San Francisco Giants: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Andy Baggarly

San Francisco Giants: Chat




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, 2008.

Moderator: Hi everyone, thanks for joining the chat. IIRC, I did last year's chat from the press box at Scottsdale Stadium in February. Glad you didn't have to wait so long for the Giants top-10 to come out this year. Lot of good questions here, let's get to them!

 Q:  Shawn from Bay Area asks:
How is Merkin Valdez's road to recovery going? I see he's thrown a few innings in the DWL, any reports on his stuff? Do the Giants still think he has a chance to be an impact reliever? Where will he start 2008?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: I talked to another NL West scout who was in the Dominican and he gunned Valdez at just 90-91 mph. Said he ``wasn't the same guy.'' It can take awhile for Tommy John guys to get back the same extension, but Merkin's days as a can't-miss prospect appear to be over. The Giants aren't ready to give up on him yet. I'll be interested to see what he looks like in spring training. If I had to guess, I'd say they'll try to stretch him out again to start. After missing a season, he needs maximum mound time.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Wow, the sky seems the limit to Baby V. When scouts talk about his bat, what names do they conjure up? He seems to have those 'once a decade' type skills with the bat. Could you see him getting a cup of coffee in 2009?
 A: 

Moderator: Andres Galarraga is the name I hear most often, especially from Felipe Alou. I'll be fascinated to see how the Giants bring up Baby V. They haven't had a superteen international position player in a long, long time. Having covered the Dodgers a few years ago, I saw how they handled Adrian Beltre and Joel Guzman...these young kids can really divide a player development staff. I'd imagine the Giants will start Villalona at low-A Augusta this year, and maybe let him pop up to San Jose at the end of the season. He'd be just 19 in 2009, but if the Giants are non-contenders in September of that season, there's a decent chance they'd bring him up to get his feet wet. Really, it's too far off to say for sure.

 Q:  Casey from Franklin asks:
Thanks for the chat! I love these! Longtime Giants fan, since the days of Will Clark - of whom was my favorite player. Give me some hope! This '07 draft class looks good on paper - as the #2, #3, #6 & #8 are all out of the top 5 picks in their draft. Does this say more about the lack of impact players in the system, or how good these guys can potentially be? Tim Alderson. Starter? From what I can gather by the BA rating system, he profiles as a #2 as far as what he throws. Can you give a comp? Again, thanks for your time!
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: I enjoy them too! Given the current state of the Giants major league roster, I'd imagine interest in the minor league system is reaching a peak. While there are no quick fixes, the Giants did have a chance to restock the system with 6 of the first 51 picks. I guess you could commend them for taking high school players with their first five selections, which would appear to indicate they were drafting with the long-term health of the franchise in mind. As to your question, I think Alderson and Bumgarner would be on any team's top-10. Noonan boosted himself with a huge pro debut and a great showing in instructional league, and Fairley is a very good athlete. They're solid top-10 talents in the Giants system, but probably would appear farther down the list in other organizations — especially a few in the NL West. The Giants graduated a lot of players (none bigger than Lincecum) last season, and as we all know, they lacked a first-round pick in '04 and '05, so that's why there is plenty of room for their early '07 draftees on this list.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
It's my understanding that Alderson was being considered as a potential closer, yet you have him as a # 4 on your 2011 Lineup card. Could he fit into either role, if need be?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Ah, JAYPERS, can't have a chat without you. A lot of scouts felt Alderson was better suited to relief because he threw exclusively from the stretch in high school and he's got a herky-jerky delivery. The Giants believe he'll make a bigger impact as a starter and they just love his command and stuff. One top official said Alderson does everything better than Matt Cain did at the same age. That is truly something to get excited about. Giants coaches had Alderson throw out of a windup in instructional league and he repeated it well. There's no concerns he will have any problems adjusting to it. Bumgarner still has a bit more projectable velocity and he's left-handed, so a lot of folks grade him higher, but Alderson's command and his pro debut earn him the higher rank on our list.

 Q:  Travis from TX asks:
How has Waldis Joaquin looked in his return from surgery and does he have the stuff to be a #2 or #3 starter?
 A: 

Moderator: Joaquin missed all of 2006 after Tommy John surgery but the Giants were really encouraged with the way he bounced back late in the year. On Sept. 9, Joaquin threw six shutout innings, allowed just two hits and struck out seven as Salem-Keizer defeated Tri-City in a Northwest League playoff game. (He had a 70-pitch limit in the game.) He was hitting 95 mph without noticeable effort and his power slider was there, too. He still has a long way to go, but it appears the tools are back. That's a huge positive. If he fills up the strike zone and flashes a bit of a changeup, sure, he has the potential to be a No.2 starter.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Will Villalona be groomed to be a first baseman by the time he's called up, or will that come later?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: J.T. Snow was working with him at the end of the Arizona League and into instructional league. He's got a plus arm, and best case, he could be an Aramis Ramirez type at third base, minus a little agility. The Giants don't want to waste his arm at first, but I'd imagine that's where he'll land. The Giants love his bat so much, they almost don't care where he plays. They'll find a place when it's time.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Eddy Martinez-Esteve: prospect or suspect?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Keyser Soze all the way, unfortunately. EME hasn't been able to stay healthy. He's not even a top-30 candidate until he proves he can make it through a whole season — or a six-week stretch, actually. EME makes Lance Niekro look like Cal Ripken. The shoulder problems (both are affected) might keep him from ever regaining that smooth stroke.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Was Sosa's incredible 2007 a fluke, or is he that good?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think the Giants were really surprised by Sosa, and rated several other Latin American pitchers higher last spring. Sosa wouldn't have even gotten a shot in Augusta's rotation if Orlando Yntema hadn't torn his ACL in the last week of spring camp. He made the most of his chance, showed the best fastball in the system and grabbed everyone's attention. Now he needs to do it again.

 Q:  Marc from Pleasanton, CA asks:
Where does Cal State Fullerton product Brett Pill - 1B figure into the Giants' future plans? Hear he has a great upside and had some of the highest numbers in regards to doubles and RBI's in Augusta last year.
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Pill had a very good year in a tough hitter's park. He led the Sally League in doubles and the Giants sent him to a strength program after the season in the hopes he can scrape a few of those over the fence. He's a rangy 6-foot-4, plays well defensively and runs OK. A lot of minor league coaches I talked to think he could be poised for big things. He'll need to keep producing, since another college 1B — Clemson's Andy D'Alessio — had a monster pro debut. I'd guess Pill would start at San Jose, though D'Alessio is probably ready for the Cal League as well.

 Q:  Dobbsie from Reno asks:
Welcome to Christmas dinner Andy, can I take your coat? We're having roast Ishikawa, braised Acosta, sauteed Whittaker, Sanders with oyster dressing, roast Griffin and a big plate of Martinez-Esteve, and aunt Betty says she's bringing a Threets and and some Niekro for dessert! Oh dear, we only have 7 serving forks- would you choose which one doesn't get a fork stuck into him?
 A: 

Moderator: Oh look! Here comes Tony Torcato swimming in the gravy boat! Yeah, it was a weed-out season for many players. Ishikawa has to be the biggest disappointment. He was a big bonus kid whose bat just hasn't developed. Too bad, since he had some success in a brief major league callup, before just plummeting this past season. His confidence has to be at an all-time low and he just hasn't shown the dedication the Giants would like to see. Acosta is off the 40-man after a series of surgeries, Whitaker hasn't shown command or health since he was drafted five years ago, Sanders has a shoulder that just won't heal and appears done, Niekro didn't pan out and Aunt Betty just can't develop any secondary pitches. Don't give up on Threets, though.

 Q:  Tony from Los Angeles asks:
I see you list Brian Wilson as the Giants closer in 2011 — will he also be their closer in 2008? And, more generally, what's your prognostication for his success? He seems to have tamed some of his wildness, but how do the Giiants feel about that? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: Wilson will close. Bruce Bochy said so at the winter meetings. When we asked if the job was merely Wilson's to lose, Bochy said spring results wouldn't totally determine what they do with Wilson. Sounds like he's their guy as long as he gets through camp healthy. Tyler Walker has experience too, and will step in if Wilson has issues. I think Wilson is confident enough to know he can throw quality strikes past major league hitters. His stuff really is outstanding.

 Q:  Prospect Hound from MLB.Com Giants Forum asks:
Good Morning Andy. I find it amusing that 7 of your top 10 prospects are position players when what really stands out for me in the Giants system is the pure 'pitching factory' depth of servicable arms. While relatively light in top end starters, the system probably possesses 30 hurlers who can be projected onto a ML staff, health permitting. Who are some of your favorites for a breakout year and why?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: It does seem like the Bizarro Giants, but that's where they stand after graduating Lincecum and Sanchez. The Giants have worked hard to balance out the system in recent drafts. That could be a bad thing if all you trust them to do is churn out serviceable arms. (Given their dismal track record producing bats, I wouldn't blame you for feeling that way.) Looking at the upper levels, the Giants could run into some organizational depth problems if they have some injuries in the rotation, since only Nick Pereira looks to be in position to help the major league club next year. You're right, one of the challenges of putting together a Giants top-30 is that you know you're leaving off 10-15 arms that have a chance to pitch in a big league bullpen. Perfect example is one '07 draftee, Steve Edlefsen, who showed a wicked slider and good fastball command at Salem-Keizer. He could be one to watch. I also like lefty Wilmin Rodriguez and the Bucardo brothers.

 Q:  Prospect Hound from MLB.com GiantsBoard, The Internet asks:
In a complicated Santeria ceremony involving a live chicken, Jesse English was raised from the dead and sent out to the Volcanoes pitching mound. To the surprise of all, he was actually effective and had decent control, even after being bumped up to San Jose. Can we expect more good things from Jesse?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Dennis Haysbert will play Jesse in the movie. He made for a great story this year, especially after his three-inning, nine-strikeout relief appearance. The Giants saw a more mature player this season (he and his girlfriend had a child), but English still has a lot to prove. If he were truly back on the map, another team would have taken him in the minor league phase of the Rule V draft last week. Still, this is a guy who stood out while competing next to Matt Cain in the Arizona League when both were a few months removed from high school. And he's left-handed. We'll see what he brings next season.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
What's the status of the rumor of Lincecum going to Toronto for Rios?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Dead. And all of San Francisco celebrates.

 Q:  phil from Scottsdale Stadium asks:
Who ranks higher, Wilber Bucardo or Clayton Tanner?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Hi Phil, see you soon. Tanner is two weeks younger than Bucardo and had a nice year at a full-season affiliate while competing against older hitters. So, yeah, it's Tanner. He wore down at the end of the season, but the Giants are pretty confident he'll be in a major league rotation. Bucardo was their best pitcher in the Arizona League, and he's one of their top talents, but he's a little tougher to project at this point.

 Q:  Lars Sather from Santa Rosa, CA asks:
Thanks for taking our questions today Andy. Where did Pablo Sandoval come out on your list? Seeing as he plays a premium position and is young for his level, I would think he rated fairly high.
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: You're welcome. Sandoval was a tough omission. He had an encouraging year at San Jose, especially in the power department, but he just didn't generate a lot of buzz from the people I spoke with. He'll need to really polish his skills behind the plate. Once he does that, the bat will play much better and he has a chance to fly through a catching-poor system.

 Q:  Greg from San Francisco asks:
Can the rotation of Cain-Lincecum-Zito-Alderson-Bumgardner be as scary as I think they could be? Would Alderson or Bumgardner profile as #2 or #3 starters in other organizations?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: There aren't many reasons to be an optimistic Giants fan right now. Even the beer costs $9.50 at the ballpark. So yes, Cain-Lincecum-Zito-Alderson-Bumgarner should be a soothing, Zen-like mantra for the masses. Go ahead, repeat it over and over. Now don't stop until 2011. In all sincerity, yes, Alderson and Bumgarner are potential No.1 starters. If the Giants hit on both of them, and the other three stay healthy, that is one smoking rotation. Now if they can only developpurchase a few offensive players between now and the end of Hillary Clinton's first administration, they might be in good shape.

 Q:  Chris Costello from Augusta, GA asks:
Pucetas seems to be very effective and has the respect of his peers, but doesn't garner much talk from the prospect community. Why is that?
 A: 

Moderator: Kevin Pucetas was named the "most spectacular pitcher" by MILB.com. I think he received that honor by rule because he had the lowest ERA among all qualified minor league pitchers. I can tell you there isn't a scout worth his clipboard who would describe Pucetas' stuff as "spectacular." That only makes his season even more admirable. He wasn't afraid to pump strikes, and even his coaches couldn't figure out why he was so darn deceptive to opposing hitters. They loved pitching him on getaway days, though. Easy 2-hour, 5-minute game and you're back on the bus. The Giants will give him a chance to let his low-80s stuff play at upper levels, and they'll be delighted if he has similar results. For now, fair or not, the radar gun isn't his friend.

 Q:  Dobbsie from Reno, NV asks:
What odds will you give me that Brian Horowitz wins the PCL batting crown this year? With his lack of power, is this what he'll need to do to break into the show?
 A: 

Moderator: I will never bet against Horwitz putting the bat on the ball....though I can't quite figure out how he does it. His approach isn't the most consistent and his swing isn't a thing of beauty. He just gets the hits to fall. The biggest roadblock is whether he'll get consistent at-bats. With the signing of Aaron Rowand, it pushes all the other outfielders back a slot. Like Horwitz, John Bowker is really only playable in left field. And after Bowker's huge year at Double-A, I'm pretty sure the Giants will want to see him every day at Fresno.

 Q:  Dave Cowen from Rough and Ready, CA asks:
Everyone really loves Noonan's approach and maturity, but does he have the tools to make the AA turn, or is his success in rookie ball more the result of an advanced approach in a raw setting?
 A: 

Moderator: If Noonan came out of Cal State Fullerton or something, yeah, I could see that. You'd have to look at D'Alessio's huge numbers in the ARL through that same prism. But I'm not sure how you could overgrade an 18-year-old high school draftee because of his advanced approach. Quite the opposite, I'd imagine. Noonan is like a tooled-up version of Kevin Frandsen. Great makeup and baseball IQ, plus more in the way of physical ability. The Giants are thrilled to have him. We'll see how he gets through a first full pro season, but he looks like a future big leaguer to me.

 Q:  Morgan Odette from Visalia asks:
I read you in the Merc all the time Andy and I'm glad you're giving us the answers today. I had never heard of Wilmin Rodriguez until he was brought up to Fresno the last week of the season. What can you tell us about him?
 A: 

Moderator: Thanks, Morgan. By the way, thanks to lovely consolidation in the newspaper industry, you can also read my Giants coverage in the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, San Mateo County Times, Marin Independent Journal, Hayward Daily Review, Fremont Argus, Willits Horse and Hound Monthy....OK, you get the picture. Rodriguez had a very nice season and might have jumped ahead of several other lefty relievers in the system like David Quinowski and Paul Oseguera (who could be a starter long term). Rodriguez hits 92 an has a good breaking ball. Most lefties with a good breaking ball end up doing pretty well. I'm not sure what precipitated the jump all the way to Fresno at the end of the season, but it's a good indication the Giants consider Rodriguez one to watch.

 Q:  Sonny from asks:
Andy: With Angel Villalona being projected as the future for 3b where does that leave Ryan Rohlinger? Also, how high is the organization on Rohlinger, and what is his ETA for the big leagues? Thanks.
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Rohlinger really showed some nice power, which was a bit unexpected. He's one of few third basemen in the system, so he's got a chance to move quickly. The Giants love his scrappy play and think he has a chance to stick in a utility role.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Overall, would you say the Giants chose wisely with their 6 picks this year?
 A: 

Moderator: Hard to complain about their first two picks, but they could've taken Rick Porcello in either slot. I don't know if an organization like Detroit can trade a Miller to Florida if they don't have a Porcello in the fold. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers haven't been afraid to pay over slot for premium talent in the division...the Giants, not so much. Their supplemental-round picks were considered overdrafts by some, especially Jackson Williams, but the Giants gave them full slot. I think they just wanted Williams, Culberson, and knew they wouldn't be there when they picked again in the fifth round. Overall, though, it's hard to complain about the Giants' haul when they've gone so many years without any chances to take premium talent.

 Q:  Greg from San Francisco asks:
Although he hasn't played professionally yet, rumors are the Giants are disappointed with Fairley thus far from his workouts in Arizona. Are we looking at another Calvin Murray?
 A: 

Moderator: I don't know if that's fair. Fairley had some shoulder tendinitis when he arrived in instructional league, so coaches limited him to a few at-bats as a designated hitter and let him focus on rehab work. The Giants thought he'd hit for power when they drafted him, and I don't think they'd change their opinion based on three weeks in Scottsdale.

 Q:  Skelly from Madison asks:
Do you have any thoughts on Andy D'Allessio and if he was considered for the Top 30 list at all?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Wrote a little about him earlier. He wasn't in the original top-30, but after some discussion, we're opening up the list in the final editing stages to worm him in. Once I'm through chatting, I'll write up his shell.

 Q:  Roger Moss from San Francisco-ish asks:
It's pretty obvious that Matos, Romo, Andersen, Pichardo, and Hedrick are all ready for the AAA bullpen. As there looks to be quite a few returning players like Sadler, Threets and Valdez, is this the year we finally stop seeing the Fresno staff stocked with old journeymen?
 A: 

Moderator: The Fresno rotation could have a six-year free-agent feel to it, but you're right, the bullpen will be interesting. Hopefully the Giants' major league 'pen performs a little better, otherwise it could be a busy shuttle up and down Route 99.

 Q:  Corbin from Los Gatos, CA asks:
I watched a number of San Jose Giants this season. Come to think of it Andy, you probably did too. Two of the pitchers I saw several times that impressed me but don't seem to be top prospects are Taylor Wilding and Joey Martinez. Can you tell me anything about how they are viewed by the organization and their probable destinations next year? Thank you.
 A: 

Moderator: Hello, Lahs Gahtas. Martinez went to Boston College and has performed well at each level. He's a winner and he can command four pitches, all of them pretty average. We'll see how he does at Double-A, but yeah, he's got a chance as a back-end guy. I hear a lot about Wilding. He had a huge year at San Jose (71 SO, 19 BB an unreal 39 hits in 60 IP), way more swings and misses than his previous stops. He's another to add to the list with Wilmin Rodriguez, Edlefsen and also the Oregon State guys, Turpen and Patterson.

Moderator: Lightning round time.

 Q:  John from NYC asks:
Thomas Neal was a back end of the 30 list prospect last year. After missing the entire season with a shoulder injury, whats the word on his recovery and is he still considered a prospect?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Neal hit .308 with a homer in 40 at-bats in the ARL. He still has a power bat, but he's missed a lot of time. I talked to him last spring, just a really nice kid, and he's supposed to report to camp fully recovered. The Giants won't know what they have until he gets out there.

 Q:  John from NYC asks:
Alex Hinshaw seems to be one of the Giants top LHP prospects in the system. Did he make the top 30 and whats his ceilingoutlook for next year?
 A: 

Moderator: Hinshaw was healthy enough to compete in instructional league. The Giants are high on him — they drafted him three times before he signed - but durability is a question mark. He isn't a top-30 guy at this time.

 Q:  Craig S. from Calgary, Alberta asks:
After a great 2006 season Brian Anderson was average in '07. Does he have the make-up to be a solid setup man at the major league level?
 A: 

Moderator: Makeup is the least of his concerns. He could be a Tim Worrell type in a big league bullpen, and a good showing in the Fall League only enhanced his standing. I suspect we'll see him in September. He's got a chance to stay for a long time, despite average stuff.

 Q:  Greg from San Francisco asks:
In what way does the Front Office's addition of Ed Creech (a guy that led the Pirates to six consecutive terrible drafts) benefit the team?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Creech will do a lot of work on the international front, taking some of the duties of the departed Rick Ragazzo. (That sounded wrong...Rick's not dead, he just left for the Dodgers. Come to think of it, many Giants fans would consider that a worse outcome.) The Giants are stuffedwith scouting minds now after hiring Ron Schueler and John Barr. That's a good thing, since the club hadn't really replaced Pat Dobson, who passed away a year ago.

 Q:  Skelly from Madison asks:
Do you see Emmanuel Burriss developing any sort of power?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: As compared to Juan Pierre, yes. He'll be good for a fence scraper or three. Hope you weren't expecting more.

 Q:  Medium Size Jim from The Internet asks:
Is Steve Edlefsen a prospect? I've read a little buzz about him but have no idea what he throws or what his ceiling is.
 A: 

Moderator: Slider, slider, slider. He's got a chance to be special.

 Q:  Craig S. from Calgary, Alberta asks:
You have Jackson Williams projected as the starting catcher in 2011. Is this due to a lack of catching depth in the system, or do you expect his offensive numbers to catch up with his defensive skills?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: A lot of scouts don't think the bat will develop, but when given a chance, catchers can surprise. Back when I covered David Ross as a catch-and-throw guy with the Dodgers, I didn't think he would hit 20 home runs in the big leagues. Williams has a good arm and a magician-fast release. The Giants will be patient with the rest.

 Q:  Jack Robinson from Soda Springs asks:
Do you read Baseball Prospectus Andy? While skimming over thier park factors article last week, I was shocked to see them name San Jose Muni as one of the most extreme pitchers parks in the entire minors. Dodd stadium I could believe, but I thought the Cal was a hitter's league. Do you agree or disagree with BP?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: I do enjoy BP, Hardball Times, as well as make the blog rounds. There's a lot of good analysis out there. I'd have to look at the numbers, but you're right, it's surprising. Without looking at the data, I'd disagree. Maybe I should ask Kevin Frandsen's opinion. He's probably played more games there than anyone.

 Q:  Lefty O'Doul from Seals Stadium, SF CA asks:
Physicists have conjectured that a massive black hole exists at the center of our universe. Astronomers at Mt. Hamilton observatory have confirmed the presence of the black hole, but have corrected its placement as being directly over 3rd base at ATT Park. In view of the total absence of a hot corner prospect above short season ball as well as the total dearth of a 3rd bagger on the ML roster, isn't the decision to shift Nate Shierholtz away from the position to move him faster looking a wee bit short sighted? Is there any chance the team will shift him back?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: That is a long question. Who are you, Ralph Barbieri? If Schierholtz could play third base, I think he'd still be there. He has the arm but I'm not sure he has the hands or instincts. Plus he made such a good transition to right field (his major league foibles there aside) that I think the Giants are pretty set with him there.

 Q:  Wes from East Cobb asks:
Compare Charlie Culberson to a current major leaguer. Is he closer to Dustin Pedroia or Troy Tulowitzki?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Maybe a knockoff version of Tulo. He isn't a current big leaguer, but one farm official likened him to Rick Burleson.

 Q:  Jabba the Ump from A galaxy far far away asks:
Can we just encase Nate in carbonite until Roberts or Winn's contracts are up?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Brian, these aren't the overpriced free agents you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

 Q:  Chad from Augusta, CA asks:
I watched quite a few Greenjacket games during the summer and they had some awesome pitchers. I also remember their defensive was pretty darn good, which always helps the pitchers out a great deal.
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Thanks for that, Chad. The GreenJackets played an aggressive brand of ball under Manager Roberto Kelly, and it's good to see his success rewarded. He'll be the first base coach on the major league staff, and I'm sure he'll make an impact by helping with outfield and baserunning instruction. Augusta pitching coach Ross Grimsley deserves credit for two straight seasons of unreal KBB ratios among all his pitchers. Check out the team stats and you'll see what I mean.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Is Albert Pujols a plausible comp for Big Daddy V?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Boy, I just don't think so. Pujols has become a Gold Glove caliber first baseman. When he first came up, I thought Albert was a DH in training. He proved me wrong. Villalona is probably closer to a right-handed Prince Fielder, though the Giants sure hope he doesn't get that big that fast.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Could you briefly touch on EME and Travis Denker? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Denker would've played in the Fall League if the Dodgers hadn't traded him. He's on the 40-man, so that tells you something. Denker does a little of everything well and is a high-energy player. He won some fans quickly in the Giants system.

 Q:  ScottAz from Phx, AZ asks:
Is Marcus Sanders now a non-prospect? What about Antoan Richardson? Seems he has better discipline than most speedsters. Can he contribute at the big league level beyond being a speedy pinch runnerdefensive replacement?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: The Giants tried loosening Sanders' shoulder capsule and it didn't take. Sadly, he is just about done. Richardson can run right up there with Velez, McBryde, Burriss, etc. He was probably San Jose's most valuable player on their Cal League championship team. He was old for his league, and I'm not sure he has enough bat to turn the corner. But I wouldn't bet against him making Connecticut a much better team next year, either.

 Q:  Greg S. from San Francisco asks:
Don't you think the Giants made a major mistake letting Lenn Sakata walk away so easily?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: A lot of people feel the same way. Sakata tried managing at Triple-A a few years ago and just didn't enjoy the experience. As you probably know, there's a lot more bitterness among players at that level. He really thrived at A-ball, and many Giants players credit him with really helping them understand the mental aspects of the game. But Sakata wanted a chance to interview for the big league coaching staff, and he didnt get that chance. In fairness to the Giants, it was tough because they hav had little turnover on the staff (Sabean favorites Dave Righetti, Ron Wotus and Mark Gardner are serving under their third manager). And they had to let Bruce Bochy and Felipe Alou choose some of their own people to round out the staff. I do think Roberto Kelly was the right choice as the new first base coach.

 Q:  Greg from Concord asks:
Where does Clay Timpner fall in with this list? Looked like a breakout year to me in AAA. The kid has been ready defensively for the majors since he was drafted.
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: Timpner would be a slightly above average defensive center fielder in the major leagues, but his bat has been all over the place. I'm sure the Giants want to see another year like the one he just showed. Timpner is certainly a better player than someone like Adam Shabala, who was in a similar role as a 4-A outfielder stuck behind others. It shows the incremental growth in the Giants system. Still, they need some blue-chip bats to compete with the kind of high-ceiling talent in the rest of the division, so I'm not sure what what kind of meaningful difference it makes having Clay Timpner in your organization. He is a hard worker and will see the majors at some point, probably in September.

Moderator: Three more questions, and I can guarantee none of them will have anything to do with the Mitchell report. That's probably why I've stayed for so long...

 Q:  BigDaddyK from Redondo Beach, Ca asks:
Are the Giants going to give Schierholtz a legit shot at the starting gig in RF, or are we going to be subjected to some 30+ clown that Sabean finds on the street?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: You know what they say about leopards and spots. With the Rowand signing, Schierholtz becomes a fourth outfielder at best. That was supposed to be Todd Linden's role to get 400 at-bats last year, and we saw what happened. In fairness to the Giants' decision to play veterans over kids, it's not like their kids have gone on to great success elsewhere. (Ask the Marlins what they thought of Linden last year, for example.) Of course, that statement doesn't absolve Sabean and the Giants as mch as it points out just how pitiful they've been at producing position players. Getting back to the here and now, I think Schierholtz will be a usable part for 200-300 at-bats next year, while Fred Lewis is likely to be traded.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
What can we expect out of Brain Bocock? Will he hit enough to play in the major leagues?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: The Giants think so. He might have been a reach as a Futures Game representative (he'll be No.11 on the top-30 list), but he's the best defensive shortstop in the system. One thing to watch: He had his right elbow scoped after the season. Since his arm is one of his best tools, it's vital that he makes a full recovery.

 Q:  Shreveport Swamp Dragon from Shreveport, LA asks:
We had it good so long here in Shreveport and saw some of the best young players come through. Now we have independant ball(yuck) yet a great baseball tradition. Will the Giants or any club ever come back? Feel my pain! Ps Lance Niekro was a legend here.
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: You may see Niekro again as a knuckleball pitcher. He broke it out one time at Fresno. After all he's been through, he could use something good. I really like Lance and I wish things had worked out better for him with the Giants.

 Q:  Ross from Davis, CA asks:
How long you planning on chatting for today Andy?
 A: 

Andy Baggarly: I'd say two hours, 39 minutes. Thanks for all the great questions, everyone, sorry I couldn't get to more. Looking forward to this again next season!