Who is the #2 prospect behind Matt Cain?
    Merkin Valdez
    Marcus Sanders
    Eddy Martinez-Esteve
    Nate Scheirholtz
    Travis Ishikawa
    Kevin Frandsen
    other
      
    Free polls from Pollhost.com

AVG......Brian Horowitz (.349)
2B.......Eddy Martinez-Esteve (44)
3B.......Clay Timpner (12)
HR.......Todd Linden (30)
RBI......Mike Cervenak (103) SB.......Marcus Sanders (57)
OBP......Todd Linden (.437)
SLG......Todd linden (.682)
ERA......Dave McKae (2.42)
W........Broshuis/Floyd/Salankey (12)
K........Matt Cain (176)
SV.......Bateman/Wilson (21)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Organizational Preview

See the complete article from minorleaguebaseball.com

Five faves

Merkin Valdez, RHP
Valdez has been dangling a carrot in front of the Giants since they acquired him from Atlanta in the Russ Ortiz deal. He's got unlimited potential and has shown big, bold flashes of the form the club hopes will lead him to be a front-end starter someday. He's coming off some elbow problems at the end of last season and has been inconsistent with his off-speed offerings in the past. The stars are almost aligned with Valdez, who was 5-6 with a 3.53 ERA at Double-A Norwich last year. He'll see if he can bring them all together this season in the Pacific Coast League. "He's done very well this spring, we're very pleased," Hiatt said. "We haven't defined a role for him yet, so his future is up in the air. He can start, but he's doing so well in short relief for the Major League club, which has been very satisfying."

Kevin Frandsen, IF
The 12th-rounder out of San Jose State (2004) grew up in the shadow of Candlestick Park and his impending arrival in San Francisco would make for one heck of a feel-good story. He made three stops in '05, going coast to coast and back, starting in the California League, heading to Connecticut to play in the Eastern League, then finishing up with Fresno in the Pacific Coast League. He hit .335 along the way and even found time to make a stop for the Futures Game in Detroit. Frandsen also played in the Arizona Fall League, giving the Giants their money's worth last year. A scrappy player if there ever was one, don't be surprised if he sneaks off the Fresno roster and onto San Francisco's early this season. "He's an outstanding young player and though he's primarily a second baseman, he's been taking grounders at other positions," Hiatt said. "He has great gifts and he's a gamer with a very good bat. He's done very well this spring. I assume he'll start in Fresno, but we'll see how things work out. We're grooming him for the big leagues and one day he'll be there."
Kevin Frandsen hits a three-run HR for Norwich
Frandsen with a two-run blast for Mesa

Brian Wilson, RHP
The Giants gambled on Wilson making a full recovery after Tommy John surgery, drafting him shortly after he went under the knife in 2003. It paid off as the 24th-round pick from Louisiana State proved to be a force as he continued his comeback in '05. Though he was a starter in college, Wilson spent last season in the 'pen as he worked his way back, appearing in 50 games and tossing 60 innings at three levels. He was 6-2 with a 1.35 ERA, had 21 saves and didn't allow a home run. He's got a plus fastball and a solid curve and changeup, and could jump onto the San Francisco staff quickly, though some more seasoning at Fresno might be in order. "[Vice President of Player Personnel and former Major Leaguer] Dick Tidrow moved him from the starting rotation into the pen for short relief and he waltzed his way through the system last year," Hiatt said. "He's aggressive and he throws strikes, and we're pleased to have him. His arm scared some people away but we knew he'd come back, and by golly, we got fortunate to have a real good young arm."
Brian Wilson closes out the SAL ASG

Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF
This Florida State product can hit, there's no doubting that. He collected 17 homers and 94 RBIs last season in the California League and is ready to take on the best the Eastern League has to offer. There have been questions about his defense, though, and whether or not he can handle playing every day in the outfield. He's had a few injury setbacks (shoulder and hamstrings) that have hampered his ability on the field. Martinez-Esteve will get some new life in the infield -- though he's pedestrian the Giants are hoping he may adapt well to first base.
Eddy Martinez-Esteve with a solo HR for San Jose

Nate Schierholtz, OF
With a name like that, he should have gone to the Braves. The Giants are thankful they have him, though, after grabbing him in the second round of the 2003 draft. He's made a steady ascent through San Francisco's system, putting up big numbers last season for San Jose of the California League. Schierholtz hit .319 (sixth in the league) with 15 homers, 86 RBIs and 160 hits (tied for fourth on the circuit). He was also tied for the lead in outfield assists (15), despite it being his first full season in right field after moving from third base. "Nate has a beautiful swing and is a gifted hitter with power," Hiatt said. "He's a line-drive type of hitter, and he has a better-than-average throwing arm."
Nate Schierholtz hammers a solo shot

Others to watch include: Marcus Sanders, IF; Fred Lewis, OF; Dan Ortmeier, OF; Jeremy Acardo, RHP; Brian Anderson, RHP; Clay Timpner, OF
Dan Ortmeier lines a double for Norwich
Clay Timpner homers on his 5-for-7 day vs. High Desert

Cinderella stories

Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Sandoval won't turn 20 until August but began to show flashes of brilliance last season at Salem-Keizer after two seasons of playing Rookie ball. He hit .330 in 75 games while driving in 50 runs. His strikeout-to-walk ratio (33:21) was also better than you would expect from someone so young. Though he hit only three homers, the Giants are counting on him reaching double digits in that department. He figures to develop more as a third baseman, last season being his first at the position. We'll see how he fares in Class A this season.

Jon Sanchez, LHP
A 27th-round pick in 2004, this former NAIA star had 166 strikeouts in 126 innings last season for Augusta. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and he has a fluid, effortless delivery. "Jon was one of the premier pitchers in the Sally League last season," Hiatt said. "He's a willowy left-hander with an explosive arm and a great breaking ball. The ball just explodes. This young man is on a quick trip to the big leagues. He's needs a little better command and some more experience. So far, though, he's been a sensation in Major League camp."

Primed for breakout

Travis Ishikawa, 1B
Some might categorize Ishikawa's 2005 season as a breakout year. After all, he did hit .282 and post career highs in homers (22) and RBIs (79). But he was on a successful team in the hitter-friendly California League, so a truer test of his ability will come this year when he starts out in the Double-A Eastern League, a circuit know for strong pitching, some cold early-season games and a spacious home park. The Giants expect Ishikawa to handle Double-A with aplomb, and if he does, this will be a much bigger breakout season than the one he experienced in '05.
Travis Ishikawa cranks a two-run homer

2005 Draft recap

1. Ben Copeland, OF
.315 BA, .372 OBP, .514 SLG

The Giants' first selection in the draft didn't come until the 132nd pick in the fourth round but that didn't seem to stop them from landing a productive player. Copeland led the Big East -- not traditionally a college baseball powerhouse conference -- in many offensive categories and set several school records at Pittsburgh. He hit five homers and drove in 37 runs in 181 at-bats last season, splitting time between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He's a slightly better than average outfielder, committing two errors in 67 chances overall, having played mostly center field in the Arizona League before spending the bulk of his time in left upon his promotion. "He did an excellent job for us last year and he knows how to hit," Hiatt said. "In fact, recently in an intra-squad game [Noah] Lowry came over to pitch from the Major League team and Ben got the only two hits off him. He's a good-looking kid."
Ben Copeland belts a three-run HR for Salem-Keizer

2. Daniel Griffin, RHP
3-2, 1.99 ERA, 49 2/3 IP, 42 H, 18 BB, 69 K

At 6-foot-7, Griffin is certainly impressive and imposing on the mound. He led the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.8) at Niagara and continued to flash that power upon turning pro. His fastball touches the mid-90s and he has a promising curveball. With all pitchers his size, though, mechanics can become an issue. Once he figures out how to get all the parts in proper working order, he should move quickly.

Predictions

Organizational MVP: Grit counts as much as anything else, and Kevin Frandsen certainly has grit. He's a jack-of-all-trades who seems to get better each time he takes the field, so it's not a stretch to assume he'll take this honor as well.

Best pitcher: Wins won't tell the whole story this season. Saves will factor into this decision, and that's why Brian Wilson gets the nod. The intriguing right-hander had such a dominating season in 2005 that we're anxious to see how he tops it in '06. Here's to thinking he will.

Get a load of these guys: The Giants will have some fine clubs in their system this season, but it would appear that Connecticut (formerly the Norwich Navigators) in the Double-A Eastern League will have the edge, at least for now and on paper. With all the talent that helped San Jose win a California League title last year moving up a level, the Eastern League had better beware the Defenders.

Big things are coming for: David Maroul, the 23rd pick out of Texas. Maroul had an impressive yet relatively unscrutinized debut last season after helping the Longhorns win the College World Series, where he was named Outstanding Player. He combined to hit .275 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 204 at-bats between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He's outstanding defensively and will garner a great deal more attention this year.

Quotable

Hiatt on Ishikawa:

"Our Double-A park [Thomas Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Ct.] is not hitter-friendly. It's one of the biggest baseball parks in America. So if you're a 22- to 30-home run guy like Travis Ishikawa, then you probably won't reach that in that park. But there are other parks in the Eastern League where he will have his good luck, but home games will be difficult to hit home runs. It does have an impact on young hitters, but it doesn't bother us. It only helps the player use the whole diamond and cut down on strikeouts. So far, though, he's done an excellent job."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

No-No!

Remember this date--Friday, March 10, 2006. On this day Giants prospect Shairon Martis threw the first ever no-hitter in World Baseball Classic history. Yeah, that is a short history, but it speaks volumes about Martis' advanced stuff and make-up at the age of 18. He didn't even need a single strikeout while leading Netherlands over Panama 10-0. Martis showed he can keep the ball on the ground with fastball location accompanied by a good sinker/slider combo.


Dr. B had this to say about his #8 prospect:
8. Shairon Martis (RHP). DOB 03-30-1987 6'1", 175 lbs.
2-1, 1.85, 34 IP, 50 K, 9 BB!! for AZL Giants. Mid 90's fastball with advanced secondary stuff and command. Barring injury, this kid is going to move up fast. Since we have a paucity of "sure thing" prospects, I see no reason not to get out in front of a kid with this upside.
Martis had this to say about his accomplishment:
"I feel very proud," Martis said. "Words cannot express what I feel."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lewis Ready to Break Out?

A pessimistic look at Fred Lewis would be to say, while he has the tools, his skills fall short. Lewis attempted to change his approach in 2005. He wanted to drive the ball with more authority after being told last spring by Felipe Alou that big leaguers get paid to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Some detractors even suggested Lewis' early minor league success getting on base was by accident.

For an optimistic fan, Lewis still has upside and at 25 has time to realize it, finishing the 2005 season strong in a tough league for hitters. It looks as if the organization's 5th rated prospect (as ranked by Dr. B) will get all the time he needs to figure things out. He'll try again in 2006, most likely with the triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.

Rich draper finds what the Giants and Lewis himself have to say at sfgiants.com...

"He got off to one of the worst starts of any of our Minor League guys," said Mariano. "Dick Tidrow [VP of player personnel] had me go there to work with him. We made some adjustments with his hands he had gotten away from."

The tweaking -- Lewis moved his hands farther and higher from his body -- didn't take long, and in the warm weather the left-hander began hammering the ball.

"He caught fire and hit some balls harder than I've seen in 25 years," said Mariano. "He was playing like a big leaguer for 16 straight days and got his confidence going."

Lewis raised his average 47 points over the final months, finishing with a respectable .273 mark and a career-high 47 RBIs.

This spring, Freddie has been looking strong and drawing raves from Giants observers. He admits he's a different player from a few years ago.

"I feel, when I first got here, I wasn't ready at this level," said Lewis, a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., in his third San Francisco camp. "I know in my heart I'm ready to play here, but it's not up to me. I haven't faced big-league pitching that much, but I'm looking to get my chance, get my feet wet, and show them what I've got."

Now on the Giants' 40-man roster, Lewis led his teams in runs and stolen bases each of his first three pro years and was second for Norwich in 2005.

"I feel I've learned the game more," Lewis said, "and I'm still learning about hitting and running, knowing when to move the runner over, which base to throw to from the outfield.

"Right now, I'm on an all-time high. There's no pressure here and I'm more relaxed than ever. I was afraid of some guys at first, but I'm adjusting."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Big Year for Valdez in '06

Chris Haft of the San Jose Mercury News chimes in from Scottsdale about Merkin Valdez and his big year coming in 2006. It's amazing Valdez is still only 24 years old. With his stuff, you have to be excited to see him put it all together. He'll be a starter in AAA this year, unless he makes the big club, which is a long shot. His long term outlook is still probably as a late-inning releiver.

"Merkin Valdez has reached the stage where his production must begin to match his potential.

Greatness has been predicted for Valdez since the Giants obtained him and left-hander Damian Moss for right-hander Russ Ortiz in December 2002. Although Ortiz won 77 games in five seasons for the Giants, Valdez, with his breathtaking fastball, seemed capable of more.

Valdez remains the organization's most tantalizing pitching prospect. Yet it's worth remembering that Baseball America, the industry's arbiter of minor league talent, ranked Valdez ahead of Matt Cain as the Giants' top prospect as recently as 2004...

...A long shot to make the Giants' opening-day roster, Valdez likely will begin the season in Triple-A Fresno's rotation. At 24, he still has time to fulfill his promise.

``It's going to be a good year to push him and evaluate him,'' Giants Manager Felipe Alou said.

Moreover, the success of contemporaries such as Cain and Noah Lowry, 25, motivates Valdez to follow their path. ``It's something exciting,'' Valdez said. ``I'm young, too.''

Valdez is also far from polished. After six seasons in the minors, he still lacks ideal control of his fastball, which travels in the mid-90 mph range. Nor has he refined his off-speed pitches, such as his change-up. ``Sometimes it's up, you know?'' Valdez said.

With his gangly 6-foot-3, 220-pound stature, Valdez has struggled to maintain a consistent pitching delivery, the source of many of his flaws. ``There's always a tweak for him to get him right,'' Tidrow said."

Full article from the Merc...

John Manuel Q&A

In the most recent "Ask BA" article, John Manuel hits on Giants propsects like Matt Cain, Marcus Sanders and Kevin Frandsen. He is especially high on Sanders--Baseball America's #2 prospect in the organization.



"Q: Chris from San Carlos, CA asks:
OK, clearly you don't rate Billingsley that far ahead of Cain, but Cain put up his number in the tough PCL and the majors where Billingsley was in AA. Verlander was in AA, had to be shut down before the end of the season, and wasn't as dominant as he should have been in college. Cain hasn't had arm problems since 2003, and has gained a lot of muscle since that time. Sure you guys don't want to rethink that? As always, these chats are the best part of Baseball America. Well, aside from the prospect book.
A:

John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words on the chats and the Handbook. It's splitting hairs Chris. I've ranked Giants prospects for three straight years so I know Cain actually better than the other guys. It depends on the day of the week, really, between Billingsley and Verlander for me. Cain is third, just a slight step behind, because I'm just not as confident in his fastball command and overall control. He was only five walks away from leading the PCL in that department; he'd rank first if he had half that many walks, but that's a concern for me.


Q: Alex from San Francisco, CA asks:
Who's the Giants 2B of the future? Sanders or Frandsen? It seems to me that Frandsen hits too well to be a utility man. Would Frandsen's presence increase the chances of Sanders getting moved to the OF?
A:

John Manuel: I almost hate to say it, but Frandsen has to do it again to completely prove to me he's more than a utility guy. If he does and establishes himself, then yes, Sanders could very well move to CF. That might have to happen anywhere; of course, the Giants hold out hope that this second arm surgery for Sanders helps him stay at SS, making this discussion moot.


Q: Rowdy Hardy from Clarksville, TN asks:
Who would consider the best base stealer in the minors? Anyone to challenge Ricky Henderson's records in near or distant future?
A:

John Manuel: Marcus Sanders is my pick, speed with savvy and the boldness to steal a lot of bases. But no one's touching Rickey's 130 or career mark in the near future, not that I can see, people just don't play that way anymore and Rickey was a very unique player.


Q: Ian from Illadelph asks:
Please justify Marcus Sanders over Dustin Pedroia. My BA subscription renewal rests upon your answer. The clock is ticking...
A:

John Manuel: That's a ceiling deal, and I like Pedroia a lot. I consider Sanders the best leadoff hitter in the minors--a line-drive bat, ability to take a walk and game-changing speed combined with baserunning savvy. Just harder to find than Pedroia's tools, and that's even with Pedroia's tools playing up because of his outstanding makeup, drive and desire."


Full article can be found here...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jon Sickels Top 20

This list from is promising. If Sickels' projections are accurate, the Giants should have some solid depth coming from within in the coming years.

"SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS TOP 20 PROSPECTS

  1. Matt Cain, RHP, Grade A-
  2. Marcus Sanders, 2B, Grade B+
  3. Merkin Valdez, RHP, B+
  4. Eddy Martinez-Esteve, "OF," B+
  5. Travis Ishikawa, 1B, B
  6. Nate Schierholtz, OF, B
  7. Jonathan Sanchez, LHP, B
  8. Kevin Frandsen, 3B, B
  9. Dan Griffin, RHP, B-
  10. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, B-
  11. Shairon Martis, RHP, B-
  12. Freddy Lewis, OF, C+
  13. Waldis Joaquin, RHP, C+
  14. Ben Copeland, OF, C+
  15. Jeremy Accardo, RHP, C+
  16. Jon Coutlangus, LHP, C+
  17. Dan Ortmeier, OF, C+
  18. Brian Horwitz, OF, C+
  19. Brian Wilson, RHP, C+
  20. Ben Nieto, LHP, C+

I have to say that this list surprises me. . .it's a lot better than I thought. Either the Giants have a better farm system than they are given credit for, or I gave out too many Grade C+ ratings and some of those guys should be just plain C..."

Read More from minorleagueball.com

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ODB All-Prospect Team



On Deck Baseaball has released their All-Prospect teams. They seem to be pretty high on a lot of the younger players. Guys like Shairon Martis and Craig Whitaker make the first-team ahead of AAA prospects Jeremy Accardo and Brian Wilson. ODB also gives the nod to lesser-named players who performed and put up numbers to those who have the tools.

Click here to find more ratings on the Giants organization, including the 4th and 5th teamers, from On Deck Baseball.

1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team
-----------------------------------------------------------
1B Travis Ishikawa Will Thompson Chad Santos
2B Kevin Frandsen Mark Minicozzi Aaron Hornostaj
3B Pablo Sandoval Brian Buscher Simon Klink
SS Marcus Sanders Angel Chavez Sharlon Schoop
OF E. Martinez-Esteve Fred Lewis Ariel Nunez
OF Dan Ortmeier Ben Copeland Clay Timpner
OF Nate Schierholtz Brian Horwitz John Bowker
C Justin Knoedler Eliezer Alfonzo Brian Munhall
SP Matt Cain Pat Misch Sergio Romo
SP Merkin Valdez Ryan Sadowski Garrett Broshuis
SP Daniel Griffin Ben Nieto Joe Martinez
SP Jonathan Sanchez Kelvin Pichardo Mike Musgrave
SP Jesus Reina Nick Pereira Juan Serrato
RP Shairon Martis Jeremy Accardo Brian Wilson
RP Craig Whitaker Waldis Joaquin Brian Anderson


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Draper Answers Q's on Prospects



In his latest mailbag article, Rich Draper talks Matt Cain, the wave of position players to come and Spring Training. He also briefly touches on Kevin Frandsen and the possibilty he makes the Giants in a reserve role.

I think its premature to start talking about Frandsen making an impact in 2006. He had a heckuva run last season, but lets cool it just a little. Let him get his proper seasoning in Fresno before tossing him in the show just because he's the best option. If he's tearing up the PCL at mid-season then maybe we can talk. Do you think Brian Sabian will really go into the season with only Jose Vizcaino and a rookie to backup 2B/SS/3B?

"Cain definitely could reach the 15-win mark ... but no pressure, Matt. Manager Felipe Alou calls the 21-year-old pitcher "the real deal -- a special phenom. He's a fearless guy with tremendous stuff, with tremendous [poise] at such a tender age." The kid is solidly built, has strong legs, good mechanics and is a smart guy who is able to adjust. Imagine last season, when he baffled batters with his fastball, a pitch most veterans can kill. Cain will be fun to watch."
"There are few openings on the roster, but expect Angel Chavez and Kevin Frandsen to be among candidates for a bench role. Chavez, by the way, has decided not to play for his native Panama in the World Baseball Classic and will report early to Spring Training to improve his chances of making the team."


Read full article...