Top 50 Prospects: #50-#46

The Top 50 prospects begin with #50 through #46. Which new pitcher, like former prospect Jesse Foppert, is a Bay Area native drafted out of USF? Which reliever found his way back to the Giants system after being traded away? Find out here.

#50 - Randy Walter
Date of Birth: 01/14/1981 Position: OF Height: 6'1" Weight: 212 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 9th Round (#277 overall) of the 2002 Draft
2005 Stats
Norwich - AA .281 .337 .421 .758 228 38 64 13 2 5 31 19 58 10 6

Ever since being a 9th round pick in 2002, Randy Walter has been solid, never an outright disappointment nor a standout player. He spent his first full year in Norwich in 2005, and posted his best numbers since his first pro year, albeit working as a platoon outfielder.

What hurts Walter is his lack of a standout tool, something which could prove even more detrimental in a system that is becoming very deep in outfielders. Walter has decent speed, and is good for about 5 homers a year in part time work. That’d be good enough to be an older prospect to keep working on a having breakout year later in his career, like 29 year old Doug Clark and 27 year old Adam Shabala did after long minor league careers and got major league debuts with the Giants in 2005, but Walter won’t have that luxury. Walter was already competing with prospects Fred Lewis and Dan Ortmeier and older ex-prospect Carlos Valderrama in AA last year, and a talented group of younger outfielders who played with San Jose last year are nipping at his heels, threatening to take an even bigger share of his dwindling playing time.

Walter is likely to join his former Norwich teammates in Fresno, which at least speaks well for Walter’s steady advancement without standout numbers, and could get a shot at a starting job in AAA if Valderrama moves on in the offseason. But with Eddy Martinez-Esteve and Nate Schierholtz threats to show up in Fresno at any time, it’s now or never for the 25 year old Walter to find some way to stand out.

#49 - James Garcia
Date of Birth: 02/03/1980 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 210 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent in 2002
2005 Stats
Norwich - AA 6 7 4.93 32 15 0 95.0 112 56 52 20 35 74 .292 1.08

James Garcia’s biggest moment of the season came after the minor leagues were over, when he went to the Netherlands to play for Team U.S.A. in the World Cup competition, where the U.S. finished 7th. Garcia went 2-0 as a reliever in the competition, posting a 4.05 ERA in 5 games, striking out 10 and walking 2 in 6.2 innings.

Nothing is very assured with Garcia. He’s posted excellent numbers, including a 2.94 ERA working as a reliever in San Jose in 2004, or bad numbers, as his 5.19 ERA from Fresno as mostly a starter shows. In 2005, he again split time between starting and relieving and put up mediocre numbers, including a 6-7 record and a 4.93 ERA. Garcia’s biggest problem is that he can’t keep his strikeout rate up over A ball. In A ball and lower, he averages over 10 K’s per 9 innings pitched. In AA, his first fulltime stint out of A ball, he posted a career low 7.01 rate.

Garcia’s future should be out of the bullpen, and he might return to Norwich to be that fulltime this season, though an expected weak AA rotation may press him back into starting service. If he can figure out how to keep up his strikeouts against more advanced hitters, he might be able to move ahead in the system. At 25, he’s not too old to be a reliever prospect.

#48 - Nick Pereira
Date of Birth: 09/22/1982 Position: P Height: 6'0" Weight: 190 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 10th Round (#312 overall) of the 2005 Draft
2005 Stats
Salem-Keizer - Short A 5 3 3.04 14 9 0 50.1 54 21 17 0 14 41 .277 2.50

Is Nick Pereira the new Jesse Foppert?

Well, maybe not. The 22 year old right hander doesn’t have the same buzz, as he was drafted in the 10th round rather than the 2nd round like Foppert. Still, a month before the Giants traded Foppert to the Mariners, the Giants were taking another power pitcher from USF who was a Bay Area native. Pereira is from Cupertino, and played at De Anza college before transferring to the Dons.

Pereira made his pro debut in short season Salem-Keizer, and his final stats may not be as impressive in a surprisingly deep pitching staff. However, he tired late in the season, having held a 1.82 ERA into early August before it dropped to above 3.

Pereira has a lot of potential to impress further. He threw in the low 90’s regularly in college and is getting stronger. In college, he won WCC Pitcher of the Week and Month honors, and won the MVP of the Pepsi Johnny Quik classic after he took a no-hitter against Fresno State into the 9th inning of the championship game and got out of it with a one hit shutout. His college coach calls him a ‘fierce competitor,’ and Giants Vice President of Player Personnel Dick Tidrow says he “may be a power starter.” Baseball America rated his slider as one of the best breaking balls in the Giants 2005 draft, and also has a changeup in his repertoire. Pereira’s likely to be in Augusta in 2006, though a push for him to play in High-A San Jose near his hometown would not be a shock. Wherever he starts 2006, it should not be surprising to see him put up impressive numbers and become one of the Giants better young pitching prospects.

#47 - R.D. Spiehs
Date of Birth: 10/18/1979 Position: P Height: 6'3" Weight: 224 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent in August, 2005
Originally Drafted by the Giants in the 33rd Round (1006th Overall) of the 2001 Draft
2005 Stats
San Antonio - AA 2 1 2.81 17 0 2 25.2 21 8 8 3 7 15 .228 1.03
Mobile - AA 0 1 7.98 10 0 0 14.2 19 18 13 4 3 9 .306 1.69
Portland - AAA 1 1 4.70 12 0 1 15.1 15 9 8 4 9 11 .259 0.57
Fresno - AAA 0 0 5.87 10 0 1 15.1 17 10 10 0 10 11 .274 0.84

It’s been quite a journey for R.D. Spiehs, coming back to the Giants organization and playing for 4 different teams in AA and AAA over the last 3 years.

Spiehs was a 33rd round draft pick for the Giants in 2001 and was playing for AA Norwich in 2003 when he was sent to the Padres as part of the deal for Matt Herges. Spiehs stalled Rin AA Mobile for the Padres, and was sent to the Mariners organization in June of 2005 for catcher Wilson Valdez (a hole for the Mariners which was soon filled by another former Giant, Yorvit Torrealba). Though Spiehs put up a 2.81 ERA in 17 games for San Antonio, the Mariners were apparently unimpressed and let him go mid-season. So the former Cornhusker came home to the Giants, signing in August and finishing the season with the AAA Grizzlies, his first stint above AA.

Spiehs’s problems stem from the loss of his control, as he walked 10 while striking out 11 in 15.1 innings at Fresno. It’s not for a lack of stuff. He still throws a low-nineties fastball and has a well developed slider. Spiehs should be back in Fresno if he returns to the Giants, which is likely. If he finds his control, he has good enough stuff to be considered for a major league bullpen job, though that’s unlikely to happen in 2006.

#46 - Ryan Sadowski
Date of Birth: 10/4/1982 Position: P Height: 6'4" Weight: 185 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 12th Round (#363 overall) of the 2003 Draft
2005 Stats
San Jose - High A 9 6 4.64 24 23 0 126.0 120 70 65 12 42 118 .247 1.06

Sadowski is an intriguing prospect with a lot of potential, but inconsistent production so far. Sadowski worked his first full season as a starter in San Jose in 2005, and though his 4.64 ERA won’t raise eyebrows even in an offensive league, he was a solid part of the Giants rotation until he missed most of the playoffs with an unspecified arm injury in September.

Sadowski comes at hitters with 4 solid pitches, though none really stand out. He throws in the high 80’s and low 90’s with the fastball, and has a big slow curve and slow slider to match it with. He also throws a solid changeup. He makes the most of those pitches with a deceptive delivery that hides the ball well and can surprise some hitters.

Sadowski’s ability to move will be dependent on his health. He had Tommy John surgery in college and is still bouncing back to some degree. If his arm injury at the end of the ’05 season wasn’t serious, Sadowski will get a chance to show his stuff at Norwich next season. He still needs to answer the question of whether or not he’s got the stamina to be a starter or is a future reliever, and if he can keep his walk rate down like he did in ’05.

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