Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (36-40)

*Click on the player’s name to see his MiLB profile.

#36. Chris Marlowe – RHP, 23 yo, Hi-A: Throws the best curveball in the Giants’ system, but needs to lower his walk rate. After a hard luck season in Low A, he opened 2013 in San Jose with a 1.95 ERA through 7 starts before an injury. Currently on a rehab assignment.

#37. Tyler Mizenko – RHP, 23 yo, Lo-A: 28th round pick in ’12 has outperformed expectations by a wide margin so far, locking down 30 saves with a 1.26 ERA between S-K and Augusta. He’s allowed 2 ER through 32 innings this year!

#38. Ricky Oropesa – 1B, 23 yo, AA: Toolsy 3rd round pick in ’11 out of USC. Very good defender who needs to cut down the K’s and make more contact if he wants to be a big leaguer.

#39. Leonardo Fuentes – OF, 20 yo, AZL: Colombian born, big bodied (6-4, 215) outfielder signed in ’09.  Has not played above rookie ball, but he’s got loads of talent. Maybe he gets it going this summer?

#40. Chuckie Jones – OF, 20 yo, Lo-A: Taken in the 7th round of ’10 out of high school, Jones may be the biggest project in the system. But he’s built like Yasiel Puig, and if he ever puts all of his tools together, he could be special. I’m not counting on it.

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Trusting the Brass

Losing five out of six to last-place clubs will put a team and its fan base in a sour mood, and that’s exactly what has happened after the Giants dropped below .500 for the first time since they started the season 0-1. On the field, the Giants have been injury-riddled and mired in slumps. Off of it, there have been a bevy of trade talks, and we’re still a month from the trade deadline.

Brian Sabean recently shed light on these topics, and in the process showed why the Giants are one of the most successful franchises in the game these days. You can read Andy Baggarly’s recap of the GM’s comments here, but here are the main points: The Giants know their weaknesses right now, but will not rush to make a desperation trade. They likely will make some moves eventually, but they’d rather take on salary than send prospects when that happens. Until then, they trust the current roster to step up and play competitive baseball.

On the minor league front, Sabean did reveal the organization’s feelings about two of their top prospects – Gary Brown and Heath Hembree – saying that neither will be moving from Fresno until they show some consistent play (which dispatches my theory of calling up Brown to replace Angel Pagan). Now it’ll be interesting to see if either of the two players are part of a trade.

Sabean’s comments were well-timed, and should be reassuring to the loyal Giants followers out there. Despite the pressure to win, the brass will stick to their plan in building this team. Now it is up to the fan base to trust that brass going forward.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (A Preview)

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The Giants have been a winning club for most of my lifetime, and I am very grateful for that. They weren’t very good when I was beginning college though, and for that I am also grateful. I was fresh out of high school when I discovered names like Noonan, Villalona, Alderson and Bumgarner. With those names came a whole new world of wonder for me, and I have been a minor league junkie ever since. Although I sift through the box scores of each Giants affiliate every night and read countless prospect lists, I often have a very hard time creating my own rankings. I am not a scout, nor do I pretend to be. I base my list off of what I have read in scouting reports by others, as well as my own opinions of what makes a good baseball “prospect.” But the minor leagues are a passion of mine, and I have tried to put my best ranking together.

At this point, most baseball “experts” consider the Giants farm system to be one of the weakest. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but I don’t buy into this notion for one second. I will say, it is a very hard system to rank individual players, as there really aren’t any A+ level guys right now. However, it is not a system that lacks talent or depth. This system still excites me, and I will delve into my rankings through a series of posts to follow.

Round 2 for Kickham

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The Giants placed Chad Gaudin on the DL yesterday, as his banged-up elbow just wasn’t ready to go for tonight’s start in LA. Gaudin’s injury is another bummer for the Giants, but it is good news for one person: Mike Kickham.

Kickham was recalled from AAA Fresno for the second time this season after pitching all of 2.1 innings in Oakland in his MLB debut last month. He’ll start tonight against Stephen Fife, and likely again in homer-friendly Cincinnati next week. The 24-year old lefty is looking to show a little more this time, and honestly, he may very well be pitching for a spot in the rotation going forward.

I made a joke in a previous post about Kickham “looking good while he missed pitches off the outside corner” in his previous start. But really, I did think he showed flashes of electric stuff, especially with his sweeping slider. The A’s have a solid lineup, Kickham was obviously trying to be careful, and the Giants had a very short leash with him in his debut. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff, and if he can show a bit more confidence and locate his fastball this time around, he should pitch deeper into the game. 

I don’t think the Giants would be too upset if Kickham showed enough improvement to send Gaudin back to his spot in the bullpen. That would certainly solve one nagging team issue. So, for Mike Kickham, audition number 2 has come. Show us what you’ve got, kid.

Giants/Dodgers: Welcome to “Puig-a-mania”

The Giants hit the road (again) tonight to renew their National Puig West rivalry with the Victory Dodgers in LA.  The Dodgers were supposed to be one of the Puig’s best teams entering the season… that hasn’t happened. However, Yasiel Puig (pronounced Ya-seal Pweeg) has happened. In a first half that’s seen some pretty sweet call-ups (Gerrit Cole, Mike Zunino, Zack Wheeler, Wil Myers), Puig may be the most talented of them all. The only thing the talented Cuban outfielder hasn’t done on a diamond is snare a pitch from mid-air, toss the ball up to himself and club it 500 feet.

Seriously, it would behoove the Giants to keep Puig-a-mania under wraps, if at all possible. The Dodgers are playing better than their 32-42 record would let on, while the Giants haven’t exactly overcome their road woes. We’ll see some solid pitching matchups, with Bumgarner and Ryu going tonight and a Cy Young pitchoff of Lincecum and Kershaw in the series finale on Wednesday. There’s a very good chance Mike Kickham will return to make his second big league start tomorrow night in place of the banged-up Chad Gaudin. Kickham is probably a downgrade from Gaudin at this point, but he just looked so good missing pitches off the corner in Oakland, so this could be an entertaining series.  

Some positives for the Giants: Pablo is back at the hot corner tonight, and the Dodgers are still incredibly good at losing. I’m guessing we find a way to win this series.        

240 Words on Gary Brown

Gary Brown

Gary Brown hit another home run for the AAA Fresno Grizzlies tonight.  Yes, the same Gary Brown who hit .180 with 1 HR in April now has 10 long balls (7 this month), and has an OPS of 1.148 over his last 9 games.  Last season, Brown lost his status as an upper-level prospect in the eyes of many so-called prospect gurus (although many of us in Giants land didn’t think his season at AA Richmond was really that terrible).  By the end of his first month in Fresno, nearly everyone who’d stayed on his bandwagon had written him off.  Now, he’s red hot at the dish.  Brown’s always been known as a plus defender, but it’s his much-hyped speed on the bases that isn’t showing up this season (9-16 in SB attempts).

With Angel Pagan shelved for who knows how long, I couldn’t see how promoting Brown at this point would hurt a team who’s had its share of blunders in the outfield.  Juan Perez has provided a spark in only a handful of games since his promotion from Fresno, and I feel that Brown could do the same.  The Giants could send down one of their backup catchers, and essentially use a platoon of Blanco and Torres in left, Brown and Perez in center.  Crazy? Maybe, but I think the team could benefit from Brown’s speed, defense and pop.  Just something that crossed my mind.

Time to Wake Up (in 150 words)

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In a 162-game season, you can’t get too high or too low. The best teams don’t anyway.  But it’s hard to think the Giants aren’t a little let down after dropping 3 of 4 to the 50-loss Marlins…. at home! Mistakes on the bases helped kill most of the few offensive chances we had, and the bullpen has really been scuffling.  But I tell you what, I was very impressed with Miami’s pitching. I had no idea Nate Eovaldi threw that hard.  The Dodgers may regret giving him away in a couple years.  Regardless, you can’t lose 3 of 4 at home to a last place team, so maybe this stretch will wake up the troops on their way to Lala Land.  Wouldn’t this be a great time to beat up on the big (blue) spenders?!

Pablo’s back tomorrow night after slugging a couple homers down in San Jose. Time to wake up Giants.