Coming Soon: The Cove Chatter 100

When I released my mid-season top 40 prospects list this summer, I promised for a bigger and better list in the offseason. Well, here it is, the single greatest project this blog has seen in its short life: the Cove Chatter 100… cheesy? Maybe, but it gets the point across. 54 pitchers (37 righties, 17 lefties) and 46 position players (29 infielders, 17 outfielders) make up 100 noteworthy players in the organization. I’ve worked on this prospect project for a couple of months, and it’s been broken up into a series of posts that I’ll release over the next couple months. The hot stove doesn’t figure to be too active for the Giants between now and spring, so this should be a nice chance to focus on the farm for a while.

I’ve broken the list into two major segments: 50 honorable mention players and the top 50. The honorable mention lists have been divided into six (uneven) groups: Los Gigantes (DSL), The Draftees (2013), The Righties (RHP), The Lefties (LHP), The Infielders, and finally The Outfielders. I’ll spread those lists out over the next couple of weeks, and then we’ll dig into the top 50 – maybe a post or two a day. Keep in mind that the bottom 50 players (honorable mentions) are not ranked. These groups were designed more than anything to introduce us to some guys in the system who are intriguing for one reason or another. Obviously, a top 100 prospect ranking wouldn’t include 10 Dominican rookie league players, but I included 10 guys in the group simply for the sake of opening our eyes to some new names. The same premise should apply to the 2013 draft class, which also has 10 players (not including those who made the top 50) in an honorable mention group.

A few guidelines on how I ranked the top 50. I certainly don’t have some magic formula for prospect rankings. Like most people, I try to find a balance of age, experience, upside (ceiling), scouting report, and really anything else that is worthy of consideration (injuries, for example). If I’m stuck between two similar prospects, I will usually take the one who is younger or has performed at a higher affiliate… there are many battles like this in the organization, basically starting at the #2 spot (behind Kyle Crick).  One other general rule of thumb: I tend to look for success. That’s why you won’t find many guys in this groups that haven’t had some level of success (i.e. Rafael Rodriguez). A player can have all the tools in the world, but if they don’t succeed at even the lowest levels of the minors, I find it hard to believe they’ll make it in the majors. Hopefully that is clear enough…

There are so many prospect rankings out there, and I wanted to find a way to make the Cove Chatter 100 unique. So I decided to exclude all players with MLB service time. You won’t find any Heath Hembree’s or Mike Kickham’s here. That probably removes about 5 or 6 guys from the top 50, but I’m happy with it that way. This project was intended to introduce lesser-known players. We’ve already seen guys like Juan Perez and Roger Kieschnick, and we know what they have to offer at the big league level. It’s up to them to improve at this point. Plus, I don’t know that I’d even call guys like Kieschnick or Eric Surkamp “prospects” anymore anyway.

As for the individual profiles, each one has a specific format. I thought it’d be helpful to include a couple samples here.

Pitching profiles look like this:

Name | Position, Age, Height, Weight | Professional Origin {i.e. draft (by year and round), international free agency (by year and country)} | 2013 stats: (Level) Games Pitched, Games Started, Innings Pitched, ERA, Hits, Walks, Strikeouts.

Example: Joe Pitcher | LHP, 23 yo, 6-3, 195 | 2010 Draft – 10 | (AAA) 20 GS, 126 IP, 3.50 ERA, 120 H, 44 BB, 100 K

Hitting profiles have a couple little differences:

Name | Position, Age, Height, Weight, Bats, Throws | Pro Origin | 2013 stats: (Level) Games Played, Plate Appearances, Batting Average/OPS, HR, RBI (they’re important to me!), SB (if any), BB, K.

Example: Bob Batter | 3B, 21 yo, 6-1, 200, BL, TR | IFA 2008 DR (Dominican Republic) | (AA) 100 G, 355 PA, .275/.755, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 12 SB, 28 BB, 65 K

I’m sure most of you probably didn’t need an explanation, but I figured I’d include them as a reference anyway, just in case there’s any confusion down the road.

That pretty much covers the major guidelines of the project, so let’s talk about the organization a little bit. Obviously, I know much more about the Giants than any other system out there, so it’s hard not to be a little biased. But I truly feel that San Francisco’s farm system as a whole is pretty undervalued. That could change next season, and I almost expect it to at this point. Crick is hands down the #1 prospect in the organization, and everything dovetails off of him. I think Crick should is a top 30 prospect in all of baseball right now. Will MLB or Baseball America rank him that high next spring? I’d like to think so, but as I said, the Giants haven’t gotten a ton of love since the Bumgarner/Posey/Belt days.

While the lack of big upside players in the system definitely hurts the overall rankings, I don’t know that there’s an organization out there with as much pitching depth, top to bottom. While it’s certainly not wise to expect Cy Youngs from the majority of these guys, the front office and scouting department fully expect to see Crick, Edwin Escobar, Clayton Blackburn, Adalberto Mejia, and Ty Blach in the big leagues some day… I’d also add guys like Chris Stratton, Kendry Flores, Martin Agosta, and Keury Mella to that list. So, right there you have 9 starting pitchers who have MLB-caliber arms – and half of them should pitch in AA or higher next season. Will they all pan out as capable big league pitchers? Probably not, but a few of them will. And a few others will be used as trade chips. Add in power relief arms like Cody Hall, Josh Osich and the kid everyone is talking about this fall, Derek Law, and I think you’ve got the makings for one very talented class of pitchers coming up through the ranks… and those are just the headliners.

The position player talent certainly doesn’t run as deep, but again, I think the Giants are being undercut a bit here. Do their guys stack up with the Byron Buxton’s and Miguel Sano’s of the world? Of course not, but for a team that hasn’t exactly had favorable draft selections in the past few years, there’s definitely a pool of talent here. No future MVP’s, but I think Christian Arroyo, Andrew Susac, Mac Williamson and even Joe Panik all have a chance to be big league regulars. That’s not bad at all, in my book… especially when you consider that only Arroyo and Panik were 1st round picks. Gustavo Cabrera has the major injury concern now with his wrist accident, but he’d be right up there with those guys in a perfect world. We’ll have to keep an eye on him, if and when he’s healthy.

On the surface, 2013 looked like a down year for the farm system, as there weren’t really any players ready to help the MLB club. I’d be willing to bet the letdown of this year’s group is going to hurt the Giants in overall organizational rankings. I guess that’s why it’s a damn good thing organizational rankings don’t mean squat in the real world! But that’s the way a lot of the “experts” look at it: if you don’t have talent in AA and AAA ready to go, you’ve got nothing.

I don’t think we’ll see another bear cabinet year like that with the farm system for quite a while. With guys like Escobar, Susac and Panik headed to Fresno, there should be some decent reinforcements ready to help by mid-season if needed. I’d also put Hall and Law on that list as well. If Gary Brown can get his act together, he may get an opportunity to prove himself too, as it doesn’t look like LF is going to get any major upgrades this winter.

So, to sum things up, I’ll say this: I like the Giants farm system, probably more than most. Maybe the high-end, big name talent isn’t there right now, but the past three draft classes (and some sweet international pitching) have really added depth to this group. I know that there’ll be a number of guys to keep an eye on at each level in the organization next year, and I don’t think you can say that every season. And if you can find an open rotation spot at any of the full season affiliates, I’m all ears. The Richmond group of Crick, Blackburn, Blach, and Mejia (and maybe a Stratton, Agosta or Flores) is the obvious cream of the crop, but there are definitely other hurlers look out as well. I’m very excited to see the progress of these guys in a year. On the hitting side, I’d love to see Arroyo take the SALLY by storm, but I’d be content with a decent, healthy campaign that gets him promoted to San Jose by 2015… and you can bet that all eyes will be on the Fresno trio of Brown, Panik and Susac.

Enough rambling. The point of this post was to introduce the Cove Chatter 100. I have enjoyed this project immensely, and I hope you will as well. Doing something like this takes your knowledge of (and love for) the minor leagues to a whole new level, and I can’t wait to start getting some of the profiles out there. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to give any feedback or corrections. Here we go!

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3 thoughts on “Coming Soon: The Cove Chatter 100”

    1. Thank you. The Giants are definitely loaded with lefties right now. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a couple of them make it to the bigs this year, if things break right for Escobar and Osich… I also wonder what the new guy De Paula has to offer. But yes, there’ll be plenty of talk about the lefties, and there are quite a few of them.

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