Join Today! Become A Baseball America Insider
Use the options to filter your search.
Before Justin Wayne went fifth overall in 2000, Williams was the highest-drafted player ever out of Hawaii. While Wayne eclipsed his draft status, he doesn't eclipse Williams as a prospect. He went 39th overall the year before, as a compensation pick for the loss of free agent Jose Mesa, and remained the earliest-drafted prep player from the islands. He dominated Hawaii's high school ranks, posting a 0.30 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 65 innings as a senior. In one game, he pitched a no-hitter while hitting three home runs in a 13-0 win, and he concluded his career with 20 strikeouts in a playoff victory. California-based scout Darren Wittcke made the trip to Hawaii to scout Williams, saw him throwing 95 mph with a good slider, and convinced the Giants to pull the trigger. Williams' athletic ability and stuff draw comparisons to a young Dwight Gooden from Giants officials. Class A California League hitters batted just .200 against Williams in his first full pro season, and he was just 18 when he pitched in the Double-A Texas League playoffs for Shreveport. He lost a 1-0 decision to Wichita but gave up just two hits, two walks and one run in seven innings. The Giants still don't know how hard he'll throw eventually. Just throwing on the side or trying to throw strikes, he throws 91 mph. When he needs it, he dials up to 94 mph and probably has another 3-4 mph to add. Combine its velocity, potential, life and his ability to throw it for strikes, and Williams' fastball is the best in the system. He was 180 pounds when drafted, and he might be 215-220 when he gets done growing. Williams also throws a solid changeup, slider and curveball. He has a smooth, sound delivery that he repeats well, and he's an excellent fielder. Despite the poker face he shows on the mound, Williams gets up for big games, which he proved in the playoffs. The Giants don't do a good job hiding their glee over Williams' development. Sometimes his curveball gets slow and a bit too big, but it's nothing that won't improve with experience. The organization has been careful with his pitch counts, and Williams averaged less than six innings a start in 2000. As he moves up the ladder, the Giants will stretch him out and test his durability. Williams ranks among the best prospects in baseball, not just in the system. He passed Kurt Ainsworth, who would be a No. 1 prospect in several other organizations, by showing a higher ceiling in 2000. Don't look for him to pass Ainsworth on the way to the big leagues, however. The Giants would love Williams to get a full year of Double-A in 2001.
As the 24th overall pick in the 1999 draft, Ainsworth became the first player drafted that high after major arm surgery. He missed a year in college after Tommy John surgery in 1997 and had pitched just eight innings for Louisiana State before a workhorse 1999 season that ended with first-team All-America honors. He won both of his starts for Team USA in the Olympics. Ainsworth throws a 92-94 mph fastball with good movement, and supplements it with a tight slider and good curveball. The Giants love his makeup. He pitches well under pressure and is intelligent, on and off the mound. Sometimes he can be a little too fine, overestimating hitters and underestimating his own stuff. San Francisco would like to see him pitch more aggressively inside. He answered any questions about his durability by ending a long season with a strong Olympic performance. Ainsworth was the top prospect in the organization last year and didn't slide because of anything he did wrong. Jerome Williams just showed a slightly higher ceiling. The Giants' depth in the big league rotation has the organization hoping it can bring its duo of potential frontline starters along at their own pace, with Ainsworth ticketed for Triple-A in 2001.
In the same draft that included heralded third basemen Sean Burroughs (Padres) and Mark Teixeira (who didn't sign with the Red Sox and is at Georgia Tech), Torcato tends to get forgotten. Despite right shoulder surgery that forced him to play half of 1999 as a DH, Torcato's hitting exploits rival those of Burroughs. Torcato has the best swing in the organization, one that sprays line drives to all parts of the field. California League managers walked him intentionally eight times, tops in the league. The organization is confident that despite having had problems with both shoulders, Torcato will develop power as he gets stronger. He runs surprisingly well and has good instincts on the bases. His inexperience and injuries have left him flailing at the hot corner, though, where he struggles with his throws. He has changed his throwing stroke and rarely releases the ball from the same point twice. Staying healthy would help his defense. He will start the year at Double-A Shreveport, unless he has a big spring and plays his way to Triple-A Fresno. His progress on defense will determine whether he can overcome Pedro Feliz and Lance Niekro and stay at third, or have to take his potent bat to left field or first base.
The son of former big leaguer Joe and nephew of Hall of Famer Phil projected as a first-round pick after nearly winning the Cape Cod League triple crown in the summer of 1999. He even showed off the family knuckleball in an emergency relief appearance. Persistent shoulder problems, though, and a longer swing with an aluminum bat short-circuited Niekro's power last spring, so he slipped through to the second round. But his short, compact swing makes him the rare hitter who hits better with wood than with aluminum. Despite a groin injury that slowed him for the first half of the season, he won the short-season Northwest League batting title in his pro debut. He showed the arm, hands and power to be a big league third baseman. The Giants want Niekro to get stronger and in better shape to help him avoid injuries. They're confident that with his makeup and intelligence, that won't be a problem. The Giants are flush with third-base prospects, and team officials are confident Niekro could make the jump to Double-A if needed and if Tony Torcato has the kind of spring that would put him in Fresno.
Vogelsong's gangly 160-pound frame out of high school detoured him to Kutztown, an NCAA Division II program. He grew significantly and is still growing, having added an inch and 15 pounds of muscle since being drafted. After battling tendinitis early in his career, he came back strong in 2000 and pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. He was leading the Texas League in strikeouts at the time of his promotion to Triple-A last year. Giants officials like Vogelsong's stuff as much as Ainsworth's. His fastball has similar velocity (92-94 mph) and life when he pitches to both sides of the plate. He has a solid curveball, and his hard slider is effective against lefthanders. He added a changeup that has developed nicely. He lacks Ainsworth's polish, but so do most Double-A pitchers. Vogelsong gets stubborn with his curveball, which he thinks is his best pitch, while the organization prefers his slider. He will join Ainsworth this year at Fresno, which has one of the Pacific Coast League's most challenging parks for pitchers. He figures to slot in behind Williams and Ainsworth in a future rotation, and has the stuff to become a quality reliever if the rotation gets too crowded.
McGowan's big frame and athletic ability attracted the interest of football programs such as Boston College, Miami, Notre Dame, Penn State and Syracuse. He wound up at Boston College for baseball, where he led the Big East Conference in batting and home runs as a junior. He led the Giants organization in average, hits and RBIs last year. He combines the power of a man his size with a smooth, compact swing uncommon for a big power hitter. He has shown the ability to hit the ball to all fields, even hitting cripple pitches to center field. The organization thinks he'll hit for more power as he learns to pull the ball. McGowan has athletic ability but hasn't put in the work to be a good defensive first baseman. The Giants would like to see him be a little more selective at the plate, drawing a few more walks and turning on pitches to put his tremendous power to use. With big league veteran J.T. Snow getting older, the Giants have a pair of possible successors in McGowan and Damon Minor. McGowan, who will get a full season at Double-A in 2000, has the advantage of being three years younger than Minor.
Minor's twin brother Ryan got more of the attention when they played together at Oklahoma--where they won the 1994 College World Series as teammates of Giants righthander Russ Ortiz--and when they both started in pro baseball. But Damon has since passed his brother as a prospect thanks to his better plate discipline and ability to put his power to use. Minor has the best raw power in the organization. His confidence blossomed at Fresno in 2000, where the small park and the presence of veteran Jalal Leach helped him develop the discipline and shorter swing to make use of his power. His average and on-base percentage (.394) were career highs, a sign of his growing maturity. While the Giants love Minor's power, they describe him as a stereotypical American League player. His defensive shortcomings at first base stand out in contrast to slick-fielding San Francisco incumbent J.T. Snow. Minor has little speed either. At his age, another year of Triple-A probably won't do Minor much good. The Giants won't hesitate to use him should something happen to Snow, but Snow is under contract through 2003 with an option for 2004. Minor's chances for advancement likely would be better in another organization.
Feliz has come a long way from the skinny kid who hit .193 with no extra-base hits in the Rookie-level Arizona League in his 1994 pro debut. After hitting 40 home runs the previous three seasons combined, Feliz took advantage of hitter-friendly Beiden Field to post a career year at Fresno. He finished fourth in the minors in home runs and was rated the best defensive third baseman in the Pacific Coast League. Feliz' power is rivaled only by Minor, who dwarfs him physically. The key to unlocking that power was plate discipline. Once he stopped putting himself in pitcher's counts, he was able to use his short swing and strong wrists to his advantage. Feliz set career highs with 30 walks and a .337 on-base percentage in 2000, but those numbers won't get it done in the big leagues unless he hits 30 home runs again. And he likely won't against better pitching without improved pitch selection. He has solid tools defensively at third base, including a strong arm and good footwork. With Bill Mueller traded to the Cubs, Feliz is at the top of the organizational ladder and has a chance to win the starting job in San Francisco. At worst, he'll share time with Russ Davis. Feliz tuned up for his chance with a strong winter in the Dominican, giving him momentum going into the spring.
The Giants' efforts in Latin America took a huge hit with the loss of Luis Rosa, who resigned in 1997 after being accused of demanding sexual favors from Latin players in return for a chance to play for the team. Rosa signed both Pedro Feliz and Valderrama. Valderrama battled arm, back and leg injuries in 1998-99 before putting it all together with a complete, healthy season in the California League. He is the closest thing the Giants have to a five-tool prospect. When healthy and confident, he has shown good bat speed, a plus arm, the speed to be a basestealing force, and the range and savvy to play center field. Valderrama's slight build makes him injury-prone, and the Giants weren't always convinced he wanted to excel badly enough. Defensively, he has the tools to play center field, but his performance has been erratic, especially with his routes to the ball and fundamentals like hitting the cutoff man. He is the top outfield prospect in the organization but has just one solid full season under his belt. If Arturo McDowell, a superior center fielder, joins him in Double-A this year, Valderrama might move to right field.
On the fast track when he signed, Urban came crashing down when he separated his pitching shoulder and tore his labrum when he fell awkwardly during a pickup basketball game in January 2000. The injury and resulting surgery kept him from pitching last year, but he returned with a strong effort in instructional league to earn a 40-man roster spot. Urban can throw four pitches for strikes, including a sneaky-fast fastball that has reached 94 mph, a cut fastball/slider that complements his tailing four-seamer, a good changeup and a developing curveball. He has excellent mechanics for his size, and they remained the same after his inactivity. Urban missed a year and a chance to show he can handle Double-A, which he didn't do at the outset of 1999. He was 80 percent back in instructional league and will have to prove to the Giants that he has learned from his time off. Obviously, San Francisco remains intrigued by a lefthander with quality stuff. Urban will be challenged at Shreveport and could move quickly if he can shake off the rust.
First off, he was born John Bonser, though everyone calls him Boof, a nickname his mother and friends used to toss around that just stuck with him. Considered a first-round arm with a late-round body by many scouts as a junior, Bonser dropped 30 pounds prior to his senior season in high school by sharing a personal trainer with hot 2001 draft prospect Casey Kotchman. Kotchman's father Tom, an Angels scout and minor league manager, says Bonser's weight problem was magnified to scouts by his high school and summer league uniforms, which made him look like he was in poor shape. The Giants must have seen him in better uniforms, because they liked his power arm enough to surprise many clubs by taking him with the 21st overall pick. Bonser has the power arm the Giants covet, touching 96 mph with his fastball in the Northwest League. One of the league's youngest players, he lacked command and, at times, composure. But he also showed a good curveball and solid straight changeup. With his repertoire, his role down the line could be as a closer.
The organization's biggest shortcoming is its lack of impact middle-infield prospects, which led to a three-year, $15 million contract for big league shortstop Rich Aurilia this offseason. Ransom has the tools to be such a player, but his 2000 performance wasn't encouraging. He struck out more often than he reached base and showed little pop. He's the best the organization has to offer, though, because of his defensive tools. Ransom is one of the system's best athletes--one Giants official called him an acrobat with soft hands--and has its best infield arm, which rates a 7 on the 2-to-8 scouting scale. Ransom's offensive shortcomings undermine his defensive prowess. He has bat speed and enough strength to be dangerous, both to himself and opposing pitchers, because home runs tend to make him too power-conscious. If he made better contact, he would have the power to be an average offensive player, but his swing tends to get long and has plenty of holes. The organization hopes Fresno's hitter-friendly atmosphere can give Ransom the confidence to put his prodigious tools to work.
McDowell is a player who clearly was hurt by the Giants' previous farm system set-up, as has 1998 supplemental first-rounder Chris Jones. They're the kinds of players the organization will be able to develop better now that the Giants have a Rookie-level Arizona League team and a low Class A team. McDowell has shown the Giants plenty of tools since getting drafted, as he's one of the organization's fastest players and best defenders. Some in the organization think his best tool may yet be his bat, despite his career .219 average. McDowell struggled in consecutive seasons in the California League, mainly due to his pitch selection. He swings at balls and takes strikes, club officials say, but they're pleased with his ability to draw a walk. He has shown power to the opposite field when he makes contact, and though he has the speed to control a game offensively, he has struggled with baserunning. He improved his stolen-base percentage in 2000, though, and that's not the only improvement the organization has seen. McDowell could start 2001 at low Class A Hagerstown for a change of scenery, then move up to Shreveport if he gets out of the blocks fast.
Treadway was the No. 9 prospect in the Cape Cod League in 1999 and had the best fastball in the summer league that year, topping out at 94 mph. The Giants didn't see much of that after drafting him in 2000, however. They chalk that up to Treadway's heavy college workload at UNC Charlotte, where he was the team's No. 1 starter and threw a lot of pitches as he piled up walks and strikeouts. He had more command problems with short-season Salem-Keizer. Though his ERA was solid, he surrendered 8.7 hits and 4.5 walks per nine innings, limiting him to just over four innings a start. He had trouble keeping his sinking fastball from falling into the 85-88 mph range and from getting up in the zone. With an athletic build, solid slider and a fresher arm, Treadway figures to pitch in high Class A San Jose in 2001. Drops in velocity are common for college draftees with backgrounds similar to his, and the Giants think his fastball will bounce back this year. They like his upside as much as any of the power arms they procured in the 2000 draft.
After ranking second on the organization's prospect list last year, Esteves didn't pitch at all in 2000. He came up lame in spring training with shoulder problems and doctors diagnosed a torn labrum, which necessitated major surgery. The Giants fingered an old injury that gradually worsened for the tear, which required extensive rehabilitation. Esteves wasn't ready for instructional league, and the organization left him off the 40-man roster with its fingers crossed that no one would take a pitcher with two major injuries in the past. (Esteves missed the 1997 college season with personal and elbow problems.) The gamble proved successful. He'll go to spring training with no expectations. If he comes close to his pre-injury form, San Francisco plans to end his days as a starter and make him a short reliever, either a set-up man or closer. He'll have to regain both his stuff and the confident, aggressive mentality that helps him challenge hitters with a 92-95 sinking fastball and a late-breaking slider. In the bullpen, Esteves will rely more on those pitches than on his changeup, which had developed nicely in 1999, and he may junk his curveball. But that all depends on how healthy he is in the spring.
Casper spent three years in the California League, not usually a great recipe for a prospect. Neither is hitting just .243 the third time around, and having that as your peak batting average after April 12. But Casper isn't an ordinary minor leaguer. Few Giants prospects have as many tools as he does. He has the organization's best mix of power and speed after Valderrama, though he's a completely different kind of player. Casper derives good power from his strong build and short stroke, and he has the bat speed to catch up to plus fastballs. His high strikeout numbers and low batting averages stem from his struggles with breaking balls, which probably will determine how far his career goes. Casper isn't afraid to take a walk, though, leading the organization in that category in 2000. He has the speed to be a baserunning threat and to play center field, though he profiles as a true right fielder with his solid power and arm, which managers voted the best among Cal League outfielders last year. He'll finally move up to Double-A in 2001.
The Giants have a deep pool of promising lefthanders. Chris Jones, a 1998 supplemental first-round pick, has battled injuries and a lack of confidence from being rushed to the California League. Youngsters such as David Brous, Erick Threets and Ryan Hannaman are relatively far away. Andra and Jeff Urban are the closest lefties to the big leagues, and Urban missed all of 2000. Andra has had injury problems, too. He didn't pitch from July 1998 to July 1999 after shoulder woes and surgery, but he was finally healthy last year. He was inconsistent, however, giving up a .298 batting average in Double-A and getting hammered in Triple-A. The organization chalked his lack of success at Fresno to his reluctance to challenge hitters inside with his fastball. On a given night, Andra's 88-92 mph fastball is an above-average pitch, as is his slider. He needs to be more aggressive with both pitches and throw more strikes with his changeup. With his size and arm, he'll be given plenty of chances to succeed.
Joseph has had bad luck and trouble making adjustments, but has the system's best raw arm. His fastball has touched 100 mph, and he throws 97-98 consistently. He also has a tight, hard slider that he throws in the mid-80s. Sounds like a top prospect, right? That's what the Giants thought when they drafted Joseph, who was primarily an infielder in college. His lack of pitching experience has stunted his development, though, as he never has gained a feel for an offspeed pitch. The Giants put him in the Double-A rotation in 2000, hoping he would pick up a changeup and get needed innings, but the plan backfired. He pitched tentatively as a starter, then went back to the bullpen and lost confidence, giving up 32 hits in 21 innings. He lost his last eight decisions, dropping his career record to 8-25. Despite his lack of success in the bullpen, the Giants have decided to leave him in relief and hope he can become the organization's closer of the future. The 2001 season will be crucial for Joseph, because if he doesn't start showing positive results, the organization will move on to other closer candidates, such as Luke Anderson and Eric Threets.
Luster is a rare draft-and-follow in an organization that has preferred its draftees to come from four-year colleges in the past. After being drafted in 1997, he helped lead DeKalb (Ga.) to the Junior College World Series the next spring before signing. He struggled in his first full pro season, but rebounded with one of the better years in the organization in 2000. Luster has good speed for a player his size, as well as solid baserunning instincts, stealing 17 bases in 19 tries last year. His power has started to develop as he gets more experience as a switch-hitter. He's a natural righthander, but the Giants like his swing from the left side better because he gets the barrel of the bat to the ball quicker and generates more pop. Luster played exclusively at first base in 2000, but he has the athletic ability to switch positions. San Francisco officials have pondered moving him to third base--another crowded spot in the organization--or to the outfield, where his skills could be put to better use.
Diaz is a testament to the Giants' revamped Dominican efforts and more player-friendly farm system. He was the No. 15 prospect in the Arizona League, clearly benefiting from not being rushed to the Northwest League. He also was one of the organization's top pitchers in instructional league. He has shown one of the best arms in the system. In his first season in the United States, Diaz showed an explosive fastball that reached 94 mph, a good changeup and long fingers, all of which drew the inevitable comparisons to Pedro Martinez. The Angels' Ramon Ortiz would be a more appropriate comparison. Diaz didn't throw his curveball much during the season but made strides with it in instructional league. He also throws a harder, slurvish slider. The Giants expect Diaz, who ranked fifth in the AZL in strikeouts, to fill out and gain more velocity on his fastball. With their new Sally League affiliate, they won't have to push Diaz as they might have a year ago.
San Francisco has plenty of solid catchers, and Chiaramonte ranks at the top of the list because of his power and Triple-A performance. He was a fan favorite at Fresno, playing in the same stadium where he was a second-team All-American for Fresno State in 1997. His brother Giachino played linebacker for the Bulldogs during the fall. Giuseppe has plenty of raw pop, averaging 22 homers in his three full pro seasons. He cut down on his strikeouts as he moved up to Triple-A, and he was impressive offensively in instructional league. The reason he went to instructional league at his age and stage of development, though, was his defense. Chiaramonte has never looked like a Gold Glover. He's an adequate receiver and calls a decent game, but he threw out just 12 of 118 basestealers. The Giants hope offseason shoulder surgery restores arm strength. The big league club got a lot of mileage out of Bobby Estalella and Doug Mirabelli last year, so Chiaramonte probably is destined for more Triple-A time in 2001.
Despite being an 18th-round draft pick, Anderson has the size, stuff and poise to move quickly as a closer. His fastball is fairly straight at 89-91 mph, but he has a devastating splitter. He has shown good command, especially with the splitter, which he can throw for strikes or spot out of the zone. He made a spectacular debut last summer, leading the Northwest League in saves while topping all short-season relievers with 16.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents hit just .172 against him. Anderson won four consecutive Nevada state titles at Green Valley High, where he was a teammate of Pirates outfielder Chad Hermansen. The Rockies drafted Anderson out of high school, but he stayed local and went to Nevada-Las Vegas, where he pitched infrequently as a freshman, then missed a year after having a bone spur removed from his right knee. Anderson came on with a big season in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 1999, but slipped in the draft after posting a 6.91 ERA as a junior last spring.
A third-team All-American at Washington in 1998, Magruder does a lot of things well but nothing spectacularly. He spent his second season at Double-A in 2000 and showed improvement. He has good pop in his bat for his size, though he'll never be a power hitter. He's at least an average runner, but he doesn't have blazing speed and hasn't become an efficient basestealer despite his added experience. If it sounds like he has plenty of limitations, he does. Magruder can play center field, but probably wouldn't be adequate in Pac Bell Park's spacious outfield, where it's 420 feet to right-center. His best position would be as a corner outfielder, but he doesn't have the power to play there on an everyday basis. Magruder hits enough and has enough arm and range to become an effective fourth outfielder, but he'll have to start hitting homers to be more than that.
After six seasons in the organization, Torrealba has seen plenty of other catchers come and go. He outlasted Marcus Jensen and was once passed by Sammy Serrano, but Torrealba almost moved to the top of the backstop list after arm injuries to Giuseppe Chiaramonte and Serrano. Serrano's arm problems have the Giants worried about whether he can remain behind the plate. Torrealba threw out 33 percent of basestealers at Shreveport and had his best offensive season last year. He never will be a power hitter because he uses an inside-out swing. The Giants like his ability as a situational hitter and hit-and-run man, but see him first and foremost as a catch-and-throw defender who'll be adequate at best offensively. His presence, along with Chiaramonte and big leaguers Bobby Estalella and Doug Mirabelli, may prompt the organization to move strong-armed catcher Guillermo Rodriguez to the mound. Torrealba may have to duel Chiramonte for playing time in Triple-A this season.
Castro was on the prospect scrap heap not long ago, waived by the Angels following the 1999 season. He had risen from a two-way player who pitched and played shortstop in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League to the Angels' No. 7 prospect after the 1997 season, but he was slow to adjust offensively and struggled in two years in the California League. The Giants sent Castro back to the Cal League in 2000 before their lack of infield depth prompted his promotion to Fresno. Castro is a tools player with decent bat speed, good running speed and an excellent arm, which ranks as a 7 on the 2-to-8 scouting scale. He was rated the best infield arm in both the California and Pacific Coast leagues last year, and managers also named him the Cal League’s best defensive shortstop. Castro could move to second base, though, because he isn't a fundamentally sound defender at short. His arm could help him overcome his shaky footwork and range on the other side of the bag.
Clark, a substitute teacher in Springfield, Mass., during the offseason, attended college on a football scholarship and came to baseball late. His athletic ability and breakout season in 1999 had the Giants excited. But the hitting skills Clark had shown then didn't carry him in 2000, when his baseball inexperience caught up with him against better pitching. He hasn't developed the ability to turn his considerable raw power into home runs, and his plate discipline slipped in Double-A. Clark's combination of a below-average arm and poor routes to fly balls limits him to left field. On the plus side, Clark has good bat speed and can sting the ball to all fields with authority. His offense could get a boost at Fresno, where learning to loft the ball could lead to a 25-homer season.
Brous has one of the more intriguing backgrounds in the organization. He wasn't included in the team's 2000 media guide after being released at the end of 1999, then was placed on the 40-man roster after the 2000 season despite his age and inexperience. The Giants signed Brous as a draft-and-follow in May 1999, then voided his contract after discovering he had elbow and shoulder problems. They re-signed him after he had Tommy John surgery and came back healthy after rehabilitation. He finally made his pro debut last July. Despite the rust and a tender arm, Brous showed what the Giants call "power equipment," touching the mid-90s with his fastball and drawing comparisons to big league reliever Alan Embree. Brous' athleticism and makeup also have the organization encouraged he'll develop a breaking ball. San Francisco has the patience to wait on a lefty with such a power arm, and seems to have a few of them in Brous, Erick Threets and 2000 draftee Ryan Hannaman.
Threets was part of the Giants' bountiful draft haul in 2000 and is among the biggest, hardest throwers in the system. The organization was able to sign him despite his commitment to Louisiana State, where he would have competed for the Tigers' closer role. The Giants aren't quite sure what they have in Threets, who spent the summer pitching in the Cape Cod League. After a long season, he took instructional league off. In the spring and summer, Threets showed a fastball that touched the mid-90s, a low-80s slider and excellent athletic ability. He may not be done growing, which may mean that he'll add more velocity. The Giants will see what he shows them in his first pro spring training, and he likely will start his career as a starter at Hagerstown. He has a chance to move up this list quickly.
Guzman overcame the odds a 50th-round draft pick faces when he reached San Francisco and got 15 at-bats there in 1999. He was removed from the 40-man roster after the 1999 season, though the Giants were able to hold onto him and did protect him after the 2000 season. Guzman doesn't project as a starter in the big leagues, but the organization values his ability to play catcher, second base, third base and left field with aplomb. Catcher and third base are his best defensive positions, and he can make the routine plays at second. The Giants like his bat enough to think he can be a big league utilityman. But he has little power, and if he weren't a lefthanded hitter he may not have lasted this long. Despite Fresno's forgiving dimensions, he has yet to hit double-figure home runs in three years there as a starter. He is just an adequate runner and doesn't draw a lot of walks, making him a below-average offensive player despite a career minor league average of .282.
Zerbe's ceiling is clearly defined. He'll be no more than a situational lefthander, though he has a chance to fill that role in San Francisco this year. His long road to the major leagues had more twists than most. Drafted by the Dodgers in 1991, he has bounced around the minor leagues, including a stint in the independent Western League in 1997, where he persevered through 16-hour bus rides and $15-a-day meal money. He played for Sonoma County, just 30 miles north of the Bay Area, and worked his way back to San Francisco. Zerbe pitched well in his big league trial and then pitched 12 strong innings in the Arizona Fall League, showing an average fastball and good curveball that he throws for strikes.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up