Baseball America’s Top 10 for 2010 (+ status / updates following season)
(1) Buster Posey: Graduated – RoY? – already has a World Series ring.
(2) Madison Bumgarner: Graduated, already huge contributor
(3) Zack Wheeler: Fingernail issue cost him development time in first professional campaign
(4) Thomas Neal: Struggled mightily in AA, had a much better second half. 2010 = make or break year
(5) Dan Runzler: Graduated, contributed out of pen in 2010; talks to make him starter
(6) Tommy Joseph: Hit 16 HR in Sally League (A). He’s got major power but contact is an issue.
(7) Roger Kieschnick: Battled injuries and turned in nightmare season at the plate, at a crossroads
(8) Ehire Adrianza: Turned in a solid season at A+ San Jose. His glove is great, but his bat is trailing.
(9) Brandon Crawford: Again struggled with bat in AA. He hurt his wrist and missed key develop. time.
(10) Francisco Peguero: 5-tool threat turned in a pretty outstanding season, question is plate discipline
My Crack at Top 10 for 2011
(1) Brandon Belt (1B):
Belt isn’t just one of the Giants’ hottest prospects – he’s their best prospect, by far – he’s also one of the hottest prospects in all of baseball. He’s in the conversation with the very best first base prospects in baseball, along with Freddie Freeman (ATL) and Eric Hosmer (KC). Belt was drafted in just the fifth round in 2009 out of Texas. The Giants immediately rebuilt his swing – Belt had been mostly a pitcher throughout his young life, being drafted twice as a pitcher before the Giants took him – and he was ready and willing. The results were astounding. Across three levels (A+, AA, AAA), Belt crushed 23 HR, with a .352 AVG, .455 OBP, .620 SLG (1.075 OPS). He walked 93 times and struck out 99, almost a 1:1 ratio. He’s also not just a bat as he’s rumored to be slick around the bag. If the Giants fail to resign Huff, Belt can step in right away. In fact, an argument can be made the Giants should make the switch by inserting Belt and letting Huff walk – getting a draft pick in the process. This could save them money to fill holes where prospect isn’t ready to step in, specifically shortstop. Belt is currently sharpening his skills in the Arizona Fall League and putting up great numbers and showing an outstanding approach.
(2) Zack Wheeler (RHP):
Zack hurt his fingernail in 2010 and really didn’t pitch as much as the Giants would have liked. When he did pitch, he was able to miss a lot of bats but walked far too many batters. Despite the set back from what I’ve read, his ceiling remains a top of the line starter.
(3) Gary Brown (CF):
The Giants draftEd Brown in the first round out of Cal State Fullerton. He’s extremely athletic and fast on both the base paths as well as in CF – he’s likely to be a plus center fielder. He probably won’t hit for much power in the major leagues but should have enough pop to hit gaps and allow him to run for extra bases. He showed almost no plate discipline in college ball so this will be his biggest obstacle, he’ll need to draw more walks or hit for a very high average on balls in play, or preferably both.
(4) Tommy Joseph (C):
(5) Charlie Culberson (2B):
Culberson was highly regarded coming out of the high school, but fizzled in his first couple of professional seasons. He had a solid campaign hitting in San Jose to put him back on the prospect map. Scouts really like his bat and see him as a solid prospect, but his glove leaves something to be desired. He’s currently destroying the Arizona Fall League, but what’s more important is that scouts like what they are seeing – i.e. it’s not a complete fluke.
(6) Francisco Peguero (CF):
(7) Ehire Adrianza (SS):
(8) Brandon Crawford (SS):
(9) Thomas Neal (LF):
(10) Eric Surkamp (LHP):
Surkamp is my sleeper pick. He’s missed plenty of bats but hurt his hip in July of 2010. Luckily it wasn’t an arm injury, but it was obviously serious enough to keep him out for the rest of the season. It’s unclear if he’ll jump to AA or repeat in A-Advanced.
Didn’t make it: Roger Kieschnick (RF), Darren Ford (CF), Craig Clark (LHP), Clayton Tanner (LHP)