Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Giants 2015 Depth Charts: Relief Pitchers

The Giants are entering a transition phase in their bullpen make up.  The "Core Four" of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez lost one member with Affeldt's retirement.  The other 3 guys are not getting younger.  This comes at a time when the rest of the league is starting to wake up to the fact that relief pitching has been grossly undervalued throughout baseball, particularly by sabermetrically oriented teams.  The success of the Giants and KC Royals over the past 6 seasons has forced that re-thinking.  Just today, an article appeared in Fangraphs showing that having just 1 elite RP on a team appears to produce about 1.5 extra wins than predicted by WAR.  It's not much of a stretch to see that if you have a bullpen deep in elite relievers, you get an additive effect and maybe more than that if you have a deft manager like Bruce Bochy mixing and matching RP's to maximize their effectiveness.  Fortunately, the Giants have a nice stockpile of high velocity arms in the minors which should produce enough talent to keep future bullpen costs relatively low.  Again, these rankings are my opinion.


Santiago Casilla-R
Sergio Romo-R
Javier Lopez-L
Hunter Strickland- R
George Kontos-R
Josh Osich-L
Yusmeiro Petit-R

Ray Black-R
Michael Broadway-R
Cory Gearrin-R
Cody Hall-R
Derek Law-R
Joan Gregorio-R

The first 7 on this list could well be the bullpen that starts the season next year.  Yusmeiro Petit might be on the bubble as far as being offered arbitration after a relatively down season.  Black's FB has been clocked at 104 MPH in the AFL.  He could force an issue if he stays healthy.  Broadway, Gearrin and Hall all showed flashes of being MLB quality relievers in 2015.  Law missed time recovering from TJ surgery.  2016 will be an important year in his career.  Gregorio has all the talent in the world.  He could be either a starter or reliever.  2016 will also be a pivotal year in his career.


Jake Dunning-R
Austin Fleet-R
Steven Okert-L

Not sure if either Dunning or Fleet are really prospects.  Okert was the hot property last year, but got passed by Osich.  Okert needs to stage a bounceback in 2016.


Jose Casilla-R
Kyle Crick-R
Phil McCormick-L
Tyler Mizenko-R
Pedro Rodriguez-R

Santiago's younger bro's progress through the system has been glacially slow.  Not sure if he's still a prospect.  Crick is a reliever for now.  He could eventually return to starting, but may not go anywhere if he does not harness that bad boy FB of his.  McCormick has a chance to be a rare lefty reliever who can get RH batters out and go more than 1 inning.  Mizenko has a super-sinker.


Carlos Diaz-L
Ian Gardeck-R
Tyler Rogers-R
Dan Slania-R
Jake Smith-R

Wow! This group was sensational for San Jose in 2015!  Diaz was a latecomer from Augusta.  He could move back to starting eventually or become a lights-out lefty reliever who can go more than 1 inning.  Gardeck is hard thrower who sometimes gets hittable.  Slania is a big body.  Rogers is a sidewinder with high K rates.  Smith was lights out all season.  Will his stuff play at higher levels?


Rodolfo Martinez-R
Carlos Alvarado-R
Tyler Cyr-R
Conner Kaden-R
Dusten Knight-R
Eury Sanchez-R
Reyes Maronta-R

If I had to name a future closer for the Giants, it might be Rodolfo Martinez, who hits the upper 90's on the radar gun and improved his control immensely in 2015.  Tyler Cyr is a big body from the 2015 draft.  Not much stands out about the rest.


Cory Taylor-R
Caleb Smith-R
Heath Slatton-R
Eric Sim-R
Nathanael Santiago-R
Rayan Hernandez-R
Ryan Halstead-R
Michael Connolly-R

Halstead seems to be the closest to the majors as he was a college closer who had an excellent pro debut.  Sim is trying to convert from catching.


Julio Benitez-R
Dylan Brooks-R
David Graybill-R
Kendry Melo-R
Jose Morel-R
Randy Ortiz-R
Matthew Pope-R
David Owen-R
Stetson Woods-R

Kendry Melo started to come around this year and he may have the top ceiling of this group.  I remain hopeful for Dylan Brooks who pitched very well after returning from a suspension.  Morel put up great numbers for 3 seasons in the DSL and pitched well after finally getting a ticket to the States.  Randy Ortiz is trying to convert from the OF.  Woods had a very disappointing sophomore pro campaign.


Luis Amaya-L
Hengerber Medina-R

Amaya pitched as a 16 year old with great K ratios.  He may well be a future starter.  Medina is trying to convert from SS.  He was lights out in his pitching debut.

As you can see, not a lot of lefties in this category.  The Giants may need to focus on LHP's in the 2016 draft and groom several as relievers.


  1. Or, a number of southpaws who don't make it as starters could be converted to relievers as well. But if I recall, the Giants did seem to select a rather high number of lefthanders (and catchers) in a few recent drafts, and may need to repeat that strategy again. But of course the quality of the players available will more likely dictate their strategy.

    1. I noticed that Andrew Barbosa is now a minor league free agent. There's a new lefty that the Giants drafted several times!

  2. Ian Gardeck really stepped forward this year, he got his H/9 under control, stopped walking fools, had a stellar 4.33 K/BB ratio to go with 10.8 K/9. That's worth a close look as he goes to the Big Bad Eastern!

  3. I think we're largely set for next year. That gives guys like Okert and Law to continue to mature. You have to figure in 2017, we lose at least Lopez and perhaps Casilla and Romo. You'd like to hope Okert can step in and you have to think that you have enough with guys like Law, Black, etc. that move up types will be ready. At that point, the pen is pretty young and that will give time for others to move up as well. Great balance (although would be nice to get one more lefty in the mix). As long as they keep drafting, we're in great shape and frankly given depth at Pitching, it may be that Crick is not only best suited as a RP but most valuable too.

  4. Speaking of lefties, what do you think it would take to get Chapman? Apparently the Reds are in full on fire sale mode and listening on all players now. I actually wonder what it would take to get both Chapman and Hamilton. Hamilton hasn't hit for a lick yet in the Majors, but he could be a Dyson type weapon, and maybe Meulens can work some magic.
    I have been thinking of a package of:
    Susac (Reds get young power hitting catcher, Giants have Brown, Sanchez, and Garcia behind the best catcher in the Majors right now)
    Casilla (Reds get a closer to at least hold the fort for one year, at a cheaper price, Giants don't need him after getting Chapman)
    Pagan (Reds get a rental CF that can lead off and provide guidance, they take his salary for prospects, Giants have Blanco and Parker can play a little CF, and they are getting Hamilton)
    Beede (Reds get top pitching prospect of Giants, close to majors ETA mid 2016 to 2017)
    Arroyo (This is the one that gets kicked in to get both Chapman and Hamilton, Reds get young pure hitter at MI)

    Giants may have to throw in a lower prospect as well, Chapman alone is going to command a lot, and even though he has low OBP the last couple years they seem to love Hamilton.

    Giants OF could then be:
    Parker - LF? (If they don't sign Aoki again)
    Blanco - CF (seemed to come around and learn a lot from Aoki last year, not swinging that huge bat for the fences as much)
    Pence - RF
    Hamilton - OF backup and late game defensive/PR weapon
    Aoki? (If they sign him, I would think he starts LF most days and leads off, while Blanco moves down in the order)

    Other FA or Mac Williamson are options, but I think even with his success in the AFL the Giants will want Mac to get a few more ABs at AAA first, especially since he lost that time with the surgery.
    And of course Tomlinson might be an emergency OF backup as he grows into the position.

    What do people think? I don't know why, but I just love Hamilton's speed, in our park and if he ever got his hitting/OBP up even a bit he would be deadly!

    1. Give our two top prospects in Beede and Arroyo, plus a capable starting C, a capable closer for a dominant closer and CF project?

      The thing is, we don't need a dominant closer, we need SP and Beede should be ready by the end of the 2016 season, hopefully.

      I wouldn't mind trying to get Hamilton, for much less of a package, just to see what our coaches can do with him, but I would not want to give up that much to get a co-ace starter, let alone simply a dominant closer.

    2. Hamilton and Chapman are eye popping talents, but each of their 1 standout tool is a bit overvalued to me.However, I would be interested in a trade for Jay Bruce if the Reds are fire selling. I wonder if the old TImmy for Jay deal could be rekindled, just kidding. I wonder what it would cost to snag him to play LF?

    3. Chapman is a FA in 2017. Which means your proposal givers up way too many players and prospects for a one-year rental and a project.

    4. Thanks for the input! I in no way think this will happen, I have just been daydreaming of Chapman and Hamilton (albeit if he can get his OBP up a bit) for a while now.

      I know Chapman is a FA after this season, but in trading for him the Giants would then get either the opportunity to offer him a QO (which is why I think he might command even more than some people think if the Reds trade him this offseason, since the buying team will still get a chance to get a pick if he opts for FA) or to work out a long term extension.

      Again, I in no way think this will happen, I think the Giants rightly feel pretty good about their relief core with Casilla, Romo, and Lopez as the veterans, with Strickland, Kontos, Black, Osich, Okert, Hall, Law as the new blood.

      I was more playing off the Giants love for lefties, and wondering what it would take to get Chapman (and I am silly infatuated with the idea of Hamilton as a Dyson type weapon in our yard for some reason).

      What do people thing WOULD be an acceptable trade for either Chapman straigh up or Chapman/Hamilton?

      It looked likd the Red Sox were going to be in on Chapman a few minutes ago, but that appears to have changed with their trade for Kimbrel.

      Just wanted to also say that as a long time lurker who has only posted a couple items here, I love how the commenters on here are so respectful and knowledgeable! OGC and MosesZD, I love your input!!

    5. Thanks, Spike. I'll add my 2 cents and say I don't think your idea too far out there, although it would hurt to give up both Arroyo and Beede. I am a big Billy Hamilton fan who thinks there is real upside in that OBP and Chapman is the guy I wanted the Giants to acquire at the trade deadline last year, shut down closer who can go more than 1 inning.

      As for the QO, I think that system may change significantly with the next CBA as nobody seems to like it.

      One more thought on Hamilton: No matter what he does on offense, he can go get it in CF. Add in the game-changing speed and you have a very nice asset.

  5. Doc - There are a lot of great prospects here, but so many of them are late-rounders or DSL graduates (I believe?) that I recognize only very few of the named prospects, many of whom you're clearly hot on..

    I read once from a prolific blogger -
    "People love Lists!"

    I wonder if you'd be interested, for this particular set of Giants positional prospects, in piecing together a tiered list and ranking for this group of relief pitchers with a general grade and brief mention of strengths for the top tier. With so much talent in the system, and so much personal interest in how the next evolution of our bullpen is going to shape up (I'm not a fan at all of our current 2016 pen, as it stands), this would be a REALLY informative and interesting exercise.

    Thanks in advance if you can throw something like this together. I do love lists

  6. Doc, I have a few questions about this offseason.

    Are you nervous or do you get a bad feeling about any free agents the Giants may be rumored to be pursuing? Are there any free agents that you would prefer the Giants don't lose a draft pick for? My 4 trouble free agents are as follows:
    1. Alex Gordon - This guy screams Aaron Rowand 2.0. I like Gordon, but he gets too high of marks for his defense and grittiness. A good player that should not be paid to as an elite one. Pass
    2. Ben Zobrist - An expensive and underwhelming Mark DeRosa type. Like DeRosa they want to put this swiss army knife in LF? Playing LF eliminates his value IMO. We already have a loaded solid infield and that is the only place I would be happy paying him to play. He may not cost a pick, but he just seems unnecessary to this team unless they can swing a trade where they must include Duffy or Panik as a centerpiece to get an elite arm like Sale, Strasburg or Teheran. Pass.
    3. Chris Davis - A Ryan Howard redux. This guy has power, but his astronomical amount of Ks may drive me nuts. I have seen a prediction for 6yrs 144M. Check this HR tracker website: When you put his park as AT&T Park he loses 8-11 home runs, pass.
    4. Jordan Zimmerman - The TJ survivor thing spooks me on anything over 3 or 4 years. I also don't like losing a pick for a non ace.

    Guys I think the Giants should pay top dollar for and are pick-worthy.
    1. David Price - He is too good to not be more successful in the playoffs. Pair him with Bumgarner and let him be the best #2 in the game. Bonus of no pick lost.
    2. Zack Greinke - I am a little concerned about how prickly he is and if he will funk up the clubhouse. I feel like him and Pence would clash, but sticking it to the Dodgers may be worth it pick be damned.
    3. Jason Heyward - If the price is close to the rumored 10yr/200M sign me up. Plug him in to LF and let him go. Pick be damned/
    4. Yoenis Cespedes - Would be a great fit for LF and could even fake CF for a year or 2. His power would play in AT&T. Bonus of no pick lost.
    5. Johnny Cueto - This guy just does a good job of limiting hits. I think he would be a good investment if Price or Greinke fall through. Pairing him with Bum would be exciting and he won't cost a pick.

    Would you add any other names to either of these lists?

    The Giants need one of those 3 pitchers to round out their rotation because just resigning Mike Leake will not be enough IMO. If one of those hitters above is not possible, I would be more comfortable with taking a risk on a Blanco/Parker/Willamason platoon in LF rather than overpaying for average production like Fowler, Rasmus or Span. Do these staements seem accurate to you?

    Clint in Anaheim Hills

    1. Gordon is good. Probably better than any LF we've had in recent times. I don't see him being elite. I doubt he paid like he's elite.

      I was really interested in Cespedes, but from what I've read he might have club-house issues and some coachability issues. So I'm not so sure at this point.

    2. I agree with almost all of these. I would also stay away from all 4 of those you listed. I do think the Giants should go all out within reason and maybe a little more to sign either Price or Greinke. They have the need and they have the money. I also think Heyward is excellent value at 10/200. I just would not want signing him to get in the way of the needed upgrades to the pitching staff. I am not a huge fan of Cespedes(a bit streaky and a bit hot-doggish) or Cueto(worried about his longterm health). I think Leake is the best fallback option if Price/Greinke prove to be out of reach.