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2003 Wrapups: San Francisco Giants

With the 2003 season coming to a close, we will be providing a brief wrapup of the season for all 30 minor league teams. In each report, we will take a look at how the team's Top 10 Prospects performed, identify some emerging prospects and organizational leaders, and report on the performance of their top draft pick.
Complete index of Team Wrapups               2003 League Wrapups

By Kevin Goldstein
December 3, 2003

Season Results

Level Team League W L PCT
AAA Fresno Pacific Coast 55 88 .385
AA Norwich Norwich 62 79 .440
A+ San Jose California 58 82 .414
A Hagerstown Sally 68 67 .504
SS Salem-Keizer Northwest 43 33 .566
R AZL Giants Arizona 28 28 .500
TOTAL 314 377 .454


Performance of Top 10 Prospects

Here's how our top 10 prospects entering this season performed in 2003.

1. Jesse Foppert, rhp      Age: 23
Considered one of the best pitching prospects in the game entering the season, Foppert was called up after one dominating start for Fresno, but struggled with his control and a mysterious drop in velocity as the season wore on. He left a game in August when his right hand became numb, and further tests revealed the cause of his problems, and he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery in September. He is expected to miss most, if not all, of 2004.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Fresno (Triple A) 0-0 0 1.80 1 5.0 3 1 1 0 9
Giants (MLB) 8-9 0 5.03 23 111.0 103 69 62 69 101
San Jose (High Class A) 0-1 0 9.00 1 3.0 5 3 3 0 3

2. Kurt Ainsworth, rhp      Age: 25
The trade of Livan Hernandez opened up a rotation slot for Ainsworth, and he answered the call admirably, winning his first three starts. He was held out of his first start in June, with what was originally diagnosed as a strained muscle in his back. After nearly a month of little progress, doctors finally discovered a broken right shoulder blade, and he did not pitch for the Giants again before being shipped at the trade deadline to Baltimore in the Sidney Ponson deal. He made three brief appearances for the Orioles at the end of the year, where he clearly was anything but 100%.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Giants (MLB) 5-4 0 3.82 11 66.0 66 31 28 26 48
Fresno (Triple-A) 0-0 0 4.50 1 2.0 2 1 1 2 1
Orioles (MLB) 0-1 0 11.57 3 2.1 6 3 3 1 4

3. Jerome Williams, rhp      Age: 21
The youngest of the Giants' big three pitching prospects, Williams started the year at Triple-A Fresno and allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of ten starts before taking Ainsworth's slot in the big league rotation. Delivered 13 quality starts in 21 outings, including a pair of complete games, and limited major league hitters to a .227 average.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Fresno (Triple-A) 4-2 0 2.68 10 57.0 52 19 17 16 40
Giants (MLB) 7-5 0 3.30 21 131.0 116 54 48 49 88

4. Francisco Liriano, lhp      Age: 20
Liriano has a special arm, as it's rare to find lefties who can touch 97 mph. Unfortunately, he's pitched just 160 innings since 2001. He was shut down in the second half of 2002 and elbow problems shut him down again for the majority of 2003 after just one miserable outing for San Jose. Acquired by Minnesota after the season in the A.J. Pierzynski deal.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
San Jose (High Class A) 0-1 0 54.00 1 0.2 5 4 4 2 0
AZL Giants (R) 0-1 0 4.32 4 8.1 5 4 4 6 9

5. Todd Linden, of      Age: 23
Linden was seen as being on the verge of a starting job entering the season, but while he led Fresno in runs and RBIs, his power never came around, and his walk rate dropped dramatically from his 2002 debut, when his 81 walks contributed to a .411 on-base percentage. Spent the final month with the Giants, and hit his first major league home run off Dodgers southpaw Kaz Ishii.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Fresno (Triple-A) 125 471 75 131 24 3 11 56 40 105 14 .278 .356 .412
Giants (MLB) 18 38 2 8 1 0 1 6 1 8 0 .211 .231 .316

6. Boof Bonser, rhp      Age: 22
Bonser repeated Double-A, after being rushed there in 2002. He allowed two or fewer earned runs in his first seven starts for Norwich, and while he struggled in June/July (5.06 ERA), he received a promotion to Fresno after reeling off three straight seven inning outings. Stayed hot in Triple-A, limiting PCL batters to a .195 average, and was the key player going to the Twins in the A.J. Pierzynski acquisition.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Norwich (Double-A) 7-10 0 4.00 24 135.0 122 80 60 67 103
Fresno (Triple-A) 1-2 0 3.13 4 23.0 17 13 8 8 28

7. Freddy Lewis, of      Age: 22
Lewis, the Giants' 2nd round pick in 2002 who had a smashing debut for Salem-Keizer, got a late start to the season due to a broken hamate bone suffered during spring training. While he hit .355 in his first 10 games, he had a streaky season that overall was a disappointment. Understands the value of a walk and is possibly the best athlete in the system, so there is still plenty to build on.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Hagerstown (Low Class A) 114 421 61 105 17 8 1 27 68 112 30 .250 .336 .361

8. Ryan Hannaman, lhp      Age: 22
A power-lefty who had a breakout campaign in 2002, Hannaman had 37 strikeouts over 21 innings in his first five outings, but began to struggle with his control before going on the disabled list in mid-June with a strained biceps. He made some rehab outings with the Giants' Arizona squad, and was sent to Baltimore in the Sidney Ponson trade. Continued his ways with Frederick, striking out well over a player per inning, but walking far too many batters.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
San Jose (High Class A) 4-4 0 4.71 13 63.0 66 41 33 32 77
AZL Giants (Rookie) 1-1 0 4.38 4 12.1 8 6 6 7 14
Frederick (High Class A) 1-3 0 3.79 5 19.0 14 9 8 17 22

9. Lance Niekro, 1b/3b      Age: 23
Niekro continued to show that he can hit for average, but his lack of power and a dearth of walks prevents him from profiling as an every day corner infielder. Promoted to the Giants after hitting .356 in his final 15 games, he got his first major league hit, a two-run double, on Sept. 28.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Fresno (Triple-A) 98 381 43 115 15 2 4 41 19 39 3 .302 .334 .383
Giants (MLB) 5 5 2 1 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 .200 .200 .400

10. Erick Threets, lhp      Age: 22
No lefty in the minors can throw as hard as Threets, who has consistently has hit triple-digits on the radar gun. Unfortunately, he rarely had any idea where it is going. Threets lasted just six weeks at Norwich before going down to Hagerstown two weeks after an remarkable outing in which he walked all five batters he faced, including a streak of 16 straight pitches out of the strike zone. He was nearly unhittable in the Sally League (.159 opponent's average), but the control problems remained.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Norwich (Double-A) 0-0 0 15.88 11 11.1 15 20 20 21 16
Hagerstown (Low Class A) 2-3 0 3.26 22 49.2 26 20 18 42 47


Top Draft Pick:

David Aardsma, rhp    Rice U.   Bonus: $1.425M
Most saw Aardsma as falling out of the first round after mechanical problems during his junior season at Rice dropped his velocity into the low 90s after he touched 97 in the Cape Cod League. The Giants surprised some by taking him with the 22nd overall pick, but he pitched well in a brief California League showing, striking out 13.7 per nine innings.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
San Jose (High Class A) 1-1 8 1.96 18 18.1 14 4 4 7 28


Emerging Prospects:

Dan Ortmeier, of: A 3rd round pick in 2002, Ortmeier is a switch-hitting outfielder who's season was delayed as he recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. Hit .304-8-56 in 115 games for San Jose, and in a system with very few non-pitching prospects of note, he could move quickly.
Merkin Valdez, rhp: As Manny Mateo, Valdez was one of the better pitchers in the GCL in 2002, and was traded from the Braves to the Giants is the Russ Ortiz deal last December, before his real name and real age (nine months older) was revealed. The Giants are clearly not disappointed, as Valdez was one of the best pitchers in the Sally League, leading the system in ERA (2.25) and strikeouts (166) while representing the World squad in the Futures Game.


Statistical Leaders

Batting Average Brian Dallimore .352
Home Runs Dan Trumble 21
Runs Batted In Mike Cervenak 91
Stolen Bases Pat Hallmark 31
Earned Run Average Merkin Valdez 2.25
Wins Greg Bruso 12
Strikeouts Merkin Valdez 166
Saves Matt Palmer 25

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