In this post, I'm going to look at two prospects who have gone in some mock drafts in the Giants slot. They are position players, however, and though this Giants system needs to re-stock their pitching, these are two players whom the Giants may have a tough time passing on if they're available. Let's take a look at infielder Jason Esposito from Vanderbilt and outfielder Brian Goodwin, a JuCo prospect out of Miami-Dade CC.
Jason Esposito, SS/3B, Vanderbilt University
Prospect Junkies in their latest mock draft had Esposito going to the Giants at No. 29. The possibility of the Giants picking Esposito is enticing, as he would bring a lot of offensive and speed upside to the left side of the infield. Granted, the Giants are pretty set at shortstop with Ehire Adrianza and Brandon Crawford, but third base is a little more open for competition, and Esposito has a lot of excellent tools and is coming off a pretty decent year at the plate in his junior season with the Commodores.
Esposito was a 7th round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2008, and despite Dayton Moore and the Royals offering him a $1.5 million signing bonus, he decided to stick with his commitment to Vanderbilt. So far, it hasn't exactly been a bad decision. In his three years in Nashville, he has a career batting average of .331, an OBP of .407 and he has accumulated 22 home runs and 154 RBI in 713 collegiate at-bats. Additionally, he has shown good speed on the base paths over his career, as he has swiped 63 bases.
Offensively, he has a solid bat with some pop. While he isn't a home run hitter, he does have gap to gap power, as he has hit 58 doubles with the Commodores. MLB Draft Insider graded his current power as a 50, but did give him 55 potential. His contact rates have swooned a little bit, as he posted rates of 79.7, 86.6 and 83.1 percent in his three seasons at Vandy, but the big concern though with Esposito is his inconsistent plate discipline. While he has sported solid OBP numbers, his BB/K ratios have fluctuated over his collegiate career. His three year ratios at Vanderbilt are 0.33, 0.97 and 0.38 (though in 2011, he was hit 13 times, so if you add that into his BB totals, the BB/K ratio goes up to 0.75; however, I attribute that less to plate approach and more to the wildness of the pitchers he has faced). Thus, the huge waves make you wonder how well Esposito understands the strike zone. John Klima said this about Esposito's plate discipline on a video sample he recorded in April:
"The teams that dig Esposito are going to go on more swings like that first one — they’ll like the body, the hands, the compact stroke, the hip speed and the bat speed. He does flash those tools. If you made your final judgment on the rest of his life based on these four swings, you’d say, well, dude better learn some discipline."
It's obvious that Esposito flashes the right tools to succeed as a professional, but his inconsistency does throw some red flags. Furthermore, Klima also feels that Esposito doesn't flash enough power to play the corner position, and contests that a switch to shortstop may raise his stock as a prospect. While I don't necessarily agree totally with the statement (I think there have been examples of third basemen who have succeeded in the Majors without tremendous power), he does have a point. His bat would be good for a third baseman, but great for a shortstop (think Brandon Crawford with a little bit more power). If Esposito could make the transition to shortstop, offensively he'd be a much more enticing prospect to teams in the draft.
Defensively, Esposito's glove grades out pretty well, though it seems to be that he projects more as a third baseman than a shortstop (though as noted by Kilma above, his stock would be better served by a move toward the middle of the infield). MLB Draft Insider graded his glove a 50 with 55 potential and his arm a 50 with 55 potential (this is on the customary 20-80 scale). Zachary Ball of Pro Draft Central had this to say about Esposito in his scouting report:
"Much more athletic and graceful in the field than his predecessor [2008 1st Round Draft pick Pedro Alvarez], Esposito looks like a third baseman. He has a great arm, more than adequate for the position, and on the mound he can crank it up to the low 90s. He has great soft hands, and his footwork has improved to the point where he could be one of the top defensive third basemen in this class."
Another concern about Esposito is whether or not he's just a product of the offense-heavy college environment. (e.g. can his power and hitting translate with wooden bats?) While his collegiate numbers are very good, he has struggled in two years in the Cape Cod League. In 111 at-bats in his first year in the Cape Cod, he hit .198 with a .233 OBP and .449 OPS. He only hit two extra base hits (two doubles) and he fanned 30 times and walked only four times (a 0.13 BB/K ratio). His second season in 2010 wasn't much better, as he hit only .246 with a .592 OPS in 65 at-bats. While he cut down the strikeouts (13), he didn't walk much either, and thus, his BB/K ratio (0.38) wasn't that impressive, though it was certainly an improvement the second-time around.
As a prospect, Esposito is interesting because he flashes good tools defensively and he has some potential with the bat as well. That being said, his stock has fluctuated greatly, as some saw him as more of a second to third round pick going into the 2011 season. If there is one thing going in Esposito's favor though, it is his pedigree, as Vanderbilt has had a history of producing good Major League talent recently, with Alvarez, David Price and current prospect Sonny Gray, who is projected as a Top-5 pick. While the Giants may not have a drastic need to pick up Esposito in the first round (as noted before in previous posts, pitching should be their main focus this draft), he could be a steal in the supplemental round or even second round if he's available.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami-Dade CC (Florida)
The Giants really don't have a particular need in the outfield. With Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Gary Brown, Darren Ford, Rafael Rodriguez, Chuckie Jones, and Brandon Belt most likely going to make a transition to left, the Giants have considerable depth in their system in the outfield. Thus, Goodwin would seem to be an odd fit.
However, if he's available, the Giants may be tempted to pick him because he could be the best available player at No. 29 on talent alone.
At six-foot, one-inches and 190 pounds, Goodwin is a physical specimen with loads of athleticism. MLB Draft Insider graded his speed a 60, and his fielding a 50 with 55 potential. Offensively, he has a lot of tools and though he may not hit with much power as a professional, Klima noted that Goodwin's left-handed swing has "speed, strength and lift." Brewerfan.net also had this to say in his scouting report of Goodwin a year ago when he was still in high school:
"He does a lot of little things well, and has four legitimate tools, lacking power as the only tool to make him the always coveted five-tool talent. And despite his lack of power, Goodwin will surprise you with his pop from time to time. Most of his power goes to the gaps, and his 6.5 speed allows him to leg out plenty of extra base hits. His bat is made for contact, as he excels at putting the ball in play and going with pitches to drive the ball up the middle and the other way. He is extremely fast out of the box, and gets down the line to first base as a left-handed hitter as well as anyone, allowing him to be a threat on infield grounders and bunt plays."
Brewerfan.net made Andrew McCutchen comparisons with Goodwin, though I don't know if Goodwin will have the power upside like McCutchen. That being said, defensively and on the basepaths, the comparisons are definitely valid, as his athleticism may be up there with anybody in this current draft. Baseball Factory ranked him as the 21st best prospect out of high school in 2009, and noted that he was "A natural OF prospect with a fluid LH stroke, Goodwin makes everything look very easy on the field. He glides to balls in the outfield and finds the barrel at the plate with a consistent, low-effort swing."
Before transferring to Miami-Dade CC, Goodwin starred at the University of North Carolina, as he hit .291 with 7 home runs and 63 RBI, while posting an OBP of .409 and an OPS of .920 in 227 at-bats. Furthermore, he showed excellent strike zone recognition, as he posted a BB/K ratio of 0.92. He did strike out a lot (49 times, the second highest total on the team), and his contact rate left a little to be desired (78 percent), but it was still solid for a freshman. Additionally, while he wasn't given the green light to go on the basepaths as much as other players, he did steal seven bases on nine attempts, and did leg out a team-high eight triples, so the speed set is obviously there.
However, in November of 2010, Goodwin was ruled ineligible for the 2011 season, for violating university policy. While the specifics of the suspension never went public, it was widely speculated that academic issues were the main reason why he ended up transferring to junior college his sophomore year. While his makeup has gotten good reports (Brewerfan.net had sterling reports about his makeup and attitude in high school), the suspension is a bit of a red flag in some ways, and makes you wonder if he can avoid trouble as a professional. Nonetheless, it probably could have been a case that Goodwin was focused solely on baseball at a good academic university, and that's not uncommon with baseball players (and athletes in general) in college.
Still though, Goodwin has an excellent toolset and a high ceiling for a prospect. He also performed well in the Cape Cod League, as 5 Tool Talk wrote this about his performance in the summer league:
"His early collegiate success continued into last summer, as he finished 11th among those that qualified on the Cape in batting with a .281 average. During his time with Harwich, he also posted a .364 on-base percentage, stole 15 bases (good for eighth in the league) in 19 attempts and six of his 32 hits went for extra bases."
I don't know if Goodwin will be available at the Giants' slot. He could go in the 10-20 range, simply because his potential and tools may be too much to pass up for MLB general managers. That being said, if he's available at No. 29, the Giants should think about swiping him up, even despite the outfield depth, because he has the potential to develop into a very promising and special Major League player.