Showing posts with label Top-30 Prospects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Top-30 Prospects. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

OTF Top 30: No. 21-25; Duvall, Correa, Gregorio, Bochy, Galindo

We're winding down with the Top 30, and now we're really delving deeper into the Giants system in terms of finding guys with talent. While a lot of the prospects in this series of the list have talent and some potential, they do carry considerable amount of risk and are still a long ways off from the Major League level. All of the guys are C prospects, so you're probably not going to find them on the Top-15 of many lists (though Gregorio rates high with a lot of scouts and experts because of his youth, size and upside). However, there are a few guys I'm pretty high on in this series whom I think can make major strides with good seasons this year. Don't be surprised to see two-three of these guys rise to C+ or B- grades next year.



No. 21: Adam Duvall, Third Base

Overall Grade: C
Projection: Major League backup; platoon player at the best, could be a career minor leaguer

Summary: When it comes to third base prospects in the Giants system from Louisville, Chris Dominguez gets all the hype. It's understandable. Dominguez mashed in college for four years with the Cardinals, and he was a third round pick in 2009 who sported plus power and arm strength as a prospect. Furthermore, at six-foot, five inches and 225 pounds, he has the size and frame of a player with Major League potential.

And yet, Dominguez may not be the best prospect from Louisville in the Giants system. Adam Duvall, a former teammate of his who took over the hot corner after Dominguez graduated from Louisville in 2009, is quickly catching up to the more ballyhooed Dominguez after a solid 2011 season in the Sally where he earned All-Star honors.

Duvall is an interesting player because he doesn't have the "tools" that Dominguez has. Duvall's got a good frame (six-foot, one inches, and 205 pounds), but it looks diminutive in comparison to his former college teammate. Furthermore, none of Duvall's tools have ever been plus rated by scouts, which explains why he dropped to the Giants' slot in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft. Even Baseball America in their profile on him in their Prospect Handbook for 2012 (they ranked him as the Giants' 28th best prospect) noted that he had average range and arm strength, fringy speed and that his at-bats "aren't likely to be found on an instructional video" (e.g. his swing doesn't impress). In a myriad of ways, Duvall seems to fit the profile of an organizational player at-best.

And yet, his numbers in Augusta were promising, and do flash potential. Yes, he was old for the Sally (22 years old), but so was Dominguez (23 years old), and yet that hasn't prevented scouts and experts from still rating Dominguez as one of the Giants' top 3rd base prospects (Baseball America rated him as the Giants' 16th best prospect this year). Let's take a look at the numbers from their respective seasons in Augusta:

Dominguez (2010):  .272/.326/.456 (average/OBP/slugging), 21 home runs, 85 runs scored, 35 walks, 133 strikeouts, 0.26 BB/K ratio in 608 plate appearances.


Duvall (2011): .285/.385/.527 (average/OBP/slugging), 22 home runs, 69 runs scored, 59 walks, 98 walks, 0.60 BB/K ratio in 510 plate appearances.

If one looks at the numbers and considers the age factor (that Duvall broke into the Sally one year earlier than Dominguez), then Duvall's season looks far superior. Not only did Duvall flash power potential (he hit more home runs is almost 100 less at-bats), but he also displayed a better eye at the plate and made better contact against pitchers in the Sally. Of course, Duvall's line isn't perfect by any means (at 19.2 percent, his strikeout rate is still high, especially considering his age), but it definitely adds a little bit to the debate in terms of which former Cardinal is a better prospect at third base.

As good as Duvall's offensive year was, there still are some serious flaws in his game, mostly with his glove. First off, defensively he sports not only average tools, but he also struggled at times with concentration in the field his first full season in professional ball. Last year, he committed 27 errors and posted a fielding percentage of .908, which is very disheartening. He may not have the athletic gifts to be apremium or even an average infielder. That being said, he needs to cut down the errors in 2012 if he wants to be able to stay at the position as he moves up the Giants system.


What to Expect in 2012: Most of Duvall's value as a prospect comes with his bat. He was four for eight on stolen base attempts last year, and he'll be lucky to steal five bags a year considering the reports on his speed and athleticism. Hence, Duvall doesn't offer much upside with his glove or on the basepaths, so if Duvall wants to move through the Giants system, he's going to have to continue to hit. He has a good plate approach, and his power tool seems to be legitimate (Robbie Knopf made some interesting points about his power numbers in Augusta). In addition, his offensive numbers are bound to get better as he moves to the hitter-friendly California League this upcoming season, so that will certainly be a boost to his stock.

That being said, we have seen prospect bash in the lower minors and struggle once they start to face better pitching and hit in more pitcher friendly environments (the Eastern League will be a huge test). While I am not saying Duvall is going to fall into that category, he hasn't done much to prove that he isn't more than a one year wonder. Duvall's campaign in San Jose should be interesting to pay attention to, especially if he gets off to a hot start. If so, I'll be curious to see if the Giants will take the same path with him as they did with Dominguez (move him to Double-A mid-year after he mashed High-A pitching). If that happens (though I think it is unlikely), that should be a real gauge of Duvall's status and projection as a prospect.



No. 22: Hector Correa, right-handed pitcher

Overall grade: C
Projection: Middle innings reliever; perhaps could find himself in a setup role

Summary: Correa was acquired in a trade in 2009 that sent former left-handed bullpen arm Jack Taschner to Florida. At six-foot, three inches and a 175 pounds, Correa has a tall, wiry frame and has flashed some potential, though he is probably destined for middle relief at the Major League level.

Correa went under the radar when he was acquired because he was battling shoulder issues and missed the entire 2009 season due to surgery. However, when he resurfaced in 2010 in Augusta, he dominated the Sally, striking out 58 batters and only walking 16 in 43.2 IP. His split campaign in San Jose and Richmond last year proved his comeback wasn't a fluke, as he continued to excel on the mound in the Cal and Eastern League. In San Jose, he struck out 37 in 42 innings pitched and posted an ERA of 1.93 and a K/BB ratio of 3.08. While his ERA did jump up to 3.20 with the Flying Squirrels, he still showed excellent command in 39.1 IP, posting a K/BB ratio of 2.67.

His tools and arsenal as a pitcher rate well by scouts and experts, as he throws a fastball that sits 91-92 MPH but can touch the mid-90's. While his slider is rated as a "below average" pitch, according to Baseball America, his changeup is considered to be a strong secondary pitch, and many people believe that Correa can succeed with that two pitch arsenal, especially if he remains in the bullpen. Here is what Dr. B of When the Giants Come to Town said in his writeup of Correa this season (he rated him as the Giants' 20th best prospect):


"Baggs did an Organizational Report on him for BA in November and reported that his fastball was in the "mid-90s" and he combined it with a "plus-plus" changeup. The changeup allows him to be effective against LH batters allowing the Giants to stretch him out to 3 and 4 inning stints in Richmond. He could still be stretched all the way out to starter, but I have to say it's more likely he'll end up as a setup man or long reliever in the majors."

Considered a good athlete with a lean, strong frame and plus makeup, Correa certainly has the potential to be a viable pitcher in the Giants bullpen as soon as this season. He was a top prospect in the Marlins system prior to injury, and now that those shoulder issues seem to be a thing of the past, Correa is starting to live up to the expectations that were placed upon him when he was drafted in the fourth round out of Puerto Rico in the 2006 draft.




What to expect in 2012: Correa was placed on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and it seems like it was a good idea. With Dan Runzler probably out for an extended time, Correa could break in and have an impact at the Major League roster as soon as this year. Correa didn't get much time with the Big League roster this Spring, but he did strike out 3 in 2.1 innings pitched. However, his two walks and three hits allowed probably displayed that he could use some seasoning in Fresno to begin the year.

I like what Correa brings to the table, but his limited ceiling as a bullpen arm and prior history of injury issues (as I said though, it looks to be in the past, but you never know) limit me from grading him higher than a C. However, should any of the Giants' bullpen arms falter or suffer injury, Correa could be a strong first option the Giants may resort too. He has been stellar the past couple of years, and at 23 years old, he still has a lot of years and mileage left in the tank.



No. 23: Joan Gregorio, right-handed pitcher

Overall Grade: C
Projection: No. 3-5 starter; could be a long or middle innings reliever

Summary: When it comes to pitchers out of Latin America in the Giants system, probably no other prospect (well...except for maybe Adalberto Mejia) generates as much buzz as Joan Gregorio. At six-foot, seven inches and a 180 pounds, Gregorio is the kind of tall, raw but high-ceiling pitching prospect that most scouts and analysts foam at the mouth for.

Gregorio signed with the Giants out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, and immediately started playing in the Dominican Summer League after signing. While his numbers weren't as impressive in the DSL as Mejia's (but then again, few pitchers did what Mejia did last summer), they still were solid overall and displayed that Gregorio wields a tremendous amount of potential. Gregorio made 14 starts and pitched 74 innings for the Giants' DSL squad, and he held batters at bay, posting a 2.80 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 2.41 K/BB ratio. While his strikeout numbers weren't gaudy by any measure (41 strikeouts), his control (17) and command were still impressive for an 18 year old who had just recently signed.

After the strong performance in the DSL, the Giants moved Gregorio to the Arizona Rookie League in 2011 and he did even better in his second partial professional season. Gregorio increased his strikeout rate (to 7.7) without sacrificing much control (his walk rate rose to 2.9), and he posted a stellar 2.30 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 50 innings pitched and 12 starts in Arizona.

One of Gregorio's strengths as a pitcher, in addition to his control and command, is his ability to induce groundballs. According to Minor League Central, Gregorio posted a GB/FB ratio of 1.14, with a groundball rate of 45 percent. Considering this was his first taste of pitching stateside, the ability to keep the ball on the ground and minimize hard contact (he only gave up a line drive rate of 14.8 percent) bodes good things for his future, especially if he can continue to keep up the stellar strikeout rates and command he displayed in 2011.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball has been high on Gregorio as a prospect in the Giants system going into 2012. Here is what he says about Gregorio in his report:

"He’s hyper-projectable, already throws 89-94 MPH, and may pick up more velocity as he matures. He has a decent curve but is still working on his changeup. He was one of the more promising pitchers in the Arizona Rookie League, but he needs another weapon against left-handed hitters, who hit .333 against him. At this point his youth and projectability are more important than the numbers, but the numbers aren’t bad either."

Of course, as Sickels notes, Gregorio's tools as a pitcher are still works-in-progress, and he's a long way from the Bigs. So, he definitely carries a size-able amount of risk. That being said, the potential is there, and with his long frame and projectable body, Gregorio is far from a polished product as a prospect, which should give the Giants organization and fans a lot of hope for the future with him.


What to expect in 2012: The word on the street is that Gregorio is going to be starting in Augusta, and at 20 years old, that makes sense. He and fellow AZL teammate Clayton Blackburn should make a good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in the Sally. As far as what kind of impact Gregorio will have on the mound in his first full season, it's still hard to project because his tools are so raw, but I think Gregorio is trending in the right direction. He's already got some good velocity on the fastball, and as he grows into his body, the velocity will only increase. As of now, reports have him as a two-pitch pitcher, but if he can continue to make strides with his changeup, then he could sport a dangerous arsenal as a middle-of-the-rotation guy. I don't think Gregorio has the upside or potential of a No. 1, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the Giants rotation in the future as well.

If his tools develop as planned, then the Giants will have another home-grown arm to stock their rotation/pen with. Of course, we said the same things about Henry Sosa and Merkin Valdez, but Gregorio's size and frame make him one of the more enticing arms the Giants have had from Latin America in the past few years. He's a C prospect now, but I expect him to make nice strides this year in Augusta and make some kind of a jump in grade in 2013.




No. 24: Brett Bochy, left-handed pitcher

Overall Grade: C
Projection: Middle relief with possibility to be a setup guy or spot closer

Summary: Drafted in the 20th round of the Rule 4 draft, a lot of experts and Giants fans took the pick with a grain of salt. After all, Bochy was the son of manager Bruce Bochy, and while he did have a stellar career at Kansas (he posted a 0.78 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 23 innings with 34 strikeouts as Kansas' closer his final year in college), scouts weren't exactly bursting with praise about Bochy having a future at the Big League level. Many felt that the pick was either a.) done for publicity purposes or b.) done more as a favor to Bruce.

However, since making his debut in Augusta last year, the six-foot, two-inch lefty has turned around some heads in baseball analyst and scout circles, as many people are starting to recognize that he offers more to the table as a prospect than just being Bruce Bochy's son. Pitching primarily out of the bullpen for the Green Jackets, Bochy made 35 appearances and pitched 39 innings in the Sally last year, and finished the season with a 1.38 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 10 saves.

Bochy's biggest strength as a pitcher is his impeccable command and strikeout ability, which he displayed even at Kansas. In Augusta over the full course of a Minor League season, it was even more evident, as he struck out 53 batters, good for a 12.1 K/9. To make things better, Bochy limited his free passes in the Sally last year (8 total walks), which resulted in him posting a ridiculous 6.63 K/BB ratio. To put things in perspective, the last pitcher who put up K/BB ratios that impressive in the Sally from the Giants organization was Madison Bumgarner, who posted a K/BB ratio of 7.81 in 2008. While Bumgarner's ratio is obviously more impressive because he is a starting pitcher and Bochy is a reliever, it does add some context on how sterling Bochy's numbers were in his first professional season.

If there is anything to knock against Bochy, it may be that his ceiling is limited to a bullpen role at the Major League level, and he may not have the kind of elite stuff to be a closer, either. His arsenal is mainly a fastball/slider combo, with his fastball ranging from 90-93 MPH. His slider also is tough on right handed hitters, according to Sickels in his report on Bochy. Another issue is Bochy's history of arm issues, as he had TJ surgery after blowing out his elbow his last year at Kansas. However, the arm issues didn't seem to be a problem for him at all last season in Augusta.


What to expect in 2012: Because of his age (24 years old) and low ceiling, Bochy could move up quickly this year in the Giants system. The Giants already decided to have him skip High-A San Jose, as he will start the year in Double-A Richmond. Richmond might not be the only destination for him this year, for if his Spring Training was any indicator (he struck out two in an inning of work with the Big League club this Spring), it wouldn't be surprising to see him see some time in Fresno or even the Majors should injuries or ineffectiveness hit the bullpen.

Overall, Bochy could end up being a gem in the rough for this Giants organization. He went from a 20th round pick with arm issues, to a strong reliever with excellent command in the matter of a year's time. The Eastern League will obviously be a step up in competition from the Sally, but if his progress from the beginning of last Spring to this Spring is any indicator, then Giants fans could have a lot more to look forward to from Bruce's son in 2012.



No. 25: Jesus Galindo, outfielder

Overall Grade: C
Projection: Platoon to backup outfielder; could be a starting one if his contact ability improves

Summary: Behind Gary Brown, Galindo probably has the best speed tool set out of any prospect in the Giants system. Last season, he swiped 47 bases on 55 attempts (an 85 percent success rate) in Salem Keizer, his first season stateside (he played the previous two years in the Dominican Summer League). In addition to the stellar stolen base numbers in the Northwest League last year, scouts and coaches have raved about his speed. The biggest endorsement came from Volcanoes manager Tom Trebelhorn who compared Galindo's baserunning ability to Ricky Henderson.

A burner on the basepaths from Venezuela at five-feet, 11-inches and 175 pounds, Galindo sports good athleticism for his size, though he could afford to add some strength to increase his value at the plate. While he has been lauded for his plate discipline (he posted BB/K ratios of 0.76 and 1.17 in 2009 and 2010 in the DSL, respectively, and last year he posted a BB/K ratio of 0.54), his ability to make consistent contact as a hitter has been up for debate. While he did hit .276 last year in the NWL, he struggled to hit for average in the DSL, posting batting averages of .244 and .246 in his two seasons there. Galindo has the ability to make contact, as he posted an 81 percent contact rate a year ago, but he needs to show progress this year that the skills he displayed in 2011 is more of an indicator of what Giants fans should expect from 2012-forward.

Defensively, scouts are high about Galindo's potential, with Rob Gordon of the Minor League Baseball Analyst noting that he covers ground well in center field, and the has a strong enough arm to keep runners honest. Baseball America noted the same things, saying that he maximized his speed by getting good jumps on balls. I'm not sure if Galindo will be a premium defensive outfielder at the next level (it's far too early to tell to be honest), but he certainly has the tools and athleticism to be a strong defender despite his diminutive stature (think Andres Torres-esque).

The main issue with Galindo is his lack of power, as he displayed little last year in the NWL and even less in the DSL. Last year with the Volcanoes, Galindo posted an ISO of .088 and an extra base hit percentage of 21 percent, which are far from impressive. Yes, Galindo has tremendous speed and he's going to have the potential to beat out well-placed groundballs on a regular basis (especially since he's a switch hitter). On that same note though, if he can be able to hit the ball in the gaps, he could be a regular threat to be a 20-plus doubles and 15-plus triples guy on a regular basis. Galindo may never be a home run hitter and with his size, it would be hard for him to project as one too. But, with his speed, if he can garner even a little bit of gap power, then his ceiling as a hitter could be tremendous.


What to expect in 2012: At 21 years old, Galindo could start the year in San Jose, especially with Gary Brown and perhaps Jarrett Parker moving on to Richmond in 2012. It may be wiser to start him in Augusta, simply not to rush him, but he is a bit of an older prospect because he spent a couple of years in the DSL. Wherever he starts at in 2012, Galindo will be an interesting prospect to watch in 2012. He has incredible speed, solid plate discipline and a solid glove in the field. If he can continue to make contact in the Sally or Cal League like he did in the NWL, then the future could look very bright for Galindo and the Giants.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

OTF Top 30: No. 16-20; Oropesa, Kickham, Rosin, Parker, Dominguez

Okay, after a few off-the-road posts, I decided to get back to the rankings. Let's take a look at the 16th-20th prospects on the list. As you can see, the quality is dropping off a little bit, as we're hitting the lower end C+ and middle C range in terms of prospects. Nonetheless, there is some upside with some of these guys, it's just that they come with a lot of warts that prevent me from going higher on them. Of course, a bounce back year, and these guys could gain in their grades, and that is certainly possible with all five of these guys.


No. 16: Ricky Oropesa, First Base

Overall Grade: C+
Projection: Starting first baseman; at worst, pinch hitter off the bench.

Summary: A third round pick by the Giants in the 2011 draft, Oropesa has some big upside as a potential power threat, but carries a size-able amount of risk. A physical specimen at six-foot, three inches and 225 pounds, Oropesa has the look and some of the plus tools of a future home-run mashing first baseman. He hit 40 home runs total in his career at USC and posted a career slugging of .596 and OPS of 1.007 as a collegian. Furthermore, he has had moments where he had just wowed scouts in person, with his most eye-popping feat being a home run he absolutely crushed off of UCLA's Gerrit Cole, the eventual No. 1 pick in last year's draft.

And yet, despite the power and solid, Big-League frame, Oropesa for the most part comes off as a bit of a one-trick pony. The scouting reports on his defense are average at best, he doesn't sport a lot of speed on the basepaths or in the field (pretty much limiting him to first base or a corner outfield position), and he isn't expected to hit for much average as a professional either. Yes, his career collegiate batting average is .331, but he only posted a contact rate of 77 percent as a collegian, and in 2010 in the Cape Cod, he only hit .222 in 153 at-bats with 52 strikeouts to boot.

For better or worse, a lot of Oropesa's stock and projection as a prospect weighs on his ability to hit for power as a professional. Hence, the amount of risk weighing on that one tool really prevents me from thinking he's a Top-15 prospect in the Giants system at this point (and he didn't sign in time to get any time in Rookie Ball or the Northwest League, so that also hurt his rating since he hasn't been exposed to professional pitching yet). That being said, even though he had a down year his junior year at USC (he only hit 7 home runs after belting 13 and 20 his freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively, though I imagine the change in bats had something to do with the regression in power numbers), he did hit a league-high seven home runs in the Cape, so Oropesa certainly has the ability to hit for power with wooden bats.


What to Expect in 2012: Oropesa will always be susceptible to strikeouts because of his long, uppercut swing. That being said, he has a good eye at the plate (career 0.59 BB/K ratio, with it being 0.65 and 0.63 the past two years at USC) and that could make up for the amount of whiffs Giants fans will see in the minors from him. He definitely has Carlos Pena-esque potential, as it seems like his power is legitimate and he could post good OBP numbers that will make up for the low averages (I don't see Oropesa projecting to be more than a .250 hitter in the Majors). Of course, we have seen offensive-heavy collegiate prospects flame out before (Eddy Martinez-Esteve being the biggest recent example), but Oropesa does have some good ceiling, and if he can mash home runs on a consistent basis that are in a similar mold to the one he rocked off Cole in college, then he could make some noise in the Giants system. It is likely that the Giants will take a slower route with him, like power hitting third base prospect Chris Dominguez, and start him off in Augusta. However, he could start off the year in San Jose if he makes an impressive enough impression on the Giants brass this Spring (though with Angel Villalona starting the year in San Jose, that is probably unlikely).


No. 17: Mike Kickham, Left-handed pitcher

Overall Grade: C+
Projection: No. 3-5 starting pitcher

Summary: Mike Kickham entered the Giants as somewhat of a sleeper prospect after being drafted in the 6th round in the 2010 MLB Draft. A polished college pitcher from Missouri State, Kickham has the size and frame of a starting pitcher with Major League potential. Kickham made a lot of noise in the Summer Collegiate League circuit after having a great campaign in the MINK League (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas College summer league) where he went 3-0 with a 0.29 ERA in 24 innings of work. He also struck out 42 batters and only allowed 7 walks for the Sedalia Bombers that summer (good for a K/BB ratio of six). Though his summer in the MINK was cut short due to the Giants drafting him in the sixth round, it was a nice campaign that got Kickham on many prospect experts' radar.

While Kickham's traditional numbers didn't impress in college (he posted a 4-9 record with a 5.25 ERA and 1.36 WHIP), he did show solid command (3.43 K/BB ratio) and ability to rack up strikeouts (9.66 K/9) in 96 innings pitched his sophomore year with the Bears. He did prove to be hittable at times (9.47 H/9), but for the most part, sans the ERA and W-L record, Kickham did have a lot going for him in his last year as a collegian.

In his first full professional season in the Sally, the same problems seemed to hound Kickham in Augusta. He didn't post a great W-L record (not totally his fault, since the Green Jackets were one of the worst offensive teams in the Giants system and the Sally is tough on hitters) and he still allowed a lot of hits (9.0 H/9) in 111.2 innings pitched. However, he transitioned his impeccable command to Single-A (2.78 K/BB ratio), and got better as the year progressed. Dr. B of When the Giants Come to Town said this about Kickham in his Top 50 rankings profile (where Kickham also ranked No. 17):

"Mike Kickham continued a pattern from college of posting peripheral numbers that look much better than his ERA. What's encouraging about Kickham's performance for Augusta is he got progressively stronger as the season went along. Over his last 10 starts, he went 4-5, 3.25, 55.1 IP, 13 BB, 40 K, GO/AO=2.36. He really turned it on over his last 6 starts starting August 5: 3-3, 2.23, 36.3 IP, 5 BB, 25 K."

Kickham was a bit old for the Sally at 22, but he has all the tools you would want from a starting pitcher. He has an enticing frame at six-foot, four-inches and a 190 pounds, and his fastball sits in the 92-94 MPH range according to reports. Also, Kickham sports a curve ball, slider and a changeup, so his four pitch repertoire bodes well for his future as a starting pitcher.

What to Expect in 2012: Kickham most likely will start the year in San Jose, which will be a challenge for him considering the hitter-friendly environments of the California League. Kickham does induce a lot of groundballs (thanks to his breaking pitches), but how he avoids contact will be a big factor for him in terms of whether her progresses or regresses as a prospect in High-A. His strikeouts per nine numbers were solid last year (8.3), but they weren't spectacular by any stretch. Kickham's strong finish last year provides a lot of hope for the future, and with his frame, there is hope that he can gain more velocity as he fills out into his body (which hopefully will help his ability to strike batters). Overall, there is a lot to like about Kickham, and I think he has more upside than an Eric Surkamp, who had amazing command and strikeout ability, but lackluster tools. That being said, Surkamp dominated in the Cal League, and Kickham needs to do the same in 2012 if he wants to really gain steam as a prospect in the Giants system.


No. 18: Seth Rosin, right-handed pitcher

Overall Grade: C+
Projection: No. 4-5 starting pitcher; most likely a bullpen arm, maybe a setup guy

Summary: Another former Green Jacket, Rosin is a powerful right handed arm that struck out guys in bunches in the Sally last season. Much like Kickham, Rosin entered the draft as a polished college arm out of the University of Minnesota. In his last year with the Golden Gophers, the six-foot, five-inch right hander went 9-4 with a 4.72 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 95 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched.

Like Kickham, the ERA numbers didn't impress, but Rosin's excellent command in college (7.92 K/BB ratio) prompted the Giants take him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. After striking out 9 batters and allowing 9 hits in an 11 inning-stint in Salem Keizer in 2010, Rosin had a good year in his first full professional season in Augusta. He appeared in 39 games and made 10 starts with the Green Jackets, pitching 89 innings total in 2011. Despite the inconsistency in roles, he still posted good numbers, as he finished the year with a 3.34 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and a K/BB ratio of 3.10.

As evidenced by him striking out 95 batters in 89 innings, his ability to strike batters out makes Rosin an intriguing prospect. He sports a 92-94 MPH fastball, a a 72-76 MPH curveball and a changeup that sits in the 81-84 MPH, according to a scouting report by John Klima of the Baseball Prospect report. While his curve ball and changeup still need a lot of work, his lively fastball and impeccable command should carry him as a prospect as he moves up in the Giants system.

He has a big frame, but at 235 pounds, his size probably projects him to be more of a bullpen arm rather than a rotation guy. I just don't think he will have the stamina to pitch 150 plus innings in his professional career. Furthermore, his three pitch repertoire also limits his potential to be a consistent play in the rotation. That being said, if he can get into better shape and develop his pitches, he could have end of the rotation or spot-starter potential.

What to Expect in 2012: Rosin will join Green Jacket teammate Kickham in San Jose, most likely starting in the bullpen (though it is possible that he could get an end of the rotation spot). Rosin is a big, powerful arm who has great stuff and even better command. Much like Kickham, he's a bit of an older prospect, but he has held his own as a professional thus far. The Cal League will be a challenge for him, but his command is a bit better than Kickham's at this point, so the transition should be less arduous for Rosin than Kickham. It'll be interesting to see what the Giants do with Rosin (either make him a starter or reliever), but either way, he has the tools to be a player in the Giants pitching staff in a couple of years.


No. 19: Jarrett Parker, Outfielder

Overall Grade: C
Projection: Utility outfielder; maybe a Major League backup

Summary: Parker came into the Giants system with some lofty hype after posting a .333/.428/.593 slash with 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 243 at-bats in his final season at the University of Virginia in 2010. The Giants selected the polished, athletic collegian in the second round of the 2010 draft. The selection of Parker, along with first round pick Gary Brown, showed the Giants commitment to acquiring more position prospects who could move quickly in the minor leagues.

Much like Brown, Parker started his first full season in San Jose. Unlike Brown though, Parker struggled in his first year, though his numbers weren't terrible by any means. Parker did flash a lot of speed in his first year, as he stole 20 bases in 25 attempts, and he did display a good eye at the plate, as evidenced by his .360 OBP and 13 percent walk percentage. However, Parker struggled to put the bat on the ball consistently in High-A ball, as he struck out 144 times (a 25.2 percent rate) and posted a contact rate of 70.4 percent.

Hitting for average as a professional may be a struggle for Parker (even in college his contact rate was under 80 percent), and that was evidenced by his .253 average in San Jose. That being said, his plate approach and ability to get on base could maximize his value, especially considering his skill on the basepaths. In terms of power, he did sport some pop at the University of Virginia (26 home runs combined his last two years with the Cavs), and in his first year in San Jose, as evidenced by his 13 home runs and 33 percent extra base hit percentage. His power probably projects more as gap to gap power rather than pure home run power, but with his speed, the ability to hit the ball to the gaps will only maximize his value as a prospect.

Defensively, Parker has been graded as a plus defender, as Jonathan Mayo in his 2010 Draft Day scouting report of Parker said that he had plus defender skills and range to be a good center fielder (though he did note that he had below average arm strength). Statistically though, Parker will have to work on some things, as he did commit 10 errors and posted sub-2 range factors at every position he played in 2011 (though he may have been playing out of position in San Jose, as he mostly played right with Brown in center).

What to Expect in 2012: Parker's stock took a big hit in 2011, though to be honest, he's kind of been on a bit of a downward trend since his phenomenal 2009 where his team bested a Stephen Strasburg-led San Diego State team in the NCAA Regionals (he was rated as the top prospect going into the Cape Cod in 2009 and he struggled in the Cape). Parker will probably begin the year in San Jose again, though that might not be a bad thing, for he will probably play more at his natural position of center field and he could use some more time to hone his approach at the plate and cut down on the strikeouts. Overall, Parker is a great athlete and baserunner, and his careful eye at the plate should produce .340-plus OBPs wherever he should go in the Giants system. If he gets off to a hot start in his second year in the Cal League, it wouldn't be surprising to see him join classmate Brown at Double-A Richmond at some point in 2012. That being said, the Giants will need to see significant progress from Parker in San Jose before they rush him up to Double-A.


No. 20: Chris Dominguez, Third Base

Overall Grade: C
Projection: Utility corner infielder; could be a career minor league player if approach doesn't improve

Summary: A 3rd round pick by the Giants in the 2009 draft, Dominguez came in with some high expectations after mashing at Louisville in college. He was one of the best hitters in the Big East, leading the conference in batting average his last two seasons, while also displaying considerable power as a collegian (he hit 46 home runs combined his last two years, and also posted extra base hit percentages of 39.6 and 43.8 percent his junior and senior years, respectively). Hence, the Giants figured Dominguez would be a fast-moving prospect in their system after playing four years with the Cardinals.

However, Dominguez  moved slowly in the Giants system, starting in Augusta his first full year in 2010 (at 23 years old, he was old for the league). While he did flash some home run power potential (he hit 21 home runs in 608 plate appearances), he struggled with pitch recognition and plate discipline with the Green Jackets. Mike Newman of Fangraphs and Scouting the Sally said this about Dominguez in his scouting report following the 2010 season:

"After watching him play, I referred back to a scouting report on Dominguez by Frankie Piliere back in 2008 to find little had changed in the two years since that report was written. Dominguez seemed like the same player he was as a junior in college which leaves me questioning his ability to adjust at a more advanced age than the average “Sally” prospect."

Newman noted his plate discipline issues, especially when he saw breaking pitches. Newman said that Dominguez had "significant problems adjusting to breaking pitches; Even below average breaking balls gave him fits." Despite these issue, with his power, size and arm strength, a lot of experts out there were still high on Dominguez after the 2010 season despite his advanced age for the level.

Dominguez made the transition to San Jose in 2011, and predictably (considering the hitter-friendly confines), he did well in the Cal League, posting a slash of .291/.337/.465 with an .802 OPS and 11 home runs in 279 plate appearances. The strong start in San Jose prompted the Giants to promote Dominguez to Richmond, and he got off to a fast start (he was named Eastern League player of the week after hitting .458 with a home run, seven doubles, a triple and eight RBI during the week ending June 26th). However, he struggled as EL pitchers adjusted to him, as he finished the year with a slash of .244/.272/.403 with a .675 OPS and seven home runs in 313 plate appearances in his tenure with the Flying Squirrels.

Tools wise, Dominguez may be the most impressive third base prospect in the Giants system. His power and arm are rated as plus tools by scouts, and at six-foot, three inches and 215 pounds, Dominguez has a big frame and some decent athleticism for his size (though defensively his range is graded as below average). His plate approach seems to be the key to whether or not he will become a future Major League player, as he is known for posting a lot of strikeouts with little walks to counter them (he has a career BB/K ratio of 0.21). Even if he does have "Major-League" power, many wonder if Dominguez will make enough contact as a professional (career minor league contact rate of 74 percent) to ever make use of it.

What to Expect for 2012: At 25 years old, Dominguez is one year away from his "peak" year. So far, he has flashed some promising signs (his San Jose campaign, 21 home runs in the Sally, his fast start in Richmond), but for the most part, the negatives of his game (lackluster plate approach, below-average defensive skills, older age for levels played) have outweighed the positives in my mind. Tools-wise, as stated before, he may be better than any other third base prospect in the Giants system (and I'm including Conor Gillaspie). However, I just don't know if he has the plate discipline to adjust to better pitching. His BB/K ratio was an atrocious 0.12 in Richmond last year, and his contact rate was also sub-average at 74 percent. To me, that isn't the sign of a replacement level Major League player, let alone a Major League starting one. Dominguez most likely will start again at Double-A to improve his approach, but he will need to make major strides in his second year in the Eastern League. If he can improve and be more patient at the plate, he could salvage his status a little bit, but I would say at his age, the chips are heavily stacked against him.

Friday, March 16, 2012

OTF Top 30: No. 11-15; Culberson, Gillaspie, Mejia, Blackburn, Osich

So it's been 11 days since my last post. It's been a weird month, and it's been hard to just find time to really sit down and post (not to mention tweet). For the sake of time interests, I've decided to streamline the rankings profiles a bit now. First off, I would like to have as many of the rankings up before Opening Day. Secondly, when you get deeper and deeper in the rankings, less and less information is available, so it's harder to come up with as in-depth profiles like the ones in the Top-10.

Hopefully, the posting will be a little more consistent from here on out.


No. 11: Charlie Culberson, Second Base

Overall Grade: C+
Projection: Utility infielder; at best, starting second base. At worst, career backup.

Summary: Culberson, the former supplemental round pick (2007 Draft), has had an up and down career as an infielder in the Giants system. Originally drafted as a shortstop, inconsistent defense forced a move from the position after the 2008 season in Augusta (he ended up playing third base in 2009 with the Green Jackets, until he ended up settling at Second Base in San Jose). The main problem with Culberson's defense is that he is too error prone, as he committed 75 errors in between his two campaigns in the Sally in 2009 and 2010. That being said, the move to second base has been worthwhile, as he has only committed 28 errors the past two years at the Keystone in San Jose and Richmond, which has improved his fielding percentages to .975 and .978 the past two years (in comparison, his fielding percentages in Augusta were .901 and .900, respectively).

Offensively, things started slow for Culberson, as the Sally seemed to overwhelm him as a hitter just out of high school. In two stints with the Green Jackets, he posted OPS numbers of .599 and .598, and he displayed little power (312.5 average slugging in Augusta), ability to hit for average (.240 batting average in two seasons in Single-A) and a poor approach at the plate (0.31 average BB/K ratio in Augusta). Much like fellow 2007 pick Wendell Fairley, many people felt that Culberson simply didn't have the offensive skills to project into a Major League player.

However, in 2010, Culberson broke out in all kinds of ways in the California League. He improved defensively with the transition to second base, becoming at least average defensively at the position. The biggest improvement though came offensively, as he hit 16 home runs, and posted a slash of .290/.334/.457 in 503 at-bats in San Jose. While the plate approach was still skeptical (0.33 BB/K ratio), the increased power (career high .167 ISO) as well as speed on the basepaths (25 stolen bases), gave some scouts and experts that Culberson could have 20-20 home run-stolen base potential in the mold of Dustin Pedroia, or at the very least 15-15 potential.

Of course, as mentioned before on this blog, Cal League stats always have to be taken with a grain of salt. While he did follow up his Cal League dominance with an excellent showing in the Arizona Fall League (he posted a .366/.394/.591 slash with two home runs and 21 runs scored in 99 plate appearances with the Scorpions), the Eastern League pitching proved to be dominating for him to replicate his High-A numbers. He regressed to post a slash of .259/.287/.382 in 553 at-bats, and his plate approach suffered, as he posted a BB/K ratio of 0.17, a career low.

While some would write off Culberson completely, I was actually a little comforted in some ways by his 2011 campaign in Richmond, and still hold some hope that he can turn into a good Major League player in a year or two. First off, he was still two years younger than the competition in the Eastern League (average hitter's age is 24), and while is power regressed, it didn't fall off a cliff like some hitters who make the transition from the Cal to the Eastern League. He still hit 10 home runs, and his ISO only dipped 44 points, not terrible considering his previous high ISO in the Sally was .085. He also made the Eastern League All-Star team, an honor that displayed that his season wasn't downright terrible by any stretch of the imagination.

What to Expect in 2012: It's tough to gauge where Culberson will be in 2012. An early injury in the beginning of work outs has kept him out of Spring Training so far, and it's likely that he won't be ready until the end of Spring Training as well. There was some hope that with a good Spring, Culberson could have made the transition to Triple-A to start the year. Now, it looks like he'll be in extended Spring Training and most likely starting out the year in Double-A again. While starting out in Double-A could be a good thing, Culberson needs to make some kind of transition upward this year, either to Triple-A (the most likely scenario) or to the Majors. The latter is probably a stretch, especially when you consider Mike Fontenot, Ryan Theirot and Emmanuel Burriss are ahead of him on the organizational depth chart at the Major League and Triple-A level. However, there needs to be a sign of improvement and a leap of some sort for Culberson as a prospect in 2012. While he is still only 23 years old, this will be his sixth full season as a professional. If he cannot build off the campaign in Richmond a year ago, it's probably likely to think that Culberson won't amount to much at the Major League level. If he does, then he and Joe Panik could be battling for the keystone position when Sanchez leaves town.


No. 12: Conor Gillaspie, Third Base

Overall Grade: C+
Projection: Utility infielder/outfielder; could start at third base or a corner outfield position in right situation.

Summary: Originally a highly heralded supplemental round pick in the 2008 draft (he was the Giants' second pick after Buster Posey), Gillaspie's career has started slow, but really picked up the past two seasons. After getting a peek at the Major League level in 2008 shortly after being drafted (a Major League callup was written into his contract in order for him to sign at a lower bonus), Gillaspie struggled in all areas of his game in 2009 in San Jose. He committed 27 errors at third base in 116 games, and he only posted a slash of .286/.364/.386 in 530 plate appearances. Despite the hitter-friendly environments, Gillaspie displayed little to no power ability in his first full year, as he only hit four home runs and posted a measly ISO of .100.

While the lack of power or defensive ability hurt his stock greatly in 2009, he did display a solid eye at the plate (0.81 BB/K ratio) and a strong ability to make contact (86 percent contact rate). When he made the transition to the Eastern League in 2010, he was able to transition those skills for the most part. While his BB/K ratio dipped a little, it still remained above average at 0.55, and his contact percentage remained unchanged at 86 percent. Furthermore, one of the reasons for the dip in BB/K ratio was he increased his aggressiveness at the plate, which resulted in a lower walk rate (from 10 to 7 percent), but increased power (.132 ISO). In fact, he doubled his home run total from the Cal League in the Eastern League (from 4 to 8), and his slugging and OPS numbers both improved from San Jose as well (to .420 and .757). Considering most prospects' power numbers go the opposite direction in the transition from the CL to the EL, the improvement was a promising sign that Gillaspie wasn't finished yet.

2011 proved to be Gillaspie's best year as a professional, as he posted his best overall numbers as a Minor Leaguer in Fresno. He hit 11 home runs and posted a slash of .297/.391/.453 with an OPS of .844. His contact rate dipped to 82 percent, but he posted career highs in walk percentage at 13 percent, BB/K ratio at 0.84, and ISO at .157. His stellar campaign with the Grizzlies earned him a callup to the Big Leagues, and he held his own in 19 at-bats, posting a slash of .263/.333/.421 with two walks, only one strikeout, and five hits, including an inside the park home run.

What to Expect in 2012: Gillaspie doesn't hold much room for projection at 24 years old. He is a polished offensive player that displays a strong ability to make contact and a great eye at the plate. However, while his power has started to develop since that lackluster 2009 campaign in San Jose, his upside probably remains at 10-15 home runs a year, and he doesn't offer much speed on the basepaths or athleticism on the field to boot. This proves to be a problem, because defensively, he doesn't really project to be more than a corner infielder or outfielder, and he certainly doesn't have the power tool set to justify consistent playing time at the positions. Gillaspie could be a player in the Bill Mueller-mold (corner infielder who gets on-base and hits for average despite wielding below-average power for their position), but those kinds of players tend to be very rare, and get even fewer opportunities. At the same time, Gillaspie most likely will (and should) get some more playing time at the Major League level in 2012 (though, most likely, he will start the year in Fresno barring injury to someone this Spring). Hopefully, he'll get some more playing time at other positions in Triple-A to maximize his value when he gets the call up some point this year.


No. 13: Adalberto Mejia, Left-handed pitcher

Overall grade: C+
Projection: No. 2-3 starting pitcher.

Summary: A Dominican bonus baby who was signed for $350,000 in 2011 by scout Pablo Peguero (who was also responsible for signing outfielders Francisco Peguero and Rafael Rodriguez), Mejia is still a project of sorts who is a long ways away in terms of being fully developed. Furthermore, while he does offer some upside, at his age and where he's at in his professional career, he still carries considerable risk as a prospect (Baseball America, which ranked him 26 in their prospect handbook, graded his risk factor as extreme).

However, Mejia simply dominated as a pitcher in the Dominican Summer League, most likely earning himself a ticket to the Arizona Rookie League and/or Short-Season Salem Keizer this year. While DSL stats can't be taken too seriously (any rookie league numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt), Mejia displayed impeccable control for an 18 year old who had just signed that season. He only allowed eight walks in 76 innings pitched, good for a walk percentage of 0.9 and a K/BB ratio of 8.9. Just to compare, Joan Gregorio, a right handed prospect who has been ranked higher than Mejia on most lists, allowed nine more walks (17) in two less innings pitched when he threw in the DSL in 2011, and posted a K/BB ratio 6.5 points lower than Mejia (2.4). So, while the numbers can't be weighted too heavily, one can't dismiss Mejia's advanced approach completely either.

Tools wise, Mejia is still raw, as he throws a fastball that goes in the 87-91 MPH range that touches 92 MPH. Furthermore, he has a decent changeup and is working on his slider, which right now is still more of a slurve, according to reports from Baseball America. That being said, he is still 18 and growing into his Six-foot, three inch frame. As he gets older and exposed to more professional instruction when he makes the transition stateside, it is likely that his pitching repertoire and ability will get better. His approach has already received good marks, so the Giants will be starting with an already solid foundation.


What to Expect in 2012: Mejia is still years away from the Big Leagues, and with most Latin American prospects, his future could go either way. Just judging from his numbers and the early reports, Mejia has that upside to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, though he probably doesn't have the front line stuff or size to be a No.1 (though as stated before, he could gain more velocity as he continues to develop physically). I expect the Giants to take things conservatively with Mejia, and I don't really see him pitching beyond the Northwest League in 2012. However, if he continues to transition his command and control to the states, I wouldn't be surprised to see him be more of a riser in more prospect lists going into 2013.


No. 14 Clayton Blackburn, right-handed pitcher

Overall Grade: C+
Projection: No. 2/3 Starter; reliever at worst

Summary: Drafted in the 16th round of the 2011 draft, the prep arm out of Oklahoma (the same state that produced top picks Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley in the 2011 draft) probably had the biggest pitching breakout out of the Giants' picks in 2011 (Joe Panik had the biggest breakout overall).

After signing, Blackburn made his debut in the Arizona Rookie League, and much like Mejia in the DSL, Blackburn displayed impeccable command and control for an 18 year old. In 33 innings pitched, he struck out 30 and walked only 3 batters total. (That's right, Three!) In addition, he only gave up 4.6 hits per nine innings and posted a BB/K ratio of 10. While it was only a 33 inning sample in Rookie ball, the stellar campaign had a lot of experts around the web and league wondering why Blackburn didn't go higher in the 2011 draft (though to be fair to other teams, it did seem like he was for sure going to honor his commitment to the University of Oklahoma going into the draft).

At six-foot, three inches and 220 pounds, his frame hints at front line rotation potential, or at the very least, middle of the rotation status. He has a four pitch arsenal, sporting a 90-93 MPH fastball, a good curve ball, and a slider and changeup, according to Rob Gordon of the MiLBA. Furthermore, while he didn't blow hitters away totally in his stint, Blackburn has excellent life on his pitches, and induces groundballs at an impressive rate (his GO/AO was 2.58 in 2011).

The main concern right now with Blackburn seems to be his size, for at 220 pounds, he is a bit on the heavy side, and isn't particularly athletic. Baseball America notes that he'll have to watch his conditioning in order to maintain and build stamina as a starting pitcher, especially as he makes the transition to full-season ball.


What to Expect in 2012: Blackburn is a big, young, high-ceiling arm that fits the mold of many former pitching prospects in the Giants organization (i.e. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner). While he doesn't have the upside of supplemental round pick Kyle Crick, Blackburn is a legitimate pitching prospect who has an advanced feel and repertoire for somebody his age. He most likely will begin the year in Low-A Augusta, which probably is the right track for him considering his youth. As noted before, his conditioning and stamina will be key things to keep an eye on in 2012, for a lot of his value is tied to him being a starter. If he can't keep the stamina to be a starting pitcher over a full year, his stock will take a hit. That being said, I am confident that he will stay in shape, and he could have a solid year in the Green Jackets' rotation in 2012.


No. 15: Josh Osich, Left-handed pitcher

Overall grade: C+
Projection: No. 4-5 starter; reliever

Summary: A sixth round pick, Osich had the makings of a first or second round draft choice going into the 2011 draft. However, Tommy John surgery in 2010, and arm concerns at the end of his 2011 season at Oregon State, scared off a lot of teams, and the Giants came in and swooped him up in the sixth round. Though he didn't play professionally last year, Osich did sign for $450,000 and passed a physical, so as of now, everything points to Osich being healthy and ready for the 2012 season.

As a pitcher, Osich had stretches of dominance during his time with the Beavers. He threw a no-hitter against powerhouse UCLA in 2011, and struck out 79 batters in 76.4 innings pitched his junior season. While he did post an ERA of 3.64 in 2011, his BB/K ratio remained decent at 2.32, and he only allowed 62 hits the entire year as well. Considering this was his first year coming off TJ surgery, and he couldn't really throw his breaking stuff due to the surgery, the numbers were a promising sign.

Right now, the big dilemma for the Giants is whether to break in Osich as a reliever or starter. Though he started in college and has starting potential, his injury concerns (he was pulled from an NCAA regional game in 2011 after one inning) probably will regulate Osich to the bullpen at least initially. Osich sports a three pitch arsenal, with a 92-95 MPH fastball that has been rated as four plus by Rob Gordon, and a slider and changeup. Baseball America noted that he didn't throw the slider very much last year due to injury concerns, and hence, that could have been the reason it wasn't graded very highly or very effective in 2011. Now that he has had a full year of play since TJ, it wouldn't be surprising to see his breaking stuff, especially his slider, become a more valuable part of his arsenal as a professional.


What to Expect in 2012: I am a big fan of Osich. I did a profile write-up on him going into the 2012 draft pick, and I thought he was worth spending a second round pick on, if available. The fact that the Giants got him in the sixth round to me is a steal (though as noted, we did spend second round money on him with his signing bonus). The health issues are a concern of course, but Osich has very good stuff and I think his secondary pitches will be even better now that he will be two years removed from TJ surgery that cost him his 2010 college season. I think the Giants will take things slow with him and start him in the bullpen, and in the Sally, just to be on the safe side. Though to be frank, I also wouldn't be surprised to see him pitch in High-A ball, simply due to his status as a high-round, college prospect.

Monday, March 5, 2012

OTF Top 30: No. 10, Hector Sanchez, C

No. 10: Hector Sanchez, catcher



Age: 22
Country: Venezuela
Signed: 2006
2011 Regular Season numbers: .302 average, .338 OBP, .533 slugging, .871 OPS, .369 wOBA, 114 wRC+, 31 runs scored, 11 home runs, 58 RBI (High-A); .261 average, .315 OBP, .340 slugging, .655 OPS, .290 wOBA, 58 wRC+, 15 runs scored, 1 home run, 15 RBI (Triple-A); .258 average, .324 OBP, .646 OPS, .292 wOBA, 83 wRC+, 0 runs scored, 0 home runs, 1 RBI (Majors)
2011 Fall/Winter Season numbers: .339 average, .402 OBP, .548 slugging, .950 OPS, 0.49 BB/K ratio, 29 runs scored, 9 home runs, 39 RBI (Venezuela Winter League).


Why you should know about Sanchez in 2012?

Sanchez probably was the highest riser in the Giants system last year. After being left out of the Top-30 Giants prospects list in Baseball America, he jumped all the way to No. 10 this year after playing in the California League, Pacific Coast League and Majors last season. Sanchez is the no. 3 rated catcher according to most analysts and publications, but Sanchez may be the most Major League-ready out of the catching prospects in the Giants system. With Buster Posey's long-term career at catcher in doubt after his horrendous injury a year ago, and with Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside not very viable backup options behind the plate, it wouldn't be surprising to see Sanchez harness himself a backup backstop position as soon as this season.


What are Sanchez's strengths as a prospect?

Sanchez is coming off a solid, overall season in 2011 and an eye-popping VWL campaign where he hit .330 along with nine home runs. Sanchez profiles very similarly to Pablo Sandoval when Sandoval was a catching prospect in the sense that he doesn't have a ton of power, but he makes good contact at the plate (plus 80 percent contact rate at every level sans his San Jose campaign last year). Furthermore, like Sandoval, while he doesn't draw huge walk rates (he's been around eight percent for his minor league career), he doesn't strike out a whole lot either.

While the power was always a question with Sanchez early in his minor league career, he did post 11 home runs in 212 at-bats in San Jose, which was six more than the total he hit in Augusta in 310 at-bats in 2010. While the power may be a product of the league, Sanchez could be a guy who could hit 10-15 home runs a year with regular playing time (Rob Gordon rated his power as a four-plus). Furthermore, he is only 22 years old, so his power may develop as he gets older in a similar fashion to Sandoval (who was not a highly graded power hitter in the minors).

For the most part, his defense had earned solid, though not spectacular grades. His arm has garnered rave reviews, as Mike Newman noted this about him in his scouting report when Sanchez was manning the backstop as a Green Jacket in 2010:

"In game action, Sanchez beamed a 1.93 to second base to gun down a Sand Gnats baserunner attempting to steal second base which left scouts looking at each other speechless.  Between innings, Sanchez continued to display a strong arm and quick feet.  His transfer needs a bit of work, but behind Christian Bethancourt, Sanchez had the best pop times I saw all season."


In terms of receiving, Newman noted that Sanchez needed a lot of work in terms of technique (Newman noted that he "tended to stab at the ball"), but reports were much better in 2011, as Baseball America noted that he "blocks the ball well" in their Prospect Handbook for 2012. Gordon noted that he is a bit raw in terms of his receiving and blocking skills, so it may be a matter of just getting more experience behind the plate for Sanchez in terms of improving defensively. While he may not be graded as high defensively as an Andrew Susac, he may turn out better than Tommy Joseph, whose defense improved in 2011, but is still a major question mark for him as a prospect as he moves forward.

Also, there are a lot of intangibles that work greatly in Sanchez's favor. His callup and exposure to the Big Leagues gave him some nice professional experience, and he held his own well, both offensively and defensively, a big plus considering he was playing in the Sally the previous year. Furthermore, Baseball America noted that despite limited English he communicates extremely well with pitchers. When you think about how much is invested in the Giants staff, that kind of report only bodes well in his favor in terms of earning playing time at the next level.


Where might Sanchez struggle?

Sanchez still needs a lot of development as a prospect, and his callup could be more hurtful than beneficial in the long run. We have seen prospects get rushed to the big leagues too soon, and though Sanchez didn't hurt his stock with the Giants, he certainly looked like a guy who needed some work in the minors. While the most likely destination for him to begin 2012 is in Fresno, he could earn a backup position with a good Spring Training (and so far, he's off to a good start). While some would say that Sanchez being a backup justifies his status and development as a prospect, I would also take it (should it happen) with some prudence, mainly because he's going to have limited at-bats, and limited opportunities considering Posey is a premium player at the position. He could be above-average as a Major League backup this year, but with more seasoning in the minors, he could turn out to be a good catcher at the Major League level in the future.

As noted, defensively he has gotten mixed reports, though he has gotten better. The one main concern about Sanchez is his frame, as he is 5-foot, 11 inches but sits at 225 pounds. Newman noted this in his report, hinting that his weight could have affected him defensively in 2010. While the Giants training staff has had success in terms of getting guys into playing shape (Sandoval being the prime example), his weight is going to be a concern as he gets older and moves up the system. If Sanchez can stay in shape, then his future will look bright and undoubtedly, his defensive skills will continue their upward progression. If not, then his stock as well as defense could slip, especially considering how difficult the position is on the body.

Another tool that is a bit of a question mark is Sanchez's power. While the 11 home runs in San Jose are nice, inflated power numbers are typical for prospects in the Cal League (and he didn't touch the 10 mark at any other level, and that included ISO numbers, which are pretty pedestrian when you look beyond San Jose). Because he didn't play in Double-A in 2011, it is hard to gauge how much of Sanchez's power is for real, and how much is just due to a hitter-friendly environment. Sanchez most likely will not be a 20-plus home run hitter in his career. That being said, at this point, just judging from his SJ and VWL numbers, it is plausible that he could hit up to 15 home runs with regular playing time. Then again, he could be a 6-8 home run hitter, as his extra base hit percentage never topped 31 sans his SJ campaign. 2012 should be a good gauge for Giants fans and management to see what kind of power Sanchez will bring to the table as a catching prospect.


Grades on Sanchez's tools:

Hitting for average/contact ability: 15/20 (He has showed a strong ability to make contact in the minors, but he has only hit over .300 in the DSL and High-A ball. Sanchez tends to hit too many ground balls, so that severely drops his value. However, he's not a big whiffer, and if he can continue to hone his approach at the plate, it's plausible to think that he could be a .260-.270 hitter at the next level, which would be good for a catcher.)
Power: 13/20 (I'm selling low on this simply because I think his Cal League stats were a product of power inflation. That being said, I didn't think he'd be more than a single-digit home run, sub-.400 slugging hitter prior to 2011, and the strides he made last year and this Winter in the VWL have me thinking differently. If the power continues to trend upward, then Giants could have a nice little bat with some pop off the bench in 2012.)
Plate approach: 17/20 (Other than his arm, this is probably his best tool set. He has consistently posted good BB/K ratios in the minors and that transitioned in his stint in the Majors. The main reason I believe his power could develop is because his plate approach is already so developed for his age. I don't give him an A-ranking because while it's good, it certainly isn't spectacular by any means. That being said, I think his plate approach will continue to carry him at the plate as he gets more experience in the high minors and majors.)
Speed: 11/20 (He's a catcher and he has zero career stolen bases in the minors. Furthermore, with his size, he may be a bit of a base clogger if he doesn't maintain weight. But like I said, he is a catcher, so we shouldn't expect too much out of this grade.)
Defense: 16/20 (His arm is a plus tool of his. His receiving and blocking still need work. But like his power, they're trending upward and he'll only get better with more and more innings behind the plate.)
Health/Makeup/Intangibles: 18/20 (He gets good reviews for his game-calling and work with pitchers, and his improvement in all areas of his game last season despite being an unheralded prospect going into 2011 certainly bode well for his future. At this moment, my gut tells me he's a better option than Whiteside or Stewart, but as I said before, I am hesitant to rush him because I don't want the Giants to hinder his development.)


Overall Grade: B-
Projection: Utility catcher most likely, but with good chance to be a starting catcher if he continues to impress in 2012. At the very worst, a career backup.

Summary: I like Sanchez a lot. Originally, I graded him as a C+, but I amped it up to a B- because I really think he can be a good starting catcher at the Major League level. He doesn't have to potential or upside of a Posey, Joseph or even Susac, but he should be at least above replacement level, which is a heck of a lot better than what the Giants have gotten or will get out of Stewart or Whiteside. 2012 will be an important year, and while I don't think it's a make or break season by any means (remember he's still only 22 years old), he does need to continue to produce offensively and defensively. Any set backs this year would be a huge blow to his future.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Final Changes to the OTF Top 30 List

I know prospect lists should be final, but I had to make a final tweak to the rankings. With Angel Villalona's visa being delayed, the possibility of him not playing another year is very real (though I do think he'll get here at some point). The main reason for the delay allegedly is that he is applying for a visa meant for athletes and apparently his physical shape didn't check out with those dispersing visas for such athletes. That report scares me and makes me less optimistic that he'll recapture the potential he had when he was playing in the minors as recently as 2009.

So, I added two others at the No. 30 spot, since I felt they were both deserving. I added pitcher Chris Marlowe and outfielder Roger Kieschnick. Marlowe is a relief pitcher out of Oklahoma State whose frame and strikeout ability has gotten Tim Lincecum-comparisons, while Kieschnick is a bit of a tumbler but did post solid power numbers in the Eastern League a year ago.

This should be the last change and I apologize for all the flip-flopping. I just want to get these rankings as accurate as possible and the later rankings are always the toughest.

OTF Top 30: No. 9, Eric Surkamp, LHP

No. 9: Eric Surkamp, left-handed pitcher.



Age: 24
Drafted: Sixth round (177th overall) in the 2008 MLB Draft
College: North Carolina State
2011 Regular season numbers: 10-4 W-L, 23 games, 142.1 innings pitched, 37 runs allowed, 110 hits allowed, 44 walks, 165 strikeouts, 2.02 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 2.37 FIP, 3.75 BB/K ratio (Double-A). 2-2 W-L, 6 games, 26.2 IP, 32 hits allowed, 18 runs allowed, 17 walks, 13 strikeouts, 5.74 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 4.68 FIP, 0.76 BB/K ratio (MLB).
2011 Fall/Winter League numbers: None


Why you should know about Surkamp in 2012:

Surkamp is one of the more enigmatic pitching prospects in the Giants system. Scouts don't think he has the velocity to be anything more than a back-of-the-rotation or spot starter at the next level. On the other hand, stat guys point out that his dominance and command rates illustrate that he has the potential to be a legitimate middle-of-the-rotation starter in the Big Leagues. Surkamp's future probably lies somewhere in the middle (hopefully), but his brief Major League stint in 2011 didn't do anything to sway critical scouts in the other direction. Surkamp won't spend much time in the minors in 2012 (he most likely is starting in Fresno barring injury AND an incredible Spring), but he'll be an interesting arm to keep an eye out on, especially if Barry Zito or Ryan Vogelsong struggle in the rotation.


What are Surkamp's strengths as a prospect?

After being drafted in the sixth round out of NC State, Surkamp appeared to profile as a low-ceiling pitcher who could advance quickly in the minors. Not only has Surkamp advanced in the Giants system (even though he did start out his career in the Sally his first full season), but he has pretty much dominated at every level in the Minors.

Surkamp sports plus control and command, and has demonstrated that with excellent walk to strikeout ratios in the Minors, and his tenure in Richmond last season was probably his most impressive stint yet. In 142.1 innings pitched, he struck out 165 while only allowing 44 free passes, good for a BB/K ratio of 3.75 and a FIP of 2.37. Even though the Eastern League tends to favor pitchers, Surkamp's numbers in Richmond were no fluke, as he was dominant in Augusta in 2009 and San Jose in 2010 as well, posting BB/K ratios of 4.33 and 4.19, respectively. His San Jose numbers are especially impressive since the Cal League tends to favor hitters, and despite those circumstances working against him in 2010, he still managed to post a FIP of 2.54.

While he doesn't sport tremendous velocity on his fastball (it is graded a three-plus by Rob Gordon of the MiLBA and it sits in the 87-90 MPH range), his deceptive three-quarters pitching motion, excellent control and plus curve ball have contributed heavily to his dominance in the minors. Daniel Jarrett of MLB Prospect Portal gave Surkamp positive reviews in a game report of a Surkamp start against the Akron Aeros on May 29th, noting this about Surkamp in his report:


"Surkamp's fastball was topping out around 90 MPH, but he showed great command of his offspeed pitches, mixing them in to keep the Aeros lineup off balance all game. His changeup and curveball both rate as plus pitches but his fastball will be big league average at best, even if he's able to add an MPH or two as he continues to get stronger...

It's not often you see a pitcher with a league average fastball who is able to record as many strikeouts as Surkamp, but its a credit to the quality of his secondary pitches and his poise on the mound. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain those rates throughout his career but his definitely has the pitchability to be a successful big league pitcher. His upside is likely as a #2 or #3 starter, who can log plenty of quality innings while giving his team a chance to win each and every night."

Surkamp doesn't have the stuff or ceiling of a pitcher like Kyle Crick or previous pitching prospects in the Giants system such as Zack Wheeler (currently in the Mets organization) or Madison Bumgarner. However, he is a prospect who knows how to pitch and has displayed excellent poise and presence on the mound at every stop in the Minors. It's those intangibles that make Surkamp such an interesting prospect, and help make up what he lacks in terms of tools and velocity.



Where might Surkamp struggle?

Surkamp was called up to the Majors late last season and did not impress in his six-start "cup of coffee" with the Big League club. Not only was he extremely hittable (he allowed 10.8 hits per nine innings), but he displayed none of the dominance, control or command that made him such a great prospect in the minors. His BB/K ratio was putrid at 0.76, amplified by a walk rate of 5.7 (he never posted a walk rate higher than 3.2 in the minors, and that was in his first season of professional ball at Salem Keizer).

It made sense why Surkamp didn't dominate in the Majors like he did in the Minors in 2011. His stuff really isn't all that impressive. Despite sporting good size at six-feet, four inches and a 190 pounds, Surkamp tops out at 90 MPH on his fastball and is consistently in the 87-89 range. While that is passable for a Major League starter, it leaves little room for error and it certainly isn't the velocity one would expect from a major pitching prospect. Furthermore, Surkamp is a three pitch pitcher, and while his curve has gotten good reports, his changeup has gotten mixed results (most likely due to the fact that his fastball doesn't generate a lot of speed). While asking Surkamp to develop a fourth pitch at this stage of his professional career is a huge stretch, Surkamp most likely has to develop his current pitch repertoire even more to be successful. How he will induce groundballs at the Major League level will probably be the key to his success. since I doubt his 10.6 career K/9 will translate. According to Baseball America in their handbook, his two seam fastball does tail, sink and induce groundballs, but that was hardly evident at the big league level, as he only posted a GB/FB rate of 0.91 (though the 26.1 line drive rate probably had something to do with it being so low).

Hence, the big question about Surkamp is this: can his repertoire and approach transition to the Major League level? Or is Surkamp simply one of those pitchers that can succeed against marginal talent, but not against elite hitters with better approaches? The tenure in San Francisco suggests the latter, but it was only a short six-game sample, and Surkamp had logged 142.1 innings in Richmond and six innings in San Jose in addition to his stint with the Giants. Surkamp may have just been a bit worn out, and wasn't ready or in the proper shape to face Major League hitters. Of course, that's just theory, and Giants fans won't really know how Surkamp will fare in the long run at the Major League level until he logs a larger sample.


Grades on Surkamp's Tools:

Fastball: 15/20 (It certainly isn't impressive in terms of velocity, but his two seamer does offer some hope that he can induce groundballs at the next level. His size does suggest that he has the potential to increase the velocity on his fastball, but even then, it'll probably be an increase of 1-2 MPH at best. Whether the velocity increases or not, he'll need to rely on more than just his fastball at the next level in order to be successful.)
Curveball: 17/20 (His curve, according to Baseball America, is knowing for finishing off pitchers, and it has good sweeping action at 75-78 MPH according to Gordon. While we're not look at a Barry Zito-esque curve here, it is a plus secondary pitch that Surkamp will probably hinge on in order to be successful as a starting pitcher. He locates it well, so he has that going in his favor.)
Changeup: 16/20 (The report vary, but his changeup did show signs of effectiveness at times in 2011. While his lack of fastball velocity doesn't maximize the value of his changeup, Baseball America did report that it works well against right handed hitters. Considering how Tim Lincecum's success in 2010 hinged on his changeup despite a decrease in fastball velocity from the previous year, this could be the pitch in Surkamp's repertoire that makes or breaks Surkamp's projection as a Major League pitcher.)
Mechanics: 18/20 (His three quarters delivery is deceptive, and his tall frame further makes things difficult for opposing hitters when it comes to seeing his pitches. On tape, Surkamp has a steady delivery that moves smoothly and doesn't exert too much effort.  His easy delivery probably prohibits him from getting more behind his fastball, but I will take the added control and command of his delivery over one that inhibits more speed, but more wildness in his pitches.)
Command/Control: 19/20 (A huge plus tool of his. Surkamp is fearless and isn't afraid to attack hitters inside despite sporting an average fastball. While this wasn't the case in San Francisco (he was too nitpicky in his callup), his track record shows that he has the potential to bounce back in 2012 and display the command that made him such a fast riser in the Giants system. While I think the K/9 rates won't translate at the Major League level, I do think his control will, which will equalize the regression in strikeouts in the Big Leagues.)
Ceiling: 16/20 (He probably projects as a back-end starter, maybe a 3rd starter at best. Furthermore, at his age, he really doesn't have much more room for development, so it's kind of now or never right now for Surkamp. Still though, if he can recapture the control he showed in the Minors at the Big League level, he could be a valuable fourth or fifth starter for the Giants as soon as this season.)
Health/Makeup/Intangibles: 16/20 (He suffered a torn labrum in his hip in 2010 which ended his San Jose campaign early, but he rebounded from surgery in 2011 and posted solid numbers. While he doesn't have a massive injury history, the hip injury in 2010 will be something to watch out for in the near future. Surkamp also was a sixth round pick, so that goes against him in terms of projection (usually less-heralded guys are less-heralded for a reason). That being said, Surkamp has a good work ethic and has adjusted well at every stop he has been at, so that definitely bodes well in his favor.)


Overall grade: B-
Projection: No. 4 or No. 5 Major League starting pitcher; could be spot starter or long innings reliever.

Summary: Surkamp has garnered quite the fan base amongst Giants fans which can be a good thing (Pablo Sandoval) or misleading (John Bowker). I love Surkamp's repertoire and approach as a pitcher, which I think makes up for his average tools as a pitcher. While I think the stint in San Francisco isn't a total indicator of Surkamp's potential in the Major Leagues, I think it was a warning sign for a lot of Giants fans who felt Surkamp was in line to achieve automatic success at the Big League level like Madison Bumgarner. He just doesn't have the tools like Bumgarner to be that dominant. However, if he can recapture his control and confidence, then it is likely to see Surkamp achieve some success on the Giants staff. He won't have have much room for error, but it certainly isn't out of the question.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

OTF Top 30: No. 8, Kyle Crick, RHP

No. 8: Kyle Crick, right-handed pitcher



Age: 19
Drafted: 16th pick in the Supplemental First Round (49th overall) in the 2011 MLB Draft
High School: Sherman High School (Texas)
2011 Regular Season numbers: 7 games, 7.0 innings pitched, 9 hits allowed, 8 runs allowed, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts, 6.43 ERA, 2.43 WHIP, 4.77 FIP, 1.00 BB/K ratio (Arizona Rookie League).
2011 Fall/Winter League numbers: None


Why you should know about Crick in 2012:

A heralded prep arm in a prep-heavy pitching class in the 2011 draft, Crick went to the Giants' slot at No. 49. The pick was heralded by some analysts, including  ESPN's Keith Law, who gave the Giants high marks for the selection (and remember, he lambasted the Joe Panik pick in the first round). Considering how thin the pitching ranks are with the graduation Madison Bumgarner in 2010 and the trade of Zack Wheeler in 2011, Crick has the most potential out of any current pitching prospect in the Giants system. Of course, Crick is still very young and only pitched seven innings in a limited Rookie League campaign in 2011. While the brief stint in the AZL didn't impress statistically, he's still a projectable pitcher with a high ceiling and a lot of time for development. If he can take to the Giants' pitching instruction (and all signs point that he will), then he will certainly be on a lot of baseball analysts' radar in 2013.



What are Crick's Strengths as a Prospect?


The reports on Crick prior to the 2011 draft were very stellar, as John Klima of the Baseball Prospect Report (formerly Baseball Beginnings) had a lot of sterling things to say about Cricks' performances in high school (he saw him in person twice). At the time, Crick was committed to go and play ball at TCU, but Klima pointed out at the time that he had the potential to be a very high draft pick in the 2011 draft. Here's what Klima said in his scouting report:

"I had a brief look at Texas right-hander Kyle Crick over the summer. I liked him. Yes, I did. So did TCU, who scooped some of the other Texas schools to land his commitment. I have a sneaky feeling that the draft might play a role for this guy, but as time and experience have taught us, you never know which way a guy goes until after the dust settles...

Strengths: FB 89-93, comfortable 90-92, hard downhill with tail, heavy ball. Can reach back for a little more and elevate when needed. SL 81-83 with hard bite, go-to weapon. Hard and late. Split 81 with hard drop. Straight CHG 80-81, assume those weren’t flat sliders, secondary SL 72-73 with drop."

Klima gave him an OFP of 54, with his fastball and slider earning 50/65 and 40/55 grades respectively. His control was a bit of concern in Klima's reports, as he only graded it a 30/55, but Klima was very high on Crick's mechanics, noting that his "arm smooth through back, body sometimes out in front of arm, arm catches up, gets extension and balanced landings."

For the most part, a lot of the reports on Crick's were very similar to Klima's. Crick pretty much slipped to the Giants' supplemental slot due to a bevy of talented pitching going in the first round (including prep arms Henry Owens, Joe Ross and Robert Stephenson). Crick dominated in high school, going 7-2 with a 1.11 ERA in 13 starts as a senior, and the remarks he got from his high school coach were also glowing as well:


"He's got the most powerful arm I've ever coached," Senato told the Texas Herald Democrat. "He's got a lot of upside -- he's not a polished product at all. His changeup's going to be better, and he's got more velocity in his arm. He can get to 97 or 98 mph at some point."

Of course, high school numbers and coaches' remarks always have to be taken with a grain of salt (what is his coach going to say? "Oh he sucks! The Giants made a huge mistake!"), but Crick seems to be a prospect with real potential. Even if you don't look at the velocity and grades on his pitches, his size alone (six-foot, three inches, 225 pounds) makes him an interesting prospect and gives him potential for a lot of velocity. And when you watch him on tape, there is a lot to like about his pitching motion, as he has a smooth delivery and seems to hide the ball well.

Furthermore, the fact that Crick got some playing experience after signing was a huge plus in his favor. While it wasn't the best stint, it was more professional experience than what other draft picks Andrew Susac or Ricky Oropesa or Josh Osich garnered last year (they had none). The exposure to professional pitching, hitting and instruction from last year's stint undoubtedly will make it a smoother transition for him in 2012, especially considering all the "draft hoopla" has worn off since his stint.



Where might Crick struggle?

Crick is years away from reaching his peak, and his stint in the Arizona Rookie League showed that. He struggled with control and command, as he gave up eight walks, nine hits and eight runs in seven innings of work in Arizona. Of course, he was just 18 years old and just coming off signing a $900 K signing bonus, so it is likely that he may have either been a little distracted or overwhelmed when he made his professional debut in 2011.

Still, Crick's control is always going to be an issue. As noted before, it was one of his lower grades in Klima's scouting report, and if he wants to have a career as a starting pitcher, he needs to be able to get those issues resolved, even if it is at a gradual pace. If he continues to walk hitters at the high rate he displayed in the AZL last year, then his career as a starter might be short, which in turn, would be a massive hit to his status as a prospect.

While Crick has a solid fastball and slider combination, he still needs work on his third and fourth pitches. He does sport a change and split finger fastball, but they haven't graded out as impressive pitches by any stretch of the imagination. With instruction, I am hopeful that he'll be able to hone a third pitch and at least make a fourth pitch average or slightly below. That being said, that might take a couple of seasons before we see the result of that instruction pay off, especially considering it will be his first full year as a professional in 2012, and he will just be learning how to pitch in general.

One the main weaknesses that has been noted about Crick is his strength and stamina as a pitcher, as it was a bit of a question mark in high school. While his stamina wasn't noted as poor by any measure, he only pitched 13 games in high school, so he has to get acclimated quickly to a full professional season. With his size and already solid frame (225 pounds), his conditioning will be important. If he doesn't stay in shape, it won't be hard to see his frame get out of control and hurt his stamina. While I think he's still young enough to stay in the current shape he's in, and I think management will keep a close eye on Crick (simply due to their investment in him). A pitcher's condition and stamina are always important aspects to keep tabs on, especially as they are breaking into the professional level and getting accustomed to the habits it takes to be a Major League pitcher (let's just say very few pitchers can get away with the Livan Hernandez Diet Plan).


Grades on Crick's tools:

Fastball: 17/20 (Solid now, but with the potential to grade much higher as he gets older and more developed as a pitcher. Currently his fastball goes in the 89-93 MPH range and comfortably in the 90-92 MPH range according to Klima. But, as noted before, his size gives him room for potential, as it could sit in the 93-95 MPH range in the next year or two.)
Slider: 17/20 (His best secondary pitch, Crick's slider ranges from 81-83 MPH and has good movement and a hard bite, according to Klima. If his fastball continues to keep or gain velocity, then I could see this pitch being even more effective in the future.)
Changeup/Split Finger: 13/20 (The reports are nothing special on these two pitches. His changeup, according to reports, is 80-81 MPH but is pretty straight. As for his split, it has a hard drop and sits in the 81 MPH range. If he wants to hold his own as a starting pitcher prospect, he's going to need to develop one or even both of these pitches.)
Mechanics: 17/20 (Klima was high on his mechanics, and on tape, his delivery and motion look pretty clean. He has fluid movement and moves quickly to the plate. Also, I like the way his motion disguises the ball, which only makes things look faster and harder to hit for batters. I bet there will be some tweaks done by the pitching staffs in the Giants organization, but Crick gives them a solid foundation to work with).
Command/Control: 13/20 (Klima noted that he had some work to do with his control, and his Rookie League stats showed that. Furthermore, he learned quickly that he isn't simply going to dominate hitters as easily as he did in Texas High School ball. I think his struggles with command and control are correctable, but he has a lot to work on in 2012.)
Ceiling: 17/20 (With the combination of his fastball/power slider combo, Crick already profiles as a solid Major League pitcher. Whether or not he will become a mainstay in the Giants' rotation depends on how well he develops his third and fourth pitches. If he that development happens, he could be a starting pitcher with a No. 2 ceiling. If not, then he's probably destined for the bullpen.)
Health/Makeup/Intangibles: 18/20 (He's gotten high remarks from the organization (John Barr was very high on Crick after they drafted him) as well as from the scouting community, and he signed early enough to at least get some work in the Rookie League before the 2011 season ended. Crick still has a long road to go as a prospect, and as we have seen in the past, the road of a pitching prospect is often an unpredictable one. But right now, it seems like Crick is on the right path for success.)


Overall Grade: B-
Projection: Starting Major League pitcher. Best case: No. 2 starter. Worst case: Middle innings reliever.

Summary: I'm conservative with the Crick grade because a.) He's barely out of high school and b.) his Rookie League stint wasn't all the impressive (though it was a VERY small sample). That being said, I do think Crick can progress to be a B or B+ pitching prospect in the near future. He sports impressive size and tools, and the Giants have an excellent track record when it comes to developing pitching in their minor league system. Crick has the kind of raw skills and size that Matt Cain sported when he was drafted out of high school in the 2002 draft. Am I saying he's going to be a carbon copy of Cain? Of course not, but he has that potential, and if he pans out and develops in the Minors, then I think he could project to be a Cain-esque pitcher for the Giants in the future.