Catcher – Adam Witter; Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
This isn't a hard one to pick, if only because Eliezer Alfonzo's performance was mostly in the majors. Witter, 23, signed as a fifth year senior before the draft and didn't have many expectations. All he did was lead the organization in home runs…playing in a short-season league. His defense leaves some things to be desired, but the Giants have needed a catcher prospect for a while, and Witter is giving them some hope they have one…if he sticks there.
First Baseman – William Thompson; Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, San Jose Giants
Thompson won the NWL Batting title in 2005, but part of what made his 2006 season compelling, despite spending the first part of the season repeating the level, is coming back from a horrendous season ending ankle injury. Thompson, 23, was not overwhelming in San Jose, but he did not embarrass himself either. The disappointments of other top first base prospects (like Travis Ishikawa and Pablo Sandoval) also lead to Thompson gaining this spot.
Second Baseman – Eugenio Velez; Augusta GreenJackets
It's hard to not include a league MVP on an All-Star team, but Kevin Frandsen came awfully close. Only his playing a short season out-weighted Velez's contributions, although Velez playing around the infield (he played a lot of shortstop) also weighed heavily. But Velez, 24, simply played all around baseball. 29 doubles, 20 triples, 14 home runs and 64 stolen bases are hard to ignore. He wasn't just the MVP for the South Atlantic League, he may have had the best year of any position player in the system.
Third Baseman – Julio Cordido; San Jose Giants
Another position where the Giants have been shallow. Cordido, 26, got the lion's share of playing time at third, although he did split time at third and played elsewhere on the diamond. Cordido's .281/.329/.418 line was not a traditional third baseman's line, but Cordido was one of San Jose's most consistent players.
Shortstop – Emmanuel Burriss; Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
Shortstop is one of the few positions where the Giants hold out some hope for some big things. But with Marcus Sanders and Sharlon Schoop having off-years, it was ripe for the 2006 first round pick to come up big. Burris, 21, came up big in his first season, batting .307 and backing it up with 35 stolen bases. Burriss has some power questions, but he has a lot of other tools, and a lot of them.
Left Fielder – Fred Lewis; Fresno Grizzlies
Fred Lewis is not your typical left fielder. Where left fielders are usually power guys, Lewis is one of those speed types. But he moved to left in 2005 and remains there. In 2006, he had a very solid overall year. His .276 average was supplemented by a healthy on base percentage and a healthy slugging percentage. His style might eventually be more useful in center field or right field, but for now, he did a good job in 2006.
Center Field – Antoan Richardson; Augusta GreenJackets
This was a very close decision. Michael McBryde had a good year in Salem-Keizer, but not a complete year. Richardson, though, had a better year in a couple of major ways, particularly on the basepaths. 66 stolen bases in 75 attempts puts him over the top, despite some power deficiencies.
Right Field – Michael Mooney; Augusta GreenJackets
Another close choice, in one of the Giants deepest positions. Nate Schierholtz had an up and down year, but overall strong considering the level. Todd Linden had a good year as well, despite injuries and call-ups. And Brian Horwitz had a good year of his own. But Mooney had the best all around year, and he had it consistently. Double digit home runs, plenty of doubles, stolen bases, and plus-plus defense. His strikeouts are a concern, but everyone has some of those, and Mooney performed in spite of them.
Catcher – Stephen Holm, San Jose Giants
Infield – Kevin Frandsen, Fresno Grizzlies; Mark Minicozzi, San Jose Giants
Outfield – Ben Copeland, Augusta GreenJackets; Nate Schierholtz, Connecticut Defenders
Frandsen's lack of minor league starts kept him from being named the starter, but his versatility and overall performance earns him a nod here. Minicozzi was another do it all sort of guy for the Giants, and while he didn't slug particularly well, he worked hard for what he did. Copeland's all around performance was very strong in Augusta, although he may have had the worst year of the three outfielders there. Schierholtz may have the most power on the team, but he does have bouts on inconsistency, injury or not. And Holm provided some of the best power for the SJ Giants when he was in the lineup.
Starting Pitcher – Adam Cowart; Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
It's easy to get wrapped up in saying that Cowart's performance by saying that it was so unexpected for a late round draft pick like him, but that's not fair to him. It's an unexpected performance for any pick, even first rounders. Cowart simply dominated an entire league, all season long. Maybe he's old for it at 23. Maybe his unique motion will not project well higher up. It doesn't take away from his year.
Starting Pitcher – Tim Lincecum; Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, San Jose Giants
The Top Pick proved his worth. 58 strikeouts in 31.2 innings, and a 1.71 ERA despite a short season. He didn't walk a single batter in S-K (albeit in just 4 innings) and only 10 overall. He simply has the most talent in the system, and he proved it over and over.
Starting Pitcher – Joe Martinez; Augusta GreenJackets
Martinez, 23, was simply the most consistent pitcher in a strong Augusta rotation. His 3.01 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 167.2 innings aren't eye-popping, but he did the same thing all year long. He won't be the most exciting guy in a prospect list, but sometimes the teams don't need excitement, they need consistent production.
Starting Pitcher – Dave McKae; Augusta GreenJackets
McKae, 25, missed half the year with injury, but it's hard to ignore how good he was when he was on the mound. In 14 starts, he had a 1.49 ERA (he had a 5.68 ERA in 4 relief appearances), and was one of the rocks of the second half for the GreenJackets.
Starting Pitcher – Matt Palmer; Connecticut Defenders, Fresno Grizzlies
Palmer, 27, may have been in his third season at Connecticut, but he stepped into the rotation after Jonathan Sanchez was moved out of the rotation and did even better than Sanchez was. Palmer proceeded to dominate the Eastern League with a 1.30 ERA. He didn't embarrass himself in Fresno with a 4.05 ERA, either, doing quite well for the hitter's league.
Closer – Brian Anderson; San Jose Giants
Was there any easier decision on this list? Anderson was nearly perfect as closer in San Jose, setting franchise and league records for saves in a single season. His 1.86 ERA just seems high remembering the year he had. His 85 strikeouts in 67.2 innings doesn't seem high at all, however.
Setup Man – David Quinowski; Augusta GreenJackets
Quinowski may not have been a closer, but he may have been one of the best relievers in the system. The 20 year old southpaw was a consistent force in the Augusta bullpen and shows some incredible promise, mostly by performing well at such a young age.
The various bullpens were a solid group throughout the system, making this a tough group of choices. Matos was one of the closers in Augusta, with plenty of strikeouts to back himself up. Hedrick worked as the setup man to Anderson in San Jose, but was not a second fiddle, with 110 strikeouts in 85.2 innings. Billy Sadler reported to the Defenders for the second season, but came on strong as a closer finally, despite control issues. Newton closed for the rookies, and was one of the bright spots of the group down there. Trinidad, meanwhile, closed in the other short season league, and was effective despite a lack of strikeouts.
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