Cove Chatter 100 Honorable Mention: The Righties

Luis Pino | RHP, 18 yo, 6-0, 275 | IFA 2011 MX | (AZL) 14 G, 6 GS, 29.2 IP, 3.94 ERA, 30 H, 18 BB, 26 K

Pino is a young, slender righty who the Giants signed out of Mexico a couple years ago. There’s almost no information about him out there at this point, but he’s held his own in the rookie leagues as a very young player. His K/BB rates lead me to believe he may have above average stuff, but doesn’t always know where it’s going.

Chris Johnson | RHP, 22 yo, 6-4, 205 | 2012 Draft – 17 | (A-) 15 GS, 83 IP, 2.49 ERA, 65 H, 8 BB, 78 K

2012 pick from the U. of Portland got his second shot at Salem-Keizer this summer, and posted pretty dominant numbers, including a 0.88 WHIP and a staggering 78k/8bb. He looks like he short-arms the ball a bit, but he should take his low-90’s fastball and four pitch mix to Augusta next year.

Johnson Video:

Jose Casilla | RHP, 24 yo, 6-1, 210 | IFA 2006 DR | (A+) 43 G, 67 IP, 3.22 ERA, 74 H, 13 BB, 48 K

Santiago’s brother missed 2012 with TJ surgery, but showed solid command in San Jose this season. He had a breakout season as Augusta’s closer in 2011 with a mid-90’s fastball prior to his injury, so his 2014 placement could be worth following if he can dial the heat up again.

Cameron McVey | RHP, 25 yo, 6-5, 205 | 2011 Draft – 22 | (A-) 22 G, 42.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 34 H, 14 BB, 48 K

McVey was a standout closer for NAIA Biola U. in Southern California before the Giants picked him in the 2011 draft. He’s one of the older guys on this list, and doesn’t have much pro experience, but he’s a big-bodied reliever with a low-90’s fastball that’s performed pretty well in limited work as a professional reliever.

McVey Article:

Jacob Dunnington | RHP, 23 yo, 6-2, 160 | UFA 2009 | (AAA, A+, A) 14 G, 20 IP, 3.60 ERA, 17 H, 10 BB, 29 K

His name sounds familiar (don’t confuse him for Jake Dunning), but his profile is a bit of a mystery. Undrafted out of high school, he signed for $2,500 at 19 as a 150-lb twig and burst onto the scene in 2011 as one of Augusta’s top relievers. He’s got a live arm and a 95 mph heater that can rack up strikeouts in bunches. His 2013 season was a curious one, as injuries cost him most of the year. He’s still young though, and could be a nice breakout candidate in 2014 if he’s healthy.

Dunnington Article:

Eury Sanchez | RHP, 20 yo, 5-10, 170 | IFA 2011 DR | (AZL) 14 G, 7 SV, 16 IP, 1.12 ERA, 12 H, 4 BB, 26 K

Sanchez is smaller for a pitcher, but the 12.3 K/9 he’s posted in his first two seasons suggest he’s got some nice velocity in that right arm. He made his debut a year later than most DSL prospects, but he’s posted dominant numbers as a closer over two summers in rookie ball. He doesn’t have many professional innings to his name at this point, so the organization should increase his workload next season and see how he responds.

Raymundo Montero | RHP, 24 yo, 6-2, 185 | IFA 2007 DR | (A-) 25 G, 14 SV, 29.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 20 H, 7 BB, 43 K

He’s been in the organization for six years, so it’s time for him to get moving a bit if he wants to make it. His 2013 season as the closer in Salem-Keizer was pretty impressive, earning him NWL All-Star honors. Maybe we’ll finally get to see what he can do in full-season ball next year.

Jorge Bucardo | RHP, 24 yo, 6-4, 190 | UFA 2007 NIC | (A+, A) 32 G, 6 SV, 53.1 IP, 2.36 ERA, 39 H, 14 BB, 49 K

Nicaraguan righty was once a promising starting pitcher prospect in the organization. Shoulder injuries kept him out all of 2011, most of 2012, and again for a good chunk of 2013. When he was healthy, he spent most of this season in Augusta’s bullpen. Don’t know if he’ll ever be a starter again, but maybe the Giants will give him a shot in San Jose next year… if he can stay on the field.

Bucardo Article:

Chris Heston | RHP, 25 yo, 6-4, 185 | 2009 Draft – 12 | (AAA) 19 GS, 108.2 IP, 5.80 ERA, 129 H, 46 BB, 97 K

Finesse righty had a pretty impressive minor league career prior to this season. He was supposed to be one of the first pitchers the Giants called upon for help in 2013, but his season in Fresno was a mess from the start. He was taken off the 40-man roster and actually cleared waivers, so I’d say his stock makes Gary Brown look like gold at this point. He’s still a talented pitcher though, but he needs a bounce back effort big time next year. It’s a long way from AAA to the Show.

Heston Video:


Org Pitching: Salem-Keizer

Dan Slania – R (21): 3.95 era, 13.2 ip, 8.6 h/9, 2.0 bb/9, 9.2 k/9 – 5th round pick from Notre Dame this year. Big body (6-5, 255), hard thrower. Nice fastball-slider combination. Maybe San Jose next year?

Eduardo (EJ) Enicinosa – R (22): 3.12 era, 17.1 ip, 4.2 h/9, 5.2 bb/9, 10.9 k/9 – Giants took him with 7th pick in 2012. Another 6-foot-5 bullpen power arm with control issues. Why is he only pitching sparingly in short-season ball?

Chase Johnson – R (21): 3.88 era, 46.1 ip, 8.0 h/9, 2.5 bb/9, 8.5 k/9 – First pitcher taken in the 2013 draft. Former Cal Poly closer, now a starter. Low to mid-90’s sinking fastball.

Cameron McVey – R (24): 3.19 era, 42.1 ip, 7.2 h/9, 3.0 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – 3rd 6-foot-5 righty bullpen arm on this list. 22nd round pick last year out of tiny Biola (CA) College. Should help form a strong pen in Augusta next year.

Nick Vander Tuig – R (21): 11.70 era, 10.0 ip, 17.1 h/9, 3.6 bb/9, 9.0 k/9 – 6th round pick, led UCLA to CWS title this summer. Low 90’s fastball with great control. Definitely a sleeper.

Pat Young – R (21): 1.22 era, 44.1 ip, 6.1 h/9, 2.0 bb/9, 6.5 k/9 – 6-foot-5 starter from Villanova has been a nice surprise in S-K this summer. 13th round pick with a funky, but deceptive delivery.

Christian Jones – L (22): 2.84 era, 19.0 ip, 8.1 h/9, 1.5 bb/9, 8.5 k/9 – Oregon lefty was 18th round pick in June. Sturdy frame. Giants loaded up on relievers in this draft.

Tyler Rogers – R (22): 2.30 era, 27.1 ip, 7.2 h/9, 4.0 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – 10th round pick this season. College senior with good size. Signed for $7.5k. Off to a surprisingly good start to pro career.

Chris Johnson – R (22): 2.49 era, 83.0 ip, 7.0 h/9, 0.9 bb/9, 8.5 k/9 – Repeat performer in the NWL. Much better numbers this time around, with only 8 BB in 83 IP.

Andrew Leenhouts – L (23): 2.39 era, 71.2 ip, 8.5 h/9, 1.8 bb/9, 6.7 k/9 – Crafty lefty with sub-90’s velocity. 23rd round pick last season, leads the Volcanoes in wins this year.

Overview: It is my opinion that the Giants had a very good draft this summer, and I think we’ve already seen some proof of that in the 2nd half of the season. The high school picks have led the AZL team to a dominant championship this summer, while Salem-Keizer’s been no slouch in the NWL. All of the pitchers on this list were drafted either this year or last, and they make up a quite unheralded, but strong staff.

While the starting pitching has been good all summer, it’s the bullpen arms that are likely to be the quick movers in this system. Slania is a monster who brings the heat, and there were talks of the Giants making him a starter when they took him in the 5th round in June’s draft. Looks like the front office is satisfied with him out of the pen for now. He might make some top 20 Giants’ lists this winter. Encinosa and McVey are high-upside guys who I’ve spotted on a few lists already. McVey is a little older, but he’s only in his second pro season. Encinosa is closer material, but he hasn’t logged many innings this year. I’m not sure why.

Jones and Rogers are the other relievers on this list. Jones is a 6-foot-3 lefty from the University of Oregon (and a NorCal kid from Danville) who missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Once a top of the rotation starter with electric stuff, he worked almost exclusively out of the pen this spring in Eugene. If he can stay healthy, maybe the Giants give him another chance to start down the road.

Rogers, the Giants’ 10th round pick, signed for $7,500, obviously well below the slot value for a pick that high. I really don’t know what kind of stuff he offers, but he’s a 6-foot-5 kid who’s pitched very well in his 27.1 innings out of the pen this summer.

The rest of these guys make up the team’s starting rotation, and I have included them because each has seen some form of success in his their short professional careers. All 5 are college draft picks. Chase Johnson is the highest drafted (although his 3rd round selection was seen as a reach by many) of the group. He’s a former closer who the Giants are trying in a starting role.

To me, Chase has the most upside of the S-K rotation, although Vander Tuig might turn out to be the steady big league starter of the group. The UCLA ace was impressive in this year’s College World Series. If you saw his title clinching performance against Mississippi State, you know how dominant he was. 8 shutout innings in the biggest game of your career? I’ll take that guy on my team any day.

Vander Tuig hasn’t done well in his short stint as a professional (which included a spot start in San Jose), but it’s likely that his arm was pretty worn out after the college postseason. Either way, he’s a polished pitcher with great command, and I still think he could be the one from this group to bypass Augusta and start in San Jose next year.

Of course, Chase Johnson and Vander Tuig could turn out to be busts or organizational fillers. You never know, and that’s just the nature of the game. But those two will likely garner the most buzz from this crop of starters. The other three guys all have one thing in common: size. Young is 6-foot-5, Chris Johnson is 6-4, and Leenhouts is 6-3. Leenhouts and Johnson are second-year pros who have been steady members of the S-K rotation all summer. Johnson’s k/bb ratio of 78/8 is impressive, while the crafty lefty Leenhouts posted a 2.39 ERA in his 71 IP. Young is a product of the 2013 draft, and has only allowed 4 ER in 8 starts with the Volcanoes. He’s a lanky guy with a funky delivery, but he’s been impressive in his short time as a pro.