Blackburn, 19, is having a breakout season in his first full year in the minors. The right-hander has struck out 62 batters in 53.1 while issuing just 10 walks. He’s also induced a high number of ground-ball outs while allowing just one home run. Blackburn has allowed one run in his last three starts (22.1 IP) with 11 hits and two walks allowed. He’s struck out 21.The Texas native has now made 22 appearances over the past two seasons and has yet to truly struggle. Signed to an over-slot contract as a 16th round draft pick in 2011, Blackburn has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter. The Giants organization just continues to find a way to identify and develop top-shelf pitching prospects.
Dickerson has been on fire. The 2011 third round pick out of Indiana University is hitting .421 in his last 10 games and has gone 8-for-11 with five extra base hits in his last two appearances. One really encouraging sign for the left-handed batter is that he’s hitting right-handed and left-handed pitchers equally well (.297 for both). Although he’s had a recent power surge, Dickerson’s power has been below-average for the expectations typically given to first basemen. He has just 17 extra base hits on the year (.431 slugging) but the Florida State League does tend to suppress power numbers. Already 22, Dickerson could reach double-A before the end of the year if he keeps up the hot hitting. He could reach the Majors in 2014 but currently projects to develop into an average big league regular, but not a star player.
Selected 44th overall during the 2011 draft, Fulmer was one of the top prep arms in the draft but he’s been pitching in low-A ball with very little fanfare. He’s had a fairly average season, compiling 38.2 innings in nine starts. The right-hander has been looking better as of late with a significant increase in the number of ground-ball outs he’s been inducing over the past two starts. The trade-off, though, has been an increase in walks. Fulmer is struggling while facing left-handed hitters but has dominated right-handers (.324 vs LHB, .160 vs RHB). He’ll likely stick in low-A for the remainder of the year as he tries to get everything clicking at the same time. Fulmer should move fairly methodically through the system and has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Lotzkar has moved like molasses through the minor leagues despite being taken in the supplemental first round of the 2007 draft. The organization knew it was getting a project in the raw Canadian but injuries have slowed his ascent even more than expected. Healthy in 2012, Lotzkar has exploded and is starting to show the potential that made him a high draft pick. Still just 22, he was added to the 40-man roster this past off-season (a smart move). The right-hander has struck out 65 batters in 59.0 innings combined between single-A and double-A ball. After five starts in high-A (the offense-oriented California League), he was promoted to double-A and has continued to thrive. Lotzkar could become a No. 3 starter.
Sierra is one of Toronto’s lesser known prospects and he’s been in the system since late 2005. He possesses one of the strongest arms in the minors and shows decent, but unspectacular, skills in the outfield. He has enough speed to swipe 10-12 bases a year but he’s a terrible base runner and has a lousy success rate over his career. He hit a career-high 18 home runs in 133 games at double-A last year and has enjoyed the potent Pacific Coast League in 2012, adding another 10 home runs in just 55 games. Sierra is hitting .429 with four homers and 12 RBI in his last 10 games. On the year, his strikeout rate is up about 6% over last year and he looks like a guy that will probably hit .250 to .270 at the big league level. Because he offers a very strong arm in the outfield and some pop, Sierra may develop into a second-division starter, at least for a few years, but he’s probably more of a platoon or bench guy at the big league level.