AAA - FRESNO GRIZZLIES Got Pitching?
The Fresno Grizzlies have perhaps the strongest team theyve had since the team started playing in Fresno. There are several players worth watching at Fresno, including more than one that could impact the Giants this year.
Matt Cain RHP Now who didnt know this. Matt Cain isnt just the top Giants prospect, hes one of the tops in baseball. He aced High-A San Jose (pun fully intended), and was a top pitcher at Norwich, despite tiring a little from just his first full professional season at the end. In Fresno, hell be expected to stay sharp, and build further stamina. He could be an option to join San Francisco this year, but only if someone up there falters, and other options dont work.
Jesse Foppert RHP The former top prospect was sent to Fresno mostly because there just wasnt any room right now in the San Francisco rotation, and the team wants him on a regular starting schedule. Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, a lot of eyes will be on how his stamina, strength and velocity hold up.
Brian Dallimore 2B Hes the 2003 PCL batting champ. He was a top Fresno player in 2004, and hit a grand slam for his first major league hit. He had a higher batting average than anyone else in 2005 Spring Training, Arizona or Florida. He can play nearly any position. So why isnt he with San Francisco? Roster squeeze, simply put. He could be a top option if something goes wrong in San Francisco, but one has to wonder how long he can keep dealing with not getting promoted despite being a top performer.
Patrick Misch LHP Another pitcher, imagine that. The southpaw Misch spent all of 2004 in AA Norwich and dominated the entire year. Some might say hes reminiscent of Noah Lowry, but the truth is that before Lowry got the callup last year, Lowry reminded people of Misch. An excellent pitcher with good command and 4 solid pitches, he should be a future major leaguer, and not in the distant future.
Justin Knoedler C He made his major league debut last year in a September callup, but he still has a lot to prove. If the Giants dont keep Torrealba, who could start for half the teams in the majors, around after 2005, Knoedler is the top option to be the backup in the majors. He needs to prove hes ready.
David Aardsma RHP The top pick in 2003 didnt have a great debut for the major leagues last year, but hes still got the stuff to develop into a top closer. He missed much of the spring with minor ailments, so he may start off rough, but he could find his way to the big league bullpen if troubles continue in San Francisco.
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH:
Brad Hennessey RHP Strong major league debut, but needs to prove himself amongst other top pitching prospects.
Kevin Correia RHP The starter has major league experience, but was converted to a reliever because of competition in the Giants system. Could be called up if he does well.
Michael Cervenak 3B Longtime Norwich third baseman gets his first prolonged shot at AAA.
Todd Linden OF Will the former top prospect ever push his way out of AAA?
Jack Taschner LHP- Lost in the Giants pitching pool, could surprise a lot of people.
Scott Mnter RHP Reliever impressed during the spring.
AA NORWICH NAVIGATORS The Next Wave
Merkin Valdez RHP The other top pitcher everyones heard of. He was slowed down last year by shoulder problems and an ambivalence by the Giants as to whether to use him as a starter long term, or a reliever right now. Hes back to starting, and a season of consistency should help him return to top prospect status
Alfredo Simon RHP The other guy that was gotten for Felix Rodriguez in 2004. Was sometimes compared to a younger Valdez, but isnt quite as good a prospect. The Phillies were thinking about moving him to the bullpen before he rattled off several complete game gems, leading High-A ball in the stat. A move to the pen is still possible, after he struggled after the trade.
Fred Lewis CF One of the most talked about prospects in the system after an incredible season at High-A San Jose and a successful late season call-up to Fresno, hes being sent to AA to continue working on his patience and skills. A move to Fresno isnt out of the question, but he needs to earn it.
Daniel Ortmeier OF Hes what Lewis is now back in 2004, but an injury filled season derailed him. The switch hitter has a ton of potential, and is looking to get back on track.
Brian Buscher 3B The former Long Beach star is moving up the system well after surgery in 2004. Hes a slick fielder, but hes going to have to prove hes got the stick to hit as a third baseman.
Erick Threets LHP This is the real life form of Nuke Laloosh from the movie Bull Durham. A ton of velocity, a lack of control, and a lot of injuries. Still, hes a valuable prospect, and itll be interesting to see what he can do, and if he can stay healthy
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH:
Chris Begg RHP He pitched for Canada in last years Olympics; is he ready for pro ball?
Brian Burres RHP The top pitcher in San Jose not named Cain, needs to prove last year wasnt a fluke.
Trey Lunsford C Former top catching prospect needs to start performing.
Carlos Valderrama OF Former Fresno player is being squeezed by prospects above and below him. This is his last chance with the Giants.
HIGH-A SAN JOSE GIANTS Watch This Outfield
Nate Schierholtz OF/3B The Chabot College alum dominated Low-A ball last year, but leveled off mostly after reaching San Jose. He picked it up at the end of the season, though, after being moved from third to the outfield. Hell spend this year learning the position and trying to continue his rise through the system.
Eddy Martinez-Esteve OF/DH The top (2nd round) pick of 2004 suffered rotator cuff surgery after his incredible rise in just 3 months of pro ball. Hell be DHing until at least July, but he remains a top hitting prospect.
John Bowker OF The second of the three outfielders taken at the top of the 2004 draft reaches San Jose after a strong debut. He needs to develop his power a little more, but has a ton of potential along with his outfield mates.
Clay Timpner CF Yes, the third of the three top 2004 picks also made San Jose. Manager Len Sakata seems to want to keep them together. Timpner profiles as a leadoff hitter, but is a clubhouse leader and a defensive gem as well, and could put pressure on CF Fred Lewis ahead of him.
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH:
Kevin Frandsen 2B The former SJSU star returns after a broken collarbone suffered in 2004, and a good spring moonlighting with the big league team.
Travis Ishikawa 1B The longtime prospect showed flashes of power, but hit under .200 for much of 04 and needs to play well with consistency.
Garrett Broshuis RHP The fast rising star will have to anchor an inexperienced rotation, but could be a gem.
Joe Bateman RHP Reliever was Low-A Hagerstowns All-Star representative last year; should anchor the bullpen as much as possible in San Jose.
LOW-A AUGUSTA GREENJACKETS Welcome To The Giants Organization
Darren Sack RHP The former Sonoma State star had an up and down time at Salem-Keizer in 2004. Hell be counted on to lead the young Greenjackets.
Jonathan Sanchez RHP Will pair with Sack at the top of the Augusta rotation. The 27th round pick had good numbers in rookie ball and solid number at S-K in 04.
Jonathan Armitage OF Armitage, a former Georgia Bulldog, should be a local favorite. He had 12 home runs in 447 at bats for Hagerstown in 2004, but will need to hit more consistently this year.
Alex Requena OF Picked up as a minor league free agent out of the Dodger system, he had 50 stolen bases in 2004, 72 in 2002, and 87 in 2000. Will be expected to set the table for the Greenjackets.
LATEST ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENTS (NOT COMPLETE):
AAA Fresno's Roster
9 Adam Shaballa OF 27 6'11'' 190
48 Armando Almanza LHP 32 6'3'' 230
41 Brad Hennessey RHP 25 6'2'' 185
40 Brandon Puffer RHP 29 6'3'' 190
31 Brandon Villafuerte RHP 29 5'11'' 195
32 Brian Cooper RHP 30 6'1'' 180
7 Brian Dallimore 2B 31 6'1'' 200
10 Brian Munhall Catcher 5 6'0'' 190
14 David Aardsma RHP 23 6'5'' 205
17 Donaldo Mendez SS 26 6'0'' 215
29 Doug Clark OF 29 6'2'' 207
37 Jack Taschner LHP 26 6'3'' 190
12 Jamie Athas UT 25 6'2'' 190
23 Jeremy Fikac RHP 29 6'2'' 200
21 Jesse Foppert RHP 24 6'6'' 216
15 Julio Ramirez OF 27 5'11'' 150
25 Justin Knoedler Catcher 24 6'2'' 215
19 Kevin Correia RHP 24 6'3'' 202
36 Lance Niekro 1B 26 6'3'' 216
22 Michael Cervenak 3b 28 5'11'' 180
5 Mickey Lopez UT 31 5'9'' 170
16 Patrick Misch LHP 23 6'2'' 195
46 Scott Munter RHP 25 6'6'' 250
34 Stephan Randolph LHP 30 6'3'' 185
28 Todd Linden OF 24 6'3'' 225
45 Yamid Haad Catcher 27 6'3'' 210
AA Norwich's Roster
9 Jeremy Accardo 6'2 190 Mesa, AZ
41 Chris Begg 6'4 195 Sunderland, ON, Canada
6 Brian Burres 6'1 182 Clackamas, OR
12 James Garcia 6'2 210 Torrance, CA
29 Brian Mazone 6'4 200 Cardiff, CA
7 Al Montes 6'2 210 El Paso, TX
39 Anthony Pannone 6'3 220 Olympia, WA
40 Billy Sadler 6'0 190 Pensacola, FL
37 Alfredo Simon 6'4 230 Santiago, D.R.
35 Erick Threets 6'5 240 Livermore, CA
45 Merkin Valdez 6'3 220 San Cristobal, D.R.
15 Chris Curry 6'1 190 Conway, AR
22 Trey Lunsford 6'1 210 South Haven, MS
32 Julian Benavidez 6'2 215 Oakland, CA
38 Brian Buscher 6'0 201 Jacksonville, FL
23 Julio Cordido 6'1 220 Caracas, VZ
5 Tim Hutting 6'0 190 Newhall, CA
10 A.J. LaBarbera 5'10 190 Whittier, CA
26 Tyler Von Schell 6'3 215 Goleta, CA
16 Fred Lewis 6'2 190 Wiggins, MS
8 Dan Ortmeier 6'4 220 Highland Village, TX
46 Dan Trumble 6'2 205 Nampa, ID
25 Carlos Valderrama 5'11 193 Bachaquero, VZ
34 Randy Walter 6'2 210 Ballantine, MT
High-A's San Jose Roster (incomplete)
Nate Schierholtz OF
John Bowker OF
Clay Timpner CF
Eddy Martinez-Esteve OF/DH (Will DH until at least July as he recovers from surgery)
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Kevin Frandsen 2B
Angel Chavez SS
Todd Jennings 3B (Surprising convert from Catcher)
Eliezer Alfonzo C
Guillermo Rodriguez C
Garrett Broshuis SP
Jesse Floyd SP
Jesus Reina SP
Ryan Sadowski SP
Ben Thurmond SP
Joe Bateman RP
Justin Hedrick Closer
Low-A Augusta's Roster (Incomplete)
Darren Sack SP
Jonathan Sanchez SP
Matt Minor SP
Simon Klink IF
Jonathan Armitage OF
Alex Requena UT
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