- Ehire Adrianza
- Tim Alderson
- Madison Bumgarner
- Brandon Crawford
- Wendell Fairley
- Conor Gillaspie
- Travis Ishikawa
- Julio Izturis
- Roger Kieschnick
- Joe Martinez
- Nick Noonan
- Kevin Pucetas
- Buster Posey
- Rafael Rodriguez
- Ryan Rohlinger
- Sergio Romo
- Hector Sanchez
- Henry Sosa
- Angel Villalona
2009 Big 6 Giants Prospect
- Madison Bumgarner: On top of how stellar he did in 2009, he suffered through 3 horrible starts before returning to his old mechanics and generating a 0.90 ERA the rest of the season. He led the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. All at age 18, in a league where players average 22 years of age. I don't see how they don't jump him up two levels to AA and pair him up with Alderson there in Connecticut. As far as I'm concerned, he's ready for the majors but it won't hurt him much to have another professional season under his belt plus push the start of his career more into when the Giants have rebuilt than while still rebuilding. For comparision, Jonathan Sanchez when he did so great in Augusta in 2005 when he was 22 years old, rose quickly to the majors in 2006, as he dominated in brief stints in AA and AAA before making the majors for good. And his stats there was not quite as good as Bumgarner except for strikeouts, Bumgarner was better or equal by most measures:
Sanchez pitched 125.2 IP with 122 hits, 39 walks and 166 strikeouts in A-ball at age 22 and was brought up to the majors the next season because he was so dominating.
Bumgarner pitched 141.2 IP with 111 hits, 21 walks and 164 strikeouts in A-ball at age 18. Better H/9, BB/9, K/BB, WHIP, and ERA, plus had a lot less experience. He’s basically ready for the majors in comparison to what Sanchez did in a similar league and level.
- Buster Posey: Buster would probably grab the first spot for almost any team in the majors, I think he is that good. But Bumgarner was too dominating, much like how Lincecum was dominating when he was briefly in the minors, while Posey is still raw in terms of catching defense, that I had to make him first. But Buster is definitely a close second, or 1B to Bumgarner's 1A.
He did a lot to earn such a high ranking. Winning the Golden Spike award (third in Giants history after Will Clark and Tim Lincecum; nice company indeed), among other awards established that the experts think a lot of him. In limited play so far, he has not disappointed, hitting everywhere he has played professionally so far, fulfilling the high expectations that he is going to be an excellent hitter in the professional ranks. The experts say that he won't have the power he showed in college but should hit 15-20 per year, which is good for a catcher. And while he's a catcher now, he was formerly a shortstop and thus could be like a Craig Biggio, capable of playing multiple up-the-middle positions. He would be a plus hitter at any up-the-middle position (but not a corner position, though).
He should be assigned to AA because he did well when he was playing in the Hawaiian Winter League, which Bobby Evans compared to AA level talent, plus he is comparable to Matt Wieters who probably should have been in AA to start this past season. In addition, the promotion of former catcher Steve Decker as the manager of Connecticut cinches that too, as Pablo Sandoval got his help in San Jose, and he should be coaching Posey full-time on learning the nuances of the catching position.
Like most Giants prospects, Posey will probably stay in Connecticut all season, as the Giants seem to like to keep their prospects in one spot in their first full season (unless absolutely forced, in the case of Lincecum) plus he seems to need a lot more experience behind the plate, including calling games, and learning the position. Also, he would get to know and handle two pitchers who he'll see a lot of in the future, Bumgarner and Alderson.
- Angel Villalona: Here he is, living away from home for the first time for an extended period, living in a land where he cannot communicate very well with the people around the area, only 17 years old for the season (turning 18 late in the season), which is a year younger than any other player in the league, and still hitting above the league average OPS and knocking out 17 homers, good for a tie for 12th in the league overall, plus he got better as the season went on, finally hitting .308/.362/.529/.892 with 5 HR in 104 AB (21 AB/HR; about a 30 HR per year pace) in the last month of the season, and learning a new defensive position at 1B while still taking balls at 3B during practice. The experts talk has been that he has 30-40 HR potential, so he seems to be fulfilling that at the end of the season.
Yet, while he was #1 last season in most rankings, he has "fallen" to #3 this season. But that is a function of the other players earning their higher rankings than reflecting poorly on Villalona. While he did disappoint early on, one can credit the newness of the situation for him, both locationally and positionally (playing 1B for first time), and he quickly found his bearing and started doing better. Still, while he did really well for a 17 year old playing against 22 year olds on average, it wasn't like he was dominating them either, at least not until the end of the season (which could have been a function of the better pitchers getting promoted as well) and certainly nothing like what Bumgarner and Posey did.
He will probably be promoted to Advanced A San Jose and it sounds like they will play him at 1B again. I was hoping that they at least split his time playing 1B and 3B, because supposedly he's capable of playing both right now, so that he can keep up his skills in game time situations. The good news is that he was already considered a plus defender at 3B prior to the season and perhaps the Giants are hoping to have him learn to be equally good defensively at 1B, so that he could play either position with plus defense, depending on need, once he reached the majors.
- Tim Alderson: Only 19 years old, one of the youngest pitchers in the California League, where the average age of a player is 23 years of age, he had the 4th most strikeouts and the best ERA of any pitcher with over 16 starts or over 100 IP. Normally that would probably rank him higher than 4th, but Bumgarner outdid him, Posey had an incredible season in college, and Villalona could be a monster in the majors and showed a strong hint of that at age 17.
The caveat on Alderson is that his season was mostly driven by his success at home: 100.0 IP with a FIP of 2.79, .218 AVG, 0.94 WHIP, 1.35 BB/9, 8.55 K/9, and 0.18 HR/9 versus on the road: 49.0 IP with a FIP of 4.49, .266 AVG, 1.33 WHIP, 3.49 BB/9, 5.33 K/9, 0.37 HR/9. Research has shown that San Jose's Municipal Stadium has one of the worse outlier for stadiums in terms of strikeouts in all of the minor leagues, which hitters like John Bowker attested to the poor background for hitters there. This puts him behind Villalona, I believe.
Still, he had a marvelous season, nonetheless, and will be promoted from San Jose most probably to Connecticut as I don't see the Giants feeling the need to move him up faster since he'll be only 20 for next season plus they need to overlap his prime years with our current players already up in the majors, so that he'll be ready to take over should we need to move or lose anybody, plus have his career start once we are competitors again which would extend the years we can be contenders; this same logic goes for Bumgarner as well, except that he's obviously ready for AA.
Both will probably just move up one level at a time going forward unless either one pitches like Bumgarner did in 2008 at a higher level. If either of them is that ready, I think the Giants would make the move and trade somebody already in the rotation to bolster the lineup, most likely Sanchez.
- Rafael Rodriguez: Just one phrase says it all, "5 Tools." Well, that and $2.55M, the largest bonus ever given a Latin American hitter. He has raw power coming out of his 6' 5", 198 pound 16 year old body. Above average speed combined with an above average arm makes him the right future right-fielder for AT&T. Comparisions with Vladimir Guererro and Andres Galarraga have been offered.
However, the Achilles Heal for this Adonis is that while he has a lot going for him, the one thing suspect with him is that some scouts are not sold on his hitting mechanics and his overall feel for hitting. That could be the weak link in an otherwise stellar package for a position player. Still, obviously, the Giants scouts think otherwise and hence the big bonus, even bigger than for Villalona and as noted, the largest given a Latin American position player ever. Five Tools, big bonus, good comparisions, these all put him as the fifth Top prospect for the 2009 Giants.
- Travis Ishikawa: This was truly the hardest one to pick for me. A lot of players appeared worthy of this spot for one reason or another. But Ishikawa had a monster year in 2008, an overall MLE season of .252/.331/.458/.789 with 18 HR in 421 AB (23 AB/HR) and 49 BB/88 K, which is pretty good for him. It was even better in actual production: .299/.377/.578/.955 with 24 HR in 405 AB (17 AB/HR) and 49 BB/81 K. Plus, he is known for his defense. However, he still had a weakness against LHP, hitting only .206/.333/.308/.641 in 107 AB with only 2 HR vs. .332/.394/.674/1.068 in 298 AB with 22 HR (it looks even worse in MLE).
Still it was a monster year where he struggled greatly in April, but busted out in May and had close to a 1.000 OPS in the minors after April, with 23 HR in 321 AB (14 AB/HR). In addition, once he made the majors, he hit a nice .274/.337/.432/.769 with 3 HR in 95 AB (32 AB/HR or roughly a 20 HR season) and 100 OPS+.
As noted, I had a hard time choosing this spot. Ishikawa has had huge ups and downs during his minor league career and still strikes out too much for my tastes. However, nobody in the minors had a better year out of the remaining prospects I was comparing him against. His MLE alone was better than what most of the other position prospects did without adjustment downward to MLE in the minors.
Among pitchers, while a lot of pitchers did well, none of them were really considered that good a prospect, which for me meant that they really need to show that they have the ability to do well at least in AAA. The best rated pitcher NOT above Ishikawa is Henry Sosa and he had a so-so season in only Advanced A. Clayton Tanner is also up there but only did OK in Advanced A. Waldis Joaquin similarly. Nick Pereira got up to AAA but didn't do that well there. Joe Martinez did well in AA, but he couldn't even beat 7.0 K/9 there and didn't make the Baseball America Top 30 last season.
So Ishikawa not only outdid the rest of the prospects but has the potential to be a 25-30 HR hitter at 1B with great defense and OK to good OBP. He's horrible against LHP but JT Snow had a long career with a similar offensive contribution plus Ishikawa profiles better as a power hitter, which I think is necessary for a left-hander to hit homers at AT&T. Plus he made great progress in reducing his strikeouts in 2008, previously he would strike out about a third of the time (<>