Updating Joe Panik and Matt Duffy’s Scouting Grades

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. It’s always interesting to look back on a player’s scouting reports, grades, etc. It’s downright fun to do it when those players are turning heads and surprising the heck out of people all over MLB. So what do you say we rethink those grades for Panik & Duffy, two of the sweetest-swinging young players in the Giants lineup?

Joe Panik has now played over a full season’s worth of games in his MLB career, hitting a cool .307/.361/.411 in 710 PA. This season he’s at .309/.374/.443 with 25 2B and 7 HR. His season K% is 9.9, BB% is 8.8. His 2015 season adjusted to 650 PA (per Baseball-Ref) is .309, 41 2B, 11 HR, 58 RBI, 61 BB & 70 K. Pretty nice, huh?

The Duff Man has played 124 career MLB games (coming into today), and has logged a .299/.337/.439 slash with 9 HR in those 412 PA. He’s played 3/4 of those games in 2015, hitting .304/.343/.462 with 17 2B and 9 HR. He walks 4.3% of the time, strikes out in 17.3%. His HR% this year is 2.6. He’s also literally one of the most valuable rookies in all of baseball this season, making folks forget about a certain Panda pretty darn quickly.

So, how did the scouting reports read before these two were breakout MLB players? Obviously there was a lot more information readily available for Panik, who was considered a potential supplemental pick in the 2011 draft. Reports on Duffy were pretty sparse before he torched the Eastern League last season. I did find some prospect grades though, which I have included with a few old quotes from this site and others around the web.

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Giants Trade Mella & Duvall for Mike Leake

Mike Leake, your newest SF Giant.

Mike Leake, your newest SF Giant.

Just when we started to wonder if the Giants were going to fall silent at the deadline (amid lots of promising dialogue from Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean & even Bruce Bochy), the talks heated up quickly last night and landed them Reds righty Mike Leake. Here are a few thoughts on the deal.

I absolutely love this deal for the Giants. No, Leake is not Cole Hamels, who the Giants apparently made a strong push for. No, Leake is not David Price, who realistically probably had very little chance of becoming a Giant anyway. To me though, Leake is a guy to get excited about in his own right. He’s a 6 year MLB vet and he’s only 27. How many players can you say that about? Sure, he’s technically a rental player, but we’ve heard all about him growing up a Giants fan, and Baggs made it pretty apparent the Giants have wanted him for a while. If Leake has success over the next two months in San Francisco (I believe he will), it seems very realistic to me that he’ll be a Giant for the next 5 years.

I said last week this season reminded me of 2012 in that the Giants seemed a a piece short of having a very good club (they needed a hitter in 2012, starting pitcher this year). I suggested Jeff Samardzija, a solid player who’d never earned a long-term contract, as a possible trade-and-extend candidate. Turns out Mike Leake was the guy, and I’d love it if he decided to stay with us for a while.

A couple more notes on Leake. He’s a sinkerballer who should give the Giants gold-glove caliber infield plenty of opportunities to show off. His numbers don’t jump out at you at first glance, but you have to remember he’s spent his whole career in the most lively yard outside of Colorado. This season alone, he’s a 2.28 pitcher on the road, as opposed to 4.93 at home. Think he’s excited about coming to AT&T Park? He’s durable, he’s consistent, and he was good enough that he didn’t spend a SINGLE DAY in the minors. He was a top 10 pick and an absolute legend at Arizona State. Oh, and he can hit! Yeah, I guess you could say I’m excited to bring him in.

The Giants parted with Keury Mella and Adam Duvall, and I’ve seen some frustration about giving up Mella. As someone who’s followed (and really liked) Mella since his first days coming over from the DSL, I’ll give you my take. I think Mella is a solid prospect. If I hadn’t been so high on Kyle Crick last year, I would have rated Mella #1 in the system, just as MLB.com did a few days ago.

To me, Mella is not the top prospect in this system at this point, despite what people read online. It’s obvious the Giants value Tyler Beede higher, and I wager they put guys like Christian Arroyo and Mac Williamson right up there as untouchable types for them as well. Would I have rather seen another pitcher dealt than Mella? Of course. Mella is an MLB arm. He always has been for me. But his delivery isn’t clean, he’s had some shoulder scares, and his results have been a bit inconsistent for someone with a 96 mph sinker in A-ball. I wish him well, but I can’t confidently project him as a pitcher who will have a better career than Mike Leake at this point.

A few people have suggested to me that Adam Duvall should have started for the Giants. I don’t see it that way. They definitely gave him an opportunity to show what he could do as a 3B (a very quick look, no doubt), but they decided he wasn’t fit to play the position. So he’s purely a 1B in their eyes. While he just may have more raw power than Brandon Belt, his defense and ability to put the ball in play certainly can’t match up to Belt. Personally, I’m surprised the Reds took Duvall in this deal, as they’ve already got franchise players at both infield corners.

If Duvall can find a way to get some playing time in Cincy, he should love hitting in that park. I saw his power firsthand just two nights ago, and it’s real. I would love to see him get a chance to DH for a rebuilding AL club, but for now he’ll try to catch on with the Reds. There were no plans for him in SF, so hopefully this move is better for him in the long run.

Again, I really love this deal for the Giants, who have made so many “ho-hum” deadline deals that have turned to gold in the past few years. Despite Leake not being in the same class as Price & Hamels, I think his impact on this club could be tremendous over the next couple months. I’m thrilled Evans bolstered the rotation, and I can’t wait for Leake to put the jersey on. Obviously I wish Mella and Duvall all the best.

Thanks for reading, and go Giants!

A Cool Moment for a Blogger and Some Notes from Raley Field

It was a scorcher in the valley yesterday (110 in Chico), but that didn’t keep me from having a very cool experience at Raley Field in Sacramento. Mac Williamson has been one of my favorite players in this organization for a few years, so I was nervous as all get-out when I saw him signing autographs by the LF wall (just down from our seats). I walked down and introduced myself, and had the most rewarding moment of my blogging tenure when he recognized Cove Chatter. He thanked me for my positive writing, and I told him I was excited to see him play. That was about 5 minutes after we entered the yard, and my night was officially made.

I’m not someone who started a blog seeking fortune, fame & all that other junk. Not even for one second. This is and always has been a hobby for me (though the future Mrs. Cove Chatter may disagree completely). I love Giants baseball, and following the prospects coming up through the system. I never dreamed of the connections I’d make in two short years while doing this, and getting to meet and be recognized by a pretty dang good player (and even better person) in this organization was a humbling experience for me. That kind of thing makes all of this worth it.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention a few notable performances from the game, which was a good one for the Rivercats.

Clayton Blackburn was the undoubted player of the game. He allowed only 6 baserunners over 7 shoutout innings. Though his fastball was primarily 87-89, that 70 mph curve really is a putaway pitch for him. You could clearly see how much break it had from our seats in LF. Blackburn had 5 K in all. He stole the show in the 3rd though when he put a charge into one that sailed over 400 feet to dead center. I would guess that was his first career HR as a professional, and it was a beauty. A nice night for the young righty, whose ERA dropped to 3.50 in the mighty PCL.

Michael Broadway is going to help the Giants again this season, I’m almost sure of it. He worked a clean (but filthy) 9th inning last night, K’ing the side with a 96-98 FB and a diving slider. I can’t remember now, but threw the slider for strike three to at least two of the batters, and I want to say he did for the final out as well. Just an impressive performance from Broadway.

Raley Field in Sacramento

Raley Field in Sacramento

Adam Duvall turned on a ball in the 2nd and hit an absolute moonshot just inside the LF foul pole. It was one of those homers that stayed in the air so long that people were almost stunned as they watched it fly. Man does that guy have some power. He also made a really nice pick on a throw in the dirt from Frandsen late in the game.

Everth Cabrera didn’t look very comfortable in CF, but his speed sure can impact a game. He misplayed a ball that sailed over his head in the early innings, but made up some major ground while chasing another one down later in the game. He also had two hits from the leadoff spot, stole a base and was called out on another attempted steal (though it looked like he may have been safe). Hopefully he has cleaned up his off-field issues, and I could really see the Giants swapping Adrianza out for him down the road.

Kelby Tomlinson, the player I’d really like to see get a call up, beat out an infield single and later made solid contact on a sac fly in the 7th inning. He also had an error on a dropped catch at 2B (he was the SS), but admittedly I didn’t see the play.

Mac was 1-4 in his return from a short DL stint. He roped a ball nearly to the wall in dead center for an out in his final AB, but I was most impressed with the arm he showed off in RF, forcing a runner who I initially thought would have scored easily back back to 3B. And finally, if you happen to read this Mac, it was really great to meet you!

July 29: Deadline Deal Looming?

Welcome back to Cove Chatter, “The Original.” I’ve found that sometimes the grass really isn’t always greener, and will be working to switch back over to WordPress permanently. Why? To be frank, I really couldn’t stand Weebly. It seems like a great place to market a product or advertise a business, but it’s truly not blogger-friendly. Guess I should have checked into that a little more before I made the change last winter. I really do apologize for the jumping around, and hope that a few folks will follow me back to the original site. I’m thinking I will delete the Weebly Cove Chatter eventually to cut confusion. I really loved the Disqus commenting forums

Bobby Evans, trade deadline texting extraordinaire?  (Jason Grohoske)

Bobby Evans, trade deadline texting extraordinaire? (Jason Grohoske)

on the other site, but in general it just became too much of a hassle to keep everything updated. I’m ready to simplify things & get back to some fun Giants blogging. So, if you’re reading this, welcome back!

Ok, so we’re two days out from the trade deadline. Folks, I think it could be a long, stressful couple of days. Why? Right now, the stars just don’t seem to be aligning for Evans & company to land the big fish they apparently are seeking. To me, the only move that really makes sense for this team at the moment is trading for a starting pitcher… preferably a very good one.

Here’s what I know about this time of year: For starter’s, there’s a lot of big talk. People often forget this, but the landscape is changing for MLB GM’s. In this day of younger, more tech-savvy front office types, I often wonder how many phone conversations actually take place. My guess is there’s a lot more text & email conversations going on, and I think that hurts certain organizations (namely this one). Bobby Evans seems to be a bit more media/PR friendly than Sabean is/was, so maybe he fits in better with the crowd. I don’t know, but I do get the feeling that teams like the Phillies are doing their usual dancing and prancing around, asking for every team’s top 6 prospects. The Giants don’t have a package to entice Philly? Until I hear some actual names and offers, I’m going to believe that’s a load of garbage. The Phillies just want the moon.

The Giants have plenty of trade chips. Susac, Beede, Arroyo, Mella, Williamson, Crick, Mejia, Osich, Okert, Chase Johnson, Coonrod, Blach, Blackburn, Tomlinson, Slater, Cole… There are some future big leaguers, and some solid players on that list. Sure, the front office may not want to give up some of these guys, but they certainly have the pieces to land a player like Hamels… unless, of course, the Phillies keep playing games and upping the offer.

In short, I’m not holding my breath for a Hamels trade unless something drastically changes. And that’s a bummer, because he really is one of the only impact arms that makes sense. David Price? Yes, I’d LOVE to have him, but I’d give him about a 5% chance of re-signing in the offseason. He’s getting huge money on the open market, and there’s no way I’m sending the Tigers a boat of players for that. If I thought he would stay in SF, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But that’s just not the case in my opinion.

So, what else is out there? Are the White Sox trading Samardzija? I’d still take him despite his impending free agency. To me, Shark seems most like a 2012 Hunter Pence – an above average player who’s never signed a big contract, might love playing in SF, and be willing to lock in for the next 5 years. That’s what you’re banking on when you make a deal for a rental player.

Mike Leake? Another rental, but a guy who apparently loves San Francisco (which loves him back, we’ve heard). He gets knocked for being just a “mid-rotation” starter, but the guy just puts up solid performances. If you can’t land a big fish, I don’t see anything wrong with grabbing a guy like Leake. He’s durable & mostly dependable, and he’d sure make for a better option than Tim Hudson down the stretch.

I’ll summarize by saying I do believe the Giants need to bolster their pitching staff in order to keep this run going. They’ve got the pieces, they’ve got financial flexibility (as the media keeps reminding us), and they’ve got a tremendous young lineup. This team, as it stands, is very streaky… I don’t doubt they’ll play themselves right back to .500 in the next month if they don’t find an upgrade. If they do, however, I think the sky is the limit for these 2015 Giants. Thanks for reading, cross your fingers, and stay tuned.

Cove Chatter is Moving!

NEW COVE CHATTER LINK

As my second offseason as a blogger rolls along, I’m finding that my blogging style is changing. Frankly, I just don’t have the time to push out post after post, as I was able to this time last year. For that reason and a few others, I have decided to start up a new blog page with another host site. I really think the new site will allow for much more flexibility and creativity on my part, while also being a bit more user-friendly for you.

I realize that this site is visited frequently by some (myself included!) as a reference page for quite a few different Giants prospects. Don’t worry; I will NOT be terminating this page. I still plan to check in on old articles and use this page as a resource for the foreseeable future, and frankly, I’m not ready to cut ties with the original Cove Chatter. Someday, when I have become completely comfortable with my new site, and I determine that most of the posts on this page are becoming irrelevant, I may link the “Covechatter.com” name to the new page. For now though, I will simply post a link to the “new” Cove Chatter below.

Thank you for all of your support throughout this wild ride. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this offseason unfolds, and I can’t wait to unveil a totally revamped Cove Chatter 100 prospect rankings for the upcoming year. Please, come on over to the new site and leave me some feedback… but also, don’t be afraid to peruse around here from time to time as well. Go Giants!

NEW COVE CHATTER LINK

What’s New in the AFL?

And you thought baseball season was over… For some reason, I actually find it easier to post during the offseason. Maybe it’s because things aren’t as fast paced as they are during the spring and summer.

Anyway, MLB.com’s Jim Callis released a nice article on Clayton Blackburn today, so I figured this would be an appropriate time to make a quick check-in on Giants prospects in the AFL. Fortunately, Callis has done most of the leg-work here. His piece has quotes from Blackburn and a scouting blurb on each of the guys the Giants have out in Arizona right now. There’s even a video with Callis and Mayo chatting about Blackburn and Steven Okert. Pretty nice work from the MLB Pipeline guys here.

Overall, it’s been pretty quiet on the Giants prospect front this fall (most of the big names were helping bring home another ring for the big club). There really isn’t much to speak about at all on the offensive side, which is a bit of a bummer since I had high hopes for Daniel Carbonell. The trio of Carbonell, Blake Miller and Kelby Tomlinson has been pretty quiet in the desert so far.

Most of the noise has been made on the pitching side, as Okert has been dominant out of the pen for Scottsdale. Okert came on huge this year after a so-so campaign in Augusta. According to Callis, he profiles more as a lefty specialist in the majors, but I’d think another big year in 2015 could change some minds. Either way, guys like that don’t get a ton of hype… but the numbers have been impressive for the former 4th rounder this fall.

Blackburn, who should be a member of the inaugural Giants-affililated Sacramento Rivercats squad next April, has had a quiet fall himself. He’s been working out of the bullpen, taking things slow. But Callis reports that he’s trying to refine his arsenal with a slider and splitter (sounds like more of a split-change), which he hopes to partner up with his big hook. That is exciting news to me. Like most Giants prospects, Clayton will never get the big press. But he might just be one of the most polished young righties in all the minors right now, and if he can add a few more tools to his belt, he may well be ready to contribute in SF some time next year.

Folks jumped off the Blackburn bandwagon after two rough months in San Jose last season. Those folks missed out on the great turnaround he had in the second half of that season. This kid has taken a back seat to Kyle Crick in the organization, but all he has done is pitch beyond his years since the day he turned pro.

Here’s the link to the Callis article. I definitely recommend you give it a quick read. I’m attempting to post the video on this page, but this site has been giving me all kinds of problems in regards to video links lately. If it doesn’t work, there are two nice Giants-related AFL videos embedded in the MLB.com article.

Hope you’re all enjoying your start to the offseason. With all the postseason hoopla this month, Giants minor league content has been almost nonexistent. But I promise I’m still on the lookout for any updates, and I will certainly keep you all in the loop when I find them. Thanks for reading.

Three in Five; Giants Win it All!

Video of the final out:

What a night. What a series. What a month. What a year… What an organization!

Maybe they make us pull our hair out from time to time, but they sure have made us the most blessed fan base in American professional sports during the last five years. The leadership has stayed the same during that time, the core players mostly intact. The story lines are always changing, but this team perseveres something fierce regardless of its roster makeup. That comes from the top.

What will you remember this year? For me, it’s Crawford’s granny in Pittsburgh; Belt’s bomb in the 18th in DC; Ishi’s shot; Bumgarner’s poise. Tonight it was Panik’s incredible diving stab and flip; again Bummy’s poise; and finally, Pablo’s Scutaro moment, making the final out and sprawling onto his back. That will be a hard one to forget, regardless of what jersey the Panda buttons up next year!

You knew Bum would pitch tonight. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind we’d see him. But 5 innings? 5 of the most heart-thumping, intense innings of his life? Madison Bumgarner literally put this team on his back, and carried them to victory in the biggest moment of his life. While you and I were yelling at our TV’s, this legend of a southpaw was pitching like he was back in Augusta, GA, circa 2008. 270 IP for the season, and he looked like he could have tossed 300 without flinching. He’s 25. 25! 3 rings and a World Series MVP trophy on his mantle… just like Pablo.

Pablo WS

I had an old college buddy (a fellow teacher and die-hard Giants fan) from Montana send me a congratulatory text tonight. I checked to see when we’d talked last. Turns out I sent a congrats text his way, two years ago to the day. I wonder what the occasion was. Winning does funny things, but it also brings people together. And for that I will be forever thankful.

There’s nothing like being a Giants fan these days. You can’t explain it to fans of other teams. We have literally become the most frustrating organization in baseball. Ask me how much I care. Seriously, ask me. ESPN called this the “Worst World Series Ever,” even before it started. I hope they forgot to tune in… idiots.

2014 World Series Champions. Let that sink in for a minute. Congratulations, Giants Nation! Enjoy your celebration, wherever you may be. It’s been one hell of a ride.

Join the Giants World Series Discussion on Padlet!

Just learned about this site at an educational technology conference this weekend, but my buddy and I thought it would work very well for sports fan forums as well. Padlet is like an online bulletin board. You can browse articles, videos, and pretty much anything else you can link to the board. You can also leave comments and post your own material to the page. Simply just double-click anywhere on the board to get started. I’ll be posting on this page tonight for Game 5, and I hope you’ll join me!

http://padlet.com/wall/y2pit5wwecsu

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