Giants Top 50 Prospects: #40-36

What are the legacies of Michael Tucker and Deivi Cruz? The answer is two trades that brought some intriguing young prospects. Plus, the pride of the UC Davis Aggies and a high school kid from Concord!

#40 - Dave McKae
Date of Birth: 11/24/1981 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 190 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as a 5th Year Senior prior to the 2005
2006 Stats
Augusta - Low-A 8 2 1.80 18 14 0 85.0 74 24 17 1 17 71 .225 1.74

McKae came out of UC Davis in 2005 as an undrafted 5th year senior unproven with questions about his velocity and his durability.  He came out of 2005 with a 2.42 ERA, but still questions lingered.  2006 started with more questions about his durability, as he didn't get started until Late May.

2006 ended with the kind of season that can be a breakout season…but are there still questions?

McKae, one of the first big baseball names to ever come out of Davis, had an ERA that would've been #2 overall in the Southern Atlantic league had he pitched enough innings to qualify, and still managed 71 strikeouts in 85 innings with just 17 walks.  He went 6-1 through the final three months of the season.

Still, questions do remain.  McKae is not a hard thrower, with a fastball reported to be in the 80's.  Pitchers of his type with high strikeouts tend to falter as they get to High-A and especially Double-A.  McKae has done very well, but a pitcher like him will have to continue to prove himself at every level.  Another performance like this at any higher level will improve confidence in him, however.

McKae could be pushed hard to Double-A, and his performance may command that, but expect him to start 2007 in San Jose.  It would not be surprising at all to see the Danville native continue to impress and answer questions the best way possible, by allowing nearly no one to cross home plate.

Date of Birth: 07/08/1983 Position: RF Height: 6'2" Weight: 190 Bats: L Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd Round (#100 Overall) of the 2004 Draft
2006 Stats
San Jose - High-A .284 .337 .424 .762 462 61 131 32 6 7 66 37 100 6 3
Fresno - AAA .500 .500 .500 1.000 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

In last year's Top 50 Prospects, told you that Bowker would probably have a breakout performance in 2006.

Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Bowker said that he had set preseason goals to hit .330 and drive in 75 runs.  A first half slump hurt him, however, and he only hit .310 in the second half, so he fell far short of his goal there.  He did manage 66 RBI, but inconsistency continues to hound him.

The worst part of Bowker's 2006 season is that the strongest part of his game, his power, suffered a slump of sorts.  While he managed a somewhat higher slugging percentage, his home run total was cut by nearly a half.  His best chance at showing off would've been to do so with his power, but he just never got on track.

That's not to say that he didn't have good things.  His first half slump did subside, and through late July he had a California League-long 22 game hitting streak.

What hope is left for Bowker?  He has to turn things around quickly.  San Jose manager Lenn Sakata praised Bowker's work ethic, but said in July that he needs to "find a routine and stick with it."  Sakata's suggestion to move back to his regular stance helped, but Bowker has a long way to go.

Bowker's best shot will be to return to San Jose, at least to start 2007.  Connecticut eats up hitters who aren't ready, and another first half slump for the third straight year would not be good.  But there's a strong group of outfielders that led Augusta to a spot in the SAL Championship game, so unless Bowker starts producing, he could find playing time hard to find.

Date of Birth: 10/13/1985 Position: P Height: 6'0" Weight: 160 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: In Trade from the Philadephia Phillies for Michael Tucker in August, 2005
Originally signed by the Philadephia Phillies as an Undrafted Free Agent in 2003
2006 Stats
Salem-Keizer - Short-A 2 0 4.60 6 0 1 15.2 17 10 8 2 4 24 .266 0.92
Augusta - Low-A 2 4 3.19 12 5 0 36.2 31 15 13 1 17 35 .226 0.97

Michael Tucker has become a flashpoint of discussion amongst Giants fans ever since he signed.  People don't often remember that he did bring the Giants at least one prospect.

Kelvin Pichardo came to the Giants as a 19 year old raw prospect that had just undergone a tough stint in his second year of rookie ball with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.  He was recognized as having a lot of talent and a mid-90's fastball with good control, but his regression and drop in strikeouts (from 62 in 58 innings to 37 in 54 innings) kept people skeptical.

Pichardo stayed with extended spring training, and made his debut with Salem-Keizer in late June.  6 outings in Salem-Keizer a 4.60 ERA in just 15.2 innings, but something impressed the Giants.  He was promoted to Augusta in mid-July and he responded by pitching strongly.  He moved into the rotation later in the season, and aside from one game in which he gave up 10 hits in 3.3 innings, he did well.

Pichardo's 2006 is hard to read, but good news came in the form of him pushing his strikeout rate back to over 1 an inning for the year.  Bad news came in the form of a loss in control, as he walked 21 in 52.1 innings.  But Pichardo's talent showed through in 2006, showing that perhaps one of the most decried signings in Giants history may have turned into a solid trade and pickup.

Pichardo could start 2006 back in Augusta.  He'll be 21, so he won't be behind schedule, but if he can repeat the performance he had with the GreenJackets, he could have a chance to show off his ability in San Jose very quickly.

#37 - Ben Cox
Date of Birth: 09/20/1981 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 220 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Traded from the Washington Nationals for Deivi Cruz in August, 2005
Originally Drafted by the Montreal Ezpos in the 19th Round (#564 Overall) in the 2004 Draft
2006 Stats
San Jose - High-A 4 3 3.31 31 0 2 49.0 48 24 18 7 24 45 .257 1.06

Just as Tucker brought the Giants Pichardo, former Giants infielder Deivi Cruz also netted the Giants an unheralded prospect.

Cox had put up some impressive numbers in the Nationals system after being a 19th round draft pick, but he struggled in 2 games at High-A after the trade in 2003.

Cox returned to San Jose and worked as one of the setup men in a highly regarded Giants bullpen.  He picked up 2 saves in his 31 games of work, and put up a respectable 3.31 ERA.  Cox's strikeout total remained high, but so did his walk total.  Cox also continued to display control issues in other ways, as he threw 9 wild pitches in San Jose after throwing just 4 in his previous two seasons.

Cox has the tools to become a very good setup man.  His fastball sits in the low-90's, and can ramp up to 95 MPH.  He flashed that velocity frequently in San Jose.  He pairs it with a slider that resides in the 80's.  But his stuff can flatten out, and he has a habit of giving up too many hits (nearly 1 an inning in 2006).  That's not a good combination with a high walk total.

Cox has earned himself a shot in Double-A with his fine season in San Jose.  Just as Connecticut can eat up hitters, some pitchers can find a paradise in the Eastern League.  But Connecticut shouldn't be seen as a cakewalk, and Cox needs to focus on improving his walks.  His rate has dropped each of his three seasons, but it must go down further.

In a bullpen that featured relievers like Brian Anderson and Justin Hedrick, other relievers can be lost.  But Cox has a shot to make things happen yet, and find a way to stand out.

Date of Birth: 12/05/1987 Position: P Height: 6'1" Weight: 180 Bats: R Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd Round (#89 Overall) of the 2006 Draft
2006 Stats
Salem-Keizer - Short-A 2 2 3.46 13 0 1 26.0 17 11 10 1 8 25 .183 0.77

Tanner was a surprise pick by the Giants in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft, and he was considered an even bigger surprise to sign after he'd made a verbal commitment to Pepperdine University.

The local product from De La Salle high school in Concord had a 10-2 record for the nationally ranked Spartans.  He opened eyes as he struck out 106 and walked 18 in 66 innings of work.  He caught as much attention as he upped his velocity from the mid-80's to low-90's of work. 

As the youngest player on the Volcanoes, Tanner acquitted himself well with his 3.46 ERA in 13 relief appearances, and collected a save.  His strikeout rate from high school didn't follow him, but there's a huge jump between high school and college.

Tanner, who was compared to Noah Lowry earlier in the year, turned 19 earlier this week, so he has a ton of room and time to grow.  He came to the Giants with a 3 pitch mix, with the fastball and a tight slider as the best pitches, so he's coming from a great starting point.  The big question is whether or not he will stay in relief.  Don't bet on it.  After the draft, Dick Tidrow said he was a "fast-track starter down the road."

The result is that Giants fans should be surprised if Tanner is going to start next year in the bullpen.  Tanner's so young, the Giants may hold him back in extended Spring Training even if he moves to Low-A Augusta next year.  A starter role is likely to show up sometime during his first season, but the Giants will be willing to be patient with his adjustment, and the minor league system has enough starting pitchers to hold down the rotation fort until he's ready.

Have any questions about these prospects, or perhaps some we haven't named? will be answering your questions throughout this series! Send your questions to!

Check out the other prospects at the Top 50 Prospects Index!

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