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Saturday, January 25, 2014

GBB's 2014 Giants Top-20 Prospects: 11-20

In what's shaping up to be one of the quietest wind downs to an offseason in recent memory, it's been tough to come by intriguing topics to talk about. However, with Spring Training less than a month away and things bound to start heating up soon, I figured we'd take a glance down at the farm and check out some names we may become more familiar with in the next year.

Here are the Giants top prospects, number 11-20, as we see them in 2014:

20) Adam Duval, 2B: The 25 year-old has more home runs than any other player in the Giants organization over the last 3 years, and although he's getting a little up their in age to be considered an elite prospect, he looks like he could very well become a useful role player at the big league level in the next year or two. He's sort of the middle infield version of Brett Pill, although I'd like to see his average take a spike.

2013 Line: 385 AB's, .258, 17 HR, 55 RBI, .785 OPS (AA Richmond)

19) Josh Osich, LHP: After a terrific start in San Jose, the 25 year-old Osich had some hiccups in AA Richmond in the second half of 2013. Still, he's left-handed with a solid repertoire and is on a short list of possible relievers who could contribute to the big club in 2014. Look for him to start in AAA Fresno.

2013: 56 G, 70 IP, 5-4, 3.47 ERA, 76 K, 22 BB, 15 S, 1.14 WHIP (A+, AA)

18) Angel Villalona, 1B: Once the organizations top-prospect, Villalona hasn't quite found his stroke since rejoining the Giants after legal troubles kept him away from the team for 2 years. He's still got as much power as ever (22 HR in 2013), but his contact rate and batting average need a spike. At 23, he's still got some time to get everything figured out though. It should be very interesting to see how his bat holds up for a full year in Richmond, though he could make his way up to Fresno before the years done.

2013: 480 AB's, .231 avg.,111 hits, 22 hr, 70 rbi, .701 OPS (A+, AA)

17) Ryder Jones, 3B: The Giants 2nd pick in the 2013 draft gets this slot based mostly on potential upside. He did hit .317 in rookie ball, but has some work to do with his approach at the plate and his power has yet to really develop. He'll be someone I watch closely in 2014 though as he's likely slated to start in Salem.

2013: 145 AB's, .317 avg., 46 hits, 1 hr, 18 rbi, .794 OPS (Rookie League)

16) Gary Brown, CF: Speaking of former top-prospects, Brown was rated number one in the organization as recent as 2011, but has dropped significantly after two sub-par years. Now at age 25, the 2014 season has become extremely pivotal as it will likely signify whether Brown will make himself relevant again, or start down the path towards becoming a career minor-leaguer. In order for him to bounce back, he's got to re-discover his strike zone and has to improve his base-running.

2013: 558 AB's, 129 hits, 79 runs, .231 avg., 13 HR, 50 RBI, 17 SB, .660 OPS (AAA Fresno)

15) Joe Panik, 2B: Much like Brown, Panik has seen his stock fall the last couple of years, although he grades out better because he's younger and a little more polished than Brown. He didn't tear up the Eastern League in 2013, but he was adequate, and will have some expectations in Fresno for 2014. If he starts the year on a tear, he could make his way to the big club at some point in this season.

2013: 522 AB's, 134 hits, 64 runs, .257 avg., 4 hr, 57 rbi, 10 SB, .680 OPS (AA Richmond)

14) Joan Gregorio, RHP: Gregorio is intriguing for a number of reasons. He's got that intimidating size at 6'7", and has very good command to go with plus stuff. He hasn't quite put up the numbers yet to make him a top-10 guy in my mind, but he's more than capable of doing so. I expect the 22 year-old to thrive in San Jose in 2014, like many other Giants' starters have done the past few years.

2013: 14 G, 69 IP, 6-3, 4.00 era, 84 k, 17 bb, 1.17 WHIP (A Augusta) 

13) Kendry Flores, RHP: While he doesn't quite posses the quality of stuff that Keury Mella does, Flores has the some of the best control in the Giants system. He walked just 17 in over 140 innings of work last season and kept improving as the season went on. All of the sudden, he's pushing top-10 prospect status and many think he's already made it. It should be interesting to see how the hitting friendly California League treats him in 2014, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the 22 year-old rocket through the system based on that uncanny command.

2013: 22 G, 141 IP, 10-6, 2.73 era, 137 k, 17 bb, 0.92 WHIP (A Augusta)

12) Keury Mella, RHP: The 20 year-old has done nothing but impress since the Giants signed him two years ago, and looks like he's ready to gain some real attention in 2014. He's already got good stuff, with a fastball that hits the mid-90's and a sharp-breaking slider, and he should only improve those, while adding others to his arsenal, over the next few years. Could start 2014 in Salem or Augusta, although San Jose could be in his very near future.

2013: 10 G, 36 IP, 3-2, 2.25 era, 41 k, 11 bb, 1.25 WHIP (Rookie League)

11) Derek Law, RHP: Rounding out our 11-20 countdown at 11 is the Giants' new top-rated reliever. In my mind, Heath Hembree is going to be a Giant, if not to begin 2014, shortly thereafter, so Law now takes the reigns as the best short-reliever in the minor league system. He had an absolute breakout 2013 campaign, thriving at all three stops and especially stood out in San Jose. Just take a look at his '13 numbers below. It wouldn't surprise me to see the 23 year-old closing at some point for Fresno in 2014, and very well could make his big league debut by seasons end should he keep up last year's pace.

2013: 46 G, 66 IP, 5-3, 2.31 era, 102 k, 12 bb, 14 sv, 0.95 WHIP (RL, A, A+)

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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Giants add Dontrelle Willis on Minor League deal

After a quiet holiday season and kick off to 2014, the Giants did make some headlines Friday by agreeing to a minor league deal with one-time Marlin's sensation, Dontrelle Willis.

It will be the second time in four years that the former Marlin's ace will join the organization. In 2010, he pitched five games in relief for Fresno before asking to be released. He then went on to go 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts with the Reds in 2011, which was the last time he pitched in the big leagues. Obviously, the Giants' starting rotation is already set, so Willis won't have any shot at making the 25-man roster out of the gate, but the Giants are hoping they can get him back to the point where he could at least provide an option for them should they need an extra starter at some point down the road. The thing is, Willis has been terrible at every stop outside of independent ball over the last couple of years, and there's a good chance he won't make any impact whatsoever for the club, just like in 2010. With that said, the Giants have had some success with reclamation projects over the last few years, from their comeback "poster boy", Ryan Vogelsong, to smaller scale rebounds like Chad Gaudin's and Yusmeiro Petit's in 2013. They would have preferred Mark Mulder under similar circumstances, but couldn't get him to ink a minor league deal, so Dontrelle Willis will be their project for 2014.

Will the D-Train become the next Ryan Vogelsong? Probably not. But he's 32, has had some success in the past and we've all seen much stranger things happen. Plus, there's no risk in the signing, so even if he flames out a la 2010, it's not like it cost the Giants big money or a roster spot. Extremely low-risk, potentially decent reward type of signing.

This all comes down to the Giants wanting Major League ready depth in their starting rotation. They ran into issues with their starting pitching depth last season and had to force guys that weren't nearly ready to face Major League hitters to try and give them quality innings. Unfortunately, they won't have Chad Gaudin around this year to help them out, and could very well lose Yusmeiro Petit, who's out of minor league options. The problem they're running into is finding halfway decent starting pitchers to sign minor league deals and they don't have space to spare on their 40-man roster. Ideally, they'll find some way to keep Petit in the organization because he's their 6th starter at the moment, and if they lose him, Willis would be as logical a choice as any to take that spot (until Edwin Escobar is ready at least). Petit could have a roll on the opening day roster as the long reliever, which is something Bochy said he would like to carry in 2014. The Giants bullpen is somewhat up in air after Romo, Casilla, Affeldt and Lopez, and although there are some intriguing bullpen options remaining on the market, the Giants work in free agency (at the major league level anyway), appears done for the winter. Petit's ability to start and his lack of minor league options could place him on the opening day roster by default, especially if he has a productive spring.

While on the topic of starting pitching reclamation projects, another guy who's floating around out there who I'd be all for rolling the dice on is Tommy Hanson. I haven't really mentioned him because he's never really pitched in releif, but I'd love to bring him in and have him battle it out with Petit for that long reliever spot. A shift back to the NL and a spacious yard like AT&T could be just what Hanson needs to regain form that had him as one of the NL's best right-handers just a couple years ago. If he got close to that form, he'd probably even become a better option than Vogey in the 5th spot. At 27 years of age, he's more than capable of bouncing back, and could end up being one of the steals of the offseason for whoever takes a chance on him should that happen.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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