2006-03-20T06:09:36.746-08:00See the complete article from minorleaguebaseball.comFive faves Merkin Valdez, RHPValdez has been dangling a carrot in front of the Giants since they acquired him from Atlanta in the Russ Ortiz deal. He's got unlimited potential and has shown big, bold flashes of the form the club hopes will lead him to be a front-end starter someday. He's coming off some elbow problems at the end of last season and has been inconsistent with his off-speed offerings in the past. The stars are almost aligned with Valdez, who was 5-6 with a 3.53 ERA at Double-A Norwich last year. He'll see if he can bring them all together this season in the Pacific Coast League. "He's done very well this spring, we're very pleased," Hiatt said. "We haven't defined a role for him yet, so his future is up in the air. He can start, but he's doing so well in short relief for the Major League club, which has been very satisfying." Kevin Frandsen, IFThe 12th-rounder out of San Jose State (2004) grew up in the shadow of Candlestick Park and his impending arrival in San Francisco would make for one heck of a feel-good story. He made three stops in '05, going coast to coast and back, starting in the California League, heading to Connecticut to play in the Eastern League, then finishing up with Fresno in the Pacific Coast League. He hit .335 along the way and even found time to make a stop for the Futures Game in Detroit. Frandsen also played in the Arizona Fall League, giving the Giants their money's worth last year. A scrappy player if there ever was one, don't be surprised if he sneaks off the Fresno roster and onto San Francisco's early this season. "He's an outstanding young player and though he's primarily a second baseman, he's been taking grounders at other positions," Hiatt said. "He has great gifts and he's a gamer with a very good bat. He's done very well this spring. I assume he'll start in Fresno, but we'll see how things work out. We're grooming him for the big leagues and one day he'll be there." Kevin Frandsen hits a three-run HR for Norwich Frandsen with a two-run blast for Mesa Brian Wilson, RHPThe Giants gambled on Wilson making a full recovery after Tommy John surgery, drafting him shortly after he went under the knife in 2003. It paid off as the 24th-round pick from Louisiana State proved to be a force as he continued his comeback in '05. Though he was a starter in college, Wilson spent last season in the 'pen as he worked his way back, appearing in 50 games and tossing 60 innings at three levels. He was 6-2 with a 1.35 ERA, had 21 saves and didn't allow a home run. He's got a plus fastball and a solid curve and changeup, and could jump onto the San Francisco staff quickly, though some more seasoning at Fresno might be in order. "[Vice President of Player Personnel and former Major Leaguer] Dick Tidrow moved him from the starting rotation into the pen for short relief and he waltzed his way through the system last year," Hiatt said. "He's aggressive and he throws strikes, and we're pleased to have him. His arm scared some people away but we knew he'd come back, and by golly, we got fortunate to have a real good young arm." Brian Wilson closes out the SAL ASG Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OFThis Florida State product can hit, there's no doubting that. He collected 17 homers and 94 RBIs last season in the California League and is ready to take on the best the Eastern League has to offer. There have been questions about his defense, though, and whether or not he can handle playing every day in the outfield. He's had a few injury setbacks (shoulder and hamstrings) that have hampered his ability on the field. Martinez-Esteve will get some new life in the infield -- though he's pedestrian the Giants are hoping he may adapt well to first base. Eddy Martinez-Esteve with a solo HR for San Jose Nate Schierholtz, OFWith a name like that, he should have gone to the Braves. The Giants are thankful they have him, though, after grabbing him in the second round of the 2003 draft. He's made a steady ascent through San Francisco's system, putting up big[...]
2006-03-11T04:19:29.866-08:00(image) Remember this date--Friday, March 10, 2006. On this day Giants prospect Shairon Martis threw the first ever no-hitter in World Baseball Classic history. Yeah, that is a short history, but it speaks volumes about Martis' advanced stuff and make-up at the age of 18. He didn't even need a single strikeout while leading Netherlands over Panama 10-0. Martis showed he can keep the ball on the ground with fastball location accompanied by a good sinker/slider combo.
8. Shairon Martis (RHP). DOB 03-30-1987 6'1", 175 lbs.Martis had this to say about his accomplishment:
2-1, 1.85, 34 IP, 50 K, 9 BB!! for AZL Giants. Mid 90's fastball with advanced secondary stuff and command. Barring injury, this kid is going to move up fast. Since we have a paucity of "sure thing" prospects, I see no reason not to get out in front of a kid with this upside.
"I feel very proud," Martis said. "Words cannot express what I feel."
2006-03-05T14:26:34.016-08:00(image) A pessimistic look at Fred Lewis would be to say, while he has the tools, his skills fall short. Lewis attempted to change his approach in 2005. He wanted to drive the ball with more authority after being told last spring by Felipe Alou that big leaguers get paid to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Some detractors even suggested Lewis' early minor league success getting on base was by accident.
"He got off to one of the worst starts of any of our Minor League guys," said Mariano. "Dick Tidrow [VP of player personnel] had me go there to work with him. We made some adjustments with his hands he had gotten away from."
The tweaking -- Lewis moved his hands farther and higher from his body -- didn't take long, and in the warm weather the left-hander began hammering the ball.
"He caught fire and hit some balls harder than I've seen in 25 years," said Mariano. "He was playing like a big leaguer for 16 straight days and got his confidence going."
Lewis raised his average 47 points over the final months, finishing with a respectable .273 mark and a career-high 47 RBIs.
This spring, Freddie has been looking strong and drawing raves from Giants observers. He admits he's a different player from a few years ago.
"I feel, when I first got here, I wasn't ready at this level," said Lewis, a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., in his third San Francisco camp. "I know in my heart I'm ready to play here, but it's not up to me. I haven't faced big-league pitching that much, but I'm looking to get my chance, get my feet wet, and show them what I've got."
Now on the Giants' 40-man roster, Lewis led his teams in runs and stolen bases each of his first three pro years and was second for Norwich in 2005.
"I feel I've learned the game more," Lewis said, "and I'm still learning about hitting and running, knowing when to move the runner over, which base to throw to from the outfield.
"Right now, I'm on an all-time high. There's no pressure here and I'm more relaxed than ever. I was afraid of some guys at first, but I'm adjusting."
2006-02-18T20:18:15.440-08:00(image) Chris Haft of the San Jose Mercury News chimes in from Scottsdale about Merkin Valdez and his big year coming in 2006. It's amazing Valdez is still only 24 years old. With his stuff, you have to be excited to see him put it all together. He'll be a starter in AAA this year, unless he makes the big club, which is a long shot. His long term outlook is still probably as a late-inning releiver.
"Merkin Valdez has reached the stage where his production must begin to match his potential.
Greatness has been predicted for Valdez since the Giants obtained him and left-hander Damian Moss for right-hander Russ Ortiz in December 2002. Although Ortiz won 77 games in five seasons for the Giants, Valdez, with his breathtaking fastball, seemed capable of more.
Valdez remains the organization's most tantalizing pitching prospect. Yet it's worth remembering that Baseball America, the industry's arbiter of minor league talent, ranked Valdez ahead of Matt Cain as the Giants' top prospect as recently as 2004...
...A long shot to make the Giants' opening-day roster, Valdez likely will begin the season in Triple-A Fresno's rotation. At 24, he still has time to fulfill his promise.
``It's going to be a good year to push him and evaluate him,'' Giants Manager Felipe Alou said.
Moreover, the success of contemporaries such as Cain and Noah Lowry, 25, motivates Valdez to follow their path. ``It's something exciting,'' Valdez said. ``I'm young, too.''
Valdez is also far from polished. After six seasons in the minors, he still lacks ideal control of his fastball, which travels in the mid-90 mph range. Nor has he refined his off-speed pitches, such as his change-up. ``Sometimes it's up, you know?'' Valdez said.
With his gangly 6-foot-3, 220-pound stature, Valdez has struggled to maintain a consistent pitching delivery, the source of many of his flaws. ``There's always a tweak for him to get him right,'' Tidrow said."
2006-02-18T17:23:39.106-08:00In the most recent "Ask BA" article, John Manuel hits on Giants propsects like Matt Cain, Marcus Sanders and Kevin Frandsen. He is especially high on Sanders--Baseball America's #2 prospect in the organization. "Q: Chris from San Carlos, CA asks:OK, clearly you don't rate Billingsley that far ahead of Cain, but Cain put up his number in the tough PCL and the majors where Billingsley was in AA. Verlander was in AA, had to be shut down before the end of the season, and wasn't as dominant as he should have been in college. Cain hasn't had arm problems since 2003, and has gained a lot of muscle since that time. Sure you guys don't want to rethink that? As always, these chats are the best part of Baseball America. Well, aside from the prospect book. A: John Manuel: Thanks for the kind words on the chats and the Handbook. It's splitting hairs Chris. I've ranked Giants prospects for three straight years so I know Cain actually better than the other guys. It depends on the day of the week, really, between Billingsley and Verlander for me. Cain is third, just a slight step behind, because I'm just not as confident in his fastball command and overall control. He was only five walks away from leading the PCL in that department; he'd rank first if he had half that many walks, but that's a concern for me. Q: Alex from San Francisco, CA asks:Who's the Giants 2B of the future? Sanders or Frandsen? It seems to me that Frandsen hits too well to be a utility man. Would Frandsen's presence increase the chances of Sanders getting moved to the OF? A: John Manuel: I almost hate to say it, but Frandsen has to do it again to completely prove to me he's more than a utility guy. If he does and establishes himself, then yes, Sanders could very well move to CF. That might have to happen anywhere; of course, the Giants hold out hope that this second arm surgery for Sanders helps him stay at SS, making this discussion moot. Q: Rowdy Hardy from Clarksville, TN asks:Who would consider the best base stealer in the minors? Anyone to challenge Ricky Henderson's records in near or distant future? A: John Manuel: Marcus Sanders is my pick, speed with savvy and the boldness to steal a lot of bases. But no one's touching Rickey's 130 or career mark in the near future, not that I can see, people just don't play that way anymore and Rickey was a very unique player. Q: Ian from Illadelph asks:Please justify Marcus Sanders over Dustin Pedroia. My BA subscription renewal rests upon your answer. The clock is ticking... A: John Manuel: That's a ceiling deal, and I like Pedroia a lot. I consider Sanders the best leadoff hitter in the minors--a line-drive bat, ability to take a walk and game-changing speed combined with baserunning savvy. Just harder to find than Pedroia's tools, and that's even with Pedroia's tools playing up because of his outstanding makeup, drive and desire." Full article can be found here... [...]
2006-02-13T02:59:35.936-08:00This list from is promising. If Sickels' projections are accurate, the Giants should have some solid depth coming from within in the coming years.
"SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS TOP 20 PROSPECTS
I have to say that this list surprises me. . .it's a lot better than I thought. Either the Giants have a better farm system than they are given credit for, or I gave out too many Grade C+ ratings and some of those guys should be just plain C..."
- Matt Cain, RHP, Grade A-
- Marcus Sanders, 2B, Grade B+
- Merkin Valdez, RHP, B+
- Eddy Martinez-Esteve, "OF," B+
- Travis Ishikawa, 1B, B
- Nate Schierholtz, OF, B
- Jonathan Sanchez, LHP, B
- Kevin Frandsen, 3B, B
- Dan Griffin, RHP, B-
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B, B-
- Shairon Martis, RHP, B-
- Freddy Lewis, OF, C+
- Waldis Joaquin, RHP, C+
- Ben Copeland, OF, C+
- Jeremy Accardo, RHP, C+
- Jon Coutlangus, LHP, C+
- Dan Ortmeier, OF, C+
- Brian Horwitz, OF, C+
- Brian Wilson, RHP, C+
- Ben Nieto, LHP, C+
Read More from minorleagueball.com
1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team
1B Travis Ishikawa Will Thompson Chad Santos
2B Kevin Frandsen Mark Minicozzi Aaron Hornostaj
3B Pablo Sandoval Brian Buscher Simon Klink
SS Marcus Sanders Angel Chavez Sharlon Schoop
OF E. Martinez-Esteve Fred Lewis Ariel Nunez
OF Dan Ortmeier Ben Copeland Clay Timpner
OF Nate Schierholtz Brian Horwitz John Bowker
C Justin Knoedler Eliezer Alfonzo Brian Munhall
SP Matt Cain Pat Misch Sergio Romo
SP Merkin Valdez Ryan Sadowski Garrett Broshuis
SP Daniel Griffin Ben Nieto Joe Martinez
SP Jonathan Sanchez Kelvin Pichardo Mike Musgrave
SP Jesus Reina Nick Pereira Juan Serrato
RP Shairon Martis Jeremy Accardo Brian Wilson
RP Craig Whitaker Waldis Joaquin Brian Anderson
"Cain definitely could reach the 15-win mark ... but no pressure, Matt. Manager Felipe Alou calls the 21-year-old pitcher "the real deal -- a special phenom. He's a fearless guy with tremendous stuff, with tremendous [poise] at such a tender age." The kid is solidly built, has strong legs, good mechanics and is a smart guy who is able to adjust. Imagine last season, when he baffled batters with his fastball, a pitch most veterans can kill. Cain will be fun to watch."
"There are few openings on the roster, but expect Angel Chavez and Kevin Frandsen to be among candidates for a bench role. Chavez, by the way, has decided not to play for his native Panama in the World Baseball Classic and will report early to Spring Training to improve his chances of making the team."
2006-02-05T05:02:44.683-08:00BA's current Organizational Report profiles Ben Nieto, LHP. Nieto is a burly lefthander, 5'10", 225 lbs drafted in round 38 by the Giants out of Riverside, CC. He reportedly had some scholarship offers to 4 year colleges, but was eager to start his pro career. In John Manuel's BA Chat Wrap after BA posted their Giants Top 10 Prospects, he said Nieto could get his fastball into the low 90's which is good for a lefthander. Nieto put up excellent numbers in the AZL and with Salem-Keizer in the NWL:
"He's not afraid to throw his fastball up in the zone, and he has a good hook. He's willing to go after guys and throw the ball over the plate, and he's got some deception."Nieto certainly doesn't have a classic pitcher's body habitus. His weight could become an issue as he gets older. His stats, especially in the NWL, are impressive. The challenge will be whether he can get away with challenging hitters at higher levels. The article did not mention his velocity, nor did it project where he will pitch in 2006. Coming out of JC, he's still on the young side, so Augusta might be a good bet.
"They had trouble hitting his fastball. They had trouble hitting his curveball. They had trouble hitting everything."
"He was a nice surprise. If a guy is willing to throw the ball over the plate and he's hard to hit, he's worth a look."
"The Giants' Minor League affiliates enjoyed one of their most successful campaigns in 2005, finishing the regular season with the second-best winning percentage in baseball.
As a reward, Dick Tidrow, vice president of player personnel, announced on Tuesday that all Minor League managers will again guide their clubs for 2006.
Retained are Shane Turner, Triple-A Fresno; Dave Machemer, Double-A Connecticut; Lenn Sakata, whose Class A San Jose team won the California League title, while he captured Manager of the Year honors; Roberto Kelley, Class A Augusta skipper and manager of the Panamanian team in the World Baseball Classic; Steve Decker, short-season Salem-Keizer; and Bert Hunter, the 2005 Arizona Rookie League Manager of the Year, who has led the San Francisco affiliate to two consecutive titles.
Former Giants pitcher Trevor Wilson has also been named pitching coach at
, while Jim Bowie is hitting coach and Patrick Serbus the trainer." Fresno
2006-02-03T00:07:25.340-08:00Here's a look at the top 50 prospects for the San Francisco Giants going into 2006.1. Matt Cain (RHP) DOB: 10-10-1984. 6'3", 230 lbs.Can there be any doubt? It wasn't just that he led the PCL in K's. After all, he did give up a lot of HR's and BB's there. It wasn't just 2.33 ERA in 7 big league starts. He didn't have great peripheral numbers. It was more the way he went about his business, the bulldog personality, the commanding physical presence on the mound. It was finally seeing a kid who was supposed to have a mid 90's fastball finally actually have one! It was the improvement and growth that he appeared to show with each game he pitched. Welcome to the big leagues, kid. You have a bright, bright future. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the injury bug doesn't bite. That's the only thing standing between young Mr. Cain and perennial All-Stardom. BTW. I have his autograph on a game ball from when he was with San Jose in 2004. 2. Kevin Frandsen (2B) B-R, T-R. 6'0", 175.Had a meteoric rise through the system in 2005. Drafted in 2004, he hit pretty well in an injury shortened first season at S-K but gave no hint of the amazing year he would have in 2005. .341 BA in San Jose. .287 in Norwich. .351 in Fresno. He struggled early on in the AFL, but finished strong ending up with a .263 BA. I know folks are going to have a problem with putting him this high, but here's my reasoning: Middle infield is less competetive offensively than other positions. Given that, him probably starting at Fresno this year, and the end of Ray Durham's contract after this year, I think Frandsen has the best chance of any position prospect of landing a starting gig in the majors within the next two years. Are there players with more upside in the system? Probably, but they all have warts and play at more competetive positions, so I'll go with Frandsen at #2. 3. Dan Ortmeier (OF) B- S, T- L. DOB: 5-11-81. 6'4", 220..274/.360/.463 with 20 HR's, 35 SB's and 12 CS for AA Norwich. Not dominant numbers, but the Eastern League is the toughest league for hitters in all the minors. .385/.414/.654 with 4 SB's and 0 CS in 26 AB's for Mesa in the AFL. Is this a taste of what he'll do in the hitter friendly PCL West? His AFL campaign was cut short by wrist soreness and personal business. Neither should be a problem this season.4. Craig Whitaker (RHP) DOB- 11-19-1984. 6'4", 180.It's hard to believe that he's the same age as Matt Cain. That tells you something about Matt Cain right there. 3-4, 4.66, 58 IP, 72 K's!, 38 BB, 5 saves. Struggled as a starter early in the season. Settled down and pitched pretty well as a reliever in the second half. I rank him this hight based on upside. Started out much more raw than Cain, but otherwise has similar stuff, maybe a little better. I was influenced quite a bit by a recent write up in BA in which Tidrow says he's still a starter and should come quickly once he puts it all together. Look for a breakout year, but still has time even if he doesn't. Roger Craig Whitaker! Hummmbaaby!!5. Fred Lewis (OF) 25 yo. B-L, T-R. DOB: 12-9-80. 6'2", 190..273/.361/.396 with 30 SB's and 13 CS. for AA Norwich. Again, not dominant numbers, but was well over .300/.400 after a slow first 2 months of the season. Has always had good OBP's even when his BA suffers. Poised for a big AAA season. League factors are a big consideration here too. That's what puts him ahead of the SJ crowd IMO.6. Nate Schierholtz (OF) B-L, T-R. DOB: 02-15-1984. 6'2", 215..319/.363/.514. with 15 HR's, 8 triples and 37 doubles. Led the Cal League in OF assists with 15 after switch from 3B. Had a very good playoff run. Had he stayed at 3B, I would probably have ranked him #2, but looks like he can make it as an OF too. He puts up anything close to these #'s in CT next year and he will be #1.7. Ma[...]
2006-02-01T23:34:10.046-08:00(image) This is a multi-contributor blog dedicated to San Francisco Giants minor league prospects. A new era in Giants baseball is right around the corner. The post-Bonds era will live and die with homegrown talent. Come back to learn about the next generation of Giants baseball.