Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Top Prospects of the San Francisco Giants in 2015: Tier 1

Welcome to the top prospects of the San Francisco Giants. 

You might notice that I didn't wrote Top 30 or whatever, it's because I hate rankings. I already told before that I really hate ranking prospects and having them organized in a numbered fashion. It just doesn't do them justice for me. Some are going to say that I ranked a guy too high or too low so I will use the idea of tiers. It's not because I'm playing it safe and I don't want criticisms, but this is for you guys to rank them on your own. I prefer a big board of prospects to choose from, given their different tools and talents and some prospects are just so hard to rank so I'll put them on the same tier because there are guys that are just a cut above in terms of ceiling, learning curve, and immediate impact. There might be more than 30 that will have that same impact, there will be less. The point of Tiers is to segregate them with my own judgement.

Instead of generating my own numbers and formulas, I will use the unbelievable amount of information from, FG, BP, and other information sites and together with my own scouting remarks and judgements, I hope I can do justice on why I rank them on the Tier that they truly deserve. I believe that the perfect marriage of scouting and analytics is the best way to run a team. I hope you enjoy reading. 

Welcome to Tier 1. The creme de la creme of the Giants prospects, the best that the organization can offer. I am honestly admitting that the Giants farm system isn't elite and I expect that the farm does not have a Carlos Correas or the Byron Buxtons or the Kris Bryants of the world (we don't have a top 5 pick for God's sake) but the farm still have a good amount of talent in front to be considered as potential impact players that will be in the Majors for a good to great amount of time in their careers. Stats courtesy of FG and and it is classified in alphabetical order.

Christian Arroyo  SS  A+
5'11" 185 lbs.
Videos: Credits to minorleaguebaseball 1 and MiLB 2

FINALLY! After an underwhelming performance last year in Augusta due to the pesky thumb injury but a good performance in Salem-Keizer, the Giants made an aggressive promotion on Arroyo to San Jose. This year, he started really hot then he sustained an oblique injury that sidelined him for 6 weeks but in his return, he's still rusty but when the Giants coaches helped him on shortening his swing, boy did the fruits of it tasted really sweet, with the highlight of it was the 5-5, 2 2B game and helping the little Gigantes to reach the playoffs.

I'll let the numbers talk first. His walk rate is still way below average, from 5.61 BB% (BB/PA) last year to 4.6% this year while maintaining a close to above average K%, of 17.8%, which tells that he's still a really aggressive hitter who doesn't take walks but he isn't striking out a lot because of his plus hit tool. His wOBA which is a great sabermetric statistic to measure the values of hits is .352 which is close to being plus, his OPS stayed above .800 this year, and his wRC+ is 117, 17 points above average, which speaks volumes considering that he's playing at one of the "pitcher-friendly" parks in the Cal League further justifies how special his hit tool is. His .155 isolated power (SLG-AVG) is halfway on average and above average on the scale, showing his sneaky power potential. 

I really love his line drive oriented swing, his short, compact swing path and the incredible natural eye-coordination that is really hard to teach. His stance is closed with his front heel above the ground with a slight leg kick. He'll open up early on his stance after the leg kick sometimes but I'm not entirely concerned on it because he can still hit the ball. He creates good torque in his upper body, causing him to open up entirely in his follow through. He is not just a singles hitter, he got gap power potential that can generate up to 20 doubles a year thanks to his hit tool. Even though he's not a burner in the bases, he got good baserunning and good defensive instincts, with his above-average arm can help him stick at short and he's able to let the game come to him, not rushing plays.

Arroyo's maturity, poise and polish is unlike any other as a 20-year old guy playing in High A is something special. I will not be surprised to see him playing in Richmond next year with the continue to improve his defensive versatility and I don't really care where he'll play on the diamond, his bat will always do the talking to him and he could come quick as well to the big league club and can possibly supplant Crawford in case he won't re-sign. 

Grades: Hit 60 | Power 45 | Speed 45 | Arm 55 | Glove 50

Ceiling: Possible All-Star player   Realistic: Everyday player   ETA: Late-2016/2017   
Comp: Michael Young

Tyler Beede  RHP  AA 
6'4" 200 lbs. 
Videos: Credits to Baseball America & Roger Munter for the catcher view, Ian Ward for the LF view from Futures Game

We all know the story of Tyler Beede very well. I featured him on July, raved about him in my previous reports and remarks. In my opinion, he's still the top prospect in the farm system but Arroyo's getting close. That's just how I love the two guys. After the dominant stint in SJ, the Eastern League has proven to be a tough nut to crack for Tyler. He hasn't enjoyed the success in his AA stint, with a 5.23 ERA with Richmond while a dominant 2.24 ERA in SJ. 

Let's talk more about his numbers. FIP tells us that his AA stint should be better, with a 4.21 FIP but still mediocrish. The problem that I see with Tyler is the return of his old nemesis, balls and walks. His BB/9 went from a miniscule 1.55 to 4.35. He has only thrown 57% total strikes in AA, lower than the ~70% total strikes that he has thrown in A+ (3 starts in the database didn't have the total pitches-strikes data). With all the struggles that he experienced, there's good news. In his 13 starts for the Flying Squirrels, 8 of them have been QS (I think I need some help on Mr. ogc's PQS). After allowing a run, earned or unearned, he bounced back (0 runs after allowing a run) 81.5% of the time (22/27), showing that he can regroup after getting frazzled in any intensity. I noticed that most of the runs scored against Beede happened quickly, with a great example of it was his start on August 22 where he allowed 7 runs in the first 3 innings but went up to the 7th inning and finishing with 95 pitches. Trenton just needed 36 pitches to knock in 7 runs off him. His sinker & cutter experiment is a huge success, as it helped him to tally a 2.09 GO/AO ratio this year. 

His cutter is a legit out pitch with hard and late cutting action which can be a special pitch for him, his sinker got a lot of sinking movement in it that should get a lot of groundballs and it's a potential above-average to plus pitch and don't forget the four-seamer that's in his back pocket that he can still throw at mid-90s. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch with a good hop at the start then a good late break on it like a splitter, his power curveball flashes above-average with a late, sweeping break in it although it's inconsistent. All of it are thrown on a polished mechanics that resembles his HS mechanics and has helped him throw more strikes. 

I'll chalk the struggles in Richmond as fatigue and with the help of his strength coaches, he'll improve on his stamina. He's a great student of the game, absorbing everything that the coaches taught to him together with his great work ethic. He needs to improve on the feel on his curveball, on improving his running game, and his overall consistency on his pitches in which I am guessing that he will because of his work ethic. His second full season should be back in Richmond and I am sure that he'll be better this time around and can help the Giants in their #EvenYear push.

Grades: SNK 60 | CUT 60+ | CH 55 | CB 50 | CMD 50

Ceiling: #2-3 Starter   Floor: #3-4 Starter   ETA: 2016   Comp: Mike Leake/Rick Porcello

Phil Bickford  RHP  ROK
6'5" 205 lbs.
VIdeos: Credits to Eric Longenhagen 1 & 2 and Fangraphs

There's just one word to describe Phil Bickford's performance in the AZL this year: DOMINATION. Just pure domination. In 22.1 IP, 13 hits, 6 walks, 32 punchouts, and a 2.01 ERA. What's even absurd is that his FIP is actually lower than his ERA, with 1.89. Wow. Mind-boggling. Crazy 5.33 K/BB ratio. I know that Arizona League is a complex league and it's full of players who are just starting their pro careers, but his performance is astonishing. 

There's just one key on why he just carved up the AZL, fastball command. I did not say control, I said command. He got the natural ability to spot that fastball anywhere he likes and that's some trait that takes a pretty long time to develop or just a special talent. Just look at the videos that I watched above. In that league, fastball command is just enough and for him, it's way enough that I thought that he's worth promoting to Salem-Keizer but I also thought that it could also rush him and his offspeed pitches aren't that ready for the higher league. 

His mechanics has improved drastically ever since he transferred to College of Southern Nevada. Look at the image below.

Credits to for the picture on the left.
The yellow lines are a better way to look at his mechanics particularly his right arm before his left foot lands. In his mechanics while he's still at Fullerton, his throwing arm is on an unhealthy position. It's not an inverted W, but it's close to Chris Carpenter's motion and it can be dangerous especially that he throws his pitches on a low to true 3/4 arm slot. He lowered his arm placement to make me say that it's safer on the arm especially his elbow. In short, he's not throwing like an infielder on the mound anymore. He got short arm action that makes his pitches have a hop in it, he drives off the mound well and finishes it well. His mechanics is pretty weird but it works for him and he can repeat it well that will help him to have above-average command if everything falls into place. 

His fastball is a true plus pitch with the great run and sinking movement in it even though it sits at low-90s. In a previous chat from BA's JJ Cooper, his fastball doesn't need to be blistering in terms of pure velocity because the movement of that pitch makes it nasty and better than other fastballs with better velocity. His slider will flash above-average but it's still pretty raw and definitely can be better. His changeup is still miles behind so I hope the coaches can teach him a grip that can work on him, possibly the split-change that was popularized by fellow Giant Tim Lincecum. A cutter can work on him as well as a compliment on his great fastball.

This year's domination in the AZL should serve as a confidence boost for him to improve on his offspeed pitches to back his plus fastball, improve his pitch sequencing that should come in time. I am hoping that the Giants develop this kind of arm right and we could pair him up with Bumgarner and Beede so we can have the "Killer B" rotation in 3 years time. If he can't improve his offspeed pitches, he can move to the bullpen just like in the Cape or be Tony Cingrani with a plus fastball but not enough offspeed pitches to back him up.

Grades: FB 65 | SL 50+ | CH 45 | CMD 55

Ceiling: #2-3 Starter   Floor: #4 Starter/ML Closer   ETA: 2018   Comp: no clear comp yet

Lucius Fox  SS/CF  Instructs
6'2" 170 lbs.
Videos: Credits to FanGraphsThe Prospect Pipeline and Chris Kusiolek

I already introduced you guys the Bahamanian July 2 prospect who's uber athletic and just oozes with potential. I won't write much about him because you'll find all of my thoughts on him on my previous post on him and also there's the reason why I put in CF in his defensive position. 

I wrote in my previous report on him about his stance on the box as looking like weird and unorthodox. I tried his batting stance (not the actual batting thing, just the way he sets himself up in the box) and I actually found the crooked stance to be good. His back foot is already loaded with energy and once he adds more energy on the back leg via his leg kick then he drives forward and transfer all of the loaded potential energy to kinetic energy to the swing with good bat speed. At first I oppose it, now, I think it can actually help him have sneaky power once he added more muscle and overall strength. I now worry a bit at his leg kick being a little too loud (when he's batting left-handed) and he might be overloading himself and that can throw off his timing and his swing for a bit that's based from my experiment on his batting stance. 

Thanks to Chris Kusiolek, fans have seen the latest version of Fox while in batting practice. I have already noticed the difference in his hands in his stance. In the previous videos in FG, his righty batting stance is above his shoulder but when Chris took his short clip of him, it is now almost vertical and he rocks the bat up and down for rhythm and it is now similar to his batting stance as a left hander. I noticed that his crooked back foot is still there too. He uses his whole body in his swing while maintaining great balance on the box. He added some raw power and got a potential to apply his raw power into games.

The rest of his tools like his plus speed, potential above average fielder with his above average arm didn't change. The future is bright for the young Bahamanian and I expect him to join Augusta or Salem-Keizer next season given that he's still so young.

Grades: Hit 50+ | Power 45+ | Speed 65+ | Arm 55 | Glove 55 | Name 70+ (Can't beat Johneshwy Fargas)

Ceiling: Possible All-Star player   Floor: Bench bat   ETA: Mid-2018/2019   Comp: Jose Reyes (I BUY IT)

Chris Shaw  1B  A-
6'3" 229 lbs.
Videos: Credits to, Wilson Karaman and ACC Digital Network

When you talk about raw power in the draft, you must include Chris Shaw in the conversation. He is one of the select few in this year's draft class to have a true plus raw power. In his Giants debut with the Volcanoes, Shaw really impressed me, making me decide to incude him in the Tier 1 list because he deserves it after a great campaign that resulted in the Volcanoes reaching the playoffs.

Of course when you talk about Chris Shaw, you have to talk about his power numbers first. He lead the NWL in homers with 12 even though he played just 46 games. He hit a dinger in every 14.83 at bats where 10 of hit were solo shots. He doesn't just hit dingers as he also hit 11 doubles, giving him a SLG of .551. His isolated power is mindblowing at .264. You might say that he might be striking out a ton to compensate for his tremendous power, right? Not really. His BB% of 9.5 and his K% of 20.5 are somewhere in the average, which tells that he is not just hacking there and missing. He got a more mature approach at the plate than I thought, willing to take walks and not swinging and missing a lot and that impressed me. His wOBA of .416 and a wRC+ of 156 also tells how he is a cut above the rest in that league. 

His swing is not what you would expect from a typical power hitter. It is short and compact with good to great bat control. He doesn't have a lot of moving parts in his stance (slight leg kick, no wild wiggling of the bat while on the box, etc.) which is nice plus he got loft in his swing that helps elevate the ball. He got slow torque in his upper body but uses his lower body well as pivot foot just like what I saw on Lucius Fox, transferring the raw energy that he generates to the bat and he finishes his swing well with a two-handed follow through. He also got a mature approach at the plate which is a big plus. He might be beaten by premium velocity because of the average bat speed and he can be beaten by great sequencing because of the slow torque but there are enough positives that I can see to say that he'll translate his plus raw power into game power thanks to a potential above-average hit tool.

He's body size (in which he actually weighed less from 248 lbs. on on draft day to 229 lbs. while playing for the Volcanoes) will not make him the fastest first baseman in the world but he'll defend well at first base thanks to an ample amount of athleticism and good hands and he will not steal a lot of bases thanks to his below-average speed. 

There's still things to improve on like improving his defense at first base since it's the first time after 2 years that he played first base predominantly and improve his approach better at the plate. Thankfully, he got the work ethic and the makeup to have a great chance on improving on those things for next year. Buster Posey might be converting to first base in the future if he can't catch anymore but there's someone on his way to challenge him on that spot, and that's Chris Shaw and he might be sitting there at first for a long time if all of the things come together.

Grades: Hit 50+ | Power 65 | Speed 30 | Arm 50 | Glove 45

Ceiling: Possible All-Star player   Floor: Everyday player/DH   ETA: 2017   Comp: Poor man's Anthony Rizzo

That ends the Tier 1 Prospects. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope you have learned a thing or two about the prospects and you decide on how you'll rank them. For me, I'll have Beede, Arroyo, Bickford as my top 3 then Shaw and Fox at 4 and 5. What's yours? Feel free to share your thoughts on the comments section. I'll be glad to respond. 

edit: removed Eddy Julio

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