2014 Top 10 Prospects: San Francisco Giants

Despite their penchant for dealing prospects for veterans, the Giants have amassed an impressive group of young arms that ranges from potential frontline starter to back-end innings-eaters (and everything in between). What the organization lacks, though, is a potential impact bat.

 

#1 Kyle Crick | 65/A+ (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
20 21 19 84.1 57 2 12.70 5.34 1.81 2.50

The Year in Review: The big, tall pitcher dominated the California League in 2013, at least when he was healthy. Crick made just 14 starts on the year due to an oblique strain. The injury didn’t stop him from striking out 95 batters or from limiting hitters to just 48 base-knocks in 68.2 innings of work. His control was off, though, and he walked 39 batters. He made up for the lost innings while on the disabled list by appearing in the Arizona Fall League. He added another 24 strikeouts in just 15.2 innings but also issued 11 free passes.

The Scouting Report: Crick is your prototypical hard-throwing Texan. His fastball resides in the mid-to-upper 90s and he complements it with a hard slider that has plus potential. Like most young pitchers, he needs to trust his changeup more. Crick’s command is still inconsistent, but that should improve as he learns to repeat his mechanics and becomes more of a pitcher.

The Year Ahead: Crick will almost certainly open 2014 in Double-A. He just recently turned 21 years old but the young hurler could reach the Majors before the end of the coming season.

The Career Outlook: Crick has the stuff, frame, and makeup to develop into a legitimate No. 1 starter at the big league level. All he needs to do is polish his control and avoid significant injuries.

 

#2 Edwin Escobar | 60/AA (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
21 26 24 128.2 112 5 10.21 2.10 2.80 2.21

The Year in Review: It seemed like such an innocuous trade at the time. On April 1, 2010, the Texas Rangers were looking to secure the rights to Rule 5 draftee Ben Snyder, whom they had no spot for on the 25-man roster. In return for that honour, the Rangers agreed to part with Escobar who signed out of Venezuela for a six-figure bonus in 2008 but had just 13 games of professional experience at the time. Fast-forward four seasons and Escobar is the second-highest rated prospect in the Giants system after a year that saw him split his time between High-A and Double-A. In total, he struck out 146 batters in 128.2 innings and was taken deep just five times.

The Scouting Report: Escobar isn’t flashy but he gets results. The lefty has a three-pitch repertoire that could boast a trifecta of average or better pitches as he matures. His fastball velocity is average, or a tick above, at 88-92 mph. His second best offering is his curveball but the changeup also has its moments. Escobar shows above-average control but he needs to command his pitches on a more consistent basis. He’s averaged just under 130 innings pitched over the past two seasons.

The Year Ahead: If Escobar comes out with a strong spring training, he could receive an opening day assignment to Triple-A. More than likely, though, he’ll return to Double-A for a little more seasoning before moving up to either Triple-A or the Majors.

The Career Outlook: The southpaw starter has the makings of a durable, innings-eating No. 2 or 3 starter. Escobar continues to look like a steal for Snyder, who never did reach the Majors and last pitched in the minors in 2012. The talent evaluator who recommended the acquisition deserves a raise from the Giants.

 

#3 Adalberto Mejia | 55/A+ (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
20 24 20 109.0 98 17 8.67 2.72 4.13 4.32

The Year in Review: Like top prospect Kyle Crick, Mejia’s 2013 season was interrupted by an oblique strain and he made just 17 starts and failed to crack the 100-inning plateau. The lefty spent most of the year in the High-A California League where he struck out 89 batters in 87.0 innings of work. He also received a spot start in Triple-A, which speaks to how highly regarded he is in the organization. Mejia, 20, also received an assignment to the Arizona Fall League where he was roughed up in 17.0 innings.

The Scouting Report: Mejia has above-average control for his age, which helps his slightly-above-average repertoire play up. The lefty’s fastball works in the 88-93 mph range and his second-best offering is a changeup. His slider should be average or better with further experience and polish. Mejia gets into trouble when he elevates his pitches and he gave up 13 home runs in 92.0 innings last season.

The Year Ahead: Despite his fall struggles, the talented lefty should find himself in the Double-A starting rotation in April. With Mejia, Crick, and Escobar all at the Double-A level or higher in 2014, the big league club will soon be flush with an abundance of young pitching talent.

The Career Outlook: Mejia has some polish to add before he reaches his ultimate ceiling but he should settle in to the Majors as a durable mid-rotation starter.

 

#4 Christian Arroyo | 55/R (SS)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
18 209 60 18 2 19 32 3 .326 .388 .511 .411

The Year in Review: A number of talent evaluators felt Arroyo’s selection at 25th overall in the 2013 amateur draft was a reach. To that, though, the young shortstop said, “Stuff it,” by going out and performing as one of the best prospects in the rookie level Arizona League. The Florida native hit .326 with unexpected gap power (18 doubles, five triples) in 45 games.

The Scouting Report: Arroyo, 18, isn’t flashy and he doesn’t have an overabundance of plus tools, but he showed a knack for hitting in his pro debut. He doesn’t project to hit for much power and he’s not going to steal many bases so he’ll have to make friends by reaching base at a consistent clip. In the field, Arroyo quieted some concerns over his ability to play shortstop in pro ball, although he may eventually transition over to second base in deference to a stronger, flashier defender.

The Year Ahead: You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find the last time the Giants took a prep bat (Tony Torcato) with their first selection in an amateur draft. Arroyo’s strong debut could convince the Giants to push him aggressively up to Low-A ball to begin 2014 but something tells me he may be headed for extended spring training and another short-season assignment come June.

The Career Outlook: Arroyo currently looks like a future solid, but unspectacular, middle infielder at the MLB level. With that said, he’s not likely to challenge for a big league assignment for another four years or so.

 

#5 Martin Agosta | 55/A- (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
22 18 18 91.2 57 4 10.70 4.22 2.06 3.03

The Year in Review: Agosta got off to a strong start in his first full pro season but he pitched just 37.0 innings after the end of May due to blisters and arm problems. Despite the rough second half, the 2012 second round draft pick left a strong impression with 109 strikeouts and a 2.06 ERA in 91.2 innings of work.

The Scouting Report: The right-hander has experienced a fair amount of success in the starting rotation but he projects as a reliever in the Majors, unless he can improve his secondary offerings. Agosta’s fastball works in the 90-93 mph range and he also throws a cutter and a slider. Both offerings could develop into average pitches.

The Year Ahead: If healthy, Agosta should open the 2014 in the California League where he’ll look to break the 100-inning mark and build upon the strong foundation that was laid back in April and May of 2013.

The Career Outlook: Agosta has just slightly more than 100 innings of professional experience so projecting his future at this point includes a fair amount of educated guess work. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 or 4 starter but might also succeed as a high-leverage reliever.

 

#6 Mac Williamson | 55/A+ (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 597 152 31 25 51 132 10 .292 .375 .504 .383

The Year in Review: Williamson, 23, enjoyed his time in the California League. He wasn’t exactly young for the league but he impressed the organization when he slugged 25 home runs. He also produced a .375 on-base percentage thanks to an unexpectedly-high batting average. On the downside, he struck out 132 times in 136 games.

The Scouting Report: Williamson’s carrying tool is his plus power. His hit tool projects as average-at-best because of his swing-and-miss tendencies. He could end up offering 20+ home run pop with a .240 to 250 batting average but his decent walk rate helps him compensate a bit for his shortcomings. In the field, he has the potential to be an average right-fielder with an above-average arm.

The Year Ahead: Williamson will face a stiffer test when he opens 2014 in Double-A, a more age-appropriate league for him. There is no disputing his pop but the powerful outfielder needs to work on improving his pitch recognition. Look for the North Carolina native to make his MLB debut at some point in 2015.

The Career Outlook: The Wake Forest alum probably won’t ever be a star but he could be a value big leaguer because of his powerful arm and potent right-handed pop.

 

#7 Joan Gregorio | 55/A- (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
21 14 13 69.2 65 3 10.85 2.20 4.00 2.17

The Year in Review: Gregorio battled injuries in 2013: first an oblique strain and later blister problems on his throwing hand. When he was healthy and on the mound, the right-hander was around the strike zone a lot but his lack of command in the strike zone led to a significant number of hits allowed. On the plus side, he walked just 17 and struck out 84 batters.

The Scouting Report: Signed in early 2010, Gregorio has been slow to develop and he’s never pitched in more than 76.1 innings in a season after managing just 69.2 frames in 2013 thanks to an injury. The right-hander towers over his competitors at 6’7” but his heater ranges in the 88-92 mph range with above-average movement but he’s still projectable and could have more velocity to tap in to. His slider has above-average potential but the changeup has a ways to go. Gregorio also has above-average control for his age.

The Year Ahead: Entering his fifth pro season, Gregorio will look to prove his durability as he moves up to High-A ball. He’ll likely spend the entire year at that level while attempting to surpass 100 innings pitched for the first time.

The Career Outlook: Gregorio still has a lot to prove but he has the raw ability necessary to develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter. He could also eventually find his way to the bullpen where he could focus on his fastball-slider combination.

 

#8 Clayton Blackburn | 50/A+ (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
20 23 23 133.0 111 12 9.34 2.37 3.65 3.29

The Year in Review: Just 20, Blackburn moved up to High-A ball in 2013 and produced solid results despite playing in a league that significantly favors hitters. The right-hander walked just 38 batters while striking out 138 in 133.0 innings. He made some adjustments in the first half of the season and had a strong finish to the year.

The Scouting Report: Blackburn has a strong frame and projects to develop into a No. 4 pitcher capable of providing 200+ innings. He succeeds with average stuff by pounding the lower half of the strike zone and shows the potential to command three or four pitches, including an 87-93 mph fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. His best offerings right now are his fastball and curveball.

The Year Ahead: Blackburn will move up to Double-A in 2014 and should spend the entire season at that level. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster (to protect him from the Rule 5 draft) until after the 2015 season so the organization can afford to be patient with him while he polishes his repertoire. Expect to see his strikeout rate to dip noticeably as he faces more mature hitters that are used to pitches being able to command the ball more consistently.

The Career Outlook: The California native has a solid chance to develop into a solid, but unspectacular, back-of-the-rotation starter who should chew up plenty of innings for the Giants. Double-A will be a strong test for him. 

 

#9 Heath Hembree | 50/MLB (P)


Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR
24 7.2 14.09 2.35 53.3 % 0.00 0.70 1.59 0.3 0.2

The Year in Review: Hembree returned to Triple-A for a second straight season in 2013 and produced respectable results. He was rewarded with his first taste of big league action and did not allow a run while striking out 12 batters in 7.2 innings.

The Scouting Report: Hembree has the kind of makeup and mound presence that allows him to get the most out of his abilities. It also hints at his potential to develop into a high-leverage reliever at the big league level. In the past, Hembree threw more consistently in the 94-95 mph range but he sat in the 91-93 mph range during his debut in The Show. He has above-average control thanks to his simple, repeatable delivery but he needs to improve the command of both his fastball and his slider. He also falls in love with his breaking ball a little too much at times.

The Year Ahead: Hembree has nothing left to prove in the minors, although he has all three minor league options remaining. As it stands right now, the right-hander should have a good shot at breaking camp with the Giants but a lot can change between now and April. He’ll likely start out in a middle relief role.

The Career Outlook: The South Carolina native has both the skill and the makeup to develop into a high-leverage reliever for the Giants, either as a closer or a very good set-up man.

 

#10 Chris Stratton | 50/A- (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
22 22 22 132.0 128 5 8.39 3.20 3.27 2.97

The Year in Review: Despite going 20th overall in the 2012 amateur draft, the college product spent the entire 2013 season in Low-A ball at the age of 22 (now 23). He was old for the league and he produced solid results but his raw stuff failed to impress.

The Scouting Report: Stratton displayed three average offerings in 2013 with his fastball, slider and changeup. He displayed OK control but his command in the strike zone fluctuated and his stuff was often flat. The Mississippi native had a habit of hanging his breaking ball and needs to finish it off more consistently. He has an strong, athletic frame and fields his position well. He could end up as a respectable No. 4 starter in the Majors.

The Year Ahead: Stratton will look to rediscover the stuff that made him a highly-ranked amateur prospect just two years ago. If he produces, he could split the year between High-A and Double-A.

The Career Outlook: A former first round draft pick, Stratton hasn’t developed as hoped and he has a considerably lower ceiling than expected when he was selected out of Mississippi State University in 2012. He should pitch in the big leagues but it will be in the middle to back end of the rotation rather than at the front.

The Next Five:

Andrew Susac, C: Susac’s bat hasn’t been quite as good as advertised since signing as a second round pick in 2011 but he’s made significant strides behind the plate. The California native should provide at least average big league defense in his prime. His bat is another story but he’s been pushed aggressively through the system and began his first pro season in High-A ball. He played in Double-A in 2013. The right-handed hitter had a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League, which provides some hope that his offence is about to kick into high gear.

Gary Brown, OF: Brown has been a bit of a disappointment since going 24th overall in the 2010 amateur draft he has some tools that should allow him to be a useful big league contributor. The speedy outfielder plays an above-average centre field with solid arm strength and plus speed. Unfortunately, his bat projects as fringe-average. Despite having four years of pro experience under his belt, Brown has a lot of work to do at the plate and needs to get on base on a more regular basis to take advantage of his stronger tool.

Keury Mella, RHP: The Dominican right-hander came stateside for his second pro season and was overpowering at times in the rookie Arizona League. He struck out 41 batters and induced a high number of ground-ball outs in 36.0 innings over 10 appearances (nine starts). Mella, 20, probably has a future as a hard-throwing reliever but the organization will no doubt give him every opportunity to succeed as a starter. He throws in the low-to-mid 90s with his heater and also shows a solid curveball.

Ty Blach, LHP: Blach had an eye-opening season while pitching in the offense-boosting California League (High-A). The southpaw utilized above-average control, strong pitching know-how, and an average four-pitch repertoire to post a 2.90 ERA in 22 appearances (20 starts). Blach’s fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range and his best secondary pitch is a plus changeup. He also throws both a curveball and a slider. He could settle into a big league rotation as a durable No. 4 starter capable of eating up 200+ innings a season.

Ryder Jones, 3B: Jones had an outstanding debut in rookie ball by hitting more than .300 and showing power potential from the left side of the plate. Already 6-2, 200 pounds, the teenager will have to watch his conditioning to stick at third base where he currently projects to develop into an average fielder (given more experience) with a strong arm. Like with first rounder Christian Arroyo, Giants scouts did an excellent job of identifying and taking talents that went higher in the draft than expected, potentially landing some steals.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


61 Responses to “2014 Top 10 Prospects: San Francisco Giants”

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  1. Yukio says:

    There is any hope about Gary Brown? Well, I think probably it is…

    How about Joe Panik? Andrew Bagg on CSN Bay Area is still have little hope about him that he could be the everyday player even not match up to level of Marco Scutaro or Freddy Sanchez.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      There is hope but Brown is probably a platoon outfielder while Panik is more of a utility guy. Either guy could produce decently as second-division starters for a few seasons.

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  2. Shankbone says:

    Thank you for your thorough writeup on the Gigantes. As always, its an excellent read. Very aggressive rankings of the Augusta blister boys Agosta and Gregorio, I enjoyed both reviews. Apparently Gregorio had a big time uptick in velocity, sitting 95. That could be huge, but it wasn’t sustained and then he got injured. I’ve always been suspicious of his prospects because he’s tall and gangly, repeated delivery is tough. But his K/BB is excellent, I think he has huge boom/bust potential here. And Agosta pitched quite well but seemed to run out of gas at the end. There are reports of him ditching that cutter at the Giants behest, not sure about that. I’m quite sure yours will be the most aggressive ranking of him.

    Arroyo was a huge “overdraft” as well as Jones and its nice to see both youths come out the gate hard. Everybody from national pundits to Giants prospect hounds were mocking the picks. Andrew Baggerly is hearing that Arroyo might even go to SJ, I think there is no way he doesn’t do full season ball. The best comp to him might be LSU’s Alex Bregman, who is going to try and stick at short while hitting a bunch as well. Very glad the Giants bought out the commits.

    Blackburn has to watch his HRs, but I’d note they came in hitter friendly stadiums in the CA league. His velocity has been discussed a ton, I think it might turn out to be the difference between his 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs, and I think he has more in the tank than he gets credit for. Blackburn isn’t a CA native, born in TX and OK HS. What excites me about him is he should be a relatively safe bet at this point, but he will have to prove it at each level.

    One guy who was most likely right after your HMs to watch is Kendry Flores. He also had an uptick in velocity at Augusta, had insane K/BB ratios and had a real bounce back year. Between Gregorio, Agosta, Stratton and Flores plus a new draft pick, the SJ rotation should be excellent. The Giants pitching depth is very enviable. I’d note that Stratton apparently was working on a very specific regimen for the braintrust learning to pitch inside, not sure about the results. He has been one of the non-stories so far. Speaking of non-stories, no Joltin’ Joe Panik? Giants like his K/BB and scrappiness, but the ISO has been fading in the Eastern.

    I do think its worth noting that Susac was among the league leaders in OPS in the Eastern, and had some injury bugs. He is beginning to get some hype from various places, the word is he can be a full-time MLB starter. I see him as a sleeper the way Brandon Crawford just snuck up on people as well. Gary Brown is obviously the worst story in the Giants minors this year, he fell on his face in the hitter friendly PCL. One thing that makes no sense to me though is his K rate spiked, and the usually slick fielding speedster also made 9 errors and had a huge falloff in SB attempts, his CS ratio has always been bad. Maybe he’s finally making adjustments and its hard going. He’s running out of time.

    Thanks for the review. The Giants have a sleeper system, one that will bring some noise, and soon.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      a “sleeper system”? I think you mean in deep hibernation.

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      • Jamie says:

        I would hesitate to bet against the Giants regarding their ability to draft and develop pitchers. It is the thing they do, and if we knew how they did it we’d all be doing it.

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        • channelclemente says:

          Detroit and Texas would certainly underwrite that POV. I hear Cabrera would even give a testimonial.

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      • Shankbone says:

        An entire rotation in double-A. You savvy? Not so much I guess. Giants have about 10 prospects that will threaten the show next year and another half dozen the year after for reals. They’re coming strong now.

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        • Cove Chatter says:

          Nice overview Shank. I’m just fascinated (and will continue to be) at the differing opinions after Crick. There really aren’t any wrong answers, which makes it all the more fun to discuss. I don’t like Agosta/Gregorio as high, and would certainly put Susac in the top 10, but everyone looks for different things. These Giants rankings should all be very fun to dissect this winter.

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    • Dave says:

      Yes, I like Flores too. His numbers are good, and from what I’ve seen, the scouting reports are good, and he has projectibility. I’ve actually seen him in the Giants top 5 on at least one other list.

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      • Dave says:

        I forgot to mention that after the all-star break, Flores had 79 K’s in 72 IP, and 4 walks. Yep, FOUR.

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        • Cove Chatter says:

          Flores absolutely crushed the 2nd half. Reports of 92-95 on the gun have turned him into a very credible prospect. He’s not the youngest of the bunch, but not old by any means. And one thing he’s got going for him that some of the others don’t… a changeup!

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  3. D Pass says:

    Even with the gruesome injury no love, or at least a mention for Gustavo Cabrera? I think he’s at least a 4th OF with his speed and D, and potentially a lot more, depending on his rehab etc.

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  4. jdbolick says:

    I think leaving Gary Brown out of the top ten entirely is a case of prospect fatigue. 2013 was a tough one for him, no doubt, and I cautioned against overhyping him following 2011, but he deserves to be higher on the list. Brown’s plate approach suffered last season, probably moreso because he was pressing than the jump from AA to AAA, but the potential for a starting outfielder is still there.

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    • walt526 says:

      Brown turned 25 in September and has yet to break into the majors. The likelihood of 25 year-old who is unlikely to make the MLB roster out of spring training becoming a major league regular is very remote–particularly one who was completely overmatched in the PCL as a 24 year-old.

      Brown will almost certainly play in the majors at some point, but it’s much more likely that he’ll be a 5th outfielder with a great glove than a regular. I would be shocked if he ever sees more than 400 PA in a single MLB season, even once.

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      • jdbolick says:

        Brown has only played three full minor league seasons, and even then has yet to repeat a level. You should pay more attention to experience than age.

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        • Cove Chatter says:

          The problem is, Brown’s numbers have declined every season, and completely fell off in 2013… one hot month where he started upper-cutting the ball out of the park was about all he had to show for in Fresno. Honestly, I don’t think he deserves top 10 consideration at all in this system. Definitely don’t count him out just yet, but there are too many players excelling in the organization to give Brown a spot at the top.

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        • Larry Yocum says:

          Most college players are polished and don’t move through the system this slowly. Age is way more important in this scenario, especially when the player in question looks overmatched by younger players at levels that he should be dominating if he is going to make it as a legitimate major leaguer.

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        • I wouldn’t say that “most” college players are polished and move quickly through the minors. If that were so, teams would not be fighting each other over scraps in the free agent market, they would be overflowing with prospects and ignoring the free agents.

          I think it depends on what you are hoping to get out of the prospect.

          I never expected Brown to be this superstar player. With his great defensive talents, but odd batting mechanics, he seemed likely to be at least a strong defensive gloveman who may or may not develop his bat (I was very hopeful because of his progress in college) but could be a lead-off guy with speed. I still think he can do that, most mid-range useful complementary players don’t fly up the minors, they go step by step until they learn enough and produce some in the majors.

          The main disappointment has been his inability to turn his speed into a lot of stolen bases with few caught stealing. But still, I think with his defense, he should at least be able to produce a 2 WAR season based solely on his defense. That type of production at under $1M pre-arb is very useful when you have big money players like Posey, Cain, Pence, and Bumgarner taking big chunks of the payroll.

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  5. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Very nice writeup. Keury Mella is still young and has not played above rookie ball, but I think he might be the second best pitching prospect in the organization in terms of ceiling, which I guess would also make him #2 overall. A potential breakout name to watch.

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  6. DrBGiantsfan says:

    One more thing: I guess stereotypes die hard. The Giants have traded Zack Wheeler, Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin for veterans at the trade deadlines. Beyond that I cannot think of any significant prospect for veteran trades in the last 10 years! That really does not seem like a “penchant” to me.

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    • Pirates Hurdles says:

      Tim Alderson too, not that that worked out at all for the Bucs.

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    • Shankbone says:

      Alderson for Sanchez, Culberson for Scutaro. Those worked out OK.

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    • Sabean Wannabe says:

      My thoughts exactly. Other than Wheeler for Beltran, you’d have to go all the way back to 2004 for the Liriano/Nathan for Pierzynski deal to find a trade of a significant prospect. Two in ten years is not exactly a “penchant”.

      Trading mid/low-level prospects for serviceable major leaguers who help the major league team win….Sanchez, Lopez, Scutaro, Pence, etc…..thats a “penchant” every team would like to have.

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    • Matt says:

      Seriously? The last 10 years? The AJ Pierzynski trade was 10 years ago, so trading Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser was within the last 10 years. A good chunk of those years the Giants weren’t a threat to make the post season, so no, during those years they didn’t trade away many prospects for vets.

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      • The point is that “penchant” implies a certain high level of repeated activities.

        Liriano, Wheeler, Joseph, and I’ll throw in Vogelsong too, he was a significant prospect too, a Top 5, that’s 4 times in 10 years. Alderson I suppose would count too, but he had a really bad season the year he was traded, I doubt he would have been considered a Top 5 prospect at the end of the season had he not been traded, but let’s count him, so that makes 5 times in 10 years. Is that considered a penchant? I wouldn’t.

        Culberson, Rosin, I considered to be fringe guys, but if you included them, that still only 7 times in 10 years. Bowker I wouldn’t count, he wasn’t eligible for BA ranking at the time he was traded.

        If that is penchant, then the Phillies, Cards, Braves, D-backs, Tigers, Yankees, and Red Sox also have a penchant to trade prospects for veterans, why single out the Giants?

        What Sabean has a penchant of doing, that nobody talks about, is keeping the prospects who are keepers, in their estimation. Cain, Lincecum, Wilson, Romo, Sandoval, Posey, Bumgarner, Belt, Crawford, the core of their two World Series teams. He don’t have any Ethier or CarGon mistakes on his ledger, other than Liriano.

        And the reason Liriano was traded was because he was injured every season he was a Giants farm hand, he could never stay healthy. And if you think he was a big loss to the Giants, I think the Twins would differ, losing him all those seasons when they were counting on him to be a top of rotation starter cost them precious years of both Mauer and Morneau. He might have been very good, but his penchant to get sidelined cost them many of their two superstar’s prime years.

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        • steve b says:

          Going back to the horrible AJ trade there was quite a few high ranked P that your forgeting. Granted some of them did not make a huge impact but you have to look at when they were drafted and where they ranked at the time of the trade.

          Jason Grilli
          Kurt Ainsworth
          Jesse Foppert
          Joe Nathan
          Franciso Liriano
          Ryan Vogelsong
          Tim Alderson
          Boof Bonser
          Tommy Joseph
          Seth Rosin
          Zack Wheeler

          Now looking at the list the obvious ones that hurt where the closers as look at hoe much effort and money was spent to fill that hole. However you cant have players that are ranked so high literally be given away. Jesse Foppert and Zack Wheeler are the two here as both were ranked near the top of prospects when traded. Both were highly sought after by other GMS and Sabean turned down a lot of offers for both….but then seemingly trade them away as a head scratcher for much less than could have been acquired from earlier offers. Think we could land Price right now with Wheeler as part of the deal? Or how about a play for W Myers from KC last year with a starter knowing we had Wheeler right up and ready to go…

          While the point your making is probably valid in that most teams have trading gaffs in their history and all teams trade away youth at some point (W.Myers last year for instance) it just seems like the screw ups the Giants make are huge.

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  7. Vlad the Impaler says:

    Crick is a two-pitch pitcher with injury concerns and serious command/control issues. No pitcher with a BB/9 above 3.50 should ever be termed a future #1.

    He’s a long ways away from getting such a label tossed on him. He’s more of a #3 for me at this point, until he can show further refinement.

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  8. Marco says:

    Great series Marc.
    Do you have a schedule for which team comes out when?

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  9. Seacoast says:

    Nothing on Angel? He’s only 23, and was sent to the AFL.

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  10. I saw Crick in his last regular season start and he was awesome. Steady 94-96 located the fastball whilekepting the changeup and slider down in the zone. A week later watched him pitch later against the same team in the playoffs and again he was lights out. He might have been a little rusty in AFL showing. I seen half the players on this list and I think your spot on with your evaluations.

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  11. Cove Chatter says:

    Thanks for the review! It’s very exciting to read all of the differing opinions on the starting pitchers in the organization. No matter how you rank them, one thing is certain: this system is loaded with pitching depth. At this point, I would rank the San Jose quintet (Crick, Escobar, Mejia, Blach, Blackburn) above the Augusta quartet of Stratton, Agosta, Gregorio and Kendry Flores – who’s not on this list. All 5 of the SJ guys earned top 20 Cal League considerations by Baseball America, while none of the Augusta starters were top 20 in the SALLY.

    The one thing that confuses me is the lack of confidence in the bat of Susac. Andy Baggarly left him out of his top 10 as well… I would think his power/OBP in the Eastern League, coupled with his strong AFL showing, would easily put him in the top 10. But I know scouts are mixed on his capabilities as well (as Baggarly has noted).

    Overally, I’m very excited about the progress of these guys, especially the pitchers. Time to rise and shine in the upper minors, and see how can hang. Enjoyed reading your reports!

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  12. Adam C says:

    I think Andrew Susac is being underrated here. Yes, he’s had his struggles with batting average (.249 BA). But he takes his fair share of walks (.356 OBP). I was impressed that he improved his batting average, improved his walk rate, improved his power, AND decreased his K rate while jumping from the hitter friendly Cal League to the pitcher friendly Eastern League. To me that shows clear improvement. I think he’s the kind of player whose bat will click in the next year or two. I wonder if Susac is athletic enough to play left field?

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    • walt526 says:

      I highly doubt that Susac’s bat would be much of an asset in LF and his glove would almost certainly be a liability.

      If Susac does develop into a solid major league catcher, then I think the Giants should seriously consider moving Posey… to third base. Sandoval will almost certainly be gone after 2014 and Belt is really better suited for 1B than the outfield. Seems to me like Posey has the arm and the footwork to be at least average defensively at the hot corner (remember, he was a shortstop in college). Posey’s athleticism would be wasted if he became a full-time first baseman. But moving him off a catcher sooner rather than later is probably in both his and the Giants’ long-term interest. So if Susac can be a regular MLB catcher, then they should seize the opportunity to move Posey in order to maximize his ability to contribute offensively.

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      • Lyle says:

        While I disagree about Susac not being a potential LF, I agree completely that Posey needs to move to 3B, and having Hector Sanchez and Andrew Susac available to catch would be a great scenario.

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      • Adam C says:

        Why does Posey need to moved to third base? He’s never played third base before ever. We can’t just assume he can make the move like it’s not big deal. Does Posey have the hands or the first step quickness to play third base? The fact that Posey was a college shortstop doesn’t really tell us anything. First, Posey was only a shortstop for a short time at FSU and he was a teenager. Second, Posey has put on a lot of size and weight since since he last played SS in college. It’s not a given Posey can just move to third base and do well.

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  13. Ryan says:

    Agreed that Susac is undervalued here and elsewhere. Good walk rate and good ISO. That should play well. Sabes should get inquiries at the meetings.

    To me, most of the pitchers on this list have a ways to go. Let’s see how they do in AA. Even then, remember how well Eric Surkamp and Chris Heston did in the EL, only to look pedestrian afterwards?

    All in all the Giants have one top 50 prospect in Crick, an maybe a fringy top 100 in Escobar. There’s plenty of developmental work to be done in this system.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      Susac could very well be the one ranking I regret the most by mid-2014.

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    • walt526 says:

      The problem is that a high walk rate in the minors doesn’t always translate into a high walk rate in the majors, particularly for a player with only modest power. If he develops into a .240/.330/.400 hitter, then he is a solid hitter for a regular catcher; but if he’s only a .240/.280/.400 hitter, then he’s more of a AAAA catcher (assuming league average defense).

      While the former is possible, something closer to the latter is more likely. But I agree that he is someone to watch. If he continues to walk, then he is one of the Giants top 10 prospects. And if he continues to develop power to go along with a maintained walk rate, then he has a brighter future than any of the Giants current hitting prospects. But for the time being, I think that the cautious optimism about his future is warranted.

      Interestingly, Marc had Susac #9 in his ranking of the Giants prospects in December 2012 (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/san-francisco-giants-top-15-prospects-2012-13/)–despite the fact that Susac had an excellent 2013. That has more to do with the trio of young arms who took major steps forward over the past year (Escobar, Meija, Gregorio).

      In last year’s thread, there’s also a good discussion in the comments about the exclusion of Williamson and Agosta from last year’s Top 15. Basically, both were included in the original list, but that Marc’s organizational contacts were higher on guys like Stephen Johnson and Steve Okert. And now they’re #5 and #6 on the December 2013 list. :)

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      • walt526 says:

        Duh, should have mentioned Agosta as one of the young arms that took a major step forward at the end of the third paragraph in my previous post.

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  14. Colin Dew-Becker says:

    At this point, I’m not sure why Kendry Flores wouldn’t rank in the top five on this list, let alone go completely unmentioned. Flores had an outstanding year with Augusta, arguably the best year of any pitcher in the Giants system not named Kyle Crick. Flores struck out 24.9% of the batters he faced while walking just 3.1% of batters. That worked out to 137 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 141.2 innings, and just FOUR walks over his last 78.2 innings (1.3%). Flores had four games with at least 10 strikeouts, including a 15-strikeout performance in his second-to-last start of the season.

    Flores has a fastball that sits in the low-90s and can touch 95, and has a changeup that could be an above-average pitch. His stuff was good enough to limit batters to just a .216 betting average against him on the season. He wasn’t young for the level, pitching the full year at age 21, but that’s not particularly old either. With his addition to the 40-man roster, there is a chance he could jump straight to AA, but even if he started the year in A+ and finished the year in AA that’d be fine developmentally.

    If his dominance continues in the first month or two of next season, at whatever level he is pitching, he’s going to explode onto the prospect scene.

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    • Shankbone says:

      I really like him as well, but the caution might be wanting to see it at a higher level of competition. He has a good change, and a slurvy breaking ball that might need to tighten up. That could be the other issue. Age wise he and Gregorio bracket recent picks Chase Johnson (who might garner a HM himself) and Nick Vander Tuig (who is a sweet, sweet sleeper). So they’re currently 21 1/2 going into High-A. Age/level guys will be much more hyped up on Crick/Blackburn/Mejia (3 of the 5 youngest in the California league and a slap in the face to the notion that the Giants don’t pay attention to age/level). But Flores was sweet in the Sally, a 216 BAA to go with miniscule walk rates. Mainly, the fastball appears to be ticking up in velocity.

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      • Colin Dew-Becker says:

        He certainly was older and it was just low-A, but he had a season of general dominance that you don’t see too often. Since 2000, there have only been four other pitchers to strike out at least 24.9% of their batters faced and walk no more than 3.1%, while pitching at least 140 innings: Shaun Marcum in 2004, Jeremy Hellickson in 2008, Tommy Milone in 2011, and Robbie Erlin in 2011. All of their situations were different, but that’s a pretty successful list.

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        • Colin Dew-Becker says:

          That should read, “there have only been four other pitchers in the minors…”

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        • Colin Dew-Becker says:

          Actually correction. The maximum walk rate would have to be 3.3% to include Shaun Marcum and Jeremy Hellickson, at 3.1% it’s just Flores, Milone, and Erlin.

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        • Lyle says:

          I agree, Colin. I have Flores in my top 5.

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  15. Marc Hulet says:

    Flores and Chase Johnson were the next two on the list.

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  16. harry says:

    I laugh when an analyst write ” if he is able to throw the ball over the plate he will be an ace.

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