Ranking the SF Giants' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season
While it was a down year for the San Francisco Giants starting pitchers, the same can’t be said for the organization’s promising young arms in the minor leagues.
Their top pitching prospects, right-handers Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn, highlighted one of the best rotations in the minors at High-A San Jose—one that also included up-and-coming left-handers Adalberto Mejia and Ty Blach.
In terms of hitters, well, the Giants’ system is currently devoid of an impact bat. Mac Williamson stands out among the team’s collection of talent for his robust raw power, but there’s legitimate concern as to whether the hit tool will hold up at higher levels. The organization also added a pair of intriguing prospects through the draft in Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones, both whom project as bat-first infielders.
Here’s a look at the rest of the San Francisco Giants’ top 10 prospects after the 2013 minor league season.
Those That Missed the Cut
Joe Panik, SS: The Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2011, Panik has fallen apart as he’s moved up the organizational ladder; posted a .680 OPS in 137 games at Double-A this season; ceiling of a utility infielder.
Andrew Susac, C: Susac showcased a solid blend of on-base skills and power this year in his first taste of Double-A, posting an .820 OPS with 12 home runs and a 68/42 K/BB ratio in 84 games; has been on the disabled list since August 3 with a shoulder impingement; injury forced him out of the team’s top 10.
Edwin Escobar, LHP: 21-year-old southpaw opened the season by posting a 2.89 ERA and 92/17 K/BB ratio in 74.2 innings at High-A San Jose; was even more impressive following a midseason promotion to Double-A Richmond with a 2.67 ERA and 54/13 K/BB ratio in 54 innings.
Joan Gregorio, RHP: 6’7” right-hander has easy fastball velocity and swing-and-miss slider; 21-year-old posted a 4.00 ERA and 84/17 K/BB ratio in 69.2 innings at Low-A Augusta; spent time on the disabled list during second half, logging only seven innings over final two months of the season.
Ryder Jones, 3B: 2013 second-rounder turned in impressive pro debut in the Arizona League, batting .317/.394/.400 with 10 extra-base hits in 37 games.
Gary Brown, OF: Former top prospect continues to tumble; hit tool has steadily deteriorated since 2011 breakout performance in California League; spent entire 2013 season at Triple-A Fresno, batting .231/.286/.375 with 48 extra-base hits (13 home runs), 17 stolen bases and 135/33 K/BB ratio in 137 games.
10. Christian Arroyo, SS
DOB: 5/30/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180
Drafted: First round, 2013 (Hernando HS, Fla.)
Rookie Arizona League: .326/.388/.511, 47 R, 25 XBH (18 2B), 39 RBI, 32/19 K/BB (45 G)
At 6’1”, 180 pounds, Arroyo lacks standout athleticism; below-average runner but still moves with fluidity on the field; right-handed hitter with sneaky pop for his size; strong top hand; employs an up-the-middle approach that allows him to consistently stay inside the ball; present over-the-fence power comes to his pull side; has a tendency to pull open with his front and roll over hittable pitches to the left side of the infield.
Arroyo was a decorated shortstop as an amateur and been developed there since turning pro; lacks ideal quickness and speed necessary for the position; relies on excellent instincts and high baseball IQ; shows solid hands and gets rid of the ball quickly; plus arm strength is suitable for any infield position.
9. Ty Blach, LHP
DOB: 10/20/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 200
Drafted: Fifth round, 2012 (Creighton)
High-A: 130.1 IP, 2.90 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .248 BAA, 117/18 K/BB (22 G/20 GS)
6’1”, 200-pound left-hander lacks physical projection; plus command profile with excellent present feel for pitching; fastball can flash plus velocity but mostly sits in the low 90s with late sinking action; knows how to spot the pitch throughout the strike zone; breaking ball is fringy with a generic slurvy shape; changeup has above-average potential and serves as his go-to secondary offering; sells the pitch with an ideal, fastball-like arm action; future backend starter if his command survives Double- and Triple-A.
8. Heath Hembree, RHP
DOB: 1/13/1989 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2010 (College of Charleston)
Triple-A: 31 SV, 55.1 IP, 4.07 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .248 BAA, 63/16 K/BB (54 G)
MLB: 4 IP, H, 2 BB, 5 K (4 G)
Projects to be a late-inning reliever at big-league level with a power frame and easy low- to mid-90s fastball; relied on ability to blow heater by hitters up in the zone in the past but focused on improving his command this season; slider flashes plus potential with late, tight break that generates swing-and-misses; his changeup is nothing to write home about and may not even be necessary; off to a nice start with Giants as a September call-up and figures to have a role in the team’s 2014 bullpen.
7. Martin Agosta, RHP
DOB: 4/7/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012 (St. Mary’s)
Low-A: 91.2 IP, 2.06 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .180 BAA, 109/43 K/BB (18 GS)
Fastball is effective in low 90s and down in the zone; will manipulate the pitch to generate either cut and sink; can reach back for a few extra ticks when necessary; made strides developing his slider this season, which flashes average potential; demonstrates a great feel a plus changeup, throwing it with outstanding arm speed and late fading action; overall command is fringy and will need refinement moving forward.
Projection as a starting pitcher is dependent upon ability to flood the strike zone and command of entire arsenal; arsenal gives him a more realistic chance of reaching his ceiling as a reliever; has passed all tests as a starter; candidate to bypass the California League and jump directly to Double-A next season.
6. Gustavo Cabrera, OF
DOB: 1/23/1996 (Age: 17)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190
Signed: July 2012 (Dominican Republic)
Dominican Summer League (DSL): .247/.379/.360, 13 XBH, 21 SB, 54/30 K/BB (54 G)
Cabrera is already the best athlete in the Giants’ system; physically mature 6’2”, 190-pound frame with plenty of room to add strength; loudest tool is plus-plus speed; capable of playing center field but more intriguing as a corner outfielder given power potential; inconsistent mechanics and long swing; often fails to keep balance before completing swing; barrel takes a long path to the ball and will need to be cleaned up before stateside debut; impressive plus bat speed; showcased some over-the-fence pop during final month in DSL; will need a long time to develop, but the upside is huge.
5. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
DOB: 6/20/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195
Signed: March 2011 (Dominican Republic)
High-A/Triple-A: 92 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .229 BAA, 91/25 K/BB (17 GS)
6’3” left-hander has grown into his lanky frame over the last year; uses his height and extension toward the plate to work on a consistent downhill plane; demonstrates a present feel for working down in the zone with entire arsenal; fastball sits in the low 90s with life, and he showed the ability to reach back for 93-94 more often this season; secondary arsenal steadily improved against advanced competition; changeup is slightly more advanced than his slider, but both have the potential to be at least average at maturity.
4. Mac Williamson, OF
DOB: 7/15/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 240
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Wake Forest)
High-A: .292/.375/.504, 94 R, 58 XBH (25 HR), 89 RBI, 10 SB, 132/51 K/BB (136 G)
Physical specimen at 6’5”, 240 pounds; doesn’t involve much projection; right-handed hitter with plus-plus raw power; lacks elite bat speed; hands can be somewhat dead with a slow trigger; long-ish swing may be exploited in Double-A; doesn’t consistently pick up the spin on breaking balls; susceptible to quality sequencing; surprisingly good athlete for his size; average speed plays better in the outfield than on the basepaths; plus arm strength ideal for right field.
3. Chris Stratton, RHP
DOB: 8/22/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 186
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Mississippi State)
Low-A: 132 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .258 BAA, 123/47 K/BB (22 GS)
6’3”, 196-pound right-hander has a projectable frame; present feel for sequencing pitches; effectively changes hitters’ eye levels; fastball registers in the low-90s with late, arm-side life; occasionally scrapes mid-90s; slider is a legitimate plus pitch; can throw it for a strike as well as bury it for swing-and-misses; command of the pitch was sharper this past season; mixes in an average changeup and curveball to complete a mature four-pitch mix; above-average command profile should help him move quickly in 2014.
2. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
DOB: 1/6/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 220
Drafted/Signed: 16th round, 2011 (Edmond Santa Fe HS, Okla.)
High-A: 133 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .224 BAA, 138/35 K/BB (23 GS)
6’3”, 220-pound right-hander has physical, durable frame build for innings; current size involves little projection; command of four pitches is highly advanced for his age; demonstrates polish and pitchability beyond his years; pounds the strike zone with each offering; generates as many ground balls as he does swing-and-misses.
Works from high three-quarters arm slot; plus fastball sits 91-93 mph with late, arm-side life; maintains velocity deep into starts; demonstrates command two-seamer to both sides of the plate; curveball has good pace and downer action and should grade as above-average at maturity; made big strides in development of his changeup this season, which should be another above-average or better pitch; also mixes in a slider that lags behind his other offerings.
1. Kyle Crick, RHP
DOB: 11/30/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 220
Drafted: First round, 2011 (Sherman HS, Texas)
High-A: 68.2 IP, 1.57 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .201 BAA, 95/39 K/BB (14 GS)
Possesses highly projectable frame at 6’4”, 220 pounds; strong core and lower half; struggles to maintain posture at times, cause his arm to drag slightly; effortless fastball velocity in the 93-96 range; bumps 97-98 mph; showed improved command of the pitch this season; establishes early in games; changeup is a second plus pitch; excellent arm speed and velocity separation relative to fastball; plus movement with considerable arm-side fade.
Curveball is still a work-in-progress but flashes plus potential when he’s on; impressive shape and pace but shoddy command; struggles to get on top of pitch rather and will frequently come around the side; slider has late bite and should serve as a viable fourth pitch at maturity; aggressively attacks hitters and maintains consistent approach even when command is shaky; feel for sequencing should improve against more advanced hitters.