Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #11 Joe Panik

Joe Panik, 2B.  B-L, T-R.  6'1", 190 lbs.  DOB:  10/30/1990.

2012 High A:  .297/.368/.402, 27 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 535 AB, 58 BB, 54 K, 10 SB.

2013 AA:        .257/.333/.347, 27 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 522 AB, 58 BB, 68 K, 10 SB.

2013 was a rough year for the former first round draft pick from 2011.  If you recall, he signed early in his draft year and then tore up the Northwest League hitting .341.  He followed that up with a strong 2012 campaign in San Jose and in particular had a very strong finish there, barely falling short of a .300 BA in a last month batting surge.

2013 started out with a move to 2B which immediately diminished his value in the eyes of many analysts, although the move was not unexpected despite the earlier denials of the Giants player development people.  He then missed most of spring training with a pulled hammy then headed off to Richmond to face the challenges of the Eastern League.   According to Baggs report from BA, the hammy continued to be an issue into the regular season and he went through a brutal slump in May and June.

Batting lines are expected to take a hit moving from the Cal League to the Eastern League, but Panik's offensive performance is widely viewed as more of a dropoff than was expected, especially in the power numbers.  If you take a closer look, though, the dropoff in SLG and OPS was almost entirely due to a drop in singles and not in XBH's.  Take a closer look!  In almost the same number of AB's, he hit 3 fewer HR's but exactly the same number of doubles and triples and had exactly the same number of walks!  His IsoP only dropped from .105 to .090.  The only significant differences in his numbers were 22 fewer singles and 13 more K's.  When you add in the difference in league average OPS between the Cal League and the EL of .761 vs .717 and Panik really did not have nearly as terrible a season as it may appear and he actually had a higher percentage of his hits go for extra bases.

Assuming he stays healthy and moves up to AAA Fresno, I think we'll see a much better season out of him in 2013.  If he can avoid the month-long slumps, which may have been injury related, he should put up similar numbers to his 2012 campaign or better.

Looking at MLB second basemen, Panik comps most closely to Marco Scutaro.  Look, Panik is never going to hit a lot of HR's, especially in San Francisco and the NL West, and I don't think it is in his or the Giants interest for him to try to hit for more power that is going to be severely limited by the park anyway.  He has said he tries to hit line drives and put the ball in play.  If he can hit .280-.290 with an OBP of .340-.360, he will be a valuable middle infielder regardless of his power and he should be able to hit the gaps regularly. He should be ready to make is MLB debut about the time Scooter is done.


  1. Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?

    Good write up. PCL should be just what the doctor ordered. Maybe a strength and conditioning program over the offseason was what the Giants doctors ordered.

    What did scouts have to say about his glove work around the keystone?

  2. Thanks, DrB for breaking down his SLG and OPS.

    It just shows how much one misses just throwing around one single stat or number, even if its WAR or something more complicated.

    As for his lack of HRs, maybe he will never develop or maybe he will, but if we could win with Scutaro I, we can win again with Scutaro II, it being a team sport and if the other pieces fit and work out.

  3. I noticed the exact same thing (regarding the XBH), before I even started reading the summary... I certainly hadn't realized it beforehand though. Nice work DrB. I'm not all that disappointed with Panik's season. If he keeps the walks up and the K's down, while hitting the gaps as you said, I think he'll be a fine major leaguer. He just seems to me like the kind of guy who will find his way in the bigs. I believe that's why the Giants liked him as a first round pick in the first place... he just knows how to hit.

  4. For me I always look at the draft profile and then comp it back to what's gone on in the minors, putting more weight on the profile early in the career. Here's his profile: "The phrase scouts use most often when describing Panik says a lot about the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder from Yonkers, N.Y.: "He's just a good baseball player who can hit." His bat is his only plus tool, but he plays the game the right way and makes the most of his ability."

    Has this been disproved? I'd say no, it hasn't. He should be a fine 2B where he was an average at best SS. I would like to see a higher BA, but he did have a low 285 babip last year (always skeptical about milb babip though). Part of this can definitely be explained by the lingering hammy injury though as well.

    The only worry though is the lack of power to keep pitchers honest gets exposed at the highest level because pitchers will just challenge him. So if there isn't any power, the BA has to stay high to be useful. That'd be the big worry, but the BB/K is still working well.

    1. I would dispute that there is no power. It not like Emmanuel Burriss no power or Jesus Galindo no power or Kensuke Tanaka no power. He has enough power to keep pitchers honest.

    2. Or Ehire Adrianza no power? We need Panik to get above the Nick Punto/Skippy Schu/Willie Bloomquist level of no power as well if he is going to be a regular. Then again... Mark Ellis.