This year marks the third year that we’ve put together a site prospect ranking. (You can find the previous rankings here: 2011 – 2012.) The way it works is that we each come up with a ranking, share lists, and then hash out a final ranking.
Chris Martinez and I composed this year’s list.
Today’s ranking focuses on the #15 through #11 spots. Without further delay, let’s get things started.
15. Brett Bochy, RP, 25 years old in 2013
Chris Quick: Yes, that’s Bruce’s kid. For me, historically, I’ve used the 15th spot on these rankings to take a shot on someone. Bochy has a couple of great things going for him: an overall successful season in AA in 2012, a career 11.9 K/9 rate, and a career 4.69 K/BB rate. However, there’s also a bunch of red flags. He was shut down on August 20th with what was dubbed an “extremely tired arm.” He didn’t appear in another game in 2012. And, scouting reports on Bochy the Younger peg him as a reliever without top-shelf velocity. He looks like your average slider/fastball reliever, but with really nice minor league stats. Still, Sergio Romo taught me not to bet against these kind of players, but, admittedly, he’s still a long shot.
Chris Martinez: Bochy aced Double-A Richmond with 14 saves and 69 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings. He bypassed San Jose after blowing away the competition in Augusta in 2011. The bad news for Bochy is the San Francisco bullpen is loaded and Heath Hembree is ahead of him on the reliever depth chart. If he does well in Triple-A Fresno in 2013 the Giants may be forced to find a place for him.
14. Gustavo Cabrera, OF, 17 years old in 2013
CQ: Cabrera, ranked the #1 international prospect by MLB.com, signed this past July with the Giants for $1.3M. Prospects this young are always filled with the ultimate “what if” scenarios. He could turn out to be the Justin Upton NES cartridge that’s jammed into a Game Genie. Or Rafael Rodriguez, the Giants’ last big splash, and dud, on the international market. Still, the Giants thought enough about Cabrera to pay him. That’s enough for me. He’s a $1.3M TOOLS gamble. That’s the salary of one Theriot … eh, why not?
CM: Cabrera has some of the best tools in the system, including raw power and bat speed. The Giants signed the top ranked outfield prospect for $1.3 million last summer. A quick glance at Cabrera reads like a lower-risk, potentially higher-reward version of Angel Villalona if just for his better conditioning and athleticism. Cabrera turns 17 in 2013 and is a long way from making an impact. The idea of a power hitting outfielder in San Francisco makes Cabrera one to watch.
13. Stephen Johnson, RP, 22 years old in 2013
CQ: Things I know about Stephen Johnson: 1) He throws really, really hard, and has been clocked at triple digits; 2) He probably has no idea where the ball is going. Johnson, a sixth round pick in the 2012 draft, has exactly the kind of huge arm that I bet Dick Tidrow wakes up in the middle of the night, with cold sweats, dreaming about. He profiles as a reliever with elite velocity and if he can develop better secondary offerings, could be something special. He’s still way too far away to make any proclamations on, but, man, that arm.
CM: He has a ton of velocity and will strike out a lot of batters, which is great. His control is a question mark. That said, he projects as a reliever for now, but a pretty lethal one once he gets his command figured out. I’ll be watching him closely this coming year. Hopefully he’s assigned to Augusta because a full season of work will tell what he can do.
12. Adam Duvall, 3B, 24 years old in 2013
CQ: Duvall has been something of a question mark to me. We ranked him #14 in 2012 and, despite moving up two spots, he’s still kind of the same guy — a player with questionable defense, but the ability to hit for power. Maybe the most alarming thing about Duvall, for me, is that he was only six-percent better than the league average batter in the California League in 2012; that’s after he was 46-percent better than average in 2011 in the South Atlantic League. Duvall’s ability to hit for power — 30 HRs in San Jose — in a power starved system is nice, but I still don’t know what to make of him.
CM: I like Duvall for his power and his overall hitting. He does strike out a lot, as most power hitters do, but he walks enough for me to forgive some of the whiffs. One of the biggest knocks on Duvall’s game was his defense, which he cleaned up significantly last year in San Jose. He’s 24 (cue the age per level fiends) and needs to prove he can hit in Double-A and continue to improve on defense. Richmond separates the real prospects in the Giants system, so this year is key for Duvall.
11. Andrew Susac, C, 23 years old in 2013
CQ: A second-rounder in 2011, Susac’s first year in pro-ball can be summed up as disappointing. While playing for San Jose, Susac struck out 100 times, walked 50 times, and hit an overall batting line of .244/.351/.380 … about four-percent below league average. There’s a good enough chance that Susac can get things back on track and have a MLB career, but it’s hard to get too excited after his 2012. Positional scarcity means a lot, and after having a trio of catchers in the system last year — Joseph, Sanchez, and Susac — things have drastically thinned out at the catching position.
CM: Susac’s 2012 year was a big letdown, due to high expectations after he was drafted and an aggressive assignment in Advanced-A San Jose to begin his career. Not only did his plus power disappear, but he also lost another hallmark of his game: above-average defensive skills behind the plate. He made many mistakes on defense last year, including poor throws, poor ball blocking, and poor coverage at the plate. Now that I’ve bagged on him, let’s look at the positives. He’s still young at 23 years old coming into this season. He has collegiate catching experience. His tools are very good. I think he can absorb a crappy year if he repeats the level to work with San Jose manager Andy Skeels, a former catcher.
Stay tuned this week as we go through the rest of our rankings. Also, feel free to comment/debate in the comments section. There’s nothing like prospect rankings to whip everyone up into a frothy rage.