San Francisco Giants: Top 10 Prospects

San Francisco Giants

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, 2007.

1.Tim Lincecum, rhp
2.Jonathan Sanchez, lhp
3.Angel Villalona, 3b
4.Emmanuel Burriss, ss
5.Brian Wilson, rhp
6.Kevin Frandsen, 2b
7.Fred Lewis, of
8.Nate Schierholtz, of
9.Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of
10.Billy Sadler, rhp
Best Hitter for AverageEddy Martinez-Esteve
Best Power HitterAngel Villalona1
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineBrian Horwitz
Fastest BaserunnerMike McBryde
Best AthleteFred Lewis
Best FastballTim Lincecum
Best CurveballTim Lincecum
Best SliderBrian Wilson
Best ChangeupJonathan Sanchez
Best ControlAdam Cowart
Best Defensive CatcherJustin Knoedler
Best Defensive InfielderEmmanuel Burriss
Best Infield ArmBrian Bocock
Best Defensive OutfielderClay Timpner
Best Outfield ArmMike McBryde
CatcherEliezer Alfonzo
First BaseTravis Ishikawa
Second BaseKevin Frandsen
Third BaseAngel Villalona
ShortstopEmmanuel Burriss
Left FieldEddy Martinez-Esteve
Center FieldFred Lewis
Right FieldNate Schierholtz
No. 1 StarterMatt Cain
No. 2 StarterTim Lincecum
No. 3 StarterBarry Zito
No. 4 StarterJonathan Sanchez
No. 5 StarterNoah Lowry
CloserBrian Wilson
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Joe Fontenot, rhpOut of baseball
1998Jason Grilli, rhpTigers
1999Jason Grilli, rhpTigers
2000Kurt Ainsworth, rhpDodgers
2001Jerome Williams, rhpAthletics
2002Jerome Williams, rhpAthletics
2003Jesse Foppert, rhpMariners
2004Merkin Valdez, rhpGiants
2005Matt Cain, rhpGiants
2006Matt Cain, rhpGiants
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Jason Grilli, rhpTigers
1998Tony Torcato, ofWhite Sox
1999Kurt Ainsworth, rhpDodgers
2000Boof Bonser, rhpTwins
2001Brad Hennessey, rhpGiants
2002Matt Cain, rhpGiants
2003David Aardsma, rhpCubs
2004Eddy Martinez-Esteve, ofGiants
2005Ben Copeland, of (4th round)Giants
2006Tim Lincecum, rhpGiants
Angel Villalona, 2006$2,100,000
Tim Lincecum, 2006$2,025,000
Jason Grilli, 1997$1,875,000
David Aardsma, 2003$1,425,000
Brad Hennessey, 2001$1,380,000
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San Francisco Giants

A day after the Giants finished with a sub-.500 record for the second consecutive year, general manager Brian Sabean admitted the organization had to change its decade-long plan of surrounding Barry Bonds with older, short-term veterans.

Then San Francisco went out and committed $64 million to six free agents, none younger then 31, before re-signing the 42-year-old Bonds to a one-year, $16 million contract.

Nevertheless, the Giants have started a shift in philosophy, even if it won't be apparent at AT&T Park in 2007.

In August, they paid $2.1 million to sign 16-year-old Dominican third baseman Angel Villalona. That broke the record for a bonus given to an amateur, besting the $2.025 million given to first-round righthander Tim Lincecum two months earlier. The signings were an about-face for an organization that had intentionally sacrificed draft picks and diverted bonus money to the major league payroll in previous years.

While Bonds should be back and taking aim Hank Aaron's all-time home run record--assuming his contract gets finalized in the wake of news regarding Bonds' violation of the league's new ban on amphetamines--owner Peter Magowan has said that Bonds would be a complement and no longer a centerpiece.

The new nucleus of the Giants is their pitching staff. With Jason Schmidt departing for the Dodgers as a free agent, San Francisco broke the bank to bring lefthander Barry Zito in as its ace, signing him to a seven-year, $126 million contract. He'll be backed by Matt Cain, who played all of last season at age 21. Under-recognized amid baseball's hailstorm of spectacular rookies in 2006, he won a team-high 13 games and showed marked improvement in the second half.

San Francisco also expects big things from Lincecum (22), who's on the cusp of making a big league impact in his first full pro season. Noah Lowry (26) and Jonathan Sanchez (24) give the Giants a solid pair of lefty starters.

San Francisco hired manager Bruce Bochy away from the Padres partly because of his track record working with young pitchers and his judicious use of the bullpen. He replaces 71-year-old Felipe Alou, a man held in high esteem but not the right leader for a club that Sabean pledges to make younger and healthier.

Giants minor league affiliates led baseball with a combined .557 winning percentage last season, and how they compiled that record was telling. After years of passing up premium draft choices, there's little talent at the upper levels of the system, and Triple-A Fresno and Double-A Connecticut finished a combined 35 games under .500.

Scouting director Dick Tidrow has a knack for unearthing talented arms in the draft, but in 2006 he found several promising position players. Players like outfielder Mike McBryde (fifth round), middle infielder Brian Bocock (ninth) and catcher Adam Witter (a predraft signee as a fifth-year college senior) teamed with shortstop Emmanuel Burriss (supplemental first round) to help Salem-Keizer win the short-season Northwest League title.

Those hitters won’t arrive in time to help the Giants in 2007. They won't shake the skepticism about whether homegrown players will be given fair chances to sink or swim. Kevin Frandsen, their second baseman of the future, might apprentice in a utility role. No other position prospect is ready to contribute, with the possible exception of Fred Lewis, who could make San Francisco as a fourth outfielder.