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Williams has worn the label of No. 1 prospect in the organization for a year, and he has worn it well through what he and the Giants hope were the worst of times. He pitched the entire season at age 19 at Double-A Shreveport as the youngest player in the Texas League, all while overcoming the death of his mother Deborah. Williams left for spring training in early March, only to return two weeks later to Hawaii for her funeral. His father Glenn, who hasn't been able to work for six years due to neck injuries, urged Williams to stay in Arizona for spring training, but he returned and took time out during the trip to help give pitching lessons to players at Waipahu High, his alma mater. The missed time in the spring meant Williams was working his way into shape during the early part of the season, and it showed. In his first 65 innings, he had a 5.26 ERA, .256 opponent batting average, 10 home runs allowed and a 42-22 strikeout-walk ratio. In his final 65, he had a 2.63 ERA, a .213 opponent average, four homers and a 42-12 strikeout-walk ratio. The Giants love Williams' maturity, physically and emotionally. Athletic and coordinated, he pitches at 90-92 mph with a fastball that features good life. When he wants to, he can run his fastball up to 95 mph. Late in the season, he showed the kind of command the Giants were used to. He has tightened the rotation on his slider and improved his curve and changeup. Overcoming his mother's death and finishing the year strong were two more indications of Williams' mental toughness, which combined with his stuff makes him a potential No. 1 starter. He has yet to become a workhorse in pro ball, averaging 128 innings in his two full seasons, and missing spring training forced the Giants to keep him on strict pitch counts early in the 2001 season. But he threw a pair of complete games and pitched fewer than six innings just twice in the last three months of the year. Williams remains one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. The Giants' major league staff is deep enough that Williams need not be rushed. When ready, he figures to be the ace the Giants now lack. He'll begin 2002 at Triple-A Fresno.
Bonser officially changed his name from John to Boof, a childhood nickname that stuck, last offseason. Don't let that fool you, though--the Giants point to increased maturity as the biggest reason Bonser was named the low Class A South Atlantic League's No. 1 prospect in 2001. Maturity and talent are his strengths. Bonser maintained a 92-95 mph fastball throughout his first full pro season. He can run two-seamers that sink or pitch up in the zone with a four-seamer. The other improvement Bonser made was throwing his curveball more consistently, which came with improved, smooth mechanics. He ate up righthanders, who batted just .179 against him. Bonser will have to take care of his big, strong body, but his work ethic has eased any weight concerns. He has the makings of a good changeup, though he didn't need to use it much while he overpowered Sally League hitters with two plus pitches. Because the Giants have the likes of Williams and Kurt Ainsworth ahead of him, Bonser won't have to be rushed through the system. The poster child for the organization's successful move to low Class A, Bonser will step up to high Class A San Jose in 2002.
Ainsworth had Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda at his wedding in January 2001, and Lasorda called to boost Ainsworth's confidence when he struggled out of the gate in Triple-A. Ainsworth pitched for Lasorda on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, winning both his starts. He throws a 92-93 mph two-seam fastball, circle changeup, curve and slider. He keeps the ball down and lets his defense work for him. After struggling early in the season, he learned to trust his breaking stuff more and adjusted well to his first adversity as a pro. Ainsworth nibbled too much for his own good, putting himself in hitter's counts and leading to his early struggles. After recovering with a strong August (3-0, 2.73), he fell into the same trap in his brief big league debut. He also had some blister problems from throwing his curveball. Ainsworth won't have a spot in the rotation handed to him. But his fast finish in Fresno encouraged the Giants, who will give Ainsworth and Ryan Jensen a chance to take over as the No. 5 starter after Shawn Estes was traded.
Giants trainers have called Torcato a freak for his ability to come back from injury. He has had three operations on his right shoulder, the latest last March 8 after he got hurt in spring training. His problems prompted his move from third base to the outfield. With a gifted natural stroke that produces consistent line drives, Torcato is easily the best hitter in the system. The Giants project more than just gap power once he stays healthy enough to get in a groove. He still has good arm strength despite his shoulder woes, and he takes good routes in the outfield, a sign of his excellent baseball instincts. The Giants hope the move off third base will minimize further entries on his medical chart. He'll hit for more power once he learns the patience to work into hitter's counts. Torcato was the leading inhouse candidate if a corner spot had opened in San Francisco's outfield, but the club signed Barry Bonds to a long-term deal, signed Reggie Sanders and traded for Tsuyoshi Shinjo. The extra Triple-A time Torcato will get should benefit him.
The Giants have redoubled their Latin American efforts the last four years, and Diaz is the crown jewel of their work. He missed 21⁄2 months with a tender arm as a precaution in 2001, his first full season, but came back with a dominant effort in the Arizona Fall League. Diaz' fastball regularly reaches 95-96 mph, and he showed good command of it before his temporary layoff. Diaz throws three complementary pitches for strikes: a hard slider in the mid-80s, a plus changeup with good sink and a decent curveball. All his pitches have life down in the zone. Diaz has become more consistent and slower with his delivery, leading to better command of his changeup and curve. He takes his craft seriously. The Giants want to be careful with Diaz. He could use more pro innings but also must show his small frame can hold up under a heavier workload. Sometimes he's too hard on himself, though that has improved with maturity. Diaz' power potential is exciting. He's the latest slight Dominican with an electric arm to earn comparisons to Pedro Martinez. He'll pitch in high Class A this year.
After starting his college career as primarily a first baseman, Foppert emerged as a pitching prospect in the wood-bat Shenandoah Valley League in 2000, posting a 2.11 ERA and allowing just 44 hits in 64 innings. He led the Northwest League in ERA in his pro debut. Foppert has an athletic pitcher's body and a smooth, easy delivery right out of the textbook. Short-season Salem-Keizer manager Fred Stanley compared Foppert's smooth motion to Jim Palmer's. His no-effort mechanics produce pinpoint command, and the Giants expect him to be a workhorse. He has a low-90s fastball that touches 95 mph, a plus slider with late action, and a solid changeup and curveball. Foppert really just needs innings. He has yet to experience much failure on the mound and needs to pick up the nuances of the position, such as holding runners. The Giants say he has the aptitude to learn quickly. Foppert gives the Giants five righthanders among their top six prospects. He's on the fast track and should start 2002 at Class A San Jose.
Niekro's father Joe and his uncle Phil, a Hall of Famer, were accomplished knuckleball pitchers in the majors, and Lance can throw the floater as well. He nearly won the Cape Cod League's triple crown in 1999, but a shoulder injury and diminished power caused him to fall to the second round of the draft a year later. Niekro plays with passion and grit like a big leaguer. He reminds the Giants of Jeff Kent offensively: a good fastball hitter who crushes mistake breaking balls and has power to all fields. He has soft, sure hands and an accurate if not overwhelming arm at third base. He's athletic enough for the position as well. Niekro has had health problems since his Cape coming-out party. He went to spring training last year with a tender right shoulder and injured the same shoulder May 15 when he landed wrong after catching a popup. He must show he can remain healthy to be considered an elite prospect. He also can improve his plate discipline. Niekro allayed fears about his recurring shoulder problems by hitting .306-2-13 in 62 instructional league at-bats. He'll move up to Double-A in 2002 and get back on the express route to the majors.
A sore arm thanks to poor high school mechanics limited Threets to the bullpen and just 38 innings in 2000 between the juco ranks and the Cape Cod League, where the Giants signed him. He hails from Randy Johnson's hometown of Livermore, Calif., and if instructional league radar guns are to be believed, Threets has staked his claim as Livermore's hardest thrower. He could have the hardest fastball in the minors as club officials insist he threw four pitches in the 102-103 mph range. Threets' wide-shouldered, powerful build and narrow hips provide a perfect pitcher's frame. His slider is a work in progress but can be nasty when he stays on top of the pitch. Still raw, he doesn't have an offspeed pitch. His delivery tends to get stiff if he doesn't relax and let it go. Threets reacted well to the situation he was put at high Class A last year, where an 85-pitch limit and his lack of polish contributed to him going winless. He shook it off by dominating instructional league. A return to San Jose as a starter is in the offing, but a move to the bullpen could come eventually.
Linden hit .390 as a sophomore at Washington and was named the No. 1 prospect in the Cape Cod League in 2000. He had a stormy breakup with the Huskies, transferred to Louisiana State and had an inconsistent junior season. He returned to Baton Rouge in August but changed his mind and signed, negotiating the contract sans agent Tommy Tanzer. Linden reminds the Giants of Will Clark with his sweet swing and absolute confidence in his ability. He immediately became the system's top power prospect with an impressive instructional league effort, showing pop from both sides of the plate. He recognizes breaking balls well and is a good runner for his size. Linden shows at least average arm strength and projects as a right fielder. His swagger rubbed people the wrong way at Washington, and his makeup was questioned in the Cape League. The Giants would like to see him 15-20 pounds under his fall weight. The organization is barren in the outfield in the minor leagues, and Linden has a chance to move very quickly. If he's in shape, he could advance to Double-A with a good spring.
The Giants drafted Ransom's brother Troy in the 29th round in 1999 as an outfielder, but moved him to the mound in 2001. Arm strength must run in the family, because Cody's arm rates a 7 on the 2 to 8 scouting scale. Named the best defensive shortstop in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Ransom rates as the best defender in the organization. He gets to balls average shortstops wouldn't dream of. Despite that range and huge arm, he made just 12 errors in 588 chances at Fresno. He made strides offensively, showing above-average power for his size and position. Ransom's glove remains ahead of his bat. He has too many holes in his swing, though he made progress making more consistent contact. He needs to improve his pitch recognition. He tends to jump to his front foot during his swing, cheating to catch up to fastballs. Ransom needs more minor league at-bats before his defense can become a factor in the big leagues. If he improves after another season in Triple- A, he could push Rich Aurilia to third base and take over at short in 2003.
Jensen seemed to be stuck in neutral after consecutive seasons at Fresno with ERAs higher than 5.00, and he was removed from the 40-man roster in February 2001. He never has pitched in Double-A, and he finally adjusted to Triple-A. He earned three promotions to San Francisco, joining the rotation when first Shawn Estes and then Mark Gardner went on the disabled list. Surgery before the 2001 season on both of Jensen's knees helped his conditioning and endurance, and he was able to sustain the average velocity on his fastball deeper into games and for the duration of the season. He also added a knuckle-curve as an out pitch to his varied arsenal. While none are considered above-average offerings, he also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. Jensen will battle Ainsworth, whose ceiling is much higher, and Joe Nathan for the No. 5 spot in the rotation in spring training.
Though he spells his name differently, Verplancke is the cousin of professional golfer Scott Verplank. Jeff's older brother Joe is a former Diamondbacks farmhand. Jeff chose baseball over soccer, which he played on a partial scholarship at Cal State Los Angeles. The Mariners drafted him in the second round in 1998, but didn't sign him after he was diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament and needed Tommy John surgery. Verplancke had the operation, didn't pitch in 1999 and was set to transfer to Long Beach State that fall before the Giants signed him just before classes were to start for a $600,000 bonus. San Francisco used him as a starter in his first pro season to build up his endurance and get him more innings. He since has blossomed with a move to the bullpen, becoming the club's top closer prospect ahead of the likes of Luke Anderson, Jackson Markert and Wesley Hutchison. Verplancke has two plus pitches: a 94-mph fastball with heavy bite down in the strike zone, and a plus slider. He still struggles with command and wore down in the Arizona Fall League. A strong spring, though, could catapult him into the bullpen mix to setup Felix Rodriguez and Robb Nen.
The Giants' collection of power lefthanders should be the envy of most organizations. In addition to Erick Threets, Hannaman and No. 14 prospect Francisco Liriano have electric fastballs that are well above average for southpaws. Hannaman was as raw as they come out of high school. Tales of his inexperience include not knowing which foot to put on the rubber while pitching from the stretch. The Giants have brought him along slowly, teaching him the nuances of the game in small doses. The results are starting to show. Hannaman alternately dazzled and digressed in instructional league, but when he was on he threw a fastball in the high 90s with an easy arm action. He also showed flashes of a slider with tight rotation and a good bite, which allows him to pitch inside to righthanders. Inconsistent mechanics and command, plus his own inexperience, remain Hannaman's biggest obstacles to moving faster through the system. He shined in his late callup to the short-season Northwest League and is ticketed for a full year at low Class A Hagerstown in 2001. The Giants are willing to be patient.
The Giants have put a greater emphasis (read: more money) into Latin America since 1998, and the results are starting to percolate up through the system. Felix Diaz is the best example, but Liriano could surpass him with a strong performance in a full-season league in 2002. Several club officials describe his arm as special, which must have been obvious when the Giants first worked him out. They immediately moved him to the mound after he showed up as an outfielder. Liriano has added two inches and 25 pounds to his athletic, lithe frame and has touched 96 mph with his fastball. He pitched regularly at 91-92 in Rookie ball and in a brief stint with short-season Salem-Keizer. His curveball is a plus pitch and he has shown a good feel for pitching. Liriano has a sound delivery and may move faster than Hannaman, though both will start this year in low Class A.
Signed away from a scholarship offer to Arizona State, Benavidez impressed managers enough to be rated the No. 3 prospect in the Northwest League in his pro debut last summer. Salem skipper Fred Stanley, who played in the majors and used to run the Brewers system, compared him to a young Edgar Martinez because of his ability to drive the ball to all fields at a young age. Benavidez has more raw power than anyone in the system save fellow 2001 draftee Todd Linden, and the Giants expect some adjustments in his approach and swing will help bring it out soon. His swing tends to get long and Benavidez has had trouble identifying breaking balls. But he has no trouble hitting fastballs with authority and isn't afraid to work deep into a count. He's a streaky hitter, another indication of his youth. Defensively, his hands and range are average. He has an accurate arm with adequate strength when he doesn't short-arm his throws. A full season in low Class A will determine how fast a track his development will take.
The Giants acknowledge one of their organization's biggest weaknesses is up the middle of the field. They hope that major league Rule 5 pick Escalona, drafted away from the Astros, will help them now and in the future. Primarily a second baseman, he led the South Atlantic League in doubles and extra-base hits last year, an indication that he has plenty of bat for his position. Stocky to the point where Houston thought he might need to lose some weight, Escalona has just average speed. He does have better range than one would think, and he turns the double play well. Scouts praised his instincts and poise, traits that attracted San Francisco in the Rule 5 draft as well. Interestingly, the Giants announced Escalona as a third baseman at the draft. Though he didn't play there in 2001, the hot corner has been a weak spot at the major league level. With the acquisition of Desi Relaford in the Shawn Estes trade, the Giants should be able to carry Escalona through 2002. Then they can figure out where to use him in the future.
While he shares a name with the flamboyant Colombian soccer player, this Valderrama has more to his game than his legs. He entered 2001 as the Giants' only bona fide outfield prospect. He was coming off the first full healthy season of his career and had shown elements of all five tools, with the best being baserunning and hitting. Valderrama made a strong showing in spring training and got off to a good start last year in Double-A, where he exhibited better plate discipline and improved defensive play in center field. Then he tore his left rotator cuff trying to make a sliding catch on wet turf May 19. Valderrama had surgery and didn't return during the regular season, but encouraged the Giants by taking Tony Torcato's place late in the Arizona Fall League season and going 6-for-21. A healthy Valderrama will try to regain his form in 2002, most likely starting back in Shreveport.
Hennessey went from obscurity to the first round of the 2001 draft on the strength of his slider, which Giants scouts alternately rated as a 75 or 80 on the 20-to-80 scale during the spring. He also possesses plenty of athleticism and a fresh arm, the result of his intriguing college career. Hennessey was a No. 3 starter on his Toledo high school team and went to Youngstown State as a two-way player. He was the club's shortstop for most of 2000, earning a few innings as a reliever and posting a 7.75 ERA. He convinced coach Mike Florak to make him a starter last spring, and his stuff took off as he shared the Mid-Continent Conference pitcher of the year award with Oral Roberts' Michael Rogers. In addition to his wicked slider, which has a tight rotation and sharp, late break, Hennessey throws a 91-92 mph fastball that touched 95 in the spring, plus a quick arm. He still has much to learn about pitching, such as an offspeed pitch, and was worn out in instructional league, so the Giants will bring him along slowly.
Of the three pitchers the Giants took in the first two rounds of the 2001 draft, Lowry has the most experience and polish, even if he ranks behind Jesse Foppert and Brad Hennessey on this list. A first-team All-American at Pepperdine last spring, Lowry and righthander Dan Haren (a Cardinals second-round pick) gave the Waves one of college baseball's top pitching duos. The 2001 West Coast Conference pitcher of the year, Lowry emerged after a bad back and broken left hand sidelined him for most of his senior year in high school, diverting him for a year to Ventura (Calif.) Junior College and another year in the Waves bullpen. His 142 strikeouts last spring were the second-most in school history, and were the result of an 87-91 mph fastball with good life, a consistent overhand curve and a plus changeup. San Francisco still sees some projection left in his fastball. Lowry throws all three pitches for strikes and holds runners well. He looks like a future innings-eater, though the Giants took it easy with him last year after he pitched 121 innings at Pepperdine. He should join Hennessey in the Hagerstown rotation in 2002.
Athas was an impact player in two college programs. First he was the starting shortstop for the last team in Providence College history in 1999, helping the Friars to 47 wins and an NCAA regional berth. When the program was dissolved, Athas transferred to Wake Forest, where he played every infield position as a sophomore and became the everyday shortstop as a junior. He signed quickly, immediately becoming one of the top middle-infield prospects in an organization lacking in that area. He showed good all-around athleticism and leadership skills at Hagerstown, helping lead the Suns down the stretch to the playoffs. He surprised the Giants with gap power and above-average speed and baserunning ability, though he's no burner. Defensively, his range is average or a tick above. He has fluid actions, soft hands and an accurate, more-than-adequate arm. He solidified his standing with a strong effort in instructional league and could be pushed to Double-A in 2002, as the system is woefully short on athletic shortstops. Athas' younger brother Mike is following his brother's footsteps, transferring after one season from Connecticut to Massachusetts to continue his own baseball career.
Though he signed in 1997, Santos had just 50 at-bats outside of the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League coming into 2001. He held his own in his first full season last year, leading Hagerstown in RBIs. The Giants signed him because he showed good swing mechanics at an early age, and that stroke continues to make Santos an above-average hitter. As he has added strength with time and American training methods, he has started to hit for more and more power, though he remains more of a gap hitter than a classic slugger. He's agile, runs well for his position and is smooth and polished around the bag at first, which hasn't been true of past San Francisco first-base prospects like Damon Minor and Sean McGowan. The organization likes Santos' work ethic but believes he'll hit for more power with a more patient approach at the plate. He finished strong, hitting .322 in his final 30 games last year and smacking two hits in each of his final five games. He's ready for high Class A.
On the surface, McGowan had a solid 2001 season. He hit more home runs than he had the previous year, wasn't overmatched by Triple-A pitching despite just 69 previous at-bats above Class A, and he played some left field in addition to first base. But McGowan fell hard in the eyes of the organization, which seems to have lost patience waiting for him to develop home run power befitting his large frame. His swing is compact but he hasn't learned to pull the ball with authority, and he continues to have problems with good inside fastballs. In Triple-A, he hit just .251 with five home runs away from Fresno's cozy Beiden Field, and he continued to strike out four times as often as he walked. The Giants also had high hopes that McGowan's athletic ability would allow a smooth move to the outfield, but instead he didn't take to the experiment, prompting a pair of demotions to Double-A. McGowan could put the pieces back together, but he must put in more work defensively at first base and hit for more power to supplant J.T. Snow in San Francisco.
Thomas had a difficult beginning with the organization, but the Giants are glad they stuck with him because he's another hard-throwing lefthander in a system deep in them. He could have had his contract voided after he signed late in 1999 for a $565,000 bonus when the club discovered he needed Tommy John surgery. Because he already had spent time at Salem-Keizer in 1999, though he didn't pitch, San Francisco decided to keep him through 2000, when he rehabilitated but didn't take the mound. The Giants were rewarded by Thomas' encouraging effort when he finally made his pro debut last year. He regained the velocity on his fastball after his rehab, topping out at 93 mph. Thomas also has a hard overhand curveball, but his best pitch is a changeup with good arm speed and late sink. He was rolling in June when he was shut down again with a tender arm. He's another good example of how the presence of a low Class A club helped the farm system immensely. Thomas will move up a step to high Class A this year if healthy.
The Devil Rays drafted Cash out of high school in 1997 in the 40th round, but Cash attended Modesto (Calif.) Junior College--where Erick Threets later pitched--as a draft-andfollow. He didn't sign the following spring and moved on to California after one season, working primarily in middle relief. Undrafted as a junior despite leading the Bears with eight wins, he had a much better season in 2001 while increasing the velocity on his fastball from 87-90 to 92-93 mph. Cash complements it with a plus slider, improved curveball and a changeup that he has shown decent feel for. His maturity and polish convinced the Giants to put him on the fast track, and he responded by averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings while debuting in high Class A. He has good arm strength and profiles as a middle reliever. He should start this year in Double-A.
In a system with several hard-throwing closers, Anderson stands out because he is different. His fastball, which has reached the high 80s in the past and touched 90-91 mph, more often was in the mid-80s last year. Despite his drop in velocity, he continued to rack up impressive strikeout numbers thanks to a hard splitter that he can throw for strikes or send tumbling out of the zone. Because he has plus command of both pitches and aggressively goes after hitters, Anderson stays ahead in the count and doesn't give in. He'll have to develop a better breaking ball to offset lefthanded hitters, who batted .281 against him. The Giants would like to see his old velocity or more movement on his fastball. He hasn't had to go deep into games and will need to prove he can be more than a one-inning pitcher. Still, his splitter is good enough that Anderson soon could work his way into a big league setup role.
Markert's 39 saves last year represented the ninth-highest total in minor league history, and he won the minor league edition of the Rolaids Relief Man award. However, of the closers who have surpassed his total in the minors, only Mike Perez and Steve Reed had significant big league careers. The saves don't get the Giants excited, though Markert's stuff does. He has a hard sinker that regularly reaches 93 mph, and San Francisco's think he'll throw harder with weight training. He gets good leverage on the sinker, though he could do more in that regard. Markert's out pitch is a splitter, which he uses to induce plenty of ground balls. He must keep the ball down to be effective. His strikeout numbers were better in his short-season debut, and the organization wants to see if he can develop a third pitch to help him miss more bats. A third pitch also could lead to a move to the rotation, though Markert is likely to close in high Class A in 2002.
The Giants have brought Cabrera along slowly, giving him two years in the Dominican Summer League and two more in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Though he played primarily second base last summer, he spent the fall working at shortstop and has played seven positions overall, giving San Francisco a versatile young athlete. Cabrera has offensive potential, showing the ability to play the small game and use his speed. He also has improved his ability to stay inside the ball and drive pitches. Cabrera has gotten stronger since signing and needs to keep doing so. The Giants consider him the most dedicated Latin American player in the system and a role model for other youngsters following him from the Dominican. He should get a chance to show his skills in full-season ball this year at Hagerstown.
The Giants have built their pitching depth by finding hard throwers in less-than-obvious places, often with later draft picks or converted players. They found Knoedler, who played alongside his twin brother Jason in college, behind the plate. Drafted in the 41st round in 1998 out of high school and again in the 13th round out of junior college in 1999, Knoedler was the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II player of the year for Lincoln Land (Ill.) Community College in 2000. Justin was the more highly touted Knoedler before they transferred to Miami (Ohio), but Jason had the bigger year for the RedHawks, hitting .402, earning second-team All-America honors and getting drafted in the sixth round by the Tigers. Justin hit .283-9-25 as a catcher for Miami and also made 14 appearances as a reliever, compiling a 7.02 ERA. The Giants preferred his strong arm and immediately moved him to the mound full-time. Knoedler has one of the system's better fastballs in terms of velocity, 93-96 mph, and his athleticism helps him throw strikes. He'll need to flesh out the rest of his repertoire, which he'll work on this year in low Class A.
Hutchison continues the Giants' long association with Idaho's NAIA powerhouse, Lewis- Clark State. Longtime Warriors coach Ed Cheff and area scout John Shafer, who has worked the region for the Giants for more than 20 years, have an excellent relationship. Five Giants big leaguers have had ties to Cheff's program, including current outfielder Marvin Benard. Hutchison and Giants outfield prospect Jason Ellison are the best bets to join that fraternity in the future. Hutchison was the MVP of the 2000 NAIA World Series as the Warriors' closer, and he acquitted himself well in that role in his pro debut last year as Salem-Keizer won the Northwest League title. Hutchison has three pitches--a low-90s fastball, plus slider (his best pitch) and developing changeup--so he may not be limited to the bullpen. He worked in both roles in college and Hutchison could move into the low Class A rotation with a good spring. His versatility figures to be an asset as his career moves along.
Castro reminds the Giants in part of where they've been as an organization, and also where they need improvement. Picked up off waivers from the Angels, he has become one of the organization's most effective middle infielders, spending 2001 as the everyday shortstop in Double-A before getting a short trial at second base in Triple-A. Castro's best tools are his arm, which the organization grades as a 75 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, and his speed. He showed offensive improvement at Shreveport, hitting for more power than in the past, but he strikes out too much to expect that power to play at higher levels. Castro's play is erratic at the plate and in the field, which makes him unlikely to be a big league starter. He makes careless mistakes that drive managers crazy. His tools are too much to ignore, though, and the Giants hope to turn him into a utilityman extraordinaire, adding center field to his repertoire. Down the line, they think he can fill the role Shawon Dunston has played for them in recent years.