Top 50 Prospects: #10 - Jeremy Accardo

Yes, the third straight relief prospect on the list makes up the start of the Top 10 Giants Prospects as ranked by (And he's not the highest ranked reliever on the list!) In Jeremy Accardo, the Giants have found yet another power arm where no one was looking, and of the three relievers that debuted in 2005, Accardo may have the best potential of them all.

Date of Birth: 12/18/1981 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 190 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003
2005 Stats
San Jose - High A 0 0 0.00 2 0 1 2.0 1 0 0 0 1 3 .143 0.50
Norwich - AA 1 0 0.93 8 0 4 9.2 8 3 1 0 1 15 .211 1.80
Fresno - AAA 2 0 1.95 25 0 3 32.1 25 7 7 0 10 30 .214 1.39
San Francisco - MLB 1 5 3.94 28 0 0 29.2 26 13 13 2 9 16 .232 1.06
Mesa - AFL 1 2 4.30 9 0 1 14.2 16 12 7 2 5 8 N/A N/A

From undrafted in 2003 to leading an farm system in saves in 2004 to an impact rookie in 2005.  How do all these other teams let guys like Accardo slip through?

Well, it might have something to do with that Accardo was primarily a shortstop in college at Illinois State and wasn’t an impact one.  Still, the Giants scouts saw a good arm, and made the conversion after signing him in 2003, and the rest is another of the success stories of the Giants system finding hard throwers where no one else is looking.

When Accardo made his debut in May with the big league team, a lot of people wondered who he was and why most hadn’t heard of him.  It shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, since Accardo led the organization in saves in his pro debut in 2004, with 27 in San Jose and 1 in Norwich.  Why he got ignored was a factor of his ERA (4.41) and generally low K rate for a closer (6.82 K/9IP).  His K numbers improved in 2005 (9.82 K/9IP in the minors, though he only had a 4.85 K/9IP in the majors) and now expectations are rising for the former shortstop.

Accardo works primarily with a fastball that sits 92-94.  It could get higher as Accardo fills out his tall, lanky frame, but that might be tempered by the Giants getting him to not overthrow.  He also has a hard slider in the high 80’s, and mixes in an occasional cut fastball which he can use to get ground balls.  He matches it with above average control, which is one of the biggest reasons he got pushed so hard.

Accardo was the youngest of the three rookie relievers in 2005, and he also had the most up and down stint in the majors.  He was thrown into the closer competition in May after Armando Benitez went down, and blew a save in his second major league outing.  He also took a heartbreaking loss in Los Angeles in September.  But on the other hand, that September outing was one of only 2 appearances in the month he allowed a run, and the other was after the Giants had been eliminated from the playoffs.

In Accardo, the Giants have the highest potential out of the three 2005 debuts.  Accardo has good stuff, but is still learning how to pitch rather than just throw.  He made some big strides in 2005, but still has a ways to go.  In that regard, he may not start the season in the Giants crowded bullpen situation, and go to AAA to keep working on how to mix up his pitches.  But at his highest potential, if his velocity improves and his cut fastball becomes a bigger part of his repertoire, there’s closer potential in Accardo.  Even if he doesn’t reach that, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Accardo become the power setup man in a setup rotation of him, Scott Munter and Jack Taschner for the rest of the decade.

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