Top Ten Prospects: San Francisco Giants
Complete Index of Top 10s
By John Manuel
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2005.
With Barry Bonds still hitting like few humans ever have, San Francisco has chosen to go all out to maximize their opportunity. As one club official said, "Very few clubs can afford to spend at both the top end and the bottom end of the organization," so the Giants have chosen to spend at the top. Bonds can best be helped by major league free agents, not amateurs signed through the draft. Since closer Robb Nen got hurt and missed the last two seasons, the Giants have missed the playoffs. Enter free agent closer Armando Benitez.
San Francisco has focused so much on pitching that it hasn't developed an everyday player since drafting Bill Mueller and Chris Singleton in 1993. So to fill out the lineup around Bonds, the Giants have added free agents Moises Alou (39, son of manager Felipe), catcher Mike Matheny (34) and shortstop Omar Vizquel (37).
Vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow's scouting and player-development staffs are good at finding and cultivating pitching, and San Francisco remains flush in minor league arms even after trading or graduating several. Behind imported ace Jason Schmidt, four homegrown starters will compete for innings in 2005: Jerome Williams and three of the club's first four picks in the 2001 draft, Brad Hennessey, Noah Lowry and Jesse Foppert.
The farm system has more pitching available, starting with elite righthander Matt Cain, who spent half the 2004 season in Double-A at age 19. Power righthanders Merkin Valdez and David Aardsma are ready to help the big league bullpen after appearing briefly with the Giants last year.
San Francisco is making an attempt to address its shortcoming in developing hitters—which becomes all the more evident now that the big league lineup's youngest player is 31-year-old Edgardo Alfonzo, a nine-year big league veteran. New minor league hitting instructor Bob Mariano has some interesting bats to work with.
Tidrow used his first three picks last June on outfielders. Eddy Martinez-Esteve (second round) and Clay Timpner (fourth) finished the summer with San Jose in the high Class A California League playoffs, while John Bowker (third) hit .371 in the lower minors. San Jose's postseason lineup included most of the organization's top hitters, including outfielders Freddy Lewis and Nate Schierholtz and corner infielders Travis Ishikawa and Brian Buscher.
This offseason's free-agent signings have left San Francisco without choices in the first three rounds of the 2005 draft. That doesn’t mean the Giants have given up on their farm system. They'd just rather spend their money on the present than on the future.
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