Bay Area Products on MiLB Rosters

Aside

As promised, here’s a list of minor leaguers from the Bay Area. This ended up being a much larger task than I thought, but I forgot how many high schools/colleges/junior colleges are in the Bay Area and how much talent there is. I’ll keep adding to it as I find more players.

San Francisco Giants

  • Mitchell Delfino, IF (High-A San Jose Giants) – Cal
  • Myles Schroder, C (AA Richmond Flying Squirrels) – DVC
  • Martin Agosta, P (High-A San Jose Giants) – SMC
  • Joe Biagini, P (High-A San Jose Giants) – Sunnyvale, Davis
  • Brian Ragira, IF (High-A San Jose Giants) – Stanford
  • Christian Jones, P (Low-A Augusta Greenjackets) – Monta Vista HS (Danville)
  • Matt Chavez, IF (Low-A Augusta Greenjackets) – Burlingame, USF
  • Garrett Hughes, P (Medical List) – Stanford

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Stefen Henderson, OF (AZL Short Season) – Hogan HS, Academy of Art
  • Zach Babitt, 2B (Rookie-League Ogden Raptors) – Albany HS, Academy of Art
  • Chris Reed, P (AA Chattanooga Lookouts) – Stanford

San Diego Padres

  • BJ Guinn, IF (High-A Lake Elsinore Storm) – Berkeley HS, Cal
  • Jordan Paroubeck, OF (AZL Short Season) – Serra HS
  • Adam Cimber, P (High-A Lake Elsinore Storm) – USF

Colorado Rockies

  • Matt Flemer, P (High-A Modesto Nuts) – St. Mary’s, Cal
  • Alex Balog, P (Class-A Asheville Tourists – Mitty, USF

Chicago Cubs

  • Chadd Krist, C (High-A Daytona Cubs) – Petaluma HS, Cal

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Justin Ringo, 1B (Rookie League Johnson City Cardinals) – Stanford
  • Stephen Piscotty, OF (AAA Memphis Redbirds) – Amador Valley HS, Stanford
  • Jimmy Bosco, OF (Class-A Peoria Chiefs) – Menlo College

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Shane Carle, P (Class-A West Virginia Power) – Scotts Valley HS
  • Justin Maffei, OF (Class-A West Virginia Power) – USF

Washington Nationals

  • Tony Renda, 2B (High-A Potomac Nationals) – Serra HS, Cal
  • Brett Mooneyham, P (High-A Potomac Nationals) – Stanford

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Andrew Knapp, C (Tommy John surgery) – Cal
  • Peter Lavin, OF (High-A Clearwater Threshers – USF

Houston Astros

  • Mark Appel, P (High-A Lancaster Jethawks) – Monte Vista HS, Stanford

Oakland Athletics

  • B.J. Boyd, OF (Class-A Beloit Snappers) – Palo Alto HS

Seattle Mariners

  • Austin Wilson, OF (Class A Clinton LumberKings) – Stanford
  • Lonnie Kauppila, IF (Class A Clinton LumberKings) – Stanford

Kansas City Royals

  • Kenny Diekroeger, IF (High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks) – Menlo HS, Stanford
  • Kyle Zimmer, P (AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals) – USF
  • Amalani Fukofuka, OF (Spent 2013 in AZL Rookie League) – Logan HS

Chicago White Sox

  • Scott Snodgress, P (AA Birmingham Barons) – Stanford

Detroit Tigers

  • Will LaMarche, P (Class-A West Michigan Whitecaps) – Amador Valley HS, Chabot College (Hayward)

Cleveland Indians

  • James Roberts, IF (High-A Carolina Mudcats) – Archbishop Mitty HS

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Ben Griset, P (Low-A Hudson Valley Renegades) – St. Mary’s College

Bay Area Products Make Big League Rosters

Hey guys! I’ll keep updating as we move along, but here’s the list of Bay Area products (whether high school or collegiate) that are starting the year on Major League rosters for 2014. As the minor league rosters are also finalized, I’ll put those up too.

  • Marcus Semien (Chicago White Sox) - Gordon Beckham out with a strained oblique to start the season, so the Saint Mary’s High School (Berkeley, CA) and Cal alum will be the Opening Day second baseman for the ChiSox after being drafted in the sixth round in 2011. The infielder logged 71 plate appearances at the big-league level last year after a September call-up, hitting .261 with 2 HR, 4 2B, and 2 SB. The 23-year old Semien hit posted a slash line of .333/.422/.481 this spring, and can also fill in at shortstop and third base.
  • Erik Johnson (Chicago White Sox) – Like Semien, Johnson was a fast riser in the White Sox system after being drafted in the second round of the same draft in 2011. Johnson, who graduated from Los Altos High School (Los Altos, CA) and also went to Cal, made five starts last year, going 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA, and will be the fourth starter for the White Sox this year.
  • Mario Hollands (Philadelphia Phillies) – After starting his whole career at El Cerrito High School (El Cerrito, CA) and UC Santa Barbara and for a couple of years in the minor leagues, playing at virtually every level except with the major league club last year, the lefty Hollands moved to the bullpen this spring and flourished. He pitched in nine games, and in 11.2 innings struck out 10 batters and posted a 3.09 ERA. The Phillies like his unique delivery and his flexibility, with a history pitching multiple innings.
  • Robbie Erlin (San Diego Padres) – Erlin was selected by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2009 draft straight out of Scotts Valley High School (Scotts Valley, CA) and traded to the Padres along with Joe Wieland for Mike Adams back in 2011. After posting a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts in AA in 2012 and an 8-3 record in AAA Tucson last season over 20 starts, the Oakland native has secured a spot in the San Diego rotation by posting a 1.46 ERA over 12.1 innings this spring, striking out just under a batter per inning for the Friars.

HTTB!

Image

Hail to the Buster!
Hail Victory!
Giants on the Warpath!
Fight for old Posey!
Throw or hit and score — we want a lot more!
Beat ‘em, Hose ‘em,
Homerun! — Let the ball soar!
Fight on, fight on ‘Til you have won
Son of Georgia. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!
Hail to the Buster! 
Hail Victory! 
Giants on the Warpath! 
Fight for old Posey!

And Then The Devil Came To Collect…

Oops! Yes!

The San Francisco Giants have been going through a rough year. Injuries. Pitching. Slumps. Jeremy Affeldt. General manager Brian Sabean openly called it a “bad-penny year” in an interview, and said that sometimes you get dealt a bad hand or some such.

And then they lost in 16 innings to the Mets. And then they gave up a grand slam and lost 10-6 to the Mets. And then Matt Cain was knocked out in the first inning and they lost to Zack Wheeler and the Mets.

Columnists and beat writers started throwing out things like “Top-10 draft pick” and “SELL-SELL-SELL” and speculation ran rampant about Matt Cain’s injuries and Chad Gaudin’s alcohol-fueled gropefest renal failure and subsequent foggy judgment. The term “rock-bottom” continued to reinvent itself. That almost-panicky feeling when the Giants were under .500 but only four games out of first place devolved into fans suddenly learning all that we can about the Warriors traded-players exceptions and finding out that Colin Kaepernick wears hats.

This is pretty bad. I remember going to a game in 2011 and thinking it was rock bottom because Mike Fontenot batted third and the Giants lost to the Cubs. Getting swept by the Mets, when the 2009 first round pick that you traded away to lose playoff spot in 2011 (Wheeler) caps off the series in a game where the 2006 first round pick who threw a perfect game and clinched everything in 2012 (Cain) throws 36 pitches and is done is definitely the worst. So far.

But maybe this is what we get for winning two titles in three years. Dynasties are so hard to come by, right? Unfortunately, teams like the Yankees and Rays that have been close to dynasties in recent years didn’t go from the top of the crop to the cellar year to year. And this year, unlike 2011, the Giants don’t even have a Buster Posey-type injury to use as an excuse. Vogelsong maybe, but not really. This year it’s mainly just frustration.

Why can’t the pitching figure it out? What’s wrong with Cain? What’s wrong with the bullpen? What’s wrong with Pablo? Why is Pagan lying on the ground?

It’s like all of the key obstacles that the Giants avoided in 2010 and 2012 are all lined up in a jumble and the team is going through the season blindfolded. Sure, the Melky Cabrera thing was a big blow last year, but he was hitting .346 when he got suspended. And in 2010, when the Giants were “languishing” and traded Molina, they were 26-22. This year there’s not that problem that is being held onto because of the contract (Aaron Rowand/Edgar Renteria). It’s everyone. Marco Scutaro is doing well, and so is Buster Posey. Unfortunately, that’s about it. And there are 25 guys on the roster.

So if this is going to be The Bad Year, let’s make it memorable! Make sure nobody else gets hurt. Trim the fat where you can. Don’t mortgage the farm. Remember, the Giants were really bad, and got to pick Cain (2002), Tim Lincecum (2006), Bumgarner (2007), Posey (2008), and Wheeler (2009) all in a row. At least we’ve got that to look forward to?

On the plus side, Kensuke Tanaka is fun to watch.

When A Butterfly Flaps its Wings…

Buster Posey is the starting catcher for the San Francisco Giants.

This is something that you already know. You also know that he will remain in said position until forever. Which is a happy thing. But what we as Giants fans don’t know is who will be playing the other positions around Posey for the rest of eternity. And with Posey already taking his “off-days” at first base, this has direct long-term signability effects on a couple Giants who are already on the team, and some that are not.

First base has become sort of a retirement community for players who can no longer play their original position. Sure, there’s less mobility required, and I’m not saying that first base is by any means easier than other positions, but if you look at the trends, a lot of people playing first base are Former-Something Elses.

Nick Swisher (outfield) has played first base. Albert Pujols went all the way around the infield before settling in as a first baseman. In fact, seven players were the opening day starters at first base after playing at least 100 games at another position earlier in their career. Pujols, Swisher, Mike Napoli (C), Kevin Youkilis (3B), Brandon Moss (OF), Edwin Encarnacion (3B), and Alex Gonzalez (SS) all started the year there. The Giants ran into Yuniesky Betancourt (SS) in Milwaukee who realized he was a first baseman and hit thirty homers in that series.

The Giants are no exception to that rule (see: Pedro Feliz). And again, if you surmise that Posey will eventually move to first base somewhere before 2022, then you have to wonder about what else is in the long-term plans for San Francisco.

What happens to Brandon Belt?
First off, although sometimes touted as such in a best case scenario, the Giants and their fans are seeing that Brandon Belt is not going to be the 30-homer three-hitter of the future. But he’s the only pure first baseman on this team, and he’s damn good at it. He has flashes of brilliance at the plate, and although he is by no means without value, I think it’s safe to say that Buster Posey is better than Brandon Belt. Granted, he also plays left field, but is much much much much better at first base. Also, the Giants have more outfield prospects than they do first-base prospects, so that factors in as well. All in all, I’d say that with Posey locked up forever, Brandon Belt may not be a lifetime Giant.

What happens to Pablo Sandoval?
Guess what? Pablo Sandoval is a little on the heavy side. Surprise! He’s agile for anyone’s size, honestly, and the fact that he’s as big as he is makes it even more impressive. But you have to wonder how long he can keep up the Kung Fu Panda bit at third base. With Posey playing first base more often, Sandoval has only started at first base eight times in the past two years.

Sandoval is only signed through next year. Sandoval has consistently been one of the most frustrating Giants. He has had a spotty health history and is constantly under scrutiny for his weight, and if the Giants decide to ink him long-term as an out-of-nowhere minor leaguer turned uber-marketing tool and perennial All-Star, they’ll have two players locked up with only place (that’s already occupied) to move them to once their legs start to give out.

What happens to (minor league catcher)?
When Buster Posey is healthy, the Giants really don’t need anything more than a typical backup catcher behind the plate. Just ask Hector Sanchez. If by some chance he’s not healthy for the next nine years, the Giants need to trade everyone on their team for Carlos Santana, because Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart started every game in 2011. 

We already saw what happens when you’re stacked at a position, as Brian Sabean deftly turned Tommy Joseph into Hunter Pence. They also have top-20 prospect Andrew Susac stashed away at AA Richmond and both former first-round pick Jackson Williams and 2012 MiLB Organizational All-Star Johnny Monell at AAA Fresno. But catcher is a position you can never have enough depth at. Unfortunately for those prospects, Buster Posey is not a 35-year-old Bengie Molina, and they know that with Posey behind the dish, their chances are slim about unseating the reigning MVP.

So…what happens?
What happens is, although we Giants fans will never see the day when Matt Cain or Buster Posey sit at a podium and make headlines with a ten-year deal with some other team, we will have to prepare ourselves for the day that someone that we like might put on another uniform. Until he gets his weight under control, Sandoval won’t get more than a five-year deal with anyone. Until Belt turns into Todd Helton, he won’t get any long-term commitment from the Giants either. The catching prospects will continue to improve and then hopefully be moved for better pieces to fill out the roster.

And luckily, until Buster Posey shows us that he’s not all of the Avengers rolled into one, we won’t have to worry about that.

I Am Spartacus

I would like to just preface this by saying that this article says a lot about “it would make things easier” but by no means do I mean to imply that coming out is an easy task. I am not gay, so I have no idea what kind of life decision that is except that its an important one, and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea that I think this is some easy solution. This is just a thought in my head that I wanted to get down. So I did.

There is a lot of news these days outlining the questions and concerns surrounding the prospect of a professional athlete coming out as gay, from the Vikings Chris Kluwe continuing his fervent support for a potential gay teammate in the NFL to Sean Avery doing the same in the NHL. All of the big four sports leagues have joined the It Gets Better Project, and with the national prominence being afforded the subject right now in the Supreme Court and the political sphere, this issue promises to stay at the forefront until something big happens.

There have been rumors here and there about players recently, with both the NFL and the NHL kind of putting out weather balloons about “reported players” coming out. Whether done to gauge public opinion or actually based in fact, there seems to be some consensus about what the effects of such an event would be.

Some people have thrown around that coming out would be detrimental to locker room mentality, but the strides made publicly by people like Avery in the NHL and Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo in the NFL seem to show that the support for an openly gay teammate isn’t nonexistent.

Another “drawback” is that the media frenzy that would surely ensue could be so much that it would drive the player to ground. The purported “selfishness” of being a standard-bearer isn’t exactly appealing to someone already trying to make a living in one of the hardest and most scrutinized professions in the country.

This draws a lot of comparison to Jackie Robinson, but to be blunt, Robinson couldn’t exactly hide the fact that he was black. The pressure is on because there will be a ton of fans and teammates that will be genuinely surprised. The gay athletes that are sure to exist do so in almost sleeper cell fashion. They’re there. We just don’t know who they are. And when it’s safe to come out, they will.

So far no one has come out publicly until after they have played. Glenn Burke, Billy Bean, Kwame Harris, Robbie Rogers either came out post-playing career or had their declaration bring about the end of their playing days.

And with the effects of coming out being widely publicized as they are right now, this writer feels that the best way to tackle the problem is, in short, grassroots organization. It may sound a little silly, but if the pressures of being “The Gay Athlete” are too much, then there has to be a way to disperse that pressure among a number of points.

In the movie “Spartacus”, there is a famous scene where Spartacus stands up and identifies himself, saying, “I am Spartacus.” to the soldier sent to bring him in. He stands alone, until one of the other slaves also stands, declaring “No, I am Spartacus.” The movement catches on, with one after another standing and stating their Spartacusness in a unified front.

Now, imagine it in this context: instead of one NHL player or one NFL player, what if there was a cross-sport group that came out? There are organizations that would facilitate communication between such athletes, like It Gets Better or the You Can Play Project. Instead of one man bearing the brunt of everything, trying to continue playing their career AND be the pioneer of gay rights in baseball/basketball/football/hockey, what if there was such a group of athletes? It would theoretically make it somewhat easier, spreading the media attention out instead of being the lightning rod or news cycle fodder.

And if those players identify themselves together while also showing support from their teammates and for each other, it could have a significant effect. Hopefully if there’s at least one in every sport like there is rumored to be, they can create the sort of unification that draws others on the fence about coming out to join the movement.

Will it work? Maybe. I sure don’t know. Of course it would be a lot easier if a prominent superstar came out, as having All-Star ability would certainly help mitigate the crush of the media. Although I claimed that it was a much different case, Jackie Robinson being a Hall of Famer on the stat sheet undoubtedly helped make his feat more meaningful. But purely from a statistical standpoint, it is much more likely that a more middle-of-the-road type player will be the one to take the big step.

So why not get multiple athletes to stand together? It may be difficult to do, but it would sure be a step in the right direction of easing the burden.

Forever Young

A lot has been made out of the relative thin-ness of the San Francisco Giants farm system lately, and not without reason. But while the overall picture looking bleak, with no real difference makers making a push towards the Major League roster, it remains important to realize how stacked the minors used to be, and just how young and full of those former farmhands the Giants current active roster is.

Screen Shot 2013-03-30 at 4.02.21 PM

So over the past ten years, the Giants have five of their top prospects still on their team. Cain, Lincecum, and Bumgarner make up three-fifths of the best rotation in baseball. Buster Posey has two World Series titles, a Rookie of the Year award, and an MVP, as well as, you know, $167 million. Brandon Belt had a red-hot spring and all signs point to a possible breakout year. Gary Brown is moving along in his development nicely, and looks to be at the very least ready to fill in, although not forcing the issue from the minors.

Basically, for all the griping about the lack of young talent in the farm system, the Giants are close to Rays-like in their amount of homegrown talent on the roster. Out of those players on the top prospects list, note that Pablo Sandoval is not on that list. Neither is Sergio Romo or Brandon Crawford. And if you add those three two the list, you’re looking at almost 1/3 of their 25 man roster who are both (a) developed and brought up by the Giants AND (b) UNDER 30 YEARS OLD.

That’s right. Let’s look again:

Sergio Romo (30) doesn’t act his age at all, so I’m counting him in a 30 and under context. Then you’ve got Cain (28), Lincecum (28), Sandoval (26), Posey (26), Crawford (26), Belt (24), and Bumgarner (23).

That’s a young team of homegrown guys, and all of them have at least something on their resume to point to them sticking around for a bit. And they’re also part of the reason that the Giants farm system went from being one of the tops in the majors to one of the middles.

Remember when we as fans were always hoping for the next guy to take Jose Castillo’s job? Or Livan Hernandez? They’re all here now, and with the recent extensions to Cain, Bumgarner, and Posey, they’ll all be here for a while.

Somewhere along the line Brian Sabean learned the balance between a team of farmhands and a team of free agents, and it has turned into this current blend that we’re seeing. Former top prospects are filling the pitching staff and the infield, while free agents and trades are complementing that youth in key spots. Granted, Brown will be the first outfield prospect in a long time to stick with the Major League club if and when he does, but aside from that, the Giants should be content with their roster.

This doesn’t mean that they can slack on their scouting and development, however. I still believe that there is work to be done, and the lack of MLB-ready depth is a little alarming when I start thinking about worst-case scenarios (scene: Posey and Cain celebrate another perfect game, Sandoval falls on both and they all break their ribs). But they’re a far cry from trotting out that team that was the oldest in the Majors a few years ago, with creaky knees in the field.

So here’s to the Giants moving those top prospects along, but at a respectable rate. They’ve got the makeup to work with young players at their own pace, without rushing anyone to fast. Let’s keep doing that.