Splash Hits: The Regular Season Is Over

Should Barry Zito start in the postseason? « Bay City Ball – A Giants Blog
Nope, he shouldn’t. One can only hope Ryan Vogelsong sealed the deal in nabbing that playoff rotation spot with yesterday’s strong performance.

These Saber-Savvy San Francisco Giants | FanGraphs Baseball
Talk to Bobby Evans, Vice President of Baseball Operations, and you get a sense of a team with a strong process that includes inputs from both the old and the new school of baseball. And this isn’t some sort of new phenomenon in San Francisco.”

50th anniversary: Game No. 165 | The Hardball Times
Fifty years ago today, one of the greatest pennant races came to an end—with a game that was both great and greatly appropriate.”

Scouting Report: Giants Prospect Clayton Blackburn | Bullpen Banter
A scouting report on Giants pitching prospect Clayton Blackburn.

Let’s Talk About the Bullpen Instead – McCovey Chronicles
Do the Giants have a good playoff bullpen?

For NLDS, Reds’ lineup could be familiar | reds.com: News
The Reds featured Wednesday vs. the Cardinals what could very well be the lineup they show the Giants in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Saturday.”

Splash Hits: 8/21/12

The Cool Things That Madison Bumgarner Does | Getting Blanked | Blogs | theScore.com
Madison Bumgarner does cool things.

San Francisco Giants pitchers excel at ‘stealing’ strikes – ESPN
Giants pitchers have excelled at “stealing strikes” early in counts, as Chris Quick notes.

Scouting Report: Kyle Crick (RHP) | Baseball Prospect Nation
A scouting report on Giants pitching prospect Kyle Crick.

Pence’s Impatience Costing Him with Giants – Baseball Analytics Blog – MLB Baseball Analytics
Pence has been chasing lots of pitches since coming over to San Francisco.

Melky Cabrera’s Positive Test, Not Performance, Proves PED Use – Pinstripe Alley
There’s no concrete evidence to suggest that Melky’s use of PEDs was responsible for the uptick in his production.

What’s San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera worth now? – ESPN
Jayson Stark on what Melky Cabrera is worth now.

Splash Hits: The Giants Are 61-50

Scouting Report Giants Prospect Kyle Crick | Bullpen Banter
A comprehensive scouting report on Giants prospect and Augusta GreenJackets pitcher Kyle Crick.

Bonds is right: No-doubt Hall of Famer – SweetSpot Blog – ESPN
It almost goes without saying, but Barry Bonds is deserving of Hall of Fame induction, and there’s no doubt about it.

2012: Year of the Catcher? – Beyond the Box Score
A brief piece I wrote on the strong showing that 2012 catchers have put together. Buster Posey, along with Carlos Ruiz, leads the way.

In (Almost) Support of Lyle Overbay – McCovey Chronicles
Should the Giants sign Lyle Overbay? At first glance, no. At second glance, maybe. At third glance, no.

New Theory: Ryan Vogelsong is a wizard « Bay City Ball – A Giants Blog
Go for the Ryan Vogelsong analysis. Stay for the Brandon Crawford GIF.

Emerging star Melky and Giants agree to pick up contract talks after the year – CBSSports.com
Melky Cabrera and the Giants will put aside contract discussions for now, reports Jon Heyman.

The Importance of Gregor Blanco

Every spring, the Giants go out and sign a bunch of players to minor-league deals. It’s baseball’s bargain bin, and history would suggest the Giants are particularly adept at this dumpster diving. Most teams are happy to come across the occasional Joaquin Arias, a useful yet seriously flawed player that is capable of serving a functional purpose at the major-league level. In past years though, the Giants have struck gold: last year, it was Ryan Vogelsong, who now has a 2.50 ERA in 309.1 innings with San Francisco. In 2010, it was Santiago Casilla, who has pitched to a 160 ERA+ in 145.2 innings here. A couple years before, it was Andres Torres, who ended up playing an integral role in bringing the Giants their championship in 2010. This year’s hidden gem: Gregor Blanco.

Blanco has appeared in 91 games with the Giants, providing value in just about every possible way: at the plate, in the outfield, and on the basepaths. His season line currently stands at .238/.333/.352 (98 wRC+), and his defense has unquestionably saved many runs. Just the other day, he had another one of those otherworldly diving catches to rob Jordany Valdespin of an extra-base hit.

With Hunter Pence now donning the orange and black, the other outfielders — specifically Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco — will likely see their roles diminished. My initial guess was that Pagan would remain the regular centerfielder, given that he’s the established major-leaguer. But Pagan has been struggling for months now, and he’s really burned through his leash. Yesterday, after another couple poor at-bats from Pagan in the six-spot of the batting order, Bochy subbed in Gregor Blanco in the fifth inning. Blanco himself hasn’t exactly been hitting well since his blistering hot May, but he’s still surpassed Pagan in terms of overall hitting production, and his defense has been much better.

As Pagan continues to get mowed down at the plate, Blanco becomes more important — and not just for the stretch run. I’m talking 2013 as well. Back when Pagan was raking and Gary Brown had hit a roadblock in his development, there was discussion of Pagan’s future role with the team. He’s precisely the kind of player that could sign a relatively cheap one-year committment in the offseason, and then make way for Brown when the time came. But in the wake of his extended struggles, this would no longer appear to be a desirable route.

Enter Gregor Blanco, who could very well seize the everyday job from Pagan in center. Blanco enters his first year of arbitration eligibility this offseason, and given that it’s his first go-around, he’ll come pretty cheap. Gary Brown has finally hit his stride in Richmond, and he’s boosted his numbers from “disappointing” to “respectable.” But it’s still highly possible — probable, even — that the Giants won’t feel he’s developmentally ready by the start of 2013. In this case, why not rely on Blanco to start in centerfield, then eventually hand the job to Brown and put Blanco back in the roaming fourth outfielder role? Given that the Giants will already be focused on investing in the corner outfield (welcome back, Melky?) and middle infield markets this offseason, it would make a lot of sense for them to go with Blanco as the short-term solution in center — assuming, of course, that he continues to perform well over the rest of the season — and just worry about the other stuff.

Game Review: San Jose Giants At Modesto Nuts: 4/5/12

Yesterday I went down to Modesto to see the San Jose Giants season opener. The baby Giants roster features their 2011 1st and 2nd round draft picks (Joe Panik and Andrew Susac), 2010 2nd round pick Jarrett Parker as well as 2011 SAL all-stars Shawn Sanford and Adam Duvall. On the other side, Modesto started 2009 1st round pick Tyler Matzek who was one of the biggest enigmas in the minors last year, as well as 2010 1st round draft pick Kyle Parker and 2011 SAL All-star Corey Dickerson.

The most impressive prospect was probably Matzek, who struck out 7 in 4.2 innings and was pulled after 85 pitches. He pitched well, striking out the side twice and had his pitch count elevated by a Cristhian Adames throwing error in the first.

On the Giants side, Joe Panik looked good. He made two very nice defensive plays — one leaping to catch a ball, and one ranging to his right, spinning, and making an off balance throw. Offensively, he did a good job of grinding out at bats, which led to him drawing two walks including one that saw him battle back from a 1-2 hole by fouling off tough pitches. He also hit the ball that Adames made the error on, which was likely affected by his speed up the line.

On the other hand, Susac and Duvall had rough introductions to the Cal League. They both had the hat trick at the plate, and had issues defensively. Susac got charged with an error after dropping a pop-up. Duvall, meanwhile, had his range tested in the 9th and did not look great. It is still early and both can and likely will improve, especially Susac as he has a good defensive reputation.

Jarrett Parker had an interesting game. He threw out Kyle Parker trying to stretch a single into a double, and hit the first Giants HR, but also struck out, which was his major problem last season. One thing I did find interesting is that he played RF with Ryan Lollis playing CF. Parker was regarded as a good defensive CF coming out college, but played RF last year in deference to Gary Brown. I thought with Brown moving up they might try Parker back up the middle, but apparently he’s mainly a corner OF now.

Speaking of players who have a problem with strikeouts, Ricky Oropesa had a solid game. He singled to CF off Matzek in the first, and showed a solid ability to work the count, but also ended up with 2 K’s. He has upside as a three-true-outcomes type player, but his biggest key will be translating his strong raw power into game power, as well as not learning bad habits in the hitter-friendly Cal league.

Lastly, Shawn Sanford had a very solid start. He had some jitters initially walking the first batter of the game, but he calmed down and did not walk anyone else. While he wasn’t overpowering, he did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground (9/4 GO/AO) and he really seemed to settle into a groove into the middle innings.

All in all it was an interesting game, but you could definitely tell it was the first game of the year. The San Jose Giants may not have the star power that AA Richmond has, but they should be an interesting team to follow throughout the year.

Josh’s Top 30 Prospects: 10-1

This is the final installment of my prospect rankings. If you missed it part 1 was here and part 2 was here.

My list to date

30-Christian Otero-SS

29-Rafael Rodriguez-OF

28-Jake Dunning-RHP

27-Adalberto Mejia-LHP

26-Stephen Harrold-RHP

25-Chuckie Jones-OF

24-Kendry Flores-RHP

23-Hector Correa-RHP

22-Mike Kickham-LHP

21-Jesus Galindo-OF

20-Adam Duvall-3B

19-Chris Marlowe-RHP

18-Ricky Oropesa-1B

17-Jarrett Parker-OF

16-Jacob Dunnington-RHP

15-Chris Dominguez-3B

14-Clayton Blackburn-RHP

13-Conor Gillaspie-3B

12-Charlie Culberson-2B

11-Josh Osich-LHP

Now on to the top 10!

10-Kyle Crick-RHP

Crick was the Giants’ supplemental 1st round pick as a right hander out of a high school in Texas. He has good arm strength and a strong build but is still raw as a pitcher as he spent most of his time in high school playing 1B. He threw 7 innings in the AZL last year after signing and next year could head to Augusta, though given how new he is to pitching, an assignment to EST and then Salem-Keizer would not surprise me.

9-Hector Sanchez-C

Sanchez probably did not expect to make his major league debut this year. He spent 2010 and part of 2011 splitting time behind the plate with Tommy Joseph before Buster Posey‘s injury caused the Giants to try and catch lightning in a bottle, so to speak, with Sanchez. Sanchez has shown flashes of power and on base ability, but unfortunately never at the same time. Last year he naturally struggled a bit with the adjustment to the higher levels. He’ll likely spend the year at AAA and possibly come up as a reserve if Chris Stewart or Eli Whiteside struggle.

8-Heath Hembree-RHP

This ranking may be a little low given how electric Hembree’s stuff is, but I have trouble ranking him any higher given his relief profile. Hembree was almost unhittable last year, striking out 13.2 batters per 9 across two levels. While his control could use some refinement, Hembree is knocking on the doors of the majors and looks like he could be a potential successor to Brian Wilson.

7-Francisco Peguero-OF

I like Peguero and early on thought about ranking him as high as second though. He is a very good hitter for average and has some pop as well as solid athleticism and a strong arm. His main weakness is his approach which is very poor as he has just 35 walks over the last 3 years. To put it another way: last year the Eastern League as a whole hit .259/.329/.395. In the EL Peguero hit .309/.318/.446. Peguero had a batting average 50 points higher than league average and still had a below average OBP. That’s…hard to do. He still has some electric tools though, so if he is able to mature his approach a little he could be a very good player.

6-Eric Surkamp-LHP

Eric Surkamp made his major league debut and it did not go well as he walked more batters than he struck out. By now you probably know the story about Surkamp. He has a fringy fastball but a good curveball and change up as well as good command. Last year he didn’t show it in the majors but he was setting a career high in innings pitched and jumping to the majors from AA is a big leap, no matter how polished you are. I do think Surkamp will settle in as a nice back of the rotation guy, who should get some benefit from AT&T Park.

5-Andrew Susac-C

Susac was the Giants’ 2nd round pick which was surprising to me as I thought he definitely would have been picked in the first round. He slipped though, mainly due to a hamate injury and the fact that he had increased leverage as a draft eligible Sophomore. Susac has good tools including solid power and a strong arm. He has some things to work on behind the plate but he should stay at catcher. He’ll likely start the year at San Jose.

4-Joe Panik-SS/2B

Panik was the Giants’ 1st round pick and he seemed to catch people a bit by surprise. Panik is a solid hitter for average and has good patience. He made his debut in the NWL and hit .341/.401/.467 before then playing in the AFL. Panik will likely start next year at San Jose playing SS, but if he hits there, the Giants could try to expedite his bat and promote him to AA to play 2B along side Ehire Adrianza.

3-Ehire Adrianza-SS

And speaking of Adrianza-here he is. I probably have him rated higher than most places, and that is mainly due to the fact that I think he’ll hit enough to play everyday. He is regarded as a fantastic defensive SS and offensively has always posted a good walk rate. Last year, as a 21 year old in the Cal League he hit .300/.375/.470, though he was repeating the level. Next year he’ll likely head to AA which should provide a challenge for him offensively. While he may need 1000 more at bats in the minors, I do think that he can be good enough to hit at the bottom of the order and let his defense carry him.

2-Tommy Joseph-C

Joseph is one of the more intriguing youngsters in the Giants system. He was drafted as a catcher and the common refrain at the time was that it was a question of when Joseph would need to move, not if. Now, after 2 years in the minors, most people believe he’ll be fine at catcher. Offensively he has big time raw power but a poor approach has hindered it a bit from translating completely, though he did have a good year in the Cal league last year. Joseph’s two best qualities are his age (he’ll be 20 in AA next year), and position. I think he could end up as a Miguel Olivo type with the upside to be more.

1-Gary Brown-OF

Brown was the 2010 1st round draft pick and he had an electric debut in the Cal league, hitting .336/.407/.519 with 53 stolen bags. Brown has game changing speed-an example of this was in a televised game he hit a groundball right up the middle to the CF-when the CF looked down to pick it up Brown bolted for second and made it. Brown is also an excellent defensive CF and has an excellent contact rate. While he’ll never walk a lot, he should have a high enough BA to keep a solid OBP. A median projection for him could be something along the lines of a Michael Bourn player. While I would have preferred to trade Brown and keep Wheeler, Brown certainly is a very good prospect.

Josh’s Top 30 Prospects: 20-11

20-Adam Duvall-3B

Duvall had one of the biggest years in 2011 among Giants minor leaguers. An 11th round pick out Louisville, Duvall was the everyday 3B at Augusta and hit .285/.385/.527 finishing 5th in the league in home runs. The main reason I can’t rank him higher is because of concerns that he may have been beating up on younger/weaker competition and there are concerns with his defense. Still, one has to take note of that type of season.

19-Chris Marlowe-RHP

Marlowe is probably one of the least fun pitchers to face, if you’re a batter. He has also posted incredibly strikeout rates, but the problem is that he doesn’t really have good control. His college numbers make him look kind of like Carlos Marmol with worse control. But he throws hard-touching the upper 90’s and has a good breaking ball to go along with it. If he can improve his control he could move quickly.

18-Ricky Oropesa-1B

Oropesa is in some ways like 3B Chris Dominguez. Both are guys with big power and strong throwing arms that were 3rd round draft picks. While Oropesa has a better idea of the strike zone, he doesn’t have Dominguez’s athleticism that allow him to stay at 3B. Oropesa’s main issue is his contact rate and his ability to translate his raw power into game power. He’ll likely start the year in the California League, where he could post big numbers but also runs the risk of getting into some bad habits.

17-Jarrett Parker-OF

Parker was a guy who I was very high on last year given his power/speed potential. He spent the year in RF, due to Gary Brown‘s excellent defense and had a bit of a disappointing year. Everyone expected him to struggle with his contact rate and he did, but he didn’t really hit for power either. He could spend another year at San Jose, this time as the CF.

16-Jacob Dunnington-RHP

Dunnington and Jake Dunning have actually been seen at the same place, at the same time as they spent part of the year at San Jose together last year. Dunnington is a rare Non Drafted Free Agent signed out of high school, and has had a good start to his career posting double digit K rates out of the bullpen. He’s another guy who needs to hone his control as the lowest walk rate he’s posted is 4.0 per 9 innings, but the encouraging part is that came when he was moved to San Jose toward the end of the year. Dunnington will only be 21 next year and there has been some talk that he could move to the rotation to start next season.

15-Chris Dominguez-3B

I touched on Dominguez when I did Oropesa’s write up. Dominguez essentially has two very loud tools-his power and his arm. His arm has done a good job of making up for his below average range at the hot corner, however his lack of an approach has hurt his transition from raw power to game power as he has only a career .446 slugging percentage. He has also been old for every level and will likely start next year back at AA. He has upside, but I think if he makes the majors, it will likely be more in a reserve corner infielder role.

14-Clayton Blackburn-RHP

2011 was a banner year for Oklahoma High School draftees. Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, Adrian Houser, and Mason Hope were all fairly high picks. Blackburn flew a bit under the radar thanks to those guys but signed quickly and had a very strong pro debut. The Giants bought out his commitment to Oklahoma for $150K and he went to the AZL where he posted a 30:3 K:BB and a 1.08 ERA. Given his polish he’ll likely spend next year as a 19 year old in Augusta which could feature a very young rotation including him, Kendry Flores, Lorenzo Mendoza, and Kyle Crick.

13-Conor Gillaspie-3B

I discussed Gillaspie a while back, comparing him to Dominguez and basically I thought he was an interesting player with a weird profile. He’s a solid hitter for average and has some on-base skills, and while his power is improving it still is below what teams usually like from a 3B. I think he could probably settle in as a 2nd division starter and maybe could end up being a Greg Dobbs type.

12-Charlie Culberson-2B

Culberson has had a bit of a weird career. He was drafted in the last draft before John Barr took over and struggled badly in the SAL for 2 years before having a big year in the Cal League. His K:BB numbers indicated that 2011 could be rough for Culberson and he did struggle, posting an OBP under .300. However, he was still fairly young for AA and he didn’t completely fall on his face while also improving defensively. I could see him starting out next year back at AA and then getting prom0ted to AAA in the middle of the year.

11-Josh Osich-LHP

Osich is a total wild card. He was looking like a first round pick this year, with a very good fastball-change up combination including beating Trevor Bauer by no-hitting UCLA. However, on his last start before the draft, he hurt his elbow and left the game after just 12 pitches. This was especially concerning as he was just returning from Tommy John surgery. Still, if Osich can stay healthy he has arguably the highest upside of any Giants minor league pitcher.