Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Giants Moves Afoot: Ishikawa and other prospect talk

According to the crack reporting of Andy Baggarly, apparently the Giants are looking to boost the offense by making some changes. The most significant change would be replacing John Bowker, who has been very cold for a long while offensively, with Travis Ishikawa, who has been hot since the start of the season, and white hot since he joined Fresno a little while ago. Ishikawa just went through a recent stretch where he hit seven homers in 33 AB, and he has hit .317 with 16 homers in 167 AB since joining Fresno.

This following blurb was in the article about Ishikawa:

Ishikawa was once on the verge of flaming out as a prospect and there were
times the Giants questioned his commitment. But farm director Fred Stanley said
the organization didn't light a fire under him.

"He did it himself,'' Stanley said. "Some people take a little longer maturity wise. He's driving the same pitches that he fouled off last year. He looked like he waited a long time just to see if the pitch was a strike. Now he's confident enough to know he can
expand the zone, attack pitches and drive them out of the ballpark.''


I had heard that before, that he was thinking too much when going to his AB. Nice to see that he appears to have finally figured that out. Then again, with Ortmeier, then Bowker, plus Villalona, appearing to be above him on the organizational totem pole, that should have been fire enough to get him moving, without a good season this year, he was probably going to wash out as a flamed out prospect after the season. Much like Bowker last season, something finally clicked and he started whacking the ball with more authority, more frequently.

Prospect Talking

Andy Baggarly has a great blog where he posts stuff, like his recent talk with Fred "Chicken" Stanley, who is our new farm director, taking over for long-time chief, Jack Hiatt. There was a lot of good stuff about some of our top prospects:
  • Sandoval: Ready for the big leagues now. Crushing balls from both sides of the plate... No longer taking ground balls at third base; that experiment is over. Very competent at first base, though, and has some skills behind the plate. A very strong arm, too. Quote: "... once there is a need, he'll be here."
  • Ishikawa: Really turned it up a notch this season. Playing with more confidence and appears driven. The organization didn't need to challenge him; he did it himself. He was too indecisive last year and let pitches get too deep on him while trying to figure out if they were strikes. Thus, he whiffed or fouled off hittable pitches. This year, he’s driving them out of the park. Most of his shots are going to right-center, though he hit a ball out to left-center at Round Rock last week. Quote: "...but he's ready if they need him."
  • Noonan: He might jump to AA next season, skipping San Jose. He already has the best strike zone discipline of any hitter in the system. They expected maybe .250 but he's hitting .283 this season, plus 26 SB in 29 SBA, very good success rate for minors. Great that he has been able to grind it out in his first pro season.
  • Tanner: Had a shoulder issue but is back on the mound. He’s building up arm strength again. Got away from throwing strikes because he got hit hard in the Cal League. That’s typical because pitchers stress over results and those can be warped in some of those hitter-friendly Southern Division parks. (Trust me, the wind has never blown out of Wrigley Field like it does at Lancaster.) Quote to note: “These kids just have to learn you’ve got to be a strike thrower to pitch in the big leagues.”
  • Alderson: What a great debut season despite a challenging assignment at High-A San Jose. He works fast, hits spots and disrupts the hitter’s rhythm. He always seems to make quality pitches. Competing extremely well. (This is not from Stanley, but I’ve heard others say that Alderson really reminds of Derek Lowe. Throws a heavy, heavy ball with great command. If he adds a bit more velocity, and the Giants think he will, he could have Kevin Brown stuff.) He’ll finish the season in San Jose and probably take instructional league off.
  • Bumgarner: “He’s a special kid.” Bumgarner is throwing strikes with his fastball, which sits at 94 mph and is known to come in a tick faster at times. He’s working on a changeup. He’s got a little deception where guys don’t pick the ball up on him, which makes it tough when he buries them with an inside fastball. His slider down and in on right-handers is very tough. Like Alderson, Bumgarner will complete his full season at Augusta and probably take instructional league off.
  • Gillaspie: There was talk of moving him to second base when they drafted him. But obviously, the organizational depth chart is much thinner at third. They’ll let him get his feet on the ground before they make any heavy evaluations.

Good stuff to hear about these prospects. Exciting to know that Sandoval and Ishikawa is ready. Particularly given the above about bringing him up and taking 1B from Bowker. Noonan too, he's gotten too little notice, me included, because of Villalona, but he's been holding his own as an 18 year old much younger than most players there. He could be one season away from the majors at this pace, he could be a September call-up next year, being in AA.

Tanner, I was wondering what happened to him, good to know it was injury that caused his poor production this year, but bad to know it was an injury, that's not a good sign for the future, particularly since it is a shoulder injury. Got to keep your fingers crossed with him. Alderson, wow, comparison with Kevin Brown, Brown was totally dominating when he was on. Bumgarner, double wow, great run down of his positives. He is coming around very nicely, I'll be surprised if he didn't jump two levels to AA like they might do with Noonan. Gillaspie, nothing much there, just hope they stick with him at 3B for now.

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