Hold onto your straw hats and barstools, it’s time for our part two of our Top Prospect List. Today’s post tackles the #10 through #6 spots in the Giants farm system.
10. Eric Surkamp, SP 23 years old in 2011
Chris Quick: Eric Surkamp has excelled since the Giants drafted him in the 6th round of the 2008 Player Draft. Surkamp is a 6’4″, 200-ish pound, left-handed starter with a developing fastball (most reports indicate that it’s in the high-80s to low-90s) and a top-notch curveball. Baseball America dubbed Surkamp’s curveball the best in the system in their 2010 prospect ranking. Over the past 2 years, among SP with at least 100 IP, Surkamp has led all Giants’ minor league pitchers in K/9 (11.6 in ’09 and 9.6 in ’10) both years. He posted a K/BB rate of 4.33 in 2009 and 4.91 in 2010. Simply put: He strikes out batters, throw strikes, and has done very well. The injury is a tad concerning, but it’s hard to knock Surkamp. His raw stuff might now ‘wow’ you. But, the results have been beyond outstanding.
Otis Anderson: Hey, if we don’t overrate Eric Surkamp, who will? He’s certainly got some excellent numbers. In a season abbreviated by injury, he put up the best starting pitcher FIP in the Cal League. He doesn’t throw hard, but Baseball America had him sitting at an acceptable range for a lefty starter before he went down with a hip injury. Hip injuries are tough for pitchers (ask Justin Duchscherer), so that’s another thing for him to overcome.
9. Jorge Bucardo, SP 21 years old in 2011
CQ: Bucardo is a righty strike-thrower (career BB/9 of 2.4) that pitches from a variety of arm angles (check out his Google Image Search) and gets groundballs. He’s a little like Surkamp in the fact that his pure stuff isn’t exceptional, but at 21-years-old it’s possible that he’s still developing/learning how to pitch. His K/9 of 7.1 across 2 levels in 2010 (Augusta and San Jose) could spell trouble for his future if he can’t miss more bats. I think it’s worth noting that Bucardo struggled in his promotion to San Jose (38.2 IP, 19 ER, 4.42 ERA). It could have been fatigue-related as Bucardo started 25 games in 2010 (previous career high 15 GS) and nearly doubled his career high for innings pitched in a season.
OA: Man, do I love Bucardo’s GIS. Having a pitcher be able to throw (and throw strikes) from multiple arm angles is one of my favorite pieces of player ephemera, the way that laying down a good bunt is to some people. But you’ve gotta have other stuff to go along with the ephemera and to me Bucardo is 2/3 of the way there. He’s so ridiculously good at hitting the strike zone and keeping the ball in the park that it would really be a shame if he didn’t develop the ability to get some K’s. He’ll need a little more in that department to even be a reliever.
8. Ehire Adrianza, SS 21 years old in 2011
CQ: Ehire is your classic ‘great glove, questionable bat, young guy’ type of player. In that sense, he’s a little like a younger Brandon Crawford. Both shortstops have been praised for their defensive skills. On the other hand, their hitting still needs polish. With Ehire it’s not the trouble of strikeouts, he’s shown a decent ability to make contact and take a walk, but rather whether or not he’ll ever be anything more than a singles hitter. He posted an ISO of .092 in the California League last season. Unlike Crawford, Ehire’s youth is a major-plus as there’s a chance that he’s still growing into his slight frame (BB-Ref has him listed at 6’1″, 165lbs) and there’s probably a little projection left in him. His defense is the tool that will get him to the majors — if it happens.
OA: It’s natural to compare Ehire to Crawford. Neither can hit a lick, though, as Chris points out, they fail to hit in completely different ways. The advantage that Adrianza has that he is not hitting guys that are quite a bit older than him, as he was 20 years old at the start of this season. That’s almost three years younger than the California league average. His defense isn’t quite a finished product yet. But like Hector Sanchez, he’s good at the stuff that’s hard to learn (agility and range) and bad at the stuff that has some projection to it. His defense has also improved a lot from his lapse ridden run in Augusta. Did I mention that Adrianza’s twitter account consists of a countdown until spring training? Because that’s pretty awesome.
7. Tommy Joseph, C/1B 19 years old in 2011
CQ: On the surface of things, Joseph’s 2010 batting line (.236/.290/.401) in Augusta appears totally disappointing. Yet, I can’t shake the ‘Man, this guy was young!’ feeling when it comes to Tommy. The young Joseph was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft and as a pre-draft player his power was his calling card. Joseph slugged 16 home runs in Augusta and his ISO of .165 compared to the league average .121 speaks to his ability to hit the ball for power. He played the year as an 18-year-old in a league with the average hitter age of 21.6 years. His plate approach needs work (26 walks, 116 strikeouts) and it’s the kind of thing the Giants should be helping him on. Defensively he’s a mixed bag behind the plate. Keith Law stated that he’s ‘adequate’ as a receiver with a ‘strong’ throwing arm. He’ll probably never be an above-average defensive catcher, but he could turn out, in a best case scenario, as a below-average defender with power behind the plate. That’s a valuable commodity to have.
OA: Joseph has three things going for him, power, position and time. Hopefully time won’t remove position from his advantages, but he’ll need it to develop more strikezone control. If he has to move off of catcher for good, there’s still the possibility of his bat playing at first, but that would mean he’s got more development to do at the plate. I think that as long as someone with a scouting background and a functioning neocortex thinks that he can stick at catcher, his upside remains as high as anyone else in the minor league system
6. Jarrett Parker, CF 22 years old in 2011
CQ: The Giants picked up Parker out of the University of Virginia with their 2nd pick (2nd round, #74 overall) in the 2010 Player Draft. Parker provides plus-speed, good defense in CF, and some power potential. He struggled with making contact in college ball and questions remain if he’ll ever be able to hit with wood. You could stamp the TOOLSY tag on him if you wanted. If the Giants can help Parker fine-tune his swing (much like they did with Brandon Belt) he could be a fast mover. For me, draft position and his already solid defensive package make Parker the #6 prospect in the Giants system.
OA: What do you think of when you hear the words “polished college hitter”? I think of a guy with moderate power and good contact skills, who probably plays a corner position. Somebody who’s pretty close to his ceiling already, but a good bet to provide a few useful seasons. Well, Jarrett Parker is a great example of not that guy. In fact, it seems to me that the Giants find quite a few toolsy whiff monsters when they take college hitters, and Parker is one of those. His swing is pretty loopy and I’m sure the reason the Giants took him is because the believe they can fix it. If they do, they have a nice asset.
As always, discussion is encouraged. Fire away!