Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Breaking Down the Draft: Culberson and Noonan

Carlos Gomez just published the latest in a series of articles covering draft picks. In this installment, he covers Giants picks Charlie Culberson and Nick Noonan.

BTW, both have signed already with the Giants, I see their name in the lineup for the Giants' Arizona Rookie League team. Charlie agreed to sign on Monday June 11th, for slot money, $607,500 plus they included an extra college scholarship too (reported in Chattanooga Times Free Press). Charlie noted the Giants will start him at SS but could move him to 2B or 3B and he hopes to make it up in four years and to have a 15 year career. Nick signed on Thursday June 14th according to this article, and the deal is estimated to be worth a hair above $1M (that appears to be about slot). It includes $100K+ for college. They both jumped at their deals once they got their offer.

I also found a blurb on sfgiants.com noting the signings. It also notes that the Giants signed a total of 31 of their selections from the draft, including their other supplemental pick, Jackson Williams (the 43rd pick).

SS Charlie Culberson

Charlie (51st pick overall) got an overall positive evaluation with a few nits to pick. And that's to be expected, with the odds of finding a good player so low by this point in the draft, you are really only picking up players who will have to develop and growth to become major leaguers. If the odds are stacked against even the 10th pick, you can imagine how much worse it is for the 51st pick.

  • "Culberson looks smooth on the field with a good, plus arm."
  • "His swing is pretty good, but a little noisy". It was noted that he has too much movement before the swing, which "will make it difficult for him to succeed at the next level," and he has a tendency to "leak (he doesn't stop his body from moving forward as he starts to rotate." This will cause him to struggle. He is advised to "spread out his stance, reduce the hip/hands load a bit, and let the ball travel." This will cost a little power, but provide more consistent contact.
  • Though Carlos notes that Culberson was drafted too high, he still likes the pick because Charlie will have a little more pop than the average middle infielder.
I have to assume that Charlie looks good for the most part because he had a dad who was a professional ballplayer. Given what he needs to learn and adjust, he probably will advance one level at a time, starting from Salem-Keizer, assuming no set-backs. That would be a six year trip to the majors, and he'll be 24 at that time. Not quite his timetable, but not bad either. After all, making the majors at 22, which is what Charlie is targeting, is pretty rare.

Still, it is good that he has some goals in mind for making the majors and that he has big ambitions. Hopefully he will back that up with tenacity and industriousness. He noted in the article linked above that "... I know I'll have to work hard and get lucky. Hopefully in four years I'll be up there playing [in the majors]. One of my biggest goals is to play 15 years up there." That's a good sign that he knows he doesn't need to just show up and everything will happen, but that he will have to devote his life to baseball (which he noted in the article too, stating "my life now is baseball") and work hard to get what he wants. Again, that's probably something his father passed on, while he was drafted and signed by the Giants, he never made the majors. A Leon Culberson made it during the 1940's, I wonder if he is related; could be, he was born in and passed away in Georgia, where Charlie was born and live in.

SS/2B Nick Noonan

Carlos really like Noonan (32nd pick overall) enough to say that he would "take Noonan in a heartbeat" over Peter Kozma , the 18th pick overall, even though he sees Noonan ending up at 2B and Kozma having more of a chance of sticking at SS.

  • "With a quick-release arm and smooth on the field, Noonan is a ballplayer."
  • "I agree with most: he's likely to end up at second base."
  • Don't really like his stance, with the bat upright.
  • However, Carlos likes how "he loads his hands by bringing them back slightly while also loading his hips to rotate powerfully against his front leg. Noonan has excellent balance, stays behind the ball really well and has good swing balance. He lets the ball travel well and his hands follow a nice, circular hand path.
I dug up some more stuff on Noonan, I liked finding the Culberson stuff. Noonan made the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic, so he had a player profile there. There is stuff lauding how good he is but it doesn't note his shortcomings so I don't know what's real and what's fluff. However, I will note that here he is compared with Derek Jeter "for his tools and feel for the game."

However, I found it interesting that he "works as a coach and umpire in the local Little League and T-Ball organizations." That, for me, speaks to the quality of his character, despite all the demands of high school plus his playing for the high school team, he still makes time to contribute back to younger players via coaching and umpiring, and still get a 3.2 GPA (though I must note that some schools, ah, make it easier for athletes to get a good grade, not that Nick necessarily got a free ride, particularly at a private school).


  1. Off topic, but I thought I would throw this here since probably only Boof and I were still looking in the comments for that post.

    I see Boof is a little tired of this back and forths, and I suppose I am too.

    But I saw something today that further drives home my point about the Giants farm system.

    Sure, the experts don't think much of the farm system, but lets compare the D-gers with our system.

    Every year, it seems, the D-gers get plaudits and huzzahs over how great their farm system is, particularly their pitching. Even Matt Cain was considered a lesser pitcher than a D-ger prospect in the overall rankings.

    In Baseball Prospectus today (free articles for about a week), http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6433, they noted this about Scott Elbert, who was their latest uber-prospect in pitching: "one of the best lefties in the minors entering the season, Scott Elbert lasted just three starts before undergoing arthoscopic shoulder surgery." They also made mention of former D-ger pitching wunderkind Greg Miller: Is Greg Miller (59 walks in 40.1 IP) too far in the weeds to ever regain the talent that once made him among the top pitching prospects in the game?" Another injured top pitching prospect along with one of the previously injured top pitching prospect.

    So what's better? Having the best touted farm system, particularly in pitching, Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert? Or having a farm system that has produced Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Brad Hennessey, and Kevin Correia, Jonathan Sanchez, thus far?

    I can see complaints about our farm system, but at some point you have to acknowledge that the Giants have been very successful in developing pitchers and the D-gers have not. Performance, over potential, must be valued higher eventually, I don't care how good their prospects are, if they always come up short, that should speak poorly to the quality of the system (as well as the quality of the experts who say that the D-gers have a better farm system).

    Hopefully, if GM's come to realize this, they will start valuing Giants pitching prospect more than they would other teams and begin offering better players in trade for our pitching prospects. Heck, even if they don't realize this, the pitchers we have at the MLB level will, if success continues, be forced out by better pitchers coming up, and then we can trade away these experienced, successful pitchers to other teams and get good position players from the other teams.

    And there have been good deals. For two good relievers, the Nats got two starting position players in Kearns and Lopez. They aren't the greatest, but they are certainly better than any position player we have developed in a long time. And the Pirates got LaRoche, a good power hitting 1B, for a good reliever. Again, better than anything the Giants have developed in a while.

    Also, Boof was hot over Elvis, but here is a quote about Elvis Andrus from BP URL above: "Not What We Expected: Yes, shortstop Elvis Andrus is still very young (18 and in High-A), and yes, Andrus has outstanding tools. But no, he still hasn’t done a thing offensively, and that's for the second straight year (.243/.330/.341)."

    Who is rushing their prospects now Boof? He clearly should have stayed at a lower level, as he did nothing last year to indicate any offensive ability plus he's only 18, another year at a lower level wouldn't have harmed his development. Rushed.

    And about whether the Giants wished they had McCann and Salty, I throw it back and ask whether they wish they had Cain and Lincecum.

    Back to my theory of how Sabean's focus on pitching pays off, pitching takes almost as many roster spots as position players, plus pitchers can fill almost any of those spots whereas luckily the Braves need a 1B, else they would have to trade someone away to open a spot for Salty. He certainly couldn't play 2B, a position they needed before the season.

    Here's an example I've just thought of to explain my concept. Imagine the Giants with Cepeda and McCovey, but instead of two Hall of Fame 1B, we have two HoF starting pitchers. Instead of spending years of going back and forth on McCovey and Cepeda, throwing them into other positions (McCovey played 3B and LF), and then finally trading Cepeda, they would have both easily slid into the rotation and we could have kept both for their whole career.

    And the guy we got for Cepeda in trade? Good but not a Hall of Famer, he could have been one of the lesser pitchers the Giants farm system developed, and we could have traded him off to get a HoF 1B like Cepeda.

  2. Regarding the Dodgers pitchers, you seem to have forgotten that Broxton & Billingsley have been recent products of their farm system. You also conveniently left out the name of Clayon Kershaw who happens to be the top pitching prospect in all of baseball now that Lincecum & Gallardo are in the big show. But those are just minor details.

    On the other side of the coin, the Giants should be proud about the drafting & development of Cain & Lincecum (although all they had to do was draft Lincecum; he did the rest). Their system also produced Nathan, Bonser & Liriano ..... aaaarrrrghhhh (Sabean, you jerk). There is no debate. We have some pitchers.......however, that's all we have.

    My gripe is, and always has been, that the Giants complete lack of planning for the eventual replacement of their position players has been a very short sighted strategy and has now hamstrung the entire organization. THere will be no easy road to recovery from this error in judgement.

  3. I was mainly railing against the top pitchers noted by the experts, but yes, you are correct, Broxton and Billingsley have been recent products of their farm system. Nobody I would build around, but they are nice complementary parts.

    About Kershaw, didn't anything I wrote about how the D-gers top pitching prospects mean anything? :^) Hey, yeah, he's good, but given the long list of failures or so-so prospects (Billingsley was so good that the D-gers felt compelled to start Tomko instead this season) I reserve the right to be skeptical.

    There was not a lack of planning, there has been a lack of results, they have drafted a number of position players in the past. I still have no problem with that because of how well the pitching has turned out, some teams have a smattering of position prospects and pitching prospects, some have only position prospects, some have only pitching prospects. Nobody plans to replace every position player through the minors, show me a team that has done that.

  4. While it is true the Giants do not have lurking in their minor league system the next Barry Bonds or Willie Mays, they do have some decent prospects. Besides the 8 pitchers on the MLB roster, they have brought up 4 guys from the minors who have done reasonably well:
    Schierholtz 40 ABs 749 OPS
    Ortmeier 52 777
    Frandsen 105 704
    Lewis 107 797

    They also have a couple of decent prospects in AAA
    Timpner (OF) 865
    DeLaRosa (3b) 772

    and AA
    Velez (2b, CF) 851

    The other point to be made, you cannot really compare the Giants success with developing propects with the success developing prospects of teams like KC, Pitt, Detroit, Milwaukee, as those teams have been at the bottom for years and have had top 10 draft picks for years. They better score some prospects, repeatedly drating at those slots, whereas the Giants were often drafting in the 20s.

  5. You made reference to Leon Culberson in the blog about Charlie Culberson, that is his grandfather and his uncle Calvin Culberson also played at some level in pro ball as well. The kid has the genes!! Keep an eye on him he is going places, he has high goals and accomplishes what he sets his mind to!

  6. A little bit OT, Martin, but this team has crashed largely because 6 guys grossly and unexpectedly underperformed. I wonder if there is a way of calculating how many more runs we would have scored were you at add 20 OPS points to the totals of Winn (734), Feliz (675), Viz (579), Durham (725), Aurilia (665), and Roberts (633).

  7. In re: the farm system, yuck. It stinks. Look at the names we see here: Schierholtz could be a regular OF, but he'll never be a star (cf: Ryan Braun). Ortmeier's 25 and not that great. Frandsen's 25 and worse, but he can play 2nd a little. Lewis is 26 and unlikely to improve much more. Timpner is having a lucky year, De La Rosa is 29 (!), and Velez is in AA at 25.

    This is one (1) marginal name and a bunch of chaff.

    In re Culberson and Noonan, the former is stinking up the joint in rookie league, though he does have a walk rate and seems to have a slightly unlucky BABIP. Noonan, however, is crushing the ball. I am starting to have some hopes for him.

  8. "... but he'll never be a star" And there is the flaw in your logic. You don't understand the Giants strategy or their needs. They don't need star position players coming out of their minor league system. They only need 4 good defensive players who can post an OPS of 750-775. They already have their stars (Zito, Cain, Lowry, Lincecum). If they can produce a CF, RF, 2b and maybe a SS, then they only need to sign 4 more FA position players who will hit in the 750-825 OPS range and they have more than enough offense to win the division and the NL pennant.
    And Velez could conceivably make the big club next year. They just moved him to CF (he is blocked at 2b by Durham). It really depends on whether he gets a September call up and how he does. And if Lewis can keep his OPS at 798 he doesn't have to improve. It was good enough to push Schierholtz back to Fresno (and he had a 749 OPS).

  9. Let's just assume for the moment that you are correct, Frank, that all they need to develop is a CF, RF, 2B & SS and then fill in free agents. You have put your finger right on the problem and the huge failing of the Giants management. They don't have a CF, RF, 2B or SS on the horizon in their minor league system. They don't even have a LF, 3B, or 1B either (not counting Villalona who is at least 4 years away). Schierholtz, Frandsen, Lewis, etc. are no better than 4th OF or UT players. These should not be your future starters, but unfortunately for the GIants that's all they have. It's a very sad state of affairs.

    Oh, and by the way, if Zito is a star, hen the Giants are really in trouble. The Giants are really going to regret that contract 2 years form now.

  10. Thanks for the posts Allfrank. Wow, any better and I won't have to post anymore. :^)

    There is a lineup calculator at Baseball Musing, but it requires you to input both OBP and SLG, not just OPS. I suppose you could enter in 10 for each (for a total of 20) and see what that calculates. Or, you could compile from ESPN the Giants OBP and SLG for each batting position, then add 10 to each for all the bad ones and see where that adds up to.

    Thanks to anon for the Culberson info. He sounds like a determined young man, I'm going to be rooting for him to make his goals.

    Also, Noonan seems like he a centered guy, helping out with coaching and umpiring, areas that Little League can really use help with. You gotta root for somebody like that. I'll be posting on him shortly, found some good stuff on him.

    wcw, and the Brewers don't have the pitching prospects to compare with Cain, Lincecum, Lowry. So what's your point? But I really like Ryan Braun, though. The odd thing is his stats in Advanced A ball in 2006 are worse than what Ishikawa did there, but then something clicked when he went to AA ball, and I guess continued in AAA and the majors today. But hey, if you have read my blog regularly now, you know what I've been saying about the draft. Ryan Braun was the #5 pick of the 2005 draft. He should be pretty good. You get a way different type of prospect drafting later in the first round, typically.

    Wow, though, 2005 was a great draft, teams were picking great prospects into the end of the draft, Cards got Colby Rasmus with 28th pick, Twins got Matt Garza 25th pick. I can recognize most of the picks are considered one of that team's top prospects right now.

    2004 was not as good, a number of non-prospects very early in the draft (starting with #1).

    So the Brewers better hit with Braun, he was a #5 pick overall, just like they failed (thus far) in 2004 with #5 pick Mark Rogers, but scored with #2 Rickie Weeks in 2003, and #7 Prince Fielder in 2002, but #12 Mike Jones in 2001 isn't on their prospect list at all. That's why they have been so successful developing players, they have been drafting in the top 7 spots overall.

    But Allfrank, Velez is a stretch right now. For him, I will believe it when he does it at the majors. The odds are that long for him.

    And the point of other people is specifically that: the Giants have been incapable of even developing average hitters in the high 700 range. Until they do, any of our prospects are therefore suspect.

    I think Lewis with his nice stats has been a nice revelation and would look nice in LF next season if Bonds isn't resigned. But until guys start coming up and performing, we should be rightfully suspicious.

    And I agree that Lewis did earn the right to stay for what he did over Schierholtz. Unless Nate was hitting over 900 OPS, I think Lewis would have gotten to stay over Nate, he was doing well in regular play and you want to reward that.

    In addition, obviously Schierholtz is considered the better prospect than Lewis, so you can send Schierholtz back down and still be relatively sure that he will still be a good prospect, but there have been enough question marks about Lewis that if he is doing well in the majors, you have to play it out and see how he does.

    It is kind of like getting a nibble on the line when you are fishing. Lewis is nibbling hard and so you have to play that out and see how it goes before trying to "catch" Schierholtz.

  11. As I've noted before, they don't need to develop any position players if they can trade off their pitching excess to gain these position players and there are sometimes free agents worth getting, like A-Rod in the next off-season (you know he's going to go, I dont't think that Boras has ever done a resign for a pending free agent ever, and especially with the best player in a generation). Getting a player like him would go a long way towards fixing the offense.

    I can see doubting players, but if Lewis can hit .798 in part-time play, Boof, why isn't he an option to start in the OF Boof? Or Frandsen at 2B, he is hitting .704 in part-time play, the average 2B is only hitting .741 OPS, and he has hit all through the farm system, even AAA, so why not him? After a poor start in May, he has really boosted his hittig in June and July. And Schierholtz is hitting great in AAA right now, why isn't he considered OK to start?

    And I'm not talking about them being good or anything, just sub-average, somewhere in the 700 OPS range. Because few team has a lineup of hitters up and down the lineup, most have some poor hitters combined with a few strong hitters.

    And with a pitching staff like we have, we don't need a great offense, we just need an offense with a pulse and that can play consistently.

    Right now we don't have that. With the average runs/game scored by the team, we should be a few games over 500 right now based on the Pythagorean methodology that Bill James invented. So they are underperforming, and that is mainly because the average run scored - as most averages in baseball - is inflated by a skewing of high scoring ballgames where the team scored over 10 runs in the game.

    And that is driven by our top two hitters not really hitting or getting on base, Roberts hasn't done much and Winn cooled off after he was dropped to the #2 spot when Roberts came back.

    You can point to the lack of position prospects again, but again I point to an almost total rebuilding of the pitching staff internally, show me how many teams have done something like that and with high caliber starters like Cain, Lincecum, and Lowry.

    Rebuilds aren't done in a few years and they aren't done solely from internal farm products and the teams don't have good players at every position and they aren't done without a free agent here and there.

    Whether anyone like it or not, the Giants have rebuilt their pitching staff. The position players are next, and Lewis and Frandsen appear to be promising prospects, as do Schierholtz. As I noted, we don't need to have a good offense, we just need one that is more consistent, particularly when Bonds is not in the lineup. Hopefully that problem is solved next year or the year after that.

  12. Actually, Martin, the stats aren't skewed. For every game we've won 13-2, there's a game we've lost 13-3. What is hard to do is to compare teams across divisions. Many of the teams in the east play in small, high scoring ball parks, whereas in the west at least 3 parks are major pitchers parks. So, not surprisingly, the eastern teams tend to lead the stats in runs and avg and slg, while the western teams tend to lead in ERA and low runs against.
    Martin, one of the reasons I think Velez gets a look is that we may trade either Roberts or Winn. (I think Bonds comes back). I don't think either Schierholtz or Lewis is the answer in CF, but Velez seems to be a very good athlete with great speed, and a very good potential replacement for CF. ONe possibility, then, would be an OF of Bonds, Velez, Lewis, with Roberts as 4th OF (and Schierholtz has a good chance to beat out Lewis in ST). The only other 'openings' for next year are SS and 3b. But, like I say, I haven't seen Velez play, just his stats and they are, especially by Conn standards, damned impressive.

  13. There will always be a low scoring game to "balance" a high scoring game. My point is that relative to the general shape of scoring that occurs in the National League, I think the Giants probably have more high scoring games than other teams, i.e. their stats are skewed.

    I don't think either Roberts or Winn are tradeable right now, unless we give a boatload of money.

    Right now, given their difficulties in the field and only being able to hit RHP, I don't see Schierholtz and Lewis both starting in the OF either.

    And Roberts isn't going to be the 4th OF with his salary, they are going to trot him out again in 2008, and if he sucks for 2007 and 2008, then they might bench him in 2009. That's just the way of the majors...

    The problem with stats in the minors, I'm beginning to realize, is that "damned impressive" just doesn't do it in the minors, you have to be eye poppingly great. I think all our past position wannabes were "damned impressive" in the minors (Ellison, Calvin Murray, Tony Torcato, Cody Ransom, Todd Linden, Damon Minor, JR Phillips, etc.) but not so much in the majors.

    Plus Velez is 25 years old already, that is old for the Eastern League, 23/24 is the average age plus there are a lot of 22 year olds too. So he should be hitting "damned impressively" there.

    I'll be more interested once he's reached the majors, he is frankly old to even be at AAA and still be a prospect, and assuming he is promoted next season, he will be 26 and maybe make the majors at 27. With such an age advantage in AAA and AA, I will believe that he is as good as you say once he starts doing it in the majors.

  14. I'm not sure I'm convinced by the age thing, AA or AAA. If a guy is 24 and struggles, but improves and does better the next year when he's 25, why is that suspect? 1) it shows he's learned, and 2) even tho his competition is now 1 year younger than he is, that competition is still at about the same skill level as when he was 24 and struggling.
    And if this were completely true, why wouldn't the team just push guys thru, since, if they're held back their improvement doesn't count for much?
    I am not arguing that a guy 24 and tearing it up at AAA is a better prospect than a guy 25 and in AA, but I don't see why, necessarily, the 25 yr old guy is nor much of a prospect - Linden, Ranso, Niekro, et al notwithstanding.

  15. Frankly, Velez isn't on my radar and thanks for putting him on it.

    I just don't follow you, I don't get the "if a guy is 24 and struggles...". Velez is doing well in AA. Good, he learned and did better - or did he?

    For an extreme example, what if you played baseball against a bunch of 11 year olds? You would probably beat them easily, wouldn't you? You would have great stats.

    That's what happens when you have older players playing against younger ones. They have an experience advantage, a maturity advantage, perhaps even a physical advantage. But it is all relative. Sometimes it is a big one, sometimes the younger one is just damn better than you.

    If a player is older than the majority of players playing in a league, that makes his performance suspect. It doesn't negate it - at least he's doing well - but it's not like he's knocking their socks off, his OPS is only .839, great if he did it at the majors, but the pitchers there are light years better and more experienced too.

    I also just noticed, his BABIP is .400; there is not a rule that says batters have to regress to a .300 mean (like pitchers do) - I've read that the batter has a career mean he reverts to - but I doubt that his career mean BABIP is .408; this means his hits are falling in, that luck is playing a role in his hot hitting in just around one month of play in AA.

    Which brings up the small sample rule, he's only been there very briefly, the league perhaps hasn't caught up with him yet, or learned him. And likewise, he could learn too. Some, like Eliezer Alfonzo, the league learns fast and your OPS drops like a stone after your hot month. Others learn faster and do better, like Nate Schierholtz did last season in AA.

    Velez could be nice. But at 25 years old, he has at least 1-3 years on the players there, he should be "damned impressive" or he would not be prospect worthy. But how much is talent and how much is because he's older? We won't know until he moves up a level to AAA (or if he cools off like I think he will).

    In AAA, there are a lot of older players so his performance there will probably be closer to reality, closer to his true talent level.

    But still, at 26 years old, that's really his last year as a true prospect, then he'll be 27 if he makes the majors the next year. Sure, he could be doing well there too, but there are too many other factors affecting his assessment to gauge by just looking at his numbers.

    Some analysts have devised an "MLB equivalent" equation that translates minor league results into what that would represent if they actually played in the majors, with adjustment for age. For example, Fred Lewis hit .828 OPS in AAA last season; according to The 2007 Baseball Forecaster, using their translation methodology, Lewis's MLB equivalent production OPS was 698. The year before OPS 757 in AA; equivalent to 651 OPS.

    Now that would imply Velez would have an MLB equivalent in the low 700 OPS, reduced from the 839 OPS; 722 based on the ratio. That would be on the very low side for CF, slightly under for 2B, his two positions.

    But again, small samples. He needs to continue to do it the rest of this season in AA and then repeat it in AAA, and as we saw with Lewis's OPS, if Velez duplicated it in AAA, it would be equivalent to a sub-700 OPS. So he would have to boost things in AAA.

    Not saying that he can, or that he can't learn, but the odds are long and the stats are misleading, it's not a 1:1 relationship to the majors.

    I have no problem with him making it; but I have to state the reasons why his "damned impressive" OPS in AA is not so impressive and why. These are just some of the things I've learned along the way. If others feel otherwise, feel free to speak up, I'm no genius, I just try to share what I've learned along the way. This is what I've learned about the hurdle that AA and AAA is for prospects, this is what I've observed from disappointments with "damned impressive" performance that never translated to the majors.

  16. I don't know too much about BABIP, so I was wondering if the stat you were using (.408 for Velez) accounted for different kinds of balls in play - ground balls, line drives, etc. Thanks.

    Also, in the Noonan profile, they mentioned he has a good arm for a middle infielder. Have the Giants basically decided to use him as a second basemen? From what I'd heard previously, I though his arm strength was one of the main reasons people didn't see him as a shortstop.

  17. No, BABIP does not account for the type of balls in play. Minor League Splits provides the raw data so between groundball, line drives and flyballs (there are also popups, bunts, and unknown), the ratio is 52% groundballs, 16% linedrive, 32% flyballs. That fits in with his batting line, ISO is only 123, a result of very few flyballs. But linedrives aren't that high either, only 16%, you would expect that to be higher for you to have more hits from them. The split seems normal but the BABIP is not (now .415).

    I am not aware that the Giants have decided anything yet. Checking the stats at minor league splits, it shows that he has played about half his ABs at 2B and half at SS. I assume they are giving him a chance to do well there first before they try to move him. Obviously a bat like his would be great at SS, so why not give him that opportunity. But since he's playing 2B a lot, that suggests that the Giants do see him there at some point, as the scouts have been noting.

    Hitting very nicely thus far, very few walks (4 in 63 ABs) but high walks relatively (3 BB/4 K's) but low on an overall basis. Those are signs of a good hitter. But still small samples....

    I'm not sure where you got the good arm for a middle infielder quote. I see "major league arm". Seems most say he's heading for 2B but he seems adament for a chance to start at SS. Maybe given him chance keeps him happy.

  18. One thing you said confused me, Martin, to the effect Velez had only been in Conn for a month. He's been there all year, but was just moved to CF about a month (or less) ago. One of the reasons I have been kind of hopeful/impressed, is that he was (as I recall) an all star last year at Augusta. The other reason I thought/hoped he would be a prospect is that he is doing so incredibly well at Conn, where most of our players are 50/75 points below what Velez is posting.

  19. And, BTW, I do understand that, generally, the younger you are when you "get it" the better. I think your comments are especially true if someone is 24 and in rookie ball, b ut being one or two years older at AA, I wouldn't think, is as important. Sure if a guy is 22 and an all star at AA that is exciting. But, if like Velez, it is his first appearance in AA (as opposed to his 3d), I think that is at least as important than that he is 2-3 years older than the competition. In other words, aren't generally, the players considerably younger in A ball, but once you get to AA you are facing consistent talent (irrespective of age).
    I guess what I am theorizing is that it is not a straight line. I think it is true are the extremes: if a guy is 24 playing agaisnt 18-20 yr olds, he has an advantage (sort of the A ball level) and if he is 27-28, he has several years experience which should help (the AAA level), b ut it is not as true if you are talking one or two years difference and at a level (AA) that is pretty consistent (by which I mean everybody there has a certain level of experience and certain proficiency.

  20. Noonan's Aflac All-American Game profile (http://www.aflacallamerican.com/2006/Roster/index.
    cfm?id=157)describes him as having "outstanding arm strength for a middle infielder" and noted that he has also pitched. It did list him as a shortstop and second baseman, so maybe they meant his arm was good for a second baseman.



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