Cove Chatter 100: #27

Dan Slania | RHP, 21 yo, 6-5, 275 | 2013 Draft – 5 | (A-) 12 G, 13.2 IP, 3.95 ERA, 8.6 H/9, 2.0 BB/9, 9.2 K/9

Another arm from the 2013 draft, Slania was the second pitcher taken by the Giants last summer. He’s a big, big righty out of Notre Dame, where he was used strictly as a reliever in three seasons. He was one of the top closers in the country the last couple years, saving 13 games each in his sophomore and junior campaigns. Big Dan combines a power fastball and slider with excellent command, but it sounds like he might have a starter’s arsenal of pitches in his belt. His collegiate workload increased pretty significantly in 2013 (59 IP in 24 appearances), and there was even talk on draft day of the Giants stretching him out as a starter. That didn’t come to fruition in his brief professional action last summer, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out going forward. If the Giants decide to keep him in the bullpen, he’ll add another name to the growing list of exciting power righties in the organization.

They said it: “From a scouting perspective, Slania is one of the top relief pitchers in all of college baseball. His fastball touches 95 and his power slider sits in the low-mid 80s…the numbers that speak the most for him are his numbers in the Cape during the summer of 2012, specifically his 48 strikeouts to just four walks.” ~ College Baseball Daily

Slania video:

Notre Dame Profile:

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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.

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Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (31-35)

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-UCLA vs Arizona

#31. Tyler Hollick – OF, 20 yo, SS-A: Canadian-born, 14th round pick out of junior college in ’12. He hit .301 with 21 steals in 2012 AZL, and is off to a fast start in Salem-Keizer this summer. Has blazing speed and gap power. Definitely could move up this list.

#32. Kendry Flores – RHP, 21 yo, Lo-A: Minor league vet at age 21 (signed at 17), solid numbers in first year of full-season ball. Career bb/9 of 2.3 in 287 innings pitched.

#33. Nick Vander Tuig – RHP, 22 yo: 6th round pick. Very unfamiliar with this kid before his clutch performance in the CWS clincher last night – 8 innings of shutout ball to win a championship.  He’s not a big guy and doesn’t throw very hard, but he has great command and he’s got quite a resume coming out of UCLA. He’s also from NorCal and a big Giants fan! I think he could be a real sleeper in this system.

#34. Ehire Adrianza – SS, 23 yo, AA: He’s been in the org. since ’06 and he’s still only 23. Elite defense, but really hasn’t ever hit. Was once a top prospect in the organization.

#35. Dan Slania – RHP, 21 yo: 5th round pick this year, big, hard-throwing closer from Notre Dame. Should fit right in with the other talented bullpen arms in the system.