Friday, February 10, 2012

Prospecting the 2012 Giants Prospects: Checking the Lists

Being of sound mind and cheap genes, I wanted to point out some free analysis from name sources on the Giants top prospects, plus run through the Minor League Baseball Analyst book's list, which comes from Ron Shandler's fine group of analysts, and which I just received in the mail yesterday.   I will provide comments as they percolate up in my foggy mind, still can't shake the cough or recover fully yet.

Baseball Prospectus Future Shock Giants Top 11

You can access their free content here.  They don't usually make it free, but randomly chose a few teams to be free.  Plus, they have now opened up their archives and anything over a year old is now available for free, so you can get his lists from prior years, though 2011's is still embargoed for another few days.  Here is Kevin Goldstein's list:

System in 20 Words or Less: They have just one elite prospect, but the 2011 draft created the potential for more of them.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Gary Brown, OF
Three-Star Prospects
2. Joe Panik, SS
3. Heath Hembree, RHP
4. Tommy Joseph, C/1B
5.  Kyle Crick, RHP
6. Andrew Susac, C
7. Eric Surkamp, LHP
8. Francisco Peguero, OF
Two-Star Prospects
9. Mike Kickham, LHP
10. Josh Osich, LHP
11. Charlie Culberson, SS
Nine More
12. Hector Sanchez, C: He’s a plus defender, but he possesses few secondary skills at the plate.
13. Ehire Adrianza, SS: This defensive wizard has had injury problems, and questions about his bat remain.
14. Jesus Galindo, OF: He’s an absolute burner without power, but could compete for minor-league stolen-base titles.
15. Joan Gregorio, RHP: A raw Dominican arm, he’s also 6-foot-7 with power stuff.
16. Brett Pill, UT: His ability to hit and play multiple positions could make him an ideal backup.
17. Ricky Oropesa, 1B: This 2011 third-round pick has massive raw power, but is a one-dimensional slugger.
18. Jarrett Parker, OF: Though he's athletic and toolsy, Parker's showing in the Cal League last year disappointed.
19. Hector Correa, RHP: This reliever has an outside shot at reaching the big leagues this year, but he has a seventh-inning ceiling.
20. Conor Gillaspie, 3B: His improved approach in 2011 raised his stock, but he lacks the power of a corner infielder.

Go there to read, he has a full description of the Top 11 there.

ogc Thoughts

I think this list is a typical list one would see for the 2012 Giants.  The first name to jump out to me was Mike Kickham, at #9.  He did not show up on either of the other lists.  It was noted that he made "impressive progress during the year", as "he pitched well and improved as the season wore on."  "Kickham has plus low-90s velocity and became more comfortable with adding sink to the pitch and generating ground balls in the second half."  However, "Kickham's secondary pitches lag behind."

He also had Osich #10.  It was noted that he was first round talent until his elbow problems dropped him, where the Giants selected him in the sixth round.  "Osich has big-time velocity for a southpaw; he sits at 92-95 mph and touches 98.  He has a plus changeup with plenty of depth and fade, and a fast-paced, aggressive style of pitching."  Could be a power reliever or a third starter if his health holds up.

He's the only one of the three to mention Brett Pill, who he had at 16th (he gave 9 extra for a total of 20, but only short sentence blurbs).  He noted Pill's "ability to hit and play multiple positions could make him an ideal backup."

Lastly, I thought for sure that Panik and Hembree would be 4 Star prospects, so that was disappointing to me. Prospects Giants Top 20

You can access the article here and the descriptions of each prospect here.

1 Gary Brown OF 2013
2 Francisco Peguero OF 2012
3 Heath Hembree RHP 2012
4 Eric Surkamp LHP 2012
5 Tommy Joseph C 2014
6 Charlie Culberson 2B 2013
7 Joe Panik 2B 2013
8 Ehire Adrianza SS 2014
9 Chris Dominguez 3B 2013
10 Conor Gillaspie 3B 2012
11 Clayton Blackburn RHP 2015
12 Joan GregorioRHP 2015
13 Hector Sanchez C 2012
14 Jesus Galindo OF 2015
15 Andrew Susac C 2014
16 Kyle Crick RHP 2015
17 Ricky Oropesa 1B 2014
18 Adam Duvall 3B  2014
19 Josh Osich  LHP 2014
20 Jarrett Parker OF 2014

ogc Thoughts

Again, most of the list looks like it makes sense, but, wow, Panik is ranked 7th on their list (though he was placed 3rd in the article, but I'll go with the full ranking list).  He noted that many didn't see him as a first rounder, so I assume that he was one of those (FYI, Perfect Games thought he had risen enough to be the first MI selected, and John Sickels, while he had him lower, thought that it was not a stretch for the Giants to do that).  And there are a number of names that dropped down lower than I would think:  Andrew Susac was ranked #15 (he was #6 and #4 in the other two rankings examined here) and Kyle Crick #16 (#5 and #8).

On positives, Mayo says don't be surprised if Brown gets to SF sometime this season.  And he notes that #2 Peguero has "tools galore".  His description of #3 Heath Hembree reminds me of Wilson:  "Hembree has the power arsenal to continue in the closing role he's been filling, with an overpowering fastball that will reach the upper 90's on the radar gun."  And he has Clayton Blackburn #11 (BP did not even mention him):  "He's polished, especially for a high schooler, and has four pitches, highlighted by a good sinking fastball, all of which he can throw for strikes."

Minor League Baseball Analyst Top 15

While not free, I have to put in a plug for my favorite prospect book (real cheap on Amazon).  I like that they consider age relative to level when doing their analysis, I am strongly in that camp.

  1. Gary Brown, OF
  2. Francisco Peguero, OF
  3. Joe Panik, 2B
  4. Andrew Susac, C
  5. Heath Hembree, RHP
  6. Ehire Adrianza, SS
  7. Eric Surkamp, LHP
  8. Kyle Crick, RHP
  9. Tommy Joseph, C
  10. Charlie Culberson, 2B
  11. Hector Sanchez, C
  12. Jesus Galindo, OF
  13. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
  14. Jarrett Parker, OF
  15. Joan Gregorio, RHP

ogc Thoughts

Again, no real big surprises, for the most part, every list has the same core group of prospects but the order changes depending on what they value more as well as their opinion of that particular prospect.  For me, reading the description of each is the value add, as I get their opinion on each player's strengths and weaknesses.  Nothing that really catches my eye here.

Other than that most ranks have Peguero higher than I would put him.

If I have time and inclination, I will put together my Big 6 Prospect List during spring training, after my mind has had time to ruminate on all the info and let it all mesh together.  I go with 6 because, to me, prospect watching is more about the guys who look like they are going to make it sooner or later.  I will again quote El Lefty Malo, who was quoting, if I recall right, Kevin Goldstein of BP:  most systems at any time have on average two who will become starters and two who will become bench/bullpen players.

I think that illuminates how hard it really is for any prospect to make the majors, plus put the lie to the idea that a team should be able to put together a team solely from the farm system.  Remember, often the two starters are on the prospect list for at least a couple of years, if not up to 4-6 years.  Even if a team is really able to generate 2 starters and 2 bench players each and every season, a team has 14 starters - 8 position, 5 starting pitchers, 1 closer - and that would take a minimum of 7 seasons for any team to fill up their 25 man roster with farm players.  Minimum.

Thus all the commentary and complaints about how the Giants don't know how to produce position players misses the fact that it is almost impossible for a team to build within, and thus a team should focus on building its core competencies first, which as I've been saying, is having a strong dominating starting rotation (as shown by PQS) and a good to great closer.  Once that is done, then you can switch focus to filling position players, though along the way, if a position player is the BPA (like Posey), you go for him too.

And that is basically what has happened, the Giants focused all their first round picks on mostly pitching, particularly since Tidrow joined the staff, until they had enough, then they started picking up a lot of position players, particularly with their early round picks and particularly prospects who were once first round worthy but for one reason or another fell when the draft arrived.  But it has worked out for Giants fans like Brandon Crawford and Andrew Susac, who got selected by their boyhood team.   And it has worked out for the Giants, as they have a boatload of good position players, some already up in Posey, Sandoval, Belt, some arriving soon, in Brown, Panik, Peguero, Joseph, and maybe Crawford and/or Adrianza, plus still possibly Culberson, Parker, and Noonan.

As DrB has been going through on his site, covering his Giants Top 50, this is exciting times for Giants prospect hounds.  Not that long ago, guys who are ranked in the teens and 20's or lower would have been among the Giants top 10 lists.  For example, I think Bochy the Younger would have been a Top 10 Giants prospect back in the fallow days.  John Barr took a good scouting system and put turbos in, seemingly overnight, I hope we can keep him around, he and Tidrow make a good pair working under Sabean.


  1. Nice summary, OGC. I agree with the comments about John Barr and the scouting staff. The drafts just seem to get better every year Barr has been here. The 2011 draft, in particular, has a chance to be spectacular.

    I agree that at least Panik and maybe Hembree too should be have 4 stars. Hembree might get devalued because he's strictly a reliever. I also think Joseph deserves consideration for 4 stars given his improvement in catcher defense/power/age vs level.

    I'm happy to see Peguero ranked so high on a couple of lists. He's been almost dismissed by some of the more sabermetrically oriented sites because of his astonishingly low walk rates. I think the walks are a concern but a lot less so than many observers.

    Kickham is a guy who I think might break out big time in 2012. He seemed to really turn a corner with something late last year. I don't see ?Seth Rosin on any of these lists. He's another breakout candidate. If anything, he might have a better chance of a breakout than Kickham.

    1. Thanks DrB.

      I agree that Hembree is valued downward because he's a reliever. But as a potential closer, I think that should boost his value higher by the rankers.

      Panik also is not generally valued it seems, he did not make Goldstein's Top 101 list that was released today, though I happily note that Gary Brown was rated #18 by Goldstein, the third best OF on his list.

      Yeah, I understand the concern that sabers have with Peguero. I think that the pendulum has swung too far, that walks are now the be all and end all, sabermetrically, when, really, hits are much more valuable than a walk, when given the choice between the two. Like most things in life, a balance between the two is necessary.

      And that is where Peguero falls down as a prospect sabermetrically, his walks are really low, meaning that he will need to have a very low K-rate and high BABIP in order to provide good OBP. So I see why other might rank him lower.

      But, again, they value walks and hits equally, not realizing how having hits is that much better, particularly if he delivers on the power that he is projected to have.

      So that is also a big area that others miss on him, because he hasn't shown power yet. So the people rating him higher believe that the power will come, while the detractors rate him lower believing that the power won't come.

      I'll admit that I rate Peguero not as highly as you do. But I think most sites rate him too lowly and think that he should be among our top prospects.

      Yeah, Kickham and Rosin are two names that I've seen on your list who are on my radar because of how well they did in 2011.

      Lastly, good point about Joseph, as a catcher who now looks likely to stick there, he should have been rated higher by the lists because of that combination of premiere position and good offense and potentially adequate defense.

  2. OGC - didn't you see my point - 4 Star prospects get traded. If you like a guy, don't wish a 4-star rating on him.

    Ah, I jest. Its always fun to see all the lists and rankings. More important is the depth that is starting to get built in the system. I really like DrB's summaries he puts up, ranking by position. Its important to rank by each team, but it also helps to know your own team. To your point - teams know their own prospects the best, so they should know their organizational strengths and weaknesses and then address that through trade, free agency and the draft.

    The point about Sabean not trading pitching away, that could be construed as a big strength. The free agents, for the most part have been compromises, placeholders, the occasionally great dumpster dive and some busts. Trades have been rare - and I am stopping by to drop this on you: at the beginning of the offseason I said something along the lines of "Sabean is going to have to dig down and get creative with a trade" - we were going back and forth about various OFs and how much they would cost in FA. I was most likely freaking out about possible prices paid - DeJesus for example was closer to your estimation of 1/6 (he signed for 2/10 I think). I think I predicted 2/14 or something like that. Instead, we have a shiny Melky Cabrera, 27 years old with some unpredictability and possible upside left in the tank. That is creative. The Pagan trade was creative. So I'm happy with this.

    Going into next year, I have a feeling if unexpected needs come up, Tommy Joseph is high up on the trade bait scale. If you look at all the prospects, he has the most hype coming in, is tradeable during the summer unlike the new draftees, and is the most expendable for the Giants. His upside could be quite large. We'll see how it plays out.

    Pretty remarkable Sabean has never really traded for prospects all these years. I wouldn't call getting either Rajah Davis or Darren Ford real prospect trades.

    1. I hesitate to nominate any of the top prospects as potential trade bait because the Giants keep their own list of keepers and if Joseph is on it, say, then your prediction probably won't happen. Especially in spring training.

      Mid-season, as certain prospects reach certain levels and leave something to be desired (like Alderson did), then I would feel OK opining about trade bait. Wheeler, had I thought of putting together such a list, probably would have been on my list last season.

      If Peguero has a poor 2012 season, though, I can see him being trade bait. Generally, the ones with good trade value are the ones who show up on Top 100+ overall rankings. He's at that show-me stage right now. Ehire Adrianza could also get traded if Crawford and Panik continue to hit and field well, while Ehire struggles in AA. That's another dimension, whether there are others at that position.

      Joseph I don't see as one who could kill his star enough for the Giants to trade him in 2012. At AA, he would still be young for the league, if he falters, just repeat him and he's still young for the league.

      Surkamp could also be trade bait if he falters in AAA in 2012. Many similar guys with no fastball falter at AAA. I would not bet on that, though, I think from my readings that he really knows how to pitch, so I expect him to excel in AAA and probably be forced to repeat AAA in 2013, unless the Giants can trade Zito at some point.

      Yeah, the closest he gets to real prospects in trade is failed ones, where both teams swap failures. The best one was Shawn Estes so far. Hector Correa was not a top prospect, but he's rising in the ranks.

  3. Mayo's rankings are sort of head scratching, though it's probably due to the fact that he favors scouting reports and tools over numbers. I mean, how else is Dominguez a Top-10 guy while he seems to be on the outskirts of the Top 10 (and even Top 15 for some) in most other lists.

    The only thing I do like about Mayo's rankings is that he is hesitant to highly rate recently drafted rookies with no professional playing experience. As much as I like Susac, I am cautious about him and don't want to rate him too high because we haven't even seen him face a professional pitch. Same goes with Oropesa. I like Mayo's idea of valuing guys with more minor league experience than ones who don't in terms of rankings, but I also believe that he does rate some guys a little too highly simply because of "tools" (Pegs and Dominguez).

    Was surprised the analyst was as down on Joseph as they were. I was especially surprised they rated Susac five spots higher when Susac hasn't even played a professional game yet. My guess is that they aren't too hot on Joseph's approach, and their reports aren't high on his defense (though from the reports I have read, Joseph's defense improved greatly in San Jose).

    Some interesting lists. I like BP's "tier" system, which I find a lot better sometimes than just a straight ranking. I would have rated Adrianza at least a two-star prospect though. To me, he has more upside than Culberson, he's showed a better approach and he's better defensively. Just don't get how they view Culberson as a better prospect, especially if you consider Culberson a SS. Adrianza's much more elite defensively and Culberson's bat isn't that much better than Adrianza either.

    1. I like BP's tiered system as well, but I prefer MiLBA's number-letter system, with the number giving his potential and the letter his likelihood or closeness to reaching that potential.

      But if Mayo favors scouting, both Sickels and PerfectGames though Panik was OK for where the Giants picked him, and PG thought that he rose enough to be considered for the first MI to be drafted (just missed, Kolten Wong got selected just before). And Panik has made some top overall lists, #117 on Sickel's Top 120 list and #89 on Jeromy Deloney's Top 100 list (he's one of the authors of MiLBA).

      About Joseph, my best guess is that they want to see another year of defensive improvement before they account for that in their evaluation. Defense is still so hard to judge just in the majors, let alone minors. His large amount of strikeouts is a big negative as well.

      I think Adrianza has more assured value, because he can be a great backup SS already plus his bat might come around because he's had good bat command over the years, it is just that he has been young for the leagues, so of course he's going to get schooled some.

      Potential though, from my readings, some think Culberson could be adequate defensively while providing plus HR power from an MI position, which is where I think some rankers might have him higher ranked than Adrianza.

      I think I prefer Ehire (and not because he's my MCC adopted son :^) due to his already acknowledged gold glove defensive ability at SS and his zone control. I think as he physically matures and catches up in age and experience with the pitchers, he'll hit a lot better, enough to make his defense worth it to start.

      But I really like Crawford right now, his defense is probably equivalent but he showed great bat control in the majors, not striking out too much, and he should be a big HR hitter for a SS. Which would make Ehire expendable.



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