Saturday, December 31, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #27 Gustavo Cabrera

Gustavo Cabrera, OF.  DOB:  1/23/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 190 lbs. International FA.

2013 DSL:  .247/.329/.360, 7 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 21 SB, 13.1 BB%, 23.6 K%, 229 PA.
2015 AZL:  .286/..375/.571, 3B, 12.5 BB%, 25 K%, 8 PA.
2016 A:  .246/.285/.434, 4 2B, 3B, SB, 6.7 BB%, 21.3 K%, 25 PA.
2016 SS:  .232/.293/.319, 9 2B, 3B, 4 HR, SB, 3.8 BB%, 32.3 K%, 130 PA.

We all know the Gustavo Cabrera story.  He just might have both the highest ceiling and lowest floor of any prospect in the Giants system.  A physical marvel with every tool, he desperately needs to stay on the field for a full season's worth of PA's.  The hand remains a significant concern on top of all the usual assortment of risks facing a young toolsy player.  Where and when he shows up to play as well as his health will be one of the more important Down on the Farm stories in 2017.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #26 Kelvin Beltre

Kelvin Beltre, 3B.  DOB:  9/25/1996.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 170 lbs.  International FA.

2014 DSL:  .235/.430/.441, 5 2B, 3 HR, 7 SB, 23.7 BB%, 11.8 K%, 93 PA.
2015 AZL:  .239/.375/.348, 2 2B, HR, 3 SB, 14.3 BB%, 30.4 K%, 56 PA.
2016 AZL:  .333/.360/.583, 4 2B, 3B, SB, 3.8 BB%, 15.4 K%, 26 PA.
2016 A:  .250/.329/.406, 14 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 7 SB, 7.4 BB%, 29.2 K%, 216 PA.

One glance at Kelvin Beltre's stat lines tells you what his biggest problem as a prospect has been:  Injuries!  In 3 seasons since signing as an international FA, he's accumulated about 1/2 season of PA, total.  When you are a young prospect with tools who needs to develop skills, the injuries can be a career killer.   On the other hand, when you look at those lines and squint, you can see flashes of something to dream on, starting with the XBH's and SB's.  Before in injury that cost him all of July and most of June and August, he slashed .333/405/.576 over 9 games in June and he hit .333 over his last 10 games of the season between Arizona and Augusta.

Beltre desperately needs a full season of good health.  If he can get that, the sky is the limit!

Friday, December 30, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #25 Jalen Miller

Jalen Miller, 2B.  DOB:  12/19/1996.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 175 lbs.  Drafted in 2015 Round 3 HS.

2015 R:  .218/.292/.259, 5 2B, 3B, 0 HR, 11 SB, 8.6 BB%, 21.3 K%, 197 PA.
2016 A:  .223/.271/.322, 20 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 11 SB, 5.2 BB%, 21.4 K%, 500 PA.

What you think if Jalen Miller as a prospect probably depends on whether you are someone who focuses on deficiencies and what a player can't or doesn't do, or whether you are someone who focuses on what they can do or have done well.  Glass half empty or half full?  Take one look at those BA's and OBP's and you might just stop there and say he's not a prospect.  If you dig a bit deeper, though, you might find some things to like and maybe even dream on:  1. Augusta was an aggressive assignment for a 19 yo less than a full year out of HS, especially considering his struggles in Rookie ball.  2. Augusta is an extreme pitcher-friendly environment especially in suppressing power.  3.  Miller did complete the full season with Augusta, more than can be said for several other prospects at the same stage in their career, including Christian Arroyo.  4.  The 30 XBH's is actually impressive and shows he was able to at times hit the ball with authority.  The 20 2B was #2 on the team and the 5 3B was tied for #1.

Miller is a solidly built, athlete with some room for added strength.  He has an average arm and average speed which probably precludes him from playing SS or CF at the MLB level, but his "fast-twitch" athleticism plays well at the Keystone Bag and should allow him to become a plus defender at the position.  I have read positive reports of eyewitnesses to his Instructional League work this fall.  He could probably benefit from another season in Augusta where he would still be a full year younger than the average player in the league.  The Giants do not have any obvious options for 2B in SJ and they also need to find a full season spot for Kevin Rivera, so I would not be shocked if the Giants challenge Miller with an assignment to San Jose, especially if they like what they see in Instructionals and Spring Training.  I am personally bullish on Jalen Miller and think there is a breakout in his future, possibly as early as 2017!

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #24 Cory Taylor

Cory Taylor, RHP.  DOB:  12/14/1993.  6'2", 255 lbs.  Drafted 2015 Round 8 out of Dallas Baptist U.

2015 SS:  2-0, 2.45, 33 IP, 3.27 BB/9, 13.64 K/9, GO/AO= 1.87.
2016 A:  9-5, 2.58, 97.2 IP, 2.30 BB/9, 9.22 K/9, GO/AO= 1.78.
2016 AA:  1-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 3.86 BB/9, 7.50 K/9, GO/AO= 1.50.
2016 A+:  1-1, 6.75, 9.1 IP, 3.86 BB/9, 10.61 K/9, GO/AO= 1.13.

Cory Taylor was used as a multiple inning reliever in his first pro summer after being drafted by the Giants.  He was moved into a starting role in his first full pro season starting with the Augusta Greenjackets.  He made the most of that opportunity, then had two excellent late season starts for AA Richmond before stumbling a bit with SJ at the very end of the season.  We'll chalk up the stumble to SSS and late season fatigue.

Taylor is stocky, but in the video I saw, he did not look like he weighs 255 lbs.  I would estimate more 220-230.  I don't have much of a scouting report but the combination of K rate and groundball tendency  is a positive indicator of future success.  In the only video I could find, shot by Roger Munter, Taylor gets a K on a really good changeup that dives and fades away from a LH batter.  That is another indicator of future success.

I would expect to see him pitching for San Jose next season, but he did have success in 2 AA starts and last year's SJ pitching staff was not stellar, so he could get a spot in the Richmond rotation.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #23 Matt Gage

Matt Gage, LHP.  DOB:  2/11/1993.  6'4", 240 lbs.  Drafted 2014 Round 10 out of Siena U.

2015 A:  4-4, 4.07, 77.1 IP, 1.51 BB/9, 8.26 K/9.
2015 AA:  2-3, 4.66, 38.2 IP, 2.33 BB/9, 6.98 K/9
2016 AA:  9-7, 3.38, 136 IP, 2.25 BB/9, 7.07 K/9

If  you looked at Matt Gage's pitching line from Augusta in 2015, you would not think it was worthy of a promotion all the way to AA Richmond, bypassing San Jose.  But in his last 2 starts for Augusta he went a combined 14.2 IP, with 0 ER, 1 BB, and 15 K's.  I've always thought Gage's promotion to Richmond was for a spot start, but now I am not so sure after seeing the lines from those last 2 starts in Augusta.  In any event, Gage allowed just 5 ER in 23 IP in his first 4 starts for Richmond earning him not just a gig that lasted until the end of the season, but an assigment back in Richmond to start the 2016 season.

His full season assigment to Richmond resulted in solid effort that should earn him a promo to AAA, except the AAA roster is very crowded.  A lot of analysts see Gage as a future lefty reliever, but with his size and excellent command, I think he could have a nice career as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #22 Clayton Blackburn

Clayton Blackburn, RHP.  DOB:  1/6/1993.  6'4", 225 lbs.

2015 AAA:  10-4, 2.85, 123 IP, 2.34 BB%, 7.24 K%, 6 HR, 1.29 WHIP, GO/AO= 1.59.
2016 AAA:  7-10, 4.36, 136.1 IP, 2.31 BB%, 6.67 K%, 18 HR, 1.30 WHIP, GO/AO= 1.19.

At the end of the 2015 season, Clayton Blackburn may have been the hottest pitcher in the Giants organization after a tremendous second half pitching for AAA Sacramento.  Alas, 2016 did not go so well and he was clearly passed on the depth chart by Chris Stratton and Ty Blach.  As you can see from the HR's and GO/AO, it appears he was not keeping the ball down as well in 2016 which resulted in more flyballs and a whole lot more gofer balls.  He did pitch better down the stretch as his post-All-Star break ERA was 3.22 compared to 5.09 before the break.  He's still young enough to get back on track, but the PCL is generally not kind to pitchers who have to get groundballs to succeed.  He's got Stratton and Blach ahead of him on the depth charts with Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez coming up fast from behind.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #21 Jonah Arenado

Jonah Arenado, 3B/1B.  DOB:  2/3/1995.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 230 lbs.  Drafted in 2013, Round 16 out of HS.

2016 A+:  .254/.286/.422, 36 2B, 17 HR, 3.3 BB%, 20.2 K%, 545 PA.

As I am sure you all know already, Jonah Arenado is Nolan Arenado's younger brother.  Despite that lofty MLB connection, Jonah's pro career has been little noticed after signing as a 16'th round pick, quite low for a HS player.  I am sure HS players drafted that low have had successful MLB careers before. I just don't know who they are.

Jonah got in a few pro AB's the summer he was drafted, and repeated rookie ball in 2014 where he showed almost none of the power you would like to see from a big kid and, well, from Nolan Arenado's brother!  Coming off two very modest rookie league campaigns, Augusta looked like a daunting assignment for 2015, but Arenado held his own, and kept holding it through the entire season, something that is quite unusual for a young player.  Just ask Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo!  Arenado ended up with 9 HR's during his sojourn in Augusta, a fairly impressive total given the environment.  The 25 doubles he added to that might have been even more impressive.

Moving up to San Jose for 2016, Arenado had to shuttle between 3B/1B and DH until Chris Shaw was promoted to Richmond after which Jonah took over the full time 1B duties.  While his BA hovered in the mid-.200's all season, the XBH's came in bunches as he led the team in doubles with 8 more than #2, Ronnie Jebavy and he finished second on the team in HR's with 1 less than Dylan Davis who put his up in a half-season of games.

One reason Arenado is no getting much national attention is his sub-.300 OBP's.  Most analysts look at that and immediately write him off.  While walk rates under 5% are not ideal in your stat line, I feel it is more important for a kid like Arenado to be aggressive at the plate, not get himself into 2 strike counts where his K rates might soar above 30%.  First concentrate on making contact, then on making hard contact.   If he's being selective enough to make enough hard contact to produce 53 XBH's, I'll take that at this stage of his career.  Remember, power hitters tend to develop late.  He has a pretty simple, short swing that should translate well to higher levels.

While there is a ton of risk here, the ceiling is huge.  I think his development is right on schedule.  The Giants challenged him in 2015 with the Augusta assignment and he met the challenge.  I hope they challenge him again with a Richmond assignment.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #20 Miguel Gomez

Miguel Gomez, 3B.  DOB:  7/20/1993.  B-S, T-R.  5'10", 185 lbs.  International FA.

2016 A:  .371/.401/.532, 17 2B, 8 HR, 4.2 BB%, 8.8 K%, 285 PA.
2016 A+:  .267/.302/.500, 9 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 4.4 BB%, 15.4 K%, 182 PA.

Miguel Gomez might be my favorite prospect in the Giants farm system.  He can hit…and hit and hit and hit some more.  After languishing in the DSL for 3 seasons, he's hit at every level stateside.  He's always been more of a BA guy, but he broke out for 16 dingers in 2016 over 2 levels.  His real power breakout came after a promotion to SJ where interestingly, his BA took a hit for the first month there.  He finally did right his BA ship with a .350 BA over his last 15 games.

The problem for the Giants seems to be where to play him.  He started out as a catching prospect in the DSL but has increasingly played at 3B with a short stint at 2B.  The Davenport metric has him as a slightly negative defender at both 3B and 2B.  The Giants are apparently impressed enough with his hitting to add him to the 40 man roster to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft, in which I believe he would have been selected by another team.  Does he start 2017 in AA or back in San Jose?  It will be interesting to see how far his high contact/low walk approach takes him.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #19 Aramis Garcia

Aramis Garcia, C.  DOB:  1/12/1993.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 220 lbs.  Drafted in 2014 Round 2 out of Florida International Univ.

2016 A+:  .257/.323/.340, 2 HR, 8.8 BB%, 26.3 K%, 160 PA.
2016 AFL:  .191/.304/.277, 8.9 BB%, 30.2 K%, 56 PA.

2016 was a rough year for Aramis Garcia to say the least.  He was sailing along in his second full pro season with San Jose sporting a .298 BA when his face collided with a second baseman's knee on a slide into 2B causing facial fractures.  He missed most of the rest of the season, returning in August hitting just .200 after his return.  He did manage to hit .308 over his last 7 games with the Little Giants.  He was assigned to the AFL to get more AB's and hit just .191 there.  None of that came with the power expected of him and all of it came with a ton of K's.

This ranking is based on ceiling which remains high if he can improve his contact rate and show more power.  He's tended to be a slow starter at any level and hit his stride when he gets enough reps in at the plate.  Hopefully he will stay healthy and do just that in 2017.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #18 Sam Coonrod

Sam Coonrod, RHP.  DOB:  9/22/1992.  6'2", 190 lbs.

2015 A:  7-5. 3.14, 111.2 IP, 2.24 BB/9, 9.19 K/9.
2016 A+:  5-3, 1.98, 63.2 IP, 3.11 BB/9, 5.94 K/9.
2016 AA:  4-3, 3.03, 77.1 IP, 4.42 BB/9, 6.05 K/9.

Sam Coonrod continued to have success in the minor leagues despite seeing his K rates crater and his walk rates increase.  The Giants seem to be emphasizing pitching to contact in their pitching prospects, so I'm not all that worried about his K rates dropping.  The disturbing part is the rise in walks.  From all reports I have read, he is still throwing hard sitting 93-95 MPH and touching 97 MPH.  He is basically a two pitch pitcher with a slider as his secondary offering and he remains a high effort guy with questionable command.

I've always thought he will likely end up as a reliever in the majors, but that is also likely his floor as I think the velocity gives the Giants coaches enough to work with to at least get a reliver out of him.

I would think he will be back in Richmond to start the 2017 season.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Armchair GM: Can/Should the Giants Trade for Brian Dozier?

OK, time to play armchair GM.  I'll throw the question out there.  It's a 3-parter:

1.  Could the Giants put together a trade offer the Twins would accept?

2.  If they could, should they pull the trigger?

3.  If you were Bobby Evans, what would be your final offer?

First some background:  Brian Dozier is coming off a breakout season, which is saying something because he was already a pretty darn good player.  He broke out for an astonishing 42 HR's after hitting 18, 23 and 28 in the 3 prior seasons leading up to 2016.  He also stole 18 bases, slashed .268/.340/546 with 8.8 BB% and 20.0 K% for an fWAR of 5.9.  Dozier is in the middle of a very team-friendly 4 year contract with an AAV of $5 M with total of $15 M owed over the next two seasons, $6 M in 2017 and $9 M in 2018.

The Twins might consider trading Dozier because they have a new GM and are entering into a major rebuild and Dozier will be a FA and out of their price range long before they are ready to contend.  The Dodgers have been rumored to be interested all offseason, but so far have apparently not budged from an offer centered on RHP prospect Jose DeLeon, who has lost his luster in the minds of some analysts. The Twins have not accepted and should not accept a trade for Dozier in which Jose DeLeon is the centerpiece.  After all, they are not yet in a position where they have to trade him.  The Giants have started showing up more and more in rumors as having interest in trading for Dozier.  Today in MLBTR, the Giants are reportedly "trying to get creative" to find a deal that would work for the Twins.  The Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals are also rumored to have interest.

Just to get the discussion started, my answer to Part 1 is "I don't know.  The answer to Part 2 is Yes, they should.

I'll start with my "final offer":

Giants trade Joe Panik, 1 of Chris Shaw, Austin Slater or Steven Duggar, Joan Gregorio and Melvin Adon for Dozier.  *Joe Panik is an established MLB 2B who could immediately replace Dozier and has 4 years of control left on his contract.  The Giants would not need Panik over the next two years if they acquired Dozier.

Would that get it done?  Would you include Tyler Beede if the Twins insisted on a frontline pitching prospect?  I believe my above offer is significantly better than anything I've read about the Dodgers offering mainly because the Twins are getting cost-controlled established MLB talent as part of the return package.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #17 Dylan Davis

Dylan Davis, OF.  DOB:  7/20/1993.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 205 lbs.  Drafted in 2014 Round 3 out of Oregon State.

2016 A:  .288/.368/.496, 17 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 11.2 BB%, 21.6 K%, 269 PA.
2016 A+:  .278/.344/.544, 10 2B, 3B, 18 HR, 8.0 BB%, 22.1 K%, 276 PA.

Dylan Davis has always had "light-tower" power, but it hasn't always translated into HR's in games as he battled plate discipline and contact issues early in his pro career.  2016 was a breakout year for him as he hit a total of 26 dingers between Augusta and San Jose while maintaing a very respectable BA.  On top of that, he continued a trend of diminishing K rate while maintaining solid walk rates.   Here are his K rates since being drafting in 2014:

2014 R:  29.3%
2014 SS:  24.7%
2015 A+:  23.0%
2015 A:  26.5%
2016 A:  21.6%
2016 A+:  22.3.

Davis' physical comp is…..I hate to say it……Dan Uggla! Stocky with a huge trunk and short arms and legs.  He has a short, simple swing that is direct to the ball and generates tremendous power to all fields.  He has a rocket arm that hit 97 MPH on the mound in college.  The arm plays in RF, but he is relatively slow afoot and probably could not handle RF in AT&T where you have to be able to track down deep drives into Triples Alley.

He should make the AA Richmond opening day roster and lineup.  That is always a challenge for hitting prospects, but also an opportunity that if he continues the trends in plate discipline and maintains his power, he can really rocket up prospect rankings.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #16 Ryder Jones

Ryder Jones, 3B.  DOB:  6/7/1994.  B-L, T-R.  6'3", 185 lbs.  Drafted in 2013 Round 2 High School.

2015 A+:  .268/.296/.394, 6 HR, 3.7 BB%, 18.5 K%, 432 PA.
2016 AA:  .247/.291/.397, 26 2B, 15 HR, 5.1 BB%, 15.4 K%, 513 PA.
2016 AFL:  .302/.380/.429, 2 HR, 9.9 BB%, 22.5 K%, 71 PA.

I have Jones ranked a lot higher than most analysts.  John Sickels has him in the Grade C prospects while Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs did not mention him at all in his review of the Giants system.  Jones was signed away from a Stanford commit the same year drafted Christian Arroyo, the only time I can recall the Giants taking HS hitters in the first two rounds.  While Arroyo has worked his way to the top of most Giants prospect rankings, Jones has been largely forgotten.  My theory is most evaluators take one look at his BA and BB% and just write him off.

Jones indeed does not draw a lot of walks and his BA has been uninspiring, but he also keeps his K rates under 20% and started to show his tremendous power potential in 2016 slugging 15 dingers for Richmond which is no small feat.  As I have said many times, the jump from A+ to AA is particularly tough for Giants hitting prospects.  Not only are they moving up a level, but to a much more hostile environment as Richmond is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in a pitcher-friendly league.  Jones was able to more than double his HR output while increasing his walk rate and lowering his K rate.  He also got better as the season progressed hitting .233 before the all-star break and .277 after.  He also had a slight reverse L-R split hitting .242 against RHP and .265 against LHP's.  He went on to have an excellent AFL campaign showing much better BA and BB% albeit in a small sample size.

Jones doesn't look like he's be a great defender and he's been slightly negative at the hot corner most of his pro career, but he even improved that in 2016 with a +5 rating on the Davenport Scale.  He has a strong throwing arm.  Interestingly, he played mostly 1B and a little LF in the AFL with positive reports about his D at 1B.

I saw Ryder Jones play in San Bernardino in 2015.  One game in particular I recall where he went 1 for 5, but squared up the ball in 4 of his AB's with 1 hit and 3 loud outs.  I think he has off the charts power potential that a lot of folks are sleeping on.  He has kind of long, almost spindly arms and legs, but is massive across the chest and shoulders.  I found one video describing his off-season workout program which he started after his first full pro season when he faded badly from the grind of pro ball.  If he keeps that up and continues to develop as a hitter, this guy is going to hit 30 dingers someday!

I'm not sure where Jones is going to play in 2017.  The Giants have all but announced that Christian Arroyo will be the starting 3B for Sacramento.  I'm not sure what the 1B situation will be, so he may wind up back in Richmond.  He's still fairly young, especially for a power hitting prospect, so that would not be the end of the world for his future.

Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah

Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah, everybody!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #15 CJ Hinojosa

CJ Hinojosa, SS.  DOB:  7/15/1994.  B-R, T-R.  5'9", 180 lbs.  Drafted in 2015 Round 11 out of Univ. of Texas.

2015 SS:  .296/.328/.481, 5 HR, 3.9 BB%, 7.4 K%, 203 PA.
2016 A+:  .296/.378/.442, 6 HR, 11.9 BB%, 15.2 K%, 302 PA.
2016 AA:  .248/.312/.336, 3 HR, 8.0 BB%, 17.1 K%, 251 PA.

I recall watching a game up in Adelanto, CA early in 2009 with a fellow who has been known to post comments under the screen name Tacklebox and seeing Brandon Crawford chase down a ball in the LF bullpen and making an off-balance throw that carried all the way to home plate on the fly.  We both realized at that moment that Crawford had a special arm and could probably hang at SS in the major leagues.  I got that same feeling in a game this spring in San Bernardino when I saw CJ Hinojosa track down a flyball in foul territory which he caught closer to the LF fence than 3B.  I just said to myself, "OK, I just saw a major league play!"  Although Hinojosa's D at SS has been criticized and some analysts think he is a 2B, there is at least 1 minor league defensive metric that has him as a solidly plus defender at SS.  John Sickels also rates him as a good defensive SS and thinks he can stick at the position.

That is really the key for Hinojosa going forward.  He's got excellent plate discipline and occasional pop in his bat.  If he can play average to plus defense at SS, he'll play in the major leagues.  Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, who thinks he'll wind up at 2B, noted that he did not keep up his conditioning while in college at Texas and appeared to be in much better shape this year as a pro.  I had never read that take before.  Something to watch going forward.

It looks like CJ struggled after his promotion to AA, but he hit .297 in July for Richmond, then slumped to .227 in August.  He did recover a bit to hit .263 over his last 10 games.  We'll chalk it up to fatigue from the long pro season for now.

With so many middle IF signed to minor league contracts, there probably won't be room in Sacramento, so I expect CJ to start the 2017 season back in Richmond.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Morse and Ruggiano to Minor League Deals

The Giants reportedly have reached minor league deals with OF/1B Michael Morse and OF Justin Ruggiano.  Morse, who is well known to Giants fans is now 34 yo and has not had a productive season since his Giants stint in 2014.  It's a bit unclear what role Morse might play on the MLB club as his defense in LF was terrible in 2014 and cannot have gotten anything but worse in the intervening years. He has been injury prone his entire career and it's unclear if he has anything left in the body.  The bat has always been intriguing, though.  Personally, if he's auditioning for the starting LF or RH platoon for LF, I'd rather just go with Mac who is a much better defender and should provide as many or more dingers over the course of a season.  I know you have to have a backup plan, but I would consider Eduardo Nunez and Austin Slater to be more than adequate backups.

I've been intrigued by Ruggiano for a long time.  He also has been very injury prone, has played very little in the last 2 seasons and it's also unclear how much he has left in the tank.  He kills LH pitching and struggles against RHP's so he's probably strictly a platoon bat.  He's played some CF(although not well by UZR standards) as recently as last season and can at least play average D in LF, so that gives him a leg up on Morse in my mind.  I still think I would rather give the keys to LF to Mac and see what he can do with them, unless of course Mac gets injured in which case Ruggiano could platoon with a LH bat.  The Giants have a long history of signing players who perform particularly well against them. It is interesting that Ruggiano has taken Madison Bumgarner deep in each of the last 3 seasons(Thanks to Sean Bialaszek of Golden Gate Sports for that little tidbit).

At the least, these signings are clearly designed to put Mac and Jarrett Parker on notice that the LF job won't be handed to them in spring training.  They both better come to camp ready to play and produce.


The Angels agreed to terms with FA OF Ben Revere on a 1 year/$4 M contract.  Revere had a rough season last year with the Nationals as he suffered an oblique strain out of the gate and never got traction on the season.  He's just 29 yo and a great bet to bounceback.  Very low risk contract for the Angels here with a lot of upside.  He'll likely start out the season platooning with Cameron Maybin in LF.

With an OF of Revere/Maybin, Trout and Calhoun plus a middle IF of Andrelton Simmons and Danny Espinosa, the Angels should have one of the best fielding teams in all of baseball.  Whether they have the pitching or hitting depth to make that pay off is an open question.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Trevor Rogers

Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.   6'6", 180 lbs.

Trevor Rogers is a cousin of former Giants OF Cody Ross and goes to the same Carlsbad, NM HS that Cody graduated from.  Rogers was largely unknown to scouting sources until this summer when he hit 95 MPH on the radar gun in an early showcase event.  In 2 later events he was more in the low 90's, but scouts remain impressed by the ease of his delivery and the room for growth on his tall frame.  He looks like he could easily carry another 30 lbs on that frame and scouts think he can easily sit in the mid-90's when he fills out.

Rogers has the standard tall-lefty low 3/4's delivery in the mold of Randy Johnson, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner.  Unlike Bumgarner, he flashes some elbow in the motion, but not nearly as much as Sale.  The deliver appears to be low effort much like Bummy's.

I have to say I am impressed by the videos I've seen and would rank him in the top tier of HS pitching prospects, maybe higher than DL Hall, the LHP who has gotten more attention and throws harder now, but does not have the physical projectability that Rogers does.  I could see him being available at #19 when the Giants are currently slated to pick and I could see them ranking him high on their draft board. There is the Cody Ross connection and the Giants have a very scout in New Mexico.


DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

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

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #14 Dan Slania

Dan Slania, RHP.  DOB:  12/24/1992.  6'5", 275 lbs.  Drafted in 2013 Round 5 out of Notre Dame.

2016(3 levels):  11-8, 2.93, 119.2 IP, 35 BB, 111 K.

Dan Slania was a college closer at Notre Dame, but I've always thought he had a repertoire suited to starting.  The Giants used him exclusively as a reliever until 5/26/2016 when they abruptly switched him into the Richmond rotation replacing Chase Johnson, who went to the bullpen.  Slania put up a line of 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's in that game and started the rest of the season, mostly with AA Richmond but a few with San Jose and Sacramento.  His final start of the season was for Sacramento on 9/2 with a line of 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 9 K's.  

Slania throws a low 90's FB with good command backed by a sharp slider and a pretty good changeup which allows him to be effective against LH batters.  I saw him pitch 2 innings for SJ a couple of years ago and was impressed by his command of the FB and his ability to keep hitters off balance with his secondary stuff.  He has a funky delivery with almost no backswing on his arm.  He just brings the ball up to his ear and fires, kind of like dart throwing.

It looks like the Giants will have a logjam in their Sacramento rotation, so it remains to be seen where Slania starts the 2017 season, but he could be an option for the rotation or long relief as the season progresses.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Encarnacion to Cleveland; Nova Stays With Pirates

The premiere slugger on the free agent market, Edwin Encarnacion, agreed to a 3 year/$60 M contract with the Cleveland Indians.  The deal reportedly does not have an opt out and has a no-trade clause.   The Indians have a team option for $25 M with a $5 M buyout for year 4.  Encarnacion turns 34 yo in January so the contract runs through his age 36 season.  That is less concerning to Cleveland because he is pretty much strictly a DH anyway.  He gives the Indians some added thump in their lineup and shows they are serious about making another run in 2017.

I looked up the relative park factors for Toronto and Cleveland stadiums.  Cleveland is actually more hitter friendly than Toronto, so Encarnacion should keep on pumping dingers out of the park.  As for other possible destinations, he was never going to an NL team so that immediately too half his options off the table, including the Giants.


The Pirates took a small gamble that Ray Searage is truly the Pitcher Whisperer and Ivan Nova's success after a trade from the Yankees to the Pirates was not just a short run of good luck.  The Pirates will pay Nova $26 M over the next 3 seasons with an extra $2 M available in performance bonuses.  Nova has always had good stuff.  His big problem is giving up dingers, which may be helped by pitching PNC Park as his home ballpark.  The upside is quite high and the risk is relatively small by today's open market prices.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #13 Chris Stratton

Chris Stratton, RHP.  DOB:  8/22/1990.  6'3", 190 lbs.  Drafted in 2012, Round 1 out of Mississippi St.

2016 AAA:  12-6, 3.87, 125.2 IP, 39 BB, 103 K.
2016 MLB:  1-0, 3.60, 10 IP, 5 BB, 6 K.
2016 AFL:  2-2, 3.12, 26 IP, 5 BB, 21 K.

The Giants drafted a guy named Chris Stratton in 2012 who had videos on the internet of 96 MPH fastballs and 12-6 curveballs.  The Chris Stratton who showed up in the Giants minor league system was not that guy.  The Giants prospect Chris Stratton had a 90-92 MPH 2-seamer and a balky slider.  Nevertheless, he gradually and painfully worked his way up the Giants minor league system, often getting hit hard along the way.  Over the past year, the guy from the scouting videos has re-emerged, at least if you squint hard enough.  He put together a pretty good season for AAA Sacramento.  In a short stint with the Giants, he flashed a 94 MPH FB out of the bullpen.  He went to the AFL in the fall and reportedly touched 96 with the FB a few times.

So, Stratton has a bit of momentum behind him as he enters the 2017 season.  He will come to spring training, possibly as high as #3 on the depth chart for the #5 starter role and #2 or 3 for the final bullpen slot.  He will most likely start the season back in Sacramento and hopefully be ready to step in wherever and whenever the Giants need him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Blayne Enlow

Blayne Enlow, RHP.  6'4", 180 lbs.

HS RHP out of Louisiana.  Enlow has a fairly standard looking delivery.  He looks like he has good command of a FB that gets up to 94 MPH and backs it up with a "12-6" curveball that is rated one of the better ones in the draft class.  That is a pretty good start for a HS pitching prospect.  He has oodles of room to fill out his frame and get stronger.  Not in the upper echelon of HS draft pitchers, but should be in the upper end of the second tier.


Dr B's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

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

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #12 Joan Gregorio

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

2016 AA:  0-2, 2.33, 27 IP, 6 BB, 30 K.
2016 AAA:  6-8, 5.28, 107.1 IP, 43 BB, 122 K.

First of all, based on appearance in pictures and videos, Gregorio weighs a whole lot more than 180 lbs.  He actually appears to be close to ideal body weight.  At 6'7", that would come out to about 230 lbs., so I am going to say he's at least 220. Gregorio has been working his way up the Giants farm system seemingly forever and finally hit AAA last year.  While the ERA was ugly, the K rate was exciting.  He was one of a very few Giants SP prospects who had a K/9 greater than 9 which is what gets him ranked this high.

Gregorio is a tremendous physical presence on the mound.  He maximizes his height advantage with an over-the-top, fairly upright delivery which produces a strong downward plane on his pitches.  To the batter, it must look like the ball is dropping out of the sky!  From the scouting reports and videos I've seen, it looks like he throws a fairly standard 4-seam FB that tops out at 94, but seems faster due to his height and reach.  He backs the FB up with a sharp downward breaking slider which he can throw at the back foot of LH batters.  He does not have much of a changeup which he rarely, if ever, throws.

He probably needs another full season at AAA to polish up his game.  It would be nice if he could add a third pitch of some sort, but it may be late in the game for that.  With the two pitches and borderline command, he will likely end up as a reliever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Pavin Smith

Pavin Smith, 1B.  B-L, T-L.  6'2", 205 lbs.  College(Virginia)

2015:  .307/.373/.467, 14 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 26 BB, 40 K, 270 AB.
2016:  .329/.410/.513, 16 2B, 8 HR, 36 BB, 23 K, 228 AB.
2016(CCL):  .318, 7 3B, 4 HR, 17 BB, 25 K, 151 AB.

Pavin Smith is a powerful 1B prospect from Univ. of Virginia, 1 of just 7 college hitters in's top 50 draft prospects.  He can both hit and hit for power with strong walk rates and relatively low K rates(note the reversed K/BB in 2016 college season).  Since he's pretty much limited to 1B, he's going to have to hit a ton, but he appears to be capable of doing just that.


DrB's updated 2017 Draft Board:

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

Hot Stove Update: Giants Reportedly Sign Jimmy Rollins

The Giants reportedly agreed to terms with veteran SS Jimmy Rollins on a minor league contract with a guarantee of $1 M if he makes the 25 man roster.  Rollins was once one of the top SS's in the game spending most of his career with the Phillies.  He is now 38 yo and coming off a rough season in which he slashed .221/.295/.329 with 2 HR and 5 SB in 166 PA's for the White Sox who released him 41 games into the season.  He put up similar numbers in 2015, so this is likely the new norm for him.

I am not sure how I feel about this signing.  The Giants have a mixed record of success trying to squeeze a late resurgence out of a veteran player at the end of their career.  My problem is that even the most optimistic scenario does not have him as a significant upgrade on Kelby Tomlinson or Ehire Adrianza.  At least 1 of those guys will be left out if Rollins makes the team out of spring training.  The Giants history would suggest there is better than even odds of just that happening.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #11 Steven Okert

Steven Okert, LHP.  DOB:  7/9/1991.  6'3", 205 lbs.  Drafted in 2012 Round 4 out of Univ. of Oklahoma.

2016 AAA:  4-3, 3.80, 47.1 IP, 11 BB, 60 K.
2016 MLB:  0-0, 3.21, 14 IP, 4 BB, 14 K.

Okert has had his ups and downs as a prospect.  As recently as August 6-13, 2016, I had him just about written off after he gave up a total of 7 ER in 3 IP over 3 Appearances for AAA Sacramento.  This was after an early season cameo with the Giants in which he had an ERA of 6.00.  Then, over his next 7 appearances he pitched 8.2 scoreless innings with 1 BB, and 11 K's.  That got him a Sept callup in which he posted an ERA of 1.13 in 8 IP with 1 BB and 8 K's.  He will now go into Spring Training competing with Josh Osich and Matt Reynolds for the Lefty Specialist role in the Giants bullpen.  He  had a large L-R split in AAA with a BAA of .235 vs lefty hitters and .296 against RH hitters.  That will need to improve to be even a lefty specialist in the majors.

He features a FB that average 92.2 MPH in September which he throws about 46% of the time.  He attacks RH batters with an 88 MPH cutter on the hands which he tends to get burned on if it catches too much of the plate.  His slider is slower at 81 MPH and he rarely throws his changeup.  He will probably need to dust off the changeup if he wants to consistently get RH batters out at the MLB level.

Monday, December 19, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #10 Sandro Fabian

Sandro Fabian, OF.  DOB:  3/6/1998.  B- R, T-R.  6'1", 180 lbs.  International FA

2015 DSL:  .269/.348/.364, 10 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 15 BB, 47 K, 242 AB.
2016 AZL:  .340/.364/.522, 13 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 7 BB, 28 K, 159 AB.

Fabian had some mildly interesting numbers in the hitter-unfriendly DSL.  The list of players with those numbers who move up and do a faceplant in Arizona is quite long.  Fabian came up to Arizona and had a mini-breakout and started to generate some national buzz.  They say there is no such thing as bad publicity and Fabian got some mileage out of a pretty nifty bat flip that made the rounds on Youtube.  You can look it up.

Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs seems to have taken a liking to him and raves about his feel for the barrel(remarkable) and bat-to-ball skills(so good).  He's got a compact body and is short to the ball with some upward plane.  One rap on him is he may be a bit thin in the shoulders and there might not be much projection in the body.  He definitely did not walk off the island, but makes enough contact to keep his K's down around 16%.  He will need to become more selective as he gains experience if he wants the power to develop.  Statistically he reminds me of another Giants prospect I liked a lot who didn't quite make it, Francisco Peguero.

Do the Giants challenge him with an Augusta placement for his age 19 season or do they hold him back and send him to Salem-Keizer for the summer?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #9 Heath Quinn

*I made an adjustment in the list here moving Quinn and Sandro Fabian up 1 notch each and dropping Steven Okert down 2.  As it currently stands, Quinn is #9, Fabian #10 and Okert #11.


Heath Quinn, OF.  DOB:  6/1/1995.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 190 lbs.  Drafted in 2016 Round 3, #95 overall out of Samford U.

2016(College):  .343/.452/.682, 21 HR.
2016(3 levels):  .344/.434/.564, 21 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 30 BB, 58 K, 267 PA.

Quinn put up video game numbers in his junior season at Samford, which may have been partly due to level of competition, but he kept right on raking in the pros, mostly at SS Salem-Keizer where I am sure his summer performance will be remembered.  There is not much to not like about Quinn's hitting performance.  Average?  Check!  Power?  Check!  Walks/OBP?  Check!  K's?  Just over 20% is not terrible for a patient power hitter.

The scouting report is average speed/above average arm which makes him a corner player, most likely LF if and when he makes the majors.  That diminishes his value from a prospect valuation view.  On the other hand, LF as an offensive position has fallen off around MLB in recent years, so a guy who can be an average LF while hitting 30 dingers per year with average is a valuable commodity.  I mean, the Giants would take that, right?

Can't wait to see him play for SJ in 2017!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Brady McConnell

Brady McConnell, SS, HS(FL).  6'3", 170 lbs.

Whoa!  I wasn't quite expecting to see what I found when I looked up Brady McConnell, a name I had not heard of before he showed up on's Top 50 Draft Prospects at #12.  He's a tall, skinny SS prospect from Florida whose stock has apparently fluctuated fairly dramatically.  A late physical bloomer, he was listed as 6'1", 160 lbs in the summer of 2015 and grew to his current listed dimensions over the next year.

McConnell is a wiry strong 5-tool athlete who is just starting to grow into his body at age 18.5.  Coming up in travel and HS baseball, he was alway undersized for his level which forced him to learn the fundamentals of the game.  The closest physical comparison I can find is Matt Duffy who is listed at 6'2", 170 lbs.  McConnell's body reminds me more of what I imagine Troy Tulowitzki must have looked like in HS.  Tulo is currently listed at 6'3", 205 lbs.  I don't know if McConnell will ever weigh that much, but he looks like he could easily fill out to 190 lbs.

His fastest listed time in the 60 is 6.42 secs which is really fast.  His IF throws have been clocked at 92 MPH.  His scouting report says he has excellent foot and arm coordination and excellent carry on throws from the hole.  In other words, he's a true SS who can stick at the position.  He graded better in early summer showcases than later when he may have fatigued.  Stamina will be an issue until he proves he can hold up under the grind of a pro schedule.

The dilemma is where to slot him on my draft board.  He looks like he belongs just behind Hunter Greene in the stud HS prospects at the top of the draft, but is he enough of a sure thing to rank ahead of the peleton of college SPs?  I think I'll slot him in behind Alex Lange for now with the option of moving him WAY up if his stock looks like it is rising as the draft approaches.


DrB's Updated 2917 Draft Board:

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #8 Chris Shaw

Chris Shaw, 1B.  DOB:  10/20/1993.  B-L, T-R.  6'4", 235 lbs.  Drafted 2015 Round 1 Supplemental.

2015 SS:  .287/.360/.551, 11 2B, 12 HR, 19 BB, 41 K, 178 AB.
2016 A+:  .285/.357/.544, 22 2B, 16 HR, 28 BB, 70 K, 270 AB.
2016 AA:  .246/.309/.414, 16 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 10 BB, 55 K, 232 AB.

At first glance it looks like Chris Shaw really struggled after a midseason promotion to AA, and he did, but that is only part of the story.  He actually did a full face plant for the first month with a .206 BA, but then recovered to slash .279/.322/.505 for the month of August.

Midseason promotions, especially for hitters going from the A+ Cal League to the much less hitter friendly AA Eastern League is extremely tough.  Not only are they going up a level in competition and to a much less hitter friendly league, but the opposing players have been 3 months of experience at the level which presumably makes them better players in the process.  A 1 month adjustment period should not be surprising in this context.

All in all, Shaw has hit a total of 33 HR's in 680 pro AB's and remains the premier power hitting prospect in the Giants system.  Scouts are not enamored with his body, which is huge, but he has a strong throwing arm and enough speed to hit 4 triples for Richmond, but he is panned for his athleticism at 1B.  I wonder if his big body is biasing scouting reports of his D at first?  I saw him play for SJ and he looked agile enough to me.

It seems like a lot of dominoes would fall into place if the Giants felt Shaw was ready for a AAA assignment in 2017 as then Jonah Arenado could move up to play 1B for Richmond and Dillon Dobson could take over in SJ with Ryan Kirby moving into the position in Augusta.  The biggest thing standing in the way of Shaw and playing 1B for the Giants is a pair of size 15's and $72 M, and if you think the Belt Wars were brutal, wait until the Shaw vs Belt War breaks out on the internet!   I do think Shaw has a chance to be a better LH power hitter than Belt, but the Giants have never been inclined to dump the bird in the hand for the one in the bush.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Colton Hock

Colton Hock, RHP.  6'5", 220 lbs.  Stanford.

2015:  0-2, 5.25, 36 IP, 20 BB, 24 K.
2016:  4-5, 2.03, 57.2 IP, 24 BB, 61 K.
2016(CCL):  1-4, 3.44, 36.2 IP, 11 BB, 31 K.

Colton Hock has pitched out of the bullpen for Stanford the past 2 college seasons.  He started 2 games for the Cardinal last year.  He's been listed in the 20-25 range in several early 2017 draft rankings and at least one early mock draft has him going to the Giants at #21(they've since improved their draft position to #19).  He was used as a SP on the Cape Cod League this past summer and put up pretty good peripheral numbers with an improved walk rate being the most impressive.  He's got a big strong starter's body.  What's kept him in the bullpen is a two pitch mix of a mid-90's FB and a nice curveball. His velocity dipped into the 92-93 MPH range while starting on the Cape, so he really needs to develop at least 1 more at least average pitch to think about starting in the pros.  Still, he has a big league body and a big league fastball.  Theoretically, you can teach the rest.

I was hoping to find a nice sleeper prospect here, but he looks like…..a college closer to me!  I'll add him to the bottom of my draft board but I expect him to move down as I add names.


DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri)
5.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina)
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt)
7.  JJ Schwarz, OF, College(Florida)
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida)
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt)
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU)
11.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS
12.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS
13.  DL Hall, LHP, HS
14.  Conner Uselton, OF, HS
15.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS
16.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford)
17.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville)
19.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS
20.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford)

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #7 Andrew Suarez

Andrew Suarez, LHP.  DOB:  9/11/2992.  6'2", 205 lbs.  Drafted 2015 Round 2 out of Univ. of Miami.

2015(3 levels):  2-0, 1.60, 39.1 IP, 5 BB, 37 K, GO/AO= 1.42.
2016 A+:  2-1, 2.43, 29.2 IP, 5 BB, 34 K, GO/AO= 1.84.
2016 AA:  7-7, 3.95, 114 IP, 24 BB, 90 K, GO/AO= 1.10.
2016 AA(Last 10 Starts):  5-1, 2.33, 65.2 IP, 14 BB, 56 K.

After coming back from labrum surgery early in his college career, Suarez caught the attention of scouting websites like Baseball America in 2014 with a stellar redshirt sophomore campaign.  He was drafted in Round 2, #57 overall, by the Nationals.  He did not sign and returned to school to graduate and where he hoped to improve his draft stock.  A short hiatus for an oblique strain may have depressed his stock and the Giants selected him in round 2, #61 overall in 2015.

As you can see, he has advanced rapidly up the system ladder, finishing strong at AA level after initially struggling in his first few AA starts.  His repertoire includes a low 90's FB, a put away slider and a changeup, all with strong command.  He has a curveball which seems to be his least favorite pitch.  Whether his polished approach will hold up in AAA and MLB remains to be seen, but the results so far are encouraging.  I think of him as Ty Blach with a higher K rate!  He should be ready for a AAA assignment, but the Giants may run out of SP slots in Sacramento, so placement for 2017 may depend on organizational needs.  The Giants do seem to be high on him and have certainly fast tracked him so far, so I would think his placement would be a priority.

Ceiling is a mid-rotation SP.  His floor would seem to be #4/5 SP if he can remain healthy, which seems to be his biggest concern.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #6 Steven Duggar

Steven Duggar, OF.  DOB:  11/4/1993.  B-L, T-R.  6'2", 195 lbs.  Drafted in 2015 Round 6 out of Clemson U.

2015 SS:  .293/.390/.367,  12 2B, HR, 6 SB, 13.1 BB%, 19.5 K%, 267 PA.
2016 A+:  .284/.386/.448, 12 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 14.1 BB%, 21.2 K%, 311 PA.
2016 AA:  .321/.391/.432, 16 2B, 4 3B, HR, 10.1 BB%, 18.5 K%, 276 PA.

Steven Duggar is kind of a mirror image of Austin Slater.  Athletic OF, major college program, borderline speed for CF, iffy power for a corner, great looking hit tool.  Just look at those K/BB's!!  I mean, those are Joey Votto/Brandon Belt walk rates combined with K rates he keeps right at or under 20%.  

On video, he still has a leg kick, but it seems toned down a bit from what I recall seeing at draft time.  He has a bit more load and weight shift than Slater, but his swing looks longer too.  Still, it's a fairly simple swing, direct to the ball.  Some analysts have panned his game power, but he did hit 9 dingers in half a season for SJ and the transition to AA Richmond tends to suppress power dramatically until players get settled in.  The swing looks like it should produce a few dingers to me.

I look for him to start the season back in Richmond with an early midseason promo to Sacramento if he continues to hit .300 or better.  He could even be a factor at the MLB level later in the season if a need arises.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: DL Hall

DL Hall, LHP.  6'2", 170 lbs.  Georgia HS.

DL Hall has an athletic looking frame which appears to carry more than his listed 170 lbs when viewing him on video.  Despite looking bigger than his listed weight, there is room to add size and strength.  He has a live fastball that sits 92-94 MPH and has topped out at 96 in multiple showcase events.  He pairs that up with a sharp curve with downward bite which has been described as a "hammer."  He has a changeup which he rarely throws.  He may well be available in the #19 range and I could see the Giants having interest.  Very nice ceiling with as good a chance of reaching it as any HS  pitcher.


DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri)
5.  JB Backauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina)
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt)
7.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida)
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida)
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt)
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU)
11.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS
12.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS
13.  DL Hall, LHP, HS
14.  Conner Uselton, OF, HS
15.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS
16.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford)
17.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville)
18.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS
19.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #5 Austin Slater

Austin Slater, OF.  DOB:  12/13/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 194 lbs.  Drafted 2014 Round 8 out of Stanford.

2014 SS:  .347/.417/.449, 6 2B, 2 HR, 7 SB, 7.6 BB%, 12.9 K%, 132 PA.
2015 A+:  .292/.321/.396, 15 2B, 3 HR, 4 SB, 3.8 BB%, 16.6 K%, 265 PA.
2015 AA:  .296/.350/.362, 11 2B, 0 HR, 6.4 BB%, 22.0 K%, 218 PA.
2016 AA:  .317/.413/.490, 8 2B, 5 HR, 6 SB, 14.0 BB%, 20.9 K%, 172 PA.
2016 AAA:  .298/.381/.506, 12 2B, 13 HR, 2 SB, 11.9 BB%, 19.1 K%, 278 PA.

Austin Slater was widely considered the top HS prospect in the state of Florida going into his senior season.  He suffered a fractured ankle in a Frisbee game and missed his entire senior season which dropped his draft stock.  With a Stanford commit in hand, he went to college where he put up decent, but not outstanding numbers.

He has hit at every level in the pros including his first full season when he was given an aggressive placement to High A with a midseason promotion to AA all while playing a new position, 2B.  He moved back to the OF for 2016 playing mostly CF at both AA and AAA levels.  He's always had good raw power, but he showed it for the first time on the field, although 5 of his 18 dingers came in a single series in Reno, a well known minor league launching pad.  In addition to the power spike, he dramatically improved his walk rate at both levels while maintaining a K rate at 20%.

On video, he has little load or weight shift with only a small slide step for the front foot.  The swing path is remarkably short and quick to the ball albeit a bit stiff-handed.  It's more of a gap power swing, although Slater is big enough to generate some HR power from it.  It does appears to have an uppercut path which should get the ball in the air enough to give him chances for dingers.  I don't know if the Giants are scouting players with this type of swing or teaching it to their prospects, but they have an assembly line of similar hitters, Joe Panik, Matt Duffy, Kelby Tomlinson, Christian Arroyo, Slater to name several.

Slater is another "tweener" who has borderline speed for CF and borderline power for corner OF.  He ran a 6.72 60 in HS and was clocked at 92 MPH on an IF throw, so he has tools.  Most analysts have him pegged as a 4'th OF.  He may be more than that if he can play a passable CF in the majors or maintain the power spike from 2016.  He'll likely start 2017 back in Sacramento, but could be in line for a midseason callup if there is an OF injury or if Mac/Parker fail to nail down LF.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Alex Lange

Alex Lange, RHP.  College- LSU.  6'3", 200 lbs.

2015:  12-0, 1.97, 114 IP, 46 BB, 131 K.
2016:  8-4, 3.79, 111.2 IP, 49 BB, 125 K.

Alex Lange burst onto the college scene with a dominating freshman campaign in 2015.  He was not quite as good in 2016, but still plenty good.  He's a big, strong, built to go deep into games.  Sports a fastball around 94 MPH which he can command to both sides of the plate.  He backs that up with a killer knuckle or spike curveball.  He may have other pitches, but those were the two dominant ones I could find.  The question is whether the curveball is good enough to be an only secondary pitch.  There is one video out there of him abusing a poor freshman lefty hitter from another school with 3 consecutive curveball that dive straight down, more like a splitter.  The problem is professional hitters won't swing at those pitches until they get a strike or two on them, so he's going to have to establish the FB and will likely need another secondary pitch.  He also has significant effort in his delivery, so I'm thinking he may be a reliever in the pros.


Updated DrB's 2017 Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri)
5.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS
6.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina)
7.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt)
8.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida)
9.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida)
10.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt)
11.  Conner Uselton, OF, HS
12.  Alex Lange, RHP, LSU
13.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS
14.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS
15.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford)
16.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville)
17.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS
18.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #4 Ty Blach

Ty Blach, LHP.  DOB:  10/20/1990.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Drafted in 2012 Round 5.

2016  AAA:  14-7, 3.43, 162.2 IP, 2.10 BB/9, 6.25 K/9, GO/AO= 1.22.
2016  MLB:  1-0, 1.06, 17 IP, 5 BB, 10 K, GO/AO= 1.79.

Ty Blach is ranked this high because of proximity to the majors and what looks like an unusually high floor.  Blach is a pitch-to-contact lefty who has steadily worked his way up the organization ladder.  He appeared to have hit his ceiling in 2015 when his ERA jumped from 2.90 in High A(2013) and 3.13 in AA(2014) to 4.46 in AAA.  Looking at his relatively low K rates it was easy to write him off as a future AAAA pitcher.  Entering 2016, he was well behind Christ Heston, Clayton Blackburn and even Chris Stratton on the Giants depth charts.  By the end of the season, he was at the top of that heap, challenging for the 5'th starter role in San Francisco.

He came up for a September cup-of-coffee and just kept getting MLB hitters out, culminating in 8 innings of shutout ball against the Dodgers on October 1.  That kind of performance against the Dodgers in October will tend to get you noticed and remembered!  Ty went on to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings in the NLDS against the mighty Cubs.

The odds are against him sustaining that success when his K rates are so low, but Blach may just have an ability to consistently induce weak contact.  He's got at least a 5 pitch mix and can command all of them with at least average success.  His FB, which he throws 4 seam about 40% and 2-seam 60% averages 91.8 MPH, ranging 90-94.  He is able to command the inside corner to RH batters and the outside corner to LH batters.  He mixes in a slider, curveball and changeup.  The only negative pitch on Pitch Fx was an offering classified as a sinker/split which he rarely threw.  He has a strong groundball tendency which should play better in the majors than the PCL.

In summary, Blach appears to be able to make up for the relative lack of K's with above average command of multiple pitches inducing weak contact, a low walk rate and a strong GB tendency.

Matt Cain is probably first in line for the 2017 5'th starter role, due to his seniority and the size of his contract.  Blach is the first alternative and will challenge him in spring training.  Although he can get RH batters out well enough to be a SP, he also is very tough on LH batters posting a .189/.236/.244 slash line against them in 2016.  If he does not make it as a SP, he might actually be the best lefty specialist prospect in the system which seems to be his absolute floor.  It seems likely that he will play in important role for the Giants in 2017 whether it be as the #5 SP, the swingman or a lefty reliever.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Kenley Jansen is Still a Dodger

Kenley Jansen turned down an extra $5M offered by the Nationals and agreed to terms on a 5 yr/$80 M contract with the Dodgers.   The total value of the deal comes in under the $86 M Aroldis Chapman is getting from the Yankees, but with the Nationals offer, Jansen could have come within $1 M of Chapman's deal, which is darn impressive.  The Nationals offer reportedly contained deferred money which could make is worth less in present day money.

As for how this affects the Giants and the NL West, the Dodgers are not gaining anything from this they did not already have.  With all of the premium closers besides Jansen off the market, the Dodgers avoided a major downgrade in the position and paid a high price for it(if anyone cares about price anymore).

The Dodgers are also rumored to be closing in on a 4 year contract with 3B Justin Turner rumored to be worth about $64 M total cost.  Again, this would be to avoid a downgrade at the 3B position rather than an upgrade.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #3 Bryan Reynolds

Bryan Reynolds, OF.  DOB:  1/27/1995.  B-S, T-R.  6'3", 200 lbs.  Drafted 2016 Round 2 #18, #59 overall.

2016 SS:  .312/.368/.500, 12 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 6.4 BB%, 24 K%, 171 PA.
2016 Low A:  .317/.348/.444, 5 2B, HR, 4.5 BB%, 30.3 K%, 66 PA.

 Bryan Reynolds was ranked as a first round draft prospect by many analysts going into the draft.  It is unclear exactly why he fell to the Giants in Round 2.  Signability concerns are the most often cited reason, but he also could have been seen as a "tweener" by some teams, not quite a CF on defense and not quite enough of a hitter to play corner OF on offense.  The Giants seem to like drafting tweeners in general, so that notion probably did not bother them.

At any rate, Reynolds had a more than solid pro debut playing at two levels, SS and Low A with 3 games added in High A for the Cal League playoffs where he went 4 for 12(.333) with a HR.  Coming off 3 college seasons in which he hit substantially over .300, Reynolds has not hit less than .300 at any level or situation at least since HS!

Scouts seem divided over whether he can stick in CF which if he can, sets him apart from other OF prospects as it is not common to find a CF of his size and power potential.  On the other had, most scouts seem to agree that he has enough bat to play corner if he can't stick in CF.  Eric Longenhagen raised a concern about a large L-R split but I looked it up and he hit .291 from the right side in Salem-Keizer.  His RH BA of .241 in Augusta was an extremely small sample size.  Others have noted his strikeout rate approaching 30%.  He still has time to improve that, but it's probably more important for him to get his walk rate back closer to his college levels.

I'm personally excited about the idea of a switch-hitting CF of his size and power potential in the organization.  I think he will likely start 2017 in San Jose, but will likely be promoted to AA by midseason if he hits well, which I expect him to.  I think he is also a fast mover and should be competing for an MLB role by late 2018 or 2019.

Hot Stove Update: Nationals Send Danny Espinosa to the Angels

Danny Espinosa could see the writing on the wall after the Nationals gave up half their farm system for Adam Eaton and he did not like what it said, which was "grab some pine, meat!"  Eaton to CF meant Trea Turner would be returning to his #1 position, SS and with Daniel Murphy ensconced at 2B, Espinosa would have to scrap for AB's from what little playing time was left over, which was not looking like much.  He expressed his frustration with the situation by not attending a team event and today got his wish and was traded to the Angels where he will almost certainly be the starting 2B.

Espinosa is an excellent defender at 2B and has some pop in his bat(24 HR's in 2016), but struggles to keep his BA above the Mendoza Line.  The Angels were desperate for a 2B for 2017.  Espinosa will be a FA for 2018, so they only get 1 year of control.  They don't  have much of a farm system and the 2 pitchers they gave up don't seem to be top of the market prospects.  Seems like a win-win trade.  The Nationals get rid of a disgruntled player, although they loses some depth in the process.  The Angels get  a 2B for 2017 without overpaying in the FA market.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #2 Tyler Beede

Tyler Beede, RHP.  DOB:  5/23/1993.  6'3", 210 lbs.  Drafted Round 1, #14 in 2014.

2015 High A:  2-2, 2.24, 52.1 IP, 9 BB, 37 K, GO/AO= 2.44.
2015 AA:  3-8, 5.23, 72.1 IP, 35 BB, 49 K, GO/AO= 1.87.
2016 AA:  8-7, 2.81, 147.1 IP, 53 BB, 135 K, GO/AO= 1.06.

Tyler Beede kind of did a slow fade after his promotion to AA in 2015.  Reports had him losing weight and feeling fatigued from the grind of a pro baseball rotation.  To his credit, he set about in the offseason to get stronger and adopted a personal motto, "Finish Strong!"  Finish strong he did!  There was a 2 game hiccup July where he gave up 14 ER in 10.2 IP. If you were like me, you kind of said "uh-oh, here we go again", but after that he went the remaining 45.2 IP with an ERA of 1.58.  In his next-to-last start of the season, he pitched a 9 inning, CG shutout while allowing just 1 BB and striking out 11.  He reportedy hit 98 MPH on the radar gun in the 9'th inning.

Coming out of college, Beede's repertoire included a 4-seam FB, Curveball and a good Changeup.  For the first half of 2015, the Giants had him throw exclusively sinkers and cutters.  By the end of 2016, he seemed to have a full 5-pitch deck to deal from with excellent results.  Now he just needs to polish that repertoire up, improving command and learning how to sequence pitches and get better hitters out.  He'll get the chance to do just that in AAA Sacramento to start the season.

I'm still on the Beede Bandwagon.  I think he may be as high as #3 on the depth chart for 5'th starter with a chance to pitch his way into it by late May or early June if Matt Cain and Ty Blach prove to be no up to the task.  Chris Stratton may be in the mix after a strong AFL campaign too.  I'll say ceiling is most likely #2/3 SP but  if he can sustain velocities in the mid-high 90's and refine his secondary stuff, he could be an ace in the making.

Note:  Beede is listed at 6'3", 210 lbs in his MILB bio page.  I seem to recall 6'4", 200 lbs in previous listings and Fangraphs still has him at 6'4", not that it likely makes much difference.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Kyle Wright

A quick note before we get to Kyle Wright:  The Rockies gave up their #11 overall pick to sign Ian Desmond who had a QO from the Rangers.  The Cardinals gave up their #19 to sign Dexter Fowler.  The Giants move up from #21 overall to #19.


Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt.  6'4", 220 lbs.

2015:  6-1, 1.23, 58.2 IP, 23 BB, 62 K.
2016:  8-4, 3.09, 93.1 IP, 32 BB, 107 K.

Wright has a classic SP body and a classic repertoire of pitches.  Sinking 2-seam FB low-mid 90's, Cutter high 80's, spike curveball which his grips with his index and middle fingertips along a single seam presumably to get both downward and lateral movement.  He also has a changeup that is a work in progress.  He has a fairly standard windup and delivery.  Strong command and pitchability.  Should move fast in most systems although his ceiling is most likely a #3 starter.  Was a college roommate of Bryan Reynolds.  Comps would be a bigger version of Mike Leake, Sonny Gray, Aaron Nola, Luke Weaver.  Those types.


DrB's Updated Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri)
5.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS
6.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina)
7.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt)
8.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida)
9.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida)
10. Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt)
11.  Conner Uselton, OF, HS
12.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS
13.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS
14.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford)
15.  Brandon McKay, LHP, College(Louisville)
16.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS
17.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #1 Christian Arroyo

Christian Arroyo IF.  DOB:  5/30/1995.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 185 lbs.  Drafted Round 1, #25 in 2013 out of HS.

2015 High A:  .304/344/.459, 28 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 4.6 BB%, 17.8 K%, 409 PA.
2015 AFL:  .308/.360/.487, 3 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 4.7 BB%, 16.3 K%, 86 PA.
2016 AA:  .274/.316/.373, 36 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 5.6 BB%, 13.9 K%, 517 PA.

A lot of people expected more for Christian Arroyo in 2016 after he hit .300 in San Jose and again in the AFL.  Anyone who saw the bomb he hit in a night game in Scottsdale in spring training couldn't help but feel some irrational exuberance.  I mean, talk about hitting one out into the night!  For those who feel disappointed in Arroyo's 2016 season, here are a few things to consider:

1.  The jump from A ball to AA is generally the second most difficult transition in professional baseball behind the jump to MLB.

2.  Although 2016 was Arroyo's age 21 season, he did not reach that milestone until the season was 2 months old.  He was one of the younger players in the league all season.

3.  AA is the first level that most prospects face pitchers who can control their offspeed stuff well enough to "pitch backward" and throw it in "hitter's" counts.

4.  The Eastern League is one of the toughest leagues for hitters in all of baseball and Richmond is one of the toughest parks in the EL.  In fact, Richmond ranks 12'th percentile in hitter friendliness out of all minor league ballparks.

5.  While trying to adjust to a higher level and a difficult hitting environment, the Giants had Arroyo playing 3 different positions, SS, 2B, 3B on defense.

So, it is not surprising that a young prospect would shorten up his swing and try to make contact in an environment like that.  I'm impressed he was able to execute that plan while turning himself into a doubles machine with 36 while slightly increasing his BB% and dramatically lowering his K%.  Just for comparison sake, Joe Panik had 26 doubles with 4 HR in 590  PA for Richmond at age 22 and Matt Duffy had 24 with 3 HR in 409 PA at age 23.

Here is what I wrote in last year's profile about my expectations for 2016 in AA for Arroyo:  "I would expect some struggles and possibly some people jumping off the bandwagon like we saw with Joe Panik.  Just remember, the EL is one tough place to hit!  I'll consider the season a success if he hits .260 or better."

Here are some comments by Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs in his profile of Arroyo:

"….down year on paper- largely a result of the poor hitting environment in Richmond…"
"Arroyo's feel for contact remains superb…."
"….still projects as a .300 hitter…."
"…terrific hand-eye coordination…remarkably short to the ball."

Alex Pavlovic reports that Arroyo is expected to start 2017 in AAA Sacramento and will exclusively play 3B.  He could be ready for a promotion to San Francisco by as early as late May or June if needed.  I think the Giants preference would be for him to play the full AAA season with a September callup.  He is likely to be the Giants 3B of the future starting in 2018 after Nunez hits free agency.  He remains the Giants top prospect on my list!

Friday, December 9, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects

After giving it considerable thought and asking for feedback, I really do not have any significant changes to make in the preliminary DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects list which first appeared on 11/27/2016.  Since there are no major changes, rather than re-type the list out here, I will just refer you back to the original post.  I'll start with the individual prospect profiles later tonight or tomorrow.

I usually wait until a couple of weeks after the Winter Meetings to see if any major trades alter the list.  While anything can happen, I do not anticipate any major trades before midseason 2017, so we'll go ahead and start the rundown.

Left Field Smackdown: Mac Williamson vs JD Martinez

Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean all but said the Giants are done with any significant deals for this Hot Stove League season.  Both have said that at some point you have to trust your farm system to give what you need and they are comfortable with some combination of Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker manning LF in 2017, at least to start the season.  Specifically, Bobby Evans has pointed to Adam Duvall as an example of what they don't want to see Mac doing for some other team when he could have been doing if for the Giants.  Of course, it's an open question whether Duvall ever would have put up similar numbers with the Giants, but that's another long story.

At least one prominent Giants oriented blogger is still beating the drum for JD Martinez with comments making it sound like the outcome of the 2017 season hangs in the balance of this decision and anything less than a trade for JD Martinez is tantamount to the Giants choosing money over winning.  In the process, some numbers of questionable comparability have been thrown out there making it look like Martinez is almost a sure bet to give the Giants at least 2-3 extra wins on the season which may be the difference between winning or losing the NL West.  Let's take a closer look and try our best to make sure we compare apples to apples rather than apples to macadamia nuts.

We'll start with a couple of assumptions:  1.  Both players will be full time starters and will remain injury free for a full season.  For round numbers sake, we'll say they both get 600 PA's.  2.  We'll agree that Steamer fWAR projections are a reasonable mean out of a range of possible performances for both players.

First, let's look at the raw data for both 2016 performance and Steamer projections for 2017:

JD Martinez:

2016:  .307/.373/.535, 22 HR, 9.5 BB%, 24.8 K%, fWAR= 1.8, 517 PA.
2017(Steamer):  .275/.337/.486, 27 HR, 8.0 BB%, 26.2 K%, fWAR= 1.9, 605 PA.

Yes, Martinez average fWAR for the past 3 years is close to 4, but he had a 4 and 5 fWAR in 2014 and 2015 with a sharp drop off on defense in 2016 which caused his value to plummet.  Whether he recovers his D or not is a big part of the equation for or against.  Steamer splits the difference and projects him to be merely bad in the field instead of awful.

Mac Williamson:

2016:  .223/.315/.411, 6 HR, 10.2 BB%, 27.6 K%, fWAR= 0.5, 127 PA.
2017(Steamer):  .253/.317/.413, 9 HR, 7.4 BB%, 24.3 K%, fWAR= 0.5, 284 PA.

A couple of points here.  Mac's 2016 projected to 600 PA gives him 29 HR's and an fWAR of about 2.4.  His 2017 Steamer/600 PA would give him 19 dingers per 600 PA and an fWAR of about 1.2.

Now, fWAR is supposed to be environment neutral, so we'll stipulate that based on equal PA's, Martinez mean projection would produce 0.7 more Wins than Mac.  It's not nothing, but it's a far cry from a 2-3 game difference!

Next, let's take a look at the impact of Park Factors.  Steamer's projections for 2017 assume the player will remain in the same ballpark as 2016.  Let's go ahead and accept that JD Martinez will hit 27 HR's in 2017 if he remains in Detroit, a rather dubious projection seeing as how he's only topped it once in his entire career!  Looking up Park Factors, I was surprised to learn that Comerica Park is now actually a slightly homer-friendly ballpark with a weight of 1.14 favoring HR's while AT&T Park is, by far, a fearsome HR killing machine with a weight of .700.  So, you take Martinez' projected 27 HR's, divide by 1.14 and multiply by .700 and you get a projection of 19 HR's in AT&T Park, exactly the same as Mac's 600 PA projection!  Combine that with JD's less than stellar D and it's not a good look.  Factor in the cost in prospects of trading for Martinez plus the 2017 salary difference plus the single season of control, and I don't think it's a tough decision to give Mac Williamson his big shot to be the Giants LF of the future in 2017.

Hot Stove Update: Cardinals to Sign Dexter Fowler

It looks like St Louis will be the destination for FA OF Dexter Fowler.  The deal is rumored to be for 5 years/$80 M or $16 M AAV.  Fowler is a player I've liked since he was a prospect in the Rockies system.  He's just been a late bloomer turning in 2 excellent seasons the past 2 years with the Cubs.  He's entering his age 31 season so the contract will take him through his age 35 season.  The back end of the deal may not be perfect for the Cardinals but they should get 2-3 more seasons of his prime performance before he starts to tail off or get more injuries.

The Cardinals were looking at a starting OF of Piscotty in RF, Grichuk in CF and Tommy Pham in LF.  Fowler will take over in CF with Grichuk moving to LF and Pham will be the 4'th OF and might play some 1B.  Just taking a quick peek at the Cardinals roster and I'm surprised by the lack of power in that lineup which looks downright Giantsy.  Not sure of what kind of hitters they have coming along in their farm system, but I would say they need to hope their pitching holds up bigly over the next 2-3 seasons.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Soannie Torres RIP

Baseball is a game of numbers.  Those numbers have given millions of people untold joy and wonder for close to a century and a half.  When we focus on the numbers, which we must to understand and fully enjoy the game, it is easy to forget that the people who make those numbers, the players, have lives and families, joys and sorrows of their own.  Today we learn the crushingly sad news that the wife of Andres Torres(who will go down in history as a great Giant, never mind if it was just for one season), Soannie Torres, lost her battle with cancer.

I don't know much about Soannie, but I know enough about Andres Torres to know that he must be devastated.  Andres did not just have a great season on the field and by the numbers in 2010, the first time the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  He made the entire organization better with his spirit.  When he wasn't on the field, he went around enthusiastically greeting everyone he saw as if they were a long lost friend, and to him, they probably were.  Throughout his career, Andres had to overcome coaches who insisted that he had to be a slap hitter and ADHD, a condition that made it a battle to focus every day.  Now he has to battle through the loss of his wife and the mother of his young daughter.

I've always felt a sense of protectiveness toward Andres.  Underneath the athleticism, the determination, the creativity, and enthusiasm I have always sensed a childlike vulnerability.  He was traded by the Giants to the Mets for Angel Pagan.  The next season, when he was a free agent, he declined a contract offer from the Mets and basically begged the Giants to take him back because he loved the team and the city so much.  I recall feeling a sense of alarm when I read that he sold his World Series ring.  You generally don't do something like that unless you need the money.

Remember Andres Torres in your thoughts.  You might consider contributing to the Soannie Torres Memorial Fund which you can do by going to the story in and clicking on the link at the bottom of the story.  I hope the Giants find a way to keep Andres Torres in their family and do what they can to help him succeed in the rest of his life.  And fans, never forget that without that one great season in Andres Torres' career, the Giants probably would not have won that first championship in 2010.  And if they did not win it then, who knows what would have happened in 2012 and 2014?

Hot Stove Update: Chapman to the Yankees and a Blockbuster Trade

There were 3 big moves made on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings.  Perhaps the biggest surprise was the announcement that Ian Desmond and the Colorado Rockies agreed on a 5 year/$70 M contract.  Now, Desmond had a nice bounceback season last year with the Rangers, but wow!  5 years seems a bit long for the 31 y.o and $70 M a bit long on the total dollar side.  The Rockies are about the last team I would have predicted as a destination for Desmond as it is not clear what need they are filling.  I have to think there may be a trade or 2 coming down the pike for the Rockies.


Having lost out on the Chris Sale auction, the Nationals turned their attention to another White Sox star, Adam Eaton.  They gave up about as much as the reportedly offered for Sale, RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez and RHP Dane Dunning.  That seems like a steep price for an OF who averages about 14 HR and 14 SB per season, but Eaton's high OBP and his plus-plus D gave him fWAR's of 3.1, 3.7 and 6.0 over the past 3 seasons.  He is also just 28 yo and has 5 years left of control left on a very team friendly contract.  He may well have more future value to the Nats than Sale would have!

Last year, Giolito was considered one of the top 2 pitching prospects in the game, but Tyler Beede outpitched him in the Eastern League and his MLB record was 5-3 with a 4.95 ERA in 44 IP.  He's still young at age 22 and has plus stuff, so I'm probably being a bit too hard on him. Lopez is smaller than the 6'6", 255 lb Giolito, but he is another hard thrower with some early MLB experience under his belt.  Dunning was a first round draft pick in 2016.  I guess those can be traded now?  Probably a win-win trade, but the Nationals gave up a lot and I really like how the ChiSox are managing this fire sale!


Lastly, the Big Kahuna!  The big city lights were too much of a lure for Aroldis Chapman and he's headed back to the Yankees for 5 years/$86 M.  It's a huge price for a closer, but Chapman is a unique player and a major game changer on the field.  Gotta tip your hat to the Yanks who didn't give up much of value when they traded for Chapman last offseason, then flipped him for their future SS, Gleyber Torres, then got him back yesterday, so now they have both him and Torres!  Nicely done!  Of course, you can't make moves like that without the deep pockets backing you up, but it's still a nifty move on Brian Cashman's part.


Kenley Jansen is now on the clock as the top FA left on the market.   The Nationals have an awful lot invested in that team to be like the Giants in 2016 and flush it due to a lack of a closer.  Gotta think they are going to go large in Jansen. He already reportedly has an $80 M offer on the table from the Marlins where he would be reunited with Manager Don Mattingly.  Is it possible the Dodgers may be the ones left standing when the music stops on the Closer game of musical chairs?


The Giants created space on the 40 man roster for Mark Melancon by trading RHP Chris Heston to the Mariners for a PTBNL.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Giants Dumpster Diving

The Giants made a couple of "dumpster dive" moves yesterday, which is probably about all we're going to get before the season starts.  They signed RHP Bryan Morris and C Tim Fedorowicz to minor league deals with spring training invitations.  Morris' deal is actually a conditional MLB contract calling for $1.25 M plus another $750 K in incentives if he makes the 25 man roster which seems likely if he is fully recovered from last season's back surgery.

Bryan Morris was a JC pitcher who caught some helium in the 2006 draft and the Dodgers selected him #26 overall.  He missed the entire 2007 season with TJ surgery.  He was traded to the Pirates after the 2008 season and did not make his MLB debut until 2012.  He is a groundball machine, putting up solid numbers in 2013-2015 with the Pirates and Marlins:  18-12, 2.80, 215 IP, 3.77 BB/9, 6.40 K/9, 58.6 GB%.  His pitching repertoire includes a sinking FB 93-95 MPH which he throws about 50% of the time, a Cutter at 88-90 MPH which he throws about 35% of the time and a slider at 82-85 MPH which he uses like a changeup about 15% of the time.  He missed most of 2016 after undergoing back surgery.  He is expected to be fully recovered by spring training.

Fedorowicz is a fringy backup catcher who has shuttled between AAA and the majors for several years.  You may remember him as a backup C with the Dodgers for a couple of seasons.  He gives the Giants some depth at C which they were sorely lacking since the trade of Andrew Susac last season.


The Rangers Re-signed Carlos Gomez to a 1 year/$11.5 M contract.  Gomez is coming off not 1, but 2 injury plagued seasons and $11.5 M seems to be the floor for any veteran player with a chance to be average.


The Rays signed C Wilson Ramos to a 2 year contract, obviously knowing he will likely miss the first half of the 2017 season after tearing his UCL late in 2016.  When healthy, Ramos is one of the better catchers in the game.


Red Sox also signed 1B/DH Mitch Moreland to a 1 year $5.5 M contract which seems like a bargain for the Sox compared to what Gomez got from the Rangers.


Wade Davis seems to be headed to the Cubs in a straight up trade for OF Jorge Soler.  Davis is a frontline closer if fully healthy while Soler still has huge upside despite a sputtering start to his MLB career.


This might be decision day for Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.


Nationals are believed to be not interested in trading for any other pitchers after losing out on Sale.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Red and White Sox Pull Off Blockbuster

With Winter Meetings talking heads breathlessly reporting that Chris Sale was all but a National, the Red Sox swooped in and made an offer the Nationals could not top and the White Sox could not refuse.  I mean, once Yoan Moncada was in on the deal, the Nats would have had to add Trea Turner, which they were not going to do.   So it was the Bosox dealing from an almost obscene surplus of prospect talent that got this deal done.

We all know what Chris Sale is.  He's one of the true aces on MLB.   He'll combine with David Price to form a lefty 1-2 punch in the 'Sox rotation.  It's a power move by Dave Dombrowski who is well known for using his farm system to trade for star veterans and Sale is about as elite a talent as you can get.  Still, every deal has its risks.  Sale was not lights out all season last year and had 2 months where is ERA was well north of 4.  His unconventional delivery makes my elbow hurt just to watch it and he's been long rumored to have intermittent twinges in it.  Then there is the personality, which come to think of it, should fit right into the Red Sox clubhouse!

In landing Sale, Dombrowski pulled the trigger by including one of the most highly touted and hyped prospects I can remember, Yoan Moncada.  Moncada is a true 5-tool athlete who seems to be able to actually play.  He has shown modest power, but has stolen 95 bases in 193 minor league games.  While he has shined on the field, he has already developed a bit of a reputation for being injury prone, which may have been part of the reason Dombrowski was willing to let him go.  On the other hand, Dombrowski has never let a prospect's reputation stand in the way of a trade for a veteran star.

I absolutely loved Michael Kopech before the 2014 draft.  I thought he had tremendous present physicality and velocity with the most room to fill out of any HS pitcher in that draft.  He has gained a reputation for velocity in the minors, routinely hitting triple digits on radar guns including one pitch reported to be 105 MPH, although that particular pitch is in dispute.  He's had a couple of off-field hiccups with a banned substance bust and a clubhouse fight with a teammate.  Some risk here, but the ceiling is very high.

Luis Alexander Basabe, twin brother of Luis Alejandro Basabe, is a promising OF from low A Ball last year and Victor Diaz is a somewhat promising pitcher from the lower minors.

So, that is the haul the ChiSox got for Chris Sale.  Can't do much better than that, although there are never guarantees that any prospect is going to make it in the majors and the bust rate on multiple prospect trades is very high.

Dombrowski got the guy he wanted dealing from a position of overwhelming surplus talent, which you really can't fault him for.


Earlier in the day, Dombrowski helped out the BrewCrew's rebuild by sending 3 pretty good prospect out for underrated RHP reliever Tyler Thornburg.

Thoughts on Mark Melancon

Mark Melancon was a well known college closer at Arizona who ran into arm problems during his junior season.  He was taken by the Yankees in round 9 of the 2006 draft and pitched that summer in short season ball, but underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2007 season.  He came back strong in 2008 working his way up to AAA by the end of the season.  He made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2009.  He bounced between AAA and MLB in 2010 and was traded to the Astros midseason for Lance Berkman.

He recorded an ERA of 2.78 with 20 Saves for the Astros in 2012, but was traded in the offseason to Boston for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.  He got off to a terrible start in Boston and was optioned to AAA.  He as called back later in the season, but finished with an ERA of 6.20 even though his K and BB ratios remained strong.  That offseason, he was shipped to the Pirates in a multi-player trade.  His career really took off in Pittsburgh starting as the setup man for Jason Grilli but quickly working his way into the closer role.  His numbers from 2016 are representative of the past 4 seasons with the Pirates:  2-2, 1.64, 71.1 IP, 1.51 BB/9, 8.20 K/9.  He is a strong groundball pitcher with 54.2 % GB's.  He also keeps the ball in the yard with a 6.3% HR/FB.  Looked at another way, his GO/AO has approached 2.00 over the past 4 seasons and he allowed just 10 HR's in 289 IP.  He gets about twice as many GIDP's as he gives up HR's.

Melancon is not a classic closer in that he does not throw particularly hard.  He averages just under 92 MPH on his 4-seam FB, but he only throws it about 10$ of the time.  His workhorse pitch, which he throws about 70% of the time, is the cutter which he throws almost as hard at an average of 91.0 MPH. It's a great pitch that he can use to jam left-handed batters and work the outside corner on RH batters.  His main secondary offering is a knuckle curve which also serves as a changeup at 81 MPH.  All 3 pitches are at least above average in terms of effectiveness by Fangraphs rating with the Cutter being his most effective pitch and a definite plus offering.

By all measures, Melancon should be the shutdown closer the Giants sorely lacked last year, which should also stabilize the rest of the bullpen and allow Bruce Bochy to return to the more traditional bullpen roles he is comfortable with and bullpens seem to like.  The only dark cloud on the horizon is that he might be nearing the end of the shelf life for his TJ surgery which occurred 8 years ago.  If that were to happen off the bat, the Giants would be stuck with a large 4 year contract.  They seem to be hoping they can get at least 2 good seasons out of him as he has an opt out after 2 years.  The way the Giants front loaded the contract when you add in the bonus money makes you think their ideal scenario would be to get 2 great seasons out of him then let him opt out and take the TJ risk to some other team.