply his couting stats by 5 here.  He won't have much of a lineup around him.  Not a terrible fallback position, though.

14.  Jesus Montero, Mariners:  46 R, 15 HR, 62 RBI, .260 BA, 0 SB, 515 AB.  I would expect Montero to improve his BA in 2013 which will also help his counting stats.  Safeco field is brutal to RH hitters.

15.  Russell Martin, Pirates:  50 R, 21 HR, 53 RBI, .211 BA, 6 SB, 422 AB.  Martin gives you HR's and moves to a stadium that should be more friendly to RH power, but he will kill your BA.

16. Yasmani Grandal, Padres:  28 R, 8 HR, 36 RBI, .297 BA, 0 SB, 192 AB.  Grandal would be much higher on this list were it not for a 50 game suspension that he must serve at the beginning of the season.  If you are in a H2H league, you might want to draft him anyway.  Remember, it's the team you have in the playoffs that counts, not the team you start with.

17.  Brian McCann, Braves:  44 R, 20 HR, 67 RBI, .230 BA, 3 SB, 439 AB.  McCann is coming off an terrible, injury marred season without any assurance that his injuries are behind him.  Someone will probably draft him in your league and they will be making a big mistake.  He's been a great player, but personally I think he's about done.

Rookie Watch:  Travis D'Arnaud, Mets.  The Mets did not give up RA Dickey to get prospects who won't play right away.  D'Arnaud tore up the PCL last year at AAA level and should be the Mets starting catcher in 2013.  Just remember Las Vegas grossly inflates offensive numbers and he has history of injuries.

Much as I love Buster Posey, he's still an injury risk and you will have to pay a high price to get him in a fantasy draft.  Personally I would advise not spending more than $15 for your catcher in a standard auction draft and not taking a catcher higher than the 10'th round in a standard snake draft unless you are in a league with more than 12 teams or in a NL or AL only league.

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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #22: Cody Hall

Cody Hall, RHP.  DOB: 1/6/1988.  6'4", 220 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Low A:  3-0, 1.60, 39.1 IP, 12 BB, 54 K, 20 Saves.

High A:  1-1, 3.24, 8.1 IP, 4 BB, 10 K's, 1 Save.

The Giants drafted several hard throwing relief arms in the 2011 draft.  Athough he was far from the highest selected(19'th round out of Southern U), Hall has been the fastest mover arriving in high A San Jose late in 2012 after dominating the SAL as Augusta's closer.

I can't say I know all that much about Hall except that he's obviously a big, strong kid.  I've read he can hit the mid-90's with the fastball, and Fred Stanley described him as a "flamethrower" in his interview.  I found a hometown newspaper article from when he was drafted that said he also throws a slider, curve and changeup.  That article said the Giants drafted him as a reliever, but suggested he has the stuff and staminal to be a starter.  At this point, it appears the Giants have him on the closer track.

I was not able to find any video of him pitching, but some still photos suggest a low 3/4, almost sidearm, delivery.

I think it is likely that he will open the 2013 season as the closer for the San Jose Giants in high A ball.  He has a high probability of having a significant career as a MLB reliever.  His ceiling is MLB closer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 7, 2013

Scouting the Draft: DJ Peterson

Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball posted his first 2013 mock draft and has New Mexico 3B/1B DJ Peterson going to the Giants at #26.  Mack's Mets has a new draft ranking and also has Peterson at #26.  So, let's take a look at DJ Peterson!

Peterson bats and throws RH.  He is average in size at 6'1", 190 lbs.  Here are his numbers from his freshman and sophomore campaigns:

2011:  .317/.377/.545, 32 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 15 BB, 52 K's in 246 AB.  The 32 doubles set an NCAA freshman record.
2012:  .419/.490/.734, 21 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 33 BB, 29 K's in 248 AB.  Note his HR's increased by the exact number his doubles decreased.  Note also the reversed K/BB.

Matt Grabusky at Big League Futures has a scouting report that includes smooth swing, legitimate power, good approach at the plate, plays hard, probably a 1B or corner OF at the next level.

Concerns would include not playing in a top conference, playing in a fairly extreme hitter-friendly environment, and of course, metal bats.  As far as I can remember, the last corner player the Giants drafted in the first round was Will Clark, so taking someone like Peterson would be a major change in philosophy.

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #20: Tyler Hollick

Tyler Hollick, OF.  DOB:  9/16/1992.  6'1", 185 lbs.  B-L, T-R.

Junior College:  .475/605/.636, 7 2B, 8 3B, 1 HR, 52 BB, 61 SB, 214 PA.

Rookie AZL:  .301/.441/.372, 0 HR, 21 SB, 2 CS, 19.6 BB%, 18.9 K%, 143 PA.

If you are looking for someone drafted in the teen rounds in the 2012 draft to dream on, look no further than Tyler Hollick who just might be an offensive version of Clayton Blackburn.  Hollick hails from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  He showed up at Chandler-Gilbert CC as a pitcher and 2B.  The coaches there quickly moved him to center field where he put up the crazy numbers you see listed above.

BA's pre-draft scouting report:  "He is an above-average runner, but his calling card is his lefthanded bat.  He has a short, compact swing and always puts together quality at-bats.  He's a gap-to-gap leadoff type....."

Of course, he will have to prove he can still draw walks and steal bases at higher levels, but yeah, those are some crazy good numbers to dream on.  Given that he's a JC draftee, I'm thinking we'll see him in Augusta in 2013.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #19: Shilo McCall

Shilo McCall, OF.  DOB:  6/2/1994.  6'1", 210 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Rookie AZL:  .246/.366/.377, 3 HR, 6 SB.

Shilo McCall was drafted in the 9'th round of the 2012 draft out of Farmington, NM.  The Giants actually called in the 7'th round, but wanted a commitment and bonus agreement before they submitted his name at the draft.  They negotiated for 3 rounds before he finally agreed to a $200 K bonus in round 9.  In a post-draft interview, he said he was looking for $250 K to break his commitment to college at Arkansas, but really wanted to start his pro career so decided to take the Giants final take-it-or-leave-it offer.

As for a scouting report, McCall looks like a bigger body stuffed into a smaller one. I've seen his measurements listed as 6'1"-6'2" with weights of 205-215. He is significantly bigger with more power potential than the more highly touted Alex Bregman also from New Mexico. He looks well balanced and athletic.  Hate to say it, but his body and even facial features remind me a lot of Mike Trout.  I also found a picture of him in his batting stance wearing his AZL Giants uniform on Google Images.  His batting stance and bat position remind me of Steve Garvey and Albert Pujols.  Here's his pre-draft scouting report from BA:

"He has a muscular, 6'2", 205 lb frame , runs well for his size and has strength in his swing, though has a tendency to pull off balls.  He shows an average arm.  Some scouts think there's too much stiffness to his game and don't think he's speedy enough for center field or powerful enough for a corner spot."

In 2 scouting videos I found, he has a quiet, squared up stance.  He holds his bat in the ready position and uses no windup or load.  The swing itself is level to slightly uppercut with a noticeable pull.

He got off to a great start in his pro debut but his numbers tailed off in August.  The normal progression would be low A Augusta for 2013, but I could see him staying in extended spring training followed by a stop in Salem-Keizer.  Of course, not everybody who looks like Mike Trout, Steve Garvey or Albert Pujols turns into a player like that but I like what I see and am cautiously optimistic that the Giants may have found themselves a nice hidden gem in the draft here.

BTW, my wife and I lived and worked at a small hospital and clinic in Monument Valley, UT for 2 years after residency.  The nearest shopping mall was in Farmington, NM and we'd make the 3 hour drive over there about once a month, more just to get a sniff of civilization than anything.  Farmington is right on the edge of the Navajo Nation out in the middle of the badlands.  It's a dusty place with not a whole lot near it except those badlands.  Athletes from those parts tend to gravitate more to rodeo than baseball or football.  Shilo McCall is a great rodeo name.  Not sure about baseball.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #18: Charles Jones

Charles "Chuckie" Jones, OF.  DOB:  7/28/1992.  6'3", 235 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Low A:  .093/.161/.163, 1 HR in 93 PA.
Short Season:  .237/.348/.364, 6 HR, 4 SB, 13.1 BB%, 24.1 K%.

Chuckie Jones was a great story from the 2010 draft.  Taken by the Giants in the 7'th round out of a small HS in a small town in Missouri.  Had some tough breaks as a kid growing up. He idolized Albert Pujols.  Heck, he even LOOKED a little bit like Albert Pujols.  He played both baseball and football but decided to go all in for baseball and sign if he got a decent bonus offer.  Giants grabbed him 1 pick ahead of his homestate Cardinals who reportedly were also in on him.  Just the story alone created a bit of irrational exuberance among Giants prospect watchers, including me.

If expectations were already a bit on the high side, they went off the charts after a successful pro debut that same summer in the AZL:  .279/.360/.461, 7 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 6 SB.  Jones had a series of oblique injuries the following spring and didn't show up in boxscores until short season ball in Salem-Keizer where he put up modest numbers:  .218/322/.315.

Things seemed to hit rock bottom in the spring of 2012 as he fell flat on his face in low A ball.  He got sent back to Salem-Keizer when the short season leagues started and managed to pick himself up off the floor putting up respectable overall numbers and improving as the season progressed.  Here are his monthly splits from S-K:

June:  .212/.353/.308, 1 HR in 52 AB.
July:   .240/.339/.344, 2 HR in 96 AB.
August:  .264/.366/.448, 3 HR in 87 AB.

I still think Charles Jones has one of the higher ceilings in the organization.  I would point to his improvement over the course of this last season as well as his >10 BB% at every stop so far as positive signs going forward.  His K rate, which topped 30% at every previous stop came down to a manageable 24.7% in Salem-Keizer(although it admittedly went back up above 30% in August, his best month).

I would expect to see him back in Augusta to start 2013 in what could be a pivotal season for him.  He still has considerable bust potential, but man, that ceiling is still there!

Friday, January 4, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #17: Edwin Escobar

Edwin Escobar, LHP.  DOB:  4/22/1992.  6'1", 185 lbs.  B-L, T-L.

Low A:  7-8, 2.96, 130.2 IP, 32 BB, 122 K, GO/AO= 1.07.

Edwin Escobar broke out last year after 3 unimpressive seasons of professional ball. He was originally signed as an international free agent in 2008 by the Texas Rangers.  In the summer of 2009, he had an ERA of 5.00 in the AZL but with 48 K's against 16 BB in 45 IP.  He was traded to the Giants just prior to the 2010 season for LHP Ben Snyder.  The Rangers had taken Snyder in the Rule 5 draft and wanted to keep him in the organization even though he did not make the cut for the MLB club out of spring training.

The Giants assigned Escobar to Salem-Keizer in 2010 and he again had a strong K rate of 69 but with 40 BB in 63 IP for a 4.86 ERA.  2011 saw a regression as he allowed 12 ER in just 6 IP for low A Augusta and then put up a 5.09 ERA back in the AZL.  I do not know if injuries played a role in 2011.  Fred Stanley said he went through a "dead arm" period after the Giants acquired him.

2012 saw him back in Augusta and he put together a fine season with the line posted above.  He got stronger as the season progressed with a 2.44 ERA over his last 10 starts.

As for a scouting report, the best info I have seen is from Fred Stanley's interview with Joe Ritzo on Stanley has him throwing 90-95 with 2 different breaking balls and an ability to work both sides of the plate.  I think we will probably see him in San Jose in 2013 which will be very deep in young pitching.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #16: Mac Williamson

Mac Williamson, OF.  DOB:  7/15/1990.  6'4", 240 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

NCAA:           .286/.396/.589, 17 HR, 12 SB in 192 AB.

Rookie AZL:  .176/.263/.529, 2 HR in 17 AB.

Short Season:  .321/.392/.596, 7 HR in 114 AB.

Johnathan Mackensey "Mac" Williamson is the latest in a line of high ceiling low floor college sluggers drafted in rounds 2-5 by the Giants.  He was their 3'rd round selection out of Wake Forest in the 2012 draft.  He wasn't on my radar prior to the draft, probably because I pretty much write off college players with a sub-.300 BA.  The way I figure it, any player who can't maintain a BA of at least .300 with metal bats is probably going to end up somewhere down around the Mendoza Line trying to use wood.  Of course, scouting has to be worth something and the Giants have shown a willingness and ability to make adjustments post-draft to bring out a players upside.

Despite his impressive size, Williamson may just be a true 5 tool player.  Here's an excerpt from his BA pre-draft scouting report:  "He puts out plus-plus raw power from his 6'4", 240 lb frame.  It comes with some swing-and-miss and scouts have reservations about his ability to hit, but he has toned down his strikeouts a little this season and walked at a solid rate.  He plays center field for Wake Forest and runs well, but he fits best in right.  He has a strong arm that would profile well there."

So, the 5 tools of baseball are running(check), catching(check), throwing(check), hitting(maybe), hitting for power(double check!).  Williamson started to put an emphatic check on the hit tool with an impressive all around performance in Salem-Keizer where he kept his K rate well below 20% and hit for both average and power.

Given the Giants history of placement for college hitters drafted in the top 5 rounds and his performance in S-K, I would anticipate Williamson starting 2013 in San Jose.  I thought about placing him a lot higher on the list, but ultimately decided to be conservative and see if he could come close to duplicating his pro debut at the next level before ranking him in the top 10.  Again, gotta love the upside here and the depth it gives the Giants in their farm system.  RH bats with that kind of power are as rare as hen's teeth in MLB these days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #15: Adam Duvall

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

High A:  .257/.325/.485, 30 HR, 8 SB, 7.9 BB%, 19.4 K%.

When a player hits 30 HR's in the minor leagues, people take notice, and with good reason.  Power, particularly from RH batters, is becoming a scarce commodity in MLB.  Duvall tore up the low A SAL in 2011 enough to arouse curiosity but he was a bit old for the league and it was reasonable to wonder if it would translate to higher levels.  He moved up a rung on the ladder and even though he was a year older himself, he was closer to age appropriate for the league in 2012.

The Cal League his a hitter's league though, and his BA was definitely low enough to again arouse suspicion.  In addition, he once again committed errors by the bushels from the 3B position leading to questions of whether he will have to move to 1B or even DH.  I'm not a fan of looking at BABIP in minor league players, but we now have 3 years of data no Duvall.  Over the last 3 years his BABIP's have been .299, .320, .272.  I'm just going to take a wild guess and say that his true talent BABIP is probably somewhere between .290 and .300.  That would have raised his slash line numbers across the board to truly impressive levels even if the extra hits were all singles!

As for his defensive challenges, the vast majority of his errors occurred as the result of throws sailing high from 3B.  The Giants are working on mechanical adjustments that they hope will fix the problem and he did seem to do better as the season progressed.   AA should be the next stop.  As with all Giants hitters, it will be THE big challenge.  Once again, his job will be to keep his head above water and live to fight another day in Fresno. Gotta be excited about the bat, though.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #14: Ehire Adrianza

Ehire Adrianza, SS.  DOB:  8/21/1989.  6'1", 155 lbs.  B-S, T-R.

AA:   .220/.289/.310, 3 HR, 16 SB, 8.0 BB%, 17.6 K%.

At some point prior to the 2012 season, the Giants made a decision to give the starting SS position to a young player who had hit just .204 with an OPS of under .600 in SF and had hit just .224 at AAA Fresno.  They did this after watching two older shortstops who they thought could still hit blow game after game because they could no longer get to balls hit on either side of them.  They told Crawford to not worry about how much he hit, just stabilize the infield on defense.  Over the course of the season, Crawford gradually hit better and even his defense improved over time.  By the stretch run and postseason, his contributions on defense and timely hitting from the 8 hole in the lineup were a key factor in the Giants championship run.

Since the 2012 season ended, several glove-first shortstops such as Adeiny Hechiaverra and Didi Gregorius have been involved in high profile trades while another, Andrelton Simmons, has been a hot topic of MLB Trade Rumors.  Success in MLB, or any professional sport, tends to quickly draw copycats.

So, what does this all have to do with Ehire Adrianza?  Well, Adrianza is a weak hitting shortstop who a lot of people have written off, who also happens to be a terrific fielder at this premium position.  As soon as I say that, the next question is, how does he compare to Brandon Crawford?  My answer is he has better range than Crawford and makes it look easy, but Crawford probably has the stronger throwing arm.

I think it's still too early to give up on Adrianza.  It's true, his hitting has been unimpressive, but it's also not hopeless.  He has maintained decent to good walk rates despite his total lack of power and he can steal a base or two.  He'll even hit one into a gap or even out of the park on occasion too.  One problem is his thin body type, which appeared to be projectable when he was younger, has never filled out.  Maybe that has helped him stay agile in the field, but it certainly hasn't helped his bat develop.

My thinking is, he's bounced between San Jose and Richmond for a couple of years and a .220 BA in Richmond is not nothing.  Put him in Fresno as the everyday shortstop in 2013 and see what happens.  Who knows?  Crawford could get hurt or Adrianza could hit well enough at Fresno to generate some trade value.  He's been around awhile so options could come into play as we discussed earlier in Peguero's profile.

Oh, and Happy New Year, everybody!  Pray for Peace!