San Francisco Giants Top 15 Prospects (2012-2013)

The Giants organization possesses some strong prospects at the top of the list, as well as solid pitching depth. But the overall depth in the system is somewhat thin. It’s not a result of poor drafting or inept talent evaluation – it’s actually the complete opposite. The organization has wisely leveraged its assets to acquire key playoff contributors, such as Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, and Marco Scutaro. It has also seen key prospects, such as Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Brandon Belt, zoom through the minors and fill holes on the big league roster. It’s easy to see why this club has won the World Series in two of the past three seasons.

 

#1 Kyle Crick (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
19 23 22 111.1 75 1 10.35 5.42 2.51 3.15

Opening Day Age: 20
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2011 draft (49th overall) 
Projected 2013 Level: A+/AA

Crick has quickly become the Giants’ best prospect after being selected 49th overall during the 2011 draft out of a Texas high school. Crick, 20, has a strong pitcher’s frame and the velocity to match. He struck out 128 batters in 111.1 innings at the A-ball level in 2012.

A scout I spoke with said the right-hander is definitely a potential front-line starter with premium power, as well as a potentially-plus cutter/slider. “He’s a great athlete for a big guy… and you can’t teach that kind of velocity,” he said. “His delivery is pretty easy and the ball really jumps out of his hand… The fastball is on top of them [before they know it].” Crick also a solid downward plane on his pitches, which results in poor contact, and he also has some deception.

On the down side, the scout said Crick tries to be too fine at times and needs to trust his stuff more. “He is really, really hard to hit,” he said.”He tries to make the perfect pitch but he doesn’t need to. His stuff is more than good enough.” Crick should open 2013 in high-A ball but could easily reach double-A by the end of the year and could see the majors by the end of 2014.

 

#2 Clayton Blackburn (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
19 22 22 131.1 116 3 9.80 1.23 2.54 1.91

Opening Day Age: 20
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2011 draft (16th round)
Projected 2013 Level: A+/AA

Blackburn, who played high school ball in Oklahoma, represents a perfect example of the value of good scouting. A 16th round draft pick, the right-hander has quickly become one of the most promising arms in the system. He sits atop the Giants system along with fellow pitching prospect Kyle Crick but as one scout pointed out, they’re quite different in their approaches when it comes to power versus pitchability. “They do it extremely differently but they’re very good for each other… They now understand that there are other ways to [pitch successfully].” Blackburn spent the entire 2012 regular season in A-ball at the age of 19, showing impressive control with just 19 walks in 131.1 innings of work. As one contact stated, “He will make you hit his pitch.”

Blackburn also struck out 143 batters and produced well-above-average ground ball rates. He possesses a four-pitch mix with above-average control and solid command. He also features a potentially-plus curveball, slider and changeup. Another contact stated, “[Blackburn] has a good feel for pitching.” He has solid-average velocity on his fastball that touches 93 mph but possesses good movement, which helps him induce ground balls. Blackburn also has a curveball, slider, and changeup. He has an easy delivery but a bit of a funky arm action at times. He has a big, strong frame that should be capable of providing tons of innings but he’s going to have to keep an eye on his conditioning.

The pitching prospect should move up to high-A ball to open the 2013 regular season but could easily reach double-A before the end of the year. I personally saw Blackburn make a one-game, post-season start at the high-A level for San Jose last September and he struck out nine batters with just three hits allowed in 7.0 innings of work. He has the ceiling of an innings-eating No. 3 starter.

 

#3 Chris Stratton (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
21 8 5 16.1 14 1 8.82 5.51 2.76 4.24

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: SS
Acquired: 2012 draft (20th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: A+

Taken 20th overall in the 2012 draft, Stratton has a four-pitch mix that could help him develop into a solid No. 3 starter at the big league level. His fastball sits in the 90-95 mph range and his second best pitch is his slider, followed by his curveball and nascent changeup. He needs to make sure that he keeps a good angle on the ball and works down in the zone. Stratton isn’t flashy but as one talent evaluator put it, “He has a good feel on the mound. He pitches aggressively and can get a strikeout when he needs it.”

The Mississippi State alum appeared in eight games after turning pro and did not allow a run in his final five appearances, although he was 22 playing in short-season ball. Stratton’s season ended when he was hit in the head by a line drive and suffered a concussion. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training and could open up the year in high-A ball along with fellow pitching prospects Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn. Stratton has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter who should move swiftly through the minors as long as the injury issues are behind him.

 

#4 Gary Brown (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 680 170 34 7 45 101 35 .282 .348 .384 .336

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: AA
Acquired: 2010 draft (24th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: AAA/MLB

The Giants’ top pick from the 2010 draft, Brown has not developed quite as quickly as hoped. After an above-average offensive season in the California League in 2011, the speedster came back down to earth this past season as his wRC+ dropped from 138 to 104. His base running also took a step backward and he was caught 18 times in 51 attempts. After the season ended, the prospect headed to the Arizona Fall League where he hit .313 in 17 games but continued to struggle stealing bases.

Brown has just enough gap power in his swing — thanks to above-average bat speed and strong wrists — to mess with his head. He needs to focus more on developing his small ball skills to take advantage of his greatest offensive tool — his speed. Despite his struggles, a contact I spoke with said Brown is very talented, “He has the ability to be very good both offensively and defensively.” The center-field prospect is raw for a college product but the contact was not worried about his development. “He has plus make-up plus the wherewithal to take those tools and turn them into skills.” On the plus side, Brown is a very good defender and shows plus range with a solid-average arm.

He should open 2013 in triple-A and he could receive an offensive boost from the Pacific Coast League, similar to the impact he saw while playing in the Cal League. Projections on Brown are mixed, ranging anywhere from fourth outfielder to all-star. I personally see him becoming a second-division regular who fails to fully develop his tool set.

 

#5 Heath Hembree (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
23 52 0 51.0 37 3 9.35 4.24 4.06 3.53

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: AAA
Acquired: 2010 draft (5th round)
Projected 2013 Level: AAA/MLB

Hembree, 23, has quietly developed into one of the best high-leverage relief prospects in the game. A contact stated, “He’s thrown the ball well every year… and he’s moved quickly.” The big, strong durable right-hander has the make-up to succeed in a high-stress role and he pumps in mid-90s fastballs and shows easy velocity. He also features a potentially-plus slider and fringe changeup.

Hembree spent the 2012 season in triple-A but pitched just 38 innings in 39 appearances. It’s a curious limitation because the lack of work will not help him iron out the control issues that he has (4.74 BB/9). On the plus side, he was assigned to the Arizona Fall League and made another nine appearances and struck out 12 batters in nine innings. The former fifth round draft pick out of the College of Charleston and is close to MLB ready after just three minor league seasons. Hembree will likely return to triple-A to begin 2013 but could be one of the first pitchers recalled in the event of an injury in the bullpen

 

#6 Mike Kickham (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
23 28 27 150.2 119 8 8.18 4.48 3.05 3.60

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: AA
Acquired: 2010 draft (6th round)
Projected 2013 Level:  AAA/MLB

Kickham doesn’t have quite the same fastball velocity that fellow southpaw Josh Osich has but it still touches 94 mph and he has a chance to stick in the starting rotation. He also has better secondary stuff: a plus slider, average curveball and developing changeup. Kickham has a strong pitcher’s frame and pitched 150 innings in 2012 but he’s battled blister issues in the past.

The lefty spent all of 2012 in double-A when he produced very impressive numbers, including a strikeout rate of 8.18 K/9 and an above-average ground-ball rate. He should open 2013 in triple-A. With San Francisco’s pitching depth, Kickham’s big league hopes likely hinge on an injury to the big league staff and he could possibly make his debut out of the bullpen. He has the ceiling of a No. 4 starter.

 

#7 Josh Osich (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
23 27 2 32.1 34 1 9.46 3.06 3.62 2.52

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: A+
Acquired: 2011 draft (6th round)
Projected 2013 Level: AA

Osich is a hard-throwing southpaw that can reach 95-96 mph. I see Osich’s floor as being a good situational lefty who, as a talent evaluator aptly stated when asked about the prospect, “can blow away a good left-handed hitter.” His ceiling, though, is a high-leverage big league reliever if he can develop his secondary pitches – a slider and changeup – both of which currently project as average offerings.

Osich was slowed by an oblique injury in 2012 and that has been the story of both his pro and amateur career while on the mound. He had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and came out of a key game shortly before the 2011 draft due to elbow issues. He spent last season pitching in California League, surviving the hostile offensive environment despite his fly-ball tendencies. He showed solid control but still needs to work on his fastball command. He should move up to double-A in 2013 and will look to stay healthy. He could reach the majors in 2014.

 

#8 Joe Panik (SS)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 693 175 27 8 68 61 14 .285 .359 .385 .339

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: A+
Acquired: 2011 draft (29th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: AA

Panik, 22, enjoyed a solid offensive season thanks to the California League. He hit for average and controlled the strike zone well, walking more than he struck out. Because he handles the bat so successfully, the former first round draft pick could develop into a solid No. 2 hitter. A scout I spoke with about the prospect also suggested that he should be somewhat resistant to slumps. “There may be players with more raw bat speed and strength but Joe is and always has been tremendously cerebral in his approach,” he said. “When you hit that way, you’ll never go into a prolonged slump.”

Defensively, the talent evaluator I spoke with felt that Panik can play shortstop at the big league level, although others have questioned both his range and arm. “From a technical standpoint, I think Joe can be a solid, everyday shortstop at the major league level,” he said. “Joe always just knew how to play. He has instincts and actions, knows his position and has first step quickness laterally. “

The scout suggested 2013 will be a big season for Panik as he heads to double-A “I really think this upcoming year in the most important, to date, in Joe’s career. Anyone who has played professionally and most scouts will tell you that the jump from A to double-A is the most difficult a player will face… Now, however, he may be confronted with some form of failure for the first time. The players who brush that off and learn from it are the ones who keep progressing.”

 

#9 Andrew Susac (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 426 88 16 9 55 100 1 .244 .351 .380 .334

Opening Day Age: 23
2012 Level: A+
Acquired: 2011 draft (2nd round)
Projected 2013 Level: A+/AA

Although his 2012 numbers might have you thinking otherwise, Susac is an offensive-minded catching prospect with the potential to develop average defensive skills. He shows good gap power to all fields and has pull home run power. He hit just nine homers last year but suffered a broken hamate bone in his junior year of college so it’s possible the injury continued to hamper him at least earlier in the year.

A contact also stated that Susac’s development may have been stunted by the large leap from college to high-A ball, as well as his defensive responsibilities. “I think it weighed on him a bit… He had to develop two big skills. I think, mentally, catchers get fatigued.” Because he swings and misses a lot, Susac may never hit for a high average in the majors but he shows enough potential to project as an everyday player.

A strong spring could push the California native to double-A but he might be well-served by repeating high-A ball for the first month or two in an effort to build up his confidence, while also working to tighten up his approach. Susac could be ready for the majors in late 2014. With Buster Posey ahead of him, there is plenty of time to let him develop at his own pace, or to use him as trade bait.

 

#10 Francisco Peguero (OF)


Age PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld WAR
24 16 0 3 .188 .188 .188 .166 -1 4.6 0.4

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: AAA/MLB
Acquired: 2005 international FA
Projected 2013 Level: AAA/MLB

Peguero is another solid international signing but he hasn’t exactly been a quick mover. Originally signed way back in 2005, the outfielder is entering his eighth pro season and reached triple-A and the majors for the first time in 2012. Although he’s always hit for average, it’s taken time for the prospect to iron out the other aspects of his game. He’s also battled injuries and as one contact put it, “I think this is the first time he’ll be 100% healthy [opening the year].”

Power is not a big part of Peguero’s game but that same contact said he possesses the best bat speed in the organization. It helps him compensate for an aggressive approach at the plate that also includes poor pitch selection. Although Peguero may never possess more than average offensive production, he’s a plus defender with a plus arm that profiles well in right field.

He also has the range necessary to play center field, at least on a part-time basis. He has the ability to steal a few bases but he’s got a slow first step. The re-signing of Angel Pagan almost certainly assures that Peguero will open 2013 back in triple-A, although a strong spring could force the organization to consider him as a complement to the left-handed hitting Gregor Blanco.

 

#11 Edwin Escobar (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
20 22 22 130.2 122 7 8.40 2.20 3.03 2.92

Opening Day Age: 20
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2010 Trade (Texas Rangers)
Projected 2013 Level: A+

Escobar was acquired from the Texas Rangers in a rather under-the-radar trade back in early 2010 for then-fringe-pitching-prospect Ben Snyder. Although he originally signed in 2008, the southpaw did not reach full season ball until this past year and he had a successful season. Not overly physical, Escobar saw his innings total jump from 52.0 in 2011 to 130.2 in 2012 so that bears watching going forward – although he has yet to suffer a serious injury of note.

Although he works in the 88-92 mph range, I had a contact advise me that the Venezuela native was clocked up to 94 mph in 2012. Escobar also features a curveball and changeup, both of which show potential. He shows solid control for his age and improving command but the big question for him will be his ability to get tough right-handed hitters out.

If he cannot develop a reliable out-pitch, Escobar will probably end up in the bullpen but he has the chance to become a No. 3 or 4 starter. He’ll move up to high-A ball in 2013 and, if he has another successful year, will have to be added to the 40-man roster after the season.

 

#12 Adalberto Mejia (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
19 30 14 106.2 122 4 6.67 1.77 3.97 2.91

Opening Day Age: 19
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2010 international FA
Projected 2013 Level: A+

The Giants have spent some serious coin on international free agents in the past but Mejia is one of San Francisco’s better, under-the-radar Latin signees. Still just 19, a contact I spoke with was impressed wit the young pitcher. He said Mejia already sits 88-92 mph with his fastball and could eventually hit the mid-90s. He also shows two promising secondary pitches is a changeup and curveball. “He’s going to have a major league curveball,” the contact said. Mejia also has above-average control for his age (21 walks in 106.2IP) and also has a good understanding of what he needs to do on the mound.

The left-handed Dominican native spent 2012 in A-ball and had a fairly successful first season in full-season ball. He’s still working to polish the command of his fastball, which is why his strikeout numbers have been modest. After working out of the bullpen early in 2012, Mejia should move up to high-A ball in 2013 and work exclusively out of the starting rotation. He should expect to see his innings total increase to the 130 range, if healthy. He won’t turn 20 until part way through the season so there is no need to rush Mejia – especially with the pitching depth ahead of him. The San Jose staff could be absolutely stacked this year with the likes of Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Chris Stratton, Edwin Escobar, and Mejia.

 

#13 Ehire Adrianza (SS)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 512 99 22 3 41 90 16 .220 .289 .310 .276

Opening Day Age: 23
2012 Level: AA
Acquired: 2006 international FA
Projected 2013 Level: AA/AAA

Although his bat has yet to develop, Adrianza continues to hang around the Top 15 list because of the lack of up-the-middle player depth in the system and his plus defensive skills. The gifted fielder hit just .220 with a miserable 64 wRC+ in double-A in 2012. Even with an 8% walk rate, the prospect managed an on-base percentage of just .289. Adrianza, 23, will very likely never hit enough to play everyday but he should be a solid defense-first utility infielder – and those with the ability to flash a true above-average glove at shortstop are difficult to come by.

The San Francisco organization remains hopeful in the prospect because he’s a switch-hitter and it has taken a fair bit of time for him to add strength to his slender frame. The Venezuela native has yet to play a regular season professional game at any other position than shortstop but it might be in the organization’s best interest to start moving him around the diamond in an effort to prepare him for his future role off the bench. Adrianza will likely head back to double-A to open 2013 but he could reach the majors at some point during the season if/when injuries strike.

 

#14 Roger Kieschnick (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
25 263 69 14 15 24 73 0 .295 .361 .581 .398

Opening Day Age: 26
2012 Level: AAA
Acquired: 2008 draft (3rd round)
Projected 2013 Level: AAA/MLB

Kieschnick has value as a left-handed power hitting prospect but he’ll likely end up coming off the bench or working as the busier half of a platoon at an outfield corner spot. I was told that he was close to receiving a call-up to the eventual World Series champions but got hurt and appeared in just 55 games. “He was having a monster year before he banged into a fence,” the contact stated. Kieschnick has worked to make up for lost time this off-season by playing in the Dominican Winter League.

As mentioned, Kieschnick’s best tool is his left-handed power and he should hit for a respectable average if handled appropriately. He has a chance to be a decent corner outfielder and has a solid-average arm for right field. Kieschnick, 25, doesn’t have a clear opening for a big league role in 2013 so he’ll likely head back down to triple-A to continue to work on tightening up his strike zone control.

 

#15 Adam Duvall (3B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 598 137 24 30 47 116 8 .257 .325 .485 .349

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: A+
Acquired: 2010 draft (11th round)
Projected 2013 Level: AA

Duvall had one of the best power-hitting performances of 2012 in the potent California League. He led the division in home runs (30) and was in the Top 10 in isolated slugging rate. The slugger could stand to incorporate his lower half more into his swing, which could actually help him tap into even more consistent power. He currently utilizes bat speed and strong forearms/wrists to muscle the ball out.

The infielder has played third base in the minors but there is doubt about his ability to stick at the hot corner. His range is below-average and he makes too many throwing errors, although he flashes a strong arm. A contact I spoke to felt Duvall could stick at the position because his issues are mechanical and correctable. Despite that opinion, I feel his future is likely at first base, although his arm will be wasted there.

Duvall was a little old for the league and will face a stiff test when he moves up to the double-A Eastern League; the league is much tougher on power hitters with only four batters hit more than 20 dingers in 2012. This could force Duvall to either improve upon other aspects of his game or wash out.




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


72 Responses to “San Francisco Giants Top 15 Prospects (2012-2013)”

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  1. Nate says:

    How was Beltran a playoff contributor? He played well for them, but they finished 8 games out that year.

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  2. Clifford says:

    No Chris Heston? I understand he’s somewhat of a Michael Fiers-esque prospect type, but the guy has dominated for 2 straight years now. Yes, he is already 24, but in 2011, he went 12-4, 3.16 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 131/40 K/BB, and then again in 2012, he went 9-8, 2.24 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 135/40 K/BB….did he get any consideration at all?

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      Heston is No. 16… He was on the list as recently as two days ago before I had a change of heart.

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    • Roger says:

      I sat near a scout at a Richmond game that Heston started this year, and he was nice enough to talk to me a bit during a rain delay. When I asked what he thought about Heston’s chances in the big leagues he told me “Heston really knows what he’s doing out there, but his margin for error is pretty slim.” I think in the end his future is going to be middle relief/setup, but if things break right I can see a back of the rotation starter as well, though probably not first division.

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  3. Bhaakon says:

    What is the dope on Brett Bochy? You don’t really expect nepotism picks to light up the box score, but it’s hard to argue with a 11/3 K/BB ratio (well, nepotism pick might be a little harsh, the 20th round isn’t exactly the 40th, but it isn’t where you’d normally take a guy who you think has the goods either).

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    • Big Six says:

      Well Bochy was good in college closing for the Jayhawks, but was recovering from TJ during the draft I believe, which dropped his stock considerably. Bruce undoubtedly stumped for his kid to the front office, and with him still on the board in the 20th round it seems like it was a sensible time for a lottery ticket of sorts, if one who is somewhat old relative to his league.

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    • Roger says:

      Bochy is mostly a command and deception guy at this point. I saw him three times this year and he was working in the 87-88 mph range with his fastball. According to Richmond’s play by play guy, teammates referred to Bochy’s fb as the “invisi-ball” because opposing hitters had such a hard time picking it up. Something like a Chris Young fastball I guess, though it remains to be seen if he’ll have as much success with big league hitters.

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  4. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Nice write up. The Giants system has improved a lot with the emergence of the young pitching prospects. It’s still a little light at the very top, which is where rankings come from, but I think depth is a strength rather than the weakness you mention in the preamble.

    I have 3 quibbles: 1. It seems to me that your own write up shows Mejia to be a far better prospect than Escobar. Personally I would put Mejia up to #6 ahead of Kickham, but definitely ahead of Osich. 2. I would put Ricky Oropesa in the top 15, but admit I’m biased as I work with his mom. 3. I would put Panik above Kickham.

    I always advise my readers to not get too hung up on the exact order of these rankings, though. The main benefit is to become more familiar with the prospects in an organization and get a feel for which ones we may be seeing in major league stadiums in the future. So, the above are just quibbles.

    Thanks for a well researched write up. I know the Giants farm system well, and yet I learned several things from reading this.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      Mejia was a tough player to rank. I ended up favoring the more advanced arms, as people I spoke to used the term “projectable” with Mejia, so I erred on the side of caution.

      I considered Oropesa in the same group as Kieschnick, and Duvall but went with Duvall because of the positional value (if he can stick) and with Kieschnick based on what I heard from some people “in the know.”

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    • Roger says:

      Hi Dr B! I agree with most of what you say, though I would still have Escobar slightly ahead of Mejia and both at the back end of the 10s/front end of teens. And I disagree with your notion that this is a deep system right now. I think it’s a bit light on both impact and depth personally, although a year from now could change the impact part of that equation. But all in all there’s way too much filler in the org (particularly with position players) to call it deep.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Hey, you must be Roger The Curmudgeon from MCC? Well, if you would rank Escobar above Mejia and have both of them down in 10′s/teens, I would consider that a deep system right there as I would most definitely not consider Mejia organizational filler.

        I agree the organization has shifted back to a pitching heavy balance, but that’s always been how they roll with a great deal of success.

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      • Roger says:

        I didn’t say Mejia was org filler, Doc. He’s an interesting arm. Like to see him miss some bats, but hopefully that projectibility will kick in. But put him in Texas’ system or a few other particularly deep ones and he has trouble making the back end of the top 30, and I don’t know that he’s the 10th best SP prospect in their depth chart. He certainly isn’t in the top 10 of SP depth chart in Arizona (even today). Putting Mejia at 11 or so is the prime example of why I think the system isn’t deep.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I totally disagree that Mejia would be a #30 prospect in any other system.

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  5. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Great to see the Giants have so many good pitching prospects.

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  6. Bill says:

    The reason Hembree was limited was due to elbow issues that got to the point of shutting him down. He couldn’t pitch on back to back days. Big concern.

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  7. Bryce says:

    Is Eric Surkamp still around anyone know?

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    • harperhill says:

      He may yet make the team in 2013, but I don’t think he’s still considered a “prospect.”

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I was never impressed with Surkamps scouting reports and always ranked him lower than a lot of people who were impressed by his strikeout totals at lower levels. Then I saw him make a start in 2012 spring training and came away impressed. Depending on how he recovers from TJ, I think he can be a starter in the majors.

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    • Lefty says:

      Surkamp had Tommy John surgery in July after developing a sore arm during spring training. He didn’t throw a pitch during the 2012 season.

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    • Naveed says:

      He had midseason Tommy John. It’ll be a while before he comes back.

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    • Big Six says:

      He is recovering from elbow surgery, and probably won’t be pitching until the end of 2013 at the earliest, which is disappointing. By that point, Kickham and/or Heston may have passed him on the depth chart.

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  8. SF 55 for life says:

    Martin Agosta needs to be included on this list. You may be holding him back because he was just drafted this past summer but he has considerable upside.

    The one name I don’t agree with is Ehire Adrianza. While I don’t believe its time to give up it clearly is time to temper our expectations of him. He looks like another Emmanuel Burriss with better defense right now. True, that does have some value but to put him ahead of guys like Heston and especially Agosta who have legitimate chances of being pieces of a major league rotation seems wrong to me.

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    • Roger says:

      Legitimate major league fielding SS are at a tremendous scarcity in the industry, though. Back end rotation/bullpen arms can be found much easier. That validates the Adrianza ranking I think even though his bat has been abysmal. Maybe not quite Iglesias level of abysmal but close, though that makes a point in and of itself.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      The contacts in the actual organization that I spoke with favored Adrianza and were hesitant to push Agosta too aggressively, which is why he was left off after originally appearing on my tentative list.

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    • Roger says:

      I agree with this statement!

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      I know who Williamson is… and he has a FanGraphs player page too. He was another player who appeared on a version of the original list that did not make it after speaking with the people that I did. Honestly, hard-throwing arms like Stephen Johnson and Steven Okert got more love than Williamson and Agosta.

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  9. Near says:

    In the Brian Sabean era, San Francisco has been unable to produce a single starting (+2 WAR) outfielder. Not even a star, a STARTING outfielder. The closest they came was Nate Schierholtz, who was actually a converted third basemen. With two corner outfield spots at every level of the minors, that must be hard to do.

    I’m surprised to see three OF prospects even ranked in the top #15.

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    • Clifford says:

      A.) I dont really think past development of a specific position really has anything to do with present day rankings. while they havent developed any OF, they have developed some ok hitters. you know, Buster Posey, Panda, Brandon Belt, etc.

      B.) In relation to A.), performance of past OF should have no bearing on the evaluation of present-day OF prospects. the two are seperate entities.

      C.) Despite pitching being obviously different than position player development, id say the Giants are doing something right when you consider Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Co.

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    • I think the more important point is that the Giants have developed great starting pitchers like Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, plus Dirty, and bullpen closers like Wilson and Romo. Plus picked up good pitchers like Vogelsong, Casilla, and Kontos for little cost.

      This focus on one position is nit-picking because if you apply this to every GM in history, probably 99.999999% of them did not develop 2+ WAR players at any particularly position.

      In any case, research by BP and THT research showed that it is pitching (and fielding) that wins championships, that lead to deep runs in the playoffs. So I don’t really care that Sabean has never developed a 2+ WAR outfielder (and if Brown continues to develop, he should make that statement false in a couple of years).

      What a Giants fan should care about is that he has built up a superlative pitching rotation of home grown starters that is the envy of the majors and coupled that with shut-down closers and strong defensive teams. That is the formula, per BP research, that has ended up with World Championships.

      Both BP and THT research found that offense had negligible effect on a team’s capability to go deep and to win it all. So worrying about the lack of 2+ WAR OF is like worrying about your car’s lack of an air freshener when the engine is missing.

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      • JManuola says:

        Vogelsong actually came up in the Giants’ organization, I do believe.

        In response to the original complaint by Near, the Giants organization has focused primarily on developing pitching in their farm system for two reasons: 1) Pitching and Defense wins championships (as 2010 and 2012 showed) and 2) Pitching depth is more valuable than hitting depth in the trade market. That’s not to say that Sabean has always used those trade chips well, but he’s had his fair share of successes.

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      • Near says:

        >performance of past OF should have no bearing on the evaluation of present-day OF prospects. the two are seperate entities.
        >This focus on one position is nit-picking because if you apply this to every GM in history, probably 99.999999% of them did not develop 2+ WAR players at any particularly position.

        The key distinction between Sabean and other GMs is that Sabean is the longest tenured GM in baseball, and so has had more opportunity to fashion his minor league system than most GMs. His draft style makes it unsurprising that he’s developed several major league caliber pitchers – he employs good talent evaluation and coaching at all levels of the minor leagues, drafts pitchers earlier in rounds where he’s more likely to get good talent, and has the luxury of starting a different pitcher every day in each of his farm teams. Given all that insurance, it’s extremely UNLIKELY he’d fail to develop a quality pitcher. What is surprising is that the pitchers the Giants promote are consistently above average at worst, yet all have superstar upside.

        Here at Fangraphs, we use historical performance to predict future performance for players. Why can’t that be applied to organizations, especially organizations with as relatively little personnel turnover as San Francisco? For that reason, I find the Giants an interesting system to discuss, along with the White Sox and Tigers.

        Success in some areas doesn’t excuse weakness in others. I can believe than San Francisco, drafting pitchers so early at the expense of position players, may have less talent to work with in their outfielders. But with fifteen years worth of data, with two corner outfield positions and one center fielder in each farm team, I have no choice but to identify that lacking as an organizational weakness. Corner outfield isn’t even a premium position, which makes the dearth of Giant outfielders all the more interesting. I would view any Giants OF prospect with extreme skepticism.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Near,

        Brian Sabean brought John Barr over from the Dodgers and made him is scouting director prior to the 2008 draft specifically because of his expertise in evaluating hitters. Barr’s first #1? Buster Posey! Wheeler came next but then Gary Brown and Joe Panik followed after that. The jury is still out on Brown and Panik but Barr hit a HR with Posey.

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    • JohnDM says:

      They have done very well despite not having developed a corner outfielder.

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    • Shankbone says:

      First they came for Genovese’s boys, and I said nothing. Gone were Maddux, Matthews, Bonds, Kingman, Clark and Davis. Then they came for Bonds boy, and Tom Haller let him go over a measly 5K, and I said nothing. Then Peter the Pink decided to snip snip where it wouldn’t be noticed, and Genovese was gone, and it was time. That final act awoke the Baseball Gods. No outfielders for you, Gigantes!

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  10. ataltman says:

    Mr. Hulet do you think the 4 and 40 given to Pagan is any indication about how the Giants feel about Gary Brown and his ability to be the everyday player?

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    • Brian says:

      I think it’s more an indication that Brown won’t be ready for next season. The Giants were hoping Pagan would be a stopgap for when Brown takes over in 2013. But when Brown struggled this past season, they needed a quality centerfielder for at least this next season. And since quality centerfielders don’t normally come on 1 year deals, you have the 4/40 deal for Pagan.

      However, Pagan isn’t much of a roadblock for Brown. Since the Giants don’t have any major commitments in the outfield outside of Pagan beyond 2013, he can be moved over to a corner spot when Brown’s ready.

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      • Roger says:

        Interesting compare and contrast. In talking to the Giants beat reporters last month Sabean said Brown had a lot of baseball to learn and he wouldn’t be concerned with signing a vet to a long term deal that appeared to block Brown. Last night on MLB network Cincinnati’s Asst. GM when asked about Billy Hamilton’s development said, “well we won’t be signing any CF to 4 year deals, let me put it that way.”

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      Giants are in full win-now mode and definitely don’t make many decisions on what prospects might or might not do…

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  11. Gianator says:

    Omissions – Mac Williamson, he’s borderline top 10 for me. Agosta as stated above.

    Hembree drops out of the top 10 with his arm concerns. I would have Escobar in the 5-7 range.

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    • Roger says:

      I agree about Williamson. He’s going to be aroudn 10 for me. I watched quite a few SK games on MiLB tv last year and he has some crazy power with a very very easy swing. Very nice base and really leverages his long arms. Rep from college was that he had Kieschnick-esque contact issues, but at least in his first pro test they weren’t too bad. The Cal league will be a nice test for him. Kieschnick K’d 23% of the time in SJ at a similar age. We’ll see how Mac measures up.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      As I mentioned above, Williamson did not get as much love from within the organization as in this chat thread… he was described as more of a “sleeper” and he did not have huge pre-draft buzz either. You can’t read too much into half-season, short-season numbers.

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  12. First off, thanks for the nice research on Giants prospects. I learned a lot of interesting things and loved the comments that you included from your contacts.

    I disagree about some of the rankings but my personal opinion is that once you get past the first 5-6 of any farm system, odds are that they won’t really matter in the long-run anyway, unless they reach the top spot in the future, so ranking that deep could result in a lot of quibbling. The true value is the discussion that such a ranking generates.

    First off, I disagree that Panik hasn’t run into some form of failure. He struggled to start off the season in April then ended it with a good run. But I do agree that the jump to AA will be a big test for him.

    Second, I think Mejia should be above Escobar. He struggled initially, probably due to transitioning to full-season league in another country, but if you look at his stats after April, they are better than Escobar’s plus he’s a year younger, age 19 season vs. 20 season for Escobar. And as DrB noted, the description seemed better too.

    Third, obviously, you ranked them higher, but you have Blackburn, Stratton, and Escobar as #3 starters (Escobar 3/4), are they that close in your opinion?

    Fourth, your Crick description has me excited, that was an issue with Cain coming up (and Lincecum a little in the majors), about trusting your stuff and making the hitters hit your pitch, instead of being fine and going with secondary pitches.

    Lastly, excited about the comment about Duvall maybe getting even more power!

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    • JohnDM says:

      I was also concerned about Joe Panik’s performance in the AFL. I am a Panik fan do we attribute this to being tired or lack of abilities?

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  13. hammystyle says:

    This was all very good, and I appreciate the info. However, I was interested in two rankings as compared to last year. Panik you had at #2 last year and were a big fan. Hembree you had at 10 last year, and now he has suffered through arguably his most difficult year.

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  14. chetrick says:

    What happened to Joan Gregorio? He was on fangraph’s top 20 Giants prospect list this time last year, now i can’t find anything on him

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  15. Shankbone says:

    Hey Hulet! Very nice writeup. A gentleman never tells, but I’ll ask anyway: are your contacts a) MLB scouts and front office, b) from established network arena (MLB, ESPN, BA) or c) independent? I’m just a tad curious. Thanks in advance, and no pressure to answer.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      Hi Shankbone, contacts for these lists are scouts and/or front office peeps… and first-hand observation on as many of the players as possible.

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  16. Gigantes15 says:

    Hey Hulet! Thanks very much for the write up and for answering questions as you go on this board. Also thanks to obsessive for his input.

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  17. Shane says:

    Hey mr.Hulet, love the content on here. Have any of your contacts mentioned anything on Eric Sim? Have you ever seen him play? I played with him in high school, so I was wondering if you had any thoughts on him, and if so, what they were. Thank you.

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  18. Paul says:

    Who is Giants 6th starting pitcher if one of the 5 gets injured?

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      That is a big problem. I’m sure they will bring in a couple of minor league FA’s to bide their time in Fresno. As of right now, Eric Hacker would get the emergency start. Then take your pick of Kickham, Heston or Chris Gloor. Kickham has the best stuff and highest ceiling. Heston is probably the most ready to pitch in the majors right now.

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  19. Richard says:

    Where is Angel Villalona?

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  20. Black and Orange Always says:

    Some very nice work, loved inclusion of comments.

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  21. Matt says:

    Why in the world would anyone rely on the analysis of Fangraphs rankings of SF Giants prospects? Aren’t these the very same people that concluded the Giants baseball operation should be ranked TWENTY SEVENTH? Seriously 27th?

    But that’s what happens when those that have never played the game above T-Ball think they can have a true understanding of the game and it’s players from numbers alone.’

    Good day

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  22. xcv says:

    have to take issue with this statement ^^^^^ – with Gary Brown and Panik showing some weaknesses and Susac looking like a dud the 2010 and 2011 drafts would have to be rated well below avg already at this point even taking into acct the lack of high first round drafting position.

    (formatting prob wont work but whatever – would be nice if fangraphs had a preview option and explained better how to use html tags)

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    • xcv says:

      eh, that statement (by Hulett) was:

      “But the overall depth in the system is somewhat thin. It’s not a result of poor drafting or inept talent evaluation – it’s actually the complete opposite.”

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  23. PL says:

    With Crick being #1 as a #49 pick from a supposedly “bad” draft class, is it fair to say that class is more underrated than bad? There’s a ton of 2011 draftees in top 5 prospect lists now.

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  24. sfg756 says:

    why is there no mention anywhere of juan perez? I know he’s 26 but he
    had a very good year in pitching-tough AA and will definitely get a
    look in spring training this year.

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  25. Hunter Pence's thorax says:

    Jesse Foppert is the truth.

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