April has officially elapsed and as the weather heats up, the grind of the full season is going to have an effect now towards the prospects. But before all of that, I’m going to take a look at some of the prospects who have been good, bad and pretty much alright. I call it The Lineup.
That was the batting average of Christian Arroyo in Triple-A before packing his bags and one his way to San Francisco. Arroyo literally torched the PCL with his bat, having multi-hit games in half of the games he played there. I have already put a 65 grade on his hit tool with 70 ceiling and while he’s not exactly setting MLB on fire, he has shown that he has some pop and his glove might have the potential to be gold at the hot corner once Nolan Arenado retires. Let the Michael Young comps roast up.
When talking about Melvin Adon, people will first bring up his cannon right arm. We all know that he’s capable of hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun with an improving secondary. His toned down delivery has helped him and when you take his horrible Augusta debut, he’s sporting a 1.125 ERA with just 2 walks and 20 Ks. Adon’s getting too good for the SAL hitters and his command of the baseball has been very impressive in the early going. He’s clearly one of the candidates to bump up the system at midseason.
Tyler Beede's fastball can reach as high as 98 MPH but he doesn’t really work that way. He tends to lean on his low-90s sinker and cutter that even though he’s not generating swings and misses like most expect from a power pitcher, he makes hitters pound the ground, helping him sport a 3.25 GO/FO ratio. His curveball, which I double-checked and has a grip similar to Adam Wainwright, is better than plus when on and looks better than his change even though the latter is above average as well. He’s experiencing a true taste of AAA ball and he needs to show a consistent streak of starts to help earn his promotion to the Majors.
Who is a better fit in the cleanup spot than the SJ Giants catcher, Aramis Garcia, who’s scalding bat was halted by another injury that can be attributed to a hard foul ball either when he’s catching or batting. Before all of that though, he’s the Aramis Garcia that the Giants have been dreaming of ever since drafting him: A catcher that has the potential of at least an everyday catcher with the bat and an improved glove after he lit up the Cal League en route to a 189 wRC+. Let’s all hope that this will not be a repeat of last season where he’s playing catch up once again after a pretty long layoff.
Entering the season, reports on Matt Krook had been positive based on his improved feel for the ball but based on his 18 walks that results to an otherworldly 14.54 BB/9, Krook’s control of the ball has been bad to say the least. It doesn’t help that he is getting bounced on a hitter-friendly league. I am already questioning the aggressive promotion to High A as I feel that he should gain confidence in Augusta first and right now, Krook has zero confidence in his stuff at all. There are times where his fastball-curve-change combo showed flashes of a plus offering, but all I can see right now is just flashes. I think it's worth considering a demotion to get his bearings (I sense a Krook demotion for Adon) but let’s face it, his stock is at an all-time low right now.
As a young hitter playing his first full season in a not so hitter-friendly league that is the SAL, Sandro Fabian's first month has been good in my opinion, showcasing what type of player he might become. Even though he only has a solid average bat speed, he can put the barrel to the ball better than most hitters thus producing more loud contact. But like other young hitters, his approach and eye is still raw but developing with a 20-1 K/BB ratio. His defense could be solid in right field with an above average arm. We'll have to wait and see if his frame is strong enough to handle the upcoming full season grind but the early results so far has been positive.
There is a two-horse race between Reyes Moronta and Rodolfo Martinez entering the season on who’s the better reliever between the two and while I sided on Martinez at the start, with the way Moronta’s pitching, he has my vote in the early going. Facing Moronta as a hitter is like going to the dentist: horrible. With a mid-90s fastball with tons of life and a mid-80s slidepiece that he can just drop pretty much everywhere he wants, it’s truly a nightmare matchup for Minor League hitters. Removed the game where he shouldn’t have been pitching and just getting some work in which he game up 3 runs, he would still be spotless but his FIP remained at a miniscule 0.30. He looks like a future closer to me at the big league level and he’s making his case as the best reliever in the farm system.
After scuffling in the second half of the season in a league that can be brutal to hitters, Chris Shaw seems to have figured out how to beat the Eastern League in a way that you wouldn’t expect. He’s massively improved his eye and approach at the plate as he’s reduced his K rate from around 20% that is the usual for him, to a good 15.8% while improving his walk rate to 12.8%. Even though he’s on a slump to start the season, he’s still drawing walks which I can speculate that his very early slump might be a result of getting hit hard by the BABIP fortunes. His power is also reflecting in the early going and even though his bat speed is just average to fringy, his mature approach plus his light-tower pop has him poised for a possible AAA promotion or be a centerpiece for a possible deal.
Possibly the breakout Giant this season has been Conner Menez, a 14th rounder from The Masters. Giant Potential really loves the guy and for good reason as his stuff is interesting. He can pump low-90s with his fastball that has constant running action and a slider that flashes plus but projects to be above average at best. I have seen a curve and change from him before but both are below average to fringy at best. He has very good feel for his deceptive drop and drive delivery with long extension that causes his fastball to jump on hitters. He projects solid command on his repertoire. His two-pitch combo alone is enough to dream of a possible lefty reliever role, as I am a little skeptical whether his lean frame can hold up with the rigors of full season ball as a rotation guy. Nonetheless, he’s in the rotation and he’s pitching well and I see shades of Ty Blach in him.
Quick Hitters: Dusten Knight, Patrick Ruotolo, Cory Taylor and D.J. Snelten have been lights out in April. Knight has a high-80s to low-90s fastball that he now commands, plus an above-average curveball and fringe changeup. He’s finally getting the results that he deserves after posting a couple of years of very good peripherals. Ruotolo is similar to Knight with his fastball-curve combo as well as an undersized frame. Snelten has been lights out with deceptive mechanics fit for relieving and a low-90s sinker and an average breaking ball, and could be called when needed in San Francisco. Taylor has a low-90s sinker that draws plenty of swings and misses and weak contact but has some struggles locating it. If he can focus on it in the bullpen, he will be a big leaguer. Ryan Howard is the breakout hitter so far, showing shades of Matt Duffy with his bat, defense, frame and potential value as a future everyday player at the big league level. Kelvin Beltre's having a nice second season with Augusta as he might be tapping into his offensive potential, but the swing doesn’t extract efficiently the raw power that he has.