San Francisco Giants: 5 High Bust-Potential Prospects SF Should Consider Dealing
There's no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to prospects. Plenty of players appear destined for stardom, only to wash up somewhere in the minors.
This week, I'll take a closer look at five guys the Giants should trade for the right price, since they could very easily flop before they ever see the show.
5. Angel Villalona
In August 2006, the Giants signed the Dominican-born first baseman to a then team-record $2.1 million signing bonus, days after he celebrated his 16th birthday.
Villalona enjoyed great success in 2008, his first full professional season, smashing 17 home runs and 29 doubles for Low-A Augusta. He was widely considered the organization's top prospect, his only problem being a high strikeout rate (118 SO to 18 BB).
The following year, Villalona was hitting along a similar clip until he got into legal trouble. His home country announced he was the prime suspect of a murder investigation, which invariably cut his season short. Being suspected of murder immediately replaced lack of plate discipline as the primary obstacle between Villalona and the major leagues.
He subsequently spent some time in prison, pending a trial, but the process has been slow going since he was released in November 2009.
The story received added intrigue when authorities discovered Villalona's family attempted to bribe the victims to ask the judge to drop the case with a sum of $139,000. The prosecutor still intends to proceed with the case, however.
Villalona is not technically a high-bust candidate, since he's not exactly playing baseball right now. But the Giants still own his rights, and I thought he deserved at least a mention for his rather uncommon and extremely sticky dilemma.
If he can somehow escape from his current quagmire, Villalona would still have a legitimate shot at the major leagues. Only 20 years old, he still has a lot of potential left in him.
4. Wendell Fairley
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The former first-round draft choice is currently in his second season at High-A San Jose.
Projected as a five-tool player with great speed, Fairley has proven to be extraordinarily mediocre in all facets of the game.
Since 2009, Fairley is 13-for-23 in steal chances, which is a 57-percent success rate.
In 2010, he posted a .292/.362/.343 line with a 2.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a number typically indicative of a power hitter. Yet, of his 114 hits last year, 97 were singles. He went yard only once.
At least he plays a strong center field, with only nine errors in 147 games.
But the guy has had character issues since even before the Giants drafted him, which are harder to stomach when there aren't great numbers to hang your hat on.
San Jose teammate and fellow first-round pick Gary Brown is hitting for a high average, stealing bases and playing great defense, precisely what Fairley was supposed to do.
Fairley, aged 23, is rapidly losing value. The Giants should attempt to deal him if they want to salvage any return on their investment.
3. Conor Gillaspie
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We pretty much know what we're going to get from the 23-year-old third baseman. In the past two seasons, Gillaspie has hit .286 and .287, and so far in 2011, he is hitting (surprise) .286.
The guy does not have very good pop (14 dingers since 2009) or speed (0-for-4 in steal chances in 2010).
He essentially hits for a decent average with lots of doubles (25 in 2010 and on pace for 36 in 2011), but plays a poor third base (.929 career fielding percentage).
Since Gillaspie is only 23, he could potentially draw interest from other teams, especially since he's already in Triple-A Fresno. His prospects are certainly limited by the presence of Pablo Sandoval, so San Francisco ought to be looking to shop him.
2. Francisco Peguero
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Like many Dominican imports, Peguero seems physically incapable of taking pitches.
He has amassed an alarming 139 strikeouts to just 23 walks since 2009, for a grossly unacceptable 5.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Mark Reynolds, who holds the three highest single-season strikeout totals in major-league history, has a career 2.9 mark, nearly half of Peguero's.
Consider also that Reynolds is a boom-or-bust type player—even if he strikes out three times a game, he will blast his fair share of big flies.
Peguero, who projects more as a leadoff hitter, should be attempting to reach base in any way possible. Striking out a lot is not an attractive quality at the top of the order.
The free swinger appears to have taken his aggressive approach to the basepaths as well. In 2010, he was 40 for 62 on stolen base attempts, a 65-percent success rate.
Since he is 22, Peguero still has time to change his ways. But if that proves impossible, the Giants should deal him rather than suffer through a recklessness that will not succeed against big-league pitching.
1. Ehire Adrianza
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Adrianza, who recently completed rehab for offseason surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament, is currently playing for Low-A Augusta. He should shortly move up to San Jose, where he spent the entirety of the 2010 season.
Baseball America has Adrianza as the Giants No. 4 prospect, primarily due to his defensive prowess and speed. But some underlying numbers give cause for concern.
Although he had 33 steals, he also was caught 15 times, giving him a 69-percent success rate.
His fielding percentage was a mediocre .972. To put that in perspective, Yunel Escobar recorded the same figure last season, which was 13th best in the majors last year. Not bad, but hardly elite.
On top of that, Adrianza is a poor hitter with little to no power. His career minor-league line is .246/.337/.325. He has never eclipsed a .258 average or .348 slugging percentage in a full professional season in the six years he's been with the Giants. Over that time, he's amassed a measly six home runs.
Adrianza is not the answer at shortstop. Even if he does end up being a fielding whiz and base-stealer extraordinaire, the Giants need batters. They already have a shortstop who can't hit, and Giants fans aren't eager for another one.