One of the best annual traditions is Baseball America's "Best Tools" issue, in which the magazine polls managers from each league to find out who supposedly has the "best tools." These might not be the players with the best tools, but they're the players the managers perceive as having the best tools.
We'll go from low to high:
Low Class-A (Augusta)
Best reliever: Tyler Mizenko
Best manager prospect: Mike Goff
This one was kind of a surprise, as the 23-year-old Mizenko doesn't have the most eye-popping stats:
But he throws a sinker and a slider, and he has something the managers seem to dig. He was an All-Star this season, too.
High Class-A (San Jose)
Best power prospect: Mac Williamson
Best pitching prospect: Kyle Crick
Best fastball: Kyle Crick
Best breaking pitch: Clayton Blackburn
Best control: Ty Blach
All the tools. The San Jose box score is the first one I go to every night, and this is why. Crick is the best prospect in the league, and 60 percent of the rotation makes it.
Fastest baserunner: Gary Brown
Best defensive outfielder: Gary Brown
That's a pretty good shorthand description of how the Giants' minor-league system is doing these days. Interesting at the lower levels. Moribund at the higher levels. At least you know why Gary Brown is going to get chances until he's 30.
Best hitter: Buster Posey (#1)
Best strike-zone judgment: Marco Scutaro (#2)
Best hit-and-run artist: Marco Scutaro (#1)
Best slider: Sergio Romo (#2)
Best defensive catcher: Buster Posey (#3)
Best manager: Bruce Bochy (#1)
I'm assuming that "best hitter" is kind of an all-around sort of thing, where hitting, power, and patience are all lumped into the platonic ideal of "hitter." If so, Buster Posey's it. So much so that he also ranks on the list for best defensive catcher (I'd put him closer to #5 or so, but now we're just quibbling.)
Scutaro shows up in the #2-hitter categories, which is great, considering that he's a leadoff hitter now. I can't disagree with either of those rankings. No hitter in baseball swings at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone.
And the best manager in baseball? You know him, you love him. Bruce Bochy. But before you laugh at (or get perturbed with) that ranking, here's a list of the other 14 managers in the NL:
Which one do you take over Bochy? Maybe -- maybe -- I could listen to an argument for Bud Black. I don't see anyone else who's particularly close. Yes, the dude drives me nuts with his platooning-not-platooning and one-batter-too-long shenanigans, too. But every one of those managers would drive you nuts with their quirks, too.
I'm pretty sure Bochy deserved that award, even in this miserable season.
Now we return you to your regularly scheduled Bochy-mocking session, already in progress.
(Note that those managers didn't vote Brandon Crawford in the top three defensive shortstops in the NL. They're all goofballs. All of them.)