Kyle Terada, USA Today

Spring Training Prospect Wrap

The 2017 Major League Baseball season is almost underway and people will be very hyped for the return of baseball. For the Minor Leaguers, the gates will open in less than a week and it's time for the wrap-up the eventful Spring Training for the top prospects.

Prospects Making The Parent Club

- Even though Matt Cain won the 5th starter duel versus Ty Blach , Blach will make the Giants 25-man roster as a result of Will Smith undergoing Tommy John surgery and Josh Osich  really struggling this Spring Training. While he might enjoy a slight uptick in velocity in relief, Blach's best secondary pitch is his changeup and a changeup isn't as effective against lefties as a slider. I think Blach will still do well, and the Giants must think so too as he is the only left-hander in the pen. We'll have to wait and see if the front office decides to grab a rental LOOGY at midseason. 

- While not a prospect anymore in terms of technically, Jarrett Parker has been named as the starting LF and will share time with Chris Marrero, leaving Mac Williamson to be destined to the Minors. I personally would've liked to see Mac in San Francisco with Parker but Marrero tore it up in March and really deserved a spot in the club. Mac also still has options and that also played to the decision.

Prospect Performances

- The organization's top prospects played really well this spring.

Tyler Beede showed low to mid-90s fastball with a nasty changeup that he located in his pitching appearance versus the Brewers and a sharp curveball in his start against the Angels. He located his pitches well and he looks like he'll be ready with just a little more seasoning. I also really loved the idea of making him start in San Francisco in an exhibition game against the A's as a sort of getting his feet wet experience.  

Christian Arroyo has been as expected, tearing up the Cactus League just like last season. I think that Arroyo will still split time in the infield in Sacramento as the Giants have Hwang playing at third and Kelby handling both shortstop and second base which is still nice because his bat plays anywhere. He needs to show this season that he can hit more homers in a much better hitting environment. 

- Other prospects worth mentioning that played in Spring Training are Steven DuggarAndrew Suarez and Reyes Moronta

Duggar showed that he belongs in the Major Leagues with his solid performance. His swing is still geared towards making contact and while that isn't bad, more people want to see him drive baseballs out of the park on a more consistent basis. He looks that he's going to steal more efficiently this season as Vince Coleman taught him a trick or two on utilizing his blazing speed.

Suarez got baptized by fire in Spring Training and I feel his nerves were shaken as he struggled to locate his pitches. It's a nice learning lesson to carry and motivate him as he continues his rise up the ranks, possibly starting back in Richmond. 

Moronta on the other hand showed the stuff that made him a breakout prospect last season, with his mid to high-90s fastball with a late-breaking slider that he hides on a generously listed 175 pound body. Expect him to be in Richmond along with his partner in crime, Rodolfo Martinez who is looking for a rebound 2017 season after scuffling in Richmond and in the Fall League. 

The minor league games have been visited by fellow prospect hounds Roger Munter, Giant Potential, JJ Cooper and SJ Giants play-by-play commentator Joe Ritzo. Here are my personal thoughts on the prospects.

Bryan Reynolds made some tiny adjustments on his hands (put them a bit closer to his body) in a video. The surprising thing for me about him this Spring is that he's playing some right field. It surprised me so much because even though he has good speed and good range in the outfield, his arm strength is more fit at left than at right and there's Heath Quinn and Gio Brusa that can handle right field (assuming Quinn's going to be in San Jose). It would be a topic to follow when talking about him during the season.

Manuel Geraldo has a smooth swing from the left side with nice speed and arm to play at third. He needs to develop a better approach and pitch recognition to cut down on his strikeouts and draw more walks as well as he might need to flatten his path a bit to drive the ball better as he gets on top of pitches pretty often.

Gustavo Cabrera's feel for hitting is improving steadily and his impressive raw power is slowly beginning to translate into games, if the Spring performance is any sign. I am not sure where he'll play but if he starts in Augusta, I can see him getting almost regular time playing at a corner outfield spot, possibly at LF due to Sandro Fabian getting the nod at right.

Gio Brusa is oozing with raw power but the average bat speed makes me worried if he'll generate enough contact to be a big leaguer. I think that if everything goes as planned, he'll play  LF for San Jose with Reynolds at CF but could see him sharing time with Fargas.

Melvin Adon's body has tightened up and his mechanics have become calmer. He also doesn't fall off the mound while still retaining that premium high-90s stuff. I worry that he's relying more on his arm strength than utilizing body momentum but he has shown potential for better control and average fastball command. He's 23 years old and projected to pitch at Augusta and needs to improve on his secondary stuff, but I can see him being a big time weapon in a couple of years with the right seasoning.

Raffi Vizcaino is one of the sleepers that could be in the conversation of breakout pitchers. With low effort mechanics, he has a four-pitch mix with his fastball sitting in the low-90s with some sink and an average knuckle curveball, a fringe cutter, and changeup. He projects to have average command. I worry about his body as he is heavier than his listed weight of 195 pounds. He pitched well at the end of the 2016 season and he could put up nice numbers in Augusta this season. 

Victor Concepcion has muscled up over the course of the offseason especially on his torso and thighs, helping him to handle the grind of the full season. His mechanics still worry me as he has his elbow high and he could cock his elbow high, which could hurt, and his drop and drive nature sucks the plane out of his fastball. I haven't seen the curveball that flashed above average but he's got a slider/cutter that flashed a tick above average. I hope that he throws his curveball more because it's such a good pitch for him.

Conner Menez has impressed Giant Potential so much and it's not surprising to see why. He has good command of his fastball that can run, sink or cut and he got a slider that flashed above average and all comes from a very deceptive mechanics that hides the ball so well and he releases it on a low to true 3/4 slot. He could be pitching in San Jose again and could be a fast tracker.

Johneshwy Fargas will have his second shot at San Jose and he doesn't have a lot of room for error now after being overwhelmed by the advanced pitching there. His base stealing was still not efficient last season and I hope he took notes when Vince Coleman went to camp. Let's see if he can handle the monster that is the California League the second time around. 

Matt Krook has some serious breakout potential after his first taste of pro ball last season. In a Baseball America article, Krook said he now knows where the ball is going and he has improved his changeup grip. I still need to see some improvement on the velocity where it's been high-80s when he pitched at Salem-Keizer. I want to see more consistent low-90s in his bowling ball sinker and he still needs to take note of his immense arm swing that generates that amount of spin and sink on his fastball. I think that with the Tommy John fully behind him entering this season, he will trend up once again in my ranks and he could be aggressively placed in San Jose but I wouldn't recommend it. 

Miguel Gomez can just flat out hit. There's no question about his bat but there's a huge question mark about where he'll play on the field. Having been used as a catcher, third baseman and DH, he is now playing at second base with the hopes that his defensive liability will not threaten his immense offensive potential. I think the bat can play and his power can be above average with decent defense at second. 

Dylan Davis' transition to third base this season will be very interesting. As a righty power hitter clogged by the influx of OF talent, Davis made the transition to third base where I believe he has never played before. His fielding actions at the hot corner are still raw and will probably take a good year to really hone in there, so his bat will really need to play to continue to rise up the ranks. Hopefully, he develops a viable defense there.

Jose Layer looks like an athletic OF but the swing still needs work in terms of his balance at the box, getting his momentum forward more consistently, tweaking the mechanics itself like reducing the bat wrap in his swing. He has very good bat speed and good wrists that can improve. If he gets his stance and set up cleaned up, he can be a good hitter and possibly a big leaguer if he continues to improve on offense and defense.

Jalen Miller has been impressive once again in Spring Training action just like last season. Looks like he got promoted to San Jose with the hope that a better environment might help his offensive production and he is playing shortstop once again after almost playing exclusively second base in his stay at Augusta. I think that his range at short is still good and the actions are sound but some are worried about his arm strength there. I am hoping that he can replicate the Spring Training performance during the full season. 

Robinson Medrano has some of the easiest power strokes out of the low minor prospects. His impressive size oozes with nice raw power but he still needs significant time to develop as a contact hitter and being a right-handed 1B, he needs to hit.

Alex Bostic's career track is an interesting case. He has spent all of his Clemson career as a relief pitcher, a LOOGY of sorts, and when he got drafted, he became a full-time starter, not exactly the person that I thought would go to the rotation full-time. The velocity isn't pretty as it is just mid-80s but he said that he is working on refining his mechanics, which are deceptive and tough to time but if he has that poor of velocity, he's hoping to offset that with his deception. Hopefully, he's gonna go back to the low-90s that comes from his left arm. He also threw a changeup that has good fade but he tips it by slowing his body. He also offers a slider with average break.

Christoph Bono is one of the names that I didn't look that deep into but has raised some eyebrows in a good way, driving balls all over the field. In the videos that I have seen of him playing, he has a swing that can be described as "chopping the wood", or a downward bat path that looks weird but it could work as long as he has a good feel for hitting. The problem is that his feel isn't that good. Let's see if he can have some playing time this season. 

Jordan Johnson needing a bounceback 2017 season is an understatement. Johnson needs to prove he can handle the grind of the full season as well as consistency in his pretty difficult to replicate mechanics. From what I see, he doesn't look like he's changed or tweaked something in his mechanics and his frame didn't get filled up either. He still has a good low-90s fastball and a plus change and good knuckle curve but he's still missing his spots consistently. I hope that he gets it all sorted out at the start of the season. 

Sandro Cabrera added some pounds to his frame and he has shown the ability to spot a fastball from time to time while showing a sinker with some sinking action. His curveball is still his best secondary pitch that he sells well and with a nice arc. I haven't seen him throw a changeup. He needs to be pitching in a full season ball, possibly in Augusta, right now and I think it's time to unleash him and see whether he's the real deal as a possible top prospect.

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