Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Top Prospects of the San Francisco Giants in 2015: Tier 3

Welcome to Tier 3 of my top prospects. This is going to be the hardest list that I have ever done. A lot of guys are really eligible to be listed under or over Tier 3 but I am feeling good on this list that I put up. There might be some exclusions that I have forgotten again. This also shows how deep the Giants farm system has become. Not a lot of top-shelf, future franchise-changing prospects, but a lot of contributors that can have a significant impact on the Major League roster.

Note: All of the videos that I have placed on my posts are the videos that the players I feel have the best angle to look at.

Ray Black  RHP  A+
6'5" 225 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Eric Longenhagen, Roger Munter and

When you think of pure velocity in baseball, Aroldis Chapman is the big ticket. Ray Black is not that far behind. Freed from his several injuries all over his body in the past years, Black has finally come around as a prospect, pitching a big chunk of a whole minor league season in San Jose plus a trip to the Arizona Fall League where a lot people (and I) are still fantasizing on the radar gun readings. 

When you think of velocity, you think of strikeouts and for Black, strikeouts come aplenty. His K/9 is an absurd 18.36, meaning he gets 2 strikeouts per inning that he pitched this year. He has loved the ground as well, having a nice GO/AO ratio of 1.88. The problem that Black will always face is command. His BB/9 is an alarming 9.00 which simply is a walk in an inning in his time in San Jose. His Fall League numbers are pretty similar as well, with 5 hits allowed, 6 walks, 16 strikeouts and 2 earned runs in 9 innings in Arizona and held his opponents to just a measly .163 batting average.

Based on several videos that I saw on Black, he's not a burly guy that's full of fat. He's pretty lean and muscular for his frame and he generates a lot of power in his delivery. He pitches from the stretch all the time. His mechanics and the velocity will not make him last as a starter at least. There are some red flags in his delivery that helps him generate more MPH but also will injure him. In his drive, his throwing shoulder is in an extremely dangerous position where it is separated from his body in to the extreme. It can help him add more velocity in his fastball but it hurts his shoulder in the process particularly his rotator cuff as well as his elbow, evident by his previous TJ and also made me think that he is not suited for starting primarily of the abuse that he'll take. His throwing motion kind of remind me of the same mechanics of Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon

Nonetheless, his velocity is in the upper echelon, consistently will pump 100+ MPH on short bursts plus couple that with a slurve that I will call at mid-80s with slurvy movement with a potential to be above-average, both he still has problems of consistently spotting it. His mechanics might allow him to have close to average command someday but he does only need to fill up the zone with his fastball to make hitters chase the slurve. 

His age is slowly getting on to him but the arm is so alive and the time for him is next season to truly take his development to the next level and help the team right away some time next season. Expect him to be on Richmond bullpen next year. Hopefully, he won't be in any rotation plans ever again because the fastball's gonna be hit if hitters see it too much. 

Grades: FB 80 | SLV 50+ | CMD 40

Ceiling: Major League Closer   Floor: Middle Reliever   ETA: Mid-2016   

Hunter Cole  OF  AA
6'1" 195 lbs.
Videos: Credits to minorleaguebaseball, & ieProSports (Cole at 0:52)

A rather unknown at the start of the season, Cole has come big time upon his promotion to the San Jose Giants where he immediately made positive impact after the call up, riding a hot bat and that has earned him a promotion to Richmond where he continue to hit consistently until the end of season. 

This year, he has hit .301 this year with a healthy OPS of .833 across three levels but has close to .850 OPS when he got promoted to San Jose and Richmond. Cole's not the hulking guy with the prodigial power, but he has managed to put up 51 XBHs with 9 being homers. Not labeled as a burner, he only got 7 stolen bases on the year but his hard baserunning has earned him 9 triples on the year. He also got a 0.91 GO/AO ratio thanks to his uppercut-like swing. He is contact-oriented and an aggressive hitter, with his BB% hovering at 7.5% but keeping a good K% of around 20%.

There are significant changes in his swing this year compared to his previous swing. His batting stance is wider, his bat is placed higher over his shoulder and more horizontal, his knees bent more, his arms are more active when he starts his leg kick, his center of gravity is slower and more stabilized, knees are bent while starting to rotate and not leaking his hips, shorter and more direct path to the ball, and a better follow through. Thanks to his already strong wrists, he can produce really good bat speed and thanks to his fixed swing, he is able to generate hard contact and a good average that I can see to continue to project positively in the future. His raw power I can project for him to have 10-12 HRs in a full season in the future. His speed is his worst tool but he runs hard on the bases which I like. Defensively, he's been tried out on a lot of positions althroughout his pro career but I can see him play in the outfield.

Cole is a good offensive player that I can see being like a Kelby Tomlinson-type player without the good speed. He just needs to find a home in the field for him just like Arroyo but just like Christian, his bat will do the talking for Cole and Cole's time could come soon. 

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

Ceiling: Everyday Player   Floor: Bench bat   ETA: 2017   

Steven Duggar  OF  A+
6'2" 190 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 1 and 2

I like toolsy players especially on Draft day. When Steven Duggar was drafted in the 6th round and read his scouting reports, I like the tools that he can bring. He played well in Salem-Keizer that earned him an appearance in High-A Playoffs with San Jose.

The main thing that impressed me is his eye and his knack for drawing walks. His 13.1 BB% is a great sign that he has a good eye for the ball and good judgement while having an relatively average K% of 19.5%. Duggar have very little tapped power on his swing, only producing a single HR with 12 doubles and a triple. 

Regarding Duggar, people said that he got a broken swing and I think that he got a broken swing. He got a lot of moving and unnecessary parts in his swing like his big leg kick, his swing path is a main issue for me. He's slapping the ball (evident by his 2.03 GO/AO), very torso-heavy, uppercutting the ball and not exactly using his front half, resulting to a slow bat speed. This issues can be fixed by the coaches by having Duggar tone down his swing for him to have a quicker swing and more direct path to the ball, for him to produce more solid contact consistently. He got average raw power that he can tap on once he improves his swing. What has him is his great hand-eye coordination and athleticism that allowed him to have a good batting average despite the swing issues. 

His other tools are elite though. He got plus-plus speed that allows him to have superb range on the field that allows him to do this plays and he can steal 25-30 steals in a full season. He also got a great arm that is perfectly suited to RF to pair along with his speed but he got a good chance to play in CF as well. His overall athleticism is tremendous as well.

I am on the high side on Duggar because his swing can be fixable and the Giants have a recent track record on fixing swings resulting to success (Kelby, Cole, Panik, etc.) and if he will have a successful season next season, I'll be really glad as he got the potential to be a good table-setter with the patience to draw walks, good batting average and great defender as well. And they will say that the Giants finally developed an outfielder. If he can fix his swing.

Grades: Hit 45 | Power 40 | Speed 70 | Arm 60 | Glove 55

Ceiling: Everyday Player   Floor: Bench bat/4th OF   ETA: 2017  

Johneshwy Fargas  OF  A
6'1" 165 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Roger Munter 1, 2, 3, and 4

Owner of the best name in the Giants farm system (you can't beat Buster Posey), Fargas has been one of DrB's triple OF guys to watch out for, along with Mikey Edie and Gustavo Cabrera. He spent all of this season in Augusta and he held his own against a lot of great prospects in the SAL. 

According to his stats, Fargas is a very aggressive hitter and loves to induce contact, his walk rate is down to a really low 6.1% while keeping his K% to a really low 14.2% as well. When he induces contact and puts the ball in play that I think is a lot, he got an average of .326 which is very good. His pint-sized body doesn't allow him to have a lot of power in his swing, it's more of a pure gap power right now with just an ISO of .071 and I feel most of it is due to his speed stretching out doubles and triples. He still can hit a HR from time to time with 2 HRs in a season and his wRC+ is average with 104.

I want to talk about his physical tools the most. He's the thinnest guy that I have ever seen but he got plenty of muscle in that lean body, just like a chicken in the wild that's leaner but more muscle. His best tool is his 80 raw speed but he tends to be overaggressive in his to be overaggressive in stealing (59 steals with 19 caught stealing) to fully utilize his best tool. His plus-plus speed also allows him to have a great range in CF. He got also a plus-plus arm in CF (up to 97 MPH of raw velocity!) and great raw athleticism for him to be a great defender in CF in the future. His body only allows him to feel like he'll hit 5 HRs in a full season maximum. He needs to improve his overall baserunning and become a smart baserunner to maximize his potential there. 

His swing is nice, he stays closed in his swing, full follow through, contact-oriented approach, direct path to the ball, the swing tends to be long so he can be susceptible to breaking balls, and utilizes his full body to deliver solid contact. He needs to improve on his pitch selection as he needs to draw more walks for him to be on base a lot and utilize his speed. He should improve on his bunting also and refine his swing and approach. He is still pretty far away from The Show but if he makes the next step next season, he can be a Major Leaguer someday that can be a good CF for us.

Grades: Hit 40 | Power 25 | Speed 70 | Arm 70 | Glove 55

Ceiling: Everyday ML player   Floor: Defensive replacement   ETA: Late 2018/2019

Chase Johnson  RHP  AA
6'3" 185 lbs.

Videos: Credits to Roger Munter 1 & 2

Chase Johnson is a breakout guy for me this year. I don't have a lot of expectations from him this year even though his stuff is really good. He pitched really well in his time in San Jose and alongside Tyler Beede, the two became a 1-2 punch, highlighted by the 14-strikeout relief performance that impressed a lot. He then joined Tyler when he got promoted to Richmond and pitched for a short while there.

Chase's numbers are really good. He has improved on his K/9 that's above 9 in his two stops in the minors this year while improving his command by reducing his BB/9 to below 3 in his lengthy stint in San Jose. His numbers in Richmond are pretty inflated especially his ERA, but his FIP of 2.39 is very similar to his San Jose ERA of 2.43, suggesting that his numbers should be better than his superficial ERA.

His fastball can reach to the mid-90s and he got the ability to hold some of it deep into his starts, thinking that he can't really hold it because of his 180 lbs. frame. His fastball is his best pitch with some run sometimes but most of the time, it stays straight and he throws it extremely downhill thanks to his mechanics that has deception on being crossfirey and the arm action that makes him throw downhill. Throwing downhill helps his curveball to have a big, sharp break that is an out pitch in every level, flashing plus sometimes. His changeup doesn't really impress me but it got good velocity differential but not a lot of fading movement. He still does have some control issues on his pitches but has done good strides on improving on it.

His changeup is the key on whether he'll take his game to the next step and be a starting pitcher with a mid-rotation ceiling or make him a reliever in a long run because of his already good two-pitch mix. Right now, he's good enough to contribute as soon as next season. 

Grades: FB 60 | CB 55 | CH 45+ | CMD 45+

Ceiling: #4 Starter   Floor: Middle reliever/set-up RP   ETA: Late-2016  

Jordan Johnson  RHP  A+
6'2" 175 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Chris Kusiolek 1, 2 & 3 (videos might not work, check on Chris Kusiolek's vine page to better see it.)

A relative unknown to almost every people, Giants fans or casual fans, he zoomed into the spotlight after showing off his interesting potential as a pitcher, going from Rookie ball to San Jose in a short while.

Even though there's limited information and videos on the guy, i'll try to interpret as much as possible the data available at hand. He has struck out more than a guy per inning in every step of the way(71 K in 59.1 IP). A guy who can strike out that much should have control problems right? For Jordan, it's a big no. He has only allowed 11 walks this year and an impressive 32-1 strikeout-walk ratio in Arizona League which tells me he got a good feel for his pitches particularly his fastball. Ha has held his own in his starts and his pretty pedestrian San Jose stint can be attributed to fatigue not being used to handle a lot of innings due to his redshirted college career. He has also can pound the ball to the Earth when he's not getting strikeouts, having a 1.62 GO/AO ratio.

There are extremely limited videos of him also so I'll try to interpret what I see on the videos. Based on the videos, the guy looks wiry on the mound with some projection in his body to add strength and durability. He throws from the windup with crossfire motion on it, his throwing arm going on a wide arc and thanks to his crossfire motion, he experiences extreme shoulder separation like Ray Black. That's a pretty red flag in my opinion, but his arm is pretty loose on the delivery. He throws from a high 3/4 point and throws downhill. His follow through is good but moves him to the side but it's not a concern right now. If you need a good comparison on his mechanics, his is similar to Jered Weaver with less crossfire.

His pure stuff is nowhere near Jered's though. Jordan's fastball according to various reports can reach 98 MPH and hovers at 94-96 MPH. I have not seen videos on it but words that come out from other people makes me believe it's a plus pitch for him. I have seen his curveball on a video above and I saw it on 78 MPH and it got sharp 11-5 movement with great shape, a lot of lateral break, and I judge it as a potential plus pitch in the future and above-average right now. The velocity on his changeup on the radar gun is unclear on the video but what I can see is that the pitch got good, sharp fade on it and a makings of a good velocity differential from his fastball. Another good pitch. He can throw strikes and makings of a good feel for pitching that suggests that he got a chance to have an above-average command in the long run.

His potential alone warrants him a spot in the Tier 1 list but due to his lack of sample size and his injury background (had TJ before), he is only in the Tier 3 list. If he can stay healthy for a whole year next season, he may start to leapfrog a lot of guys rapidly and be close to the top in no time. He got all of the ingredients for him to be a mid-rotation starter in the future. He just needs to stay healthy and in great shape. Expect him to stay in San Jose next year and once he starts to kick some lumber, the Giants front will be aggressive on him. 

Grades: FB 60+ | CB 55 | CH 50+ | CMD 50

Ceiling: #3 Starter   Floor: Middle Reliever   ETA: 2017

Jarrett Parker  OF  MLB
6'4" 215 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Roger Munter 1 and 2 and MLB

I generally have an unwritten rule where when a player is 26 years old and above and a pretty pedestrian track record is not in the prospect list. Parker is an exception to the rule. I have him on my mind but he's not on my to go guys on the list, he surprised me with a pretty good MLB stint with the Giants that was highlighted by just a 3 homer game that's supposed to be the side dish to a Barry Zito-Tim Hudson pitching duel. 

He got the the type of numbers that what you would expect from a typical power hitter. In his season, he hit a total of 29 HRs and driven in 88 runs. With his average batting average, another signature feature of a power hitter is the strikeouts and for Parker, that's the dilemma for him. Will he hit enough for him to compensate for his immense strikeout totals. This year, he has proven that he did. His K% actually rose to a crazy 32.0% in AAA but he managed to put up an ISO of .230 and a crazy BABIP of .398 in the PCL. He became better when he went to The Show, hitting 6 HRs, batting at a .347 clip and a crazy 1.163 OPS. Even though he got a knack for striking out at an alarming rate, he still got a good vision and understanding of the strike zone, with his BB% never going down 10% in the minors.

Parker got a pretty classic power stroke. Good set-up on the batter's box, knees bent, big leg kick to load himself in the Minors but he removed his leg kick altogether and instead, he got the foot lift and a hip turn to load himself. He is using his hips well to rotate and move the barrel to the zone. He got good bat speed with some loft onto it. It can get long though and that makes him prone to miss good pitches out of the zone. His follow through reflects on that long swing but the good thing is he uses his lower body well and transfers his plus raw power to his bat. If he can hit consistently, he got the potential to be a 25-HR type of guy. His speed is pretty good too with 20 steals in the PCL but I don't really see him stealing that much in the Majors but he got enough speed for him to cover the corner OF spots and an adequate arm.

He can compete for a spot in the OF next season with Big Mac Williamson and we'll see how they will fight for that. If he can hit consistently next season (because I'm still pretty skeptical), he got a chance to be a good OF for the Giants organization. His age has really bitten him in my opinion, though. He still is a good prospect to have and I know Bam-Bam can have resolve that contact problem of his.

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

Ceiling: Above-average OF   Floor: DH/Pinch-hitter   ETA: 2016

Austin Slater  2B/OF  AA
6'2" 215 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Eric Longenhagen, minorleaguebaseball and Moore Baseball

Considered as a steal at 8th round last year after starting his pro career on fire across two levels, Austin Slater is at it again, hitting consistently after going on two levels this season. 

He has proven to be a professional hitter, with a triple slash line of .294/.334/.381 and surprisingly, his numbers became better when he got promoted to RIchmond in terms of batting average and on base percentage as well as a better wRC+. His power numbers declined from his promotion though, his ISO declined to just .065 and his K% rose to a pretty bad 22.0%. 

He got the looks of a professional hitter, his got good bat speed, he loads properly, follow through with his swing properly, he got little moving parts, a contact-oriented approach. I have little else to say negatively on him. He got a lean body with some raw power in it but I feel it'll be more of gap power when it's all said and done. His speed is just average but he runs hard on the bases which I like. He got a good arm and he got tried to a lot of positions defensively and I think second base is the place for him to go. He got enough range to play in there.

He doesn't have any flashy tools but he plays the game the right way and he got a hard-nosed mentality that I really like. He is a professional player and he can be a future Major Leaguer, he just needs a place where he can play consistently and he can be up soon.

Grades: Hit 50+ | Power 45+ | Speed 45 | Arm 50 | Field 50

Ceiling: Everyday Player   Floor: Bench bat/glove   ETA: 2017   

Chris Stratton  RHP  AAA
6'3" 190 lbs.
Videos: Credits to Roger Munter 1 and 2 and Giant Potential (I miss Mr. Conner!)

I have covered Stratton before, talked about his hot streak and reasons why. To make this story short, he looks fully recovered from his concussion and he experienced some uptick in his fastball velocity.

His numbers this year if you look at the overalls are pretty pedestrian, his K/9 being lower than last season, while his BB/9 hovered the same, the ERA's lower this year than last year across two levels, he managed to lower his opponent's batting average to just .233 this year, and lowering his WHIP to 1.28 from 1.47 last year all doing that while making hitters hit the ball in the air more than last year (1.24 GO/AO this year, 1.47 last year). He has also a lower BABIP than last year as well as a better FIP.

So, what's the secret to this mini-renaissance? His tempo on his mechanics is the same (2.86 sec. on 2014, 2.73 sec. on 2015), his stuff looks the same. What is it? If I am to make of a reason why, it's on his mental side. Possibly his mind being free of the concussion, preparing a healthy mindset and the trust of the Giants brass on him and still believing on him giving him a mental boost. His mechanics is still the mechanics from the past. From the short arm action, to his smooth delivery. His fastball is still a good pitch from 90-93 MPH with some movement in it and his slider is above-average with sharp movement on it. His average changeup and curveball rounds up his repertoire. He got some feel for all his pitches and he should have an average command in the future.

He has fallen from grace but he can still contribute to the Giants and looks like his time to do it is as soon as next year, whether from the rotation or the bullpen. His fastball-slider combo looks like a good combo from the pen.

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

Ceiling: #4 Starter   Floor: Middle Reliever   ETA: Late-2016

This is the end of Tier 3 list. I have a lot of guys on the list as this is the guys that got the potential to make or break the organization. A lot of the guys in the list got a potential to really take the next step or stall. My guys poised for a great 2016 in this list are Jordan Johnson and Steven Duggar as my breakout players. I hope you enjoy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Ray Black-I had the chance to watch him for the first time,when he played in the AFL.He has really good stuff.100 mph FB,and 90 mph CH.Looks like he's starting to harness his stuff.And,as you mentioned.Could possibly be called up after the All-Star break.Could be another big arm in the pen to go along w/Strickland and Osich.I think Hall has a good chance to take Kontos spot in spring training.Scouts have done a good job drafting big arms.Interesting to see where starts the season.Sacramanto or Richmond.Should see him in spring training.

    Hunter Cole-Another solid bat in the system.51 XBH is a lot.I believe he played 2B in college.I think he should learn to play 1 B.It will give him another path to the big league squad.Like the bat,the depth he gives is.And,from your post.I've learned he runs the bases with edge.

    Steven Duggar-SK website has a highlight of him making a head first diving catch almost crashing into the fence that divides the fans from the field.Showing no regard for his body.I like that determination.Promoted to High A for the playoffs.Which means he's developing well.And,the organization believed he understands his role,and the way the organization wants him to play.Like the all around tool set.Could be an Adam Eaton type player.With more speed and pop.Like the pick.

    Johneshwy Fargas-I like this kids all around game.Bat,speed,arm,and hard nosed style.We'll see how much projection is left in his body.He will add strength with age.SJ outfield is going to have a lot of speed next season.His arm could get better too with the added strength.At the higher levels to cut down on CS.The manager will have him steal on weak catchers and pitchers.

    Chase Johnson-This guys has a unique wind up.Good stuff.Good FB,good CB.I believe he ends up in the bullpen.FB will get a little jump in shorter stints.It will also make big CB more effective.I think he also could be one of those guys that can pitch 2-3 innings an appearance.Will see how fast he moves to Sacramento.

    Jordan Johnson-Look forward to seeing how he pitches this year.Good stuff,and good control.As long as the kid continues to fill the strike zone.He'll continue to move fast.Another kid I like to see in AA Richmond.

    Jarrett Parker-Good arm,good speed,big power.If he starts the season in SF or Sacramento.Parker understands his role in this organization.On the big league club he gives us depth in the corners.And,gives us a big power threat off the bench late in games.And,gives us power at the bottom of our big league line up.I believe when asked why he finished so strong last season.Parker said he just let go and started playing his game aggressively.Good job Jarrett.

    Austin Slater-Sacramento should have a pretty good squad next season.Disciplined approach.Another player that gives us good depth in case Tomlinson gets banged up.

    Chris Stratton-Organization continues to show confidence in Stratton.Like the easy compact delivery.The fact that he got some of his stuff back,after recovering from injury.While reading your evaluation of Stratton.Something came to mind.He basically went backwards for a year and a half.When recovering from concussion.You can't run or lift.Or in some cases even think.Not only did his physical development stop.His mental development stopped.Maybe his stuff improves a little more.With a year of symptom free development under his belt.

    Great post Wrenzie.Happy New Years to you and yours.Peace.