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, 2009.

 Q:  Daniel R. from Redwood City asks:
Would you consider Clay Timpner or Dan Ortmeier to be serious prospects anymore? And how is Pucetas NOT on this list?!?!?!?!
 A: 

Moderator: Hi everyone, thanks for dropping by on relatively short notice. I'll be in an Alameda County jury box next week, hence the early chat and revelation of the Giants top-10. Keep submitting your questions and I'll get to as many as I can in the next 90 minutes or so. Ortmeier signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies and still has the tools to be a major leaguer, but he hasn't shown the aptitude as of yet. He also struggled with first base and has gone back and forth about being a switch hitter. Until he figures out who he is as a player, I don't think he'll be able to convince anyone in a major league front office. Timpner had a couple of scary-bad at-bats in a brief call-up last season and appears to be a 4-A player.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Hi Andy: How close was it between Bumgarner and Posey?
 A: 

Moderator: Very close. It's difficult to rank players at the same position, let alone differentiate between a left-handed pitcher out of high school vs. a polished college catcher. Ultimately, I used this tiebreaker: I pretended I was Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin and I've been told I could have my pick of any Giants prospect in exchange for Prince Fielder. Whom do I value the highest? Well, Posey is the safest bet to be an All-Star performer. But Bumgarner is a left-hander with a huge fastball, plus command and emerging offspeed stuff. The lefty wins.

 Q:  Armando from Amarillo, Texas asks:
Who does Madison Bumgarner remind you of? Do you think he is a true #1 staring pitcher?
 A: 

Moderator: Bumgarner is in a class by himself. By the own admission of Giants front office personnel, he had the most impressive, most dominant season of any pitcher in the Brian Sabean era, which goes back a dozen years and includes some pretty live arms. His unreal season looked even better considering the Giants' modest expectations. They regarded Bumgarner as more of a project who would require time to adjust to professional life. He didn't pitch timid, did he? It's just one of many reasons that Bumgarner is viewed as a top-of-the-rotation presence. He's got the makeup to go along with big equipment.

 Q:  Dan from Fairfield, CA asks:
What odds would you lay on Posey and/or Noonan starting out in High A San Jose rather than jumping directly to AA?
 A: 

Moderator: Giants officials, including farm director Fred Stanley, told me toward the end of last season that Noonan could make the leap to Double-A easily. Posey will probably start there, too, which would allow Jackson Williams to develop his bat at San Jose. No decisions have been made, though. If the Giants had successfully negotiated a switch to Carolina, they'd probably start both players at Double-A, plus Bumgarner and Alderson. But they're returning to Norwich, where the weather can be inhospitable into May. They're wary of sending their best and brightest into less-than-ideal conditions. As for now, I'd guess Noonan will start in San Jose, especially if the club determines that Conor Gillaspie is a better fit at second base.

 Q:  Eric from New Jersey asks:
Had Nate Schierholtz qualified, where would he fit in the top 10? He had a pretty good 2008 in the minors and the majors hitting 0.320 in both.
 A: 

Moderator: I like Schierholtz and I think he's got much more upside than recent Giants position players (Ortmeier, Linden, Niekro) who've matriculated to the majors. He'd probably be somewhere in the 5-7 range, and would rank even higher if he'd shown a little more power. Schierholtz is out of options, so he's virtually guaranteed a spot on the team unless he's traded. I get the sense that once Schierholtz can gain a foothold int he majors, he'll take more aggressive swings and launch a few over the fence. That's his most valuable tool, especially in an organization with almost no upper-level power hitters.

 Q:  Meta from Atlanta asks:
I am surprised not to see Henry Sosa in the top 10. How far did he fall?
 A: 

Moderator: Sosa fell to No.13 on the list. He had a rough season following what was supposed to be relatively minor knee surgery in October, 2008. He came back at the end of May, wasn't getting the same velocity and struggled all year to repeat his mechanics. Sosa really burst on the scene the previous season, so it's a little easier to believe '08 might have been the exception rather than the rule. He's still got plenty of upside and would be a top-10 talent in a lot of systems. It speaks to the Giants' rapid influx of talent as much as Sosa's disappointing year that he fell as far as he did.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Wendell fairly? written off yet? a wasted #1 pick?
 A: 

Moderator: It wouldn't be fair to say that, no. Fairley remains a mystery because he hasn't been able to stay on the field and his level of game experience remains minimal. He's No.12 in the rankings by virtue of exceptional athleticism. He played a very good center field once his high ankle sprain healed and he was able to get about 200 at-bats in the Arizona League. He's learning all the skills to become a leadoff hitter, but it's going to take time. Fairley didn't see any quality breaking pitches at his small-town Mississippi high school. The Giants will be able to make a better projection after Fairley completes a full pro season at Augusta next year.

 Q:  Eric from New Jersey asks:
Is Roger Kieshnick in the 11-15 range? He had a pretty good showing in the Hawaiian Winter League.
 A: 

Moderator: Kieschnick is ranked 14th. He was originally a couple spots lower but his Hawaii performance gave him a boost. If he can make more consistent contact, Kieschnick profiles as a power-hitting beast with more athleticism than an Adam Dunn-type. He's built like a bigger version of Daniel Ortmeier. And like Ortmeier, he runs very well for his size. The strikeouts are a little overwhelming at this juncture, though. He likes the big stage and got solid marks for his effort and preparedness in instructional league.

 Q:  Timmy L. from San Francisco asks:
Does Steve Decker's move to Double-A directly correspond with the Giants wishes to start Posey in Connecticut?
 A: 

Moderator: Congrats on the Cy, Timmy. Decker received a promotion because he earned it. He has aspirations to become a big league manager and he's moving up another rung on the ladder. By now, it's reasonable to believe that he's being groomed as Bruce Bochy's replacement. I alluded to Posey's assignment earlier, but I've got to believe he'll begin in Double-A where he can work with Decker on catching fundamentals. Posey is still new to catching, don't forget. He has almost no game-calling skills and he needed a refresher course on blocking balls, etc., this winter.

 Q:  Timmy L. from San Francisco asks:
Where do you think Conor Gillespie will start the season?
 A: 

Moderator: One more from Timmy. Gillaspie's assignment will depend on his position. He didn't wow coaches with his play at third base. Just watching him take infield, he takes a long time to trasfer and throw, and his arm seems to be erratic. If he's limited to second base, he might start at Double-A and stay one level in front of Nick Noonan. He's got enough polish to handle that assignment.

 Q:  Craig from Calgary, Alberta asks:
7th rd pick Aaron King had a decent debut in the AZL. What else can you tell us about him and what is his ceiling?
 A: 

Moderator: Even when the Giants drafted college hitters with their first four picks, they wound up with some very impressive arms. Three of them made the top-30, in fact, including King at No.21. He blows a mid-90s fastball past hitters and his breaking ball misses bats as well. He's got a high leg kick and command is an issue. But the stuff is dominant enough to believe he'll make a big league contribution as a reliever, if not a starter.

 Q:  Dan Rubin from Napa, CA asks:
Why did you rank Ehire Adrianza 6th in the organization? Do you really think that he has more skill and potential than the other 4 members of your list, as well as prospects not on the list like Rodger Kieshnick, Kevin Puectas, Brandon Crawford, and Henry Sosa?
 A: 

Moderator: Adrianza was an aggressive ranking, to be sure. But the Giants' internal evaluation, as well as those of scouts who tracked the Arizona League, was that he profiles as an impact performer at a highly valued position. He doesn't look like a burner, but he has amazing first-step quickness and a tremendous feel for the game — which is pretty remarkable given his lack of professional exposure. He really received unanimous raves from every person I interviewed who watched him play. Remember, these rankings are based on a player's ceiling and the likelihood that they'll reach that ceiling. It's a subjective ranking, and while someone like Gillaspie is a better bet to end his career with more big league service time, Adrianza profiles as someone who could make a bigger impact if he hits the mark.

 Q:  www.AUTOGRAFFIX.com from Madison, WI asks:
Is there any chance Angel Villalona becomes the next Irvin Joel Guzman? Is he really the 2nd Coming of THE BIG CAT?
 A: 

Moderator: Maybe, on both counts. Villalona still ranked ahead of Tim Alderson for me because he handled himself well in his first professional season and really seemed to take care of business. That included a commitment to conditioning, although he'll be a base clogger no matter how much time he spends on the cardio machine. Villa enjoys playing the game and made tremendous strides last season. While the rest of the league was wearing down, he was getting stronger. There might not be a player in the minor leagues who can crush a mistake slider any better. The big challenge will come when he graduates to higher levels and must learn to work counts and lay off competitive pitches out of the zone. Based on the trajectory he set for himself this year, I'm optimistic he'll continue to advance.

 Q:  Mike C. from Lynchburg, VA asks:
Thanks for the chat! What kind of upside do you see in Alderson? If you had to rank the top 10 righthanded pitching prospects in the minors right now, 1) would he make it and 2)where?
 A: 

Moderator: You have to feel for Alderson a bit. He was one of the best pitchers in the Cal League despite going against older competition, he laid to rest any doubt he could excel out of the windup and he remained physically strong through his first full pro season. Yet that Bumgarner guy got all the attention, and deservedly so. The Giants expected Alderson to be instantly competitive because of his command and maturity. They think he'll gain a few ticks on his fastball as he continues to mature. I'd be very, very surprised if the Giants take him off a starter's development track, although he could break into the majors as a reliever if that's the team's greatest need in a pennant race situation. Because I only rank the Giants, I couldn't give you an answer on where he'd rank among the top right-handed pitching prospects in the minors. But I'd have to believe there would be a spot for him in the top 10.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Tool for tool, how would you compare Posey to Wieters?
 A: 

Moderator: Great question. Posey is the better pure hitter but Wieters has more power potential, and of course, is a switch-hitter. Posey is a bit more athletic and probably will be referred to more often by announcers as someone who "runs well for a catcher." Both did some relieving in college and have very good arms behind the plate. And both score high in terms of leadership and intangibles. It's really astounding when you count up the similarities, all the way down to their draft position and signing bonus. Wieters grades higher overall at this stage, especially because he's got a boffo pro season under his belt already.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Could you project Posey's timetable to the bigs, assuming he proves everyone right? Could he reach San Francisco faster than Lincecum did?
 A: 

Moderator: As is often the case, it'll probably be a matter of luck or opportunity. If Bengie Molina lands on the disabled list at any point next season, and you can make your own odds on that, I'd fully expect Posey to receive a big league call-up. He'll almost certainly be the starting catcher in 2010.

Moderator: Lightning round...

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Where is former elite prospect Marcus Sanders? He is still listed in the BA data base but had no 2008 stats.
 A: 

Moderator: The Giants released him last year. The shoulder never healed properly.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
He makes the appearance of being the hardest throwing wildest pitcher ever - does Eric Threets finally get that small margin of some control he needs to stay in the majors in 2009?
 A: 

Moderator: If he makes it to the majors, you probably won't be rooting for him. Assuming you're a Giants fan, that is. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
Having Posey in the system notwithstanding, does Jackson Williams profile as a backup catcher? Is there a real possibility that he can hit enough to be an everyday player?
 A: 

Moderator: Williams was a fringe top-30 player for me before I began collecting information. But he rocketed all the way into the teens because of a flat-out superlative instructional league. He made simple changes to his approach at the plate that allowed him to use all fields. I think he bought into the idea that he was only in pro ball for his defensive skills, which are among the best in the minor leagues. He needed a shot of confidence that he could be a competitive hitter, too, and coaches believe he's primed for a breakout season in 2009. His manager at Augusta, Andy Skeels, came up in the Padres system with the likes of Sandy Alomar and Benito Santiago. Defnensively, he said neither of those All-Stars were as good as Williams at the same stage. That's high praise.

 Q:  Joe from Illinois asks:
Where do Ryan Rohlinger and Brian Bocock fit in?
 A: 

Moderator: Rohlinger needs to get stronger before he can profile as a big league utility player. Bocock needs to regain his health and confidence at the plate. As of now, you can't predict Bocock will hit enough to make the Double-A turn. He'll be given every chance, though, because of his special defensive skills.

 Q:  Craig from Calgary, Alberta asks:
What is the status of Brian Anderson? He was looking on pace to help the major league pen in 08 before his injury. Will he be ready for the start of spring training and where does he start the season?
 A: 

Moderator: Anderson had Tommy John surgery last year. He might not begin the season with an affiliate, but he's expected to be competitive by May.

 Q:  Dan McKay from Albuquerque, N.M. asks:
Any fresh reports on Thomas Neal? Is there a chance he can move back to the outfield?
 A: 

Moderator: Neal was playing left field again in instructional league and doing a credible job. It's important he reestablish himself there, because he's likely to move up the ladder with Angel Villalona. I consider Neal one of the Giants' best under-the-radar talents.

 Q:  Dan McKay from Albuquerque, N.M. asks:
Is Mike McBryde showing any signs of improvement with the bat?
 A: 

Moderator: McBryde finished with a nice batting average, but he was too passive and his slugging percentage told the story. He became a little too slap happy. He has the tools to be a 15-20 homer guy and coaches are encouraging him to go in that direction. If his development stalls for any reason, Dick Tidrow will be ready to stick him on a mound. He covers too much ground in center field for the Giants to quit on him anytime soon, though.

 Q:  Greg from Long Island asks:
Nick Noonan had once been compared to Chase Utley, minus some power, does that comparison still hold up?
 A: 

Moderator: I didn't see Utley as a freshman a UCLA, so it's hard for me to compare the two players at a similar stage. Noonan made strides at second base but has more to address before he could be considered an above-average defensive player. He's a highly intelligent hitter whose plate coverage skills can be counterproductive at times. Once he becomes more selective, he could move very quickly. Physically, Noonan is tall and lean. It's reasonable to assume he'll get stronger as he moves into his early 20s. For now, his pure hitting talent at a young age makes him a better prospect than someone like Conor Gillaspie.

 Q:  Drew from New York asks:
Please tell me Bumgarner and Alderson aren't simply Foppert and Williams v 2.0.
 A: 

Moderator: I'd love to tell you that, but injury is a risk for any young pitcher.

 Q:  walter from plano, Texas asks:
This is a question I have always wondered about...has there ever been a player that has given back some of his contract money. I sit here and watch Barry Zito eat up millions and millions of dollars with this club and little remorse. I could not possibly continue to take in millions of dollars and not do a good job. He is well below a marginal pitcher at this point. Does he not know winning brings happiness in this game and tying the hands of owners can prevent that!
 A: 

Moderator: There is this entity called the Players' Association...

 Q:  Tobias Funke from california asks:
Where did Darren Ford rank in the top 30 and how is his switch hitting coming along? He looks like a potential star if he can put it together.
 A: 

Moderator: Ford fared well enough in instructional league that coaches didn't scrap the switch-hitting experiment. Way, way too early to predict the results. He's got the speed to collect 30-40 infield hits a season as a leadoff man,. He didn't make the top 30 and I wouldn't get excited yet.

 Q:  Charles from Greensboro, Georgia asks:
Why isn't Kevin Pucetas in the top 10? Where does he rank?
 A: 

Moderator: Pucetas is 15th, which is where he belongs until we see his stuff play against upper-level hitters. He has a chance to be a back-end major league starter and he's certainly a stronger prospect than he was at the beginning of last season. But I don't buy Brian Sabean's comments that Pucetas is a candidate for the major league rotation. Just a hunch, but it sounds like they're pumping up his value to trade him.

 Q:  Jerry from San Diego asks:
How much of a drop off do you see between the prospect status of Alderson and Noonan?
 A: 

Moderator: Rather significant, actually. The list is much deeper than in past seasons, but the top 4 really stand out.

 Q:  alex from caracas asks:
i saw rodriguez in dominican and also saw yorman rodriguez of the reds in venezuela, and honestly they just two big guys can't hit at all, that is if is only bp,and also see miguel cabrera and carlos gonzalez and the were far superior players,well time tell ,what you think?
 A: 

Moderator: Thanks, Alex. I've heard wildly differing opinions on Rodriguez, too. Felipe Alou is sold on the kid. Obviously, the Giants were confident enough to give him $2.55 million. But they're betting on his athleticism, body type and the tools he's displayed in a non-game environment. Others have told me that it's hard to predict his ability will catch up to the rest. It'll probably be a couple years before we have a better idea.

 Q:  Mike from Raleigh, NC asks:
Looking at your projected 2012 lineup I noticed that Pablo Sandoval was missing. Is this because you do not know at what position he will end up, or is it because you question his ability to remain a mlb starter? Would he have been slotted in the top half of your list if he had maintained eligibility? Thanks!
 A: 

Moderator: I think people take the projected lineups a little too seriously. But yeah, it's tougher to assign Sandoval to a position than Villalona or Posey, both of whom project as big league starters. Sandoval missed eligibility by a dozen at-bats or so. He'd have been No.5, and I expect he'll establish himself as a star in 2009. I'd like to add that I was totally paranoid about the last five spots on the top 30 this year, mostly because I didn't want to omit the next Sandoval from the list.

 Q:  Mad Bum from San Jose asks:
Who are the Giants' breakout candidates for 2009 among those not listed in the top 10?
 A: 

Moderator: Francisco Peguero has a very good blend of tools and makeup. He could be primed for a breakout season.

 Q:  Jerry from San Diego asks:
Having watched Brian Wilson last year, I worry he has too much Billy Koch in him (too straight of a fastball). Who in the Giants system could potentially overtake him as closer if he struggles.
 A: 

Moderator: They'd probably look at Affeldt and Howry first, with Sergio Romo another option. Waldis Joaquin and Osiris Matos could make an impact, but probably not in the ninth inning. And there's always Merkin...

 Q:  JP from still live at home asks:
Buster Posey will remind us of ???
 A: 

Moderator: B.J. Surhoff

 Q:  Ian from Portland, OR asks:
I was impressed watching RP Edwin Quirarte in Salem-Keizer this summer. Does he figure into the rankings or is he still aways off?
 A: 

Moderator: He's a back-end top-30 guy. I love relievers who throw a splitter and get consistent action on it. A mistake splitty usually ends up in the seats, which is why you don't see many of them. Quirarte looks to have a good feel for the pitch.

 Q:  Jaeson from SF asks:
Currently, the prospect your most rooting for and why?
 A: 

Moderator: It's hard not to pull for Kevin Frandsen after all he's been through. Nobody appreciates putting on a Giants uniform more than him.

 Q:  Chris G from Sacramento asks:
What happened to the 16 year old RHP, Luis Mateo? I read the Giants had him and now I've heard the Padres have him?
 A: 

Moderator: Mateo had a preexisting elbow issue and the Giants got out of the their deal with him. I'm not sure of his current health status.

 Q:  Joe C. from San Ramon, CA asks:
I don't see Pablo Sandoval's name on the 2012 lineup and I see you have Conor Gillaspie as the 3rd baseman. Does that mean you like Gillaspie's bat over Sandoval's?
 A: 

Moderator: No, I just don't see Sandoval being a long-term solution at third base. I don't see him starting there at all, to be honest.

 Q:  Mad Bum from San Jose asks:
Where did Travis Ishikawa end up on your list? Is he destined to be a platoon 1b/defensive replacement in the majors because he can't hit left-handers?
 A: 

Moderator: Ishikawa is 17th on the list. He still has a lot to prove, especially after a rollercoaster career in the minor leagues. He looks like a platoon player to me.

 Q:  Greg from Davis, CA asks:
Should the rest of the NL be petrified of a rotation that is this: Lincecum Cain Bumgarner Alderson Sanchez/TBD
 A: 

Moderator: What, have you forgotten Barry Zito? If the names you listed remain healthy, the Giants should be perennial contenders in 2010 and beyond — and maybe sooner. They're playing in the right division, that's for sure. Thank you all for submitting your questions!