Keith Law: San Francisco Giants

Draft no 'crapshoot' for Giants and Royals 

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
12:03
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Brian Sabean & Dayton MooreAP PhotoFirst-round talent was crucial for Brian Sabean and Dayton Moore in roster construction.
When I pointed out on Twitter after Game 5 that the two most important players on the Giants' roster, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, were both high first-round picks (10th and fifth overall, respectively, in consecutive drafts), a few readers misread the tweet as a definitive statement on the value of the first round. That research has been done at great length by folks inside and outside the industry, and the conclusions are clear: Your best chance to get a star comes high in the first round, and the expected value of a pick drops almost logarithmically from the top overall pick on down.

My point on Twitter was aimed more at the litany of folks who don't follow the draft closely and call it a "crapshoot." It's not -- it's far from perfect, but if you want an anecdotal example of how important nailing your first-round picks can be, take a look at the two clubs in the Series.

Below I've simply laid out the most important/most-used players on each roster and broken down how they came into the organization. If you're going to claim that scouts are little better than random chance when selecting amateur players in the draft, you've got an uphill battle.

Kansas City

Looking at their nine primary position players (below)

My predictions for the NLDS matchups 

October, 3, 2014
Oct 3
12:17
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Jake Peavy and Stephen StrasburgUSA TODAY SportsJake Peavy and Stephen Strasburg square off in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday afternoon.
I posted my thoughts on both American League Division Series yesterday, so here is the companion piece, predictions for both National League Division Series and with my rationales. My early guess at the World Series matchup and winner is below.

San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals

 
 

I think the Nationals are the best team in the postseason, and also the team best built for the postseason, which is not necessarily the same thing, but both are applicable in this case.

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Giants fill critical need with Peavy 

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
1:19
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PeavyAP Photo/Nathan DenetteJake Peavy has gone 13 straight starts without walking more than three batters in an outing.
The San Francisco Giants get a huge boost to their rotation, shoring up a surprising weakness in their club, while the Boston Red Sox clear some funds and acquire a fringy starter prospect and a solid relief arm that has had trouble staying healthy.

Jake Peavy gives the Giants exactly what they needed: a starter to provide what they thought they'd be getting from Tim Lincecum and who keeps Yusmeiro Petit out of the rotation.

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Jorge AlfaroMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRangers prospect Jorge Alfaro was the best player in the California-Carolina leagues All-Star game.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks played host to this year's California-Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday. The game, which the visiting California League squad won 4-2, featured players from 18 different organizations.

Here are my notes on a handful of players who stood out or on whom I’ve received questions over the past 24 hours:

" Texas Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro put on the day’s most impressive display. The Class A catcher tripled, ran well and threw out a runner at second. Even though the triple was aided by a misplay by outfielder Hunter Renfroe, Alfaro demonstrated noticeable hand and wrist strength driving a lefty’s changeup to the opposite field. He also nailed Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect Kyle Waldrop with a laser throw to second base.

" Waldrop hit the game’s only home run and was selected as game MVP. He’s got some legitimate pull power but probably needs a trip to Double-A so the organization can see how much of his improvement this year is the result of repeating Class A. I still think Jesse Winker -- his teammate with the Bakersfield Blaze and in the All-Star Game -- is a better prospect.

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Ike DavisJustin Berl/Icon SMIIke Davis' trade to the Pirates was completed on Sunday, with the Mets acquiring Blake Taylor.
On Sunday, the Mets and Pirates put a face on the “player-to-be-named” component of the trade from earlier this season that sent Ike Davis to Pittsburgh, with New York acquiring lefty Blake Taylor, the Pirates' second-round pick from last year's Rule 4 draft.

Taylor, who won't turn 19 until August, hasn't pitched this year because of a lat strain that kept him in extended spring training. When healthy, he has a fastball that's mostly 89-91 mph with some life, but he was clocked as high as 94-95 in high school. His main feature is a sharp-breaking curveball that should allow him to miss left- and right-handed bats as he fills out and adds a little velocity to the pitch.

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Five teams with new No. 1 prospects 

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
9:55
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RodonAP Photo/Mark CrammerHard-throwing lefty Carlos Rodon leaps to the top of the White Sox's system.
Law's 2014 draft archive: Winners and questions Insider | AL analysis Insider | NL analysis Insider

The 2014 Rule 4 Draft is over, which means every club just got an influx of top talent into its farm system. Assuming all these top picks sign, here are five teams who just acquired a new No. 1 prospect as well as notes on two other teams' first overall picks and where they might slot into the prospect rankings of each organization.

Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon, LHP

The White Sox's top two prospects coming into 2014, Erik Johnson and Matt Davidson, have disappointed thus far.

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Assignments for Law's top prospects 

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
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With the help of Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider, we have compiled the minor league assignments for all prospects in Keith Law's organizational top 10 rankings.

Due to injuries and late assignments, some minor league rosters are not yet official. In those instances, we took our best guess as to where those prospects will be assigned to begin the year.

Note: Players with an asterisk have been traded since the top-10 lists came out, and they are listed with their assignment for their new club.


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Picking division and award winners 

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
9:54
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Yu DarvishAP Photo/Darron CummingsThe AL leader in strikeout rate last year, Yu Darvish is an AL Cy Young frontrunner.
Keith Law offers up his win-loss predictions for all 30 teams and winners for the six major postseason awards. Furthermore, explanations for each team are included, along with notes on key players or possible impact call-ups. Award predictions follow the division picks.

AL East

It's hard to pick against a Boston Red Sox team that returns so many of the players who helped them win the World Series last year, losing Stephen Drew but replacing him with one of the majors' best rookies in Xander Bogaerts.

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Shipley shows elite off-speed stuff 

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
10:26
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Braden ShipleyMike Janes/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesBraden Shipley is flashing a plus curve to go with his filthy changeup.
Right-hander Braden Shipley, the Arizona Diamondbacks' first-round pick last June, threw four innings in a low Class A game on Thursday, looking good in almost every respect, especially with his curveball -- the main question scouts had on him as an amateur at Nevada.

Shipley's fastball was 90-94 mph, mostly 90-92, getting some downhill plane but nowhere near consistent enough in that respect; nearly all the damage he gave up came when he left fastballs up, including the three-run double hit by Jonah Arenado (Nolan's brother) on a 92 mph first-pitch fastball that got way too much plate.

However, Shipley's secondary stuff was superb.

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Mookie BettsMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRed Sox second-base prospect Mookie Betts is currently blocked by All-Star Dustin Pedroia.
My annual ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball and the top 10 (or more) prospects in each organization is completely organization-neutral: I don't consider the makeup of the club each prospect plays for when evaluating his potential as a major leaguer.

Many prospects on the list each year will face some obstacles in reaching the majors with their current employers because they're blocked by more established players, or even other prospects higher up in the system, and I've outlined the six prospects most affected by this phenomenon below.

I didn't include pitchers here because the injury rate for starters is high enough that no starting pitching prospect is every truly blocked; Noah Syndergaard and Archie Bradley are one sore elbow away from reaching the majors, and you can bet that the Mets and Diamondbacks, respectively, will have such openings before the 2014 season is out.

1. Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox

Betts is the most-blocked prospect in baseball at this point. He's one of the top pure second-base prospects in the game, but he's blocked by Dustin Pedroia, who is among the majors' best second basemen and is under contract through 2021.

Betts is a great athlete and could probably play shortstop … at which he's currently blocked by uber-prospect Xander Bogaerts, and he could probably play center field, at which he's blocked by elite defender Jackie Bradley Jr.

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Now that the 2014 preseason top prospect package is complete, here are links to all of the rankings, videos, podcasts and chat wraps.

Top 100 prospects Insider
Index | Prospects No. 1-50 | Prospects 51-00
10 who just missed
Top 20 impact prospects for 2014

Top 10 prospects by team Insider
AL East | AL Central | AL West
NL East | NL Central | NL West
Astros No. 1 in farm system rankings

Videos Video
Why Buxton is the No. 1 prospect
AL breakout prospects | NL breakout prospects
Twins, Pirates just behind Astros in farm rankings

Podcast Listen
Discussing the top 100 rankings
Xander Bogaerts and Mets GM Sandy Alderson

Chat wraps
Keith Law
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow
Byron Buxton
Addison Russell

Tim Hudson deal looks good for Giants 

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
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The San Francisco Giants overpaid for one of their own starters last month when they gave Tim Lincecum a two-year deal worth more per year than the qualifying offer would have cost. But they seem to have spent their money more efficiently on Tim Hudson, getting a better pitcher whose market may have been limited by his season-ending ankle injury, for a deal reportedly worth $23 million over two years.

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Giants pay Lincecum for past glory 

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
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By giving Tim Lincecum a two-year, $35 million contract, the Giants seem to be paying him for the pitcher he used to be during his peak years, not the pitcher he's been in the past two or even three seasons. It's a glorified thank-you gesture, one that might even have come from ownership rather than GM Brian Sabean. Lincecum has been close to replacement-level the past two years, yet the Giants will pay him like he's an average or better starter who's good for 200-plus innings.

He was just barely good enough in 2013 to restore some confusion to his future; after 2012 he seemed like a lock for a transition to relief, but he had stretches this year when he looked like a potential fourth starter in a market where those guys are often paid close to $10 million a year.

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Scouting the Giants' top draft picks 

August, 13, 2013
8/13/13
4:15
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Christian ArroyoAP Photo/Larry GorenChristian Arroyo, San Francisco's 2013 first round selection, impressed in the Arizona League.
I stopped by the Arizona League Giants' home game on Monday to see their top two picks from this June, first-rounder Christian Arroyo and second-rounder Ryder Jones, as well as a few lower-tier prospects.

Arroyo was the most impressive of the group, primarily for his swing and ability to put the bat on the ball. He squared up several pitches and also showed he could foul off a lot of pitches that were too tough to hit well. He's already rotating his hips when his front leg lands, but otherwise his swing is very simple and direct, with a small load and quick path to the ball. Arroyo also has a great follow-through for line-drive power. His actions at shortstop are fine as long as the ball is hit to him or to his left, but to his right, his first step isn't quick enough and he doesn't have the arm for the long throw from the hole.

I think he ends up at second base, but has a chance for a grade-60 bat or better, which would make him at least a solid regular. For Giants fans looking for a comparison, I like him more than I liked Joe Panik when the Giants took him at the end of the first round in 2011, viewing Panik then (and now) as a utility man at best, whereas Arroyo has a good chance to exceed that.

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Picking the 'real' All-Star teams 

June, 27, 2013
6/27/13
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If we are supposed to believe that the All-Star Game counts for something other than TV ratings and MLB revenues, why don't we see rosters built to win the game? It's part popularity contest, part reward for having a good two months to start the season, but very little about how the rosters are selected makes it look as though the teams are there to win.

Lineups built to win the game would look like All-Star lineups but would move some players around to different positions to try to build the strongest team possible, while also avoiding those hot-start players who aren't the best choices at their respective positions.

Here are the lineups, including one starter and one reliever per team, that I'd set up to give each league the best chance to win one game.

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