The other night I was watching my new favorite show Clubhouse Confidential on MLB network. Brian Kenny does a great job, bringing in some of the best writers such as Joe Sheehan and Dave Cameron and pairing them off with baseball stick-in-the-muds like Larry Bowa. He keeps the number crunching fast paced, relatively simple and interesting. The show I was watching had to do with the Nationals possibly breaking camp with phenom Bryce Harper. Kenny dipped into the history of the greatest hitters in MLB history to demonstrate the possible struggles Harper might face. They covered Mickey Mantle’s famous first year, Al Kaline. Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. Then he dropped some old school footage on the most successful teenage great in MLB history: Mel Ott.
Here is the link to the piece:
Mel Ott was born in Gretna, Louisiana. Batted left, threw right. Played his entire career for the New York Giants. He was 5’9 and 170 pounds. He hit 511 Home Runs, with a slash line of 304/414/937. He led the national league six times, and led the Giants in HRs for 18 of his 22 years, consecutively from 1928-1945. He is the original Giants slugger. Grim fact I did not know: Ott died in a car wreck in 1958. Frankie Frisch and Carl Hubbell died similar deaths, Hubbell on the same date as Ott 30 years to the day.
So Ott went straight to the majors, in 35 games hit 383/393/417 as a 17 year old, 82 games hit 282/335/380 his 18 year old year and then went 124 games with 322/397/524 with 18 HRs as a 19 year old. That was the comparison year they were discussing with Harper. His 20 year old season was a huge breakout, 150 games, 328/449/635 with 42 round trippers, and the rest is history.
We all do this once in a while. All-time Home Run list. Cut it off at 500. Marvel at a bunch of the greatest hitters in baseball history, currently 25 strong. Aaron, Ruth, Mantle. Bonds and Griffey. Everybody has their preferences and grudges. It is always a hot button topic. Only half the teams in baseball even have one hitter on the list. Some have to share a hitter. The Cubs have Ernie Banks and Sammy Sosa. The Red Sox have Teddy Ball Game and a big piece of Manny Ramirez. The A’s have Jimmie Foxx, and have to share Mark McGuire and Reggie Jackson. Even the Yanks only have Ruth and Mantle, sharing Alex Rodriguez and Reggie. And every Giant fan knows how many we have. Four. We have four of the greatest sluggers in history, more than any other team. Only Ott played every game for the Giants, but there is no debate with Mays, McCovey or Bonds. They are Giants of the game.
It is also fun because the Dodgers have none. They try and put their stink all over the place, with 5 guys part timing it: Murray, Sheffield, Ramirez, Robinson and Thome. But none of the biggest sluggers for the Bums. They have to dip down into the low 400s to share Piazza and Duke Snider. Snider sits as the bottom guy on the 400 plus club with 407, 47th overall. Konerko should join the club and Big Papi has a pretty good chance if he can keep it up this year as well. In this new era Pujols is the only current player who will make a charge towards 600 and beyond. Harper could well be the next.
Why bring up home runs? They’re the most exciting part of baseball. They still matter to stats geeks. They lead highlight shows. The Giants don’t hit enough of them. This messes with our established slugging history and makes us surly. 24. 44. 4. And of course 25. Don’t have to say another word.
Current Giants who have the ability to hit home runs, reduced standard of the day, we are looking for power of over 20 HRs a year.
Pablo Sandoval. Currently has 20-30 HR power, some people think he can bump it to plus 30 a year.
Buster Posey: solid 20-30.
Aubrey Huff: has 7 years of over 20, 2 of those over 30.
Brandon Belt: quit laughing, he has the potential to hit 20-30. I said potential.
Potential in the system:
Tommy Joseph has 38 HRs in 2 years of the minors. He will be tested in the Eastern.
Brett Pill has 84 HRs in 6 years of the minors. He hit 25 last year in Fresno. He will most likely make the 25 out of spring training.
Adam Duvall hit 22 HRs in the Sally last year. It may have been against some not-stellar pitching. He will hit some more in San Jose this year.
Chris Dominguez hit 18 HRs in 2 stops last year. He will most likely move to Fresno but there is a chance they’ll throw him back to the Eastern.
Recent draftee Andrew Susac has the most usable power potential of the bunch. He should be a 20 HR guy. That is all potential though, he has to suit up in San Jose.
Recent draftee Ricky Oropresa has light tower power potential, but has to prove its not just batting practice generated. He will either go to Augusta or join Susac in SJ.
There is also the sleeper Alex Burg. He hit 14 at San Jose, he will be tested by the Eastern as well.
And finally Angel Villalona is the wild card of the organization, coming back from 2 years of exile from murder charges in his native Dominican Republic. As a former top ranked prospect, it is completely impossible to predict how it turns out. His batting practices were legend, his games filled with fitness issues and attitude, and he was one of the youngest players ever in San Jose. He most likely would do extended spring training and then Augusta or San Jose, but he first has to get his feet wet on American soil.
And we’re done! So there aren’t any Bryce Harpers in the organization. In this day and age, every top hitting prospect is hugely hyped. A once a decade or generation talent like Harper is so widely scouted there just aren’t the surprises of the golden era. Commerce Oklahoma. Birmingham Alabama. The hometowns of legend are now replaced with showcases and travel teams. Nobody cares where ARod or Harper grew up.
Edit: Honorable mention HRs: SJ: Gary Brown hit 14, Jarrett Parker hit 13, Hector Sanchez had 11. In Richmond I forgot about Roger Kieschnick, who had 16. Kieschnick is fading, but should be included in power potential.
My theory is the Giants are one bat away from ignition. Really it is 2 bats, because it depends on Belt proving out as a viable major leaguer. If you combine Sandoval and Posey with Belt and a slugging corner something – RF/LF and batting right handed preferred, you suddenly have a pretty nice middle of the order. There is a whole lot of if in that sentence, I know. The Giants need a straw to stir the drink. They need it sooner than later, and don’t have time to wait around for a HS bat to develop. So its not a great situation in that regard. When does Andrew McCutchen hit free agency again?
I am trying to rank these guys seriously. The ranking is by power potential. Looking for the best sluggers in the 2012 draft, across all positions. The rub of course is the Giants won’t have a high probability of getting any of these guys with the 20th pick, and the ones that drop might go to college to chase the really big bonus of a top 5 signing bonus in a couple of years.
Top 12, ranking order: Victor Roache, Joey Gallo, Adam Brett Walker, Mike Zunino, Keon Barnum, Ron Miller, Richie Shaffer, Brian Johnson, Byron Buxton, Courtney Hawkins, Christian Walker, Stryker Trahan, Lewis Brinson
First casualties of the CBA: Jameis Winston and Anthony Alford, highly touted preps who will definitely go football.
Also considered, alpha order: Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Josh Elander, John Hogan, Peter O’Brien, Andrew Rash, Rock Rucker, Preston Tucker, Nick Williams, Trey Williams, Jesse Winkler
1. Victor Roache, Junior from Georgia Southern (OF)
6’1 225 R/R 9/17/1991
The Goods: Led the nation with 30 HRs even with these new NCAA bats. Looks athletic enough to stick in the outfield instead of moving to 1B. Punishes the baseball with very good bat speed.
The Bad: Contact issues. Struck out 42 times each year. 151 ABs in 2010, 230 ABs in 2011. Not fast, but moves well for a football player sized guy. Raw from picking up baseball late and cold weather guy from MI, but has taken a nice step forward last year.
The Stats: 326/438/1216 last year at Georgia Southern.
The Ranks: BA#9, Mayo #10
The Giants: The only chance of him falling is if teams get scared off by his struggles with breaking balls or he has a terrible year. Tons of hype. The white whale.
2. Joey Gallo. HS from Gorman HS (NV), LSU commit (1B/3B/P)
6’4 200 L/R 11/19/1993
The Goods: Top potential power from the HS ranks with 25 HRs in high school. Light tower power, roped a legend at PetCo at PerfectGame. He also pitches, right-handed and sits in the low 90s. Easy swing with plus bat speed.
The Bad: Big time contact issues to go with the swing. Most likely profiles at 1B due to speed and glove.
The Stats: HS: 471/558/1198
The Ranks: BA#21, Mayo #23
The Giants: By the 20th pick, will Gallo’s advisors be done with the draft if he falls? Is he a better project than Tommy Joseph? While one might dream of Adrian Gonzalez one other comp is Freddie Freeman. Do you want to dream on Freddie Freeman?
3. Adam Brett Walker, Junior from Jacksonville (1B/OF)
6’5 225 R/R 10/18/1991
The Goods: Legitimate power to all fields with a long swing. Giant of a man who comes from an athletic family; runs a 6.8/60. Patient hitter and a hard worker.
The Bad: He had an awful Cape against advanced pitching, and struck out 56 times in 134 ABs. He may not be athletic enough to stick in the OF despite the speed, his future may be 1B. If the hit tool doesn’t work, the power is sort of pointless.
The Stats: 409/486/1168 at Jacksonville, 13 HRs
The Ranks: BA #31, Mayo N/R
The Giants: This guy might be the 1-B to Roache. The questions are can his contact issues be fixed and how athletic he is in the field. There should be hype that might take him up near Roache or issues that drop him into the Barr wheelhouse.
4. Mike Zunino, Junior from Florida (C)
6’2 215 R/R 3/25/1991
The Goods: Best catcher in the draft, Pops is a Reds scout, had catching gear since he was 6, student of the game, very good power and the long swing that goes along with it so much of the time. Natural leader, pull hitter, built, and he took on the SEC and kicked it in the jaw.
The Bad: Really not much. That long swing, and maybe some struggles with offspeed pitches. This guy is a beast.
The Stats: SEC player of the year, hit 371/442/668 in 2011.
The Ranking: BA #5, Mayo #5
The Giants: Not a chance of him falling.
5. Keon Barnum, HS from King HS (FL), commit to Miami (1B/OF)
6’4 225 L/L 1/16/1993
The Goods: Lefty bat with excellent bat speed. Strong arm, but most likely a 1B. Power to all fields but big time pull power.
The Bad: He is old for his age, yet has raw skills. He will likely profile at 1B, although he runs a 7.0/60. His swing is long and he’s prone to strikeouts.
The Stats: 491/654/964 SLUGGING. He walked 26 times to go along with 55 ABs. SSS
The Ranks: BA #88, Mayo #42
The Giants: Not sure what kind of bonus demands this guy would have, not being a top ranked guy. The comp was Fred McGriff. That is something to dream on. Left handed 1B with that kind of size of course brings up Stretch. And that’s a stretch. Still, very interesting guy.
6. Ron Miller, HS from Serra HS (CA) commit to UNLV (1B/3B)
5’11 215 R/R 1/7/1994
The Goods: Excellent raw power and bat speed. Very simple swing, coming from a compact muscular body. Should be able to handle third, and has the arm for it or the OF.
The Bad: Swing can get long. He isn’t fast, his times were 7.22/60.
The Stats: 459/544/1125 with 34 hits, only 1 HR. Doubles machine.
The Ranks: Unranked
The Giants: This guy was recently raved about by Klima, you can check the report there. He has a really nice swing. He is falling through the cracks, not listed in BA, Mayo or ESPNHS but the latter has a great write up and video on him.
7. Richie Shaffer, Junior from Clemson (1B/3B)
6’4 195 R/R 03/15/1991
The Goods: This guy might be 1-C to Roache/AB Walker. At the moment he has the most usable power of the three. He has plus power, and he slugged six HRs in the Cape this summer. He has a strong arm that could profile at the outfield corners in addition to 3B.
The Bad: Slow runner, his range may move him to first. His bat has some holes in his swing, particularly inside stuff.
The Stats: Clemson Career: 318/426/981 with 20 HRs
The Ranks: BA #26, Mayo #25
The Giants: It depends on how athletic he is and if they can fix his swing or live with the Ks. Personally I love the three true outcome guys. Seems like he is athletic enough for RF because of the arm. I want to know more.
8. Brian Johnson, Junior from Florida (P/1B)
6’3 225 L/L 12/07/1990
The Goods: Very interesting 2-way player. He has some of the best raw power in the entire draft, hitting from the left side. He also profiles as a mid-rotation lefty with a big frame, an innings eater type with the hitting bonus. A vet of Team USA and a big intangible for a very high octane Florida squad, this guy needs a serious look for sure. On the batting side, he has Ryan Howard comps, he hit 3 HRs for Team USA in 4 games. This guy definitely is a multi-tasker, he pitched games on the Cape in addition to the CWS and the national team. On the pitching side he has a 3/4 delivery with good sink. 4 pitches, a fastball, slider, change up and curve. I believe the first 3 are rated as plus pitches. Fastball goes up to 92, so he’s not fireballing but has an advanced feel for the plate and is aggressive with hitters.
The Bad: Is middle of the rotation projection bad? Scouts and reviews seem very split down the middle on which way he should go, slightly leaning towards pitching. The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 8-3, 3.62 ERA in 15 starts, 79 IP, 72Ks/15 BBS 1.17 WHIP
The Rank: BA #8, Mayo #15
The Giants: Might have a safety pick with this guy. His power tool could work if he can pick up 1B.
9. Byron Buxton, HS from Appling County HS (GA), commit to GA (OF)
6’2 190 R/R 12/18/1993
The Goods: 5-tool HS guy who is getting huge hype. Very fast with line-drive gap stuff going on now but enough power potential that he’s getting talked about in the top 5. He can stick in CF with his speed.
The Bad: Not physically developed, that is all 5-tool dreaming. He has more tools than polish with the raw talent.
The Stats: 2nd in the UnderArmour home run derby
The Ranks: BA #3, Mayo #9
The Giants: Don’t have a chance of drafting this guy, who has Upton brother comps.
10. Courtney Hawkins, HS from Carroll HS (TX), commit to Texas (OF/P)
The Goods: He has shown plus plus power, to all fields. Very good bat speed with some explosion off the bat. Plus arm in the OF with 6.60/60 speed and runs well once underway. Also pitches, went 10-2 with 2.35 ERA and 81Ks,
The Bad: He is very raw. He has some swing mechanic problems involving lunging at the ball.
The Stats: 410 BA 940 SLG 15 HRs 22 SBs
The Ranks: Unranked
The Giants: Most likely a pretty strong commit to Texas. This guy seems less well rounded and not as fast as Buxton. He has demonstrated more power so he should maybe ranked ahead of Buxton but I got scared of all the national hype.
11. Christian Walker, Junior from South Carolina (1B)
6’0 220 R/R 3/28/1991
The Goods: Power hitter who was tough enough to play through a broken hammate bone in Omaha. This one might get scoffed at, but he seems like a patient hitter with good pop who might take it to the next level this year. His teammates call him the Terminator.
The Bad: Like other South Carolina guys, not as much scout hype. Might not have enough power to be a MLB 1B, at least not a prototypical one.
The Stats: 361/442/1006 with 9 HR, 32 BBs/26Ks
The Ranks: Unranked
The Giants: Wait and see what he does this year. He is one of the keys to a good team in college, and maybe the broken hammate is holding back the hype.
12. Stryker Trahan, HS from Acadiana HS (LA), Ole Miss commit (C)
6’1 220 L/R 4/25/1994
The Goods: Left handed catchers don’t grow on trees. Short stroke, excellent bat speed. Lots of power potential with solid contact. He is fast, different showcases had different speeds, but 6.54 to 6.80 is excellent for a guy built like a fullback. He is named for the Burt Reynolds TV show “BL Stryker”. Pop times under 2.0.
The Bad: Interestingly, its Mayo who says he may have to move off of position. BA loves him at catcher. The usual batting language with power bats is thrown around.
The Stats: 460/545/736 – the video game type stats you want to see in HS players.
The Ranking: BA #12, Mayo #24
The Giants: I bet BA is more right than Mayo. If he drops, it becomes a signing bonus issue at #20. Should they try? YES! The more Cajuns in this organization the better, says I. He’s left handed, he’s built like a fullback but runs like a tailback.
13. Lewis Brinson, HS from Tamarac HS (FL), Florida commit (OF)
6’3 180 R/R 5/8/1994
The Goods: Sort of a sleeper, this guy looks like a possible 1-B to Buxton. He has comps to Dexter Fowler because of his wiry build, but he is supposed to have more power. He has above average bat speed, 6.5/60 and should fill in his frame. He should be able to stick in CF with his speed, range and arm.
The Bad: Extremely raw. Chasing 5 tool players is always extremely risky. He has some batting stance issues.
The Stats: Won the Underarmour HR Derby, over Buxton. 473/623/1496.
The Ranks: BA #51, Mayo #29
The Giants: Wendell Fairley. Is Sabean in a bunker already?
The HS OF class is quite large and deep. They will get a lot of hype. I’m going to do a post on just those guys.
Comment starters: Do the Giants need more power?
What is a better investment at the time of the draft, power or pitching?
Which guys look like logical picks?
Will bonus demands wipe out any potential at the 20 spot of landing power?
Who is the likeliest to slip?
What was your favorite HR of the year in 2011 for the Giants?
Who are guys I missed? I'm sure there are a ton.
The Giants had the small framed power guys (Ott), the 5-tool power (Bonds) and the big lanky and strong power (McCovey) as well as just simply, the greatest: Willie Mays. The beauty of baseball is there are all sorts of different body types who can play the game. Obviously the guys above most likely won’t be special players or most likely even make the majors necessarily. You never know for sure though.