Giants Top 50: #31 - Chris Begg

For a pitcher who has achieved as much as an undrafted minor league free agent can, why can't Chris Begg have the breakout year he needs to get out of Connecticut? All the tools are there. He has a lot of international baseball on his resume. Begg needs a little something more to move up a level and he did everything he could in 2006 to make it happen.

#31 - Chris Begg
Date of Birth: 09/12/1979 Position: P Height: 6'4" Weight: 195 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003
2006 Stats
Team-Level W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG G/F
Connecticut - AA 13 10 3.40 26 26 0 174.2 159 78 66 8 31 97 .239 2.04

Giants minor league baseball is as misunderstood and about as exciting as Canadian baseball to most people. Chris Begg covers discussions on both as a Canadian national and one of the more successful pitchers in the Giants' system in the last few years. One of the most confusing, too.

Begg joined the Giants after playing a few seasons in independent professional baseball and made an impact immediately. In 2003, his first season in the organization, he went 6-2 with a 2.77 earned run average between San Jose and Norwich. Before he signed with the Giants in ‘03 he was undefeated in eight starts the Northern League; 7-0, 1.50 ERA.

He succeeds with great control and command of the sinkerball. His strikeout to walk ratio has been excellent at every nearly level and his earned run average has never been higher than his 2006 mark of 3.40 in a full season. He keeps the ball in the ballpark effectively.

So what's his problem? First, he has been stuck in AA since 2003, where he has had the bulk of his success. He won nine games in Norwich in 2004 and earned a promotion to AAA Fresno. There, he fell apart. His ERA ballooned to nearly 7.00 and he allowed ten home runs in nine starts. He had a fine 2005 season back in AA with eight wins and another good year in 2006 where he led the newly named Connecticut Defenders with thirteen wins.

Since Begg has not progressed in the system since the ill-fated move to Fresno in 2004. This year, he tried pitching in the Caribbean winter leagues. While pitching for the Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan League, his record is 4-1 with a 1.20 ERA, and he has 20 strikeouts to eight walks. This is the Begg seen in Connecticut, the one who pitches well and shows promise that he could be more.

He contributes to team Canada baseball on a regular basis, and these capsules of his play with his national team illustrate his frustrating inconsistency. He pitched for the 2004 Olympic squad that finished fourth overall. In 2005 he played on the Canadian team in the World Cup of Baseball. This year he appeared on his country's roster twice; in March for the World Baseball Classic and in the fall for the Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada played well in the WBC, going 2-1 and beating the United States soundly in an early round match, but they failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Begg's ERA for the WBC was 45.00. He did much better in the qualifying tournament where he won two games and kept his ERA down to 1.35.

It would stand to reason that Begg has to move up sooner or later. He looks lost when in Fresno but if he wants to get to the majors he must sort out the problems that keep him from succeeding where he should. His stock has fallen considerably; last season SFDugout.com ranked him #15 and here he is barely in the top 30. He won't be an ace, but he could be a serviceable starter for the back end of the Giants' rotation if he can capture the form that won in the Olympic qualifying tournament, for the Aguilas, and in Connecticut.  



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Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom. Love/hate mail can be sent to seasond_salt@yahoo.com, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.

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