San Francisco Giants Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports





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, 2011.

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San Francisco Giants

The Giants couldn't win a World Series during the Barry Bonds era. They couldn't get it done with names like Mays, McCovey and Marichal, either. Yet there was a magic within their starless ranks in 2010.

As unbelievable as the story might be, the Giants really did win the first World Series in the franchise's 53 seasons in San Francisco. They're still cleaning up the ticker tape from the parade down Market Street, which drew almost a million people.

For all the talk of misfits, castoffs, rally thongs and black beards, the Giants won the National League West and charged through three postseason series because their homegrown pitching staff was deeper and better than every opponent they faced. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner—all first-round picks—remained solid to the end, and Jonathan Sanchez was just as good in his first two playoff starts before fading down the stretch. The bullpen was dominant, led by Brian Wilson, whom the organization shrewdly took as a 24th-round pick in 2003 knowing he needed Tommy John surgery.

Guiding these golden arms was Buster Posey, who became the first rookie backstop to hit in the middle of the order for a World Series winner since Yogi Berra in 1947. Posey won the NL rookie of the year award, San Francisco's first recipient since John Montefusco in 1975. That's a pretty good reflection on scouting director John Barr, who made Posey his first pick for the franchise in 2008, and a big reason why the Giants were Baseball America's Organization of the Year.

San Francisco stood in fourth place at the all-star break and made over its Opening Day lineup during the summer. Only Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe remained everyday players from beginning to end. From Pat Burrell to Cody Ross to Andres Torres, there weren't enough Cinderella slippers to go around.

The championship was an affirmation for Brian Sabean, the longest-tenured general manager in the game, who refused to break up his young rotation to get offensive help. In a champagne-soaked clubhouse after the clinching win against the Rangers, Sabean resisted wagging his finger at critics of his insular management style and his scouting-heavy evaluation methods. Instead, he said he was happy for the club's longtime employees, folks behind the scenes and long-suffering fans in the Bay Area.

Manager Bruce Bochy also came out of the title run having earned a newfound appreciation among Giants fans, who often criticized his lineup whims during the season but had no reason to complain as he made one genius move after another in the playoffs.

Now San Francisco looks ahead to defending in 2011, confident in a rotation that is under club control through 2012 but aware they have work to do on the lineup. Sabean received the green light to take the payroll over $100 million for the first time, which should give him enough money to cover raises to his nine arbitration-eligible players, and the team re-signed Burrell and Huff and brought in Miguel Tejada.

The Giants graduated most of their elite minor league talent, led by Posey and Bumgarner, and the system is light on starting pitching. They do have one more potential impact player on the cusp of the big leagues in first baseman Brandon Belt, and they're eager to see how quickly their top two 2010 draft picks, college outfielders Gary Brown and Jarrett Parker, can move through the system.

1.  Brandon Belt, 1b   Born: April 20, 1988B-T: L-LHt: 6-5Wt: 210
 Drafted: Texas, 2009 (5th round)Signed by: Todd Thomas
Brandon BeltBackground: Belt first drew the attention of scouts as a pitcher at Hudson High (Lufkin, Texas), showing an 88-93 mph fastball from the left side and a solid feel for throwing strikes. The Red Sox drafted him in the 11th round in 2006 but couldn't sign him, as he opted instead to attend San Jacinto (Texas) JC. He had more success as a hitter than a pitcher at San Jac, and turned down another 11th-round offer (this one from the Braves) in 2007 to attend Texas as a full-time first baseman. He had a closed stance and an armsy swing that served him well with an aluminum bat, but scouts weren't sold on his approach and he was vulnerable to hard stuff inside. Longtime Giants crosschecker Doug Mapson urged his team to take a fifth-round gamble on Belt in 2009 because of his athleticism and knowledge of the strike zone, a move that has paid off bigger than anyone could have forecasted. He held out all summer before agreeing to a slightly over-slot $200,000 bonus, signing too late to make his pro debut. In instructional league following the 2009 seson, Belt made rapid progress after coaches had him try and upright, open stance. "All we did was square him up and give him some direction back toward the middle," San Francisco farm director Fred Stanley said. "Just kind of freed him up so his hips and hands can work . . . and my goodness." Belt exploded in 2010, dominating on three levels. He batted .352/.455/.620 while moving from high Class A San Jose to Triple-A Fresno, leading the minors in hitting and OPS while ranking second in on-base percentage. He continued to batter pitchers in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .372/.427/.616.

Scouting Report: Belt combines tremendous plate discipline with an up-the-middle approach that serves him well against lefthanders and righthanders alike. He makes adjustments from pitch to pitch—something almost unheard of for a first-year pro—and enjoys the mental side of hitting. His power is through the middle of the field, and he should be good for at least 20 homers per year. His ability to make consistent hard contact could provide the Giants a lefthanded version of Buster Posey in the very near future. Belt is built like a beanpole but has no glaring weaknesses. He runs well for his size, has average speed and is a smart baserunner. He has plus range and hands at first base, where he could contend for Gold Gloves. His athleticism also led to a trial on the outfield corners late last season, and he performed very well. He understands where to position himself has enough arm strength for right field. His intelligence and aptitude are off the charts.

The Future: Belt's pro debut was so overwhelmingly successful that Giants GM Brian Sabean was willing to consider handing him an everyday job on Opening Day, knowing he might have a young Luis Gonzalez or Larry Walker on his hands. More likely, Belt will start 2011 in Triple-A with San Francisco hoping he'll force a promotion, much like Posey did last May.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
San Jose (Hi A) .383 .492 .628 269 62 103 28 4 10 62 58 50 18
Richmond (AA) .337 .413 .623 175 26 59 11 6 9 40 22 34 2
Fresno (AAA) .229 .393 .563 48 11 11 4 0 4 10 13 15 2
 
2.  Zack Wheeler, rhp   Born: May 30, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 185
 Drafted: HS—Dallas, Ga., 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Sean O'Connor
Zack WheelerBackground: The Giants made Wheeler the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, the highest they've taken a pitcher since selecting Jason Grilli at No. 4 in 1997, and signed him for $3.3 million. It was a bad omen when he recorded only one out in his pro debut in April, as a persistent cracked-fingernail issue derailed his season. He did post a 3.27 ERA in his final five starts.

Scouting Report: With his size, broad shoulders and loose arm action, Wheeler has plenty of projection remaining. His cracked nail was a blessing in disguise because it forced him to take time out to work on smoothing out his mechanics. He got on a more direct line to the plate and cut down the effort in his delivery, allowing him to command the bottom of the strike zone much better. Wheeler threw an easy 94-97 mph fastball during instructional league with improved location. His changeup became functional toward the end of the season, and his breaking ball became tighter and more consistent. He can throw an overhand curveball but has had more success with a slurve. He did a lot of maturing on the mound in his first pro season and learned he can't strike out the world.

The Future: Wheeler remains an elite arm with room to grow. After a promising instructional league, he'll move up to high Class A if he competes well in spring training.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Augusta (Lo A) 3 3 3.99 21 13 0 0 59 47 0 38 70 .218
 
3.  Gary Brown, of   Born: Sept. 28, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-0Wt: 185
 Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, 2010 (1st round)Signed by: Brad Cameron
Gary BrownBackground: Brown was leading the Big West Conference with a .438 average and .695 slugging percentage last spring when he broke his left middle finger on a slide in mid-May, ending his season. Drafted 24th overall and signed for $1.45 million in August, he looked rusty in his brief pro debut.

Scouting Report: Brown is a self-described hellraiser who raises plenty of it with his blazing speed. He was clocked at 3.69 seconds to first base on a bunt last spring at Cal State Fullerton—from the right side of the plate. He showed he can hit with wood bats with a .310 average in the summer Cape Cod League in 2009 and projects as an above-average hitter, though he has some lower-body movement in his swing that could hamper him. Brown has exceptionally quick hands that allow him to turn on pitches and give him gap power. He doesn't draw as many walks as he should to take full advantage of his speed. He's a potential Gold Glove center fielder whose fly-catching skills should prove valuable in the large prairies of the National League West. His arm is nothing special but his throws are accurate.

The Future: Brown may begin his first full pro season in high Class A. The Giants need a long-term center fielder, and he might not require more than two years in the minors.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
AZL Giants (R) .182 .333 .227 22 6 4 1 0 0 0 4 5 2
Salem-Keizer (SS) .136 .259 .227 22 2 3 0 1 0 2 2 7 0
 
4.  Francisco Peguero, of   Born: June 1, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 5-11Wt: 186
 Drafted: Dominican Republic, 2006Signed by: Pablo Peguero
Francisco PegueroBackground: Peguero concluded 2009 by winning MVP honors in the high Class A California League playoffs, and he helped San Jose win another title in 2010. After a slow start, he batted .372 in the second half and .350 in the postseason. He also led the league with 16 triples, provided quality outfield defense and appeared in the Futures Game.

Scouting Report: Peguero has the best blend of power and speed in the system, and he might be the most energetic player too. In some ways, he's reminiscent of a more compact Vladimir Guerrero. Peguero has terrific plate coverage that suits his aggressive style, and he has learned to turn on pitches in hitter's counts. His lack of patience hasn't worked against him yet, but he'll have to lay off better breaking pitches as he moves up the ranks. Peguero has easy plus speed but still has a lot to learn on the basepaths after getting caught stealing 22 times in 2010. His speed, excellent instincts and well above-average arm make him a long-term option in either center or right field.

The Future: He played winter ball in his native Dominican, which should be good preparation for making the jump to Double-A Richmond in 2011. With Gary Brown now in the organization, Peguero's future in San Francisco figures to come in right field.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
San Jose (Hi A) .329 .358 .488 510 78 168 19 16 10 77 18 88 40
 
5.  Ehire Adrianza, ss   Born: Aug. 21, 1989B-T: B-RHt: 6-0Wt: 168
 Signed: Venezuela, 2006Signed by: Ciro Villalobos
Ehire AdrianzaBackground: The Giants almost traded Adrianza to the Mariners in a July 31 deadline deal that would've netted David Aardsma. When talks fells through, San Francisco was happy to hold onto the premium playmaker. He barely said a word in his first big league camp last spring, but he made a statement whenever he took infield practice.

Scouting Report: Cal League managers almost unanimously rated Adrianza as the best defensive shortstop in the league last year. He has plus range to both sides, a lightning-quick transfer and an accurate arm, even while throwing on the run. He doesn't rush and makes everything look easy in the field. He made just 16 errors in 121 games last season, none after July 31. A switch-hitter, Adrianza hasn't impressed with the bat thus far. His swing gets long and he can be too pull-conscious despite his lack of power. He does have some plate discipline and should improve as a hitter as he gains strength. While not a burner, he's a smart baserunner and makes the most of his excellent first-step quickness.

The Future: With Brandon Crawford in the system, the Giants don't need to rush Adrianza. Added to the 40-man roster in November, he'll move up the ranks as his bat allows, moving to Double-A this year and potentially arriving in San Francisco in 2012.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
San Jose (Hi A) .256 .333 .348 445 70 114 22 5 3 35 47 87 33
 
6.  Brandon Crawford, ss   Born: Jan. 21, 1987B-T: L-RHt: 6-2Wt: 211
 Drafted: UCLA, 2008 (4th round)Signed by: Michael Kendall
Brandon CrawfordBackground: A Bay Area native who grew up a Giants fan, Crawford has the tools to star at shortstop but continues to be plagued by inconsistency at the plate. He has hit just .250/.313/.369 in parts of two seasons in Double-A. Breaking his right hand last July, when he was hit by a liner during batting practice, didn't help. He returned to help San Jose win the California League playoffs, hitting two crucial homers in the finals.

Scouting Report: Crawford's athleticism and awareness make him a potential Gold Glove shortstop, though he's not as gifted as Ehire Adrianza. He makes plays with plus range, a solid arm and smart positioning. Crawford opens eyes with his opposite-field power, but has yet to show he'll make enough consistent contact to be a big league regular. Coaches worked with him in instructional league to eliminate his leg kick and give him a different timing mechanism, hoping to improve his balance and keep his head on the ball longer. He has solid speed and good instincts but won't be a prolific basestealer.

The Future: The Giants kept Crawford in big league camp longer than they kept Buster Posey, hoping it would help him be ready to take over as their shortstop in 2011 after Edgar Renteria's contract expired. Crawford's bat isn't ready to make that leap, and he'll probably open the season in Triple-A instead.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Richmond (AA) .241 .337 .375 291 43 70 12 3 7 22 39 77 4
San Jose (Hi A) .167 .250 .222 18 4 3 1 0 0 1 2 5 0
 
7.  Thomas Neal, of   Born: Aug. 17, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 225
 Drafted: Riverside (Calif.) CC, D/F 2005 (36th round)Signed by: Lee Carballo
Thomas NealBackground: A $220,000 draft-and-follow signee out of Riverside (Calif.) CC, Neal dislocated his throwing shoulder in 2007 and missed nearly 12 months. He broke out in 2009, hitting .337/.431/.579 and leading the California League in on-base percentage, then turned in a solid season in Double-A last year to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. As a youth, he played on a San Diego-area travel team that included Stephen Strasburg, Mike Leake and Giants manager Bruce Bochy's son Brett.

Scouting Report: Neal is more athletic than most 6-foot-2, 225-pounders. His combination of power, arm strength and surprising ability to cover ground in either outfield corner draws comparisons to Jermaine Dye. But Neal needed time to figure out Double-A pitchers, who worked him with sinkers down and in, followed by sliders away. He has the bat speed to handle quality fastballs but gets a little overeager in RBI situations. While a below-average runner, he's opportunistic on the bases and coaches love his hustle.

The Future: By the end of the season, Neal learned to take a consistent plan into every at-bat, something he can build on in Triple-A in 2011. There's a good chance he'll be introduced to the big leagues at some point this year, with the chance to establish himself as an everyday player in 2012.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Richmond (AA) .291 .359 .440 525 69 153 40 1 12 69 46 94 11
 
8.  Charlie Culberson, 2b   Born: April 10, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 191
 Drafted: HS—Calhoun, Ga., 2007 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Sean O'Connor
Charlie Culberson, 2bBackground: A surprise supplemental first-round pick in 2007, Culberson played close to home for two seasons at low Class A Augusta but couldn't enjoy the experience. He hit a combined .241/.299/.311 and missed a month in 2008 when he broke his hand punching a paper-towel dispenser. He never lacked for bat speed and his hard-nosed attitude helped him re-establish himself as a prospect with a strong 2010 season in high Class A. He has excellent bloodlines: his father Charles was a Giants minor league outfielder, his grandfather Leon played in the majors and he's also related to the Sislers (Hall of Famer George, former all-star Dick and big leaguer Dave).

Scouting Report: Culberson has a powerful swing and strong hands to go along with fast-twitch athleticism. Though he's an aggressive hitter who doesn't walk much, his improved plate discipline and pitch recognition skills keyed the progress he made last year. He has average power and solid speed. Drafted as a shortstop, Culberson moved to third base in 2009 and second base last year. His strong arm and quick release make him an asset on double plays.

The Future: Culberson showed his breakout was no fluke by batting .366/.394/.591 in the Arizona Fall League. He has caught up to fellow 2007 sandwich pick and second baseman Nick Noonan, and the Giants will have to find at-bats for both in Double-A this year.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
San Jose (Hi A) .290 .340 .457 503 80 146 28 4 16 71 33 99 25
 
9.  Eric Surkamp, lhp   Born: July 16, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-5Wt: 220
 Drafted: North Carolina State, 2008 (6th round)Signed by: Pat Portugal
Eric SurkampBackground: Surkamp was on his way to leading Giants minor leaguers in strikeouts for the second consecutive season and was within a week of being promoted to Double-A when he partially dislocated his hip while fielding a ground ball in mid-July. He had surgery to tighten the labrum in his hip and should be 100 percent for spring training. He's a product of Cincinnati's famed Moeller High, whose alumni include Buddy Bell, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.

Scouting Report: Surkamp's fastball sits in the upper 80s, but he gets good sink on it and throws it to both sides of the plate from a three-quarters delivery that adds deception. Coaches believe he can throw harder, both because of his size and the fact that he didn't use his fastball much in college. His curveball and changeup are both plus pitches and he commands his entire arsenal, generating plenty of swings and misses. He also has toyed with a cut fastball to give him another weapon against righthanders.

The Future: San Francisco is aggressive with starting pitchers who throw strikes and has a limited inventory of them in the system, so expect Surkamp to move quickly if healthy. He could put up gaudy numbers this year in the Double-A Eastern League, a pitcher's paradise compared to the Cal League.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
San Jose (Hi A) 4 2 3.11 17 17 1 0 101 79 5 22 108 .218
 
10.  Tommy Joseph, c/1b   Born: July 16, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 210
 Signed: HS—Scottsdale, Ariz., 2009 (2nd round)Signed by: Chuck Hensley
Tommy JosephBackground: Joseph was one of the best power-hitting high school prospects in the 2009 draft and boosted his value by moving behind the plate as a senior. He attended a literal school of hard knocks in his pro debut last year, sustaining a concussion in late May and taking a beating from a barrage of foul tips behind the plate. The Giants don't put much stock in his disappointing numbers because they knew he was nicked up and one of the youngest players in the low Class A South Atlantic League.

Scouting Report: Joseph arrived straight from high school with a short, direct swing that should lead to plenty of hard contact in time. He generates consistent backspin in batting practice and competes well against quality fastballs. He lacks a consistent approach, though, and his strikeout numbers were indicative of that. Joseph's power is his only plus tool. He has a stocky build, poor speed and defensive limitations. He has a lot of work to do as a catcher after allowing 19 passed balls and 52 steals in 65 games last year. He does have solid arm strength.

The Future: Joseph started 10 games at first base last year and has the power to play there. That seems like an automatic move with Buster Posey in San Francisco, but the Giants plan to continue developing Joseph as a catcher this year in high Class A.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Augusta (Lo A) .236 .290 .401 436 46 103 22 1 16 68 26 116 0

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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