Monday, March 2, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Austin Smith

Here's another good sized, high ceiling HS RHP for you.  Austin Smith goes 6'4", 215 lbs out of HS in Florida.  He has long arms and high hips but already has some bulk to him and looks like he weighs more than 215 on the videos I saw.  His FB sits in the low 90's but has hit 96. He is already working on a 4 pitch mix with a slider, curve and change that are all projectable.  PG's scouting report says he has a "easy, low effort delivery", "very physical, athletic build", "projectable."  BA has him ranked as the #44 draft prospect in their early ranking while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs likes him a bit better at #31, which just happens to be where the Giants draft in the supplemental first round.  Kiley's comment was "smoothest arm action in the draft."  Add him to Ashe Russell, Beau Burrows, Donny Everett, Mike Nikorak and Cole McKay in the list of big, hard throwing, high ceiling HS RHP's in this draft.  Love it!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard, RHP.  DOB:  8/29/1992.  6'5", 200 lbs.

2013 High A:  3-3, 3.11, 63.2 IP, 2.26 BB/9, 9.05 K/9.
2013 AA:        6-1, 3.00, 54 IP, 2.00 BB/9, 11.5 K/9.
2014 AAA:     9-7, 4.60, 133 IP, 2.91 BB/9, 9.81 K/9.
2015 Steamer: 2-2, 3.61, 38 IP, 2.81 BB/9, 8.80 K/9.

Noah Syndergaard might be a better pitcher right now than Carlos Rodon and definitely has more upside.  The big difference, at least for 2015 is MLB opportunity.  Whereas Rodon has just 2 very weak #4 and #5 starters ahead of him on the White Sox roster, Syndergaard is facing a Mets rotation that already has 6 fairly solid MLB pitchers.  Don't let the 4.60 ERA last year fool you.  Las Vegas is an extreme hitter friendly environment and the peripheral numbers were still excellent.  He has excellent stuff with a heavy sinking FB that goes 93-97 MPH, a plus curveball and a changeup that is at least average.  I suppose there are always some things you can work on and there's the obligatory arbitration clock, but there is no reason for the Mets to delay Syndergaard's MLB debut past the first of June.  Given the numbers at the MLB level, he may have to wait until after the trade deadline.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Cole McKay

Cole McKay is a classic Texas HS power RHP who I don't understand why he is not ranked higher.  He stands 6'5", 225 lbs with a FB that goes 93-95 MPH.  He has a classic power delivery from a 3/4 arm slot.  The FB has sink and run.  On video, I thought I could see some of that "second stage" that Kruk talks about.  The curve is 11-5 and has late bite making it a put-away pitch.  The change up has "big fading action" according to the PG scouting report.  PG also said he "pounded zone with all 3 pitches."  I mean, what's not to like here?  For some reason, BA has him at #43 in their early 2015 draft rankings and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him in the "others to watch" section which he says represents 3'rd and 4'th round talent.  Personally, he's no worse than supplemental first round to my eye.    LSU commit, so could be a bit of a challenge to sign.  Wasn't the the Giants last supplemental first round pick Kyle Crick?  McKay would perfectly fit the precedent!

So, we now have a "big 4" of HS RHP's I really like a lot:  Nikorak, Burrows, Everett and now McKay.  I will be happy to see any of those 4 names on the Giants 2015 draft list in either the first or supplemental rounds and it goes without saying any of the later rounds, although they may be tough to sign beyond the supplemental first.

Thoughts on Spring Training(So Far)

You know things are slow in spring training when the postponement of an intrasquad game is a huge disappointment.  Not a lot of hard news out of the Giants spring camp so far, which is a good thing, because this time of year, almost all hard news is bad!

I think Angel Pagan finally took batting practice yesterday, but I'm not sure.  His lower back seems to be fine, but he's had a stiff neck.  If you want something to worry about, the cervical spine supports the neck and head and is part of the spine.  We'll see.  Hopefully this is just a garden variety stiff neck from sleeping crooked on the plane flight and will resolve with rest and therapy.

Matt Cain's first spring start was pushed back by 10-14 days.  Apparently there has been no physical setback, just a recommendation from the training staff.  It is a bit disturbing that it's being announced now instead of from day one of camp or before.  We'll keep the faith, though.  Spring Training is too long anyway!

The pitchers are ahead of the hitters, except Buster Posey who smoked Madison Bumgarner in live batting practice yesterday, a rope down the LF line, a line drive up the alley in left-center and a drive that bounced off the base of the CF wall 430 feet away from home plate.  When Posey found out Bumgarner was pitching live BP, he changed his grouping so he could hit off him instead of catching him.  Posey seemed awfully confident about this, so you have to wonder what was up with that?  Maybe the reporters need to ask Romo what's up?  I will say if Buster Posey is smart, he will never bat against Madison Bumgarner again, in batting practice or a real game.  Remember, Bummy is the dude who once hit a batter in the minors because "he swung too hard."

Steven Okert was singled out by Bruce Bochy as having good looking stuff.  Bochy commented that his arm angle is particularly tough on LH hitters.

Apparently truck shaming is part of what still passes for rookie hazing.  I think it was Erik Cordier who came to camp last year with a Ram 1500 truck.  He took a lot of ribbing from the vets about how small his truck was so came in this year with a Ford 450 with dual wheels or something like that.  As Jeremy Affeldt said, "good luck parking THAT in San Francisco!"

Around the League:

BJ Upton announced he wants to be known by his real name, Melvin, from now on, then promptly got injured.  Sesamoiditis.  Now, what is that?  Man, that Braves lineup is going to be BAD, but not necessarily worse if Upton can't play.

Early reports on Yasmany Tomas' attempts to play 3B in the D'Backs camp are not good.  Now he's going to play both 3B and OF in spring training games.

Seems like we have at least one of these every year.  Michael Saunders, acquired in an offseason trade by the Toronto Blue Jays, stepped in a sprinkler hole and tore the meniscus in his knee.  Had to have 60% of it removed.  Man, that just stinks!  Now he has to play the rest of his career to say nothing of living the rest of his life with over half of the meniscus gone in one knee just because of a below ground sprinkler hole.  There has to be a better way of watering the grass!  Didn't Lance Niekro miss most of a season a long time ago after stepping in one of those?

ChiSox LHP Chris Sale suffered an avulsion fracture in his foot when he dropped something he was taking off a truck.  The word avulsion sounds terrible, but I'm pretty sure this is what we used to call a chip fracture.  He is expected to miss just 3 weeks.  Hey!  Spring training is too long anyway!  Again, ballplayers should not be driving and loading trucks anyway.  Also, the ChiSox might want to investigate and make sure he was not popping wheelies on his motorcycle!

Of course, I am sure you have all heard about Josh Hamilton's situation.  Hamilton reportedly had a relapse of his drug addiction, not really a hot news flash there.  The warning signals have been blaring for at least a couple of years now.  You had to be suspicious that the huge contract and move to southern California was not going to go well for someone with that history.  The situation has revived the disease vs moral failing arguments surrounding drug addiction, and whether "punishment" is a proper response.  I tend to lean toward the disease model myself, but I don't pretend to have the answers.  There is a fine line between not enabling and punishment.  I do know that Hamilton's first priority bas to be sobriety even if that means being out of baseball temporarily or even permanently, but he has to come to that decision himself.  Having it imposed by someone else probably only delays him taking responsibility for the decision and his own sobriety himself.  On the other hand, he is a member of an organization that negotiated those rules on his behalf and the last thing Josh Hamilton needs right now is to have an exception made just for him because his situation is somehow different or special.

There is a segment by David Laurilia in his Sunday Notes on Fangraphs with some interesting comments by Ellis Valentine, a former MLB player and a recovering addict.  Valentine talks about entourages and their role in enabling.  I wish he had talked about that in more general terms than in Hamilton's specific situation.  As is, it came out sounding more than just a bit self-serving on Valentine's part, almost like he wants to be part of the entourage himself!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Carlos Rodon

Carlos Rodon, LHP.  DOB:  12/10/1992.  6'3", 235 lbs.

2014 High A:  0-0, 1.86, 9.2 IP, 4.66 BB/9, 13.97 K/9.
2014 AAA:     0-0, 3.00, 12 IP,6.00 BB/9, 13.50 K/9.

Carlos Rodon is the guy the Astros should have taken #1 overall last year and who the Marlins should have taken #2.  Instead, the White Sox got the top combination of MLB readiness and ceiling in the draft.  Rodon's stock may have slipped a bit due to reports of velocity decline at the end of the college season.  That picked up with a few mechanical tweaks by the White Sox coaching staff.  He also worked on using his changeup more and reportedly improved it significantly giving him a complete arsenal starting with his world class slider.

Rodon may start the season in AAA, but will join the White Sox rotation as soon as he achieves "Super  2" status.  The 'Sox top 3 starters, Sale, Samardzija and Quintana are top notch, but 4 and 5 are weak with Jon Danks and Hector Noesi not presenting much of a barrier to Rodon's promotion.  Pitching is very deep this year, so Rodon may not be worth spending a draft pick on to stash on your bench, but he should be monitored closely and should be a fantasy asset this season.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Triston McKenzie

Triston Mckenzie(spelled Tristan on a Google search but both BA and Kiley McDaniel spell it this way) is a tall drink of water at 6'5", 160 lbs.  Long loose arm.  Kiley says he sits 90 MPH now, but he has oodles of projectability.  Committed to Vandy so may be tough to sign.  BA has him ranked at #42 in its early draft rankings.  Kiley at Fangraphs has him at #46.

Hot Tip: Mac Williamson Interview

There is a transcript of a cool interview with Mac Williamson posted on The Will Candlestick linked over to the left.  Be sure to check it out.  If this kid has a great season in AA, the Giants future will be much brighter, not that it isn't bright now.