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When Lincecum was available with the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft, the Giants felt like they had just won the lottery. A month earlier, they figured there was no chance Lincecum would last beyond the third or fourth pick. But while his size and unorthodox delivery scared off some organizations, San Francisco saw him as a once-in-a-decade talent who was ready to dominate major league hitters straight out of college. Lincecum was draft-eligible the year before as a 21-year-old sophomore, but his seven-figure bonus demands dropped him to the 42nd round and the Indians. Cleveland made a run at him after he led the Cape Cod League with a 0.69 ERA but wouldn't meet his price. Lincecum returned to the Huskies, won his second straight Pacific-10 Conference pitcher of the year award and led NCAA Division I in strikeouts (199) and strikeouts per nine innings (14.3). He also added the Golden Spikes Award a week before signing for $2.025 million, a club record for a drafted player. After a couple of tuneups with short-season Salem Keizer, Lincecum dominated at high Class A San Jose and struck out 10 over seven innings to win his lone playoff start. Lincecum throws a 91-96 mph fastball that tops out at 98. If that weren't enough, he also has a true hammer curveball that breaks early and keeps on breaking. Giants scouts believe he might have the best curve of any drafted player since Kerry Wood. He added a changeup during his Cape stint, and at times it's a swing-and-miss pitch that bottoms out at the plate. During the spring, he also unveiled a hard slider that he can throw for strikes. Lincecum's combination of stuff and deception makes him close to unhittable. He gains maximum leverage, belying his short stature, by over-rotating his body, using a high leg kick and then seemingly catapulting the ball with a lightning-quick over-the-top delivery. He almost leaps off the mound and his stride is so long that he appears to deliver the ball directly on top of hitters. He's incredibly strong for a pitcher his size, and some old-timers say he reminds them of Bob Feller or a righthanded Sandy Koufax because of his delivery and flexibility. That's no coincidence, because Lincecum's father watched Koufax pitch and taught his son to copy the Hall of Famer's mechanics. Lincecum's delivery requires incredible focus because he takes his eye off the target during his Kevin Brown-style turn. It also requires Cirque du Soleil-style athleticism and coordination to keep him on center to the plate. He can suffer through bouts with his command because of all the moving parts in his delivery. Lincecum logged 342 innings in his three seasons at Washington, frequently exceeding 120 pitches per start. While he claims to have never felt soreness in his arm, some scouts believe he's a breakdown waiting to happen. San Francisco doesn't share those fears, believing he generates his power through leverage and not by overtaxing his arm. He could be the devastating closer the Giants have lacked since Robb Nen injured his shoulder in 2002, but they say Lincecum will be a starter until he proves he can't handle the role. If he dominates, San Francisco will have a hard time keeping him off the Opening Day roster. He's more likely headed for Double-A until the club has a vacancy in the rotation.
Sanchez profiles as a quality starter, but the Giants' bullpen need was so acute that they moved him to short relief after three dominating Double-A starts last year. He was in the big leagues a few weeks later. He finished the year in the San Francisco rotation, though he was much more effective coming out of the bullpen. Sanchez's low-90s fastball is sneaky-fast and can hit 95 mph on occasion. He partners it with a plus changeup that has fooled hitters at every level. The Giants aren't sure if Sanchez is ready to shoulder a full-season workload. He never has thrown more than 126 innings in a season and he has trouble maintaining his velocity when he's used on consecutive days. He also throws a slider but hasn't mastered it, in part because it's hard to stay on top of it with his low three-quarters delivery. Because he worked just 95 innings in 2006, the Giants had no reservations about letting Sanchez play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. With a solid spring, he'll crack their rotation as a fifth starter.
San Francisco doesn't often compete for top Latin American talent, but its didn't flinch at offering Villalona a club-record $2.1 million bonus. International scouting director Rick Ragazzo first noticed Villalona taking batting practice as a 13-year-old and maintained a close relationship with the family. Villalona developed such a comfort level with the Giants that he reportedly turned down larger offers from other clubs. Agent Scott Boras accused the Giants of circumventing him, but they insist they acted in good faith and Major League Baseball approved the contract. Though Villalona would be a high school sophomore in the United States, he already looks like a man. He combines size and power with athleticism. The ball makes a special sound off his bat and he has 40-plus home run potential. He doesn't need to make square contact to hit the ball a long way. He has good hands and instincts, and his plus arm allows him to make plays on balls hit down the line. Villalona has yet to face pro pitching, and the Giants must resist the temptation to move him too quickly. They're trying to be patient, bringing him to instructional league to introduce him to coaches and to American baseball culture. He'll be a below-average runner once he fills out. Villalona projects as an elite power-hitting prospect, but his arrival is probably at least four years away. It's possible Villalona could start his pro career with low Class Augusta as a 16-year-old, but he'll probably start the season in extended spring training before heading to the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Burriss established himself as a top prospect for the 2006 draft by stealing a Cape Cod League-high 37 bases in 44 games the previous summer. He led the Mid-American Conference with 42 steals last spring, then paced the short-season Northwest League with 35 after signing for $1 million as a supplemental first-round pick. A leadoff hitter in the mold of Luis Castillo, Burriss plays the game with poise and polish. He makes excellent contact and is a threat to reach base on anything in play. One club official wasn't shy about comparing his playmaking abilities to Willie Mays, while another called him Jose Reyes with less power. He has top-of-the-line speed, outstanding range, soft hands and very good instincts. Burriss' arm grades a tick below average, leading to some doubts that he'll stick at shortstop, but his footwork is so good that he seldom fails to make plays. He has very little pop, and pitchers at higher levels may be able to overpower him. A switch-hitter, he's working on a more consistent approach from the left side. Omar Vizquel will be 40 in 2007, and the Giants will need a new shortstop in the near future. That figures to be Burriss, who may skip a level and begin at high Class A in 2007. That would allow fellow 2006 draftee Brian Bocock to play every day at shortstop in low Class A.
The Giants drafted Wilson in the 24th round in 2003, knowing he wouldn't be able to pitch for a year because he had to recover from Tommy John surgery. Four years earlier, San Francisco had taken another Tommy John survivor out of Louisiana State, Kurt Ainsworth. Wilson's first pro season was a disaster, and he admitted he sometimes skated through his rehab work before rededicating himself and dominating the last two years. Wilson's biting 90-mph slider is the best in the system and is reminiscent of Robb Nen's signature pitch. He throws in the mid- to upper 90s with his fastball and hit 98 mph in the big leagues. Quietly intense and armed with a huge water serpent tattooed on his left arm, Wilson has the look of a closer. Fastball command was an issue for Wilson in San Francisco, and it may be partially explained by an oblique strain that kept him from getting into a consistent rhythm. He feeds off adrenaline, which can work against him when he overthrows or tries for a strikeout. He hasn't learned to handle poor outings yet. The Giants prefer an established presence in the ninth inning, so Wilson may have to settle for a setup role this year. If he succeeds there, he could close for San Francisco in 2008.
Frandsen was one of the Giants' most heartwarming stories in 2006. He dedicated himself to making the big leagues to honor his brother D.J., who lost a lifelong battle with cancer in 2004. After he got there, pitching coach Dave Righetti, who was D.J.'s favorite player, quietly insisted that Kevin take his uniform No. 19, which he had worn the number since 1981. Frandsen has marvelous bat control and profiles as a solid No. 2 hitter in the mold of Robby Thompson. He puts the ball in play consistently, uses the whole field and has occasional gap power. His baseball IQ is off the charts and he has plus makeup and maturity. Even when temperatures hit 112 degrees at Triple-A Fresno, he pestered the coaches for extra infield practice. Frandsen knows he must improve his on-base percentage and limit himself to pitches he can drive--a difficult task because he can put almost any pitch into play. He focused on working counts in the Arizona Fall League and had success. While he also played shortstop and third base in Triple-A, his range and arm are merely adequate and limit him to second base. The Giants would like him to polish his bunting skills. By hitting .388 in the Arizona Fall League, Frandsen improved his chances of opening 2007 as San Francisco's second baseman. But the Giants subsequently re-signed Ray Durham, so Frandsen will apprentice in a utility role.
Lewis was a wide receiver at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College and wasn't serious about baseball until he transferred to Southern. His lack of baseball experience showed early in his career, as he needed to repeat levels and struggled with slow starts. But when he arrived as a major league callup in September, Lewis went 3-for-3 as a pinch-hitter and wowed the coaches with his athleticism. The best all-around athlete in the system, Lewis does things on the basepaths the Giants haven't seen from a position prospect since Darren Lewis (no relation). He has the raw skills (bat speed, strength, speed) to hit .300 with 20-25 homers and 30-40 steals annually. He does a good job of recognizing pitches and taking walks. At 26, Lewis is still more about potential than production. He strikes out too much, though he would benefit from swinging at more early count strikes. He doesn't use his speed as well as he could on the bases or in the outfield. He takes poor routes to balls, prompting his move from center field to left last summer. Lewis is ready for a major league role as a spare outfielder, but the Giants want him to play every day to see if he can finally figure things out. There's a good chance he'll return to Triple-A.
A surprise second-round pick in 2003, Schierholtz looked like he might fall into the trap of becoming a power hitter without a position. But he converted from third base to right field in late 2004 and has worked hard on his defense. He struggled at the plate in Double-A in 2006, and it took a Connecticut-record 25-game hitting streak in August to rescue his season. Schierholtz has a bodybuilder's physique and tremendous power. He was a sight to behold in spring training, when his mammoth shots cleared a 100-foot netting and peppered a neighboring apartment complex. He runs well for his size, looks to take the extra base and always hustles. He has a strong outfield arm. He has a clean lefthanded swing, but there's some length to it and Schierholtz struggles with plate discipline. He cut down on his strikeouts last season, but he still doesn't walk nearly enough. A promotion to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, which favors hitters, should help Schierholtz' confidence. If he shows more consistency at the plate, he could compete for a big league starting job in 2008.
Drafted with San Francisco's first pick (second round) in 2004, Martinez-Esteve hasn't been able to stay healthy. He was nagged by injuries during his college career, and he has undergone elective surgeries on his right shoulder and foot as a pro. He made it through just 27 games last season before hyperextending his left shoulder and had surgery to repair a torn labrum in June. Martinez-Esteve is the best pure hitter in the system, with the ability to hit for average and power. Coaches noted that his maturity improved last year and he reported to instructional league having lost almost 20 pounds. Martinez-Esteve might finally be getting the message that he can't DH in the National League. He's putting more effort into improving his defensive skills, though his range, arm and instincts all rate below average in left field. First base remains an option, but only if he's up for the challenge. Martinez-Esteve should be fine for spring training, when he'll make his first appearance in big league camp. Following his lost season, he'll probably return to Double-A, but he could be in the mix for a starting job with the Giants in 2008.
The Giants dodged a bullet when they didn't lose Sadler in the major league Rule 5 draft after the 2005 season. They knew he had a big arm, but he had control problems and is quite a bit shorter than his listed height. Sadler earned a September callup and a roster spot in 2006 by saving 21 games with a 2.43 ERA in the minors. A teammate of Brian Wilson at Louisiana State, Sadler also had Tommy John surgery in college, though his came at Pensacola (Fla.) JC. Sadler throws a two-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 96 mph. It has good, tailing action and locks up righthanders. His curveball also gives them fits, and his changeup has become more consistent during the last two seasons. Sadler still has issues with his control and command. He needs to do a better job of locating his fastball and of getting ahead in the count to set up hitters for his curveball. His mound presence was a concern early in his career but isn't any longer. He continued to dominate in the Arizona Fall League and appears destined for a role in the San Francisco bullpen. If Wilson doesn't claim the Giants' closer job in the future, it could fall to Sadler.
Ishikawa made his major league debut in April and didn't look overmatched at the plate, and he also impressed the coaching staff with his smooth fielding at first base. But he was optioned to Double-A when Lance Niekro returned from the bereavement list and fared so poorly that the Giants didn't bring him back in September. The club signed him to a $955,000 bonus in 2002 to steer him away from Oregon State and expected his line-drive swing to translate into more home runs as he matured physically. Ishikawa has filled out and he has tremendous lower-body strength, but his development with the bat has been erratic and his best tool remains his glove. He regressed a bit with his strike zone discipline, taking too many strikes early in the count and failing to hone his two-strike approach. A move to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should help Ishikawa regain confidence this season.
McBryde missed all but three games in his junior season at Florida Atlantic because of a strained hamstring, but the Giants had heavily scouted him in 2005. They were delighted to snap him up in the fifth round last June and sign him for $180,000. He previously had turned down the Red Sox as a 38th-rounder out of high school. A center fielder and closer for the Owls, he hit .370 in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also threw in the low 90s with a plus curveball, but the Giants kept him in the outfield. He showed off his arm strength by recording eight assists in his first three weeks for Salem-Keizer. The Giants say McBryde is already an above-average major league center fielder defensively, and most consider him the fastest player in an organization with several top sprinters. The organization knows it will have to work hard to make McBryde a legitimate hitter, but he surprised people by staying afloat in the Northwest League in spite of his injury layoff. While not a power-hitting prospect, McBryde is a threat to take extra bases because of his wheels. He'll move up the ladder quickly if he's not overmatched at the plate, and could be pushed as high as high Class A to start the season.
Several high school lefthanders were on the Giants' board in the third round of the 2006 draft, but Tanner was a known commodity and based on their scouting reports the organization believed he had a deep inner drive to match his ability. Tanner grew up a Giants fan, another fact that helped the organization persuade him to sign for $425,000 rather than fulfill his commitment to Pepperdine. Outside of Jonathan Sanchez, Tanner has the highest ceiling of any lefty starter prospect in the system. He throws a plus fastball with late life that tops out at 91 mph, though the Giants believe he'll add velocity as he matures. He worked out at AT&T Park all winter as part of a conditioning program. He competed well against older players in the Northwest League, showing the ability to mix his fastball, curve and slider. He's working on a changeup, which will be essential as he advances. Tanner is probably headed for low Class A, though the Giants had him skip the Arizona League in his debut year and it wouldn't be a shock to see him competing in high Class A before long.
Matos is named for the Egyptian god of the underworld, and he was almost that intimidating in the low Class A South Atlantic League, striking out 81 while walking just 12 in 61 innings. Matos was used as a starter until last season, but he had some arm fatigue and the Giants figured his fearlessness would allow him to blossom in relief. They were right. He doesn't pitch around hitters, relying on his mid-90s fastball and a quick, hard slider that breaks straight down. He can hit 97 mph, but his strength is his ability to work the ladder, throwing a low fastball with good sink and a letter-high ball with rise and carry. The Giants are tutoring him on another offspeed pitch to combat lefties. In spite of his success out of the bullpen, it's too early to pigeonhole Matos as a reliever. His development mirrors that of Russ Ortiz, who went on to a successful career as a starter. Matos finished the season in Double-A, a sign he's on the fast track. He'll probably return to Connecticut to start the season and is a good bet to make his major league debut this year.
Like former Giants prospect Jesse Foppert, Pereira is a University of San Francisco product who jumped onto the radar screen with a strong showing in the college summer Valley League. While he hasn't dominated the minor leagues as Foppert did, Pereira is progressing almost as quickly. The Giants aren't afraid to push college pitchers who match smarts with stuff, and Pereira jumped from high Class A to Triple-A with plenty of the summer to spare. He represented the Giants in the Futures Game but didn't pitch. Pereira reminds some in the organization of Brad Hennessey, a command pitcher with an even temperament who competes well. He struggled at times in Triple-A but impressed coaches with the way he bounced back and made adjustments. He pitches with a fastball at 88-90 mph and can hit 93, but the key is the good sink and run he generates. He's still learning fastball command, but it helps that he can throw his changeup and curveball for strikes and isn't afraid to go to his offspeed stuff when behind in the count. Pereira fields his position well and runs the bases better than many of his position teammates. He's expected to return to Triple-A to open the season and should provide valuable depth to the big league club.
The Giants had high hopes for Sanders after surgery on his right shoulder following the 2005 season. The surgery reversed a procedure he had in high school to tighten his shoulder capsule after he dislocated it in a football game. But Sanders struggled with his arm more than ever last year, leaving his prospect status in serious doubt. Once considered a plus defensive shortstop with some of the best hands in the system, Sanders had to play DH just to get at-bats. For the first time, his shoulder also affected him at the plate and he lost both his ability to make contact and any pop he had in his bat. Sanders was healthy enough to play in instructional league, but he couldn't move to second base because it was too taxing for him to throw across his body. The Giants were planning to seek more medical opinions on Sanders this winter. If he can get past his shoulder issues, he remains a terrific athlete with plus speed, above-average baseball smarts and surprising power. The Giants are hoping he will be ready when full-season affiliates begin play. If so, he'll probably return to high Class A.
Griffin opened the season as one of the most promising arms in the South Atlantic League, and Augusta had one of the most effective pitching staffs in all of minor league baseball. But Griffin turned out to be the exception. He struggled to command his hard fastball and had trouble repeating his delivery in 16 starts before he was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis and a scapular stress reaction in his upper back. Griffin responded to rehab and the Giants were confident he would be 100 percent in the spring. A hulking presence on the mound, Griffin throws a slider and a sweeping curveball to complement a fastball that sits at 91-94 mph and tops out a bit higher. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, and when he dips down it's not by design. He's unsure of himself at times and is more of a thrower right now, but he has shown coaches signs that he's learning how to pitch. Griffin probably needs to develop a changeup to remain a starter, but once he becomes a consistent strike-thrower he'll move quickly. Expect him to start in high Class A this season.
The Giants have been excited about Valdez' arm ever since he arrived in the December 2002 trade that sent Russ Ortiz to the Braves, but a lack of consistency has kept him from breaking through. Valdez appeared to be on the doorstep in spring training, when he blew away hitters with a 99-mph fastball and super-tight slider, but the former top prospect was dropped from the closer role to middle relief in Triple-A and had trouble repeating his delivery or throwing strikes. When it became clear Valdez wasn't ready to help the Giants in the bullpen, he was moved to the rotation in August in the hopes he could iron out his issues by working in three- and four-inning stints. The plan appeared to be working, but Valdez grabbed his arm in the third inning of a start Aug. 27 and had Tommy John surgery a month later. On the day he was injured, Giants officials said Valdez was throwing with the best combination of command and velocity that they had seen in two years. He won't be able to get back on the mound until winter ball at the earliest.
Anderson was the set-up man for Padres prospect Neil Jamison at Long Beach State, but there's no doubt be can handle the pressure that comes with pitching the ninth inning. The southern California native set a high Class A California League record and led the minor leagues with 37 saves last year. He's 56-for-59 in save chances in his pro career, and he saw a little more action under San Jose manager Lenn Sakata in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Sakata probably won't see Anderson again this year. A control artist, he throws an 86-88 mph fastball than hits 90 on occasion and cuts back across the plate, similar to that of Paul Quantrill. Anderson also commands a slider and seldom pitches from behind in the count. Giants coaches like his size and his ability to bounce back--an attribute he doesn't abuse because he often needs so few pitches to record three outs. Anderson had a career highlight when he appeared as the closer for the Cal League all-star team. His set-up man? None other than Jamison. Anderson will move up to Double-A this season and has a chance to contribute at the big league level in September.
Few pitchers in the Giants system have a baseball IQ to match that of Martinez, who was a 15-game winner and the ace of a strong Augusta staff in 2006. Martinez led his Boston College staff in innings and threw four straight complete games before the Giants drafted him, so it's not surprising that he was tired by the time he made his pro debut with Salem- Keizer in 2005. He was competing against younger players in low Class A, but the Giants believe he changes speeds well enough to succeed at higher levels. Martinez competes with a two-seam fastball that sits at 84-88 mph and touches 90, along with a changeup and curveball that he throws for reliable strikes. But his real strength is his ability to add and subtract from his fastball to keep hitters off balance. Like most pitchers on the Augusta staff, Martinez compiled an impressive strikeout-walk ratio. His 11 hit batters showed he's not afraid to pitch inside despite having less than a huge fastball. The Giants compare Martinez to Ryan Vogelsong, whom they used to fetch Jason Schmidt in a 2001 deadline deal with the Pirates. If Martinez isn't used as a trade chip, he's ticketed for high Class A this season.
Not long ago, the Giants considered Schoop the second-best defensive infielder in the organization, behind only Omar Vizquel. But after taking several impressive college shortstops in the 2006 draft, the Giants have no reason to rush the Curacao native up the ladder. They even moved him to second base during instructional league because of arm fatigue. Schoop repeated the Arizona League as a 19-year-old, and while the Giants expected improvement at the plate, they didn't expect him to hit .421 over his first 17 games, including hitting for the cycle in a game. Schoop finished with a .310 average and continued to show advanced plate discipline. He drew 26 walks against 15 strikeouts and his .437 on-base percentage ranked fifth in the league. Still just a teenager, the Giants project he'll hit for power as he continues to mature. The Giants like his hands and lateral quickness, but were puzzled when he started making inaccurate throws across the diamond. Wherever he reports in 2007--likely Salem-Keizer after another stint in extended spring training--Schoop will be missing his best pal. The Giants traded countryman Shairon Martis to the Nationals for Mike Stanton last summer.
The Giants offered Neal $7,000 to sign out of high school in Southern California in 2005, but he went to nearby Riverside Community College instead and boosted his stock with a huge season (.637 slugging and .504 on-base percentage). San Francisco signed him as a draft-and-follow for $220,000. Neal has what the Giants describe as light-tower power and a righthanded swing that has excellent balance. He battled against older competition in his pro debut with Salem-Keizer and didn't get to show his true ability because he dislocated his shoulder on a dive and struggled the rest of the season. Neal is far from a dead-pull hitter. He has power to right-center and has a knack for squaring up strikes, but tends to get overanxious at the plate. He played third base in high school but profiles as a corner outfielder. His range and speed are below average, but he has an above-average arm, which means he'll probably continue to start in right field as he moves through the system. Expect Neal to graduate to low Class A in 2007, along with a host of interesting position players.
Hedrick was invited to major league spring training camp last year but didn't perform well. The Giants felt he lacked focus, so he wasn't assigned when full-season affiliates began the season. After a few weeks, Hedrick reported to high Class A and it didn't take long for him to turn things around. A rare four-pitch reliever, he pitches off a fastball that sits at 88- 90 mph but gets on hitters quicker because of his size and long arms. He has a breaking ball he throws wide like a slurve or tight like a true slider. His other weapon is a splitter that is usually in the dirt but is a good strikeout pitch when he gets ahead. If he throws strikes and keeps his fastball on a downward plane, Hedrick should continue to progress in a relief role. But because he has such a wide assortment of pitches, the Giants haven't ruled out starting him down the road. Hedrick is a good bet to continue up the line with his closer, Brian Anderson, in Double-A this season.
It seems the whole organization is rooting for Threets, a one-time Nuke LaLoosh story who was on the verge of making his major league debut last September. After years of erratic command and injury problems mixed with incendiary stuff--including a fastball that legend holds once hit 104 mph--Threets began throwing strikes in Triple-A. He had a 2.87 ERA in 49 games, kept his fastballs from sailing to the screen and got over a changeup and little cut slider with consistency. The Giants were giddy with his progress. Then he sustained a severe tear in his lat muscle on his throwing side on Aug. 27--the same day Merkin Valdez tore an elbow ligament. While his velocity wasn't in the triple digits, Threets was consistently in the upper 90s last year and was gunned at 97 mph on the day of his injury. He spent the winter rehabbing his side and was expected to be healthy when he reports to spring training. He could be a candidate for the Opening Day roster, but more likely the Giants will want him to repeat Triple-A.
The Giants' top draft choice in 2005 (though not until the fourth round because of draft picks lost as free-agent compensation), Copeland played a full season in low Class A and his performance was in line with expectations. He makes consistent, squared-up contact, which is no surprise for a player who won a Big East Conference batting title, destroyed several Pitt single-season offensive records and was a third-team All-America selection in 2005. He's considered a good athlete and a total package, but none of his tools stands out. He has quick hands and can turn on good fastballs, but he might need to get a little stronger to emerge as a No. 2 hitter in the big leagues. The Giants would also like Copeland to eliminate some of his many fly outs, which aren't a good match for his baserunning skills and instincts. He plays a good, instinctive center field with a playable throwing arm and good range thanks to his above-average speed. Copeland should have little trouble adjusting to high Class A this season.
The Giants suddenly have a stockpile of burners in the middle infield, and Bocock might be the best pure playmaker among them. His defensive skills stood out even as he played alongside 33rd overall pick Emmanuel Burris at Salem-Keizer. Signed for $72,500 as a ninthrounder, Bocock has excellent range, above-average hands and a strong arm that allows him to make plays deep in the hole. His skill set and quiet intensity remind some of former Giants infielder Mike Benjamin, and he had a good showing in instructional league. The Giants expect to take the slow road as Bocock learns to recognize offspeed pitches and develop a consistent approach. He struggled at the plate in his pro debut, over-rotating his shoulder and rolling over a lot of outside pitches. But as one coach said, "If we can make him a .260 hitter, he'll make a lot of money." He has sneaky gap power, but the Giants would be satisfied if he could make more consistent contact, drive balls up the middle and learn to drop a few bunt singles after he heads to a full-season affiliate. He'll probably begin the season in low Class A.
The Giants might have a scout running the concession stand at the Riverside Community College baseball field. Quinowski is one of several players the organization has snapped up from the program, including lefthander Ben Nieto and outfielder Thomas Neal. Like Neal, Quinowski signed as a draft-and-follow and struggled with his command in his pro debut, walking a batter an inning at Salem-Keizer in 2005. But when he arrived at low Class A last year, the Giants worked with him to shorten up a slow delivery and move from a high leg kick to a slide step. The unintended result was a deceptive motion that allows Quinowski to overpower hitters despite a fastball in the mid- to upper 80s. Even the better righthanders in the South Atlantic League had a hard time getting good swings on him. Quinowski also throws a plus changeup and continued to work on his breaking stuff in an assignment to Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he performed well. The Giants are also fond of another lefty reliever they picked up in the 2006 draft, Paul Oseguera, which could make Quinowski expendable in a trade. He's expected to begin in high Class A in 2007.
A perennial member of Giants prospect lists, Ortmeier retains his prospect status because his tools are undeniable. He's switch-hitter with a line-drive swing from both sides of the plate, above-average defense in right or center field, a plus arm and surprising speed for a player his size. Ortmeier made a contribution at the big league level last season, hitting a game-tying pinch-hit single off the Dodgers' Danys Baez in the ninth inning of a game the Giants won 6-5. But he sat for a long stretch before the Giants returned him to Triple-A, and a poor showing there found him back in Double-A with bruised confidence. His lefthanded hitting mechanics were a mess, and pitchers noticed they could take advantage of his long, open stride and his tendency to rotate off pitches. As a result, he saw a lot of fastballs up and breaking balls away. While Ortmeier had a more consistent swing from the right side, he'll need to reestablish himself as a lefty hitter to move back into the Giants' plans. He competes well, always hustles and is one of the most likeable players in the system. He'll probably look for a fresh start in Triple-A this season.
The Giants might restrict Valdez from drinking milk. He was listed at 6-foot-5 when he signed, but club officials say he had grown another inch or two by the time instructional league rolled around last fall. With Valdez' youth and size, the Giants have modest plans for him at present: to find a consistent delivery and repeat it. He had trouble repeating his arm slot during the Arizona League season, and his velocity was all over the board. When he's on his fastball is a plus-plus pitch in the mid-90s with good run and sink. Valdez made steady progress throwing competitive pitches, and he's starting to command a curveball. The Giants see him as a starter, and to that end, they hope to teach him a changeup. But that's probably down the road a bit. For now they want him to focus on the catcher's mitt with what he has. Valdez could be a standout in the Arizona League in 2007, and if he develops quickly could earn a ticket to Salem-Keizer.
Horwitz was batting .324 when the Giants promoted him from high Class A to Double-A in June, spoiling any chance for him to win his third batting title in three pro seasons. But he wasn't complaining, and some in the organization believed that he should have been challenged that way to start the season after hitting .347 in short-season ball in 2004 and .349 in low Class A in 2005. Like many nondrafted free agents, Horwitz must continuarlly prove himself and he continues to do so, hitting at every level with his inside-out swing. He uses every inch between the chalk lines, keeps a consistent approach and has excelled with runners on base. He runs well enough to keep his bat moving up the system, and while he's not a polished left fielder, his arm grades a bit above average. Every manager who has had Horwitz on his team raves about him. He would project a little better if he could play another position. He played some first base last year, but he doesn't have the power to fit the profile there. He got a brief look at Triple-A in 2006 but might have to earn his way back there.
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