2005 San Francisco Giants Top 10 Prospects

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, 2005.


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1. Matt Cain, rhp
2. Merkin Valdez, rhp
3. Fred Lewis, of
4. Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of
5. Nate Schierholtz, of/3b
6. Alfredo Simon, rhp
7. Brad Hennessey, rhp
8. Craig Whitaker, rhp
9. David Aardsma, rhp
10. Travis Ishikawa, 1b
Best Hitter for Average Eddy Martinez-Esteve
Best Power Hitter Nate Schierholtz
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Fred Lewis
Fastest Baserunner Marcus Sanders
Best Athlete Fred Lewis
Best Fastball Merkin Valdez
Best Curveball Matt Cain
Best Slider Brad Hennessey
Best Changeup Pat Misch
Best Control Pat Misch
Best Defensive Catcher Justin Knoedler
Best Defensive Infielder Derin McMains
Best Infield Arm Jeremiah Luster
Best Defensive Outfielder Clay Timpner
Best Outfield Arm Mike Mooney
1995 J.R. Phillips, 1b
1996 Shawn Estes, lhp
1997 Joe Fontenot, rhp
1998 Jason Grilli, rhp
1999 Jason Grilli, rhp
2000 Kurt Ainsworth, rhp
2001 Jerome Williams, rhp
2002 Jerome Williams, rhp
2003 Jesse Foppert, rhp
2004 Merkin Valdez, rhp
1995 Joe Fontenot, rhp
1996 Matt White, rhp
1997 Jason Grilli, rhp
1998 Tony Torcato, 3b
1999 Kurt Ainsworth, rhp
2000 Boof Bonser, rhp
2001 Brad Hennessey, rhp
2002 Matt Cain, rhp
2003 David Aardsma, rhp
2004 Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of (2nd round)
*Did not sign
Jason Grilli, 1997 $1,875,000
David Aardsma, 2003 $1,425,000
Brad Hennessey, 2001 $1,380,000
Matt Cain, 2002 $1,375,000
Osvaldo Fernandez, 1996 $1,300,000
Kurt Ainsworth, 2000 $1,300,000

The Giants don�t want a book written about how they run their baseball operations. They don�t even want to be Organization of the Year. They just want to win a World Series championship. That hasn’t happened since 1954, when the franchise was still based in New York.

With Barry Bonds still hitting like few humans ever have, San Francisco has chosen to go all out to maximize their opportunity. As one club official said, “Very few clubs can afford to spend at both the top end and the bottom end of the organization,” so the Giants have chosen to spend at the top. Bonds can best be helped by major league free agents, not amateurs signed through the draft. Since closer Robb Nen got hurt and missed the last two seasons, the Giants have missed the playoffs. Enter free agent closer Armando Benitez.

San Francisco has focused so much on pitching that it hasn’t developed an everyday player since drafting Bill Mueller and Chris Singleton in 1993. So to fill out the lineup around Bonds, the Giants have added free agents Moises Alou (39, son of manager Felipe), catcher Mike Matheny (34) and shortstop Omar Vizquel (37).

Vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow’s scouting and player-development staffs are good at finding and cultivating pitching, and San Francisco remains flush in minor league arms even after trading or graduating several. Behind imported ace Jason Schmidt, four homegrown starters will compete for innings in 2005: Jerome Williams and three of the club’s first four picks in the 2001 draft, Brad Hennessey, Noah Lowry and Jesse Foppert.

The farm system has more pitching available, starting with elite righthander Matt Cain, who spent half the 2004 season in Double-A at age 19. Power righthanders Merkin Valdez and David Aardsma are ready to help the big league bullpen after appearing briefly with the Giants last year.

San Francisco is making an attempt to address its shortcoming in developing hitters�which becomes all the more evident now that the big league lineup’s youngest player is 31-year-old Edgardo Alfonzo, a nine-year big league veteran. New minor league hitting instructor Bob Mariano has some interesting bats to work with.

Tidrow used his first three picks last June on outfielders. Eddy Martinez-Esteve (second round) and Clay Timpner (fourth) finished the summer with San Jose in the high Class A California League playoffs, while John Bowker (third) hit .371 in the lower minors. San Jose’s postseason lineup included most of the organization’s top hitters, including outfielders Freddy Lewis and Nate Schierholtz and corner infielders Travis Ishikawa and Brian Buscher.

This offseason’s free-agent signings have left San Francisco without choices in the first three rounds of the 2005 draft. That doesn�t mean the Giants have given up on their farm system. They’d just rather spend their money on the present than on the future.

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