If there is one area the Giants need re-stocking for 2013, its definitely up the middle talent. Going through the CPL, it stands out pretty drastically. They have some interesting lefties, which I covered in my last draft post. They have a rotation in San Jose next year which is definitely going to be fun to watch. They have literally a dozen bullpen arms who might bust out at any moment with mid 90s heat blazing. But up the middle talent, something emphasized in recent Barr drafts, is a tad depleted.
Catcher, Short, Center Field. 2B is always the neglected step-child of the draft, as most teams just shuffle their former SS prospects over. From an org depth chart, its hard to get nine guys to get excited about. Here's my attempt: Gary Brown in CF, followed in the extreme youth by GUSTAVO Cabrera, all of 16, but its a good 16. Tyler Hollick? Jesus Galindo? Big time questions. That's 4 guys. Catcher: Its all Andrew Susac now that Tommy Boy Joseph got traded and Hector Sanchez graduated to the big club and #1 whipping boy status on the McCronic. So we're up to 5. SS? Well, there is Joe Panik, whom everybody except the stubborn Greybeards wants to shuffle to the keystone. 6! I can fill in 7&8 with Ehire Adrianza, a no-hit slick fielding SS who might have to start playing around the diamond soon. Nick Noonan has resurrected his prospect status by doing just that. So I'm up to 8! Nine is a big stretch, as far as up the middle guys. Casting around, I think I'll go with Carter Jurica, he hit 300 at SJ after some time in the wilderness, is a 3rd rounder from the 2010 class, and unless the Giants decide to throw Shawn Payne into 2B, I can't really see too many others in front. Kelby Tomlinson? Jean Delgado? Brock Bond? There are some choices, but I'll stick with the org-all-star on this one.
So the Giants will need some Catching depth. They have the following guys toiling: Fresno: Jackson Williams, Eric Sim, Tyler LaTorre. Richmond: Johnny Monell, Joel Weeks. In SJ, Susac was the lone sheriff, although Dan Burkhart snuck his name on the game day list 34 times. Augusta had Jeff Arnold and Joe Staley. And S/K had Dashenko Ricardo as well as Trevor Brown. I'd say the Giants might be putting catching down as a big priority come 2013 draft time.
CF we have the following: Frankie Peggs played CF in Fresno, Brown in Richmond, Chris Lofton in SJ, Galindo in Augusta, Chuckie Jones in S/K, Tyler Hollick in rookie ball. So maybe I should have put Chuckie as the #9 instead of Carter Jurica, but the Giants do have some interesting CFs between Brown, Galindo, Hollick and Gustavo Cabrera already. At the very least, they have defensive coverage and good baserunning. If one of these cats can actually hit and get on base, they could be in business. So CF might be the least of the organizational need.
SS is a different matter. Brandon Crawford is a world champion, and with the position way off the former offensive heights of Tejada/Nomar/Jeter/Rollins from a few years ago, a lot of teams are taking the defense and running. Adrianza and Noonan might be able to sub in for Crawford in the event of injury or regression, and its good to have depth in the system, but they are definitely not impact depth. Noonan handled short at Fresno, Adrianza in Richmond, Panik at SJ (with Jurica at 2B), Tomlinson at Augusta, and Matt Duffy and Stephen Branca split time at S/K. I should note one of my favorite scrapper types played 2B at S/K, Ryan Jones. There are two sleepers worth mentioning at short: Travious Relaford, who had a nice AZ rookie campaign and is fast as hell. And undrafted John Polonius, out of West Virginia. Relaford put up 331/412/492 in 130 AZ ABs, and Polonius put up 300/378/408 in 120 AZ ABs. It seems like there are a few interesting scrapper types, but not any guys who have the chance to be the dude. But 2B is always an interesting mix of scrappers and grinders.
So with a nod towards the Giants not wanting to go dive in the HS hitting pool, here are some candidates they might look at for the 2013 draft, nine in all, at the 3 up the middle positions of Catcher, CF and SS. How about a 1st round candidate, 2nd round candidate and 3rd round candidate for each position?
1st Round Candidate for Catcher: Jonathan Denney, Yukon HS (OK), Catcher, Arkansas commit. 6'2, 205, R/R 9/28/1994
Doh! Can't help myself, I think this guy will get serious attention even from the HS averse Gigantes. Advanced receiving skill, plus arm, good power. Here's the MLB video on him: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=25489123
Denney has the best combination of defensive skills and offensive potential. There are a bunch of other youts who might be in the mix for the first round, but catcher is a tricky position, a lot of teams shy away from the HS guys, or they drop. As Tommy Joseph did for us back in 2009. Here are the big names from the HS ranks: Reese McGuire, Nick Ciuffo, Chris Okey, Jeremy Martinez, Zack Collins and Brian Navaretto. Of note. McGuire, Ciuffo and Collins are all lefty hitting. The #2 guy for me would be either Okey or Navaretto.
2nd Round Candidate for Catcher: There are none. Dipping a bit, we have the following guy, Andrew Knapp, California Berkeley Junior, 6'1, 192, Switch hits, throws Right, 11/9/1991
Here's him playing on the Cape: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pLcKOggho8
stroking an opposite field home run and trottin' baby! Knapp made the all-star team on the Cape this year. He's durable, playing almost every game in the Cape. He started 54 Cal Bear games, hitting 265/347/412 with 16 doubles and 5 jacks. He appears to have some pop. Now lets get into the back story: Sacramento area NorCal native, Giants fan, and the Giants have obviously been watching Cal games here and there. I bet the Giants took a long look at his Cape performance and he'll get a big follow this coming season. I bet he can get 3rd-5th round consideration with a big year and a weak class.
3rd Round Candidate for Catcher: Ty Ross, LSU Junior, 6'2, 207, R/R 01/17/1992
I have an irrational love of LSU Tigers and their recruits. I'll be watching Alex Bregman big time this year, and why not stock up on some more Tigers to follow. Ross is a big boy, durable, rocket of an arm. He has some right handed pop. Baseball prospectus has some video: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19027
and they like him a lot, even predicting some 1st round sneakiness. I'm not sure that's quite warranted, but he is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
1st Round Candidate for CF: Phil Ervin, Samford Junior, 5'11, 190, R/R 7/17/1992
Cape Cod MVP, he's really more of a gap hitter than a power guy, but he went off for the start of the Cape on a bit of a rampage. I would love for the Giants to get a shot at him, hopefully his size and lack of a major carrying tool will drive him down. Another knock is the lack of first class competition playing at Samford.
Here's his Grand Slam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ag8zXWXQuc
and his 10th HR in the Cape: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7FqWCVtPGQ
I like his swing, I like his speed, I like everything about him. Go college GIgantes, go college! This guy looks like exactly their style. So of course the A's will snag him right in front of us in the draft.
2nd Round Candidate for CF: So the Giants don't have a shot at either Meadows or Frazier. But there are several prepsters who look damn interesting. Here are a couple: Josh Hart out of Georgia, Terry McClure out of Georgia, and Matthew McPhearson out of Maryland. All are fast, all play CF at the moment, and of the 3 McClure looks to have the added dimension of some possible power down the road. Is he signable or available at the 2nd round spot? Most likely not, but I gotta cheat a little on my rules.
Terry McClure, Georgia Prep, Riverdale HS, commit to Georgia Tech, 6'2, 190, R/R 17/8 months at Draft
Here's BP (along with a few other profiles) http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18826
McClure got a Jose Reyes comp, interesting. He's got a whippy bat, he's extremely fast (6.48), he has a great frame. What's not to love? Maybe the fact he's got plus defensive skills will draw in the Greybeards, given their new commitment to defending the Bell and raining down death on all fly balls. Seriously, this guy should be long gone by the 2nd round, maybe even the 1st round if he gets a lot of hype. Its a raw toolsy gamble, but I think he would look great paired up with Gustavo, they can fight it out and the loser goes to RF.
3rd Round Candidate for CF: Jacoby Jones, LSU Junior, 6'3, 205, R/R 5/10/1992
Jones had an interesting Cape, winning a home run derby and striking out a ton. With the Giants new commitment to contact rates, maybe they pass right over him, but this guy is tooled up pretty good. I don't think they would risk a first round pick, but if Jones falls, I can see them looking. He'll actually play 2B, at least to start the season, so he doesn't really have a position as well. But he is definitely a first class athletic talent. This would be a bet that the Giants could get their hitting system going like they did with Belt. Imagine letting go of the Belt wars for the Jones wars! This guy strikes out a ton. I'll just cut and paste the LSU description: Tremendous athlete that projects as the Tigers' starting second baseman for the third straight season ... has comparable athletic ability, bat speed and foot speed to former LSU teammate and 2011 MLB first-round draft choice Mikie Mahtook ... Jones can play all infield positions with big-time range and a strong arm ... athletic enough to play anywhere on the field.
Interesting, yay nay?
1st Round Candidate for SS: Andy McGuire, Virginia Prep, Texas Commit, R/R 6'1 190, 03/02/95
McGuire is sort of fascinating to me. He played hurt for Team USA. (Here's that roster: http://web.usabaseball.com/events/events.jsp?ymd=20120618&content_id=33494460&vkey=event_usab) Here's a video of him hitting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vq056SqwnQ
can't say I like the leg kick, maybe that can get toned down.
I don't see either JP Crawford or Oscar Mercado being available with the Giants first round pick at 26 currently. Prep SS's who can stick at the position and have a bat are going to zoom. I bet McGuire zooms. The only thing that might keep him down is this injury. Its a hip surgery, here's the BA link: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/2012/12/andy-mcguire-underwent-hip-surgery-in-september/
So he's got the Team USA mojo, I want one of those on the Giants. Very impressed with playing through that much pain. He has the tools of great bat speed and a strong arm, good size and ability to play multiple positions. I think the Giants do target guys who can play more than one position. That is why I think they give McGuire and Jones a big look this spring.
2nd Round Candidate for SS: Wesley Jones, Georgia Prep, Georgia Commit, R/R, 6'2, 180, 17 years 10 Months draft
I think Chris Rivera might be a great choice as well, but he might rise up above pretty easily. Jones may not stick at shortstop. He may not have the range. But he comes from Redan HS, straight out of Stone Mountain Georgia. Yup, the same school as Shawn Payne. And Dominic Brown. And Brandon Phillips. Something in the water I guess. He's not a burner but he does run 6.96. He's got good defensive tools. He's athletic and he has bat speed. Maybe this is the guy who can slide to 2B. Or 3B. He has some good power projection. His athletic label stands out a bit more than some of my other favorites, who have awesome names: Terrian Arbet and Gosuke Katoh. What is the goal? Looking for hidden power. This guy might have it.
3rd Round Candidate for SS: Adam Frazier, Mississippi State Junior, L/R, 5'10, 172, 12/14/1991
Wanted to go with Lonnie Kauppila because I think he's going to be the Stanford guy who slips under the hype radar and make it, but I decided to stay in the SEC instead. Frazier is a bulldog who plays SS/2B and tore it up last year: 371/482/445 with 50BB/24K. No, I didn't reverse that by mistake. No HRs, and 9/16 SB/CS. He isn't without flaws, but he screams gamer, and would be a nice 3rd or 4th round pick. There are no real standout SS's from the college ranks right now. Another guy to watch is LJ Mazzilli, back for a senior year at UConn.
So to conclude I listed nine guys, despite trying to look for college guys I came up with a prep catcher, 2 prep shortstops and a prep OF. Five college guys, 2 catchers, 2 OFs and a gamer MI. I think its safe to say that this class is weaker than last years, especially at the position players. The prep catchers could get some hype, but they also have historically been sent on to college by virtue of passover in early rounds. The OFs will always get consideration, I'm not sure if the Giants would dip their beak there. I do think McGuire and Jones and Jones are interesting players with athletic potential and power potential, maybe those combined will get some notice. I was definitely looking for athletic guys who have a chance to stick in the middle of the field with power potential. They are going to have some warts if they are going to drop far enough for the Giants to have a shot at them. So the guys that stuck out to me also looked like they might be moving positions, and nobody wants to spend early picks on a 2B. Unless you're the Giants and you like Joe Panik at the 29 spot. They will spend the money on a bat with the contact tool who can do everything right. Would they take a shot at a more athletic type with more power potential? Not sure, but I thought the guys I chose might have some intangibles to go with the risks inherent.