Friday, October 05, 2007

2007 Giants Minors Review: Giants see big gains from top names

The minor league's website had a nice article detailing a number of the top players in the Giants farm system this past season. I will make comments on the items the author covered.

Organization Players of the Year

The author (as they noted, they were not selected by the team) selected John Bowker and Sergio Romo. While I can understand perhaps why the author picked the two, and the two did have nice years, particularly nice for Bowker since his prospect status was "none chance" to steal from Duane Kuiper's vocabulary, I think their selection shows that the author is not a Giants fan, nor a particularly thorough researcher.

Even from my standpoint, where I haven't gone through all the minor league teams yet and check to see who did the best, from my readings on the Giants prospects, I think you have to select Nate Schierholtz and Henry Sosa.

Nate had probably one of the best performances of the year and at AAA, continuing his ascent to the majors, where he did well too, well enough in my opinion, that trading away Randy Winn to open up RF for Nate would be the best thing because 1) Randy should net us a good prospect or two, due to his average but OK hitting, good defense at all three OF positions (particularly useful if you have a bunch of old players out there with a history of injury problems), and OK contract, now that a similar player in Gary Mathews Jr. got that mega-contract long-term, it would be like the Matt Morris contract, it is now cheap enough and short enough to be valuable to a team, and 2) we have so many OF prospects who have exhibited enough at the major league level, including Fred Lewis, Rajai Davis, and Dan Ortmeier (though he hopefully will play 1B mostly), that we can rotate in Schierholtz, Davis, Lewis, Ortmeier into the CF and RF spots, depending on who is doing well at the time, but with Davis in CF and Schierholtz starting in RF, to start the season. While Bowker had a very good season and lifted his name into consideration for the mashup we have in the OF in the 2009 timeframe, perhaps even late 2008 if he kills at AAA, I think you have to give Schierholtz credit for figuring out AAA and then doing well in the majors.

Bowker, though, is a close second, so perhaps I'm being picky, but really, you have to give it to the guy who did well in AAA and then the majors. Unless you have someone who has a lot more potential and move up a lot. Angel Villalona did well in rookie ball and was younger than everyone there, so he's probably up there too, and I would have given it to him if he could have hit well in A-ball somewhere. Nick Noonan also deserve consideration and I would give honorable mention to Culberson and D'Alessio.

Henry Sosa totally dominated A-ball, then stumbled moving up to Advanced A, so Romo had success at a higher level. However, Sosa was doing it as a starter whereas Romo is a reliever. Though we need relievers more than starters, there needs to be more credit given for doing it as a starter, and particularly as dominating as Sosa was in Augusta, plus he got promoted. Not really sure who would be next, Brian Wilson probably since he did it as a closer, then Misch perhaps because of his success at AAA then majors.

Prospect Ratings

The article then delved into prospects who rose, stayed the same, and lastly fell. Nothing much to add there. I know people think I love Ishikawa or something, but given the Giants lack of position prospects, I just really don't want to waste one if he's really OK. And really, he hit well in San Jose, just as well as he did in 2005, so his skills were never gone, just wasting away in that hell-hole called Dodd Stadium. Kudos to Bowker for doing well there, but even he was greatly affected, which means he really busted out after a stagnant, regressive season in 2006:

Dodd: .271/.330/.422/.752, 6 HR in 251 AB (42 AB/HR or about 15 HR seasonal rate)
Road: .345/.397/.689/1.027, 16 HR in 267 AB (17 AB/HR or about 35 HR seasonal rate)

Still, given that AAA is another rung up, I have to say that Schierholtz is still "da man." He hit .332/.364/.559/.922, 16 HR in 410 AB (26 AB/HR or about 25 HR seasonal rate) during the season. But, more importantly, he figured things out later - as he has done for most of his career - as he had this great batting line in July and August in Fresno: .321/.360/.611/.970, 12 HR in 190 AB (16 AB/HR or about 35 HR seasonal rate). That's basically as good as Bowker did on the road in AA, except that Schierholtz did it one level higher.

There were two players who I think deserve mention from this section though. Ben Synder is a LHP out of Augusta this season, and he had a 2.09 ERA and struck out 145 in 151 IP, which is 8.6 K/9, which is pretty good. Eugenio Velez, who normally had played 2B but played a lot in the OF this season, hit well at Connecticut (which while bad for power hitters, doesn't affect non-power hitters as much), with a .298 BA and 49 steals.

On The Radar

This is a pretty good section, covering players to keep an eye out for in the next year or two. The players listed are:
  • Adam Cowart: Despite reports that his skills will not do well at higher levels, he followed up a 1.08 ERA with 8 walks and 55 strikeouts in 83.1 IP in 2006 at Salem-Keizer, with 2.39 ERA with 28 walks and 95 strikeouts in 169.2 IP in 2007 at Augusta. He's now 24-8 as a professional.
  • Sergio Romo: He did very well in San Jose, with a 1.36 ERA as the closer in 2007 (he started and relieved in 2006). In 66.1 IP, he gave up only 35 hits and 15 walks, while striking out 106, for a stellar 14.4 K/9! His WHIP was also stellar, at only 0.75.
  • Kevin Pucetas: It's going to be hard for Pucetas to top 2007, when he receieved the Most Spectacular Pitcher Award for having the lowest qualifying ERA in the minors this season with 1.86 ERA at Augusta. In 145.1 IP, he gave up 129 hits and 21 walks, while striking out 104, 1.03 WHIP.
  • Henry Sosa: This was his first full season and he totally dominated A-ball with Augusta, going 6-0 with a 0.73 ERA before earning a promotion to San Jose. He didn't do great there, but he has a high-90's fastball, so he'll probably do much better next year when he'll still be only 23 years old.
One of the thing that pops out to me, particularly after the picks in the 2007 draft, is that the Giants are concentrating on (or taking on a team philosophy of) pitchers who have incredible control. Where under 3.0 BB/9 is considered good, Cowart has a 1.5 BB/9, Romo has 2.0 BB/9, and Pucetas 1.3 BB/9. Sosa is kind of wild, but wild like Cain was before. Still, he strikes out so many that his K/BB was good, 2.4 with Augusta, then 2.1 with San Jose, where you want your starters to have over 2.0 to be good.

2007 Draftees

Unfortunately, Bumgarner and Fairley signed too late to start their professional career. However, Alderson did OK with five shutout innings in Arizona Rookie League, only 4 hits and no walks, plus 12 strikeouts! There were other notables:
  • Daniel Otero: He was Salem-Keizer's closer and the most amazing thing is he had zero walks in 22.1 IP.
  • Nick Noonan: Hit .316 with 3 homers and 18 steals in the Arizona Rookie League as an 18 year old, not too shabby.
  • Jackson Williams: Didn't hit well (though small sampling) but he hit with power, amassing 5 homers in only 126 AB (25 AB/HR or about 25 homeruns in a full season). However, he didn't have that great a batting line. The good news is that his contract rate was 79%, which is OK (ideally want over 85%) and his BB/K was 62%, which is OK. Those suggest some hitting ability and give some hope that his BABIP of .263 will rise if given a full season to play.
  • Charlie Culberson: Hit .286 with 19 steals in the Arizona Rookie League as an 18 year old too.
  • Andrew D'Alessio: Hit .306 with 14 (!) homers in the Arizona Rookie League, but he was much older than the competition there. I have hopes but they are tempered by his being much older. 2008 will give a clearer indication of his abilities.
  • Craig Clark: 2.98 ERA starting for the champion Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting that there is no mention of Villalona in this article. That is not a good sign.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for catching that Boof! Shame on me for not noticing that, big faux pas for not pointing that out. I'm pretty embarrassed that I missed that.

    Plus, I had intended to provide the link, here it is: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071001&content_id=308454&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp

    I wouldn't say that this is necessarily a bad sign either. I think it is a sign that Lisa Winston, whose "story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs," doesn't really follow the Giants that much.

    Baseball America had a much more positive take on Villalona: in its review of the Arizona Rookie League, Angel Villalona was rated the top prospect in their annual Top 20 ranking of each minor league level and league. Here is the link, for non-subscribers like me: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/264877.html There is further info for subscribers in links there; please feel free to share if you have a subscription.

    Reading between the lines on the one sentence that they had on Villalona - they noted that he was only 16 for much of the season - I recall that he hit pretty well for the season, like nearly .800 OPS, while playing against largely a crop of 18 year olds, though there were also college aged prospects there as well.

    According to Baseball Reference, the average OPS for the league is .727. That's about a 110 OPS+, which is OK (and not positionally adjusted so that would lower it further probably since 3B is an offensive position), but not great, until you consider that he's only 16 years old playing against 18-22 year olds. And the average age of pitchers in the league is 19.9 years.

    Thanks again, Boof, for catching that, much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete

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