2014 Roster Predictons: Position Players

Same idea as Sunday’s Opening Day rotation predictions, but we’re looking at the position players this time. The instructions over at McCovey Chronicles were to list the 8 traditional starters, 1 DH, and 2-3 bench players. For the sake of unity, I decided to go with a 3-man bench for each squad (1 of those spots obviously reserved for a catcher). If you’re scoring at home, that’s 12 position players per team, 48 in total. I also included a couple of “extras” for each team. Those are the guys who either just missed the cut, or may start the year on the reserve list, be it for injury purposes or a lack of roster space. Of that extras group, I believe only Andrew Cain is on injured reserve, as he’s recovering from some major surgeries this offseason that caused him to lose nearly 75 lbs.

Putting these together wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, especially once I got into a rhythm. The most challenging part for me was sorting out the logjam of A-ball middle infielders and AA/AAA outfielders. There are certainly too many players and not enough roster spots to go around. As I said yesterday, I know there will be plenty of surprises this spring, and these projections will probably end up looking pretty goofy by Opening Day. But for now, I feel good about these lineups.

Here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

Fresno

C: Andrew Susac

1B: Angel Villalona

2B: Joe Panik

3B: Adam Duvall

SS: Brandon Hicks

LF: Roger Kieschnick

CF: Gary Brown

RF: Jarrett Parker

DH: Javier Herrera

Bench: Guillermo Quiroz

Bench: Nick Noonan

Bench: Chris Dominguez

Extras: Carter Jurica, Tyler Graham

If you’ve been following the Giants’ farm system for the past 5-6 years, you’ll appreciate the melting pot of former and current top prospects on this Fresno club. Seriously, there are so many storylines with this group it’s not even funny. Susac is the up-and-comer people will be looking for, while Brown will be the most scrutinized guy on the team as he tries to overhaul his swing. Duvall’s addition to the 40-man bumps Dominguez to the bench despite a nice 2013 campaign in the PCL. It’ll be interesting to see how the middle infielders get sorted out, and I’m sure the decisions made on the MLB roster will have an effect on this group as well. For instance, if the Giants decide to go with Ehire Adrianza as the extra reserve infielder for the MLB club, then Fresno will need to make some room for Tony Abreu. I’m not sure how that will shake out just yet.

I think you can spot the players who are locks to be here come Opening Day. If I had to pick a few question marks, I’d probably go with Villalona, Parker and Herrera as three who could be repeat offenders in Richmond. Most of the other projections over at MCC actually had Parker back in AA, but I still think he’s getting promoted. Fresno hasn’t really been stocked full of everyday player talent for a few years, but I’ll say it now: this could be a potent lineup if it comes together. A lot of these guys offer versatility in the field as well. I like the mixture, and I think this will be a talented team this summer.

Richmond

C: Jeff Arnold

1B: Ricky Oropesa

2B: Ryan Cavan

3B: Mario Lisson

SS: Matt Duffy

LF: Devin Harris

CF: Ryan Lollis

RF: Mac Williamson

DH: Mark Minicozzi

Bench: Tyler LaTorre

Bench: Myles Schroder

Bench: Chris Lofton

Extras: Eliezer Zambrano, Kelby Tomlinson

Not the most exciting group in the world, but I think they’ll surprise some teams. Their job will be to score enough runs for one of the top rotations in the minors, so this team should be pretty strong. Williamson is the headliner here, as the Giants are hoping for big things from him. How will he adjust to the pitching environment? Lisson is a very interesting signing, he’s loaded with power. I can see him getting the assignment here, like Herrera did last season coming out of independent ball. A few others have Minicozzi going to Fresno to play a utility role, but I just don’t see any room for him unless Villalona starts the season in Richmond. Duffy would certainly be an aggressive placement, but I just don’t see enough talent above or below him to get in the way of a promotion to the Eastern. There are so many middle infielders that need sorted out at the A-ball level, it just makes sense for Duffy to make the jump. It’s definitely not a lock though.

Richmond will go as its pitching staff goes this summer, but there’s still a decent mix of prospect-types in Mac, Oropesa and Duffy, sandwiched in with veteran guys like Cavan, Harris and Schroder (who I think will get a lot of time at 2B as well). The offensive output for this group will really depend on Williamson, while Harris and Lisson could be nice sources of power as well.

San Jose

C: Ben Turner

1B: Brian Ragira

2B: Trevor Brown

3B: Mitch Delfino

SS: Jeremy Sy

LF: Tyler Horan

CF: Jesus Galindo

RF: Chuckie Jones

DH: Brandon Bednar

Bench: Eric Sim

Bench: Joey Rapp

Bench: Shawn Payne

Extras: Elliott Blair, John Polonius, Bobby Haney

San Jose announcer Joe Ritzo has written a series of articles this offseason highlighting players who could end up in the Cal League in 2014. The first thing that stands out to me about this group is that there are no returners among it. Brown, Delfino and Galindo all spent time with the team during the postseason, but otherwise Payne is the only guy who saw any significant time in San Jose last year… and even he was demoted to Augusta for part of the season.

The other theme here is 2013 college draftees. Ragira, Bednar and Horan were the first three collegiate position players taken by the Giants last summer, and I think all of them will bypass Augusta. There’s just not the competition standing in their way at this point, and even Ritzo said as much. The fourth college hitter taken in that draft was Ty Ross, and even he might have a chance to start the year in San Jose. I’ll go with Turner behind the dish for now, a guy with a stud defensive profile who will be in big league camp this spring.

Jones is an intriguing name here, and I think his second half surge in Augusta last summer earned him a spot with the little Giants. If he can make some early adjustments, I wouldn’t put a 15-20 HR season past him. He’s got the power for it. Sy is a player a lot of folks are talking about this winter too. Sun Belt Conference MVP, injured in 2012, starts his pro career in 2013 and rakes in the NWL. If Duffy gets the bump to Richmond, I see no reason why Sy won’t be a strong candidate to start the year in High-A. Can he stick at short, or will the organization need to bring in a Polonius or Relaford type to boost the defense?

Augusta

C: Ty Ross

1B: Blake Miller

2B: Alberto Robles

3B: Ryder Jones

SS: Christian Arroyo

LF: Rafael Rodriguez

CF: Tyler Hollick

RF: Randy Ortiz

DH: Shilo McCall

Bench: Geno Escalante

Bench: Ryan Jones

Bench: Rando Moreno

Extras: Andrew Cain, Sam Eberle, Drew Stiner, Leo Rojas, Travious Relaford

This will likely be a very young team, as the college crew from last season’s Greeenjackets are gone. Ideally, the Giants would like to keep Arroyo and Ryder Jones together, but both guys will have to prove they are worthy of a full-season assignment this spring. The outfield will be mostly overhauled except for Rodriguez, who’s not ready for the Cal League… and will STILL be young for the level. Will he ever get it going offensively? Hollick deserves another shot to stick in CF, and I feel that McCall did enough in Salem-Keizer to get a chance in the Sally this year. Maybe the Giants’ player personnel guys have other ideas. I added Ortiz to the mix because there weren’t any other clear-cut candidates for RF, unless Chuckie Jones returns on Opening Day. Ortiz isn’t all that impressive at the plate, but he can take a walk, he’s played a lot of RF, and he’s a burner on the bases. Let’s say I’m not exactly confident in him here, but that’s my guess for now. One other note on the OF: He might be a longshot, but I don’t see a whole lot standing in Joneshwy Fargas’ way for an aggressive assignment to Augusta. Keep an eye out for his name.

The position battles I’m watching here are 2B and catcher. Between Robles, Moreno and Ryan Jones, the competition for playing time should be pretty fierce at second. Relaford might have something to say about that as well, but I think he may end up in short-season ball to work on his hitting. Personally, I’d love to see Escalante have a shot to play every day behind the plate, but I don’t think that will happen unless Ross gets the bump to San Jose. Those two guys were taken in the same draft, four rounds apart, and they’ll likely stay together for a while. Both could turn out to be pretty balanced backstops, but I think Escalante will be the better of the two offensively down the road.

One other guy to watch here is Miller, the D-2 GNAC MVP who posted good offensive numbers in Salem-Keizer last summer. He was a shortstop in college, but looks to be playing the infield corners as a pro. He’s not a lock for Augusta, but I could certainly see him getting a chance. If he stays in extended spring training though, a guy like Eberle could get the call to play 1B for the Jackets.

Final Thoughts:

Remember the caveat: these are only my (mostly uneducated) guesses, and are sure to look foolish by April. No doubt there will be some injuries, surprises and letdowns in spring training that will shake things up. At this point, though, I think we’ve got a pretty clear picture of the position player talent in the organization. While I don’t think the Giants get as much credit as they should for the hitters they’ve developed in the past (Sandoval, Posey, Belt, Crawford), this exercise made it pretty clear to me why there’s no love for current position player prospects in the system. Aside from Susac and Panik in Fresno and Williamson in Richmond, the names thin out pretty quickly. But there are definitely some guys who I’m looking for breakout seasons from, at least one or two from each roster. Keep your fingers crossed.

The Giants were the winningest organization in all of baseball last season, so don’t tell me this isn’t a proud group. Yes, the system is pitching-led at the moment, but there will undoubtedly be a few more guys who open some eyes at the plate this summer.

We’ll do one more of these to cover the bullpens, which is the biggest crapshoot of them all. In the meantime, I’d love any feedback you have. Did I leave anybody out? Are there any spots where I’m way off base? Please, let me know your thoughts!

(Real Life Studios)

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12 thoughts on “2014 Roster Predictons: Position Players”

  1. Will be interesting to compare your picks once the minor league season starts. Will you get an “A” or an “F”, only time will tell.

    Personally, I’d like to see the Giants jump Christian Arroyo to Fresno and put him on a fast track, althou Augusta sounds about right.

    1. Depends how you’re grading! I’m sure they won’t look too hot though, to be honest. If Arroyo holds his own in Augusta, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll get every opportunity to advance quickly. The Giants love his bat, but he’ll have to prove he deserves the promotions.

    1. Thanks for the comment Nick. I’ll be glad to check out your rankings. You’re certainly not the only one high on Susac. Even MLB.com put him in their top 10 catching prospects, but I don’t think he’ll crack a top 100 list until he produces in AAA. It’s all about health for him. If he can stay on the field this summer, I’m looking for very big things.

  2. Thanks I appreciate it! Yea with his only so-so year last year I’ve heard some scouts are a little down on him, but his decent pop still intrigues me. Also heard he raked pretty well in AFL recently so I’m hoping he keeps it going.

    1. Looked very good in the AFL. Showed power and patience at the plate (led the league in OBP), and nabbed a couple of runners at second. Improved his stock greatly. And actually, he had a very good season in Richmond. The only thing that put a damper on it was the injuries… just couldn’t stay on the field. But his production at the plate in roughly half a season of play was impressive… I wrote an article a while back looking at recent players who’ve gone from San Jose to Richmond, and how it’s affected their offensive production. Most guys see their OPS dip drastically (almost 100 points on average), while Susac’s jumped nearly 100 points… he was the best by far of all 20 players I compared. The dude has a bright future, if he can stay on the field.

  3. Alrighty, I’m going to show some love for the “old” guys and some non-love for Angel Villalona. He needs to show he can hit AA pitching first. Let’s bring up Minicozzi and have him rotate at 1B & DH with with Dominguez and anybody else who needs AB’s. I’m also going to give Javier Herrera the nod over Jarret Parker. Let’s see what this guy has. He could sneak his way onto consideration for the 5th OF role in SF at some point.

    The Grizzlies lineup:

    Brown-Panik-Susac-Duvall-Kieschnick-Herrera-Hicks-Dominguez-Minicozzi

    Not bad. Should score some runs for a rotation that could yield some runs.

    1. Thanks Foothills. Angel V to Fresno is just a hunch on my end, but if he does go back to Richmond, I could certainly see Minicozzi playing the 1B/UT role in AAA. I wonder if they see him in more of a mentoring role for the younger guys, like a player coach. But he did have a solid year with the bat, as did Herrera, who I like a lot (as much as you can like an “older” minor league vet, I guess). Herrera did get the invite to ST, Parker didn’t, so that could be an indication. I listed Parker as the starter in right because he’s said to be a solid CF-type defender. I don’t think Herrera is a slouch, but I think Parker might have the upper hand there. Maybe it’ll work out exactly opposite of my pick, with Herrera getting the OF starts, and Parker subbing from time to time.
      For the record: I’d have no problem is Herrera played well enough to get a 5th OF look this spring. I was hoping he’d get a bump to Fresno last year, and I’m excited to see what he offers in camp.

    2. Villalona only has one option left, so I expect the Giants to be aggressive and push him to AAA and see what he can do there, especially since there is no compelling 1B prospect to keep him down, plus I would think that they would want to give Oropesa another chance at AA since he did well in San Jose again, and if Angel is in AA, Rickey has to repeat San Jose again.

      Meanwhile Minicozzi didn’t light up AA (remember he’s got 5-6 years extra experience over the average player here) enough that he should get the call over Villalona for AAA. Villalona didn’t distinguish himself either, but with one option left, the Giants need to see how he does in a league that isn’t so hard on our hitting prospects, as the EL has been for a long time.

      Still, that also held true for Adrianza last season, and they still kept him in AA, where he still didn’t hit, before inexplicably promoting him to AAA, where he then raked, so Angel could end up there.

      But the way Angel hit in San Jose last season, I hope the Giants just put him in AAA and see what he can do..

  4. Nice post!

    From what I remember, Abreu is out of options too, so he would have to pass through waivers first before he can be sent down to AAA. And the way Sabean talked about the scarcity of MI’s, I think they would sooner trade him than waive him.

    1. Oh, and I agree with you with your placements for the most part, very thought provoking for some.

      My gut says Shilo gets the call for LF in Augusta, while RafRod gets Salem-Keizer again, however. I still have hope for RafRod but he just didn’t produce last season.

      And I would add Arroyo to your list of top position prospects.

      And I’m wondering why you put Hicks as starting SS in AAA. Noonan should be running out of options soon as well, so I would see Noonan as the logical “starter” (with Hicks probably getting a lot of starts as well, but also at other positions) so that he could continue to further develop his bat, which he can’t do from the bench. I still like and have hope for Nick’s bat, he has shown some skills before, and maybe he’s a Scutaro type who figures it out later. Hicks peripherals in his career has not looked that great, and he’s getting pretty old, he just seems more like MI utility insurance, in case we need it at the MLB level.

      1. You may be right OGC. I honestly wasn’t sure how to sort out the infielders there. I’m sure both Noonan and Dominguez will see a lot of playing time, even if neither is the starter at a certain position. I guess I thought Hicks would get the nod since he has more MLB experience, but seeing that he didn’t make it out of AAA last year, maybe Noonan will get majority of the time at SS. I see Noonan as a ways down the middle-infield depth chart (behind Abreu and Adrianza), but he proved last year that all of those things can change. Thinking about it that way, you are probably correct in thinking he’ll be the starter over Hicks.

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