- C – Matt Winn – 23 yo
- 2.77/.688 combined: – PAG/APPA – (Double-A Richmond – 2.40/.610; LoA Augusta – 2.83/.701; )
- 2016 stats combined: .233/.320/.395; .716 OPS; 16 doubles, 15 home runs
My goal in kicking off the 2016 San Francisco Giants UTR OAS post is not to come across as negative. In fact, because of the fact that the Giants have sat inside the bottom third of the several minor league publications’s overall organizational prospect rankings for several years running makes them one of my favorite systems to cover. That doesn’t mean, however, that every position is gleaming with a blue chipper. To put it bluntly, the Giants overall catching situation can be described as a small school of fish filling space, darting through the ocean while major leaguer Buster Posey is the blue whale. Twenty-three year old Matt Winn, this year’s UTR OAS, spent the majority of his time last season with LoA Augusta. In 95 games for the GreenJackets he batted a paltry .230 with 110 strikeouts, but slugged 13 home runs (which tied for the club lead). Usually a prospect gets called UP through the ranks. But this time Winn began 2016 with Double-A Richmond skipped past HiA San Jose, and was sent downward to LoA Augusta in late-April. Winn’s 2016 production path pretty much spells doom for a now-24-year-old who’s struggled to hit in LoA ball. But in the grand scheme of things, wouldn’t any minor league catcher’s career be doomed if they made a living playing behind major league superstar Buster Posey? At 29 years old, Posey has already accomplished more than the vast majority of current major leaguers could (and can) only dream of: 2010 National League Rookie of the Year, 2012 National League Most Valuable Player. 2012 Hank Aaron Award winner, 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award winner, 2012 National League Batting Champion, 2016 Gold Glove Award winner, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, four-time National League All-Star and three-time World Series Champion. Posey carries a career .307 batting average, clubs 21 homers a season on average and possesses a .993 career fielding percentage. In my humble opinion, when it is all said and done, Posey will go down as one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game. To put it into perspective using PAG/APPA, Posey’s career P/A of 3.21/.782 ranks behind only Hall of Fame greats Mike Piazza (3.82/.893), Roy Campanella (3.40/.858), Yogi Berra, (3.29/834) and Johnny Bench (3.28/.816), but ahead of 2003 Hall of Fame inductee Gary Carter (2.89/.736). Posey is an icon folks and the fact that the Giants have him locked up until 2021 with an option year in 2022 tells you that the catchers sitting inside the Giants organization should just accept their role and relish the notion that they play in the same organization as a future first ballot Hall of Famer.
- 1B – Dillon Dobson – 22 yo
- 3.10/.749 – PAG/APPA – (LoA Augusta)
- 2016 stats: .273/.328/.465; .793 OPS; 27 doubles, 13 home runs
Breaking down the San Francisco Giants UTR first baseman position will always be a sentimental occasion. Way back in 2009 when Jason Martinez, founder of @RosterResource (RosterResource.com, formerly MLBDepthCharts), gave my writing partner and I a chance to do what we love (write about under-the-radar prospects) we developed not only the daily feature you still see during the minor league regular season, but the “Breakout Player” (now “Ones to Watch”) concept as well. And I recall like it was yesterday peeking at San Francisco’s first base depth chart and seeing a young, former Texas Longhorn named Brandon Belt, whom I named as my very first San Francisco Giants Breakout selection in 2010. Well, the rest is history, and it still makes me extremely UTR proud when I see him take the field everyday. Fast forward 9 years, and here we are with 2015 – 1st rounder Chris Shaw right on Belt’s heels. Shaw is a beast and if he’s available in any dynasty league you happen to participate in, grab him immediately. Shaw dominated the first base P/A ranks heading into this feature, however playing 46 percent of his games in Double-A last season, the fact that he’s a first round draft pick, and most importantly, several UTR kids have scored very close to him P/A wise, Shaw isn’t my choice. 2015 – 23rd rounder Dillon Dobson is. The Appalachian State University draftee came to the Giants boasting not only an average hit tool, average speed and a steadfast glove, but immense raw power. The 6’2″- 220 lb. lefty was assigned to the Arizona League to start his pro career and led the roster in hits (60), RBi’s (31), batting and OPS (.297/.822; among regulars), and total bases (96). He concluded his debut season with an ineffective six-game stint with Salem-Keiser of the Northwest League (1.33/.333), but that didn’t deter the Giants from a granting Dobson sophomore season promotion to LoA Augusta, where for the second season in a row, he led the roster in hits (108), total bases (184), RBi’s (60) and also led the GreenJackets in home runs and doubles. Now, with Brandon Belt and Chris Shaw ahead of Dobson on the depth chart, what he’s done at the pro level might not be the key to earning him future major league time, but what he’s done defensively at the college level. With Appalachian State, Dobson saw time at first base, second as well as third. And coming out of college, he was tabbed as a shortstop/outfielder. Dobson is a superb athlete and has proven he can hit, but it’s his defensive diversity that may be his eventual calling card as he moves up the ladder. He should see HiA San Jose this upcoming season.
- 2B – T.J. Bennett – 22 yo
- 2.87/.761 combined: – PAG/APPA – (LoA Augusta – 5.00/1.250; Double-A Richmond – 4.00/1.000; HiA San Jose – 2.91/.756; Triple-A Sacramento – 1.50/.600)
- 2016 stats combined: .282/.356/.479; .835 OPS; 18 doubles, 9 home runs
Over the years Jim and I have researched literally thousands of players trying to find that true under-the-radar standout who will rise above the ashes and prove he belongs in the discussion with top prospects based on production, not just hype. And along the way, not only do we run across nice plump stat lines, we also encounter incredible stories, those “never-quit” moments and a player’s journey that makes your head spin off your neck. Thus is the case for this this year’s San Francisco Giants UTR OAS second baseman T.J. Bennett. If you recall my Cincinnati Reds UTR OAS post, I conceded the idea of trying to replicate the story of outfield prospect T.J. Friedl, the prospect who, through a draft loophole, signed a record contract with the Reds, and is in prime position based on his skills and production, make a strong move up the Cincinnati prospect rankings. Now, I’m not trying to compare Friedl’s ascent to pro ball to Bennett’s. Bennett is proof that a ball player simply isn’t a product of his stats. It’s the resolve that makes the player. Here is a story by writer Samantha Silver over at unashamedathletes.com that perfectly explains Bennett’s journey. An incredible journey that all of us should be inspired by and by a kid we should root for. I really do hope that Bennett continues his success with the Giants, because this is the exact type of organization that can help maximize the potential of a true-under-the-radar talent, helping turn Bennett into a fully polished professional baseball player.
- 3B – Miguel Gomez – 22 yo
- 3.53/.824 combined: – PAG/APPA – (LoA Augusta – 3.65/.846; HiA San Jose – 3.35/.791)
- 2016 stats combined: .330/.363/.519; .882 OPS; 26 doubles, 17 home runs
The third base position over the next two seasons will be an interesting one for the major league Giants. Near the 2016 MLB trade deadline, the San Francisco sent highly touted pitching prospect Adalberto Mejia to Minnesota and acquired 29-year-old shortstop Eduardo Nunez, adding him to a, then, injury riddled infield. However, Nunez was immediately shifted to third base (because he ain’t replacing Brandon Crawford), but is only under contract for the 2017 season. So with Nunez poised to become a free agent, what will the Giants do next at the hot corner? Whispers around Giants camp is that top hitting prospect Christian Arroyo is near ready to make his move to the majors. I won’t argue with that. He’s a bat first, glove ready infielder who’s played well everywhere he’s been. However, based on UTR, scanning down through San Francisco’s minor league depth at the position, there are several good, not great (yet), but definitely serviceable candidates. And as far as the 2016 season goes, no HiA or below prospect had nearly the season May 2012 international signee Miguel Gomez had. The 5’10”- 185 lb. Dominican split time between Lo and HiA and ironically, posted better overall numbers in the Sally League than he did in the high octane atmosphere of the Cal League. Despite playing only 66 games of the GreenJackets 139 games, Gomez led the team in batting (.371) ranked fourth on the team in hits (99), doubles (17) and total bases (142). Gomez received a promotion to HiA San Jose in mid-July and carried a solid .435 extra-base percentage and a respectable average the rest of the season. Gomez is the kind of prospect that helps raise the prospect floor, yet doesn’t have that high of a ceiling. I expect the Giants to give Christian Arroyo every chance to earn the third base job in 2018, with a healthy audition for it during the second half of the upcoming season. With Miguel Gomez spending all of 2017 as a 24-year-old in Hi or Double-A, he will find himself off the UTR map just as Arroyo is getting his feet wet at the hot corner in AT&T Park.
- SS – Jose Rivero – 18 yo
- 2.96/.697: – PAG/APPA – (DSL)
- 2016 stats: .253/.361/.308; .669 OPS; 9 doubles, 0 home runs
What really makes the UTR OAS series fun is finding those kids who not only possess the prototypical skills to play a certain position, but also have that extra boost in their game that sets them apart from the rest. Take for example, Giants catcher Buster Posey. As I pointed out earlier, Posey, statistically, is on pace to sit among the games all-time greats. What sets him apart from the prototypical skills that make up an all-star catcher is his power. He averages 21 home runs a season, but when looking at the totem pole of skills a catcher requires to be a legitimate prospect, power sits near the bottom. So, when scanning Giant shortstops, I came across several pedestrian prospects. One of which was this year’s UTR OAS Jose Rivero. San Francisco signed the 6’0″- 160 lb. Venezuelan to a deal at the July international signing period in 2014. The defensive minded teen didn’t see game action until the following season, where the lefty hit a paltry .204 with six extra base hits and 22 runs scored in 41 games. However, he committed 10 errors for the DSL squad. This past season Rivero repeated the Dominican Summer League and saw improvement across the board. He batted .253 with 9 doubles, but he finished the season with the highest on-base percentage among HiA and down shortstops and earned nearly as many free passes (33) as he had strikeouts (36). The glove suffered a bit as Rivero doubled his error count from the previous season, but overall, as a prospect he improved. He isn’t sexy, but you don’t have to be to become a major leaguer. I brought up Posey earlier and Giant shortstop Brandon Crawford is also an example. On the offensive side, Crawford isn’t special. Last year he posted a P/A score of 2.95/.727, but when running career numbers? 2.45/.662. I don’t think he’ll be writing letters to his grandma bragging about his offensive prowess anytime soon folks, but what sets Crawford apart is his glove and leadership on the field. What Rivero did last year was a big step in the right direction. If he can shore up his glove, and add that to his growing bat and on-base skills, the Giants could have a nice prospect on their hands. It’s a great thing to celebrate those special players the game of baseball has to offer. But on the flip side, it’s also good to acknowledge those who do the job exactly the way a position calls for. That gets lost sometimes in today’s game.
- LF – Jacob Heyward – 20 yo
- 4.84/1.084 combined: – PAG/APPA – (AZL – 4.89/1.096; Short Season Salem-Keizer – 4.50/1.000)
- 2016 stats combined: .330/.483/.560; 1.042 OPS; 12 doubles, 5 triples, 1 home run; 11 stolen bases
If you’ve been a follower of our work/website for a long time, you are then familiar with the fact that I’m not big on player rankings or player comparisons. Our only goal is bringing attention to kids who may not be getting enough of it. Plus, who am I to say that this shortstop is better than that pitcher? It’s impossible and ludicrous, however there are some instances where player comparisons are near unavoidable. Such is the case with 2016 – 18th rounder Jacob Heyward. If you’re looking at the name saying to yourself how familiar it looks, it’s because Jacob is the younger brother of major league star Jason of the Chicago Cubs. Older brother Jason, who’s entering his eighth year in the majors, was drafted by Atlanta in the first round out of Henry County HS (GA) and spent his first five seasons with the Braves. He moved on to St. Louis in 2015 and during the following off-season, signed an 8 year-$184 million dollar contract with the Chicago Cubs, winning a World Series championship in his first season. His career P/A numbers of 2.97/.720 indicate that he’s an extremely solid, but not spectacular player; and a when a player of Heyward’s “projected” magnitude only produces solid, yet unspectacular numbers, that effect can be detrimental to siblings trying to make a name for themselves as well. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I feel sorry for Jacob Heyward. He came to the Giants with obvious pedigree, however he boasts a strong arm (he’s been clocked in the mid 90’s off the mound), has above average speed and can hit for power. Jacob lived up to those skills while also leading all HiA and down left fielders in P/A score as well as the entire slash line you see above in bold. I could see the Giants repeating the younger Heyward in Short Season ball, but I say challenge the kid. See what he has. What do you have to lose for a kid like Jacob? Because no matter whether he struggles, he won’t be as good as his brother. If he’s successful, it’s because he’s “following in his brother’s footsteps.” Either way, Jacob will always be playing in his brother’s shadow, and I find that disheartening, because he’s a talented young player who needs to carve his own path.
- CF – Bryan Reynolds – 21 yo
- 3.55/.840 combined: – PAG/APPA – (Short Season Salem-Keizer – 3.76/.908; LoA Augusta – 3.19/.773)
- 2016 stats combined: .313/.363/.484; .847 OPS; 17 doubles, 6 home runs
One of the common themes you see within the UTR OAS series is Jim and I working hard to promote kids who aren’t sitting within the top prospect lists of their respective system. Well, sometimes a top prospect has too good a season to pass up. I’ve learned over the years that the law of averages are the true litmus test in gauging prospect success. However, staying true to our own brand of analysis, and despite 2016 – 2nd round draft pick Bryan Reynolds being a top 5 prospect within the system, pound-for-pound, he had the best season among centerfielders and second place really wasn’t that close. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as Reynolds spent three years at the University of Vanderbilt killing the ball. Reynold’s logged a PAG score of 4.23, batted a career .329 with 22 home runs, 168 runs scored and 160 RBi’s. Not a bad resume for a kid projected to be a first round draft choice, but fell to San Francisco in the second. There really isn’t anything the 6’3″- 200 lb. switch-hitter can’t do well: batting average, speed, arm strength, a solid fielder who can play all three outfield positions and power. I love him and Reynolds should advance to either HiA San Jose and maybe even reach Double-A Richmond by the end of 2018. If you have a spot on your deep dynasty league bench and need as solid a minor league outfield as they come, keep an eye on Reynolds and hope that he bursts out of the gate, then add him. If everything clicks, it might be sooner rather than later he’s contributing to your fantasy team.
- RF – Heath Quinn – 21 yo
- 3.97/.891 combined: – PAG/APPA – (AZL – 5.00/1.111; Short Season Salem-Keizer – 4.02/.908; LoA Augusta – 2.75/.579)
- 2016 stats combined: .344/.434/.564; .998 OPS; 17 doubles, 6 home runs
Of all the Giant position players analyzed, right field offered the most competition among UTR candidates. And when you look closer at the organizational hierarchy, right field actually looks to be the position to be in because eventually there’s going to be a clear path to AT&T Park. Sadly, as much as I absolutely love major league veteran Hunter Pence, he isn’t getting any younger. But despite entering his 11th year in the league, and playing only 158 games over the last two seasons, the 34-year-old Pence brings a P/A average of 3.35/.789 to the field, which is a pretty damn good number to sustain over that long a career. Looking back through the organization, however, there is promise. Some experts say the most promise in right field sits within 18-year-old Dominican Sandro Fabian. I won’t argue that claim one bit. Over his first two seasons (DSL in 2015, AZL in 2016), the 6’1″- 180 lb. righty boasts a 3.24/.754 P/A score, but really busted out in 2016 with a 3.76/.908 score. But listen, you know how Jim and I do things around here. With all eyes popping over Fabian, my 2016 focus was on this year’s UTR OAS Heath Quinn. The 6’2″- 190 lb. righty was taken in the 3rd round out of Samford University this past season and the one thing that stood out about Quinn? Power, and lots of it. As a three-year starter at Samford, Quinn belted 44 home runs, drove in 181, but also batted .334. In 2015, the Birmingham, AL native batted .314 for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League. All of which indicates that Quinn is far more than just a power bat. Quinn is the type of player you find in fantasy drafts and say to yourself, “Whoa, how didn’t I notice him before?” Because he defines the high-floor type prospect. And those are the type of players that help you win championships. Quinn isn’t the high ceiling first, second or third round player that Fabian projects to be. Quinn is that quintessential 10th to 12th round type player who outperforms his ADP every year. And that’s the true guts of UTR. The Giants are known as one of the most homegrown favorable organizations in the majors. All-world catcher Buster Posey, starter Madison Bumgarner, former UTR Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik to name a few; and top pitching prospect Tyler Beede along with infielder Christian Arroyo could make an impact as soon as this season. I feel Quinn has the overall game add to this mix real soon and possibly help bring another title to San Francisco. Add Quinn to any deep minor league fantasy rosters with confidence.