San Jose’s roster is an instant highlight of the system due to the very large presence of the system’s top two prospects, and possibly the only impact prospects playing full season ball in the system in 2019. However we once again have some surprising omissions on the roster.
Best Hitting Prospect:
KEVIN: Joey Bart. Even sharing the roster with Heliot Ramos, this isn’t a hard choice. Bart looked very good last season, and spectacular in Spring Training, and there’s just not more than needs to be said. If you live in the Bay Area and want to see Bart in San Jose, try to make sure you go to some of the earlier games in the season.
ROGER: So you know how Kevin and I like to come up with two different players for these categories to get maximum player coverage and information into the article (that’s a little publishing “inside baseball” for y’all). Uh….yeah, it’s Joey Bart. Firm up the pitch selection, crush the mistakes, move on to Richmond by Memorial Day. But hey, that means Heliot gets the nod for the rest of the season!
Best Pitching Prospect:
KEVIN: Camilo Doval. This is a harder choice, for sure, as there aren’t a lot of top pitching prospects here. Doval has stuff, as evidenced by his 78 strikeouts in 53 innings, but he can get into trouble at times. His 3.06 ERA can be attributed to giving up 7 runs in 0.2 IP for his first two appearances of the year. Take those away, and he had a 1.89 ERA after those two.
ROGER: Um….huh… yeah Kevin’s on the money again. I’m worrying that the lesson here is this San Jose’s roster isn’t really as deep as we all anticipated. Doval’s whippy high 90s fastball with cut mixed with a Reyes Moronta-type slider from hell is the best two pitch combo in the system after Adon’s -- when he knows where they’re going. Eric Longenhagen’s description of Doval as the weirdest prospect in baseball still sticks in the mind, but he’s basically the prototype of the 10,000 or so explosive bullpen pieces dominating MLB games these days. With his stuff, he doesn’t have to get all the rawness out to be a productive major leaguer (think Kyle Crick).
Dark Horse Prospect:
KEVIN: Logan Baldwin. I’m a big mark for a prospect who hustles, and when I saw Augusta play, Baldwin’s hustle won me over. His offensive output was inconsistent in Augusta, with a .699 OPS and 149 strikeouts in 121 at-bats, but he brings decent power and baserunning to the table and showed much more output in Salem-Keizer in 2017. He won a minor league gold glove as Augusta’s right fielder, though, so he brings that to the table as well.
ROGER: Manuel Geraldo. I’m not completely sold on Geraldo’s range at SS, but he’s athletic enough to move around the infield with soft hands and strong arm, is a switch hitter who’s just starting to grow into his body enough to impact a baseball, and has some of the most playable speed in the organization, having stolen 52 bases over the last two seasons. There’s a path to majors for a player of that description. Geraldo, who has been an All Star in each of the past two seasons (Northwest League in 2017 and Sally in 2018), is just coming into his own as a prospect and could have a very bright future.
Most Exciting Prospect:
KEVIN: Heliot Ramos. Ramos has an incredible ceiling when you get to watch him play. On the back fields of the Dodgers farm, I was telling a Dodger fan about him, and his first reply was “He doesn’t look like a center fielder”. But after mashing a home run off Kenley Jansen and running in the field, that guy changed his mind. Ramos has a long way to go before reaching his ceiling, but it is fun to watch him play.
ROGER: Heliot Ramos. Scouts who had seen Ramos play each of the past two years felt his speed lost a full grade in 2018, so it’s possible that the speed part of his power/speed combo won’t make it all the way up the development hill. But for right now, he’s still the toolsy kid to dream on: power enough to hit a majestic blast and jog around the bases; fast enough to shoot one into the gap and speed to a triple. And even without being a true burner his speed plays in CF thanks to a good feel for reads and routes. Behind Heliot, Malique Ziegler is on a short list of the system’s fastest players and has some sneaky pop in his bat as well.
Most Surprising Assignment:
KEVIN: David Villar. The Giants didn’t skip many guys from Salem-Keizer to San Jose this year. There’s Joey Bart, Kyle McPherson, and David Villar. Villar has tremendous power potential, with 13 in 56 games at S-K, but his .279 average and .332 OBP had me thinking he’d be ticketed to Augusta. (He was also born in Atlanta, so maybe being near home would’ve been nice for him.) Villar will get challenged by California League pitching, but with its parks, he could have a huge power year.
ROGER: San Jose is another level where the surprises are in the omissions (particularly Sean Hjelle). Kevin’s once again right that Villar is the call here, as really the only mildly surprising assignment. But I’ll go ahead and give a big ol’ softie answer and say Jean Angomas is an extremely welcome surprise on the San Jose roster. Angomas, as you may recall, suffered a violent collision in the OF with Ramos back in early May of 2018 (a disturbing incident that I witnessed in person). After being hauled off of the field in an ambulance, Jean had never returned to the field and I feared his playing days might be over. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to hear that he was back in action this spring and to once again see his name on an active roster. Looking good, Jean!
Who Will Be Better Than You Think:
KEVIN: Frank Rubio. Rubio was looking fantastic as Augusta’s closer before getting moved to San Jose, and then had a 5.52 ERA in San Jose in 24 appearances. Like Doval, he had a couple of really bad games, including one where he gave up 8 runs without an out. The 6’ 29th round draft pick from 2017 should bounce back strong, though he likely will be behind Doval in the San Jose bullpen.
ROGER: Ryan Kirby. Kirby needs to lift that average up over the .250 line, but once again, here’s one of the few guys in the system who really controls the strike zone. Over his first three seasons, Kirby’s consistently delivered a 10% walk rate, and he has the power to do damage when he finds a pitch to his liking. Obviously there are improvements to make here, but a discriminating eye and a power swing isn’t a bad combo to start with. Also, Kirby’s got the smoothest 1b glove in the org after Brandon Belt.
Who Should You Be Paying Attention To:
KEVIN: Bryce Johnson. Honestly, there’s a lot of guys here I could mention, but I’ll go with the speedy Johnson. Johnson had 25 steals in 57 games at Salem-Keizer in 2017, and in 2018 had 31 with San Jose, although he struggled at the plate. If his second season at San Jose has him bounce back, he could easily get to 60 steals, and even higher.
ROGER: Jose Marte. I’ve been beating Marte’s drum for awhile now but so far my bandwagon is a pretty lonely place. Marte blows 95-97 mph heat from a starter’s role and pairs it with a breaking ball that can be plenty nasty though needs to come with more consistency. Like Adon, he’s most likely going to succeed ultimately from a relief role which might bring a tick up of that fastball, but who knows how much longer we’ll even have starters anyway.
Other Team Notes: On Twitter, Joe Ritzo named the initial SJ rotation as Caleb Barager, John Gavin, Alfred Gutierrez, Jose Marte, and Aaron Phillips…Gutierrez was a free agent signing from Detroit, who had a great High-A year for them but struggled in Double-A and Triple-A. He’s only 23, and is back in High-A, for now…John Gavin, Joey Marciano and Rubio were all pitchers who looked great in Augusta but struggled after midseason promotions to San Jose last season. It will be interesting to see how they do.
John Russell features a career K9 of 11.50 despite barely breaking 90 on a good day with his fastball. Two different nasty breaking balls have befuddled low level hitters. We’ll see if he can keep that going as the hitters get more advanced. Former Iowa JC star Malique Ziegler was off to an excellent start in 2018 before a core muscle injury derailed his season. Though the opening day assignment didn’t happen, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Sean Hjelle and even Jake Wong play major roles for the 2019 San Jose season. Sandro Fabian is currently listed on Giants’ Medical roster, and didn’t spend any of spring working with A+ ball group as far as I can ascertain. Not sure what the issue is with him but expect him to be in XST for awhile.
Quick update: Alfred Gutierrez now headed to Richmond. RHP Carlos Sano to San Jose instead. Article has been updated with new SJ roster. https://t.co/pimq7POsr8— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) March 30, 2019
This changes nothing really, but just for efficiency’s sake, now you know!