Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hot Stove Update: Giants Extend Contracts for Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy

Pretty much every Giants oriented website has a comment on this item. It seems to be a much more controversial issue than it should be. I almost let is pass here as a formality, but since there isn't really anything else to write about, I decided to go ahead and put in my 2 cents. You've heard most of this from me in the past, and many times over, but it apparently bears repeating.

Brian Sabean is, by far, the most successful GM the Giants have had since the immortal John McGraw. Some of you may be too young to remember, but the Giants had losing seasons 5 of the 6 years before Sabes became the GM, 3 of those losing seasons came after Barry Bonds joined the team. Since he became GM, the Giants have had 11 winning seasons out of 15. They have made 5 postseason appearances and been eliminated on the last day of the season 2 more times. They have won 2 NL Pennants and the only World Series Championship since they moved to San Francisco. Brian Sabean's winning percentage as GM is in the top 10 of all GM's in MLB since 1950.

As for the current state of the team, the Giants have one of the better young homegrown cores in the game with more young players in the pipeline. They have a strong scouting and drafting team. Combined with a strong fanbase, a solid ownership group and the best stadium in baseball, they are as well situated for the future as any team in baseball.

Brian Sabean is not a perfect GM. He has made mistakes. Those of you who may be hankering after someone else to take the reins of the team need to consider the potential alternatives. It is much more likely that the next Giants GM will be less successful than Brian Sabean than more. Extending his contract was the right thing to do!

Bruce Bochy has a big head and sounds a lot like Eeyore when he talks. He also has a tendency to prefer veterans to rookies, but this trait is grossly overemphasized by his critics. Like all managers, he has made blunders in game management that tend to stick in people's minds. Between the big head, the Eeyore voice and the memorable blunders, a lot of people think he is not a smart baseball manager.

Bochy's biggest strength might be in maintaining a positive clubhouse, something that should never be underestimated. One has to look no farther than this year's Boston Red Sox debacle to see what a bad clubhouse can do to a team. He has also consistently built strong pitching staffs, particularly bullpens. That may be mostly due to the personnel he has to work with, but I would point to his immediate predecessor as a prime example of how a manager can destroy a bullpen if he doesn't manage it properly.

Bochy's in-game management is underrated, IMO. His work down the stretch and in the 2010 postseason was nothing short of remarkable. Yeah, some of that might have been luck, but he made a lot of very good, even inspired decisions in that run. Ironically, I think his work in 2011 might have been even better considering the cards he was dealt. I read somewhere recently that the Giants Pythagorean record in 2011 was 80-82. If true, you could make a case that Bochy won 6 games for them with his managing. As OGC has pointed out, his record in 1 run games is nothing short of remarkable.

Some critics point to Bochy's lack of aggressiveness with "small ball" and "situational hitting". In reality, his tendency to eschew strategies like sacrifice bunting, steals, pitch outs and and hit and runs is sabermetrically sound. Also in reality, the Giants have been at least average in advancing runners over the last few seasons. It's getting runners on base in the first place that's the problem. Some of the lack of OBP may be Bochy's fault, but is more likely due to the players he has to work with.

Bochy's heaviest criticism seems to come from those who abhor his tendency to play veterans at the expense of rookies. There have certainly been instances where this was the case. On the other hand, the Giants have a great young core of homegrown talent that broke in under Bochy's management, so I'm not convinced that he's as bad as the CW says he is in this regard. Tony LaRussa is a manager who will almost certainly be in the Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy absolutely loves young players when compared with Tony LaRussa's attitude toward them!

Like Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy's record of taking teams to the postseason is underrated. His record with the Padres was the best that team has had. Now he's won the only World Series the San Francisco Giants have ever won. He may be 1 more World Series win away from serious Hall of Fame consideration.

Bruce Bochy is a very good, if not great manager. Extending his contract was the right thing for the Giants to do.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Questions and Answers

I'm temporarily out of things to write about. The Hot Stove is burning so slowly, it's almost extinguished! You all seem to have a lot of pent up questions. Maybe it's time for another Question and Answer post. Go ahead and ask anything baseball related and I'll try my best to answer. You all can chime in with your answers too. We can make it a conversation.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hot Tips and Early Draft Thoughts

I'd like to call your attention to a couple of new links over on the left hand side of the site: 1. College Baseball Daily has updates almost daily, as the name implies. Right now they are running down their top 100 college players for 2012. 2. MLB Draft Guide is a very ambitious MLB draft site that gives almost daily profiles of prospects eligible for the 2012 draft.

I was cruising around the the draft sites looking for early 2012 mock drafts. I thought it might be fun to look as some of the names being projected for the Giants at #20 overall. Since the new CBA was announced, it seems much less likely that the Giants will be signing any FA's that cost draft picks, so I'm assuming they will still have #20 when draft day rolls around.

2012 looks to be not as strong as 2011, especially at the top. It seems to be strong for both college and HS shortstops, prep arms and power hitters. Not so strong for college pitching and college hitters other than shortstops. Here are some names I've seen in mock drafts at #20:

My MLB Draft; Baseball America: Carlos Correa, HS SS. 6'3", 190 lbs. Some draft sites are ranking this kid the #1 shortstop in the draft in a pretty strong draft for shortstops. His size makes some wonder whether he will stick at the position, but he may hit well enough that it doesn't matter. He's from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. We know the Giants have a scout down there because they drafted 4 kids from there in 2011! This is one guy who might make me think they should take him as the BPA rather than a pitcher.

Baseball Draft Report: Ryne Stanek, Arkansas RHP(Draft Eligible Soph). 6'4", 180 lbs. 3'rd round pick by the Mariners out of HS in 2010. His coach says he has a "tremendous fastball" and "three really good pitches." Made 12 starts as a true freshman going 4-1, 3.94, 64 IP, 26 BB's, 41 K's. I'm not wild about the ratios and I doubt the Giants take a chance on a draft eligible soph with the new harder slot rules.

TTF Baseball: Brian Johnson, Florida, LHP. Polished college lefty who keeps the ball on the ground and has great control. Not a typical Giants first round pick.

Draft Site: Rio Ruiz, HS 3B. B-L, T-R. 6'2", 200 lbs. Two sport star out of SoCal also a football QB. Committed to USC. There are a few videos out there. His swing looks quite long to my eye, but a nice looking athlete with power potential. I expect the Giants to stay away from two-sport guys in this draft as they always have.

Rant Sports: Travis Jankwoski, Stony Brook, OF. 6'3", 190 lbs. B-L, T-R. Put up a .355/.419/.457 with 30/34 SB's. Not a bad guess given the type of player the Giants have taken in the last 2 first rounds. We know they scout the Northeast. In addition, Jankowski hit .326 with 7 triples in the Cape Cod League which is pretty sensational for that league. The Giants historically put a huge amount of stock in the Cape Cod League.

MLB Bonus Baby: Jake Barrett, Arizona State, RHP. 6'3", 220 lbs. Big hard-throwing RHP. 7-4, 4.14, 76 IP, 21 BB, 72 K's. Given the Giants organizational needs at pitcher, this could be a very nice pick to help fill that gap. We know they favor hard throwers, so I would put more stock in a guy like Barrett than Brian Johnson.

Draft boards change dramatically over time, so the take home point here is not the specific players listed but a general idea of what type of players may be available to the Giants at #20. From this list, I am encouraged that they will be able to draft a solid MLB prospect at this slot.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

San Jose A's?

I am on record multiple times saying the Giants are as well positioned for the future as any team in baseball. Some of that is based on their core of young major league level players, some on their farm system, some on their revitalized scouting/drafting operation. A lot of it, though, is based on their ownership, stadium and fanbase situation. This offseason has raised a few puffy storm clouds on the horizon. Nothing to run for cover over, mind you, but some things to check in on once in awhile to make sure a full blown tornado isn't forming.

First came the replacement of Bill Neukom as the managing partner. While I seriously doubt this will have a major impact on the future of the team, it is a bit unsettling that the move came so soon after he took over from Peter Magowan and right no the heels of the first World Series title since the franchise moved to San Francisco. While I don't believe Neukom is personally responsible for the Championship, he did accomplish some things in his short tenure that seemed to resonate with a lot of fans, including me. He wrote a franchise manual codifying some of the good things the organization was already doing. He seemed to want to emphasize scouting, drafting and player development as the way to build and maintain the team. I think Baer and the reorganized ownership group will continue to do many of those things, but yeah, it's a bit unsettling and something to be aware of.

Now comes word that Bud Selig is going to meet with the Giants ownership about a proposal to move the A's franchise to a yet-to-be-built stadium in downtown San Jose, in the middle of an area the Giants officially claim as their territory. Again, this may be no more than a tempest in a teapot, with no relevance at all for the casual fan, or even the obsessed fan, but it's worth taking a look at. I don't claim to be much knowledgeable about this stuff. My comments and thoughts will come more from the heart than the brain here. For a more rational businesslike discussion I recommend ObsessiveGiantsCompulsive's site.

I was only 2 years old When the Giants Came To Town. I didn't become aware of baseball or the Giants until I was almost 10 years old in 1966. They were a wonderful team back then. They had gone to the World Series in 1962. They had several Hall of Fame caliber players led by the incomparable Willie Mays. They were in contention every year, although frustratingly always seemed to finish in second place to someother team that was temporarily better. Then, the A's rolled into town with their carpetbags in tow. The carpetbagging aura wasn't helped by them having a huckstering medicine show operator of an owner who brought all kinds of showy gimmicks and promotions along with the A's.

Some of my friends jumped on the bandwagon almost immediately. I remember being annoyed by that. I wasn't looking for a new team to root for. The one I already had was just fine, thank you. The A's had a bunch of young players with goofy nicknames like Blue Moon, Catfish and Jumbo Jim. The Giants had Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. There was no comparison in my mind. I remember having a vague feeling that these interlopers were not good for my Giants, but I didn't really understand why.

Over the next decade, that wonderful Giants team gradually fell apart. The Hall of Famers performances faded as they grew older. Some were traded away. Attendance at Giants games faded along with the Hall of Famers. Some days you could listen to the games on the radio and hear the echo of the announcers in Candlestick Park. The players grew grumpy and complained endlessly about the terrible conditions they had to play in. My family moved out of the area. It didn't help that the upstart A's and their huckstering owner reeled off a string of championships that had eluded my Giants for so long. The Niners and Raiders seemingly had the same luck as the Giants in the football playoffs losing heartbreaker after heartbreaker. There just seemed to be a force in the world that had decided any team I rooted for was doomed not just to failure, but frustrating, heartbreaking failure. I blamed the A's and Charlie Finley. They had come in and stolen the Giants fanbase through devious, snake oily means which had resulted in the Giants being unable to afford any good players.

Of course, there was a whole lot more to it than that. The Giants Hall of Fame core was allowed to age together with nothing but Bobby Bonds to continue the glory, a burden he was ultimately unable to bear. Horace Stoneham was an aging, old school, alcoholic owner who was ill-equipped to deal with the rapidly changing financial landscape of Major League Baseball. Good young players were traded for wretched surly veterans. Candlestick Park remained a joke of a ballpark for far too long. Ironically, Charlie Finley ultimately became a casualty of the free agent era too, but not before he won a few championships to wave in the Giants collective faces for decades to come. Also ironically, the Giants high water mark of the post-Stonham era came when they were completely outclassed by the A's in a World Series that was interrupted by an earthquake that nearly destroyed the ol' 'Stick.

All that changed in 2000 when the Giants finally built a gorgeous new ballpark of their own. Pac Bell Park quickly became the envy of the baseball world. Suddenly, the Giants were the ones you couldn't get a ticket for. The A's soon became the forgotten stepchildren of Bay Area Baseball. Pac Bell Park became a national destination and the Giants were THE team to root for. Of course, the near misses, frustrations and disappointment on the field continued to plague them, but somehow it didn't seem as bad because the A's and even better, the Dodgers, were even more frustrated. Now it was the A's who were drawing 800 fans to a game. Yeah, there was Moneyball and Billy Beane, but you know, those pathetic A's fans had to have something to take solace in. The Giants owned the Bay Area. That ownership reached a crescendo with the long awaited and hoped for, and now unexpected Championship of 2010. The future was so bright, we all had to wear shades, well, except a few wretched naysayers who continued to rail against Giants management from various outposts on the internet.

Now looms the dark shadow of Bud Selig, seemingly coming to snatch away what should have belonged to the Giants and their fans all along, territory, precious territory, and along with it money, life-giving money to pay, not just the players, but the General Manager, the Scouting Director, the scouts themselves and the minor league coaches too. Somehow those of feelings of annoyance and foreboding I had as a kid as I watched the interloper A's come clattering into town and steal the glory from my team, are finding their way to the surface once again. What does this mean for my belief in the future of Giants Baseball? How much of the fanbase will is siphon away. What effect will it have on payroll? TV contracts, and ultimately performance on the field? Was 2010 both the first and last of the Giants Championships? Will the A's once again carpetbag their way to usurping the Giants dominance in Bay Area Baseball?

Hopefully these are all just suppressed anxieties from my younger days irrationally bubbling into my consciousness. The Giants still play in the Destination City. Nobody in their right mind with a choice would prefer to see a game from downtown San Jose over the gorgeousness of AT&T Park, right? No multibillion dollar company is going to want to wine and dine its clients in San Jose when they could be in San Francisco, right? All those potential fans in the East Bay will find it easier to make the trip across the bay by BART or the Bay Bridge than schlep all the way down to San Jose, right? All the TV stations that carry the games and news of the games will still be based in San Francisco, right? Brian Sabean will still be a better GM than Billy Beane, and Larry Baer, et al will still be better owners than Lew Wolff, right?

How do you feel about the A's possibly moving to San Jose?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Collective Bargaining Agreement

I thought I would add my voice to the cacophony of uninformed opinions out there about the new CBA with emphasis on what, if any, impact it may have on the Giants. Some of this stuff is way too complicated for me to completely understand. If you want a technical discussion of the fine points there are probably much better discussions out there. I'll just share my thoughts based on what I can figure out.

Free Agent Compensation: Starting after next season, there will be no type A or Type B FA's. Teams will have a 5 day window to tender a contract to their FA's. If the offer is for at least the average of the top 125 salaries in the game for one year, then that team can get compensation in the form of a supplemental round draft pick. The signing team will also lose a draft pick but it will not go to the old team. The player has 7 days to accept or reject the offer. Only the top 10 draft picks are protected instead of the top 15.

Comment: One thing I like about this is it takes arbitration out of the picture for FA's. The compensation will not be as high a draft pick, and it will likely only involve players who were previously Type A's, but it does make it easier for teams to get compensated because there is less risk in offering a contract. It may have a somewhat chilling effect on teams willingness to sign FA's who are borderline as teams will still lose draft picks and possibly higher value draft picks. Very smart move by the owners here. I'm surprised the players allowed arbitration to be taken out of the equation.

There were some "earmarks" or specific cases that were addressed that will impact this year's FA class and quite possibly the Giants offseason plans. Specific players were taken off designation as Type A FA's including Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham. In these cases, the team losing the player still gets 2 compensation picks, but the signing team does not forfeit a draft pick. This could make the Giants more interested in signing one of these two players as a fallback option if they can't sign Beltran. As long as the Giants don't lose a draft pick, I might even prefer Cuddyer to Beltran as Cuddyer can play multiple positions and has less of in injury history.

Draft: Each draft pick will be assigned a "slot value" much as it is now. There will be a very stiff, graduated tax on teams who exceed the cumulative slot value for the top 10 picks including the loss of future draft picks if they go too far above slot. It's not clear what happens if a team goes way above slot for the round 11 pick or later. This could prove to be a loophole barring further clarification. The signing deadline moves up to mid July instead of mid August. The 10 smallest market/lowest revenue teams will enter a lottery to get one of 6 supplemental round draft picks each year. Since market size changes slowly over time, I would expect the same teams to be in this lottery almost every year. Over time, the value of those draft picks could be a substantial competitive advantage. Major league contracts will be forbidden.

I don't think this will have much of an impact on the Giants as they have only gone substantially above slot for Buster Posey. Buster might not have fallen to them had this rule been in place at the time though. This may not be the Apocalypse for baseball talent that some are making it out to be. Teams can still allocate resources to sign an exceptional talent. They will just have to scrimp on the rest of the draft. Conversely, teams may choose to allocate their slot money more evenly over the first 10 rounds as a strategy. The only players I see being severely affected are the two-sport players. More of them may opt to play the alternative sport if they think they can do better there.

International Signings: Teams will have a international signing allowance ranging from about $1.8 M - $5 M each year in reverse order of record. Teams can trade up to half their allowance.

I don't see this having a major impact on the Giants who have already gone to a strategy of signing multiple players to lower bonuses rather than going for that one big impact signing. Early returns on this strategy seem promising.

Equipment: New players will not be allowed to use low density maple bats. If these bats are deemed to be dangerous, I think they should have been banned for all players. Probably existing endorsement contracts played a role in this decision. Always follow the money! Hitters will be required to use batting helmets that can withstand a 100 MPH impact. I think we can all be in favor of this one.

Substance abuse: Players will tested for HGH. It's about time! Players will be required to undergo evaluation for possible alcoholism for any altercation with the law

Minimum Salary: Rises to $480 K and then to $500 K. Minimal impact.

The agreement does nothing to help minor leaguers. I agree with Bacci on this. Baseball needs to do something to improve working conditions for minor leaguers. Unfortunately, minor leaguers are not members of the "club" and therefore their interests are not represented at these negotiations.

What do you think about the new Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Down on the Farm: Right Handed Starting Pitcher Depth Chart

The final installment in the Depth Chart series comes down to RH starting pitching. Just one comment before we get started on the rundown: While the Giants have been excellent at developing their elite pitching prospects, they really haven't been all that with the second and third tier guys. They need to come up with a solid #4 or #5 starter from these ranks every once in awhile.


Justin Fitzgerald 6'5", 225 lbs. BD: 3/3/1986. 9-9, 3.51, 146.1 IP, 55 BB, 111 K's. Local fellow from Cloverdale and Santa Rosa. College closer at UC Davis. Big, strong RHP who can pound the zone. Seemed to get stronger as the year went on finishing with 53 K's and 19 BB's in 61 IP over his last 10 games. Has put up very consistent numbers at each stop in his pro career. Should get a rotation spot in Fresno in 2012 and be close to the front of the line if an emergency callup is needed.

Daryl Maday 6'2", 225 lbs. BD: 8/12/1985. AA 4-10, 4.47, 116.2 IP, 39 BB, 92 K's. AAA 0-2, 7.07, 14 IP, 7 BB, 7 K's. AFL 1-2, 4.91, 11 IP, 5 BB, 11 K's. Drafted way back in 2006, Maday has kicked around the organization more as an organizational player than prospect. Rule 5 eligible this year, unprotected, low probability of being picked.


Chris Heston 6'4", 185 lbs. BD: 4/10/1988. 12-4, 3.16, 151.0 IP, 40 BB, 131 K's, GO/AO= 2.20. Heston had a stellar season for San Jose improving on his numbers from Augusta in 2010. Particularly strong down the stretch with a 1.78 ERA over his last 10 starts. I didn't get to see him pitch, but the reports I've seen indicate that his success is more due to pitchability than stuff.

Craig Westcott 6'4", 225 lbs. BD: 3/1/1986. 13-4, 3.42, 155.1 IP, 33 BB, 87 K's, GO/AO= 1.49. Repeater at High A after failing a promo to AA in 2010. Pitch-to-contact guy. I'd be concerned about the low K rate.

Andy Reichard 6'4", 235 lbs. BD: 12/4/1984. 9-4, 3.38, 112 IP, 25 BB, 61 K's, GO/AO= 0.98. Reichard has always been a personal favorite of mine for some reason. He's getting awfully old and the low K combined with a flyball tendency does not bode well for the future.


Shawn Sanford 6'0", 200 lbs. BD: 8/28/1988. 10-10, 2.55, 169.2 IP, 30 BB, 107 K's, GO/AO= 1.63. Sanford won the SAL Most Outstanding Pitcher award, but those peripheral numbers scream older prospect dominating with pitchability. I just don't see them translating to higher levels.

Taylor Rogers 6'4", 200 lbs. BD: 6/5/1987. 12-10, 2.91, 154.2 IP, 38 BB, 86 K's, GO/AO= 2.11. Even older than Sanford. The groundball tendency is mildly interesting.

Justin Schumer 6'0", 180 lbs. BD: 8/2/1988. Low A 5-5, 5.24, 80.2 IP, 30 BB, 49 K. AA 1-0, 1.29, 14 IP, 10 BB, 4 K's. Nothing in this line suggests any potential. I think it's pretty clear he got lucky in his AA stint.


Cameron Lamb 6'3", 195 lbs. BD: 5/29/1989. 4-6, 5.09, 74.1 IP, 15 BB, 58 K's, GO/AO= 2.16. Signed as a 17 yo FA out of Australia in 2007. Missed the 2008 season presumably to TJ surgery. Pitched very little in 2010, so even though he's getting older, he is still quite inexperienced. Needs a breakout of sorts. Like the control and GB tendencies.

Lorenzo Mendoza 5'10", 190 lbs. BD: 8/6/1991. 5-5, 4.19, 73 IP, 16 BB, 68 K's. Like the K/BB and he has age vs level going for him.

Reinier Roibal 6'2", 215 lbs. BD: 1/19/1989. 1-4, 3.74, 67.1 IP, 17 BB, 58 K's. Signed as a FA out of Cuba before the 2010 season. Only pitched 8.2 innings his first season, so this was really his first pro experience. Word is his stuff is not what it was touted to be coming out of Cuba. We'll see how he progresses. OK K/BB's.

Brandon Allen 6'6", 190 lbs. BD: 8/15.1991. 2-8, 6.04, 56.2 IP, 22 BB, 25 K's, GO/AO= 0.91. The Giants have started a pattern of drafting and signing at least 1 HS pitcher down the the draft. Allen was it for 2010 taken in round 18. This was his first extended pro experience. He struggled mightily but gets credit for hanging in there and improving as the season progressed. He put up an ERA of 4.86 over his last 10 appearances. The low walk rate is encouraging and he has age vs level going for him. Needs to get either a swing-and-miss pitch or a good hard sinker going forward. Goal was probably to pitch to contact and keep his walks down in his first extended pro experience.

Kendry Flores 6'2", 175 lbs. BD: 11/24/1991. 4-3, 5.06, 48.0 IP, 14 BB, 47 K's. Flores is still young, is reputed to have great stuff and has consistently put up better peripheral stats than his ERA would suggest. A kid to watch going forward.


Joan Gregorio 6'7", 180 lbs. BD: 1/12/1992. 3-0, 2.32, 50.1 IP, 16 BB, 43 K's. DSL graduate. Love his size. Has had good control for a guy that tall. Improved his K rate from the DSL.

Clayton Blackburn 6'3", 220 lbs. BD: 1/6/1993. 3-1, 1.08, 33.1 IP, 3 BB, 30 K's, GO/AO= 2.58. This year's lower round HS pitching draft pick in round 16. Signed early and impressed just about everybody with an excellent pro debut.

Kyle Crick 6'4", 220 lbs. BD: 11/30/1992. 1-0, 6.43, 7 IP, 8 BB, 8 K's. Supplemental round pick. Reportedly has gotten his FB up to 97 MPH. Pro debut was a mixed bag in a very small sample size. The Giants have a lot riding on him after the Wheeler trade.

This category is pretty much of a wasteland all the way down to short season ball where you start to see some interesting arms but no sure things. I'll try to rank 'em here:

1. Kyle Crick
2. Clayton Blackburn
3. Kendry Flores
4. Joan Gregorio
5. Lorenzo Mendoza
6. Cameron Lamb
7. Reinier Roibal
8. Brandon Allen
9. Justin Fitzgerald
10. Chris Heston
11. Everybody else.

I'm still hopeful that Seth Rosin will turn into at least a 2'nd tier SP prospect with Austin Fleet also possibly leaning more toward starting. The Giants need to concentrate their next draft on pitching as well as their international scouting and signings.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Down on the Farm: Left Handed Starting Pitcher Depth Chart

There isn't as compelling a reason to separate starting pitchers by handedness, but to break up the category into more manageable segments, we'll go ahead and do it anyway. The Giants stable of LH starting pitching prospects has thinned considerably with the graduation of Madison Bumgarner, the release of Clayton Tanner and the trade of Ryan Verdugo. Let's take a look at what's left:


Matt Yourkin Covered in the LH relievers post. He could be an emergency callup option in event of injury but is probably behind Surkamp and Runzler there. Runzler was also covered in the LH reliever post. His role in the Giants organization remains fluid.


Eric Surkamp 6'4", 190 lbs. BD: 7/16/1987. AA 10-4, 2.02, 142.1 IP, 44 BB, 165 K's. MLB 2-2, 5.74, 26.2 IP, 17 BB, 13 K's. Surkamp, once again, put up dominating numbers in the minors averaging well over 1 K/IP. He is reputed to have a dominating curveball and an adequate FB that he can use to set up the curveball. He failed to demonstrate those qualities in a late season callup for the Giants. The FB sat 88-90 and the curveball looked a bit tight and flat to me. He also had serious command issues with all pitches and as a rook didn't get much help from the umps. Whether it was rookie jitters and trying to do too much or whether he was just wearing down at the end of a long season remains to be seen. He will likely start 2012 in Fresno's rotation and be first in line for a callup depending on his results there.


Kelvin Marte 6'0", 180 lbs. BD: 11/24/1987. 12-6, 3.47, 147.2 IP, 47 BB, 84 K's, GO/AO= 1.75. Marte had a solid season for the Little Giants. I saw him pitch while sitting right behind home plate and got a pretty good read on his stuff. I was surprised that his FB sat at 92-93 MPH. The RC Quakes pitch trackers were sitting right behind me and were calling the velocities on each pitch. Marte also displayed a nice crisp breaking ball in the mid 80's and a changeup in the upper 70's that he was able to throw for strikes. Physically, he reminds me a lot of Odalis Perez who used to pitch for the Dodgers. He could have a future as a #4 or #5 starter.


Mike Kickham 6'4", 205 lbs. BD: 12/12/1988. 5-10, 4.11, 111.2 IP, 37 BB, 103 K's, GO/AO= 1.46. Throughout his college and pro career, Kickham has tended to put up better peripheral numbers than ERA's. He's a physically gifted pitcher with an apparent high ceiling. He finished the season strong for Augusta putting up a line of 4-5, 3.25, 55.1 IP, 13 BB, 40 K's, GO/AO= 2.36 over his last 10 games. His ERA as slightly over 2 over his last 6 starts. I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch for San Jose next season.


Edwin Escobar 6'1", 185 lbs. BD: 4/22/1992. Low A 1-3, 18.00, 6 IP, 5 BB, 5 K's. AZL 2-4, 5.09, 46 IP, 17 BB, 42 K's. VWL 0-0, 5.59, 9.2 IP, 5 BB, 4 K's. Escobar pitched decently for the AZL Giants after washing out of Low A. Best thing going for him is he's still quite young.

Paul Davis 6'2", 210 lbs. BD: 1/29/1990. Rookie AZL 0-0, 3.44, 36.2 IP, 11 BB, 27 K's. SS 1-0, 1.64, 11 IP, 3 BB, 9 K's. Drafted out of JC ball, this was his first pro experience which looked somewhat promising.


Adalberto Mejia 6'3", 195 lbs. BD: 6/20/1993. 5-2, 1.42, 76 IP, 8 BB, 71 K's. I know it's the DSL but Mejia is one of the Giants 6 figure bonus babies from the international market and he certainly lived up to that reputation in his pro debut. He was putting up downright unbelieveable numbers before allowing 6 of his 12 ER and 3 of his 8 BB's in his last 2 starts. I've seen his name on the Giants Instructional League roster, so expect to see him pitching in the States in 2012, most likely the AZL.

Emmanuel De Jesus 6'0", 175 lbs. BD: 1/6/1994. 4-2, 1.74, 46.2 IP, 20 BB, 59 K's. De Jesus was the other LHP who created a buzz down in the DSL. He struggled in 2 bullpen appearances but then put up crazy numbers in 8 starts allowing just 3 ER in 43 IP with 12 BB, and 56 K's. That's all I know about him but the numbers are sure exciting.


Josh Osich 6'3", 225 lbs. BD: 9/3/1988. OSU 6-4, 3.64, 76.2 IP, 34 BB, 79 K's. Osich was a redshirt junior for Oregon State coming off TJ surgery. He was not allowed to throw breaking balls until late in the season, so worked exclusively off a FB that sat at 93-94 MPH peaking at 97 as well as an excellent changeup. His stock peaked when he pitched a CG no-hitter against UCLA and was talked about as a possible first round pick by the Giants who were reported to be scouting him heavily. His velocity an stock dropped off at that end of the season and there were questions about his medical status. I read one report that the Giants received their final medical report after the draft had started! They ended up grabbing him in round 6. If he's healthy, that should be one of steals of the draft.

Here's how I rank 'em:

1. Eric Surkamp
2. Mike Kickham
3. Adalberto Mejia
4. Josh Osich(might have been #1 if proven healthy and if he had pitched in the pros)
5. Emmanuel De Jesus
6. Kelvin Marte
7. Paul Davis
8. Edwin Escobar
9. Matt Yourkin

Not a long list, but some interesting prospects. I toyed with ranking Mejia #1, but probably should see what he does in the States first.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Down on the Farm: Right Handed Relief Pitcher Depth Chart

Right handed relievers generally include potential closers. While being lefthanded doesn't preclude a pitcher from being a closer, the vast majority of closers are RH. There may be several reasons for this: 1. LHP with closer velocity are scarce enough that if teams have one or two, they usually make them starters. 2. Managers might prefer to use the few LH relievers at their disposal in more high leverage situations against specific LH batters earlier in the game than against whatever comes up in the 9'th inning. 3. That's just the way it's always been done.

The thing about closers is once they are established, they often become overvalued. I don't subscribe to the notion that closers are fungible assets, but the established ones are generally overvalued. There are several closers on the FA market this offseason and they are still looking for top dollar. There's a note in today's MLB Trade Rumors about Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous being "shocked" at the demands of closers on the market, more so in length of contract than years salary. It seems they are all looking for 4-5 years deals. With the number of closers on the market, those demands may eventually come down, but it's still sobering.

Now, I don't know about you, but the thought of a 5 year/$60 M contract for Brian Wilson makes me long for the days of The Gamer and his contract. There is just no way that risking that much money for that long on Brian Wilson is a good idea. The corollary to that is the Giants better have a plan for who will take over when they have to either trade him or let him go.

In addition to the closer concerns, bullpen depth has become almost a prerequisite for winning a championship, thus inflating the market for relievers of all kinds. The later rounds of the draft and the farm system are relatively inexpensive ways of mitigating these costs. Let's take a look at how the Giants organization stacks up for the future of the bullpen:


Waldis Joaquin 6'0", 240 lbs. BD: 12/25/1986. AAA 2-2, 3.44, 49.2 IP, 23 BB, 27 K's, GO/AO= 1.49. MLB 1-0, 4.26, 6.1 IP, 3 BB, 3 K's, GO/AO- 2.75. Joaquin has been around seemingly forever, and he has yet to turn 25 yo. At one point, he was DFA'd by the Giants and claimed by the White Sox. He refused to sign with them and re-signed with the Giants as a minor league FA(I didn't even know a player could do that!) He was then reinstated to the 40 man roster and called up in September. He is basically a one pitch pitcher, but what a pitch! It's a 93-94 MPH 2 seam fastball with heavy, heavy sink that bores in on RH batters. It should be noted that his minor league splits had a 2.22 ERA with a 2.59 GO/AO against RH batters and a 5.06 ERA with a 1.21 GO/AO vs LH batters. I wouldn't be heartbroken if he took a bullpen slot away from Ramon Ramirez or Guillermo Mota. It should be noted that Fresno plays in a lot of high altitude stadiums were sinkers don't sink.

Steve Edlefsen 6'2", 195 lbs. BD: 6/27/1985. AAA 2-4, 5.66, 41.1 IP, 19 BB, 29 K, GO/AO= 1.96. MLB 0-0, 9.53, 11.1 IP, 10 BB, 6 K's. GO/AO= 4.20. Another guy with a diving 2 seamer. It has so much movement, it's very tough to control which was his undoing in the majors. Also had much more success against RH batters in the minors. Probably deserves at least one more chance at some point. Will definitely start the season in Fresno.

Dan Otero 6'3", 205 lbs. BD: 2/19/1985. AA/AAA 4-4, 2.31, 74 IP, 11 BB, 76 K's, GO/AO= 1.47, 13 Saves. Otero has worked his way up the ladder and deserves a shot soon. His numbers are reminiscent of Sergio Romo's with the great command/control but a slightly lower K rate. Still, the K/9>9 which is impressive for AAA. I've never seen a scouting report on Otero nor seen him pitch so I don't have a feel for how hittable he would be in the majors. Gotta like his minor league numbers though.

Scott Munter, Ronnie Ray, Casey Daigle, and Osiris Matos are all minor league FA's. I assume Marc Kroon will retire.


Heath Hembree 6'4", 210 lbs. BD: 1/13/1989. High A 0-0, 0.73, 24.2 IP, 12 BB, 44 K's, 21 Saves. AA 1-1, 2.83, 28.2 IP, 13 BB, 34 K's, 17 Saves. After being drafted and blowing away rookie ball in 2010, Hembree rocketed up the Giants prospect rankings with a sensational 2011 campaign split between San Jose and Richmond. He was used exclusively as a closer averaging just under 1 IP/appearance. I saw him pitch early in the season and he has a truly impressive jumping fastball that sat at 96 MPH. My concern is that he doesn't seem to have any secondary stuff to speak of and pitching in the closer role does not give him an opportunity to develop it. He certainly has the heat to be a future closer though.

Hector Correa 6'3", 165 lbs. BD: 3/18/1988. High A 3-1, 1.93, 42 IP, 12 BB, 37 K. AA 4-1, 3.20, 39.1 IP, 12 BB, 32 K. Correa as acquired from Florida in the Ronny Paulino trade in 2009. He's worked his way up the ladder since then putting up decent ratios along the way. Future bullpen depth guy, but those are becoming more and more valuable.

Edwin Quirarte 6'2", 185 lbs. BD: 12/20/1986. High A 2-1, 12.2 IP, 1 BB, 14 K's. AA 1-2, 5.44, 46.1 IP, 20 BB, 38 K's. GO/AO= 2.06. Quirarte was a 5'th round draft choice in 2008 out of Cal State Northridge. You would hope that a college reliever drafted that high would progress more rapidly through the system and show more dominance.

Mitch Lively 6'5", 230 lbs. BD: 9/7/1985. High A/AA 3-7, 2.14, 71.1 IP, 27 BB, 71 K's. Drafted by Colorado in 2007 and dropped after his first pro experience that same year. The Giants picked him up in 2008 and he has been moving slowly up the system since then with pretty good numbers. Probably an organizaitonal player, but could sniff the back end of a MLB bullpen at some point.


Jake Dunning 6'4", 188 lbs. BD: 8/12/1988. 6-3, 4.74, 76 IP, 24 BB, 71 K, GO/AO= 1.47, 10 Saves. College SS converted to pitching. Tall slender build with very loose looking arm action. I saw him pitch a couple of times this year and was impressed. FB goes 93-95 MPH with the makings of a breaking ball and changeup. Started 7 games and didn't fare too well(wow! I didn't remember him starting at all!) Moved to the closer role after Hembree and Lively got promoted. Potential 8'th inning guy at least. Outside chance of moving back to starter at some point.

Jacob Dunnington 6'2", 160 lbs. BD: 2/2/1991. Low A 3-3, 3.77, 43 IP, 32 BB, 53 K's. High A 2-1, 2.82, 22.1 IP, 10 BB, 31 K's. Dunnington was signed as an undrafted FA out of HS, a very rare occurence. Somehow he just slipped through the draft unnoticed. This was his first full season as a pro. All of his appearances have been as a reliever where he has put up very interesting K ratios. I think he may convert to starting at some point. Looks like the Giants found a diamond in the rough!

Stephen Harrold 6'1", 200 lbs. BD: 3/12/1989. Low A 4-3, 1.54, 41 IP, 17 BB, 39 K, GO/AO= 1.73, 16 Saves. High A 1-0, 23 IP, 13 BB, 24 K. AFL 3-0, 1.88, 14.1 IP, 5 BB, 15 K's, GO/AO= 3.17. Harrold started out as the closer in Augusta, got a promo to SJ and struggled a bit. Has pitched extremely well in the AFL. Not sure what to make of him at this point, but he seems to be moving up the ladder quite smartly.

Chris Wilson 6'2", 205 lbs. BD: 11/27/1986. 0-1, 2.35, 15.1 IP, 6 BB, 15 K's. Wilson was drafted in the 38'th round in 2008. He started out on the closer track. Seems to have battled injuries the last two years, but has pitched well when able. A bit old but still moving up if he can stay healthy.

Jose Valdez 6'7", 250 lbs. BD: 8/1/1988. High A 1-0, 6.98, 38.2 IP, 34 BB, 44 K's. Low A 0-0, 0.00, 13.2 IP, 2 BB, 21 K's. My perennial breakout candidate started the year strong but then hit a wall and got crushed for several games. Missed some time and resurfaced in Augusta where he seemed fine. Not sure if the collapse was due to an injury or stress or what. He's been around long enough that he should be moving into Rule 5 and minor league FA territory soon. Future is a bit murky at this point, but my, what a physical presence on the mound!

Addison Proszek 6'5", 260 lbs. BD: 4/17/1987. Rookie AZL 1-0, 2.05, 22 IP, 3 BB, 21 K. High A 0-1, 6.75, 9.1 IP, 5 BB, 9 K's. Huge guy drafted in 2009. Has had trouble getting his pro career off the ground. I saw him near the end of the season with San Jose. He looked like he was throwing good but got knocked around. Might have a tough time finding opportunities to pitch as the Giants reload their system.


Brett Bochy 6'2", 192 lbs. BD: 8/27/1987. 1-0, 1.38, 39.0, 8 BB, 53 K's, 10 Saves. Melonhead Jr. entered his junior season at Kansas as the closer, but suffered a torn UCL with subsequent TJ surgery at the start of the season. Scouting reports I've read have him with a 94 MPH fastball. He put up dominating K and BB rates in his pro debut for Augusta and could be a fast mover in the system.

Edward Concepcion 6'3", 190 lbs. BD: 10/3/1988. 1-1, 3.61, 52.1 IP, 36 BB, 62 K, GO/AO= 1.50. Concepcion has a high 90's heater, but has trouble making it go where he wants it to. He had better luck working exclusively out of the bullpen in Augusta. He's a high ceiling arm but a risk to not reach his ceiling due to the command/control issues.

Seth Rosin 6'5", 235 lbs. BD: 11/2/1988. 2-3, 3.34, 89.0 IP, 30 BB, 93 K's, GO/AO= 1.41. AFL 0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 4 BB, 9 K's. Rosin was used as both a starter and reliever and put up solid numbers. He seemed to have a bit more success out of the bullpen. Personally, I see him as a workhorse starter who will pound the zone and eat innings. I hope the Giants give him more chances to start.

Austin Fleet 6'1", 175 lbs. BD: 4/17/1987. 3 levels 9-5, 3.87, 83.2 IP, 27 BB, 57 K's. AFL 2-1, 3.38, 16 IP, 3 BB, 14 K's. Fleet was a college closer who the Giants used as a starter after he was drafted in 2010. He started and relieved in 2011 so it's not clear what role he will take on in the future. Ceiling is probably a #4 or 5 starter or middle reliever.

Drew Bowlin 6'1", 190 lbs. BD: 12/28/1986. Low A 2-0, 3.66, 51.2 IP, 26 BB, 33 K's, 3 Saves. AA 0-0, 2.84, 6.1 IP, 4 BB, 4 K's. Older prospect for level with unimpressive K and BB ratios.

Matthew Graham 6'4", 225 lbs. BD: 5/1/1990. Low A 0-0, 5.32, 22 IP, 18 BB, 10 K, GO/AO= 3.00. SS 2-2, 8.35, 36.2 IP, 22 BB, 31 K, GO/AO= 1.44. Drafted as a project out of HS in 2009, Graham has struggled to establish himself in the pros. He's got a hard sinking fastball that he needs to command better and then add a secondary pitch or two to get more swings and misses. He's still fairly young. I hope the Giants are patient with him. Too early to tell if his future is in the bullpen or rotation, Needs to have some sustained success first.


Stephen Shackleford 6'1", 185 lbs. BD: 5/5/1989. 2-2, 5.21, 46.2 IP, 19 BB, 41 K. Shack had interesting numbers in 2010 after being drafted. More pedestrian in 2011.

Brennan Flick 6'1", 180 lbs. BD: 9/12/1989. 2-3, 5.57, 32.1 IP, 16 BB, 30 K's, GO/AO= 3.71. Extreme groundball numbers may mitigate pedestrian K/BB ratios.

Cody Hall 6'4", 220 lbs. BD: 1/6/1988. 3-1, 2.63, 27.1 IP, 19 BB, 42 K's, 4 Saves. 19'th round draft pick. Strong K numbers, but a pretty high walk rate to go with it. Looks like another live arm for the Giants to try to harness.


Miguel Ferrer 6'3", 168 lbs. BD: 8/7/1990. 6-1, 1.53, 29.1 IP, 7 BB, 36 K's, GO/AO= 1.48. Nice numbers after moving up from the DSL.

Demondre Arnold 6'3", 208 lbs. BD: 3/18/1992. 1-0, 1.69, 26.2 IP, 8 BB, 32 K's, GO/AO= 1.47. I very optimistic that the Giants have found a steal deep in the draft here. Solidly build with a fluid looking arm. Not sure he gets it up much above 90 MPH though.

Ryan Bean 6'4", 225 lbs. BD: 3/9/1990. 2-1, 4.15, 21.2 IP, 15 BB, 28 K's. Great size. Looks like he has stuff. Needs to cut down on the walks.

Danny Sandbrink 6'2", 195 lbs BD: 6/23/1989. 1-0, 2.53, 21.1 IP, 3 BB, 21 K's, GO/AO= 1.92. Drafted out of Stanford. AZL is too low a level for him.

Derek Law 6'3", 218 lbs. BD: 9/14/1990. 0-0, 2.50, 18 IP, 2 BB, 19 K's, 4 Saves. JC draftee with nice numbers in his pro debut.

Christopher Marlowe 6'0", 175 lbs. BD: 10/26/1989. 1-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 1 BB, 5 K's. Strikeout artist from a small college. One of 5 Giants draftees who have hit 97 on the radar gun. Has a plus breaking ball as a put away pitch. Could rise rapidly as a reliever or be converted to starting.

Dashenko Ricardo 6'0", 160 lbs. BD; 3/1/1990. 1-0, 9.00, 3 IP, 0 BB, 6 K's. Former catcher who the Giants picked up in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft and converted to pitching. Reportedly has a big time arm.


Ray Black 6'5", 225 lbs. BD: 6/26/1990. Pitt 1-1, 6.30, 20 IP, 26 BB, 33 K's. Black is a big guy with a big fastball that reaches 97 MPH. 26 BB's in 20 IP? Yikes! Tidrow has his work cut out for him!

OK, here's an attempt to rank 'em:

1. Heath Hembree
2. Brett Bochy
3. Jake Dunning
4. Chris Marlowe
5. Seth Rosin*
6. Jacob Dunnington*
7. Hector Correa
8. Stephen Harrold
9. Austin Fleet*
10. Edward Concepcion
11. Ray Black
12. Demondre Arnold.
13. Dan Otero
14. Waldis Joaquin
15. Jose Valdez
16. Derek Law
17. Cody Hall
18. Miguel Ferrer
19. Steve Edlefsen
20. Chris Wilson
21. Dashenko Ricardo
22. Danny Sandbrink.
23 The Rest.

*Pitchers who I think are likely to be tried as starters again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Down on the Farm: Left Handed Relief Pitcher Depth Chart

I think there are some truths becoming increasingly evident on the MLB scene: 1. Strong bullpens are essential to winning championships. 2. Strong bullpens need at least 1 LHP. 2 LHP's are better. 3. Good LHRP's are relatively scarce. By corollary, they are also getting more expensive.

One way for MLB teams to save an easy $5-10 M is to maintain a stream of LHRP's coming up through the minors to replace veterans who are making $4-5 M/yr. Given the paucity of good options at the MLB level, it should be relatively easy to develop replacement level talent or better through the draft and farm system. Let's take a look at what the Giants have brewing Down on the Farm:


Dan Runzler 6'4", 235 lbs. BD: 3/30/1985. AAA 2-3, 3.98, 52 IP, 32 BB, 59 K's, GO/AO= 1.47. MLB 1-2, 6.26, 27.1 IP, 16 BB, 25 K's, GO/AO= 1.38. Runzler is technically not a prospect even though he will likely start the season in Fresno. He has the stuff to be a shut down closer, dominant setup man or even a dominant starter. His big problem is command/control. The Giants are still tinkering with making him a starter, although that effort flagged about midseason after a half-hearted trial. He did get one start at the MLB level that ended badly. In one memorable AB early in the season, Runzler abused a red hot Carlos Gonzalez so badly it put CarGo into a 2 month slump! At other times, Dan the Man couldn't find home plate to save his life. His splits seem to indicate that he actually does better against RH batters. With Lopez and Affeldt signed for 2012, I'd like to see the Giants put Runzler in the rotation in Fresno and just leave him there for the season. I think it's easier to move back to reliever than to starter.


Jason Stevenson 6'1", 175 lbs. BD: 8/8/1981. AA 1-0, 1.29, 7 IP, 2 BB, 7 K's. AAA 1-0, 5.56, 11.1 IP, 5 BB, 9 K's. If this guy ever makes it to the majors, his story will rival Ryan Vogelsong's. Signed by the Giants out of indy ball last year after he was out of professional baseball for several years, he had some good and bad outings in a very small sample size, too small to get a read on splits.

Wilmin Rodriguez 6'2", 220 lbs. BD: 5/13/1985. AA 4-3, 3.77, 57.1 IP, 23 BB, 38 K's. AAA 0-0, 9.00, 7 IP, 6 BB, 5 K's. Wilmin has been around seemingly forever in the lower levels of the organization. I saw him pitch in 2010 for San Jose. He's a big LHP who can get the heater up to 93 MPH. K/BB ratios are much better against LH batters. He just re-upped as a minor league FA with the Giants and got a spring training invite in the process. He's getting old but still has left specialist potential.

Matt Yourkin 6'3", 240 lbs. BD: 7/4/1981. 10-8, 4.69, 167 IP, 56 BB, 145 K. Yourkin has been a starter for Fresno the last 2 years with decent results, but not enough to project him as a MLB starter. Look at his split against LH batters though: 3.09 ERA, 46.2 IP, 8 BB, 47 K's! He's a left specialist!


David Quinowski 5'10", 170 lbs. BD: 4/23/1986. 4-3, 3.64, 54.1 IP, 19 BB, 39 K's. Drafted in the 46'th round in 2004 and signed as as draft and follow in 2005. Moved smartly through the lower minors despite his relatively small size. Had TJ and missed 2008 and essentially started over in 2009. His ceiling at this point is probably as a lefty reliever specialist.


Ari Ronick 6'4", 205 lbs. BD: 3/25/1986. 3-1, 3.56, 60.2 IP, 36 BB, 54 K's. First season back after TJ. Pitched in relief for SJ. No discernable L-R split.

Tom Vessella 6'6", 205 lbs. BD: 10/12/1985. 4 levels 4-6, 5.50, 72 IP, 45 BB, 50 K's. Picked up by the Giants after he was dropped by the Astros system. Was worse against LH hitters in a very small sample. Tough to project any kind of MLB career for him at this point.


Gaspar Santiago 6'0", 200 lbs. BD: 9/23/1989. 3-7, 94.2 IP, 53 BB, 88 K's. Swing man for Augusta. Worse against LH batters in a very small sample.

Ryan Bradley 6'1", 180 lbs. BD: 7/15/1988. 4-2, 4.31, 79.1 IP, 32 BB, 48 K's. 30'th round pick in 2010. Another swing guy for Augusta. Numbers unimpressive. Son of Giants minor league pitching coordinator Bert Bradley.


Jack Snodgrass 6'6", 216 lbs. BD: 12/10/1987. 4-1, 3.59, 47.2 IP, 14 BB, 44 K's, GO/AO= 2.77. Nice numbers for his pro debut. Started 4 games and was better as a starter so we'll see how he develops.

Phil McCormick 6'1", 184 lbs. BD: 9/7/1988. 1-1, 1.19, 30.1 IP, 11 BB, 29 K's, GO/AO= 3.43, 6 Saves. Another excellent pro debut. Used exclusively as a reliever and even as a closer.

Chris Gloor 6'6", 255 lbs. BD: 3/7/1987. 3 levels 3-1, 3.34, 29.2 IP, 11 BB, 36 K's. Sleeper alert! Huge LHP, drafted in 2009, missed part of 2011 apparently due to injury. If he's healthy, I could see him rising quickly through the system. Could dominate as a lefty relief specialist.

Aaron King 6'4", 205 lbs. BD: 4/27/1989. 3 levels 0-2, 6.62, 35.1 IP, 36 BB, 36 K's. Physically gifted LHP who has battled control demons. Did not seem to make progress with those in 2011. Still has some time to work them out.


Brian Maloney 6'0", 176 lbs. BD: 10/4/1988. 1-0, 3.55, 12.2 IP, 5 BB, 21 K's. SS 0-1, 18.00, 5 IP, 11 BB, 7 K's. Small college LHP made a nice debut in rookie ball, but struggled after a late season promo to S-K.

Steven Neff 6'2", 195 lbs. BD: 2/24/1989. 0-0, 29.25, 4 IP, 1 BB, 6 K's. Nice ratios but got pounded in a very small sample size. Managed to record 1 Save.


Franklin Noel 6'1", 175 lbs. BD: 12/20/1988. 2-5, 3.51, 33.1 IP, 14 BB, 37 K's, GO/AO= 2.15, 16 Saves. Noel was the closer for the DSL Giants but 22 is extremely old for the level. Probably not a prospect even to be a lefty specialist.

Ebert Fernandez 6'3", 192 lbs. BD: 10/28/1990. 5-3, 4.17, 49.2 IP, 23 BB, 36 K, GO/AO= 2.80. 4'th season in the DSL which does not bode well.


Bryce Bandilla 6'4", 237 lbs. BD: 1/16/1990. Arizona(college) 5-2, 3.66, 46.2 IP, 36 BB, 48 K's. Big brute of a LHP who has clocked 97 MPH with the fastball. Has a good change up to go with it, but essentially no breaking ball. Had control issues his junior season in college. The Giants drafted him for his arm in the 4'th round and may try to convert him to starting. Could advance more quickly as a reliever but has to command the strike zone. Might have trouble against left batters if he doesn't develop a breaking ball.

Mitchell Beacom 6'8", 260 lbs. BD: 7/4/1989. 0-2, 2.20, 32.2 IP, 9 BB, 38 K's. Huge sidewinding lefty who could be the quintessential left specialist. That's how he was used in college and what he projects as in the pros. Can't wait to see this guy pitch in person!

Geno Espinelli, Alex Hinshaw, Chuck Lofgren and Justin Dowdy are all minor league FA's this year. BTW, for a complete sortable list of minor league FA's, check out Baseball America.

Not an illustrious bunch, but here's how I would rank 'em as prospects(leaving out Runzler):

1. Bryce Bandilla
2. Chris Gloor
3. Jack Snodgrass
4. Phil McCormick
5. Mitchell Beacom
6. Aaron King
7. Wilmin Rodriguez
8. David Quinowski
9. Ari Ronick
10. Gaspar Santiago
11. The Rest.

4 of the top 5 came aboard in the last draft. We'll see if they flame out or if the Giants are putting more emphasis on trying to find lefty specialists in the draft.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Down on the Farm: Catcher Depth Chart

With the prospects for Buster Posey making it back as the starting catcher for the San Francisco Giants, the urgency to find an alternative has faded, but the memory of Buster going down with that awful injury is a reminder that starting catchers often don't have long careers. It's one of the more scarce positions in baseball, so it is a good idea to have a solid pipeline of catching talent coming up through the system at all times. In that regard, the Giants are as well stocked at catcher in their organization as any team in baseball.

Yesterday seemed to be open season for snarky comments about the Giants farm system over on Fangraphs. One such comment noted the presence of 3 "backup" catchers in the Giants top 15 prospects. It wasn't clear if this was a commentary on the talent of the prospects or on the presence of Buster Posey having a stranglehold on the starting catcher position for the forseeable future. In either case, it was wildly off base. Let's take a look at the Giants stockpile of young catching talent:


Hector Sanchez 5'11", 235 lbs. B-S, T-R. BD: 11/17/1989. High A .302/.338/.533, 11 HR in 212 AB. AAA .261/.315/.340 in 153 AB. MLB .258/.324/.323 in 31 AB. Hector Sanchez has been a favorite sleeper prospect to Giants prospect watchers for a long time. He was enjoying a fine season in San Jose when his stock suddenly skyrocketed when the Giants started desperately looking for someone to step in after Buster's injury. Hector was rushed, first to Fresno, then to SF. As sometimes happens in Giantsland, he mostly sat on the bench after all that frantic activity and was later sent back down to San Jose only to be called back when rosters expanded in September. He did manage to put together some impressive AB's for the Giants and handled himself in a very mature fashion through all the ups and downs. He's currently hitting .412 in Venezuela. Don't get kidnapped, Hector! He will probably start 2012 in either Richmond or Fresno. Good switch-hitting catchers are extremely valuable commodities. I think Hector is likely to be a starting catcher in the majors someday, probably soon. Whether it will be with the Giants remains to be seen.

Jackson Williams 5'11", 205 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 5/14/1986. AA/AAA .191/.288/.287. Williams was a controversial supplemental round pick in the 2007 draft. He's touted to be a superior defensive catcher, but the bat has never come around.


Johnny Monell 5'11", 205 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 3/27/2986. .249/.334/.394, 10 HR in 386 AB. Between Hector Sanchez' wild ride and Tommy Josephs's breakout, Johnny Monell was practically forgotten last year. Those are not great numbers, but they are also not terrible for the Eastern League. I think he did well enough to deserve a promotion to Fresno where I wouldn't be shocked to see much more offensive production. Catchers who can hit lefthanded are valuable commodities. I think Monell has a minimum future as a long time backup catcher in the majors, possibly more.


Tommy Joseph 6'1", 220 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 7/16/1991. .270/.317/.471, 33 2B, 22 HR in 514 AB. Tommy Joseph has always had "light tower power." The question was how often it would get displayed as he struggled to make contact. Tommy took a big step forward in the second half last season hitting .301 after the Cal League All-Star break. His BA's the last 3 full months of the season were .297, .299, .299. He also made great strides in his catching defense and was rated the top defensive catcher in the Cal League by BA at the end of the season. He was the second youngest player in the Cal League to boot. He should move up to AA where he will face a stiff test of his hitting skills. He's young enough that he can easily afford to repeat a level on his way up though.

Alex Burg 6'0", 190 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 8/9/1987. .298/.369/.550 with 24 2B, 14 HR in 262 AB. Here's my sleeper of sleepers! Burg played 3 or 4 positions for San Jose, including catcher, after a mid-season placement from extended spring training and just tore the Cal League up. He was drafted as a catcher out of Washington State in 2010 and hit .245/.331/.443 in 3 stops that year showing good excellent Iso's, so I'm inclined to believe his Cal League numbers are not a fluke. Should move up to AA and continue his utility role. Do you realize how valuable a utility bat like that who can play catcher is to a baseball team? Oh man, watch this kid!


Jeff Arnold 6'2", 205 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 1/13/1988. .213/.293/.340, 6 HR. Don't have a scouting report on his D but it would have to be very good to overcome a batting line like that, especially in this organization.


Mike Murray 5'11", 205 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 4/24/1988. .326/.394/.459, 6 HR. Signed as an undrafted FA in 2010, he essentially repeated the level after hitting .319 last year for reasons that are unclear. Maybe defense? Maybe just too crowded at higher levels? He shared catching duties with 2 other guys we will list and a lot of his AB's were as a DH. Nothing wrong with the bat that I can see.

Dan Burkhart 5'11", 215 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 3/6/1989. SS .285/.329/.438, 4 HR in 144 AB. Low A .217/.265/.261 in 46 AB. 10th round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2010. Also essentially repeating the level after hitting .328 last year. Is there room for all these guys?

Joe Staley 6'1", 235 lbs. B-S, T-R. BD: 5/8/1989. .280/.383/.490, 8 HR in 157 AB. 8'th round pick in 2010, played AZL last year. Bat looks promising. Again, where do all these guys fit?


Eric Sim 6'2", 215 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 1/3/1989. .352/.438/.586, 6 HR, 5 SB in 145 AB. Got in a few games in 2010 hitting just .108. Raked this year but at a much too low a level.

Myles Schroder 5'11", 180 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 8/1/1987. .282/.308/.445. Given the birthdate, you have to think he's pretty much an organizational player.

Gabriel Cornier 6'0", 190 lbs. B-S, T-R. BD: 6/10/1992. .130/.259/.261, 1 HR in 23 AB. DSL graduate. Obviously didn't get much of a look.


Luis Vasquez 5'10", 170 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 3/20/1991. .262/.349/.303. Hit .325 over his last 10 games. Old for the DSL.

Fernando Pujadas 6'1", 179 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 1/2/1992. .256/.316/.400, 3 HR in 90 AB. Showed a bit of power. 19 is still pretty old for the DSL.


Andrew Susac 6'1", 205 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 3/22/1990. Oregon State .298/.429/.525, 5 HR. Susac had his season interrupted by a hamate fracture in his left hand. He returned to finish the season, but hard to tell how much it might have affected his game. BA rated him as having the best power bat in the Giants draft, although he did not hit a lot of HR's in college with just 2 in 2010. Rated a late first round talent by most analysts, the Giants grabbed him in round 2 when he fell to them. I expect him to be the starting catcher for San Jose, although Arnold and one or more of the S-K guys could land there with Susac starting in Augusta.

Drew Stiner 6'2", 210 lbs. He was Dylan Bundy's catcher in HS. Scouting reports say he's an excellent defensive catcher but lots of questions about his bat. Reportedly has a pull happy approach.

The Giants are well stocked at the catcher position, possibly more than any other organization. Here's how I would rank them as prospects(this is a tough one!):

1. Tommy Joseph
2. Hector Sanchez
3. Andrew Susac
4. Johnny Monell
5. Alex Burg
6. Joe Staley
7. Mike Murray
8. Dan Burkhart
9. Eric Sim
10. Drew Stiner
11. Jeff Arnold.
12. The rest

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hot Stove Update: Giants Trade Sanchez For Melky!

The Giants officially gave up on Jonathan Sanchez yesterday, something that probably happened in reality sometime around mid-season 2011. In the process, they were able to fill a need in CF that likely would have cost a lot more had they gone the free agent route. Ryan Verdugo was a throw-in and probably will ultimately prove to be a non-factor in the trade. Let's break it down:

You might recall that I listed The Melkman as a possible solution in CF back in my post on Scouting the Centerfielders. Here's what I had to say about him: "The Melkman had a pretty darn good season for KC. They have Lorenzo Cain waiting in the wings and may be looking to sell high on Melky. He has one more year of arbitration and will get a nice raise from the $1.2 M he made last year, but it will probably not be a huge amount and it's a short term commitment. The price in prospects could be steep though."

"The price in prospects could be steep"! The Giants were able to land Melky for a player who has underachieved and is getting expensive, a much better deal than if they had to give up a couple of Top 10 organizational prospects. To me, the deal is a winner right there. The only serious alternative for CF on the FA market was Coco Crisp. I'm a Coco fan, but the guy is a huge injury risk and would have required a minimum of a 2 year deal for more money per season. The option of letting Sanchez walk and using the money to sign Crisp was not as good. Maybe BJ Upton might have had better upside, but Upton has been an underachiever himself and would have cost a lot more in trade. The option of going into the season with Andres Torres as the CF starter was not an option in the Giants minds nor mine.

The trade leaves the Giants with tons of flexibility. I think it puts them in slightly better position to sign Beltran both in terms of payroll and Beltran's request that the upgrade the offense in other areas. If they fail to sign Beltran, they can still go after another LF or they could even get another CF and move Melky over to LF.

If you are looking for an in-depth discussion on regression, BABIP, and who won or lost this trade, I would suggest going to Fangraphs and reading several articles there about it. Bottom line: Both Melky and Sanchez have had their ups and downs. They are both capable of bigger and better things and are both capable of turning into pumpkins. In both cases, their success or failure going forward will depend more on attitude and conditioning than BABIP's and Regressions. To me, it's an even trade that does a nice job of addressing several major problems for the Giants. I'll take it.

I've liked Melky since he was coming along with the Yankees. I always though he was on the verge of a breakout, but the Yanks always blocked him with the parade of veteran OF's they brought in. Melky was a similar tool and skill set to Bernie Williams and I would think Bernie would be a pretty tough act to follow in NY. It's likely that Melky will never live up to his early promise, but he's 27 and coming off the best season of his career in a park that is at least as tough to hit in as AT&T. If he keeps his word about staying in shape, he could be a big addition. At his age, I wouldn't be upset if the Giants used his last year of arbitration eligibility to leverage a team favorable 2-3 year deal. At worst, he would still be tradeable under that.

I'm bit sad to see Jonathan Sanchez go. I think I'm the first guy who noticed him as a promising prospect way back when Dobbsie and I were holding down the Prospect Thread on the Giants Message Board. I wrote a post about his performance in Winter ball that Dobbsie forwarded to someone he knew at BA. Shortly therafter, BA had a short blurb about him on their site. So, I've always been partial to J Sanchez.

Last year could not have been more disappointing. He was poised for a breakout season and basically threw it away. It wasn't just the poor performance. He appeared to be out of shape. He had some of the worst body language I've ever seen a pitcher have out on the mound. Any little thing that went wrong he'd get flushed in the face, stare out at nothing, walk around the mound. He often looked like that was the last place in the world he wanted to be. Baggs has come out with some anecdotes that suggest attitude had become a serious problem. At one point Sanchez was asked if he was concerned about losing his place in the rotation. He replied "I'm the #2 pitcher, I'm not worried" as if pitching on day 2 of the season made him the Giants second best pitcher! Come on, Sanchez! It was just to keep Timmy and Cainer from going back-to-back! After he went on the DL, he said he felt unappreciated by the organization and would probably be out until September. That comment got the Giants brass upset enough to talk to him about it. Earlier in the spring, Baggs asked Sanchez if cutting down on walks was a goal for the season. Sanchez responded by saying it wasn't and he didn't think he needed to change anything.

Maybe a change of scenery will be good for Jonathan and he'll win the Cy Young Award his stuff let's him be capable of. I wouldn't bet on it though. If he was unhappy in SF, I'm not sure how he's going to find it in a place like KC. Then again, Melky got his ship righted there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Down on the Farm: First Base Depth Chart

First base for the Giants has been a revolving door of reclamation projects since JT Snow retired. Aubrey Huff is the current incumbent first baseman. Despite a lot of anger at his wretched performance in 2011 when he was quite obviously out of shape and out of sorts, he will almost certainly be the starting first baseman on opening say 2012. How long he stays there probably depends on his apparent conditioning and performance. He will likely not be with the Giants in 2013. Brandon Belt is the heir apparent to JT's old position. The questions about Belt are whether he will be the starting LF in 2012 or start the year in AAA, and whether he will take over at first base sometime in mid-season or in 2013. Of course, Brett Pill might sneak in and have something to say about all that. Belt has too many MLB AB's to qualify as a prospect, but he is not an established MLB player either. Let's take a look at who might challenge Brandon down the road:


Brett Pill 6'4", 210 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 9/9/1984. AAA .312/.341/.530, 36 2B, 25 HR. MLB .300/.321/.560, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR in 50 AB. Pill has taken his time climbing through the organization. He's always been a doubles machine, but found his HR stroke in 2011. Impressed almost everybody including Brian Sabean with a major league approach at the plate in a September look-see. He's an excellent fielder to boot and even played some 2B for Fresno in a pinch. Did he put himself into position to challenge for the starting first base gig in SF should Aubrey Huff falter again?


Luke Anders 6'6", 225 lbs. B-L, T-L. BD: 10/2/1986. .246/.326/.423, 24 2B, 13 HR. Unimpressive performance for the big guy in San Jose. Probably an organizational player. Will probably get a chance to show something in Richmond just because there isn't anyone else to play the position there!


Josh Mazzola 6'2", 195 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 4/10/1986. .259/.342/.427, 22 2B, 13 HR. Mazzola was signed as an undrafted FA in 2008. He missed almost all of 2010 with an injury. Probably an organizational player at this point.

Ryan Scoma 6'2", 180 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 9/12/1987. .254/.310/.358, 26 2B, 6 HR. Scoma showed some doubles power but will have to hit more to be a 1B prospect, although Pill had similar struggles in the low minors.


Brice Cutspec 6'4", 250 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 12/7/1987. .240/.286/.479, 6 HR in 96 AB's. Cutspec was signed as an undrafted FA in 2010. Put up good numbers in the AZL. Showed a bit of power at the higher level, but not much else. Last game was 7/29. Injury? Lost his job to Ben Thomas?

Ben Thomas 6'1", 240 lbs. B-L, T-L. BD: 6/3/1989. AZL .346/.380/.569, 9 2B, 6 HR in 130 AB. S-K .302/.340/.417 in 96 AB. Wide body late round college draftee. Batting line for Xavier was .350/.435/.632 with 15 HR's. Seems to be be a hitter and John Barr seems to know hitters when he sees them. Will have to prove it at higher levels.


Brian Nicholson 6'2", 225 lbs. B-L, T-L. BD: 10/31/1989. .274/.336/.402 in 117 AB. Another late round college draftee out of NAIA Concordia in SoCal. Modest start to pro career and was old for the league.


Alexis Almeida 6'3", 215 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 2/16/1993. .248/.267/.288. Don't know anything about this kid but he's got the size to play 1B and he's not too old for the level. That's enough for me to include him.


Ricky Oropesa 6'3", 225 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 12/15/1989. USC .322/.402/.481, 10 HR. 2010 .353/.454/.711 with 22 HR. As most of you know, I work with Ricky's mom and have followed his career since he was a junior in high school. Imagine my excitement when I realized Ricky had been drafted by the Giants, the team I have been obsessed with since I was about 10 years old! I plead no contest to any charges of bias here! Rickey is a classic power hitting first baseman, the kind the Giants have tended to not draft during Brian Sabean's tenure as GM. He tore up the Pac 10, a conference that generally has pretty good pitching, in 2010. His 2011 was not as impressive which is probably why his draft stock slipped. He may have been pressing a bit during his draft year. There was also the BBCOR bats that are not as lively as the old metal ones. A couple of other factors that are not as well known: 1. There were not BBCOR bats available in Ricky's preferred size for the first month or so of the 2011 season so he had to adjust and then readjust when his bat finally came. 2. The new coach at USC wanted him to use a more level, line drive swing. I'm pretty sure the Giants will have no problem letting him use his natural power stroke in the pros. I think Ricky is athletic enough to play 3B or even LF, but he will probably stay at 1B. He'll go as far as his bat takes him at that position. I have faith in the bat!

From what I can gather, the Giants were looking at Ricky in round 2 of the draft. That still would have been a good value as BA had him ranked in the supplemental first round. When Andrew Susac fell to the Giants in round 2, they made the adjustment and grabbed him only to find Ricky still on the board at their pick in round 3! I'm sure falling that far was disappointing to Ricky and his family, but what a great drafting job by the Giants! I understand the clincher to the Giants interest came when John Barr himself was in the stands at the game where Ricky took Gerritt Cole deep late in the college season. Based on his college pedigree and draft position, I would expect to see Ricky playing for the San Jose Giants next spring.


Angel Villalona Angel V was a raw teenage prospect when we last saw him play for the San Jose Giants in 2009. Since then, he's been on a painful journey, an experience that likely either ruined his baseball career forever or forced him to grow up in a big hurry. Accused of murdering a man in his home country of Dominican Republic, and then left to twist in the wind by the prosecutor after the family of the deceased withdrew their claims after a reported 5 figure payoff. Whether Angel is truly guilty or not, the whole episode exposed what must be a very corrupt and ineffectual law enforcement and judicial system in that country. Angel has been reported to be in much better shape than when he last played. He recently came to terms with the Giants in a dispute over his bonus money. It will be interesting to see where he surfaces in 2012. My guess? AZL.

The Giants seldom draft first basemen in the higher rounds preferring up-the-middle players. I understand the concept that it's easier to fill corner positions from outside the organization, but the Giants haven't always been able to do that. Historically, first base has brought the highest return on first round draft picks of any position. The Giants philosophy may be changing a bit under John Barr with the recent drafting of Brandon Belt, who was a major sleeper, and now Ricky Oropesa, who is more of a classic power hitting first baseman with great pedigree. Here's my ranking of the organizational first base prospects:

1. Ricky Oropesa(by a large margin, BTW)
2. Brett Pill
3. Luke Anders
4. Ben Thomas
5. Ryan Scoma
6. Josh Mazzola
7. Brice Cutspec
8. Brian Nicholson
9. Alexis Almeida
?? Angel Villalona(could be ranked as high as #2 or as low as #10. I'm gonna say maybe #3 as there is a pretty big drop off between Pill and Anders.)

Brandon Belt would top the list if he still had prospect eligibility. It's hard to tell who might be the Giants first baseman of the future. The cupboard is not as bare as this list makes it look. There's Belt, of course. Then either Buster Posey or Pablo Sandoval could slide over there at any time. Adam Duvall could move over from third base and Tommy Joseph could still end up there. Alex Burg is a deep sleeper.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Down on the Farm: Third Base Depth Chart

With Pablo Sandoval virtually assured of being the starting third baseman for the Giants next year, there really isn't a need to delve into the available 3B FA's. The question with Sandoval is what happens over the next 3 seasons? Can he prove he is able to maintain his weight and conditioning? Is he the type of player the Giants should invest in a big dollar long term contract that extends beyond his arbitration years? Personally, if I was in Sabes' shoes, I'd go year to year with Pablo and make the decision about locking him up as late as possible. Make him prove he can stay in shape every year in between. Pablo is a guy who is blessed with extraordinary athletic talent that is packaged in a very bad body. Whereas most players can control their weight by an ounce of self control and a reasonable workout regimen, Pablo will have to to to extraordinary lengths, some quite painful, to maintain a semblance of control on his weight. I'm just not sure you ever want to commit to 5+ years with somebody like that. Stinks for Pablo, but unfortunately for him, you can discriminate against certain body types in baseball. With that background looming, let's look at who might make the Giants willing to let some other team gamble on Pablo down the road:


Conor Gillaspie 6'1", 195 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 7/18/1987. .297/.389/453, 22 2B, 6 3B, 11 HR, 9 SB, 9 CS. Apparently the Giants have a 4'th option on Conor Gillaspie. I remember they had one on Todd Linden too, and he wasn't too happy about it. Gillaspie started to look a bit more like Bill Mueller in 2011 with an excellent OBP the most salient feature of his game. If he does get sent down to Fresno for an encore, it would probably be wise for him to play several positions. including 2B, as he may not dislodge Pablo for awhile. He was a very mechanical fielder with a weak arm when I saw him play for San Jose a couple of years ago. Maybe he's gotten better, but I'm still thinking he might be a tweener: Not enough bat for 3B and not enough glove for 2B.


Chris Dominguez 6'3", 215 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 11/22/1986. High A: .291/.337/.465, 11 HR. AA: .244/.272/.403, 7 HR. I saw Chris play for San Jose early in the season. He certainly looks like a big league ballplayer! 6'3", 215 is big but he looks significantly bigger than that out on the field. Dominguez' stock had to take a jump up in 2011 as he dominated High A and held his own in AA although he did tail off at the end of the season a bit. He may not ever hit for a high average at the MLB level, but if he can avoid Dave Kingman territory, he will hit some long taters! He's one guy who might even challenge The Glove in left-center at AT&T. He's not an agile fielder, but has a rifle arm and could probably pitch if he had to. If Gillaspie is going back to Fresno, Chris might be stuck in Richmond for at least another half season.


Alex Burg 6'0", 190 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 8/9/1987. .298/.369/.550, 24 2B, 14 HR in 262 AB. Burg is officially a catcher, but he played a lot of 3B and some 1B for the Little Giants and, oh man, did he ever hit! He's a slightly smaller version of Tommy Joseph, very tightly packed. In fact, I mistook him for Joseph in a game I attended near the end of the season in San Bernardino! Anyway, he hit pretty well in 2010 too, so I don't think it's a fluke. A guy with a bat like that who can play multiple positions, including catcher, has a tremendous shot a pretty good major league career, even if it's always as a utility guy. If you are looking for deep sleepers, you could do a lot worse than starting your list with Alex Burg.


Adam Duvall 6'1", 205 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 9/4/1988. .285/.385/.527, 30 2B, 4 3B, 22 HR. Drafted as a 2B out of Louisville in 2010, Duvall played exclusively 3B in 2011 and put on an impressive hitting display for Augusta, a tough place for power hitters. He committed a lot of errors which I would expect to diminish has he gains experience at the position. He certainly has the bat for it. Another deep sleeper, maybe not quite as deep as Burg, but I don't think very many people know about him.


Garrett Buechele 6'0", 200 lbs, B-R, T-R, BD: 10/23/1989. Rookie AZL: .308/.325/.513, 2 HR in 39 AB. SS: .235/.288/.350, 5 HR. Garrett is the son of former MLB player Steve Buechele. They seem to be cut out of a similar cloth as players. Steve had a career line of .245/.316/.394. I see a similar ceiling for Garrett, but he's more likely to end up in Ryan Rohlinger territory.


Jose Cuevas 6'2", 190 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 4/5/1988. .337/.403/.639, 9 HR, 9 SB, 2 CS. Before you get too excited by the numbers, consider that Cuevas was a college draftee repeating rookie ball. He'll have to prove it at higher levels.

Christian Paulino 5'10", 168 lbs. B-R, T-R. BD: 9/4/1991. .277/.379/.438, 10 SB, 1 CS. Very intriguing player. Came on strong late in the season posting a .345/.472/.517 line over his last 10 games. Listed as a 3B but I think he played some 2B which may be a better position for him. Seems to have a nice potential combination of on-base skill, power and speed. Still young enough to develop. Add him to your list of sleepers.

Stephen Yarrow 6'3", 215 lbs. B-L, T-R. BD: 11/30/1988. .286/.412/.371. Local kid from South Lake Tahoe who played college ball at USF. Signed as an undrafted FA. Probably projects more as a 1B which hurts his future stock. Probably an organizational player.


Royel Astacio 6'2", 197 lbs. B-S, T-R. BD: 9/27/1993. .218/.371/.306, 2 HR, 5 SB in 170 AB. Hit .306 over his last 10 games. Love the size and birthdate here. 2 HR's may not seem like much, but it's an accomplishement in the DSL.

Here's how I would rank them as prospects:

1. Chris Dominguez
2. Conor Gillaspie
3. Adam Duvall
4. Alex Burg
5. Garrett Buechele
6. Christian Paulino
7. Royel Astacio
8. Jose Cuevas
9. Stephen Yarrow

Paulino and Astacio are the two to watch for breakouts in the next year or two. I might have ranked both higher if it was based purely on ceiling. Just don't know enough about them yet.