When projecting next season's San Jose team, it first requires a look back at the 2012 Augusta GreenJackets. San Francisco's Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League started the year slow, but gained steam throughout the second half as they attempted to reach the postseason. And while their playoff dreams ended late in the year (69-70 overall record, 37-33 in the second half), there were still several notable individual standouts.
For a look at the some of the pitchers that could form a deep San Jose starting rotation next season, click here.
Offensively, the GreenJackets finished last in the league with a paltry 52 home runs while no single player had more than eight. By comparison, the trio of Adam Duvall (30), Ricky Oropesa (16) and Jarrett Parker (15) combined for 61 homers in 2012. But while the long ball wasn't a major part of the Augusta offense last year, the same cannot be said about the stolen base.
The GreenJackets swiped a league-best 199 bases in 2012 - more than double San Jose's final total (93). A pair of outfielders may lead that charge for the Giants next season in left fielder Shawn Payne and center fielder Jesus Galindo.
San Jose fans are already familiar with Payne after he was promoted during the final weekend of the regular season and was immediately inserted into the leadoff spot in the lineup. Augusta's top all-around player this year, Payne hit a team-best .309 with the GreenJackets while also contributing 19 doubles, six triples, six home runs and 57 RBI's. Meanwhile on the basepaths, he was a terror. Payne's 53 steals were second in the entire South Atlantic League, but perhaps more impressive was that he was caught on only three occasions.
A 35th round draft pick in 2011, Payne went 3-for-9 in two regular season games with the Giants before starting Game 1 of the playoffs with a home run.
Galindo endured a difficult first half before catching fire late in the season with Augusta. The speedy leadoff man didn't make his 2012 debut until late-May due to an injury and then hit just .214 in the first half (26 games) as he attempted to return to form. Galindo though turned things around after the All-Star break as he hit .306 in July before batting at a .283 clip in August.
Wreaking havoc on the bases is clearly Galindo's strength offensively and that was evident while in Augusta this year as he stole a remarkable 40 bags in just 66 games. In 2011, Galindo led the Short-Season Northwest League in steals when he swiped a whopping 47 bases in just 62 games. Galindo has yet to hit for any power as a professional (two home runs in four years), but is considered an above-average defender in center field and could fit in nicely as San Jose's leadoff hitter next season.
While Galindo and Payne could form a potent 1-2 basestealing punch at the top of the Giants lineup in 2013, they may not be the only speedsters on the club. Kelby Tomlinson anchored the shortstop position in Augusta last season and stole 36 bases despite just a .224 batting average. With Joe Panik ticketed for a spot in the upper levels of the San Francisco farm system next spring, the shortstop position will be vacated in San Jose. Whether Tomlinson has shown enough offensively to earn a promotion remains to be seen, but he could add another major stolen base threat to the Giants lineup.
In fact this season in Augusta, Galindo, Tomlinson and Payne often hit 1-2-3 in the lineup to make things supremely difficult on opposing pitchers and catchers. At the end of the year, they were three of the top eight basestealers in the South Atlantic League (Payne 2nd, Galindo 4th, Tomlinson 8th).
Outfielder Brett Krill is another player jockeying for a promotion to San Jose next year. A 25th round draft pick of the Giants in 2010, Krill hit .304 with Salem-Keizer last season before spending all of this year with Augusta. Expected to be a major part of the GreenJackets lineup, Krill got off to a dreadful start with a .209 first half batting average. However he became one of the top performers in the league after the All-Star break hitting at a .352 clip in the second half. Krill, who finished the year at .288 overall, hit only five home runs with the GreenJackets, but did pace the club with 26 doubles. On a San Jose team that may be lacking for many true home run threats, Krill's development in the middle of the lineup could be critical to the team's success. He saw action primarily in right field this season.
GreenJackets first baseman Ben Thomas (.243, 5 HR, 49 RBI) and second/third baseman Jose Cuevas (.212, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 18 SB) will be looking for their first tastes of the California League next spring. Whether they get that chance or have to return to Augusta due to less-than-stellar batting averages should be determined during spring training. Right fielder Devin Harris (.245, 8 HR, 39 RBI) could also return to San Jose next year. Harris hit just .185 in 53 games with the Giants before a midseason demotion. His eight home runs led the GreenJackets.
In addition to ranking last in the South Atlantic League in home runs, the GreenJackets were tied for 13th (out of 14 teams) with a .240 batting average. They did, however, log the fourth-fewest number of strikeouts in the league. Look for a San Jose lineup next season that can put the ball in play with much more regularity while hopefully improving individual power numbers as players go from Augusta to the more hitter-friendly environment that is the California League.
Several pieces of next year's San Jose Giants lineup could also be filled from elsewhere. Players from last season's Giants team could return headlined by catcher Andrew Susac. A second round draft pick in 2011, Susac had an up-and-down year offensively in his rookie professional campaign batting .244 with nine homers and 52 RBI's. Still considered one of the top prospects in the system, Susac could provide a much-needed jolt to the middle of the lineup as a second-year Cal leaguer. Middle infielder Bobby Haney (.310, 0 HR, 22 RBI) could also take on a more prominent role on the team if he doesn't receive a promotion to Double-A while outfielder Chris Lofton (.245, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 22 SB) is another candidate to return.
Finally, right fielder Mac Williamson figures to be a strong candidate to jump past Augusta and all the way to San Jose after a terrific debut pro season in Salem-Keizer. This year's third round pick (and highest position player taken by San Francisco in the 2012 draft), Williamson hit a team-best .342 with seven homers and 25 RBI's in 29 games. A top power-hitting prospect, Williamson could play a leading role in the middle of the Giants lineup next year if he shows during spring training that he's ready for the promotion.
SJGiants.com will have complete position-by-position previews and projections of the 2013 San Jose Giants roster during spring training.