First, big news buzzing in Giants Land this morning. The Giants have made a flurry of draft pick signings. The biggest news is that, according to Andrew Baggarly — whom I feel that I’ve been linking to almost everyday for the past week, keep up the great work Andrew — is that #5 overall pick Buster Posey is on the verge of signing a $7.5M major league deal. With the deadline to sign your draftees on Friday, August 15th, the Giants have been standing on the precipice to get a deal done.
In addition to Buster, the Giants have inked third-rounder OF Roger Kieschnick for $525,000 and fourth-rounder, UCLA SS Brandon Crawford for $375,000. The Crawford signing is good news because before his college season began, many thought he would play himself into the first round, instead, he struggled this year and played himself out of the first round. Rumors were that he was considering going back to school to try and improve his stock. Kieschnick was rated as the best talent coming out of Texas this year by Baseball America. The Giants also signed intriguing 13th-rounder Juan Carlos Perez who set a Division II Junior College record for home runs in a season with 37. He’s had some visa issues and he signed a ’09 contract to give him time to sort them out.
These signings really cap a nice draft by the Giants this year. I like what the Giants did in the draft, taking a guy they really liked in Posey — who could have been a #1 pick overall — and going with some higher ceiling guys in Kieschnick and Crawford and getting a really polished hitter in Conor Gillaspie — who’s already signed and is playing for the AZL Giants. The Giants loaded up on hitting on the first day, taking 4 hitters with their first 4 picks and jumped into the pitchers on the 2nd day, finding some nice talent in the later rounds.
With these signings, here’s how I would sketch out the Top 10 Giants Prospects:
1. LHP Madison Bumgarner – Has dominated A-ball in Augusta. Plus velocity from the left-side, pinpoint control, and a developing slurvy breaking pitch. One of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
2. C Buster Posey – Everyone knows what he did in his junior year at Florida State; he hit: (.463/.566/.879) with 26 HR’s. A Golden Spikes winner, Posey is very athletic and entered college as a shortstop. Some question how well his power will translate — most see him as more of a 10-15 HR guy than 20+ HR guy — to the majors, but he’s one of the “safest” picks in the ’08 draft in terms of reaching a sustainable ceiling.
3. RHP Tim Alderson – Tim 2.0 has responded extremely well to the challenge the Giants set forth to him; skipping a high school draftee straight to the California League is something you don’t often see. Watching him survive a hitters league and flourish is also out of the ordinary. But, the Giants were very impressed with the polish that Alderson had coming out of high school. He leads the Cal League in FIP at the age of 19 and is third in K%.
4. 1B Angel Villalona - Lots of power and still very, very young. He just turned 18 and has been competing for most of the year as a 17-year-old in the South Atlantic League where the average age of the competition is 21-years-old. He’s striking out a good bit, K% of 24.8, but scouts still love where he’s at in his development. Leads the Greenjackets in HR’s.
5. 1B/C Pablo Sandoval - Out of any Giants prospect, Pablo may have taken the biggest step forward this year. He carried his power surge from San Jose in ’07 over into this year, posting ISOP’s of .200 or greater across two levels of A and AA baseball. He’s a switch-hitter and can handle both 1B and catching duties. For a system that’s lacked hitters near the upper-levels, Pablo has been a diamond in the rough. He should make his debut tonight against the Astros.
6. 3B Conor Gillaspie – Currently in the AZL, Gillaspie profiles as a solid contact hitting 3B. He probably won’t develop much power but he should hit and hit a lot of doubles. The Giants have had talks about moving him to 2B, but the system is thinner at 3B, so he’ll probably get every chance to play himself out of that position.
7. 2B Nick Noonan - I’m not thrilled with Noonan’s microscopic walk rate, his BB% is currently at 3.7%, but it’s his first full-season of pro-ball outside of high school, so he gets a little slack. He would benefit from cutting his K’s down, his K% is currently at 18.4%, but he still profiles as a 2B that can hit a little and run a little. There are a couple of things I don’t like about Noonan, but I can chalk it up to “he’s still young” for now.
8. RHP Henry Sosa - Sosa has battled some injury problems this year, his season was delayed from knee surgery but when he’s right the tall lanky pitcher works in the mid-90′s and has a plus curveball. His K% is strong at 24% and I still love his arm. I think he’s a prospect that you can’t really judge by his performance this year but by the overall package.
9. OF Wendell Fairley - Fairley might have the highest ceiling of any Giants prospect currently in the farm system. His start was delayed this year because of some health issues but he’s finally getting regular playing time in the AZL. His batting line of: ( .241/.371/.324) isn’t dominating, but he’s getting playing time to develop and that’s the most important thing.
10. OF Rafael Rodriguez - An international signing from this year, Rodriguez became the highest paid international talent that the Giants have ever signed. The 16-year-old inked a deal for $2.55M, surpassing the $2.1M that Villalona got in ’06. The reports on him are vague, he’s got great raw power, but his hitting mechanics need work. He should be a strong fielder in a corner OF spot, sporting a strong throwing arm and good speed to cover ground. He’s had comparisons to Dave Winfield and Vlad, which both should be taken with grains ‘o salt. The Giants hope that Rodriguez can see a little time in the AZL this year and he’ll start ’09 as his first full pro-season.
Just missed: Nate Schierholtz, Roger Kieschnick, Brandon Crawford, Jesse English, Travis Ishikawa, Kevin Pucetas, Ben Snyder, Clayton Tanner, and Joe Martinez.
I think it’s interesting to note that in my Top-10, the Giants have 7 hitters and 3 pitchers. For a pitching heavy team, the hitting is a welcome change.
I did get around to watching the Giants play the Astros last night, mostly because I wanted to see Rholinger play, but what an ugly game it turned out to be. The Giants ended up falling completely apart in the 6th inning. Zito was cruising along until the aforementioned inning of doom. It looked like this:
|T Wigginton reached on infield single to shortstop.||1||0|
|M Loretta walked, T Wigginton to second.||1||0|
|M Tejada singled to center, T Wigginton to third, M Loretta to second.||1||0|
|L Berkman walked, T Wigginton scored, M Loretta to third, M Tejada to second.||1||1|
|G Blum hit sacrifice fly to left, M Loretta scored, M Tejada to third, L Berkman to second.||1||2|
|H Pence intentionally walked.||1||2|
|R Abercrombie hit sacrifice fly to center, M Tejada scored.||1||3|
|H Quintero hit by pitch, L Berkman to third, H Pence to second.||1||3|
|R Wolf walked, L Berkman scored, H Pence to third, H Quintero to second.||1||4|
|B Sadler relieved B Zito.||1||4|
|E Velez at second base.||1||4|
|T Wigginton hit by pitch, H Pence scored, H Quintero to third, R Wolf to second.||1||5|
|M Loretta hit by pitch, H Quintero scored, R Wolf to third, T Wigginton to second.||1||6|
|M Tejada flied out to right.||1||6|
It was maybe one of the sloppiest, ugliest innings of baseball that I’ve seen in awhile. A combination of bad luck — Wiggington was called safe when he was actually out by a half-step on a nice play by Omar — and poor execution — walks, HBP’s, and poor throwing decisions — sunk the Giants. Maybe the most criminal was when Zito walked the opposing pitcher, Randy Wolf, with the bases loaded to force in a run. If you’ve read any Zito quotes in the papers this year, can you guess what he said about that at-bat? I’ll give you a good 5 minutes to think of all the possible responses that Zito might have used. OK, have you got them? Let’s see what he actually said:
Zito had little to say about his final self-destructive act, which was walking Wolf.
“I just lost my aggressiveness,” he said. Against a pitcher batting .140? “I don’t know. I just did,” he said.
The ‘ole not-being-aggressive-enough-excuse, huh? Who else saw that coming? Surely not me. Sadler then came in for Zito and proceeded to throw gas on the fire when he hit two batters with the bases loaded to force in another two runs.
Zito’s final line of the night was:
5.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 6 SO
Once again, walks killed Zito. With the loss, Zito drops to 6-15 and is only 3 losses away from challenging the modern record for most losses by a Giants pitcher in a season, currently held by Ray Sadecki for his 1968 season in which he went 12-18. Sadecki’s ERA+ for that season was 103, indicating that he wasn’t actually all that bad. Another reason why W/L records aren’t a good way to judge pitchers. But, Zito’s ERA+ this year is 75, indicating that he probably deserves his poor record.
Rohlinger looked decent, he airmailed his very first throw to 1st base on the night and made another fielding error in the bottom of the 7th. Maybe nerves? He did make some decent contact a couple of times, hitting an RBI double down the RF line in the 7th inning. I’ll be watching to see how Rohlinger does for the rest of the year along with Ishikawa and Pablo.
Comment Starter: What’s your Top-10 look like?