San Francisco Giants Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
San Francisco Giants Top 20 Prospects for 2011
1) Brandon Belt, 1B, Grade A-: Totally legitimate in my opinion, and second-only to Eric Hosmer among first base prospects.
2) Gary Brown, OF, Grade B: I admit some trepidation here. I love the speed, athleticism, and defense, but I admit I'm enough of a stathead to be concerned about the extremely low walk rate in college. I'll project him as a regular with this rating, but the shape that regular status takes is still uncertain in my mind, if his offense will really be as good as people expect. We'll see.
3) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Grade B: Not a great season, but the strikeouts and grounders are promising and I'll cut him some grade slack for another year.
4) Francisco Peguero, OF, Grade B-: Hit .329 in the Cal League with 40 steals and good gap power. But he doesn't draw walks, and needs to be more efficient about stealing bases. If he doesn't hit .300+ at higher levels he'll have a problem, although his tools will get him to the majors and keep him there for some time.
5) Thomas Neal, OF, Grade B-: I know his season in the Eastern League may look a bit disappointing, but I think he could put up some huge numbers in the PCL in '11, and I still think he has a chance to be a non-star regular player.
6) Jose Casilla, RHP, Grade B-: Power sinker could make him a future closer.
7) Jarrett Parker, OF, Grade B-: No professional data. Very toolsy outfielder with some questions about his bat.
8) Ehire Adrianza, SS, Grade C+: Love the glove, but not sure he'll hit enough to get beyond a utility spot.
9) Jorge Bucardo, RHP, Grade C+: Strong sinker, but I'd like to see a higher strikeout rate.
10) Charlie Culberson, 2B, Grade C+: Good rebound season, bat looks interesting although Double-A Richmond will test it. Glove gets mixed reviews.
11) Brandon Crawford, SS, Grade C+: Terrific glove, showed a few positive signs with the bat last year.
12) Eric Surkamp, LHP, Grade C+: Intriguing finesse lefty, but can't rank higher until we see how Double-A goes.
13) Kendry Flores, RHP, Grade C+: Live-armed sleeper from rookie ball needs to be watched closely in 2011.
14) Michael Main, RHP, Grade C+: I think he is a decent prospect, but was being overrated by Rangers fans. History of weird health problems has slowed his development.
15) Mike Kickham, LHP, Grade C+: Spotty in college despite live arm, could do better against wooden bats.
16) Tommy Joseph, C, Grade C+: I respect the power potential and youth, but glove issues and bad plate discipline need to be addressed.
17) Heath Hembree, RHP, Grade C+; borderline C: Power-armed reliever threw strikes in rookie ball but needs to prove out at higher levels.
18) Jake Dunning, RHP, Grade C+; borderline C: Infielder conversion throws hard, showed surprisingly good command in Northwest League.
19) Chris Dominguez, 3B, Grade C, borderline C+. Strong power is obvious, but he had significant contact issues in the Sally League despite being a college guy. That worries me enough to limit the grade, though with some adjustments he could break out and rank much higher next year.
20) Roger Kieschnick, OF, Grade C, borderline C+: As with Dominguez, he could rank much better next year with some adjustments. If you go with the C+ grade, both of these guys could rank above Hembree and Dunning. Remember this is all preliminary.
Others of Note: Marvin Barrios, RHP; Brock Bond, 2B; Dan Burkhart,C; Ryan Cavan, 2B; Jacob Dunnington, RHP; Steve Edlefsen, RHP; Edwin Escobar, LHP; Conor Gillaspie, 3B; Stephen Harrold, RHP; Chuckie Jones, OF; Reinier Roibal, RHP; Seth Rosin, RHP; Hector Sanchez, C; Henry Sosa, RHP; Jason Stoffel, RHP; Clayton Tanner, LHP; Ryan Verdugo, LHP.
The graduations of Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey take the top level off this system. Brandon Belt is a stud, but the remaining hitters have serious question-marks of some variety. There are a lot of live arms, beginning with Zack Wheeler, although even the pitchers come with a set of questions. Overall, the Giants are in the re-entry phase of a farm system talent flow. It will be interesting to see how fast it recharges, and which of these names will be at the top next year.