As spring training starts to warm up, the position battle most talked about is at 1B. Aubrey Huff went from world series hero and clubhouse riot in 2010 to drunken lout groundout to second in 2011. Young Brandon Belt tore up the minors in 2010, got put into the San Jose shuttle from hell in 2011. Brett Pill got cut off the 40 man and ended the year not only on the 25 but being praised for his short swing and extensive minor league experience. How this plays out will have huge effect on the 2012 season.
The Giants have cornerstones at 1B. Willie McCovey is one of the greatest and most beloved players of all time. In 1985 the Giants took a cocky young buck from Mississippi State with the 2nd overall pick of the draft. That worked out well. And in 1996 a newly minted GM traded Fausto Macey and Allen Watson for a struggling 28 year old 1B who he had drafted 7 years earlier. He brought a sweet glove and some surprisingly great numbers his first few years with the Gints.
The Giants haven’t had the big bopper 1B since Willie Mac. Clark was a natural hitter with 20-30 HR power, Snow was a gold glove (legit gold glove, not the Jeter GG) 1B with decent power that receded as he aged. Brandon Belt seems to be more in the Clark/Snow category and what’s wrong with that? Keith Hernandez has a ring, even if he was in the clubhouse as the Ray Knight was racing home. The Giants seem to value defense at 1B, one of the 2 spots on the diamond you can trade a little prowess for better hitting.
1B for the draft is not a position of strength. A few of these guys have reviewed already with power hitters and 3B. I’m gearing up for the big kahuna – Right handed Pitchers and I’m going to try and dig a bit deeper. 27 College guys, 27 HS guys. And then it’s the scrappy middle infielders, my 2nd favorite type of prospect.
Big Giants: Huff, Belt, Pill
Best prospects: Ricky O, Chris D, Angel V (Whole lot of swing and miss there!)
Possible First Rounders: Victor Roache, Adam Brett Walker, Richie Shaffer, Joey Gallo, Brian Johnson
Eight More: Keon Barnum, Christian Walker, Preston Tucker, Austin Maddox, Austin Dean, Matt Olson, Jayce Boyd, Matt Conway
Potential First Rounders:
1. Adam Brett Walker, Junior from Jacksonville
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: Got his first HR of the season last weekend. I don’t see the Giants taking a chance on Walker in the first round, but just like Dominguez and Oropesa, if he falls into the 2-3-4 rounds, they may take a shot.
2. Victor Roache, Junior from Georgia Southern
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: Broken wrist will keep him out of action most if not all of the season. He had similar contact issues to Walker on the cape after a good start.
The Stats: 326/438/1216 last year at Georgia Southern.
The Ranks: BA#9, Mayo #10
The Giants: The rankings will change, and it becomes a matter of how far will he drop. Will the Giants take a shot on him at #20 if he is there? I would hope so. As much as the team needs to restock pitching, they need legitimate power threats as well.
3. Richie Shaffer, Junior from Clemson
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.
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. Not sure if he is good value in the first round.
4. Joey Gallo, HS from Gorman HS (NV), LSU commit
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? As I get more familiar with all the players in the draft I think he isn’t a good pick at 20 anyways.
5. Brian Johnson, Junior from Florida
6’3 225 L/L 12/07/1990
The Goods: 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. He might be a tweener. Likely player to drop as HS pitchers get more hype.
6. Keon Barnum, HS from King HS (FL), commit to Miami
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. He walked 26 times to go along with 55 ABs. SSS
The Ranks: BA #88, Mayo #42
The Giants: 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. Don’t see the Giants reaching for him in the first, most likely gone in the 80s when they pick again.
7. Christian Walker, Junior from South Carolina
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. 2-4 round pick?
8. Preston Tucker, Senior from Florida
6’0 220 L/L
The Goods: Passed up good money from the Rockies in the 16th round of last years draft. Will likely become the all time leader in RBIs for the Gators in the first couple weeks of the year, and wants to knock the Gamecocks off their perch for the national title, badly. He is a Golden Spikes watch list nominee who has solid contact skills and is a patient hitter with power. He added 30 pounds of muscle. Hard worker who has been underestimated due to body type.
The Bad: Moved off of 1B, would profile there or LF due to below average speed and arm. Had a poor showing on the cape.
The Stats: Batted 308 with 74 RBI, 28 BBs and 23 2Bs. The SEC websites love to give copious single game heroic descriptions of rival grudge matches but can’t be bothered to provide a simple triple slash line.
The Ranking: BA #95, Mayo N/R
The Giants: Depends on what he does this year. Might not be the most athletic guy, but has worked hard. Another 2-4 round pick candidate.
9. Austin Maddox, Junior from Florida
6’3 235 R/R
The Goods: Forgot about this guy for the catcher profile. If he didn’t play at Florida behind Zunino he might be one of the top 5 catchers in college. He also pitches a little relief for the Gators. He had a great freshman year, struggled a bit his sophomore year. He has a big arm and lots of power potential to go with a imposing frame.
The Bad: Struggles in 2011 might have him pitching more this year. Fastball has heavy sink by the way.
The Stats: SEC Freshman of the year: 333 BA, 17 HR 72 RBI 2011: 280 6 HRs 35 RBIs, pitched and led team with 5 saves to go with 0.67 ERA, 21Ks/3BBs in 27 IP
The Rank: BA #99, Mayo N/R
The Giants: Like to convert shortstops, not 1Bs. Watch list to see what he does with the pitching and hitting this year. Florida really is stacked.
10. Austin Dean, HS from Klein Collins (TX), Texas Commit
6’1 185 R/R 10/14/1993
The Goods: This guy is overshadowed by CJ Hinojosa at Klein Collins, the school that Tyler Naquin is from as well. Hard contact hitter with a very good bat, and a hustler to boot! Patient hitter, with very good defensive tools. Runs a 6.74/60
The Bad: Not a lot. Not sure why he’s not hyped more actually.
The Stats: 2011 HS: 436 BA 540 OBP with 12 HRs
The Ranks: BA #80, Mayo N/R
The Giants: Here’s a quote from his HS coach: “Austin Dean has some of the quickest hands I’ve ever seen in a high school baseball player. He consistently hits balls in the gap with tremendous power. He has the potential of hitting to all areas of the field with power also. Not only is he a tremendous offensive threat, he has been a defensive cornerstone over at first base. He has played 3rd, 2nd and is presently at 1st base.” Not a top 100 pick, but in the 3-5?
11. Matt Olson, HS from Parkview HS (GA), Vanderbilt commit
6’5 225 L/R
The Goods: How about yet another Georgia prepster? He won the Gatorade GA player of the year. Big boy who can hit the long ball.
The Bad: Size will most likely limit him to 1B. Contact issues are likely.
Here’s a vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RayqPm-dXIk
The Stats: batted .460 with 17 home runs, 55 RBIs and a 1.060 slugging percentage. On the mound, he posted a 7-2 record with a 2.99 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 innings. A 2011 Under Armour All-American selection, Olson smacked a series-clinching three-run home run in both the state semifinals over Colquitt County and the state final against Hillgrove.
The Rank: Unranked
The Giants: Want a list of past Gatorade Player of the Year winners? OK – Jeter, Halladay, Price, Chipper Jones, Derek Lee, John Lester. OK, that was nationally and cherry picked. Here’s the Georgia ones: Kaleb Cowart (2009-10, Cook), Zach Wheeler (2008-09; East Paulding), Ethan Martin (2007-08, Stephens County), and Josh Smoker (2006-07, Calhoun). Zach Wheeler’s name comes up way too often for my tastes.
12. Jayce Boyd, Junior from Florida State
6’3 200 R/R 12/30/1990
The Goods: Talented defensive 1B who can hit some. He has put on 30 pounds on his frame, and has excellent power potential with a long swing. Drafted by the Rangers in the 19th round, went to FSU instead.
The Bad: Not a fast runner, only has a average arm which moves him to 1B.
The Stats: 2011 NCAA: Hit 343 with 17 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 60 RBI 10/12 SBs
The Rank: Unranked
The Giants: Somebody to watch this year, they love their defensive 1B with 20-30 HR power.
13. Matt Conway, Junior from Wake Forest
6’7 255 R/L 9/19/1990
The Goods: Ending with a literal Giant. 6’7 and Two Fitty Five? Wow. Coming from Michigan he is very raw. Has the Ricky Henderson/Cody Ross bat right throw left thing, which is always fun. That would make him a natural 1B.
The Bad: Low BA but not necessarily contact issues: Was the most difficult Wake Forest starter for opponent's to strike out on the season with just 33 on the year. I take it Wake isn’t a stellar crew.
The Stats: 256 BA and 431 SLG. 6 HR, 16 2B.
The Rank: Unranked
The Giants: Not sure if they are the best guys for hitting projects, but his size caught my eye and the R/L.
The Giants have drafted power hitting contact challenged college bats in the past couple of drafts. It is unlikely they will reach for any of these guys but in the 2-5 rounds if any of them drop they might take a look. With Roache losing most or all of the season, how much tarnish does his stock take? And how much would the Giants be comfortable. He was the definite white whale for me, does a broken wrist change that?
How many inane conversations did you have to have about JT Snow’s dreaminess?
Will Clark – why did the Giants not make more effort? Bonds? 1 alpha star? I’ll admit it, I’m still mad about it.
Brandon Belt – going to step up and grab that job?
Does Huff have one more even-odd year in him to bust out?
Which of these guys do you like and why?