The Giants Augusta affiliate announced their roster yesterday (April 4th). Here's the link to the newspaper article:
As you can see, the star power is going to be way down in Augusta this summer. While last year's squad had such well-known and highly-rated prospects as Zack Wheeler, Tommy Joseph, Jorge Bucardo, Jose Casilla, Chris Dominguez, and Hector Sanchez, this year the only names that jump out at you at first glance are Seth Rosin and RafRod.
The most interesting thing to me is the make up of the pitching staff. Undrafted free agents Jacob Dunnington and Justin Schumer both received huge votes of confidence in only their 2nd pro seasons (and first full seasons). Dunnington dominated the AZL out of the bullpen in 2010, holding opponents to a batting average of .109 and strikiing out more than 14 hitters per 9 inninngs over 17 games and 29 innings. Here's the whole pitching staff, including the year that they signed their first pro contract:
Andrew Bowlin RHP 23rd round, 2007
Edward Concepcion RHP NDFA, 2006
Jacob Dunnington RHP NDFA, 2009
Edwin Escobar LHP NDFA, 2008
Austin Fleet RHP 16th round, 2010
Matthew Graham RHP 6th round, 2009
Stephen Harrold RHP 12th round, 2010
Mario Rodriguez LHP NDFA, 2006
Taylor Rogers RHP 25th round, 2009
Seth Rosin RHP 4th round, 2010
Shawn Sanford RHP 13th round, 2009
Gaspar Santiago LHP 28th round, 2010
Justin Schumer RHP NDFA, 2010
I think that Bowlin, Concepcion, Rodriguez, Sanford, and Santiago will almost certainly be in the bullpen - based on their past experience and future prospect status. The obvious starters in this group are Seth Rosin, Edwin Escobar, and Austin Fleet. That leaves at least 2, but most likely 3, spots in the starting rotation up for grabs between 5 guys - Dunnington, Harrold, Mathew Graham, Schumer, and Taylor Rogers.
The Giants paid Graham a lot of money when he signed out of high school back in 2009, so I think he'll be getting another shot to start this year. He had horrible mechanics, command and control, and stats in 2010. He began the season in Salem as a starter, was quickly demoted to the bullpen, and then demoted back to Scottsdale and the AZL to pitch sparingly. Hopefully, he's been perfecting his mechanics and learning how to pitch between last September and now.
Rogers had a mediocre, at best, season as a starter for Salem in 2009. He should have been able to do much better, based on his age (23) and the fact that he was in his 2nd pro season pitching against mostly inexperienced players. He's a perfect example of roster filler at this point in his career, and I hope that they don't burn a starting spot on him.
Harrold is the most advanced, and best, pitcher of this group of 5 at this point. I really like his future as a major league bullpen asset for the Giants. Reportedly he has a plus slider, so he could be another Sergio Romo type releiver. I believe that the Giants also see Harrold's future to be a closer/setup man out of the pen. If I'm wrong, then Harrold will be a starter, and Dunnington will be the closer.
Dunnington is the main pitcher that really intrigues me. He's still young enough (he just turned 20 in February), and is still so new to pitching full-time (only since August 2009), that he has a great potential. I would love to see the Giants throw him into the starting rotation this year to force him to stretch himself out and learn to depend more on his secondary pitches to complement the above-average 91-94 mph fastball that he featured last year.
Schumer was a late signee in the summer of 2010. He didn't impress any team enough for them to draft him out of UNC-Asheville in June 2010, but the Giants saw him pitching against the candidates for the USA team that was preparing for the World Baseball Classic later last summer and signed him to a FA contract. He pitched well in Scottsdale and was quickly promoted to Salem. He's a finesse pitcher who depends on inducing groundballs. He started 5 games (and came out of the pen in 4 other games) in 2010 and compiled the following hope-inducing stats:
BAA=.196, GO/AO=3.64, ERA=1.00
If I'm reading the tea leaves correctly, I predict that Augusta will start the season with the following 6 man rotation (not in this exact order):
Rosin, Escobar, Fleet, Schumer, Graham, and Dunnington