Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Out In Front: Giants Signed Jack Conlon + Something Extra

Hello! In this edition of Out In Front, I'm going to share my opinions on the Jack Conlon signing and some juicy trade deadline stuff in Something Extra.

In a rather surprising fashion, the Giants agreed to terms with Jack Conlon, Baltimore Oriole's 4th round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, after going unsigned past the signing deadline this past July 7. Some said that there have been issues with his medical that's why the Orioles didn't even offered a contract but from what I have read, there have been no reports that Conlon failed his physical, rather that the Orioles didn't see Conlon's long-term health as worth to give any contract at all. The Orioles have been really shady with their draft picks or any baseball player in terms of their medical but not even giving Conlon any offer is pretty shameful. I don't really know if the O's will get a compensation pick if they give him a fraction of the slot value (I think 60%, draft bonuses are hard). On the bright side, I think that it's better to not just give him anything than giving him the absolute minimum contract.

That series of events made Conlon available to the open market and not subjected to pools so any team has the chance to sign him and sure enough, the Giants got spare change on the pocket so the Giants and Conlon agreed on the terms. There's no report yet on how much the Giants will give to Conlon but I expect it to be somewhere on the million dollars due to how the free agency works. It's a really odd signing for the Giants since the Giants stayed true on their draft principles (I really wanted them to sign T.J. Friedl last season until finding out that he's subjected to the pool) so signing Conlon is a real breath of fresh air. Like finally, the front office is now willing to bank on youth and improve the farm system! 

In what kind of a prospect Conlon is, here's some prepared notes from Prep Baseball Report and Baseball America respectively:

"Conlon, a Texas A&M recruit, has a strong, physical frame at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. He’s aggressive on the mound, producing a fastball at 90-94 and touching 95. He pitched with effort and a head whack last summer, but has toned that down this spring without losing out on stuff. The fastball gets arm-side life and he has a sharp slider. He also shows feel for a changeup."

"Some projectable prospects are able, and others are projects. At the beginning of the 2016 summer showcase circuit, Conlon was more of a project. He showed plus arm speed and durable body, but he struggled to repeat his mechanics and had a severe head whack. He improved throughout the summer, and threw quality strikes as the circuit progressed. That progress continued this spring, when Conlon came out with a much cleaner, easier delivery and in outstanding physical shape. His fastball works consistently in the low 90s and touches 95 mph and Conlon has feel for a sharp slider that competes in the strike zone. He's flashes some feel for a changeup, but the pitch is far from what it could be with more reps. Conlon is praised for his attitude and approach to the game, as well as his work ethic and desire to improve. He has the arm speed and the frame to eventually sit in the mid 90s and touch higher. Conlon is committed to Texas A&M, where he could develop into a high draft pick, but some pro teams have expressed significant interest in him this spring."

Based on the videos that I watched him, the considerable head whack where he almost closes his eyes and looks at first base is a clear indication that he's overthrowing maybe to impress the scouts with how much velocity that he has in front of scouts (check out this video where you'll see how hard he really throws, so hard that his cap even fell to the ground). With the head whack, the body lags behind so he tends to lose control and command. The very positive reports that he toned down his delivery especially that head whack while not losing velocity is a very positive note to have. I think that he still needs more refinement in his overall mechanics, possibly tone it down even more to the point that body control is the question left like Tyler Beede. 

Stuff-wise, the fastball is a plus pitch with a two-seam and four-seam variety and it has good late life when thrown correctly. He stays on top of it well and does throw it on a downhill plane. Don't expect him to add more velocity as he doesn't have much projection remaining in his strong and sturdy build. Slider's a potential plus offering for him if he can throw it more consistently with plenty of two-plane break and pretty severe velocity separation. The trouble is that he's overthrowing the slider as well that the break becomes too early and morphs into a slurve. He got a changeup that got good fade and velocity separation. With three pitches, I think that Conlon has the stuff, body size, intelligence, and work ethic to become a project pitcher worth developing. 

I'm really glad that the Giants signed him away relatively early (less than two weeks after becoming a FA) to give the club another draftee worth watching in the Arizona League where Giants prospect hound dogs are already drooling over Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez (so am I). I think with proper polish from the Giants coaches, Conlon has the potential to become a mid-rotation pitcher with average at best command of a three-pitch mix but give him 4-5 years to fully reach that ceiling if everything goes well. I'm going to place him in the post-Trade Deadline Top 30 update somewhere in the 15-25 range. Interesting but good move by Sabes, Evans, and the crew.

Something Extra

In this edition of Something Extra, I'm going to share short opinions on what do I think of the Trade Deadline heading into the trade deadline special that I plan to do depending if the Giants will really place plenty on the chopping block (hopefully, they will).

- The most probably person that will be traded at the deadline is Hunter Strickland and rumors that the Rays are on him (Harper will sure miss him). As a reliever that's hitting his stride at the perfect time of the lost season for the Giants, getting the best value for him will be critical. 

Looking at the Top 30 prospects of the Rays on MLB.com, I really want Genesis Cabrera to be included in the deal (wiry lefty with clean delivery, up to mid-90s in his fastball with plenty of projection and solid secondaries). Probably the headliner of that deal might be Austin Franklin (promising pitching prospect with three potential above-average or better pitches), Chih-wei Hu and his palmball, or even a reunion with our good old friend Lucius Fox! I'll take anyone of these three along with a low-tier prospect with underlying potential to be a top prospect in two years time. 

Don't dream on their best of the best guys if you'll give Strickland for it. When the Giants traded for Will Smith, I'm pretty sure the consensus are already lower on Phil Bickford than us Giants fans that's why you see a top 60 prospect mid-way to the season get traded for a good reliever.

- The big fish that will probably going to leave the Giants via trade is Shark. I hope that the Astros scouts in hand will look at the 9 hit-7 run-tons of dingers-type of performance and instead look at the 0 BBs and 8 strikeouts. Now, the Astros farm system is stacked to do this type of trade. Right off the bat I'm thinking Kyle Tucker but my hears says they won't. Guys that I am definitely in other than Tucker are Forrest Whitley and Franklin Perez. Both are promising pitching prospects sure to land in any Top 100 list come next week. 

If you think of my thoughts on Cueto, look above.

- I'm thinking that the Giants will trade Belt soon, hopefully to the Yankees at the deadline. It will be a win-win scenario there due to the short porch in right field that Belt can exploit and the plethora of prospects that the Giants can swoop up for Belt. Yes, we can dream of Blake "The Barrel" Rutherford for Belt but that's going to be pretty unlikely so I'm going with the package of Albert Abreu, Chance Adams, and other low-tier prospects. It's a dreamy notion but one that can change a franchise's direction.

-Don't think of Stanton. Yet.

This is the end of this edition of Out In Front featuring the Jack Conlon signing and Something Extra featuring the trade deadline. I'm hoping the Giants will be aggressive and very open for business that they have said.

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