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Kieth Law's look at Giant Prospects
Some observations from Kieth Law regarding several of the Giants prospects:
For my money, major league spring training is fine, but roughing it at the minor league complex is a better bang for your buck ($0 for fans, in fact). Go to any team's minor league complex on any day in the second half of March and you'll see two games -- the AA/AAA rosters or the A/A+ rosters -- on adjacent fields. You won't get scoreboards, and there won't be mascots running around the fields or T-shirt tosses, but for just watching players, it's tough to beat. If you pick the right camp, you can see a stack of prospects for your effort. I popped over to San Francisco's minor league camp to see its A-ball teams play its counterparts from Texas, including a number of names well known to prospect hounds.
• This was my first live look at Angel Villalona, the 17-year-old man-child and jewel of San Francisco's emerging farm system. He generates very easy power with an unusual approach, almost flinging the bat at the ball but centering the ball anyway and driving it out toward left-center and center field. He can become pull-conscious in games, but that's not surprising given what he can do against this level of pitching. The Giants are already working with him at first base, which seems to be an acknowledgement of the inevitable, as he's already pretty thick around the middle -- and the posterior -- and he'll probably always have to fight his weight. Perhaps he'll become a vegetarian à la Prince Fielder.
• Wendell Fairley is struggling badly at the moment, punching out three times Thursday after doing the same in the first game of the spring. He seems unable to hit breaking balls at all, and isn't connecting with the few fastballs he's seeing. In BP, he wore out the opposite field, but there's a lot going on in his swing and he may be struggling to time everything properly in games. He might be a candidate to stay in Arizona for extended spring training if this persists through the month.
• Quick takes on three other San Francisco hitters: Nick Noonan bars out front slightly when he strides, but his bat is quick enough to compensate at the moment, and he centers well and makes a lot of hard contact. Charlie Culberson has a high-effort swing and doesn't keep his head steady or his body coordinated, which will give him some trouble against higher-quality pitching. Johnny Monell was a 30th-round pick last year from Seminole Community College and is probably just an organizational catcher, but he showed good power during BP and could make himself a big-league backup if it translates into games.
• Tim Alderson started for the high-A Giants and threw well. (One note: These are strictly spring training rosters, so the fact that Alderson is on the San Jose roster at the moment doesn't mean that he'll start there.) He still has great command of his fastball, which was 87-91 mph -- lower than his norm, but this was just the second game of minor league spring training -- and showed two good secondary pitches. His breaking ball isn't consistent enough, but he showed he can vary its angle, back-dooring it to left-handed hitters, then driving it away from right-handed hitters. His changeup is much improved over high school; he turns it over well and gets good fading action, throwing it away to lefties to get them to chase.
Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand.
3/14/2008, 11:20 am
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