*** OF Gary Brown -- The top prospect in the Giants organization did not have a very good showing in the AFL, appearing in only 11 games for the Scorpions before shutting it down due to illness. Brown was simply worn out from a long season with high-A San Jose, which included a Cal League playoff run. The 23-year-old finished up hitting just .220 (11-for-50) with two doubles and a triple.
Brown's excellent speed was on full display in Arizona, however, both on defense and in limited action on the base paths. According to KNBR's Marty Lurie, Brown was very smooth in center field while displaying excellent range -- skills the fans in San Jose grew accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. Gary also swiped two bases for the Scorps, getting thrown out just once.
Most observers seem unconcerned with Brown's unimpressive AFL. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranked Brown 17th on his list of the top 25 AFL prospects. Scout.com National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere slotted Brown in at number 28 on his top 30 list.
*** SS Brandon Crawford -- B Craw had a solid all-around campaign with the Scorpions, appearing in 21 games. Crawford's stated goal was to be consistent, and he certainly accomplished it. Despite finishing on a sour note (going hitless in his last four games), Brandon posted an average of .276 (24-for-87) while slugging two doubles, two triples, two homers and plating 12 runs for Scottsdale.
The AFL season was not without its problems for the 24-year-old, however. Brandon made five errors in the field, and his K/BB ratio of 21/5 was not indicative the kind of plate discipline fans grew accustomed to seeing from Brandon at the big league level.
Another alarming number for Crawford was his splits against left-handed pitching, where he managed an average of just .130 (3-for-23). While many think the Giants organization likes Crawford as the starting shortstop for the big club in 2012, it would not surprise us in the least to see Sabean pick up an insurance infielder -- if not a right-handed-hitting platoon partner.
*** 2B Joe Panik -- The Giants' most impressive player in the 2011 AFL came from perhaps the most unlikely source -- Joe Panik was phenomenal for the Scorpions. Although he started extremely slow -- hitting just .136 after his first five games -- Panik finished on a torrid hot streak.
The 2011 first-round pick finished the AFL season hitting as well as anyone in the league. Panik hit safely in seven of his last eight games, and 11 of his last 13. Before going hitless in his final game, Joe was carrying a seven-game hit streak, posting an eye-popping .500 average (10-for-20) with four doubles and five RBI. The 21-year-old infielder posted an overall average of .323 (30-for-93), slugging six doubles, a triple and two home runs.
Panik's outstanding performance in Arizona turned heads: including those of Joe's Scottsdale teammates, the Giants organization and a number of beat writers. MLB.com's Mayo ranked Panik 19th on his top 25 list. Scout.com National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere's top 30 had Panik at number 22.
The New Yorker's AFL success, coupled with the fact that he played second base exclusively for Scottsdale, has many speculating that the Giants may put Panik on the fast track to the big leagues. Joe may even be projected to step in as a replacement for Freddy Sanchez in 2013.
The Giants hurlers were excellent in Arizona, with Stephen Harrold leading the charge.
The 22-year-old made 12 relief appearances for the Scorpions, posting an ERA of 1.76 and earning one save. Harrold allowed three runs on 10 hits in 15.1 innings of work while whiffing 15 batters and walking only five. After allowing two runs on a hit and a walk while retiring just one batter in his very first outing, the native of Raleigh, NC allowed just one more run the entire AFL season.
Harrold pitched for both low-A Augusta and high-A San Jose in 2011 -- he should have no trouble making the jump to double-A Richmond in 2012.
Seth Rosin also pitched well for the Scorpions, appearing in nine games and posting a solid ERA of 2.13. The Minnesota product hurled 12.2 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He struck out nine while only issuing four free passes. The 23-year-old, who made 39 appearances for low-A Augusta in 2011, seems poised to make the jump to either high-A San Jose or double-A Richmond in 2012.
Austin Fleet was also effective out of the 'pen for the Scorps, posting an ERA of 3.00 in 11 appearances in Arizona. Austin allowed six runs on 19 hits in 18 innings of work, striking out an impressive 17 batters and walking just three. The 24-year-old from Edmond, OK will likely start the 2012 season for the Flying Squirrels, after rising from the rookie-level Arizona League to double-A Richmond by the end of the 2011 season.