21. Steven Okert, LHP, Age 22
San Jose (A+): 35.1 IP, 19 SV, 1.53, 33 H, 11 BB, 54 K
**Update: Okert was indeed promoted to AA Richmond last night, as announced via Twitter. The promotion is well deserved.
Okert was a pretty well-regarded lefty when the Giants drafted him out of Oklahoma in 2012 (4th round). He pitched well in Salem-Keizer that summer, but he struggled with consistency in Augusta last season. On the surface, his 2013 numbers don’t look all that bad, but they aren’t quite what you’d expect from a lefty said to be pumping mid-90’s in college. Apparently he wasn’t lighting the radar gun up as great as advertised down the stretch in the SALLY. But all reports indicate his velocity is back this season in San Jose, and he’s been arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in the organization to this point. Everyone knows how tough the Cal League can be on hitters, but Okert has surrendered only 6 ER in 33 appearances this year. I’ve seen his fastball mentioned as high as 97 on the gun, and he adds a beauty of a slider to go with it. He was selected to the Cal/Car All-Star game, where he opened eyes by getting the CAL squad out of a hairy situation with runners on and no outs in the 9th. The dude earned the save, and earned himself an Aaron Rodgers-style championship belt in the clubhouse for his efforts. Okert’s emergence this year is a wonderful surprise. If he keeps pitching like this, I believe he’ll be in Richmond very soon.
(Video from Conner Penfold)
22. Daniel Carbonell, CF, Age 23
Salem-Keizer (ssA): N/A
The Giants signed Carbonell to a 4-year deal last week, giving him a $1M signing bonus and a spot on the 40-man roster. He’s a Cuban defector with tremendous athleticism and speed, and it sounds like he should report to short-season A-ball in Oregon (by way of his current home, Mexico) in the next couple of weeks. Carbonell is not a polished player like Cespedes or Puig. He is a project, and the Giants will need to help refine his game. But the videos I’ve seen show a guy who looks like he can do incredible things on a baseball diamond. He’s got 80 speed on the bases, and should be fun to watch in CF. The big question, as always, is whether he can hit. If so, look out! Really, this is a great move by the Giants. There is relatively little risk in taking a chance on a player like Carbonell. I’m excited for him to make his pro debut. This, in my opinion, is a step in the right direction for an organization that’s lacking international hitting talent in its system.
23. Mikey Edie, CF, Age 16
DSL Giants (R): 72 AB, .236/.368/.264, 8 SB (4 CS)
Edie was the Giants top international position player signee last winter, and he recently made his debut in the Dominican Summer League. He’s very, very young (turns 17 next week), and at 5-11, 175, there’s certainly time for him to get bigger and stronger. Through 18 games, you can already see the Venezuelan CF has the chance to become an impact player, much like Gustavo Cabrera did in the DSL last summer. Edie was a standout in international competition at a young age, and that is a trait professional teams certainly look for when scouting foreign-born players. He reminds somewhat of Derek Hill, the OF from Elk Grove High who I really wanted the Giants to draft earlier this month. Hill is obviously older and more polished, but Edie’s game profiles very similarly. Both players have a chance to become 5-tool prospects if their bats develop. For now, there’s not a ton of information out there about this kid, but he and fellow Giants signee Kelvin Beltre are off to fine starts to their pro career. Honestly, the sky is the limit for guys like this. Now we have to sit back patiently and see if they can put everything together.
24. Angel Villalona, 1B, Age 23
Richmond (AA): 228 AB, .263/.323/.443, 8 HR, 41 RBI
Villalona has become somewhat of a lightning rod among Giants prospect followers these days. I’m finding that a good number of people (fans) I talk to wouldn’t blink an eye if the Giants designated him for assignment. I can assure you, the Giants have no plans of doing that, as he would be scooped up in a hurry. Look, I realize Villalona likely isn’t the future all-star most people had hoped he’d become when the Giants made him a millionaire in 2007. He’s 23 years old now, and still strikes out in bunches as he always had. But Angel V. is very much an intriguing prospect in my book. I think people forget that he missed 3 full seasons of professional ball in the US. That’s an incredibly long time for any athlete, let alone a baseball prospect. We found out last winter (from Pavlovic, I believe) the Giants still have a couple of option years left on him, so there really is no rush to do anything crazy at this point. Although he’s on the DL at the moment, Villalona was having a very nice June, hitting .298 with 3 HR in 13 games. I’ll admit, the very few times I’ve seen him play, I wasn’t all that impressed with his plate approach. But the kid has monster right-handed power, and his numbers in Richmond this year are already an improvement from last season. He’s still very inexperienced in baseball terms, so I’m reserving judgment on the kid for now. We should see him in Fresno next year, where I believe he can easily hit 20+ homers over a full season.
25. Dylan Davis, RF, Age 20
Oregon State: 237 AB, .283, 7 HR, 21 BB, 31 K
3rd round pick this year out of Oregon State; he has not signed yet, but I don’t have much doubt that he will. He played high school ball in Washington with his college teammate and All-American Michael Conforto. The two were held in pretty similar regard heading into their junior year, but Davis saw his average drop from .327 in 2013 down to .283 this spring, while Conforto hit well above .300 all season en route to a 1st round selection. This is a prototypical Giants 3rd rounder – College corner bat with power potential and contact issues. Looking a little closer, Davis reminds me a lot of Chris Dominguez, another former 3rd rounder (2009). Dominguez is bigger in size, and a tad more athletic, but he offered major power potential and a cannon for an arm coming out of Louisville. Davis has a similar arm, and apparently can pump it up to 97 on the mound. Obviously, you don’t draft a hitter this high with the intention of changing him to a pitcher. But you just never know. Davis was ranked #74 on MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects. He’s an interesting pick, and hopefully he inks a deal soon. If the Giants can get him to Salem-Keizer in the next few weeks, he’ll likely provide a nice offensive boost, and I’m sure the fans out there would love to see another Oregon boy in the lineup, like they had with Blake Miller last summer.