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Friday, December 26, 2008

Giants top 20 Prospects: GBB Edition

John Sickels, who covers minor league ball for the Sports Bloggers Nation as well as minorleaguebaseball.com, came out with his annual top prospect list this past week and his Giants list had a few odd choices for his top 20. One of which was Waldis Joaquin ranked 9th. Joaquin has some upside and has a good young arm, don't get me wrong, but there are a lot more accomplished prospects in this organization that didn't make it onto the list, such as the Cal League's minor league pitcher of the year, Kevin Pucetas. I figured I would go ahead and rank the Giants top 20 prospects in the order I believe they should be at this point in time. Take into mind that I am not including any of the players who have debuted for the Giants (outside of Connor Gillaspie) so Pablo Sandoval, Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz, Emmanuel Burris, Sergio Romo etc. won't qualify for my list. Because I could literally make a whole post on each prospect, I am going to try and keep things short and simple. So here we go:

1. LHP Madison Bumgarner: The imposing lefty is quickly gaining national recognition as one of the premiere pitching prospects in all of baseball. His stuff got better and he got tougher to hit as the year wore on which bodes well for his advancement status. The Giants are hoping he'll be a fast tracker like the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and will be up contributing to the team in 2010 at age 20.

2. IF Angel Villalona: The 18 year old 3B/1B'men was the organizations number 1 rated prospect heading into 2008. He didn't dominate last year in the way that they were hoping, but still had a respectable season in low-A ball, .264, 17 hr, 64 RBI in 465 ab's, which isn't bad when you consider he played the season at age 17 (turned 18 in September) against prospects that were mostly 19-22 years old. Still 2-3 years away, but still ahead of the curb for his age and has the potential to hit for average as well as 25-30 home runs a year should he develop accordingly, maybe more. I can't help but think of Miguel Cabrera when thinking about what young Villalona can be. He probably won't end up being quite as good, but has that kind of talent. His big issue right now, like with a lot of very young power hitters, is cutting down on his k's. (118 last season compared to only 18 walks)

3. C-IF Buster Posey: The #5 overall pick from the 2008 amateur draft is already making noise as he had a terrific winter league in Hawaii. He signed late in 2008 and didn't get to do much in the minors, but he should start out in San Jose (high-A ball) in '09 with the chance at advancing as quickly as his play will allow him, which means I wouldn't completely count out the chance of him making a cameo with the big club late in '09. Best catching prospect since Joe Mauer and I think he'll end up even better than the Twins young backstop. Outside chance he could end up at 3rd or 1st base, depending on team needs, but should stay behind the plate, where he's well above average as a defender and thrower.

4. RHP Tim Alderson: Tim #2 has a wacky delivery in his own right, but the 6'6" righty just looks dominating and those looks aren't deceiving. He doesn't have quite the upside of MadBum, but kind of reminds me of a mix between Cain and Lincecum. Has more of Cain's size and stuff, and has a Lincecum-type unorthodox pitching style. He is right up there with the best pitching prospects in the game though, and is a little more polished then MadBum. Should start in AA but like the other top guys, his play will determine how quickly he advances. I think we could see him late in 2009 if he pitches again like he did last season.

5. 3B Connor Gillaspie: Rounding out the top 5 is the solid all-around player, Connor Gillaspie. The Giants think so highly of his ability at the dish that they gave him a call-up last season in September which tells me we could be seeing a lot of the '08 supplemental pick in orange and black in 2009. Everyone compares him to a little bigger version of Billy Mueller, which isn't bad at all, but I think he has potential to be a little better than Billy was. Whether he realizes it is the million (or 2.5 for him) dollar question, but I'd say chances are on his side.

6. 2B Nick Noonan: He played decently in Augusta in '08 and the 19 year-old should keep improving. He plays very good defense, and had a decent year with the bat hitting .279, showing a little pop (9 hr), and the ability to drive in some runs (68), which are nice qualities to have in a middle infielder. He also had 29 stolen bases in '08 and has 47 swipes in 54 attempts compiled in 171 minor league contests. Needles to say, his defense, ability at the plate and base running make him one of the more fundamentally sound players in the organization now and he's only 19 years old. He still needs to cut down on the k's and learn the strike zone a little more before he can be considered an elite middle infield prospect and start climbing the ladder too quickly.

7. RHP Kevin Pucetas:
The freshly turned 24 year-old didn't even make Sickels' list, but Pucetas won Cal League pitcher of the year award in '08 throwing in a league with some of the top pitching (and hitting for that matter) prospects in baseball. His career record as a minor leaguer alone has him in this spot: 32-7, 2.47 era, 267 k's compared to 69 bb's in 343 minor league innings. He doesn't throw 95 MPH, which may be why he hasn't gotten the national attention that he deserves, but he's been the Greg Maddux of the lower minors over his career cause he flat out wins and he throws strikes. Has outside shot at making the team in 2009, but I think he'll probably end up in Fresno for the start.

8. LHP Jesse English: The 24 year-old lefty has already dealt with a career pausing injury (took away either most or all of his '03-'06 seasons) and has come back strong. The big lefty has always had strikeout potential (11.2 k's/9 IP) and really put it together as a full time starter last season. Again, the injury back-up forced him to backtrack his development so even though he was drafted in '02 and just turned 24, he's only had two full, healthy minor league seasons ('02 & '08) and in those seasons he's dominated. He was used as a reliever when healthy in '07 and had 57 k's in 34 innings. Should start '09 in either AA or in Fresno.

9. OF Rafael Rodriguez: 16 years-old and freshly signed out of the Dominican, so he hasn't done much in the states to go off of yet, but according to Felipe Alou, has Vladimir Guerrero type potential. He certainly has the size already (6'5", 198 lbs) and I can't wait to see him play in Salem and Augusta this coming summer. Could end up jumping into the teams top 5 prospect mix by next winter, as the Giants fell he is every bit as good as Angel Villalona when they signed him a couple of years back.

10. RHP Henry Sosa: The 23 year-old righty finished off the 2007 season so well that the Giants were hoping for big things in '08, but an arm injury kept Sosa out until late in the season. '09 now becomes a big year for him as he needs to take that next step and show the ability to pitch at a higher level than just A ball. His minor league career and his potential reminds me a lot of Jonathan Sanchez's at that point in his career. He just has to trust his stuff and throw strikes earlier in counts and he'll be fine.

11. 3B Jesus Guzman: The 24 year old was signed away from the A's in hopes that he could challenge for the 3b job in San Francisco this coming season, and he could end up being a steal. Has been scary good with the bat over his last 2 minor league seasons including a Texas League batting championship in '08 (.364) and a .300, 25 hr, 112 RBI season in the Cal League in '07. Anytime you hit .364 in a season, you know your a player and I completely expect to see Guzman take off. He's also setting records in the VWL as we speak. At 24, and with 5 minor league seasons under his belt though, it's time for the youngster to take that next step as he's entering the final phase of prospect status. Even if he starts the season in Fresno though, he should be an in-season call-up at some point. I'm really looking forward to seeing him play/progress in 2009.

12. LHP Clayton Tanner: Another member of San Jose's dominant starting rotation from 2008 as he (20 during the season) and Alderson (19) were the young guns on the staff. The lefty has been rock solid since he was drafted in the 3rd round in '06. Not quite the upside of Alderson, Sosa and MadBum, but certainly has the ability to become a decent big league starter, maybe along the lines of a Noah Lowry if he can realize the potential he has and keep improving. He's got the control and consistency. Could be in the top 5-7 team prospects after the season.

13. LHP Ben Snyder: 23 year-old lefty would have probably landed in the top 10 easily had he pitched better after being promoted from A to AA last season. Carried an era barely over 2 in his first 2 seasons in A ball, including going 8-3 with a 2.00 era and 73 K's with only 18 BB's in 14 starts and 85 innings pitched with San Jose last season before heading to AA and struggling for the most of the second half of '08. Still carries a 29-15 record with a 2.89 era in 2+ minor league seasons though, so he's been successful overall. 2009 will be a crucial year for him, like it will be for Sosa, as the Giants are really trying to figure out just exactly what they have in these guys. Snyder was San Jose's best starting pitcher when he was there, and that says a lot, especially when he was in the same rotation as English, Pucetas and Alderson.

14. LHP Scott Barnes: The 21 year-old left kind of came out of nowhere last season and put up numbers comparable to those of Madison Bumgarner's in his short stint in Augusta (3-2, 1.38 era, 0.67 WHIP and 41 k's to 7 bb's in 33 IP) after pitching a full season in the St. Johns University starting rotation where he held a career record of 17-7 with a 3.24 era and 273 k's in 249 innings pitched. Sure, he's 2 years older than Madison, but '08 was his first season as a pro too, and he really gained everyones attention with the way he finished it off. Probably stays in San Jose for at least most of 2009, if not all, as the Giants like their pitchers to throw a full season at some level of A ball before advancing.

15. SS Ehire Adrianza: The 19 year-old had only 66 at-bats in 2008 and they were all spread out between Rookie League, low-A ball (Augusta) and Fresno, but showed his upside: decent bat, patience and great defense. He's another one who I'm going to be very interested to follow in 2009 as it's still not clear just exactly what he's able to do. Still he held his own in a few games in Fresno at 18 which has to give him a boost of confidence.

16-20:
16. RHP Kelvin Pichardo (23 years old, power reliever) 17. RHP Edwin Quirarte (21, power reliever) 18. OF Wendell Fairley (20, all-around outfielder) 19. SS Brandon Crawford (21, all-around SS) 20. OF Roger Kieschnick (21, power hitting outfielder).
_________________________________________________

17 Comments:

  • At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Cool, I haven't heard of a lot of these guys. Good article. Did you know the Giants just signed Randy Johnson tonight too? Go Giants.

     
  • At 3:41 AM, Anonymous J-Bill said…

    Bumgarner was the most dominant pitcher in the minors last season. This kid is amazing and will be the second best pitcher on the team when he gets called up, behind Tim "Cy Young" Lincecum. I hope Bumgarner will be in spring training with the Giants cause he could learn from the big unit too now that he's a Giant.

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger rxmeister said…

    very interesting stuff, thanks for writing it. One question though. You said Rafael Rodriguez would be at Augusta next year. Have they actually said that?? It seems like a big jump for a kid who not only just turned 16, but came in late. I would think he would spend 2009 in extended spring training and then go play in the rookie leagues in Arizona.

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger rxmeister said…

    very interesting stuff, thanks for writing it. One question though. You said Rafael Rodriguez would be at Augusta next year. Have they actually said that?? It seems like a big jump for a kid who not only just turned 16, but came in late. I would think he would spend 2009 in extended spring training and then go play in the rookie leagues in Arizona.

     
  • At 7:43 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    Rx-

    They haven't confirmed that with Rodriguez yet, but I'd assume he'll start there, even though he'd be a year younger than everyone else. They could start him out in Salem. I don't think they'll keep him in Arizona though, I think they want to get him going. Agian, though, this is just speculation on my part. Haven't gotten any confirmation.

    Also, I like the RJ signing too. I think he could do wonders in this yard if the cold weather doesn't effect him, and I don't think it will be an issue. I see big things for Johnson in '09.

     
  • At 12:37 AM, Anonymous sfgiantsfan said…

    I hear the Giants may trade Sanchez now that they signed Johnson and then put Pucetas into the 5th spot in the rotation. Why trade Sanchez? They have the potential to be such a good staff.

     
  • At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Jack said…

    Don't trade Jonathan Sanchez. please.

    He has progressing in his control, he's named to #4 K% in NL of 2008 (higher than Randy Johnson),he is a lifty that mean he need more chance.

     
  • At 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love the minor league talk. I wish there were more good minor league blogs out there that only focused on minor league ball. Here's how I'd rank my top 10 for the Giants.

    1. Bumgarner
    2. Posey
    3. Alderson
    4. Villilona
    5. Gillaspie
    6. Sosa
    7. Rodriguez
    8. Noonan
    9. Tanner
    10. Snyder

     
  • At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oops, forgot about Pucetas, I guess I'd rank him 8th behind R. Rodriguez, then Noonan at 9 and Tanner at 10.

     
  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    Yeah, you can really rank the top 5 in any order you'd like, outside of having MadBum at #1. I like Villalona at 2 becuase he's still 4 years younger than Buster Posey and has already gotten some seasoning in the minors. A lot of people like buster at 2 or even Alderson at 2, and I woudn't really argue with them.

     
  • At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Posey the best C prospect since Joe Mauer? Um Matt Weiters anyone?? Still a solid overall article though, thanks.

     
  • At 2:47 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    I'm well aware of Wieters, just don't think he's at the level Posey's at. Did Wieters win the Golden Spikes Award? Would he have been a #1 overall pick if the team picking wasn't worried about the signing bonus which is why Posey fell to the Giants at 5 anyway? Wieters is good but I'd rather have buster.

     
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