Catching up... and Go Houston!
Wouldn't It Be Nice
First, Brian Wilson, who charged up the minors in 2005 and would have been one of the top highlight of the Giants Farm System had a number of other pitchers not outdo him and get to the majors and do well (but Wilson similar to Munter, Munter charged up the minors in 2004 before getting his chance in 2005 and both got to play in AFL too), is playing in the Arizona Fall League, has been writing a journal for MLB.com, some of which you can find here. Funny guy (even took a question about Brian Wilson, the Beach Boy), seems to know himself, mature, self-assured, self-aware, even "learned" a new pitch with this column. What I read in this column is what pushed me to put him in the RP section in my Autopsy series, I think he is going to make it as a reliever with that mindset and now that his arm is healthy. Plus, if he is able to develop these other pitches, the Giants might even try him out in the starting rotation, though right now I think they need relievers in the near term more than a starter.
6 Designated for Assignment
Recently announced was the designation for assignment of six players: Brian Cooper, Matt Kinney, Yamid Haad, Doug Clark, Julio Ramirez, and Adam Shabala. Cooper rejected his designation and became a free agent; this has become an annual ritual for the Giants and Cooper, he likes the familiarity of the Giants, they like his being able to come into Fresno and taking a spot when needed, but he likes to be free to check out other possible employ outside the U.S., I believe he has been playing in Japan whenever they ask for him, then would use the Giants as a fallback, and vice-versa. The other players had their cup of coffee in the majors this year (or additional cup) and, obviously, were found lacking. None of them were big shocks, though I thought that Kinney did enough at AAA to warrant another try, perhaps as reliever?
According to a Diary at McCovey Chronicles, this is a precursor to putting a number of our top prospects to prevent them from being drafted away in the Rule 5 Draft; someone also noted that the Giants will also gain open spots when Tomko, Snow, Fassero, and Eyre become free agents. Excellent post to read for thoughts about this process and for learning more about this process.
Joe Bateman - Why No Love?
Lastly, I wrote some stuff on Bateman as a prospect on another diary. I have liked Bateman - not exactly sure why as he is unheralded, something in my gut since mid-last summer - so I didn't understand why he didn't get a promotion this past season, especially since he pitched at AA in 2004 and did well there as well.
Thinking about it, my best guess is that the Giants had two basic conflicting goals. One is the need to promote pitchers doing very well fast in case they are needed at the MLB level. Munter, Accardo, got fast trips up the minors to the majors, and Taschner essentially jumped from AA to the majors, after a short spell at AAA this year and horrible stint last year. The other was that the Giants have clearly annointed the players in San Jose as a group that they are preparing for the 2008-9 timeframe and want to build camraderie and chemistry among them PLUS give them all the chance to experience success by winning.
Perhaps they saw Bateman as a AA, AAA-tops, in terms of development this year while they saw the chance in Accardo and Taschner in advancing to the big show at the start of the season. Which fits with most assessments of the Giants farm system, Accardo and Taschner have gotten noticed whereas Bateman is rarely mentioned. Then as the season progressed, they wanted to keep Bateman there as long as things were going well there. And they had a nice set of relievers all season long: Bateman (co-closer with Hedrick), Coutlangus, Justin Hedrick, Eugene Espinelli (who got a promotion to Fresno I guess because he was not a closer?), plus Jason Waddell came in mid-season (replacing Espinelli essentially) and Brooks McNiven did nicely, switching between relieving and spot starts.
However, John Manuel said this about him last winter: "Sleeper pitcher in the system? I'll say Joe Bateman as a sleeper, possible middle relief help this year, unique arm angle, great command, no fear." I guess we will see where Bateman stands with the Giants soon, because if he isn't placed on the 40 man, he would be eligible to be drafted away via the Rule 5 draft, according to what I read at McCovey.
Hopefully not, as my gut says that I should keep watching him; I have the same gut feeling for him that I had a couple of AFL seasons ago when following Jason Frasor and he went on to do nicely for Toronto the past two seasons (Dodgers traded him for Jayson Werth so that's a trade that worked out for both teams, though fortunately better for Toronto). Then again, what has my gut done for me lately, other than become a spare tire. :^)