We’ve barely entered the month of May for Giants baseball and I’m finding that more and more my gaze is turning towards minor league boxscores. I’m still enjoying the MLB team with Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, (good) Randy Johnson, and some others but with the Dodgers hot start and the Giants offense still looking like something from the 1910′s, it’s easy to see why a fan of the team might be interested in future — ie: minor league players. The Giants, a team that’s been on the weaker side of farm systems in the recent years, have done an excellent job of rebuilding their minor league stock over the last 2-3 years. Smart drafts, interesting international signings, and some prudent moves have pushed a farm system from the back end of baseball’s minor league talent spectrum to the forefront.
Today, news is out that the Giants have promoted three of their better prospects from A+ San Jose to AA Connecticut. Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson — the system’s two best pitching prospects — make their way to AA and tagging along is 2008 draft pick, SS Brandon Crawford. The Bumgarner and Alderson promotions were expected but it’s slightly surprising to see Crawford get pushed up a level. Though, as a college prospect it’s not shocking.
Crawford has been excellent for San Jose. According to First Inning’s wOBA leaderboard for the California League, Crawford’s wOBA of .440 is good for 5th place in the league. Crawford has hit for power (ISO of .219) and he’s walking some (BB% of 8.4) but he’s also whiffing a good bit (K% of 26.9). His near .500 BABIP is due for some regression as well and it’ll be very interesting to see how he handles the much, much tougher hitting environment of the Eastern League. The Good News ™ for Crawford is that his defense is considered very good and at this point, there aren’t any questions of whether or not he can stick at SS. So, he doesn’t need to hit like a #3 hitter to be a very valuable player at his position. Crawford has immediately become the best SS prospect in the Giants system. AA should be a good opportunity for Crawford to work on his plate discipline. Keep an eye on him.
Something else I noticed while browsing through the California League is that Giants prospect, Thomas Neal, is having a great start to his season. Neal’s wOBA of .451 is 3rd in the Cal League and he’s flashing some power (ISO of .276). Neal has always been a semi-interesting prospect with some power potential but position issues. He’s moved between 1B and the OF where he’ll likely remain. At 21-years-old he’s not overly old for his level, but he could use a promotion this year if he keeps hitting.
For the 7th time this year, the Giants scored 1 run or less in a game when they took a 11-1 loss to the Rockies last night. At 26 games played, the Giants have scored 1 run or less 26.9% of the time this season. Their offense is still in dead last for runs scored (the current number sits at 91 making them the only team under 100 runs scored). Giants first basemen are collectively hitting a .235 wOBA, good for worst 1B production in the majors.
Here’s the Giants rank by position and wOBA for the MLB:
The right-side of the infield is amazingly bad. Neifi Perez (career wOBA of .290) bad. The OF has ranged from average-ish to bad. SS and 3B have been adequate, even a little above average. And C is above-average. The Giants should give Ishikawa and Burriss a little more rope to play with, but don’t be surprised if the team makes a roster move at 1B and 2B in a couple of weeks. This type of production (and offense) is unbearable.
Good news on the bullpen front, Sergio Romo is throwing in extended ST.
Romo has been sidelined since Spring Training with a sprained throwing elbow. But Bochy said that the 26-year-old pitched a game Tuesday without incident in extended spring training at the team’s Scottsdale, Ariz., training complex. Bochy said that after one more outing, Romo likely will report to either Class A San Jose or Triple-A Fresno to pitch and make sure his arm is in shape.
A healthy Romo would be a boost to the bullpen and would most likely knock out someone like Brandon Medders. I’m always concerned when a pitcher has an elbow injury and the Giants should take it slow with him.