Here’s how Sickels ranked the top-20 in the Giants’ farm system:
- Angel Villalona, 3B, Grade B+
- Henry Sosa, RHP, Grade B
- Tim Alderson, RHP, Grade B
- Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Grade B- (lack of breaking ball is a caution flag for me)
- Nate Schierholtz, OF, Grade B-
- Nick Noonan, 2B, Grade B-
- Clayton Tanner, LHP, Grade B-
- Eugenio Velez, UT, Grade B- (I probably like him more than I should but he is fun to watch)
- Wendell Fairley, OF, Grade C+ (Grade A tools, Grade D refinement, very risky but possible high reward)
- John Bowker, OF, Grade C+ (sleeper bat)
- Charlie Culberson, INF, Grade C+
- Osiris Matos, RHP, Grade C+
- Wilber Bucardo, RHP, Grade C+
- Jose Capellan, LHP, Grade C+
- Sergio Romo, RHP, Grade C+
- Travis Denker, 2B, Grade C+
- Emmanuel Burriss, SS, Grade C (I have massive doubts about his bat)
- Nick Pereira, RHP, Grade C
- Ben Copeland, OF, Grade C
- Benjamin Snider, LHP, Grade C
Gripes: I think Sickels under-graded Bumgarner, Fairley, Burris, and Snyder (who apparently he didn’t know how to spell his name properly). This past year I’ve become a little disappointed with Sickels because I’ve felt that he’s lacked consistency in his grades and grading system. Truth be told, he’s less of a scout and more of a guy that combs over stats, like me or you could, to rate players. Not to say that I don’t value his opinion on prospects because he’s been doing it for awhile now but he’s not doing anything that you, me, or any other person with an internet connection couldn’t do.
Back to my gripes.
He downgraded Bumgarner for not having a breaking pitch but he could be going off old reports on Bumgarner because it’s doubtful that he’s ever seen Bumgarner throw in real life. A recent interview with Dave McKamey over at McCovey Chronicles had this to say about Bumgarner.
I really like Bumgarner’s clean delivery, which gives him easy velocity and excellent pitch movement. He has two versions of his curveball that are both used effectively, and is advanced for his age. Alderson may have been one of the more polished (high school) pitchers in the 2007 Draft. His command is impeccable and knows how to attack hitters. Despite his gaudy strikeout numbers in the Arizona League, I don’t think he’s going to be a big strikeout pitcher. His arm action isn’t very fluid and wonder if that will affect his stamina long-term.
According to McKamey, Bumgarner has two breaking balls. I personally have no idea who to believe, Sickels or McKamey, but it’s very possible that Sickels is going off an older report on Bumgarner in regards to his breaking stuff. It’s true that his arm delivery makes it harder to stay on top of a breaking ball, but it’s not impossible.
Burris struggled in A+ ball this year but he improved once he stepped back a level. Clearly he’s at least a “C+” in Sickels grading system. I fully understand that his bat has some questions but you can’t tell me he’s as good as Ben Copeland right now. Burris has some flaws — mostly the lack of power — but hitting for power isn’t going to be in his game. He’s got speed, solid defense, and the ability to hit for a high average because of his speed. Decent enough for a shortstop.
The Snyder ranking might be the one I disagree with the most. Fellow Augusta starter, Clayton Tanner, got a B- ranking but I don’t really think that Snyder and Tanner are that much different. Besides age, they are both lefties that top out around 90mph — Tanner might have 1-2mph on Synder but nothing huge to separate them — and won’t blow away hitters. Here’s a quote that I posted on a few forums that I visit about Tanner and Snyder.
I’m not sure why he rated Tanner so highly and Snyder so low, when they are very similar as pitchers. Both left-handed and don’t have super overpowering stuff. Snyder ran out of gas in the HWB but that was after throwing 150 innings in a year, the highest IP for him yet. Tanner keeps the ball on the ground more (GO/AO of 2.11 versus Snyder’s 1.06) but Snyder K’s more guys than Tanner (K/9 of 8.64 to Tanner’s 6.92) Both also pitched on the superb Augusta Green Jackets staff this year. The sticking point with Sickels has to be that Tanner is 2 years younger but Snynder wasn’t ancient either at 21.
From a stuff and performance angle, they are very similiar in my opinion. I definitely think the straight “C” for Snyder is a bit of a low-ball grade. The Giants probably should have moved him up a level in ’07 (probably to A+ ball?) but most likely didn’t want to mess with the Augusta staff which ruined many a hitters day in ’07.
I also think that a “B-” grade for Velez is an over-grade. Velez is a guy that only really has one plus-tool, and that’s his speed. He isn’t a great defender or hitter by any stretch. He’s got some gap power but his speed is still his #1 tool. I would have probably stuck him in the “C+” category.
The Giants farm system is still a work in progress but it’s making steps in the right direction. Hopefully in the 2008 player draft we can pick up a hitter with the #5 pick and continue to reinvest in the farm system. Building up the farm should be a top priority for Sabean because chances are that the Giants are going to need all the help that they can get.