It was a bad year to be a Top Giants prospect. But it was a good year to become one.
Of the 10 players ranked #1-10 in SFDugout.com's 2006 Top 50 prospects, 9 of them suffered injuries during the season. The only one who didn't was traded. Many of the injuries were serious, and a couple caused players to miss significant time (and one will force one to miss all of 2007).
On the other hand, in 2006, the Giants signed one of the top young players from the Dominican Republic to a record deal. A Rule 5 Draftee became MVP of the league he played in. The Giants also went ahead and drafted the one pitcher who had arguably the best professional debut of any 2006 draftee.
Oh, and they drafted Tim Lincecum, too. And paid him a record bonus, as well.
Seriously, though, as many prospects at the higher levels faltered or were stymied by various factors, the younger Giants showed off some serious skills and potential. Whether it was Augusta's speedy outfield or Salem-Keizer, made up of mostly 2006 draftees, setting a league record for winning, some young stars began to emerge from a mostly darkened and ridiculed system.
So here for 2007, SFDugout.com returns with its list of 50 Top Giants prospects.
Why not? Lists like 10 or 15 are too shallow for baseball's deep and detailed farm system. A list of 10 wouldn't have come even close to a 14th round pick, short-season closer who struck out 43 and walked just 3 in under 28 innings of work. But Brian Anderson made #28 on the SFDugout.com list, and then he confirmed a top prospect status by setting league records. In 2004, no one knew who Kevin Frandsen was; in 2005, he was a Top 10 on nearly every list.
We know that not every player in the Top 50 will make it. It's unfortunate, but true. But by looking at 50 players, we can give you a more comprehensive look at the system, and let you get a more complete idea of the players it holds and the gems that might be revealed in the near future.
So what trends do you see in the Giants system?
The Giants broke two franchise records for spending on minor league signings in 2006, first by drafting Tim Lincecum with the #10 overall pick, and then by signing top Dominican prospect Angel Villalona to a shockingly high bonus, outbidding other teams. The Giants also didn't shy away from spending big to sign a high school prospect (Clayton Tanner), highly rated draft-and-follows (Thomas Neal), or 5th year seniors before the draft (Adam Witter). While fans are still bitter over the lack of focus on young player development while the team has tried to build and win around Barry Bonds, the recent track indicates that was a conscious decision, and that they aren't ‘allergic' to supporting the farm system, as some people accuse them of being.
Aside from the spending, the Giants have shown a much more prominent focus on speed-oriented players. Looking for speed is nothing new, as the Giants have taken risks on players like Fred Lewis and Marcus Sanders in past years. But 2006 featured the Giants taking two of the five fastest players in the draft class and taking several players of that mold. The Giants also took a team of strong defenders, as when Baseball America tried to name the best defensive player of the 2006 draft by the Giants, they just named the entire Salem-Keizer Volcanoes team.
Will any of last year's Top 10 be any good, ever?
Oh, sure. Some certainly took hits in status, and more questions have been raised, but the 2006 Top 10 were a talented bunch and remain so. Brian Wilson has been bandied about as the closer of the future, and Kevin Frandsen continues to impress, even if it appears he won't be starting in 2007. But there were some blows to the status of some players, and more than one dropped out of this year's Top 10 as significant questions arose. Who are they? You'll have to read to find out.
When will I get to read it?
The SFDugout.com Top 50 will be posted 3 times a week, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Week 1 will be a blitzkrieg, with 5 prospects each day. After that, its 1 player a day all the way until the first game of Spring Training.
Are you ready? We are. Here's to an interesting offseason and a lot more to read all winter long!
Have any questions about these prospects, or perhaps some we haven't named? SFDugout.com will be answering your questions throughout this series! Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Check out the prospects at the Top 50 Prospects Index!
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