Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Checking it Twice: Giants 2012 Top Prospects

I had previously blogged about some other Giants top prospect lists here, so since I just got Baseball America's 2012 Prospect Handbook, I thought I would write a bit more.  They do provide their Top 10 list here, but the book covers the Giants Top 30 in detail in their book.

TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1.Gary Brown, OF
2.Tommy Joseph, 1B/C
3.Heath Hembree, RHP
4.Joe Panik, SS
5.Francisco Peguero, OF
6.Andrew Susac, C
7.Eric Surkamp, LHP
8.Kyle Crick, RHP
9.Ehire Adrianza, SS
10.Hector Sanchez, C
But the rotation is getting more expensive to keep together, and the Giants' pitching factory under vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow is beginning to stall. They sacrificed their only elite pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, to the Mets for Beltran—who became a free agent after the season and can't bring draft-pick compensation because his contract forbid offering him arbitration.
The current strength of San Francisco's system is in position players, led by speedster Gary Brown and longball threat Tommy Joseph. Brandon Belt, who graduated to the majors in 2011, could make an impact for years to come. Scouting director John Barr added two polished college hitters in the 2011 draft, with St. John's shortstop Joe Panik in the first round and Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac in the second.
However, the Giants don't have another can't-miss position player like Posey in the system. He's determined to catch again and club officials will relent to his wishes, but they've talked about moving their best hitter out of harm's way in the not too distant future. Catcher may be the richest position in the system, with Joseph, Susac and Hector Sanchez.
The farm system was a priority for managing partner Bill Neukom, who was forced out by other partners in a palace coup in September. In the new management structure, club president Larry Baer was elevated to CEO and will report directly to the investors. The reorganization wasn't expected to impact Brian Sabean, baseball's longest-tenured GM with his current club.

ogc Thoughts

BA's list stands out for their putting Tommy Joseph #2 on their list. Most had him 3-4, though he was as low as 9 in MiLBA's Top 15 list. So it is not a huge outlier, just one beyond, but BA is certainly the highest rank of Joseph. Shows just how powerful his potential is right now: he improved defensively where people now think he can stay at catcher, and he showed a lot of power despite being one of the youngest players in the league.

They are also the only list to include Brett Pill anywhere on a list.  I understand why a list might not include him, he certainly has a lot to prove, despite his stellar 2011.  Still, he did do very well in both AAA and the majors last season, and he did it while suffering from his disappointment of 2010 and his dropping off the 40 man, and then no team even wanted to take him at virtually no cost to the other team, other than a 40 man spot.  Remember, Frandsen in his disappointment, sulked (and publicly bad-mouthed the Giants) his way off the team.

I think he's one bad injury from getting him some Pill-sanity, though at a much, much lower level of insaneness (no magazine covers for him).  Not that he'll be a star or even necessarily good, but he plays great defense at 1B and looks like he can hit OK but with good power, I think he could certainly outdo what Huff did last season, and be an average 2-WAR player, which is extremely good value for a scrub on the borderline between the 25 and 40 man rosters.  He'll be a right-handed Travis Ishikawa without the angst about performing, and be a great bench player for us over the next 6 seasons, plus maybe shine a little when an injury or poor performance lets him start for a while.

They are also the only major list to have Chuckie Jones still on their Top 20.  He disappointed in 2011, but injuries was part of the reason for that.  I am still hopeful, he's still very young, plenty of time for adjustments.

They are also the only major list to not like Josh Osich highly.  Some had him as high as 7th, but BA ranked him 23rd.  I guess they are more worried about his health and his ability to return from it than the other lists.  Because, if he's anything like what he was before he was shut down, we are talking about another Dirty, a lefty who can hurl in the mid-to-high 90's MPH.  In fact, BA thinks that he's capable of being a #2 starter:  if healthy...

They are also not as enamored with Clayton Blackburn's stellar 2011 professional debut.  They only see him as a middle rotation (#3-4) starter at best.  But his numbers were so stellar, I would lean towards the irrational exuberance than rational practicality.

Thought I would end with a look at Gary Brown's overall prospect rankings.  BA had him ranked #39 out of 100 (unfortunately, Tommy Joseph was ranked 100th until Cespedes signed, pushing him to 101st;  Hembree also got some talk for the bottom of the list but did not make it).  BP had him #18 on their 101 list.  Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com had him #48.  John Sickel's had him #43 on his Top 120 list (He had Joe Panik #117). Minor League Baseball Analyst's two authors had him pretty close, #24 and #26.

And BA's top editors also had Brown up that high, which I found out in the book.  Jim Callis ranked him #29, JJ Cooper #39, Will Lingo #26, and John Manuel #25.

I've also seen a bunch of blog posts lamenting the loss of Zack Wheeler.  Most of the ranks I've seen had him in the 40's, more mid-to-high 40's, though BA had his 55th in 2011, falling from 49th in 2010 (which is a steeper fall than it seems because a lot of prospects above him either graduated or fell more themselves).

What people don't recall is that once you get past the Top 15-25 prospects overall, there is a lot of variableness in whether prospects make it or not.  Following is a list of past 40-ish prospects:

  • 2009:  Jordan Schafer, Angel Villalona, Tim Alderson, Andrew Lambo, Kyle Blanks, Josh Vitters
  • 2008:  Ian Stewart, Lars Anderson, Jeff Clement, Josh Vitters, Daric Barton, Matt Antonelli, J.R. Towles
  • 2007:  Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacob Mcgee, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Fields, Ian Stewart, Bill Rowell, Travis Buck
  • 2006:  Homer Bailey, Anibal Sanchez, Mark Rogers, Adam Loewen, Adam Miller, Brian Anderson
  • 2005:  Eric Duncan, Brian Anderson, Conor Jackson, Michael Aubrey, Dan Meyer, Josh Barfield, Yusmeiro Petit, Homer Bailey

I'll note here that I'm doing this from memory right now, so maybe a few of the above worked out better than I remembered, but generally, these prospects (and as you can see, some stayed in there in consecutive years, boosting their farm system's "status" as a good farm system, whereas the Giants top players - Lincecum, Bumgarner, Sandoval, Posey, Belt - were maybe on BA's top list, at most, one time in their time as prospects; heck, Sandoval couldn't even get on his own team's top prospect list, let alone the BA overall top list).

Still, just because Wheeler is on the list again this year is no guarantee that he's going to ever make it.  The Giants, by trading him, effectively voted that he will not make it, at least as a good starter.  He might eat a lot of innings and be an OK middle rotation starter in the majors, but as a study by The Hardball Times concluded, teams usually know their prospects better than other teams and tend to trade away the prospects that they have deemed to be not keepers.  Given the Giants brain trust's (Sabean, Tidrow et al plus Barr) stellar record in trading prospects and not giving up a good, above 2-WAR per season player, if I had to bet, I would bet that Wheeler not reach his potential and be a good starter, with a low ERA.

And as a sad reminder for us of how prospect high rankings are no guarantees, in 2001 and 2002 Jerome Williams was ranked #19 overall for us and in 2003 Jesse Foppert was #5 (! just behind Jose Reyes and Joe Mauer and ahead of Brandon Phillips, K-Rod, Scott Kazmir, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Morneau, Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, B.J. Upton).  Heck, Boof Bonser was #29 in 2002,  and Kurt Ainsworth #30 in 2001.

Now, to some of the points made in the quote above from BA.

First, it notes that the Giant's pitching factory is beginning to stall.  That is because they have selected position players in 3 of the past 4 drafts, whereas before, the Giants had mostly spent their first round picks on pitchers.  Those picks are the picks with the highest chance (roughly 10% when you are contending) of finding a good, above average player.

So that is why they are "stalling", not because they are failing to find pitching while actively looking for pitching, but just because they are working on finding good position players in recent seasons instead of pitching and thus not finding as many pitchers.  If you stop looking for pitching as intently as you did before, I view that as less a failure and more a change in strategy/tactics.  While I think some of the 2011 picks could pick up the pace (Crick, Osich, Blackburn), I expect the Giants to put more emphasis on pitching again going forward, unless there is clearly a "must pick" BPA position player who falls to them.  And, still, most of their picks in rounds 1-10 were pitching, even in 2011,

Second, there are two reasons why the Giants don't have another can't miss position player in the system currently.  First, those are very hard to find when you are winning.  You have a much greater chance when you are losing a lot of games and getting the great draft picks.  Second, the Giants did have one in Belt, but due to injuries, they decided to rush him to the majors and hope that he could figure things out.  Unfortunately, he didn't.  But had he followed normal development, he most likely would have spent 2011 in the minors and be eligible to be ranked as a prospect for 2012.  For all intents and purposes, Belt is still considered a high potential prospect, but according to baseball rules, he cannot be considered a rookie anymore, which is the criteria that BA uses to decide who to cover and who not to follow.

Thirdly, the Giants made a priority of the farm system before Neukom took over.  They spent all that money on Villalona, RafRod, Posey, and Wheeler, over-paying for each of them.  They also went over slot for Lincecum, Posey, Bumgarner, Wheeler, among others prior to Neukom.  They also brought in John Barr, both to emphasize position players (not announced but clearly a change in the drafts so far) and improve international scouting and development (that was announced as one of the reasons to get him).

Let's put it this way:  the Giants are currently staffed by a lot of farm products who were all acquired long before Neukom took over, ever so briefly, as managing owner, the main effects of his influence on the draft will not have a visible effect on the team until the draftees from 2009-11 start showing up and taking starting positions.

Thankfully, in any case, the CBA no longer allows a team to punt a pick, so even if they were tempted to even think about doing that again, the Giants will be required to select and presumably sign their draftees going forward, Neukom or no Neukom.

And while the removal of Neukom was described as a "palace coup", I would note that the Chronicle's Insiders reporters, Matier and Ross, reported that the reason he was forced out was because he was asking for a $10M annual salary.  As much as I liked Neukom as managing owner and miss having him in charge, if there is any truth to that rumor, I am glad he was pushed out, I would much rather the team spend that money on players and development than paying the CEO.

Lastly, most rankings of the Giants farm system have them rated very low.  While that is probably true (I'm not going to get into that), that is missing the whole content of why they are in that position today.   They are mostly in that position today because of a number of reasons.

First and most importantly of all, they have been a winning team for 3 seasons now.  When you are a contender, you get lousy first round pick position and it is very difficult to find a good player drafting that far back.  You can't help but have a bad system when you are winning for any length of time.  Let's put it this way:  the A's would have had an even worse farm system today, probably, if they didn't trade away most of their All-Star players and picked up a boatload of prospects.  Think of how good a farm system the Giants would be ranked to have had they traded away, say, Lincecum, Cain, and Sandoval?

Secondly, they have been very aggressive, and mostly successful, with moving their top prospects into the majors.  If the Giants prospects were like other team's, Posey, Bumgarner, and Belt could still be in the farm system, hoping that this would be the year they break out, but because they are talented, highly ranked in the Top 100 and giving their team the appearance of a strong farm system.

For example, Homer Bailey was ranked #48 in 2005, #38 in 2006, #5 in 2007, and #9 in 2008, boosting the Reds' overall ranking and making them viewed as more of a successful farm system, and yet the Reds are still waiting for him to break out.  Belt was only on one list, 2011, Posey and Bumgarner 2009 and 2010, Lincecum only in 2007, Cain highly ranked in 2005 and 2006 (he was #91 in 2004).  So who has had a better farm system then?

Thirdly, the Giants are actually doing OK, when you examine the circumstances.  Given their poor draft position in the past couple of drafts, they are actually doing well having a highly ranked prospect of Brown's caliber in their system.  Heck, they would look even better right now if Belt had been kept in AAA in 2011 instead of being brought up a lot due to injury needs.  Given that Belt is still a prospect, just not by definition for any of the Top Prospects lists, how can their farm system be accurately represented if Belt is not included as part of their farm system?

So there are all sorts of problems with the methodology of how farm systems are ranked.  And I don't think that there is a way to come up with one measurement that says it all.  I think one good way to see how well the farm system is doing is by looking at how many of the starters are farm products.  By that measure, the Giants farm system is looking pretty good compared to most MLB teams.

People complain that the Giants have not produced position players, but neglect to realize that the question can be turned back to them if we ask them to name which teams have produced a better rotation than Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner from their farm system?  That's the reason why the Giants have not produced many position prospects, they have focused on producing great pitching prospects.

It is a trade off that many complainers ignore or slough off.  And if I had to chose between having an equivalent hitter or one of our great pitchers, I would chose our pitchers in a heart beat, pitching is the way teams dominate in the players, it is no guarantee, as my research showed, but it is a necessary ingredient if you want to have any strong and good hopes of going deep into the playoffs.  The complainers do not realize that demanding position players be produced means less pitchers, which means that they don't really understand that today's research says that if you want to do well in the playoffs, you focus on pitching and fielding, period.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mike Newman Prospect Chat on Fangraphs And Giants Spring Training!

On the eve of the start of the Giants spring training for the 2012 season, ran across a chat by a Mike Newman, who writes a blog named Scouting the Sally.  He writes for Fangraphs and, er, scouts the South Atlantic League, or Sally to afficionados.  He had been a player, scout and coach, and wanted to get back into the game in some way, and took this route.

Here are some key moneyshots of Giants and NL West prospects:

Brandon Belt

Comment From Tony in SLC:  Having a hard time letting go of the dream called Brandon Belt, if he gets playing time he's easily the 3rd best hitter on the team, right? Thursday February 16, 2012 4:16 Tony in SLC
Mike Newman: Well, Belt is teaching prospect followers that age-versus-level does matter regardless of the numbers. However, he really does need 600 plate appearances or the chance to go somewhere else. I can see Huff playing because he's being paid well, but Schierholtz? 28 with a .750 OPS is a find 4th outfielder, but no way he's a starter on a first division ball club.

obsessivegiantscompulsive:  Again, people assume the Giants don't like him.  They were the ones who discovered and nurtured him.  He is far from a failed prospect, he will get his chances, he is not like Freddy Lewis or John Bowker, or even Nate Schierholtz, all unheralded prospects, Belt was rated in the Top 20 last year and the Giants have been very good at identifying who to keep and who to not keep.  They know what they got, and they will give him a lot of chances. 

Given the comment by management about rushing prospects, I expect the Giants to be more conservative in 2012 in bringing him up.  Meaning first that he will need to beat out Nate Schierholtz for a starting spot in spring training, and if he doesn't, he'll start in AAA until either an OF or Huff struggles enough for the Giants to bring up Belt (assuming he isn't totally struggling).  I hope that doesn't happen, but you never know - just look at last season.

My expectation is that Huff will be good, high 700 OPS range, but not 2010 good, Pagan will be an OK placesetter but nothing special enough that Gary Brown will be blocked, and Melky will be good enough that the Giants will probably try to sign him to an extension of some sort, as he'll be a free agent at the end of the season.  However, as much as I like Nate, he has a history of extreme hot and coldness plus eventual injuries that I expect one of them to happen, resulting in the opening of 1B for Belt at some point, pushing Huff to LF.

But that comment about Nate starting not a sign of a contender is a result of what I call the lack of understanding how powerful it is to have a pitching staff and fielding defense as great as the Giants have.  With such a strong overall defense, keeping the RA/G very low and among the top 3 the past three seasons, and which I expect to happen again in 2012, you only need an average offense to win.  And Nate, if he can handle a full season at .750 OPS is average, when you include how great he is on defense plus how well he runs the bases, generating a lot of extra bases each season, is perfectly fine for us in RF.

Gary Brown

Comment From Jack: From most top prospect lists, I get the feeling that Gary Brown is one of the more controversial players. Why, do you think that is?  Thursday February 16, 2012 4:54 Jack
Mike Newman: College players dominate the California League. He more or less did what he was supposed to do. Francisco Peguero did the same thing and was a meh prospect. Should Gary Brown repeat in double-A, I'll buy into his production much more.

ogc:  As nicely as Brown did, I do agree to a certain extent that Brown's overall numbers were not great, and thus a concern.  However, that is why you need to sometimes look into his monthly splits and see what he actually did. 

First Inning provides his splits and his April/May look like one talent performance set, then he was out of sync in June and then July/August (Sept small samples; for example his K% of 16% would be OK 12% if you take away one strikeout) is another set.  Initially, he was striking out a bit, and borderline OK, around 85% contact rate, which is the mark of a good hitter.  He also walked nicely in April but settled into his talent rate in May.  He struggled in July and struck out a lot more.  Then he got his strike rate down, kept his walking, and looked a lot better than July, clearly, or even early in the season.  He adjusted.

His overall .405 OBP looks great, but if you take out his struggles in July then he was around .430 OBP for the season.  His OPS of .922 was pretty good, but not clearly outstanding in the league.  However, without his July, he would have been around 1.100 OPS for the season, which is extremely good for the season.

Of course, the key question is whether he's going to struggle for a month again in AA, then AAA, then the MLB continuously.  They way I view it, prospects will have these in-season adjustments.  Obviously, if he can keep it going for the whole season, that makes it much easier to discern, yeah, he's good.  But obviously, at some point, for the better players, the league can't adjust back, and he's consistently good, that month would be gone from his full season performance.  I think one month of adjustment, versus many months of good play is what you want to see on the players who are more borderline in terms of prospect certainty (many doubted Brown's ability to adjustment, particularly his ability to take walks).

I really like his track record of adjustments.  He wasn't that great in college, he adjusted and by his junior season, he had the highest OPS of any hitter in the Big West League.  In the Cape Cod League, his first year was not that good, but he came back the next year and he was pretty good.  In the pros, where there is a lot more games, that adjustment happens in-season instead of between seasons.

I also like his attitude that I've see in all his interviews online.  These have been a boon, in my eye, to getting a feel for the guy's psyche.  He has a good head on his shoulder, does not take himself seriously, and just views the challenge as getting better all the time. 

The good news too is that with his great defense, he could rise to the majors and be an average player sooner because with his speed and good eye at the plate, his BABIP should be above average, helping him to keep his OPS at least replacement level to begin with as he adjusts to the league and improves.  And his OBP should be good enough initially to justify inserting him at leadoff sooner than later, and the power should come later, as that is part of his game that he says he works on, in the interviews I've seen.

I've very excited by him, I was excited after my analysis after the Giants drafted him and I'm even more excited now that he's had a great first pro season.  As much as the Giants talked about not rushing prospects, I think that if he does well in the Eastern League to start, they will promote him to AAA by mid-season, to see if he can take over the lead-off/CF position well enough so that they can let Pagan go in the off-season or if they need a lead-off guy for 2013.  I am drinking the Kool-Aid enough to think that he will do this and get some call up experience in September, before making the team in 2013.

LAD's Rubby De La Rosa

Comment From Rick: Did I read that Rubby De La Rosa has the best fastball that you've seen in the Sally ? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:00 Rick
Mike Newman: No, Rubby has the best fastball I've ever scouted... period. He never pitched in the Sally. I scouted him twice in Chattanooga last season before his promotion.

ogc:  Ugh, that's not good to hear.  He could help the D-gers recover from losing Kuroda, someone to watch for 2012.

AZ's Paul Goldschmidt

Comment From Philip: Speaking of 80 power, what was Goldschmidt considered to have when he was there? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:05 Philip
Mike Newman: I'm honestly not a big Goldschmidt guy, but may have been a little too hard on him when I scouted him last summer. I saw a touch of slider bat speed and wondered if it would translate well to the bigs, or if he'd be destined to make a living off of bullpens and #5 starters. I'm still not sold, but a 25-home run first baseman with strong walk rates has considerable value for sure.

ogc:  I am not a big Goldschmidt guy either.  Looking at his numbers, I think he was very lucky and will have a regression season in 2012, where playing the full season he'll be exposed.  Still, as he noted, power like that could keep him in the lineup, he could be their replacement for that strikeout-homerun 3B Mark Reynolds who they traded to the Orioles.   But back to the Giants, a regression like that will be good for the Giants, they will probably have to sit him down, and he'll probably have a season similar to Belt's 2011, except that he'll get a lot more AB's and playing time, because I don't think that they have any good alternatives.

SD's Cashner/Rizzo Trade

Comment From AJ: Who will end up getting the better deal in the Rizzo/Cashner trade. Is rizzo's wing too long to be abel to hit for avg and/or good power numbers in chi? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:21 AJ
Mike Newman: I didn't understand that deal from SD's perspective. For Chicago, buying low on Rizzo for Cashner who seems like a closer (maybe) in the end strikes me as a steal.

ogc:  Yeah, I didn't get the trade either unless SD is pretty sure that Cashner is a future dominant closer.  Then again, maybe they saw something about Rizzo that didn't look good to them and sold low.

SD's Casey Kelly

Comment From Tom: ETA and ceiling for Casey Kelly? And general question - do you think too much emphasis is put on K and BB rates below AA ball for pitchers? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:29 Tom
Mike Newman: Kelly will be up this year and now appears to be more of a mid-rotation guy. As for K/BB rates, for older prospects, they are laughably blown out of proportion. For age appropriate guys, they deserve a closer look for sure. however the numbers can be tricky as hitters simply can't handle fringe breaking balls at the lower levels in general leading to crazy numbers.

ogc:  This chat make the A-Gon trade look worse and worse.  Rizzo is sold low on for maybe a closer, and Kelly is now profiling as a middle rotation guy now.  For A-Gon, you would hope to get more.  Maybe that's why Hoyer left now, while the getting's good, as he maybe felt that he was on the ledge with SD's management.  Good the Giants if they don't get good value for A-Gon, that and the Latos trade could help to keep them in the cellar.

I highlighted the last two sentences because I believe in them.  If the prospect is older than the league, then his extra experience and development should lead him to dominate, so you have to take any good performance with a large grain of salt.  If the prospect is age appropriate, then the way I see it, you want to see him among the league's leaders, as confirmation of his goodness.  This is especially so for prospects who are younger than the league.  The more of any outlier they are, the better the probability that he can translate that to the majors.

If you look at the league leaders, you will always find players who are older than the league up there, and if you go far back enough and look to see if they are in the majors, most are not.  They will need to prove that they are good at every level they rise to.  And most usually fail at some point.

But if you find age appropriate (Shandler books says 22 YO is age appropriate for AAA, 21 for AA, 20-ish for Advanced A, and 19-20 for A), then if he is among the leaders then that is a good performance for him.  And if he is younger than these ages, then his rating goes even higher.  These types of players have a greater probability of making it in the majors, at minimum as a regular starter for a while, and if he develops, an all-star.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Villalona's Nearly Here: Got Work Visa

Andy Baggarly of the Merc reported here that Villalona got his work visa and will be able to return to the U.S. to play ball for the Giants.  Here are some key excerpts, the URL is usually shut down after a certain period of time:
The Giants expect him to be at Scottsdale Stadium when position players report Feb. 23.
Major League Baseball removed Villalona from its restricted list late last year, and the Giants added him to their 40-man roster to prevent another club from plucking him away in the Rule 5 draft. All players on the 40-man roster receive automatic invitations to big league camp in the spring.
Villalona already has a flight booked to the U.S., Evans said. But the club hasn't yet received confirmation that Villalona has gone through the final step in the process to take possession of the visa. That process involves a face-to-face interview, an identity check and proof of travel documents.
He's considered a premier, power-hitting first baseman and has been working out at the Giants' complex in the Dominican. According to scouting reports, he still has plenty of the bat speed that made him a standout talent as a teenager.
Villalona is not a candidate to make the Giants' opening-day roster, but there's a good chance he will be assigned to Single-A San Jose at some point this season.

Giants Thoughts

There has not been a lot of news about his condition or anything so this is pure nuggets of information.  First, it is not like he is totally rusty, he has been working out at the Giants Dominican complex, and presumably facing live pitching there, as they note that his bat speed is still there.  Which was what I expected, that is why I've been excited about his return to the Giants farm system.  Basically, a top 40 level prospect has been dropped back into our farm system, a 5 star prospect, boosting our overall farm system talent level.

San Jose sounds about right, that was the level he was at before his career detour, and he was doing OK there, not great, and at age 21 now, he is age appropriate for top prospect level at the Advanced A level.  Though most probably the Giants would start him off in instructional league, then when they think he is ready, either Augusta or even Salem-Keizer, then finally San Jose, maybe for the second half.  That should be more than enough to get his feet back on the ground, hopefully.

Also, hopefully he has worked off a lot of his baby fat and is more compact and muscular now, though he should always be a big boi.  From what I recall, he was really big, making Sandoval look like a Twiggy in comparison.  With all that time off, I hope he worked every day at getting himself into better shape.

If he can get back up to speed, he can still possibly be a good young prospect when he makes the majors, assuming he can get his career back on track.  I figured if he had great bat speed when he was 13 YO, there should be no way he would lose it while out of organized baseball.  At worse, he can take swings off a tee or other batting equipment, and with his money, he can at least have a pitching machine setup built at his home so that he can bat off of it.  That would help keep his reaction speed good enough for when he returned to organized baseball.

With Sandoval and Belt, though, the Giants should be set at those two positions - 1B and 3B - for years, so unless he learns to play the OF (unlikely at his size) or Belt gets pushed out to LF again, Villalona could be just a big trading chip the Giants can use to obtain more pitching or whatever else that they need, when the time comes.

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.

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