Subtitle: you want catchers? We got catchers.
10. Hector Sanchez, C 22 years old in 2012
Chris Quick: The Giants’ system seems to have stocked up on catching talent in a hurry. Sanchez is still quite young and he does a little bit of everything well (hitting, fielding, throwing). He might not have the upside of some other catching prospects in the system, but there is a good chance we’ll see him (again) in the majors in 2012.
Rory Paap: Strangely, three of the four writers here at Bay City Ball had Sanchez as the tenth-best prospect in the Giants’ system. Otis had him at six, and the more I think about it, the more I think Otis might have been closer to the mark.
Sanchez made it to majors–albeit for just a bit and without much playing time–in his 21-year-old season. That’s pretty impressive, especially for a catcher. He’s a very good backstop defensively, hits from both sides and has shown an ability to get on base throughout his career in the minors. If the Giants didn’t want to give him more time in the minors to help him realize his full potential, Eli Whiteside probably doesn’t get a major league deal; Sanchez is a better option behind Posey now. That’s not saying Whiteside deserved a big league deal either way, though.
Otis Anderson: While I enjoyed getting a chance to watch Sanchez in the majors last year, I was a little puzzled by his promotion. He had found a nice power stroke in San Jose for a little under a half season, and apparently that was enough for the normally conservative Giants to decide he was done with the lower minors.
Considering any catcher who can hit lefty gets a automatic membership in the International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers, Sanchez seems like a lock to see some big league playing time. He’s certainly an option to backup Posey this year, but I would worry that this could stall his (admittedly quite bizarre) hitting development.
Chris Martinez: Hector Sanchez suffers from being a catcher in this system. He’s solid defensively and can hit, although I think he’s behind Joseph as a hitter. They’re probably even defensively. Sanchez’s main problem is he hasn’t played anything other than catcher in quite some time. I recall him playing some first base early in his career, back in the DSL and AZL. If Joseph has trouble for being stuck behind Posey and now with Susac in the picture, Sanchez has a lot of trouble. However, he’s more experienced than Joseph and will likely be the Grizzlies’ everyday catcher in 2012. Think about how great that will be: three pretty damn good catching prospects starting at three of the four full-season affiliates.
9. Ehire Adrianza, SS 22 years old in 2012
CQ: I could be the biggest Ehire booster on BCB. In general, the quality of the shortstop position seems low right now (both in the majors and minors) and Ehire does some things quite well; he’s patient (10.6% career walk-rate); he’s an above-average defender at SS; and, at 22-years-old in 2012 he’s still young. He’s not much of a hitter (career .690 OPS in the minors) but with his other tools, he can be an asset in the majors if he can hang around a .700 OPS, and his time in San Jose (.845 OPS, 262 PAs) hints at, hopefully, some maturation on offense.
RP: If Chris-Q has the biggest crush on Adrianza, consider me a close second. My adoration for Ehire has to do with all the reasons Chris already noted: The keystone is turning into the position it was in the pre-steroid era, a glove-first position with little offensive contribution. A-Rods and Cal Ripkens aren’t exactly growing on trees.
He’s also young, athletic, gets on base and plays his position with great skill. If Adrianza can put on a little bit of muscle definition and improve his bat to the point that he’s not a complete offense-suck, he’ll be at least a serviceable shortstop in the major leagues. I mean, the only shortstops in the big leagues with real hitting upside are total… well, have you seen what Hanley Ramirez and Starlin Castro have been up to lately? Another (Jose Reyes) comes at greater than $100 million and with an extraordinary risk of injury.
OA: I’m somewhere in the middle on Adrianza. On one hand, hitting at shortstop has a pretty low bar to clear. On the other, he hasn’t really cleared it yet. The Giants lack of depth in the middle infield may be a mixed blessing for Adrianza, who may get his shot sooner than expected (or sooner than would be best for him).
CM: Ehire Adrianza is my white whale. Or something. It’s well known that I’m hard on him as a prospect. He showed me below average defense at times and a lot of lackluster at-bats in San Jose. His steals also fell way off, which was another selling point to his game. I’m also not sold on the idea that he’s young and has room to improve. He’s been in the system for six years now and been riding solely on his defensive abilities. I’d love to see him break out in Double-A this spring, but Richmond takes the good prospects to school. I really would be surprised if he improved there next year.
8. Francisco Peguero, OF 24 years old in 2012
CQ: Francisco Peguero has loads of tools (hitting ability, running, throwing arm, emerging power) but the man does-not-walk, ever. Peguero owns a career 3.6% walk-rate in the minors and he seemed to get even more aggressive in AA Richmond last year. He battled a knee injury in 2011, but Peguero’s high-upside will keep him glued to many prospect lists. He might have the widest range of potential outcomes of any prospect on the Top 15.
OA: All he needs to do is just take a goddamn walk every once in a while, and he would be a top prospect. He’s walked 80 times as a professional. With 2106 plate appearances, that’s less frequently than Pablo Sandoval did in his minor league career.
RP: Francisco “Tools” Peguero probably would have appeared higher on our list if not for me, which is sort of odd to say out loud because I’ve been a big fan of the outfielder ever since watching him rather impressively help the 2009 San Jose Giants win the clinching game for the Cal League championship along with Eric Surkamp. Both players had been promoted from the Sally League for the playoffs and factored heavily in the deciding game.
Part of me loves Pequero and part of me gets extremely irritated by him. If he could develop any patience at all–the sixth (yet vital) tool not mentioned in the elusive five-tool player basket–he could be a star, as he has the main five in spades. If he doesn’t hit at least .300 at the major league level, he’s just not going to be very useful.
CM: Francisco Peguero is hanging around as a prospect even after a so-so year. I like him as a prospect because he’s had to fight through injuries the last few years and he’s done well when he’s healthy. He doesn’t walk and his power dropped a lot in Richmond, so he will need an even better year in Fresno this season to stay on the list.
7. Kyle Crick, SP 19 years old in 2012
CQ: If you had to build a template for a high upside high school arm, Crick would be your man. Physically, he’s a big kid coming in at 6’3″ and 225 lbs. Stuff-wise, he features a low-90s fastball, a mid-70s curve that’s a plus pitch at times, and an occasional above-average slider. He’s new to pitching (he mostly played first base during his junior year of HS) but the Giants should be salivating to work with Crick.
RP: You have to agree that the Giants have been extremely successful with their early-round drafting of high school pitchers or else you haven’t been paying attention to how great Matt Cain is and Madison Bumgarner will be. Dick Tidrow has done wonders with them, even ironing them out when they had their valleys like Bumgarner did in late 2009 and early 2010. Given that, there are lots of reasons to like Crick.
It’s true the Giants moved on from another top high school pick, Zack Wheeler, in 2011 for a July playoff push, but I don’t think it was for lack of imagination on what he might become. In Crick, the Giants have another high school arm that projects very well and they seem to like quite a lot. What’s more, he was a really nice pickup where they were able to draft him. I’ll be anxious to see what he can do in the Sally League.
OA: Can you even remember the last time the Giants spent a upper round pick on a pitcher that they didn’t manage to either trade for a major league piece or develop into a major contributor? The third round pick on Clayton Tanner in 2006 is probably it. The Giants have earned an awful lot of credibility when it comes to players like Crick.
CM: I am very cautious with high school players in general, but it seems that I’m even more so with the pitchers. Once upon a time, Madison Bumgarner was seen as a disastrous pick. I acquiesced to it quite reluctantly. Bumgarner grew into a fine pitcher, so it turned out okay. With Crick, I have little to nothing to go on. The Giants had to do something to replace the departed Wheeler and Jonathan Sanchez and inject some pitching hope into the system, so enter Crick. He blew up a bit towards the end of his season, but did well in the limited time he saw in the AZL. He’s likely an extended spring training case with a 2012 debut in the AZL when he’s ready.
6. Andrew Susac, C 22 years old in 2012
CQ: Susac has yet to start his pro career, but he ranks highly in the Giants’ system on skills alone. He profiles as an athletic catcher with above-average power. Some thought, due to positional scarcity, Susac could go as high as the first round in the 2011 First Year Player Draft. The Giants should be thrilled to have picked him up in the second round with the 86th overall pick.
RP: With a top-tier catcher in Buster Posey in The City, Joseph and Sanchez on farm and the addition of Susac–the best catcher available in this year’s draft–making his pro debut in 2012, the Giants suddenly have quality catchers falling out of their pockets. It’s an enviable position to be in, especially considering the lack of depth they have at virtually every other position.
Susac is supposed to hit for power and stick at the position with a good arm. I’m a big fan and can’t wait to see what he does in 2012, though I cannot say for sure if he’ll start in Sally League or San Jose. I suspect it might be the former given the Giants’ abundance at catcher.
OA: I originally had Susac rated lowest of the three catchers, but the exuberant praise of the amateur baseball community has persuaded me that he’s a better prospect than Hector Sanchez at the moment. There’s a decent case to be made that he’s a better prospect than Tommy Joseph, who despite his big step forward, is still not a good hitter.
CM: Andrew Susac probably will be the catcher in Augusta, but the Giants have a track record of putting elite prospects in San Jose, especially advanced college players like Susac. I’d also bet they want to showcase him in San Jose, as the club takes their South Bay investment seriously with their fans. Either way, Susac should be in A-ball.
Stay tuned this week for the third, and final, installment of our Top 15 Prospect List.