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.

Giants’ Top Twenty Prospects: Part I…20-11

After a lot of work and deliberation, here are my Giants prospect rankings for 2012. These are based on a number of factors (scouting reports, tools, age relative to league, polish, upside, positional value, etc.), with performance and potential weighted similarly. I decided to arbitrarily go with a top-20, and I’ll break it up into two parts. Chances are I’ll post some honorable mentions as well. Anyway, here goes…

20. Clayton Blackburn, age 18, RHP

Blackburn was a steal as the Giants’ 16th-round pick this year, and he dominated the Arizona League in a limited sample (10.00 K/BB, 0.570 WHIP, 1.08 ERA in 33 innings). Baseball America had him as the best late round pick at or below slot in the entire draft.

19. Chris Dominguez, age 24, 3B

I have a hard time even ranking him this high…the 9/78 BB/K in Double-A Richmond is quite rough, but he’s a 3B with a lot of power.

18. Charlie Culberson, age 22, 2B

Another guy with disappointing numbers in Richmond (22/129 BB/K), but age works in his favor.

17. Jake Dunning, age 23, RHP

Another sleeper, Dunning was drafted as a shortstop and has only been pitching for two years. He thrived after converting to a relief role earlier in the year (43/10 K/BB in 42 IP).

16. Brett Bochy, age 24, RHP

A bit of an aggressive ranking, particularly for a reliever of his age and level, but he’s a late-round guy (2010, 20th round) who had tons of success out of the ‘pen in Augusta. 1.90 FIP, 0.769 WHIP, 1.38 ERA

15. Joshua Osich, age 23, LHP

A first-round talent that dropped all the way to round six this year due to injury concerns. If he stays healthy, he’ll move up fast through these rankings.

14. Chuckie Jones, age 19, OF

I’ve always liked him as a sleeper. Didn’t impress in 41 games at Salem-Keizer this year (.636 OPS), but he’s just 19 years old.

13. Adam Duvall, age 23, 3B

Raked in Augusta to the tune of .285/.385/.527

12. Mike Kickham, age 22, LHP

One of the Giants’ better starting pitching prospects, Kickham was solid in his first full season of professional ball (3.81 FIP in 111.2 innings in Augusta).

11. Jarrett Parker, age 22, OF

Toolsy guy who can draw walks (.360 OBP). He strikes out too much, though.