Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Prospects For Prospects in Giants Farm System

Lefty Malo had a post that stuck with me for a while now. In the March 21, 2006 post, he noted an article Kevin Goldstein had on Baseball Prospectus, which stated that the average farm system, frozen in time at any given moment, will likely yield eight major leaguers: two starting position players, two bench warmers, two starting pitchers and two relievers. Lefty then noted that "Assuming that all but the best relievers are failed starters, that makes four valuable players out of roughly 150-plus per system. That's less than 3%. "

Since then, I've picked up a book called Minor League Baseball Analyst (2006 Edition by Deric McKamey, published by Shandler Enterprises), a book out of Ron Shandler's organization that covers all minor league prospects who are still eligible for the rookie of the year award. He covers a lot of players in this book, I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in prospects - I find it of great use in my fantasy baseball play - but one thing I like is it covers more than just the top Giants prospects, it covers around 30 of their top players.

Interesting Facts From or Derived From the Book

I've been wondering how to quote from the book without getting into too much trouble with the copyright laws. I know I can quote from it with the above accreditation, and I don't get paid or anything for my blog, other than personal pleasure, so this is not for commercial purposes, but I don't want to cost him any sales either. So I will tread on a line between so that it whets Giants fans appettite for information but don't give away the cow.

There are 30 Giants prospects in the book. Surprisingly, to most Giants fans in the know, there are more position players than pitchers, strange given Sabean's rep for being pitching focused. There were 18 position players vs. 12 pitchers. The author provided his estimate of what the prospects' expected MLB position is and when he would get his first taste of the majors. That date hasn't turned out right for a couple of players already, so I don't think we should rely on that, plus the date the player makes the major is of little consequence, more important is what he can reasonably be expected to become.

In all, he sees 6 position starters, 4 platoon starters (2 surprise there, 2 of our top prospects), 9 utility players, 7 starting pitchers, 4 setup men, 1 situational reliever, and 1 closer (one pitcher was viewed as either a starter or reliever. Most of them, Giants fans who follow the minors will know who they are. But as noted, there were a couple of surprises in there. In addition, he noted which part of the rotation the pitchers would be and the Giants had 2 each of #2, #3, #4, and #5. Matt Cain was one of the #2's, as any Giants fan could tell you, but a pitcher that most wouldn't think of was the other #2 - in fact, he doesn't show up very high on some prospect lists. And Hennessey, Correia, and Munter, while not established vets, are no longer considered rookies either, so they are not on the list.

Who they are, for a hint you can go to McCovey Chronicles and Steve Shelby has been posting regular posts on the daily going ons of the Giants prospects plus occassionally posting his Future Forty list. For the most part, the list of players in the book matches Steve's list in terms of listing names common to both and cover most of the top 30 he listed, though there are a few new entries that push down the 30 that the book listed in Steve's list.

Given that most reserve/relief pitchers are pitchers who failed in becoming starters in the minors, one could assume that the eight 2/2/2/2 major leaguers are composed of the 10 starting position players and the 7 starting pitchers. However, that's not quite true for the relievers, most probably the two relievers will come out of the relievers currently on the list, which would mean that the four position players come out of the 10 and the 2 starting pitchers come out of the 7, and we know that Cain is probably one of them.

I am only surprised by one of the names listed as a potential starter for position players, the rest of the 9 can be ticked off by Giants fans in the know (or who have read Steve's list). There are no such surprises among the pitchers, my main surprise is in who was listed as a potential #2 starter, he wouldn't have been my first guess, but he definitely would have been on my short list.

Sorry if I'm being a tease but I don't want anyone coming after me. Plus I really like Ron Shandler's books so far, so I don't want to cost him sales either, I feel like I've learned a lot from them and I have learned a lot about the name prospects across the league with the help of his books. But I think I will list some facts that doesn't give away too much of the book's info (in detail) but will get people's interest in the book piqued:
  • Frandsen is not on the list of starters.
  • Ishikawa and Schierholtz are not one of the 6 potential position starters.
  • Sanders isn't projected as a starting SS.
  • There is nobody projected as a starting catcher, full-time or platoon, but 6 of the 7 other positions have a potential starter.
  • The seven projected starting pitchers include the usual pre-season suspects, only who is what is interesting, disappointing in a few cases, as I would have thought they were higher: Matt Cain, Dan Griffin, Waldis Joaquin, Shairon Martis (no-hitter in WBC), Pat Misch, Jonathan Sanchez, Craig Whitaker.
  • Anyone who follows Giants prospects regularly already know who the potential closer is, he has been described as a potential Armando Benitez.

The book is only $12.97 on Amazon.com, if you like following prospects or having fun with fantasy baseball leagues, you will find yourself reading through the book frequently. One thing I like is that for each pitcher, the author lists the pitchers top pitches and rates each one, giving the speed where available. For the position players, they are rated for power, batting average, speed, and defense. There is also the requisite stats, including their standard set of metrics used to evaluate prospects and regular MLB players plus short text description/discussion.

2 comments:

  1. I think Martin can crank out about 15,000 words in 10 minutes ;-)


    Kenshin

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish!!! That would make things so much easier for me, particularly at work.

    ReplyDelete

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