Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Information on Prospects: Posey, Sandoval, Bumgarner

Got some news on a number of prospects.

BA Jim Callis High On Giants

Jim Callis of Baseball America listed his Top 10 NL prospects for 2009 and both Bumgarner and Posey are on the list, in fact, was in the Top 4:
  • Madison Bumgarner was 2nd behind Pedro Alvarez: "Showed much more polish than expected in first full season, led minors with 1.46 ERA."
  • Buster Posey was 4th behind Colby Rasmus: "Has the tools to become the NL's version of Joe Mauer." Wow, that would be great! Mauer has been a great catcher, both defensively and offensively, with lack of HR power his only negative point.

BA Info on Venezuela League

The prospect notebook, which covers just a few prospects, includes information on two of the Giants prospects, Jesus Guzman (3B/2B) and Pablo Sandoval (C/1B/3B):

  • Jesus Guzman is a recent free agent signing. He was with the A's minor league team in 2008 and did great, plus the A's wanted to re-sign him, but apparently they were unwilling to invite him to the big league camp this spring training, whereas the Giants offered that. It notes that "Guzman is a legitimate prospect who has pulverized pitchers in Venzuela." You have to take the stats with a grain of salt because the run environment rose from an average of 4.3 runs per game in 2007 to 5.3 runs per game in 2008, a huge improvement. Still, he batted .349/.435/.616, ranking second in OPS, fifth in OBP, and third in slugging, plus led the league in extra-base hits, runs scored, hits, and ranked third in home runs. He also recorded 67 RBIs, breaking the previous league record of 65 RBIs set in 1973-74. They note that he "is still a work in progess. With Midland, Guzman made nine errors in 49 games at third base and eight errors in 31 games at second. But the bat? He's making believers out of those who see him." They quote one scout: "That kid, out of nowhere, has made himself into a major league hitter. I don't think he's going to go play right now - he's still in the learning process. But he's got maturity at the plate and more patience than he used to have... now he just looks awesome."
  • Pablo Sandoval was the only player with a higher OPS than Guzman in Venezuela. Sandoval hit .396/.449/677, mostly at 1B with a few games at third. Sandoval led the league in batting average and slugging, was fourth in OBP and tied for fourth with 12 homers. He noted that "Sandoval offers a hard-to-find combination of a player who is difficult to strike out but who also comes with a serious power stroke from both sides of the plate. While many power hitters have longer swings, Sandoval's short stroke and ability to hit all types of pitches allow him to hit for average, and his strength gives him the power to hit the ball out of the park to all fields."

Pablo Lights Up the Clubhouse

Joan Ryan, formerly with the Examiner/Chronicle, has been writing in a blog while also serving as media consultant to the team. Since right around Christmas, she has been writing in the blog, Inside the Giants Clubhouse. I always enjoyed her writing at the SF papers and was bummed that she had left sports reporting to write on more general matters, and so I am excited by her return to reporting on the Giants with much improved access to the clubhouse now that she's an employee rather than a reporter.

Just the other day, she wrote on Pablo Sandoval in her blog. It was wide-ranging, covering his life history and circumstances, and included information about him on the Giants:

Sandoval, as you know, lit up the clubhouse as soon as he arrived. He is one of
those people who make you smile just to look at them. He carried himself like a
veteran on the field - particularly, of course, at the plate -- but in the
clubhouse and even during pregame warm-ups, he was like a kid who sneaked in
through a hole in the fence and can't believe no one has tossed him out yet.
Everyone loves him. A few weeks after Sandoval's arrival, Zito already was
calling him his favorite player.

Amazingly, he lived a middle-class life much like any American, but just loved sports and pursued his dream hard like any of us would have had we any baseball talent. He grew up idolizing Omar Vizquel, playing shortstop. According to Bochy, he was playing 3B when the Giants signed him (so he has had more experience at the hot corner than just playing for us briefly).

Lucky for him, he had an older brother who was already a professional ballplayer, else his parents might not have let him sign with the Giants at 16, as they stressed education rather than sports. His two other older brothers are in other professions, one a police officer, the other a criminal attorney.

He was basically raised by his grandmother, as both his parents were busying working, his father in management and his mother running a company that sells electronics. He has a wife and one-year-old daughter, Yoleadny Carolina.

Non-Roster Invites to Big League Spring Training Camp

Buster Posey was among the non-roster invitees to the big league spring training camp. The team considers the highly touted catcher to be on the "fast track" and feel that he could learn from exposure to our roving catching instructor Brian Harper, Major League bullpen catcher Bill Hayes, and manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher. The aforementioned Jesus Guzman is also among them, as noted above as the reason he joined the Giants. Kevin Pucetas, the most spectacular pitcher of the year in 2007, will also be participating in his first Major League camp. He has a three year professional record of 32-7 with a 2.35 ERA. Two other familiar faces are Scott McClain and Ivan Ochoa.

Other invitees (first six with major league experience) are:
  • Francis Beltran, RHP
  • Brandon Medders, RHP
  • Justin Miller, RHP
  • Eli Whiteside, C
  • Josh Phelps, 1B/OF
  • Andres Torres, OF
  • Todd Jennings, C (fourth camp)
  • Jake Wald, IF (third camp)
  • Jackson Williams, C (second camp in row)
  • Ronnie Ray, RHP (first camp)
  • Matt Downs, 2B/3B (first camp)
Miller was a pretty good reliever in recent years, so he could bolster the bullpen in 2009. Phelps has been a big hitter in the minors and looking for a chance. He could platoon with Ishikawa or Bowker at 1B in 2009. Matt Downs has risen fast up the farm system and has bit of HR power. He is a fanboy favorite; I like him too, just not as much, though I am hopeful.

1 comment:

  1. In a recent ESPN chat, Callis, when asked "5 years from now, do you want posey, alvarez, or alonso for your franchise?" he answered "Alvarez. Though I'm tempted by Posey because catchers are so hard to find."

    In another chat, someone asked what Brian Sabean should ask for if he were to trade Bumgarner or Alderson and Callis replied, "I wouldn't deal Bumgarner unless the deal was one-sided in my favor. I'd want a potential middle-of-the-order hitter if I'm putting Alderson in a deal." That would pretty much sum up my stance as well, I don't think we should be dealing them otherwise.

    He also noted that "the Giants have an elite system."

    About Sandoval and the Top 100 if he were eligible, John Manuel noted: "For me, he'd a top 50 prospect, probably would have fallen in the 40-50 range for me. He's unconventional enough to have flown under the radar a bit, and also unconventional enough that I have a shred or two of doubt about him. No scout I've talked to thinks he'll defend well enough to be an everyday starter as a catcher, despite what his minor league numbers say. But I think he'll hit quite well enough to be a regular at first base. "

    He also noted that "while I believe in Posey's bat, I think he'll be an average big league hitter and very good defender."

    For his NL Top 10, Manuel has Burgarner as third and Posey as ninth.

    Asked what he would do if Villalona, Posey, Gillaspie, and Sandoval all make it, who gets moved: "Posey's going to catch -- they didn't pay him $6.2 million not to catch, and his value is in his athleticism and ability to catch, throw and lead from behind the plate. He'll hit more than enough, he's got a lot of Russell Martin traits and can be that kind of player if not a shade better as a hitter. You've got three to make two at the other spots, and Sandoval has a big head start on the other two. My gut tells me the Giants believe less in Sandoval than the other two and might eventually deal him, but more likely, one of that trio will not make it in any significant way. If I had to pick one, I'd pick Gillaspie, who also may not be good enough defensively at 3b and would be most likely to move to LF, but all three are legit hitting prospects."

    Johnathan Mayo, the minor league expert of MLB.com (he turned me on to Tim Lincecum in the draft), got some scout comments on Villalona: "Seen: Late May. Seen over five-game stretch. ... Extremely strong, can hit ball out without difficulty. Easy, pull stroke through zone. Kills mistakes. Plus, plus raw power. Little hitch in swing with hole on inside. Some trouble with offspeed stuff away, but showed improvement. Good arm at 1B, soft hands. Must watch weight."

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