The Giants have won two World Series with homegrown stars. The next crop is short on depth and high-impact potential.
Between the weather, the Mythbusters, and Full House reruns, life's pretty good in San Francisco. But that doesn't mean their top prospects can't fail like the rest of us.
Prospect #1: OF Gary Brown
Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources
Who: A first-round selection in the 2010 draft, Brown emerged as a near-elite prospect in 2011, showing above-average offensive potential to match his well above-average defensive skill set. The 23-year-old center fielder has all the qualities to become a frontline defensive force, with top-of-the-chart speed that gives him a very broad coverage area, a very solid glove, instincts for the position, and solid-average arm strength. His bat isn’t in the same league as his glove, but the hit tool has promise, with some scouts projecting it to be a plus weapon at the major league level. Without much pop, Brown’s game is more contact and speed, limiting his overall offensive impact, but making him a realistic leadoff option. His defense at a premium position will be his ticket to the majors, and the development and utility of the stick will determine whether Brown becomes a fringe starter or an All-Star. Opinions on the ultimate projection are quite mixed.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: “Brown’s offensive skills aren’t as average as his 2012 numbers might suggest, but they aren’t as top-shelf as his 2011 numbers either. The reality is somewhere in between. He’s a good hitter, but he’s not a great hitter.” This is a tasty quote from a very good source, and it represents the majority of opinion I received when I asked around about Brown. His struggles in Double-A can be attributed to his weakness against quality right-handed pitching, most notably arms that can locate velocity inside or drop sharp breaking stuff out of the zone. He has good bat control and a stroke designed for contact, but he either fails to recognize and adjust to such off-speed offerings, or his appetite for unhittable breaking balls is so intense that he is compelled to swing despite knowing that his attempts will be for naught. I’m assuming it’s the former. If he can refine this skill, Brown should be more than adequate at the plate, with contact ability and enough speed to turn weak contact into base hits. Power is never going to be a big part of his game—his swing is built for the gaps rather than the seats beyond the fence—but he can put the good part of the barrel on the ball. His value is elevated by his ability to play center field at a high level, so anything you can get from the bat will only add to his worth. If the bat fails to develop to major league standards, Brown will still reach the level thanks to his glove and his speed. If he can hit for some average, his overall profile will make him a starter. If the bat explodes, he will be a star.
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The future of the Giants' farm system will largely depend upon the team's most recent draft.