Monday, November 23, 2015

Down on the Farm: 2011 Giants Draft Review

The recent 40 man roster adds of mostly players from the 2011 draft got me to thinking about doing a full review of those drafts to see where the players are at this point in their careers.  2011 was the year the Giants drafted Joe Panik in the first round, #29 overall, to much laughter and eye rolling among commentators on the MLB channel.  The pick was savaged by other analysts such as Keith Law of ESPN who famously called Joe a "utility infielder at best".   Here's the Giants complete draft list from 2011 excluding players who ended up not signing.  We'll list them by round with the highest level reached and their 2015 stats if they are still playing:

Round 1(#29):  Joe Panik, SS, St Johns.  MLB:  .312/.378/.455, 8 HR, 100 games.  Panik was in the middle of a tremendous season having earned 4.2 fWAR points by just past the halfway mark when he was stricken with a back injury that never completely healed.  Projected to 160 games, he was on a pace for a 6+ fWAR season which would have made him the top 2B in MLB by a safe margin.  He has earned 5.8 fWAR points in just over a full season's worth of PA's over 2 seasons.  On top of that, the Giants probably do not win the 2014 WS without him as his stellar play at 2B down the stretch was an immense help in securing a Wild Card spot and then there was his possibly game-saving play in Game 7 of the WS.  This draft would already be a success if no one else but Joe Panik reached the major leagues!  The challenge going forward is keeping the back healthy.  2016 will be a pivotal year in that regard.

Round 1(S):  Kyle Crick, RHP, HS.  AA:  3-4, 3.29, 63 IP, 10.43 K/9, 9.43 BB/9.  Cricky still has the fantastic stuff, but has struggled with his control.  Moving to the bullpen helped some, but he was still wild.  Added to the 40 man roster, the Giants have clearly not given up on him.  Ceiling is an elite closer or a #1/2 SP, but the bust potential is definitely there.

Round 2:  Andrew Susac, C, Oregon St.  MLB:  .218/.279/.368, 3 HR in 148 PA.  Susac struggled all season with a bad wrist and finally ended up having surgery early this offseason.  He's a terrific hitter when fully healthy and an adequate defensive catcher with room to improve.  As with all catchers, his future depends largely on being able to stay healthy.

Round 3:  Ricky Oropesa, 1B, USC.  AA:  .254/.311/.424, 17 HR in 499 PA.  Ricky has struggled mightily at AA.  His 17 HR's were tied for 3'rd in the EL, but most of them came in 2 hot streaks.  He's hoping for an assignment to Sacramento in 2016 where the PCL may feel more like home to the California kid.

Round 4:  Bryce Bandilla, LHP, Arizona.  DNP 2015.  Status unclear.  Bandilla was the first of a string of hard throwing college relievers taken in this draft.

Round 5:  Chris Marlowe, RHP, Oklahoma St.  Last played 2013, High A.

Round 6:  Josh Osich, LHP, Oregon St.  MLB:  2-0, 2.20, 28.2 IP, 8.48 K/9, 2.51 BB/9.  Started the season in AA, spent just a couple of game in AAA then made in immediate impact in the Giants bullpen with a mid-high 90's FB and a wicked change up.  Odds on favorite to make the 2016 Opening Day 25 man roster as Jeremy Affledt's replacement.

Round 7:  Ray Black, RHP, Pitt.  High A:  2-1, 2.88, 18.36 K/9, 9.00 BB/9.  Black routinely hit triple digits out of the SJ bullpen then lit up the guns in the Arizona Fall League topping out at 104 MPH.  A strange midseason trial as a SP did not work out.  His future is in the bullpen and could arrive in 2016.  The BB's are worrisome as is his injury history, but he's been mostly healthy for 2 seasons now and he does have stretches with apparently good control of the strike zone.

Round 8:  Jean Delgado, SS HS PR.  Last played 2013 Short Season.

Round 9:  Derek Law, RHP, JC.  AA:  0-1, 4.56, 25.2 IP, 11.22 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 13 Saves.  Coming off TJ surgery, the ERA was a bit disappointing, but the K and BB ratios look great.  Look for a big breakout in 2016.

Round 10.  Kentrell Hill, OF, Ark. Baptist.  Last played 2013 Short Season.

Round 11.  Christian Diaz, OF, HS PR.  Last played 2012 Rookie.

Round 12.  Kelby Tomlinson, SS, Texas Tech.  MLB:  .303/.358/.404, 2 HR, 5 SB 193 PA.  Tomlinson had to stand in the gap when Joe Panik went down and did so admirably.  He started out shaky on defense but improved immensely with a little experience.  At the plate, he just kept pecking away and was one of the toughest outs in the lineup all the way to the end of the season.  Will likely be the #1 utility IF to start 2016.

Round 14:  Garrett Buechele, 3B, Oklahoma.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 16:  Clayton Blackburn, RHP, HS.  AAA:  10-4, 2.85, 123 IP, 7.24 BB/9, 2.34 BB/9.  Blackburn has worked his way up the organizational ladder.  He got himself into tremendous shape for the 2015 season and is paid off with the top SP performance in the entire PCL by a wide margin.  Not much left to prove in the minors.  Some analysts question whether he has the stuff to be more than a back-end SP in the majors. Hey! You never know until you try!

Round 17:  Paul Davis, RHP, Florida Atlantic.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 18:  Cristian Otero, SS, HS PR.  Last played 2012, Short Season.

Round 19:  Cody Hall, RHP, Southern.  MLB:  0-0, 6.48, 8.1 IP, 7.56 K/9, 4.32 BB/9.  Had a 3.46 ERA in AAA.  The hard throwing RHP showed flashes of brilliance in a brief MLB callup in September.  Will compete for a bullpen spot in the spring, but will likely start the season in AAA.

Round 20:  Mitchell Beacom, LHP, UCLA.  Last played 2012 High A.

Round 21:  Cameron McVey, RHP, Biola.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 23:  Jonathan Jones, 3B, Canada JC.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 24:  Keith Bilodeau, RHP, Maine.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 25:  Demondre Arnold, RHP, JC.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 26:  Joe Biagini, RHP, UC Davis.  AA:  10-7, 2.42, 130.1 IP, 5.80 K/9, 2.35 BB/9.  Big Joe had something of a breakout season in 2015 although some would scoff at the low K rate.  He throws hard and tries to induce weak contact.   Was left unprotected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft and I could see some team taking a flyer on him, although the Giants have not had a player selected in the Rule 5 draft since Joe Paterson a long time ago.

Round 27:  Jack Snodgrass, LHP, Austin Peay St.  AAA:  1-2, 4.84, 27.1 IP, 8.06 K/9, 4.84 BB/9.  Tall lefty.  Could still emerge in a second AAA season.  Most likely ceiling is MLB lefty specialist.

Round 28:  Tyler Mizenko, RHP, Winthrop.  AA:  4-3, 1.98, 50 IP, 5.04 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 4 Saves.  Was a closer at lower levels, but probably does not K enough to close at higher levels.  He's an extreme GB pitcher who could thrive as a long-middle reliever.

Round 29:  Eldred Barnett, OF, Grambling St.  Last played 2012 Rookie.

Round 31:  Phil McCormick, LHP, Missouri.  AA:  4-3, 2.04, 57.1 IP, 5.97 K/9, 3.30 BB/9, 5 Saves.  Lefty reliever who can go more than 1 inning.  Held his own in the AFL.  Let's see what he can do in the big bad PCL!

Round 32:  Mike Mergenthaler, OF, Richmond.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 34:  Ben Thomas, 1B, Xavier.  Last played 2012, Low A.

Round 35:  Shawn Payne, OF, Georgia Southern.  Last played 2014 High A.

Round 38:  Brian Nicholson, 1B, Concordia.  Last played 2012 Short Season.

Round 41:  Steven Neff, LHP, South Carolina.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 42:  Danny Sandbrink, RHP, Stanford.  Last played 2014 High A.

Round 43:  Drew Stiner, C, HS.  Last played 2013 Rookie.

Round 44:  Travious Relaford, SS, JC.  Low A: .237/.313/.292.  Hit with a 50 game suspension early this offsetseason which he will have to serve at the start of the 2016 season. Future was already on shaky ground.

Round 45:  Brian Maloney, LHP, Franklin Pierce.  Last played 2011 Short Season.

Round 46:  Elliott Blair, OF, Oklahoma.  Last played 2014 AA.

Round 48:  Jake Smith, RHP, Campbell.  High A:  4-4, 2.35, 84.1 IP 12.59 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, 16 Saves. Workhorse reliever for the great SJ bullpen in 2015.  Added to the 40 man roster a few days ago.  Looking to become a late round success story.

So there you have it.  This draft would be a success if no one else made the majors except Joe Panik.  In fact, 4 others have already played in the major leagues with Tomlinson, Osich and Susac making significant contributions.  4 others, Smith, Blackburn, Law and Black are on the 40 man roster and appear to be well on their way to MLB careers.  If Panik can stay healthy and just a couple more make it to the majors, this has a chance to be one of the all-time great Giants drafts.  This draft demonstrates the importance of competing for each round of the draft.  All it takes is finding 1 or 2 extra MLB players out of every draft class and you have established a significant competitive advantage over teams that stop paying attention after the first round.

Hot Stove Update: Dodgers to Name Dave Roberts Manager

When Don Mattingly and the Dodgers parted ways after yet another early Dodgers exit from the postseason, it seemed to be a slam dunk the job would go to Gabe Kapler.  Kapler had ties to Andrew Friedman going back to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Kapler spent most of his career playing for SABR-conscious organizations and is an unabashed apologist for SABR-driven decisionmaking.  Friedman hired him away from a TV commentary job to run the Dodgers player development program.  Early reports had Kapler as the runaway favorite to inherit the Manager's Office in Dodger Stadium with any interview process being a mere formality.

Reports I've read have the Dodger's ownership group insisting that the interview process be real and that a genuine search for the best man for the job take place.  They did, in fact, interview a wide range of candidates from Kapler to Bud Black to Darren Erstad, the former Angel who is now the head coach at Nebraska.  As the process narrowed the field, Kapler remained the apparent frontrunner, but another name kept progressing along with him.  Dave Roberts is well known to NL West fans for his playing stints with the Dodgers, Giants and Padres.  The most famous moment of his playing career was during a partial season with the Red Sox in 2004 when his SB helped the BoSox come from behind to beat the Yankees in the NLCS.  In his post-playing career, he has mostly coached for the Padres as a 1B and Bench coach. He was successfully treated for Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2010.  

Yesterday, after the Dodgers Manager search process narrowed down to Kapler and Roberts, it was announced that Roberts won the job and would be introduced at a formal news conference after Thanksgiving.  As a Giants fan, I hate to say I think the Dodgers made the right choice here.  I don't know too much about Dave Roberts, but he's always been seen as a team leader and a smart baseball player.  His on-field demeanor both as a player and coach suggests to me that he is simultaneously intense while being soft spoken and patient.  It may be significant that he played under Bruce Bochy in San Diego and followed Boch to San Francisco at the end of his playing career.

While Kapler is obviously knowledgeable about the game, I found his style on TV broadcasts to suggest that he may be a better talker than listener.  His intense promotion and defense of SABR principles may play well in the short term, but could wear very thin in a clubhouse over time.  Dave Roberts is the best man for the Dodgers Manager job.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Down on the Farm: AFL Review

The Scottsdale Scorpions won the AFL title by winning the 1 game playoff against the Surprise Saguaros 6-4 with the help of 4 Giants farmhands who appeared in the game:

Christian Arroyo, SS:  2 for 5, 2 Runs.  Arroyo also made a sliding catch of a flyball in foul territory to end the game.

Mac Willliamson, OF:  2 for 5, 3B, Run, RBI.  Big Mac hit a triple up the R-CF alley to drive in Arroyo.

Ray Black, RHP:  1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  No word on his velocity in the championship game.

Phil McCormick, LHP:  0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Overall, the Giants had 7 prospects participate in the AFL this year and all had performances that should enhance their prospect status:

Mac Williamson:  .370/.442/.493, 2 HR, 11 BB, 11 K, 73 AB.  For a guy his size, Big Mac has always been able to control the strike zone.  No exception here.  I, for one, am hoping the Giants do not make a big, longterm commitment to the LF this offseason as I think Big Mac is just about ready and can be a devastating offensive force for the Giants.

Christian Arroyo:  .308/.360/.487, 3 HR, 4 BB, 14 K's in 78 AB.  Good think Arroyo is only 20 yo and has yet to play at AA, because if he had experience in the upper minors, the Giants would have one heckuva roster issue on their hands.  Still a bit unclear where he is going to end up playing in the majors, but with the bat, he'll definitely play somewhere.

Austin Slater:  .250/.338/.338, 10 BB, 19 K's in 68 AB.  Slater started slow but finished strong hitting .286 over his last 10 games out of 19.  Again, not sure where he's going to play in MLB or when, but he's already more than held his own at AA.  Could stand to work on hitting for power a bit more.

Adalberto Mejia:  2-2, 3.48, 31 IP, 14 BB, 26 K's.  Mejia also started slow, but came on strong in his last 3 starts putting up a composite line of 12.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB, 13 K's.

Dan Slania:  1-0, 2.25, 12 IP, 4 BB, 15 K's.  Big Dan quietly had a very good AFL.  Should move up to AA for 2016.

Ray Black:  0-2, 2.00, 9 IP, 6 BB, 16 K's.  Black made headlines by consistently hitting triple digits on the radar guns, topping out at 104 MPH.  His command was shaky at the start, but he ironed that out down the stretch.  We could very well see him throwing that bad boy in SF in 2016.

Phil McCormick:  0-0, 4.15, 8.2 IP, 4 BB, 6 K's.  McCormick is a lefty who has the feel of someone who might be better as a starter.  Or, he could end up as a pure lefty specialist.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hot Stove Update: The 40 Man Roster Is Full!

It's that time of year again.  Teams that want to protect players who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft have to either put the players in their 40 man MLB roster or expose them to the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft.  For those who are not familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, minor league players who were drafted prior to age 19 and who have 5 years or minor league service time OR players drafted at age 19 or above who have 4 years of minor league service time can be drafted by another MLB team.  That player then has to stay on the 25 man active MLB roster for the entire next season or be offered back to the team he was drafted from.  There are also minor league phases of the Rule 5 Draft which allow organizations to protect more players, but that is complicated to explain, although the Giants have been more active in the minor league phases in recent years.  Players drafted in the minor league phase do not have to be kept at any certain level and do not have to be offered back to the team they were drafted from.

So, the players who potentially needed to be protected this year included players drafted before their 19'th birthday in the 2011 draft or before and players drafted at age 19 or above in the 2012 draft or before.  The deadline for protecting players by adding them to the 40 man roster was yesterday at 5:00 PM EST.  As usual, the Giants waited until the last minute to announce their additions.  Usually teams like to leave at least 2 or 3 spaces open on the 40 man roster this early in the Hot Stove season so they have room to add free agents who may sign later on.  The Giants had 8 spots open on their 40 man roster. Somewhat surprisingly, they added 8 Rule 5 eligible minor leaguers at the deadline, all pitchers:

Clayton Blackburn
Ty Blach
Chris Stratton
Adalberto Mejia
Kyle Crick
Steven Okert
Ian Gardeck
Jake Smith

Some eligible players who got left off include Martin Agosta, Mitch Delfino, Ben Turner, Joe Biagini and Jason Forjet.

So what happens when and if the Giants sign a free agent?  They have made it quite clear that they are in the FA market for at least 1 pitcher and possibly 2.  They are also probably looking for at least 1 OF. First of all, they could fill their needs via trade using players currently on the 40 man roster.  They could also wait until after the Rule 5 draft on the last day of the Winter Meetings to sign a FA then try to sneak one of these players through waivers.  They also could drop a couple of arbitration-eligible players who they may not want to tender contracts to such as Yusmeiro Petit and Hector Sanchez.  You certainly have to think that the Giants are not planning on taking anyone in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft this year!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hot Stove Update: Cameron Maybin Gets Traded, But Not To the Giants

The Hot Stove flickered to life today with several relatively minor trades.  Probably the biggest involved Cameron Maybin who the Braves unloaded to his first pro organization, the Detroit Tigers.  Billy Beane swung into action by dealing Jesse Chavez to the BJ's and the Astros shipped Jonathan Villar to the Brewers for a pitching prospect who looks somewhat promising.  Here's the rundown:

Tigers get:   Cameron Maybin- .267/.327/.370, 10 HR, 23 SB.  Maybin had been linked to some Giants speculation.  It is unlikely that he will duplicate even these mediocre offensive numbers in a stadium like Comerica Park, let alone AT&T.  I was surprised to find that his Fangraphs defensive metrics were slightly negative last year.  I'm happy to let Detroit have him.  If the Giants really want a defense-first CF, Austin Jackson would be a better player for them.

Braves get:  LHP Ian Krol- MLB 2-3, 5.79, 28 IP, 5.46 BB/9, 8.36 K/9.  RHP Gabe Speier A+  4-2, 2.86, 44 IP, 2.45 BB/9, 7.36 K/9.  Braves get a couple lottary tickets in return for dumping Maybin and his contract, which isn't a terrible contract.  It does seem like the Braves are tanking the upcoming season to get another high draft pick.

Grades:  Tigers- C.  Braves- D-


Blue Jays get Jesse Chavez, RHP, 32 yo.  7-15, 4.18, 157 IP, 2.75 BB/9, 7.80 K/9.  Not sure what the BJ's are thinking here.  Do they really think Chavez is going to maintain those numbers pitching in Toronto and the AL East, let alone improve on them?

A's get Liam Hendricks, RHP, 27 yo.  5-0, 2.92, 64.2 IP, 1.53 BB/9, 9.88 K/9.  2015 was admittedly a breakout season for Hendricks, which he might not duplicate again, but a return of Chavez does not exactly seem like taking advantage of selling high.

Grades:  Blue Jays- D.  A's- B+.


Brewers get:  Jonathan Villar, SS, 25 yo.  .284/.339/.414, 2 HR, 7 SB, 128 PA.  Villar was pushed aside in Houston by Carlos Correa, but those are not terrible numbers and he is still young enough to have some upside.  He is a slightly below average defensive SS.  Can start out as a utility guy in Milwaukee with opportunity to move up.

Astros get:  Cy Sneed, RHP, 21 yo.  Low A:  3-7, 2.68, 77.1 IP, 1.98 BB/9, 7.80 K/9.  High A:  3-4, 2.47, 62 IP, 1.60 BB/9, 7.98 K/9.  Exceptional command for a pitcher this young.  Not sure what kind of stuff he has.  Not a bad return for the Astros for a guy they did not have room for anymore.  BTW, I wonder if he gets any ribbing over his first name?

Grades:  Brewers B.  Astros B.

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Hector Olivera

Hector Olivera is no spring chicken.  He will turn 31 years old on 4/5/2016.  He still has rookie eligibility.  If you recall, he's the Cuban defector with an injury history who the Dodgers threw some money at about a year ago.  The Braves got him in the trade that sent Alex Wood and some salaries to the Dodgers.  Olivera ended up playing for 7 different teams in the 2 organizations ending with an 87 PA sting in the major leagues.  The most outstanding thing about Olivera is he looks dang good in a baseball uniform!  Beyond that, things are not as clear.  He showed some flashes of brilliance in his pro debut, but nothing to make you want to draft him in your fantasy draft except in the deepest of leagues.

He posted a slash line of .272/326/.376 with 5 2B and 2 HR and a 7% BB rate with an interesting 11% K rate in 135 minor league PA's.  In 87 MLB PA's, he slashed a modest .253/.310/.405 line with 4 2B and 2 HR.  His BB% was 5.7 and his K rate was again interesting at 13.8%.

Olivera was 2B in Cuba but is listed as a 3B prospect by BA.  Word is the Braves are moving him to LF.  He is someone you want to keep in eye on in fantasy baseball leagues, but probably do not want to spend a draft pick on him except in the deepest leagues.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thoughts on Two More Things I Would Like To See In the New CBA

I knew there was at least one more item for the CBA when I wrote the original post.  There are actually two:

9.  Allow limited trading of draft picks.  I completely understand why MLB does not allow the trading of draft picks.  I mean, can you imagine the Brian Sabean of the 1990's with unlimited trading of draft picks?  He might have unloaded every single pick for a whole decade on one trade!  I do think the time has come to allow limited trading of draft picks.  I would limit it to only the upcoming draft.  You would have to wait until draft positions are finalized, then have a "window" from that point in which teams could trade their draft picks through the end of the draft.

10.  No loss of draft picks when signing a free agent.  I would still award a compensatory pick to teams losing a star FA and you could still use the QO to determine which teams get compensation, but the signing team should not be penalized for signing a player.  All that accomplishes is unfairly depressing the value of a very few players who are on the edge of being worth their QO.