Top 10 prospects for 2010: Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Andrew Lambo / OF / Am I crazy for liking Lambo as much as I do? Most scouts seem to be very down on him due to his mildly disappointing 2009. Sure, his power and plate discipline didn’t take the step forward that I was hoping for, but I’m still a believer that his ability to make contact is good enough for the majors right now. And I’m still a believer that his power potential could result in a 30-home-run prime. He is young enough to pull it off.
2. Chris Withrow / SP / Withrow has overcome some early-career injury concerns to become L.A.’s best pitching prospect. His curveball has the makings of an out pitch, and the natural movement on his fastball is enviable. With some work on his command and change-up, he could become a No. 2 starter.
3. Ethan Martin / SP/RP / Martin has the same fastball/curveball combination that Withrow possesses, but Martin brings more pure velocity to the ballpark. Holding him back, though, is his inconsistent command and questionable endurance. The upside is immense, however.
4. Dee Gordon / SS / In my opinion, Gordon gets too much hype. His speed is game-changing, despite his lack of current baserunning instincts, and his defense will be an asset going forward, but his bat doesn’t do much for me. His swing is inconsistent and I don’t see home run power developing. But he is still raw, and the fact that he put up the numbers that he did in 2009 based on athleticism and tools alone is incredible.
5. Aaron Miller / SP / I was not a fan of L.A.’s selection of Miller in the 2009 draft, mainly due to the fact that he was soon to be 22 years old and just beginning to figure out how to pitch. But his initial numbers have shown much more polish than I was expecting, and his fastball/slider combination has turned heads.
6. Scott Elbert / SP/RP / Elbert has had a couple of opportunities to carve out a place in L.A.’s bullpen, but I think his future still lies in the rotation. He may never have anything more than average command of his fastball/curveball combination, but I still feel that he has the arm and work ethic necessary to be a middle-of-the-rotation stalwart sometime soon.
7. Josh Lindblom / RP/SP / Lindblom doesn’t have the projected out pitch needed to be a closer or top-of-the-rotation starter. But he does have a solid repertoire that is highlighted by his above-average fastball. The question is, will he earn his living as a starter or setup man?
8. Garrett Gould / SP / Gould has good projection in his right arm with a low-90s fastball and a potentially devastating curveball. His mechanics, command, and change-up need some real work, but he has lots of time to straighten everything out.
9. Allen Webster / SP / With some hard work, Webster solidified his delivery and improved his command immensely in 2009. He has an impressive three pitches for a kid just one year removed from high school. Having never pitched beyond rookie ball, he has much to prove.
10. Ivan DeJesus / 2B/SS / DeJesus suffered a lost 2009 season due to a broken leg. His best offensive skills are his plate discipline and contact ability. He has no power to speak of, but he is a solid defender at either shortstop or second base and could have a long career as a pesky hitter who is difficult to strike out and keep off base.

San Francisco Giants

1. Madison Bumgarner / SP / The low strikeout rate in the Eastern League and over-publicized drop in velocity are somewhat concerning, but, beyond that, what more could you ask for in a 20year-old pitcher? His 10 innings of major league work showed that he will not be intimidated at the next level.
2. Buster Posey / C / Posey is a strong all-around catcher with sky-high potential, as his contact skills and power could spell an All-Star future. Bengie Molina could keep him from a deserved full-time catching gig, however.
3. Zack Wheeler / SP / Wheeler sports a low-90s fastball with great movement and has a great shot at increasing his velocity to the mid-90s consistently. His curveball has all the makings of an out pitch, even though his change-up has a long way to go. His command and delivery need some work, but San Francisco has a potential ace on its hands.
4. Thomas Joseph / C/1B / Joseph has some serious raw power, but the inconsistency and holes in his swing leave much to be desired. He may be a true boom-or-bust type, because if his bat can develop fully and he is able to stick at catcher, the Giants may have a star on their hands.
5. Thomas Neal / OF / Neal clobbered California League pitching in 2009, and then proved that his breakout season may not have been a Cal League apparition with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. His plate discipline and contact ability continue to get better, but I want to see how much power he shows in the Eastern League in 2010. Power is ultimately the name of the game for a corner outfielder.
6. Rafael Rodriguez / OF / You can’t expect much more from a 17-year-old than what Rodriguez showed in 2009. He displayed strong contact skills and plenty of raw tools. I’m excited to see if he gets to play full-season ball from the outset in 2010.
7. Nick Noonan / 2B / Noonan didn’t have the breakout that many were expecting, causing him to drop off the radar screens of many scouts. As he’s just 20 years old, I’m giving him more time. With a good combination of skills, he has a chance to be an above-average second baseman.
8. Dan Runzler / RP / No relief prospect was more impressive in 2009 than Runzler. His command still comes and goes at times, but his fastball/curveball combination is built for high-leverage innings.
9. Ehire Adrianza / SS / Adrianza is talented young prospect with the tools to stick at shortstop and impressive plate discipline and contact skills for a player of his age. His questionable power potential is holding him back a bit, however.
10. Brandon Crawford / SS / Roger Kieschnick was a tough player to leave out, but Crawford’s position gave him the edge. His glove looks average but workable at shortstop, meaning his bat could become above average for his position. He has above-average power potential, but he needs to work on being more patient and cleaning up the holes in his swing.

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  1. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Posey does not “deserve” the full-time starting job at catcher.  People forget that MLE’s give a hint of where he is at, and his AAA numbers, while nice if he can duplicate it in the majors, is only OK, at best an average catcher.  He still needs some seasoning, why waste one year of our control so that he can learn at the major league level.

    Regarding Neal and the California League, San Jose is one the most extreme pitcher’s parks around, so the numbers for San Jose hitters are not as puffed up as other Cal League hitters.  Jonathan Mayo did a study a couple of years back that showed that something at SJ causes strikeouts to be the most pronounced in the majors.  Interviews with players noted that the background makes it hard to pick up pitches, resulting in more strikeouts.

    Noonan actually showed great improvement if you look at his monthly splits.  For his career, he was consistently striking out a lot, around 20 per month, with minimal walks, but for the last two months of 2009, not only did he cut his K’s in half, but boosted his BB enough to be around 1.0 ratio for BB/K.  2010 should be his breakout year, given the hype, we all forgot that he’s still only 20 YO.

    FYI, Sabean in a recent conference called Crawford “the shortstop of the future” for the Giants.  Hopefully he can hit in AA this year the way he started in Advanced A last year, and jump to AAA.  If he can do that, he’ll be in line to take over SS job in 2011 or at least battle for it with Burriss.

    Overall, very nice ranking of the Giants prospects and description of their potential and possibilities.  I forgot about Joseph’s potential to be a star at catcher, if he can do that, that would give us the possibility of moving Posey to another position when Joseph is ready, a la how Biggio’s career was managed to save his legs and body.

  2. Sean said...

    Yes, you are a little crazy for liking Lambo that much.  The reason people aren’t that high on him is because he is a LF/1B with very little defensive value and doesn’t have a proven bat.  Yes, he did skip High A, so his struggles given that and his young age can be a little expected, but it’s not like he was a great hitter in the Midwest League either.  You have to have more of a proven bat if you are going to have such little defensive value.  I see no way how he is rated higher then Withrow or Elbert if he is indeed a starter, Elbert just came off a season where he put up 146/51 K/BB in 115.2 IP between AA/AAA/MLB and has always been a top 100 prospect before the injury, I’m not sure how you take a guy who just put up a .717 OPS in LF in AA (despite his age) over that.

  3. Brandon H said...

    Wow, I can’t wait to see your top 50 or 100 rankings. It will be interesting to see where Posey sits after ranking behind Baumgartner. Does that put him outside of the top 20? The top 30?

  4. Seth said...

    Yes.  If Lambo was that good, he woulda been traded for two months of a slightly above-average third baseman by now.

  5. B-Chad said...

    Thrilled to see someone who is as high on Rafael Rodriguez as I am.  Was baffled to see him fall out of BA’s top 10 list.  He still has the projectable tools he had last year, but now he’s displayed the ability to draw walks and a good contact rate in rookie ball.  Nothing to sneeze at IMO considering his age.

  6. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    B-Chad:  good points.  I would also note that he struggled initially then did well his last two months.

    But high contact does not always continue, he has no history, so we don’t know if he was lucky or what.

    Also, hitting was suppose to be his weak point, which is why his performance was heartening, but it was his power that was suppose to be his calling card and he showed very little power at all.  Which is probably why he dropped off the list.

    Don’t worry, he’s only 17 now, and he hasn’t even had his first season yet in full-season ball, so he has plenty of time to spend in the Top 10 Giants prospects.

  7. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Villalona has to drop off the list, if only because he has no visa to enter the US and we still have no idea what is going to happen to him legally.  It is not good that he is still being held, they should not be doing that if they didn’t have some evidence.

    However, given that a San Jose Mercury expose showed that up to a third of all cases tried in Santa Clara trials had instances of prosecutors trying innocent people, one will never know whether Villalona is innocent or not, if they should release him for lack of evidence (which will be hard to get after he reportedly paid off the family, which is not a sign of guilt, just a sign that someone wealthy wanted to be free sooner versus sitting in jail on what he feels is trumped up charges).

  8. MonkeyChow said...

    OGC, maybe I’m misunderstanding your point. When you say “and his AAA numbers, while nice if he can duplicate it in the majors, is only OK, at best an average catcher.” it seems as iff you are saying 321/391/511 won’t cut it in the majors as a catcher. Joe Mauer’s career line is 327/408/483. So yeah, I think that line would cut it.
    If you’re saying repeating his MLE’s are only average, ok, that’s fairer I guess, although being an average catcher at this age should prove that his is ready.

  9. SharksRog said...

    Norman, you are likely right that Buster doesn’t “deserve” to start at catcher.  That said, I believe he is the best catcher the Giants have.

    He should continue to improve this season, while Bengie Molina will likely continue to regress.

    I don’t think that Buster would be average at best defensively.  I think he has very good athleticism and a strong, accurate throwing arm that allowed him to shoot down 45% of opposing base stealers.

    As for handling the pitching staff, I believe—and Larry Baer agrees—that will be one of his best strengths.  That is why Baer says Buster belongs behind the plate even though he has the athleticism to play other positions.

    There are two potentially good arguments for leaving Buster down.

    One would be to continue learning the sublteties of catching.  He isn’t going to learn the Giants’ pitchers down at Fresno though.

    Perhaps the best argument for leaving Buster down until midseason would be to avoid making him a Super Two, a move that would likely have saved the Giants about $12 million with Tim Lincecum this season.  That would also prevent his becoming a free agent until after the 2016 season.

  10. SharksRog said...

    When Brian Sabean calls Brandon Crawford “the shortstop of the future,” we should remember that Brian hasn’t shown the best concept of the importance of plate discipline, a commodity Brandon is lacking.

    Even when he hit .371 at San Jose, I was worried by his lack of discipline, which had more of an effect at Connecticut, where his average dropped by over 100 points.

    I think Adrianza may be the better long-term prospect, although I do like Brandon’s power potential for a shortstop, and Brandon himself is said to be a good fielder.

  11. SharksRog said...

    As for Buster’s position, I think he would benefit from playing other positions about 50 games a season.  The Giants need his bat in the lineup.

    It’s a shame that Pablo Sandoval apparently can’t be the guy to play those 50 games behind the dish, switching positons with Buster.  That would essentially add another roster spot.

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