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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Top 25 Giants Prospects List

KG’s 2011 Midseason Giants Prospect List

(Includes 2011 draft)
As always, feel free to agree or disagree.

1.       Brandon Belt (1B MLB): Age 23 | Although Belt has not lived up to the hype coming into the 2011 season and is now recovering from a fractured wrist, he remains one of the most promising young players in the Giants organization.  If the team continues to play above .500 baseball, Belt may have to wait until next season for another shot to crack into the everyday lineup.  In 167 career Minor League games, he’s hitting .349/.458/1.062 with 27 HR.  Giants fans would sure like to see his bat producing in San Francisco for years to come.  The scouts all seem to be in agreement on this guy; he’s not just another John Bowker or Nate Schierholtz.

2.      Zack Wheeler (SP High-A): Age 21 | Wheeler was drafted out of high school in the first round of the 2009 draft, and if he can sustain his current pace without any major setbacks, he seems to be on the Matt Cain/Madison Bumgarner track to the majors.  Wheeler has good size, throws hard, and can overpower hitters at times.  While he may not be a Tim Lincecum type talent, I’d say most Giants fans would agree that another pitcher in the mold of Cain would be just fine for the future in San Francisco.  I’m excited about this kid, and he seems to be getting better.  Through 33 Minor League games, Wheeler has a 3.91 ERA with 144 K and 73 BB in 124 IP.

3.      Gary Brown (CF High-A): Age 22 | 2010 first round pick Brown excelled in the first half of the 2011 season in San Jose.  He’s since cooled off a bit, but his numbers are still very good, and his future is quite promising.  Could this be the next young, speedy Giants leadoff hitter for years to come?  If his development continues, he’ll be in the big leagues sometime within the next two years.  In his first 83 professional games, Brown is hitting .300/.375/.810 with 6 HR and 35 SB.  Could he become a Drew Stubbs type player, maybe with less pop but a higher contact rate?    

4.      Joe Panik (SS Short Season-A): Age 20 | Panik was selected 29th overall in this year’s player draft, and signed almost immediately.  He raked at St. John’s, and seems too good for Salem-Keizer, his professional starting point.  In 9 games, he’s bopping .378/.452/1.101 with 3 HR (including a grand slam).  I’ve heard talk that he could project more as a second baseman in the bigs.  Ironically enough, the Giants just happen to be looking for a second baseman of the future.  If Panik can be a .270-.280, 15-20 homer guy who can play a little defense, I would love to see another homegrown kid holding down a spot in the infield.  Hopefully he’ll finish the year in San Jose and be ready to move through the organization in 2012. 

5.      Brandon Crawford (SS MLB): Age 24 | Critics have really been taking shots at Crawford’s bat since his call up to San Francisco, but I think people just need to have a little patience with this guy.  Not only have the majority of his 236 career Minor League games been played below the AA level, but he’d missed the first month of this season  with an injury before starting out at High-A prior to his promotion to San Francisco.  We’ve seen what he can do with the glove (it’s the reason he’s playing on the big club right now), but I think he’ll be able to develop into a bit of a hitter too.  He’s only a .270 career hitter in the minors, with 20 HR, but to me he’s shown a better approach at the plate this season than Brandon Belt did.  He’s also not afraid to take a walk.  Let’s see how he progresses in the second half of 2011. 

6.      Francisco Peguero (OF AA): Age 23 | Peguero is an exciting player who is starting to separate himself among Giants farmhands.  A huge 2010 season at San Jose had him poised to begin this season in AA, but an injury set him back a couple months.  However, he again excelled after opening up the 2011 campaign again at San Jose and is now on to the next level in Richmond, where he has started very strong.  In 443 career professional games, he’s a .313/.348/.781 hitter with 22 HR.  He’s shown the ability to hit with men on base, and he’s very, very fast (119 career stolen bases).  I would assume we’ll see him in big league Spring Training next season if he produces at AA in the second half of 2011. 

7.      Eric Surkamp (SP AA): Age 23 | Surkamp is a lefty.  He is not a flamethrower, but his strikeout rates would lead you to believe otherwise.  387 K and only 90 BB in 327.1 IP in his minor league career indicate the exceptional pitch command he holds.  His career ERA is 3.00, including a sub-2.00 in AA Richmond this season.  Surkamp is young, and he’s quickly moving up the ranks of Giants pitching prospects. 

8.     Tommy Joseph (C High-A): Age 19 | Joseph, a second round choice in the 2009 draft, is a young, raw hitter with great power upside.  He’s got a lot of work to do behind the plate, however, if he hopes to stick at the position.  A first base switch may be more likely.  His contact numbers have not come around yet either, but he is playing at High-A as a 19 year old, and spent all of 2010 at Low-A Augusta, so he’s got plenty of time to develop.  In 187 career professional games, Joseph is hitting .236/.286/.675 with 22 HR.

9.      Chris Dominguez (3B AA): Age 24 | Dominguez is a little older than the traditional prospect, was drafted out of Louisville in the third round in 2009, and has taken some major criticism in his two years in the Giants organization.  I personally think some of these critics have been a bit harsh.  While Dominguez does strike out much more frequently than he walks, his career batting average is very respectable for a player who fans at a high rate.  In 267 career games, he’s hitting .277/.326/.796 with 45 HR and 34 SB.  He knocks in runs, and he seems to be getting better each season.  Since being promoted from San Jose to AA Richmond, Dominguez is hitting 14-42 (.333) with 9 doubles, 1 triple and 2 HR.  He’s a slugger who I can really see surprising people sooner than later.

10.  Heath Hembree (RP AA): Age 22 | I know this may be a controversial pick for a top 10 list, as Hembree is somewhat of an unknown player.  But I feel there are many players in the system who are very close in terms of their potential and current production, and Hembree has really blasted his competition during his short time with the organization.  He’s jumped from Low-A Augusta to AA Richmond in less than one calendar year, and he’s posted a 1.16 ERA and an astounding 72 K in 38.2 career IP.  He’s walked only 16 hitters during the same stretch.  He’s got closer type stuff, and could be shutting down hitters in the late innings for the Giants for many years to come if he continues this production. 

11.   Charlie Culberson (2B AA): Age 22 | .262/.317/.689 | 27 HR 175 RBI 75 SB (459 games)

12.  Thomas Neal (OF AAA): Age 23 | .298/.375/.846 | 56 HR 286 RBI 23 S B (487 games)

13.  Kyle Crick (SP High School): Age 18 | No professional stats – Drafted 2nd round

14.  Hector Sanchez (C AAA): Age 21 | .299/.379/.828 | 22 HR 188 RBI 6 SB (278 games)

15.   Jarrett Parker (OF High-A): Age 22 | .269/.375/.798 | 6 HR 36 RBI 14 SB (67 games)

16.  Richy Oropesa (1B USC): Age 21 | .331/.409/1.005 | 40 HR 159 RBI 13 SB (170 collegiate games)

17.   Andrew Susac (C Oregon State): Age 21 | .282/.464 7 HR 45 RBI  (82 collegiate games)

18.  Carlos Willoughby (2B Low-A): Age 22 | .291/.410/.789 | 3 HR 124 RBI 139 SB (290 games)

19.   Michael Main (SP High-A): Age 22 | 14-16 4.35 ERA | 266.2 IP 248 K 110 BB (63 games)

20. Roger Kieschnick (OF AA): Age 24 | .277/.328/.793 | 35 HR 174 RBI 20 SB (264 games)

21.  Jason Stoffel (RP AA): Age 22 | 4-6 3.62 ERA 41 SV | 97 IP 112 K 37 BB (96 games)

22. Rafael Rodriguez (OF Low-A): Age 18 | .266/.322/.661 |3 HR 55 RBI 11 SB (135 games)

23. Chuckie Jones (OF Short-A): Age 18 | .279/.377/.830 | 5 HR 19 RBI 7 SB (52 games)

24. Ryan Verdugo (SP AA): Age 24 | 18-4 2.52 ERA 3 SV | 186 IP 243 K 89 BB (90 games)

25.  Tyler Graham (OF AAA): Age 27 | .282/.342/.708 | 17 HR 167 RBI 200 SB (78%) (485 games)


  1. Nice list overall!

    My comments.

    Belt has been on Top 100 overall prospects lists, in the 20-30 range. Neither Bowker or Schierholtz were ever on such lists. Some fans just don't seem to understand the difference.

    Wheeler is striking out guys easily while inducing groundballs when he does induce contact. While it is too early to put such pressure on the young prospect, that is something King Felix does for Seattle, and Lincecum is not a groundball pitcher. I think putting him around Cain level is fine but I think his potential is that the sky is the limit if he can strikeout a lot of hitters while inducing groundballs when there is contact.

    I think Brown could be his own category if things work out. I mean, he gets to first base as fast as the fastest LHB, and he's a RHB. That's great in CF, great at leadoff, and he's shown the ability to get on-base to utilize his speed at every level he has played at so far.

    His biggest question mark to me (not walk-ability as most said he had problem with) has been whether he can quiet down his quirky batting stance that he had in college, and still hit well in the pros with wood bats. I think he's done great with that so far.

    Some scouts worry that Panik won't be able to handle SS at the major league level, hence the talk about 2B. I like that he led his league in hitting (or top 3) in his batting line and a number of other offensive categories. Just like Brown did in Big West last season. I also like his attitude and drive. He and Brown could make a great 1-2 in a lineup if they develop as hoped.

    But I would note that players drafted in their range fail to develop enough to reach the majors as a good starter about 90% of the time, so don't get high hopes up. Getting one of the two to develop would actually be great.

    About Crawford, I find that most I've seen has been very positive about Crawford, that he has shown more in the majors than we could have expected given his poor performances in the minors previously in terms of strikeouts and such. Sure, his batting line sucks, but he's been having great ABs along the way and been better at not striking out in the majors, plus better at taking walks.

    Dominguez is where I have a major differing opinion upon placement. His batting line is pretty bad considering that he's been older than the competition at every level he has been playing at. I like his power but he strikes out too much (and in the minors) while not walking much, which is something a hitter like him has to do if he hopes to become a starter in the majors. I would have had him in the high teens probably.

    Also, I probably would jump Chuckie Jones up 10 spots or so.

    I like Hembree a lot too, I would have been OK bumping him up a few more spots than where you had him.

    And based on college results, I like Susac more than Oropesa right now.

    Overall, though, I feel more agreement than disagreement, it is a good list and really, for the most part, nobody knows how these guys will turn out, we can just point out the good and the bad as we each see them.

  2. Thanks a lot for the comments! It's funny, really, how many guys don't ever pan out. But I guess every current big leaguer, star or schmuck, had to start somewhere huh? Let's hope Dominguez turns a corner in AA. That would be great to see. If we can get even 3 of these hitters to be regulars in the lineup in the next few years, that would be a dream for this organization.

    Thanks for the college insights. I would like to start follwoing college ball a little more. Don't follow it much, if at all, these days. Thanks again for the feedback. Much aprreciated.