Sunday, December 14, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
For an overview of the process I use to grade players, the factors I use in determining where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the season starts. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me.
You can find a full listing of each team's top prospect list in the Top Prospects of 2009 Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team's best fan sites. We continue with the rest of the San Francisco Giants...
Also See: San Francisco Giants, Prospects 1 - 5
Body Type - lanky, smallish build
I had Sosa on my most underrated prospect list entering the 2008 season and I suppose one can still make that claim heading into next year.
He lost a half year of development with a leg injury, but he was solid overall in his return and he still boasts perhaps the second best arm in the entire system . The biggest question for Sosa was his control and he made strides to improve that mark this past year, by lowering his BB% from 12 to 7, while maintaining his strong K%.
One issue is his ability to get deep into games. He rarely reached the sixth inning. And usually he was consistently at his strongest in his frst two innings.
He's also a little older for his level, but he remains a prospect to watch heading into 2009.
Best Case Outcome - No. 3 starter
More Likely Outcome - Set-up man
I completed a scouting report on Gillaspie back in August. He has the potential to hit for a high batting average and already possesses strong plate discipline...power is still a question mark...would like to see him add a little bit more load to his swing.
Defense - He's below average at third, but that should improve as he gets more experience at the position given his athleticism and work ethic. His arm is solid enough.
I've said this before...I think he can handle second base and a switch would really increase his value. The problem is that the team is committed to Nick Noonan at second base for now. Given his versatility, it makes sense to use Gillaspie in a utility role, somebody who can give the Giants 500 ABs and play a bunch of different positions.
Should Noonan flame out, then a move to second makes sense. For now, he'll stay at third and hone his defensive craft.
Best Case Outcome - Average everyday third baseman or above average second baseman
More Likely Outcome - Really good utility player...think about the way Mark DeRosa has been utilized over the course of his career.
Body Type - athletic, projectable
I like to contrast Noonan with Gillaspie as they are both very similar in rating. Noonan has positional value (for now), upside in terms of power potential, age, and defense on his side. Gillaspie is the safer bet and shows a better ability to make contact, but he doesn't have Noonan's upside. The tie breaker for me is plate discipline, which Noonan has displayed very little of in his two seasons as a professional. Both have good looking swings.
Noonan showed at a young age he can handle full-season ball. He didn't excel, but he held his own. He wasn't a standout in any particular category...his average was solid, his power was OK (taking into account his age), and he didn't strike out too much, though it was on the high side.
However, the plate discipline really stood out in a negative light...he walked just 5.4% of the time in the AZL in 2007 and just 4.5% of the time in the Sally last year. He will really have to improve that mark going forward.
The Swing - Noonan owns a classic, pretty left handed swing--he carries his weight forward well, has a small loading of the hands, maintaining a short path to the ball, and let's the ball travel deep into his hitting zone.
His power is limited at the moment, but by filling out his frame and perhaps by making a mechanical adjustment or two (increase his load slightly?), he could end up with 15 - 20 home run power.
Defense - He played at second base all of last year as most felt his arm strength wasn't strong enough for shortstop. He shows good footwork and hands and should be an above average defensive player down the road. If needed, he could step in at shortstop.
Speed - Only average speed, but he's an excellent base runner as evidenced by his career 47 stolen bases in 54 attempts (87%).
Best Case Outcome - Above average everyday second baseman.
More Likely Outcome - Average everyday second baseman...his worst case outcome is a utility player role
Body Type - big and lacking projection
Pucetas appeared on my non-prospects to watch list heading into the 2008 season and he's earned prospect status with his 2009 performance.
He maintained his 2007 success in the tough California League and continued to show good control as well as displayed a bit more dominance by increasing his K% by 2.2%.
Pucetas is a four-pitch pitcher and doesn't have spectacular stuff, but it's good enough to eventually get out major leaguers. His fastball sits between 88 and 92 with good life. The curveball is of the slower variety, arriving in the mid-70's and it still needs work to become a major league average pitch, as does his slider. His best pitch is his change-up, which shows good tumbling action and an excellent differentiation between the speed of his fastball (anywhere from 7 - 10 mph difference).
Splits - Pucetas gets both lefties and righties out, but in different ways. His K-rate is usually better against lefties, but his ground ball outs usually come against righties. Lefties do have more successful against Pucetas, however.
Pucetas has only been a reliever for 21 innings, but his numbers did a take a spike in that role, so his stuff might uptick a bit out of the bullpen.
Best Case Outcome - No. 4 starter
More Likely Outcome - Quality middle reliever
Body Type - big, strong, and athletic
Kieschnick is a potential 5-tool player. He shows average to above average speed, a strong arm, and good instincts in right field. His power rates as plus, but he's a low contact hitter. He doesn't stay back on breaking balls and his approach is poor though he does manage to draw more than his fair share of walks.
It's a very armsy swing...he makes contact a little too far out in front, but he also doesn't achieve extension of his arms until after contact (or just before). When a hitter achieves extension before contact, their power is often neutralized. Kieschnick's swing path allows his power to be mostly of the pull variety. Because his swing is so armsy, he's not using his hips as efficiently as possible.
Best Case Outcome - Average right fielder...he's got the tools, but he's a major long shot to hone them all
More Likely Outcome - Fourth outfielder...he's good enough at other things to provide some value to a major league team
This is, for the most part, a numbers choice, small sample size be damned. His draft video showed inconsistent and somewhat stiff mechanics. His fastball moved all over the place, but he was unable to really command it and it lacked even average velocity. He showed a curveball with good bite, but again he couldn't locate it.
However, Barnes was battling his mechanics early in the season, which is when the video was shot. As the season wore on, Barnes was able to smooth out whatever problems he had early in the season. His fastball velocity also increased, often times clocking in the low-90's.
Most impressive from Barnes was how dominant he was in his first professional season. In six starts at Single-A Augusta, Barnes struck out 34% of the batters he faced, and more surprisingly walked just 5.4% of those hitters. His BABIP against was just .208, which actually isn't all that surprising since he is 1.) a fly ball pitcher, 2.) he's got good movement on his pitches and 3.) he employs a late body rotation, which makes it tough for hitters to pick up his release point. You can see this below.
We'll get an idea of whether his performance last year was for real or just a product of a small sample size by next season.
Grade - C+
Here is a sleeper candidate for you...Adrianza is a shortstop with a very strong glove and an athleti, projectable build. The power isn't there yet, but he's shown excellent plate discipline in his young career, dispalying both the ability to take a walk and make contact. He has a very short swing, but it's going to make hitting for power, as well as hitting the ball with true authority very difficult. His career BABIP reflects this. Notice in the clip below the initial loading of the hands, but take note how short his path is to the ball. Also take note of how close he keeps the bat to the body:
*Credit to Ehire13 (who I have to think is Ehire himself)
He's a long way off, but good defense at shorstop combined with good plate discipline is a solid building block for a player to start from.
Grade - C
King's mechanics are somewhat unorthodox and there are issues to iron out.
For one, King doesn't use momentum and gravity the best way he can. He's tall-and-fall in his wind-up, meaning he stops his wind-up as the knee reaches it's upper most point and then falls toward home plate. I would like him to drift through that balance point. Madison Bumgarner is a good example of this.
I also can't say I'm crazy about his arm action--I've never been a fan of upside down arm actions. Nor do I like his cross-body throwing motion and abrupt finish. So he has a lot to work on. No coach is going to able to "fix" all his problems, but they need to work with him ensure his mechanics are as efficient as possible.
Problems aside, there is a lot to like: King is young, projectable, athletic, left handed, seems to have an understanding of getting the body going and throwing with intent, and sports a low 90's, sinking fastball with the potential to add more velocity.
He's risky, but he's worth taking a shot on.
Grade - C
Fairley was mostly a disappointment last season. He showed little pop--just an .076 ISO-power and a .314 BABIP--and he hit the ball on the ground far too often. Fairley does have good tools...he's fast, athletic, has good bat speed,but his tools never really showed up in the actual games. He has to adjust his swing plane/path to have more lift after contact.
One positive was he walked quite a bit, so it was somewhat of a mystery as to why he didn't use his speed more. Something to take away from last season: the final month of the season, Fairley walked in 16% of his plate appearances, while striking out in just 12% of his PAs. We'll see if he can carry that success over to next year.
Grade - C
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Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Jesse English, Taylor Wilding, Charlie Culberson, Dan Otero, Jose Casilla, Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Oliver Odel, Steve Edlefson, Ben Snyder, Daryl Maday, Clayton Tanner, Edwin Quirarte
Rafael Rodriguez would appear on this list, but I don't have enough information on him to accurarely rate him.
Next Up: Baltimore Orioles, Prospects 1 - 5
Also See: San Francisco Giants Team Page
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