Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Giants 2010 Draft Prospect Spotlight: Shortstops Christian Colon and Yordy Cabrera

In the last Draft Prospect Spotlight, I looked at Austin Wilson, a tall lanky outfielder from Southern California. Though I like Wilson, at this point, Wilson may be a longshot for the Giants. Apparently, the kid is asking for a lot of money and apparently he seems quite committed in his desire to go to Stanford (which I can't blame him to be frank). These two factors have been such a warning sign that Andy Seiler of MLB Bonus Baby has Wilson dropping out of the first round all together in his latest mock draft.

So, it's about time to look at a couple of new prospects that the Giants could be taking with the No. 24 pick. MLB Bonus Baby and MLB Fantasy Prospects just released some new mock drafts, and both web sites have the Giants taking shortstops in their respective mocks.

However, they differ on the shortstops. Seiler has the Giants taking Christian Colon out of Cal State Fullerton, while Lawrence Duschenski of MLBFP has Yordy Cabrera out of Lakeland HS going at No. 24.

Both are talented shortstops and could have an impact at the Major League level for the Giants. Furthermore, infield depth is a concern in the Giants system. While the Giants have some hot shot prospects like Brandon Crawford, Nick Noonan, Conor Gillaspie, Brandon Belt and Ehire Adrianza, the talent level in the infield significantly drops off after that.

Who is the better prospect? Should the Giants go young or go with the guy with the proven pedigree at a major baseball power? Here is a look at the two players.

Christian Colon
Stats this year with CS-Fullerton: .347 average, .436 OBP, .606 OPS, 12 SB, 14 HR, 62 R, 58 RBI.

Colon has been an absolute stud this year for the Titans, adding a lot of power to his numbers this year. After hitting 12 gome runs combined his freshman and sophomore years, he has belted 14 home runs and driven in 58 RBI. Furthermore, his .606 slugging percentage is almost 80 points higher than his .529 slugging his sophomore year (which was already impressive for a shortstop).

Yet power isn't the only reason Giants fans should pay attention to Colon. He has a very meticulous plate approach, as evidenced by his 0.76, 1.00 and 1.88 BB/K ratio during his collegiate career. Colon makes great contact and is a tough out at the plate. Here is what Nick James of PnR Scouting said of Colon's swing:

"Colon begins with an open stance, using a small stride to get his momentum moving directly towards the ball. He keeps a short path to the ball with the very slightest of loops in his hands as he begins his swing. Colon shows excellent balance through contact and rotates his core well with a strong front leg. He finishes under control and is quick out of the box. This spring he has whipped the bat head a little better, and is producing some pop (though it is unclear if that will translate to wood against better pitching)."

 Defensively, Colon is very athletic and can make plays. Apparently, Colon can play either second or shortstop, but according to James, "looks very comfortable" at shortstop. There are some concerns with Colon's defense though. Colon has made 13 errors this year and has a fielding percentage of .952. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily outstanding either.

Colon isn't a big guy (six-foot, 180 pound frame) and there is some question about his upside. At 21 years of age by draft time, many scouts don't project his ceiling to be as high as many other shortstops in this draft. Furthermore, his huge power jump this year suggests more of a peak rather than a sign of things to come at the professional level.

That being said, despite the questions about his ceiling, Colon is an enticing prospect and the Giants could benefit from the addition of the Titans shortstop. While Crawford is looking good at Double-A, and Adrianza and Noonan have a lot of upside, Colon could be a one of those guys who could have an immediate (if limited) impact in the Giants organization within three to four years.

Yordy Cabrera
Stats in 16 games with Lakeland HS (Fla): .333 average, .500 OBP, .622 slugging, 21 R, 3 HR, 19 RBI.

Cabrera may be one of the most unpredictable guys in the draft. Cabrera was in the No. 17 range early in Seiler's mock drafts, but has consistently fallen over the course of the year.

You can see why the scouts like Cabrera. He's got incredible athleticism, and great size as evidenced by his six-foot, four-inch frame. Furthermore, Cabrera according to scouts has plenty of time to grow and fill out, which will only add to his power.

Speaking of power, Cabrera has a lot of it, even if it is raw. His slugging percentage was .625 his senior year at Lakeland HS, and he has shown flashes of big-fly potential in many competitive and elite showcases throughout his high school campaign.

Unlike Colon though, Cabrera is far from polished. Here is what MLB.com said in their scouting reports concerning Cabrera's defense:

"While his hands are fine, few think he'll be a shorstop long-term. He could move to third, and he's probably athletic enough to handle a move to a corner outfield spot."

If that's not enough, check out what they said about Cabrera's range:

"He has below-average range and his footwork is not great at shortstop."

As you can see, not many scouts are optimistic that Cabrera can play shortstop at the big league level. Granted, that's not a bad thing. Cabrera, who also moonlights as a pitcher in high school, has great arm strength, so a move to the outfield is entirely plausible, especially considering his athleticism and size. That being said, Cabrera's plate discipline and maturity may be a bit of a question, but that's usually a question for most high school players in the draft.

Despite the negatives, Cabrera is a toolsy player with incredible potential. His athleticism and upside alone is worth a draft pick. If Cabrera can adjust to the professional level, and find a position that will make the most of his defensive abilities, then I think it's possible that the Giants could find a diamond in the rough with this kid.

Who is the better draft pick?

Colon without a doubt is the more polished player, which explains why he went as high as No. 2 in some mock drafts. However, there is something about Cabrera that is special. In my mind, Cabrera has Hanley Ramirez potential, at least offensively. He may not be a great defensive player, but without a doubt, his athleticism will carry him somewhere on the field, be it at third base or in the outfield.

Colon will be a great pick and could have a solid career in the Majors. (Think Mike Aviles perhaps?) But Cabrera has "superstar" potential, and if he's available, the Giants simply can't pass on him.

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