Baseball Prospectus Top 11
1. Buster Posey, C
2. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
3. Zach Wheeler, RHP
4. Dan Runzler, LHP
5. Ehire Adrianza, SS
6. Rafael Rodriguez, RF
7. Thomas Neal, OF
8. Roger Kieschnick, OF
9. Tommy Joseph, C
10. Francisco Peguero, OF
11. Chris Dominguez, 3B
He also listed these other prospects:
12. Jason Stoffel, RHP: "stuff ... misses bats"; "could prove to be a steal"
13. Nick Noonan, 2B: "love the tools" but slow to develop
14. Darren Ford, OF: "too little, too late"?
15. Brandon Crawford, SS: "plus glove" "questions about the bat"
Can't really argue with the first three. And I respect Kevin Goldstein's work, I have liked what I have seen before from him. But I'm not sure why Thomas Neal is down so low (unfortunately, I don't subscribe, so I don't know why he was placed down so low). He really had a breakout type of year. I suppose a large part of it is his strikeout rate not being as good as you want to see from a hitter. But it was not that bad either and he walks a lot to compensate for it, as well as hit for HR power.
Perhaps he didn't want to jump on the bandwagon after just one good year, particularly since his BABIP was so high (oops, didn't catch that before, my bad). However, as I noted, his strikeout rate was greatly affected by his home park, Municipal Stadium in San Jose. His strikeout rate was good on the road and he walked more times than he struck out too. So while the BABIP is high there as well, the fact is that he has had a high BABIP his whole minor league career (.353) and hitters tend to regress to his own level of BABIP, not to the overall .300 that pitchers regress to (which is the general talent level of hitters).
Still, the MLE for his road numbers are not the best either, so that is a sign that he still have some development to do still, and he benefited from hitting more homers at home than on the road, which is a bad sign regarding his power. Richmond will be a great test to see which Neal is the real Neal.
And maybe he thinks that Runzler is great closer material, that could justify putting him above Neal. And if Adrianza can hit as well as his plate discipline while facing much older competition suggests while paired with his great defense, he would be a very valuable SS. And Rafael Rodriguez is another prospect I'll write about soon, so perhaps it is just a sign that the Giants farm system is a bit loaded now.
However, none of this is accurate because Goldstein rates all of them as only a Three-Star prospect. He's the expert, so what do I know, but it seems to me that they are at least Four-Star prospects. Runzler with the way he pitched could be a great closer, that is certainly Four-Star potential. Adrianza, I can understand, he dropped in performance in 2009 but still I thought he did well enough to not negate what was thought before. RafRod, too, I thought did well enough to suggest more of a potential, but I can see being on the fence with him since he is still young (but he wasn't so hesistant with Villalona). And Neal, I went over.
And the one prospect they do provide free, Buster Posey, he feeds into the hysteria that broke out when the Giants talked about playing Posey some at 1B. Still, he did note that Posey is staying at catcher, but the Giants were only talking about playing him at 1B when he is being rested from playing catcher, as a long-term plan to keep him in the lineup most of the season.
That would suggest that he could basically platoon with a left-handed 1B, like Travis Ishikawa or John Bowker, gettting rests at C when a LHP is the starter, allowing the Giants to benefit from a platoon style hitter (which Ishikawa is more like, Bowker not as much but still not that great either).
I think Nick Noonan is going to surprise people this season. He'll be one year more experienced and he was showing good/great plate discipline in his last two months of the 2009 season. He should also benefit from hitting in a neutral park like Richmond's vs. San Jose's poor park for hitters, which also hurt him. He also showed more power on the road, so he should be in double digits in 2010. He should be ready to take over when Sanchez's contract is over.
I would end with some comments he made in BP's Top 100 prospect list:
- #9 - Posey: "natural ability to hit .300 with 15-20 home runs a year."
- #20 - Bumgarner: "His ability to succeed with average velocity is a tribute to everything else he brings to the table. If the velocity comes back, and it should, he'll make this ranking look conservative" (FYI, probably the lowest I have seen anywhere).
- #88 - Wheeler: "He's a 6-foot-4 pure athlete who already touches 95 mph with command and tons of movement, so it will be the development of his secondary pitches that dictates his future."
They covered the Giants prospect a while ago and maybe I wrote on it back then, but here it is:
1. Buster Posey, c
2. Madison Bumgarner, lhp
3. Zack Wheeler, rhp
4. Thomas Neal, of
5. Dan Runzler, lhp
6. Tommy Joseph, c
7. Roger Kieschnick, of
8. Ehire Adrianza, ss
9. Brandon Crawford, ss
10. Francisco Peguero, of
11. Nick Noonan, 2b
12. Rafael Rodriguez, of
13. Darren Ford, of
14. Waldis Joaquine, rhp
15. Jason Stoffel, rhp
And I would note that Angel Villalona was placed 30th with the comment that if he can resume his career - iffy at the moment given the murder trial and his visa being taken away by the U.S. - he would be one of the top five prospects in the system.
One comment that I found really interesting was this one about Conor Gillaspie: "Gillaspie's advanced knowledge of the strike zone actually might have worked against him. 'Unfortunately for him, it was a lot better than the umpires, ' San Jose manager Andy Skeels said. 'The bat was literally taken out of his hands. He easily cold've walked 30 more times.' " And he walked 58 times and struck out 68 times, both good. Still 100 ISO is nothing good, not enough for a 3B, but he could be OK at 2B, which I've seen some say he might end up at.
In BA's Top 100 Prospect list, these Giants were ranked:
- #7 - Posey: Lots of great commentary, too much too put here, but here are some snippets to whet your appetite: "draws legitimate comparisons to Joe Mauer"; "tremendous baseball athleticism"; "mental acuity is off the charts and he's a leader on the field"; "should be a perennial all-star"
- #14 - Bumgarner: "No. 1 starter potential, and his stuff would paly against big leaguers now."
- #49 - Wheeler: "projects as a front-line starter in the big leagues"; "is more advanced than Madison Bumgarner was coming out of high school"
- #96 - Neal: "became a more complete hitter in 2009"; "bat speed to turn on quality fastballs and shows extra-base power from pole to pole"
1. Buster Posey
2. Madison Bumgarner
3. Zach Wheeler
4. Tommy Joseph
5. Henry Sosa
6. Conor Gillaspie
7. Thomas Neal
8. Rafael Rodriguez
9. Angel Villalona
10. Nick Noonan
11. Brandon Crawford
12. Roger Kieschnick
13. Francisco Peguero
14. Ehire Adrianza
15. Wendell Fairley
Deric MacKamey joined the Cardinals, so two Baseball HQ writers took over for him. I still recommend getting this book, cheap on Amazon, and if you buy it from them, they give you some extra goodies, excel datasets.
I'm surprised by how high Henry Sosa and Conor Gillaspie is, but I suppose if that comment about his zone awareness is 100% correct, then Gillaspie should get better as he rises and the umpires are better, and the pitchers would be forced to give him better pitches to hit as he will have more hitters counts with more balls being called. Plus, he also did a lot better on the road in terms of striking out and walking relative to that, almost 1:1. Given how hard it is to not strikeout in San Jose, that is usually where the hitter does worse, but he actually hit better on the road in 2009, because his BABIP was so high at home. Given his poor speed, his road BABIP is probably closer to his true talent level. Plus, according to them, he has been moved to the OF, due to his poor defense. He could be another EME redux.
For Sosa, they still believe in his plus fastball. Otherwise, I'm OK with their Top 15, though I would note that Wendell Fairley did not even make BA's Top 30, let alone Top 15. They love his speed, which is one of the best around (5 pluses in their rating system), though he did not make their Top Speed list of prospects. They think his good bat speed and average power will make him a good CF.
I really like Rafael Rodriguez and so do they. They rate him as a future starting CF! And with plus plus power, plus speed and plus defense, with "true 5-tool potential". His power should develop as he develops (he's only 17 now)
With two authors, they have two Top 100 Prospect lists:
- #4 - Posey
- #13 - Bumgarner
- #80 - Wheeler
- #4 - Bumgarner: one of the few to rate him over Posey
- #10 - Posey
- #70 - Wheeler
- Posey: "better than advertised"; "Pure hitter"; "good pop and bat speed"; "at times tries to pull everything"
- Bumgarner: "#1 starter"; "good movement and easy velocity"
- Wheeler: "#1 starter"; "plus fastball and slider"; "Good mechanics and generates easy heat"; "tremendous long-term upside".