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.
JAYPERS (IL): Thanks for the chat, Andy. For
those of us still waiting on our BA Prospect Handbooks, what can you
tell us about Chuckie Jones? Did he make your 11-20 range?
Hi everyone! Thanks for joining me this
morning/early afternoon. Lots of great questions already. I'll try to
answer as many as possible in the next 90 minutes or so.
Chuckie Jones sure made an impact in the Arizona League and scouting
director John Barr loves him. He's built like an NFL linebacker and his
ceiling is as a Matt Kemp type with more power. He just missed the top
10 but a solid year at Augusta would brand him as an elite prospect.
He's definitely a name to be excited about.
Ben (Leland Grove): I understand Michael Main
just missed your top 30. Is his talent better suited as a position
player, or do you believe the Giants intend on keeping him as a pitcher?
Hi Ben. You're right, I wrote up Main as
the 31st prospect for the supplement. I'm pretty sure that's where he
ended up in the final pecking order. Giants coaches simply didn't see
the pitcher who was a first-round pick a few years ago. He pitched
poorly in five games for Richmond before he underwent season-ending
surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Main's injury history is
well documented — he had a strained rotator cuff in high school, he
cracked a rib in 2008 and me missed two months in '09 because of
mononucleosis. But when he's healthy, he has been known to throw 97 mph
along with a plus curveball that is more slider-like at the moment.
Let's face it: The Giants won this trade with Texas because it made
Buster Posey the everyday catcher. If Main can turn it around, it's
pretty much all gravy. (And no, I haven't heard anything about moving
him off the mound. But I'll ask when I get to Scottsdale in a few
Harry (SF): How many of these guys would you nominate for BA's Top 100 list?
Honestly, Brandon Belt is probably the
only shoo-in. Zack Wheeler probably needs to be healthy and productive
for a full season to become a back-end top-100 guy, but the potential is
certainly there. I remain high on Thomas Neal, too. He recovered well
after a slow start at Double-A and I think you'll see him put up numbers
at Fresno. But he probably is on the outskirts of the top 100 at this
Matt (Naperville, IL): How close was Jorge Bucardo from the top 10? Your thoughts on his mechanics and timetable? Thanks.
Naperville! The city of my birth.
Someone told me it's the second most populous city in Illinois now. When
we moved out in 1978, there were 20,000 people there. But I digress ...
Jorge Bucardo has to be considered one of the better pitching prospects
in the system, but I think he needs to get a little stronger and be
more consistent velocity-wise to crack into that upper echelon. I had
him at No.21 and I think that's where he ended up. You have to credit
Wilber's younger brother for maintaining his stuff and stamina over a
full season last year. Giants officials were wondering how he'd handle
that, and he had a 2.21 ERA (second in the Sally League) and .208 BAA
(first in the SAL) in 19 games at Augusta before fading a bit at San
Jose. I love the way he can change arm angles and make adjustments on
the mound. He really competes well, and he's a very good athlete who
fields his position well. That's good, since he generates a fair amount
of ground balls. Perhaps one day he'll wrest the title of "Greatest
Giant from Nicaragua" away from Marvin Benard.
Mikey (Miami): Nick Noonan - prospect or suspect?
This is a tough one to answer. Noonan is
coming off a difficult year that included a recurring hamstring injury
and he just didn't seem to play with a lot of confidence against
Double-A pitching. As you probably know, some scouts and experts
predicted these struggles for Noonan — notably ESPN's Keith Law —
because they didn't think his swing would work against upper-level
pitching. It's my understanding that there is some agreement within the
Giants organization, and Noonan already began to overhaul his approach
in instructional league. When he's right, he can hit quality fastballs
— and you don't give up on someone who can do that.
Meanwhile, Charlie Culberson rebounded from his first two miserable pro
seasons while posting a tremendous year in the Cal League, then
following up with a sizzling Arizona Fall League. Culberson could play
third base, but it's clear second is his best position — and you'd have
to grade his defense above Noonan's at this point. So this year will be
a huge one for Noonan.
Jerry (Los Angeles): Your thoughts on Rafael Rodriguez' career thus far? Top 30 for you?
Still too early to make a fair
evaluation. The Giants hoped RafRod could handle the adjustment to
Salem-Keizer as a teenager, but he had a bad back and that doesn't work
so well when you're 6-foot-5 and trying to swing at a baseball.
Rodriguez competed much better when he returned to the Arizona League,
but he remains more a project at this point than a player. Ideally, he'd
begin this season at Augusta, but I'm not sure he's ready for that yet.
We'll have a better idea at the end of spring camp.
JAYPERS (IL): With both 1B and C locked down in
SF for the foreseeable future, should Joseph hope for a trade? Or
could/should he learn a different position?
Not necessarily. Joseph is still several
years away from the big leagues, and don't forget that Brandon Belt has
acquitted himself well in the outfield, too. Joseph just needs to focus
on keeping his energy level up from day to day and having quality
at-bats. He's got a nice, direct swing and can generate a lot of power
when he lets the ball travel. He certainly didn't master the Sally
League, and he took his share of knocks — including a concussion —
while learning how to grind out a pro season for the first time. So it's
possible that he returns there this season. I think there's a good
chance Joseph will continue to catch, where his physical skills might
lag a bit behind his mental abilities behind the plate. As you
mentioned, if he's a candidate to be traded, he's got the most value as a
Morrie (Bay Area): Is Seth Rosin someone for us to keep an eye on?
Well, the Giants know pitchers and they
took Rosin with their fourth-round pick — the first pitcher they
selected in June. So that's probably a good statement. I saw Rosin pitch
at Salem-Keizer late in the year and wasn't impressed, but I was told
he was really worn down after finishing the college season. He has
plenty of size and "throws downhill," as they say. Coaches think they
can help him iron out some mechanical stuff to get him on a more direct
line to the plate, which should help him generate a little more
velocity. As you know, the Giants don't have much upper-level pitching
depth, and Rosin has a good feel for throwing strikes. So he could move
through the system quickly. Rosin just missed the top 30 for me, but
then, so did Brandon Belt last year. Sometimes those fourth- to
fifth-round college draftees sneak up on you.
Roger (Washington, DC): Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Andy! How high do you see Peguero's power ceiling? Could he ever be a 20 HR guy?
Does it matter if a couple of them are
inside-the-park jobs? Yes, I think it's possible Peguero could hit 20.
But he's more likely to be a 40-double, 12-triple, 10-homer kind of guy.
Peguero just keeps boosting his value and it will be a huge test as he
(presumably) moves up to Double-A this year. The walk rate is still
troubling to me, and that's the only thing holding back Peguero from
being a Top-100 candidate. I look forward to watching him in big league
camp this spring.
Roger (Washington, DC): Kickham, Hembree,
Rosin, Dunning. Who's got the most upside? Who's going to stick as
starter? And where do they begin the year?
All great questions. I'll go with
Hembree for upside, but Kickham probably has the best chance to stick as
a starter, followed by Rosin. Expect Dunning to begin the year as a
reliever, only because the Giants want to ramp up his arm slowly as he
continues the conversion from shortstop. All four of these guys have big
league arms. As for assignments ... I'd guess Kickham, Dunning and
Hembree begin at Augusta, and Rosin might get aggressively assigned to
San Jose. It all depends on how they look in camp, though.
Benny (So Cal): What's the latest on the Angel Villalona saga?
Villalona is out on bail and there's no
date for his trial. The victim's family is not pressing civil charges
and it seems the witnesses may be recanting, and I'll let you speculate
on the reasons. The biggest thing stopping Villalona from resuming his
pro career is that his US visa has been revoked. Even if he figures out a
way to get it back, my strong sense is that the Giants consider his
$2.1 million bonus a sunk cost and they want nothing to do with him.
Definitely, the Villalona saga has affected the way they do business in
the Dominican. You haven't seen them become involved in any high-priced
signings since then, have you? (By the way, Yahoo's Jeff Passan wrote a
very informative feature on Dominican players and gun violence, which
included a section on Villalona. Look it up.)
JAYPERS (IL): Was Jarrett Parker close to reaching your top 10? What do the Giants see in him?
Yes, Parker was very close. He was
No.12, as I recall. Parker has a good blend of athletic tools and he's a
plus defender in center field. He definitely was a late bloomer,
gaining 20 poundsbefore his sophomore year at Virginia and watching his
home runs rocket from zero to 16. He hit .188 in the Cape and didn't
have the greatest junior season, though, which allowed him to fall to
the Giants in the second round. He might be Steve Finley ... or he might
be Clay Timpner. Hard to say when he hasn't made his pro debut yet.
Dara (Denver): In retrospect, was Gillaspie an overdraft? Did he fall out of your 30 this year?
Hard to say Gillaspie was an overdraft.
Many thought he'd go higher than he did — Gillaspie included. And no,
he didn't fall out of the top 30. In fact, I had to move him up a couple
spots after he tied for the Arizona Fall League lead in home runs.
Sure, Gillaspie has plenty of flaws in his game. He doesn't really have a
position, as he remains inconsistent at third base. But he competes at
the plate, he is disciplined for the most part, and he hits quality
pitching. Was he worth all the special handling, including a 40-man
roster space, that it took for the Giants to sign him? Probably not. As
of right now, he's looking more like a Kevin Frandsen-utility type
player than a major league everyday starter to me. But it wouldn't be
wise to count out Gillaspie as a prospect yet. I think you'll see a
better year from him, especially at the plate.
Frank (Oakland): As I wait for my Handbook to
arrive, can you tell me if Dominguez is still on your radar? What does
he bring to the table besides power?
Chris Dominguez ranked somewhere in the
14-18 range, I believe, and yes, power is his best tool. But he has
other attributes, too. For one, he has what one rival minor league
manager called the strongest arm he's ever seen from a minor league
third baseman. So if he ever fails as a hitting prospect, you can bet
Dick Tidrow will try to get him off a mound. Dominguez also is very
hardy. He played virtually every inning of every game last year, which
is no small feat in the stifling conditions at Augusta. He'll have to
move quickly and lay off the high fastball, but there's enough to like
about Dominguez to keep an eye on him.
Henry T (Sausalito CA): I was surprised you
ranked Neal behind both Adrianza and Crawford? Was this the general
consensus from scouts you talked to? Or was it do to the fact that Neal
is a corner outfielder and the other two are "slick fielding
This was one of the tougher calls in the
rankings. Adrianza and Crawford are major league shortstops with the
glove, and so you're right, it was more of a positional value thing.
Neal is certainly more gifted as a hitter, and I do think you could make
a solid case to rank him higher based on his offensive potential. Based
on the opinions I received, Adrianza and Crawford are "sure things"
defensively while Neal hasn't earned that designation yet. So that
influenced where I lined them up. These rankings aren't infallible. I'll
be the first to admit that.
Roger (Washington, DC): Can you explain why the
Giants have been so conservative with Jose Casilla's development? After
three years of playing in American ball he's piled up less than 85 IP,
none higher than low A ball. He's consistently had good numbers but
they seemed to abandon him as a starter almost immediately and given him
precious little work to build up arm strength and work on his
repertoire. Adding him to the 40 man suggests they see a future for
him, but they don't seem to be working too hard to get him there.
Particularly puzzling given their typical pattern of challenging their
best pitchers aggressively.
All astute observations, Roger. Usually
health is the reason behind these decisions. Now Casilla seems to have
settled in nicely as a short reliever and I think the Giants are going
to run with that. But you're right. He could start down the road. Look
at what they're doing with Dan Runzler now. I think you do yourself a
disservice when you use indelible ink to label these guys so early in
their pro careers. With Kickham, Hembree, Dunning ... the Giants have a
lot of interesting arms that could go the starter or relief route. So
they have a lot of calls to make this spring.
Grant (NYC): Henry Sosa - do the Giants trade him, or stick with him?
I'm not sure Sosa has a lot of trade
value right now. He looked incredible in the spring, staying almost to
the end of big league camp and finishing with a spotless ERA. Then ... I
don't know what happened. He got in a fight with a teammate at Fresno,
so I hear, and just didn't pitch with a lot of maturity. The light goes
on at different times for different people. The Giants still hope it'll
go on for Sosa.
Kent (Sonoma, CA): Hi Andy,
Thank you for the chat. Are there any prospects in the system other
than Wheeler who have front of rotation potential? (King, Escobar,
Great question, Kent. I'm going to
assume you mean No.1 or No.2 starter. Aside from Wheeler, probably not.
Eric Surkamp is a definite prospect, but he's probably more of a No.4
type. Of the names you mentioned, Aaron King has flashed great stuff in
the past but he's nowhere close command-wise. I had high hopes for
Matthew Graham, a sixth-rounder in '09 who got $500,000 to sign. He got
hit hard while splitting the year between Salem and Scottsdale, and he
fell out of the top 30. But he's only 20 years old and he might be the
only other guy with front-of-rotation potential.
Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Andy and thanks. I know
it's very early, but do you see Gary Brown developing any real power or
will he be a contact hitter who hits for average and steals bases?
Some gap power, but I think most of his
extra-base hits will be courtesy of his legs. He's got a legitimate
approach. He doesn't just try to slap and dash, and he's a solid
prospect. But I wouldn't expect him to be any more than a 10-homer guy
without a Brady Anderson-like body transformation.
Brett (Seattle): What have the reports been like on Reinier Roibal? Will he be stretched out as a starter this year?
He wasn't a top 30 guy based on the
people I talked to. The stuff didn't match the reports. Probably a
reliever for now unless he has a huge camp.
Jason (San Dimas, CA): Hey Baggs,
I was wondering about Jason Stoffel's development. Despite pitching in
the Cal League it's hard to consider his 2010 numbers inspiring. What do
the Giants think about him moving forward? Can't wait to get a copy of
Whoa ... San Dimas. Thanks, Jason. I
actually grew up down the street from you. Stoffel needs to pace himself
on the mound. It's usually great when a closer ikes to work quickly,
but he lets the game get too fast at times. Still, you saw the way he
heroically ended the season to nail down a Cal League title for San
Jose, striking out a batter with the tying run at third base. Stoffel
has the stuff and mentality to be a very effective short reliever in the
big leagues. He just needs more time to learn how to compete and use
Also, thanks for mentioning my book! It's available for preorder on
Amazon right now. I won't place a link here, but if you google "A Band
of Misfits" and my name, you'll find it.
Dan (Augusta, ME): Did either Chuckie Jones or
Kendry Flores get consideration for the top 10 or are they simply too
young/raw for such an aggressive ranking?
Jones, yes. He's in the top 30. Flores would've been in the 30-40 range for me, based on everything I've heard.
AB (San Francisco): Who in the top 30 are we going to see locally in San Jose to start the season?
Well, good chance you see Gary Brown,
Tommy Joseph, Chris Dominguez, Jose Casilla, maybe Jarrett Parker, maybe
Ydwin Villegas. Brown definitely headlines the list.
Zeebs (Orange, CA): Was Carter Jurica a wasted draft pick in the 3rd round? Seems very high for a guy most are projecting as a utility IF at best?
I don't get it, either. Seems like an overdraft to me. It's only fair to let the kid play and see what happens.
Ian (Portland, OR): With Neal dropping from fourth to seventh on the list, what's the consensus on the potential ETA for the Tank Engine?
He'd better make it as an everyday
player. Thomas "The Tank Engine" Neal is an awesome nickname.
I answered this a little earlier, but I really like Neal and his
standing on the prospect list shouldn't be seen as a major demotion. He
made the Double-A turn and that weeds out a lot of good prospects.
CD (Columbus): Is catcher Dan Burkhart a prospect? If so is he in the top 30?
Not top 30 but probably would've made
the top 40. He's an intelligent catcher and could hit enough to make
himself a good major league backup. (And yes, as a Northwestern guy,
it's hard for me to call a Buckeye "intelligent." But he really is a
smart and tough presence back there, from everything I hear.)
Joel (KCK): Within the last five years or so,
I've noticed that there has been a glaring lack of power-hitting first
base prospects. Kotchman, Morrison, Freeman, Butler, Smoak, Alonso,
Hosmer, and now Belt. He hit 20+ HR's, but in the parks he'll have to
play in if and when he makes it to the show, does he project to ever hit
20+ in the majors? The only reason I ask is because in his writeup
he's compared to Buster Posey, and if I rember correctly, you guys
projected Posey to max out around 15 to 20 HR's a season. Thanks!
Keep in mind that Belt is left-handed.
It's hard for any lefty hitter not named Barry Bonds to project for
20-plus homers as a Giant. You've seen the backspin Posey can generate
with those drives to center field that just keep floating until they
disappear over the fence. When they compare Belt to Posey, that's what
they're talking about.
Chris (Hamden, Ct): What do you think of Chris
Gloor? He has put up solid numbers in A ball two years in a row? Does
have a chance to make an impact in the Giants system?
Gloor was considered for the top 30 but
didn't make it. Coaches really like him. He's made impressive progress
and he'll need to keep making statements for himself as he moves up the
Pierce (Houston, TX): Craig Whitaker seems to
have taken some steps forward numbers wise. Will he ever make the SF
bullpen and what does his stuff look like? Seems to be having much more
success with his new arm slot when compared to his flamethrowing high
You're right. In many systems, Whitaker
would've made it to the big leagues last season. But the Giants had a
lot of relief options, and traded for two more. The arm slot made him a
competitive pitcher again and gave him a chance to reach the big
leagues. Give him credit for reinventing himself, even if it hasn't
gotten him to the next level yet.
I'll take a couple more questions...
Bryan (Palo Alto, CA): Nice call with listing
some kid named Belt as one of your sleepers in last years chat. I was
wondering about Tommy Joseph. Last year you threw out Paul Konerko comps
do those still hold true after 400+ pro ABs? Or do you think he has
more of a shot to stick behind the plate?
I am not sure I should be taking credit
for that ... I left the guy out of the top 30!
(If it's any defense, Belt was in the back end of my top 30 originally,
but then the Giants took Steve Johnson in the Rule 5 draft, and so I
needed to sacrifice someone. Belt didn't have any pro experience yet, so
he was deemed the guy to go.)
Joel (KCK): In regards to a question asked
during the Padres chat, I also would like to know, with a more serious
answer, why it is that this Jaypers guy always seems to get the first
question and multiple questions answered in every single chat. I would
never claim to be the MOST knowledgeable guy when it comes to prospects,
but I keep up with them pretty darn good, and 9 times out of 10, I
could care less about the ones that Jaypers asks about which is why I
usually skip right over the questions that he asks. But on another
note, I DO love the chats, and honestly wish that you guys would do them
on a more frequent basis, even when it's not top 10 time. Thanks!!!
You're right, JAYPERS had the first question in my queue when I logged in. But I like the questions he asks!
Not Jaypers (Not Illinois): I think we're all
getting a little tired of Jaypers and his boring questions. A little
change would be nice. Is he married to an editor's daughter or sister
or something. Geeesh!!!
If he's in my top 30 on next year's list, you'll know there's nepotism at work.
Duane Nusbaum (San Jose): I enjoy your game
stories and extra Baggs.
The week of the trade deadline last year there were three KC scouts in
San Jose to watch the SJ Giants. I assume DeJesus was the player the
Giants were looking at before he got hurt. Any idea what that trade
would have cost the Giants. Peguero or Adrianza?
Thank you, Duane. Yes, Sabean was in KC
the day DeJesus hurt his wrist. He was "royally" ticked when he met back
up with the club in Arizona. But think of it this way ... if they
traded for DeJesus, they almost certainly wouldn't have put in a claim
for Cody Ross. Things happen for a reason, I suppose.
I'd bet anything that Adrianza would've been part of that deal. I also
heard that Adrianza and another player were close to going to Seattle
for David Aardsma at the trade deadline before the Mariners backed off.
Derek (SF): Keith Law's organizational rankings
list was just published and he has the Giants at #23 in part because
Posey and Bumgarner have already ascended to MLB. But he also cites the
disappointing 2010 numbers posted by the 2008 draft class behind Buster.
What's your sense from the organization's side — are those guys going
to come around or is it Buster and busts?
Let's end with a big picture question.
I think that's fair. The Giants graduated a lot of talent last year, and
they won a World Series in large part because of it. Of the other 2008
draftees, Kieschnick and Crawford were hurt and Gillaspie we've already
addressed. They do not have the most talent-laden farm system in the
majors right now, but I can think of 29 other teams that would've loved
to trade places with them on November 1.
Thanks for all the great, insightful questions, everyone! I hope you
enjoy the Prospect Handbook, and if you haven't ordered it yet, go
preorder "A Band of Misfits" while you're at it! Thanks!