San Francisco Giants Top Prospects 2013, Part V: 50-60 & Final Thoughts

Continuing on with my list of the Giants’ top prospects entering the 2013 season.  Part I of this series can be found here; Part II here; Part III here; and  Part IV here.

50.  Steven Okert (LHP, 21).  Another big, young Texan, the Giants selected Okert in the 4th round in last year’s Draft.  Okert finished his first professional season, mostly at Class A- Salem-Keizer, with a 2.20 ERA with 28 Ks and 12 walks in 28.2 relief innings pitched.

51.  Carlos Diaz (LHP, 19).  The young Columbian was another top starter for the Giants’ 2012 Dominican Summer League team.  He posted a 2.91 ERA with a pitching line of 80.1 IP, 64 hits and 20 walks allowed and 68 Ks.  I rank Diaz behind Keury Mella (who is ranked 28th on my list) and ahead of Alejandro Flores (all three pitchers are the same age) based mostly on their relative strikeout rates, a key metric for prospects in the low minors.

52.  Joe Biagini (RHP, 23).  The big right-hander was the Giants’ 26th round draft pick in 2011 out of UC Davis.  He split the year between Class A Augusta and Class A- Salem-Keizer and was absolutely pounded at the former, resulting in a 2-8 record and a 5.43 ERA for the season.  However, he struck out 99 batters in 93 innings pitched, which means he has potential if he can improve his command.

53.  Chris Gloor (LHP, 26).  An enormous left-hander (6’6″ and 255 lbs), Gloor was the Giants’ 17th round pick in 2009.  Splitting time as a starter and reliever at AA Richmond in 2012, he had a 2.81 ERA with 74 Ks and 29 walks in 105.2 IP.

After the regular season, Gloor made seven starts in the Arizona Fall League, where he had a 2.70 ERA and struck out 22 while walking 11 in 30 IP.  He’s getting old to be a prospect, but could have a future as a left-handed middle reliever at the major league level.

54.  Brock Bond (2B, 27).  Another sentimental favorite of mine, Bond is getting too old to be a prospect.  However, there really ought to be a major league job for a player who has Bond’s proven ability to get on base.

In 2012, Bond hit .332 with a .422 OBP and .820 OPS in 106 games for the AAA Fresno Grizzlies.  It wasn’t a fluke: Bond had a .397 OBP in 117 games at Fresno in 2010 and .429 OBP in 122 games at AA Connecticut, a very tough place to hit, in 2009 (Bond was hurt in 2011 and missed most of the season).

The Giants have never thought highly of the former 24th round pick, and I assume his defense at 2B is poor.  However, any middle infielder who gets on base like Bond should be at least a bench player in the major leagues.

55.  Gabriel Cornier (C, 21).  Another of the Giants’ young Venezuelan catchers, Cornier hit .319 with a .394 OBP and .823 OPS in 31 games for the Rookie League Arizona Giants.  He strikes out too much but has had consistently high on-base percentages during his professional career.

56.  Andrew Leenhouts (LHP, 23).  Leenhouts pitched at the Rookie Arizona League in 2012, and he was a old for this league.  However, last year’s 23rd round pick struck out 60 batters in 37 innings pitched, which suggests he’s got good stuff.

57.  Jackson Williams (C, 27).  Another player who is getting too old to be considered a prospect, I include Williams on my list because he was once a first-round draft pick (43rd overall in 2007), and he finally hit a little bit for the first time in his professional career at AAA Fresno in 2012.  Specifically, Williams hit .247 with a .281 OBP and a .698 OPS, thanks mainly to 11 home runs slugged.

Not impressive, but Williams is probably the best defensive catcher in the Giants’ system, so he could yet have a reasonably successful career as a back-up catcher in the majors.  If nothing else, he’s probably better than Eli Whiteside was the three seasons from 2009 through 2011 Whiteside held the Giants’ back-up catcher slot.

58.  Mitch Lively (RHP, 27).  Also getting up there in age, Lively had a fine year in the bullpen for the AAA Grizzlies.  He went 8-4 with a 2.99 ERA and pitching line of 78.1 IP, 65 hits and 23 walks allowed and 69 strikeouts.  At hitter-friendly Fresno in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, that’s extremely close to being a major league caliber pitcher.  Lively also pitched extremely well in 2011 (2.14 ERA, 71 Ks in 71.1 IP).

59.  Luis Pin0 (RHP, 18).   A prospect born in Mexico, Pino made six appearances and five starts in the Dominican Summer League this year at age 17.  His 3.54 ERA was not particularly impressive, but he struck out 28 batters while walking only 9 in 28 innings of work.  He has a long, long way to go, but he clearly knows how to pitch at a young age.

60.  Justin Fitzgerald (RHP, 27).  The Giants’ 11th round pick in 2008, Fitzgerald is old for a prospect who has yet to pitch in AAA.  However, Fitzgerald has had consecutive solid seasons as a starter at AA Richmond.  In 2012, he had a 3.22 ERA with a pitching line of 164.2 IP, 134 hits and 60 walks allowed and 130 Ks.

Most likely, Fitzgerald’s best future lies in South Korea’s KBO and Japan’s NPB, but if things break right for him, who knows?

Now that I’ve listed my top 60 prospects, a few words about the players who didn’t make the top 60.

First, as a team with a strong likelihood of making the post-season, the Giants’ AAA club, the Fresno Grizzlies is loaded with older players who can help immediately if someone gets hurt in San Francisco.  These players include Emmanuel Burriss, Brett Pill, Dan Otero and Yusmiero Petit, all of whom will be 28 in 2013.

I just don’t consider players this old to be “prospects” any more, although the likelihood that one or more of them will make meaningful contributions to the 2013 and 2014 Giants is fairly high and certainly much higher than many or most of the players identified as prospects in this series.  You have to draw the line somewhere, and if a player is older than 27 in 2013, I say he just isn’t a “prospect” anymore, except in exceptional circumstances.

Another notable omission is Wendell Fairley, the 29th overall pick of the 2007 Draft.  After a strong but hardly awe-inspiring season at Class A+ San Jose in 2010 at age 22, Fairley hasn’t proven he can hit AA pitching in either of the last two seasons.  Fairley played only 60 games in 2012, 13 of which were in the Rookie Arizona League, which suggests that Fairley was injured last season, although I couldn’t find any record of an injury in a cursory internet search.

At any rate, Fairley will be 25 in 2013, and with a .613 OPS in 235 AA plate appearances so far in his professional career, I won’t consider him a prospect again until he actually proves he can hit in the high minors.

I also omitted Martin Agosta, the Giants’ 2nd round pick last year (84th overall), because he just hasn’t done much yet as a professional.  In 10.2 innings pitched in the Rookie Arizona League, Agosta struck out 19, but also walked nine and had a 4.22 ERA.  Even though I gave credit to prospects for being drafted high, Agosta just didn’t give me enough to go on.

The last high round pick to mention is Chris Dominguez, the Giants’ 3rd round pick in 2009 (86th overall).  He recently turned age 26, and in a 2012 season roughly split between AA Richmond and AAA Fresno he hit .235 with a .590 OPS.  ‘Nuff said.

I also omitted 25 year old lefty Eric Surkamp.  He looked great in 2011, but he’s coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2012 season.  Better to wait and see how he comes back from the surgery.

Finally, the Giants spent piles of money in 2012 to sign young Latin prospects Gustavo Cabrera and Nathaniel Javier.  However, neither played in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, so at this point there’s just no way to know whether or not the money was well spent.  Hopefully, we’ll have some idea a year from now.

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2 Comments on “San Francisco Giants Top Prospects 2013, Part V: 50-60 & Final Thoughts”

  1. Bill Vogel Says:

    I’ve been a fan of Jackson Williams (C) in Richmond, VA (AA – Flying Squirrels). When he throws to 2nd base (or anywhere) he throws lasers … and accurately. He’s a smart defensive player, always knows the options. He became a better hitter when he began using a tad lighter bat. His control became sharper. Best wishes to him.

    • Burly Says:

      I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on other players you’ve seen play at AA Richmond the last two seasons. Go Flying Squirrels!

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