*Remember, names in bold are guys who were on my San Jose prediction. A little better accuracy here. 6 hitters and 11 pitchers, not too shabby.
San Jose – CAL (A+)
C: Trevor Brown: Versatile player who will likely play 2B as well. Promoted from Augusta last year, looked great at the plate in CAL playoffs.
C: Ben Turner: Tall catcher with a great defensive rep. Should see plenty of starts.
C: Jesus Navarro: Mexican native looks like an insurance policy and probably won’t play much.
IF: Mitch Delfino: Former Cal 3B has a ton of pop. Could be a 20+ HR candidate this year.
IF: Blake Miller: D2 GNAC MVP last year, now he’s in San Jose. Can play multiple positions, including SS.
IF: Rando Moreno: Skinny MIF is a confident player, both in the field and at the plate. Moving up after only playing 13 G in Augusta last year.
IF: Brian Ragira: Top college hitter from the 2013 draft. He’s a bit of a mystery though. Very toolsy player. Looks like he’ll be everyday 1B.
IF: Alberto Robles: .300 hitter in 217 PA for Augusta last year. Should share infield time with Miller and Moreno.
IF: Ydwin Villegas: 6-year vet of the system is coming down from Fresno. He’s a defensive whiz, but only a .223 career hitter.
OF: Elliott Blair: 26 yo utility player returns to San Jose, likely in a reserve role.
OF: Jesus Galindo: Greatest base-stealer in the organization was promoted for CAL postseason in 2013. He should start in CF, but his bat is still a question mark.
OF: Chuckie Jones: Chuckie could be a big time breakout candidate in San Jose this year. He’s very raw, but showed some nice 2nd half power last season.
OF: Chris Lofton: Returns to San Jose for a 3rd straight season. He does a little of everything, but doesn’t really have any standout tools.
OF: Mac Williamson: Starting the season on a rehab assignment of sorts in San Jose, where he should be able to DH. Hopefully he’ll be healthy and in Richmond soon.
P: Chris Stratton: Former 1st round pick should be the Opening Day starter. Will he push for a mid-season promotion this year?
P: Kendry Flores: Looked bigger and stronger in spring camp. He was nearly assigned to Richmond, which is no surprise to this blogger.
P: Martin Agosta: Was dominant when not injured last year. Has the stuff to be the ace of this staff, but needs to stay healthy.
P: Joan Gregorio: A monster of a human being. A #4 starter with mid-90’s heat and control? Yep, this is a stacked rotation. Missed a lot of 2013 with injury.
P: Pat Young: 2013 draft pick. Listed at 6-ft-5; looks more like 6-7. Low 90’s fastball with sink… not your everyday #5 starter.
P: Joe Biagini: Made 20 starts in Augusta in 2013, with less than stellar results. Should be a starter on this club, but he’ll need to hold up his end of the deal.
P: Ryan Bradley: Son of Giants MiLB Pitching Coordinator. 25 yo lefty spent 2013 in Richmond.
P: Jorge Bucardo: Former promising prospect looks to keep the comeback trail alive in the bullpen. Career has been injury-marred so far.
P: Ian Gardeck: Big righty with mid-90’s velocity. Doesn’t always know where it’s going.
P: Stephen Johnson: Maybe the most promising reliever on this roster. Used to throw 100, now works 92-95. Owns a nasty frisbee slider, as well as a funky delivery and inconsistent control.
P: Mason McVay: 6-7 lefty with above average velocity and control. He gives up a few more hits than you’d like, but could have a big season.
P: Tyler Mizenko: Augusta’s closer a year ago, should battle for the spot again this year. Low-90’s sinkerballer.
P: Steven Okert: Former 4th round pick could make it as a lefty specialist one day, if not a legitimate middle-reliever. LHH were .189 against him last season.
P: Jeff Soptic: 6-6 righty was acquired for Connor Gillaspie a year ago. Has good stuff, but lots of trouble harnessing it.
Outlook: To me, this year’s San Jose team has a very similar makeup to the 2013 group. There are some intriguing players on the offensive side, but this will undoubtedly be a pitching-led club. That seems to a very common trend in the organization this spring, sans maybe Fresno and the MLB Giants.
I have been saying all along that this rotation has a chance to be just as good as last year’s group, but I think I have changed my stance a bit this spring. It’s no knock on these starters at all, but you just don’t see 5 pitchers do what Kyle Crick and his mates did – in the Cal League no less – every season. I do think any one of the top 5 in this rotation (Stratton, Agosta, Flores, Gregorio, Young) could have a huge season, catapulting himself to Richmond. But to predict the same success as last year’s group might be going a little far at this point.
As far as talent, Gregorio might have the highest upside on that staff… and he’s probably #4 in the rotation. That’s impressive. I’m looking for something more from Stratton this year, as I’m sure the Giants are. Yes, he was good last year. But they want him to be great, not just good.
The guy I’m really watching is Flores. I’ve already raved about him enough this offseason, but I think he’s going to push the envelope big time. He’s already on the 40-man, so we know he has the chance to move quickly if he excels. He’s looking bigger and stronger this spring. He’ll constantly be trying to prove people wrong who say he’s pitching with just average stuff, but I think he’s got something in store for those folks. If the velocity increases are real, he could be a stud.
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with Williamson, other than that he’s got an injury that’s prevented him from throwing. So… possibly a shoulder deal? I do know that he’s still able to hit, and it sounds like he’s been hitting well. Hopefully he gets back to full health soon, but this team should benefit from having his bat in the lineup early.
The rest of the offense will likely go as guys like Ragira, Delfino and Galindo go. Don’t sleep on Chuckie Jones, who came on strong late last year. I’m also very interested to see how the playing time at 2B and SS shakes out. Moreno is a player I’m keeping my eye on, as is Miller. One year, you’re playing at D2 Western Oregon. The next, you’re taking hacks in big league spring training and going straight to high-A. I talked to the head coach at the university I work for (another GNAC school), and he thinks the Giants got a steal with Miller. I believe him.
(L-R: Flores, Stratton, Gregorio, Young, Biagini, Agosta. Photo c/o: Joe Ritzo’s Twitter)
*Note: Click on the picture above for a larger view. My goodness, Gregorio and Young are big guys. Martin Agosta is the shrimp of the group, and he’s 6-foot-1 for crying out loud!