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John Sickels, who covers minor league ball for the Sports Bloggers Nation as well as minorleaguebaseball.com, came out with his  annual top prospect list this past week and his Giants list had a few odd choices for his top 20. One of which was Waldis Joaquin ranked 9th. Joaquin has some upside and has a good young arm, don't get me wrong, but there are a lot more accomplished prospects in this organization that didn't make it onto the list, such as the Cal League's minor league pitcher of the year, Kevin Pucetas. I figured I would go ahead and rank the Giants top 15 prospects in the order I believe they should be at this point in time. Take into mind that I am not including any of the players who have debuted for the Giants (outside of Connor Gillaspie) so Pablo Sandoval, Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz and Sergio Romo won't qualify for my list. Because I could literally make a whole post on each prospect, I am going to try and keep things short and simple. So here we go:
1. LHP Madison Bumgarner: The imposing lefty is quickly gaining national recognition as one of the premiere pitching prospects in all of baseball. His stuff got better and he got tougher to hit as the year wore on which bodes well for his advancement status. The Giants are hoping he'll be a fast tracker like the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and will be up contributing to the team in 2010 at age 20.
2. IF Angel Villalona: The 18 year old 3B/1B'men was the organizations number 1 rated prospect heading into 2008. He didn't dominate like the they were hoping, but still had a respectable season in low-A ball. Still 2-3 years away, but has the potential to hit for average as well as 25-30 home run a year should he develop accordingly, and maybe more. I can't help but thing of Miguel Cabrera when thinking about young Villalona. He probably won't end up being as good, but has that kind of talent.
3. C-IF Buster Posey: The #5 overall pick from the 2008  amateur draft is already making noise as he had a terrific winter league in Hawaii. He signed late in 2008 and didn't get to do much in the minors after winning the 2008 Golden Spikes award with FSU, but he should start out in San Jose (high-A ball) in '09 with the chance at advancing as quickly as his play will allow him, which means I wouldn't completely count out the chance of him making a cameo appearance with the big club late in '09. Best catching prospect since Joe Mauer and I think he'll be even better. Outside chance he could end up at 3rd or 1st base, depending on team needs.
4. RHP Tim Alderson: Tim #2 has a wacky delivery in his own right, but the 6'6" righty looks just dominating as he is. He doesn't have the upside of MadBum, but kind of reminds me of a mix between Cain and Lincecum. Kind of has Cain's size and stuff, and more of Lincecum's unorthodox style. He is right up there with the best pitching prospects in the game though, and is a little more polished then MadBum. Should start in AA but like the other top guys, his play will determine how quickly he advances.
5. Connor Gillaspie: Rounding out the top 5 is the solid, all-around player, Connor Gillaspie. The Giants think so highly of his ability at the dish that they gave him a call-up last season in September which tells me we could be seeing a lot of the '08 supplemental pick in 2009. Everyone is comparing him to a little bigger version of Bill Mueller, which isn't bad at all, but I think he has potential to be a little better than Billy was maybe with a little more pop. Again, whether he realizes it is the million (or 2.5 for him) dollar question.
6. RHP Kevin Pucetas: The freshly turned 24 year-old didn't even make Sickels' list, but Pucetas won Cal League pitcher of the year award in '08 throwing in a league with some of the top pitching (and hitting for that matter) prospects in baseball. His career record as a minor leaguer alone has him in this spot: 32-7, 2.47 era, 267 k's compared to 69 bb's in 343 minor league innings. He doesn't throw 95 MPH, which may be why he hasn't gotten the national attention that he deserves, but he flat out wins and he throws strikes. Has outside shot at making the team in 2009, but I think he'll probably end up in Fresno for the start.
7. LHP Jesse English: The 24 year-old lefty has already dealt with a career pausing injury (took away either most or all of his '03-'05 seasons) and has come back strong. The big lefty has always had strikeout potential (11.2 k's/9 IP) and really put it together as a full time starter last season. Should start in either AA or in Fresno.
8. 2B Nick Noonan: He did ok in Augusta in '08 and the 19 year-old should keep improving. He plays very good defense, and had a decent year with the bat hitting .279 with a little pop (9 hr), and the ability to drive in some runs (68) which are nice qualities to have in middle infielders. He needs to cut down on the k's and learn the strike zone a little more before he can advance too far though.
9. OF Rafael Rodriguez: 16 years-old and freshly singed out of the Dominican, so he hasn't done much in the states to go off of yet, but according to Felipe Alou, has Vladimir Guerrero type potential. He certainly has the size already (6'5", 198 lbs) and I can't wait to see what he does in Augusta this coming summer. Could end up jumping into the teams top 3-5 prospects by next season.
10. RHP Henry Sosa: The 23 year-old righty finished off the 2007 season so well that the Giants were hoping for big things in '08, but an arm injury kept Sosa out until late in the season. '09 now becomes a big year for him as he needs to take that next step and show the ability to pitch at a higher level than just A ball. His minor league numbers along with his potential remind me a lot of where Jonathan Sanchez was at that point in his career.
11. 3B Jesus Guzman: The 24 year old was signed away from the A's in hopes that he could challenge for the 3b job in San Francisco this coming season. Has been scary good with the bat over his last 2 minor league seasons including Texas League batting champ in '08 and a 25 hr, 112 RBI season in the Cal League in '07. At 24, and with 5 minor league seasons under his belt though, it's time for the youngster to take that next step.
12. SS Ehire Adrianza: The 18 year-old had only 66 at-bats in 2008 and they were all spread out between Rookie League, low-A ball (Augusta) and Fresno, but showed his  upside: decent bat, patience and great defense. Very interested to see what he does in 2009.
13. LHP Clayton Tanner: Another member of San Jose's dominant starting rotation from 2008. The 21 year-old has been rock solid since he was drafted in the 3rd round in '06. Not quite the upside of Alderson, Sosa and MadBum, but certainly has the ability to become a decent big league starter.
14. RHP Kelvin Pichardo: Giants traded Michael Tucker for him in 2005 and the 23 year-old right-handed reliever has been getting better in each year since. Could see some time in the bigs in 2009 and be this years Sergio Romo for the squad.
15. LHP Ben Snyder: 23 year-old lefty would have probably landed in the top 10 easily had he pitched better after being promoted from A to AA last season. Carried an era barely over 2 in his first 2 seasons in A ball, including going 8-3 with a 2.00 era and 73 K's with only 18 BB's in 14 starts and 85 innings pitched with San Jose last season before heading to AA and struggling for the most of the second half of '08. 2009 will be a crucial year for him, like it will be for Sosa, as the Giants are really trying to figure out just exactly what they have in these guys. Snyder was San Jose's best starting pitcher when he was there though, and that says a lot, especially when he was in the same rotation as English, Pucetas and Alderson.
16-20: 16. LHP Scott Barnes (21 years old) 17. RHP Edwin Quirarte (21) 18. OF Wendell Fairley (20) 19. SS Brandon Crawford (21) 20. OF Roger Kieschnick (21)
Published at The San Francisco Giants Blog