Baseball America has just recently released their Top-10 Prospects list for the Giants. You can find it here.
Here’s what the list looks like:
1. Angel Villalona, 3b
2. Tim Alderson, rhp
3. Madison Bumgarner, lhp
4. Nate Schierholtz, of
5. Henry Sosa, rhp
6. Nick Noonan, 2b/ss
7. Eugenio Velez, of/2b
8. Wendell Fairley, of
9. John Bowker, of
10. Emmanuel Burriss, ss
It’s no shock that Angel is the #1 prospect according to BA, he’s got the potential to be the first impact bat the Giants have developed since Will Clark. No pressure, kid. Looking at the list, it’s really apparent how much the 2007 draft has helped the Giants farm system. 4 of the top 10 players listed are from that draft (Alderson, Bumgarner, Noonan, and Fairely). Another odd thing about this particular list is that the usual pitching-heavy Giants have only 3 pitchers in the top-10 compared to 7 position players.
I don’t have many arguments with the list. I think Velez is a little high, I’m not convinced that he’ll hit enough in the majors to be more than a pinch-runner but some scouts love his package of speed and gap power. His ceiling seems to range between Chone Figgins and a bench player, I’m not sure that he’ll ever be as useful as Figgins has been but I would love for him to develop into a Figgins-lite. Burris is another guy on the list who confuses me. He’s never going to hit for power but BA dubbed him as the “fastest runner” in the organization. He’s smooth enough with the glove that he should be able to stick at shortstop but his 2007 was a tale of two seasons. He started this year in A+ San Jose but struggled and was sent back to A-ball in Augusta and had a pretty nice season hitting (.321/.374/.381) and stealing 51 bases out of 66 attempts. He’ll turn 23 in January and the Giants have to hope that he’ll be able to conquer A+ ball next year and maybe even move into AA, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he just held his own in A+ next year.
John Bowker made his name relevant again with a terrific 2007 in the Eastern League, notorious for being tough on hitters. The Giants are stacked with outfielders on the current major league roster so the team might not rush him to the big leagues. I could see them leaving him in AAA for the year and hope that he continues to hit the ball like he did in ’07. I think one of the more intriguing guys on this list is Wendell Fairley. He’s going to be a very raw player to begin with because he got into baseball lately but scouts love his terrific batspeed and he’s good enough defensively, arm-wise and glove-wise, to play in center field. He could hit some bumps initially but he could also take off, no one is really sure what he’s gong to do yet but his athleticism is huge.
Looking outside of the top-10, I think the Giants have a large amount of potential relief talent. Guys like Sergio Romo, Steve Edlefsen, Adam Cowart, Jessie English, Billy Sadler, Erick Threets, Kevlin Pichardo, and Brian Anderson could all find their way into the bullpen in 1-2 years. You’ve also got some mid-to-back of the rotation talent like Clayton Tanner, Kevin Pucetas, Ben Snyder, Nick Pereira, Joe Martinez, and Paul Oseguera that might come into play in a couple of years. Don’t let the top-10 list fool you, the Giants are still a very pitching-centric farm system.
The farm system still isn’t a top-15 system but I think it’s moving in the right direction. For 2007 BA ranked the Giants system as the 20th best in baseball, mostly on the ability to count Lincecum as a prospect before he shot to the majors, and I could see the system taking a few baby steps forward by the next ranking. Having the #5 pick in the 2008 draft will help the cause as well.
Non-Tender Rumors: The Giants and Marlins are rumored to be looking at former Angels prospect 1B/3B Dallas McPherson. The 27-year-old McPherson has always had power potential (he’s slugged 108 HR’s in his minor league career) but he’s had injury troubles and his minor league success has never translated to the big leagues. He’s coming off back surgery, but if he’s healthy he could be an intriguing option for the Giants who still have major openings at both 1B and 3B. I’d still like to see the Giants “kick the tires” on Morgan Ensberg, who the Padres non-tendered.