Guest Post: Giants’ Top Prospects
It’s hell week (finals) for me right now, so it’s perfect time for a guest post. This is Ben Yarrington listing his top 10 prospects for the Giants:
10. Luke Anders, 1B – Anders was selected in the 32nd round (957th overall) of the 2009 amateur draft. Anders attended Texas A&M University and enjoyed a great deal of success (.344/.480/.660 with 15 homeruns). Anders was known in college for his ability to pound right handed pitchers. In Anders’ first year in the minors, he fared somewhat well, posting a line of .284/.370/.413 at Short-Season A, Salem-Keizer. In 2010, Anders saw a bit of improvement in his numbers at the class A Augusta Greenjackets. He is viewed as above average defensively, and has excellent range due in part to his (left) handedness.
2010 stats: 501 AB, .285/.340/.443/.783, 14 HR, 43 BB, 147 SO
Perfect world comparison: James Loney
9. Jorge Bucardo, P – Bucardo was an international prospect the Giants picked up from Nicaragua. He was not drafted by any team and has no college on record. The Giants signed Bucardo in 2007 when he was only 17 years old. From 2007 to 2009 across different levels of the minors, Bucardo compiled a 2.52 ERA in just under 200 innings pitched. In that time, Bucardo has also posted an Impressive WHIP of just 1.06 to go with 154 strikeouts and only 43 walks. He lost a bit of his control recently, surrendering more walks than he’s used too. Unfortunately, Bucardo’s strikeout total has also taken a hit. However, he’s still living up to the expectations that were given when he was signed by the Giants. This year, the 20 year old Bucardo has pitched for the Class A Augusta Greenjackets and the Class Advanced A San Jose Giants. He was just recently called up to San Jose, so a majority of his stats come from Augusta
2010 stats: 11-6, 2.77 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 152.2 IP, 129 Hits, 6 HR, 121 SO, 50 BB (2.42 K/BB ratio)
Perfect world comparison: Fausto Carmona
8. Roger Kieschnick, RF – Kieschnick was drafted by the Giants in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft. He’s a very interesting player as he is a 5-tool guy, although he has quite a few flaws. He’s reviewed as being very good defensively with lots of range and a strong arm as well as very good power ratings, but appears to be a low contact hitter. It’s said that he has a poor approach at the plate even though he walks a fair amount. Kieschnick is one of the Giants strongest prospects as his swing uses mostly arm strength, as well as having the aforementioned outfield arm.
2010 stats: 223 AB, .251/.305/.368/.673, 4 HR, 18 BB, 55 SO
Perfect world comparison: Hunter Pence
7. Brandon Crawford, SS – Crawford is another very interesting prospect. Crawford was viewed as the steal of the 2008 draft. He had 1st round talent but was drafted in the 4th round due to a poor junior season at UCLA. He continually shows flashes of excellence that often stump scouts, but then settles back down to earth. He’s also viewed as another potential 5-tool player, if he gets his contact hitting ability up – and that’s a big if. Crawford has tremendous defense all around; speed, range, arm accuracy and strength. While he does seem to have some raw left handed power, he’s never been able to translate that into games. Overall, Crawford has tremendous defense, and a lot of potential with the bat, but hasn’t put it together offensively, yet.
2010 stats: 309 AB, .236/.332/.366/.698, 7 HR, 41 BB, 82 SO
Perfect world comparison: Stephen Drew
6. Conor Gillaspie, 3B – Gillaspie was a compensation pick in 2008 due to the Phillies’ signing of Pedro Feliz. He was the 37th overall pick and he bats left handed yet throws righty. He’s shown he can handle the hot corner well enough, but his defense is nothing spectacular. He doesn’t quite have the power you’d expect from a corner infielder, but he does hit the gaps pretty well. All signs, offensively and defensively, point to him becoming a second basemen eventually.
2010 stats: 491 AB, .287/.335/.420/.754, 8 HR, 37 BB, 67 SO
Perfect world comparison: Placido Polanco
5. Charlie Culberson, INF – Culberson is a bit of a surprise to see on this list, but he’s improved his game in virtually every way possible. In 2 years at Single A Augusta, he posted a line of: .241/.299/.311/.610, 5 HR with a strikeout percentage of just under 20 and a K/BB ratio over 3. Everything was going wrong for Culberson. Not only was he being incredibly impatient, but he just wasn’t seeing or hitting the ball well either. Now, I was almost positive Culberson would return to his old ways this season, but at every possible opportunity, he’s proved me wrong. His K rate has dropped to 17.8%, his power numbers have improved, he’s walking more and he’s showing better overall judgment. If there was ever reason to believe that Culberson’s stats would take a hit, the departure of Brandon Belt to double A Richmond would be it. Culberson did hit a one week slump, but has come back hotter than ever since. Culberson has played over 100 games at 2B, 3B and SS each in the minor leagues and while he is improving nearly every season defensively, he is still considered a bit of a below average defender.
2010 stats: 503 AB, .290/.340/.457/.797, 16 HR, 33 BB, 99 SO
Perfect world comparison: Martin Prado
4. Francisco Peguero, OF – Peguero is a particularly interesting prospect because he’s one of the few players where his natural skill is matched by his intensity and passion for the game. Many of the Giants’ minor league coaches say his enthusiasm and high-energy performance remind them of 2009 star Pablo Sandoval. Unlike Sandoval, Peguero is an outstanding athlete with plus range in the outfield as well as a plus arm. Peguero hits for more contact than power due to his inside-out style swing. His ability to run the bases well is another key attribute for Peguero, as he uses that to make up for his over aggressiveness at the plate which might lead to walks becoming strikeouts. He was added to the 40 man roster not long ago, and if he continues progressing as he has been, he should be a September call up in 2011.
2010 stats: 510 AB, .329/.358/.488/.846, 10 HR, 18 BB, 88 SO
Perfect world comparison: Austin Jackson
3. Zach Wheeler, P – Wheeler is a favorite of mine, as he was the only one I wanted in the 2009 draft. Wheeler has 3 main pitches: Fastball, changeup, slider. Wheeler claims to have a two seem and four seam fastball. His fastball is generally in the 91-94 MPH range, but can top out at 96 on his best days. It tails away from right handed batters and towards left handed batters. Wheeler’s slider is viewed as his best pitch. It comes out of his hands at the exact same point as the fastball and for most of the flight looks exactly like the fastball. It breaks a little earlier than scouts would prefer, so he could improve in that sense. It has a very hard break and generates lots of swings and misses. Wheeler’s changeup is his worst pitch at the moment. The velocity of it is too close to that of the fastball to get hitters off balance. Wheeler is working incredibly hard to develop his changeup, however.
2010 stats: 3-3, 3.99 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 58.2, 47 Hits, 0 HR, 70 SO, 38 BB (1.82 K/BB ratio)
Perfect world comparison: C.J. Wilson
2. Thomas Neal, OF – Thomas Neal is a very attractive prospect as he’s worked to fix the overwhelming problem he had in previous years. In 2006 and 2008, Neal struck out about 20% of the time he came to bat. In 2009 that number dropped to 17% and in 2010, 16%. Other than that, Neal could be considered a miniature version of a five tool prospect. Neal hits for good average, floating around .300 for his entire minor league career. Neal has also hit around 15 homeruns in each of his full minor league seasons. On top of that, he’s been rated as a +4 in total zone rating as far as defense goes throughout his minor league career, but these ratings are subject to speculation, he is also viewed as having an above average – but not excellent – throwing arm. As far as base running goes, he has above average speed, but does not have a particularly good jump and doesn’t attempt very often. In three full seasons of minor league play, he has 17 steals, but this is not very indicative of his natural athleticism and speed.
2010 stats: 525 AB, .291/.359/.440/.799, 12 HR, 46 BB, 94 SO (2.04 K/BB ratio)
Perfect world comparison: Nick Markakis
1. Brandon Belt, 1B – Now for the surprise of the century, Brandon Belt as the Giants’ #1 prospect. Belt, a 5th round pick out of Texas, was barely even on some top 20’s prior to this year. But Belt surprised everyone this year, flying through the minor leagues before ending the season in AAA Fresno. Belt, a 6’5”, 205 pound 1st basemen has incredible raw power as well as surprisingly good fielding fundamentals. Belt put up numbers that beat even that of the incredible Buster Posey, posting a line of .352/.455/.620/1.075 in 3 different levels of the minors. Belt figures to be a factor in determining who plays where next season, potentially pushing current first basemen Aubrey Huff into the outfield.
2010 stats: 492 AB, .352/.455/.620/1.075, 23 HR, 93 BB, 99 SO (1.06 K/BB ratio)
Perfect world comparison: Justin Morneau