Everybody loves a good lefty. The Giants have one of the best in young Madison Bumgarner, locked up tight for a good many years. In addition, the Giants have spent a lot of money in the past couple of years on Left Handed Relievers, re-signing both Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt to multi-year deals in the $5MM range, much to the dismay of roster/payroll juggling fans who want to turn that money into some offensive love. There is a sign that this lefty spending is excessive even for the pitching loving Gigantes Braintrust however, and it starts with the 2012 draft, where they took an unprecedented 9 lefty hurlers with the 32 picks they signed, and spent a full 25% of their draft action on lefties.
For comparison, they signed 7 of 8 in the 2011 draft, 3 of 5 in the 2010 draft, 2 of 4 in the 2009 draft and 5 of 7 in the 2008 draft. In that 2008 draft they took 4 lefties in a row early after getting Barr’s college hitters out of the way. In the 2007 draft they drafted 8 lefties, Bumgarner and Dan Runzler being the big names still with the Giants. In addition, once the Giants like a lefty, they put on the full court press. Alex Hinshaw is a famous name, but Ryan Verdugo was drafted twice, Andrew Barbosa was drafted three times (and finally stolen by the D-backs in the 2012 draft, blew through High-A and is striking out fools at a high rate in AA currently btw). Lesser known Ryan Bradley was drafted twice as well.
Lefties get all the chances. Currently 2008 pick Ari Ronick is still toiling away in the Eastern. Chris Gloor from 2009 got a chance in the AFL this offseason. Ryan Bradley and Jack Snodgrass are stretched out as starters for San Jose this year. Phil McCormick and Steven Neff put in big bullpen innings for SJ and Augusta. This current 2012 draft class toiled away in Arizona and S-K, with Andrew Leenhouts and Zach Edgington, 23rd and 34th round picks respectively, putting up pretty good K/BB ratios while getting stretched out for the first time. High profile 5th and 8th rounders Ty Blach and Joseph Kurrasch did not impress, with Blach getting shut down due to high innings count at Creighton and Kurrasch getting very limited exposure after his Penn State season. Both pitchers throw high 80s topping out at 90-91, they will be given opportunity to shine in the coming years as under the radar organization guys. In addition, Chris Fern, Randall Zeigler, and Chris Pickering will either be stretched out or put into pen roles next year.
Lots of lefties in the organization, I looked at 27 to make up a top nine for my organization depth list. DSL guys who might be showing up soon stateside include Diomedes Mateo, Carlos Diaz, and Emmanuel DeJesus. Mateo is old for the league at 23, but put up great numbers. Diaz is a young Columbian who has a nice frame at 6’2 175 who has missed bats and sports a nice K/BB ratio. DeJesus is a 6’1 18 year old with deceptive delivery and a high-80s arm with good pitchibility who has been used out of the pen in rookie ball. All 3 of these guys could get bigger roles next year along with promotions to higher levels of competition.
The nine lefties that stand out the most at the top of the depth chart are divided into four groups: Starters, Injury Wing, New Blood and the Joker in the Deck. The Starters are Mike Kickham, Edwin Escobar and Adalberto Mejia. The Injury Wing is Josh Osich, Bryce Bandilla and Eric Surkamp. The New Blood is hard throwing rookies Steven Okert and Mason McVay. And the Joker in the Deck is of course Dreamy Dan Runzler.
These names are all familiar to Gints prospect hounds, so I’m not going to go with many details. Kickham is definite top ten in the organization, a low 90s lefty with some command problems who profiles as a 4/5 guy as soon as next year is a valuable piece. The fact the Giants didn’t ship him off last year as Sabean trade bait speaks volumes to me as to how valuable he might be. Escobar is 20, he pitched very well at Augusta. Concerns might revolve around his 6’1 frame. He should be promoted to SJ next year where he will be looked at closely I’m sure. Mejia is 19, with a loose 6’3 frame and most likely projects better than Escobar as far as youth relative to league. The Giants may keep him in Augusta, or bring him along. He had a very good 2nd half and has slightly better velocity than Escobar. All 3 of these starters are great for depth. Personally I would give Escobar a slight advantage because of the side to side comparison in the Sally, but I can understand going with the youth. Both should flirt with the top fifteen and be ranked close to each other.
The injury guys are much more difficult to evaluate. Surkamp has to deal with TJ, he loses over a year of development right when he was looking to breath down Barry Zito’s long tossing neck. He didn’t even get the surgery until late July, meaning he won’t be doing serious pitching until 2014. That’s a big bummer. Until he makes it back, its pointless to rank him. Osich has tremendous sleeper potential, but has put further injuries on his jacket instead of busting out. News that he is comfortable as a reliever further drops his stock. It is hard to know how TJ recovery effects him at this point. He did not miss bats at a good rate for an advanced college pitcher in SJ, but he did have good K/BB ratios. With only 32 IP as a professional, its hard to get a grip on his status. I would say back towards the 20 spot. And then there is Bandilla, who has apparently always battled injuries to go along with his tremendous upside. The Giants appear to be trying him as a starter, where his value skyrockets. But injury concerns really put a dent in his potential. These 3 pitchers could really bolster the depth, especially Osich and Bandilla with mid 90s heat, but we might want to be realistic about the toll throwing that heat takes on their bodies.
Speaking of heat, there are 2 new draftees who can bring it into the mid 90s with ease. 4th round pick Steven Okert will be fasttracked to the pen. Hard to tell with 28 IP, his K/BB was 2 to 1 and H/IP was 1 to 1, but it is a small sample. 26th round pick Mason McVay is a giant 6’7 with an erratic reputation, but he had a good debut missing bats, over 3 to 1 K/BB and striking out 43 in 30 IP. Both these guys bring low to mid 90s heat and should be looked at closely. Personally I would rank them ahead of Osich and Bandilla because of the health. And finally, speaking of health, there is the joker in the deck! What will become of Dreamy Dan Runzler? He battled some injuries early in the season, and got a special exemption to go pitch the AFL. Is he finally healthy? Has he found the magic throw strikes potion? He flashes tremendous potential, but is a huge question mark. And he’s no longer a prospect, but not really a full blown major leaguer either. Joker, I says.
Anyways, as we wait around for something to happen on the hot stove, how about nine lefties from the 2013 draft? With the huge caveat that its way to early to really start ranking, here are 9 guys I found interesting. The Giants will pick somewhere in the mid-20s, but lets not forget due to the new CBA cutting out type B hijinx, they also will pick right around 60th as well! And again around 96! Yep, 3 top 100 picks coming down the pipe. That’s something to get excited about, even if they didn’t want to go grab another one by offering Angel Pagan the qualifying offer in case he walks, which he very likely will.
So here are nine Lefties looking to get drafted next year. There are six hyped HS guys, 2 guys from San Diego Stephen Gonsalves and Ian Clarkin. There is AJ Puk out of Iowa, Trey Ball out of Indiana, Jersey Boy Robert Kaminsky and Garrett Williams coming from the Bayou. All six will get first round consideration, and some will fall into the 2nd-3rd and head onto college. Of those guys, initially I like Kaminsky and Williams. Another HS guy I like who is not as hyped yet is Jonah Wesely.
On the college side, Sean Manaea tore up the Cape Cod and is almost guaranteed to go in the top 5. Marco Gonzales out of Gonzaga looks smooth and might be in play for Los Gigantes. I’m a sucker for Vandy guys, gotta throw down Kevin Ziomek.
Three lesser known lefties are as follows: Stephen Tarpley transferred out of USC to AZ JC so he can get drafted. Aaron Brown is an interesting guy out of Pepperdine, so lets throw some Noah Lowry love to him. Finally, I had a sleeper out of OSU last year named Matt Boyd who returned for his senior year, he might get to finally take the bump this year. Gotta hit him, he wears the Orange and Black already.
HIGH SCHOOL LEFTIES
Robert Kaminsky S/L 6’0/190 DOB: 09/02/94 Commit: UNC HS: St. Joseph Regional, NJ
Kaminsky has a fastball that gets into the low 90s, topping at 94, with some reports of further MPH heights that might be suspect. He has a hammer curveball that is lights out and is working on his change, and shows a willingness to work inside. That part is what gets my attention. He has deception in his delivery and he hides the ball well. That is the other factor that sets him apart. He puts up the video game numbers you want to see in HS: 3 no-hitters, 12 hits and 103 Ks in 53 IP last year. He’s a lefty, so you want to know the walks? 20. He is the NJ player of the year. Will he be underrated because of the North East baseball bias? Maybe. After Mike Trout, maybe a hyped guy will get that extra look.
Cons: He has little projection left in his 6’0 frame. His fastball might not have enough movement. He may be a stubborn lefty who doesn’t take to instruction.
Bonus Video: he talks! http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Baseball_Pitcher_of_the_Year__Rob_Kaminsky_St_Joseph.html
1st Round Consideration: High. I can see him going in the teens.
Garrett Williams L/L 6’2 195 DOB: 09/15/94 Commit: Oklahoma State. HS: Calvary Baptist, LA
Like Kaminsky, Williams pitched for Team USA. They won the 18U for the first time in a while. But it’s not his only claim to fame. http://www.freakonomics.com/2007/08/20/how-talented-is-this-kid/
Yup, he’s the kid from Lubbick, TX who struck out everybody in sight in the LLWS. He has an ideal pitchers frame, and further growth projection. He currently is touching low 90s, but any velocity gain along with third pitch development and he will skyrocket to top 10 consideration. Here’s why: like Kaminsky, he uses both sides of the plate. Unlike Kaminsky, he has good movement on his fastball. He also throws a good curve, 2 different variations for R/L hitters. If he can develop a change and gain some velocity, he will go big. Right now, he’s at the back end of the 50.
Cons: He’s skinny. He doesn’t have as much velocity as the other taller skinny guys who are ranked ahead of him. He is flirting with being a 2 way player, but Puk/Ball are way ahead of him on that front.
Comp/2nd round Consideration: Would most likely not drop to the 2nd round pick for the Giants.
Jonah Wesely L/L 6’3 215 DOB: 12/8/1994 Commit: UCLA HS: Tracy, CA
California Kid with a strong and solid build who is committed to powerhouse UCLA. Wesely throws 88-92, maybe a bit more with an above average curve and a developing change. He throws high ¾ arm slot and has a bulldog reputation. His fastball has late cutting action, and the curve is sharp. The best part is his delivery is nice and easy.
Cons: Not much projection left in his body. Strong commit to UCLA apparently. The lack of the refined 3rd pitch and the projection rap is holding him back from top status.
Bullpen Banter youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN9Mlq9fbnw
Comp/2nd Round Consideration: May be available but at the 2nd round pick would be a huge question based on his UCLA commitment/signability issues.
Sean Manaea L/L 6’5 215 DOB: 2/1/1992 Indiana State Junior, Never Drafted
Welcome to Unobtainium, this guy will go top 10 for sure, top 5 likely and might just be the first guy off the board, especially if teams start gaming the draft high up. Had the best summer on the cape of anybody, 85 Ks, 7 BBs in 52 IP. The best thing about him is he has a crazy easy delivery, velocity to spare and just looks awesome. This is my favorite player overall for 2013 I’ve seen so far mucking around with this. He’s a fastball, slider, change, the secondary stuff is raw at the moment. The fastball can touch 96. Here’s a video of him: http://mlbdrafstuff.blogspot.com/
Cons: Might not pitch against the sharpest competition in our fair country, skinny, needs to work on the secondary stuff. I think the easy delivery and mid 90s velocity overrides all that, and some team will get a nice pick.
Indiana State profile: http://www.gosycamores.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=15200&ATCLID=205082369
Top of the 1st Round, unless something goes haywire this spring.
Marco Gonzales L/L 6’1 185 DOB: 2/16/1992 Gonzaga Junior, Drafted COL 2010, 29th (890)
For all the flack Jeremy Affeldt gets in these parts, he needs some lefty love from his alma mater. Gonzales is a two way player who profiles better from the bump. He kicked it up a notch for Team USA, and brings advanced pitchability to the table. Yep, a college floor guy as opposed to the HS ceiling. He has a plus change up that coupled with his low 90s fastball and a slider will get him drafted early. I liked how he hid the ball and his delivery, he looked slick. Kind of like Noah Lowry slick. He is one of the best athletes in the draft, so that has to balance out against his projection issues.
Cons: He’s only 6’1, I’m sure that will be a knock. His body won’t project more. And he’s a college guy with a semi-bad birthday.
1st Round Potential: could definitely be in play for the Giants 1st round pick.
Kevin Ziomek R/L 6’3 200 DOB: 3/21/92 Vanderbilt Junior, Drafted AZ 2010, 13th (391)
Here is Ziomek’s P/G excerpt from June 2009: Projects very well, especially with further development of breaking stuff. Could explode by next June. Has early draft potential. Good student… I think that could be the exact same call. He has an unusual arm action, hard for me to describe, but it looks like a lot of effort. He put up nice numbers in the Cape in limited action. 28 IP, 38K/6BB and 22 hits. He throws a fastball, change and two breaking balls. His slider is the better of the two pitches. What is fun about this guy is you can look up what folks were saying about him 3 years ago. Here is the excellent John Klima on Ziomek, circa 2010: http://www.bbprospectreport.com/2009/12/16/kevin-ziomek-report
So Ziomek has gained 20 pounds, hopefully some muscle and is reportedly throwing abot the same velocity wise. He’s taken his knocks, not having a great sophomore year at Vandy. At a major program, he will get attention. Most likely he doesn’t profile as a top of the rotation guy, but there is definitely a lot of potential.
Cons: Arm action, college struggles, not the best velocity readings.
Vanderbilt profile: http://www.vucommodores.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/ziomek_kevin00.html
Comp/2nd round Consideration: Might be a nice look for the Giants 2nd round pick. But could easily be gone by then.
Stephen Tarpley R/L 6’1 185 DOB: 2/ 17/1993 Scottsdale CC Sophomore (Transfer from USC), Drafted CLE 2011, 8th Round
Tarpley left USC after a pretty nice freshman year as their Sunday starter. He goes high 80s with some touching the early 90s and a very good curve as well as a changeup. He seems to have a good feel for pitching, and is a good athlete. Here’s an Indians blog take on him after he was drafted out of HS: http://www.indiansprospectinsider.com/blog/2011-indians-8th-round-pick-lhp-stephen-tarpley-5865
I have a guess as to who his “associates” are, and I believe the plan is to get out into JC, carve everybody up and get drafted high in the 2013 instead of waiting around for 2014. Maybe there were troubles at USC, don’t know anything about that.
Cons: Competition will be one, limited projection will be another.
2nd-5th round Consideration: Who knows how high he will go, I bet he’s one of the most hyped JC guys in the draft, and he might be a great sleeper if he falls at all.
Aaron Brown L/L 6’1 220 DOB: 6/20/1992 Pepperdine D/E Sophomore, Drafted PIT 2011, 17th Round
Sleeper time! Brown pitched well in the Cape this summer, 25K/13BB in 21 IP but only 10 hits and a stellar 1.68 ERA. He is a two way player, also playing the OF. College baseball daily ranks him 96th in the country, and here is a write up and video:
Brown is a raw talent, most likely he won’t be taking the bump as a starter next year, but he just looks interesting to me, somebody to keep an eye on.
Cons: doesn’t start, isn’t on the radar to start, is most likely a hard sign as a soph.
Pepperdine profile: http://www.pepperdinesports.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/brown_aaron00.html
Top 300 Consideration: Maybe, but maybe not. If the Giants insist on drafting pitcher after pitcher, maybe getting a few that might have life as hitters would be a nice change of pace.
Matt Boyd L/L 6’3 215 DOB: 2/2/1991 Oregon State Senior, Drafted CIN 2012 13th Round
I had Boyd in my lefty profile last year. He decided to go back to OSU for his senior year instead of signing with the Reds. He has a good chance of getting to start this year, and is somebody to keep an eye on. He pitched well in the Cape, going 21 IP 15K/8BB/16 hits with a 1.71 ERA. Here’s a quote: “Simply put, Boyd knows how to pitch," Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson said. "It’s good velocity, a good breaking ball and he really, really competes. He loves to be on the mound.”
Cons: Does not currently start, is behind the 8-ball with age, doesn't have great secondary pitches.
Top 300 Consideration: Maybe, if he gets the bump. But his future may well be in the pen. Hey, those guys get paid well too if they can grind out.
So lemme wrap it up. The Giants, as all baseball teams, will always be looking for interesting left handed prospects. Currently they have 3 starters who will make noise next year as well as some injury guys. They have a bunch of pen arms, 2 of which throw high velocity. Lefties always have control issues and are given much more time to master them then the right-handed counterparts.
Dan Runzler is a great example to look at here – incredible stuff, incredible velocity, but he cannot throw strikes consistently. If he could, he’d be a shutdown closer. But look at how many chances and how the Giants sheep dog him along. Hope for the best with the injury guys, but there really isn’t anything more frustrating than a player who can’t get on the field. And the Giants have had their fair share of that. The take a shot at the injured talented guy is a high risk high reward strategy, I think it might be a good idea to look at the harsh reality in this case, before getting hopped up on the possible steal. Health is a hugely important factor.
Definitely some interesting arms coming in the draft. If you hit on a lefty as we have with Bumgarner or the Dodgers have with Kershaw, it’s a big ticket. But its also high risk stuff. I did some analysis of that in my posts last spring. There will be some choices available at the 1st round pick, if the Giants want to go the pitching route. Which they most likely will. And in conclusion, lefties get all the chances. Might make that my signature on the MCC actually.