3.22.2006

Lefty's Post on SF Prospects

There is a great post at Lefty Malo's yesterday, titled "Temperance Movement," it discusses not the woman anthropologist on the TV show Bones, my favorite new show of the TV season (only because Grey's Anatomy technically started up last season), but how most farm systems normally only hold at any time eight future major leaguers: two position starters, two bench players, two starting pitchers, and two relievers. Or, as Lefty put it, only 4 (or 3%) of the 150 or so prospects will be valuable starters in the majors.

This backs up what I've been saying with my draft studies, that it is very hard to draft regular major leaguers. Because if it was so easy or so likely, you would have more than 3% of your farm system be valuable starters in the majors in the future. If I had the time, the corollary study to do would be to see how many players "graduate" to a starter's position in the majors each year.

I wish I had a database program, the data is probably available via retrosheet, you just have to pull up each players' first season with X number of games played/Y number of plate appearances, where X is somewhere between 120 and 140, not sure, or Y is 300 or 400 AB, or even Z for PA/game, which is at least 2.5 or 3.0, all these will need to be determined. And for pitchers, it would be the number of games started, 16 (half a season of starts), 24 (3/4 season starts), average over 5 IP per game, again, something to be thought about and determined what's the right criteria, for how do I handle, say, Francoeur, Ryan Howard, and Zach Duke, who clearly were starters at the end of the season, but played less than half. I guess if the database also covered whether they were still eligible for the ROY award, I guess that would be a great delineator.

Lefty also had a good discussion starter question: who among the Giants current prospects (excluding Cain and Hennessey) are our future two position starters and two starting pitchers. I chose EME and Marcus Sanders, both have been described in superlative terms that went beyond just themselves as players but to span the minors in Sanders case, cause he was described by one of the prospect services as the fastest prospect in the minors. For pitchers, I went with Valdez and Sanchez, as both have been described in superlative terms, Valdez for his 100 MPH fastball (rare to combine such speed with good results in the minors) and Sanchez as I noted yesterday in the Hiatt interview. I would also throw in Frandsen and Brian Wilson as just missing (assuming Wilson is slated back to starting again since he is now fully recovered from his arm surgery).

He also had two other interesting questions. One was who was the last ROY for the Giants who was a position player. I blanked on that until Lyle noted Speier as a possible one. That jogged my memory because I remembered that he started a string of three ROY awards for the Giants, Speier, Gary Mathews Sr., and Garry Maddox, if I remember the sequence right (maybe swap the last two). The only other possible ones would be Clark (Jack that is, Will definitely didn't win) and maybe Matt Williams but I don't really recall either of them winning it, they had nice first years but not outstandingly good ones that I recall, but my memory lately has been pretty bad.

The other was the last Giants prospect to make the All-Star Game in a Giants uni. My best guess would be Matt Williams since he challenged Maris' record in the strike year, which is after Clark left, they would be the only ones I would think would have a chance to play in the ASG, because after them, the best Giants position prospects were probably Marvin Benard and Chris Magruder, oh and Armando Rios, and two of them are suspected steroids users.

And lastly, technically, you have to count Cain in the mix for the starters, because he's still eligible for the ROY award, I assume the Giants purposefully held off bringing him up in order to give him a chance to win it this year. The Giants farm system looks to be in pretty good shape with so many possibilities, but this is only making up for the multi-decade slump the Giants have been in since the 1970's, with only the Clark/Thompson/Williams/Clayton brief respite we had in the late 80's/early 90's. While I know that they haven't proven to be major leaguers yet, let alone starters, so I might be jumping the gun, I truly think the farm system today is probably the strongest it has been since I started following the Giants 35 years ago, when it had all those ROY awards plus Ron Bryant, John "the Count" Montefusco, Ed Halicki, Jim Barr, coming up.

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