Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Carlos Rodon

Carlos Rodon, LHP.  DOB:  12/10/1992.  6'3", 235 lbs.

2014 High A:  0-0, 1.86, 9.2 IP, 4.66 BB/9, 13.97 K/9.
2014 AAA:     0-0, 3.00, 12 IP,6.00 BB/9, 13.50 K/9.

Carlos Rodon is the guy the Astros should have taken #1 overall last year and who the Marlins should have taken #2.  Instead, the White Sox got the top combination of MLB readiness and ceiling in the draft.  Rodon's stock may have slipped a bit due to reports of velocity decline at the end of the college season.  That picked up with a few mechanical tweaks by the White Sox coaching staff.  He also worked on using his changeup more and reportedly improved it significantly giving him a complete arsenal starting with his world class slider.

Rodon may start the season in AAA, but will join the White Sox rotation as soon as he achieves "Super  2" status.  The 'Sox top 3 starters, Sale, Samardzija and Quintana are top notch, but 4 and 5 are weak with Jon Danks and Hector Noesi not presenting much of a barrier to Rodon's promotion.  Pitching is very deep this year, so Rodon may not be worth spending a draft pick on to stash on your bench, but he should be monitored closely and should be a fantasy asset this season.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Triston McKenzie

Triston Mckenzie(spelled Tristan on a Google search but both BA and Kiley McDaniel spell it this way) is a tall drink of water at 6'5", 160 lbs.  Long loose arm.  Kiley says he sits 90 MPH now, but he has oodles of projectability.  Committed to Vandy so may be tough to sign.  BA has him ranked at #42 in its early draft rankings.  Kiley at Fangraphs has him at #46.

Hot Tip: Mac Williamson Interview

There is a transcript of a cool interview with Mac Williamson posted on The Will Candlestick linked over to the left.  Be sure to check it out.  If this kid has a great season in AA, the Giants future will be much brighter, not that it isn't bright now.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson, OF.  DOB:  4/21/1992.  B-L, T-L.  6'1", 185 lbs.

2012 High A:  .313/.396/.516, 18 HR, 26 SB, 10.2 BB%, 16.2 K%, 499 PA.
2013 AA:        .278/.381/.497, 22 HR, 31 SB, 13.5 BB%, 22.0 K%, 519 PA.
2014 AAA:     .303/.435/.582, 33 HR, 30 SB, 18.1 BB%, 26.9 K%, 553 PA.
2014 MLB:     .143/.351/.143, 23.7 BB%, 28.9 K%, 38 PA.
2915 Steamer: .224/.310/.391, 20 HR, 17 SB, 10.3 BB%, 25.7 K%, 542 PA.

Joc Pederson is THE heir apparent in LA.  The Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to make room for him.  There is still Andre Ethier squawking about playing time, but Pederson is going to be the CF in LA in 2015 come hell or high water.  He's the only guy on the team who can handle CF defensively and he's an elite prospect whose time has come.  So, you should aggressively target him in your fantasy baseball draft, right?  Well, not so fast there!  Yes, that 30/30 season he put up in AAA is impressive even in the rarified air of Albuquerque, but take a look at the K% and look at the trends of his BB% and K% over the last 3 seasons.  Man, I don't know what's going on with that, but it does not look good to me!  There is a reason why Steamer is projecting a BA of .224, and even they are giving him a slightly lower K rate than he put up in AAA last year.  There are not a lot of prospects who are able to lower their K rate in their first year in the majors.  Pederson may well be the next Dodger superstar and beat on the Giants like a drum for the next 15 years, but I'm thinking there may be some lessons to learn in his first full MLB season.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Garrett Whitley

Garrett Whitely is an name that popped up in the 2014 summer showcase events, particularly the Area Code games.  He hails from a small HS in the northeast which has never had a player drafted before.  In fact, prior to the Area Code games, he had never faced a 90 MPH fastball even from a pitching machine!  He stands 6'1", 195 lbs, B-R, T-R.  He has an athletic body with 5 tools.  He immediately adjusted to the increased velocity he faced in the showcase and had the second highest recorded bat exit speed of the even at 108.7 MPH, just 0.2 MPH lower than the highest reading.  He ran a 6.65 60.  The Perfect Game capsule summary says "great athlete" and "big bat speed."  BA has him ranked as the #41 draft prospect for 2015 while Kiley McDaniel has him at #38.  He profiles as a future CF.  I would say Torii Hunter is the comp from videos I saw.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Steven Souza

Steven Souza, OF.  DOB:  4/24/1989.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 225 lbs.

2012:  Low A:  .290/.346/.576, 17 HR, 7 SB, 7.5 BB%, 16.7 K%, 293 PA.
2012  High A:   .319/.421/.560, 6 HR, 7 SB, 12.1 BB%, 23.4 K%, 107 PA.
2013  AA:         .300/.396/.557, 15 HR, 20 SB, 12.7 BB%, 23.5 K%, 322 PA.
2014  AAA:      .350/.432/.590, 18 HR, 26 SB, 12.8 BB%, 18.4 K%, 407 PA.
2014 MLB:       .130/.231/.391, 2 HR, 11.5 BB%, 26.9 K%, 26 PA in 21 Games.
2015(Steamer):  .246/.313/.420, 18 HR, 19 SB, 8.3 BB%, 23.4 K%, 500 PA.

If you like to did around in baseball oriented websites looking for information on players the average fan has never heard of, then Steven Souza is your guy.  He is one of the more intriguing MLB ready prospects in all of baseball.  He was drafted in the 3'rd round out of HS in 2007 by the Nationals(were they even in Washington then?).  The bat took a long time to come around.  Finally, in 2012, his 6'th year in pro ball and his 5'th try at Low A ball, something clicked and he's been raking ever since.  He's player without any single outstanding tool or skill, but he also does not have any major weaknesses.  He has size, power and speed a combination that will get you somewhere if you can also hit for an adequate BA.  He is particularly coveted by sabermetrically oriented types.  The Rays reportedly targeted him for acquisition by trade right from the beginning of the offseason.  He was the guy they had to have in order to part with Wil Myers in the 3 way trade with San Diego and Washington.

The nice thing about Souza from a fantasy standpoint, is the Rays seem to love him enough that he is almost guaranteed a starting spot from the start of the season and probably won't have to platoon with anyone.  Projection systems peg him for close to a 20/20 season, albeit with some sacrifice of BA in the process.  Souza's ADP is 246 in Yahoo league standard drafts which puts him in round 20 in 12 team leagues.  His average cost in auction drafts is $1.1 which makes him completely replaceable.  If you end up dismayed because Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant are being bid up to dangerous levels in your draft, or come off the board way to early, think Steven Souza.  He likely won't cost much and the upside is right there.

BTW, Souza's current main claim to fame is his diving catch in left-CF to preserve Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter last year.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Cornelius Randolph

Cornelius Randolph is a 6'1', 190 lb, B-L, T-R HS SS out of Georgia.  He does not have a SS body but has SS athleticism.  Ran a 6.94 60 and hit 92 MPH on an IF throw.  Likely won't be a SS in the majors, but like Yoan Moncada, he could move just about anywhere else.  With the arm and athleticism, 3B seems like a reasonable destination but 2B, 1B and OF are also possibilities.  He has an advanced feel at the plate with a short, quick swing with very little foot movement much like Joe Panik, but possibly with a lot more power potential than Panik. A couple of comments from the PG scouting report from the National Showcase:  "Short aggressive swing.  Ball jumps off bat."  "Quality swings agains good breaking balls from lefties."  I really like what I see of this kid.  The non-SS body will drop him in the draft into the supplemental first or 2'nd round.  Those are good spots to take a chance on high upside HS hitters and I wish the Giants would take some shots there.  BA has him ranked as the early #40 2015 draft prospect.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #44.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant, 3B.  Cubs.  DOB:  1/4/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'5", 215 lbs.

2014 AA:  .355/.458/.702, 22 HR, 8 SB, 14.5 BB%, 25.9 K%, 297 PA.
2014 AAA:  .295/.418/.619, 21 HR, 7 SB, 14.5 BB%, 28.6 K%, 297 PA.

We go back to the Cubs for another top fantasy prospect.  To say Kris Bryant destroyed minor league pitching last year is an understatement.  You can see the numbers for yourself.  The only question mark with him, much like Javier Baez last year is will he make enough contact?  Although his K rates are high, they are not quite as high as Baez'.  Whether that helps him avoid having to grab as much pine as Baez did last year remains to be seen.  Bryant is being routinely drafted in early fantasy drafts.  He's going to an average of about $7 in Yahoo auction drafts and in round 13 in standard drafts.  Bryant is all but a lock to play 3B for the Cubs at some point this year, probably sooner than later.  I mean, they traded Luis Valbuena in the offseason pretty much to clear the way for Bryant.  The only question is whether he will be the Opening Day 3B or have to spend the first 6-8 weeks of the season in the minors waiting to become a "super two."  If the Cubs are serious about making a run this year, and it looks like key may be, they should just start Bryant at 3B out of the gate.  If his draft value holds up, he is a solid risk at those levels.  I know I am planning on drafting him in my auction draft if I can keep the cost at $10 or less.

Thoughts on Madison Bumgarner

We have already talked at length about Madison Bumgarner's amazing accomplishments, especially in the postseason which have reached historical levels.  What I want to look at now is what the future may hold for this gifted pitcher.  Here's something to start with.  Madison Bumgarner is 25 years old!  A lot of players don't participate in their first MLB game until they are 25.  Peak physical years are generally considered to be ages 27-32 or so.  Madison Bumgarner has been pitching in the major leagues since 2010 and has pitched in 3 postseasons in dominating fashion, and he is 25 years old!  Is it possible that we have yet to see the best of Madison Bumgarner?  Yes, he may have a few more miles on his arm than the average 25 year old pitcher, but remember that a guy who breaks in at age 25 has been pitching innings in the minors too.

In addition to his age, I believe we have evidence that Bumgarner stuff is still improving.  This is based on my observations while watching him pitch on TV over the past several seasons, and these observations are confirmed by PitchFx data.  You see, Bumgarner made some adjustments as the season progressed last year.  By the end of the regular season, he really was not the same pitcher he was at the beginning of the season.  If you watched closely, the complete dominance he showed in the postseason came as no surprise. It was simply the culmination of transformation that evolved over the season.

So, what was different about the end of season Madison Bumgarner last year from the Madison Bumgarner we had seen over the past 4 seasons?  At least 2 things:  1.  He started elevating his 4 seam FB more and more and it became more and more effective.  By the end of the season, according to PitchFx data, Bumgarner's 4 seam FB was the most effective swing and miss FB in all of MLB!  Think about that for a minute.  Madison Bumgarner's 4 seam fastball is the most unhittable fastball in Major League Baseball!  In addition to elevating the FB, he added velocity as the season progressed.  His average FB velocity for the season was just under 92 MPH, but by the end of the season was routinely hitting 93-95 MPH.  2.  The other wrinkle Bumgarner added late last season, although much less frequently, was a slower version of the curveball.  I mean it is sloooow!  This pitch does not loop as much as the usual slow curve.  He releases it from the same low 3/4 arm slot, so it is a flatter version as opposed to Clayton Kershaw's slow curve.  The advantage to Bumgarner's version is it looks exactly the same as his standard curve and so is in effect a curve changeup.  It has more of a changeup effect on the hitter.  It is harder for the hitter to recognize early and lay off, so they end up lunging at it like a changeup.  He did not use it often, but when he did, it was devastating!  I have a feeling we will see more of that this season.  Hopefully not to often, though because a lot of its effectiveness is in the surprise value.

In summary, while his deadly cut fastball/slider is still his #1 pitch, I think we will see a full season's worth of increased usage of the Best Fastball in Baseball and a full season's sprinkling in of that slow curveball.  If the innings don't catch up with him, this could be Madison Bumgarner's breakout season, which considering what he has already accomplished, is simply amazing to think about.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Early Thoughts on Spring Training

The excitement of seeing ballplayers dressed in uniforms on a grass field wears off pretty quickly in the early days of spring training.  There is not much to report from a lineup of pitchers throwing to a lineup of catchers and there certainly is not a lot of running around.  This could lead into a diatribe about how spring training needs to be shortened, but I think I did that last year and maybe the year before.  It's more than a little risky to try to read too much into the early tea leaves of spring training.  Everybody is in the best shape of their lives.  Nobody is injured.  Everybody is looking forward to a great season.  Blah, blah, blah!  That said, there are a few tidbits from the first phase of the Giants spring training to tantalize us into thinking this might actually be a great season.

Matt Cain truly does look like he is in the best shape of his life!  Reports on his recovery from elbow surgery are encouraging.  He has near full range of motion in the elbow for the first time in years.  He is reportedly throwing without pain.  He took the opportunity to strengthen the shoulder during the rehab process.  Of course none of this means much until he toes the rubber in a game that counts, but a fully healthy and effective Matt Cain would be a huge shot in the arm for a starting rotation that looked very much frayed around the edges by the end of last season.

Tim Lincecum has steadily lost velocity and effectiveness over the past several years.  It is unclear how much of that is due to the emotional distance that grew between him and his dad, Chris Lincecum over the years, but Timmy went to his dad over the offseason and asked for help in rebuilding his mechanics.  Early reports from the bullpen sessions sound encouraging.  Timmy is not that far off.  He did pitch a no-hitter last season and had a pretty good mid-season run before things collapsed after Hector Sanchez got hurt.  He probably does not need to throw 94 MPH again to be effective.  91 with better command will get the job done.  Again, a healthy and effective Timmy would be another big shot in the arm for the frayed rotation.  Having both Cain and Timmy back with some semblance of effectiveness would be amazing!

On the not so good news side, Tim Hudson is a bit behind in his recovery from ankle surgery although the official line is still that he will be ready to start the season.  This one is less of a worry, especially if Cainer is healthy and Timmy is effective.  Getting Vogey back took care of that.

One interesting article came out about Buster Posey working with the minor league pitchers in camp.  Early word on Chris Stratton is encouraging as well as on Ty Blach.  Buster thought Kyle Crick seemed "tentative" in letting the ball go and gave him some encouragement to just let it fly.

Nori Aoki seems to be a bit of a character which fits right into the Giants clubhouse full of characters, in a good way.  He needs to make sure to not get too serious about wrestling Madison Bumgarner, though.  I can see visions of that Japanese wrestler kicking at Muhammed Ali's legs way back in the day.  That would not be good!

Angel Pagan's health is a huge key to the season.  Pagan did not show up to FanFest and took his sweet time getting to camp, but reportedly checked in yesterday afternoon and has assured Bruce Bochy he is ready to go 160 games this season.

Lastly, a tip of the cap to the miracles of modern medicine.  Just a few years ago, Bruce Bochy would have had to undergo coronary bypass surgery with his sternum sawed open and probably would have missed half the season.  As is, he had a couple of stents put in and was back on the field in 3 days.  Interesting that Boch said he felt better almost immediately after the blockage was opened up and he had been feeling less than 100% all winter.  Sounds like Boch may have dodged a bullet there, even with modern medicine.  He says he already eats pretty healthy.  His single biggest risk factor for recurrence is the cigars and chaw.  Those gotta go!

Still a week away from the first exhibition game.  Spring training is way too long and needs to be shortened!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Demi Orimoloye

Demi Orimoloye has a premium athletic body on a premium sized frame.  He is a high schooler from Canada who was born in Nigeria but came to Canada at age 10.  He B-R, T-R and stands 6'4", 225 lbs, but looks lean and athletic.  He can run with a 6.50 60 under his belt and he can throw up to 88 MPH from the OF.  He has a slugger's uppercut swing and tends to be an extreme pull hitter.  He had the 5'th highest exit velocity off the bat in the World Wood Bat games, but the hit tool may need some work.  He has been comped to former Montreal Expo OF Ellis Valentine.  BA has him ranked as the #39 draft prospect for 2015 while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #36 calling him a "monster with a chance for 5 above average tools."  The Giants have drafted Canadian HS players, but usually way down in the draft.

Red Sox to Sign Yoan Moncada

OK, we can all breath a big sigh of relief now.  The Giants did not throw a ridiculous amount of financial resources at Yoan Moncada and he's not going to be a Dodger.  Bullet dodged!  The signing bonus for the Red Sox is reportedly $31 M but comes attached with a 100% penalty.  The 'Sox are already over their international bonus pool limit for this year, so they were already in a situation where they cannot sign any international free agents for more than $300 K for 2 years starting 7/2/2015.

As for what this does for Boston's talent pool, it just adds to an already overloaded situation.  Second base?  They still have a guy named Dustin Pedroia there with Mookie Betts waiting his turn.  Third base?  They just signed a large round dude to play the position.  Pablo will probably move to 1B or DH when Big Papi finally retires, but then there is Garin Cecchini who I wish they would trade to the Giants.  Outfield?  There is already a logjam out there as far as the eye can see.  Obviously, talent is talent and future trades are possible.  The BoSox might be a bit thin on the pitching side, although they have talented prospects like Henry Owens there too.

You have to wonder about spending that much money on marginal upgrades on talent already in the organization.  I have a feeling this was as much about keeping him away from the Yankees as it was getting him for the Red Sox.  The Yankees are reportedly the runner-ups with a bid up to $27 M, and if you are a team that can afford that kind of upfront money and really want him that bad, howtheheck do you decide what your limit is?  I mean, we are already into silly money territory anyway!

At any rate, as you were, Giants fans.  Yoan Moncada is not going to be a Dodger!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Jorge Soler

Before we get started, I would like to remind everyone that I did a series on fantasy prospects last year. A review of the top names I did profiles on included Jurickson Profar, Javier Baez, Gregory Polanco, Oscar Tavares, Dylan Bundy and Jameson Taillon.

Profar- missed all of 2014 with a torn shoulder muscle.  Will miss most or all of 2015 after undergoing labrum surgery a few days ago.

Baez- Showed tremendous power, but also struck out over 40% of the time with a BA under .200.

Polanco- Started off strong but slumped badly after advance scouts and opposing pitchers found the holes in his swing.  He hit just .213 in the second half.

Tavares- hit a HR in his first MLB game against the Giants.  Struggled after that.  Was tragically killed in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bundy and Taillon both underwent Tommy John surgery early in the season and did not pitch in the major leagues in 2014.

There is no such thing as a can't miss prospect!

Jorge Soler, OF.  DOB:  2/25/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 215 lbs.

2013 High A:  .281/.343/.467, 8 HR, 5 SB, 8.9 BB%, 16.1 K%, 236 PA.
2014 AA:        .415/.494/.862, 6 HR, 15.2 BB%, 19 K%, 79 PA.
2014 AAA:     .282/.378/.618, 8 HR, 13.4 BB%, 20.5 K%, 127 PA.
2014 MLB:     .292/.330/.573, 5 HR, 1 SB, 6.2 BB%, 24.3 K%, 97 PA.
2015 Steamer Projection:  .262/.318/.470, 24 HR, 7.2 BB%, 21.2 K%, 556 PA.

Soler was signed out of Cuba in the summer of 2012 to a 9 year/$30 M contract.  Just as a point of reference, with current signing rules, the Cubs would have had to pay all $30 M as a signing bonus plus an additional $30 M penalty plus be limited to $300 K bonuses for international players for the next two years.  Soler has produced terrific numbers when he has played but has been beset by several leg injuries.  His 2014 MLB numbers would suggest that he will be an immediate start in 2015 but I would caution that he is well below the 1000 PA threshold that Brian Sabean says is necessary for a prospect to be really ready to play MLB and of course there is the injury history.  Soler is costing approximately $15 in fantasy auction drafts and his ADP is 90 or the  8'th round in 12 team leagues.  If he makes his Streamer projection, he will be approximately worth his cost.  He could break out and become one of the most valuable fantasy assets in your league, or he could pull another hammy in late April and miss a large portion of the season, or pitchers could find some holes in his swing like they did with Polanco last year.  I know I will at least consider drafting him for my fantasy team in my draft.

Thoughts on Rookie Hazing

A disturbing article in Yahoo Sports and other outlets this morning reports a recent interview given by former MLB catcher and current Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Gregg Zaun describes in detail hazing he experienced as a young player with the Baltimore Orioles that reached levels of what any reasonable person would classify as physical abuse, even torture.  Zaun went so far as to name the ringleader of the hazing, none other than Cal Ripken Jr., one of the saints of major league baseball.

In one reported incident, Zaun was playing catch in warmups with backup catcher Chris Hoiles and apparently lobbed the ball a bit too softly for Hoiles liking.  Hoiles head-butted the ball which was the attack signal.  Zaun was rushed by several veterans led by Ripken and pummeled around the ribs.  He was then carried into the clubhouse, taped spreadeagled to the training table and had ice poured into his shorts then left alone.

In another incident, Zaun had purchase a suit, his first as a major leaguer.  On the team plane flight, Ripken warned him to "under no circumstances" cross an imaginary line in the aisle leading to the back of the plane.  Ripken later ordered Zaun to come to where Ripken was sitting in the back of the plane.  When Zaun complied, he was attacked by Ripken and multiple veterans who ripped the suit off and smeared it and Zaun with the remains of a blue claw crab meal completely ruining the suit.  The pretense for the attack was Zaun disobeying the first order to not cross the line, while obeying Ripken's second order.

What is even more disturbing is that Zaun goes on to credit this treatment with making him a better ballplayer and to decry the lack of such hazing in the game today.  He specifically singles out Brett Lawrie as a young player he thinks would have benefitted from similar treatment, blaming Lawrie's disappointing MLB career so far on a sense of entitlement that Zaun feels would be eradicated by the hazing process.

For one thing, I am not so sure that Zaun really feels like his own hazing experience was a such a good thing.  The whole story reeks of disingenuousness with Zaun's endorsement of the practice thinly veiling what I suspect is his true mission, striking back at his tormentors from long ago.  By naming a revered former player like Cal Ripken Jr. as a perpetrator then going on to describe the abuse in detail, he may be unintentionally or intentionally releasing years of pent up anger and humiliation, finally getting his revenge by naming names.  I mean, Zaun has to know that bullying and abuse are currently the hottest of hot button topics.  Regardless of his own opinions he has to know that a revelation like this will bring down the wrath of the universe on Ripken, possibly permanently damaging Ripkin's reputation and not in a small way.  Zaun most certainly does not offer any evidence except his own opinion that his experiences as a rookie in Baltimore made him a better player, nor does he offer any evidence other than his own opinion that such treatment would have made Lawrie a better player.

The encouraging part of this story is that Zaun, by decrying the lack of such behavior in today's game, does give evidence that these types of incidents no longer occur, or at least not as often and not as blatantly crossing the line into physical abuse.  After the World Series, the Giants, who were helped immeasurably by several rookies who joined the team during the season, made it a point to emphasize that the rookies were not hazed.  Contrary to the opinion expressed by Zaun, the lack of hazing not only did not make the rookies soft or feel entitled, it actually helped them perform better and was directly responsible for the overall team success.  Hazing of the type described by Gregg Zaun has no place in today's society, and is in no way necessary for the development of young players.  I hope the Giants continue to be leaders in the no-hazing trend and continue to show that respect and fair treatment produce better results on the field than hazing and physical abuse of fellow players.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Mike Nikorak

I don't know what the BA boys were smoking when they ranked Nikorak #38, but there is no way he is the #38 draft prospect for 2015.  Nikorak is a 6'5", 225 lb RHP out of Stroudsburg, PA HS.  He is long and lean, even at 225 lbs with tons of room to fill out and get stronger.  He throw easy heat up to 97 MPH from a high 3/4 delivery that produces a strong downhill plane.  He throws both a 4 seam and 2 seam fastball with a breaking ball that has the makings of a plus pitch and a changeup.  Go look up videos of this kid and get ready to drool.  Kiley McDaniel has him ranked at #19.  Personally I don't think he makes it out of the top 10, let alone top 15, but if he is there at #18, I would think the Giants have a hard time passing him up.  He definitely won't be there in the supplemental round.  The one rap is that his velocity has been inconsistent, but it looked real in the videos I saw.

Hot Stove Update: Grading the Offseason

Pitchers and catchers reported this week, so despite the bitter cold back east, it's time to shut down the Hot Stove and count the cards from the winter long poker game.  A couple of closers, Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano, are still out there, but it's definitely time to declare the 2014/2015 offseason over.  When grading the offseason for Future Hall of Fame General Manager Brian Sabean and the San Francisco Giants, it's important to define what we are grading.  While the Giants offseason was solid from a baseball standpoint, it was a near-disaster from a public relations perspective.

The offseason started with another parade, and flags fly forever.  This parade had just a bit of foreboding attached in that one of the Giants homegrown core players and postseason heroes, Pablo Sandoval, was entering free agency and didn't seem particularly set on returning to the field where he accomplished so much and was so loved by the fan base.  Brian Sabean may have a great baseball mind, but he is not one to mince words and talk smoothly.  The Giants had issues at several positions, but Sabes held a postseason press conference and basically refused to discuss anything but how essential it was to re-sign Pablo.  Now, part of by brain thinks that this was just Sabes being Sabes with no clue how to handle the PR side of being a GM.  The other part of my brain suspects this may have been a smokescreen to to help the fan base accept Pablo leaving and even like it.  I mean, if signing one player is your one and only offseason priority, and you know at least one big spending team is also involved, you better come in with an offer you know is going to beat all other offers.  In the end, the Giants complained that they never made their final offer.  Well, why didn't you make your final offer if you wanted him back that bad?  By the time Pablo actually signed with Boston, a lot of fans were fed up and just as happy to move on.  Pictures of a very large Panda in front of Dunkin Donuts wallpaper did a lot to ease the pain.

The Giants moved on to pursue first Yasmany Tomas then Jon Lester with similar results as the Pablo pursuit.  By the time Lester signed with the Cubs, the Giants were looking like Jimmy Carter trapped in the White House during the Iran Hostage Crisis or King Henry waiting in the snow for an audience with the Pope.  It was awful!  The postseason looked like a huge bomb had gone off in the middle of the Hot Stove with debris littered everywhere with members of the Giants front office wounded and bleeding.  Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom to start moving up.  The Giants offseason hit rock bottom with the Lester debacle.  From that point on, Sabes rolled up his sleeves, went to work and produced a very solid, if unspectacular offseason.

First came the trade for Casey McGehee.  Sabes gave up Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo, a couple of minor league pitchers who may or may not develop into something.  McGehee won't replace Pablo on his good days, but will field the position and keep the line moving on offense.  The market for starting pitchers got a bit ridiculous with the Dodgers 4 year contract for Brandon McCarthy.  By comparison, Jake Peavy was a steal.  Peaves seemed to be out of gas by the end of the postseason, but without him, the Giants wouldn't have been there in the first place.  Sergio Romo seemed to be possibly dealing with some personal issues last year that may have contributed to his up and down season, but he showed how valuable he is in the postseason.  Getting him back at that price when relievers with less proven track records were getting $40 M contracts was also a great deal for the Giants.  The last piece was Nori Aoki who took a look at what the Giants had from across the field in the World Series and told himself he wanted to be part of that.  Aoki struggled in limited playing time in the World Series but had been great in the postseason up to that point.  He is not the power hitter fans were hoping for and he is not graceful in the OF, but he will field the position and get on base a lot.  Some fans, including Willie McCovey, thought Aoki was a little too much like Gregor Blanco.  I agree, but I think Gregor Blanco is a pretty darn good ballplayer, so I am not unhappy to have two of him on the team.  I do think Aoki is a better suited to lead off, which would free up Angel Pagan to move down in the order where his gap power can do more damage.  We'll see how that shakes out, but Bochy has already hinted that he may be thinking along those lines too.  With several physical question marks in the staring rotation, the Giants needed some depth there and Ryan Vogelsong was the best depth option on the market.  He came back on another 1 year deal, much to Nicole's joy.

If you block out the PR disaster that was the early offseason pursuits of Pablo, Tomas and Lester and look at the offseason from purely a baseball standpoint, it was a solid offseason.  Not spectacular, but solid.

1.  The Giants avoided getting locked into more bad, long term contracts that might become limiting in the future.

2.  They ended up with a team that is not worse than what they won a championship with last year and is possibly a bit better, particularly in the OF.

3.  They kept their first round draft pick and even moved up 4 slots from #22 to #18 which should produce a talented prospect.

4.  They gained a supplemental first round draft pick, #31 overall, which should also produce a solid prospect.

5.  They kept most of their farm system intact, a system that gets scoffed at way too much, but is underrated and much better than it is generally give credit for.

I am going to split Brian Sabean's offseason grade this year.  He gets an F for PR and a B for baseball decision making, although I am still at a loss to explain why he got involved in the public big name pursuits in the first place, which is very un-Sabes-like.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fantasy Focus: The Bargain Bin Team

Whether you are in a standard snake draft or an auction draft, you always want a fallback option at every position, or know which positions there may not be a safety net for.  In a snake draft, you want to know who might be left after a run on a certain position and whether you can afford to wait it out vs jumping into the run and grabbing what you can.  In an auction, you want to know how much of your allotted money you can spend at the top of your draft and which positions you might have to overspend on in order to not end up with an unacceptable option at the end.  Since I play in an auction league, I decided to try to make a team where every position is filled with players who cost $5 or less based on average costs in Yahoo drafts rounded up to the nearest whole number.  Here is what I ended up with:

Catcher:  Brian McCann $4.  #5 in Steamer projected SLG% among likely starting catchers.  Other nice late targets include Wilson Ramos, $2, #6 and Travis D'Arnaud $2, #9.

1B:  Justin Morneau $3.  #6 in Steamer projected SLG% among likely starting 1B.  Other late targets include Adam Lind $1.0 #19, Mike Napoli $1, #20 and Lucas Duda, $5.  Duda is ranked #28, but hit 30 HR's last year and is projected to his 24 this year.

2B:  Neil Walker $3.  #3 in Steamer projected SLG% among likely starting 2B.  Other late targets include Ben Zobrist $5, #6 with multiple position eligibility, Marcus Semien $1, #12, Aaron Hill $2, #16.  Don't forget Roughned Odor at $1 who doesn't have to worry about Jurickson Profar now.  Odor is projected to hit 18 HR's and steal 16 bases in a full season's worth of PA's.

3B: This is the one position I was not able to find an acceptable option for $5 or less.  This is one position where you definitely want to spend and spend early to fill it.

SS:  Xander Bogaerts $2.  #5 in Steamer projected SLG% among likely starting SS's.  If taking a risk on the health of Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez is not your cup of tea nor is overpaying Ian Desmond, why not take a chance on Bogaerts' upside?  Even his projection, which is generally quite conservative, gives you average production for the position.  His upside is a lot higher than that.  Other options include Zobrist $5, #9 and don't forget Marcus Semien $1 will likely be Oakland's starting SS and gain position eligibility within a few games.  His projected SLG% would be #9 bumping Zobrist down a notch if he currently had eligibility.

OF:  1.  Oswaldo Arcia $1.  #16 in Steamer projected SLG% for likely starting OF's.  2.  Travis Snider $1.  #27 in Steamer projected SLG% for likely starting OF's.  Will likely have a full time starting OF gig in Baltimore which is more hitter-friendly than Pittsburgh.  3.  Steven Souza $2.  #54 in Steamer Projected SLG% for likely starting OF's.  Souza is projected to approach 20/20 status with 18 HR's and 19 SB's.  One problem is he is now everybody's favorite sleeper, which makes him a non-sleeper!

SP:  1.  Ian Kennedy $3.  #10 in Steamer projected K's in SP's with a projected WHIP under 1.30.  2. Mike Fiers $2, #20.  3. Marcus Stroman $2, #23.  4. Drew Hutchison $2, #24.  5. Scott Kazmir $2, #32.  6.  Brandon McCarthy $2, #63.

RP:  1.  Zach Britton $5.  Tied for first in Steamer projected Saves with 35.  2. Hector Rondon $3, 30 Saves.  3.  Luke Gregorson $2, 24 Saves.  Don't forget setup guys who are one popped elbow or 1 trade away from Saves and who will also help you in ERA and WHIP while waiting their turn:  Wade Davis $2, Sergio Romo $1, Ken Giles $2.

Write these names down and keep them handy for draft day.  When you feel your butt cheeks tightening as you watch your targeted SS go off the board in a run or watch your favorite 2B target get overpriced in a bidding war, you can relax and know you have a fallback plan that will keep you competitive.

Spring Q/A

We've finished the Top 50 Giants Prospects list including honorable mentions and Dominican Dandies.  Spring training is just getting underway, but no games to wrap yet.  Maybe a good time to do a Q/A?

Please submit your questions about the Giants, Giants prospects, offseason, the 2015 amateur draft or anything about baseball.  I'll do my best to answer.  Please feel free to chime in with your own answers.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Suggested Links?

I just removed Roto Authority from my links over on the left.  It had been dormant all winter.  Then Tim Dierkes just posted a note essentially putting the site in mothballs indefinitely.  Anybody have a suggestion for a great fantasy baseball site?  I know about Fake Teams and visit frequently, but would prefer not to like SB Nation sites just because.  Any other baseball or Giants related sites I might want to link?

Appreciate any suggestions.  I might not choose to link them, but I will definitely check them out.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Dominican Dandies

Note that the top prospect from the 2014 DSL Giants squad, Mikey Edie, has already been profiled in the Top 50.

Kelvin Beltre, SS.  DOB:  9/25/1996.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 170 lbs.
2014 DSL:  .235/.430/.441, 3 HR, 7 SB, 23.7 BB%, 11.8 K%, 93 PA.

Beltre was a $500 K bonus baby from the signing period beginning 7/2/2013.  He might have had better numbers than Edie had he played more.  As is, we are left to wonder why he missed so much time.  Was it injury?  Or, did the Giants pull him out for a nutrition and conditioning program a la Michael Santos?  At any rate, project those numbers to 600 PA's and you have a 20/40 guy.  I'd take the walk rate with a grain of salt, but the low K rate is impressive too.  I'll be very interested to see where he surfaces in 2015.  I'm guessing Arizona.

Manuel Geraldo, SS.  DOB:  9/23/1996.  B-S, T-R.  6'1", 170 lbs.
2014 DSL:  .251/.323/.338, 16 SB, 5.4 BB%, 20.8 K%, 259 PA.

Was the third bonus baby from the signing period beginning 7/2/2013.  In some ways, I like him better than Beltre as I think he has a more projectable body.  Also like that he switch-hits and from what I've read, he seems more likely to stick at SS.  Improved as the season went along improving his BA from .203 in June to .272 in July to .299 in August.  He hit .308 after the DSL All-Star game.  We should see him on Arizona in 2015.

Mecky Coronado, C/DH.  DOB:  12/13/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 180 lbs.
2014 DSL:  .289/.393/.413, 1 HR, 10.3 BB%, 14.5 K%, 145 PA.

Very good hitting numbers in his pro debut.  It's a bit disconcerting that despite being listed as a catcher, he mostly DH'd.  Maybe that is because they wanted veteran Miguel Gomez to catch the young pitchers?  The bat says he should be in Arizona in 2015, but I'm thinking he may stay in the DR and get up to speed with his catching.

Robinson Medrano, OF.  DOB:  4/20/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 180 lbs.
2014 DSL:  .268/.368/.373, 2 HR, 3 SB, 11.2 BB%, 20.7 K%, 242 PA.

Holdover from 2103.  He improved his numbers, raising his BB% from 4.8 and lowering his K% from 24.0.  Love his size!  Hoping to see him stateside in 2015.

Deiyerbert Bolivar, LHP.  DOB:  4/3/1996.  5'11", 155 lbs.
2014 DSL:  7-1, 1.27, 64 IP, 2.81 BB/9, 9.42 K/9, 1.47 GO/AO.

Small lefty from Venezuela with nice numbers.  Had a 0.40 ERA over his last 10 appearances.

Prebito Reyes, LHP.  DOB:  10/21/1995.  6'3", 175 lbs.
2014 DSL:  3-3, 3.11, 66.2 IP, 2.16 BB/9, 6.48 K/9, 1.29 GO/AO.

Bigger than Bolivar, but K numbers not as impressive.  Had a 1.41 ERA over his last 10 appearances.

Victor Concepcion, RHP.  DOB:  11/23/1996.  6'0", 170 lbs.
2014 DSL:  6-1, 3.18, 65 IP, 2.08 BB/9, 10.38 K/9, 1.64 GO/AO.

Youngest of the big 3 DSL pitching prospects as he just turned 18 in November.  Had a 2.23 ERA over his last 10 appearances.

Jose Morel, RHP.  DOB:  9/6/1993.  6'2", 190 lbs.
2014 DSL:  7-1, 1.73, 52 IP, 2.60 BB/9, 9.52 K/9, 5 Saves.

Old for a DSL prospect.  Put up good numbers in 2013 too.  Have to wonder why that did not get him a call to the states.

Miguel Gomez, C.  DOB:  12/17/1992.  B-S, T-R.  5'10", 185 lbs.
2014 DSL:  .318/.367/.453, 5 HR, 3 SB, 6.0 BB%, 13.1 K%, 283 PA.

I added Gomez on after my original list.  DSL veteran which is usually not a good thing to be at all.  Then, he was named to's organizational all-star team.  Bobby Evans said the Giants would bring him to Arizona and see what they have.  Switch-hitting catchers with a hit tool are valued commodities.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Chris Shaw

Chris Shaw is a huge B-L, T-R first base prospect from Boston College, although he is remarkably athletic for his massive size and has played a passable LF.  He is listed at 6'3" with weights that range from 228-248.  After looking at video, I would estimate closer to the latter number on the weight.  He is not thin, but looks more big and strong than fat.  He's got a nice swing and power galore.  Here are his 2014 Boston College stats:

.329/.380/.502, 6 HR, 21 SB, 38 K, 207 AB.  Now, before you go scoffing at the 6 HR, I'll remind you that the last 2-3 years in college baseball have been very pitcher friendly with the BBCOR bats and balls with raised seams.  They have lowered the seams in the balls this year so it will be interesting to see if Shaw's power numbers spike.

He raked the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2013:  .335/.447/.503, 5 HR, 155 AB.

He showed more power in the Cape Cod League in 2014, but with a lower BA:  .275/.361/.479, 8 HR, 167 AB.  Shaw played on a strongly lefty leaning offensive team that faced a steady diet of LHP's on the Cape.  He showed definite improvement against LHP's as the summer progressed

BA has him ranked as the #37 draft prospect for 2015 while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #29.  The Giants historically have been interested in hitters that fit this profile in rounds 2-10, but not in round 1 or a supplemental first round.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part VI

Rayan Hernandez, RHP.  DOB:  9/24/1995.  6'4", 230 lbs.

2014 Rookie AZL:  0-3, 1.53, 29.1 IP, 2.76 BB/9, 7.67 K/9, 1.26 GO/AO.

Something seemed to click about halfway through the summer.  8 of his last 10 appearances went for at least 2 IP.  His ERA was 0.00 in 19 IP over that span.  Hernandez,  Dylan Brooks, Stetson Woods and Logan Webb made up what I came to call the Four Kids.  I would think next stop is Augusta.

Rodolfo Martinez, RHP.  DOB:  4/4/1994.  6'2", 180 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  1-5, 8.78, 27.2 IP, 5.20 BB/9, 11.39 K/9, 2.08 GO/AO.

The ERA is ugly but with a high K rate, an extreme GB rate and a BABIP of .524, you have to think some small sample size bad luck was involved.  He is reputed to be a hard thrower.  I could not find a definitive scouting report, but I found one mention of 94-96 MPH.

Kendry Melo, RHP.  DOB:  1/7/1994.  6'3", 210 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  1-2, 9.50, 18 IP, 10.50 BB/9, 9.50 K/9.

Giants got him after a contract with the Blue Jays was voided due to identity issues.  I found one reference to a FB that goes 91-94 MPH.  Wild pro debut.

Greg Brody, RHP.  DOB:  10/22/1991.  6'2", 185 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  1-1, 0.63, 14.1 IP, 1.88 BB/9, 16.95 K/9, 2 Saves.

College closer.  Not sure why he did not get a look in Salem-Keizer.  Great numbers in Arizona, but a very low level to start his pro career out of college.

Mason McVay, LHP.  DOB:  8/5/1990.  6'7", 240 lbs.
2014 High A:  0-5, 4.38, 72 IP, 3.25 BB/9, 10.38 K/9.

Big lefty reliever who can face RH batters and go more than 1 IP.  Peripherals better than his W-L/ERA would indicate.  Sleeper in the system who could possibly be converted to starter.

Travious Relaford, IF.  DOB:  5/13/1992.  5'11", 160 lbs.
Short Season:  .283/.380/.372, 3 HR, 9 SB, 12.0 BB%, 12.6 K%, 309 PA.

Athletic, toolsy IF with MLB bloodlines who finally found some traction after years of kicking around the lower levels of the system.  Needs to back it up with a good campaign somewhere in 2015.

Hunter Cole, OF.  DOB:  10/3/2992, 6'1", 195 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  .239/.311/.424, 4 HR, 7.7 BB%, 19.2 K%, 104 PA.

Showed some power in pro debut.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Marcus Brakeman

Stanford RHP Marcus Brakeman is on the smallish side at 6'1", 180 lbs.  He had a breakout of sorts in the Cape Cod League last summer.  His FB ran 89-91 MPH for Stanford in 2014, but took a jump to 91-95 at The Cape.  He combines the FB with a plus changeup and a hard slurve that sounds like an average pitch.  BA has him at #36 in their early draft rankings while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #33.

Hot Tip: Pablo Sandoval Probably Isn't In the Best Shape of His Life

OK, listen up team!  Any of you out there who still think it was imperative that the Giants re-sign Pablo Sandoval at any price?  You just might want to check out this photo posted on  It's entitled PHOTO:  Pablo Sandoval Probably Isn't In the Best Shape of His Life.

Oh my!  This is so special!  Now I have to say I have warned repeatedly that Pablo's body type is a time bomb waiting to go off, but I don't think even I thought it would get this bad this fast.

Check it out!!!

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part V

Connor Kaden, RHP.  DOB:  10/27/1992.  6'4", 200 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  1-0, 2.79, 9.2 IP, 3.72 BB/9, 14.90 K/9, 1.17 GO/AO, 1 Save.
2014 Low A:           0-1, 3.60, 10 IP, 2.70 BB/9, 6.30 K/9, 3.00 GO/AO.

Small samples sizes, but I believe Kaden was just one of two 2014 draftees to play in a full season league.

Seth Harrison, OF.  DOB:  7/22/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 195 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  .067/.222/.200, 1 SB, 16.7 BB%, 33.3 K%, 18 PA.
2014 Short Season:  .266/.298/.354, 11 SB, 4.6 BB%, 24.3 K%, 173 PA.

7'th round draft pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette.  Profiles as a speed/CF/leadoff type, but did not draw many walks in his pro debut.

Jason Forjet, RHP.  DOB:  1/4/1990.  6'2", 185 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  7-1, 3.10, 87 IP, 1.66 BB9, 9.00 K/9.

Pitched in San Jose in 2013 so I suspect he was rehabbing some sort of injury.  Good results here, but where does he go in 2015?

Ethan Miller, RHP.  DOB:  11/19/1990.  6'5", 200 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  5-3, 4.60, 78.1 IP, 1.72 BB/9, 6.55 K/9, 1.44 GO/AO.

ERA was 3.69 over his last 10 starts.  Will begin 2015 season on a 50 game suspension for use of a banned substance.

Eury Sanchez, RHP.  DOB:  11/8/1992.  5'10", 170 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  3-3, 3.48, 33.2 IP, 4.01 BB/9, 13.37 K/9, 14 Saves.

Small RHP on the closer track.  Big K numbers.

Hector Mercedes, SS.  DOB:  10/5/1991.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 188 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  .296/.330/. 469, 1 HR, 4.7 BB%, 24.3 K%, 167 PA.

Kicked around the DSL for several years before coming to the states.  Always intrigued by a middle IF over 6' tall.  Obviously did not walk off the island.

Richard Amion, OF.  DOB:  2/24/1993.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 190 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  .267/.379/.385, 2 HR, 8 SB, 13.5 BB%, 22.1 K%, 163 PA

Speedy OF from a small college program.  Nice OBP for a guy who profiles as a leadoff/speed guy.  Giants need to get an affiliate in rookie+ ball such as the Pioneer or Appalachian leagues for new college draftees.

Luis Lacen, OF.  DOB:  10/13/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 195 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  .250/.321/.271, 3 SB, 9.4 BB%, 37.7 K%, 53 PA.

Those numbers might not look like much, but look at his size and his DOB.  Will likely repeat Rookie ball for his age 18 season.  Love this kid's upside!

Kevin Rivera, IF.  DOB:  6/12/1996.  B-S, T-R.  5'11", 170 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  .228/.281/296, 6.7 BB%, 21.1 K%, 180 PA.

The other Puerto Rican HS kid the Giants drafted in 2014.  Does not have the upside of Lacen, but probably a bit more polished.  Like that he is a switch-hitter.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fantasy Focus: Thoughts On Starting Pitchers

I ranked all of the MLB SP's with WHIPs of 1.30 or less by total PROJECTED strikeouts according to Steamer.  My rationale for this is the 5 standard fantasy pitching categories are Wins, ERA, K's, WHIP and Saves.  Saves are obviously a completely separate issue pretty much limited to Closers.  Wins are a complete crapshoot and WHIP is more stable from year-to-year than ERA while approximately paralleling it. K rates are quite stable, so if you can project innings, you should get pretty close to yearly K's.  When I draft pitching, I draft for things that are projectable, which is K's and WHIP and factor in health if there is something I know about the pitcher.

I was able to find a total of 74 MLB SP's with projected WHIP's of 1.30 or under.  The K leaders in that group were generally not surprising.  The top 5 were Kershaw, Scherzer, Darvish, Sale and Bumgarner.  There were a few names that might surprise you and seem to be unknown to early mock drafters.

#10 Ian Kennedy 186 K's, 1.25 WHIP.
#19 Tony Cingrani 170 K's, 1.30 WHIP.
#20 Mike Fiers 169 K's, 1.20 WHIP.
#23 Marcus Stroman 168 K's, 1.24 WHIP.
#24 Drew Hutchison 165 K, 1.28 WHIP.

Cingrani had some injury issues last year and his health status for 2015 is largely unknown, so I would pass on this one in a draft unless he appears to be completely healthy in spring training.  The rest of these look pretty reliable.  Kennedy gets hurt in drafts by a history of high ERA's but he was in the mid 3's last year and will be pitching in Petco Park again.  On the other hand, that Padres OF looks like it could cause Padres'  pitcher BABIP's to soar.

Here are some pitchers outside the top 20 with WHIP's under 1.20:

#27 Hyun-Jin Ryu 160 K's, 1.17 WHIP.
#37 Hisashi Iwakuma 155 K's, 1.17 WHIP.
#38 Jordan Zimmermann 155 K's, 1.15 WHIP.
#44 John Lackey 150 K's, 1.19 WHIP
#63 Brandon McCarthy 131 K's, 1.15 WHIP.

Valuation of players is different in standard snake drafts vs auction drafts.  In standard drafts, you simply rank your players and take the best available  In this situation, Kershaw would clearly be your #1 ranked pitcher.  In auction drafts, you can buy any player(s) you want, but you have bid against other players and you have a spending cap, usually $260 for 23-26 man rosters.  Even though Kershaw is clearly the #1 pitcher, if you have to pay $8-10 more than you would pay for Max Scherzer or Chris Sale, you might prefer to save the extra money and draft Scherzer or Sale as your ace.  Or you might elect to save even more money and wait to draft a Zach Greinke or Jon Lester or David Price as your ace.  With 74 SP's projected to have WHIP's of 1.30 or less, you can get very good pitching very late in your draft, whether you are in a standard draft or an auction draft.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Beau Burrows

Beau Burrows is one of my favorite prospects in the 2015 draft class and I would definitely put him on my short list of players I would not be disappointed in if the Giants drafted him in the first round.  He's a 6'2", 195 lb RHP who consistently hits 96 MPH on radar guns and averages 93-95.  The intriguing part to me is he also ranked #6 in Trackman measured spin rate on his fastball and the PG AA game, a measurement that correlates with swinging strikes.  He also threw the highest percentage of strikes with the FB at 82% at the World Wood Bat gathering.  On video, he has  powerful rock and fire delivery that is eminently repeatable.  He adds in a nasty breaking ball that is already a plus pitch and a changeup that is a bit on the firm side, but has some fade.  One criticism is lack of physical projection, but my goodness!  How much projection do you need if you are already hitting 96 MPH?  BA has him ranked at #35 in their early 2015 draft rankings.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #27.  He would be an absolute steal at #31 for the Giants, but I believe he will end up being drafted much earlier.  Again, I would not be disappointed if the Giants grabbed him at #18, but I could see him going even higher.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part IV

Quick thought:  Going through these HM's has served to validate my top 50 list in my mind.  So far, I have not come across any who I regret not putting in the top 50.

Alberto Robles, IF.  DOB:  9/14/1990.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 155 lbs.
2014 High A:  .224/.270/.299, 2 HR, 9 SB, 5.1 BB%, 12.8 K%, 234 PA.

Extremely disappointing numbers in San Jose after posting a .304 BA for Augusta in 2013.

Rafael Rodriguez, OF.  DOB:  7/13/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'5", 198 lbs.
2014 Low A: .269/.309/.357, 5 HR, 2 SB, 3.7 BB%, 11 K%, 301 PA.

Hit a bit better in 2014, but still no bueno.  Seems to miss a lot of games with nagging injuries and only played in about 60% of games in 2014.  Time to move him up to SJ or else just release him.  Probability that he will ever have his breakout is down to pretty much zero.

Jeremy Sy, IF.  DOB:  10/14/1989.  B-R, T-R.  5'8", 175 lbs.
2014 Low A:  .216/.324/.393, 13 HR, 16 SB, 17.6 BB%, 23.4 K%, 397 PA.

The BA is ugly, but the other numbers are not bad at all.  A horrible BABIP of .256 suggests some of it was due to bad luck.

Ryan Jones, 2B.  DOB:  9/8/1990.  B-R, T-R.  5'10 ", 175 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  .310/.385/.362, 4 SB, 9.1 BB%, 27.3 K%, 66 PA.
2014 Low A:           .242/.361/.320, 1 HR, 5 SB, 15.6 BB%, 18.8 K%, 186 PA.

Started the season late, possibly due to injury.  May have a chance to move up to SJ for 2015.

Chase Johnson, RHP.  DOB:  1/9/1992.  6'3", 185 lbs.
2014 Low A:  4-7, 4.57, 110.1 IP, 3.26 BB/9, 7.67 K/9, 2.07 GO/AO.

3'rd round draft pick in 2012.  Has run hot and cold since.  3.88 ERA in last 10 starts and had 9 K's against 1 BB in 7 IP his final start of 2014.  The Giants seem to really like his stuff.  Probably still has a high ceiling if he can gain some consistency.

Steven Messner, LHP.  DOB:  12/10/1989.  6'1", 185 lbs.
2014 Low A:  7-5, 4.17, 110 IP, 3.19 BB/9, 6.71 K/9, 2.70 GO/AO.

Signed as a FA out of indy ball.  Will his extreme GB approach work at higher levels?

Carlos Diaz, LHP.  DOB:  11/18/1993.  6'2", 176 lbs.
2014 Low A:  6-6, 4.16, 101.2 IP, 3.28 BB/9, 6.73 K/9, 1.55 GO/AO.

One of the younger pitchers for Augusta.  Former DSL graduate.  Got moved to the bullpen later in the season.

Robert Ramer, RHP.  DOB:  7/4/1990.  6'5", 195 lbs.
2014 Low A:  3-5, 4.73, 45.2 IP, 2.56 BB/9, 7.88 K/9, 2.03 GO/AO.

Signed as a FA midseason.  Nice peripheral numbers.  Nice size.  Should get more opportunity in 2015.

Donald "DJ" Snelton, LHP.  DOB:  5/29/1992.  6'6", 215 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  0-0, 6.75, 9.1 IP, 3.86 BB/9, 11.57 K/9.
2014 Low A:           4-1, 1.23, 29.1 IP, 4.91 BB/9, 9.82 K/9, 2.38 GO/AO.

Tall LHP with great looking stuff.  Got a late start on 2014 possibly due to injury.  Pitched well in a very small sample size.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

College Corner: Saturday Notes

Several tidbits from Saturday's college action, mostly from the west coast schools as I like to know who might be sleeper prospects in some of the non-Pac 12 schools.

Jose Vizcaino, Jr is a big SS for Santa Clara which made some noise by giving Vanderbilt a run for their money down in Tennessee this weekend.  Viz Jr. goes 6'3", 220 lbs, so I'm thinking he ends up at 3B in the pros.  He has double MLB bloodlines as pop was a long time SS and utility IF for multiple teams including 1 season with the Giants in which he put up the highest WAR total of his career.  Mom is apparently the sister of former MLB pitcher Bob Scanlon, which is where I'm guessing Jr gets his size from.  Anyway, Jr. hit .323/.360/.423 with 11 SB last year.  He's off to a good start this season against Vandy.  Somebody to keep an  eye on for a later round draft prospect.

Santa Clara also has a junior power pitching starter in Jake Steffens and a jumbo bodied closer in Reece Kavalas who goes 6'3", 240 lbs.  He was 6-2, 2.25, 46 IP, 48 K, 11 Saves last year.

Drake Owenby is a 6'3", 210 lb LHP from Tennessee whose coach credits a nutrition and conditioning program for what he expects will be a breakout season for the junior.  He got off to a great start on the season with a 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K's performance.

Tanner Brown is a 6'4", 180 lb RHP who comes to Long Beach St. from JC ball.  He made an immediate impact with a 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K's line.  Long Beach St has another new player with MLB bloodlines in CF Jared James.  He is the son of Dion James, an OF for the Brewers, Braves, Indians and Yankees in 13 MLB seasons.  Jared is a JC transfer who hit .351 for Sacramento CC last year.

Lastly, we checked in on Giants 21'st round draftee Matthew Crownover who stayed at Clemson as a redshirt Jr.  His 2015 debut was 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's.  He is obviously trying to improve his draft stock appears headed toward doing just that.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part III

Brandon Bednar, IF.  DOB:  3/4/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 185 lbs.
2014 Low A:  .275/.314/.330, 1 HR, 8 SB, 4.5 BB%, 16.3 K%, 313 PA.
2014 High A: .241/.297/.354, 5 HR, 3 SB, 5.7 BB%, 17.7 K%, 212 PA.

I think he's played all 4 IF positions.  Intriguing size for a guy who plays a lot of middle IF.  Obviously goes up there looking to swing the bat.

Jared "Deac" Deacon, C.  DOB:  8/25/1991. B-L, T-R.  6'0", 190 lbs.
2014 Short Season:  .219/.311/.234, 10.4 BB%, 11.7 K%.
2014 High A:           .217/.280/.304, 7.7 BB%, 19.2 K%.

Round 33 draft pick out of CS Fullerton.  At first glance appears to be a defensive oriented catcher who will probably be an "organizational player", moving around to where he is needed.

Joe Biagini, RHP.  DOB:  5/29/1990.  6'4", 215 lbs.
2014 High A:  10-9, 4.01, 1218 IP, 3.23 BB/9, 7.24 K/9, 1.40 GO/AO

Big, workhorse, innings-eater type.  Improved his numbers despite moving up a level and moving from a pitching friendly environment to a hitter friendly one.  ERA dropped from 5.03 to 4.01  BB/9 dropped from 3.93 to 3.23.  ERA was 3.66 over his last 10 starts.  AA is more pitcher friendly.  I think he could have a breakout season for Richmond in 2015.

Pat Young, RHP.  DOB:  3/24/1992.  6'5", 200 lbs.
2014 High A:  9-6, 6.13, 111.2 IP, 3.73 BB/9, 7.50 K/9, 1.14 GO/AO.

Another big, RHP with a herky-jerky motion.  Peripheral numbers were not as bad as his ERA looks.  Probably a future reliever.

Joe Kurrasch, LHP.  DOB:  6/19/1991.  6'0", 205 lbs.
2014 High A:  8-4, 3.05, 91.1 IP, 3.25 BB/9, 4.83 K/9, 0.81 GO/AO.

Flyball tendency with low K's not a good combo, but was an extreme GB pitcher before 2014.

Tyler Rogers, RHP.  DOB:  12/17/1990.  6'4", 190 lbs.
Low A:  0-0, 1.02, 17.2 IP, 2.55 BB/9, 5.60 K/9, 2.20 GO/AO.
High A: 4-0, 2.00, 72 IP, 2.75 BB/9, 9.00 K/9, 1.86 GO/AO.
AFL:     0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 1.42 BB/9, 4.97 K/9.

Sidearmer/submariner with low walk rate and extreme GB tendency.  Even got K's in the Cal League.  If he can keep that up at higher levels, he's got an MLB career as a reliever in front of him.

Tyler Mizenko, RHP.  DOB:  4/9/1990.  6'2", 195 lbs.
2014 High A:  4-3, 3.48, 62 IP, 2.47 BB/9, 6.97 K/9, 1.69 GO/AO, 14 Saves.

Mizenko has been mostly a closer in his pro career so far.  Judging just from his peripherals, he appears to have more of a SP or long relief repertoire.

Martin Agosta, RHP.  DOB:  4/7/1991.  6'1", 180 lbs.
High A:  3-3, 9.23, 39 IP, 7.85 BB/9, 5.77 K/9.

2'nd round draft pick in 2012.   You can pinpoint when his troubles started to a game in Augusta in 2013 when something popped in his elbow and his velocity suddenly dropped.  He's never been the same since.  Seems to me his first priority is to do whatever it takes to get healthy again.

Nick Vander Tuig, RHP.  DOB:  12/9/1991.  6'3", 195 lbs.
2014 Rookie AZL:  2-0, 0.95, 19.0 IP, 1.89 BB/9, 8.53 K/9.
2014 Low A:           0-0, 11.17, 9.2 IP, 4.66 BB/9, 5.59 K/9, 1.63 GO/AO.
2014 High A:          3-2, 5.06, 32 IP, 1.41 BB/9, 5.34 K/9, 1.81 GO/AO.

Hero of the 2013 College World Series for UCLA.  That seemed to take a lot out of him and he has had trouble getting traction on his pro career.  The Giants are obviously trying to work with him and bringing him along very slowly.  2015 could be a pivotal season for him.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

College Corner: Opening Friday Starter Lines

Here are some random starting pitching lines from the first Friday of college baseball season.  Of course we are most interested in pitchers who are ranked as early draft prospects for 2015.

Carson Fulmer, Vandy:  5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K's.
Philip Pfeifer, Vandy(RP):  4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  He's a RS Jr, LHP.

Nate Kirby, Virginia:  7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.

James Kaprielian, UCLA:  6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K's.

Kyle Funkhouser, Louisville:  7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K's.  Total dominance!

Andrew Suarez, Miami:  5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K's.

Tom Eshleman, CS Fullerton:  6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K's.

Mike Matuella, Duke:  6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K's.  Facing Cal.

Andrew Moore, Oregon St:  7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K's.

Reggie McLain, Missouri:  8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K's.  A new name to watch.  JC transfer.  A Jr this year.

In Saturday action, Dillon Tate of UCSB threw 6.2 shutout IP with 8 K's in his debut as a SP.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects, Part II

Mario Lisson, 3B.  DOB:  5/31/1984.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 170 lbs.
2014 AA:  .266/.370/.467, 18 HR, 11 SB, 12.0 BB%, 20.6 K%,, 451 PA.

Pretty good numbers for Richmond.  I thought he might be a sleeper to replace Pabs at 3B.  Now he will have to wait for an injury.  Logjam in Sacramento?

Ricky Oropesa, 1B/3B.  DOB:  12/15/1989.  B-L, T-R.  6'3", 215 lbs.
2014 AA:  .241/.315/.330, 5 HR, 9.2 BB%, 22.8 K%, 391 PA.

Second disappointing stint in AA.  Needs to find some traction in 2015.

Angel Villalona, 1B.  DOB:  8/13/1990.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 257 lbs.
AA:  .227/.290/.381, 10 HR, 5.8 BB%, 23.5 K%, 400 PA.

A brutal second half slump, possibly related to an injury, really took the wind out of his sails as a prospect.  Another guy looking for traction in 2015.

Jeff Arnold, C.  DOB:  1/13/1988.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 205 lbs.
2013 High A:  .251/.333/.460, 13 HR, 9.6 BB%, 29.3 K%, 396 PA.

Suffered a serious knee injury in the first game of the 2014 season and was out all year after surgery.  Great working with young pitchers.  Injury may have been a factor in the struggles of the young pitchers in Richmond last year.  His future is probably in coaching.

Phil McCormick, LHP.  DOB:  9/7/1988.  6'1", 184 lbs.
2014 AA:  2-4, 3.72, 65.1 IP, 3.99 BB/9, 8.54 K/9.

Lefty reliever who can go more than 1 batter or even 1 inning.

Carlos Alvarado, RHP.  DOB:  10/22/1989.  6'4", 175 lbs.
2014 Low A:  6-1, 2.03, 62 IP, 1.89 BB/9, 7.98 K/9.
2014 AA:        2-0, 5.87, 15.1 IP, 2.93 BB/9, 6.46 K/9.

Signed a couple of years ago as a minor league FA. Has always put up nice numbers but at lower levels.

Dan Slania, RHP.  DOB:  5/24/1992.  6'5", 265 lbs.
2014 Low A:  2-5, 3.99, 58.2 IP, 3.22 BB/9, 7.06 K/9, 12 Saves.
2014 AA:       0-0, 0.79, 11.1 IP, 2.38 BB/9, 2.38 K/9.

Big Dan Slania out of Notre Dame.  Can't say these numbers are too impressive.

Bryce Bandilla, LHP.  DOB:  1/17/1990, 6'4", 230 lbs.
2014 High A:  0-1, 3.15, 34.1 IP, 4.19 BB/9, 12.32 K/9, 8 Saves.
2014 AA:        0-2, 8.80, 15.1 IP, 8.80 BB/9, 5.87 K/9.

Washed out of AA but got his feet back on the ground in San Jose. Still obviously struggles with command.

Elliott Blair, OF.  DOB:  2/3/1988.  6'1", 181 lbs.
2014 High A:  .316/.381/.452, 5 HR, 8 SB, 8.5 BB%, 22.5 K%.
2014 AA:        .240/.318/.313, 9.3 BB%, 25.0 K%.

Drafted in round 46 in 2011.  Giants keep him around for some reason.  Seems to be an excellent athlete who can play CF.  Has moved very slowly up the ladder.  Is time running out?

Ben Turner, C.  DOB:  4/27/1990.  B-R, T-R.  6'5", 219 lbs.
2014 High A:  .298/.353/.371, 2 HR, 7.9 BB%, 8.6 K%.

Drafted round 21, 2013.   Tall for a catcher.  K/BB's tell me he might be a sleeper prospect.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fantasy Focus: Outfielders

Here are the top 50 MLB OF's ranked by Steamer PROJECTED SLG% for 2015 with projected PA's. Remember, since 4 of the 5 standard fantasy offensive stats are counting stats, PA's are critical for valuation of a player.  If you roster a platoon player, you better handcuff his partner because those HR, RBI's, Runs and SB's do not accumulate from the bench.

1.  Giancarlo Stanton- .568, 634 PA.
2.  Mike Trout-           .538, 673 PA.
3.  Jose Bautista- .517, 654 PA.
4.  Carlos Gonzalez- .505, 533 PA.
5.  Andrew McCutchen- .504, 650 PA.
6.  Yasiel Puig- .495, 619 PA.
7.  Corey Dickerson- .493, 522 PA.
8.  Bryce Harper- .490, 616 PA.
9.  Brandon Moss- .485, 484 PA.
10.  Ryan Braun- .480, 610 PA.
11.  Oswaldo Arcia- .469, 538 PA.
12.  Yoenis Cespedes- .467, 600 PA.
13.  Steve Pearce- .466, 559 PA.
14.  Jorge Soler- .463, 541 PA.
15.  Mark Trumbo- .463, 566 PA.
16.  Adam Jones- .463, 646 PA.
17.  JD Martinez- .462, 588 PA.
18.  Evan Gattis- .459, 575 PA.
19.  Nelson Cruz- .457, 562 PA.
20.  Matt Holliday- .455, 593 PA.
21.  Jayson Werth- .454, 534 PA.
22.  Matt Kemp- .452, 561 PA.
23.  Khris Davis- .449, 412 PA.
24.  Jason Heyward- .446, 606 PA.
25.  Travis Snider- .442, 101 PA(Snider will almost certainly get far more PA's after trade to Orioles).
26.  Justin Upton- .442, 612 PA.
27.  Carlos Gomez- .441, 609 PA.
28.  Jay Bruce- .441, 527 PA.
29.  George Springer- .439, 564 PA.
30.  Carlos Beltran- .438, 466 PA.
31.  Michael Morse- .438, 553 PA.
32.  Allen Craig- .438, 295 PA.
33.  Hunter Pence- .434, 637 PA.
34.  Marcel Ozuna- .434, 624 PA.
35.  Melky Cabrera- .432, 622 PA.
36.  Alex Gordon- .432, 669 PA.
37.  Starling Marte- .430, 614 PA.
38.  Josh Reddick- .429, 512 PA.
39.  Cole Calhoun- .428, 603 PA.
40.  Michael Brantley- .427, 635 PA.
41.  Torii Hunter- .427, 620 PA.
42.  Josh Harrison- .421, 558 PA.
43.  Mookie Betts- .420, 418 PA.
44.  Michael Sanders- .420, 476 PA.
45.  Steven Souza- .419, 507 PA.
46.  Michael Cuddyer- .418, 591 PA.
47.  Jacoby Ellsbury- .418, 639 PA.
48.  Charlie Blackmon- .417, 606 PA.
49.  Shin-Soo Choo- .417, 634 PA.
50.  Josh Hamilton- .415, 566 PA.

Here are 6 more OF's projected to have more than 600 PA's:

Christian Yelich- .403, 660 PA.
Brett Gardner- .388, 655 PA.
Denard Span- .387, 635 PA.
Desmond Jennings- .377, 661 PA.
Austin Jackson- .371, 642 PA.
Ben Revere- .347, 614 PA.

Nick Markakis is also projected to have more than 600 PA's but I see no fantasy value in him except in the deepest of deep leagues.

Most Undervalued:  Oswaldo Arcia

Breakout Alert:  Jorge Soler

Sleeper Alert:  Steven Souza

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part I

First a couple of notes:  1.  These are listed in no particular order.  I quite sure there will be prospects in the last installment who I like much better than the ones in the first.  2.  A couple of early dropouts as Chris Dominguez and Mike Kickham were in the original list, but were both released and are now with other organizations.

Jarrett Parker, OF.  DOB:  1/1/1989.  B-L, T-R.  6'3", 190 lbs.
2014 AA:     .275/.370/.463, 12 HR, 11 SB, 10.7 BB%, 24.6 K%, 419 PA.
2104 AAA:  .278/.360/456, 3 HR, 1 SB, 10.1 BB%, 25.8 K%, 89 PA.

Parker was drafted in round 2 the same year Gary Brown went in the first.  Like Brown, he is a bit of an enigma, but in a different way.  3 true outcomes all the way.  His BA fluctuates but everything else is steady as she goes.  He puts up about the same OPS no matter the level and no matter the environment.  He's a decent defender who can play CF in a pinch.  Given the state of OF offense around MLB, there's gotta be some team who could use a guy like this.  Looks like he's start in Sacramento and wait for an opportunity or a trade.

Chris Heston, RHP.  DOB:  4/10/1988.  6'4", 185 lbs.
2014 AAA:  12-9, 3.38, 173 IP, 2.65 BB/9, 6.50 K/9, GO/AO= 1.41.
2014 MLB:  0-0, 5.06, 5.1 IP, 5.06 BB/9, 6.75 K/9, GO/AO= 1.20.

AAAA pitcher who might give you an emergency start or two.  Knows how to pitch, but just does not quite have the stuff for MLB.

Jake Dunning, RHP.  DOB:  8/12/1988.  6'4", 190 lbs.
2014 AAA:  0-3, 4.57, 65 IP, 3.60 BB/9, 7.06 K/9.

Dunning has had a couple of short MLB gigs out of the bullpen.  Has been strictly a reliever in college and the minors.  Giants think his pitch mix would work as a starter and he got 4 starts at the end of the season in 2014.  Maybe we'll see him in the Sacramento rotation in 2015?

Brett Bochy, RHP.  DOB:  4/10/1987.  6'2", 200 lbs.
2104 AAA:  4-4, 3.83, 54 IP, 4.50 BB/9, 7.83 K/9, GO/AO= 0.47.
2014 MLB:  0-0, 5.40, 3.1 IP, 5.40 BB/9, 8.10 K/9, GO/AO= 0.75.

The kid we affectionately call Melonhead Jr, son of the Giants Future Hall of Fame Manager(FHOFM for short).  Let's see here.  Soft tossing RH reliever with an extreme flyball tendency?  That is generally no bueno in MLB.  Might be able to get away with it in AT&T if you don't allow walks.  Yeah, I don't really see it working either.

Austin Fleet, RHP.  DOB:  4/17/1987.  6'2", 205 lbs.
2014 AA:     8-1, 2.78, 97 IP, 3.34 BB%, 7.14 K%, GO/AO= 0.69.
2014 AAA:  4-2, 3.95, 43.1 IP, 2.70 BB%, 6.85 K%, GO/AO= 0.65.

I have no idea what this guy throws.  He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades swingman type who puts up decent numbers wherever he goes.  Again, not sure that extreme flyball tendency works without plus velocity, which maybe he has, but I doubt it.

Kelvin Marte, LHP.  DOB:  11/24/1987.  6'0", 180 lbs.
2014 AA:  8-3, 3.83, 87 IP, 2.38 BB%, 5.69 K%, GO/AO= 1.87.
2014 AAA:  1-2, 5.45, 36.1 IP, 1.98 BB%, 5.20 K%, GO/AO= 1.86.

Marte has been around forever as he started out in the organization as a young international signee.  His  progress in the system has been slowed by multiple injuries over the years.  I saw him hitting 91-92 MPH a few years ago in the Cal League.  Don't know if he still throws that hard.  A low walk rate and a near-elite GB rate just might play, but the extremely low K rate works against him big time.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Donny Everett

Donny Everett is a big stocky HS RHP out of Clarksville, TN.  He goes 6'2, 220 lbs and he throws HARD!  He was the hardest thrower measured by the Trackman system at the WWBA championships with a peak of nearly 97 MPH and an average of over 93.  He also has a curve, slider and change giving him the makings of a 4 pitch mix.  Physically, he looks a whole lot like Matt Cain.  Let's see….Matt Cain is from Tennessee, right?  Hmm…..  Everett is committed to Vanderbilt so will be a tough sign.  Would #18 money get it done?  I would think so.  BA only has him ranked at #34 in their early 2015 draft rankings.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs does not rank him in his top 50, which I think is really off base after doing a lot of these profiles.  Personally, I would rank him as a first rounder and probably a top 20 pick.  I could see the Giants "reaching" for him at #18 if they think he is signable.  I am quite sure that if he drops out of the first round, it won't matter how high he is ranked because he will go to college at Vanderbilt.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #50 Matt Gage

Matt Gage, LHP.  DOB:  2/11/1993.  6'4", 240 lbs.

2014 College(Siena):  4-7, 4.50, 110 IP, 39 BB, 90 K.
2014 Rookie AZL:     2-0, 1.89, 33.1 IP, 2.16 BB/9, 8.64 K/9, GO/AO= 2.39.

Gage was the Giants 10'th round selection in the 2014 draft out of the northeast.  He's a jumbo body with a 4 pitch mix:  2 seam, 4 seam, slider, change.  I don't have a scouting report on him in terms of velocity.  On video he has a low 3/4 delivery that looks very natural and easy.  The numbers in Arizona are great, but a college draftee should dominate there.  Since he did not move up to Salem-Keizer during the summer, I would expect to see him starting 2015 in Augusta which is about what you would expect for a 10'th rounder out of a smaller college program.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Alex Young

Alex Young is a LHP from TCU where he has mostly pitched out of the bullpen, but is expected to jump into the rotation replacing Brandon Finnegan.  He's got a sidearm delivery almost identical to Christian Jones and a 4 pitch mix that includes average FB's and change ups but plus curves and sliders.  Here is his 2014 stat line:  1-3, 2.51, 43 IP, 16 BB, 40 K, 1 Save.  He started 2 games as a sophomore.  He reportedly also had an impressive Cape Cod League campaign, but I could not find any stats for him there.  BA has him ranked as the #33 draft prospect in 2015 while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #30 with a comment:  "The 6'2" lefty seems ordinary with a fastball, changeup and command that are all 50-55, but then he breaks out his plus low 80's curve and slider."  I guess I'd like to see the Giants aim a bit higher in the supplemental round.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #49 Christian Jones

Christian Jones, LHP.  DOB:  1/27/1991.  6'3", 210 lbs.

2014  Low A:  5-9, 3.33, 110.2 IP, 2.11 BB/9, 8.13 K/9, GO/AO= 2.05.

Christian Jones was drafted in round 18 out of Oregon in 2013.  As a sophomore in 2011, he was looked upon as a possible future first rounder.  Then he missed all of 2012 with TJ and worked out of the pen in 2013 as a redshirt Jr in a rehab year which hit his draft stock.  He signed with the Giants to get his pro career started rather than try to rebuild his draft stock as a redshirt senior.  The Giants like to grab these former studs whose stock drops for whatever reason.

Jones has a nice frame.  He pitches with a minimal windup and has a very low 3/4 delivery, almost sidearm.  I don't have much of a scouting report, but found one mention of a 90-91 MPH FB with a ton of natural sink.  Based on what I saw in a couple of videos, I would guess that his main secondary pitch is a sinking changeup that he puts on the outside corner to RH batters.  As you can see, he had a very nice K/BB for Augusta with elite GB ratios.  He faded a bit down the stretch as you might expect with the jump in innings.

Expect to see him in San Jose to start 2015 which will be a much sterner test than Augusta which is very pitcher-friendly.  With that delivery, he might be better suited for a future bullpen role, but the extreme GB tendency and changeup should also play against RH batters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Dillon Tate

Dillon Tate is another college closer, this time from UCSB.  He throws very hard, sitting 95-97 and touching 99 MPH.  He combines that with a filthy cutter/slider that grades as a 70 by some scouts.  He also has a changeup that he does not use much, if at all, as a reliever.  He goes 6'2", 185 lbs.  His stat line from his 2014 sophomore season:  2-1, 1.47, 43.1 IP, 17 BB, 46 K, 12 Saves.  BA has him ranked as the #32 2015 draft prospect while Kiley McDaniel has him a bit higher at #28.  He'd be a nice get at #31.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #48 Ty Ross

Ty Ross, C.  1/17/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 203 lbs.

Low A:  .246/.313/.347, 6 HR, 8.1 BB%, 18.4 K%, 472 PA.

Ty Ross is a defense first catcher drafted in the 12'th round in 2013 out of LSU.  His bat started to come alive in the second half of 2014 as he put up a .264/.331/.395, 5 HR line in 242 AB for Augusta. With the current emphasis on catcher defense, a guy like Ross becomes more valuable in the organization.  If he hits a little, there will be a place for him on a future MLB roster.  Expect him to move up to San Jose in 2015 where he will get a chance to hit in a much more friendly environment than Augusta and the SAL.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hot Stove Update: Padres Land James Shields

The Padres and James Shields have agreed to a 4 year contract worth between $72 M and $78 M.  This was probably not the deal Shields was hoping to get, but it is still a darn good deal for him.  As for the Padres, they add a workhorse SP, albeit one with a lot of innings on his arm, to a rotation that already was not bad at all.  Shields, Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy is certainly a very competitive front 4 with several candidates, led by Odrisamer Despaigne(one of my favorite names in baseball) competing for the 5'th spot.  That looks like a much more solid rotation than what the Giants are starting the season with, from my vantage point.  The deal is probably 1 year too long from the Padres perspective, but that is also probably quibbling.

Padres fans must be feeling optimistic with the addition of a couple of big bats, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton into a lineup that should score more runs for the Padres quite good rotation.  The downside of all this?  The Padres IF is still very weak and team defense projects to be downright horrific.  A lot will depend on how well Wil Myers handles CF and if his bat rebounds from a disappointing season for the Rays last year.

I honestly don't know how it will all play out, but the Padres have made some bold moves and will be an interesting test case for some interesting statistical baseball theories involving the relative value of things like OF defense and Catcher pitch framing vs power and pitching.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #47 Matt Lujan

Matt Lujan, LHP.  DOB:  8/23/1988.  6'1", 200 lbs.

2014  Low A:  6-2, 2.19, 70 IP, 2.70 BB/9, 8.49 K/9, GO/AO= 1.47.
2014  High A:  6-2, 3.42, 71 IP, 2.92 BB/9, 8.75 K/9, GO/AO= 1.39.

Matt Lujan is one of those prospects you love to root for.  He's a local kid from Stockton, CA then pitched for USF in college.  He had a great 2011 senior season at USF until his UCL popped during a routine long-toss session.  He underwent TJ surgery and took a job in marketing for a company in SF while he rehabbed.  The Giants Stockton area scout, who had liked and followed him since HS, monitored his rehab and signed him as an undrafted FA in April 2012.  Matt pitched well for the Rookie League Giants and moved up to Augusta where he again pitched well in 2013.  He started 2014 back in Augusta and pitched even better, earning a call up to San Jose midseason.  He didn't miss a beat and was one of San Jose's best pitchers in the second half last year.

Lujan has a simple left-handed delivery that does not look like he is using a lot of effort.  He has at least 3 pitches that he can throw anytime with good command.  He is a statistical triple thread with solid if unspectacular K, BB and GB rates.  He should move up to AA in 2015.  He's a bit on the older side due to staying in college for his senior season and missing his draft season due to TJ.  A left-hander who can put up those numbers is a prospect at any age.  If he can keep it up, there will be a place for him on somebody's MLB roster someday.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #46 Kelby Tomlinson

Kelby Tomlinson, SS/2B.  DOB:  6/16/1990.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 180 lbs.

2014 AA:  .268/.340/.323, 49 SB, 12 CS, 8.9 BB%, 16.6 K%.

Kelby Tomlinson might have been the toughest Giants prospect to rank for me.  He was drafted in the 12'th round in 2011 out of Texas Tech and methodically worked his way up the organizational ladder to AA last year.  He seemed to be mainly a defensive SS with some speed, but not much of a bat.  While his AA season last year was not Matt Duffy, it is also not a bad line for the environment.  Speaking of Duffy, it was a surprise when Duffy got the starting SS job at Richmond, moving Tomlinson over to 2B.  Kelby then moved back to SS after the Duffman moved up to bigger and better things.  In addition to his solid AA slash line, Tomlinson significantly improved his K rate while maintaining a solid BB%.  His success rate on the bases was solid too, showing acumen for when and how to steal a base.  Tomlinson's ceiling is probably utility IF at the MLB level.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Tyler Jay

Tyler Jay is a LHP for Univ. of Illinois.  He's been a reliever so far in his college career, but has a 3 pitch mix that scouts think will play as a starter.  He is wiry strong at 6'1", 175 lbs.  Physically the comp would be Cliff Lee or CJ Wilson.  FB runs 90-97 MPH.  Here is his 2014 college line:  4-1, 1.93, 41.2 IP, 13 BB, 47 K, 10 Saves.  He made 15 appearances for collegiate Team USA and did not allow an earned run with similar ratios.

BA ranks him as the #31 draft prospect while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #42.  He could be an interesting pick for the Giants in the supplemental first round.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #45 Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks, RHP.  DOB:  8/20/1995.  6'7", 230 lbs.

2013 Rookie AZL:  0-0, 6.14, 7.1 IP, 13.50 BB%, 9.82 K%
2014 Rookie AZL:  2-1, 3.18, 34 IP, 3.97 BB%, 11.91 K%

The Giants drafted Dylan Brooks in the 30'th round of the 2013 draft as a 17 yo high schooler out of Canada.  His size alone made you sit up and take notice.  I was pretty excited when they got him signed.  He struggled out of the gate, and again early in the 2014 season.  Then something seemed to click and he dominated the second half of the 2014 AZL season with a line of 2-0, 0.93, 19.1 IP, 8 BB, 27 K over his last 10 games.  He and Stetson Woods formed what I called the "Two Tall Ones" duo for the Arizona League Giants.  Add in Logan Webb and Rayan Hernandez, who I will cover in the HM section, were the Four Kids.  Add in young international arms like Michael Santos, Keury Mella and Deiyerbert Bolivar and the Giants have what I think is an impressive contingent of young arms coming out of the low minors in the near future and that does not count the guys drafted out of college.

I don't have much of a scouting report on Brooks.  He looks like a big strong kid with high hips and long limbs.  He is a drop and drive guy with a long stride that lands him closer to home plate than your average pitcher.  His release point is 3/4 and he appears to hide the ball well, bringing if from behind his ear after turning his upper back to the batter.  The only velocity number I could find was 88 in his pre-draft PG report.  He would definitely appear to have the physical potential to go a lot higher than that.

Friday, February 6, 2015

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #44 Jonah Arenado

Jonah Arenado, 3B.  DOB:  2/3/1995.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 195 lbs.

2013 Rookie AZL:  .211/.286/.263, 9.5 BB%, 19 K%, 42 PA.
2014 Rookie AZL:  .250/.340/.304, 10 2B, 10.2 BB%, 20.6 K%, 209 PA.

Jonah Arenado is the younger brother of Rockies 3B, Nolan Arenado, so just the name conjures up certain expectations.  Despite the familial connection, Jonah was largely unnoticed leading up to the 2013 draft out of El Toro HS in SoCal.  The Giants took him in round 16.  He only got into a few games in Arizona after the draft.  He got in a full short season last year putting up decent numbers.  I am not able to find much except a couple of HS videos and a a couple of still shots from Arizona.  He's got nice, even ideal, size, athletic movements.  He's apparently the baseball equivalent of a gym rat.  There was a story in BA from the 2013 instructional league that had the coaches hearing activity in the batting cage as they were getting ready to lock up the yard for the day.  It was Arenado taking extra BP.  They asked him why he was still there.  His reply was he'd rather hit than hang around the hotel.

The comp and ceiling is obvious.  He does need to get some traction on his career in 2015.  Augusta?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #43 Stetson Woods

Stetson Woods, RHP.  DOB:  1/15/1995.  6'8", 200 lbs.

2014 Rookie AZL:  5-1, 2.25, 16 IP, 2.25 BB/9, 11.25 K/9.

The name conjures mental images of the Marlboro Man or a character in Gunsmoke.  The reality is Stetson Woods is a very tall RHP with an amazing amount of coordination and body control.  It's also a strong frame with oodles of room to fill out and add strength.  The Giants drafted him in Round 9 of the 2014 draft out of Liberty HS in Madera, CA and got him signed just before the deadline.  He got into 10 games for a total of 16 IP.  As you can see, he showed both good stuff as evidenced by the K rate, but also surprising command shown by the low BB rate.

Woods features a 2-seam FB that has reached 93 MPH but tends to work more in the 88-90 MPH range.  The PG scouting report specifically says he can get inside on LH batters with the FB.  One other factoid.  In the 2013 Trackman data reported by BA, Woods had the 8'th highest FB spin rate in the tournament, 2411 RPM  on an 88 MPH FB.  He also has a slurvy breaking ball to go with it.

His delivery is described by PG as "clean, easy" with "good mechanics to build from."  It's high 3/4's which, combined with his height, allows for a pretty extreme downward plane.

I like everything I've seen of this kid.  I like how he looks on video.  I like his scouting reports.  I like his stat line from his pro debut.  Despite working exclusively out of the bullpen in Arizona, he looks like a starter long term to me. My comp is Doug Fister, and that ain't at all bad!  The only downside I can see is his age which is a full 2 years older than 4'th round draft pick Logan Webb, but given his other assets, I'll take it.  Hope to see him pitching in Augusta in 2015.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thoughts on Moncada Madness

Yoan Moncada was declared a free agent yesterday by MLB.  The news set of a chain of fevered speculation, which was already at a near-fevered pitch, regarding what team may end up signing him and for how much.  In case you are dropping by from another planet, Yoan Moncada is a 19 year old baseball player from Cuba who has already played a couple of seasons for what I gather is the Cuban equivalent on major league baseball.  He has mostly played 2B but can also apparently play SS, 3B and OF.  The only one of those positions where he does not seem to be a fit longterm is SS.  Moncada is not that imposing from a size standpoint going 5'11"-6'0" and about 200 lbs.  His body is mature for his age.  What he does have that is imposing is tools, tools and more tools.  Arm, speed, hit, power.  Yeah, he rates at least a 60 in all of those categories and a 70 in most.

The early frontrunners to sign him are the usual suspects, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers.  What adds to the intrigue is the fact that Moncada is classified as an international amateur FA rather than a MLB FA. This means that he is subject to MLB's international bonus pool limits and penalties.  He cannot be signed to a MLB deal which means all or most of the money will have to be paid out upfront rather than spread out over multiple seasons.  He would then be subject to the same roster/arbitration/FA rules as any other baseball prospect.  Current estimates of how big of a signing bonus Moncada will receive range from $30-$40 M.  Since almost all of that total would be in excess of any team's bonus pool limit, the penalty, payable to MLB, would be essentially 100% or an additional $30-40 M for a grant total cost of $60-80 M.  100% of the penalty has to be paid within 12 months while the bonus might be payable over 3 years, but I have not been able to confirm from any reliable source I have seen.

Is Moncada worth that kind of upfront investment?  He definitely does appear to be a wonderfully gifted ballplayer and may well be a future franchise type player.  Think Robinson Cano with more speed.  I'm going to nitpick a bit and say I am not overwhelmed by his body type when I see videos of him.  To me he already looks like he's packing some extra pounds, which is not necessarily a deal killer, but also not what you ideally want to see in a 19 year old.  I have not read of any scout who thinks he can play SS.  His main position seems to be 2B with talk of him maybe moving to 3B or to the OF to take advantage of his speed.  He may be a good enough offensive player that it doesn't matter where he ends up playing, but again, you really want that type of an investment to be for a special player which should include the ability to play a premium position.

Where do the Giants fit into all this?  They are reportedly one of the teams that has held at least 1 private workout with Moncada.  BA reported a rumor that Giants ownership was getting itchy watching other teams sign Cuban talent and is pushing to make a major investment in the Cuban market.  Larry Baer addressed this in an Q/A with the Bay Area Sports Guy and insisted that team construction remains a collaborative effort between ownership and baseball management specifically mentioning Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans, Dick Tidrow and John Barr.  Baer denied that ownership was putting on any extra pressure to sign Cuban players.  Then, Bobby Evans went on KNBR and while saying the Giants are seriously interested in Moncada, pointed out that there are problems with the upfront bonus money and the timing of where this falls on Moncada's age timeline.  He is 19 now.  Assuming he is essentially MLB ready now, the Giants would be paying a premium for his age 19-25 seasons only to see him become a FA just as he enters his prime years.  Most scouting reports I have read seem to think he would need 1-2 years in the minors, which would suggest he is not ready to provide premium on-field performance directly out of the gate.

The Giants do seem to be serious about scouting and making offers for some of these expensive free agents, so I assume they have the money to make a deal if they really think it's the right player and the right situation.  Putting all the available information together, though, I do not expect them to sign Moncada.  There are just too many big sharks in the pool going after one target.  One of them is going to blow up the market and make an outrageous offer that the Giants, or any other team, would be foolish to top.  As to where he goes, you have to assume the usual suspects, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers.  I would add the D'Backs and ChiSox who also have been active in the Cuban market and have shown a surprising willingness to go big with their offers.

There are a couple of other Cuban players who will be coming on the market any day, both also second basemen.  One is Hector Olivera a 31 year old veteran who has an impressive physique in videos I've seen as well as impressive batting lines from Cuba.  He did not play in 2013 and his 2014 line was not up to his pre-2013 standards, though.  The other is Andy Ibanez who I have not seen much discussion of except that he also comes under international amateur free agent rules like Moncada and is also expected to draw a large bonus that will go well into penalty territory.

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #42 Logan Webb

Logan Webb, RHP.  DOB;   11/18/1996.  6'2", 195 lbs.

2014 Rookie AZL:  0-0, 2.25, 4 IP, 3 BB, 5 K's.

Logan Webb was a "pop up" draft prospect from Rocklin, CA HS.  He was a two sport HS star who seemed to be more of a football QB than baseball player.  He started to get noticed as his senior season went along and he started to out pitch some more highly touted local talent.  His velocity on the FB was 94-96 MPH, but reportedly varied a lot.  He was also overused by his HS coach who let him throw 145 pitches in one game then used him 3 days later as a reliever.  It was in the short rest relief outing that his velocity dropped into the high 80's.  At any rate, the Giants grabbed him in the 4'th round of the draft and got him signed.  His pro debut sample size is just too small to make anything out of.  Conner Penfold posted a video of him pitching in the AZL.  It looked to me like he was able to pound the outside corner with FB's against LH batters.  There was one letter high FB that he blew past a hitter.  His breaking ball was inconsistent, but showed some nice bite on several offerings.  He didn't turn 18 yo until November, so he's still very young.  I'm thinking we could see him back in Arizona after extended spring training or maybe up in Salem-Keizer.  If he starts the season in Augusta, it will be a sign that the Giants have a lot of confidence in him.