A Place To Talk About Giants Baseball

The Giants and Their Pitching Poor Minor League System

Posted in Uncategorized by Flavor on January 27, 2012

Are you in trouble if you find out that your best starting pitching prospect in the minors is Eric Surkamp? Yikes. How did this get so bad? For years the Giants focused on nothing BUT drafting and developing pitchers. Over the last few years they’ve stock piled some pretty decent hitting prospects and that’s one reason why Steve Decker has been re-assigned to work as the Coordinator of Minor League Hitting. This is actually good news. I’ve always felt it would be a better approach to draft hitters so they would HAVE to play for us at ATT rather than try to sign them as free agents (and most of them don’t want to come to SF to hit). Conversely, free agent pitchers would be much more likely to want to sign with SF because of our park dimensions. We haven’t seen Sabean dabble in the FA pitching dept because that staff has been rock solid for the last few years and we’re all still feeling the effects of the Zito hangover. But the free agent pitcher route COULD be the direction Sabean is forced to start taking in the upcoming years…….

But back to the minor league pitching system. What happened to it? The problem isn’t that we aren’t drafting pitchers. We are.

In 2008, we drafted 8 pitchers in the 1st 12 rounds.

In 2009, we drafted 8 pitchers in the 1st 15 rounds (Wheeler was our #1 draft pick this year)

In 2010, we drafted 9 pitchers in the first 18 rounds

IN 2011, we drafted 14 pitchers in the 1st 22 rounds…..

That’s 39 pitchers. And that number is actually much higher since I only looked at a select number of rounds in each of those years……

We haven’t stopped drafting pitchers. We have either stopped drafting GOOD pitchers or we have stopped developing them. Or both. In the 4 years of drafts listed above, the notable draftees are Wheeler (gone), Hembree (future closer) and Surkamp (drafted in 6th rd of ’08). What has become of the other 36 pitchers drafted? I haven’t taken the time to follow where each of them is as of this moment but I’m guessing it’s not good. The ’10-’11 guys are being *developed* so they get a mini-pass but it’s not like we are *hearing* anything about them as hot prospects. And the ’08–’09 guys better get it going quick or they are headed for a new profession and/or AAA staff filler stuff……

But make no mistake about it, if we’re talking about who’s up next as a starting pitcher from the minors it’s Eric Surkamp and he’s standing in a line of one. It’s not the end of the world, especially for 2012. We are likely only going to need to fill the 5 hole once we DL Zito with a phantom injury around the middle of May. That’s why the Giants signed a guy like Clay Hensley yesterday. He’s on a non-guaranteed mlb deal. They’re probably sign at least one more guy like that…….

It’s not time to panic yet. But I hope we are developing the shit out of the 2010-11 pitching draftees because holes in the rotation are coming in future years and if our current staff is ever hit with an injury bug we are totally screwed for that season. We need to hit something big in this upcoming draft……

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  1. Bozo said, on January 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Well, we drafted Bum in 07 and that worked out pretty well, but that was one in how many? For every Bum, Timmy and Cain how many others were drafted but didn’t make it? I like the Hensley signing, he’s played for Boch in SD and with Zit as our number 5 we’re going to need a long guy outta the pen. I think Clay could fill that roll as well as an emergency starter.
    Most of the pitchers we drafted in the past were used in trading for position players. So I agree drafting hitters is a sound strategy for the reasons that you posted Flav.

    • Alleykat said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Yeah Bozo…Hit gold with Bum,but just Fools gold with Wendell Fairley their other first round pick that year.He’s a Bust.

  2. willieD said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

    yesterday thread was really cool. I couldn’t come up with just 5, but a few guys that were cool players I really dug watching that didn’t make the cut from others:
    Omar vizquel–just the smoothest, made SS look like he could do it in his sleep.
    Jesus Alou–awesome neck rolls, and puro slasher from the bad vlad school of hitting (BBs are for pussies).
    DP combo of Uribe and Thompson–consistently excellent when needed most under any condition.
    “downtown” ollie brown–killer arm from RF, lot of power when he actually made contact
    tito fuentes, btw, is responsible for one of the most famous to me of all time pix I can remember seeing as a kid in the Chron: he is holding the bat fully extended ready to whomp some LA butt in the Marichal/Roseboro incident. First guy I remember with the mega bling chains too.
    kenny lofton (great b-ball player at AZ too) was a guy whose game I always dug, and like reggie sanders i could never figure out why SF didn’t make better effort to keep this guy.

    • DJLoo said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Would you believe Tito had been in the majors all of about 4 days when that happened?

      I loved Jesus & Ollie, too Willie. So many others my head could explode thinking about it. One name I’ve never seen mentioned here is Marichal wannabe Elias Sosa…

  3. stixwiz said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Just off the wire. Giants get Ryan Theriot on a one year deal for $1.25M. Those fretting about Crawford’s bat and Freddy’s propensity to injury can let out a sigh of relief. Though once a speedster with a raft of SBs in his early Cubbies years, Theriot does not run much any more and he is quite lacking in pop. He does sport a decent OBP in the .320-330 range as his walks to strikeout ratio is not bad. Whether subbing in the 2-hole or batting 8th, Theriot should be a pest at getting on base at a fair clip.

    My biggest worry in this move is the immediate effect it will have on “play the vet and let the kid stew” manager. Bochy is gonna tend to want to run this guy out there on a pretty regular basis. Being reunited with his fellow Cajun buddy Fontenot should be good for both of them. Infield depth is now a strong suit for the team. Likely that Manny Burriss will be riding the Fresno bus unless he surprises.

    The Hensley deal may not be that bad of a pickup. Coming home to the team that drafted him in the 8th round in ’02 and out of the Miami morass where he appeared in close to 70 games in relief last season, Hensley could be a good revival candidate. In his second year in the bigs Hensley was primarily a starter for the Dagos, posting a 3.71 ERA The spacious park and the Righetti touch may be just the tonic Clay needs to revive a career that saw him post mediocre numbers in the Florida heat last season. Though not a long-man per se, Hensley could be envisioned as a possible spot starter. His ML contract is NOT guaranteed, so it could be sink or swim in ST,

    Now the question is, will the Giants pick up an OFer on the cheap as that is the area where player depth is pretty sparse.

  4. Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Giants just signed Ryan Theriot. Some interest there. Reuniting him with his old college (and Cub) teammate Fontenot.
    He should steal more than he does and he takes no walks but I like this signing…..

  5. Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I like the Theriot signing mostly because I don’t have that much faith in Burriss or Crawford or Franchez (to stay healthy).
    If he’s not running anymore though, and he doesn’t appear to be, then he really doesn’t bring anything else interesting to the table besides a vet-presence……..

  6. gianthead said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I cant believe I missed yesterday’s post, so if you all dont mind me giving my Top 5 today…

    1) Will Clark – Sorry to copy Flav, but he transformed the entire organization from the moment of his first at bat taking Nolan Ryan deep. I hade been an everyday fan from probably starting in 1979, and this was the first moment of pure hope of transforming a losing frachise. Just in his second year, they win the division for the first time in my fanhood (though they go and blow their shot at getting to the World Series). The next year, he starts the monumental fight with Jose Oquendo and Ozzie Smith (maybe should go down as the greatest moment in Giants history between 1962 and 1989), then and then in his fourth year, leads the team past the Cubs with that Grand Slam that drove Flav through a window and into the first World Series in my life time. First time I was really upset when A Giants player was essentially forced out….plus I had a chance to meet Will before he left.

    2) Roger Craig – Since you did not limit this to players and just to Giants, Roger Craig was a huge influence with his skill of managing pitching staffs and his Humm Baby attitude that he instilled into those teams. Along with Will Clark, the other most important person to transform a losing organization. I was there at teh Stick for his last game as a manager in 1992. I can picture seeing Craig waving to the crowd that was expecting the Giants to be Tampa bound as he walked off the field for the last time.

    3) Tim Lincecum – What can you say…two Cy Youngs in his first two full seasons. If he leaves in two years for Seattle or elsewhere, my opinion may change.

    4) Now this is starting to get hard. I think if you remove one’s post-steroids cloudiness of your views of Bonds, you have to remember how great you felt in his presence in the ballpark. You have to force yourself to remember how incredible he was in his first year in 1993 where he lead the team to 103 wins and alll his MVP performances before there was nay hint of steroid accusations. It is always hard to feel that warmly to him because of his personality of elusiveness. But one cannot deny his greatness before there was any hint of steroids.

    5) The toughest pick, but have to go with Brian Wilson. His personality has been bigger than any Giants in our lifetimes. Who has ever had such commercial exposure nationally. I will be 100 years old and will look back at this persiod and when I think of The Bear, I will start laughing uncontrollably, causing great concern to my great-granchildren.

    Honorable mentions:

    Jeff Kent (the most ignored great Giant in our lifetimes), Kevin Mitchell, Rod Beck, Jason Schmidt, Robbie Thompson, Matty Williams, Jeff “Hacman” leanrd (inspiration of this blog name), Russ Ortiz and Dusty Baker. When Baker was there for a decade, it was the greatest overall playoff period for the Giants in their SF history. Just his inconsistent management in big games, especially blowing Game 6 by pulling frickin Russ Ortiz has left many of us bitter about his memory, but through those years, his upbeat personality really defined the Giants of ther 90s and early 2000s. He deserves a solid mention!

  7. St said, on January 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    At that price, Theriot is as good as was out there. Bye bye Manny?

    First rd since 65. G’s have had some doozies.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/draft/history/_/team/sfo

    • Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

      the Torcato one was my favorite. Next pick: CC Sabathia. Dude was in our own backyard too. That makes it that much more infuriating…..

      • Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 11:42 am

        shit, did Sabean overlook the ’98 draft? Shit, 3 picks in the first 30 and we got NADA….

    • Bozo said, on January 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      For the record, I don’t see my name on that list anywhere. Big mistake by the Giants, HUGE.

  8. snarkk said, on January 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Great thread, BF. I learned a lot from that, and it confirms my suspicions about the supposedly great improvement in the Giants farm system. So far, the rumored improvement in position players in the system is just that, a big fat rumor. Belt looks like a player, but we really don’t know. Brown looks like a player, but he sorta cratered in the Fall League, so we’ll see how he does in AA. Burriss? Come on. Crawford can field, yes, but can he hit? Hello, retread Theriot. The rest of these minor league dudes we hear about are ghosts unless and until they actually show up at ATT and contribute. Panda is still the only real impact position guy the minors have pushed up to the Giants in over a decade. Great that Sabes picked him, but I wouldn’t call Posey a development guy, he was a can’t miss Golden Spike and came up like a rocket. In other words, we’re waiting for all this supposed developing position talent to make an impact. It’s taking a pretty long while, so I’ll believe it when I see it. As for the pitching cupboard being bare, Sabean and Tidrow are supposed to be pitching gurus. Looks like the gurus have lost their mojo. I expect Sabes will be around another coupla years, then he will leave right when the wheels come off the pitching staff, and we’re looking at a suckage team for half a decade again. Still, your point about ATT is what I’ve been saying for ages about Sabean having the big picture basackwards until recently. Focus on drafting the position players, getting guys with speed and batting approaches conducive to the big ATT dimensions. Then, draft/develop pitching as best you can (your thread shows that part is fffftttt the last few years). The position guys coming up MUST play at ATT, so fill in the staff holes with FA pitching. The pitchers will want to come to ATT, whereas good, impact position FAs won’t unless you ridiculously overpay. The big problem with that approach is that good FA pitching costs money. And, with the poor cash-strapped Giants only pulling in 3.2 million customers every year, that’s a problem with the ever lurking BUDGET…

  9. unca_chuck said, on January 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Shit, 1989 to 2000 is a Who’s Who of who?

  10. twinfan1 said, on January 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    As recently as yesterday and going back months I’ve up pointed the dearth of starting pitching in the system. As far as position players, they seem to go to Richmond to die…
    It’s not like that should be a surprise if one follows the team. The system was rated highly until Buster and Madbum made the big club. Now they’re back where to they always are- all the “prospects” are in San Jose..

    • Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      Just tryin’ to get a discussion going. Sorry that yet another one of my threads fails to interest you.

  11. twinfan1 said, on January 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I think it’s a good thread. That’s why I’ve tried to get it going a few times. But you’ve fleshed it out.

  12. twinfan1 said, on January 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    They had to sign someone to back up Crawford, neither Font or Manny are acceptable shortstops.

  13. Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Seems to me the safe thing to do is keep both Font and Theriot. They are the proven, if unspectacular, players at this level. Crawford and Franchez are both big question marks (Craw to show he can hit consistently at this level and Franchez to show he can stay healthy).
    I just don’t see a point in keeping Burriss around unless you want him hanging around during ST to replace someone who gets hurt………

  14. twinfan1 said, on January 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I agree that Burriss is probably gone.

  15. Big flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Font’s contract is guaranteed, the other two guy’s aren’t. I seem to recall Burriss having decent springs. Theriot better not come in and think he’s got a job all sewn up

  16. PawlieKokonuts said, on January 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I can’t get yesterday’s thread outta my mind. Driving me nuts.

    23. Freddy Sanchez, for his 2010 WS Game 5 performance if nothing else.

    27. Cain. Because he is Hoss.

    41. Bengilina. For a HR he hit in CitiField the day I was there, when David Wright got beaned.

    79. Randy Winn, for game-winnig hit in 2009 when we were there. And because he was classy.

    97. Eugenio Velez, for being so friendly and giving an autograph to my daughter.

  17. blade3colorado said, on January 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    5034. John Bowker for being the inspiration for that term, “Bowker Gang.”,

    • Flavor said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      I still think that gang sounds like a group of bad asses. Kevin Mitchell-type, 70’s old school BADASSES. 🙂

      • DJLoo said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

        I always liked the term “Bowker Gang.”
        Who were the charter members?

      • Flavor said, on January 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

        good Q. Well, we know one was Bowker. I think Linden and Ort-Rod were in there. Who was that ss that player for us? I think he started opening day back in ’08 or so. We made juvenile jokes about his name. Hmmm. It’ll come to me. I kinda want to say Nate was in there too but I could be wrong. I’m sure I’m missing some guys.

  18. SanDawg said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I think Nate, Burriss, Eugenio were all charter members. At one time I started a post where I compared each member of the Bowker Gang to characters from the movie “Warriors.” I never got around to finishing it, but I thought it had potential to be a hoot…you know Velez= Rembrandt, Bowker = Swan, Nate = Fox,something like that. I can’t remember who Ajax (James Remar) was. Might have actually been Bowker himself.

  19. DJLoo said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Where’s the love for Jim Ray Hart? Great #5 hitter till a bum shoulder and alcohol took him down…

    • ewisco said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      don’t those two just slay us all?

    • Alleykat said, on January 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Loved Jim Ray Hart ,Loo.Also Cap Peterson.

  20. zumie said, on January 28, 2012 at 12:57 am

    My Top 5 favorite Giants…..
    1. Bobby Bonds
    2. Tim Lincecum
    3. Will Clark
    4. Matt Cain
    5. Buster Posey


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