In terms of prospect development, the San Francisco Giants are one of the most underrated teams in baseball. After winning the World Series last season with several home grown players, that may begin to change. And it should. Many of the players on their World Series roster were developed by the Giants farm system. Based on their current line-up of prospects, the team looks to get better with time. A new drafting philosophy over the past several seasons has found success and is the reason their system is as deep as it is. After a season which saw Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey graduate to the majors, it is safe to say the Giants farm system is close to as strong as it was before last season.
The actual grade this system receives is hinged on one player: Angel Villalona. He is one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball. However, he is currently dealing with complex legal issues and it remains to be seen if he will be allowed back into the United States. After being charged with murder, he paid his way out on bail and settled with the injured family. At this point renewing his Visa is his next obstacle. If he is able to come back and play, he is an offensive powerhouse. Think Price Fielder. A player of his caliber makes the Giants one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Without him they are merely a mid-range system.
It has been several season since the Giants have seen much depth in the outfield at all. This explains why 7 of their top 10 prospects are outfielders. San Francisco’s system has several talented pitchers and infielders, but few that were able to top the emphasis they have placed on developing outfielders. This should pay off in time as they hope to have several young Major League outfielders, possibly with some to spare. This outfield depth along with Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and potentially Angel Villalona should turn out to make the Giants a contender for a long time.
That is not to mention their pitching staff. The Giants clearly have one of the best young rotations in baseball and the addition of Zach Wheeler will make it even better. He could end up as high as number two in San Francisco’s deep rotation.
The Giants are quietly developing a farm system which will keep the World Series champions in contention for a long time. The future is bright in San Francisco, and here is why:
(Click player’s name to view his player profile)
1. RHP, Zach Wheeler: A dominate right-hander who should become a top of the rotation starter, even in San Francisco.
2. 1B, Angel Villalona: It remains to be seen if he will ever play in the U.S. again, but if he does, Villalona could become one of the best power hitters in the game.
3. C, Tommy Joseph: Joseph is an offensive minded catcher. He has enough bat to hit at any position in the majors. The emergence of Buster Posey could force him to move to another position. He has the skills to stay behind the plate though he will never win a Gold Glove there.
4. RF, Roger Kieschnick: Look to see Kieschnick as an everyday Right Fielder in the Big Leagues. He has exceptional baseball instincts and could become an above average power hitter. Already 24, his ceiling is limited, but he should make an impact somewhere.
5. OF, Francisco Peguero: Likely the highest ceiling of any Giants outfield prospect, it is unclear how close to that ceiling he will discover. A speedy outfielder, he could be an all-star centerfielder. He possibly will fall short of these projections.
6. OF, Thomas Neal: Neal will become a serviceable big league bat. However, he is limited by poor defensive skills. If he can remain an outfielder his bat will keep him in the majors. Though, if his defense forces a move to first base his bat will be below average.
7. CF, Darrren Ford: A defensive stud, Ford is one of the fastest players in baseball. Already 25, his bat will likely not improve much, and it will determine his playing time in the majors. He at least will make a great defensive 4th outfielder who can steal a base on demand. Improvements to his hitting skills could allow more.
8. OF, Rafael Rodriguez: Rodriguez could play in his first full season league at age 18 next season. He has the makings of an all-star center fielder, but with such little playtime under his belt, it is hard to tell where he will end up. With an impressive year in full-season ball next year, he could jump to the top of this list.
9. CF, Gary Brown: The Giants first round pick in 2010, Brown is raw compared to most college prospects. He has the potential to become a lead-off hitting centerfielder.
10. OF, Jarrett Parker: Another raw college prospect taken in the 2010 draft, Parker has more potential than first rounder Brown. However, he has never performed up to his capabilities at any level. If the Giants can change that around, the sky is the limit.
(Click player’s name to view his player profile)