Hey, all. I’m back with another prospect mailbag.
This week has been god awful for those following the Giants. I moved into my new apartment not too long ago and I’m glad I don’t yet have cable hooked up because if I had to watch the Giants right now, I’d drive off the overpass.
Instead we will discuss two young hitters in the system: Fresno first baseman/second baseman Brett Pill, and Augusta third baseman Adam Duvall.
Kevin McDonald asked via email about Pill and compared his 2009 Eastern League year and his 2011 Pacific Coast League year to his 2010 PCL campaign; that is, 2009 and 2011 were good, 2010 was not.
Kevin was ahead of the topical times. I received that email about a week ago, days before my Twitter feed exploded with queries on Pill and why he wasn’t being recalled to save the Giants offense.
Pill stopped being a prospect a while ago. There are guys in the Giants system who were uniquely claimed by me and by my colleague Kevin Cunningham, who taught me most of what I know about covering minor league baseball. Pill was one of Kevin C’s guys. Pill broke out with a good year in Class A Augusta in 2007, showing power and the ability to hit. One thing he steadily increased as he advanced through the system was his ability to draw walks. While that skill never became a selling point for him, it increased and it left me with hope.
Then came the 2009 EL season that Kevin M mentioned: 19 homers, 109 RBIs, and a .348 OBP, his best of any season including this year’s .342 mark. He also smacked doubles around the field, something he’s done well in every full season he’s had.
2010 wasn’t necessarily bad for Pill. That year he had 16 home runs, 84 RBIs, and greatly reduced his strikeouts. His OBP suffered but he proved he was once again the doubles king. That year killed the momentum he had as a prospect, however, and put him as a repeat performer in Fresno for 2011.
This season Pill is one of two players in MiLB who has over 100 RBIs. The other is Modesto Nuts third baseman Nolan Arenado, whom I interviewed earlier this year for the Cal League notebook. Go on, read it: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110503&content_id=18574322&vkey=news_l110&fext=.jsp&sid=l110
I picked Arenado for an interview with the hopes that he’d bust out and make me look like a prospect picking hero. I like being right.
Anyway, Pill also exploded with power and is sitting near the top of the PCL home run leaderboard. Look at the other names there: Cody Ransom, Mat Gamel, Wily Mo Pena, Chris Davis. Mike Jacobs is also in the mix with 23. Yuck. It’s a whos-who of never-was prospects. At least there’s guys like Tacoma’s Alex Liddi and Trayvon Robinson, who are actual prospects.
It’s more of the same for Pill. He’s not a prospect anymore, but he’s a decent hitter. He was outrighted off the 40 man roster in November, signaling the end of his prospect aspirations.
I could see Pill hanging around pro ball. Remember Scott McClain a few years ago? The minors career RBI king finally got his chance with the Giants in September 2008 and he hit his first career Major League homer with the club. Pill could have the same career as McClain. While he’s not a prospect anymore, he’d still get paid to play baseball. I’d take that job in a minute.
Over on BCB, Lyle asked:
What can you tell us about Adam Duvall? What kind of hitter does he appear to be? What might his best defensive position be? Does he seem too old for his league to you? And with which current or former major-leaguer might we reasonably compare him?
Lyle asked this question while Duvall was on the DL. The third baseman has since returned and resumed his team leading power pace. He’s over the hamstring injury that sidelined him from July 21-August 11.
When I saw this cat raking in the South Atlantic League I about fell out of my chair. His 2010 year in short-season Salem Keizer should have prepared me for a big 2011 campaign. He showed encouraging power in 192 at-bats.
What I like most about Duvall is his ability to balance walks and strikeouts this year. He’s at 52 walks to 83 strikeouts. His OBP is at .385 and he has 26 doubles. I think there might be too much hype about the 20 home runs, though of the top power hitters in the Sally League, Duvall has one of the best walk rates. If he was a top home run hitter and he had a ton of strikeouts we wouldn’t even be talking about him.
I haven’t seen him play in person. I do my best assessment of guys when I can watch them. All I can tell right now is he’s avoiding the main pitfall of young power hitters because he isn’t striking out a million times a season. I like that.
Last year he played about two-thirds of his time at third and split the rest of the time between second and DH and made eight errors in 54 games. This year he’s been the main man at third for the GreenJackets, with 326 of his 370 at-bats at the position. He has 25 errors all at third. It’s not Charlie Culberson territory, when Culberson was clanktastic in both his Sally League seasons in 2008 and 2009. I tend to expect (and to a point, forgive) higher error totals from second and third baseman and shortstops.
All that means is I’ll be watching Duvall for possible defensive problems and for plate discipline in 2012 when he’s likely in San Jose.
As for Duvall’s age per the league, as I said before I don’t subscribe to it as much as others do. When it comes to college guys, I value their experience more than looking at a soon to be 23-year-old like Duvall and saying “too old, kthxbye.”
Duvall played two full seasons with Louisville in 2009 and 2010. He’s also listed as having 20 at-bats in Western Kentucky in 2007 and he played the 2008 season at Chipola College, a junior college in Florida that’s well known for its baseball team. Again with the topical appeal: Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was on the 2001 squad.
Anyway, Duvall had a .444 OBP and hit nine home runs with 37 RBIs in 151 at-bats for the 2008 team.
He has a lot of experience. Knowing that, I would have liked to have seen him in San Jose to start the year, but I know that was next to impossible with Chris Dominguez getting the nod there as the better prospect.
A comp for Duvall at this point is really difficult for me to determine. Because I haven’t seen him play in person, I can’t get a really good mental picture of what kind of ballplayer he is. I promise you I will address that question when I see him next year.
Great questions, guys! Please keep them coming. You have three ways of passing along your questions: here on the blog in the comments section, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or on Twitter (chelmrtz). See you next week!