San Jose is San Francisco's Future

April 17, 2009 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

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The San Francisco Giants’ High-A affiliate San Jose Giants are off to a 6-2 start in the California league. What’s more impressive is the roster they boast. Packed with talent and potential stars, this Giants affiliate is the future of the Giants big league team.

Take a look around the roster and you can select a potential big leaguer by closing your eyes and pointing to a position. From the infield to the outfield and to the arms, there is potential at each position.

Pitchers

The bullpen has at least two arms that will have a future in the bigs. One of those arms is left-hander Scott Barnes. This 21 year-old is starting right now but I think his future is in the pen. He is off to a good start with 5 innings and no runs allowed. Mixing games between the pen and the rotation in 2008, Barnes had a 2.06 ERA in 43.2 innings with a 63/12 K/BB rate and a .155 AVG against. He has a slightly above-average fastball and a slurve that can be tough on lefties. He has a three-quarters delivery and reminds some people of long-time reliever C.J. Nitkowski.

Edwin Quirarte is a 22 year-old right-hander that should get at least a cup of coffee. He doesn’t possess anything above-average but he has enough tools and a three pitch repetoire that should work nicely out of the pen and in that huge San Fran ballpark.

The rotation is where the star potential is at. Tim Alderson is a tall 20 year old right-hander, standing at 6’6” and 217 lbs. He has a fastball that sits 90-93 with potential for much more and he already has a plus curveball. He is working on a change-up but is below average right now. In 2 starts in 2009 he has a 4.32 ERA in 8.1 innings with an 8/1 K/BB ratio but he has allowed 15 hits. Last year, his first in pro ball, he was 13-4 with a 2.79 ERA over 145.1 innigs with a 124/34 K/BB ratio and only 125 hits and 4 homers allowed. Oh yeah, that was all in high-A. Him and Rick Porcello were the only two high-schoolers that started in high-A last year. Alderson, if his fastball meets projections and his change-up becomes at least average, he should be a solid #2 with Ace potential.

Madison Bumgarner is the star of the rotation. He is a 19 year-old lefty and stands 6’4” and 215 lbs. He has a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s with an above-average breaking ball and a solid-average change-up. He has above-average control and command, which is rare at his age, to go with his plus stuff. The only thing that scares me about him is his arm action. He “slings” his arm but it has yet to show any wear on him. Bumgarner did not allow a run in Spring Training and even struck Manny Ramirez out on three pitches. In two starts this year he has pithced 11.0 innings and only allowed 6 hits, 2 walks, no earned-runs, and struck out 9. Last year he led the minors in ERA at 1.46 and was 15-3 with 164/21 K/BB in 141.2 innings only allowing 111 hits and 3 homers. He has Ace written all over him.

Hitters

San Jose has at least one legit outfielder in Roger Kieshnick has a strong bat from the left side. Some scouts believe his bat was geared more towards metal but I think he has 20-homer power in him. He has a plus arm in the field and should be at least a good 4th outfielder but I think he can be a starting rightfielder for the Giants by 2011.

Around the diamond is where this team is very strong starting with firtsbaseman Angel Vaillalona. Villalona is still only 18 years old but seems like he’s been aroung forever. He has incredible raw power and some scouts project 40-homer power out of him. He has had some issues with patience and pitch recognition (only 15 unintentional walks in 500 plate appearances in 2008) but he has been the youngest in every league he has played in. He has also been moved from third to first and he is even limited at first. I really do not mean to be hard on him. He looks to be a future middle-of-the-order bat. Even if he never gains patience or pitch recongition he could be a #6 hitter with 30-homer power. He is currently hitting .478/.458/.783 with 2 homers in 23 at-bats and is (I believe) the youngest player in the California League. He has a good future ahead of him.

At second base they have Nick Noonan. Noonan, to me, is at worst a good utility player. He is a good defender at secondbase but can handle third or short if needed in a pinch. He has the tools to hit 10+ homers, steal 15+ bases and hit for a decent AVG. He needs some help with his pitch recognition and patience and appears to be off to a good start in the patience department so far this year.

Brandon Crawford was a standout at UCLA and was taken in the 4th round last year after concerns with his performances with wood bats. Crawford has the tools to be an everyday shortstop in the majors. He has a plus arm and decent range at short. He does have a very hard swing but it comes with good patience. He has 15+ homer potential and should hit for a good AVG if he can keep the strikeouts down. He is hitting .444/.571/.741 with 2 homers and 5 walks in 27 at-bats so far but with 6 strikeouts. With Edgar Renteria on a two-year deal and no real prospect ahead of him, Crawford could be the starting shortstop for the Giants in 2011.

Thirdbase is where Conor Gillaspie calls home. Gillaspie makes solid contact and has very good gap power with potential to hit 15-20 homers a year with an AVG above .290. He has a patient eye and is a mature hitter that could move through the system fairly quickly. He is above-average at third with a good arm. He will struggle against lefties so a platoon partner might be needed but he should be a very serviceable big leaguer for years. In 126 professional at-bats he has 22 walks and 21 strikeouts.

Saving the best position player for last, the Giants have a potential star in catcher Buster Posey. Posey is off to a great start this year hitting .448/.556/.862 with 3 homers and a 7/3 BB/K rate in 29 at-bats. He only had 37 at-bats last year but hit .351/.467/.622 with a homer and an 8/4 BB/K rate. Posey is an incredible athlete. He is a converted shortstop that was also a closer at FSU, throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. Posey is a plus defensive catcher with a plus arm. He has a great eye and good patience with a very compact swing. He has good gap power and should be able to hit 10+ homers with a bunch of doubles. Posey is going to be an All-Star catcher that will hit .300/.365/.450 annually.

This San Jose team gives the Giants so much hope. By 2011, the Giants could have a rotation of Tim Lincecum, Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Alderson, and Jonathan Sanchez. That rotation could be a top 3 rotation in all of baseball and they would all be throwing to an All-Star catcher in Posey. Now that is a bright future!

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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