San Francisco Giants: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Andy Baggarly

San Francisco Giants




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Hi Andy, thanks for the chat. Gotta ask the questions that many are already thinking, right out of the gate - does Lincecum have a legit shot at cracking the starting rotation out of spring training? Would he truly fit in best as a starter or reliever? And how much of a shot does he have at NL ROY, assuming he lives up to the billing?
 A: 

Moderator: Hi everyone, thanks for swinging by. Lots of great questions here so we'll get right to it. It's the Giants' MO to be aggressive with pitchers once they think their stuff will play against big league hitters. There's little doubt Lincecum is at that stage. The biggest thing will be fastball command. He hasn't faced competition above Class A, and in talking to him, he's well aware that hitters will be much more disciplined as he moves up the ladder. That said, he won't make the team as a starter -- Russ Ortiz and Jonathan Sanchez are the candidates for the No.5 spot -- and he won't make the team as a reliever unless the Giants assess their bullpen need as acute. So if Benitez blows upgets traded and Wilson has a rough spring, there's a good chance we'll have Timmy Time. Will he start or relieve? It's one of their biggest internal debates. The Giants cite Lincecum's resilient arm when saying he could start or relieve down the line. But starters always have more value, and teams usually want to give their higher ceiling arms every opportunity to succeed in that role first. When you see that arm speed, though, it really does make you think of the Angels' F-Rod. If he throws strikes, he could be a dominant closer. My hunch is that's where he'll make the biggest big league contribution. It'll really depend on what the team needs. And yeah, he's a definite top ROY candidate if he plays a full season.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
By re-signing Durham, does this mean the front office lacks enough confidence in Frandsen's ability to take over at 2B fulltime? His makeup seems to be off the charts, but is he not yet ready?
 A: 

Moderator: You could ask Rich Aurilia this question if you wanted to make him laugh. Do the Giants ever hand jobs to unproven position players? In the Sabean Era, you'd have to go back pretty far. Aurilia is a good example. He had to caddy for three shortstops -- Jose Vizcaino, Rey Sanchez and Shawon Dunston -- before he finally cracked the everyday lineup. And he turned out to be a pretty good major league player. I for one didn't expect Durham to return, simply because the Giants had so, so many holes to fill and 2B was one spot where they had an in-house candidate. But they needed an RBI man to protect Bonds and didn't like their free-agent choices. The wisdom of that decision aside, Frandsen is still held in high regard by organizational folks -- perhaps more than ever after he worked on his hitting approach in the AFL. He also asked to take fly balls so he could maximize his utility this season. He's disappointed he won't start, but you can't keep Frandsen down for long. Other than maybe David Eckstein, he's got as much energy and drive as any player I've ever covered. He knows that scouts dog his tools, but he's determined to prove them wrong. Wade Boggs was kind of viewed in a similar light when he was a minor leaguer. That's not to say Frandsen will amass 3,000 hits, but it's hard to see him failing to stick as a big league regular.

 Q:  Jean-Paul from Leland Grove asks:
What's been the reason for Sanders' regression last year? Can he turn it around?
 A: 

Moderator: Very simple. The shoulder won't heal. Whenever I mentioned Sanders to people in the organization, they shook their heads. It's really crushing that a player with so much ability might never make it out of A-ball. He spiraled downward at the plate because he couldn't get consistent at-bats, which was a direct result of his shoulder. The experiment to loosen up his shoulder capsule might have turned out to be a mistake. The Giants are still evaluating that. But he's still young, and if his shoulder ever heals, he'll remain a prospect.

 Q:  Draft Junkie from Midwest asks:
With SIX (!) picks in the 1st round alone this year, what do you see management going after, come this June?
 A: 

Moderator: Unreal, isn't it? I was talking with Dick Tidrow the other day and he's very excited about the draft. ``Lotta pitching,'' he said. Everybody knows Dick Tidrow can find big league pitchers late in the draft. (Jonathan Sanchez was a 27th-rounder, Scott Munter was taken past the 50th round and Jeremy Accardo was an undrafted free agent.) Now he's truly armed for battle this June. Earlier this winter, I kind of wondered if the Giants would dial back the big league payroll because they'd have so many big draft bonuses to pay. Then they signed Barry Zito for $126 million. This is a new era and the Giants aren't afraid to spend. They'll take the top talent available.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
IS EME just Jack Cust in a Giants uniform? Will he ever get to the level on defense to exceed Cust?
 A: 

Moderator: It's funny you make that comp, Dean. If EME doesn't pan out, I've thought he'd turn out to be Cust version 2.0. But other than lacking a position, they're really two different players. Eddy is a much better pure hitter than Cust. He doesn't strike out much and is a doubles machine. It's not an all-or-nothing approach. I've heard good things about EME's work ethic in instructional league. Really, he should be a first baseman but I'm not sure if either he or the Giants are excited about heading in that direction. The biggest thing is he's healthy and part of big league camp for the first time. Just being in that environment should help him.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Villalona looks like an absolute monster. Have all scouts to see him raved about him? Is it true he hit a 400 foot bomb as a 13 year old with a wood bat??
 A: 

Moderator: I talked to a scout who saw Cal Ripken take BP at Memorial Stadium as a 14-year-old and he said Villalona's bat makes the same sound. (For me, Prince Fielder ranks as the best 14-year-old BP I've ever seen.) I haven't heard your anecdote, but it wouldn't surprise me. Brian Sabean mentioned to me that Villalona made Scottsdale Stadium look like a Little League park during instructional league. But patience, folks. It's going to take awhile. And you never know how kids will mature and fill out. Joel Guzman was supposed to be the next A-Rod and we've yet to see him make a big league impact.

 Q:  Willam J. Lapedomaine from Rock Ridge, TX asks:
The Life of Brian: Who has the better stuff Wilson or Sadler? Who has more long-term potential?
 A: 

Moderator: Clearly, it's Wilson. Both have plus fastballs and Sadler probably gets a little more movement, but Wilson's can register 98. Wilson also has a slider that's pure filth. The Giants had a pretty good closer who mixed slider and fastball. Come to think of it, I just saw Robb Nen today. It's in camp as an instructor and special assistant to Sabean. Wilson and Sadler were LSU teammates and it would be a nice story if they both become key contributors out of the Giants bullpen.

 Q:  Travis from Austin, TX asks:
What is the status of Waldis Joaquin, how did he pitch this year and how does the organization feel about his future?
 A: 

Moderator: Good question. Joaquin had Tommy John surgery on June 2, 2006 and rehab is going very well. He is projected to return to competition in June. Joaquin was the most impressive arm on the Giants' ARL team in 2005, which is saying something because Shairon Martis was on that squad. While I'm updating injuries, you may be interested to know that Kelyn Acosta is in big league camp and throwing with no restrictions. Looks like he's on his way back, and that's great news for the Giants. You'll see more about him in an upcoming Giants org report.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
Does Nick Pereira have the stuff to be a #4 or #5 starter? Do you see him having a chance to help the Giants in 2007?
 A: 

Moderator: Pereira graded high on the list more because of his polish than his stuff. Brad Hennessey is a good comp. Like everyone else, it comes down to executing pitches. The Giants like his makeup and durability, though. Plus it's easy to root for a Don. Jesse Foppert didn't live up to the billing in SF, but maybe Pereira will make a bigger big league contribution. One thing in Pereira's favor is there aren't too many upper-level starting pitching prospects. Pat Misch is another guy with a chance to help by eating innings...he was a very tough omission from the top 30.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
What is Clay Timpner's ceiling? Is he someone who may have a major league career?
 A: 

Moderator: It really depends on the bat. Timpner is a joy to watch in center field. He really plays the heck out of the position -- takes good routes to balls, has a nice arm, has great instincts and speed. It's telling that he's back in big league camp despite having an awful year at the plate. He'll have to make strides offensively, though, and quick. Ben Copeland and Mike McBryde are below him in the system, and he'll need to stay in front of them to avoid becoming an afterthought.

 Q:  Sean from Norman asks:
Andy - Where does former Sooner Ryan Rohlinger rank in their farm system? And what is the word on Rohlinger, can he make the big league club as a utility guy? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: The Giants really like Rohlinger and he would have made the list if it went another 10-deep. I really wish I'd been able to see a few Salem-Keizer games...must've been fun to watch. Rohlinger has enough talent, ability, versatility and scrappiness to be a big league utility guy. His pro debut certainly was promising.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Can you tell me what the deal is with Engenio Velez? Is he considered a prospect with any chance to be the second baseman of the future? He had great numbers this year in the SAL (.315, 14HR, 90 RBI and 64 SB) but seems to get no respect. In the BA Almanac you have him listed as the minor league player of the year for SF - but he didn't make the top 10 list here and he didn't even make the top 20 in the SAL. What's his story? Love these chats! Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: Velez and Pat Misch were my two most painful omissions from the top 30. And I admit, after the Giants added Velez to the 40-man, I'd find a way to wedge him in somewhere if I could revise the list. There's no disputing he had an eye-opening season last year, though it's tempered by the fact he was one of the oldest players in the SAL. The Giants aren't holding that against him, though. Players develop at different ages. Eliezer Alfonzo is a great example. I'm not convinced he'll have a long big league career, but he sure saved the Giants' bacon last year when Mike Matheny got hurt. So I think they'll be open minded with Velez. This year should be a telling one for him as he competes against older players. I must say, though, I'm even more impressed with his power numbers after seeing him in person for the first time this week. He might be the skinniest player I've ever seen in a big league camp. Even his cheeks are hollow. Can't wait to see him play once Cactus League games start.

 Q:  Dan McKay from Albuquerque, N.M. asks:
Have you heard anything about the Australian pitcher the Giants recently signed?
 A: 

Moderator: Most of what I know is courtesy of the local press in Perth. (I check a bunch of newspaper Web sites daily, but that's not one in my regular rotation!) His name is Cameron Lamb and he's a right-hander who throws in the upper 80s. Scout Jim Patterson signed him. Patterson came to the Giants along with John Cox, who was hired last year to oversee a massive expansion into scouting the Pacific Rim. The Giants really are branching out. Cox reportedly got a bonus in excess of $100,000. Here's a quote from Patterson: ``Cameron is very young but has all the qualities we look for in a pitcher – size, composure and command of four pitches. We project that he will have the size to make an outstanding pitcher. He has great composure and is able to strike hitters out.'' (As a side note, I would like to share that I was just in Australia and New Zealand for three weeks in January, and after watching a 6-hour cricket match, I will NEVER, EVER complain about a 13-inning game again!)

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Who's faster - Burriss or McBryde? And who can best utilize that speed at their respective position?
 A: 

Moderator: At the tape, McBryde by a nose. It's pretty impressive to be the fastest player in the system, since the Giants also have Marcus Sanders and Eugenio Velez. Brian Sabean believes that speed will be the next big thing, and he's loading up on it. (As opposed to the current rage, OBP...this is the team that just re-signed Pedro Feliz, after all.) Interesting second question. I'd say McBryde, just because a center fielder can make up for bad reads or other mistakes with pure speed. A shortstop with bad instincts really can't do that. (Which isn't a knock on Burriss...I'm told his baseball IQ is very high and he profiles as an above-average defensive SS.)

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
What does Ortmeier have to do to turn things around and improve his stock?
 A: 

Moderator: Health, for starters. I didn't know until last week that he had knee surgery in the offseason. Apparently, it was a minor scope and he's worked hard on rehab to make sure he'll hit the ground running in camp. He was one of the first position players I saw this spring. Ortmeier mostly has to build confidence. He has tremendous skills and I can't think of too many players his size who can fly the way he does. Like many hitters at Connecticut, he let Dodd Stadium get in his head. It'll be good for him to move up a notch and get off to a good start in the PCL. Same thing for Nate Schierholtz and EME.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Why wasn't Bonds projected to be the starting left fielder in 2010? Under what circumstances would this organization NOT attempt to re-sign him?
 A: 

Moderator: Man, where do I go with this one.... Well, Barry just told us he's playing till he's 100. I'm sure Todd Linden wasn't too happy to hear that!

 Q:  Mike from JLB asks:
What's the deal with "Big Baby" Villalona? The hype surrounding him and his potential is nearly comical with talk of 400 ft. wood bat home runs when he was 13, etc. Does this kid really look a lot different than other similarly-aged top Latin prospects of the last 10-15 years (e.g. Joel Guzman, who it seems was similarly hyped and compensated)? It's not typical of BA to rank a 16-year-old with no professional experience this highly--should this tell us how much you like him? Also, where does he tentatively seem to fit in the Top 100?
 A: 

Moderator: Lotta "Big V" questions. A little background...these rankings are tough enough when you're comparing right-handed relievers to left-handed hitting first basemen. It's like apples and oranges, to some extent. Then throw in a kid who should be a high school sophomore, and how do you begin to stack them up? Well, the criteria we use is to rate players based on their ultimate ceiling and what kind of big league impact they would make if they reach that ceiling. Villalona certainly has more upside than any Giants position prospect -- now or in recent years. Having said that, he's also just 16 and has a lot of growing and maturing to do. There was a Nicaraguan player in the '80s named David Green that scouts have told me was the best prospect they've ever seen. I don't think he'll appear on my Hall of Fame ballot next year. Yes, it's perfectly all right to be excited about Villalona, and we'll be sure to thoroughly track his progress for you. But there's no such thing as a "can't miss" 16-year-old. As my brokerage statements say, all holdings are subject to market vulnerability.

 Q:  Brett from Chicago asks:
What are your thoughts on Bocock and McBryde? Also was Izturis considered for the list? How does he factor in the Giants plans? Thanks!
 A: 

Moderator: Oh, forgot to answer last part of the Big V question...which is, I don't know where he'll rank in the top 100. I'm only peripherally involved on that. Now, on to Bocock, etc...It was crazy how often Bocock's name came up when I talked to Giants minor league coaches and officials. He wasn't on my original top-30 radar, but it's clear he has plenty of support within the organization. Most rate him a much better playmaker at SS than Emmanuel Burriss or Sharlon Schoop. He'll be a big leaguer if he can hit .260. That's a long way off, though. McBryde is a real dynamo, and he exceeded expectations with the bat at Salem-Keizer. That doesn't guarantee anything, and I have a hunch he'll hit a few potholes this year, but he has the tools. Julio Izturis was a good story last year because of his bloodlines and because the Giants are making more inroads in Venezuela. As a player, he's not as strong as Cesar and not as projectable as Maicer. He's got the right last name, though. Cesar acted as his little brother's agent and steered him toward the Giants because he developed a relationship with scout Rick Ragazzo. We'll see what Julio does in the AZL this year.

 Q:  Ray from Fullerton, CA asks:
Why no Craig Whitaker? In 05 and 06 he was a top 10 prospect, and now not even top 30 material. I know he's been hurt the last couple season, but to me he has to have a higer potenial ceiling than Nick Pereira, Joey Martinez and David Quinowski. Or is he nothing more than a bust.
 A: 

Moderator: Whitaker is really at a crossroads. He's not forgotten yet, but it's hard to see his body holding up for a full season. It simply hasn't happened. He has trouble repeating his delivery and is constantly susceptible to injury as a result. Last year, he had an oblique strain in April, then required an ulnar nerve transposition surgery in his elbow in August. In Tidrow's words, he remains a "big equipment guy" and so he's still someone to watch. He'd have made my top-40 list.

 Q:  Al from Port Chester, NY asks:
20 years from now, who will have had the better career, Lincecum or Cain?
 A: 

Moderator: I'll take Cain. He's going to be good for a long time. I see him staying healthy, too.

 Q:  Brett from SF asks:
How similar a player is Villalona to Adrian Beltre when he was 16? Can Villalona go the Beltre route and make it to the majors by the time he is 19?
 A: 

Moderator: One more Villalona question...I covered the Dodgers beat when Beltre was promoted and that was the work of Tommy Lasorda during his stint as interim GM. It was not a popular move among the player development folks and it might have set back Beltre a few years. Of course, this is the same organization that let Beltre field ground balls while he still had a colostomy bag attached to him (after a botched appendectomy). But Beltre went on to be productive, and even outstanding for one season. Andruw Jones sure didn't seem bothered by coming up as a 20-year-old. Really, it all depends on the kid. I wouldn't expect to see him at China Basin until after his 20th birthday, though.

 Q:  Mark from The D asks:
What is Jonathan Sanchez's ceiling? Could he be #2 material, or is he more of a back end starter?
 A: 

Moderator: Front end all the way. He's a lefty with easy arm action who throws in the mid-90s with a plus changeup. The ball really jumps and gets on hitters fast. Last year he competed well against major league hitters with just those two pitches. He'll need the slider to be a top starter, and he's making encouraging progress with it this spring. Bengie Molina was telling me he thinks Sanchez can be a No.1. And he's only caught the kid twice this spring.

 Q:  Elvis Joe from Long Beach asks:
where would John Bowker and Todd Jennings rank? In the top 30 or so? They are both former Long Beach St "dirtbags" and I believe both were 2nd or 3rd rounders...thanks
 A: 

Moderator: Bowker has been a disappointment along the Brian Buscher lines. Jennings has a better chance, especially because he's a catcher. In camp last year, he looked like an 18-year-old Craig Biggio. This year, he looks much more physically mature.

 Q:  Borat from Kazikstan asks:
Yekshamesh... I see the Giants System is how do you say...stinks...Do you see anyone other than Sanchez and Linecum cracking the Top 100 list?
 A: 

Moderator: Very nice...I like your moviefilm very much. Villalona could make it too, but Sanchez and Lincecum are the only, how you say, slam dunkings.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Thanks for the chat. Please complete this sentence, "In 3 years, Eddy Martinez-Esteve will be...."
 A: 

Moderator: dating Hillary Duff.

 Q:  Tommy from Tupelo asks:
What's your take on Nate Schierholtz? His overall numbers the past 2 years haven't been so great, but he seems to come on strong after settling in at each level. Do you think he's likely to develop into a ML-quality RF soon? The Giants' AARP OF can't last forever!
 A: 

Moderator: Couple more...gotta watch Lincecum throw live on the main field...he's due to face Frandsen, Linden and a couple more. Schierholtz really had three good weeks in a miserable year, I've got to think he was tired in Hawaii because his winter league there was unimpressive as well. He's improved his stock by becoming a pretty good right fielder, which is why we graded him above EME. I still think Schierholtz is a ways away, but that raw power is impossible to ignore. If anything, he looks a little scaled back on the muscle this spring. Sometimes that can help a player.

 Q:  Tim from Proctorville, Ohio asks:
Adam Witter appears to be a terrific combination of power and OBP, with a decent average. Can he stay behind the plate?
 A: 

Moderator: He didn't catch regularly in college. Steve Decker liked his work ethic and thinks he'll improve, but he'll never be Mike Matheny back there. Definitely a nice debut and we'll see how he does at a full-season affiliate. Despite the debut, he's a bit too fringy to make it at a position other than catcher. But hey, it's all about proving people wrong, right?

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
What's up with BA fave Merkyn Valdez - not even in the top 10 in a weak system? Thank you.
 A: 

Moderator: President Merkin won't throw a pitch until winter ball because of Tommy John surgery in September. (And props to those of you who get the Dr. Strangelove reference...)

 Q:  Jed from Joliet asks:
What separates Emmanuel Burriss from Sharlon Schoop in your mind? The latter put up some impressive OB numbers in rookie ball again and is allegedly a smooth fielding SS. Burris obviously stole more bases, but is that enough for him to earn the coveted "SS of the future" tag?
 A: 

Moderator: Burriss is easier to project. Schoop has plenty of potential, but I don't know if he'll be the offensive player Burriss projects to be. And Burriss isn't a bad defensive player, either. Too bad neither will be ready next season, when Omar Vizquel's contract expires. But hey, if Barry can play till he's 100, I'll take Omar till he's 120! Thanks for the questions everyone. Look forward to doing this again next year!