Richmond Flying Squirrels | Position Players
San Jose Giants sluggers Devin Harris and Mac Williamson put up powerful statistical seasons in 2013. As the majority of last year's squad likely shifts to Richmond, can the two find a way to replicate 20-plus home run numbers in the Eastern League?
C - Jeff Arnold
1B - Angel Villalona
2B - Kelby Tomlinson
SS - Matt Duffy
3B - Myles Schroder
LF - Devin Harris
CF - Chris Lofton
RF - Mac Williamson
Though Mac Williamson and Devin Harris were the key run producers for the Little Giants in 2013, catcher Jeff Arnold was the backbone of the entire team. Arnold started 95 games behind the plate last year, catching arguably the best starting rotation in the California League. And though he was a crucial component to the success of that staff, Arnold had an offensive season of his own. The Louisville graduate logged career bests in home runs (13), doubles (26) and RBIs (61), trailing only Colorado Rockies prospect Ryan Casteel in almost every category for top offensive catcher in the league. Andrew Susac is obviously the organization's top catching priority, but Arnold serves a remarkably important role as he's been paired with the likes of Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Edwin Escobar since 2012. The Giants made that clear when they invited him to big league camp, where all three of those arms will be, as well.
Most San Francisco prospect junkies are excited about Mac Williamson, and they have reason to be. Williamson will be in big league camp alongside other top offensive prospects Susac and Joe Panik, mostly because he was a California League beast last year. Just google the stats if you want the full spectrum, but how does 25 HR, 89 RBIs and a .292/.375/.504 line sound? It falls short of other ridiculous San Jose seasons from players like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Adam Duvall and Roger Kieschnick, but pair it with his plus defense and plus speed and you're creeping towards a five-tool player. The numbers shouldn't translate to an identical season in Richmond, Va., but maybe. There's always a maybe.
Harris stunned everyone with a six-game stretch at the end of April that few minor leaguers have done. He hit seven home runs and drove in 16 runs in a half dozen games. He was unstoppable for an entire week. The tear subsided, but Harris still dazzled with 23 bombs, 84 RBIs and a league-leading 40 doubles in 132 games.
The cluster of infielders slated to congregate in San Jose in 2014 forced me to suggest Long Beach State product Matt Duffy could wind up in the Eastern League this year. Duffy received a late-season promotion from Augusta to San Jose, finishing the last 26 regular season games with the Giants where he slugged .504 with five homers and six doubles. Should he continue to impress in minor league camp, I don't see a need for him to play any more Single-A ball.
What to say about Angel Villalona. He wasn't good in Richmond last year, he wasn't good in the Arizona Fall League, and there seems to be no room for him in Fresno with Mark Minicozzi, Chris Dominguez and Andrew Susac (when he isn't behind plate) likely hogging all the innings at first base. He's typically jaw-dropping in batting practice, but it hasn't ever translated to the game. Split between San Jose and Richmond in 2013, Villalona totaled 136 strikeouts, just 23 walks and a .231/.276/.425 line in 125 games.
BENCH: (1B/3B) Ricky Oropesa, (OF) Brett Krill, (C) Eliezer Zambrano, (OF) Elliott Blair, (OF) Shawn Payne
Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment on the 2014 Minor League Roster Predictions page. Discussion is always good.