Archive for the ‘San Francisco Giants’ category

San Francisco Giants Squeeze the College Seniors

June 19, 2019

In the 2019 amateur draft the Giants selected college seniors Simon Whiteman of Yale and Jeff Houghtby of the University of San Diego with in the ninth and tenth rounds.  It’s not unusual for the Giants to draft college seniors, but it appears clear that these two were selected solely because the Giants had prior agreements with each of them to accept way less than slot money that the Giants could then direct to some of the high school seniors they selected.

My suspicion was confirmed today (thanks McCovey Chronicles!)  Each of Whiteman and Houghtby signed by $22,500, freeing up $256,000, all of which has already been spent on high schoolers Grant McCray (3rd round), Garrett Frechette (5th), Dilan Rosario (6th) and Trevor MacDonald (11th round).  In fact, the bonuses given to these four youngsters will require the Giants to squeeze at least two of 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks Hunter Bishop, Logan Wyatt and Tyler Fitzgerald to avoid significant penalties even if all other high school draft picks sign for no more than the slot caps.

I don’t really see the downside is squeezing Whiteman or Houghtby, at least in terms of the fact that the Giants probably could have signed better prospects with these two picks.  The odds are slim that any 9th or 10th round draft pick (or both) will ever amount to anything, and the money saved enabled the Giants to sign Trevor MacDonald, generally considered a fifth round talent, who probably has a better chance of amounting to something than any other 9th or 10th rounders the Giants might have drafted combined.

Of course, it remains to be seen if any of the players the Giants selected after Hunter Bishop amount to much at the major league level.  Even Bishop might not make it, but if the 10th overall pick crops up a dud, then something seriously did not go according to plan and opportunity.

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Madison Bumgarner for Clint Frazier?

June 16, 2019

The New York Yankees just sent Clint Frazier down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre in order to create roster space for the newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion.  Frazier is slashing .283/.330/.513 in 209 plate appearances after going 1-for-5 in today’s game, so I can’t imagine he’s happy to be getting sent down when he’s been hitting as well as he has so far in 2019.

Clearly, the Yankees want Frazier to continue to play every day, and he could be called up in a few days if someone in New York gets hurt.  However, it sure seems likely that Frazier will be on the trade block for pitching, and Madison Bumgarner is near the top of lists of starters who are expected to be available this trade season.

Frazier would be a steep price to pay for a two or three month rental of Bumgarner, who becomes a free agent at season’s end, but the Giants could surely throw in a relief pitcher, or something else of value to even out the trade, as well as assuming some of the remaining $4M to $6M owed to Bumgarner this season to address what are likely to be the Yankees’ salary cap concerns.

Obviously, the Giants’ outfield situation would look a whole lot better with the 24 year Frazier and former No. 5 overall draft pick added to the mix.  I’d have no problem seeing the Giants trade away MadBum to get him, since the team can always be in the running to re-sign him in the off-season if they think he can still help the team going forward.

Anticipating Upcoming Giants/Dodgers Trades

June 11, 2019

The one weakness the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers have is that their bullpen isn’t very deep or particularly good.  The one strength the 2019 San Francisco Giants have is their bullpen.  The Dodgers hope to go deep into the post-season; the Giants are obviously going to be sellers at the trade deadline.  Add to all this is the fact that the Giants’ new General Manager Farhan Zaidi came out of the Dodgers’ organization, and one would have to think that there will be at least one trade between the two organizations between now and the July 31st trade deadline.

The obvious bullpen candidates to be traded as of this writing are Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson.  Smith becomes a free agent at the end of the season; Dyson has one more year of control and would be in line for a raise on the $5M he’s making this year through the salary arbitration process; and Watson has a player option at $2.5M, or he can opt out and accept a $500,000 buyout.  None would be particularly expensive as 2+ month rentals.  Both Smith and Watson are lefties, which the Dodgers in particular appear to need.

I could see a package deal with the Bums getting all three in exchange for a package of prospects who would amount to a lot more than what any one of the three relievers would bring alone.  Zaidi must have a good idea of whom in the Dodgers’ system he likes and would want in return.  Hopefully, discussions between the two clubs are already well underway.

As a Giants’ fan, I’m all for hating the the Dodgers, and even in a bad year like this one, beating the Dodgers in some important games in September.  This year, though, it isn’t likely to make any difference, as the Dodgers already have a 10-game lead in the NL West and will probably be leading the division by even more come the end of the season.  If the Giants can get some quality prospects from the Dodgers in this lost season, I wouldn’t mind seeing them trade half the roster to Los Angeles.  At least the Giants would then be in line for another top-ten draft pick in the 2020 June Draft.

San Francisco Giants Acquire Yet Another 4-A Outfielder

June 11, 2019

The Giants today traded for 29 year old outfielder Alex Dickerson from the Padres for 23 year old RHP Franklin Van Gurp, as new Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi seems determined to try to corner the market on not quite major league outfielders.

In theory the Giants have room for another 4-A outfielder now that Mac Williamson is no longer with the organization.  However, I’d rather see Austin Slater or Mike Gerber, both of whom are hitting great at AAA Sacramento and are three years younger, get major league chances before the new warm body Dickerson does.

Dickerson hit well for the Padres as a rookie in 2016, but then he missed all of the next two seasons due to back problems and a torn elbow tendon.  He missed most of the 2014 season to injuries as well.  He hit well in 26 games at AAA El Paso (1.075 OPS), but only 3-for-19 in San Diego.  Who does that sound like?  Basically, every AAA outfielder the Giants have called up this season, claimed in the Rule 5 Draft, claimed off waivers, etc.

Van Gurp is a former 25th round draft pick out of college who has a very live arm.  He’s struck out 174 batters in 128.2 minor league innings pitched, mostly in the low minors.  It remains to be seen if he can find enough command to amount to something, but he’s got the kind of arm the Padres should be happy to get for a player they had designated for assignment before making the trade.

It definitely feels like the Giants are going to continue to cycle through outfielders to see if any can get hot for more than a week or two in San Francisco.  Mike Yastrzemski, after a successful first week of major league games, is already beginning to look like another won’t-ever-be-ready-for-prime-time hitter.  At least he’s building up a resume to get a shot at major league money in Japan or South Korea next year.

The belief is growing stronger and stronger in my heart that Zaidi is secretly committed to the team continuing to tank in 2019 and 2020, in order to get the high draft picks necessary to rebuild a new competitor starting around 2021.  At this point, I don’t much care just how badly the 2019 team plays so long as the team works on developing a new core group of young players as quickly as possible.

My Favorite Minor League Stars 2019

June 8, 2019

Every year I like to write about current or former minor league stars who have particularly captured my attention and/or imagination.  Here is this season’s edition:

Mike Loree and Josh Lowey.  Two pitchers who never reached the major leagues (or even got close), but have carved out professional success because they can pitch.  Both are 34 this year.

Mike Loree is currently in his seventh CPBL season and continues to be the best pitcher in Taiwan, although another former SF Giants farm hand, Henry Sosa, gave Loree a run for his money this season until having his contract purchased for a return to South Korea’s KBO last week.  I wrote about Mike Loree yesterday.

Josh Lowey is in his sixth season in LMB and he is to the Mexican League what Loree is to the CPBL.  Lowey is also 33.  Lowey has started the 2019 LMB season 8-0, and his 3.91, while on its face high, is actually the ninth best in a 16-team circuit known for its offense.  Lowey is now an incredible 63-24 in LMB play, a .724 winning percentage.  Unfortunately, Lowey has missed his last two starts.  He’s on the reserved list, rather than the Injured List, so maybe he’s dealing with a family emergency.

Cyle Hankerd and Blake Gailen.  Two more 34 year oldss who have never reached the MLB majors (or come particularly close) but who can play.  Hankerd, who was once a 3rd Round draft pick out of USC, is in his sixth season in LMB.  He has a 1.011 OPS so far in 2019, although he’s only played in 30 games.

A strong season in the Atlantic League last year got Blake Gailen a job playing for the Dodger’s AAA team in Oklahoma City.  I suspect he’s doing double duty as a coach, whether officially or not, based on the fact that he’s spent a lot of time on the Injured List and is only 3 for 19 when he’s played.  He won’t last much longer on the roster hitting like that, but I expect he’ll go into coaching when they tell him he can’t play any more.

Chris Roberson.  Now in his age 39 season, he’s still the undisputed American King of Mexican baseball.  He’s played nine seasons in LMB and at least 14 seasons in Mexico’s even better winter league (MXPW or LMP).  However, his current .893 OPS isn’t even in the LMB’s top 40 in what has been a great season for hitters south of the border.  If any American is making a good living playing baseball in Mexico, it’s Chris Roberson.

Another Mexican Leaguer who has captured my attention in the last year is Jose Vargas.  Once a 22nd round draft pick out of Ventura College, a JC in Ventura, California, Vargas quickly washed out of the White Sox’ system, after which he spent six (!) playing for the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Indy-A Frontier League.  Traverse City is by most accounts a great place to spend one’s summers; however, it’s hard to imagine being able to have a whole lot of fun on $1,600 a month, which is about where Frontier League salaries max out.

Vargas is big, has power and is able to play 3B, 1B and LF.  After paying his dues in the Frontier League, he was able to catch on with an LMB team in 2017, possibly due to the fact that LMB began treating Mexican American players as “domestic,” rather than “foreign” players for roster purposes around that time.

In his age 31 season, he’s leading LMB with 27 HRs in only 222 plate appearances, and his 1.220 OPS is third best in the league in spite of the fact that he doesn’t walk much.  I’m somewhat doubtful that Vargas is currently making the LMB’s $10,000 salary cap, because his team’s attendance is terrible (just below 2,200 per game), but the odds are good that if he isn’t earning it this year, he’ll get it next year in light of how well he’s now playing.

Karl Galinas .  A 35 year old Can-Am League pitcher, Galinas is the modern day equivalent of Lefty George.  George was a marginal major leaguer who pitched nearly forever in his adopted home town of York, Pennsylvania, where he also ran a bar.

Orlando Roman‘s baseball odyssey may not yet be over.  He’s made nine starts in the Puerto Rico Winter League over the last three winter seasons, so you can’t completely count him from making one or more in 2019-2020.  He pitched professionally for about 20 years in just about every league except the MLB majors.  He’s another pitcher like Mike Loree and Josh Lowey who has leveraged a not quite major league talent into the most successful professional career possible.

A couple of guys in the MLB minors I’m following are Tyler Alexander and John Nogowski.  Tyler Alexander got his start in Brewers’ system but was effectively banished from MLB after testing positive for pot a couple of times while he was having some personal problems.  He spent three years pitching great for Fargo-Moorhead in the American Association and wintering a couple of season in the LMP.

Last year, Alexander pitched effectively in LMB in the summer and in the Dominican League in the winter.  That got him a minor league contract with the A’s, who sent him to AAA Las Vegas.  So far, the results have not been encouraging.  Alexander has a 6.85 ERA after 11 start.  Although he’s struck out 46 batters in 47.1 innings pitched, the long ball has killed him.  I suspect the A’s haven’t yet moved him to the bullpen because they don’t have anyone they reasonably expect to pitch better as a starter in what is probably a terrific hitters’ park.

Last off-season, I thought that Alexander would be a great prospect for Taiwan’s CPBL.  It could still happen, since Alexander will be 28 next season, and isn’t going to last long with a 6.85 ERA at AAA, even in a hitters’ park.

I wrote about John Nogowski two years ago when, after getting bounced out of the A’s system, I noticed he was batting over .400 in the American Association at the still young age of 24.  I “predicted” he’d get signed by another MLB organization soon, and he was within about a week by the Cardinals’ organization.  More importantly, John wrote a comment on my article, becoming the first and so far only active professional player ever to comment on one of my articles.  Needless to say, I’ll be a fan of John’s for life.

Nogowski played well at AA Springfield in in 2018 and is playing fairly well this season at AAA Memphis at age 26.  He’s currently slashing .267/.402/.400.  He’s got major league get-on-base skills, but doesn’t have the power he needs for the position he plays (1B).  His talents might be more suited to Japan’s NPB, where the outfield fences are a little shorter.

At any rate, there’s still a chance that Nogowski could get a major league look this year, if things break right for him.  Unfortunately, he’s not currently on the Cards’ 40-man roster, which means he’ll have to get truly hot at AAA Memphis to bump somebody else off.

Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos Update

June 6, 2019

I’m pleased to say that both Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos have recovered from their injuries and are back in the line up for the San Jose Giants.

Bart played his first game back yesterday.  He went 2 for 3 with a home run, three runs scored and three driven in. So no ill effects so far from the broken bone in his hand.

Heliot Ramos has been back for seven games now in which he’s gone 12 for 26 with a couple of home runs.  Again, no ill effects from his month-long layoff dealing with a knee strain.

With the Giants looking more or less awful this year, fans need to know that at least the young prospects are developing apace.

2019 San Francisco Giants Draft Picks, Rounds 26-40

June 6, 2019

Down and dirty with the last 15 of the Giants’ draft picks in 2019:

Round 26 (776th overall).  RHP Nick Avila.  Yet another college senior, Avila is at least still only age 21.  Avila had a 3.99 ERA with 38 Ks in 56 IP this season for Long Beach State.

Round 27 (806th).  SS Connor Beichler.  A high schooler out of Oklahoma, he needs to get bigger, but he runs well and can play center field as well as the middle infield.  He is committed to U of Oklahoma.

Round 28 (836th). RHP Reese Sharp.  A high schooler out of Indiana, Sharp has a pitcher’s body (6’3″, 225 lbs).  He is committed to Indiana U, where he may also play other positions.

Round 29 (866th).  RHP Brooks Crawford.  Crawford pitched pretty well for Clemson as a junior, but his senior year was awful (6.28 ERA), suggesting he may have had some kind of an injury, probably lower back problems.  He may end up as a reliever, as he pitched his best in college in a relief role his sophomore season.

Round 30 (896th).  RHP Justin Crump.  Another 23 year old college senior, Crump had a 3.48 ERA with 34 Ks but 18 BBs in 20.2 IP as a reliever for UNC Wilmington this season.

Round 31 (926th).  RHP Tyler Wyatt. A small right-hander, Wyatt is listed as a pitcher, but mostly played the infield during his four years at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.  He was actually a decent college hitter, recording a .366 career on-base percentage, but didn’t have much power.  I have to assume that Giants will develop him as an infielder no matter how mlb.com has him listed.

Round 32 (956th).  CF Dylan Brewer.  A high schooler from South Carolina, Brewer is committed to Clemson.

Round 33 (986th).  2B Nolan Dempsey.  Another former Serra High product, Dempsey had a good senior year for the Fresno State Bulldogs, slashing .343/.395/.552.  He doesn’t walk much but gets hit by a lot of pitches.

Round 34 (1016th).  RF Morgan Colopy.  An Ohio high schooler, he’s described as “nice tools to follow.”  He’ll probably be playing for University of Cincinnati next year.

Round 35 (1046th).  SS Brooks Lee.  Brooks was rated by mlb.com as its 37th best prospect coming out of San Luis Obispo Senior High School.  He has elected to pass up a possible $2 million signing bonus to play for Cal Poly, where his father is the baseball coach.  The Giants presumably drafted him late in order to generate some future good will.

Round 36 (1076th).  3B Cameron Repetti.  A Southern California high schooler who “has a high ceiling with the bat.”  Repetti will probably be playing for Cal State Fullerton next season.

Round 37 (1106th).  3B Cole Weiss.  Weiss slashed .316/.397/.449 as a college junior after not doing much with the bat his first two college seasons at UNC Wilmington.  One would have to think that Weiss might return for his senior season in order to boost his draft stock for 2020.

Round 38 (1136th).  RHP Will Rigney.  Another high schooler the Giants will almost certainly not sign, Rigney was ranked as this year’s 80th best prospect by mlb.com and 91st by Baseball America.  He has committed to Baylor.

Round 39 (1166th).  LF Chris Lanzilli.  As a soon-to-be 21 year old sophomore at Wake Forest, Lanzilli slashed .350/.415/.667.  Not sure why he would have been drafted so late, except that he plans to return to Wake Forest for his sophomore season.  I don’t know why he’d want to push off his professional career until his age 22 season, though.  The Winston-Salem Journal suggests that Lanzilli’s signing bonus demands were unreasonable.

Round 40 (1196th).  3B Jeff Heinrich.  A 20 year old junior college player, he’s likely to be playing for the South Carolina Gamecocks next year, rather signing with the Giants.