Giants Top 50 Prospects: #50-46

While the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will end the practice known as Draft and Follow, the Giants continue to benefit from it. Though at the end of the long list of prospects, two DFE's from the 2005 draft highlight the first group of the Giants Top 50 Prospects for 2007.

Date of Birth: 04/15/1987 Position: SS Height: 6'0" Weight: 160 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent in 2004
2006 Stats
AZL Giants - Rookie .310 .437 .405 .842 126 29 39 7 1 1 21 26 15 8 3
Salem-Keizer - Short-A .286 .500 .286 .786 7 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0

In an organization currently known for good shortstops Sharlon Schoop rates pretty high. He's been called the best defensive shortstop in the organization behind Gold Glover Omar Vizquel, and is considered among the best defensive players the Giants have.

This is not surprising to those who have seen Schoop play. The teenager from Curacao has had the good glove from day one as well as good speed on the basepaths. During his 2006 campaign he added a new tool. Now he can hit.

Schoop was held back to repeat rookie ball with the Arizona League Giants after his debut season in 2005 to work on his plate presence. The extra year in the short summer league helped him develop patience at the plate to work counts effectively and to see breaking pitches better. He also worked on his baserunning, not in terms of speed but in efficiency. He stole fewer bases in 2006 than in the previous year but was caught stealing fewer times—8 steals and 3 caught stealing in 2006 and in 2005 10 steals with 4 caught stealing.

He hit .310 in for the AZL Giants in 2006 with one home run. The average is the better number to consider in his growth. His batting average went up from .254 in 2005 and he accomplished this in fewer at-bats: 169 in 2005 to 133 in 2006.

Schoop gained plenty of recognition for his improvement this season. He won the AZL Player of the Month award two months straight for July and August. At the time of these awards he was first in on-base percentage (.518), third in batting average (.389), seventh in slugging percentage (.542) and second in on-base plus slugging percentage (1.058).

He finished tenth in batting in the AZL, eighth in walks, fourth in on-base percentage, tenth in OPS. It earned him a selection to the 2006 AZL Postseason All Star Team. He also kept his strikeouts down for the second straight year while improving his walk totals to better his plate discipline.

The shortstop hit for the cycle July 2 against the AZL Royals. It was Schoop's first and only home run of the year. The last Giants minor leaguer to hit for the cycle was second baseman Kevin Frandsen in 2005.

He needs to improve his stamina as he slowed down in the later part of the season, as well as develop a consistent offensive approach to determine exactly what he is able to do at the plate. He has power potential for a middle infielder on the small side but before that facet of his game can be tapped he must work into a pattern that would enable him to develop the power hitting.

Schoop may look familiar to those who follow the international game. He played in the Senior League World Series as a member of team Latin America with future Giants teammate and fellow Curacao native Shairon Martis in 2003. He and Martis appeared on the preliminary roster for the Netherlands for the 2006 World Baseball Classic but only Martis played in the tournament.

The Giants don't have a place for Schoop with Vizquel writing the next chapters in the book of outstanding defensive shortstops in San Francisco, and supplemental first round pick Emmanuel Burris is rising quickly following his first season in professional baseball. Schoop isn't needed to be major league ready yet. When given time to develop as he had in 2006 Schoop's game will progress at the speed both he and the organization feel comfortable with.

– Chris Martinez

Date of Birth: 03/04/1986 Position: P Height: 5'11" Weight: 300 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 37th Round (#1122 overall) of the 2005 Draft
2006 Stats
AZL Giants - Rookie 3 1 1.14 23 0 13 23.2 19 7 3 0 12 31 .211 1.22
Salem-Keizer - Short-A 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 3.0 2 0 0 0 0 5 .182 1.00

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will put a quash on the practice of Draft and Follow signings, where a team drafts a high school player, but then lets him attend community college before signing them.

In what would become the 2nd to last year the Giants could do such signings, the Giants signed 3 such players.  One was David Newton of West Valley Community College.  Newton, drafted in the 37th round of 2005, was a top pitcher for WVC.  He was a member of the All-Northern California JC team as a relief pitcher, but was also considered a top outfielder.

He came to the Giants after signing as a pitcher, though, and debuted like a top prospect.  Newton, 20, put together a 1.14 ERA with 13 saves in 23 games as the closer for the rookie league AZL Giants.  He followed it with a brief appearance with the Volcanoes, striking out 5 and walking none in 3 innings.  Newton's stats across the board were good, with no splits showing significant weaknesses.

Newton's ability to remain as a closer is in question, but his showing in the rookie league indicates he can rise quickly.  He's likely to be challenged in 2007, likely moved up to Augusta to help anchor that bullpen.  The Giants system is stocked with relievers, but Newton is one to keep an eye on.

– Kevin J. Cunningham

#48 - Tom King
Date of Birth: 12/05/1983 Position: P Height: 6'5" Weight: 205 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent in September, 2005
2006 Stats
San Jose - High-A 3 4 3.67 50 0 0 81.0 70 40 33 3 46 66 .230 2.31

Every now and then, a team needs to find help in independent places

King signed with the Giants in late 2005, after a successful half-season as a closer in the Golden Baseball League.  King was one of the top pitchers in Florida, a big submariner at 6'5" and 200 pounds, and was all set for a college career at the University of Miami before leaving due to family matters.  King was re-discovered by the Mesa Miners, and gave up 6 hits and wasn't scored upon in 20 innings while striking out 29.

At 21, King is not old at all and is ready to reclaim his potential.  A true knuckle-scraping submariner, King came into San Jose moving straight to High-A.  King responded well, allowing a 3.67 ERA, but problems did arise.  King gave up 46 walks and only struck out 66 in 81 innings.  King started out the season strong, allowing a sub-.200 BA in the first two months of the season, but he also gave up 23 walks in 29.1 innings during the time.  He gave up a .239 batting average in June and July, but only gave up 9 walks in 35.1 innings during that time.  He tired out down the end of the season, however, giving up a .304 average in August with 13 walks in 14.1 innings.

At his best, King is a submariner with real potential.  He doesn't project as a closer in the pros, but could be a very good setup man.  He has a lot of things to overcome.  He's going to have to prove he can stay consistent an entire season, to start with.  He also will have to keep his control issues to a low level to succeed in the bullpen.  His walkrate varied wildly throughout the season, so he'll have to find a way to keep steady.  If he can, King could end up being a steal for the Giants.

– Kevin J. Cunningham

#47 - Ben Snyder
Date of Birth: 07/20/1985 Position: P Height: 6'1" Weight: 175 Bats: L Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th Round (#116 overall) of the 2006 Draft
2006 Stats
Salem-Keizer - Short-A 4 1 3.66 15 12 0 66.1 60 30 27 6 17 58 .242 1.00

Like older brother, like young brother.

Ben Snyder became the second Snyder drafted out of Ball State when the Giants tabbed him in the 4th round of the 2006 draft.  His older brother, Brad, is an outfielder in the Cleveland Indians organization after being drafted in the first round of 2003.  Ben, however, has made a name for himself.

Snyder finished strong with Ball State, throwing a complete game win in the first round of the MAC Tournament, and then led Ball State to a win over Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Regional tournament.  He was the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2005.

That was followed up by a very strong pro debut.  Snyder worked his southpaw magic with the pros, working in the middle of the rotation behind Adam Cowart and, briefly, Tim Lincecum.  His control led his success, allowing just 17 walks in 66.1 innings.  He did give up quite a few hits, but was able to hold opponents to mostly singles.

Snyder profiles as a starter, with four strong pitches already developed, but he has a long way to go in his development.  Snyder's biggest weakness in his stats was that he pitched much less effectively against right handed batters, giving up a .258 average against and a .733 OPS compared to a .185 BA against left handers and a .524 OPS, so if Snyder's ERA rises as he rises through the system, a move to being a lefty reliever is possible and he could become very effective in a role like that.

– Kevin J. Cunningham

Date of Birth: 08/17/1987 Position: RF Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 36th Round (#1092 Overall) of the 2005 Draft
2006 Stats
Salem-Keizer - Short-A .250 .289 .375 .664 176 26 44 6 2 4 20 7 44 1 3

With one of their other nearly last Draft and Follows, the Giants picked up a San Diego boy with a ton of talent.

Thomas Neal was drafted by the Giants out of Poway High School in the 36th round in the 2005 draft and turned down a $7,000 signing bonus offer.  He instead attended one of California's Junior College powers, Riverside Community College.  The result was a big-time $220,000 signing bonus before the 2006 draft.

However, Neal's debut as one of the youngest players on the championship-winning Salem-Keizer Volcanoes was not the smoothest.  Neal started out strong, batting .317/.362/.475 in the first two months of the season, but a wrist injury in early August sidetracked him and he went 6 for 56 the rest of the year, dropping his stats in a big way.

Neal still shows a lot of potential  At his young age, he has a lot of room to grow, and has the promise of a big time player.  But he'll have to prove the wrist injury won't affect him next season.  His low OBP is obviously not ideal, and his K rate was high for the low level.  He also had a pretty sizable split that showed some problems batting against right handed pitching.

Next year, Neal might stay in extended spring training, and work on his inconsistencies.  It wouldn't set him back much, at his age, and he can learn a lot.  But he has a shot to push up to Augusta to start the season with a strong spring.  Neal is also a San Diego boy through and through, and has stated that his dream manager is new Giants manager Bruce Bochy, so seeing the chance to impress Bochy might help him get off to that hot start.  Either way, despite his low draft round and expectations, Neal shows some of the best potential and is an example of a well played Draft-and-Follow for both team and player.

– Kevin J. Cunningham

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