Top 50 Prospects: #26 - Alfredo Simon

Alfredo Simon is confusing. He's had name and age issues, but that doesn't come close to the Jekyll and Hyde performance he puts up on the mound. You never know what's coming. So why does this former Top 10 prospect get knocked so low?

#26 - Alfredo Simon
Date of Birth: 05/08/1981 Position: P Height: 6'4" Weight: 230 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Traded from the Phillies in the Felix Rodriguez deal
Originally signed by the Phillies as an undrafted free agent in 1999
2005 Stats
Norwich - AA 3 8 5.03 43 9 19 91.1 104 54 51 6 24 60 .293 1.59

Alfredo Simon may be one of the most frustrating and difficult to figure out prospects in the Giants system.

Simon, formerly known as Carlos Cabrera (and thought to be 2 years younger), came to the Giants in 2004, where he was creating similar confusions. The questions about who he is aren’t just the long-resolved issue about his name and age, but how well he can throw and what role he should have.

Simon, of course, was part of the bad-looking trade in 2004, where the Giants were having bullpen problems and yet traded the effective-if-not-consistent Felix Rodriguez for Simon and outfielder Ricky Ledee. Ledee’s horrific 6 for 31 stint with the Giants is the stuff of nightmares, but the Giants and their fans thought it’d be worth it for Simon, who throws in the mid 90’s and has a good slider. When he was traded, Simon had started off badly in the High-A Florida State League, but had turned it around, and rattled off three consecutive complete games just before getting traded. He ended up with 4 CG and 3 Shutouts, tied for the minor league leads in both. The seemed to ensure that he was a starter after the Phillies had flirted with the idea of turning him into a reliever.

Or so it seemed. Ready for the roller coaster ride?

Simon started off 2005 as the Norwich opening day starter, and was plastered. He went 1-3 in his first 6 starts, putting up a 6.10 ERA and had his win come in a start where he allowed 7 runs! He was moved to relief, where he got a win and blew a save before May 20th. On May 20th, he got his first save and proceeded to rattle off 12 consecutive saves and allowing runs in only 1 of them. After a scoreless non-save appearance broke the streak….he inexplicably made an appearance in the middle of a game on July 2nd and ‘blew’ a save. The following game, he was brought in late and gave up 6 runs without getting a single out! The next few games, he made a couple of good starts and a couple of bad relief appearances and finally seemed set to be a starter again….and then gave up 8 runs in a 2 inning start on August 1st.

That would be the last attempt to start Simon in 2005, and he was moved back into relief. After 3 scoreless appearances and a save, and then giving up 3 runs in 2.1 innings of relief, Simon was given the closer role, and rattled off 7 more consecutives saves. And then, for good measure, he blew a save in his final appearance of the year. Even more fittingly, he got the win.

Tired yet? This kid had so many streaks in the past two years, he ought to get tattooed on his chest.

Frankly, the Giants desperately need to pick a role for Simon and stick with it. A lot of pitchers in Norwich keep getting switched back and forth (Merkin Valdez, Chris Begg, and Brian Burres all had stretches in both roles). Consistency in a role might help Simon gain some in his results. At this point, he should only be considered a reliever, and that stretch of complete games only postponed the move and probably hurt his development. Unfortunately, if Simon is to become a closer, that inconsistency that has been the only consistent thing about him is bad news, which is why he’s dropped in my estimation from a Top 10 prospect to the mid 20’s.

Simon’s stuff still looks like a closer, though he doesn’t even come close to getting the ideal strikeouts that one wants out of a power pitcher. One problem is that his throwing motions have no deception at all, tipping off batters very early to what’s coming. Not everyone can hit his fastball, but his changeup and slider can be very hittable at times. At least he’s usually kept good control, and rarely puts himself into trouble with walks.

2006 appears to be destined for another stint in AA, where hopefully he can close or at least consistently relieve without having to change roles all the time. There’s still room for him to become a very good reliever, but until he can be consistently good without so many (and long lasting) bad stretches, he won’t be finding his way up the system.

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