Post #5 in the series.
San Francisco Giants Top 50 Prospects: #31-40
#31: Ronnie Jebavy, CF, Age 21: Jebavy was a pretty unknown player (wasn’t ranked on most of the big boards) heading into the June 2015 draft. The Giants took him in the 5th round, and a quick look at his resume makes me think he could be one of the real sleepers in the class. Jebavy is a CF with legitimate range and glove skills in the field. Despite playing at Middle Tennessee State (certainly not known as a division 1 power), his highlight reel defense was featured multiple times on Sportscenter’s “Top 10 Plays” (here’s one of them).
While his defense is likely the strength of his game, Jebavy’s offensive totals in his lone season for MTSU (he transferred from Columbia State CC) were very impressive. He slashed .359/.408/.531 in 268 PA, hitting 7 HR and swiping 24 SB. He clubbed 8 more big flies for Salem-Keizer (including this one in his pro debut), placing him among the short-season NWL leaders. He also stole 23 bases, making for a total of 47 between college and professional ball in 2015. His average took the biggest hit, however, dropping nearly .100 points. He struggled to get on base as well, drawing only 9 walks in 290 PA, striking out 55 times in the process.
There’s no doubting Jebavy’s defense or footspeed at this point, and it appears he may offer above average power for a CF as well. His future will likely hinge on his ability to hit. If he does, he may well shoot up this list. If not, he looks have enough defense to be a useful 4th OF type in the majors. Either way, I’m excited to see how his career unfolds.
#32: Steven Duggar, RF, Age 22: It’s very hard to separate Duggar from Jebavy at this point in my opinion. Jebavy was drafted one round earlier, so I’ll slide Duggar in one spot behind him. The Clemson RF is a classic Giants draftee in that he was a well regarded MLB prospect throughout his college career, yet never quite lived up to his potential. He did, however, impress during his 2014 summer in the Cape Cod League (like I said, classic Giants draft pick). Duggar was a career .299 hitter in his 3 years at Clemson, but he was most well known for his athleticism and one of the most powerful outfield arms in the nation. (detailed John Manuel video scouting report)
Duggar was a consensus pre-season Top 100 draft prospect entering his junior year, but the Giants didn’t select him until the 6th round. They’re undoubtedly hoping they can tweak his swing and make him the steal of the class. Though he struck out 52 times and only hit 1 HR in 58 games for Salem-Keizer in his summer debut, he also hit .293 and walked 35 times. At this point, I would be surprised if both he and Jebavy didn’t end up in Augusta together next spring, possibly making for one heck of an exciting outfield combination.
#33: Miguel Gomez, C/3B, Age 23: Want to know why ranking prospects is often a maddening exercise? Take these first three guys for example. All are about the same age. All played roughly the same amount of games at the same level of professional competition last summer. The first two (Jebavy & Duggar) are outfielders with exceptional defensive and speed profiles but questionable hit tools. The third, Gomez, is almost the exact opposite; he’s an infielder with what looks to be a legitimate hit tool but no speed or defensive profile. You can likely put the next player, Jose Vizcaino, into this discussion as well. Now, the question is, how do you separate all of these guys?! I’ll let you be the judge of that, but I decided to lump them all together for now… likely to look like a fool for it by next winter I’m sure!
Generally, players who spend 3 seasons playing in the Dominican Summer League and win the MVP as a 21 year old are considered anything but serious prospects. The switch-hitting Gomez, however, came to the U.S. after posting .300+ averages in his final two years overseas, and spent the summer barreling up pitch after pitch in Salem-Keizer. The Giants as an organization seem to be preaching the mantra, “look for a good pitch to hit and attack it.” Gomez did just that in 2015, hitting .319 with 6 HR, 24 K and only 5 BB in 284 PA. His production peaked with a 22-game hit streak, threatening the NWL record. Where Gomez will suit up defensively in the future is a different concern, as he spent 2/3 of the season playing 3B. It seems like that’s where the Giants would like him to settle in, as he caught only 16 games all summer. It remains to be seen if he can find a fit on the diamond, but I’m excited to see how his bat plays in San Jose next year.
#34: Jose Vizcaino, 3B, Age 22: The big-bodied son of a former (short-time) Giant had a solid junior season at Santa Clara, hitting .335 with 9 HR as the club’s starting SS. The Giants drafted him 7th round (right after Jebavy and Duggar), and immediately sent him to Salem-Keizer. He did start 6 games at SS, but spent most of the summer splitting time at 3B with Gomez. The slugger missed some time with minor injury, but hit fairly well when healthy (.288, 6 HR, 5 SB in 205 PA). He has exciting power if he can make consistent contact. While short-season stats should always be taken into proper perspective, his low K rate (16%) is certainly a promising sign at this point.
Vizcaino’s significant experience at shortstop in college leads me to believe he should be able to make a nice transition to the hot corner in the pro’s. If not, his offensive potential makes him a nice corner OF candidate in my opinion as well. In the immediate future, he’s another fun name to follow from the Giants 2015 draft class.
#35: Trevor Brown, C, Age 24: It was a tough year for reserve catchers in San Francisco. When injuries to Hector Sanchez and Andrew Susac decimated the depth chart late in the season, Brown got his golden opportunity. The athletic backstop and former UCLA Bruin (he caught Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer) made the most of his September in the bigs, appearing in 13 games and taking over the primary backup role from Jackson Williams down the stretch. Brown doesn’t project as an offensive force (he’s a career .244 hitter with 7 HR in the minors), but his defense and positional flexibility could make him an asset going forward. At the moment, Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson have the inside track at bench infield spots next spring, but the Giants may also decide to give Brown (who can play some 2B) a roster spot in order to get Susac’s bat in the lineup more as well. If Susac continues to struggle with injury, the backup job looks to be Brown’s going forward.
#36: Jake Smith, RHP, Age 25: The Giants drafted Smith in the 48th round out of Campbell University in 2011. The MLB Draft doesn’t even have a 48th round anymore. At the time, he was a little known pitcher for a little known school, and now he’s a member of the 40-man roster as he likely heads for a possible closer’s role in Richmond. Think about that for a second.
The 6-ft-4 Smith didn’t get to full-season ball until 2014, when the Giants assigned him to Augusta. David Lee had good things to report about him from the start, noting a fastball that reached mid-90’s and a hard, deceptive breaking ball. He took off that summer, earning a late-season promotion to San Jose for the Cal League playoffs.
If he was solid in 2014, Smith was downright dominant for San Jose last season. He struck out 118 batters in 84.1 innings of work (12.6 k/9), posting a career low 2.2 bb/9 in the process. He took over as the Giants closer around the mid-season point, and was nearly untouchable during the second half. According to Joe Ritzo, Smith posted a 1.38 ERA after June 1 while converting 16 of 17 save chances. He was voted the top reliever in the league by CAL managers, and could very well be headed for AT&T Park if he finds similar success next year in AA.
#37: Jonah Arenado, 3B, Age 21: The Giants jumped Nolan’s younger brother (their 16th round pick in 2013) to Augusta for Opening Day despite no previous experience above rookie ball. Making it through the grind of the SALLY is an accomplishment in and of itself for a young hitter, and Arenado did just that. Though his offensive stats don’t really jump out at you, he had a few moments of greatness at the plate (2-HR game, 5-hit game) in 2015. He’s a big, strong kid at 6-4, 225, and his 29 errors at 3B make me wonder if he’s ticketed for 1B in the long run. I have to imagine the Giants are hoping he’ll blossom into a 20-25 HR threat down the road. He’ll need to keep working on his plate discipline and pitch recognition if he wants to realize that potential. You look at his last name, and see that Nolan’s numbers in A-ball weren’t worlds better, and you understand why the organization doesn’t feel the need to rush Jonah.
#38: Kelvin Beltre, 2B/SS, Age 19: The Giants signed him for $650k in 2013 in their most notable IFA contract that year. He’s not a big kid, but his bat speed gives him some nice power potential for his frame. Most reports I’ve seen mention him as a better fit for 3B than SS, but the Giants have played him primarily at 2B so far as I can tell.
After spending his first summer in the DSL, the Giants brought him stateside that fall for instructs. There were some rumors last spring that he was in contention for an Opening Day assignment in Augusta, which would have been a huge development in the organization. He wasn’t healthy, however, and would play in only 14 AZL games all season. At this point in his young career, injuries and spotty play have been the overriding themes. Until he gets some significant playing time, I can’t rank him much higher than this… but there’s certainly the potential for more.
#39: Mike Broadway, RHP, Age 28: The Giants signed the hard-throwing veteran righty as a minor league free agent in 2014. In 2015, Broadway’s stuff was so tantalizing, he was the talk of Sacramento all season. In the couple games I saw him live, his fastball was consistently 95-98, and his slider was nearly unhittable for PCL opponents. In 40 AAA appearances, he walked only 8 batters. Unfortunately, that success didn’t translate to success in the Majors, where he allowed 10 ER in 17 IP. Despite his age, I still have a hard time believing the 6-ft-5, 215 Broadway won’t find some MLB success down the road if the opportunity is right.
#40: Cody Hall, RHP, Age 28: Hall has been a grinder through the organization since the Giants drafted him out of Southern in 2011 (19th round), and he was finally rewarded for his efforts with a MLB call-up late in 2015. That opportunity was a bit overdue in my opinion, for a guy whose career minor league ERA is 2.62. He’s been a reliever from the start, but he’s also been successful at every stop in the organization (career 10.4 k/9). I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Hall, who sits low-90’s with his fastball, as a major leaguer. He’s currently still on the 40-man, and should be competing in Sacramento’s bullpen next spring for that first injury call-up.