Here’s the middle of the pack in our series on the State of the System address: #11-20.
|Jacob Dunnington||RHP||San Jose (Advanced-A)|
|Kelvin Marte||LHP||San Jose|
|Roger Kieschnick||OF||Richmond (AA)|
|Brandon Crawford||SS||San Jose/Richmond/San Francisco/Fresno (AAA)|
|Adam Duvall||3B||Augusta (A)|
|Chris Dominguez||3B||San Jose/Richmond|
|Wendell Fairley||OF||San Jose/Richmond|
|Chris Heston||RHP||San Jose|
From 11-20 it got kinda like a grab bag of prospects. Guys who didn’t do enough to make the top 10 made it in this group, like Kelvin Marte, Roger Kieschnick, Brandon Crawford, Chris Dominguez, Adam Duvall, et. al.
Jacob Dunnington had the reverse fate of some of the guys who played in both Augusta and San Jose this year. He was great in San Jose and had some trouble in Augusta. He’s on the DL now but I haven’t heard anything bad about his injury.
High strikeouts in Augusta is a good sign, but his walks there were high as well–a 53/32 ratio.
He has allowed four runs in 21 innings in San Jose. Three of those runs have come in August. He allowed one unearned run in 11 July appearances.
Dunnington’s success was predicated by a lights-out campaign in the AZL last year: 0.63 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. Not bad from a non-drafted free agent.
Kelvin Marte, Roger Kieschnick, and Chris Dominguez were guys I desperately wanted to be good. So far, they’ve shown me reasons to keep the hope alive. Marte’s numbers are good in some places and bad in others. He has a low strikeout total at 74 over 136 2/3 innings and he has a tendency to get into trouble and then just fall apart.
However, check the innings. Prior to this year, he’d pitched 162 1/3 innings…over his four year career as a pro. Total, 162 1/3. He’s at 136 2/3 now with a few weeks left in the regular season and has by far surpassed any of his previous years in durability. That’s a tremendous improvement. It means he’s healthy and ready to contribute a full season. For Marte, his ranking is based on the hope that he could be better and the proof of increased durability.
Kieschnick belongs in the category with Peguero and Surkamp, although he’s leaning more to the Surkamp side. He busted out as the Cal League rookie of the year in 2009 with 23 homers and 110 RBIs then fell off big time in Richmond last season, lacking power and logging only 223 at-bats due to a mess of injuries.
He’s back this year: 16 homers and 64 RBIs in 446 at-bats. It’s about what I expected in power/RBI numbers for the shift to a higher level although his strikeouts have always concerned me and he hasn’t appeared to do anything to remedy that.
Dominguez was probably one of the most anticipated guys for me coming into 2011. When he was drafted I let my highest pie in the sky fancy fly and I hoped for another Albert Pujols. What I’d read of him backed up my hopes: big bodied corner infielder with enormous power, a cannon for an arm, and good footwork around the bag at third with a likely future at first.
(Disclaimer: I was high on cold meds the week of the 2009 Draft and I barely remember what happened on Day 2 and 3. To this day, I’m still surprised about guys the Giants drafted on those days. So take my lofty aspirations for Dominguez worth a grain of Robitussin.)
Then I saw Dominguez in San Jose and found he was built more like Alex Rodriguez: all leg with powerful thick thighs, where Dominguez generates his power. If only he had A-rod’s glove. Dominguez played horrific defense at third base every time I saw him this year. It was all completely crappy glovework, too. His range is plus and his arm is triple-plus, if there was such a designation. He just couldn’t field a ball worth a damn and I cannot tell you how many times I facepalmed.
Remember how they said Tommy Joseph has light tower power? Dominguez hits absolute bombs. One game in San Jose this year he cleared the batter’s eye in center. He has a quick bat too, which is great. He struck out way too much for my tastes as a Giant and has bad numbers in Richmond. A quick look at his numbers shows he’s on a similar power pace in Double-A as he was with the Giants, plus he’s improved in doubles. I like that. He’s also cut way down on errors, from 32 last year to 19 this year. Another final encouraging note on Dominguez is that he’s stuck at third. Almost all of his starts have been at the hot corner, except for the odd DH start here and there.
Even so, when Dominguez was promoted it was a surprise to me. I didn’t see enough improvement from him to merit a promotion to Double-A. Not that he was bad or doing things wrong, I just didn’t see improvement where I felt he needed it (glovework, taking pitches, things I mentioned).
Mike Kickham came into this year as a blank slate for me, because he made it into three games for the AZL squad last year. He was supposed to be in San Jose this year but a blister problem kept him in extended spring training. So he went to Augusta, where he’s had a rough year (5-8, 4.18 ERA). He’s keeping prospect pace with 95 strikeouts in 99 innings.
I can’t get a good enough read on him but my overall impression is 2011 was a disappointing year with the blister thing and the subpar performance in his first year. I couldn’t keep him out of the top 20, though, due to his high round draft pick and glowing reports of his repertoire. Plus he’s a lefty and good lefties are hard to find. Hell, even so-so lefties are hard to keep around (see: Zito and J. Sanchez going down with injuries).
Adam Duvall is a surprise to me, though you can’t blame the cold meds for that one. I literally asked “who the hell is this guy?” when I saw he was tearing up the Sally League. I covered him in depth in the last prospect mailbag. It’s great to see surprises like Duvall emerge, although looking at his experience, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.
Brandon Crawford was part of the great stories of the 2011 San Francisco Giants. Local kid comes up, hits a grand slam in his first at-bat, makes other key plays. But he can’t hit. The team would rather go with Cabrera the lesser and Jeff Keppinger, aka second rate talent up the middle, and demote Crawford to Fresno. That’s their response to Brandon Crawford not being able to hit. That’s pretty damn dire. They’ve indicated that Crawford is not the answer, so he falls down quite a bit on this list.
Wendell Fairley was another surprise promotion to Richmond, though he has been hitting better than I expected. The power is at zero, however. I still saw his tendency to half-ass outfield defense in San Jose this year. It fills me with rage. I feel like Fairley could be so much better and the only thing stopping him is himself. I decided to put him at #18 because of the promotion. I can see one of two conclusions: the org either believes in him and they want to challenge him, or they told him to pee or get off the pot as a prospect.
Brett Bochy looks great on paper: 43 strikeouts, seven walks, and a 1.39 ERA in 32 1/3 innings. He has become the GreenJackets closer in the last month and has racked up six saves in as many opportunities.
He’s been near unhittable in the last two months and hasn’t allowed a run since June 27. He allowed one hit and one walk in nine innings in July. He kills right-handed hitters, sporting a .127 BAA.
I say “he looks great on paper” because I haven’t seen him throw. He came from the 20th round. I call these selections “nepotism picks” because they usually occur in the later rounds of the Draft and they involve sons or nephews or cousins of someone influential in baseball. I saw a few of these on my watch this past year, with the A’s drafting Scott Boras’ son, for example.
However, Bochy cleaned house in 12 appearances at Kansas in 2010 before he was drafted, striking out 34 batters in 23 innings with a 0.78 ERA and collecting five saves. He had TJ surgery in April of last year.
A year before, Bochy had 54 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings but allowed 21 runs.
Chris Heston has some of the skills I like to see in a starting pitcher. A good strikeouts to walks ratio gets you a long way in my eyes. He had that last year in Augusta at 124/33.
This year he’s 11-4, second on the club in wins and tied for second in innings pitched at 131 2/3. He leads the Giants staff with 117 strikeouts and has 36 walks, keeping up his good pace from last year.
His last two starts have been excellent and he threw a complete game July 24 against Visalia. I can’t recall seeing him pitch this year so specifics on velocity, delivery, repeatable mechanics, etc. aren’t available to me.
Part III is coming at you on Thursday. Tune in tomorrow for the prospect mailbag. Keep sending in your questions for that!