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Which Alonso?

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Yonder Alonso!

I can't believe I came up with that one all on my own!

The MLB.com Draft Report on Yonder Alonso gives a perfect synopsis of the Giant dilemma in its summary:

Alonso or Smoak. Smoak or Alonso. It can be quite a debate over which college first baseman should go first on Draft day

Godfather, or Godfather II? OK Computer or Kid A? Garfield at Large or Garfield Weighs In? Eternal questions, all. Smoak has the raw power, according to the scouty types, which is expected to be the kind of power that wouldn't be tarnished by the ample dimensions of Mays Field. Thirty homers? Forty homers? No problem, say the Smoakophiles.

Some folks think Alonso is a more polished hitter (a controversial opinion, mind you), but with an optimistic peak of 25-30 home runs. Thirty homers? Gee, that'd be a shame, seeing as the Giants have had one 30-homer season from a first baseman in the past 35 years. Sure, that's a little disingenuous, as Will Clark's 20+ homer seasons were the equivalent of 30- and 40-homer seasons today, but the point still stands. If Alonso rips 25 homers to go along with a .400 OBP, I think we'll all find a way to deal with it.

An interesting point that is usually made against  Alonso is that his power is almost exclusively to the opposite field and center field. Again, this gets a Giants-specific chuckle, as we have had to deal with the quasi-promise of Pedro Feliz over the past seven years. Alonso is a hitter who starts with an opposite-field approach while trying to figure out how to pull for power? We'll take our chances, thank you.

One thing to note, though, is the strength of schedule for the prospective draftees. According to Boyd's World, Miami had the 62nd-most difficult schedule in the NCAA. That would mean that Alonso's stats are a little deceptive, as he was able to get fat against the Cornells and New Jersey Institute of Technologys of the college baseball world. As I'm not a college baseball follower, I can't pretend to know how accurate such a ranking is.

Alfonso's swing is beautiful to these amateur eyes. Smooth...compact...willing to take pitches the opposite way.... Dare I say, J.T. Snow with significantly more power? For all of the crap that J.T. took, the only thing separating him and elite-status was about 20 homers a season*. Alonso might have the approach of a Snow, combined with the relative power of a Will Clark.

Verdict: I'd be thrilled with Alonso, just as I'd be thrilled with Tim Beckham, Gordon Beckham, Buster Posey, Justin Smoak, or Pedro Alvarez. There's about a 4% chance that the Giants screw this draft up, at least as far as the short-term analysis goes. I don't think that either Aaron Crow or Brian Matusz is special enough to trump the organizational need for hitting. Alonso should move quickly. Smoak should move quickly. Neither will be able to play a position other than first, but that shouldn't be a problem if the Baseball Prospectus theorem holds true.

Links:


2007 Baseball America report from the Cape Cod League
Recent Baseball America feature
MLB.com Draft Report
BrewerFan.net profile
Palm Beach Post profile
Interview with bowl cut, attractive female, and total dork (i.e., the only YouTube search result.)

* Yeah, the only thing separating Tin Machine and David Bowie is good songs. You know what I'm trying to say, you cynical jerk.