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The Prospect Roundup, 6/12

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Today's roundup, we look at the results of perhaps the least-anticipated MLB Draft for the Giants in over a decade, and a lot of minor league moves...including one player who got the title "Journeyman" title with just one week.

Wrapping Up The Draft

40 rounds later, and there are 39 new names for San Francisco Giants fans to get to know.  There are plenty of deeper scouting reports you’ll find all over, so let’s take a broader view at the Giants draft.

Top Pick Review

The Giants were missing their first round pick for the first time since the Michael Tucker days, and the fans were noticeably worried about how they would do.  After all, the last few first rounds the Giants drafted in, they picked up "low ceiling", "safe" and "overdrafted" prospects.  Not that they’ve always been wrong about their picks, like All-Star, World Series star Joe Panik.  But without a first round pick, there were worries they’d pick a third-round pick with their second-round top pick.

Instead, they drafted a "Safer" pick who was somehow still in the draft a solid 20 picks later than he was expected to go.

Brian Reynolds is a solid center field pick, who might also work well in a spacious right field at AT&T.  He’s athletic, a switch-hitter, with some power and some speed.  And for once, most reviews saw this as a great pick for the Giants, a real steal of some real talent.

The Giants Read This Column...Maybe

A week ago, we discussed the very, very shallow pool of outfielders in the Giants system, and the lack of successful outfielders that have grown from the farm.

The Giants seemed to respond, spending their top two picks, and three of their first six, on outfielders.  The team had 8 listed outfielders total of their 39 picks, and their only 1B pick has some scouts thinking he’d be better in left field.  The rest of the positions drafted were four catchers, three shortstops, and the aforementioned first baseman.

Those Damned Millenials

With one of the smallest bonus pools, thanks to not having a first round pick, the team did not seem to make much of an effort to draft high schoolers without the wherewithal to sign them.  The Giants drafted only 5 high schoolers out of 39 picks, and only 1 out of the first 22 rounds.

The most promising high schooler in the late rounds is 31st rounder Adam Laskey, a very talented RHP but likely to be close to unsignable with a commitment to Duke.  Then again, that was said once about Clayton Blackburn, a 16th round pick in 2011 with a strong commitment to Oklahoma State.

There’s a Trusted Scout That Trusts Vanderbilt

For the second time in three drafts, the Giants’ top pick came from Vanderbilt, just like 2014 top pick Tyler Beede.  But this year, not only did the Giants draft Reynolds from Vanderbilt, but also drafted catcher Jason Delay in the 11th round from Vanderbilt as well.  Delay is a defense-first catcher who has professional-level ability to stay behind the plate, but a bat that will need work.  His catching skills may be enough to carry him, but he’s the kind of strong baseball work ethic the Giants like.

Never Turn The Cape Cod League Draftees Into A Drinking Game

All of the top 8 Giants draft picks played in the Cape Cod League, as well as a few late rounders.

If you ever make this game a reality, you’ll be hung over until the All-Star Break.

Are The Giants Really Good At Developing Pitchers?

This spring, I got asked my feelings about several things in Giants’ prospect land.  One of the questions was about the Giants’ reputation with pitchers, and I had to point out, what reputation?

Other than the rise of elite prospects like Lincecum and Bumgarner, have the Giants really been developing starters at an exceptional rate?  Even in the bullpen, there were as many unheralded signings and trades as their were homegrown pitchers.  Since the days of Ainsworth, Foppert, and Williams, to the exceptional collapse of prospects like Crick and Stratton, the Giants constantly have had pitchers at the top end of their system that never seem to truly crack through.

Are the Giants really a team that knows how to develop pitchers?

This draft may depend on it.

The top pitcher drafted, 4th rounder Matt Krook, is a pitcher with consistency issues.  7th rounder Garrett Williams is called an "enigma" by Baseball America, with raw stuff, but a need of consistency.  8th rounder Stephen Woods needs to "harness" his stuff, also from Baseball America.  9th and 10th rounders Caleb Baragar and Alex Bostic are control lefties that the Giants always seem to take.

Going up and down the pitchers taken, there are a lot of pitchers with raw tools or big stuff that need a lot of work.  If the Giants are going to carve a couple of major leaguers out of these pitchers, they’ll have their work cut out for them.

Sleeper of the Draft

After I go bashing the Giants’ ability to develop pitchers, I’m going to go with CJ Gettman from Central Washington.  Gettman is a 6’5 closer from Division II with a solid mid-90’s fastball that got a lot of strikeouts against Division II competition, and the starts of a curveball and slider.  If the Giants can turn one of those pitches into a decent pitch, they could have a reliever than can move fast.  Add in a changeup, and you’ve got a very good back-of-the-bullpen guy.

Name Recognition

A day after the Giants traded for the son of a former San Francisco Giant (see below), the Giants drafted a couple of familiar names.  18th rounder Jacob Heyward is a very raw hitter with a lot of power potential, and he might be a better hitter at the moment than his older brother Jason has been with the Cubs. He might be able to fit right in with another teammate who is the younger brother of a major leaguer, Jonah Arenado.

The Giants also drafted Ryan Howard in the 5th round.  No, not that player who is the bittersweet reminder of all that is wrong and was once right, long ago, for Philadelphia fans.  No relation, either.  But he’s a decent all-around shortstop with both skills in the field as well as at the plate.

Bonus name recognition for 38th round pick David Lee, who will either remind you of a former Golden State Warrior, or former Augusta GreenJackets beat writer.

The Best Name Of The Draft

Oh, the oh-so-important thing for most people.  There were no standout names.  Other than the name recognition guys, there’s Brandon Van Horn, a control-challenged pitcher named Matt Krook, who should go well with Kyle Crick, and the inevitable confusion that Stephan Woods will cause with Stetson Woods (9th, 2014).

But, no, I’ll go with Gio Brusa.  The very bouncer-sounding name makes me imagine a generic bruiser in a movie, and he’s not tiny at 6’3 and 220 pounds.  But the sixth rounder also fits the profile as a power-hitting corner outfielder, who has a good control of the strike zone for a slugger.  It’ll be interesting to see if he can live up to the name.

All-Star Announcements!

This week, the announcements for the All-Star Teams for the Single-A teams came in, and both teams did well.

San Jose, who is hanging on to first-half division hopes, posted four members to the California League team.  These are RHP Sam Coonrod, SS C.J. Hinojosa, RHP Rodolfo Martinez and 1B Chris Shaw.

Sam Coonrod had a hell of a May (see below), and has the third-best ERA in the California League at 2.26.  Rodolfo Martinez, the team’s closer, leads the league in saves by far with 16, with the second-best total just at 9.  C.J. Hinojosa has cooled off slightly, but still leads the team and is second in batting average in the league with a .330 average. Chris Shaw, meanwhile, has been the power behind the Giants, with 13 home runs, also second in the league.

Meanwhile, Augusta is also in the mix for a first-half playoff spot, and they also landed four All-Stars.  Augusta’s stars on the SAL Southern Division team are RHP Phil Bickford, RHP Michael Santos, OF Dylan Davis, and Catcher Matt Winn.

Phil Bickford, the team’s top pick in 2015, has proven one of the team’s most aggressive starters.  A season of mixed results currently sits at a 2-4 record in 10 starts, but with a 2.89 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 53 innings with just 14 walks.  Michael Santos sits just behind Bickford with a 2.91 ERA, with only 44 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, but just five walks allowed.  Dylan Davis has been one of the team’s big bats, batting .275 with 7 home runs, one short of the team lead, adding on 13 doubles and 3 triples.  Matt Winn is only hitting .229, but is slugging .405 thanks to five home runs, six doubles and a triple.

Sam Coonrod - Player Of The Month for the California League

In addition to the All-Star announcement, Coonrod got another honor: California League Player of the Month for May.  Coonrod went 5-0 with a 0.57 ERA in the month of May.  Even though he only struck out 18 batters over 31.1 innings, he only gave up 19 hits and 14 walks for a 1.05 WHIP.  He held batters to just a .179 batting average in the month as well.

The announcement’s timing was interesting, as it came a couple of days after Coonrod’s first start in June…and one where he came back to Earth.  He allowed 6 earned runs over 6 innings of work.  At least his timing matches the big league team’s June Swoon, so maybe he’s closer to the majors than we expect!

Ishikawa Is Back…Again

Travis Ishikawa’s baseball journey seems to be like a Nascar track; it keeps bringing him back to San Francisco.  And just when the Giants could use some…outfield depth?

The Giants signed Ishikawa to a minor league deal this week.  Ishikawa, 32, of course will never have to buy his own drinks in San Francisco thanks to his NLCS-clinching walk-off home run in Game 7 in 2014.  But that was already his second stint with the team.  He was eventually waived by the Giants in May of 2015 after getting into only 6 games all season, and the Pittsburgh Pirates took him.  Ishikawa hit .224/.318/.328 with the Pirates.

In the offseason, he was close to making a deal with his hometown Seattle Mariners, but it didn’t work out, and he signed with the Chicago White Sox.  He hit .201/.277/.344 in Triple-A Charlotte for the White Sox before his release on May 24th.

Ishikawa came up with the Giants, debuting in the Majors in 2016.  He stuck with the team through 2011, winning a ring on the first of the World Series teams.  After that, he spent 2012 with the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and then had a whirlwind 2013, first with the Baltimore Orioles, then the New York Yankees, and then the White Sox.  He started the 2014 season with the Pirates before they waived him and the Giants picked him up.

He will report to Sacramento, and the Giants sent Darren Ford down to AA to make room.

Also, a 35-Year Old Minor League Signing

Behind the Ishikawa signing, the Giants also signed free agent Chris Denorfia to a minor league deal, a more serious outfield depth signing.

Most Giants fans will remember Denorfia from his time with the Padres, from 2010-2014, but he’s been around.  He started his Major League career in Cincinnati (2005-2006), then the A’s (2008-2009), and after the Padres, he went to the Seattle Mariners and spent last year with the Chicago Cubs.  He hit .269/.319/.373 last season while playing 103 games.

Denorfia had signed with the New York Yankees to start the season, but was released at the end of Spring Training.  He has not played yet this year.  He’ll go to Extended Spring Training to get back into playing shape and will likely assigned to Sacramento when he is ready.

Dunston Trade

In 2015, a lot of longtime Giants fans got a smile when the Giants drafted Jose Vizcaino, Jr., the son of the former San Francisco Giant.  On Friday, the team brought another Jr. with a familiar name to the team.

The Giants traded for Shawon Dunston, Jr., from the Cubs for cash.  Yep, the son of the current "Special Assistant" coach (meaning, Instant Replay Judge), who was an 11th round pick in 2011, is now a Giant.

Junior was drafted out of San Jose’s Valley Christian high school, and made his debut in 2012 in the Cubs’ short season leagues.  His best season was a .290/.378/.358 line in Short-Season Boise, but his career was interrupted by a leg injury early in 2015.  This season, he was batting .219/.299/.342 in Myrtle Beach, the Cubs’ Class-A Advanced affiliate.  He’ll be assigned to Augusta to start his Giants’ career.

The Journey of Richard Rodriguez

Some men have journeymen careers, bouncing from team to team, never to find a permanent role but finding opportunity as it arises.  Some may have journeyman seasons, through promotions, demotions, or trade.

How about a journeyman week?  Meet Richard Rodriguez.

Rodriguez isn’t new to the Giants.  The infielder has been with the team since he was 18 in the 2011 season.  He spent four years in the DSL before getting a shot in the U.S. last season, with a .330 average in 26 games with Augusta.  He started the season as a backup with San Jose, getting into 9 games and batting 8-for-29 before going onto the disabled list in mid-May.

He never got activated from the DL.  Instead, last Sunday, he was promoted to Sacramento, after Hak-Ju Lee’s release, to fill the infield spot.  He got in a pinch-hit opportunity, grabbing a hit in his only plate appearance.  However, I hope he didn’t unpack.

The River Cats got the more experienced middle infielder Rando Moreno on Tuesday, so Rodriguez got sent on down to Augusta, who were about to lose an infielder with the DL stint of Dillon Dobson.  But, the GreenJackets got minor league free agent T.J. Bennett to fill that spot, so on Wednesday, Rodriguez had a ticket to…San Jose, right where he started.

Unless this was one hell of a test on the effects of Jet Lag on baseball prospects, I hope Rodriguez was collecting those miles.  He’s earned himself a flight to somewhere nice where he doesn’t have to play baseball in the offseason after that odyssey.

And Now…Where Twitter Teaches Us A Little Bit About Timing

Sunday:

Friday:

You never know when your chance will come.  Arbitrary contract deadlines rarely follow them.

Hitter of the Week - Hunter Cole

With a depleted Richmond outfield, this was the chance for Hunter Cole to get his moment to shine.

The 26th round pick from 2014 had a huge week.  He led the system with three home runs, and was 9-for-25 (.360) with an additional two doubles to lead a winning week for the Flying Squirrels.  Richmond was 5-1 on the week, and the only game in which Cole did not have at least one hit was the one they lost.

Cole is batting just .250/.311/.382 on the season, and the three home runs more than doubled his total for the season with 5.  This is his second year with experience at Richmond, as Cole went .301/.358/.474 over Augusta, San Jose and Richmond last season, with nine total home runs.  Perhaps this week will see him get back to that form, and join the list of outfield prospects in the system.

Pitcher of the Week - Adalberto Mejia

Once again, Adalberto Mejia has had a big game to lead the system, in a week where there were few big pitching performances.

Mejia went seven shutout innings on Saturday, allowing just three hits and two walks.  He didn’t dominate on the strikeouts as he usually did, with just four in this game, after a 10 strikeout performance just two starts ago.  With this start, Mejia lowered his season ERA to 1.94, and now that he is in his third season at Richmond, he should likely be on the list for a midseason promotion soon.

Sacramento Litterbox

Austin Slater is now batting .242 over nine games at AAA, and finally hit his first home run with Sacramento on Friday.  He’s 8-for-33 with a double and a home run, with four walks against 8 strikeouts…Travis Ishikawa has hit the ground running in Sacramento, going 3-for-11 (.273) in his first week with the team after a two-week layoff from games…Clayton Blackburn has allowed just two earned runs over his last five outings, 27.1 innings worth of game, a 0.66 ERA.  He’s lowered his season total to 3.40, and has 48 strikeouts in 59 innings…Joan Gregorio has had a tough time of it in Sacramento.  He has given up at least three earned runs in each of his last three starts, as his ERA with the River Cats is at 4.85.  He has 27 strikeouts and 11 walks in 26 innings at the level.

Richmond Nuthouse

Ali Castillo has quietly moved to the top of Richmond’s stats, with a nine-game hit streak going.  His batting average has risen to a team-high .338, and he has six doubles, and has stolen five bases as well…Ryder Jones is finally unlocking some of his power potential, and now leads the Squirrels with 7 home runs, hitting home runs in back-to-back games this week.  That is tied for 11th in the Eastern League…Christian Arroyo has his own nine-game hit streak going, though only two of those games have featured multiple hits.  He’s batting .287 on the season, with 16 doubles, one triple and two home runs…Richmond went 5-1 on the week, but they are still tied for last place in the division at 24-38, thanks to a rough start.

San Jose Footprints

San Jose came into this week with a chance to beat out Visalia for the first half-championship, but they are now 6 games back with 8 games to play…Steven Duggar has gone into a mini-slump heading into the weekend, going 0-for-14 and dropping his batting average to .273.  He’s got 9 home runs on the year, second on the team behind Shaw…Jordan Johnson made his first appearance in 11 days this week, after his six-run, one inning disaster.  It was a mixed back, with three earned runs in six innings, but struck out seven with just a walk.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

Augusta has been going through a bit of a transformation, with injuries taking away some of the team’s young core, and some older veterans taking more of a role on the team.  However, there are still plenty of prospects at play…Miguel Gomez got a late start in Augusta, but is batting .331 on the season with four home runs and 12 doubles in 38 games.   He hasn’t played catcher yet, splitting time between third and first base, with some time at DH as well…Jalen Miller goes through hot and cold streak, going hitless for games at a time, then exploding for six hits across four games.  He’s batting .259 on the season after his latest pair of streaks, with 44 strikeouts in 205 at-bats, with 10 walks…Cory Taylor is the team’s ERA leader with ten starts, and an ERA of 1.89.  The 8th round pick has 54 strikeouts against 12 walks in 52.1 innings…Kelvin Beltre had an excellent week, with a 10-game hit streak, going 14-for-42 (.333), until it came to a halt Saturday with this scary moment.

Hopefully, Beltre is not hurt seriously, and comes back soon.

Dominican Summer Beach

It’s a little early to get a good read on these youngsters, in their first week of play.  Outfielder Jose Patino is one of the team’s early leaders, getting hits in six of the team’s first seven games, batting .367 with three doubles so far…Joining him is first baseman Angeddy Almanzar, a 17-year old who is batting .304, but has two doubles, a triple and a home run in seven games.

Transaction Log:

Sacramento:

6/5 - 2B Richard Rodriguez assigned to Sacramento from San Jose; SS Hak-Ju Lee released.

6/7 - SS Rando Moreno assigned to Sacramento from Richmond.

6/9 - 1B Travis Ishikawa assigned to Sacramento.

Pretty much all these moves you can read about above.  Rando Moreno took Hak-Ju Lee’s spot after a quiet stint in Richmond.  In 47 games, he hit .215/.261/.271 for the Flying Squirrels.

Richmond:

6/8 - OF Darren Ford assigned to Richmond from Sacramento; RF Tyler Horan placed on the 7-Day DL with a hamstring injury.

6/10 - 1B T.J. Bennett assigned to Richmond from Augusta; RHP Preston Claiborne assigned to Richmond.

Darren Ford got sent to AA when Ishikawa was picked up, but also helps the Squirrels, who still have only three healthy outfielders on the roster.  Ford hit .250/.311/.316 for the River Cats.  Horan was having a solid season, batting .274/.326/.427 in 44 games.

T.J. Bennet is making his American debut.  A Canadian-born player, Bennett bounced around the indy leagues for a couple of seasons before playing for a year in Austrailia, where he hit .319/.380/.708, highlighted by 8 home runs in 25 games.  He was signed in the offseason by the Giants, and had been working out in Arizona.  He went 1-for-4 in one game with Augusta before moving up to Richmond.  He’s listed as a first baseman, but has outfield experience as well.

San Jose:

6/8 - Richard Rodriguez assigned to San Jose from Augusta; 3B Jose Vizcaino Jr. placed on the 7-Day DL.

Read about Rodriguez’s journey above.  Vizcaino’s season hasn’t been very successful so far, hitting .231/.309/.312.

Augusta:

6/6 - C Adam Sonabend activated from the 7-day DL; RHP Logan Webb placed on the 7-Day DL retroactive to 6/2.

6/7 - 1B Skyler Ewing assigned to Augusta from Extended Spring Training; 2B Richard Rodriguez assigned to Augusta from Sacramento.

6/8 - 1B T.J. Bennett assigned to Augusta; SS Dillon Dobson placed on the 7-Day DL with a Hamstring Injury.

6/10 - Shawon Dunston Jr. traded to the Augusta GreenJackets from the Myrtle Beach Penguins.

The Dunston trade actaully leaves Dunston going down a level.  Myrtle Beach is in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League.  He was hitting .219/.299/.342 there.  Dobson was having a good season and was one of Augusta’s best performers, batting .273 with 8 home runs.  Ewing was only in Extended Spring Training for five days, but it works.  He went 3-for-4 in his first game back.  Sonabend was on the DL since May 25th.  He’s batting .190 with a .306 OBP so far this year.  Webb had been having lots of troubles this season, with a 6.21 ERA in 9 starts, with five starts of him giving up 3 ER or more.

DSL Giants:

6/3 - LHP Christian Osorio, LHP Jose De La Cruz, RHP Rey Ciriaco, RF Marcos Santana, RHP Yoel Veras, RHP Clarence Richardson, and C Alilzon Rodriguez placed on the 7-Day DL.

All the DL moves are just beginning of the season stuff.

The Wrap-Up:

Okay, this isn’t Giants related, but since theme jerseys are all the rage, I think this is just about the best mix of team name and classic 80’s movie promotion.