I was thinking of doing this a couple of weeks ago, but with that football Bowl thing going on, it got pushed back. Now that it’s Spring Training time, we’ll kick off the spring with this series.
For those who don’t know, I spent a decade covering the farm system of the San Francisco Giants for SFDugout.com. Along with other writers, we watched the rise of nearly all the young Giants from draftees to the World Series champions they are today. I may not do it professionally anymore, but I still keep an eye on these kids, and bring a unique (and firsthand) view of these kids that you won’t get from those nationwide magazines and systems based on the east coast.
So behind the snark, there are some good opinions here. You might see some different perspectives. And baseball is just around the corner.
10. Francisco Peguero – I love Peguero. He’s an incredibly talented player, and has perhaps the best raw tools of anyone in the system. He’s an ideal right fielder at AT&T Park, and has a swing like Pablo Sandoval’s, where he can square up pitches even outside of the strike zone.
The problem is, he’ll swing at all those pitches outside of the zone, and he keeps having knee problems. One wants to dismiss his less than stellar 2012 due to a preseason knee surgery, and he was only allowed to attempt one steal all year in the minors. But health aside, he needs to learn which pitches to lay off. Perhaps a spring with Pablo will help with that, but if he can’t learn it by now, he never will.
9. Mike Kickham – I’m not the biggest fan of Kickham, from what I’ve seen of him, but he sure proved a lot of people wrong while skipping San Jose and ending up in Richmond. Kickham doesn’t get the strikeouts or have the control that make one a top starting pitcher prospect, but he got the job done at a high level, which says something.
Kickham is a guy who needs to learn to pitch to contact, without giving up hard contact. He’s a ground ball guy who features a low-90’s sinking fastball, and a bunch of breaking balls. He did the job in Double-A after not being able to do it as well in Augusta the previous season. The problem is that he doesn’t have much of a track record to know well enough if he’s on an improving trend or had one good year in a pitcher’s park and league. However, his potential is good enough to be a mid-rotation reliever.
8. Brett Bochy – I’ve gotten ripped for including middle relievers in lists in the past, but my thinking works like this: Sometimes, a high floor beats a high ceiling that’s unlikely to make it (See: Fairley, Wendell and Rodriguez, Rafael). Bochy’s been used only partially as a closer in each of his two minor league seasons, but he’s been very effective, even after skipping High-A.
Bochy doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball, sitting 88-91, but it’s deceptive in speed, and he can put all sorts of cuts and spins on it. He also has a strong slider that he can vary. His tools profile similarly to Sergio Romo, but he doesn’t have Romo’s killer instinct or fire. I don’t know if that’s a plus for Bochy or a minus. I don’t see Bochy being a future closer, but I do see a guy who has the talent to be an important part of a major league bullpen, and who is very likely to make it.