I resisted the urge to title this post “Panik Attack.” If Giants’ 2011 1st Round pick Joe Panik ever amounts to anything, we will hear oh so many bad puns based on his name for a very long time.
At any rate, the Giants have to be pleased with Panik’s introduction to professional baseball. He’s currently hitting .329, good for fifth in the Northwest League, which is considered a short-season A-league, but can also be considered a rookie league for players drafted out of college.
Panik is at least two years younger than any of the four hitters with higher batting averages except Cory Spangenberg, who was the tenth pick in this year’s draft. BTW, the Padres may have promoted Spangenberg too soon. After thumping Northwest League pitchers in 25 games, he’s struggled mightily in his first 15 games in the full-season, Class A Midwest League.
Back to Panik — he’s playing so well the Giants should consider promoting him after ten to twenty more games at Salem-Keizer. On second thought, the Giants may decide it’s wiser to just leave well enough alone.
The next place to go for Panik is either full-season, Class A Augusta or Class A+ San Jose. I expect he’d struggle this season at either destination. Augusta is an extremely difficult place to hit, and the California League might be a little too fast for Joe at this point in his professional career.
If the Giants don’t promote him this season, I expect he’ll start at A+ San Jose next year, unless he really plays poorly in Spring Training. A lot will depend on whether the Giants think their other top young shortstop prospect Ehire Adrianza is ready to move up to AA Richmond next season.
Actually, the San Jose Giants look pretty well stocked in their middle infield next year even if Adrianza is promoted. 22 year old SS Carter Jurica will have a roster spot if he’s healthy next year, and 22 year old 2B Carlos Willoughby certainly deserves a promotion after the fine year (.371 OBP and 30 steals in 39 attempts) he’s had at Augusta so far this year.
At age 20 and a first round pick, Panik will take precedence over either of Jurica and Willoughby. However, they’re both young enough and good enough they need to be playing regularly somewhere.