Stock Up, Stock Down for San Francisco Giants' Top 10 Prospects Entering Week 2
With the 2014 minor league season less than a week old, the same 10 players that topped the San Francisco Giants' top prospects list in the preseason remain on this week's iteration.
There has been some movement in the rankings, however, with many of the team's top pitching prospects impressing in their 2014 debuts, while others were not so impressive.
Here's the updated list and a look at how each player has fared thus far in 2014.
10. Martin Agosta, RHP
Pre-season rank: 10
Agosta has been placed on the seven-day disabled list for the High-A San Jose Giants to start the season, although there's no information available on the injury. The former second-round pick, who turned 23 yesterday, is in danger of falling off this list if he can't return soon.
9. Ty Blach, LHP
Pre-season rank: 9
After dominating in High-A ball in 2013, the 23-year-old Blach was roughed up early in his Double-A debut, giving up two doubles and a single to start the game before settling down and getting through five innings with four runs (three earned) allowed in Richmond's Opening Day loss.
Blach didn't walk a batter, which was no surprise considering his impressive 1.8 BB/9 in High-A last season. Without overpowering stuff, though, Blach might need to stay away from the plate a bit more against Double-A hitters.
It will be interesting to see how the lefty adjusts in his next start, which will come in the upcoming series at Bowie.
8. Mac Williamson, RF
Pre-season rank: 7
After posting an .879 OPS with 25 homers and 89 RBI with the High-A San Jose Giants in 2013, Williamson was surprisingly sent back to the level to start the 2014 season. However, it's simply a case of the 23-year-old dealing with a shoulder injury that is limiting him to the designated hitter spot at the moment, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose-Mercury News.
Once he can play the outfield regularly, he'll likely be promoted to Double-A Richmond. He'll need to pick up the pace, though, as he's off to a 1-for-13 start in four games with three walks and four strikeouts.
In the second game of the season, Williamson drew walks against rehabbing starter Josh Beckett and top prospect Julio Urias. Beckett also struck him out.
7. Heath Hembree, RHP
Pre-season rank: 8
While three fringy relievers—J.C. Gutierrez, David Huff and Yusmeiro Petit—who were given spots in the big league bullpen for the Giants have combined to allow seven earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched thus far, Hembree is off to a good start down in Triple-A.
The 25-year-old, who is closing for the Fresno Grizzlies, has tossed a pair of 1-2-3 innings in his two appearances with one save. He's yet to strike out a batter, although that shouldn't be a concern with such a small sample. He has a career 11.3 K/9 in the minors, struck out five batters in four spring innings and whiffed 12 in 7.2 scoreless innings during his first big league stint last September.
6. Christian Arroyo, SS
Pre-season rank: 5
At 18 years old, Arroyo is the seventh youngest player in the Low-A South Atlantic League, according to Baseball America. So it's not surprise that the 25th overall pick in last year's draft has been a bit overmatched thus far during his four-game stint with the Augusta GreenJackets.
In 16 plate appearances, the right-handed hitter has a single and a triple with no walks and two strikeouts.
The shortstop is also learning a new position. He started at second base on Opening Day, and manager Mike Goff said that Arroyo is expected to play there a lot this season, per David Lee of the Augusta Chronicle. Some scouts don't think he'll be able to stick at shortstop, and the Giants may already be convinced of that.
5. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
Pre-season rank: 6
Unlike Ty Blach, who was knocked around in Double-A Richmond's opener, the 21-year-old Blackburn shut down New Britain over five strong innings.
Blackburn started the game with three scoreless innings before allowing his only run in the fourth inning. It could have been worse, though, as he allowed two singles, a double and a walk. Fortunately, an inning-ending double play limited the damage.
The 6'2" right-hander allowed only one walk and five hits while striking out three.
4. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
Pre-season rank: 4
Through five innings of Mejia's start last week, he had a nearly identical Double-A debut (5.0 IP, ER, 3 H, 5 K) as starter Clayton Blackburn (5.0 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 3 K) did the game before.
However, he allowed two singles and a walk to open the sixth inning before being pulled for reliever Derek Law, who allowed two of the inherited runs to score.
The team's willingness to stick with the 20-year-old in his first Double-A game of the season shows how highly they think of the young left-hander, who had a 3.31 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 9.2 K/9 in 16 High-A starts last season.
3. Edwin Escobar, LHP
Pre-season rank: 2
Since making an impression in big league camp this spring by allowing only one run on one hit through his first six innings, Escobar has been roughed up a bit.
After allowing four earned runs in 2.2 innings during his final start of the spring on March 15—including a solo homer to Abraham Almonte of the Seattle Mariners—the 21-year-old wasn't able to bounce back in his Triple-A debut on Saturday at one of the hitter-friendliest venues in baseball.
Facing a Las Vegas 51's lineup that included Mets prospect Cesar Puello and former big leaguers Zach Lutz, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Taylor Teagarden, Escobar allowed four earned runs and 10 hits in 4.2 innings. Nine of those hits were singles, and the lefty also only walked one batter while striking out four.
He'll get his next start at Salt Lake.
2. Chris Stratton, RHP
Pre-season rank: 3
The 20th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Stratton made just one mistake in his High-A debut, allowing a fourth-inning solo homer to Rancho Cucamonga first baseman Chris Jacobs, his 32nd over three seasons in the California League.
Stratton struck out two hitters in a 1-2-3 fifth inning before calling it a day with an impressive line of one run, two hits, two walks and four strikeouts over five innings.
The 23 -year-old has a challenging season ahead in the hitter-friendly league, but he could be on the fast track to the majors if he can put up solid numbers there. His next test comes on Tuesday against a very good Lancaster squad with several top prospects, including the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Carlos Correa.
1. Kyle Crick, RHP
Pre-season rank: 1
Crick's much anticipated Double-A debut was a success, as he allowed only one run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts, helping Richmond even up the four-game series against New Britain at two games apiece.
One of the top pitching prospects in the game, Crick will be one to keep a close eye on should the big league team have starting pitching struggles later this season. In fact, No. 5 starter Ryan Vogelsong has to be on a short leash for the Giants after posting a 5.73 ERA in 2013. He wasn't impressive in his 2014 debut, either, as he allowed four earned runs and seven hits in four innings against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 21-year-old Crick isn't expected to take on a full workload this season after making only 14 starts in High-A during an injury-riddled 2013. If he's pitching well, though, the Giants could call him up for a string of starts during the summer.
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