Giants Trade Mella & Duvall for Mike Leake

Mike Leake, your newest SF Giant.
Mike Leake, your newest SF Giant.

Just when we started to wonder if the Giants were going to fall silent at the deadline (amid lots of promising dialogue from Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean & even Bruce Bochy), the talks heated up quickly last night and landed them Reds righty Mike Leake. Here are a few thoughts on the deal.

I absolutely love this deal for the Giants. No, Leake is not Cole Hamels, who the Giants apparently made a strong push for. No, Leake is not David Price, who realistically probably had very little chance of becoming a Giant anyway. To me though, Leake is a guy to get excited about in his own right. He’s a 6 year MLB vet and he’s only 27. How many players can you say that about? Sure, he’s technically a rental player, but we’ve heard all about him growing up a Giants fan, and Baggs made it pretty apparent the Giants have wanted him for a while. If Leake has success over the next two months in San Francisco (I believe he will), it seems very realistic to me that he’ll be a Giant for the next 5 years.

I said last week this season reminded me of 2012 in that the Giants seemed a a piece short of having a very good club (they needed a hitter in 2012, starting pitcher this year). I suggested Jeff Samardzija, a solid player who’d never earned a long-term contract, as a possible trade-and-extend candidate. Turns out Mike Leake was the guy, and I’d love it if he decided to stay with us for a while.

A couple more notes on Leake. He’s a sinkerballer who should give the Giants gold-glove caliber infield plenty of opportunities to show off. His numbers don’t jump out at you at first glance, but you have to remember he’s spent his whole career in the most lively yard outside of Colorado. This season alone, he’s a 2.28 pitcher on the road, as opposed to 4.93 at home. Think he’s excited about coming to AT&T Park? He’s durable, he’s consistent, and he was good enough that he didn’t spend a SINGLE DAY in the minors. He was a top 10 pick and an absolute legend at Arizona State. Oh, and he can hit! Yeah, I guess you could say I’m excited to bring him in.

The Giants parted with Keury Mella and Adam Duvall, and I’ve seen some frustration about giving up Mella. As someone who’s followed (and really liked) Mella since his first days coming over from the DSL, I’ll give you my take. I think Mella is a solid prospect. If I hadn’t been so high on Kyle Crick last year, I would have rated Mella #1 in the system, just as did a few days ago.

To me, Mella is not the top prospect in this system at this point, despite what people read online. It’s obvious the Giants value Tyler Beede higher, and I wager they put guys like Christian Arroyo and Mac Williamson right up there as untouchable types for them as well. Would I have rather seen another pitcher dealt than Mella? Of course. Mella is an MLB arm. He always has been for me. But his delivery isn’t clean, he’s had some shoulder scares, and his results have been a bit inconsistent for someone with a 96 mph sinker in A-ball. I wish him well, but I can’t confidently project him as a pitcher who will have a better career than Mike Leake at this point.

A few people have suggested to me that Adam Duvall should have started for the Giants. I don’t see it that way. They definitely gave him an opportunity to show what he could do as a 3B (a very quick look, no doubt), but they decided he wasn’t fit to play the position. So he’s purely a 1B in their eyes. While he just may have more raw power than Brandon Belt, his defense and ability to put the ball in play certainly can’t match up to Belt. Personally, I’m surprised the Reds took Duvall in this deal, as they’ve already got franchise players at both infield corners.

If Duvall can find a way to get some playing time in Cincy, he should love hitting in that park. I saw his power firsthand just two nights ago, and it’s real. I would love to see him get a chance to DH for a rebuilding AL club, but for now he’ll try to catch on with the Reds. There were no plans for him in SF, so hopefully this move is better for him in the long run.

Again, I really love this deal for the Giants, who have made so many “ho-hum” deadline deals that have turned to gold in the past few years. Despite Leake not being in the same class as Price & Hamels, I think his impact on this club could be tremendous over the next couple months. I’m thrilled Evans bolstered the rotation, and I can’t wait for Leake to put the jersey on. Obviously I wish Mella and Duvall all the best.

Thanks for reading, and go Giants!

4/5 MiLB Wrap: Strong Debut for Mella

Another night, another impressive performance for a starting pitcher in the Giants’ system. With four extremely talented international pitchers making their debut for a new club yesterday, it was Augusta righty Keury Mella who came away turning heads. Mella, the 20 year-old Dominican whose name really started getting some press this winter, tossed 5 solid innings in the Greenjackets’ 6-3 win over Charleston.

Last night’s start was Mella’s first for a full-season affiliate, and as always Augusta beat writer David Lee had a solid recap of the outing. According to Lee, Mella’s heavy fastball ran 91-94 (with more 94’s than 91’s). Lee actually described that fastball as having the weight of “a gazillion bowling balls.” I’d say that’s pretty heavy! The kid also showed a changeup and breaking ball, both with plus potential according to Lee. You can read the full recap here.

Personally, I became an instant fan of Mella’s game after watching that clip of him during the instructional league this winter. That’s all it took. Apparently, Lee was in the same boat after seeing 5 innings last night, saying, “Baseball Prospectus labeled Mella a No. 2 ceiling, and I might be crazy to go along with it after seeing him one time, but I’m willing to take that risk. This kid seems to be the real deal.”

Mella Final Line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Video Courtesy of Giant Potential

Pitching Roundup:

Mella wasn’t the only high upside Giants pitcher to make his debut yesterday. In San Jose, towering Joan Gregorio was impressive in 4 innings of work, throwing a 92-94 fastball and a sharp slider. He didn’t allow a run, and was likely pulled for pitch count reasons.

Gregorio Line: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Lefty Adalberto Mejia made his first start for AA Richmond yesterday, allowing 3 ER in 5 IP. Mejia, the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League, was putting 96’s on the stadium radar gun, according to Squirrels’ media man Jon Laaser (that’s pronounced LAZER). Maybe that gun in New Britain was a little hot, but either way, Mejia was bringing some heat yesterday! The 6-foot-3 lefty came out for the 6th inning, where he allowed 2 of his 3 ER and didn’t record an out.

Mejia Line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

The fourth and final performance of the night belonged to Edwin Escobar, whose initial AAA outing didn’t fare so well. Pitching in Las Vegas, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minors, Esky was tagged for 5 R (4 ER) and 10 H during 4.2 IP. It’s no secret that the PCL can be one of the most difficult leagues for a young pitcher to adjust to, especially when coming directly from the Eastern League. I think Escobar will be fine, but he’s likely not going to be pitching shutouts every time out.

Escobar Line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 4 K

Video Courtesy of Nathaniel Stoltz

I promise, we’re going to spend some more time focusing on hitters in the organization as the season goes on. But right now, there are so many big name pitchers making their respective debuts, it’s hard not to focus on them. Some of the noteworthy offensive performances from Giants prospects last night include Andrew Susac, who remains red-hot after driving in the go-ahead runs in the 9th for Fresno last night. The catcher is hitting .583 in his first 3 games. Jarrett Parker had another big day for Richmond, tallying 4 hits and a HR. Parker’s hitting .615 early, and you have to wonder if he’ll be promoted to Fresno when Mac Williamson moves up from San Jose.

Angel Villalona hit his first HR of the season for Richmond yesterday, while a host of other hitters contributed to the Squirrels’ 13-3 win. In Augusta, Randy Ortiz was 2-4 with a 3B. Ortiz is a pretty unknown guy, so I’m hoping to get a little more information on him in the near future. Tyler Horan had a 2-hit game for the Greenjackets as well.

Finally, if you’re a subscriber to, you’ll be able to catch Kyle Crick’s first start for Richmond this morning. That game starts at 10:35 AM on the west coast. I’ll tell you, I purchased that package last year, and really didn’t use it as much as I’d have liked. With all the talented pitching in the organization this season, I had to buy it again. It’s $50 for the season or $12.99 monthly, and I think any Giants minor league fan would get their money’s worth this season.

Richmond and Augusta still don’t have home video broadcasts (how is that possible in 2014?), but other teams in their respective leagues do. Richmond’s 4-game series against New Britain this week has been broadcast, and I believe Augusta has some games that’ll be available later in the month. It looks like all of Fresno’s games this month can be watched, and San Jose has a video feed for all of its home games. In other words, lots of opportunities to watch the organization’s top prospects this year!

Cove Chatter 100: #10

Keury Mella | RHP, 20 yo, 6-2, 200 | IFA 2011 DR | (AZL) 10 G, 9 GS, 36 IP, 2.25 ERA, 8.5 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 10.2 K/9

Mella was a Dominican signee a couple of years ago, and is still very much an under the radar prospect. That should change in the very near future, as his stuff is about as good as anyone’s in the organization. A fastball that sits 92-95 and a sharp-breaking slider have me believing he could make an Adalberto Mejia-type ascent up the ladder, and soon. If the Giants take the training wheels off him this year, don’t be surprised to see him in my top 5 come midseason.

They said it: “…he projected to be a power arm and has already added velocity…has pumped his fastball up to 95. He also has a good curveball that helps him miss bats. He needs to bring along his changeup…showed good feel for pitching last year.” ~ Ben Badler, Baseball America

Mella Video:


(Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Prospects in the Press

We’ve got some news on the prospect front for the first time in a while. Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus posted video from a recent instructional league game between the Giants and A’s. Originally he posted four clips; pitchers Kyle Crick and Keury Mella, and hitters Angel Villalona and Ryder Jones. Later, Cole snuck in a one-inning stint from 3rd round pick Chase Johnson. If you haven’t seen these, I’ll link them here. I definitely recommend checking them out… All are high-quality, HD clips that get right in behind home plate. Pretty sweet views of each pitcher’s breaking pitches!

Crick Video

Mella Video

Johnson Video

Jones Video

Villalona Video

My take: The pitchers were a bit more exciting, as you might have guessed. Pitching is the cream of the crop in this franchise! Crick’s video is the longest, as he throws a few innings. He’s a bit wild at first, surrendering walks and a couple of base hits in the first inning. He settled in pretty nicely in the following frames, and was consistently 94-96 with his fastball. I don’t know about you, but I just love this guy. Do me a favor: watch the Crick video again, then watch this clip of another pitcher the Giants developed a few years back. See any similarities? Pretty awesome stuff if you ask me.

I think Mella’s video was my favorite, and I’ve watched it over a few times. This kid is highly, highly underrated in my opinion. I don’t think it’ll be that way for much longer, though. Look at that frame! Abbreviated windup (a little like David Price), fastball at 93-95, and a filthy breaking ball! Gives up a base hit to the first hitter, then absolutely makes the second guy (Higley) look silly on three pitches. He’d work through the second inning without allowing a baserunner, recording a few K’s in the process. This video was an eye-opener for me, as I still knew relatively little about this kid. Let’s just say he’ll get a nice bump up my offseason rankings. He’s got a long way to go, but that fastball looks goooood going forward. What other starting pitcher in the system throws that hard?

Johnson pitched an inning, losing a long battle with Oakland’s 1st rounder Billy McKinney. McKinney took the walk after spoiling some 3-2 pitches, and the next batter hit an RBI triple to left center. Looked like the CF had trouble getting the ball in, but it was crushed either way. Still, Johnson worked 91-94 with the fastball, and even hit 95 once from what I remember. His breaking ball is a big, over the top curve. Had a little trouble controlling it. The changeup is low 80’s, making for a very nice change of pace from his fastball. You know, for a guy whose 3rd round draft spot prompted some questions in June, Johnson is starting to get some hype at the national level all of a sudden. Baseball America ranked him the #8 player in the NWL in its offseason top 20 list last week. He was the only Salem-Keizer player to make the list, in fact. It’ll be interesting to see what the Giants do with him next year. Augusta? San Jose? Starter? Reliever? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Jones and Villalona’s videos were a little uneventful. I can’t, however, get over how big Angel V. is. He is a serious bopper, and he’s headed to the AFL to put his bat to the test. It looked like he got into one pretty good during this game, but you couldn’t see where the ball landed. Could have been a routine base hit, but I got the impression it was a very long single. Either way, this kid looks like he’s got major league power. Does he have major league contact?

Hopefully Cole will get the chance to shoot a few more Giants before instructional league ends. Those were a lot of fun to check out!

Finally, the Cal League top 20 was released by Baseball America today, and the Giants ran away with it. Crick came it at #3 behind A’s phenom Addison Russell and Rockies hurler Eddie Butler (although has Crick #42 in its updated top 100; Butler was ranked in the 80’s). Delino Deshields and Austin Hedges got the 4 and 5 spots, with our own Edwin “Esky” Escobar sliding in at #6. Who came in at #10, you ask? Well, that would be none other than Adalberto Mejia, lefty extraordinaire. Three Giants pitchers in the top 10 gives you a pretty good idea that we fans aren’t the only ones taking notice of these arms anymore. Pretty exciting stuff.

On the back end, Ty Blach came in at #15, Mac Williamson at 18, and Clayton Blackburn rounded it out at 20. Six Giants in the top 20, impressive. I think what surprised me the most here was Blackburn getting the lowest spot among this group. Many in the Giants fan base (myself included) believe Blackburn is a top 5 prospect in the system. Hell, you could make the argument that he’s #2 or 3. So I think this list gives us a pretty good idea about how the rest of the world looks at these pitchers. Also great to see Mac make the list as well, although I don’t know how he could have been left off. He fell a tick short of .300 on the season. Otherwise, his offensive numbers were very, very impressive. This is the cream of the crop in the system, ladies and gents, and they’re moving up to Richmond next year. Escobar may be moving to Fresno… as Sabean says, AA is the true test, not Fresno.

A quick recap on those BA rankings. As Giants affiliates go, I think the Eastern League and PCL are the only leagues that haven’t had top 20’s announced. Not sure if we’ll see anyone from the organization make either of those lists. Panik and Susac probably have the best shot for the EL. Maybe Heath Hembree gets a spot in the PCL 20? 10 Gigantes farmhands have made it onto their respective BA lists. The super 6 in the Cal, Chase Johnson in the NWL, and 3 more from the AZL. Christian Arroyo at #2, Mella at #14, Ryder Jones at #19. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s your 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks all on the top 20 lists for their summer leagues. All of this from a Giants draft class that got laughed off the field by the national pundits in June. Interesting stuff.

That was a lot, but many good things going on in the depths of the Giants system these days. I have a feeling we’ll see a couple more of these kids crack the preseason top 100, but that’s still a long way off. For now, enjoy those videos, and we’ll catch up on the prospect front again soon as the AFL season gets rolling.


(Conner Penfold/Giant Potential)

Org Pitching: The Rookies

As I said in a recent post, almost every player on a rookie league team is an unknown. Rather than listing every pitcher and his stats here, we’ll just highlight a handful of guys from the American (Arizona League) rookie team, as well as a few from the Dominican Summer League squad.

AZL Giants:

Keury Mella – R (20): 2.25 era, 36 ip, 10.5 h/9, 2.8 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – Dominican righty has a good build, an above average fastball, and the highest upside on the staff. Very underrated prospect who should get the bump to full-season ball next year.

Luis Ysla – L (21): 2.65 era, 51 ip, 6.7 h/9, 2.3 bb/9, 9.2 k/9 – Arguably the staff ace for the juggernaut AZL Giants. First-year pro out of Venezuela, and very unknown. Moving up to Augusta next year?

Dylan Brooks – R (18): 6.14 era, 7.1 ip, 7.4 k/9, 13.5 bb/9, 9.8 k/9 – 6-foot-7, 230-pound Canadian was drafted in the 30th round out of high school this season. One of the youngest players on the team. Electric, but very raw stuff.

DJ Snelten – L (21): 1.57 era, 34.1 ip, 7.1 h/9, 3.4 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – 9th round selection in this year’s draft. Was a top 150 prospect in BA’s pre-draft ranking, so the Giants may have gotten a nice steal. Throws mid-90’s from left side.

Nick Jones – L (21): 1.93 era, 18.2 ip, 4.3 h/9, 4.3 bb/9, 8.7 k/9 – 14th round pick this summer. 6-6, 220-pound juco lefty. Closed out a couple of games for the young Giants.

Luis Pino – R (18): 3.94 era, 29.2 ip, 9.1 h/9, 5.5 bb/9, 7.9 k/9 – Mexican righty spent last summer in DSL, this summer in AZL. BB rates climbed a bit, but he’s holding his own for a young kid.

Carlos Diaz – L (19): 4.99 era, 39.2 ip, 9.8 h/9, 4.8 bb/9, 11.6 k/9 – Colombian lefty posted very respectable numbers during 2 seasons in DSL. Impressive 51 K’s in 39 IP for AZL team this summer. Slender build, but another baby to keep an eye on.

Eury Sanchez – R (20): 1.12 era, 16 ip, 6.8 h/9, 2.2 bb/9, 14.6 k/9 – Between DSL (’12) and AZL (’13), he owns a 1.19 era and 14 saves in 45.1 ip. Smaller at 5-10, 175, but career 12.3 k/9 shows he’s got something hitters can’t handle.

Nick Gonzalez – L (21): 1.04 era, 17.1 ip, 3.1 h/9, 1.6 bb/9, 8.8 k/9 – USF (South Florida) lefty was a 24th round pick in June. Probably should have been in S-K, but the numbers are still very impressive in a small sample size. Another lefty with size.

Rayan Hernandez – R (17): 8.31 era, 8.2 ip, 14.5 h/9, 6.2 bb/9, 8.3 k/9 – Youngest pitcher on the staff, 34th round pick out of Puerto Rico. He’s a large kid (6-4, 230). Appeared in 9 contests without much success this summer.

Overview: This is only part of the crew that breezed through the AZL with ease this summer, en route to a shutout of the Dodgers for a championship. Performance-wise, Ysla was the rotation ace. Stuff-wise, Mella sounds like he has the highest upside. Those two should be in Augusta next year, but the Giants aren’t always the most aggressive with pitcher placement, so don’t be too shocked to see Ysla sitting out until summer ball. You can rank the rest of these guys how you see fit. There’s high school draft picks, college lefties, international babies… and a ton of height. Snelten could be a big sleeper if he continues to work as a starter next season. Hernandez is very young, and very large. Some of these kiddos won’t ever see AA, but maybe some make it to the show. You never know at this level.

DSL Giants

Michael Santos – R (18): 2.75 era, 19.2 ip, 8.2 h/9, 2.7 bb/9, 8.2 k/9 – 6-foot-4 with high upside signed for $250k in 2012. Made 4 starts this June before getting shut down the rest of the season. Scouts like his fastball/curve combination.

Jose Morel – R (19): 1.22 era, 59 ip, 7.3 h/9, 0.9 bb/9, 8.4 k/9 – Repeat performer in the DSL. Worked as a swing-man this year, pitching 3 or 4 innings at a time. Last appearance was only start of the year: 7 ip, 2 h, 0 er, 0 bb, 7 k. Hmmm…

Reymi Rodriguez – R (19): 1.36 era, 46.1 ip, 4.7 h/9, 4.5 bb/9, 9.5 k/9 – Pitched primarily out of the bullpen in debut season. Numbers seem to indicate he’s got electric stuff.

Luis Castillo – R (20): 20 sv, 0.64 era, 28.1 ip, 4.8 h/9, 1.0 bb/9, 10.8 k/9 – Oldest pitcher on the staff, and a repeat performer in the league. Impressive numbers nonetheless.

Eusebio Encarnacion – R (19): 1.72 era, 68 ip, 7.4 h/9, 1.6 bb/9, 6.5 k/9 – Debut season. Slender build, but put together a nice campaign as a starter. Impressive control numbers.

Jonathan Loaisiga – R (18): 2.75 era, 68.2 ip, 7.9 h/9, 2.1 bb/9, 5.2 k/9 – Unknown? His height and weight aren’t even listed on the roster! Don’t know how to pronounce the name, but a very good debut summer, albeit with very low strikeout totals.

Raffi Vizcaino – R (17): 3.80 era, 47.1 ip, 8.7 h/9, 3.2 bb/9, 7.8 k/9 – Youngest pitcher on the team. Saw his best (5 ip, 2 h, 0 er, 10 k) and worst (4.1 ip, 12 h, 8 er) performances in his last two outings of the season.

Overview: Other than the big-bonus righty Santos at the top, there’s really no way to rank these guys. Most of them have good enough numbers to earn a trip to Arizona next summer, I would think. Morel’s 2-hitter over 7 innings in his final appearance looks good. Castillo has the best numbers, by far, but he’s also one of the older guys on the team… how much that matters is up to you. If we’re going by physical attributes, I’ll take Rodriguez, whose numbers look very enticing. Remember, this team went 45-22 this year, so there’s definitely some talent overseas. Call me a year from now, and I’m sure a couple of these guys won’t even be making a dent. Maybe we get a couple of AZL breakouts in the group next summer, too?

Giants are Champs

Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue? The only thing is, these champs play in Scottsdale, not San Francisco, and they earned their crown of the Arizona Rookie League by shutting out the Dodgers… how sweet it is. The game story from MiLB is here, with a big picture of winning pitcher Keury Mella to boot. Mella, the 20 year-old righty with a big fastball, tossed 5 shutout innings. College lefty Nick Gonzalez struck out 6 over the final four innings, and the “juggernaut” Giants finished what they started back in June. Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones and Christian Paulino were all 2-4 at the dish.

I’ll keep the rest of this pretty brief, but I thought the MiLB article was very interesting. You don’t get a lot of AZL coverage in general, and the quotes from skipper Nestor Rojas (Manager of the Year) about his 18 year-old league MVP Arroyo are promising. People are starting to throw the word “special” around with this kid… after initially scratching my head at the pick (and probably reading too much into pre-draft scouting reports), I’m very excited to see him move to full-season ball next year.

Yes, I realize that rookie ball titles are nothing to get worked up about, and most of the guys on this team won’t even make it to Fresno. But when the varsity team is in the tank, tell me you don’t at least take a longer look at the freshmen squad that’s blowing out the competition. And I think you get an idea about some of the talent the Giants pulled from the lower (and upper) rounds of the draft this year. This team was led by recent draft picks, and most of its top hitters (Arroyo, Jones, Joneswhy Fargas) aren’t even 20 years old.

All of these kids may be many years away from helping a big league club, but I’ll give this caveat: I moved from California to Billings, MT in 2009. Billings is a rookie league town, home to the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League (a Cincinnati affiliate). In my first four summers here, I watched defensive wizard Didi Gregorius (’09), burner Billy Hamilton (’10), strikeout artist Tony Cingrani (’11), and a Bay Area hurler named Robert Stephenson (’12). As of today, three of those four are in the show, and Stephenson has already moved to AA. So I won’t discount the performances of guys like Christian Arroyo and Luis Ysla this year, because you just never know.

Ryder  Jones