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.
Ike (SF CA): Does MadBum's loss of velocity as 2009 went on concern you at all? Was is simply a matter of being tired, or something else?
Hi everyone and thanks for joining us
this morning/afternoon. Lots of good questions already. Keep sending
them and I'll get to as many as possible.
A loss of velocity would be troubling for any prospect and Bumgarner's
fastball is really his only premium pitch at the moment, so yes, it was
a pretty straightforward call to bump Buster Posey ahead of him.
Bumgarner still competed exceptionally well in Double-A despite losing
steam in early summer. From what I understand, he's a perfectionist who
does a lot of throwing on the side. That's what led to arm fatigue. The
Giants believe he's a strong-bodied kid who will adapt to the workload,
but he does throw across his body quite a bit. Bumgarner doesn't have
enough secondary stuff to succeed while throwing 88-90 mph. So yes, his
velocity is absolutely a concern. But he does have some deception that
should aid him. Like Jonathan Sanchez, hitters don't pick up his
fastball well. He's still one of the premier pitching prospects in the
minors, and I think it'd be a major disservice to him if he has to
start the year in the big leagues. I fully expect Brian Sabean to sign
a free-agent pitcher to round out his rotation, whether it's bringing
back Brad Penny or finding someone else.
Rick (Dallas): Andy,
Where would you rank the Giants Org. in terms of prospects? Top three?
If not for murder and visa problems, where would Angel Villalona have
ranked? When should we see Nick Noonan in San Fran?
Hi Rick. That's a tough question for me
because I'm not ranking multiple systems. I get the sense that the
Giants rank in the upper third and they have good overall depth of
interesting bats/arms, but other systems might have more high-level
prospects that are closer to the big leagues. And after the trades that
sent Tim Alderson and Scott Barnes to the Pirates and Indians,
respectively, the Giants' starting pitching depth is probably the
thinnest it's been in a number of years. So they're probably not a
Villalona would've been in the top 5 for sure. Hard to say whether he'd
be ahead of Thomas Neal or not. Even before the incident, Villalona had
conditioning issues and hadn't shown much plate discipline. I'd become
less convinced he'd become Andres Galarraga and not Wily Mo Pena. If I
recall correctly, he's No.30 on our list, mostly because we weren't
sure if he'd ever play again with his murder trial pending. It looks as
if the case is falling apart with rumors of the victim's family getting
paid off. We'll see if there are any witnesses left when it goes to
court soon. For now, Villalona's U.S. work visa has been pulled and
it's anyone's guess when/if he can resume his pro career. It's a sad
situation, but it's out of the Giants' hands.
Dan (Oakland): Baggs, what was your reasoning for leaving Noonan out of the top ten?
Noonan was No. 10 on the list I
submitted, with Ehire Adrianza just missing. But the guys at BA do such
a tremendous job covering all the minor leagues, talking to a wider
range of scouts, etc., that they have my editorial blessing to make any
changes they deem necessary. That meant bumping Adrianza ahead of
Noonan and Brandon Crawford, who was No.7 on the list I submitted. All
in all, the rest of baseball isn't as high on Crawford — particularly
his bat — as the Giants are.
As for Noonan, he's been young for his league and he's shown good
contact/clutch hitting skills, but he's merely an average defender at
second base — what I consider a non-premium position. Some scouts love
him, others cringe at the way he "bars" his arm. (Chase Utley does that
too, though. So I'm not sure it's such a death blow.) I'd point out
that Noonan's drop has less to do with his performance than the overall
improvement in the system, though. He's still a name to watch.
Charles (San Fran): Was Surkamp close to the top 10? What does he throw besides the best curve in the system?
Eric Surkamp is in the top 30, so you
can check out his full capsule in the book. He's a three-quarters
slinger who throws in the upper 80s but he hides the ball well and his
fastball appears harder because it�s coming out of his shirt. He�s a
good athlete whose best pitch is a curveball with plus depth and snap.
He also commands an average changeup. He led the organization in
strikeouts, which is always an impressive feat. But he was facing less
experienced competition in the Sally League. We'll see what he does in
the Cal League next year, or possibly the Double-A Eastern League.
Daniel (Boston, MA): Did Jason Stoffel receive consideration for a top 10 spot with the way he dominated in his pro debut?
Yes, but it had more to do with his
overall sheen as a prospect than his domination in the Northwest
League. Any college pitcher who can locate a little bit usually fares
well at Salem-Keizer. Stoffel is a hard thrower who should move fast.
He's ranked in the teens, I think.
Daniel (Boston, MA): The Giants seem to have a
wave of relief pitching on the way with Dan Runzler, Steve Edlefsen,
Waldis Joaquin, and Jason Stoffel. After Runzler, who excites the
Giants staff the most?
All of them, really. And a lefty, Joe
Paterson, will be a big leaguer, too. Aside from Runzler, who is pretty
much assured a spot in the bullpen, Joaquin is the closest to being a
major league regular. He's the highest-ranked among the names you
mentioned. Edlefsen has lock-down stuff and a very good slider. I'd
wager you'll see him in the big leagues at some point next season, too.
Relievers seem to get turned and burned quicker than anyone else in
this game, so you can never have enough of them.
Darren (San Mateo): Will Craig Clark get a shot in the majors in 2010? Did he fall in the 11-20 range?
Gillaspie has a razor-sharp knowledge
of the strike zone that might have worked against him in the Cal
League. His manager, Andy Skeels, said Gillaspie knew the zone better
than most umps and often got rung up on borderline pitches. Skeels
honestly feels that Gillaspie will shine the closer he gets to the
major leagues. I expected more from him in the Cal League, too, but
hat's off to a Giants prospect who believes in waiting for his pitch.
There ain't many of those — in the minors or on the big league roster.
Daniel (Boston, MA): Do the Giants staff have
any theories on why Conor Gillespie didn't explode out of the gate the
way they thought he would? At the time of the draft Gillespie was
considered to have one of the most advanced bats.
Whoops, I answered the wrong question.
Sorry about that. OK....Craig Clark...
He's in the top 30 after an enormously successful year. It's hard to
know where to rank college command pitchers. They just have no margin
for error. But Clark didn't lose after May 7 and San Jose was 22-3 in
his starts. Clark throws in the upper 80s but registers more strikeouts
than your average finesse guy. He tied a Cal League record when he
struck out 10 consecutive batters in a June 1 victory over Stockton.
He's got an 80 mph slider, a 72-mph curve and he�s able to bust a
fastball on the hands without fear of missing middle-in. He's a
cerebral pitcher who loves to mix patterns. It'll be interesting to see
how his stuff plays at higher levels.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Rafael Rodriguez come close this year? What's the skinny on him?
Yes, Rodriguez just missed. Like
Noonan, his drop had more to do with the overall health of the system.
With Rodriguez, we don't have much to go on yet. He isn't anywhere
close to growing into his 6-foot-5 frame. For now, his AZL debut has to
be considered a huge success — .299 with a .392 OBP. Coaches tried to
create as low-pressure an atmosphere as possible, mostly batting
Rodriguez seventh or eighth. He maintained a controlled approach, hit
almost .400 with runners in scoring position and made plenty of
line-drive contact. He's got everything to learn about he game, so be
patient. I have every expectation he'll be back in the top 10 next
Daniel (Boston, MA): Does Brett Pill have the
kind of power a 1b typically needs in the majors? It's not like he is
an average-hitting machine or a big OBP guy either.
The Giants were sufficiently intrigued
by Pill to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and secure a place for him
with Margarita in the Venezuelan League. They'd like to see him add
more strength, but he probably won't be a 30-homer guy in the big
leagues. J.T. Snow didn't have prototypical power for a first baseman,
but he was a solid contributor on several playoff teams. After the last
couple of seasons, though, I wouldn't blame any Giants fan who wants to
see some bombs from that position. Pill got where he's at by exceeding
expectations. He'll have to continue to make believers as he goes.
Daniel (Boston, MA): What's the word on how Zack Wheeler looked in the instructional league this fall?
Wheeler competed well and impressed
coaches with his makeup. He's got more secondary stuff than Madison
Bumgarner did when he first arrived in Scottsdale.
Tex (OAKLAND CA): How close was it between Posey and Bumgarner for the top spot this year?
Not very close. There's no "right" way
to value a college catcher against a high school lefty, but Posey's
success at every level combined with Bumgarner's drop in velocity made
it a pretty easy decision.
Jake (CA): Are the Giants looking into the possibility of using Bumgarner out of the pen, or are they dead set on starting him?
Daniel (Boston, MA): With CFs like Mike
McBryde, Darren Ford, and Francisco Peguero coming up through the
system, what's the plan with the Rowand and his disappointments? Three
more years on that epic fail of a contract, correct?
The Rowand has 3-36 left on his
contract. He's still a serviceable major league player, though he tends
to disappear for weeks at a time while swinging at sliders in the
opposing batter's box. It's not like he's a complete payroll drain like
Jason Schmidt for the Dodgers the last couple years.
But yes, between his deal and Edgar Renteria's, the Giants have a lot
of money tied up in non-stars. There's no moving that money unless they
take on somebody else's unwanted goods.
Lenn Sakata (San Jose): Would you agree that
Brandon Crawford's performance in the Fall League showed that he was
rushed to Double-A and should still be considered a top prospect?
Aloha, "Lenn." Crawford inspires a lot
of disagreement. As I mentioned earlier, some scouts just don't believe
he'll make enough contact against quality fastballs. He's the most well
rounded of all the Giants' middle infield prospects and I think he'll
be a quality big leaguer. Maybe not an All-Star, but you never know. To
answer your question, yes, he's most certainly a prospect.
Timmy L. (San Francisco): Will Jackson Williams hit enough to be servicable as Posey's backup in 2011 and beyond?
I used to think so. Now I'm less sure.
Williams has competition in the system, too. One of the most surprising
names to crack the top 30 was Johnny Monell, a left-handed hitter with
power whose receiving skills are improving.
Timmy L. (San Francisco): The Giants have long been rumored around the ill-sighted Wagner Mateo who remains unsigned. Is the club still interested?
They are interested, but like everyone
else, they want to find out what's happening with his vision issues —
and what it'll do to his price.
Steve (Chicago): In Francisco Peguero's
write-up he's compared to Sandoval. Is that more because of his style
or his ceiling (w/ less power, more speed/defense)?
It's mostly because he plays with such
infectious energy and enthusiasm. Also, because he swings at
everything. Other than that, they're very different players.
Joe (San Francisco): What position will the
Giants start Tommy Joseph next year? Seems like everyone agrees that he
will need to move off of catcher.
I won't disagree either, Joe. The comp
I hear most often is Paul Konerko. I watched him catch in San
Bernardino, but funny, he hasn't worn shinguards too often in the big
leagues. Joseph has more value behind the plate, so the Giants will
give him an opportunity to show he can stay there. But the smart
money's on Joseph picking up a first baseman's mitt within a few years.
Harry (SF): In 10 years' time, who will have won more batting titles — Posey or Mauer?
Well, Mauer already has a head start, so...
Posey has all the tools to be a star offensive player, but I'd place his ceiling somewhere between Mauer and B.J. Surhoff.
Sue (San Jose): Is Craig Clark the second
coming of Kevin Pucetas? A pitcher that can perform due to a feel for
pitching and control at the lower levels but will get crushed in more
I addressed Clark, but Pucetas bears a
mention. He dropped out of my top 30 because he got mauled in spring
training, didn't fare well at Triple-A and doesn't have the kind of
stuff to earn the benefit of the doubt, generally speaking. But one of
the commenters on my blog made a great point a few days ago: Pucetas
only had one really terrible stretch of four or five starts in August.
Throw those out and he had a mid-3 ERA in the hitter-friendly PCL. So
he's not ruined as a prospect yet. But yes, the point is valid: A lot
of command college pitchers fail to make adjustments at upper levels.
The ones that do often have successful careers in the big leagues. The
Giants really lack starting pitching depth, so Clark and Pucetas have a
terrific opportunity if they can put together consistent starts next
Timmy L. (San Jose): Am I crazy in thinking
that Jesus Guzman can be a right handed Mark Sweeney? Pinch-hit him
every single game and he can be servicable for the limited start at 1B.
The Giants like experience on their
bench, so I"m not sure they'll see Guzman in that role. He's not
repeating his huge winter so far in Venezuela, either. He is playing
first base down there, though.
Kent (Sonoma, CA): Hi Andy,
Thank you for the chat. Based on last season, do you think the Giants
can accurately evaluate whether Bowker, Schierholz, Ishikawa, Lewis and
Velez have the potential to be major league starters? Is the transition
to the ML tougher in the Giants organization then in other ML
In some cases, perhaps. The Giants
aren't the most patient with their own unestablished players. I think
they've given up on Lewis and they might be oversold on a few good
weeks out of Velez in the second half. It infuriated fans that
Schierholtz didn't get regular time last season, but from my vantage
point, the biggest mistake they made was barely giving Bowker a chance.
His Triple-A numbers weren't just a Todd Linden mirage. He changed
completely as a hitter — recording an equal number of walks and
strikeouts. I think he needs to be given an everyday role next season
in left field or at first base. His Venezuelan experience lasted just
two games, though. He told me in September that he really didn't want
to go there. As to the second half of your question, I do think it's
harder to come up as a position player in the Giants system. I suppose
that's obvious when you haven't developed an All-Star hitter in a
generation. That's due to a lack of talent, but you've got to believe
there's something systemic that's wrong, too. We'll get a great read on
this in the next few years, since so much of their better talent in the
system is comprised of hitters.
Joey (San Francisco): I understand the 2013
lineup is a total projection, but if you feel Adrianza is a better
prospect than Crawford at SS, shouldn't he be the starter? Or are you
saying Adrianza has more upside with more bust potential?
As mentioned earlier, I had Crawford
ranked higher on the list I submitted. But that's a pretty fair
statement. Crawford is more likely to reach the big leagues and stay
there, but Adrianza has more overall star potential.
Timmy L. (San Francisco, CA): Does the move to Richmond mean that Double-A should no longer be looked at as a dead zone for Giants hitters?
You know what they say about blind squirrels...
Henry Thompson (Sausalito, CA): Hello who was
closer to making your list, Brett Pill or Darren Ford? And who would
you choose if you were able to pick only one.
Ford is ranked higher. There was a
report that he got robbed recently while making a cash deposit at his
offseason job in New Jersey! Yikes. Be careful, Darren.
Jesse (NC): Can you give us a sample-size scouting report of Matt Graham?
He's in the top 30, so there will be a
report in the book. He is strong, broad-shouldered, projectable and
throws a low-90s fastball with heavy sink. Because he doesn�t repeat
his delivery, his velocity tends to be all over the map. But he has
outstanding arm strength and was pumping 95 mph in instructional league.
Tom (San Francisco, CA): Will Neal now be shifted to first base?
Not yet. His arm strength is back so he's in the outfield.
Marco (San Diego): The Giants do have a
dilemma with what to do with Posey. If he has a strong spring, how does
he not become your number 1? If they intend to compete, do you not
think this is the smartest move? A win in April is worth the same in
June so why hold him back?
Bruce Bochy said the Posey decision
could be made in the spring, but I don't see how that's the case. They
need to make personnel decisions long before then. Brian Sabean's MO is
to sign veterans as short-term stopgaps. They did it last year, signing
Edgar Renteria when they made the decision to move Emmanuel Burriss off
of shortstop. For all the abuse they took over that signing, Sabean
continues to defend it. He said it was the right decision based on the
way Burriss failed to prove he belonged in the big leagues. Posey is a
different breed, but old habits are hard to break, I'd expect they will
sign a free agent catcher (Yorvit Torrealba?) to start the season, and
make Posey force his way onto the roster/into the lineup when he shows
he's ready like Tim Lincecum did in '07. I'm not saying it's the right
decision. Just predicting that's what they'll do.
Murk (Oakland): Baggs any sleeper candidates that didnt make the list we should keep an eye on for next season?
Always. Pablo Sandoval was my first
omission from the top-30 list two years ago, and I've used that as
motivation ever since.
Brandon Belt, Steve Edlefsen, Cameron Lamb, Drew Reichard and the
Bucardo brothers were my nearest misses this time around. Edward
Concepcion and Hector Sanchez just missed, too.
Thanks everyone for the great questions. I'm headed to Indy for the
winter meetings next weekend, so check out the Extra Baggs blog on
Mercurynews.com for all the latest Giants updates this offseason and