Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe

Manuel Margot, OF, Padres.  DOB:  9/28/1994.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

2016 AAA:  .304/.351/.426, 21 2B, 12 3B, 6 HR, 30 SB, 6.4 BB%, 11.3 K%, 566 PA.
2016 MLB:  .243/.243/.405, 4 2B, 3 B, 2 SB, 0.0 BB%, 18.9 K%, 37 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .257/.298/.375, 25 2B, 9 3B, 7 HR, 27 SB, 5.2 BB%, 14.3 K%, 581 PA.

Margot can fly and he'll get a chance to fly around the basepaths with the Padres in 2017 as they are rebuilding, have no expectations and have no reason to be cautious with their baserunning.  Margot is a high contact guy with gap power.  He's a nice cheap source of SB's in deeper fantasy leagues.

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Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres.  DOB:  1/28/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 220 lbs.

2016 AAA:  .306/.336/.557, 34 2B, 5 3B, 30 HR, 5 SB, 3.9 BB%, 20.4 K%, 563 PA.
2016 MLB:  .371/.389/.800, 3 2B, 4 HR, 7.8 BB%, 13.9 K%, 36 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .240/.278/.426, 28 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 5 SB, 4.8 BB%, 27.6 K%, 586 PA.

Hunter Renfroe is a guy a lot of Giants prospect and draft watchers wanted them to draft back in 2013. Renfroe has worked his way up the Padres system and shown impressive power in the minor leagues albeit with a lot of K's and a relatively low BB%.  He should start in RF on a rebuilding Padres team and as we all know the first step to fantasy baseball value is having a steady gig on the field.  He's probably not for guys like me who play in 10 team mixed leagues, but should be a cheap source of power in deeper leagues.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants sign Slade Heathcott

Slade Heathcott, OF.  DOB:  9/28/1990.  B-L, T-L.  6'0", 195 lbs.

2016 AAA(Yankees):  .230/.271/.310, 5 2B, 3B, 5.2 BB%, 32.0 K%, 97 PA.
2016 AAA(White Sox):  .258/.407/.366, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 18/5 BB%, 25.3 K%, 119 PA.

The Giants signed former Yankees first round draft pick Slade Heathcott for a minor league contract with a spring training invitation.  Heathcott is a tremendous athlete who can play above average D in CF, but whose bat has never really developed.  Heathcott has a history of substance and alcohol abuse problems as well as anger management issues, but reportedly is clean now with help from AA and finding religion.

Heathcott will be 4 OF's fighting for a bench role who can reasonably play CF, Gorkys Hernandez, Justin Ruggiano, Wynton Bernard and Heathcott.

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The Giants have signed Vince Coleman(yes, THAT Vince Coleman) to be a roving minor league baserunning instructor.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Aaron Hill

Aaron Hill, 2B/3B.  DOB:  3/21/1982.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 2015 lbs.

2016(2 Teams):  .262/.336/.378, 14 2B, 10 HR, 4 SB, 9.6 BB%, 13.8 K%, 429 PA.

The Giants signed yet another veteran player to a conditional minor league contract with a spring training invitation as they promised to pay Aaron Hill $2 M if he makes the Opening Day 25 man roster.  Now, I have to say Aaron Hill had kind of dropped off my radar screen, so I was surprised to see his Fangraphs stat line and find that he actually had a pretty good season last year.  He was even a slightly plus defender while covering 2 positions.

So, I don't have a problem with bringing in a guy like Aaron Hill in isolation.  The problem is the Giants have signed a whole lot of these kinds of deals this winter and it's becoming increasingly difficult to see how they sort it all out.  I totally get that depth is a good thing and competition is a good thing, but this is starting to look like a train wreck waiting to happen.  The Giants now have, what, 4 veteran players in camp whose primary position last year was 3B?  Even after you factor in injury probability, option every player you can and complete the 25 man roster, you have at least 10-15 players left who are going to get released.

Spring training performance is already a dubious tool for making regular season roster decisions.  The sample size is very small by baseball standards.  The conditions, especially in Arizona, are not typical of regular season conditions and the level of competition for many of those innings is questionable at best.  Add in the need to find innings for all of these players who are fighting for a job and you have high likelihood of making a bad decision based on inappropriate criteria.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Michael Gigliotti

Michael Gigliotti, OF, College(Lipscomb).  B-L, T-L.  6'2", 175 lbs.

2015 Lipscomb:  .336/.409/.448, 5 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 17 SB, 25 BB, 31 K, 232 AB.
2015 Valley League:  .280/.349/.320, 2B, 3B, 9 SB, 9 BB, 9 K, 75 AB.
2016 Lipscomb:  .301/.407/.461, 12 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 15 SB, 31 BB, 35 K, 193 AB.
2016 Cape Cod League:  .310/.404/.426, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 SB, 23 BB, 38 K, 155 AB.

Michael Gigliotti is a true CF with current gap power and lots of room to gain size and strength.  He has shown elite on-base skills and has led all of college baseball in bunt hits over the last 2 years.  As you can see, he has performed well in wood bat summer leagues although his K's spiked a bit in the CCL.  He definitely has a lot of the qualities the Giants look for in a hitter, up-the-middle defense, contact and on-base skills and gap power.  Given approximately equal talent, I think the Giants will and should favor pitching in the draft, but if they think Gigliotti is the BPA, they could grab him at #19.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1. Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2. Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3. Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4. Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5. JB  Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina).
6. Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7. JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8. Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt).
10. Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11.  Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS
13.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
14.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
15.  Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.
16.  Jacob Heatherly, LHP, HS.
17.  DL Hall, LHP, HS.
18.  MICHAEL GIGLIOTTI, OF, College(Lipscomb).
19.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
20.  Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
21.  Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
22.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville).
23.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
24.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
25.  Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
26. Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
27.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS.
28.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).
29.  Corbin Martin, RHP, College(Texas A&M).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B, White Sox.  DOB:  5/27/1995.  B-S, T-R.  6'2", 205 lbs.

2016 A+:  .307/.427/.496, 25 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 36 SB, 15.8 BB%, 21.1 K%, 254 PA.
2016 AA:  .277/.379/.531, 6 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 9 SB, 13.0 BB%, 30.9 K%, 217 PA.
2016 MLB:  .211/.250/.263, 5.0 BB%, 60.0 K%, 20 PA.
2016 AFL:  .292/.370/.458, 11.1 BB%, 37.0 K%, 27 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .276/.375/.384, 27 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 34 SB, 10.5 BB%, 25.7 K%, 650 PA.

Yoan Moncada is an elite prospect with even more elite athleticism.  He was traded from the Red Sox to the White Sox over the winter in the Chris Sale trade.  The major, and possibly only, current flaw in his game is the strikeout rate.  The ChiSox will likely make him work on that in AAA to start the season.  Their starters at 2B and 3B are Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier.  One or both of them will likely be traded by July 31.  When they are, or may before, we'll see Moncada come up to stay. He will immediately be fantasy relevant.  He may hurt you in the BA category but his ZIPS projection of 17 HR's and 34 SB over the course of a season is a pretty darn valuable fantasy player.  You might want to wait on him in re-draft leagues, but if you are in a league with 6-12 keepers, he may still be available and you should think about drafting him aggressively.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign David Hernandez

David Hernandez, RHP.  DOB:  5/13/1985.  6'2", 230 lbs.

2016 Phillies:  3-4, 3.84, 72.2 IP, 3.96 BB/9, 9.91 K/9, 11 HR, 14.2 HR/FB.

The Giants kept fanning the dying embers of the hot stove even as spring training was getting underway in Arizona with yet another minor league deal with a spring training invitation and conditional MLB deal for 1.5 M which seems to be a popular number for these kind of contracts.  Maybe that is the de-facto minimum wage for all non-pre-arbitration players these days?  Anyway….

You may remember David Hernandez from his days as a Arizona Diamondback.  His best season was 2012 when he posted a 2.50 ERA with a 12. 91 K/9 and a 2.90 BB/9.  The next season his ERA ballooned to 4.48.  Then he missed the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery.  Last year he found himself in Philadelphia where he posted a 2.93 ERA in the second half of the season.  His average FB velocity last year was 94 MPH so his arm is definitely healthy again.  His big problem over the last 2 seasons has been a big tendency to give up dingers.  AT&T Park should help with that.  If he stays healthy, I think there is a high probability that David Hernandez will be on the Opening Day 25 man roster.

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The signing of Hernandez adds to the intrigue and competition for bullpen spots in addition to several position battles through spring training.  I wonder if the Giants felt like some guys were feeling a bit too comfortable and entitled last year?  Back to the bullpen.  Barring injury, Mark Melancon is a lock to be the closer and Will Smith is close to a lock for lefty setup man.  Strickland and Law are probably in.  That leaves 3 spots open for competition if the Giants choose to carry 7 relievers which seems likely, although they carried 8 for much of last season.

The Giants usually carry a long relief/6'th starter type in their bullpen and the competition would seem to be among Albert Suarez, who had that role last year and the loser of the Matt Cain/Ty Blach battle for 5'th starter(Blach has options, so could be sent to Sacramento).  That would leave 2-3 spots for the remaining competitors.

40 Man Roster players with MLB experience:  Suarez, Blach, Steven Okert, Josh Osich, George Kontos, Cory Gearrin.

Minor League FA's with MLB experience and ST invitations:  Jose Dominguez, Bryan Morris, Neil Ramirez, Matt Reynolds, David Hernandez.

How do you see the bullpen shaking out?

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MLBTR is reporting that RHP Alex Reyes of the Cardinals, who I recently profiled in a "Fantasy Focus:  Impact Rookies" segment, will likely have to undergo "Tommy John" surgery to repair a torn UCL.  If true, this is just one more example of an increasing direct correlation between velocity and probability of UCL injury in pitchers.  Once again, only about 50% of pitchers who undergo TJ surgery ever make it all the way back to their previous level of velocity and performance.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Spring Training Update: 5 Burning Questions

Pitchers and catchers reported today which means pretty much nothing happened that could be seen.  Pitchers will start throwing to catchers tomorrow.  It will be awhile before we see any live batting practice.  So, let's take a look at 5 burning questions that need to be answered in Spring Training for the  Giants:

1.  Can an aging core avoid serious injuries in spring training?  Serious injuries to Buster Posey, any of the top 4 SP or to Mark Melancon would likely be fatal to the Giants chances for an odd year championship run.  They could probably survive extended absences from Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt or Hunter Pence, but we've seen them struggle without Pence in the past.

2.  Does Matt Cain have anything left?  The ideal scenario for the Giants is for Cainer to win the #5 SP role which would allow them to use Ty Blach as a long reliever/swingman/3'rd lefty reliever or else stash him back in Sacramento for depth.  If they have to use Blach as the #5 SP puts pressure on Tyler Beede and/or Andrew Suarez to be ready immediately in case of injury to a SP.

3.  Who wins the starting LF job?  Personally, I think if Mac Williamson is healthy, you give it to him and give him at least half a season to lose it.  The Giants need another RH bat in the lineup in addition to power.  Mac gives them both plus tremendous long term upside.  I'm OK with bringing others into the mix, but only as insurance in case Mac gets injured.

4.  Who has the inside track for bench jobs, homegrown veterans from the 40 man roster or veteran spring training invitees?  Again, I don't mind having depth in case of injury, but it seems the Giants have gone way beyond that with multiple high profile players signed to minor league contracts with spring training invitations.  You know those guys did not sign to play in Sacramento as organizational depth, which means for equal or near equal performance in Spring Training, the kids with options will be the ones packing their bags on cutdown day.

5.  Is Eduardo Nunez the starting 3B or are the Giants angling to make him a super-utility guy?  The Giants have insisted that Nunez is the starting 3B for 2017, but Conor Gillaspie has a case to be at least a platoon at the position.  If Jae-Gyun Hwang shows he can hit MLB pitching in spring training, there will be pressure to make him the starter over both Gillaspie and Nunez.

What is your burning question for Spring Training?

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Corbin Martin

Corbin Martin, RHP, College(Texas A&M).  6'3", 200  lbs.

2015(College):  2-0, 2.95, 18.1 IP, 12 BB, 21 K.
2015(Alaska League):  1-1, 0.00, 21.2 IP, 12 BB, 27 K.
2016(College):  2-1, 5.47, 26.1 IP, 21 BB, 33 K.
2016(Cape Cod League):  0-1, 1.15, 15.2 IP, 3 BB, 22 K, 6 Saves.

mlb.com ranks Martin as their #22 draft prospect, which might represent the first big tier break in the rankings.  Martin has premium stuff including a mid-high 90's FB and a sharp breaking curveball, but his innings for Texas A&M have been limited by severe command issues.  Those seemed to go away as  he dominated the CCL and we know how the Giants love them some CCL performers.  I could see the Giants drafting Martin in one of 2 scenarios:  1.  He builds on the CCL performance and dominates his junior college season and the Giants take him at #19 overall.  2.  He regresses back to struggling with his command and falls into the 3'rd or 4'th round where the Giants are never shy about taking a chance on upside.  Martin will be in interesting story line as the college season gets underway.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board"

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina).
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Florida).
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11.  Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS.
13.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
14.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
15.  Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.
16.  Jacob Heatherly, LHP, HS.
17.  DL Hall, LHP, HS.
18.  Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
19.  Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
20.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville).
21.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
22.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
23.  Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
24.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
25.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS.
26.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).
27.  CORBIN MARTIN, RHP, College(Texas A&M).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Charlie Tilson

Charles Tilson, CF, White Sox.  DOB:  12/2/1992.  B-L, T-L.  5'11", 175 lbs.

2015 AA:  .295/.351/.388, 20 2B, 9 3B, 4 HR, 46 SB, 7.7 BB%, 12.1 K%, 594 PA.
2016 AAA:  .282/.345/.407, 16 2B, 8 3B, 4 HR, 15 SB, 8.2 BB%, 12.9 K%, 395 PA.

Charlie Tilson was drafted in 2012 Round 2 out of HS by the Cardinals.  All of his minor league numbers were put up in the Cardinals organization.  He was traded to the White Sox last year for LHP Zack Duke and promptly tore a hammy in his first MLB game after 2 AB's.  He is currently penciled in as the starting CF for the 2017 ChiSox.  He's got plus-plus speed which he'll have to prove he still has after the hammy.  Excellent contact and plate discipline skills increase his opportunities to run.  He has some gap power but won't give you much in HR's.  He could be a cheap source of steals in deeper fantasy baseball leagues and could eventually develop into a nice replacement for Adam Eaton.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Re-Sign Gordon Beckham

Hey team!  I'm back from my journey.

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The Giants have signed infielder Gordon Beckham to a minor league contract with a provision that he will be paid $1.5 M for the season if he makes the 25 man roster out of spring training.  As I am sure all of you know, Beckham was once considered an elite draft prospect.  In fact, prior to the 2008 draft, some analysts were speculating that the Giants might like Beckham better than Buster Posey.  Happily in the end, the Giants took Buster at #5 overall and Beckham went to the White Sox at #8.  Buster went on to win a MVP and 3 Rings while Beckham's career sputtered and ultimately never took off.  He was released last year by the Atlanta Braves and signed by the Giants who had run out of infield options.  Beckham went 0 for 5 with the Giants but was credited with bringing some life to a very stale atmosphere in the clubhouse.  In particular, it was reported that Beckham was able to bring Buster Posey out of his shell and loosen him up a bit.  Alex Pavlovic of CSNBA also reports that at least one player took the trouble of contacting Giants management in the offseason to point out the contribution Beckham made to the clubhouse is such a short period of time.

Someone asked Keith Law in his last Klawchat why he thought Beckham's career never took off.  Law's reply was interesting.  He said that when he scouted Beckham as a sophomore in college, he noted a significant hitch in his swing that slowed his bat's path the the ball.  His junior season was so great, though, that Law decided that he must have enough fast-twitch natural ability that the hitch did not matter and went ahead and raised his ranking to match the consensus.  Law went on to say that Beckham was never able to remove the hitch from his swing and it slowed his bat down enough that he was never able to consistently handle MLB pitching.  Just for the record, here is Gordon Beckham's stat line from last season for the Braves and Giants(again, only 5 of the PA's were with the Giants):

.212/.294/.347, 16 SB, 3B, 5 HR, 9.3 BB%, 18.6 K%, 279 PA.

The BB and K percents are excellent and there is a bit of pop there.

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Beckham's signing adds to an already enormous logjam of competitors for a relatively small number of roster spots in 2017.  Just for review, there are 25 Active Roster spots.  8 Starting Postion Players, 5 SP's, 6-8 bullpen slots and 4-6 reserve position players.  The most common distribution is 7 relief pitchers and 5 positional reserves.  In the past 2 seasons, the Giants have often rostered 8 relief pitchers and just 4 positional reserves.  One positional reserve slot has to be a backup catcher, who usually does not play any other position leaving just 3-4 non-catcher slots available.  With that in mind, let's take a look at will be competing for those precious roster spots.

Barring injury, it appears the Giants have 7 of 8 starting position spots in place:

C  Posey, 1B, Belt, 2B Panik, 3B Nunez, SS Crawford, CF Denard Span, RF Hunter Pence.

Left Field is open with Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker identified by Giants management as the frontrunners, but you have to believe the job is open for other to challenge.  Nick Hundley is the backup catcher so you can add that to the "taken" list.  The bench has to include someone who can play CF and someone else who can play SS, unless one person is capable of playing both, an unusual circumstance.

In summary, the Giants appear to have 4 open non-pitching roster spots:  LF and 4 bench players split between IF and OF, unless they carry 8 relief pitchers and it's just 3 positional bench players.

Now, let's finally take a look at who all will be competing for these 4-5 roster spots and what positions they are capable of playing:

Players on the 40 Man Roster:

Mac Williamson- RF, LF.
Jarrett Parker- RF, LF, CF?
Gorkys Hernandez- CF, LF, RF?
Conor Gillaspie- 3B, 1B, 2B?
Kelby Tomlinson- 2B, SS, 3B?, OF?
Orlando Calixte- SS, OF, 2B, 3B?

Minor League Contracts with Spring Training Invitations:

Jimmy Rollins- SS, 2B?, 3B?
Jae-Gyun Hwang- 3B, 1B?, LF?, SS?
Kyle Blanks- 1B.
Wynton Bernard- CF, RF, LF.
Michael Morse- 1B, LF?
Justin Ruggiano- RF, LF, CF?
Gordon Beckham- 2B, 3B, 1B, SS?

I did not include prospects who will almost certainly end up in the minor leagues, at at least to start the season including Christian Arroyo and Austin Slater.  That leaves 13 players vying for 4-5 positional roster spots, and the Hot Stove has not been extinguished yet.  How do you see it shaking out?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Calvin Mitchell

Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.  B-L, T-L.  6'1", 200 lbs.

Calvin Mitchell hails from Rancho Bernardo, CA.  He's a 5-tool athlete whose best tool is hit with some power with slightly above average arm and speed.  He's got a smooth, powerful lefthanded swing with power to all fields with ability to pull the ball.  His Perfect Game metrics show an 89 MPH throw from the OF and a 7.05 60 yd dash.  His bat-to-ball time is .106 sec. which is 83 percentile.

Calvin is probably a LF all the way which means he'll have to hit, although the hit standard for LF is not what it used to be.  His body type, tools and swing have been comped to former Angels LF Garrett Anderson, who had a pretty darn good MLB career.

Another factoid:  Calvin is my cousin's wife's second nephew.  OK, not real close there, but well within 6 degrees of separation, so there's a family rooting interest here.

mlb.com has him ranked at #21 on their list of 2017 draft prospects.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina).
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt).
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11. Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12..Royce Lewis, SS/OF.
13.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
14. Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
15. Trevor Rogers, RHP, HS.
16. Jacob Heatherley, LHP, HS.
17. DL Hall, LHP, HS.
18. Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
19. Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
20.. Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville).
21. CALVIN MITCHELL, OF, HS.
22. Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
23. Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
24. Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
25. Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS.
26. Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Thoughts on Javier Lopez

Javier Lopez announced his retirement today at the age of 39(is he really that old?). Lopez was an indispensable part of the Giants amazing run of 3 World Series Championships from 2010-2014. He was acquired at the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joe Martinez and John Bowker, a trade that was heavily criticized by certain parts of the Giants fanbase. It turned out to be one of the savviest trades of Brian Sabean's very savvy career.

Lopez was just breaking out as a lefty specialist reliever. Not only did he make significant contributions to the Giants first Championship in San Francisico, he stayed on to make major contributions to 2 more championships in 2012 and 2014. What Lopez gave the Giants was a second lefthanded option out of the bullpen to back up Jeremy Affeldt giving Bruce Bochy the ability to get favorable matchups against big lefthanded bats in multiple late inning situations. In today's game, you have to be able to neutralize the big lefty bats when the game is on the line late. Sabean and Bochy seemed to understand that long before most other GM's and managers caught on. Good lefty relievers not command much higher prices on the open market than what Sabes was criticized for paying back when he acquired Affeldt and Lopez.

One thing I did not realize, was Lopez and the Giants can probably thank Buck Showalter for Lopez' fine MLB career and for those 3 trophies that reside at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. Lopez was drafted as a conventional LHP and started his pro career as a starter. He struggled in that role, but Showalter instituted a D'Backs organizational policy that before releasing any pitcher from the organization, they would give them a second chance if they were willing to try throwing sidearm/submarine style. Lopez was one of those guys back in 2001. It took a few years and multiple organizations, but the conversion eventually paid off and the Giants were the main beneficiaries.

Javier Lopez, Good Giant. I do hope they will have a day for him this season and he gets a huge ovation. It will be well deserved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Tyler Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates.  DOB:  8/23/1993.  6'7", 195 lbs.

2016 AAA:  8-3, 1.87, 110.2 IP, 5.04 BB/9, 10.92 K/9.
2016 MLB:  0-2, 4.24, 23.1 IP, 5.01 BB/9, 9.26 K/9.

Glasnow was on this list last year, but spent most of the season in AAA which left him still ROY eligible this year.  The big problem for Glasnow was command as measured by a BB/9 of 5 which is at least 1 BB/9 above what he'll need to find consistent success in the majors.  Glasnow has close to elite stuff.  His FB averaged 93.5 which is a bit pedestrian by today's standards but he also has a killer curveball.  According to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, Glasnow has yet to develop any semblance of a changeup.  That and the command thing would cause me to stay away from him in fantasy baseball drafts. He has a huge ceiling, but I would not spend a precious roster spot on him except in the deepest keeper leagues until he proves he can lower the walk rate and keep it down.

Thoughts on Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo agreed on a contract to pitch for the Dodgers in 2017.  It's not the end of the world.  I mean I survived Juan Marichal pitching for the Dodgers at the end of his career.  Sergio Romo is not Juan Marichal, but he had his share of iconic Giants moments.  You all know the Sergio Romo story.  The Boy from Brawley who grew up a Dodgers fan and helped bring 3 World Series Championships to the Giants.  When Sergio left Brawley to go pitch college baseball, the locals told him "you'll be back, just like all the rest."  Romo's reply was "I'll be back, but it won't be like all the rest."  He kept his word and did he ever! Romo has earned a total of $29 M playing the game of baseball for a living and that does not count the money he made from TV ads and other endorsements. Even at that, he was a bargain for the Giants.  If you convert his career fWAR into dollar value, he was worth $64 M.  If you believe that fWAR undervalues relievers, he was worth even more.  His stat lines from 2008 when he broke into the majors midseason through 2012 were astounding.  He was one of the best setup relievers I have ever seen.  He stood in the gap when the Giants needed a closer and he didn't complain when they took the job back.  I'll say that Romo was not just a good Giant or even a great Giant.  He was an iconic Giant who had moments that will be remembered as long as major league baseball is played.  So, what was iconic about Sergio Romo?  Let me count the ways:

1.  The iconic pitch- that "no-dot" slider was one of a kind.  Maybe someone else has thrown a pitch like that in MLB, but I don't know who.  Very seldom in the history of MLB has one pitcher been associated with 1 pitch as effective as Romo's slider.  The memory of that pitch will remain with all of us who had the privilege of watching Romo help win 3 championships.

2.  The iconic moment-  Ironically, Romo's iconic moment did not involve the slider, but a fastball, thrown right down the pipe to Miguel Cabrera, of all people who was looking for the slider outside and just froze on the fastball.  It was the final pitch of the 2012 World Series and it might have been the gutsiest pitch ever thrown IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL!  I mean, who intentionally throws a fastball middle in to Miguel Cabrera with the World Series on the line, let alone gets away with it?  Everybody in the world knew that Cabrera was looking slider.  Cabrera was so sure of himself he didn't try to hide what pitch he was looking for.  Romo called him on it and won the bet.  Just unforgettable!

OK, that's only 2 iconic things about Sergio Romo, but how many players can claim even 1?  Other memorable things about him were the beard, the "I Only Look Illegal" T-shirt, the big smile and yes, the TV ads.  I'll say this, I have come close to going out and buying a Mercedes for no other reason than Romo's ads more than once.

So yes, I will miss Sergio Romo.  He may well do some damage to the Giants.  Last year ended badly for him and the whole bullpen, but overall he pitched quite well, when he pitched.  I'll be rooting for his tenure with the Dodgers to be short and unhappy.  Like Juan Marichal, his baseball home will always be with the Giants.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Blogger's Note

I will be away at a meeting for the next week.  I may be able to write up a few posts, but internet connections my be iffy so bear with me.  I will be back to regular posting next Saturday, Feb. 11.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Jacob Heatherly

Jacob Heatherly LHP, HS.  6'3", 210 lbs.

Jacob Heatherly is a stout HS lefty who hails from Alabama.  He doesn't throw in the high 90's, but commands a FB that sits 89-93 MPH and has hit 95 to both sides of the plate and adds 2 advanced secondary offerings that he delivers from a mid-high 3/4 arm slot.  His size and stuff comp to Brett Anderson who is a pretty good pitcher when he's healthy.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(UNC)
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt).
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11.  Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
13.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
14.  Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.
15.  JACOB HEATHERLY, LHP, HS.
16.  DJ Hall, LHP, HS.
17.  Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
18.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
19.  Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
20.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville).
21.  Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
22.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
23.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS.
24.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).

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Update:  I saw a report that Tristan Beck was having back problems and may not start the season on time for Stanford.  A prolonged absence would likely lower his stock enough that the draft eligible sophomore would wait until next draft when he would still have a year of eligibility for leverage.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Alex Reyes

Alex Reyes RHP, Cardinals.  DOB:  8/29/1994.  6'3", 175 lbs.

2016 AAA:  2-3, 4.96, 65.1 IP, 4.41 BB/9, 12.81 K/9.
2016 MLB:  4-1, 1.57, 46.0 IP, 4.50 BB/9, 10.17 K/9.
2017 ZIPS:  3.86 ERA, 121.3 IP, 4.67 BB/9, 10.39 K/9.

First of all, I've seen Alex Reyes pitch on TV and he ain't no 175 lbs!  He's got a filled out wiry/muscular 6'3" frame which is almost a perfect pitcher size and body type.  He also has premium stuff with a FB that averages 96.8 with 4 seams and 96.2 with 2 seams.  He backs that up with a slightly plus changeup and a minimally below average curveball by Pitchfx pitch values.  He continues to walk too many batters, but his strikeout stuff mitigates that.  He's slated to start the season in the Cardinals rotation although I would expect they will be strict with his pitch counts which will suppress his IP and potential for Wins unless he cuts the BB's significantly.  He will have more value in my league which is adding K/9 as a category and he will be of great interest in keeper leagues.

Friday, February 3, 2017

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Dominican Dandies

Angeddy Almanzar 1B.  DOB:  6/30/1998.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 180 lbs.

2016 DSL:  .294/.373/.438/.17 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 8.1 BB%, 17.7 K%, 271 AB.

5 dingers may not seem like a lot, but it tied him for 18'th in a league with 42 teams.  Combine that with a strong BA and better than average BB and K percents and I think we have a hitter here.

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Ismael Munguia OF.  DOB:  10/19/1998.  B-L, T-L.  5'10", 158 lbs.

2016 DSL:  .274/.359/.363, 13 2B, 4 3B, 8 SB, 11.0 BB%, 5.5 K%, 273 PA.

From Nicaragua. Very young, but already showing some gap power and look at that K/BB!  8 CS cause for concern that he may not be a SB threat going forward.

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Ricardo Genoves C/1B.  DOB:  5/14/1999.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 190 lbs.

2016 DSL:  .256/.342/.333, 13 2B, HR, 9.4 BB%, 14.5 K%, 235 PA.

$550 K bonus baby.  Solid pro debut with strong peripherals.  Represented the Giants in the DSL All-Star Game.

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Jesus Reyes RHP.  DOB:  7/31/1996.  6'4", 176 lbs.

4-1, 1.51, 35.2 IP, 4.29 BB/9, 11.61 K/9, GO/AO= 2.00.

Giants pitching representative to the DSL All-Star Game.

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Jose Marte RHP.  DOB:  6/14/1996.  6'3", 180 lbs.

1-1, 1.89, 19 IP, 4.74 BB/9, 8.53 K/9, GO/AO= 2.36.

Reported by Eric Longerhagen, who spotted him in Arizona, to throw in the mid-90's.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 9

Cameron Avila-Leeper LHP.  DOB:  2/11/1996.  5'11", 150 lbs.  Drafted 2015 Round 17.

2016 R:  0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 0.00 BB/9, 12.00 K/9.

Coming off TJ surgery.  Pitched well in 2 short late season appearances.

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Tyler Rogers RHP.  DOB:  12/17/1990.  6'4", 190 lbs.  Drafted 2013 Round 10.

2016 AA:  1-1, 0.77, 35 IP, 2.06 BB/9, 6.17 K/9, GO/AO= 5.15, 10 Saves.
2016 AAA:  1-1, 6.10, 31 IP, 4.65 BB/9, 6.39 K/9, GO/AO= 4.23, 1 Save.
2016 AFL:  0-1, 6.03, 8.2 IP, 2.08 BB/9, 9.35 K/9.

Sidearm/submariner.  Stumbled in AAA and the AFL although he maintained his elite GB rate(I consider GO/AO= 2.00 or above elite).  I was a bit surprised the Giants did not add him to the 40 man roster and also a bit surprised another organization did not take him in the Rule 5 draft.  Looks like he is going to have to prove out at AAA which may be difficult as there are so many parks in the PCL where sinkers don't sink.

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Ian Gardeck RHP.  DOB:  11/21/1990.  6'2", 220 lbs.  Drafted 2012 Round 16.

2016:  DNP.

Gardeck missed 2016 with TJ surgery.  Serious reliever prospect prior to the injury.  Giants usually start rehabbing pitchers at low levels and let them work their way back.  Could he take the Hunter Strickland route to the majors?

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Stephen Woods RHP.  DOB:  6/10/1995.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Drafted in 2016 Round 8.

2016 R:  0-2, 2.67, 27.0 IP, 5.67 BB/9.  8.33 K/9.
2016 SS:  1-0, 5.63, 8 IP, 5.63 BB/9, 13.50 K/9.

I added him late.  Seems to fit the profile of a hard thrower with a wild hair up his nose like many others in the Giants system.

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Up Next:  Dominican Dandies

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part 8

DJ Myers RHP.  DOB:  12/24/1994.  6'5", 255 lbs.  Drafted 2016 Round 15.

2016 R:  3-2, 1.70, 58.1 IP, 0.77 BB/9, 8.02 K/9.
2016 AAA:  0-0, 0.00, 1 IP, 0.00 BB/9, 9.00 K/9.

Big bodied RHP.  Intriguing 1 IP in AAA at end of season.

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Caleb Baragar LHP.  DOB:  4/9/1994.  6'3", 210 lbs.  Drafted 2016 Round 9.

2016 R:  5-2, 2.28, 55.1 IP, 2.60 BB/9, 8.13 K/9.
2016 A+:  0-1, 4.76, 5.2 IP, 7.94 BB/9, 4.76 K/9.

Great size for a lefty.  Small sample in San Jose at end of season not too encouraging.

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Alex Bostic LHP.  DOB:  11/14/1994.  6'3", 215 lbs.  Drafted 2016 Round 10.

2016 R:  2-4, 5.59, 46.2 IP, 5.21 BB/9, 7.52 K/9.
2016 A+:  0-0, 6.35, 5.2 IP, 6.35 BB/9, 11.12 K/9.

Another lefty with great size.  Uninspiring pro debut.

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Reagan Bazar RHP.  DOB:  6/27/1995.  6'7", 255 lbs.  Drafted 2016 Round 17.

2016 R:  2-2, 4.91, 18.1 IP, 6.38 BB/9, 7.36 K/9.

Huge righty with a wild hair up his nose.  Obviously a project like so many other current Giants minor league pitchers.

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Luis Amaya LHP.  DOB:  8/26/1998.  5'11", 160 lbs.  International FA.

2016 R:  1-0, 3.68, 7.1 IP, 3.68 BB/9, 8.59 K/9.

Very young.  Age is intriguing, but diminutive size makes you wonder about ceiling.