Monday, September 29, 2014

Down on the Farm: Short Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2014 Season Review

The 2014 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes started off their short season with a team about as bereft of talent as any I can remember in the the Giants organization for years, and that is saying something.  Historically, S-K has been rostered with mostly same year college draftees  Later drafting dates, signing rules and a subtle shift in emphasis by the Giants to taking more HS players in later draft rounds have caused a shift in roster makeup to more AZL graduates and holdovers from past partial seasons.  This year was an extreme example as the opening day roster did not include a single 2014 draftee, if I am remembering correctly.

The lack of talent took its toll on the team's performance in the early going.  Things picked up a bit as some of the 2014 draftees started trickling in and a few rehabbers showed up.  Here are some of the key players:

2014 Draftees:

Austin Slater(OF)- .347/.417/.449, 2 HR, 7 SB, 118 AB, 10 BB, 17 K's.  Early returns have Slater as the steal of the 2014 draft in the 8'th round out of Stanford.  He signed a bit late, so it's a SSS, but those numbers project to 10 dingers and 35 SB's over a full 600 AB season with a healthy walk rate and a low K rate.  Again, the low K rates and strong K/BB seems to be something the Giants are targeting in recent drafts with Joe Panik and Matt Duffy already paying dividends.  The HR's may go up if Slater can shake the Stanforditis in his bat.

Skyler(Not Skip) Ewing(1B)- .291/.417/.473, 8 HR, 182 AB, 36 BB, 28 K's.  We again see the reversed K/BB we saw with Joe Panik but in Ewing's case, there is toonder in the bat.  That is 26 dingers in a  full 600 AB season!  Not sure how many of the BB's were intentional.  Extremely interesting bat to follow next year.

Seth Harrison(CF)- .266/.298/.354, 11 SB, 158 AB, 8 BB's, 42 K's.  Obviously, the Giants do not refuse to draft any hackers.  Those K and BB numbers are no bueno for a player who projects more as a leadoff/speed guy.  The SB's are interesting if he can improve on those ratios.

Dylan Davis(OF)- .200/.269/.341, 4 HR, 85 AB, 7 BB's, 23 K's.  Not much to like in a very SSS except for the dingers.  Has lots to work on in almost every other aspect.  He did show off a cannon for an arm in RF and his future may very well be on the mound.

Hunter Cole(OF)- .239/.311/.424, 4 HR, 92 AB.  Not much of a BA, but love the power.

Aramis Garcia(Catcher)- .229/.289/.357, 2 HR, 70 AB.   Somewhat disappointing numbers from the second round pick in a SSS.

Tyler Beede(RHP)- 0-0, 2.70, 6.2 IP, 3 BB, 7 K's.  Extreme SSS for the first rounder who signed late.  The Giants took it very slow with him, probably because he pitched to the end of the college WS.  We'll probably see him in San Jose to start next season which will be the first big test of his pro career.

Kids With Growing Pains:

Christian Arroyo(SS)- .333/.378/.469, 5 HR, 6 SB, 243 AB, 18 BB, 31 K's.  Arroyo stumbled out of the gate in Augusta in the spring then broke a bone in a finger on a HBP.  There was also the strange position shift to 2B in favor of Ryder Jones at SS.  Arroyo resurfaced at SS in S-K at the start of short season ball and looked a lot more like the guy the Giants drafted in the first round in 2013.  The BB's could be a bit higher, but he keeps the K's down and why try to take a walk when you can rake like that, anyway?  Personally, I would ignore the stumble in Augusta when evaluation Arroyo's season and call it a resounding success!

Ryder Jones(3B)- .243/.293/.393, 3 HR, 107 AB, 7 BB, 21 K's.  Jones was part of the odd position shifting that went on in Augusta.  He started strong there, but wore down under the grind of daily pro ball.  The move to SS might have contributed to the fatigue.  He resurfaced in S-K back at 3B where he got off to a slow start, but put on a surge at the end of the season.  Big time power potential here.  Count this season as a learning experience.

Johneshwy Fargas(OF)- .240/.373/.329, 3 HR, 15 SB, 167 AB, 24 BB, 27 K's.  I don't think he was hurt at all.  Just a toolsy guy who the Giants are bringing along slowly.  Again we see the great K/BB to go with intriguing speed.  I think his frame can support more power down the road.  Started strong and finished strong.  Slumped in the middle of the season.  Lost some PT to Seth Harrison, which I did not like, but maybe the rest helped him make that late season surge.  Bright future here with some patience.

Keury Mella(RHP)- 1-1, 1.83, 19.2 IP, 6 BB, 20 K's.  Not sure what Mella's injury with Augusta was, but came to S-K for a rehab assignment.  Pitched very well.  Can't wait to see what he does and where next year.  Maybe back in Augusta?


Travious Relaford(IF/UT)- .283/.380/.372, 3 HR, 9 SB, 258 AB, 37 BB, 39 K's.  Relaford was drafted as a very raw toolsy SS in round 44 in 2011.  He has played all over the Giants farm system as high as AA in 2013.  His bat really seemed to break out this year with sustained regular AB's in S-K.  A very interesting guy to watch going forward.

Shilo McCall(OF)- .200/.287/.333, 3 HR, 165 AB, 19 BB, 53 K's.  I was hoping we'd see Shilo in full season ball.  Instead he repeated S-K and did a face plant.  K rate is downright scary!  Not sure what the future holds at this point.  He'll probably get at least one more chance next year, but he needs to have a good season.

Jason Forjet(RHP)- 7-1, 3.10, 87 IP, 16 BB, 87 K's.  Took a step back from San Jose in 2013, but put up very nice looking numbers for S-K in 2014.

Jose Reyes(RHP)- 6-4, 3.89, 83.1 IP, 16 BB, 64 K's.  Seems like just a pitcher in the organization at this point.

Ethan Miller(RHP)- 5-3, 4.60, 78.1 IP, 15 BB, 57 K's.  Starting July 17, had 5 consecutive starts with at least 6 IP and 2 ER or less.  Love his size at 6'5".

Nick Gonzalez(LHP)- 2-5, 4.06, 71 IP, 28 BB, 47 K's.  Not too exciting numbers there for the big lefty.

Andrew Leenhouts(LHP)- 3-4, 4.73, 72.1 IP, 11 BB, 71 K's.  Peripherals look better than the primary numbers.  I thought we might see him higher in the organization this year.

On Track:

Eury Sanchez(RHP)- 3-3, 3.48, 33.2 IP, 15 BB,   50 K's, 14 Saves.  Smallish pitcher with big time peripheral numbers.  On the closer track early which is usually the kiss of death for a pitching prospect.


  1. Didn't Mella have a rotator cuff issue? If so that doesn't sound particularly good. We'll see how that comes around.

    What about the 2nd rounder catcher our of Florida they drafted?

    1. I was not aware it was a rotator cuff issue for Mella. He finished the season strong for S-K.

      I'll add Hunter Cole and Aramis Garcia, both SSS's.

  2. Here's a list of Gigantes with K/BB ratio up to 2.0: (not including DSL and at least 200 PAs): Skyler Ewing 0.93, Skyler Strosmoe 0.97, Travious Relaford 1.05, Ben Turner 1.09, Johneshwy Fargas 1.13, Joe Panik 1.32, Ryan Jones 1.32, Buster Posey 1.48, Ryan Lollis 1.50, Mark Minnicozzi 1.58, Andrew Susac 1.68, Mario Lisson 1.72, Matt Duffy 1.74, Gregor Blanco, Jeremy Sy, Kelby Tomlinson 1.86, Shawn Payne 1.89.

    Slater missed my semi-arbitrary cut off. As did top prospects Mikey Edie, Mac Williamson and Kelvin Beltre. The DSL is a wild place, but its interesting that a ton of hitters this year are sporting huge walk ratios. There are a lot of experienced hitters to go with the bonus babies there.

    Also of note Pagan, Crawford and yes, Sandoval just missed the semi-arbitrary ratio of 2:1. The fact that Panik/Susac/Duffy are there with Posey is a good thing, in this small slice of statistics.

    Want to know the worst ratios in the org? these guys are all over 4:1 K/BB: Quiroz, Dominguez, Hector Sanchez, Noonan, Colvin, Ryder Jones, Harrison, Villalona, Belt (4.07) and Morse (4.00). I think its fair to say Belt's is an abnormal year not the norm.

    Here's a cross of guys with K% of less than 15%: Turner, Panik, Lollis, Abreu, RafRod, Posey, Arias, Pagan, Zambrano, Relaford, Moreno, Fargas, Robles, Delfino, Arroyo, Sandoval, Ewing, Bednar.

    I'm sure its something they think about, trying to find an advantage. Controlling the zone is important.

  3. I think there is a big difference between controlling the zone and swinging at fastballs early. Hitters that look to take advantage of early fastballs and have good contact skills will usually K less than hitters that are selective and not concerned with 2 strike counts.

  4. Two way of controlling the zone. The common denominator is keeping your Z-swing % relatively high and your O-swing % relatively low. The other is swinging at the pitches you want to swing at i.e. FB's and not swinging at slop.

    The guys who swing early like Joe Panik are looking for FB's that the pitchers are using to try to jump ahead in the count. The guys who like to work deep into the count are trying to get into hitter's counts which forces the pitcher to throw the FB because that is the pitch they can get over.

    Pitcher's try to beat the Joe Panik's of the world by pitching backwards or throwing breaking balls early in the count. They try to beat the count workers by throwing FB's early for strikes.