Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Catcher Breakout- Travis D'Arnaud

Travis D'Arnaud, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  2/10/1989.  6'2", 210 lbs.  Organization:  Mets.

2015:  .268/340/.485, 12 HR, 8.6 BB%, 18.3 K%, 268 PA.

I was high on D'Arnaud last year too, and he did put up terrific numbers for the Mets in 2015.  In fact, his SLG% was second only to Kyle Schwarber among catcher-eligible players with more than 250 PA's.  Buster Posey was 3'rd with .470.  The problem for D'Arnaud, which has been an issue for him in the past, was injuries so there is some risk here.  On the other hand, he appeared to be fully recovered and healthy for the postseason, so there do not seem to be any significant carry-over injury issues for 2016.   Posey and Schwarber are the two obvious top tier fantasy baseball players with catcher eligibility.  If you aren't able to draft either of them for whatever reason, you may want to target D'Arnaud, who I believe will be undervalued in most fantasy drafts.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #39 Dan Slania

Dan Slania, RHP.  DOB:  5/24/1992.  6'5", 265 lbs.

A+:  4-5, 3.53, 71.1 IP, 11.36 K/9, 1.89 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.73.
AFL:  1-0, 2.25, 12 IP, 11.25 K/9, 3.00 BB/9.

I really liked Dan Slania's college profile at Notre Dame and thought he might be the type of pitcher the Giants like to draft.  They took him in the 5'th round of the 2013 draft.  He's been a solid reliever at 3 levels since then with even better peripheral numbers.  He's got a mid-90's FB with excellent command as well as a couple of secondary pitches.  He should move up to AA Richmond this year where another good season will put him on the threshold of the majors.  The Giants are stacked with reliever prospects  which they have enough confidence in that Bobby Evans said they did not feel the need to bolster their bullpen via free agency this offseason.  Slania is probably somewhere about #11 or 12 on the bullpen depth chart, which says more about the Giants depth there than it does about Slania.  Anyway, Big Dan has a high probability of having a long MLB career as a long-middle reliever with an outside chance of eventually closing.  ETA is 2017.

Hot Stove Update: D'Backs Make Another Bad Trade

The D'Backs traded RHP Chase Anderson, 2BAaron Hill and a prospect to the Milwaukee Brewers for SS Jean Segura and a pitching prospect.  Here is the breakdown:

D'Backs acquire:

Jean Segura, SS.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  3/17/1990.  5'10", 2015 lbs.

2015:  .257/.281/.336, 6 HR, 25 SB, 2.2 BB%, 15.9 K%, fWAR= 0.3, 584 PA.

Segura burst onto the scene 3 years ago with one of the better first halves of baseball I can remember.  He ended that season with a .295 BA and 44 SB's.  He was the darling of fantasy baseball drafts the next season and then tanked.  Now, looking at those numbers, if he was playing for the Giants last year, I would probably be defending him, but even I have to admit that OBP is terrible and severely undermines his value.  It's unclear what role he will play in Arizona and it's not clear that he's an upgrade on Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings in the middle IF.  He does add some versatility in that he can play both SS and 2B and may still have some upside that Ahmed and Owings don't have.  As for Milwaukee, they have Jonathan Villar to take over at SS until top prospect Orlando Arcia is ready.

Tyler Wagner, RHP.  DOB:  1/24/1991, 6'3", 195 lbs.

2105 AA:  11-5, 2.25, 152.1 IP, 7.09 K/9, 2.66 BB/9.
2015 MLB:  0-2, 7.24, 13.2 IP, 3.29 K/9, 4.61 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.59.

Wagner is a groundball pitcher with a FB that runs about 90 MPH.  He bombed in a brief MLB trial last year, but might have better luck next time after some more seasoning in AAA.

Brewers Acquire:

Chase Anderson, RHP.  DOB:  11/30/1987.  6'0", 190 lbs.

2015:  6-6, 4.30, 152.2 IP, 6.54 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.22, Average FB Velocity= 91.5.

Anderson was probably no higher than #6 on the D'Backs SP depth chart, but most MLB teams need their 6'th starter quite often.  Anderson was a relatively rare SP who gained velocity over the course of last season.  His best pitch is a changeup which is quite good.  He is under team control for 4 more seasons.  His tendency to give up HR's won't be helped much, if any, in Milwaukee.

Aaron Hill, 2B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  3/21/1982.  5'11", 200 lbs.

2015:  .230/.295/.345, 6 HR, 7 SB, 8.8 BB%, 15.3 K%, 353 PA.

Hill has had an up and down career, mostly down over the past 2 seasons.  He's been plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness.  He has one year remaining on his contract at $12 M.  The D'Backs are reportedly sending $5.5 M to the Brewers to cover part of his remaining salary.

Isan Diaz, SS.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  5/27/1996.  5'10", 185.

Rookie(Pioneer):  .360/.436/.640, 13 HR, 12 SB, 10.9 BB%, 20.8 K%, 312 PA.

Here's why this is a bad trade for the D'Backs:  Diaz may be a long way from the major leagues, but he is quite the lottery ticket.  He was the D'Backs 2S pick in 2014, #70 overall.  He hit just .197 in his pro debut, but with some power and Kiley McDaniel called his bat "advanced" even before he put up a 1.076 OPS in the admittedly hitter-friendly Pioneer League.  He's a SS for now, but will probably move to 2B at higher levels.  He's not the sure thing that Dansby Swanson is, but again, the D'Backs give away a high ceiling prospect for what, a marginal IF upgrade at best?  Man, there are going to be some D'Backs fans grinding their teeth in the not-so-distant future!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Sleeper Pitchers- John Lamb

John Lamb, LHP.  7/10/1990.  6'3", 195 lbs.

AAA(Royals):  9-1, 2.67, 94.1 IP, 9.16 K/9, 2.77 BB/9.
AAA(Reds):  1-1, 2.65, 17 IP, 11.12 K/9, 3.71 BB/9.
MLB(Reds):  1-5, 5.80, 49.2 IP, 10.51 K/9, 3.44 BB/9, FIP= 4.16, xFIP= 3.73.

A good place to look for sleeper fantasy baseball players is on rebuilding teams because that is where guys who might not be at the top of most prospect lists get a chance to play.  Lamb came to the Reds in the Johnny Cueto trade and was part of their all-rookie rotation at the end of the 2015 season.  Although he got knocked around and ended up with an ugly looking ERA, his peripheral numbers were much better.  He may not be a great fit in Cincinnati because he is a flyball pitcher in a home park that does not exactly suppress the long ball.  I probably would not draft him out of the gate, but would definitely watch him closely as the 2016 season progresses.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #38 Rando Moreno

Rando Moreno, SS.  B-S?, T-R.  DOB:  6/6/1992.  5'11", 164 lbs.

AA:  .275/.324/.340, 1 HR, 12 SB, 6.4 BB%, 12.8 K%, 484 PA.

The reason for the question mark after the S is Fangraphs lists him as B-R.  Rando Moreno is flying so far under the radar that I can't even find a definitive answer as whether he is a switch-hitter or not.  He's always been listed as such by, but sometimes guys give up switch-hitting.  Any word from readers on this?  Anyway, Moreno is someone who gets absolutely no ink anywhere, yet he is coming off hitting .275 in the Eastern League while playing shortstop which is no small feat.  Of course he hit .197 for Augusta and .218 for San Jose in 2014, so who knows what or who the real Rando Moreno is?  Last year's success did get him a non-roster spring training invite, and we'll see where he gets assigned for 2016.  If he can avoid another faceplant he could start hitting some radar screens.  And how can you not root hard for a guy named Rando?  Ceiling is probably utility IF.  ETA is whenever and wherever there is a need after this season.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Sleeper Pitchers- Jerad Eickoff

Jerad Eickoff, RHP.  DOB:  7/2/1990.  6'4", 200 lbs.  Organization:  Phillies

2015 AA(Rangers):  1-0, 2.70, 10 IP, 12.60 K/9, 2.70 BB/9.
2015 AAA(Rangers):  9-4, 4.25, 101.2 IP, 8.23 K/9, 2.92 BB/9.
2015 AAA(Phillies):  2-1, 2.49, 21.1 IP, 7.89 K/9, 1.25 BB/9.
2015 MLB(Phillies):  3-3, 2.65, 51 IP, 8.65 K/9, 2.29 BB/9, GB/FB= 0.95, Average FB Velocity= 91.0 MPH.

As you might have guessed, Eickoff came to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade and really shined after an August 21 callup.  He had 3 QS's out of the gate, then a single disaster start, the reeled off 4 consecutive 7 inning starts in which he allowed a total of 3 runs with 33 K's against 7 BB's.  He struck out 10 batters with just 1 BB in each of his last 2 starts.

Unless you have a Phillies fan in your fantasy league, I'm betting you will be the only person who's even heard of this guy.  He may be a borderline call in a 10 team league, but if you play in anything deeper than that, grab him!

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #37 Ty Blach

Ty Blach, LHP.  DOB:  10/20/1990.  6'2", 200 lbs.

AAA:  11-12, 4.46, 165.1 IP, 5.06 K/9, 1.69 K/9, GO/AO= 1.46.

Blach was the Giants 5'th round draft pick out of Creighton in 2012.  Since his pro debut in 2013, if my count is correct, he has not missed a start.  He has a decent enough package of stuff with a FB that runs 88-92, a great changeup and good breaking stuff.  He obviously pitches to contact and gets by with extremely low walk rates and keeping the ball on the ground.  After a full season in AAA, I'm not sure what he has left to learn in the minors, but I believe he is probably behind Clayton Blackburn and Adalberto Mejia on the SP depth chart so he will likely have to wait his turn.  His ceiling is #4-5 SP with the big question is whether his low strikeout approach will play at the next level, which is why I don't have him ranked higher.  ETA is whenever the Giants need him.  He could be part of a future trade.

Hot Stove Update: Rockies Acquire Jake McGee for Corey Dickerson

The Rockies seemed almost certain to trade one of their OF's this offseason and they got a pretty good pitcher in return for the riskiest of their 3 trade targets.  Corey Dickerson had a sensational 2014 season, but struggled last year with plantar fasciitis and a rib fracture.  The Rays apparently like his bounceback potential enough to give up LHP Jake McGee and a pitching prospect for him.  The move is a curious one for the Rays as they traded from one position of depth for another position of possibly even more depth.  They already had an OF of Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermeier and Steven Souza with Brandon Guyer and Mikie Mahtook in reserve.  In addition to injury concerns, Dickerson has a pretty severe L-R split.  You always have to wonder about players who put up big numbers in Coors Field and Dickerson also has a pretty severe home-away split.

McGee is a tremendously versatile and effective LH relief pitcher who can do what Jeremy Affeldt did for the Giants only with better raw stuff.  He has the stuff to be a closer, but can also be used in high-leverage situations against LH batters or can go multiple innings if needed.  I'm calling this a clear win for the Rockies although you also have to wonder about any pitcher coming to Coors Field.

The Rays also signed Steven Pearce a RH hitting 1B/DH/OF.  He will probably be used strictly as a platoon 1B/DH bat in Tampa Bay, so probably does not impact the OF situation there.

Doug Fister ended up signing a 1 year/$7 M deal with the Astros with incentives which could take him to $10 M.  I like this deal for the Astros as their is minimal risk for them and if Fister bounces back at all, they get surplus value.  I would have been OK with the Giants spending their money on, say, a Cespedes and signing Fister to this deal as their second pitching acquisition, but I'm OK with the Cueto/Shark/Span trio too.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #36 Derek Law

Derek Law, RHP.  DOB:  9/14/1990.  6'2", 210 lbs.

AA:  0-1, 4.56, 25.2 IP, 11.22 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.05.

A couple of years ago, Derek Law was a spring training phenom who some people thought might make the jump from San Jose to the majors.  Things did not go well and a couple of months later, he underwent TJ surgery.  He came back midseason last year in AA Richmond.  Although the ERA does not look good, there is nothing wrong with the K and BB rates, albeit a small sample size.  2016 will be his first full season back from TJ and it would be no surprise if he moved fast.  He has a high probability of becoming a solid MLB reliever with an ETA of 2017.  He may have an outside chance of sticking in 2016 with a great spring training.

Fantasy Focus: 20/20 Players

The last several seasons have seen a sharp decline in the highly sought after fantasy baseball players who hit at least 20 HR's and steal at least 20 bases.  We have not seen a 30/30 player in several years, let alone 40/40.  Last year, there were just 4 players to reach the 20/20 plateau in MLB:

Manny Machado:  35 HR, 20 SB.
Paul Goldschmidt:  33 HR, 21 SB.
Ryan Braun:  25 HR, 24 SB.
AJ Pollack:  20 HR, 34 SB.

Close but no Cigar:

Starling Marte:  19 HR, 30 SB.
Justin Upton:  26 HR, 19 SB.
Mookie Betts:  18 HR, 21 SB.

2016 Steamer Projections do not have any of these player repeating the feat.  Steamer projects just one player in all of MLB to achieve the 20/20 goal:  Carlos Correa, the SS from Houston.  Betts and Marte are close.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #35 Jake Smith

Jake Smith, RHP.  DOB:  6/2/1990.  6'4", 195 lbs.

A+:  4-4, 2.35, 84.2 IP, 12.59 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.67, 16 Saves.

The Giants drafted Jake Smith in Round 48 of the 2011 draft.  He wasn't quite as wild as Ian Gardeck, but ran BB/9's in the 4.5 range until last season in San Jose where he was part of a workhorse SJ Giants bullpen and worked as the closer in the second half of the season.

According to Joe Ritzo, Voice of the SJ Giants, in his blog, Smith works with a mid-90's FB with a "devastating" slider and an improving changeup.  He also added a cutter last year which seemed to be the final piece of the puzzle for him to get to the next level of pitching.

He should move up to AA Richmond for 2016.  His ceiling is MLB Closer, but with that repertoire, I could see him stretching out and starting or maybe pitching in a swingman role too.  ETA is 2017, but as with other relievers, he could move faster and anything is possible, even a MLB callup in 2016!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Pitchers- Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP.  DOB:  4/7/1993.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Organization:  Red Sox

10-6, 3.85, 121.2 IP, 7.25 K/9, 2.74 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.29, Average FB Velocity= 94.0 MPH.

Maybe ERod already broke out last year, but I think there is more in the tank starting with his FB velocity.  Add in a slight GB tendency and excellent command numbers and you have a guy who is poised for a breakout sophomore season.  Add in what should be a good hitting team and you have a pitcher with a chance to win 15+ games over a full season.  He should hang around until late in drafts.  Grab him!

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #34 Ian Gardeck

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

A+:  3-4, 3.54, 86.1 IP, 10.84 K/9, 2.50 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.81.

The Giants like to draft wild, hard throwing arms and try to get them under control.  Gardeck fits that description to a T as he did not do much in college due to severe wildness and the Giants made him their 16'th round pick in the 2012 draft.  His BB/9's remained above 6 for his first 3 pro campaigns, then something clicked last year in San Jose.  The big velocity and strikeout stuff was still there but the BB's went from being terrible to excellent.  He kept the ball on the ground to boot, which is the pitching version of finding the Holy Grail.  His challenge for 2016 will be to maintain the command he found last year, but at a higher level.  AA seems to be a reasonable 2016 destination.  Barring injury or regression on the command, he should have a long MLB career as a reliever/setup man.  ETA is 2017, but I would not be shocked to see him pitching in a SF Giants uniform sometime this year.

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Pitchers- Kevin Gausman

Kevin Gausman, RHP.  DOB:  1/6/1991.  6'3", 190 lbs.  Organization:  Orioles

4-7, 4.25, 112.1 IP, 8.25 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.17, Avg. FB Velocity= 95.3, FIP= 4.10, xFIP= 3.80.

Gausman was the Orioles first round draft pick in 2012, #4 overall.  He is a bit of an enigma in that almost everybody agrees that he has premium stuff and he backs that up with good looking peripheral stats, but he has always tended to underperform his peripherals.  The Orioles are hoping he's finally found some traction at the end of last season.  Over his last 5 starts, he gave up 11 runs in 30 IP with 10 BB and 33 K's.  I know he was a pretty significant asset for my Savvy Vets fantasy team down the stretch.  It is possible that pitching in a bandbox park in the AL East with a poor defensive team behind him will always cause him to underperform, but he is also entering the theoretical prime years of his career with premium velocity and stuff intact.  He should be available late in most fantasy draft formats and should provide excellent surplus value.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #33 Steven Duggar

Steven Duggar, OF.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  11/4/1993.  6'2", 190 lbs.

Short Season:  .293/.390/.367, 12 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 SB, 13.1 BB%, 19.5 K%, 267 PA.

Duggar is another highly touted HS player with a reputation of having 5 tools who, despite playing well in college, saw his stock slip due to a failure to live up to lofty expectations.  Duggar's best tool is resportely his speed which also helps him track balls down in the OF.  He has an arm, clocked at 90 MPH from the OF while in HS.  He has raw power which he shows off in batting practice, but it has not shown up in games.  He ran very high walk and K rates in college, probably due to being too conservative at the plate, so he is a 3 true outcomes guy minus the power, but he has somewhat made up for that by hitting for average.

His scouting and statistical profile are almost identical to Jarrett Parker, which I'll say is his closest comp.  He could get places in either Augusta or San Jose for 2016 depending on organizational needs.  Hard to say what his ceiling is.  He has the tools to be a star OF, but will he ever beat the expectations game?  ETA is probably 2019.

Hot Stove Update: Mets Sign Yoenis Cespedes

While it was not surprising that Yoenis Cespedes ended up signing a FA contract with the Mets, the team he finished last season with and helped lead to the World Series, the terms of the contract were somewhat of a surprise.  3 yrs/$75 M is about $60 M less in total value than Justin Upton, a very similar player got from the Detroit Tigers.  Cespedes is coming off a much better season than Upton in terms of fWAR to boot.  The contract comes with a 1 year opt out and is slightly front-loaded with $27.5 M coming in year 1, so once again, we see a team appearing to hope for a player opt out.  As for Cespedes, he gets a higher AAV than Upton but less total guaranteed money, so Cespedes is betting on himself to earn more money in future seasons, something I wonder why more players don't do.

The signing brings the gang back together for the Mets to make another run.  With their crazy good young starting pitching staff, I would not bet against them, except of course, it is an even year, so we know who is going to stop them.

Friday, January 22, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #32 Ronnie Jebavy

Ronnie Jebavy, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  5/17/1994.  6'2", 190 lbs.

Short Season:  .263/.303/.419, 10 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 23 SB, 3.1 BB%, 18.8 K%, 292 PA.

Jebavy was the Giants 5'th round draft pick in 2015 out of a small program in Tennessee where he made several Sportscenter highlights with acrobatic catches in the OF.  Turns out he's a pretty good hitter too.  That is a very intriguing combination of power and speed you see in that batting line.  The issue going forward will be contact and plate discipline.  He may get assigned to San Jose for 2016.  Ceiling is starting CF in MLB, but more likely 4'th OF type.  His ETA is 2019.

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Pitchers- Raisel Iglesias

Raisel Iglesias, RHP.  DOB:  1/4/1990.  6'2", 185 lbs.  Organization:  Reds

3-7, 4.15, 95.1 IP, 9.82 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.48.

The W-L and ERA will probably cause a lot of fantasy managers to overlook Raisel Iglesias, but look at those K and BB rates!  He may play in a hitter's park, but the GB rate will help him there too.  On the other hand, a lot of fantasy publications are touting him as a sleeper/breakout candidate, so he may not come as cheaply as he should.  Just be aware of him and if he slips in the draft, he'll be a bargain pick in the later rounds.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #31 CJ Hinojosa

CJ Hinojosa, SS.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  7/15/1994.  5'9", 180 lbs.

Short Season:  .296/.328/.481, 18 SB, 5 HR, 3.9 BB%, 7.4 K%, 203 PA.

Ever since John Barr became the Giants Scouting Director, they love to take former HS stars whose stock dropped in college in rounds 2 on.  CJ Hinojosa fits that description as he was touted as a high HS draft pick who instead chose to play for a powerhouse college program at Texas.  Although he did not have a terrible college career, he did not live up to expectations and the Giants were able to grab him in the 11'th round of the 2015 draft.  He came out of the gate fast putting up very interesting offensive numbers for Salem-Keizer.  He was shut down early for what I understand was a surgical procedure to correct a chronic wrist condition, possibly to remove a hamate bone that never completely healed from an old fracture.  Based on his initial pro numbers and depending on how he comes back from the injury, he could be a future starting SS in MLB.  The Giants generally take it slow with players coming off injury, so we could see him in Augusta or even back in S-K instead of the normal progression to San Jose for a college draftee who does well in S-K.   I would say his MLB ETA is 2019.

Thoughts on the DH in the NL

Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred emerged from the Owner's Meetings sounding like he thinks the NL adopting the DH as early as 2017 is as good as a done deal.  Apparently there is enough serious discussion about the move that Giants Managing Partner, Larry Baer, came out and publicly stated his and the Giants opposition to the plan.  His statement brought back recent memories of a flap between Nationals RHP Max Scherzer who hates having to bat and Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner who not only loves to bat, he has turned his prowess at the plate into a significant competitive advantage.  I am pretty sure Bumgarner's attitude and success at the plate is not lost on Larry Baer.

So, how do I feel about the DH possibly coming to the NL?  Well, I have mixed feelings.  Trust me, I have been a National League fan since 1966 when I first started listening to Giants games on the radio. I did not like the A's moving into what I considered Giants territory and though Charlie Finley was a clown and a carpetbagger.  I hated the DH as much or more than anybody.  It just seemed so cheesy, like just about everything else Charlie Finley was involved in.  To me, it does take something away from the strategy of the game, and I applaud pitchers like Bumgarner, Zack Greinke and Mike Leake who are able to use their bats to their advantage.

Over the years, though, I guess my opposition to the DH has softened.  I have to admit I like the idea of an aging hitter being able to extend his career through DH'ing.  I like the idea that a slugging first baseman who otherwise might not be able to find a job in MLB can now hit dingers in the majors instead of spending 10 years doing it in AAA.  I have to admit that for every Madison Bumgarner or Zack Greinke, there are 20 pitchers who go up there as almost automatic outs.  I am sick of getting my hopes up when the 6'th and 7'th hitters in the lineup put together great AB's just to look ahead and realize it is probably all for naught because that damn pitcher's spot is coming up.

On top of all that, MLB in general and the NL in particular have a real run-scoring problem on their hands and it looks like more than just a passing phase.  Pitching velocity keeps going up.  Pitchers keep finding newer and nastier pitches.  Almost everything coming out of the explosion of information and technology favors pitching, from spray charts to help with defensive positioning to the electronification of the strike zone, which is generally bigger than the way most umpires have called it in the past.  MLB has to find ways to increase run scoring and adding the DH to the NL is probably the fastest, easiest and least disruptive way to do it.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #30 Michael Santos

Michael Santos, RHP.  DOB:  5/29/1995.  6'4", 170 lbs.

2013 DSL:  1-2, 2.75, 19.2 IP, 8.24 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.29.
2014 AZL:  4-3, 2.56, 59.2 IP, 7.54 K/9, 1.96 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.81.
2015 AZL:  0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 15 K/9, 6 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.00
2015 Low A:  0-2, 3.44, 36.2 IP, 5.65 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.76.

When Michael Santos was 18 yo, he was so skinny the Giants shut him down after 4 starts in the DSL to work on nutrition and strengthening despite the excellent numbers he put up.  They brought him to Arizona for the 2014 season and he had nice numbers there too.  He got a late start on 2015 and put up decent numbers in Augusta.  He appears to be settling into a pitch-to-contact, low-walk, groundball pitcher.

In a Youtube video posted by Eric Longenecker, which I think is from an Arizona Instructional League game, Santos looks like he's filled out his frame and probably weighs more than 170 lbs now.  He has a high effort, over-the-top delivery that makes him look more like a reliever to my eye.  Scouting reports have his FB in the 91-94 MPH range with a curve and slider.  I did not find any mention of a changeup.  2016 will be his age 21 season, so starting out back in Augusta is a reasonable expectation.  His ceiling is mid-rotation SP and he could end up in the bullpen as a middle reliever/setup man.  ETA is 2019.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Pitchers- Carlos Rodon

Carlos Rodon, LHP.  DOB:  12/10/1992.  6'3", 234 lbs.  Organization:  White Sox

2015 MLB:  9-6, 3.75, 139.1 IP, 8.98 K/9, 4.59 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.57.

Carlos Rodon was the 3'rd overall pick of the 2014 draft out of NC State.  He's a big lefty who throws hard and has a wipeout slider.  He got called up to stay in April of last season.  He struggled with high walk rates for the first 4 months of the season.  I finally dropped him from my fantasy team around the first of August because the K's and W's he was giving were not worth the hit on my ERA and WHIP's. So what does he do?  He posts an ERA of 2.28 over the final 2 months of the season and lowered his walk rate to a manageable 3.49/9.  With that experience under his belt, look for him to become the dominant SP he was drafted to be.  I think he will be drafted in the late rounds if at all in most fantasy leagues.  Grab him!  He's going to be an ace someday and he will almost certainly be a fantasy asset at the least.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #29 Miguel Gomez

Miguel Gomez, C/3B.  B-S, T-R.  DOB:  12/17/1992.  5'10", 185 lbs.

Short Season:  .319/.331/.442, 14 2B, 6 HR, 1.8 BB%, 8.5 K%, 284 PA.

The Giants finally brought Miguel Gomez to the States after 3 years in the DSL and assigned him to Short Season Salem-Keizer, a step higher than the usual AZL for DSL graduates.  He responded by raking the league as one of only 3 qualified batters to hit over .300 with some extra-base power to boot.  He also has interesting secondary stats.  I guess if you can hit .319 by swinging at everything, you just keep right on swinging, but look at that K rate.  He put the ball in play in almost 90% of his PA's.

Gomez can hit, that much is clear, but what I find most interesting about him his the potential for versatility as he played both catcher and 3B in S-K.  As you may know, one of my white whales is the idea of a backup catcher who can play multiple other positions, which makes carrying 3 catchers on a 25 man roster possible which, in effect, gives you an additional bat off the bench.

I see Gomez as a future very good utility player with the possibility of more and with an ETA of 2019.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout SP's- Marcus Stroman

We'l'l switch gears a bit here and move from looking at Impact Rookies to potential breakout players.  We'll start with pitching since that seems to be what I'm best at in my own league, finding undervalued pitching.

Marcus Stroman, RHP.  DOB:  5/1/1991.  5'9", 185 lbs.

2014:  6-1, 3.65, 130.2 IP, 7.65 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.94.
2015:  4-0, 1.67, 27 IP, 6.00 K/9, 2.00 BB/9, GB/FB= 3.57.

Last year was supposed to be Marcus Stroman's breakout season.  I picked him up soon after his callup in 2014 and he gave my fantasy rotation a real shot in the arm.  I drafted him for something like $2 in my auction draft in 2015 only to have him tear his ACL in a freak injury and miss almost the entire season. I picked him up again as soon as I knew he was coming back before the end of the season and he gave my fantasy rotation another shot in the arm.  There is no reason to believe he will have any lingering effects from his knee injury.  Now 2016 should be his breakout.  He should be available fairly late in drafts.  Over a full season he will be incredibly valuable not just for W's and ERA but he keeps his WHIP low with very low walk rates to boot.  He won't hurt you in K's either so he will be a 4 category asset as a late round draft fantasy draft pick.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top Prospects: #28 Jonah Arenado

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

Low A:  .264/.293/.367, 25 2B, 9 HR, 4.3 BB%, 16.8 K%, 561 PA.

Jonah is the younger brother of Colorado Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado.  He was picked in round 16 of the 2013 draft.  He played 2 undistinguished seasons on rookie ball.  His work ethic attracted the attention of a Giants coach who noticed him taking extra BP in the batting cages during instructional league.  When the coach asked him what he was doing, Arenado's reply was he would rather hit in the cages than hang out at the hotel.

The hard work seemed to pay off as he had a solid season playing his home games in the most pitcher friendly stadium in a pitcher friendly league.  If you are not impressed by those numbers, just look up what Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones did in the same league.  Although his BA declined some toward the end of the season, it never fell off a cliff and he ended up with almost 600 PA's, an impressive showing of stamina for a kid that age.

Arenado got a callup to San Jose for the Cal League playoffs when Ryder Jones suffered and injury.  He didn't hit much there, but he should get a starting gig as the SJ 3B in 2016.  He still has a ways to go, but I think Jonah Arenado has a high ceiling as a power-hitting MLB 3B like his bro.  ETA is probably 2019.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #27 Ryder Jones

Ryder Jones, 3B.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  6/7/1994.  6'3", 185 lbs.

A+:  .268/.296/.394, 29 2B, 6 HR, 3.7 BB%, 18.5 K%, 432 PA.

The Giants picked Ryder Jones in the second round of the 2013 draft and signed him away from a Stanford commitment.  He signed quickly and hit .317 in his pro debut in Arizona.  He struggled with the grind of a pro season in Augusta and Salem-Keizer in 2014.  The Giants showed confidence in him by placing him in San Jose for 2015 where he stayed the entire season.  He performed steadily, if unspectacularly, and did not seem to wear down like he did the year before.

He does not look like much of an athlete in person with big shoulders that he kind of hunches forward and long, spindly legs.  In something like 8 AB's over the two games I saw him, he squared up the ball at least 6 times even though only 2 of them were hits.  Based on that, I tend to believe in the bat and think it will play up as he gains experience.  I also think there is power upside.  I project him as an eventual .270 or so hitter with 20 HR's.  ETA would be 2018 or 2019.  He'll likely move up to AA Richmond in 2016 with Arenado taking over 3B in SJ and Gomez/Viz going to Augusta.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Tigers Sign Justin Upton

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Detroit Tigers signed Justin Upton and not Yoenis Cespedes to a 6 year/$132.75 M contract.  The contract is a simple even split of $22.125 M per season for all 6 seasons.    There is an opt-out clause after 2 years and a partial no-trade. The contract covers Upton's age 28-33 seasons, most of which should be in the prime of his career.

I guess I've never been a huge Justin Upton fan.  I've just seen him mess up too many plays on the OF due to what looks like a nonchalant approach to his game.  On the other hand, the man does show up to play as he has put up well over 600 PA's in all of his last 5 seasons.  After an up and down first few years, he's settled into being a reliable 3-4 fWAR player good for 20+ HR's and 15+ SB with subpar D on the OF.  If you are willing to put up with the D, he brings solid production to the lineup.  The Tigers should get their money's worth out of the deal and might even get surplus production given the age range the contract covers.  The Tigers OF will be Upton in RF, a platoon of Cam Maybin and Anthony Gose in CF with JD Martinez in LF.

You have to think Cespedes will get a contract somewhere in this range, probably within the next week now that Upton and Chris Davis are both off the market.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #26 Hunter Cole

Hunter Cole, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  10/3/1992.  6'1", 195 lbs.

Low A:  .275/.370/.425, 10.9 BB%, 26.1 K%, 46 PA.
A+:  .313/.373/.493, 6 HR, 4 SB, 7.8 BB%, 17.1 K%, 245 PA.
AA:  .292/.338/.464, 3 HR, 1 SB, 6.7 BB%, 22.1 K%, 208 PA.

I'm guessing some of you are going to jump on me for ranking Hunter Cole this low, and I acknowledge I may be, in fact, ranking him too low here.   I actually like Hunter Cole a lot.  There are two ways of looking at this ranking:  1. Oh boy!  I don't think Cole is that great of a prospect.  2.  Man, the Giants have a DEEP system!  I prefer to look at it the second way.  Hopefully you will agree after you see some of the names ranked behind him.  Things that may have made me rank him lower than, say, the Tools Triumvirate is he does not play an up-the-middle position, or he lacks some of their tools.  The obvious comp is Austin Slater, but Slater has expanded his defensive repertoire to include 2B which in my mind gives him a leg up.

Cole has shown an interesting bat, but may not ultimately have quite enough power speed or contact to make is as a corner OF, which is where he seems stuck for the time being.  I see him as most likely a 4'th OF/bat off the bench type player with an ETA of 2017 or 2018.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- AJ Reed

AJ Reed, 1B/DH.  B-L, T-L.  DOB:  5/10/1993.  6'4", 240 lbs.  Organization:  Astros

A+:  .346/.449/.638, 23 HR, 15.3 BB/9, 19.0 K/9, 385 PA.
AA:  .332/.405/.571, 11 HR, 11.4 BB/9, 20.7 K/9, 237 PA.
AFL:  .231/.326/.385, 1 HR, 13.0 BB/9, 17.4 K/9, 46 PA.

AJ Reed was the Astros second round draft pick in 2014, #42 overall and #1 in the second round out of Kentucky.  He had a tremendous offensive season in 2015 over 2 levels.  Not only did he show tremendous HR power and draw a lot of walks, but he also kept his K rate down at a reasonable level.  He's a bit of a two dimensional player, with both dimensions coming on offense, but there's enough offense that he will be valuable even as a DH.  He may start the season in AAA, but he will almost surely not stay there long.  He will be immediately rosterable in all fantasy baseball formats as soon as he is called up.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #25 Matt Gage

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

Low A:  4-4, 4.07, 77.1 IP, 8.26 K/9, 1.51 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.04, FIP= 2.70.
AA:  2-3, 4.66, 38.2 IP, 6.98 K/9, 2.33 BB/9, GO/AO= 2.04, FIP= 3.17.

Sometimes the key to success for a baseball prospect is being in the right place at the right time and grabbing your opportunity by the throat when you have a chance.  Matt Gage was brought up from Augusta to Richmond for what was supposed to be an emergency spot start.  He allowed 1 run on 7 hits in 5 IP with 5 K's and just 1 BB.  He pitched so well, the Giants kept him in Richmond for the remainder of the season.  He allowed just 5 ER in 23 IP over his first 4 AA starts.  He faded a bit at the end, but finished with a strong final start that fell 1 out short of  a QS.

I don't have much of a scouting report on Gage except that he's a very big lefty, but his numbers point to success:  Strong K rate, very low walk rate and a strong GB tendency.  Those kinds of numbers will play at any level.  It will be interesting to see where the Giants place him in 2016, but he earned at least a AA placement with his opportunistic performance in 2015.  Ceiling is probably back-of-rotation SP.  ETA probably 2018.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Ian Kennedy Signs With the Royals and Chris Davis Re-Ups With the O's

Two big FA signing went down yesterday as Ian Kennedy signed a surprisingly strong 5 year/$70 M package with the Royals and Chris Davis signed a 7 year/$160 M deal to stay with the Orioles.  Kennedy's deal includes an opt-out after the second season while Davis' deal reportedly includes long term deferred money.  Hate Scott Boras or not, but he almost always gets the goods for his clients.

Kennedy's deal is probably the more surprising of the two.  He's been a replacement level pitcher for 2 of the past 3 seasons and I thought he would be lucky to get a 3 year deal.  Many analysts thought he should have accepted the Padres QO, and I was certainly leaning in that direction myself.  Well, he obviously got a much better deal than a QO or a 3 year deal!  Kennedy may well turn out to be a worth it for the Royals, who were heavily criticized for signing Edinson Volquez last offseason and look how that turned out for them!  Kennedy has always had strong peripheral numbers even in his down seasons, so he is a good bet to bounce back.  It's just that when you make that kind of investment in a player, you want something more secure than hoping for a bounceback.  On the other hand, the Giants spent $251 M on 3 players who are all going to need to bounce back some to justify their contracts.  I would have been happy with an Ian Kennedy signing by the Giants, but probably not at this price.  I'll take Cueto and Samardzija, thank you.

Chris Davis and the Orioles finally go a deal done after weeks of brinksmanship negotiations on both sides.  Davis is a bit challenged for Batting Average but has been the premiere HR threat in baseball over the past 3 seasons.  The Orioles really had no comparable alternative to re-signing him and his career has thrived in Baltimore, so it seemed like both sides needed each other.  I think the O's needed Davis a bit more than he needed them, though and that's why he ultimately got a very sweet deal.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #24 Joan Gregorio

Joan Gregorio, RHP.  DOB:  1/12/1992.  6'7", 180 lbs.

AA:  3-2, 3.09, 78.2 IP, 8.24 K/9, 3.66 BB/9.

If you are looking for a sleeper prospect who could break out and be in the majors by the end of the season, Joan Gregorio is your guy.  He had a rough 2014 in which he got demoted from San Jose to Augusta, the Giants had enough faith in him to place him in AA Richmond for the 2015 season.  He started out pitching out of the bullpen, but started down the stretch.  Once he was back to starting, he kicked it up a notch.  Over his last 10 appearances, including all 9 of his starts, he put up a line of 2-1, 2.28, 43.1 IP, 16 BB, 38 K's.  In his final start, he went 6 IP allowing 0 R on 4 H with 7 K's against 2 BB's.

I found a Kiley McDaniel scouting report that has him throwing 91-94 MPH with the FB with inconsistent secondary stuff.  He puts on a few lbs, adds 1-2 MPH to the FB and finds a consistent secondary pitch and boom!  You have a real prospect here.  I'm not sure where he will start 2016 as the Giants minor league rotations are getting very competitive.  He is on the 40 man MLB roster.  ETA is probably 2017 but I could see a outside chance for 2016 if he can take his game to the next level.  He will likely end up in the bullpen in the majors.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Sean Manaea

Sean Manaea, LHP.  DOB:  2/1/1992.  6'5", 215 lbs.  Organization:  A's.

2014 A+:  7-8, 3.11, 121.2 IP, 10.80 K/9, 3.99 BB/9.
2015 Rookie:  0-0, 1.80, 5 IP, 10.80 K/9, 1.80 BB/9.
2015 A+:  1-0, 3.66, 19.2 IP, 10.07 K/9, 1.83 BB/9.
2015 AA(Royals):  0-1, 8.14, 7 IP, 14.14 K/9, 7.71 BB/9.
2015 AA(A's):  6-0, 1.90, 42.2 IP, 10.76 K/9, 3.16 BB/9.
2015 AFL:  0-2, 3.86, 25.2 IP, 11.57 K/9, 2.10 BB/9.

Sean Manaea was the early favorite to go #1 overall in the 2013 draft after exploding on the scene in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2012 with a FB that topped out at 97 MPH.  His junior season at Indiana St was marred by cold weather and a hip injury and his stock dropped.  The KC Royals made him the 34'th overall selection in the compensation round.  He recuperated from his injuries the rest of the summer and made his pro debut in high A ball in 2014.  There were more minor injuries to begin 2015 and he was traded to the A's for Ben Zobrist at the deadline.  He kicked his game up a notch after the trade an got additional work in the AFL.

He continues to sport a mid-90's FB and a couple of solid secondary pitches.  He will likely start 2016 in AAA, but will also likely make his MLB debut sometime this season.  He'll warrant consideration if you need some help in your fantasy starting rotation.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #23 Kyle Crick

Kyle Crick, RHP.  DOB:  11/30/1992.  6'4", 220 lbs.

AA:  3-4, 3.29, 63.0 IP, 10.43 K/9, 9.43 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.60.

Kyle Crick has never been known for his command, but his wildness spun out of control in 2015 as his BB/9 climbed above a walk per inning.  He was a starter in April and May putting up ERA's under 2.00 while walking 26 batters in 32.1 IP.  Then, the wheels fell off in June when he put up an ERA of 9.45 with 14 BB in 6.2 IP.  He was moved to the bullpen where his ERA stabilized in the mid-3's, but he continued to issue walks at a rate of greater than 1 per inning for the remainder of the season.   At this point, it is very difficult to know how to rank Crick.  He obviously still has the stuff to be a frontline pitcher as evidenced by his K rate, but he's not going anywhere until he gets the walks under control and it's not at all clear how or if that is going to happen.  The Giants added him to the 40 man roster after the 2015 season so he probably has 3 seasons to figure it out.  At this point, I don't know if you can project a ceiling or an ETA for him.  Again, he needs to start getting his walks under control and it needs to start happening in 2016.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Nomar Mazara

Nomar Mazara, OF.  B-L, T-L.  DOB:  4/26/1995.  6'4", 195 lbs.  Organization: Rangers.

AA:  .284/.357/.443, 13 HR, 10.0 BB%, 19.6 K%, 470 PA.
AAA:  .358/.409/.444, 1 HR, 5.7 BB%, 11.4 K%, 88 PA.

Nomar Mazara is a power hitting OF prospect with stellar minor league numbers.  He will probably start the 2016 season in AAA, but with an OF of Hamilton, DeShields and Choo, there is a high probability he will be needed at the MLB level by midseason.  He'll be worthy of roster consideration in almost all formats immediately.  He is already long gone in deep keeper leagues.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #22 Jalen Miller

Jalen Miller, SS.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/19/1996.  5'10", 173 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  .218/.292/.259, 11 SB, 8.6 BB%, 21.3 K%, 197 PA.

Miller is the final member of the Giants Tools Triumvirate.  He's a HS SS picked in round 4 of the 2015 draft.  He got off to a quick pro start in Arizona, the tailed off quite badly as the season progressed, maybe due to the fatigue of playing everyday in the summer heat of Arizona.  He's obviously a bit of a project, and will likely stay in extended spring training this year and either repeat the AZL or move up to Salem-Keizer.  Most likely ceiling is utility IF with a chance to be a starting MLB SS if his bat comes around.  ETA is 2020 at the earliest.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Trade Cody Hall to D'Backs

The Giants DFA'd RHP Cody Hall earlier this week to make room on the 40 man roster for Denard Span.  Apparently Hall was not going to make it through waivers, and the D'Backs stepped up with a trade offer to put them a the front of the line, while the Giants do not lose him without compensation.  The return is reported to be a Player To Be Named Later(PTBNL) or cash.  Usually a deal like that ends up with a cash return in the range of $50-100 K.

Hall was a 19'th round draft pick in 2011 and had worked his way up through the Giants farm system as a relief pitcher.  He's a big kid at 6'4", 220 lbs and throws  hard.  Last year in AAA he put up a line of 1-3, 3.46, 67.2 IP, 7.32 K/9, 3.46 BB/9.  He got in a few MLB innings during a September callup posting a line of 0-0, 6.48, 8.1 IP, 7.56 K/9, 4.32 BB/9.  According to PitchFx, his FB averaged 92.8 MPH and his main secondary pitch was a split-fingered fastball.  He was a flyball pitcher in AAA, but has a GB/FB of over 2 in his short MLB stint.

This trade brings back memories of when Joe Paterson went to the D'Backs in the Rule 5 Draft.  I believe Hall can develop into a solid middle-innings reliever, possibly as soon as this year.  If he wants to succeed in Arizona though, he'll best keep the ball on the ground.  The other candidates for DFA on the Giants roster were Ty Blach, Cory Gearrin, Mike Broadway and Steven Okert.  Blach is a SP and left-handed.  Okert is a LHP.  Gearrin has more MLB experience than Hall and Broadway throws a lot harder.  I'll guess those were the considerations.  Can't really argue with that, but it's hard to lose a guy you've followed up the system.  I really like Cody Hall as a pitcher and wish him the best, except when he pitches against the Giants.  I had him ranked as the #26 prospect in the Giants system.  I've dropped him and moved Steven Okert into the #48 slot.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #21 Johneshwy Fargas

Johneshwy Fargas, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/15/1994.  6'1", 163 lbs.

2013 Rookie:  .299/.393/.351, 8 SB, 10.0 BB%, 12.2 K%.
2014 Short Season:  .240/.373/.329, 3 HR, 15 SB, 11.5 BB%, 13.0 K%.
2015 Low A:  .278/.347/.349, 2 HR, 59 SB, 19 CS, 6.1 BB%, 14.2 K%.

Fargas was the Giants 11'th round draft pick in 2013.  He got off to an excellent start to his pro career showing speed, an ability to get on base and low strikeouts.  He showed more of the same in Salem-Keizer in 2014.  The SAL and Augusta are generally a stiff test for young hitters, but Fargas got off to a blazing start there and ended up with strong numbers, although his production tailed off as the season progressed, probably from the fatigue of full season ball.  His season ended early on August 20 when he took a pitch to the face.  He bounced back with a strong start in the winter ball, although he again tailed off later in the Puerto Rican Winter League season.

Fargas is a thin dude with wiry strength.  From videos I've seen, I would compare is body type to Matt Duffy!  In fact, there is a video of one AB for Augusta where he strokes a ball down to the opposite field down the RF line that could have been one of several Matt Duffy! AB's last year.  Some analysts question whether Fargas' frame will ever fill out.  First of all, to my eye, I think it can and will.  Secondly, Matt Duffy's frame never filled out and look at him!  You don't have to be bull strong to generate power in baseball.  If you want something else to be concerned about, those 19 CS look an awful lot like they came out of a Gary Brown line.

Johneshwy Fargas appears to be in position to start the 2016 season as the starting CF in San Jose although Ronnie Jebavy may have something to say about that.  Maybe Mikey Edie stays in extended spring training then Salem-Keizer while Jebavy goes to Augusta?  Fargas has a ceiling of being a starting CF in MLB with approximately 10 HR and 20-30 SB.  He will need to get a bit stronger and refine his SB skills.  ETA is probably 2019.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Lucas Giolito

Lucas Giolito, RHP.  DOB: 7/14/1994.  6'6", 230 lbs.   Organization:  Nationals

A+:  3-5, 2.71, 69.2 IP, 11.11 K%, 2.58 BB%, GO/AO= 1.36.
AA:  4-2, 3.80, 47.1 IP, 8.56 K%, 3.23 BB%, GO/AO= 1.28.

Many analysts consider Lucas Giolito to be the top pitching prospect in baseball.  He was a highly touted HS draftee who the Nationals selected as their first round choice despite injury concerns.  He underwent TJ surgery almost immediately after the draft, but has been mostly dominant since his recovery.  Giolito throws hard with a FB that sits in the mid-upper 90's.  He has a wipeout breaking ball and an less imposing changeup.  With the Nationals rotation looking considerably less imposing after the departure of Jordan Zimmermann, it is likely he will get a chance to start his MLB career around midseason.  He is long gone in most deep keeper formats, but in most fantasy leagues, owners should follow him closely in the minors and pick him up when a callup is reported to be imminent.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #20 Mikey Edie

Mikey Edie, OF.  DOB:  7/3/1997.  5'11", 175 lbs.

2014 DSL:  .298/.424/.383, 2 HR, 14 SB, 9.5 BB%, 12.9 K%.
2015 AZL:  .290/.369/.319, 0 HR, 10 SB, 6.2 BB%, 18.5 K%.

Edie is an international prospect out of Venezuela.  He already had an impressive resume by the time the Giants signed him at age 16.  He had a successful pro debut in the DSL.  He backed that up with a successful stateside debut in Arizona, a step that sometimes trips up international prospects.  The things that catch my eye in his stat lines are the BA and OBP while keeping his K rate below 20%.  You would like to see more power, but he's still only 18 yo, although his size may put limits on his future power.

His best tool is reportedly his throwing arm, but he also has above average speed and the hit tool is obviously there.  Again, future power is questionable and his speed may not be enough to be much of a SB threat at higher levels.  He does seem to have the tools and skills to stick in CF.  Full season ball in low A would seem to be the next logical step and that is always a big hurdle for the young kids.  A similar batting line in Augusta would go a long way toward cementing his status as a serious future CF prospect.  At the very least, I believe in the hit tool and there's always a place for a kid who can hit.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blogger's Note

I have made a change in the order of the Top 50 Prospect List.  After considerable thought, I move Jalen Miller down 2 spots and raised Mikey Edie and Johneshwy Fargas 1 spot each.  Although Miller is obviously a tremendous athlete and plays most premium position, I just felt that he should not rank ahead of 2 similar prospects who have performed on the field.

I will also re-evaluate Cody Hall's position in light of his recent DFA before we get to his name.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #19 Chris Stratton

Chris Stratton, RHP.  DOB:  8/22/1990.  6'3", 195 lbs.

AA:  1-5, 4.14, 50 IP, 7.02 K%, 3.96 BB%, GO/AO= 1.12.
AAA:  4-5, 3.86, 98 IP, 6.61 K%, 3.67 BB%, GO/AO= 1.31.

Chris Stratton is a bit of an enigma and was thus one of the hardest prospects to rank in this list.  A former first round draft pick from 2010 at #20 overall, the Giants have steadily promoted him up the organizational ladder despite unexciting stat lines and unenthusiastic scouting reports.  He has not pitched poorly, but he also has never shown any kind of discernible dominance.  The lines you see above are pretty much what he has put up at every level.

The other thing about Stratton is it seems to be difficult to find a definitive scouting report.  That may be due to some inconsistency in velocity readings.  The closest I could come to a precise scouting report was from Kiley McDaniel in last year's Fangraphs Giants Prospect Report.  He reported variability in the FB which sometimes sits in the high 80's and at other times has reached 94 MPH.  Kiley did say that his best and most consistent pitch is the slider with the curveball and changeup lagging behind.

The comp I keep coming back to with Stratton is Brad Hennessey who had a similar scouting profile, had his early development thrown off track by an medical issue and put up similar stat lines in his minor league career, although Stratton's K rate has always been 2-3 K's/9 higher than Hennessey's.  Unless he can consistently hit the low 90's with the velocity and develop a better changeup, I would peg Stratton as a future long/middle reliever, where he could throw mostly sliders for an inning or two at a time and get away with it.  We could see him in SF as early as mid-season 2016, but he's going to have to wait for a need to arise.  Right now, it would seem that Clayton Blackburn and Adalberto Mejia are likely ahead of him on the SP depth chart and there are several bullpen options that would likely be called up for bullpen duty before him.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Are the Giants Winning the Projection WARs?

As we approach the end of the Hot Stove League season, we enter the Projection WARs.  See, you can know who the best team in baseball is before the regular season starts.  You just have to go look up your favorite projection system and add up the WAR scores for the players on your team's likely 25 man roster and boom!  You know how many games you can expect them to win as well as their rivals. Of course, there is a reason why they play the games, and projections are projections.  Projections are a likely mean of range of possible performances of any given player.  For any one player, the projection may be wildly inaccurate due to luck, injury, breakout performance, there is a long list.  On the other hand, it you take all 750 MLB players and average their actual from expected performance, the mean difference would be close to zero, the projection systems are that good.  For a 25 man roster of a single MLB team, the accuracy is somewhere between what you would get from 1 player and the entire population of MLB players.  On the other hand, coming into last season, the Boston Red Sox had one of the highest projected WARs of any team and look where they finished.

By most accounts, the Giants have had a boffo Hot Stove League season while the Dodgers have had a rough one.  Of course, the Dodgers were starting out with a substantial lead, but what about now?  Where do these two teams, as well as the division rival D'Backs stand in the WAR Projection race?  Grant Brisbee at tackled this today from a different angle, looking at how much the Giants had improved just from the additions of the 3 FA signings minus the players they will replace.  He concluded that the Giants have improved by approximately 8 fWAR points.  The Giants finished 8 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West last year.  Just sayin'.

I decided to project 25 man rosters for the Giants, Dodgers and D'Backs and add up their Steamer projected WAR scores for 2016 and see what shook out.  We'll take the Giants first:

C  Buster Posey:  5.2
1B Brandon Belt:  3.1
2B Joe Panik:  2.9
3B Matt Duffy!:  3.1
SS Brandon Crawford:  2.4
LF Angel Pagan:  0.2
CF  Denard Span:  2.6
RF  Hunter Pence:  2.3
Bench Gregor Blanco:  1.0
Bench Jarrett Parker:  0.4
Bench Ehire Adrianza:  0.2
Bench Kelby Tomlinson:  0.1
Bench  Andrew Susac:  0.9
SP  Madison Bumgarner:  4.6
SP  Johnny Cueto:  3.4
SP  Jeff Samardzija:  2.4
SP  Jake Peavy:  1.2
SP  Matt Cain:  0.9
RP  Chris Heston 0.6
RP  Santiago Casilla 0.3
RP  Sergio Romo 0.8
RP  Javier Lopez 0.0
RP  Hunter Strickland 0.7
RP  Josh Osich 0.2
RP  George Kontos 0.0

In case you are wondering, George Konto pitched 73 innings last year with an ERA of 2.33 and had a fWAR of -0.2 which seems pretty ridiculous to me.  It seems his FIP and xFIP were both above 4.00.  So you see, it's not a perfect system.  At any rate, the grand total Projected WAR for my projected 25 man roster is 39.5.  Add on the projected win total for a replacement roster of 45 and you get a projected win total of 84.5 Wins.  Of course, it does not count what might happen after midseason trades or players replaced due to injury or poor performance.

What about the Dodgers?  Let's do the same exercise for them:

C  Yasmani Grandal:  2.5
1B Adrian Gonzalez:  2.7
2B Chase Utley:  1.3
3B  Justin Turner:  2.6
SS  Corey Seager:  2.9
LF  Andre Ethier:  1.2
CF  Joc Pederson:  3.3
RF  Yasiel Puig:  4.0
Bench Carl Crawford:  0.3
Bench  AJ Ellis:  1.0
Bench Enrique Hernandez:  1.1
Bench Scott Van Slyke:  0.8
Bench Alex Guerrero:  0.0
SP  Clayton Kershaw:  7.5
SP  Brett Anderson:  1.8
SP  Scott Kazmir:  2.1
SP  Hyun-Jin Ryu:  1.4
SP  Kenta Maeda:  1.0?
RP  Kenley Jansen:  1.2
RP  Alex Wood:  1.3
RP  Mike Bolsinger:  0.4
RP  Chris Hatcher:  0.5
RP  Pedro Baez:  0.4
RP  Yimi Garcia:  0.6
RP  JP Howell:  0.1

THAT all adds up to 42.0 or 87 projected team Wins.  Again, a few of those numbers may raise your eyebrows a bit.  Yasiel Puig is coming off a 1.5 fWAR season for starters.  Still, we'll probably all be surprised at how close most of these were at the end of the season.

What about the D'Backs after adding Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller at a horrific cost?

C  Welington Castillo:  2.5
1B Paul Goldschmidt:  5.2
2B Chris Owings:  0.3
3B Jake Lamb:  2.1
SS Nick Ahmed:  0.7
LF David Peralta:  1.7
CF AJ Pollack:  3.7
RF  Yasmany Tomas:  0.2
Bench Socrates Brito:  -0.1
Bench Tuffy Gosewich:  0.0
Bench Aaron Hill:  -0.1
Bench ????:  0.2?
Bench ????:  0.1?
SP  Zack Greinke:  4.8
SP  Patrick Corbin:  2.6
SP  Shelby Miller:  2.0
SP  Robbie Ray:  1.5
SP  Rubby De La Rosa:  1.4
RP  Daniel Hudson:  0.8
RP  Andrew Chafin:  0.3
RP  Randall Delgado:  0.4
RP  Silvio Bracho:  0.6
RP  Brad Zeigler:  0.5
RP  Enrique Burgos:  0.1
RP  Chase Anderson:  0.9

Now that all adds up to 31.3 or 76 team Wins.  The D'Backs roster is extremely top heavy and shallow.  In order to compete in the NL West with the Giants and Dodgers, they will likely need to add considerable depth which they probably cannot do this offseason.

What does all this mean?  We should take it as a rough idea of where these 3 teams stand in competition  for the NL West.  I believe the Giants and Dodgers are within margin of error of each other, with the D'Backs still having work to do to catch up.  And of course, the Hot Stove League is not over yet with the Dodgers having enough resources to make some more moves if they are so inclined.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #18 Jarrett Parker

Jarrett Parker, OF.  B-L, T-L.  DOB:  1/1/1989.  6'4", 210 lbs.

AAA:  .283/.375/.514, 25 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 20 SB, 12.3 BB%, 32.5 K%, 504 PA.
MLB:  .347/.407/.755, 2 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 0 SB, 9.3 BB%, 38.9 K%, 54 PA.

Jarrett Parker is exhibit A for why it is so hard for a young player to break into MLB, especially for a team that thinks it has a chance to win its 4 championship in 6 seasons and a team that has money to spend on free agents.  I mean, look at both of those stat lines.  What more do you need to do?  Those are numbers that you would think would make a GM say to himself, "we have a problem in LF?  Problem solved!"  OK, you say, it's not about what he did in AAA.  The PCL is notorious hitter's league and the Giants have a long history of OF prospects coming up and falling flat on their faces in the majors.  It's also not about what he did in September last year.  Anybody can get insanely hot for 54 PA's.

OK, then let's take a look at what we might reasonably expect Jarrett Parker to do with the starting LF job next year.  We'll look at his Steamer Projection:  .234/.308/.387, 13 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 8 SB, 8.8 BB%, 32.2 K%, 339 PA.  Take a look at the PA's and let's project those numbers to 600.  You get about 18 HR's, and 14 SB's.  Do you know how many OF's had at least 18 HR's and 14 SB's in MLB last year?  6.  That's right, 6.  Now, SB's and HR's aren't everything and all that adds up to a modest 0.7 fWAR, but the point is the Giants would not have been exactly throwing in the towel on the season by making Jarrett Parker their starting LF out of Spring Training.  Of course, he might still be, but as of right now, he has both Pagan and Blanco in front of him on the depth chart.  Now he'll likely have to hope he can deliver enough off the bench to get a shot during the season when the inevitable injuries start to happen.

Right now, Jarrett Parker is looking like the 5'th OF coming into the season.  It's his big chance to gain a toehold in the major leagues.  His ceiling is starting OF on an average MLB team.  His 3-true outcomes approach is something I would think might interest Billy Beane, especially after that 3-dinger performance in Beane's yard last year.  I could see Beane signing him after a DFA with Parker responding with 2 or 4 seasons of 20 HR's and 15 SB's with the A's.

One more thought:  Early in his career, Parker had a very awkward looking batting stance.  It was like he didn't quite know where to put his long arms and legs in the batter's box and he always looked a bit off-balance, kind of leaning back a bit.  To my eye, he looked much more comfortable at the plate last September.  He was in a big more of a crouch with his weight centered over feet and between his feet.  He was back off he plate an inch or two which allowed him to lean slightly forward.  This helped him avoid getting jammed on the inside corner while his long arms still covered the outside corner.  He could spring out of his crouch with a power stroke in one motion.  Just another thought, but Brandon Belt might want to take a look at that stance.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Michael Fulmer

Michael Fulmer, RHP.  3/18/1993.  6'3", 200 lbs.  Organization:  Tigers.

A+:  0-0, 3.86, 7 IP, 11.57 K/9, 0.00 BB/9.
AA(Mets):  6-2, 1.88, 86 IP, 8.69 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.38.
AA(Tigers):  4-1, 2.84, 31.2 IP, 9.38 K/9, 1.99 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.38.

Michael Fulmer, not to be confused with White Sox 2015 First Round Draft Pick Carson Fulmer, was the higher ranked of the 2 pitching prospects the Tigers got back in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.  Fulmer had been working his way up the Mets organizational ladder when he had a breakout season 2015 featuring a dramatic improvement in his walk rates.

Fulmer looks bigger than his listed weight, I would estimate more like 215-220 lbs.  He has a mid-90's FB with excellent command and modest groundball tendency to go with it.  He has two good secondary pitches.  The Tigers rotation, even after adding Jordan Zimmermann is looking a bit long in the tooth.  If Fulmer attacks AAA like he did AA, look for him to appear in a Tigers uniform sometime around mid-season.  When and if he does, he should be a consideration in all fantasy formats, and definitely in deeper leagues, particularly H2H formats with daily roster re-sets.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #17 Rodolfo Martinez

Rodolfo Martinez, RHP.  DOB:  4/4/1994.  6'2", 180 lbs.

2014 Rookie:  1-5, 8.78, 27.2 IP, 11.39 K%, 5.20 BB%, GO/AO= 2.02, BABIP= .524.
2015 Low A:  1-2, 2.54, 46 IP, 8.61 K%, 2.74 BB%, GO/AO= 1.38, BABIP= .296.

Rodolfo Martinez is another haaaard throwing RHP who was signed as a 20 yo international FA and assigned directly to the Arizona League, bypassing the DSL.  He had a rough introduction to pro baseball in 2014, but you could see a lot of good things in his numbers, the K rate and groundball rate for starters.  The ridiculous BABIP was probably due to something he wasn't doing right, but that was bound to come down.

The Giants must have liked what they saw too and sent him to full season ball in 2015 where his results, pitching out of the bullpen, were much better in Augusta.  Most encouraging is the dramatic drop in his walk rate.  Scouting reports coming out of the SAL had him consistently hitting the upper 90's with the FB.

Martinez could be on a fast track as a reliever or the Giants could decide to take their time developing him and try him as a starter.  Either way, his earliest ETA is probably 2018.  He has the stuff to be a future MLB closer or even a frontline starter.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Nationals Trade Drew Storen for Ben Revere

The Washington Nationals made a mess of their bullpen last year when they acquired Jonathan Papelbon and demoted Drew Storen to the setup role even though Storen was pitching very well in the closer role.  Storen went into a funk and pitched horribly the rest of the season and Papelbon infamously got into a dugout fight with Bryce Harper.  The fallout continues as the Nationals shipped out Storen to the Blue Jays for CF Ben Revere.

The Blue Jays needed to bolster their bullpen and had too many CF's so this is a great trade for them.  Storen has 1 year of arbitration eligibility left and is projected to make about $8 M this year.  Here is his pitching line from last season:

2-2, 3.44, 55 IP, 10.96 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, 29 Saves.

Of course, pitching in Toronto and the AL East is not like pitching in Washington and in the NL East.  In addition, Storen may have to compete with Roberto Osuna for the closer role and given his reaction to losing that job in Washington, that could be a problem if the BJ's don't just hand the job to him although losing out in a competition is a bit different that what went down in Washington where he was not even given that opportunity.

You all know what Ben Revere is about.  He put up a typical Ben Revere line last year splitting time with Philadelphia and Toronto:

.306/.342/.377, 22 2B, 7 3B, 2 HR, 31 SB, 5.0 BB%, 10.1 K%, 84 R.

The Nationals did not want to go into the season with Michael Taylor as their only option in CF although you could make a case that Taylor is already a better player than Revere.  Taylor is definitely a better defender and put up double digit HR's and SB's despite a low BA and high K rate.  Revere does give the Nats a leadoff hitter, which Tayler really wasn't.  Revere has 2 years of team control left and is projected to make a little over $6 M in arbitration.

Revere is a downgrade from a healthy Denard Span, so if Span is indeed healthy, the Nationals might wish they had at least offered him a QO or else pursued an extension with him when his FA market went soft.  Looking over the Nationals roster, it appears to me that their bullpen is in terrible shape and in need of a complete rebuild, especially if they end up trading Papelbon, who does not seem to be what they need in the clubhouse there.  I suppose there is still time to get that done this offseason, but it's getting late!  They best be getting to work on that as there is no telling what Dusty might do to the SP's if he does not have faith in the bullpen!

Whew!  The Nationals seem to be a very poorly run organization with no plan that is squandering a huge investment  in Max Scherzer and a even bigger talent in Bryce Harper.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #16 Ray Black

Ray Black, RHP.  DOB:  6/26/1990.  6'5", 225 lbs.

A+:  2-1, 2.88, 25 IP, 18.3 K/9, 9.00 BB/9.
AFL:  0-2, 2.00, 9 IP, 16.00 K/9, 6.00 BB/9.

Ray Black was drafted in Round 7 of the 2011 draft out of Pittsburgh.  He then disappeared with a series of injuries over the next 2 years.  He surfaced in spring training of 2014 throwing 100 MPH.  He has continued to battle minor injuries and bouts of wildness, but continues to serve up triple digit heat.  The frightening walk rates that show up in his stat line may not be as scary as they appear at first glance.  Most of his walks in San Jose came during a trial as a SP.  Once he moved back to the pen on July 31, he made 12 one-inning appearances with 7 BB's and 20 K's.  Most of his walks in the AFL occurred in his first 3 appearances.  In his next 6, the K/BB was 12/1.  Speaking of the AFL, Black had the highest average FB velocity in the league at 99.2 MPH.  He also had the highest peak velocity at, get this, 104 MPH!

I am not sure where Black goes from here.  Most likely AA.  He does need to prove that he can stay healthy and avoid wild streaks, but I tend to be of the belief that the FB will play in MLB now and there are only so many of those in his arm.  Might as well get the benefit of them in SF now than try to develop him further only to lose out entirely from an almost inevitable career-ending injury.  One way or another, I think there is a good chance we see Ray Black in San Francisco sometime in 2016 and it will be fun to watch.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Denard Span

The Giants made what will likely be their final major move of the offseason when they agreed to terms with OF Denard Span for 3 years/$31 M plus a total of $5 M of incentives.  The deal also contains a 4'th year mutual option for $12 M with a $4 M buyout.  Span is a very good player when he is he is healthy.  A year ago, it would have been reasonable to think he might get a deal to rival the 4 year/$72 M deal that Alex Gordon just got.  Unfortunately for Span, he underwent 3 significant surgeries over the next year and played just 61 games in 2015.  The most recent was a repair of his hip labrum, which sounds scary to me.  If he stays healthy, the Giants just got a nice discount on a 3-4 fWAR player.  If he doesn't, the Giants may end up regretting this deal.  You have to believe the Giants did some homework on this and concluded the risk was worth it.  Span posted a video of himself jumping over a string of barriers, a feat that would seem to not be possible if he was having any significant problems with his hip.  In addition, the Giants will have the opportunity to put him through a physical exam.

As they did with Nori Aoki last year, the Giants signed a very similar player to Gregor Blanco.  Here is Denard Span's Steamer Projection for 2016:  .278/.337/392.  And here is Gregor Blanco's:  .261/.339/.368.  Over the course of his career, Span has averaged 3.3 fWAR/600 PA's while Blanco has averaged 3.2 over the 4 seasons he has been a Giant.  I guess there is nothing wrong with having 2 Gregor Blancos.  I mean, Gregor Blanco is a really good player and having 2 Gregor Blancos is better than having just 1.  On the other hand, if you are going to send Gregor Blanco to the bench, it might be nice to replace him with a player who is clearly better and one who is more of a power threat.

The next question is what all this means for Angel Pagan, the incumbent CF.  A healthy Denard Span is a better defensive CF than Angel Pagan and both players have spent the vast majority of their careers playing that position.  That is going to be an interesting one for Bochy to short out.  Another angle on this is that Pagan and Blanco are both free agents at the end of 2016.  Pagan will almost certainly not be back and you couldn't blame Blanco for wanting to see what  he could get on the open market after being one of the most underpaid players in all of baseball for the past 4 seasons with 2016 probably making it 5.  Span, if he can stay healthy(notice how that phrase keeps popping up), gives the Giants a bird in the hand who can play CF in 2017 and 2018, and that may be the biggest benefit to the signing.

Gotta say, I was really hoping for Cespedes, though, and short of that, letting the kids try to take the job from Blanco.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #15 Aramis Garcia

Aramis Garcia, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/12/1993.  6'2", 220 lbs.

Low A:  .273/.350/.467, 15 HR, 9.6 BB%, 21.2 K%.
A+:  .227/.310/.280, 0 HR, 10.7 BB%, 26.2 K%.

This was Aramis Garcia's first full pro season after being drafted out of Florida International U in Round 2 of the 2014 draft.  It was somewhat of a roller coaster year as he started out cold in Augusta with a .176 BA in April, but steadily improved to .250 in May, .282 in June and .324 in August.  He hit .294 in 4 games in August.  As his bat heated up, he also went on a power binge hitting 11 of his 15 HR's from June 1 through the 4 games in August.  That got him a late season promotion to San Jose where he again struggled at the plate to a .227 BA in the regular season.  Then he hit .333 with 2 HR's in the Cal League posteason to finish on a high note.

I saw him play on 8/24 in San Bernardino.  My first impression upon seeing him was "Whoa!  He is big!"  He looks to be an inch or two taller than 6'2" and he is easily 220 lbs, although his weight is very well proportioned and he looks like an athlete.  He may be a guy who takes awhile to get going at each level, but as you can see from his HR binge in Augusta, the power potential is exciting.  I believe Joe Ritzo has raved about his defense too.  Garcia looks like a future starting MLB catcher who can hit you 25 HR's or more.  ETA is 2018 or 2019.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Alex Gordon Re-Signs With the Royals

The World Series Champion Kansas City Royals agreed to terms of a free agent contract with OF Alex Gordon for 4 years/$72 M.  This is a surprisingly team friendly deal well below the $100 M threshold that many analysts predicted for Gordon.   There may be multiple reasons why Gordon's market was so weak:  1.  He was one of the older free agents at 32 yo by the time the season starts.  2.  Teams with money to spend, such as the Giants, already spent heavily on pitching and may not have a lot of cashish left to spend on a frontline OF.   3.  Gordon is coming off a down season marred by injuries which may or may not tie in with the age concern.

I think this is a very reasonable deal for KC.  I am relieved the Giants did not try to top it with a 5 year offer as that contract would have almost certainly gone bad on the back end.

This contract probably represents a floor for Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton as both of those players are younger and have significantly more power.  On the other hand, you have to wonder if either Cespedes or Upton will get $100 M with the floor being so far below.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #14 Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson, RHP.  DOB:  9/15/1993.  6'3", 175 lbs.

Rookie:  0-1, 1.54, 23.1 IP, 12.34 K/9, 0.39 BB/9, GO/AO= 2.89.
Short Season:  0-1, 3.86, 4.2 IP, 11.57 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.00.
A+:  2-3, 4.31, 31.1 IP, 9.48 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.27.

Jordan Johnson is an unheralded 2014 23'rd round draftee out Cal State Northridge where he had battled injuries.  He made just one pro appearance in 2014 and got a late start on 2015, but once he got going, he definitely made up for lost time!  He dominated the AZL, made a one appearance stop in Salem-Keizer then jumped all the way to high A San Jose and more than held his own.  In addition to his regular season line listed above, he appeared in 3 postseason contests recording 23 K's against 6 BB's in 16.2 IP.  His best game with SJ came in the Championship series against Rancho Cucamonga as he pitched 6 scoreless frames with 9 K's and just 1 BB.

I saw him pitch in San Bernardino on 8/24, so I went back and looked up my notes from that game.  It was not one of his better statistical games, but he scouted very well.  I said he looked to be heavier and stronger than his listed 175 lbs.  He showed loose, whippy arm action which produced a FB that sat 93-94 MPH and ranged from 91-95.  He had a hard and soft breaking ball, probably a slider and a curve with nice action on both pitches.  I saw just one pitch that I thought might be a changeup, but it was a good one.

He'll probably start the 2016 season back in SJ.  His biggest challenge will be staying healthy and ramping up his innings.  His ceiling is #3-4 MLB SP, but would also make a nice long man out of the bullpen.  ETA is probably late 2018 at the earliest but more likely 2019.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #13 Andrew Suarez

Andrew Suarez, LHP.  DOB:  9/11/1992.  6'2", 210 lbs.

Rookie:  0-0, 1.80, 5 IP, 10.80 K/9, 1.80 BB/9.
Short Season:  1-0, 1.40, 19.1 IP, 6.98 K/9, 0.93 BB/9.
A+:  1-0, 1.80, 15 IP, 9.60 K/9, 1.20 BB/9.

Suarez was the Giants 2'nd round draft pick in 2015 out of Miami.  He had been drafted in round 2 by the Nationals in 2014, but did not sign.  He is big for a lefty and pounds the strike zone with a low 90's FB that has reached 95 MPH.  He mixes in an advanced slider and changeup to give him a complete 3 pitch mix.  Impressively, he did not have any trouble pitching in the Cal League essentially out of the box.  In addition to his listed stat lines above, he threw 9 IP in the Cal League playoffs allowing 3 ER with 7 K's and just 1 BB.  He'll probably start 2016 in San Jose, but I could see the Giants being aggressive with him and bumping him to AA.  His ceiling is probably MLB #3 starter, but he is advanced enough to reach that level quickly.  ETA is probably 2018, but again, he could move more quickly than that.  He had shoulder labrum surgery as a college freshman but appears to have completely recovered.  He missed some time early in the 2015 college season with an oblique strain.

Monday, January 4, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #12 Sam Coonrod

Sam Coonrod, RHP.  DOB:  9/22/1992.  6'2", 225 lbs.

Low A:  7-5, 3.14, 111.2 IP, 9.19 K/9, 2.74 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.22.

Coonrod is another hard throwing RHP who sits in the mid-90's with the FB and hits up to 98 MPH.  He had a reputation for having poor command in college, but walks have not been a problem so far in the pros.  Wouldn't be the first time the Giants tweaked something out of the gate and solved a big command problem, although I don't know that it happened that way.  Coonrod's numbers were a whole lot better than the excellent line he shows above until he seemed to hit a wall in August.  The Giants backed him off and used him for just 1 inning out of the bullpen over a 2 week period.  He came back strong in 3 final starts throwing 17 innings while allowing 5 ER with 20 K's against just 4 BB's.  He then got a call to help out San Jose in the Cal League playoffs where he started 2 games and allowed 3 ER in 9.2 IP with 9 K's and 3 BB's.

Whereas Chase Johnson is tall and lanky, Coonrod is much stockier, but his weight is well proportions with a ton of strength in his butt, hips and thighs.  This makes for stiffer, tighter arm action, but he still generates tremendous rotational arm speed with moderate  high effort.

He's another guy who, if he repeats what he did in 2015 at a higher level, could be leading the pack of Giants pitching prospects by next year.  Ceiling is probably #2 SP in MLB.  He could also end up in a MLB bullpen and could be a future closer.  ETA is probably 2018.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Blake Snell

Blake Snell, LHP.  DOB: 12/4/1992.  6'4", 180 lbs.  Organization:  Rays

A+:  3-0, 0.00, 21 IP, 11.57 K/9, 4.71 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.43.
AA:  6-2, 1.57, 68.2 IP, 10.35 K/9, 3.80 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.24.
AAA:  6-2, 1.83, 44.1 IP, 11.57 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.29.

Blake Snell was drafted in the compensation first round out of HS in Washington state.  He moved slowly at first and the Rays were patient with him, but the raw talent was always there.  He had an explosive breakout in 2015 after starting the season with 21 scoreless frames in high A ball.  He pitched another 25 scoreless innings to begin his AA experience for a total of 46 consecutive scoreless IP.  As you can see, his command improved with each higher level.  He was eventually named Minor League Player of the Year by both BA and Fox Sports.

Snell has filled out his lanky frame considerably and is almost certainly heavier than his listed weight of 180 lbs.  He maximizes his height advantage with a high 3/4 release point that produces an extreme downhill plane.  His FB sits mid 90's and his is not afraid to come inside to RH hitters with it.  He also has a slider, curveball and changeup that are all average to plus offerings.

The Rays have a surplus of SP's at the MLB level, so there is no need for them to rush Snell.  He will likely start the 2016 season in AAA to solidify the gains he made last year.  If he pitches like he did in 2015, he will force the issue by midseason and get the call.  He will be rosterable immediately in all fantasy formats.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #11 Chase Johnson

Chase Johnson, RHP.  DOB:  1/9/1992.  6'3", 185 lbs.

A+:  8-3, 2.43, 111 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.61.
AA:  1-1, 5.93, 13.2 IP, 11.85 K/9, 5.27 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.40.

Here's where I think writing about Giants prospects gets interesting.  Chase Johnson is generally considered to be part of a large "second tier" of Giants pitching prospects except the talent is there for him to be at the top of the first tier if he keeps up this type of performance.  Johnson has always had the tools with a FB that sits in the mid-90's and tops out at about 98 MPH.  His secondary pitches are not as consistent, but can be strikeout pitches at times.  What he lacks is a track record of consistency, something he made significant progress on in 2015.  Moving up from the pitcher-friendly SAL to the hitter-friendly Cal League, his numbers improved across the board, most notably his BB rate and he maintained it through the season.  He allowed 5 ER in 4 IP in his first AA start, but that came with a 9/2 K/BB.  I would expect Chase Johnson to start 2016 back in Richmond where he will try to solidify the consistency he found in San Jose last year.  He has enough stuff to have a ceiling as a #1 starter although his size and stamina may be a barrier.  He also could end up in a MLB bullpen where he has the stuff to be a closer.  ETA could be as early as late 2016 but more likely 2017 or even 2018.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #10 Austin Slater

Austin Slater, 2B/OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/13/1992.  6'1", 194 lbs.

A+:  .292/.321/.396, 15 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 4 SB, 3.8 BB%, 16.6 K%, 265 PA.
AA:  .296/.350/.362, 11 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 1 SB, 6.4 BB%, 22.0 K%, 218 PA.
AFL:  .250/.338/.338, 4 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 SB, 12.5 BB%, 23.8 K%, 80 PA.

This is an aggressive ranking for Slater which I am not at all sure is justified.  He doesn't walk a lot and he has shown no HR power to speak of.  What he does do is hit for average with doubles power.  A BA of about .300 in the Eastern League will get you noticed and the Giants have had a huge amount of success with hitters who have a similar profile.  On the other hand, how much more room do they have for that type of player on the MLB roster?  Slater could go back to AA for a half season or so or he could move up to AAA to start the 2016 season.  His ceiling is a .300 hitter with gap power.  ETA is midseason 2016 or 2017 depending on organizational needs.

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Jose Berrios

Jose Berrios, RHP.  DOB:  5/27/1994.  6'0", 190 lbs.  Organization:  Minnesota Twins.

AA:  8-3, 3.08, 90.2 IP, 9.13 K/9, 2.38 BB/9.
AAA:  6-2, 2.62, 75.2 IP, 9.87 K/9, 1.67 BB/9.

The Twins drafted Berrios #32 overall in the 2012 draft out of HS in Puerto Rico.  He has performed well at every level in the minors.  Last year was his best pro season, splitting time between AA and AAA levels.  He finished particularly strong with 32 K's against just 2 BB's in 25 IP in his last 4 AAA starts.  He is not big for a pitcher, but looks sturdy on the mound.  He maximizes his height with an over-the-top delivery.  He's a hard thrower with a FB that runs in the mid-high 90's.  He likes to work up the the zone.  He also throws a sharp breaking slider on a steep downward plane plus a slow curveball.  His changeup is good enough to keep hitters off the FB.

As John Sickels says, "he is ready now."  The Twins may play some service time games and send him down to start 2016, but he will pitch most of 2016 in the majors, barring injury, of course.  He will be immediately rosterable upon activation to the 25 man MLB roster even in 10 team re-draft leagues, and if you are reading this, there is a good chance you will be the only manager in your league who has heard of him.

Friday, January 1, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #9 Chris Shaw

Chris Shaw, 1B/OF.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  10/20/1993.  6'3", 230 lbs.

Short Season:  .287/.360/.551, 12 HR, 9.5 BB%, 20.5 K%, 200 PA.

Chris Shaw was the Giants 2015 compensation round pick at #31 overall.  He is a slugging 1B/OF from Boston College whose draft stock may have slipped due to a hamate injury.  The injury did not seem to sap his power as he led the NWL in HR's in his initial pro experience.  NWL success is not always a predictor of future success, but everything, including the K's and BB's looks in order here.  I would expect an assignment to San Jose for 2016.  At this point, Shaw appears to be one of two premier power hitting prospect in the Giants minor league system along with Mac Williamson.  1B is likely his longterm position.  His ceiling is 30 dingers per season.  ETA would be 2018 at the earliest.