Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thoughts on the 2015 Draft

The 2015 MLB Rule 4 or Amateur Draft is now less than 2 months away, 50 days to be exact.  Interest is starting to heat up and draft rankings and mock drafts start to proliferate.  Despite winning the World Series last year, the Giants have a relatively high draft position at #18 plus they have a compensation round pick at #31 thanks to losing Pablo Sandoval to free agency.  I'm going to put in another plug for Covechatter who just put up the 5'th iteration of his mock draft and has obviously put a lot of research and thought into it.  His site is linked to the left.

First, a few general observations.  The top 5 of this draft is uncommonly weak without a clear-cut #1.  Teams holding top 5 picks may not want to spend their full slot bonus allotment on any single player in the draft, so may be looking to cut a deal with a player who is not generally ranked in the top 5 or even 10.  On the other hand, this draft looks like it has good players available well into the 3'rd round and beyond, which puts the Giants in a great position to get 2-3 players who are comparable to top of the draft talent, but for a much smaller signing bonus.  Thanks to the compensation pick, the Giants also have more bonus pool money to work with, making it possible to make some serious plays for high school talent later in the draft.

There is a fair amount of movement in the draft rankings and mock drafts.  In addition to the lack of clear cut top talent at the top of the draft, several previously highly ranked players have suffered serious injury while others have caught serious "helium" due to jumps in velocity or strong play on the field.  The 3 biggest injuries have been to RHP Mike Matuella and LHP Brady Aiken who both underwent TJ surgery, as well as LHP Kolby Allard who was shelved for the season with a stress fracture of a vertebrae(ouch!).   All 3 pitchers were ranked early on as top 10 draftees and have all undoubtedly slipped.  Last year's draft, though, showed that there are teams out there willing to draft high ceiling pitchers with current injuries, so all 3 of these guys may still go in Round 1.  Just probably not in the top 5.

Some names of players whose stock appears to be rising include college RHP Dillon Tate who is almost certainly top 5 at this point.  HS RHP Mike Nikorak seems to have some serious helium.  Many observers believe he is the top HS pitcher in the draft.  He could go as high as top 5.  RHP Kyle Funkhouser's stock took a hit early in the college season, but now appears to be rebounding into top 5 contention.  The current consensus top 3 includes HS SS Brendan Rodgers, Dillon Tate and Vandy SS Dansby Swanson.  The problem with all of those guys is they don't seem to be worth the $8 M slot bonus held by the Arizona D'Backs with the #1 overall pick.  On the other hand, compared to what Cuban prospects are getting these days, $8 M seems like a mere pittance, so go figure.

So, who does Covechatter think the Giants might pick with their #18 and #31 draft picks as well as their second round #61 overall?  Well, his Mock Draft Version 5 has the Giants taking HS catcher Chris Betts at #18 and HS RHP Beau Burrows at #31 with Alabama SS Mikey White at #61.  The Giants have almost obsessively stockpiled catching prospects ever since Buster Posey's injury in 2011.  Betts is the best catching prospect in the draft by a fairly large margin.  He's a LH hitter with power and has the tools to stick at catcher longterm.  He is ranked in the #18 range on multiple draft rankings and mock drafts.  On the other hand, HS catchers are notorious for busting as prospects.  Anyone remember Kyle Skipworth?  As for other rankings, BA has Betts ranked #18.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has college LHP Nate Kirby at #18.  He definitely does not fit the profile of a Giants first round draft pick as a soft-tossing lefty.  MLB has Nikorak ranked at #18, but he seems to have caught some serious helium as noted above.  My MLB Draft, updated 4/15 has the Giants taking jumbo, hard-throwing RHP Kyle Cody at #18.

Covechatter has the Giants taking HS RHP Beau Burrows at #31.  Burrows has premium stuff and advanced command of his pitches.  One thing I really like about Burrows is he ranked high in measured velocity and in FB spin rates using high tech measuring instruments in a showcase event last summer.  The only rap on Burrows is his size is not projectable at 6'1" or 6'2" and about 200 lbs.  On the other hand, how much projection do you need if you can already throw mid-90's?   For what it's worth, My MLB Draft also has Burrows going to the Giants at #31.   BA has HS 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, Charlie's kid, at #31.  Kiley McDaniel has another hard throwing RHP, Ashe Russell at #31 which seems to be a slippage in Russell's draft stock.  MLB ranks HS RHP Donny Everett, who is a bit of a Matt Cain clone, at #31.  One intriguing name is Alonzo Jones, who Covechatter has the Giants passing on for Burrows, with Jones going just 1 pick later at #32.  Much as I like Beau Burrows, Alonzo Jones looks like he could be a special player to me.  He can play either 2B or CF, has 80 speed and Popeye forearms.  I see him as a bit riskier than Burrows, but I love his ceiling!  Jones does not really fit the profile of the type of player the Giants have drafted in recent memory, but man, I would love to see them call his name somewhere on draft day!

Mikey White seems like a very typical Giantsy pick at #61.  He's a college up-the-middle player who could stick at SS and is just a bit under-the-radar.  He is currently hitting about .370 for Alabama in his junior year college season.  The guy I would like to see the Giants pick at #61, but I doubt they will, is Kep Brown who I think looks like a clone of Jayson Werth.  Brown is currently out for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Down on the Farm: 4/18/2015

AAA  Sacramento River Cats defeated the Salt Lake City Bees 5-1:

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 2 for 5.  BA= .238.
Jarrett Parker(RF)- 2 for 3, HR(4), BB, SB)1).  BA= .267.
John Bowker(1B)- 2 for 4, HR(1).  BA= .258.
Darren Ford(CF)- 2 for 3, BB, 2 SB(3).  BA= .278.
Austin Fleet(RHP)- 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 0.00.
Brett Bochy(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 5.06.
Steven Okert(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 1.69.

I hope Fleet was pulled for pitch count reasons.  4 perfect innings.  I think this was his 2015 debut.  Parker could be positioning himself for a call up.

*********************************************************************************

AA  Reading Fightin' Phils edged the Richmond Flying Squirrels 6-5 in 10 innings:

Kelby Tomlinson(SS-2B)- 3 for 5, 2B, HR(1).  BA= .382.
Kyle Crick(RHP)- 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 2.08.
Kelvin Marte(LHP)- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.
Stephen Johnson(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.

Tomlinson looks like he is ready to move up.  Crick's line is better than it looks at first glance.

*********************************************************************************

High A  Bakersfield Blaze blanked the San Jose Giants on just 3 hits, 3-0:

Donald Snelton(LHP)- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's, GO/AO= 7/0.  ERA= 2.70.
Martin Agosta(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 11.51.
Ian Gardeck(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 2.08.

Obviously no offensive highlights.  Even though his ERA looks terrible, Agosta has 12 K's against just 2 BB's in 7 IP so far this season.

*********************************************************************************

Low A  A rainy night in Georgia washed out the Rome Braves vs Augusta Greenjackets game.

Game Wrap 4/18/2015: Giants 4 D'Backs 1

Chris Heston stepped up and stopped the losing streak with a sensational pitching performance on Ring Ceremony Day.  Key Lines:

Norichika Aoki- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .327.  Aoki continues to be a terrific leadoff hitter.

Joe Panik- 3 for 5.  BA= .286.  Panik's bat has really come to life in very similar fashion to what we saws last season.  He is 8 for 15 over his last 3 games.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4.  BA= .250.  Posey getting some base hits to try and get his bat going again.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 4, HR(3).  BA= .163.   The BA may not look like much, but Crawford leads the team in HR's and RBI's.   Maybe that says more about the rest of the team than about Crawford?

Chris Heston- 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K's, GO/AO= 11/3.  ERA= 0.87.  Through most of his minor league career, Heston has been a guy who, when he is pitching well, can keep on pitching well, start after start.  He's doing it now.  Second time facing the D'Backs within 2 weeks and it was like they had never seen him before.  Goes to show, when you can throw 4 different pitches for strikes to either side of the plate on any count, you can not only win in MLB, but you can dominate.  Oh, and did I see a few Sergio Romo, no-dot sliders out of Hesto Presto tonight?  Stay hot, Chris Heston!

The Win improved the last place Giants record to 4-9 and brought them to 2.5 games behind the 4'th place D'Backs.  They failed to gain on first place as the Dodgers gained sole possession by a game with a 6-3 win over the Rockies.  The Padres lost the Cubs 7-6 to fall 1.5 games behind in 3'rd place.

Tim Hudson tries to salvage a series split tomorrow afternoon facing Jeremy Hellickson.

Down on the Farm: 4/17/2015

AAA  Sacramento River Cats defeated the Salt Lake City Bees 5-3:

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 1 for 4, HR(1).  BA= .188.
Andrew Susac(DH)- 3 for 4, 2 2B, BB.  BA= .350.
Adam Duvall(3B)- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .417.
Jarrett Parker(RF)- 2 for 4, BB.  BA= .222.
Jake Dunning(RHP)- 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K, GO/AO= 8/1.  ERA= 4.09.
Cody Hall(RHP)- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 0.00.

The Giants need a shakeup.  Susac DH'd in this game, but if he is able to catch, I would think a trip to the DL for McGehee might be in order, with Susac coming up to catch and Posey moving to 1B.  Not sure where that leaves Belt, but he might benefit from a trip to the DL too.  Just an idea.  I believe this was Cody Hall's second 3-inning appearance without allowing a run.

*********************************************************************************
AA  Reading Fightin' Phils knocked out the Richmond Flying Squirrels 7-1:

Kelby Tomlinson(SS)- 3 for 4, SB(1).  BA= .345.
Mitch Delfino(3B)- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .259.
Pedro Rodriguez(RHP)- 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 1.17.

This was Tomlinson's first SB of the season after 3 CS.  Pedro Rodriguez is a 25 yo RHP who played the last 2 seasons in the Mexican League.

*********************************************************************************
High A  Bakersfield Blaze blanked the San Jose Giants 6-0:

Keury Mella(RHP)- 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's.   ERA= 4.50.

Mella's peripherals look OK.  Of note in this game, the Blaze stole 6 bases and were CS just once.  Only 1 of the SB's came when Mella was pitching.  Ty Ross was the catcher, but it's tough to judge whose fault a SB allowed is.  Something wasn't right in the SJ SB defense, though.

*********************************************************************************
Low A Rome Braves beat the Augusta Greenjackets 6-3:

Johneshwy Fargas(CF)- 0 for 3, BB, HBP, SB(8).  BA= .300.
Mark Reyes(LHP)- 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 3.48.

Reyes is a LHP drafted last year in round 22 out of JC ball.

Game Wrap 4/17/2015: D'Backs 9 Giants 0

I am not sure what Rock Bottom looks like for this team, but if it wasn't this game, then it would have to be horrifyingly ugly.  There really were no Key Lines here.  Joe Panik got 2 of the Giants 4 hits.  Jake Peavy looked great for 2 innings then ran out of gas which has become his pattern.  He also complained of back stiffness again after the game.  A trip to the DL for some core conditioning might be in order here.  Beyond that, it is hard to envision any quick turnaround until Hunter Pence is back and it might be July before he is completely in game shape and has his timing down.

An added observation is Casey McGehee did not look like he felt good at all.  He's another guy who should probably go on the DL and get fully healthy before he tries to play again.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Down on the Farm: 4/16/2015

AAA  Las Vegas 51's defeated the Sacramento River Cats 7-4:

Travis Ishikawa(LF)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .333.
Andrew Susac(Catcher)- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .250.
Adam Duvall(1B)- 1 for 4, HR(3).  BA= .419.
Darren Ford(CF)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .242.
Ty Blach(LHP)- 6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 3.29.
Juan Gutierrez(RHP)- 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.60.

What are the Giants going to do when Travis can come off the DL?

*********************************************************************************

AA  Richmond Flying Squirrels were idle.

*********************************************************************************

High A  San Jose Giants pounded the Bakersfield Blaze 10-5:

Austin Slater(2B)- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .242.
Ryder Jones(3B)- 4 for 4, HR(2), BB.  BA= .462.
Rafael Rodriguez(LF)- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .458.
John Polonius(SS)- 1 for 4, HR(1).  BA= .250.
Chase Johnson(RHP)- 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER,  2 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 3.38.
Ian Gardeck(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 2.70.

Polonius replaces Christian Arroyo who hit the DL with an oblique strain.

*********************************************************************************

Low A  Augusta Greenjackets blanked the Rome Braves 1-0:

Johneshwy Fargas(CF)- 1 for 4, SB(7).  BA= .324.
Nathanael Santiago(RHP)- 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.00.
Conor Kaden(RHP)- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 3.38.
Ramon Del Orbe(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(1).  ERA= 0.00.

Santiago is the 25 year old out of Mexico.  Del Orbe is a 23 year old minor league FA signee out of the Marlins organization.

Game Wrap 4/16/2015: D'Backs 7 Giants 6 in 12 Innings

The Giants offense came to life in this game, battling back from 2 deficits to tie, but ultimately was not able to overcome the failures of their normally reliable bullpen.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 4, 2 BB, SB(1).  BA= .212.  If you only look at Blanco's BA, you would think he is playing terribly, but his OBP is a respectable .333.

Buster Posey- 2 for 5, BB.  BA= .243.  Buster was flirting with the Mendoza Line before this game.  Hopefully this will get him going.

Brandon Belt- 0 for 6, 3 K.  BA= .087.  Belt is currently a black hole in the middle of the lineup, a huge rally killer.  Once again, it looks to me like he is standing too close to the plate.  When he swings, his hand come across the middle of the plate which ties him up on pitched middd-in.  On pitches over the outside corner that look like he should mash them, he consistently fouls them off to the left side of the field meaning he is late on his swings out there.  Might be time for a day or two of Bochy supervised batting practice?

Matt Duffy- 2 for 6, 2B.  BA= .300.  I'm tellin' ya.  Matt Duffy is playing himself into a starting gig here.  As much as the Giants bats are struggling, he's making himself mighty difficult to take out of the lineup.  Matt Duffy!

Joe Panik- 3 for 6, 3B.  BA= .225.  Panik needed a game like this.  His triple tied the score in the 9'th, but his potential winning run was left stranded.  Later, he made the final out of the game with a runner on 2B, but it was on a line out back to the pitcher.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, HR(2), BB.  BA= .167.  Talk about needing a game.  Crawford had been looking terrible at the plate.  He got the Giants back in this one with the dinger.  Hopefully this gets him going too.

Madison Bumgarner- 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 5.29.  Bummy's stuff looked a bit better tonight, except on the 2 dingers he gave up.  For the second game in a row, a 3-run HR off Giants pitching was the difference in the ballgame.

Jean Machi- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 3.00.  Machi seems to be rolling now.  Gotta bring the rest of the bullpen along.

The loss drops the last place Giants a full 5 games behind the NL West leading Rockies.  Dodgers and Padres were idle.  The 4'th place D'Backs evened their record at 5-5.  The Giants are 2.5 games out of 4'th place.  Yikes!

Jake Peavy tries to break the losing streak tonight facing Josh Collmenter.