Monday, January 13, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #20 Ricky Oropesa

Ricky Oropesa, 1B.  B-L, T-R.  6'3", 225 lbs.  DOB:  12/15/1989.

AA:        .207/.255/.307, 6 HR in 241 AB.
High A:  .295/.368/.477, 8 HR in 220 AB.

I have never held myself out to be an unbiased observer, but in the interest of full disclosure, I work with Ricky's mom and have followed his career since he was a junior in high school.  I am an unabashed Ricky fan!

Ricky's second professional season was a bumpy ride as he went from the high of getting an invitation to the major league spring training camp and being one of the last guys sent down, to struggling in Richmond, to recovering his mojo back in San Jose capped by homers in 4 consecutive playoff games.

The reasons why so many Giants hitting prospects run into trouble in the Eastern League remains a bit of a mystery.   Everybody agrees that the jump from High A to AA is second only to the jump from AAA to the majors in terms of gap in competition level, but the struggles many of the Giants hitters go through in AA seem extreme even when that gap is taken into consideration.  There is also not perfect correlation between success in AA and future MLB success as John Bowker hit very well in the EL while Nate Schierholtz struggled.  Buster Posey skipped the level altogether and Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt stayed only briefly.

At least 2 factors may have come into play for Ricky in addition to the jump in competition:  1.  This was his first time playing his home games outside of California.  2.  He did not get very many in-game AB's during his extended spring training stay in MLB camp making the first half in Richmond his de-facto spring training.

Unfortunately, many observers have written Ricky off after his 2013 setback.  I just have a feeling the Giants have not written him off and he is still highly regarded within the organization.  A big question is whether they send him back for a do-over in Richmond, or do they send him to a more familiar environment in Fresno?  If it comes down to Ricky vs Angel V for Fresno, it would seem that there is a bit more urgency for them to find out what they have in Angel V and get him closer to the major leagues, although they could split 1B/DH duties in Fresno.

Ricky remains one of the few power hitting prospects in the organization.  I think he could work on being a bit more aggressive early in the count to get better pitches to hit.  He also needs to see and hit breaking balls better.

11 comments:

  1. Sorry for the OT

    Pretty nice video, write up and discussion of Derek Law on the main webpage. First time I've seen him pitch after hearing Dr. B talk about his wind-up for a good while. Very nice aggressive pace when facing batters, "jerky" does well to describe that motion and how difficult it's going to be for batters to pick up the ball out of his hand.
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/sf/bernie-pleskoff-derek-law-has-ability-to-thrive-as-member-of-giants-bullpen?ymd=20140113&content_id=66516130&vkey=news_sf

    Back to Ricky....well, hope he comes out with a much more confident approach this year! He's got a really great blend of tools and clearly the baseball intelligence to succeed at higher levels. However, making the BAT play will be the entire pivot.

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  2. I've met Ricky in person at a Cal league game at San Bernardino and I am attest that he is a nice kid. I hope DrB is right about the two factors in play with respect to his Richmond numbers. And even if you present me with stats about the first try being more relevant than success with another try, I believe everyone is unique and still will be rooting for him to make it to the big leagues and do well. There is still a place for teams to develop their own talent, instead of buying up everything (and with determination to 'go all out') on the free agent market.

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  3. Nice write up. I would have written Ricky off. Not so fast, eh?

    I'm curious to see how they manage 1B at Fresno. This is the break glass in case of Belt injury emergency position. I figure with Duvall getting as many reps at third as possible, Chris Dominguez will be in line to get reps at 1B/DH.

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    1. Chris Dominguez has played some LF too.

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  4. My studies of the EL before the switch from Norwich to Richmond showed that while Dodd Stadium was absolutely horrible for anybody to hit in, the league overall is more of a pitcher's league, though after looking at all the other leagues, most are actually more of a pitcher's league than the EL, it is just that because we are in two of the clear hitter's leagues, CAL and PCL, the EL looks horrible in comparison.

    In any case, the EL is a low offensive league and thus our hitters, after being in the hitter's haven that is the California League, looks really bad in comparison.

    I would not characterize Schierholtz's season as a "struggle", he did OK there plus was only 22 YO, mid-to-high 700 OPS. Usually only the top prospects make the EL at age 22 and excel. Bowker, on the other hand, did slightly better there, mid-800's, but at age 23. And he wasn't like Sandoval and Belt, who both raked there, though over a short portion of the season.

    On top of that, because of the organizational focus on using their top picks on pitching, there has not really been that many top position prospects who make it up to AA because of that relative lack of talent infusion. That makes our position prospects inability to keep up their good A-ball hitting in AA look like an insurmountable obstacle, when I think that it is more just a factor of both the jump to AA as well as the lack of actual hitting talent in our system.

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    1. Look up Nate Schierholtz' first half in AA. It was horrible!

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    2. And once again, you split hairs on age vs level. There is no significant difference between age 22 and age 23!

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    3. One more thing, OGC. You refer to "my studies" like you are the only guy on Earth who ever though of Norwich being worse than the rest of the EL. Man, that is annoying! Yes, there are other pitcher's leagues out there. The SAL is at least as tough as the EL, maybe a little more! The Southern League is very tough too.

      If you go back and read my post above, you will see that I spent most of it discussing the idea that there seems to be more to the Giants prospects struggles in the EL than just league factors as league factors do not appear to fully explain the phenomenon nor the inconsistency of it as some hitting prospects actually to pretty well there.

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  5. I'm sure he's a good kid. I totally get that people have their fan favorites. But I don't see any reason for optimism about him as a prospect. He's a bat-only player who is 24, wasn't that good in high-A, and completely flopped in AA. You can come up with a plausible story why he's going to improve, but you can do that for almost any minor leaguer. Just because we don't 100% know that he isn't good doesn't mean he's a "prospect."

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    1. I still believe in the bat and I believe Ricky is still highly regarded within the Giants organization.

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    2. It's also not like I made him a top 10 prospect in the organization or anything. #20 is a very modest placement when you consider the probabilities of #20 organizational prospects becoming future impact players.

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