Top 30 Prospects, Part IV: 11-15

If you're really dogmatic about your rankings, here's the segment that will give you a ton to complain about...

15. Aaron King – LHP

King is 20, he’s a left-handed starter, and he can reach 95 MPH with his fastball. He didn’t have gaudy strikeout numbers in low-A, and his mechanics frighten some folks.

When ranking prospects, a good way to decide whom to rank on top is to think about a hypothetical trade – would you trade #15 for a player just like #16?, for example. The back-half of a list like this is littered with raffle tickets. All things being equal, I prefer my raffle tickets to be left-handed starters who can reach 95 MPH with their fastballs while putting up respectable numbers in a league they aren’t too old for.

That whole 95 MPH is a bit of a red herring; King is usually closer to 90/91 MPH with his fastball. And he’s wild as all heck – along with the 4.5 walks per nine innings, he plunked 10 batters and threw 12 wild pitches. But he’s a youngish prospect, and I’ll take my chances that the Giants can make the same tweaks to King that they did with another raw, hard-throwing lefty.

14. Jorge Bucardo - RHP

Bucardo gets groundballs, he has good command for a teenager, and while he isn’t a flamethrower just yet (high-80s/low-90s), he should add more as he fills out. Well, I don’t know that. It’s just what I’ve heard around the water cooler. I mean, I didn’t add velocity when I filled out. The years of bourbon and cheesecake kind of settled in a thick paste around my midsection, and I’m pretty sure my fastball can’t crack 80 MPH these days.

I probably overrate pitchers who show good command in leagues they’re a little young for. In retrospect, Jerome Williams probably wasn’t the bestest prospect who ever prospected, especially since he was always supposed to add velocity but didn’t. But velocity junkies probably underrate pitchers like Bucardo. If the lower end of his ceiling is a sinker/slider/control pitcher with a two-seamer in the high-80s, he’ll still have a good chance to help a major league club. I’ll take the over on that projection, and predict that Bucardo does add a little velocity, for no other reason than I want him to.

13. Eric Surkamp – LHP

This is probably more of a crazy overranking that King was, actually, even though Surkamp had prettier stats. Surkamp was among the minor league leaders for K/9 among starting pitchers, a gaudy 11.6, and he was only 21 years old, which isn’t out of place at all in low-A. If he threw in the low/mid-90s instead of 86-88 MPH, he’d be a top-100 prospect in baseball!

Also, if I could bend the laws of physics with my mind, I probably would be a top-100 prospect in baseball too. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.

So, fine, Surkamp doesn’t throw especially hard, and he’ll likely have a tough time as he moves up the ladder, maybe aping the Pat Misch career path. But until that happens, I’ll overrate Surkamp’s K-inducing curve, I’ll ignore that he’s a fly ball pitcher, and I’ll note that the bottom of FanGraphs’ velocity rankings have lefties who are still quite successful.

Yeah, this is probably ten spots too high. But it worked out so well for Ben Snyder.

12. Francisco Peguero – OF

The Pablo Sandoval comparisons are cute – both are free swingers who play the game with a boyish glee – until you realize that Sandoval is less than two years older than Peguero. The Giants are really excited about Peguero, which doesn’t mean that much to me. They probably don’t care that Peguero isn’t walking at all – "when you hit .350, why do you need to take a walk?" –they probably don’t think that his age has anything to do with how he’s expected to develop (he’s 21, which is appropriate for low-A, but not unusual), and they surely have no concept of Peguero’s BABIP of .400 being a red flag.

But John Sickels and Baseball America – and anyone who watches Peguero, really – have respect for his tools.

 

Yep. Bunch of tools. So against my better judgment, he’s up high on the list. If he can’t learn to take a pitch, he’ll be in the minors for a while. Just kidding. If he hits an empty .300 with a .310 on-base percentage, he’ll be leading off for the Giants in 2012. That’s the Giants Way.

11. Ehire Adrianza – SS

Some people love him, some people aren’t nearly as impressed. But if we live in a world in which Jack Wilson’s defense combines with a career .268/.310/.374 line to form an underpaid asset, I’ll focus on Adrianza’s positives more than his negatives.

He can play a mean shortstop. So could Brian Bocock, of course, so it takes more than just a glove to be a prospect. But Adrianza’s offense gets a little bit of a bad rap. A 19-year-old who shows good plate control in the Sally isn’t anything to dismiss. He wasn’t a walking machine, but he held his own, and he didn’t strike out a ton. The lack of power is disconcerting, but he’s still young and thin. He’ll never be a guy who hits double digits in homers with regularity, but he’s a shortstop. If he can walk a little, hit enough doubles to keep the defense honest, and play superior defense, he’ll be a very valuable asset.

In a perfect world, he’ll grow up to be Asdrubal Cabrera, though Cabrera was already showing more power at this stage. In the imperfect world in which we live, Adrianza is more likely to be a backup, glove-only bench guy. But he’s young enough to hope for a little more.

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