Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Highlights from the Baseball America Giants Prospect Chat

Over at Baseball America today, the Giants Top Prospect list was officially announced (but you already knew that if you read here regularly) and the second part of their wall to wall coverage was a chat with Andy Baggarly.

There was lots of great information in the chat that I thought I would share. So here are some of the highlights, you can check out the full chat here (Subscription required):

Angel Villalona update:
Villalona is off MLB's restricted list and the Giants surprisingly added him to their 40-man roster because they had actual fears another club would snatch him up in the Rule 5 draft. He's working out at the Giants' camp in the Dominican and he's in the process of applying to get his U.S. work visa reinstated. The Giants say that won't be a problem and he'll be in big league camp this spring. We'll se about that. He hasn't played organized ball for two years. I'm told the bat speed is still there, but he's every bit as big a project as he was when he was signed for $2.1 million as a 16-year-old. 
I too was pretty surprised that he was added to the 40 man roster, I think it would have been a long shot that someone took a flier on him given how far away he is from the majors and how long he has been out of the game. It will be interesting where the Giants place him if he ever gets back to the United States.

Handling of Brandon Belt last season: 
No, it wasn't handled properly. Belt shouldn't have been on the opening day roster if they weren't willing to commit to him for longer than three weeks. But I do understand that the Giants were in crisis management mode all season, and they simply had to plug leaks with anyone who was available. I mean, the only player with enough PAs to qualify for the batting title was Aubrey Huff, and he hit .246. That's unbelievable. Belt benefited from playing in the Dominican this winter, although two scouts told me his at-bats didn't look so great. He'll need a big spring to win an everyday job with Huff and Nate Schierholtz the incumbents at first base and right field, and now Melky Cabrera in the outfield. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts at Triple-A.
That news shouldn't come as a surprise as even the Giants have admitted as much. What I am more interested in is how they handle him going forward. If he isn't going to start in the major leagues I will come to terms with him being sent to Triple-A but if he makes the team and then doesn't play... I don't think I could handle another season of that. He has the talent and the team believes that, at some point you have to just give him the at bats to prove it one way or another.

The Giants catching prospects:
Scouts tell me that Susac moves better behind the plate and has more overall hitting ability than Joseph. But Joseph really improved in all phases while catching some premium-velocity guys at San Jose. Joseph's age and power potential puts him in the lead, but don't be surprised if their rankings are reversed next season. That's how close 2-8 are in the Giants system.
With Hector Sanchez also in the top 10, the Giants seem to be pretty loaded with catching talent. That isn't a bad position to have stocked up. Personally I think I like Susac better but Joseph does have the light tower power that is hard to pass up. I wish these guys were in double-A or higher, because that seems to be where Giants hitting prospects go to die.

Where would Brett Pill fit in?:
Pill is in the 10-15 range, I think. He is a "break glass in case of emergency" option at second base.
I liked the break glass in case of emergency line, especially considering that the Giants will start Freddy Sanchez who I am pretty sure IS made of glass.

Who will try to fix Francisco Peguero's over aggressiveness: 
Well, I guess that's Steve Decker's job. He switched spots with hitting coordinator Bob Mariano, who will manage Triple-A Fresno. Decker believes in being aggressive at the plate and isn't known to preach taking walks. But nobody believes in swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. You're right, Peguero's on-base percentage is almost totally dependent on his ability to get hits. He'll need to address that soon.
Peguero has some nice tools but this has always been the sticking point for him, as it seems to be for far too many Giants prospects. This report on Decker doesn't exactly inspire confidence in turning him into a Barry Bonds style patient hitter but I surely hope that he can get him to take a few more pitches like Pablo Sandoval, who is still aggressive but at times has shown that he is willing to lay off a few pitches.

Again I encourage you to go read the whole chat and check out the other stuff that Baseball America has on the Giants farm system

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